Marvel plans to issue a special "Avengers" 100th anniversary issue this summer -- part of a limited series that's a vision of how the publisher's comics will look in 2061, a century after the Marvel Universe launched with "Fantastic Four" No. 1. (Marvel)Link
Marvel plans to issue a special "Fantastic Four" 100th anniversary issue this summer. (Marvel)Link
Marvel plans to issue a special "Guardians of the Galaxy" 100th anniversary issue this summer. (Marvel)Link
Marvel plans to issue a special "X-Men" 100th anniversary issue this summer. (Marvel)Link
Marvel plans to issue a special "Spider-Man" 100th anniversary issue this summer. (Marvel)Link
Marvel is sending some of its most famous characters into the future this summer.
The comics giant unveiled plans Saturday at Chicago’s C2E2 convention for a limited run of five 100th Anniversary Special issues of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “The Fantastic Four,” “The Avengers,” “The X-Men” and “Spider-Man.” The one-shot issues will arrive weekly in July, hypothesizing what shape the characters’ adventures will take in the year 2061.
“We thought that it would be a really fun idea to … almost treat these like time capsules from the future,” said Marvel editor Nick Lowe in an interview with Hero Complex. “We were talking about how we’d just been through a bunch of 50th anniversaries — we had the 50th anniversary of the Fantastic Four a few years ago, we had the 50th anniversary of the Avengers and the X-Men last year — we thought that would be a really idea to go after, a 100th anniversary thing.”
(Technically speaking, Marvel is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year — tracing its lineage back to Timely Comics’ founding in 1939. But the popular, superheroic Marvel Universe began with the 1961 release of “Fantastic Four” No. 1.)
In the “Guardians of the Galaxy” 100th anniversary issue, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, Groot and a female Star-Lord with green hair will join forces with original guardian Charlie-27 and an Iron Man (though the armor will be worn by someone other than Tony Stark, Lowe explains) to battle the Silver Galactus, a villain that takes shape after Galactus reabsorbs the Silver Surfer’s Power Cosmic.
To sate his all-consuming hunger, he sets his sights on the space station Knowhere, the Guardians’ home. The issue was written by Andy Lanning; art is by Gustavo Duarte, with a cover from David Lopez.
Meanwhile, the “Fantastic Four” 100th anniversary issue, written by James Stokoe (“Orc Stain”) with art and cover by Joanna Estep, sees the quartet re-emerge after a long disappearance during which they were presumed dead. Stokoe, too, wrote and completed the art and cover for “The Avengers” anniversary title, which sees Beta Ray Bill, Doctor Strange and Rogue holed up inside Stark Tower in Kuala Lumpur — which is, in fact, a large Iron Man suit holding a piece of Tony Stark’s brain — when Son of Mole Man hatches an explosive revenge scheme against the heroes.
The Mole Man, of course, was the villain in “The Fantastic Four” No. 1 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1961, and Lowe said that the anniversary writers were invited to weave inventive callbacks to Marvel history into their futuristic narratives.
“One of the hallmarks of Marvel comics is the living history,” Lowe said. “We don’t reboot here really. The Spider-Man that you’re reading in today’s comics is the same Spider-Man that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created in ‘Amazing Fantasy’ No. 15. Same goes for Fantastic Four. People may die and come back to life, it’s the same ongoing history.”
Peter Parker finds himself in extremely difficult circumstances (naturally) in the “Spider-Man” 100th anniversary issue, written by Sean Ryan with In-Hyuk Lee handling the art and cover. After trying and failing to destroy the Techno-Symbiote suit, Peter and the suit’s former owner, Eddie Brock, were kidnapped by the Kingpin, who then killed Eddie, leaving Peter to battle the villain and the technologically enhanced alien on his own.
Lee also completed the art and cover for the “X-Men” anniversary special, written by Jen Van Meter, which sees Cyclops transformed into a national hero who wins the office of the presidency. But the unexpected arrival of a comet brings disaster, and Scott Summers watches the country descend into chaos.
“What we asked the writers and artists to do is give us something different from what we’ve got now, to make sure that where we are is a very different place than where we are right now,” Lowe explained. “He’s pretty much one of the most hated mutants on the planet. What’s the opposite of that? That’s where President Cyclops sprung from. It’s another really different idea.”
Each of the titles stands alone, Lowe said, though they exist in a shared universe.
“There will be certain things that overlap from one to another but not in the same way as a crossover — the story doesn’t begin in ‘The Fantastic Four’ [issue] and then continue into the’ X-Men’ one and so on. These are all individual stories, but there will be little connective tissue in the bits in the background that you’ll see.”
When selecting the writers and artists for the anniversary project, Lowe said Marvel was aiming for an eclectic mix of veterans and new voices.
“Jen Van Meter, she’s written some incredible Marvel comics, some Spider-Man and Black Cat stuff,” Lowe said. “Robin Firth, she’s written a bunch of Marvel comics, she’s one of the key collaborators on the ‘Dark Tower’ books for us. We wanted to see what she would do with the more superheroic stuff… Andy Lanning was one of the architects behind the modern Guardians of the Galaxy team that is starring in this huge movie coming up.
“Then we’ve got a bunch of new talent… Sean Ryan, we’re really impressed with what he does and the artist In-Hyuk Lee, he has an incredible digitally painted style. We wanted to give that a place to shine and this seemed like a perfect place, it just looked so new and futuristic and really cool.”
Story lines aside, looking ahead to 2061, does Lowe believe that comics will still be printed on paper? Possibly…
“It will be magic paper that will give you your own ideas when you touch it,” he joked.
— Gina McIntyre | @LATHeroComplex