Forward into the Past: Marvel solicitations for April 2021

Carla Hoffman dives deep into what to expect from Marvel in April.

Let’s take a moment, Dear Reader, to look forward to the future.  I know, it’s been a while since we’ve indulged in this sort of thing, the idea that the next few months could be predictable enough to make plans accordingly, rather than surviving by the seat of our pants.  But just in case the aliens don’t land, wild boars don’t mutate and dominate the East Coast, or that the comics publishing business won’t go belly up in a matter of weeks and lock down all new content from our humble shelves, let’s look forward into the past at the solicitations of April 2021 from Marvel Comics.

CROSS PROMOTION REPRINT APPEAL

Like it or not, Marvel Comics will now forever be tied with Marvel Studios, and it’s about time we start using that to our comic-loving advantage. We live in a world with cross market appeal more than ever, and it’s only fair that eagle-eyed fans start combing through the issues that led to our heroes getting the main stage. So, let’s look at two trades: Marvel-Verse: Loki and Marvel-Verse: Shang-Chi.  Both are quick collections of older material that give just a taste of the character in question ahead of their respective movies or series as well as how they connect to the rest of the Marvel Universe.  Loki will be on Disney+ by May so a quick trade of some Loki greatest hits to lure in a new reader is a great idea.  Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings should be out in July, so assume by April we’ll be looking at a trailer or some early scenes; if that teaser worked the way it should, you should not only be looking forward to a new movie, but want to drop by your local comic shop and pick up a quick primer on the Master of Kung-Fu.  New series on the shelves that reflect the changes in the character’s step to the big screen (or streaming screen?) are fine, but sometimes being able to sell a comic on what it meant to the people making those changes is just as good.

Marvel-Verse: Loki collects Amazing Spider-Man #503-504, Journey Into Mystery #626.1 and material from Avengers #300 and Silver Surfer #4. Marvel-Verse: Shang Chi collects Wolverine: First Class #9, Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #2, Marvel’s Free Comic Book Day 2011 offering featuring Spider-Man, Master Of Kung Fu #126 and The Legend Of Shang-Chi #1. Each are $9.99.

Another collection that caught my eye was the What If? The Original Marvel Series Omnibus Volume 1, but only because it collects What If? (1977) #1-15 and #17-22.  Not only is issue #16 — “What If Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, Had Remained Loyal to Fu Manchu?” — missing (because of a copyright issues with Fu Manchu), but so are issues #23-47.  What kind of omnibus doesn’t collect an entire run? I mean, for a solid $100, I’d go for the X-Factor by Peter David Omnibus hardcover; at least that includes his entire run, plus some tie-ins.

TWO AUTHORS LEAVING

In April we say a fond farewell to Donny Cates on Venom (Venom #200) and Ta-Nehisi Coates on Black Panther (Black Panther #25). Both authors wrote prospective books with a goal in mind. Both wanted to build up the lore and history around each character and take them into new directions which both achieved in different ways. Coates’ legacy on the Black Panther may not be as bombastic as King in Black, but he will be a definitive writer in years to come.

CELEBRATING HISTORY

Celebrate the 30th anniversary of the ’90s hottest hero, Darkhawk.  Seriously.  Stop laughing.  Apparently, Darkhawk: Heart of the Hawk #1 will be a whole new launching point for a character I honestly forgot about (sorry, Hawkamaniacs).  I like the approach however, as it is going to be a 40pg one-shot at $4.99 with three stories to remind you of this heralded character’s grand history.  An untold story from early creators Danny Fingeroth and Mike Manley, a cosmic adventure from Dan Abnett and Andrea Di Vito (probably around the time from Annihilation or War of Kings) and a glimpse at a new direction from Kyle Higgins and the mysterious “more”.  It feels like a test run, see how the book catches on and how it’s received before plunging into an all-new, all-different #1 issue which is a nice change of pace.  

Women of Marvel #1 will be another anthology-style book from several new women authors and artists. Marvel does these once and a while to moderate success, mostly I think because they’re not themed? Like, these are a grab bag of female heroes from what feels like a similar grab bag of women creators.  Marvel Voices is great because these are creators with a personal connection to the characters they are writing, a perspective that’s unique to the experience.  Being a woman is far too broad an experience in real life, let alone the Marvel Universe. Maybe an all women super spy collection, with new stories about Black Widow, Agent Carter and others in connection with the Black Widow movie finally coming out in May? A collection of writers all work on one Marvel woman and show how their personal writing styles compliment that hero?  I don’t think that much effort was put into this; no shade to the women involved in this book, but this is a $5.99 guess on the shelves at best. The final tagline being “You’re sure to come away powered up and ready to slay – in high heels and boots alike” kind tells me all I need to know.  #GirlsGetItDone

THE SACRED AND THE PROFANE

Way of X #1 fulfills Nightcrawler’s promise from X-Men #7 to create a mutant religion in the wake of their new island, new culture and new rituals.  While this seems weirdly out of character for such a known devout like Nightcrawler, I suppose it’s time, with everything he’s seen, to take his faith in a new direction.  There’s only so many times you can come back from the dead, watch loved ones do the same and not have your Catholic beliefs shaken to the core.  This idea could go pear-shaped if it wasn’t for Si Spurrier, who’s psychological take on Legion in X-Men Legacy proves that he can handle big concepts and still make them engaging and weird.

All these books and more arrive in April 2021; for more information, check out CBR’s full solicitation list.

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