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    The Anchor Panel

    The following column, the ongoing result of a vaguely out of control experiment, documents the continuing expedition of one man, delving forever deeper into the world of comic books and its associated fields of study. The primary test subject, Daniel Reynolds, has been launched with only his wits and relative brainpower to absorb overwhelming graphic and video stimulus and, hopefully, report back from the void. As a slightly seasoned veteran of various comic book endeavours and filmic enterprises, Reynolds hopes to reflect and illuminate while inviting a rotating cast of co-pilots to join him as together they navigate this unforgiving and half-remembered terrain. The Anchor Panel, as it is formally known, serves as the outlet for his transmissions from deep within this wild and mysterious land.

    Prior Anchor Panel discussions can be accessed here.

    Current Article: Marvel Comics


    So then Hawkeye says "it's the third dumb thing I've done today", and he jumps out the window while firing arrows back at some goons. Glass everywhere, arrows flying. Hawkeye saves the day, and makes out with some saucy redhead. And I was like...

    Here we go.
    Sorry. I was riled. Maybe we're not cut out for these two-parters. I'll stop.

    Let's get to it. Marvel, at the moment, is going through this whole "Marvel Now"! phase where they're just pumping out brand new first issues. Not at all a continuity reboot but new changes in direction for their marquee books (Avengers, X-Men, Spider-Man and Fantastic Four).
    Sounds like a lot of old favourites. May as well start with the biggest fish in the pond and explain to me what makes the New Avengers, um, New.

    Well, Daniel Reynolds, some titles are so popular that a secondary (sometimes tertiary or quaternary) title are deemed a profitable venture. Hence the different titles marked by different adjectives such as "Uncanny" or "Spectacular" or "Astonishing" or "Sensational" or "Incredible". Ya dig?
    Thanks Alex Correa for explaining the principles of economics to me. Maybe my question has more to do with the choice of adjective. Having the Avengers and the West Coast Avengers made sense, but all I kept thinking about while reading this book was how do the "Old" Avengers feel about the new ones? How did those teams get decided? Am I crazy?

    I'm not going to delve into it too far but the current New Avengers title (the one I quite prefer) deals with world shattering catastrophe (as a change of pace) starring a secret cabal consisting of Marvel superheroes. Jonathan Hickman has been knocking his books out of the park recently.
    For a world shattering catastrophe, this book feels like a lot of pages devoted to people sitting at a table in a dark room. Would it kill the Marvel Illuminati to invest in some pot lighting?

    I never thought you'd be the type to want more PEW PEW PEW in a book.
    Now, I've only read one of the spinoff Avengers books, Hawkeye, and now I want you to tell me, your Thor ranting aside, what could be better than it. I feel like that title has got it all.

    More compelling characters and story? Listen, I think it's a great title. It's doing great things from a purely technical perspective which I really appreciate. Problem is the narrative isn't exactly developing, is it? It has a lot of personality, it takes a fun tone and it's visually stunning, however, it plods along from issue to issue with nothing really progressing and with things just sort of happening.
    Well as my earlier exuberance showed, I love the new Hawkeye. I'm really enjoying the irreverence and fun that Matt Fraction brings to the story, and the small, well-placed bits of character he builds into his finely tuned tales. Plus, Aja's art: yowza.

    It's fine for the first few issues because it's refreshing to see this sort of concerted effort from an artist, but there has been a definite dip seven issues in. For me, best Avengers spinoff title still goes to Thor, hombre. Real cosmic shit. And speaking of the cosmic... Fantastic Four! I know you got a chance to read FF (since you love mooching books off me), so what did you think?
    Still can't believe that Mike "Madman" Allred is in on that. I always felt like his style, while suitably vibrant, was a bit too weird for mainstream Marvel-dom. Nice to see there is still room for a broad range of creative styles in the House of M.

    He has the style to fit certain books, FF being one of them. Another of his, X-Statix, happens to be one of the more underrated comics Marvel has put out. Back to FF though, I find this title MUCH more fascinating than the actual Fantastic Four book. How about you?
    I'm totally onboard with whatever weird direction that FF is taking. And, heaven help me, I may be turning into a Matt Fraction fanboy. I love the random mash up of characters (She-Hulk! Medusa! Ant-Man!), and the whole weird-science feel the title has. It feels really true to the Fantastic Four ideal, even though the Four are barely in the book.

    Could it be the charm of the Moloids?
    They are definitely more adorable than the Thing. I'll give you that one.

    The Fantastic Four-verse probably seems quite different to you but that's due to Hickman reinventing the franchise during the past few years. What you're reading, the genius kids and everything, were all his doing and I can't wait to see what he does with the Avengers line.
    I've got no doubt of Hickman's chops, and he's got all the cool characters to work with, so we'll see what happens. When do they start the third, fourth and fifth Avengers book though?

    There already are. Welcome to comics books, pal.
    Yeah, you mentioned X-Statix up there, which I've heard of, but always thought it was a dare Marvel took on to see how many X's they could squeeze into one title. What is the X-verse looking like these days? I admit, after reading a bit of Schism (and some of the AvX stuff, I have been lax in my efforts to mooch more books off of you.

    Yeah, most less-than-casual comic readers have reservations about jumping on these books because there's such a long, rich history behind the titles. Even with a new direction and jump-on point, they would feel like they're missing vital parts of the story. I would probably relate it to the Doctor Who franchise. It takes some effort for people to get into it but once they do, it becomes a near-obsession.
    I was in my X-Men heyday back in the 90s (weren't we all?) but now… I'm out. I mean, last I saw, Cyclops was fighting Captain America.

    Yeah, Cyclops is a war criminal, having caused the whole Phoenix crap. Now he's running around recruiting new mutants around the globe in an effort to groom them for, as Sir Ian McKellan said, “WAAAAR, CHAAAAARLES!”
    Alright, that being said, it wouldn't be the X-verse without more books. Give me some good news here. What's the X-Men title worth reading?

    “Wolverine & the X-Men” involves Wolverine in his role as headmaster of the School for “Gifted Youngsters”. See how it came full circle?
    That was definitely one of the stronger points of the Schism storyline. The notion that Wolverine would be totally against training mutant teens for a life of war and battle.

    Then, this is probably the book for you. Big on charm and characters, not too much in the plot department (until the book is unfortunately forced to join in on the crossover business).
    Hey, hey, why do you keep bashing charm and character? That's groundwork stuff, man. And it ends up making the inevitable mega-crossovers just a bit more palatable.

    It's just hard for some books to find the perfect balance, especially when creators are usually forced into tacking on one of those brainless mega-crossover tie-ins that come with the promise of “nothing will ever be the same again!™”.
    Speaking of nothing ever being the same again: Doc Ock IS Spider-Man. Your thoughts?

    I haven't seen a book as polarizing as Superior Spider-Man in a long time. Readers are either on board for something this new or they're just flat out hating it.
    I'm not entirely opposed to the idea though I could see why the die-hard fans could get worked up about it. I mean, to explain the plot out loud feels kind of ridiculous.

    Unfortunately, they're also the same fans that complain about the book being stagnant.
    Sure, how many times have they shaken up Spider-Man? I do think it is funny that Peter Parker, who was the epitome of nerd has been mentally replaced by Doctor Octopus, who I guess represents the new extreme nerd level?

    I'm going to cut you off before you try to coin the phrase “nerdswag” again. I will say this, for as long as Peter Parker has been gone, it's been great seeing Doc Ock-Spidey interact with the Marvel Universe.
    Come on, I never said "nerdswag"! Ah well, they'll bring him back right? They're bringing Neil Gaiman back for god sakes!

    That was quite a suprise announcement that unfortunately came with a gigantic spoiler of one of their biggest stories.
    I'll admit: I don't get it

    You know, they had a chance to genuinely surprise their readers for once with the debut of Angela, a character previously seen in a rival comic book company.
    I mean, yeah, it's cool that Gaiman is writing something for Marvel (I was a fan of 1602) but outside of the novelty of introducing, essentially, an Image character into the Marvel Universe, what's the big deal? I hear "a character first seen in Spawn" and my eyes glaze over.

    It could all be just a swerve for the return of Miracle Man! At least that's my theory and I'm sticking by it.
    Now that would be… a miracle. YEEAAAA…

    Really?
    ...

    Doesn't get punnier than that. Join us next time when we take a look at the recent Before Watchmen books. I'll be ready to throw down.