Now that it’s all done, I’ve decided to take a look at all of the key Marvel franchises and give my opinions of what happened to them during the NOW period and where they are going into the All-New era.
When I finished the final pages of Secret Wars I was conflicted. I went through literal stages of losing childhood heroes. The apparent “retirement” of Reed Richards, Sue Storm and the Future Foundation from superheroing sort of angered me at first. How could they just GIVE UP on the Fantastic Four?! How could they let some stupid movie studio and their horrible ass-wound of a movie force them to just ostracize a comic book shelf staple for the past 5 decades?! Oh, the nerd rage.
Then the sadness kicked in. Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm...out there all alone...gallivanting around with the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Inhumans and the Avengers...not really having a true place in ANY of those teams, knowing deep down they should be wearing a blue jumpsuit (or in Ben’s case, little boy underwear).
And then, acceptance. This is how it is, The Future Foundation is out there making new universes and singing Age of Aquarius non-stop. And that’s fine. We’ll deal. For now. At least they didn't just kill them off. I’m not even a huge Fantastic Four fan! I just liked knowing they were THERE. Whenever Spider-Man needed a symbiote peeled off of him, or when the Avengers or the X-Men needed science help...the FF were there! What’s gonna happen now if the Skrulls come back, or Galactus gets the munchies or Sub Mariner gets his fish panties in a bunch?! I fear for the world, man. I guess this is the final stage.
I guess eventually Reed and Sue will return when they are needed the most, but until then...panic in the streets.
Wanna talk about change? Spidey has changed. SO MUCH. His body was possessed by one of his biggest enemies, he became the CEO of his own successful tech company, he found a fellow web-slinging girlfriend (for like two issues), he teamed up with every version of himself imaginable against a clan of soul sucking vampires and then he made himself a new Spidermobile. Okay,that last one was AFTER Marvel NOW, but it’s awesome and I needed to mention it.
Now, Dan Slott has his critics...okay, MOST of you are likely his critics. But hear me out, he’s one of the best writers of Spider-Man ever. I can say that now. He takes risks, he’s not afraid to uproot the status quo of this iconic character, and he has a knack of doing so without ruining the core of who Peter Parker is. It’s still Pete, he’s now a Fortune 500 CEO and he is still as awkward as ever because it’s Superior Spidey that put him there!
Slott’s Spidey maintained its entertaining energetic nature through all of it. I actually pity Spidey fans that didn’t read Spiderverse. It was Slott’s ultimate love letter to the CULTURAL PHENOMENON of Spider-Man! It even had Spider-Ham! How could it NOT be awesome?
And now, we find him not the only wall crawler around. We have Miles Morales, the ONLY remaining survivor of the Ultimateverse (just because he gave Molecule Man a cheeseburger, FOR REAL) also in the guise of Spider-Man out there, and that doesn’t count Spider-Gwen and the rest. There’s literally a Spidey for EVERY demographic, which is a GOOD thing. No, it’s a GREAT thing.
Things are different for the Spider-Man corner of the MU, but in my opinion, it’s also worth every penny.
X-Men is getting the wrath of the “suits” up in the Marvel/Disney boardrooms, but not half as bad as the FF. Actually the NOW era brought us a slew of new mutants including the time travelling Aussie Eva Bell/Tempus, Triage, Morph (YES, there’s finally a Morph in the 616 universe), and uh, Goldballs. He shoots gold balls from his body. Okay, they can’t ALL be winners. But yes, these kids all became new students of the NEW Xavier school run by Cyclops along with the Stepford Cuckoos and then moved over to the Jean Grey School when things got awkward. Wolverine and Storm ran the Jean Grey school and we also got introduced to AMAZING new mutants like Eye Boy, Broo and Shark Girl.
Oh, and Cyclops? Well, after his murder of Charles Xavier he became this mutant revolutionary and the total opposite of what the X-Men were created to stand for. This split the X-Men into two separate factions, with two separate agendas. So there’s that too. As sad as it all sounds, it was quite entertaining for the reader. Cyclops' side of things ended up becoming the more interesting X-book once Jason Aaron left Wolverine & The X-Men, which was (in my opinion) one of the best X-Men runs in a looong time.
And let’s not forget, the NOW period began with Beast bringing the original five X-Men to present day as some sort of way to convince modern Cyclops of his wrongdoing. Noble intentions, but also catastrophic to the timeline. I don’t understand how the First Class have decided to stay but the timeline has never changed, but I ain’t no time master! I leave that stuff to the British dudes with the phone booths!
Meanwhile, in what was probably the best turn of events we discovered that Bobby Drake (first the young version then the older version confirming it as well), was gay. Are you mortified? Well, that’s likely your own problem. It’s one of the most natural and current turn of events Marvel ever could have done. A character with that much history coming out of the closet? After staying IN the closet out of fear for that long? It’s the world we live in, get used to it. I truly hope Marvel continues to take this side story to places comics have WAY too long been scared to go to. And use it to help a lot of kids out there deal with similar issues. This was one of the things to come out of Marvel NOW that should be applauded.
We also saw the death of the most popular X-Man of all, Wolverine. Or that’s how it seemed. He got incased in liquid adamantium, so it’s hard to say if he’s truly dead or not. It was a sad thing to see for this diehard mutie fan, but thanks to Secret Wars, Old Man Logan is stuck in the modern timeline to pick up the slack, and that turned out pretty fun.
Going into the All-New era, it appears the Terrigen bomb that Black Bolt set off had an adverse effect on the mutant population. Sterilized, is a better word. No new mutants for now, which isn’t the worst thing that could happen (seeing as there’s already hundreds), but the mists have ALSO brought plague to mutantkind. It brings a desperate element to the X-Men mythos, as their kind is almost being exterminated. YET, they will still be heroes. They will still do what’s right....and this X-Fan will stay loyal and keep reading. Movie rights politics or no, I’m not giving up on my muties!
Oh, and Deadpool. He’s more popular than freakin’ ever. Go figure.
This was Hickman’s grand opus, was it not? It was all very weird and science fictiony, but Jonathan Hickman’s take on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes definitely will have a long standing impact. The biggest Avengers roster ever (there were about 30 members at one point), faced everything from Thanos’ Black Order to a crazed Watcher murdering Old Man Fury to cosmic geneticists, and finally a Godlike Doctor Doom.
Hickman’s style was off-putting and way too heady at times, but the best stories that came out of his run were pretty damn good. Especially New Avengers. I suggest everyone pick up that last volume of New Avengers, with focused on the Illuminati and their secretive quest to save the universe from destruction. It will change how you look at the “heroes” involved.
Uncanny Avengers was a big standout as well, as Rick Remender but together an amazing team of Avengers and X-Men to solve the world’s problems. There was death and sadness and the freakin’ APOCALYPSE TWINS.
I think though, Marvel NOW should be remembered for what awesome solo books starring Avengers members we were given. Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk, Hawkeye, ALL of them had pretty impressive single titles by the best writers in the industry during the NOW era. I think it’s safe to say Cap and Thor had the biggest changes of all, as they were both replaced by Sam Wilson and Jane Foster, two characters that had a whole lot to prove as more than simple supporting cast members.
I can’t say that I was 100% on board with what Marvel did to the Avengers books after Brian Michael Bendis’ run, but 89% of it was pretty great. And the All-New run looks to be going back to basics, with some awesome creative teams on board.
I felt the events needed their own section. We sure didn’t get the best Marvel events in the NOW era...a lot of them sort of felt, oh I don’t know, FORCED on us like our moms used to do with brussels sprouts. Original Sin and Axis I enjoyed quite a bit but then we were given Age of Ultron, an event that seemed way too forced and over hyped. And no, it had nothing to do with the movie whatsoever...apparently. I don’t know if Whedon wanted to distance itself from the not-so-good story arc or what, because I have a hard time believing that they didn’t name the Avengers sequel after the comic.
Then there was Infinity, which was so-so, in my opinion. It really did feel like a whole lot of not very much in terms of story. Thanos’ son and Builders and blah blah blah...it was a whole lot of Hickman, and not the most exciting event ever. Not to mention, it was a hell of a pain to follow with so many tie-ins in so many different titles. They really do need to stray away from that, it just annoys the readers.
Infinity did however, spring Inhumanity another crossover story arc that impacted the entire line of Marvel comic books, as it involved new Inhumans sprouting up all over the place and ended up giving us such heroes as Kamala Kahn, the new Ms. Marvel, as well as the new Avenger, Synapse. Inhumanity was a unique little event because it had no continuing miniseries and was just more or less told through whichever comics you happened to be reading at the moment. Less pressure!
Coming into the All-New era the first event seems to be Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill and it looks to be EXTREMELY interesting. Time will tell if I’m right or not.
So, there you have it with my look at what was Marvel NOW. The good, the bad, the confusing at times...but THIS guy stuck through it, and I’m going nowhere! I didn’t even get to the awesome stuff that was going on in Howard The Duck, Daredevil or S.H.I.E.L.D.! No matter who you are, there’s a Marvel title you can enjoy. And that has always been the goal for the company, I think.
That’s all for now! Keep reading and Bleed out!