Movies & TV / Columns

Thoughts on the Next Phase for Marvel Comics

September 1, 2021 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Marvel Comics Timeless Photo Credit: Marvel Comics

Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

Last time we discussed 5 Essential Spider-Man Stories. Here’s what some of you had to say:

MoMoney1985: “Birth of Venom and Kraven’s Last Hunt. Last Hunt was such a great story. That image of Spiderman crawling out of the grave is iconic. I think Death of Gwen Stacey should take the top spot as the most memorable and impactful storyline of them all”

PMH: “Honorable Mention: Maximum Carnage, the most 90s thing that ever 90s

Amazing #400 (until it was retconned)
Death of the Stacys
Spider-Man No More
Kraven’s Last Hunt
The Hobgoblin (before they brought back Green Goblin like four times)

Worst? Torment (cool art, bro. Now how about an actual Spider-Man story?) and most of the Clone Saga”

Solomon Grundy: “Vintage Spiderman Ditko & Stan Lee, Right around issue #30-33 The Master Planner Saga (AKA if this be my destiny). The story is just classic spiderman, introduces Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborne and hits all the right story notes. Had some beat up copies of these comics I still wish I had back in the 80’s as a kid. Thank goodness I have the collected edition of this now….”

Gold Any Ranger: “Parallel Lives. A graphic novel from the 80s focusing on backstory for Peter and MJ, with Doc Ock thrown in for conflict.

Life in the Mad Dog Ward. Peter in a psychiatric ward. The covers really stand out.

The three part storyline with Harry’s drug addiction. Stan Lee made the decision to publish them without Comics Code approval, which was groundbreaking.

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21.:The Wedding of Peter and MJ. A landmark moment for Peter.

Saga of the Black Costume. Without that, there is no Venom.”

Ken Wood: “Definitely Kraven’s Last Hunt. Anyone who calls this overrated is wrong.
I’m also partial to Spiderman’s encounters with Venom and Carnage. The introduction of Eddy Brock as Venom and Spiderman eventually defeating him. then having Carnage show up and Spiderman and Venom teaming up to defeat him. Love those stories.
The death of Captain Stacy is an important one in Spiderman’s history and understanding Spiderman.”

BN” “Ultimate Spider-Man #13 has entered the chat”

El Atomico: “I remember Kraven’s Last Hunt. There was some cool stuff, for sure, though it was marred, IMO, by a confusing release date and reading order, where you had to find out “okay, read this one before last month’s Web Of but before next week’s Amazing, then go back and read Spectacular…” and so on and so forth.”

Some awesome comments last week! Thanks for the input and keep it coming!

This week we discuss…

The Next Phase of Marvel Comics
Before you start rolling your eyes and scrolling to the comments, let me explain why this is exciting to me. It looks like Marvel is finally starting to coordinate its comic books with cinematic and TV offerings. Not saying that they haven’t in the past but this looks like a more focused effort beginning with the way they announced eight new titles as part of the company’s celebration of its 82nd birthday.

Look for these in 2021 and early 2021, these books are being announced by the company to “shape the future of the Marvel Universe in the months to come.”

Devil’s Reign
From the pages of the current Daredevil run by Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto, Kingpin is turning his grip on New York City as its mayor into a stranglehold by outlawing all superheroes and releasing everything he and the municipal government have on the heroes’ secret identities and more.

Backed by a new version of the Thunderbolts which he debuted back during ‘King in Black,’ Kingpin will face off against Daredevil, Elektra, Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, “and more.”

Avengers Forever
The classic ’90s storyline ‘Avengers Forever’ gets brought back in name and spirit in December as a multiversal Avengers line-up is recruited to “bring order to timelines where ‘hope’ is a four-letter word.”

The team include an alternate reality version of Tony Stark where he’s an archeologist and “Invincible Ant-Man.”

Avengers writer Jason Aaron has been hinting at this kind of event for the past year or so and recently introduced a Multiversal Masters of Evil in the Avengers / Hulk: Free Comic Book Day special.  For the Avengers Forever ongoing series, Aaron is teaming with artist Aaron Kuder.

Coming out of the current Kang the Conqueror limited series, Timeless follows the time traveler as he defends Marvel’s main universe, the 616, against a “threatening new timeline” that has emerged.

Writer Jed Mackay joins a trio of artists: Kev Walker, Joe Bennett, and Mark Bagley.

X Lives and X Deaths of Wolverine
Ben Percy, writer of the current Wolverine series, is planning on turning up the heat on the mutant in two interlocking limited series titled X Lives of Wolverine and X Deaths of Wolverine.

Shades of the format used in House of X and Powers of X, these two series will, according to Marvel, will show “what happens to Wolverine when…His Pasts Meets His Future.”

Percy will be joined on this by his X-Force coworker Joshua Cassara, along with Federico Vicentini.

Timing this along the upcoming Disney Plus series, She-Hulk returns to comic book shelves with a new ongoing series by writer Rainbow Rowell and artist Rogê Antônio.

Picking up after the powered-up version of She-Hulk in the Avengers ongoing series and the current ‘World War She-Hulk’ storyline which she is kidnapped and put through the Black Widow Red Room re-programming center, this new series will follow Jennifer Walters as she tries to put it all behind her and find a life outside of superheroing again as a lawyer.

Fantastic Four: Reckoning War
Writer Dan Slott has been hinting at a mysterious event called ‘the Reckoning War’ in his various titles ranging from She-Hulk to the current Fantastic Four, and now it’s finally happening with Fantastic Four: The Reckoning War.

Described as a re-ignition of “the original secret war of the Marvel Universe”, Fantastic Four: The Reckoning War will be drawn by Carlos Pacheco and Rachael Stott.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur
Ahead of the Disney Channel Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur animated series debuting in 2022, Marvel is relaunching the original limited series. Unlike the seven other announcements today, the publisher didn’t reveal the creators involved or any significant clues on the storyline.

Overall, I’m pleased to see some coordination and fresh spins on the titles above. Marvel has missed a number of opportunities over the years to capture new fans but hopefully this pays off for them in the long run. 
Which title are you most excited about?

That’s all the time I have. See you next week!