Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Top 10 Tuesdays - 10 Possible Marvel Back-Ups

It seems that the direction that the industry is going, more and more titles are going to be priced $3.99 and have back-ups, or second features, or however you want to call them. DC started this trend earlier this year with titles such as Booster Gold and Teen Titans, featuring Blue Beetle and Ravager as their "Second Features" respectively. Slowly, more titles such as Detective Comics, Action Comics, the recently re-launched Doom Patrol and Adventure Comics, and others have started featuring back-ups.

It is hard to tell just how much an effect these back-up features have had on sales, but soon afterwards, Marvel announced that some of their titles would follow this move. Incredible Hulk (I believe) was the first Marvel title to have ongoing back-up, in this case featuring Lyra. Incredible Hercules just recently started having it's own back-up feature as the Agent of Atlas joined the title (although the move may be temporary). Captain America, once the Reborn event is done in January, will also feature a Nomad back-up.

Which leads me to the point of this entry, much like the time I wondered what a Marvel edition of Wednesday Comics would look like, I wonder and guess which other Marvel back-ups can we expect in the future. Hit the jump for some of my speculation, including mock up covers by yours truly and possible creative team for these back-ups!

1 - Invincible Iron Man also featuring War Machine

Back-Up Story by Christos Gage
Back-Up Art by Stephano Caselli

This one is the most obvious one of the bunch, and I wouldn't be surprised at all to see it happening. War Machine's title is coming to an end this December, after 12 issues, but just on the horizon is Iron Man 2, which is also going to feature War Machine in an apparently big role.

Out of all those movie viewers, some of them are bound to head down to the comic book shop, and having a title with both of the movie's protagonists in the cover is bound to be a sure sale. The two characters have also been tied throughout their history, so it would not be a stretch to have them share a title.

As for the creative team, I love what they did together with War Machine back in Avengers: The Initiative (although Dan Slott was also co-writing at the time). Greg Pak is a great writer, but to be honest he did not hook me enough with his work in War Machine, so maybe a change of writers could help the character.

2 - New Avengers also featuring Ms. Marvel

Back-Up Story by Brian Reed
Back-Up Art by Mike McKone

Another character with a cancelled title, Ms. Marvel, moving on to back-ups. Ms. Marvel and the New Avengers have been intrinsically tied since the beginning of both titles, although she joined the "opposing" Mighty Avengers team after the events of Civil War, she joined the New Avengers once Norman Osborn came into power during Dark Reign. New Avengers is already a $3.99 title, so it would be nice for it to start featuring back-ups to soften the blow to readers' wallets.

Brian Michael Bendis, writer of New Avengers, and Brian Reed, writer of Ms. Marvel, have a long history of collaborating together, in titles like New Avengers: Illuminati, Spider-Woman: Origin, and the Ultimate Spider-Man video game, so it seems like a perfect marriage between the two on a New Avengers and Ms Marvel back-up.

As for the creative team, Brian Reed should indeed continue writing Ms. Marvel, after all the hard work he has put into the character. Mike McKone drew part of the recent issue of Ms. Marvel where Carol went on a date with Spider-Man. I don't believe McKone is very busy right now, he has done recent issues of Amazing Spider-Man, but I don't think he has been announced for any future projects. 

3 - Daredevil also featuring Immortal Iron Fist

Back-Up Story by Duane Swierczynski
Back-Up Art by David Aja

Danny Rand, the Iron Fist, has already been somewhat moved to a back-up feature, as his title was canceled and replaced by the Immortal Weapons mini-series in which he appears in a back-up story. No official word has been stated as to what will happen to the title and character now that the mini-series is finished, but continuing his tales in the pages of the Daredevil title would be a logical choice, since it appears that the character cannot carry a title on his own. Daredevil and Iron Fist have had a close relationship ever since Danny Rand took over the Daredevil mantle during the events of Civil War. I think both characters also share much of their readership

Sure, wishing that David Aja came back to Iron Fist would probably be a dream to many, many readers, as he helped define the look of the character for the new century. As for Duane Swierczynski, he had the thankless task of following Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker on the title, but he actually did a pretty good job and I hope he keeps writing the character, and if he had Aja on tow, it would be a winning combination.

4 - Uncanny X-Men also featuring Runaways

Back-Up Story by Kathryn Immonen
Back-Up Art by Sara Pichelli

Runaways latest ongoing title was abruptly cut short and canceled this year, but with the promise that we would see more from them soon. Starting Runaways once again as a back up in a popular title like Uncanny X-Men would be a pretty good way to reach new readers before moving on to their own title once again.

The X-Men have always featured an aspect of teenage angst into their plots, so combining the Runaways into the title, which is all about teenage angst, would be a very good fit. Additionally, Kathryn Immonen, who was the last writer to handle the Runaways, is going to write an upcoming mini series featuring one of the recurring characters from Uncanny X-Men: the teenage Pixie.

And why change a winning combination, right? I thought that the Immonen/Picheli team did a great job on Runaways, and I do sincerely hope that they continue working together in the future.

5 - Thor also featuring Ares

Back-Up Story by Kieron Gillen
Back-Up Art by Manuel Garia

Ares has been quite popular in the last couple of years, making appearances in increasingly higher profile books, starting with Incredible Hercules, Dark Avengers and, most recently, Secret Warriors, and even received another mini-series of his own, Dark Avengers: Ares.  I don't know if he would be capable of carrying his own ongoing title, so a back-up feature in another "godly" title would be appropriate.

Of course, as I mentioned above, Incredible Hercules currently features another back-up, Agents of Atlas, so Thor is the next logical step. The gap is not as big as it sounds, as the god pantheons of the Marvel Universe have become particularly close during the last few years. It also helps that Kieron Gillen is currently writing both the Thor title and the Ares mini series I mentioned above. Also worth mentioning is that Thor used to be a $3.99 title until JMS left the title and the price was brought back down to $2.99.

The creative team for the back-up is the same one as the current mini series, because they have really been knocking it out of the part. Much like Detective Comics, this one would feature both the back-up and the main story written by the same person.

6 - Deadpool also featuring Cable

Back-Up Story by Fabian Nicienza
Back-Up Art by Mark Brooks

Cable's title is not doing so hot in the charts right now, moving numbers that are starting to border on cancellation levels, while Deadpool is so incredibly popular right now that he has THREE ongoing series and numerous guest appearances. Add in the factor that Cable's title may soon be a bit directionless with the upcoming return of Hope to the bigger Marvel Universe, and sharing title with Deadpool is starting to look like a good decision.

Furthermore, Deadpool has been interacting with the X-Men and X-Force quite a bit, two teams that Cable also has a long history of involvement with. The two characters have been tied to each other from their conception and they even shared a title for more than four years, Cable & Deadpool.  Putting them back together seems like a perfect solution.

Alright, so I doubt Fabian Nicienza is going to be leaving his DC exclusive contract just to write a Cable back-up, but I would love to have him come back to the character. I think he wrote the most compelling and likable version of the character to date. Mark Brooks also worked with him during the early days of Cable & Deadpool, a series I absolutely love, and I don't think he is very busy these days, considering Dark Reign: Young Avengers has already wrapped up and he hasn't been announced for any other project.

7 - Nova also featuring Darkhawk

Back-Up Story by Fred Van Lente
Back-Up Art by Emma Rios

It looked as if after War of Kings that Darkhawk was going to end up with his own ongoing series, considering he had two different mini-series that centered around his new status quo prior to the event. It didn't happen, but the character is still making appearances in the pages of Nova and other cosmic titles.

Both characters have a long history together, as they both belonged to the original New Warriors. It may not increase readership by a lot, as I don't think Darkhawk has many fans out there that are not already reading Nova, but it would help by adding and expanding to the very rich tapestry of the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have been weaving in the last couple of years.

This is the oddest creative team choice of the bunch, I will admit as much, but there's logic behind it. Just the other day, during FVL Day, Fred Van Lente was saying that he would love to collaborate and write in the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe, so maybe he would be up for this. As for Emma Rios, who is currently illustrating the Strange mini series, I still stand by what I said in my Wednesday Comics Marvel Edition, that she would be a great artist to work on the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe.

8 - Wolverine: Weapon X also featuring Nightcrawler

Back-Up Story by Jason Aaron
Back-Up Art by Dalabor Talajic

This one is more wish fulfillment than logical choice, but my article, my rules! Nightcrawler hasn't really been doing a whole lot lately, only sometimes appearing as a background character in the X-Men titles but without much in terms of being the protagonist.

Since he didn't turn into the next Sorcerer Supreme like I wanted, it's about time someone did something with him. Jason Aaron teased me with his appearance, during Wolverine: Manifest Destiny, and since he has such a great handle on Wolverine, I would be very interested to see what he does with the fuzzy elf. Both characters have shared a close friendship since the early years of the All-New, All-Different X-Men era and they often work as partners.

Aaron writing the back-up is a no-brainer, but the artist has had (to my knowledge) very previous published work in Marvel. Dalabor Talajic really impressed me with his work in Deadpool 900, and I'm hoping Marvel will put him in a new assignment soon.

9 - Thunderbolts also featuring Fantomex

Back-Up Story by Charlie Huston
Back-Up Art by Chris Bachalo

Hey, remember Fantomex? White costume, mysterious french accent, steals stuff while pretending to be a good guy? He was created by Grant Morrison during his tenure on New X-Men and he wasn't used much at all since then. He had a recent appearance in the Dark Reign: The List: Wolverine comic, so that means he is still alive!

The Thunderbolts, on the other hand, are Marvel's longest running villains-pretending to be heroes team. Sure, it may be better sales-wise to put him in the Dark Avengers comic, but who knows how long that's going to last now that Dark Reign is coming to an end?

Anyway, thematically, it is a very good choice to have them share a title, although Fantomex is more closely tied to the X-Men books, it may lead to some crossover readers, which the Thunderbolt title needs anyway.

Charlie Huston has experience writing white-wearing mysterious character, as he was the writer of Moon Knight for quite some time. And Chris Bachalo collaborated with Grant Morrison on the New X-Men storyline "Assault on Weapon Plus", which featured Fantomex heavily and revealed much of his background. 

10 - Ultimate Comics Spider-Man also featuring his Amazing Super Friends

Back-Up Story by Brian Michael Bendis
Back-Up Art by Takeshi Miyazawa

The newly renamed title formerly known as Ultimate Spider-Man recently got a cast expansion. The Ultimate version of Spider-Man is now sharing a house with both Johnny Storm (the Human Torch) and Bobby Drake (Iceman) not to mention Aunt May and Gwen Stacy, and going to school with Mary Jane, Kitty Pryde and Jessica Drew. That's a lot of characters!

Expanding the title so it can have a back-up feature that centers more on the adventures of Iceman and Human Torch when they are "off-screen" from the main chapter of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man would be a good back-up for this title. Bendis is apparently a big fan of the old TV series, as this is not the first time he has written a story of this kind (previously, it had been with the Ultimate version of Firestar and Iceman). Ultimate Comics Spider-Man is also a title that is currently at $3.99, adding a back-up feature would probably convince more people to read this title since it's seen significant drop-off in readership since Ultimatum.

It would make sense for Bendis to also write the back-up, so that is an easy choice. David Lafuente is still the ongoing artist of the series, although Takeshi Miyazawa is taking over him for a two-part series in the future, but this way they could both continue to provide artwork for the series.


Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it and coming up with the ideas. I feel I must apologize for those two last mock-up covers though, it was a last minute idea that I didn't consider when first writing it. If I had known I was going to do them, I would have picked back-ups with already established logos. Instead you have to look at the reason why I am never going to be a letterer.

Obviously I wouldn't want ALL of these possible back-up ideas to come through, because that would mean that my comic budget would go up by a lot, but I certainly wouldn't be opposed to some of these happening. Which ideas did you like the most? Which ones did you hate? Which ones would you choose instead? Let me know in the comments section!

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ianxphoto said...

I think you've hit most of these right on, but with a few misfits. Here's where I see a problem, and what I'd do differently...

New Avengers w/ Ms Marvel
This is unlikely. The tone is different, as Ms Marvel just isn't "Street Level".

I would bet on New Avengers feat. Spider-Woman, as Bendis can write both, Maleev can keep up with a shorter format better, and the stories have been tied. (Though Spider-Woman would also work in SWORD, that's also a smaller title.)

Daredevil feat. Iron Fist may work. However, Iron Fist feat. Luke Cage (or Heroes for Hire) may be a way to further more characters.

Uncanny X-Men feat. Runaways doesn't seem like a conceptual or editorial fit. There just isn't enough of a connection in terms of the audience and characters. My guess is that Uncanny X-Men will have a rotating set of backups, featuring individual X-Men, or a "X-Club" backup.

Wolverine: Weapon X feat. Nightcrawler just doesn't fit as well. I suspect we will get a Wolverine feat. Daken title, though.

Thunderbolts feat. Fantomex doesn't feel right. The world doesn't need a Fantomex title, even as a backup-- though I think he's being set up to join an existing team. What about Dark Avengers (with a new line-up) feat. Thunderbolts?

Taking a step back from your recommendations, I think the most likely pairings would be...

New Avengers feat. Spider-Woman
Mighty Avengers feat. a revolving cast
Iron Man feat. War Machine
X-Men feat. a revolving cast
Fantastic Four feat. Silver Surfer
Captain America feat. Nomad (Bucky Barnes)
Guardians of the Galaxy feat. Nova
Hercules feat. Agents of Atlas
Captain Marvel feat. Ms. Marvel
X-Men Legacy feat. Dark X-Men

Primewax said...

I'm on board for a Nightcrawler back-up. Heck, for anything Nightcrawler. Also, the Super Friends UC:SM back-up makes a ton of sense, and would help me justify the cost much more.

Primewax said...

@ianxphoto - A Fantastic Four feat. Silver Surfer would be excellent.

Matt Ampersand said...

@ianxphoto I went mostly for titles/characters that were in limbo. You are right, for example, that Spider-Woman would be a more thematically sound choice to go with New Avengers, but she has her own title right now, so I wouldn't expect it happening for at least a year. Ms. Marvel on the other hand, just got her title canceled.

That being said, a Captain Marvel title does sound feasible, considering that Bendis is setting up Noh-Var as the new Captain, and Ms. Marvel would be the logical back-up choice.

And Fantastic Four featuring Silver Surfer is also a very simple yet logically compelling choice. I can definitely see it happening, more so if the second FF movie was coming out next year instead of a couple of years ago.

Primewax said...

@Matt - I read a few days ago that the Silver Surfer movie is still in the works, so who knows?

Ryan K Lindsay said...

Aw man, I just did a massive commne,t where'd it go, lame. Anyway, I'll summarise, Matt I loved the article, you did some great cover work and I wondered if there were any ideas you had that didn't make the top ten cut?
I think that Marvel should really listen to this idea, otherwise people will just trade wait instead because the prices are a little sad but something as simple as a back up feature make's it so much more reasonable for us fanboys to justify our purchases.

And, of course, I'll play at home too:

Iron Fist with a Steel Serpent back up, because I'd like it and it could tie into the main like a Nu-Earth on the other side of the sun. I'd like Swierczynski on both (if I'm not writing the Serpent back up) and Aja would always be preferable.

Daredevil with an Elektra back up, because with Murdock in charge of the hand there seems to be a few issues he could work out with his ex-lady love and Elektra is just an interesting character when written right, Zeb Wells proved that, and could again.

Fantastic Four with a Dr Strange back up, because I think Strange would be an interesting addition to the FF-iverse and could create a very tidy arc later on. Silver Surfer isn't a bad choice, but I'd prefer a Strange story myself. Hickman doing the Kirby cosmic and maybe Clay Mann drawing.

And of course, for the win, Criminal with Frank Kafka back up strips. Golden.

Kirk Warren said...

@Ryan K Lindsay - Daredevil with an Elektra back-up by Zeb Wells would be fantastic. I loved that DR: Elektra series. Some characters just work with an action packed, light on story, popcorn feel that that book had and Elektra is one of them. We dont need universe altering stories or character redefining things for every book, so just 8 pages of Elektra reclaiming her life, getting revenge or otherwsie reestablishing herself would be great for added value.

As for some of my picks for potential back-ups:

Thor and Beta Ray Bill would be another great pick to go along with teh Ares one (by Gillen of course, Im really torn on which one Id want a backup of more after having read his Ares and Godhunter minis)

Captain America with Steve Rogers backup (assumign Bucky stays the focus)

Rebrand Secret Warriors SHIELD or Nick Fury and put the focus on Nick Fury with backups on the Secret Warriors since Fury is far more compelling than the actual caterpillars he's put together. Hell, Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos on backup by Hickman would be better and more in line with how he's written the book (the Secret Warriors barely appear, not that I'm complaining).

Deadpool with a Cable backup is alright, but I liked how they played off each other more than their solo adventures. Taskmaster would be a better choice for a Deadpool backup, but probably a similar complaint with the playing off each other more than solo adventures. Still,I like Taskmaster, so backup of him would be great.

Amazing Spider-Man with Scarlet Spider/Ben reilly back-ups. What? I can dream, can't I?

Matt Ampersand said...

@Ryan K: I had thought of Ultimate Comic Avengers featuring Ultimate Iron Man as back-up, but in all honesty I couldn't figure out who would write it. I had thought of a back-up to Amazing Spider-Man (featuring AraƱa), but with it's thrice-weekly schedule, raising the price (even with a back-up) would be a death note for the title.

And I have to agree with Kirk, Daredevil with Elektra back-ups is also a very good idea, and one that could potentially happen.

Daryll B. said...

I got a few more that of course will never happen, but it is fun to brainstorm:

X-Factor / Heroes For Hire - A night and day type of detective series with dueling exposures. Heroes For Hire being the publicly known heroes while X-Factor being the hard boiled detectives at night.

Secret Warriors / Agents of ATLAS - same type of dynamic except with SW working to end the 'conspiracy' from without while AoA works to end it from within.

Young Avengers / Runaways - Well they have been joined at the hip in an unspoken bond anyway, let's make it official.

Super Hero Squad / Spider-Ham / Mini-Marvels - Well something has to help sell SHS comics right?

Jonathan Hickman / Fred Van Lente - On anything because whatever they are touching right now is turning out to be very good to golden.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

Matt and Kirk, thanks for the agreement love. I honestly think that Marvel needs to be reading this and considering it. If DC can boost their sales just by adding a few cheap, plastic, knock off rings with some shitty titles then surely Marvel can open up new eraders to some cool business with back ups, and again, price wise it's the only way to do things. They'd be kings fo the jungle, they'd be hailed as visionaries, even though it's a very old idea. Plus, they could attract big name writers/artists 'cos it's only a few pages extra each month, not a massive commitment.

They could also trial new up and coming writers...who knows.

All I know is I want to see some more back ups right now!

Space Jawa said...

I'd be happy if they could put Patsy Walker in a backup feature. Though, the best I can think of to attach something like that to would be Avengers: The Initiative, and somehow, it doesn't feel like it would fit. It might work better if they had it be about her adventures as the one-woman initiative team from Alaska.

If you're looking for other ideas for an Ultimate Iron Man backup, he could possibly be attached to the Ultimate Avengers line.

Deicide The Everliving said...

I'd like to see the Avengers titles having backups featuring their members who have no book right now. For instance, seeing Venom or Moonstone backups on Dark Avengers.

Dickey said...

@Matt-Concerning an Ultimate Iron Man back up why don't we stick with Warren Ellis writing, just like the mini-series? His Ultimate Iron man is a joy to read, plus I have a feeling Millar and him could bounce some fun shit between their stories. They are the masters of !Kicksplode! after all.

Frank said...

I actually agree with the Ms. Marvel idea, except for the artist. I felt Sana Takeda was really coming into her own on this title and this was what disappionted me most about the cancellation. Stick her on Ms. Marvel in any format and I'll buy it up.

Kirk Warren said...

Oh, forgot to mention this Matt, but those covers look like they could work as actual trade dresses for eventual backups. Very nice.

Ethereal said...

The problem with some of the characters you mentioned is that people might not want to pay more for a character that they're not interested. I know this hasn't been the trend so far, but I think the allure of many of the titles is that they're reasonably priced.

Forgetting financial reasoning, here's what I'm thinking;

Iron Man // War Machine. Perfectly fine.

Disagree on any of the team books adding a co-feature of a single character.

I want to say that having Iron Fist as a backup to Daredevil would be a good idea, but I don't know about it. I liked Iron Fist's title because there was alot of depth added to it, which a backup feature doesn't really add. I think an Elektra backup could be much better.

I don't like the Thor/Ares idea. Thor should stay alone.

As much as I want to see the Cable title cancelled, and the Deadpool title being at all serious. I don't think either would ever happen. Cable has become too important in the X-verse. Deadpool has become too much of a joke. Both should just join X-Force and make everyone happy. // Rant

I like the Nova title idea. I think Darkhawk would be good, but I wonder how good a Quasar backup would be (if he ever becomes more than a secondary character...)

Like any of the X-characters, I think alo tof them could be good with a single title. Cyclops would be good, with a Cable backup. I'm still dreaming though.

No opinion on Ultimate comics.

Thunderbolts // Fantomex. The Thunderbolts title changes so much that I don't know how good of an idea this would be.

I think a Moon Knight with a Taskmaster backup would be nice.

Radlum said...

What about an Exiles back-up in any of the X-Men titles?

PMMJ said...

Fantomex? Really? I think a better Thunderbolts backup would be Daken. Or Taskmaster, but I'm a big Taskmaster mark. Ooh, or a Kingpin backup!

mrpeepants said...

cool top tuesday matt. On quick glance I thought it was actual top 10 back ups. Make it happen marvel.

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