– In a week in which the big story across the comic book world is that DC’s JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 sold 200k worldwide (roughly 180k in the North American direct market, at least in August not including reprints) and in which nine other titles may be selling 100k this month already, Marvel’s biggest promotional news is…that Cable is returning to life in December. This was already revealed at the San Diego Comic Convention at the end of July, with the creative team of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness (the duo behind HULK and SUPERMAN/BATMAN) at the helm (http://knotmove.com/comic-books-in-new-york/marvel-comics-news-7-26-11-the-san-diego-comic-con-2011-round-up). However, this week an image of the Avengers signal caught in the crosshairs (which looked like an X) was released – only for it later to be revealed as being called AVENGERS: X-SANCTION, which is apparently the renamed and re-thought CABLE REBORN from July. Is it possible that Marvel and Loeb re-assembled and realized they’d need the Avengers to get Cable to compete with the New 52 at the end of the year, or is all this just happy coincidence? After all, Marvel have changed the titles of stories on the fly to try to make it sell better: see ARCADE: DEATH GAME, or AVENGERS ACADEMY GIANT-SIZE #1. At Marvel’s “Next Big Thing” conference call, Loeb (writer and Marvel TV czar) as well as Tom Brevoort (SVP of Publishing) and Arune Singh (Director of Communications) laid out the agenda for AVENGERS: X-SANCTION (http://www.newsarama.com/comics/marvel-avengers-project-live-110913.html). The obvious is that Cable will be returning to the land of the living barely 18 months after being killed off in last year’s X-Men event, SECOND COMING. Loeb claims that the Avengers become involved because he sees Cable as “the Captain America of the X-Universe”. For a unrevealed reason, Cable sees them as a threat to Hope, his adoptive daughter from the future who he raised and is now a key component in various X-Men subplots (the X-Men need Hope to personally “activate” potential new mutant powers, since 2005’s “M-Day” rendered them inert). The character is compared to “COMMANDO” and “TERMINATOR”, which were obvious inspirations when Rob Liefield co-created the character in the late 1980’s. Because Iron Man is a “futurist” who also knows what it is like to live with machines in (or on) his body, he may have a unique angle on Cable as an adversary – and vice versa. A cynic could claim that this is exactly how Loeb chose to introduce Red Hulk in HULK; have him show up and jolly-stomp no end of characters he probably had no right to in order to “look cool”, with critical plot explanations not coming for about two years and change. Loeb notes that this series does allow him to go home again, as CABLE was the first monthly comic series he wrote for Marvel. Loeb also noted that AVENGERS: X-SANCTION would differ from HULK because Cable is “a very different character” and that “This is a very intimate and immediate story that has a beginning, a middle and an end, and a definite arc for who Cable is, not just now, but for the future, and for our future in the Marvel Universe”. It is amusing to see how the promotional worm has turned. After 10-20 years of investing into the X-Men, often they had to be attached to some big Avengers stories into the 90’s and early 2000’s to get them to sell. Now? Spare X-Men events have to be lumped under the Avengers banner to seem important, after Marvel has invested 6-7 years into that franchise. Despite the fact that Wolverine is an Avenger and he and Cable have not always been on the best of terms, that dynamic was not mentioned at all during the conference call; one can wonder if Cable would be thrilled that Wolverine is now leading X-Force, a team he founded. To a degree, using this to compete against DC’s New 52 is fighting fire with fire. Via many creators and DC’s new editor-in-chief, their New 52 is a series of old 80’s and 90’s talents combining their skills to re-invent a lot of characters along the lines of that era and claim they’re “new” for the 21st century, and who better to compete against that than Cable, who was more 90’s than Vanilla Ice?
– Teased during the SDCC was that the cast of AVENGERS ACADEMY would change and welcome at least one new student to replace whoever leaves the book in issue twenty; it turns out that that new member may be X-23 (http://www.comicsvanguard.com/2011/09/x-23-joins-avengers-academy.html). At the very least, X-23 is the guest star of issue #23, as Cyclops sends her to Hank Pym to try to help her psychologically. Which, like many of Cyclops’ tactical moves of late, is either brilliant or ludicrous. X-23, the cloned “daughter” of Wolverine, was originally created for the “X-MEN EVOLUTION” cartoon series in 2002-2003 by Craig Kyle and Chris Yost, who has immigrated to Marvel comics since, now starring in her own ongoing series. Given that the choices of which Academy cadet was leaving were likely either Reptil, Veil, or Striker, the addition of a female member may suggest it as Veil. The notion of X-23 being added to jazz up sales is folly, as X-23’s own series is selling worse than AVENGERS ACADEMY as of August’s sales figures (by roughly a thousand copies). In additional AVENGERS ACADEMY news, the modest boost of roughly 1300 readers that the title gained due to initial FEAR ITSELF crossover tie-in has apparently endured longer than for some other books, which suggests that at least some of the few people who bought it for the event liked it, for now (http://www.comichron.com/monthlycomicssales/2011/2011-08.html).
– Marvel have released three trailers for upcoming issues of ALPHA FLIGHT, which was originally an 8 issue mini series which was made into an ongoing series based on Top 20 sales for its debut issue – a move which seems short-sighted as by issue #3, it’s selling at the bottom of the Top 90. All of the teasers seem to feature AF members fighting each other due to various reasons – Northstar vs. Aurora, Vindicator vs. Guardian, and Wolverine (former member) vs. Guardian (http://www.newsarama.com/comics/alpha-flight-coming-soon-wolverine-110907.html). For the sake of some very embarrassed editors if ALPHA FLIGHT #9 or #10 proves to be the final issue, it’d best work.
– The final series of X-MEN REGENESIS covers have been revealed, which have noted the final members to the eight team slate of X-Men titles (http://www.newsarama.com/comics/x-men-regenesis-choose-teasers-110830.html). Notables include the full rosters of WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN (Wolverine, Shadowcat, Lockheed, Quentin Quire, Beast, and Iceman), UNCANNY X-MEN (Emma Frost, Cyclops, Danger, Magneto, Magik, and Colossus-as-Juggernaut/“Cluggernaut”), X-MEN LEGACY (Rogue, Gambit, Frenzy, Rachel Summers), and X-MEN (Storm, Jubilee, Psylocke, Domino, Warpath). Interestingly, Psylocke is now on two teams at once; X-MEN and UNCANNY X-FORCE. As for X-FACTOR, the only real surprise is that with the addition of Havok and Polaris, Peter David is only one Quicksilver away from having re-assembled his team roster from his run on the title from the 90’s. There are some oddities, of course. Given that Beast left Cyclops’ team over disagreement with his harsh decisions during SECOND COMING, it seems very odd that he’d side with the equaly harsh Wolverine for his own team; in fact, Quire once led a riot at the X-Men that resulted in Beast’s assault. Aside for Quire, the cast of WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN is similar to that of the cartoon of the same name that aired on NickToons from 2009-2010. At any rate, given the X-Universe’s unwillingness to shed itself of the restraint of “M-Day” on their franchise that eliminated the central metaphor (reducing mutants to such numbers that what was once a stand-in for minority relations have now become the New Inhumans, complete with their own isolated base and haughty actions), is this merely shuffling deck chairs on the TITANNIC, or a start of an editorial strategy which will last beyond a year, for once? Stay tuned.
– Lauren Donner, producer of the X-Men films at FOX, sat down to discuss upcoming projects (http://www.superherohype.com/news/articles/168372-lauren-shuler-donner-on-the-future-of-the-x-men-movie-universe). The curious bits involve her speaking of “X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE” and its treatment of Deadpool as something which was done by other people in the dead of night, when in reality she helped produce that 2009 same as the others and ultimately had to approve it all. She seeks to make “THE WOLVERINE” distinct, as well as still planning to have a Ryan Reynolds starring “DEADPOOL” at some point and a sequel to “X-MEN: FIRST CLASS” which may or may not feature Jean and Cyclops. Sequels to prequels of sequels to trilogies. It’s starting to make the STAR WARS universe seem simple and cohesive.
– There are two developments in terms of Spider-Man movie news. On the positive, Rhys Ifans speaks about playing the Lizard in Marc Webb’s “AMAZING SPIDER-MAN” and notes how the character will be a mix of prosthetics, a large body-double and a lot of CGI motion capture animation – the villain is described as “nine feet tall” (http://www.superherohype.com/news/articles/168398-rhys-ifans-on-playing-the-lizard-in-spider-man). In sadder news, Oscar winning actor Cliff Robertson, who played Ben Parker for all three of Sam Raimi’s Spider-films (thanks to a lot of flashbacks), passed away at age 88 of natural causes (http://www.superherohype.com/news/articles/168382-oscar-winner-cliff-robertson-passes-away-at-age-88). He won his Oscar in 1968 for “CHARLY”, which was an adaptation of the story “FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON”.
Last Week’s Marvel Comics News – http://knotmove.com/comic-books-in-new-york/marvel-comics-news-9-6-11-herc-canceled-the-fearless-the-avengers-film-nyc
This Week’s DC Comics News – http://knotmove.com/comic-books-in-new-york/dc-comics-news-9-13-11-new-52-s-epic-print-sales-sorta-good-digital-sales
This Week’s Indie Comics News – http://knotmove.com/comic-books-in-new-york/indie-comics-news-9-12-11-brooklyn-book-festival-comixology-3-0-s-boost-more