The Marvel Comics Relaunch? Marvel Comics Announces Marvel NOW!

Marvel NOW!

Hell of a name, right? It’s what Marvel is branding it’s new initiative, not unlike DC’s New 52 of last year. Unlike what DC did, however, this isn’t a relaunch. I mean, yes, it’s a relaunch, there are going to be new number ones for classic books, new titles, new creative directions…I mean, really, it is a relaunch, but it’s not looking to be as extreme as the one the Distinguished Competition did last year.


Marvel is labeling this as a new beginning, as opposed to a reboot. Starting in October we will see the launch of new titles and the relaunch of old ones. We’ll see creators taken out of their established comfort zones and thrown into new territory to bring us all kinds of new stories.


I’m talking about the long rumored Brian Bendis X-Men book finally being confirmed, with the premise being that the original five X-Men come together through time and space, pulled from a moment early in their careers, and left to see what their future is. Is Jean Grey back? Yes, she is, but she’s a Jean we haven’t seen since the 1960’s. Stuart Immonen is confirmed along for the ride, but I can’t imagine he’s alone. Bendis is known for working with multiple artist to help his books come out bi-weekly. Bleeding Cool had rumored Leinil Francis Yu and Brandon Peterson, but we’ll see.


But Marvel’s Golden Boy isn’t the only super star creator picking up work in the initial announcement. Jonathan Hickman, my personal pick for the best Fantastic Four writer ever, is moving over to one of Marvel’s premier franchises to bring his unique voice. The book will most likely wind up being bi-weekly as well (Marvel loves getting books out at least twice a month), but Hickman is planning on bringing a giant cast to the table. The number I saw tossed out was eighteen members of his Avengers roster, and that number doesn’t seem daunting to me. His run on Fantastic Four and FF lately has very much been up that alley, a book every two weeks and a giant cast that never feels too large.


Unsurprisingly, Hickman’s favorite Avengers stories veer toward the cosmics: the Korvac Saga, the Kree-Skrull War, and the time-scrambling Avengers Forever. Hickman’s first story arc on Avengers is called “Avengers World,” but even the term “world” sounds a bit too micro for Hickman’s ambitions. In the wake of AvX and a new era of Marvel, “The obvious solution is for the heroes to become something bigger and larger, a more appropriate response to an ever more dangerous time.”Avengers will be published twice a month, and Hickman is currently planning to mix together longer five-to-six-issue story arcs with one-off stories that focus on individual characters. As for those characters, Hickman is mostly keeping mum about the lineup right now, but he revealed one teammate to whet our appetite. Kids, we’ve got six words for you: Shang-Chi, master of Kung Motherf—ing Fu.”


Now, to wrap up the initial announcements we have a book by Rick Remender, and given that he’s in the initial three book rollout…I think it’s save to say that Marvel fully views him as one of their top guys. On top of that, his book is going to be Uncanny Avengers. Something of a cross between the Uncanny X-Men and the Avengers, it’s going to be the book where Captain America finally realizes that he hasn’t done enough for mutants and opts to finally make a difference for them. On top of that, and something I personally love, Remender is bringing in Havok as well with intent of making the younger Summers brother into one of the biggest players in the Marvel Universe. About ****ing time. Oh, on top of all of that, John “Astonishing X-Men and Planetary” Cassaday is along for the ride to pencil it. I can’t wait!


Perhaps appropriate for a team that comprises a vision for the Marvel Universe’s future, the Uncanny Avengers’ first villain will be, literally, a ghost of the past. “In 1943, Arnim Zola, who was this bio-fanatic engineer, recorded the Red Skull’s consciousness, and set it to wake up 70 years later. So the Red Skull [in Uncanny] is right out of 1943-44. Prime Nazi scumbag. In his mind, he’s taking that vitriol and hate and Nazi horror and methodology, and pointing it at the mutant species.” And Remender stresses that the mash-up philosophy of Uncanny extends beyond the team’s lineup. “I’m not just smashing the heroes together, I’m smashing the villains together. It becomes something unlike anything we’ve ever seen, with stakes that are so huge, it takes a team comprised of the best Avengers and the best X-Men to go take care of it.”


So how’s this rollout going to work? From October until February just go into a comic shop every week and you’re going to find a new number one issue. It might be a classic title, or a new one, but it will be something, and there will be one every week for twenty-two weeks. Part of me expects to see some weeks with more than one book, otherwise Marvel may wind up with the same monthly output of DC but with half the number of books. Why not do it all at one and soak up the giant sales jump? Marvel claims to be wanting to allow writers to finish up their runs and wrap things up, rather than the drop everything and move on method employed by DC last summer.


One thing is for certain, it’s going to be interesting! I mean, just look at that picture with the new costume designs. Cable has an eye patch! Expect a lot more information to come out at San Diego Comic Con.

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