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The Cosmic Triune Plus One

BY: Managing Editor Byron Brewer

(Editor’s note: For the past few weeks, you have been reading The Cosmic Triune by the Cosmic Book News brass about the state – or lack thereof – of Marvel Cosmic. This piece by Managing Editor Byron Brewer presents another perception.)

I know how Joe Q. feels.

I think I know how Tom Brevoort feels.

I certainly know how Cosmic Book News publisher/editor Matt McGloin and other staffers and forum posters feel …

Feel about the lack of respect Marvel in general and its decision makers in particular seem to be treating us fans who are the backbone of its cosmic movement. With our base titles, Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy, “on hiatus” and probably never to return, we have been scrambling to get any piece of cosmic epoch left that we can, be it from Avengers, Thor or Chaos War and its infinite spin-offs, etc., etc.

Of course, some do not want to scramble. If it does not feature [fill in your favorite Marvel Cosmic character here; mine is the Stranger and he has been no where during the Annihilation buzz!], it is simply “not cosmic.” And besides, only DnA write such great tales, right? Of course, fans (like myself) of Jack Kirby, Roy Thomas, Walt Simonson, Jim Starlin, Steve Englehart and others may have something to say about that, if we are dealing with the long, broad picture.

But really, we are not. We are dealing with today. With a Thanos: Imperative that was a runaway sell-out hit, a critical success and the news that comes of wasted talent like Abnett and Lanning and Walker on an Earth-based book like Heroes for Hire. That, my friends, may be seen as a slap in the face to some Marvel Cosmic fans. Me? I am trying to see it as a simple waste of talent, and that is not unique to our industry.

How many years was Bill Everett, creator of the Sub-Mariner, alive and well and working in and out for Marvel before he was allowed his time at the character he created? Mere months before his death! The Silver Surfer was given his first book and who drew it? Certainly not his creator, King Kirby, but John Buscema (a nice substitute, but at the time a sub nonetheless). Don McGregor was making magic with the Black Panther in Jungle Action and suddenly one of the most beautiful, soul-searing storylines in history is interrupted by who? Jack Kirby, with a less-than-appealing arc or two for T’Challa. Same happened with Steve Englehart on Captain America.

The times, they aren’t a’changin’, kids. It has nothing to do with Marvel Comics, Marvel Cosmic or us as fans. It is the way “suits” think, perceive things in dollar amounts and flood, flood, flood. Ask anyone who was reading these titles when the bottom dropped out in the 1990s. Superman cannot save a DC line and Deadpool and Spidey by themselves cannot a Marvel Universe make.

The Marvel Universe. Called “your” universe. Yet some folks think that universe barely leaves Yancy Street, much less Manhattan. Where is the “Universe,” the wonder promised us in Fantastic Four #1 by Lee and Kirby? Will it die with the recently-announced Devastation?

No.

No, True Believers. For Lee and Kirby, Thomas and Buscema, and Starlin all by his lonesome proved that storylines can be attached to this mudball Earth and still be cosmic with a capital “C.” Read “The Hive” in the FF, wherein Adam Warlock (then Him) was born. Read most of the “Kree/Skrull War,” the ultimate cosmic tale, where most of the action occurs on Sol-3. Take a gander at “The Celestials Saga” in Thor, “The Korvac Saga” in Avengers … for Christ sake, “The Galactus Trilogy!” Many involve space or time-travel, but the main front of battle, of story is Earth. That does not make them less cosmic; that just makes them great Marvel Cosmic stories rooted on Earth.

I understand everyone’s cynicism. No one has enjoyed the tales of Nova, Star-Lord, the Guardians and Darkhawk as much as me (not even you, Bill!) and I have really been glad to see them occurring in deep space, a venue I have always loved, away from the madness of mankind.

As a 30-plus-year newspaperman and editor/writer for CBN, I always try to maintain a “glass-half-full” attitude, as you may have noticed. I am not Gomer Pyle, who never heard of Vietnam, viewing things through rose-colored glasses. But this is not a science class! This is supposed to be our fun, after all! Like the characters mostly appearing in What the D’ast?, I don’t mind searching for my Marvel Cosmic if Joe Q. is not willing to hand it out to me under a Realm of Kings banner. It is there to be found, if you look, despite what many of the MU architects have said.

But I would also use CBN as a “bully pulpit” to voice my objections and desires loud and clear, in a language ($$$$) Joe, Tom, Brian and others understand!

And never forget: Out there somewhere, beckoning, is the next writer with a pitch for a trend-setter like Annihilation. And we will be here to receive it!

PREVIOUS:

The Cosmic Triune: Definition Of Cosmic

The Cosmic Triune: Nova

The Cosmic Triune: Secret Avengers

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The Cosmic Triune: Nova

 

It’s hard thinking about your favorite hero, who might be on a path leading upwards, when his title explodes into oblivion – even for one ironically named Nova.

After taking the lead position in Annihilation and becoming the flagship title for the cosmic line afterwards, Nova is in a precarious spot right now. With his book “on hiatus” and The Thanos Imperative quickly coming to its conclusion, what does the future of Nova hold?

Based on comments from Marvel, Nova won’t be back right away after The Thanos Imperative is over. Of course, with the sell-out success of Thanos, it’s possible that Marvel will green-light his book’s return. I certainly hope so, but I’m only cautiously optimistic right now.

Matt McGloin, Editor of Cosmic Book News, and I talked on Skype for over three hours a couple of weeks ago. We both agree that the decision makers at Marvel don’t seem to have a good grasp on what cosmic is to those of us who read it. To emphasize the point, I look to this quote from Marvel VP Executive Editor Tom Brevoort in response to questions from Matt:

“I think one of the reasons that we don’t do more to connect our Cosmic storylines to Earth is that it’s often difficult to make those kinds of storylines relevant to a wider mainstream audience without losing the appeal that they hold for the dedicated Cosmic fans.

We love the fans of our Cosmic titles, don’t get us wrong—but once you’re operating on such a scale and at such a remove from the day-to-day concerns of humanity, it becomes difficult to find those touch-points of relevance that really distinguish a Marvel story from what everybody else does.”

Now, it’s completely possible that I’m misinterpreting Tom’s meaning, but it sounds as if Marvel believes that what brings cosmic readers to the books are only the settings and scale — that “cosmic” means somewhere other than Earth and the threat has to be universal oblivion. At least to me personally, that’s only part of the attraction; however, just like the “Earth-based” series published by Marvel, what truly appeals to me are the characters and how they face the threat – big or small.

Annihilation succeeded for me because I was following a hero’s journey and evolution as a character. It’s Richard Rider’s very humanity that drew me in, not the fact that they were fighting Annihilus and a huge group of bugs (which was extremely cool – don’t get me wrong). Keith Giffen (along with DnA in Annihilation: Nova) made me care about the young man and how the United Front was going to turn back the threat. Isn’t basic survival the foundation of what Tom called “the day-to-day concerns of humanity?”

However, by thinking the setting is the key to cosmic, Marvel appears to be going down a bad highway. Instead of continuing what works with Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel is attempting to marry the “mainstream audience” with us cosmic readers by taking perhaps better known characters such as Thor and Hercules and throwing them into a “cosmic” setting via Chaos War — and since it’s in a non-Earth setting and has Galactus, then all of us cosmic readers will automatically buy and love it, right?

Um…, no. Not for me, anyways. I have no interest in the characters in the series so I won’t be picking it up. To those who feel that we cosmic readers need to pick it up to show Marvel there’s interest in cosmic titles, and we’ll get Nova back as a result, I believe it actually sends the opposite message. If we buy it for just that reason, it says that we’ll drink whatever Kool-Aid Marvel gives us as long as it’s not on Earth and that they don’t need to bring Nova back because they can just plop Thor into a new book.

It has been shown that “cosmic” can do Earth bound stories very well. All of the issues of Nova where he came to Earth were excellent. The reason they were that good wasn’t so much where the stories took place, it was because of the character and how the stories were written. Abnett and Lanning are in the top-tier of writers around and they understand the importance of character.

Nova was able to maintain respectable and steady sales numbers because of the quality of the work and the attention to the characters in the book. The setting and threat were important, of course, but only because we cared about the people that threat was aimed at.

Just so it doesn’t seem like I’m Marvel-bashing, and to those who spew stuff about how Marvel hates cosmic and wants it to fail (although why anyone would think a business would want a property – something it has invested a lot into – to fail is beyond me), I do want to give Marvel credit along with a big thank you for what we have been given over the last four years.

It’s public knowledge that Joe Quesada isn’t necessarily the biggest fan of cosmic stories. However, he recognized that there is a market for it and saw an opportunity in what Andy Schmidt presented in Annihilation. When that series succeeded, instead of saying “that was great, thanks for the ride and good night,” he gave the green light for Nova’s title under Marvel Editor Bill Rosemann’s solid leadership.

With Nova leading the charge, Marvel allowed Bill and DnA to expand the cosmic line and grow it to a point we haven’t seen since the Infinity books of the 1990s. The quality of the work was so high that other writers now want to use Nova (Marvel Adventures Super Heroes and Secret Avengers to name two).

In Secret Avengers, Ed Brubaker has shown that you can be in a space/cosmic setting and sell a ton of issues if you make the story about the characters. Personally, I don’t think Nova was handled the best in #4. I believe Brubaker used the ‘Saving Private Rider’ arc of Secret Avengers to show the power of the Nova Force. While that was great and truly appreciated, it was also used as a tool to boost the greatness of his favorite character Steve Rogers and in return made Rich himself look like a tool at the end of the issue. I’m hopeful we will see Bru revisit the storyline in a later arc and show that he is truly a fan of Nova as he has stated. A solid showing of Nova as a character in a hugely popular series like Secret Avengers would go a long way to ensuring that he will be around for the long-term future. Plus, Nova is to be featured in the second season of Super Hero Squad this fall and will appear in next year’s Spider-Man animated series. Along with his role in Marvel Adventures Super Heroes and Secret Avengers, Nova’s future appears to be really bright.

However, my worry is the lack of any sort of news or teases of Nova’s title in the future. The convention season was extremely light on cosmic news outside of Chaos War — and absolutely nothing in regards to the fate of Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy as a whole. I’m hoping we will finally hear more at the New York Comic Con next month. On the one hand, I understand the need to generate drama and interest in the finale of The Thanos Imperative. It has been frustrating not to know if your favorite character is coming back either in a continuation of his series or in a relaunch. Some will say that happens all the time with the big name Marvel characters in an event. The big difference is: Nova is not considered by Marvel to be one of their big guns. Despite having everything that a publisher wants in a licensable character (power, personality, great costume, etc.), Nova has a history of being shelved after spiking in popularity. That difference is what worries me.

I easily can see Marvel deciding that the cosmic titles “need a break” and put them away for some years until a great pitch comes along or a new regime that is a big supporter of cosmic characters. On the flip side of that, I can see a genuine desire to wait until Thanos is closer to completion to make a decision and announcement based on sales of the series. It’s the internal conflict of it all that causes me consternation (I know that’s a big word for me [laughs]).

Bottom line is: I can’t imagine Marvel will blow up Nova while the character is burning so brightly.

Read More about The Cosmic Triune: Nova

The Cosmic Triune: Secret Avengers

 

NOVA IS A SECRET AVENGER!

The Secret Is Out – Secret Avengers Is A Hit!

Over the last couple weeks I have been having conversations, regarding what happened to and what is happening with Marvel Cosmic, with Doug Smith of the Nova Prime Page and Bill Menesse, the CBN Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy reviewer quoted by Marvel in their press releases, solicits and catalogs.

This is the first in a series of opinionated articles, related to those discussions, that will focus on our various points relevant to Marvel Cosmic.

Our friends over at Newsarama posted the top ten sales for August with Secret Avengers #4 coming in at #5! That’s right, the Captain America led group of B-listers placed within the top ten once again. So far, the first issue debuted at #4, the second at #8, with the third at #10 (source: http://www.comichron.com). That’s a lot of readers following Steve Rogers, Beast, Black Widow, Valkyrie, Ant-Man, War Machine, Sharon Carter – and Richard Rider, Nova!

When Secret Avengers was first announced and Nova shown to assemble, Cosmic fans were split into basically two camps. On one hand, you had the readers that were ecstatic that guys like Nova were going to be exposed to a larger viewing audience through the likes of Ed Brubaker and Mike Deodato! On the other hand, fans that had grown accustomed to their cosmic heroes…not getting treated as well(?)…in earth bound books, were a bit cautious to say the least (kids might read this, guys!).

Without getting into specifics, the cosmic crew is all too familiar with the head honchos at Marvel being pretty vocal about the “cosmic“ genre. You can decide for yourself if its good or bad. Regardless, everyone was excited.

Oh, to be honest I belonged to the latter group – hey, I am a Quasar fan after all. Can you blame me?!

It became known that Mr. Captain America himself, Ed Brubaker, was actually a fan of the Human Rocket. In an interview with Newsarama, Ed had this to say:

“Oh yeah, I was on Nova from, like, Issue #1. That was really book as a kid, I think. When I first discovered that book when I was a kid, I was so excited. Even in the early ’70s, it was rare that you could get in at the beginning of a series.

And you know, he’s not in the book as much as I would have liked him to be because he’s involved in so many other things. He’s in his own series and other comics.

So he’s got a really significant role in the first arc, but after that, it’s going to depend on what they let me do.”

That was excellent news for Nova fans! I seem to remember Doug being particularly excited about Secret Avengers in our episodes of the United Front – Going Knowhere Podcast.

Our boy was finally going to get a quality showing in a big time Marvel mainstream title – and an Avengers one to boot! Thousands and thousands of Marvel zombies would be first exposed to the likes of Rich and the Worldmind, not to mention the power that is the Nova Force!

Nova had just been placed on hiatus when the Secret Avengers announcement came – or close to it. This article isn’t going into specifics with the Nova monthly (that is for another article), but from our perspective Marvel knew what they had with Richard Rider and were trying their best to continue to “push” (promote) the hero of Annihilation. After all, Nova has been announced to be a member of the Super Hero Squad with season two, talk of a Nova movie, Nova being a part of the All Ages Marvel Adventures Super Heroes and more! Good times, ahead!

I think you can see where this is going.

I’m not going to rip apart the first arc of Secret Avengers (I’ll save it for the forums), though I am literally biting my lip, or fingers I suppose, to stop myself from doing so — because after reading Secret Avengers #4 I (we? everyone?) was just so darn disappointed.

Does Steve Rogers need another title to boost his credibility as being “the man” at Marvel? And at the expense (at least in my opinion) of a lesser selling, not as popular, recently canceled character who, right now, could use one hell of a push!

Cap is already in an abundance of titles, took Norman out in Siege (where was Pete?!), is head of the entire world, starring in two blockbuster movies, has been on CNN — on and on.

Marvel, you have a great opportunity with Secret Avengers to really promote and introduce a group of lesser known characters to a HUGE audience. SA tie-in, Vengeance of Moon Knight #10, sold out (Where the d’ast was Nova’s?)!

Let’s give these characters a little time of their own to shine. Let’s continue to build up the Marvel Universe. Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Deadpool, The Incredible Hulk, Iron-Man and why not: Ant-Man! Moon Knight! Nova! Heck, while we are at it – Quasar!

That’s all I’m saying.

Read More about The Cosmic Triune: Secret Avengers

Out Of The Chaos King Comes Order: Interview With Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente

This October the fate of all space and time will be decided when Chaos War begins written by Grek Pak and Fred Van Lente with art by Khoi Pham.

This five issue limited series described as “bigger than the Infinity Gauntlet” and “more cosmic than Annihilation” sees the re-formation of the God Squad, this time consisting of Hercules, Thor, Amadeus Cho, Sersi, Hellstorm, Venus, the cosmic heavy weights Galactus and the Silver Surfer, with the added support of the family of Hulks.

The foe they face may be the Universe’s most dangerous threat — ever. Mikaboshi, the demonic god of evil, wishes to wipe out existence using an army of enslaved space gods.

Cosmic Book News spoke with the writers behind Chaos War, Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, who discussed Hercules, Amadeus Cho, Thor, Mikaboshi the Chaos King, the cast of characters involved and a tease regarding the return of a certain fan favorite cosmic character…a Starlin original? Plus more.

CosmicBookNews: Can you tell us a bit about the Chaos King? With the Silver Surfer and Galactus involved, he must pose a pretty big threat, more so than we have seen of him as Mikaboshi? (Chaos King being Mikaboshi‘s true form finally revealed?) Galactus is said to be from before the Big Bang. Does the Chaos King predate that and is that why Galactus takes notice?

Fred Van Lente: Yes, you are correct – According to Japanese mythology, Amatsu-Mikaboshi is the Void that pre-dated all existence. All existence, even the universe that Galactus originates from. In his original, Terran form, he laid waste to Olympus and killed Zeus in the ARES mini-series.

Since then, and his departure from Earth in Secret Invasion, he has taken over the realm of the Skrull gods and has been engorging himself on the pantheons of other alien races – including the Shi’ar, as seen in Assault on New Olympus. So he is more powerful than ever before – arguably, he’s the most dire threat the Marvel Universe has ever faced.

Greg Pak:  Most supervillains want to rule the world, or maybe the universe.  Not return all existence to the chaos and darkness that existed before creation itself.  The Chaos King is a whole new kind of threat.

Will the Lion Of Olympus have changed since we last saw him? At times we see Herc with a beer in one hand and a girl in the other; will this responsibility of leading the heroes give us a “different” Herc?

FVL: Yes, he will be radically changed. But I don’t want to give away the ending of the current Heroic Age: Prince of Power mini-series to say exactly how.

GP: Let’s just say the entire universe will have to reassess its opinion of Herc.

The newly-crowned Prince of Power, Amadeus Cho, is shown still holding Hercules’ Mace. What part will he take in the coming drama? Will he go back to the “sidekick” role or has he come into his own as of late?

FVL: No, Amadeus is officially the new Prince of Power. When Herc returns he’ll either be demoted to playing second fiddle to Cho … or maybe he’ll be promoted…

In regards to Thor, seeing how he has also faced Mikaboshi, what will his role be? (Judging from the cover of issue one, he and Herc still need to settle their differences.)

FVL: Yes, and you’ll need to read Chaos War #1 to see just how those differences work themselves out. Thor is second only to Herc in being Chaos War’s major character. Big things are involved with him and I’m interested to see the reaction when they’re rolled out.

The family of Hulks will be wrapping their own cosmic battle up with Hiro-Kala in “Dark Son” when they find themselves involved in the Chaos War. Will we be seeing a lot of “Hulk Smashing?”

GP: Absolutely.  Who better than a family of Hulks to throw at a bunch of insane demons and gods?  The Hulks will be fighting the critical second front in the Chaos War against the kind of enemies only the strongest ones there are have a prayer of defeating. Get ready for some mind-bendingly Marvelicious abstract entity exploration as well as a wrenching emotional rollercoaster as the fight gets more personal and brutal than the Hulks ever anticipated.

Although the Chaos War involves the Gods, it also has a Cosmic flavor in that heavy-hitters like Galactus, the Silver Surfer and Sersi will be involved. Are there any other denizens of Marvel Cosmic coming into play along the way, and will this adventure have a mythical feel or a cosmic climate (ala Bob Layton’s recent Herc work)?

FVL: Why yes, several in fact that have not been announced yet – including one whose return cosmic fans have been clamoring for for some time.

GP:  Pip the Troll!  Kidding.  Although now that I think about it…

Can you elaborate at all on any of the other characters in the Marvel Universe that might be involved in the coming Chaos War? We can see members of the Fantastic Four are present, the Avengers and even the X-Men.

GP:  It’s a big, fat story that affects everyone.  Plenty of cameos and starring roles to go around.

Will Lord Chaos and Master Order be involved in this tale or any of the other Marvel abstracts? What about the Celestials or any of the other Eternals such as Ikaris or Makkari?  

GP:  At least one Marvel abstract plays a key role in the “Incredible Hulks” tie-in.  And Sersi plays a huge role on the new God Squad, which debuts in “Chaos War” #2.

What was your inspiration for this current God Squad story arc? Was this something planned from the beginning of Incredible Hercules or did it come about recently?

GP:  Fred and I have been planning this story from the beginning.  Many of the smaller details have shifted around as we’ve developed the tale and the exact timing of everything came together fairly recently, but this is the big massive crossover event we’ve been itching to write for ages.

That being said, it’s entirely accessible to brand new readers.  If you’re hungry for epic Marvel cosmic crossover craziness, we’re ready to heap your plate.

Any connection at all between this and ongoing Thanos Imperative, since some of the same characters are involved on a cosmic stage?

GP:  For fear of spoilers, our lips are sealed.

Thanks for your time. Looking forward to the Chaos War!

Chaos War #1 and #2 hit this October! Look for it!

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