Recap: In the first part of this article (haven’t read it yet? Click here, true believers!), we talked about Marvel Studios’ upcoming slate of movies and shows for the next three years. With what little tidbits studio head honcho Kevin Feige disclosed during SDCC and my years studying Marvel comic book lore (I wish there was a Phd reading comics), I came up with a list of graphic novels worth reading to get you ready for Phase 4. These are some educated guesses on what could possibly be in store for us fans. They may or may not be the actual plots in the end but it’s always fun to speculate. So without further ado, here’s part two:
Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness – Secret Wars by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic: Other than Wanda Maximoff co-starring in this sequel, plot details have been kept top secret. Based on that title though, it might be worth looking at the sprawling Marvel event Secret War as Doctor Strange played a huge role in that multiverse-spanning epic. After a massive cosmic cataclysm destroys the multiverse, the surviving realities are merged into one planet called Battleworld. A world at war with itself (imagine a world mixed with Ultrons, superhero zombies, hulks, mutants, ghost riders, and an army of Thors!), Doctor Strange serves as a guardian trying to maintain the peace!
Loki – Infinity Countdown/Infinity Wars by Gerry Duggan, Mike Deodato Jr., Aaron Kuder, and Mike Hawthorne: Since the SDCC announcement, we’ve gotten more information on the new Loki series – it’s been confirmed that this is the Loki that escaped with the Tesseract in Avengers: Endgame. This is a villainous version of Loki whose path has been altered so he won’t go through the redemptive experiences of Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok. Based on a photo of Loki walking through what appears to be Times Square in the Seventies, it appears that Loki will be wandering the time stream wreaking havoc. How he can do that with the Tesseract, a device known only for teleportation, has yet to be disclosed. In Infinity Countdown and Infinity Wars, Loki makes a play for the Infinity Stones and it takes him on a journey through time and space. While not exactly time travel, the journey brings out Loki’s heroic side, an ongoing theme for the character in the MCU.
What If? – What If: Infinity by Josh Williamson and a host of artists, the series will feature a narrator called the Watcher who will tell the stories of MCU characters in alternate realities where the outcomes of their movies turned out much differently. It has been reported that the episodes in this first season will center on the movies in Phase 1-3 (now being called the Infinity Saga). The best What If graphic novel to track down is What If: Infinity. Here the stories focus on different outcomes such as what would have happened had Thanos and his forces destroyed the Avengers? Or what if Thanos joined the Avengers to defeat an even deadlier threat? Or what Spider-Man villain got ahold of the Infinity Gauntlet? The outcomes in these stories are either dark or shocking so be prepared to see the MCU in a new radical light.
Hawkeye – Hawkeye Omnibus by Matt Fraction, David Aja, and other artists: When the logo was unveiled in SDCC, fans immediately knew which source material Marvel Studios would be basing Clint Barton’s new series on. It’s the same logo that was used in the solo Hawkeye comic title written by Matt Fraction. Kevin Feige’s mention in SDCC that Kate Bishop aka Hawkeye will be introduced further substantiated that the Hawkeye series will use Fraction and Aja’s storylines. In the title, Hawkeye holes up in a seedy old apartment building and must protect his neighbors from Russian gangsters trying to evict them. Kate Bishop as Hawkeye (already an established hero) helps Clint in his fight and also goes on her own adventures as well. The Hawkeye Disney+ series will differ from the comic by debuting the Kate Bishop character and showing how she’s worthy of the Hawkeye name.
Thor: Love & Thunder – Thor Vol. 1-3 by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman. There was no need to guess what plotline the fourth Thor movie would be adapting when Marvel announced that Natalie Portman was returning as Jane Foster to play Thor! In Jason Aaron’s epic saga, Thor becomes unworthy and is unable to lift Mjolnir. Jane, who has moved on from her romance with Thor, is now struggling with breast cancer. When she finds herself drawn to Mjolnir, she discovers she’s able to lift it and becomes the Goddess of Thunder. Much of the comic was first devoted to the mystery of who the new Thor was. And then it became about Jane Foster’s fight with cancer (every time she used the hammer, it exacerbated her illness) while dealing with a civil war in Asgard.
About the author:
JV Tanjuatco, comic book writer/editor/publisher, founded Comic Book Lab that publishes the comic book titles Mythopolis and War of Whispers (co-created and co-written by him). Comic Book Lab’s most recent project was the graphic novel anthology Stay: 21 Comic Stories authored by Palanca Award winner Angelo R. Lacuesta and illustrated by a stellar line-up of artists including Trese’s Kajo Baldisimo. He has also written articles/reviews for Spot.ph and Ain’t It Cool.