What is Marvel Now?
It isn’t uncommon in the comic community for characters to be retconned (Retro-active continuity) or new characters under the same name to be introduced. If I had a nickel for every version of the Avengers since it’s creation, I’d be a rich man. Captain America was frozen after WWII to make up for the time difference today, it wasn’t originally planned that way. Iron Man was originally hurt in Vietnam, now it is Afghanistan. The stories change, the characters may change, but at the core we’re still in love with the plight of Spider-man or the ever changing color skin of the Hulk.
Marvel NOW is not a retcon of the Marvel Universe. This is not the New 52 by DC by any means. Yes, there are new number one issues with new artists and authors in each series, however they do not start fresh (at least most of them). Iron Man is the same Iron Man we saw during Matt Fraction’s run as an example, but with a new author and artist on the launch, we get to see new stories and a fresh take on Tony Stark, not that Matt Fraction’s was bad at all.
With the new NOW series, we are offered some fresh number ones with new characters. These examples include the upcoming Nova series and a fresh take on Guardians of the Galaxy by Brian Michael Bendis, who is also ending his run on Avengers. New Avengers and the Avengers are scheduled to pick up and run, with New Avenger’s promotional materials showcasing what appears to be the Illuminati! Deadpool will be taken over by several writers, especially stand up comedian Brian Posehn.
Along with these fresh takes, we do get to see Nick Fury Jr and Agent Coulson take front and center. Ironically, Nick Fury Jr takes on the look of Samuel Jackson, of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, who was chosen due to his likeliness being used in the Ultimate Marvel imprint many years prior. This ‘son’ of Nick Fury 616, however, is of african-american descent and brings up a lot of questionable choices, hopefully we don’t see too many cinematic features flow into the comics, but we are seeing some of these start to exist.
Is Marvel NOW a last ditch effort for the publisher? No, it doesn’t feel forced or unnatural either. Its just a rearranging of properties and their respective creative teams, which never hurts. This shake up could bring about a new energy and excitement that will sell comics and entice new readers who could use a great jumping on point.