Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
Having covered comics for a number of years, I always appreciate encountering a storyteller excited about pursuing what they hope is a major milestones in a long, successful career. That’s the impression I got while interviewing Ireland-based artist Will Sliney about his big break as the regular artist on the new ongoing Spider-Man 2099.
I was so focused on discussing his new series, I neglected to congratulate and him on being named Cork Person of the Month in July (Sliney hails from Ballycotton in East Cork).
It’s another week, which means a new batch of Marvel series launched as part of the publisher’s “All-New Marvel NOW!” initiative showed up at my local comics shop: Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore’s All-New Ghost Rider, Ales Kott and Garry Brown’s Iron Patriot, and Dan Slott and Mike Allred’s Silver Surfer.
I read two out of the three, as those were the most visually interesting, and seemed to be part of the initiative’s guiding principals: matching striking talents with lower-tier characters for idiosyncratic takes that veer away from the “typical” Marvel comic. Also, those were the two that featured characters who haven’t had a shot at their own book for a longer while. (Sorry, Iron Patriot, it’s not you, it’s me. I’m sure there are plenty of other critics willing to review you).
The five-issue miniseries finds Brown teaming with writer Ales Kot to craft the new adventures of former Secret Avenger Jim Rhodes (while it is currently a miniseries, as noted in this late January tweet by Kot: ” … there is room for more if the series does well. We might just extend if so”). Given that Brown is a 2010 graduate of The Kubert School, I took the opportunity in this brief interview to also discuss that experience and its impact on him.
“There’s always room for more; there’s always room for further diversity. Whether it’s more Latino characters, or more Black characters, or more LGBT characters — you pretty much can pick any group of people, and as long as you’re not talking about middle-aged white men like myself, they’re probably underrepresented in the world of superhero comics. It’s tough from a sales perspective, because all of the characters that are still the bedrock, firmament characters tend to be guys that were created in the 1960s if not earlier, at a time when comic books were predominantly, if not exclusively, white. While it’s nice that we’ve made some steps — we have more female-led books than ever before — that doesn’t mean we should stop coming up with them. Just because we have a few books that have Hispanic characters, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look for more opportunities to do more there. The same thing is true with every demographic that you can speak to. No matter where you happen to sit within the cultural zeitgeist, it’s never mission accomplished. It’s always, ‘What’s next?’ There’s always going to be somebody who is underrepresented, or that you could represent more truthfully or more affectingly.”
– Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing, discussing the titles introduced as part of the “All-New Marvel NOW!” initiative
Sixteen months after Marvel NOW! began, bringing with it new creative teams, new directions, new reboots of recently rebooted titles and new titles, the publisher is launching a new initiative. Marvel NOW! has become Marvel then, and the new NOW! is the All-New Marvel NOW!, which brings with it new creative teams, new directions, new reboots of recently rebooted titles, new titles and so on.
Not all of the NOW! titles are making the transition into the All-New NOW!, of course, and many of those that aren’t are instead concluding (rather than being canceled), apparently having been designed from the start to only last a certain length of time, and these conclusions are taking big, pulpy chunks out of my pull-list.
This week Marvel shipped the last issue of my favorite NOW book: FF. Originally written by Matt Fraction, drawn by Mike Allred, colored by Laura Allred and, toward the end of its 15-issue run, scripted by Lee Allred from Fraction’s plotting, it might not have been the best title Marvel is publishing (that’s probably still Hawkeye), but it was certainly the most fun for the entire length of its short, bright life.
Fraction followed Jonathan Hickman on Fantastic Four, and thus inherited the new, Hickman-created two-book status quo: Fantastic Four, featuring the adventures of the original Marvel superhero team, and FF, devoted to the Future Foundation school for young geniuses that Reed Richards established. Under Fraction, Richards took his team and his two biological children on a trip through time and space, seeking a cure for what appeared to be a chronic condition that baffled even him, in the pages of Fantastic Four, drawn in a more modern Marvel style by Mark Bagley.
And in FF, the Four recruited their own replacements for a temporary, stand-in superhero team/faculty — Ant-Man Scott Lang, She-Hulk, Medusa and Johnny Storm’s pop -star girlfriend Darla Deering — to run the school and care for the kids in their stead. (And it was awesome.)
Marvel has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive preview of She-Hulk #1, by Charles Soule and Javier Pulido, arriving in February as part of the publisher’s All-New Marvel NOW! initiative.
Announced in September, the series will focus on Jennifer Walters’ complicated life as both a superhero and an attorney, while continuing in the quirky tradition of its predecessors like John Byrne’s Sensational She-Hulk and Dan Slott’s more recent She-Hulk.
The increasingly busy Soule — like Walters, he’s a lawyer — has high praise for Pulido, writing on his blog that, “The man is brilliant. If you missed it, Axel Alonso tweeted a few pages from She-Hulk #2 that will explain what I’m talking about. In the script, that’s just a page of two folks chatting, but Mr. Pulido brings it to life like nobody’s business. And if he can do that with a conversation page, wait until you see the action stuff. She-Hulk is an incredibly fun, funny series, and I’m really looking forward to it showing up on the shelf in six weeks or so.”
Check out some of Pulido’s art for yourself below:
Passings | Chris Bird pens an obituary for Leon Kuhn, a British cartoonist who was active in socialist and progressive causes and whose work appeared regularly in the Morning Star as well as in The Big Book of Bureaucrats. He often marched in demonstrations carrying placards of his cartoons. Kuhn died last week at age 59; the sole news article about his death simply says he “died under a train” at a London subway station and that the death is not being treated as suspicious. [Counterfire]
Manga | ICV2 rounds up Viz Media’s announcements for the beginning of 2014, including three new series. [ICv2]
Creators | Jonathan Hickman and Tom Brevoort talk about Avengers #24.NOW, which kicks off the All-New Marvel NOW initiative. [USA Today]
Although superhero comics fans typically react to series relaunches with howls of derision, there’s little arguing with the sales numbers: Somebody is buying all of those new No. 1 issues. Just ask Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing.
Responding to a loaded question on his Formspring account — “Why is Marvel terrified, no dare I say PETRIFIED, of having a book reach more than 15 issues before getting reset to issue number 1?” — Brevoort explains, “We’re not terrified, nay PETRIFIED, of any such thing. But neither are we living in the past.”
“The number is there to serve a function, but it has no intrinsic value in and of itself,” he continues. “It’s comfort food and nostalgia at best. On this, we follow what you and your fellow readers do more than what you say. We hear complaints about renumbering every time we do it, but every time we do it it results in higher sales, which is the whole ballgame — so if it were your time and your effort, what would you do?”
As part of All-New Marvel NOW!, veteran artist Lee Garbett will team in February with writer Al Ewing for Loki: Agent of Asgard, a series the god of mischief is fully grown and in the service of the All-Mother. More immediately, however, Marvel is setting the stage for the initiative with All-New Marvel NOW! Point One #1, a one-shot that arrives Jan. 8 with a Garbett-drawn Loki serving as the thread that brings together all of the stories.
In my interview with Garbett, the artist clearly relishes the opportunity to draw Asgard’s new “one-man secret service” as well as work with Ewing. ROBOT 6 is also pleased to provide an exclusive page from the upcoming All-New Marvel NOW Point One.
With the debut this morning of the first animal variants to mark Marvel’s All-New Marvel NOW! initiative, Mouse Guard creator David Petersen offers a look at how he drew a cover for Avengers #20.NOW, sporting an elk Thor, an eagle Captain America and a grizzly Hulk.
“I’d already decided on Cap being a bald eagle (patriotic symbolism and all) when Steve [Wacker] emailed me back (about some deadline detail stuff) offering up ‘Thor as an elk?” Petersen writes on his blog. “Once I saw that, I couldn’t un-think of Elk-Thor. And the last was Hulk who I decided would be like a massive angry grizzly bear. I sketched each of the animals as avengers out on separate pieces of paper and modified their costumes (except Bear-Hulk) to fit the animal frames.”
As usual, the Eisner Award-winning writer/artist delves into the process, and offers a look at the different stages of the cover. Take a peek below, and read the full post on Petersen’s blog.
In what is sure to be a paper-saving initiative, Marvel Comics will offer copies of its Marvel Previews catalogue on the Marvel Comics Digital App beginning November 6. A digital download of the catalogue will also come bundled with any digital download code in the publisher’s print comics. It will transition to a free download for all users the month its contents are on sale.
Marvel is currently the only publisher to have a catalogue separate from the massive monthly tome of Diamond Previews, the catalogue from which retailers can plan which issues and products they plan to order. Previews contains solicitations for products set to hit in three months, giving retailers and fans an advanced — if somewhat ambiguous — look at what to expect in the coming months. Marvel Previews is available free with purchase of the main Previews catalogue, or for $1.99 by itself.
Given Loki’s current popularity, both on the big screen and in his pint-sized form in Young Avengers, it was only a matter of time before Marvel’s god of mischief earned his own comic.
The publisher revealed during this afternoon’s “All-New Marvel Now” panel at New York Comic Con that writer Al Ewing and artist Lee Garbett are teaming up for Loki: Agent of Asgard, a new ongoing series in which the now grown-up trickster — now in the service of the All-Mother — is made official defender of the home of the gods.
Ewing explained to Marvel.com that Loki will be sent on missions “that are relevant to the future security of Asgard. For example, in Issue 2, Loki’s given the job of tracking down Lorelei, the Enchantress’ younger sister, who’s been out in the realm of Midgard getting up to mischief. Whether Loki and Lorelei’s relationship mirrors that of their older siblings — well, you’ll have to pick up the book to find out.”
Look for more details Saturday in Comic Book Resource’s interview with Ewing.
Marvel recently announced the next big thing, in the form of the All-New Marvel NOW. Since last year’s refreshing take on a variety of titles, and the introduction of a few new ones, turned out to be a success, the publisher has gone back to find new and interesting ways to keep the stands fresh and recharged, directing readers to the latest stories and longtime readers to the new creative teams and focus of the Marvel Universe. A sort of lead-in to Inhumanity, the next event-as-varnish over the heroes and stories, kind of a way to just drum up support for some new ideas. But they’re renumbering the Avengers.
OK, it’s not a blatant renumbering; you see, to highlight the All-New Marvel NOW titles, they’ll be getting a Point-NOW issue to direct fans to where the next hotness is. It’s kind of like the Point One issue, but less of a long-term, situation I’m guessing. Don’t get me wrong, the Point-NOW issues will be here for a while, as it kicks off in December with Avengers #24.NOW and then leads into a new series (or more than one new series, in some cases) every week. I know, it’s a lot to take in, and so far, there’s not much else to report besides an All-New Invaders series and the early info we’ve gotten on Inhumanity. I expect an avalanche of interviews and promotions the closer we get to December’s launch. Yet there’s one thing in the announcement that just got right under my nails; it’s a small issue, but in the long run, it becomes a much bigger point of contention.
How are we supposed to file these Point-Now issues??