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Grumpy Old Fan | The constant campaign, revisited

Trust me, this was a huge deal at the time

Trust me, this was a huge deal at the time

Several years ago, in a post for the old Great Curve blog that’s surely lost to history, I called DC Comics’ steady stream of crossovers the “constant campaign.” Just as winning candidates must shift from electoral strategies to actual governing, so I argued that DC had to stop churning and changing and settle into telling stories. These days DC isn’t so much into line-wide crossovers — not like 2004-09, when Identity Crisis led into Infinite Crisis and from there to Final Crisis — but it has a similar lack of focus.

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Although the New 52 makeover is only a little more than three years old, it’s gone through quite a bit of change. Many series, and many creative teams, have come and gone. The original 52-series lineup boasted a number of distinctive, idiosyncratic writer/penciler combinations. Now, however, with this week’s final issue of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s (and friends’) Wonder Woman, only Justice League, Batman and Batman & Robin have kept the same writer since the relaunch. Moreover, only the two Bat-books have kept the same writer and penciler.

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Stan Lee Media can’t assert Spider-Man ownership in Disney suit

Stan Lee Media

Stan Lee Media

Still reeling from its loss Wednesday in the Ninth Circuit, Stan Lee Media today suffered another defeat in Pennsylvania, where a federal judge ruled the failed dot-com can’t insert itself into Disney’s dispute with a theater company by asserting ownership of Spider-Man.

As you may recall, Disney in September 2013 sued Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based American Music Theatre, claiming its musical revue Broadway: Now and Forever used unlicensed elements Spider-Man, Mary Poppins and The Lion King. However, as Disney’s attorneys later noted, that “simple case” was “transmogrified” when the theater announced it had retroactively licensed Spider-Man … from Stan Lee Media.

That conveniently opened the door for the company to sue Disney, seeking a jury trial regarding ownership of Spider-Man, an issue Stan Lee Media argued had never been directly addressed by any court. It was certainly a creative maneuver using one of the few potential paths left to pursue its fight with Marvel and Disney (a clearly annoyed judge had warned in September 2013 that any attempt to amend its previous lawsuit against the House of Mouse would be “futile”).

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Humble horror bundle boasts ‘Afterlife With Archie,’ ‘Buffy,’ more

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If you’re looking for some Halloween reading, there’s still time to snag the Humble Horror Book Bundle, whose mix of prose and comic-book scares includes Afterlife With Archie, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Locke & Key. However, that’s only for starters.

Humble Bundle allows customers to purchase DRM-free downloads for as little as a penny, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity (in this case the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund).

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Creative process: ‘Wander: Olive Hopkins and the Ninth Kingdom’ #4

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One of the Monkeybrain Comics titles debuting this week on comiXology is the fourth issue of Wander: Olive Hopkins and the Ninth Kingdom, a series by Kevin Church and Grace Allison about an NYU student who goes on a bender only to awaken the next day in a fantasy realm. To mark the release of the new issue, Allison provided ROBOT 6 with a glimpse into the creative process.

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You too can have a Stan Lee cameo

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What do you get for the man — literally, the Man — who’s cornered the market on the superhero-movie cameo? Why, his own Stan Lee cameo. Get it?

Lisa Qui was commissioned to handcraft a cameo jewel of Stan Lee as a gift for the legendary creator — he wore it, as you can see in the photo below — and now you too can own one, from Geek Cameos Etc. It can be ordered in six colors, as a brooch, lapel pin, necklace or hair pin, for $15.

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Runton and Jensen’s sketches from Greenville’s ComicFest

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On Saturday, Greenville, South Carolina, retailer Richards Comics & Collectables hosted an all-ages ComicFest featuring a range of guests, including Andy Runton, Van Jensen, J. Chris Campbell, Gregbo Watson, Duane Ballenger and Tracy Yardley. Judging from the Halloween Costume Contest photos, the event drew a fair number of children.

Afterward, Owly creator Runton and Jensen (DC Comics writer, and author of the Kickstarter-funded Leg) gave ROBOT 6 permission to feature sketches the they drew at the event.

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Does size matter?: ‘Moon Knight’ Vol. 1

moon knightMarvel recently released Moon Knight Vol.1: From The Dead, collecting the first six issues of writer Warren Ellis and artist Declan Shalvey’s run on their newly launched Moon Knight ongoing series. As it turns out, it also collects the entirety of Ellis and Shalvey’s run on their newly launched Moon Knight ongoing series, as the pair left the book after those six issues.

Under most circumstances, creators departing almost as soon as they started would be a pretty clear sign that something was wrong behind the scenes, and would, in general, be regarded as a very bad thing. And Ellis and Shalvey leaving the book so soon is a bad thing, if only because they did such terrific work on it.

As odd as it may seem, they’re not leaving any story business unfinished, and the trade reads complete as is — there’s no cliffhanger at the end, no dangling plotlines, no characters in the lurch. That’s because Ellis didn’t write the book as if it were an open-ended, superhero serial narrative, but approached each of those six issues as a done-in-one, complete story. In all honesty, Ellis and Shalvey could have quit after three issues, or two or one, and Moon Knight would still read as a complete narrative with a beginning, middle and end.

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‘Age of Ultron’ trailer gets a Pee-wee Herman voiceover

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Appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Paul Reubens not only confirmed a new Pee-wee Herman movie, he stepped into character to provide a new voice track for Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer — providing the Marvel sequel with a little extra … gravitas.

If the Blu-ray release doesn’t include an option that allows viewers to choose between James Spader and Reubens as the voice of Ultron, then somebody at the studio as asleep at the wheel.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Big Hero 6′ drives up prices on original comics

Sunfire & Big Hero 6 #1

Sunfire & Big Hero 6 #1

Comics | Check your longboxes, folks: Copies of Marvel’s Sunfire & Big Hero 6 #1, from 1998, with a CGC grade of 9.8 are selling for $450 and up ahead of the premiere of the Disney animated film, and even non-graded copies are good for $25 or more. [ICv2]

Creators | Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick talks about the character, and her reaction to the newly announced Marvel film: “I feel so proud of her, like Carol is this person who lives in my head, and ‘look what you did, girl!’ It feels like a friend just got a promotion.” [Speakeasy]

Publishing | Chris Butcher announced that, after three years as marketing director, he’s left UDON Entertainment to focus more fully on his work for the Toronto store The Beguiling (where he’s manager) and the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (where he’s festival director). [Comics212]

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Marvel titles now include Jack Kirby creator credit

kirby-marvelEagle-eyed readers may have noticed a new entry to the credits pages of several Marvel comics released this week: a line acknowledging the contribution of Jack Kirby.

All-New X-Men #33, Fantastic Four #12, Inhuman #7 and Wolverine and the X-Men #11 include the phrase “Created By Stan Lee and Jack Kirby,” while Death of Wolverine: Deadpool & Captain America #1 states, “Captain America Created By Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.” The credits pages can be found below.

Added with no fanfare, the credits follow a settlement agreement announced last month, ending the five-year-old fight between Marvel and Kirby’s children over the copyrights to 45 characters created or co-created by their father — among them, the Avengers, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.

Neither side has commented publicly on their agreement beyond the joint statement, issued even as the U.S. Supreme Court was expected to decide whether it would consider an appeal by the Kirby heirs: “Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have amicably resolved their legal disputes, and are looking forward to advancing their shared goal of honoring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history.”

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Too many superhero movies?

black-panther-concept-8a438It was exciting Tuesday when Marvel Studios unveiled its Phase Three plans, with nine feature films, including Black Panther, starring Chadwick Boseman, and Captain Marvel, featuring the Carol Danvers version. However, amid the enthusiasm, there was some hand-wringing.

Are we about to be oversaturated with superheroes? Is the movie-going public going to get sick of capes and tights? Are superhero movies a fad that will go the way of the Western?

Between Marvel, Warner Bros., Fox and Sony, there are more than 30 superhero movies planned between next year and 2020. An average of five movies a year will be released, peaking in 2016 and 2016, with eight films each. No doubt more announcements will follow as we make our way through the decade.

This hasn’t gone unnoticed. Immediately after Tuesday’s press event, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was asked if he was concerned about the increasing number of superhero films. He pointed out that it’s “a challenge we’ve faced for many, many years.”

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Quote of the Day | Stephen Amell on how social media is like NSYNC

10177927_611880112230593_5846635559025964556_n“As happy as I am right now with Facebook, I think I’m done with Twitter. Twitter feels like a fad to me and I’ve been really disappointed by just the level of vitriol.

I don’t know if that’s a byproduct of the anonymity there, but when you’re sorta scrolling through looking at Twitter reactions to the show, they exist at the edge of each spectrum. They’re incredibly negative towards some characters. They’re overwhelmingly positive towards others … I don’t think Twitter’s important.

Think of social media like NSYNC. I think that Facebook is Timberlake, OK? And I think that all of the other forums are the other members of the group.

On the Facebook side, connecting with the fans in that way I think holds a lot more value, holds a lot more sway and it’s just been fun. I’m the same person as I was before I got this job, but this job has given me the platform to have fun and do interesting things on Facebook.

I personally haven’t encountered anything negative on Twitter. People I know have. And I think Twitter does a horrendous job of protecting those folks. When they have a better policy, maybe I’ll go back.”

Arrow star Stephen Amell, who has more than 2.7 million Likes on Facebook, discussing his social media presence and preferences during a set visit

Marvel marks National Cat Day with kitty covers

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In many households, every day is National Cat Day (the furry fellas insist on it), but Oct. 29 is when it’s officially observed across the country, with a special emphasis on pet adoption. Taking the occasion “VERY seriously,” Marvel is celebrating by posting a selection of Jenny Parks‘ delightful animal variant covers featuring Thor, Spider-Man, Iron Man and Wolverine.

But wait! There’s still more comics-related kitty cuteness: The Dodo profiles a dozen cats who make their homes in comic books stores, including the appropriately named Fat Cat Comics in Johnson City, New York. There are even some cat-themed reading recommendations. (Seriously, go read it; it’s my favorite thing today.)

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Ninth Circuit delivers another blow to Stan Lee Media

stan leeEven as Disney and Stan Lee Media argue their case in one appeals court, another has dealt a setback to the failed dot-com’s feud with its co-founder and namesake.

According to Courthouse News Service, a panel for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that a California federal judge made the right decision in 2012 when he dismissed a shareholder lawsuit against Stan Lee seeking millions in profits and ownership of his Marvel co-creations.

Stan Lee Media has long insisted that between August 1998, when Marvel terminated Lee’s $1 million-a-year lifetime contract, and November 1998, when he entered into a new agreement with the House of Ideas, the legendary creator signed over his likeness and the rights to all of the characters he co-created — Spider-Man, the Avengers and the X-Men, among them — to Stan Lee Entertainment, which later merged with Stan Lee Media. That company in turned filed for bankruptcy in February 2001; it emerged from protection in November 2006, and within months, the first of numerous lawsuits (against Marvel, Lee, Disney and others) was filed.

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It’s Gotham on ice as hockey teams celebrate Batman

toledo walleyes

When the Toledo Walleye and the Evansville IceMen next face off, it’ll be in a battle for Gotham City.

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Caped Crusader, Toledo’s East Coast Hockey League team is holding a “Heroes Night” celebration Nov. 22 that will see its players don a limited-edition Batman jersey reminiscent of the classic ’60s TV costume. Not to be outdone, the visiting IceMen will dress as The Riddler (sure, Mr. Freeze might’ve been the better choice, but might not have translated as well visually).

The jerseys will be auctioned off after the game, with proceeds going to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association, March of Dimes and the Walleye Wishing Well. A limited number of replica Batman jerseys will be available beginning Nov. 3 at the Walleye’s store.

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