Monday, 28 February 2011

Is This What You Want?

We're seriously starting to turn against Fear Itself, and Marvel haven't even released a preview of the prologue yet. This is the cover for issue #2. It's up to you to prove us wrong here, Marvel!

Marvel Release a First-Look at Bendis & Maleev's 'Moon Knight'

Although we're still not jazzed on the pitch Bendis has given for this series, at least Alex Maleev's art is always worth staring at. For hours on end. No time for food. Or drink. Or sleep. Just staring.

The images below show that perhaps our fears are only a little justified. While there is an appearance from Wolverine, Captain America and Spider-Man - people who should rarely, if ever, interact with Moon Knight - anda lot of short panels which suggest some quick-fire banter which again, should never appear in Moon Knight's life... we do get a lot of grimy nastiness here, which fits into the tone of the character rather effectively. There's some mutilation and dead bodies, the statue of Khonshu has returned, and that woman looks reassuringly familar. Will Frenchie return too? Will this series be great, or terrible? We can't answer these questions for you. All we can do is stare.

Infested? Spider-Island? Spider-Man teases the next year

We'll see Spider-Man join the Fantastic Four soon, you know. He's going to have a white costume and everything. Then he's going over to the Avengers Academy with Christos Gage, to give the kids there a few lessons (probably about power and responsibility). But before we get to any of that, Dan Slott first has a few plans for the character himself. The first of which, a series of short stories which have the banner title of "Infected", has a teaser image out now which looks an awful lot like this:

Infested will take up the back-up pages of Amazing Spider-Man for a few weeks in the future, and although we don't know what it means, things don't seem to look good for Anti-Venom. We think he may be a feature-character in the stories, but we can't say anything for sure yet. It also looks like Spider-Girl will tie in to this, possibly through a cameo but more likely through tie-in issues of her own ongoing series, by Paul Tobin.

After Infested finishes, we're apparently heading for a major storyline called "Spider-Island". Again, what could it mean? We do not know. We can't sense things like Spider-Man can, y'know. We don't have his Spidey-Sens-- oh wait. He's lost WHAT?

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Comics Vanguard WORLD EXCLUSIVE: We Know Who'll Be Writing New Mutants!

A lot of blogs have their own covert team of secret agents, who drop down the chimneys of Tom Brevoort's house while he sleeps in order to look at his Blackberry. Comics Vanguard are not that kind of site, but once or twice? Well, once or twice we manage to scoop the entire world with a news story. We don't usually post on a Sunday because it's the day of rest, also because we're lazy, but this here news is too important to be ignored till Monday. The following image is posted for dramatic effect, and is an old teaser by Diogenes Neves.

The new creative team on New Mutants, starting with issue #25, will be Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and artist Leandro Fernandez.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is 11:00 on Sunday 27th February, 2011. And Comics Vanguard just SCOOPED Y'ALL!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

An Important Page: Korvac Returns

Michael Korvac is back! As are we, after a week off from writing convoluted sentences. Hello, loves.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

News which is unrelated to Fear Itse- no wait this is connected to Fear Itself

Oh, but we thought we were onto something there. A dazzling expose which revealed a new maxiseries Marvel had confirmed, which would showcase some of their most loved but least published characters, free of the Fear Itself logo or marketing. But no, those hopes have been dashed. Instead, we can only offer you a slightly dazzling expose which does indeed confirm a maxiseries featuring some of Marvel's most popular but unused characters. "Who are these characters you speak of, ComVan?!" You yell, for you come to our website before you visit CBR or Newsarama or ComicsAlliance or heck even IGN (do their images EVER show up?) Those characters, devoted and loyal reader, are Alpha Flight.

Their return happened in Chaos War, the start of which saw all the characters unite, even the dead ones, and the finish of which kept every single member alive. Even Marrina, and we thought nobody liked her. This means that Northstar is going to leave the X-Men to rejoin his home team, while Aurora will leave Limbo and maybe even Puck could escape Hell at some point and join in. Although the last aprt is unlikely. The creators of Chaos War are the people who will write this maxi-series, eight issues long. Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente are your writers here, joined by Dale Eaglesham, a native Canadian himself who appears utterly thrilled with his assignment. There will be a Point One issue before the series itself starts, presumably to catch new readers up on the long history of the Canadian Superteam - Ben Oliver will provide pencils for that story.

And what will the story be? Well, it's tying in to Fear Itself. Just like every single other Marvel comic this Summer (seriously - check the May solicits). Fear is going to make the Canadian Government turn on their own superheroes, leaving Alpha Flight branded as traitors to their own country. How will the Flight respond to this? If we could think of something stereotypically Canadian at this point, we would end on it. Something about hosting a successful Winter Olympics, perhaps? We really need to learn more about what Canada is.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Seriously you guys what the hell is going on with Fear Itself

The Amazing Spider-Man

The Marc Webber-helmed reboot of the Spider-Man series starring Andrew Garfield has been given an official title. The Amazing Spider-Man will be released in 2012, and to celebrate let's have a look at a picture of what Spidey looks like.

Monday, 14 February 2011

The Astonishing X-Men Split Up

So it was announced that Daniel Way would be writing Astonishing X-Men after Warren Ellis' final storyline somwhat limps to conclusion. However, his choice of team surprised a lot of people, as Storm was dropped and there seemed to be a feeling of something 'missing' from the cast. Well, that's all been explained by the solicitation for May's issue, which is by a different creative team and features a completely different cast. Astonishing X-Men #38 will be written by Christos Gage and drawn by Juan Bobillo, and here's the cast:

Agent Brand, Lockheed, Beast (?!), Colossus, Kitty Pryde and Storm! So while Daniel Way and Jason Pearson make the X-Men fight monsters, Gage and Bobillo will be making the fight into X-Men vs Aliens. The Brood, in fact. For the first time, Astonishing X-Men is going to be a part of regular continuity, and affect other books in real time. This also makes sense in context to another piece of news, which will be revealed above in a few minutes time.

So now Astonishing X-Men looks not so worrying anymore! Hurray! Maybe people will start buying it again.

Fear Itself Update:

Fear Itself still makes no goddamn sense.

Magneto, Xavier, Cyclops and Wolverine Take Charge

There was debate on several websites about this, but recently Marvel have confirmed that Paul Jenkins is writing a miniseries this Summer which will split apart and massively affect the X-Men franchise. X-Men: Prelude will last four issues, with each one focusing on a different character - Cyclops, Wolverine, Magneto and Xavier. Each issue has a different artist, and it seems that this is going to take the books into four different directions. While Astonishing X-Men will keep a united front, as seen below, it looks increasingly likely that each of the four characters listed above are going to take over one of the existing books and become the feature. So, for example, Wolverine will lead Uncanny X-Force, Cyclops will likely stay on Uncanny X-Men, but it seems that Xavier or Magneto will take over New Mutants and Mike Carey's X-Men Legacy will focus on whichever character is left.

This is all speculation, but it seems like the X-Men are going to split in four after this miniseries, and the titles will stay apart for the next few years (possibly reforming in 2013, the 50th anniversary of the X-Men's first issue and rumoured Jean Grey resurrection time). These four issues are likely going to be rather wordy, and personally we're not too certain this is looking good - but we'll just have to wait and see. Issues #1 and #2 of prelude come out in May.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Chris Yost Scares Spider-Man

Spider-Man is the first character to gain a miniseries which ties in to Matt Fraction's increasingly-imminent 'Fear Itself' storyline, with Chris Yost set to make the wall-crawler's life a misery for three issues starting in May. It appears that Fear Itself is going to isolate all the heroes, and in Spider-Man's case that means he'll be left as the lone defender of New York - so what kind of things should we expect Yost to throw at Parker? Well, looking at the cover it looks like a lot of dead people may show up to give him a hard time, which would suggest Stacys Gwen and Captain, and perhaps Jean DeWolfe. Really, though, it's all up in the air. Fear Itself remains the least-explained storyline in Marvel history, and until we find out anything about Matt Fraction's plans, it's going to be impossible to second-guess what Chris Yost and Mike McKone (for it will be he) are going to do in this miniseries. At least we know the release date! If nothing else.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

So What's FF All About?

Finally we've got more information on Jonathan Hickman's relaunch of the Fantastic Four title as 'FF', and it turns out that the new title stands for Future Foundation, as many people had already guessed. With - sorry, but this is a spoiler we have to mention - Johnny Storm apparently dead, the Fantastic Four are no more and the title is instead going to explore the insititute that Reed Richards has been setting up recently, the Future Foundation where intelligent pupils are brought to study in the hope that their intellect will help solve some of the most complicated problems in the World. This means that the student characters - Artie, some of the Power Pack - are going to be taking more of a part in the series, but it also calls for a change of uniform.

And an extra member of staff, as you may have noticed. Spider-Man is going to step in and honour his fallen best friend by joining the series. It's likely that this is going to be more about Peter Parker teaching the students and using his mind to solve problems, than about him swinging around and punching things. Of course it doesn't hurt matters that he's one of Marvel's most popular characters, and the series could probably do with a little boost now it doesn't have the iconic title anymore. More and more, this series is starting to seem like some of Jonathan Hickman's best work, and the potential for mind bending time-travel, science, and space travelling seems immense.


The 'Game On!' storyline which was due to take place in annuals for Squirrel Girl, Avengers Academy and the Young Allies has been consolidated into a single issue of Avengers Academy, which will be called 'Giant Size Avengers Academy #1'. The creative team will remain Paul Tobin and David Baldeon, but it seems that with the cancellation of Young Allies there was no point anymore in releasing an annual for them. By changing it to an Avengers Academy issue, which is by far the more popular of the three different series, Marvel will probably get more sales. With Onslaught Unleashed coming this month, and concluding in three months' time, it looks like this will be the final hurrah of the Young Allies. The issue, which will contain 80+ pages of material, is priced at something like $7.99 in America, which probably translates to about £6 or something in Britain. It comes out in May.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Minority Report: How Are Marvel Treating Women Today?

There’s no news coming in at the moment, although we expect there to be some kind of enigmatic teaser about Squirrel Girl popping up online any minute now. So, we decided we’d fill the silence with a look at something which gets a lot of people real fired up – the treatment of minority characters in comic books. The first fight to become public was the fight for female equality in comics. Sure the golden age of comics had Wonder Woman headlining her own series, but by the admission of her creator she was mainly used as fetish dressing to dig in to the ‘can’t get a date’ demographic. She would usually appear on the cover in some kind of captivity, being controlled by men. It took a while before this became about empowerment, and over the past twenty, thirty years we’ve seen comics struggle with enjoying Frank Miller’s comics while simultaneously rejecting them as a way to portray women (and seriously, did you SEE “The Spirit”? Terrible film) and then struggling to embrace female characters like Storm or Ms Marvel (who once got raped by a guy who was then born through her or something, and Captain America didn’t bat an eyelid. Comics are strange). And recently, we’ve been struggling with the idea of giving female characters solo series without objectifying them.

So it’s been difficult for female characters, especially at Marvel where almost all the strongest characters are part of that single group, the X-Men. If you were to name five famous comic book characters from Marvel, the likelihood is that you’re going to come up with five characters who all appear in the X-Men titles – Jean Grey, Rogue, Storm, Psylocke, Dazzler and Emma Frost, for example. So whenever Marvel decide to try and appeal to female readers with a solo title starring one of their most famous characters, they come up with the problem that almost all the X-Men characters have long, complicated backstories. You can’t put Psylocke in a solo book and then ignore the fact that she’s in a fake body and her eyes were once made of computers and maybe she isn’t even a mutant and once she was a supermodel and she spent two years hopping through dimensions with a male version of Mystique. Cram all that into the story, and then try to get something else to happen besides! It’s also difficult to have them appear in a story without bringing in other X-Men – Pixie Strikes Back springs to mind, as well as the recent Storm miniseries, ‘World’s Apart’.

That story was written by Chris Yost, who incidentally tends to write many of the female-led miniseries that Marvel publish. In his Storm and Psylocke miniseries, as well as arguably the ‘X-Force: Sex and Violence’ mini which featured Domino as the main character, the primary force of the stories was violence. In order for Psylocke to come through as a person, she has to kill a man who has treated her badly in the past. In order for Storm to balance her roles with the X-Men and in Wakanda, she has to defeat both Black Panther and Cyclops in combat. Without defeating men and proving themselves to be their equal, female characters sometimes struggle to be seen as independent. However, does the situation change when a female writer writes female characters?

Marjorie Liu and Kathryn Immonen are probably the two highest-profile female writers with Marvel at the moment (Gail Simone working for DC and all), and both have made their mark by writing female characters. Liu is noted for her work with Black Widow and X-23, while Immonen has done a few team books like Runaways or Heralds, in which the main characters are women. Here we see stories which have a different tone and style to those written by men, but with many of the same themes repeated. The main difference that I see is that the characters tend to use their brains so much as they use their brawns, to defeat their opponents and close out each story arc. While Psylocke had to kill someone to show herself as independent and free, Pixie simply outthinks her opponent in Pixie Strikes Back.

It seems that female characters in comics are in some trouble at the moment. Many have been written out recently, with Wasp seemingly dead, Scarlet Witch driven mad, and She-Hulk, Ms Marvel and Mockingbird all losing their headlining series. But just because the A-List characters are thinned out somewhat, people tend to make the assumption that Marvel is inherently misogynistic, as is the comics industry in general. Look at the B-list characters, though, and you see a different story. Although dead, Jean Grey’s presence resonates throughout all the X-Men comics from time to time, while X-23 maintains her own series and X-Factor have a strong cast of females who are probably the most popular characters in the book. Avengers Academy have recently devoted an issue to dealing with a particularly badly-planned storyline written a few years ago in which the character Tigra was attacked and victimised by a group of male villains. The writer of that series, Christos Gage, has taken a storyline many thought to be in rather bad taste and given the character an arc in which she can prove herself stronger than those who attacked her, turning an assault theme into a bullying theme. Instead of being a victim of assault, Tigra has instead been turned into a heroic figure who – having defeated those who attacked her – gives them leniency and sends them to jail. No revenge fantasies are brought into play, which could have given the title an unpleasant B-Movie feel.

The Avengers have female characters, with Jessica Jones essentially taking over the cast of New Avengers while Allan Heinberg attempts to rewrite Scarlet Witch into continuity in ‘The Children’s Crusade’. Amazing Spider-Man in particular showcases a powerful array of female characters (if you ignore Carlie Cooper, who we just aren’t that fond of), each of whom have a distinct personality which typically overshadows Peter Parker himself. It’s no coincidence that Spider-Man is currently being written by Dan Slott, whose previous work with a She-Hulk series were lauded by all quarters. In fact, while female writers are starting to work their way into Marvel – see the recent ‘Women of Marvel’ initiative – the female characters are playing more of an equal role in the comics themselves. Kieron Gillen’s work with Dazzler led to him getting Generation Hope, in which he has pitted Rogue and Hope Summers together as the leaders while Cyclops and Wolverine have to be rescued from trouble. And, Hope doesn’t have to resort to violence in order to save the day – again, thinking is placed ahead of violence.

It’s not a sexist ideal to portray women as thinkers instead of fighters. In comics themselves, think of how characters like Cyclops or Captain America or Iron Man are positioned: they are tacticians first, and fighters second. To have female characters who can think on the same level as these male characters shows progression, even if sometimes writers lose track of themselves. Civil War would be a good example of that, where a hysterical female character (Maria Hill) sparks off the entire battle. Some writers are not very good for empowerment, it has to be said. But more and more, Marvel are pushing forward with female characters and female equality. Ultimate Spider-Man, one of the most acclaimed series of all time, sees Brian Michael Bendis give careful attention to a variety of female characters. Warren Ellis turned characters like Moonstone and Songbird into contemporary women, who are morally conflicted just as everyone else. We’ve even got a series of female Hulk characters, all of whom are different… in colour, as well as personality. The younger generation of characters are being pushed, with more diversity at the core of their creation. Black, Hispanic, Asian female characters all exist now, and are being pushed to different extents. Spider-Girl is half Mexican and half Puerto Rican, for example, while Brian K Vaughan created the Asian-American Nico and homosexual Karolina as members of his Runaways cast.

So while Marvel do still have problems they have to work out – their demographics being one of them – it could easily be seen that their overall progress is looking good. The more Marvel can make female-based comics a mainstay, the more readers will come to accept them as such. Female Black Panther? Well, Black Panther has always been male! But in time, the character develops, and people start to embrace it more. It’s not pushing T’Challa to one side when he has his own title, so why not give it a try? It’s heartening to see a variety of different writers – male, female – want to pitch and create new female characters, while refining and rehabilitating those who have been left in limbo for years and years. As far as Marvel’s treatment of women in concerned? Progressive, would be my final analysis.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

So it looks like Fear Itself was a monster created by Red Skull during WWII that has come back to life

The one-shot "Fear Itself: Book of the Skull" comes out on March 16th, and will be the prologue for Matt Fraction's Fear Itself event. Written by Ed Brubaker and drawn by Scot Eaton, the issue is being teased by Marvel as an explanation for what is going to happen over the next six or so months. However, the teaser image that has just been released isn't particularly subtle about explaining what we're going to see shortly. Our title more or less sums up the teaser, which looks like this:

The image shows that The Invaders look set to play a part in the storyline, particularly Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, and Namor (possibly The Human Torch) andthat Sin/Baron Zemo are working together as the conductors of the event. It appears that their monster is going to be unleashed on Earth's heroes, leading to a series of tie-in stories where Cyclops fights a disapproving Jean Grey, Spider-Man talks to Gwen Stacey, etc etc.

We could be wrong, of course, but when have we ever been wrong?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Marjorie Liu and Daniel Way Leave Dark Wolverine :(

In an interview with comicbookresources, the writing team of Daniel Way and Marjorie Liu (or to use their full names, Daniel K. Way and Marjorie M. Liu) have announced that they will both be leaving the series at the climax of the crossover event called 'Collision'. Collision sees Wolverine's 'children' Daken and Laura 'X-23' Kinney fight each other, then possibly make an alliance, then possibly fight some more afterwards. And it will be the last story the duo tell with Daken, although Liu will be staying on the X-23 ongoing series.

Sad times.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Red Hulk to Fight Robots, Gremlins, Robots with Boobs

The above image by Ed McGuinness (who was also resonsible for the 'Death of Spider-Man' cover you cans ee below) reveals the new cast of villains created by writer Jeff Parker and artist Gabriel Hardman for the ongoing Hulk series, which still focuses on the exploits of Red Hulk, General Ross. As you can see from the picture, the characters are set to debut in January's .1 issue, before taking a shot at Rulk in the issues to come. Let's take a look at these four.

The first one in the top left appears to be the only non-robotic one. If we're being honest, it looks like a werewolf Doctor Doom with a gremlin face, and vampire teeth. Let's call him Gary. Gary the Grempirewolf. He doesn't look too imposing at the moment, so we'll have to wait and see what he's like.

The Robot Woman seems like she should've been drawn by Frank Cho, what with those very distracting boobs what she has. Her arm appears to have morphed into a gun to shoot Rulk with, which makes it seem that she will be like the female Terminator from the average Terminator 3 movie. Or to make a better comparison in Marvel terms, the female Ultron who appeared in Brian Michael Bendis' Mighty Avengers run.

The other two are both people in robot suits. These characters are usually fun but anonymous, which makes it a smart move to put one of them in a 'cockpit' window so we can see their face. This guy, Barry, is holding a radio in one hand, so it's a sure bet that he's either calling in for backup from the rest of a similarly-armoured outfit, or from the army. He is probably a morally right character who is getting way too angry in pursuit of a defeated Rulk. The big shiny guy at the top? Anyone's guess. It could be a boy or a girl, or a CENTAUR.

Fingers crossed that it's a robotic centaur.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Who Are The Mystery Men?

Marvel have unveiled (positively unleashed) a new teaser campaign at us, centred for the time being around the anonymous figures known as 'the Mystery Men'. These characters may well be new to Marvel, or old characters reinvented for some reason. They could be alt-universe, Crossgen, or have a connection to the 'real' 616 Universe. Heck, they could be the new Ultimates for all we know. But for the time being, all Marvel are willing to show us is this one picture.

Solicits aren't coming for a good few weeks, so the only way we'll be able to find out more is if this is one of Marvel's 'week-day campaigns', with new images every day this week. As it stands, this is all very mysterious and there's no way we can even begin to guess what's going on.