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Grumpy Old Fan | ‘Multiversity’: Adventures on Earth-You

Wabbit season

Wabbit season

Let’s get this out of the way: The first issue of The Multiversity is one of the craziest main-line superhero comics I’ve read in a long time. It’s self-referential. It attempts to engage the reader directly. It leaps around various parallel worlds in great flurries of color, off-kilter captions, and shouty dialogue. It’s apparently also a pretty-direct sequel to Final Crisis, writer Grant Morrison’s 2008-09 big-event miniseries, which — not that it matters much — took place under a different set of cosmological rules.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the interaction between those rules and the need to reference a potentially “invalid” story. Some readers may be frustrated (not unreasonably) by such interactions, and so far Multiversity isn’t making things easier.

Again, though, consistency across continuity reboots is beside the point. Indeed, with a giant one-eyed bat-thing intoning “WE WANT 2 MAKE YU LIKE US,” consistency itself appears to be one of Multiversity’s main villains. Change the emphasis slightly and the plot becomes more insidious. “We want to make you like us” — i.e., happy to exist in a state of “anti-death,” an everlasting “moment of ruin.” The imagery isn’t very subtle, and commentators have already compared the Gentry’s members to DC and other big comics publishers. For that matter, Morrison and artist Cameron Stewart made the globular, monocular corporate mascot Mickey Eye the symbol for all that was wrong in the superhero world of Seaguy.  (Coincidentally, that hero also had a funny-animal sidekick.)

My review could end up being in the form of a cop-out, but saying that readers get out of Multiversity what they put into it might actually be the point of the series. As a superhero comic, Multiversity #1 is perfectly decent. Penciler Ivan Reis, inker Joe Prado, colorist Nei Ruffino and letterer Todd Klein present it in an attractive package. (The fact that Reis is the current Justice League penciler probably has its own metatextual significance, given the subject matter.) However, just as the Multiverse is a framework for various parallel realities, so Multiversity #1 provides a framework for engaging with those realities — and that’s a little harder to quantify.

SPOILERS FOLLOW, assuming plot still matters for this sort of thing.

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‘Grooting’ has entered the lexicon

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The 40-second scene from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy depicting a Baby Groot dancing to Jackson 5′s “I Want You Back” is so adorable that it’s taken root in our hearts, leading to countless works of fan art, and the creation of little potted replicas, both official and … not.

But it also has introduced the world to a new word: grooting.

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Artists Jim Evans, Coke Novarro take on TMNT for ‘Yokai’ project

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Paramount Pictures has released two new pieces of from “The Legend of the Yokai,” an international art project that explores the ancient origins of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Long before Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael emerged to face Shredder and his Foot Clan soldiers, the story goes, there were four heroic Kappa — ancient turtle warriors abiding by the pillars of honor, courage, wisdom and brotherhood — who vowed to protect a village overrun by a an evil warlord and his army of demonic monsters. To celebrate the tradition, and the international rollout of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, the studio commissioned more than 30 artists from 16 countries to explore the epic’s connections to the Heroes in a Half Shell.

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Hello Kitty shocker (she isn’t a cat!) isn’t all that shocking

Hello Kitty BookThe story that broke Wednesday in the Los Angeles Times rocked social media, and had a lot of people questioning whether everything they know is wrong: Hello Kitty isn’t a cat.

Anthropologist Christine Yano received the news when she was writing the annotations for a Hello Kitty show at the Japanese American National Museum:

That’s one correction Sanrio [the owners of Hello Kitty] made for my script for the show. Hello Kitty is not a cat. She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She’s never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it’s called Charmmy Kitty.

However, it turns out Hello Kitty isn’t human, either. RocketNews 24 contacted Sanrio and got the straight dope, which comes down to a difference in terminology: Hello Kitty is a 擬人化 (gijinka), which they translate as “a personification or anthropomorphization” — like Mickey Mouse or, in a parallel some have drawn, like the pipe in René Magritte’s The Treachery of Images. They further added that Hello Kitty does indeed have a mouth, it’s just not drawn (most of the time, anyway).

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Sensational idea, less-than-wonderful execution: ‘Sensation Comics’ #1

sensationLast week saw the return of Sensation Comics to store racks, as DC Comics repurposed the long-defunct title for a new Wonder Woman anthology series, featuring stories by rotating creative teams that debut online as part of the publisher’s digital-first initiative. It’s a strategy the company previously used for similar anthologies Legends of the Dark Knight and the soon-ending Adventures of Superman.

It’s a great idea, and one well past due. Unlike Batman and the Man of Steel, Wonder Woman has long been confined to a single solo title, with fewer miniseries, specials and one-shots, and is more often subject to drastic new directions, due to a perceived notion the character needs to be “fixed.”

The current Wonder Woman series is a good example of this, with Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang and company reintroducing the character with an “Everything you thought you knew was wrong!” origin, accompanied by a weird and dark backstory for the Amazons, and a London setting for the heroine.

Last time I checked in with Wonder Woman, the title character was the demigod daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta and had become the goddess of war, dispatching her foes with magic swords — and when she’s really in a pinch, she takes off her power-dampening Amazon bracelets, which allows her to “power-up” into a sort of glowing Super-Wonder Woman.

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Talking Comics with Tim | Jimmy Palmiotti on ‘Sex and Violence Vol. 2′

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It surprised me to see Jimmy Palmiotti pursuing yet another Kickstarter in 2014, considering he had successfully completed one earlier in the year for Denver. This new one, launched this week, focuses on Sex and Violence Vol. 2.

My decision to interview the veteran writer wasn’t based on aiming to help him achieve his Kickstarter goal; he’s days, if not hours, away from achieving that. Instead, I hoped to tap into some of the knowledge that allows him to so effectively operate crowdfunding campaigns (many of the completed projects can be bought at the PaperFilms shop).

Not only did the creator offer some of the lessons learned from his past Kickstarters (hint: avoid the shipping costs from hardcover), but he also proved quite candid about the challenges of swimming in creator-owned waters. Palmiotti also was willing to elaborate about his perspective on last week’s controversy about Milo Manara Spider-Woman #1 variant cover.

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Batgirl enlists some unlikely help for Ice Bucket Challenge

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First, Archie Andrews took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and now it’s Batgirl’s turn!

Challenged by Stella of the Batgirl to Oracle podcast to take the plunge for charity, the incoming Batgirl team of Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr came up with a creative response: They recruited Barbara Gordon to stand in for them in a fun comic strip — and she brought along some unexpected help.

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Six Flags unveils Justice League, Joker and Harley Quinn rides

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Six Flags has announced a 2015 slate of new attractions at its 18 theme parks that includes the 3D interactive ride Justice League: Battle for Metropolis, the roller coasters Batman: The Ride, The Joker Chaos Coaster, and the Harley Quinn Spinsanity.

Arriving in the spring at Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags St. Louis, Justice League: Battle for Metropolis allows visitors, equipped with special 3D glasses and stun gun, to explore the Hall of Justice, battling Lex Luthor and The Joker, who have kidnapped Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, Green Lantern and Supergirl.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Kuroko’s Basketball’ manga comes to an end

"Kuroko's Basketball," on the cover of "Weekly Shonen Jump" #39

“Kuroko’s Basketball,” on the cover of “Weekly Shonen Jump” #39

Manga | Tadatoshi Fujimaki is bringing his manga Kuroko’s Basketball to an end. The final chapter will run in the Sept. 1 issue of Shonen Jump, followed in October by the release of the 29th and final collection. The manga isn’t licensed in North America (although the anime is), but it became famous worldwide after more than 400 threat letters were sent to venues in Japan hosting Kuroko’s Basketball events and to retailers selling the series. The perpetrator confessed to the crimes, and was sentenced last week to four and half years in prison. [Anime News Network]

Creators | Brian Truitt interviews two creators of Cloaks: actor David Henrie, who created the main character Adam, a street magician in New York who is recruited by a black-ops group, and Caleb Monroe, who wrote the comic. Says Monroe, “As a magician, Adam looks for underlying realities, those things many of us have forgotten or deceived ourselves about. Then he develops ways to slip those back into people’s lives disguised as entertainment.” The first issue is due out next week from BOOM! Studios. [USA Today]

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The ‘Genius’ of weekly comics

Genius #5Although U.S. publishers occasionally experiment with weekly series — DC Comics, for examples, will soon have three on its plate, with Batman Eternal, New 52: Futures End and Earth 2: Worlds End — comic books in North America traditionally have been released on a monthly schedule. It’s been that way for decades.

However, today sees the conclusion of weekly miniseries that not only make you reconsider that tradition, but also leads you to wonder whether the story’s impact would have been lessened by monthly release.

Created by writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman and artist Afua Richardson, the five-issue Genius was published weekly throughout August by Top Cow Productions (the final two installments went on sale this morning). This break from the tradition allowed the story to build a momentum that would have been missed had it unfolded over the course of five months.

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Kris Anka cuts loose with amazing Captain America illustration

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Kris Anka stays pretty busy as one of the regular rotating artists of Uncanny X-Men, but you want to see him take a spin on another of Marvel’s marquee franchises, look no further than his depiction of the Sentinel of Liberty and his supporting cast from Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Although Anka debuted the artwork only last week on his blog, it was produced a few years ago and never released. He explained it was intended to accompany Sideshow Collectibles’ Captain America Premium Format statue, but it wasn’t approved in time to be included in the packaging.

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Meet Travel Foreman’s new heroes, the New A-Holes

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Capturing readers’ imaginations with DC Comics’ New 52 series Animal Man, artist Travel Foreman has displayed an ability to create pitch-perfect superhero drama while inserting some gut-wrenching weirdness. And now, after working for most of his career for Marvel and DC, Foreman is putting the finishing touches on an anthology featuring stories written and drawn by him — including the provocatively titled “The New A-Holes.”

Called Zuerst Science Fiction Magazine, the anthology has been mentioned on social media by Foreman for years, but in a recent blog post, the artist says it should debut in “late 2014, early 2015.” Why should you be excited? Just take a look at the New A-Holes …

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Batman takes Manhattan in New York Comic Con poster

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The celebration of Batman’s 75th anniversary didn’t end with Comic-Con International: The Dark Knight also graces the DC Comics poster for New York Comic Con.

As you can tell from “The Bronx” plastered across the head of the Caped Crusader in Francis Manapul’s illustration, Batman will be leaving Gotham for New York City, at least for one weekend.

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DC introduces students of ‘Gotham Academy’ in new promos

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DC Comics has released three new promos introducing the students of Gotham Academy, debuting in October from writers Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher, artist Karl Kerschl and colorist Romain Gaschet.

Announced in June, the teen drama is set in the city’s most prestigious school, where students attend classes (and get into mischief) in “the shadow of Batman and the craziness of Gotham.”

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Homer Simpson takes Ice Bucket Challenge, quickly regrets it

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Never let it be said that Homer J. Simpson doesn’t have a social conscience. Also, never let it be said that he passed up an opportunity to stick it to Ned Flanders.

Responding to the viral sensation with impressive speed — this isn’t South Park, you know; animation typically takes time — Fox has released a video of Homer embracing the spirit, if not the actual title, of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. All right, maybe a glass of water isn’t in keeping with the spirit.

However, in grand Simpsons tradition, even that doesn’t turn out well for him …

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