Marvel News & Views: Champions Umm…Superhero Team of California.

Did you hear Edward Norton is going to play Bruce Banner? That sound you hear? That’s my heart singing.

And with that as the soundtrack, let’s peep some NEWS!

Oh, and this week’s divider pic theme is recognizable Spidey villains that Sony should feel free to use if they do go on with a fourth, fifth, etc. Spider-Man movie.

Can Champions Stand Against Lawyers?

So – Marvel’s coming out with a new Champions series in July, written by Matt Fraction, with art by Barry Kitson, right?

Kinda.

As Heroic Publishing President Dennis Mallonee has been quietly pointing out, Marvel doesn’t own the trademark to a comic book that can be called “Champions.” Heroic Publishing, Inc. in fact, does.

How’s that again?

The answer, according to Newsarama? Probably not.

I’m tempted to say something about it being ironic that this is happening to the company that has successfully stopped DC from ever publishing a comic called “Captain Marvel” (despite their Cap being much older than any of Marvel’s) and forced Marvelman to become Miracleman. Truth be told though, I don’t begrudge them those because the name of their company is Marvel. They kind of have to do that sort of thing.

To me, this feels more like when DC and Marvel went after Super Hero Happy Hour for use of the word “superhero”. It, like Champions, feels so ubiquitous to me that it seems “wrong” that everyone cannot use it. Legally, I think Marvel is in the wrong here. But in the grand scheme of things, it just seems silly we can’t have two “Champions” or a book that uses Superhero (or Super Hero) in the title.

Oh well. At least it’s the little guy that gets the victory this time.

America’s #1!!! America’s #1!!!!

Diamond released their monthly Direct Market Sales Charts and Market Share report Friday, this month for titles that went on sale in March 2007, and while Civil War proper may have ended in February, the power of its aftermath helped Marvel record another dominant month on top of the charts.

And all he had to do was die at Newsarama

I don’t tend to pay much attention to the business end of comics because a lot of it a.) confuses me and/or b.) depresses me, but this caught my eye. Damn! What happened? When did Marvel start taking DC out behind the woodshed? I thought they were pretty much neck and neck these days. Guess not anymore, at least.

Hope Marvel took the time to place a really nice wreath at Cap’s grave as sign of thanks.

Zombie Attack!

Some months ago, I did a “DVD commentary” of Xena #1 which ran here on Newsarama. People loved it. It cracked the internet in half, it broke hearts, it saved souls, inspired song, roused our troops, and elevated the comic book form to High Art. Naturally, Dynamite and Newsarama axed me to do one again, but I’ve been working on a video game (I can’t really talk about which one, but the Layman-written Marvel Trading Card Video Game for PSP just came out a couple weeks ago,) so I finally am getting to it. Plus, I just loaded up on a GIANT bowl of super-caffeinated clam chowder, so I’m totally ready to roll. I’m probably gonna type a million miles a minute, with a billion typos, and not making any sense. Gotta love that super-caffeinated clam chowder!!

Newsarama Braaaaaaaaaaaains!

I hate Marvel Zombies. Don’t know why, I just do. Overexposure, maybe.

But, for those that don’t, this commentary track will be a treat, I’m sure.

I Bring You…Proof?

Marvel has confirmed for Newsarama that Ultimates 2 #13 has been sent to the printer, and – barring any unforeseen Acts of God or truck drivers, the god of the truck drivers or a few other things along the line, it will be in stores on May 16th. The issue is a touch late, runs at 46 pages, has a wraparound cover, and carries a $3.99 cover price.

Marvel likes to roll up big in the club at Newsarama

There is really only one thing you need to see in reference to this article. The 8 page spread of battle. Here it is, in 8 equal chunks.

I have to admit…that’s a little impressive.

BEWARE THE FUTURE’S AWESOME MIGHT

Mock on your own with Comic Book Resources

Ultimate Spider-Man #111Ultimate Spot?! Cooooooooooool.

Amazing Spider-Man #543In regards to the question the solicitation text asks, the answer is “no.” That is all.

Sensational Spider-Man #39

Very disconcerting. Very.

Annihilation: Conquest- Star Lord #1I could give a damn about Annihilation (yes, I know…sleeper hit, really good, etc. etc. It’s still cosmic and I’m a bit snob), but I must say I really love two things about this book. 1.) The ridiculously long title that includes a colon and a dash. If only Marvel could’ve worked in a parenthetical statement like “Annihilation: Conquest- Star Lord #1 (How Does it Feel). That would’ve been awesome.

2.) I dig Star Lord’s look.

I’m a bit of a sucker for the merging of the military/royal look and technology.

Annihilation: Conquest- Wraith #1Another TV writer toward comic writer?! Let the wailing, teeth gnashing, and doomsday prediction of lateness begin…now!

Nova #4Did everyone check out Ben Morse’s Nova Sketchbook? Yup, he’s a gigantic nerd. And yup, he has the job we all wish for, writing about comics for a living. That Nova sketchbook isn’t looking so stupid to you now is it?

Oh, and for the record, my equivalent would totally be a Paladin sketchbook. Oooo, or a Shocker one. That’d be AWESOME!

Captain America #28

The nigh photorealistic Sin on this cover is sort of cute, huh? Nice freckles.

More importantly, what’s up with Eel (the fella in blue and purple) being a member of the Serpent Society? An eel is not a snake, right? Or did I just make an idiot of myself?

Well, a bigger idiot than I did when I said Sin was cute.

The Champions #1Matt Fraction needs to write more books if for no other reason than the solicitation text for his books are always most excellent and over the top.

This one is doubly exciting though because this book feature Kitson art! Love me some Kitson.

Interesting though how the Ultimate house style of costume (with the ribbing) seems to have made its way to the Marvel U proper.

World War Hulk: Gamma Corps #1 & 2No…just no. Although I would support the return of the Thor Corps. That, my friends, would be the greatest thing ever*

*Disclaimer: Statement may be hyperbolic.

World War Hulk: X-Men #2Oh man, I hope Hulk makes paste out of Wolverine.

Avengers: The Initiative #4

Hey… is that rocky fella in the back of this cover the ever-loving blue eyed Thing? If so, good for him. Sure, Hulk is a rampaging brute who apparently can’t wait to whup on a teenager, but at least he’s not a jerk like Reed.

Ghost Rider #13This is a very striking cover.

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #29This is a neat cover that I rather enjoy.

Ms. Marvel #17MODOK appearance #2!

Mystic Arcana: Black KnightFirst off, Mystic Arcana could do better with this title. Annihilation is totally kicking their butt in terms of punctuation and length. Maybe they should throw a tilde in there. (A tilde looks like this: ~ for you Spanish impaired folk).

Second, and I apologize in advance for my uncharacteristic swearing, but, holy shit! Roy Thomas is writing a comic for Marvel?! How is this not a bigger deal?

Mighty Avengers #5Sentry’s wife’s been murdered?! Wow, just when you thought Sentry couldn’t be less interesting, Marvel finds a way.

Also, way to give that away, guys!

New Avengers #32What the hell is going on with this cover?

New Warriors #2Yeah Night Thrasher!

She-Hulk #21Well, you certainly can’t complain that Mr. Slott is lacking ambition here. 90%, huh? Well, damn then.

Loners #4

Sweet Weird Science homage. Love Turbo’s face!

It just occurred to me though. All these covers are 80’s film poster homages, but the heroes all had their heyday in the 90’s. No iconic teen movies in the 90s?

Omega Flight #4The true villains are revealed? You mean, American arrogance and imperialism? I thought we already knew about those?

Super Villain Team-Up/MODOK’s 11Seriously, when did Marvel decide to rediscover MODOK? Because, to me, it seems like I haven’t read a set of solicitations in months that didn’t feature him in at least one story. It’s craziness.

Anyway, I’m willing to overlook the Ocean’s Eleven reference (the movie is five or so years old and WILDLY overrated in the first place) because this one’s going to feature a crazy amount of supervillains! I am so easily bought.

Thunderbolts: Desperate MeasuresIt is hard to complain about any project that is going to mean art from Steve Lieber, but I really hope there is a good reason for this project occurring outside the context of the book.

Nice cover though.

Deadpool/GLI: Summer Fun SpectacularI’m not the great lover of Deadpool (as a character) that many are, but I expect that he and the Great Lakes Avenger (or whatever they are now) in one book is bound to be hilarious.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

MOON KNIGHT #9

A new artist and an appearance by the only Marvel hero I know of as bloodthirsty as this latest incarnation of Moon Knight, The Punisher. The art looks good and I’ve previously enjoyed the Moon Knight/Punisher encounters I have read. I’m there.

SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN #37

My officially endorsed mainline Spidey title. Pretty cool Mr. Hyde story going on right now but the real treat is how well Sacarra has nailed Peter’s “voice”.

MIGHTY AVENGERS #2

The first installment was so damn fun and New Avengers seems to have found its groove again that I find myself actually being excited for Avengers books again! So odd.

Before we get into the debate, here’s a letter from my favorite reader (and he should be yours too) Adam.

If the little Spidey ‘D tier’ character pics in the column were for me then you are a gentleman sir. I was marking out like a 12 year old.

-Adam May

I’d like to think they were for the 12 year old in all of us, but I’m thrilled that you enjoyed them as much as I did. Hope you like the more well known villains showcased this time.

Tim,

“perhaps the largest mistake Marvel has made with a character who’s appeal they have largely buried with mistakes over the years”

Don’t you think this comment is just a little harsh. I mean yeah marvel has made some questionable decisions with the character, but amazing and ultimate are both still the two top selling “solo” character books each month, with the exception of the two Wolverine books(I am excluding team books, events, and the occasional character re-launch, which always sinks anyway). I mean what other character sells so consistently with no major creative team changes. It can be argued that the main Batman book does, but that is only when a Grant Morrison or a Jim Lee level talent is on the book. Even Sensational and FNS sell solid each month. If we step outside the comic book world and focus on comic related movies, no other comic related property comes close to having the appeal as Spider-man. The movies put up “Star Wars” and “Lord of the Rings” level box office numbers. I don’t believe any other comic movie even reached 300 million domestically. I am not arguing your opinion of the books, but rather I am questioning how you can question the character’s appeal. Spider-man’s appeal is pretty eternal. Everything that happens with the character always sparks so much debate and passion, whether positive or negative, that it shows just how much appeal the character has.

-King Joe

My e-mailed response went as such:

Hey, King Joe, thanks for writing.

As far as the quote goes, I’ll definitely go back and located it and respond in the column. For now though, I wanted to respond directly to you because, taken at face, you’re right. I was being harsh there and I didn’t properly explain myself.

You’re right about sales, both concerning the movies and the comics. What I was referring to though is the current “event” mentality that has dominated Spidey’s books for years. It is as though they don’t trust the appeal of the character itself and thus they pour event after event into the book, choosing flash over believing in the product.

But, you make a good point. Spidey’s appeal is still strong to people. People love the character. Heck, despite my complaining, I do dig Sensational (and Ultimate, but I sort of consider that a different thing). I should have been more clear in explaining that what I meant was Marvel was in danger of reducing Spider-Man to nothing more than a launching pad for events. His appeal would remain undiluted by that in a cosmic sense (people will always love Spidey) but the Spider-Man in those books would stop being the character that all those people saw appeal in.

Again, you were right to call me on the simplistic statement and I’ll tackle it in next week’s column.

Then he was kind enough to respond:

Thank you, for responding to my e-mail so quickly. I actually agree with you about the event mentality that has surrounded the character for quite some time now. To be honest, I am tired of events period and would like things to settle down a bit and just see some strong stories again focused more on character then status quo changing. My biggest beef isn’t with change and character development, it’s just that so many of the changes have been sloppily handled (the other) or downright unnecessary (sins past) and more often then not, just get retconned anyway. I admit that my personal verdict is still out on the unmasking, because I am intrigued by it, but I also admit that it has the potential to be a huge mistake. I just wish marvel would pick one direction for the character and settle down with it. One status quo changing event should be enough for a few years, before starting up another one. Like I said, I wasn’t questioning your opinion about the creative aspect, but more about the character’s appeal. I hope Joe Quesada makes good on his promise to return the character more to his origins, but at this point it is hard to see that happening. Thank you for clearing this up for me and I will be reading as always.

-King Joe

Thank you Joe, and again, thank you for keeping me honest.

Another MNV come and gone. Thanks for coming!

Un Gajje Reminds You That Love Lifts You Up Where You Belong