Marvel and Square Enix have a new Avengers Game

“The world will always need heroes…they just need to reassemble.”

– Unknown, Marvel and Square Enix’s trailer for their new game: The Avengers Project.

Announced today at 7:00am PST, Marvel and Square Enix will produce a new game, alongside development teams Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics. I have some speculations on the cast of heroes referenced in the trailer.

The trailer reference several of Marvel’s most remarkable heroes, with Hawkeye, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man called-out.

It is not clear if these heroes will reflect the current state of Marvel’s comics – with Kate Bishop actively using the Hawkeye name, Sam Wilson using the Captain America title with the round shield, and Amadeus Cho as the (Totally Awesome) Hulk.

It’s likely that the characters will reflect Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.

Polygon reported that unlike the film and television productions, Marvel retains the right to character casts like the X-Men and the Fantastic Four in game media. However, it is more likely Spider-man might appear alongside the Avengers that the Fantastic Four or X-Men.

The announcement trailer is available on the Marvel Entertainment YouTube Channel.

New Avengers #29 – Comic Review

With a close watch on Reed Richards, themes of loss and emptiness appear in a comic that builds toward Secret Wars. New Avengers #29 offers:

  • Large foreshadowing toward future Marvel events
  • Panel choices that show depth. References to Blankness throughout the artwork.
  • Themes of loss and emptiness built from Reed Richards actions and emotions combined with artwork choices.

This Review Contains Spoilers for New Avengers #29

White Gravestones, an empty, cube shaped prison cell, and an abandoned empty universe appear. Panel choices for the scenes where Doctor Doom explores the empty universe are effective.

It’s only a short panel, but Reed Richards and T’Challa standing in front of white gravestones, a field that expands far away in front of them with rows of perfect white blocks, strikes a bleak moment for the characters. Placing this panel at the start of the page sets the tone: sterile, pared down to colourless emptiness.

Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four appears often throughout this comic. In several long scenes, he answers the question: what chance have the heroes of Earth have against the multiverse collapsing from Incursions?.

Doctor Doom also makes a key appearance. Bleak and white images introduced into the artwork early in the comic, associated with Reed Richards, appear again, but associated with Doctor Doom.

The two men are rivals, and this artwork choice links them together.

Panel choices for the scenes containing Doctor Doom capture a sense of depth. Doom and the Molecule Man descend into the depths of an abandoned, blank, and empty universe In this scene. They search for the source of the Incursions.

Reed Richards is the main character of this comic. The most affecting scene flashes back to his last attempt to save the Marvel Universe, and the memory of almost losing his son Franklin Richards.

In front of the gravestones, Richards says “There’s not much else left” when he and the Black Panther count their remaining friends, and remember the fallen. Last issue advanced Black Panther’s story. This issue sheds light on what Mr. Fantastic has been planning, and what he has been with and planned for confronting the incursions.

Incursions are two parallel universes colliding. The point of the collision is Earth. Richards has tried many stratagems against this universal catastrophe. The price he paid to stop the universe tearing itself down through collisions plays out in New Avengers #30.

The most affecting scene depicts a recent event, where Richards and his son – Franklin Richards – attempt to create a new earth to escape to. The attempt did not work, and Franklin’s life was threatened in the process.

It’s possible that Franklin attempted to recruit his latent, reality changing powers, and create a new planet to safeguard everyone from the Incursions.

Franklin was gravely injured, possible almost killed, by the attempt. Richards shuts his eyes at the memory of almost losing his son. These four panels show Reeds’ descent into the blank, emotionally blank state he remains in during New Avengers #30.

Blank spaces culminate into themes of loss and emptiness. The blankness foreshadows the future of the Marvel Universe, and points toward Reed Richards emotional state. He is a super hero character at his lowest point, having faced the most untenable circumstances. What happens beyond this state is approaching in Secret Wars

There’s a culmination of the blankness shown in two instances throughout the comic on these final pages. By focusing on Reed Richards near loss of part of his family, and Doctor Doom descending into a blank, quiet universe, the themes of loss and emptiness become clear.

Early in the comic, a literal loss happens, when Tony Stark is gone from his cell. The blank, white square shape is empty of it’s contents.

Images like this in the artwork, combined with the gravestones, and the empty universe that Doctor Doom visits – where the white panels on the page create more empty squares – all add to the theme.

Adding this theme to the comic foreshadows approaching events in the Marvel Universe. Specifically, the Secret Wars, and what might follow afterwards.

Apart from this large foreshadowing of an approaching blank state for the Marvel Universe, associating the images with Reed Richards comment on what results from a character losing what he cares about: the Earth, his friends in the Illuminati and SHIELD, and his family. The Avengers and New Avengers comics have focused on what happens to heroes when the circumstances become untenable, and their values are pushed aside. Richards is facing the brink – the lowest point – now. What happens beyond that is approaching, but in Marvel comics being published in 2015.

New Avengers #29 is published by Marvel comics ($3.99 USD). Jonathan Hickman (W.) Kev Walker (P.) Kev Walker and Scott Hanna (I.) Frank Martin (C.) VC’s Joe Caramagna (L.) Cover artwork by G. Dell’Otto.

Avengers #40 – Comic Review

Black Panther has a long running legacy as King of Wakanda. In the Illuminati, he found both allies and enemies. This comic brings together a key set of plotlines running through Marvels’ Avengers comics.

This review contains spoilers for issue #40 of Avengers: key character interactions. Avengers #40 offers:

  • Thoughtful art choices and panel arrangements
  • Key character deveopments for the long running Avengers comics under the Marvel Now tag
  • Value placed in keeping principals despite circumstances becoming near-untennable

The blue lights of the Incursions events appear, and villains are appear with strong lettering and detail. Panels toward the end of the issue are thoughtful, and push the story forward to its conclusion.

Expansive blue light fills most of this issue. Blue colour has a special significance. It marks a type of incursion. Rapid atrophy of the multiverse brought on by two identical Earths colliding with each other are either red or blue coloured. Villains such as Proxima Midnight, Black Swan, and Thanos appear in this comic. Lettering and penciling artwork depicts these formidable characters in detail.

Strong artwork appears in the final sections of the comic.

Blackbolt speaks loudly. The force of his voice sends Namor flying off a platform. The art in the following scenes are emotional. Panels of equal size, dividing the page into a grid, break up the page. Each panel flashes between Namor and Black Panther, pushing everything forward to the final two pages.

Black Panther receives key character development. The endgame in chess from the beginning of the comic plays out toward the end.

There’s a legacy played out in this comic. A knife – Wakandan weaponry – is handed down from Black Panther, to Black Panther. The blade moves in and out of T’Challa’s (Black Panther himself) possession. Eventually, the knife gains a purpose more than legacy. T’Challa’s character grows in this issue. A plan he has put into place for a long time – a fragile plan that might fall down if variable do not work – comes together.

A quote from Doctor Doom on the endgame in chess placed in the opening pages plays out as T’Challa’s plan reaches its end. The final two pages fullfills the premise put into place by quoting Doom.

Other interesting character moments are Beast finding a new lesson to teach Cannonball and Sunspot – both former students, and Captain America growning weary with the Illuminati making plans around him and his team of SHIELD/Avengers heroes.

It’s not a spoiler to state the Three Kings (Namor, Black Bolt, and Black Panther) all play a key role in the comic’s finale. A comment is made: Characters who keep values in place, and those that don’t are contrasted.

Doctor Doom says “Once you know what your opponent is capable of, you can manipulate the board to engineer a successful endgame. A successful endgame is two strategies rolled into one. First, you show them what they guessed might have been coming. And then…you show them what they didn’t”.

T’challa showed Namor what was coming – a blade directed at him in revenge for the war Atlantis unleashed on Wakanda. What he did not know was coming, was a third king arriving. Black Bolt’s support of Black Panther against Namor tips the scales.

The plan Black Panther used, which Namor expected, was to trap the Cabal in a doomed universe, which was about to collide with the mainstream, Marvel Universe Earth (an incursion event). Through a contrast between Captain America and the Illuminati, the comic values perseverance, and keeping principals in place despite circumstances changing. Namor abandoned any code or ethics in an effort to save the Earth from repeated incursions. That plot line is brought down, to it’s eventual end.

Avengers #40 is published by Marvel comics ($4.99 USD). Jonathan Hickman (W.) Stefano Caselli (P.) Frank Martin (C.) VC’s Cory Petit (L.) Cover artwork by D. Keown and J. Keith.

Guardians of the Galaxy #21 – Comic Review

Tony Stark recommended that Flash Thompson – a soldier currently wearing the alien Venom symbiote – join the Guardians of the Galaxy. Possibly, Stark believed the alien should be sent back to space where it came from.

Guardians of the Galaxy #21 offers:

  • Good sequences of panels during action and conversation scenes
  • Different designs for the villain Venom
  • Themes of control, and compulsions

Venom’s character design changes several times during this comic, and is suitably alien. At one stage, the symbiote can compare to Big Chill, an alien from Ben Ten.

Art choices for the appearance of Venom in this comic book are suitably for science fiction. This is because the hood and cloak design Venom shows off when stalking Kree on the Planet Spartax looks alien.

It resembles Big Chill from the Cartoon Network animated series Ben Ten. Both Venom in this comic and Big Chill wrap moth-like wings around themselves, which creates a cloak and cowl look.

Later, fight scene between Gamora and Venom showcase good choices of background colour and inking. Lines drastically add to the flow of action, as the pencilling renders Gamora’s acrobatic skills in avoiding the Symbiotes’ flurry of strikes. Venom’s appearance shifts again here, becoming even more like an insect for a moment.

A sequence of panels where Star Lord describes his past, brief relationships shows Kitty Pryde becoming more concerned across a series of panels. Each panel captures her facial expression changing with each second she hears more of Peter Quill’s past “hookups…[and]…meaningless stuff.”

Venom and Flash Thompson conflict over control, while Star Lord and Kitty Pryde’s continue their new, long-distance relationship. Rage and violence dominate Venom’s behaviour, while Drax the Destroyer has quiet, but similarly violent moments.

Flash Thompson moans that he was not in control of the Symbiotic alien Venom. He can control it on Earth, he argues. Alongside this central conflict rests Peter Quill and Kitty Pryde’s new relationship, in which Peter struggles to control his behaviour.

Rage is common for him. Thompson screeches in angry, short outbursts. He violently dispatches with aliens who cross his path, or cannot give him what he wants: a way back to Earth.

Drax the Destroyer does not have more than a few lines in the comic book, but does stage a lengthy, violent battle with an alien beast.

Control appears often in this comic. Venom and Flash Thompson form the centre of this theme since Thompson constantly struggles for control with the alien symbiote . Parallel to their relationship is an altogether different one, between Star Lord and Kitty Pryde. Star Lord makes a point to Pryde that he is controlling his past reactions to high stress and changing.

The comic is largely about control. In Flash Thompson and Venom’s struggle, control between the symbiote and the host is a clear. The conflict represents the struggles with addictions and compulsions. Violence and drinking appear in the comic, with scenes in a bar on the planet Spartax. Placing Venom with the Guardians of the Galaxy – a team know for their disfuctions, as Star Lord states when speaking with Kitty Pryde – highlights struggles with control and compulsions.

Starlord does not wish to fall back into habits he relied on to relieve tension and stress in the past. Instead, he talks to Kitty.

Later, after the confrontation between Gamora and Venom, the Guardians discuss what to do with Thompson and the Symbiote. Star Lord says that like the Guardians, the Symbiote is “broken”.

It’s not completely clear, since calling something dysfunctional broken is not specific, however Star Lord has observed that Thompson’s weaknesses and compulsions are difficult to handle in day-to-day life, just like his own, which he discussed with Kitty Pryde earlier in the comic.

The Guardians believe they can help Thompson regain control by taking him back to Earth, where he has more friends and support, and feels safe.

A space-propaganda message about the dangers of heroes and Terrans from Earth. The message delivers a more chilling call to destroy Earth, rather than simply control or corral humans from spreading out into the wider-galaxy. Whether this conflict expands into a larger plot thread remains to be seen.

Guardians of the Galaxy #21 is published by Marvel comics ($3.99 USD). Brian Michael Bendis (W.) Valerio Schiti (A.) Jason Keith (C.) VC’s Cory Petit (L.) Cover artwork by Schiti and Ponsor.

Avengers and X-men: Axis #1 – Comic Review

In an new Marvel event, a powerful new villain created from violence, and the frankenstein-like combination of Professor X and the Red Skull, begins a dark plan. This is chapter one of Axis. The comic book offers:

  • The opening of a large scale event, with many Marvel Universe characters.
  • Artwork of an immensely powerful villain, against a grim background.
  • Insight into Tony Stark’s character.
  • Hatred themes – how the emotion is used, and reactions to it.

The Marvel Universe unites in a grim setting against a giant, red colossus: Red Onslaught

Large scale events bring the disparate fragments, individuals, and teams from the Marvel universe. Medusa, Invisible Woman, the X-men, Two teams of Avengers, the Vision, Captain America. There are a vast selection of bright colours from the many costumes worn by Marvel’s Super heroes.

They charge into battle – a thunderstorm rages over the rustic wood huts constructed to hold mutant prisoners. A grim scene. Even during brighter scnenes, a gloomy haze seems to cover sources of light.

These Avengers, X-men, and individual heroes unite against a giant, red, horned colossus calling itself “The Red Onslaught”. Imperial purple and scarlet armor plates; black keratinous horns curved inward; black octopus tentacles sprouting from its back.

With telepathy, the creature unleashes hateful thoughts, and forces them upon Marvel’s heroes. Iron Man is its first target

This entity is more creature than human. It’s a giant, at least the height of small office building, and was created when the Red Skull attempted to fight Magneto, and was killed by the magnetic villain.

Red Onslaught tortures and torments. With telepathy, it forces everyone around the globe to think hateful and violent thoughts. Not simply unleashing repressed anger, envy, or other vicious thoughts bubbling below the surface, Red Onslaught has telepathic power enough to inserting hate into those without any. Conflict is manufactured: a real nightmare.

The first target: Tony Stark. Iron man once had the weaknesses of all the Avengers, X-men, and other Marvel Universe individuals saved in a register of super heroes – his initiative files. These were thought lost – his memories deleted like data on a corrupt hard drive.

No malicious thoughts are buried too deep for Red Onslaught. Stark’s anguish is clear when he comes to understand that he has been subtly influenced by the Red Skull for some time now.

Through the powers of Wanda Maximoff, and the setting, the comic references the historical use of hatred and propaganda in World War Two. Onslaught argues Iron Man’s anxiety comes from a hateful place.

Hatred is the theme of this comic book – while it is the first in a large scale event, the opening issue makes a strong impression with this theme. What people do with hatred, and what hatred causes play out in this issue.

Historically, hatred’s role in World War two is highlighted:  a concentration camp setting appears, referencing the Nazi party, and the propaganda that created hate. The Red Skull is a historical villain, and the roots of the character in World War two are clear in the concentration camp setting. Further, scenes where Scarlet Witch is coerced into manipulating reality into a “nazi nightmare” show more historical references. It’s nothing close to the House of M story line, but stands out as a significant moment nonetheless.

Red Onslaughts breaks down Iron Man’s fears and anxiety, mocking Stark. Iron Man’s catalog of weaknesses was compiled from Stark’s hatred of his friends, not fear or anxiety, according to the creature.

Avengers and X-men: Axis #1 is published by Marvel Comics. Rick Remender (W.) Adam Kubert (A.) Laura Martin and Matt Milla (C.) Chris Eliopoulos (L.) Cover artwork by Cheung and Ponsor.

Action Comics #35, Wonder Woman #34, Captain America #25 – Short Comic Review

While I’m on vacation for three weeks, I’ve put together a short round up of comics published this week. I’ll return to full reviews on October 11, 2014.

Action Comics #35

The comic opens with Superman flying through space, and closes with Lois Lane starring directly out at the reader, saying “you don’t understand Superman at all”. The last few pages of the comic are narrated by Lane’s article. While Clark Kent might be disillusioned and depressed following his recent Doomsday infection – not to mention the guilt he is feeling after meeting with Lana Lang back in Smallville – Lane argues that Superman needs Earth and it’s people. Superman might appear to bring monsters and destruction, but he inspires us to be better. In turn, people inspire Superman to be a better, stronger, and faster hero.

It’s an interesting story. Superman is not up on a pedestal. He’s a part of the world, and an important part that keeps everything moving forward. Also worth seeing is a page where the heroes of Metropolis are seen helping the city recover from a recent attack by Brainiac. The young shapeshifter Baka returns. Supergirl saves small family from falling cement. Moreover, a page shows police officers and the Metropolis fire service working to save the city – a tribute to their service.

Wonder Woman #34

There’s some great ideas and insights into what it means to be a god in this issue. Wonder Woman also struggles with a tough question. She wants to be peaceful, however she has been selected as the new god of war, and her family is under attack from the powerful villain known as The First Born.

Hera says that human life, to her, is like watching television. The characters mean little to her, ultimately, and the episodes are relatively short. Zola is not impressed. Eris, god of chaos, laughs at Hera for her detached point of view. Meanwhile Wonder Woman, faces the question: stay true to her peaceful ideas, or use violence, and fight a war against the first born. This is escalated to the brink of no return, where she cannot reason or argue her enemy out of his war with the gods.

Hera makes a decisions. She shows restraint, and something a bit like kindness to Wonder Woman, Zola, Orion, and several other cast members. Hera, Eris, and Wonder Woman also have some of the best wordplay in the comic. There’s some interesting moments in the artwork, when monsters are transformed into crystal statues, and giant, elephant mechs charge into battle.

Captain America #25

The new Captain America arrives in this issue. Jet Black endures drama. Even her brother Ian questions her motives, her rejection of Arnim Zola, and her friendship with Captain America. The pain drawn on her face is powerfully executed when accusations are thrown at her.

Arnim Zola returns to dimension Z in a brilliant flash of white and blue light. Later, Captain America and the avengers enter into another situation of extreme pressure – a dinner party at Avengers Mansion with all of the current Avengers teams (except the Young Avengers and Secret Avengers) and X-factor. These scenes have several back-and-forth comedy moments between characters. Artwork here is highly colourful. Hyperion’s head to body proportion may need adjustment, however.

A full page artwork introduces the new Captain America.

An epilogue reintroduces an old threat – Hydra believe now is the time to start drawing plans against the new Captain America.

Superman Doomed #2, New Avengers #24, Saga #23 – Short Comic Review

While I’m on vacation for three weeks, I’ve put together a short round up of comics published this week. I’ll return to full reviews on October 11, 2014.

Superman Doomed #2

The trust Lana and Lois place in Superman is a little inspiring to see. Even more so when they reach out to Superman – telepathically – and urge him to realise that no matter what he looks like, no matter how horrifying he might look, he is still Superman on the inside.

Appearance has nothing to do with strength, integrity, and everything Superman stands for. That’s the value here.

These scenes show excellent us of composition and positive and negative space. Panels and thought bubbles are expertly placed across action scenes. Worldwide, Superman’s friends (Baka, Jimmy Olsen, Supergirl, and Krypto) are all fighting to stop the villain Brainiac.

New Avengers #24

This comic has a story tied down in months of story telling. The science fiction concept of parallel universes plays out in this comic. The most intelligent characters in the Marvel Universe decided they could prevent incursions – events where two parallel universes collide, and only one of the twins can survive.

Unfortunately, the gathered heroes have fallen out. King Namor has fled to Dr. Doom for help, while the Black Panther’s country is under attack.

The artwork is widely varied. Strong facial expressions convey distaste, rage, fear, and other dramatic emotion.

There is a great deal of Orange and Black used in this comic. The colours wash over panels and scenes, with more violent scenes appearing in orange, and black in use for moments of conversation, drawing attention to the white speech bubbles.

Saga #23

The Truth is boring. If anything is clear in the opening pages of Saga, truth is not enough. People need enticement to believe in something. Life is complicated, but it’s also very short. Another idea appears. A scene between Izabel and Alana highlights that life is too short for petty ego fights, or sacrificing an entire relationship just to win one argument.

There’s some brilliant plot changes here and the artwork is stunning. A cliffhanger ending is a bit chilling.

What becomes more and more clear in Saga is that despite story focus largely centred on Alana and Marko, parents of the narrator, Hazel, there’s no guarantee that these two characters will remain to the end.