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Marvel Answers Their Questions...

Everyday heroes still look pretty superheroic to me...hmmm...

Who is Gus Beezer? Finally, Marvel answered that question, along with several other teasers they released to the web over the last couple of weeks. Not only that, there's still more to come.

But first, in the "Can't Beat the PR On This One" Department, Bill Jemas proudly announced a long-rumored project: 411.

Scheduled for release on April 9, 2003, the three issue anthology will focus on peace. According to Jemas, it will be "協illed with true and fictional stories of everyday heroes who are trying to bring peace to their part of the world, featuring the work of contributing writers and artists from Cleveland to Croatia協rom Hollywood to Hong Kong."

Among those contributors are many names from outside the industry, including Pulitzer and Tony-winning playwright Tony Kushner. Providing the introduction to the whole thing is Dr. Arun Gandhi. If you're wondering, yes, that is the Gandhi's grandson, and co-founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence.

Like I said, you can't beat the PR on this one. And it's pretty much critic-proof, as the mere effort is noble. With the kind of talent involved, though, it's also likely to be excellent. (And fairly priced, too, at only $3.50 per issue.)

Continuing in their real worldish vein, Marvel also announced the start of The Call as a continuing series. Chuck Austen and Patrick Oliffe will continue what they started in the publisher's recent series of mini-series about "the Marvel Universe's everyday heroes." I'll admit, I failed to pick up that this book took place in the regular MU, and from the cover by Gabriel Del'Otto, I think I missed a lot.

And now, back to those teasers:

Appropriately enough, Marvel has named this April deluge "Tsunami," which may or may not actually appear as a logo, like Marvel Knights, on all the books under its sway. A mix of old and new characters, Tsunami books are united in their efforts to bring a touch of manga to Marvel.

As many readers guessed, among the projects is a re-launch of Namor. The surprise comes from its approach: the early years of the avenging son of Atlantis, written by Bill Jemas and Andi Watson. To be released bi-weekly, the title gets to debut under the rubric of the quarter comics deal, so at least the sampling will be easy.

"4321匢gnition" turns out to be a Human Torch solo mini-series by Karl Kesel and Skottie Young. It promises to redefine the character. My only problem with that is that Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo have already been doing a bang-up job of that in the regular Fantastic Four book.

Who has the sillier hair?
The more obvious launches include a Venom mini-series, which promises a darker, more back to basics approach to the character, and a look at Mystique. One that many had thought was Dr. Doom ("Marvel's Newest Hero Has a Big Secret") turns out to be a damaged Sentinel. But as writer Sean McKeever admits, it's still "卆bout a boy and his giant robot," a clever way for Marvel to warp a long-standing manga tradition into the Marvel Universe.

In a non-manga vein, writer Gail Simone (who gives us all at Fanboy Planet hope) teams with artist Jason Lethcoe for three related one-shots under the title The Marvelous Adventures of Gus Beezer. Young Gus is an ordinary kid in the Marvel Universe who fantasizes about meeting his heroes, and the line between "real" life and Gus' inner one often blurs with hopefully funny results. As I called it last week, this one is an unabashed (and overdue) attempt to produce a real all-ages book for Marvel, but that will specifically appeal to younger readers.

(Simone gives us hope because she started out as an internet columnist, and a damned good one. And now she's living the dream.)

All in all, this makes April a potentially expensive month, but an interesting one. Is it all gold? We'll see.

Derek McCaw

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