Marvel NOW! Begins: Reviewing Iron Man, Deadpool (And Uncanny Avengers)

The first month of Marvel NOW! has finally kicked off in earnest and, as we did with DC Comics's The New 52, we'll be taking a look at each new #1 and evaluating how the relaunch fares both overall and on a title-by-title basis.

We start this week not only with two new #1 issues but with a #1 that we never really looked at back in October for practical reasons.

Uncanny Avengers #1: B-

Since this comic hit the week of New York Comic Con, we never got a chance to write it up in-depth (although we did talk a little bit about its shock ending)--and have since discussed some of the practical concerns facing the title, which appears to be shipping every six weeks (as opposed to Marvel's current business plan of every two weeks for most of its major titles).

Logan's eulogy was beautiful, and some of the character work in the issue really works well. It's a great introductory issue because almost everything you need to know is there on the page. But that last page splash burned off so much of the goodwill the rest of the issue had built up for me not only because it was needlessly grotesque, but because the last five or so pages of the issue were almost a completely different book than what had been established up to that point.

After Xavier's funeral and a surprisingly well-written argument between Havok and Cyclops, it becomes obvious that the whole book is really about Xavier's dream, whether it's achievable and what that means for the mutants. That's something that will apparently spill over into Uncanny X-Men, where Cyclops will team up with Magneto and Emma Frost, among others, and that's set up a bit here, when Magneto seems very affected by watching Wolverine's eulogy for Xavier on a monitor.

Avalanche, whose influence by the Phoenix is replaced by influence from an "unseen hand," goes ballistic in the center of New York and starts killing people in what's the turning point moment of the issue. Having just rejected Captain America and Thor's offer to lead a team of Avengers, Havok joins them in battle against Avalanche, too late to stop him but in time to save most of the lives he put in danger.  On another battlefront, the X-Mansion is attacked by a group of villains who meet up with, and quickly dispatch,a  powerful-but-squabbling pair of mutants. Those developments will likely come back into play as that pair of mutants are both team members, per the cover and solicitation information, even though the team does nothing like getting together in this issue and, given the delays on #2 and #3, it might be a long time before we get that far into the story.

Deadpool #1: A

When we discussed the title with writers Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan earlier this week, they talked about having some fun with the idea that Dead Presidents would rise from the dead in an issue that came out just after election day. Well, it's a fun book in general, and Duggan has a little fun with that, as well, telling fans in one of the Marvel AR-enhanced pages at the issue's end to be sure and vote on November 13, becuase voter turnout is so important.

In fact, all of the AR features are a bit irreverent, including Duggan claiming that he's been killed by Rick Remender to a quick-and-quippy rundown of a two-page splash in which a number of dead Presidents of the United States are seen in a bizarre orgy.

It's the interactions with the rest of the Marvel Universe that really make this issue; Deadpool here definitely doesn't have the same Marvel MAX edge that he's been written with in the recent past, but Posehn and Duggan ably keep hold on the key parts of his character nonetheless, bringing a book that's less bogged down in the Marvel Event of the Day and more self-reliant, without diminishing Deadpool's importance to or connection with the larger Marvel Universe by doing so. The premise, and the character's depiction, it pitch-perfect.

And, as has happened a couple of times with other irreverent, oddball takes on characters like Booster Gold, the comic drops a potential tagline for the comic - "He's not the hero we deserve, he's the scumbag we need" - right into the dialogue without it feeling forced or out of place.

Iron Man #1: B

In the case of the first couple of issues, it was the writing that drew most of our analysis (although both Cassaday and Tony Moore acquitted themselves beautifully in their respective comics above), but with Iron Man, it's Greg Land's art that draws the most attention--and not always in a good way.

Land is one of those guys who, like Terry Moore has described himself, clearly loves women and, by extension, drawing them. The handful of beautiful ladies in this comic were really well-done, as was the technology and the action stuff. Where his work suffered was in drawing Tony Stark and other non-super men.

Unfortunately, since the comic opened with about five pages of Tony trying to make it with a lucky, manipulative young thing at the bar, the fact that Tony looks odd and ugly in many of the shots sticks out a bit.

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That said, the issue itself is a nice piece of setup. The Extremis virus has been unleashed on the world, and its creator is unable to help stop it. She does manage to get Tony Stark the message, though, and so he's on a mission to put that demon back in the bottle.

His words, not ours. Yeah, they make the "Demon in a bottle" reference a couple of times and drop a straight-up "I'm an alcoholic" to benefit new readers. One has to assume taht they're planning on the collected edition of this arc coming out around the same time as the movie's release--it's got Extremis, a brief Maya Hansen appearance, an armor that looks similar to what we've seen in some promo shots from the movie and more. The only thing missing is that the romance between Tony and Pepper--which Robert Downey, Jr. thinks is key to the characters and which plays a huge role in the Marvel movies--isn't a factor here.