EDITORIAL: What's New About Marvel NOW!
Marvel Comics just recently announced their "Universe Shifting" event starting in October 2012. But is it going to live up to expectations?
After an official press release announcing Marvel NOW! in early July, Marvel.com gave us some insight to their upcoming plans for the end of the year. If you thought Avengers vs. X-Men was big, you were wrong; what happens afterward is now becoming the true draw of attention.
With a quick perspective, here's the facts: After the Avengers vs. X-Men event concludes, Marvel NOW! goes into full effect. From October 2012 to February 2013, there will be new #1 releases, starting with Uncanny Avengers #1. A character (possibly more) will die; there will be costume changes, new alliances, and according to Marvel Chief Creative Officer, Joe Quesada:
"Marvel NOW! is the next step in Marvel story evolution and character evolution. It’s not a reboot. It is a universe-shifting catch-all."
Why did Mr. Quesada say that? Because last year, DC Comics had their Flashpoint - a Universe-Shifting event of their own - which started The New 52 in August 2011. For the next few weeks, DC successfully flooded the market with 52 issue #1 titles. It's very likely Marvel doesn't want to clone the attempt, and they've even gone as far as suggesting that it won't remove or negate history.
One thing is clear, though: it's about keeping the current readers and drawing in the new ones. That makes perfect sense and there's nothing wrong about trying to please your audience.
So now we've been given the basics; the question we'll be wondering about for the next few months is whether it can live up to our standards. Without prying judgement - it's obviously too early to make an informed decision without more details - here's some interesting points:
- This has similarities to the Fear Itself/Shattered Heroes chronology. Back in 2011, when the Asgardian All-Father of Fear destroyed Washington, Marvel ignited an event aftermath focused on The Avengers, including Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America. In a like fashion, this is also an aftermath, and it looks like this formula (just like DC's Flashpoint/New 52) is now a conventional standard in comic books.
- Sometimes "New" isn't so new. Okay, so Uncanny Avengers #1 will herald the conclusion of Avengers vs. X-Men. In more ways than one, this seems the next plausible phase. But there's already Secret Avengers, New Avengers, Dark Avengers, and regular Avengers, and they already have mutants on their teams. What's so new about Uncanny Avengers? It seems like their mission is the only thing setting them apart: to handle human-mutant threats. But hey, diversifying seems to work (it's working for the Justice League).
- We love them, but Spider-Man, The Avengers, and The X-Men are getting old. The Comic Book characters we've been following for the past years...we've been following for the past 40 and 50 years. Sounds redundant, right? Well, that's the problem. Marvel and DC are trying to freshen up their franchises and bring them into our century with the latest tech and culture.
- It's not a reboot, but it is. Hard or soft, the term is basically slang anyway. Whenever a Comic Book publisher remakes the characters (world, universe, et al.), it's a reboot. Marvel is trying to stay away from it and the important concern is that all those years of superhero history are gone. There's nothing to worry about, though. It will succeed, or not, based on its own merits.
- The process is cyclical. This is only a temporary fix; it will happen again. Everyone knows it and we're not sure how to solve the cryptic puzzle. How do you keep these franchises going without ruining their history? If you kill them off, you lose their market. And it looks like the current technique is to try and introduce new characters at the same time, ones that will hopefully gain an audience. (Wolverine and Deadpool are examples of later generational characters.)
In summary and as you can tell, Marvel NOW! is going to an event with heavy implications. It will spark lots of conversation as the rumors, spoilers, and artwork begins to trickle down with the countdown to October.
For those of us who enjoy shaking things up, it'll be exciting to see what's new. We like change. But then again, we also like our favorites. Some of us are still dealing with Spider-Man's mechanical web-shooters turning into natural spinnerets. Heck, there are people still angry that Captain America's shield was broken last year. (It was reforged.)
So be kind, Marvel. The seat-belts are fastened and we're shifting into second gear. Now...how fast does this ride go?
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