Punching Through Reality #4
Marvel NOW!, Marvel Now, and Marvel Then
By Ryan Miller
Due to the large confusion stemming from Marvel's recent announcement regarding a relaunch, I figure it would be a good time to clear up any misconceptions. Marvel NOW! is a marketing technique we've seen previously from the publisher and is in no way similar to DC's New 52. Before you get your nerd rage on, I assure you we've seen this before.
Marvel NOW! is another attempt to gain new readership by relaunching titles with brand-spankin' new #1 issues and nothing more. It seems ever since the announcement there have been many dumbfounded individuals claiming Marvel is simply grabbing onto the New 52 bandwagon with intent to start from scratch. These people are idiots with a reading comprehension of a first grader.
While you might be offended by my candor in saying so, reading a headline and skipping the content within is just stupid. Every article on the subject promotes the relaunch and comforts the reader by stating this isn't meant to be a clean slate forever wiping away fifty years of continuity. Of course, this doesn't mean it's not a cash-grab. Here's proof of everything I said thus far:
"It is not a reboot. We don’t travel back in time, into the future, or to an alternate universe. Marvel NOW! respects the investment—emotional and financial—that long-term fans have made in the Marvel Universe, and this story takes place in a Marvel Universe they can recognize, one that grows out of Avengers Vs. X-Men. That said, these stories will be accessible to lapsed readers—the guy who likes, say, Captain America, but doesn’t know where to start—and anyone who saw a Marvel movie or heard the buzz about Marvel NOW!" -Axel Alonso
Special thanks to Axel for nearly immediately pointing out the obvious question that people are still asking, even after his statement. To all those screaming their neckbeards off about Marvel copying DC: While Marvel and DC frequently rip off the other publisher, these relaunches aren't anything new to Marvel nor are they in anyway ripping off DC for this particular media push. For those that need further clarification, DC is entering the second year of its reboot, a tactic that has erased previous DC continuity entirely, while Marvel is giving us a whole new batch of first issues so people will stop asking the often repeated "Where do I start?" question.
Marvel already made their own version of the New 52 and with the added bonus of not removing its original line. It's called the Ultimate line. Maybe you've heard of it. Back when Joe Quesada took over as EIC, he gave us a brand new line of books starting with Ultimate Spider-man to great success. Before that Marvel did another reboot in the form of the eye-gougingly horrific Heroes Reborn with Rob Liefeld. Marvel clearly had the foresight to rip DC off ten or so years before DC's very own reboot, though without the entire line-wide cancellations.
The New 52 was a way to draw new readers and put forth a single continuity in a single universe, something DC has rarely had. Over the years the company has become famous for its often appearing Crisis continuity fixers and, while its not too terribly hard to figure out, they figured starting from scratch might help alleviate some of the headaches from those who don't speak comics. No biggie. There are many great titles from DC even after the reboot.
Are we starting to understand the differences? Good.
Moving on I'll submit to you that Marvel has done the relaunch game many times. Beyond Marvel NOW! the most recent relaunch has been the recent Heroic Age relaunch less than three years ago where we found that New Avengers would become a newer New Avengers and other Avengers titles would surface one without the word "Mighty" and another adding the word "Secret". Before that, the Disassembled arc culminated into a cancellation of many Avengers related titles with susequent relaunches shortly after. To that point, we saw Iron Man relaunched by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov, Captain America by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting, the original New Avengers with Brian Michael Bendis and David Finch, and Thor by J. Michael Straczynski and Oliver Copiel. Before that we had the Marvel Knights relaunch and prior to that we had the Heroes Return. Even X-Men was brought back in the 70s under a relaunch. So sit down and shut up because there is precedent to this.
Moving further from my previous rant, I think taking a look at what Marvel NOW! will be offering. With tons of cancellation issues in the coming months we also see some interesting creative shake-ups that might tickle your fancy.
Rick Remender is putting out a curious title called Uncanny Avengers, with the amazing John Cassaday on art duties, which obviously combines X-Men and The Avengers into one sandwich. The Uncanny Avengemen will feature Captain America, Thor, Scarlet Witch, Rogue, Havok, and of course Wolverine since he's in every team ever now. Remender will also be scribing Captain America with the not-so-amazing John Romita Jr. after Brubaker leaves his incredible run behind for more creator owned work with other publishers. Brubaker fans will be happy that he is staying on the new-ish Winter Soldier series. Remender is quickly becoming a popular writer at Marvel and is sure to deliver something completely different from the previous run. That's of course not to say it's going to be bad, but more to enforce the fact that Remender has a very different writing style than Brubaker. I couldn't imagine what Ed's take on Frakencastle would look like, no more than I can imagine Remender's take on Daredevil.
Bendis is still around to fuck around with franchises and this time he's got the X-Men on the bill. Bendis is taking the original X-Men and bringing them into modern times through time travel. You didn't think Jean Grey would be gone forever did you? I'm interested to check it out nearly as much as I worry it will suck, if that help.
Mark Waid is joining to Lenil Yu for Indestructible Hulk which sounds promising to me. Mark Waid is probably one of the best writers in comics and, while I don't read many Hulk stories, I'm interested on his take on the jolly green giant. Waid will also continue writing the phenomenal Daredevil.
Though he's almost entirely been off my radar until recently, I can't stress how excited I am for the not one but two Avengers book he'll be helming with artists Jerome Opena and Steve Epting for Avengers and another new New Avengers, respectively. The team is said to feature 18 members. That's a lot of Avengers. Though I myself haven't read any of Hickman's work, he gets almost nothing but praise for making the Fantastic Four relevant again as well as his prior Image work for being stellar. I'll be watching this pretty closely.
Kieron Gillen and Greg Land are doing Iron Man and I expect a lot of porn/movie traces from Land. I'm not sure what to expect from Gillen.
Fantastic Four and it's sister series, FF, are being handed over to Matt Fraction with Mark Bagley and Mike Allred, respectively. We'll see how this one works out.
Jason Aaron is bringing his particular brand of crazy to Thor with Esad Ribic. Jason Aaron has been known, to me, as writing some pretty ridiculous cape books in the spirit of fun. His Ghost Rider was basically a B-Movie thrill-ride and definitely worth checking out if you don't mind not taking it too seriously. His Wolverine and Hulk are said to be just as ridiculous, though I've not had the pleasure of reading much of them. On the flip-side, Aaron also is great at intense drama, as evidenced by his work on the Vertigo series Scalped. I'm really not sure which category it will fall into, but I'm hoping for a mixed bag of serious/ridiculousness.
And finally, a series I never thought I'd be interested in: Deadpool. It's true that I've never found Wade Wilson's stories very engaging, but the writers on board are what have me intrigued. Comedians Brian Posehn & Gerry Duggan are endeavoring to write the red-and-black Spider-man while Tony Moore will be illustrating to form a team that Rob Liefeld calls D-listers. True Story.
I hope that with all this hype that Marvel are able to put out some spectacular stories that actually do warrant this kind of relaunch. With the end of the Avengers vs X-Men coming soon, I certainly hope that the landscape is changed for the better. Granted, the PR guys with Quesada and Alonso could be talking out of their collective ass. However I do have faith considering Marvel certainly has the talent for it and, while I expect a few bags of shit, I'm sure we'll get some incredible stories starting this October when the relaunch begins. Here's hoping.