Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
Comic-Con International has come and gone, and like every year, we’re left with a metric ton of announcements, hints, speculations, sneak previews, leaked footage and open questions.
There also seemed to be more pre-convention announcements than I can remember seeing in previous years. If the past week or so of frenzied news wasn’t enough, panel coverage and from is still rolling out. Based on the past several years, we should see those continue to be doled out for the next week or two.Comic-Con is truly a month-long event, maybe almost two months when all is said and done. So it’s understandable if it’s sometimes difficult to keep track of what was announced when or to even remember that awesome thing I was so excited about a week ago but can’t name now.
There are plenty that stuck with me, however; I’ve already written about comiXology’s DRM-free titles, and some of Image’s upcoming titles, and there were plenty of others. Of course, I can’t mention all of the cool things to emerge from Comic-Con — that would just be a near duplication of everything we’ve heard about for about a month now. So instead, here are six (more) things from Comic-Con I can remember thinking were extra-awesome:
1. Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman
I generally prefer to focus on the comics news, but I feel like this merits mentioning. Obviously Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is going to be a big deal when it’s released almost two years from now. Heck, it’s already a big deal. But I just couldn’t get excited about what I’d seen before Comic-Con, which amounted to photos of Mopey Batman and Brooding Superman. However, the image of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was the first thing that caught my attention. Yes, the colors are drab as ever. Yes, the costume looks like she raided Xena’s closet. Yes, Godot is small in stature, and not anything like the classic Amazonian physique. Yet somehow I can forgive all of those issues because Gadot sells the whole thing. I believe her as Wonder Woman. I also like that the costume has some design nods to Cliff Chiang’s excellent take on Jim Lee’s New 52 costume. The movie will probably end up being as much of a humorless sludge as Man of Steel, but this is the first thing I’ve seen that makes me consider buying a ticket.
2. Cameron Stewart is a rock star
Not only did he collaborate with Babs Tarr on the fantastic new look for Batgirl, not only is he co-writing and handling layouts for Batgirl, which the Internet continues to flip out over, but he’s also the artist for the upcoming graphic novel sequel to Fight Club by novelist Chuck Palahniuk. We already knew Stewart was pretty great: from the elusive dream fugue of his webcomic Sin Titulo, to his arresting artwork on the fantastic war comic The Other Side with Jason Aaron, to his superhero collaborations with Grant Morrison, such as the absurd Seaguy, and Batman and Robin. I’ve long admired his artwork, which can shift for each project but never lose its clear storytelling and magnetic charm, but I don’t know if I ever would have thought he would be working on two of the hottest projects right now. According to Stewart, he got the jobs within two days of each other. News of the Fight Club sequel has been getting a lot of buzz, even with mainstream press that usually only talks about TV and movie news from Comic-Con. Palahniuk first announced his intentions to make the sequel as a graphic novel at last year’s Comic-Con. Fight Club 2 will be released by Dark Horse Comics in May 2015 as a 10-issue limited series.
3. Image Comics’ unexpected new titles
Whenever Image Comics has one of its Image Expos, the news that comes out of it is a big event, and the special Expo a week ago was no exception. I already raved about plans for From Under Mountains, Southern Cross and Invisible Republic, but there’s more where they came from. The publisher also announced fantastic-looking books from the likes of Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire, and others. But among them are two books that some people might not expect from Image, from creators not generally associated with the publisher. It’s just another sign that the scope and diversity of content at Image continues to improve.
People, Tom Neely has an Image Comics book coming. Tom Neely. This is amazing. Yes, Henry & Glen Forever is hilarious, but his graphic novel The Blot and his painted novel The Wolf are troubling in all the best ways. His contributions to IDW Publishing’s recent Popeye resurrection is sublime. He’ll be doing a crazy ’70s exploitation pastiche called The Humans, about a biker gang of apes.
Perhaps even more unconventional (if that’s possible), Ray Fawkes has produced the experimental graphic novel One Soul, along with a number of acclaimed works, including a conceptual sequel to One Soul called The People Inside that’s coming out in August from Oni Press. Fawkes’ Image Comics ongoing series Intersect will be fully painted, and will be an unexpected approach to horror and mystery.
4. Marvel Team-Up secretly returns as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Marvel Comics seemed to learn its lesson in the late ’90s, when the X-Men films were supported by some of the most impenetrable comics known to man. Since then, the publisher has at least made attempts of varying success to have some kind of book in place to catch any stray fans of the movies and, now, television series. So it has been strange that there’s been no comic book tie-in to Marvel’s first self-produced live-action show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Coming in December, trusted writer Mark Waid will handle the series, which will feature done-in-one stories drawn by a rotating stable of artists, starting with heavy hitters like Carlos Pacheco, Alan Davis and Chris Sprouse. The series will be set firmly in the Marvel Comics Universe, with guest stars teaming up with the agents each issue. It’s reminiscent of the classic Marvel Team-Up series from the ’70s and ’80s that starred Spider-Man, who at the time was Marvel’s best-known character. That comic served as a great gateway to the rest of the Marvel Universe, and similarly, this series might just introduce an extra-enthusiastic fan of the show to the rest of Marvel and comics in general.
5. Drawn & Quarterly remains awesome with pair of World War II manga
I openly confess to being pretty manga-ignorant. Fortunately that is gradually changing after reading some truly amazing books, and I’m always on the look-out for something new or new to these shores. The North American manga market is generally dominated by Viz Media, rightly so considering the breadth of material it publishes. But Viz isn’t the only game in town, and while the manga market has contracted in recent years, it’s heartening to see publishers more known for their Western publications still contribute to producing significant work from Japan. Drawn & Quarterly is among those publishers, and its plans for next year include two perspectives on World War II. That’s a period well covered, but Japan’s relationship with that time doesn’t get a lot of coverage here in mainstream entertainment. History geeks and World War II buffs, rejoice!
Hitler: A Biography by Shigeru Mizuki, originally produced in 1971, will be released in 2015 or 2016. D&Q has released a number of works by Mizuki, including the Eisner-winning Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, which tells the artist’s own experiences as a soldier in World War II. That work was released in 1973, just two years after Hitler, so it should serve as a fascinating counter-point.
Scheduled for release in February, Trash Market by Tadao Tsuge is a collection of six short stories that explore post-World War II Japan, examining the nation’s veterans and Tokyo’s slums during the occupation. All of the stories originally appeared in the 1960s and ’70s. Tsuge is a well-regarded creator known for darker character-driven tales with the sensibility of a journalist.
6. Los Bros Hernandez win Eisner Awards
Now, just like Susan Lucchi with the Emmys, Los Bros Hernandez have finally won Eisners after years of nominations. I love the Eisner Awards, but this was easily one of the biggest oversights in their 26 years. For whatever reason, this year’s judges finally got it right, despite a lot of worthy nominees in both categories. The Eisner Award for Best Short Story went to Gilbert Hernandez, and Jaime Hernandez won Best Writer/Artist, both for work in Love and Rockets: New Stories #6. Love and Rockets began in 1982 and quickly won wide acclaim. The Eisners recognized the seminal work they were doing from the awards’ first year in 1988, when Love and Rockets was nominated for Best Continuing Series and Best Black and White Series, a category that has since been discontinued. Unfortunately in both instances, they lost to Paul Chadwick’s Concrete, and so began a trend that continued with surprising regularity until this year. The brothers have won a lot of awards, and it’s not like the lack of wins hurt their career any, but it’s nice to see them finally recognized by one of comics’ major awards. It was a hard won and much deserved victory.