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Grumpy Old Fan | DC’s December: happy golden days of yore

...'Miss Gordon' if you're nasty

‘Miss Gordon’ if you’re nasty

There’s a lot to like in DC Comics’ December solicitations, most of it due to the return of some old friends and the uber-nostalgic glimpses at a traditional status quo. It’s not like the New 52′s changes are being rolled back — I have no illusions about that, and I’m not sure how it would work if it did happen — but DC is always best served when it can channel the familiar aspects of its past in vibrant new forms.

THERE YOU GO AGAIN

I am starting to think Secret Six is the comic Gail Simone was born to write, even more so than Birds of Prey. There’s always been a dark undercurrent running through her DC work, from BOP to Batgirl to The Movement, but only with the Sixers could she really cut loose. Indeed, as much as I enjoyed Scandal, Bane, Deadshot and the rest, I’m eager to see what she can do with six cryptically united strangers, most of whom will probably be new to us.

Those who believe the traditional, pre-New 52 DC Universe is still out there, somewhere in the Multiverse, can reasonably hang their collective hat on the return of the Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis Blue Beetle and Booster Gold in Justice League 3000 #12. I’d go even further, and say this version of Beetle and Booster probably follows directly from the two “Super Buddies” arcs that Giffen, DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire produced in the mid-2000s. The second one, I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League, ended rather pointedly with Beetle and Max Lord sharing a happy moment. That, of course, stood in stark contrast to the Countdown to Infinite Crisis special, in which Max shot Beetle in the head, and then (a few months later) successfully dared Wonder Woman to execute him. Therefore, the Beetle and Booster of JL3K hail from an Earth where things turned out quite differently — but ironically, they’ve been awakened in a dystopian future where the Justice Leaguers are darkly twisted versions of their old selves. Not that Giffen and DeMatteis can’t find some comedy there, but I’m having trouble summoning up a bwah-hah-hah.

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DC favorites make headlines in ‘Saturday Evening Post’ tributes

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Artist Juan Carlos Ruiz Burgos recently added the above Zatanna illustration to his deviantART gallery, drawing our attention to his occasional series of frankly amazing tributes to the classic Saturday Evening Post covers using DC Comics characters.

In addition to Zatanna, surrounded on stage by white rabbits, there’s a heartwarming depiction of Clark Kent casually reading The Daily Planet as a little boy gapes in awe at Action Comics #1, The Joker and Harley Quinn on the run like Bonnie and Clyde, Wonder Woman listening thoughtfully to a little girl, and an autumnal Poison Ivy piece that’s probably not safe for work.

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Tempers flare at school board meeting in fight about ‘Persepolis’

persepolisA school board meeting in Murphy, Oregon, turned heated Tuesday when a board member went head to head with parents about Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir Persepolis.

According to the Medford Mail Tribune, the parents object to the availability of the graphic novel in the Three Rivers School District’s high school libraries. Some contend teenagers shouldn’t have access to the book without parental approval.

Depicting Satrapi’s experience as a child and young adult in Iran during the Islamic revolution, Persepolis has received almost universal acclaim. The 2007 animated adaptation directed by Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud was nominated for an Academy Award. The graphic novel was as the center of a controversy in March 2013, when Chicago Public Schools ordered its removal, sparking protests from parents, teachers and student. That order was quickly rescinded, but CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett asked that Persepolis no longer be taught to seventh-graders, as it may not be appropriate for that age group.

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Dark Horse PR director Jeremy Atkins exits after 10 years

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Jeremy Atkins, Dark Horse’s director of public relations, announced today that after a decade with the publisher, he’s accepted a job with Portland, Oregon-based brewery Rogue Ales.

“After ten years at Dark Horse Comics, where I have learned so much, made lifelong friends and been lucky enough to see the world preaching the four color gospel, I am moving on to the craft brewing industry,” he wrote on Facebook. “After this weekend’s Rose City Comic Con, I will join the marketing team at Rogue Ales! Their legendary Dead Guy Ale was one of the first to awaken my tastebuds to the glory of PacNW brews, and remains a favorite to this day. I am sad to say goodbye to my friends and family in comics, but excited for a new adventure and the chance to get back to writing. Look for Alex Cox and I’s comics creation to make it’s online debut in the coming months, and hopefully more to follow.”

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Warner Bros. could slash as many as 1,000 jobs

The Warner Bros. mural (photo by Jonah Weiland)

The Warner Bros. mural (photo by Jonah Weiland)

Warner Bros. Entertainment could eliminate as many as 1,000 jobs — more than 10 percent of its worldwide workforce — as part of studio-wide cutbacks confirmed earlier this month, Variety reports. However, the studio insists that although the cuts will be “substantial,” it hasn’t settled on the exact number of layoffs.

“The plans are still in process,” Dee Dee Myers, Warner Bros.’ new executive vice president of corporate communications, told TheWrap. “We’re reducing costs and it will result in reduced overhead, but the plans are not done.”

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‘Futures End’ Month, Week 3: More tie-in adjacent, really

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Hey, I didn’t know vampires could breathe fire! Comics really are educational!

September marches on, Wednesday by Wednesday, which means so too does DC Comics’ theme month. This year the publisher has suspended publication of its New 52 titles, replaced them with Futures End one-shots, and slapped new and improved (i.e. smaller) lenticular 3D covers on them, each bearing a “#1.”

One could certainly question the logic in tying all of the New 52 books, even the extremely popular ones like Batman, to a middling weekly series set in a possible future that will never come to pass and that seems to be a fairly reliable mid-list seller. But this week’s crop of one-shots demonstrates that, despite the fact that each book has the words “Futures End” in the title, many of them have somewhere between nothing and very little to do with the actual plot of the event series.

In the previous two installments of our weekly look at these specials, I recapped the basic plot of Futures End. But this time, I see I need not even bother. DC shipped 11 of the books this week, but I only read five — and the only thing those issues shared in common is that they’re set five years in the future (not that they had much of anything at all to do with Futures End).

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‘Dredd: The Musical’ makes a rousing case for ‘Dredd’ sequel

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Despite the continued optimism of star Karl Urban, a sequel to the 2012 film Dredd would seem like a longshot. Still, in the past couple of years plenty of fans have been a case for a return to Mega-City One, box-office receipts be damned.

However, none of those arguments has been as convincing — or as moving — as “Dredd: The Musical,” the latest video from Legolambs. With its refrain of “It’s time to make Dredd II,” the rousing anthem is performed by Urban and Sylvester Stallone (or close enough), who belt out lyrics like, “We’re well behind the schedule, we should be on Part 3. There are follow-ups for Iron Man and Thor, so why not me?”

If this doesn’t win over studio executives, then nothing will.

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As Scotland decides its future, a new hero emerges: Scotsman

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The fate of the United Kingdom will be decided in five hours, when the polls close on a referendum that determines whether Scotland will declare independence from England after 307 years. To mark the historic occasion, U.K. digital publisher Eco Comics has introduced an “all-new, all-Scottish” superhero in the form of Scotsman

The Mohawk Media imprint unveiled the character’s design on Wednesday. Eco Comics editor Stuart Buckley told ROBOT 6 that Scotsman will be introduced in the recently launched Englishman series, and a one-shot is already in the works. However, whether he’ll be Englishman’s friend or foe will depend on today’s vote.

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Comics A.M. | Graphic novel sales up 10% in bookstores this year

Saga, Vol. 1

Saga, Vol. 1

Graphic novels | Sales of graphic novels are up 10 percent so far this year compared to the same period in 2013, according to Neilsen BookScan, which tracks sales in bookstores and other general retail channels. In terms of unit sales, that’s about 5.6 million books sold this year, as opposed to 5.1 million in 2013. The trend is echoed by Diamond Comic Distributors’ numbers for the direct market, which show graphic novels up 3.8 percent in dollars and 5.8 percent in unit sales year to date. [Publishers Weekly]

Creators | Alison Bechdel is having a busy week: Following the news that she has been awarded a prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship, she announced her new book: The Secret to Superhuman Strength, a memoir of her obsession with exercise and a history of American fitness fads, to be published in 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [The New York Times]

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Jewish activists threaten boycott of London stores selling ‘Hipster Hitler’

hipster hitlerA group of Jewish activists is threatening to boycott and protest outside stores in the London borough of Camden that sell Hipster Hitler, a collection of the webcomic that satirizes hipster culture and the Third Reich.

If that doesn’t work, the Hampstead & Highgate Express reports, members of London Stands With Israel plan to buy and shred all copies of the comic, which some say is “sick” and “anti-Semitic.” They’re specifically targeting Mega City Comics, a Jewish-owned store in Camden Town.

Created in 2010 by James Carr and Archana Kumar, the webcomic stars an Adolf Hitler who wears trendy glasses, skinny jeans, thrift-store sweaters and shirts bearing slogans like “Eastside Westside Genocide,” “I (Heart) Juice” and “Death Camp For Cutie.”  It also features characters like Broseph Stalin, a sendup of the Soviet leader. Hipster Hitler quickly drew attention on Reddit, inspiring an Internet meme, T-shirts and homemade Halloween costumes.

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These custom ‘Batman v Superman’ figures set a high bar

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Director Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will arrive in March 2016, and with it an avalanche of merchandise, from lunchboxes and clothing to backpacks and, of course, action figures. However, FigureRealm user STjuggernaut is already making life difficult for official licensees with his impressive custom creations.

Using bits and pieces from other characters — a She-Hulk head here, an Indiana Jones whip there — he’s crafted 4-inch scale figures of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Ben Affleck as Batman (with and without his cowl). The join the Superman, Jor-El and Kryptonian villains he assembled based on Man of Steel.

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The Holy See gets unholy in ‘Roman Ritual’

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Exorcism has long been staple of horror fiction, whether film, television, comics or prose. But two Spanish creators are dialing up  turning it up a notch by showing a person in need of an exorcism who lives at the Vatican. That’s right, the pope is possessed.

Debuting next week from Amigo Comics, Roman Ritual is a four-issue miniseries by El Torres and Jaime Martinez that sees self-exiled Catholic priest John Brennan summoned to Rome when the Pope becomes possessed. It’s certainly a provocative premise, and Torres and Martinez don’t shy away from it.

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ComiXology unleashes second wave of DRM-free publishers

comixology-new-logo-thumbLess than two months after launching its DRM-free backup program, digital comics platform comiXology has announced a second wave of 14 more participating publishers.

Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Zenescope Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent and Top Shelf Productions are now joined in the program by IDW Publishing, Valiant Entertainment, Oni Press, Fantagraphics Books, Aspen Comics, Action Lab Entertainment, Th3rd World Studios, A Wave Blue World, Blind Ferret Entertainment, Caliber Comics, Creative Impulse Entertainment, Devil’s Due Entertainment, GT Labs Comics and Kingstone Media.

Digital rights management (DRM) allows comics to be read only with proprietary software. DRM-free comics are simply files — usually PDF or CBZ  — that can be accessed using different readers. They don’t come with any bells or whistles, such as comiXology’s Guided View.

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Power couples: ‘Superman/Wonder Woman’ and ‘Astro City: Victory’

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Superman is the world’s greatest superhero, Wonder Woman is the world’s greatest superheroine. They have so much in common — their superpowers, their costume colors, their hobbies, their social organizations — that they seem perfect for each other … if only it weren’t for that nosy reporter friend, or girlfriend, or wife, or object-of-his-affection that’s kept the Man of Steel more or less spoken for over the course of his 75-year career.

I suppose that’s why Superman and Wonder Woman so often become a couple in various out-of-continuity stories like Kingdom Come and Injustice, and a large part of why DC Comics decided to use its 2011 reboot as an opportunity to make the pair a super-powered power couple, one of the more dramatic, non-sartorial changes in either characters’ milieus the reboot has so far introduced.

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‘Flight’ artist spreads his wings with ‘Jellybots’

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After years of working on anthologies and as a concept artist, Nicholas Kole is looking to make a name for himself … with jelly.

The Rhode Island artist recently launched Jellybots, a webcomic about a boy named Sam who’s enrolled by his family in a prestigious school called the Frontier Academy. Not much else is known about the series, given that it’s just six pages into its run, but the concept material and pin-up art show Sam interacting with supernatural, whimsical and fluid jellyfish.

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