Marvel Really Wants X-Men to Succeed

(There is a reason I used a Russell Dauterman X-Men piece here…more on that later)

At at San Diego Comic-Con Marvel Comics released few pieces of X-Men news that should have gotten everyone’s attention.

As expected they officially announced X-Men Black. Rather than a new Black Ops team led by Magneto like many speculated about. We will be getting a series of one-shot books featuring the premier X-Men villains. Honestly it feels like Marvel wants to channel DC Comics New 52 villains month.

These books should build anticipation but anticipation for what.

Well we got the answer to that as well. In November, Marvel will be premiering a new Uncanny X-Men book.

Yes you heard that right. The granddaddy of them all, the first mutant book by Marvel Comics is coming back. No creative team has been announced but just the fact that the Uncanny X-Men is returning should be enough to whet the appetites of many fans.

Marvel has tried hard over the last few years to bring the X-Men back to the level they were when Chris Claremont and Jim Lee will working on the title.

From from the Astonishing X-Men to teams such as X-Men Blue, X-Men Gold and the more recent X-Men Red it has been clear that Marvel has not quite managed to hit the right formula.

The creative team for the next Uncanny title has not been announced but I do have speculation.

With Chris Claremont writing the Magneto X-Men Black issues it only makes sense to bring the greatest writer in mutant history back home. There may be other options but this just feels right.

If you have Clermont writing it then who should draw it. Are you bringing back a name from the past or something new.

Well it just so happens that Russell Dauterman, who did an incredible job the last few years on the Thor titles, has been without a book since he finished Jane Foster’s journey as Thor.

Told you there was a reason I chose that picture earlier.

Dauterman would be perhaps the best artist on X-Men since Jim Lee left for Image Comics. His art simply comes alive on the page. So let him bring the X-Men back from the dead.

Make it happen Marvel.

We will be watching.

Black Panther: We Are All The Same Tribe

black_panther_2018_4k-3840x2400(Originally published on ComicBook-Underground.com)

A movie is not always just about one thing. There are layers.
On the surface the Black Panther is an excellent superhero film. Well-acted and direct, with some stunning special effects. They brought the fictional nation of Wakanda to life before our eyes.
Chadwick Boseman and Michael B Jordan were perfect as two sides of the same coin. The Black Panther and Killmonger. It was a nice illustration of the sins of the father coming home. But that is not the whole story.
Director Ryan Coogler manages to weave multiple themes into one beautiful tapestry. There are minor missteps. Slight things that as a comic fan stood out to me but the average viewer might not even notice.
They explore some big ideas. And not just the low hanging fruit.
Yes, they explore the treatment of different ethnicities by those that wield power across the planet. Jordan’s character references the plight of slaves taken from Africa during the era of Colonization wanting to die a free man rather than live in a cage.
Beyond that they ask the question: Should those of us that have the means help the rest of the world? Is there a responsibility to care for our neighbors?
Can a world leader simply close their borders and ask everyone else on the planet to fend for themselves?
Yes, there is that temptation. The argument that it is not our problem, that we need to take care of our own house first.
This is a very ‘American’ question. It has come up time and time again and they do a nice job of framing their argument about it.
Ultimately we are all brothers across the world no matter how often we try to blow each other up. Taking care of each other is the only way we can take care of this Earth. Putting aside our own arrogance and selfishness to reach out with basic human compassion can save the world.
We are all the same tribe. We are brothers. We are sisters. We are family.
Time to act like it.

Creators Create

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(Originally published on ComicBook-Underground.com)

Creators create. At least that is how it used to be.
August 28, 2017…Jack Kirby would be 100 on that day. An entire Century old. Yes, I do realize that Kirby did in fact pass away twenty-three years ago. I do not care. He was our King.
In an industry known for creativity and creators. Known for worlds, no universes created out of nothing. He was the King. He was the Alpha and the Omega. He was Jack.
Before this starts sounding like and overdue eulogy for Kirby (I am clearly not qualified for that), let us get to the meat of the matter.
In comics we celebrate creators like no other creative enterprise celebrates them. Jack and Stan, Bob Kane, Bill Finger. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. We celebrate these visionaries who gave us our new world pantheons of gods. They gave us our mythology.
So why are we so more willing to change characters that someone else sculpted out of the ether, than actually create something new for us all?
The new Wally West, Lady Thor, Two Nova’s, Two Blue Beetle’s, Two Hulk’s. Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson have all carried the mantle of Captain America, please don’t get me started with John Walker (US Agent). We even have AzBats coming back. A beloved character will be replaced by an unfamiliar face. Oh there are usually storyline reasons: Thor is unworthy, Captain America got old, Batman had his back broken or let’s kill the hero just for a little while. Other times it is for the sake of diversity, yes I am looking at you Wally West. The fact is the character has changed. Sometimes for a few months, other times for years.
There have been some cases when I have enjoyed these changes. The current Mighty Thor title is excellent. Whether that is because of the novelty of a female Thor or the excellent creative team of Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman is up for debate. Other times I find myself biding my time until they ultimately bring the original back. A good friend does not mind these changes. He looks at it as a way to simply refresh the brand. Maybe I am just yelling at the kids to get off my lawn.
Is it that hard to create something new instead. New heroes, new villains. We are in the business of creating are we not. There are roadblocks to be sure. Building an audience is not easy. Lack of ownership of our creations is a reality that needs to change. But the joy of discovering Gambit. Harley Quinn. Or seeing Deadpool for the very first time. That is not something that can be replaced by putting someone else in another characters suit in their mythology.
Let the creators create. Let the next generation dream of building their own worlds.

Blowing Up The Marvel Universe-part three

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What started as a two-part column has morphed into three. Sometimes good ideas cannot be contained. So here we have the final entry in my recreation of the Marvel Universe, hope you enjoy.

For the second part look here.

When we last left our intrepid heroes (I just always wanted to write that)…

As the RISE event continues it is clear the world needs its heroes. A great danger has risen in the Savage Land while the worlds premier superteams still stand down. The fifth week re-introduces some old favorites:

Daredevil

While other heroes deal otherworldly threats, someone must protect the common man. Daredevil is just that someone.

Nightcrawler

Kurt Wagner has lost his friends, he even lost his life. He never gave up hope.

X-Force

Cannonball and Dani Moonstar bring together X-Force once more in search of their one-time mentor Cable.

Rocket Raccoon

Rocket (do not call him a Raccoon) is one of a kind, and he plans on staying that way. While not saving the other Guardians Rocket will take any job if the price is right..

The entire rebuilding of the Marvel line has been building to this point. One of the things I wanted to do with this reboot was pare down the seemingly thousands of X-books and Avenger related titles. I wanted to break things down to their barest essentials.

As the world of men faces a dire threat the worlds greatest heroes return from their self-imposed exile. Week six commences:

The Uncanny X-Men

Scott Summers returns from space to lead the team he was born to lead. Who will make up this new team of X-Men?

Ryder and Vaughn

Quasar was the Protector of the Universe, but he couldn’t save his best friend. Now he crosses galaxies to bring Nova back.

The Avengers

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes return with Hawkeye at the helm. Iron Man, Scarlet Witch and Thor stand at his side as they forge a new team of Avengers.

Finding their way past the guilt of past failings the heroes of the Marvel Universe return to where they belong. Between the people they have pledged to protect and that which threatens them.

When it comes to a choice of them or no one, these heroes will always make the right choice. They will RISE.

It was a fun ride, but difficult. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

 

Blowing Up the Marvel Universe-part two

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This is the second part of my column relating my own way of restarting the Marvel Universe, you can find the rest here
Putting a universe back together is a gargantuan task. While looking to the future you must respect the past. That brings us to week two:

Fantastic Four

The first family of the Marvel Universe returns-battered but still standing.

A Man Called Doom

Some call him Lord and Master, others call him monster. For one and all he will forever be known as Doom.

Captain America

He is a hero from another time, is this former soldier running out of time?

The Invincible Iron Man

As Tony Stark struggles with guilt and self-doubt the Mandarin makes his return.

The Black Widow

Natasha Romanov was not always a Super Hero, a fact that she is about to be reminded of…

Dr. Bruce Banner-the Incredible Hulk

He is the scientist, he is the Monster. For once he can be both at once. Watch out world.

The picture starts to come into focus as the 2nd issue of RISE arrives. Heroes begin to determine if there is a place for them in the world they failed, as new threats begin to gather. When taking things apart like this you cannot simply go back to the status quo. Things must change, decisions must be made as we enter week three. New heroes step up while the familiar faces find their way.

Excalibur

The sword is drawn…that sword is Excalibur. Kitty Pride brings Captain Britain, Nightcrawler and Rachel Summers back together to protect their world.

Ms. Marvel

Kamala Khan is still discovering what it means to be Ms. Marvel and to be a hero

New Warriors

Justice, Speedball, Kid Nova, Spider-Girl, White Tiger and Reptil come together as the New Warriors. If the Avengers wont do their job then the Warriors will.

Captain Marvel

Carol Danvers remembers the previous Captain Marvel, she only hopes she can live up to that legacy.

Gambit

Remy LeBeau is used to being the one stealing things, when an ancient treasure is stolen from the Thieves Guild Gambit must take action.

The Young Marvels

Kevin Green is the new hero Prime. He joins Ms. Marvel, Patriot, Hulkling and Kate Bishop as the New Marvels trying to find their way as heroes without a net.

With the Avengers and the X-men still nowhere to be found teams begin to form to fill the void as we enter the fourth week former allies come together once again.

The Defenders

Doctor Stephen Strange, Namor, the Silver Surfer and the Incredible Hulk come together once again to battle other worldly threats. How long will it last this time?

The Invaders

Captain America is an Avenger-no more. The Invaders are his team now. Joining him is Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier. Who else will answer their call?

X-Factor

The government-sponsored mutant team is back. But who exactly is the new team?

The InHumans

Black Bolt has returned when the InHumans need him most.

The end is within sight. A few more tweaks and we will have seen the Marvel Universe rise from its own ashes.

Hopefully in part three I can stick the landing.

 

Blowing Up the Marvel Universe-part one

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Marvel Comics has their usual big events coming up. Avengers/X-Men Axis, Time Runs Out follow quickly after Original Sin. There are rumblings. There are suggestions. The popular thought is that Marvel Comics is thinking of doing a company wide reboot. After all DC Comics managed to do a mostly successful one with their New 52. So Marvel taking a shot at one would not be a surprise.

So how should we proceed…

Don’t call it a Reboot…

This should simply be a reset. We are not rebuilding the wheel here, we do not need to build the universe over from scratch. Keep all of the previous continuity. That was the mistake DC made. Fans wondered what counted and what did not. Problems can be fixed through the stories without saying that this or that never happened. They do it all the time in the comic book world so why not here and now.

So start with a tragedy, not something born of some super-villain. Something born of everyday life-natural disaster, political conflict, terrorism, pick one. The heroes failed. They had one job, protect the everyman and woman out there from harm. They did not. They failed and they only have themselves to blame. Everything falls apart. No more X-men, no Avengers. The world turns.

After the fall, heroes must RISE.

Start with an eight issue bi-weekly event series titled RISE. It would tell the story of the heroes coming back from the brink to once again do the jobs they were meant for.

During the first week of the event series I would start releasing new series slowly. A few at a time, until you have the starting line of books released. Here we go…

Tales to Astonish

an anthology series telling stories from across the entirety of the Marvel Universe. With the ongoing feature-Old Man Fury.

The first issue would feature a story about Old Man Fury(the original Nick Fury) and Samuel L. Fury battling the supernatural force of nature Fury in an epic tale that has to be called “A Boatload of Fury’s”

Illuminati

They broke it, now is time for them to fix it. The Illuminati were the shadows manipulating things behind the scenes. They thought they knew best. They were wrong. Now they are back to make up for past mistakes. Only thing is…what is the Red Skull doing with them?

The Amazing Spider Man

Peter Parker is the most pure, most human of the heroes. How does he balance being a hero with dealing with how they all have failed?

Thor-God of Thunder

Even Gods can fall. For all his power some things are beyond even Thor’s reach.

FireArm

Alec Swan was once an elite special agent, now an P.I. He lost friends when the heroes failed. Even now he continues to be drawn into the heroes world, whether he likes it or not.

Deadpool

Wade Wilson is the Merc with the Mouth. Mad, bad and dangerous to know. He may be crazy but we still love him.

Guardians of the Galaxy

They may protect the galaxy but Earth is still Peter Quill’s home. Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Groot and even Rocket Raccoon definitely have an interest in the little blue planet.

Now we are rolling downhill. Just getting started. So how exactly do you rebuild and entire comic universe? Check out part two to find out…

 

 

 

Guardians of the Galaxy-buncha losers…

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A talking raccoon and a tree walk into a bar…

I was sold on this movie from the get go. Not from the first scenes, not even from the first trailers they released. But from the very first I heard that the movie was being made. They had me from the word go.

When it was announced the Guardians of the Galaxy would star a walking tree of few words and a sarcastic raccoon many were beyond skeptical. Me, I thought it was brilliant. Yes I already had some familiarity with the characters, even without that I loved it.

It is fun. That is all. Fun. Too often movies miss out on that element of film-making, the joy.

What brought me in was not that we had another superhero movie, it was that it was a space hero movie. From Star Wars to Star Trek and beyond I love sci-fi and space movies. I cut my teeth on Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers on TV in the early eighties. More recently I found unending joy in Firefly and Farscape (one of the best sci-fi series ever), even if both series ended before their time.

There are no true superhero movies. You just have movies staring superheroes. It is that simple. Whether it is a cop movie or fantasy or action-adventure story, simply add a superhero and you have your superhero movie.

What made this awesome was taking superheroes and putting them in space. All the questions about realism go out the window, because you are already taking a leap of faith setting it in a far corner of the galaxy.

Guardians did a wonderful job of introducing unknown characters(to most of the audience) in short order. Even better it let you care about them. Yes it was heavy on the laughs, even in the face of danger. That is ok too. It is human, even if the characters are not.

Even after we get used to the jokes they managed to turn it around and shine a light on what loss these characters have suffered. Star Lord was taken from his home as a child, Gamora tortured and turned into a weapon by her adoptive father, Drax’s family was slaughtered, Rocket did not ask to be made and remade and experimented on. Groot is the purest of these characters. The best friend of Rocket he only speaks two sentences in the whole movie: “I am Groot” over and over again, and towards the end of the movie “We are Groot”. Groot had found his family. In the end they discover that they are each others family.

We all have been losers at one point or another. As Rocket said, “We all have dead people”. They come together because they are losers, people who have lost.

We could all learn something from these losers.