KC COLUMN: EVERYTHING NEW IS OLD AGAIN

KC Carlson

KC Carlson


by KC Carlson

Fans of Marvel Comics and DC Comics may be in for a shock this summer if they think they’re just reading the adventures of the current interpretations of their favorite characters. The “reality” is something altogether different. (And if you think that reality-in-quotes is a clue, then you’ve probably been reading superhero comics for as long as I have.)

Both company’s annual summer crossover stunts are taking a giant step back in time by devising new storylines based on some of the most popular events from their publishing histories. For DC, there’s a new threat to the Multiverse that affects not only their New-52 version of continuity but also includes glimpses into three previous events. Those events were big blockbusters designed to not only “adjust” problem areas in their overall storyline continuity but also to provide new readers an opportunity to “start here” with fresh starts and re-definitions to their most popular characters while also (hopefully) launching new characters who could stand the test of time.

Marvel has generally treated its events in a different way, usually just “tweaking” their characters (new costumes; different motivations; moving some characters off the playing field for a while, while adding new ones to the mix). They’ve never been one for major, cosmic level changes — although turning some of their characters (Scarlet Witch, Cyclops) into killers over the years has rubbed a number of people the wrong way. And they like to play fast and loose with the concept that the Marvel Universe is now over 50 years old in publishing years, yet not more than a decade (and a few years…) in story time — yet they pride themselves on reflecting “topical” and real-world events. It’s what makes them Marvel. (And not DC.) But it causes real problems in a mostly fictional timeline, especially in keeping their major characters young and vital.

But I’m not here to debate this right now. Heaven knows there are plenty of sites across the internet striving to interpret superheroic timelines. (Keywords: comic book continuity, timeline, shared universe, publishing history, etc.) My experience in reading about comic book continuity on the internet is to start reading one of these more generic sites, and you will find so many links to specific points of discussion, it will make your head spin. Be prepared to bookmark. Also, don’t forget to stop and eat every couple of days.

CONVERGING ON CONVERGENCE

Convergence #1

Convergence #1


Convergence is DC’s event for this (early) summer, and thoughtfully, it’s compressed into just two publishing months and a stray pre- and post- issue here or there. In the real world, it gives DC’s editorial staff time off to move cross-country to their new HQ in Los Angeles and not have to worry about ever-present deadlines. Convergence has had a pretty tortured birthing, with at least one (non-public) false start, but it seems to have come together well with a bunch of long-time DC creatives hammering out the overview, including Futures End co-writers Dan Jurgens, Keith Giffen, Brian Azzarello, and Jeff Lemire. Others involved with the project include Scott Snyder, Scott Lobdell, Convergence writer Jeff King, and DC co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio. “The Convergence” was first mentioned in 2012 in DC Universe Presents #7 (featuring the Challengers of the Unknown), written by DiDio, so it’s something that Dan D. has been thinking about for awhile.

The first mention of The Convergence from DC Universe Presents #7

The first mention of The Convergence from DC Universe Presents #7


The raison d’être of Convergence is that the multiverse is broken (again — DC’s pretty rough with their toys), and things are again cosmically crazy. Luckily, instead of all hell breaking loose, it’s just the focal points of previous times the multiverse has been jostled (Crisis on Infinite Earths — celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year — Zero Hour, and Flashpoint), leading to adventures and crossovers and team-ups with versions of characters from those periods of time, as well as others (Tangent, anyone?). Readers who have been studying up in preparation for Convergence also see some similarities to Infinite Crisis and its follow-up “One Year Later”. Grant Morrison’s Multiversity (especially its Guidebook) is essential to keeping the 52 Universes straight.

Convergence: Booster Gold #2

Convergence: Booster Gold #2


Well, I’m obviously interested, having lived through Zero Hour as its editor, several continuities ago, as well as the original Crisis On Infinite Earths, which got me interested in comics again during a period when I almost walked away from them forever. But the other reason that I’m getting seriously jazzed is the tease that some long-running plot-threads that were abruptly dropped when Flashpoint/New-52 suddenly happened (Wally West, Barbara Gordon/Dick Grayson, and Stephanie Brown — just to name a few) may finally get addressed here. (Don’t screw it up, DC.) Plus, former Charlton characters and Booster Gold vs. the LSH?!? Insane!

Convergence: Shazam #2

Convergence: Shazam #2


Other surprising cameos: Detroit-era JLA, Kingdom Come cast, characters from the Great Disaster (including the Atomic Knights), Infinity, Inc., Freedom Fighters, Time Masters, and — of course — Ambush Bug and Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew. And even Scribbly Jibbet! (Don’t know him? Look him up! So cool that he’s included!)

SHHHHHH… IT’S A SECRET!

Secret Wars #2

Secret Wars #2


As far as Secret Wars goes, I still don’t have a complete handle on what’s happening, other than it bringing Jonathan Hickman’s multi-year run on the Avengers titles to an explosive close! Battleworld from the original SW is majorly involved, but I hope Marvel treads carefully as the original Secret Wars (and especially its sequel) isn’t as universally beloved as much as you might think — especially to older fans. But, of course, a brand is a brand…

The core series is eight extra-sized bi-weekly issues long. Apparently, the Marvel Universe is destroyed when it collides with the Ultimate Universe, which is also left pining for the fjords! Whoops! And that’s just issue #1! It’s going to be an all-encompassing event throughout the summer, and it’s going to lead to sweeping changes for much of the Marvel Universe. Which, for now, is tightly under wraps, but rumored to have been in the planning stages for a while now. (They don’t call their lead creators “architects” for nothin’, ya’ know.)

A-Force #1

A-Force #1


As per any major project of this scale, there are going to be a lot of series being canceled, with new ones created to take their place. I can’t be too specific about the cancellations, though, since Marvel is being particularly cagey about whether series are putting out a final issue, just going on hiatus, or will later return. The usual “final issue” notes or details on whether a book is a one-shot, a miniseries, or a series are missing from their ordering information, making it tricky to get a handle on just how large an event this is going to be.

Ultimate End #1

Ultimate End #1


For instance, there’s a five-issue series called Ultimate End which wraps up the Ultimate Universe storylines. (But maybe not for good… They’ve played this trick before.) So far, there are books scheduled (both miniseries and one-shots) that harken back to Marvel’s past (Inferno, Infinity Gauntlet, Old Man Logan, Secret Wars 2099), with much more to come. And new stuff. A-Force is an all-female Avengers squad which includes X-Men, Inhumans, and former Avengers in the line-up. Planet Hulk features a gaggle of Hulks — and a battle-worn gladiator named Steve Rogers. Spider-Verse is a new Spider-centric team book featuring a lot of webs and legs. And the five-issue Where Monsters Dwell begins with the Phantom Eagle fighting dinosaurs from a bi-plane, and ends. Some. Place. Else. It’s by the team that brought you The Boys — Garth Ennis and Russ Braun, with covers by Frank Cho.

Thors #1 Variant Cover

Thors #1 Variant Cover


And that’s just the first month. Month two is even bigger: Thors (by Jason Aaron and my old pal Chris Sprouse) stars Thors of every era and dimension (even that frog one…) in a cosmic police drama. With hammers… Runaways is a new take on the cult concept, starring the Marvel Universe’s younger heroes (including the cult classic characters, but Valeria Richards is also spotlighted here). It’s written by Noelle Stevenson (Lumberjanes, Nimona)… Ghost Racers just looks bizarre, but if you love flamin’ skulls, you’ll love this!… Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde stars Marvel’s latest young lovers — but one (or both) of them just might be from another reality… Marvel Zombies get TWO Secret Wars outings — a “solo” title and an unlikely pairing with the Age of Ultron… And a dream come true for all those fans that are still mad about that Spider-Man story, Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows (by Dan Slott and Adam Kubert) brings us up-to-date on Peter Parker, his wife Mary Jane Watson, and their daughter in something that Marvel is torturing us with by calling it “The Last Spider-Man Story”.

Years of Future Past #1

Years of Future Past #1


And then there’s just the weird concepts: 1602 Witch Hunter AngelaWeirdworld is for swords and sorcery lovers, featuring the weird and fantastic from throughout Marvel history. Like Arkon the barbarian and maybe a Crystal Warrior! It’s written by Jason Aaron… Squadron Sinister spotlights Marvel’s baddest inter-dimensional bad guys… 1872 stars sheriff Steve Rogers, town drunk Anthony Stark, and Bruce Banner in the old western boom town of Timely… Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps stars girls with guts, guile, and a whole lot of grit in high-flying action written by Kelly Sue DeConnick… Armor Wars is exactly what you think it is. Only shinier and battlier (is that a word?)… X-Men ‘92 is equally on-the-nose!… Peter David returns to his Future Imperfect concept, starring the Maestro against some surprising foes, including Odin, The Thing, X-Factor, and Ruby Summers!… Years of Future Past stars Kate Pryde and her family in a new take in the popular setting… Similarly, X-Tinction Agenda takes us back to Genosha for a not-so-great update there… And for the trifecta, E for Extinction is yet another new twist on a classic mutant storyline… Meanwhile, Korvac returns, seemingly corrupting the original Guardians of the Galaxy in Korvac Saga!… Guardians of Knowhere is a twist on the current Guardians by Bendis and Deodato… And then there’s Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos (and they really howl!) And Giant Size Little Marvel: AVX by Skottie Young! Yay!

Amazing Spider-Man : Renew Your Vows #1

Amazing Spider-Man : Renew Your Vows #1


So, lots of interesting reading over the next few months. Do whatever you have to do — mortgage the house, rig and win the lottery, kidnap and ransom Irving Forbush and Ambush Bug. (Hey! Why aren’t they teaming up?) Looks like there’s at least a title (or three) for everyone!

FINAL THOUGHT

And to wrap stuff up, here are some lyrics from “Back In Time” as performed and written by Huey Lewis and the News. You might remember it from a 1985 film called Back to the Future. It’s about time.

Don’t bet your future

On one roll of the dice

Better remember

Lightning never strikes twice

Hope that doesn’t come true for Convergence and Secret Wars!

____________________________

KC CARLSON: At least you don’t need any special glasses for all these dimensions and alternate worlds. Now that would just be annoying…

WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you. Like Hypertime. Or Continuity Implant. I’m actually very fortunate that my body rejected my Continuity Implant.

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