Presumably in order to cash-in on the influx of readership DC's
New 52 has spurred, Marvel has begun purporting big things in the near
future. These "big things" were ostensibly primed to begin in
this week's over-sized Point One one-shot, a thick catalogue of graphic vignettes
which are underpinned by a caper dealing with the Watcher.
The stories are written by comic book mainstays like Ed Brubaker, David
Lapham, and Jeph Loeb, and visually rendered by an array of artists.
However, after a reading, instead of feeling shocked, enthralled, or
elated by these much-hyped teasers, I rather felt like I'd been duped into
purchasing an overpriced, Marvel-centric Previews catalogue for an
upcoming month that had very little in the way of shocking, enthralling,
elating books. The vignettes don't really serve as any sort of
backstory, most of them obscured by abstracted reference points, and
are rarely in any way integral to your future reading of the titles they
supposedly set the stage for. The stories solicited are all upcoming
books that the comic book faithful have most likely already heard of
through the grapevine. For the new readership, I can't see a magazine
full of clunky, inconsequential short stories written and drawn by
creative teams, which in some cases may not even be representative of the
books they hock, being something that discerning new fans will think is
exciting. It was a sly ruse Marvel put together here, hinging fanboys'
future reading on one starter issue with an astronomical price point.
Surprising readers may have entailed bringing Ben Reilly back or
revealing that a creative team that's actually creative was going to be
usurping The Avengers from Bendis. Lamentably, even those cheap thrills
would suit a heavily advertised book like this much better than the bland filler that's
Artwork in Point One is undeniably disjointed, oscillating from pages of
inspired artwork to just-plain-bad, and from noir grit to new-school
polish and old-school Kirby-worship. It's a mishmash, nothing really
jiving visually. Transitions are stark and jarring. The writing as a
whole borders on awful as well, a fact not helped by Loeb's infantile
Nova spouting off things like "Epic fail." Lapham's short story is really
the most serviceable one, but it's unfortunately over before it actually
begins, sharing only a bit of character development that's probably
better left in the hands of the very capable Uncanny X-Force creative team that will
be furthering this sketch's plot.
The bottom line is this: Point One is not only a six-dollar collection
of fluff that keeps you wanting for some sort of payoff, but it's also a reproachable display of comic book industry
advertising at its most exploitative. Publishers across the board need
to be focusing in on cultivating brilliant new creators and developing
intriguing new stories, not milking existing franchises and writers/artists for every
possible dollar. That marketing strategy is getting extremely dull. This
collection has actually turned me off to books, like Scarlet Spider and
The Defenders, that I otherwise was interested in reading. Now I'm not
sure I'll be adding any of the titles here that weren't already on my
pull list, and I'm sure to shy away from anything with Jeph Loeb's name on it for the foreseeable future (sorry X-Sanction). This was, in my opinion, a debacle.