With 2010's end all but a formality and a new year upon us, I thought it might be nice to sit down together and have a look at all the possibly wonderful things that DC, Marvel, Image and all the other comic companies have in store for us in 2011. Plus I thought it'd be neat to see what YOU, the readers (and potential readers) of GAF expect and/or hope to see happen over the course of the new year. Below is a list I've compiled of storylines, projects and events we know are happening or potentially happening in the weeks and months ahead; this list is by no means complete, I'll admit, so if I've missed something that's hype-worthy then please inform us all.
Here's what you can expect to see in 2011...
DC's biggest news event of 2010, aside from the company's absorption into Warner Bros and subsequent restructuring, was arguably the return of Bruce Wayne to the role of Batman. Under the capable direction of Grant Morrison, look for Wayne and his ambitiout plans to dominate headlines once again, as Batman Incorporated is just getting started, and will play out across all Bat-Titles throughout 2011. We're already seeing its influence take hold in fact, with early shakeups for Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, with the (figurative) "Death of Oracle" storyline. Also, a new member joins the Bat-Family in February, as JH Williams III's much-anticipated Batwoman series makes its first-issue debut. And let's not forget about Geoff Johns delayed project, Batman: Earth One; that should be making its way to stores nationwide sometime in 2011.
After the Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night, the Green Lantern books continue to ride a high that will only gain momentum as we approach the release of this summer's live-action film adaptation. To capitalize on that event, Geoff Johns and his fellow Lantern writers have been laying the groundwork for a storyline called War of the Green Lanterns that promises to shake up the status quo in the Corps for the forseeable future. 2011 will also mark the conclusion of two series spawned from Blackest Night, Brightest Day and Justice League: Generation Lost. What will be the result? Rumors are circulating that new Aquaman and JLI series may be in the works.
With both of its currently running bi-weekly series coming to an end in 2011, DC has already announced a new one to take their place. Based on the upcoming Sony MMORPG slated for the PS3/PC, the DC Universe Online Legends series is set to begin in February and will offer an exciting out-of-continuity story to both fans of comics and video games.
With Superman still "Grounded", the Super-family of books have been pretty quiet as of late. Even though J Michael Straczynski has moved on from monthly comics to fast-track his Superman: Earth One sequel possibly for the coming year, the storylines he began in Superman and Wonder Woman will continue in his absence under new writers. Look for those stories to end sometime in 2011. And even though he's no longer headlining the book, one can't talk about Superman in 2011 without mentioning the upcoming milestone of the 900th issue of Action Comics. Also playing out across the Super-titles in the next few months, Reign of Doomsday, which sees the unstoppable monster return and wreak havoc in the DCU once again.
With all of the excitement over Batman and Green Lantern, and the contraversies surrounding Superman and Wonder Woman, the Flash became somewhat overlooked in 2010 thanks in no small part to the delays in the "Rebirth" miniseries. Geoff Johns hopes to change that in 2011, with the upcoming crossover event titled Flashpoint. Not much has been revealed yet other than its involving the Reverse-Flashes and time itself, but folks are already speculating that Johns is set to do for the Flash what he did for Green Lantern.
Unannounced and/or unconfirmed: Grant Morrison's "Multiversity", an exploration of the 52 universes of DC Comics; Frank Miller's "Holy Terror" Batman miniseries; Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso reunite for a brand new Vertigo series.
In 2010 Marvel seemingly put an end to its "Dark" period of villains ruling the day with the crossover event Seige, and ushered in a new "Heroic Age" for its heroes. As was recently revealed, in 2011 their next major event will be titled Fear Itself, and if promotional art is any indication it will span the entire Marvel Universe this time. Not much has been revealed yet however, though recent solicitations seem to indicate it will involve the Red Skull and a secret, darker aspect of Marvel's past history. You can be sure though that this event will dominate and shape Marvel's direction in the months to come.
Other than 'Fear Itself', the big focus for Marvel this year will be on its two stars gracing the big screen later this summer. Next year Marvel celebrates Captain America's 70th Anniversary just in time for the blockbuster film adaptation, and you can bet they have a whole slew of Cap-related books and tie-ins just waiting to be unleashed on a curious public. But the big question remains: will Bucky still be Marvel's Cap in '11? Or are we already starting to see indications that Steve Rogers will reclaim his shield? And even though they sort of (figuratively) blew their load on him in 2010, don't think that Marvel has forgotten its god of Thunder; they'll continue to promote Thor and his comics until well after the film's debut.
His Broadway show is a disaster and his movie franchise doesn't reboot until 2012, but Spider-Man still holds the title of "Marvel's most recognizable property" for now and we can expect to see quite a bit of him in 2011. Dan Slott's Big Time story continues to roll on in Amazing, and sees the debut of another new suit of Spider-Armor come March, and the recently announced Death of (Ultimate) Spider-Man storyline is already drawing a huge buzz, especially with the recently announced return of artist Mark Bagley. Top that off with the announcement of a new Venom ongoing series by Rick Remender, and 2011 is shaping up to be a big year for the arachnid hero.
The Fantastic Four changes in a big way in 2011. Series writer Jonathan Hickman's early plans for Marvel's "First Family" come to fruition in issue #587, with the death of a founding member and the series' end at issue #588. Marvel will then relaunch the series in March, titled simply FF; that's only the beginning, however, as Hickman continues to guide the team (in whatever new form it may take) towards his long-term goal (and the 600th issue) in the coming year. Skeptics' eyes have been rolling for quite some time now, but Hickman's run has been absolutely brilliant so far and this latest development is generating massive amounts of publicity and hype. Even Vegas oddsmakers are getting in on the action.
Recent years have seen Marvel's X-Men franchise fall from "favored son" status down to "redheaded stepchild" somewhat; but after 2010's "Second Coming" and "Heroic Age" events Marvel have taken steps to draw the mutants closer to their fellow heroes and the overall picture. And, with a film franchise reboot due out next year, you can expect Marvel to push their X-branded characters into prominence once again in 2011. In the alternate-reality crossover saga Age of X from writer Mike Carey, readers can expect to see a different kind of X-Men emerge. And in the recently revealed First to Last storyline, the current X-Men team looks to be facing off against... the classic X-Men? Plus you can expect a continued push for Marvel's favorite clawed family, as Wolverine, X-23, and Daken all cross paths and trade wounds in the year to come. Also: some of those blasted Deadpool comics are getting cancelled!
Also on the horizon: the return of Crossgen Comics at new parent Marvel; a new team of cosmic heroes emerges in the Annihilators; a new Moon Knight ongoing series from Bendis and Maleev; Black Panther becomes the new "Man Without Fear" and Daredevil gets Reborn!
IMAGE, DARK HORSE, AND IDW COMICS
The most hyped new comic of 2011 coming out of Image has to be Joe Casey and Mike Huddleston's new series titled Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker A "mature audiences only" book, 'Baker' follows its titular character, a retired America-themed superhero, as he's called back into action for the proverbial "one last mission" and all the trouble that ensues. Also in 2011, writer Robert Kirkman debuts a new series titled Super Dinosaur about a young boy genius and his best pal, a tyrannosaurus rex bristling with mechanized arms and weaponry. Other than that, expect more Walking Dead to capitalize on the television series' success in the form of weekly reprints and, uhh... I don't know. The end of Image United maybe? Finally?
In 2011 Dark Horse Comics celebrates its 25th year anniversary! And they've got some big projects in the works for the coming year, starting with Frank Miller's 300 prequel Xerxes. And the comics home of Star Wars is fast becoming the house of Whedon too, as in 2011 we'll see not only the 9th "season" of Buffy the Vampire Slayer but also the debut of an all-new Dollhouse series based on the cancelled TV show. With a major motion picture releasing later in the year, a big push for Conan has already begun with several new series. Plus, a new miniseries starring Axe Cop and (fingers crossed) hopefully the seventh volume of Adam Warren's Empowered before the year's end!
2011 looks to be business as usual for IDW Publishing, with a continued mix of original creator content smothered with a heaping helping of books based on licensed properties from movies, television and games. Of particular note are the recently revealed Godzilla: Monster World series set to debut in March, and the crossover Infestation series, in which zombies invade some familiar licensed properties like Ghostbusters and GI Joe.
Of the smaller publishers, only Dynamite Entertainment seems to publicize its plans and projects for the coming year. With the upcoming Seth Rogan film they've got a number of Green Hornet projects in the works; in addition, they're expanding their "John Carter" franchise with a new Dejah Thoris series. Plus, Garth Ennis expands his presence at the company with a new ongoing series titled Jennifer Blood about a housewife-by-day who becomes a crazed, gun-toting vigilante by night. And over at BOOM! Studios, they've got a new Hellraiser series to go along with all those kid-friendly Disney books featuring Mickey, Donald and the rest, and all those new Stan Lee superhero titles.
Also in the works at various publishers: Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons team up for an unnanounced project; Craig Thompson follows up the critically acclaimed Blankets with a new project titled Habibi; and who knows what else! ...Seriously, I'm asking. Who knows what else is going on with the smaller publishers? Archie? Avatar? Antarctic? Zenescope? Oni Press? Fantagraphics? Apsen?
I think it's safe to say that 2010 wasn't exactly the kindest year for comic book movies. Iron Man 2 made more money that its predecessor worldwide but didn't garner near as much prasie; Kick-Ass and Red each enjoyed modest success at the box office, while Scott Pilgrim and The Losers weren't so lucky; and Jonah Hex... well, Jonah Hex BOMBED. Granted, the offerings were slim, but the year still proved unkind. But Hollywood is hoping that audiences' love affair with comic movies isn't over yet, as 2011 is stacked with adaptations searching for box office gold.
DC/Warner Bros seeks to get a second comic franchise off the ground in 2011 with this summer's Green Lantern starring Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, Blake Lively as Carol Ferris and Mark Strong as Sinestro. And Marvel has not one, not two, but THREE comic film adaptations coming in 2011: Chris Hemsworth stars as the titular thunder god alongside Natalie Portman in Kendeth Branagh's Thor; Chris Evans dons the stars-n-stripes and indestructible shield as Captain America: The First Avenger; and Matthew Vaughn directs James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender in the franchise-rebooting X-Men: First Class from FOX. And that's far from all. Releasing in two weeks, comedian Seth Rogan and Jay Chou suit up as the titular character and his martial-arts parnter Kato in Michael Gondry's The Green Hornet. Director Jon Favreau mines comic territory once again with Cowboys & Aliens, a self-explanatory adaptation starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford. Stargate's Jason Momoa takes on the role made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger in a long-delayed reboot of Conan the Barbarian. Even acclaimed director Steven Spielberg is getting in on the act, sort of, with a much-anticipated adaptation of the long running comic strip The Adventures of TinTin. Yessiree, it's going to be a big year for movies based on comic properties.
In 2011 the big screen won't be the only place to get your comic book adaptation fix, however. On television, you can expect to see the final season of Smallville play out into sweeps with a much anticipated series finale; and after its first season saw ratings records broken, the second season of AMC's The Walking Dead is already in the works and should debut in time for fall. And then, there are all of the unconfirmed projects that are in the pre-production and planning stages. Warner Bros is reportedly laying the groundwork for a new television series based on Wonder Woman (though recent developments cast doubt on its validity), and possibly another starring Teen Titans member Raven; the rumors surrounding a Fables TV series for ABC have gone silent, however. At Marvel, an adaptation of the MAX series Alias titled AKA Jessica Jones is in the works; other rumored projects include a new Hulk series from Guillermo del Toro, a Powers adaptation for FX Network and a kid-friendly Cloak and Dagger series for ABC/Disney. The big two aren't the only ones getting in on the action, however as Image's smash hit series Chew is getting the small screen treatment, and IDW's Locke & Key may make it to airwaves on FOX this fall.
On the animation front, Warner Bros has the final season of Batman: The Brave & the Bold to finish out its run, and next week's premiere of the Young Justice cartoon. In addition, a proposed Green Lantern cartoon using computer-generated animation is in the works and expected to appear in time for the motion picture's release. At Marvel, shows Super Hero Squad and Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes are set to be joined by the much-anticipated Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, adapting the long-running comic series with the help of BTAS guru Paul Dini. And on the direct market, DC Animation's adaptation of All-Star Superman arrives in a few months, followed by a Green Lantern: Emerald Knights anthology piece and a possible Batman: Year One by year's end. And from Marvel, we'll be getting a disc release of its BET Black Panther series as well as the long-delayed Thor: Tales of Asgard to coincide with the film.
When it comes to video games based on comic books Marvel appears to have the edge in numbers for 2011, but DC arguably has the edge in terms of anticipation and hype. Both have some much anticipated, high-profile games to offer players, as well as some "based on a movie based on a comic" cash-in efforts that, if history has shown us, will be of dubious if not atrocious quality.
Early in 2011, DC and Sony Online Entertainment are set to release wide their DC Universe Online MMORPG, for PC and PS3 consumption. In DCUO, players will be able to create and customize their own original hero or villain, and "live" within the virtual world of DC Comics, fighting alongside or against its heroes or villains in a story-driven saga. Also on tap for 2011 is the hugely anticipated sequel to 2009's smash hit Arkham Asylum, Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham City for PS3/X360/PC; once again players are thrust into the role of Batman the Dark Knight (or possibly Catwoman?), to fight crime in a hostile city environment thrown into chaos by the Joker and Hugo Strange. And finally, rounding out DC's announced offerings will be the new Green Lantern game that's set to coincide with (and cash in on) the upcoming motion picture.
Undoubtedly Marvel's biggest gaming offering of 2011, Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds for PS3/X360 pits a diverse cast of Marvel's heroes and villains against an assortment of Capcom's most famous characters in an all new fighting game sequel 11 years in the making. From Activision, the recently announced X-Men Destiny will be making its way to consoles later in the year, though no details and only on trailer have been shown thus far. And Sega, the go-to company for such fare, has a pair of Marvel action games based on Thor: God of Thunder and Captain America: Super Soldier, set to coincide with each film's release in theaters. All of this, plus the recent trademark revelation indicating that a Secret Wars video game may also in the works, indicates that Marvel fans will have no shortage of gaming options to choose from.
It's no secret: 2010 was a bad year for comic sales. But while monthly single issue sales were down across the board, and graphic novel sales up only slightly, sales of digital comic books in 2010 skyrocketed -- thanks in no small part to the proliferation of devices like the iPhone and iPad, and to more and more comic publishers opening digital stores. And 2011 looks to continue the trend of increasing digital sales, as more and more publishers get on board with the idea of a paperless world of comics.
DC, Marvel, Image, IDW, Archie, and soon Dark Horse: all have digital apps through iTunes, all have made comics available through them for PC, iPhone and iPad. DC has made its comics available on the PSP through PlayStation Network, and Marvel is following suit. And other comic companies are making their content available digitally, either through their own means or through intermediareis like Comixology.
But what will 2011 hold for the future of digital comics? Where can improvements be made? Will we see an increase in "same day" content for digital stores, allowing virtual readers to read new comics simultaneously with physical collectors? Will we see an increase in catalog titles as DC, Marvel and the rest dig into their vaults for thousands upon thousands of backissues? And what will the prices of those titles be? Will we see discounted rates for older comics, value pricing for bundles?
What about eReaders? When color eReaders become the norm, will comic books be among the first downloadable products available? And what about Diamond and their announced plan to sell digital comics through direct market stores? And who will ultimately own those virtual copies, the readers who purchased them or the comic company that created them?
One thing's for sure, however: it's a "brave new world" for comic books.
So now that I've finally shut up, what say you GAF? What are you hyped for in 2011? What are you hoping to see? Where do you weigh in on comic books' digital future?
Oh, and Happy New Year everyone!