We knew that Marvel was setting us up for something big, and Mashable dropped the details this morning. Once the current Secret Wars event has wrapped up, Marvel will completely reboot its comics, with every title starting over at #1. Some will be going away, some will be coming back, some will be brand new. Eight months will have elapsed in-universe since the Secret Wars event, and every character will be changed fundamentally by the fallout.
For those who have multi-verse whiplash, here’s the full list of characters revealed, starting left and going clockwise:
- Spider-Gwen (from the Spider-verse event)
- Amazing Spider-Man (who might not be Peter?)
- Ultimate Spider-Man (from the Ultimate universe)
- Red Wolf (Who? Yeah, I didn’t know either.)
- Ms. Marvel (Don’t mess.)
- Thor (recently revealed as decidedly mortal)
- Iron Man
- Steve Rogers
- Captain America
- Black Panther
- Agent Coulson
With the exception of Red Wolf, there’s a very pointed focus on characters featured (or soon to be featured) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and cartoons. Does this mean we’ll be seeing more comics that mirror what’s happening in multimedia? If so, it’s a savvy move, one that would give Marvel the opportunity to tell stories in those formats that are enhanced, rather than muddled, by the comics. At the very least, it’s a chance to align the comics so that they reflect what’s becoming the more familiar face of the Marvel Universe.
That said, I can’t help but notice who’s not a part of this announcement. While Wolverine was given lip-service in the Mashable interview, there are no mutants featured in the Universe reveal. The X-Men are, of course, a part of the reboot, but it seems Marvel is content to let its merry mutants play second-fiddle to those properties to which it owns the cinematic and TV rights. It’s a far cry from a decade ago when you couldn’t swing a (shadow)cat without hitting an X-Men member…and Wolverine.
Change for change’s sake is always worrisome when it comes to comics; but the vibe I get is that this streamlining is what the Marvel comic universe needed to revitalize itself. The editors and creators are respectful of what’s come before, so we Marvelphiles don’t need to bemoan the loss of our deep trivial knowledge just yet. Much like when the Ultimate universe was launched, I’m excited to see what things look like when we start fresh this fall.
Update: This evening, Marvel dropped a second teaser image that shows off some of the other characters that will be launching in September. There’s Thing! And X-23 sporting a very Wolverine-y outfit! And Citizen V? And is that Thor’s godkiller axe that Dr. Strange is wielding? Coooooool.
A lot has been said, here and elsewhere, about diversity in comics, mostly implying that it’s a bad thing. This is my take: if all you do is pander to your current audience, you might keep them happy; but you’re probably not going to attract fresh fans.
This evening, it was all I could do to keep my kids from fingerprinting up the screen as they asked questions about the characters. They’re excited in a way that I rarely see – and I’m talking about kids who could properly identify Dr. Strange at the age of 4. Marvel is an entertainment company and the way they stay in business is to keep people engaged. If you don’t see anything in these images that interests you, well, then it’s possible you’re not the target audience anymore. You either need to shift your expectations and embrace some new possibilities, or stick to your back issues.