Following the run of stories such as Avengers Disassembled, House of M, Civil War, World War Hulk, Secret Invasion, Dark Reign and Siege, Marvel declared ‘No More Events!‘ for 2010, and so far they’ve been pretty good for their word.  But are they gearing the next Marvel crossover right under our noses?  Let’s look at some evidence…

After the finale of Siege at the start of the year, Marvel were pretty adamant that it would be the last ‘major’ crossover event for a while, with the focus for 2010 to be on self-contained events within individual titles, like Daredevil’s Shadowland, or within families of books, such as World War Hulks, which occurred across the Hulk titles this Summer.  So it was an interesting tease when at the end of Captain America Reborn Steve Rogers was given an horrific glimpse of a possible future where his friends were slain and these guys were towering over everyone:

Captain America Reborn #6

Steve Rogers gets a glimpse of the future in Reborn #6

At the time it was a nice enough hint at what was possibly to come in future issues of Ed Brubaker’s ongoing Captain America saga.  But then the creatures cropped up again, this time in Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr’s Avengers (Vol 4) #4:

Thor Vs The Martians

Avengers (Vol 4) #4

And whilst you could argue that they’re not identical, there are some striking similarities – to be fair, you could ask someone to draw ‘a tendrilled creature with lights on its head walking on a tripod‘ and get a hundred different artistic interpretations.  Or, you could just ask for a ‘martian in the vein of H.G. Wells’ sci-fi classic War of The Worlds‘ and get the same result.  And who’s been to Mars recently?  Steve Rogers, with his Secret Avengers.

War of the Worlds martian

A War of the Worlds martian, yesterday.

In Avengers (Vol 4) #4, they were labelled (correctly) by Killraven as Martians, dragged through to present-day Manhattan due to Kang’s meddling with the timestream.  Bendis’ first Avengers arc was full of all kinds of ominous foreshadowing, not in the least this wallchart of the future:

The future of Marvel: all mapped out?

The future of Marvel: all mapped out?

Bendis also dropped hints of bad times to come for Bucky-Cap, Iron Man and the Avengers at large – things couldn’t get much worse for Bucky in Captain America Reborn #6‘s vision where he was (spoilers) back in his Winter Soldier get-up, missing a cybernetic hand and completely skewered dead.

So far, so much potential for coincedence.  Until this week, when Matt Fraction and the ever-awesome Jamie McKelvie dropped this into the back-up in Invincible Iron Man #32:

Invincible Iron Man #32

Pepper meets the Martians, Invincible Iron Man #32

This comes from Pepper Potts (these days going by the name Rescue) and her near-death interaction with her Stark-tech suit’s A.I.   The answer given to her after those panels is an ominous ‘ask Tony Stark’, again tying in with the foreboding from Bendis’ Avengers issue, but it’s also possible this could simply be set-up for Fraction’s promised dystopian take on Tony Stark’s future in the upcoming Invincible Iron Man #500.

It’s also of note that in interview, Joe Quesada revealed that both Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker were present at the regular Avengers retreat, where editors and creative teams come together to plot the course of Earth Mightiest Heroes for the coming years – but since the Avengers books are handled by Brian Michael Bendis, Christos Gage and Ed Brubaker, why would Fraction be present, unless there was some series event coordination to be had with all their respective titles?  Like an epic martian war crossover? As flippant as that sounds, it seems possible that something is brewing over at Marvel these days.  Either that, or everyone’s just started drawing Martian tripods into their comics.

What do you guys think?  Is it all coincidence?  Are these creatures actually Martians?  Is it all leading to something?  Are we clutching at straws?

Sound off in the comments below!