Spring, a Time for Renewal, Rebirth

And oh, what a rebirth this Spring will bring for Marvel Comics. <p>The biggest news of the season, let alone the month of April 2014, has of course already hit: Peter Parker is back, and he's back in an all-new <b>Amazing Spider-Man #1</b>. But a bit more on that later anyway... <p>Aside from Spidey, there were questions in the air answered by the solicitations, more specials and returning creators than you can shake a stick at, and a major ending or two to go along with all the new. <p>Click on through and see what we think are the ten biggest stories out of Marvel's April 2014 offerings. If you don't see your personal #1 in there, please know this month was so packed, we cut it down from a staggering 22 possible entries. It's a big one for Marvel.

DnA Returns to the Guardians For Prelude to Feature Film

They didn’t create the Guardians of the Galaxy, and they weren’t the ones to make it a top-selling book. But they are the ones that made them memorable.   <p>Long-time writing duo Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are returning to their cosmic Avengers for three stories in April. First off we’ll be seeing DnA team with artist Wellinton Alves to write a prequel to the forthcoming movie titled <I>Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude</I>. If that weren’t enough, DnA is writing… well, just keep reading.   <p>There’s not much word yet on the content of these stories outside of one centering on Nebula (as played by Karen Gillan in the film, pictured), but given the creativity DnA brought to the team the first time they touched down Newsarama has high hopes for this return engagement.

KICK-ASS Is Over

With <b>Kick-Ass 3 #8</b>, Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.'s epic that has spawned spin-off series and two feature films (so far) comes to an end. The finale is 48 pages, and will, as seen in the cover, heavily feature both the titular character and the breakout star, Hit-Girl. <p>But the more interesting part of the solicitation comes at the end: <p>"This milestone double- sized issue marks the end of one era and the start of a new Millarworld universe." <p>Will there be a direct tie-in within <b>Kick-Ass</b> that teases one of Millar's new series for 2014? Is there some place for, if not Kick-Ass, maybe at least Hit-Girl in the future? We'll have to wait until April to find out, but either way there's no denying the impressive popularity of a series about a kid who starts his superhero career by getting the crap kicked out of him, stabbed, and losing much of his ability to sense pain.

Rhodey Dies!

Is James “Rhodey” Rhodes stepping into the spotlight again with the <I>Iron Patriot</I> series only to die after only one full issue? If you believe Marvel’s solicitations for April’s <I>Iron Patriot #2</I>, then that’s what you should expect. The solicit ends with “And… James Rhodes dies!!!” but hints earlier at the Iron Patriot suit being controlled by an outside party. What’s going on?   <p>In our <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/19230-nycc-2013-ales-kot-compares-new-iron-patriot-to-superman.html>interview</A> with series writer Ales Kot back in October, the writer said the series would focus on the “consequences of being a pilot with conscience inside a war robot wearing the American flag.” Kot went on to state that the <I>Iron Patriot</I> miniseries will pull back the curtain on Rhodey’s family, particularly his father.   <p>So is Rhodey truly dying as Marvel says in the press release? Perhaps it could be a bit of wordplay; perhaps Rhodey is James Rhodes Jr., making his father James Rhodes as well. The death of parents can do a lot to bring new depth and motivation to a character in comics. Just ask Batman.

Wolverine: School Drop-Out

For the past few months Marvel and <I>Wolverine</I> series writer Paul Cornell have been teasing some dire straits for Logan in 2014. And it all looks to be coming to a head if you read the solicits for April’s <I>Wolverine</I> and <I>Wolverine & The X-Men</I>: Logan is leaving the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning.   <p>The solicits for <I>Wolverine #4</I> says it all: “Why did Logan leave the Jean Grey School? Your Answers are here!”  Over in <I>Wolverine & The X-Men</I> we see Storm stepping to the fore in place of Wolverine – in one cover literally standing over the broken image of the school founder.   <p><I>Wolverine & The X-Men</I> writer Jason Latour <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/19732-jason-latour-schools-wolverine-the-x-men.html>hinted</A> at this turn of events when he was announced as the series new writer, but the covers for the Wolverine titles in April literally puts a face on it.   <p>Why you ask? Logan will be losing his healing factor according to <I>Wolverine #5</I>’s solicits, leading him to change the way he operates.

Yes, Superior Spider-Man is ending

So, <b>Superior Spider-Man #31</b> does carry the "Series Finale" tag, and that ends all speculation about it continuing somehow, right? <p>Well, not quite. Of course, this incarnation of the series is ending, but we're still not completely convinced that <b>Amazing Spider-Man</b> will be the only ongoing solo Spidey series. Sure, we'll see <i>some</i> final fate for Otto Octavius here, but if there's one thing for sure, it's that Dan Slott plans ahead, and he does not let things go. <p>So where does the end of <b>Superior</b> leave us? Well, there's another Spider-Man in New York, still, presuming he doesn't somehow get back to 2099 in the next 5 issues, and that means Miguel O'Hara needs a new role to play in the modern day. There's also the fact that while he messed up a bit along the way, Otto, for the most part, <i>did</i> reform, and did a lot of good in the last year and change. <p>So yes, <b>Superior Spider-Man #31</b> is the series finale, but that doesn't have us convinced just yet that it means we won't see "All-New Superior" in May...

But it Seems Superior Foes & Team-Up Are Not

…Especially since there is <i>no</i> "Series Finale" or "Final Issue" tag on the two spin-off series, <b>Superior Foes of Spider-Man</b> and <b>Superior Spider-Man Team-Up</b>. Instead, the 12th issues of each seem to be business-as-usual for the most part, although <b>Team-Up</b> is a unique flashback story (with Peter and Otto teaming up in the past). <p>Losing <b>Superior Foes</b> would certainly make many members of our Best Shots review team sad, and you, the readers would agree: you voted the series #8 on the top ten best current Marvel Comics not one month ago. It's possible both books will see a bit of retooling after the end of <b>Superior Spider-Man</b>, but they appear to be safe for now, at least.

What If? Returns As 5-Part Weekly Series on Age of Ultron

Many great fiction stories begin their life when writers ask “What If…?” And in April, <I>Glory</I> co-writer is bringing that question --- and the popular Marvel series of yore – back for a five-part weekly series titled <I>What If? Age of Ultron</I>.   <p>Fresh off of <I>Marvel Knights: Hulk</I> by this point, Keatinge will delve back into the 2013 event series <I>Age of Ultron</I> and posit how things might have gone had events played out differently. But instead of it being squarely about <I>Age of Ultron</I>, this five-part series looks like a series of one-shots imagining how different the Marvel U would have turned out without a founding Avenger. <p>Issue 1 shows the Marvel U without the Wasp. Issue 2 shows a world without Tony Stark. Issue 3 shows a world missing Thor. Issue 4, Marvel’s most patriotic hero Captain America is never born. Issue 5, what if there was no Ultron? <p>The solicitations for <I>What If? Age of Ultron</I> poses some intriguing questions (and some great guest artists including Ming Doyle, Piotr Kowalski, Mico Suyan, Ramon Villalalbos and Raffaele Ienco), and we look forward to April when Keatinge begins to give us an answer.

The Number 1s of Spring

<b>Amazing Spider-Man</b>. <b>Iron Fist: Living Weapon</b>. <b>Elektra</b>. <b>Hulk</b>. <b>Nightcrawler</b>. <b>Inhuman</b> (finally). <b>All-New Doop</b>. <p>Those all get new #1s in April 2014 at Marvel. For the record, that's one mid-run relaunch, one that hasn't been around in a year and a half, and five that are either brand new or haven't had a series in several years. <p>While all of these were announced well before the solicitations, there are still things to note here. For instance, the solicitation text for <b>Inhuman #1</b>, now being written by Charles Soule, reads completely differently from the Fraction version from a few months ago (that was originally debuting <i>this</i> month, January). <b>Hulk</b> gets two issues this month, and <b>Amazing Spider-Man</b> only gets one (though there is another Spidey issue - <b>Superior #31</b> to keep the two-per-month thing going, plus both are 64 pages each). <p>No matter how you shake it, Marvel has definitely been dedicated to fresh starts with their last two years of Marvel NOW! promotions, and April has plenty for people who want to get in on the ground floor of a story.

Daredevil #1.5 Fast-Forwards to Matt Murdock at Age 50

2014 is the fiftieth anniversary of Daredevil, and in April Marvel is doing something unique to ring in the occasion: showing what Matt Murdock would be like at age 50.   <p><B>Daredevil</b> series writer Mark Waid is joining Javier Rodriguez to give readers a look into the future for the Man without Fear with the special half issue <I>Daredevil #1.50</I>. In this 40 page one-shot, Waid and Rodriguez will fast-forward to Murdock’s 50th birthday to see how the red devil turned out, who’s still alive to celebrate the special occasion, and who’s not. Marvel also promises some back-up stories by “special guest creators from Murdock’s murky past,” so could we see the likes of Stan Lee, John Romita Sr., Dick Ayers, Gerry Conway, or perhaps even Frank Millar, David Mazzuchelli, Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev or others?   <p>If that wasn’t enough, Marvel is padding <I>Daredevil #1.50</I> out with six variant covers – five by Marcos Martin and one by regular series artist Chris Samnee – so they’re hoping this thing will be big. And from the sounds of the story, it could be.

Busy Bendis Assembles Anniversary Issues

Brian Michael Bendis is a busy guy, so what does he do in April 2014? He writes not one, not two, but <i>three</i> over-sized anniversary issues, of course! <p>First up (um, alphabetically) is <b>All-New X-Men #25</b>. In the issue, regular artist Stuart Immonen is joined by a surprising line-up of artists including Art Adams, Bruce Timm, J. Scott Campbell, Skottie Young, Rafael Grampa, and the always popular "And More!" It's a heck of a line-up for a 40-pager, and leads into the return of the "Future Brotherhood" in the double-shipping issue #26. <p><b>Guardians of the Galaxy #14</b> marks the 101st issue of a series called "Guardians of the Galaxy," and since the 100th issue comes during the crossover with the <i>last</i> series we just wrote about, they're celebrating here. In this 48-page special issue, Nick Bradshaw comes on as artist, and we see Agent Venom and Captain Marvel joining the team. But wait, there's more! Two back-up stories by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, the writers who launched the modern team, are also in the special issue (one of their two returns to the Guardians in April). <p>Finally, there's <b>Ultimate Spider-Man #200</b>, the only issue of the Ultimate Spidey's adventures in April (guess <b>Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man</b> is kicking off in May?). The issue sees Brian Michael Bendis joined by almost ever artist on the series so far: Dave Marquez, Mark Bagley, Mark Brooks, Stuart Immonen, and David Lafuente, and sees the past honored at a memorial for Peter Parker while the current cast led by Miles looks to the future. The 48-page (sound familiar?) one-shot promises "one of the biggest surprise endings of the year!" Now, we know Marvel has been ever-insistent that "dead means dead" in the Ultimate Universe, but could this spell <i>some</i> hope for Ultimate Peter Parker? Don't hold your breath, but fans of either incarnation will probably want to check this out.

What We Learned From MARVEL's April 2014 Solicitations

Date: 16 January 2014 Time: 09:00 PM ET