All-New Marvel... NEXT?!

Marvel Entertainment has been on a tear this year with new series, and we’re not just talking renumbered #1s. So far this year Marvel has launched 20 new series that aren’t relaunched from recent series and Marvel are already planning more. <p>We know Deathlok is coming, Captain America and Thor are both getting new first issues (with new characters in the titular position), and Iron Man is going Superior. But with the next “NOW!” Banner, “Avengers NOW!” there are still possibilities for more. <p>Newsarama has scoured the comics racks and revisited past interviews in an attempt to read the proverbial tea leaves on who might be in line for a spotlight and a series on comic shop racks in the near future. We’ve narrowed this countdown list to ten, based on research, trends, and a little bit of speculation. Read what we have to say, and then tell us who you’d like to see Marvel give a solo series to in 2015.

Young Avengers

Is it too soon to consider the next creative team to take the reins of <I>Young Avengers</I>? After the runs of Heinberg/Cheung and Gillen/McKelvie, they would have a lot to live up to – but that never stopped those two aforementioned creative teams, did it? <p>For a new <I>Young Avengers</I> book, whether it’s membership carries over some of the core heroes from the previous two iteration or takes on an entirely new cast, seeing a fresh crop of teen heroes is a goldmine of possibilities. Over on the X-side of the Marvel U they have three books with primarily teen teams -- <I>Wolverine & The X-Men</I>, <I>All-New X-Men</I> and <I>Uncanny X-Men</I> -- but on the Avengers side the closest thing they have is the far orbiting <I>New Warriors</I>. No offense to Speedball, Nova and his crew, but the <I>Young Avengers</I> offered something different – and could do it again. <p>And in fact, there could be something already bubbling to the surface; this summer’s <I>Original Sins</I> anthology has featured a Young Avengers serial by Ryan North and Ramon Villalobos, focusing on Marvel Boy, Hulking and Prodigy. At present this is a finite story, but Marvel is assuredly watching to see how the story is received—and depending on those results, they might greenlight a full <I>Young Avengers</I> ongoing series sooner rather than later.

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange is like a mesmerizing single friend of yours that you’re surprised isn’t in a relationship; he’s odd but endearing, and seems like the perfect catch for someone. In comics, Doctor Strange hasn’t been able to find a stable, committed relationship – an ongoing series – since 1996’s cancellation of <I>Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme</I>. That being said, he’s been a pillar of ensemble books like <I>New Avengers</I>, <I>Avengers</I>, various Defenders reunions and a string of critically acclaimed miniseries. But ongoing series? Not since Bill Clinton was the President. <p>But it’s not as if there isn’t interest. Strange is getting a solo feature film in Marvel’s “Phase 3” movie plans, with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirming his debut, along with the supernatural side of the MCU. But what does that mean for comics? <p>Quite a lot, actually. For it was the surprise announcement in July 2012 of a <I>Guardians of the Galaxy</I> film that led Marvel to dust off the cancelled title for a relaunched comic series nine months later – and with an A-list group of creators, no less. The comics publishing division has put Strange in a leading role in an upcoming Avengers annual, and as part of <I>Original Sin</I>. It’s presumable they’re beginning to bolster the Sorcerer Surpreme’s role while they wait to see exactly how Marvel’s movie division plays the inevitable <I>Doctor Strange</I> movie scheduling. <p>In terms of actual comics content, magic is admittedly a rough territory. Although fiction is limitless, magic is even moreso with some writers expressing difficult to set up viable stakes for a heroic character when all of it could be solved with a simple spell or flick of the wrist. But look no further than the depiction of magic in the Harry Potter novels or the humanity given to Strange in such miniseries as 2006’s <I>Doctor Strange: The Oath</I> or in 2009’s <I>Strange</I> to get some bearings on how it could work.

Scarlet Witch

Has the Scarlet Witch ever truly been on her own? Only on rare occasion. Whether it be with her father Magneto, her brother Quicksilver, her former husband the Vision, or her teammates in the Avengers, Wanda Maximoff has never had a real solo spotlight. But that might just be the reason to give it to her now. <p>Since her return in <I>Avengers: The Children’s Crusade</I>, she’s been considered a pariah by her fellow mutants because of her “No more mutants” moment, and that’s been cause of significant dramatic tension – one that could still be mined even though the mutants have since been repowered. That, along with her complex background and the numerous ties she has to virtually every corner of the Marvel U from hero to villain and Avengers to X-Men, leaves a lot of room to establish a new narrative. <p>And as an added bonus, the Scarlet Witch character is reported to be a key player in 2015’s <I>Avengers: Age of Ultron</I> movie. Not saying that membership in the movie Avengers automatically guarantees you a solo comics title (although they all have one), but it doesn’t hurt.

Nick Fury

For a time, Nick Fury was the glue that held all the various wings of the Marvel Comics world together. As head of S.H.I.E.L.D., he knew it all and knew who to talk to. Since his retirement after <I>Secret War</I>, Fury’s profile has waxed and waned depending on the kind of summer event Marvel had. In some ways, his son Nick Fury Jr. has picked up the slack with a major role in <I>Secret Avengers</I>, but the original Fury still has a lot to give – just look at <I>Original Sin</I>. Provided he makes it to the end of <I>Original Sin</I> alive, Nick Fury is a highly visible, highly viable choice to star in his own book. <p>The last time Nick Fury had an ongoing series with his name on it was the early 1990s series <I>Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.</I>, but in the past twenty years the WW2 veteran has had numerous graphic novels, one-shots, miniseries, and leading roles in ensemble books such as <I>Secret Warriors</I>. But with <I>Secret Avengers</I> on shelves now and another Nick Fury already running around, is there room for the original Nick Fury on an ongoing basis? <p>Okay, so the events of Original Sin have drastically changed the possibilities - but it has also opened up more - a series that jumps across the last several decades, following Nick Fury in his mission as intergalactic protector of the Earth sure sounds exciting.

Black Panther

The Black Panther is one of the most powerful people on the planet. Intellectually he’s on par with Tony Stark and Reed Richards, and physically he can go toe-to-toe with Captain America, Wolverine, and the best of them. But that being said, he’s had to fight for the spotlight given so readily to his equals. But now with a Black Panther movie on the tips of people’s tongues and the character having a primary role in <I>Original Sin</I>, this African king might be getting a new title to rein. <p>Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in their epic run on <I>Fantastic Four</I>, Black Panther quickly bolted into a string of solo titles over the years that set him apart from most other Marvel heroes. Combining the idea of legacy heroes like the Phantom, with African culture and the regality of a secret technically advanced kingdom, Black Panther and his associated mythos have held a multi-faceted allure for comic creators and readers alike. <p>It’s too soon to say for sure if Black Panther’s prominent role in <I>Original Sin</I> is a portent for things to come for T’Challa, but given that the event series’ writer, Jason Aaron, also wrote an excellent arc of the character’s last series and has coincidentally stepped off two titles at Marvel in recent months, we might be seeing more in store for the hero. Whether it’s Aaron or someone else, <I>Original Sin</I> might be just the platform to unleash the panther’s rage once more.

Professor X

How can a dead man have a series? Well, first of all he’d have to come back – and for good or bad, it wouldn’t be a first for comic characters. Dead or not, Professor X is one of the most highly recognized and popular of the X-Men and of Marvel characters in general. Sure he’s not known to be on the front lines fighting villains like Wolverine or Captain America does, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be a big player. <p>Despite Xavier’s death in 2012’s <I>Avengers Vs. X-Men</I>, Xavier is in the spotlight in a major way this summer. Brian Michael Bendis is shining that light with the “Last Will & Testament of Charles Xavier” story in <I>Uncanny X-Men #23</I>, and he’s getting two spotlights in May’s <I>X-Men: Days of Future Past</I> movie thanks to Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy. <p>And it’s not like a Xavier solo series hasn’t been done before; for several arcs Xavier was the lead character in <I>X-Men: Legacy</I>, and in the early 2000s Chris Claremont pitched a throwback series he referred to as <I>The Young Xavier Chronicles</I>. That series would have shown Xavier before he formed the X-Men, ala <I>X-Men: First Class</I>, and intriguing an overlooked period in comics that could be mined in an Indiana Jones fashion. <p>So although Xavier might be dead from <I>Avengers Vs. X-Men</I> and his brain harvested by the Red Skull in <I>Uncanny Avengers</I>, other heroes have come back from worse – and so could Chuck.

Ant-Man

Inch high private eye? To borrow a phrase, yes. That’s how Ant-Man is being used in the current <I>Original Sin</I>, and it might presage larger plans the publisher has for the diminutive hero down the road. Given that Marvel Studios is well on their way to completing the 2015 <I>Ant-Man</I> film, it’s hard to imagine that the company’s comic division wouldn’t attempt to mirror it in some manner in comics. But who, and how? <p>In the <I>Ant-Man</I> movie it’s said that Scott Lang would be the primarily hero with Hank Pym in an mentorship type role. With Hank Pym’s team book <I>Avengers A.I.</I> coming to a close, perhaps he could rekindle their brief comics pairing in a <I>Hawkeye</I>-esque partner book. Back in 2011 Marvel Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso <a href=”http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=36090“>admitted openly</A> that he was looking for a writer for an “all-new <I>Ant-Man</I> ongoing series,” billing it as a way to “redefine the science of the Marvel Universe”. But as of yet nothing has yet to materialize on that front. <p>Yet.

Mystique

She’s one of comics’ best femme fatales and one of the most multi-faceted villains comics has to offer; why not give her a second chance at a solo series? Mystique, who’s currently playing an antagonistic role in the <I>Uncanny X-Men</I> comic series, has enemies on both sides of the fence and also an impressive and nuanced backstory reaching all the way back to her time as the current Captain Marvel’s original arch nemesis. <p>In 2003 and 2004, writer Brian K. Vaughn and a host of artists created a spy-crazy 24 issue solo series for Raven Darkhölme that showed her as a double agent working for Charles Xavier. That ship has sailed, but given the current status of the Marvel U there’s even more ground to be mined with a <I>Mystique</I> solo series given the right perspective, pitch, and of course the right creators.

Luke Cage

In 2002, Luke Cage went from being a retro flashback to certifiable primetime player for Marvel’s comics division. Through his re-introduction in <I>Alias</I> and into his formidable role in Brian Michael Bendis’ <I>Avengers</I>, the former Power Man became a leading man in <I>Avengers</I>, <I>New Avengers</I>, <I>Thunderbolts</I> and now as part of the <I>Mighty Avengers</I>. No slight against his work in <I>Mighty Avengers</I>, but Cage seems to be an under-valued part of Marvel’s roster that could, and should, be given a shot in the big leagues – i.e. a solo title. <p>Looking at the current landscape of the Marvel comics universe and the Avengers in particular, we could be looking at an impending schism in the mega-team thanks to Cap realizing he’d been mind-wiped by the Illuminati. As a blue-collar hero, Cage isn’t the type of hero to be considered for the Illuminati but it’s easy to see how this schism could reveal an opening for a great solo Cage series – if Marvel wanted it. <p>Looking over at the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel has already shown their cards by revealing that Luke Cage will have one of the four Netflix television series – so why not get a head start in comics for what’s to come?

Superior Spider-Man

Sure, Superior Spider-Man died in <I>Superior Spider-Man #30</I> and the encore of #32 and #33 are just flashback stories, but there is reason to believe there’s more gas in that tank. During its 16 month run, <I>Superior Spider-Man</I> was consistently a Top 20 sales juggernaut for the publisher, beating its absent sister title <I>Amazing Spider-Man</I> in terms of consistent sales going back 10 years. And although the <I>Amazing</I> Peter Parker is back with us, who’s to say that there isn’t room for a <I>Superior</I> Spidey-Ock somewhere on shelves? <p>Sure some of the appeal of Superior Spider-Man would be muted if Peter Parker is back in the picture and Otto isn’t running wild as the one-and-only Spider-Man, but given the massive success the series was despite lackluster previous attempts to replace Spider-Man, I imagine Dan Slott could come up with an idea to make SpideyOck work long-term. That said, going back to the well would be tough – and hopefully if it does happen it’ll be driven by a plausible and enticing story and not by the sales department.

Marvel's Low-Hanging Fruit: 10 No-Brainer Titles Marvel Should Launch

Date: 21 August 2014 Time: 06:00 PM ET