This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on December 26, 2019.
I avoid mentioning price when reviewing comics. My general philosophy is that I’m here to discuss my reaction to a piece of art that may help guide someone else to decide whether they would also like to consider it or that could provide an alternative perspective after reading. However, it’s impossible to discuss Incoming #1 without mentioning the price point because the comic itself is obviously a function of commerce rather than art—a $10 advertisement for current and forthcoming Marvel Comics series that could have been an amusing giveaway (or 99 cent issue), but will likely leave readers feeling ripped off considering they could have purchased an entire first volume of an actual comic book narrative for that same price.
Incoming #1 compiles roughly 17 different creative teams with about the same number of distinct settings and sets of characters into an almost 100 page issue, stringing them together with a murder mystery introduced, investigated, and resolved across that span. Writer Al Ewing and artist Humberto Ramos provide the touchstone sequences sprinkled throughout the issue that loosely connect all of these disparate pieces, while teams from current and announced titles drop a few pages each that function primarily as teasers. Unfortunately, the mystery itself is a dud, providing a solvable cypher as a clue for a solution that will likely send most readers to check Wikipedia if they can even bring themselves to care after having the heroes explain who the victims are and what it all might mean. It’s a dud of a centerpiece that only draws further attention to how much everything surrounding it doesn’t offer much more than a reminder that Marvel Comics publishes a lot of comics.
One of the issues with utilizing a murder mystery as the centerpiece for this story is that it results in a lot of sequences where characters simply walk and talk. They explain what little drop of information they have to add to the overall plot—often a torturously thin connection clearly invented to justify the inclusion of a specific series or event—while also explaining their current status quo in Marvel Comics. It’s a non-stop exposition dump played through the style of Aaron Sorkin’s walk-and-talk writing, but without nearly enough cleverness to distract from the obvious appeal for readers to spend a lot more money buying a few more of these teased series.
What’s worse is that each of these advertising segments fail to even advertise their stories very well. Incoming #1 features many of Marvel’s best artists, including R.B. Silva, Aaron Kuder, and Jorge Fornes. However, the pages they provide here mostly features groups of recognizable superheroes standing around discussing a less-than-interesting murder mystery. The few moments of action and scale are primarily delivered as background in these conversations. This both slows down the reading experience and makes even the best splash panels appear like reminders that you could be reading something else instead.
One notable exception is the inclusion of a few pages tied to The Immortal Hulk and drawn by the series’ primary artist Joe Bennett. Ewing has never phoned in a single page connected to this critical and commercial darling, managing to make even superfluous tie-ins to events like “Absolute Carnage” resonate. Here, he and Bennett dip into the nature of Joe Fixit and reveal something quite interesting about the collection of personalities in Bruce Banner’s head. However, even the biggest fans of that series should simply wait and hope these few pages are collected with the other quality material from The Immortal Hulk down the road.
As a collection of creators connected to Marvel Comics in 2020, Incoming #1 offers a nice list of names and plenty of reasons to be interested in what they are producing outside of this comic. However, as a comic book unto itself, Incoming #1 asks its intended audience to cough up $10 so they can read through an illustrated version of Previews. The excuse for a plot at its heart fails to intrigue or excite and the artistic talent is poorly utilized across more than 80 pages. This is a Free Comic Book Day giveaway with an outsized ego and should be promptly ignored before being read and, ideally, never purchased.
Published by Marvel Comics
On December 26, 2019
Written by Al Ewing and others
Art by Humberto Ramos and others
Colors by Edgar Delgado and others
Letters by Travis Lanham
Cover by Patrick Gleason and Marte Gracia