July is daunting. I almost fear the month itself, because it could possibly be the month of overload. I may have to take a vacation, and not to the San Diego Comic-Con! Just think of what the world is going to look like just a few months from now: two Marvel blockbusters (maybe three) will have hit the big screen. The ever-present and ever-daunting Comic Con, where even more movie, TV and comic print news will be announced. We'll be in the middle of a major event, ending an Ultimate event and the starting two new ones. Normally, we get this kind of action (sans the movies) around December or January, when the full road to Marvel Universe Destruction has made the final leg of its journey and the Aftermath/Dark Reign/Initiative months kick in. This is a lot of action, and it's all happening in July. Readers will certainly need a road map, if not a Sherpa and a well-stocked base camp.
So let's prepare for the journey ahead and read on!
Okay, everyone turn around and look at the elephant in the room: Fear Itself. We can't talk about July and not talk about the storyline that will have... oh dear. Are you sitting down for this one? Make sure you have a glass of water handy, maybe a paper bag to breathe into, because there will be 25 total issues in July to spread the story of Fear Itself. 24 of these issues are tie-ins. 10 of these tie-ins are special mini-series that allow the ongoing titles to finish their own plot lines while letting their stars get in on that sweet Fear Itself action. Some of the books, like the FF, just have stuff to do; others, like Spider-Man and the X-Men, have large personal events to start up themselves.
Reading over the 24 (*phew*) Fear Itself tie-in books, this month seems the month of The Worthy, the changed heroes or villains who side with the Serpent in this great and powerful evil. There's nine of them, and some are very obviously leaked (Man, the Juggernaut looks cool with a hammer).
I'm going to assume (and we all know what that does to u and me) that in the issues leading up to this, we'll be getting a better feel for what the general threat is. Much like the out of control crowd in the first issue of Fear Itself, people will be divided on several points and issue #4 of the main book will be when punches start getting thrown. Eventually, the Worthy are going to step aside (maybe defeated, maybe not) and our heroes will face the greatest fear of all, the awakened Serpent.
So why do Spider-Man and the X-Men have their own minis rather than regular issue tie-ins?
Well, Spider-Man is doing an in-sphere storyline that takes over the entirety of Manhattan and teaches us all a little lesson about responsibility. Amazing Spider-Man #666 (hee) tells us that: "New York has been INFESTED and the web grows as it gets ready to explode into SPIDER-ISLAND! Normal people are getting Spider-Powers! But not all of them realize that with great power must also come ….you know the rest. Okay, sure we often say Peter Parker’s life will never be the same. But listen, pal, we’ve never been more serious. Heroes and villains are crawling all over Manhattan and no one knows why. This will change everything for Pete, for Spidey…and possibly for YOU! Look at it this way…If EVERYONE’S a Spider-Man… then no one is."
Manhattan gets Spider-Powers. Man, I love it when these banner type events are super easy to explain. Sure, there are a lot of unanswered questions (how did they get these powers? What will they do with them? How are they going to lose said powers and what will everyone think after they've been de-powered? etc.), but the basic premise can be told quickly to interest the future reader and certainly make them feel less like they have to read (*gulp*) 24 other books to get the whole picture.
Meanwhile over in the X-Men, we'll be starting Schism, a five-issue series that July will jump into with issues #1 and #2. "...after a mutant-triggered international incident, anti-mutant hatred hits new heights. Of course it’s at this moment, when the mutant race needs most to stand together, that a split begins that will tear apart the very foundation of the X-Men." As exciting as it is to see the X-Men hanging out with Spider-Man or facing Marvel Universe threats shoulder to shoulder with the Avengers, my personal favorite is when the X-Men simply have their own internal problems to work out. The X-Men handle personal problems that aren't just between each other, but for the species as a whole. Add to this that Jason Aaron will be penning this arc, and I know that clear heroes will be hard to find.
I'm not joking, you guys. This July is going to be madness with major events and twists and turns and lines being drawn and just... as much change as you can fit in to these books. But then there's the fact that no other X-Books reference this. In fact, the Spider-Island story only seems to have one tie-in, and that's to Venom. Huh. It makes sense considering the House of Ideas doesn't want to share just three ideas with us this month. But the other X-Men books will be handling their own set of crazy problems, from Rahne giving birth in X-Factor #222 and X-Men: Legacy #252 handling the aftermath of the Age of X. Even Generation Hope looks to be losing someone regardless of the Schism ahead.
While Fear Itself closes in around a variety of titles and brings in new ones to help share the burden of this storytelling event, other books just need some space and a large cast of characters. Some books just need Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin.
This is what it's all led up to. Shadowland, Daredevil: Reborn, this is the real start of an all new, possibly all differently familiar Man without Fear in Daredevil #1. "With new enemies, new friends…and that same old “grinnin’ in the face of hell” attitude, The Man Without Fear is back in a double-sized first issue and leading with his face!," says the solicitation and I just have to ask: Daredevil has grinned? When? Has this been caught on film? I thought he was normally depressed or lamenting. I would be remiss if I didn't talk about Mark Waid and the jaw-droppingly gorgeous art we'll be getting from Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin. Daredevil's needed this for a long time and with the other two Big Shots (Punisher and Moon Knight - though Ghost Rider totally should have been included in that announcement as well), I have a good feeling about the street level stories that are to come. Not everything has to be a banner or big-tent event. Sometimes just a talented writer with a fresh take and some stunning artwork can do the same job.
So there are a ton of things I didn't get to talk about, like the valiant return of Alpha Flight (This time, for sure!), the about due return of Ghost Rider, the Black Panther's new star-spangled duds, Captain America's new #1 and possible funeral attendance, taking the Muppet Show to Marvel, the reprinting of Fantastic Four: 1234, the Jim Lee X-Men Omnibus, just... a lot of stuff! July is going to be jam-packed so take out those mortgages now, sell that extra liver and take a look at all the wonders awaiting us this July from Marvel Comics. Let me know what you'll be spending your kids' college education on and I'll go grab a third job!