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With the summer crossover event Avengers vs. X-Men picking up steam into its second act, fans have been speculating what the post- AvX Marvel universe will look like. Marvel had been promising for months that they’ll be some big changes to the status quo and this week, scope of their plans came into light with the announcement of October's Marvel NOW! initiative via Entertainment Weekly 's Comic-Con themed issue.
Marvel NOW! has been promised as a new publishing initiative – a giant shake-up of the Marvel universe. We’re talking new titles, new creative teams, new costumes, and incentives for digital downloads and even some new secret identities. In short, Marvel NOW! will be a complete overhaul to the Marvel Universe.
But the bods at Marvel are stressing that you DON’T call it a reboot, or their answer to DC’s New 52. Marvel is keen to stress that is part of its new "ReEvolution" movement. While there will be a number of new titles, rather than launch them all at the same time, they’ll start rolling out in October this year and will continue launching until February 2013
So what new books can we expect and what can we speculate from them?
Uncanny Avengers #1 by Rick Remender %26 John Cassaday (October)
The book stars a team comprising both Avengers and X-Men including Captain America and Wolverine ( read about the full line-up here ) on a mission to find the Red Skull, who's on a mission to eliminate mutants once and for all.
With the book containing a COMBINED the Avengers and the X-Men so soon after they were at each other’s throats in AvX, I think the endgame of AvX might see a return to power of the mutant race. Might we see the effects of “No More Mutant.” be reversed, causing the Red Skull to take action?
Speaking of the Red Skull, Remender is promising us “Prime Nazi scumbag” – a throwback version of the Nazi villain. "In 1943, Arnim Zola, who was this bio-fanatic engineer, recorded the Red Skull’s consciousness, and set it to wake up 70 years later. So the Red Skull [in 'Uncanny'] is right out of 1943-44.. In his mind, he’s taking that vitriol and hate and Nazi horror and methodology, and pointing it at the mutant species."
Given that Remender currently writes one Avengers book in Secret Avengers and one X book in Uncanny X-Force (featuring the best comic book arc I have ever read in the “Dark Angel Saga”) this book seems like a natural fit for the incredibly talented scribe. Expect a dark, bloody book that’ll no doubt be brilliant.
All New X-Men #1 by Brian Michael Bendis & Stuart Immonen (November)
This is the book that interests me the most. Before the announcement was made, a still of Jean Grey in her “First Class” costume was leaked, leading to Twitter speculation that the endgame of AvX might see the return of Jean Grey for the first time since her death during Grant Morrison’s run on New-X-Men way back in 2004. (Eight years dead in comic books is positively ages!)
Bendis has promised us this is real Jean Grey explaining, "It’s the one thing X-Men fans have always asked for is: they want Jean Grey back. But they want Jean Grey. Not reincarnated Jean, or the ghost of Jean. Well, you’re getting Jean back. And Jean is gonna be looking at a world that rattles her."
The image has now been revealed to be from this book, where the original five X-Men from the ’60s (Jean Grey, Cyclops, Iceman, Beast and Angel) show up in the present and realize that the future they see isn't the one that they want. Bendis made it clear that it wasn't a Back To The Future time travel story that was heavy on the sci-fi element, instead focussing on the character drama this situation would create. Bendis has gone on record to say, “It's a time-travel story like Pleasantville ," adding, "Here's the big question that the original X-Men are gonna be faced with: ‘We're gonna grow up, and this is what we're going to get? That is not acceptable.’”
I’ll be really interested to see how First Class Jean (possibly Cyclops) interacts with a post AvX Scott Summers. In recent years, Cyclops has been treading a very thin line between Xavier’s dream for peace and Magneto’s methods. A horrified Jean’s reaction at what Scott’s become could be fantastic.
Avengers #1 by Jonathan Hickman & Jerome Opena (December)
Described as an Avengers book for the 21st century, Hickman’s book will expand the roster to "18 or more" members from all walks of the Marvel Universe.
If there’s anyone out there capable of pulling off a team book with 18 characters, it’ll be Hickman. His run on Fantastic Four / Future Foundation was absolutely EPIC in scope so one can only wonder what he has in store for the Avengers now. Knowing him, those 18 members probably only include the main, “good” 616 versions – expect time travel, parallel worlds and general cliché-smashing goodness.
We’ve also been promised a few secrets embedded in that new Marvel Now! Poster. Joe Quesada commented on his image featuring the redesigned Marvel heroes, saying, "There’s a reason Sue Storm is there. And why there’s a floating robot near Hulk. We’re trying a lot of fun and new different things, we’re exposing characters who we’ve had in our toy chest for a long time."
Getting my geek magnifying glass out there are a couple of things that grab my interest:
Spider-Man’s suit has been redesigned! With 2012 being the 50 th anniversary of Spider-Man, current Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott has been promising us that the events of ASM #700 will, “Spilt the internet in two.” We already know that Spider-Man will be getting himself a teen sidekick this year in the form of a new character called “Alpha” – might it be him wearing the suit instead of Parker?
Nick Fury Jnr is there! In a spin-off from last year’s cross over event Fear Itself , it was revealed that Nick Fury had sired an illegitimate African American son (who looks the spitting image of Samuel L Jackson, funny that). Given the success of Avengers Assemble and seeing Agent Coulson has also made the leap from screen to print, might we see a new Fury Jnr focus to S.H.I.E.L.D adventures?
Iron Man, Captain America and Cyclops have undergone some costume redesigns. Iron Man’s in particular looks interesting. Tony Stark received an Asgardian upgrade from Odin to his armour following Fear Itself , might we be seeing a Phoenix Force powered suit here?
And finally, Nova and Rocket Racoon are here! Firstly, anything with Rocket Racoon is instant win. Secondly, given the rumours rumbling over a Guardians of the Galaxy film, might we see Marvel increasing the number of its cosmic level adventures soon?
That’s all I can surmise for now, remember to sound off in the comments below. What do you think of the plans in Marvel Now! and what do you think will happen within the stories?