"Original Sin" crossover series to spark "Original Sins" anthology!
Today, Marvel Comics' annual crossover event, "Original Sin" officially began with a zero issue put forth as a prelude (which will be reviewed in this column tomorrow). Like most "events", it will consist of a core mini series that crosses over into several ongoing titles (such as "Mighty Avengers", "Daredevil", and "Amazing Spider-Man") as well as have its' own spin off mini series. Each anthology issue will reveal the "original sins" of various characters who don't currently have their own series or appear in any team-books; the first issue promises tales involving Deathlok, Lockjaw (!) and the Young Avengers. The latter tale will be a serial one which appears in all five "Original Sins" issues and will be written by Eisner award winning writer Ryan North. Covers for the "Amazing Spider-Man" and "Daredevil" tie-in's for July have also been revealed, and will apparently be "a self-contained story that explores how a deep dark secret, unleashed in the aftermath of Uatu's murder, turns the life of an individual character upside-down".
The premise for "Original Sin", as written by Jason Aaron, is that longtime "Fantastic Four" supporting character Uatu the Watcher will be murdered, and in investigating it, Marvel's superheroes will all be exposed to hidden secrets that they all have. It matches the tone of "moral equivalence" that Marvel Comics has been infusing into the core of their comics since about 2005 which is seen as being "mature" and "deep" by claiming that all superheroes are really terrible people who have done terrible things, and what defines who is good or evil is merely who is telling the story. Brian M. Bendis, who has helped shape much of the Marvel Universe since that time via his tenure on Avengers comics as well as writing or co-writing at least half of all the crossover events held since then, is a fond supporter of this philosophy. It may be true of real life but it is questionable if it should be a perennial theme for costumed superheroes once imagined to entertain children. Regardless, "Avengers vs. X-Men" vastly outsold events such as "Age of Ultron" or even "Infinity", so these sorts of "dark hero" narratives are here to stay.
It is especially curious how devoted Marvel Comics seems to be to attempt to keep an anthology series in print, considering how unpopular they seem to be in terms of sales and how inefficient most American writers tend to be with less pages to work with. The longest running anthology series Marvel had was "Marvel Comics Presents", which had a heyday during the 1980's and 1990's (albeit with a lead Wolverine story at a time when he didn't have two titles of his own) but since then has struggled to be relaunched successfully. Since then Marvel has used crossover events as justification to publish spare anthology titles as tie-in mini series. Examples of these include "Age of Heroes" in 2010 and "Fear Itself: the Home Front" in 2011. The most successful was "AVX: Versus", which was published in 2012 during "Avengers vs. X-Men" and led to the birth of an ongoing anthology series with a similar theme, "A + X", which lasted eighteen issues before being canceled last month. Several attempts at "X-Men Unlimited", "Spider-Man Unlimited" or even a retooled "Web of Spider-Man" have sought to fill this gap, with less success. There is a niche appeal for many of these stories, since they tend to feature B, C, and D-List heroes, even if they rarely sell well. They also prove to be good exhibitions of talent.
Considering all the "hidden secrets" about to be "revealed", a better title may end up being "Retcon Summer". But, the true test will be the sales throughout the coming months.
"Captain America: the Winter Soldier" completes the box office hat trick!
Despite the debuts of another faith-based film as well as the latest Johnny Depp vehicle, Marvel Studios' latest blockbuster superhero sequel, "Captain America: the Winter Soldier" has dominated the North American box office for the third weekend in a row. It grossed $25.6 million over the past weekend and has earned $200 million domestically. Overseas, it raked in another $35.3 million overseas for a worldwide total of approximately $585 million worldwide ($200 million domestically plus $385 million overseas). While it isn't as huge a take as "The Avengers" or "Iron Man 3", it is a vast improvement over the first "Captain America" film and may end up earning more than "Thor: the Dark World" did last year.
In vaguely related news, Sony's "Amazing Spider-Man 2" debuted in two dozen foreign countries over the weekend, two weeks before its' debut in the U.S. and earned about $47 million. Sony claims that is roughly on par with the starting overseas tally to the first "Amazing Spider-Man" film. Considering that film was only slightly less expensive to produce than Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man 3" from 2007 and performed poorer at the box office five years later, Sony likely expects this sequel to earn more historic numbers to justify expanded focus on that franchise to birth their own series of films.