Into Print: Marvel Shakes Up the Comic Landscape

SHAKOW! Last week was very eventful in the world of Comics, as Marvel unveiled some of their biggest stories of the year. For whatever reason, you people have given me enough readership to have a weird sense of hope that you might want to read about the source material for all of the movies I have been writing about. So, today, I begin to bring you news on the ground floor – updates on what is happening in the world of comics. There are three big issues that dropped last week, and I want to talk about each of them, what they could mean for the stories of the comic Marvel Universe, and how it might impact those who have fallen away or never gotten into comics in the first place. (Authors Note: I will begin each description by catching you up to the backstory, transition into what happened in the issue, and then finish with what the impact is. Obviously the first two parts are likely to have some SPOILERS so beware.)

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Captain America #25

This issue requires a good bit of back-story. Basically, in Cap #21, the Iron Nail fought with Steve Rogers (the Captain America that has always been), and ended up using these syringe-like things to steal the super-soldier serum from Cap’s blood. This caused him to immediately age to what his age “should” (creative liberties taken) be. So, for the past few issues, Steve has been commanding a team of Falcon, Jet, and his son around, trying to defeat Zola, and the Unvengers – a weird race of alien analogs to the Avengers. In Cap #24, Falcon, in order to save his love interest and rebellious daughter of Zola, Jet, flew a bomb that was about to explode out of the Earth’s atmosphere, and safely away from New York.

Marvel had already announced that there was going to be a new Captain America after the events of #21, and it was also announced that he would be black. Based off of that, and the pictures released by Marvel at the announcement, there was never any doubt that Sam Wilson (Falcon) would be taking the shield. However, after what happened in #24, I was shell-shocked, and had no idea what they were going to do. Captain America #25 opened up with Steve discussing the history of Sam’s character. How he was born to be a hero. How despite his lack of powers early on, he always protected the broken and needy. We see the Avengers huddled around the martyr, talking about how his morality was incorruptible, his will unshakeable, blah blah blah, more hero stuff, and bam, Sam slowly wakes up. There was a pretty dumb cop-out that involved Sam using a new set of Vibranium wings to protect himself from the blast, but it’s comics, so I can tolerate that. We then cut to a scene where the Avengers are just throwing a party for the victory, but Steve sees it as a celebration for the new Captain America. No surprise that it is Sam, and he even makes a super amazingly meta joke about how nobody should really be surprised. He yells “Avengers Assemble!!!” I shed one manly tear, and the issue is over, with Captain America being rebooted with a new #1 issue next month.

This is a great move for the character of Captain America. Cap is supposed to be the reader’s best link into the world of Norse Gods, Sorcerers, Gamma-Radiated freaks of nature, and mutants. He is human. He is idealistic. He is what we aspire to be. However, over the years Captain America has shifted away from that character. He has become a cosmic protector that has not aged in more than half a century. Moving Steve out of this role is a smart move for the character, and gives a new and growing generation of comic book readers a chance to identify with their own version of Captain America. I am very excited to see what Sam brings to the table as Captain America, and am ready for a very necessary update to the character.

 

Thor #1

Nobody freaked out about the Captain America announcement that much, because the announcement that Thor would now be a woman came nipping at its heels. Maybe people were more ready to criticize this move, because sexism is still more socially acceptable, but I think that the Marvel movies have done a great ob of developing a huge fan base of Thor. Because let’s face it, who doesn’t want those abs… and those shoulders… and that hair. Dang it. It’s happening again. Snap out of it, Bennett.

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Anyways, this is an interesting transition to explain, as the Thor you know is not necessarily ceasing to exist. He is still around, but can no longer wield his hammer Mjolnir (author’s note: I typed that, said “I’m probably butchering that.” I checked and I was right; I then sat back and observed how far into the geek rabbit hole I had gone). Woman Thor will now be the one to wield the hammer, and Man Thor will be kicking butt with Jarnbjorn, a massive axe that confirms that Thor owns the corner on badass weaponry. You may be wondering how we have arrived at a point where two Thors are existing, and who is replacing the worthy wielder of Mjolnir. To explain this, I will need SPOILERS, so ready yourself.

Basically, near the end of Marvel’s summer event Original Sin, during combat, kinda evil Nick Fury whispers a secret into the ear of Thor, causing him to go crashing down onto the surface of the moon. We still do not know that secret, and I am expecting for the new issues of Thor as well as the Avengers to dig into just why Thor lost control. Thor #1 picks up weeks after the final battle in Original Sin, and Thor is still on the moon trying with all of his might to reclaim his hammer. He has no such luck, and Odin (returning from exile) is distraught and vocally angry about his son’s incompetence. However, even Odin is unable to wield the weapon. At the end of the issue, we see the letter “s” appear before the word “he” on the iconic oath etched on the hammers surface, and we get our first look at the woman who will now be the Goddess of Thunder.

While, we got much less exposure to the new character in this issue as compared to Captain America #25, we still got an amazing glimpse into where this series is going. Not only do these changes give the movies somewhere to go when contracts run out, but they also separate themselves from the world of the cinematic universe, meaning that it is easier for fans of the movie to buy into these new characters. A big movie Thor fan may not like the way that current Thor has a very level head, is not very cocky, etc… However, they have no exposure to Woman Thor. Therethore, it is much easier to believe the characterization of this characthor (WHAT? YOU THINK BECAUSE WE HAVE A FANCY NEW REDESIGN, THAT WE ARE TOO BIG TO DO THOR PUNS!?)

 

Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier

This is the last big premier that Marvel released last week. This is the story of the fallout from Nick Fury no longer being the Man on the Wall – a cosmic guardian of planet earth sworn to stop (and sometimes kill) anything that threatens humanity. Bucky has now taken over this role, and is looking bad as all get out while he is at it. This is the first time that Bucky has had his own self-titled series. He wielded the shield for a time as Captain America, but it was short lived, and he quickly returned to his role as the Winter Soldier. Now, he retains that title, but with much greater responsibilities.

I could talk about the plot of this issue, but honestly, it was pretty simple. Bucky was on a strange planet, seemingly about to die or be “transfigured” into another animal “without killing thoughts.” His sidekick, who I will leaved unnamed, set him free, while killing the head honcho of this species. The rest of the issue is Bucky explaining his new role, and his commitment to it. It did a great job of setting up the character, but I really want to rave about the artist, Marco Rudy. It took me so long to get through this issue, because I would look at the drawings for a long time. The framing was very original, and the coloration of every image was beautiful. This is right up my alley with a bizarre surrealistic style of illustrating, and even if the story does nothing for me, I will continue to get these issues.

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The impact of this character introduces a new role within the universe that serves as a higher power to even some of the biggest heroes Marvel has to offer. I am very excited to see how Bucky – the tragic hero – develops through this role. I am ready to see him take on a bigger role within the universe. If this comic continues to be as stunning as the first issue, I have no idea how that won’t happen.

 

This is a very busy time for Marvel Comics. Juggling the escalating war they are fighting with Fox, revolutionizing these characters, and doing the new Axis event is a feat perhaps only Marvel could accomplish. I hope to keep you up to date on any developments that occur within the universe. If you have been waiting for things to spice up in the world of comics, now might be the time to get back into it. If you have never read before, you couldn’t ask for a better time, as Icon is also coming out with a few new books, and DC is beginning a new event as well. Hope you enjoy, and happy reading.

Bennett Garland is a student at Georgia Tech. Despite attending what is far and away the best school in the state of Georgia, he has far too much time on his hands and consumes video media at a ferocious pace. We don’t know how he finds time to watch all three dozen super hero movies that come out every summer while also watching every SyFy showing of Sharknado and Sharknado 2, but he does and writes about his adventures in film and music.

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