I want to spend most of my chatter today talking about what has come of the Marvel Now! event so far, but first, a few selections from the Archives about Abraham’s Talk With The Animals Ability!

Abe Hankers after the Ability to Talk With Critters
(July 1, 2010)
The Forest Animals that Stopped a Mechanized Newton from Islandizing France (August 26, 2010)
Abe Strikes a Deal with Some Pigeons to Assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand (November 4, 2010)
On to Marvel NOW! If you’ve read us for a while, you know that I spend the great majority of my comic book cash on Marvel titles, and that I a great lover of continuity. Anything that smacks of a relaunch, then, tends to make me on the nervous side. Luckily, Marvel NOW is more of a redistribution of talent than a relaunch of the universe, but still, it’s a bit dizzying, so I thought I’d talk a bit about the stuff that I am finding good and less than good as a matter of putting more bodies in Local Comic Stores…
The Very Very Good:
Thor: God of Thunder: by Jason Aaron: I have loved Fraction on Iron Man, but his Thor I have been picking up mainly out of a sick need for completion. I haven’t Eagerly Awaited a new Thor book in a while now, but Aaron’s Thor has me right back in it. The trick with writing Thor has ever been getting the scale right – my favorite was Jurgens during the Lord of Asgard storyline, and this looks to be another in that tradition, with Thor’s existence as a god in a universe of gods and god slayers fully investigated across the fulness of time. In the first book, we see Thor in three different time periods: the 9th century, current day, and millenia in the future, and the character writing in them all shows an arc of development and understanding that’s been lacking for a long while. I am entirely excited.
Fantastic Four: by Matt Fraction: I loved Hickman on this book. The stand alone issue featuring The Thing’s life revisited every few hundred years is perhaps my favorite non-Waid FF issue ever. But Fraction is hitting all the right notes off the bat. A return to the spirit of positivistic curiosity which is the driving force behind why so many of us read the book, but with a throb of desperation beating slowly beneath. Ah, it’s good stuff.
The Decidedly Good:
Iron Man: By Kieron Gillen: I would have put this in the above category, but the art by Land (and, yes, I know I’m the last person to be talking about art) puts me off in a way that I constantly had to ignore – pages where to make any progress I had to just read the word balloons and only skim the art without taking in too many details lest I get dragged down by what is Bothersome about each expression. The Death of Comics called this perfectly – the live faces start with a basic emotion and then always express it just One Step Too Far. Check out Tony’s smile on page 3, panel 3, or the tongue positioning of the look of “shock” on page 7, panel 4, or the constructed from clay appearance of homeboy’s mouth on the second panel of the last page for a few examples. Just distracting.
Which is a shame, because what it’s distracting from has some promise. Uncanny X-Men, A v X Consequences, and Journey Into Mystery have all shown us what Gillen can do with a character, even when hemmed in by restrictive plot guidelines, and there are sparks of that in the setup here. Gillen has given me some of the greatest moments in comic reading over the past year, and I don’t see how he could fail to deliver that here as well.
All New X-Men: by Brian Michael Bendis: I have always liked Bendis – people say that Avengers has been running on fumes for a while now, but I still enjoy it every bit as much as I always have. I am a dialogue hussy, and nobody has an ear for it like Bendis – it doesn’t matter what the situation is, and Marvel high ups have crafted some profoundly dismal situations for the writers to hack their way out of, Bendis can reach into the human characters and find something real and interesting for them to say to each other, and that will always keep me coming back. The first issue of this book is setup, but already the placement of Beast as the emotional and narrative center strikes me as a great one which will lend a certain heft and understanding to the line of the story that is often absent in the X titles.
X Men Legacy: By Simon Spurrier: I have made zero secret of the fact that Spurrier’s X-Club is my favorite comic mini series ever. So, I was very excited to see him taking on an ongoing title. While I know that it’s not going to give me any more of the Dr Nemesis Riding a Shark While Singing Wagner goodness that X Club dishes out on every page, the pure inventiveness, the pouring out of ideas, is right here in this issue from the get go. It centers on Xavier’s son David Haller, about whom I know absolutely nothing, and that deficit of knowledge worked against my really grasping this book as I might have. But it sparkles with new ideas and the willingness to tell a story about the mutant psyche without throwing in a fist fight halfway through.
The Let’s Give This a Couple Issues Titles:
Uncanny Avengers: by Rick Remender: Remender’s Uncanny X-Force is fantastic. I read Uncanny Avengers 2 weeks ago, and don’t remember a thing about it. I just looked at it again, and still can’t come up with really anything to say. It’s getting its pieces in place for a big Red Skull story arc, presumably building off of elements from Fear Itself, which is still my least favorite Marvel Event of all time, so it’s hard for me to really latch onto anything here, but I’ll trust Remender for at least a few more issues.
Red She Hulk: by Jeff Parker: John Byrne’s She Hulk was, perhaps, more than anything else, the thing that made me love Marvel Comics. While DC was sinking deeper and deeper into its monotonic self-seriousness (which I’m happy that it is pulling itself out of with broader titles like Demon Knights), Marvel was putting out a full emotional spectrum of books that had things to offer for the non perpetually angsty. Slott kept that fire going and his She Hulk was routinely the first thing I read when it was in my bag. Red She Hulk isn’t like any of that – it’s a straight up story about a rogue superpowered human trying to shut down a governmental super soldier plan while the Avengers chase her around. Excruciatingly by the numbers so far, but old loyalties die hard.
The Unspeakably Bad:
Deadpool: by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn: This is easily, by several orders of magnitude, the worst Deadpool comic I’ve ever read, and realistically in contention for the worst comic I’ve ever read, period. Achingly unfunny – flat dialogue, stale jokes, and a gutting of everything that made Deadpool interesting and amusing in favor of puerile and obvious comedic moves. Whereas the comedy of Deadpool in Nicieza and Way’s versions was accomplished largely by a very clever interweaving of the different voices in Deadpool’s head, Posehn and Duggan just have him turn to the camera, mug, and do a “Hey Folks, here’s a joke!” moment. Awful, awful, awful. Some say that this is redeemed by the overarching idea – that of dead US Presidents forming a plan to take over the world – but an idea with potential executed with brutish laziness is for me SO much worse than a shitty idea executed as one might expect.
– Count Dolby von Luckner