Marvel To Relaunch… or Something This Fall, Bring Back New (Old) Young Jean Grey
Here’s the funny thing about having two companies dominating 70% of the market share in an industry, is that when one does something, you can bet that the other one is going to try and get in on that action. On the flip side, when that isn’t the case, regardless of the actual motivation for either company’s move, you can bet that it will be compared to any similar contemporary move made by the other.
Which is a roundabout way of introducing the fact that Marvel comics is going to put it’s universe through a soft reboot or a relaunch this fall (right around the 1 year anniversary of DC’s New 52), change artist teams, costumes, story focuses, and titles. And just like every other relaunch in the history of superhero comics, it’s designed to lure new and lapsed readers by offering some titles that start fresh of continuity baggage.
While DC Comics has always lead the pack in hard reboots, starting in 1986 and only continuing from there, Marvel has never once, in the entirety of its history, restarted its main continuity. Personally, I chalk this up to it being A: a much younger universe, and B: having its major players and themes established by a much smaller pool of talent and therefore being quite a ways more consistent than the DCU. Fear not: this is not Marvel launching it’s first true reboot. Here’s a paragraph from Comics Alliance that neatly lays out the differences between Marvel NOW! and the New 52 in a way that only legitimizes how easy it is to conflate the two:
The principal differences between Marvel Now and DC’s New 52 initiative are: DC’s scheme was completed within a single month, while Marvel NOW! will roll out more leisurely, with a new or relaunched book debuting almost every week between October 2012 and February 2013; the New 52 relaunched the entire DC superhero line, while Marvel NOW! will not affect every Marvel superhero book currently being published; and DC’s New 52 included an almost total reboot of its characters and their mythologies, while Marvel’s scheme will not reset the long-running Marvel Universe continuity. Indeed, all the changes are precipitated by however Avengers Vs. X-Men finally concludes.
There are three titles so far associated with the Marvel NOW! line, Avengers #1, which promises to expand the Avengers roster and focus on threats to the universe instead of just Earth, Uncanny Avengers, which will spill out the effects of the current Avengers VS X-Men storyline, and finally All New X-Men, which I’ll get to in a moment. First lets check out the only picture so far associated with Marvel NOW!
So yes, that’s the Hulk in armor, a throwback suit for the Invisible Woman, an Ultimates/Cinematic Universe inspired Nick Fury, and, just under the Hulk’s left armpit: Jean Grey in her original 1963 costume.
A person somewhat familiar with Marvel continuity might be forgiven for not knowing that Jean Grey is dead in current continuity: with her dual identity as the mutant Jean Grey and the physical manifestation of the omnipotent Phoenix Force, returning from the dead in various forms is practically her secondary mutation. But as of 2006, she’s fully merged with the Pheonix Force, ascended to a higher plane, and dead. Definitely dead, as only a comic book character can be. Which is to say… bring on the time travel/parallel universe/clone/reincarnated child! That’s absolutely not getting old.
But the new Jean, as indicated by the description of All New X-Men, is actually the old Jean. A very old Jean. All New X-Men features the original X-Men lineup (Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, and Jean Grey), torn out of time when they were just starting out as superheroes and dropped into the modern Marvel universe. According to Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, they get to the future and think “We’re gonna grow up, and this is what we’re going to get? That is not acceptable.” Which sounds like exactly the kind of “difficult to believe concept that turns out to be executed with a lot of really interesting character moments” that I love in comics. Whether it turns out to be what it sounds like is another question, just like whether Marvel NOW! turns out to be what it sounds like: some new books and a marketing push.