Over the past week, Marvel Comics has released a series of teasers inscribed with the letters ‘MU.’ Each of the teasers also included the name of renowned scribe Cullen Bunn (Uncanny X-Men, Deadpool), attaching him to one or several notable artists such as Leinil Yu (New Avengers, Fantastic Four) or Steve McNiven (Civil War, Wolverine). With the caliber of talent and the titles they’ve worked on, some theorized that MU, with its claw-scratched silver plate, meant the return of Wolverine. Others felt, with its release date set for next year, it signified yet another reboot for the Marvel Universe. Fringe debate even revolved around the initials marking the return the Fantastic Four (since Reed Richards and Sue Storm were working on the MUltiverse) or even referred to the lost continent of Mu referenced in Jack Kirby’s The Eternals.
As the teaser date, September 1 at 6:45 pm, crept ever closer, Marvel fans awaited the reveal. Finally, the comic purveyor unveiled its latest plans this evening.
At this year’s Diamond Retailer Summit in Baltimore (via Newsarama), Marvel announced that MU, at least in this instance, will stand for Monsters Unleashed! The unveiling does offer a lot of interesting possibilities and curious directions based on its title. The Big Two company hasn’t offered any additional hints as to who or what will be included in the comic, but they did release the full list of artists working on the title. Bunn, McNiven, and Yu will be joined by artists Adam Kubert (Avengers & X-Men: Axis), Greg Land (Uncanny X-Men), and Salvador Larroca (Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X). Despite the lack of further information, the title Monsters Unleashed! does conjure up a few memories of horror comics’ past.
During the 60s and early 70s, classic horror experienced a resurgence thanks in part to the nostalgia cycle. Filmmakers crafted a range of fright flicks from low-budget schlockers like Don’t Go in the Basement to retro mutated creature romps like Frogs. Much of the wistfulness was the result of Forrest Ackerman’s beloved publication Famous Monsters of Filmland. Marvel tried to capture some of the monster mash with the familiarly titled Monsters Unleashed! (which ran concurrently with their other title, Monsters of the Movies). The fright rag first ran in 1973 and ended in 1975. Throughout its brief history, it was edited by Roy Thomas (who succeeded Stan Lee as EIC), Tony Isabella (Black Lightning), and Don McGregor (Sabre).
Of course, the comic maven put its own spin on scary by including original comics alongside the film-based features. Their fun little black-and-white storylines included visits from creepy favorites like Man-Thing, classics like Frankenstein’s monster, and of course the Wolfman, er, Werewolf by Night, and other creatures that go bump in the night. One of the best parts of Monsters Unleashed!, though, was the inclusion of classic pre-Comic Code Authority strips which gave fans an uncut look at the horrors of yore.
Without knowing Marvel’s exact plans for their latest title, their reveal remains almost as intriguing as their cryptic clues from the past week. Bunn and many of the other artists working on the new run have backgrounds in horror comics, so the possibility of a new fright series or even imprint is a good one. The House of Ideas, once renowned for their dark side, still runs a number of horror titles. Their focus in recent years, though, has been understandably on their more lucrative superhero lines. Successful terror books like The Walking Dead and iZombie are proof positive that fans of the macabre are still out there and buying comics. Hopefully, the unveiling of Monsters Unleashed! marks Marvel’s return to either an anthology or a serious horror series.
Of course, the timing of a possible Marvel horror comic is also curious, though, as it coincides with the renewed interest in DC’s Justice League Dark/Dark Universe and Universal’s push to give their classic monsters a facelift. The launch of Monsters Unleashed! next year could be nothing more than coincidence, though. At the same time, if pop culture is about to get hit with another case of monster-itis, Marvel certainly would be smart to get in on the ground floor.
Screen Rant will keep you posted as more details about Monsters Unleased! become available.
Monsters Unleased is set to menace the populace in January 2017.