Marvel has some big changes in store for Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man. While their corporate siblings over at Marvel Studios prepare to reunite the Big Three onscreen in next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel Comics will debut radical new looks for the three most iconic Avengers. It’s all part of a much larger initiative known as Avengers NOW!, which will see the debut of new Big Three books and several other new ongoing series.
In November, Superior Iron Man #1 sends Tony Stark to San Francisco with a new outfit and a new perspective on life. “The Genius Bar costume is there for a reason,” Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso tells EW. “The newly-transformed Superior Iron Man has very ambitious plans for the city that some of its residents embrace, but not all.” Comic book fans will note the very pointed addition of the word “Superior” to the title. The last time that happened, it was Superior Spider-Man, and Doctor Octopus took over Peter Parker’s brain. Doc Ock won’t be invading Tony’s frontal lobe, but Alonso does note, “Like the Superior Spider-Man, Superior Iron Man is a character that’s hard to root for.” The series is written by Tom Taylor and drawn by In a series written by Tom Taylor and drawn by Yildiray Cinar.
Also in November comes All-New Captain America #1. As has been hinted elsewhere, Steve Rogers will find himself unable to take up the mantle of Captain America, leaving someone else to put on the stars and stripes in his place. Because the new Cap appears to be African-American, most experts think it will be Sam Wilson, a.k.a. the Falcon, Cap’s friend and longtime partner. Alonso doesn’t confirm or deny, though he does note that the character in the image above has “what appears to be something that allows him the gift of flight.” He also says that All-New #1—written by Rick Remender and with art by Stuart Immonen—will be “very much a jumping-on point [for people] who both like the Captain America and really enjoyed the second Captain America movie.” (Which featured Anthony Mackie as the Falcon.) UPDATE: And now The Colbert Report has confirmed that Sam Wilson will be the new Captain America. Go, Captain Falcmerica, go!
But all those changes pale in comparison to what’s going on in October’s Thor #1. In the new series written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Russell Dauterman, there’s a whole new Thunder God–or Goddess, rather. It all comes out of the Original Sin story arc. “For reasons that will be revealed in Original Sin, Thor won’t be able to pick up the hammer,” says Alonso. “Someone has to pick up the hammer. And someone does. And they become Thor.” That someone is a lady—who precise identity won’t be revealed immediately. “There are several women in Thor’s life, and one of them is going to be the new Thor. You aren’t going to find out who it is for some time. This is a slowly unfolding mystery.”
Avengers NOW! goes way beyond the Big Three. All the characters in the exclusive image above will play a more prominent role in the Marvel Universe going into 2015. That makes sense for Dr. Strange, Scarlet Witch, and Ant-Man, who will be in the public eye as their film debuts move closer to release. But Marvel will also be focusing more on Inhuman characters like Medusa and Inferno, alongside the new Marvel arrival Angela, who originated as an Image character but who is being worked into Thor’s mythology.
Although Alonso won’t confirm specifically which characters are getting solo books, he does note that Marvel has several female-centric titles on the market now. “There was a time about two and a half years ago, when we were canceling X-23, and I realized that was the last of our female-helmed titles,” notes Alonso. Since then, Marvel has added titles like Elektra, Black Widow, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, Storm, and an all-female X-Men. Whether Scarlet Witch or Angela join their ranks will be revealed in the coming months, as Marvel moves closer to the launch of Avengers NOW!
The initiative will also feature a renewed focus on Deathlok and the Winter Soldier, and more than ten titles already in the planning stages. Expect to hear more about Avengers NOW! throughout Comic-Con. Ultron who?