It would appear that the cost of doing business with Marvel is going up. Specifically, in the main way that I do it with them. Bleeding Cool reports that three upcoming trade paperbacks from Marvel, “Thor: God of Thunder vol. 3: The Accursed,” “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man by Bendis vol. 5,” and “Avengers vol. 4: Infinity,” will be sold at $20 instead of their previously advertised prices of $17, $18, and $16, respectively. This is disappointing news, but not entirely unexpected. Several of Marvel’s trade paperbacks already retail for $20, and that “Wolverine” comic I wrote about last night will set you back $25 for its seven issues. (So as an addendum to that review, it’ll really be of interest only to people who are already existing fans of the character.) Essentially, I’m not surprised that Marvel is raising their prices like this since the market has shown that they can sell these paperbacks at that price point. The real test will be when they start selling an average comic book at $5 with no extra pages. I don’t think there’s any way the market will take kindly to that particular development.
Superior Iron Man #1: Tony Stark’s newest reinvention starts here. This time it looks to involve the character acting more arrogant than ever as he unleashes the Extremis upgrade onto San Francisco as part of his plan to lead humanity into the future. Of course, Daredevil is now residing in the city so he gets to act as the foil to Stark’s plans here. I’m not sure how to feel about this as the plan for the character seems to involve taking his existing personality traits and amplifying them to almost villainous levels. Either there’s some twist here we’re not being told about -- has the Mandarin taken over Stark’s mind, a la Doc Ock with Spider-Man -- or Marvel thinks that what they’ve seen of the concept’s execution is strong enough to justify it. I’ve never read anything from writer Tom Taylor (yet -- I picked up the first volume of “Star Wars: Invasion” at Comic-Con), but he has yet to write anything that has really grabbed my attention.
All-New Captain America #1: Now this is a character reinvention I can get behind. Apparently Steve Rogers has had the Super-Soldier serum sucked out of him (again) and now it’s up to Sam Wilson to pick up the shield and carry on the character’s legacy. I like Sam’s character and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be able to work as the title character. More important is the fact that this series will still be written by its current writer, Rick Remender, but will be getting an artistic upgrade from Stuart Immonen. There’s an artist who can do no wrong and will give Sam’s start as the character the energy it needs to hit the ground running.
Amazing Spider-Man #9: After months of buildup, “Spider-Verse” -- the crossover event starring every Spider-Man ever -- begins here. While this means that we’ll be seeing lots of versions of the character that only got one moment in the spotlight and were never heard from again, there will likely be plenty of interaction between the Peter Parker we know and some of his more famous spinoffs. This can be seen in the solicitation text for issue #10 which advertises the Superior Spider-Man and Miles Morales as guest stars. What, no Peter Porker the Spectacular Spider-Ham? They must be saving him for the finale.
Spider-Woman #1: Because if Bendis and Alex Maleev couldn’t produce a series about the character that lasted more than seven issues, what chance to Dennis Hopeless and Greg Land have? Maybe launching it on the back of a crossover will start it at a level high enough that it’ll take longer to fall and reach cancellation levels. We shall see.
The Superior Foes of Spider-Man #17: Actually cancelled in these solicitations. That it lasted as long as it did was an achievement unto itself. Will the next two volumes prove to be reads as entertaining as the first? Keep watching this space and I’ll let you know.
All-New Ultimates #10: From the solicitation text, “The beginning of an epic 3-part climax.” Translation: Prepare for the series finale in issue #12. I’ll have an opinion on whether or not that’s a good or bad thing once the collection of the first six issues comes out.
The United States of Murder, Inc. vol. 1: The new alternate-history crime series from Bendis and Oeming gets its first (hardcover) volume. I’m betting that it’ll probably be really good, given the quality of their previous collaborations. However, the specter of “Powers” also casts a different cloud over this series as well. You see, the team’s long-running superhero crime series has fallen into another scheduling black hole with the first of the final two issues of “Bureau” scheduled to arrive in September, over nine months after it was originally solicited. Just what the hell went wrong there? Do Bendis and Oeming care that little about their signature series after all these years, even with it scheduled to become a series on the Playstation Network in the near future? I don’t know if that’s the case, but it certainly looks like from this perspective.
Wolverine Epic Collection: Madripoor Nights: With all of this business about the character’s impending death, now seems like a good time to revisit a time when his popularity was still on the rise. This collects the first sixteen issues of his solo series, with some other odds and ends, as he heads to the East Indian island of Madripoor, creates a new identity, and proceeds to do what he does best to some very deserving criminals. The volume also features work from Chris Claremont, Peter David, John Buscema and Gene Colan, so even though the issues collected here are over 25 years old I’m betting that they’ll still read pretty well.
Cyclops vol. 1: Starstruck: So, after expressing some very choice thoughts about Marvel in the wake of his “Punisher” run, it seemed that Greg Rucka wouldn’t be returning to the publisher anytime soon. That he chose to do so for an “X-Men” spinoff title focused on outer space adventure -- something very much outside his usual interests -- was surprising to say the least. However, that he departed the title after giving us the five issues collected here appears to convey a narrative of him wanting to give Marvel one more chance only to find out that nothing had changed since he left them the last time. Oh well, it gives him more time to focus on “Lazarus” and the “Stumptown” ongoing series.