Point One #1

The "Point One" book, filled with short story concepts meant to tease the coming year of Marvel, was an opportunity to amaze and amuse in a fantastic way. This could have been a collection of material that stood alone and still led toward new avenues. Some of it is, but most of it feels like the sort of free previews that are ignored because they are all build-up and namedrop with no actual substance on their own. Much of this book would not have passed muster as free digital promotional content, and so paying such a high figure only adds salt to the wound. These might be big name creators, but these aren't big muscles pages.

The framing sequence is a heist on the Watcher while he enters a fugue state, something that only happens every three years. It's the sort of high concept crazy that's just fit to print in comics. As a story it only aims to frame and lead, so in that capacity it is a complete success. It sets up anonymous burglars of the unknown to sample story treats of what will come. The art on the pages brings on thoughts of old "Strange Tales" Steve Ditko and the white gutters and borders only help facilitate this nostalgic high. This section is a winner, but a framing sequence can only realistically take you to such levels of achievement. What these thieves view -- the other stories -- will be what makes or breaks this issue.

Nova is making a comeback, or so it would seem. Far away from Earth, Nova is on a mission that won't succeed because Terrax stands in the way. This confrontation is sound and yet seemingly unnecessary because it appears Nova didn't give himself much more time to be anything but a fleeing witness anyway. The set up for the massive oppositional force - the kind of thing "that would make Galactus fudge his pants" - is set on a large enough scale as to impress with force, if not quite flair. It also seems pretty inconsiderate for Nova to respond with "epic fail" in the face of what he's fleeing from. The art, however, is extremely on point as the majesty of the Marvel Cosmic arena is presented with grandeur, and the final page is surprisingly gorgeous, and even thoughtful.

'The Myth of Man' is an "Age of Apocalypse" short tale that drops a lot of information in the background of what is happening. There's a lot of business to process that is wrapped around a straightforward tale of execution. The tale very simply stands on its own, treading a line between good and bad and ending up at reasonably enjoyable purely because it doesn't offend and the art offers some decent moments. The tease at the end might actually be amazing, so long as you don't mind heading off to your "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe" and extrapolating forward. These pages are fun but also feel like you might never touch on them or their concepts again and that won't affect you at all.

Many people are keen for the return of the Scarlet Spider. Here we see the person who will be inside the outfit and we get a short establishing tale for the forward tone of the book soon to launch. The set up is sound, it doesn't offend, and it will please many, I'm sure. It's just a shame that's it's so massively overwritten. The internal monologue is very exact in its soul searching and you can see most turns coming. The violent threat of the bank robbery is cliche enough, but the threat level is not treated seriously, which seems weird because the men set themselves up as killers but act like buffoons. The art is pretty much exactly what a Spider-comic should be. The action is kinetic and the smaller moments hold attention and emotion.

The next tale sets up two new heroes, Dragonfire and Coldmoon, and establishes the corporate faceless entity which they will battle, Taiji Corp. There is a lot crammed in here to make sure we aren't left wondering, but it also doesn't give much space for these elements to be pondered. This is allowable because space is limited and doing any less with the characters might not have been as effective. The result is a quick tour of where these kids came from and why they want to go forward into the battle they are facing. This suffers the same fate as the "AoA" tale in that the lack of established characters means there's no hook to lure in. The work put into these new characters most likely isn't enough to build any sort of responsive rapport. It doesn't help that the art is ineffectual, unresponsive, and actually laughable in the final panel; look at the way Coldmoon appears and try not to supress a chuckle at the absurdity of comic female body placement.

Doctor Strange is always a pleasure to see in anthology form and his story here is a highlight, though still not exceptional. There's an interesting conceit at the heart of this tale but then it only leads into a tease of more to come. That's the point of this book, I know, but it doesn't mean the story cannot be effective for its own merits. This is a fun and thin tale supported by some excellent art.

The final tale sets up the coming 'Ultron War.' This futuristic and bleak tale takes plenty of dark splash pages and layered double page sequences and sets up the usual 'smashed urban landscape sterilely probed by roving floodlights.' There's something going on in these pages, but it doesn't feel like it. This is the equivalent of a kinetic and almost-confusing teaser trailer for a summer action movie. The art works for the widescreen scope of it all but there's not any actual story to work with.

In the end, "Point One" is more tease than please. Perhaps it set out to do this. If so, it was a failure at conception and not in execution. Either way, the result is an expensive comic that doesn't satisfy completely with any of the tales. The best aspect is the framing sequence. The credits aren't placed with any of the stories and this is good because you judge the pages on their own merits, instead of relying on preconceptions. Though, you will be able to place most of the names to the stories with success based on tics and tricks. This book could have been a real hoot for free, and would have been a lure for so many more than the Merry Marvel Marching Elite, and instead it's just a bunch of teases and tales that won't live beyond this week.

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