New Titles: Uncanny X-Men, Fearless Defenders, Alpha; Hellblazer Ends, Constantine Begins

Just when you thought there was a severe lack of X-Men books, Marvel has satiated your appetite for X-books. Joining Marvel Now!’s line-wide relaunch is the third volume of Uncanny X-Men with Brian Michael Bendis as writer and Chris Bachalo on art.

Bachalo is leaving Wolverine and the X-Men in order to launch the new book. He states that he’s redesigned everyone and the series will take on a darker tone than previously seen, especially compared to his work on Wolverine and the X-Men. With the appearance of Cyclops and Magneto it looks like this title will be following where the previous Uncanny X-Men left off. Following the events of Avengers vs. X-Men, Cyclops has been locked up and Magneto is on the run, so look for those story lines to converge in this new title. Perhaps the book will show the redemption of Cyclops after his steady fall from grace over the last few years hit rock bottom when he accidentally killed Charles Xavier. Thanks again PhoenixUncanny X-Men premiers in February with two issues and joins a slew of X-titles, like X-Men: Legacy, Wolverine and the X-Men, All-New X-Men, X-Men, Astonishing X-Men, Uncanny X-Force, Cable and X-Force, Uncanny Avengers, Gambit, and finally, Savage Wolverine.

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Also from Marvel is the new title Fearless Defenders, brought to you by the team of Cullen Bunn (The Sixth Gun, Venom) and Marvel newbie Will Sliney. This new ongoing is somewhat of a follow up to Bunn’s Fear Itself: The Fearless. The story focuses on Valkyrie being assigned to recruit a new group of Shield Maidens from Midgard, instead of Asgard. Because of this she is unable to deem anyone worthy enough and the team is never created. She meets Misty Knight of Heroes for Hire and the two create a partnership.

Instead of focusing on the team, the book will focus on Valkyrie and Misty Knight putting together the team. Bunn says that the full team won’t be put into place by the end of the first story arc, instead it will be an ongoing theme for awhile. The first new member will be Dani Moonstar from the pages of New Mutants.

The books seems to bring several Marvel properties under one roof in order to create one strong book. Valkyrie from Thor + Heroes for Hire + New Mutants + The Defenders = Marvel’s news All-Female team. Fearless Defenders debuts in February 2013.

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A new five issue mini-series starring everyone’s least favorite Spider-Man sidekick, Alpha, is coming to a comic book store near you. After accidentally receiving amass amount of power from Peter Parker, the irresponsible sidekick was de-powered and sent packing. Joshua Hale Fialkov (I,Vampire) and artist Nuno Plati (Ultimate Spider-Man) pickup on Andy Maguire’s life after the events of the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man #700. Andy still has some power, but he’s been sent to live in Pittsburgh.

The series will focus on Andy’s motivations and how he deals with having the powers of a god and then having them scaled back. It seems that Marvel is attempting to make the previously unpopular character likable. He also has to constantly travel back to New York so Peter Parker can monitor his power levels. This seemingly disproves the rumor that Alpha will be the Superior Spider-Man and that Peter Parker is going to die. Whoever ends up being the new Spider-Man, at least we know who it won’t be.

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The unthinkable has happened. Longtime Vertigo title Hellblazer has been cancelled in order to make way for a new Constantine book set in the New 52. Fans are livid. When John Constantine was originally reintroduced back into the DC Universe at the end of Brightest Day, DC assured Vertigo fans that the Hellblazer title would not be affected by the move. John Constantine has been starring in Justice League Dark since the reboot in 2011 and all has been well in his Vertigo adventures. Now it looks like DC is going back on their word and ending Hellblazer with issue #300.

The end of an era

Hellblazer was the last remaining title of the original Vertigo lineup, which once included the likes of Swamp Thing, Sandman,  Animal Man, Black Orchid and Shade, The Changing Man. Swamp Thing and Animal Man have been featured heavily in the New 52 universe with their own titles, while Shade and Black Orchid are members of Justice League Dark. It seemed only natural that John Constantine would make the same move. However, the implications are even greater in the face of Vertigo’s future.

The imprint  seems to have dropped it’s connection to ‘old’ Vertigo, dumping all their properties into Justice League Dark, and, besides Sandman, will only be harboring creator owned work. With DC tightening their contract terms with potential creators, it seems that Vertigo’s reigns are being yanked by the businessmen. People are concerned that Sandman might be the next property to move into the DC Universe, or that Vertigo’s autonomy is being stripped so that they only publish ‘DC talent’. The long running Fables and the upcoming Sandman prequel could be the only titles keeping Vertigo in business at this point.

Longtime fans of Hellblazer are unhappy because the title has consistently dealt with mature issues with adult content for 25 years. John Constantine in the DCnU, by necessity, is a watered down version of the character that has been allowed to age in real time over the years. The John Constantine as we’ve come to know is coming to an end in February to make way for the new DC title in March. Peter Milligan will be giving him his send off along with Giuseppe Camuncoli and Stefano Landini. Robert Venditti (The SurrogatesX-O Manowar at Valiant) and Renato Guedes (Superman) will be bringing the character’s solo adventures into DCU proper, whether you like it or not.

Clearly, it would have been too confusing to have two separate titles with two completely different names that barely star the same character. Who knows how Batman fans can manage.

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