Writers: Al Ewing, Dan Slott, James Robinson, Nathan Edmondson, G. Willow Wilson, Nick Spencer
Artists: Lee Garbett, Mike Allred, Steve Pugh, Phil Noto, Adrian Alphona, Rags Morales
Release Date: January 8, 2014
What do you do when you’re launching a wave of new monthlies in a marketplace that rejects almost every new series? Throw a bunch of lead-in stories into a single comic and hope it gets readers to try books they otherwise wouldn’t. It’s a basic concept that seems like a no-brainer, but it’s hard to tell how well it ever works. Marvel’s tried similar ideas before but, again, few new books outside of the most popular and proven characters last much longer than a year. Who knows, though: Maybe Atlas and Hawkeye & Mockingbird would’ve lasted even less than half a year without their Enter the Heroic Age #1 intro.
All-New Marvel Now! Point One #1 is the latest (and most cumbersomely titled) hype anthology tied to a brand-wide marketing tag. It’s smartly positioned at the very start of the year, which lends it a genuine air of newness and now-ness. Like most anthologies, it’s got some good parts and some bad parts. The quality of any individual component can’t counteract the book’s most glaring absurdity, though, which is that $5.95 price tag on the cover. This type of book should be Marvel’s annual Free Comic Book Day giveaway and not the cost of a cheap paperback.
Say you’re interested in the upcoming Silver Surfer book from Dan Slott and Mike Allred. Of course you’ll want to read that book’s lead-in from this anthology. You’ll pay six bucks for a short vignette that briefly sets up this new angle on the character amid five other stories that you might not even bother reading. Again, that’s exactly the point of a book like this, expanding the potential reader base of every book that’s previewed within, but that high price is a burden this book doesn’t quite overcome.
At least Slott and Allred tell their tale with wit and style. The “All-New Invaders” intro from James Robinson and Steve Pugh pulls the emergency brake on the whole book with eight pages of stilted exposition set on the Kree homeworld. These eight interminable pages aren’t the best pitch for a 22 page monthly. The Loki-starring framing sequence from Al Ewing and Lee Garbett isn’t dull, but splitting it up between the other shorts was a bad call—it’s too fragmented on its own and too disconnected thematically and narratively from the stories it surrounds.
Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s “Black Widow” snippet best exploits the format—it establishes the new book’s concept while telling an entire self-contained story (with an in media res opening, no less) in only eight pages. The “Ms. Marvel” short from G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona hints at a fun and insightful teen dramedy set within its own corner of the Marvel Universe, and, like the “Silver Surfer” piece, is a fine example of how to sell the ambivalent on your new comic. A slick spy short and two cute, but slight, previews make up a small return on this investment, though.