Marvel NOW! – Review Post 4

Avengers Arena

“Welcome to Murder World”

Hot Damn! This book is gorgeous. The colors, the composition of pages…. this is one dead sexy book. That is… if you want to watch children kill each other.

Okay, let’s go ahead and shoot that particular elephant in the room. This book is based on Battle Royale/Lord of the Flies/Hunger Games. It acknowledges this in the first issue. The first 3 covers of this series are all homages to these series(The Lord of the Flies cover is EPIC!). It’s not a rip off, its a tribute. Still I can understand that some people do not want to read a series about teenagers killing each other, and that is perfectly understandable. This series is exactly what it says on the tin and I won’t be changing your mind. However for others, we may have discovered a rather interesting series.

Arcade, a failed, game-themed villain who has over the course of the years constructed elaborate deathtraps and “murder worlds” has decided to once again seize glory, this time constructing his greatest arena and pitting teenage heroes against each other. I am actually a big fan of most of Marvel’s teen series and loved seeing characters here, with members of the Runaways and Avengers Academy present(Arcade notes that the Jean Grey school has much better security), and while I understand that the Young Avengers aren’t present due to their new series I would have loved to see Patriot here. Many other characters come from the Braddock Academy, an organization that we know nothing about but most likely stems from the Captain British Corps and the Multiverse. One of the most expected things I heard about this series was that they wouldn’t follow through, you would have heroes believing in friendship and no one would kill each other except for C-Listers and newbies… And then Arcade kills one of the main characters in Issue One…. Horrifically. Arcade has set himself up as a God in this Murder World and no one can touch him but he can kill you with a snap of his fingers. Between those powers and the fact that the contestants have life bars I am pretty certain that this whole scenario is taking place in a virtual reality… which is perfectly fine, so long as they don’t cop out and reveal that no one really died. I honestly would love to see if this series could take things further, I mean what happens when there is a surviving group… how do they continue past that with what they have done. Hell, can you imagine the team you could create from the survivors of this? Still that remains speculation and we can only hope the author gets creative with the series past the initial arc.

Bottom Line:

Beautifully illustrated and smartly done, if the initial premise doesn’t turn you away then its well worth a read. Also, Arcade wins best villainous entrance of 2012

Cable and the X-Force

“The man’s a terrifyingly powerful telekinetic who’s has been unstuck in time since his birth. I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me his brain was made of dark matter, called itself ‘Nagillum’, and tasted like chocolate chip cookie dough.”

This is very strange damn book. While this is an X-Force title, Cable’s name in the front is not a mistake as this is without a doubt HIS book. Cable is currently in the modern era, his daughter Hope having cured his techno-organic virus that had held him back his entire life, he is now one of the most powerful psychics on the planet as well as loaded to bear. However since losing the virus he has been having prophetic dreams of destruction and Cable realizes its time to get the band back together. Forge is building his tech, including his new armor for his now atrophied arm, which shoots ROCKETS. (Seriously, his metal arm shoots rockets this is the most 90s thing you are going to read in the modern era besides for Bloodshot, albeit with a blessed absence of pouches. ) Dr. Nemesis has been brought in to deal with Cable’s constant headaches brought on by his new powers emerging, to be fair I know nothing about Nemesis but already I love this guy. Colossus is shown as well, being bribed onto the team with tech that will stabilize his mutation as he is constantly in flux since being touched by the Phoenix Force. Finally we have Domino and while I love how she is written… God do I hate how she is drawn. She constantly has this horrific scowl on her face and for some reason her hair is gray rather than black. Which is another thing… the art on this whole book is just kind of… off.

The colors for the whole book feel a bit off and while I can’t entirely put my finger on it, I feel like a large part of it is how they under-utilize the color black. They use it only for outlines and not for shadows or black uniforms(making black look like a really nasty washed out gray) and while doing this makes the colors stand out and the characters are clearly defined, the color choices that are made are bland and don’t hold interest. These pages should pop but they just sit there limply. Hopefully the art teams hits their stride soon and this book injects some more color into both its art and its story.

Bottom Line:

A series about a team of superpowered individuals who are kill and destroy at the command of the voiced in their leader’s head. Cable fans are sure to check it out but I wouldn’t okay this book for mass consumption yet.

Morbius: The Living Vampire

I am not a vampire.”
“I am not a villain.”
“I am not a super hero.

First off I want to apologize for keeping this series off my Marvel NOW! round-up, this one completely slipped under my radar. While I think I can safely say that we are are, as a culture, officially done with Vampires in cinema, they are having quite a damn good time in comics as of late. Both American Vampire and I, Vampire are two of the better written series ongoing at the moment, so while it may seem strange at first, now really is the best time for Morbius to get his own series.

This series jumps right into things, so while new readers may be slightly confused, Morbius’s backstory and lead up to this series is detailed in Amazing Spider-Man 699.1, which may as well have just been a #0 for this series as it serves as a form of ‘backdoor pilot’ for Morbius. To start with my initial opinion of the series, the word that kept coming to mind was “hip”, this is a very “hip” comic issue, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. During the start of the book we have Morbius on the run and explaining his abilities and drawbacks of his Vampire-ish-ness, and while it is a completely unsubtle way of informing the audience, it does so in a self aware style that works, at least for me. The story of the issue itself is pretty strong for a first issue, beginning in media res and then rewinding to show how Morbius got there, it gives the illusion the the issue is longer than it actually is, I certainly felt I got the full bang for my buck. Morbius has escaped the Raft, a supervillain prison, and is currently hiding out in Brownsville, as apparently Superheroes don’t bother with that place and the cops are all worthless and corrupt. Morbius is trying to stay out of everyone’s way, however it is already apparent that he is not going to be able to stand for the people being stepped on. In actuality the series gives a Batman: Year One or early Nightwing in Bludhaven vibe, which isn’t a bad thing!

Bottom Line:

If you are a fan of Morbius or simply looking for a new hero amidst the rest of Marvel NOW!, this is a good first issue that is worth your consideration.

New Avengers

“Tell me… if I told you I came here to destroy a world, would you try and stop me?”

This issue one does not focus in a major way on the how this team comes together, instead focusing on T’Challa the Black Panther…. Don’t just stand there, GO BUY THIS ISSUE.

God I love T’Challa, and this issue is almost a love letter to him, but we will get to that, first off we need to talk about the Marvel Illuminati. The Illuminati were a group of Marvel’s greatest heroes who had come into possession of the Infinity Gems, each member holding one and thus creating a system of checks and balances against each other and hopefully preventing any one person from ever possessing the full set. Eventually meeting began taking place in which they began to talk about the future of the world and how to lead things. T’Challa recognized the folly in this and left the table, knowing that this would eventually lead to fallout and they shouldn’t be meeting in secret to lord over others to decide their futures. Almost every decision the Illuminati made would come back to haunt them and the would eventually disband. Now onto Black Panther. First off let me say how much I love how Wakanda is displayed here. The most technologically advanced nation on the planet that chose to retain its tribal aesthetic, you see how the technological and the archaic meet in a wonderful anachronism, it delicious. The head proponent of this is Black Panther, who at first appears to be wearing a simple black bodysuit and necklace. However as the issue goes on you see the subtle changes his suit makes as it works with him, his mask melting away and reforming as he needs it, camouflaging his presence as he enters combat, hell, he even fit a teleporter in there.

The issue revolves around a new albeit familiar threat arising. T’Challa discovers a strange barrier and when he steps beyond it he sees another planet above ours and speaks to beings who approach his Earth from theirs. From the villain’s dialogue we are able to glean that she is from a different Earth and that she has traveled through many, her goals and origins appearing to fall into the same mythos as Ex Nihilo’s from the Avengers series(which makes sense as these two series are supposedly a paired set). Upon realizing the scope of this, T’Challa summons the Illuminati, worrying that by doing so he has damned himself.

Bottom Line:

Well worth the read. This serves powerfully as a first issue and wisely delegates the gathering of the team to the last two pages. This is going to be one of the most important books of Marvel NOW! and I am very curious already. Also it start T’Challa already and Beast will be joining shortly. BUY THIS SERIES!