Now that more books are out and more of the lineup is being revealed, letting us know what’s in store, we’re in a better position to understand Marvel NOW! This week was a big one as All-New X-Men hit the stands with Fantastic Four, Thor: God of Thunder and the possibly underrated X-Men Legacy. The two X-books are important. and I might talk a little about the books as we go along, but the reason why is because, before today, I had no idea what on Earth Marvel’s Merry Mutants were going to be doing. We knew the school was intact, but … that was it? What about this semi-villain team that Scott’s in? He seems to want mutant unity, but has he crossed the line into superiority? Is he just the bad guy now or are we getting two “social justice” stories, two ways of handling the issue of being hated and feared? We may not have gotten all the answers, but there’s a lot more to go on than what we had by the end of AvX: Consequences.
We’re going to be waist deep in Marvel NOW! by the end of the month, so the questions about the new landscape can be more specific instead of just “Wait and see the first issue!” Looking at the solicitations, we start to put what we’re seeing this month with what will be happening three months from now and, like focusing a telescope, stories and characters are becoming more clear.
Despite being in a better position, there’s still going to be a lot of questions and some I’d even like ot pose to you, Dear Reader, as we take a stroll through February 2013 and see what Marvel will be putting to the printed page. Let’s take a look!
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. We’ve each picked the five comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a list of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.
As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
Avengers #1 (Marvel): Has Marvel NOW! already gotten enough attention? Maybe so, but that’s partly the reason I’m highlighting this specific book. In the rising tide that’s pushed all of the Marvel NOW relaun!ches, for me — as a fan and journalist — the marketing has dulled the unique appeal of every book. Flipping through Previews and giving this a deeper critical eye, it made me realize – this is Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opeña doing Avengers, the de facto flagship book of Marvel since 2004. Opeña really turned a corner with Uncanny X-Force, and I’m interested to see how Hickman brings his meticulous plotting to a biweekly book with a cast larger than Circus of the Stars. And what’s interesting is that he’s done a version of this when he relaunched the “Ultimate” version of the Avengers in Ultimate Comics: Ultimates. I’m not saying this will be that re-heated over, but it’ll be interesting to see how he takes roughly the same characters and bobs instead of weaves.
Hiroaki Samura’s Emerald and Other Stories (Dark Horse): Samura’s Blade of the Immortal was a major manga when it debuted, but when you have one artist doing a long, drawn-out story it tends to dull in the eyes of fans on the outside looking in. But his short-story collection Ohikkoshi was fun, modern and completely different – a great bite-size snack from the eight-course meal/buffet that is Blade of the Immortal. This collection looks to be like that, centered around Samura’s western teen drama Emerald. I’ve heard of another set of stories called Bradherley’s Coach about a family whose business is to ferry orphans to their new home, which I hope is in here as well.
Mara #1 (Image): I’ve been loving Brian Wood’s work since he jumped to AiT-PlanetLar too many years ago, and seeing him branch out with another new series makes me wish for Brian Wood Month all over again. Besides swami Brian, it’s the artist he’s doing this with that really deserves some attention; Ming Doyle has killed it in her work featured on Project: Rooftop (shameless plug), and when she moved to doing shorts for Marvel in things like Fantastic Four she showed she could really play with the big boys. Seeing Wood and Doyle doing a sports-themed action series set in the future, this is a unique-looking story that’ll be at the top of my stack when it comes out on Dec. 26.
Hip Flask: Ourborous (Image): In comics today there’s a rare group of artists that are like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ents; an older race who were once masters of the world but now subsist on making rare, but eventful appearances. Alan Moore is this way; so is Art Adams. To that list I’d like to add Ladrönn. This has my money, even if I didn’t know how great a story this is.
Orcs, Vol. 1: Forged For War (First Second): Speaking of Tolkien, am I the only one that felt compassion for the Orcs in Lord of the Rings? Well, this reprinted graphic novel by writer Stan Nicholls and artist Joe Flood brings the orc race to the forefront. Orc Stain was great, and this could be too!
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d start with a couple of Marvel firsts, even though one of them isn’t technically a first issue: Uncanny Avengers #1 ($3.99) and Red She-Hulk #58 ($2.99). This is the first week of Marvel NOW, and they’re starting with books by creative teams I’m excited about. Next I’d get Stumptown V2 #2 ($3.99) and wind things up with the Halloween Eve one-shot. I actually supported the Kickstarter for the latter, so my copy is probably already on the way to my mailbox, but hypothetically let’s assume that it wasn’t. It’s by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder, two creators whose work I’ve enjoyed in the past. So if it wasn’t coming to me in the mail, it would come home in a paper bag from the comic shop.
If I had $30, I’d add an outgoing Marvel title (Marvel THEN?), Fantastic Four #611, which features the end of Hickman’s run before he moves on to Avengers and Matt Fraction takes over the first family of Marveldom. Next I’d grab Green Lantern Corps #13 ($2.99) as I like the direction the GL books have been headed in lately, and Conan #9 ($3.50), the second half of Brian Wood’s collaboration with Vasilis Lolos. Finally, I’d grab Point of Impact #1 ($2.99), the new crime book by Jay Faerber and Koray Kuranel.
This is a splurge in price only; if I had $50, then Chris Ware’s Building Stories would definitely have been at the top of my buy list this week. It’s a big box of little comics, as Chris put it, and as luck would have it I really do have $50 in gift certificates that I got for my birthday to buy it with. Thanks Mom and Dad!
Chinese artist Jian Guo makes incredible, digital paintings in the style of stained-glass windows. This Avengers one is amazing, but my favorites are his Lord of the Rings designs, each of which includes multiple, related vignettes from the story. See some of those below, then head to Guo’s deviantART page for more, including ones inspired by World of Warcraft.
(via Who Designed It?)
Earlier this year Playdom, a social gaming company that’s owned by Disney, launched Marvel: Avengers Alliance on Facebook. The game casts you in the role of a SHIELD agent who can recruit various Marvel heroes to help fight bad guys in missions assigned to you by Nick Fury, Maria Hill and Tony Stark. It’s a fun game; probably the best review I can give it is that here we are six months after it launched, and I’m still not tired of it. It’s not something I can say about many of the Facebook games I’ve tried out (Walking Dead, I hardly knew ye).
In addition to the regular missions that pit you against Loki, the Wrecking Crew, the U-Foes and others, the game will sometimes throw “special operations” at you. So far there’s been three of them–they’re available for a limited time, require the use of a fifth in-game currency (“Unstable ISO-8′) and offer unique rewards and new heroes as you complete them. The first two introduced Mockingbird and Emma Frost to the game. This past Thursday, they launched a third one, and what makes this one a lot of fun is that it actually ties into a current comic book storyline–Avengers vs. X-Men.
There have been other steampunk Avengers, but with the Hulk in suspenders and a bowler? I’d read a comic just about him.
Anyway, Brian Kesinger is awesome and you should check out his blog and DeviantArt page. He also does steampunk other things, like Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Star Wars. But if steampunk’s not your thing, his Hip Hop Boba Fett and Pooh vs. Voldemort are cool, too. I posted bunch of my favorites below.
While Marvel revealed most of the sprawling lineup for Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opeña’s Avengers last week with Dustin Weaver’s interlocking covers for the first three issues, it has remained tight-lipped about the roster of the companion title New Avengers. But did the publisher just give away part of the team with one of the new Marvel NOW! variants?
Among the covers debuted by Marvel Senior Vice President of Sales David Gabriel on the Diamond Comic Distributors retailer website is a new Baby variant by Skottie Young (above) featuring pint-sized versions of Black Bolt, Black Panther, Iron Man and Mister Fantastic. Decked out in his white Future Foundation costume, a displeased lil’ Reed says, “Seriosly [sic], guys? A simple memo on uniform colors would’ve been nice,” suggesting they are indeed part of a team. Of the four heroes, only Black Bolt — the ruler of the Inhumans whose voice can level cities — has never served as an Avenger.
[Bane co-creator] Graham [Nolan] and I both signed participation agreements, which are good in perpetuity. So it’s not up to them whether they take care of us. We’re taken care of. We’ve seen money from Bane all along – the Lego games and the little Bane-shaped piece in the Spaghettios. We always get a piece of what Bane makes. We’ll see money from this movie. They have graphs and charts to figure out how much based on how many lines of dialogue he has and how much he’s in the movie and how much impact he has on the story. We were part of it the last time when Bane was in the last [Joel] Schumacher film really briefly. We participated in that.
– Chuck Dixon, on the benefits of creating Bane for DC Comics
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics — now with 100 percent more JK Parkin! Michael May, Graeme McMillan, Chris Arrant and JK have each picked the five comics they’re most anticipating in order to create a Top 20 (or so; we overlap sometimes) of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.
As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
47 Ronin #1 (Dark Horse, $3.99): Mike Richardson, Dark Horse’s head honcho, teams with Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai to retell the story of the 47 ronin who avenged their master after he was forced to commit ritual suicide for assaulting a court official. It will be both very cool and a little odd to see Sakai drawing samurai that aren’t anthropomorphic animals and aren’t in black and white (the book’s full color), but I’ve always admired his clean style. As an added bonus, Kazuo Koike of Lone Wolf and Cub fame consulted on the project, so this should be a treat.
Great Pacific #1 (Image Comics, $2.99): Joe Harris and Martin Morazzo have come up with a book that I just love the high concept behind: the heir to one of America’s most successful oil companies moves to the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch and declares it a sovereign country. He then fights giant sea monsters, based on the preview art that’s been released, which is an added bonus.
Marvel NOW!: This might be cheating, but Marvel has 10 new comics debuting in November under the Marvel NOW! banner. Mark Waid on Hulk? John Romita on Captain America? Matt Fraction writing Fantastic Four and FF? Jonathan Hickman on Avengers? Yeah, I’ll just lump all these together and hope no one notices I’m gaming the system here …
Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown: Fantagraphics continues its series of high-end collections of the best of Carl Barks’ duck stories, with the Christmas-themed third volume arriving just in time to be stuffed in somebody’s stocking.
Retrovirus (Image Comics, $16.99): Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s latest graphic novel, drawn by Norberto Fernandez, is about a research scientist who specializes in viruses heading to Antarctica to examine a perfectly preserved caveman. I’m a fan of Palmiotti and Gray’s work together, from Jonah Hex to The Monolith (which gets the collection treatment in November), and this one sounds like it could be a lot of fun.
“Take away the suit of armor and what are you?”
“Uh, genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.”
You too can join the G.B.P.P. Club, courtesy of artist Ryan Astle and TeeFury. Memberships are only available to Tony Stark’s very exclusive organization (even more exclusive than the Avengers, who will let anybody in) for 24 hours, so buy it now if you want it. ” I imagine Tony giving Steve this shirt as a gag gift at Christmas,” Astle said.
The Marvel year sort of ends in November, doesn’t it? Looking back, it seems like this is the month of fallouts from events, the rebirth of familiar titles, a new banner emblazoning our books, the loss of a few under-the radar hits. Everything changes, whether we like it or not, and the cycle begins anew right around the holiday season. I’m jumping back on the “Forward into the Past” arena with one of the more important times of year: August, when we talk about November like it’s January of next year. Confused? Me too. But hopefully if we just keep in mind how this usually goes, we’ll be able to fit right in as the old guard becomes the new guard and we lose Avengers Academy.
We should form a support group, you guys. That book has been my bright and shining star of Avengers hope for so long, I’m not sure what I’m going to do without it.
Hold back those tears! Let us forge ahead and see what these Days of Future’s Future might look like in Marvel’s solicitations for November.
Nine Marvel series will end in October even as the publisher debuts Uncanny Avengers #1, the first title in its sweeping Marvel NOW! initiative.
According to Marvel’s October solicitations, which went live this morning, the month will mark the conclusions of Captain America, Fantastic Four, FF, Incredible Hulk, Invincible Iron Man, New Mutants, The Mighty Thor, Uncanny X-Men and X-Men Legacy.
Naturally, some of those aren’t entirely unexpected, as the new Uncanny Avengers, by Rick Remender and John Cassaday, will be joined in November by All-New X-Men, by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen, followed by Avengers, by Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opena, in December and New Avengers, by Hickman and Steve Epting, in January. Likewise, Ed Brubaker revealed two weeks ago that he’s ending his acclaimed seven-year-run on Captain America, a departure that dovetails nicely into Marvel’s relaunch plans.
However, what will replace such mainstay titles as Fantastic Four, Incredible Hulk, Invincible Iron Man and The Mighty Thor, and when, remains to be seen. Although it’s unlikely the publisher will go too long without versions of those comics on the shelves, Marvel has promised a slow rollout of relaunches between October and February.
This wasn’t the halfway point I was expecting. When it comes to summer events, it’s kind of an unstated rule that there’s going to be a bigger focus on spectacle rather than content. When a giant cosmic force of life and death barrels toward your planet, you expect all the heroes to get some new costumes, maybe pick up a couple of new skill sets and give it all they’ve got to battle the Big Bad of Summer 2012. Not a philosophical comment on the nature of man and their relationship and understanding of the future.
Of course, that’s awesome, but unexpected.
It’s like getting a box of Fruit Loops, and about halfway through the box you find the answer to life, the universe and everything (to borrow a phrase). Sure, it’s not the most reliable answer, as it came out of a box of Fruit Loops, but how astounding is it that it’s even here? Does it give the answer more or less weight considering where you found it?
Let’s talk a little thematic philosophy and also kicking and punching in this week’s Avengers vs. X-Men Round 6, shall we?
Sales charts | The American Booksellers Association has released its list of the top-selling graphic novels in indie bookstores for the eight weeks ending May 27. At first glance, it looks like it’s mostly literary graphic novels (Habibi, Are You My Mother?) with a healthy sprinkling of The Walking Dead. [Bookselling This Week, via The Beat]
Creators | Grant Morrison discusses the second issue of Batman Incorporated, which features Batman’s lover and Robin’s mom, Talia al Ghul. [USA Today]
Comics history | Could comics history have been radically different if Jerry Siegel had a different last name? Larry Tye, the author of the new Superman a biography, talks to Fresh Air about the origins of the Man of Steel and how he changed over the years: “The editors in New York over time started to exercise their editorial control. They saw this as both a character and a business. They would go down to the level of dictating just what his forelocks looked like. They could be too curly. His arms should be shorter and less ‘ape-like.’ And Joe should get rid of his hero’s ‘nice fat bottom.’ His editor told him that he worried that that made Superman look too ‘la-dee-dah.’ And they were really concerned about the image of the character.” [NPR]
Fans have been breaking down and building up everything big and small from The Avengers movie, and this recent set of art of Black Widow and Hawkeye really draws you in. Created by an artist named Lettie, these eight pieces bring into focus the nuanced relationship between Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton that was only hinted at in the Marvel film.
There’s been an immense amount of fan art surrounding The Avengers, showing everything from a love for shawarma to romantic relationships between Loki and the male cast to bloopers. Lettie’s artwork here really cuts to the bone, like a would-be set of deleted scenes that makes you want to see more of this pair’s relationship, either in a future Avengers movie or a spinoff all their own. Make it mine, Marvel!