10 Things to be Learned from Marvel Comics’ February Solicitations

The February Solicitations for Marvel Comics have been released and we can now get a good feel of what Marvel Now! will be bringing to the table. Just from this month’s selection alone, it looks like Marvel Now! will be anything but expected.

1. Marvel Movie Invasion. The new Secret Avengers book will be led by the likes of Nick Fury Jr. and Agent Phil Coulson. Who is Nick Fury Jr? Well he’s Nick Fury’s secret son who strangely looks like Ultimate Nick Fury and Samuel L. Jackson. Then he loses an eye and looks exactly like Nick Fury. So the movie Fury is now the main Marvel Fury and Agent Coulson is here too. It’s pretty obvious that Marvel is pushing their movie properties into their comic books, but are they pushing a little too hard?

There is also the Avengers Assemble book, which chronicles the adventures of the movie Avengers. The book is supposed to be set in continuity, but there is really no telling how. Whether this book takes place in the past, with some other Avengers team with this lineup or completely outside of continuity, this book’s main focus is advertising the Avengers in the movie. I suppose that’s the exact point. Take Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye and throw them into the Marvel Comics Universe filled with all the heroes and villains they could want.

They’re also advertising the Prelude to Iron Man 3 and an adaptation of Thor (do people actually buy these things?) so it’s obvious Marvel wants to milk their success for all they can. I wouldn’t be surprised if they designated a universe in the Marvel Multiverse dedicated to their movies so they could play with those stories all they want. It’s probably only a matter of time before they have an ongoing S.H.I.E.L.D. book starring the partially announced cast of the TV show. That would sell, but stuff like this needs it’s own section of the publishing arm to sit around, otherwise it will start taking up space and might even confuse the readers! The humanity!

2. Crossovers! Right away in the first few months of Marvel Now! it seems Marvel is completely ok with crossing over their titles. They might not be actual crossovers, but they’re taking panel space away from their ongoing cast. Avenging Spider-Man teams the Superior Spider-Man with the Future Foundation, Legion in X-Men: Legacy with Wolverine’s school, and Journey into Mystery, starring Sif, with Superior Spider-Man also. Just the second issue of Young Avengers features the Uncanny Avengers. A crossover in the second issue of a book seems a little out of order. We’re just getting to know who these characters are and then new characters are introduced.

Obviously, these crossovers are intended for people who know what’s going on in the Marvel world, but might not be picking up those other titles. It’s great advertising. The problem is that crossovers can disturb the flow of the writer’s narrative and the first storyline could end up suffering. Usually publishers wait for new books to finish at least the first storyline before they start decreeing editorial mandates (ok, no they don’t, but still!)

Marvel seems to be pushing hard with the idea of this interconnected universe. Many of their titles have existed in their own corner for a long time. The X-Men have been ingested into the mainstream Marvel Universe, so readers will now be hit over the head with their All-New All-Different approach to continuity.heir first storyline before they start to cross them over with other titles. Marvel isn’t doing that. They didn’t exactly start their universe from square one, like DC did, so it’s not a brand new universe, but things still need to be established before these titles can become interconnected.Not even DC has followed this idea though, and their trespasses have been worse.

3. The Superior Age Continues. The mystery of the Superior Spider-Man has still not been answered. According to Superior Spider-Man #3, he might be a friend of J. Jonah Jameson. If Jameson is a fan of him, that means he must know who this Spider-Man is and it can’t be Peter Parker. Unless Peter is just making it look like he’s the new Spider-Man, and that other jerk is long gone. However, Avenging Spider-Man #17 seems to affirm the idea that this is indeed a new person. The solicitation tells us that he doesn’t like kids.

Another question has also been raised. How effective is the Superior Spider-Man. It was claimed that this Spider-Man was more ruthless and violent than the last, making him ‘Superior’ to the Amazing Spider-Man. In SSM #4 it states that Peter Parker promised that he would never let the villain Massacre kill again, but it also says that this new Spider-Man could never live up to that promise. It sounded like Peter was ready to do whatever it took to save lives, even if it meant killing the villain in the process. If the Superior Spider-Man is supposed to be the more violent one, how can he not be able to do his job? He’s the one that’s supposed to be ok with killing, so everyone should be safe. Maybe this solicitation is off-base and simply trying to drum up interest, but it seems to go directly against how Dan Slott has described him. Not that I would take Slott at his word, but it just doesn’t seem like it fits. I was expecting a more vicious Spider-Man, but are we really just getting a more inexperienced one claiming that they’re ‘Superior’? It sounds like this Spider-Man might not be very likable.

4. Iron Patriot is Everywhere. Not just a part of the movie invasion, considering he was a comic book character first, the Iron Patriot armor is everywhere now. It’s seen on the cover of Secret Avengers #1, but not mentioned in the description and he’s going to be appearing in Ultimate Comics Ultimates.

The Iron Patriot was Norman Obsorn’s Iron Man/Captain America hybrid identity when he was the leader of the Dark Avengers. Clearly the citizens of comic book America never learn that supervillains never stop being supervillains. James Rhodes, usually known as War Machine, will be donning the armor in Iron Man 3. He will most certainly be wearing it in the comic books as well, which makes me wonder about the future of the War Machine identity. The armor will also be in the Ultimate Universe and whoever’s supposed to be wearing that is still a mystery. He’s fighting Captain America in a comic book that also talks about a HYDRA insurgency getting stronger. He probably won’t be a good guy.

5. World Building. Marvel Now looks to be putting a real emphasis on world building. New characters, updated characters, whatever it might be, it’s something new. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #20 is introducing a new Venom, one that has a mysterious connection to Miles Morales’ father. The new Nova, Sam Alexander, stars in a new Nova series and reshapes the concept for a new audience. A new Captain Universe is being introduced in Avengers #6 and Uncanny Avengers gains a new member in February, known as Smasher. Winter Soldier, Captain America, Ultimate Comics X-Men, and Fearless Defenders all advertise new, never before seen villains.

It’s good to bring in new ideas, characters and concepts every once in awhile to spice things up. You can just rehash them same villains over and over again and sometimes it’s a good idea to get a new hero in every once in awhile. At one point or another every comic book character was a new idea, so the marriage to stagnant creativeness is really head scratching. Part of the reason DC Comics rebooted their universe was to let creators create once again. New ideas, new characters. It’s good to see Marvel is following the initiative. It’s sad that it has to be an initiative for it to happen, but it’s better than nothing. So far it seems the New 52 has only hit a very small percentage of their offerings out of the park. Maybe Marvel can do better.

6. Cyclops is Out and About. Uncanny X-Men, the title now challenging All-New X-Men as the flagship X-Men title will follow Cyclops in his mission to unify the mutant population. Now that new mutants exist again, Scott and his visionaries, Emma Frost, Magneto and Magik, are out to find them and bring them over to their side. What they stand for is still a mystery as the title will try to decipher whether cyclops is a visionary or a terrorist. Now a fugitive, Cyclops will have to remain in the shadows for the time being.

It’s really interesting the way they’re playing Scott right now. He has been falling deeper and deeper into this pit for the last few years and now he has transformed into something different. He was always the one who believed in Professor Xavier’s dream the most and now he will do everything in his power to make it come true. But, as Magneto so eloquently put it in Avengers vs. X-Men, “you’re sounding like me.” Cyclops has gone from the Machiavellian leader to a full on terrorist, believing that killing would be the only way to make the world safe for mutant-kind. After being broken out of jail by Magneto and the gang, it sounds like there’s a new Brotherhood and Cyclops is in control.

I was hoping that after hitting rock bottom Cyclops would see what he had become and make a correction. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Is there any hope for him at this point? Apparently the next step is to bring his past self to the future and make him see how wrong he has become. Perhaps with him out in the world now Scott will do something good, but he’s acknowledged the legitimacy of Wolverine’s school and now he’s broken from the ranks. He’s going to start a revolution.

7. The End of the X-Men is Here. At least in X-Men. Issue #41 will be the final installment of Storm’s X-Men team as she is set to join the new Uncanny X-Force alongside Psylocke. However, the final issue’s description states that she is putting together a new team so she can start anew. Will there be a new X-Men book to pick up where Storm leaves it? There is also talk that Angel might challenge her for leadership of the group. Angel, founding X-Men member, ex-turned evil guy, now with no memories of his past. How can he lead a team, unless he’s going to pick up his game.

X-Men never really seemed to have a place in the world of X-Men. The book was basically conceived as an X-Men team-up book where they could interact with the rest of the Marvel Universe. They teamed up with Spider-Man and the Future Foundation, before eventually dropping that premise. Following the Schism event, where Cyclops and Wolverine split the team in half, X-Men became a security team led by Storm to take out potential threats to mutant-kind. A small elite task force to investigate potential threats and snuff them out? That kind of sounds a lot like Uncanny X-Force to me. I guess they were supposed to be Cyclops’ X-Force, but it still seemed like an excuse to get a bunch of mutants together and hit things.

If X-Men is indeed relaunched, or this new team Storm creates is followed somewhere else, what will be their purpose? It seems that the ‘official’ X-Men don’t really have an X-team anymore. Uncanny X-Men follows the outcasted Cyclops, Wolverine and the X-Men is primarily about the school, and All-New X-Men follows the time travelling original X-Men. Can Marvel support yet another X-Men team and still not oversaturate the market? Maybe. Only if they have a clear defined purpose for this team. New Mutants is gone now, so there is still an opening for a new book with a new purpose.

8. Powers Returns! The long running and ever moving series by the thrice named team of Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming is back with a new volume. Powers: Bureau, the fourth volume of the series, and the third with Marvel’s Icon imprint after moving from Image in 2004, starts in February and picks up where the previous volume left off. Pilgrim and Walker now work for the FBI, who took over all powers-related cases at the end of the last book.

It’s nice to see Powers staying in the spotlight even though Brian Michael Bendis is currently writing six different titles for Marvel. How does he have the time? It’s also good to see the property stay strong even after all the confusion surrounding the Powers tv show. The pilot was filmed, scenes were reshot, actors were released and still there’s not definitive show coming up. Over a year later after filming started and were still no closer to seeing the FX show. As long as the creators keep creating, Powers will continue to get attention.

9. Trading Wait No More. Marvel is advertising the collected volume of the brand new series All-New X-Men 1-5. Already. As in the series just premiered November 15th with its first issue. That has to be recording setting. Companies traditionally wait around six month to release the collected edition of a series, but here Marvel is only waiting two months to at least advertise it. No release date is listed, so the graphic novel could still come out in another six months, but just the fact that they’re putting it out there so fast makes it eye catching.

Lets say Marvel is planning on releasing All-New X-Men Vol. 1 Here Comes Yesterday in February or even March. That means they would be running on a two issue lead for the book with issue #7. That’s crazy. Chances are that it will still be a few months before the book is released. Marvel is also soliciting Daredevil by Mark Waid Vol. 4, which collects issues 16-21, with issue #23 coming out in February. Then there’s Gambit Vol. 1 Once A Thief…, collecting 1-7, with #9 now being solicited. Scarlet Spider is actually advertising a book filled with issues that haven’t even been released yet. Scarlet Spider Vol. 2 Lone Star claims to collect issue #15, which hasn’t even been solicited yet! Obviously these titles aren’t coming out in February, but the early advertisement is pushing the issue to the forefront. How long until these books are actually released two months after the last issue is in stores.

DC Comics tends to have a much better and more coherent graphic novel program. They publish more collections, but they seem to be in no rush to get the book out there. Marvel likes to play it fast and loose and just throw titles out there. How long before the comic book stores start to complain that no one is buying back issues because the trade is out in bookstores two months later? It could get messy. Especially when they just decided to release digital comics a day early without even telling anyone about it.

10. Dexter is Here. Dexter will be getting his own comic book. It’s been a long time coming, originally announced at the 2011 New York Comic Con, the book will finally see stores in February. The five issue mini-series will be written by the creator of Dexter, Jeff Lindsay, and drawn by Dalibor Talajic.

The comic is an original story, not an adaptation of one of Lindsay’s novels. The team looks to expand the mythos of Dexter and continue the tone of the show. Dexter has to deal with the a rookie serial killer going after Miami police officers called the Skid Row Slasher. He also finds time to attend his high school reunion. That should be fun to see.

Might this lead to more licensed comic books for Marvel? This could just be a one time thing, or it could be the start of a whole new series if the book proves popular enough. Licensed properties are plentiful in comic books, so it could be interesting to see Marvel throw itself into that mix. 

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