WALT SIMONSON TAKES ON THE AVENGERS…And other news.

As artist only, the writer/artist who created Frog Thor and Beta Ray Bill will be the new regular artist for the Brian Michael Bendis written Avengers book, beginning with issue #25. Of course, with Bendis promising to leave The Avengers this year, could it be Walt is prepping for a larger role? One can only hope, as Simonson’s imagination has led to some brilliant work in the past, such as:

· The afore-mentioned creation of Beta Ray Bill and Frog Thor, and a long run on Thor that split Don Blake and Thor for the first time, brought Ragnarok, and introduced Asgardian warriors to the wonders of automatic weapons.

· With his wife, an X-Factor run that introduced Cable and Mr. Sinister.

· The artwork on X-Men/Teen Titans, the greatest Marvel-DC crossover ever.

· A tremendous run on The Fantastic Four that replaced the foursome with Ghost Rider, Hulk, Spidey and Wolverine.

· Award winning issues of Detective Comics, during the 1974 event “The Manhunter Saga.”

For more on the world of comics, including the rundown on new and cancelled DC titles, hit the break….

MARVEL COUNTERPROGRAMS AGAINST CARTOON NATION’S D.C. NATION BLOCK. CN announced last year that they’d premier a block of Young Justice, a new CGI Batman cartoon, and several animated shorts, among other things, in 2012. Not to be outdone, Disney XD promises that on April 1 the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon will debut, alongside new episodes of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and some shorts.

THE CRIMINAL MOVIE. Ed Brubaker is adapting he and Sean Phillips first chapter in the “Criminal” series, titled “Coward,” for the big screen.

JUSTICE LEAGUE TO BECOME CURRENT. Five years will pass between issues #6 and 7, so that the book can “catch up” to the DCU. Lots of people say this book isn’t tight enough, the characters and relationships aren’t cohering, etc. etc., but I really dig it. It’s probably the DC book I most look forward to reading every month, other than Batman.

HOLDING THE LINE AT $2.99 WAS THE OLD DCU. You’ve probably heard by now: Batman and Detective will raise their prices to $3.99. The good news: More pages (from 32 to 40). The bad news: They’ll be back up features and “editorial content,” so who cares?

BEARMAGEDDON. From the maker of Axe Cop who was not aged 7, Eisner-Award nominee Ethan Nicolle’s next project will be a webcomic in which the bears rise up to kill us all. I don’t know if it was inspired by Stephen Colbert, but I’m sure he’ll be terrified by it. Axe Cop was actually pretty funny—and all ages appropriate.  More here.

GREEN ARROW. Is getting a TV show. Live action. But it won’t the Green Arrow from Smallville. Which is pretty much a good thing, since all he seemed to be able to do was brood and get taken hostage. Other live action DC shows being developed, all of which were announced last year, include shows based on Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, The Spectre(?!), Deadman, and Wonder Woman—although it looks like that last one is pretty much dead.

MILLARWORLD. Lots of news announced this week from Mark Millar, including: A space opera (“Jupiter’s Children”) written by Millar and illustrated by Frank “All Star Superman” Quitely; more details about the already-ready for the big screen comic project “The Secret Service” to be illustrated by Dave Gibbons; and spin-offs/continuations of “Nemesis” and “Kick-Ass” (namely, a new “Hit-Girl” series)

WILL GRANT MORRISON FINALLY KICK IT INTO HIGH GEAR? DC promises that the first 6 issues of Action Comics are laying the groundwork for the “real” stories to come in 2012, including a cross-over with the other Supers (boy and girl). Let’s hope so—‘cause I’m on the verge of bailing.

AVENGING SPIDER-MAN/PUNISHER/DAREDEVIL CROSSOVER. The three titles will intersect on a storyline, with each issue to be handled by that comic’s creative team. I have to say, I was really looking forward to Greg “Gotham Central” Rucka taking over Punisher, but the comic has been…Extremely underwhelming. But I guess this means that, because Mark Waid’s Daredevil is probably the best monthly series on the racks right now, I’ll have to buy the tie-in issues. Sigh. More merry mighty Marvel marketing. The story will be called “The Omega Effect,” and will involve Daredevil’s recent acquisition of evidence against the Marvel Universe’s “5 families” (Hydra, AIM, Black Spectre, Secret Empire and Hidden Team). And hey, whenever DD and Punisher get together it’s a pretty rockin’ time. So if you’re like me and you plan to buy into the whole arc, you need to buy Avenging Spider-Man #6, Daredevil #11 and Punisher #10.

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