Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Marvel Season One Previews

Marvel have released a set of preview pages for the slate of Season One graphic novels to be released in 2012. These jumping on GNs are going to retell the origin stories of the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and Daredevil in new and exciting ways to grab a new audience. You can access these previews in your LCS or as a digital download through the ComiXology apps for free. These books look interesting and I'll be discussing what we see so far after the jump.

I rarely check preview pages, to be honest, but considering the price of these books I thought it worth a quick gander. I'm glad I did because these pages offer plenty to think about. It's just a shame that there are more pages for some books than others. Anyway, let's jump in and discuss them in the order they appear.

Fantastic Four

Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Art by David Marquez

I'm not the biggest FF fan (I respect and love the Lee/Kirby stuff and dabbled with Hickman's run) but the concept of the family done right always intrigues me. I was pretty keen on this book and as such am a little disappointed at what I see here. There are 9 full pages and they all fell flat with me and I expected better from Aguirre-Sacasa as I usually like his work.

The artwork is clean but doesn't feel like anything special. The characters didn't really stand out at all. Johnny slides in a joke about partying the night before that falls flat and doesn’t convince at all. This felt like the sort of generic FF pablum I've avoided for years. What a shame. I'll see when this ships and assess my budget at the time. I might buy in but there's just as much chance this one might get avoided by me. The preview only shows that very initial origin aspect of flight, cosmic rays, and new powers. Perhaps the story picks up after the housekeeping is tidied up. I hope it does. This is a case of the chosen sequence just not connecting for me in the slightest.


Written by Dennis Hopeless
Art by Jamie McKelvie
This one should have interested me the least and yet this creative team completely piqued my interest. It’s the original X-team (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast, and Angel, with Professor X) and that’s not something I really thought I would want to buy into. How wrong I was proven and in only 6 pages.

This might be the old school team but it’s kind of set now as Jean Grey calls her parents with an iPhone (or some such device). This isn’t just a retelling of the same old stuff, this is an update, something new, something different. There feels like there’s reason to buy this stuff even though plenty of it will also be exactly what we’ve known before. But don’t buy this book because it’s a new story, or because it matters to continuity – buy this book because it looks great in most every way.

Jamie McKelvie is pretty much a known quantity now. There’s no shock or surprise to see him killing the art on the pages, no one is ‘discovering’ him anymore, he’s been found. His work here is as solid as you’ll find anywhere and he actually brings a charm to the X-costumes that is so hard to find. Then there’s Dennis Hopeless making with the words. He manages to introduce three characters in these pages and set up an action oriented conflict as well as an internal conflict within the group. He’s already working on levels (A and B plots) and starting in media res helps that as does sharp dialogue that constantly means something. From what I've read of Hopeless' work so far (Lovestruck and Legion of Monsters #1) he's going to be a breakaway talent to keep an eye on this coming year.
I was really on the fence about this one but now I’d say it’s a guaranteed purchase which means the preview just worked completely.

Also, is it too early for this to become a meme of some sort?

{Add your funny caption to the comments}


Written by Antony Johnston
Art by Wellington Alves

I am going to buy this no matter what. It’s that simple, so understand that before you read anymore. I haven’t missed a Daredevil book in quite some time (Bendis throwing him into the New Avengers doesn’t count – and maybe I’ll trade wait that one anyway). I was always going to buy this but the preview makes me feel pretty good about buying it.

Antony Johnston starts strong with a four panel origin stolen straight out of the Grant Morrison playbook. It’s a page that is effective and brief, as it should be. The next five pages, however, only rehash the events from the very first issue way back in ’63. Daredevil is after Slade and the Fixer and events don’t go as planned. The pages look nice, Wellington Alves does a pretty neat job of everything, but I want more from this GN. I’m sure there will be more, and the cliffhanger at the end of the preview might lure some new fish into the net, but I want more. Luckily, I will get more when I buy this anyway. I have enough faith in Johnston as he did a good job with his work on Daredevil previously.

I’ll also stand proud and say I dig a book with the Yellow costume in it. I love that costume.


Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Neil Edwards

Spider-Man is a character I always enjoy. He's just fun, the easy going Marvel option when you don't know what to read. Now, take that with the fact I also don't currently read Amazing Spider-Man so I guess that says enough. He's a good and fun character but there's usually better on the stands

Cullen Bunn, however, is a writer I certainly don't mind. What I've read on The Sixth Gun has been fantastic and his Immortal Weapons one-shot about the Bride of Nine Spiders was a slice of J-horror I quite liked. Bunn is a writer I want to like more, and Marvel are certainly investing in him strongly with this opportunity and his Fear Itself mini The Deep and fallout title The Fearless. He's a writer with a big future and yet I'm not digging his stuff right now, sadly. The Deep lost me with the pointless second issue and I opted out and this excerpt does not fill me with any hope at all.

How can the last panel look so
good when the first panel
looks like that?
With the combination of Bunn and a continuity free Spidey, I was going to buy this book. It's rare that a set of preview pages scares me off a purchase but this one has succeeded exceptionally. This preview is quite honestly very bad. Maybe these previews are skipping pages for brevity, I don't know, but the flow of this sequence is terrible. Peter Parker is at the fair, is quickly bitten by a spider, and he runs outside screaming to find his spider powers manifesting immediately. It's rushed and doesn't invest me in the character at all. Spider-Man is only a cool character because of Peter Parker, not because of the spider power set. Parker is barely introduced in these pages and that’s what would have sold me; characterisation. This isn’t the start of the book, as the first panel is captioned ‘Later.”, and I’m sure Bunn does a great job of setting up the high school existence of Parker that I enjoy so much but these pages were a terrible idea to lead with right off the bat. They try to be mysterious but the first key of a mystery is to care. The X-Men pages made me care so much. These do not, at all.


Fantastic Four feels like it will be mediocre. X-Men has me with a hook through the lip and a tight reel line ready to draw in. Daredevil was always going to be a purchase for me but I think it’s got enough to merit a glance from others. Spider-Man might be a big flat miss.

In all, I dig the concept of these Season One books, I hope they sell well, and I hope we get more for some other characters. I’d love an Iron Fist or Dr Strange Season One set. I think these books will be fun, I think they’ll sell well digitally as well. They aren’t going to revolutionise the industry but it seems nothing will at this point so we might as well have some fun with it. What are your thoughts on these Season One books? Which ones will you pick up and which will be missed?

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Aaron K said...

Am I the only one annoyed that these are called "Season One"? Seasons are cyclical and there are more than one. (You don't talk about season one of a tv miniseries, only a show intended to continue.) These are just "Origins" or "Beginnings". I wish I could say I was above this, but poor branding/marketing makes me want to stay away from these a bit.

cloudyzen said...

I guess these are good for re-re-introducing (what is the exact rate that a superhero needs to be re-booted? re-imagined?)traditional, classical characters.
Anyone who has been reading comics for a few years usually knows the origins of said characters. But I think times have really changed. When I first started reading Daredevil a long time ago, around vol 1 #223, I had to go back and get the earlier issues to explore his backstory. It was like doing research, and gave me a nice reason for saving money and heading to the comic store.
Now characters die, re-boot, get re-imagined so often, its like the iphone...daredevil 2.0, X-men 4S.
But the market has dictated that this is the way comics sell these days. I am just a grumpy old-school comic reader I guess.

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