Saturday, 7 July 2012

The lowdown on Marvel NOW

It's been a year since DC rebooted their entire universe with the new 52 and it looks like this year Marvel is set to do something to try and compete with their gargantuan rival.

Between October 2012 and February 2013, the publisher with be rolling out Marvel NOW, a new initiative that will shake up the Marvel Universe after the events of Avengers Vs X-Men.

Speaking to CBR, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso explained the scale of the new direction: "Marvel NOW! is different from anything we've done and the biggest initiative since the early days of "NuMarvel" when we reinvented the line employing the simple formula: great writer + great artist + great character + great hook = success.

"Each week, we will be offering at least one new entry-point into the Marvel Universe for readers -- old, lapsed and new. It's a patient rollout that demonstrates respect for the fan and his wallet."

Marvel NOW will introduce new titles, such as Uncanny Avengers, which will see some big mutant names making it into the ranks of the Avengers as a result of the recent annual event, AvX. All New X-Men sees Stuart Immonen and Brian Michael Bendis join forces to craft a tale about the original X-Men finding their way into present day. Bendis will be moving from The Avengers, making way for Jonathan Hickman who has been helming Fantastic Four.

As well as a shift in writers, fans will also notice a difference in the heroes themselves, who will sport costumes more in line with their film counterparts. Nick Fury will also undergo a revamp into the Samuel L Jackson character from the movies.

Cover layouts, too, will see a change in order to make them more eye-catching. Some comics will also come with a digital download and augmented reality-enabled technology that will allow readers to use smart phones and tablets to access recaps and behind-the-scenes details: "If there's something that looks interesting among this stuff, hold up your device and you'll get a little video and a recap telling you what this book is about that hopefully makes you go, 'Ah, that's the one I want. And that one and that one and that one…" says Tom Brevoort, Marvel's executive editor.

Marvel has always been a company to embrace new technology, from their digital subscription to Marvel Infinite Comics, a new style of comic story-telling in the digital medium.

The question remains as to whether fans will embrace these new changes, especially more closely linking the Marvel Studios universe to the comic book continuity.

What do you think of the new initiative? Is it just a savvy marketing decision to drive the dollars or the beginning of a brave new era in comics?