Uncanny Avengers #1 © Marvel Comics

Marvel NOW is billed as a ‘new beginning’ for the Marvel Universe, and boasting the most popular characters by the most acclaimed creators and most ambitious storylines, I’m left with a sense of déjà vu.

Marvel has promised new beginnings before, and stories that will blow the mind.  Sometimes they’ve even succeeded, and a series later, they bring in a new writer with a new idea and we start all over again.  Marvel’s like Groundhog Day in that respect.  I wonder if we will be in for a voyage of self-discovery and personal growth like said movie, or if we’ll be re-treading old ground over and over with only very minor changes.

The new releases kick off on 10 October with the Uncanny Avengers (written by Rick Remender and art by John Cassaday) and it’s no secret the line-up is Captain America, Havok, Thor, Rogue, the Scarlet Witch and Wolverine.  The story is proposed to be a follow-up to Avengers vs. X-Men, with some character development instigated by those events.  Remender is also writing this season’s Captain America.

I’m rather more interested in the idea of the All-New X-Men (writer Brian Bendis, artist Stuart Immonen) released on 7 November, which sees yet another incarnation of Jean Grey.  Brian Bendis, a writer whose work on Powers I enjoyed, has said “Jean coming back now is unlike Jean coming back before. This isn’t a reincarnated Jean, this isn’t a clone; this is Jean. She is coming here wide-eyed, but you also have to remember she’s coming into a world where she’s died. [It wasn’t] a great death, and I don’t want to spoil anything for AvX but she’s witnessed some things about her friends and loved ones that will make her feel wonderful, but also shock her to her very core and change all of her relationships… She’s going to witness what has happened to the X-Men and what she’ll do to try to change that, at a time when maybe her powers aren’t at their fullest yet” (Marvel Q&A).  Jean Grey is a classic example of a super who just won’t stay dead.  While the idea of bringing in a past of future version of a character might be narratively interesting, I don’t think the gimmick often pans out well.  Bringing back Jean Grey seems like a cash-in on fanboy enthusiasm for her but from what Bendis has said, it’s not a sure thing that Cyclops will heartlessly ditch his current squeeze immediately, like he’s done before.  Yes, I get that it’s meant to show his true, unwavering devotion, but if he had true, unwavering devotion, he wouldn’t end up marrying or going out with anyone else.  That way he wouldn’t have to act like a total arse with his disposable Jean Grey stand-ins.

I’m just saying, all those women could clearly do better.

Yet, I can’t exactly expect much when I look at the list of writers and see not a single woman on the list.  Again.  I’ve heard the argument as to why the Big 2 (that’s Marvel and DC to the likes of me) don’t hire more women, and I think it’s one of the more profoundly stupid arguments.  The argument goes that comics are aimed at a young male audience.  Because a business model that restricts itself to a single demographic is of course not going to lead to poor market performance.  Since nobody can see me, I should tell you that I’m rolling my eyes.  The comics industry is failing, I’m told.  I could respond, ‘in America and the UK maybe.  It’s doing incredibly in France and Japan, not to mention the Internet’.  One Piece (Oda Eiichiro) sells millions of copies (37,996,373 in 2011).  Not tens of thousands like Marvel and DC’s biggest titles.  Millions.  Worldwide.  Think about that for a moment when you’re arguing that the big 2 are holding their own.

My point is, you can keep making all the exciting “new beginnings” with the same characters over and over again that you want, but you need to make more room for different stories with different people if you want to expand your business and get new readers.  It doesn’t all have to be capes and powers.  And comics can be aimed at more demographics than teenage males.  Part of that would be hiring a more diverse block of writers.

Okay, time to wrangle that wild tangent back into its box.

All New X-Men © Marvel Comics

The other titles due for release later this year are:

A+X – writer: various, artist: various
31 October 2012
In a new buddy system, one Avenger and one X-men teams up for what will undoubtedly be shenanigans.  Am I the only one calling this one ‘ Mashup Central’?  Yes?  Oh.  Okay.

Iron Man – writer: Kieron Gillen, artist: Greg Land
7 November 2012
In which he starts pondering the nature of the Universe, and presumably where the Universe is keeping all the hottest blondes and best martinis.  Oh, and he’s getting a new suit because of bad life choices.

Deadpool – writers: Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan, artist: Tony Moore
7 November 2012
Something about Deadpool and dead presidents, which sounds like pure win in a can.

Thor: God of Thunder – writer: Jason Aaron, artist: Esad Ribic
14 November 2012
Not to be confused with the track by Manowar.

Fantastic Four – writer: Matt Fraction, artist: Mark Bagley
14 November 2012
Family road-trip into space, presumably leaving Earth to the new guys.

X-Men Legacy ­– writer: Si Spurrier, artist: Tan Eng Huat
14 November 2012
Is Legion finally going to get a distinct personality for good?

Captain America – writer: Rick Remender, artist: John Romita Jr.
21 November 2012
Serious shenanigans in Dimension Z.

Indestructible Hulk – writer: Mark Waid, artist: Leinil Yu
21 November 2012
Banner managed to disappear so the entire world’s started to panic just a bit.  How DO you lose the most dangerous man in the world anyway?

FF – writer: Matt Fraction, artist: Mike Allred
28 November 2012
You had one job while we were away.  One job.

Avengers – writer: Jonathan Hickman, artist: Jerome Opena
5 December 2012
Things are getting galactical.

New Avengers – writer: Jonathan Hickman, artist: Steve Epting
2 January 2013
Nothing to do here.

Thunderbolts – writer: Daniel Way, artist: Steve Dillon
No official release date yet.
Not to be confused with the Wonderbolts, those are ponies.

Avengers Arena – writer: Dennis Hopeless, artist: Kev Walker
No official release date yet.
A battle royale on the imaginatively named Murderworld.  I expect they love kittens there.

Cable and X-Force – writer: Dennis Hopeless, artist: Salvador Larroca
No official release date yet.
Looks like a team dynamic with a lot of scope for conflict.  Also, it’s released in December.

Uncanny X-Force – writer: Sam Humphries, artist: Ron Garney
No official release date yet.
All Psylocke channel, all the time.

Published by Mark Brassington

Father and Husband. Works in Corporate Banking. Loves Books, Comics, Cycling, Music, Games, going to the Gym and Writing.

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