Our pal, the EEK in charge Joe Quesada has been very clear with us that Dark Reign won’t last out this year (God, willing, the creek don’t rise and shipping schedules don’t fail us). At SDCC’s Cup O’ Joe he was asked this pretty directly and all on the panel sort of nodded calmly to the inevitable fact that whatever madness that got Norman Osborn to be in charge of national security would be put away by the end of 2009.
I know, direct, huh? Not exactly like our extravagant exaggerators and hold-out experts to just give us a timeline and shrug as they’ll meet you at the finish line. Where’s the panache? The bells? The whistles? The hows and whys and hey, look. November’s solicitations. Maybe we’ll find some answers here, at the second to last month of year when it all ends for Dark Reign.
Really! No joke, there’s just one Dark Reign banner book here and that’s the last on Osborn’s list: the Amazing Spider-Man. Actually, it’d be kind of awesome if all of this came down to Spider-Man and the Green Goblin, both kind of given these odd ‘second chances’ this past year or so. Yeah, it could be a huge scale army battle with Norman crashing everything he brought up with him like a petulant child, but really, he’s an essential Spidey villan who should be essentially fought by Spider-Man to some sort of conclusion. Meanwhile, the Dark X-Men are just getting started with a #1 issue and a team that survives Utopia: Mystique, Dark Beast, Weapon Omega, and Mimic. Yep, Cloak and Dagger, we hardly knew ye. Maybe they’ll get that mini-series… some day. On the other hand, as Dark Avengers #11 swears that it’s not only an explosive smash hit but that it’s also continuing, the solicit could be mistaken for a second-to-last issue concluder: ‘Norman can’t talk his way out of this one as the world gets turned upside down and no joke…someone dies. For reelz!!’ Nothing like a death in the team to make you question one’s leadership or why one’s joined such a bad idea in the first place.
Well, whoever’s reely dying in the Dark Avengers, it’s not going to be Ares as that man’s going to have a full plate what with his own mini-series where he’s beating up HAMMER agents plus the issue-spanning event Assault on New Olympus. Despite the stage being set for World War Hulks over in Hulk #17 and Realm of Kings #1 finally giving me that closure I didn’t get from War of Kings (one of which I’ll get to in just a minute), the solicitation for the Assault on New Olympus one-shot says that ‘If there’s a bigger event this fall, we don’t know what it could be!‘ I guess they don’t get out of their office much. Well, what is this Assault on New Olympus, you ask? How much booty is it going to shake? Quite a lot as the cast list is exclaimed: Hercules! Spider-Man! Ares! New Avengers! Wolverine! Mighty Avengers! The Agents of Atlas! All of whom are going to be embroiled in an epic battle against Hera, the Olympus Group and the most terrifying threat to the Marvel Universe ever (it’s either called ‘Continuum’ or ‘the Unspoken’ depending on Incredible Hercules #138 or Mighty Avengers #31, respectively. That or it splits into two parts both with ominous names?). Agents of Atlas seem to be losing their own title to fit as a backup story to Incredible Herc, which for my money I don’t mind. It’s not getting canceled, it’s being fit into a book I delight in reading anyway and it frees Jeff Parker up to write another book.
The Thunderbolts. Yeah! I know! Stepping into the shoes previously worn by Warren Ellis and Andy Diggle, Jeff Parker is lacing ’em up on issue #138 and will no doubt surprise us all. Hey, even the solicit says: ‘You’ve heard raves about Parker’s ATLAS (heroes pretending to be villains)…but now it’s time to let him loose on some real fiends!’ And they’ve got a point. Jeff Parker is a fantastic writer and I’m certainly excited to see if steps up to the book’s rather gruesome history or in fact goes an all-new direction as well. Either way, it’ll be quite a ride.
In other ‘new writer’ news, we finally have an answer for who will pick up the hand that holds Mjolnir. Two month’s after JMS’s final issue on Thor (Thor: Defining Moments Giant-Size #1 showing up in September), Kieron Gillen will be handed the pen, the event that caused JMS to leave the title (and, oh yeah, his contract at Marvel ran out), and a hearty good luck handshake. Now, here we go, this is the real meat-and-potatoes of our November solicitations. This is the book that really could be the biggest event of the fall as Doom and Loki, active members of the ‘Cabal’, seem to be duking it out over the realm of Asgard itself: ‘Has Doctor Doom crossed a line…? And what role did Loki play in Doom’s sinister plans? What did Loki know…and when…? Now, as Thor heads to Latveria to settle the score, only one thing can happen: Thor sitting Doom down and having a serious chat about their feelings. By which we mean, STATE-OF-THE-ART SLEDGHAMMER SKY-SCRAPING SUIT-SMASHING SUPERHEROICS!’ There is no way this is going to end in an issue, no possible way this is going to end in a three-issue story arc, but say… six issue ‘The Siege of Asgard’ storyline where, perhaps, nothing will ever be the same again? That’s more like it. Mr. Gillen, sir, I salute you as these are indeed Galactus-sized shoes to fill and certainly a much larger epic than it first seems.
In more epic news, yeah. Realm of Kings. Not to get too Deep Space Nine on everyone here, but there’s a rift in time and space (we’lll call it The Fault this time) and by God, someone should put some sort of space station there to both monitor and explore it. One preferably helmed by Hawk from Spencer for Hire. But seriously, it looks like this events going to fall into ‘Initiative/Aftersmash/Dark Reign’ territory, the after-banner if you will where what you’ll be reading was a direct result of War of Kings with something lurking on the horizon for the next big event. Realm of Kings is going to get two five issue minis (Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard and Realm of kings: Inhumans), plus they’ll weave their way back through Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova again. No word on the Starjammers.
No matter how you slice it, November’s going to be huge, with monsterous events lurking on the horizon, deadly endings coming to fruition, Frank Castle being turned into some sort of undead monster (It’s in there, it was no hoax!), Stephen Strange getting his own title again sans-Job with Mark Waid, Joe Kelly finally doing us a little Deadpool writing at long last through an issue of Amazing Spider-Man, major things are happening. Go look through the list yourself and pick your best shots here. Excelsior!
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