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 20-something 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.
If there’s one thing that was brought about in Marvel Comics the last ten years that’s really intrigued me, it’s the Illuminati. The idea that some of the top leaders in the superhero world have a secret society that attempts to control the balance of power in their world and deal with problems before they happen is one that has ultimate storytelling potential. That being said, I never imagined that this concept would gets it’s own series. Mini series and story arcs, yes. But an ongoing? I didn’t think it would happen. But low and behold, with the new batch of Marvel Now titles come the new New Avengers Book. Written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Steve Epting, it’s the story behind the story as the Illuminati returns to doing what they do best: nipping potential threats in the bud before they grow into something much more sinister. So far, Hickman’s run on Avengers has been exciting and Steve Epting is one of my all time favourite Captain American artists. Not to mention the great work these two men have done together on Fantastic Four. Needless to say, I was looking forward to this book.
The story begins with a soft recap of the team’s history. It’s one page reshowing their first meeting where they formed and Black Panther refused to join them, saying they did not have the right to decide to become the world’s protectors without anyone asking them. He leaves them and they move forward. Then, after a quick page of Mr. Fantastic talking to no one in particular about accepting death, we’re dropped in the middle of the Wakandan jungle where three young adults are at the end of their “final exam”. It’s a quest that they successfully complete by activating a holographic map of a solar system. But the system is not their own as it has 12 planets. At this point, T’Challa (aka The Black Panther) lets his presence be known and explains that the three of them will be Wakanda’s next astronauts. Before there can be any celebration, a portal opens and a rhino comes charging out of it. Panther investigates and the three students follow. There, they come face to face with a group of humanoids being led by Black Swan, a herald to a planet eating entity that inhabits the Earth’s atmosphere. Panther let’s his intentions to stop them be known and a fight ensues. The fight doesn’t end well for the students or the group of men, but Black Swan gets away in the end, leaving Black Panther with nothing but dread. To ensure the safety of his people, he must call together the group he wanted nothing to do with.
Much like Hickman’s take on Avengers, this book has grand designs right from the get go. A powerful alien is already in the mix and Black Panther is calling in the big guns. Though, unlike Avengers, this villain’s intentions are a little more cut and dry. He eats planets and the team has to stop him. As simplistic as it sounds, I think it’s the perfect start to the series. The Avengers are there to defeat threats that no one hero can handle and the New Avengers are there to stop that threat before it becomes known to the world. I think the smartest move in all of this is using Black Panther as our window into the story. Having the one guy who knows about the Illuminati and hates the idea of its existence be the guy who instigates the team up is a nice touch. It will be great to see his internal struggle as the book progresses. Also, the Panther’s the one guy who we don’t see enough of. Sure, he’s had a couple of series over the past few years but have any of them really stuck around that long without being revamped or relaunched? It will be good to have him in a title where its sale stability will not be questioned. Let’s face it, the book has an A on it. It will be around for at least a year without any worries of cancellation. Add to that that the story is interesting, the writer is well liked and the art is more than exceptional and you’ve got a winning book on your hands.
As I mentioned earlier, I am a fan of Steve Epting’s artwork. His clean lines make for pretty pictures. I would however question a bit of his story telling in this instant. There are a few points where the action gets hot and heavy that the narrative gets a little messy. There’s a bit of a problem differentiating what exactly is transpiring. This could actually be a style choice as the result is disorienting for the reader and the same can be said for the characters in the book. Regardless, it was a little off its end for an artist who has such strong storytelling abilities. Overall, the artwork is a delight for the eyes as you read this intense little tale.
While this was not the most exciting read to come out of the Marvel Now experience, it is still a strong start to a title that may well be one of the bigger hits of the next year. I have faith in where this creative team is taking us and the Black Panther has always been a favourite of mine so I’m willing to see where this goes. Pick up a copy of New Avengers #1 at your local comic shop NOW!
So this 1st Issue 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!
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