Ranking Marvel NOW! 15 – 6

15
Iron Fist

Ed Brisson and Mike Perkins

Iron Fist #1 begins the way every Iron Fist story should, with Danny Rand recklessly throwing his fists in his search for something deeper. The book also uses first person narration in a similar way to the original incarnation of the series, which featured second person narration as a means of placing the reader in Danny Rand’s shoes. While “heroes without their powers” stories are not always spectacular, especially since they often lack the action of a traditional story, this book feels like the beginning of a promising journey for Danny. The colorful and gritty art also helps sell a martial arts world that, while somewhat dark, is also full of strange characters. Lastly, any Iron Fist book that uses the narration to accurately call each of Danny Rand’s expert techniques is fine by me. Iron Fist #1 Upward Cannon Punches and Tiger Tail Sweeps its way to success, even if it isn’t the most exciting book on the Marvel NOW roster. – IP

Better than the PM&IF book. Formulaic, but fun. I’m in for now. Brisson’s writing has potential, and Perkins’s grittiness gives this kung-fu epic the appropriate 70’s vibe. – MMDG

First collection: Iron Fist, Vol. 1: The Gauntlet (October)

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14
Moon Knight

Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood
beginning with #10

First off, Greg Smallwood’s layouts and Jordie Bellaire’s colors make this one trippy book. Delving into a character’s broken mind is something that comic books are very good at depicting. I already feel very into learning more about Marc’s fractured psyche and his quest to find out what is real and what isn’t. Lemire makes me want to read the next issue. – MeanOldPig

Collection: Moon Knight, Vol. 3: Birth and Death (October)

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13
Infamous Iron Man

Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev

Finally giving Doom the respect he deserves. This is a great idea for a book and the execution is wonderful. Not much else to say other than “hell yeah.” – IP

Great concept and I love this creative team. But… this should have been delayed until we saw the ultimate fate of Tony Stark in CWII. Hated reading about it in passing. – MMDG

First collection: Infamous Iron Man Volume 1 (June)

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12
Invincible Iron Man

Brian Michael Bendis and Stefano Caselli

Really good stuff. At the risk of calling this the Miles Morales maneuver, Bendis really seems to know what kinds of stories he wants to tell at this point. Also like the fact that the threads spinning through International Iron Man are being woven into this series. – MMDG

Excellent book. This does everything that a proper origin story should do, without being either overly familiar or needlessly convoluted. Riri has serious potential as a new Iron Man and the parallels between her story here and Tony Stark’s origin are both clear and earned. The art is excellent, as both the flashback scenes and the fight with Animax are able to convey pain, sorrow, and excitement with equal clarity. This is one of the best books of this Marvel NOW season. – IP

First collection: Invincible Iron Man: Ironheart, Vol. 1: Riri Williams (July)

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11
Gamora

Nicole Perlman and Marco Checchetto

Gamora is an engaging book. It has a slim roster of Gamora, Nebula, and Thanos so far, which is a great choice as so many books feel bloated. Gamora herself is well defined, and the art is expressive though inconsistent. – IP

This is great – story, art, everything. Not only is NOW! bringing new life to cosmic Marvel, but in this prequel-style tale (which, sadly, will likely just be a limited series), they’re tapping into the classic intergalactic origin stories as well. – MMDG

First collection: Gamora Volume 1: Momento Mori (July)

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10
Ms. Marvel

G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and Takeshi Miyazawa
beginning with #12

What are comics supposed to do? Entertain, mostly. I think. Maybe they’re just one of the many goods manufactured to satiate a demand and make money. I’m pretty sure that’s true, too. But do you know what I want from art, comics included? I want art to communicate something to me. I want to feel like there are people out there with feelings and something to say, and they want to express those things through a medium that can effectively articulate those ideas. That may be a tall order, but in today’s world of saturated media, I think it’s pretty easy to find people with something to communicate, and separate them from journeymen doing it for the money and from people who are just plain bad and don’t know what they’re doing. Every day I’m older, and I’ve become aware that every moment I spend, I’m not getting back, so when I decide to crack open a comic book, and even give it 10-20 minutes to read, I want to feel like it was time well spent.

I have felt that every single time I’ve read an issue of G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel.

This Marvel NOW! issue continues Wilson’s great run, and alongside the art team of Mirka Andolpho and Ian Herring, this has to be one of the best comics being printed right now. While other Marvel books take you across the universe, this book dares to tell an intimate adventure story in Karachi. While other Marvel characters are sliding back into business as usual after Civil War II, Kamala Khan is reflecting on her role in the conflict and its consequences. While some stories recycle the same tired teams-ups and fights, relying on character recognition to move units, Ms. Marvel takes risks.

Sure, it doesn’t have the flashy characters, and the action sequences are a little short, but more time is spent developing character, which has made it really easy for me to get invested in the book. And man, it looks great, too. I am a big fan of Adrian Alphona, but Alfonso is carrying the torch and putting out some great looking cartoons.

This first issue finds Ms. Marvel in a situation many teenaged heroes have found themselves in (I’m lookin’ at you, Spider-Man): Why do I keep being a hero? With her life in America painfully interrupted, she flies to Karachi to be with her relatives. Whatever she lost in CWII, she thinks she’ll find in her country of origin, but what she ends up with is not a simple “for the greater good” revelation. In fact, after an encounter with Karachi’s own masked vigilante, the Red Dagger, Kamala learns something more valuable: that she’s wrong. She interferes with a conflict she doesn’t fully comprehend and she’s educated by Red Dagger. And do you know what happens? Her character learns something, and she grows. She doesn’t quit, she decides she just has to keep trying. It’s not as exciting as bitch-slapping Dr. Doom or gut punching Magneto, but hot damn is it emotionally gratifying!

If you want a lot of hero posturing and villainous monologues and explosions, I get why you don’t like Ms. Marvel, but don’t tell me it’s not a unique book in the Marvel library. So far during Marvel NOW!, Ms. Marvel has gone to Karachi, combatted gerrymandering in New Jersey, fought off a villainous cyber-bully, and nearly helped Hilary Clinton get elected. I’m amazed at how topical this book gets while not seeming trendy. It’s educational and sentimental, but it keeps an edge, never preaching like an after school special. I think maybe the lack of action in this book had something to do with its lower ranking, but keeping up with this book is a rewarding experience. I encourage any die-hard comic fan to give this issue-one a read, and if you like it, go check out all of her other stories. I truly believe it will be time well spent. – tyrannofloresrex

Collection: Ms. Marvel Volume 6: Civil War II

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9
Black Widow

Mark Waid and Chris Samnee
beginning with #7

This new arc may be better than the series opener. For once, an “antihero” book that doesn’t read like a douche-bro wet dream. Samnee’s storytelling is as crisp and elegant as ever, and with Waid still supplying the dialogue, this series is as close to perfect as a comic can get. – MMDG

Intense book. Really liking the art, especially the color work. There isn’t a lot to say about this book apart from that I like where it’s going and it reads well, like a good script. Will be reading more of this one. – IP

Collection: Black Widow Volume 2: No More Secrets (May)

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8
Spider-Man

Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli
beginning with #12

I was not shy about my love of Spider-Man during Marvel’s “All New, All Different” series, and I’m pleased to see that this creative team’s talent and passion for Miles Morales is unwavering. Brian Michael Bendis is still one of the best writers under Marvel’s banner. He and Joss Whedon are some of the only middle aged men that I think write convincing teenage dialogue and build stories on sophisticated emotions without falling too hard into soap opera territory. The little human touches, like Spidey staying up all night to gab with his roommates, is just one of many things that get me excited and involved with this book. Sara Pichelli is also one of the best artists working with Marvel, and her paneling and character designs are so wonderful to look at. She is the queen of closeups, capturing entire emotions with just a shift in a character’s eyes or a pout of their lips. Miles Morales may have the coolest Spider-Man costume around, and I can’t wait to see more drawings of him and Spider-Gwen in action.

Though there is a ton of great things to say about this series, I will say that for an issue one, this Marvel NOW! book is kind of uneven. Bendis is one of the most cinematic storytellers in comics, often letting his artist handle a lot of exposition through pictures, but this book isn’t totally succeeding at that. This story jumps back and forth between past and present, and sometimes the speed of the dialogue cuts feels too frantic, almost like it’s going at a crazy-anime speed. Pichelli’s drawings are great, but I do wish there was less exposition through thought bubbles, and less quick-cutting, miniature panels. That may not be a big distraction for the casual reader, but I definitely think it disrupts the flow of the book.

If the crowded pages aren’t distracting, this initial arc may turn off some first-time readers. The story picks up in the aftermath of the second Civil War, and Miles’s father has gone missing. If you haven’t been following along, you could ask, “Why do I care about this missing father? Why is it such a big deal for Miles to confront Maria Hill? Nick Fury was ALWAYS getting into Parker’s shit!?” and you’d be right to say all that. Though Miles’s father is a big part of the story, I do see a missed opportunity for a “#1” to reestablish the lay of the land and grab new readers by having Miles deal directly with some Civil War fallout and the effect it had on his life. Miles’s father’s disappearance is tangentially related to CWII, but I can see people picking up this book and saying ‘meh’ because of how much this story is depending on prior knowledge.

Still, this is one of my favorite books to check in on because of its beautiful art and the fresh takes on the Spider-Man mythos. If the drama doesn’t grab people, I hope the romantic follies of two alternate Spider-people is enough to get readers to give it a try. Even this first issue has enough intrigue to motivate readers to check out how well Bendis, Pichelli and Miles have been bearing the mantle of Spider-Man. – tyrannofloresrex

Collection: Spider-Man/Spider-Gwen: Sitting in a Tree (May)

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7
Doctor Strange

Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo
beginning with #12

This is a fun one. Strange with magical gadgets is an interesting new direction, and Mordo seems as deadly as ever. Another solid book for Marvel NOW. – IP

Loving the new direction for Strange. The return of Mordo is clearly connected to the movie, and, for once, I’m not complaining about company mandates. – MMDG

Collection: Doctor Strange Volume 3: Blood in the Aether

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6
Thanos

Jeff Lemire and Mike Deodato

Love the fact that Lemire is doing a space book for Marvel, and super stoked that he looks to be touring their cosmic character catalog. Also love the Deodato Heavy Metal/Epic sci-fi vibe. – MMDG

Cosmic Marvel is once again delivering on its promise of zany adventures taken so seriously as to become something altogether unmatchable by any other comic publisher. Jeff Lemire takes a crack at Thanos and he does wonders with the cosmic universe. From Starfox, to Fallen One (Tryco Slatterus), to Death and Thane, Lemire has these characters down. The art is a nice mix of traditional and digital collage, and the pacing of the story is refreshing. Overall I really like this book. – IP

First collection: Thanos Volume 1: Thanos Returns (July)

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