By Eric Drumm and Ryan Penagos
Welcome to MCP Spotlight! With insight from the book's many creators, as well as editor John Barber, behold your regular insider's guide into the bonanza that is MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS.
You guys love mixtapes, right? Packed with all your favorite artists, it's like a dance party for your soul. And when a friend makes you a mixtape, it'll probably come loaded with all your favorite jams. But maybe there'll be one or two you've never heard of, that you just fall in love with at first listen. Now imagine Marvel put out a monthly comic and did it up mixtape-style. Right there? That's MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS, the premiere talent showcase where Marvel struts its stuff and introduces you to some folks that you may not be familiar with.
What an idea! Multiple stories with all-different characters by all-different creators, somehow heaped into the same issue! Finally there's a single-issue comic buffet, stocked with new talent, characters and stories. Surely, this kind of thinking is some 21st century futurist notion. Well kids, it's not.
MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS originally kicked off way back in 1989. Running bi-weekly for a whopping 175 issues, it was a literal schmorgasbord of Marvel's finest. Featuring everything from X-Men solo adventures to Ghost Rider tales, it was the place to be to not only see your favorite Marvel characters get some time in the limelight, but it also provided a platform for comic superstars past, present and future such as Steve Ditko, John Byrne, Jim Lee, Erik Larsen, Rob Liefeld, Bryan Hitch, Joe Madureira and many more. When the series ended in 1995, it seemed MCP was a thing of the past. Flash forward nearly a decade and add a few ambitious Marvel editors, and the MCP resurrection was on its way. An editorial gang of Nick Lowe (UNCANNY X-MEN), Warren Simons (IMMORTAL IRON FIST) and Andy Schmidt took out their creator Rolodexes and decided to bring MCP back from the dead.
"This actually started years ago," explains MCP editor John Barber. "Originally, a bunch of associate editors at Marvel were planning to do the book as a way to get new stories from big name creators who might be able to do a few extra pages, and as a way to get new talent out there to Marvel's audience—and to play in corners of the Marvel Universe that we possibly wouldn't get to otherwise.
"I actually wasn't involved at the time—back then, the book was being shaped by then-Associate Editors MacKenzie Cadenhead (now lead editor at Virgin Comics), Nick Lowe (now an editor at Marvel), Warren Simons (also an editor) and Andy Schmidt—who was also promoted to editor and became the main editor on MCP, with Nick and Warren each working on a couple stories here and there."
"Andy eventually left Marvel and they asked me to take the reins—with Nick and Warren still editing their stories. Andy had put together a lot of the creative teams for the first year—which happened to include some of my favorite creators—and I filled in all the gaps, and there we go!"
With the crew in place, utilizing an intimidating little black book of comic creators, the soil is fertile to grow some amazing Marvel comics within the pages of MCP. With 32 pages to play with every issue, quite a bit of story can be packed into each tome. That leaves plenty of opportunity for characters to get some face time as well as fill in gaps in other books. For example, we could see a solo Thing adventure, yet turn the page and we jump into a Wolverine team-up. However exactly does it break down, John Barber?
"Every issue has four 8-page stories. There are two 12-part serials, a few multi-part serials and a bunch of stand-alone 8-pagers. Issue #1 has an extra 8-page story!"
That means that there could be roughly eight different writers and artists in one single issue. And when it comes to those creators, MCP is like a book born with a silver spoon in its mouth. Some of the biggest names in the business lend their talents to the new series, however they will be there right alongside some folks that may be new to you. John Barber drops a few names popping up in MCP:
"We've got big names, new faces and everywhere in between," he says.
"Just as a taste, we've got Marc Guggenheim (BLADE), Stuart and Kathryn Immonen (ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN), Andrea DiVito (ANNIHILATION), Stuart Moore (NEW AVENGERS/TRANSFORMERS), Clayton Henry (UNCANNY X-MEN), Dave Wilkins (WHAT IF?), Rich Koslowski (3 GEEKS), Nelson, M. Zachary Sherman (MORAV), Khoi Pham (X-FACTOR), David VonAllmen, Mico Suayan (MOON KNIGHT), Josh Fialkov (PUNKS), Chris Moeller (JLA), Mandy McMurray (DRAGONSWITCH), Roy Allan Martinez (X-FACTOR), Chris Gage (WORLD WAR HULK: X-MEN), Joyce Chin (VAMPIRELLA), Jeremy Huan (NEW EXCALIBUR), Robert Venditti (THE SURROGATES), Jesse Blaze Snider (DEE SNIDER'S STRANGELAND), Marco Chechetto, Mark Parsons, Tom Cohen, Merrill Hagan (TUFF-GIRL), Staz Johnson (ROBIN), Tom Palmer (AVENGERS), B. Clay Moore (HAWAIIAN DICK), Lee Weeks (INCREDIBLE HULK), Jai Nitz (NOVAVOLO), Ben Stenbeck (TALES OF THE VAMPIRES), Ed McGuinness (FALLEN SON: AVENGERS) and many more."
A healthy mix of veterans and newcomers, MCP is a playground for creators to spotlight not only characters that are hot properties, but also dust off heroes and villains that haven't been seen for a while. It's been said that MCP serves as an arena to showcase the best talent in the business as well as a way of bringing new names over to the big leagues. John Barber agrees, saying, "It's a mix of those two things. Sometimes a big-name creator has a hole in his or her schedule and we can get a short story out of them. Sometimes there are guys like Fialkov or Venditti who created brilliant graphic novels like ELK'S RUN and THE SURROGATES (respectively) but who might not be known by Marvel readers. A lot of these creators that you might not be familiar with are the ones everybody will be talking about over the next few years."
With all those creators bringing the goods, the question becomes, "which characters get the MCP spotlight?" John Barber lays a few on us:
"Spider-Man, the Thing, Hulk, Hellcat, Guardian, Blade, Stacy Dolan, Micromax, Taskmaster, Magneto, Outlaw Kid, Namor, Ka-Zar, Shanna, Zabu, Devil Dinosaur and Moonboy, Captain America in WWII, Deadpool, Daredevil, the Wrecking Crew, Spider-Woman, Man-Thing, Iron Man, Wolverine, Cyclops and, of course, Stingray."
A single issue with that many creators telling that many stories may seem a little overwhelming to the average Marvel fan. The younger generation of Marvel readers might be unfamiliar with the anthology format, and several stories and creative teams in one book could be new concept to them. However, John Barber has confidence that the work will speak for itself and readers will go ga-ga even if they aren't used to anthologies.
"I think as long as the anthology gives readers something exciting and worth looking at, they'll be there," he says. "I mean, you hear how anthologies are tough sells, but that wasn't an issue when the original MCP was running 'Weapon X' or that first run of Claremont/Buscema Wolverine. Or when DARK HORSE PRESENTS was running 'Sin City.' If the quality is there, the readers will be there," affirms Barber.
MCP offers superstar talent as well as new voices telling stories about all your favorite characters. Truly a Marvel mixtape, it's an opportunity to enjoy your favorite heroes and creators, while soaking up new writers and artists blazing fresh paths with characters you may not have heard of. Giving what you love and what you might not have seen in the same issue, MCP is the best of the best, and you just might make some new friends as well. John Barber has this to say about MCP as a whole.
"There are a lot of crazy surprises coming out of here—some awesome stories by amazing creators. Some of the creators on this book are already red-hot and the rest soon will be. You might not be familiar with Dave Wilkins—who's penciling the Marc Guggenheim-written VANGUARD—but by the end of the year, everybody will know him. And the creators you know are working at the top of their games—Stuart Immonen has never been better, Andrea DiVito is on fire after WORLD WAR HULK: X-MEN and wait'll you see what McGuinness is doing…"
Check out MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS on sale September 19.
Also don't forget to keep checking Marvel.com for future installments of MCP Spotlight!
MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #1 (JUL072177)
Written by MARC GUGGENHEIM, KATHYRN IMMONEN, STUART MOORE, RICH KOSLOWSKI, NELSON
Penciled by STUART IMMONEN, CLAYTON HENRY, DAVE WILKINS, ANDREA DIVITO, NELSON
Wraparound Cover by J. SCOTT CAMPBELL
Rated A …$3.99
MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS J. SCOTT CAMPBELL POSTER (JUL072246)
24X36 Color Poster...$6.99
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