Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Bendis does really long interview with CBR

Brian Michael Bendis has literally just this past week done an interview with comic book resources, who are the number #1 source for comics book info on the internet who don't believe that Jason Aaron lives in a glass treehouse with a paintball gun and books of Communist philosophy. It's a really long interview, which will require several minutes worth of attention in order to be completed. And really, who has minutes anymore? This is an age of instant knowledge, which is why we're going to condense the interview - http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=25471 - to a few bulletpoints.

  • He will be writing a five-issue miniseries called Avengers Prime with Alan Davis on art, which will feature the fragile relationship between Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor.
  • Avengers Prime will show the return of The Enchantress
  • Luke Cage appears to be the main character of New Avengers; Thing joins the team as a favour to LC.
  • Hepzibah will almost definitely be getting a four-issue miniseries drawn by Mike Choi, in which she eats canaries and chases a ball of string and fires a gun at someone. Maybe Rachel Grey.
  • New Avengers and Avengers will intermingle to begin with, then break apart with their own distinct rosters.
  • Colourist Supreme Laura Martin will be working on New Avengers
  • Ms Marvel is going to show up, because... eh. She doesn't have anywhere else to be right now.

So there you go. That's basically what he says. He swears a bit more than we do, but that's because he's much better at it than us.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Good News for People Who Don't Care about Captain America

Captain America is one of Marvel's most marketable characters. He stands for integrity and justice, and has rghtly been the centrepiece of The Avengers for decades. His solo series, written by Ed Brubaker, is as critically acclaimed as a comic could be, and his return from death has single-handedly pushed the ENTIRETY of the Marvel Universe into a 'Heroic Age'. He's a phenomenally powerful character, who goes drinking with Wolverine and hangs around with Iron Man. Thor and Nick Fury both look up to him, while the ladies all adore him. When he died, it made the headlines in America, and even Stephen Colbert got up in a fuss about it. Captain America, whether Steve Rogers or James Barnes, is one of the most important comic book characters of all time.

But... he's a bit rubbish, really, isn't he? Certainly not as good a character as Forbush Man. Sadly, Forbush hasn't been allowed his chance in the spotlight yet, to reclaim the throne which was robbed from him by Cap. It's a travesty that Marvel can't even give him a one-sho-- oh, wait. What's that we see?


Finally Marvel are letting decent characters appear in their comics! FORBUSH MAN IS COMING BACK!! In next month's 'Captain America: Who Won't Hold The Shield', Marvel are going to bring back Forbush Man and reveal the true story behind Steve Rogers' recent return. Well, we're excited. The Heroic Age - which has already been confirmed to have appearances from Squirrel Girl and Sibercat (we've assumed this on your behalf, David Gallaher) - is finally starting to take shape. The story will be written by Jason Aaron, current writer of Wolverine: Weapon X and inhabitor of a glass treehouse, with art from Mirco Pierfederici. Aaron promises to kill off several famous Marvel writers over the course of the story. There'll also be a story by Matt Fraction which thus far makes no sense whatsoever we get the feeling Matt may be drinking too much Sunny Delight nowadays it appears that he has crammed Captain America and Doctor Strange into one body... and, sigh, a Deadpool story. By Stuart Moore though, so there's always hope.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

[Insert Cat Pun] Black Cat Mini coming in June

June's solicitations brought welcome news for fans of women in skintight outfits, as Marvel announced a four-issue miniseries starring Spider-Man's on-off frenemy Black Cat, written by Ibiza trance legend Jen Van Meter. This brings up the total of monthly Spider-Man books to around fifteen (we thought about exaggerating that for comic effect, then realised that being truthful had much the same result), although Jay-VeeemM promises that the wall-crawling human-sized insectoid freak will only appear sparingly over the course of the storyline. The miniseries will feature the dual-life that Black Cat lives, juggling her day-job and secret night-time role as a thief-for-hire. This'll be primarily a heist book, in much the manner of Hustle, but with less smugness. Lord, we hope it won't be as smug as Hustle.

The storyline sees Black Cat being framed for thefts she didn't commit, which forces her to go proactive and try to find out who really performed the heists, and bring them to justice. Her main problem with the copycat, J/V/M reveals, is that they aren't doing a very good job of impersonating her, and that's making Black Cat looks sloppy as a result. She needs to close this down while she still has credibility. Speaking of credibility, Javier Pulido of Human Target fame will be drawing the miniseries, so already you can tell that there's going to be a certain style the team are going for. Issue one is out in June, with three more issues after.

We would now like to point out that we didn't use a single cat-pun over the course of this article.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Is Marvelman's Return a Big Deal?

Marvelman will return to comics in June - well, we say return, but really we mean he'll be reprinted. Marvel bought the rights to the apparently iconic superhero after years and years of legal battles, and June sees the first wave of their campaign to return him to the spotlight. Created by Mike Anglo, the character will return to print in 'Marvelman Primer #1', which will look back over the key moments in the character's existence and feature interviews from Anglo and Neil Gaiman, who apparently wrote some of the more famous Marvelman stories. We've never heard of them, but we're sure they must be good if it deserves all this hype. After the primer issue comes out, Marvel will set to the task of reprinting the series properly in the ongoing series 'Marvelman Family's Finest', the first issue of which is due to be released in July.

This is presumably a big deal for comic-book fans, so we hope that this thrills you in a manner to which you are generally unaccustomed. And if this isn't enough to excite you into a series of incoherent hysterical posts online, then the news that the series will also be released in a series of hardback trades should get you into a level of excitement just below that of a Divine Resurrection. Doesn't do anything much for us, we have to say. But whatever floats your boat, feller. The cover by Joe Quesada looks kinda cool, we suppose. We'd much rather see some more news about the 'Hepzibah' miniseries we've mentally been planning for several years, but maybe Marvel aren't quite ready for that yet.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Ed Brubaker Heads Into Critically-Acclaimed Outer Space

We've seen the solicitation for the second issue of Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato's 'Secret Avengers' title.

Written by ED BRUBAKER
Penciled by MIKE DEODATO

"On a mission no one can know about and already betrayed by one of their own! Our Secret Avengers strike force finds a link between Roxxon's digs on Mars and a mysterious shadow group on Earth. But what evil will they face on the Red Planet itself, and will a hero fall? It's the Avengers as you've never seen them before, by Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato!"
Outer space? Oh dear. Last time Ed Brubaker went into space, we got twelve issues of Havok and Rachel Grey, punctuated only by brief ear-licking interludes and the occasional shot of Hepzibah. This solicit seems to confuse the previous thoughts that anyone had about the series - everyone thought it was a secret agent/espionage series, when really the team seem to be jetting off into space at the drop of a hat. It's likely that this unexpected swerve in genre will mean that the team are rather more cosmic and powerful than we originally expected - it's becoming more and more likely that characters like Ms Marvel will appear, and less likely that we'll see Black Widow or Falcon. Shame, but hopefully Mr B will be able to make the series work, despite the severe lack of bewinged black characters. More as we get it.

Swierzy Shore: Deadpool & Cable Series in the Works?

Duane Swierczynski, best known for writing the ongoing series of Cable which ties in to the Second Coming Messiah Child Complex Wars plot, will finish the series with issue #25 this month, in which he goes back to the beginning and provides a prologue to the previous 24 issues. In it, he reunites Cable with his old ally/enemy Deadpool, as they team up to rescue a baby Hope from the ill-fated Alaskan hospital where she was born. That is to say, they take her out of the hospital, as opposed to fighting off a murderous hospital which has somehow come to life and turned evil. The series will be retitled 'Deadpool and Cable' for this one-off issue, in reference to the previous 'Cable and Deadpool' series made popular by Fabian Nicieza. Duane, who is married to the star of NBC's 'Chuck', Yvonne Swierczynski, will then take a back-seat while Second Coming rages on for three months through all the main X-Men titles. But what happens then? Will he get a new book?
The June solicits, just released, reveal that he will be writing a new four-issue miniseries about Deadpool, in which he gets to tell his take on the oft-irritating character's origin. Now, let's just look back at his recent work for Marvel, in a more convenient context for our theory:
  • Cable (24 issues)
  • Deadpool & Cable (1 issue)
  • Deadpool: Wade Wilson's War (4 issues)
Judging from that, it doesn't take a genius (like Russian composer and conductor Igor Swierczynski, for example) to work out that Marvel could well be grooming Mr S for a new gig writing a Cable and Deadpool title - or, as seems likely given the bizarre popularity of Deadpool recently - a Deadpool and Cable title. Is this Marvel's ultimate plan? For that to be so, Cable would have to survive Second Coming, AND afterwards part with Hope, AND then decide not to take over X-Force. There are quite a few possibilities to hurdle in order to make this series a reality, but we're fairly confident that in four months time, you'll be seeing a Deadpool & Cable #1 on your shelves.

Sunday, 21 March 2010


We don't get many exclusives here at Comics Vanguard, which is primarily because we're new and nobody reads the site. Most writers are afraid of our brilliant use of the english language, which hardly ever becomes unreadable gibberish, and so back away from us like the feral lion of blogging that we inevitably are. But not so Mr David Gallaher, the writer of the forthcoming 'Darkstar and the Winter Guard' miniseries for Marvel. In fact, Mr Gallaher has such faith in our abilities that he's given us an EXCLUSIVE regarding his bound-to-be-epic miniseries, released in June off the back of his successful 'Hulk: Winter Guard' one-shot last December. You're hearing this here first, so please tell all your friends about how important it is that they read Comics Vanguard daily.

This EXCLUSIVE news will, of course, contain a minor spoiler for the series. If you don't want to know this spoiler, then jump to the final paragraph and then email this link to everyone you know. Have you moved to the final paragraph yet? If not, then we assume that you're ready to hear all about our WINTER GUARD EXCLUSIVE. So, here goes: apparently, over the course of the three issues, Ursa Major will "barely sit down". On top of this, Ursa "doesn't drink water" at any point. Now, we can only speculate as to what this means for everyone's favourite big brown bear, but we believe these may be subtle indications that Mikhail (that's Ursa's real name, fact-fans) is going to be so busy clawing things and growling that he won't even have a second for a nice sit-down and glass of refreshing spring water. The miniseries - released in June, so don't forget to pre-order yourself some copies - is going to be so ridiculously action-packed that the characters will forego relaxation in order to entertain every sense in your body. Pretty exciting exclusive, eh? Remember: you read it here FIRST! Personally, we can't wait to see how Steve Ellis depicts Mikhail not sitting down or drinking, and we're sure that you're excited too.

You may remember that we have already advised you to buy ludicrous quantities of the forthcoming miniseries, in order to better educate your friends, family, teachers and strangers about why these are the greatest characters to ever appear in comics. Well, now we believe you should also write a letter to Joe Quesada in which you compliment his hair, say he smells nice, and tell him how much you enjoy reading about The Winter Guard. Every little step we take now will help us further down the road.

Chris Evans to play Captain America

We are a British site, which means that we must first make a disclaimer: Chris Evans is the name of an American actor. We are not at any point referring to everyone's favourite morning ginger, Chris Evans, of 'bagging Billie Piper' fame. This is going to be a deadening blow to anyone who is a fan of Evans' madcap morning antics, and his brilliant wit. Do you remember when he played football, naked, with Paul Gascoigne? That was great. Sadly, Paul Gascoigne has yet to be cast in the film either, despite having all the hallmarks of a superb Red Skull.
So, to recap: Chris Evans the actor, not Chris Evans the DJ.

Chris Evans the actor was the guy who appeared in the Fantastic Four series as Johnny Storm, which means that several of the more severe Marvel fans are likely going to explode upon hearing the news that he's going to be Captain America too. However, let's not get too caught up in specifics, people. So what if he's going to appear in two different Marvel films, as two different characters? (what? Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silve Surfer? No, doesn't ring a bell) Smilin' Stan Lee appeared as Willie Lumpkin in the original Fantastic Four movie, but has since reappeared in Spiderman, Iron Man, Hulk, X-Men... he's been in every Marvel film imaginable. Now, does this wreck continuity for you as well? Does it?

We imagine that it probably does. But still, our point stands. There's nothing wrong with pulling double-duty in the name of Heroism. And after all, it's not like there are many other candidates out there who are currently starring in a TV series based on a DC title written by Peter Milligan who could do the role far more justice than Evans will, is it? And at least Evans is showing loyalty to Marvel by only doing comic-book films which are based on Marvel properties. It'd be terrible if he were to star in some kind of ensemble movie based on a comic by Andy Diggle, which was published by DC! That would make Evans look like quite the traitor, and not even we here at Comics Vanguard - the most tolerant blog site you'll ever treasure - would be able to accept his disloyalty to Marvel.

So, good luck to you, Chris.

Nonexclusive look at the cover for Avengers Academy #1

You may have come to the conclusion that we are weirdly in love with Christos Gage, to which we reply: what? Us? Uh... no comment. IGN have unveiled the cover for the first issue of his post-Siege title, Avengers Academy, featuring all six of the main characters together for the first time. There have still been no announcements about which famous characters will appear in the series, which means that so far all the series has going for it are five new characters and a dude called 'Reptil'. As such, it's a strange decision by Marvel to have Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor appear in faint background - are we to believe that these characters will match up to those three? Cos sure, they'll probably be more interesting, but is America really ready to take 'Veil' to their hearts? So far, Fortress appears to be the best character of the lot. It's great when a writer takes a rubbish character and turns them into something radically new: we're hardly missing Patriot at all.

Christos Gage. If you ever want to try mutilating Gert from Runaways and turning her into a limbless superhero who stops criminals by shouting liberal platitudes at them... you have our permission.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Is Black Panther Cancelled?

For many, the Black Panther series is synonymous with 'Mary Sueism', a hateful term which is used sometimes to describe characters who are flawless. While we loathe the term with every fibre of our floaty internet tendrils, there is some validity in the arguement that the Black Panther title has from time to time been prone to elements of this. Mostly while written by Reginald Hudlin, the character appears to have been written as an unbeatable superhero, with no flaws to be seen. As a result, the series is hated by some whilst loved by others. While nice to see a black character get the spotlight, we found it slightly disappointing that it tended to come only at the expense of other characters. There have also been some highly questionable storylines which occasionally skirted into racism. So all in all, the series hasn't been our favourite.

However, once Jonathan Maberry, the current writer, took over, the series has seen a massive boost in writing style and tone. Gone is the 'superior' Black Panther, replaced with a more understandable and flawed and complex character. It's been pleasing to see, even if the introduction of Storm to the cast all those years ago still seems out-of-place amongst the rest of the cast and the ongoing storylines. Now - Black Panther has been relaunched several times, because it continually delivers low sales because usually it isn't a very good comic. It's currently on something like volume seven or eight, which is rather ridiculous. As a result, Marvel have elected to try a new tactic with the series.

They tried the same thing with Captain America and Immortal Iron Fist. The main series goes on haitus whilst a miniseries is introduced, which features the same characters but gives them a shiny new #1 to lure in readers and trick them into thinking something else is going on here. When the miniseries finishes, the title continues with its previous numbering, and all the new readers, thus entranced, start buying it too. In keeping with this new tradition, Black Panther has been cancelled, and replaced by a miniseries which on the surface looks like it's more about Doctor Doom and Wolverine than it is about the titular Panther. And lo and behold, the miniseries is selling almost double the issues that the original series sold.

This tactic raised sales for Cap. Immortal Iron Fist, though? Kinda got cancelled as a result. And now, regardless of the high sales, people are starting to question whether Black Panther is going to come back. The main evidence for cancellation looks to be that subscription companies have switched over subscriptions for Black Panther to Daredevil, indicating that there will be no more issues of the former being released. Obviously Marvel will never tell fans that a series is cancelled - everything gets cancelled softly softly nowadays - but it seems fairly apparent that Doomwar will feature the last Black Panther story for quite a while. What this means 'Panthe' himself is unknown, although it seems unlikely that Marvel would let one of their most popular female characters be left in limbo for long. Perhaps the marriage between Black Panther and Storm will, once more, save T'Challa from obscurity? Who knows.

Avengers #1: We've got (stolen) the cover (from IGN)

Avengers #1 is getting closer with every minute of every day. Are you excited? How could you not be, when a book is released which features loads of boring characters on the cover doing nothing in particular? So far, we know that Hawkeye and Iron Man and Communist America (see what we did there?!) and Thor and Spider-Woman will be on the roster for the series, but covers have indicated that Spider-Man and Wolverine have inevitably worked their way into the series somehow. Well, now we finally have a look at a proper cover, we can immediately see a few more interesting details about the series everyone is talking about when they aren't talking about Pixie Strikes Back. We absolutely love that miniseries it's totally rad.

Hey, Wonder-Man! Still not a credible threat within the Marvel Universe? Well, don't worry, we'll turn you evil and see if your negligable powers can overwhelm every overpowered hero imaginable in a one-on-eight battle. Now, sure, he's a rubbish hero, but he's a hero nevertheless and it's interesting to see that the Heroic Age is kicking off with a storyline in which Wonder Man turns evil for some reason and attacks everyone. We already know that Kang The Conqueror is standing-by somewhere, waiting to make his return, so should we expect that Wondy is being controlled by him? Or maybe something else is going on here. Wonder Man could be being used here for any number of reasons - perhaps this is leading to some kind of revival for the 'real' Vision, even. Maybe a number of former heroes are going to attack The Avengers simultaneously in order to distract them while Kang makes his grand play for Godhood in Genosha oh wait we got mixed up for a second, there.

Anyway, the most interesting part of this cover must surely be the random blonde dude stood in the back. Is that Steve Rogers, or is it Hank Pym? Maybe it's going to be Hulkling from the Young Avengers, for no apparent reason. Blonde dude is going to be the big talking point for the next few months, most likely, as neither Pym or Rogers have thus far been assigned to any team. It could even be Doug Ramsey, and something completely incoherent is going to happen to the New Mutants. At any rate, welcome back Mr Bendis. You've got our attention. We rather enjoy a good story about evil heroes, especially when it looks like Wonder Man is going to get his face kicked in.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Spider-Woman Concludes; Apparently it Started?

According to Brian Michael Bendis, his 'Spider-Woman' series will come to an end with this week's issue #7, ending an arc which pitched the title character headfirst into the world post-Secret Invasion and eventually taught her the meaning of friendship. Although, we have to admit that we're slightly sceptical about this, as we could've sworn that this series never existed. Ah well. As you may remember, Spider-Woman was kidnapped and impersonated by the Skrulls for years and years, leading up to the Secret Invasion storyline in which 'Spider-Woman' was outed as the Skrull Queen, Veranke, and subsequently shot in the head by Norman Osborn. Later, the real Spider-Woman reappeared, into a world which distrusted her instinctively.
Interesting hook for an ongoing series, eh? Superhero trying to overcome the stigma of being the figurehead of a Skrull invasion of Earth, trying to clear her name while at the same time beating up aliens and being generally heroic? We can definitely see why Marvel would accept a pitch like that; especially during their 'Dark Reign' theme which hung over all their titles at the time. It's just a shame that the series only ever existed within Brian Michael Bendis' head. Oh, sure, he can say that it was drawn by Alex Maleev and featured appearances from Madame Viper, The Thunderbolts, and Agent Brand... but surely we would've noticed a series being released under our noses? There would have been publicity, preview pages, interviews to read about the series.
We don't remember seeing any of that. As such, we do not accept the claim that the series existed, even if it does explain where Alex Maleev has been all these months. This new announcement from Mr Bendis just makes us all the more worried that writing ten books a month may have driven him to delusions. Shame, really, because it would've been nice to have a Spider-Woman comic to read. She's had virtually no development since Secret Invasion, apart from in New Avengers where she was controlled by a monkey and beat up Spider-Man. Perhaps now would be a good time to actually make the pitch? She could be a part of The Heroic Age, and spend her time beating up rogue Skrulls as part of her revenge against the Invasion forces. Hey: make it a motion comic, while you're at it! Those things are amazing.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Avengers Academy: Has Christos Gage torn off Patriot's face?

So now we have all six of the Avengers Academy teasers released, and Christos Gage has only just today done an interview with comicbookresources, in which he states cryptically that some of the characters may not be 'new'. It was initially thought that all six of the characters unveiled were new creations made up by Gage and artist Mike McKone especially for the series, but now it seems that some of them may be existing characters, given new nicknames. Of course, this is only going to ramp up the speculation about the series and increase interest, so perhaps Gage is lying like the trickster he invariably is, but if not... then the character 'Fortress' looks particularly interesting. Here is Fortress:

Now, could it be that Christos Gage has taken the popular character Patriot, erstwhile leader of the Young Avengers, and torn off all the skin from his body, in order to create this new character? Although we have no evidence to suggest that this is the case, our answer is a definite 'yes'. Patriot has been mutilated beyond recognition, and entered the Academy in order to deal with his new status quo. He will be tutored by other famous characters with no skin, such as that Glob Herman character from Grant Morrison's New X-Men, and that other one what appeared in the X-Men story where they recruited a bunch of weirdos and Dazzler and went off to behead Magneto. Remember that guy? Him, too. And maybe Red Skull.

It's an interesting new direction for a character who was previously little more than a drug addict, and the only question left - because by now we have completely accepted our theory as 100% correct - would be 'how did he lose his skin'? Perhaps he'll get it taken off in Siege, and be saved by magic, or maybe something else entirely will be involved. Needless to say, we're going to spend the next two months in gleeful anticipation of the event, because we always thought he was the worst Young Avenger. (As if you didn't already know, Kate Bishop is the best. Then Isaiah Bradley, and next is Stature).

Fraction on Thor: Making Up Gods

You may know by now that Matt Fraction will be the next ongoing writer for Marvel's 'Thor', following on from JMS (can't spell his surname so won't bother) and Kieron Gillen's recent runs after the character and series were relaunched a few years ago, after Civil War wrapped up. As we're reaching the Heroic Age, Fraction has started to reveal a few of the plans he has for the character, as apparently he's more than a guy who hits things with a hammer. News to us. It seems that Fraction intends to explore the mythology aspect of Thor a little more than anything else, focusing on the sci-fi elements of the series which used to pop up all the time when Jack Kirby was in charge. As a result, we're going to see less of Asgard and mead and feasting halls, and more of the big World Tree thing and likely a little Beta Ray Bill.
If you are wondering if wandering minstrel-in-glasses Matt Fraction will be able to cope with writing three of Marvel's biggest titles, as well as that Casanova thing, then the answer is apparently yes. We'll also be seeing crossover between the titles, as we've already heard Fraction state that certain Marvel heroes will make appearances in Uncanny X-Men after 'Second Coming' ends, and in these interviews he confirms that Iron Man will show up in Thor. The last time the two characters met, Tony Stark was Hitler, so it'll be interesting to see what the relationship between the two will be like when Stark isn't being written as a mental.
Fraction also teases appearances from some other gods in the title, who will be completely made up. Hence our title. No details on any of these characters as of yet, although we're sure that he'll be able to crowbar in a reference to The Mountain Goats in there somewhere. Perhaps one of the characters could be called Sax Rohmer? Just a thought, Matt.
A recent reveal has been the name of the artist who'll be joining Fraction on the title: Pasqual Ferry, previously of Adam Strange fame, in what is possibly the artist's highest-profile title to date. He also drew a bit of Young Avengers Special: the story which featured our favourite Captain America and yours, Isaiah Bradley. Ferry specialises in making characters look powerful and big and chunky, so he should be well suited to the art of God-making. The pair start on the title with Thor #611, following on from Kieron Gillen's 'Siege' arc. Chances that Thor will wear an ironic T-Shirt? Moderate-to-high.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Buy Obscene Amounts of "Darkstar and The Winter Guard"

Marvel finally make the announcement that everyone has been waiting for: a three issue miniseries starting in June called "Darkstar and The Winter Guard". Continuing on from last December's "Hulk: Winter Guard" one-shot, the series will focus on the characters of Darkstar III, Ursa Major, Crimson Dynamo and Red Guardian. In case you haven't been keeping up, Darkstar is now a blonde called Reena Stancioff, after the senseless murder of Laynia Petrovna during Grant Morrison's New X-Men run and the far-better-done death of Sasha Roerich in the one-shot. Crimson Dynamo is now a woman, whilst the Red Guardian appears to be some kind of cyborg. Ursa Major is, as always, Ursa Major.

Written and drawn by the same creative team who gave us the one-shot last year - David Gallaher and Steve Ellis - the series will initially focus on an attack from Atlantean warlord Krang, who invades Russia at the start of the series and presumaby attempts to take over the entirety of the nation. The only hope for the country will be the four-strong Winter Guard... although, interestingly, editor Jordan White has stated that more than four Russia heroes will appear over the course of the story. This suggests that possible returns for Perun, Fantasma, Blind Faith and so on could be on the cards, although the biggest variable at this point in time concerns the whereabouts of Vanguard, the original Darkstar's brother. He's been missing ever since she died, and a large section of the Hulk: Winter Guard oneshot revolved around her death and legacy.

So he might come back: but so might she! Her dad, The Presence, is also in the mix here, after being captured by the team and imprisoned. There are all these different factors going on, and basically this is going to be the best miniseries Marvel have ever produced, so you should go and buy at least four copies. One copy to read, one copy to store in your library, one copy to frame and hang over your mantlepiece, and one copy to post to Russia, with a note attached which says "MAKE THIS TEAM HAPPEN IN REALITY".

Friday, 12 March 2010

Mockingbird gets a Solo Series!

Bobbi Morse, the superhero otherwise known as Mockingbird, will be getting her own solo series starting in June, courtesy of writer Jim McCann and artist David Lopez, in which she will finally get to deal with her life post-Secret Invasion. As part of The Heroic Age Initiative, the series will see Mockingbird fight some of her most notable villains (note: while memorable for fans of the character, these villains are not particularly well-known), including The Phantom Rider and Crossfire.

The Phantom Rider is most well-known for the storyline in which he drugged and raped Mockingbird (comics aren't just for kids, especially when it comes to old storylines about female characters), which led to her almost breaking up with her husband, Hawkeye. So, hopefully he gets beaten up savagely. Now, the events of Secret Invasion meant that Mockingbird and Hawkeye never actually reconciled after Phantom Rider's assault, because she was kidnapped by the Skrulls at some point beforehand. So while Hawkeye thought they were back on good terms, it turns out that she still resents him. This was settled during McCann's previous Mockingbird solo miniseries, "The Return", in which she bizarrely accepted him back into her life. She later attempted to murder him with a fork because of the Black Widow, but sadly never got the chance to finish the job.

Alongside appearances from Tigra and War Machine and Steve Rogers, McCann promises to make the most of this solo series and really show the world why Bobbi Morse deserves her own ongoing.

(Ignore Hawkeye)

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Young Allies appear; possibly fight Germans

We are a British blog, which makes it justified for us to sometimes bring up the awful period between 1939 and 1944 when Germany was not very pleasant. It's not racist, it's our cultural identity. Anyway!

Sean McKeever has announced that as part of The Heroic Age he will be putting together a team of utterly random characters to form "The Young Allies", who will be in their own ongoing series (I know, right? We'll get into that later) starting in June. The most notable character amongst the lineup would have to be Firestar, who seems to be at least five years too old to be involved in a book about teenage characters fighting villains. There is a one-shot coming out soon as part of the Marvel Women initiative about her, during which she'll have to get seriously mucked around with in order for this to make much sense.
Or perhaps she could become that weird member of the group who is trying to reclaim her youth by dressing sluttily and reading pitchfork.com. Every group of friends has one, don't try to deny it. Also on the team are two characters McKeever has a particular interest in - Nomad, who is currently appearing in a backup story McKeever is writing for Ed Brubaker's 'Captain America' series, and Gravity, a guy who McKeever apparently created. It seems that Gravity has quite the online fanbase, despite the fact that we've never heard of him. So maybe he'll hook up with Firestar, or something.

The other two characters are called Arana - a Spiderman character or something, she has spider based powers; and Toro, who is a Mexican bullfighter and just likes hitting things. Why are they called the Young Allies? Christ knows. Are the characters French, British, American and Russian? No. So the title is bizarre, and we don't yet know why McKeever has chosen it. We'll just have to see. Drawn by David Baldeon, the series will be coming in June, and the brightest spot of this news story comes in the form of the villains whom the team will face in their first arc: The Bastards of Evil.

Great name.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Avengers Academy: What's the sizzle?

Good question, title of this post. Good question indeed. What is the sizzle with Avengers Academy?
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Mike McKone
Cast: Unknowns - 'Veil' and 'Striker' so far.
Reason for being: A book which focuses on new superheroes being trained by old superheroes, so that they can grow up with full control over their powers/become heroes in their own right working to protect America from villainous forces.
Launching from the soon to be cancelled "Avengers: The Initiative", Avengers Academy seems set to be essentially the same as ever, and if you're keeping count then this will make the third set of new recruits to the series that the creative team have carefully ushered in. Although the majority of these recruits have thus far failed to make an impact outside of 'Initiative', that still means that Christos Gage has been in charge of three sets of no-name characters and managed to keep the book selling. Dan Slott too, of course. That's some pretty nifty writing right there.
The key to the continued good fortune of the series while equal series like 'Young X-Men' were cancelled is that A:TI was never afraid to crossover. Every other issue tied the series in to whatever else was happening in the Marvel Universe - a trick which is not often pulled off with much flair, outside of Peter David's X-Factor - and filled every page with notable characters. She-Hulk, the Mighty Avengers, War Machine, Yellowjacket - each month they would all appear to varying degrees in the background of the issue, even though the main stars were unknown characters such as Cloud 9 or Hardball.
It's not too big a leap to suggest that this will likely be the case again when the series relaunches. Hank Pym has noticably yet to appear in any of the Avengers team, alongside Steve Rogers and Black Widow. Whilst the Avengers are busy doing something with Kang, and the New Avengers change nappies for months on end, and the Secret Avengers do whatever it is they do, will there be crossover into Avengers Academy, or will Gage be allowed to hold onto characters solely for his own use? By that we mean - will this book have a limited number of 'tutor' characters, or will every month see random characters appear to give a lesson or two and then vanish again for eternity? That's possibly the most interesting part of the Heroic Age at this point, as it's one of only two secrets which Marvel have thus far kept back from us.
Three more unknown students will join the cast this week, if the teasers keep up in the way they have been thus far. But which well-known characters will join them? Obviously we're quite massive fans of this series, so when we say that we'll inform you as soon as anything else arises - we absolutely will. In infuriating detail. Hurrah!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Five (Really Two) New Avengers

The lineup for Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen's New Avengers cast has been finalised, as Spider-Man, Wolverine, Luke Cage and Jewel are joined by The Thing. Yeah, from the Fantastic Four. Why has Ben Grimm joined the team? We really believed that we were going to get all five of our predictions right, but now this announcement has left us reeling, unsure of what to do with ourselves. We've been humbled, dear readers. It's a total nightmare. Bendis said that the fifth team member would catch out a lot of people, and he's seemingly proved his point with this appointment.

What does this mean for the Fantastic Four? Probably nothing. Jonathan Hickman is, as we've previously noted, working alongside Bendis to create The Secret Warriors storyline, and it's likely that the two will have carefully plotted out this development for months now. The main Fantastic Four book has been paddling round in circles for a few years now, and Hickman's approach to the title has given the team their first boost in a long time. Now that The Thing is going to be a New Avenger, their profile can only rise as a result. The New Avengers - Spiderman and Wolverine, don't forget - will have a reason to appear in the Fantastic Four title, and help out with sales and publicity for Hickman's series.

The storyline for New Avengers is completely under wraps at the moment, but it makes a fair amount of sense to add The Thing to the cast as he used to be one of Marvel's biggest characters. He's still one of their most popular mascots, and he adds a sense of humour to any title that he's added to - for a long while now he's been stuck trying to make the rest of the Fantastic Four seem interesting, so it'll be nice to see him get a new set of people to make fun of. He's also appeared several times in notable roles during Bendis storylines, such as the Stark Vs Doom arc of Mighty Avengers, and the godawful Secret Wars miniseries. Bendis likes the character, knows the voice, and hopefully we'll get a lot of Grimm and a minimum of Jessica Jones as New Avengers takes its first steps into The Heroic Age.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

New Avengers update: They're taking the Michael

We may have guessed it, but don't think that makes us any happier than you. Jessica Jones, AKA Jewel AKA oh gawd no, is going to join the New Avengers post-Siege. This means that the series now has two supremely marketable characters within the roster, and two awful characters who will likely do everything they can to drag the book down into cancellation. Who will it be tomorrow? And will that character push the sales towards success or failure? Remember that we are now 4/4 in terms of predictions, and we said that Ms Marvel would be the fifth member of the team. Lord knows if that means it's a success or a failure, though, the public can never make up their mind on poor bland Carol Danvers.

Jewel being on the team also means that this is undoubtedly going to be the 'Bendis' title. Three of the characters so far are characters he has reigning rights over, with Wolverine being the only one he doesn't have any long-term connection towards (but it's Wolverine, who cares what he sounds like as long as he stabs something, right??) So if you want quirky snappy and often downright repetitive dialogue, this will surely be the title for you. As an added incentive, don't forget that Luke Cage and Jewel are married with a baby, so this will be the Marvel series which features the most nappy-changing jokes (unless Moon Knight goes in a stunningly bold new direction)


Tuesday, 2 March 2010

New Avengers: That makes 2/2

Confirming what everyone had already guessed, Spider-Man is going to join the New Avengers. Naturally, his quote says something about how he loves responsibility, and he's keeping his mask on for the teaser image. So there's something, eh? It's good to know that, so far, Bendis is keeping to characters he knows. Spider-Man is arguably the character he handles best, and knows the voice for most fully, so this should be a boost for anyone who was on the fence about buying the series. Don't forget, people: Stuart Immonen.
So that means we have Luke Cage and Spider-Man. We've got two guesses right out of five, so far. Look out for Jessica Jones tomorrow, to make up the female contingent, and then Wolverine and Ms Marvel. As Spider-Man was on the cover of 'The Avengers #1', some had thought that he'd be on that team, despite not getting a teaser like Iron Man, Thor, etc. These people are not well-informed like we are, dear readers. Stick with us. The Avengers is going to decide which characters go into which group, and the cover has no bearing on the actual team. Trust us, we're really the smartest people you know. Remember: we're 2/2.

SHOCK NEWS: The X-Men to continue existing as of July 2010

This is going to come as a bit of a shock, but from what we can tell Marvel are going to continue publishing X-Men comics until at least July 2010. A new teaser released yesterday has confirmed the news, displaying the X-Men logo with the slogan "we are X-Men" beneath. Whilst many had speculated that Marvel would cancel all the X-Men titles, kill off all the characters, and salt the ground beneath them, it appears that Marvel have instead elected to continue telling stories about their most marketable and popular characters. Nobody knows who the writers or artists will be, although our secret sources claim that there will be "fuck-all difference" from the current status quo of the franchise.

Spider-Man Becomes Redundant

See how we used a title which has two meanings? Clever, eh? Although we actually like the current Spider-Man status quo, many readers couldn't accept the events of 'One More Day' and spend their time weeping openly; while on the way to work, while sat in the office, while making love, while sleeping. Well fear not, distraught Spider-Man fans, because Peter Parker is going to become empathetic all over again! Marvel have decided that the best way to help people get over Parker's hatred of marriage is to make him redundant. That's right: now Spider-Man is going to spend his time sponging off the welfare system (if America has one. Who knows?), wiping clean his webslingers while sat in the dole queue. The storyline comes up this week in Spiderman #623, and will come at the hands of Mark Waid.
He'll also be fighting a Vulture of some kind. But, mainly, he's going to be sat at home, watching Cash in the Attic whilst drinking red bulls and weeping. Oh, hey, he will be more relatable for you!

Monday, 1 March 2010

NEW AVENGER? Luke Cage's Baffling Popularity Continues

Marvel, in a move which we view as a personal retort to our previous statement that today was going to be a very slow news day, have revealed that Brian Michael Bendis will be writing a second of a speculated four Avengers titles come Summer 2010. New Avengers will be the name, as the series gets relaunched and justifies its title once more. The previous New Avengers series has lasted for years and years, so its refreshing to finally have a "New" team who really are new. Disappointingly however, the first member of the New Avengers is going to be Luke Cage, thus crushing all our dreams that Jessica Jones will be confined to one title only. Yellow Alert, everyone.

The bright side of this devastating blow is that the teaser image released today, which shows Luke Cage brandishing a length of chain with the phrase "I've Never Backed Down From A Fight" alongside him, is that the artist is Stuart Immonen. Which means that Stuart Immonen will be drawing the series. Thank heaven for that! No details have been released as to why Cage is on the New Avengers, or even why the team are still in existence, but we imagine that the next four days will see a new character added to the roster, one at a time. Spider-Man, Jessica Jones, Wolverine, and Ms Marvel are our predictions for what the future holds. We would've said Daredevil, but he appears to be turning evil in preparation for the 'Shadowlands' mini-event coming in a few months time. Here's the teaser image, at any rate:

Bear in mind that while Cage isn't wearing his tiara, this is only a teaser, and is not indicative of how he will look in the series.

Siege's Escalating Body Count

Tom Brevoort, a man who works behind the scenes to make sure that Marvel run like a well-oiled train service operated by a Japanese company, went over to the IGN mansion recently to discuss the details of Siege with the haughty journalist inhabitants. Although he failed to reveal why Siege was called Siege despite not offering a siege (there is a battle happening outside the walls of the floating city; were this a real siege then both sides of the battle would be stuck in their camps for possibly ten months before the besieged side runs out of foor and forms a desperate charge against the insurgents. Of course, this would not be as riveting a comic), he did go so far as to mention that there will be two more reasonably high-profile deaths before the series concludes in April.
Who will these two people be? Well, Brevoort said that neither death would come as a surprise to the readers of the storyline, which means that both victims are likely to be characters maintained solely by Bendis. If he were to kill off anyone who is outside his usual jurisdiction, then obviously that'd be a bit shocking (and Bendis is usually very good about only killing characters he's in charge of, anyway). This means that we're looking mainly at villains. Norman Osborn, The Sentry, and the Dark Avengers have all been extensively written by Bendis, and barely any of them have been seen thus-far in the solicitations for future comics. Moonstone and Daken are the only ones who are guaranteed to survive, as Jeff Parker is going to use the former in Thunderbolts and Daken still hasn't finished with the soon-to-be-concluded Wolverine: Origins series. That leaves Bullseye, Venom, and perhaps Victoria Hand as well.
Another variable to note is that Bendis helped created The Secret Warriors, who are also charging into the storyline as of issue #3. There have been several deals between Marvel writers in the past whereby certain characters are listed as being acceptable cannon fodder, so anyone is allowed to kill them if the storyline is right. An example of this would be Geldoff from Secret Invasion - Christos Gage has a list of all the characters in his 'Avengers: The Initiative' series, with a small black dot next to any of the cast who are expendable. He cultivates his cast, but many of them are only there in case he needs to kill them. Geldoff was such an example, a smalltime character who was killed off by Bendis during the main Secret Invasion storyline. Could Jonathan Hickman have a similar list?
And then there are the heroes. Almost all of them are safe, with one or two interesting exceptions. Hawkeye, Iron Man, Thor, Captains America and Spider-Woman are all safe because they're going to be The Avengers in May, and Spider-Man will never die. Luke Cage is in Thunderbolts, and Mockingbird also seems to be safe. However, Ms Marvel has no security whatsoever. Her solo series was recently cancelled as of issue #50, and that means she reverts back to be solely a Bendis character. It could well be that he'll kill her, as part of his secret initiative to remove all women from The Avengers by 2015. Scarlet Witch, then Wasp, and now Ms Marvel? Could it happen?
Probably not. We're calling for the 'death' of The Sentry (probably as part of a heroic sacrifice) and the death of Norman Osborn. Although, he won't be dead really. He'll be 'killed' in front of TV cameras, but in reality will have survived and been secretly put in a prison somewhere, from which he'll escape in a few years time and become a full-time Spiderman villain once more. That's our bet, and it seems like quite a safe one.
Yes, we realise that we've just spun a lot of speculative nothing into rather a long-winded and unnecessary post, but it's been A REALLY SLOW WEEK FOR NEWS!