Marvel unveiled its July variant cover theme at C2E2 this past weekend, and the pictures definitely tell a story. As a follow-up to March's "Women of Power" covers, which highlighted the strength of Marvel's heroic women, the July covers are dubbed "Mighty Men of Marvel." While "covers with men on them" might seem like an unremarkable theme, given that it describes most Marvel covers already, it's clear from the art released thus far that the concept was meant to be more bold than that --- but it's equally clear that Marvel missed its target.
This week saw the release of the prologue issue to Marvel’s spring event Avengers Standoff, in the form Avengers Standoff: Welcome To Pleasant Hill #1 by Nick Spencer, Mark Bagley, Scott Hanna and Paul Mounts. The event has been touted for a long time now, but heading into this first issue it was still rather unclear exactly what Standoff was going to be about.
Things are a lot clearer following the release of Welcome To Pleasant Hill, which is a moody mystery hidden behind a sunny suburban smile. Be warned this review contains meaty spoilers for the first salvo in this event as we unpack the events of the issue and its killer cliffhanger. In other words, if you want to know what Standoff is actually about before you investigate further, we're going to do our best to tell you.
All-New X-Men has quickly proven itself to be a fan-favorite title within the X-Books since it started last year, with Dennis Hopeless, Mark Bagley, Nolan Woodard and Cory Petit bringing together a team of young teen characters to valiantly surge forward through a world that hates and fears them. Despite having everything stacked against them, the cast have struck home with readers due to their determination to fight back and proudly stand up for who they are... and not what the world thinks they might be.
Although characters like X-23, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Idie, and Angel all stand poised in the dark shadows of their past and possible futures, the series stands out as a more purely entertaining and character-driven series than anything else. It's fun, and a lot of that fun is down to the immediate creative synergy between Bagley and Hopeless. ComicsAlliance caught up with Hopeless to get a closer look at the unruly team of teen heroes he's assembled, and to get a glimpse into what awaits the characters over the next few months.
Welcome to Cast Party, the feature that imagines a world with even more live action comic book adaptations than we currently have, and comes up with arguably the best casting suggestions you’re ever going to find for the movies and shows we wish could exist. This week we're going back to the '90s, to imagine a film based on a comic that's mocked almost as much as it's revered, Marvel's New Warriors, written by Fabian Nicieza, with art by Mark Bagley, Darick Robertson, and others.
Marvel has revealed the full line-up of the new Thunderbolts, as well as the book's creative team of writer Jim Zub and artist Jon Malin. This is Zub's first superhero book, but he's already done plenty of great work on Samurai Jack, Skullkickers, Dungeons & Dragons, and his current image series Wayward. Malin, meanwhile, has previously handled art on Youngblood, New Warriors, and Cable & Deadpool.
On February 17th, the Avengers find themselves in small town with a big secret in Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill #1, written by Captain America: Sam Wilson's Nick Spencer with art by All-New X-Men's Mark Bagley.
Beyond "little town with something big and weird going on" the press release reveals nothing about the plot except that it's meant to lead to other things. Likewise, there are only two preview pages, and they're just the Winter Soldier sneaking through a SHIELD facility and watching a recording of an explosion. But it seems safe to assume that this will be part of the road to Civil War II, because every story at Marvel is the road to the next story.
The second story arc of Dennis Hopeless and Mark Bagley's All-New X-Men run begins in issue #4 next month, and the first chapter of "Flesh Wounds" sees Wolverine jumping headfirst into a fight with the Blob. Good old Fred Dukes appears to be powered up since his last appearance, and he's wearing a suit and tie. So regardless of how this story goes, congrats on getting it together, Blob!
The "All-New All-Different" X-books have announced their first crossover, sort of, starting in March of 2016. X-Men: Apocalypse Wars is being described as three separate stories, in each of the three main X-books (and each lasting only one issue, apparently) that all center on the X-villain who also happens to be the focus of the upcoming movie X-Men: Apocalypse. The issues also sport three matching covers, featuring Apocalypse, Archangel, and Kid Apocalypse.
The beginning isn’t always the beginning, especially in comics. The All-New X-Men #1 that came out this week, written by Dennis Hopeless and drawn by Mark Bagley, is not the first comic with that title and number. The previous All-New X-Men series began in 2012 and ended a few months ago with the departure of writer Brian Michael Bendis and the beginning of Secret Wars.
And of course, the All-New X-Men were never exactly all new. That first series told the story of the original five X-Men — Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Iceman, and Angel — being plucked out of the past from their early days with the team and into the present, which to them was dark future timeline. This series picks up their story — minus Marvel Girl, who’s over in Extraordinary X-Men instead — and takes it in a direction that really does feel “all new.”
When Mark Waid and Leinil Yu launched Indestructible Hulk as part of the Marvel Now initiative, they took the relationship between Bruce Banner and his giant green alter-ego into a new direction. Instead of struggling against the rage-fueled monster inside him, Banner chose to use the Hulk as a directed weapon, trading off his destructive services for the chance to focus on making the world a better place as a scientist. Now, just as we're getting used to the new status quo and Banner's position as S.H.I.E.L.D.'s greatest asset, things are set to shake up again, with the book relaunching as Hulk, with Mark Bagley providing art and a whole new set of challenges.
For more information, I spoke to Waid about the shift in the focus, the relationship between Banner and the Hulk and how it's changed over the past fifty years, and his process for writing a first issue -- a must-read look at crafting an introduction from one of the masters of the form.