In case you haven’t heard or read the article, Entertainment Weekly posted their annual Comic-Con Exclusive Edition online yesterday. As with most years, they are attempting to lead with what they think might be the most interesting and controversial for all of us geeks out there. Previous years have had the tendency to send fanboys in loud fits of anger (see 2010’s reveal of the Green Lantern costume image that sent Mr. Green on a 10 minute tirade). This year’s big pre-con announcement? Marvel Now. What’s Marvel Now? Well from the article they’ve supplied it is stressed that this is a Relaunch of some of the biggest Avengers and X-Men titles and not a Reboot.
In the 3 page story featuring quotes from Marvel E-I-C Axel Alonso and writers Jonathan Hickman and Brian Michael Bendis as well as a piece of artwork drawn by Joe Quesada, Marvel Now is revealed to be an in-continuity relaunch spanning 22 titles (both existing and brand new) to be slowly rolled out over 5 months. The idea is that in the aftermath of Avengers vs. X-Men there will be a major change in the landscape of the Marvel Universe. And with this change will come costume changes as well as some of the folks within those costumes. Alonso stresses that all of the current storylines have been building towards this. There won’t be changes to the extent of DC’s New 52. But there will be changes as the 3 titles already announced will suggest. Starting in October, we will not only be seeing Uncanny Avengers, a title written by Rick Remender with art by John Cassady that will boast a team made up of some of the bigger X-Men and Avengers working together, but also the main Avengers title, to be written by Jonathan Hickman, will go to a bi-weekly shipping schedule and have a cast of 18 plus Avengers in it. The third title annouced was All New X-Men written by Brian Bendis with Stuart Immomen providing the pencils. The idea behind this one is the 5 original X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Angel, and The Beast) travel forward in time from the past to the present day and are not impressed with the future before them. These ideas definitely sound different.
The question is what does it all mean for the Marvel U? What changes can we expect for existing titles? What books will survive? Which will get cancelled? Why the Hell is the Hulk wearing armour in that Joey Q pin-up? Needless to say, I share your confusion and a portion of your distaste. The fact of the matter is that the change is coming and all we can do is speculate on the outcome using the clues that have been presented to us thus far.
Let’s begin with the titles revealed at the moment. The one that stands out the most in my eyes is All New X-Men. Bendis has never really had a chance to write the X-Men characters within the 616 universe before so this could be an interesting ride. He could give a fresh spin to a team that has been around for almost 50 years. The big kicker is that he’s got the characters when they’re in their infacy, with none of the baggage of past/future continuity. This is technically a reboot of sorts. A soft reboot, yes but still a reboot. By having the team travel forward in time when they’re teenagers you’re able to bring Jean Grey back into the Marvel Universe without having to play the ressurection game. Also, just by the way things are shaping up in AvsX, it’s pretty obvious that Cyclops is going to take a dirtnap by the end of it, leaving the door open for a younger incarnation to step in. But does that mean that Iceman, Angel and Beast are all doomed as well? Judging from the state of the big blue furry one these days in the comics, death would probably be a step up for the guy. He’s kind of at the end of his rope anyways. But Iceman and Angel? Jason Aaron has been doing some great things with both of these characters lately and it would be a shame to just kill them off to make room for the younglings. But in contrast, should there be more than one Iceman or Angel? Thanks to the Age of Apocolypse, there’s technically already been more than one Beast hanging around and that didn’t do much damage. But Bendis has stated that he “cares about the space-time continuum”, so I don’t think he would abide multiples of certain characters running about. Best guess is that the old-school team in the blue and yellow will become the only incarnations of those X-Men come October. (But then why is Cyclops sporting an x-visor in the picture? That looks pretty modern to me.)
The other two titles mentioned are gearing up to be flagship titles for the Avengers. Uncanny Avengers might even be considered the flagship book for the entire Marvel line. It’s sounds like they’re taking another crack at creating their own version of the Justice League as Captain America, Thor and Wolverine have all been confirmed as members. I’m guessing the Wall Crawler with the new movie out will also find himself among their ranks. But what’s interesting is that Rogue and Havok have been mentioned as well. Does this mean that they will not be in any of the X-Books going forward? And how many of the 14 titles that deal with X-matters will make it past February? The book has Avengers in the title, so will this be the premiere super team of the 616? Where does that leave Avengers? It’s coming out twice a month and will have a roster large enough for a major league ball team but who exactly will be in the book? Hickman’s only revealed one member: Shang-Chi (the Master of Kung Fu). If this is an example of the type of heroes that are set to be on this team, then I believe that they’re going for a street level element here. I expect this to be the team headed up by Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Could be wrong but I think the smart money would definitely agree. New Avengers 2.0 if you will. Well, I guess 3.0 if you’re keeping score at home.
But let’s talk about the elephant in the room, shall we. The main show piece of the EW article was the piece of artwork drawn by Marvel Bigwig Joe Quesada. I reposted it at the bottom of this page. Go take a look if you haven’t checked it out yet. It showcases 13 of Marvel’s “finest” and is the debut image for Marvel Now. I will skip the obvious for now and start with what irks me. So we’re really going through with the “Nick Fury Jr.” thing, eh? Why? That’s the Fury of the Ultimate Universe. We didn’t really need the exact same character here. Are they really done with the old Nick? And what’s up with Cyclop’s face? And Iron Man’s not Red? Apparently if you’re the number 1 and number 2 franchises of the company you don’t get a costume re-design as Spider-Man and Wolverine look unscathed by the re-design madness. And I’m guessing that Rocket Racoon’s placement on this page is a representation for the entire Guardians of the Galaxy because I don’t care how much drugs you’ve taken, a Rocket Racoon solo book is not a good idea. Well, I avoided talking about it long enough. WHY IS THE HULK WEARING ARMOUR? Is he dying? Is he sick? Why does he need armour? I think the smart move would be for him to break all that shit off his body in the first issue and never speak of it again because it just looks stupid.
So what will the future hold for the Marvel Universe? Will Marvel Now be a cool relaunch or the worst thing since Spider-Man: Chapter One? We only need to wait until October to see. And with Comic-Con just around the corner, I’m sure there will be more clues to piece together a strong hypothesis. Time will tell.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!