Marvel steals the show this week with several important releases: Point One, Battle Scars #1, Avenging Spider-Man #1, Magneto: Not a Hero #1, and Avengers Origins: Vision

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Point One

Big words surround this title, making me skeptical before I even opened the first page. Marvel’s summary states “Catch a tease of the biggest change to the Marvel Universe in over 35 years!” … I haven’t been keeping a record of every line from every press release, but I’m pretty sure Marvel’s been saying similar stuff like this about every “next big thing” for years. So what’s the big deal about this one?

Well, think of it as a massive preview issue. You get to “read before you buy” (in a sense) by buying this issue. The preview stories include looks at the following upcoming storylines: The March Towards Ultron in Avengers #19, Doctor Strange’s Quest in Defender’s #1, The Rise of the X-Terminated in Uncanny X-Force #19.1 – prelude to Age of Apocalypse #1, and Kain’s Journey in Scarlet Spider #1. These storylines will have their actual commencements in 2012.

The entire issue actually contained 7 different stories, each by a different writer. These were some big names writing the mini-stories in this issue: Brubaker, Loeb, Yost, Fraction, Bendis, Van Lente, and Lapham. Ultimately, some stories were certainly better and more alluring than others. But that is the point of Point One – to provide readers with the foresight of which upcoming series they will probably want to follow in 2012.

The down side? While this issue is 64 pages, which is certainly hefty for a comic book issue, but it is also $5.99, which is rather expensive for something that is still only going to take about a half of an hour to read. I was also bit annoyed by the layout. I liked the overall story linking each mini together (which was called Behold the Watcher and had an amusingly nostalgic feel about it) but each individual story wasn’t really labeled very well. While I could tell by the changing name of location city and the shift in artwork styles that my last mini-story had ended and the next had begun I really would have liked something indicating that the “vision” of the watcher was changing and I would now be switching to see a different present/future unfold.

Overall, though, I think it was worth the buy merely to give a heads-up on what we are in store for next year. Biggest change in over 35 years? Well … I guess we’ll see.

 

Battle Scars #1 of 6

There’s a new character in town and, though he’s not a superhero, he apparently has the power to change the Marvel Universe. Battle Scars #1 is from the point of view of Marcus Johnson, an Army Ranger serving in the heat of battle in Afghanistan. Little did he know that when he came home to the States for his mother’s funeral, the battling would just get worse.

Battle Scars follows the heat of the effects of the Fear Itself again. By seeing things through Marcus’s point of view, we readers get a chance to see what it’s like on the ground floor as the world is falling apart in mass hysteria caused by global fear. But Marcus learns that it wasn’t just the mobs rioting in fear that caused his mother’s death. No, the bullet he found in her house was grade A. Russian military quality. Which begs the question – what the hell really happened to her? He doesn’t have much time to ponder the question before he is attacked by Russian offenders, though they claim they weren’t the cause of his mother’s death.

There are some aspects of real quality to this book – the art is well done – both drawn and colored. The mystery is set-up well. The issue is character-centric without being boring or without action. And, lastly, it does seem that this was merely the front door issue to what is going to turn into a lot larger in the scale of the MU.

All those good point factored in, somehow I still wasn’t kept on the edge of my seat, though I think that’s probably a very hard thing for writers to achieve in an introduction issue, so therefore forgivable. These writers, Chris Yost, Cullen Bunn and Matt Fraction certainly have a challenge in front of them if they are going to make this brand-spanking-new character important enough rock this series.

 

Avenging Spider-Man #1

Oh how Spider-Man makes me smile! No matter how much crap this guy’s gone through, he always can come back to the fun, laugh-out-loud books without missing a beat. And, considering Zeb Wells is writing this series with Joe Madureira and Freen Daniel arting things up, it could have hardly been anything other than AWESOME. This was hands down my favorite comic of the week. What can I say, while drama and action might pull me in and capture my attention, if you make me laugh that’s when I’m truly yours!

In classic Spider-Man style, we will see the web-slinger team up with some of the biggest characters in comics in this series. Steve Wacker, senior editor, provided an extensive list of some of the guest heroes we might be seeing in the near future: Wolverine (duh), Captain America, Spider-Woman, Hulk, Thor, Ms. Marvel, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Blade, Black Widow, Thuderbolts, Black Panther, Ghost Rider, Shroud, Invaders, Stingray, Cable, Venom, D-Man, Photon, Cyclops, Spider-Girl, Captain Britain, the Protector, Namor, Hercules, Wiccan, Beast, Mockingbird, Tigra, Nova, The Watcher, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Stature, Madame Web, Scarlet Spider, Patriot, Nick Fury, and Planet Terry (really?).

The first hero flavor of the season is Hulk (the red one). The dynamic between him and Spider-Man is even more contrasted in personalities than that of the typical Spider-Man/Wolverine combo, which is highly amusing to watch. The villain? Mole Man. Sorta. You’ll see if you read.

I highly recommend this title, even though it’s $3.99. At least it’s only a once-per-month title. It also includes a free digital copy offer, so I guess that’s something too. I don’t follow Spider-Man as closely as I should, so this is a nice Spidey fix for me.

 

Magneto: Not a Hero #1 of 4

I was a bit disappointed to find out that this issue was not about Magneto turning back over that old leaf. We find out very quickly that he was, at least according to him, framed. He is now extremely determined to find out who framed him for the brutal murder of 40 members of a small anti-mutant group.

So Captain America and Iron Man are, understandably, rather p.o’ed that this situation has even happened and Cyclops and Magneto offer, in response, a rather unconvincing argument towards Magneto’s innocence that somehow (through force, as usual) bides them more time. (Witty banter ensues.)

Somehow Emma Frost gets in the middle of all this (because when, lately, is she not in the middle of something?) and telepathically uses Magneto’s new Cerebra–based machine to help him catch the actual perpetrator. Who it is might actually surprise you. Or maybe I just easily surprised, because I didn’t see it coming.

Overall this is a solid issue, but I can’t help but wonder that with everything else happening to the X-men right now, and Marvel trying to push the sale of all of their (many) ongoing series, if it is really worth the investment on the readers’ end. If you are interested, though, you will be happy to know that this limited series is selling for $2.99/issue.

Taking the helm on this project is writer Skottie Young with pencils by Clay Mann and ink work by Seth Mann and Norman Lee. This limited series is a nice break from the main writers and the main ongoing series, if you need to just relax with a contained plot that doesn’t feel like it’s going to get terribly out of control.

 

Avengers Origins: Vision (One-Shot)

The Avengers Origins series is a line of One-shots that are nice little refresher courses in the background of select Avenger members. This second issue focuses around Vision. I was happy to see Vision getting his own origin issue, as he is one of the staple Avengers members who is often overlooked and rarely has the lime light these days.

This issue goes back to his first days of existence as a creation of Ultron’s. Subsequently, readers also get a nice little summary/reminder of who Ultron is and his background as well. Simultaniously we see those acting in the current (of that time) Avengers team – Black Panther, Hawkeye, Giant-man (aka Goliath), and Wasp.

The real hook to this story is that it defines both Vision as well as what makes the Avengers team so special. We can easily see how Vision turns his back on his creator, drawn to the unique quality of the Avengers team. Vision was able to see Hank and Janet as both people and heroes, and therefore attracts the Vision who is still learning what it means to be alive and have the certain feelings that humans tend to have. He is not like Ultron in essentials though he, like Ultron, turns on his creator.

The shaky part of Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel’s duel writing in this issue lies with their pacing. The first few pages were a bit jarring and too-quick to move forward. Then it all ended just as I was really getting into it. I rather wish this book could have been longer and gone into more detail while still playing with those strengths that I mentioned above.

This issue is certainly not an essential read to keep up with current events, but it was a fun read and I often forget to pay much notice to Vision as a character, so it was a nice way to pay him homage and enjoy what he brings to the Avengers.

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