Friday, 30 April 2010

Chris Hemsworth is Thor/80's Drag Act

We don't really care about Thor because of our rational distrust of Scandinavians, but here is the first-ever picture of Chris Hemsworth playing the character in the upcoming film. As you can see, he looks only slightly more realistic than Oliver Coipel's artwork. He also appears to have forgotten to comb his hair. Tsk.

Steve Rogers: Super-Duper-Soldier

Ed Brubaker is going to be very busy over the next few months. Not only is he turning some of his comics into films and whatnot, he also has himself a new four-issue miniseries starting in July - this time featuring solely upon Steve Rogers, the former Captain America. In Steve Rogers: Super Soldier, the eponymous hero will be called upon by SHIELD (yes, SHIELD are coming back!) to investigate something mysterious about the Super-Soldier programme, the very project which gave Rogers all his powers in the first place. Dale Eaglesham will draw the series, so expect Rogers to look very bulky and manly, as he essentially becomes James Bond for a few issues.
He'll be flying off all round the world, using gadgets, probably doing some sex with Sharon Carter, and - of course - donning a disguise in order to infiltrate the nefarious evil organisations and find out what's going on. It's a chance for Marvel to really push Rogers before the Captain America movie comes out next year, and as such it only makes sense for Ed Brubaker - the man who made Captain America not rubbish - to pen the series. Alongside Steve and Sharon will be the returned Nick Fury, who may well be back in charge of SHIELD... or, we'll have to see, not. Depends what Jonathan Hickman wants, really.
Oh, and we'll bet anyone £10 that the first issue starts with a flashback to WWII. Brubaker absolutely loves writing those.

Secret Avengers Expose Themselves

Yes, we've already made this joke. However, now we have made it twice, which makes us so much funnier. SO! Let's talk about this new series, released next month. Ed Brubaker's team of Secret Avengers had previously only been released as a series of vague silhouettes, without any names released. This stirred up a feverish hive of activity as the collective mind of the internet gathered together to hum around wildly. Their choices were, it has to be said, far more accurate than ours, as we can reveal now that the Secret Avengers will be:

Steve Rogers, Black Widow, Beast, War Machine, Ant-Man, Moon Knight, Valkyrie, and Nova. Interestingly, this splits up Black Widow and Captain America, who are meant to be dating at the moment - perhaps this is part of a campaign to boost her pulling power, in conjunction with Marjorie Liu's stellar Black Widow solo series. Or it could be part of an elaborate attempt by Steve Rogers to undermine Bucky, because he's all jealous of not being allowed to be Cap anymore. At any rate, it's quickly clear that the team are both stealthy and blatantly obvious. Nova?! The guy who leaves a jetstream trail wherever he goes? Well, apparently he's on the team anyway.

The series looks set to begin with an arc which throws the team into space, which is presumably where Nova will come into the mix. From there on in, we know absolutely nothing: Steve Rogers will likely be the central focus, but how he comes to choose this team is completely beyond us. Sharon Carter has been mentioned as being a part of the series, but she's also going to be a part of Ed Brubaker's other new project (which we'll tell you about in a minute), so whether she's going to become the decent version of Jessica Jones has yet to be seen. Ed Brubaker must have a plan (a critically-acclaimed one, we reckon), but at the moment it seems like the Secret Avengers as a team will be all over the place.

Oh, and Beast is still a cat. Excellent!

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Darkstar and The Winter Guard #2 Makes All Other Comics Negligible

The mini-series YOU demanded continues at a harrowing pace as forgotten teammates return to the fold and an ancient threat is reborn! Who are the Protectorate? Why do they hate the Winter Guard? What secrets are they keeping that could mean the end of The Winter Guard - and Russia as we know it? And -- The Presence makes a move! The Harvey Award-winning team behind “High Moon” brings you more tales of the greatest super heroes Russia has ever known! 40 PGS

The solicitation for Marvel's greatest achievement since Iron Man boxer shorts has been released, and already it's clear that this will be a miniseries which makes all other comics seem obsolete. Darkstar and The Winter Guard #2, out in July, will be written by David Gallaher and Steve Ellis, which will mean that it won't seem too out-of-sync with issue #1. Let's take a look at the words of the solicitation, and try to hazard some gusees as to what's going on here.
"The mini-series YOU demanded" - this line seems to be a direct reference to the letter we wrote Marvel last year, in green crayon.
"forgotten teammates return to the fold" - if you remember the Winter Guard oneshot from last year, several members of the team were listed as AWOL on a computer screen. Among the missing many was Vanguard, who is surely the most high-profile Russian character not to have appeared recently. Vanguard is also the brother of Darkstar I, Laynia Petrovna, which would give him a reason for returning to expose the false nature of the Winter Guard programme. With a third Darkstar currently pretending to be Laynia, will Vanguard be attempting to reveal the truth behind the title? Other AWOL members include Perun, Sibercat, and Fantasma. Will we see any of them?
"an ancient threat is reborn" - no idea! This could be anything. David Gallaher has a worrying brain which knows more about Russian Superheroes than your mind knows about internet porn. Yeah, that's right! We know what you get up to between visits to ComVan. Don't worry though: we won't judge you.
"Who are the Protectorate? Why do they hate the Winter Guard? What secrets are they keeping that could mean the end of The Winter Guard - and Russia as we know it?" - this could well be the name of Vanguard's team of exposers. Uh, we mean that in the sense of 'exposing the truth'. If the first reference to old team-members refers to people who support the Winter Guard and are part of a B-Team of Guarders, then The Protectorate sounds like a group who want to reveal the truth about the team.
"And -- The Presence makes a move!" - The Presence is Laynia's dad, and Vanguard's father also. He is currently locked up in the Wnter Guard's holding cells, although it was made abundantly clear that he was playing a Trojan Horse. He wants to bring Laynia back from the dead (a move which, awkwardly, may have already occurred at the end of 'Necrosha') and isn't bothered about the consequences. He's the guy on the cover, and is totally badass.
"The Harvey Award-winning team behind “High Moon”" - this means David Gallaher and Steve Ellis.
"40 PGS" - this is how many pages there are.

Did We Mention the X-23 Ongoing Series?

This will obviously come as a massive surprise to you, because we haven't said anything about this before - but Marjorie Liu is going to be writing an X-23 ongoing series starting in July, which will mark her third concurrent ongoing title for Marvel. And this one, surely, is going to prove to be the toughest to write. How do you go about writing a series in which the main character barely ever talks, doesn't display any sign of emotion, has no friends, and no heroic instinct? If anyone knows, it'll have to be Marjorie Liu.
While we've no news at the moment about the artist, several details have emerged about what readers can expect when the series begins. Building on Jason Aaron's 'Wolverine goes to Hell' storyline, in which Logan's soul goes to Hell and his body is possessed by sinister forces, X-23 will initially focus on the eponymous killing machine's relationship with Wolverine, which is... well, it's mostly non-existence. Did we mention good luck with writing the series, Marjorie Liu? The character will be leaving the X-Men as a result of the conclusion of X-Force and moving around, which will allow her to interact with other members of the Marvel Universe. Or rather, to sniff Daredevil and Captain America, before retreating to a backalley to cut herself.
Will there be a romantic side to the story? Bugger chance. With all this in mind, let's hope that Liu finds a way to somehow take this character - who isn't really present in any respect - and make her into something interesting. Perhaps she could take up a tap-dancing class.

Quesada takes over Spider-Man Again

Noted artistic talent Joe Quesada, who also happens to be the Editor-In-Chief for Marvel, has announced that he will be writing the major Spider-Man storyline "One Moment in Time" this July. It's unclear if anyone else within the Marvel Offices is aware of this development, as presumably he can announce anything he wants without getting told off. His word is done. Ever since he established a new status-quo for Spider-Man in which he was no longer married, the Web-Heads writing team have been revealing very slowly just how the new status-quo came about. We know a fair few of the details now, and some things have been rumoured, but as of this moment the real events which led to One More Day/Brand New Day have been kept secret, as the writing staff have been busy telling good stories. But now, in July, Joe Quesada will try writing something as he enters the four-part Summer Blockbuster 'One Moment In Time'.

The arc appears to focus on the details of the wedding itself - which happened, but didn't end in a hitching - and promises to finally make everything fall into place, so things won't be so confusing. After the arc finishes, the business of telling good stories will presumably continue. The story will be drawn by Paolo Manuel Rivera and.... Joe Quesada. Jeez, that guy can do anything he wants. Let's hope he doesn't decide that ComVan isn't continuity - we'd hate to stop existing.

Friday, 23 April 2010

X-Force 2: Forcier

Everyone was wondering about X-Force's status after Second Coming. Would it be cancelled after the veteran warlords Craig Kyle and Chris Yost completed their run, or would someone else take over? Well, the answer is here: Rick Remender (he of 'making Punisher a zombot' fame) will be taking over the team as of July 2010, with Wolverine maintaining his leadership of the team. Remender promises to make the series even tougher than before - now that the majority of the cast have moved on, Wolverine is going to have to recruit some new team-members. The result of all this is another -shaded-out teaser image, showing Logan and four silhouettes preparing to fight. Oh look, here it is:

So who will be on the team? Well, it looks like Fantomex is a dead cert, and add Deadpool to the mix as well. Because, y'know, that's how things roll nowadays. There's a woman to the left of Wolverine who could be either Elektra or Psylocke, whilst the flying guy could be Angel, or Mimic, or anyone really. It's an interesting team, but the real draw of the series will be the return of classic X-Men maniac Apocalypse. Yeah, the blue Egyptian is returning, and X-Force will be working exclusively to try and stop him from doing... something.

Cyclops looks set to be removed from the title as well, as X-Force goes even more underground than before. Could Magneto be in charge now? Or Emma Frost? Perhaps this is all a bait-and-switch and we're about to enter the Reign Of Boom Boom. We can only hope. For the moment though, not much can be revealed about the storyline. Because, yes, Second Coming is still going on.

Daken gets his own ongoing seri- wait

Another new series coming up for the X-Men will be Dark Wolverine, a title which features Wolverine's evil son Daken. Daken, who is not a fan of his dad - especially because dad keeps stabbing him, and that - will spend the series dressed up like Logan, in order to cause as much chaos as possible. The series, which will be plotted by Daniel Way and Marjorie Liu but written exclusively by Liu, will feature the artwork of Giuseppi Camuncoli, and... wait. Does anyone get a feeling of deja vu? The series kicks off in July with a big shiny #1, as Daken tries to come to terms with the fact that his dad's soul has been eaten as part of Jason Aaron's aforementioned 'Wolverine in Hell' storyline. There will be violence.

And sex. Lots of sex. As Daken's powers allow him to manipulate the pheremones of others, he will use his abilities to sleep his way into power, and... no, we're really starting to feel a bit of repetition here. What's going on? It couldn't possibly be because Daken already has a title called Dark Wolverine, written by Marjorie Liu and drawn by Giuseppi Camuncoli, could it? Y'know, that definitely sounds like a good reason for feeling deja vu as we write this storyline. As Daken is in a bit of limbo until his crossovers with Punisher and Wolverine: Origins ends, it'll be interesting to see where the character will be in a few months time, when his series sets out again under its own steam.

Anyway, despite basically slapping a #1 on an ongoing title for no real reason, the series will mark Marjorie Liu's third ongoing series with Marvel, which makes her one of the most successful female writers in the publisher's history. In the year of the 'Marvel Woman' initiative, perhaps this is one of the best successes Marvel have had as of yet. Wait a minute - third? But she's only writing Black Widow and Dark Wolverine, isn't she? Oh no, she's got another project lined up too. Stay tuned to find out what it is. (hint: it's an X-23 ongoing series!!)

Most Ridiculous Cover of All Time

It's About Time we had a new X-Men Series

Marvel have announced that writer Victor Gischler and artist Paco Medina are going to bring a new core X-Men title into existence, namely the series 'X-Men'. This is the result of all those 'We Are The X-Men' teasers that were floating about a few weeks ago, which showed established characters like Magneto and Psylocke hanging out with Blade and Jubilee, among others. The premise of the series is to bridge the widening gap between the X-Men franchise and the rest of the Marvel Universe, which don't often cross over often nowadays (and when they do, it's always in order to pour misery on th X-Men). Gischler - whose surname you can expect to see butchered several times on this website as time goes on - reveals that the series will feature simple, stand-alone stories which aim to put a bit more fun and entertainment into the franchise. As the X-Men are almost continually gloomy, this is welcome news.

The first arc will feature vampires, who are attacking San Francisco. Those of you with eyes will notice that this means the X-Men will remain in San Francisco after Second Coming, which is another relief. The story will be a basic siege-war, with characters appearing at random whenever they are needed, before the series then goes on to tone down the roster and attain a fixed cast of characters. This will be the title where the X-Men go out looking to improve their PR, so that'll likely mean characters like Northstar and Dazzler will find homes in the title - again, fingers crossed. As Second Coming is still - two months to go! - ongoing, we have no real details as-of-yet, although it appears that Jubilee will appear in the series as some kind of vampire.

Blade will likely turn up in the first arc then, with future appearances from Spider-Man and Fred Van Lente's 'Savage' She-Hulk on the horizon. Oh, and X-Man looks set to appear, which suggests he'll be freed from HAMMER once Marvel's Siege event finishes. Here's a picture by Paco Medina to illustrate this.

Casanova Coming To Icon

Sadly this is not a feature on the much-loved Heath Ledger film finally getting a full release in UK cinemas, but rather about Matt Fraction's slightly less critically-acclaimed series. Which, it turns out, actually is getting a full release in UK cinemas. Only kidding! That'd be silly, it's a comic-book. It's getting released as a full-body tattoo instead. Only kidding again! That'd be silly too. But oddly alluring. Really, it's getting a release via Marvel, as the series prepares to begin volume three. The first two volumes were printed elsewhere, so this will be quite a big deal for the series in terms of publicity and promotion.
The announcement measn that Marvel's ICON line is now starting to look more and more powerful, and may one day be able to stand alongside DC's mighty Vertigo imprint without feeling slightly weedy and in need of a solid session at the gym. Alongside all the stuff Ed Brubaker puts out, there is also a Brian Michael Bendis project imminent for the line, which we'll tell you more about in a short while - but let's focus on Casanova for the moment. Drawn by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon, the series has something to do with spies and classic swinging-sixties styles (although it's not set in the 60s).
Really, we know bugger-all about the series, because we still don't really know much about comics outside of IRON MAN IS THE ONE IN THE BIG METAL SUIT so this is just a way to break up all the X-Men/Wolverine news we've got coming up. We're sure that Casanova is good, though. Probably.

Wolverine Gets New Ongoing, Loses Two

Wolverine has more stories told about him than any other character, with the current exceptions of Deadpool and Jesus. As things currently stand he has two solo titles, as well as an assortment of cameo appearances and team books he sometimes pops up in whenever the writer needs a villain killed instead of arrested (whatever happened to villains getting arrested? What a startling comment on America's current justice system). However, soon Wolverine: Origins will reach it's fiftieth issue, at which point the story will conclude and we'll go on our way without ever hearing the term 'lupine' again. More interesting though is the newly-announced closure of Jason Aaron's 'Wolverine: Weapon X' series, which will be folded into a new title in July: the simply-named 'Wolverine'.

This gives the series a shiny new #1 to plaster on the front, but also means that people should find it even more simple to work out which is the main Wolverine title. Because, uh, there's only going to be one. All the storylines and current developments from Weapon X will run on into this new series, and Ron Garney will continue on the artistic front. The only difference is that now the series will feature 70-80% more Mystique. Obviously this is important as she is the greatest villain Marvel have, and her reappearance in the title comes just as Wolverine picks up a new girlfriend. Hmm. Wonder what'll happen to her? Good things, we'll wager.

The first storyarc will throw Wolverine into Hell, in a continuation of Aaron's decision to make each story a different genre: he's done horror and action and stealh stuff, now he's doing supernatural horror. Probably this means an appearance from some of the other characters Aaron's used in the past - Ghost Rider being one of the most likely choices. At the same time, it appears that spending all his time in a big glass treehouse which can teleport all around the World has opened up Aaron's view on structure, as each issue of the five-part opening story will feature a backup story as well. The back-ups will focus on different people clsoe to Logan, as they are attacked one-by-one by a mysterious company. The company, who remain mysterious, will also steal Logan's soul and throw it into Hell.

So, Wolverine will be out soon, and don't forget that he's the one with claws - not the one with the red mask. The one with the red mask is Deadpool. Jesus is easiest to recognise because he usually carries a lightsabre.

Marvel Blatantly Hides Their News From Comics Vanguard

We've been trapped by that volcano all week, and what do Marvel do? They announce all their news during that week, thus ensuring that the anarchic wit and substantial pulling power (over five readers!) of ComVan won't be able to comment on any of it. Well, Marvel, you've picked the wrong website to blindside.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Punisher 100% More interesting now he is Undead Robot

They say that whenever a writer adds robots, zombies, pirates or ninjas into a story; it's a sure-fire sign of creative bankruptancy. However, when you are dealing with a character who is already absolutely the most pitiable wreck of disinterest - like The Punisher - that surely justifies any attempt whatsoever to make something of note happen. Writer Rick Remender was given the thankless job of trying to make Frank Castle interesting, and has so far managed to do just that. First he had Castle get chopped up into pieces by feral man-boy Daken (the "Dark Wolverine") and then he resurrected Punisher as a botched-surgery Frankenstein's Monster of a character. Now known as "Frankencastle", the Punisher has decided to hunt down monsters and blow them up, all under the artistic quill of Tony Moore. It's been great. And now, after shooting a few million undead nazis, Frankencastle is gunning after a rematch with another monster...

A crossover with Marjorie Liu's excellent 'Dark Wolverine' series, in which each book will contribute two of four chapters. Although this makes Dark Wolverine officially 'the new X-Factor' in terms of wading from one crossover to the next, we're confident that this will be great. Hopefully Frank Castle will remain an inhuman monster forevermore, because in this incarnation he's not shit anymore. Drawn by Tony Moore and an as-yet-unrevealed second artist, the crossover seems set to start in July.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Fred Van Lente "Almost Definitely" Writing X-Force

We've taken it upon ourselves to read some stuff into the "We Are The X-Men" teasers which Marvel have been releasing recently, and so far things all seem to be progressing nicely. After finding out that all the Spider-Man titles were going to be cancelled in July to integrate Spidey into the X-Men team, now comes the news that Lyra - the current She-Hulk - will also be joining the team. Given that Lyra was created by none other than Fred Van Lente, who is also a member of "the web-heads" Spider-Man writing team, it thusly makes perfect sense to assume that Van Lente will be taking over X-Force after Second Coming. The series, which is currently written by Craig Kyle and Chris Yost, is set to gain a new creative team after the event, but up till now nobody had been willing to say anything. But now, with the reveal of these two characters, we can say with absolute confidence that Van Lente is imminent.

Nobody else would want to write about Lyra instead of Jennifer Walters (the REAL She-Hulk), especially in a storyline which falls outside of the 'Fall of the Hulks' whatever-event. And nobody else would want Spider-Man in the X-Men (apart from Marc Guggenheim - it could be his return to the series). And hey - who wroteX-Men: Noir, which heavily featured Magneto? Oh that's right, Fred Van Lente. All in all, there is no chance whatsoever that we're wrong about this.

So who else may join the team? Well obviously Amadeus Cho will be introduced, and then fought over between X-23, Armor, Pixie and Mercury. Then maybe one of The Winter Guard. And Thor. Those three seem like likely additions to this team of not-X-Men. Look out for Ursa Major and Wolfsbane to share a teaser image tomorrow.

Something about Financial Distribution

Marvel have announced that they are leaving Diamond Distribution and will instead be handled solely by the Hachette Book Group. Christ knows what that means. The switch will mean that Marvel sell more comics, somehow, but we don't understand anything about it. So here's a pretty picture of a Unicorn instead.

Imagine that the Unicorn is Marvel comics, frolicking merrily around the Americas (although Unicorns are, of course, native to Britain). The Unicorn stops to eat some delicious grass in a field. But then wait - there is more grass in the field next door. So the Unicorn goes off to that field and eats there instead. Also, there is a centaur.

(That's what we call a metaphor)

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Spider-Man cancelled; Spidey joining the X-Men

In a move which has stunned audiences on a global scales, not to mention Steve Wacker, Spider-Man's titles are all going to be cancelled permanantly as the character joins the X-Men and sets up shop on Cyclops' floating island home. Among the many series that will be immediately cancelled are 'Web Of Spider-Man' and 'Amazing Spider-Man', while the mysteries around OMD will all be left dangling for the indefinite future, as Spidey instead focuses on taking artful photos of Psylocke and working out how to swing around an island which has barely any skyscrapers. The decision, made by senior Marvel officials last night, was accompanied by the above image of Psylocke and Peter Parker bursting through an old Jim Lee cover for X-Men #1, and a short statement which says that more will be explained at the C2E2 Expo in a week's time. Obviously this is bad news for fans of Spider-Man, but good news for X-Men fans, who will likely see more titles be announced as a result - the first of which, Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine, has already been solicited for release.

What this means for the X-Men is unclear, although it seems highly likely that sales will soar and Spider-Man will be forced to quit The Avengers as a result. Whether this is all going to be a result of Second Coming, and gorgeous redhead Hope will marry Spider-Man after a whirlwind romance which sees him hit the jackpot... well, that's just speculation at the moment. But we're certain that it will happen. We'll offer a retrospective look back at Spider-Man over the decades next week, as we say 'RIP' to the series and 'Aloha' to Spider-Man the B-List X-Men character.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Chris Claremont Continues

After the mild failure of X-Men Forever, Marvel have announced that not only will the continuing series be getting a second volume, but Claremont will also pen a five issue miniseries: New Mutants Forever. This is in keeping with the magical contract that Mr C has with Marvel, sewn into the back of a Unicorn, which states that they must keep giving him new series to write about, no matter what he says about them or how low the standard of his pitch may be. Well okay, that's rather mean of us to say, but in the interviews promoting the series - which will likely make Zeb Wells true New Mutants series suffer in sales, through direct comeptition - he has been less than pleasant regarding his fellow writers. He goes so far as to say that he considers almost everything written after his tenure on the original series to be incorrect, and that he intends to 'correct' previous mistakes. At any rate, people still flock to his work in their droves, so the miniseries will probably do well. You can read his interview at CBR if you like.

It's rather disheartening, in our opinion, but we'll withhold judgement until the first issue comes out. The series will be boosted by the artwork of Al Rio and Bob McLeod, and begins in August.

Gorilla Man gets Miniseries

Ken Hale, the character who is also known as Gorilla Man becuase he is a man that is a gorilla, is the most prominent member of the Agents Of Atlas team by a country mile. And by that, we mean we can't name any of the other members of the Agents of Atlas. As a reward for being noticable, Marvel have decided to gift the character with a three issue miniseries, written by - who else? - Jeff Parker, the man who is responsible for turning the team into Marvel's third most important team, right after The Avengers and The X-Men. At least, if you pay attention to Marvel's output recently, that's what you'd think. The team have been all over the palce, turning up in two miniseries to fight both the teams listed above, as well as appearing in a back-up feature in 'Incredible Hercules' and guest starring in Thunderbolts for some reason. Marvel have decided that the team, which definitely has a gorilla in it as well as other characters, are going to become mainstays of their Universe.

The miniseries will go back and forward in time to tell parts of Gorilla Man's backstory - including how he came to be, y'know, a gorilla - and the cover has lots of women on it so maybe he'll be like James Bond or something. Who is the appalled-looking guy on the cover? Nobody knows. It's a massive secret. Or, he's a well-known character who has appeared frequently in Agents of Atlas in previous years. It's one of the three, but don't expect us to research it or anything. Anyway, there will also be a talking dragon in it, so that promises to be nice. And it's always good to see Jeff Parker not having to write stories about the Hulk.

So to summarise: miniseries about a gorilla person, three issues, will prominently feature both men and gorillas, and may have some of the Agents of Atlas in it. Perhaps the screaming bloke is a member of the team? Could be worth looking into, if our in-depth approach to reporting hasn't already sated your curiosity fully.

ComVan's 50th Post

Hurrah! We've lasted 50 posts. This puts ComVan one step closer to being an almost proper blog. Sadly, there aren't any news stories at the moment which we'd class as 'good news' and worthy of being post no 50, so instead here is a lovely montage of Boom Boom blowing things up.

How lovely.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Is 'the Death' the Only Reason to buy Second Coming?

Although the writers have insisted that the main reason to buy Second Coming is to find out the fate of Hope Summers, and to see what her powers are/if she's going to save or destroy the X-Men, the teasers and promotion thus far only seem interested in hyping up the 'big death' which will occur in part #5, X-Force's first issue of the mega-crossover. First we had a big teaser image which stated 'One Will Fall' and showed Cyclops looking into a large grave, at which point Marvel went overboard on mentioning the death at every point. A tie-in issue of Wolverine: Weapon X will focus heavily on the aftermath of the death, and 'RIP' variant covers are going to be released alongside the issue. On top of that, a short story was issued by Mike Carey and Stuart Immonen which almost solely fixated on the death and what it means to the various members of the X-Men. And now, a month before the death will be revealed, Marvel have another image to show you:

It's ludicrously obvious who will die, but we won't say anything yet in case you're still holding out hope for Iceman's death. At any rate, this promotion has served the purpose of completely overshadowing Hope's story - which was ostensibly meant to be the main reason people would pick up the series. Have Marvel now reached the point where the only way to boost sales is to hype up deaths? Siege #2 was marketed around the death of Ares, after all. This seems like a worrying indication that the comic-book market may well be stalling on tired legs. If it's impossible to sell a story to readers which is three years in the making, features all the famous X-Men, and some great writers... then how do Marvel intend to sell stories which don't have any of those things? Granted, nobody will ever admit to the existence of bad writers. But let's say a book is pitched by a new writer which features no big-name characters and doesn't have a flashy death to interest readers?

Seems a little disorientating, and surely it can't be long until death ceases to be a selling point, anyway - after Necrosha apparently resurrected several X-Men characters in one fell swoop, death has been weakened as a storytelling device even more than before. When the day comes that a big death means nothing to readers, what will Marvel do next?

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

X-Books to Gain Decent Artists Post-Second Coming

No slight intended, of course, but the X-Books finally seem destined to get some more consistent artists once Second Coming finishes. Whereas before we were in some kind of shiny spzz-world inhabited by models and airheads, come Uncanny X-Men #526 Whilce Portacio will be taking over on art duties for Marvel's flagship X-Men title. Firstly he will be drawing the Uncanny X-Men: The Heroic Age one-shot due out after Second Coming, before pencilling the arc immediately following the big X-Men event. The arc promises to see appearances from Kitty Pryde and Colossus, following on from his previous work on Uncanny X-Men #522, which saw Kitty return from her giant metal... bullet. This means that either Greg Land or Terry Dodson will likely be leaving the series, and moving on to other projects. At any rate, it'll be interesting to see where things are going with the series, which could do with a little boost after the floundering Nation X arc which saw the return of - ugh - Fantomex to the X-Men. We hate that little prat.

Meanwhile, Zeb Wells' New Mutants run, which has sadly yet to feature an issue where the mutants push Charles Xavier into a swimming pool, will benefit from the arrival of artist Leonard Kirk, whose art will grace the series for the indefinite future. Kirk, who you'll possibly know from somewhat sappy but frankly fun Captain Britain & MI:13 series, is excited to finally get to draw the most diverse team of X-Men, although he warns that some things may happen to some of the characters. Second Coming solicitations indicate that one or more of the New Mutants may not survive the event, but Kirk refuses to be drawn into revealing which one (Cypher) is going (be Cypher) to be killed (go on, get rid of Cypher). However, it appeas that 'something' visual will be appearing to Karma. Perhaps she'll start eating again? That was a seminal storyline for her, after all, and would send out the welcome message that fat people aren't entirely worthless when it comes to saving the World.

Although, frankly, we'd rather have a thin person do it. Standards, y'know? Here's a preview!!

Jonathan Hickman threatens Fantastic Four

An enigmatic riddle has been passed on by Marvel in reference to issue #578 of Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four, hinting that something fatal may be on the horizon for the boring but fascinating team. Hickman's work on the series has managed to gloss over the fact that all the Fantastic Four are dull as a patch of especially boggy marshland, instead focusing on incredibly intellectual concepts which have all-but-confounded us here at the Comics Vanguard team. We're not particularly intelligent, despite our claims to the latter, and reading any single issue of Fantastic Four currently sends us running to Wikipedia about twice a page. Which, really, is the very definition of value-for-money, as each issue takes two hours to read. Which is what you want, right? Under Hickman's steady hand, even Th Thing has become a verbose spouter of philosophical thought: offering several allegorical calls for clobbering which has shunted our previously-stable knoweledge of theoretical physics into a new dimension, pardon the pun ha-ha.

The teaser, which reveals a page of Dale Eaglesham's (great name: he must've been christened by Rob Liefeld) art from the issue, states "HERE, YOU DIE. IN THE NEGATIVE ZONE, YOU CAN LIVE". What does it mean? Well, the cover from the issue, lovingly plastered above, shows that Annihilus seems set to return to menace the team, with Sue Storm noticably absent. Is she going to be the victim? Or - and this is our miserable prediction, gained without any knowledge of quantum mechanics - is this all a swerve? Could the suddenly-ripped Reed Richards be saying this to Annihilus? Or, maybe something entirely different will happen. At any rate, the preview page seems to show Johnny Storm being chased about by some giant wasps, so that's jolly nice.

Monday, 5 April 2010

British Actors Refuse to be in Captain America

This is the point where Comics Vanguard trades in gossip, so apologies in advance! Hey, the majority of Marvel are involved in WonderCon 2010, and they aren't revealing anything in particular at the moment. So, frankly, you should feel lucky to get any of this. It's emerged that Emily Blunt has turned down a role in Captain America, the newest film to be announced by Marvel. As previously announced, Chris Evans will be playing Steve Rogers in the movie, which looks to ruin the previously critically-adored Fantastic Four series by complicating the continuity for all bur the most disinterested of Fantastic Four fans. He played Johnny Storm in them, y'see, so now he's appearing in Captain America what does that make him? We're hoping he'll be renamed Storm Johnny Rogers, because it sounds like a kind of condom and that's our level of humour.
Anyway, Emily Blunt will not be appearing in the film, which is most likely because she is British, and the whole thing sounds absurd. We don't have this patriotic view of the World that America does, so when we hear a character called "Captain America"(or Captain Britain, for that matter), our first instinct is to snicker as we puff on a fag. "Captain America? Is it ironic?" we ask. And then, when told that it's played deadly seriously, we grow weary of the American impudence and wander off into a lift and listen to some Paloma Faith records. Basically, Emily Blunt has declined to appear in the film, is the basis of this update.
Oh, and a man called Sebastian Stan (perhaps he was named by Stan Lee) has signed on to play Bucky. Exciting!! Sort of.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Not an April Fools Joke

Bugger-all has happened this week in the World of Marvel, apart from the end of blah minivent Necrosha over in the pages of X-Force, which signals the beginning of the end for the current creative team and start of a brand new era. Well, once Second Coming finishes, at least. Apart from that, nothing in particular has happened. There've been a few interviews, but we're at that stage where nothing new is really being announced - likely because convention season is scant months away, and Marvel still can't reveal anything due to the nature of their event-driven scheduling. The Avengers are all stuck in Siege and we can't say anything about them until it finishes, while the X-Men are about to get stuck into Second Coming for a few months, and the Cosmic books are due to enter a new Thanos event anytime now. So, not much to talk about, while we wait for something of note to happen in any of those titles.

In lieu of anything to actually tell you about, let's deal with one of the other events going on at the moment. No, not Doomwar! We don't care less about it, humanitarian and partial ghost though Jonathan Maberry may be. No, we're going to look at the Hulk books, which should give you some indication of slow this past week has really been. The Hulk books are dealing with something called 'Fall of The Hulks' at the moment, which will lead into 'World War Hulks'. Next week will come the release of a one-shot issue regarding the event - let's take a look at it in thorough detail, sentence-by-sentence.

After the jaw-dropping conclusion of FALL OF THE HULKS, secrets, mysteries and surprises galore are revealed

The conclusion to Fall of the Hulks was - spoiler! - something to do with all the superheroes being given Hulk powers. So we have super-superpowered Storm and the X-Men, and Avengers, and they have lots of muscles and rage and they scream and look at all their veins. The Fall of the Hulks storyline had someting to do with a cabal of super-intelligent villains teaming up to defeat Hulk, as presumably it takes a lot of hard work to defeat an big green idiot who usually lives on another planet. Their plan created a 'red' Hulk, which proved to be the most bodacious character in Marvel history. As memory serves, he once surfed around Earth on the Silver Surfer's board, whilst wielding Thor's hammer. It was... bad.

in this giant-sized, bone-crushing, gamma-irradiated special featuring key players of the biggest Hulk-saga ever told: A-BOMB, COSMIC HULK, RED SHE-HULK, DOC SAMSON and DEADPOOL!

Excited? Surely this lineup of characters is going to explode the traditional way that we view the comic book genre and revolutionise our lives forever. A-Bomb is Rick Jones alter-ego, a big blue armadillo who must have access to explosive or something. Cosmic Hulk we have no idea about, although Red She-Hulk we have heard of before. She's the female version of the Red She-Hulk, and she broke the real She-Hulk's back. Or maybe someone else did. Maybe she is the She-Hulk and she paints herself. Who knows. Doc Samson may seem like a good character, after his past appearances in X-Factor and Thunderbolts, but don't be fooled: he's gone mental for no apparent reason and now smashes things for no apparent reason. He's entered all this for no apparent reason. Oh, and finally - Deadpool. Currently appearing in at least two other crossovers at the moment, Deadpool is every awful fratboy character you've ever seen in a film/real life crammed inside a red suit, and given brain trauma. He's appearing in this, continuing his streak of mystifying popularity.

What is the heart-breaking decision that Rick Jones must make?

We have no idea what this is referring to. He'll probably have to punch something.

Is there a hero left in the dark abyss of Leonard Samson’s distorted mind?

Pointing out that one of the characters may well become a deus ex-machina does not reduce the fact that he is a deus ex-machina.

Whose appearance will shock the wild Red She-Hulk to her core?

Perhaps we're going to get Red She-Hulk's backstory? She's probably Thundra, btw.

Can an ancient alien technology spell certain apocalypse to the world?

Doubtful, Second Coming still has twelve more weeks before it finishes, and it'd be a bit of a bummer if the Heroic Age started just as the Earth got blown up.

Don’t miss out on this essential assembly of startling secrets in one of the greatest conspiracies in the history of the Marvel Universe!!!

Are you excited as we are? We hope so much that an interesting character appears or gets killed or something next week, because otherwise we're going to have to review this anthology.