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Grumpy Old Fan | Grant Morrison and the music of the spheres

Big Blue on the Great White Way

Big Blue on the Great White Way

In 2008-09, Grant Morrison wrote (and J.G. Jones and others drew) DC Comics’ big-event miniseries Final Crisis. While it wasn’t the last cosmic-minded crossover, in many ways it was the crest of a wave that had been building since 2004′s Identity Crisis. The fallout from Identity Crisis sparked a new “Crisis Cycle,” leading into 2005-06′s Infinite Crisis, 2006-07′s 52, 2007-08′s Countdown, and various smaller-scale tie-ins.

With Morrison at the helm, though, Final Crisis turned out to be pretty esoteric. Apparently this pleased almost no one, being a) too steeped in DC lore for the casual reader, and b) not sufficiently tied into the regular comics, and thereby not rewarding the every-Wednesday folks who’d been following all the buildup.

Nevertheless, two FC plot points had immediate effects on the superhero line that, for all intents and purposes, have carried over into the New 52: It brought back Barry Allen and “killed” Batman. I was reminded of the latter two weeks ago, when a one-panel flashback in Robin Rises: Omega indicated pretty strongly that Darkseid’s Omega Effect (coincidence?) sent the New 52′s Caped Crusader bouncing through the time stream, just like his continuity-complicated predecessor. Accordingly, like so many DC stories of yore, Final Crisis still seems to have happened, even if in a significantly altered form.

Before we get too much further, rest assured this post isn’t dedicated to figuring out how a Final Crisis-shaped peg fits into a one-panel Robin Rising hole. Instead, I want to talk about how another FC plot point is helping to alter my perceptions of continuity.

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Alarmed train passengers alert police to ‘armed’ Deadpool

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Deadpool has gotten away with fighting and dancing his way through Comic-Con International and even thrusting his pelvis into strangers on the street, but when he boarded the morning train in Sydney, Australia, loaded for bear, he may have been courting trouble.

The Herald Sun reports police stormed a peak-hour train Friday morning after receiving reports from alarmed passengers of a man dressed in a red-and-black costume armed with handguns, grenades and samurai swords. What they found was Reuben Rose, dressed as Deadpool and carrying fake weapons as part of Superhero Week, a campaign to raise money for the children’s hospice Bear Cottage.

“It might have been the swords. Or the guns. Or the grenades. Or the bullet belt,” Reuben later wrote on his Facebook page. “Either way, someone on the train was convinced I was a terrorist in a unitard.”

He was pulled off the train, and his plastic weapons thoroughly examined, but not charges were filed. According to the newspaper, police told Reuben he was “he was a bit of an idiot” for boarding the train like that. He was permitted to catch the next train, with his arsenal stashed away in his bag.

“They let me go but told me to call the police line before I leave work so that they don’t respond if someone calls on the home journey,” he added on Facebook.

There are plenty of photos of Deadpool with police on the newspaper’s website.

‘Brawl in the Family’ to brawl no more

imageVideo-game webcomics tend to gravitate toward the same crew of characters in general. Most everyone is going to do a comic about Mario, which also means that most everyone will eventually do that comic where Mario is a delusional plumber on mushrooms who gets stuck in a pipe.

Beyond that, however, it’s usually a roster of other visually recognizable characters: Pokemon, Kratos from God of War, Master Chief from Halo, Big Daddy from Bioshock, whoever is in Assassin’s Creed this year. These are the characters that populate the tribal knowledge of gamer culture. In a way, it’s not unlike superheroes. There are hundreds of pieces of fan art, video tributes and articles focusing on Batman, but who;s going to devote much time to, say, Silver Sable?

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Kris Anka offers limited-edition ‘Ladies of X’ print

ladies of x

Marvel’s X-Men titles have by far the highest number of iconic female characters in all of comics — whether it be the superhero genre or elsewhere. It’s thanks in no small part to the work of writer Chris Claremont and artists like John Byrne and Paul Smith, but man others followed, and added to the ensemble, including Joss Whedon and John Cassaday, who created Abigail Brand. And now artist Kris Anka is paying tribute to these X-Men in an expansive, limited-edition print called “Ladies of X 2.”

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Quote of the Day | Adam West on why ‘Batman’ endures

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“Why has it endured? Because you, sir, can be Batman — you hang out with me, and you’ll see. All you have to do is be crazy enough to fight crime 24/7, right?”

Adam West, responding to a question at Comic-Con International about the enduring popularity of the classic Batman television series

In a galaxy far, far away, Jeffrey Brown continues his ‘Star Wars’ saga

BobaJeffAmong the bigger announcements to come out of Comic-Con International was that Marvel will resume publishing Star Wars comics after a nearly 30 years, 23 years of which the license called Dark Horse home. We’ve known it was happening for a while, of course, but this was the official unveiling of titles and creative teams.

Completely unaffected by all of this is one particular pocket of Star Wars comics, those made by cartoonist Jeffrey Brown, who’s found a great deal of success in marrying his particular wit and style with the pop-culture icons of the franchise. That’s good news for comics and/or Star Wars fans who prefer  their take on that universe to be ironic and funny, and, of course, for little kids.

This month, the latest installments of Brown’s two ongoing Star Wars-related projects dropped, one from Chronicle Books, the other from Scholastic.

Brown’s professional, published relationship with Star Wars began with 2012′s Darth Vader and Son, a series of full-color cartoons based on the premise that Luke knew who his real father was at a very young age, and Vader was attempting to raise his innately heroic child as a single parent while balancing his home life with a rather demanding day job: that of a Sith Lord helping the Emperor rule the galaxy with an iron fist. That was quickly followed by Vader’s Little Princess, a collection of cartoons with the same premise, only substituting Leia for Luke.

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Driven by ‘emotional response,’ Mile High will return to SDCC

rozanksiAfter announcing over the weekend that Mile High Comics may not return to Comic-Con International because of the “detrimental effects” of publisher exclusives, CEO Chuck Rozanski has had a change of heart.

“… I want you to know that I ultimately did heed the outpouring of requests that I received from fans and professionals at the show, and renewed our booth for next year,” he writes in his latest newsletter. “In all honesty, however, I have to admit that my decision to renew at SDCC for one more year was driven more by an emotional response to all the kind words of support that we received, rather than any kind of good business sense. Simply put, I do not have any faith or belief that the circumstances that devastated our sales at this year’s convention will be in any way mitigated at next year’s show. Our comics publishers will all express sympathy with the plight of participating retailers at conventions, but will then continue engaging in behaviors that solely benefit them. Such is life.”

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Everything is awesome in LEGO remake of ‘Guardians’ trailer

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As fans gear up for the Friday premiere of Guardians of the Galaxy, YouTube sensation Forrest Whaley has released his shot-for-shot LEGO remake of one of the film’s trailers.

The video has received the seal of approval from Marvel, which publicized it on its website and Twitter accounts. Guardians of the Galaxy star Dave Bautista even got excited about it, tweeting, “Geek convulsions! This is my ‘its a major award!’ moment. So proud!”

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Comics A.M. | SCOTUSblog co-founder joins Kirby heirs’ appeal

Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby

Legal | Attorney Tom Goldstein, co-founder of the respected SCOTUSblog, has joined with Marc Toberoff to represent the heirs of Jack Kirby in their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of the Second Circuit’s affirmation that the artist’s contributions to Marvel between 1958 and 1963 were work for hire and therefore not subject to copyright termination. In a response filed this week to Marvel’s brief urging the high court to decline review, Goldstein and Toberoff again challenge the Second Circuit’s “instance and expense” test and its definition of “employer,” and argue, “Many of our most celebrated literary and musical works were created before 1978 and signed away to publishers in un-remunerative transactions. Termination rights were ‘needed because of the unequal bargaining position of authors.’ It would be hard to find a better example of this than the prolific Jack Kirby, who worked in his basement with no contract, no financial security and no employment benefits, but without whom Marvel might not even be in business today.” [Hollyqood, Esq.]

Retailing | Memo to politicians: You don’t win friends and influence people by taking up five spots in a comic store’s parking lot with your campaign bus on a Wednesday — especially when it’s Batman Day. [The Clarion-Ledger]

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Comic-Con’s six best moments

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

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:

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Read Chad Sell’s touching comic tribute to ‘The Authority’ #8

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In the wake of Comic-Con International, The A.V. Club launched a week-long celebration of comics — called, appropriately enough, Comics Week — that’s included a discussion about diversity by Janelle Asselin, Karl Bollers and G. Willow Wilson, an interview with Becky Cloonan, a spotlight on the comics-inspired song “Alley Oop,” and a comics tribute by Ryan Brown (God Hate Astronauts) to his influences.

However, as much as I’ve liked all of the pieces, my favorite so far is easily cartoonist Chad Sell‘s touching ode to Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch’s The Authority #8, and how the depiction of Apollo and Midnighter’s relationship affected him as both a closeted teen and as a budding artist.

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Looking back at Comic-Con International, by the numbers

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With Comic-Con International 2014 a few day behind us, everyone has a chance to unpack, rest up and get ready for the next big convention (New York Comic Con is Oct. 9-12, by the way). But before we’re completely finished with San Diego, let’s take a look at some interesting numbers from the big event:

Comic-Con International is by far the largest event on the San Diego Convention Center’s 2014 calendar, with its 130,000 attendees, in the words of The New York Times, “far outstripping the combined total of its next four largest conventions, expected to be about 62,500 people.” According to a convention center report (PDF), this year’s installment was estimated to have a $177.8 million economic impact.

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Watch Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’ as an 8-bit arcade game

avengers-8bit

Reports of the Avengers: Age of Ultron footage screened Saturday at Comic-Con International have you wishing May 1 would hurry up and get here … well, there’s nothing I can do about that. However, I can point you to the latest installment in CineFix’s 8-Bit Cinema series, which allows you to experience Marvel’s The Avengers once again, only this time as a classic arcade game.

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Public-domain heroes aim to get their own action figures

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Some comic book heroes enjoyed their heydays well before toymakers began churning out action figures, and therefore never found a place on shelves beside the likes of Superman, Batman and Captain  America. However, Bill Murphy hopes to change that with his Amazing Heroes Kickstarter campaign.

With a goal of $30,000, Murphy plans to produce a line of action figures based on the Black Terror, the original Daredevil, Stardust and other Golden Age heroes that have lapsed into the public domain. He says he even has the permission of the rights holders of Captain Action, a toy introduced in the mid-’60s, to produce a figure based on that character.

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SDCC | Scholastic to publish ‘Bone’ tribute edition

Bone: Out From Boneville

Bone: Out From Boneville

Scholastic’s Graphix graphic novel imprint turns 10 next year, and editorial director David Saylor announced at Comic-Con International that the imprint will kick off its anniversary with a new edition of its launch title, Jeff Smith’s Bone #1: Out from Boneville.

The new edition will include a new poem by Smith, illustrated in full color, as well as Bone tribute art from 16 creators, including Craig Thompson (Blankets, Habibi), Raina Telgemeier (Smile, Sisters), Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant), Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants) Jeffrey Brown (Vader’s Little Princess) and Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet).

The new edition will be published simultaneously in the United States and Canada.

In addition to Bone, Graphix is the publisher of Telgemeier’s Smile, Drama and the upcoming Sisters, Kibuishi’s Amulet and Doug TenNapel’s Bad Island and Cardboard. Seven Graphix books have made The New York Times graphic books bestseller list, and Sisters is likely to join them, as it is debuting with an initial print run of 200,000.

Saylor made the announcement Thursday night at Scholastic’s Comic-Con party, where Smith and most of the contributing artists were present. The poem was projected on a wall above the venue.


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