Fastball Feedback: Marvel Edition Featuring Ms. Marvel #1 & More

with plenty of new #1’s from the House of Ideas dropping every Wednesday. This week there are [...]

Ms Marvel #1 Cover
(Photo: Cliff Chiang)

The launch of All-New, All-Different Marvel is in full swing (as Secret Wars continues to aim at concluding in 2015) with plenty of new #1's from the House of Ideas dropping every Wednesday. This week there are seven new series featuring a wide variety of talent, characters, and styles. We're taking a look a few of the most exciting debuts to help you decide what's worth checking out and possibly save some extra strain on your wallet.

Ms Marvel #1 Review
(Photo: Takeshi Miyazawa)

Ms. Marvel #1

Written by G. Willow Wilson

Art by Takeshi Miyazawa and Adrian Alphona

Colors by Ian Herring

Ms. Marvel is back and every bit as charming, fun, and caring as ever. Even with a new number one and a transition in art, this is clearly the comic that so many readers, both new and old, fell head over heels in love with. The creative team takes advantage of this over-sized issue to hit on all of the highlights of Ms. Marvel as well. Teen friendships and romance, the joy of fandom, over-the-top villains: it's all there in one returning series that couldn't have gotten here soon enough.

The issue is split into two parts with the first introducing new series artist Takeshi Miyazawa. It picks up almost directly from where the previous volume ended. 8 months may have passed, but G. Willow Wilson's script gracefully leaps back into the rhythm of everyday life in Jersey City while introducing changes and new elements. Miyazawa possesses his own art style, but clearly detailed linework and exaggerated forms fit perfectly into the tone of the series. He is just as accomplished in his compositions and deliveries (of both action and comedy) as Adrian Alphona, making this handoff almost seamless. Ian Herring's soft colors also help to build a bridge between the two artists. His palette perfectly accentuates the high school drama and absurdities of this world, making them feel perfectly at home together.

That smoothness is featured in the comic itself, as the final third transitions to Alphona's pencils in a flashback sequence. This story focuses primarily on Bruno and reveals just how lovingly crafted Kamala Khan's supporting cast has been characterized. A Bruno story is every bit as endearing and enjoyable as a Kamala one. The introduction of Mike shows that this cast will only continue to grow, and Wilson avoids innumerable troublesome tropes in order to deliver a fully formed human being in only ten pages. It's a clear sign that Ms. Marvel hasn't only returned at full strength, but that this series is going to be even better than ever.

Grade: A-

Black Knight #1 Review
(Photo: Luca Pizarri)

Black Knight #1

Written by Frank Tieri

Art by Luca Pizarri

Colors by Antonio Fabela

Weirdworld was one of the best comics to come out during the Secret Wars event. It presented a wonderful setting that could be endlessly mined for high fantasy and adventure. That's what made the announcement of two Weirdworld series so exciting and the debut of Black Knight, the first of these, such a disappointment. Black Knight #1 fails to capitalize on any of the potential of Weirdworld, opting to churn out a hackneyed story featuring a non-character in a poorly illustrated adventure instead.

The script of Black Knight #1 reads like a drunken imitation of a bad Mike Grell story. There are nefarious enemies and a conflicted hero in a sword and sorcery world, but not a single one of these elements feels fresh or even entertaining. From the hero Dane Whitman to the reptilian hordes he battles, each character reads like a cheap imitation of something that has been seen many times before. Beyond being a facsimilie of entertaining comics, Black Knight #1 fails to even tell its story well. Key facts are referenced, but never actually made explicit. These items are not mysteries, but details simply forgotten. Even worse, much of the issue is bogged down by Whitman's narrative that reads like the ramblings of a "man off the street" on the Jersey Shore, speaking a lot, but saying very little.

Luca Pizarri does nothing to ameliorate these flaws. His layouts are clear, but the pencils within them all appear rushed, often leaving the impression of having only been sketched or delivering anatomies that don't quite cohere. His inattention to detail shines through in many panels, including one with a Betty Ross Flag containing 16 stars, instead of 13. Excluding one splash of a waterfall setting, his work is a hurried jumble. Much like Pizarri and Tieri, readers who decided to pick up this issue will be inclined to get through it quickly. There are no rewards to be found here and the more quickly it is set aside, the better.

Grade: D

Star-Lord #1 Review
(Photo: Javi Garron)

Star-Lord #1

Written by Sam Humphries

Art by Javi Garron

Colors by Antonio Fabela with Frank D'Armata

Peter Quill is currently ruling over his father's empire and engaged to Kitty Pride, the current Star-Lord, which makes this (largely) continuity free new Star-Lord series such a refreshing take. Rather than jump into the heart of the Marvel universe, write Sam Humphries and artist Javi Garron take a step back to redo the origins of this increasingly popular character. The result is a fun, if minor, adventure story that feels true to the character.

Garron's work is primarily set in a militaristic take on NASA that focuses more heavily on people than any special effects. His characters are easily distinguished and read, but never provide as much excitement or humor as when a spaceship finally hits the skies. The design for this particular speedy spacecraft isn't inspiring, but its sleek appearance is far from generic. A chase scene between it and a couple of jets provides a couple of nice moments, especially when colorist Antonio Fabela gets to light up the sky around the ship. Star-Lord #1 reads like a pilot's comic, much like the best Hal Jordan stories, and Garron's work in the air will continue to be key in making that connect with readers.

The story itself is comfortable with the clichés in plays. Quill's orphaned origin comes complete with a harried caretaker who can't give the young man anymore chances. A scene in which Quill proves himself to be the smartest guy in the room from the position of a janitor reads like a poor man's Good Will Hunting. Humphries is telling this story in broad strokes that may not drive fans of the character away, but certainly won't earn him any new ones either. Where Star-Lord goes next will be the most interesting part of the series. The first issue is buried in an origin that, while nicely simplified is also rote, but what happens in space after this may give it the speed it needs to really take off.

Grade: B-

What did you think of this week's comics? Sound off in the comments below.