JAMES KAPLAN'S TAKE:
Worlds will live! Worlds will die! Nothing will ever be the same! Ok, actually, pretty much everything dies. In case you missed it, this coming week is the first issue of Marvel's Secret Wars, which is the culmination of more than 5 years of storytelling by Jonathan Hickman at Marvel (in both Fantastic Four and Avengers). The Multiverse is dying, and it's down to 2 universes, the main (616) Marvel universe and the Ultimate Universe.
This #0 issue focuses on the children of the Future Foundation, which include Franklin and Valeria Richards, children of Reed and Susan Richards (better known as Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Woman). She's the brains of this highly intelligent outfit, and she fills them all in on the events (covering years worth of storytelling in the Avengers) that led them to this crisis. It's a fun little issue with a lot of information. I really enjoyed the artwork from Paul Renaud. He's got a very expressive style; really nice emotion and expression on the kids of the Future Foundation; kids are hard to draw as many artists basically draw them as small adults (which can look creepy). Renaud also does yeoman's work in depicting a number of different events that have been seen in prior issues of the Avengers; these are single panels that have to tell a lot of story,many he does them well.
DOUG PEACH'S VIEW:
So I've been out of the Marvel Comics loop for about 6 months, but I'm catching up and still able to be oddly excited about this new Secret Wars event. I'm really hoping the whole thing is just an elaborate diversion that will allow us to keep Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man I've grown to enjoy reading so much. I don't really care which universe he's in honestly, I just want to keep reading more about him. But only time will tell.
One thing's for certain, this book isn't going to tell you too much about that, or much of anything. It's a tease in every aspect of the word. I'm not sure if I wasn't already planning on purchasing the event, if this issue's 10 pages would be the thing that made me change my mind and get on board, but it's a fun read and it was free so what am I going to complain about? Nothing.
The art by Paul Renaud is top notch, and as this issue focuses on Val and The Future Foundation's plan, it's nice to see someone who draws children like children and not just tiny versions of everyone else in tights. That's always been a pet peeve of mine, and Renaud not only knocks that out, but also ends the issue with a pretty dynamic two-page spread of the Marvel heroes launching upwards into battle.
It should be noted, that Hickman has never let me down either so I have tremendous faith in his talent. I've got a whole stack of issues with his name on them and not one has come up short in the story department.
So I'm on board. If you're part Marvel-zombie on your mother's side you're probably already on board too, and if you're not then I say hop on. I think this is going to be a fun ride.
(This book also included a Attack on Titan / Marvel Comics mashup that was completely lost on me. I've heard great things about the manga but it didn't feel right to me to mash them up with Marvel characters.)
ROB MCMONIGAL'S DISSENT
Free Comic Book Day is all about getting people excited about comics. Show them the joy and fun of reading the merging of visuals and words, in ways the only comics can do.
This does not accomplish that goal in any way. It's based on something that's been going on forever in the Marvel books, slowly taking flawed heroes (like Reed Richards and Tony Stark) and turning them into utterly unsympathetic characters you hope lose. At this point, we have a bunch of unfamiliar characters to casual fans ("Wait, the Fantastic Four have kids? Are these all their kids?") talking about how Marvel's heroes did bad things, and now we have almost no hope left, so it's time to create a 21st Century Noah's Arc that's not big enough to save everyone?
It's a story I have no interest in, but that's not the issue here--is this really the best foot forward Marvel has? You're publishing Ms. Marvel (PS: Vote for it for the Hugo!), a book that's getting great traction among new readers. You have Miles Morales, who is more interesting than Peter Parker's been in years. You've got an Avengers movie going on, but all you see is some of these guys looking like they're the bad guys. Characters that are easily recognizable to me (a person whose first word was practically "Excelsior!") because Paul Renaud draws the hell out of them aren't given so much as a line of dialogue.
I can never be the "new comic reader," It's too late for me. But it's really hard for me to imagine anyone I know who's not already invested in the premise of Secret Wars getting excited by this. How could they? There's nothing heroic going on here in a superhero comic. If you're going to pitch something this complex to new people, at least give us a POV character who's going to be sympathetic, familiar, or preferably, both.
Instead, we've got a teaser for hard-core fans. That's not what FCBD is for. We get the other 364 days. Marvel missed the boat here, big time. Hickman might be a great writer, but he's not Bendis, who was much better at appealing to a larger audience while still promo-ing the new storyline. It's definitely pretty, but there's no hook, and I was left feeling personally and professionally (as a comics ambassador, advocate, and evangelist) disappointed.