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Variant Coverage: Comics News Round Up

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by on January 13, 2014

2014 appears to be the year of long-awaited comebacks in comics, as characters who fans have been waiting patiently for are finally ready to make their big comebacks. On top of that, old superhero names and concepts are getting a new lease on life.

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Starting with Marvel: This is maybe the least surprising return of the bunch, but it’s now official that Peter Parker is returning as the wall-crawler in April’s Amazing Spider-Man #1, by writer Dan Slott and artist Humberto Ramos. Considering that Peter Parker is essentially the mascot of the entire company, and he also happens to have a multi-million dollar movie opening up the following month, this was just a matter of when and not if. Funnily enough, fans really took to Doc Ock as the Superior Spider-Man in the interim, and the publisher has not officially cancelled The Superior Spider-Man. Can we possibly have two guys named Spidey? Three, if you count Miles Morales in the Ultimate Universe.

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Speaking of the Ultimate Universe, many had been assuming that it was coming to an end after a successful thirteen years. Well, not so fast: the Ultimate line is relaunching in April as well with three titles, Ultimate Spider-Man,  All New Ultimates, and FF (not Fantastic Four, just FF, as in “The Future Foundation”). Following the conclusion of the current line-wide Cataclysm event series, which has the heroes of the Ultimate universe fighting off the threat of the 616 Universe’s Galactus, Marvel has announced Ultimate Marvel NOW, which will see a line-wide relaunch with new titles from creators Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez, Joshua Hale Fialkov, and more. Bendis will continue to write Miles Morales in Ultimate Spider-Man, and in All New Ultimates, Miles Morales will lead a team of teenage super heroes in the Young Avengers vein. In talking to AP, writer Michael Fiffe said, “In All-New Ultimates, we’ll see this eclectic group of super-powered teens step up, live fast and maybe even die hard.” The team will also include Kitty Pryde, Bombshell, Cloak and Dagger, and a new Black Widow, who used to be Spider-Woman. Finally, there’s FF, which will be written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and which will consist of the four biggest brains in the Ultimate Universe; judging from the cover, it looks like Sue Storm, Iron Man, Machine Man and Falcon. “It’s a team of geniuses, four of the smartest people in the Ultimate universe,” Fiffe added.

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Also relaunching at Marvel this February is X-Force. Both Uncanny X-Force and Cable and X-Force have folded into one new book, simply titled X-Force, with writer Si Spurrier and artist Rock-He Kim reinvigorating the militant mutant team with characters who had appeared on both teams previously. Of course, Cable is part of the line-up, but so is Psylocke, who was part of the Uncanny X-Force team for several years. Also joining are Fantomex and Marrow.  In the words of new writer Spurrier, “They don’t want global domination nor mutant superiority; merely to protect and strengthen the interests of The Mutant Nation, and they’ll rain thunder and flame on anyone who says different.”

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While Carol Danvers has graduated from being Ms. Marvel to being Captain Marvel, that leaves the name and identity free to be used by an all new character. In February, Marvel gives us the all-new Ms. Marvel in the form of Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old Muslim girl who lives in New Jersey. The new Ms. Marvel #1, which comes out in print and digital on February 5, is illustrated by Adrian Alphona (Runaways, Uncanny X-Force) and scripted by G. Willow Wilson. Marvel seems to be making a serious attempt here to creative diversity, both in gender and ethnicity/religion, and my hopes are that fandom embraces this new Ms. Marvel.

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But maybe the biggest comics news of the day is from DC, as The Flash gets a new creative team in April, as revealed in USA Today. While on the surface that might not seem like a big deal, the new writing team of Robert Venditti and Van Jensen (who have been co-writing DC’s Green Lantern Corps) and artist Brett Booth are set to join The Flash with issue #30, scheduled out April 23. A week later sees the release of  The Flash Annual #3, which will “reintroduce Wally West.”  No other details were given, but considering fans have been clamoring for Wally West since the launch of the New 52 in 2011, this is kind of huge news. The Annual has a pic of what appears to be the Flash in a blue costume… et tu, Wally?

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