The Point One Collaboration Experiment

May 24th, 2011 by | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Last Wednesday saw the release of Alpha Flight #0.1, the first in what appears to be a second wave of comics in Marvel’s Point One Initiative. Revealed first in late October and making its debut on the shelves in February, Marvel decided to start focusing on certain issues of their various series as jumping on points. It’s similar, at least to me, to DC’s One Year Later comics that existed after the events of Infinite Crisis half a decade ago, only without the shakeup factor of it all. They simply give us a bunch of $2.99 comic issues that claim to be a great place for a new reader to start with and move forward.

I’ve seen people review the Point One books in batches, comparing what worked and what didn’t. I even thought of doing that myself, but then I took a second to notice that it would be pretty unnecessary. What reason could I possibly have to review those? For instance, I read Jeff Parker’s Hulk as is and enjoy the hell out of it. So of course I would love Hulk #30.1. I’m already on board for the series. To me, it’s just another great issue. I’m not the intended audience for such a review.

But you know who would be good for this kind of thing? People who would read Hulk #30.1 despite never reading the 29 prior issues. Same for Avengers #12.1 and Wolverine #5.1 and so on. If this is Marvel’s attempt to bring in new readers, I need to get me a hold of some new readers! Namely, I need a crew from the DC side of the tracks. It was a long and tortuous search (fifteen seconds, give or take), but I figured on a perfect trio for this experiment.

First up is Esther Inglis-Arkell, the Clobberella of the 4thletter! New Justice Team. Since she and I have had shockingly minimal interaction over the years on this site and she stands firm on DC ground, Esther was ideal for this. Joining Esther is Was Taters, a friend to this site for all the work she regularly does for This Week in Panels. Lastly, I introduce my real life good buddy Andrew, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with for the past five and a half years.

Before we get started, let’s hear from our guinea pigs.

ESTHER! Commander and the leader!

Looking at Marvel’s Point Ones – I have to say I’m confused. I was told that these Point One issues were the jumping-on point for non-Marvelites. It was my impression that they would be beginning of stories that would then continue into larger Marvel continuity. Looking over these, that’s not the impression that I get from them at all. I suppose they could be considered characters studies, or standalones, but then more of them would have to focus on the actual characters, or exist more as standalone stories. Spider-Man Point One doesn’t have Spider-Man in it. The Hulk doesn’t have Bruce Banner. And Captain America doesn’t have Captain America. It’s just – strange.

TATERS! She is the joy and laughter!

I’m not, generally, a Marvel reader. I try to avoid the whole DC vs. Marvel shenanigans, but I started out by buying DC Comics (about two years ago) and when I ran out of budget, I still hadn’t gotten to Marvel. I have read SOME Marvel – I really loved the Winter Soldier story, and the Iron Fist books. (Bring that back, please). But nothing current, nothing on my pull. I opted in briefly for Thor: The Mighty Avenger, and then out again when it was cancelled. I keep meaning to start Thunderbolts, or Avengers Academy. Because Gavin says they’re good.

Over a month ago, Gavin approached me and said “Hey, want to be a part of this project over on 4L?” Sight unseen I said “… maybe. What is it?” Once he explained, I said sure! Why not, plenty of time! Then, since there are no Marvel books on my pull list at the shop, I didn’t read any of them until two weeks ago. Or most of them until five days ago. Three of them yesterday.

I think I expected to have a deeper understanding of the Marvel universe when this was done, that I’d grok more history and know more names and costumes. I probably drank from the proverbial firehose in my approach, so a lot of it didn’t stick. The characters I feel caught up on were ones I’d seen in movies, and not many books offered me what felt like a genuine jumping on point. I saw a lot of them had recap pages to let you know “the road to now,” and honestly, that’s all most of those comics needed to jump you in. If it was supposed to introduce me to new creative teams, it was a great idea. I knew which ones I’d like to see more from by the time I was done. I loved that Amazing Spider-Man by Slott and Ramos… But I am told the ongoing Venom is done by Remender and Moore? Excuse me, Marvel? Why the bait and switch? And I didn’t like the X-Force .1 at all, but I’ve seen evidence (Gavin’s doing) that the book is much better than that most of the time. So are the Point Ones just extra issues?

The project itself was fun, and I’ll be interested to see what the other two writers loved and hated. If nothing else, it gave David Uzumeri new ammunition to make fun of my taste in comics. And that’s what’s really important!

ANDREW! And he’s the toughest fighter!

First off, I am a little familiar with most of the titles Marvel released as part of it’s Point One initiative, and while I can see it as good marketing to allow for something like this, I’m sure it was a tremendous pain in the balls for the writers who had to try and force a certain issue to be easily accessible when they’re in the middle of a storyline. I have seen the Marvel movies, read an arc or two here and there, but overall I’m very new to the Marvel universe of ongoing comics. That said, I’m basically judging these issues simply on whether or not I would want to continue reading the ongoing title after reading the one issue. I think that’s a pretty simple way of determining how effective these issues are, right? Unfortunately some of these little reviews have basis in my own preconceptions of the characters without having read much if anything of them in the past. With a medium as visual and constantly changing as serialized comic books, it’s difficult for me not to “judge a book by its cover” to some degree. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised how much I ended up loving some of these books were despite my preconceived notions about the limitations of long-running super hero comics!


Part One: The Patriarchs

Captain America 615.1
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Mitch Breitweiser
Release Date: March 9th

Esther’s take:

I think this story benefitted quite a bit from the fact that I have read at least some Marvel. It doesn’t benefit from the fact that I strongly dislike the type of story that it explores, though. Basically, this is a hero who has screwed up, failed, and and relied on others time and time again going up to a rookie who has screwed up once and saying, “Not in MY town.” Since Captain America isn’t being Captain America (I don’t understand, Point One.) a modern Cap was engineered by the government to take his place. That Cap gets kidnapped and Original Cap bails him out of a bad situation and tells him he can’t be Captain America anymore (Oh, and you were doing just fine when you got your sidekick kidnapped by the Russians and were frozen in ice for sixty years, Cap?). Then Sharon Carter tracks down Nick Fury, and he reveals that he both made the New Cap and set him up to be kidnapped so Original Cap would come back, making me feel more sympathetic for the guy who got volunteered to serve his country and then got double crossed for some stupid mind game, and less sympathetic to all the ‘good guys’. Supposedly this shows that Nick Fury is a pragmatist and strategist who does what needs to be done, but to me he just looks like a passive-aggressive, clingy whiner.

Taters’ take:

Every so often I decide I’m just not that into Ed Brubaker. His preferred oeuvre, the noir book, isn’t always awesome to the lady characters and it grates on me. Then I pick up a mainstream comic and I remember that really, no one else matches his perfect pacing.

This is a classic done-in-one which still manages to familiarize me with the current status of Cap – Steve’s doing some Sekrit Agent Bondian adventures while Bucky fails to Wield the Shield in a way that makes the public happy. It’s clear at the end that the status quo, which has varied briefly, is likely to revert. It’s well-written, the dialogue is better than most… It’s boring. Is there any worse crime for a good book and a good writer? If I had to buy a Marvel book and Cap was new that week, I know it would be an okay choice, but if he falls this short of potential monthly I don’t know if I’d bother.

Andrew’s take:

Having read the first dozen or so issues of the current writer’s run of Captain America, I could tell that the same mood was being maintained however many years later in his run I was reading. What struck me was that while I could tell Steve Rogers was no longer carrying the mantel of Captain America, it didn’t need to be explained. Everything that was necessary was presented in a neat little one-shot comic. Captain America is a symbol, yes, but he’s also the man who carries the symbol and not just anybody has the proper frame of mind to put on the mask and has to be more than just a skilled man with good intentions. Captain America has to earn the admiration he receives through the decisions that lead to his actions, not just by beating up the bad guys. I felt this was very definitive for the character. The issue was devoted to showing how Steve Rogers is needed as Cap but he couldn’t just be cudgeled back into the role, he has to want to return to it. That simple “ah-ha!” moment at the end of the issue makes me want to catch up on the 60-some-odd archive of the current run just to see how the story and character progress from here. But the best part was that while I was curious about what happened that Steve is no longer wearing the mask, it wasn’t necessary to read the story. Everything you needed to jump right in was presented to you without feeling forced, it felt completely natural. Definitely successful in my book! You have a new customer, Mr. Brubaker!

Invincible Iron Man 500.1
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Release Date: February 2nd

Esther’s take:

Oh my god, this makes so much more sense.  Sorry people, and thanks for pointing out that I accidentally read the wrong thing.  I really wondered what was wrong with me that I flat-out didn’t understand three different issues in the Point One saga.  Now that it’s only two, I feel more secure.

And I like this issue quite a lot.  It can be a jumping-on point for some people, while being a character sketch for those already familiar with the book.  Tony goes to an AA meeting and recounts, in a veiled way, the story of his life.  Showing directly how it was insecurity, not hedonism, that lead Tony’s general way of being is a nice twist.  I notice the author managed to work in the fact that Tony is still a thoughtless jerk when he humiliates a woman unecessarily at the AA meeting.  (He points to her, says that he got her number just to see if he could an allay his anxiety, and how his interest was never about her, it was just an expression of his own problems.  Gotta ask, would you go back to that meeting if you were her?)  The only confusion for this issue is caused by the fact that I know something of Iron Man continuity, and I don’t see how some of the revelations here (Tony gave up Stark Industries and was a truck driver and is now the owner of a fledgling business.  Tony and Pepper are semi-estranged.) fit into what little I know about ongoing continuity.  Overall, a good issue, if a little ominous at the end.

Taters’ take:

I got started reading the Point One books a bit late, and when I mentioned I was doing them en masse to a friend who’s something of a comics expert, he said this was the best one, as far as story goes. I’m not so sure. Well, I am sure – it’s not.

I’ve seen Iron Man (and II), so I have some idea of the Tony Stark is that Sawyer? story. Perhaps that’s why this one doesn’t bother with a “the story so far” page, or maybe because Tony tells his story in the patter and panels. Whoa, that is totally Sawyer. At the end of the story, Tony’s given his soliloquy but I don’t feel like I’ve gotten any closer to the character. It’s done a fine job of giving me a shallow timeline, and established that Tony is pretty much hey! Sawyer’s kissing Angelina Jolie! still a dickhead, albeit a dickhead who has had a moment of clarity. Not unforgivable in a main character, but I never felt any draw to see more of Tony working hard, gettin’ some, and avoiding alcohol. Or those photo-referenced faces.

Andrew’s take:

This issue of Iron Man was almost too self-contained, as it was just Tony Stark talking at an AA meeting about who he is. Where he came from, where he thinks he’s going, and how his personal problems are going to affect both. It was a very well-written comic, and I’m glad that it was mostly visual with narration rather than having each remembered frame have it’s own dialogue. It works much better, simply knowing what a villain and the fight with him actually meant to Tony, rather than what actually happened and having the story hit you over the head. After all, isn’t that more important anyway? Having 500 back issues of stories is fantastic, but what does it mean if you can’t relate in any way to what the hero is feeling and why he handles things the way he does? What these instances were to Tony is more important than how they happened. I really enjoyed Invincible Iron Man and frankly had been looking for a jumping-on point, and this achieved that very well. Definitely a positive review.

Thor 620.1
Writer: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artist: Mark Brooks
Release Date: March 9th

Esther’s take:

This was a very comic-booky comic book. There were capes and fights and people said the name of the bad guy right to his face in a room full of people who also knew the name of the bad guy, because they needed to introduce the bad guy to the reader. I guess I would be confused as to how people were able to deliver pizzas to Valhalla, but I know a little bit about Thor continuity. This was definitely the most fun of the bunch. Everyone seemed to like each other (except the supervillain) and they all had a good time.

Taters’ take:

Does anyone open their mouth to speak, ever, in this book? And yet that’s my only complaint. The art is attractive, the coloring pops and glows. This is an uncomplicated story, which only lightly touches upon Thor and Asgard’s current situation in the world. Yet it does make them clear, then gets on with the business of telling a heroic story appropriate to gods and villains. It’s good. It’s not great. There’s nothing to annotate, the art is not doing anything people will analyze or emulate. But it does make me want to read a bit more.

Andrew’s take:

This whole set of reviews is basically a Marvel Compliment Sandwich. Captain America? Incredible. Iron Man? Fantastic. Thor? So much fun that I can’t wait til next month. I’ve only read a little bit of Thor grabbed from a self-contained story about Asgard and the few issues of the Ultimates I’ve read, but what I read I loved. I was looking forward to this one from the get-go since I didn’t think you could screw up a character that has such potential to be both over-the-top tongue-in-cheek goodness and proud warrior fighting for the little guy in a serious setting all at once. This issue knocked it out of the park, bringing the character back to the pulp fantasy roots I love so much. A feast celebrating Thor’s recent victory over the Such and Thus of Wherever, and it is invaded by some ratty little wizard who can turn people to stone. Thor uses his brawn and then his brains to defeat the scoundrel, with “Fuck yes!” results. I could not have asked for a better Thor comic. It had great art, clever writing, and a (like the best ye olde speak) flagrant disregard for getting to the point. Just like the best of the issues already mentioned, this one required no prior knowledge save the few sentences of a blurb at the beginning of the comic. I am eagerly waiting with an open wallet to read more Thor.

Part Two: The Radioactive Supers

The Amazing Spider-Man 654.1
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Release Date: February 16th

Esther’s take:

This has no Spider-Man and all Flash Thompson. It’s an okay story. From what I know of the Spider-Man stories, though, it seems like the Symbiote story all over again, only this time with Flash not Peter.

Taters’ take:

First of all, I loved the art. Yes, serious subject matter going on here, yet the “cartoony” Humberto Ramos art didn’t detract. Instead, it kept Venom from becoming wholly unappealing when in rampage, and Flash’s cutesy turned up nose offset by his MASSIVE PAWS – fun to look at.

Story-wise, I appreciated the signals the team gave us regarding the limited nature of this run. When you see that Flash has a limited number of missions in the symbiote right off the bat, you know that your maximum commitment is 20 issues – and it will probably be less. Does that negate the idea of it being a jumping-on point? Maybe. The story has enough hook for me not to mind. And really, who picks up a comic planning to opt in forever-ever?

“Can’t I just be the new Spider-Man?” No, you can’t, Flash. But that doesn’t mean I won’t read until it’s over.

Andrew’s take:

Firstly I didn’t care much for the art, and secondly I didn’t care much for the writing. Those two things combined made this somewhat of a chore. Not to say it was bad on either account, but I found it to be bland in the worst way. It was forgettable. I had to just think back now to what the conflict and revelation for the character are, and I had a bit of a tough time remembering. It’s fun in its own right, but it did not sell me. I’d rather it was about Spider-Man, but I’m sure this was a chance to bring in new readers without doing the whole origin story AGAIN. This is not to say that this issue was a poor effort, it just wasn’t the sort of Spider-Man story I wanted to read. It was about Venom and the relationship it had with some friend of Peter Parker’s I had never heard of. To be fair, I know next to nothing about Spider-Man, but he wasn’t even in his own comic. Just like with X-Force, I feel like this would have been fine for anyone who was currently reading the book, but for a newcomer this was not the wisest decision.

Hulk 30.1
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Gabriel Hardman
Release Date: March 2nd

Esther’s take:

The Hulk with no actual Hulk, just Thunderbolt Ross. Really, Marvel? Really?

Taters’ take:

Okay, so there’s a Red Hulk, and he used to be a guy who was trying to take down the Banner Hulk that I am moderately familiar with. Good enough. Now he’s a smart Hulk with control issues. And here’s a guy who is just like he used to be when he was after the Hulk. And they fight because there’s a misunderstanding! At least they don’t team up at the end. Instead, at the end, the hero walks off into the distance, alone.

That sure was a comic.

The art gets a thumbs up though, even if it’s got a few more lines than I think it needs. Coloring is a bit garish, but it is a red Hulk, I suppose.

I don’t think I’ll keep picking that up. If I want a Marvel book with an interloper in the title I’ll buy ASM.

Andrew’s take:

I kept seeing a red Hulk on covers of comics for the past few years, having no idea what the hell that’s supposed to be. I stayed away from Hulk for this reason among others, but it just never seemed that interesting to me. After having read this issue, I do hope that it IS a good starting point and not just a fluke that it was entertaining and self-contained. Now that I know who General Ross is and why he is doing what he is doing, it was much easier to get into the story and relate in some way to the character. It wasn’t particularly memorable, but that’s not because of the writing. It was entertaining for what it was, just not the sort of thing I’d probably read. It was successful in the Point One way of looking at it, I might consider continuing with it. But for the issues I did find good, this was at the lower end of the spectrum for no fault other than my own disinterest in the Hulk in general.

Deadpool 33.1
Writer: Daniel Way
Artist: Bong Dazo
Release Date: March 2nd

Esther’s take:

Okay, we’ve got a live one. This is a pretty good story. There’s a nice, inventive use of flashback and flashforward. There are quips. There’s a twist that, due to the flashback and flashforward, isn’t where you think it is. There don’t seem to be any new characters brought in with deep dark secrets. This isn’t meant to set up a bigger story later on. No one ends up destroying the world. And there’s just enough of a gruesome twist at the end that it’s not the usual sickeningly-sweet Bad Guy Gone Good story. I would have to say that Deadpool 33.1 is the best of the radioactive supers.

Taters’ take:

I know this is one of Gavok’s favorite characters. There’s a lot of pressure involved in knowing this!

There’s no recap page for this book, which lets me know right off that Deadpool’s continuity doesn’t really matter, in the overall scheme of things. That’s good! I’m burned out on continuity porn, and there’s none of it here. This is a standalone story which simply lets you know what the character is like – violent, smug, and motormouthed. If you have doubts, one of his several internal voices lists off his attributes for you at the start. Further exposition is handled through deft, comedic dialogue. The art is both kinetic and cartoony, appropriate to the type of story it tells. The Wrecker looks like one of Flash’s Rogues, which kept throwing me off, but didn’t really matter in the end. He’s just there to help Wade show his true colors – a disgusting jerk with a heart of gold, the kind of guy who helps old ladies with their groceries and their hits.

Yeah, I might read more of that.

Andrew’s take:

Unlike just about everybody else, I never really cared for Deadpool. I guess I just never gave him much of a chance since I kept thinking that I have a pretty low tolerance for “lolrandum” humor. Luckily I was wrong, and it was a very enjoyable issue. I wasn’t tossed into the middle of anything, it was just Wade doing a job and then turning the whole thing around halfway through and doing the right thing, all the while shattering every fourth wall he encountered. Very fun stuff, and not just boring fluff either! Very entertaining to read, I will definitely have to check out more Deadpool now that I have a starting point. I don’t know if it’ll be the sort of comic I would read consistently, but certainly one to watch out for now and again. Even if I’m not a huge fan of the character like so many people are, I definitely understand the appeal after this issue.

Part Three: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes

Avengers #12.1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Bryan Hitch
Release Date: April 27th

Esther’s take:

I spent most of this issue thinking, “Is that new?”
Spider-Woman is an Avenger: “Is that new?”
Captain America leads the Avengers: “Is that new?”
There’s an agency called S.W.O.R.D.: “I kind of think that’s not new?”
Ultron shows up: “I know he’s shown up before, but how bad is he? Should I know?”
The apocalypse is coming and Tony Stark knows about it: “…What? Is that connected to the apocalypse we saw in Iron Man? Has that been introduced before? If not, has Tony Stark always known about an impending apocalypse and just not mentioned it until now? If so he’s a jerk. That’s definitely not new.”

Taters’ take:

This book has all the characteristics of a Brian Michael Bendis books – multiple POVs, a lot of snappy dialogue, and more verbal interruptions than a mother of six at the grocery store. The art is good, the colors are beautiful. At the start of the tale we have one team member in danger and the others coming to her rescue; at the end we have a demolished battle ground and a Big Bad (Ultron) on the loose. The story’s good – if I were to complain about any part of the storytelling it’s that Ultron is clearly a familiar character/event, but I’m not made familiar enough to understand the level of fear Iron Man is exhibiting at the end of the issue.

This doesn’t feel like a purposeful jumping-on point, it just feels like any new arc’s beginning. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I’m not familiar with most of the characters that haven’t had their own movie – could have used a little more exposition, but there was a lot of story to tell here. I’d consider getting more, but as is a frequent complaint with Bendis, there’s a lot of words balloons on those pages and that might wear after a while.

Andrew’s take:

I was looking forward to this book, but I left it wanting to read the back issues instead. I have a basic grasp of who the Avengers are since they are the big Marvel heroes you see on lunchboxes. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Spider-Woman now for some reason. If you’re going to bring in new readers, I think you should do it with your proven and familiar characters and not with Spider-Woman. I have no idea who that is, after having read this issue that was about her going missing and the other Avengers all talking about her. That’s a bit of a failure to communicate, I think. Talk about her personality and past all you want, but I have no idea what her origin is, what her powers are, why she is on the Avengers, and most importantly why I should care. It ends on a cliffhanger, but it just didn’t feel like any kind of real threat. The ultimate warrior from space is awakened by a bunch of jackass would-be wizards and Spider-Woman is missing. The befuddling bad guys in this issue were entertaining, but overall this issue did not feel complete. There was little that grabbed me since the individual comics these characters appeared in (for the most part) were better than this single issue. The parts were greater than the whole, in this case. Overall I was disappointed, but mostly because I felt an Avengers comic meant to draw in new readers would have had written to greater potential.

Secret Avengers #12.1
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Scot Eaton
Release Date: April 27th

Esther’s take:

I read this an hour ago and I couldn’t tell you what happened in it now if it would stop me from getting eaten by a rabid killer whale. That’s not a good sign.

Taters’ take:

I hate “ripped from the headlines” plotlines. Wikileaks, okay, I got it, right down to the list of newspapers involved. The leaks put critical human assets in jeopardy, extractions, the leaker is a person who feels that that Steve Rogers isn’t fit to wear any American hero uniform as long as he condones or tolerates these grey-black ops. Lives are lost, missions are failed, US Agent confronts Captain Propaganda, punch punch punch… And a lecture is delivered. Nothing wrong with any of that, that’s the basis of a Steve Rogers morality tale anyway. But there are just so freaking many words on the pages! I had to flip to the cover to make sure this wasn’t a Bendis book. If I was this artist, I’d have handed the blank boards to the letter and said, “I’ll just draw around what you put on there.”

It’s not bad, just wordy, and a lot too on-the-nose with the topic. I might consider picking it up again.

Andrew’s take:

It wasn’t even disappointment in this book, it just seemed very bland. It did not grab me until the last page, and by then it was too late. I feel like this book has potential to have some really great stories come from it, but it seems to me to be just another team book that will go through too many hands to be anything special. Nothing major happened, nothing memorable happened, and the good speech Steve Rogers gives in the last scene is a good one, but EXTREMELY forced. It’s disappointing when a book that has so much potential is so uninteresting.

Part Four: The Mutants

Uncanny X-Force 05.1
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Release Date: March 9th

Esther’s take:

I have no idea who these people are, what’s going on, or why they’re doing what they do. What’s more, I’m pretty sure that David actually explained this issue to me – and I still don’t know what’s going on.

Taters’ take:

Return of the recap page! Here we have a team of mutants who like to kill and maim the opposition, doing the dirty work other teams can’t be caught doing. Even if at least one of those team members is on teams that can’t be caught doing that. Got it. Let the mayhem begin!

Suicide bombers, finger-knives and swords later, there’s a ton of dead people but I’m not sure what’s been accomplished. If it was character exposition for Psylocke, it wasn’t enough. If it was setting a status quo, I’m not sure what it is. And as much as I have enjoyed Remender on other stories, the dialogue in this was killing me. The clichés-to-pages ratio was pretty high, and while people DO speak like that on occasion, they are usually aware they’re doing it and have the grace to nod to it, or apologize.

I wasn’t sold on the art or coloring – it’s actually great stuff, but more suited to a different type of book. Maybe a horror book.

This just wasn’t for me, I won’t be looking for more.

Andrew’s take:

I had been told what X-Force was beforehand and while I tend to prefer my comics to be a little more pulpy and a little less edgy, I went in with an open mind. A secret mutant assassination squad sounds awesome, right? I’m sure it is, but for this particular issue it did not grab me at all. Perhaps the writer was forced to deviate from a current storyline to cram this Point One issue in, but even still… It wasn’t expository enough for me to want to continue reading. For one, Wolverine was drawn to look like Danny DeVitto. Second, the story itself seemed like it didn’t know what it wanted to convey. The villains (while I’m sure being evil enough in their own right) were cartoonishly villainous in a book that is supposed to blur the lines between what’s right and wrong when deciding who needs to be put down and what is stepping over the line. It’s like half of the characters were written to be semi-realistic, and the other half were written as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle villains. I’m surprised Wolverine and Co. weren’t trying to stop the Bad Guys from poisoning the town’s water supply. They seemed more like Batman thugs in one of the funnier issues rather than threats to mutant-kind. I’m sure to anybody familiar with the characters and the story this takes its direction from it is enjoyable from that perspective, but as a new reader I would not put down money for it, sorry to say.

Uncanny X-Men 534.1
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Carlos Pacheco
Release Date: April 6th

Esther’s take:

Okay. This one actually seems to be doing what I was told Point Ones were meant to be doing. One main problem with one main character (Magneto) is clearly introduced at the beginning of the story. Magneto – a freaky mutant terrorist – is now one of the X-Men – a group of mutants who serve as a mutant police squad and a mutant rights activist group. They need his power, but they also need public approval, so they hire a photographer and public relations manager to manage the press release stating that he’s joined the X-Men.

Meanwhile, a group of low-level thugs have been extorting money from the town of San Francisco by threatening the whole place with an earthquake. The X-Men go after these guys while Magneto debates the PR person. It’s a nice mix of an emotional arc with a heroic battle, and in the end, when the thugs admit they don’t have an earthquake-maker, just an earthquake-predictor that says a big one is coming, Magneto steps in, saves the day, and brings both stories together while ushering a new storyline for the X-Men. I can’t believe it, but if this is the quality and accessibility of the story that’s going to be in the ongoing book – I’m actually interested. Score one for Point One.

Taters’ take:

The starter page tells me these are heroes shunned by society and introduces me to 7 characters. I’m not a huge fan of team books. Too many POVs and I can’t engage with any of them. This book, however, is written by a smart person – I can tell. There’s a team at work in one portion, and a slick bit of character exposition for an individual in the other. This balances nicely and is a must if you’re a tunnel-vision girl like myself. The art is solid, even if the women are all dressed for stripperaoke. It’s absolutely good superhero stock, which always a plus when reading a superhero book.

By the end the status quo seems to be exactly what the recap page tells me, with the additional information that Magneto is a new addition, is incredibly powerful, and rather ambivalent toward hero-ing on behalf of humans. It’s not the first time I’ve encountered this kind of story, but I like it and if this Magneto guy is going to get developed on further, I could definitely see me reading more of this.

(Disclaimer: I saw the movies, I know who he is, but in context of the comics this is my first encounter with him.)

Andrew’s take:

This other Uncanny Mutant I greatly enjoyed. Please don’t think poorly of me that the only X-Men media I’m familiar with are the movies, and I read Joss Whedon’s run a few years back (which was very shiny), but I know most of the main players from sight, though not too familiar with their backstories. Similar to Captain America (though since it’s what the story focused on, it wasn’t as accessible but still very fun) was that Magneto had undergone some major identity issue previously and is dealing with it now. I know he was a bad guy before, THE X-Men villain, but now he is apparently a dark hero. He seemed like a trump-card for the X-Men here, and I’m very curious as to how he ended up switching allegiances. I doubt it could stay this way for any length of time, but it seems like it will be something interesting to look back on a few years down the road. “Hey, remember that time Magneto was in the X-Men? Those issues were pretty cool.” It’s always good to see change in well established characters, even if you know it can’t possibly last long. I am interested to see where this goes, but it’s not imperative since I know it’s going to be totally different six months from now anyway. But since I’ve always wanted to hop onto X-Men, this is as good a place as any.

Wolverine 5.1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Jafte Paolo
Release Date: February 9th

Esther’s take:

It’s a nice little story about Wolverine saving a trucker from cannibals while his girlfriend, Melita, throws him a birthday party. This particular issue works for me because it’s lighthearted, shows the best in people, and is quick and breezy.

Unfortunately, the “epilogue” introduces a much darker story. Between that, the fact that I’m seeing the same Wolverine “I am an animal! But I must pull back from my violent nature!”, and the fact that the other people at the birthday party are openly speculating on when Melita’s going to get the chop – I can tell that the book just isn’t my speed. Nice issue, though.

Taters’ take:

I’m a little more familiar with Wolverine than most Marvel characters – he’s been sort of popular beyond the books recently, after all. The setup page is a decent refresher, and lets me know that in the current status quo, Wolverine is a trusted member of more than one hero squad with a bunch of meaningful interpersonal bonds. Good enough.

The story is that Logan’s new honey is throwing a surprise birthday party for him with all his friends, but he gets distracted on the way over by bad guys who need smiting. His friends talk about him behind his back, he beats down the ultra-weird bad guys… And realizing he’s not a killer because he was off to a date with a nice lady, he doesn’t kill them. There you have it: love, morals and laughs, with dashes of horrifying weird violence. I’m going to assume that’s what this book is like in general. Good enough to read once in a while, but I don’t see me adding this to the pull list.

Andrew’s take:

I feel that Wolverine is considered to be an omnipresent Canadian badass but knowing little about how he’s been handled by various writers over the years (or months, considering how many covers he’s on every week) I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured that since he is everywhere they would do either a self-contained character-driven story that would be forgotten next month, or one where he is plopped into some team, and hey, as long as it’s done right, that’s what counts. What I got was not only the self contained story I’d hoped for, but one that showed just how involved he is in the rest of the superhero community without being overbearing, and was entertaining to boot. Wolverine acting like a feral animal in the woods, hunting the bad guys, and he still apologizes for being late to his own party (which was a very fun “slice of life” type situation, which I think is always welcome in a continuity as dark as some of these books tend to be). I think it says a lot about the character that might be lost in the shuffle when someone who is as overused as him is stuck into a story as a means to move the plot forward but has little room for his own development. It’s only one issue so I don’t know how involved the lone wolf leader-type character can go before having a dozen secondary characters, but I’d be interested to see.

Interesting take, guys. Thanks again to Esther, Taters and Andrew for running the gauntlet on this.

Similar Posts:

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

8 comments to “The Point One Collaboration Experiment”

  1. Was Esther accidentally given issue 500 instead of the .1 of iron man?

  2. Looks like that’s probably the case. She wrote her review long before I even looked at the issue and I never questioned it, so that one’s on me.

    Edited it out for now.

  3. Very helpful article, guys. Thanks.

  4. … Have these smileys always been here? :raise:

  5. I love your 3 image choices

    bring them back forever

  6. Y’all are straight up crazy when it came to Secret Avengers. That was one of the best books I’ve read all year.

  7. I’d honestly be interested in a followup, wherein they tell us how they feel about where it goes from the .1s. I bring this up in light of the universal praise for Thor, which was right before the end of the last arc starring that character in that book and by a different creative team than either the current arc, the next arc after the rename, or the next arc in the new book that was actually a continuation of the current one. I’m curious whether they still think it was living up to the point.

  8. This is a great article. Most of what I’ve seen said about the whole initiative is that it’s a failed experiment, but I suppose this experiment gives some proof that it was at least partly successful, depending on the creative teams. I hope someone at Marvel editorial comes across it and takes notes.