By Todd Allen
We’re a little less than three weeks away from Comicon and there’s a ton of speculation about Marvel’s next move. Which is assuming there is a *formal* next move, granted. If you look at the May sales estimates, AVX is distracting from a sad state of affairs. Throw out the AVX minis, and no estimate breaks 70K. Throw out the Avengers and X-titles getting pumped up by the event (which are just under 70K and would likely be clustered about 60K without the bump). Selling in the 50Ks are three Spider-Man issues and Uncanny X-Force sneaks in. So the 40K band is pretty decent sales at Marvel these days. Throw out their most successful sales stunt in years and the rest of the line is as low as Marvel has been.
It has been announced that Brian Bendis will be leaving all the Avengers titles, somewhere around the end of 2012. It has been announced Jonathan Hickman is going to be leaving Fantastic Four and FF. (Begging the question of whether you need to still have FF without Hickman.) The rumor mill is churning that Fraction is off Iron Man and Thor. I’ll admit Iron Man has felt like it’s in an awful hurry to wrap up lately and Thor looks to be in a crossover with Journey Into Mystery where both titles are double-shipping in September to end that mini-Event. You hear a lot of other things bandied about like the X-titles getting creative refreshes. This has led to some theories.
It’s a pretty commonly held belief that Marvel’s going to be doing a large creative shuffle, based on the Bendis and Hickman announcements and the persistent Thor and Iron Man rumors. It is suspected this will be turned into an Event, similar to DC’s New 52 relaunch. Fresh creative teams, mass jumping on point. At this point relatively few people think Marvel will reboot their continuity (that’s what the Ultimate universe is for), but a lot of people are openly asking if there are a LOT of new #1s heading our way in October.
I decided to try and backtrack the Hickman and Bendis announcements to see if there was anything concrete pointing to October, since those are the only two “official” data points.
According Marvel’s website, Hickman’s last issues are supposed to be Fantastic Four #611 and FF #23, both which would ship in October. Which is not to say those titles couldn’t double ship in October with the new team following. Marvel does plenty of double shipping these days.
I haven’t seen a last issue for Bendis on any of the Avengers titles, but I also haven’t seen any solicitations for “Ultron War,” thought by some to be the end cap to the Bendis Avengers saga. Will he be running Ultron War in Avengers? Will it be an Event mini-series? Will it be an event mini-series that brings the cosmic portion of the Marvel universe into the forefront? (Ultron was involved in the various Annihilation Events that took over the Marvel cosmic line.) For that matter, is Bendis going to take the reigns of the cosmic titles, post-Avengers? All valid questions. All questions the make you wonder if coordinated changes are coming en mass to October or, if such things are really happening, will it be later?
And there we are. Two confirmed creators, one without a firm end date and a major project not yet scheduled. Another with his last issue scheduled for October.
The October solicitations should drop just as people are heading to San Diego, if things follow the normal schedule. In recent years, Marvel (among other publishers) has backed off making really major announcements at Comicon because all the film and television tends to drown out the comics announcements. If Marvel was rebooting their entire continuity (again, this isn’t a popular theory and mostly is only spoken of because DC did it), yes — that would probably break through into the type of media they’d want to get, even at Comicon. If they’re just going to be having new #1 issues, that’s going to be lost in the shuffle where the non-comics press is concerned. If there’s just some creative teams swapping around, as most people think, that’s going to be completely lost.
So we sit and we wait. If Marvel’s really going to be doing a modest shuffling of their creative teams in October, they’ll probably drop some news about that in the next couple weeks and let some buzz build prior to Comicon. If this rumored swatch of changes is really going to be November, they’re more likely to drop the news during the show and court more attention afterwards.
The announced departures, the rumored changes, DC’s relaunch and Marvel’s sagging non-Event sales have combined for some pretty serious speculation. I figure we’ll have a better idea what’s really going on in three weeks or less.