The so-called All-new, all-different Marvel will include a brand new female Wolverine, Daredevil and Iron Man in new costumes, and The Thing as a Guardian Of The Galaxy. Image: Marvel
A new and different relaunch comes to Marvel Comics this fall, though in many ways it aims to be a greatest-hits collection picking and choosing from decades of comic-book history.
For the first time, the top publisher in the industry is freshening up its entire superhero line with 55 to 60 #1 issues for its books, old and new, to attract newbies and hardcore readers alike to a single, streamlined Marvel Universe of heroes and villains.
Icons such as Iron Man (in a new suit of armour) and Spider-Man, plus characters like the Vision, Steve Rogers, Agent Coulson, Ant-Man and Black Panther who have an appeal for fans of the Marvel movies, all play important roles in the upcoming slate of stories.
Miles Morales, Spider-Woman, Spider-Gwen, female Thor, Ms Marvel and the current Captain America Sam Wilson are diverse and popular takes on classic heroes who also will be integral to this updated Marvel U, but fans can expect to see even more different supporting players like Red Wolf, a 21st-century version of Marvel’s first Native American superhero from the 1970s.
“We’ve put the onus on the creators to come up with big changes in the lives of our characters, whether it’s Spider-Man or Ms Marvel or Daredevil or the Hulk,” says Marvel editor in chief Axel Alonso. “You’re going to be looking at, in certain cases, new characters inhabiting those roles, and new characters dealing with profound changes in the relationships with others around them and where they live.
“We’ve challenged everybody to come up with the right ‘Oh (expletive)’ reveal for their character to shake it up and make it interesting.”
The “All-New All-Different Marvel” initiative involves the company’s best and brightest writers, including Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Aaron, G. Willow Wilson, Mark Waid, Dan Slott, Charles Soule and Jeff Lemire, plus newer faces as well – UFC fighter and former pro wrestler CM Punk is penning a book starring Drax of Guardians of the Galaxy, and Alonso says to expect novelists and a next generation of talent exhibiting “diversity in terms of gender and ethnicity”.
The ongoing Secret Wars event began last month with the literal explosion of the regular Marvel Universe and destruction of the Ultimate Universe, created in 2000 to feature modern alternate versions of characters that had been around since the 1960s.
The relaunched titles this fall take place eight months after the conclusion of Secret Wars, according to Alonso. Whether there’s a new creative team on the book or not, the first scene of each #1 issue will establish the hero or super-team’s current status quo and hint at the fact that something’s happened to change the lives of the characters in a meaningful way.
“The real beauty of that is if you’re one of these fans who’ve been around for many years, it’s a great, exciting mystery,” says David Gabriel, Marvel’s senior VP for sales and marketing. “And if you’re these new fans who maybe only jumped in this year when you saw the Avengers movie, you’ll be able to pick up any of these comics and you will not need to know 50 years of backstory of anybody.”
Alonso admits that the past year has been “tremendous” for getting new eyeballs on Marvel characters, especially with its female-led comics. The relaunched Thor – starring a hammer-wielding heroine recently revealed as Jane Foster – tripled its readership and sold more than 200,000 copies of its first issue in 2014.
Spider-Gwen, which featured a parallel-universe version of Gwen Stacy spinning webs instead of Peter Parker, was even more successful, launching with more than 250,000 copies of its first issue in February.
And there are major upcoming debuts in the works, including the introduction of a new Wolverine in the Marvel Universe and an “Incredible Hulk like no fan has ever seen before”, Alonso says. “That’s certain to be a topic of conversation. All the same people who yelled about female Thor are going to do the same thing about this Hulk.”
However, he adds, “they’re going to read the story and go, ‘Oh God, they’re on to something!’ ”
The massive Secret Wars and its tie-in series gave Marvel an opportunity to import aspects into the new Marvel Universe that had previously been the periphery, according to Alonso. Forgotten characters like Red Wolf (who appears in the upcoming Western-tinged Secret Wars: 1872 comic) could be revisited in a cool way, plus artefacts of great power and importance as well as uncharted areas and regions could add to a transformed landscape.
Still, he says, this upcoming superhero world “resembles the Marvel Universe that 60 years of readers have come to love”.
Gabriel agrees that it will definitely feel familiar, especially at first. “There are tweaks and nips and tucks here but we’re not re-creating, say, the Marvel Universe as the Ultimate Universe.
“This is simple: This is Marvel and if you’ve loved it all these years, you’re going to continue to love it.” – USA Today/Tribune News Service