By Andrew A. Smith
Hints, rumors, and portents continue to rumble in for what’s to come this year, and if there’s one thing we can expect, it’s lots of crossovers – and a few from unexpected precincts. That’s not all 2013 offers by a long shot, but it’s a good place to start.
If you think about it, all the Archie titles are something of a shared universe already. So when Archie Comics announces two crossovers, it’s taking the concept to another level.
“Between Archie Meets Glee and Sonic/Mega Man: Worlds Collide, Archie Comics … has claim to 2013’s biggest, most exciting crossover events,” said Archie Comics President Mike Pellerito. “With no sign of slowing down, 2013 is primed to be Archie’s biggest year yet.”
In the first crossover, the kids from Riverdale meet their counterparts from TV’s William McKinley High School in a four-part story beginning in Archie #641.
“This crossover is going to be huge and we can’t wait for Archie and Glee fans alike to read it,” said Jon Goldwater, Archie Comics co-CEO. “Archie and Glee are two sides of the same coin so to put the two together was a no-brainer. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who is just a genius writer (also a writer/producer on Glee), came to me with this idea and I immediately agreed. Dan Parent tackled art duties on our last major crossover, Archie Meets KISS, which was a smash hit for us, so he was the natural choice to draw it.”
Elsewhere, it’s Capcom meets Sega, beginning in Mega Man #24 and continuing in Archie’s two Sonic titles.
“This is the comic book crossover event of 2013!” said Executive Director of Editorial Paul Kaminski. “Video game icons Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man meet in the pages of Archie comics for the first time in history, [in a] 12-part epic beginning in March and exploding across the Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Universe, and Mega Man titles! The way these two universes collide is going to be a spectacular, world-shaking event for the blue blur and bomber and their universes!”
And while not technically a crossover, the New Crusaders – characters that have been published under the DC Comics, Impact! Comics, Mighty Comics, MLJ, Radio Comics, and Red Circle banners – are back online and in the re-launched Red Circle label in print. What started as New Crusaders: Rise of the Heroes in 2012 continues in New Crusaders: Dark Tomorrow in 2013.
“The New Crusaders are back!” Kaminski said. “After the cataclysmic events of Rise of the Heroes, our teen heroes must now face the biggest challenge of their lives – living up to their parents’ legacy. Dark Tomorrow tells the story of kids struggling with huge obstacles, whether they be attacks from the vicious Brain Emperor, the emergence of deadly new gang violence, and (maybe the most dangerous of all) a return to high school!
“Sit tight, the second strike is coming! Our heroes have only been heroes for what, a week? And already they've been through hell and back. We're going to be exploring just how deeply that hell has burned this team (pun fully intended), and just what in the world Brain Emperor is after. Or should I say – what in the world(s)?”
Meanwhile, Valiant spent 2012 building up its revived universe, populating its five titles with faces old and new. But 2013 promises to thin the herd a bit, when Bloodshot cracks open Project Rising Spirit and sparks an all-out war between Toyo Harada and Peter Stanchek. “Harbinger Wars” runs through an eponymous, four-issue mini-series, Bloodshot, and Harbinger. It more or less begins with a zero issue of Harbinger:
“Joshua Dysart is fantastic writer and he has completely re-invented the Harbinger mythos,” said Associate Editor Jody LeHeup. “With Harbinger #0, he's diving into the character of Toyo Harada and telling the back story of this very important character for the first time ever. Much of the issue is set in the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima and not a single punch is pulled. You’ve never quite seen super-powers used like this. Truly devastating stuff.”
Associate Editor Joshua Johns carries the story from there:
“Believe me when I say that this going to bring the Valiant Universe to its boiling point. New characters, the return of some familiar faces, and more than a few twists and turns will make this a series that you can't afford to miss. The creative team of Joshua Dysart, Duane Swierczynski and Clayton Henry make a fearsome trio – and if you haven't tried out a Valiant book yet, this is the place to start.”
And, while it has nothing to do with “Harbinger Wars,” Publisher Fred Pierce couldn’t resist bragging a bit on the company’s flagship character and the upcoming epic “Planet Death”:
“X-O Manowar has always been the character I followed most closely in the early days of Valiant, and now he's finally going to get the one thing he never could back then – revenge. Robert Venditti and Cary Nord have done a phenomenal job re-defining and launching this series last year. Now, they're gearing up this series to never-before-seen heights with the ‘Planet Death’ story arc. It's immensely exciting to have have such talented creators delivering such awe-inspiring work with such a dynamic character month in and month out.”
One place you can expect gihumongous crossovers is Marvel, and they won’t disappoint in 2013. Back in June 2007, when Mighty Avengers was launched, the first storyline involved Earth’s Mightiest Heroes being recruited by Kang to a future, blasted Earth where Ultron had wiped out most of humanity. This “Age of Ultron” – hinted at ever since – will come to fruition in 2013.
Marvel released some of the details in a Nov. 19, 2012, “Next Big Thing” telephone conference, including that Age of Ultron will run 10 issues on an accelerated schedule from March to June. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, the first five issues are by Bryan Hitch, with Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco on the final five.
And even though it begins with the Avengers, Bendis said, it “was almost meant to be a Marvel Universe book. It stars everyone, not just the Avengers.” Titles like Fantastic Four and Superior Spider-Man will have Ultron-related issues, with special “AU” numbering.
Speaking of Bendis, Jonathan Hickman has already picked up his duties on Avengers, while Bendis has moved on to All-New X-Men as part of the ongoing rollout of Marvel NOW! Coming in February as part of NOW!, Sales & Communications Coordinator James Viscardi said, are a new Nova series by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness, and a new Guardians of the Galaxy title by Bendis and Steve McNiven.
As for DC, its latest mega-crossover has already begun: Scott Snyder’s epic “Death of a Family” pits The Joker against the Dark Knight in virtually all Bat-books, including peripheral titles like Red Hood and the Outlaws and Suicide Squad (thanks to Harley Quinn.)
In a telephone interview, Snyder explained that The Joker sees Batman as the king of Gotham, and himself as the court jester who can tell the king unpleasant truths – such as the fact that deep down, The Joker thinks, Batman would rather be without the responsibility entailed by his extended family. So the Clown Prince of Crime goes after Batman’s “false royal court” in a way he never has before.
“This is really him looking them in the eye for the first time, or almost the first time,” Snyder said, “and saying ‘I’m coming after you individually to break you the way I would break Batman.’”
The result will have long-term effects on everyone who wears a bat, Snyder said, as well as supporting characters like Alfred and Commissioner Gordon.
“It definitely has consequences, especially emotional consequences, and fallout between them,” he said. “The Joker, as horrifying as we’re trying to make him, isn’t the horror-movie villain, the slasher villain that leaves some kind of scar on you that’s physical, or some sort of horrible situational death. That might happen, don’t get me wrong. But what we’re really going for is a sort of intrusive, emotional attack on the family. What he’s saying, essentially, is that ‘Batman loves me more than you and I can prove it to you. I have evidence to prove it. And I’m going to prove it and so you’re gonna look at it and know that I’m right so you might as well leave the table.’”
Elsewhere in the DC’s New 52, Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and David Finch will launch Justice League of America, which will include Simon Baz (Green Lantern), Catwoman, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Katana, Martian Manhunter, Stargirl, Steve Trevor, and Vibe. (Yes, Vibe.)
Also, John Constantine – who returned to the DC Universe in Justice League Dark – receives a new solo series in March by Robert Venditti and Renato Guedes.
If team books count in our crossover countdown, include IDW, which has ambitious plans for both the G.I. Joe and Transformers franchises.
“G.I. Joe is getting a massive re-launch in February,” said editor John Barber. “The amazing creative team of Fred Van Lente and Steve Kurth fire with both barrels on G.I. Joe #1, pulling the team out of the shadows and into the spotlight! After Cobra publicly outs them, Duke leads an all-star squad against the Baroness on U.S. soil – and the world is watching.
“March sees the debut of G.I. Joe: Special Missions by Chuck Dixon and Paul Gulacy,” Barber continued, “telling the classified storied of top-secret G.I. Joe operations, and April brings us G.I. Joe: The Cobra Files by Mike Costa and Antonio Fuso, digging deep into the world of espionage and counter-intelligence in the comic Brian K. Vaughan calls ‘one of the best comics being published today!’ Combine this with the ongoing continuation of the 1980s G.I. Joe continuity in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by the legendary Larry Hama and S.L. Gallant, and there has never been a better time to be a G.I. Joe fan.”
Transformers, which continues from 2012, is expanding as well. Megatron and Bumblebee collide in Transformers: Robots in Disguise, by Barber and artist Andrew Griffith. Rodimus battles Overlord in Transformers: More than Meets the Eye.
“Both of these comics have been getting huge acclaim from fans and newcomers alike,” said Barber. “And later in 2013 comes the biggest event that has ever occurred in Transformers comics – I can't say more, but worlds will be changed! Plus, we've got the continuation of the original 1980s Transformers continuity in Transformers: Regeneration One by Transformers legends Simon Furman and Andrew Wildman!”
But IDW, currently the No. 4 publisher, is still expanding, and Editor Chris Ryall says “we’re continuing to diversify our line in ways that set us apart from all other comics publishers. … Whatever your tastes, we’ve got something good coming your way” in 2013. In addition to revivals of Ghostbusters, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ryall hints at “another beloved property that I can’t quite talk about just yet.” Look for the archival series by Craig Yoe and Dean Mullaney to continue, he said, as well as a number of creator-owned books.
The latter includes books like Fever Ridge, Wild Blue Yonder (see below), January’s Jinnrise, and John Byrne’s The High Ways. Ryall himself will be contributing The Colonized, “a story of aliens, zombies, and militiamen, and featuring covers by Dave Sim, John Byrne, and others. Drew Moss and I are having a lot of fun laying siege to a separatist camp in fun, and hopefully unexpected, ways.”
Elsewhere at IDW:
* Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time celebrates the Time Lord’s 50th anniversary with a 12-part maxi-series featuring all 11 Doctors and their companions.
* Vitriol the Hunter launches in February, by Good Charlotte guitarist Billy Martin. “Set in a neo-gothic 22nd century, this six-issue series follows the journey of Vitriol, the last great hope of a city on the verge of being overrun by Lord Barthus and his heinous vampire regime,” said editor Denton Tipton. “In addition to illustrating and co-writing the series, Martin is producing a soundtrack under the name Villain, showcasing his dynamic mix of electronic music with traditional film core. Prepare for all-out war with the creatures of the night!”
* Wild Blue Yonder, by Mike Raicht, Zach Howard, and Nelson Daniel is “a high-flying adventure set in the skies of a dying world,” said editor Bobby Curnow. “This team is creating a wholly new world, and the results will truly be something to behold.”
* Fever Ridge: A Tale of MacArthur’s Jungle War is an 8-issue series beginning in February, written by Mike Heimos and illustrated by Nick Runge (Ghostbusters, KISS). Instead of following the Marines in World War II’s Pacific Theatre like most stories, Jungle War focuses on Army units under the command of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. “Fever Ridge explores unique events, perspectives, exotic locales and peoples that are different than any you have encountered in other WWII stories,” said editor Tom Waltz, “and ultimately is the story of a secret that could have changed the War, and the world. With a storyline based on the real-life experiences of writer/creator Heimos' grandfather in the South Pacific, and sumptuous artwork by the uber-talented Runge that will inspire, thrill, and sometimes shock readers. Fever Ridge is a World War II tale like no other, and IDW Publishing couldn't be more proud to be publishing it!”
DARK HORSE COMICS
“One of the most exciting parts of  for me is the sum of everything we have going on with Brian Wood – Conan, The Massive, and the new Star Wars series,” said Senior Managing Editor Scott Allie. “We're building something special with him.”
Meanwhile, he said, the Mignola books are “exploding!” In addition to Hellboy in Hell, “Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon are coming back to Dark Horse for a BPRD series, simply called Vampire, which takes them back to characters from the last BPRD story they did for us.”
Ongoing creator-owned series include Mike Oeming’s adult super-hero book The Victories, and Matt Kindt’s Mind MGMT. New books include Francesco Francavilla’s Black Beetle (spinning out of DHP) in January, Mike Norton’s The Answer, and Jai Nitz's Dream Thief. Music-based books include The House of Gold and Bones, with Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, and Gerard Way's Killjoys, which Allie said is “the comic that led to the My Chemical Romance album of the same name.”
Coming in May, the color re-issues of the Scott Pilgrim series continues with Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness V3 Hardcover. Meanwhile, Director of Sales and Marketing Tom Shimmin pointed to two more Oni efforts:
* Coming Feb. 20 is Mermin, a young adult book by Joey Weiser. “This book is cute, funny, and teaches the value of friendship,” Shimmin said. “Mermin is a fish-boy from Mer, who washes up on shore, only to be found by a group of boys. Adventure and friendship begin, followed an epic sea battle when Mermin's past comes back to find him.”
* Coming March 27 is Bad Machinery, collecting John Allison’s webcomic of the same name, which won the 2012 British Comics Awards for Best Comic. “It’s oversized and contains all the beauty and all-ages hilarity that has made badmachinery.com such a well-known and respected webcomic in the industry,” Shimmin said.
“NBM Publishing is starting 2013 with several truly special works,” said Publicist Stefan Blitz, all of them truly unique in both the medium and the marketplace.”
Among them are the Louvre series, which continues in 2013 with An Enchantment, by Christian Durieux. “This one tells the tale of the retiring museum director on a fugue from his retirement dinner through the vast halls of the museum, eloping with a muse,” Blitz said. “It’s a wonderful addition to the Louvre Collection and, like the previous volumes, is truly an amazing and special piece of work.”
March brings The Initiates, by Etienne Davodeau, an autobiographical story exploring the nature of vocation from the perspectives of a cartoonist and a winemaker; who “realize they both have that precious and necessary power to bring people together,” Blitz said. The book also features cameos by cartoonists Lewis Trondheim, Emmanuel Guibert, and Marc-Antoine Matthieu.
Blitz describes May’s Family Ties, by writer Eric Hobbs and artist Noel Tuazon as “The Godfather meets Shakespeare.” Inspired by King Lear, an aging Alaskan mob boss attempts to divide his empire among three heirs, with disastrous results. “It's an epic tale that's both thrilling and tragic,” Blitz said, “and a must-have for fans of the crime genre.”
July brings Persia Blues Volume 1 (of 3), by Dara Naraghi and Brent Bowman. The series explores the life of a young Iranian woman, both in her struggles under an oppressive regime, and in a fantasy world that blends modern America and ancient Persia. Blitz describes it as “a character-driven slice-of-life tale, combining fantastical elements with contemporary politics,” one that “explores the universal themes of tradition, family, guilt, and freedom.”
NBM finishes the summer on a lighter note,with Zombiellennium Volume 1: Gretchen, by Arthur de Pins, in which vampire Francis von Bloodt manages a theme park whose employees are all actual monsters. The first volume features a mortal hire and the witch assigned to train him.
Image staple Joe Casey is launching two new series in 2013: the subtly named Sex (with Piotr Kowalski) and The Bounce (with David Messina). No word yet on what those will entail, but Image – which was on a creative roll in 2012 – continues in that vein in 2013:
“We're really excited to see Mara by Brian Wood and Ming Doyle continue in 2013,” said PR and Marketing Director Jennifer de Guzman. “Its first issue is in stores the day after Christmas, so in a way it's our first new series of 2013, since it'll be out too late to make all of the end-of-the-year lists. Mara is an exploration of super-celebrity and the pressures put on young woman to conform to beauty ideals.
“We have a new ongoing from Jonathan Hickman, East of West -- with art by Nick Dragotta -- starting in March, and Hickman's work, especially his creator-owned titles, are always something to be excited about. This one is a dystopian, apocalyptic (as opposed to post-apocalyptic) sci-fi Western. Of course.
“Farther out, we have Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue de Connick [Captain Marvel] and Emma Rios, a Western about a female gunslinger with a disfigured face that gets into how beauty (or lack of it) is both an advantage and a liability for women.”
Comics” Smith has been writing professionally about comics since 1992, and for Comics Buyer’s Guide since 2000.