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!
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.
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?
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?
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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?
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.