By Ben Morse
Beginning in October 2012, Marvel starts a bold new chapter in its history, with Marvel NOW!, a publishing initiative extending into 2013 that will touch every major Marvel character from the Avengers to the X-Men to Spider-Man to the Fantastic Four and beyond.
Marvel.com spoke with Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso and Senior VP – Executive Editor Tom Brevoort to get all the details on what to expect from Marvel NOW!
Marvel.com: In your words, what is Marvel NOW!?
Axel Alonso: Marvel NOW! is the next chapter in the ongoing saga of the Marvel Universe. From October through February, we’ll provide at least one great reason for readers—old, lapsed or new—to go into a comic store each week: a new issue #1, featuring an exciting new creative team and driving concept, that’s an easy entry-point into the Marvel Universe. Each and every one of these launches is built to last.
Tom Brevoort: Marvel NOW! is a coordinated creative refresh across our entire publishing line, a unique moment in which the creative reins on virtually all of our quintessential series are being passed from one person to another. As a result, there’ll be both the excitement and uncertainty of seeing a new creative partnership handle characters and series that have been in other hands consistently for many years. And at the same time, this is the perfect instance for readers both new and lapsed to dip their toes back into the Marvel pool, in that all of these creators are going to be beginning their story-cycles during this time, so it’s about a clean a point of entry as there’s ever likely to be.
Joe Quesada: Marvel NOW! is the next step in Marvel story evolution and character evolution. It’s not a reboot. It is a universe-shifting catch-all, which really just tells fans that if you enjoyed Avengers vs. X-Men, get ready for what the outcome is because there’s some major, major changes coming to the Marvel Universe. A lot of changes to the character status quos, alter egos, costumes, creator shifts, design shifts, the way that we do our covers, digital shifts and the way we start delivering our books. We’re continuing with our evolution push as we start to embrace more and more of the digital world and its technology; the sky’s the limit with Infinite Comics, AR, and all sorts of things. As the technology changes we’re going to change with it and our fans are going to eventually tell us what it is that they really love out of all those things that we’re playing with. But it’s a big shift because it’s not just story and character. There’s also the way we tell our stories and the way we deliver our stories that are starting to change as well.
Marvel.com: What is the scope of this initiative?
Axel Alonso: It’s a sweeping initiative. Most of our core titles will be a part of it.
Joe Quesada: The scope is pretty huge. It’s pretty huge, but we’re also taking a very conservative tactic in the sense that we’re not just going to say “Hey, we’re just going to dump it all on you in one particular shot.” This is going to be a significant release that’s going to take place over several months so that we can do it properly, do it in a way that our readers can appreciate, and tell our stories in the right way. Because we do have a lot of moving parts here and I think it’s the fairest and best way to do this.
Marvel.com: What makes Marvel NOW! a good launch point for new readers or people who haven't tried certain properties?
Axel Alonso: Marvel NOW! hearkens back to 11 years ago, when Marvel found great success employing a simple formula: great artist plus great writer plus great character plus great story. All of these creators are inspired and motivated to do their best stuff. At last week’s editorial summit, each writer shared his plans for their titles, and there isn’t a weak link in the chain. The only difference is that we are mindful that these stories are linked by the common backdrop.
Joe Quesada: A lot of characters and a lot of their stories are starting story arcs and different status quos right around this time. I know there are a lot of people out there who are lapsed readers, or future readers who don’t necessarily know exactly how to jump into comics because the idea of decades and decades of continuity is daunting to them. Now mind you, they should never have that fear regardless, but for us we’re putting a flag in the sand and saying “Listen, if you’ve had that problem before, just take a flier on us. Try Marvel NOW!, because we are not wiping the slate clean—we’re just trying to tell these stories from a clean point of view and allowing a good jumping-off point for new readers.”
Marvel.com: Is this a reboot of the existing Marvel Universe?
Axel Alonso: It is not a reboot. We don’t travel back in time, into the future, or to an alternate universe. Marvel NOW! respects the investment—emotional and financial—that long-term fans have made in the Marvel Universe, and this story takes place in a Marvel Universe they can recognize, one that grows out of Avengers Vs. X-Men. That said, these stories will be accessible to lapsed readers—the guy who likes, say, Captain America, but doesn’t know where to start—and anyone who saw a Marvel movie or heard the buzz about Marvel NOW!
Marvel.com: What role is digital technology going to play in Marvel NOW!?
Joe Quesada: There [are] really two answers to this, and I think both of them are right. It’s going to play a tremendously huge role, and I don’t know. And the reason I don’t know is because technology is changing every single—oh wait, it just changed again. It changes every second. There’s so much new stuff coming out that I can’t tell you what’s going to be the rage 12 months from now with technology. What I can tell you is that if it’s something that is applicable to things that we do for a living, we’re going to try it. And we’re going to see if it works for us. So it is the great unknown, it is really exciting, but it’s also something that we’re not going to be left behind wondering why we didn’t get involved in the world of digital much earlier. You know, we‘ve been involved in the digital world for a long, long time—longer than most publishers—so we are already ahead of the curve and we’re already getting a sense of what the readership is really thinking, what they’re not thinking, because ultimately it’s about the readers. It’s about making their experience a better one, a more convenient one, and really much more entertaining.
Marvel.com: What can you say anything else about the way the exterior appearance and the packaging of the books are going to change?
Joe Quesada: We [are] taking a hard look at the way we design our covers. I’ll tell you the history behind this. Tom Brevoort runs these workshops for the junior editorial staff. Several months ago, he asked me to come in and do a talk on covers, cover design, what I feel makes strong covers, yadda yadda. So in preparation for that meeting, what I decided to do was, I wasn’t going to come in with a slide presentation or a keynote presentation of comic book covers that were successful. I wanted to look outside of comics and to the industry that I think is the most successful when it comes to poster work or cover work, which would be the movie industry throughout the ages. So I started going through all my huge library of movie poster reference, everything from the earliest days of filmmaking to today, the modern era, and I started pulling images from different eras of things that I think, images that I think work. Certain designs that I thought worked, whether they were abstract or literal, and presented this to the group. And as I was going through each one of the images, it really sort of dawned on me as I looked at the movie posters that we have a standard rule in the world of comic books which is the comic book logo should appear on the top third of the cover. Now, we’ll deviate from that every once in a while, but the norm you have got to say that 90 percent to 95 percent of comic books have the logo at the top third of the cover. And that is something that has historically been done in comics because historically comics were sold in a newsstand, and the way that books and magazines are racked on the newsstand, the only thing that you really get to see for the most part is the logo of the magazine or the book. And that’s what people look for, and they pull it out, and if the image grabs them they buy it or they don’t. So, looking at the world that we live in today where we really don’t have much of a newsstand presence anymore and looking at how our readership, even when they buy stuff at their local comic shop, very few comic shops actually rack their comics the way that a newsstand did. You can actually see the entire comic cover standing alone next to other comic covers, but the top third isn’t really all that important. Then I think about the readership that orders their books from their local comic shop in advance. What they do is they go through the Marvel catalogue and they see the covers, sometimes they’ll see a thumbnail of a cover, and that’s really what they’re basing it on—and obviously the synopsis of the story or whether this comic is their favorite book or no, And then, thinking about all the fans that are going to start picking up their books digitally, and the imagery that they will see in say their tablet, for example, it became very, very evident to me that there was absolutely no reason anymore to continue having our logos on the top third of the cover.
That’s not to say that we won’t, but I thought about maybe we should give our cover artists the opportunity to design their covers in a way—because now they can do a whole image like a movie poster—so that your reader’s eye is captivated by and they want to buy that book while at the same time letting us know what that book is so that the logo doesn’t have to appear there. So now we’re going to start looking at our covers as design work as a whole, and placing the images in places that are most attractive and that catch the eye in the best way. So if that means that if it’s an Iron Man cover and Iron Man’s head is on the top left side of that cover and the logo is on the bottom right, if that’s the thing that’s going to grab the readership, then that’s what we’re going to do. So it’s a challenge to our cover artists to think more in terms of design. We’re leaving the canvas open to them to work with as much as we possibly can. Because our covers carry a lot of information. They have ratings, they have UPS, they have all these things. So we’re designing our covers so that all these things aren’t locked in a specific area of the cover so that for the most part the canvas is empty for the artist to do their thing. So we’re just going to look at different methodologies by which to attract readers to our books, because more than anything that top third thing—that’s thinking from the 1930’s. So it’s time for us to move on.
|Marvel NOW! by Joe Quesada|
Marvel.com: What does the preview piece you worked on tell us as far as what kind of characters are going to be coming to the forefront of Marvel NOW! and what changes are in store for them?
Joe Quesada: Well I think you can certainly glom several things from that piece. Number one, costume changes. Number two, you’ll see characters there that you wouldn’t necessarily think would be in a piece like that. I think readers can assume that we’re going to make a big push with certain books and create certain books that involve a lot of these new characters. And also just changes to certain status quos based upon costume design and what happened. Even Cyclops. He’s very prominent in that piece, He looks very different, but definitely prominent. And who knows if that’s even Scott in that costume? But the goal was to sort of give a quick, encapsulating view of a piece that says “Well, it’s going to be different.”
Marvel.com: Who are some of the creators prominently involved with Marvel NOW! that you can reveal at this time?
Tom Brevoort: Rick Remender and John Cassaday on UNCANNY AVENGERS, Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen on ALL-NEW X-MEN, and Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opena on AVENGERS, with Adam Kubert, Dustin Weaver and Mike Deodato also contributing to that twice-a-month series, plus Jonathan and Steve Epting on NEW AVENGERS. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Joe Quesada: We’ve got a lot of great changes coming up with our creators. I think two creators that have me very excited right now are, first, Jonathan Hickman and what he’s going to be bringing to the Avengers; if you really want a very clear road map of where the Marvel Universe is going to be taking you in the next four to five years, then you cannot not read AVENGERS. You have to.
And then the other creator that has me really excited is old time favorite Brian Bendis. Brian is working on two very significant projects for us. One of them is ALL-NEW X-MEN. I have not seen Brian this excited about writing comics in quite a long time. Between ALL-NEW X-MEN and his other secret project that he’s working on, which I think many people are going to find surprising, he is operating on all cylinders. I mean he is just a shot out of a cannon. This is like Brian Bendis circa 2002, where he’s salivating to get all the stuff that he’s doing.
The first series to fall under the Marvel NOW! banner will be UNCANNY AVENGERS, a new ongoing title launching in October, written by Rick Remender with art by John Cassaday and featuring members of the Avengers and the X-Men on one team for the first time facing a returned Red Skull out to exterminate the mutant race.
Marvel.com: Why was UNCANNY AVENGERS chosen as the first title for the Marvel NOW! initiative?
Axel Alonso: UNCANNY AVENGERS is the first book that delivers a snapshot of the Marvel Universe in the aftermath of AvX. This is a team composed of Avengers and X-Men that’s put together to deal with a specific threat, but that eventually becomes something much more than that.
Marvel.com: How does UNCANNY AVENGERS represent the post-Avengers Vs. X-Men Marvel Universe?
Tom Brevoort: Back in AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #1, Captain America and Cyclops had a pointed conversation before fists started flying about how, whenever a threat to mutants has arisen, the Avengers have seemed pretty remote; Cap articulated his position, but in the fallout from AvX, Cap and the Avengers, having gone through a bunch of stuff and having walked a mile in the X-Men's shoes, are feeling like there's some truth in what Cyclops had to say. So the Uncanny Avengers squad is being put together as a direct response to that, as a proactive attempt to provide support of the civil rights of the world's mutant citizens, and to provide physical and superhuman aid in those circumstances where either mutants are threatened by non-mutants, regular humans are threatened by mutants, and every other iteration in-between. In essence, as we attempt to bridge the divide between the Avengers and the X-Men as entities within our publishing world, UNCANNY X-MEN will be the primary bridging book, a place where the team is as likely to battle Apocalypse as The Red Skull, and where long-established X-characters will stand side-by-side with long-established Avengers characters, in a very public manner.
Axel Alonso: Several years ago, we wondered why the roster of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” didn’t include Spider-Man and Wolverine, and the Avengers became our flagship franchise. A team composed of X-Men and Avengers is an equally seismic event—a must-read title for Avengers fans and X-Men fans, and they aren’t always the same audience.
Marvel.com: How was the creative team of Rick Remender and John Cassaday selected?
Tom Brevoort: Rick pitched the book right before one of our recent Marvel editorial retreats, as something that could naturally grow out of AvX. And we’re always looking for interesting projects to entice John into doing more work for Marvel.
Marvel.com: What characters can you tell us will be part of Uncanny Avengers?
Tom Brevoort: Among the characters that will make up the team are Captain America, Wolverine, Thor, The Scarlet Witch, Rogue and Havok, with a few other surprises waiting in the wings. There’ll also be a funeral in the first issue.
Marvel.com: What type of threat does the returned Red Skull pose to this team and to the Marvel Universe?
Tom Brevoort: The reborn Red Skull will have a strong anti-mutant agenda that will put him in direct opposition to the Uncanny Avengers and their mandate of attempting to inspire greater human-mutant cooperation. The new Skull will also possess a new set of powers obtained in a very creepy way, as well as his own team of foot soldiers, people whose lives were shattered by mutants who’ve been rebuilt at a genetic level to turn them into what we’ve jokingly been calling the Skull’s “S-Men.”
In November, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Stuart Immonen will premiere ALL-NEW X-MEN, with the modern day Children of the Atom facing the original team—Cyclops, Iceman, Angel, Beast and Jean Grey—brought forward in time to a Marvel Universe unfamiliar and shocking to them.
Marvel.com: Almost a decade ago, Brian Michael Bendis reinvented the Avengers franchise; how do his plans for the X-Men compare?
Axel Alonso Brian is bringing the original X-Men—the [Stan] Lee and [Jack] Kirby X-Men—into the present, and they’re here for the long haul. They’re going to see what the world has become, the hard road that got them here and, indeed, who made it this far. That’s going to make for years of fascinating stories.
Marvel.com: What characters can we expect to be featured in ALL-NEW X-MEN?
Axel Alonso: The current X-Men cast—or those who made it out of AvX alive—the Lee and Kirby X-Men, and a few surprises.
Marvel.com: What makes having the original X-Men in the present day Marvel Universe an intriguing proposition?
Axel Alonso: These characters grew up aspiring to live the dream of Charles Xavier. They're going to come into a world that's very different from that dream. And they’re going to come face to face with what they’ve become—future versions of their very selves—or, weirder still, come to terms with the fact that they didn’t make it this far. Imagine you’re young Jean Grey and you just crash landed in 2012. Get my point?
Marvel.com: How was Stuart Immonen selected as the artist for All-New X-Men?
Axel Alonso: The stars were just aligned to make it so. He’s the perfect fit for this title.
Writer Jonathan Hickman and artists Jerome Opena and Steve Epting will reinvent Earth’s Mightiest Heroes this December in the bi-weekly AVENGERS as well as a revamped NEW AVENGERS, featuring an expanded roster, ambitious mission statement, and broad imperative that pushes forward into the 21st century.
Marvel.com: How is Jonathan Hickman changing the mandate of the Avengers franchise?
Tom Brevoort: First off, it's important for you to know that, while we're not ready to tell you any more about it, Jonathan will also be writing NEW AVENGERS as well as AVENGERS.
I mention that because the second thing you need to know is that, like AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, AVENGERS is going to be shipping twice a month. So there'll be three Hickman-written Avengers comics coming out every 30 days—two issues of AVENGERS and one issue of NEW AVENGERS.
I can tell you that NEW AVENGERS will be an absolutely essential sister title to AVENGERS, intrinsically linked to what’s going on in that book. Together, the two will function as Black and White, Day and Night, Life and Death.
The main imperative for the Avengers coming out of AvX is a need to think bigger. Had the Avengers been better prepared, better manned, better equipped, the events of AvX might have been able to have been dealt with in a much shorter order. So we'll be fielding a very large core team comprised of 18 or so characters—spanning the key players in the “Marvel’s The Avengers” film, mainstays of the current team such as Captain Marvel—Carol Danvers—and Spider-Woman, classic Avengers of the past such as The Falcon, some established Marvel characters of note that have never been Avengers before, and a number of completely new, though familiar, characters as well. And we'll be keeping things in motion—not every hero will be featured in every issue and there'll be smaller groups tasked to deal with rising situations as they crop up.
In typical fashion, Jonathan has laid out plans for literally years of stories—at our recent Editorial Retreat, I worked out that he'd broadly plotted through issue #63 at this point. And like his work on FANTASTIC FOUR and SECRET WARRIORS, the scale just gets bigger and bigger and bigger as you go, with payoff leading to payoff leading to payoff.
AVENGERS is the crown jewel of the Marvel publishing line, especially after the juggernaut success of the movie, so we're going to be treating it as such, with the best characters, drawn by the best artists, coming out on a frequency that will help to propel story velocity and that will reward readers month after month after month in a big way.
For all the latest on Marvel NOW!, stay tuned to Marvel.com!
Official Press Release
The most popular characters. The most acclaimed creators. The most ambitious stories. This is Marvel NOW!.
This Fall, the Marvel Universe heads in an exciting all-new direction, as the industry’s top creators join the top super heroes, including Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Spider-Man, Wolverine and more, to deliver all-new ongoing series, each beginning with issue #1! Marvel NOW! is the culmination of Marvel ReEvolution, the groundbreaking new initiative to evolve the comic book experience through innovation.
It kicks off in October’s UNCANNY AVENGERS #1, from the team of Rick Remender and John Cassaday and continues with jaw-dropping new Marvel NOW! series nearly every week through February.
“There’s never been a better time to check out comics than Marvel NOW!” said Axel Alonso, Editor in Chief, Marvel Entertainment. “This isn’t a reboot or a reimagining—Marvel NOW! is all about looking forward, building on our rich history of great stories and delivering new ideas.”
In UNCANNY AVENGERS #1, the Avengers and X-Men must join forces to overcome the greatest challenge either team has ever faced, one so devastating that neither can afford to do it alone! Can Captain America’s newly assembled team find a way to peacefully co-exist while also dealing with the game-changing repercussions of Avengers Vs. X-Men?
Then in November, Marvel NOW! expands to all corners of the universe with launches including ALL-NEW X-MEN #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen, AVENGERS #1 by Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opena, on-sale in December, and NEW AVENGERS #1, by Hickman and Steve Epting =, on-sale in January 2013.
“We brought fans the biggest comic book event imaginable in Avengers Vs. X-Men and now we’re taking the Marvel Universe to an exciting new place, beginning with Uncanny Avengers #1,” said Tom Brevoort, SVP, Executive Editor, Marvel Entertainment. “If you’re a long-time fan, all the stories you’ve read will give you even more enjoyment of what’s happening now—we’re not abandoning our past. But if you’re a new reader, this is where you’re going to learn just why Marvel comics are unlike anything else you’ve ever read. And no character is left unaffected by Marvel NOW!.”
Every comic book bearing the Marvel NOW! branding includes a code for a free digital copy of that same comic on the Marvel Comics app for iOS and Android devices. Additionally, each issue #1 of Marvel NOW! series features special augmented reality content available exclusive through the Marvel AR app, including cover recaps, behind the scenes features and more that add value to your reading experience at no additional cost.
“This is the natural next step of the Marvel ReEvolution, as we evolve every facet of Marvel publishing,” explained Joe Quesada, Chief Creative Officer, Marvel Entertainment. “You’ve seen us craft new digital storytelling formats like Marvel Infinite Comics and bring added value to our comics with Marvel AR. Now our print comics leap into the future with a cinematic new look for our covers, exciting new designs for our biggest characters and stories that will send you on the kind of journey you can only get at Marvel.”
This October, Join The ReEvolution as Marvel NOW! kicks off with UNCANNY AVENGERS #1, ushering in a new era for comics and the perfect jumping on point for new readers. The biggest creators bring you the biggest characters in the biggest stories…and it’s happening NOW!
To commemorate the historic release of UNCANNY AVENGERS #1 on Wednesday, October 10, participating retailers can host special advance release parties the night before! That’s right, you can experience the biggest new series launch of the year on Tuesday, October 9 at select retailers, who’ll also have limited edition giveaways exclusive to these events.
For more on Marvel NOW!, join the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #MarvelNOW.