Marvel NOW! Relaunches The Marvel U

For months, Marvel Comics executives have been promising a major shake-up for their stories in the wake of the current "Avengers Vs. X-Men" event, though they've also promised the moves won't be a reboot of the Marvel U's long-running stories a la DC's New 52 initiative. Today, the scope of Marvel's plans came into light with the announcement of October's "Marvel NOW" initiative via Entertainment Weekly's Comic-Con themed issue.

In what will surely be seen as the publisher's response to DC Comics' New 52 which set it sights on new and lapsed readers with issue #1 jumping on points, Marvel NOW is being promised as an easy entry point into the classic Marvel U. Throughout October, Marvel will launch a number of brand new series -- often more than one a week -- with additional new series and relaunches for some classic books rolling out through February of next year. Expanding on CBR's coverage from earlier this morning, these will include the following, announced in EW:

  • "Uncanny Avengers" by Rick Remender and John Cassaday starring a team composed of Captain America, Wolverine and others from the company's two powerhouse franchises battling the mutant-hating Red Skull.
  • "All New X-Men" by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen realigning the mutant team in the wake of "AvX" as the original five X-Men are mysteriously brought to the present day. This title will launch in November.
  • "Avengers" by Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opena, which is light on specific details aside from a roster of 18 heroes in a bi-weekly comic that seems to be Hickman-esque rethinking of the Avengers core mission in the vein of the writer's "Fantastic Four" run.

Aside from the core creative changes, all books branded with the Marvel NOW banner will feature a full slate of digital bells and whistles as part of the "Marvel ReEvolution" products that have played a part in "AvX's" launch. For example, every Marvel NOW first issue will feature AR enhanced recaps on their covers, and the books will all carry a code for a free digital download of the issue through the Marvel App.

In addition, the publisher is promising other creative shakeups outside the shuffling of their big name talent on their big name franchises. Marvel NOW books will feature new "cinematic" cover designs, and their characters will sport redesigned costumes, many shown off in a new piece by Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, a scan of which appeared on the CBR forums in the early hours of this morning.

"It's a bridge book...something that can delve into both worlds," Remender told the magazine of how "Uncanny Avengers" bridges the pre and post-AvX Marvel U.

Of "All-New X-Men," Bendis explained, "It's not a time-travel story like 'Back To The Future.' It's a time-travel story like 'Pleasantville,'" adding "Here's the big question that they original X-Men are gonna be faced with: 'We're gonna grow up, and this is what we're going to get? That is not acceptable.'"

UPDATED: Entertainment Weekly has posted a much longer exploration of the relaunch online with quotes from both the creators of the new series and Marvel executives.

"It's not hype when we say that 'AvX' is the culmination of a lot of stories we've done over the last several years," Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso told the magazine. "Characters are redeemed or not. Characters are changed. The X-Men and the Avengers are both repositioned for the future. What better time to shake things up?" Alonso went on to draw a line between Marvel NOW and DC's New 52, saying the titles would roll out over several months rather than in one month as, "I feel that it's a much more humane approach for retailers and fans to tell them: 'Look. In the months of October through February, every week you can go into a comic book store and find a few new jumping-on points for the Marvel Universe, a place you're going to like visiting. Or revisiting.'"

Quesada commented on his image featuring the redesigned Marvel heroes, saying, "There's a reason Sue Storm is there. And why there's a floating robot near Hulk. We're trying a lot of fun and new different things, we're exposing characters who we've had in our toy chest for a long time."

Bendis commented on Jean Grey's return to the Marvel U via time travel, explaining, "It's the one thing X-Men fans have always asked for is: They want Jean Grey back. But they want Jean Grey. Not reincarnated Jean, or the ghost of Jean. Well, you're getting Jean back. And Jean is gonna be looking at a world that rattles her."

Remender noted that his Red Skull will be a throwback version of the Nazi villain. "In 1943, Arnim Zola, who was this bio-fanatic engineer, recorded the Red Skull's consciousness, and set it to wake up 70 years later. So the Red Skull [in 'Uncanny'] is right out of 1943-44. Prime Nazi scumbag. In his mind, he's taking that vitriol and hate and Nazi horror and methodology, and pointing it at the mutant species."

For more on Marvel NOW, check EW.com and stay tuned to CBR throughout Comic-Con International!

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