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Marvel Comics news: Spider-Man's reign, "Agent Carter" and X-Men's new writer

The wall-crawler rules in comics, and muddles in film!
The wall-crawler rules in comics, and muddles in film!

"Amazing Spider-Man #1" tops April comic sales as "Amazing Spider-Man 2" muddles box office sales!

Starting things off is a tale of two markets which are both being dominated by Spider-Man for the moment. The first is the realm of comic books, where the wall-crawler first debuted in 1962. Initial sales estimates (based on retail orders) from Diamond Distribution are in and the relaunch of "Amazing Spider-Man" at the end of April not only dominates sales that month, but boosted sales for the entire direct market for the first time this year. Up until now, sales of comics when compared to 2013 either held flat or were in decline. The first print of "Amazing Spider-Man #1", which was supported by at least a half dozen variant covers, sold approximately 532,586 copies despite a cover price of nearly six dollars. It is easily the best selling issue of Spider-Man's main title since 2008, although a second issue drop is expected. The final issue of "Superior Spider-Man" sold right behind it for a similar price with almost 135,500 copies ordered by retailers. It indicates that regardless of any narrative story issues with the fifteen months of "Superior Spider-Man" transitioning into a relaunch of "Amazing Spider-Man", it has been a marked success in terms of pure dollars for Marvel Comics. In fact, the entire top ten best selling comics list shows an April market dominated by Spider-Man, Batman, Hulk, the Justice League, and the start of Marvel's next crossover, "Original Sin". In addition, the latest in Marvel's original graphic novel hardcovers, "Amazing Spider-Man: Family Business", was in the top five best selling graphic novels for the month despite being the most expensive at nearly twenty five dollars. That is impressive in a graphic novel market typically dominated by Image Comics or DC Comics (or manga publishers).

Meanwhile, the box office performance of Sony's latest film in their rebooted Spider-Man film series, "Amazing Spider-Man 2", continues to see a lukewarm response in terms of summer blockbusters. It fell 59% from where it debuted last week to rake in $37.2 million in North America over the weekend. While the drop isn't any more severe than the second week drops for many of the recent Marvel Studios films, it is troubling because this is already the lowest grossing Spider-Man film to date considering the cost of production and marketing. In comparison, April's "Captain America: the Winter Soldier" has raked in $245 million and is already the best grossing U.S. film for the month of April, beating out 2002's "My Fat Greek Wedding". Overseas markets are helping to balance Sony's spread sheets with a near $70 million haul from international markets over the weekend (mostly from China). Within two weeks the film has made $403 million worldwide, and is expected to meet or slightly beat the first "Amazing Spider-Man" film's global haul from 2012. Considering the rising costs of film production for the series, although Sony is investing in a "one Spider-Man film per year" strategy, it will remain to be seen how that stretches beyond "Amazing Spider-Man 3" and a possible "Venom" spin off with rising costs and diminishing returns - dilemmas usually reserved for comic books.

"Agent Carter" joins a second season of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." at ABC!

In effect, this week's announcements of the continued presence of Marvel TV shows on ABC isn't a surprise, but official confirmations of ill kept secrets. Despite a mixed critical response and slipping ratings compared to its' debut, Marvel's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." was renewed for a second season by ABC. Apparently, attempts to boost ratings with tie-in's for recent films proved successful, as as well as the embarrassment of canceling a showpiece series such as this being worth more than the mediocre network ratings much of its' debut season saw. In all fairness, word-of-mouth is that the show has improved as it went along and that could help encourage viewers to return. The series, like all of Marvel's TV projects, is co-produced by Jeph Loeb, who somehow kept the declining "Heroes" on NBC for a full four seasons.

The bigger news is that ABC committed to an "Agent Carter" TV series in which Hayley Atwell will reprise her role as agent Peggy Carter from the first two "Captain America" films as well as a popular short film from the "Iron Man 3" blu-ray release. No other cast members have been announced, and all that was confirmed besides the title and its' star is the central premise. After WWII ended in 1946, agent Carter is balancing working on administrative duties as well as going on secret missions for Howard Stark all while dealing with the "death" of her love, Steve Rogers. The series will be produced by Michele Fazekas, Tara Butters, Steve McFeely, Christopher Marcus, and Jeph Loeb. It is unknown if Dominic Cooper would reprise his role as Howard Stark from "Captain America: the First Avenger" or if the role would be recast; he last worked on TV as the star of the "BBC America" mini series, "Fleming".

Marc Guggenheim takes over "X-Men" in August!

TV creator and producer Marc Guggenheim, whose "Arrow" continues to score ratings gold for The CW, has been announced as taking over writing chores for the "X-Men" comic book. His tenure will begin with August's 18th issue, which happens to feature a space story the very same month Marvel Studios' "Guardians of the Galaxy" hits theaters. His cast will continue the recent "all female" tradition of this volume with Rachel Grey, Storm, Jubilee, Psylocke, and Monet investigating an unknown threat from space that was able to mortally wound their enemy Deathbird. This would end the long run that writer Brian Wood has had on the book through two volumes. Wood last made comic news in November when he was revealed online as someone who at least attempts to cheat on his wife with young female artists at comic conventions.

Guggenheim has worked for Marvel for various periods in the past. His work with the company includes runs on "Amazing Spider-Man", "Punisher", "Wolverine", "Young X-Men", and "Blade". Guggenheim was interviewed in length and made a claim to want to pay homage and surpass the "space stories" that Chris Claremont told in the 1970's and 1980's - coincidentally during the peak of "Star Wars" mania. At any rate, it has been months since an X-Men comic dealt with aliens instead of their theme about tolerance for minority classes and facing an often intolerant society.

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