THE TOP 10 RECENT COMIC BOOK NEWS DEVELOPMENTS

Yes, I went to NY Comic Con. It was fun, sure, but I have to say: Not all that different from Baltimore Comic Con, which is both smaller and more manageable and with more (and better) cosplayers. NYCC outsold San Diego by over 20k people—and you could feel every body crushing into you. Way too crowded. I didn’t go to any panels (I was there for one day and just wanted to see and experience the floor), but lots of news came out of NYCC, and some of it is below. Here they are, ten thoughts, musings, and newsy things about comics….

1. IN 2015, EVERYTHING OLD AT MARVEL WILL BE NEW AGAIN. Marvel released a series of big event announcements for next year, and all of them sound familiar. The vague references to “Civil War” appear to be about Captain America 3—where we’ll see Cap versus Tony. There is no doubting its potential awesomeness. But there were also comic book teasers that retool some of Marvel’s most successful events. The hype ranges from looking stupid to very, very cool…

  • Stupid: Marvel Zombies: Age of Ultron. Robots take over the zombieverse. Nobody is looking for this, are they?  I’m curious, but …
  • Probably stupid: Planet Hulk. A poster shows what looks like Steve Rogers holding a Captain America sword and an axe jumping off Devil Dinosaur’s head into a pile of Hulks and She-Hulks. The original Planet Hulk was great. World War Hulk was pretty good. This looks..Weird. But I’m willing to give it a try.
  • Smack dab in the middle because there’s not enough information yet: Years of Future Past. The classic “Days of Future Past” was a three-issue arc (that’s it!) by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, at the peak of their powers. It was the first time we saw an alternate Marvel future, and it has inspired countless retools, reiterations, reboots, and even a few movie ideas. It’s not clear what this one will be.
  • This is the one that’s cool: Secret Wars. Marvel announced a 12-issue event beginning in Spring 2015 titled “Secret Wars.” They’ve promised it will be “huge,” involving both print and digital comic releases. And, of course, the Marvel Universe will “never be the same again.” The story ties into Jonathan Hickman’s “Time Runs Out” storyline in Avengers/New Avengers. The teaser image, by Alex Ross, features several Captain Americas, Ghost Rider 2099, mutants (including Wolverine, who will be “dead” by then), Avengers, Iron Men, etc.—and Bendis has confirmed that his X-Men time travel storylines will tie into it. In short, it looks like it will fix the fracturing we’ve seen in the Marvel universe over the past several years. If this is in fact the reboot everyone has been suspecting, Marvel is doing it right. DC rushed it and failed to take full advantage. If you’re going to destroy your universe, have fun with it. Like, destroy the Ultimate universe, kill Wolverine, make Iron Man evil, Thor a woman, and Captain America black.

2. SUICIDE SQUAD: THE MOVIE.

A film version of DC’s villains-turned-black ops team is in development. I wonder if James Gunn (the director of the Guardians of the Galaxy) saying repeatedly in interviews that he wants to do a Thunderbolts movie had anything to do with Warner Bros finally moving ahead with this long-gestating project? I just did a whole post on the state of the comic movieverse, so go read it here.

3. ESTROGEN AT MARVEL.

Marvel has announced a solo series for Gamora, the green-skinned woman of the Guardians of the Galaxy, to be written by screenwriter Nicole Perlman. That leaves only Groot and Drax without solo deals. They’re like the bass player and drummer for Bon Jovi. Marvel seems to be making great strides in featuring both female creators and female characters. Black Widow, She Hulk and Ms. Marvel are three of the best Marvel comics out right now, and Secret Avengers (which has become my favorite Avengers book) has a female-led, female-dominated team. Mmm. Femdom.

And speaking of women, Marvel announced a new series based on the Gwen Stacy Spider-Man introduced by Jason LaTour and Robbie Rodriguez in Edge of Spider-Verse #2. I’m not loving all the Spider-Verse tie-ins, but the Spider-Gwen one was far and away the best so far. Marvel also announced an ongoing series for Silk, the female version of Spider-Man who is currently running around with Peter in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man. I don’t know how Dan Slott can still be writing that book so well—he’s (ahem) amazing at it.

4. ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR. That’s not a joke. Archie and Dark Horse will team up for this comic.

5. CROSSED: DOA. Garth Ennis’ miniseries about a disease that turns people into homicidal sadomasochists has lead to multiple books and has basically becomes Avatar’s tentpole title. They’ve announced upcoming Crossed projects with luminaries like Alan Moore and Kieron Gillen, and now … A TV show. Kind of. “Crossed: DOA” will start out as a web comic and will then turn into a series of webisodes written and directed by Ennis. The first Crossed web comic, “Wish You Were Here,” went on for several years and, at times, was truly brilliant.

6. DARK HORSE NEWS FEATURING BRIAN WOOD. Dark Horse announced “Rebels,” a new book by Brian Wood and Andrew Mutti about the American Revolution. Think “Northlanders” (Wood’s terrific book about Vikings) but set in the 1700s. The first story will feature Ethan Allen’s militia group The Green Mountain Boys. Sadly, when one door opens another closes: Wood’s post-apocalypse book “The Massive” will end with issue #30. I’ve been loving that comic, but I know not many people other people are reading it.

Dark Horse also announced a sequel to Donny Cates’ miniseries, “Buzzkill,” about a recovering alcoholic who gets super powers when he drinks. It will be titled, “The Paybacks.” The story will focus on heroes who get their powers from technology that they can’t afford to pay for. Sounds good.

7. THE FANTASTIC FOUR’S DOOR CLOSES, BUT OTHER DOORS OPEN… The Fantastic Four is being cancelled—not rebooted. At least not any time soon. Marvel still denies that this is at all related to the fact that Fox owns the movie rights and appears to be planning to remove all traces of Lee and Kirby from their 2016 movie. But as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens:

  • ORIGINAL S.I.N. Peggy Carter gets her own TV show when SHIELD goes on hiatus, and these days that means she also get s comic. The good news is, it will be written by the highly underrated Kathryn Immonen and illustrated by Rich Ellis. Immonen wrote one the great unsung female-titled comics in Marvel history: Patsy Walker, Hellcat. She also had a decent run on Runaways and wrote a fabulous original graphic novel titled, “Moving Pictures” about the Nazi’s destruction of art during World War 2. So she’s comfortable with period pieces. This new book will also take place in the 1940s. It will be a prequel to the underwhelming Original Sin event, so we’ll learn about the guy who did Nick Fury’s cosmic assassination work before Fury came along.
  • HAWKEYE. Everyone with any sense at all is sad to see Matt Fraction leave Hawkeye’s solo title, but his replacement is interesting: Jeff “Sweet Tooth” Lemire. Lemire’s corporate writing hasn’t been anywhere near as good as his indie stuff, but I’m rooting for him here. Hawkeye is the kind of quirky title he seems well suited for. Lemire promises an intimate book along the lines of what he did in Essex County, and says it will focus on Clint Barton’s childhood and will split screen time between Hawkeye and Kate Bishop, the “other” Hawkeye, who is kind of like his adopted little sister.
  • ANT MAN. And in news that’s no surprise to anyone, given his upcoming movie deal, Scott Lang Ant-Man gets a solo book early next year, under the creative team of Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas.

8. COMICS ON TV: IT’S MARVEL VS. DC, AND MARVEL IS LOSING.

Despite the fact that Ming-Na Wen seems to get hotter with every episode, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD show is just not resonating with me. I’m still watching it because I can’t stop hoping it will do what it should be doing, and because I occasionally get rewarded (Absorbing Man was awesome), but the central narrative is lacking tension. I want to blame Coulson, because his character is so…drab…but I don’t think that’s fair. The show has too many dark, broody sequences that don’t have any real sense of danger. In fact, there’s really no danger at all in the show. It all feels kind of random, and when we do get to see something or someone interesting (like Deathlok or Patton Oswald’s character), the story quickly veers away and we hear nothing about it for several episodes. It’s baffling to me why this isn’t a better show.

But look at DC, knocking both The Flash and Gotham out of the park! I expected Flash to be good but silly, but it turns out it’s both fun and exciting, and I expected Gotham to be a total downer but it’s actually good as a standalone show—even if you ignore all the Bat-references.

Of course, there is one that rules them all: The Walking Dead.

9. CAPTAIN CARROT. Any of you reading Grant Morrison’s Multiversity? I’m really enjoying it, and not just because he brought back Captain Carrot. But in recognition of that revival, DC has issued a reprint of the old 1980s series: “Showcase Presents: Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!” It’s a little dated by today’s standards, but still holds up as a fun, all-ages comic.

10. PEOPLE REALLY LIKED GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. It’s now made over $700 million worldwide. It’s the only Marvel movie to do that that wasn’t either a sequel or The Avengers. It’s also the best popcorn movie of all time.

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