Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
Marvel released its November solicitations, and as I’ve feared for a few months now, New Warriors by Christopher Yost and Marcus To is ending with Issue 12. This isn’t exactly a surprise, as anyone even casually watching its sales probably saw this coming: July’s Issue 7 sold about 17,000 copies, a few thousand below the traditional line of death for a Marvel title.
While the writing may have been on the wall, it’s sad to see such a fun and spirited comic go away. As a longtime fan of New Warriors, this fourth attempt to revitalize the property was the most true to the fondly remembered original series by Fabian Nicieza, Mark Bagley and Darick Robertson. The bright and energetic art was fantastic, the dialogue was pitch-perfect, and yet … it just didn’t click with enough readers.
So what’s the problem?
Unfortunately, the creators had an uphill climb for a number of reasons. Some are unique to the New Warriors and others are shared by non-marquee properties at Marvel, DC and other publishers. In February, when this New Warriors series launched, I celebrated the B-list characters and their comics. Now six months later, we’re staring down the barrel of cancellation. These B-listers are a double-edged sword, so now it’s time to look at the edge of the sword that we don’t like (or however that metaphor works).
In less than a week, New Warriors #1 by Christopher Yost and Marcus To will be in my grubby little hands. While everyone else will still be basking in the glow of this week’s new Wolverine and Punisher series, I’ll be resurrecting my dormant Marvel zombie for some much-neglected superhero nostalgia.
Most of my comic book-loving friends cite Spider-Man or Superman as their favorite characters, and the ones they read religiously as kids; they’re undeniably iconic. However, the superheroes that resonated most with me were those off the beaten path; the obscure characters have always led to the more satisfying reading experiences, even if it often meant tolerating missteps and frustrating gaps in time.
Maybe it’s a matter of rooting for the underdog, but I think generally there are more opportunities for exciting and entertaining stories when your main cast isn’t the star of several feature films and a merchandising empire.
I first encountered the New Warriors in 1990, not long after their debut. I was new to the Marvel Universe, and only Firestar was somewhat familiar to me from her role on Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, but she didn’t act the same as she did in the cartoon. She didn’t even have the same pet: Where was Ms. Lion? (Actually, that’s fine, leave Ms. Lion out of it. In fact, never mention Ms. Lion again.) Instead, Firestar had a pet cat named Pum’kin, which suited me fine — I was always more of a cat person anyway.
Marvel’s big Fear Itself crossover event last year introduced readers to Odin’s brother, the Serpent, who along with the Red Skull’s daughter, Sin, used seven divine hammers to turn several Marvel heroes and villains into his agents on Earth. Spoiler’s alert: Marvel’s heroes win, but in the wake of the event came the question of what happened to all those hammers.
Cullen Bunn, Matt Fraction, Chris Yost, Mark Bagley and Paul Pelletier answered that question in the pages of The Fearless, a miniseries that saw Sin and her boyfriend, Crossbones, in an Amazing Race-style adventure to find all the hammers. They were pitted against Valkyrie, a character ripe not only for an Asgardian-laced race against the forces of evil and some character development of her own. Over the course of the series, we learned a lot about the Valkyrie’s history, saw guest stars galore and even got a tease for a potential new series. Now that the miniseries has wrapped up, I chatted with Bunn about the comic, the characters he used and what he did with them. My thanks to him for taking the time to answer my questions.
JK: If I’m not mistaken, this was your first major project for Marvel since going “exclusive” with them. You’d done other stories for them and even other Fear Itself tie-ins, but is it safe to say this probably put you on the main stage of the Marvel Universe in a way you hadn’t experienced yet? Did you feel any pressure going into it because of the scope and the fact that it came out of a big Marvel event?
Cullen: Yeah, this was a big, intimidating undertaking. The Fearless featured most of the major Marvel superheroes in one way or another, and it spanned numerous locales. Luckily, I was working with a very supportive team who made me feel pretty comfortable going into this. They put a lot of trust in me with the series, and I didn’t want to let anyone down. Every time I sent some crazy note or suggestion for plot points, I expected them to yank me off the title, but they were pretty receptive to the idea of exploding sharks, a new team of Valkyrie, and Wolverine gutting Crossbones (among other things).
Say the name “Scarlet Spider” to a longtime Marvel reader and you’re bound to get a range of reactions. But come the new year, Marvel is hoping all the reactions will be positive and numerous when the new Scarlet Spider series launches on January11. As recently confirmed in Marvel’s Point One one-shot, the new Scarlet Spider is none other than Kaine, the Peter Parker clone recently cured during the Spider Island event. Unlike many of Marvel’s series set in New York, Scarlet Spider will enjoy the unique cityscape of Houston, Texas — one of many factors that has me looking forward to reading it. Before the series gets started though, series artist Ryan Stegman stepped away from his drawing table to take part in this Q&A. In addition to this interview, CBR also is offering a preview of the first issue. After reading this (and enjoying the preview), be sure to check out the recent installment of Comic Book Resources’ “Axel-in-Charge,” where Alonso interviewed Stegman.
Tim O’Shea: How did Marvel approach you about joining the Scarlet Spider creative team? Was getting to work with [series writer] Chris Yost a deciding factor in joining the project?
Ryan Stegman: I had been working on an issue of Amazing Spider-Man and I made it clear as I could to editorial that this is the type of stuff I wanted to be doing. I practically begged. And Steve Wacker said that he would love to have me back and but that ASM was booked up artist-wise for the foreseeable future. I couldn’t argue this, because the artists that they have are fantastic. So one day, out of the blue he called me up and told me about this idea and I was sold. No offense to Chris, but that wasn’t a selling point because I think I was hired before him! Chris turned out to be the icing on the cake.
New York Comic Con picked up steam in its second day with announcements from Vertigo, Dark Horse, Marvel, IDW Publishing and Image, and the possibility of Sesame Street comics. Here are some of the highlights:
• Following in the footsteps of DC Comics: The New 52, most of Vertigo’s titles will be available digitally the same day as print.
• Geoff Johns announced that work is about to get under way on a Robot Chicken DC Comics special that will skewer the company’s superheroes in the same way that the show tackled Star Wars. The episode, written by Johns and MAD‘s Kevin Shinick, is set to air next summer.
• Confirming last-minute speculation, Ed Brubaker announced that he and frequent collaborator Sean Phillips (Sleeper, Criminal, Incognito) will release their next project through Image Comics. Called Fatale, the series blends noir elements with the supernatural world. “I’ve been wanting for a while to do something with a more supernatural element to it,” Brubaker told Comic Book Resources. “So Fatale mixes what we do and all the ways we’ve poked fun at the noir genre. If Incognito was us doing ‘What if Doc Savage, Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler had all existed in the same universe?’ then this is a weird combo of James M. Cain and Lovecraft. It’s got a real horror element to it — the first time I’ve really tried to do anything with horror — but it’s also got this really epic story to it.”
After months of teasers, Marvel broke their silence at the New York Comic Con and announced a Scarlet Spider ongoing series by writer Christopher Yost and artist Ryan Stegman that will kick off in January.
As for who is under the mask, well, that remains a mystery, but Yost has confirmed it is someone who has a connection to Spider-Man.
“After the events of Dan Slott’s amazing #spiderisland, Scarlet Spider’s entire life has been turned upside down,” Yost told MTV Geek. “ScarSpi (like ScarJo) has one motivation — get the hell out of New York. For reasons that are as yet unrevealed, ScarSpi is on the run, heading down Mexico way. But as the story progresses, those motivations will change because life gets in the way.”
The original Scarlet Spider was Ben Reilly, a clone of Peter Parker who first appeared as a part of the infamous Clone Saga back in the 1990s. Reilly assumed the identity for a brief time before taking over as Spider-Man from Peter Parker. Later a villain took the name. Reilly eventually died saving Peter Parker from the Green Goblin. More recently, three “Scarlet Spiders” appeared in Avengers: The Initiative, wearing the “Iron Spider” armor Tony Stark once gave to Peter Parker.
The cover of the August Previews catalog gives us an indication of how Marvel will follow up Fear Itself, and what we should expect to emerge from the publisher’s Sunday panel at Comic-Con International.
October will see the debut of The Fearless, “an event that shows readers what’s in store for their favorite characters in the wake of the Fear Itself event. Anyone that enjoyed Fear Itself should be interested in finding out how Captain America, the Avengers, and other characters from all across the Marvel Universe deal with the aftermath.”
Although further details haven’t been publicly released by Marvel or Diamond Comic Distributors, Newsarama reports that the twice-monthly series will be written by Matt Fracion, Cullen Bunn and Chris Yost, and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Paul Pelletier. The website also confirms the October launch of Incredible Hulk, by Jason Aaron and Marc Silvestri.
Stay tuned to Comic Book Resources for more information as details surface from Comic-Con.
To see what Jim and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click the link below.
Disney XD’s The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is the kind of show that connects with classic Avengers fans like myself, as well as children seeing the team for the first time. So I considered myself fortunate to catch up with the show’s story editor, Christopher Yost, to discuss the show recently. This Sunday, January 9 at 10 AM EST, in a new episode, The Man Who Stole Tomorrow, Kang the Conqueror, the undisputed ruler of Earth in the 40th Century, and the Avengers cross paths in the 21st century. In addition to discussing the show, Yost entertained a few questions about the four-issue The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes miniseries, which Marvel launched in November. Marvel has been kind enough to provide an episode guide, as well as video teasers at The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! hub page.
Tim O’Shea: On a most basic level, what all do you get to do as story editor for The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes show?
Christopher Yost: I’m in charge of the writing, from top to bottom. A few years ago now, Supervising Producer Josh Fine came to me with Marvel’s desire to do an Avengers animated series, and I put forward two concepts for the show, general frameworks for which the series exists in. We ended up using both, more or less.
Comedian Demetri Martin has this bit on digital cameras and how they allow us to reminisce instantly (“Look, we were so young then…”). And, while funny, it’s certainly true; things that are fresh in our minds can be shared with dozens of people the moment we experience it. You catch a glimpse of Mark Millar eating a ham samwich in Los Angeles? Take a snapshot with your camera phone and suddenly everyone on Facebook can know Mr. Millar’s deli tastes. On one hand, you lose the gloss of nostalgia, since we’re no longer looking back at the way things were when we were younger or through the haze of better times. On the other hand, you keep the enthusiasm of the moment; midnight movie showings with a full audience are great because of the shared experience.
Wolverine and the X-Men, brought to you by the fantastic folks at Marvel Animation, lasted 26 episodes. A single season, and they packed incredible amounts of story and canon and drama into their kids’ action cartoon. Sadly, due to financing issues, the show won’t see past its starkly astounding final episode. But! Thanks to the magic of DVD releases, we can now reminisce instantly and keep up that enthusiasm for what was a great, ground-breaking show.
Having seen all 26 episodes in a rabid sort of marathon this week, I can say with absolute certainty that Wolverine and the X-Men is the finest collection of Marvel’s mutant lore, current comic action and forward thinking tales that make up the best of what fans want.
By now most folks will have read Red Robin 4 (which was released on September 9), but if it’s still in your reading pile from this past week please make sure to read it before reading this interview with series writer Christopher Yost. (Consider that your official spoiler warning.) In addition to discussing the events of the issue, we delve into the plans ahead for the book and the life of Tim Wayne (formerly Drake), as well as the premiere of the new series artist Marcus To as of issue 6.
Tim O’Shea: Issue 4 is now out and had a fairly big reveal in the hunt for Bruce Wayne. This has been building up for four issues, did DC tell you exactly how they wanted the reveal to occur–or did they give you some creative levity to structure the reveal in your own way?
Christopher Yost: [Editor] Mike Marts and I had been talking about this from day one, and it was something that I wanted to do from the start. Tim’s incredibly smart, incredibly driven… if there’s evidence and clues out there, he’s going to find it. And as you saw, he did. We still haven’t revealed what put him on that road, of course… but I knew I wanted to tie Red Robin into the end of Grant’s Final Crisis super-early on.
But to answer the question, DC has given me nothing but freedom and creative levity. It’s pretty great.
So there I was in the spring of 1988, a college freshman buying snacks at the local convenience store, when I saw Amazing Spider-Man #300 sitting on the magazine shelf. I knew artist Todd McFarlane had helped make the book pretty popular, and I had fond memories of writer David Michelinie from his earlier work on Iron Man and Avengers. Accordingly, I stuck with ASM through the end of McFarlane’s run (in #325), and never gave much thought to Spidey’s two other regular titles. Spectacular Spider-Man and Web Of Spider-Man might have been great reads, but for whatever reason, I just wanted the “headliners,” Michelinie and McFarlane.
I suspect the same is true these days with the Batman line. Yesterday’s releases of Detective Comics #854 and Gotham City Sirens #1 close out the first month of the Big Batman Relaunch. The Grant Morrison-written Batman And Robin (drawn initially by Frank Quitely) has drawn the most attention, with much of the rest going to Detective‘s Batwoman lead (written by Greg Rucka, drawn by JH Williams III). Each of these high-profile creative teams has been charged with producing new-reader-friendly stories, and thereby building an enduring foundation of loyal consumers.