Marvel is bringing star-smashing space-opera back with the War Of Kings event, hitting comics and the Internet, the company announced at New York Comic Con. Also coming: Norman Osborne's Dark Reign and an X-Men reboot.

In support of Marvel's latest space opera War of Kings, writers Christos Gage and Jay Faerber are working on an online-only series called Marvel King of Warriors to run from May through August and focusing on fan-favorite minor characters like the Inhumans' Crystal and X-Men characters Gladiator and Lilandra. Each issue will be broken up into 2 chapters, with each story running 8 chapters in all.

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We're most excited about the story dealing with the classic Fantastic Four villain, Blastaar. Christos Gage explained the series will explain:

how Blastaar became king of the Negative Zone. He was in exile, then he's king of the Negative Zone. There's a gap. How did he amass this army? He's a scifi barbarian, but he's not stupid. He takes a beating, dishes it out, because that's how you get to be the last man standing. He's a lot like the Gladiator from the movie Gladiator.

When it comes to the main War of Kings event, you should expect to see some familiar faces according to editor Bill Rosemann:

You've got to have cannon fodder. (Groans) This will be fought on many fronts.

One of the science fiction characters Marvel wants to focus on — and also one of the characters who has proven historically hard to make work — is the Silver Surfer. Rosemann again:

Surfer is the last jewel in the cosmic crown that needs to explode. (Everyone is horrified by this metaphor.) He works very well as a supporting character. We need to figure out how to use him, we don't want to rush him and ruin it.

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Over on the Earthbound side of the Marvel Universe, everything's coming up dark as Dark Reign continues to show what happens when Spider-Man's number one villain, Norman Osborn, gets to run the show — and dress up in his own Iron Man armor, to become the Iron Patriot. When asked if we'll see how Tony Stark feels about that recent development, Matt Fraction explained:

Yes, but Tony Stark will be sober.

The effects of Osborn's reign will be felt throughout Marvel's line, including new books announced today like Dark Reign: Fantastic Four, Dark Reign: The Hood (a new mini-series starring the villain created by Y: The Last Man's Brian K. Vaughan), and a new run of Amazing Spider-Man stories called American Son, which deals with how Norman's offspring, Harry, is newly confronting his Daddy Issues when Daddy runs the country.

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Osborn's rule even affects the Uncanny X-Men, as the Wolverine series gets retitled Dark Wolverine with its 75th issue this summer, and shifts its focus to Wolverine's son Daken, who has claimed the Wolverine name and costume for himself and gone to work for Osborn. We'll have more about this series - including comments from writer Daniel Way - tomorrow.

Children seem to be the dominant theme with X-Men right now; in addition to the fruit of Wolverine's loins, the franchise will start to focus on the mutant child born during 2007's Messiah Complex storyline with this year's crossover between the Cable and X-Force series, Messiah War, and there are hints that the child will be very important to X-Leader Cyclops... Perhaps because she has red hair and green eyes, like a certain deceased wife of his. But then, Phoenixes were always meant to return...

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The strangest announcement of the con so far came at the X-Men panel, when amongst announcements of a new New Mutants series (reuniting the original team from the early '80s), a new GeNext series, a French X-Men graphic novel and a painted X-Force series called Sex and Violence, X-Men Forever was announced. It's a series written by Chris Claremont that will pick up from the end of Claremont's original run on the franchise (1991's X-Men #3) and continue with all-new stories and its own continuity, taking series in a fresh new direction. Claremont described the series as:

New heroes, new villains, new adversaries. We are going off in a totally different direction from what I used to do, what I've been doing.

Does it still count as retro if you're also trying to do something new?

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