Marvel NOW started a while ago, but I’ve only just caught up with nine of its titles, so I thought I might write a brief review for those wondering if it’s still worth it or not. There will be some spoilers going down.
I think only the New Avengers title has really impressed so far. Not a surprise for those who have followed the Hickman/Epting pairing through their excellent Fantastic Four/FF run, and this continues in a similar cosmic-epic vein. The Illuminati reforms, this time with Black Panther (who refused the last time), Captain America (who is now no longer on the roster) and Beast (in place of the dead Xavier). While the story is gripping, the really well-done part is the careful character shading: for example, Beast remaining in his seat after Strange mind-wipes Captain America, Reed’s strange chemistry with the Black Swan and Captain America’s principled but hopeful stance pit against everyone else’s prioritisation of survival. If there’s one title to pull in this bunch, the New Avengers is a prime choice.
All-New X-Men is a pretty good X-men comic, partly because of the strength of the status quo AvX left us, and because of the rather insane idea of the original five being time-shifted into the present. That said, the writing and art is nothing to write home about, and I’d rather it hurry up with the Cyclops Rebellion storyline (or perhaps give them another book).
The other three X-men books (Cable and X-Force, Uncanny X-Force, and X-men Legacy) are all the sort of team book that Marvel churns out regularly. They’re not bad at all (although Uncanny X-Force is still at #1), and they centre on interesting characters (Legion in X-Men Legacy, and the whole team in Cable and X-Force, Hope, Cable, Doctor Nemesis, Domino, Colossus and Forge, are pretty fun characters). Get them if you’re a big enough fan of the X-Men like I am.
The two Fantastic Four titles are a toss-up. They’re less ambitious than the Hickman titles, which is great for those who just want the sort of sci-fi adventure story that the Fantastic Four does so well. The FF is much slower (too slow in my opinion), but the art is good and the story is starting to get interesting, so I’ll recommend staying on it for now.
Hickman’s Avengers is him at his worst in my opinion. He comes up with a distinctly unimpressive concept (an expandable Avengers roster), wraps it with a fancy graphic chart, and sends cosmic villains at them with no real purpose. It’s a book that is going nowhere, and it relies too much on some sort of mystical Avengers worship to work (I mean it is just some superhero team. Rogers needs to stop making it sound like some unbeatable bastion of humanity because it isn’t.) #5 that came out just this week is a rather run of the mill origin story, and next week Captain Universe gets her issue in the spotlight. Not worth the 4 dollars a fortnight.
The Uncanny Avengers title is apparently the flagship title of Marvel NOW!, which I suppose explains why it is so terrible. Three X-Men and three Avengers are randomly tossed into a team, and then set to fight a ridiculous villain: Red Skull who becomes the world’s most potent telepath by having Xavier’s brain implanted into his. Lame. Thor especially. They need to stop randomly tossing Thor into titles just to have him beaten up by random villains.