Unstoppable or Unworthy: The Comics Alliance Marvel NOW 2016 Roundtable
Marvel’s next big line launch was formally unveiled this week via a special edition of Marvel Previews, including new #1s for Avengers, Venom, Captain Marvel, and Star-Lord, new launches for Champions, Jessica Jones, Kingpin, Bullseye, Slapstick, and Solo, and new concepts in Occupy Avengers, Iron Fists, Mosaic, Infamous Iron Man, and Unstoppable Wasp.
Following our roundtable discussion of DC Rebirth, the ComicsAlliance team got together to break down the highs and lows of the new Marvel NOW. Join Elle Collins, James Leask, Katie Schenkel, Kieran Shiach, and Andrew Wheeler as they pick out the books they’re most excited about and the books they’re concerned about, and discuss Marvel’s approach to legacy heroes and the state of diversity at Marvel today.
Andrew: Let’s start with some positives. What’s the most exciting announcement to each of you in the new Marvel NOW line-up?
James: One hundred percent a cosign on that one.
Elle: She’s a writer I like more and more, and putting her on a Kate Bishop solo book is ideal.
Kieran: I want to highlight something else, but I gotta say, that’s far and away the one I’m looking forward to the most.
Katie: For me Thompson writing Kate Bishop and Elsa Charretier drawing a teen Wasp are neck and neck for me, with the Thompson announcement getting my vote by juuuust a smidge.
Andrew: Hawkeye was my first pick too, and I’ll co-sign on Charretier on Wasp; she’s phenomenal. But what else are we excited about?
Katie: I also think Jeremy Whitley writing a teen heroine for Marvel with Wasp is a great pick. Yes, I want more women writers but if there’s going to be a guy writing that book, it might as well be the guy behind the Princeless series.
Kieran: Aside from those two, I don’t think there’s anything else new I’m super excited for, but I’m glad to see certain books like Moon Girl and Ultimates are sticking around.
Although, I guess Ultimates is a new volume.
Andrew: Yeah, Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur #13 is exciting in and of itself; that book getting a thirteenth issue and beyond is really gratifying.
Katie: Agreed. Moon Girl, Hellcat, and my always favorite Unbeatable Squirrel Girl still have books, which I’m happy about. I’m also just really curious what the Chip Zdarksy Star-Lord book is going to be like. Weird, probably? Probably weird.
James: I might be ambivalent about the character, but I’m excited for Ed Brisson to get to write the Kingpin series.
Elle: I’m interested in Jessica Jones, of course. I might be more excited if it was a new team rather than the one from her first book, but obviously Brian Michael Bendis knows her well and Michael Gaydos is great at drawing her.
James: I keep forgetting it, but I am genuinely surprised by and interested in a Genndy Tartakovsky series in Cage. Tartakovsky is someone whose work I really enjoy, obviously from TV, and I’m interested in him writing and drawing a comic. As often is the case, it’s slightly disappointing to not see a person of colour on the book, but David Walker is still working on the other Luke Cage book, and so personally, I’m just down for seeing an artist whose aesthetic and storytelling I love take a crack at a cool character.
Kieran: I think it’s surprising that so many books aren’t getting renumbered. I think we all expected brand new volumes for everything at this point
Andrew: But Marvel does this twice a year, right? It can’t renumber everything every time.
Katie: I was seriously anticipating them giving Squirrel Girl her third #1 issue in two years.
Andrew: It sounds like we’re not really bowled over by this line-up, so let’s explore that. Were we expecting something different? Last time Marvel billed a line-up as NOW, in 2012, it was a big deal; is this an anticlimax?
Kieran: I was a big fan of the original Marvel NOW when it debuted, and I have fond memories of a lot of those books. This doesn’t feel like that at all.
Elle: There’s not much that makes me say, “Oh wow, that’s awesome,” and for one of these big line-wide announcements, that makes the whole thing feel a little meh.
Kieran: I think Marvel NOW in 2012 benefitted from a lot of writers and artists coming off acclaimed, years-long runs at the same time, so there was a sense of freshness to everything as they all played musical chairs.
Katie: It doesn’t help that we just had this huge universe-shattering All New, All Different line-up a few short months ago.
Elle: For me, most of what’s surprising is stuff that doesn’t interest me. It’s weird that Foolkiller, Solo, and Slapstick are all getting solo titles, but I don’t want to read them.
Andrew: Was there a time when you would have read those books? Because I think that’s true for me. I read Terror Inc, back in the day. I actually used to really like Solo, because he was stoic and butch and had good hair and a unitard. But even I don’t care about him now.
Elle: I liked Solo in the early ’90s, when he was a guy who teleported into the middle of somebody else’s story and said, “I’m going to kill the guy you’re trying to capture, because I don’t care about your heroics,” but I don’t know that I ever would have been into him as a lead character.
And frankly I lost interest in Foolkiller when he stopped wearing a jaunty hat.
Katie: I had no idea until last week that Solo was a character. Same with Foolkiller. That name sounds made-up. … I mean yes, all Marvel characters are “made-up” but you know what I mean.
Kieran: There was definitely a time when I would have bought Fred Van Lente‘s Slapstick book I may still check that out to be fair, the cover makes it look fun.
James: Like Katie, I basically have zero experience with characters like Solo or Foolkiller.
For me, a lot of my own regrettable ambivalence about the lineup has nothing to do with the books, a lot of which I’ll probably check out. It’s simply that, this short a time after the last line-wide relaunch, and especially with the similar terms used between the various relaunches — which this one reuses — it mentally kind of washes together, which hurts the PR’s effect on me. If you point at a book I can go, “Oh yes, I am excited for that!” but asked just about the relaunch overall, at this point, it’s hard to distinguish things just at the broadest level.
It’s just a lot, and so often.
Elle: I think James definitely has a point.
Andrew: It’s amazing to me that Deadpool has this level of pull that he can get spinoffs for characters like Solo and Slapstick from Deadpool And The Mercs For Money. But it also demonstrates how Marvel can and will leverage a strategy to get behind characters it wants to “make”, and the characters it wants to “make” are… Solo and Slapstick.
Kieran: Marvel remind me more of WWE every day, I swear. Although WWE are currently giving a “push” to a gay man, which is more than Marvel are doing.
Elle: Did Mercs For Money even sell that well? I know people love Deadpool, but three spin-offs seems like a lot for a book I don’t even remember hearing much buzz about.
Kieran: I have a theory that I just developed on the spot: Marvel is trying to use the popularity of Deadpool’s movie to increase the value and name recognition of characters they own the rights to.
James: I am invoicing the company for the monocle that just dropped from my eye.
Andrew: That’s a sound theory. The problem is, having not read Mercs For Money, I don’t know what the unique selling point is meant to be of a Solo versus a Foolkiller. There’s a lot of men with guns wandering around, and I don’t know what the hook is.
James: There’s a lot we’re gonna find out when solicits come out, I guess! The dearth of information here kind of hurts that, I think. There’s so much we’re waiting on, all it can be is excitement based on, “I know that character!” and, “Oh hell yes, X is writing/drawing something!”
Kieran: I think Foolkiller has an interesting enough hook in that he’s a psychiatrist who is also a vigilante, but is 2016 really the year to increase the profile of men with guns being heroic?
Andrew: If Marvel had used the success of Young Avengers to launch more than just a Loki book, to do a Kate Bishop Hawkeye series back then, and an America Chavez series, and a Teddy & Billy series, and a Marvel Boy series, that would have made sense to me. Those characters feel distinct and different, and their books would feel different.
Elle: Do we think that Marvel, on some editorial or corporate level, is more interested in men with guns, or is it that they are actually letting their talent make choices about what books they want to pitch, and because their talent is predominantly straight white men, they’re getting a lot of “men with guns” pitches?
Katie: My guess is a little of both.
Andrew: I think you’re probably right. The existence of writers’ summits suggest there must be some degree of reciprocity.
Katie: Although I do think the Marvel higher ups know what they want to make, and either through asking for certain types of pitches or specifically going for creators who only want to do those kinds of books, this is what we get.
James: I don’t think it’s that deliberate, and it’s hard to say what kind of editorial mandate there is. To me it reads like Deadpool was a big hit and they want to get in on that, and “men with guns” are an evergreen popular category.
Andrew: Also, while I consider myself a fan of the writing of guys like Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Waid, I don’t necessarily want their America Chavez, or their Billy & Teddy.
Elle: That’s also true.
James: Similarly, Daredevil is a hit on Netflix, so now there’s more spin-offs. Luke Cage has a series so there’s two books with him. Et cetera. All we need to do is get America Chavez and Dani Moonstar into a TV series!
And I should add, just so I don’t get tweets, this means nothing about the quality of the books to me. But Marvel editors like Tom Brevoort have been very open about how if something hits we’ll get more of it, so it’s a feedback loop. And if you’re not in the loop, it can be tougher.
Andrew: We should talk a little bit about the Bendis of it all, because there’s a lot of talk about his new Iron Man character Riri Williams, and about him bringing back Jessica Jones in a solo title. He’s also still writing Miles Morales. These are all characters that enrich the diversity of the Marvel Universe, and they’re all characters he co-created, and his name helps sell these books. So should we be content with this?
James: I don’t think we should be inherently displeased that he’s doing that enriching, but I don’t think we should be content with it either.
Kieran: I don’t have a problem with Bendis writing Riri. He created her and I’m sure the Marvel Universe will be better off with her in it. I do have a problem with the fact that there are no women of color involved in the book.
James: On face value, it’s good that the biggest comics writer around knows that there shouldn’t just be cis-het white dudes. But I also can’t say I’m happy with his persistent control over characters like Miles and Jessica. How much earlier could we have gotten a Jessica Jones book if he didn’t insist on being the person to do it, and how happy editors appeared to be in letting that be the case? We might have had a Jessica Jones series that actually got a big bump from the Netflix series!
Kieran: I look at writers like Jonathan Hickman, who came into Marvel through Bendis, and who co-wrote a book with Bendis, and wonder, “Why couldn’t that happen here?” You can enrich the Marvel Universe all you want, but you need to be enriching the talent pool too.
James: At this point, I’m frustrated that any native characters I get inherently rely on how often a cishet white dude wants to use them. That’s by no means a Marvel exclusive problem, but I wasn’t in on the DC Rebirth roundtable so I’ll say it here!
Elle: I don’t think Bendis writing characters he created is a bad thing. But I think it’s worth talking about his privileged position as a guy who gets to launch characters for Marvel and then shepherd those characters, and how hard it is for anyone else, especially someone without all of his privileges, to reach that position.
Katie: I really don’t trust how Bendis writes women, to be frank. I’d be less concerned if women were part of the creative team, so that when the male creators make iffy choices involving a female character’s personification that are clear red flags for women readers, said female creator can actually point that out.
As many people have pointed out this week, Marvel has never had a black woman write an ongoing series for them. That’s kind of terrible. For all the talk of “black women shouldn’t only be writing black female heroines” when it comes to creative teams on characters like Riri — or Storm or Misty, for that matter — the point is moot if there aren’t black women writing any of your other books, either.
Elle: I do think Bendis’s “ownership” of Jessica Jones is a detriment to her as a character. Because he doesn’t own her — she was a work-for-hire creation like the rest of them. But it seems clear that no woman will ever get to write her because she “belongs” to Bendis.
Andrew: Right. I think it’s great that Bendis wants to create characters like Riri, but I’d like him to create those characters to send out into the world — I don’t want Riri to be someone only Bendis gets to write as a title character, the way it seems to be with Jessica and Miles — and I don’t want him to be the only person that gets to create characters like Riri.
I should stress that we are speculating here that Bendis has exerted any kind of special right to steer the stories of Jessica and Miles; we don’t know that to be true.
Elle: Katie’s absolutely right that women’s perspectives are important for what they can bring that men can’t. And that’s especially relevant to a character like Jessica Jones, who is a survivor of sexual trauma.
Andrew: I don’t think the Jessica Jones TV show would have been as good as it was without a woman, Melissa Rosenberg, running the show; that version of the story feels much more true to me than the comics version.
James: I trust creators like Bendis to mean well, but I don’t trust them to execute with the sensitivity that people of the demographics might be able to appreciate.
Like, the dude created Miles Morales. I’m gonna give him the benefit of some doubts, but there are going to end up being more doubts just because of demographics, as unfortunate as I know that sounds.
Andrew: To that point, there was that scene where Bendis wrote about Miles not wanting to be “the black Spider-Man,” and I saw a lot of black readers call out that scene as inauthentic. I think it was well intentioned, but I’d love to see what a black writer would have written.
Katie: And that scene was ridiculously insulting to Marvel’s young female readership by making a female fan of Miles into a joke. And again, that’s a big reason why I don’t trust Bendis with a character like Riri.
Kieran: I definitely think there’s a larger story at play where Miles will come to realize the importance of what he represents, and I think you can see that in Bendis’ comments about representation in the Invincible Iron Man announcement interview. He’s spoken before about how important it is to him when fathers come up to him and say, “My son read a Miles Morales book and realised he could be Spider-Man.”
However, as we’ve seen with Captain America, “Wait and see” isn’t good enough.
James: I don’t begrudge Bendis or any cishet white male creator their successes at improving diversity, I just wish Marvel would hire more people who aren’t that demographic.
Elle: On that note, how do we feel about Miles kissing Spider-Gwen? It’s weird how soon this comes after the ANAD Avengers cover of Thor and Captain America kissing. I feel like someone at Marvel still thinks interracial relationships are the height of progressiveness, whereas I see a lot of black critics talking about how always putting black male heroes with white women — something Marvel loves to do — undermines black women. Which is not my lane, but it definitely makes sense to me.
James: I can’t speak to the undermining, but it does seem very capital-P Progressive. And hey, it’s a cover. It’s designed to get press, and this one will. But it seems relatively shallow, as, well, as covers tend to be.
It’s not bad — none of us are going to say interracial relationships are bad! Heck, my parents have different skintones — but it did make me pause and wonder about the women of color in superhero comics.
Andrew: It feels like one of those issues, like so many of the conversations around diversity, that’s only solved when we get to “a lot”, and that faraway dream of “enough”. When Marvel has enough black heroes that some can be kissing white women, and some can be kissing black women, and some can be women kissing other women, then none of them has to carry the burden of representing all of them.
James: I think that’s a good way of putting it. It’s notable because of what they’re not doing, even if otherwise it’s a pretty neutral thing.
Katie: I’d love to hear what black female readers’ reactions were to that part of the announcement. My initial response was that I’m still not sure about either of their ages, and this could be borderline inappropriate since Gwen is a little out of high school at this point?
Kieran: There’s at least two or three years between them, I reckon. When Miles was introduced, he was thirteen, but there is a one year time jump that takes place for him when he was still living in the Ultimate Universe. It’s possible he’s fifteen now, but not much older.
Andrew: What do we think of the new team books? Champions, Occupy Avengers, U.S.Avengers?
Elle: The Occupy reference seems really dated, but I guess we should count our blessings they didn’t try to base an Avengers book on any more recent protest movements.
Kieran: David Walker is writing it though, who is doing a terrific job tackling social issues in Nighthawk.
James: I’m optimistic about Walker writing Occupy, which ameliorates a lot of my concern about Clint Barton being in the centre of it while all the people of colour are in the background (again, not bad, just not the optimal look).
Katie: The Ms. Marvel issue at the science fair makes me wish Champions was written by G. Willow Wilson.
Elle: Champions is another book that’s by creators I quite like, but wow do I wish it was a fresher team. If Marvel wants a comic about youth, there needs to be some youth behind the scenes.
Kieran: I feel like the onus is on some creators to say, “You need to get someone else for this,” with books like Champions — and I say that as the biggest fan of Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos on Impulse.
James: And honest to god, literally everything about that U.S.Avengers cover looks amazing. I mean, there’s a flaming skull, Red Hulk with twin guns, a young woman in a patriotic mech, and Squirrel Girl, while jets fly in the background. I want this book to be so over the top that I immediately go buy a pair of stars and stripes leggings just so my booty loves America.
Elle: Yeah, U.S.Avengers seems like it could be a lot of fun, especially if the satire’s on point.
It is satire, right?
James: With Al Ewing writing, it, I assume so!
Katie: U.S.Avengers could end up winning me over. I love me some Squirrel Girl, and her being given multiple avenues in the company’s line-up makes me happy. Also the future version of Luke and Jessica’s daughter as Captain America is something I can get down with. I still wish they’d stop coloring Sunspot’s skin so light.
Andrew: A young co-writer with Waid on Champions and a black woman working with Bendis on Iron Man would make both books so much more exciting, and that brings me back to my biggest disappointment with this line. There just isn’t enough exciting new writing talent on display here. Marvel is four years in to this strategy of hyped up line-wide relaunches, and we’re still not seeing signs of a serious talent diversity effort in place. And Marvel does not invite pitches; Marvel goes out and finds talent. That’s Marvel’s choice of how to operate, so Marvel owns this.
James: As I said before, I am excited to see Ed Brisson writing something, but I agree there doesn’t seem to be a lot of new talent.
Kieran: I wouldn’t agree with that completely, with writers like Jeremy Whitely and Matthew Rosenberg getting ongoing titles, but I’d like to see a more diverse effort in recruiting new talent.
Katie: And certain older creators have huge chunks of the overall line-up to themselves, which means the same voices getting their ideas out there instead of a ton of varied voices.
Andrew: Yeah, I think Marvel always wants to find the next Bendis, the next Hickman, the next Remender; a pair of hands that can be trusted to curate a corner of the universe. After a while, don’t those cultivated gardens look a little dated and stale?
Kieran: Remember “The Architects”? How many of those guys realized it was better to head to Image and do whatever they wanted?
James: I’m not sure I entirely agree with “stale,” but I do think that there’s a disconnect between high profile young characters of color and creators like Waid or Bendis, whose work I enjoy, and who have the skill at curating, but aren’t really voices for a new direction.
Elle: Yeah, that’s my feeling as well.
James: Matt Fraction has talked about the perpetual second act of comics storytelling, in terms of how comics create the illusion of a first act, and maybe we should be talking about the conservatism of the perpetual “all new.” When everything is “all new,” it tends to disguise the things that aren’t.
And they can’t all be, and they shouldn’t! I appreciate the need for stability. I’d just also appreciate a bit more progressive in my conservatism in comics publishing. (Readers, that is a Canadian politics joke.)
Andrew: On that subject; we’re getting an Unworthy Thor book, starring Odinson, alongside Mighty Thor, starring Jane. We’re getting a new young female Iron Fist alongside Danny Rand in Iron Fists. Kate Bishop has a Hawkeye book, but Clint Barton also has a new book. This is clearly Marvel strategy at this point, right? To introduce a new, more diverse version of a hero, but also keep the straight white man version around? Is this a pragmatic way to have one’s cake and eat it?
Katie: Potentially, Iron Fists could be exploring actual sidekicks, which is a thing Marvel doesn’t have a lot of. So in that, I’m less concerned. But yes, the Odinson getting his own alternate universe hammer — according to that cover — feels like an easy out considering how fervent the creators were in saying, “No this isn’t ‘Lady Thor,’ this is just Thor” when she was first announced.
James: Thor the Separate But Equally Worthy
Andrew: I’ve started referring to this strategy as Marvel Um Actually, where you have Captain America and Um Actually Captain America, and you have Wolverine and Um Actually Wolverine. But I’ve also seen speculation that it’s Marvel’s way of building legacies that can be explored in the movies, because movie actors age a lot faster than comic book characters, and that isn’t a bad thing if we get Riri and Miles and Pei on screen some day.
Katie: And Kamala.
Elle: I’ll believe that when I’m in a movie theater watching it happen. It would be awesome, but I have zero faith in Marvel or Hollywood to go there.
Katie: That was one of the first things I asked when Riri was announced. Okay but are we ever going to see her in the movies, or is it always going to be Tony, and she’s just a sort of Iron Man in the comics for, like, 10 months?
Kieran: I didn’t believe they made an Avengers movie until it was over and I’d seen it, so you’re gonna have to do more to convince me we’ll see any of the new heroes on the big screen in my lifetime.
James: Since Chris Sims isn’t on the roundtable, I’ll be the person to say that I actually do like the idea of legacy in superhero comics, and if the base is cis-het white dudes, there’s always gonna be a bit of that in the legacy. But superhero comics tend to regress to the mean, and that means the legacy roles always come with an elipsis.
Sometimes, that’s great! I love how big the Flash family is, or how many Robins there are. But I’m not inherently trusting of Marvel to let characters like Riri be their own thing. Even Rhodey, an Iron Man sidekick who had at various times managed to step out from being the Other Iron Man, ended up dying to give Tony Stark some motivating tragedy.
Kieran: Remember when Marvel introduced a new Latina Ghost Rider? Anyone? Remember that? Anyone?
Andrew: And a new Latino Ghost Rider.
Katie: And there is a difference between Sidekick Legacy characters, characters that take on that legacy well after the hero is done with the name, like Kamala, and legacy character that pick up right after the hero is put on the sidelines or during the “main hero” run.
James: That’s a good point, Katie. Sidekicks have an inherent transiency, because at some point they can grow up and be their own thing. But in the public’s mind I think there’s still just one Captain America. The regression to the mean will usually end up happening.
Katie: Even if the Ms. Marvel series didn’t take off, we were never going to worry about Carol coming back to take the Ms. Marvel title away from Kamala. But Jane could be written out whenever Marvel decides Odinson is worthy again.
James: That’s the particular Sword of Damocles hanging over the relaunch, I think.
Katie: It comes down to actually being invested in those marginalized characters. As a comparison, yes the We Are Robin book had a short run, but Scott Snyder and the Bat office are clearly invested in Duke Thomas as a hero, and are pushing for him to have a strong role in Rebirth. And will they be invested in Riri once Tony gets back in the armor eventually? I honestly don’t know, and that’s frustrating.
Andrew: I think Marvel does do that too with legacy characters, but I think Marvel and its creators are a little less cognizant of how easily they erode characters like Sam Wilson and Jane Foster by making them compete with their forebears. Even if they’re Unworthy or… really unworthy.
James: I never felt for a second that Marvel was invested in Red Wolf. And, well, where is he now, huh? I hate to be the one-issue man, but that’s something I obviously immediately noticed with the new Marvel Now: there aren’t any indigenous characters. In the previous relaunch, they were touting that they had a native character — their first solo book with one in almost four decades — but the series didn’t do well and now there doesn’t seem to be any at first glance.
It’s hard to be optimistic about the diversity of the Marvel Universe when certain aspects of it seem so conditional.
Andrew: Same with queer characters. Marvel’s idea of diversity only ever goes so far.
James: Whenever I was reading or critiquing Red Wolf, one thing I kept thinking was, “I hope the failure of this book doesn’t mean they back up on indigenous representation.” But it appears they have. And Angela being such a surprise for trans representation, it’s disappointing to not see that anywhere, either. It’s all so conditional and it’s frustrating.
Elle: Yeah. It’s also hard not to notice that every character from that first set of teaser images has a solo book announced now except Ms. America Chavez. Wildly popular, widely cosplayed Latina lesbian America Chavez: part of the marketing, but not part of the launch.
Kieran: Axel Alonso wouldn’t even confirm that Angela was queer the week she declared her love to Sera and they kissed.
Elle: It’s a weird look.
Andrew: Marvel promises there are more books to come, and that’s clearly true, because we’re at least getting Um Actually Nova. But I’ve got my hopes up about this so many times now, I kind of don’t have the energy to be optimistic anymore.
James: I’m always, always ready to be pleasantly surprised, but after being explicitly told, for so long, that I have to wait for the surprise, well, I’m burnt out. And that colors all the stuff with Marvel Now that I’m actually looking forward to!
Andrew: They do like to tell us to wait. “Will you be treating all human beings like human beings? Do you care about providing heroes to groups of people who are harrassed, abused, murdered, and in desperate need of inspiring stories?”
“Ah! Wait and see!”
We waited. We saw. We went home.
Katie: It’s hard to fully embrace the good stuff, because of the bitter taste in your mouth from what the company is so adamant about ignoring.
James: It sounds petty, but it’s legitimately harder for me to enjoy Ms. Marvel as fully as I used to, or to anticipate a Kate Bishop book as much as I want to, when I can’t see any people like me on the covers at Marvel, period.
Katie: And it’s doubly frustrating when you hear rumors of creators who wanted to feature their solo lead as queer but were told they absolutely couldn’t. Allegedly.
Andrew: Or creators who wanted to do queer alt-universe tales and were told no. Allegedly.
Katie: So then you read those series and you think of what could have been and it sours the actual finished results. And looking at the Marvel Now announcements, you wonder which of those creators were told no this time.
Andrew: Who is your America Chavez, James? Who is the hero you most want to see get their own book and a real shot?
James: Well, I mean, literally any native character, but for me it’s Dani Moonstar particularly. I’ve written about her — and the negative trajectory of her treatment at Marvel recently — for Jay & Miles Explain the X-Men, but despite all my frustrations with the character, I see the potential for great storytelling in her: empathy as a superpower, tying into certain native traditions. Balancing membership in one group (native people, mutants) with another (being a Valkyrie). There’s so much there and that they’re not doing it — with any native character – is frustrating.
I’d even have taken a less racist Red Wolf.
Andrew: Dani is great. But she is an X-Man, and there ain’t a lot of those in Marvel’s current line-up.
James: And we’ll likely see more X-Men announcements to come. But I’m also not really holding out hope, either, given the complete dearth in the announcements so far. It feels like my best option is, “Maybe there will be one and I’ll wait and see.”
Kieran: Plus, without Extraordinary X-Men, Forge isn’t around. Although I know James has written about Forge’s portrayal very recently.
Elle: Do we actually think Extraordinary X-Men is ending? I’ve been assuming we have no knowledge of Marvel’s plans for the X-line, and some of them are probably continuing. I’m definitely not ready to say goodbye to All-New Wolverine, I can tell you that.
Katie: The lack of All-New Wolverine, at the very least at the beginning of Marvel Now, is distressing.
Andrew: I would imagine most of the X-Men books will keep on keeping on, just with a break for Death of X, and I wouldn’t be wholly surprised if Marvel had finally decided to do a big X-Men push again, and that’s just around the corner. Maybe negotiations with Fox are going well. Maybe Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter is cooling off on his antipathy to mutants. It’s not like the Fox deal ever stopped Marvel from milking Deadpool for all he’s worth.
I apologise for the phrase “milking Deadpool”.
Katie: Eh, it’s an apt metaphor for Marvel’s choices.
Elle: I strongly suspect Marvel is deliberately playing on the noted paranoia of X-Men fans. Giving them a little time to think the whole line is canceled before revealing the real plan.
James: Elle, I completely agree.
Andrew: And look, at this point, in publishing terms, February and the next Marvel line launch is just around the corner. Maybe that’s when we get X-Men, and actual diversity. All Now Nowvel Now.
Katie: All New And All Different. So New.
Andrew: So Now.
Katie: So Foolkiller.
Andrew: So lo.
Elle: How is the tagline of Foolkiller not, “Pity the fools?” Does Mr. T actually have that phrase trademarked?
Kieran: I dunno, I kinda like “The Doctor Is In Sane.” Max Bemis is writing that, and I did really enjoy his X-Men mini.
James: I’m interested in seeing what Nicole Perlman does with Gamora!
Katie: Veronica Fish drawing Spider-Woman should be solid, too.
Elle: I love the art for Gamora! The way she’s being drawn, with that casual outfit. Makes me way more interested in the book.
James: And I am genuinely intrested in Geoffrey Thorne and Khary Randolph‘s Mosaic. It’s an example of the kind of diversity I want to see from Marvel, even if it’s just a start, and the combination of the talent with a character I don’t know a lot about has me interested in knowing more.
Andrew: Yeah, Marvel doesn’t often take a shot on a new character like that. I’d love to see more of that sort of courage.
Katie: Randolph’s art is so great, so I’m sure at the very least Mosaic will be gorgeous.
My overall thoughts with this is that most of my must-read series of post-Secret Wars are continuing, and there are a small handful of series I’ll definitely check out. Beyond that, Marvel needs to get more fresh voices in, especially on the writing side.
Kieran: Outside of Hawkeye and technically Ultimates, there isn’t a new #1 I’m going to pick up for absolute certainty.
James: Overall, it’s, well, it’s a Marvel relaunch. There are some books I am definitely going to pick up. There’s stuff I’m interested in. There’s never enough diversity and the patterns of what diversity appears to be allowed are illuminating. And for better and worse, there’s always a lot of wait and see.
Elle: I agree with all of you. I’m not really any less into this new Marvel line than I was the last one, but given the hype it feels underwhelming. Maybe the next relaunch will be more exciting.
Andrew: I guess we’ll find out in February!
Katie: “All New All Different NOW But For Real This Time!” Can’t wait.
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