As Marvel Now! rocks and rolls on, we continue our look at the books of Marvel NOW!
FF is the companion series to Fantastic Four, also written by Matt Fraction, with art by Mike Allred. Where the main book is a big science fiction adventure, FF takes on a more familiar Fractionian tone: offbeat characters, wry humor and a huge sense of fun. It’s more like Defenders and Casanova than Iron Man and Thor: and that’s what makes this book so much fun. It’d be really hard to follow a run like Jonathan Hickman’s, and Fraction doesn’t. He’s set a different tone by sending the main group on a star trek, and leaving the Foundation on Earth to have some weird science adventures. Great companion piece, but it also stands well on its own. The book is definitely worth a look at!
The main Avengers book is now being passed into the hands of Jonathan Hickman, with art by Jerome Opena. Honestly, I know the Marvel guys don’t wanna hear this, but it reminds me of Justice League Unlimited: the Avengers main roster is captured by an enemy, and Captain America wants to expand the roster to help stop a new threat. Hickman teases us in the first two issues, but the problem is, we’ve all been here before: that’s why I mention the reference to JLU. JLU was a great series, and Hickman’s a great writer, but we’ve been here before. That’s kind of a frustrating thing when dealing with a new/restarted series: you tread some ground already previously walked on. Is that to say that this is a bad book? NO. NOT AT ALL. I love Hickman’s work, and I can’t wait for the rest of the series, the book just suffers from the fact that we’re getting it one chapter at a time, but isn’t that a comment on how good Hickman is by enticing us to come back? GIVE ME MORE NOW!
Hickman’s other Avengers book, this one plays with a Brian Michael Bendis concept: the Illuminati. The elite cabal of Marvel’s best and brightest, who decided to run things without acknowledging or consulting their friends and family. Black Panther once told these men that this was foolhardy, but now he needs them, in order to save the world from a threat from beyond their dimension. Another slow builder, but it’s definitely got a lot of potential. Hickman has mastered the slow burn, and it drives me bananas waiting for the next book. The fact that Steve Epting is drawing this book doesn’t hurt either. His gorgeous art and Hickman’s storytelling have worked wonders before (See the Death of Human Torch), and they will hopefully continue to bring their A-Game… so far, so good.
My sentimental favorite of all the Marvel NOW! series… Avengers Arena! Okay, so you look at it and you think: “Oh, ANOTHER Battle Royale/Hunger Games clone” and sure, it does seem like it. The book takes a bunch of teenage heroes, has Arcade kidnap them and place them on an island, and let them kill each other. Why? We don’t know, other than sick amusement… and that’s a problem. Battle Royale and Hunger Games both have a draw to it other than the obvious kill sprees: Battle Royale has the struggle between youth and adulthood and Hunger Games has the war between the Districts… Avengers Arena? Who knows? Writer Dennis Hopeless definitely puts a lot of heart into the book, with great characterization and heart-rending moments… but the reason this book is a must read is one of the greatest characters no one likes… DARKHAWK. Read it for the Darkhawk, my friends, read it for Darkhawk.
That’s all for this week, until next time–
“It’s my gift, it’s my curse. Who am I? I’m–”