Nearly a year after the new wave of comics launched, the Marvel NOW relaunch has accomplished a great deal, given that they did not have to erase their universe to do it.
Beginning in October of 2012, Marvel rebranded a new series of books under this new monicker and started all but a handful of of their titles from #1. Much like DC’s New 52 (which began nearly a year before Marvel NOW), this renumbering allowed for an easy jumping on point for new fans.
Similar to DC’s reboot taking place after the universe changing events of Flashpoint, Marvel’s rebranding takes place after the highly divisive events of Avengers vs. X-men. Multiple new teams were formed, and much like DC’s various Batman-based titles, Marvel NOW features myriad arrangements of Avengers and X-men line ups; some entirely new, such as Rick Remender’s Uncanny Avengers, and some a call back to older times, like the next title to launch, Amazing X-men.
Highlights of the Marvel NOW line-up are memorable for entirely unique reasons. Thor: God of Thunder (by Jason Aaron) is one of the first Thor centred stories to have come out of Marvel since Walt Simonson’s famous run. This new look gives Thor his own story, his own new enemy and his own struggle. This is refreshing in comparison to the usual role he gets as an unwritten powerhouse beating baddies with the Hulk.
Superior Spider-man is notable for almost the opposite reasons. Instead of Peter Parker—who has arguably been over-written for years—we get Otto Octavius (Doc. Ock) living in Parker’s body, desperately trying to understand how Peter lived as Spidey all those years, was simultaneously trying to be better than him. It’s a breath of fresh air in the Spider-man mythos, and a great examination of Octavius and the grey areas of villainy in comics.
Outside of the flagship title, Uncanny Avengers, Jonathan Hickman (Fantastic Four, East of West) has been building his own Avengers chapter through his two titles, Avengers and New Avengers. In the style he has used, Hickman has slowly built up world ending consequences still not entirely understood by those facing it. Like a good sci-fi story, it leaves you in suspense longer than you might be used to, instead letting you stew in your own lack of information. This creates a wonderful sense of possibility in his stories, which is nice compared to colour-by-number plots that you guess the end of only a few books in.
All in all, Marvel NOW has been a successful initiative for the company, bringing them up to par with DC’s sales for most of the past year. The exception to this would be July for DC, which was rather large due to the 75th anniversary of Superman, and the rise in Dark Knight Returns sales in the wake of the Superman vs. Batman movies announcement. While both companies suffer due to lack of retention (people buy #1’s, but then lose interest and stop buying later issues), Marvel has recently done especially well, with their next event “Infinity” selling out at distributor levels.
If you are interested in picking up a few books, keep an eye out this September for the next Marvel NOW title, Mighty Avengers. You can pick it up locally at Sketchbook Comics (Plaza, Glenridge Ave) or Mostly Comics (St. Paul St).