2011 was a huge year for comics, but out with the old and in with the new. 2012 is an extremely promising year for the industry, with The New 52 in full swing, Marvel set to launch their next big event, indie publishers and creator owned books are flourishing with potential, and digital comics attempting to make major changes to the way the industry works. Here are a few of the things that I’ll be looking forward to this year.
Avengers vs. X-Men
This past year I’ve really gotten into Marvel comics, especially the X-Men books. This year Marvel is publishing a 12 issue bi-weekly series titled “Avengers vs. X-Men,” which will be the culmination of years worth of stories involving the Scarlet Witch and mutant messiah Hope Summers. Written by Marvel’s 5 architect writers (Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Jonathan Hickman, Jason Aaron, and Brian Michael Bendis) and featuring art by some of Marvel’s biggest names, this promises to be the biggest event the company has had since Civil War. The series is being set up in the 4 issue series “Avengers X-Sanction” by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness, and a special #0 issue will be released in March before the main series begins in April. Marvel has said that they are limiting tie-ins to the X-Men and Avengers titles only, as well as 6 issue mini title “Avengers vs. X-Men Versus,” which will showcase the major fights taking place in the main book. It has been confirmed that the Phoenix, an alien life-form that once inhabited X-woman Jean Grey, will play a large part in the story, as will its signature theme of death and rebirth. Is Marvel preparing to raze their universe in preparation of a New 52 style reboot? The stunt was extremely successful and I wouldn’t be surprised if Marvel decided to take the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach.
The Green and The Red Crossover
Since the relaunch of DC’s universe last September, writers Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire have been preparing for a major crossover between their respective books, Swamp Thing and Animal Man. The books feature Alec Holland, avatar of the Green, and Buddy Baker, Animal Man and father to the avatar of the Red. The two heroes stand in opposition of the newly created Rot. While the Green and the Red are the protectors of life (plant and animal, respectively) the Rot is the embodiment of death and decay. This year the books are set to converge in a grand story that will likely see Alec Holland accept his role as the Swamp Thing and will better explain Animal Man’s daugther’s role in the events that are to unfold. If you are a fan of supernatural and/or horror stories with a twist of super heroics, or have read and enjoyed the older Swamp Thing and Animal Man stories by Alan Moore and Grant Morrison then you should definitely be keeping an eye on these titles.
Green Lantern Answers
Even with the relaunch in September, Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern series didn’t miss a beat, picking up exactly where the series left off in July with no obvious changes. With the current Sinestro storyline set to wrap up in February, Johns has confirmed that upcoming story arcs will delve into some of the lingering mysteries of the series, including the nature of the Indigo Tribe and the identity of the “First Lantern” mentioned in last year’s War of the Green Lanterns crossover. All of this is set to lead up to a major crossover between all the GL books that will likely involve the “Third Army” of the Guardians of the Universe. Johns has crafted and evolved his Green Lantern mythos since 2005’s Green Lantern: Rebirth and has recently stated that he still has 2 to 3 years worth of stories left to tell. Green Lantern saw a slight slump after Blackest Night, but I have high hopes that the franchise is on the up and up.
Justice Society and Earth 2
Late last year it was announced that James Robinson would be writing a new Justice Society book with art by Nikola Scott. Interestingly, it was also announced that the book would not take place in the New 52 universe but rather in Earth 2. DC introduced the concept of multiple earths in the Silver age, when the heroes of the time teamed up with their incarnations from the 40’s Golden age of comics. Since then DC has expanded on the concept, got rid of it completely in 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, and then restored it after 2005’s Infinite Crisis. In this latest incarnation, there are 52 earths in DC’s multiverse, each is similar in that it contains characters based on DC’s well known heroes, but different in the portrayal of said characters. DC has since used the multiverse to assign what-if stories like Kingdom Come and Red Son places in continuity, as well as creating new reader friendly lines like the Earth One series of graphic novels. While I was in the minority, I loved Robinson’s work on JLA, and he has previous experience with the Justice Society with his runs on JSA and Starman. I’m really excited to see what DC does with the multiverse concept in the New 52, and how they bring the heroes of the 40’s into 2012.
Who is Pandora?
In the closing pages of Flashpoint, the Flash was shown running outside of time. We saw what appeared to be representations of three different universes, the main DC universe, the Wildstorm universe, and a universe consisting of various Vertigo characters. It was there that a mysterious woman clad in purple appeared and, among other ominous statements, declared that these three universes would be reunited. From this blossomed the New 52. Afterward, the purple woman, who was recently named “Pandora” by DC, appeared in all 52 #1 issues released last September. It is obvious that the character has ties with the origin of the New 52 (in the comics, not in real life). Some have posited that the character is a kind of “back door” that DC created to go back to the original DCU if the New 52 had failed. While there is probably truth to this, since the New 52 has to this point been a huge success I think it is much more likely that the character will be the center of DC’s first line wide event since the relaunch. It has been mention in interview with creators that Pandora is set to appear in the pages of Justice League and Stormwatch, so it may be sooner rather than later that we find out more about this mysterious woman in purple.
If you don’t know it by now, I’m a huge fan of Grant Morrison. Back in 2009 it was announced that the writer was planning an 8-10 issue series entitled Multiversity. The series would feature two book end issues, with the intervening issues each detailing a different earth in the DC multiverse and each featuring a different artist. An early interview with Morrison about the title can be found here at Comic Book Resources. Different earths mentioned in the interview include Earth 4, which features characters that were the basis of Alan Moore’s Watchmen characters, Earth 10, which features Nazi versions of the Justice League, and Earth Prime, which is in fact the real world. It seems the story could be a sequel of sorts to Final Crisis as Morrison has said that Nix Uotan, a character that played a central role in that story, would be appearing in Multiversity. DC has been extremely silent about this series, which according to Morrison was set to release in 2010. Could this be the year that the series finally sees the light of day? If so, how will it work around the heavily rumored Watchmen prequels? Wait, what? Watchmen? More on that later.