In just three months, we will be pretty entrenched into the new NOW! of Marvel. So far, so good, right? Can’t say that they’ve all been hits, but considering the alternative (*cough*reboot*cough*), I’d say we’re doing pretty well.
Will this be an era that’s looked back at as a radical change in publishing and a landmark era of storytelling for Marvel? I get the feeling that a lot of people are hoping so, most of them in marketing. This is a fresh face for the Marvel brand, and we should be looking at a moment that will be well-documented by journalists, historians and (more importantly to the layman) comic book price guides. Sadly, my precognitive powers are only available in March solicitations, so let’s look at those and see what NOW! will look like then. Or THEN! I’m not sure.
First, let’s talk about the trades. I rarely get to do so because they’re always at the bottom and there’s normally a huge amount of comics to sort through and events to define before we reach the reasonable road of the trade paperback. But in March, Marvel NOW! will officially be the final status quo on the shelves, so we’ll begin a steady stream of trades for major titles in hardcover and softcover format.s The first volumes of Uncanny Avengers, Iron Man and Avengers will be out in hardcover, with Fantastic Four, Red She-Hulk and X-Men: Legacy getting softcover editions; I think the change in format probably has to do with the price of the original issues.
And then there’s this guy: the Marvel NOW! Omnibus HC, which collects every first issue from Uncanny Avengers #1 on down the line to a few books we haven’t even see yet like Wolverine #1 and Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (both of which debut in March), plus the Marvel NOW! books that started without re-numbering (Red She-Hulk, Journey Into Mystery and Avengers Assemble). They even threw in the Point One sampler! On one hand, this seems like a fantastic time capsule to look back on and see how much has changed in a few years. In a smaller format, it might even be a taste of the new Marvel NOW! But good gracious, 688 pages? Oversized hardcover? Of just the first issues? And all for $99.99?? Sure, that works out to about 15 cents per page, and Marvel’s oversized hardcovers are pretty sweet, but I’m not sure who’s going to buy one.
Wolverine gets three cool trades in March, including a new hardcover edition of the Claremont and Millar miniseries, a new printing of the Origin miniseries from Jenkins and Lee (also in hardcover), and the Wolverine: Sabertooth! HC, which complies two parts of the Loeb and Bianchi storyline Pretty solid stuff for the movie on the way, with classic and new stories presented in a collected format. And then there’s this monster: Wolverine: The Adamantium Collection HC. This is a solid overview of Logan’s life history:
Collecting ORIGIN #1-6; material from MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS (1988) #72-84; UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #162, #205 and #268; WOLVERINE (1982) #1-4; WOLVERINE (1988) #75 and #119-122; WOLVERINE (2003) #32; and WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN #1-3.
This will be an oversized slipcover edition packing in 720 pages of Wolverine goodness. Now, this is an awesome idea as a gift for the casual Wolverine fan and the hard core Ol’ Canucklehead who want a stylish way to present some awesome comics. But GOOD GOD, $200?? It’s worth it (breaks down to .28 cents a page) but yikes. Seems a better sell for X-Mas than march.
There’s also an Uncanny X-Men: the Complete Collection by Matt Fraction vol. 2 trade paperback that will pack in 368 pages for $29.99, ensuring that the logistics of how trades are priced and assorted remains a mystery to me. But at least Doom 2099: The Complete Collection by Warren Ellis is coming out with 432 pages of futuristic courtly science intrigue; I’m excited to see this reprinted and wonder if there’s any sort of timing on when it’s released. Will we see anything wander in from the 2099 universe in March?
If so, the rest of the solicits aren’t saying much. In smaller, floppy news, Bendis will be bringing us (finally) the Age of Ultron, including three parts of the miniseries and a couple other titles, Fantastic Four #5 and Superior Spider-Man #6. Where it gets weird is that there’s also solicits for non-AU issues of Fantastic Four #6 (where they’ll travel back in time to visit Caesar) and Superior Spider-Man #6 (where the new Spidey will have to make his own choices on death under his watch). So yeah. Did they get the numbering wrong or are they going to ship AU issues of 616 issues?
Meanwhile, in Age of Ultron #1 (2, 3 + variants):
For years the heroes of the Marvel Universe have lived in fear that the artificial intelligence known as Ultron would one day evolve to fulfill its desire to wipe out all organic life and take over the Earth — that day has arrived. This massive 10-part Marvel Universe-spanning event is brought to you by Eisner award-winning writer Brian Michael Bendis and comics legend Bryan Hitch.
Issues are coming out fast and furious these days, especially in our new Marvel NOW! era, so I’m a little wary of a weekly series coming out along side so many biweekly titles. We might have more breathing room by March and the steady stream of stories could be a lot less cumbersome, but it’s going to be a heady time for people who like to read comics NOW!.
This months other #1 issues include the new Guardians of the Galaxy #1 from Bendis and Steve McNiven, Wolverine #1 from Paul Cornell and Alan Davis and Ultimate Comics Wolverine #1 (of 4) from Cullen Bunn and Ramon Rosanas. On the event side of things, we’ll be seeing a mini-crossover spring up on the X-Men’s three lost titles: Astonishing X-Men, Age of Apocalypse and X-Treme X-Men. I say lost because these are three books that seem to be set apart from the NOW! and exist as they did in the BEFORE!, simple X-Men titles with unique enough premises that the drive a lot of stories with fan-favorite characters. These three books will chase down the Age of Apocalypse-lost Nightcrawler as he attempts to get home by any means he can. Taking three titles that … don’t seem to fit into the general X-scheme at the moment and running their own mini-event seems like a pretty cool idea. Finishing up stories started in Remender’s Uncanny X-Force also gives this a nice coat of continuity.
Though I will say I’ve been very confused over how the Astonishing X-Men fit in with the rest of the books, as they seem to be just your usual gang of mutants fighting wrongs and having personal issues. Well, I wonder no longer as Astonishing X-Men #60 explains to me: “With Nightcrawler wreaking havoc on the very fabric of reality, Wolverine calls in his street team.” That’s who Astonishing X-Men is supposed to be? Wolverine’s “Street Team”? Do they canvas areas where he’ll be with flyers and hand out stickers?
Odd team mission statements aside, there’s a lot going down in the month of March at Marvel. A lot of NOW! books will be settling their first story arcs, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and almost the Indestructible Hulk. Even books that are in their third or so issue like Uncanny X-Force feel like some big story point will be crossed. Take a look through the March solicitations for Marvel Comics and share your thoughts on the new NOWness and what it will look like in the FUTURE! Excelsior!