– In advance of the WonderCon convention in Anaheim, CA this weekend, Marvel has announced plans for the return of CAPTAIN MARVEL in July 2012. The character was already shown on the cover of May’s SECRET AVENGERS #27 but this appears to be another attempt to revive that franchise (http://www.newsarama.com/comics/captain-marvel-wondercon-teaser.html). Fans with long memories might remember that Marvel made these noises with Capt. Marvel before, back in 2007-2008. The character seemingly returned in a one-shot called CIVIL WAR: THE RETURN, which was released on the heels of the titular event from 2006-2007 and written by Paul Jenkins. He then appeared in a six issue mini series by writer Brian Reed and artist Lee Weeks in 2008-2009, where it was revealed that the seemingly revived Mar-Vell was a Skrull sleeper agent who merely believed he was Mar-Vell very strongly, in advance of his species’ invasion in SECRET INVASION. This Skrull version subsequently died and inspired Noh-Varr, a Kree from another dimension, to take up the mantle (although he eventually dubbed himself Protector). Captain Marvel, or Mar-Vell, is an odd character for Marvel to attempt to revive. For obvious reasons the company would like to see a hero who bares their name back in circulation; however, he was killed off in 1984, before many of their current readers were reading comics (or reading, period). It is possible that Protector, who currently appears in AVENGERS under writer Brian M. Bendis, could be shifted onto his own series written or initially co-written by Bendis in the summer, since Bendis is leaving his Avengers titles behind (and MOON KNIGHT was canned). Bleeding Cool has suggested a rumor that this new CAPTAIN MARVEL title will instead star Carol Danvers, who has been the heroine Ms. Marvel since the 1970’s with Kelly Sue DeConnick (X-23, BLACK WIDOW, ASTONISHING X-MEN) at the helm (http://www.bleedingcool.com/2012/03/12/kelly-sue-deconnick-reinvent-ms-marvel-as-captain-marvel/). Formerly, the last female version of Capt. Marvel was Monica Rambeau, a former Avenger who was last seen in NEXTWAVE under the alias of Photon. Unlike Mar-Vell, Ms. Marvel has appeared incessantly in Marvel Comics within the last 30 years, and has been promoted more so since 2004; her last ongoing series written by Brian Reed was one of few volumes of a series to last 50 issues in the post-bankruptcy era. While DC Comics is hardly seen as the beacon of gender equality, they are still a company which sees fit to have at least a half dozen comics starring female characters, while Marvel currently have none. Ms. Marvel is set to debut in the second season of “AVENGERS: EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES” starting in April on DISNEY XD. Some have even claimed that Ms. Marvel is the company’s closest match to DC’s Wonder Woman, as a heroine who didn’t originate on a team (unlike Invisible Woman, Storm, or Scarlet Witch) who is also on her world’s premiere superhero team atop of a solo career – and also has abilities such as flight and super-strength. While the name of “Ms. Marvel” being attached to Mar-Vell’s former supporting character was timely in the 1970’s era of female empowerment, nowadays Danvers has become more well known than Mar-Vell himself, and it may be time to have her finally don the moniker. If Ms. Marvel is the rare example of a “female version of a male hero” who has actually outlasted her male counterpart and become more well known, then this could be a way to finally take that to a natural conclusion.
– Marvel has promoted June’s ASTONISHING X-MEN #51 by Majorie Liu and artist Mike Perkins with a teaser image which seemed similar to a wedding invitation – “SAVE THE DATE” (http://marvel.com/news/story/18250/save_the_date_june_2012). Speculation is unknown; Liu’s roster on the book includes Wolverine, Gambit, Karma, Iceman, and Northstar. Given that the first on panel kiss in seven years for Hulkling and Wiccan garnered more internet attention for the finale of AVENGERS: THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE than the story itself ever did (http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2012/03/after-nearly-seven-years-hulkling-and-wiccan-finally-kiss/), an easy bet that Northstar may be tying the knot with his lover Kyle from the recent ALPHA FLIGHT mini series.
– Back at the start of February, Marvel teased a comic which was coming in June called SPIDER-MEN. This week, it was learned that the creative team for it would be Brian M. Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli – the same creative team which launched the latest volume of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN that introduced Mile Morales to that alternate universe (http://www.newsarama.com/comics/spider-men-bendis-pichelli.html). All that is known is that this will be an ongoing series and not an arc from a series already in progress, and that it will feature two characters called Spider-Man. Will it be another Ultimate title with Miles teaming up with a revived Peter Parker (he was shot and killed in that universe), or a clone? Or will it be a strange crossover between Miles from the Ultimate universe and the traditional Spider-Man from “Marvel 616”? Years ago, then editor in chief Joe Quesada used to deny in endless interviews both online and in WIZARD magazine that Marvel would NEVER have a cross-reality crossover between Ultimate and the “traditional” Marvel Universe unless, to paraphrase, “they ran out of ideas”. Technically that already happened, as the MARVEL ZOMBIES franchise initially was a spin off from an arc on ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR. Granted, there are other possibilities – a return of Spider-Man 2099, or even a use of one of the two characters in circulation going by Scarlet Spider. A reality shattering team up series with Miles and “traditional” Peter Parker regardless of prior promises or sense would sell comics, even if it would clash with AVENGING SPIDER-MAN, which is ALSO Spider-Man’s “team up” series. Thus, Spider-Man may soon have a core series that ships twice a month (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN), two spin off titles (VENOM and SCARLET SPIDER), and two team-up series (AVENGING SPIDER-MAN and SPIDER-MEN). Is it 1994 again?
– At the SWSX convention, Marvel revealed their new digital comics initiative. Dubbed “Marvel ReEvolution” (spell check doesn’t exist in corporate speak), starting in April, two new digital platforms will be released – INFINITE COMICS and MARVEL AR (http://www.newsarama.com/comics/marvel-digital-infinite-comics.html). Infinite Comics is a drive to produce comics exclusively for tablets and digital devices, rather than scanning in printed pages and shrinking them down to those sizes. The first of these digital-geared comics is AVENGERS VS. X-MEN INFINITE #1, written by Mark Waid and drawn by Stuart Immonen and Marte Garcia. It is intended to run alongside AVENGERS VS. X-MEN (and AVX: VERSUS) and feature Sam Washington, the new incarnation of Nova introduced by Jeph Loeb in POINT ONE #1. It is available for .99 cents as a digital purchase, or is free with a code from a purchased issue of AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #1. Waid made sure to note that this was different from Marvel’s previous “motion comics” effort, but a more updated attempt to create a comic book experience exclusively for the digital audience to capitalize on the technology they are reading it on. Marvel AR is a new application for reading and buying Marvel digital comics which “enhances” them beyond the print versions, as well as providing DVD style “extras” for comics if one scans a code from a tablet device from a comic (http://www.comicsbeat.com/2012/03/11/marvel-at-swsx-digital-only-comics-new-browser/). In related news, starting in April, all of Marvel’s comics priced at $3.99 will include a digital code to allow readers to download a digital copy of that comic for free; this is similar to what DVD’s have offered for years (http://www.comicsbeat.com/2012/03/09/marvel-to-include-digital-copy-with-all-3-99-comics/). This program was originally done with Marvel’s ULTIMATE line and apparently proven successful – at least as a means to claiming extra value for the higher cover price for little cost to Marvel.
– Marvel quietly announced to retailers that beginning in April, the covers to Marvel comics will no longer be made of thicker quality paper as the interior pages and instead will be made with the same type of paper as the interiors (http://www.comicsbeat.com/2012/03/09/marvel-does-more-cost-cutting-changing-cover-stock-for-2-99-titles-in-april/). The term is called a “self-cover”, and it is actually something Image Comics has been doing for some time. It appears minor, but it is a method of trimming some costs in production of comics. This won’t bring down the cover prices any, merely trim production costs for Marvel. Perhaps the worry over rising costs is why Marvel is seeking to encourage more and more readers to go digital?
– In another sign of Marvel trimming the fat, their attempted revival of the CROSSGEN imprint they purchased at the start of the century is officially over. Tom Brevoort (Marvel’s second in command in the editorial circles) admitted online that plans to relaunch former CrossGen comics ROUTE 666 and KISS KISS BANG BANG have been shelved (http://blog.newsarama.com/2012/03/07/kiss-kiss-bang-bang-and-route-666-shelved-at-marvel/). Last year, Marvel launched two four issue mini series for SIGIL, RUSE and MYSTIC, which were well reviewed but sold very poorly (MYSTIC #4 sold only 6,000 copies in North America). The CrossGen line started in 1998 and ended in 2004, when Disney purchased the imprint for $1 million and virtually all of the creators involved went on to work on Marvel Comics since. It was once imagined that CrossGen could have been Marvel’s answer to DC’s Vertigo line, offering comics from different genres than traditional superhero comics (besides creator-owned ICON comics). This continues Marvel’s current course of relying on “safe bet” franchises via over-publishing them while trying less “riskier” things. Artwork had been produced for these books – to have been written by Tony Bedard and drawn by Mike Perkins and Karl Moline – but apparently it was considered to be more cost effective to eat the costs on that.
Last Week’s Marvel Comics News – http://nextooze.com/comic-books-in-new-york/marvel-comics-news-3-7-12-hickman-leaves-fan-four-new-nova-revealed-avengers
This Week’s DC Comics News – http://nextooze.com/comic-books-in-new-york/dc-comics-news-3-13-12-dc-s-new-site-amy-reeder-off-batwoman-digital-sales
This Week’s Indie Comics News – http://nextooze.com/comic-books-in-new-york/indie-comics-news-3-13-12-summer-of-valiant-artist-moebius-dies-the-voyeurs