Spider-Man Through the Ages, Part II: The Women

by Travis Starnes, CMRO Editor

In part one of this series; I went through the physical representation of Spider-Man.  The various looks and costumes that makes Spider-Man who he is for the people of the Marvel universe.  Now I am going to look at what I feel is the real core of the Spider-Man/Peter Parker character, the women in his life.  For me what is more interesting than his fights with villains and adventures through the city is the trials and tribulations of his personal life.  This is what made Spider-Man stand out from Amazing Fantasy #15 all the way through to the version of Spider-Man we have today.

If you have read through all of the history of Spider-Man (and I have read through a lot of it) the moments that really shape him as a character are the people in his personal life.  New women coming in and driving him crazy and longtime loves going away (sometimes more permanently then others), this is the bread and butter of Spider-Man.  What’s more amazing is how many amazing women he hooks up with over the years.  They sell us Parker from early on as the “nerd” who can’t talk to women but go through the list and you will see in reality Parker might be the biggest player in all of Marvel.  He gives hope to nerdy guys around the world…do good in school, get super powers, and you too can hook up with a super model.  Well, until the devil wipes your memory of her and you get replaced by your arch-nemesis.  But for a while at least….supermodel.

So without further pre-amble, here they are (I will try to beat around the bush when hitting major story points as not to spoil stuff for people who haven’t read these comics yet.  You’re welcome).

Aunt May

She isn’t a love interest, at least not in the romantic sense, but she has been the lady in his life since day one….for better or worse.  Early on she gave the character a lot of motivation to keep going or in some cases to hang things up, and was often a plot device in the early years to push Parker (I can’t count the number of heart attacks or “episodes” she had).  Of course the biggest impact she had was during Brand New Day when Parker picked her over his life with Mary Jane. a call to this day that many comic readers I have talked to hate.  Say what you will, think of her as either a strong driving force or crazy annoying plot device, you can’t deny the impact she has had on Peter’s life.  She first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15.


Elizabeth Allen

The first “real” girl we see in Parker’s life, although not really.  This was back when the “nerd” Parker was really being that way.  He was going after the pretty cheerleader who was out of his reach.  Of course she does start becoming interesting eventually, about 1 issue before she disappears from the comic for years.  Not to worry though since she returns, although never really in a romantic role.  Her stuff with Harry does give her some influence over Parker’s life however.  She first appears in Amazing Fantasy #15.


Betty Brant

Arguably Peter’s first real love interest.  Having met while she worked as Jameson’s secretary the two developed a fast friendship that seemed to become more.  They were definitely romantically involved, but since that period of their life happened in comics under the grip of the Comics Code it’s hard to tell exactly what point the relationship went to.  This was however the first romance to be sabotaged by Peter’s dual life.  She held on for a long time but finally lit out when Peter could not reveal the secrets she knew he was keeping.  She does return, in a major way in fact, but never really again as a love interest.  While their relationship was not to be she did set the tone that would follow Parker through his days.  Boy meets girl.  Boy and girl fall in love.  Boy destroys girl’s self-esteem because of how bad he treats her (due to his super-hero night job).  It’s a tale as old as time.  She first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #4.


Mary Jane

When it comes to Peter Parker and romance, this is the go to.  The gold standard for Marvel comic romances.  She however has had some interesting moments that many, or at least me before I read certain comics, didn’t know.  On her original appearance she was hinted at many issues before she had her big reveal.  She would be just leaving or behind a bush, but always hidden.  Then finally a big “ta-da” style reveal. You have to wonder if the people at Marvel had some kind of idea she would be so long lasting.  The other thing I found surprising is that as much as she is a major player in the story of Peter Parker, she disappears for a long time.  They go from romantically attached, to friends, to no Mary Jane for several years of Spider-Man comics.  Of course she never stays gone for good, not even when an evil demon makes a few adjustments.  Still, you can’t have Peter Parker without Mary Jane….can you?  She first appears in Amazing Spider-Man #25.


Gwen Stacy

She might not be the girl who has been with Parker for 50 years of comics, but there is no doubt that Gwen Stacy has as big of an impact on Parker’s life as Mary Jane.  Their relationship is good, and this is the second girl we see Peter in a serious relationship with (after Mary Jane).  There is no doubt these two love each other.  The other interesting thing about Gwen is her relationship with Mary Jane.  The two knew they were rivals for the same man and were friendly yet always taking little digs at each other.  Their back and forth was almost as enjoyable as her relationship with Peter.  But her impact on Parker wasn’t the relationship they had, but the oh so famous ending to it.  Her leaving the scene is one of the landmark moments in Marvel history and has a clear impact on Parker’s personality.  This is when he stopped being the nerdy kind of awkward kid and became an adult.  Peter is the man he became outside the suit because of Gwen; there is no doubt about that.  She first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #31.


Cissy Ironwood

We can all remember this pivotal character and when she…..wait, you don’t remember her?  I don’t blame you.  This is not one of the big players in the life of Spider-Man, blink and you will miss her.  But if you read books other than Amazing Spider-Man in the 70s you would met Cissy several times.  She is back from Peter’s days as a college man and one of his college hook-ups.  While not important to his life long term, you have to be proud of old Parker the science student hooking up with the hot blond.  You go Pete. She first appeared in Marvel Team-Up #80.


Gloria Grant

Ok, not a love interest, but a long time female.  She did however play a notable role in Peter’s life.  They started off as neighbors but became friends, with Peter eventually getting her a job at the Daily Bugle (Betty Brant’s old job in fact).  They had good chemistry together, but like sometimes happens she fell in with the wrong crowd, in this case the werewolf criminal Eduardo Lobo.  She even tried to shoot Spider-Man at one point.  We haven’t seen much of Gloria over the last 15 years or so, although she occasional pops up with some random guy.  She’s that girl you knew back in college and never got with.  She first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #140.


Felicia Hardy (The Black Cat)

Every guy goes through that phase where they go after the bad girl and this was Peter’s….and can you blame him?  Skin tight leather costume, smoking hot, and a cat-burglar (but one who doesn’t really hurt people and isn’t soooo bad so it’s ok), who could resist?  The catch…she doesn’t want Peter Parker; she only has eyes for Spider-Man.  This is a serious twist on his normal love story where his dual life as Spider-Man gets in the way. Now it’s the only thing keeping her around.  But it was bound not to last….how can a guy stay with a girl who only wants him when he puts a spandex mask over his face?  She first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #194.


Debra Whitman

This is the one I feel bad about.  Debra was a nice kid working as the secretary for the Professor that Peter was a Teaching Assistant for while he was in grad school.  As it seems all women in the Marvel universe do, she had a thing for Peter.  And as usual Parker’s dual life causes him to act like quite the D-Bag to her.  Lots of broken dates or left sitting in a restaurant waiting for him.  I know Peter is busy, but he was particularly cold to her.  This was not Parker’s finest hour.  The two went out off and on for a while, but this was not the love story that many of his other relationships have been.  She first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #196.


Jill Stacy

What do you do when the cousin of girl you loved and blame yourself for her death looks you up? Well if you’re Peter Parker you introduce her to your girlfriend, become palls, and walk her through exactly how her cousin died. Maybe the most awkward conversation ever. Also, you let an Osborn have a shot at offing her to, just for the symmetry of the thing. But seriously, she was an interesting introduction to Peter’s life for a while and brought back the Gwen thing in good, organic kind of way. Of course when Mary Jane got kidnapped and Jill decided that was a good time to put the moves on Peter, that about wrapped up her friendship with the couple. Way to go out uncomfortably Jill. She first appeared in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #76.


Michelle Gonzales

Parker’s drunken one-night stand….sort of. She was the sister of his roommate who was in prison (sometimes comics get to the daytime soup level of drama) and the two had a kind of love/hate thing going on. But at his Aunt’s wedding they got a little tipsy and made that oh-so-common wedding mistake. It didn’t end badly; it just kind of ended when she moved back to Chicago. But she did admit that Peter was an ok guy. So score one for old Pete. She first appeared in Spider-Man Extra! #3


Carlie Cooper

On paper Carlie and Peter are a great match. She is a science geek just like Peter. She follows a lot of the same stuff. She is a cop so you have the crime-fighting thing going for her. All-in-all a good match. Sure she was once almost sacrificed to a Mayan deity, but that’s par for the course for any girl who wants to get with Peter. Unfortunately it was not to be. As a detective she started piecing together the clues that Peter was Spider-Man and the two broke up. They however remained friends and Carlie is very involved in investigating the events surrounding the “death” of Doctor Octopus. No longer a love interest but still a good girl to have in your corner. She first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #545.


Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel)

Not really a love interest but an honorable mention goes out to Ms. Marvel. After getting Spider-Man’s help to get her out of a jam she agreed to go to dinner with him, which she eventually did. The two had a good time and Peter found he really dug on Danvers, but this was clearly never meant to be on of Peter’s conquests. It was however later let slip that Ms. Marvel did indeed return some of his feelings. First appearance doesn’t really matter since she first appeared 40 years of comics before their date.


And that’s it for our journey through the women who have impacted Peter Parker’s life. Stay tuned for Spider-Man Through the Ages Part, III: The Villains

New Podcast: Avengers Inspirations

We have a the pilot of a new podcast up in the feed now.  This is a father and daughter talking about the comics that were the inspiration for the Avengers and other Marvel movies.  In this first one they talk about Tales to Astonish #27, “The Man in the Ant-Hill”.  It is kind of cool to hear a kids point of view when it comes to these comics, and the two are fun to listen to.


Trask Industries Video

by Travis Starnes, CMRO Editor

They guys at 20th Century Fox keep dropping little tidbits for the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past.  This time its a video and a “fake” website dedicated to the company.  We get more looks at the new sentinel design.  I personally am a fan of this type of “reality” marketing.


Spider-Man Through the Ages, Part I: The Costumes

by Travis Starnes, CMRO Editor

Spider-Man might be my favorite all time character.  Not because his powers are cool (although they are) and not because he has some of the best story lines in Marvel history (although he does), its how the character progressed through the ages.  For many super-heroes, DC and Marvel alike, “progress” more or less comes in the form of a costume change, maybe membership in a new team or a powers tweak, and that’s it.

What I like about Spidey is his progression has been in those areas to be sure, but more then that its his characterization.  There is more development over time with Peter Parker then any other super-hero on the books, save for the 90s when character development more or less stopped.  But I don’t hold that against him.  He is also a tragic hero, always the underdog but never giving up.  And I know I am not alone in this.  He is in the top 5 all time most well known super-heroes (I would put him around #3 behind Superman and Batman).  You ask a random person to identity Spider-Man, and odds are they can do it no problem.

I started thinking about writing this a while ago, my tribute to Spider-Man and now seemed like good time (plus I have been lax on putting up commentary and I need to start posting up stuff).  I decided to break this into parts because no one wants to read a 10,000 word essay on a super-hero, and I don’t really feel like writing it all at one time too.  Each one of these (I have no idea how many there will be) I will look at an aspect of spider.  His costumes, his ladies, the teams he has been on, the villains he has face, etc etc.

This first one I am going to look at his costumes over the years, because he has some of my favorite. (A warning, there will be spoilers if you haven’t read through sections of Spider-Man’s history)

The Wrestler

Ok, so not legitimately one of his costumes, but its the first secret identity he took so I am running with it.  Not really a costume so much as a mask made of webbing thrown over his head so he could step into the wrestling ring and earn a few bucks.  This is before “with great responsibility” Spider-Man, when he was still a punk kid looking to make a name for himself.  First seen in Amazing Fantasy #15.



Classic Web Costume

He is almost there.  We have the red and blue costume, we have the spider on his chest, we have the mask….but we also have little web wings under his arms.  Not sure what those were for.  This costume also only lasted for a short while, but the essence of it remains.  Also first seen in Amazing Fantasy #15.



The Red and Blue

His old standby.  The costume Parker comes back to after a flight of fancy with some new idea.  There are small variations depending on the artists of course, the eye patches change size (Todd McFarlane made them pretty damn big) and shape, sometimes he has little wing things under his arms kind of like the classic costume but way way way smaller, the tone of the blue changes.  But basically, its the same, go to costume.  First seen in Amazing Spider-Man #50.



Six Arm

Not Really a costume per se, but he has grown the six arms several times over the years, and when he does he needs a new costumer to let him work.  It has happened enough that you think he would hold onto the six arm costume for the next time.  For the record, I am not a fan of the whole six arm thing.  I get it, he was bit by a spider.  Spiders have multiple legs.  Yep, got it.  Very clever.  Now stop doing it.  We have seen it so move on.  First seen Amazing Spider-Man #100 without sleeves and Infinity War #1 with Sleeves (but not on Peter).



Black Costume

A costume we first see in the Secret Wars, and it was such a big reveal that in this multi-team book with a bunch of stuff happening, him and his new costume get the bulk of the cover, I have always loved it.  Whether it be the symbiote version (by that I mean when he had it on as a symbiote and not as venom (Totally different and I will spill my hate on the symbiotes in a latter post on Spidey).  But even when he sows himself a regular black costume, I like it.  Its a good look for Spider-Man and I kind of wish it would come back.  First seen in Secret Wars #8.




In an Excalibur crossover, somehow it was decided to have the Phoenix force join with Spidey for an issue, making him the Spider-Phoenix (or Phoenix Spider depending on who you ask).  I guess this was their cosmic Spider-Man trial run.  First seen in Spider-Man #25.



Captain Universe Spider-Man

This was weird.  They decided to beef up Spidey from the street level hero he was meant to be into a cosmic level hero trading punch for punch with the Hulk.  It wasn’t bad I guess, even though it did mostly take place during the very poorly executed Acts of Vengeance story arc.  It was interesting for a one off thing and yet they went back to the well again, this time without the Acts of Vengeance but with a Captain Universe style costume.  Thankfully we haven’t seen it sense.  First seen (sort of) in The Spectacular Spider-Man #158.



Ninja Spider

This wasn’t a purposeful costume change but more of a patch job on a pretty damaged Spidey suit.  But it allowed them to make Spidey look a little like a ninja, which was cool I guess.  Even if it did only last for 2 issues.  First seen in Spectacular Spider-Man #213.




This is a weird one.  It had a super short comic lifetime, basically long enough to make it through a story line evolving the “New Enforcers” and that’s it.  However it keeps popping up in other media, most notably video games.  This is one of those costumes that, after the normal and the black costumes, game designers love to stick him in as an alternate costume.  And fans, or maybe fan boys, seem to love it.  It wasn’t bad mind you, I just kind of don’t get it.  First seen in Web of Spider-Man #100.



Insulated Spidey

So there was this time when Electro got totally supped up and was looking to fry poor Spidey.  Ever the thinker, Parker decided to go with the Mr. Goodyear version of his Red and Blue suit, well and the black costume mask so a strange hybrid I guess.  It was only around for one issue, but who doesn’t like seeing Spidey look kind of puffy like our friendly tire mascot.  Ok, me.  I didn’t like it.  First Seen in Amazing Spider-Man #425.



Scarlet Spider (Ben Reilly)

Ok, not actually Parker, I know.  And I haven’t been including other alternate universe or whatever versions of Spidey, but this one I put into a special category.  There was a time when Peter retired from being Spider-Man and asked one of his Clones, Ben Reilly, to take up the mantle of Spider-Man (also, I will go into my hate of the clone thing in another version as well.  Man for saying how much I love Spider-Man I do seem to have a lot of hate).  Instead of putting on the Red and Blues, Ben chooses this Flash Dance-esque version of the costume with a torn blue sweatshirt over red tights.  I know this showed up in 1994, but man it feels so 80s to me.  Still, it allowed you to tell the two apart I guess.  To be fair he did switch to a different version of the red and blue costume after a while and ditched the sweat shirt  (See below).  First seen in Web of Spider-Man #118.



Spider-Man (Ben Reilly)

When Ben comes back to pick up the mantel of Spider-Man when Peter “retires” to raise his child he adopts a new costume more in-line with what the Spider-Man costume is generally thought of.  It maintains the red and blue that we have come to know, although the webshooters are outside of the costume and there is a lot more blue on this costume then on the base Spider-Man look.  I generally like it but the 2 blue fingers and 3 red gives me weird flashes of bad bowling gloves.  Still its not a bad look, making it clear this is a different guy (to the reader since in universe they were tricking the public to think it was the same guy) while holding to the classic Spider-Man look so you know who you are dealing with.  First seen in Sensational Spider-Man #0.



Carnage Spider (Ben Reilly)

Ok, again not Peter Parker, but still note worthy.  Spider-Man Symbiote offshoot #47,205 (ok, the second version of the Symbiote to be fair, but still…the 90s was a dark time) Carnage merges himself with Ben Reilly to make an unique melding of the two.  It didn’t make for a very cool costume or a very well written story, but it also didn’t last long.  So bright side.  First seen in Amazing Spider-Man #410.



Cyborg Spider

There was this time where Peter had a broken arm, which frankly I am surprised doesn’t happen to him more often considering his line of work.  Anyways, for a couple of issues he war this special suit that protected his arm and accelerated its healing and made it so he could keep up his crime fighting.  This is so 90s it hurts, and it looks more like the person drawing him was mad he wasn’t allowed to draw Cable, and this was the compromise.  I mean, I am sure that isn’t actual what happened, but is sure looks like it is.  First seen in Spider-Man #21.



Octo Spider

This really isn’t a whole new costume so much as it is the red and blue suit plus doctor octopus arms thrown over top.  This seems really poorly planed and doesn’t look great, and I for one am happy it only lasted for 2 issues before the character started having as much trouble using the suit as you would image he would.  First seen in Funeral for an Octopus #2.




Not that this suit looks bad, because it doesn’t, but this seems like a costume that was directed by the marketing department.  This costume looks very similar to the animated series costume, and showed up not long after that cartoon started up, which is probably not a coincidence.  It seems clear they were trying to tie the two in together, probably to help out the animated series since Spider-Man titles have always been among the best selling at Marvel.  Again, not that it looks bad, but when it feels forced it bugs me.  A little bit.  First seen in Webspinners #13.



House of M

In the House of M universe, Spidey’s costume changed a bit.  It is essentially the standard red and blue costume, but missing the spider symbol on his chest, the symbol on his back is webbed and not solid, and his gloves are a red and blue version of the black suit gloves with a solid color and then a small opposing color patch on the back of the had.  Those are all pretty subtle differences however, and you wouldn’t be wrong to say it just looks like the red and blue suit.  First seen in House of M #1.



Stealth Suit

He created this suit when dealing with the Hobgoblin.  It has the ability to wrap light around it making him more or less invisible.  It also had sound canceling abilities and could self-repair, although it also had to be charged.  It is a version of the black suit with what looks like a large glow in the dark spider on his chest.  It had the potential to be cool, but feels a bit weird to me.   In fact, it feels like someone wanted to be in Tron.  First seen in Amazing Spider-Man #650.



Stealth Suit II

I guess the idea of a stealth suit had not run its course yet, as it pops back up.  Kain stole the suit for his own, but dropped the whole tron thing for a 2 tone red and black look without spider-webs.  It has a couple of spider symbols on it and overall is a giant improvement over the first run of the steal suit.



Iron Spider

While Parker was working for Tony Stark, he got upgraded to an Iron Man version of spider-man.  Large mechanical arms reached out of the suit and had a ton of built in features you wouldn’t expect from Spidey like the ability to glide, cloaking devices, and scanners.  The coloring was also unique with the normal red merged with yellow, a color choice we don’t see to often with Spider-Man.  This suit had a pretty short life span existing more or less just during the time of the Civil War event.  While it wasn’t a bad design it felt so alien to his normal look I was glad to see him get back to his old ways. First seen in Amazing Spider-Man #529.



Anti-Sinister Six Spider-Man

Sort of a cross between the normal spider costume, the second stealth suit, and a football uniform.  Particularly in the mask and shoulder pads it very much reminds me of Night Thrasher from the first run of New Warriors.  It looked ok I guess, but Spidey has never been about the big armored suit, so this really didn’t do it for me.  I was glad to see that it had the limited use then it was back to his normal duds.  First seen in Amazing Spider-Man #682.



Spider Armor II

So there was a time when Spider-Man lost his spider-sense, which really is one of his main defenses.  Without his spidey sense getting shot was a real possibility so he built this new armor to be able to take the damage he would normally just dodge.  We get Yellow for a second time, now mixed with black, in a combination that seems very much influenced by the Ronin costume worn by Hawkeye during Dark Reign (or was it the other way around).  Either way, when I look at it thats all I can think of.  First seen in Amazing Spider-man #656.



FF Spidey

I will admit, this is my favorite look for Spider-Man.  Black and white is a great color palate anyways, and with the spider emblem it is very cool.  It was built by Reed out of unstable molecules (what else, man he seems to have a lot of those unstable molecules floating around) and could change its look switching the black and the white, or even going to his normal red and blue look. It really only had the life span of when he was on the FF, which is sad because this remains my all time favorite look for him.  First seen in FF #1.



Superior Spider-Man

And here is the weirdest turn in Spider-Man’s history.  With Doc Ock having taken over Spider-Man’s body and playing the not so good, good guy, the costume changed.  Its the normal red and blue, but he has added these kinda weird optical eye things which honestly I am not a big fan of, and claws (I guess to show how vicious he is now).  Its close enough to the red and blue to not be terrible, but it also just doesn’t feel right.  Which I guess considering the story line may have been the intention.  First seen in Avenging Spider-Man #15.1.


Ok, so those are the suit highlights (I know I skipped most the clones and symbiotes suits).  Next time we will go over the ladies of Spider-Man where we realize what a player Mr. Parker is.

Marvel in these (Marvel) Comics Book Facts

by Travis Starnes, CMRO Editor

Literary theorist Edward W. Said once said, “I don’t remember when exactly I read my first comic book, but I do remember exactly how liberated and subversive I felt as a result.”

Do you share the same sentiment? You’re not alone. In 2012, fellow comic book aficionados accounted for $700-730 million worth of U.S. comic book sales! Let’s take a look at some other fun, comic book facts.

Comic Book Craze

85.6% of Marvel comic book readers are male, and 14.4% of Marvel comic book readers are female.

When it comes to total comic book sales, Marvel Comics accounted for 39.06%, making it the highest-selling comic company on the market!  Following suite in total sales were DC Comic at  26.38%; Image Comics at 7.6%;  Dark Horse Comics at 4.82%, and IDW Comics at 4.75%.

A whopping $248.44 million is the average amount of money that’s annually spent on the Top 300 comic books from each month.  Additionally, the average comic book price of monthly Top Seller is $3.44.

For all you Comic Con fans, the total annual regional revenue for Comic Con is an impressive $162.8 million. There are also 125,000 Comic-Con attendees, along with a $10 price tag for each Comic Con celebrity photo.

The following data highlights an overall estimate of the North American Market size, including estimates for newsstand comics and bookstore TPB sales.

Year                  Market Size

1997                  $300-320 million

1998                  $280-300 million

1999                  $270-290 million

2000                  $255-275 million

2001                  $260-285 million

2002                  $300-330 million

2003                  $350-400 million

2004                  $420-480 million

2005                  $475-550 million

2006                  $575-640 million

2007                  $660-700 million

2008                  $680-710 million

2009                  $650-700 million

2010                  $660-690 million

2011                  $660-690 million

Gender & Profession

 According to Bleeding Cool, Marvel released 64 new comics in December 2012 that featured 563 credited creators: 482 men and 81 women.  Marvel has 2x broken the record for the highest percentage of female creators; beating their original, December 2011 percentage of 9.8%.  I find it particularly interesting that the only place women make up the majority at a comic company is as an assistant editor.

Going down that rabbit hole, it’s also interesting to think about how prominent those women in comics today are.  Sure there are a  handful that are easy to name like Kelly Sue Deconnick or Gail Simone, but can you name any others?









Who Companion Gillan the Latest Addition to Guardians

by Travis Starnes, CMRO Editor

As we get closer to principle photography starting on Guardians of the Galaxy, the first non-sequel coming out in Marvel’s second round of movies, the cast is being firmed up and word is going out about who will be in the movie.  The next addition to the cast is Karen Gillan best known for her roll as Amy pond, one of the beloved Doctor Who companions who recently left the show.  It is as yet unknown yet who she is playing in the movie, although we do know she is not one of the listed Guardians.  The announcement only listed her as the “lead female villain”.  With the distinction of “female villain” and knowing Lee Pace and Michael Rooker have been tagged as being the films villains, it is hard to say exactly how big her role really will be.

There was a report back in April that Ophelia Lovibon was going to be a villain in the move, and a suggestion that she would be an aid to the Collector, an immortal being who possess one of the infinity soul gems.  This report, originally from THR, was later retracted and since there has been no mention of her at all attached to the film.  It is possible that the role is the same and Gillian is just stepping into the role.

The suggestion that it could be connected to the Collector does have a hint of possibility to it however.  In the comics, the Collector was one of the two people who at times possessed the reality infinity gem.  The other was Thanos, who is considered by many to be a sure thing as the villain of the next Avengers movie.  If that is true, and knowing how Marvel likes tying their projects together, then there is a possibility that this connection might be a way to weave the Guardians movie into the fabric of the Marvel Movie universe.