The Avengers and X-Men’s Epic Battle is over. Scott went insane. Charley took the dirt nap. Hope and Wanda made everything better. So Now what?

Well, NOW is the time for Marvel to shuffle the deck and play a new hand. It’s relaunch city as The House of Ideas brings us 23 new #1s with all-new creative teams over the next 5 months. What will the new 23 have in store for us Marvel Zombies? Well, be sure to check out this column each week as we dissect the first issue of every new title under the Marvel Now Banner. And I don’t mean Bruce Banner…..well except when the title has the Hulk in it….you get what I mean. So sit back and relax as we check out what’s new in the 616.

Okay, so technically, this isn’t a new #1 issue for Marvel Now. But it is a sampling of some of the characters and creative teams that will be debuting #1 issues over the coming months. If you want to get technical and cut through the bullshit, it’s really a book to advertise some of the titles that may not have the biggest fan following. So they’re advertising the characters here to garner interest in 6 titles that may need that extra little push. These books in question are Secret Avengers, Young Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Cable & X-Force, FF and Nova. After reviewing the list, I can understand that these titles might need a little extra selling to the public. None of them are sure fire hits to say the least, even when boasting some A-List talent like Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction (I guess), Jeph Loeb, Ed McGuiness, Mike Allred and Nick Spencer (he’s an A-Lister in my book). So essentially, this can be equated to a sampler platter at your local pub. It’s a bunch of bite-sized morsels for you to taste and see if you’re interested in trying the entree. And like most samplers, some of the stories are so good, you wish you had a full plate of them. Others, you’re hoping you can wash the taste out of your mouth and pretend like the whole thing never happened. And to stretch this analogy even further, it’s slightly overpriced for something that’s more breading than meat. But hey, sometimes breading can be good. For $5.99, it better be DAMN good. So let’s take a look at the Marvel Now Point One.

Throughout the entire issue, there is an overarching story that stars Nick Fury Jr. (the new 616 Nick Fury that looks like Samuel L. and is the son of the original Fury) and Agent Coulson brought to you by Nick Spencer and Luke Ross. In it, the duo have been pulled off of their mission by Maria Hill and told to come into a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility and meet with an man who bought out the stock market in under a day. He’s being held in custody and has no record of existence. This is because he hasn’t been born yet. He comes from the Future and has come to this era to warn Fury of what’s coming. But he already knows that he isn’t going to listen. Fury asks him to explain himself. This is what leads us into the 5 other short stories. Starlord, by Bendis and Steve McNiven, gives us a bit of an intro to the character before he becomes Starlord. It’s got a dark and gritty feel as a teenage boy has to fight off alien baddies with nothing but a shotgun. Diamondhead, an intro to the new Nova book by Loeb and McGuiness, shows the latest Nova flying around like he’s on cloud nine after Thor asks him (off panel) to join the Avengers. He’s so elated and happy that he doesn’t notice when he flies right into a character named Diamondhead…..yep, Diamondhead. It’s appears that DH is not happy with the Nova corps. and tries to take it out on this rookie. This doesn’t go well for him. Then in The New World by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McElvie and Mike Norton, we get to see a dinner date with kid Loki and Miss America, an inter-dimensional teen superhero. Loki invites Miss America for some Korean Barbecue on Earth 212 to discuss an important matter. Loki wants her to come back to the main Marvel Earth to track down former Young Avenger Wiccan and kill him. There’s probably more to this plan but before he can share it, Miss America decides she’s heard enough and wipes the floor with him. This turns out to be a part of Loki’s plan as well….I think. All I know is that it’s the beginnings of the new Young Avengers book. That I’m pretty sure of. It’s Art, by Matt Fraction and Mike Allred focuses on Ant Man, who’s still trying to deal with the death of his daughter. He blames Dr. Doom for her death (see Avengers: The Children’s Crusade for details) and is plotting revenge. His revenge takes place at a Latverian Art Exhibit and is not exactly what you might think. Finally, we have Crazy Enough, a story about Forge by Dennis Hopeless and Gabriel Hernandez Walta. Forge is trying to fix a machine. The thing is that this machine might be a little bit closer to home than he thinks and his sanity is depending on it. The issue wraps up back with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s mysterious visitor who gets violent and has to be put down care of Agent Coulson. The end result sets up Fury Jr. for his next mission.

So was the book any good? Well, yes and no. Like I said above, a one-shot like this one is going to be a mixed bag. I will say, unlike other specials of this nature, the short stories flowed nicely into each other and there was a level of quality that’s usually missing. Spencer had the hard job of being the set up guy for the book. I feel he pulls it off nicely at the beginning and end. The chapters in between the other stories were a bit lacking but nothing that really made the book suffer. Bendis and McNiven presented something special with their Guardians of the Galaxy prelude. They showed me just enough to be interested but still not enough to have a clue as to what’s going on. Loeb and McGuiness’ Diamondhead story is not something I really want to relive any time soon. Nova’s okay. But Diamondhead? The less said, the better. Forge, Loki, and Ant Man each have enjoyable adventures. This is surprising for me that I favoured these three as they are either written by writers I don’t care for or haven’t even heard of. Of the 3, the Ant Man story stands out the most because of the amazing art by Mike Allred. But out of all the stories and all the hints dropped about these upcoming series, one thing is made abundantly clear: Coulson is still a Bad-Ass. If you didn’t know it before, you know it by the end of the book..

Is this book necessary to get you ready for upcoming Marvel Now titles? Not really. Are any of these stories worth the high price tag? I can’t say that they are. Are they decent tales that you won’t get bored reading? Yeah. Will you kick yourself if you miss out on this one? Absolutely not. This book is a slick-looking, well put together advertisement. Pure and simple. If you really want to buy it, go ahead. It’s an alright read. But you do not need this book to enjoy any of the upcoming titles for Marvel Now. Just grab that free sampler they handed out last week and peruse it at your leisure. Bottom Line: Don’t worry about this one. It ain’t worth it. ‘Nuff Said.

So this One-Shot is done but there’s plenty more to come. Check back here in the coming week’s to find out which books are worth your time which are a waste of it.

And if you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!

Samuel Jackson auditions to play Gambit….I mean the cover of Marvel Now Point One.


Last Column: Here and (Marvel) Now – The Merry Marvel Marching Society (My Review of Uncanny Avengers #1)