We’re now three months into the newest Marvel relaunch (called All-New All-Different Marvel), with relaunches or reboots of over 40 series already out (and more to come in the new year).
I’m not following all the new series (god no, my wallet couldn’t take it) but I am picking up and trying a number of them. Here, as of December 9th, I’d like to do a few quick reviews of the good, the better, and the slightly disappointing.
Scarlet Witch #1 (W: James Robinson, A: Vanessa Del Rey, C: Jordie Bellaire)
I was both immensely excited and immensely worried about this series. Scarlet Witch last had a stand alone comic in the mid-90s, and since then has served, somewhat, as the Marvel Universe’s punching bag/scapegoat. Responsible for the dissolution of the Avengers in the Avengers Disassembled event due to a mental breakdown, and then for the decimation of the mutant population in House of M, Wanda Maximoff has spent almost 1o years defined by those events and known primarily as “the crazy Avenger.” Even more recently, she was killed by Rogue in the pages of Uncanny Avengers (she got better!) and turned evil during the Axis event.
So I was somewhat concerned about how she was going to fare – even as I was also hopeful that a stand alone comic would let Wanda Maximoff move forward from her past, and give her a chance to be the powerful and compassionate character she was in the past.
This is only a first issue, but I feel great about it. The premise of the series is that witchcraft is “sick”, and Wanda is on a mission to fix it. Vanessa Del Rey’s art on this issue makes a perfect introduction – it is atmospheric and distinctive, and Bellaire renders it full of shadows and color, tinged with red. As for the writing – Robinson acknowledges Wanda’s past without limiting her to it.
Robinson shows her power and confidence, writing Scarlet Witch as a woman who is not defined by her past, who is in command of her powers. What a deeply refreshing change.
I look forward to seeing where this series goes.
All-New Wolverine #1 & 2 (W: Tom Taylor, A: David Lopez, C: Nathan Fairbairn)
This was another series I was both incredibly excited for and very nervous about. Laura Kinney is one of my favorite characters, and I was desperately hoping her new stand alone would do her justice as it let her move into a new role. I’m not disappointed yet.
The first issue starts in media res, with Laura in Paris attempting to save a man from an unknown assailant only to be shot by a sniper. Over the course of the issue, the sniper is revealed as a clone of Laura herself – one who has been engineered so that she cannot feel pain.
There are a lot of things I love about this series – the fact that Laura is being allowed to move out of her X-23 role and grow into the protector – and hero – that she did not previously believe she could be is one of them. Another is the thematic resonance of the fact that the people Laura is trying to both save and stop are clones of herself: significant, as Laura is a character with a history of self-harm and low self-esteem, who has thrown herself in harm’s way careless of her own safety. That Laura now deems her clones – herself – worthy of protection is deeply powerful in terms of her character.
While Taylor writes Laura a bit quippier than most fans are familiar with, I have not found myself personally bothered due to the fact that it does not feel like a kind of quippiness that eliminates Laura’s core sincerity and seriousness. David Lopez’s art is also a highlight: he draws Laura more substantial than many other artists have, making her less waif-like and more solidly built, and when he draws her fighting focuses on her efficiency of movement rather than twisting her body into Escher-like poses.
The weak point in this series, in my opinion, is the relationship between Laura and Angel. They have little chemistry and I don’t believe in their attachment; frankly, I would be happier if Warren was not in the book at all. However, all in all this is a relatively minor nitpick for a series that I am very excited about.
Also, the first issue included this panel, which made me feel all kinds of emotions:
Logan isn’t always a bad dad.
Spider-woman #1 (W: Dennis Hopeless, A: Javier Rodriguez, C: Javier Rodriguez). I’m in an odd position with this one. There has been some criticism about the fact that Jessica Drew, who has formerly expressed pretty firm dislike for children, is suddenly pregnant with no explanation – especially given the way that pregnancy and motherhood is frequently dealt with (or not dealt with) in comics. On the one hand I agree with the criticism – and on the other hand, I’m somewhat willing to wait and see. I wish – I really wish – that the choice hadn’t been made to skip over the first 8 months of Jessica’s pregnancy and the process of her acceptance and struggle with it (with the exception of a brief montage). It feels like we’ve jumped all the difficulties for the sake of having a pregnant superhero, and that doesn’t sit well with me.
I’ll give this one a few more issues, though, because I do like Hopeless’s voice for Jessica, and I love Rodriguez’s art.
The Ultimates #1 & #2 (W: Al Ewing, A: Kenneth Rocafort, C: Dan Brown). Two issues in and I think this series might not be for me, which makes me very sad because the team is incredible (T’Challa! Monica Rambeau! America Chavez!) and I’ve loved Ewing’s writing on Loki: Agent of Asgard and The Mighty Avengers. But this is a cosmic comic, not a character driven comic, and so reading it for the characters doesn’t make sense – especially when I don’t much like Rocafort’s art, especially his women. Another one I’m giving a couple more issues to, though, mostly because I love Ewing.
Angela: Queen of Hel #1 (W: Marguerite Bennet, A: Stephanie Hans & Kim Jacinto, C: Israel Silva). This one just didn’t click for me, and I really wish it had. In terms of representation, this series features the only lesbian couple currently in Marvel, and Sara is a main character, a love interest, and trans, three things that rarely coincide. Furthermore, Stephanie Hans’ art is a dream and I love Bennet’s writing on DC Comics’s Bombshells. But Angela as a character never really clicked for me, and for some reason none of her series have managed to grab me. To my vast disappointment, I may have to leave this one.
Captain America: Sam Wilson #1-#3 (W: Nick Spencer, A: Daniel Acuña, C: Daniel Acuña). I’m enjoying this one, though issue #3 kind of threw me – it felt off-tone and a little off-plot. Actually, in general, the plot on these issues feels like it’s struggling to find traction. However, I love the way Spencer is writing Sam Wilson as Captain America, and I have always had a deep fondness for Acuña’s art, ever since reading Black Widow: Name of the Rose (one of my first Marvel comics). The political commentary thus far has also been painfully on point, and the portrayal of the Serpent Society made Fox News angry, something I’m always in favor of.
Mighty Thor #1 (W: Jason Aaron, A: Russell Dauterman, C: Matthew Wilson). I loved everything about this comic up to the last page. The art, the writing…I’ve been very much enjoying Aaron’s portrayal of Jane Foster as Thor, and this new comic looks as though it’s going to be digging deeper into the divide between her two identities (and her battle with her cancer). However, on the last page, Loki (sporting a new, awful facial hair) appears, fresh from his Loki: Agent of Asgard redemption arc in which he manages to escape his own cycle of evil, stating that “it’s good to be bad.” Here’s hoping that ignoring almost four years of character work by Kieron Gillen and Al Ewing isn’t where this is going.
But if you’re not the kind of Loki fan I am, I can wholeheartedly recommend this book otherwise.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1 (W: Brandon Montclare & Amy Reeder, A: Natacha Bustos, C: Tamra Bonvillain). The first issue of this series was more set up than anything else, making it hard for me to tell how much I’m going to like it – but the concept (a genius girl and her dinosaur) definitely has my interest, and I am at least going to pick up issue #2. I really want to like this one, which always helps.
Ms Marvel #1 (W: G. Willow Wilson, A: Adrian Alphona & Takeshi Miyazawa, C: Ian Herring). Ms. Marvel is still going strong. The first issue introduces Kamala Khan’s new opponent: gentrification. I am much less interested in the subplot about Kamala’s best friend finding a girlfriend and Kamala struggling with her jealousy, but that is more personal taste than anything else, and I trust Wilson to deal capably with almost anything she chooses to write about.
Spider-Gwen #1-3 (W: Jason Latour, A: Robbi Rodriguez, C: Rico Renzi). I hate to say it, but I might not stay on this series much longer. I’m still enjoying it, but I’m not in love, and as this list may show I have a lot of series to fund. A big part of the draw for this series is seeing the alternate versions of characters from 616 show up, and I’m just not sure that’s a viable reason to keep buying the series.
That’s all I’ve got for the moment. The remainder of the month will see me picking up A-Force #1 and (possibly) Weirdworld #1. In the new year there will be more comics: Black Panther, Black Widow, Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat, Gamora, Mockingbird, and Captain Marvel – but reviews of those will have to wait until then. So far, as usual, the All-New All-Different Marvel has been a mixed bag – but with a few gems in there that have been decidedly worth it.