Marvel’s Point One is an anthology of stories by different writers and artists that teases the story arcs in upcoming comic book series. I didn’t really know what to expect before I read this comic. Would it be more of a marketing tool than a narrative? Would it be worth the 5.99 price tag, or would it feel like a promotional brochure for comics on the horizon? I was pleasantly surprised by the answer to these questions; Point One is a well written and illustrated collection of short stories that piqued my interest in a couple of these new series. Instead of reading like an empty marketing tool, this comic jams a lot of interesting and cool stuff into quite a thick comic book.
The comic opens on the Watcher in his sanctum on the moon. I was immediately struck by how good Javier Pulido’s art is in this section. Pulido depicts the Watcher’s home as filled with otherworldly, geometric shapes that seem to be pulled right out of Steve Ditko’s work on Dr. Strange. In fact, it looks like Pulido is really channeling Ditko’s style throughout the scenes in the Watcher’s home, which was an homage that I really appreciated.
Two unknown astronauts have infiltrated the Watcher’s home in a mission to steal his comprehensive memories and an object that goes unmentioned (the ultimate nullifier, maybe). This Ditko-esque scene serves as the narrative frame for the entire issue as one of the astronauts observes events happening in the present, future, and possible futures of the Marvel Universe by looking at “a wall of memories and windows into alternate universes”.
The first story in this issue involves Nova fighting Terrax on a planet 80,000 light years from Earth. I thought this story was well illustrated, but to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of Nova because I find him and his Nova Corps to be a little too similar to DC’s Green Lantern Corps for my tastes. On top of that, Terrax looked and acted a lot like Darkseid. This sequence teases the return of The Phoenix, a planet destroying threat that would make “Galactus fudge his pants”, and putting aside the issue of similarity to DC’s mythology, I thought that the coming of the Phoenix was well handled.
The next story depicts a dystopian future in which mutants have become the totalitarian fascists that they always feared. Mutants have all but exterminated the human race, and they are portrayed as just as bad as the Nazis. The Red Prophet, one of the last human freedom fighters, breaks into the home of a mutant father who had a hand in the extermination of humanity, and he asks him, “Tell me, Krakken, was that a thrill for you? Watching ovens of your design so efficiently incinerate innocent men, women, and children?” The comparison between these future mutants and the Nazis seems practically explicit, and especially when the mutant Krakken asserts that he is not a human being, but rather “Homo superior”. I thought it was an interesting twist to have mutants become the oppressive, racist group that they always feared humanity would ultimately become.
The third story is the one that I was looking forward to the most, and it’s the reason I bought this comic. This section sees Kaine’s debut as the new Scarlet Spider, and it didn’t disappoint. I have a soft spot for Scarlet Spider. I was a fan of Ben Reilly and the Scarlet Spider persona back in the day, and there’s something about the idea of a more unhinged version of Spider-Man that I like. Spider-Man is stationary and confined to New York City, but Scarlet Spider can roam the United States untethered to commitment and permanent responsibilities. Kaine’s first appearance as Scarlet Spider really capitalizes on this notion of a darker Spider-Man, and we see as he reluctantly dons the persona that he’s trying to overcome his past as a murderous super villain. Scarlet Spider promises to be the redemption of Kaine, and I’m on board for this series.
The following story showed the origin of what I think are two new characters, “Dragonfire” and “Coldmoon”. These twins were grown as superhuman weapons by Taiji Corp and kept separate their entire lives until they intuited each other’s existences and teamed up to escape the facility they were raised in. Apparently, they’re going to be helping out the Avengers. The Ying/Yang, fire/ice symbolism of these characters is visually interesting.
The fifth segment was a Dr. Strange solo story that I found very enjoyable. Dr. Strange takes a stroll through Greenwich Village, and he pays a visit to a character called Notebooks Joe, a raving homeless person who has been compiling “the secret history of Greenwich Village” in the endless composition notebooks that lend him his namesake. Instead of wearing his usual garish costume, Dr. Strange is clothed in a fine suit, which I thought was a nice touch. Dr. Strange projects himself into Notebooks Joe’s fractured psyche in an attempt to wake him from his constant ramblings, only to discover that the source of the vagrant’s madness is some mystical machine that threatens to break the universe. This short story effectively teased the upcoming story arc in The Defenders, and it had an entertaining usage of psychedelic and mystical imagery.
The final scene involved another dystopian future in which Ultron destroys New York City. This segment was illustrated by the always amazing Bryan Hitch, and the art was very good as we see Hawkeye and Spider-Man desperately racing to escape Ultron’s attack. However, there wasn’t much going on in this section beyond Hitch’s beautifully detailed illustration of Ultron’s attack.
Overall, I thought that Point One was a pretty good collection of stories that effectively hinted at the plots in upcoming comics. I was sold on both Scarlet Spider and The Defenders based on what I read here. What could have been a shallow marketing tool of a comic was instead a dense read that delivered on the 5.99 price tag, and I think this is an anthology that you should buy if you want a taste of the future of the Marvel universe.