There's been quite a bit of a shakeup in the Marvel Universe lately. With recent changes announced for both Captain America and Thor, not to mention the ongoing issues with the Illuminati it has been a fairly crazy few months over on Earth 616 and there are at least two big things headed our way.
Thor is a Woman: This gained a huge bit of traction largely because it was announced on The View that the Odinson would no longer be carrying Mjolnir but that a woman would be the new one worthy of the power of Thor. Let's set a few things aside. Yes, the comic book industry is rather misogynistic and generally sexist. So is Hollywood and any other media source. This doesn't make it right but to shout down changes in an industry that almost never changes is a waste of your breath. Fight against something worth fighting against. Some credit is due in trying to bridge the gender divide by having one of Marvel's heaviest hitters be a woman and I'm looking forward to see how they'll do this. Additionally, Thor himself isn't going anywhere. Thanks to the Apocalypse Twins story arc an old axe capable of tearing Celestial armour asunder will again be wielded by the gold haired poster child of Asgard. This is indeed the first time a change like this is happening for Thor since the old Thor Girl (herself not an Asgardian and never wielding Mjolnir) was a major character flop. If the new Ms. Marvel showed anything it was that Marvel has some really good writers on hand to develop new characters in interesting ways and I'm looking forward to the new Thor.
Falcon Becomes Captain America: So once again Steve Rogers is no longer carrying the shield and instead of Bucky, we have The Falcon step in to fill Steve's shoes. Before Fear Itself we had Bucky filling in for Steve who had just returned from the grave via Time Bullet (please don't ask) and he was actually pretty good at the job. We got some great moments of Captain America's sidekick having the surreal experience of wearing the very costume he fought beside all those years. Then, during Fear Itself, Bucky fought against Red Skull's daughter. She tore off his mechanical arm and planted a hammer in his chest. The shield went back to Rogers and there it has remained until now. Seeing Falcon as the Captain is something I'm really looking forward to in large part because he's the first Captain America we've had that doesn't have the pall of years past weighing on him. He isn't haunted by the second World War the way Rogers was and he never had to make his name back the way Bucky had to when he stopped being the Winter Soldier. He's a modern hero that grew up with far less angst than either of the men to wear the costume before him and it's a great opportunity to showcase a Captain America that isn't constantly either a soldier or haunted. Sadly, it isn't going to last. Bucky died at the hands of Red Skulls daughter and the next big Avengers arc features the Red Skull with Professor X's powers (because that's how brain surgery and the X Gene work) so it's not a farfetched idea that he'll meet his temporary end at the hands of another Skull.
New Avengers: As I write this the members of the Illuminati are facing off against Marvel's interpretation of the Justice League. I'm not making this up. They call themselves The Great Society and are led by Sun God, a seeming all powerful and ever hopeful good guy who flies, has super strength and heat vision. Additional team members include The Rider: a dark brooding guy with no powers who is Sun God's best friend and named Wayne, Boundless: a speedster who takes little seriously, Dr. Spectrum: see entry Doctor Light, The Jovian: a shape shifting alien with mental powers who's green and looks suspiciously like a Martian in that he is a shape shifting green alien with mental powers, and finally The Norn: a guy with a magic helmet that changes it around for other magic helmets and OH GOD IT'S DR.FATE ALRIGHT! To call this a ballsy move is to under credit the level of hell Marvel could have opened for itself in litigation and copy right infringements but here's the crazy thing. It's goddamn FANTASTIC to read. Where Marvel started this story with Reed Richards giving a speech that 'Everything dies and I accept that' our introduction to the Great Society comes in the form of Sun God saying 'Everything lives and I will defend that'. This portion of the story has highlighted the difference between Marvel and DC in a way that has rarely been done well and it's just an amazing read. Where Marvel pushes its heroes to the limits of their morality and into weary cynicism, DC pushes it's heroes past the moral boundary, but keep to their idealism. What you have facing off is a team that knows the end is coming and so is prepared and capable of unspeakably horrible acts to prevent it, versus the ones that will fight to the end, but never sacrifice the good, for what is the point in fighting against what you become yourself?
All of this culminates in what I'm hoping will be an event of the same epic proportions as Blackest Night was. Both Avengers and New Avengers have been hinting for some time about a massive story event coming up, the main thrust of which will likely come from the problems the Illuminati are facing, the multiverse collapse and what comes along with it. This will most likely be after the Red Skull event and from what they've been hinting, I hope will be called Season of Death. For now, let's enjoy what changes come to Thor and Captain America while they are here, and keep on reading New Avengers because it is brilliant in a way that the comic industry rarely is.