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Marvel Comics news: Silk, Angela, Storm's new series and Wolverine's "death"

Behold, another retcon character!

Over the past weekend, the major Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, or C2E2, took place in Illinois and as such, major news items emerged from the "house of ideas"!

"Silk", second person bitten by the radioactive spider, to come via Original Sin/ASM crossover!

"Original Sin" is the annual crossover which has officially begun but will kick into high gear in May, June, and July with a regular series, an anthology spin-off and no end of crossover tie-in's with regular ongoing series. This includes the recently relaunched "Amazing Spider-Man" and the theme will be "secrets". Because promotions are the name of the game, Marvel Comics are continuing the practice of "spoiling" the secrets to their own stories to generate buzz - even in stories where the secrets are half the premise. In any case, among the biggest of these is the revelation that in July's "Amazing Spider-Man #4" (by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos), a woman who was bitten by the same radioactive spider that empowered Peter Parker back in 1962's "Amazing Fantasy #15" will appear for the first time. All that is known is her name will be "Silk", that webbing influences both her looks and powers, and senior editor Nick Lowe promises that her introduction and tenure on the book will be important. It would have been a bigger shock had Lowe claimed otherwise.

A story such as this is said to contain "retroactive continuity" (or a "retcon"), which has been a long over used tactic that writers of serial fiction employ to add weight to a new character that said character wouldn't otherwise have. Comic writers have become just as cynical as their audience and thus "retcons" are often employed lest readers ignore the story because it "doesn't matter" because it features a new character. Left unsaid is that the entire reason readers react this way is because Marvel (and DC) Comics have used the annual crossover event schedule to drill this lesson (that only "important", not good, stories matter) into their collective minds for the past decade. Regardless, with the release of Sony's "Amazing Spider-Man 2" this weekend, this summer will be big for the wall-crawler, and this is a good tactic to keep interest at a fever pitch now that "Superior Spider-Man" has ended and "Spider-Verse" isn't for another few months.

Contrary to what Nick Lowe or others may suggest, this is not the first story featuring the fate of the radioactive spider that empowered Peter, and any potential secondary victim. Garth Ennis in 2001's "Spider-Man: Tangled Web #1" introduced a new villain named "the Thousand", who was a man who literally ate the aforementioned spider and transformed into a being composed entirely of spiders. Although fans debate as to whether "Tangled Web" was "in continuity", the 2006 edition of the "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe" ran a biography of him and treated his existence as canon. This also does not include other various spider-related women in the Marvel Universe, such as Jessica Drew, Julia Carpenter, Mattie Franklin (who is dead) and Anya Corazon; only the latter two had origins which in any way related to Spider-Man's adventures. Corazon, as both "Arana" and "Spider-Girl", was given two shots at her own ongoing series in 2005 and 2011, neither of which lasted longer than a year. Drew had her own ongoing series from 1978-1983, but in modern times not even the A-list creative team of Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev could keep a series of hers afloat beyond a year. Furthermore, this month also saw the release of the graphic novel, "Spider-Man: Family Business" by Mark Waid, James Robinson and Gabriele Dell'Otto, which retroactively introduced Peter Parker's long lost sister, Theresa. It seems that "Silk" is being positioned to be more "important" by being even more firmly attached to Spider-Man himself, and it will remain to be seen how fans respond, and how heavily she is promoted. The shame of it all is that perhaps these tactics wouldn't be needed if the market supported quality and writers and editors had enough faith in the quality of their creations to let them stand on their own.

"Original Sin" to reveal Spawn's Angela is Thor's sister!

Last year during "Age of Ultron", the Neil Gaiman creation formerly seen in Image Comics' "Spawn", the minor angelic warrior Angela, was revealed to now exist in the Marvel Universe following his legal victory over ownership rights to her from Todd McFarlane. She was added to the cast of the relaunched "Guardians of the Galaxy" series, although the surrounding buzz seems to have been a collective murmur to the effect of, "Angela still exists?" or "How very random". Not willing to quit on what was likely a business transaction with a very popular talent, Angela will become even more important in the upcoming mini series, "Thor & Loki: the Tenth Realm". It will be written by Jason Aaron ("Thor: God of Thunder") and Al Ewing ("Loki: Agent of Asgard") and drawn by Lee Garbett and Simon Bianchi. The big "Original Sin" style secret is that in this universe, Angela is the long lost sister of both Thor and Loki. This is fascinating considering that Loki was never Thor's blood relation in the comic book canon. Considering that the big revelation at the start of J. Michael Straczynski's "Thor" from 2007-2008 was that longtime ally Balder was in fact Thor's brother (not to mention Vidar, another half-brother, as revealed in 1984's "Thor Annual #12"), it stands to reason when Thor will encounter someone who isn't his long lost kin in some mega-hyped adventure.

"X-Men" updates: "Storm" gets a series, "Wolverine" seemingly dies, and "AXis"!

Naturally, the "X-Men" panel at C2E2 was chock full of news updates about what the coming year has for Marvel's merry mutants. The biggest was more confirmations and revelations about "Three Months to Live", the previously reported story in which Wolverine will seemingly die in October's "Wolverine #12". This will happen a mere year after Wolverine's ongoing title was relaunched with a previously earth shattering change - that Wolverine had lost his powers and was now "mortal". Writer Paul Cornell has stressed that the death as promised will come, and the aftermath will be shown in various X-Men comics under the banner "A World without Wolverine" (since Marvel did not take this column's suggested banner title from March, "Mourning for a Midget"). Either ignorant or in denial of the endless cycle of deaths and rebirths of major characters that Marvel and DC have constructed for the sake of short term sales since 1993, Cornell and the various X-Men editors can only breathlessly insist the story will be "part of the character's canon forever" and that it is "important" and fans should not simply take knowing guesses as to how soon Wolverine will be back as per corporate obligation. Having debuted as an underdog and little liked new member of the X-Men in the 1970's, Wolverine has become not only the most popular, and economically exploited, member of the "X-Men" franchise, but of Marvel Comics in general. Despite this, his own solo series has struggled to sell above 50,000 copies an issue for several years now, and not even the almighty Logan is immune to a cycle of peaks and valleys. It could actually do the character a bit of good if this "rest" were to actually last for a couple of years (if not longer) to allow his fans to miss him, as well as for other characters to fill the gap.

Additional big news was the announcement of a "Storm" ongoing series, the first in the long history of Ororo Munroe. The series debuts in July and sees the return of Greg Pak, best known for a long run on "Incredible Hulk" which ultimately birthed the "World War Hulk" crossover event and was immortalized in a "Planet Hulk" animated DVD feature, to Marvel Comics. It will be drawn by Victor Inanez and Pak talked about how the series will balance Storm's formidable powers with her empathy for others. Considering that Storm has been one of the most popular X-Men members since her debut in 1975 and that team members such as Wolverine, Gambit, Rogue, Nightcrawler, and X-23 have all had their shots at ongoing series (if not multiple shots), it actually is surprising that it took Marvel this long to give the "mistress of the elements" a try.

Finally, coming in "fall 2014" will be an event called "AXis", which seems to combine the "A" of Avengers and the "X" of the X-Men. Mingling the two have proven to be successful from 2012-2013, so it isn't surprising that this well is being tapped again.

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