Current Transmissions

The Fifth Color | How much does AXIS change for Iron Man?

AXISIt’s time to talk about Avengers/X-Men: AXIS, a crossover whose storyline effects aren’t discussed much, whether in the current comics — which titles affected by the “axis” are really hit and miss — or with an eye to the future. I’m trying to re-read all my Hickman Avengers books to prep up for next year’s Secret Wars, so AXIS gets left behind in the fan consciousness, which is a shame because the concept is really fascinating.

The Red Skull steals Professor Xavier’s brain (a phrase I never get tired of typing) and uses his telepathy to become a super-powerful evil Nazi. All the heroes band together to stop him, and even get villains involved in the fight. Because something of Xavier is still present in his brain matter, the Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange work up a spell that would flip who’s in charge of his mind; the Red Skull would be the echo and Xavier could be in command long enough to get the heroic victory. When Doctor Strange goes down in the middle of the spell, Doctor Doom steps up to complete it and, unsurprisingly, things don’t go according to plan.

While whatever happened to the Red Skull is still in question, the rest of the heroes and villains in the fight have switched alignments. Traditional bad guys are now acting heroic, and good guys have more villainous traits. Take Tony Stark, for example: He’s a philandering ego-maniac, living it up in a fancy mansion on the West Coast and working on ridiculous technology with little to no care on its effects on the public. He’s drinking again and dismissing his friends, leading Pepper to chastise him … and this all starts to sound like Iron Man 2.

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Creative process: Dreistadt and Gibson on ‘Capture Creatures’

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Next week, BOOM! Studios’ KaBOOM! imprint launches Capture Creatures, a new ongoing series by writer Frank Gibson and artist Becky Dreistadt. It’s the latest evolutionary step for a property that began as a website with 151 Dreistadt paintings of cute creatures (inspired by Pokemon) before being Kickstartered as a 300-plus page collected edition with Gibson-written character descriptions.

In anticipation of the series debut, Dreistadt and Gibson shared six exclusive process pages with ROBOT 6 that follow the art from initial pencils (Dreistadt) to the inking stage (by Kelly Bastow), followed by colored pages by Tracy Liang and, finally, letters by Britt Wilson. Along with the process pages, Dreistadt and Gibson also detailed the influences and challenges behind bringing Capture Creatures to KaBOOM!

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Spider-Man gloves allow people to climb walls

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Superhuman speed and strength still may be out of reach, but scientists have devised a way to scale buildings like Spider-Man.

Popular Mechanics reports that researchers have developed gecko-inspired adhesives gloves that can lift a 200-pound person up walls. Well, certain walls.

“To work, the surface you’re climbing needs to be relatively smooth; like glass, varnished wood, polished stone, or metal,” says Elliot Hawkes, the Stanford mechanical engineer who led the research team, “but you can attach and detach with very little effort, and to make [the gloves] stick all you have to do is hang your weight.”

You can see Hawkes demonstrate the gloves in the video below.

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Conversing on Comics with Derf Backderf

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Derf Backderf spent the first 40 years of his life aiming, and ultimately succeeding, to become one of the top cartoonists in alternative newspapers. However, he then realized that niche industry was failing, and he needed something else; that’s when he found graphic novels.

Since switching his focus from newspaper strips to graphic novels in 2000, Backderf has transformed from a virtual unknown to a curiosity to an international star, with books like Punk Rock & Trailer Parks and his most famous work, My Friend Dahmer. He’s now working on on a graphic novel for Abrams about his time working as a garbageman, as well as a pseudo-sequel to Punk Rock & Trailer Parks that explores his time growing up in the Midwest punk scene.

Backderf’s opinion on comics as a fan and as a professional has changed over the years as he’s witness the decline of the once-thriving alternative weeklies, the rise of graphic novels and the changing face of American comics. I spoke with Backderf about his experiences, his acceptance in Europe, and his own opinions on comics.

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Polish town rejects ‘half-naked’ Pooh as playground mascot

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Even as Batman, The Joker and other costumed characters fight for their place in Times Square, a certain willy silly nilly old bear has found himself banned from a playground in Poland.

According to the Croatian Times, Winnie-the-Pooh’s troubles began not with a honeypot but rather when officials in the small town of Tuszyn (87 miles southwest of Warsaw) tried to settle on a mascot for the public playground. When talk turned to A.A. Milne’s beloved character, the town council’s more conservative members protested.

What followed was the Hundred Acre Wood version of swiftboating — Poohsticking, maybe? — as he was accused of being “inappropriately dressed” and of “dubious sexuality.” Yes, during a town council meeting, that was thankfully recorded by one of the members and then leaked to local media.

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Batman and Joker take their fight to New York City Council

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Longtime arch-enemies, Batman and The Joker faced off once more on Wednesday, only this time about a plan to require Times Square’s costumed characters to be licensed.

Wearing makeup and a red suit embellished with black bats, the Clown Prince of Crime told New York City Council’s Consumer Affairs Committee that the bill amounts to “fascism.”

“I might look like a clown but I’m speaking from the heart,” the New York Daily News quote The Joker, aka Keith Albahae, as saying. “I do this from my heart and not for tips. OK, I do ask for tips. And many people are glad to give them, but this is about the First Amendment and this is about discrimination. This straight-up seems like fascism.”

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DC and Vertigo reveal Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals

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DC Entertainment will get a head start on the holiday-shopping season with a seven-day Black Friday sale on Batman digital comics.

Between Nov. 25 and Dec. 1, the publisher will offer 750 Batman issues — titles ranging from Gotham By Gaslight to The Dark Knight Returns to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s current run — for 99 cents each. They’re available for purchase from the DC Digital Store, Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, comiXology and Google Play.

As that offer ends, Vertigo’s Cyber Monday sale begins, with the first collected volumes of 23 titles — from The Sandman to 100 Bullets to Promethea — available for download for $4.99. The offer is for one day only, on Dec. 1.

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Comics A.M. | National Gallery adds first comics to collection

Arcade: The Comics Revue #1

Arcade: The Comics Revue #1

Museums | The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., has added comics to its permanent collection for the first time. Abigail and William Gerdts donated 176 comics, including Zap Comix and Arcade: The Comics Revue. Judith Brodie, curator of modern prints and drawings, cited the influence of comics on artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein: “They were all drawing their inspiration from cartoons and comic books. It seems totally logical that we’d want a representation of those.” [The Washington Post]

Passings | Greek cartoonist Ilias Skoulas died passed away Thursday at age 87. Skoulas began his career as an editorial cartoonist at the age of 32, and his work was published in numerous Greek newspapers and magazines, as well as 13 books. [Greek Reporter]

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Kia wheels out special Wolverine-themed ‘X-Car’

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Kia Motors, which previously partnered with DC Entertainment for a line of Justice League-themed Optimas, is now sinking its claws into Wolverine. Or rather, Wolverine is sinking his claws into a Kia.

The Korean automaker has produced a one-off Sorento that brandishes the popular antihero’s signature claws — and claw marks — to help promote the Blu-ray and DVD release of Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past in Australia. The car also will be displayed in January at Melbourne Park for the duration of the Australian Open, which is sponsored by Kia.

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Grumpy Old Fan | DC hopes you’ll heart Harley in February

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In April, DC Comics released solicitations for its July titles alongside an extra batch of advance listings for the September Futures End-related one-shots. This week, in a move that’s perhaps unintentionally similar, the publisher’s February solicits arrive amid advance info about the spring’s Convergence tie-ins.

The scheduling gap isn’t quite as great — only a couple of months here, as opposed to five months last time — and I can understand why DC would want to avoid a lot of negative fan speculation about Convergence. Still, it steals some thunder from the current batch of solicitations, which try to compensate with a raft of Harley Quinn variant covers (including, strangely enough, one for Harley Quinn itself). In addition to her own series and Suicide Squad, Harl also gets a Valentine’s Day Special, another hardcover collection, a statue, an action figure, and a guest-shot in Deathstroke. At this rate I’m expecting her to be Wonder Woman’s new Amazon queen.
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Check out Geof Darrow’s take on the world of ‘Korra’

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I somehow missed that Geof Darrow, the Eisner-winning artist of Hard Boiled and Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot and creator of Shaolin Cowboy, has drawn a poster based on the fan-favorite Nickelodeon series The Legend of Korra.

Inspired by “Book 4: Balance,” the limited-edition (signed and numbered) print is colored by fellow Eisner winner Dave Stewart, and available from the Nickelodeon store for $64.99.

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Thought Bubble: A social media overview

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In case you weren’t able to make this year’s Thought Bubble: The Leeds Comic Art Festival, ROBOT 6 has rounded up snippets of the overall experience through social media. The festival, now in its eighth year, was held Nov. 9-16, ending with a two-day convention on Nov. 15-16. Beyond the final two-day event, Thought Bubble offered more than 80 comics-related opportunities — some in cooperation with the 28th Leeds International Film Festival.

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DC argues Spanish soccer club logo is too much like Batman’s

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DC Comics is reportedly challenging the new logo of a Spanish soccer team, insisting it too closely resembles the familiar Batman emblem.

According to Eurosport, La Liga club Valencia C.F. sought to register a trademark for a variation of its crest, leading the publisher to file a complaint with the European Union’s Office for the Harmonization of the Internal Market.

As the website notes, the bat has been used in Spanish heraldry since the 13th century, and is part of the coat of arms of Valencia and other cities in eastern Spain. Valencia C.F. has used bats in its club logo since 1919, two decades before the debut of the Dark Knight in Detective Comics #27.

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Artists reimagine Batman, with some sci-fi and fantasy flair

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Virtually everyone, fan and creator alike, has his or her own of what Batman acts and looks like. To that end, the Facebook art group Brainstorm asked its members to redesign the Dark Knight — just one in a series of challenges — to stunning results.

The Brainstorm Facebook page has been rampant with designs, some keeping the superhero elements while others delve into fantasy and sci-fi. The entries come from artists of all skill levels and from around the world.

Here are six pieces, out of the hundreds submitted, that stood out. Head to Brainstorm’s Facebook page to see even more.

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James Gunn reveals ‘Guardians’ secret ‘Awesome Mix Vol. Zero’

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The name of the soundtrack for the Guardians of the Galaxy, Awesome Mix Volume 1, suggests that at some point we could see a second volume. However, before Volume 1 sold more than 500,000 copies, there was actually a “Volume Zero” — or at least a playlist put together by director James Gunn and production sound mixer Simon Hayes and used between takes on the set of the Marvel blockbuster.

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