At this weekend’s New York Comic Con (October 8-11), comic book publishers and multimedia corporations large and small announced various projects for the next year at panels held at the event. Marvel Comics were no exception as they announced many things at panels which this column was personally witness to, and other websites have confirmed. Chief among them is a reliance on crossovers for 2016, as evidenced by Marvel announcing that the next year would see at least three crossovers between various ongoing comic book series. The biggest of these three will be “Avengers: Standoff”, which was reported on by Comic Book Resources, Newsarama, and ICv2.
As explained by executive editor Tom Brevoort and current “Ant-Man” writer Nick Spencer, “Avengers: Standoff” will begin in March with a one shot called “Standoff! Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha” which will be written by Spencer and drawn by Jesus Saiz (“Manhunter”, “Brave and the Bold”). Details are scarce, but the one shot involves a gated community called “Pleasant Hill” which carries with it – what else – a big secret which the Avengers don’t want to be revealed. The story originally began as a “Captain America” story to celebrate the franchise’s 75th anniversary before it was expanded to encompass other titles. Titles stated to be included in the crossover would be “All New All Different Avengers”, “Uncanny Avengers”, “New Avengers”, “S.H.I.E.L.D.”, “The Ultimates”, “Sam Wilson: Captain America” and “a couple other things that will be involved as well,” said Brevoort, who added, “Hopefully though it won’t be so many that it just becomes unwieldy”. Considering that most of these relaunches won’t kick off until later this month or year, virtually all of these titles will have barely gotten to their sixth issues before having to take part in a crossover. It seems the era of allowing series to find their feet before being saddled with the next crossover is long over. It will begin three months after “Secret Wars” technically ends in December, despite the fact that series set after it will continue to be released. Marvel Comics’ zeal to always seek to sell the next comic and the next crossover before the current comic or current crossover is even complete is impressive.
The second crossover is (as reported by Comic Book Resources) smaller but is set to also begin around the same time – spring. Called “Spider-Women”, it will unite “Spider-Woman” and “Silk” with “Spider-Gwen” as the two titular heroines of the former two comics find themselves temporarily stranded in the alternate universe setting of the latter. Dennis Hopeless (“Spider-Woman”) will unite with fellow writers Jason Latour and Robbie Thompson for this, as Jessica Drew and Cindy Moon will seek to escape from Spider-Gwen’s world before their alternate universe counterparts make too much of a mess at their homes! The crossover will be book ended by two “Spider-Women” issues which will kick off and end the crossover among the trio of titles. The writers stressed that they were seeking to play on the bonds of friendship which already exist for these heroines, particularly in last year’s “Spider-Verse”. Considering that “Secret Wars” was stressed by top Marvel brass (such as Brevoort) as a way to clear out many of Marvel’s alternate realities (and not simply a way to cancel the failing “Ultimate” line and absorb useful details into their core canon), it is fascinating to see a story centered around spare alternate realities gain an editorial push just a few months afterward.
The third and final crossover is the smallest and most comedic of all. As reported by Comic Book Resources, both “Howard the Duck” (written by Chip Zdarsky and drawn by Joe Quinones) and “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” (written by Ryan North and drawn by Erica Henderson) will cross over with each of their sixth issues in 2016. Details of this brief and “for fun” crossover are naturally scarce, but it will involve a comic book convention, the villain Kraven the Hunter, and each of the leads’ key supporting members (Tara for Howard and Nancy Whitehead for Squirrel-Girl). It appears to only be for this one month, making it a crossover only in the most technical of terms. However, it means that for at least one month this spring (if not several), at least a dozen of Marvel Comics’ “all new and all different” series will be crossing over, with more expected as 2016 wares on.