Over the years, Tom Brevoort has talked to many fans of Marvel Comics about the classic superhero stories of the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man, and while adored by many, he often hears how they're hokey, old-fashioned and irrelevant.
For those who don't want to read their granddaddy's old comics, Marvel is launching a Season One line of original graphic novels — the publisher's first — next year to honor the company's 50th anniversary. The hardcover books star a new, young generation of today's comic creators bringing a modern voice and sensibility to tales of classic Marvel heroes and teams.
"We're hoping to introduce folks who have never read any of these characters to these characters in this format, and also provide an interesting and illuminating story for people who have read a lot of Fantastic Four and Daredevil," says Brevoort, Marvel's senior vice president and executive editor.
"If you want to dip your toe in the water and find out the essence of what Marvel is all about, here is a nice place for you to start in big, sizable, meaty chunks."
The first wave of four graphic novels will include:
•Fantastic Four: Season One by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Stephen King's The Stand, Glee) and David Marquez (Secret Warriors), due out in February;
•X-Men: Season One by Dennis Hopeless (Legion Of Monsters) and Jamie McKelvie (Phonogram), on sale in March;
•Daredevil: Season One by Antony Johnston (Daredevil) and Wellinton Alves (Nova), in April;
•Spider-Man: Season One by Cullen Bunn (Fear Itself: The Deep, Sixth Gun) and Neil Edwards (Fantastic Four), arriving in May.
Brevoort says a second wave will debut soon afterward "that will get deeper into other characters, as well."
In teaming creators, Marvel looked at people such as Aguirre-Sacasa, who did a significant run on Fantastic Four a few years ago and also helped overhaul Broadway'sSpider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. "He's not someone who makes his daily bread on doing monthly comics. That gives his work a little more pop here," Brevoort says.
"We tended to gravitate toward newer, younger writers in the field. They have not been so far around the block that they're stuck down either by their own tropes or by the tropes of the medium."
Some might think this is a similar initiative as the Ultimate Universe, but the Ultimate comics that began in 2000 were overhauls of Marvel characters. Season One isn't the beginning of an entirely new universe, however.
"Everything you know about them, everything that's existed for the last 50 years still exists and is still there," Brevoort says. "These are individually new stories, even though they've got bits and pieces of old and formative origin stuff in and around them, as well."
They're not simple retellings of the origin stories, either. While you'll get a sense of that — such as the Fantastic Four shooting off into space and Peter Parker getting bit by a radioactive spider — the Season One graphic novels will focus on tales that define the characters and their relationships with each other.
"We know a lot more now obviously about what Spider-Man would grow into than anybody had any idea in 1962, and the same with Daredevil and same with the X-Men," Brevoort says. "We're able to act with a little more forethought and foreknowledge as to how these characters will grow and evolve during that period."
The Marvel books of 1961 — when the Fantastic Four first burst onto the scene thanks to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby— were the cutting edge of storytelling for the time, giving quirks and differing personalities to superheroes.
But comics are more sophisticated and cinematic in 2011, Brevoort says, and the nuance and subtlety of a more modern era will be reflected in the new line — along with certain touches of today such as cellphones.
The marketplace for the hefty graphic-novel format and increasing acceptance of it has also grown to the point where "there are plenty of more ordinary people who maybe don't feel so comfortable reading an average comic book on the train, but who don't think anything about reading something in a trade paperback or graphic-novel format. These are perfect outreaches to that kind of audience," Brevoort says.
"A contemporary will find more to their liking hopefully and more to their speed than simply going back and re-reading the early Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. Although we welcome you to do that, as well."
Marvel Season One Exclusive First Look
by Brian Truitt USA Today Jul 19, 2011
Marvel launches 'Season One' superhero graphic novels - USATODAY.com