Marvel’s latest NOW! initiative may not have gotten off to the best start, particularly given the fact that so many of these new titles and storylines were meant to rise out of the ashes of the as-yet-to-be-concluded Civil War II event. This isn’t the first time scheduling delays have caused confusing overlaps between “seasons” of Marvel’s releases, and that hasn’t gone unnoticed among comic book readers, many of whom are expressing their rightful frustration by avoiding new series launches. We’re now in week 6 of the “shattered” NOW! initiative, but still two weeks away from the scheduled release of the final chapter of Civil War II. And delays aside, the series just hasn’t been very good. Whether or not it’s fair, much of the heat falls on Brian Michael Bendis. He’s Marvel’s chief architect, and, as the hardest working guy at The House of Ideas over the last decade-plus, it’s only natural to wonder if maybe he’s just feeling a little worn out. Superhero burnout is real, folks. And, the really scary thing is, history tells us it has a very low recovery rate.
But here’s the thing. Bendis isn’t slowing down. On the contrary, he seems out to prove that his knack for telling some of the most compelling and entertaining capes n’ tights stories of our generation hasn’t cooled in the slightest. The continuing adventures of Miles Morales in Spider-Man; new titles Infamous Iron Man and Jessica Jones; and especially this week’s Invincible Iron Man #1, make the bloated and unwieldy Guardians of the Galaxy and Civil War II runs look like company mandates that steered the scribe too far from his home.
Despite success with team books of established characters (New Avengers) and pivotal events (House of M), Bendis, like Peter David before him, seems to work best when building new corners of Marvel’s universe from the ground up. And if fans that turned away in frustration give these new books a chance, they’ll be delighted to see the kind of energy, sense of adventure, and youthful exuberance that made us all fall in love with four-color heroics for the first time.
These are the stories Bendis really wants to tell. Jessica Jones as the reincarnation of Jinx. The truth behind Tony Stark’s real parents. The mystery behind Marvel’s most legendary villain donning a white hat and crimson-and-gold armor. New heroes like Miles and Riri working out their powers and discovering that being special truly is special.
Although she was introduced during Bendis’s All-New All-Different Invincible Iron Man series, this book is a perfect introduction to Riri Williams, the super-genius teenager who has built her own flying suit of armor and, in a world without Tony Stark, is determined to make a difference. Accompanied by the beautiful artwork of Stefano Caselli (The Amazing Spider-Man, Secret Warriors), this first issue weaves Riri’s origin story into a present-day battle with Animax (who?) in Wyoming (what?) And it’s fantastic.
DC Rebirth: Week 25
If there’s one thing this comic does that makes it feel a little different it’s the attention to Kara’s personal life. I’m not wholly invested in her story or anything, but I like reading about how Kara struggles to fit in this world, and having her be “so smart she’s stupid,” adjusting to Earth’s primitive technology is more interesting than her just excelling at everything. Instead of being smart, it’d be interesting to see her go full jock or something. Orlando does a good job of making Kara sympathetic, and I like how Cyborg Superman is getting some play. As for the artowrk, Ching’s got kind of a dirty style I’m not crazy about. A lot of the characters’ heads look like the Superman crest, except squashed. This is not a terrible book, but I’m not convinced it’d be worth following. – tyrannoflores