Let us look into the future ... (or here, if you don't have the sight)
So, House of M begins. Is anybody particularly excited about this? Spinning out of Avengers: Disappointed, the New Avengers and the Astonishing X-Men team up to give Scarlet Witch a spanking or something.
(Don't you just love the use of hyperbolic adjectives in Marvel titles? Astonishing X-Men. Incredible Hulk. Amazing Spider-Man. Spectacular Spider-Man. Fantastic Four. The Mighty Thor. What's next? The No Shit, They're Great Defenders? The Fucking Brilliant Punisher? Doesn't it sound a little insecure? Come on, they're already called super-heroes ...)
Marvel must love us because we get two issues of House of M in one month. Lucky us. And the second issue features every member of the X-Men and Avengers ever. Which will probably mean a ridiculously crowded two page spread like in Avengers: Dissed where you can just about make out some figures at the back with a magnifying glass. I look forward to the blogosphere discussion when this book comes out, if not the book itself, even though I usually like Bendis's writing and Copiel's art looks quite sharp.
Spider-Man gets his own House of M special mini-series, because ten comics of Spider-related material just isn't enough. The tone of the book suggests some sort of dimensional warping thing, presumably with Wanda going mental and having a fit, just for a bit of Marvel house-cleaning (and isn't that the way, to get the girls to tidy up the mess that men make?) but I could be wrong.
Marvel Next has a new mini-series, Gravity, by Sean McKeever and Mike Norton. (For more info, see this article over at Newsarama.) This looks kind of interesting; McKeever does more character-driven work, the art looks fresh and well-designed, and the concept seems to have been well thought out. I think I'll be picking this up when it comes out (just in case the trade doesn't make it.)
Kitty Pryde and Ororo get a mini-series, because 18 X-Men related titles in a month doesn't sound like a glut, does it? Ororo: Before The Storm sounds like a Year One but using the bits of Chris Claremont-written material sprinkled through the X history to form a complete couple of books. Kitty Pryde: Shadow and Flame has the novelty of having a Japanese writer (I'm going out on a limb and assuming that Akira Yoshida is Japanese) telling a story of her going to Japan. It also has the delightful art of Paul Smith detailing her adventure, which is a perfect match, but not divine enough to actually make me buy the book.
The Ultimate books continue. Spider-Man has a 'Stand-Alone Story' for issue 70, which seems strange in this new world of six issues for the trade collection. Fantastic Four sounds like an old story even to me, who isn't a big FF fan. X-Men sees Lady Deathstrike turn up, while Ultimate Secret continues setting up Ultimate Galactus. Now, is it me, or was the whole point of the Ultimate stuff to be streamlined storytelling without lots of baggage to engage new readers? If all you are going to do is reintroduce the old stuff, but in shiny new costumes and slight variations, what's the point? Is it just selling the old stuff back to us again?
Last Hero Standing sees an event for the Spider-Girl universe: does this mean it's drawing attention to this universe of giving it a proper finale? And is it tied to House of M, if 'a major Avengers villain' is involved, or are the Avengers the Marvel flavour of the month?
Amazing Spider-Man, Toxin and Breakout all entail Spider-Man's stories from New Avengers, which is nice to see in one respect, keeping the tradition of the Marvel interaction with other titles alive in this age of the TPB, but seems strange that Bendis seems to have taken over the direction of Marvel at present. He is the Kingpin.
The Marvel Knights section seems to be a much broader scope of title that I remembered it was created as. Daredevil and Black Panther remain (although Black Panther did return to the Marvel Heroes section for most of Priest's run), but it seems to be an umbrella for titles they're not quite sure about. Hercules seems a strange fit, unless one of the tasks he is recreating is impregnating 50 women in one night, and Shanna seems to be here because they didn't want to show nudity. Do District X or 4 need to be here? Or is it just for titles that are slightly outside the norm and need the comfort of the Knights title?
Is there a Fantastic Four film coming out? I didn't know ... JMS is on the regular FF title, where The Thing is all about the bling, there's an Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe dedicated to them, and there's an adaptation of the movie in comic book form, which I really can't understand – do these things sell? Is there a point of making a comic of a movie from a comic? Don't they fold in on themselves in some sort of self-referential loop? Do people buy them? Mike, Dorian – do these things sell at all? The best part is the line about the movie adaptation: 'the sure-to-be-a-hit film' – does that sound desperate or what? I can almost here the hype writer falling on his knees to pray, 'Please, dear God, let this film be a hit, please ...' They have eight collections on sale this month to coincide with the film, including a Fantastic Four: The Movie TPB, which includes the comic adaptation (which is sold separately for the first time this month) as well as 'a selection of the classic stories that inspired the film!', although the writer is still listed as Mike Carey. Fingers crossed on the film, fellas.
Apart from nice covers for Captain America and Marvel Team-Up, the only thing to capture the eye is New Warriors mini-series. It doesn't stand out for a good reason; the cover is eye-grabbing in a cartoonish-but-good way but just the idea of reviving the New Warriors makes me do a double take. Why are they doing this? I thought they were doing some odd things bringing back Power Pack and giving the GLA their own limited series but the New Warriors? It's just another expensive ad for the back catalogue of characters available for other media to buy, I guess.
The Flip Books seem like another attempt to get around the no reorder policy that Marvel has, insulting retailers and customers alike. Or am I being too cynical?
I'm still staggered by how many X-books there are. I can't bring myself to comment on them all, perhaps because I grew up infatuated with the Claremont X-Men, and stopped when he was kicked off them during the 'Artists Are King' period, only for a brief return for the Grant Morrison stories. I just can't believe that there are that many fans of the mutants to justify this overload. The really bizarre standout is seeing Matt Fraction writing a story in X-Men Unlimited. Didn't he attack this sort of thing in his column on CBR, or am I misremembering?
JMS gets the Icon treatment with Dream Police, an ongoing title best summed up by Graeme as 'Powers meets Sandman'.
Talking of Powers, it reaches its 50th issue (sort of), which is a reason to put stuff in there and charge extra, yet still insists that 'it's a perfect jumping on point for new readers!' I really enjoy Powers, but that's stretching things, folks.
Well, that's me done. Don't Marvel give you a lot? Who could afford to be a Marvel Zombie these days, apart from Nicolas Cage? Almost makes me glad they put out stuff I don't want to read ...