Despite Hollywood and the video game industry trying to steal the spotlight as per usual at one of these large comic book conventions, WonderCon, much more so than Comic Con in San Diego, is still very much comic book centric. And thus, there was a nice amount of comic book announcements this weekend that might have gotten lost in the flurry of excitement over other media if this were San Diego, with Marvel taking adavantage of the Con more than any other publisher to make a few big announcements this time. So let’s get to Marvel’s news first:
Girl Power Returns To Marvel!
Why, it just seems like yesterday I was bitching about the fact that Marvel has been neglecting their female heroes and letting them languish without titles of their own. It appears that they are aware of this little fact themselves, and made a few announcements of upcoming projects that are attempting to please Marvel’s female hero fans.
Ms. Marvel No More; Say Hello To The New Captain Marvel
Carol Danvers is ditching the bathing suit and thigh high boots and getting a haircut, as she becomes the official bearer of the title Captain Marvel, in a new ongoing series debuting this July. Not only that, but the writer of said title will actually be a woman for a change. Writer Kelly Sue DeConnick (Osborn) and artist Dexter Soy (Army of Two) are the creative team, with initial covers being done Ed McGuinness. The new ongoing series is said to at least in part spin out of Carol Danvers’s role in the upcoming Avengers vs. X-Men. The new Captain Marvel series is said to focus on Carol’s “Chuck Yeager” like civilian life as a pilot, and her other life as an A-List Marvel super hero. Writer DeConnick also dropped the hint that we’d be seeing Mystique in the book as well (Mystique made her first appearance in a 70’s issue of Ms. Marvel, not Uncanny X-Men as most might assume) As for me, I’m just happy she’s keeping the sash.
And Carol Danvers isn’t the only neglected female hero at Marvel getting a chance to hog the spotlight once more; At WonderCon Marvel released the first official info for X-Treme X-Men, a new ongoing series coming this July from writer Greg Pak, spinning out of a recent storyline in Astonishing X-Men. Although the series will focus on a motley crew of alternate universe versions of popular X-Men characters, like a fifty year old cowboy Wolverine or a ten year old Nightcrawler, the main focus will be on “our” world’s version of Allison Blaire, the former disco dancing mutant known as Dazzler.
Writer Greg Pak had this to say about his new leading lady – “DAZZLER! It’s kind of hard for me to contain how much I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS CHARACTER. As soon as I started writing her, all the lights went on (pun intended). She’s wry and funny and tough and vulnerable and the Marvel Universe’s greatest showbiz surviver turned superhero and SHE WILL SAVE THE WORLD WITH ROCK AND ROLL.”
Hmm. I think the last part of that sentence should be “save the world with Disco” not Rock and Roll, but the fact that he’s giving Miss Blaire a spotlight after so long means I’m giving the man a pass. Don’t let me down Pak.
Marvel’s Thunderbolts Becomes The Dark Avengers
The long running title Thunderbolts is getting a title change, and this summer officially becomes Dark Avengers. Strangely enough, Marvel has decided to keep the numbering of the old Thunderbolts comics, so instead of Dark Avengers #1, we are getting issue #175 instead. Since first appearing in 1997, the Thunderbolts have been a team of former villains working towards redemption, with the most recent iteration being led by Luke Cage. Luke Cage will be staying on when the title becomes Dark Avengers, but it looks like he’ll be joined by Skaar (Son of Hulk), Ragnarok (the clone Thor) and Dark Spider-Man and Dark Scarlet Witch (they really need to find new names for those last two) Conveniently, all are counterparts to more famous Marvel heroes; it seems this change in title and line up has to do more with marketing and branding than anything else. On the plus side, the creative team of writer Jeff Parker and artists Kev Walker and Declan Shalvey are all remaining, so that should keep at least some of the purist Thunderbolts fans happy.
Brian Wood Becomes Writer for X-Men AND Ultimate X-Men
X-Men, The book most often referred to as “adjective-less X-Men,” will be getting a new writer in June with issue #30, when DMZ creator Brian Wood joins the book. Aside from a few cast changes (Warpath is being replaced by Pixie, and Jubilee is out) what makes this X-Men line up most interesting is that for once, instead of a token female on the team, there is but one token male instead in the form of Colossus. The rest of the team will be made up of Storm, Psylocke, Pixie, and Domino. The notion of this book being Utopia’s “security team” will remain, although writer Wood said the shift will be to more grounded threats than before, including a proto-race of mutants never seen before in the Marvel universe.
Also in June, Brian Wood takes over Ultimate X-Men as well. The Ultimate universe version of mutuant plight is significantly worse than the regular Marvel Universe at the moment, with mutants being rounded up and imprisoned and sometimes killed. Front and center to all of this drama will be Kitty Pryde, although which other mutants will remain on the book is still being kept under wraps at the moment. Most interestingly, Wood becoming the writer of Ultimate X-Men and regular X-Men makes him the first writer to tackle both universe’s versions of the team at the same time since Ultimate Marvel began back in 2000.
DC Takes A Back Seat To Marvel At This Year’s Con, But Still Manages A Few Surprises
Despite having several panels at the convention, there wasn’t any huge news coming out of WonderCon from DC this year. A Before Watchmen panel was had, but it was mostly DC editorial regurgitating information we already knew and trying to defend the whole project to skeptical fans. Jim Lee’s take on Nite Owl was shown (he’s just doing a cover, not interiors) and while very pretty, just feels wrong to the whole Watchmen aesthetic. I dunno, I don’t think I’m ever gonna get behind this one, no matter what line DC tries to sell me on this. But I’m aware a lot of you out there feel differently, so for all of you guys out there who want this, I sure hope it doesn’t disappoint.
DC Nation on Cartoon Network however was a whole different story from DC Comics, at least in terms of showcasing new stuff for the fanbase at their panel. A trailer for season two of Young Justice was shown, and confirmed by producers as joining the team were Blue Beetle (the teen Jaimie Reyes version) and Lagoon Boy. Don’t know Lagoon Boy? Neither did half the audience, so don’t feel bad. Season two will carry the subtitle “Invasion,” and producers Greg Weisman said we’d be seeing a lot more outer space action this year, as well as visits from classic DC characters like Lobo and Adam Strange.
Also previewed was the first season of Green Lantern: The Animated Series. Clips were shown showcasing the Thanagarians, Star Sapphires and even Saint Walker, the Blue Lantern, all of whom are showing up in season one. Not shown yet, but heavily hinted at in the panel, was the eventual appearance of Sinestro and his Corps. Producers didn’t rule out an adaptation of Blackest Night somewhere down the road either. Also all but confirmed as appearing are Green Lanterns Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner, which made many fans pretty happy.
The highlight of the DC Nation panel though had to be the premiere of several shorts focusing on various oddball characters of the DC Universe. Included among these shorts was The Doom Patrol, Animal Man, and confirmed as coming soon would be forgotten 80’s gems like Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, Sword of the Atom, and even the much loathed Puerto Rican breakdancer character from the JLA known as Vibe is getting his own short. Most of these shorts were played for laughs, so I wouldn’t worry about a new “serious take” on Vibe coming from DC Comics any time soon. If proven successful, season two would include an all pet version of the Justice League, and even Starro the Conqueror. Yeah, you read right…the giant alien starfish.
But the highlight was the premier of the first on several 75 second shorts from producer Lauren Faust’s Super Best Friends Forever, a series featuring hyper stylized Powerpuff-esque versions of Supergirl, Batgirl and Wonder Girl. Faust, creator of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic explained her take on these DC Icons; “I really wanted to put a super-spin on being a teenage girl; Supergirl has all the same powers as Superman, and Superman gets all the credit, Batgirl is a superhero fan who has action figures of supervillains in her bedroom, and Wonder Girl as an isolated Amazon who doesn’t understand the world of men.” All I know is I want Super BFF products like…now. Please get on that Warner Brothers…do it just for me.