By Jon Durmin
Holey moley true believers! Can you believe we’re already entering into the all-new, all-different Marvel U? (A post-Secret Wars existence! (I wouldn’t blame you if you can’t given the repeated delays on that core, universe-redefining series. Whose idea was this again?) Is it something totally different? The 616 with some minor changes? Let’s see what’s in store for this first four titles to herald the new and different this week.
What we know: 8 months after the revival of the Marvel Universe, Peter Parker’s fledgling Parker Industries has boomed into a global company, and his “bodyguard”, the Amazing Spider-Man, has gone global with it! In this sensational return the all-new, international Spider-Man is swinging around the world, working with S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Mockingbird, and putting the pedal to the metal in a brand new Spider-Mobile to foil an all-new, revived Zodiac organization!
Pros: Long time Spider-Scribe Dan Slott is continuing his duties as the lead author of the headline book of the Spider-side of the Marvel U. Fans that have stuck with Slott through the thick and thin know he can shake up the Spidey-status-quo to impressive effect. Series illustrator Giuseppe Camuncoli’s stunning and energetic pencil work isn’t hurting anything here either.
Cons: Another major change for the Spidey status quo? For all the hemming and hawing about returning Parker to his roots as a down-on-his-luck, young hero a few years ago (“One More Day”) this seems to be yet another story that pulls him further from those roots and that identity. I’m all for character growth, and evolution of an extended time-table, but Marvel seems to be at cross-purposes with their message of what they want Spidey to be. In many ways the purported dynamic of Parker as a cutting edge global captain of industry with Spider-Man as his purported bodyguard is quite similar to the original Iron Man concept (though I think it’s relevant that Parker Industries is a medical technology company and not an arms manufacturer). Furthermore, Slott writing the core Spider-Man title is hardly new or different. If anybody can weather Peter Parker through a change in his status quo, a change fans might be wary of, and make them completely fall for it, Slott is the man with the proven track record for it. Lastly, a $6 cover price for the first issue may seem like a lot, but this issue weighs in at 72 pages, quite a value relative to the typical 22-pages for $4, and is set to include back-up stories to give you a taste of other corners of the Spider-side of Marvel so this may not be as much a con as it first seems.
Contest of Champions
What we know: A bunch of cosmic “players” compete in a game that pits pawns from different times and places in the Marvel U against one another. On one side the Collector and his aide the Maestro manage a legion of heroes and anti-heroes. On the other,a team of villains is coached by the Grandmaster? Who will survive? Who will earn the right to escape to home from the Battlerealm? What is the purpose of this tournament of titans and what’s the big deal about Iso-9?
Pros: Al Ewing has proven himself an able author of superhero tales with a more classic feel in his Avengers work, and Paco Medina’s sharp line-work and staging animates just about any panel he draws. Fans of some characters we haven’t seen in awhile are in for a treat too; Outlaw (the British Punisher), Guillotine, the classic version of Venom, Gamora and many others are all on deck. Two guys named Ares and the Sentry/Void are around too. . . remember what happened the last time these powerhouses ran into each other?
Cons: The focus characters aren’t exactly A-list at this point. For some readers that may be a boon, for others it may shut down interest in this title. Building a series around the mechanics of a video game may alienate another cross-section of potential readers (though it should be noted that this has been done to success and acclaim by other publishers). It’s also been heavily hinted by Ewing that this is going to tie into the other series he’s on deck to write for Marvel (Ultimates and New Avengers) which may attract fans of those series, but turn off readers who don’t want to have to read everything to get the whole story.
What we know: Wolverine and the X-Men collaborators Jason Aaron & Chris Bachalo reunite to work their magic on the good Doctor’s first solo series in years!
Pros: Aaron and Bachalo are proven talents. Both are known individually and as a team for bringing a quirkiness to their work that is appropriate to a character like Doctor Strange. Between his major role in Secret Wars, his upcoming addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and this creative team, Strange has quite the “it” factor at the moment.
Cons: Aaron and Bachalo’s flavor of comics may be beloved by many fans, but both (especially Bachalo) have very vocal detractors who don’t care for their distinctive styles. As for our title hero, it bears consideration that Doctor Strange hasn’t had an ongoing series of his own since 1996. That’s almost twenty years; longer than many potential readers have been alive. If Aaron and Bachalo can’t find a way for the character to connect with contemporary audiences it may be difficult to sustain the series long enough to enjoy a boost of interest from the November 2016 movie.
Invincible Iron Man
What we know: Marvels premiere writer re-teams with the rising star artist who helped him launch an all-new Spider-Man to lead the charge into the post-Secret Wars Marvel U with one of Marvel’s most recognizable heroes.
Pros: Brian Michael Bendis has been one of Marvel’s most stalwart and prolific writers over the last 15-years. Love him or loathe him, this guy writes and sells compelling comics. He’s no stranger to the Tony Stark character either, having repeatedly scripted him through years of Avengers comics. David Marquez is an artist whose star continues to rise and always seems to charm readers with his pencils. This is another proven team, known for their top-selling collaborations on Ultimate Spider-Man and All-New X-Men. Iron fans should be thrilled by the fact that Marvel is positioning Tony Stark front and center at the core of this all-new, all-different Marvel. Longtime followers of Stark will be extra pleased to know that Tony will finally be following up on the pre-time runs out reveal that Howard and Maria Stark were not his true parents!
Cons: If you’re sick of Iron Man being in the middle of everything or Brian Michael Bendis writing every 2 or 3 major events at Marvel this may not be the best new, nor the series to spend your bucks on.