G4 broke the news that Kathryn Immonen and Tonci Zonjic will collaborate on HERALDS, the “Marvel Women” event that there’s been some rumbling about. She-Hulk, Emma Frost Valkyrie, Hellcat, Agent Brand, and Monica Rambeau will get involved in a weekly five-issue mini dealing with a long lost herald of Galactus. Here’s the segment.

To be honest, this is kinda a cool idea. These are all strong characters, easily able to carry their own story. In the segment, Zonjic’s art looks very appealing. No one is being felt up by a squid on the first cover, and if it stays that way, things will be just peachy.

A while ago we mentioned that the whole “Women in Comics” thing has three aspects to it — women as readers, women as characters and women as creators. Marvel’s Year of the Women has hit the last two pretty well; let’s hope the first one follows.


  1. I’m just glad it’s not HER-ALDS…

    I think this project is a good step forward, because it spotlights female characters and creators without hanging a big sign on it that says HEY LOOK IT’S A GIRL BOOK and it’s not about who they’re dating.

    Of course, the next step is more stuff like this in ongoing books, and better roles for women in the “big” titles.

  2. Holy cats! An all-female Avengers team! Good.

    Nice to see Monica Rambeau moving up in the world. She’s a good character who got knocked down a few pegs back when Marvel was trying to assert a different Captain Marvel in her place. I’ll be keeping an eye for news on this series…

  3. Oh I was all ready to pass on this, until I realized the artist is the same one from Marvel Divas. LOVE her work! MUST purchase now, darnnit!

    Oh and but man, Marvel really needs to get some new pubilicity text going. That whole “Cities will fall, worlds will die, and someone will return to change the Marvel Universe forever.” has gotten SOOOOOOOOOO old. SO old. Old, Marvel. It’s OLD.

  4. “I’m just glad it’s not HER-ALDS…”

    Which itself sounds like the name of a touching Lifetime movie about a young woman’s quest to not only compete in Major League Baseball but also to make the post-season.

    But maybe I’m just punchy for opening day…

  5. Is it good or bad that HERALDS will apparently be based on a retcon? There’s already been a storyline about Galactus’s first herald, the Fallen One. Prior to that story, the Silver Surfer was considered Galactus’s first herald.

    I’m sorry about being negative, but didn’t it occur to anyone at Marvel to check Wikipedia or something else for a list of Galactus’s heralds?


  6. It makes me wonder whether there actually is anyone at Marvel Editorial who functions as a story editor and considers the possibility of continuity conflicts that will damage the premise for a story. Granted, I have an exceptional memory, but the THANOS storyline about the Fallen One was based on the entity being Galactus’s original herald. Are retcons and continuity conflicts now considered so routine that they shouldn’t interfere with a good idea for a story?


  7. Synsidar: Given the “mysterious character named Francis”, I was assuming the long-lost herald returning was Frankie Raye, but who knows.

    “Are retcons and continuity conflicts now considered so routine that they shouldn’t interfere with a good idea for a story?”

    I kind of hope so.

  8. The Wikipedia entry on Frankie Raye, aka Nova, indicated that she is definitely dead, so bringing her back would be a crude retcon.

    IMO, any continuity conflict that a creator is aware of can potentially be worked around. If the history of Galactus’s heralds prevented “Francis” from being one, then the character could have worked with a different planet-destroyer, or been a powerful character on a somewhat different mission. Dismissing a continuity conflict because it interferes with the first idea for a story isn’t warranted, IMO.


  9. I’d rather see Monica Rambeau back in the best Marvel comic ever, NextWave. But hey, if we can’t have that, might as well do something like this. I really hope Marvel sticks with a few of these books for a while because I think the sales will be initially low, but can find an audience if they stick around for a bit.

  10. I think it’s odd that a news story that mentions a dead female herald of Galactus being resurrected is greeted with the response that it must be ignoring history because Frankie Raye’s dead. Well, yeah. She’d kind of have to be to be resurrected.

    Marvel should hew to established continuity by only resurrecting the living, dang it.

    This looks like lovely art, and Kathryn’s a terrific writer. Even the lettering we see looks distinctive and engaging. I’m in.

  11. A couple of points:

    If the former herald is Nova, then she hasn’t been long lost, in terms of Marvel time, or even lost. She was killed by Morg, Galatcus’s herald at the time. According to the Wikipedia entry, she was already brought back falsely once before by Mephisto.

    So, how does a writer go about bringing her back? Does she assume that most of the readers won’t have seen her before, so her death doesn’t need to be explained away?

    Does she think that the death does need to be explained, so several pages will be devoted solely to an explanation of how she appeared to die, but didn’t, or managed to escape Death’s realm? If there is an explanation, will it hold up under scrutiny, or will some future editor or writer think that the explanation offered in HERALDS was a load of shit, and retcon Nova into being someone else?

    When NEW AVENGERS: THE REUNION was done, Mockingbird was known to be in Mephisto’s Hell, but McCann apparently didn’t want to deal with that, so he claimed that Mockingbird had been abducted by Skrulls months before. The miniseries wound up with a lot of material devoted to her imaginary period of captivity, which only served to show that the Skrulls didn’t have a plausible reason for abducting her. If McCann had done the right thing and had her freed from Hell, he could have made that background material, referred to it occasionally, and made most of the miniseries about the adventures of Barton and Mockingbird.

    Trying to retcon a situation into something else often winds up subverting the writer’s original intent, which was to write an entertaining story about ____ and ____. If the character’s history prevents the writer from using _____, then it’s probably better to create a new character that will work (nearly) as well, and not bother trying to devise a retcon that will fall apart under any kind of scrutiny.


  12. At this point, then, don’t many of your concerns just boil down to “I hope this story is done well.” ?

    Even if the scant details given about the story are enough to make you doubt that it will be done well, it’s probably of limited usefulness to either (a) expend a great deal of energy worrying that the story won’t be done well (until the thing is actually published and reviewed, or at least until more story details are revealed) or (b) concluding that, obviously, it won’t be done well.

    That said, “where does this long-lost herald fit into the established history of Galactus’s sidekicks?” seems a perfectly reasonable question to be asked should some media/blog/whatever get a chance to review the book or interview its creators.

  13. Not to open the door for horrible stories about former heralds of Galactus coming back from the dead or anything…
    but I recall reading the first Galactus story in that wonderful giant-sized FF Treasury Edition, and my impression at the time was that Galactus must’ve been around for a really really long time. Millions of years even. OK, let’s say thousands, just for argument’s sake. So it stood to reason (at least to me, anyway) that the Silver Surfer must’ve been around for a good portion of the time too. That is, until Stan Lee introduced Shalla-Bal in the Silver Surfer’s own comic and established that she was still alive; so the Surfer was not thousands of years old unless some weird time travel was involved involving Shalla-Bal.

    But then Stan Lee did his own retcon and introduced Gabriel the Air-Walker as a previous herald of Galactus. Now, with 40 or so years of stories featuring Galactus, he’s gone through approximately 5 or 6 heralds during that time. That’s not a lot of job security or stability. So it leaves the door open for entire hosts of long-gone heralds.

    Now, I’m not looking forward to stories of “newly discovered” long-lost heralds, but that’s still an awful lot of wiggle room for introducing new characters. (Or at least of introducing a new character with a name that Marvel holds the trademark for.)

  14. Continuity quibbles aside, I’m stoked if it is indeed Frankie Raye coming back, as I always loved that character. I also think this would be a great opportunity to launch a new Silver Surfer ongoing *coughcough* and give her a prominent place in it. Either that, or involve her in the Abnett-n-Lanning cosmic books. Either way, consider me officially excited.

  15. At this point, then, don’t many of your concerns just boil down to “I hope this story is done well.” ?

    If a writer’s not good, then it doesn’t matter how the character is brought back — or what characters are used. I’m mainly concerned with knocking down the argument commonly phrased as “Continuity shouldn’t interfere with a good story.” People tend to agree with that, but the statement itself is practically meaningless. Small errors in details that don’t affect the plot aren’t important. Plot discontinuities that wreck the plot are important. An error in the description of a character’s background doesn’t harm the story significantly, although it’s a distraction. Character discontinuity that changes a heroine into a completely different person wrecks the entire story, regardless of anything else the writer does. Routinely treating death as a disappearance that will end whenever a writer brilliantly devises a retcon that will eliminate the death turns stories that are dependent on death for their emotional impact into bad jokes. Writers who pride themselves on their creativity and attention to detail should be able to do the work necessary to write a story without relying on a retcon, even if it means discarding one, two, or three story ideas.


  16. i have to say I *eyerolled* when I heard about the idea of Heralds, but now with a looksie, and it looks great, I’m now interested! :)

    And Blair is always cool.

  17. I like the how reporter infers that Monica Rambeau is a “heavy-hitter” in the segment about HERALDS, and then goes on to call the cast of NEXTWAVE a bunch of D-Listers moments later. Not faulting her for it. Just saying.

  18. I always hope that we’re entering an era where we stop trying to rationalize 70-odd years of stories as “actually happening” to a given character. Can’t every comic just be a riff or interpretation of a theme (like stories about Robin Hood or Hercules) rather than part of a narrative sequence of events? Wouldn’t that be a nice, sane way to read superhero comics? Is this falling tree even making a sound?

    As Alan Moore said, they’re ALL imaginary stories! :)

  19. Can’t every comic just be a riff or interpretation of a theme (like stories about Robin Hood or Hercules) rather than part of a narrative sequence of events?

    That would be a great approach to take if stories were published as graphic novels, once or twice per year. Take a character, establish the setting and his basic aspects, and write a story. If I were to do a Vision & Scarlet Witch novel, the rest of the Marvel Universe would hardly matter. It would be nearly straight fantasy fiction. Marvel insists on publishing series, though, and tying series together. When the basis for tying the series together is flawed, readers who pay attention to details are irritated or angered.

    Readers have been making allowances for years, accepting writers who follow the “illusion of change” policy, because stories could still be entertaining and exceptional writers could develop characters. But when a writer such as Aguirre-Sacasa writes slice of life pieces that are immediately throwaway issues because there’s no plot, and a writer such as Bendis retcons a character so that he’ll fit into a formula plot, there appears to be no pressure on anyone but the artists to work, create, and produce material that’s worth paying for.

    In the case of Marvel’s mutants, it’s possible that all the reasonable story ideas have been done. Look at UXM. On one hand, you have Fraction trying to recreate the ’70s mood, when the mutants were poor and persecuted, and struggling in vain to recreate the X-gene, and then you have him referring to John Sublime and having villains replicate the mutants’ powers, which means they’re recreating the X-gene, doing what none of the mutants can do.

    If coming up with stories that work within a shared universe is becoming a burden, then it would be better to abandon the idea of a shared universe and publish only standalone GNs.


  20. Luckily I haven’t read too many Frankie Raye’s earlier stories. Or her Wikipedia entry. I’ll have to make sure to avoid them for fear they’ll pre-con this series (which looks pretty good).

    Synsidar, was your reference to the Mockingbird story intentional, since Kurt Busiek wrote the story where Mockingbird was glimpsed in Hell? I can’t imagine he has a problem with the contradiction.

  21. Synsidar, was your reference to the Mockingbird story intentional, since Kurt Busiek wrote the story where Mockingbird was glimpsed in Hell? I can’t imagine he has a problem with the contradiction.

    I cited the REUNION storyline because it was an example of a retcon causing more problems (including invalidating the premise for “Secret Invasion,” since the dead Skrull didn’t revert to her original shape) than it solved.

    People should be upset when such retcons are used, because it’s a cop out by the writer, the equivalent of a prose writer using white space to get himself out of a jam: “Oh, so you’d like to know how the hero got himself out of that unclimbable pit with the snakes? That’s my secret. You’re free to guess.” The retcon is, essentially, an admission by a writer that he’s not capable of assessing characters and their themes and crafting storylines that work with them. If an editor regarded such retcons as invitations to find other writers for the series he handles, the use of them would stop.


  22. I think the shared universe can work without strict continuity, as well, because things are forgotten over time. A writer working on, say, an interaction between Spidey and the Vulture, simply can’t hold in her head every conversation those two have ever had in order to make the interaction realistic. Writers are approaching their assignments as if they were standalone stories anyway because that’s all you can do. At best, writers approach issues as if they were episodes of a TV series which still limits the “writing memory” to a few recent seasons of continuity.

    Point being, the current shared universes contain contradictions and forgotten elements that even the most ardent fans and skilled editors can’t help. If we “forgive” that (for lack of a better word) as well as larger continuity gaffes that don’t alter the characters, and enjoy the stories they tell for the moment in time they represent it just seems more . . .

    how do I put it . . .


  23. Point being, the current shared universes contain contradictions and forgotten elements that even the most ardent fans and skilled editors can’t help.

    I agree with that, but how many complaints about continuity glitches are actually about minor details, such as something talked about before, or a change in a costume? The complaints about continuity that I see online are about things that derail a story’s plot or violate characterization. The fact that continuity can’t be perfect doesn’t allow a writer to ignore continuity.


  24. Ooh, I don’t generally like Marvel (after a certain spread of Black Cat wearing nothing but a bathrobe they did), but this looks awesome! Good to see it isn’t titled ‘Girl Comics’, that made me lol for days when I saw that. XD Not to say I won’t try that, but I think this is more likely to end up in my library.

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