I started my all-digital comic book-reading life last week with a haul that includes the first issues of all three new Marvel NOW! titles: Black Widow #1, All-New X-Factor #1, and Avengers World #1. I figured this is a great time to start reviewing comics again on a regular basis like I did before. Let’s start with Avengers World #1 by writers Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer, and artist Stefano Caselli.
Avengers World #1
I’m still getting used to Hickman’s large cast of Avengers in the main book, so it’s nice to see that we’re starting off with a relatively smaller cast in this issue. It’s also refreshing to read a Hickman book that packs in a lot of story beats in one issue as opposed to his usual decompressed execution. I guess we have Nick Spencer to thank for this busier but still easy enough to follow narrative.
I’m not saying there’s a lot of story here, though. While it’s an interesting kickoff to a new Avengers book, it’s still all set-up. What really gets me excited is the different interactions between members of each group. I’m particularly psyched about the crackling energy of the threesome of Cannonball, Sunspot, and Smasher.
Also, am I the only one who thinks that symbol on Smasher’s chest looks like a penis? She has a penis on her boob area, you guys. I’m kidding. No, I’m not. But hey, dick-on-boobs aside, Stefano Caselli did a bang up job on this issue. I’ve been a fan of his since Avengers: The Initiative. I like that he has a bolder style now with more pronounced lines — or maybe it’s just the colors and the inks? Either way, it looks great. All in all, this issue is a solid introduction to a brave new Avengers World (sorry I had to say it). I give it 4 out of 5 cranky Maria Hills.
All-New X-Factor #1
Ahh, Peter David and X-Factor. I was sad to see the last X-Factor book go, but when I found out David is working on a new X-Factor book, it made things just a little bit better. And now that All-New X-Factor #1 is here, I… still feel just a little bit better? I know that doesn’t sound too enthusiastic, but maybe I’m still bummed that the members of X-Factor Investigations have gone their separate ways.
With a brand new concept, it’s hard to fall in love immediately with this new X-Factor team led by Polaris. But hey, Quicksilver is here. I love that jerkface and I’m pretty sure David can come up with fun ways to have Pietro make things interesting for everyone. In fact, we already see sparks flying between the three (so far) members of the now corporate team.
Man, I can’t remember the last time I was amused by a comic book with Gambit in it. But like I said before, if there’s anyone who can make Gambit interesting, it’s Peter David.
On the art side, I’m not really fond of Carmine Di Giandomenico’s style, so I think I need to get used to it before I could appreciate it. His detailed backgrounds are nice, though. Right now, it’s just David’s track record on X-Factor that’s going to make me come back for #2. I think I just expected too much from this issue. I give it 3.5 out of 5 members of the old X-Factor that I really miss.
Black Widow #1
Black Widow #1 by Nathan Edmondson and the amazing Phil Noto is my favorite new Marvel NOW! book so far, no doubt about it. I picked this up solely because of Phil Noto and his gorgeous art. I always thought his covers and commissions were amazeballs, but I haven’t really seen his interior work until now. And man, it is pretty.
Noto’s art isn’t the only star here, though. I’m not familiar with Nathan Edmondson’s work, so I came in blind. I didn’t expect to be won over by the first few pages of story. From that thrilling first scene down to Natasha talking to her cat, Edmondson just kept winning me over and over. In a single issue, he gave us plenty of action while giving Natasha Romanov a whole new layer of character.
The Black Widow is not just an Avenger, agent, and assassin; Natasha Romanov is a mystery. She is a woman seeking atonement. She is someone who plays by her own rules. She is a cat owner. She is the motherfucking Black Widow. You have just gained a new fan, Mr. Edmondson. I give it 5 out of 5 fake Black Widow origins.
It was a strong start for the second wave of Marvel NOW! If this is the kind of quality we can expect from the rest of the new titles, we are in for some good comics, y’all. And that is all from me for now. Thanks for reading!