Robot 6

The Fifth Color | Forward into the Past with Marvel for June ’11

Fear Itself #3

[Editor's Note: Due to technical issues, Carla's column from last Friday was delayed until today.]

It is more fun to announce things at comic conventions where there’s a live audience to ooh and ahh at all the new and exciting products you’re putting out than it is to post it on the internet. It’s the difference between selling your car in a showroom as opposed to an ad on Craigslist. I’m sure there’s a dirty joke in there somewhere, so feel free to fill it in for yourself, but the point remains. So that’s why we didn’t get the Marvel Comics solicitations for June 2011 when we usually do; as all the other kids down the block showed off their upcoming new comics, Marvel waited until C2E2 was over because the big show came first.

Or so I thought.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Marvel Comics has unleashed the full power of their June line-up. They weren’t waiting for the live announcements to go first, they were keeping their readership safe from the imminent disasters that will befall us in the future! They were protecting us! They had only our safety in mind and now the true story can be told! I present the June 2011 solicitation list that will very nearly END EXISTENCE AS WE KNOW IT!!!

Anyone prone to heart conditions, seizures or who could be pregnant, read the following list of colossal entertainment at your own risk. These comics are rated M for “Oh MY God, these comics will crack the internet in half!”

I’m going to get my heart checked out and make sure I’m properly in good shape because so many of these solicitation promise to change everything forever in ways we could have never dreamed of. Each one is more shocking than the next: Fear Itself #3 says that once Loki hatches the “scheme to end all schemes” and a major Hero falls at the Serpent’s hands, we’ll get “The shock ending to end all shock endings…as the cycle of evil stretching millennia is at last completed.” And this is issue #3! Yikes! What could possibly come next once you’ve oversold your third issue? Now, my New Year’s Resolutions included giving Fear Itself as a chance and, despite some reservations expressed to me about Book of the Skull, I’m feeling pretty good about the event. It looks like it’s got a couple of villains working together in a way that it would take multiple heroes to foil their plans. It’s got a death of a major hero (roll your eyes, but we know it wouldn’t be an event comic without one). It’s got a cycle of evil that will, hopefully, come to an end. But still… that’s a lot of hype for just the third issue, the kind you’d hear selling you the second-to-last one instead. I can’t even imagine what issue #6 is going to be like.

Meanwhile, as you reel from that one, Avengers #14 guaran-damn-tees you “the biggest shake-up in the Avengers roster since AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED”. Quick! Name all the Avengers and try not to count the New or Secret ones! Yeah, it takes you a minute past Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. I’d say that roster is pretty shaken up to begin with. Plus, this whole shake-up comes from a surprise event that comes from the event that is Fear Itself. A Turducken of events! So, this begs the question, is there another Event style comic coming out of Fear Itself? Are going to read two monumental storylines at once? I think I need to sit down.

Captain America #619

But wait, gentle readers, there is MORE! Also coming in June is Captain America #619 where Captain America, Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes all collide into the final chapter of the Two Dudes, One Suit conundrum that has plagued us since Captain America: Reborn. “From his cold Russian prison cell, Bucky makes a decision that will change his life forever. And in the Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier back-up, the first repercussions of Bucky’s actions may destroy everything Steve has worked so hard for. It’s the stunning conclusion you won’t believe!” Calm down there, buddy, I’ll be honest: this I possibly could believe. I think that sometimes, the hype machine gets stuck on overdrive and the results aren’t as spectacular as previously mentioned. Unless you believe in the Easter Bunny, I think everyone knows full well that Steve Rogers is getting back in the Captain America duds. He’s got a movie coming out in July, people are going to go into the stores (God Willing) and look for something to match what they saw on the screen. So giving up the suit could be the decision, but it also could be something else that will make my eyeballs melt out of my skull and cause me to speak in tongues. I can peaceably wait for the Ed Brubaker-y goodness that’s on its way.

I can remain calm about the last one but, oh God, it doesn’t stop because with the world-shatter death of a major hero comes the otherworld-shattering death of ANOTHER HERO! Get ready for Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #160 because they have forgone the hype machine to say nothing. Just a big old CLASSIFIED; they tell you more about the variant covers than they do about the actual issue. Also, they tell me it’s POLYBAGGED! *dramatic music sting*

AND THEN there is going to be a From The Vault issue with the Human Torch and the Hulk drawn by Steve Ditko.

If you need to go lie down and put a cool cloth over your head, say maybe hyperventilate into a bag, I understand. June is going to kick out Marvel lovin’ rear ends.

I’m not sure if you picked up the recent Uncanny X-Men Annual or have been keeping track through solicitations (like this one!) but Marvel’s trying the tie-in annual stories again. Where the thicker side-story issue would be continued in a mess of other books, all of them a little more expensive but chock full of heroic crossovers and some extra short stories or artwork. Personally, I like the idea and find it a lot more simple and humbling than the events we see listed above; they both have comparable traits but approach the shelves a little more calmly than the other. While I may enjoy the quieter event, they just won’t make Marvel as much money, so we’re trying them out in humble little annuals than promoting them like blockbuster events. All of that rumination leads me to note that the Incredible Hulk Annual #1 will be the last chapter in a story that runs through the Spider-Man and Deadpool annuals.

Speaking of the Incredible Hulk, we get two issues this month that start the end Greg Pak’s colossal run on the title. “Planet Hulk” and “World War Hulk” writer Greg Pak ends his legendary Incredible Hulk run — and he’s taking the Green Goliath down with him! To protect his beloved family, Bruce Banner has spent the last year sacrificing himself in titanic clashes with monsters, demons, and the gods themselves. But what happens when the furious monster inside Bruce Banner says ENOUGH? Every wish comes true — and every curse is unleashed — as the angriest, strongest one there is finally seizes what HE wants. The Hulk’s greatest love, most powerful villains, and ultimate triumph converge… in what just might be the end of the Incredible Hulk.” ‘Just what might be’s notwithstanding, Greg Pak has done amazing things with the Hulk and the idea of him leaving the book blows my tiny little brain. These two issues start “Heart of the Monster,” a six-part story.

Annihilators #4

We’re also going to say goodbye to Spider-Girl and the Annihilators, one as the book is canceled (surprise!) and the other as the mini-series comes to a close. I’m sure with the success the Marvel Cosmic line of stories has been (oh please, let it have been a success), Abnett and Lanning will most likely return for another chapter in their epic space saga. Though they won’t be responsible for the very secret, but very obvious return of a ‘beloved Marvel hero’ in FF #5. “As the War of Four Cities heats up, the Universal Inhumans enter the fray! What role will the FF play in things to come? Prepare for epic battles, live lost and saved, and the awaited return of a beloved Marvel hero!” Look at the cover and tell me that’s not Black Bolt. I know the world probably hasn’t been clamoring for the return of the Inhuman king, but it’s just another fine example of how much the new FF seem to be reaching out into other books to pull interesting new plots, twists and turns.

With this next one, I’m kind of confused. You see, as far as I know, Marvel’s Point One issues are supposed to be new reader friendly drop-in points, issues you can pick up free of overarching story-lines that take you straight to the heart of whoever is on the cover. So, with this in mind, Ghost Rider #0.1 seems kind of silly. First issues are always reader friendly (and collector friendly too, but that’s another story). Why do we need a Point One on a book that hasn’t even started yet?

Meanwhile, Marvel’s Merry Mutants are on the cusp of a “Schism,” something so important that yes, our lives will never be the same again. Secrets will be revealed in bulk about mysterious villains of the original five X-Men that no one recalls (X-Men #12 and #13) and uncovered new history between Cyclops and Wolverine that we never saw before (X-Men: Prelude #3 and #4) But yet, I read through every solicitation and all I can think of is how incredible awesome Uncanny X-Force #11 sounds: “Apocalypse is dead. His heir, Archangel, has picked up where his predecessor left off, amassing an army of En Sabah Nur’s greatest servants! The only hope X-Force have of saving Warren Worthington from the dark entity that inhabits his soul, rests in a dimension where Apocalypse, and his technology, took over the world, the solution lies in—The Age of Apocalypse! However, before X-Force can obtain the thing capable of saving their friend, they must defeat The Amazing X-Men!”

New Mutants #26

To speak on the present briefly, New Mutants #23 snapped a new piece of their alter-dimensional puzzle that makes me really look forward to issues three months from now. New Mutants #26 sports X-Man on the cover and promises a new start and a fresh coat of paint to the title, along with new writers Abnett and Lanning. In the land of tumultuous events, it’s rather reassuring to see a book come out of any event with a hopefully sounding future.

I have one last soapbox to stand on, and that leads me to the Marvel Icon collection of Scarlett. June will bring the creator-owned title to a premiere hardcover, collecting what I assume will be the first five issues (seeing as they’re soliciting #6 this month as well), plus sketches, scripts and bonus art. This collection will be $24.99 and be printed in “trim size,” not oversized. Now, I have a problem with this because $25 hardcover collections of an ongoing series are really hard to sell. I may not have enjoyed Image Comics’ Morning Glories all that much, but I respect the heck out of them for releasing their first six issues in a trade paperback for $10.

On the other hand, there will be two major Dark Tower comics collections, one a hefty Omnibus of the acclaimed series collecting nearly 300 pages of the first six arcs of Stephen King’s fantasy opus and the other a companion collection to coincide with the series. The Omnibus clocks in at $150 and the 600 page companion collection doesn’t seem to have a price, but my guess is that it’ll be something very similar.

Oddly, this I’m ok with. It’s because of the mass appeal of Dark Tower, Steven King and the fact that Marvel can get away with keeping the series in HC for so long before a paperback copy comes out that I understand a deluxe collection can and will be pricey. This isn’t for hardcore comics audiences, this is for fans of a long running novel series and a critically acclaimed author and I don’t mind if they want to pay for some drastically expensive set of books. It’s when someone wants to read a new series that has no mass appeal outside of comics that I grit my teeth.

Thor: Gods on Earth trade paperback, however, saves my dental work; this collects a rather unique period in the God of Thunder’s tales where Odin has died and Thor not only assumes the throne, but moves Asgard to New York City to more directly influence the populace in the style of true mythological gods. I have been waiting for these Thor issues to be traded forever (ok, just a few years) and every month we get a new TP chock full of Jurgens strange and epic approach to ‘Hey, there’s a NORSE GOD in the Avengers, let’s see how far we can take that!’ makes me pretty happy.

I know there’s something I missed from the list that has shaken and changed your life forever, but with all the cataclysmic change that will indeed rock my being at its very core, I can only comprehend so much of the mighty Marvel marketing machine. Check out the full list of June solicitations for Marvel and tell me what caught your eye and will create miracles in the comments and let us all prepare for the end times that is June 2011.

Excelsior!

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Comments

3 Comments

Normally I would hesitate about leaving a generally-negative comment, like this, but since I did actually read through the June Marvel solicits and since you did ask for comments…

Wow, did Marvel’s June comics look awful. Not enormously more awful than most of them usually look, to me, okay. But I don’t read the solicits out of pure masochism; normally I do find at least a few gems to note down on a list.

June looks absolutely end-to-end bad, though. Maybe the comics will be good, but they sure don’t look like it; “Fear Itself” seems desperately like the product of someone declaring “okay, we need another mega-event; start producing promotional event and scheduling the tie-in books and then at some point we’ll work out a storyline,” except that they never really got around to that last bit.

For what it’s worth, I certainly don’t condemn Marvel for failing to meet some obligation to entertain me, nor am I dancing around celebrating; that’s just the take I had on their June comics, for good or bad.

“You see, as far as I know, Marvel’s Point One issues are supposed to be new reader friendly drop-in points, issues you can pick up free of overarching story-lines that take you straight to the heart of whoever is on the cover. So, with this in mind, Ghost Rider #0.1 seems kind of silly. First issues are always reader friendly (and collector friendly too, but that’s another story). Why do we need a Point One on a book that hasn’t even started yet?”

I had the same reaction, until I realized I was making an unwarranted assumption: the typical #1 issue is NOT reader friendly — often, in fact, you need to know far too much back story to understand the latest incarnation of Deathlok or whoever. Marvel is just acknowledging that fact. Good for them!

My other reaction to the June solicits is the incredible volume of trades that are available. It’s usually a fairly large number, but for this month, the trade section just went on… and on… and on… and on…

I mean, I’m sure someone somewhere has been waiting for a collection of NYX; and Captain Britain; and Impossible Man; and Mystique; and the 12 issue mini-series Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Comics Magazine; and She-Hulks; and Black Widow; the four Deadpool collections; the 11 (!!) x-book TPBs; the seven Cap collections (he’s got a movie coming out!); the four Thor trades (so does he!); the three Marvel Masterworks hardcovers; the licensed properties Dark Tower (3), Anita Blake, Halo; not to mention the re-release of at least a half dozen other out-of-print books (does Daredevil: Yellow and Hulk: Gray being released in trade mean Captain America: White is finally on the horizon?), but I find it hard to believe too many people will be so flush with case as to pick up lots and lots of these things in a single month. And that only encompasses about half the list! It certainly makes me think Marvel is trying to flood the market.

I don’t understand why Marvel does the point one issues at $2.99 and resumes $3.99 for the regular issues. I’ve been buying the point one issues (and happy that they are one-and-done), but don’t buy Marvel’s $4 comics.

I win both ways: I get a good Marvel comic for three bucks, and I don’t waste my money on their overpriced stuff….

Now, I buy mostly DC, even though I’ve always been a Marvel zombie….

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