The Fifth Color | Forward into the Past: Marvel's Solicitations for Jan 2011

Before we play the numbers game for the new year, I wanted to make sure that everyone knows that Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes is awesome. Full of adventure, excitement and so many nods to Marvel canon you'll feel like a bobble doll. Marvel Animation is at it again, putting out some of their best work in episodic cartoons and it'd be a shame if you didn't look to your local cable stations and give it a try. It's on Disney XD, Wednesdays around 8:30/7:30 Central with plenty of repeats.

OK, enough cartoon shout-outs, let's look a little further than next week: let's look to the New Year! 2011 cometh on large promises and new, exciting events and movies! Looking over the solicitations for the first month and an all-new, all-different year, one has to note how... disheveled the future seems. Spelling errors, credit errors, the wrong covers depicted for some books; heck, Chaos War #5 is just listed as #5 (of 5). Especially with such Distinguished Competition moving out west, putting out some really nice looking covers, that whole "price thingie" everyone keeps talking about... This all seems so rushed. Tom Brevoort notes the strain the move is having on the ol' Bullpen, so maybe this is just growing pains. We'll cut the House of Ideas some slack as they do some housecleaning and maybe forgive a few tiny mistakes within their upcoming books. After all, it's not like they're asking us to pay $25 bucks for four comics, right?

MILLAR & MCNIVEN'S NEMESIS PREMIERE HC will be due out in January of 2011 at the low, low price of $24.99! Four comics that came out at $2.99 will be ridiculously expensive in hardcover. Now, we all know there's a markup for hardcover book, that goes without saying. But as my fellow number crunchers would attest, 22 cents a page is kind of a lot to pay for a book that debuted at 12 cents per page. Heralds has a hardcover collection that contains five issues and that's only $19.99 for a 120 pages. Why is Nemesis so expensive? Is it because it's an Icon title? Well, Kabuki: Reflections HC is $39.99, but that's an art book and 320 pages; that's still about 12 cents a page again. Look, I'm not the world's greatest economist or mathematician, I'm just a simple caveman- retail clerk. Far smarter people with incredible haircuts have called attention to the lack of big bonanza sales on Marvel titles that the Distinguished Competition trumpeted so loudly at NYCC. I dream of a day when comics are not judged by their price point or the banner of their event storyline, but by the content of their stories, the beauty of their artwork, and how these both excite and delight the reader, amen.

And let me tell you, Nemesis is not worth $24.99, even in hardcover.

At my store (quick plug: Metro Entertainment, Santa Barbara, CA!), we have the X-Men titles in their own section because, back in the day, they really were their own universe. They had insular events, renumbering, retitling, mini-series debuts and cancellations that, if you were a hardcore X-Fan, you'd want to take a look at without all that pesky alphabetical order getting in the way. All the X-Men books were (and are still) grouped together because it's technically the same characters (mutants) expressed in different stories across different titles. Looking at Marvel's output here in the new year, I'm wondering if we should make room for an Avengers section as well; with popular guys with movies hanging out at about five titles apieces (more for Thor if you count the mini-series for supporting characters or Chaos War), books with the name 'Avengers' in the title have gone to eight different books: ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS 3 #6 (of 6), AVENGERS #9, AVENGERS: THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE #4 (of 9), AVENGERS ACADEMY #8, I AM AN AVENGER #5 (of 5), AVENGERS PRIME #5 (of 5), NEW AVENGERS #8, SECRET AVENGERS #9. Add in our two all-ages fare, AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES #3 (of 4) and AVENGERS VS. PET AVENGERS #4 (of 4), and we have ten books all vying for your dollar. Now, some of these are ending and one of these books is only seen under the light of the full moon if the full moon is on a Wednesday and you've said the incantation correctly (we tease because we care, Avengers: Children's Crusade!), but that doesn't mean more won't rise up at take their place. If you want your wallet to decide, then Avengers vs. the Pet Avengers is for you at nice price of $2.99!

But not everything is doom and gloom, right? It's not all holiday blues and New Year jitters, right? I have hope, true believers, and so should you. And I'm not talking about any lights or mutant powers, I'm talking about creative teams that make me give that bad idea a second chance. I'm not sure if you all know this, but Jonathan Mayberry is a stud; coming out of the horror novel scene, he blew my mind with how good Doomwar could be. After the great 'wedding of the century', my interest in Black Panther fell like two tons of bricks and I had pretty much washed my hands of Wakanda. His issues on Black Panther and especially on Doomwar showed me the kind of varied and global threatening story you can tell with the T'Challa. When I thought Punisher vs. comics couldn't be topped by Garth Ennis, Marvel Universe vs. Punisher showed me some terrifying violence and an unpleasant character study of what divides men and monsters. Now he's back with CAPTAIN AMERICA: HAIL HYDRA #1 (of 5) and while I might want to pass on another Captain America book (no really, I'm full, Brubaker's just fine), the writer's strength and the concept are enough to get me to add it to my pull:

"From the dark days of World War II to the Heroic Age, witness the brutal battle between Captain America and the immortal evil known as Hydra! How far back has the gruesome group been killing its way to capture the secrets of eternal life? What can Steve Rogers do to halt its sinister spread – when the horrific hordes of the undead rise to stop him?"

Not only are we going to see Steve Rogers in a variety of different eras, but artists as well; the solicit promises Sergio Cariello (Lone Ranger), Tom Scioli (Godland), Phil Winslade (Wonder Woman), Kyle Hotz (Conquest: Wraith) and Harvey Talibao (Psylocke).

With some of the solicits it's hard to tell what exactly they'll be selling John and Jane Q. ComicFan, but if that cover image is what I think it is, then I promise to rethink my entire opinion of the current "Incredible Hulks". The solicitation for INCREDIBLE HULKS #620 says:

"Great loves and horrifying enemies return in the battle royale for the souls of the Hulks -- and the life of every mortal on Planet Earth! The Hulk faces his darkest demons -- literally! -- all hell breaks loose -- literally! -- and there'll be the devil to pay -- literally! And if you thought the Hulk's battles with his sons were personal, you ain't seen nothing yet."

With that in mind, that sure seems like the Devil Hulk to me on that cover. And if we're going to reach back as far as the Devil Hulk days and some of the fine writing all the facets of Bruce Banner's personality (or personalities some may say) can create? Yeah, I will definitely keep an eye out for that issue and see if we can't clear our rainbow gamma corps and get back to basics.

Kathryn Immonen is my favorite writer that no one really knows much about. I adored her Patsy Walker, Hellcat tales and thought Heralds was honest and deep for a comic about B-List supergals. But both these titles are a hard sell; Deadpool shows up nowhere and none of them are current Avengers. There are 10 Avengers books this month! Couldn't we just let her borrow an "A" logo? The good news is that she got one better: an X logo. If you've been to conventions in the past year or two, you might have noticed a resurgence of Jubilee fandom. Not always the most popular of girls, Jubilee is a touchstone of the Gen X crowd, showcased on the '90s cartoon show and second sidekick to Wolverine. Since Civil War, she's gone through several fads to make her new and interesting to new readers: she's been de-powered, technologically enhanced as a New Warrior and now vampire-bitten. Instead of making her adapt to the current fashions, why not take her back to her roots and send her on a road trip with Wolverine? Great idea! WOLVERINE AND JUBILEE #1 (of 4) will be written by Kathryn Immonen and drawn by superstar Phil Noto, so even if Jubes is a vampire, she'll look good in those fangs.

You know there's a whole lot more where this came from, so go check out the Marvel solicitations for January 2011 and let me know what you're looking for. Just mind the moving mess.  Excelsior!

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