“We just took out the Avengers without lifting a finger. How do you think you’ll do?” – Marvel Now leans into the home stretch

DN_UXM2_1Marvel Now is approaching the end of the relaunch with only Brian Wood’s awesome sounding all-female X-Men launching later this month. Before we get into one of my most anticipated titles of the year, let’s go through the last batch of new and relaunched titles. With the relaunch nearly done, after the release of “X-Men,” we’ll get one last review and a look back to see if any series have changed from when I first took a look.

Guardians of the Galaxyguardians_of_the_galaxy_001_2013_01I was extremely impressed by Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven’s awesome Point One issue of the series and it’s been a hell of a fun ride since. With only two proper issues of the story out, Bendis’ influences are clear. His Guardians are one part Star Wars, one part Star Trek, a whole lot of angsty father-son drama and a core cast of hyper-violent shit talkers.

Between Iron Man’s retorts and Rocket Raccoon shouting, “Blam! Murdered you!” after every kill, it’s a fun group of characters, even when Peter Quill’s “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND ME, DAD” drama gets a little too heady. Add McNiven’s wide-screen sensibility to the awesome orbital action sequences and this is a summer popcorn comic of the highest order.

The Verdict – “The Guardians” are a hell of a lot of fun, one of Marvel’s standout action comics and a perfect fit for Bendis’ chatty dialogue. Definitely give this one a try.

NovaNova_2_Preview2“Nova” suffers quite a bit in relation to “Guardians.” With another abandoned child finding himself to be a potential savior of the cosmos, Jeph Loeb is giving it is all to make protagonist and future Nova Corps hero, Sam, stand out.

It’s a classic origin story and it has a real cartoony style that makes the whole thing a lot of fun but it just doesn’t feel unique. Where Rocket Raccoon is a fun, pivotal character in “Guardians,” here he feels superfluous and forced. It’s clear big things are coming for the series, what with a  Chitauri invasion and a double cross from Gamora, but wake me up when that happens.

The Verdict: If you were asking to read the early issues of Ultimate Spider-Man but in space, this is pretty much exactly what you wanted, you weirdo.

Secret Avengerssecretavengers1You really have to give it to Marvel, they know how to cross promote the hell out of their movies but “Secret Avengers” may be the most blatant example of this. It’s clear the only reason the characters were chosen is to follow up on interest from the movies and that laziness shows. Here, Nick Fury, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Agent Coulson and Director Maria Hill do secret missions that have to stay super secret for entirely unexplained reasons. SHIELD tries to destabilize a group of villains trying to rule a country, pull off recon in Madripoor and fight AIM scientists but the nature of the world’s dumbest plot device means none of the agents remember the mission.

The first three issues are incoherent messes, filled equally with characters who behave like ciphers and twists that were both inevitable and unexplainable. Why does Fury shoot Hawkeye in the first issue? Did they really need to use Taskmaster to overthrow the Axis? How is AIM not in trouble for blatantly murdering government officials at an international expo? I don’t know and we shouldn’t care.

The Verdict – “Secret Avengers” is right at the bottom of the Marvel Now barrel next to “Cable and the X-Force.” I’d rather take a memory erasing bullet than pick up another issue.

Uncanny X-MenUncannyX-men1_04bendisIf “All New X-Men” is the homage to the X-Men at its soapiest, “Uncanny X-Men” is Bendis’ take on Chris Claremont at his preachiest. Cyclops’ inner circle start aggressively recruiting new members and prepare for what Scott sees as an inevitable need for mutants to defend themselves. It’s a reasonable basis for the book and it provides an interesting counterpoint to the optimism of “All New X-Men,” and “Wolverine and the X-Men.”

It’s a very chatty book too, which does a bit of a disservice to the exceptional Chris Bachalo’s manga inspired super heroics. It’s a stunning, stylistic book and when Bendis’ political grandstanding meshes with Bachalo’s pencils, like it does wonderfully when Cyclops sees that his new team can tangle with Earth’s mightiest heroes, it’s like no other super-hero book on the market. Still, a lot more work needs to be done building up the book’s teenage supporting cast and it’ll be interesting to see if Bendis can pull it off.

The Verdict – Definitely worth a try. There’s a lot to love and it’ll be interesting to see where this goes.

Wolverinewolverine-v5-001-2013-digital-nahga-empire-13I like Wolverine as a character but I understand the criticism. His backstory is silly and ridiculously angsty, he doesn’t bring any natural drama to a story with his healing factor, he’s over exposed; all that’s pretty reasonable. It had never really bothered me until now though in Paul Cornell’s action-mystery story.

With only two issues on shelves, it’s a bit of a hard title to judge but it doesn’t feel necessary or all that interesting. Logan’s tracking down a kid who’s maybe a robot or possessed or something and SHIELD is trying to figure out what in the hell is actually going on. Where “Savage Wolverine” is a pulp-action ride, “WaTXM” is a stylish, fun look at the X-Men through the ages and “Wolverine MAX” gives a gripping, mature look at a man who’s haunted by his past and battles his demons for every piece of his fractured identity, this book puts our hero into a place that gives him no identity and no spin on the hero we all know so well.

The Verdict – Cornell put out one of my favorite books of last year and I’m sticking with it to see if the recently announced “Killable” arc will bring any new style to a flavorless series.

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