<p>This week, Marvel Comics announced that the second wave of their character/series spotlight program "Marvel NOW!" would begin in December 2012. Dubbed "All-New Marvel NOW!" in grand Marvel tradition, the program starts with an obvious choice, spotlighting the new, first post-<i>Infinity</i> story arc of Jonathan Hickman's <b>Avengers</b>. <p>But then in January things get a little crazier, with <b>Inhuman</b> and <b>All-New Invaders</b> launching under the banner. <p>So you know what's coming, right? Based on current trends, context clues, intuition and a little bit of wild guessing, here are picks for 10 possible – and maybe even probable – series that might get announced as part of All-New Marvel NOW!
Though a <i>Doctor Strange</i> Marvel Studios film might be far away - Kevin Feige confirmed earlier this year that he's in the plans for "Phase Three" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe - it's not too early for Marvel to start building Stephen Strange back up as a solo character. <p>Known more as a team player in recent years featured in both the current and prior versions of <i>New Avengers</i> Strange has a long history on his own, and likely a long line of current high-profile creators eager to write some new stories. His most recent solo venture was the <i>Doctor Strange Season One</i> graphic novel last fall, written by Greg Pak. <p>It's an obvious pattern that Marvel movie stardom almost always coincides with a new series – just look at the <i>Guardians of the Galaxy</i> – so a new <i>Doctor Strange</i> book seems like a safe bet for some point in the near-ish future.
The end of Greg Rucka's run on <b>Punisher</b> and <b>Punisher: War Zone</b> didn't exactly leave things high and dry. Instead, he left us with an all-new female Punisher, and that is simply far too cool to keep dangling with no follow-up. <p>While the original, Frank Castle, is cavorting around on secret missions with the all-new all-red Thunderbolts, let's give his female dopplegänger a shot in the spotlight. Rachel Cole-Alves has unlimited potential. She could run things completely differently from Frank, and try to work more alongside the law. She could go <i>way worse</i> than Frank, with no existing ties to the Superhero community. And of course, how the world, from heroes to villains to the man on the street reacts to a female Punisher is all a gold mine for characterization, social commentary, and a real shake-up in how women are viewed in comics. <p>Female characters and new characters as stars of major titles are constantly cried out for, so Marvel shouldn't keep Cole-Alves off store shelves for long.
The $1.5 billion grossing 2012 <i>Avengers</i> movie was a boon for all involved, including the characters that made up the main cast. But only one of them doesn't currently have a solo ongoing series: Black Widow. <p>Given that <i>Hawkeye</i> has been one of the most buzzworthy books of the past year, it makes sense that Marvel might try and replicate that success a little bit with the other non-powered movie Avenger. Sure, she's a part of the main <i>Avengers</i> book as well as <i>Secret Avengers</i>, but that doesn't preclude another shot at a solo series (Iron Man is in his own book, <i>Avengers</i>, <i>New Avengers</i> and <i>Guardians of the Galaxy</i>, after all). <p>Plus, it'd help booster superhero diversity by being another Marvel title starring a female character, especially since <i>Captain Marvel</i> (apparently having not shown up on solicitations for two months), <i>Red She-Hulk</i>, and <i>Journey Into Mystery</i> have all recently been cancelled, leaving the team books <i>Fearless Defenders</i> and Brian Wood's <i>X-Men</i> the only female-starring titles at Marvel.
It's clear that cosmic titles are a priority at Marvel, and given the early success of <i>Nova</i> and <i>Guardians of the Galaxy</i>, they're likely not stopping there. <p>So another space-faring series (or two or three) looks highly probably for phase two of Marvel NOW!, and the most obvious contender is probably Silver Surfer, one of Marvel's most popular and iconic characters from that sphere of their universe. He's been starring in solo books on and off since 1968, though hasn't been seen too much lately which could be an indicator that Marvel has impending plans for the character. <p>In fact, it seems like that might be exactly the case. Back in Spring 2013 on the soon-to-close site <a href=http://www.formspring.me/JonathanHickman/q/427349135104966646>Formspring</a>, <i>Avengers</i> and <i>New Avengers</i> writer Jonathan Hickman wrote, " LOTS of Surfer talk at the most recent Marvel retreat." <p>We're willing to bet he didn't only mean a cameo in <i>Daredevil</i>
Sure, they came into the Ultimate Universe in June's <b>Ultimate Comics Spider-Man</b>, but this golden snitch of the Marvel Universe - everyone seems to want them and no one can seem to catch them and hold on - needs to find their way back to readers' eyes. <p>The definition of "Fan-Favorite," several writers have tried to bring this duo back into the mainstream, and even more have expressed their <i>desire</i> to. Where Marvel NOW! has succeeded in bringing more obscure characters to the foreground, wave 2 can dig even deeper and let this dichotomy of light and darkness take center stage. There are even some decent jumping off points - perhaps they spin out of an encounter with the new Young Avengers; maybe they have an adventure with the Uncanny Avengers, since they already have ties to both the X-Men and the Earth's Mightiest Heroes. <p>No matter how you slice it, there would be a vocal group of fans very excited about this pair's return - though perhaps how they perform in <i>Ultimate Spidey</i> will determine their viability to the main Marvel Universe.
When last Paul Cornell was playing in the Marvel Universe, he had a critically acclaimed hit with a passionate fan base that just couldn't find its sales feet in <b>Captain Britain and MI-13</b>. But now that he's back after a couple of years over at DC (earlier this year he relaunched the solo <i>Wolverine</i> title for the House of Ideas), it may be the perfect time to try again with the mystically and multiversally-tied hero. <p>Captain Britain, the Marvel 616 member of the corps of the same name, has ties to Avalon, and King Arthur, and Excalibur, and magic and a twist-on-the-green-lantern-willpower idea, and he has his own academy to train young European heroes, and he had an awesome, diverse cast in his last series, and his profile was raised with appearances in <i>Uncanny X-Force</i> and <i>Marvel Avengers Alliance</i>, and his sister Psylocke is in at least <i>two</i> ongoings of her own! Phew! Add to all of that the multiverse getting a big push over in <i>Avengers</i> and <i>New Avengers</i>, and other books across the line, and you have the absolute perfect time to give Captain Britain another try of his own. <p>While you're at it, Marvel, and you keep building your powerhouse Avengers squad? A guy with his level of confidence would sure be a good addition.
This one may be a case of not if, but when: Brian Michael Bendis teased a new version of <i>Heroes for Hire</i> last fall in his final issue of <i>New Avengers</i>, with a conversation between Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. <p>"I have a take, and it's not Heroes for Hire exactly," <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/brian-bendis-guardians-of-the-galaxy.html>Bendis told Newsarama</a> in January. "As Luke says in there, it's a new take on it. I hit Mike [Deodato] with it, and Mike's like, "I'm all in." I'm going to the Marvel retreat in February, I'm going to try to lock that puppy down." <p>It's worth noting that Luke Cage and Iron Fist two characters that will always be associated with Heroes for Hire have mostly been off the grid in the Marvel NOW! era, perhaps being held back for a new project. But Bendis warned us back in January that the book may not be a totally sure thing. <p>"I feel the only thing standing in my way is the success of <i>All-New X-Men</i>," he said. "This happened to me when I was on <i>Avengers</i>, too. It gets to a point where I can tell they would rather I just write <i>All-New X-Men</i>. Or ask if there's any way I could do it in <i>X-Men</i>. [<i>Laughs</i>.] And I completely understand it, but we'll have to figure it out." <p>Of course, both characters known as Power Man are now appearing in <i>Mighty Avengers</i>, so that may put this one on hold for awhile.
Come December 2013, we will be into one year without Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man, with <b>Superior Spider-Man</b> in his place. Recent history has shown a year to be a common end-point for stories like this, with Johnny Storm (and <i>Fantastic Four</i> as a title) coming back after 12, for example. <p>Now, with a five-week celebration at Marvel in December and the major start of All-New Marvel NOW! in January, it gives us the perfect chance for Peter to come back - or, we suppose, for someone like Kaine (or dare we say Ben Reilly?) to come back to New York and <i>also</i> assume the identity of the Amazing Spider-Man, challenging Ock's status as his plan starts to collapse around him. <p>It's all speculation, but one thing is for sure: this status quo can't last <i>forever</i>. Something has to give, as Dock Ock won't be how we view Spider-Man 10, 5, or even most likely 1 year from now. Maybe Wave 2 is the time to make that change.
With the recent end of <b>X-Factor</b>, it seems to be in a position for the title to relaunch in some form. <p>Peter David revolutionized the way we think about Jamie Madrox - he was basically his only writer for two decades - but has already said he's moving on. <p>However, that could be why a truly fresh approach from a younger writer like Joshua Hale Fialkov or Sam Humphries (who just refreshed <i>Uncanny X-Force</i>, of course) could be just what Marvel needs to push <b>X-Factor</b> back into the upper-tier of the Marvel Universe. A new form of <b>X-Factor</b> could take shape using some younger mutants, or refugees from Battle of the Atom, or other universes or - look, there are a lot of possibilities in the family of X at Marvel. <p>Monet is moving on to join Wood's all-female <i>X-Men</i> team, but there are still interesting characters here who need to pick up the pieces, and we hope to see some if not all of them relaunched in the next wave.
Yes, we mean it, <b>Ant-Man</b> is the number one candidate for a Marvel NOW! book, and it's actually quite logical why. <p>First, there's the upcoming movie. Like Doctor Strange, we'll be seeing Ant-Man hit the big screen in the relatively near future, and a newer comic book that supports that release is always a welcome thing for a multimedia company like Marvel to have. It doesn't hurt that the character has just shown up in the Facebook <i>Avengers</i> game, either. But that's not the only reason it's time for Hank Pym to be back in the old helmet. <p><i>Age of Ultron</i> had a major effect on this founding Avenger, and gave him a renewed sense of focus on a super heroic mission. Yes, he's leading the <i>Avengers: A.I.</i> squad, but with a large supporting cast, it still isn't giving him his real chance to shine. <p>Giving Ant-Man his due now, instead of two years from now when his movie comes out, gives us plenty of time to let the character grow (sorry) and show <i>why</i> he belongs alongside Avengers like Captain America and Iron Man.