Currently the Marvel universe as we know it does not exist.
There has been an incursion, and all alternate Earths, including the Marvel and Ultimate Marvel universes have been destroyed. All that remains is Secret Wars, set on Battle World, a patchwork planet made up of the various alternate realities that exist in the Marvel canon.
The Marvel universe is dead, but throughout October and November it will return with all the titles restarting with new storylines and number one issues. While little is know about how this universe will work, it clearly has elements of a lot of different continuities living together. Over 40 new titles have been announced so far so I’m going to run down the five I’d be looking to keep an eye on when they return.
1) Iron Man – Upgraded
While it’s safe to say Spider-Man will always be the face of Marvel comics, it’s clear that Iron Man is not the B-list character he used to be as he is central in all the promotional material. Marvel seems to be positioning Invincible Iron Man as the flagship title of this new universe. It’s writer is Marvel’s top gun Brian Bendis. Bendis has spent the last few years neck-deep in X-Men lore and has left the rest of the Marvel universe to get on with it, but before that his multiple Avengers’ series set the tone for the line. Bendis has also spear-headed a number of events such as Secret Invasion, Seige and Age of Ultron. He has been Marvel’s MVP for many years. Invincible Iron Man may see him back in the driver’s seat for this new universe. Tony Stark is clearly the centre of the movie line and this could be when the books start to follow suit. Bendis’ Sorkin-style dialogue is perfect for a Robert Downey Jr, inspired Tony Stark. Bendis is paired up with David Marquez, his Ultimate Spider-Man partner, whose drawings can deliver big action and real emotion befitting a flagship title.
2) Old Man Logan – Older. Wiser. Sharper.
An ageing, time displaced Wolverine living in the new Marvel Universe. This is a book that sounds too silly, but honestly I could not be more excited. Firstly there’s the creative team of Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino. The pair previously worked together on the New 52 version of Green Arrow and delivered possibly the best run in recent memory. Lemire was able to tell a multi-arc story that incorporated elements of action, adventure and fantasy, while Sorrentino’s art made the book’s pages stand head and shoulders above so many of the New 52’s over designed concepts. Sorrentino is currently already working at Marvel on a Secret War’s tie-in, loosely based on Mark Millar’s original Old Man Logan storyline and it looks amazing. Secondly the possibilities of the Old Man Logan are limitless. A Wolverine who was tricked into killing all his team-mates before retiring from being a super hero now finds himself out of time, before the horrific events occurred and surrounded by a world he thought he had lost. This is a Wolverine whose been to hell and back, and is not going to risk loosing his life again.
3) Doctor Strange – Some surgery requires a scalpel – some, an axe
Next year fandoms will collide as Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch hangs up his deer-stalker for a cape and becomes Marvel’s Doctor Strange. Not surprising then that Marvel would launch the first Doctor Strange on-going in close to 20 years. There are a number of strong Strange mini-series, but this is Marvel’s chance to return their Doctor to prominence. The creative team is certainly able to deliver quality. Jason Aaron is currently in the middle of a strong Thor run, showing that he has a good grasp on the mystical realm, while artist Chris Bachelo has drawn Dr. Strange in the past while he was working on Amazing Spider-Man. That snow filled arc is visually stunning and contrasts the bleak weather with the dark spirits. The book promises big ideas and these two creators are capable of delivering.
4) Spider-Man – Welcome to the Marvel universe, Miles Morales. Hope you survive the experience!
My excitement towards this book shares similar reasons to books one and two on this list. The creative team for this book is again Brian Bendis, who has been teamed up with Sara Pichelli. This is the creative team that originally launched Miles Morales as the Ultimate Spider-Man. Like Old Man Logan, Miles is a character who has lived most of his life in a pocket universe, separate from the main Marvel Universe. Now his original creators are going to transition him into a world that already has a very much alive Peter Parker. This book comes with some trepidation, will Miles work in a bigger universe, will his great supporting cast feature in the book, will he remember the Ultimate Universe? These are all questions that I hope will be addressed, but mostly I am happy to see Miles Morales will survive the Secret Wars. While the Amazing Spider-Man continues in a direction I have lost interest in, I’m sure that watching Miles Morales integrate in his new universe will be an entertaining ride.
5) All New, All Different Avengers – Earth’s Most Dedicated Heroes
For the last year or so the books I have been enjoying most from Marvel featured some new takes of familiar characters, namely Miles Morales (Spider-Man), Sam Alexender (Nova), Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) and Jane Foster (Thor). Now these fresh incarnations are teaming up Iron-Man, the Vision and the New Captain America to form a team of Avengers. The team has already appeared together in May’s Free Comic Book Day preview, and it was a lot of fun. The mixture of old and new characters exhibited a great chemistry together, and this is something Mark Waid and his two artists can explore to get length.
So those are the titles I’ll be watching closely as the Marvel Universe returns. What about you, what books are you looking forward to? There’s still a few characters MIA, and some books still to be announced, is there anything you hope to see?