Current Transmissions

Grumpy Old Fan | ‘Robin Rises’ but ‘Zero’ soars

My hero

My hero

Wednesday was Batman Day, the official date for celebrating the character’s 75th anniversary. It’s fine to have a Batman Day, I guess — I’ve been getting emails from online bookstores saying “Celebrate Batman Day with our sales!” so it’s coming across in practice like President’s Day — but Batman is so ubiquitous in pop culture that you might as well have a McDonald’s Day or a Coca-Cola Day. (In a perfect world there would be a Rockford Files Day.)

Anyway, appropriately enough, each of the two regular Bat-books DC published this week looked at one end of Batman’s timeline. Batman Vol. 2 #33 wrapped up “Zero Year,” the latest (and perhaps the most epic) version of the character’s origins; and Batman and Robin Vol. 2 #33 presented “Robin Rises, Part One,” the latest chapter in Damian Wayne’s posthumous saga. While the former ended impressively, the latter is off to a slow start.

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SDCC | Stan Lee cancels Comic-Con appearance

stan-lee-pole-dancing

Stan Lee has canceled his appearance at Comic-Con International in San Diego after reportedly losing his voice due to laryngitis.

“Stan is otherwise well and in good health,” a spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter, “though he is disappointed to miss the event and wishes everyone a great time.”

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SDCC | Gary Frank draws James Gordon for ‘Gotham’ teaser

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Fox appears to be bringing even more comic-book flair to its heavily promoted Gotham with a series of Who’s Who in the DC Universe-style character images. IGN has debuted the first, featuring Det. James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) as drawn by Gary Frank, known for his work on Action Comics, the “Curse of Shazam” story in Justice League, and the upcoming Batman Earth One.

Warner Bros. Television promises more images will be revealed in the lead-up to the Sept. 22 premiere of Gotham on Fox.

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SDCC | ‘Days of Future Past’ mobile game adds Storm, Polaris

polaris

In the first major update to its Uncanny X-Men: Days of Future Past mobile game, Glitchsoft has added Storm and Polaris as playable characters.They can be unlocked with the completion of the third level.

What’s more, the game is available for 99 cents from the App Store for the duration of Comic-Con International.

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Secret identity issues: Yang and Liew’s ‘The Shadow Hero’

shadow heroIn The Shadow Hero, cartoonist Gene Luen Yang collaborates with artist Sonny Liew to tell the story of Hank Chu, the teenage son of Chinese immigrants who run a small store in Depression-era Chinatown. As with much of Yang’s best-known work, this new original graphic novel deals with themes of cultural, national and racial identity, and the tensions and conflicts that arise when identities and outlooks collide.

Here, Hank finds himself pressured by his mother to become a wholly American invention, a sort of ultimate assimilation success story. She doesn’t want him to grow up to be a doctor or lawyer or politician, but a superhero, a thought put in her head when she’s rescued from a robber by the Superman stand-in The Anchor of Justice.

Their book is an excellent one, a perfect example of a modern superhero comic, masterfully and perfectly balancing comedy, crime, action, drama, melodrama, romance and fantasy into an epic story of a young man coming of age and finding himself.

As good as Yang and Liew’s story is, however, the story of their story may be just as fascinating, in large part because it’s true, and gives the comic they crafted a remarkable level of relevance. That story is told after the conclusion of The Shadow Hero, in the generous back-matter of the First Second book, presented in standard superhero-comic size, rather than the smaller, more square shape of most of the publisher’s offerings.

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SDCC | Tony Moore debuts ‘Assassin’s Creed: Unity’ poster

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Tony Moore has unveiled the Comic-Con International-exclusive poster he created with Angry Blue, to be released in conjunction with the Friday premiere of the Assassin’s Creed: Unity-inspired animated short he produced with musician-turned-director Rob Zombie.

The short will be screened Friday at 2 p.m. in Room 6BCF as part of a presentation that includes a demo of the upcoming Ubisoft video game and a Q&A. Just 500 copies of the silkscreened print will be given away at the convention, but Moore and Angry Blue will each have 100 available for sale on their websites.

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Red Hood joins ‘Batman: Arkham Knight’ as GameStop exclusive

arkham knight-red hood

After a little social-media teasing, GameStop has announced the Red Hood Story Pack DLC will be available exclusively to customers who preorder Batman: Arkham Knight from the retailer.

Developed by Rocksteady for Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment, Batman: Arkham Knight is billed as the explosive finale to the hit action-adventure video game series that launched in 2009 with Batman: Arkham Asylum. (For a complete rundown, read CBR’s coverage of the closed-door demo at E3 2014.)

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SDCC | Marvel offers another 99-cent Marvel Unlimited deal

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If you’ve wanted to explore Marvel’s massive digital archive, now’s your chance: For the next week, in celebration of Comic-Con International, 99 cents will get you a month-long subscription to Marvel Unlimited and its online collection of more than 15,000 classic and newer comics, dating from the Golden Age to about six months ago.

The publisher offered a similar deal in March for South by Southwest; a monthly membership normally costs $9.99, while a basic annual subscription is $69.

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SDCC, Day 0 | A roundup of the Image Expo announcements

image logoPreview Night stopped being a leisurely affair several years ago, as Comic-Con International grew so large that four “official” days couldn’t contain all of the news. Heck, five days isn’t even enough, with more and more comics publishers rolling out major announcements before anyone even started packing their bags for San Diego (BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse, DC Comics, Dynamite, IDW and Marvel all did so this year).

Image Comics planted its flag on Wednesday, amid the usual buzz about movies, television and video games, with its Comic-Con-adjacent Image Expo, where it announced a dozen new titles from such creators as Warren Ellis, Kurt Busiek, Rick Remender, Sean Murphy, Becky Cloonan, Jeff Lemire, Joey Casey, Dustin Nguyen, Marian Churchland and Gabriel Hardman. Comic Book Resources has the full report, and the text of Publisher Eric Stephenson’s keynote address, but we’ve gathered descriptions and images for each of the 12 comics below.

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The ballad of the boy who isn’t at Comic-Con

Becky Cloonan, humoring me at Comic-Con 2007

Becky Cloonan, humoring me at Comic-Con 2007

For the first time in 14 years, I’m not going to Comic-Con International in San Diego, not even for a day. I didn’t think this would bother me, but I have to admit that I’m bummed I’m missing out on the biggest week in comics.

There are numerous comics conventions across the country, and even around the world, that use the term “comic-con, but there’s just one Comic-Con. If you really need clarification, fine, call it the San Diego Comic-Con, or, as it’s becoming increasingly known, “nerd prom.” I scoffed at that nickname when I first heard it, because even after all this time, “nerd” still seemed derogatory (I blame my sister). But now I feel like it’s a perfect name for it, because just like your high school prom, everyone talks about it weeks and months beforehand, it seems like everyone is going, and if you aren’t, you feel left out of the fun.

Growing up in Massachusetts, I heard about two comic book events that were truly legendary, epic destinations that had to be experienced at least once in your life: One was in San Diego and the other was in Chicago. Only one of those two has really held on to its mythic status as a holy destination for anyone who loves comics, and the related family of genre and pop culture entertainment to which many of us have devoted so much. I moved to Los Angeles in 1999, and I knew an added bonus was that I would at last get to attend Comic-Con.

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‘Turtle fanatic’ papers New York City with TMNT decals

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Toronto may have the likes of Wonder Woman, Agent Cooper and Astro Boy watching over its neighborhoods, but New York City has Turtle Power.

That’s because for the past month 33-year-old Sean Haynes, an avowed “Turtle fanatic” has been spreading his love for the heroes in a half shell by creating his own Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles decals and sticking them around the city — on subway cars, bus shelters, wherever. He then uploads photos of them to his Instagram account, encouraging his followers to find them.

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SDCC | Where to find digital comics and webcomics

comic-con-fridayI’ve never been to a comics convention, but I can imagine it can be overwhelming — Comic-Con International especially, with its enormous exhibition hall, packed programming schedule and multiple venues. There’s a webcomics presence, but it remains something of a niche. A quick scan of events, for example, turns up more presentations on how to become big on deviantART than anything directly connected with webcomics.

There’s a powerfully strong digital comics representation, however. Perhaps this indicates a swing from the independent, comic strip-influenced world of webcomics to the formalized, floppy-inspired format of digital. Shoot, Publishers Weekly even arranged a panel to discuss that very thing on Friday morning with “Behind the Digital Line.” Mark Waid has an entire panel devoted to pitching ideas to Thrillbent. Monkeybrain Comics will have a roundtable about the benefits of publishing digitally. And on Sunday, “Digital Comics: Going Beyond the Page” will feature a discussion with a panel that includes Waid (Thrillbent) and Ron Perraza (formerly of comiXology and DC’s digital division).

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Quote of the Day | ‘We identified this need’

gotham academy1“Certainly when you relaunch a whole universe, something like the New 52, you’re gonna essentially create a bible that kind of guides and dictates the evolution and growth of the universe. We’re in year three of that, and certainly every story that’s created is done through the collaboration of an editor with the writer and the artist and the rest of the creative team. So I certainly think  Mark Doyle coming on and becoming the Batman Group editor was a big part of that. I think it’s also a recognition that our audience has evolved and we wanna make sure that we tell the stories that the audiences are craving. So we identified this need. We’re coming out with these different kinds of storylines, and, frankly, it’s exciting because we have a lot of Batman books, and I think it’s a disservice to the fans and to the character to have everything feel of the same tonality. I’m a big fan of Becky Cloonan, so I’m really looking forward to her work on Gotham Academy. I think it’s healthy for the business, and it’s an exciting time to be a Batman fan.”

– DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Jim Lee, talking with Entertainment Weekly about the decision to take “the Batman world” in a different direction with the newly announced Arkham Manor and Gotham Academy. (He also mentions Batgirl among the developments he’s looking forward to in the back half of Batman’s 75th anniversary celebration.)

ComiXology offers 100 comiXology Submit books for $10

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ComiXology is celebrating its fifth anniversary with a deal that’s pretty difficult to pass up: a bundle of 100 titles from comiXology Submit, its self-publishing platform for independent creators, for just $10.

That’s 10 cents each for comics like Wolves by Becky Cloonan, Aw Yeah Comics! #1 by Art Baltazar, Franco and others, nemu*nemu: Out of This World by Audra Ann S. Furuichi, Feather #1 by Steve Uy, and The Pride #1 by Joe Glass, Marc Ellerby, Joshua Faith and Gavin Mitchell. Plus, y’know, 95 others.

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Finest known copy of ‘Action Comics’ #1 to be sold on eBay

action1 Horning in on Batman Day, eBay has announced it will auction a CGC-graded 9.0 copy of Action Comics #1, the finest known copy of the 1938 first appearance of Superman.

Just one other copy of Action Comics #1, the one previously owned by actor Nicolas Cage, has received a 9.0 rating from the Certified Guaranty Company, but it had “cream to off-white pages,” while this comic is considered to be in pristine edition. The Cage issue sold at auction in 2011 for a record $2.16 million; the expectation is, of course, that this copy, owned by collectibles dealer Darren Adams, will fetch a considerably higher price.

“The quality and preservation of this Action #1 is astounding,” Paul Litch, CGC’s Primary Grader, said in a statement. “The book looks and feels like it just came off the newsstand. It is supple, the colors are deep and rich and the quality of the white pages is amazing for a comic that is 76 years old.”

The eBay auction will be held Aug. 10-24, with a portion of proceeds going to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, which is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury.

You can view the comic on the CGC Comics website.

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