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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. So hop in your time bubble and join us as we look back at the last seven days …
The MoCCA Fest in New York City can warm the heart of even the most grizzled comics cynic and give them hope for the future of our medium. There, inside the cavernous Lexington Avenue Armory, you can see an amazing array of young and mature talent, from students at the School for Visual Arts (who put together a superbly professional anthology) to creators who have a couple of solid books and are heading up the curve to mature comics artists who are in their prime.
My weekend started Friday night at Drink and Draw Like a Lady, a studio party for women that was packed with young, aspiring comics professionals. At the show the next day, I was impressed with the quality of the work on display. Shows like MoCCA showcase not only new comics and graphic novels but the comic as art, and the handmade comics are my favorite part. The lineup of panels was impressive, with Alison Bechdel talking to Howard Cruse, and panels on design, children’s comics, and comics and protest movements. I had a ticket to the Art Spiegelman/Joost Swarte panel and got to spend an hour listening to them reminisce about the history of underground comics here and in Europe, egged on by moderator Bill Kartalopoulos. That alone was worth the trip.
This is the second year the Society of Illustrators has run the show, and several people commented to me how well they thought it was run. The floor was laid out logically, so it was easy to move around, and the admission price was dropped to $5, which left more money for attendees to spend on comics. The giant Charlie Brown balloon hanging from the ceiling gave the show a festive air and dampened the echoes a bit; it also served as a handy navigational tool: “I’m right under Charlie Brown’s butt,” one exhibitor said. I saw somewhere that attendance on Saturday was as much as last year’s entire weekend, and it doesn’t surprise me. This is the incubator for the comics of the future, and right now it’s running hot. (Brigid Alverson)
While it is a shame that life events frequently call on the comic book community to support their peers in need on seemingly a weekly basis, it is heartening to see the community as a whole always rise to the occasion. As noted in recent Robot 6 coverage, Cully Hamner’s friend, fellow pro and former studiomate Joe Phillips was in need of a prosthetic foot (to replace the one amputated last fall due to diabetes complications).
In order to help Phillips, Hamner launched a GoFundMe campaign and set a both modest and realistic goal of $5,000 at the outset. That milestone was reached rather quickly once word spread of the need. This week saw the goal not only met, but exceeded by another $5,000. As Hamner noted when thanking donors early in the week: “If everything goes right, Joe will be walking into SDCC this year.”
Here’s hoping once Phillips gets acclimated to his new prosthetic, he can get back to a normal routine in his studio and we’ll soon be hearing news of a new upcoming project. (Tim O’Shea)
Amazing Spider-Man: Family Business is out this week and is a pleasant surprise from a book promising to reveal Peter Parker’s long lost sister. I’m not one for messing with one of the most well-known and simple origins in comics, but trust me when I say that Mark Waid and James Robinson know what they’re doing. It’s a fast, fun story with traditional adventure Peter Parker in full swing (pun intended) that takes us across the globe with promises of secret treasure and super spy secrets; if I say anything more, it’ll spoil the twist but long time readers will be clued in about half way through.
The artwork from Gabrielle Dell’Otto and Werther Dell’Edera is well worth the higher price point on this original graphic novel; the detail they pack into painted work and rich pencils is above and beyond what we see on a weekly basis and the larger format shows it all in glorious detail. This also includes a digital cpy as well for your collection (or a friend’s!). It’s quick, I’ll be honest, but the story is solid and a nice snack before the return of Peter Parker later this month. (Carla Hoffman)
Artist Francis Manapul has working for DC for a few years now, bringing his distinctive style to Superboy (with writer Geoff Johns, in Adventure Comics) and the Flash (also with Johns), starting with the series’ 2010-11 iteration. However, his New 52 Flash collaboration with Brian Buccellato unpacked a wide range of storytelling tools, including kinetic layouts and an engaging approach to the characters, that made the title stand out. This week, Manapul and Buccellato brought their talents to Gotham City for one of the medium’s biggest venues, the Bat-granddaddy Detective Comics. It’s a bit unusual even for ‘Tec‘s rich history, since many of the great Bat-creative teams — among them Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers, Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle, and Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan — started there, as opposed to coming in from somewhere else. (MIke W. Barr and Alan Davis are one of the few exceptions, having worked previously on Adventures of the Outsiders.) Indeed, the first three pages mention a “new start,” and specifically that “this place has the potential to be great for both of us.” Clearly they appreciate their new gig.
However, they’ve tweaked their approach for Batman’s gloomier world. The scenes are just as expansive and the colors just as evocative, but the layouts are just a tad more conventional — slower, even — allowing the reader to focus on what’s in each panel. This gives the issue a greater sense of place, and brings the reader more fully into the environment Manapul and Buccellato have depicted. For example, page 9 goes from a closeup of two crooks on a motorcycle, to a wide shot of the cycle racing down the street (with a shadowy Batman pursuing in the distance), and ends with a sequence of three vertical panels, each bisected at a slight angle, showing Batman keeping pace with the cycle. That’s about as fancy as it gets — although the next two pages are a double-page layout that ends with a grimly-triumphant Bat-shadow — but it’s only a hint of what this team did on Flash. Even so, it’s a gorgeous page, with Manapul contrasting pale pinks and oranges against the blue-whites of artificial lights and the purples of the background.
Oh, and there’s a story too, or at least a good start to one, featuring an optimistic community activist, a Wayne deal that needs not to be made, the return of an obscure Bat-foe (from the early Jason Todd days, in fact) called The Squid, and a new-ish drug called Icarus. Manapul and Buccellato are also plainly interested in exploring the New 52 Batman specifically, since they emphasize Bruce Wayne’s role as father to Damian, and link the events of this issue to a speech of Bruce’s from “Zero Year.” Accordingly, the new team has set the stage nicely. Here’s hoping they can — sorry in advance — make lightning strike twice. (Tom Bondurant)
If you’re Neil DeGrasse Tyson, maybe you watch a space movie like Gravity and notice what it got wrong. If you’re a fan of superhero comics, maybe you watch Gravity and wonder how someone with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men might have handled Sandra Bullock’s orbital predicament.
This week, as reported by (among others) our sister site Spinoff Online, Krishna Bala Shenoi’s mashup dramatized what many of us were no doubt thinking in theaters last fall — namely, Superman could fix this in about 30 seconds. It even provides a new rationale for the accident that sparks the movie.
I thoroughly enjoyed this alternate take, and look forward to similar re-interpretations — say, a big musical featuring Catwoman and Wolverine; or a period romp where Batman and Lois Lane get Hawkeye indicted, while leaving Will Tippin and Mystique holding the bag? (Tom Bondurant)