Jay Gabel examines “Marvel NOW!”

Marvel-NOW_Promo-Art_EW_JQ I do not like DC Comics.
    I’ll admit my bias. At first, my dislike was a simple taste thing: superheroes in DC are revered in their universe like Greek gods, whereas Marvel’s were just people with powers in a more distrustful world. Two different styles, neither necessarily better than the other, just had my preference.
    Then The New 52 hit. I’m a pretty huge fan of a deep continuity (it’s why I started reading comics at all), so when DC said they were chucking it all at once to reboot their line, I was disgusted. You know, that kind of disgusted that only really nerdy people get about things like this that’s totally irrational, and swore to not touch DC Comics, like, EVER. When I calmed down and looked at a few things, I found I still didn’t like the stories that this New 52 had to tell. I’m looking at you, Scott Snyder’s Batman. I hate you.
    Add in this Before Watchmen business, and I just really don’t like DC Comics.
    So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I heard rumors that Marvel might be New 52-ing things up afterAVX.
    Sitting down to read the news on this, I realized that hey, this isn’t news!  Editor-in-chief Axel Alonso has stated, “This ain’t a reboot. It’s a new beginning.”  My anger and worry subsided, and were replaced with a groan and me facepalming before futily waving my middle fingers at Marvel’s website.
    Alonso’s statement is telling of a few things. Most importantly, I believe he is completely telling the truth, which means that Marvel NOW! is nothing more than the name they’re using this time in their bi-yearly renumbering.  Marvel loves to relaunch series with new #1s, ever since their absurd success with first issues in the early ’90s. Looking at Marvel’s output, a lot of their flagship titles are almost consistently in their first 25 issues. Only a few years ago we had all of the Avengers titles relaunch in The Heroic Age. The X-Men titles were just reworked under Regenesis. The ’90s had Heroes Reborn and Heroes Return. In between, when Bendis began his Avengers run,Captain America and Iron Man both restarted at #1, and the only thing that changed in those books were the creative teams.
    And really, that’s all Marvel NOW! is: a large scale shuffling of the creative teams on top tier books. I like that. I like when some of the industry’s top talent take on some of my favorite superheroes. It’s been working well in X-Men all year, and while it really, really sucks that Bendis is heading over to screw with that corner of Marvel, it means the hype machine will also be backing things like Hickman’s Avengers, which I want to read. And some of the new titles might be good, too. They surprised me handing what is to be the flagship title, Uncanny Avengers, to Rick Remender, but his writing has been one of the unexpected highlights of the year. Let’s see what he does with the keys to the car. Also, Rocket Raccoon has been in promo material, and he’s my favorite. I can’t wait to see his return.
    What I don’t like is all of the comparisons being drawn to The New 52. Alonso’s statement that “This ain’t a reboot. It’s a new beginning,” is calculated to draw those comparisons. That’s the other thing his statement told us: he wants in on some of that reboot hype, even if that’s not the plan.
    That sums up my feelings on Marvel NOW! in a nutshell. There are some interesting things coming but not because of the rebranding.  They’re interesting because of the people working on them. When I was asked to write a piece on Marvel NOW!, I struggled to find any reaction to it at all. It’s just a media blitz.
    So why does it seem to bother me?  It doesn’t, honestly. I just can’t not be cynical when talking about it. I’m pretty young, and I’ve already seen a hilarious amount of renumberings in the time I’ve read comics. I have, like, 3 different comics all called “Avengers #1.” Calling it Marvel NOW! this time around doesn’t make it actually matter. If they reboot with another #1, I’ll buy it.  I’ll be buying it because Hickman’s writing Avengers, though, not because of the new numbering. Did I mention that Hickman’s writing Avengers (and New Avengers, according to announcements I just found), and that’s awesome?  Anyway, I think I’m cynical because these new #1s haven’t actually meant anything as long as I’ve been reading comics.
    Or it’s probably because I remember how banking on first issue hype for sales worked out in the long term last time.
*I lied. I only have two “Avengers #1’s,”  two “New Avengers #1,” and one each of “Young Avengers #1,” “Mighty Avengers #1,” and “Secret Avengers #1.”  I didn’t buy “Dark Avengers #1,” “Avengers: The Initiative #1,” “Avengers Academy #1,” or “Avengers Assemble! #1.”  Sorry about exaggerating.