He’s not even a month into his tenure as Marvel’s new Editor in Chief but C.B. Cebulski is already dealing with his first major controversy. Namely, the fact that he previously wrote for the company under an assumed Japanese name: Akira Yoshida. The way this happened sounds more amusing/absurd than anything else as Cebulski came up with the name to use as a pseudonym for working as a writer for other companies while he was employed as an editor at Marvel. Though Marvel had (has?) a prohibition regarding editors working as writers they wound up unknowingly hiring him to write a few titles thinking he actually had a background in manga.
In this current day and age, posing as a Japanese writer for a time is not a good look for anyone to have. Particularly at a company like Marvel that is still struggling with diversity when it comes to the creators who write their comics. The irony here is that while Cebulski posed as a Japanese writer he was actually instrumental in getting some Japanese creators to come work for the company. We have him to thank for that Kia Asamiya-illustrated arc of “Uncanny X-Men,” a Kazuo Koike-written “Wolverine” story and a few covers from Katsuya Terada. This is in addition to the minority outreach he practiced while working as a talent scout for the company to bring in talented creators like Adrian Alphona.
So I’m not about to write Cebulski off for something he did years ago even if he’s just getting around to ‘fessing up to it now. As for everyone who’s saying that someone like him shouldn’t be EIC of Marvel Comics, well… isn’t being the new EIC of Marvel punishment enough? It’s going to be Cebulski’s job to revitalize years of sagging sales in the wake of a near-universally unliked crossover and now that the company’s strategy of near-constant relaunches appears to have been run into the ground. The glib might say that there’s nowhere for the company to go but up at this point. That’s not true as things could worsen to the point where Disney decides to pull the plug on Marvel Comics’ print operations entirely. Now it’s up to Cebulski to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Yeah, that got kind of grim. Let’s see if there’s anything more positive to consider in these solicitations…
Infinity Countdown Prime & Infinity Countdown #1 (of 5): So it looks like Gerry Duggan has been given the reins of handling the buildup to Marvel’s next event as he’s writing both of these. Yeah, his “Chewbacca” miniseries was alright, but I’m still having trouble getting over that awful first volume of “Deadpool” he did without co-writer Brian Posehn. “Infinity Countdown” is likely going to be required reading for the main event, which I’m hoping will be handled by Jason Aaron as it was his “Marvel Legacy” one-shot which brought the gems back into play. If Duggan is going to be writing the main event as well, then I guess I’ll have to give him that second chance I’ve been so reluctant to.
Amazing Spider-Man #797: That the Green Goblin returns in this issue isn’t the most notable thing about it. That would be the part of the solicitation text which reads, “Dan Slott has saved his most harrowing Spider-Man story for last.” After almost a decade of writing the adventures of everyone’s favorite Wall Crawler, it looks like Slott is finally prepared to ride off into the sunset. Which is good because he’s still writing enjoyable “Spider-Man” comics. Better for him to leave while he’s still turning out quality work than to kick him off after he’s run out of gas. That said, this latest Green Goblin storyline is coming less than a year after the previous one so I’m kind of curious to see what the writer has up his sleeve for the character now.
New Mutants: Dead Souls #1 (of 6): You’ve seen the trailer for the “New Mutants” movie and the horror vibe it’s going for, right? Then the existence of this new miniseries which features a team made up of veterans like Magik, Rictor, Boom-Boom, Wolfsbane, and… Strong Guy(?) venturing into the darkest corners of the Marvel Universe to take on missions no one else will shouldn’t surprise you. This comes from writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Adam Gorham, two creators that I don’t have any experience with. (Though Rosenberg’s “Four Kids Walk Into a Bank” is on my “to read” list.) It has also clearly been commissioned to tie into the new movie, but we’ve seen how that usually works out when it comes to sales. While this could turn out to be really good, history is not on its side.
Jessica Jones #18: Bendis and Gaydos’ final issue. This is going to be a fully-painted issue featuring a story that “that no one ever gets to see.” That sounds like a high bar for the creators to hit, but Jessica Jones has defined them both at Marvel (well, one moreso than the other) and I want to think that they’re going to sign off on a high note. This leaves Bendis with two other ongoing titles to finish up at Marvel -- “Spider-Man” and “Invincible Iron Man” -- before he begins his new stint at DC. It’s also worth noting that this series isn’t being cancelled, but will feature an all-new creative team next month. That’s a rarity in this day and age and I wish them the best in putting their own mark on a character that has been so defined by one particular creative team.
I also want to mention that the collected edition for Bendis and Gaydos’ final issues is advance-solicited here. You can look forward to reading Jessica Jones vol. 3: Return of the Purple Man in April.
Weapon X #15: In which Sabretooth and (Old Man) Logan finally go at it. This would normally not be news except for two things. One, as the solicitation text points out, this is the first time that we’ve seen Old Man Logan throw down with Sabretooth. Two, it’s actually been a couple years since we’ve seen any version of these characters fight -- since the final issue of Paul Cornell’s run. I enjoyed the first volume of this series more than I expected to, so I’m kinda curious to see what writer Greg Pak, joined again by his trusty Marvel co-writer Fred Van Lente, has in store for these characters.
Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey: So if I don’t get around to reading “Four Kids Walk Into a Bank” I can use this to see if writer Matthew Rosenberg is a worth addition to the Marvel Universe. I’ve said before that it was surprising to see the original Jean Grey stay dead for so long after Grant Morrison had Magneto kill her off in his run. As for how she’s going to make her return… well, the solicitation text is quite vague on any potential plot hooks to pique my interest. I’ll likely be picking this up based on my long history reading about the adventures of the “X-Men.” Everyone else should judge if this is for them based on that accordingly.
On a related note, the second (and confirmed final) collection of the younger time-displaced version of Jean Grey’s solo series is solicited here as well. I got the feeling from the first volume that writer Dennis Hopeless had some grand plans for his run. Now we’ll see if Jean Grey vol. 2: Final Fight can wrap things up with a modicum of closure at least.
Mighty Thor vol. 3: The Asgard/Shi’Ar War: In which two of the great forces of the Marvel Universe collide over the fate of the title character. I’m just a little nervous that six issues is too small a space to give such a conflict the room it needs, but I have a feeling that Jason Aaron will be able to go as big and crazy as this story will need. Best of all is that this allows him to bring back one of the most memorable characters from his run on “Wolverine and the X-Men” as a guest star here: Quentin Quire. At least, that’s how I felt about him.
Punisher: The Platoon: Garth Ennis writes the Punisher again. With Goran Parlov providing the art. What more do you need to know? Well, maybe saying that he’s writing “The Punisher” is a bit of a stretch. “The Platoon” is the story of Frank Castle’s first tour in Vietnam, when he was still a long way from becoming an infamously ruthless vigilante. So if you’re thinking that this might just be an excuse for Ennis to write another war comic on Marvel’s dime, I don’t think you’re entirely wrong. Still, Ennis takes his war comics seriously and they’ve wound up giving us some of his most consistently good writing over the years. Regardless of whether or not this winds up feeling like the pivotal chapter in Frank Castle’s life that it’s presenting itself as -- and I think it probably will, regardless of these aforementioned concerns -- it’ll certainly be worth reading.
X-Men Gold vol. 0: Homecoming: Following in the footsteps of vol. 0 of “X-Men: Blue.” I’m still not sure why we’re getting these “zero” volumes since they’ve got remarkably little to do with the ongoing titles they’re said to be preceding. This one at least has the distinction of reprinting a chunk of Joe Kelly’s “X-Men” run from the 90’s. So if you’ve got any fond memories of that then this might actually be worth checking out.