San Diego Comic-Con 2023 was a different event for Marvel compared to previous years. There was no Marvel Studios to help prop up the brand with new MCU movies, live-action shows, or animated projects to fill-up the SDCC 2023 schedule. That meant it was Marvel Comics time to shine.
For Marvel there was also a different approach to their SDCC 2023 announcements compared to their rival DC Comics as they did release their October 2023 comic book solicitations ahead of the convention. We saw that with how many of Marvel Comics announcement involved what to expect to wrap up 2023 in November and December. With that in mind let’s breakdown the biggest comic book announcements from Marvel at SDCC 2023.
SPIDER-MAN & DAREDEVIL LEAD GANG WAR
The most surprising thing about Marvel’s October 2023 solicitations is the fact the only event-like comic book that they are publishing that month is Jonathan Hickman and Valerio Schiti G.O.D.S. Now we know this an abnormality rather than what will be the rest of 2023 for Marvel as they announced the Gang War crossover. The crossover event will feature Spider-Man, Daredevil, She-Hulk, Luke Cage, and Spider-Woman trying to stop the Gang War warring factions led by Mr. Negative, the Owl, Shotgun, Diamondback, A.I.M., and Hydra.
Spinning out of the growing gang war teased to take place since Zeb Wells and John Romita Jr. began their run-on Amazing Spider-Man, Gang War will be a crossover event involving Marvel’s street-level heroes. Along with Amazing Spider-Man and Miles Morales: Spider-Man ongoings being involve Spider-Woman, Elektra’s Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Shang-Chi getting dedicated mini-series while She-Hulk is also teased to be involved in Gang War.
An immediate red flag when it comes to the Gang War crossover is that there is no dedicated mini-series that is the focal point of the entire storyline. Instead, it appears as though Marvel is going with the approach they went with the Spider-Man and X-Men crossover event, Dark Web, where we have a bunch of different comics telling the same story from different perspectives. This does not create a lot of confidence as it could easily lead to a convoluted story that Marvel is asking a big financial investment for from fans.
Now on a pure character side of things I will say I’m glad that Luke Cage and Spider-Woman are getting new mini-series. Both are long overdue for new comic books where they are the lead. Luke Cage in particular has been placed on standby since becoming Mayor of New York City at the end of Devil’s Reign. It also appears that Elektra will continue to operate as Daredevil after Saladin Ahmed takes over the main ongoing series. At the very least I was hoping Elektra would adopt a variation of her Daredevil costume even if she stopped going by Daredevil, so her continuing in that role is good to see.
NEW PUNISHER DEBUT
The death of Frank Castle at the end of the most recent Punisher series is something that would mean Marvel is permanently taking the character off the table. Punisher is way to popular in terms of the stable of characters to be gone forever. Now we know that at least for the moment while Frank Castle’s death is sticking the Punisher title is returning. As Marvel has done with Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine, Thor, Ghost-Rider, and so many of their other iconic characters there is going to be a new Punisher to fill Frank Castle’s shoes.
The new Punisher will a new character Joe Garrison, a retired S.H.I.E.L.D. black ops agent. While Marvel is trying to play coy with the origin story for Joe Garrison it won’t be surprising if what leads him to become Punishr will mirror what happened to Frank Castle. This also gives Marvel another excuse to create a yet another version of the Punisher logo after changing it last year when Frank became the leader of The Hand and the real-world political issues with who co-opted the Punisher logo.
Now in terms of interest it is very low for this new Punisher series. Outside of Jason Aaron and Steve Dillion’s great Punisher MAX run I’ve never really been a big Punisher fan. Having someone new adopt the Punisher mantle does nothing to add interest to the character. Similarly the creative team of David Pepose and Dave Wachter is not a big driver for this series. Pepose’s Savage Avengers run was fine but nothing impressive. So with all those factors unless this new Punisher series gets critical acclaim it is a pass right now.
DOCTOR DOOM TAKING OVER THE X-MEN
Something that has been obvious from the Fall season solicitations from Marvel is there is a high likelihood that there would be no official X-Men team announced at this year’s Hellfire Gala. Based on the solicitations for X-Men #25 to X-Men #27, which take place after Hellfire Gala 2023, there will be no team focus. Rather the focus will be on one-shot style stories for Captain Kate return as Shadowcat, Tony Stark and Emma Frost’s wedding, and Cyclops in each issue. Now Marvel is teasing the fact we won’t get the new official X-Men team until sometime in 2024.
While not stated there being no official X-Men team for the rest of 2023 is likely related to the ongoing Fall of X storyline for the franchise. Not having the X-Men around could be a major reason why things look so dire during Fall of X. This also aligns with how Jean Grey will be off the table on her own adventure and Madelyne Pryor is leading the Dark X-Men, with both mini-series not coincidently concluding at the end of 2023.
Though some of the previous X-Men will be kept busy as Doctor Doom looks to take advantage of the Fall of X chaos to try to create his own mutants team. Doctor Doom trying to create his own X-Men of Latvaria is something that has been teased for a while now. Going back to both the X-Men and Fantastic Four crossover and during the first Hellfire Gala, Doctor Doom taking action against Krakoa been long in development. Using Fall of X to accomplish his plans for the mutants is something Doctor Doom would do. This story along gives the X-Men series content for the rest of the year without an official team, though we may be getting a temporary team of Cyclops, Logan’s Wolverine, Shadowcat, Firestar, and Ms. Marvel.
GREG CAPULLO RETURNS TO MARVEL WITH DEADPOOL
In the past big conventions like SDCC was where we would see announcements of major creators jumping ship or joining Marvel and DC comics. We haven’t gotten that in a while, which made the official announcement Greg Capullo is making his return to Marvel a bigger deal. For now Marvel hasn’t announced a big project with Capullo as the artist. Instead, Capullo will be working as a cover artist for Marvel, with his first two being for Deadpool: Seven Slaughters #1 and Wolverine #37.
While currently working on covers we could see Capullo work on a future series. We know that Capullo was previously offered to work on Wolverine for Marvel a while back. Maybe we will see Capullo work on a Wolverine story arc or another series now that he is working for Marvel again.
MELISSA FLORES NEW SPIDER-GWEN SERIES
Of everything that Marvel announced at SDCC 2023 it is one of the announcements on the last day of the convention that I’m most excited about. That project is Spider-Gwen: On Tour. Since her debut I’ve been a big fan of Spider-Gwen but what makes her new series immediately jump up to one of my most anticipated comics of the year is the creative team.
For a long time, I have been hoping Melissa Flores would work on Marvel projects. Her work on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Radiant Pink, and Dead Lucky has shown that Flores is one of the most talented writers working in the industry. Enid Balam work on both 2021’s Hawkeye: Kate Bishop and New Mutants Lethal Legion was very good. Both Flores and Balam together should make for an excellent comic book in Spider-Gwen: On Tour.
The premise for Spider-Gwen: On Tour also sounds like it will be taking place on Earth-65, rather than Earth-616 where Spider-Gwen has been hanging out the last few years. That’s because of the mention that Gwen will be hitting the road with her band, the Mary Janes. Hopefully that is the case as there is still a lot of potential with Spider-Gwen having adventures in her own universe.