Thursday, July 14, 2011



(See end of post)

The mystery of the teaser-images that Marvel has been releasing grows ever clearer.
As I blogged about the other day - [HERE]), there have been daily teaser-images to a December 2011 event (?) that features characters shown only in outline, with descriptive words filling out the empty space within.

ALL of them carry the same tag-line:   IT'S EITHER IN YOU OR IT'S NOT.

To date, there are four images:







(Sadly, the poor design of this one ruins the series.
Seriously, they couldn't do this without actually rendering the surfboard?)


There are several alluded-to verbal clues in each of these images.
First of all, each character has various letters highlighted in 4 different colors.
It has been found online there are four different messages hidden within.
A very innovative puzzle from Marvel's promotional department (and, while really, anyone with a lot of time and minimum spelling skills could figure the solutions, we give kudos to those who have done so for us). 

Yellow: The universe will break
Orange: Shut the engines down
Red: Everyone you love dies
Brown-ish: Fight to save everything

It seems to be a dire warning of some cataclysmic event that will precipitate the union (or at least the participation) of these four characters (and perhaps others?).

Are the lines to be read as a whole message? If so, the poor grammar would indicate more of a prophesy than an actual stated phrase.
If not a unified message, is each colored message unique to members of this assemblage? And if so, how do we parse whose colored message is for whom?

Also, how do we know that these 4-word phrases are complete? While it seems that these four are likely to be the whole coded message, complete...there could be more words remaining in each one.

There is to be at least one more image forthcoming tomorrow (which I will post here as an update - or perhaps in its own post... we'll see). It could either be the full team assembled image, or yet another outlined character.

The clue of IT'S EITHER IN YOU OR IT'S NOT also leads us to look at the individual words within each of the figures. Besides HERO * one other easily found word shared between them all is DEFENDER.  **

Could this be the new DEFENDERS line-up?
Would Marvel release a team book that isn't in some way linked to the Avengers brand?
So, if so, perhaps the official team name may be the AVENGING DEFENDERS, or the DEFENDING AVENGERS? Why not the MIGHTY DEFENDERS? I don't know for sure, but I will say I'm eager to find out.

And if this IS indeed a new roster for the DEFENDERS, it it a slight departure from Marvel's usual formulaic habit of filling the team.
In times past, it was usual for Marvel to pattern each subsequent iteration of the classic "non-team" with either the same "big-4" original members; Dr. Strange, Namor, Hulk and Silver Surfer... or if any of them are to be replaced, it is usually with analogues.
In the most recent cases; the "LAST DEFENDERS" used; Hellstorm, Krang, She-Hulk and Nighthawk (a new Nighthawk, but still based on one of the old teams classic secondary members), and in "Fear Itself; THE DEEP" (which was operating under the working title; "Fear Itself; The DEFENDERS - as the pencils for the original art attest), the team consists of; Dr. Strange, Namor, Savage She-Hulk (Lyra, an alternate-universe future daughter of Hulk and Thundra) and Loa (a mutant X-Man turned-Atlantean).

So, how can marvel release a new Defenders line-up/ title if there are theoretically two other teams running around currently under that banner?
Well, "Fear Itself: The DEEP" is a mini-series, and like the Defenders classic mission-statement, is a by-product of there being a big-enough danger for one of the members to summon the others.
And the "Last Defenders" are technically disbanded, although they ARE appearing (perhaps in a non-current timeline) in the pages of the new mini-series; "Vengeance" (written by Joe Casey, their creator).
Besides, if there can be umpty-umpth Avengers teams and titles, why not share the Defenders wealth?
(Y'know... aside from the fact that the Defenders brand has zero marketability for Marvel.)

Aside from there being an apparent lack of the headstrong, brazen character-role that was filled by Namor, this is an interesting line-up. I must confess that I am a bit hard pressed to believe that this roster will remain for long. Fans of the Defenders want THE DEFENDERS. And whenever that line-up is not met, the fans tend to walk away.

Iron Fist is a great character, but he's not the usual "fit". He's much more in line with the way Doctor Strange USED to be handled in the title. Learned, patient, spiritual. Red She-Hulk can fill Namor's headstrong role as well as Hulk's usual smasher role, so that is fine. Surfer and Strange are both drastically different characters than they once were as well.
Surfer is now back to being the Herald of Galactus (unless that has changed in the past few months, of which I am unaware), and is of a darker-minded persona.
Stephen Strange is also changed. Although the extent of which truly depends on whomever is scripting the character at any given moment. He has been shown to be sullen, depressed, and weakened by his loss of the "Sorcerer Supreme" mantle in one title, and then capable, upbeat and mystically adept in another.

These images also bring forth one other question for Doctor Strange...
He is shown to be back in his classic outfit, complete with Cloak of Levitation, and a space for the Eye of Agamotto.
But these items had been lost to him over the past few years, along with the loss of his role as Sorcerer Supreme.
The Cloak was given to his successor, Brother / Doctor Voodoo, as was the Eye of Agamotto. However, the Eye was supposedly destroyed (you can read my intense dissection of that event [HERE]), and the Cloak was left ownerless with the apparent death of Voodoo.

Or are we in danger of being too literal in the visual representations shown?
Is his image shown in classic garb to be the actual case, or is that look being used just to clarify who he is, since his current wardrobe is not distinct enough for the outline treatment?  

Only time will tell.
What do YOU think?


* Footnote: UPDATE: Hrm... It seems there is a word missing from Doctor Strange's image. That word is HERO. I thought I had seen it there when I wrote this piece, but after posting it, I went back in to check it and no... it's not there. Now, I don't know why the word HERO would be left off of Strange's image, but it is. A small nit to pick, but one that makes me wonder... is he REALLY a Hero (or at least, a SUPER hero)? I really don't like him to be portrayed as a "super-hero", often stating that he works best as a true sorcerer. But, still, even if he is a mysterious outsider who may cross paths with other super-folk while crossing dimensions to battle demons from beyond, he IS still a HERO.

** Footnote: There is one word evidently missing from Iron Fist's image. That word is MIGHTY.
It appears in both; Dr. Strange as well as Red She-Hulk as they are both in the "MIGHTY" team from the wrap-up of the FEAR ITSELF event.
However, according to the teaser image (seen in my previous post [HERE], Iron Fist is as well.
Still, a small slip up. One hardly worth noticing - except by the very nature of the images, you are meant to pour over each word looking for clues and meanings.

As such, I still wonder what the "3" stands for in the image of Doctor Strange.
As I mentioned in the past post, Strange has a number 3 on his chin (under the symbol for infinity).

Iron Fist has a large "33", but I have since read in his bio that 33 is the age that most of the previous holders of the title of "Iron Fist" had died. And Danny Rand is now 33...

But the "3" for Doc is curious. Could it stand for the Vishanti? They are a tribunal. But VISHANTI is a word that is shown in his promo image.... so what is the "3"?

Can anyone think of what it might be?
Am I forgetting something?

Feel free to toss ideas in the comments section.


Marvel released the next (and "last" image) of the series, and it shows... THE HULK.

Interestingly... there is NO mention of the word "DEFENDER". Only "OFFENDER".
My take? Something happens with the HULK and the others need to gather to deal with this.


"Tamam Shud!"


Magus said...

I think they went with a classic image for Doctor Strange to make sure it resonated with those who don't follow the good Doctor as closely as us fans of the character. That is, unless the items are recovered in some inane fashion or are otherwise recreated. Honestly, I'd just like it if they could give us a somewhat emotionally consistent Strange as opposed to the borderline schizophrenic man we see scattered across different books.

The 3 has be befuddled as well. I'm going to go with it standing for the Vishanti, even though Agamotto is "dead."

Don Hudson said...

I think we will find out more in San Diego.

Arachne Solara said...

They released the Hulk teaser image. I'm not sure if that means he's part of the lineup, or an enemy. I know he was one of the original Defenders, but I wonder if he and Doctor Strange can work together since that whole WWH thing, when Hulk crushed Strange's hands as revenge for the good doctor's part in ejecting him out into space. Maybe there's bad blood between them now? Of course, it can all be retconned, I suppose.

Frankly, the Hulk has never much interested me as a character, and I have no idea what's going on with all the varicolored Hulks and She-Hulks and Baby Hulks and Hulk Clone-Kids out there now. A bit ridiculous. Didn't Betty Banner die of cancer that she caught from Bruce's gamma radiation? And now she's Red Hulkette, like her Daddy's the Red Hulk???? Totally missed that transition. Ah, well, comics...

It will be interesting to see if anything else comes up at the Comic-Con this weekend.

Arachne Solara said...

As a postscript, 33 is the age when the Iron Fists die, but wasn't it also the age when Doctor Strange had his car accident, which set him on the path of becoming the Master of the Mystic Arts?

And, I'm sure not coincidentally, the age of Jesus' crucifixion and apotheosis in Christian tradition. 33 must be a significant year for spiritual change, as far as writers are concerned.

I have no other ideas on the whole "3" thing. I look forward to finding out!

Don Hudson said...

Hate those ads!

Lee K. Seitz said...

Makes me want to do one with Rom: an outline with just the two, glowing red eyes. But I lack the time and ability.

~P~ said...

Thanks for all the feedback everyone!
Whether you love or hate these teaser images, you can't say they aren't producing some discussion - and that is exactly their purpose.

@ Arachne Solara,
Yes. I saw the Hulk image and wanted to post it the next day, but have been battling some crazy illness the past 2 weeks.
I managed to put it up as an update and also in a subsequent post (yesterday).

Also, I managed to get up-to-the-minute info on this from the Comic Con video feed and posted as a same-day entry (today).

Oh. As for Red She-Hulk, yeah, she was "dead", but she got better (thanks to the Leader and his "Intelligencia" team).
The mystery of who was RED HULK was an easy one that Marvel kept screwing up because Jeph Loeb just sucked so badly at keeping it a mystery, so they almost made it someone else.
But, when reading the last issue of World War Hulk, it was easy to tell it was ROSS.

And your deeper thoughts on the "33" are quite insightful... sadly, probably much more in-depth than what would be done in the comics.

Thanks though.
I appreciate your input and thoughts.
Thanks for your continued visits.

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