The Fifth Color | Forward into the Past with Marvel in September

What's the point?

This is like hosting the best block party for three months straight, and then suddenly the guy next door rents an outdoor projector and starts playing "Best of the Web" YouTube videos on the side of his house. People just can't help but turn their heads. Is it a wise idea? Aren't these just constant clips of low-rent YouTube versions of Jackass? Why can't I look away?

So here we are, minding our own business, when the Distinguished Competition comes out with a hefty announcement for their September line-up. It's bright and shiny and controversial and loud, and maybe this is what the other half feels like every time Marvel announces that they are going to create a studio to make their own movies, make a push for trade paperbacks, support digital comics or kick off a whole new universe where characters are younger and more movie-savvy for the modern comic reader.

Yeah! So let's look at September, people! Let's face front to the future and remind ourselves that no matter the number on the cover, it's the content that counts. What's Marvel bringing to the fore in September?

The major events we're looking at in September are Fear Itself (reaching #6 of 7 this month), Spider-Island (a more general "part three" and "part four") and X-Men: Schism (which will be at #4 of 5, bringing us to the announcements made this week).

Fear Itself is bringing in a new title late in the game with FEAR ITSELF: THE MONKEY KING #1. Based on the character in Iron Man 2.0, he is very much in line with the Immortal Weapons and probably is one himself. To be perfectly honest, I'm surprised he debuted in Iron Man 2.0 rather than, say, an Iron Fist book, so I haven't caught up with the character just yet. So while the rather well-received, modern-day Iron Fist languishes in New Avengers, the new Immortal Weapons hang out with Rhodey and the newest one gets his own one-shot. It still seems a shame not to get a new Iron Fist series out of this opportunity.

A taken opportunity is getting an Alpha Flight series in with the great Fear Itself machine. Sadly, September's issue is ALPHA FLIGHT #4 (of 8), so Marvel still doesn't have the confidence to run a regular Alpha Flight series. All in all, we're looking at 21 titles by now for Fear Itself, most of them just regular books with a "fear" theme or one of the Worthy trashing their stuff inside. The train is winding down, we'll be pulling into the final station next month with the last Fear Itself issue and all the aftermath we can handle.

Spider-Island seems entirely opposed to the above framework; normally for an event, there's a main book, some sub-books, a few minis but most importantly, an end. We know when Fear Itself is over because there will be an issue that says so. Other books that went along for the ride will go back to their own lives and all the minis that did the dirty support work will fade off, like Brigadoon if Man-Thing, Silver Surfer and two different She-Hulks were cast in the production. Spider-Island, on the other hand, seems to be starting off with a concept rather than a main series (What if everyone in NYC had spider-powers?), then a majority of concept minis rather than regular books to help pull it off. Obviously, Amazing Spider-Man is the main book if you want to find out what's going on, but if you're just interested in playing "_____ with Spider-Powers!" you're probably better off just grabbing the mini-series of your choice. There will be books like SPIDER-ISLAND: AVENGERS #1 to tell you what the Avengers would be like with Spider-Powers, and SPIDER-ISLAND: I LOVE NEW YORK CITY #1 to tell what the average Joe is doing with Spider-Powers (also: the Punisher). I guess logistically it doesn't look like an event book because I don't see that clear and defined point where nothing will ever be the same AGAIN! Instead, it's a concept that will meander through the books until they've done enough and then slowly exit the stage. Kind of weird for a "banner" storyline, but hey. They're trying to get Cloak & Dagger and Shang-Chi: Master of Kung-Fu ushered in through the hype, so good luck.

Speaking of taking an idea as far as it can go and then quietly exiting stage right, there are two new Ultimate Comics titles out this month: ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #1 (and #2) which is both listed as polybagged and classified, so let's never talk of that again, and ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #1 with Nick Spenser and Paco Medina. FINALLY. No offense to Jeph Loeb or Art Adams, but Oh MY Stars and Garters that book was a wreck. Ultimate Comics X was pretty interesting in parts, completely maddening in others, mostly because when it wasn't on the shelves, you forgot it ever came out and then only got a snippet of story and a hint at something to come. I'm not saying that Ultimatum was a HUGE mistake for the Ultimate Universe and the very idea they gave Jeph Loeb anything to do with it afterwards was an affront to everyone who had made that line a success to begin with, but ... you know.

Still, two new titles, one could be the Ultimate inclusion of Miguel O'Hara from the 2099 universe, the other an interesting use of all the mess Ultimatum left behind, written by the guy who does the critically acclaimed Morning Glories series. Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic are taking readers for a ride in the shiny new ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES #2, so I think things are looking good for the Ultimate universe.

X-Men: Schism is last on our list, and while Fear Itself and Spider Island follow an idea if not a formula, then the X-event is looking like an afterthought. Not only is there just one book tie-in (serious, it's just X-MEN: SCHISM #4 (of 5) and GENERATION HOPE #11), but the solicitation for X-Men: Schism says that the events of this event "have launched the world into turmoil." Did Schism start all the other events that are still wrapping up somehow? Because even the other X-books are busy getting involved with them, not to mention their own storylines and plot points. While everything seems on the brink of danger over here, there's entirely other dangers that don't even want to get involved with the first. I love the idea that Colossus is threatening to make a deal with the Cytorrak in UNCANNY X-MEN #543 for Fear Itself and it's awesome that UNCANNY X-FORCE #15 is really running with the Dark Angel Saga and even X-MEN #17 & #18 have the X-Men fighting dinosaurs in the Bermuda Triangle with the FF, it's just that if Schism is really going to be this big serious thing, then maybe make the transition from everything it's going to be to everything as it WILL NEVER BE AGAIN!! a little easier?

But that's my opinion. Every week, I'm lucky enough to have you share yours in the comments. So open up a window, look through the Marvel Comics solicitations for September 2011 and tell me what you think! How do you feel about big event plotlines? Looking forward to a fresh start with the Ultimate universe? Amazed and excited to see Roger Langridge John Carter of FREAKIN' Mars? Curious as to what Wonder Man's Revengers team is going to bring to the mix in NEW AVENGERS ANNUAL #1? Or did you just catch that the solicitation for DAREDEVIL #4 promises the "THE DEATH DEFYING DEBUT OF MARCOS MARTIN!" Let me know! Excelsior!

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