Marvel Comics loves to drop single images that spark huge conversations, and on Sunday they did it again with a new teaser that's had fans theorizing all over social media.
Over the weekend, the official Marvel Twitter account released an image that's simply a number 4 made of webs with a spider crawling across the center. The image was hashtagged #MarvelComics, just to make sure we didn't think this was a film or TV or game project, and so far that's the only context we have.
So, let's get the obvious out of the way first and then talk about some possibilities. Obviously, this is a Spider-Man story we're talking about, but what kind of Spider-Man story, and who else will be joining Spidey (or another member of the Spider-Man family) on this journey?
Anyone looking at this from a comic book perspective is probably going to think of Spider-Man's long connection with the Fantastic Four. In their earliest encounters there was conflict, but Peter Parker has long since become a trusted friend and ally to Marvel's First Family, and forged a close friendship with Johnny Storm, the Human Torch. When Johnny was apparently killed in action a few years ago, Spider-Man even took his place in the FF, and at one point Spider-Man was a member of an all-new Fantastic Four team that also included Wolverine, The Hulk, and Ghost Rider.
So, it's possible we could be looking at some form of the band getting back together, or perhaps Spidey is just eager to reteam with the original FF now that they've finally made their way back into the Marvel Universe.
That might be the most likely explanation, but it's not the only one. Say the phrase "Spider-Man 4" to the right person and you're bound to conjure up images of a movie that never was: Sam Raimi's planned forth installment in his Spider-Man movie saga. That film would have continued the Tobey Maguire era of the franchise into the years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and could have been the first cinematic appearances of characters like The Vulture and Mysterio. Alas, Raimi ultimately backed away from Spider-Man, and we got the Andrew Garfield reboot era instead. Could this comics project be a long-awaited peek into what might have been? A lot of fans have their fingers crossed.
But then there's also one other possible explanation: This is just the first image in a series of four countdown images Marvel will release in the lead-up to an announcement. Marvel released another image, a webbed-up "3," on Monday, so it does indeed seem we're getting a countdown.
Still, that's no reason to throw previously existing theories out the window just yet. There might be a very good reason why the countdown started at four instead of another number. Check back later this week for all the details.
UPDATE: Marvel editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski has responded to Marvel's latest tease with a rebuttal to fan speculation about the book, promising the upcoming event is something we'll apparently never be able to guess.
For decades now, a secretive organization has menaced the world of Marvel Comics, turning men into weapons and often leaving very little trace of exactly how it happened. Now, a new comics series is going to shine a spotlight on the program that made Wolverine into a berserker, and turned Steve Rogers into a Super Soldier.
After a "data breach" on Friday that took the form of redacted memos referring to Weapon I (Captain America), Weapon X (Wolverine), and Weapon XIII (Fantomex), Marvel attempted to clear up the "leak" with a full-blown announcement of a new series. Wolverine + Captain America: Weapon Plus, from writer Ethan Sacks and the art team of penciller Diogenes Neves, colorist Federico Blee, and inker Adriano Di Benedetto, will attempt to finally uncover the "shadowy connections" in the much-mythologized Weapon Plus program, and how they tie Captain America and Wolverine together.
Wolverine + Captain America: Weapon Plus arrives July 10. Check out some preview art from Neves, Blee, and Di Benedetto below.
Next month, Titan Publishing will launch an ambitious continuation of the Blade Runner universe as depicted in Ridley Scott's landmark 1982 film and its 2017 sequel, Blade Runner 2049. It all begins with Blade Runner 2019, a 12-issue series from writers Michael Green (who co-wrote 2049) and Mike Johnson and artist Andres Guinaldo.
Set in the titular year 2019, the story follows a Blade Runner named Ash as she takes on a new case involving the missing family of a billionaire with ties to the Tyrell Corporation, the company responsible for the production of Replicants. The case may be tied, as so many things in this world are, to Replicants who have gone rogue, and what Ash uncovers will no doubt enrich the Blade Runner universe beyond what we learned in the films.
To promote the book, Titan Publishing and Alcon Publishing have just dropped a new trailer for the series over at The Hollywood Reporter, which you can check out below.
Blade Runner 2019 #1 will be available July 17.