Marvel has been slowly and steadily announcing their plans for their “new universe” coming this fall. It has been the hot topic on most geek blogs and is keeping people excited, sort of. In just watching this event creating the new Marvel Universe unfolds, I already have some misgivings with how things are going.
With nearly two months left of the current world-changing event, we already know who is going to survive Secret Wars. We already know what new series they will be in and who the creative team is. It’s no fun if you know the answer before the question is done being asked. And now the question is, why bother reading the event at all?
I’ve waited a little bit before jumping into buying Secret Wars. I had just finished with Convergence – which was basically the same event – and needed a break from world combining. Also, I was not a huge fan of the Free Comic Book Day prequel comic. And frankly, I wanted to hear people’s reactions. A friend has told me the basics but admitted that while it is interesting, it is not the most cohesive story. I’m considering just skipping Secret Wars all together since I already know the outcome.
The other hand is, I was excited to give Marvel another chance sans the weight of their overgrown universe. In the past, I had a hard time trying to jump into large universes because of the weight of history and the complex, never-ending storylines. Then, Marvel Point One happened. I tried out and liked quite a few issues. However, the series I enjoyed failed to keep me interested because they immediately went back to complex tales. DC Comics learned from this, and then made their complete reboot a lot more accessible. My hope was a new start for Marvel meant an easier entrance to exploring that universe beyond just a few standalone stories.
It all comes down to why I read anything. I read to experience through another’s eyes, hear another’s thoughts and feel another’s feelings. I read to explore new worlds and characters. And I read to enjoy the plot unfolding before me. All I can hope is that Marvel’s new universe won’t be completely spoiled before it is even born.
You may have seen the trailer for the new Fantastic Four movie, due from Fox this coming August. Seeing as how you’re reading this on ComicMix, you probably have.
You may be familiar with all the rumors about how Marvel is pissed off at 20th Century Fox because the movie violates, well, everything fantastic about the Fantastic Four.
At the very least, it seems to ignore much of the origin and the history of the subject material. Anyway, many people believe that’s the reason Marvel cancelled their Fantastic Four monthly, the flagship and cornerstone of the Marvel Universe. This may be true, as there’s a lot of bad blood sloshing around this deal. Not to mention a lot of bad movies as well.
Here’s the curious part.
You may have been to your friendly neighborhood comics shop today and picked up a copy of the new Marvel Previews… their promotional comic that tells us what they’re going to publish in a couple months. If you’ve seen the trailer and you’re familiar with the conflict and you’ve seen Previews, you just might be confused by the cover for Silk #4, pictured to the left.
Your confusion would be well-founded. Right there on the cover is Johnny Storm, of the Fantastic Four, sharing a meal with Silk. If you’re not confused, take a look at Johnny’s costume.
You’ll note that the “4” on his chest is pretty much the one in the new movie. It’s the same as the one in the final issues of the Fantastic Four monthly, except for the logo on Mr. Fantastic’s polo shirt. But with the monthly cancelled, if Marvel wanted to distance itself from the movie this would be a great time to revert to any of the previous logos – or create a new one.
Hell, if I were really pissed, I’d spell out the word across Johnny’s chest!
The logo for Fox’s new movie is depicted at the top of this column, unless I broke the Internet once again. That movie “4” is just about the same “4” we see on the cover of Silk #4, to be released this coming May 14th.
If you’re not confused, let me explain why I am. If Marvel hates the new FF movie (or the FF movie deal) to the point of cancelling their flagship title… why does the return of the Human Torch to Marvel’s cover stock promote the Fantastic Four movie?
I’ve always taken this story with a grain of salt. Given my somewhat skeptical nature, that grain of salt usually is big enough to make the Morton Salt girl wince. But people have looked into this, and I’ve asked a couple friends who labor in the Mouse House of Ideas. I had grown to accept this story and have even tagged Marvel’s response as petty. Not horrible, just petty.
And now they’ve changed the Fantastic Four uniform to comply – imitate, actually – that worn in the upcoming movie. The one they ostensibly hate.
Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice famously said.
Then again, the answer might be as simple as this: why let a multi-million dollar feud get in the way of making some money?
Two decades after it hit theaters and became an SF classic, 12 MONKEYS is being retooled as a new TV series, but does it still have the DNA to survive? Stars Amanda Schull and Aaron Stanford talk about the transition and why it works. Plus it’s the first big industry move of 2015 as IDW acquires Top Shelf Comix.
When was the last time a major comics publisher launched a new series of superhero comics? Of course, by new I mean “totally original characters.”
For example, both Dynamite and Dark Horse are doing quite nicely with their somewhat integrated lines of heroic fantasy. Dynamite based theirs upon well-known pulp heroes such as The Shadow, Doc Savage, The Avenger and Zorro. Dark Horse has resurrected golden age licensed characters such as Captain Midnight and Skyman and has been integrating them with their own Comics Greatest World (X and Ghost), brought back from wandering around the1990s. Nice stuff – some of it great stuff – but these are not new characters.
The same thing is true over at Valiant. They’ve resurrected their characters and did what amounts to the fourth or fifth relaunch of their universe, sans those licensed from Western Publishing (which are now over at Dynamite Comics after Dark Horse took their shot). This time the effort seems to be well-received and its worthy of that but, again, these are not “new” characters or original characters.
DC and Marvel keep on altering their atlases as though somebody dared them to confuse M.C. Escher. Nothing new here outside of the occasional new-person-with-old-code-name gambit, sometimes followed by the old-person-returning-to-the-old-code-name variant.
So where’s the new stuff? Where are our totally new and original superheroes? I remember the thrill I felt when I fell across T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1 – the real one, done by Wally Wood and Reed Crandall and Steve Ditko and Gil Kane. Totally original stuff created by some of the greatest talent the medium has seen. They made such an impact upon baby boomer comics fans that they’ve been resurrected by such well-financed publishers as Archie Comics, Penthouse, DC Comics and, most recently, IDW. Even Marvel had a bid in on at least two occasions. And, as it turned out, the only thing these latter efforts were lacking were the likes of Wally Wood and Reed Crandall and Steve Ditko and Gil Kane… and the 1960s sensibilities that molded the property in the first place.
We’ve got brilliant creators wandering around out there today. Most are all well-employed, and their creator-owned stuff tends to be non-heroic fantasy. That’s completely understandable. If you spend most of your time doing The League of Uncanny Spider-Bats, you’re going to want your own stuff to taste different. Even the brilliant lads at Aw, Yeah Comics (the imprint, not necessarily their home-base comics shop) do that.
Nonetheless, it is 2014. We’ve got a whole different set of concerns. The DC Universe was born out of the depression and World War II. The Marvel Universe was born out of the nuclear arms race. Today we’ve got terrorism, plagues, a completely dysfunctional government, and a planet that has been savagely and perhaps terminally abused.
We know this is totally a #FirstWorldProblem, but getting one’s schedule set for Comic Con is really stressful. With the SDCC app and an Excel spreadsheet in hand, we’re scurrying around the San Diego Convention Center right now in search of scoops (of probably both ice cream and news), but here’s a look at hard tween geek choices that had to be made and some very cool activities downtown.
The most important entertainment news this week was not the announcement of new television or movie deals. No one with the star power to open a movie got arrested or married or gave birth. There is no hot new music festival, nor have any celebrities been released from jail.
No, this is the most important story. Rosario Dawson has been cast in the Daredevil series Marvel Studios is producing for Netflix.
The reason I know this is the most important story is that it caused the most people to send me e-mails or texts. Everyone had the same question.
As near as I can tell from reading the stories to which my friends linked me, the answer is no. Nothing in the character description indicates that she is playing a former fashion model turned private investigator and freelance security professional.
Still, I understand why people ask. Dakota North has been a more frequent participant in the Marvel Universe of late, appearing not only in Daredevil but also Captain Marvel. She’s a useful item in the toolbox because her skills make it believable that she knows something important to the plot. You believe her father (former CIA) taught her the necessary moves to not only find out secrets, but to also fight her way out of any jam.
She is not a social worker, as seems to be the case with the Dawson character. She doesn’t know how to help people talk through their problems. She doesn’t know how to help people get what they need from a convoluted government bureaucracy. No one person can excel at everything.
This is a shame, because I would love it if Dakota North were to be played by Rosario Dawson. She’s tall enough to be a credible fashion model, and we know from movies like Sin City and Death Proof that she can kick ass. No, she doesn’t have red hair, but, really, that’s hardly a defining character trait.
More important, I would love it if Dawson were to play Dakota North in the series because she has already been cast and it would mean I’d get paid. I forget what the page limit is past which Marvel must pay me for using her in a single issue of the comics, but they haven’t reached it yet. However, if she were to be on screen, I’d have a case.
I would like to urge each and every one of you to lobby for this to happen. I, myself, have already spoken to The Incredible Hulk about this when I met him at a political fundraiser last year.
(It was for Martha Robertson, whose anti-fracking stance won his support. I urge you to support her, and not only so you can meet movie stars, but because she is a great candidate.)
This isn’t as important as getting Jack Kirby recognized and paid. I don’t believe that the comics community is going to rally around this particular cause, nor should they. However, it would be lovely if all of us who contributed to making the various comics universes interesting and complex enough to entice paying customers could share the wealth.
So I guess when the AV Club is reporting on the future death of Wolverine, the cat is out of the bag, eh? In yet another PR stunt, the mainstream comic houses show their full hand in hopes mega media attention will somehow garner a boost in pulp sales. I’m reminded of that saying concerning the definition of insanity. And surely this is a topic we, the snarky columnists of any number of media outlets, have covered… well… to death. It’s still worth another look though, so indulge me, kiddos. It’s time to beat a dead horse.
Isn’t it a shame when the knee-jerk reaction of your most dedicated fan-base upon hearing about the death of a beloved character comes with an audible snicker and eye roll? Suffice to say when I’d read the newswire piece it didn’t come as a shock, as much as a continual reminder that my favorite medium was often regarded as kitsch. And truly, no other medium comes to mind – save perhaps for soap operas or pro wrestling– where the announcement of a significant loss bares no bitter fruit as much as it comes complete with scoffs from the peanut gallery.
Wolverine to be stripped of his healing factor and killed. Peter Parker’s mind is destroyed, only to be inhabited by Otto Octavius. Batman banished forever in time by the impact of some Omega beams. Superman dead. Thor dead. Professor X dead. Steve Rogers dead. Jean Grey dead. Colossus dead. Hell… Bucky Barnes dead. Phil Coulson dead.
Feh, I say. Feh! In each instance of the leaked announcement, I immediately retort “…until sales drop, or a movie comes out.” And if you’re a betting man, you’d be smart to go all in each time. I think though, that ranting and railing against something you could count on as easily as the tide coming in, is a waste of negative feelings.
What sits at the root of all of these stabs into the mainstream ether is the soul-crushing realization that our beloved cape-and-cowl crowd are all for-profit entities, each built to harness the dollars and cents of a loyal customer base that has proven more often than not to continually purchase product even while loudly protesting it. Simply put, one need not sweat the wrath of the fanboys and girls until they leave you high and dry at the checkout counter. And as attendance at comic conventions continue to swell, and the multiplex becomes choked annually with blockbuster after blockbuster… there’s little need to fear that our ink-and-paper rags are going away while the licenses need to be coddled.
And what would you do if you were the EIC of a major comic book publisher? You’d keep hitting your cash piñatas until they stop dropping Tootsie Rolls. One can’t simply let their comic character live and die with the times. They must constantly be in a cycle or dramatic repartee with one another. They must converge on mighty battlegrounds. They must make odd alliances. They must recalibrate, reinvent, and redefine their very being every few months. The moment they stop, the attention is drawn elsewhere. Even to let a mortal man, like Frank Castle – a character whose very mission is clearly drawn in severe black and white terms – die a hero’s death, is really just another way to bookmark him for a new series later. One cannot simply let a comic character die… not when there’s a bloodstone to find and money left on the table.
To learn of Wolverine’s impending dirt map should not actually be met with a scoff, and an upturned nose. As in nearly all my aforementioned examples of re-re-retconned demises… in their immediate wake came some of the best stories I’d ever read concerning that character! When Batman was time-bulleted away, Scott Snyder’s Detective Comics gave me the Dick Grayson I’ve always wanted to read. When Dan Slott took the leap to let Otto drive as the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler, he opened up a fantastic object lesson in proactive versus reactive heroism. And when Wolverine bites the big one, it will be less about ending his story as it is opening up a new chapter in the plethora of X-books that will no doubt be touched by the loss. Death, as it were, is then less about the loss specifically of the character in question, rather, it’s about the aftermath that needs to be considered.
It is sad to me that we must accept this as fate; that our heroes and villains are merely pawns in a never ending churn and burn of story arcs and universe resets. In the time since its inception, the Marvel Universe (the 616), and the DCU (whatever we call current continuity since it’s neither new, nor 52) have relegated themselves to reinvention at every turn of the corner. Unlike a soap or the WWE, where fictional characters can eventually die in real life… or even Doctor Who, who remains the same alien in spirit, but purposefully reimagined to coincide with the times – mainstream comic books must remain forever in Neverland. While DC tried hard to create legacies with a few of their major heroes (The Flash and Green Lantern, most of all), they too eventually succumbed to a massive PR stunt (the still-absolutely-unbearable Flashpoint), in order to move the zeitgeist back into its clutches.
So mourn not for James Howlett, folks. Let no tears stain your mutton-chopped cheeks for his once robust form. For now, he will join any number of other X-Men at the famed Marvel Island. He’ll enjoy the umbrella drinks, and free bacon… as the 616 spins out of control.
Because let’s face it, a world with Wolverine leaves a roster spot open on at least 1,246 different teams. And that is why we mourn.
Do you ever think about infinity? I do, and it makes me dizzy.
I don’t just mean infinity in terms of numbers, although I do mean that. I mean infinity in terms of space. When I think about space not ending but going on and on and on and on indefinitely, it makes my stomach hurt. This is why I can’t see Gravity, even though it’s supposed to be an excellent film.
Then there is temporal infinity. There is time before the dawn of time, and there will be time after the end of time. Millennia more. This makes me so queasy that I understand why humans invented religion.
But that wasn’t enough for infinity. There had to be more. Which, I guess, is kind of the definition of infinity.
Then, I read a New YorkTimes review of a new book about infinity. I haven’t read the book yet (it’s on my Kindle, I swear), but it looks like the kind of thing that I will really want to read and then it will make me nauseated. According to the Times, the book posits that everything that could possibly happens either has happened or will happen, if not in our reality than in another.
This means that at every decision point in every day of every human’s life, one or more parallel dimensions came into existence. Not only for the big decisions, like whom to marry or which job to take, but also whether one chooses paper or plastic bags at the grocery store, crosses with the light or jaywalks, watches Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D or Brooklyn Nine Nine.
The concept of alternate and parallel dimensions is nothing new to comic book fans. We know there are Flashes on Earth-One and Earth-Two. We also know there is a Marvel Universe and an Ultimate Marvel Universe.
What we didn’t know is that, if I understand this book correctly (and I’m only going by the review), all of these dimensions do, in fact, exist. That’s how the concept of infinity works.
In any case, I have a few questions.
• Are these dimensions better than mine?
• If so, how do I get there?
• If I go and superpowers are a thing, do I get any? Do I get a choice as to the kind of powers I want?
• Will my credit score go with me? Can I choose a dimension without credit scores?
• What are housing prices like? Can I afford something with a pool?
• Is there some kind of “no-backsies” clause so I can’t change my mind? And, if so, can I choose one of the infinite number of alternate dimensions in which the “no-backsies” clause doesn’t apply?
In any case, I expect to be back here next week, in the potential dimension in which I survive another week. I hope you do, too.
But if you go someplace better, please send a postcard.
COMMUNITY’s Jim Rash is back in THE WRITER’S ROOM for another season, and he previews it all here for us including an episode dedicated exclusively to comic book shows. Plus Tyler Labine talks about his new paranormal comedy, DEADBEAT, which is ready for your binge watching and Thanos will pull the Marvel Universe closer together.
Today, Marvel presents a fuller look at beautifully rendered interior pages from ORIGINAL SIN #1 – the 8-part blockbuster event from writer Jason Aaron and artist Mike Deodato.
On the moon, the dead body of Uatu, The Watcher is discovered. His home destroyed. Looted of its valuable alien technology. His death sends shockwaves through the superhero community. The Watcher has borne witness to every event, every skeleton and every secret history of the Marvel Universe. Secrets that are now in the possession of the killer.
The manhunt is on as the Avengers, the X-Men, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and everyone in between desperately search for the Watcher’s killer – but with the killer in possession of all the skeletons in their closets, are they ready for their sins to be revealed?
As they unearth the motive behind The Watcher’s murder, they’ll uncover a shocking truth that will shake the Marvel Universe to its core. What did The Watcher see that made him a target? And it’s only a matter of time before more bodies start popping up…