GO: Marvel NOW!
I’ve been holding off on writing about Marvel’s big reboot because cover previews were coming through at a very sporadic rate making it difficult to get a grasp on the bigger picture. I’m sure that as of writing this we still haven’t seen the last of them either, but at least I can form more of an opinion on it NOW. Before I dive into this, two things: Initially I was planning to split the covers in a Go and No-go post, but, looking at all the covers together I couldn’t really find any glaring faults that would warrant that, personal preferences aside. Hence a catch-all ‘Go’ review if you will. Secondly, because Tumblr only allows 10 images in a photo set I can’t show every single NOW cover, so I’m focussing on the ones I believe are the most interesting — good and/or bad.
Three months ago I wrote about the Uncanny Avengers logo, and while giving that logo a negative review, I’m glad to see a new version of it gracing the covers. Albeit still flawed in places (some very weird angles and curves on the letters G and S in particular) its a vast improvement on the initial design.
Generally speaking, I’m giving the redesigns a thumbs up. Most logos are typographically strong, but suffer from FX overload. I don’t think the Iron Man logo will ever escape bevels and metallic effects for long, while The Hulk logo will forever equally look like a bad case of filter overload. Style wise, there’s little consistency across the titles. While some logos clearly belong to the 90s — The Fantastic Four could be a Heroes Reborn title for all I know, others clearly lean towards 60s pulp fiction (FF, and most of the X-titles) filtered through cartoons and contemporary design sensibilities. I like the Captain America logo in particular because of its graphic simplicity, keeping the typography close to the 40s logo. Even titles like Deadpool and Guardian of the Galaxy, while really playing up to expected tropes work for some reason, even though its not to my personal taste. The weaker ones of the bunch would be Thor and Thunderbolts. Both fall victim to too much effect treatments (Thunderbolts in particular I’d say), and it would have been nice to see an updated take on the Thor logo.
Standouts for me at the moment are the (New) Avengers, and recently unveiled Superior Spider-Man logos. Both very different in design, but both extremely effective. The almost monolithic A is — especially after the film — all the book needs, and the dirty, stringy, web-like treatment of the Superior Spider-Man is a really clever update from the decades old webbing device.
Another interesting contender is Avengers Arena, who thanks to Dave Johnson’s striking design for issue 1 are pushed into genre homages of thematically linked (pop) culture references like Battle Royale and Lord Of The Flies. While this works for the first issue, the BR style bullet feels out of place on the 2nd issue, and it would have been nice to see an approach similar to Warren Ellis’ Planetary, where the logo design adapts to the cover art and theme.
Objectively speaking, I can’t really find any glaring faults with the logos. Some are very modern and fresh takes on old ideas, while some almost deliberately become a pastiche of themselves, if only they would use less superfluous effects.
One of the things that I’ve been going back and forth on is if it would have been necessary to have more uniformity across the line. Yet again we get a series of relaunched titles sporting a new logo. Nothing new there. Thematically some are grouped (your X-Men titles, Fantastic Four family, Avengers etc) so there are some loose secondary tenuous links: try to find a connection between X-Men, Uncanny Avengers and X-Force for example. One could argue that a company-wide treatment for titles would be a very good thing, especially in terms of brand building — but in doing so you wipe decades old heritage off the table, not to mention the individual voices those books have built over the years. Looking back at DC’s New 52, you can see the same problems. The Marvel NOW! push isn’t a total breath of fresh air, but there are some very interesting things happening here and there — hopefully a sign of things to come.