SUNDAY SLUGFEST: Point One #1A comic review article by: Kyle Garret, Jamil Scalese
If the goal of a book like this -- a book created as a way of enticing people into reading the other books that it is, in theory, giving hints to -- is to get me to care about these stories enough to read the titles the branch off from this book, then this fails. I’d call it an "epic fail" but I’m actually living in 2011.
It’s not that Point One is all that bad; it’s just not all that good. It starts off well enough, which shouldn’t be surprising since it features a story about The Watcher written by Ed Brubaker and drawn by Javier Pulido. If that combo doesn’t appeal to you, then you should reconsider comic books as a hobby.
Things take a turn for the worse faster than you can say "epic fail." See, that’s what Nova says in response to an entire planet being destroyed. You read that right -- an entire planet dies and Nova says "epic fail." Shit like this drives me insane. It’s obviously awful, yet apparently neither of the two editors involved decided to point this out to Jeph Loeb because, well, because comic book editors don’t actually edit anymore.
The biggest surprise has to be the story that sets up the new Age of Apocalypse series. I thought it was odd that it was so dark and enjoyable -- until I saw the credits. At the very least, Marvel should get a ton of credit for continuing to give David Lapham work, because he’s really just that good.
Sadly, the rest of the book is an exercise in mediocrity and, perhaps even more disappointing, brand building. The aforementioned Age of Apocalypse story is yet another X-Men book. The Scarlet Spider story is perfectly okay, but there’s no reason for it, aside from another attempt at expanding the Spider-Man franchise. The solo Dr. Strange story is actually kind of nice, but, again, it’s only here to lead into a Defenders book that absolutely no one demanded, and that’s connected to Marvel’s never-ending crossovers. And I have no doubts that the strange little future Avengers story that we get will end up being an event of some kind, which will require multiple new titles.
The oddity of this book is "Yin and Yang." While the story connects to the Avengers at the end, it seems awfully out of place. It’s also an unfortunate mix of Asian clichés. So, these two characters were conjoined twins. One of them has "dragon" as part of his codename. And the story is called "Yin and Yang." Take a guess what ethnicity they are. Really, people? Really?
I do have to say, though, it was nice to see Salvador Larroca drawing again, as opposed to doing celebrity likenesses.
The problem, ultimately, is that this is more of the same from Marvel. Creator-owned books have no limitations and are beginning to challenge the Big Two in sales. DC’s relaunch has been successful due in no small part to the diversity of genres in their offerings. In the meantime, Marvel isn’t just giving us the same old superhero stories we’ve always gotten, but they’re stories tied directly to books that are already being published.
I went into this book hoping to be enticed by upcoming Marvel stories. I left saddened by the miss opportunity.
Kyle Garret is the author of I Pray Hardest When I'm Being Shot At, available now from Hellgate Press. His short fiction has been published in the Ginosko Literary Journal, Literary Town Hall, Children, Churches, & Daddies and Falling Into Place. He writes comic book reviews here at Comic Bulletin and blogs for PopMatters. He can be found at KyleGarret.com and on Twitter at @kylegarret.
After praising them for an anthology, I have to say Marvel missed that net on this one, featuring bigger and longer tenured talent. Then again, I'm not even sure this was an anthology -- those have complete stories.
Meant as preview for the next year of the publisher's stories, Point One merely feels like a promotional tool. While marketing and material need to cross somewhere in today's world there is still a responsibility to tell a story, which nearly every piece in Point One failed to do. While most of the creators are big-time Marvel names only a couple put together a narrative arc. Instead of running down the stories and dealing out synopses, let break it down into the Good, Bad, and The, Uh, What?
I'm a "save a best for last" kind of guy, but with the lack of sparkling gems let's start off on a positive: sneak peeks are awesome. The real reason people hate spoilers so much is because we all secretly love them. Having the information beforehand is always fun, and the energy behind this project is that we get to see what's coming for our favorite heroes before they do. We all know the bigwigs plan these arcs beforehand, and we know that somewhere Keiron Gillen is writing a Cyclops/Silver Surfer team up in preparation for the forthcoming Phoenix event.
The framing story for this -- an Ed Brubaker tale about two dudes in funky spacesuits dropping in the Watcher while he's taking a cosmic nap -- is whimsical and inventive. Javier Pulido's art hits tones of Ditko and carries and congeals the comic as a whole. The story is limited by its nature but apparently Brubaker is working on something with the Watcher, and the end of the sequence implies we might be seeing the funky astronauts again.
The "Myth of Man" is the only story from the one shot that stayed with me and really generated natural excitement. The story opens in the Age of Apocalypse and focuses on a mutant putting his mutant son to sleep with the pleasant story of the downfall of humans. The mutant, named Krakken, finds himself confronted by the shadowy Red Prophet who brutally murders him. The identify and affiliation of the character is an inspired, and powerful reveal, and leaves me excited for the future of Prophet and his friends.
Both Defenders and the upcoming Avengers Ultron arc look like comics I will be investing many dollars in, but as for the stories themselves, well, they're not in the Good section, are they?
Let's start with that Nova story. The actual plot -- Nova trying to convince Terrax to stop being a jerk and then failing to save a planet from the Phoenix -- isn't much of a doozy, but as a precursor to a major event it's not bad. However, the Loeb/McGuinness short story sweats campy and uninspired. Nova muttering "Epic fail..." as he flees a failed mission is all you need to know. By the way -- is Nova teenager again? He was definitely drawn that way.
I literally didn't know Kaine, the deformed clone of Peter Parker and central character in everyone's favorite chapter in Spider-Man lore, came back until a conversation about 15 hours earlier with my friend about Spider Island. The revelation that he, and not Ben Reilly, is the new Scarlet Spider should surprise some readers. The introduction is heavy-handed, and talked-to-death. Perhaps Kaine is a guy with a lot going on inside his head, but we get it, he's lost and trying to find his way, I've read this story before, you know?
Not to say Scarlet Spider won't be a good series, Spidey in Texas might work, just Yost beat it to death.
While the hype for Defenders has hit me full tilt (holy crap, Betty still has the sword from Fear Itself!), the "Doctor from Greenwich" didn't work too well. Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson's series seems like it's going to be a fountain for big ideas and bold characters, and felt crammed and awkward in the short story format. While the story started to open the door on the mythology of the series, maybe simply reintroducing the character(s) would have been better. I'm hoping Dodson took the opportunity to work out the kinks also, because as stated, the story was a little tight, and choice of how to panel and position never sat right with me.
The long-teased Ultron War in Avengers is what Marvel is using as their main story going into the big summer movie. Ultron is a great villain, especially recently behind Brian Michael Bendis (yes, even back in Mighty Avengers when Ultron was a chick), so my excitement is already there. That's why an erratic, unoriginal dystopian future/alternate universe scenario with Hawkeye, Spider-Man, Logan in a hoodie, and, erhm… Punisher has me tempering my anticipation just a tad. The dystopian premise was the basis of his first arc on the reboot Avengers title, and one of his best Avengers stories overall, but if that's all the new story is going for, then I don't know if I'll make it past a couple issues.
"Yin & Yang," the story involving the sibling duo who wield fire and ice powers was well structured and visually stimulating, but the characters did not hold my interest in the slightest. Does comics need another Wonder Twins? Fred Van Lente is one of my favorite creators, but he's going to need to throw serious layers on whatever this Empty Circle thing is for me to care.
Marvel's Point One didn't change much for me, except to teach me to stay away from this type of book in the future. In the very least I expected some big time reveals and, while there were maybe one two or three bits of new information, it was nothing that wouldn't be apparent in a few months time. I understand the nature of comics, everything needs to be in constant promotion and perpetual anticipation of the next issue and the next chapter, but a book of teasers is a book of unsatisfying conclusions. The company would be better served throwing these stories in the back of similar-minded books as an extra bonus, not charging an absurd six dollars for a bunch of prologues.
Jamil Scalese is just like you -- an avid comics fan and lover of sequential art. Residing in Pittsburgh, PA, he is an unapologetic Deadpool fan, lover of the Food Network and proud member of Steelers Nation.