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Marvel NOW looking to attract, keep readers

By Staff | Oct 31, 2012

Photo courtesy of Marvel Comics Writer Jeph Loeb and artist Ed McGuinness bring a new Nova to life in February.

Marvel Comics is looking to attract new readers and excite us, well, let’s say, experienced ones with Marvel NOW, a series of relaunches putting new creative teams on a number of titles.

The initiative provides that ever-so-attractive “jumping-on point” for folks who may not want to drop into an ongoing story. Granted, Marvel’s had plenty of those points recently, including less than three years ago with the “Heroic Age” that redefined the Avengers with a quartet of ongoing titles. Now, the Avengers are undergoing massive changes again in the wake of the “Avengers vs. X-Men” crossover, resulting in even more new, ongoing titles, plus other projects like the potentially enticing “A+X” and the bizarrely “Hunger Games”-inspired “Avengers Arena.”

Naturally, Marvel claims this isn’t just an attention-grabbing move, that it will come with exciting new stories and creativity. And I’m sure some of it will, eclipsing my harrumphing over the retreaded new beginning stuff.

So let me trade my grumpy-old-fan hat for my fanboy cape and share with you the five titles I’m most looking forward to from Marvel NOW:

5. “Nova” I enjoyed both the original “Nova” series that featured true everyman Richard Rider inheriting the powers and equipment of an intergalactic peacekeeping force and recent tales that thrust him into a more prominent role in the Marvel Universe. Although disappointed to see a new character wearing the helmet, I became more curious when I learned writer Jeph Loeb and artist Ed McGuinness would be teaming up for the series, which bows in February. I’m hoping this will be more like the over-the-top, action and adventure of their “Superman-Batman” run and less like their “Hulk,” which was promising but seemed they were always cramming three or four issues of story into six actual comics.

4. “Guardians of the Galaxy” Initially a group of space-faring heroes in the far-flung future, the Guardians were recently reimagined with an eclectic cast of present day characters. I’m glad to have one of those aforementioned jumping-on points here especially with a “Guardians” movie in development. In addition to lesser-known characters like Star-Lord, Drax and Rocket Raccoon, writer Brian Michael Bendis is also bringing Iron Man into the mix when the series debuts in March.

3. “Fantastic Four” Matt Fraction’s run on “Iron Man” in recent years has brought what worked best about Tony Stark in the films to the comic without overshadowing the source material. That he’s taking on Marvel’s first family alone would make it worth a look this month, but Fraction’s desire to appeal to a wider audience than the core comic fans (kids might actually be able to read it?) does my heart good.

2. “All-New X-Men” Instead of plunging contemporary heroes into a dystopian future, Bendis is sending the five original X-Men forward in time to see what a mess the present day is. And this isn’t a one-arc gimmick; apparently, they’re staying. I don’t know how this will work, but Bendis left an indelible mark on the Avengers, so I’m curious to see his next act, starting this month.

1. “Indestructible Hulk” I don’t know why they changed “Incredible” to “Indestructible.” I don’t know why the Hulk’s wearing armor. And I’m not sold on him apparently working for S.H.I.E.L.D. But the latest incarnation of the less-than-jolly green giant, starting this month, is being written by Mark Waid, whose track record with “Fantastic Four,” “Kingdom Come,” “Irredeemable” and most recently a decidedly lighter take on “Daredevil” gives me high hopes. I’ve followed some “Hulk” trades in recent years, but Waid has me looking to make it a monthly purchase again, because I’m confident that he’ll deliver.

Evan Bevins is the writer of the webcomic “Support Group” (www.supportgroupcomic.com)