Marvel and DC Comics have been pulling out all the stops lately in their respective universes. The continued success of 52 and the earth shattering ramifications in Civil War has thrown wood to the fires between the industry's two giants. This summer appears to be in no shortage of kindling. If there has ever been a time to be in the front row for a fight in comics, it is definitely this summer. Here are a couple of the events that will reshape their respective universes.
World War Hulk:
It started a little over a year ago. The Illuminati, consisting of some of Marvel's top power hitters - including Tony Stark (Iron Man), Reed Richards, Professor Xavier, Black Bolt, Dr. Strange, and Namor the Submariner - decide that their long time friend and colleague Bruce Banner, aka The Incredible Hulk, was too dangerous to remain on Earth. So, they decided to shoot him into space with a charted course to a remote planet that might help their friend find some peace. At least that was the plan.
However, plans don't always go off without a hitch. Instead of Hulk landing on a peaceful planet, his ship met with an object in space that sent him off course, crashing on a planet that was wrought with war. When he first landed on the planet, Hulk was not too far from the mindless savage we have known him to be, but over the course of being a gladiator for the planet's rulers, starting and leading a rebellion, and then ultimately ruling the world, he has become something we have not seen from Hulk in many years - smart and brutal. Over the course of this past year, Hulk has had one thing playing repeatedly in his mind, the voice of Reed Richards explaining to him that they did this to him.
Well, now Hulk is coming home, and he is mad. The madder Hulk gets the stronger he is, and he has never been this mad before. He has also brought along friends to help him in his quest to "return" the favor he received back onto the people who did this to him. In addition to his rage, Hulk has something else going for him that the Marvel U may not be ready for. He is smart, almost as smart as Bruce Banner is. This past year has allowed the mind of Bruce to come out and keep the rage of the Hulk intact.
World War Hulk begins this May, and everyone that has ever stood in his way had better count his or her days. With the recent events of Civil War still fresh in everyone's minds, how long will it be before someone lets it slip that long time friend of Bruce Banner, Captain America, is no longer among the living, and the United States government and their Superhero Registration Act was responsible for that? Can anyone stop the Jade Goliath now that he is about to come face to face with his persecutors? Look for the answers to that and many more in World War Hulk in May with World War Hulk Prologue: World Breaker #1 on sale May 9, written by Peter David and art by John Romita Jr.
DC's mega weekly hit 52 is drawing to a close and there is war on the horizon. World War III to be more specific. At least that is the end result of the new mega weekly event from DC titled Countdown. Countdown will begin one week after the end of 52. It has been reported that it will involve everyone from the DC universe on one level or another. Much like everything else in comics as of late, the event begins with a death in the first issue #51.
Countdown will use the same methods similar to 52. For example, instead of focusing on the big guns like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, it will shed new light into the lives of several of the lesser involved yet equally important characters. Jimmy Olsen, Superman's pal, will take center stage this time around. It will explore just how connected Jimmy is throughout the DCU, and what he goes through when his pal Superman is busy when confronted with the likes of Lex Luthor and the Joker.
In addition to Jimmy Olsen, there is at least one character that has generated enough buzz around him to demand an exploration, Jason Todd. Some may remember that in the 80s Jason Todd was the second Robin that met an unfortunate end at the "request" of fans of the Batman books. Almost two years ago, Jason reemerged in the populace of DC and has brought a completely new angle to Batman concerning his sidekicks. What makes the fact that Jason Todd will be in Countdown as a focal character interesting is that he will be donning a new costume and identity. Dan Didio recently let it slip that Jason Todd will be the guy in the Red Robin costume, going back to the stellar bleak future overcast of the DC in Kingdom Come fans will be surprised by this move.
Another "Dan leak" reveals that the Flash in the picture will not be the Flash we have grown to know over the last year. That Flash, Bart Allen, who used to be Kid Flash before the events of Infinite Crisis caused him to become older and eventually become the current Flash, has other plans. The Flash that will appear in Countdown will be none other than Barry Allen, the "original" Flash who perished in Crisis on Infinite Earths in the 80s. It is not known currently exactly what role Barry will play throughout Countdown; only time will tell. Countdown begins on May 9th.
Comic events are nothing new; we all know that. In recent years though, the top two have been marking out new territory to explore. With each new event comes the possibility of change, and in comics change is always hard to take, but is one heck of a ride. Both World War Hulk and Countdown are definitely leading to a different landscape for their respective companies. If you have ever been or wanted to be a fan of comic books, now is the time to gear up and enjoy the unfolding wave of comic history.
CCC Freelance Writer