Incoming! #1 is a sort of State of the Union of the Marvel Universe. Like an annual check-in on familiar characters readers may have lost track of, setting up the events of the year to come. There is something for every fan in this oversized issue. It’s a relay race run by a wide team of creatives, representing every corner of Marvel Comics’ publishing slate and mentioning or tying into all of the biggest stories of 2019 and 2020.
Jason Aaron, Saladin Ahmed, Ed Brisson, Donny Cates, Al Ewing, Eve L. Ewing, Jonathan Hickman, Tini Howard, Greg Pak, Matthew Rosenberg, Dan Slott Kelly Thompson, and Chip Zdarsky (writers), Joe Bennett, Carmen Carnero, Jim Cheung, Mattia De Iulis, Jorge Fornes, Javier Garron, Kim Jacinto, Aaron Kuder, Francesco Manna, Carlos Pacheco, Humberto Ramos, R.B. Silva, Andrea Sorrentino, Ryan Stegman, Luciano Vecchio, and Annie Wu (pencillers), Carmen Carnero, Jim Cheung, Mattia De Iulis, Rafael Fonteriz, Jorge Fornes, Javier Garron, Kim Jacinto, Ruy José, Aaron Kuder, Francesco Manna, Humberto Ramos, R.B. Silva, Andrea Sorrentino, Ryan Stegman, Luciano Vecchio, and Annie Wu (inkers), Jordie Bellaire, David Curiel, Edgar Delgado, Mattia De Iulis, Romulo Fajardo Jr., Tríona Farrell, Michael Garland, Marte Gracia, Espem Grundetjern, Morry Hollowell, Jay David Ramos, Rachelle Rosenberg, Dono Sánchez-Almara, Israel Silva (colorists), Travis Lanham (letterer)
December 25, 2019
As its title suggests, Incoming! #1 is a forecast of what to expect from Marvel’s line in the year to come. This issue ostensibly picks up on the overarching narrative in Marvel Comics #1000 and #1001 of the Eternity Mask, yet this turns out to be more of a framing device as the Masked Raider puts his own crusade on hold for the investigation of a murder with massive cosmic implications. It’s a technical feat of storytelling as creator after creator pass the baton to one another in a ninety-two page story that feels remarkably cohesive for the number of collaborators involved. There are moments when the narrative flags or meanders off course, but the central story is solid and nicely sets up the events of 2020.
Incoming! is a fun story in its own right. Much of the pleasure in Incoming! #1 comes from walking through the Marvel Universe as characters check in with one another and intersect their stories in other ways not usually given panel space. The Marvel Universe feels as interconnected as it ever has in this issue. The bleed between individual segments of the story into a greater whole reinforces that the characters of this universe exist within the same larger superhero community. One of the selling points of Marvel Comics is that it’s one universe with one story stretching out over eighty years, and Incoming! sells that idea with gusto. This issue ties into nearly every ongoing story at Marvel right now, bringing disparate storylines and characters together.
As an advertisement for Marvel’s books to come, it’s remarkably effective. So effective, in fact, that I would love to see an issue much like this at the end of every year that catches readers up to speed on different corners of continuity and gives a sense for which books they should prioritize reading in the new year. The one sticking point for me is the price point. $9.99 is a hefty price, even for ninety-two pages of content, for many readers with budgets. But if Marvel offered an oversized, underpriced annual check-in issue as an advertisement of sorts for things to come and a celebration of the year’s published stories, I think that has the potential to bring new readers who might balk at the $9.99 price to buy an annual title and new titles teased within.
This is a very timely comic. It touches on so much of current continuity, from Captain Marvel’s half-Kree heritage, to the political worries of America’s teen heroes, to the current Krakoa status quo. But this is also a comic that will age itself by its very nature. In a year, Incoming! #1 will still be well-crafted, but it will be left adrift, essentially functioning as a ten-page prelude to Empyre, with eighty pages summarizing the events of the year before. Much of the strength of this issue comes from how well it connects the current publishing slate. Removed from that full context, this would still be a solid story, but not one that feels as audacious.
There are a vast array of different writers and art teams over the course of the issue, all doing strong work. It would do a disservice to the overall quality of the book to single out single passages or creatives, when the book is strengthened by how neatly the smaller sections of the story bleed together. While the art visibly changes from page to page, it is consistently strong and has a sense of continuity. Artists express their own individual styles, but the shifts between artists aren’t ever jarring. Contributing artists balance a Marvel house style well with the hallmarks of their individual styles to create an issue that looks cohesive without ever being homogeneous.
Incoming! #1 is a fun comic. It’s enjoyable to read, and the longer format allows for a different style of storytelling. Marvel has started dipping their toes into longer-form comics with multiple creative teams this year with Marvel Comics #1000, Spider-Man: Full Circle #1, and Incoming! #1, and that experimentation is really great to read. In the new decade, I hope to see Marvel continue to take chances and try new things.