April Showers Bring.... Secret Wars?1 of 12April looks to be a big month for Marvel, with a slew of endings for its Avengers titles, a burgeoning franchise in Guardians of the Galaxy, and a lot of stage-setting for Secret Wars on the table.
Of course, with so much going on in Marvel's massive slate, it's hard to know exactly what is and isn't in these pages. Fortunately, we've done the hard work for you, combing through Marvel's April previews to bring out the ten most important tidbits of what we learned from Marvel's April solicitations.
Punisher Goes Legit2 of 12Previous solicits have established that Spider-Gwen will introduce new twists on numerous elements not just of the Spider-Man mythos, but of the larger Marvel universe. With this solicit for April's Spider-Gwen #3, we're getting our first glimpse of one of those twists.
Frank Castle, AKA the Punisher, has deep roots in the mainstream Spider-Man mythos - he first appeared as a villain in Amazing Spider-Man #129 - so it's fitting that he'll appear as a different kind of nemesis for Gwen Stacy/Spider-Woman.
Interestingly, Frank Castle was created by Gerry Conway a mere five issues after he wrote Gwen Stacy's death in Amazing Spider-Man #121
Guardians 20153 of 12The original Guardians of the Galaxy are no strangers to time travel. Their early adventures often brought them into contact with the Avengers and other heroes of the present day Marvel universe. Now, in Guardians 3000 #7, the relaunched Guardians are teaming up with their contemporary counterparts - including not one, but two Star-Lords.
It seems like nearly all of Marvel's ventures into their future wind up bringing the book's cast back to the present. In the tradition of everything new being old again, this isn't even the first time these worlds have collided. In Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's fan-favorite run that established the current Guardians, Vance Astro and Starhawk both appeared in recurring roles.
It just seems like Marvel's future-themed books like this and Spider-Man 2099 can't help but getting out of their time and into the modern-day Marvel U.
All-New X-Men #404 of 12Brian Bendis has been teasing the Utopians for a while now, with prospective images showing them as a mutant collective comprised of characters such as Pixie, Callisto, Colossus, and even Adam X who were associated with the X-Men's Utopia era.
Last seen during AvX when it was sunk by the Phoenix Five, Utopia was an island headquarters off the coast of San Francisco designed to be a haven for mutants. With Magneto's solo title dealing with the legacy of Genosha, it seems fitting that Bendis should be revisiting the concept of a mutant nation in All-New X-Men.
It's been over a year since Bendis last promised an appearance for the Utopians in 2014, and it was September that he last mentioned it, so the Utopians have been in the works for a long time. Exactly who they are and what their relationship to the X-Men might be remains to be seen.
Wolverines5 of 12With Logan still dead, his various extended family members are still filling his place in the Marvel Universe. It may seem weird that Marvel's most popular mutant is absent from its publishing line, but time has proved that when it comes to Wolverine, more is more. What's better than one nigh-unstoppable mutant samurai? How about a half-dozen of them?
Of course, it seems Marvel wants at least some of us to think that Logan is on his way back to the land of the living - however, that silhouette paints a dramatically different picture, showing a Wolverine-esque figure with not three, but four claws on each hand.
So who does this point to? Our best guess is Romulus, the manipulative villain who has been behind the scenes of many events in Wolverine's life, and the lives of his similar "Lupines." But is the return of Romulus really "the moment we've been waiting for?" Maybe Marvel has another twist in store for us yet.
Star-Lord is Star-King?6 of 12With a solo series under his belt, and a slew of guest appearances across the Marvel Universe, Peter Quill is certainly the face of Marvel's nascent Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. And that face (well, head) may be getting a lot heavier very soon.
It looks like Peter may be taking over the Spartax empire, having been elected King in his father J'Son's place. Incidentally, it looks like Star-Lord isn't the only one moving up in the world, as Chip Zdarsky's variant cover for Howard the Duck seems to be referencing Howard's satirical bid for president in the '80's. That issue guest stars - who else? Star-Lord.
Series Ending7 of 12We've known for a while that most of Marvel's wide ranging Avengers titles are ending this spring - with a relaunch to quickly follow. But April's solicits are the first we've learned of the impending cancellation of Secret Avengers.
It's unclear whether Secret Avengers will see a relaunch. If so, it would be the third relaunch in as many years. While that's not atypical of Marvel's current "season" inspired model, Secret Avengers has suffered from relatively low sales, despite critical acclaim.
Considering Marvel has waffled on the nature of the other Avengers relaunches as recently as last week, it may be some time before we know exactly what the future holds for Secret Avengers.
And what about the ominous portend of Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man's April solicitations? When asked about it on his Tumblr, series writer Brian Bendis would only point people to the earlier teaser graphic of the Ultimate heroes with the text "The End" emblazoned across it.
And although not announced as ending, a new issue of All-New Ghost Rider doesn't appear in the April solicits, but instead a collection of all 12 issues to date. Marvel hasn't commented on the series' future, so stay turned.
New and Returning Creators8 of 12Every month, we like to take a look at some of the creators who are working at Marvel for the first time, or who are returning after a long absence. First up, we've got Otto Schmidt providing a cover and interiors for Guardians Team-Up #4. Schmidt is an experienced Eufopean illustrator, but this represents his first Marvel work - possibly his first work for an American publisher. Also working for Marvel for the first time is Ario Anindito, who worked on Red Hood and the Outlaws over at DC.
Returning to Marvel after a seven year absence is celebrated artist Tony Harris, providing alternate covers for several Avengers titles, as well as longtime X-Force and X-23 artist Mike Choi, doing his first work for the publisher since 2012.
Guardians of the Marvel Universe9 of 12As the Milano sent the Guardians of the Galaxy soaring into our hearts, so too did their hit film send a new franchise flying onto the shelves. Though Marvel's cinematic wing has yet to eclipse its publishing continuity, Marvel (and Disney) are shrewd enough to recognize a winner when it has one on its hands.
It's not surprising to see just how much of Marvel's previews the Guardians are dominating, especially considering Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley's assertion to ICv2 that the Guardians could become a family of titles on the level of Avengers or X-Men.
With a crossover between the Guardians and the aforementioned merry mutants on the horizon, two ongoing series, two solo spin-offs, and a variety of one-shots, licensing tie-ins, and guest spots, Guardians of the Galaxy accounts for nearly a dozen titles and appearances on Marvel's April publishing schedule.
Marvel has had a cosmic wing since the early '70's, but it's been a long time - since Annihilation gave way to the relaunch of the Guardians - that there has been a banner uniting those disparate titles. It looks like Guardians of the Galaxy is the new flagship for Marvel's cosmic titles.
Keep Hydra-ated10 of 12Hydra has become a huge part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And while the super-terrorist organization has also been a long running fixture of Marvel Comics. Dating all the way back to the Silver Age glory days of Captain America's return and Nick Fury's Strange Tales. Now, with Hydra a household name thanks to a slew of film appearances and a particularly successful meme, they're making a big comeback on paper as well.
Not only are they appearing in Avengers: Operation Hydra, a title starring the Avengers' film line-up, but these solicits have yet another mention of All-New Captain America's Age of Hydra storyline. That's some loaded language, considering the title of the Avengers film sequel and the iconic Age of Apocalypse event in the 1990s. We've also got Avengers: Millennium, a mini-series spinning out of a Hydra time travel experiment, as well as an appearance in Operation S.I.N. #4. Seems like Hydra is poised to be infiltrating the entire infrastructure of Marvel's publishing line.
Secret Wars Prelude11 of 12It's no secret that Marvel's next big crossover is supposed to be a real game-changer, bringing in elements of Marvel's various publishing lines and alternate realities, possibly leading to what many speculate will be some kind of reboot, or at least a reworking of their timeline and core reality.
With this many balls in the air, a Secret Wars Prelude collection seems like a no-brainer. What is a little less clear is exactly how the titles assembled in this collection feed into the larger story of Secret Wars. A selection of issues of the original Secret Wars, a recent Fantastic Four comic, and stories featuring Miles Morales and the Ultimates aren't exactly a clear roadmap - but they may provide some clues.
Highlighting the end of Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four, a series which lead directly to his ongoing story of the collapse of Marvel's multiverse, it's a safe bet that Secret Wars will tie directly in to the conclusion of that collapse. Likewise, it makes sense that the Ultimate Universe is receiving some love, since it seems likely that some elements of that timeline - particularly Miles Morales - will find their way into the mainstream Marvel universe at the end of Secret Wars - whatever that may look like.
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