Marvel Season One: An Idea
So far, Marvel Now has had seven -- or is it eight (a bad sign that I don't know) -- titles released, with another three announced.
DC comics have only released three of their similar Earth One titles, but they have had a much bigger impact. I don't think it is just because of the profiles of the artists involved, but because they offer a new world in which to discover and allow readers to see how these iconic superheroes would be if they existed today.
Kind of like the movies, which is good and bad. Because most of Marvel's iconic characters - who could lead a graphic novel - have had movies released in the past five years. It is a challenge to make the books different to the movies, or to the Ultimate line. Because Marvel have the Ultimate line, they can't really make a new universe with these graphic novels without discontinuing that line and to change the characters too much would take away from the plan - which is to attract people who read books into giving comics a try.
I think that what Marvel did, which is to try and tell a new story that fits into the established continuity, is a good idea but the first ones played it a bit safe. I think that Marvel should do a range of Season Two and Three books, which take place later in the characters careers, but be very different to what we have read before.
The Season One books could be similar to Marvel Knights, but allow new talent to tell different stories involving established characters. Each writer outlines their idea for two or three GN's (going to Season Three or Four), and efforts are made to ensure that the stories work in with the other GN's and with the established continuity -- although that should take a back place in regards to story quality.
Of the four 'first wave' GN's, X-Men and Spider-Man were the strongest while Fantastic Four and Daredevil were weaker. I noticed that X-Men was able to tell a complete story with character development that seemed new, but didn't change the origin at all and ended on a good note that made me feel like I had read a complete story -- even though it ended mid-fight. Everything happened in a relatively small period of time. Daredevil was the weakest GN, because it all happened over a long period of time. It should have had one coherent storyline and happened over a shorter perod in my opinion. What it did well though, was reference Spider-Man and establish that these books are in a shared universe.
I think that Marvel were very clever to include a digital download and an issue of a regular comic, too. With any S2 books, they could include the first issue of a new direction and collaborate with the writer, so that events from the GN will affect the monthly ongoings.
I really like the S1 books, they look nice and were a good idea but I think they need to write further volumes of the same characters to continue to modernize their story and make them more relevant. The second volume of Superman Earth One shows that once the origin is out of the way, the story is able to really take off. It would be a shame if Marvel didn't take note of this.