Tag Archives: #Comic News

Avengers VS X-Men Launches In New York – And All Over The World!

Original post: http://geek-news.mtv.com/2012/04/04/avengers-vs-x-men-launch-midetown-comics/

 

The most surprising thing about Marvel Comics’ launch of Avengers VS X-Men in New York City? Given the fighting focus of the book, you’d expect things to be coming to blows… But nope, this wasn’t a Civil War, it was more like a Civil… Thing that was civil*.

For those of you not up to speed, Marvel’s mega-giant-humungo-Event would normally have gone on sale on Wednesday, April 4th – but due to an early shipping time, the Publisher was able to start parties all over the country (and even internationally) at 8pm on Tuesday, April 3rd. To spice things up a bit, they released Avengers and X-Men variant covers of the first issue, with stores having to choose a side before receiving one or the other

It’s a fun idea, of course, and part of the draw for fans to the event: who are you with, The Avengers, or The X-Men? But maybe part of the reason the Midtown Comics launch – ostensibly the flagship launch for Marvel Comics – was so subdued: because they own three stores, Midtown was able to toe the line, and sell both variant covers. And in fact, a rough poll of the crowd showed that they were evenly split, too, with most people falling on the side of just being excited.

The crowd at New York’s Midtown Comics stretched down the block at 9PM.

Don’t get me wrong: this wasn’t fans going through the paces, buying comics because they wanted to keep up with what was going on in Marvel’s superhero universe. The first fans showed up at Midtown at – no joke – 8am in the morning on Tuesday. And though it had only grown to an even dozen by 11am, according to one Midtown employee, by 5pm the crowd swelled to a capped-off amount of 200.

That’s the joy of having a big, reliable comic book shop like Midtown Comics, of course: if they build it, they will come. I don’t think I’ve attended a launch at Midtown that wasn’t packed to capacity quickly and efficiently. Littler comic book stores in non-metropolitan areas like New York have to do a lot more than post on Twitter and Facebook to motivate their base, and this might be what was missing. I kind of wanted to see an Avengers and X-Men themed bake-off, or some back alley fighting. Here, everybody was happily hanging out with their friends, and calmly waiting in line to pick up a copy of the book.

So sure, from the perspective of a reporter looking for something insane to happen I could hang this event recap on, I was sorely disappointed. But I was, really, the only one. Chatting with Midtown’s Thor Parker, he told me that they were briskly selling out of the book – a big question of course, as the 250,000+ copies “sold” of the first issue are actually sold to retailers, and still need to actually end up in the hands of fans – with most fans buying at least two copies. Parker also noted that the (totally freaking awesome) Skottie Young variant cover, featuring X-Men and Avengers babies duking it out, would probably be the first version to go.

Avengers VS X-Men for everybody!

Also a nice bonus for fans? Though John Romita Jr couldn’t make it to the signing at the last second, artist Andy Kubert brought a special gift to make up for the absence: a splash page from the EIGHTH issue of Avengers VS X-Men, pencilled by Kubert, which doesn’t hit comic book stands until July. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it looks like a few months day the road this book doesn’t turn into “Avengers Love X-Men” if you get my drift.

And for Marvel’s Arune Singh, who I also chatted with briefly, they couldn’t have been happier with the excitement from fans, and the reactions to those who have actually read the book. He, and the rest of the marketing team basically had nothing to do but hang out and enjoy the signing, while Midtown took care of the rest. From Ryan Penagos – Agent M if you’re nasty – happily snapping pictures of AvX exclusive hats, to new host of Marvel’s The Watcher Lorraine Cink excitedly chatting with the signing crew of Kubert, as well as Editors Nick Lowe, Tom Breevort, and Axel Alonso, the Marvel crew was in full force, but, like the fans, being surprisingly confident, calm, and composed. Heck, they even ordered twenty-five pizzas for the fans waiting on line, which makes waiting since 8am worth it, right? RIGHT?

Marvel’s Lorraine Cink does her wrap-up speech!

If there’s a reason for all of this calmness, it’s that Marvel doesn’t have a whole lot to worry about with Avengers VS X-Men. The first issue is a solid, fun kick-off to an event, with the fireworks sure to come in the next few issues (and if the issue eight splash is any indication, will continue for several issues beyond that). And the Infinite Comic – a digital experiment by writer Mark Waid, and artist Stuart Immonen – is stellar. If Marvel wants to get more readers back to their comics, Infinite Comics, not motion comics (or even the DVD bonus feature AR app) is the way to do just that.

Midtown, as I’ve mentioned, is always efficient in their events, keeping things moving briskly along, and being pleasant to the fans. One of the big changes they implemented this time around? Pre-selling the comic, so fans just had to bring vouchers in, pick up their books, get ‘em signed, and be on their way to reading the book. That, if anything, is a great metaphor for what Marvel has going on for AvX: they’ve pre-sold the book. You know what the concept is from the title, you know as a comic book fan that you’re going to be into it, and what they deliver is fun.

Agent M snags pics of the exclusive AvX hats.

Does it need to deliver month after month, and not end up in some sort of deep continuity hole like most events seem to do these days? Oh, sure. But as long as the Avengers keep punching the X-Men, we have a feeling fans reactions will keep the fighting on the inside of the book, rather than the outside.


Avengers vs. X-Men Launch Party

What’s up everyone, your nerdy fanboy Austin here with an update for Avengers vs. X-Men. Here’s a complete list of retailers participating in the massive and monumental event that is AvX. This right here is the link to a pdf file that Marvel.com released yesterday giving you guys the address and the name of the comic shop that will have the event: http://i.annihil.us/u/prod/marvel/i/pdf/AvXEventTable_complete.pdf

 


Marvel Reports First-Day Sell Out for AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #0

 

Marvel announced Wednesday that Avengers vs. X-Men #0 has sold out at Diamond on its first day of release, potentially signaling similar news to come over the next few months during the course of the 12-part, biweekly event series.

 

As usual, a sell out at the distributor level means that copies may very well still be available on store shelves.

“Having Avengers VS. X-Men #0 sell out the same day the book goes on sale is phenomenal,” said Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso in a statement. “The excitement level around this event has been monumental, and now fans can finally experience the story that we’ve been waiting years to tell.”


WHEN TWO TRIBES GO TO WAR: “AVX” – THE TELEPATHIC ADVANTAGE?

Imagine facing an enemy you couldn’t lie to; an enemy who knows exactly what you’re thinking and can also manipulate your thoughts. That’s what you’re up against when you confront the mutants of Marvel Comics’ X-Men, whose ranks include some of the most powerful telepaths in the world. Confronting daunting challenges is the precise reason the Avengers, another premier Marvel super team, came together in the first place, and this April that’s just what they’ll do as they take on the X-Men in a battle to decide how best to save Earth from the threat of the destructive cosmic entity known as the Phoenix.

That battle will be chronicled in “Avengers Vs. X-Men” a 12-issue miniseries by an all-star team of Marvel creators. In today’s edition of WHEN TWO TRIBES GO TO WAR, CBR’s in-depth look at “AvX,” we take a look at the X-Men’s seemingly telepathic advantage over the Avengers. What are the X-Men’s telepaths capable of? What kind of strategic advantage do they give the X-Men leader, Cyclops? And how will the Avengers work around and fight back against the mental might of their adversaries? Helping us answer these questions and more are Senior Editor Nick Lowe who’s in charge of the X-Titles, and Senior Vice President of Publishing and Executive Editor Tom Brevoortwhose office oversees the Avengers titles.

Because we can read your minds, we know that are some of you who are just joining us. In that case, welcome! Feel free to get caught up on our previous installments where we look at the role team loyalties will play in “AvX,” the conflict’s four “generals,” and the “heavy artillery” members of the X-Men and the Avengers.

Tom Brevoort: The Avengers have had a few over the years, characters such as Moondragon — but telepathy really hasn’t been a regular part of their arsenal. As for the X-side, I think that comes from two interconnected things: Jean Grey and her status as not only a founding X-Man but as the lynchpin of probably the book’s best-remembered storyline, and the fact that Chris Claremont was a heavy SF reader during a period where numerous authors were exploring the idea of telepathic and telekinetic powers and how they might plausibly work within a SF context. Chris adapted, adopted and improved on a number of those ideas as he wrote “Uncanny X-Men.”

With mind-controlling mutants like Emma Frost on their side, will the X-Men have an advantage in “AvX?”

Nick Lowe: Let’s read between the lines, here. It’s because the X-Men are the best.

Telepathy in its most basic form is the power to send and receive thoughts, which is a useful communication tool with a number of strategic uses in battle. What kind of advantage does it give Cyclops and other characters in terms of communication and coordinating troop movements?

Lowe: It certainly doesn’t hurt. Cap and the Avengers know going in that the X-Men have this advantage, so you’ve got to think they’ve got some defensive planning in place to keep Emma from just shutting their brains down. And the coordination helps, but you have to remember how training centered Cyclops is. You can’t go more than an issue of X-Men back in the day without Cyclops drilling his team in the Danger Room and that hasn’t changed. He’s always training his crews and they operate like well oiled machines. No one does as much teamwork as the X-Men (heck they have well-known moves like the fastball special).

Telepathy also allows a person to reads the thoughts of others, which makes it a useful to gather intelligence. Of course, many mutants have a personal code that keeps them from reading the thoughts of others. How would a conflict like “AvX” affect that code? Are there some heroes that won’t have qualms about reading the thoughts of Avengers once things heat up and get tough?

Brevoort: I think it depends entirely on the individual character. My expectation is that the Avengers and the X-Men both are going to comport themselves as heroes, no differently than they’ve ever done. That said; the stakes they’re fighting for are so important that they will push our heroes to the wall in terms of what they will and will not do. And certainly some of the X-telepaths have used situational ethics to guide their actions in the past. Of course, keep in mind that Tony Stark has a lot of experience in building tech to protect himself from telepathic intrusions or attacks.

Lowe: Tom is right (yeesh that felt weird coming out of my mouth) about how the X-Men are going to behave. They’re still heroes. And like I said before, Cap would have to be an idiot not to have something in place to defend his team from this on some level. And he’s no idiot.

Powerful telepaths have another morally gray ability, the ability to erase and control minds. This begs the question, when things get tough will there be some X-Men tempted to use this ability? Or is this seen as a last ditch “nuclear option?”

Lowe: This would not be something Cyclops would be down with unless there were no other option and even then — but, and sorry to repeat again, the Avengers need to have some sort of plan for this.

Brevoort: Again, I wouldn’t think this would be an easily-used option if it were ever seriously considered at all. The X-Men haven’t done this sort of thing even to their most ruthless foes, so I don’t think they’d be inclined to do it to guys they know are heroes but whom they happen to be in contention with.

We’ve talked a bit about how effective an ability telepathy is in general, so let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about how effective it is against the Avengers in particular. Are there any Avengers who have a natural immunity to telepathic and psionic powers?

Brevoort: Iron Man’s armor has been proofed against telepathic attacks in the past. The Vision’s android mind is such that it’s anybody’s guess whether a telepathic strike would do him any harm. A telepathic attack on the Red Hulk is likely to just make him angrier and more savage, so if it didn’t immediately take him down it would likely make things worse. There are a few other examples, but they’re mostly the exceptions — for the most part the Avengers are no more protected from a telepathic assault than anyone else would be.

How aware are the Avengers in general of the strategic applications of telepathy? Can we assume that leaders like Captain America are aware of what telepaths can do and are ready and able to work around them?

Brevoort: I’d say it’s a certainty — especially since there are present and former X-Men among the Avengers’ ranks, who would be likely to disclose that information even if Cap wasn’t already aware of it.

Lowe: They definitely know it.

The X-Men may have an advantage in the area of mental powers, but the Avengers have three of the greatest scientific minds on the planet in Tony Stark, T’Challa, and Hank Pym. How easy would it be for these guys to whip up something that makes them and their team mates resistant to telepathic powers?

Brevoort: Given that we’ve seen Tony at least do this before in the past, I’d say it’d be relatively easy. Doesn’t mean that it’ll work, though, or be 100% proof against a determined X-Man digging down deep and fighting for a legitimate cause.

Lowe: It’s not going to really matter in the end as the X-Men are far superior in every way.


An Interesting Direction of Comic Romance

To be honest, a scene involving two comic book characters who are in a long-standing, committed relationship kissing is not interesting. The kiss getting nearly a full page devoted to it is nothing special, especially when one considers the dozens of comic covers published every year depicting the same act. It’s something that, unless shamefully gratuitous, I never think twice about while reading my stack of comics every Wednesday. That is — if the couple is straight.

Wiccan and Hulking, two teenage male characters who have been in a relationship since their 2005 debut inAllan Heinberg and Jim Cheung’s “Young Avengers,” got the full-page smooch-stravaganza treatment in last week’s “Avengers: The Children’s Crusade” #9. They’re a couple, they’re in love, they kissed. The thought that the lip lock might be newsworthy didn’t occur to me at all until I saw somewhere in the labyrinth of the internet that it was their first kiss. Marvel’s been progressive in depicting their other two prominent gay couples (Shatterstar and RIctor, Northstar and Kyle). They are affectionate when the story calls for it, and kiss each other in-between action plot points.

But Wiccan and Hulkling, perhaps due to being published infrequently, didn’t kiss until last Wednesday. I’m certain that the delay wasn’t Marvel-mandated, as evidenced by the publisher’s full support of gay characters in other books. I know it wasn’t due to the creators having bigoted heebie jeebies, as writer Allan Heinberg is himself gay and has gone above and beyond to portray gay characters with the same amount of respect as their straight teammates.

So what’s the story here? Wiccan and Hulkling finally kissed, just like other couples. The way the world should work, the way I believe it is headed, and possibly even the way younger members of the LGBT community perceive it, this kiss means nothing more than what it is: it’s a kiss. But as someone who lives in the overlapping part of the “Gay Person” and “Comic Book Fan” Venn diagram (and also as someone who loves talking about themselves), I feel a need to talk about where my brain goes when I see gay characters be affectionate.

When I see a gay couple kiss in comics, it should read the same as Clark kissing Lois. But it doesn’t, because the society we live in has made love a politically-charged issue. When I see a gay couple kiss in a superhero comic book, I wonder if it’s going to get protested. I wonder if the comic is going to get tons of hate mail. I become hyper-critical of the kiss and put way too much thought into whether or not they are characters or caricatures. I wonder if there were meetings with executives in stiff suits, discussing how big the panel should be and how advertisers would react. I wonder if anyone on the creative team felt awkward about drawing, inking, coloring or lettering a page showing a couple of dudes expressing their love for each other. My sexuality has been politicized to the point where I can’t read a kiss between two fictional characters without thinking every insane thing I just listed. And yes, I think all the things I think are insane, because Marvel and the creators have given me no reason to doubt their sincerity. But I’ve seen bigotry on television, in comic book letters pages and in my own life. Even though the comic book industry has been incredibly supportive of the LGBT community and has made great strides towards diversifying their characters, I still let the words of the people currently vying for the Republican nomination spoil what should be a celebratory, progressive moment.

I’m glad that Hulkling and Wiccan kissed. I’m glad that comic books are now regularly depicting diversity. It’s important to know that the gender of the kissers should not be news. It’s two characters kissing, and that’s awesome (as long as you think those two characters are right for each other, like Kitty Pryde and Iceman — yep, I went there). But also keep in mind that right now, in 2012, the world at large is not necessarily so accepting, and there are politicians running for president on the promise of nullifying same-sex marriages if elected. Comic books are leading the progressive charge right now and I just hope that the rest of the world can catch up. When I read my comics, I want to stop worrying about the underlying politics; I want to start being happy for the characters.


The 10 Best Alternate Realities: AGE OF APOCALYPSE & More

10.) COMMUNITY – ‘THE DARKEST TIMELINE’

NBC’s Community opens our list, with an alternate reality that has (thus far) only existed for about three minutes of TV time.

So what makes it worthy of inclusion? Well, it was a memorable three minutes, as Troy going downstairs to get pizza in this past fall’s season three episode “Remedial Chaos Theory” proved to be much more fateful than you might think.

A chain reaction led to what Abed would later dub the “darkest, most terrible timeline” of the several alternate realities presented in that episode — Pierce is dead, Annie is in a mental institution, Shirley is a drunk, Jeff lost his arm, Troy lost his larynx, and Britta… has a blue streak in her hair.

It was funny (and surprisingly high-minded for a network sitcom), but its true influence is in what came later: What was essentially a throwaway gag became a rallying cry for fans and press when the show was placed on an indefinite hiatus this past November. Countless observers concluded the news must signify that we are indeed living in the “darkest timeline,” and rabid viewers applying felt goatees to their Twitter avatars (and sometimes, their own visages) in a sign of solidarity and protest.

 

9.) MUTANT X

How do you get Havok out of the shadow of his big brother Cyclops? Move him to his own reality of course!

From 1999-2001, Havok was the leader of the premiere super hero team of mutants, albeit on an alternate Earth. In a comic written by Howard Mackie (who is currently seeing a resurgence in DC’s New 52), Alex Summers from Earth 616, the main Marvel Universe, nearly died, at precisely the same moment as Alex Summers from Earth 1298 was shot and killed. Our Havok’s spirit went into theirs and helped him survive (yay comics!) and found himself as the leader of that world’s mutant heroes after the X-Men were killed/made into vampires, dubbed “The Six.”

Storm was a vampire, The Beast was The Brute, a frog/lizard/demon instead of an ape/cat person, Warren Worthington III breathed fire, and Havok was married to Madelyne Pryor, even having their own kid! Oh, she was also crazy and killed Spider-Man’s clone and Green Goblin and possessed the Beyonder. Oh clones, you so cray.

What really made this series awesome, however, was that Havok was the full-on leader of the premiere hero team in this universe. He got to be the team leader over a Captain America. He got to show the world what he could do, taking down universal level threats ultimately nearly alone. This series showed just what Havok could do without Scott Summers looking over his shoulder, and for fans of the character, it was fantastic.

Unfortunately there’s no real hope of going back to the Mutant X earth. But those issues, should you track them down, are full of a lot of fun, and a lot of straight up nuts, ideas and interpretations of the Marvel Universe’s classics.

 

8.) FRINGE – ‘OVER THERE’

The Fringe Division of the FBI examines events and crimes that happen on the fringe of the science we all know. Science fiction becomes science fact as the team tries to make sense of the nonsensical and explain the unexplainable.

The Fringe Division of the FBI “Over There” is a high-level branch controlled directly by the Department of Defense and is alternately respected and feared, and is the frontline in a coming war with the reality that, they are convinced, is slowly destroying them.

That’s the surprising real plot to the Fox science fiction seriesFringe, which is centered on the concept of alternate realities, keystones, cause-and-effect, and just how wrong things can go because of simple decisions. Since introducing the idea of the alternate world known just as “Over There” (not to mention such wonderful names for doppelgängers as “Fauxlivia” for Olivia and “Walternate” for Walter’s alternate), things have gotten even crazier. Now we have a new 3rd reality that has its own fourth “over there.”

Fringe doesn’t only borrow alternate realities from comics (amongst other sci-fi/fantasy in other mediums of course). A race of bald beings sworn to only watch the major events and players throughout time known as Observers take in everything happening in all these realities… and step in to help our heroes, breaking their vow, from time to time. Sound familiar, Marvel fans?

Regardless, “Over There” in Fringe is one of the coolest alternate universes around for one simple reason: copious amounts of zeppelins.

 

7.) SUPERMAN: RED SON

Truth, justice — in Soviet Russia.

The 2003 miniseries Superman: Red Son presented one of the simplest, yet most engaging high concepts in comic book history: What if Superman, long a symbol of American pride, was raised in the Soviet Union instead of a farm in Kansas?

Writer Mark Millar — the man behind Wanted and Kick-Ass — was joined by artists Dave Johnson and Kilian Plunkett for the story, which replaced the Man of Steel’s trademark “S” shield with a hammer and sickle, and incorporated bits of real history along with the superhero fantasy.

Red SonBatman & Dracula: Red Reign) and a world where Superman never made it to Earth (JLA: The Nail).

 

6.) BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER – ‘DOPPELGANGLAND’

You know what they say, “be careful what you wish for.” Unfortunately Cordelia didn’t think that one through too much on this Season 3 episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fortunately, her foolish word choice created one of the best alternate timelines ever. It created the timeline where Willow is a Vampire, and Vampire Willow was so awesome she got her own focused episode, Doppelgangland.

Thanks to Vampire Willow, we got lines like “Bored now…” and “I think I’m kinda gay!” (significant because Willow does, in fact, figure out that she’s gay later in the series). We also saw Willow come out of her shell, and cemented Anya’s role in the scooby gang significantly via this pair of episodes.

 

5.) EARTH 3 (CRIME SYNDICATE)

On Earth 3, everything is backwards. Alexander Luthor is the greatest (only) hero in the world. Characters that look familiar are certainly not the people you expect them to be. Superman becomes the ruthless killer Ultraman. Batman is Owlman, the brilliant strategist who uses his skill to help his team rule over all. Power Ring, Johnny Quick, Superwoman and more doppelgängers populate this world, and as the Crime Syndicate of America are the world’s greatest villains.

Earth 3 is great for the other ultimate power fantasy: if you had ultimate power and no conscience, what could you do? Seeing evil versions of our favorite heroes (at least in doses) is always fun, and has led to some truly classic stories by the likes of Grant Morrison and Dwayne McDuffie.

Will an Earth 3 and CSA exist in some form in the New 52 multiverse? The question is really just “when” not “if.” Of course, with the Court of Owls and a “Talon” running around in the New 52 Earth, we could be seeing some of those old ideas leaking in already in an all-new way.

 

4.) AGE OF APOCALYPSE

Legion thought he knew the best way to make his father, Professor Xavier, proud — traveling back in time and killing the megalomaniacal mutant Magneto.

Only problem is, he actually ended up killing Professor X himself, meaning he never founded the X-Men — and the world itself greatly suffered in it.

Part of a proud line of dystopian futures in the Marvel Universe, the world of “Age of Apocalypse” was grim, with the ancient mutant Apocalypse bending much of the world to his whim. Magneto actually ended up founding the X-Men in this timeline, who struggled to fight the good fight against seemingly insurmountable odds.

The Age of Apocalypse took over all of Marvel’s X-titles for four months in 1995, with each getting a new title and new numbering before reverting back to their old positions at the conclusion of the story.

That alone makes it one of the most sweeping alternate realities in comic book history, but it’s also proven to endure, with several follow-up series in recent years leading to a new ongoing title set in the timeline, Age of Apocalypse, that debuted this week.

 

3.) STAR TREK – ‘MIRROR MIRROR’

The “Mirror Mirror” episode of Star Trek laid down a lot of the ground rules for parallel universes in pop culture, way back in 1967.

Thanks to a malfunctioning transporter, the Enterprise crew find themselves on a dark “mirror” world, where they encounter much more sinister versions of themselves.

Beyond being one of the most fondly remembered episodes of one of the most revered science-fiction franchises of all time, this episode gave the world a great gift: Mirror Spock’s goatee, as the facial hair has since become a visual shorthand that “goatee = evil twin,” parodied in “Wayne’s World,” Community and much more.

 

2.) EARTH 2

Yes, a brand new Earth 2 is on the way, but the concept of Earth 2 has been around for quite awhile. Paradoxically, Earth 2 has typically been populated by older heroes, or simply had superheroes around for a longer period of time than Earth 1 or New Earth (or New 52 Earth, perhaps).

The world of Earth 2 let all the Golden Age heroes continue their relevance despite the younger, hipper heroes like Hal Jordan, and Barry Allen. Home to the JSA and a second generation that had already aged as well, Earth 2 was a place where Batman could have a grown up child of his own, or even die for good.

The problem with the classic Earth 2 is it opened DC up to more Earths – an infinite number in fact. It required a Crisis to bring them all together and make sense of it all again. Now, Earth 2 is returning, but things on this version will be different, just like things are substantially different on the new “main” Earth. One thing’s for sure, it will still be a place to showcase events and drastic changes to characters readers know and love that could never happen in the “real” DCU, and isn’t that just what an alternate universe is for?

 

1.) ULTIMATE UNIVERSE

The Ultimate Universe started in 2000 as essentially the Marvel Universe readers were familiar with, but built from the ground up and for modern-day audiences: Peter Parker became Spider-Man due to genetic engineering instead of radioactivity, for instance, and the world was more diverse, with Nick Fury African American instead of Caucasian.

In the past 12 years, though, the Ultimate Universe has taken on a unique identity very much its own, due to two major events:Ultimatum and “The Death of Spider-Man.”

Ultimatum saw Magneto make the type of major strike he usually only threatens, with several major characters — including Professor X, Cyclops, Wolverine and Magneto himself — dying during the course of the series.

“Death of Spider-Man,” as the title implies, saw the death of the Ultimate Universe’s Peter Parker, and led the way for a new Spidey — the half-African American, half-Hispanic Miles Morales.

Now with a world that’s been rocked by devastation and a brand-new Spider-Man, the Ultimate Universe is less a streamlined version of the classic Marvel Universe and more of a place where anything can happen — readers know that the “real” Peter Parker won’t ever die for good for a variety of practical reasons, but in the Ultimate Universe, no shocking twist is off the table.

The Ultimate Universe has further earned its spot for being a breeding ground for new talents and a showcase for Marvel’s biggest names: Brian Michael Bendis was a relatively unknown back in 2000 when Ultimate Spider-Man launched, and now he’s one of the very biggest names in the industry. Mark Millar’s work on Ultimates and Ultimate X-Men helped bring him to superstardom. The Walking Dead‘s Robert Kirkman spent years on Ultimate X-Men. And that’s not to mention the likes of Brian K. Vaughan, Bryan Hitch, Jason Aaron, Mark Bagley, David Finch, Mike Carey, Stuart Immonen, Jonathan Hickman, Adam Kubert, Warren Ellis, Leinil Francis Yu, Jeph Loeb, Art Adams and many, many more.


The real C-Men.

If your perceptions of comic-book store owners were purely filtered through TV up until now, you might have the idea, that all of them are overweight, bearded, sarcastic jerks who exist only to put you down for how few members of the Green Lantern corps you can name. Then there’s Kevin Smith, who’s overweight, bearded…and fun to be around! See, already your prejudices should be melting away. And we expect even more of them to be shed when AMC’s Comic Book Menpremieres this Sunday.

Both a reality show about Smith’s Secret Stash store in New Jersey and a kind of Antiques Roadshow for the Comic-Con crowd, the hourlong unscripted drama features Walt Flanagan and Bryan Johnson, known to fans of the big-screen View Askweniverse as “Walt and Steve-Dave.” Walt now manages the store, while Bryan (who directed the Smith-produced Vulgar, and whose beard almost puts Alan Moore’s to shame) doesn’t actually work there, but, like many of Smith’s fictional characters, just hangs out anyway. Technical expert Ming Chen once ran a Clerks fansite and now works for the big guy officially, while Mike Zapcic is a walking encyclopedia of every back issue ever printed.

But it’s not all fun and comics; you’ll actually learn stuff too. Like maybe how much that figure of the Six Million Dollar Man‘s boss seen in The 40 Year-Old Virgin is actually worth. Or how those oft-overheard debates about Wolverine versus Hulk actually resolve themselves…