On Wednesday, Marvel announced it's plans to 'revamp' it's current line of titles starting in October under the banner 'Marvel NOW!' While stressing this is not a reboot, 'Marvel NOW!' will bring about new series and revamp current series that will reflect the major changes to the Marvel universe as a result of the events of Avengers vs. X-Men. In the few short days since it's announcement, 'Marvel NOW!' has been given a bit more substance through a number of interviews with high-ranking executives at Marvel.
Instead of mirroring DC and simply launching all it's 'NOW!' titles in the same month, Marvel has opted to launch new or relaunched titles from October through February 2013. An odd move for sure, simply due to the fickle nature of comic book fans who can make a decision on the entirety on 'Marvel NOW!' based on impressions of the first month's worth of content. It seems as though Marvel is taking the safe road, not only in their insistence that 'NOW!' is not reboot, but also in the extended release schedule. DC took a gambit and though it hasn't proved to be the breakout success everyone was hoping for, longtime fans have praised the company for changing damn near everything for the sake of creative freedom and more mass appeal.
New series already announced include Uncanny Avengers, All-New X-Men, and a relaunched Avengers. Confirming what months of rumors have speculated, Marvel is switching up it's creative teams with 'NOW!', giving seasoned writers a chance to explore new franchises. Brian Michael Bendis is leaving his Avengers post that he's held for nearly nine years to pen All-New X-Men, Jonathan Hickman will end his stellar runs on both Fantastic Four and FF to focus on the relaunched, bi-weekly Avengers, and Rick Remender pens the new crossover title, Uncanny Avengers. Of course, these three titles and creative switches are just the tip of the iceberg. Already, it's been leaked that New Avengers will be a part of the 'NOW!' initiative, possibly getting a relaunch and team roster.
Uncanny Avengers features a team of Avengers and X-Men after the fallout of Avengers vs. X-Men as they attempt to operate effectively while learning to get along. So far, the roster includes team leader Havok, Captain America, Wolverine, Thor, Scarlett Witch, and Rogue. Marvel hasn't given any reason behind the choice of characters, and making Havok team leader is a bit of a curveball, but it looks interesting nonetheless, and with art by John Cassaday of Astonishing X-Men fame, you really can't go wrong.
Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley's All-New X-Men is really the most odd of the newly announced series. Featuring the original five X-Men time travelling to the present, Bendis seeks to reintroduce the real, authentic Jean Grey back into the Marvel universe. When announced, the fan feedback focused on a single concern: is this a mini-series or ongoing? With such a specific and fragile set-up, many believed the premise couldn't be sustained for more than, say, six issues or so. Bendis has already come forth to explain that All-New X-Men is indeed an ongoing series and that the time-displaced X-Men are here to stay. Of course, this revelation has sparked the debate over Bendis' 'devil may care' attitude toward continuity and the generally agreed-upon rules of time travel. Then again, he thew Wanda Maximoff's powers to the wind for Avengers: Disassembled, so he may have some trick up his sleeve we don't know about yet.
Finally, the Jonathan Hickman-helmed Avengers will sport a cast of over 18 members and will be released bi-weekly as opposed to the normal monthly schedule. It's a move that I like, if only because a flagship title like Avengers should be more heavily focused on. Without a solid cast of characters yet, it remains to be seen Jonathan Hickman is up to the task of working in Bendis' large shadow. Though, Hickman's Avengers vs. X-Men #6 is the best issue of the series so far, so I'm not too worried.
Starting in October, "The Endless Reel" will be taking a look at each of Marvel's new series associated with it's 'Marvel NOW!' initiative. Only Uncanny Avengers is currently slated for an October launch, but more information will be surfacing in the coming months, so stay tuned to "The Endless Reel" for more information regarding 'Marvel NOW!' and it's coverage on the site. As more info is released, the more I'll endeavor to keep the Monthly Schedule up to date.