Hello, fanboys and fangirls, my given name’s Robert, but to those dozens of loyal Hold 322 listeners I’m better known as Ultimate Bob. As our show’s “staff of writer” it is my obligation to bring to you a weekly blog containing my ideas and opinions concerning comic books and all other things nerdy / geek. This week’s blog will be about the universe spanning events currently happening at the two big comic book publishers: Convergence at DC, and Secret Wars at Marvel.
Like many of you, we at Hold 322 have known Convergence and Secret Wars were on the horizon for some time now, but to be honest, until very recently I didn’t know the full scope of what they would entail or what the lasting impact of either event would be on their respective milieus. So in preparation for this blog, the radioactive professor JC Carter and myself did some hasty research (mine into Convergence and his into Secret Wars) and what follows is what we found out. Of course, what we found out is a lot, so put your safety helmet on, strap in securely, and let’s dig right in.
The basic story idea of the event is that Superman’s enemy Brainiac (aka Computo, as Ultimate Stan dubbed him on Hold 322) has been collecting characters from different DC eras/timelines/continuities (such as pre-crisis, post-crisis, Zero Hour, etc.), and keeping them as specimens on his massive collector-ship. For whatever reason (I’m guessing boredom) he releases them all to see what happens. This means that this month (April) and next month (May) we get a nine part Convergence limited series and a slew of various one-shot Convergence related titles featuring all the mixed up, disparate characters released from Brainiac’s collector-ship.
When this is all over in June, there will be some ongoing changes at DC; most notably, 24 new ongoing titles will be added to the publisher’s monthly offerings. I won’t list them all in this blog (you can find them elsewhere on the internet with your fancy Google machine) but I will give my thoughts on a few of them for you. First off, Black Canary will get a new solo series set to be written by Brenden Fletcher, with art by Annie Wu. In a February press release, DC co-publisher Jim Lee said, “…fans of the Arrow television show may want more stories about Black Canary. Now they can find modern, fresh takes on the character in the pages of her standalone series…” But I have to wonder, will Fletcher (who has been the writer of Batgirl since Gail Simone’s departure from the book) write the Black Canary series in the same vein as the Arrow television show? I certainly hope not. The character as portrayed on the show is a far cry from the one that longtime comic book fans have known and loved. On Arrow, she is a terrible fighter and has no powers; not to mention the clear differences in personality and identity. I guess we’ll just have to see what Fletcher and Wu have in store for us in June.
Cyborg (aka Victor Stone) will finally get his own monthly book, written by David L. Walker, with art by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado. I hope this series works out well, because Victor has been one of my favorite characters since he was included in the Justice League with the launch of the new 52 more than three years ago. He’s a tragic figure in many ways (father never openly loved him, and an accident has left him more machine than man) but he’s still managed to put aside his self pity and be an elite hero. I think this series has great potential and I hope that’s not wasted.
I’ll be interested to read Earth 2: Society (by writer Daniel H. Wilson and artist Jorge Jimenez), so I can continue to follow the adventures of the heroes I’ve come to love from Earth 2, Earth 2: World’s End, and Worlds’ Finest. I think the book Harley Quinn/Power Girl (by writers Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner and Justin Gray with artist Stephane Roux) offers a real odd couple, and I’m guessing though that this will be the new Power Girl created in a lab accident in the pages of Worlds’ Finest, and not Kara from Earth 2. I’m glad that Red Hood and the Outlaws is being broken up into two books (Red Hood/Arsenal by writer Scott Lobdell and artist Denis Medri, and Starfire by writers by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Connor, with artist Emanuela Lupacchino) and I hope the character of Starfire will be returned to one young girls can fully embrace as a fan favorite once again. There’s also a new book by Garth Ennis (with art by John McCrea) called Section Eight. I didn’t know Ennis was a fellow fan of the classic TV series M*A*S*H, but it’s awesome that Corporal Klinger will finally get his own comic book series. (That was a joke, by the way, though I wish it were true.) And finally, I think it’s a good idea to have Vertigo creator Ming Doyle writing the new reboot of Constantine: the Hellblazer.
Aside from all the new monthly titles, 25 established bestsellers will continue on in June from where they left off before Convergence; most with the same creative teams still in place. One change though will be that Geoff Johns will be stepping down as writer of the Superman series, though John Romita Jr. will remain as artist. I don’t know much about the writer taking over (Gene Luen Yang), but I wish him the best of luck following in Johns’ footsteps, and look forward to seeing what he has planned for the Man of Steel in the months to come. Another change is who will write Justice League United. The series will continue without original series writer Jeff Lemire who has jumped ship for Marvel where he’s now the new scribe for Hawkeye. The creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo will remain on the Batman series, though Snyder has promised a dramatically different book than what we’ve seen before. I’m curious to find out what that will entail.
But beyond new monthly titles, it appears that the biggest change Convergence will bring to the DCU is that it will essentially end the New 52 era as we’ve known it, and place much less emphasis on continuity, with a greater focus on creative freedom for their writers. In the previously sighted press release from February, DC’s other co-publisher, Dan DiDio said: “In this new era of storytelling, story will trump continuity as we continue to empower creators to tell the best stories in the industry.” I hope this plan works and we really do get great stories each and every month, but for that, only tell will tell.
And now, Secret Wars:
Basically, Marvel will strive to take all their divergent universes and continuities and smash them all together for a few months to see where the pieces land. The most notable and lasting result from all of this will be the end of the Ultimate Marvel Universe, and the inclusion of Miles Morales (the Ultimate Spider-Man) into the regular 616 Marvel continuity. While the Secret Wars rage on, there will be a plethora of new (mostly temporary) titles for you to read, if
you feel so inclined, and have that kind of time / cash on your hands. All of this will begin in May, with three main titles giving you the core of the sweeping storyline. These are: Secret Wars by writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Esad Ribic; Secret Wars: Battleworld by Ed Brisson, James Stokoe, Josh Williams and others (this will be an out of control anthology series tackling everything from Punisher 1602 to Iron Man 2099, and every M.O.D.O.K. in between. I’m tired just thinking about it); and Secret Wars Journal by various writers and artists (this will be another anthology series; a smorgasbord of Marvel stars getting a slice of war-time turmoil with such characters as Misty Knight, Millie the Model, Night Nurse, Paladin, characters from the Young Avengers and the X-Men, and a host of others from all over the Marvel universe).
Also in May we’ll get the first 13 book wave of other Secret Wars related titles. Just to mention a few of them, we have: Spider-Verse (yay!) by Mike Costa and Andre Aruajo (featuring Spider-Gwen, Spider-Ham, Spider-Man India, Spider-UK, Spider-Man Noir, and Mayday Parker); Planet Hulk by Sam Humphries and Marc Laming (no relation to the original Planet Hulk storyline; this one is about a Steve Rogers—instead of Moon Boy—riding around on Devil Dinosaur, fighting every Hulk ever… what was being smoked in the Marvel office the day this idea got green lit?); Old Man Logan by Brian Michael Bendis and Andrea Sorrentino; Ultimate End (which is, of course, about the end of the Ultimate Marvel Universe) by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley; Inhumans: Attilan Rising by Charles Soule and John Timms; Secret Wars 2099 by Peter David (who thinks Jeff Bell has the greatest voice ever) and Will Sliney; Deadpool’s Secret-Secret Wars (damn funny name) by Cullen Bunn and Matteo Lolli; and the much anticipated A-Force by G. Willow Wilson, Marguerite Bennett and Jorge Molina (featuring an all female Avengers team).
Well, damn that was a lot of titles, right? Sure was, but wait, there’s more! In June we get another 22 titles! A few notables are: Future Imperfect by Peter David and Greg Land; 1872 by Gerry Duggan and Evan Shaner (which looks to me to just be Marvel’s version of DC’s All-Star Western); Runaways by Noelle Stevenson and Sanford Greene; Marvel Zombies (Not again!) by Si Spurrier and Kev Walker, Star Lord and Kitty Pride by Sam Humphries and Alti Firmansyah; Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies (it takes a bad idea to kill an even worse bad idea) by James Robinson and Steve Pugh; Thors by Jason Aaron and Chris Sprouse, Ghost Racers (Is that about the ghost of Speed Racer?) by Felipe Smit and Juan Gedeon; Amazing Spider: Renew Your Vows (in which Peter Parker and Mary Jane are still married) by Dan Slott and Adam Kubert; 1602 Witch Hunter Angela by Kieron Gillen, Marguerite Bennett and Stephanie Hans (no Neil Gaiman?); X-Men 92 by Chris Sims, Chad Bowers and Scott Koblish (based on the 90’s cartoon that JC Carter only pretends to hate); Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps (this one had better be about Rebecca Frost and Danielle
UberAlles from the Hello Sweetie podcast. Why, you ask? Did you not see their awesome Cosplay at the last Con here in Salt Lake City? That’s why, duh) by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kelly Thompson and David Lopez; Giant-Size Little Marvel: AvX by Scottie Young; and Guardians of Knowhere by Brian Michael Bendis—seriously, how does he write so many books?
Well, shoot, there couldn’t possibly be more new titles spawning out of all this, could there? Yep. In July we will then get 8 more titles, because 35 just weren’t enough! They are: House of M by Dennis Hopeless; Siege by Kieron Gillen, Felipe Andrade, various artists; Red Skull by Joshua Williamson and Luca Pizzari; Spider Island by Christos Gage, Tom DeFalco, Paco Diaz and Ron Frenz; Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders by (okay, this one might be good just based on the creative team of) Al Ewing and Alan Davis; Hail Hydra by Rick (Mind Bubble) Remender and Roland Boschi; Civil War by Charles Soule and Leinil Yu; and finally, I hope, Age of Apocalypse by Fabian Nicieza and Gerardo Sandoval.
Whew. I’m exhausted, and you’re probably not even still reading this. I’m struggling to understand why Marvel thinks their readers want or need this many new, random titles to read, but we’re going to get them all the same. So in conclusion, despite some potential highlights, Convergence and Secret Wars may both just be excuses for writers at both DC and Marvel to wax nostalgic, and for their publishers to try for a quick money grab. If you intend to read all the new titles offered from both events, do our planet’s trees a favor and get them digitally; otherwise, that’s way too much paper wasted for stories that may or may not be worth your time to read them.
Well, I think that concludes this week’s blog. Remember to subscribe to this here blog so you can join us for next week’s awesome bloviation from yours truly. Be sure also to listen to each and every episode of Hold 322, available every Tuesday from iTunes, Stitcher and Hold322.com; and if you wanna be just as cool as all the other cool kids are, you can follow me on the Twitter for all my insightful and zany tweets @Robert_A_Easton. Thanks for reading, friends.