Slugfest | ‘Summer of Symbiotes’ leads to ‘Death of the Venomverse’

Plus: Marvel Artist’s Editions, Dark Horse graphic novels, Spider-Verse, variant covers and more!

Slugfest is a roundup of cool announcements about projects coming to a shelf near you. Hit the links for more information.

Marvel has revealed more details and a teaser image for Summer of Symbiotes, something they teased last October along with several other events for 2023. It’s less of a single-story crossover and more of a moniker they are using to describe a whole bunch of different symbiote-themed series, miniseries and events.

While many of the events teased on the image we’ve heard of before, like Carnage Reigns and Extreme Venomverse, there is one new one listed — Death of the Venomverse, which echoes the Death of the Spiderverse storyline we’re seeing in Spider-Man.

Here’s the description from Marvel:

It’s all leading to this! The epic adventures above are spiraling towards an explosive destination, and not all of your favorite symbiotes will survive the journey. The Carnage symbiote is more bloodthirsty than ever and heads to the multiverse for its greatest killing spree yet. But what is it after? Find out more when this upcoming limited series is announced at the Marvel Comics: Spider-Man & the Venomverse Panel at C2E2 2023!

C2E2 is coming up this weekend. Here’s the full teaser image:

… which is a homage to Jim Lee’s artwork from a Marvel Swimsuit Special from the 1990s:

Dark Horse will bring Murdervale to the U.S.

Dark Horse has announced plans to publish Murdervale, a horror graphic novel by Vicente Cifuentes that was originally published by Strip Art Features as a three-volume series.

Murdervale has been one of the works that have brought me the most joy personally,” Cifuentes said, “not only when I started to write it, but also after the years, seeing how fans keep asking me for a new installment. When I started writing the first book, I could not imagine what I was really creating, I used it more as an artistic and personal catharsis; I needed to release this story into the world.

Here’s the description from Dark Horse:

Victor and Sara are going through a rough spell. Stress from work leads to constant arguments, but when Victor collapses, the couple decides it’s time to go on a vacation—doctor’s orders! With no destination in mind, they get in the car and drive. They encounter a shopkeeper who tells them about a town so remote it isn’t even on the map. When they manage to find it, Victor starts to get the feeling the town isn’t what it seems. Worse yet, Victor’s medication is causing nightmarish hallucinations—but what if they’re real? Now, it’s no longer about making sure their relationship survives–it’s about making sure they do.

Look for it in bookstores on Sept. 19 and comic shops on Sept. 20.

More graphic novels coming from Dark Horse

Murdervale isn’t the only new graphic novel that Dark Horse has announced lately. In the coming months you can also look for:

  • Lost Boy, by Jay Martin with letterer Frank Cvetkovic. It’s about a young boy lost in the Wyoming wilderness trying to find his way back to civilization. It will arrive in stores starting on July 25.
  • The Horror, a graphic novel prequel to Joseph Conrad’s classic Heart of Darkness, by Lars Jacobson and Eduardo Francisco. It comes out in October.
  • As part of their partnership with Yoe Books, Cartoonists Against Racism will arrive in November, by Dr. Rafael Medoff and Craig Yoe. It tells the story of “how a Jewish organization enlisted some of America’s most beloved cartoonists to undertake a nationwide campaign against bigotry in the 1940s and 1950s.”
  • Cain, written by Walter Hill and Mike Benson with interior artist Beni R. Lobel, colorist Jordi Escuin Llorach and letterer Frank Cvetkovic, is “a thrilling neo-noir tale of a blind hitman operating in the gritty world filled with crime and violence.” It comes out in November.

More Marvel Artist’s Editions coming

IDW has announced four new Artist’s Editions featuring Marvel characters and creators, including Walter Simonson’s Fantastic Four Artist’s Edition, Bill Sienkiewicz’s Mutants and Moon Knights and Assassins Artisan Edition, John Romita’s Amazing Spider-Man: The Daily Strips Artist’s Edition and another printing of John Byrne’s X-Men Artist’s Edition. These join several others that were already announced featuring the artwork of Kevin Nowlan, Michael Golden and Frank Miller.

The Oddly Pedestrian Life of Christopher Chaos comes to print in June

The Oddly Pedestrian Life of Christopher Chaos, which debuted on James Tynion IV’s Substack last year, will come to print in June as part of Tynion’s deal with Dark Horse Comics. The first issue will have seven covers by Nick Robles, David Talaski and Isaac Goodhart, with some coming in virgin, foil and glow-in-the-dark variations.

The series, written by Tynion IV and Tate Brombal, with art by Goodhart, Miquel Muert and Aditya Bidikar, is about a teenage mad scientist who finds himself in a world of monsters, heroes and a cult of hunters out to kill them all.

Kelly Thompson’s run on Captain Marvel ends in June

cover by Carmen Carnero

Kelly Thompson’s time as writer of Captain Marvel will come to an end in June, as Marvel wraps up the series will issue #50. The double-sized issue will feature artwork by Javier Pina and David Lopez.

“I’ve worked with some of the most incredible people in the business – I’d list them all but at 50 issues it’s a truly massive list! – but I certainly have to call out editor Sarah Brunstad who brought me in and helped build this book from the very beginning. She has been a constant source of support through a run that I don’t think either of us ever imagined would be nearly five years deep and heading toward issue 50. While it hasn’t always been easy, I’m so proud of the stories we’ve told with Carol, but none of it would have been possible without the fans. Captain Marvel fans are some of the best comic fans – and humans – I’ve ever experienced, truly. So thank you for this run. We made it, but you all made it so loved, and so long. Thank you,” Thompson said.

Ngozi Ukazu is doing a YA OGN featuring Big Barda

Ngozi Ukazu, creator of Check, Please, will bring the New God Big Barda to DC’s young adult graphic novel line. Barda will be published in June of 2024.

“Barda is a story of a very tough soldier who slowly realizes that her loyalties are more complicated than it seems,” Ukazu said. “Barda is a great character because she is so complicated. She’s big, she’s mean, she’s tough. But on the inside, she’s very scared. But she’s a defender. The story calls her to be a bit more cruel than she actually is. And we start to see the tension. Does she like defending people or does she like causing pain? And she figures out who she is through the course of the story.”

Two new Spider-Verse characters revealed

Marvel’s upcoming Edge of Spider-Verse sequel miniseries will introduce some new Spider-sonas from across the multiverse, including one who makes their debut on a variant cover for the first issue — Spider-Killer, who will appear in a story by Zander Cannon and Guillermo Sanna. The cover, above, is by Josemaria Casanovas.

Then the cover for issue #3 reveals our first look at … someone. No, that’s not their name; they are a new character who will be introduced in Spider-Man #7 by Dan Slott and Mark Bagley, then their back story will be revealed in Edge of Spider-Verse #3 in a story by Slott and Humberto Ramos. The cover, above, is by Patrick Brown.

Who’s got the covers?

Let’s wrap things up with some variant covers you can expect from Marvel and more in the coming months. First up, Stephanie Hans has done a series of connecting covers for The Walking Dead Deluxe #61-66, which will begin to arrive in April:

“Stephanie came up with this awesome idea for a cover set right off the bat, and I knew from the start it would be really special, but I didn’t imagine how beautiful and haunting the final piece would be,” said Amanda LaFranco, Editor, Skybound Entertainment. “These connecting six covers capture just about every emotion The Walking Dead is known for evoking and Stephanie does an incredible job capturing the tension and chilling atmosphere of this iconic, ‘Fear the Hunters’ storyline.”

Here’s a look at them all connected:

Next, Marvel has a whole bunch of Spider-Verse variant covers planned for May, so many in fact that they released them in two batches. There must be a new Spider-Verse movie coming out or something. Here’s a look at all of them, which re-imagine various Marvel characters as Spider-Verse characters:

May also brings another round of “Stormbreaker” variant covers, featuring the artists that are part of that program at Marvel. These variants spotlight different iterations of the Guardians of the Galaxy:

Then in June, to coincide with the release of Ultimate Invasion, Marvel will release a series of variants featuring some of the “lost” Ultimate characters who went away when the Ultimate Universe was eliminated, including Storm, Elektra and Captain “You think this letter on my head stands for France?” America:

Also in June, Marvel will pay tribute to the legendary George Perez, who passed away last year, with a series of variants. According to Marvel, they’re working with his estate to collect rare drawings from Perez’s archives, which will be restored, colored and showcased on the covers of select Marvel releases.

“George loved his fans. He loved meeting them and he loved drawing for them. His joy was evident in every smile, hug and stroke of his pen,” Constance Eza of The George Perez Trust shared. “We are beyond thrilled and grateful that Marvel has conceived of this cover program to showcase some of his commissioned works to be enjoyed by fans the world over. We miss him terribly, but his art is part of a legacy that will continue to resonate for years to come. We hope you enjoy these never before published covers!”

Let’s wrap things up with one more from Image Comics, for the just-announced In Hell We Fight! The new series by John Layman and Jok will debut in June, and with it will come a variant cover by an unexpected artist: 16th century Renaissance painter Hieronymus Bosch. His 1482 painting The Last Judgment will be offered as an “incentive jam cover” with regular series artist Jok.:

“I’ve been very fortunate that a spectacular assortment of fantastically talented artists have graced the covers of my books over the years,” said Layman. “And that includes Christian Ward, Dustin Nguyen, and Ben Templesmith on the first three issues of In Hell We Fight. But I’ve never been more thrilled than to work with one of my all-time favorite Dutch Renaissance painters, and I’m equally sure that if Bosch was alive today, he’d be equally ecstatic to be featured on the cover of the first issue of my new Image series.”

I’m guessing the painting is probably in the public domain by now. Anyway, if you missed the initial announcement, In Hell We Fight! is about three kids condemned to Hell who rescue a kidnapped angel and start an epic trek across the netherworld to return said angel to Heaven. It sounds wonderful; look for the first issue on June 7.

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