5 theories about what Marvel's tantalizing preview cover could mean

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Feb 25, 2013, 3:27 PM EST

So Marvel just released a very sneaky cover that leaves a lot to the imagination. What could it mean? We break down the possibilities. 

Here's what we know. The comic is called Marvel #1and the marketing says, "Begin with the best super heroes in comics -- Marvel does it FIRST!! HUGE story coming soon to fans, worldwide." What could it mean, and how might it play into the current Marvel NOW comics? Here are the most likely options.

1. A Company-wide Reboot a la the DC 52

Despite all the new #1 issues coming out, this is still the most pervasive rumor -- that Marvel is about to restart its entire universe. While Marvel NOW may have provided an entry point for new readers, the Marvel Universe is still dauntingly steeped in a complex lore. Could Marvel Now simply be a precursor to a total reboot? And could Marvel #1 be a kind of Flashpoint equivalent story that sets up that reboot? We wouldn't get our knickers in a twist just yet on this one. DC may have had a lot of initial success with the New 52, but they've been marred with criticism, too. Marvel may not think this particular gamble is worth it.

2. A Retelling of Character Origins

Marvel already attempted this recently with their Season One series, but, collected as hard covers and on the costly side, they didn't really make the impact Marvel hoped for. Maybe releasing origin tales with a twist for some of the most major Marvel characters as single issues could make the difference? Crazier things have been attempted, and if it meant an ongoing series of #1-style entry points, the cook could be a real seller. Consider this a likely contender for what Marvel might be up to.

3. A Series of Crossover Stories

Marvel has already been doing this with A+X, but why leave it at just X-Men and Avengers? And why stick with a title that doesn't do much to entice the reader? A comic simply entitled Marvel stands a much better chance of moving off the shelves. Couple that with all the names listed on that #1 symbol and we could very well be looking at a series of stories that bring characters together that might not normally cross paths.

4. A Massive Event Story

Probably the most likely option, in addition to the event story more geared towards long-time fans, Age of Ultron, Marvel #1 could be a mainstream answer that brings all the characters into one story that would entice but not require people to dig into every Marvel book on the stands.

5. Movie Tie-In Stories

So Marvel has this well-crafted series of movies that, for the most part, all connect with one another, weaving into this magical tapestry that Marvel executives pray to like some kind of money-printing holy object, right? Unfortunately, that doesn't always translate to comic sales. But what if this new book is specifically designed to fit into the movie universe in a way that's more marketable than some random Avengers book about Nick Fury's bad day? If you simply call it Marvel, doesn't that instantly make it seem more legit to comic fans while simultaneously appealing to that enormous movie-going audience?

Those are the best five reasons we can think of/are making their way around this wacky Internet of ours. Let us know what you think Marvel's up to.

(via Bleeding Cool)