The All-New, All-Different Marvel officially launched in October 2015, meaning that it has now been nine months since it began. However, Marvel is already preparing for their next relaunch in the wake of Civil War II called Marvel NOW. So let’s take a look back at all the All-New, All-Different books and check out which ones were the best.
Those Already Canceled
Angela: Queen of Hel by Margueritte Bennet, Stephanie Hans, and Kim Jacinto.
Do you want to read a comic that includes references to William Shakespeare, Miyazaki, and Hamilton? What about a love story between an Asgardian assassin and a trans angel? How about a story about love and war and the difference between the two? Because Angela: Queen of Hel was all of that and more.
Angela, a refugee from the Spawn comics, has gone out on her own to conquer Hel and bring back her beloved Sera from death, no matter what. Yes, it is as awesome as it sounds. Unfortunately, it ended with seven issues; fortunately, the seventh issue made for an absolutely grand finale.
Weirdworld by Sam Humphries and Michael del Mundo.
All Becca wants to do is bring the ashes of her mom back home, but she didn’t count on her plane crash landing in Weirdworld: a place where the lost can be found, where nothing is what it seems, where everything can change it a second.
So now Becca has to find her way home with the help of Goleta the Wizardslayer (who hates wizards, obvs) and Ogeode the Catbeast (a wizard) and fight against wicked witch Morgan le Fay. Only things aren’t always as simple as they sound, especially not in Weirdworld, where the lost can be found.
Only six issues, but my god, all of them were well-written and beautiful.
Those Coming to An End
Contest of Champions by Al Ewing and Paco Medina.
For a comic book based on a video game based on a comic book, this book works surprisingly well. Here’s the premise: in the aftermath of Secret Wars, the Grandmaster and the Collector decide to play a game, with the element Iso-8 as a prize. Each has their team plucked from either the main Marvel universe or any number of alternate realities and each team has to fight and defeat the other.
Things aren’t exactly that simple, however, due to the fact that one team is led by the Maestro, who has his own plans, and the players (including a resurrected Stick and Ares, new French superhero Guillotine, and British Punisher Outlaw) just want to go home.
This series has been a delight to read, especially as it plays with tropes and characters, but it will all come to an end with issue ten. As the book says, ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?
The Vision by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta.
All the Vision wanted was to be normal and have a family.
So he built one.
Of all the books you could make about the Vision, this is the last idea I would have thought, but it has turned out to be the best thing ever. Rather than write a straight up superhero story, Tom King is instead creating a tense psychological thriller and horror story about one man’s quest for normalcy and the extreme steps he will take to achieve it and what happens to the family he makes and what he will do for love and happiness.
It is dark and beautiful and scary and creepy and wonderful and so goddamn tragic. And it will end with issue twelve, because that’s how long Tom King planned out the story and after that, he’s solely writing for DC. C’mon, DC, you can let him write more Vision. Just this one book.
Those Still Ongoing
These are books that have at least six issues out now.
Doctor Strange by Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo.
Oh man, Chris Bachalo is really good at drawing strange creatures. From the Mind Maggots to the Witchfinder Wolves and Eyebots to Shuma-Gorath itself, they are rendered in weird and creepy ways.
And Jason Aaron’s story certainly provides Bachalo with enough to illustrate: Doctor Strange and all of magic are on the line when every single magic user is attacked by the Empirikul, an anti-magic group that is dedicated to wiping out every single bit of magic they can find in every single dimension.
And it’s not just weird monsters that they are providing, but new awesome characters, like Mahatma Doom (the sole living monk of the monastery Doom learned at), The Wu (a police woman and sorceress who lives in Hong Kong), and Count Kaoz who got his magic from killing and eating a magic bear.
The New Avengers by Al Ewing and Gerardo Sandoval.
Sometimes you just want a book about superheroes fighting Space Cthulhu. Or a giant robot fighting a giant kaiju. Or a group of young superheroes stopping a supervillain called the Plunderer and his Plundering minion, Terry (who is afraid of squirrels and betrayal).
Sometimes you just want a comic book that decides to turn the dial to eleven. You want a mad scientist? How about an evil Reed Richards who leads a group of evil lizard scientists called W.H.I.S.P.E.R. You want twists and turns? How about a double agent on the team? What about a triple agent? What about a secret spaceship? What about a super secret base? What about a robot that only serves champagne? CHAMPAGNE BOT! MORE CHAMPAGNE!
Yes, this book is awesome. You should all be reading it.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson.
How can I describe this? Okay, imagine the most delightful thing you can. A basket full of kittens or something, right? Okay, now imagine if that basket of kittens was actually a comic book about a girl with squirrel powers who is going to college and majoring in Computer Science and also beats up Doctor Doom and stuff.
Okay, that metaphor got away from me. But still, this is a comic book that is the literal equivalent of a basket of kittens. Of butt-kicking kittens.
Seriously. There was an issue that was a Choose Your Own Adventure. Each recap page is from Squirrel Girl’s Twitter page. There is an upcoming issue that will teach you about Computer Science, because of course it will. Read this book.
Howard the Duck by Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones.
You wouldn’t think a comic about a talking duck would be able to make you cry, but this one can. Sure, most issues are packed full of hilarity, but then there are moments of supreme sadness.
Take the second issue. The first issue ended with Howard encountered his opposite sex clone, so the second issue takes time out to tell the story of Linda the Duck and Shocket Raccoon (Rocket’s opposite sex clone), two clones made by the Collector for, well, mating purposes. But without Rocket and Howard, they don’t have a purpose...until one of the Collector’s nameless minions decides they do and breaks them out to adopt them. It’s an entire story, filled with heartbreak, in twenty pages. And Howard only makes an appearance at the very end.
Like Steve Gerber’s original run, this book plays around with story — issues move back and forward in time. The cliffhanger in issue 5 is only resolved in issue 8. And while the politics and the weirder aspects of Gerber are missing, it still has the same strange heart that he imbued. We are all Howard, searching for our purpose in life. Also, I want a cyborg cat, too.
All-New, All-Different Avengers by Mark Waid, Mahmud Asrar, and Adam Kubert.
It took a few issues for this book to really get good, but when it did, it became consistently good. Which is a pretty amazing feat, considering each character in this book also has their own solo book, and yet Waid gets each character exactly right (especially Ms. Marvel).
What this book is really about is legacy: from Sam Wilson trying to live up to the legacy of Captain America to the newest Wasp wanting to live up to the legacy of the father she never knew.
The best parts of this book aren’t the fighting bits — it’s the bits where the characters are talking to one another, confronting one another, getting to know each other, or getting angry at each other. This is pure character work, plain and simple.
The Ultimates by Al Ewing and Kenneth Rocafort.
If you include heroes with a lot of power on your team, sometimes it’s hard finding a suitable enemy for them to fight. Certainly, this could be true of the new Ultimates, with members such as Captain Marvel, Blue Marvel, Spectrum, and Ms America Chavez. But, thankfully, this superteam doesn’t take on just any problems — no, it’s only the ultimate problems for them.
Like stopping Galactus, their first mission. Or their second mission, in which to assess the damage to the timestream, they decide to go outside of everything — not just the universe, but the omniverse itself.
This is also the book that takes a look at the cosmic landscape of Marvel. And by that, I mean, there’s a moment when Galactus punches a universal concept in the face. So yeah, it’s awesome.
All-New Wolverine by Tom Taylor, David Lopez, David Navarott, and Marcio Takara.
The best thing the X-books have done recently was to kill off Wolverine. Not because it was a particularly good story, but because it allowed Laura Kinney (X-23) the opportunity to become the new Wolverine and in the process show everybody just how similar and how different she was from Logan.
Seriously, though, Laura Kinney as Wolverine is just so good. And the first story knows just what to do as it brings her in conflict with the “four sisters,” four of her own clones made by Alchemax. (And one of those clones, Gabby, is adorably murderous.) The first story arc also has her visit various other characters in the Marvel universe, like Doctor Strange and the Wasp, in order to get their help as well as cement the fact that yes, she is Wolverine and she kicks ass.
Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Takeshi Miyazawa.
If you haven’t already heard about Ms. Marvel, then you have probably been living under a rock. In which case: how the heck are you getting internet? That seems unfeasible. Also uncomfortable.
But just in case you still haven’t heard: Kamala Khan was a normal Pakistani-American teenager in Jersey City when she was hit by the Terrigen Mists and became the superhero Ms. Marvel. In her previous series, she fought the Inventor and Loki and her evil cousin, but in this new series, she is fighting something even more insidious: gentrification. And her own jealousy at the fact that her friend, Bruno, has a girlfriend now.
Look, this is just a really, really good book. Every single issue manages to be great. Every single one.
Those Just Started
These books all have less than six issues.
Black Widow by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee.
Remember when I said that the best parts of All-New, All-Different Avengers weren’t the action scenes? It’s the opposite for Black Widow which is pretty much made of action scenes. In fact, the very first issue has exactly one line for Natasha Romanov and it was at the very end after a very long, very destructive chase scene.
There has only been three issues so far, but each issue has upped the ante, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes in big ways. Natasha isn’t on a mission of redemption like her last book, no, this time, she is on a desperate mission filled with secrets about her past, secrets she absolutely does not want getting out.
Mockingbird by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk.
It’s curious that Marvel would release two books about female super secret agents in the same month. However, while Black Widow is super serious, Mockingbird is the exact opposite: it is playful and fun and doesn’t take anything seriously.
Case in point: the first issue is all about Bobbi Morse going to see SHIELD doctors due to her previously being injected with a combination of the Super Soldier Serum/Infinity Formula. And in the waiting room is a variety of superheroes, including Iron Man, who is always reading a pamphlet about venereal diseases.
This book also does something neat with its structure: the first issue sets up a mystery, a puzzle box, that the next four issues slowly fill in, and then the fifth issue will return to the first to resolve the cliffhanger. In a sea of conventional comics, this will sticks out as unconventional and fun.
Moon Knight by Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood.
I had to use one of the unpublished covers, because would you look at that? Both beautiful and disturbing. Very much like this book.
Marc Spector is trapped in a mental asylum. Or Moon Knight has been trapped by his enemies, while the Egyptian God Seth has taken over the streets of New York.
His psychiatrist, Dr. Emmet, says that being Moon Knight is all a delusion. Or she is actually Ammut the Soul Eater and the orderlies are jackal-headed monsters ordered to keep Marc drugged up.
Marc knows he has to escape and he needs to take his fellow patients — Frenchie, Marlene, Gena, and Crawley — with him. He knows he is Moon Knight. He knows that is real. Or nothing is.