Punching Through Reality #7
Former Spawn Character Punches Through Reality and Lands in the Middle of Age of Ultron
By Ryan Miller
In a recent bit of left-field news, Marvel have apparently announced that Neil Gaiman is returning to comics sooner than we expected. As you may be aware, an announcement at SDCC filled everyone's news-feed with excitement when Neil Gaiman told the world of his intentions to return to the Sandman property with a prequel to the aforementioned Vertigo series. I, for one, was elated.
More than six months later, I find it strange that while we know the ever-talented JH Williams III is providing art for the project, very little else is known. We know it's a prequel that one could speculate might exist because of the success of Before Watchmen and we know the story takes place and leads up to the first issue, but beyond that I haven't read any news on the topic. Since this is such a big property and this bit of news nearly overshadowed everything else at the convention, you'd at least expect some form of follow up. If I've been hiding under a rock and am oblivious to any further news, I apologize.
Stepping out of my time machine today, I checked my news-feed and discovered that Gaiman and Marvel announced they were teaming up for an issue of Guardians of the Galaxy, a property currently being written by Brian Michael Bendis. Gaiman will be joining Bendis for issue number five, which will be out later this year. Don't worry, if that were too simple for you, it gets weird.
Gaiman has written comics for Marvel before, having scribed the 1602 miniseries and The Eternals miniseries in 2003 and 2006, respectively, so it's not really a surprise he'd decide to work with the company again. The real shock was that the announcement also heralded a new character introduced into Marvel's universe, namely Angela. For those of you too young to remember the 90s, sitting with a furrowed brow, and wondering just exactly who or what that is, I come bearing the gift of knowledge.
Angela was a character created by Neil Gaiman for Spawn #9. Yes, that Spawn. A bounty hunter for Heaven(Yes, that Heaven) , Angela occasionally tussled with the titular character in Todd Macfarlene's Spawn comic series. Gaiman created several long-running characters for MacFarlene's book and recently concluded a long-running legal battle over rights to particular characters, though not necessarily ones he created for Spawn. The name Miracleman(read: Marvelman) might mean something to you. Or not. Regardless, until we see her debut in the finale of Age of Ultron, we comic readers may only guess as to how she will fit into the Marvel universe proper. If anyone has any any connection and could comment, I'd be glad to hear it. If anyone doesn't have any connection and has a wacky idea, I'd be glad to hear that too.
Rich Johnston, the clever bastard over at Bleeding Cool, wrote an article a few days ago regarding the super-secret ending to Age of Ultron and cleverly hid the name ANGELA into his post by adding the previously noted letters in sequential order as the first letter to each sentence. In the article, Rich claimed to know at least some part of the conclusion and added that he wouldn't be spoiling the surprise. Shortly after, the trumpeted cries denouncing him a "LIAR!" were prevalent. I guess the joke's on them. Clever bastard, indeed.
With all that out of the way, many of you may be wondering exactly why this is even happening. While I have no source close to the subject, I can use my crystal ball to see the possibilities. Grabbing Neil Gaiman to write a fringe title soon to be a movie is a great idea and great publicity. James Gunn's adaptation of Guardians of the Galaxy will be hitting the box office next year and Marvel is doing everything to make sure the world knows who they are beforehand. Giving the book to Bendis for Marvel Now! was a good start, but dropping a Gaiman-sized bomb on us is sure to pique the interest of more than just a few who wouldn't normally pick it up. I can imagine Gaiman is at the top of the list of well-known comic writers who could have such sway with his audience, while Alan Moore and Frank Miller wouldn't be far behind. If I had to guess, Alan and Frank aren't even that likely to answer phone calls from Marvel.
The name Gaiman brings to the table also brings more than just comic readers. Having written more than a few books of prose and poetry, Gaiman also brings a whole other crowd that might be tempted to pick up the book. Good move, methinks.
You might not know, Neil Gaiman is also married to Amanda Palmer of Dresden Dolls and, well, Amanda Palmer fame. Having recently been given the chance to attend one of the duos NINJA GIGS, a free concert/reading/Q&A session announced less than 24 hours beforehand, it seemed there was no shortage of fans offering up home-baked goods and praise to the couple, even with no promotion for the shindig. If only I knew what was coming.
With this news in effect, I look forward to more announcements from both Gaiman and Marvel. Funny enough, I now look forward to Guardians of the Galaxy #5, a series that I initially didn't give a shit about. It seems your strategy worked Marvel. Well played.