Guest Author - Eugene Bradford
Marvel NOW! is a huge initiative by the comics publisher which sees the re-launch and shuffling of creators on numerous titles as well as the creation of new series. Differing itself from DC Comics New 52, this move is not a reboot of the universe. This serves as a great jumping on point for new readers as well as bringing lapsed readers back into the fold. Further separating itself from their DC counterpart, Marvel Comics has been rolling these books out in staggered releases so as not to overload readers with a large amount of books. That often forces competition with its own books.
Some fans have voiced their displeasure in the re-launching of several titles which seemed to serve no purpose beyond having series with a brand new “#1” issue. One of the biggest complaints is the shipping schedule of the new books. Some series have shipped 2-3 issues in a month. Some of those releases came in back-to-back weeks. This re-enforces that self-competition notion. Despite these complaints, many of the books have received great reviews. The following are some of my recommendations as well as some you should approach with caution.
All-New X-Men teams writer Brian Michael Bendis, penciller Stuart Immonen, inker Wade Von Grawbadger, colorist Marte Gracia and letterer Cory Petit. Following the events of Avengers vs. X-Men and AvX: Consequences, Beast travels to the past to gather his younger teammates to show them what has happened in the future. The X-Men of both time periods come face-to-face and it goes just about as well as you think it could.
Indestructible Hulk sees Bruce Banner taking the next step in juggling his life as the man and scientist with that of the Hulk. This series is written by Mark Waid, penciled by Leinil Francis Yu, colored by Sunny Gho and lettered by Chris Eliopoulos. Banner strikes a deal with S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill which gives them use of the Hulk in exchange for a lab which would allow him to use his intelligence for the good of the world.
Guided by writer Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribic, Thor: God of Thunder follows the Norse god back into the realm of the fantastic. Joining Aaron and Ribic are colorist Ive Svorcina and letterer Joe Sabino. The story is told from three periods in time, from Thor in different stages of his life. Thor is on the search for someone referred to as the God Butcher. As the name implies, this character has gone some time and through great distances destroying Gods.
There are several other titles I recommend, which have already been running but are now a part of Marvel NOW! One of those is Captain Marvel written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and previously painted by Dexter Soy. Carol Danvers is back with a new moniker and costume. Hawkeye written by Matt Fraction, drawn by David Aja, colored by Matt Hollingsworth and lettered by Chris Eliopoulos has been an absolute blast. A final title I suggest is Journey into Mystery written by Kathryn Immonen, drawn by Valeri Schiti, colored Jordie Bellaire and lettered by Clayton Cowles. The recent change in focus puts Sif in the spotlight and follows her hunger for action.
In an effort to show a full perspective, here are some titles you may want to avoid. X-Men Legacy written by Simon Spurrier, penciled by Tan Eng Huat, inked by Craig Yeung, colored by Jose Villarrubia, and lettered by Cory Petit. This series, technically a direct re-launch, features Legion, the son of the now deceased Professor Charles Xavier. Legion carries numerous personalities each possessing their own power. The writing nor the visuals are strong enough to keep fans of Legion or new readers around for long.
Wolverine and the X-Men has been a great book with writer Jason Aaron and the several artists that have drawn it including Chris Bachalo and Nick Bradshaw. I list it last because of the discrepancy between that and the current story arc which is rather weak. I strongly suggest waiting until issue #24 before jumping onto this series. By that point, the series will be on the next story.
You don’t need extensive knowledge of these characters to be entertained by these series. Nor do you need to be longtime fans of them. There are more books due running under the NOW! banner and many of them look great. Join us in the forums to discuss all of these further.