Jul
12

What’s Going On With Marvel NOW!? Nine Thoughts About October 2012′s solicitations

Posted by Chris Eckert on Thursday, July 12th, 2012 at 06:55:40 AM

Marvel released their October 2012 solicitations earlier this week, with numerous mysterious gaps that will presumably be filled in this weekend at the San Diego Comic-Con. In the meanwhile, here are nine things about the information they did release that I apparently found interesting enough to blog about! These mostly boil down to complaints, but I tried to keep it balanced, and I am interested in reading at least half of the books I discuss. Expect a longer post about double-shipping titles after all the SDCC hoopla dies down. But for now, check out these Covers ‘N’ Comments!

UncannyAvengers 1 Cover

Uncanny Avengers #1: I’m not about to speculate on what will shake out of the Avengers vs. X-Men mega-event, nor am I going to crack wise about putting John Cassaday on a flagship monthly book — his track record shows that he’s one of the more prolific artists to get tagged with the “slow” label — but I do want to comment on one of the eight variant covers announced for the book: the “Deadpool Call Me Maybe” variant by “TBA”. I’m not the target market for variant covers or for Internet Meme Jokes, but I find it amusing that this is clearly a joke someone at Marvel came up with too close to deadline to actually commission the cover before soliciting it.

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Avengers Assemble #8: “The explosive fallout of the storyline will change one of the Avengers’ lives forever as a brand-new Marvel initiative spins out of this bombastic series.” Expect Bleeding Cool or another site to speculate wildly on the wording of this solicitation. The “brand-new Marvel initiative” is pretty clearly Marvel NOW!, not an in-universe Initiative like the one that spun out of Civil War. Given that Avengers Assemble has focused on Thanos trying to collect items of cosmic power — including the reality warping Cosmic Cube in his hand on this issue’s cover — and it’s not hard to imagine that there will be some sort of ill-defined “Flashpoint” style Magic Retcon Hammer wielded in the midst of Marvel’s Not-a-Reboot. But what would they even use it for? They’ve already got their Black Nick Fury, they’ve never been shy about subtley de-aging characters and updating their origins, and it doesn’t seem like they’re reversing anything coming out of Avengers vs. X-Men. Could this be how the Kid X-Men arrive in the present? Will this open the door for an Avengers reprint series where everyone has their movie costumes drawn over Jack Kirby art? Will they finally be bringing back all those beloved dead Avengers like Doctor Druid, Yellowjacket II, Swordsman, and Marella the Inhuman Nanny?

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Hawkeye #3: “What is the Vagabond Code?” I hope it’s like the Hobo Code! I’m not even kidding, I’ve expressed my wish that Matt Fraction would play up Hawkeye’s hard-traveling carny background in this solo series, and what better way to do so than have him introduce Kate Bishop to the secret world of supertramps?

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Avenging Spider-Man #13 and Annual: It’s amazing how quickly this series went from “Zeb Wells and Rotating Artists Revamp Marvel Team-Up” to “The Latest Name For Where We Dump Inventory Stories”. It took five issues. When those stories are as charming as the Immonen’s She-Hulk story or this week’s Kelly Sue Deconnick/Dodsons Captain Marvel stealth-pilot, the sting is lessened, but it’s still a shame. I’m not familiar with any of the creators involved with either of October’s entries, but “guy from Robot Chicken does a story with Deadpool and the Hypno-Hustler” doesn’t give me a lot of hope. Aaron Kuder’s portfolio looks nice , though.

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Amazing Spider-Man #695-6: I’ve already been a jerk about Dan Slott’s most recent Big Spider-Man Event, but this is starting to get ridiculous. It’s only been a year since “THE SPIDER-MAN EVENT OF THE DECADE” began, where Spider-Man was all that stood against the death of millions of New Yorkers. They just wrapped on Ends of the Earth, the “SPIDER-MAN EVENT OF THE YEAR” where Spider-Man was all that stood against the death of billions worldwide. And now, “dark times are coming for Peter Parker and change is closer than you even fear.” So we’ve got another big Spider-Man event coming up, one where he’ll have to… save the universe? Prevent the entire space-time continuum from being murdered? I know it’s just ad copy, but you’d think that someone would realize that the best-remembered Spider-Man stories are generally pretty low-stakes. It’s a weird thing to say “someone gets killed or nearly gets killed” is low-stakes, but the story is called “The Night Gwen Stacy Died”, not “The Night That Maybe Every Single Human Being Will Die in Flames”.

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Captain America and… #638: Here’s another book I don’t really understand why it exists. It’s basically Captain America Team-Up, and that’s cool I guess. It has to be confusing for anal retentive collectors since it changes titles every couple of issues. I haven’t actually been paying attention to this book, though Francesco Francavilla is pretty great (check out his Breaking Bad mini-posters, and stay tuned for some sort of announcement from him about a Dark Horse project this weekend) and I wonder if the tentacle-y alien thingies on this issue’s cover have anything to do with the Alien Invasion Vision of the Future from Captain America Reborn that Ed Brubaker has stated he won’t have time to resolve. Brubaker has stated that he went over a bunch of plotpoints to wrap up with Cap &… writer Cullen Bunn.

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Captain Marvel #5 & 6: I’m working on a bigger thing about Marvel’s doubleshipping policies, but this is one of a dozen books solicited to doubleship in October (not counting mini-series, events, and Amazing Spider-Man which was always designed to be twice-monthly). It’s one thing to doubleship a “big” book like Avengers or X-Men, or even to doubleship a less prominent established book like Hulk or Thunderbolts. But a Carol Danvers book by a talented but not exactly sales-juggernaut creative team getting doubleshipped so early in its launch seems like a recipe for a book that will get underordered and underbought and quickly canned. I know there are all sorts of ways that smart comic shop owners can adjust their orders these days, but Marvel is soliciting the sixth issue of this series before the first issue even arrives in stores. I will be delighted to be proven wrong, but we’re talking about a book with a new-to-most-readers creative team, spun out of [the ninth best-selling book tied into] Avengers vs. X-Men, built up by an appearance in [the fifth best selling book featuring] Spider-Man, and also featuring a primarily female creative team and cast.

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Wolverine & the X-Men #18-19: “The second year of the most talked-about new X-Book starts here!” I’m happy to hear this book isn’t going anywhere for the moment during Marvel’s shake-up, but come on. The second year of the book kicks off in the eighteenth issue?

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Wolverine #314: “How is Wolverine connected to the secret society known as the Covenant?” I haven’t seen much discussion about it, but Wolverine #308 contained one of the most dispiriting, regressive superhero comics plotpoints in recent memory. After spending several issues getting brainwashed and having parts of his brain literally ripped out through his nostrils, Wolverine discovers his mind is still full of Weapon X triggers, implanted memories and long stretches of amnesia. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I believe that Wolverine was super-popular in the 1980s despite all of the stupid Implanted Memory/Brainwashing/Amnesia nonsense. Ever since Wolverine got all his memories back in House of M, various writers have tried to come up with new ways of bringing back dark secrets from Wolverine’s past, but I guess Marvel has thrown up their hands, and are back to the old style.

Posted in Blurbs · Read more by Chris Eckert

7 Responses

  1. Haha, Wolverine “getting all of his memories back” seems to have entailed “getting absolutely zero memories back, he sort of knows his name is James now, maybe?” How soon after House of M was Jeph Loeb’s Evolution thing? I’m pretty sure the contrivance there was “if you got a lifetime’s worth of memories back in an instant, how would you know what was real and what was a dream, or a hallucination, or implanted?” You’d REMEMBER is how, you incompetent prune-faced twit.

  2. Chris,
    Just to double check. So… You’d like a Spider-Man book where NOTHING happens? ;-)

    We’ve done 2 years of the Big Time run. Last year’s “event” (6 part story w/ a prologue and epilogue. a.k.a. “What almost every OTHER title does in the course of 6 issues) had Spidey save Manhattan. This year’s 6 part story (w/ no prologue and a small epilogue this time) had him saving the world.

    But you DO realize he’s a super hero? And saving the city OR the world is something a super hero SHOULD do, right?

    When THOSE stories weren’t going on, there were dozens of one-part and two-part stories in between– where Spidey would have to fight the Vulture & his teen runaway henchmen– or join Johnny Storm on a rescue mission to a space station– or fight with Morbius the Living Vampire.

    I think we’re allowed TWO big stake stories for our once-a-year 6 parters. That’s fair, isn’t it?

    And these “dark times” that are coming (as the solicit CLEARLY states) are for PETER PARKER. So, no, Spidey isn’t going to have to save the “space time continuum.” Geez. :-P

  3. James: I think Marvel actually did a pretty good job of handling a Wolverine that remembers things. It wasn’t really my cup of tea, but Daniel Way’s Wolverine: Origins was definitely a book that could not have existed prior to the “remembering everything”. There have been revelations about his past since then (like him having children) that are “dark secrets from his past” but only in the traditional melodrama way, not a crazy “your crazy mysterious past has made you forget your seven seasons in the NHL and the fact that you assassinated Bobby Orr and replaced him with Mystique” way.

    I can’t really speak to the Jeph Loeb dog-people stuff, which is pretty silly under any circumstances, but it was about two years after House of M, give or take.

  4. Dan:

    Obviously I don’t want a comic where Spider-Man does nothing. It’s a matter of scale, and it’s probably something we’re not going to agree on.

    As I said in my flippant remarks, I think a character like Spider-Man works when things are “pretty low-stakes”. That doesn’t mean completely lacking drama, but it means more down to earth, character-driven stories, not Cast of Thousands Worlds-Spanning Beat-Em-Ups. I’d feel the same way if Thor started doing nothing but stories about stopping industrial espionage, or if Superman spent a year just walking around handing suburban domestic dist– oh.

    I understand that this is a difference of philosophy, and what I’m saying pretty much means I was not ‘on board’ conceptually for Big Time from square one. I also realize that my platonic ideal of Spider-Man is pretty well gone and there’s nothing you as a writer could do to put “the genie back in the bottle” so to speak even if you wanted to, since you’d be writing about a dude who is on the Fantastic Four and two Avengers teams, off fighting cosmic threats on other planets and dimensions.

    Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree thinking that all of the stuff being teased about Alpha and ASM 700 will result in another Big Event in the same sense as Spider Island/Ends of the Earth. And being twice-monthly makes everything in your book (relative to real life) seem to go by faster. There were nine issues in between the end of Spider-Island and the start of Ends of the Earth, which under normal circumstances would’ve been most of a year. In ASM’s case, it was about four months. Now we’re getting the build up for issue 700 (and mysterious big things) four months after Ends of the Earth. There are stories in between, and some of them have been very cool, but it feels like everything gets swept along in favor of the BIG EVENTS.

    One of my favorite things about Brand New Day — including your significant contributions to it — was that it was the first time in years that Peter Parker felt like someone who had a social life and work life and an actual person who does something besides sneak off and do Spider-Man stuff. It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition, and it hasn’t been on your solo Big Time run either, but the focus on, well, “Big Time” action stuff pushes some of the soap opera-y tangled web of characters to the background.

    And it’s not fair just to pick on you, either. I feel the same way about Batman, and have grown weary of the “only once a year, give or take” epic storylines where he has to take on a mammoth secret society that will change everything you ever knew about Batman and Gotham City and the concept of a healthy breakfast. Looking over the New 52 at DC, it was hard to find more than a handful of those 52 books that did not introduce an genocide-level threat in their first couple of issues, regardless of if the character is Cosmic Powered or, well, Mister Terrific.

    This is how I feel as a reader, and given the critical and sales success of Big Time and a host of other “big time” epics featuring street level superheroes, I’m clearly in the minority. Thank you for commenting though, and correcting my misinterpretation of the solicitation text.

    I look forward to finding out how *Peter Parker* (not Spider-Man) will keep the space-time continuum from being murdered. :)

  5. Well, if anyone does want to see a comic where Spider-Man does nothing, they can find it in the daily newspaper comic strip.

  6. [...] I mentioned last week, I’ve been doing some research about Marvel’s recent headlong dive into doubleshipping [...]

  7. “Just to double check. So… You’d like a Spider-Man book where NOTHING happens? ;-)”

    Oh come on Dan, that’s NOT what he meant. You’re better than that.

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