The Chicago Comic And Entertainment Expo, a convention often called “C2E2” (not to be confused with the robot R2D2) took place over the weekend. For those not in the know, it is one of the biggest conventions in the comic book world; unlike the San Diego Comic Convention (which is THE biggest con), the news that leaks out of this one is more about actual comics and less to do with films and alternate media. Marvel delayed their solicitations for June 2011 specifically so they would have more actual comic news to announce at the convention. Behold!
– The biggest news of their slate was the announcement of the full creative teams for Marvel’s Big Shots relaunches of Moon Knight, Daredevil, and Punisher (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31411). The creative team of Brian M. Bendis and Alex Maleev had already been announced for Moon Knight prior to this con. After the DAREDEVIL REBORN mini series, written by Andy Diggle, wraps up, the next creative team for the Man Without Fear’s ongoing title relaunch will be Mark Waid and artists Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin. Martin has been drawing 2-3 issues of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN at certain intervals for years, and it is presumed he would leave that title to be part of the regular art team for DAREDEVIL alongside Waid. Aboard the relaunch for the Punisher will be Greg Rucka, formerly one of DC’s regular writers (who has written WONDER WOMAN and DETECTIVE COMICS), and artist Marco Checchetto (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31329). Waid took questions about the run and stated in so many words that he would live up to Daredevil’s claim to fame and have him do fearless crime-fighting, he seemed to want to make the tone less bleak and depressing. Given that Daredevil’s life has been broken apart by three sets of writers, which led to the scorched earth approach of SHADOWLAND, Waid may want to write an upswing run where Murdock slips back into status quo (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31330). Murdock hasn’t been settled firmly in the “lawyer by day, masked vigilante by night” set up for roughly 3-4 years now, after all. As for the Punisher, while he has been the flagship character of Marvel’s MAX line for ages, Marvel has consistently wanted to write a “Punisher in the Marvel Universe” title, which has been relaunched several times. Rucka states that he refuses to accept that Punisher is crazy, nor does he want to do anything extreme to him – a sly dig at the “Franken-Castle” run with Rick Remender. He will also create new foils for the Punisher, and he states that his adventures do take place in the Marvel Universe and thus he could run into more famous and powerful characters, he is a solo vigilante – Rucka compares his mindset to that of a professional sniper. Given that Marvel Studios has recovered the film license for the Punisher from Lion’s Gate, one imagines they will want his relaunch to be a success to help build that brand again.
– Speaking of Daredevil, “30 DAYS OF NIGHT” director David Slade has been approached by Fox to possibly handle a reboot of the film franchise (http://www.superherohype.com/news/articles/128814-david-slade-to-reboot-daredevil). Fox, which produced a “DAREDEVIL” film in 2003 starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner and directed by Mark Steven Johnson (as well as a 2005 sequel, “ELEKTRA”, which tanked), must have a Daredevil film in production very soon, lest they lose the license. It would then revert back to Marvel/Disney, and Fox has been very eager to hold onto the licenses they obtained from Marvel back during its bankruptcy days (or shortly after the end of them). Mr. Slade spoke about several projects on Twitter as well as Daredevil, stating that it would have no connection to the 2003 film and that he has “a strong character driven take on Mr. Matt Murdock”. It is in “the very early planning stages” and there is “no cast” yet. The irony is that Fox has in this property a premise that would work perfectly well for a weekly serial TV program – a combination of a legal procedural with a masked vigilante show (which could involve crime procedural elements). It is a stronger TV pitch than, say, “THE CAPE” or “NO ORDINARY FAMILY”, and “SMALLVILLE” has survived ten seasons on a flimsier one. Working out what makes Daredevil best for a larger chunk film, without imitating Batman, is trickier.
– In more embarrassing, and surprising, Fox Marvel movie news, “THE WOLVERINE” has lost its high profile director, Daren Aronosky. His latest film, “BLACK SWAN”, won star Natalie Portman an Oscar, and several actors from “THE WRESTLER” had been nominated as well. It is possible that due to such credentials, he didn’t like the script and/or wished for a higher salary than Fox was willing to pay. Officially, he blamed his departure on the project as due to the nature of the film being set in Japan and demanding he be away from his family for “almost a year”. Fox immediately announced regret but claimed it would seek to “regroup and move forward aggressively” because “Hugh Jackman and Fox remain fully committed to making ‘The Wolverine’“ (http://www.superherohype.com/news/articles/128944-darren-aronofsky-no-longer-directing-the-wolverine). However, Entertainment Weekly hears differently, feeling that due to the crisis in Japan, Fox will “let it air out a bit” before approaching another director (http://insidemovies.ew.com/2011/03/18/the-wolverine-no-director-replacement-darren-aronofsky/). The sources that Super Hero Hype have deny this allegation and claim Fox would move forward if they “found a new director tomorrow” (http://www.superherohype.com/news/articles/129078-ews-exclusive-on-the-wolverine-is-incorrect). Fox is in no danger of losing their overall X-Men license due to “X-MEN: FIRST CLASS” being released. Actor Hugh Jackman is said to have great pull in which director ultimately lands on the project, and he had worked with Aronosky before; given that Jackman has had little American film success outside of the Wolverine character, he may seek to cling to it like Bela Lugosi to his Dracula cape. A stud on Broadway, Jackman’s non-X-Men films often bomb or under perform.
– Marvel will be relaunching GHOST RIDER with the creative team of Rob Williams and Matthew Clarke (htt
p://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31332); Williams wrote his SHADOWLAND one shot. Williams states that his run would feature a mysterious figure offering Johnny Blaze the chance to be rid of the Ghost Rider ability, but to not know who would have to suffer with it in his place. Danny Ketch is reported to show up in some capacity, but Sara the new Caretaker from the Jason Aaron run of last year will not; Williams wants “a fresh start” and to carry on from where things left off in SHADOWLAND. Normally, there have been two problems with the Ghost Rider franchise, beyond sticking to sales. The first is that his backstory continues to get more complicated and mixed up with every new retroactively inserted revelation; Daniel Way’s bit about the power being Heavenly, and not demonic, in nature, brings up no end of questions. The second, which is modestly due to the film(s), is that the line between Blaze and Ketch as Riders has blurred to the point that Ketch has been all but forgotten. This often happens to multiple versions of a character for a while; one, often the original, will “absorb” all of the best traits of the other mantle holders and take it for their own. This is common for TV and film adaptations of Robin, who has belonged to multiple identities; Dick Grayson will often “absorb”, say, the origin of Jason Todd (“BATMAN FOREVER”, with Two-Face, not Tony Zucco, killing his family), or the skills/costume/weapon of Tim Drake (virtually every Robin on TV uses a bo-staff, which Drake added to the mantle). This has happened to Ghost Rider. Johnny Blaze, the original, has “absorbed” the spiked leather jacket, chain manipulation and Penance Stare powers of Danny Ketch; while he uses a different motorcycle, Ketch was the first to don a truly “demonic” looking bike. The dilemma is then this confuses the audience about which powers came from where and leaves Ketch with less to make him distinct. Given that most readers who got into comics in the 90’s, Ghost Rider’s prime, read about the Ketch version, this is a legitimate dilemma. Meanwhile, Johnny Whitworth, star of “LIMITLESS”, has confirmed to AMC Theaters that he will play the villain Blackout in “GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE”, which stars Nicholas Cage reprising the role of Johnny Blaze (http://www.superherohype.com/news/articles/128896-blackout-confirmed-for-ghost-rider-spirit-of-vengeance). Rob Williams will also handle Iron Man for a series of IRON AGE one shots (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31388).
– Despite the return of Daredevil, David Liss and Jefte Paulo will continue to write T’Challa in BLACK PANTHER: MAN WITHOUT FEAR, and an upcoming arc will feature the revived Kraven the Hunter and T’Challa’s wife, Storm. After all, the best way for T’Challa to take care of Wakanda after Dr. Doom attempted a coup and negated the nation’s supply of Vibranium is to flee to Hell’s Kitchen and fight mobsters (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31366).
– David Liss will also handle a project called THE MYSTERY MEN for Marvel alongside artist Patrick Zircher, which focuses on a team of heroes fans have never heard of who operated in the 1920’s and early 1930’s, during the Great Depression and before the start of World War II (when most of Marvel’s heroes arose). At least one official Golden Age hero, the Fin, may be involved. While Marvel, or then Timely, had a slew of masked crime fighters in the late 1930’s into the 40’s, many of them were best known for foiling Nazi or Japanese plots of the time than fighting mobsters (even if many did fight mobsters and presumably had done so for years). In many ways this seems like a stab at something similar to the abandoned THE TWELVE project, only with new characters (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31367). One wonders if Marvel is so interested in lost Golden Age characters, they don’t utilize the Challenger – a masked 1941 vigilante who was a stone’s throw away from Batman and who was zapped to the modern day in SHE-HULK. The title has no connection to a spin off team from FLAMING CARROT who got a film in 1999.
– Garth Ennis will be writing a Nick Fury comic for Marvel’s MAX line that isn’t connected to the Marvel Universe (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31413). Kyle Higgins and Manual Garcia will write a four issue SUPREME POWER mini series for MAX, which is the first new material for the former J. Micheal Straczynski vehicle since 2008 (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31422). Between this and MARVEL ZOMBIES, Marvel never lets a dead horse remain unbeaten.
– Greg Pak will end his run on INCREDIBLE HULK with a story called “Heart Of The Monster” (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31420).
– “THE SIXTH GUN” writer Cullen Bunn will team with BATGIRL artist Lee Garbett for a four issue FEAR ITSELF mini series in July, which is called FEAR ITSELF: THE DEEP in which Namor, She-Hulk, Dr. Strange and Silver Surfer have a Defenders style adventure in which the heroes unite to aid Namor in dealing with a villain so terrible that even he knows he needs aid (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31385). It is interesting that Marvel has such little faith in the DEFENDERS name that they would rather sell it in a generic sounding event tie in mini. In addition, Fred Van Lente stated he would write an as-of-yet untitled FEAR ITSELF comic in which Amadeus Cho would team up with the new Power Man, Victor Alvarez.
– The ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN founding team of Brian Bendis and Mark Bagley will unite to craft a Marvel Icon book called BRILLIANT, which is a sign that Mark Millar isn’t the only ULTIMATE creator with a high opinion of himself. In seriousness, the premise is about a team of scientists who live in a realistic world in which they attempt to use science to make science fiction super powers “real”, often with unpredictable results (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31403). If it sounds like a movie pitch being done as a comic first, it probably is – that has worked out very well for Mark Millar lately. Marvel’s Icon line, which allows writers under contract with Marvel to publish creator owned work without d
oing so under another company (so Marvel can get some of the sales versus zero percent of them), has proven to be a hot commodity in terms of sales. Bendis has recently released another creator owned Icon work, TAKIO.
Last Week’s Marvel Comics News – http://hornface.com/comic-books-in-new-york/marvel-comics-news-for-3-15-11-spider-musical-woes-fear-itself-inhumans-film
This Week’s DC Comics News – http://hornface.com/comic-books-in-new-york/dc-comics-news-for-3-21-11-c2e2-edition-wonder-woman-tv-costume-more
This Week’s Indie Comics News – http://hornface.com/comic-books-in-new-york/indie-comics-news-for-3-21-11-c2e2-edition-star-wars-comixology-sailor-moon