Marvel NOW-ledge: What We Know So Far About the Revamp

<i>By <a href=>Albert Ching, Newsarama Staff Writer</a></i> <p>Marvel isn't rebooting, a fact that everyone speaking on behalf of the company is making abundantly clear. But they are attempting a splashy, New 52-esque publishing initiative in the form of <a href=>"Marvel NOW!"</a> a string of new series and relaunches starting in October, with a new #1 in stores roughly each week through February. <p>There's also rampant creative team shifts, redesigns, a new approach to covers, the hint that some characters will have new identities, and a greater integration of digital platforms. So far, four books have been officially announced as part of the initiative: October's <b>Uncanny Avengers</b> by Rick Remender and John Cassaday, November's <b>All-New X-Men</b> by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen, December's biweekly <b>Avengers</b> from Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Ope&#241;a; and <b>New Avengers</b>, by Hickman and Steve Epting, debuting in January. <p>Yet thanks to a media blitz here and elsewhere across the Internet, we actually know a lot more than that. And here are 10 things we can now conclude beyond the initial announcements based on the multiple initial interviews on the subject. Click "start here" in the upper-left corner to begin the countdown. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p> <p>


The initial press release for Marvel NOW! states that the covers for the books will have a cinematic new look." OK, but what exactly does that mean? <p>Turns out, they're looking to challenge some of the long-established rules from a system that isn't exactly current. "We're rethinking our approach to covers, challenging the old newsstand requirements of 'logo goes on the top, indicia goes on the bottom,'" Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso said in an <a href=>interview with Newsarama</a>. "We're taking a more flexible approach that allows cover artists to design their covers like a book cover or movie poster. We want our covers to blast off the racks." <p>So far, <a href=>one cover has been revealed</a>, <b>Uncanny Avengers #1</b>, and the logo is indeed not at the top it's kind of splayed out sideways. <p>If nothing else, it seems somewhat similar to the much-debated "iconic" versus "storytelling" cover shift of a decade or so ago at Marvel, a practice evidently phased out in recent years.


Unlike DC's New 52, Marvel NOW! won't be a wholesale turnover of the entire line of Marvel Universe books in fact, it looks like a few series will essentially be unaffected. <p>"<i>X-Factor</i> is one of a handful of titles that won't be profoundly affected," Alonso told Newsarama. In an interview with <a href=>CBR</a>, Alonso added the overwhelmingly critically acclaimed Mark Waid-written <i>Daredevil</i> to the list of books that won't be interrupted, unless plans change based on the creative team's direction.


<b>Uncanny Avengers</b> starts in October. <b>Avengers</b> will be biweekly, and <b>New Avengers</b> is also getting relaunched. <p>And that's not it: According to Marvel senior vice president of publishing Tom Brevoort in an <a href=>interview with Newsarama</a>, <i>Avengers Assemble</i> and <i>Secret Avengers</i> are both also continuing, though no concrete details have been revealed. No word yet on the status of <i>Avengers Academy</i>, but series writer Christos Gage has <a href=>indicated that the series will be continuing beyond "Final Exam,"</a> an upcoming storyline running through August and September. <p>"There is an awful lot of Avengers, and it shakes me to the core, but we have different things for each book to do," Brevoort said.


But while there will be a lot of Avengers titles, at least one X-Men book is going away and it's <i>Uncanny X-Men</i>, the long-time flagship series that was just relaunched with a new #1 last fall. <p>"Brian's <b>All-New X-Men</b> replaces or succeeds <i>Uncanny X-Men</i> in the same way that <i>New Avengers</i> succeeded <b>Avengers</b>," Brevoort told CBR. <p>Of course, that doesn't mean that <i>Uncanny X-Men</i> is going away forever after all, <i>Avengers</i> and <i>New Avengers</i> ended up co-existing, and will continue to do so in the "Marvel NOW!" era. It does beg the question of where <i>Uncanny X-Men</i> writer Kieron Gillen will go next, a subject that's been the source of speculation but has yet to be definitively confirmed.


<b>Avengers</b> and <b>New Avengers</b> aren't the only core Marvel titles getting new #1s. <p>"There will be a lot of new #1 issues including <i>Thor #1</i>, an <i>Iron Man #1</i>, and a <i>Captain America #1</i>," Alonso told CBR. <p>That certainly suggests new creative teams for each book, and it's already been confirmed that Ed Brubaker is exiting <i>Captain America</i>, and been something of a public secret that Matt Fraction is winding down his stint on <i>Invincible Iron Man</i>. Fraction exiting <i>The Mighty Thor</i> is a bit less expected, but not entirely surprising given the direction of things. <p>That info certainly sparks more questions, though, like: Who's taking over? And if these books are relaunching, what next? With Jason Aaron leaving <i>Incredible Hulk</i>, that feels like a possibility, even if that series just relaunched last year. Will there be a new Spider-Man title? Will <i>Fantastic Four</i> get a new #1 upon the arrival of whoever's coming after Jonathan Hickman leaves the franchise?


It's been apparent for a while, but it's now getting overt: Marvel's cosmic characters are officially a big deal. <p>Sure, you probably ascertained that from Thanos appearing in the mid-credits scene of the <i>Avengers</i> movie, or the Guardians of the Galaxy guest-starring in the current arc of <i>Avengers Assemble</i>. But with Nova and Rocket Raccoon prominently placed in the Joe Quesada-illustrated "Marvel NOW!" teaser image, it looks like things are getting kicked up a veritable notch. <p>Though none of the initially announced titles are blatantly cosmic-themed, that doesn't mean some of those characters might not end up in Hickman's 18 member (or more) <b>Avengers</b>, or that there isn't a <i>Guardians of the Galaxy</i> or <i>Nova</i> ongoing series on the way. Though Marvel doesn't want us to think of them as "cosmic books" anymore. <p>"Is there going to be a greater push and emphasis on some of those characters, are we doing a concerted effort on re-establishing their footprint in the Marvel Universe? Absolutely," Brevoort said to Newsarama. "And it's not running from the fact that these are characters whose adventures take place on a galactic scale. But we're not really thinking of them as, 'Now we're doing cosmic books.' We're doing Marvel Comics."


When the initial hook for <b>All-New X-Men</b> was revealed earlier this week, plenty of people had a similar thought. <p>"Is that really an ongoing series?" <p>With the original X-Men time-traveling to the present day, many onlookers figured that had to be a miniseries, or maybe just the opening arc of the book, due to the unique nature of the premise and various time-travel paradoxes familiar to fans of science fiction (something that Bendis had seemingly tried to take the sting out of by telling Entertainment Weekly that the story was more <i>Pleasantville</i> than <i>Back to the Future</i>). <p>Looks like the old-school X-Men are around for the long haul, and that will have consequences for the X-books en masse. <p>"The stuff that comes out of it, the fact that the X-Men come here, and see the world, and go, 'This is pretty weird;' that's not a six-issue story," Brevoort told Newsarama. "The choices they make, the decisions they come to, what they decided that has to be done, that's the kickoff point, that's going to propel the X-Men titles as a whole for a good, long while."


Jonathan Hickman's <b>Avengers</b> is said to have 18 or more members, and we already know a few. <p>Some or all of the six movie Avengers (Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow, as if you didn't know) and perhaps even the new Nick Fury introduced in <i>Battle Scars</i> and seen in the "Marvel NOW!" teaser are a lock to play a part. <p>"It's a fair bet, I would say, that if you were in a major Marvel Studios motion picture this year, you will be represented in <b>Avengers</b>," Brevoort told Newsarama, adding that the new Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers, will also be a part of the series. <p>So who else? <a href=>Entertainment Weekly</a> has reported that Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, will be part of the mix, and CBR adds Falcon and Spider-Woman to the pile. <p>Plus, the lineup will include new characters, evidently plural. According to Brevoort, there are also a couple of more characters who have never before been Avengers (don't forget, Shang-Chi was recently in <i>Secret Avengers</i>). That's a good 13 or 14 right there, with the rest ripe for educated guessing.


<b>Uncanny Avengers</b> seems likely to be a more intimate affair, both in contrast to <b>Avengers</b> and also since it appears that's what series writer Rick Remender prefers, based on the relatively small ensemble he's used in <i>Uncanny X-Force</i>. <p>Six Uncanny Avengers are known: Captain America, Thor, Scarlet Witch, Wolverine, Rogue and Havok, in the somewhat surprising role of team leader. There very well could be more members to come, but at least at this point, those six appear to be the nucleus of the new "bridge book" firing the Marvel NOW! starting pistol.


In our interview with Axel Alonso, he divulged this vague hint about what makes the post-<i>Avengers vs. X-Men</i> Marvel Universe a notably different place: <p>"For one team, that starts with new leadership, and a new challenge to that leadership. For the other team, it means rethinking the philosophy of how it operates and how it is composed and dealing with the loss of a major character, who must embark on a new mission that requires he goes elsewhere." <p>So... what's that all about? We know that Havok is a leader of an Avengers team, is that the "new leadership"? And it's hard to hear "loss of a major character" and not think about Havok's brother Cyclops, whose current run as one of the Phoenix Five seems almost destined to end poorly. Although "new mission" sounds pretty positive maybe the opposite is true, and he's actually getting a major promotion, a la Iron Man after <i>Civil War</i>? <p>Oh, and how does current <b>New Avengers</b> team leader Luke Cage, who has been absent thus far from the early promotion, fit into things? <p>More precisely, "rethinking the philosophy" certainly sounds like it's referring to the Avengers, who have been said to be thinking "bigger" in the post-<i>AvX</i> era. So what major Avengers character is leaving? Should it be considered conspicuous that Iron Man isn't on the <b>Uncanny Avengers</b> cover along with Cap and Thor? <p>There is still a lot yet to be revealed with Marvel NOW, but with Comic-Con a week away, answers might be coming sooner rather than later. Or, at the very least, more vague hints to further fuel even more wild speculation. (Most likely a mix of both.)

Marvel NOW-ledge: What We Know So Far About the Revamp

Date: 05 July 2012 Time: 09:07 PM ET