With all the hype and anticipation surrounding the three-month launch window of Marvel NOW!, we thought we'd share the CBR Staff's impressions of the publishing initiative's titles before the books hit stands. Check out the top picks of the CBR Staff below and then head to the forums to discuss what you're most excited about in the coming months.
Shaun Manning, Staff Writer (Profile): Art by Jamie McKelvie or Kieron Gillen writing Loki again alone would have made "Young Avengers" my top pick for Marvel NOW!, but with the "Phonogram" band getting back together -- I don't know that I've ever been more excited for a Marvel book. If this doesn't become my favorite superhero comic by the end of the first issue, I'll be sorely disappointed.
Also looking forward to Sam Humphries' take on "Uncanny X-Force," just 'cause I think Sam's a great writer and X-Force done well is always a treat. And very curious about "Avengers Arena" -- yes, yes, "Hunger Games"/"Battle Royale" and all that, but the concept is older than that a good interpretation always resonates. It'll either be really good, or it won't. Dennis Hopeless's "X-Men Season One" was very nice, so I've got reason to hope.
Finally, "All-New X-Men" -- wasn't into it when I first heard it announced, but the more I think of it the more I think there are some really intriguing story possibilities. And, you know, that Bendis guy has made some pretty decent comics. Bringing the original X-Men into the present restores a bit of the original concept that these are students, while retaining the marquee names and -- crucially -- giving them a new twist on the mission. Scott Summers seeing where Xavier's dream leads is one thing, but seeing where it leads him personally is where the meat is. Will also be interesting to have this Jean running around.
Jennifer Cheng, Reviewer (Profile): I'm cautiously looking forward to "Secret Avengers" by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross. I'm a fan of Spencer and Joe Eisma's "Morning Glories," in it for the long haul. I have been sporadically but methodically reading through a lot of Spencer's backlist, including "Existence 2.0/Existence 3.0," "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents," "Forgetless," "Infinite Vacation," "Ultimate Comics" X-Men" and of course his run on "Thief of Thieves."
No other comics writer can match Spencer for unpredictable plot twists. I'd compare Spencer to the most successful genre writers in prose fiction, such as Agatha Christie and J.K. Rowling, in terms of his abilities to deliver plots that unwind with heart-thumping suspense and fine authorial control. Though all aspects of craft are important, I think good plotting is more rare and more difficult to achieve in any fictional medium than pretty prose, thematic depth, or even innovation and experimentation with form. Spencer's shown himself capable of writing sharp dialogue and addictively good characterization, though these aspects of his work are not as consistent. With "Secret Avengers," stakes will be high with the fan-favorite character Phil Coulson being revived.
The other Marvel NOW! book that I'm looking forward to picking up is "Morbius, The Living Vampire" by Joe Keatinge and Richard Elson. It's the oddball in the lineup, and I've liked Keatinge's work on "Glory."
Brian Cronin, Comics Should Be Good (Profile: CSBG / CBR): After seeing the amazing work that he did on the Ultimates, I can't wait to see what Jonathan Hickman has in store for us with the Avengers. The grand scope he showed on the Ultimates should work just as well in the Marvel Universe as it did in the Ultimate Universe. Heck, I'd say it might work even better since he has access to so many more characters in the Marvel Universe (one of the truly stand-out aspects of Hickman's "Ultimates" run was that he managed to deal with the relatively reduced cast of the Ultimate Universe and never make it feel like he was dealing with anything less than a full deck of characters - now that he actually has a full deck of characters? Watch out!)
Kelly Thompson, Reviewer (Profile: CSBG / CBR): Anytime Stuart Immonen is drawing a book I'm interested, when you make that book "All-New X-Men," it's pretty hard for me to turn it down. I like what Immonen and Bendis did on "New Avengers" and I'm excited to see what they can do here -- I just hope they stay together longer than they did on "New Avengers."
I'd probably read anything Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie did together, add to that the awesome Bryan O'Malley variant cover for "Young Avengers" and I'm definitely in.
I'm a big fan of "Battle Royale," "Hunger Games," "Lord of the Flies" and similar tales, and I've loved everything I've read thus far from Dennis Hopeless, so I'd say "Avengers Arena" is a definite for me -- Kev Walker's art is looking great as well.
I'm pretty well tapped out on singular "Deadpool" titles and prefer him as an ensemble character, but I admit the awesomely hilarious covers have me re-thinking it. I'm not sure Kathryn Immonen's new story on Journey Into Mystery counts as Marvel NOW! but I'm excited for that, as well as seeing Sif take the lead there. And I'd be reticent not to mention my excitement over Matt Fraction and David Aja's Hawkeye -- easily the best book Marvel is putting out right now -- I hope nothing ever stops that book!
Ryan Ingram, Contributing Writer (Profile): If Mike Allred’s drawing it, I’m there. But while monthly doses of Allred art is enough to make “FF” my most anticipated Marvel NOW! book, I can’t wait to see what Matt Fraction (who’s been killing it on “Hawkeye” with David Aja) has in store for this odd squad; Ant-Man, She-Hulk, Medusa and Miss Thing. If their “Point One” story is any indication for the tone of the book -- with Ant-Man dealing with grief through pop-art vandalism -- "FF" should be a standout.
Doug Zawisza, Reviewer (Profile): While we've gotten the first morsels of Marvel NOW!, there's quite a few newer titles still to come. Of the entire lot that has been announced, "Guardians of the Galaxy" has the biggest portion of my attention. It's in Marvel's best interest to have a successful comic franchise to match their upcoming motion picture brand. As far as the major wave in November -- or NOW!vember -- I'm really enthused about all of the books. Immonen on the original X-Men will be fun. Hickman on Avengers will be quite an adventure.
The one title I am actually looking forward to most of all is "Indestructible Hulk." I'm not the biggest fan of the green-skinned goliath, but I wasn't more than an occasional reader of "Daredevil" before Mark Waid took over that title. If anyone is going to find the right notes for me to become a Hulk fan, my money would be on Waid. Having Leinil Francis Yu along for some wildly unconventional art is an added bonus as Yu's style certainly plays to the heart of the Hulk mythology. Mark Waid knows how to write a good story and has proven as much with a wide swath of legendary characters. In November, Mark Waid adds the "Indestructible Hulk" to that list and he is sure to impress once again.
Michael May, Robot 6 (Profile: Robot 6 / CBR): Top of my list is easily "FF" by Matt Fraction and Mike Allred. It's such a weird and surprising team that I have no idea what to expect from it and I love that. I'll be ecstatic if we get 12 issues out of it, but it makes me happy that Marvel's even willing to take a chance on a series this kooky. Besides that, She-Hulk and Medusa are two of my favorite Marvel characters and Miss Thing is about to be, based on her name alone. I'm also looking forward to at least the first story in "Savage Wolverine," because Shanna. And if Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie can make Kate Bishop anywhere near as cool as she is in "Hawkeye" right now, I'll be a loyal "Young Avengers" reader too.
Ryan K. Lindsay, Reviewer (Profile): Basically for me everything Rick Remender touches turns to gold. He's written enough of my favourite books from the past decade that his street cred points mean I try everything of his on sight (in case you don't know what I mean see his "Frankencastle," "Uncanny X-Force," and "Last Days of American Crime" as a starter set). As much as "Uncanny Avengers" is that big shining star I'm drawn into by force of gravity, Remender's "Captain America" legitimately has me excited because I feel I might be getting something new here. He's mentioned channeling a sort of Kirby vibe and I'm ready for that in a modern Cap book. I want the Remender who drops story like its molten lava. If he can, this is my pick to be the stand out hit of the NOW! era.
I love Jason Aaron -- there's no doubting when he's on, he's a master, but my main reason for picking up "Thor: God of Thunder" is twofold: the three way time scale of young, modern and King Thor sounds fun and I simply love comics that play with time, and then there's the God Butcher. The name alone sells it but the concept of this Asgardian god killer is too good to miss. If this book is the sort of Aaron violent romp I love when he does it well then it'll be a true killer on the stands.
Steve Sunu, Staff Writer/Reviews Editor (Profile): I'm a sucker for the teenage Marvel heroes, so "Young Avengers" would already top my top picks for the relaunch, but the Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie pairing launches it way into first place. "Avengers Arena" brings back some of the "Runaways" characters, so I'll likely try it out for a few issues -- but the teen heroes I'm most looking forward to reading about will be the original five X-Men in Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen's "All-New X-Men" and the new mutants created after "AvX" in Jason Aaron's "Wolverine & the X-Men."
Dan Slott's "Superior Spider-Man" has my interest piqued -- especially as a longtime reader of "Amazing Spider-Man." While I'm sure things will be explained in "Amazing" #700, I'm really looking forward to seeing what Slott has next for the wall-cralwer. Oh, and I'm definitely going to pick up Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn and Tony Moore's "Deadpool." Dead U.S. Presidents? Ghost Benjamin Franklin? History just got awesome.
Which Marvel NOW! title are you most looking forward to? Head over to the forums and tell us which book you'll be picking up at launch.