MARVEL’S MERGED UNIVERSE, LOTS OF NEWS ABOUT DUCKS, AND MORE! Your semi-regular update on the comic book world…

Let’s start with the changing Marvel Universe.  Everything ends in April.  No more Earth 616.  No more Ultimate Universe.  Just one big party.  And it’s legit.

Or so they keep insisting in press releases and interviews.  You know, Marvel and DC are basically redesigning their universes at the same time in what appear to be very similar ways—by uniting versions of characters from half-a-century’s worth of intellectual property, thus cashing in on the “new” fans from movies and TV shows, maybe grabbing some nostalgic moms and dads who haven’t read comics in years, and celebrating old fucks like myself who have been here forever.  Why is Marvel doing such a better job at it than DC?  (That’s rhetorical: DC has always been more traditional, and it’s hard to be steady and constant when your new fans are the grandkids of your first fans).

Plus, DC already did this—and fairly recently.  Granted, they did a full reboot (of everyone except Batman and Green Lantern), and Marvel appears to be keeping all its old comics as canon—it’s just collapsing time streams and universes into one shared universe.  And Marvel has the advantage of seeing that DC did it so badly that they had to re-do it five years later.  It makes me wonder: Marvel has apparantley planned to do this for a long time.  Since before the New 52?  Or right after it, before the excitement and added sales faded, when DC seemed to actually have done something right?  Or is DC just doing it again to try to cut the legs out from under Marvel’s plan?

I dunno.  But Marvel does seem to be much more serious about this than DC was.  It’s not a reboot, it’s a reconfiguration that, for all purposes, will have lasting and permanent results.

Also, the first creators of an Ultimate Marvel comic (Ultimate Spider-Man #1) are returning to end the Ultimate Universe.  Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley will write a 5-issue mini on the last days of Ultimate.  I have to say, I hated it when they united Ultimates and the 616.  The thing that made Ultimates so great was that it was off on its own, completely different.

And they must have read my rantings from the days of the New 52, when I lamented over and over that DC missed a great opportunity to kill off or end all its storylines—since everything was being rebooted anyway.  Marvel’s not missing the boat on this: They’re putting “Last Days” banners on a bunch of titles, they killed Wolverine and they’re killing Deadpool soon, it’s all good stuff.

I trust Marvel, for the most part, but the impact of the Marvel Movieverse hasn’t been entirely positive.  (No more Nick Fury.  Guardians of the Galaxy everywhere.  The Inhumans are recast as a lamer version of the X-Men, instead of a kingdom of wild beings trying to coexist with humans.)  If this ends up in a Marvel U that just looks a lot more like the movies, I don’t think I’ll be happy.  But if it lets Marvel pick and choose the best of its past, make that canon, and forget everything ever written by Daniel Way, I’m all for it.  And speaking of Red Thunderbolts….

NYPD LIEUTENANT PUNISHER?  Marvel tried to sanitize Frank Castle in the horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE “Red Thunderbolts” comic, but they quickly ignored all that and put out a pretty strong Punisher series last year by Edmondson and Gerads.  It looks like Marvel is trying again, though, as the solicit for the April issue of Spider-Gwen (issue #3) announces that Marvel’s newest female hero will go toe-to-toe with an NYPD officer by the name of Frank Castle.  Ugh.

TROUBLE WITH SUICIDE SQUAD…ALREADY?  The lead, Thomas Hardy, has dropped out of the role of team leader Rick Flagg.  The movie has somewhat of a superstar cast—which is not something these kinds of movies generally do—featuring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, and Jesse Eisenberg (rumored).  It’s a risk casting big names in a movie like this, because the personality can be too big for the role.  Even Robert Downey, Jr., wasn’t who we know him to be now when he was cast as Iron Man.  Hardy claims conflicts with other commitments prevented him from filling the role, but that sounds like a weak excuse to me.  Maybe the script isn’t right?  Or maybe he saw David Ayer’s last movie, Fury (Brad Pitt in a tank), and was as disappointed as I was.

FABLES: FIRST CLASS.  Jane Goldman, who wrote X-Men First Class, is working on a script for the long-gestating movie adaptation of Bill Willingham’s Vertigo comic.  X-Men First Class was the second best X-Men movie (X2 was the best), so that’s a good thing.  She also wrote Kick-Ass, which was the best Mark Millar movie.  I’ve never dug the Fables comic—it’s just not my thing—but I’ve read several volumes of it and can appreciate that it would make a good movie. 

THE NEW HOWARD THE DUCK COMIC SUCKS.  And I haven’t even read it yet.  But solicits for the second issue, by Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones, show that he’s teaming up with the Guardians of the Galaxy in a story explaining the post-credits scene in the GotG movie.  The charm and magic of Howard was always that he was a knowing, sarcastic attack on superhero comics.  Having him team up with the Guardians makes him front-and-center part of the commercial machine.  Plus, it sounds neither interesting nor novel.  Everyone in Marvel is teaming up with the Guardians in 2014—there will be at least seven monthly Guardian-related books!  (Rocket Raccoon, Guardians, Guardians 3000, Guardians Team Up, Captain Marvel, Star-Lord, and Gamora.)

DONALD DUCK IS AT IDW.  Very strange.  IDW is launching a new line of Disney comic books featuring the usual mascots (Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, etc.).  So Disney owns the company that sells more comic books than anyone, but they’re outsourcing comic books?  Ponderous.

GHOSTBUSTERS IS BACK.  Or it will be on July 22, 2016, and all the busters will be chicks.  Saturday Night Live chicks, to be precise: Kristen Wigg, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon.  I hope there’s more to this than just replacing penises.

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST…LIVE ACTION X-MEN ON TV?  Fox is reportedly negotiating with Marvel, since Fox doesn’t own TV rights.  I can’t imagine this will ever happen.

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