– As weeks continue to pass, Marvel Comics announce more and more of their newest launches and re-launches as part of their “Marvel NOW!” editorial push. The biggest confirmation was the launch of SAVAGE WOLVERINE in January from writer/artist Frank Cho. As reported from Marvel.com, the story takes place in the Savage Land and involves “an evil ancient god” which Wolverine and others accidentally awaken, and then have to stop. It will not only take place in the Savage Land, but will team Wolverine to Shanna the She-Devil. As mentioned in this column last week, Cho previously worked on a mini-series about Shanna at the start of the decade, so this confirmation is right in his wheelhouse. Shanna’s husband Ka-Zar will not appear, likely because cheesecake is apparently more desired than beefcake. Cho has been unable to handle a monthly ongoing title without assistance from other artists for years, and this sounds more like an arc than an ongoing series premise. Will Cho vacate the series (save for covers) after the first arc? Or are Marvel cynically planning to run a line full of mini series due to diminishing returns on sales and simply not being upfront about it?
More “Marvel NOW!” teasers were announced and/or confirmed by the company over the past week as well (via Newsarama). The formerly announced SUPERIOR (slated for Jan. 2013 as well) will be a series which will feature Dan Slott, Hunberto Ramos, Ryan Stegman, Giuseppe Camuncoli. These are the writer and artists who have all been involved in the regular production of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN for the past few years. That long running ongoing series is slated to end with issue #700 in December; thus, this may be what is relaunched for Spider-Man in its place. Also slated for the start of 2013 is something called “AMATEURS” which will be worked on by writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie; will it be a relaunch of YOUNG AVENGERS? On Marvel’s “next big thing” conference call, writer Jonathan Hickman announced that the roster of the next NEW AVENGERS relaunch will feature “the Illuminati” – Iron Man, Namor, Black Bolt and Dr. Strange – with appearances by Black Panther, Mr. Fantastic and Beast. Expect more revelations from the New York Comic Con on the weekend.
– While Marvel Studios are hard at work on the next “phase” of major motion pictures, two new announcements were made in regards to their small screen output as well. Executive VP of Marvel TV, Jeph Loeb, announced a CGI animated direct-to-video film set for sale on April 23rd to Entertainment Weekly/Newsarama. Called “IRON MAN & HULK: HEROES UNITED” and will team the titular heroes against the monstrous energy villain Zzzax. Adrian Pasdar will reprise the voice role of Iron Man from DisneyXD’s “ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN”, while Dee Bradley Baker will play the Hulk. This would be the first direct-to-video animated feature released by Marvel since “THOR: TALES OF ASGARD” hit shelves in May 2011; that was the final product from an alliance with Lion’s Gate which is now over.
In addition, the union between Marvel and Madhouse Studios in Japan (and Sony) to produce a line of “Marvel anime” will continue. The initial phase from 2009 produced four separate 12 episode series based on Iron Man, Wolverine, the X-Men and Blade; they subsequently aired on G4 and saw box set release on DVD. Loeb will continue this project with “IRON MAN: RISE OF THE TECHNOVORE” which will be another direct-to-video animated film set for release in “spring 2013”. The film will not only feature Iron Man battling against the 1990’s era monster, it will also feature War Machine, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the Punisher. This could be a more concerted effort to compete against Warner Brothers Home Video and their line of DC Universe animated DVD features. Interestingly, Punisher was licensed to Lion’s Gate for films since the start of the decade, and was the first license to revert back to Marvel control after Disney’s purchase of the company in 2009-2010.
– Daily Mail, a UK tabloid, has noted that two British actresses Emily Blunt and Ruth Wilson are in talks for a role in Marvel Studios’ “THE AVENGERS 2” in 2015. Apparently both are competing for the role of Ms. Marvel according to this rumor; the heroine has recently returned in her own comic book series called CAPTAIN MARVEL written by Majorie Liu. Considering the notable role that Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow got in Joss Whedon’s original blockbuster this summer, it stands to reason he’d wish to add another heroine (or two) to the cast. Marvel Studios may also wish to capitalize on Warner Brothers’ reluctance to put any of their own notable female characters on film besides Catwoman and (historically) Supergirl.