2014 (as every year) promises to be a big year for Marvel. Whether Marvel can exceed or even meet expectations is anyone’s guess. But given previous entries in the comic industry and even previous years of large promise (2013 being one of them) what can some of our true expectations be for the coming year? If you’re coming here for a review of this week’s comic books, I apologize. This is a review of the preview of Marvel’s year to come. It’s like political pundits’ predictions on 2016’s presidential candidates, except this is something you care about!
To start things off, this coming March has one series that I’m incredibly excited about and that is Moon Knight under the creative vision of Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey. Moon Knight has always been an underdog at Marvel with an extremely hardcore cult following but has at best achieved sixty issues in one volume, and more often than not has not passed thirty issues. Because of this I think it is safe to say that this won’t be a long on-going series, so don’t get your hopes up, but apart from one volume Moon Knight usually runs at least twelve issues, so we should at least get a year worth of stories this time around.
With this series also brings another aspect which does not bode well for the longevity of the run: Warren Ellis. Now, I love Warren Ellis. I’m a hardcore fanboy of his and I think anything he touches is gold. He could write My Little Ponies and I’d probably become a bronie. I usually don’t read novels, but I made the time to read his books. I hunted down an entire run of X-Force he plotted (not scripted) just because his name was on the books. So I’m a huge fan of his. But, with Marvel he doesn’t do long runs. He never has. Iron Man, Secret Avengers, Astonishing X-Men, Thunderbolts, Ultimate Fantastic Four, Nextwave, Starjammers, Wolverine, Storm, X-Man, Hellstorm, and Thor all had great issues by Warren Ellis, but no one run of his lasts longer than twelve issue. Well, with the giant sized issues in Astonishing X-Men, maybe more, but still. Doom 2099 and Excalibur are the few series which lasted but both were in a period where the miniseries Pryde and Wisdom came out (another by Ellis, but even I can’t get behind a Shadowcat/Pete Wisdom team-up).
The fact of the matter is we are most likely to get six to twelve of the greatest Moon Knight stories ever told. Ellis won’t overstay his welcome, so Marvel will either cancel the series or place an up-and-comer on the book who may not be awful, but behind Warren Ellis, he/she won’t be able to compete. Come December of this year the cancellation notice will already be out.
Nathan Edmondson may not be a familiar name with most who read exclusively Marvel comics, but he is anything but a rookie newcomer. Edmondson has worked on a few issues in the Ultimate universe, but this year is transitioning to the 616 to bring us tales of the Black Widow and Punisher is two separate series. The Punisher always does well and has a strong following, and after the Avengers movie I think fans are open to a Black Widow series if done well. Hopefully Edmondson has read Secret Avengers #20 by Warren Ellis to understand how to tell a good Black Widow story.
Nathan Edmondson is best known for bringing life to the solo career of Grifter. For those who don’t know, Grifter is a cross between Hawkeye with a little bit of Wolverine’s healing powers. He works with teams, but is still a loner character at heart with a complicated past. From writing all of these attributes I strongly believe that Edmondson will do a great job on both of these titles. But there is still a catch: Edmondson is also not well known for long runs. He typically has a story to tell, and then he is done. How does someone get replaced by Rob Liefeld unless they are just finished with their story or sick of their editor? With Edmondson and Ellis entry into the All New Marvel Now Part Two (or whatever they’re calling it), and with Alex Alonso’s acknowledgement that renumbering actually boost sales, I get the feeling that Marvel is not actually looking at these series as long on-going runs, but rather solid stories on short runs to boost familiarity with characters to encourage their cinematic and television goals. I don’t say that to be extremely negative, but rather something we must acknowledge as fans as the industry is starting to change forever. The one positive thing is if they are looking for shorter runs and multiple renumbers, some of the better writers out there not interested in long on-going series may be reentering the ranks and delivering higher caliber stories with less throw away issues between the stories that matter. Hopefully Edmondson, Ellis, and Matt Kindt are the just the forerunners and we’ll start to see many more skilled writers putting their spin on the 616 who haven’t before or in a long time.
As of yesterday the puzzle was complete and we got our glimpse into the wedding of Deadpool and presumably Death (probably Death). While I’m sure this is not going to be an epic event, it will most likely be a somewhat amusing entry in the Deadpool legacy. The latest run (or the Post-Way Run) has been a bit of a hit or miss for me. Some of the retro issues I thought were great, but the introductory story arc just felt flat. Daniel Way and Joe Kelly are two guys you don’t want to follow behind, but even then, with an extremely funny comedian co-writing the series I had high expectations and they were never met.
So what does this puzzle and the promised storyline show us? Not really anything. It is another reminder of how polarized people are on this subject of the new Deadpool series. Some people hate (and there is no hyperbole in using the word “hate” here) this series and so they hate the idea of the story that this puzzle represents. People won’t read Marvel now (Marvel Now now?) because of this advertisement. Heaven forbid a company tries to solicit excitement and anticipation in a series.
In all honesty, this will probably be a throw away storyline, but not the end of the world. It may turn out to be humorous and amusing read, but even if it doesn’t it probably means they’ll put the Deadpool series on sale on Comixology around this time so you can pick some of those up for dirt cheap and reread the series that you loved. So shut up.
Let the speculations begin! The series that everyone hates to love (but we do, don’t we) is being hyped up with the Goblin Nation storyline and the apparent absence of the final issue of the storyline in the solicitations. Hmm? What does that mean? Well, probably just that it is coming out in April and that the April solicitations haven’t come out yet, but go ahead and guess something else.
With the return of Peter Parker to the big screen in 2014, most people’s expectation is that Parker will return in the pages of the comics. There’s a problem with that expectation though. Superior Spider-Man has not only become a fan favorite but also has received high critical praise and has solid numbers in sales. Dan Slott has also be given a large amount of creative freedom at Marvel. Because of those two reason, unless Dan Slott is finished with that story, I don’t think Superior is going anywhere.
We also have Spider-Man 2099 now in the 616 mix and the never-ending rumors of the end of the Ultimate universe and the introduction of Miles to the the 616 as well. With Kaine and Spider-Girl along for the ride I assume it is safe to say that the next big Marvel event will have the Scarlet Witch proclaiming, “No more Spider-Men/Women/Girls.”
But Dan Slott is jumping to the Silver Surfer (we can talk about that later) and although he is a fairly prolific writer, he isn’t like Bendis or Hickman and tends to stay on one book at a time. He’s typically focused on a character(s) and their story, so there is a possibility that Dan Slott maybe passing the reigns on Spidey to another writer and at that point in time it truly is anyone’s guess what would happen.
In a move that proved on social media whether or not you were a geek, the news that Matt Fraction was replaced by Charles Soule of the the Inhuman series came out almost at the same time that some dude with a beard said something racists and also proved that most people on Facebook don’t understand the difference between “free speech” and “free market.”
But, the real issue here is the creative differences which caused Matt Fraction to be split off of a series which is supposed to set the new course for the changing tide of the 616. To some this calls into question the actual creative freedom offered to writers and artist at Marvel. To others, they’re still wondering who the Inhumans are and why is Thanos having a son a big deal.
With Joe Madureira at the helm of the art, there are still many who most likely do not care who is writing the book and merely look forward to his energetic style. And whoever is writing this book will play second fiddle to Mad Joe who is an industry favorite and made his mark on the X-Men from the Age of Apocalypse to Onslaught. Apart from Jim Lee, his images are some of the most iconic for X-Fans from the 90s (maybe including the preceeding and following decades as well).
So what does that mean? The first issue will have record sales.
Soule is getting a lot of acclaim for his indie title “Letter 44” which actually is extremely good even if I’m not that impressed with the artwork. With a touch of indie-cred and the touch of an industry legend this book with reach out and draw people in who may not have regularly read this series.
But there are still two unclear things: Soule and MadJoe. Soule is a wild card in that not much is known about him and to have the reigns of the anchor-title of the all new Marvel Now is a big weight to bear for a rookie. He hasn’t done anything to make anyone doubt his abilities as a comic writer, but he hasn’t really proved he can hang with Bendis, Hickman, Fraction, Aaron, or any of the other heavyweight veterans Marvel has at their disposal. This will be his trial by fire, and while I wish the best for him (mainly because I really want the best for the Inhumans) we’ll have to wait and see on him. Joe Madureira on the other hand has a reputation not unlike John Cassaday. He has a wide following of fans, but there are always rumors of him being behind schedule and generally late on projects. Sure he delivers the goods, but if he’s late enough that another artist has to fill in for a few issues will that turn fans off of the series? We’ll have to wait and see.
Dan Slott and Mike Allred: either you’re already on board or you’re cursing their names. These two take over the original herald this year with a Doctor Who type spin on the Silver Surfer. Dan Slott is an unashamed Whovian so when the news broke that he would be restarted the Silver Surfer series, but this time he would be giving him an companion, it wasn’t really a huge surprise. If nothing else it sounded like an original and possibly fun spin on the Surfer. The question everyone is asking is: Will it be fun, though?
Of course. Mike Allred is a fun artist. Dan Slott is a fun writer. Will either of them reshape the way we view the Marvel Universe? No, but for twenty-three pages a month you’re going to have a lot of fun on whatever quirky adventure these two decide to take you. That’s a fair promise.
Apart from killing Peter Parker, Dan Slott generally creates very fun and energetic reads. Often I feel the advertising department at Marvel oversales his comics, but they’re still good. Even his She Hulk run wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t as good as Peter David’s run, but it was still fun. And Mike Allred’s art always gives the whimsy and fun feel to comics that are reminiscent of the best of the Silver Age. So I strongly stand behind the stance that this will be a fun comic to read. I’m sure Silver Surfer purist will be upset by a slightly lighter touch on Norran Radd, but with the last name “Radd” maybe you shouldn’t take him too seriously.
The announced first event this year for Marvel involves the death of the Watcher and I would presume the mystery surrounding whodunnit. While DC has proven they are fairly capably at delivering superhero murder mysteries (Final Crisis and Identity Crisis), Marvel rarely goes near this genre apart from Dakota North or the CrossGen series Ruse. Yet if you look at the creative team (Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato Jr) this isn’t too far out of either of their comfort zones.
While Deodato isn’t well known for his murder mysteries and until recent years was best known for half-dressed, busty women, his shadowy style will play extremely well into a noir feeling mystery story. Jason Aaron, on the other hand, wrote the impeccable and dark series Scapled prior to his flights of fun humor on Wolverine and The X-Men. While he isn’t as strongly and consistently on the mark as Warren Ellis, Aaron has proven he has the ability to jump between serious and humor similarly.
But what does this mean for the series? Well, the Watcher will die, but no one will really notice except for those few that seriously thought that Earth X was actually part of the 616 continuity and the events from Infinity were ushering in that time. Silly people, Jim Krueger is a false prophet. My guess though is that we’ll find that someone in the Fantastic Four was sick of all voyeurism and took a little trip to the moon to pop a cap in that monstrous head. If I’m wrong, I’ll just delete this blog and refuse to admit I ever stated that.
I honestly think this looks like it will be a fairly interesting event series. With all of the past events that Marvel has put out it is just important to remember that the status quo will most likely not change that much, everyone will eventually come back from the dead, and whoever is actually guilty of the murder will be basically forgiven within a year or as soon as it is inconvenient for whichever writer is helming that character’s core book. But that doesn’t mean that the series itself won’t be entertaining and engaging while it occurs. We all hyped ourselves for an epic battle royal against Ultron thanks to an incredibly deceptive titled series last year, so the main thing is to just enjoy the premise and whatever may happen leave your expectations and all the hype behind. Remember: if you could write a better comic you probably would.
So goodbye, Marvel Now, and hello, New Marvel Now. Let’s hope we get more this year than just a slightly more diverse Ms Marvel. Check back next week as I start working through and reviewing this year’s all new number ones!