What NOW!? 10 Questions About Marvel's Non-Reboot Revamp

<i>By <a href=http://www.twitter.com/Newsarama/>Newsarama Staff</a></i> <p>It's no longer <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/marvel-its-coming-phoenix-teaser-111017.html>"coming."</a> It's here. <p>No, we're not talking about the Phoenix force, we're talking about details on Marvel's <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/marvel-reevolution-next-big-thing.html>long-speculated</a> post-<i>Avengers vs. X-Men</i> plans. <p>Turns out, the publisher is set to unveil a <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/marvel-now-reevolution-uncanny-avengers.html>fairly large-scale revamp starting in October called "Marvel NOW!"</a> which, while not a reboot, is somewhat DC New 52-esque in terms of rampant creative team changes and relaunches of classic titles plus new series, starting with <b>Uncanny Avengers</b>, <b>All-New X-Men</b> and <b>Avengers</b>. <p>Details are still relatively slim following an <a href=http://popwatch.ew.com/2012/07/03/marvel-now-jean-grey-exclusive/>Entertainment Weekly</a> article, and naturally, we're pretty curious. Click "start here" in the upper-left corner for our (first) 10 questions about "Marvel NOW!". <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p> <p>


How deep will Marvel reach into the coffers for these new series? With 20 or so new #1s over the course of five months, you have to imagine they'll be trying a couple they've never tried before, and hopefully trying a few that's haven't been able to stick up until now. <p>Is now the time (finally) for a <i>Runaways</i> relaunch? Maybe <i>Cloak and Dagger</i> will slide into the lineup? We know, of course, that the Avengers and X-Men will be front-and-center, as Marvel truly capitalizes on both of their massive franchises, but with mutant ties in both of the aforementioned books, it is a possibility. <p>While all three initial titles are team books, there's also the possibility for some new solo titles. As Graeme mentioned over on <a href=http://blog.newsarama.com/2012/07/03/9-thoughts-on-marvel-now/>Blog@</a>, the time sure seems right for someone like Northstar to run into his own series. <p>Will Marvel stay safe and stick to the all-but-automatic sellers, or use this as an opportunity to dig deep and revive some lost characters? (<I>Lucas Siegel</i>.)


Like <i>Amazing Spider-Man</i> before it, the new, Jonathan Hickman-written <b>Avengers</b> will ship twice a month starting this December in the "Marvel NOW!" era. (Image pictured from Jonathan Hickman's run on <i>Ultimate Comics Ultimates</i>.) <p>It's become something of a trend at Marvel lately books like <i>Uncanny X-Men</i> and <i>Avengers Academy</i> frequently ship more than once a month but by pushing the biweekly nature of <b>Avengers</b> in the early "Marvel NOW!" press, the publisher is potentially suggesting an even further shift away from the traditional monthly book model. <p>And if "Marvel NOW!" is about freshening up their publishing line, then it makes sense that the way books are released would also be re-examined, along with the actual content of the comics. So what's the next biweekly "Marvel NOW!" book? Will fans complain about frequent artist changes, or will the quality be maintained to a degree that will win over skeptics? And will a monthly comic one day be as rare at Marvel as a 22-page single issue? (<i>Albert Ching</i>.)


Marvel may be launching a new series every week for five months, but who's to say that all of them will be ongoing, a la DC's New 52? <p>Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen's <em>All-New X-Men</em>, for example, not only sounds like a series that can't be sustained indefinitely (it is, after all, based around characters integral to the past of the Marvel Universe coming to the present; they have to go back sometime, don't they?) but is referred to by Bendis in the Entertainment Weekly article as a "story," not a series. <p>If some of these new launches are intended to have definite end-points, then this could be another place where Marvel has learned from DC's experience with relaunching its line: Not everything has to continue forever. Sometimes, the audience prefers to read a good story with a beginning, middle and end than it does a new franchise to be explored and exploited for as long as possible. (<i>Graeme McMillan</i>.)


Something interesting about the EW article announcing Marvel NOW! is that the three books center around the Avengers and X-Men franchises (with one of the three books even crossing them over, again, to create a mega-franchise, Voltron-like). <p>But... what about Marvel's <em>other</em> big-name franchises? According to Joe Quesada, there's a reason that Sue Richards is in the promotional image, so something is clearly going to be happening with the Fantastic Four, but with Jonathan Hickman reportedly leaving both <em>Fantastic Four</em> and <em>FF</em>, what can we expect from that side of the Marvel Universe and will <em>FF</em> even continue to exist without Hickman? <p>And what changes can we expect to see from the Spider-Man side of things? Will Dan Slott jump off the title after #700 (unlikely, but you never know)? Will <em>Avenging Spider-Man</em> be replaced by a brand-new <em>Marvel Team-Up</em>? And where do books like <em>Hulk</em>, <em>Defenders</em> and the rumored <em>Guardians of The Galaxy</em> relaunch fall in the new scheme of things? (<i>Graeme McMillan</i>.)


With the "Marvel NOW!" news, two of the biggest questions Marvel fans have had for the past six months have been answered: What's Brian Michael Bendis doing after leaving Avengers, and who's taking over the franchise once he leaves? (The not entirely shocking answers are "<i>All-New X-Men</i>, at least in part," and "Jonathan Hickman," respectively.) <p>But while those are out of the way, they're hardly the only creative team-centric curiosities left. We know what Jonathan Hickman is doing, but who's taking over <i>Fantastic Four</i> in his stead? Ed Brubaker was recently announced as departing <i>Captain America</i>, so who's on tap for Cap? It looks like Matt Fraction is most likely wrapping up his <i>Invincible Iron Man</i> run, so where does he go from here, and who's going to step up and tackle Tony Stark's adventures? What about <i>Incredible Hulk</i>, which Jason Aaron <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/jason-aaron-incredible-hulk-red-hulk.html>looks to be leaving</a> at some point in the near-ish future? <p>The questions are many, but at this point, the answers are few perhaps Comic-Con, which starts next week, will provide a few answers. (<i>Albert Ching</i>.)


On the one hand, rolling out Marvel NOW! over five months seems like a great alternative to the abrupt, everything-happens-at-once sensibility of DC's New 52 relaunch, which required fans and retailers to gamble on 52 different new series in the space of a month. <p>But on the other, by being launched piecemeal over the course of almost half a year, Marvel NOW! dilutes its impact and gives audiences a chance to try the earliest issues of the relaunch and decide it's not for them before the latter issues have even been solicited as well as retailers a chance to take the temperature of the branding and know whether or not they should lower expectations on later launches given how the earlier ones have performed in the marketplace. <p>Given the speed of comics commentary and the attention span of collective fandom, there's every possibility that, by the time February 2013 rolls around with the final first issues of the programs's launches, we'll have been through not only the initial wave of excitement, but also the backlash, the backlash <em>to</em> the backlash, and well into the general apathy towards everything stage. (<i>Graeme McMillan</i>.)


We have two brand new #1 Avengers titles in just this, the official first announcement of the initiative. One brings X-characters (well, one, for certain, there's nothing saying Hickman's book won't too), and Hickman's title has a massive roster to pull from. <p>So what does that mean for the current Avengers titles? <i>Secret Avengers</i>, for example, could easily be replaced by <b>Uncanny Avengers</b>, with Remender using this team for intense, globe-trotting action. Having two "main" Avengers titles has been a little off at times, with some characters being on both squads, so it would appear that Hickman's title is replacing both of those. <p>It's clear this shakeup will be affecting the makeup of the Avengers teams, but it's unclear how much it will affect the lineup of books being published themselves. (<I>Lucas Siegel</i>.)


And that of course leads us to the X-books. At last count, there were 48 X-Men titles. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but with a good 14 current books, and only 190 some odd mutants to play with, it seems like the X-Men might be getting stretched thin, especially when you add in a third title with the word "Uncanny" into the mix. <p><i>Uncanny X-Men</i>, <i>Wolverine and the X-Men</i>, <i>X-Factor</i>, <i>X-Men Legacy</i> and <i>X-Men</i> all seem like they could be in some level of jeopardy, especially with the addition of <b>All-New X-Men</b>. The very makeup of the X-Men, including whether or not there's still a "schism," could very well change. Havok, currently on X-Factor, and Rogue, currently the main character of <i>Legacy</i>, are both confirmed members of the <b>Uncanny Avengers</b>, but there's certainly nothing saying characters can't be on more than one team (hi, Wolverine). <p>Still, it seems as though the makeup of the Marvel Universe as a whole will change pretty drastically come the end of <i>Avengers vs. X-Men</i>, and with those story-based changes, the face of the X-Men line is likely to change as well. (<I>Lucas Siegel</i>.)


And it's not just some of the X-Men and Avengers books that might be on the endangered species list. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction; and for every new series, more often than not, there's also a few canceled books. <p>So if Marvel is introducing around 20 new series in the coming months, it makes sense that at least a few are likely on their way out. Sure, some will probably be replacements for current books, but with wholly new series like <b>Uncanny Avengers</b>, the odds are that a few are just done. <p>So... which ones? With Kieron Gillen seemingly nearing the end of his <i>Journey Into Mystery</i> run, does that book have much of a long-term future past that point? As noted earlier, will <i>FF</i> continue to co-exist with <i>Fantastic Four</i>, even without the guy who has written every issue of the spinoff series, Jonathan Hickman? Does <i>Avenging Spider-Man</i> still make sense as a concept in the post-<i>AvX</i> world (and is Spider-Man even still an Avenger)? <p>All will be revealed... at some point, surely. (<i>Albert Ching</i>.)


OK, it's not a reboot. We've been told this many, <em>many</em> times by those in the know at Marvel. And yet... <p>There's a time travel element here, with the time-displaced mutants of <b>All-New X-Men</b>, that seems curiously well-placed to help tidy up any loose ends Marvel's editors and creators might be uncomfortable with. <p>After all, there has to have been something that brings the original X-Men to the present day, and there's almost no way that such a trip could be made without the time stream being affected in some way, right...? <p>Marvel doesn't do full-scale "reboots" that's always been DC's party trick but it does do subtle nudges to its own history (see Iron Man's "Extremis" change to the character's origin, or Mephisto's undoing of Spider-Man's marriage). Will this new beginning for the Marvel Universe have more "new" in it than people might be expecting? (<i>Graeme McMillan</i>.)

What NOW!? 10 Questions About Marvel's Non-Reboot Revamp

Date: 03 July 2012 Time: 08:54 PM ET