Over the past several months, Marvel has been releasing special Point One issues.  These one-shots are supposed to take place between regular issues of their ongoing titles.  For example, Uncanny X-Men 534.1 takes place between Uncanny X-Men 534 and 535.  These Point One issues are supposed to be great jumping-on points for new readers as well.  They’re designed to be single issue stories that also introduce new themes for the regular series. 

 

With that stated purpose, Marvel’s Point One one-shots can be judged on both their quality as individual issues and their success at serving as introductions to the actual series.  That second element is worth considering.  However, I would argue that the first element is still the most important.

 

Amazing Spider-Man 654.1

 

The Point One issue of Amazing Spider-Man felt like a bait and switch.  It was advertised as a Spider-Man story featuring a new host for Venom.  It turned out to be a Venom story that barely included Spider-Man.  Now, there’s a place for an issue of an ongoing series to focus on a supporting character rather than the star.  Amazing Spider-Man has been successful doing that recently with Flash Thompson when he returned from the war in Afghanistan.  But that issue was advertised as such.  This issue, in which (spoiler alert) Flash Thompson becomes the new Venom was not.  We were told that it was a Spider-Man story, not the soft launch of a new Venom series.  That bait and switch left a bad taste in my mouth.  The story itself was almost secondary.  Unfortunately, it also wasn’t that good.  It was a pretty standard tale of a good man hired to become a hero by slightly shady government officials.

 

Captain America 615.1

 

Captain America was one of the best examples of the Point One program.  The individual issue focuses on Steve Rogers, the first and former Captain America.  In this story, a recent war hero is convinced to take up the mantle.  This allows Steve to reflect on his own story and on the others who have taken up the mantle in the past.  However, the new Cap’s first mission doesn’t go as well as planned.  He’s apparently trapped by AIM agents and the former Cap has to come to the rescue.  The issue allows for exposition in a natural manner and establishes the current status quo while calling it into question for future stories.  By the end, Steve Rogers is shown that, whether he wants it or not, he might have to serve as Captain America.  The only downside for me was the twist at the end that (spoiler alert) this was all a plot by Nick Fury.  It was a little too Machiavellian for me.  I believe that Nick would want Steve to resume his role as Captain America but I don’t like that he intentionally set somebody up for failure.  The story would have worked just as well if he had been monitoring the situation instead of manipulating it. 

 


Uncanny X-Force 5.1

 

I had questioned the need for a Point One issue for Uncanny X-Force.  Why would you need a special jumping-on point for a new title?  But after reading the issue, I changed my mind.  This was a good story and a good idea.  Like most titles, Uncanny X-Force has opened with a couple of longer stories: a four-part Apocalypse tale and a three-part Deathlok story.  That’s not a problem; I don’t think that every story needs to be done-in-one.  But I do like that they came out with this one-shot.  It allows fans to sample the title without committing to a three or four issue arc.  In this issue, the Uncannies take on a new and improved Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers.  It’s a quick, brutal battle that does a surprisingly good job of simultaneously revealing character.  It’s very typical of Uncanny X-Force.  My only quibble is that I think Marvel should have released this as either 4.1 or 7.1, which would have been between a pair of longer stories rather than in the middle of one.

 

Uncanny X-Men 534.1

 

Uncanny was far and away the best Point One issue that I read.  It did everything it was supposed to.  It was a one-shot that took place between two longer stories (Quarantine and Return to Breakworld).  It introduced some of the ongoing plotlines, completed a story in one issue and changed the status quo.  The X-Men are shown in a good light as heroes who are trying to stop villains who claim they can initiate earthquakes.  On top of that, it was well told, with a nice framing sequence that focused on the X-Men’s new public relations flak and Magneto.  That framing sequence turned out to be essential as (spoiler alert) Magneto leaves his interview in order to save San Francisco.  As new writer Kieron Gillen mentioned in an afterword, he was excited that he found a way for Magneto to save the day while staying true to his character.  Plus, former X-Men artist and comic book superstar Carlos Pacheco comes back for this little joy ride.

 

Wolverine 5.1

 

If this issue of Wolverine was supposed to serve as a jumping-on point for new readers, it’s a failure.  Wolverine is in the midst of a year-long epic (Wolverine Goes to Hell, Wolverine vs. the X-Men and Vengeance).  This issue completely ignores that epic and therefore doesn’t help new readers transition to the parent title.  However, if this issue is judged as a standard Wolverine one-shot, it’s actually really good.  There are two alternating plotlines.  In one, Wolverine’s girlfriend Melita throws him a surprise party.  All of the Avengers and half of the X-Men are on hand.  It’s a hilarious sequence of scenes, with Luke Cage cracking jokes, Deadpool making a fool of himself and Iceman and Beast commiserating about Cyclops.  I laughed out loud so often my wife wondered what I was reading.  In the other plot, Wolverine tracks down a kidnapped trucker and finds him captured by a pair of cannibals.  As is the case with too many recent Wolverine comics, the scene is unnecessarily gross.  Even so, the birthday party was more than enough to make this a really good one-shot. 

 

 

 

 

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Comment by Jason Marconnet (Pint sized mod) on May 13, 2011 at 9:59am

I didn't read any of the ones you listed Chris. I did read Iron Man 500.1. It was a good story but I'm not sure it was a good jumping on point for new readers. It did feature Spider-man which might explain why he wasn't in his own .1 issue. ;P It was a story that took place in the present and in the future. It was a great issue for readers who have been keeping up with the series but if you hadn't been reading the story it could go either way.

 

Recently I read Secret Avengers 12.1. I guess Marvel is still producing the .1 issues. I thought it was only going to be a 1 or 2 month event. Anyways this provided a jumping on point because a new writer, Nick Spencer, has taken over writing duties. This was his first issue. This was a stand alone story and it was good but the ending seemed kind of abrupt.

Comment by Wandering Sensei: Moderator Man on May 13, 2011 at 12:41pm

I've actually read all of those issues, Chris. I can't believe what a Marvelite I'm becoming. Wow. Vertigo and Marvel. Who would have thought? I actually liked Wolverine and Amazing Spider-Man both, but then again, I was following those books beforehand anyway, so I guess I kind of knew what was going on already. The other one I already read is Uncanny X-Force, and that one was perfect.

 

As for Captain America and Uncanny X-Men, I loved both issues (especially Captain America), but wasn't turned on to either ongoing book as a result. I tried the next issue of Uncanny X-Men, but didn't care for it, despite being written by Matt Fraction and being drawn by Terry Dodson. Somehow it just felt flat.

Comment by Jason Marconnet (Pint sized mod) on May 13, 2011 at 1:31pm
A bit off topic but how is Uncanny X-Force as a series? It seemed to have snuck under the radar. The lineup is pretty cool, glad to see Fantomex back. I might in the minority of fans who like him. 
Comment by Chris Fluit on May 13, 2011 at 4:24pm

Jeff, I enjoyed the Wolverine issue.  I docked it because it didn't really fulfill the point one mandate.  Taken on its own, it was a great one-shot.

 

Jason, Uncanny X-Force has been a very good series.  I wrote about it a couple of months back.  I'm surprised I'm enjoying it as much as I am as I'm not one of the readers who liked Fantomex before now.  But UXF is very well done.

Comment by Jason Marconnet (Pint sized mod) on May 14, 2011 at 9:22am
Thanks, I looked up the past article. I'll have to check out Uncanny X-force. Is the first trade out yet?
Comment by Chris Fluit on May 14, 2011 at 2:10pm
Not a full trade, but there is a special small trade collecting the first story from issues 1-3 called Apocalypse Solution.
Comment by Eric L. Sofer on May 16, 2011 at 7:25am

I didn't read these, as I have given up on Marvel Comics, but I remember in the late 70s that most of the Marvel books (presumably under dictate of Jim Shooter...?) released a montage book; a collection of stories up to that date.  Of course, some of them were pretty incomplete - try to get the X-Men's or FF's history into one book while still maintaining ANY type of story around it that'll fit into 28 pages! - but they were not terrible, and kind of good as "jump on" points.

 

These days, from what I have read, most Marvel books are easily "jump off" points, because the stories have become sagas, very long and involved and requiring intense knowledge of the characters and their histories (and, dare I say, continuities?)  An example is the Spider-Man book noted above - who the hell is Flash Thompson to a new reader?  I think it would take four or five pages just to get his story told, let alone revealing that he is the new Venom (Really? Are there NO new ideas out there?)

 

I love the idea of a jump on point, and I think it's a really good idea.  But can any of the Marvel series actually allow anyone to get into the books right now?  Is there any way for a new reader to understand what their stories involve?  That's not a sarcastic observation - that's an honest question.  Is there any way to start reading Spider-Man, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, or Fantasti- WHOOPS!  Anyhow, is there a possibility that these can be joined "in progress"?

 

ELS

Comment by Jason Marconnet (Pint sized mod) on May 24, 2011 at 7:19am
I have to apologize for my description of Invincible Iron Man 500.1. I flipped through it last night. I described 500 instead. Shows how memorable 500.1 was. Issue 500.1 was pretty good though after flipping through it again. It takes place with Tony at an AA meeting. He tells his story, well see the actually story. The other attendees at AA here his story in general terms. It's an origin issue that goes from his childhood up to where we currently are in the series. Readers unfamiliar with Iron Man might not understand everything in the panels but will get the point that a lot of stuff, good and bad has happened to him. The issue was interesting the fact that it told his origin, again, but from his perspective as an alcoholic. I suppose it's a good jumping on point. New readers will see a quick glimpse of everything that has happened before and get a good look into the character. The previous story arcs had all been wrapped up and the new one hadn't started yet. So I guess it was a success.

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