– When John Cassaday was announced as the “regular” artist of the first of the Marvel NOW! books to launch, UNCANNY AVENGERS, anyone who knew his schedule was weary that he would be able to maintain a monthly schedule. The second issue shipped a couple of weeks late which naturally pushes things further later down the line. Now it has been announced that artist Daniel Acuña will debut on the series as of UNCANNY AVENGERS #6, which is tentatively scheduled for March. Acuña is subsequently declared the new “regular” artist for the series, with Cassaday’s contribution past issue four or five being limited to covers. New members such as Sunfire and Wonder Man will be added to the cast as writer Rick Remender plans for the second arc to be called “Ragnarok Now”, which borrows elements from his own UNCANNY X-FORCE run as well as Jason Aaron’s THOR book. The Red Skull, as well as Apocalypse and Kang the Conqueror, will all be involved.
– Initial sales estimates for November 2012 show that Marvel NOW! has been a success. It allowed Marvel to overcome DC Comics in both dollar and unit shares (a once routine feat which has become more challenging within the last year) as well as allowing Marvel to dominate the Top 10-25 with new launches. The best selling book of the month was ALL NEW X-MEN #1, which followed UNCANNY X-MEN in October. It seems the no-brainer merger of the X-Men and Avengers franchises has proven fruitful.
– Marvel will unite with, of all shows, “JEOPARDY” to help promote the Marvel NOW! relaunch. The relaunch strategy will be a category on tomorrow’s episode of the hit game show. This follows an appearance by Marvel Comics material on “THE PRICE IS RIGHT”. One might argue this is hardly the way to appeal to younger viewers, but exposure is exposure.
– FOX has announced a target date for their next Fantastic Four film as March 6th, 2015. Little is known about it besides it being directed by Josh Trank (“CHRONICLE”) from a script written by Michael Green and Jeremy Slater. It is expected to be a reboot and not connected to the two previous films directed by Tim Story from 2005 and 2007. This franchise was at the center of a controversy with speculation that Fox’s film license to Daredevil would be allowed to expire back to Marvel in order for the studio to gain another extension on this one. Currently the X-Men remain Fox’s most lucrative Marvel film property.
– Rumors have circulated that roughly eight actors are in the running to play the lead role of Peter Quill/Star-Lord in Marvel Studios’ “GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY”, set for August 1st, 2014. One of them, Lee Pace (“THE HOBBIT”, “PUSHING DAISIES”) claims his audition for the role is next week. Other actors attached to the audition process include Joel Edgerton (“ZERO DARK THIRTY”), Garrett Hedlund (“TRON: LEGACY”, a film distributed by Marvel’s owner, Disney), Jack Huston (“BOARDWALK EMPIRE”), Eddie Redmayne, Jim Sturgess (“CLOUD ATLAS”), Sullivan Stapleton, and even James Marsden (Cyclops of Fox’s “X-MEN” films). Marsden would be interesting as he would become the second actor better known for Marvel films distributed by Fox to return to the Marvel fold in a new role; Chris Evans being the first. Besides “ANT-MAN”, this is the only film in the “second phase” of Marvel Studios’ film slate which isn’t a sequel or based on a well known franchise, and thus one of the bigger risks.
– Cullen Bunn will write a four issue ULTIMATE COMICS WOLVERINE series next year. Bunn is quickly becoming one of those writers who Marvel attach to everything; he is currently handling VENOM and WOLVERINE, and set to launch FEARLESS DEFENDERS soon. The series follows the son of the original Wolverine, Jimmy Hudson, in the alternate continuity. Now going on 12 years, the Ultimate brand continues to inch along as the odd imprint where “anything can happen” and creators are allowed to run wild. Amazingly, Jimmy looks more like the traditional Wolverine than his father did in this imprint, who had a then-trendy soul patch. Hey, it was 2000 after all.