The Watchtower
The Watchword is Watchtower
The Watchtower is a weekly column, commenting on the biggest and strangest comic news and rumors of the week. Each column will include noteworthy books scheduled for release that same week. As always comments and discussion are welcome. Until I think of something better, news items will be titled by HORRIBLE puns and word play.

A Golden Opportunity

More and more details are starting to leak out regarding James Robinson and Nicola Scott's much anticipated Earth 2 title that will feature, but not primarily focus on, the sorely missed Justice Society of America. And the news isn't good. At least it isn't what I wanted to hear. Costumes are being updated, characters are being de-aged, time tables are being altered drastically. It's more New 52-ification, and I think it's a damn shame and a poor business decision. The New 52 did manage to capture an impressive amount of new readers, but there is, and always will be that portion of the fan base that misses the way things were. Why not make Earth 2 the book for them? Why not soak it in golden agey goodness and give readers a JSA that looks almost identical to the one we knew, and represents the best eras of the book. Dealing heavily with issues of history and legacy and featuring a team of septuagenarians instructing the next generation on how to be super heroes and trying to instill in them values the of the greatest generation, JSA was never going to be a book that would capture large numbers of youthful comic readers, so why try? The fact that it is set on a parallel world should not be viewed as a hook, DC has a whole multiverse to use for those kinds of stories, rather it should be viewed as an excuse to tell the kind of stories, DC seems to view as archaic in their new continuity. The DCU Prime Earth is young, hip, modern, and edgy, that's fine. Earth 2 can be the place where the golden age never ended, and the fans who miss those types of stories can find something recognizable. But to be fair, I will reserve my final judgement until the book ships.

The World's Greatest Speculators

So like Brian Michael Bendis before him, Jonathan Hickman has indicated an endpoint for all of his coming Marvel work. And since I definitely don't see either of them jumping ship to another company, I forsee major announcements regarding their new assignments come convention season. My prediction? Hickman takes over one or more Avengers books, while Brian Bendis enters into an experimental phase for awhile, focusing on books that star characters of or below the stature of Moon Knight. As for Fantastic Four which Hickman will be leaving in October, I wouldn't be surprised if Kieron Gillen, or Nick Spencer were on the short list. Given his rousing success with Amazing Spider-Man, I would be surprised if Dan Slott wasn't being considered, however there's just so much on his work schedule right now with ASM shipping twice monthly, it seems unlikely, unless he plots, and frequent collaborator Chris Yost scripts. Personally I would like to see Jeff Parker given a shot at the book. His style is distinct from Hickman's and has a old school flair with a sense that anything can happen, that I think would fit the book well and be a nice change of pace following the epic grandeur of Hickman's run.

Getting Animated

I have to say, I really love how Marvel is attempting to promote lesser known characters through their other media adaptations, most notably the forthcoming Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon. The show that focuses on the formative years of Spider-Man will feature the young hero being trained by Nick Fury alongside other teenaged vigilantes including Luke Cage, Iron Fist, White Tiger, and Nova. For many of these characters this will be their first animated adaptation, and it's more than a cameo, it's a major recurring supporting role. Given that two of these characters starred in critically acclaimed but low selling titles, it's nice to see Marvel looking for opportunities to raise their profiles, and I for one hope it works.

Just Image-ine

The number of Image books coming out this year that I am psyched about keeps rising. Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson are releasing a new title called Happy! later this year. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie are publishing the long awaited third volume of Phonogram, through the publisher, a project that many fans of the title thought would never see daylight. But I think the most interesting projects that have been announced thus far are Jonathan Hickman's Secret and The Manhatten Projects, Ed Brubaker's Fatale, and Mark Millar's Jupiter's Children. All three of these writers are big name Marvel writers, the first two have been given the title of Marvel Universe Architects. This begs the question why these books are being published through Image, and not Marvel's Icon imprint, which as far as I know, operates in the same way (allowing the creators to retain all rights and profits to their creator owned title), but has the added benefit of putting Marvel's massive marketing machine behind the projects. Is it possible that Icon can only afford to publish so many of these projects a year? Do these creators believe in and support Image's mission of inspiring creativity and supporting creators? Does Image offer these creators a better deal in some way? If anyone has some insight, please comment, I'm very curious.

And that's it! Be sure to check out these titles in stores tomorrow!
Action Comics #7
Animal Man #7 (Classic A-Man artist Steve Pugh returns!)
Swamp Thing #7
Avengers Academy #27 (Return of the Runaways!!! Yeah!!!)
Avengers: Children's Crusade #9 (The conclusion that was a year and a half in the making)
Defenders #4
Fatale #3 (Ed Brubaker's Lovecraftian Noir continues!)
The Manhatten Projects #1 (Hickman details the secret history of the project that gave the world the Atom Bomb, and other much more sinister weapons).
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