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Marvel Comics news: "AXis", "X-Men: DOFP", "Ant-Man" and Netflix's "Daredevil"

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First look at upcoming crossover event, "AXis"!

Apparently, one can never have enough crossover events at Marvel Comics. This year has seen the start of "Original Sin" for the summer and "Spider-Verse" scheduled to start up later, but it seemed that the X-Men titles were left in the cold. Now, Marvel Comics have given both retailers and fans their first real glimpse of one. Titled, "AXis", it symbolizes an union of the Avengers and the X-Men franchises and seems to spin out of events from Rick Remender's "Uncanny Avengers". That title was one of the first series promoted under the original "Marvel NOW" editorial push, and has sunken into middling sales as it goes deep into an alternate reality story. August's issue of PREVIEWS will feature a team of villains drawn by Jim Cheung, and Remender will probably be writing "AXis", slated for "fall" 2014.

From left to right, it seems to unite Green Goblin (presumably Norman Osborn), Loki, Victor Creed, Red Skull (in Onslaught's armor), Doctor Doom, and Carnage. Several of these villains last united as "the Cabal" during the "Dark Reign" era of 2008-2009; that included Loki and Norman Osborn, who were betrayed early on by Doom. The Red Skull briefly allied with Osborn during that era in "Captain America: Reborn" before swiftly dying. Victor Creed, formerly Sabretooth, has remade himself into an organized crime boss in recent issues of "Wolverine". Carnage has long been an unstable maniac whose last alliance of villains was "Maximum Carnage" in 1993 where he, Shriek, Carrion, Demogoblin, and Doppelganger terrorized Manhattan. Although killed off at the start of "New Avengers" in 2005, Carnage has seen a rise in use in Marvel Comics, including a series of mini-series as well as appearing in "Venom" and "Scarlet Spider". Onslaught was the central villain in a 1996 crossover who spawned from Charles Xavier's darkest desires; since Red Skull now is empowered by brain tissue from the (currently) deceased Xavier, the armor makes sense, even if in an absurd manner. It defies all previous depictions of these characters to assume they could form an alliance without betraying each other almost immediately, but their name recognition alone may be what Marvel is after.

Is Miles Morales about to join the X-Men!?

When a writer handles several comics at once, it has been typical to mingle some characters from various titles. Icons such as Steve Gerber and Chris Claremont did it all the time, and Brian Bendis is no exception. The biggest wrinkle is when his titles take place across two different universes, as "All-New X-Men" and "Ultimate Spider-Man" do. Yet Bendis himself posted a look at the cover to "All-New X-Men #32" by Sara Pichelli which has Miles Morales (the current Spider-Man of the "Ultimate" universe) seemingly joining the team.

Although absurd, for once in Bendis' career this may make some internal logical sense. "All-New X-Men" features the adventures of the original founding X-Men from 1963 continuity who have time traveled to the present day (their future) and for plot convenient reasons can't go back, yet can't die lest they destroy all of reality. They are led by Kitty Pryde, and the younger version of Cyclops has just left for space (and his own spin off series, written by Greg Rucka). Since this is already a team of time travelers in a book which takes the reigns of "Age of Ultron" (also written by Bendis) in claiming that "time is broken", it isn't totally illogical that a character from another reality could meet them. Miles Morales has already entered "this" Marvel universe in "Spider-Men" (also written by Bendis), as well. The cover itself pays homage to 1980's "Uncanny X-Men #139" by John Bryne, which featured Pryde's first appearance. This would continue Bendis' efforts to promote a character he co-created (Miles Morales) into a better selling title, and as well for media purposes. Having written himself into a perfect corner in "All-New X-Men" akin to the premise of "Gilligan's Island" (if the cast leaves, the series ends), the inclusion of Miles would provide sufficient distraction for another year.

"Wolverine V" (or "X-Men: Days of Future Past") rules the Memorial Day box office!

Fox Studios' latest "X-Men" film, directed by Bryan Singer, hit theaters this Friday to feast upon the four day weekend revenue. The aim to unite the casts of the previous "X-Men" trilogy of films (essentially, everyone behind Hugh Jackman's Wolverine in posters) with the cast of "X-Men: First Class" (which Singer co-produced) proved to become one of the most expensive films Fox ever produced and promoted. It earned $91.4 million over the weekend, and $111 million as of midnight Tuesday morning in the United States. The last X-Men film which debuted on a Memorial Day weekend was 2006's "X-Men 3: the Last Stand", which earned $123 million over a four day period. Despite the huge and nostalgic cast, the story remains about Wolverine, Magneto, and Charles Xavier - the three oldest, whitest members of the franchise - as it has for the past 14 years without a moment's interruption (for good or ill). A franchise known for strong teenage, female, and non-white characters in the comics has had precious little of either for as long as Fox has been making films about them, and in many ways it represents a different era. Still, one can hardly imagine the comic book blockbusters of today happening if Fox's gamble in 1999-2000 didn't prove so successful. The film also earned over $171million overseas (most of it in China), and by next weekend should surpass last summer's "The Wolverine" as the highest grossing X-Men movie worldwide.

In related news, Sony's "Amazing Spider-Man 2" took in another $7.8 million and has a U.S. total of $187.1 million. Worldwide, it has $489 million and will surpass the tally of 2012's "Amazing Spider-Man" within the week (despite higher production costs). It will remain to be seen how this settles with Sony's bean counters. So far, "Captain America: the Winter Soldier" remains the summer blockbuster film to beat, despite it technically debuting in the spring (April).

Edgar Wright leaves "Ant-Man" without a director!

What a strange trip it's been. Ever since 2006, Edgar Wright ("Shaun of the Dead", "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World") was slated to write and director a film about "Ant-Man" for Marvel Studios. The film was finally given a release date of July 17th, 2015 and began casting. Paul Rudd was cast as Scott Lang and Michael Douglas cast as Hank Pym. However, both Wright and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige released joint statements saying that Wright would be leaving production of the film over "amicable" terms. While this is hardly the first of the Marvel Studios era of films which had some issues finding a director (both "Thor" films scrambled to find directors), this remains a stunning choice since Wright's zeal was perhaps the only reason why "Ant-Man" was getting a film apart from "The Avengers" in the first place. Without Wright, Marvel Studios may only have so many reasons to continue to produce the film; a stellar cast already picked, dollars already spent, and the quivering fear of making a film centering around any female superhero.

Netflix "Daredevil" series does a showrunner swap!

Production on the first of several TV series for Netflix, "Daredevil", is getting closer to starting. Naturally, this means time to see who is in and who is out. Original show-runner Drew Goddard has left the series, having been hired to write and direct "Sinister Six" for Sony (at least when Sony imagined "Amazing Spider-Man 2" would break box office records). In his place will be Steven S. DeKnight, who ran three seasons of "Sparticus" as well as stints on Joss Whedon shows such as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Dollhouse". Whedon is one of the "executive producers" of "Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D." alongside his brother and sister-in-law; who says nepotism is dead in Hollywood?

Gillen off "Iron Man"!

Longtime "Iron Man" comic writer Kieron Gillen is leaving the title after several years. This was an abrupt change citing "new opportunities". Expect Marvel to scramble for a replacement following a relaunch. His last issue will be the 28th.

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