Zdarsky + Ferry cast a ‘Spider’s Shadow’ in April

The What If?-style story examines what might have happened if Peter Parker kept his symbiote suit.

Chip Zdarsky, Pasqual Ferry and Matt Hollingsworth will explore a “What If?” style universe where Peter Parker not only kept the symbiote suit he found on an alien world in the original Secret Wars, but he also embraced its darkness.

Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow will tell a darker Spider-Man story in April.

“I’m thrilled to be kicking off a new era of What If? stories with this tale of a Spider-Man gone bad! How bad will he be? Will he have a goatee and no hyphen in his name? Pick up issue one to find out! But seriously, I feel that with Spider’s Shadow we’re exploring some dark situations with Spidey and the Marvel Universe, while making it cool and fun to read. I think longtime fans will love it and new readers will be amazed at what Marvel lets us do,” Zdarsky told Marvel.com. “Pasqual and Matt are producing amazing work on this book. When every page comes in, I share them with all of my friends even though Marvel says I’m not allowed to do that.”

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The State of Future State, Part 1

JK, Shane and Tom take a look at DC’s Future State titles, starting with ‘The Next Batman,’ ‘Superman of Metropolis,’ ‘Wonder Woman’ and ‘Flash.’

DC officially kicked off Future State earlier this month, and the comics we’ve seen give a rough — emphasis on “rough” for some heroes — idea of what possible futures look like for their characters. This line-wide event, or publishing initiative, or whatever we want to call it, will go on through February and has replaced their regular titles until March.

With the event now in full gear, Shane Bailey, Tom Bondurant and I decided to discuss each one, roundtable style. Also, since the titles are all set at different times — some are just a few years into the future, while others jump forward thousands of years — I thought it might help to share this timeline of when each one is set:

I know it has helped us as we’ve been reading them.

So let’s get started …

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Bunn + Torres re-team for ‘Phantom of the Scan’

The team responsible for ‘Cold Spots’ reunites in a new series from AfterShock Comics about psychic warfare.

AfterShock Comics has announced that writer Cullen Bunn and artist Mark Torres, the team behind Cold Spots, will reunite for a new miniseries titled Phantom of the Scan.

The story is set 20 after a comet fell to Earth and gave people psychic powers, but they come with a price — every time you use your powers, you lose part of your life force. The story will feature a group of six psychics who come together to bring an end to their gift.

“You’ll see a lot of different psychic powers in the book — you might be familiar with some, others might be a little new to you,” Bunn said. “The ways different characters use their gifts will show some new angles to those ideas you’re familiar with. Our lead character, Matt, is perhaps the most unique: Matt is an omnipath — he possesses many, many psychic powers. All of his powers manifest through ‘a little dead boy’ — a ghost-like figure that accompanies him, invisibly, everywhere he goes. This ghost, Dorian, is decaying. Every time Matt uses a power, Dorian rots more and more, a symbol of how the powers are killing the user.”

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‘Hardened and thick’ Batman heads to Europe in ‘Batman: The Dark Knight’ miniseries

Tom Taylor and Andy Kubert send Batman to the UK on a very personal mission this April.

Ton Taylor and Andy Kubert are taking Batman on a European vacation this April — only it’s not the present-day Batman, but an older, “hardened” version of the character.

Batman: The Dark Knight features a Bruce Wayne with “a lifetime of broken bones but not a broken spirit” heading to the United Kingdom for a very personal mission.

“This series is a different take on the character than I had done before,” said Kubert. “Every story that I have done with Batman has been different in tone, and the art takes on a life of its own as the story dictates. Batman and Son, Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader and Dark Knight III-The Master Race along with Flashpoint Batman, had their own look and feel for that particular story. Batman: The Dark Knight is no different.”

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Marvel celebrates 30 years of Darkhawk this April

Danny Fingeroth, Mike Manley, Dan Abnett and more will contribute stories to a new anthology, ‘Darkhawk: Heart of the Hawk.’

Darkhawk, the hot character launch of 1991 (if you don’t count Sleepwalker), turns 30 years old this year, and Marvel’s celebrating with a new giant-sized anthology titled Darkhawk: Heart of the Hawk.

The anthology will feature three stories, including one by the character’s creators, writer Danny Fingeroth and artist Mike Manley.

“It’s an understatement to say that I’m thrilled to team up once again with the great Mike Manley to reveal an untold tale of Darkhawk’s earliest days,” Fingeroth said. “Hawkamaniacs are always asking me when we’ll be returning to the character we established, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to once again tap into the Darkhawk magic with Mike. Hope everybody enjoys this new tale of the high-flying, amulet-wielding hero!”

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Robin leaps out into his own series by Williamson + Melnikov

The new ongoing will launch in April.

Damian Wayne will become the latest Robin to branch out into his own ongoing series, courtesy of Joshua Williamson and Gleb Melnikov.

“Being a big fan of Damian Wayne, I’m really excited about getting him back on a hero’s journey,” Williamson said. “Gleb is the perfect artist to tell this story as we show readers Damian’s growth, in a new adventure that navigates his legacy, his connections to Batman, Talia Al Ghul and kicks off an important story in the DC Universe.”

Robin, now unaffiliated with either Batman or the Teen Titans, will investigate something called the League of Lazarus tournament, which he plans to enter and win to “prove he is the greatest fighter in the DC Universe.”

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Jane Foster soars again in ‘The Mighty Valkyries’

The new ongoing series begins in April.

Following Return of the Valkyries, the King in Black tie-in miniseries that’s currently in stores, Jane Foster, aka the former Thor and current Valkyrie, will star in another ongoing series, Marvel has announced.

As the title implies — The Mighty Valkyries — Jane Foster won’t be the only Valkyrie appearing in the series. She’ll be joined by the new Valkyrie, the one who looks more like Tessa Thompson, who debuted in the KiB tie-in.

Jason Aaron and Torunn Grønbekk will re-team as writers on the series, with Mattia de Iulis providing art. (de Iulis designed the new Valkyrie).

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Spurrier and Quinn put Nightcrawler at the center of ‘Way of X’

The new X-Men title will explore “the dark mysteries of the X-Men’s new way of life.”

With X of Swords in the back issue bins and the X-titles moving into what they’re calling ‘Reign of X,” Simon Spurrier and Bob Quinn are preparing for their own arrival on Krakoa. The duo will team up on a new title, Way of X, which features Nightcrawler, Dr. Nemesis, Pixie and Blink, among others, confronting “the dark mysteries of the X-Men’s new way of life.”

“I should probably just tell a lie for the sake of a neat elevator pitch and say that Way of X is a story about the creation of a new mutant religion,” Spurrier told Marvel.com. “But it’s not—not really. That’s kinda where it starts, for sure. Nightcrawler realizes something’s wrong with the hearts and minds of mutantkind and sets out to fix it. But as he quickly discovers, this isn’t a job for priests and prayers… The question is, what do they have to become in order to fight it? Preachers? Cops? Executioners? Or something entirely new?”

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Tom and Carla lock down 2020

Tom Bondurant and Carla Hoffman review the year that was for Marvel and DC, while looking toward the future for both companies.

From 2009 to 2015, Tom Bondurant and Carla Hoffman collaborated on year-in-review posts centered around DC and Marvel. Circumstances kept them apart for a while; but it turns out that being stuck in your house for months on end can also help you reconnect. Therefore, Smash Pages proudly presents the return of an annual tradition, as Tom & Carla lock down 2020!

[This conversation has been edited from an extended Slack chat that occurred in December.]


Carla: Okay, so main topics for the year I see right up front are production (company decisions, strategies, etc), story (what’s actually happening in the comics) and media (TV and movie stuff).

Anything else this doesn’t cover? What’s the most important of these do you think?

Tom: I would say the production side of things – shutting down Diamond for six weeks, plus all the DC layoffs and cancellations, and DC changing distributors twice (or at least 1 1/2 times). Didn’t Marvel have some cancellations as well? Feels like Marvel had a low-key year event-wise, although it went from Empyre to X Of Swords to King In Black.

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