Crossing the Aisle-Part .1

This week saw the release of Marvel’s heavily publicized Point One, a 64 page one shot featuring some of the biggest writers and artists Marvel has to offer. This issue, consisting of six short stories and one framing story,acts as the foundation for the big Marvel stories of 2012, similar to DC’s DC Universe #0 a few years back. At $5.99, Marvel is asking its readers to put a lot of faith in this book. The problem with a book like this is that many times the stories turn into little more than glorified teasers. While there are a couple of really good stories and some great art, a lot of the stuff here falls into this camp. Check out reviews for each story after the jump.

The Watcher by Ed Brubaker and Javier Pulido

This story acts as the framing sequence by which the rest of the stories of Point One are told. The story involves two unknown characters breaking into the base of Uatu the Watcher. Apparently the Watcher enters into a fugue state every three years in which he uploads all the things he has seen during that time. During this forty minute period he is unconscious to the world around him. The two infiltrators use this time to access the logs of the things the Watcher has seen, which is where the other stories come in. As a framing device this story does a wonderful job. The art is classic and fun and there’s just the right amount of comic book wonder. The story also seems to have some bearing on future stories involving the Watcher.

Pros-Great art and very imaginative. Does a great job of framing the other stories.
Cons-Not a lot happens

Nova by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness

This segment is a little out of left field in my opinion. I know only a bit about the character Nova, but I do know that he and the rest of Marvel’s cosmic characters have seen a surge in popularity in the past few years due to the works of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. It’s kind of surprising to me that they aren’t the team on this story. Even so, I’m always a sucker for a Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness story. In this very short segment, we see Nova battling against Terrax, a character who I’m completely unfamiliar with and who looks extremely similar to DC villain Darkseid. Nova is trying to evacuate Terrax’s planet due to some cosmic threat that “would have Galactus fudge himself”. A little crude, but it gets the threat level across. Terrax refuses to evacuate and Nova is forced to flee the doomed planet while calling the mission an “epic fail”. Finally, we see Nova proclaiming that he must warn everyone that the Phoenix is coming (highlight for spoilers). This is something Marvel has teased for a while with the “It’s Coming” ads. There is almost no depth to this story. Instead it relies on the appearance of Nova (who has not been seen since the events of the Thanos Imperative) and the revelation of what It is that’s coming. The final page may have some relevance to future stories, but I’m not sure what it is. Of course, Ed McGuiness is spot on as always, delivering some fantastic art. I’m curious to see if this story has any bearing on Loeb and McGuinness’ upcoming Avengers: X-Saction book.

Pros-Great art, awesome teaser
Cons-Shallow, weirdly juvenile dialogue

Age of Apocalypse by David Lapham and Roberto De La Torre

As I’m in the midst of a heavy X-Men related kick, this was one of the stories I was anticipating the most. Apparently taking place in the alternate reality of the Age of Apocalypse, this story deals with a group known as the X-Terminated. I’ve only read some of the Age of Apocalypse crossover, but I know the basics of the universe, and fortunately a degree in X-Men continuity isn’t required to enjoy this story. The leader of the group is a man known as the Prophet, whose actual identity would be intriguing to anyone who has watched the second X-Men movie. This story, along with Uncanny X-Force #19.1 coming in January, is laying the groundwork for a new Age of Apocalypse series coming next year. This book will apparently also have ties to the Dark Angel Saga currently taking place in Uncanny X-Force. This story does a good job of giving a basic understanding of the status quo of the AoA universe and the premise that the new series will follow. The art by De La Torre is grim and gritty, which suits a story of this nature. I don’t know if it’s just me, but the series hook (which I won’t spoil here) was definitely not what I was expecting. I’ll definitely be checking this out later on.

Pros-Great art, cool characters, does a good job of getting the reader invested.
Cons-Some might not like that the Age of Apocalypse is being revisited again.

Scarlet Spider by Christopher Yost and Ryan Stegman

There’s an audience for this story, but it’s not me. The big draw of this story is the revelation of the identity of this new Scarlet Spider. Unfortunately, as someone who is not well versed in Spider-Man history the reveal was lost on me. The story consists of the main character spouting inner monologues about how awful his life has been, how he’s a monster, and how he now has the chance to be something better. I’m assuming this story has something to do with the recently concluded Spider Island storyline, but I’m not sure. The art is cartoony and fun, but that’s about all the story had going for it in my eyes. Those who are interested in this kind of thing can follow along in the upcoming Scarlet Spider series.

Pros-Fun, kinetic art suitable for a Spider-Man related comic
Cons-Too much angsty inner-dialogue. Not enough to differentiate the character from Spider-Man.

Yin and Yang by Fred Van Lente and Salvador Larroca

Well this was a bit unexpected. As the one story not teased by Marvel before Point One was released, I didn’t really know what to expect from this. The story deals with two super powered twins, separated at birth. One has fire powers and is named Dragonfire, the other has ice powers and is named Coldmoon. The characters are Asian. If this sounds a little clichéd it’s because it is. Of all the stories of Point One, this one seems the most out-of-place and interests me the least.

Pros-Interesting, though slightly clichéd, high concept
Cons-Art is a little weird in places. Marvel’s answer to the Wonder Twins

Doctor Strange by Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson

Now this is a book I could get behind. This story, which I presume is acting as a lead in to Fraction and Dodson’s upcoming Defenders series, follows a strange day in the life of Dr. Strange. Strange isn’t a character I’m very familiar with, but one I’ve always had some interest in. This story feels very Morrison-esque to me, and a little DC-esque for that matter, which might explain why I found it so enjoyable. This story has a man who holds the multi-village, the village that holds all villages, in his head. That character is also named Notebooks Joe. This book definitely isn’t for everyone. However, if you’re a fan of books like Planetary or Final Crisis then definitely check this out. Marvel may have actually gotten me to get the Defenders a shot.

Pros-Extremely fun and zany, with a mysterious hook to grab readers. Great art.
Cons-Might be a little hard to follow for some.

Ultron War by Brian Michael Bendis and Bryan Hitch

This was the story I expected to be the central point of Point One. Brian Michael Bendis is basically Marvel’s Geoff Johns, and Bryan Hitch is an extremely popular comic book artist, known for his widescreen approach in comics like the Authority and the Ultimates. Apparently this is setting up for the next big Avengers storyline. I say apparently because I literally have no idea what happened in this story. There is no background, no explanation for what is happening. Just a lot of rumbling and destruction. All I gleaned from this glorified teaser is that villain is Ultron(s?) and that Hawkeye and Spider-Man play a prominent role. The art by Hitch is great as always, especially with the cool shaky cam effect he uses, but all in all this story was just a tease, and a poor one at that.

Pros-Bryan Hitch does the comic book equivalent of shaky-cam
Cons-Literally nothing happens.

And there you have it, my take on Marvel’s Point One. Some of it was a hit, more of it was miss. It’s a great concept that got a little mangled in the execution, and in a $5.99 comic book execution is everything. Still, this is one step further into Marvel for me. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more from the Nova, AoA, and Defenders stories. Next time in Crossing the Aisle I’ll be reviewing the second issues of Wolverine and the X-Men and Uncanny X-Men.


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