'New Avengers' has same characters back with a vengeance

"New Avengers" seems to be a misnomer.

A majority of the lineup has been together for more than five years, and it therefore can be argued they are the most experienced as a unit of all four recently launched/relaunched "Avengers" teams in the Marvel Universe.

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Plus, the team's biggest guns all seem to have more important and visible gigs elsewhere. Luke Cage is now in charge of the Thunderbolts; the Thing is still a member of the Fantastic Four. Spider-Man and Wolverine, of course, appear in enough titles every month to clear cut a whole forest.

And "New Avengers" is not only one of the many titles one or both of Marvel's main meal tickets appear in, it is the less significant Avengers title the duo appear in, after the flagship "Avengers" title.

That's the title that has the most formidable lineup; "Secret Avengers" fills the need for a stealth version, and "Avengers Academy" deals with the next generation of Avengers.

The justification for "New Avengers," however, can be summed up in a scene in which Spider-Man humorously criticizes the Thing for trying a different battle-inspired catchphrase, rather than his classic "It's clobberin' time!" The Thing says he should be allowed to grow as a person and try new things.

"No," says Spidey. "You've got to give the people what they want."

As this book is selling like gangbusters, it must be what the people want.

With the aforementioned quartet plus Jessica Jones, Ms. Marvel and Mockingbird, writer Brian Michael Bendis has been given carte blanche to put together the Avengers team he would have the most fun with and tell the stories he feels like telling.

What makes this an enjoyable title rather than one overwhelmed by Bendis' sometimes overwhelming tendency to have his characters engage in heavy dialogue (and be both self-deprecating and hip) is that there are real stakes involved.

The plot of the first few issues seems pretty simple: The sky is bursting open, and creatures from another dimension are entering the world. This leads to a plot point with Dr. Strange that may change the rules of magic in the Marvel Universe.

'Hotwire' to hit big screen

Barry Levine, Radical president and publisher, has given Comics Guy an exclusive: Alice Hotwire will be hitting the big screen.

"We're in the middle of doing a deal on 'Hotwire,' " said Levine. "John Davis [of 'Predator'] is producing."

If they can get the right actress to play Hotwire, this could be awesome. Comics Guy thinks "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World's" Mary Elizabeth Winstead would be perfect.

Bono: Spidey is 'special'

The countdown has begun toward the curtain rising on the Broadway musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," and U2 front man Bono says that he believes it is extremely difficult to craft a successful musical but that the man under Spider-Man's mask gives them a better chance than most.

"What's special is the very ordinariness of Peter Parker," Bono told USA Today.

"It sounds odd to say, but Spider-Man is as important to the 21st century as the story of Ulysses was to the ancient Greeks. These are morality plays, where luminous characters duke it out in ways very revealing of the nature of who we are."

Though "Spider-Man" marks the first time Bono and U2 guitarist The Edge have written for the stage, Bono says he has always been a fan of musicals.

"A school production of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' was where I first found my voice," he said.

Bono, The Edge and producer Julie Taymor ("The Lion King") bring the project star power and buzz, but they have also brought it controversy and skepticism, which was further fueled by reported delays and a budget that most agree exceeds $50 million.

"We've been on the receiving end of some cynicism from the Broadway media establishment," The Edge told USA Today. "But really, who can blame them?"

"Spider-Man" begins previews Nov. 14 and opens Dec. 21.

'Sandman' to TV screens

The Hollywood Reporter has said that "The Sandman," one of the most beloved and critically acclaimed comic book series of the past 20 years, is in the early stages of development as a TV series.

DC Comics' sister company Warner Bros. Television is talking to several producers about handling the adaptation, with "Supernatural" creator Eric Kripke at the top of the list. Neil Gaiman is not yet involved in the project, though that may change.

This could be tremendous. Gaiman's rich, vast "Sandman" tapestry will lay out very well in a TV series. It is one of the few properties that work better as a series format than as a movie.

E-mail comicsguy@phillynews.com