comxiologyOnce upon a time in a magical land known as Austin, during a festival known as South By Southwest where the peasants celebrate the coming of spring by paying nine bucks a beer to their corporate betters, the benevolent kings of Marvel Comics announced that they would bestow a boon upon the common folk: 700 classic and new tales of knights and heroes, delivered instantly into their homes, notebooks and even their pockets, all thanks to the magic of their House Wizards at Comixology, known far and wide as the most proficient magicians in the delivery of these tales (or at least amongst the last ones standing).

But alas, no sooner did the Day of Giving arrive than the secret magicks of the Wizards of Comics Delivery failed, leaving hundreds without their promised boon, and some wondering just what in the hell they had been paying the magicians for in the first place.

Which is a long and stupid way to go to say that, about a month after Comixology was forced, due to server load, to suspend Marvel’s offer of a few days of free comics, they have told those who emailed them to say that yes: they wanted the free comics, fer Christ’s sake, that they will soon see their patience rewarded.

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marvel_infinite_logoWe are not currently at South By Southwest, partly because we have already pissed our meager convention budget on preparations for San Diego Comic-Con in July, and partially because I learned during a visit in 1998 that Austin’s motto of “Keep Austin Weird” does not constitute a legal defense. Let’s just say that, somewhere in a computer in Austin Police Headquarters, there is an active arrest warrant for “Batroc Z. Leaper” that I wouldn’t want compared to my current driver’s license photo.

However, Marvel Comics is at SXSW, and earlier today that ran a panel that included a few announcements, including whatever the hell they were talking about last week with that whole “#1″ teaser poster.Turns out they were talking about some free first issues.

Digitally, anyway.

For a little while.

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captain_america_4_cover_2013The unique thing about comic books, at least comic books from the Big Two that are owned by the publisher and have been around for a while (of course, whether those kind of comic books are the best thing for the industry or for readers is a whole different argument) is that writers and artists come and go, while the character remains. This dichotomy brings comic fans one of their favorite things – a continuity across years that can give some characters and titles an epic, historic feeling that supercedes the often simple adventure stories at their core – and one of their least favorite things – a continuity across years that the new douchebag creative team on a book are clearly fucking with with no regard for the character’s epic history and they’ve ruined the character and now I will Tweet a death threat and hello, Officer, no handcuffs are necessary, if you’d just read this issue, you’d see that I was right to threaten to set fire to the writer’s cat, and is that a Taser, and…

…well, you get the point.

The point being that creative teams change, and each new set of people has their own stamp that they want to put on these long-running books. And a lot of times these creators want to pay homage to a particular era from the character, which can be pretty damned varied; keep in mind that, at various times, Spider-Man has been a high school student battling street-level crime, a college student fighting more mid-level threats, an Avenger, a widely-reviled public menace, a member of the Fantastic Four, and a fucking clone… and now he’s Doctor Octopus. So if a writer wants to revisit any particular era, the story could be almost any kind, and if they want to do something new with the character, they’d need to make him a gay cowboy eating pudding or something (and I’m pretty sure if I dug far enough into the Marvel Team-Up back catalogue, I might even find that’s already been done).

All of which brings up to Rick Remender, and his reboot of Captain America following Ed Brubaker’s long run on the title. Brubaker’s reign on the title was categorized by S.H.I.E.L.D.-based espionage stories, and while God knows that he took his share of chances on the title – he killed Cap and brought Bucky back to life, for Christ’s sake – they were generally grounded, somewhat realistic stories with a classic Steranko-era feel. However, that’s not the only kind of Captain America story there is; Cap has a legacy of science fiction-style stories in his history, written and drawn by no less than Jack Kirby and Gene Colan – let’s remember that before MODOK became a comic reader’s punchline, he was created to fuck around with Cap.

Remender has clearly chosen to focus on the science fiction history of Captain America in his initial reboot story, which continues through this weeks issue #4. This is a full-blast sci-fi story, including alternate universes, alien races, spaceships, and one of the classic Captain America sci-fi villains: the Kirby-created Armin Zola. The question is: how does all this weirdness – weirdness supported by various eras in Captain America’s history, mind you – go down immediately following years and years of cold war-style spy stories?

Honestly? It’s going down hard.

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logo_marvelIt’s been a little while since Marvel dumped out one of their recently ubiquitous, one-word teaser posters to hype an upcoming new title, but a new one entered the wild yesterday, following a tease at a retailer’s breakfast yesterday… and as an aside: why does Marvel seem to have so many breakfasts for retailers? It was a retailer’s breakfast at New York Comic Con where Marvel teased The Superior Spider-Man, and it just seems… weird. I know that the owner of my local comic store, where they know me by name and ask me to consider making their establishment the first stop on my comic store / local bar routine, would much prefer a retailer’s cocktail hour. Or at least I presume that he would, considering that every time I leave his store, I hear him mutter, “Christ, I need a drink.” But I’m getting a little off point here.

The point is that there is another intriguing teaser poster for some new Marvel book coming this fall. And the bad news is that, like all the other teasers preceding it, it gives almost no information on the actual book – including no creator names.

But the good news is that Marvel apparently got Ike Perlmutter to sign off on the budget for a couple of additional words for the teaser! Which you can check out after the jump.

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age_of_ultron_promo_posterI don’t know if you’ve heard, but there has been a minor snow event that has affected the Greater Boston area over the past day and a half or so. Some refer to this event as Nemo, but the locals have taken to calling it a minor apocalypse.

As such, we are engaged with the normal activities of digging out from more than two feet of snow. Those activities being comprised of mainly cursing the Home Office building management for taking a whole two hours during blizzard conditions to come dig us out, while frantically compulsively our beers to make sure we can survive for 24 more hours, and finding to our horror that the count seems to drop by one every ten to fifteen minutes.

Therefore we don’t have a lot of time for comics writing today, but we do have one item: Marvel has released a motion comics trailer for their spring event crossover, Age of Ultron, the main ten-issue series of which is being written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Bryan Hitch, Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco. Supposedly Hitch has done the bulk of the art for the project, and he swears that his pencils are all completed and submitted… and we will know if he is telling the truth if issue 10 comes out sometime in 2015.

Either way, you can check out the trailer after the jump… and if you’ll excuse me, I need to put together a “Free snow, just haul away” ad on Craig’s List, and make some more beer safe for the neighbor kids by turning it into pee.

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guardians_of_the_galaxy_1_CoverHere’s the problem with having been six years old when Star Wars was released in theaters: I’ve never really given that much of a damn about Guardians of The Galaxy. Yeah sure, Guardians of The Galaxy debuted in 1969, but that was before my time, and by the time Marvel really started to whip them up was in Marvel Presents right around the origina Star Wars release, and if you’re six, who’re you gonna pay attention to? The guy with the full color lightsaber? Or the talking raccoon with a gun (and before you ask, no, even at six or seven, I didn’t buy into Jaxxon, either)?

But regardless, Marvel Studios in its infinite wisdom has decided to make Guardians of The Galaxy into their next big tentpole property, which means that Marvel is releasing a new book starring the team, written by Brian Michael Bendis with pencils by Steve McNiven. And Marvel just hosted a liveblog with those guys to talk about what they have planned for the property. And I tried to get myself excited about the prospect, even though it features a guy who calls himself Starlord without a whiff of irony, and a creature that calls itself Rocket Raccoon, which is roughly analogous to me calling myself Lumbering Whiteguy.

And I’ll be damned if it doesn’t sound like they have some cool stuff planned for the project.

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x-men_1_cover_2013Y’know, for a guy that had his DC exclusive contract politely allowed to expire about a month before the New 52 relaunch (and after DC announced, and then unannounced, that he would be the writer on the Supergirl relaunch in September, 2011), Brian Wood has had one hell of a busy – and big – year. Between the launches of Mara for Image, Conan and The Massive for Dark Horse – not to mention the big success of Star Wars for that publisher just last week –  the guy has a lot going on… including that new book for Marvel that they teased last week with a one-word poster reading only “XX”.

These’s been a lot of speculation about what “XX” means, from the idea Amanda floated to me that it was an X-Treme X-Men relaunch, to the one I insisted upon to my bartender that it was about Dos Equis. Actually, I was just ordering a Dos Equis, but that’s not important right now.

What is important is that Marvel has revealed what it’s all about. It’s an X-Men book. Titled X-Men. With no, you know, men in it.

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logo_marvelAmanda reported earlier about Marvel’s new one-word teaser – part of what’s looking to be a new round for already-introduced comics from the Marvel Now relaunch (but not a reboot! Because Marvel doesn’t reboot! And Spider-Man has always had feet that looked like Mickey Mouse was crippled by polio!) – hinting that the Doc Ock version of Spider-Man is possibly going to lose his Avengers ID card and all associated rights, privileges, upgrade miles and punches toward a free six-inch sub.

That, however, wasn’t the only teaser up Marvel’s sleeve today. To wit: legendary The Mighty Thor artist Walt Simonson will be taking over art duties, at least temporarily, from Leinil Yu on Indestructible Hulk. And Marvel being Marvel, they had a teaser to go with the news…

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the_most_interesting_man_in_the_worldWolverine calls him the best there is at what he does.

Cyclops believes that he is a dick.

It took Emma Frost longer to read his mind than it did for her to read Infinite Jest.

Hank McCoy calls him a beast.

He is the master of magnetism… according to Eric Lenshurr.

He is… the most interesting man in – ah, screw it; Marvel’s released another one-word teaser poster, and it says “XX.” Sure, I could have made a classy observation like “XX” is the chromosonal sequence for women, but there was a Dos Equis beer joke there, and I am only a man. A weak man. A weak man with a drinking problem. It’s pretty much all I can think about. It’s quite serious.

Right, the comic book. You can check the teaser after the jump.

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