Welcome to Comical Musings. You will notice that we are in a different place and that we sold our “-” to pay for domain space. Thanks for continuing to read and beginning to converse with us. Comic books are an ever-changing landscape and we are rarely at the forefront of news, but we certainly have strong opinions about what is going on. Romeo Sid Vicious has been inundated with the Image renaissance, Jim Tenkins has been getting re-acquainted with comics, and Hal is ready to take up permanent residence in the pages of DC Comics’ Earth 2. We are all trying things that are a little different as lots of things are getting collected, we are seeking to avoid complacency, and the economy is rebounding a little bit. It’s a simple fact that no one in The Writer’s Blok has been actively forsaking their wheelhouse more than me.
I am typically a Marvel Zombie, preferring Ultimate things and various books that start with “X” or end in “Avengers,” but lately a lot of it has felt stale to me. Sure, Ultimate Comics The Ultimates has had some interesting plot developments that Jonathan Hickman has crafted, but it is no competition for the weekly dose of crazy that I get from Manhattan Projects. Wolverine and The X-Men has become a little too involved in Avengers Vs. X-Men (I forgive them because it was inevitable) and I am getting a lot of Phoenix Force 5 (copyright Ron Richards) when all that I want is Doop. Even Jason Aaron’s comic book about the Hulk desperately striving to stay angry while passing out and waking up in new situations constantly doesn’t hold a candle to the simple elegance that I can find in a gun drawn by Nic Klein in the Image series, Dancer.
It’s sad to say that although I keep reading, Marvel just ain’t doing it for me anymore. Very little that Marvel puts out is bad and that’s why I still read a bit of it, but when all is said and done, it’s not really exciting. I’d rather see Jonathan Hickman writing “Secret” at Image than Fantastic Four at Marvel. He has built an absolutely rock-solid dynasty out of the previously floundering Fantastic Four and I can’t argue with success…I’m just not that interested. Brian Michael Bendis has been writing Avengers and Ultimate Spider-Man in enjoyable ways for years! Characters have swapped in and out and he has successfully killed Spider-Man and passed the mantle, but it never seemed challenging to him. Rick Remender has built his way up from nothing to a powerhouse writer. His strong writing on Venom and Uncanny X-Force have built his reputation slowly and prove to be one of the bright spots in Marvel Comics’ lineup of books. All three of these creators are very important to present Marvel successes and are even more important to future Marvel projects. This is because in October, Marvel Comics is launching Marvel NOW!
“This ain’t no reboot, it’s a new beginning” said Marvel Editor in Chief Axel Alonso, of Marvel NOW! When we look at Marvel NOW! it must be understood that Marvel is going to re-issue number one issues and shake things up after Avengers Vs. X-Men. Marvel comics can see the obvious benefit in putting out new number one issues. It’s not hard to glance at the sales numbers of their competition from when DC Comics rebooted their whole company last year. Their sales numbers skyrocketed, albeit briefly, and have still held moderate growth. All of these things equal out to success in the comic book industry. By putting out a slew of number one issues with interesting creative teams, Marvel is hoping to capitalize on the same kind of success that DC Comics received, but without having to do away with their time-honored history. The idea that there will be a new status quo is one that is offered every time a crossover event occurs and is a hard promise to keep. It seems like with Marvel NOW! Marvel is looking to put their money where their mouth is.
Shake ups are always popular. When Peyton Manning was released by the Indianapolis Colts and subsequently signed by the Denver Broncos, it was no surprise that his orange and blue, number 18 jersey was the highest seller across the market. Much like sports stars switching teams, a character shake up in comic books can drive up interest and sales in one fell swoop. It’s cool to see characters that we haven’t seen flourish in a while like Cable. It’s impossible to get past the drastic costume changes that Cyclops, Iron Man, and The Hulk have received and it leaves me wondering what their tales will eventually tell. Even something as simple as seeing Sue Storm included with these heavy hitters fills me with anticipation as I hope that she is coming into her own as the real power house that she should be. An image can get people riled up, and this one certainly has, but Marvel NOW! seems to be trying to do something really interesting.
The three titles that have been teased are Uncanny Avengers, Avengers, and All New X-Men. The team lineups are promising a great deal of co-mingling post-Avengers Vs. X-Men. We will see mutants on the Avengers and that is very exciting. Much like when Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch joined the Avengers in 1965, there is an unknown quantity and kinetic energy to new alliances being made. Ifanboy.com‘s staff writer Jim Mroczkowski described it perfectly in his article concerning Marvel NOW! when he said: “this Uncanny Avengers stuff, where it looks like all the teams have been shaken up like a Pepsi in a dryer. What does a conversation between Thor and Rogue sound like? Have Captain America and Havok even met before? Everybody’s getting new lockers and making new friends.”
If you ask me, Havok joining the Uncanny Avengers and getting his fair shake is far less interesting than seeing Rick Remender get a marquee book and get his fair shake. Seeing Jean Grey come back to the X-Men is not nearly as exciting as seeing an established writer like Brian Michael Bendis walk into new territory by doing an exclusively X-Men book for the first time. Even Hickman, who I prefer to engage in passionate adultery on Marvel through his Image comics, is going to ignite the pages of Avengers with what he calls a cast of “18 or more” engaging in “galaxy spanning multi-issue arcs.” The creator shuffling on Marvel NOW! suggests that it is going to be freaking great. I mean, the characters will be there doing stuff, but I can not wait to see established writers on established properties that they have rarely or never worked with. Don’t even get me started on artists because John Cassaday (Uncanny Avengers), Jerome Opena (Avengers), and Stuart “freaking” Immonen (All New X-Men) are going to be drawing these books and making dreams come true. The creators involved with this thing should put it over the top and provide the sales numbers they want and then the fresh start of new number ones and status quo changes should just be icing on the cake.
In summation, I am really excited to see how many titles get changed up, how drastic the changes are, and how long it stays changed. How Marvel answers these questions will largely determine my participation in their event. I hope that it revolutionizes Marvel’s input into the comic book zeitgeist and goes far beyond cool teaser pictures of Rocket Raccoon with a machine gun.
~ Scott Deaux ~