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4 Big Changes in the DC and Marvel Universes

Summer 2014 saw some crazy comic book announcements, everything from new Fraggle Rock comics to the end of Dark Horse’s Star Wars comics. But, as always, the most headline-grabbing announcements come from the big two: Marvel & DC.

Oddly enough, all four big announcements occurred before this year’s Comic Con. We’ve all likely seen and dissected all media coverage of these announcements by now, so let’s just recap them in chronological order:

1. Batgirl’s getting a new costume, new creative team, and new digs.

Source: Cameron Stewart/Robot 6

Source: Cameron Stewart/Robot 6

DC broke the news on July 10 that Gail Simone would be leaving as writer on the monthly Batgirl series. Simone held one of the longest sustained stretches on one of DC “New 52” initiatives. In her place starting in October will be the new team of writers Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart who’ll also be handling layouts and covers, acclaimed colorist Maris Wicks, and most surprisingly, artist Babs Tarr, a complete comics neophyte best known for her fanart and fashion illustrations.

Even bigger than the nearly uniformly positive reaction to the new team was the announcement of a new costume for Barbara Gordon containing a leather jacket, a snap-away cape, and a pair of real-life Doc Marten boots. This prompted an explosion of fan art–over 150 pieces in the first day alone–which is chronicled at the team’s unofficial Tumblr, Batgirl of Burnside.

That name references the story hook the new team is hanging their hat on. Deciding to go to grad school and get her Ph.D, Barbara will be leaving her current neighborhood for Gotham’s hipster haunt, Burnside. The team has also promised the overall tone of the book will be light and fun in what many see as a stark contrast to DC books in general and the Batman books in particular.

To encourage preorders, Cameron Stewart drew a quick comic where he had Batgirl explain the pre-ordering process (pictured above). (NOTE: That preview code for Batgirl #35 is no longer usable. But you can still pre-order it from Things From Another World).

2. The Falcon Is the New Captain America

Source: AtlantaBlackStar.com

Source: AtlantaBlackStar.com

Announced on The Colbert Report by Marvel bigwig Joe Quesada on July 16, starting in November, Sam Wilson aka The Falcon will wield the shield of Captain America. This comes on the heels of the Falcon’s surprising crowd-pleasing debut in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

It would seem that the idea was quickly generated after the unexpected goodwill towards the Falcon on-screen. But given that the current Cap creative team of writer Rick Remender and artist Carlos Pacheco is involved, one wonders if the idea was already on the docket. Wilson will take over as Cap because of Steve Rogers realizing after the events of Remender’s run so far–which included being stuck in the hellish Dimension Z for over a decade, tangling with the unstable Nuke and dealing with SHIELD agent-turned-supervillain the Iron Nail–that he’s now just too old to keep fighting the good fight.

3. Thor Will Now Be A Woman

Source: Marvel

Source: Marvel

The day before Quesada appeared on Colbert, the hosts of The View announced that in October, Thor’s hammer will now be taken up by a woman. It’s been speculated that this is Angela, the former Spawn character who was introduced into the Marvel Universe after 2012’s Age Of Ultron event. Introduced into the MU via Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s been revealed that Angela is actually the long-lost sister of Thor and Loki.

Additionally, events in current Avengers comics have hinted that Thor is increasingly no longer becoming worthy of wielding his hammer Mjolnir. Current Thor writer Jason Aaron–who’ll be writing the new book with artist Russell Dauterman–has played coy with the character’s identity, mostly hinting that it is not a new character. Other speculation includes Jane Foster, the Lady Sif and a lot more in a breakdown available here.

4. Iron Man Will Turn Into Steve Jobs

Source: Marvel

Source: Marvel

This is the least astonishing of these announcements, but it’s a big deal regardless. In November, Tony Stark will relocate to San Fransisco–as all tech moguls must–and rebrand himself as the “Superior Iron Man.” The new outfit and an overview of the story was revealed to Entertainment Weekly.

The new storyline–to run in a new comic also called Superior Iron Man by writer Tom Taylor and artist Yildray Cinar–involves Stark relocating to California. There, he unleashes a mobile app version of his powerful Extremis technology which Newsarama says will offer “beauty, perfection … and possibly immortality.” Of course, there is a dark side to all of this that Stark must confront.

The Superior Iron Man and the new Thor and Cap are all part of Marvel’s upcoming “Avengers NOW!” initiative. This is another step on the path the publisher has been in since they launched Marvel NOW! two years ago in response to DC’s New 52. Basically, the NOW! branding has consisted of bold new directions for books with easy jumping-on points for new readers. In some cases, books have had a very short run, only to be relaunched with a new #1 sometimes only 12 issues later.

As aggravating as that must be to comic book retailers, it’s still been successful. After briefly losing to DC in 2011, Marvel is once again at the top of the comic book heap. Speaking of comic books, notice something about all these announcements?

Not at one point–not in the big TV segments, not in the online rollouts–did Marvel or DC say ANYTHING about when these comics are coming out, how to preorder them or even explaining how to find comics shops.

Now, obviously the bulk of Marvel and DC’s income comes from merchandising and the movies and TV shows rather than the comics themselves. It’s been like that for decades, actually.

But in an age where comics are now cool, shouldn’t a comics publisher–even if it’s part of an enormous conglomerate–be explaining how to find comic books? Really, it’s easier than ever to find comics now. Comicshoplocator.com has existed for years, after all. Comics can be bought on Kindle and iPad. And in addition, there’s also Comixology, basically the best place possible to get comics digitally. Granted, the system for pre-ordering comics through Diamond Distributors is somewhat difficult (you have to look up the proper code online, then tell it to a retailer). But it’s still possible.

This sort of thing is needed if the Big Two won’t do it themselves. Because it all comes down to publishing trends and market responses. If the fans don’t vote with their wallets, Batgirl goes back to wearing combat armor.

Listen: eventually Thor will be a man again. Steve Rogers will return to being Captain America (probably just in time for Avengers 3). The status quo is where superhero comics must return to. But responding to all these new changes and books by buying them–and other outsider books like Gotham Academy and Gotham By Midnight–enthusiastically and as single issues, is the only way to ensure that more of this thing is done.

We’ve seen how this works already with the new Ms. Marvel; the first issue recently went into its sixth printing, a rarity for any comic nowadays. So it has to be done here. You can preorder all of these comics at Things From Another World (yeah, you have to create an account but it takes a minute and the site is awesome) or you can find and call your local shop through comicshoplocator.com.

Please enjoy what you find and remember to spread the word. This stuff needs to be known and talked about because yeah, the status quo will soon come back. But every month it doesn’t is a huge victory for everyone. And who knows? If these take off, the status quo could change. It has before. Who’s to say it won’t this time?

Cover Image Source: Comics Alliance

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Categories: Comics, Editorials and Ramblings

Author:Tom Speelman

A lifetime of reading comics and watching television has left Tom with an inexhaustible supply of pop culture knowledge from the obvious to the obscure. Rather than keep it all in his brain for use at parties, Tom turned to writing a few years ago to help him share that knowledge with as many people as are remotely interested. Tom writes for several websites including The Mary Sue, Strange Horizons, Loser City and others. For even further rambling, follow him on Twitter @tomtificate.

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2 Comments on “4 Big Changes in the DC and Marvel Universes”

  1. 09/07/2014 at 11:34 AM #

    Speaking of DC Comics, I do suggest you to buy this trade they recently released: http://www.dccomics.com/graphic-novels/cinder-and-ashe. Give it a try: you’ll thank me. : )

  2. 09/08/2014 at 11:15 AM #

    Reblogged this on Another Castle and commented:
    My assorted thoughts on the big changes coming to the Big Two this fall and the one thing they’re not telling you.

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