Robot 6

Comic-Con’s 6 biggest comics surprises

little nemo-idw

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland

In case you didn’t notice, Comic-Con International happened last weekend. As always, it was an epic affair with tons of announcements, stunts and surprises. Amid cannons firing, actors dressing up as themselves, and big movie plans, there were also a good number of genuine surprises from comics.

Usually I end up picking a winner of Comic-Con, but after Dynamite Entertainment flooded the air waves with announcements the days before the event, no one else seemed to stand out as the clear winner. It’s not that everyone slacked off, however: They brought a good variety of interesting and exciting projects, and a number of standout announcements made my ears perk up. So instead of declaring a winner, I’m going to run down my Top 6 Comic-Con surprises in comics.

Before I start, though, two publishers deserve a little recognition for serious contenders for the Comic-Con crown. Top Shelf Productions classed up the joint by bringing in Congressman John Lewis for the debut of his graphic novel, March: Book One with artist Nate Powell and co-writer Andrew Aydin. I have little doubt this trilogy will end up being a historic release with profound benefits for schools, libraries and organizations looking for a powerful teaching tool and first=person account of the Civil Rights Movement and non-violent resistance. Plus, come on, photos of Lewis meeting Neil deGrasse Tyson and Lou Ferrigno? Everybody else, just pack it up. Maybe not as much of a milestone, but IDW Publishing also deserves a nod for the pure quantity and variety of good-looking books announced.

OK, on with my list:

1. Fight Club sequel as a graphic novel

Author Chuck Palahniuk, whose 1996 novel was adapted into the cult film Fight Club, is writing a long-awaiting sequel. The trick is that it won’t be a novel, but a graphic novel! And this was announced very “Oh, by the way” during the Q&A of a panel, so there’s proof Comic-Con can still be spontaneous. In a way, he’s following the lead of Janet Evanovich, whose Dark Horse graphic novel Troublemaker with artist Joëlle Jones was a continuation of her Barnaby series. With the name recognition and following of Fight Club, and the original author’s direct involvement, this can’t help but be a big seller. I’m very interested to hear why Palahniuk chose graphic novel over traditional novel. Perhaps with the hopes of pulling in more of the movie fans? Whatever the reason, I don’t think I ever would’ve expected that. Fingers crossed he finds the right artist.

2. Graphic novel adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

No creative team was announced, but adapting the most famous work of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson is a bold move. This was another hugely unexpected announcement, but without the involvement of the late Thompson, I’m a little more worried about this being pulled off successfully. It also visually might have more to overcome. Not only is there the cult film, but also the influential illustrations of British cartoonist Ralph Steadman. A comics adaptation will have to find a way to stand on its own visually but also maintain the essence and spirit of a book that has generated a lot of passionate opinions. It may be an uphill climb, but IDW has a good track record, just looking at Darwyn Cooke’s adaptations of the Parker series alone. IDW CEO Ted Adams has stated he’s very serious about getting this right, so fingers crossed for what could be a crazy ride.

3. Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland by Eric Shanower and Gabriel Rodriguez

IDW’s second spot on my list is a resurrection of the landmark comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay. Even Google recognized the strip’s playful brilliance last year for one of its Google Doodles. It must be in the public domain by now, so I suppose it’s open season, but this is such a remarkable piece of work tied to one specific creator that it’s hard to picture someone else doing it right. So just who would have the audacity to continue such a sublime piece of 20th century cartooning? Eisner-winner Eric Shanower, who’s acclaimed for his multiple Wizard of Oz comics with Skottie Young at Marvel, as well other Oz comics and novels. He’s also the creator of the award-winning Age of Bronze, a massively ambitious retelling of the Trojan War. So he’s no stranger to faithful adaptations or expanding on established worlds. Artist Gabriel Rodriguez is the artist on Joe Hill’s horror series Locke & Key, which has also been nominated for several Eisners. Truthfully, the burden is on Rodriguez with this project because of the fantastical imagery McCay created. The good news is that Rodriguez is one of the reasons Locke & Key was such a standout comic from the beginning. There’s a wistful fantasy element to his art, and his abilities with portraying kids and teenagers is valuable here. The cover alone is a strong showing, able to recapture the spirit without being a slave to it. While it feels strange to see anyone else try to do McCay, I really hope they pull it off.

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4. Scooby-Doo Meets Batman and Robin by Sholly Fisch

This is just funny. According to CBR’s report of the panel where this was announced, the audience burst into laughter at the sight of the cover. That’s exactly the right response to this announcement. No doubt due to the overwhelmingly positive response to Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case’s Batman ’66 digital comic, DC is going to recapture the magic of the Dynamic Duo’s two guest appearances on The New Scooby-Doo Movies from late 1972. While those episodes don’t quite have the same cultural status as Adam West and Burt Ward’s versions of the characters, they are still fondly remembered. Sholly Fish is no stranger to either universe of characters, having capably written DC’s Scooby Doo, Where Are You? comic and comics based on various DC animated shows for years. No artist was announced, but so far this looks like it will be a fun splurge.

5. Revolutionary War by Andy Lanning

This was definitely a surprise, but sadly screams of trademark renewal. The odd line of angry-cyborg comics published under the Marvel UK banner are making a comeback. You know, the Q&A portion of Marvel panels usually get requests about some pretty obscure characters, which can be indicative of demand, but I can’t say I’ve ever heard of anyone asking about these guys. I don’t even think they got a passing mention in Sean Howe’s otherwise massively thorough Marvel Comics: The Untold Story. Still, it doesn’t mean something entertaining can’t be pulled out of there and Andy Lanning is a good candidate to do just that. Being largely raised on ’90s Marvel Comics, I’ll admit to having some Death’s Head II comics (even though the original is better) and to having a morbid curiosity about this.

6. Firestar joins the X-Men

Everyone is going on about how Nightcrawler is coming back in Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness’ Amazing X-Men, but we all know the real story is that Firestar is finally joining the X-Men. The co-star of the early ’80s cartoon Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends has long been relegated to the pages of Avengers or Young Allies, but her first proper Marvel Universe appearance was in the pages of Uncanny X-Men. Her own miniseries, beautifully drawn by Mary Wilshire, was solidly set in the X-Men corner, and those connections continued to resurface during her definitive depiction in New Warriors. Aaron appears to be a big fan of the character, she’s long been a favorite of mine too, and I can’t wait to see McGuinness’ rendition of her, so allow me this small moment of geeked out bliss.

While we’re on this ’90s kick, I also have to give honorable mention to the announcement of Sam Kieth’s The Maxx getting remastered.



Fight Club artist how bout Lee Bermejo?

I remember the Batman meets Scooby cartoons so well. I think they introduced me to Batman earlier than anything else did.

Good one, Trey!

The first 3 here have me anticipating :

Fight Club, Fear & Loathing, and esp Little Nemo

Scholly Fish wrote some EXCELLENT Batman The Brave and The Bold stories for the comic that accompanied the recent tv show. THis is gonna be fun.

There are worse things than to get relegated to Busiek’s Avengers. Just saying.

I’m PROBABLY most excited for the Little Nemo stuff personally. Origin II is up there though. I hated the first one but this feels a lot like Kieron Gillen does a James Robinson Times Past story or something.

The first thing I notice is that 3 of the top 4 are adaptations of non-comics properties (call it 2.5 if you want to give Batman credit for appearing with Scooby-Doo).

And everything that isn’t an adaptation of a non-comic is a revival of an old title or character.

Where are the new ideas?

My friend used to come back from Comic-Con talking about all the comic book movies that had been announced. I was like, “What about the new comics?”

scratchie: They were all announced at Image Expo two weeks earlier!

As someone who is just reading Simonson’s Thor for the first time (and enjoying the hell out of it), I was really excited by the prospect of reading his take on nordic mythology, unhinged from Marvel continuity. So, IDW’s Ragnarok was one of the more pleasant surprises for me.

Glad to hear it. Image is about the only publisher of any size who’s published any interesting new comics in the last couple/few years (IMO). Keep ‘em coming, says I!

You’ll want to keep an eye out for my KNIGHT RIDER reboot. Coming from LION FORGE Entertainment in September.

Brian from Canada

July 27, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Speaking of Brave & The Bold, one of the episodes has them meeting the Mystery Machine gang again in a mystery that involves Weird Al Yankovic — which means that we’ve now come a generation who was raised on that original cartoon and loved it.

ANY reference to the West/Ward days makes me happy these days. It’s not the gothic, introspective Batman of Burton/Timm or the brooding, realistic Batman of Christopher Nolan — but it’s damn fun to watch, even as cheesy as it is.

Brandon Seifert

July 27, 2013 at 12:52 pm

I had the same “Whoa, Firestar!” thought when I saw that announcement, Corey. But then… New Warriors fans will be New Warriors fans. ;)

I’m stoked about Marvel Revolution, personally. I was a huge fan of those Marvel UK books. Way weirder and more inventive than most stuff the American superhero publishers were doing at that time. Now if only they’d let me write one of the issues…

I thought having John Lewis there was the biggest thing.

The list is missing Afterlife with Archie

Afterlife with Archie was announced several months before Comic-Con.

“You know, the Q&A portion of Marvel panels usually get requests about some pretty obscure characters, which can be indicative of demand, but I can’t say I’ve ever heard of anyone asking about these guys.”

Just go to the CBR forums. Hell, just read Paul Cornell’s “Captain Britain & MI13″.

That is some of the saddest comic book industry news. Wasn’t SDCC where all the big news was announced??

Happy to hear about Firestar returning to her X-Men roots. ;)

This might sound stupid, naïve, old, and whatever but I’m just happy to see some “comic book news” come out the SDCC. The movie stuff is cool and all, but it seems to bury the comic book news from other comic book companies.

Just my opinion.

I think the news about Revolutionary War was definitely demanded by fans….the CBR forum itself is rife with these!

The person that said Lee Bermejo for the “Fight Club” Sequel graphic novel made a great choice. I think that artists like Bill Sienkiewicz, Simon Bisley, Glenn Frabry, or Dave McKean would be excellent choices for this.

The Death’s Head character always interested me…sort of like Deathlok. Glad he will be used again.

I remember Firestar’s first appearance in Uncanny X-Men well…it was in Issue #193. Was never a huge fan of her, but ! I am far more interested in seeing what she can bring to an X-Title than Nightcrawler returning to life. I found Age of Apocalypse Nightcrawler (who spent time in the 616 Universe as a member of Uncanny X-Force) far more interesting.

Talking about Origin II : I am just overjoyed that Kieron Gillen is writing an X-Title again. I would not have expected it to be a Wolverine book, as he has not written anything with Logan outside of AvX: Consequences, but his unfortunately short-lived Uncanny X-Men (2nd Series) was so brilliantly written, and one of the best lineups the team has ever had. Also, he is the only one who should be allowed to write Mister/Miss Sinister from now on.

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