Demythify: Time is Broken? Post Age of Ultron Marvel Now & Post Trinity War DC New 52 Shape Up Plus Dan DiDio & Axel Alonso Talk Comic Book Time

Thanks for popping by and checking out my weekly Monday Demythify column.

I’m also writing a weekly weekend column for Bleeding Cool called Comics Realism.

This past weekend my BC topic was: The Injustice of Digital Comics & Trade-Waiting. Check it out!

In this week’s Demythify, I follow-up on last week’s Comic Book Time topic plus we dissect the C2E2 comic book news in the post Age of Ultron and Post Trinity Wars Marvel and DC Universes.

Dan DiDio & Axel Alonso talk DC, Marvel & Comic Book Time

In response to my Demythify column last week, “Marvel Now’s Age of Ultron, DC Comics’ Flashpoint Paradox & New 52 Tackle The Challenge of Comic Book Time”, DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio responded on his facebook account by acknowledging that:

    “As long as our readers age (at least physically) at a quicker pace than our characters, we will always need to contemporize the worlds and settings of our heroes.”

As I noted last week, unlike Marvel of the past, DC Comics has embraced fantasy to address the comic book time conundrum by having events that transpire in their comics to explain any continuity changes. They’ve done this since 1986’s with Crisis on Infinite Earths to 2011’s Flashpoint.

Also last week, Marvel Comics’ Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso shared his perspective on comic book time over at CBR when asked about the Secret Origin of Tony Stark arc underway in the Iron Man Marvel Now comic book series:

    …When [writer] Kieron [Gillen] pitched this story, he had to run the gauntlet of the editorial summit so, rest assured, what he’s crafted is a story that will be satisfying to the most continuity-minded reader. It’s bound to cause debate, but Kieron definitely did his homework.

    Let’s be clear about one thing: This story doesn’t totally change Tony Stark’s origin. It reveals a heretofore-unrevealed pocket in his origin that, shall we say, deeply illuminates who he is and his relationship with his mother and his father. It also introduces a major new character who’ll be very important to Tony’s future — I can’t emphasize enough how important. You will look at Tony very differently at the end of the story.

    What do you look for in a pitch that redefines an origin? Honesty and extra effort in the research. If you’re going to do something like this, you can’t contradict what’s held to be “canon” about the character, and you have to consider what it will subtract or add to the character down the road. If your story will lead to a well-spring of fascinating stories, you’re onto something.

I think Axel is saying that the Secret Origin of Tony Stark keeps the “essence” of his previous origin and inserts new elements to a period of time not explored before; that both continuity and non-continuity could embrace the arc.

Tony Stark’s origin’s “essence” has been intact for years, but the key “War” element backdrop has changed overtime. As noted in last week’s column, Tony Stark (created in 1963) became Iron Man during the Vietnam War (1955-1975) originally, then the Gulf War (1990-1991) and then during the Afghanistan War (2001).

So, is the Secret Origin of Tony Stark another example of “boom” origin changed and this the new past, let’s move on? No in-continuity explanation for why previous continuity has changed? Can continuity and non-continuity fans both embrace that? Hmmm.

Marvel Now vs. Broken Time

Despite not mucking with time as much as DC, Marvel does have Age of Ultron (AoU) going on currently; a 10 issue, twice-monthly maxi-series that pits fractured future Marvel heroes – in a world ruled by Ultron – that sees some of those heroes sent into the present and past using Doctor Doom’s time machine to set things right and unspool that future. It certainly looks like time is broken or will be broken during and after Age of Ultron.

During C2E2, Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort was asked about the continuity impact of a key death in AoU so far:

    A fan asked whether Marvel would have to rewrite the history of Hank Pym if he dies in the past, and Brevoort pointed him towards Waid’s (Age of Ultron) #10 A.I one-shot.

That is a book that seemingly is led by “a” Hank Pym; past, present or future Hank?

Also, looks like writer Dan Slott is bringing Spider-Man 2099 – from Marvel’s future – into his Superior Spider Man run with issue #17:

    “Bringing in Spider-Man 2099 is fun,” Slott said. “I always knew we were going to get to this, and eagle-eyed readers will find hints of this going all the way back to the beginning of the ‘Big Time’ run.”

Plus, during this past weekend’s C2E2 we learned about X-Men: Battle of the Atom that pits Marvel’s past X-Men (All-New X-Men series), current X-Men (Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine and the X-Men, & X-Men series) with future X-Men. Wow.

Check out seven interesting future X-Men character designs below.

This series will shake out in the following titles:

    • X-Men: Battle of the Atom #1

    • Uncanny X-Men #12-13

    • All-New X-Men #16-17

    • Wolverine & The X-Men #36-37

    • X-Men # 5-6

    • X-Men: Battle of The Atom #2

And, if that wasn’t enough cross-time capers, we also have the Hulk agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. travelling through time to fix it in July’s Indestructible Hulk #11.


    Spinning out of the events of Age of Ultron!

    Hulk’s sent on his most dangerous mission yet, working for a secret subdivision of S.H.I.E.L.D.!

    History’s breaking–and only the Hulk is strong enough to hold it together!

These can’t be coincidences at the House of Ideas.

History is breaking. Time is broken.

What is Marvel Now building to?

DC’s Trinity War Is a Beginning not an End

When DC Comics announced Trinity War would be inter-series event in the pages of Justice League, Justice League of America and Justice League Dark, many fans were surprised. When DC first teased this during 2012 Free Comic Book Day (FCBD), many fans assumed Trinity War would be a standalone mini-series not one set in existing ongoing New 52 series.

Well, DC editor Brian Cunningham recently addressed why Trinity War is being executed the way it is:

    “Frankly, it feels much more a part of the fabric of the DC Universe if it’s within the books themselves. It feels more important. And there’s an opportunity to see the art of three extremely talented guys such as Ivan, Doug Mahnke and Mikel Janin. If it were one mini-series, we’d probably miss that opportunity.”

In addition, DC New 52 series Constantine and Trinity of Sin: Pandora will play a part in Trinity War; as well Shazam who had a co-feature in Justice League for several issues.

Cunningham also teased a few further post Trinity War developments starting with this:

    “And if people really want a big mash-up mini-series with DC’s biggest characters, well…it’s coming.”

Well that seems interesting. Since the Earth 2 / Prime Earth New 52 event is planned for 2014, I wonder what 2013 event this would refer to? Hmm.

Cunningham also spilled that some new books spin out of Trinity War:

    “…New titles, definitely. I’m already two scripts into one of them, and so far, it’s the biggest DC story in scope that I’ve ever been involved with. I can say with no hyperbole that it rocks the DCU to its very core. It’s that good. I wish I could say more!”

Rumour is that Shazam will have one of those series and perhaps the Gail Simone tweet confirmed Plastic Man series may be the other? Granted, Plas seems an odd Trinity War fit. Maybe his is another new series coming up since DC has more than two holes to fill in its future schedule.

Also, DC’s September “event” month – the anniversary of the New 52 kick-off in 2011 – appears to be shaping up to be the rumoured villains month; where each New 52 series is renumbered for one month to the book’s villain. For example, Riddler #1 for the pages of the Scott Snyder penned and Greg Capullo pencilled Batman series.

During C2E2, we heard some more interesting news from DC Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham:

    “During the question and answer period of the panel, a fan asked about a potential “Crime Syndicate of America” series in the New 52. While both Cunningham and DC Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras dodged the question, Cunningham said, “You asked that question about a month before you should have asked it.”

I concur with something I read on Reddit concerning this quote; unless Cunningham misstook the Secret Society who are currently being built up in the pages of Justice League and rumoured to be involved in Trinity War, I don’t see a Crime Syndicate #1 book replacing Justice League in September. Wouldn’t a Secret Society #1 make more sense?

So, perhaps, if we do get a Crime Syndicate #1, could that be the book that replaces Earth 2? We know that writer James Robinson is building a multiverse cross-over in 2014. Why not bring in Earth 3’s Crime Syndicate to be part of that?

I’d love to see an ongoing Crime Syndicate or Earth 3 series with heroes Lex Luthor and Joker facing that classic evil Justice League in the Syndicate?

Sounds like fun.

And on the cross-time caper front, we now have the confirmed All-Star Western #20 cover with time-travelling and time-displaced Booster Gold with Western bounty hunter Jonah Hex. Plus in issue #22 we see Hex in modern day. Co-writer Jimmy Palmiotti says they’re building to something big. DCU big. Hmmm.

Fun times ahead for the DC New 52 too.

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