The question most often asked of the ComicsAlliance staff is a variation of, "Which comic books should I be reading?" or, "I'm new to comics, what's a good place to start?" The Wednesday deluge of new comic books, graphic novels and collected editions can be daunting even for the longtime reader, much less for those totally unfamiliar with creators, characters and publishers, and the dark mysteries of comic book shopping like variants, pre-ordering, and formats.
In Letter 44, new President Stephen Blades steps into office after America has suffered eight years of a substandard Presidency. Picking up a letter left by his predecessor, however, he learns that much of what went wrong in America – money being pumped into the military rather than in services at home, pointless wars which killed thousands of troops – were actually part of a longer-term plan to deal with a far bigger problem.
Specifically: aliens are out there, and they may or may not be planning to invade Earth in the near future.
Writer Charles Soule and artist Alberto Alburquerque handle the fallout of that letter across a bulky first trade, collecting the first six issues together. What becomes apparent pretty quickly, though, is that this is a series which isn’t particularly interested in telling contained arcs, or telling stories for a trade. Instead, this is a proper ongoing series, in which the last issue of this trade feels like just another step towards a bigger picture, rather than a wrap up of everything that’s come before.
Wolverine is dead. I think. Or about to be dead; I'm not actually up-to-date on that book. But either way, one of Marvel's biggest heroes is certainly dying, fictionally-speaking, and he'll be gone from Marvel's books for... an uncertain period of time. Excluding flashbacks and alternate dimensions, maybe. And the possibility that he's not dead.
Killing Wolverine could actually be a smart move for Marvel; the character has been over-exposed for decades, to a degree that dilutes his appeal. Taking him off the board for a period allows the character to rest and come back when people miss him and creators have something new to say about him, and turns his return into an event. The tactic worked well for Captain America and Peter Parker, among others. But Marvel can't ever be completely without Wolverine; that would be crazy. So in January it's launching an ongoing weekly series called Wolverines. Yes, weekly. Yes, plural.
Marvel really likes to spread its announcements around at San Diego Comic-Con, and that's never more evident than at the publisher's final panel of the weekend, which it calls 'Next Big Thing', possibly because Columbo has a prior claim on using the phrase, 'One More Thing,' just as you're getting ready to leave.
The major new announcement out of the Next Big Thing panel is that Marvel is finally going to publish a new S.H.I.E.L.D. book (which I'll henceforth refer to as SHIELD, because no-one has time for that much punctuation). Mark Waid will write the new series, with Carlos Pacheco on issue one and a rotating team of artists thereafter. Agent Phil "Cheese" Coulson will be the book's lead, and each issue will tell a self-contained story.
This TV season is already overflowing with new TV shows based on comics, with Gotham, iZombie, Powers, The Flash, and more on the way, but SyFy announced this week that it's adding even more to the list.
Keeping in line with its return to science fiction and fantasy programming (though it's keeping its oddly spelled name, it seems), the network is launching a huge slate of new shows, including four based on comics: Ronin, Pax Romana, Letter 44 and Clone.
Dan Slott must have been saving up his jokes over the past 16 months or so.
The Amazing Spider-Man #1, the issue that officially reintroduces Peter Parker to the Marvel Universe after a lengthy absence during which his body was under the control of Doctor Octopus, is chock full of laugh lines that really hit. Slott, artist Humberto Ramos, inker Victor Olazaba and colorist Edgar Delgado get the tone just right, but I couldn't help but feel that the story itself was a bit lacking in forward momentum, as the lingering effects of Superior Spider-Man dominated the issue's lead story.
Wolverine, he dead. Almost. Soon. Soon. In a shock headline-grab, the folks at Marvel have announced that the big hand and the little hand have ticked all the way back around to "kill off a major character" o'clock, and the name they picked out of the hat this time was "James Howlett". And after asking around the office someone confirmed that they're pretty sure that's Wolverine. No, not Magneto. Not Rogue. 94% sure that's Wolverine.
So we come here today at ComicsAlliance not to praise Wolverine, but to promote his comic. But please note that this article contains spoilers for the forthcoming Marvel series Death of Wolverine, and the spoiler is that they kill Wolverine. Wolverine dies, you guys. No more Wolverine.
Marvel went to C2E2 armed with a plethora of publishing announcements for the Chicago crowd, focusing largely on special projects like miniseries and some pretty cool-sounding Original Sin tie-ins, but with a couple auspicious new series as well. In an inspired bit of comic book casting, Our Love Is Real and Avengers A.I. writer Sam Humphries will write the The Legendary Star-Lord, a new series drawn by Paco Medina starring the Guardians of the Galaxy leader. In similarly agreeable news, fan favorite X-Men leader Storm will star in a new ongoing series, this one courtesy of Greg Pak and Victor Ibanez.
Lawyers are not heroes. I don't say that to be unkind; I'm sure there are valiant and principled people in the law as in most walks of life. Jennifer Walters, the eponymous star of the new She-Hulk ongoing series from writer Charles Soule and artist Javier Pulido, is one of those good people.
Yet as a profession, lawyers do not represent "good" the way that superheroes do. Soule, a practicing lawyer himself, clearly recognizes this; he even has one character state, "I am neither bad nor good. I am simply Legal." The muddy ethics of lawyering provide a very different set of challenges to a superhero used to punching out their problems.
Two weeks, two high-profile writer swaps on major new Marvel titles.
Last week, Marvel announced that Haden Blackman was taking over as the new writer of the forthcoming Elektra title, replacing writer Zeb Wells because of Wells' increased TV commitments. Now, the company has announced that Inhuman, one of the most-hyped titles coming out of the Inhumanity event, won't be staffed by the series' originally announced writer, Matt Fraction. Charles Soule will be taking it over. Series artist Joe Madureira will remain on the book.