Virtually every time a new comics “event” series appears, publishers spin it to say it’s their biggest event ever. Despite being self-aware of this fact, it didn't stop Marvel from declaring 2015 would really feature their biggest event ever.
From what we know about next year's Secret Wars, the May-debuting eight-issue series be will the focus of a year-long Marvel publishing, digital and merchandising compaign according to publisher Dan Buckley that will encompass not just its primary “616” continuity, but also incorporate alternate universes — including the Ultimate universe, the 2099 universe, and numerous thers.
And that’s not all, as numerous Marvel-based movies should provide ample fodder and influence back into comics on both a micro and macro scale.
With this being the last day before the new year, Newsarama looks at What You Need to Know about Marvel Comics heading into 2015.
Marvel’s Not-So-Secret Secret
All Marvel's roads, so to speak, lead to May, when the publisher kicks off Secret Wars. Composed of both a eight issue limited series by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic as well as several major league spinoff series and tie-ins, Secret Wars is the flagship meta-storyline for 2015 at Marvel.
While it doesn’t look like Marvel is putting all its other titles on hold during Secret Wars like DC is for Convergence, Marvel is putting virtually all of their ducks in a row to include Secret Wars in almost all of its titles.
According to Marvel, Secret Wars has been in the planning for years. But for readers it didn’t fully come to light until the “Time Runs Out” arcs currently running through New Avengers and Avengers which began in late 2014. What it seems to be boiling down to is the classic Marvel formula of “hero versus hero,” but on a multiverse as well as a time- spanning scale.
While the culprit behind it, if there is any, has yet to be revealed, the instigator of the original Secret Wars from 1984, the Beyonder, is on an upcoming Avengers cover.
But what's got industry watchers talking is what comes after this Secret Wars?
Marvel prides itself on an interconnected universe, often publishing events that do change things, and with this being promoted as the most “ambitious” event of its kind, there are some industry watchers speculating that Marvel may, for the first time, be looking to reboot – or at least recalibrate it’s comics continuity in a way similar to DC’s successful “New 52” linewide relaunch in 2011.
For fans, Secret Wars looks to hit that sweet spot of finding out which hero can beat another hero, while also digging deep into the inner workings of Marvel’s decades-old continuity as well as recent questions raised in major storylines that are still looking for answers.
The Final Four?
No one really knows why Marvel is cancelling their modern-era launch series The Fantastic Four. Persistant rumors suggest it has something to do with 20th Century Fox owning the live-action film rights (something the CEOs of Fox and Marvel have outright denied). Sales data suggest the Occam's razor rational - it simply doesn't sell well and hasn't for some time.
Whatever the reason, “The End is FOUREver” is coming.
First glimpsed in book trade advanced solicitation of 2015 collections and then confirmed in a closed-door meeting with retailers at the 2014 New York Comic Con, the "End is FOURever" arc has been cemented in Marvel solicitations as the true "end" for the team and the title for the time being. While we’ve seen so-called endings before for the Baxter Building brood, this one seems to have the air of something more indefinite.
That being said, 20th Century Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot comes out August 7. It's unlike Marvel to pass up the opportunity to launch a new series around the release of a major film, so by late summer we'll get a true test of how serious they are about retiring the FF for a while.
With DC on the verge of moving its offices from New York to Burbank — and an expected editorial shakeup expected soon after — Marvel's also made some shifts in power among its creative ranks in late 2014 that indicate a possible changing of the guard in 2015.
Hot on the heels of their most recent summit, writers G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel) and Gerry Duggan (Hulk, Deadpool, Nova) are the newest members of the exceedingly rare group of exclusive writers at Marvel.
At the same time, the company’s lead writer Jonathan Hickman has gone on record saying he’s taking a break from the House of Ideas in late 2015, with his Avengers/New Avengers run ending in the summer and the eight-issue Secret Wars being his last published work with them for some time.
The last time Marvel put a name to their braintrust was 2010’s "Architects," and going into 2015, two of those are gone (Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker), while two more (Hickman and Jason Aaron) carrying a lighter load than before as they focus more on outside projects.Long-time writer Brian Bendis remains ensconsed at Marvel, but should the Powers and A.K.A. Jessica Jones television series prove successful, we could see him take a smaller role.
In their place, expect to see writers like Dan Slott, Rick Remender, Charles Soule, Kieron Gillen and Mark Waid stepping up and Wilson, Duggan and Sam Humphries (also, under exclusive) becoming bigger players as well.
On the editorial side, the 2014 return of Mike Marts as the X-Men Senior Editor may not be the last former DC staffer to make the switch.
Come April there'll be a fairly significant pool of experienced DC comics book editors and staffers from various departments not making the move to Burbank when DC moves their offices cross-country. Odds are decent a few more recognizable DC names will be joining Marts at Marvel.
Re-Making Marvel’s Mines
While Marvel still leans heavily on all things "Avengers” or “X-Men,” in recent years they've managed to dig deeper into their library to find at least one new franchise and a few new characters they might have staying power.
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s Guardians of the Galaxy headlined a revival of the publisher's "cosmic" family of titles, eventually helping pave the wave for Marvel Studios 2014 domestic box office leader (as of today). That's spawned a mini-franchise of its own. While a few years back you'd be hard-pressed to to find one title beside the occasional Silver Surfer series set in space, Marvel solicited more than 10 cosmic-spanning ongoing series for sale in March 2015, with more on the way.
And Marvel is certainly aware of the buzz being generated by their Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel series, particulary among female readers. The upcoming launch of new ongoings starring Silk, Spider-Gwen and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl are likely not accidental and likely won't be the last female-driven series.
Marvel unabashedly will keep going to any well that works, so in 2015, look for Marvel to try to identify that next exploitable franchise, genre or market niche.
New Avengers: Age of Ultron cast additions Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch and the Vision are already headlining a January relaunch of Uncanny Avengers. The Winter Soldier's Falcon is now headling the Captain America series - can new series starring upcoming MCU players War Machine, Black Panther and Doctor Strange, and the further expansion of the Inhumans franchises be far behind?