Fastball Feedback: Marvel Edition Featuring Spidey #1, All-New X-Men #1, & More

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on December 3, 2015.

Spidey #1 Cover

The launch of All-New, All-Different Marvel is in full swing (as Secret Wars has finally relented to concluding in 2016) with plenty of new #1’s from the House of Ideas dropping every Wednesday. This week there are seven new series featuring a wide variety of talent, characters, and styles. We’re taking a look a few of the most exciting debuts to help you decide what’s worth checking out and possibly save some extra strain on your wallet.

All-New X-Men #1 Skiing
(Photo: Mark Bagley and Andrew Hennessy)

All-New X-Men #1

Written by Dennis Hopeless

Art by Mark Bagley and Andrew Hennessy

Colors by Nolan Woodard

There’s a lot of promise in All-New X-Men #1 as a couple of well-liked Marvel creators feature some of the youngest X-folk in a cross-country roadtrip. Many scenes are based around just how much potential for humor and fun is loaded in this idea with ski trips, science fiction vans, and alligator wrestling. Yet the execution fails this big idea on every level. Everything from the depiction to action sequences to managing an ensemble cast to very basic timeline mechanics are bungled resulting in a comic that will leave you cold.

Writer Dennis Hopeless has shown he can juggle teenagers in the excellent Avengers Arena, but here some of the personalities are lost or barely introduced, while the rest are obfuscated by their own single-faceted nature. Cyclops is angsty; Bobby is goofy; Hank is smart. All of the original X-Men read like simple sketches no deeper than the pages they occupy. Meanwhile Idie and Kid Apocalypse sit in the background as one more thing for Bagley to draw without drawing attention to themselves. Gathering these characters together is even more troubled than setting them up. Hopeless’ conclusion of his first script skips a major plot point that will leave readers scratching their heads as to how everyone got to where they are. The only scene that feels as though it is occupied by real people is the opening with Angel and Wolverine. Their romance continues to be surprisingly natural and Hopeless captures a very fun power dynamic between the two.

That scene could have made up for many of All-New X-Men’s later failings, if not for Mark Bagley’s storytelling. In a big ski chase he fails to create an establishing shot and when he does go wide, there is only snow leaving the reader just as confused as before. This is a flaw throughout the many action and dialogue sequences of the issue alternating between close ups and bland backgrounds, never creating a sense of place or flow. Inker Andrew Hennessy isn’t at fault for these gaffes, but he doesn’t do Bagley’s line work many favors either. While he and colorist Nolan Woodward add depth to close ups of faces, lines typically remain thin resulting in very awkward mid-range panels. The best part of All-New X-Men #1 is the solicit, once you open the comic itself the promise is quickly unraveled to leave only disappointment.

Grade: D+

Spidey #1 Web Slinging
(Photo: Nick Bradshaw)

Spidey #1

Written by Robbie Thompson

Art by Nick Bradshaw

Colors by Jim Campbell

The current iteration of Amazing Spider-Man has brought people a long ways (both temporally and spatially) from high school, so Marvel is returning to the wall crawler’s origins in the more succinctly titled Spidey. Spidey #1 breezes over the origin story in a single page to reach the villains, drama, and adventures packed with recognizable characters. It is an issue the relies heavily on nostalgia and recognition, but nevertheless presents an enjoyable package.

If Spidey #1 has one big problem, it’s answering the question “why?”. When Spidey was returned to high school inUltimate Spider-Man #1, it felt like a fresh reinvention. This issue feels like more of the same. There’s nothing new to this take on Peter Parker’s earliest days reading very much a redux of Ultimate, albeit with a faster pace. Robbie Thompson packs the first issue with characters, including three villains and a poorly-defined version of Gwen Stacy. The inclusion of so much in the space leaves no room for a thesis statement, and readers may be questioning where the series is supposed to go from here.

All of that action (and comparison to Ultimate) points out the strongest element of Spidey #1, Nick Bradshaw’s art. Bradshaw uses a quick, pop style that is much better defined than Mark Bagley’s. He revels in the designs of villains costumes and showing them off in action sequences. Both Doctor Octopus and the foe revealed on the final page are rich with detail and the big action sequence of the book is fast and fun. Even Peter’s goofily redesigned wrestler’s outfit comes with purpose and is the biggest laugh in the book. If it can find a sense of direction, then Spidey may become a highly recommended retelling of these classic origins and an excellent showcase for Bradshaw’s artwork.

Grade: C+

All-New Inhumans #1 Crystal
(Photo: Stefano Caselli)

All-New Inhumans #1

Written by James Asmus and Charles Soule

Art by Stefano Caselli

Colors by Andres Mossa

After about a year of new series being launched, All-New Inhumans#1 is the issue where the Inhumans push finally starts to click. It reads in a very similar manner to classic Claremont X-Men comics. There’s lot of hate and fear, frightful conspiracies, wild powers on display, and globetrotting galore. It’s a superhero team book based on an us vs. them mentality that manages to finally find its footing here in the wheelchair bound Gorgon.

Writers James Asmus and Charles Soule show off a big cast, but focus primarily on two classic Inhumans in this issue: Gorgon and Crystal. That focus pays dividends as it creates two clearly defined (and likable) characters for readers to latch onto. Gorgon’s gruffness is undercut by his newfound vulnerability and self-doubt. The different faces he shows to students and other royals is humanizing. Crystal is much more fun, embracing her role as ambassador and resident asskicker. She shows off in combat and manages to remain both empathetic and humorous with her friends. While the wide variety of scenes in All-New Inhumans #1 may be disjointed at times, these two provide a much needed focus.

The many, many settings that the team moves through are all well conveyed by Stefano Caselli. Setting is never in doubt as he makes each new place feel appropriately big, from the stratosphere to New York City to the Outback. Travel is a core conceit to a group seeking out new members from around the world and Caselli moves the reader as well as the cast. Character designs, specifically costuming, is hit or miss though. Gorgon’s enormous wheelchair fits his personality well, but both his and Crystal’s jumpsuits remain weak points that only their creator, Jack Kirby, could really pull off. All-New Inhumans #1 is visually engaging in most panels though and finally gives readers a reason to care about this new team hitting the scene at Marvel Comics.

Grade: B-

What did you think of this week’s comics? Sound off in the comments below.

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About chasemagnett

Chase is a mild-mannered finance guy by day and a raving comics fan by night. He has been reading comics for more than half of his life (all 23 years of it). After graduating from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln with degrees in Economics and English, he has continued to research comics while writing articles and reviews online. His favorite superhero is Superman and he'll accept no other answers. Don't ask about his favorite comic unless you're ready to spend a day discussing dozens of different titles.
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