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New York Comic-Con: The biggest comic news from this year's show

While it isn’t quite the pop culture juggernaut that San Diego Comic-Con has become, New York Comic-Con is still a very big, very crowded show with lots to see and do. However, not having the media circus that is Hall H comes with its perks: NYCC feels much more focused on comics—even if there aren’t as many new titles announced.

This year was a bit light on comics news when compared to San Diego, but the industry has a large number of conventions held throughout the year, and big news can come out of any of them. Here’s the most exciting stuff to come out of New York last weekend:


Marvel confirms end of 'Fantastic Four' comic book series

Recent rumors have suggested Marvel’s First Family would be seeing an end in comic book form, and the publisher confirmed those suspicions during a panel at New York Comic Con this weekend.


From damsel to hero: Gwen Stacy's awesome turn as Spider-Woman

For all of its many faults, one of the best things this spring’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had going for it was Emma Stone in the role of Gwen Stacy.

The film’s script, unfortunately, didn’t really do her any favors, up to and including—here’s your spoiler warning—her death at the end of the film. Purists might disagree; they’d cite the fact that the film stays true to the comic-book source material and that it was a watershed moment for comics. They’d be right about those things: That’s what Gwen Stacy does. She dies. But with each passing year, it seems less like necessary canon and more like missed opportunity—as a new comic book released this week shows.


How 'Moon Knight' revamped a stagnant character into one of Marvel's best

Even in a world where Guardians of the Galaxy is playing in theaters, Moon Knight is an obscure character. Long seen as Marvel’s odd Batman analogue (Moon Knight’s alter ego, Mark Spector, has dissociative personality disorder), Moon Knight managed to star in his own book on and off throughout the ’80s before disappearing almost entirely in 1994. Marvel would attempt to revive the character in fits and starts in the late 2000s, with a couple of ongoing series and roles in team books like Secret Avengers.

But it wasn’t until 2014, 20 years after the end of the characters late ’80s-early ’90s heyday, that Moon Knight would finally be done right. The genius of Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire’s striking reinvention of Moon Knight, which began last March and concluded this week, is that none of that history matters—and yet all of it does. If you’ve been following the character since his first appearance in 1972’s Werewolf by Night #32, the new run is both informed by and subverts Marc Spector’s 40-plus-year history. There are subtle nods to his supporting cast and prior adventures while a completely new take on Spector’s psyche and mission finally give the character a role that finally feels distinct for who he is rather than who he is not—which, again, was Batman, but crazy.

This take on Moon Knight zeroes in on Marc Spector’s connection to the Egyptian moon god Khonshu, who resurrected Spector and drove him to be Moon Knight. Although Khonshu has been a part of the character’s origin since the very beginning, the new series has a center that previous incarnations have lacked. Instead of being Khonshu’s generic avatar of vengeance, Spector, as Moon Knight, is meant to bring vengeance to those who would harm travelers by night. He preys on predators.

Following in the tradition of other Marvel books like Hawkeye that exist unburdened by the need to tie into any current continuity, every issue of Moon Knight begins with this text: “Mercenary Marc Spector died in Egypt, under a statue of the ancient deity Khonshu. He returned to life in the shadow of the moon god, and wore his aspect to fight crime for his own redemption. He went completely insane, and disappeared. This is what happened next.” Interspersed throughout the first issue are a few spare details about Marc Spector and how he’s different: He’s no longer insane, at least not in the clinical sense. Instead, he’s host to the consciousness of moon god Khonshu, which manifests in four different aspects—the personalities his mind develops to cope.

With that little bit of mythology dealt with, writer Warren Ellis goes on to continually reinforce this new, distilled take on the character. Moon Knight is a protector of those who travel by night, a lone vigilante who dresses in white because he likes it when bad guys can see him coming. This clearer, simpler take on the character moves his madness—which in recent memory had been Moon Knight’s defining, violent, character trait—from text to subtext. He’s no longer crazy because he thinks he’s one of four different people (although he’s not the only one residing in his head), he’s crazy because he dresses in white and calmly walks towards monsters and criminals that can gun him down.

Not to mention that he now wears a snazzy three-piece suit with his mask and gloves and calls himself  ‘Mr. Knight’ when meeting with civilians who ask for his help, Sherlock Holmes-style.

The five issues that follow proceed to tell a series of self-contained stories that even unfamiliar readers could enjoy. A mysterious sniper, a gang of ghost punks, a dream that afflicts the patients of one particular doctor, an abandoned building full of thugs holding a little girl hostage—all served as premises in what would become an anthology series of sorts. Moon Knight, in one of his guises, would be the reader’s guide into the strange, dark recesses of Marvel’s New York City.

As satisfying as Ellis’ scripts are, the bold visual work from the art and color team of Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire are just as integral to Moon Knight’s fascinating reinvention. In an inspired creative decision, colorist Jordie Bellaire chose to color Moon Knight white by not coloring him at all—the untouched linework cuts such a jarring, standout figure that serves as a great visual reflection of Ellis’ take on the character. As Moon Knight says in the fifth issue, he’s “the one you see coming.”

One of the joys of the new Moon Knight is watching artist Declan Shalvey stretch his boundaries more in every issue. With plenty of room left in the scripts for him to flex his storytelling muscles, Shalvey delivers seedy tenements, wall-to-wall action, weird supernatural phenomena, and trippy psychedelic dreamscapes with aplomb. Nothing about the first issue suggests that Moon Knight will be punching ghosts in the third, but it happens, and it’s thanks to Shalvey’s skill that it works so well. Together with the work of colorist Jordie Bellaire, Shalvey depicts a New York City that both feels authentic and yet somehow off. It’s unmistakably New York, but it’s also a cemetery, full of terrible things that are never shown but feel like they’re there, just waiting for you to walk through it’s streets alone and unguarded. It’s the kind of place that needs Moon Knight.

It’s kind of devious, the way Shalvey’s range is slowly shown off throughout the run as stranger elements are slowly introduced until they just explode off the page in the book’s fourth issue, which saw Moon Knight go from urban action with a touch of the supernatural to full-blown acid trip. Shalvey also understands how to craft compelling action sequences that are both clear and spare, conveying a lot of information to the reader without wasting an inch of the page.

The sixth issue of Moon Knight, out this week, marks the end of this creative team’s tenure on the book. It’s a fine sendoff—a story about a disgruntled cop from the first issue who feels marginalized by Moon Knight’s presence and decides to assume the identity of one of his greatest foes. Everything that made the first five issues great is present, and then some. The Ellis/Shalvey/Bellaire finale is another great standalone story, but it also places the previous five stories in a greater context, one that clearly states what was only hinted at if you were paying attention: Marc Spector is utterly, completely alone.

It’s right there in every page: When he’s not in his abandoned old mansion by himself, he’s operating out of a remote controlled limo, not interacting with a soul outside of the ones he agrees to help and the ones that he goes after. It’s easy to note the character’s solitude and not comment on it, as a supporting cast isn’t a huge concern when a collection consists of a bunch of one-and-done stories. But when directly addressed on the page as a finale of sorts, it’s a sobering moment, one that sums up the emotional cost of Spector’s return to the mantle of Moon Knight, to some semblance of sanity and purpose.

With next month’s issue #7, writer Brian Wood (DMZ) and artist Greg Smallwood (Dream Thief) will take the places of Ellis and Shalvey, with Bellaire staying on colors. Both are talented creators who have expressed the desire to continue what Ellis and Shalvey started. Let’s hope they do that and then some.

While their run was brief, the Ellis/Shalvey/Bellaire Moon Knight gave one of Marvel’s also-rans a potential road map back to glory by giving the character a clear sense of purpose. It showed how much could be done with a single issue several times over, and finally gave Moon Knight a mission that could be summed up in a single line: a protector of those who travel by night. “That,” as Spector says in the fourth issue, “is my specialist subject.”

The comics of Comic-Con, Part 2: Marvel really likes events

With all of the TV and movie news coming out of Comic-Con, it’s easy to miss the flurry of comic book news that happens under the same roof. Be sure to read Part 1, which covered preview night and Day 1 of the convention. Part 2 is all about Marvel, simply because the publisher made a deluge of announcements spread across all four days of the convention.  

Marvel has several events on the horizon, and accompanying each of those big stories is a dizzying amount of new titles, both ongoing and limited. For the most part, there are three big ones this fall: Spider-Verse, The Death of Wolverine, and Avengers NOW. These events have been in the making for some time now, but there was one very big surprise.


This November’s Spider-Verse event promises to feature “every Spider-Man ever,” and as such we’ll be seeing a number of new titles where some of those Spider-Men (and Women) will be featured. New books include Spider-Verse Team-Up, a three-issue limited series by writer Christos Gage and various artists that will feature a number of Spideys working together, spinning out of the events of the main Spider-Verse series.

Also tying into Spider-Verse is Scarlet Spiders, by Mike Costa and Paco Diaz. The limited series will focus on Spider-Clones Kaine, Ben Reilly, and Ultimate Universe Jessica Drew as they embark on a special mission to save reality.

New ongoing series Spider-Woman, by Dennis Hopeless and Greg Land, will also tie into the big Spidey extravaganza, at least initially. It’ll feature Jessica Drew in the lead, with some support from other Spider-Women like Anya Corazon and the recently introduced Silk. For those fatigued by the prospect of so much Spider-Verse (there’s also the previously announced, actually-kind-of-interesting Edge of Spider-Verse miniseries), it’ll be interesting to see where Hopeless and Land will take Jessica Drew once the big Spider-Event is over.

Everything Avengers-related

With the recently announced shakeups on the way for Marvel’s flagship team, there are surprisingly few changes being made to the Avengers lineup of books.

In addition to succeeding Steve Rogers in All-New Captain America, newly appointed Captain America Sam Wilson will be taking the lead in Al Ewing and Luke Ross’ Captain America and the Mighty Avengers. The book will be a relaunch of Ewing’s Mighty Avengers run, and will continue the story of Marvel’s most diverse Avengers lineup. For a bit on what to expect, check out Ewing’s interview with Comics Alliance.

Also announced was Angela: Asgard’s Assassin, by the writing team of Marguerite Bennet and Kieron Gillen with art by Stephanie Hans and Phil Jimenez. It’s a great creative team for a character whose creation has a far more complex history than the actual stories she’s appeared in. (For the uninitiated: Angela was created by Todd McFarlane and Neil Gaiman in 1993 for McFarlane’s Spawn over at Image. For 20 years the character’s ownership was disputed, until a settlement was reached in 2012. Gaiman then brought Angela over to Marvel Comics in March 2013.) The new series will focus on defining Angela’s place in the Marvel Universe, which co-writer Kieron Gillen describes as “Asgardian Black Widow.”

Also Avengers-related: the characters from the ABC television series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  will be getting their own comic book. Simply titled S.H.I.E.L.D., the book will be written by Mark Waid with a rotating team of artists.

Death of Wolverine

A quick recap: Wolverine is dying this September in a weekly, four-issue limited series by Charles Soule. That series will be followed up by Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy, a seven-issue, three-month limited series by a wide range of creators examining the fallout of the character’s death.

At Comic-Con, Marvel announced a third limited series spinning out of Death of Wolverine. Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program, by Charles Soule and Salvador Larrocca, is a five-issue limited series that will focus on the program that turned the late (for now) hero into a living weapon. Writer Charles Soule views The Weapon X Program as part of a 12-part series with The Logan Legacy, together forming one big story about the aftermath of Wolverine’s death.

Wolverine is going to be dying for a very long time, folks.

Star Wars

But Marvel’s biggest surprise had nothing to do with superheroes. While it’s been known since January that the Star Wars license would be moving from Dark Horse Comics to Marvel in 2015, Marvel’s plans for the license remained unknown. No longer. Marvel announced three Star Wars titles at Comic-Con, each paired with some of the most acclaimed creators working with Marvel right now.

Star Wars, by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, will tell stories set between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, from the heroes’ perspective. Set during the same period is Star Wars: Darth Vader by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca. Gillen’s series will focus on Vader’s growth from the man who got beaten at the end of A New Hope to the unstoppable force of Empire Strikes Back.

Finally, Star Wars: Princess Leia by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson will be a five-issue limited series that will more fully explore the character’s personal journey in the aftermath of her home world’s destruction in A New Hope.

Coming up: A roundup of several other notable publisher’s big announcements.

The comics of Comic-Con, Day 1: Image Expo, Marvel's AXIS, and Vertigo

Sure, all the screenings, TV panels, and movie announcements are great, but isn’t Comic-Con about comics? What’s going on with them?

Lots. Throughout the convention, every major publisher in the comics biz will have at least one panel announcing exciting new books and bold new directions, and teasing what may be coming in the near future. Who knows—the basis of your next favorite TV series could be here. Want a quick recap? Here’s what happened on Day 1:


Image Comics got off to an early start, holding their own Image Expo event Wednesday night, the day before the official start of San Diego Comic-Con. After a keynote speech by Publisher Eric Stephenson, the news came hard and fast. Twelve new series were announced as their respective creators were brought on stage to introduce them. The new titles announced:

• Valhalla Mad, by Joe Casey and Paul Maybury, about Norse Gods partying in Manhattan. Begins spring 2015.

• Tooth and Claw by Kurt Busiek, Ben Dewey, and Jordie Bellaire. Described as “Conan meets Game of Thrones meets Kamandi,” the high-fantasy epic begins November 2014.

• Tokyo Ghost by Rick Remender, Sean Murphy, and Matt Hollingsworth. In 2189, the world is a wasteland, and entertainment is the drug that everyone needs—and the mob has. Coming summer 2015.

• The Humans by Keenan Marshall Kellar, Tom Neely, and Kristina Collantes. An ape biker gang, ’70s exploitation-style. No typos there. Starts November 2014.

• Southern Cross by Becky Cloonan and Andy Belanger. On a space tanker to Titan, a woman is haunted by ominous threats. Coming winter 2014.

• Rumble by John Arcudi and James Harren. Described as “like a scarecrow-Conan fighting in a Louis C.K. show directed by David Fincher,” the creators promise a genre bender with heaps of strange. Begins this December.

• Invisible Republic by Gabriel Hardman and Corrina Bechko. A sci-fi action-adventure about the rise of an empire, coming in 2015. Also announced: Hardman’s digital-only series KINSKI will be coming to print in November.

• Intersect by Ray Fawkes. A horror story about a city gone mad. Launching in November.

• Injection by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire. A science fiction series about “the dark future we’ve built for ourselves.” Begins in 2015.

• From Under Mountains  by Marion Churchland, Claire Gibson, and Sloane Leong. A magical fantasy in which rival houses struggle for power in the isolated country of Akhara. Begins in 2015.

• Drifter by Ivan Brandon and Nic Klien. A space transport crashes on a lawless frontier world. Begins this November.

• Descender by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen. A robot boy struggles to stay alive as the universe hunts him down. Read EW’s first look here. Launches March 2015.

Marvel: AXIS and more

Marvel’s first comic-centric panel was all about October’s big AXIS story, which spins out of the story unfolding in Rick Remender’s Uncanny Avengers. In Uncanny, the Red Skull has obtained the nigh-unlimited telepathic powers of the late Charles Xavier—and in AXIS, he’s finally mastered them to become The Red Onslaught.

Like any big event comic, the story will have a number of tie-in books, notably featuring Spider-Man villians Hobgoblin and Carnage. Hinted at but not discussed: what the events in AXIS have to do with Iron Man’s new look.

Also announced was All-New Captain America: Fear Him, a six-part digital comic beginning in October which features Sam Wilson, the new Captain America. Written by Dennis Hopeless and illustrated by Szymon Kudranski, the miniseries will have Wilson deciding what sort of Captain America he wants to be while battling The Scarecrow (The Marvel Scarecrow. They have one, too).

Finally, coinciding with the premiere of the next Avengers film will be the new Original Graphic Novel Avengers: Rage of Ultron. Although the title is only one letter removed from the blockbuster film’s title, Rage of Ultron is a standalone story completely unrelated to the plot of the film. The story will focus on redefining the relationship between Ultron and creator Hank Pym for readers new and old (in the film, Ultron is created by Iron Man Tony Stark). The book goes on sale in April 2015.

For a detailed recap of the panel, check out Comics Beat.


No new announcements were made at Vertigo’s panel Thursday night, but creators were on hand to discuss the future of a few of the publisher’s popular titles. Readers can expect Scott Snyder’s American Vampire to feature space chimp vampires (really), along with Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham’s soon-to-be concluded Fables ending with “body bags.”

Also discussed were previously announced upcoming titles Suiciders, The Names, Bodies, and The Kitchen.

For more details, head on over to The Los Angeles Times.

Iron Man uncovers family secrets in new comic book -- SPOILERS

Tony Stark’s always been a man of many talents for whom surprise is a rare thing.

But the avenging philanthropic billionaire — better known for the high-tech armor he wears as Iron Man — is about to find himself felled by not one, but two, family secrets that has him questioning his place in the world and why the reality of his origin was kept from him.

The big reveal comes in the pages of Iron Man No. 17, out Wednesday in comic shops, written by Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Carlo Pagulayan and Scott Hanna, lettered by Joe Caramagna and edited by Mark Paniccia.

In it Gillen brings the long-simmering story to its conclusion with Stark finding out that not only is he — again, spoilers — adopted, but that his parents, Howard and Maria, had a son — imbued with alien technology proffered by the rogue android 451 — who has been hidden away from the world, laden with unknown abilities and, perhaps, powers. READ FULL STORY

Relaunched 'X-Men' comic will feature an all-female cast

Marvel just announced the April launch of a new X-Men comic book, written by Brian Wood and drawn by Olivier Coipel. There’s an intriguing twist in this series: At this point, the lineup of the team is all-female. The cast includes franchise all-stars like Storm, Rogue, Kitty Pryde, and Psylocke — along with Rachel Grey, a.k.a. Rachel Summers, a.k.a. “Phoenix, except not the Phoenix you’re thinking of, and also she’s not Phoenix anymore, or whatever.” The cast will also feature Jubilee, a character who positively defines that brief and perfect moment when the ’80s became the ’90s. (See also: Sonic the Hedgehog, MC Hammer, Kindergarten Cop.) Actually, USA Today‘s interview with Wood indicates that Jubilee is the “main star” of the book, possibly because she’s a vampire now, and vampires are so hot right two years ago. READ FULL STORY

'Hulk' writer Peter David: Looking back without anger -- GUEST ESSAY


On Dec. 30, Peter David, the 56-year-old novelist and comic book writer, was on holiday when he suffered a stroke, a crisis he reported himself with a blog posting that contains the most chilling passages of his vivid career: “We were on vacation in Florida when I lost control of the right side of my body. I cannot see properly and I cannot move my right arm or leg.”

Earlier in December, David had been asked by EW to write a guest essay about the 50th anniversary of the Hulk, a character that David knows better than anyone — his 12-year stint scripting the monthly series The Incredible Hulk is rare in its duration and remarkable in its depth and surprise. David has shaped other universes (he’s filled  a shelf with his Star Trek novels and written scripts for Babylon 5 as well as ActiVision’s big Spider-Man: Edge of Time video game) but his green days were special. David is now in physical therapy and monster bills will be mounting in the weeks and months ahead; his family and close friends say this would be an especially good moment to add a David book to your collection. Check out David’s blog below.


Marvel's Venom pulls up NYC stake for Philly steak

Philly’s getting a new fan in the pages of Marvel Comics, but whether the City of Brotherly Shove takes to anti-hero Venom remains to be seen.

Marvel Entertainment LLC says that Venom — a brute with big teeth and an elongated tongue who’s made a habit of sparring with Spider-Man — is leaving New York City to start fresh, and maybe learn to be a hero on the streets of Philadelphia.

Writer Cullen Bunn and Editor Tom Brennan, an alum of Philadelphia’s Drexel University, said it’s time Philly had a hero of its own, putting it in the same league as Los Angeles and New York, among other real-life cities that populate the fictional world of Marvel.

But is Venom — an alien symbiote bonded to Peter Parker’s one-time high school rival Eugene “Flash” Thompson — the hero that Philly wants or needs?

It depends, said Bunn. READ FULL STORY

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