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

The world is changing, and there's very little we can do about it: No matter how much we fear or hate it, it's just going to get squid face or tree bark-skin made of your ancestors, or some sort of cool whip-hand things ... and I forgot whether I was talking about the new Inhuman characters or the numbers on the covers of my comics. Let me start again: Last month, I addressed how Marvel's Tom Brevoort was talking about how the way we number comics is going to change to fit a market that demands #1 issues and fresh starts at a constant rate. I still think there's a better way to handle the start of storylines and the need for a reference point for the new reader, but putting all that aside, this is just the world we're living in now. We love the stories and the characters, we can work to figure out what sequence we're going in.

Perhaps we're looking at this all wrong? Maybe there's another way to accept the #1 barrage that already works with how we view and read comics sequentially? Let's look ahead to March and see if we can't figure this out! Click and read on, Dear Friend.

When looking at trade paperbacks, it can get confusing as to what book you should start with. Especially during the holidays when customers are coming in for comic book gifts for friends and family, they're often looking for "the first one" or "the latest one." It's even worse when they're looking for the trade that has "the issues where they stopped reading," because then there's a discussion to try to figure out when exactly that was. So, I've tried to teach people the magic of the indicia and how to deduce what volume you want to read and what issues are contained within. You'd think putting a number on the spine would be a simple idea, but a lot of trades are meant to be self-contained; whether they are or not is a subject for another time. Maybe, instead of looking at the #1 on the front cover of a comic and thinking this is a fresh start (like newer readers might be more excited for), instead longtime fans can just think of that number as a TRADE BEGINS HERE marker. Now we have an issue to count up from ("OK, after this there's going to be six or so months I'll have to get the trade, do I want to sample the issue now?") and to judge where a story line begins or ends. Honestly, I'm looking for any way to make sense of the constant death/rebirth cycle going on at Marvel right now, just some way to feel a little less lost in the shuffle as character death is almost as less permanent than series death.

In March, we're getting five zombie #1s: books that just died a month ago only to rise from the ashes with very little difference between then and now. Captain Marvel returns with Kelly Sue DeConnick and a new artist, David Lopez, as well as a new venue of outer space. It makes sense for Carol Danvers to go cosmic (in fact, there's more of a reason for her to be in space than it does for Tony Stark to be hanging with the Guardians of the Galaxy, but again ... digression) and, looking at it in a trade-paperback fashion, it does make sense to demarcate this issue as the start of a new story arc. Daredevil is doing the same thing; coming back with the same creative team as before, we're just moving Matt Murdock's things to the west coast as he's going back to Cali for a change of pace. A new #1 issue ensues. Flipping the trend, it looks like Secret Avengers is coming back with a familiar cast and concept, just with a new writer and artist. Really new, as Ales Kot broke out with his graphic-novel debut Wild Children, and artist Michael Walsh with the Image series Comeback, both in 2012. They're bringing back a familiar tagline, "RUN THE MISSION, DON’T GET SEEN, SAVE THE WORLD." which some of you might remember from the Warren Ellis run. Wolverine & the X-Men is staying put at the Jean Grey School of Higher Learning with the cast intact; it's just the creative team that's the change of pace. Writer Jason Latour and artist Mahmud Asrar are in charge now, and while I don't necessarily think of The Guy Who Did Winter Soldier as a wacky mutant teen-adventure writer, he's done enough work for Marvel to let me know the editors know what they're doing. Heh. Editors know what they're doing, that's a fun feeling!

Potshots aside, there are five other new #1s that are actually new comics entirely, the top of the heap for me being Warren Ellis on Moon Knight with Declan Shalvey, a guy who's just been killing it on the dark and the weird in Marvel comics. I'm so excited for this book my brain has blanked out whatever it was that Brian Michael Bendis did with the character however long ago in preparation for a new take and ideology. Jim Rhodes doesn't want to be part of the new Secret Avengers (which won't be that dissimilar than the last Secret Avengers) and has gotten his own title  Iron Patriot, where he'll be "bringing his fight against the bad guys to the home front," and I honestly don't know what that means for the series. Still, it's nice to see Rhodey take center stage, and I hope his series takes flight among comic fans. Another guy to take a chance on would be the new Magneto series by Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Hernandez Walta. Not that it won't be good; Magneto is a character long deserving of his own series, and Cullen Bunn can easily see it through; I just have a hard time thinking of why Magneto would need his own series now (or NOW! as the case might be). The solicit says that "After falling in with Cyclops and the X-Men, Erik Lehnsherr became just one more pawn in another man’s war," but that's not the case, is it? Isn't think the war he's always fought just with Cyclops as 'leader'? Does Magneto feel underused on Uncanny X-Men? Isn't he teaching Scott how to use what powers they have left? Isn't he working with S.H.I.E.L.D. as a double agent? Eh, Magneto is such a fascinating character, he deserves his own book but I just worry that he was fascinating character because of where he was rather than where the story has him now.

Meanwhile, Dan Slott and Mike Allred on Silver Surfer , a guy cool enough to have his own book but can never find the right footing on the shelves. They'll be bringing along an Earth Girl for Norin Radd's adventures, and maybe this is the personal perspective the cosmic character needs to get in touch with more grounded readers. Then again, the stunningly simple and poetic cover by Francesco Francavilla brings me back to a more Moebius approach and the lone nebulous philosopher of the starways. Maybe as a Marvel Knights series? Speaking of, the last of the big new #1s this month is the All-New Ghost Rider by Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore; from the solicitation:

A street race leads a young man on the FAST and FURIOUS road of destiny. Amid an East Los Angeles neighborhood running wild with gang violence and drug trafficking, a war brews in the criminal underworld! With four on the floor, Marvel’s newest GHOST RIDER puts vengeance in overdrive!!!

That's a lot of exclamation points!!! But seriously, maybe it's the East LA influence, but what if they geared Ghost Rider into more of a 100 Bullets-style series? In so much as the Spirit of Vengeance was something that was passed to people in need or a choice offered by Belasco (Mephisto would be too soon, right?) for those with a motive and a vehicle. Ghost Rider is such a visually stunning character, I think Tradd Moore will be selling this book -- and ased on just his stuff on the Luther Strode comics, it should be a hot book. Pun not intended.

There's tons more to talk about and some of them aren't even #1 issues! A+X is ending (though I'll believe it when I see it), X-Men Legacy is getting a #200 issue (despite being a depressing look at starring characters who've kicked the bucket - or might!), Hawkeye is getting an issue completely devoted to a cartoon TV show watched in the Marvel Universe, drawn by Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius' Chris Eliopoulos, and Avengers Arena is turning into Avengers Undercover with the kids that the Avengers Academy feared would turn to the dark side ... turning to the dark side. It's OK! They're undercover! Yeesh. Read the full solicitations for Marvel due out March 2013 and share what you're looking forward to in the comments below. Excelsior!

PREVIEW: Justice League #24

More in Comics