Frontlist | The ten 2020 Marvel titles that never came out
Fans get their hopes up when new comic books are announced, and while the comic books themselves don’t always meet those high expectations, sometimes they do – but we’ll never know if those comic books don’t actually come out.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, several announced Marvel comic book series were put on hiatus. Many eventually resumed publication, or the publisher gave an explanation of why the series would not be released. But there are nearly a dozen Marvel titles floating out there in some kind of purgatory, with us not knowing if they’re happening or not.
That’s not to say these particular Marvel titles don’t have a possible reason for being MIA. COVID-19 had a chilling effect on the comic book industry, and for a time there were people openly questioning if comic books would resume, instead of when. But by May, all the major comic book publishers resumed their releases and many of the postponed series were re-scheduled and re-released.
But not these.
These 10 Marvel titles – one ongoing series, three events, and six limited series – have been absent from Marvel’s post-COVID-19 shutdown schedule, and have gone unmentioned in all announcements from the publisher.
And while we don’t have all the answers, we’ve collected all the current information in one place – including some comments from individual creators involved – on these titles to remind you what they are, who’s involved, and in some cases what’s going on.
Since this originally ran back in December, some Marvel MIA titles have reappeared on the schedule (Silk, America Chavez: Made in the U.S.A., and The Marvels), and Black Panther’s return is imminent, but these 10 remain mysteriously absent.
Mike Allred and Peter Milligan’s X-Statix is a cult favorite among the comic book set, and a one-time, one-shot reunion in 2019 titled Giant-Size X-Statix #1 contained a big surprise – the creative team were returning full-time for a series called X-Cellent, launching in 2020.
As you can kinda tell, 2020 threw everyone a curveball.
Midway through the year, Milligan said the duo continued to work on the series. There’s been no formal announcement since then, however Allred’s creator-owned series X-Ray Robot (no relation) finished up back in November, so if X-Cellent was his next project he’d be well underway by now.
The Infinity Stones are kind of a big deal at Marvel – and in June the publisher planned an eight-part crossover event serving as an all-new Infinity Quest called ‘Infinite Destinies.’ “In a series of eight annuals, each installment will pair Marvel’s biggest heroes like Captain America and Iron Man with some of Marvel’s newest heroes and villains including Star, Amulet, and more,” read Marvel’s announcement. “These exciting new additions to the Marvel mythos may or may not possess one of the sought after stones — but the real question will be who will be holding them in the end, and what will it mean for the future of the Marvel Universe?”
Series editor Nick Lowe said the event was intended to “shine a light” on eight new characters: Quantum, Overtime, Spirit of Corruption, White Fox, Amulet, Prince of Power, Star, and a ‘classified’ eighth.
Each annual was to also include a back-up serial called ‘Super-Spy vs. Super-Spy,’ with Nick Fury and Phil Coulson.
For an event of this magnitude, it’s a bit unique that Marvel hasn’t mentioned this in the past eight months – but we are living in unique times.
Darkhold Alpha #1
This one-shot leading into an event was special on two fronts – one for starring Scarlet Witch ahead of her TV series WandaVision, and the other for being the Marvel debut of former DC exclusive writer Steve Orlando.
“For hundreds of years, scholars and heroes alike have searched for the complete text of the Darkhold—a.k.a. the Book of the Damned, written by the elder god Chthon,” reads Marvel’s solicitation for the one-shot. “Now one of the greatest sorcerers in the Multiverse has found it—and Chthon has found him. To save them all, the Scarlet Witch must gather the world’s greatest heroes…and unleash their inner darkness.”
Drawn by Cian Tormey, Darkhold Alpha #1 was scheduled to debut in June but – like all on our list – was put on hiatus due to COVID-19. Neither of the creators, nor Marvel have said anything about the series since it was announced in March.
Gwen Stacy #3 – #5
This one is a bit of an oddity, as Gwen Stacy was launched in February and a second issue came out… then, nothing. Christos Gage and Todd Nauck’s thee final issues were solicited but then scuttled in the distribution shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While most other ongoings and limited series caught in the middle of an arc were eventually resumed – some only digitally, but still completed – Gwen Stacy stands out in its absence.
Sources at Marvel tell Newsarama that all five issues of the series have been written and drawn, but they don’t have a clear idea of when the book will be solicited.
Nebula #3 – #5
Like the previous entry, Vita Ayala and Claire Roe’s Nebula series was already underway when the pandemic took hold. Ayala was at C2E2 back at March promoting the book even, but unfortunately Nebula #2 – released two weeks later – is the last time readers saw that series.
While we have a bit of information on Gwen Stacy, it’s not clear if the three remaining issues of Nebula are completed in any aspect, nor if the series will eventually be released.
As someone who’s married, I can tell you you never forget an anniversary – and Marvel Comics didn’t with their 30th anniversary plans for New Warriors. But then, the pandemic happened.
Originally announced in January for an April 2020 debut, the New Warriors limited series by writer Daniel Kibblesmith and artist Luciano Vecchio was planning on introducing new New Warriors, with the original crew acting as mentors.
The series was intended to be part of the crossover event ‘Outlawed,’ and like New Warriors, that was delayed but eventually came out – just minus this New Warriors title.
Neither Marvel nor the creators would comment on the status of the series and its future.
How to Read Comics The Marvel Way
This limited series was intended to launch in April, but like everything on this list it fell off the calendar due to the pandemic and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
Neither Marvel, the creators, nor Newsarama have any updates on this title – but given the subject matter, it seems like something Marvel would want to do to engage a new audience similar to Stan Lee’s classic Origin of Marvel Comics.
The Punisher vs. Barracuda
Although the Marvel Max line is still in cold storage at the publisher, a Marvel Max-esque ‘prestige’ five-issue Punisher series was locked and loaded to debut in April until the distribution shutdown.
Writer Ed Brisson and artist Declan Shalvey were teaming up to bring the Garth Ennis-created Barracuda out of alternate continuity and into the main Marvel U with this book. The series was in talks for years, and we’re told was a bit of a passion project for both the authors.
At least four of the five issues are completely drawn according to our sources, but with the hiatus, Shalvey has moved on to other projects. Since the hiatus, Brisson’s ‘exclusive’ agreement with Marvel has expired and he’s begun branching out with work at other publishers.
We’re hoping the series eventually sees the light of day, but haven’t heard of any plans to complete the project.
W.E.B. of Spider-Man
This limited series has had a double-whammy – delayed once by the pandemic, and then a second time by – well, we’re not really sure.
This five-issue series by Kevin Shinick and Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque was announced to debut in June 2020, then after the pandemic rescheduled to December. A few weeks before that debut, however, Marvel pulled the title again.
Shinick has said that the book is still underway, and they’re waiting until “the time is right” to release it.
Given W.E.B. of Spider-Man is a tie-in to an upcoming Disney Parks ride scheduled to debut in 2021, we imagine “the time is right” when Disney Parks is sure of the ride’s official launch.
This one is unique because it was announced after the pandemic-influenced distribution shutdown was fixed, but is still MIA.
Dark Ages by writer Tom Taylor and artist Iban Coello was intended as a fall 2020 event following Marvel’s key heroes as the world experiences a blackout. It was announced in true event nature with a surprise story in May’s Free Comic Book Day: X-Men #1 one-shot and billed as “a saga of the Marvel Universe.”
But like Image Comics’ Saga, it remains in a bit of limbo with neither the creators or publisher speaking up with any revised estimate of when it’ll come out.
Perhaps a fictional global calamity of a blackout was considered in poor taste to publish when the world is in a real calamity, but whatever the reason we’re left in the proverbial dark like the heroes in the story.
With the new year, comes the tease of news on this front, however: on January 1, Taylor tweeted “news soon” on Dark Ages.