– With all comic industry eyes on DC’s New 52, Marvel is focusing on stretching and expanding their own event, FEAR ITSELF, and it’s aftermath to compete; after all, FEAR ITSELF was outselling DC’s FLASHPOINT by a decent margin. To this end, after FEAR ITSELF finally wraps up in October (besides the three “point” issues that debut after #7), writers Matt Fraction, Chris Yost, and Cullen Bunn will unite to helm THE FEARLESS, a 12 part mini series that will ship twice a month, with art by Mark Bagley and Paul Pelletier (http://www.newsarama.com/php/multimedia/album.php?aid=44142). As Marvel revealed in a round table conference call (their “Next Big Thing” call), this series will focus on what happens to the Serpent’s hammers after FEAR ITSELF wraps as well as what happens to the characters they empowered and possessed (http://www.newsarama.com/comics/marvel-next-big-thing-fearless-110902.html). There will be considerable focus on Valkyrie, Crossbones, and Sin (http://i.newsarama.com/images/FI_FEARLESS_TEASER.jpg). Crossbones is a bit interesting as he’s sat out FEAR ITSELF, last seen in prison over in THUNDERBOLTS. At least one of the hammers will be on Utopia (the X-Men’s island for misfit superhumans), one will be underwater and one will be in the FF’s Baxtor Building. There will also be another series called BATTLE SCARS that covers similar ground. Focusing on Valkyrie here is a smart idea, as she is often just muscle in SECRET AVENGERS. The series will feature appearances by many characters across the Marvel Universe, including high profile ones such as Storm and “obscure” ones.
– While Marvel will be publishing a lot of comics in the coming months to compete with DC’s New 52, and they may be giving some series more rope than last year, dwindling sales have caught up with HERC by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lante and Neil Edwards. November’s 10th issue will be the final for the ongoing series. It was one of Marvel’s “stealth cancellations” in that they did not formally announce it, but the notice of it being a final issue was in this month’s PREVIEWS and others circulated the information (http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/08/31/marvel-to-cancel-herc-with-issue-ten/). Sales had fallen below 19,000 copies for some time, and it was perhaps a miracle that HERC is seeing ten issues; it sold about as poorly as SPIDER-GIRL, which was axed at issue eight. Marvel have shown extreme patience with Pak and Van Lente’s saga on Hercules; after INCREDIBLE HERCULES was canceled, they were allowed to continue their saga in three sets of mini-series before getting this second attempt at an ongoing. It is unknown if, like ATLAS, this is the end of the line or if Marvel will allow them another go. Sales for HERC #1 were the strongest for the character in two years, and then promptly nosedived from there; which meant retailers overestimated demand, or readers weren’t impressed. HERC did alter the status quo in which Hercules was stripped of his godly power to become a mortal, human level street hero, and his usual sidekick Amadeus Cho was nowhere to be seen. Also, it was quietly admitted that Pak and Van Lente’s original saga for the character ended in CHAOS WAR last year, and this was perhaps “filler” (or “extra” for optimists). While perhaps not at it’s prime, HERC was an entertaining series and hopefully the two will get to collaborate on the character more in the future. Marvel have kept the two going on Hercules since taking over INCREDIBLE HULK in 2007 during WORLD WAR HULK.
– Marvel have also slowly been revealing more cast members across their line of X-Men titles – all eight of them, which doesn’t even include ASTONISHING X-MEN – as part of their latest reshuffling of the X-Universe in REGENESIS this November (http://www.newsarama.com/comics/x-men-regenesis-choose-teasers-110830.html). Hope and at least 3 of the “Five Lights” join Sebastian Shaw for GENERATION HOPE #13. The cast of X-MEN #20 stands almost complete at Jubilee, Warpath, Psylocke, and Storm. UNCANNY X-MEN #1, which relaunches in November, has a revealed roster of Emma Frost, Colossus (as Juggernaut), Magik, and Danger (with Magneto as an obvious-yet-unrevealed shadow). NEW MUTANTS #33 has regulars such as Warlock, Moonstar, and Sunspot confirmed alongside 90’s cast off X-Man. The most shocking roster news in UNCANNY X-FORCE #19 is that Nightcrawler appears to be back alongside series regulars like Deadpool and (likely) Fantomax. Whether this is the real Nightcrawler or a version from the AGE OF APOCALYPSE alternate reality that the team has visited in recent issues is unknown. Given that the motif of UNCANNY X-FORCE is “the team that likes to kill things” and the AGE OF APOCALYPSE version of Nightcrawler was more willing to do so, odds are it will be him. It was only last summer during the SECOND COMING story that Nightcrawler was killed off, along with Cable. But since Cable has already been confirmed as being “reborn” in a series by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness next year, the fuzzy elf can’t be far behind – he was in a movie, after all. Newest X-Title WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN (for the character and franchise that can’t have enough books), Wolvie is joined by Kitty Pryde, Lockheed, and Iceman of all X-Men. This is very similar to his team from the cartoon of the same name, which stopped running new episodes about two years ago. X-MEN LEGACY #259 reunites Rogue and Gambit, with Frenzy in tow, while X-FACTOR #230 maintains mainstays like Madrox, Shatterstar, Strong Guy, Wolfsbane, M, and Layla Miller, but adds Havok; now all they need is Polaris and Quicksilver, and Peter David will officially have all his old cast members back from the 90’s. Aside for Jason Aaron and Chris Bachelo launching WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN, all of these titles will retain the same creative teams as before (at least in terms of writers).
– Marvel have revealed the cover designs for their SEASON ONE line of original graphic novels, which will feature FANTASTIC FOUR: SEASON ONE by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and David Marquez, X-MEN: SEASON ONE by Dennis Hopeless and Jaime McKelvie, SPIDER-MAN: SEASON ONE by Cullen Bunn and Neil Edwards, and DAREDEVIL: SEASON ONE by Antony Johnston and Wellington Alves (http://www.newsarama.com/php/multimedia/album.php?aid=44156). While Marvel in the past was firm about “no original graphic novels”, they have suddenly been willing to produce these as well as a “CASTLE” graphic novel. Insiders say this is due not only towards the high sales and buzz for DC’s SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE last year, as well as the new option of selling these trades in Disney stores in addition to usual avenues.
– Writer Dennis Hopeless will also be writing a LEGION OF MONSTERS mini series for Marvel in October, teamed with artist Juan Doe (http://www.newsarama.com/comics/legion-of-monsters-dennis-hopeless-110831.html). While the team technically originated in MARVEL PREMIERE #28 in 1976, the incarnation that is being featured is the one used most recently in Rick Remender’s “FRANKEN-CASTLE” story: Morbius the Living Vampire, the Living Mummy, Werewolf-By-Night and Manphibian, alongside Elsa Bloodstone, last seen in NEXTWAVE. The “Legion Of Monsters” have recently united to defend against threats to Monster Island or “Monster Metropolis”, and this time they’re teaming with Elsa (daughter of Ulysses Bloodstone and hunter of monsters) to track down a killer. The angle that not all monsters are evil and a team of them defending against overzealous hunters is interesting. Hopeless is excited that this will be his first work that Marvel readers see in shops before 2012.
– Filming for 2012’s “THE AVENGERS”, directed by Joss Whedon and released by Marvel Studios, commenced this week in New York City (http://www.superherohype.com/news/articles/168344-the-avengers-in-action-on-the-new-york-set). There were scenes shot at Central Park (http://www.superherohype.com/news/articles/168342-the-avengers-assemble-in-central-park) as well as what seemed to be a finale of sorts which featured all of the principle Avengers as well as Loki, who may be the (or “a”) villain for the piece (http://www.superherohype.com/news/articles/168346-photo-of-sundays-set-for-marvels-the-avengers). Designs also show that the Quinjet, the iconic air transport for the team, will also be featured (http://www.superherohype.com/news/articles/168340-first-look-at-the-new-york-avengers-set). The film, which opens on May 4th, 2012, stars Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man/Tony Stark), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Capt. America), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Stellan Skarsgård, Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill), Clarg Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson) and Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury). There is also new promotional art for what is already looking to be one of 2012’s biggest blockbusters (http://www.superherohype.com/news/articles/168318-more-promo-art-for-marvels-the-avengers). Is that the Cosmic Cube on Loki’s staff?
– Despite being left for dead by the departure of their Oscar nominated director, Fox still hopes to get their X-Men spin off film, “THE WOLVERINE” (the sequel to “X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE” but still a prequel to “X-MEN”) in production by next year (http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118042116). Mark Bomback, the writer of “TOTAL RECALL”, has been tapped to rewrite the script. Christopher McQuarrie wrote the original script a couple of years ago. Hugh Jackman is set to reprise his role as Wolverine as well as help produce the film, and the new director is James Mangold, who last worked with Jackman on “KATE AND LEOPOLD”. Given that “X-MEN: FIRST CLASS” managed to perform beyond some expectations this summer, outdoing even Warner Brothers’ “GREEN LANTERN”, Fox will no doubt be encouraged to continue with their X-Men license.
Last Week’s Marvel Comics News – http://knotmove.com/comic-books-in-new-york/marvel-comics-new-8-30-11-disney-sacks-marketing-team-destroyers-fan-expo
This Week’s DC Comics News – http://knotmove.com/comic-books-in-new-york/dc-comics-news-9-6-11-jl-1-sells-out-sets-digital-record-cavill-s-super-suit
This Week’s Indie Comics News – http://knotmove.com/comic-books-in-new-york/indie-comics-news-9-6-11-blair-butler-turnit-com-s-option-magic-tg-comics