A few months ago Marvel decided to have a bit of a shake up. Rather than going for a reboot like DC and their new 52, they decided to do a game of creative musical chairs; writers and artists were paired with comics they’d never written for before. The point was that they would tell new, different stories about familiar characters, creating a great point for new readers to get into comics.
Some comics have gone the route of radical new stories, with the new Superior Spider-man being Doctor Octopus and the original 5 X-men being brought forth to the present day in All New X-men. Superior Spider-man has been very good, but Peter Parker’s presence since the first issue has had people wondering how long it will be before he’s back as Spider-man. Speculation has arisen that it will be before the next film comes out. Dan Slott continues his long run on Spider-man, this current storyline having been set up throughout Amazing Spider-man previously. The series does offer a new approach however, with Doc Ock attempting to out-do Parker, proving himself the superior Spider-man (hence the title).
All New X-men is probably my favourite series of Marvel NOW!. Brian Michael Bendis has taken on the main X-men books. Having written for Avengers for eight years, his decision to leave jump-started the shift around. Stuart Immonen started off as an artist for the series, becoming one of my favourite illustrators in the process. He gives the action scenes a real kinetic feel and all his characters are true to form. Originally the series focused on two different teams of X-men, present day Cyclops and his revolutionists and Cyclops from the past with his idealistic team-mates (including Jean Grey). The Original X-men see the present as a horrific future, with Cyclops having killed the Professor and Jean being dead, they strive to stay there and make things right however they can. Present day Cyclops’ storyline of creating a secret team of X-men to fight against the anti-mutant community, has spun out in to the series Uncanny X-men recently, the first issue dealing with a traitor in his midst. It’s an interesting new route for a character who has been tightrope walking the line of villain for some time now.
Others have used this shake-up as an opportunity to create new teams, particularly that of the Avengers. The main Avengers book focuses on a massive team, featuring a core group (the Avengers team featured in the film) with secondary team-mates there in case of a disaster requiring a larger team. Jonathan Hickman, has taken over the main Avengers book, previously having written for Fantastic Four. Jerome Opeña draws the first arc, doing a fantastic job to give the series a very realistic style and a film like scale. Some characters return such as Spider-man and Wolverine for instance. While many have never been Avengers before, some are seemingly used for precisely this reason. The first storyline saw an alien who believed he was a god plotting to wipe out life on Earth and start over, requiring everyone to be called in. Issues since have features smaller disasters and focused on the lesser known and brand new characters, to familiarise the audience with them.
Uncanny Avengers sees a team of Avengers primarily made up of X-men, with the aim being to deal with problems facing the mutant community. This effectively makes it an Avengers/X-men book, spinning out of last summer’s big event Avengers Vs X-men. The book has also pulled in one of my favourite artists, John Cassaday. Unfortunately, Cassaday has always been known for causing delays with the amount of time it takes him to draw each issue, this series is no exception. Since its release in October, the series has only produced 3 issues, effectively producing an issue every 6 weeks instead of every 4. This is even worse when you consider that All New X-men which launched a month later has released 7 issues, one being out every 2 weeks. It appears that after the upcoming 4th issue, he will be replaced by a different artist. While a shame, at least it will allow the book to be produced on a more regular basis.
Fantastic Four has been taken over by Matt Fraction. The main Fantastic Four book sees the original team travelling to a different dimension hoping to find a cure for a disease that’s slowly killing Mr Fantastic. FF features a back-up team who have been placed in charge while the main team are away. The main team were supposed to be gone for 4 minutes of our time, causing everyone to believe they are dead. Both of these books offer different approaches to the classic team. There are also many more books I haven’t had the time (or frankly money) to read.
Overall the Marvel Now! event offers readers a great opportunity to jump on to books they haven’t read before, as well as offering new stories for old fans. If you’re a regular reader, a lapsed fan or someone who’s just seen Avengers and wants to get into the comics, it covers the whole spectrum. Check out some of these books today.