As the AXIS Turns

It’s that time of the month – solicitations time, and Marvel is up today showcasing their comic book offerings for the month of October. Newsarama posted them earlier today, and at first-glance it might seem like a lot of information to go through – that’s why we did it for you, narrowing it down to the 10 most need-to-know pieces of information coming out about the books to come in three months. <P>As of late both Marvel and DC have been changing up the idea of solicits being the defacto spot to announce new series and changes, with them spinning them out individually before the solicits are released. That being said – there’s still a lot of meat on the bone in Marvel’s October 2014 solicits, from the return of a plucky young Avengers team to some new (and old) creators to the House of Ideas, as well as some titles absent from the solicit that might portent for a cancellation, or at least, delays in the production of the book. <P>Make with the click-y and see the 10 freshest items culled from today’s advance solicitations.

It’s Batman’s 75th Birthday – So Why is Bruce Timm Making His Marvel?

Bruce Timm is known to the world (with the exception of his friends and family) for his contributions to Batman. His groundbreaking work as co-creator, producer, writer and artist of the 1990s <I>Batman: The Animated Series</I> fundamentally changed how we think of Batman, and for the better. That success has led DC to invite Timm into the comics world on numerous occasions, but now here in 2014 – the 75th anniversary of Batman’s creation – we’re surprised to see Timm outside the DCU celebrating another comics anniversary. <P>Timm is part of a packed line-up in the extra-sized $5.99 one-shot <I>Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration #1</I>, joining the likes of Stan Lee, James Robinson, Chris Samnee, and others in a number of new tales and re-prints. According to the solicitations, Timm is adapting Stan Lee’s very first Captain America story – a text piece written as a back-up for an issue of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon’s Captain America Comics #3. That story, titled “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge,” is noteworthy because it was the first instance of Cap throwing his shield – which became a staple of the character going forward. <P>While it’s true that it’s not an either/or situation and Timm could also be doing work on a Batman story/piece for DC, this work is interesting to note. And who knows – what if Marvel were to lure Timm away from WB and DC Animated to become a part of the growing Marvel Animation department? Just a though.

AVENGERS of Tomorrow – Today!

So Marvel is replacing Captain America and Thor – but wouldn’t you know, they already have some replacements in the future! In October, the heroes of the 2008 animated movie <I>Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow</I> are back on the scene and in the cover of October’s <I>Avengers World #14</I>. This title has already hosted the return of another “lost” team (that being Euroforce), but the appearance of the Next Avengers is whole ‘nother ball of wax. <P>After their debut in the aforementioned 2008 animated series, the teenage team – Iron Man, James Rogers, Francis Barton, Azari, Maestro, Hank Pym Jr. and Torrun – showed up in 2010 “Heroic Age” relaunch of <I>Avengers</I> in a six part story warning of a future apocalypse. Since then they’ve made some one brief cameo in <I>S.H.I.E.L.D. #4</I> but other than that they’ve sat on the proverbial bench of Avengers teams waiting to play – alongside Avengers West Coast. <P><I>Avengers World</I> has become the more risky, less established Avengers team in the Jonathan Hickman “era” if you can call it that, and it’s interesting to see how Nick Spencer is going to incorporate these heroes, once dubbed the “Teen Avengers” internally at Marvel, make out when they’re part of the Marvel U proper.

HAWKEYE and THUNDERBOLTS No More – And More?

For every new title that is announced, in most cases it’s a relaunch – or taking the spot, at least – of a title which has ended. In October there’s three new ongoing series being launched -- <I>Deathlok</I>, <I>Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier</I> and <I>Guardians 3000</I> -- and there is at least two titles ending in October – and some possibly sooner. <p>According to the wording of the solicitations, both <I>Thunderbolts</I> and <I>Hawkeye</I> seem to be finishing their runs in October. For it’s part, <I>Thunderbolts</I> received a new writing team with June’s #25 but that apparently didn’t do enough to stem the tide of a series finale, which it announces explicitly (but perhaps a relaunch is in order?). For <I>Hawkeye</I>, the simple text “Hawkeyes vs. Tracksuits. Final Round!” gives some hint, but series writer Matt Fraction himself confirmed its fate as the series finale in his joint e-mail newsletter with wife Kelly Sue DeConnick (more on that later). <p>In addition to those two confirmed finales, Newsarama received word that <I>Thor: God of Thunder</I>’s finale will be the previously solicited September #25, which is in line with the announcement earlier today on <I>The View</I> of a new female Thor – and a new series to go with it. <p> With those three, there’s also the curious absence (and lack of an announcement) of several other series in October’s solicits: <I>Iron Fist</I>, <I>Iron Man</I> <I>Silver Surfer</I> and <I>Savage Wolverine</I>. While it’s not beyond Marvel to withhold some titles from solicitations even if they’re shipping in that month (The aforementioned<b>Thor #1</b> is launching in October for example), their absence could be a sign that the series might be ending – or that simply the creative team is having issue reaching a monthly schedule.

Ghost Rider rides in the Carpool Lane

Ever since the All-New Ghost Rider, Robbie Reyes, was announced, a certain segment of the comics readership questioned if Reyes’ ascent meant previous Ghost Riders were pushed out of the picture. But as October’s <I>All-New Ghost Rider #8</I> cover can attest, there’s room for more than one Ghost Rider. <p>In October’s #8, the ghostly gearhead will come face-to-face (or is that skull-to-skull?) with the 1970s Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze. Aptly described in the solicitations as “Age vs. Youth, East vs. West, Car vs. Motorcycle!,” the issue should provide interesting and could possibly add more to the idea Jason Aaron introduced of not just a few, but a multitude of Ghost Riders of different ilk – and different means of transportation – across the Marvel U.

New Blood & Old Veterans Make Theirs Marvel

It seems that with the hiring of Mike Marts from DC’s Bat-titles that Marvel has been seeing a number of Bat-centric creators jump over, at least for a project, to Marvel. You can see it in <I>Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy</I>, but also with newly-revealed names in the solicits such as Chris Burnham doing a variant cover on <I>Deadpool: The Art of War</I>, Freddie Williams drawing <I>Legendary Star-Lord #4</I> and Javier Garron on <I>Cyclops</I>. We also see Scott Kolins returning to interior work for Marvel, doing the one-shot <I>Death of Wolverine: Deadpool & Captain America</I>. Outside of these notable DC creators coming to Marvel, we’ve also got the memorable Rick Leonardi returning to Marvel to illustrate the character he co-created decades ago in <I>Spider-Man 2099 #5</I>. It’s exciting to see Leonardi back on the character, and one can hope this isn’t a brief start but maybe the beginning of a rotating cast of artists with Leonardi and Will Sliney for the book. <p>In addition to that, we see another artist returning to Marvel – Clayton Crain. Crain made his name at Marvel working on <I>Ghost Rider</I> and <I>X-Force</I>, but for the past few years has been at Valiant. During this post-exclusive era of comics it could be just a matter of Crain picking up some cover work while continuing at Valiant, but Crain was once highly prized by Marvel – going so far as to be named a “Young Gun” in 2004 and could again be a valuable piece of the company’s talent pool.

Wolverine's Wake

With <I>Death of Wolverine</I> happening in September, it might be apt to call many of Marvel’s October titles the “Wake of Wolverine.” In addition to the previously announced <I>Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy</I>, the death will reverberate in <I>Storm</I>, <I>Nightcrawler</I>, <I>Black Widow</I> and <I>Wolverine & the X-Men</I>. <p>The themed <I>Wolverine & the X-Men</I> issues looks particularly, intriguing – both for its plot as well as its creators. Billed as the Last Will & Testament of Wolverine, it promises to offer up some intriguing insight on what Logan left behind – and what he actually thought of those around him. On the creative side, series writer Jason Latour is stepping in to illustrate some of the book, as well as incoming series artist Robbie Rodriguez but also Kris Anka and James Harren. It’ll be interesting to see how these two issues turn out, and also what ultimately happens to the book when it’s leading name in the title is no more.

The Last Stand of HAWKEYE – and Possibly Matt Fraction in the Marvel U

After months of conjecture and speculation, the October solicits for <I>Hawkeye #22</I> spells it all out in the series finale of this award-winning series. The series cut a very different path from the typical Marvel solo book in its quirky and outsider-ish nature, but it’s critical acclaim and admirable sales made it in some ways a template for some other books – like <I>Secret Avengers</I> and <I>She-Hulk</I> -- in its wake. <p>This finale comes on the heels of over a year of delays for <I>Hawkeye</I>, even with two rotating artists in David Aja and Annie Wu. The frequent delays and re-solicitations of the book point to some broader issue in this, which some attribute to Fraction’s own workload. <p>And speaking of Fraction, the culmination of <I>Hawkeye</I> also looks, to outside estimation, to be the last bit of Fraction’s work at Marvel as the writer seems to be focusing more on creator-owned work. Fraction left <I>Inhuman</I> before it’s launch last year over a disagreement with Marvel, and <I>Hawkeye</I> was the last strand of work for Fraction at Marvel after being once considered one of the publisher’s key writers.

Is AXIS Twisting Magneto Back To Evil – Or Is Something Else In the Works?

The October solicitations are littered with news and images of Magneto delving into <I>Avengers & X-Men: Axis</I>, from him facing down the Red Skull in his solo series to him involved in the main event series. But the images and solicits for those main issues hint at something else, from Magneto killing “the wrong man” in #1 to the Master of Magnetism “betraying his alliance to join an army of evil” in issue #2. <p>The natural assumption given that last bit of text is that Magneto might be joining up with the Red Skull’s super-group of villains, but unless there’s some major creative wrangling there doesn’t seem to be any possible way Magneto – a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust – would side with the one-time Nazi, the Red Skull – who to add insult to injury, has Magneto’s deceased friend Xavier’s brain grafted into his body. <p>But what if it’s something else? In another solicit it says that the Scarlet Witch joins up with Doctor Doom, and we already see Loki being pulled into servitude of Doom in his solo <I>Loki: Agent of Asgard</I> series. What if Doom and Magneto are being built up to form a third force – not the Avengers, not the X-Men, but not Red Skull’s Axis of evil either. With DC’s <I>Forever Evil</I> just a few months in the rear-view, what if Marvel is subconsciously taking a page from their book and having a group of one-time (or sometimes) villains fighting for good against even darker evil than themselves. After all, Marvel did drop the word “syndicate” in the solicits for <I>Avengers & X-Men: Axis #3</I>. We’re going out on a long limb of speculation, but Magneto as a villain seems too easy – and too hard – to grab ahold of.

Return of the Jedi – And Star Wars – To Marvel

Disney buys Marvel. Disney buys Star Wars. Put those two together, and it’s easy to see how George Lucas’ space opera saga would somehow make its way back to the House of Ideas. And now, 28 years after Marvel stopped publishing Star Wars comics and Dark Horse made it a pillar of their comics empire, it returns to Marvel in October with a first salvo – a reprint of the original Star Wars’ comics finest moments. <p>Dubbed <I>Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus</I> (and published under the new "Legends" name for the old Expanded Universe), the oversized October release retails for $125 and collects the first 44 issues of the main series as well as the first annual. While it’s not the new material most fans hope for out of Marvel’s re-aligned relationship with the Star Wars universe, it does show Marvel is being series with it. Newsarama expects to see more news on the Star Wars front for Marvel comics later this month at Comic-Con International: San Diego.

Shadow Play

While the idea of a flat black character bouncing around Marvel in some sort of artistic-meta fashion interesting, the characters shown in the various covers to <I>Avengers & X-Men: Axis</I> probably aren’t that. Given the announcements this week and previously released (and un-obscured covers) these shadows might be more perfunctory for eagle-eyed Marvel fans. <p>Unpacking it all, it looks like the shadowy picture in <I>Avengers & X-Men: Axis #2</I> is holding a shield; which is in line with Marvel’s reveal last week of a similiarly obscured image promoting a new Captain America. Could that shadowy figure of <I>Axis</I> in fact be the same figure obscured by shadow from this image? Possible. <p>And in the newly revealed <I>Avengers & X-Men: Axis #3</I> cover we see a stockier hero, seemingly to wield an axe of some kind. This seems to refer to Thor, but a Thor who has lost his hammer and has taken up the battle axe Jarjborn – something we saw in the September covers for <I>Avengers</I>. <p>If those two speculations prove true, the point still open to wide interpretation is the shadowy figure in <I>Avengers & X-Men: Axis #1</I>. Neither Captain America or Thor (in any iteration) is seen in that image, but the shadow fails to have any identifying shapes like Thor’s Jarjborn or Cap’s shield. It could still be one of those, or perhaps someone else. <p>What do you think?

What We Learned from MARVEL’S October 2014 Solicitations

Date: 15 July 2014 Time: 10:04 PM ET