Tag Archives: Fresh Start

The Best of Marvel’s Fresh Start #5 – Captain America

As much as I enjoyed Mark Waid’s post-Secret Empire run on Captain America, the entire arc felt like it was doing its best to avoid dealing with the fallout from Nick Spencer’s subversive epic. Initially, Waid’s book, launched under the Legacy trade dress, took the form of a Steve Rogers road trip, an effort to reconnect with a country that had been torn apart after Red Skull successfully re-wired Captain America’s reality to create a bastion of fascism and a conquering leader of Hydra. Then, before that reflective journey could really get going, Cap was frozen (again) and awakened in a future U.S. similarly gripped by an oppressive authoritarian regime. It’s almost as if the editors asked Waid to reinvent Empire, but with Steve now as the savior, rather than the enslaver. And when that little escapade had concluded, we got a few more fill-in issues featuring yet another far-flung future America, this time under the control of the Kree, and with Rogers’s descendants cast as the heroic protagonists.

We expected Marvel to put some distance between “Captain Hydra” and the relaunch, but avoiding a storyline that was so clearly part of Marvel continuity began to feel somewhat cowardly.

Secret Empire #1 (2017)

Everything about Secret Empirefrom its fomenting lead-in story in the pages of Steve Rogers: Captain America, released during the summer of 2016, and the eventual event series, which premiered in 2017, feels like a dark fairy tale of the Trump Era. And, as such, maybe it would have been better received, and, indeed, more impactful, had it been a self-contained “Elseworlds” type story.

Don’t get me wrong — I applaud Spencer and Marvel for boldly following through with such a politically charged story. The problem arises when the comics introduce themes of external forces manipulating our democracy, denials of freedoms, and paralyzing social divisions directly into the mainstream Marvel universe, but then seemingly ignore the repercussions.

Enter Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Francis Yu. Uniting the acclaimed political writer and author of the inspired new Black Panther series with the artist responsible for Secret Invasion seems to be, on the surface, a pretty clear indication that the series was finally ready to address the ominous overtures of last summer’s crossover event. And their first storyline, “Winter in America” does not disappoint.

Continue reading The Best of Marvel’s Fresh Start #5 – Captain America

Ranking Marvel’s Fresh Start: 10 – 6

10
Sentry

Jeff Lemire & Kim Jacinto

Ask the prolific Eisner-winning Lemire, whose recent successes include a love letter to Golden Age superheroes, Black Hammer, and various journeys into the fractured psyches of humanity, both powered and otherwise, as seen in Royal City and Bloodshot, who is the one Marvel character you’d most like to revive? Moon Knight. Okay, you’ve done that. Who is the next Marvel hero on your list?

Gotta be The Sentry. This first issue is rife with classic capes n’ tights bombast, juxtaposed brilliantly with real human struggles — a Robert Reynolds that looks like he was pulled fresh from the towns of Essex County. In fact, Kim Jacinto’s art, when it isn’t aflame with dynamic action sequences, even resembles Lemire’s illustration style, sketchy and expressionistic with every shade of human emotion wonderfully styled. – MMDG

When I saw that a new Sentry book was out, I was skeptical. The Sentry is a lot like Superman in that it’s hard to come up with scenarios that can seriously threaten them and make for suspenseful and dramatic stories. I think Superman writers overcome this with solid character writing and an exploration of his personal psychology. Seeing Lemire’s name on this book inspired confidence and it wasn’t misplaced. Lemire is the perfect guide to further explore a character that I feel is hard to write for, and has ultimately made him underutilized in the books. The situation Bob finds himself in, literally living two lives, is a great take on the super hero/alter ego concept, and I gotta say, I’m happily growing sympathy for the character. Part of that is the writing, but I immediately noticed Jacinto’s strong facial expressions. They’re intense! His illustration strengthens the juxtaposition of the golden guardian to the dark void and underlines this particular book as a psychological horror story. This could be the defining story for this character, and I’m excited to see where Lemire, Jacinto and co. take it. – tyrannofloresrex

Man can this guy rip bodies! Great art — despair with a hint of imbalance — match the tone of the story. And I’m a sucker for a cliffhanger so I’ll probably pick up #2 to see who the villian is. – lebronald

•••

9
Venom

Donny Cates & Ryan Stegman

Stegman has really managed to turn his art into some next level stuff. I will keep reading as long as he is on the book. The opening Norse segment looks so good. I like Cates’s direction of making the symbiotes more of an ever-present part of the MU. Reminds of the Brubaker/Fraction Iron Fist run. Still not the biggest fan of the symbiote in general but this is well written and has a good mystery. I am intrigued enough to want to continue with this one. – MeanOldPig

I love these red faced aliens. I hope it stays dark and gets creepier. – lebronald

Still not a fan of the character, but Donny Cates has done marvelous things with Dr. Strange and Thanos in recent months, and Stegman’s art is unbelievable. I’ll be reading this. – MMDG

Continue reading Ranking Marvel’s Fresh Start: 10 – 6

Ranking Marvel’s Fresh Start: 20 – 11

20
Quicksilver: No Surrender

Saladin Ahmed & Eric Nguyen

This could be an intriguing physics adventure and I’ve always wanted to move through time like Mork, but I bet this will be stupid. The art is unique – always a welcome sight – with some panels looking like pop art. Other entire pages are bland and skimmable. – lebronald

Not sure how to feel about this – like Ahmed’s work and I’m a fan of Nguyen’s art… just not sure why we needed a Quicksilver mini. And this first issue did nothing to answer that question. – MMDG

•••

19
Shatterstar

Tim Seeley & Gerardo Sandoval

Amusing concept for an unremarkable character. I have a general antipathy for all of the Liefeld creations, but at least in this book Seeley (who surprised us with his Nightwing series for Rebirth) is focusing more on the Mojoverse/multiverse promise of Claremont. I’ll read through. Also, thanks for writing a series starring a gay superhero that doesn’t feel the need to remind us that he’s gay every other panel (looking at you, Sina Grace). – MMDG

Never heard of this guy and had no plans on getting #2 but I like the premise. These old multi-parallel-reboot-universes definitely need some clean-up crew storylines. – lebronald

Continue reading Ranking Marvel’s Fresh Start: 20 – 11

Ranking Marvel’s Fresh Start: 30 – 21

30
Iceman

Sina Grace & Nate Stockman

Still bad. I’ve given this book three tries now, on three different reboots, and I just don’t see Sina Grace graduating from boring, puerile superhero fare. Seems like his style would be better suited to a CW adolescent dramedy. Someone should tell him that. He’d probably become rich. And then I wouldn’t have to read his shitty comics any longer. – MMDG

Iceman is a nice, simple, old-school superhero. A man made of ice who can shoot ice and rides an ice wave. He should be a regular part of the super-teams arsenal whenever they meet a fire demon or firestarter or any villains from the tropics. He should be the best at those confrontations. I like simple powers with clear strengths and weaknesses. This book is boring and I don’t care about Bishop (time travel sucks). – lebronald

Not sure why this book keeps surviving. The art is really an eyesore and the story doesn’t really have any narrative flow. It just shifts from one scene to the next without any real flow or consequences. Getting really tired of reviewing this book. – MeanOldPig

•••

29
Deadpool

Skottie Young, Scott Hepburn, & Nic Klein

I’d like to see Deadpool tone down his fourth wall-breaking shtick a little bit and emphasize his weapons skills in a meaningful way. Maybe tie him into a real overarching scheme that makes him matter in the universe. Doesn’t look like that’s happening with this run so I’ll probably avoid further issues. That back and forth with the kid on her phone was terrible. – lebronald

Art notwithstanding, there is only so much meta-humor and dick references that I can handle. I will say that the “Deadpoolization” of the Celestials bodes well for what I hope to be a full-on Eternals push in the coming months. But.. this gurgleballzer or whatever the hell it is seems like another slow-motion eyeroll. Doubt I’ll read another issue. – MMDG

Continue reading Ranking Marvel’s Fresh Start: 30 – 21

Fresh Start: The First Six Months

Marvel Legacy, we hardly knew ye. 2017’s fall publishing initiative, which kicked off with a best-selling one-shot, was nonetheless ticketed for an overhaul come Thanksgiving of last year, after the controversial firing of then Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, and the promotion of C.B. Cebulski. Marvel’s new EIC wasted little time promising “new beginnings,” and the cynics among us grumbled. Here we go again…

There were still some storylines seeded during the Legacy build-up that were now being hitched to C.B.’s wagon. Jason Aaron’s ancient Avengers saga would be kicking off the fanfare-minimized “Fresh Start,” and the galactic empire of Wakanda, along with the long-awaited return of the Fantastic Four, were not far behind. But it was still a new batch of #1 issues for a near line-wide refresh. Marvel had been pulling this stunt annually; some of these books were up to their fourth series premiere in as many years.

Ostensibly the re-numbering shtick is to gain new readers, a concept to which none of us object. What did draw some concern was whether or not this mid-stream Fresh Start, in the process of trying to build a new audience, would end up sacrificing the creativity and diversity that had been a hallmark of the publisher in recent years. Mindful of everything that we loved about All-New, All-Different, Marvel NOW!, and the recent Legacy, along with what bothered us, the Idle Time focus group reassembled to see what to make of this latest initiative.

Continue reading Fresh Start: The First Six Months

Asgardians of the Galaxy

At the onset of Marvel’s current Fresh Start, the publisher made a predictably uniform push to give its marquee characters renewed rack appeal. The whole initiative kicked off with Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness’s new volume of The Avengers and, in short order we had new #1 issues for fan-favorites like Deadpool, Venom, and Thor. From those first solicitations, there seemed to be very little “freshness” in the back-to-basics approach promised by new EIC C.B. Cebulski. Thor was a boy again; Peter Parker was a broke shmuck again. Tony Stark wasn’t dead, or in a coma, or whatever… and The Avengers looked more or less like the casual fan expected. I braced myself for a disappointing regression from the diversity, creativity, and artistic experimentation that had made Marvel stand apart from the major publishers in recent years.

Instead, I have been pleasantly surprised to discover that Fresh Start, while pandering slightly to the fans who couldn’t deal with a Black Captain America or teenage girl in Iron Man armor, has been replete with some genuine excitement. Creativity preempts the same old: Mike del Mundo and Christian Ward, whose fantastic art is outside the capes ‘n tights norm, get the nod to kick off Jason Aaron’s final Thor volume. Al Ewing and Joe Bennett re-imagine Hulk as a chilling EC-inspired horror book.

Women writers take the reins on noteworthy titles: Kelly Thompson is tapped to bring back West Coast Avengers. Mariko Tamaki unveils the best Laura Kinney to date in the new X-23. And Margaret Stohl continues to orchestrate the comic book face of the MCU’s proudest new property, Captain Marvel.

Most interestingly, however, peppered among the predictable #1 issues, is a host of oddball books and unexpected revivals. Jeff Lemire is writing a great Sentry. Matthew Rosenberg is allowed to bring Multiple Man back from the dead. Cosmic Ghost Rider — maybe as odd as it gets — graduates from the pages of Donny Cates’s Thanos into his own mini. And my favorite Marvel B-lister of them all, Valkyrie, leads a marvelously unusual crew of cosmic godlings in this week’s Asgardians of the Galaxy #1.

Continue reading Asgardians of the Galaxy

West Coast Avengers

I’m honestly surprised it took this long. With the whirlwind international acclaim that Marvel’s film universe has brought to this brand, making The Avengers the kind of household name a teenage me hadn’t ever even imagined, why have we waited until 2018 for the return of the title’s first spinoff? We’ve had Initiative, Academy, YoungSolo, and Spotlight. World and Secret, New and MightyAssemble and A.I. And most of that was just in the last decade. Hell, even the Great Lakes Avengers have had their own title in the interim! Finally, almost thirty-four years after Clint Barton first put out the call to assemble a California-based branch of Earth’s Mightiest, West Coast Avengers is back on the stands, courtesy of Kelly Thompson and Stefano Caselli.

Refreshingly, this reboot of the Hawkeye-led best-coasters seemingly has nothing to do with editorial mandates or higher-ranking media imperatives. There wasn’t an earth-shattering crossover event that necessitated a tie-in title. In fact, the impetus behind Kate Bishop’s “heroes wanted” rally is a Santa Monica infestation of a random horde of mindless landsharks. Apart from Clint Barton, AKA the original Hawkeye (who’s really more of an adorable mascot), this goofy ragtag lineup doesn’t feature a single character with an MCU counterpart. Quentin Quire, in fact, after somehow avoiding being drafted into one of the seventeen X-teams falling off the racks, gets to shackle his irascible punk apathy to the meta-fictitious fangirl enthusiasm of Gwenpool. Wonderful. You can get away with anything in the Golden State.

It might also help when you’re Kelly Thompson, and your fan-favorite Hawkeye series recently leaped over the radar and onto the Eisner list of best series nominees. I’d like to imagine the conversation went something like…

“Kelly, the world wants more Hawkeye! How do you feel about bringing back the West Coast Avengers?”

“I feel great about it! Can I pick the team?”

“Of course! So long as it has Deadpool.”

“Fuck that. Never mind.”

“No no no it’s fine. Any team you want. (But you’re going to have to put him in your Rogue & Gambit book…)”

Continue reading West Coast Avengers

Fantastic Four #1

There may have been no release in Marvel’s Fresh Start initiative more anticipated than the return of Reed, Sue, Ben, & Johnny. After three years without a title, the book that started a superhero revolution and kicked off Marvel’s ascendancy way back in 1961, is back on the stands. Fantastic Four #1, by Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli, is decades removed from the book that was proudly emblazoned with the headline “World’s Greatest Comic Magazine!” but the publisher, by all accounts, is finally ready to give the title a fair shot at reclaiming some its former glory.

The truth behind the FF’s lengthy hiatus may never fully be revealed. Declining sales probably factored in, and the culmination of Hickman’s Secret Wars event provided an opportunity to shelve half of the core group at the onset of the All-New All-Different era. It’s also been rumored that the terrible failure of the three 20th Century Fox feature films, one more terrible than the next, contributed to Marvel’s decision to distance itself from a series bearing that title. Considering the degree to which Marvel Studios dictates editorial decisions for the comic book lines, this wouldn’t at all be surprising. The comics play nice when the non-Disney licensees do well (Deadpool, for example), but with no opportunity at the time to correct the FF’s big-screen portrayals, Marvel may have felt like keeping this book off the stands would devalue the license for Fox, preventing them from attempting yet another brand-defaming motion picture.

All that could change, of course, if the proposed Disney-Fox merger goes through. With a few more assets to untangle, and sports-related networks to extricate, the path seems clear for Marvel’s parent company to reclaim the movie rights for what is, after Spider-Man, arguably the comic book publisher’s most important property.

The seeds were sown during last fall’s Legacy initiative. The one-shot special hinted at the group’s return, and the new Marvel Two-in-One series, by Chip Zdarsky and Jim Cheung, rehabilitated Human Torch and The Thing after lost years with various Inhuman teams or Guardians of the Galaxy respectively, and helped to remind us how much Marvel’s First Family means to all of us superhero devotees.

Continue reading Fantastic Four #1

Mr. and Mrs. X

Marvel’s X-family of titles experienced their own fresh start of sorts, in last year’s ResurrXion event. The publishing initiative, coming on the heels of the Inhumans vs. X-Men throwdown, seemed like a concerted effort to realign Marvel’s media focus on the mutants, and away from the Inhumans. In light of Marvel Studios’ spectacular failure at making the Inhumans live-action relevant, ResurrXion feels more like a precursor to the thorough housecleaning we’re now experiencing. I’ll read Death of the Inhumans for Cates & Olivetti, but I can’t help but cringe when I consider the editorial tantrum that seems to have started the fire.

Even when the “resurrXted” books segued into Marvel’s Legacy season, the titles felt diluted and stale. The art on some of the later X-Men: Gold and Blue books in particular was atrocious and spoke to a general apathy towards the mutant corner of the Marvel universe, something that the initiative was specifically trying to dispel.

In other words, Marvel’s current line-wide Fresh Start, now in its thirteenth week, couldn’t have come at a better time for the X-books. And the architects of a genuinely fresh approach to these titles are themselves rather new to the scene. After flexing his muscles on Phoenix Resurrection, Matthew Rosenberg continues to build his mutant cred with an excellent New Mutants series and the new Multiple Man mini. He’s poised to make a bigger dent, partnered with Greg Land, as the regular writer on Astonishing X-Men.

Mariko Tamaki, who penned an excellent She-Hulk-fronted Hulk title, is leading the charge with the new X-23 book, the first issue of which has immediately endeared me to Laura Kinney and her sister Gabby.

And then there’s Kelly Thompson. Fresh off an Eisner best-series nomination for Hawkeye, Thompson brought her brand of sharp, witty dialogue woven through a fun fast-paced caper to the Rogue & Gambit: Ring of Fire five-issue series. When a creator cares about certain characters as much as Thompson does these two off-again, on-again lovers, it shows. The follow-up is an X-book I had no idea I wanted to see, until I held that goofy cover in my hands. Mr. and Mrs. X #1, out this week, by Thompson and artist Oscar Bazaldua, is a welcome addition to the revitalized stable of mutant titles.

Continue reading Mr. and Mrs. X

Captain America #1 by Coates & Yu

As much as I enjoyed Mark Waid’s post-Secret Empire run on Captain America, the entire arc felt like it was doing its best to avoid dealing with the fallout from Nick Spencer’s subversive epic. Initially, Waid’s book, launched under the Legacy trade dress, took the form of a Steve Rogers road trip, an effort to reconnect with a country that had been torn apart after Red Skull successfully re-wired Captain America’s reality to create a bastion of fascism and a conquering leader of Hydra. Then, before that reflective journey could really get going, Cap was frozen (again) and awakened in a future U.S. similarly gripped by an oppressive authoritarian regime. It’s almost as if the editors asked Waid to reinvent Empire, but with Steve now as the savior, rather than the enslaver. And when that little escapade had concluded, we got a few more fill-in issues featuring yet another far-flung future America, this time under the control of the Kree, and with Rogers’s descendants cast as the heroic protagonists.

We expected Marvel to put some distance between “Captain Hydra” and the relaunch, but avoiding a storyline that was so clearly part of Marvel continuity began to feel somewhat cowardly.

Secret Empire #1 (2017)

Everything about Secret Empirefrom its fomenting lead-in story in the pages of Steve Rogers: Captain America, released during the summer of 2016, and the eventual event series, which premiered in 2017, feels like a dark fairy tale of the Trump Era. And, as such, maybe it would have been better received, and, indeed, more impactful, had it been a self-contained “Elseworlds” type story.

Don’t get me wrong — I applaud Spencer and Marvel for boldly following through with such a politically charged story. The problem arises when the comics introduce themes of external forces manipulating our democracy, denials of freedoms, and paralyzing social divisions directly into the mainstream Marvel universe, but then seemingly ignore the repercussions.

Enter Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Francis Yu. Uniting the acclaimed political writer and author of the inspired new Black Panther series with the artist responsible for Secret Invasion seems to be, on the surface, a pretty clear indication that the series was finally ready to address the ominous overtures of last summer’s crossover event. And this first chapter of “Winter in America” does not disappoint.

Continue reading Captain America #1 by Coates & Yu