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Posts Tagged "Comic Book News"

LOTS OF MARVEL “COSMIC” AND AVENGERS NEWS, FAT AQUAMAN, AND MORE!

Let’s start with Ultron news…The “yesterday is now” teasers of everything from Secret Wars to Civil War have started to get more detailed.  In April, we’ll get a series of three oversized one-shots (one for each of the “main” Avengers books: New, Uncanny, and plain) in an “Ultron Forever” miniseries written by Al “Mighty Avengers” Ewing and illustrated by none other than the great Alan Davis.  The story will feature an Avengers team led by Dr. Doom fighting in a future where Ultron rules the roost, along with more (exhausting) time travel to bring in all kinds of other Avengers: Hulk from the 1960s; James Rhodes’ Iron Man from the mid-1980s; Walt Simonson’s bearded Thor; and others.  I’m willing to give this a try—I love Alan Davis—despite my being sick of all the time jumping, and the fact that it’s obvious pandering to the Avengers movie lineup in the summer sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Jim Starlin’s Thanos

And speaking of the sequel to The Avengers, the movie is in reshoots to punch up the action sequences and Marvel Studios has already let it drop that the three- and four-quels, Infinity War Parts 1 and 2, will be filmed simultaneously beginning next year.  Strange that the movies aren’t slated for release until 2018 and 2019.  Guess they’re worried about the cast getting too old, and too famous, to shoot the films later.  But if the filming is all done, why wait a year between them for release?  I mean, anything can happen between now and then—and it’s not like Marvel is hurting for content for future movies.

But the effects of their expanding movieverse can be…Frustrating.  To wit:

THE MARVEL UNIVERSE GETS RETCONNED AGAIN TO FIT THE MOVIEVERSE.  First, they killed off Nick Fury and brought in a black Nick Fury “Jr.”–with an eyepatch.  Now, they’re dealing with the fact that there can’t be mutants in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  In the latest issue of AXIS (a miniseries that feels like it should feel important but instead is criminally dull), Scarlet Witch either casts a spell that makes Magneto not her father anymore or that reveals he never was her daddy in the first place.  Just have her say “no more mutants,” make everyone an Inhuman, and be done with it.  So annoying.

JIM STARLIN DRAWS THANOS!  Jim Starlin created Thanos, and is one of my favorite artists of all time, but lately he’s been more of a writer than a drawer.  That ended this month with the release of “Thanos vs. Hulk #1,” which he’s both writing and drawing.  The tale also includes Pip the Troll, Blastaar the Living Bomb-burst, and Annihilus.  I have to admit, I haven’t read it yet (with miniseries, I sometimes wait for a few issues to stack up)—but I’m excited.  Obviously, I’m a Thanos fan.

IT’S OFFICIAL: DEADPOOL RETURNS.  Or, more precisely, Ryan Reynolds returns to reboot the role that was (not his fault) completely screwed up in the first Wolverine movie.  But Marvel ain’t the only comic company with movies in the pipeline…

DARK JUSTICE LEAGUE MAY ACTUALLY HAPPEN!  I have to admit, based on Man of Steel I’m really not excited for the slew of DC movies promised and helmed by Zack Snyder.  But Guillermo del Toro doing a super-hero black magic movie?  I am so there.  Apparently, del Toro has finished writing the movie, which could feature the likes of John “I already got a bad movie and a decent TV show” Constantine, Zatanna, Deadman, Swamp Thing, and others…This sounds like a concept that could actually move the entire superhero movie genre forward.  Which means it probably won’t ever happen.

SUICIDE SQUAD.  An exception to the comment above about how DC movies look generally bad: The 2016 Suicide Squad DC movie that’s definitely a go, definitely looks promising announced its casting: Jared Leto as Joker, Will Smith as Deadshot, Thomas Hardy as Rick Flag, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Jai Courtney as Boomerang and Cara Delevigne as Enchantress.  And the big (no pun intended) rumor: Oprah Winfrey as Amanda Waller!  It’s about time this comic got the recognition it deserves.  I thought I was the only one!

TIME TO EAT DONUTS.  And in a last piece of DC movie news, Jason Momoa has been signed for four movies as Aquaman.  If that were me, I’d get real fat real fast.  I mean, who doesn’t want a fat Aquaman?  Plus, it’s realistic: All that blubber would keep him warm in the ocean depths.

FLASH VS. LUKE SKYWALKER.  Turning to DC TV news, Mark Hamill is coming to The Flash as Trickster, a role he first played in that terrible 1990s Flash show (and one he reprised in the cartoon Justice League Unlimited).  Hamill has a good history as DC villains, having been The Joker on many animated Batman shows and films.

G. WILLOW WILSON TO WRITE X-MEN.  The author of one of the best comics of the decade, Ms. Marvel, will write a four-issue arc (beginning with issue #23 in January) featuring Storm, Psylocke, Rachel Grey, Monet and Jubilee.  Why?  Because she just signed an exclusive deal with Marvel.  Let’s hope they make good use of her, and don’t waste her on generic “big stories” that anyone can write.  She has an unusual talent for characters and slow-growth narrative—give her a Runaways reboot, or maybe even Machine Man, and she’ll knock it out of the park.  Don’t waste her on the death of Wolverine 2 or whatever.  They already proved with Charles Soule that once a remarkable talent gets put on an “epic” story they quickly become unremarkably generic.

MANHATTAN PROJECTS ON HIATUS.  Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra’s revisionist history comic about the role of mad scientists like Albert Einstein and mad politicians and soldiers like General Westmoreland and Vice President Johnson has been a book I’ve read in trade form only.  I find it works better for me, since the story is pretty “big” and the cast is huge—I think I’d lose track of the tale if I read it in 30-day chunks.  Hickman said in the last issue that the book is going to sleep for a few months, but promised it will return in March in a new “format.”  This last issue wrapped up a lot of the threads that dated back to issue #1, so it makes sense it might come back as something new.  I imagine he’ll move it forward in history to the 1980s or ‘90s—but that’s just my guess.  He did promise: “Gone will be the sprawling ensemble narrative that moves each individual character’s story incrementally along, and replacing that will be tight arcs focusing on a single (or few) characters.”  MP is a book that hasn’t gotten the kind of widespread recognition or acceptance of so many other Image Comics—I hope this gets more eyes on it.  It’s weird, it’s rude, it’s often mean and nasty, but it’s also hilarious.

MIAMI VICE…THE COMIC!  I wouldn’t normally write about this for several reasons, not the least of which being that IDW comics are usually pretty bad, but “Miami Vice Remix” will be written by Joe Casey.  You may know of Casey’s great comic book work like his classic runs on Cable/Deadpool or Superman, or you might have read my feature on Godland.

Or you may know his edgier, award-winning work like I Kill Giants, Officer Downe, or (a personal favorite of mine) Codeflesh.

LINK

He’s certainly been a writer that’s made an impact on the industry as part of Man of Action Studios, the producers of Ben 10, Marvel’s current animation slate on Disney XD, and Big Hero 6.  So, this may be good.  On the other hand, it may just be a paycheck.

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D.C.’S CONVERGENCE EVENT: Does Anything Matter Anymore?

I’ve written quite a bit about how Marvel promises in April 2015 to bring us a revamp of the “original” event comic, Secret Wars, along with revamps of just about every event since then (Planet Hulk, Age of Ultron, Civil War, etc.), and they promise that after all this is done, “nothing will be the same.” With Marvel, I’m confident they won’t throw away over a half Century of characters and continuity in one fell swoop. They revise timelines and history often (House of M and Spider-Man’s Brand New Day, e.g.), but usually they’re pretty clear about what’s still canon.

But DC plans to do the same thing, at the same time, and based on their history, I’m not nearly as confident that DC won’t screw this whole thing up. The New 52 screwed up the greatest thing DC did in the last 30 years (Grant Morrison’s Batman) and rendered whole libraries of trade paperbacks irrelevant. Now, with Convergence, they’re either trying to save those old comics from the recycle bin or, worse, planning to give the last three “New 52” years the same treatment.

But maybe some good can come out of it?

The idea behind Convergence is fairly simple: Brainiac has figured out how to steal cities from anywhere and anywhen in the Multiverse, and as a result all kinds of characters can meet and fight. It will take place in April and May 2015, and as I understand it all regular DC titles will cease publicatoin during the event. That makes this truly the biggest line-wide event in history. It’s also dumb. Because it just gives people a reason to drop all those DC titles they were just buying out of habit. Like Teen Titans. Or whatever Scott Lobdell is writing these days.

But it’s not all bad—there are some potentially interesting comics that could come out of it. Most of the comics are by the usual creators or feature storylines that don’t seem to matter because they don’t matter, by which I mean that DC hasn’t learned from Flashpoint. The lesson there was, if we all know nothing matters then you better tell a far out story we can’t find in regular continuity. When they did that, the Flashpoint books worked (like the Batman and Aquaman stories). When they didn’t, there was no reason to care about them.

Here’s my take on the coming event so far, about half of which has been announced….

WEEK ONE: The Flashpoint Week

  • The Question. Greg Rucka and Cully Hammer pit Renee Montoya against Two-Face and an alternate Earth Harvey Dent. Rucka? Hammer? BUY.
  • Batman and Robin. Bruce and Damian vs. Red Hood and Man-Bat. Much as Ron Marz’s writing doesn’t thrill me, art by Denys Cowan and Klaus Janson makes this a no-questions-asked BUY.
  • Superman. Dan Jurgens is writing a story about “married Superman,” but with a twist: Art by Lee Weeks! For that reason, and that one alone, this is a BUY.
  • Nightwing/Oracle. Gail Simone writes up a Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon wedding, which is crashed by Flashpoint Hawkman and Hawkwoman. It’s Gail Simone, so BROWSE with chance of BUY.
  • Batgirl. Stephanie Brown vs. Flashpoint Catman, with Red Robin and Black Bat guest-starring. This would be a pass, but there’s art by Rick Leonardi, which means it’s a BROWSE.
  • Harley Quinn. I have never liked a Harley Quinn comic, but this one has her team-up with Catwoman and Poison Ivy to fight Captain Carrot. BROWSE.
  • Speed Force, Justice League, Titans, The Atom. These have “same old” creators and nothing remarkable about the solicits. IGNORE.

WEEK 2: Kingdom Come Comes Back!

  • Supergirl: Matrix. Keith Giffen writing Ambush Bug? BUY.
  • IGNORE: Batman: Shadow of the Bat; Catwoman; Suicide Squad; Green Arrow; Superboy; Justice League International; Superman: Man of Steel; Aquaman; Green Lantern: Parallax.

Week Three: Tangent and Elseworlds!

  • Swamp Thing. Writer Len Wein returns to the character he created, with Kelley Jones on art. I’ll buy this just to support one of the most underrated creative minds in comicdom. BUY.
  • The New Teen Titans. Marv Wolfman writing the titans (with Nicola Scott on art) was enough, but throw in the Tangent Universe Doom Patrol and you’ve got a solid BUY.
  • Batman and the Outsiders. Marc Andreyko has written some very solid comic books in the past, so I’m always willing to give him a try. I’ll skim this tale about the title heroes meeting OMAC, and see if it’s worth a buy. BROWSE.
  • Hawkman. Jeff Parker is a decent writer who is sometimes great, and Tim Truman is a great artist who is sometimes decent. Put them together, throw in Kamandi, and it’s worth a BROWSE.  Plus: Truman’s done Hawkman and Hawkwoman before, very well.
  • Wonder Woman. Larry Hama and Josh Middleton pit WW against the vampires from Batman: Red Rain. The team is solid, and the premise has potential for a neat little one-shot. BROWSE.
  • IGNORE: Adventures of Superman; The Flash; Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes; Green Lantern Corps; JLA;

Week Four: Featuring folks from pre-Crisis on Infinite Earth earths (if that makes sense)

  • Detective Comics by Len Wein, Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz. With those creators? Automatic BUY.
    Shazam by Jeff Parker and Evan “Doc” Shaner. Jeff Parker wrote “Shazam and the Monster Men,” my all-time favorite Shazam story. BUY.
  • Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters. The title of this story by Simon Oliver and John “The Boys” McCrea has me very interested. BROWSE with option to BUY.
  • World’s Finest Comics. This doesn’t sound so great, but the solicit includes “cartoons by Shannon Wheeler.” Color me intrigued. BROWSE.
  • IGNORE: Crime Syndicate; JSA; Infinity Inc.; Action Comics; Blue Beetle; Booster Gold.
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THE LATEST COMIC BOOK NEWS STARRING BERK BREATHED, FRANKENSTEIN, DAREDEVIL AND KITT!

Wolverine is already “dead,” and, sadly, it didn’t go that way.  No big stories over the past couple weeks, just lots of little news items…

BERKELEY BREATHED DRAWS STAR WARS!  The cover for the relaunched Star Wars #2 will feature art by the great Bloom County cartoonist.  Far as I know, this is Berk’s first foray into comic books!

THE MONSTER UNIVERSE.  Marvel Studios has been so successful with its superhero properties, Warner Bros. has DC, Sony owns several Marvel properties, and Universal has…The Mummy?  That’s right, Universal Studios long-gestating plan to take advantage of its library of all the classic Bela Lugosi/Lon Chaney type monsters (Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstein and his Bride, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Invisible Man, etc.) has morphed into a plan to reboot the characters as modern-day superheroes.  Way to be original, guys.  Marvel made the spandex movie great—you could have done the same for classic monster films.  Instead, you’ll copy Marvel and you’ll probably do it badly and be late to the party anyway.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY ARE THE NEW AVENGERS.  I guess having a hit movie is enough to give you more comics than Wolverine or The Avengers.  By early next year there will be at least eight Marvel monthlies featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy: the main title by Brian Michael Bendis, Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Guardians 3000, Marvel Adventures: GotG (all ages), Gamora, and Guardians Team Up.  The debut issue of Team Up, the latest entry, will be written by Bendis and, get this, illustrated by the great Art Adams.

COWBOY VIKING NINJA.  Speaking of Guardians of the Galaxy, the movie adaptation of the Image comic just signed Chris Pratt as the lead, which is good news for series creators AJ Lieberman and Riley Rossmo but bad news for those of us who just want to see him be Star-Lord all the time.  Between Guardians and Jurassic Park, I’m not sure Pratt his time for another franchise…

THE NEXT SOLO BATMAN MOVIE: BATVERSE.  Will be The Lego Batman Movie, and it’s not coming until 2017.  But I for one look forward to it.  As you’ll find out on my end of the year list, The Lego Movie was the best Batman movie of all time—and for the 2017 film they plan to include every Batman ever (much like Marvel’s current “Spiderverse” event).  I wonder if they’ll include Batman of Zur-En-Arrh?  Owlman? Batmouse?  In other Batverse news….

GOTHAM MAY FEATURE ROBIN.  In the womb, anyway.  The showrunner says Dick Grayson’s parents will appear on the show.  He also said Harley Quinn will appear in a later season, as will Joker.  I hope they really show the progression here, in real time, so we see Bruce turn into Batman by the time he’s about 18 years old. 

MARK WAID TO LEAVE DAREDEVIL.  Mark Waid has been writing the adventures of Matt Murdock since 2011 (and artist Chris Samnee has been along for most of that ride), but it’s time to say goodbye.  Waid’s run has been phenomenal not just in terms of overall quality but in the entirely different approach he took to the character.  Ever since Frank Miller transformed Daredevil from a C-lister whose book struggled to find readers into the Marvel version of a Dark Knight, DD has been cynical and raw.  Under Waid, Murdock’s life turned around and we began to see vibrant color.  It’s still a great comic, just not as great as it once was—although the current Purple Man storyline is wizard.  Here’s hoping Waid ends it all with a triumphant storyline.

GLOBAL FREQUENCY HEADS TO TV (AGAIN).  But this time, it looks like a sure thing—because Jerry “big explosions” Bruckheimer is attached to produce for the FOX network.  Never heard of the comic?  Check this out.

WONDER WOMAN HAS ITS DIRECTOR…And it’s Michelle MacLaren of Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.  It will be her first film.

THE RETURN OF HOWARD THE DUCK.  Perhaps based on the success of Rocket Raccoon and the general buzz over Squirrel Girl, another animal character will get a 2015 solo book.  Chip Zdarsky (artist on Image Comics’ Sex Criminals) will write, and the great Joe Quinones will illustrate, an new Howard the Duck series.  Howard will be rebooted as a private detective. 

 

REST IN PEACE, GLEN A. LARSON.  Lastly, we recently lost a bona fide TV genius who created some of the most popular “comic book-y” TV shows of my generation and the one before me, including The 6 Million Dollar Man, McCloud, Quincy, The Fall Guy, Knight Rider, The Hardy Boys, Battlestar Galactica, B.J. And The Bear, Buck Rogers In The 25th Century, Magnum P.I., and the eternal classic Manimal.  Thank you for making so many hours of my life pass quickly, bringing me closer to freedom from the bondage of existence.

               PIC MANIMAL

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OCTOBER WAS A GOOD MONTH TO BE A COMIC BOOK (and to be Robert Kirkman)—SALES NEWS, AND OTHER RECENT STORIES

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Batman (and his extended family) continues to be the only DC character that sells.  Batman is also, quite frankly, one of the only DC books worth reading…

COMIC BOOK SALES IN OCTOBER 2014

The good news for all of us comic book nerds is: Sales were up in October.  And up quite a bit.  Sales of both comics and graphic novels increased over 10% compared to October 2013.  But the real news is market share:  Image sold one out of every ten comics October. When you start pulling a 10% market share, the big two have to get worried.

Turning first to graphic novels, we see lots of books that actually deserve good sales—the first volume of Ms. Marvel, for example, which is easily one of the best comics of the year.  Add to that Scott Snyder’s Batman, Southern Bastards, Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey’s Moon Knight, Amazing Spider-Man, and Hawkeye…All great comics.   It’s very unusual not to see any Walking Dead volumes in the top 10 (or even top 20)—especially when the show’s season premier was this month.  Ponderous.

Here’s the top 10 graphic novels sold…

  1. Ms. Marvel Volume 1
  2. Hawkeye Vol. 3
  3. Batman Vol. 4
  4. East of West Vol. 3
  5. Batman Vol. 5
  6. Southern Bastards vol. 6
  7. Harley Quinn Vol. 1
  8. Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 (2014)
  9. Moon Knight Vol. 1
  10. Batman Death of the Family ($40 special edition)

On the “loose issues” front, The Walking Dead’s inclusion in Loot Crate bumped it to the #1 spot—the first time a non-Marvel/DC book has been #1 since…Ever, maybe?  The same thing happened to Rocket Raccoon a few months back when it was a Loot Crate giveaway.  Wolverine’s “death” did okay (the comic was a huge [HUGE!] letdown content-wise), but trailed Walking Dead by over 100k units.  And because Marvel zombies will buy any piece of steaming shit as long as it’s an event, Axis #1 came in fifth.  Seriously, guys—it’s terrible.  It doesn’t even make sense.  But because Marvel had two events and a gender-bending Thor out in one month, DC’s Batman didn’t place in the top 5.  In fact, DC did pretty badly overall—but it’s nice to see a Vertigo book ,Wytches, sell well.  It came in 18th and sold nearly 70k copies.

Here’s the top 10:

  1. Walking Dead #132
  2. Death of Wolverine #4
  3. Thor #1
  4. Death of Wolverine #3
  5. Avengers and X-Men Axis #1
  6. Batman #35
  7. Amazing Spider-Man #7
  8. Amazing Spider-Man #7, 8
  9. Harley Quinn Annual #1
  10. Avengers and X-Men Axis #2

 

Also worth noting: Paul Pope’s second Battling Boy story, Rise of Aurora West, made it to the top 20.  A very good all-ages indie superhero book—not many of those exist.

And now, your other news of recent weeks, which, unusually, has quite a few DC stories…

D.C. CONVERGENCE (THE NEXT BIG EVENT THAT WILL PROBABLY OVERLAP WITH OTHER BIG EVENTS).  While Marvel is promoting a summer 2015 event that will basically re-tell every single big event in Marvel history, anchored by Secret Wars (which most agree was the first “event book” of all time), DC is trying to get there first.  In Arpil, they’ll run 40 (yes, 40!) miniseries anchored by a 9-issue weekly book titled, “Convergence.” The story: Braniac is collecting bottles of cities from alternate universes and alternate DC timelines, and then everybody gets together to beat the crap out of the problem.  But what makes Convergence an event worth paying attention to is Greg Rucka. He’ll be writing a two-issue miniseries about The Question—fans of Gotham PD know that Rucka created the Renee Montoya version of the character, if that history is still canon after the New 52.  There’s a bunch of ministeries and tie-ins being planned, with at least one other very cool one:  Lee Weeks drawing Superman.

 

THRILLBENT TO SEE PRINT VIA IDW.  Thrillbent is the Digital-only comics company founded by the great Mark Waid, which has released some high-quality books by creators like James Tynion IV, Tom Scioli and, of course, Waid himself.  Now the digital releases will see print and distribution through a partnership with IDW comics.  The first book will be the “Empire” reboot by Waid and Barry Kitson, and a reprint of the original Empire series.  Other high-quality Thrillbent offerings to look forward to include Insufferable by Waid and Peter Krause; Albert the Alien; Moth City; and The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood.

GAMBIT GETS A MOVIE.  Channing Tatum will play Gambit in a solo film, with a script based on a plot by Chris Claremont. Was anyone looking for this?

 

SUPERGIRL.  CBS has already done a series order for its Supergirl TV show, and casting call information reveals that this will be the Linda Lee Danvers version of the character.  How confusing will this be to non-comic-book fans?  Marvel is putting out a Captain “Carol Danvers” Marvel movie about a female superhero who can fly and punch the Hell out of stuff and DC has a TV show that’s…Pretty close to the same thing.

OUTCAST: ROBERT KIRKMAN’S NEXT BIG TV SHOW.  If you’re not reading Outcast, the Image comic by Kirkman and Paul Azaceta, you’re missing Kirkman’s best writing ever.  Seriously.  He’s always been a great plotter, but his dialog and scripts have felt somewhat flat.  Nearly everyone in his comics has about the same voice—they often feel interchangeable.  But in Outcast, he’s crushing it.  Now he’s got a TV deal for a Cinemax series to star Paul Fugit in the lead role.  You may have heard of Kirkman’s other horror TV show, on AMC.  It’s called The Walking Dead.

TEEN TITANS: EARTH ONE.  So far, I’ve found DC’s “Earth One” series of hardcover novels underwhelming.  I’m still looking forward to Grant Morrison’s Wonder Woman, but I’m also wondering if it will ever come out.  In the meantime, later this month Jeff Lemire and Terry Dodson are revamping The Teen Titans for their Earth One debut.  The books are standalone stories outside of any “official” DC timelines or continuity.  They’re basically a way for creators to play with corporate toys without breaking anything.  The book will focus on originals, not sidekicks, like Raven, Cyborg, Jericho, Changeling, and Starfire.  Lemire’s DC work hasn’t been great so far, but his indie work has been terrific—and this project, since it is separate from the established DCU—has the potential for an indie feel.  I’m excited.

SUICIDE SQUAD TO FEATURE THE JOKER.  It looks like both Harley Quinn and Joker will appear in DC’s Suicide Squad film—as the company appears to have no immediate plans for a Batman solo movie.  (That’s baffling.)  Casting rumors put Margot “Wolf of Wall Street” Robbie as Quinn and Jared Leto as Joker.  Because I’m assuming Jake Gyllenhall wasn’t available.

 

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THE MARVEL-OUS 2015 SUMMER EVENT-RECYLE, THE END OF THE ULTIMATES, MARVEL’S PHASE 3 MOVIES, AND OTHER COMIC BOOK NEWS…

It’s no secret that 2015 will be the year of the been-there-done-that, as we see revivals of: Planet Hulk, Inhumans: Attilan Rising, Civil War, House of M, Age of Ultron (versus Marvel Zombies), Secret Wars (which seems to be the one to rule them all), Armor Wars, Infinity Gauntlet, Days of Future Past (retitled Years of Future Past), Future: Imperfect (Peter David and George Perez’s excellent Hulk story), and Old Man Logan.

All in the summer of 2015. Axel Alonso has assured Marvelites that there will be no reboot a la DC’s “New 52,” but we’ve also been told that we’ll see changes beyond the scope of any we’ve seen before, with long-term implications. Oh, and Beyonder (architect of the original Secret Wars) is involved.

But we’ve also been told that we’ll get “Ultimate Universe: The End.” All I can say to that is: “It’s about time.” The Ultimates started strong, with an absolutely brilliant reboot of Spider-Man and a terrific blockbuster series of Ultimates comics (volumes one and two). Then Jeph Loeb came along and it all turned to shit. Fast.

Well, not all of it. Ultimate Spider-Man has never really lost its shine and quality. Brian Michael Bendis even made sure to kill off Peter Parker when the book was getting stale, and the Miles Morales story has been terrific. (Despite the recent arc which is reviving Peter Parker—the jury is out on that.) In fact, Ultimate Spider-Man is the most consistently good Marvel title since…Amazing Spider-Man. Hmmm.

If they’re ending the Ultimate Universe, that’s a good idea. The whole point of the Ultimates was that things would matter and the books would take risks, but they got so popular that they stopped taking risks and stopped mattering.

So, what else happened over the past few weeks?

MARVEL’S PHASE 3 MOVIE SLATE! Not to be outdone by DC’s major announcements, Marvel dropped some bombs. Here’s what we can expect to see in the coming years:

  • JAMES BROWN IS BLACK PANTHER. Specifically, Chadwick Boseman. He’ll first appear in Captain America 3: Civil War in 2016, and then a solo film the following year. There’s only been a few black lead characters in superhero movies: Blade, of course, was the best. Then there was Spawn, Hancock, Catwoman, and Blankman.
  • A MARVEL WOMAN! Captain Marvel will be the first Marvel Studios woman to get her own movie, in 2018. Too bad it’s this one. I would have loved a Ms. Marvel movie about the new, Muslim character whose comic book is easily one of the best of the year. Like Black Panther, there have only been a handful of female-fronted comic book movies in the past. Elektra, Supergirl, and Catwoman. All were terrible.
  • THOR: RAGNAROK. This one could be good if they base it on Walt Simonson’s story and have Executioner wielding M16s. Thor 2 was not a good film, at least by Marvel Studios standards.
  • INHUMANS. Also in 2018. This will probably be the Marvel Studios version of the X-Men, since they don’t have the rights to mutants.
  • BENEDICT STRANGE. Dr. Strange will be played by Benedict Cumberbatch in a 2016 solo film.
  • CAPTAIN AMERICA VS. IRON MAN. Captain America 3 will indeed be based on Marvel’s Civil War ,and will feature Robert Downey Jr.
  • AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. A two-part movie, released in May 2018 and May 2019. How annoying to have to wait…

STATIC SHOCK GETS A TV DEAL. The African-American DC character who seems vaguely like Black Lightning only with a less-cool name and a less-cool costume will be featured in some kind of live-action “project,” the exact nature of which (and where it will air) is unknown. It will be written, produced, and directed by Reggie Hudlin, who wrote a great Black Panther arc about ten years ago, and who also was the head of Black Entertainment Television.

CONSTANTINE. I have to say, I enjoyed the premier episode of this show, based on the DC character who starred in the longest running Vertigo comic of all time, Hellblazer. I wasn’t a big fan of the comic—horror really isn’t my cup of tea—so I can’t say how faithful it is as an adaptation, but it seems like a good show. So far. Based on one episode. Plus, it had a cameo by Dr. Fate’s helmet!

CRIMINAL MOVES TO IMAGE. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have created the best (not “some of” the best, the best, period) noir comics of all time. Incognito. Sleeper. Scene of the Crime. The current ongoing series Fatale and The Fade Out. And, of course, their masterpiece: Criminal. The Criminal books were published under Marvel’s Icon imprint, which distributes creator-owned content. Recently, the team signed an exclusive deal with Image Comics to produce whatever they want, and now they’ve announced that the next Criminal installment will be part of that deal. Marvel’s Icon publishing line has become increasingly thin, and this has to be a huge blow. Particularly as other great creators like Matt Fraction, Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon, J. Michael “JMS” Straczynski and others have made the move over to Image. Icon used to a be a way for Marvel to keep these creators close and incentivize their corporate work—now, it seems, Image can provide similar publicity and distribution without making the creators work on superhero titles.

PUNISHER CANCELLED…AGAIN. Marvel keeps cancelling perfectly good Punisher books. Greg Rucka’s run was terrific, but got canned. Now, Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerads run is also ending. I’m not a huge fan of the current Punisher title, but it isn’t awful. Anyway, it’s ending and we’re being promised that the character will undergo a major change. Really? Punisher is the one character whose appeal is based on the fact that he never changes. Anyway, another reboot series (with a #1, of course) will appear next year. We’re also promised a new PunisherMAX. The MAX Punisher books can be summarized as: Garth Ennis’ stuff (the greatest Punisher stories ever told, and some of the best comics ever written, period); Jason Aaron’s MAX book (quite excellent); and everything else (crap). Let’s hope the new one is a good one, because a good Punisher MAX is some of the best comics ever.

THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL. She gets her own comic in January 2015, even as Marvel cancels She-Hulk—a book that has slowly become one of my favorites. If this book is taken seriously, it’s easy to see a novelty character in a quality book. As I said, She-Hulk is great. But if it’s treated as a joke, like Rocket Raccoon’s book, it will quickly become boring and pointless.

NO BLOW JOBS FOR STEVE JOBS. Ales Kot and Ricardo Lopez Ortiz’s Image Comic, Zero, recently featured a somewhat explicit oral sex scene, and as a result Apple refused to carry it in their comic book store. More censorship from Apple—and its odd, because Zero is a war comic that has shown very explicit violent—as Kot himself tweeted: “ZERO #11 is my first comic book to be rejected by Apple — apparently dead children and horrific brutality are okay but oral sex a no-no.” Well, maybe this will help sales. It’s a very different, very interesting comic book.

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