The latest Nazi-stomping pile of Marvel Comics related news items from Sept. 7th - 9th, 2013!
"All-New Marvel NOW" push for late 2013!
A year ago, Marvel Comics began their "Marvel NOW!" (exclamation included) editorial push to relaunch some old titles as well as bring some newer ones back into circulation (or expand on Avengers, Spider-Man, or X-Men books as usual). On the whole it has been a success, so this winter Marvel is prepping for the sequel to that push, "All-New Marvel NOW" (apparently without the exclamation, because it's newer). To this end Marvel will be releasing an extra issue of Avengers as well as offering two more relaunches of older properties for Christmas week, as covered by USA Today. This new publishing push begins Dec. 24th with the release of "Avengers #24.NOW", which isn't to be confused with other annuals or "point one" issues, written by longtime Avengers writer Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Esad Ribic.
From there, new Marvel titles will kick off in January 2014, which will include "All-New Invaders" and "Inhuman". The first of those, "All-New Invaders", will be drawn by Steve Pugh and written by James Robinson - who last made internet headlines for fleeing from "Earth-2" in particular and DC Comics in general back in May. While Marvel Comics (the Timely Comics) combined all of their World War II era heroes into a team as the All-Winners Squad in "All Winners Comics #19" back in 1946, a different group of heroes of the era were merged into a retroactive continuity team in "Avengers #71", circa 1969. From there, "The Invaders" did get their own series of Nazi-busting adventures during the 1970's with various returns since then. Captain America, Namor, the original Human Torch (the android Jim Hammond), and Winter Soldier (formerly Cap's partner, Bucky). Considering Robinson is best known for long runs on DC Comics titles such as "Starman" and "JSA", and has long had interest in older legacy heroes.
"Inhuman" will be written by Matt Fraction (whose star as a top seller has seriously fallen since "Fear Itself") and drawn by Joe Madureira. "Joe Mad" has proven unable to drew more than three or four issues at a monthly rate for years, yet remains a top draw artist for his work on the X-Men in the 90's as well as his subsequent work as a video game designer. The series will revolve around new characters as the mists which empower the Inhumans themselves are released into the general population, revealing a new group of Inhumans. The class of characters debuted in "Fantastic Four #45" from 1965 as a subsection of humanity who were experimented upon by Kree aliens in prehistoric times. Standing in for "other", or minorities at times, their use for that metaphor sometimes overlaps with mutants in the X-Men. There have been four attempts to give the Inhumans their own series since 1975, and none of them have lasted beyond twelve issues; the last stab from 2003-2004 also sought to star newer characters. Perhaps the bigger mystery is whether this latest stab at the series is a sign that the property or the characters are set to appear in any Marvel Studios films in the future.
Courtroom drama: Is Marvel two for two this week?
As the characters of Marvel Comics have gone on to become multi-billion dollar grossing enterprises with the company's own studio with Disney as well as licensed studios overseas, more lawsuits over ownership rights have arisen from old creators. Last week, a judge dismissed Stan Lee Media's attempt to claim ownership of characters co-created by Stan Lee during the Silver Age via a multi-million dollar lawsuit at the request of Marvel and Disney. The judge agreed with the argument put forth by Marvel and Disney that Stan Lee sold any ownership rights he had to those characters back in 1998 when he formed Stan Lee Media in exchange for shares in Marvel stock when the company went public. Despite his name in the title, Stan Lee himself left "Stan Lee Media" back in 2000, and ever since that company has been owned by co-founder Peter F. Paul. It was dismissed "with prejudice", which means that the company cannot attempt this suit again.
In more recent legal news, Marvel Comics and "Ghost Rider" co-creator Gary Friedrich announced a settlement of their six year legal crusade this morning. The Johnny Blaze version of the character which Friedrich co-created in 1972's "Marvel Spotlight #5" was claimed by the then freelance writer to have reverted to his ownership in 2001. A court ruled in Marvel's favor in 2011, but that verdict was overturned in June 2012 and had been set to a new trial this December. Side stories included Marvel giving Friedrich "cease and desist" letters for selling Ghost Rider artwork and memorabilia at conventions and Friedich seeming to not include artist Mike Ploog in his appeal. Ghost Rider himself was licensed out to Sony, who produced two films with the character since 2007. The details of the settlement were kept mum but it likely involved a compensation figure which Friedrich found suitable, as much settlements involving lawsuits do.
"Ant-Man" now bound for summer 2015!
With some comic book films being pushed back, Marvel Studios is actually pushing up one of their next films. "Ant-Man", directed and co-written by Edgar Wright, had been set for release November 6th, 2015. It has now been pushed up to July 31st, 2015. That summer will be extremely packed with comic blockbuster films with "Avengers: Age of Ultron" set for May 1st and Warner Brothers' "Superman/Batman" set for July 17th (not to mention the next "Star Wars" film being tentatively set for that summer as well). It may be likely that someone at Marvel Studios realized what a tough sell "Ant-Man" may have with audiences, so releasing the film with memories of a second "Avengers" film fresh in audiences' minds may produce a bounce effect in terms of box office dollars.