When it was announced at the beginning of July, Marvel Comics incoming relaunch Marvel NOW! got people talking even before most of its titles had been announced. While the rolling nature of the publishing initiative means that we still don’t know all the details a month later, CBR News was inspired by our colleague Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter and his reader at Mostly Useless Knowledge to gather all the most recent Marvel NOW! news into one location for reference. Read on below for a full account of what’s known, and return to this space for updates in the weeks ahead.
For starters, one of the most frequent questions Marvel watchers have had about the launch is what exactly qualifies as part of Marvel NOW! As its developed, it’s been apparent that NOW! is less a relaunch of every comic in Marvel’s line and more a relaunch of every marquee franchise making up the core of the Marvel Universe. So while fan-favorite titles like Jeff Parker’s “Hulk” may be rebranding soon as “Red She-Hulk” or while “Journey Into Mystery” will soon welcome new writer Kathyrn Immonen, those books aren’t technically part of the relaunch as they’re supporting series in bigger franchises. The same goes for recent solo launches like Matt Fraction and David Aja’s “Hawkeye” or the currently event-embroiled Ultimate Universe.
“The idea is that you take a great writer and artist that want to work together, give them some great characters and allow them to tell some great stories,” Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso explained to CBR while discussing the creative principals guiding the line. He went on to stress the the relaunch is not a reboot as DC’s New 52 served. “The Marvel Universe is entering into a new era, where among other things the line between mutant superhero and other superheroes might not be as big as it was before.”
The first official Marvel NOW! title to hit the stands on October 3 will be “Uncanny Avengers” by Rick Remender and John Cassaday. Spinning out of the current best-selling event “Avengers Vs. X-Men,” the series will feature a combo team of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Mutants including Captain America, Wolverine, Thor and Havok. Remender spoke with CBR about the comic, saying that the series in part spins from his current “Uncanny X-Force” title. “The events of the ‘Final Execution’ storyline lead directly into the ‘Uncanny Avengers.’ One character in particular, obviously Wolverine, comes out of the storyline very changed. That change leads him into the ‘Uncanny Avengers’ with a new goal in mind.
“Characters that have natural connecting tissue to what ‘Uncanny Avengers’ is all about,” the writer added. “Every member of the team is here for a reason and every member will play a big role. When you read the first issue you’ll see there are natural reasons for the selection of each member. As for Havok, Alex is one of my very favorite characters in the Marvel Universe. Not only is he a great character, but he has a number of very significant reasons for leading this team, if he even accepts the offer.”
Special series will also play a role in the launch of Marvel NOW! including the “AvX” follow up “A+X” – an anthology being branded as part of the relaunch. Each issue of the series will feature two team-up stories each spotlighting a different Avenger and X-Man working side-by-side. The first installment has a Hulk/Wolverine story by Jeph Loeb and Dale Keown as well as a Cable/Captain America tale by Dan Slott and Ron Garney. #2 has Peter David and Mike Del Mundo spinning a story of Iron Man and Kitty Pryde while writer/artist Kaare Andrews tackles Spider-Man and Beast.
In November, the relaunch picks up at a relentless rate with new titles debuting every week. Early in the month comes “All-New X-Men” from Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen. The series will explore the lives of the original five X-Men – Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Beast and Iceman – as they land in the present day and mix it up with the current mutant team and the world their battles have wrought. “The young characters and the current cast of the X-Men share time on the story,” Alonso told CBR TV at Comic-Con International. “And there’s a third entity I’m not allowed to talk about yet that will also share screen time. But the story is really about the effect of these young Lee and Kirby X-Men arriving in the present. It’s both the story of young Jean Grey coming back and wondering why everybody is looking at her so weird, and it’s the story of Logan and Cyclops coming to terms with the fact that this young girl, who they both fell in love with, is now back in some way, shape or form. That’s what I think is going to make for such fascinating stories – dual perspectives on this development.”
Mark Waid and Leinil Yu crash into the relaunch that month with “Indestructible Hulk,” a new ongoing series for Bruce Banner and his alter ego that they hope flips the script on the green goliath just as Waid’s “Daredevil” did for Matt Murdock. “In 1962, Hulk was one of the most unique characters ever in comics because he viewed his powers as a curse, not a blessing. But that point of view is no longer unique — heck, that’s practically the emotional keynote of half the superhero books currently running. So Marvel gave their blessing to morph that attitude into something a little more heroic,” Waid said in a first CBR interview.
Like many Marvel NOW! titles, “Indestructible Hulk” will feature a tweak to the heroes classic design in the form of a new armor, which Yu described saying, “They asked me to hand in designs for the armor, which I thought was refreshing and could open up new story lines and possibilities. An armor to me implies an inherent vulnerability and that in itself is interesting, especially with the title ‘Indestructible’ Hulk.”
The star-spangled Avenger gets his first new creative team in over five years with “Captain America” by Remender and John Romita, Jr. The book takes a wildly different track with Steve Rogers life as Remender explained to iFanboy, “”I don’t want to give away too much, but a big portion of it is Cap dealing with Arnim Zola in Dimension Z. I’m trying to take Zola and do with him, what we did with Apocalypse over in ‘Uncanny X-Force.’ Where we take what’s there, re-imagine it, build a new mythology and really expand Zola, and try and build Zola into a very, very big and important character.
“The other half of it is going to be a lot of flashbacks to a young Steve Rogers growing up in Depression-era Lower East Side, and getting to know his family and his friends, and how this 98-pound weakling became such a tenacious, strong person; focus on the fiber and the integrity of who he is, and really develop that for the first time.”
Tony Stark also sees a new solo series and a new mission as Kieron Gillen and Greg Land take over “Iron Man.” The writer has plans for an all single-issue story run for the first arc. On the other side of the Avengers coin, “Thor: God of Thunder” is the new series for Asgard’s favorite son as crafted by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic.
Matt Fraction expands the family vibe of “Fantastic Four” with artist Mark Bagley while also moving forward with the corporate super science of “FF” with Mike Allred as both books relaunch in November. The former title takes the Richards family, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm on a cosmic road trip while “FF” features a new team back in New York running the Future Foundation which features Ant-Man Scott Lang, She-Hulk, Miss Thing and Medusa. “It’s the first family, and we’re putting family first,” the writer told USA Today in a first interview. “It’s very easy to say, ‘I want to stay true to what Stan and Jack did.’ Well, what Stan and Jack did was invent the entirety of the Marvel Universe in 104 issues…This is the place to be wildly inventive, and I would like to put as many things down on the page as humanly possible and offer up another dose next issue.
The final November books in the relaunch are the first core X-Men titles to get a facelift including “X-Men Legacy” shifting its focus to Professor X’s son Legion under the guidance of Si Spurrior and Tan Eng Huat. “”Let’s be honest: David is one seriously f**ked-up kid,” Spurrier told MTV Geek of his title’s lead. “He’s spent huge amounts of his life in an induced coma because, historically, whenever he’s on his feet and wandering around he tends to make the entire planet crap itself. (That’s right, carnagefans, we’re bringing you an ongoing series about a living, breathing, mutant WMD.)
“So, what’s his goal? There’s obviously a redemptive arc in there, to cover all the horrible collateral damage he’s caused during his messy life. More importantly, there’s the practical consideration of how he can function in the real world without accidentally tearing the universe a new shithole. Again, I can’t say too much about that, but I think we’ve found a way to turn David’s personal torment into a dynamic, intense, relatable struggle.”
Meanwhile, “Deadpool” welcomes the writing team of Gerry Dugan and comedian Brian Posehn with art by Tony Moore.
In December comes a relaunch of the Avengers franchise under the pen of writer Jonathan Hickman. The premier line of the Marvel Universe will now be anchored by “Avengers” – a twice-monthly series with art in the first arc by Jerome Opeña. Other series will continue as well, but so far the only confirmed creative team is “New Avengers” by Hickman and Steve Epting.
Also on tap for the future of Marvel NOW! is a special “Point One” issue featuring Ant-Man, Hulking and Wiccan, Nick Fury, Starlord, Cable and Nova with creators including Bendis, Fraction, Loeb, Gillen, Nick Spencer, Dennis Hopeless, Allred, Ed McGuinness, Steve McNiven, Jamie McKelvie and Salvadore Larroca playing unspecified roles.