The Fifth Color | Forward into the past with Marvel solicitations for January 2012

As most of you CBRians know, Marvel's solicitations for January 2012 came out last Friday, so our look forward into the past is a little delayed. On the bright side, the first of 2012's books seem like something that deserve a few more days reflection. After all, 2012 is the year it all comes together! You guys, there's going to be an Avengers movie. A real, live action, big budget, A-list star Avengers movie! All Marvel's rather crazy Hollywood ideas are paying off next summer and, with a little hard work, the House of Ideas could come to a beautiful fruition.

So while our celebratory May month is still off in the distance, the recently hung Chrismas decorations let me know that January is just around the corner. Can we get an idea of what next year will look like, through the first books to roll out at the start of the year? Let's just read along and find out, shall we?

Alright, I've got some good news and bad news, and I'll be honest: "brave" and "bold" are not words I'd use to describe January's line-up. The Avengers, while obviously the focus of mainstream media in this blockbuster year, should be giving us something different. They should be at least "Road-to-Wrestlemania"-ing their way to the big movie.   By reading books now, we should get a sense of build-up to what May will be like. We had a bajillion Thor comics last year as we got close to the Thor film, showing different aspects of the God of Thunder; Captain America spread his patriotic heroism throughout several one-shots, miniseries and collections well before July, so that by the movie's debut, there would be a plethora of material for movie-goers to feast upon. So far, January is starting out pretty slow. Yeah, you've got your Secrets, your Academies, your New, and Adjectiveless ... there are plenty of types of Avengers out there, but what are they all doing?

For example, Avengers Annual #1 brings back the Revengers, returning to let the reader debate whether or not being a strong force in the world makes you a target.  The same idea seems to apply to X-Sanction, albeit with a different creative team and Cable. In Avengers #21, the team battles "the combined forces of Hydra, AIM, the Hand and H.A.M.M.E.R. under the leadership of Norman Osborne."

Since Disassembled, the message is clear: DO NOT BE AN AVENGER. It's all conjecture at this point, but January starts with the target squarely on the Avenger's head rather than leading to a major threat or event (we'll get to the Phoenix in a moment). They seem to be less "Avenging" and more "Defending," but that's a whole different book. If anything, it looks like the same holding pattern we've seen before, through seasonal restarts.

More of the X-Men will be inching their way toward box office gold as Cable will return from the grave to annihilate Earth's Mightiest Heroes and Wakandan queen Storm will be joining the Avengers and our pal, the Scarlet Witch, will finally be returning to mainstream continuity with an official game change across both teams. You know, you got your people will live, people will die, nothing will ever be the blah blah blah. Considering the big IT'S COMING teaser shot shown at recent conventions, let's figure that if the Avengers or X-Men are going to fight something huge in that yearly big event kind of way, it's coming from the cosmic entity known as the Pheonix Force, and Hope and Wanda are probably involved.

The rest of the X-Men have forgone ramping up for a big change and are instead hauling out the past to settle the Regenesis in a little bit. Remember, just in the month of January, the Phalanx return in an Uncanny X-Men one-shot, the Jean Grey School of Empty Graves will be in full swing in Wolverine & the X-Men, there will be a preview of the new Age of Apocalypse book in Uncanny X-Force, goddammit the Magneto clone Joseph is returning in the Magneto: Not a Hero mini-series, Exodus (really?) will show up in X-Men: Legacy, Havok and Polaris come back to X-Factor and oh yeah, the big looming threat is the Phoenix force.

It's a lot of old ideas. Again, three months from now, maybe we'll be hankering for a little slice of the '90s (Joseph? Really??) but looking forward, I can't say I can see a brave or bold future on the horizon. In fact, right now my big horizon line is May, not January, so maybe my eyesight's gone a little funny.

With all the recent changes of the current year and the fallout still left to come, perhaps it's better that we linger with the toys we have rather than throw them out in anticipation of what's to come. I know that the Fearless and Battle Scars books will be handling their fair share of Fear Itself fallout and maybe, as much as the X-Men have restructured themselves again, we might want to go back to our roots and see how they fit in with our swanky new teams.

It can't always be all new and all different. Sometimes, we still have pieces to pick up, ideas to finish, characters to haul out of storage and dust off a little and see if they still work. January seems entrenched in our past as a foundation for all that's to come in the year and, while certainly not glitzy or glamorous, might be what we need.

Take a look through the solicitations (again) and share your thoughts. Excelsior!

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