Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Sorry for the absence, but I’ve been doing a lot of traveling, in and out of the country this month, which has taught me a valuable lesson: the English language makes no sense.
English is complicated, difficult to learn for non-native speakers (and heck, even some native speakers!); it’s a mishmash of other languages just kind of thrown in a blender with a hope for the best. It’s amazing it’s gotten us so far, but it’s also easy to see why communication gets so tangled up between people when the words we use can be so imperfect.
Take, for example, that English doesn’t have a standard plural for “you.” In the United States, we have regional forms of a plural “you,” but there’s not a standard one taught that I know of. That makes direct speech all sound personal, when the speaker might be generalizing more to a group rather than than the person sitting down to read this right now (hi, Mom). I can say something like “You read comics” and, for the most part, be correct; if you’re visiting this site, you probably read comics in one form or another. But if I say “You also watch Game of Thrones,” that’s a lot more hit-and-miss.
Well, here we go. Three years in the making, two of Marvel’s most prestigious titles dedicated entirely to its development, a complex mythology created practically out of whole cloth by Jonathan Hickman involving a cast of thousands, all pursuing the end of everything.
I’m tired just typing about it; I can’t imagine the dedication and passion it took to actually produce it month after month. But here we are, at the result of all that hard work and creativity: Secret Wars. “Everything dies” has to be one of the most depressing taglines ever for a comic book story, but this is it. Everything is dying, and there’s nothing that’s going to stop it.
That’s not true. We all know that there’s going to be a Battleworld after this, and then Free Comic Book Day gave us a teaser for the All-New Avengers debuting in the wake of the immense summer event, so we know that not “everything’ dies,” just the world as we know it. Will we feel fine?
I haven’t done one of these in a while, because if you look too long into the solicitations, they start to stare back.
With all the access we have to spoilers, reviews, previews and other online chatter, it can be difficult to enjoy what’s in front of you when you’re already thinking about what’s to come three months from now, let alone when the next event is going to hit. But that next event is coming, along with a enormous overhaul of the Marvel line, so let’s hop in the time machine of this year’s June solicitations and try to find a road map for the end of the world.
First off, 33 series will reach their “616 finales” as a result of Secret Wars, with some returning in one form or another. The list is extensive, with some titles cleared away for redundancy after two Marvel NOW launches, probably a few canceled for poor sales (I’m looking at you, Avengers World), and then you see this: The Amazing Spider-Man. But let’s think of this another way, as in the long, long ago of the 1990s, Marvel canceled every one of its bestselling X-Men titles. The whole line was scrapped … and retitled under “Age of Apocalypse.” Yeah, there was no Uncanny X-Men or Adjectiveless X-Men anywhere, but we did have Amazing X-Men and Astonishing X-Men, so it was a name and a theme change for the larger event. So while the announcement might sound the air-raid sirens that something super-drastic has happened, it probably hasn’t. Post-Secret Wars, we’ll probably have a new Spider-Man book with a new #1 on the cover (ugh) and a new creative direction.
One of the neat things about this upcoming Secret Wars mega-super-hyper-combo event is that a lot of cool projects are coming out of the woodwork — not just to support the unfolding crash of realities, but to sneak in some books that make entirely too much sense. While Battleworld rages on, it would be ridiculous not to have a cadre of teen heroes roaming the field and making their way in the mighty Marvel manner. Since the Secret Wars themselves are happening to create a universal order on a massive scale and enforcing a set universe out of countless others, it makes sense that someone (or someones) are going to want to rebel against that universal order. Thus, the Runaways.
Smashing a guitar on stage is cool, or at least was cool when Pete Townshend of the Who popularized the act in the mid-1960s. The Who breaking their instruments in one form or another was the No. 1 spot on VH1’s 100 Greatest Rock & Roll Moments on TV and among the Top 50 of Rolling Stone‘s “50 Moments That Changed Rock and Roll.”
But what does it really mean? Townshend admitted it started as an accident that then became sort of performance art. When you think of a band smashing their instruments these days, it seems like this big rebellious expression. It’s a statement that only lasts up to a certain point. Bands that are just starting out can’t really afford to break their stuff; it’s all they have. Big-name bands, however, can go hog wild and break everything, knowing full well that their manager or their label is going to produce new instruments at the end of the show.
Knowing that, the act loses meaning and seems wasteful. Matthew Bellamy of Muse holds the Guinness World Record at breaking the most guitars in one tour, with 140, and that just sounds expensive and cruel.
That said, I’m not sure whether Brian Michael Bendis is Pete Townshend or Matthew Bellamy.
WARNING: There’ some mention of this week’s issue of Uncanny X-Men, so grab your copies of Issue 30 and read along!
Was anyone else expecting something bigger? When Tuesday came around and the big announcement from Marvel was finally revealed, we all learned that … well, Secret Wars is going to happen and the multiverse is going to do battle on a Battleworld to see what reality makes it out alive. When I type that out, it sounds crazy-exciting, but when it’s revealed as this big surprise, it falls a little flat.
We’ve been prepping for this series of events since Marvel NOW!, when Jonathan Hickman took over the Avengers books and put us on a very wordy adventure toward universes colliding into one another. Longtime readers sort of just assumed that was the direction they were going to go, whether through reading the books with a keen eye — Oh, hey! That’s why they called Hickman’s run “Avengers World”! I just got that! — or other announcements made before Tuesday.
I’m certainly not trying to say it wasn’t a big announcement; multiversal collision and universe dominance is kind of the biggest concept you can get until you start pitting multiverses against multiverses, and that won’t happen, no matter how much we might want to see Daredevils fight Batmen. It’s just that the announcement isn’t a surprise. It makes too much sense, what with all the radical continuity changes of late. The Ultimate Universe has gotten pretty far off course, and it deserves to go live on a farm somewhere and be happy. There are already multiversal characters appearing throughout the Marvel Universe, so the idea that we might wrap all of this up on a Battleworld is a cool direction to be heading in.
But this is just the facts of the announcement. We haven’t even gotten into the angry ranting and the wild conjecture! Join me, won’t you?
Following Marvel’s Secret Wars press conference on Tuesday, fans were left to speculate what a combined Marvel Universe and Ultimate Universe might look like. We already have some pretty intriguing ideas, courtesy of an enterprising cartoonist named Calvin.
Getting the jump on the official announcement, he’s reimagined the Marvel Universe in a series of of illustrations called Supreme Marvel. Described as his “own little reboot” of Marvel, Calvin comes to this with a mission in mind: “One of the main driving points of this project was to introduce more diversity in the Marvel Universe, as well as highlight existing diverse characters!”
Writer Brian Michael Bendis appeared last night on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers, where he talked about Marvel’s big Secret Wars announcement, how he stumbled into a job at a comic store, and consulting with Sony Pictures on The Amazing Spider-Man.
But first and foremost, he was there to promote the upcoming premiere ofPowers , the long-developing adaptation of the comic he created with Michael Avon Oeming (note how Bendis politely corrects Meyers, ensuring his collaborator receives proper credit).
(Time once again for ROBOT 6 contributors Tom Bondurant and Carla Hoffman to email each other about the year in DC and Marvel superhero comics. This year’s exchange took place between Dec. 26 and Dec. 30.)
Tom Bondurant: First let’s address the elephant in the room — or, more accurately, the infinite number of parallel rooms, each containing a slightly different elephant. In 2015, both Marvel and DC are building Big Events around their respective multiverses. Conventional wisdom predicts that DC is doing this to address fan criticisms of the New 52, perhaps resulting in some continuity tweaks.
Carla Hoffman: Oh, man, I hope that’s true! Honestly, I have a hard time judging the inner workings of our respective companies sometimes because I always hear more from the fan side than the production team. Enough customers come in, day in and day out, with a piece of their mind on how things should be run or changed, but rarely do the people in charge — not creators and editors, mind you, the people who sign the checks at the end of the day with real power — come forward to say, “We feel this is the right direction.” Tom Brevoort on Tumblr comes close with his tireless open forum, but even then there’s always going to be company policy. If DC is brave enough to go “Maybe we shouldn’t have thrown the entire baby out with the bathwater” and massage their continuity into a more pleasing shape for fans, that’s going to be a heck of thing that will have an effect on readership, for sure.
I’ve been wanting to talk about the Avengers/X-Men crossover Axis for awhile now. It has a great hook, as the morality of heroes and villains has turned on an “axis”, and are now flipped for certain characters. Rick Remender has that old-school bombast to his writing that makes this kind of outrageous concept possible; it’s so far outside the idea of “realistic” storytelling that it becomes more believable. If you’re going to have a Nazi steal a telepath’s brain to create the ultimate evil across the globe, why not go all the way and explore some character traits? It’s fun, and I can’t wait to see how it resolves.
In fact, my only real problem with the event involves what else is going on around it. It has some major continuity issues outside its little bubble that make it difficult for voracious Marvel readers like myself to place it in context with the rest of the series. I know Superior Iron Man is directly related to Axis, but will All-New Captain America be as well? I’m not really sure introducing the world to an angry, possibly morally flipped Falcon as the new Cap is a great idea. Hopefully, his solo book will remain unfazed by this big problem occurring to his left.
It’s easy to compartmentalize with team books and solo books, but what if you’re Storm? In Axis, she’s been morally compromised and is standing next to one of the X-Men’s greatest enemies (read Avengers & X-Men: Axis #4 to find out who), but in X-Men, she’s possibly dead, and in her own title, she’s still alive and mourning the loss of Wolverine. Doctor Doom, a big player in Axis, is possibly morally flipped, but he just announced plans to take over the multiverse in Fantastic Four and possibly has already done so in New Avengers. I could even be wrong about his current whereabouts and motives, because keeping track of all this is starting to get complicated!
Legal | Former Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has filed a criminal complaint against cartoonist Musa Kart over a cartoon caricaturing Erdoğan’s attempts to cover up a graft investigation. The prosecutor initially decided that there were no grounds for legal action, but Erdoğan took his case to the Bakırköy 14th High Criminal Court, which ruled that the cartoon exceeded the bounds of normal criticism and allowed the indictment to proceed. Kart could face nearly 10 years in prison if convicted and given the maximum sentence.
Meanwhile, prosecutors have dropped charges against all 209 of the people suspected in participating in the actual corruption Erdoğan is accused of covering up; those charges would have included “the transfer of lands with a value of billions of dollars at very low prices, the seizure of mines from businessmen by force, tender-rigging, illegally giving state tenders worth billions of dollars to businessmen, changing the status of protected areas through bribery, opening these [areas] for construction and making large profits off of them.” [Today’s Zaman]
When Marvel’s new Secret Wars series hits next year, one of the biggest secrets may be who exactly is in this comic.
Since the publisher released a high-res version of Alex Ross’ promotional painting for the Jonathan Hickman/Esad Ribic event this morning, fans have been spotting a number of left-field additions to the fray – some which barely qualify as Z-listers.
In addition to modern Marvel mainstays like the new female Thor, Sam Wilson as Captain America and the Ultimate Universe’s Miles Morales, the image also includes a variety of alternate-universe combatants, including:
To see what Ed and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.
Conventions | Although final figures aren’t yet available, WonderCon organizers confirm attendance likely surpassed the 39,000 fans who came to last year’s convention. [Publishers Weekly]
Publishing | On his always-interesting new blog, Jim Shooter reminisces about the genesis of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars: “We went through a number of ideas for names for the toy line and series. Mattel’s focus group tests indicated that kids reacted positively to the words ‘wars’ and ‘secret.’ Okay.” [Jim Shooter]
Publishing | Longtime print broker Chikara Entertainment, which also offered book packaging and consulting services, has closed. [ICv2.com]
Retailing | Sarah Cohen provides a snapshot of South Florida comic stores struggling amid a weak economy and a changing marketplace. Some retailers have changed their strategies by diversifying their merchandise, holding events and reaching out to customers via the Internet. Others, however, prefer to do business the way they always have. “Making events and using social networking is pushy,” says Jorge Perez, owner of A&M Comics and Books in Miami. “It might help business, but then you would be on the computer all day doing stuff like that.” A&M, the oldest comic store in Florida one of the oldest in the nation, has seen business drop by about 40 percent since 2008. [Miami Herald]
Secret Wars, the 1984-1985 limited series that launched a toy line, introduced Spider-Man’s black costume and marked the beginning of the crossover era, looms large in Marvel history. The 12-issue comic spawned an immediate sequel, and has been revisited or referenced more recently in Beyond!, New Avengers: The Illuminati and Spider-Man and the Secret Wars.
But now, more than 25 years after the conclusion of Secret Wars, is Marvel planning a return to the Beyonder’s Battleworld — in a video game? It certainly looks that way: Siliconera discovers that, just last week , Marvel filed a trademark for “Secret Wars” that covers everything from software and video-game cartridges to bicycle helmets and sunglasses.
The website points out the registration could be for the third installment of Activision’s Marvel: Ultimate Alliance; the second game, released last year, closely followed the events of the 2006-2007 crossover Civil War. There’s little preventing a sequel from mimicking a decades-old Marvel miniseries (Destructoid certainly hopes it isn’t for another Ultimate Alliance, saying “that cash-cow has been milked rotten at this point”).
However, it’s perhaps just as likely that, following Disney’s $4-billion purchase of Marvel last year, any plumbing of the publisher’s back catalog would be done by Disney Interactive Studios for its own games. “We are evaluating the entire Marvel library,” Disney Interactive’s Mark Orgel said last spring. “Not just the characters that everybody knows and loves from the motion pictures today, but the little-known characters.”
So, sure, why not the 25-year-old Secret Wars? Although conceived by then-Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter to help introduce a line of Mattel action figures, the series’ concept translates easily to role-playing video games: A cosmic entity known as the Beyonder teleports numerous superheroes and supervillains to a world stocked with alien weaponry and technology, then pits them against each other, with the winners promised anything they desire.