The more that the comic book industry (or at least the direct market as dominated by the "big two") rely on crossover events to jazz up sales, the more of them fans will get. To this end, Marvel Comics are barely midway through their annual summer event, "Original Sin", yet have begun revving the "hype machine" for their next crossover event, "AXis". Yesterday, Marvel held an official conference call with online media sites to spill more details about this series, officially called "Avengers & X-Men: Axis".
The series will begin in October and will be written by Rick Remender, current writer of "Uncanny Avengers" and former writer of "Uncanny X-Force" and "Secret Avengers". The series will ship a whopping three issues a month from October until December, for a grand total of nine issues to the story. This means a revolving door of artists, who are listed as Adam Kubert, Leinil Yu, Terry Dodson, and Jim Cheung (respectively). This is seen as a series which serves as a bookend to "Avengers vs. X-Men" from 2012 as well as spiraling out of the events of "Uncanny Avengers", where a "unity team" of Avengers (Capt. America, Wasp, Thor, Wonder Man, Scarlet Witch) and X-Men (Havok, Rogue, Wolverine) have teamed up to face no end of trials and tribulations across space and time (literally). The villain for the piece is the Red Skull (or at least yet another clone of the original, who was slain in "Captain America: Reborn") who has given himself psychic powers by grafting the deceased Professor X's brain into himself, and is seen wearing the armor of Onslaught. In "Uncanny Avengers" he leads his own team of super powered "S-Men", and cover art shows him working alongside Hobgoblin, Sabretooth, Loki, Dr. Doom, and Carnage. This represents a coloring change as original promo images depicted the Green Goblin, rather than Hobgoblin.
Remender notes how the seeds for this event have been sown by his previous stories, and that it is allowing him to write more characters than he ever has before. In addition to his "unity team" (especially Havok and Wanda), characters expected to have major roles include Iron Man, Deadpool, Magneto, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Spider-Man, and possibly even Nova. The Red Skull is described as an ultimate villain in this piece, with the island of Genosha being a centerpiece to this event. In addition to the nine issue event itself, there will be crossover tie-in's with "Uncanny Avengers", "Loki: Agent of Asgard", "Magneto", "Captain America", and "Wolverine & the X-Men". Considering that several of these titles are already struggling in sales, the timing for the boost would be impeccable. To a degree, this event seems to reflect some of the criticisms of other events in that it teams up nearly everyone's favorite hero against some fairly well known and obvious villains. It will remain to be seen whether sales for this event will be high so soon after "Original Sin" or whether a long fabled "event fatigue" among retailers and readers could arise.
"Ultimate FF" is canceled by August!
After fourteen years, Marvel's "Ultimate" imprint remains in an awkward state of limbo within the company. As a source of innovation and new blood talent (for both comics and media adaptations) at the turn of the century, it has devolved into its' own mess of continuity which isn't anywhere near as hot as it once was. Aside for various incarnations of "Ultimate Spider-Man" as written by Brian M. Bendis, all of the "Ultimate" titles have teetered around cancellation for years now. Add into the mix the swift end of the reboot of "Ultimate FF" after a mere six issues - with regular writer Joshua Hale Fialkov stating that his last issue will be the fifth. The series followed Sue Storm (Invisible Woman) leading Iron Man, Falcon, and Machine Man as a team in this alternate universe. Sales for May's second issue fell to nearly 17,000 copies, which is well below cancellation range for most ongoing titles at Marvel. Other "Ultimate" books, such as "All New Ultimates", are not faring much better. Even "Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man", the latest reboot by Bendis, averaged middling sales of just under 46,000 copies as a peak from which it will surely fall by June or July.
The fact remains that although Bendis' "USM" sells modestly enough to keep around (in addition to the progressive victory in the creation of Miles Morales), but any other "Ultimate" book has struggled to survive a year for quite some time. The wise thing to do would be to simply end the imprint aside for Bendis' lone title, which can happily exist alongside his regular work on two X-Men books as well as his various creator owned "Icon" books such as "Powers". However, this solution is far too reasonable, so expect yet more futile reboots of spare Ultimate books by the end of this year, or next.
Are Marvel Studios "entertaining" a new Hulk film?
In an interview with Digital Spy, Mark Ruffalo (who has played Bruce Banner/Hulk in "The Avengers", "Iron Man 3" and soon to be "Avengers: Age of Ultron") revealed that Marvel Studios is leaning closer towards a new "Hulk" film than they were two years ago. "There is some consideration for it, but still nothing definitive," Ruffalo reveals, as he states that he'd be game for starring in his own "Hulk" film if given the chance. This would mark the third film attempt for the Hulk after 2003's "Hulk" (via Universal Studios, starring Eric Bana) and 2008's "Incredible Hulk" (via Marvel Studios, starring Edward Norton). Both saw less than pleasant box office sales despite the character succeeding on the small screen via a TV show (as well as a series of TV movies) starring Lou Ferrigno and Bill Bixby from 1977-1990.
Although by no means is this a done deal, one could expect Marvel Studios may approve of Ruffalo getting to star in his own Hulk reboot before any heroine gets a chance at her own film (which must be strictly perfect and make box office records to be considered a hit, as she won't get three chances like Hulk or Punisher get in cinema). Regardless, considering the critical reaction to Ruffalo's performance as the Hulk as well as the "Planet Hulk" story seeming to match Marvel Studios' space kick, a new Hulk film in the near future could be both inevitable and successful.