The Fifth Color | Now and later with Marvel in April 2014

Let's get this one right out of the way: it's going to cost you about 12 whole dollars to get the big finale to the Octo-Spidey era and the beginning of the return of Peter Parker. That's some serious cash to spend, and it's the price point that really takes me out of the story and into the "Well, isn't this a fine marketing ploy!" territory.

Let's face it, we all knew Peter was coming back; this isn't the Ultimate Universe, after all, and there's a movie career to think of. At the same time ... maybe if it had just been regularly priced issues? Or if they'd been at annual prices? Or heck, just one of them at the big $5.99 bucks and the next issue back down to normal, I don't know.

Is price how we demarcate importance in comics? Or is it the #1 issue? Or the anniversary issue? The amount of variant covers to be had? Could it even be the (gasp) the story inside?? Let's take a look at April and see what's going to be important in the months ahead for Marvel (or at least make our best guesses).

So, yeah, back to the Spider-issue at hand: The Superior Spider-Man #31 is the series finale and will end the "Goblin Nation" story, as the only man who can save us now is Peter Parker. Good news! He's coming back in The Amazing Spider-Man #1, from the usual suspects (Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos), plus we're also getting a "recharged and reenergized ELECTRO!" for our money. Sure, this is probably putting the right characters in public view in preparation for Sony's The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Make of that what you will, we're still getting Peter Parker back. And he's being hyped up so happily! They're using words like "Friendly" and "hero."

What about the regular guy back in a vast empire of Spider-Flunkies, new girlfriends, J. Jonah Jameson hating him for blackmail reasons, the Avengers thinking he's a jerk, new mixed opinions about him in New York City? I think they're underselling the importance of this issue. Peter Parker may be getting a second chance at life here, but what kind of life is he coming back to? I'm sad Otto is leaving, as Slott has done a lot of work to get us invested in Superior, but obviously we all knew the day would come that Peter Parker -- the real Peter Parker -- would be back in the mask.

Both issues are 64 pages, but still. Six bucks? Yikes. Ten variant covers between them? Double-yikes.

In non-Spider news, we're also getting the zero issue (so you know it's important!) for Original Sin, the summer event brought to us by Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato. Nova will run into the Watcher and wonder what he's all about, so I'm guessing it's just a primer for the action ahead. On one hand, great! Fans who don't know who the Watcher is will get to meet him through the eyes of a new hero, and longtime fans will find out what Marvel wants us to remember about Uatu. On the other hand, I'm never sure about these zero issues. Are they supposed to be actual chapters to the story we're about to read? How essential are they? And this is why numbering is awkward, folks.

Speaking of numbering, welcome to your avalanche of #1 issues! We have 12 this month, excluding one-shots and annuals, ranging from The Amazing Spider-Man  to a new weekly What If?: Age of Ultron.

Just a brief aside about that miniseries: It's a weekly What If? series looking at what would happen if Wolverine went after other founding Avengers to stop Ultron. Wasp is first, and that makes situational sense, as you can see Jan getting involved in all that brouhaha that Wolverine and Sue Storm brought with them into the past. But the next week is about a world without Iron Man? Then Thor? And Captain America? Didn't we already do that last one? Why would those guys get killed in the past to create a new future? Are they all about Wolverine trying to kill different Avengers, and is that so ridiculous that I'm kind of smiling about it? And isn't Age of Ultron sort of a What If? anyway, as it changed the timelines? We looked in at two alternate universes, one where Ultron attacks and everyone is doomed, and the other where Hank Pym never created Ultron and also died. You think they would have explored those two more before diving into new theories, but hey.

Anyhow, some books are long-term titles, some probably have mandates to fulfill, some are just dropping by in a miniseries fashion. So the #1 on the covers really has a varying degree of monumental importance. After all, a miniseries #1 may mean the start of a story while an Amazing Spider-Man #1 may mean you'll be calling up comic shops and seeing what you can get for them in a couple years. OK, sorry, that was mean; let's get back to the comics.

Iron Fist is finally getting his own series again with Iron Fist: Living Weapon #1, written and drawn by Kaare Andrews. Great news for fans of the character; Danny Rand has been popular enough in recent years, thanks to the phenomenal series by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja that debuted in 2006 (has it been so long?) and ended a few years later under Dwayne Swierczynski. From there he bounced around various titles, even helping out the new Power Man for a bit and gaining a white costume for what seemed like really no good reason. Now he's back in his own book, and while I'm looking forward to it, I don't envy Andrews one bit. There are some big shoes to fill, not just writing-wise by in art direction as well; remember, this is where a lot of new readers saw Aja for the first time. Still, I think he'll be up for the task.

In a similar vein is Elektra #1, by Haden Blackman and the amazing Mike Del Mundo, the guy who's been knocking those X-Men Legacy covers out of the park. He'll also provide the interiors as we follow the world’s deadliest assassin on yet another new start in her life. Both series will have high-kicking kung-fu action and will be looking to redefine themselves in issues to come.

We'll also be getting the All-New DOOP miniseries from Peter Milligan and David LaFuente, testing the waters to see whether people really do like the alien blob or are just saying so at cons to get a rise out of the panelists. Inhumans starts with new writer Charles Soule and artist Joe Madureira, while Nightcrawler replaces X-Men Legacy, with writing legend Chris Claremont and artist Todd Nauck. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Kurt Wager (Unglaubich!) but Claremont's Legacy books went off in weird directions that made me glad they were alternate-universe titles.

Another delineation of importance comes up with Daredevil #1.50, but it does help out with what all these decimals are doing here; it's just more shorthand for why the issue is important. ".NOW" means it's a refresh, ".1" used to mean it's a half-step in a story to get readers caught up (like a #0 but inserted into the regular run), and now ".50" is to indicate that it's an anniversary issue. Not too hard to wrap your brain around, but it's tricky considering the situation is still new. This anniversary issue will celebrate Daredevil's 50th birthday, so there will be a bunch of clues seeded into the story to tell us about the present run and his "younger years"; at least it's a clever framing device rather than a bunch of reprints or looks back. Then again, if DD's 50th birthday is going to be a sort of a "look ahead," I wonder how old he actually is?

April is also when we'll get our first new Ultimate books, All-New Ultimates and Ultimate FF as "Cataclysm" is doing what Ultimatum should have done and given us a clear new direction for the line rather than just killing everyone and letting God (or new writers) sort them out. Because I've been keeping up with the Ultimate Universe with a side-eye, I'm really excited to see where this new direction takes them. There's been plenty of seeds and trial runs of characters who are looking to become more prominent at "Cataclysm's" end, so this is a refresh I can get behind. What a wonderful feeling that is!

Ultimate Spider-Man #200 comes out in April, reminding me how much I hate flashback numbering. Again, because I file comics as part of my job, I hate it because it makes sequential order difficult, which is a pretty lame reason to hate anything. Curse you, inconvenience! At the same time, it's hypocritical when Marvel wants All-New NOW! numbering sometimes, decimal numbering other times and then flashback numbering like this when it's convenient for them, so I guess we're both kind of lame in those respects. In this issue, we'll look at the anniversary of Peter Parker's death and the secrets he left behind. It's nice to see that we'll be looking back at poor Ultimate Parker as something that happened in a real world sense and not a story plot point sense, plus this is probably the send off for the flagship Ultimate title as we'll be seeing Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man pretty soon.

So that's just a small sample of what's important for April from Marvel. I didn't even get through all the new #1 issues!  What did I miss? How do you figure out what's important in months to come from these solicitations? Is it the numbering? The creator changes? The quick info listed with each title? Take a look at the full list and share your thoughts below. Excelsior!

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