Robot 6

Best of 7 | Batman, Cyclops, ‘The Fuse’ and more

bestof7-feb16

Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out.

I should add that this post contains SPOILERS for Batman #28 and All-New X-Men #23, so read at your own risk. Now let’s get to it …

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Batman #28 brings back a fan favorite

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Batman #28 hit comic shops this week, and as writer Scott Snyder promised, it was spoiler-filled. Or is that Spoiler-filled. I guess not, since she’s only on the last page …

Steve Sunu broke down several of the big reveals in this “six months later” issue, but the one that really stands out is the New 52 debut of Stephanie Brown, a.k.a. Spoiler and the one-time pre-52 Batgirl. The fan-favorite character has been teased for some time — at least since 2011 — as being on deck for the New 52. But it’s been rocky for her ever since, as she was first announced and then pulled from DC’s out-of-continuity Smallville stories. Her fans didn’t waver, though, as they started a “waffle” campaign to return her to the DC Universe, and she even popped up in her own fan-made film.

“For me, I’ve been a fan of her for a long time, all the way back from her Robin status through what Bryan Miller did,” Snyder told CBR. “I love that series, the Batgirl series, I love it dearly and he’s a good friend. So it became about how do we bring her back if we’re going to do the New 52 version of her in a way that honors that character and keeps who she was at the core, but updates the notion of Spoiler? If she’s going to be Spoiler then why is she called Spoiler? What does that mean? Is she someone who knows everything, and does she know everything because of her father or something overheard or because of breaking in somewhere? Does she have all the secrets that everybody wants and that way can we update the idea of Spoiler to be the modern definition of what a spoiler is, and at the same time keep her who she was? It became about those questions, and we’re really happy how it came out.”

I’m guessing all those convention questions will now turn to Cassandra Cain … (JK Parkin)

Rucka takes Cyclops to the stars

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There’s not a lot of “father-son” relationships in the Marvel universe and the ones we have rarely work out for the best. Cyclops’s sad start as a little boy pushed out of an airplane and his father’s distant relationship with him as being an intergalactic Errol Flynn didn’t leave either of them a lot of time for ball games or fishing trips. Now, thanks to a time-traveling mistake and a Shi’ar trial, it finally looks like Scott Summers will get some quality time with his dad. This week, Marvel announced that Greg Rucka will be writing a new series where [SPOILERS] the all-new time tossed version of our pal Scott Summers will be getting some quality time with his father, the Starjammer Corsair.

On one hand, this is fantastic news because if anyone can turn a corner on Scott Summers, it’s Greg Rucka. He creates compelling characters in his sleep and watching him world-build (space build?) with the Starjammers will be fantastic. Just take a look at his webcomic, Lady Sabre and the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether for proof! In an interview with CBR, Rucka explains that Bendis hand-picked him for this series, since Rucka has a son about Scott’s age.

“For Chris, who has had reconciliations with Scott and Alex, but had them late, this is a very different opportunity. This is a chance to be there when he was maybe needed most. There’s friction between them. There are valid questions that Scott has that Corsair has to answer. By the same token, this isn’t meant to be angsty, “Dad, you don’t understand me!” That’s not the adventure that they’re going on.”

I can’t wait to read more of this mini-series (because let’s face it, this is Cyclops and the idea of him holding down any sort of long-term title would take an act of God, despite Rucka’s strengths and the dynamism of Russell Dauterman’s artwork) coming up in May. (Carla Hoffman)

Image Comics gives Revival something to Chew on

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It’s the crossover that no one demanded, yet it makes perfect sense, as the worlds of Tim Seeley and Mike Norton’s Revival crosses over with John Layman and Rob Guillory’s Chew.

Although there aren’t a lot of details revealed in the press release about the story or how exactly it will work — who writes what, and who draws it? — we do know that FDA agent Tony Chu will head to rural Wisconsin, the setting for Revival. Considering all the dead bodies that have popped up in that series, he’ll have plenty to “chew” on during his visit.

“Honestly, even I was shocked how well the two titles gelled together,” said Guillory. “It’s a really, really fun experiment that will surprise fans of both books, I think.”

Chew/Revival #1 arrives at the end of May. (JK Parkin)

Comics bring heart and humor to Valentine’s Day

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I’ve come to the conclusion that no one celebrates holidays like comics. Artists are always coming up with the best looking, most clever and fun ways to ring in whatever holiday is going on. This year’s Valentine’s Day seemed to top past years with publishers and artists posting online a number of really cute and funny images that both mocked and paid tribute to those silly Valentine’s Day cards from when we were little, endearingly filled with terrible puns and awkward expressions of friendship and romance.

Matt Bors set the bar high with his X-Men Valentine’s Day cards. Bors is usually known as a smart and scathing political cartoonist, so it was fun to see him go for something purely for laughs at The Nib. It’s not the first time he’s done so, but it’s always a treat. Perhaps best of all, it’s clear these came from someone who once read and loved X-Men comics. No movie X-Men here. My favorite was Magneto declaring “You’ve altered my magnetic pole” with not a hint of awareness of the naughty innuendo in his bewildered little face.

Yale Stewart posted a whole Facebook album’s worth of cards based on his hit fan comic JL8. These adorable cards are more faithful to those childhood cards although these days people might see a reference to the layout of Someecards. For me, the winner in this batch is a little Batman trying to play it cool with an off-handed “You’re alright, I guess”. Aw, you’re pretty swell yourself, little man.

This year, a few comic publishers also got in the act by releasing official Valentine’s Day images. IDW Publishing and Yoe Books used some great old romance comics to wish everyone a “Slappy Valentine’s Day” (oh, and to promote their upcoming Weird Love books). BOOM! Studios released a bunch of faux-cards on Twitter with Robocop laying down the law of love and Jet Jones from Royden Lepp’s wonderful Rust triggering the waterfalls with his “If I had a heart, it’d be yours” card. Not fair, BOOM! Not fair! Valiant Entertainment might win for flat-out jaw-dropper, though. Their image of their big bear Armstrong (of the funny Archer & Armstrong) does not let modesty or formalities keep him from getting to what Valentine’s Day is really about. Yes, Armstrong, it’s hot in here, and it is you. (Corey Blake)

Trudeau puts daily Doonesbury on indefinite hiatus

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Fans of the long-running strip wouldn’t exactly call this some of the week’s “best” news, but it’s monumental nonetheless: Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau announced this week that the daily comic is going on an indefinite hiatus. This will give Trudeau room to work on a second season of “Alpha House,” the streaming series centered around a quartet of Congressional roommates. Doonesbury isn’t going away entirely, since Trudeau will still produce new Sunday installments for the time being.

Although Doonesbury has taken breaks before (including last summer), its most extended sabbatical lasted 22 months, from January 1983 to October 1984. When the strip returned, its college-student characters had graduated, and its scope widened accordingly. However, that was almost thirty years ago, and one wonders whether Trudeau might bring the strip back only for one last victory lap. Certainly Doonesbury, which started in September 1968 as a college-newspaper strip, would have earned it. Over the course of forty-five years, Trudeau’s creation has grown from a wry collegiate feature into a pointed — and sometimes influential — examination of American politics and culture. Mike Doonesbury is now a grandfather, and his daughter Alex has literally grown up to be one of the strip’s main characters. Trudeau has satirized eight American presidents, from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama; and sent his characters across the country, around the world, and even (for a few weeks in the 1970s) to Skylab. They’ve fought wars, advised candidates and officeholders, and been everything from scientists to New Age priestesses. As the world has changed, they’ve changed too: Zonker Harris started out smoking weed on the Walden College football team, and now grows it legally in Colorado.

And yet, the strip doesn’t feel like it’s winding down. Trudeau may be ready for a break, but he’s somehow found a way to keep Doonesbury vital and topical. As Mike, B.D., Joanie, and Zonker have stepped back, Trudeau has created new characters like Sgt. Melissa “Mel” Wheeler, the Army mechanic; Jeff “Red Rascal” Redfern, and Zonker’s nephew Zipper. He’s also found new ways to use older favorites (for example, Roland B. Hedley Jr.’s hilariously inappropriate Tweeting). Doonesbury runs so well it’s hard to imagine it needing a tune-up — but obviously, if that means giving Trudeau the time he needs to pursue other work, then so be it. Regardless of how successful “Alpha House” is, and whether or not Doonesbury returns to the daily comics pages, Trudeau’s place in comics history is assured. (Tom Bondurant)

Johnston and Greenwood light The Fuse for Image

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To be honest, Antony Johnston is a writer who fell off my radar a few years back. Clearly that was a mistake on my part. While some consider police procedurals an overused fictional subgenre in comics, I remain partial to them. Particularly one like this which is set in space–or to be exact “22,000 miles up on an orbiting energy platform, in a five-mile-long jury-rigged steel city stuffed with a half million people.”

Johnston opens the story by showing the arrival of a new detective at the orbital platform–which gives artist Justin Greenwood a chance to show his talents early with a two-page spread depicting the scale of the platform. It is an interesting design on Greenwood’s part and helped engage me in the story fairly quickly.

The mixture of solid art with Johnston’s ear for dialogue made for a strong first issue. I also appreciated Johnston’s inclusion of homelessness (or as they are called in The Fuse “cablers”) to the narrative’s dynamics.

Finally I want to give co-creators Johnston and Greenwood credit for including colorist Shari Chankhamma and letterer Ed Brisson on the front cover. I wish all comics would do that. (Tim O’Shea)

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