In October 2012 Marvel relaunched several of its ongoing series with #1 issues and debuted several new titles. This move was in response to the events stemming from its latest event: AVX. The relaunched titles go under the Marvel Now! banner. This is described as shaking up of the Marvel Universe after the conclusion of the AVX (Avengers Vs X-men) event. Longtime Marvel fans know all too well about the shifts and shake ups in the Marvel U. look at the outcome of the Civil War, Secret Invasion, Siege, and the awful Fear Itself. This one on the other hand, lived up to the hype, as we get not only more mutants on the Avengers team, but we also got the A +X, which paired an Avenger with an X-Man. In all, the Marvel Now consists of 42 books, including one-shots and limited series. When we put this under the microscope, what we find comes up woefully short.
As pointed out, there are 42 books in the Marvel Now!, and after all are examined, we find only 13 titles that feature black heroes. If we eliminate repeat heroes, we come up with 5 new heroes, or at least heroes that have been dusted off and put back into use. As always, we included the list or titles that include the aforementioned heroes. The 13 titles represent 18 Black Heroes, but of the 18, only 3 are new or at least kind of new, and 3 are renamed. 6 of the 18 are women, which is really a great thing, considering the fact that the sisters are rarely used (unless you are Storm ). Of the remaining 12 men, we have 2 new characters and of the 12 men we have 3 characters that are considered a pleasant surprise.
AVX is a sore subject for ALL black hero fans because it represented not only the end of the Black Panther and Storm’s marriage, but we also saw Wakanda devastated by Namor. These two things were almost enough to drive away many fans of that king and his kingdom. As much as I loved Shadowland, I hated to see the once proud Panther in Hell’s Kitchen. It was hard coming to grips with that, but the dissolution of his marriage to Storm was heartbreaking. In the Marvel Now! we see a renewed T’Challa, now with wisdom and knowledge of every Black Panther, and leading the Illuminati (now that’s a surprise). The book (New Avengers) is one of the bright spots, along with a new Avengers line-up that includes a new Captain Universe, who is a black female! If you haven’t noticed yet, “shaking up the Marvel Universe” is synonymous with, “do something to/with the Avengers”, and the AVX event did just that, giving us 16 out of the 42 Marvel Now! titles, compared to 8 X-Men related titles. We do get an all-female X-woman squad, led by Storm no less, but sadly she appears in four of the eight X-Men related titles that made the Marvel Now!, and only one out of the eight books has other black mutants not named, “Storm”, and those characters are sparsely used. Also notable is David Alleyn, once known as Prodigy, to the new Young Avengers title.
This relaunch would be even more exciting if the Patriot was still on the team. Hopefully the Patriot will reappear somewhere else, but let’s not hold our breath. We also have the new mutant named Christopher Muse, who made his appearance in the All New X-Men title before moving to Uncanny X-men as a part of the regular cast. Christopher is one of the mutants who emerged after the AVX event.
Speaking of marvel events and shake ups, near the conclusion of the Fear Itself event, we were introduced to Marcus Johnson, now going by his “real” name, Nick Fry Jr.Well Mr. Fury Jr., along with our man James “Rhodey” Rhodes, now piloting an upgraded version of the original Norman Osborn armor design and also calling himself “Iron Patriot”, are now members of one of the many Avengers teams (the Secret Avengers) while on another Avengers roster we get Eden Fesi; now going by Manifold; the mutant Sunspot, who comes up to the big leagues from his longtime tenure with the New Mutants and NightMask.
All these are very good, but the best was/is saved for yet another Avengers title. While the other Avengers teams are caught up in the impending Infinity event, a more down to earth, “street-level” team of heroes, bearing the title Mighty Avengers will hit the scene. This new Avengers squad will be led by none other than Luke Cage, and besides black hero the Falcon, who himself did not go on the outer space adventure with the main Avengers squad, we have the reemergence of the Blue Marvel, Power Man, and Monica Rambeau, now named Spectrum.
This team has been said to have been assembled with the late Dwayne McDuffie in mind, due to the overall diversity of the team, (it has a nice mix of women and hispanics), and sports one of the largest groups of Black Heroes since the Avengers Resistance in 2008. This title may be the saving grace for black heroes fans who may not get into the cosmic adventures going on in the other books. The team will be earth-bound, and will handle the threats facing the planet. To round things off we have the always adorable Misty Knight! Misty appears in another all-female ensemble book with some of the more exotic characters of the Marvel universe such as Dani Moonstar, Warrior Woman, and Valkyrie. It is always good to see Misty, and it is not lost on us that she is the second most recognizable black female heroine behind Storm. Marvel seems intent to not let her fade into the sunset, which is fine by us!
Now for the sad news; there is not one solo title featuring a black hero. I mean, characters like Nick Fury Jr. and the Blue Marvel had limited series, and even the Iron Patriot, called Iron Man 2.0 during that time, had a twelve issue run.
Or for that matter, as happy as I am to see Luke Cage in action, wouldn’t this have been the perfect time to let him get some solo time in? Here is a little known fact: there is only ONE solo title in the marvel universe that features a Black Hero; that distinction goes to Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spiderman. So what gives? Who wouldn’t have liked to seen T’Challa and Shuri reunited in action? As happy as I am to see Luke Cage and the new Power Man on a team together, why not team them up for some adventures? Or team him up with the Blue Marvel? Since all-female groups are becoming the norm, why not team Storm, Misty Knight, and Spectrum together? Maybe there is a fear that the books won’t be as successful with other audiences. Then why not use a character like Blade, whose successful movie franchises would surely translate into comic book fans. Or why not bring back some of the solo titles from the 90’s? Both Night Thrasher and Deathlok had successful runs in the 90’s, and with comic book movies being as popular as they are now, these two characters would make nice additions. Even better, with his inclusion in the upcoming X-men movie, why not give Bishop another chance at a solo series? He had a 16 issue run as well as a few limited series, and even shared a title with Gambit. Wouldn’t his book be timely? Since we are mentioning mutants, isn’t it time to give Storm her own series? I mean, she is in almost every X-Men book, why not put her in her own? As popular as she is, couldn’t she at least get six issues?
Or since we are seeing more women in comics, why not give Misty her long overdue solo series? The fact that she has never appeared in is forever lost on me. Don’t get me wrong; I loved Daughters of the Dragon/Heroes for Hire/Villains for Hire, but can I get Misty by herself, taking names and kicking butt? Speaking of films; with Falcon making his big screen debut, isn’t it time to revamp him and put him in action on his own? There has not been a Falcon solo title since the 80’s. I think the brother deserves some comeuppance! His long career in service to the marvel universe should have already rewarded him with another solo adventure.
At the end of the Brian Bendis run on the New Avengers we had Luke Cage walking away saying he would bring back Heroes for Hire, but do it differently. Now was Luke just blowing smoke, or was Bendis and Marvel just blowing smoke at us? Instead of Marvel Now!, black heroes fans are asking Marvel How! (long do we have to suffer with this BS?)
Here is the list of books featuring black heroes:
Ultimate Comics Spiderman– Miles Morales,
Young Avengers– David “Prodigy” Alleyne
Amazing X-Men– Storm
All New X-Men– Christopher Muse