Throughout the month of June, Marvel Comics has been giving readers and retailers teases of what their “all new, all different” Marvel Universe this fall will look like in terms of relaunches with revelations involving a handful of titles. Today (June 30) as the month comes to a close, MTV not only would reveal the creative team and direction for the latest relaunch of “Amazing Spider-Man”, but Comic Book Resources would gain access to Previews information revolving over forty new Marvel Comics launches (and relaunches) coming this October. Characters get shuffled around, some creative teams stand pat, and one can kiss the $2.99 price tag good-bye.
The biggest of today’s revelations easily involves what may be the fourth relaunch of “Amazing Spider-Man” since its’ inception in the early 1960’s for October. The creative team will remain very much the same from the past several years; Dan Slott (who has been the series’ solo writer since fall 2010 and one of a rotating team of writers since the start of 2008) will remain the lead writer for the franchise’s chief book while Giuseppe Camuncoli (who has been one of three regular artists servicing “Amazing Spider-Man” and/or “Superior Spider-Man for several years) has been listed as the series’ primary artist. However, it was their stated direction as well as a series of costume redesigns by Alex Ross which sparked major attention. It seems that in the “eight months” after the finale of “Secret Wars”, Peter Parker will have taken his hi-tech company “Parker Industries” (which was formed during a time when Dr. Octopus took control of his body) abroad to become an international entity and upgrade his Spider-Man operations even further. His costume will have more gadgets, his “Spider-Mobile” from the 1970’s will be returning with upgrades (that allow it to become a mechanized spider-robot), his company (and thus his adventures) will span Asia and Europe as well as New York City, and he will bare far more similarities to another superhero who was once a mentor, Iron Man. Spider-Man will officially serve as CEO Peter Parker’s “bodyguard” (which, realistically, should fool exactly no one since Tony Stark wore that ruse thin for decades) and his world will involve a higher payroll as well as glamorous women on his shoulders. “Amazing Spider-Man” will also serve as a flagship title to an entire wing of webbed comics, including returning series like “Spider-Man 2099”, “Spider-Woman”, “Spider-Gwen”, as well as relaunched or new series such as “Webbed Warriors” (which by sheer coincidence was the name of the latest season of “Ultimate Spider-Man” on Disney XD) and “Spider-Man” (which stars Miles Morales, fresh from the Ultimate imprint). It gets even more complicated considering that there will also be series for “Venom” and even “Carnage” debuting, with the latter written by the legendary Gerry Conway! Carnage didn’t even have an ongoing series during the peak of his popularity twenty years ago!
Dan Slott further explained that he likes love triangles and that Peter Parker would gain new and old allies in his exploits; from the looks of things the editors may as well call it “Science Ninja Team Spider-Man” (or “Spider-Man Incorporated” if one peaks too close at Marvel’s competition, DC Comics). One line which is striking by Slott in this promotional effort is, “Peter Parker has stepped up. He’s grown. He’s become the Peter Parker we’ve always hoped he was going to be.” And while this may be very true in terms of Peter’s financial success and the widening scope of his superhero efforts (using his “great powers” with “great responsibility” in places outside of NYC with more frequency), any teases about Peter’s personal life seem woefully retrograde in comparison. From the statements and the images comes the idea of Peter Parker as the eternal bachelor, with different women on his arms depending on the season or the year. And while that may have been part of the era in which Spider-Man was founded in during the Silver Age, it was one which came to an end in 1987 with his (then very publicized and promoted) marriage to his longtime friend and lover, Mary Jane Watson. When that union was annulled with great fanfare in 2007, Marvel Comics’ top brass insisted that it was for the good of the character to get him back to his roots, to make him seem younger or more of an “every man” who wasn’t living in Avengers’ mansion or “married to a super model”.
Now, just seven years later and following two years worth of stories involving mind-swaps and a war with vampire knock offs across all of reality, Peter Parker is set to live a life more “fantastic” and outlandish in comparison to his roots than Mr. Fantastic. All of this, according to Marvel Comics, is perfectly in keeping with the character’s roots, yet a long term romance to a single heroine is a bridge too far. Writers and editors who have no problem figuring out how a “down to earth guy” like Peter Parker would react to being an international tycoon with a robot car or fighting wars alongside space vikings and gamma monsters seem impossibly baffled by the concept of him having a wife for longer than four months at a time in an obviously temporary alternate universe. A marriage to a “super model” (who in reality was more of a B or C list actress who got most of her roles in cheap movies or a soap opera) was deemed too unlikely for Peter Parker in a way that transforming into a global corporate superhero is not, apparently. While this premise offers a lot of possibilities as well as some fascinating designs, it seems to reinforce the idea that in the post-Disney era, Spider-Man is whoever he needs to be. A cynic could claim that avoiding romantic commitment to indulge in lots of “toys” and rotating casts of women is not a sign of maturity, but of either adolescence or a mid life crisis. Fans shouldn’t be surprised to see this costume design on the big screen in less than two year’s time. Overall, this era seems to desire to take many of the ideas presented by Slott in his successful “Big Time” launch and turns the dial up to eleven.
There are too many reveals about new and returning series to cover in this article, so a brief summary of many interesting ones will suffice. It seems that Charles Soule (who is also writing “Uncanny Inhumans”) will be taking over as writer of “Daredevil” from Mark Waid, and matched with artist Ron Garney. The Fantastic Four are gone as a comic unto themselves, but half of the team members appear in other books. Human Torch will appear in Soule’s “Uncanny Inhumans” as well as “Uncanny Avengers” by Gerry Dugan and Ryan Stegman. X-23 officially takes over the role of Wolverine from her “father” in “All-New Wolverine” by Tom Taylor and David Lopez (although “Old Man Logan” from another universe is in “Extraordinary X-Men”). Dennis Hopeless (“X-Men: Season One”) returns to the founding five in “All New X-Men” alongside the legendary Mark Bagley. Both the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Inhumans franchises will have at least three comics apiece to them. Sam Wilson is still Cap, Jane Foster is still Thor, and Steve Rogers is still old. It seems that much as Marvel brass said, their “all new, all different” universe isn’t a reboot but merely their latest scheme to launch a whole batch of “#1” issues as well as cancel their faded “Ultimate” imprint and absorb the best of it (and other alternate realities) into one universe.