Solicitations offer a look, although incomplete, three months ahead into the future of your favorite (and sometimes not-so-favorite) comic books. Marvel’s August 2014 solicitations give us our first glimpse to the final days of the publisher’s 2014 event series <B>Original Sin</B>, and if you’re a hero then it ain’t pretty. <p>If covers and solicitation text are to be believed, a classic Marvel hero will be on trial for murder, another gun-toting vigilante will find out he’s a dad, and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes might be getting 'disassembled' all over again. <p>But it’s not all bad news – we have the second return of Spider-Man in 2014, a surprising return to save the day in <B>Original Sin</B> Han Solo-style, and a long-time DC exclusive artist does his first Marvel work in seven years! Take a look at our observations, notations and revelations gleaned from August 2014’s promised releases.
The solicitations for this summer’s <B>Fantastic Four</B> issues have promised some dark times for Ben Grimm as he’s hit with some harsh truths by way of an <B>Original Sin</B> revelation, but it looks like it’s only getting darker as the Thing is being accused of murder. The simple but powerful cover by series artist Leonard Kirk tells the story, showing the craggy hero’s massive hands cuffed behind his back <p>But the real question is this: who did he kill? Is he the Watcher's killer? <p>In the last issue it’s said the Thing will be coping with some traumatizing truths about the Human Torch, and in interviews with series writer James Robinson he’s teased that the Thing will learn about a possible cure for his rocky condition that wasn’t followed up on by his fellow FFers. Could he kill a fellow member? Perhaps, but if so – wouldn’t that be just as much, if not more, of a cover-worthy story than Thing being arrested for it? <p>Another possible scenario could involve the second Thing seen in today’s <B>Original Sin #2</B>. While the heroic Thing was on the side of the heroes, we saw a second Thing – half-cloaked with some sort of radiating energy in his rocky cracks – aligned with the bad guys who we won’t spoil for you here just yet. Could this second Thing somehow bring down Marvel’s own ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing?
The final page of <B>Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man</B> left us with a real cliffhanger, apparently showing Ultimate Peter Parker back among the living and coming to make up for lost time – but at the time some people shelved it as an errant twist or a clone. But this week’s reveal of #4’s cover boiled it all down for us, showing Miles-as-Spider-Man facing off against, apparently, Peter-as-Spider-Man in his original costume, no less. <p>This reveal leaves us with more questions than answers, and that’s exactly what writer Brian Michael Bendis and Marvel are hoping for. But two Peter’s returning – in the 616 and the Ultimate U – returning just weeks apart seems like the books are stepping on each other’s toes, but each title is its own story – and its own universe, even. But it begs the question – what comes next?
When Dan Slott brought Peter Parker back to life and back to his crime-fighting life as Spider-Man, he brought along someone else too – a second character bit by the same radioactive spider that gave Peter his powers long ago. In recent months Slott and Humberto Ramos have teased this female character named Silk in single panels and in teaser art, but the cover to <B>Amazing Spider-Man #5</B> bears it all – showing Silk in full view. <p>In this limited view, Silk appears to be of Asian descent with a snug costume made, or made to look like, it’s made out of webs. It’s not much, but given the rarefied air from which this enigmatic new character comes from – Spider-Man’s classic origin – we could be seeing the building blocks of a major player in Marvel’s comics down the line.
Marvel sometimes likes to poke fun at actions done by its rival DC in variant covers, but it looks like August’s <B>Avengers Undercover</B> is taking a page – and a story approach -- from the distinguished competition by jumping ahead in time. But this isn’t five years later, or even five months – it’s three. But a lot can happen in three months. <p>In its cover and solicitation text, <I>Avengers Undercover #8</I> promises that the undercover teen heroes are joining up not just with Baron Zemo, but some A-List bad guys like Sabretooth, Mystique and Madame Masque. The solicits promises a huge reveal in July’s <I>Avengers Undercover #7</I>, but that’s all down the road for us to experience at the end of the summer.
They say it ain’t over until “the fat lady sings,” and in comics a series isn’t over until a publisher says so directly (or then, sometimes not as evidenced by <I>Superior Spider-Man</I> coming back after a “series finale). But in this month’s solicitation for <B>The Superior Foes of Spider-Man #14</B>, Marvel’s marketing calls that story “it’s penultimate hour.” <p>Dictionary.com defines “penultimate” as meaning “next to the last,” so unless Marvel is playing fast and loose with the English language it means September’s <B>Superior Foes of Spider-Man #15</B> would be the finale of the series. Although critically acclaimed, an ending for the series would be no big surprise: it’s experienced some delays and shifts in the creative team, didn’t have the massive sales of its sister title <I>Superior Spider-Man</I>, and the <I>Superior</I> moniker itself seems to be phasing out at Marvel. <p>However the chips may fall, look for the next four months of <B>Superior Foes of Spider-Man</B> to be building to a culmination of sorts – to an end, or maybe a metamorphosis to something else. <I>Amazing Foes of Spider-Man</I>? Doesn’t have the same ring to it, but it could grow on us.
In the hubbub surrounding the announcement that Gerry Duggan was taking over <I>Hulk</I> from Mark Waid, one secondary piece of news that was interesting got lost in the shuffle: Gary Frank doing a variant cover for them. Unless this some archived cover from years before, this would be Frank’s first new work for Marvel since 2007 when he signed an exclusive deal with DC. <p>In the seven years Frank has been at DC, he’s worked almost exclusively with Geoff Johns on Superman, Batman, and the “New 52” Shazam. With DC reducing its number of high-profile creators on exclusives, might Frank be looking to Marvel for his next big project? <p>Frank’s most popular work at Marvel was his work on <I>Incredible Hulk</I>, but coming back now in 2014 Frank would seem primed to be A-list player for an event book or one of their top line ongoing series. It’s all up to Frank and Marvel’s editorial department, and of course DC’s, to determine where Frank’s going to make his mark next.
Wade Wilson has been called a lot of things, but August’s <B>Deadpool #33</B> promises to add one fans thought they would never hear him called: father. In a highly emotive cover by Mike Del Mundo, we see a child’s drawing of Deadpool with the words “#1 Dad” scrawled next to it. The kid-sized carnage surrounding the image teases the idea that this unnamed child might follow in her father’s footsteps more than any parent would hope <p>Who could this unnamed female child be? It’s entirely possible it’s a new character introduced in the whirlwind family reunion Gerry Duggan has promised for <B>Deadpool</B> as the title wades into <I>Original Sin</I>, but it’s interesting to jump to some conjecture and try to find out who Deadpool’s daughter might be. Marvel have previously introduced a young male Deadpool called Kidpool and an adult female called Lady Deadpool, but both of those were alternate reality versions of Wade himself. So they may be out of the running, but perhaps they’re precursors to what comes next. <p>The one question I have is this: what’s Deadpool going to get for Father’s Day?
We’re only three issues into the off-beat and excellent <B>Moon Knight</B> series by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire, but from the looks of August’s solicits issue #6 the series – or the creative team at least – won’t make it past one collected edition. <p>Dubbed as “the conclusion” of this trio’s run on the book, it would be shorter than expectations fans had for a longer run akin to <I>Hawkeye</I> or <I>Deadpool</I>, but for Ellis it wouldn’t be entirely without precedent. Since Ellis returned to Marvel in 2004, the British writer has only done short stints on books – his longest being twelve issues on <I>Nextwave</I>. His seminal run on <I>Iron Man</I> only lasted six issues but went on to influence Marvel movies to a large degree, and since then he’s only done limited series or short runs redefining flagging titles. <p>And while <B>Moon Knight</B> is seen as a “coming out” party for Shalvey as a headlining artist, the Irish-born creator has stated repeatedly that if Ellis left the title he would follow to maintain the creative vision they shared for the book. <p>Speaking to the title itself, it’ll be interesting to see how Marvel follows up on what these creators have done with the first six issues. The first two sold quite well with a below-average second issue drop, so I imagine Marvel already has the wheels turning to find who and how to follow up on the redefined crescent crusader’s new lease on life.
<B>Original Sin</B> has already brought Nick Fury (Sr.) back into the Marvel mix in a big way, but the cover to August’s <B>Original Sin #7</B> teases the promise of a more shocking return. The cover by Julian Totino Tedesco shows a gun-toting soldier dressed up to fight, and although his face is obscured some commenters online have already guessed it might be Professor X. <p>Marvel has neither confirmed nor denied this, and obviously they’re excited at any kind of speculation, but if this obscured character is indeed Xavier it would build upon what’s being done in <I>Uncanny X-Men</I> with Xavier’s last will and testament, and also the upcoming event series <I>Axis</I> which has Red Skull – who recently dug up and cut out Xavier’s brain to get his powers. How could someone come back from their brain being stolen? Remember, this is comics – and these storytellers get paid to come up with fantastical situations. <p>In the event it’s not Xavier – and it very well could be – this mystery figure opens the door for a return – or a surprise change of alliances – for a hero or villain in the final hours of <B>Original Sin</B>. We won’t know for sure until this issue comes out on August 13, but nevertheless we’ll be looking for clues between now and then.
Trouble in the Avengers’ ranks kickstarted a new era for Marvel in 2004’s “Avengers Dissasembled” event, and it looks like we’re in for a return to some shaky ground in August. <p>In August’s <I>New Avengers #22</I> we are promised that the back-room power brokers the Illuminati will be shattered, and #23 goes so far as to say they are not long for Earth. Meanwhile in the future-flung <I>Avengers #34</I> we are promised a meeting between “the first Avenger” and “the last Avenger”” This takes place in the future, but Jonathan Hickman wouldn’t be telling this story without a reason. <p>Adding fuel to this fire is news coming out of the recent Diamond Retail Summit in Las Vegas, which saw Marvel announce a crossover between these two titles billed as “Time Runs Out”. Marvel have not responded to our inquiry regarding this, but look for more news as August gets closer.