Another round of solicitations will see print this coming Wednesday. Which solicitations caught my eye? Which should you avert your eyes from for fear of spoilers? Where might things be going with companies who have made their solicitations easy to find at this juncture?

Before I get into company specific stuff, there seems to be something different this year. Diamond Distributors seems to be taking the last week of December off, and nobody is shipping new stuff on December 30. Marvel’s got a promo that seems designed to keep people coming in the doors that day, though. More on that later.

DC Comics

Blackest Night: Issue six’s solicitation is very sparse. There’s a sentence revealing last month’s spoiler about the entity behind it all, and the rest is listed as “TOP SECRET.” The tie-in issues are another story. There are heavy spoilers in the text, and in the case of Green Lantern Corps #43, right there on the cover. I’ll list all issues involved with the event for those who would like to order them without spoilers. I’ll just include heroes mentioned as a focus, if I can do so without spoilers.

  • Blackest Night #6
  • Green Lantern #49 – John Stewart
  • Green Lantern Corps #43 – Guy Gardner
  • Blackest Night: The Flash #1 – solicit seems to answer a question people have about how The Flash: Rebirth will end. Be warned.
  • Blackest Night: JSA #1
  • Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1
  • Adventure Comics #5 – End of the two part crossover.
  • Booster Gold #27 – This has had a co-feature for a while, with Booster taking up most of the issue and the newest Blue Beetle as a second feature. The solicit sounds like the two parts may merge in this issue as the title characters team up.
  • Doom Patrol #5 – The Metal Men co-feature here, on the other hand, seems to be its own entity.
  • R.E.B.E.L.S. #11 – Harbinger and Stealth are prominent heroes.
  • Superman/Batman #67 – Part of the new in-continuity approach, this one features Solomon Grundy as one of the villains.
  • Teen Titans #78 – Ravager and Deathstroke feature.
  • The Outsiders #25 – Written by the same writer as Green Lantern Corps (Peter J. Tomasi), this is a tie-in more likely to be tied to the final outcome of the event than the others.
  • Justice League of America #40 – Like a lot of the team books, they seem to be facing fallen members.

Given that Blackest Night has now expanded quite literally into all but one of the DC titles I collect, my other comments will be brief. Kevin Smith and Walt Flanagan are continuing with Batman: The Widening Gyre in issue 4 of 6. The series will then take a break and come back for issues 7 to 12, which may or may not come in with new numbering and a new title, depending upon the time delay between story arcs. The Bat books continue as they have been; I haven’t been reading them. DC seems to be keeping Batman’s connection to the event confined to the Blackest Night: Batman miniseries, though there are hints that we’ll learn more about the fate of Bruce Wayne in Blackest Night. They’ve also got an 80 page one shot with a variety of characters and creative teams coming out. On the Superman side, we’re seeing a similar distance from the main event as that character’s corner of the universe keeps moving on its own track. Superman: Secret Origin #4 is solicited, and this week’s #1 was one of the most enjoyable books in my stack. For the rest of the DCU, we’ve got the forth chapter in J. Michael Straczynski’s run of Brave and the Bold which seems to offer JMS everything he needs: a huge cast of characters to pick from, and the dissociation with the rest of continuity to tell his stories his way without worrying about bleeding through and contradicting the latest crossover. The DC Holiday special tradition continues, and a new trade paperback is solicited continuing an older tradition: Superboy: The Greatest Team-Ups Ever Told seems to be the latest “greatest stories” collection. I’ve enjoyed those I’ve got so far. I’m not sure they’re really the greatest stories, but they do seem to be the most archetypal, providing a one-stop example of what each title character is all about.

Marvel Comics

Marvel’s got its own event launching this month, which could well be the event that brings the Dark Reign to a close. (In fact, nothing is solicited as a “Dark Reign” tie-in in December outside of trade paperbacks.) There have been rumours of the “Siege of ______” for a while, and now the Siege launches with covers that involve combat between Norman Osborn and another member of the Cabal. There are three related titles this month, including the December 30 promotional title I mentioned.

  • Avengers: The Initiative #31 – This seems to confirm more rumours and tie a lot of things together. It’s the first official crossover to the event.
  • Siege: The Cabal – When Norman first put the Cabal together, there was a shadowy figure in his closest that seemed to strike fear into everyone’s hearts. Bendis has said we’ll finally learn who that is in December. It sounds like that’s happening right here.
  • Origins of Siege – This 32 page promotional issue is free ONLY if distributed on December 30. It promises to lay out major players, and states that it’s “six years in the making.”
  • At this point, I’m getting into personal speculation, and that means there’s spoiler potential. You may just wish to skip on to the next paragraph. Continue reading at your own risk. I mean it. I’m not going to guarantee that the things I’m about to type are correct, but my predictions about this kind of thing pan out about 75% of the time, so there will probably be enough right to irritate some people. You have now been duly warned, so don’t blame me if you now read something that comes true and you end up mad at me. If we look back at what Marvel was publishing six years ago, we’ll be misled. I believe the “six years in the making” refers to where the creators were more than the publishers. Bendis tends to look a year ahead, so if we look at what was planned in late 2003 and published in 2004, we find Avengers: Disassembled, the launch of Astonishing X-Men and S.W.O.R.D. along with it, Alias mutating into The Pulse, and Nick Fury’s Secret War. These are the stories, usually penned by Siege: The Cabal scribe Brian Michael Bendis, which led ultimately to House of M, Civil War and Secret Invasion. These are the stories that sent Nick Fury underground, changed the Avengers roster, and created a general sense of distrust between the public and the superheroes involved. These are the stories that moved Norman Osborn into the position he now holds. Bendis has also said that he likes long-term stories, and that he feels it’s his resposibility to tell long-term stories when he has long term exclusive contracts. Well, the long term exclusive contract he signed in October 2004, just as Avengers: Disassembled came to a close, would mean that he’d be able to tell such long term stories up to and including, oh, now. We’ve seen several main events that divide Marvel heroes in that time, be they Avengers: Disassembled (Avenger vs. Avenger), House of M (Avenger vs. X-Men), Civil War (Pro-Reg vs. Anti-Reg) or Secret Invasion (real heroes vs. Skrull heroes). I’ve suspected this will culminate in an event that brings the heroes back together, united with a common cause against a common enemy. If you ask me, Norman Osborn has the mother of all targets painted on his forehead right now, and I think “Siege” will turn out to be the rumoured “Siege of Asgard,” and that it will bring Marvel’s heroes together once more, likely under the joint leadership of Steve Rogers, Tony Stark and Thor. The Marvel Universe has been a progressively darker place these past few years, and I think this may be the story that brings back some sunshine and rainbows, and leaves us in the classic “heroes vs. villains” stage instead of the “heroes vs. heroes” stage. End speculation and possible spoilers.

Marvel’s other notables are mostly unrelated to events, possibly in the calm before the storm. We get Captain America: Who Will Wield The Shield? determining whether it’s Steve or Bucky that keeps the mantle. Spider-Man keeps running the Gauntlet in Amazing, bringing back all of his old villains sequentially rather than simultaneously. We’ve also got Spider-Man and the Secret Wars retelling the original event from Spider-Man’s perspective and Spider-Man and the Clone Saga continuing the infamous event as originally planned. The Hulk line seems to have its own “Fall of Hulks” event coming, which I’m not particularly excited about. The multiple Hulks are a very new feature, so it almost feels like they were characters introduced just to fall in this event. I may change my mind as things approach, but I’m just not excited right now. The Iron Man corner is ramping up for the movie, with Iron Man vs. Whiplash and Black Widow: Deadly Origin both continuing while Black Widow and the Marvel Girls launches with two issues in the month. The Avengers corner sees two annuals for the Bendis-scribed Avengers titles (New and Dark) this month, while Mighty Avengers brings the Loki confrontation to a head with a guest appearance by Thor. The cosmic corner sees Realm of Kings building steam with its established series, and the X-Men corner has two notables in the mix. The first notable is the Nation X / X-Necrosha launch starting the next X-event. The second is the arrangement of the solicitations. Usually, similar and related titles are mixed together, with the X-family starting with Astonishing or Uncanny X-Men and ending with the Wolverine line. That pattern holds mostly true this month, with one anomaly: Deadpool’s three ongoing titles are now listed smack in the middle of the X-books. Perhaps things really are headed in the direction indicated by the latest issue of Daniel Way’s Deadpool book.

In Marvel’s other corners, the Noir titles are back with new Spider-Man Noir and X-Men Noir titles. The originals weren’t bad, but as my pull list grew, I cut the Noir titles. There’s potential for an Ultimate-like completely new Universe here, but when the pull list started to grow beyond its budget, the least enjoyable universe got cut. The Ultimate universe stays small in its relaunch, with the end of the four issue Ultimate Comics: Armor Wars miniseries, as well as the continuations of Ultimate Comics Avengers and Ultimate Comics Spider-Man wrapping up the line.