Carla Hoffman, Author at Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
I know the precise moment I stopped caring about the Ultimate universe: Ultimatum. If I’m not mistaken, a lot of readers lost interest there and then, for good reason. I remember reading through the event and somewhere, maybe after the Wasp’s cannibalized corpse, or during the big confrontation with Magneto, with the callous assassination of Cyclops, I just couldn’t find it in my heart to care any longer. My energy could be spent on better comics. I could go outside, maybe learn a language. I could do anything but care about this storyline and the characters Ultimatum left behind.
Event books aren’t supposed to do that. As much as we might grouse about their prevalence, they do serve a very important purpose within their universes and Big Two comics as a whole. “Events,” where a larger plot is spread across several titles, effectively act as a lure; for DC and Marvel, they’re a Whitman’s Sampler, offering a taste of what’s going on to new readers and longtime fans. They have to be something big, really big, so that readers don’t want to be left out of this major catastrophe. In fact, the idea of “saving the world” leans toward very easy reading for people coming into the event. The more characters they have working on this big world-shaking event, the more at least one of them will stand out for the reader.
Well, NOW season is over, and hopefully a lot of the new titles will settle into their new places within the Marvel Universe. Not that we won’t see anymore #1 issues until the fall, but at least the full crop of them will be harvested later as await The Ultimate NOW or what have you for 2015. Until then, what looms on the horizon? What awaits our summer season on the shelves? What did he see? WHAT DID HE SEE!?!
That’s our teaser tag line for this year’s summer event, Original Sin. The Watcher is found dead on the moon with his eyes removed — and whoever possesses those eyes holds the key to discovering everything he’s ever witness. The start of what we know is uncovered with CBR’s press conference call with the House of Ideas. Writer Jason Aaron is leading the pack of Avengers books on this one, along with a surprise tie-in title that might not be what it seems …
But what does it mean for your pull list? And your wallet? Let’s look at Marvel’s May solicitations and see what’s what.
Valentine’s Day, with its reflection on love, is inescapable. That could be romantic love filled with cherubs and soft-focus lighting, or it could be friendly love, like those little paper Valentines you get in grade school or around the office. It could be family love, like roses for your grandmother to let her know you care. Heck, it could just be the love of chocolate and the knowledge that all those heart-shaped boxes will be on sale tomorrow.
Who we love is based on what we love about them: It could be their rockin’ abs, their sense of humor, their empathy or their discount sale price at the drug store. Maybe it’s elusive. Often times, what others love about us are qualities we can’t see in ourselves. Those are the aspects we have to recognize to better understand our loved ones and, most of all, who we are — because, as RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
No one in the Marvel Universe needed to hear a drag queen’s words of wisdom more than X-Men Legacy‘s Legion.
WARNING: Talking about Simon Spurrier’s X-Men Legacy series as a whole in vague terms and X-Men Legacy #24‘s huge spoiler, so go grab all the issues you can and read along!
The “Guy Card” doesn’t exist. No one can take away your masculinity however you choose to define that. So get out there and take dancing lessons or moisturize your face (note: I have no idea what would constitute the removal of a Guy Card because it doesn’t exist). In fact, there’s no such thing as a “Girl Card” either, so fail at wearing heels and makeup with impunity because no one other than yourself should have the power to call you on it. Be you, because that’s all we can be; pleasing everyone else is just way too hard.
What we do or don’t do shouldn’t be an indicator of gender, or race or sexual identity. I mean, we can make guesses, but that doesn’t tell you who you are inside, and it’s the inside that really counts, or so years of cartoon morality lessons have taught me. There’s no such thing as “not black enough” or “you act too gay to be straight,” because that says more about the person making those statements than the person they’re defining. The United States started out as just some humble little colonies trying to forge their own identity, coming to America to be themselves.
And some people want to be Carol Danvers.
WARNING: A spoiler-free review of Ms. Marvel #1 lies ahead, and I promise this is about as preachy as I’m going to get.
Yep, this year’s Marvel kickoff film is Captain America: The Winter Soldier, due out April 4 (which is a little weird considering the studio historically releases its films the first week of May, giving Free Comic Book Day a boost), so we’re starting to get that media blitz a-rollin’ with teaser trailers, Super Bowl spots and the like. However, nothing will be seen as consistently or as widespread as the movie posters.
Keep in mind, posters are a little boring these days, especially for action films. There’s a certain color palette used, that gray-blue shine and airbrushed effect that has become shorthand for “cold and hard.” You know, like an action hero. But I digress. The movie posters released for Captain America: The Winter Soldier have the traditional “‘people walking at you from a horizon line,” two different profiles of Cap with headgear on or off, Nick Fury looking like Samuel L. Jackson looking mean and, the one a lot of people are talking about: Black Widow.
There’s just something about Natasha. Everyone has an opinion about Black Widow as a character, about Scarlett Johansson’s body shape and about what the retouching of photos does to our perception of beauty and realistic expectations of women. A single image has caused so much of a stir, I can only imagine what people will do when she actually shows up in the film. Because we can’t talk about Johansson’s performance and Natasha’s place in the storyline, let’s focus on the poster.
WARNING: No spoilers, but if you’re sensitive to body issues, I understand if you’d want to skip this one today. Everyone is beautiful, Photoshopped or not, voluptuous or rail thin! Now let’s go complain about a celebrity.
Let’s get this one right out of the way: it’s going to cost you about 12 whole dollars to get the big finale to the Octo-Spidey era and the beginning of the return of Peter Parker. That’s some serious cash to spend, and it’s the price point that really takes me out of the story and into the “Well, isn’t this a fine marketing ploy!” territory.
Let’s face it, we all knew Peter was coming back; this isn’t the Ultimate Universe, after all, and there’s a movie career to think of. At the same time … maybe if it had just been regularly priced issues? Or if they’d been at annual prices? Or heck, just one of them at the big $5.99 bucks and the next issue back down to normal, I don’t know.
Is price how we demarcate importance in comics? Or is it the #1 issue? Or the anniversary issue? The amount of variant covers to be had? Could it even be the (gasp) the story inside?? Let’s take a look at April and see what’s going to be important in the months ahead for Marvel (or at least make our best guesses).
Today is different: If you own a copy of Black Widow #1 in its All-New Marvel NOW! form, I don’t think I have to tell you anything. You know what the book is like, you know it’s pretty awesome and that this was a long time coming, considering how popular the character’s been since debuting on the big screen. On the other hand, if you don’t have the issue, passed on picking up, or simply aren’t interested in the continuing (hopefully!) adventures of Marvel’s foremost super-spy, then please read on! There are so many reasons this book should hit the sales charts hard, and it’s difficult for me to find who this book isn’t for.
I mean, obviously it’s not Plato’s perfect comic book, and there are going to be some who give it a pass, but it just does so many things right! It hits so many sweet spots that were just right there for the taking that — well, just keep reading for a detailed list. And if you weren’t interested in the book, see if any of the following floats your boat, and then maybe give Black Widow #1 a second look?
I work in a comic shop (Metro Entertainment in Santa Barbara, California — cheap plug!), so to say that I’m wary of digital comics is an understatement. My livelihood depends on people wanting a physical copy of a comic book; if everything went digital, no more retail job. My store happens to work very hard at providing those physical copies of comics in every form we can put under one roof, including the rare opportunity for a deep back-issue selection. I can’t say it’s very cost effective, but having back issues from decades gone by available to customers has made many people happy and seek out our shop when traveling through California.
Buying comics from an actual person behind the register is a little like talking to a bartender: They know your name and what you like, and they can chit-chat about your woes with the business and give a few words of advice. I know the customer base, so I can provide off-the-cuff information about who’s on what book, when a title might be ending or, say, offer to save a Warren Ellis fan a copy of Moon Knight #1. I’m not saying that all this information isn’t online, but it’s nice to get that personal touch that we secretly crave. From a pile of 50-cent issues for a school art project to a rare copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, physical comics are still needed and wanted.
But for how long?
Today, Carla and Tom continue to muse through all the news the Big Two have brought us in 2013. See can read the first installment here.
Tom Bondurant: The Marvel Cinematic Universe (Avengers division) is now five and a half years old, and consists currently of eight movies, a handful of shorts, and a half-season of TV.
Carla Hoffman: Holy cats, we work fast!
Tom: However, it’s about to get a lot bigger, adding two movies next year, plus the four Netflix series (and the Defenders movie coming out of those). Clearly this looks like a long-term commitment — but how long can it go?
Carla: Ask me after Ant-Man. That’s going to be the hardest movie to sell to non-comic fans. If that turns out to be a surprise hit enough for Ant-Man (whichever alias he may be) to turn up in an Avengers movie, then I can’t think of a property that wouldn’t work on the silver screen as long as the right creative team is at work.
TB: See, I think Ant-Man just got a lot easier to sell, because now it’s “Paul Rudd joins the Avengers.”
OK, it’s the last weekend before Christmas. This is it: Time to gird your loins and brave those last-minute gifts for friends and family you’re just not sure about. Or heck, maybe you were invited some place and you feel like you should bring a gift along. A Secret Santa deadline? Unexpected company who doesn’t have anything under the tree? Did you just get something practical and want to supplement it so you’re not just the Sock Giver? Don’t worry, comics are here to help!
“But Carla,” you cry, “not everyone likes comics! I want to be cool and hip, not just the nerd who foists other nerd stuff on people!” “Well,” I reply, “comics are for everyone, even those who have no interest in the medium.” There are just so much comic influence in the media right now, from TV and movies to games and other visual aesthetics, it’s hard to escape comic culture entirely. Trust me, even those who have never picked up a comic in their lives and have sworn off the idea of ever looking at words and pictures together in a sequence have a little bit of comics in their lives somewhere and, this Christmas is a good time to capitalize on it.
If you can, please try and make it in to your friendly neighborhood comic shop for some of these goodies. They’ll be glad you did! Otherwise, Amazon has their last minute shipping dates here. All right, let’s do this …
The world is changing, and there’s very little we can do about it: No matter how much we fear or hate it, it’s just going to get squid face or tree bark-skin made of your ancestors, or some sort of cool whip-hand things … and I forgot whether I was talking about the new Inhuman characters or the numbers on the covers of my comics. Let me start again: Last month, I addressed how Marvel’s Tom Brevoort was talking about how the way we number comics is going to change to fit a market that demands #1 issues and fresh starts at a constant rate. I still think there’s a better way to handle the start of storylines and the need for a reference point for the new reader, but putting all that aside, this is just the world we’re living in now. We love the stories and the characters, we can work to figure out what sequence we’re going in.
Perhaps we’re looking at this all wrong? Maybe there’s another way to accept the #1 barrage that already works with how we view and read comics sequentially? Let’s look ahead to March and see if we can’t figure this out! Click and read on, Dear Friend.
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Spider-Man and Superman have very similar jobs in the world of comics: Both are the mascots for their respective publishers, both embody what kind of stories those companies tell (from the extremely powerful DC comics to the more personal Marvel style), both are unique in the realm of superheroes (or at least were at the time of their inception), and both underwent fresh reboots recently to update them for a new generation, much to the chagrin of their established fan bases.
On Thursday, we got the trailer for the second dose of Andrew Garfield and his super-excited-to-be-here hairdo swinging above New York City and facing down his next big threat. Or should I say threats, as this will not only continue his journey to find out about his parents but also about OsCorp’s role in their disappearance, making him the enemy of the Osborns plus Electro and the Rhino. We all saw the trailer, right? Spinoff Online has a nifty video with commentary from the actors and director.
After watching it, I wanted to compare the new Spider-Man to the new view we have of Superman, but really that’s just comparing apples and oranges. There are similarities, but the tone, style and message of both heroes are geared for different things. Especially now, with how modern movies are redefining major heroes for more general audiences and what’s in vogue story style-wise, both of these heroes are going to do different things for different people and to compare them would be a little antagonistic. A much better comparison would be looking at the new Spider-Man … and this guy:
There’s no going around it: Marvel’s fall event Infinity is a slog.
Some people buy the book, read it, and then wonder what it was they just read. Some hate it, like tasting cod liver oil, and swear off of it entirely. There’s so much going on in each chapter, and no one holds your hand and explains a thing outside of a few dense bits at the beginning from the previous confusing chapter. It’s the first event book I’ve encountered in a while that actually has required material to read up on before starting it. How many would understand half of what was going on if you hadn’t been trying to parse the first issues of Jonathan Hickman’s run on Avengers and New Avengers to start with? Those books are all over the place, from the far reaches of space to New York City and Wakanda and Atillan, and new places that just get bombed out the next issues. It’s hard to keep track of it all.
Infinity is a little like sticking your hand in concrete: It’s thick, difficult to push through, might break your fingers when you try to pull them back out. OK, that last part was an exaggeration, but you get the idea.
There just has to be a better way to do this every month. Not only is seeing previews for comics three months ahead of time a little tricky to keep up with and stay hyped for (kind of like finding out your Christmas presents on Halloween and remembering to act surprised on Dec. 25), but it’s also weird in a numbering sense. I know I’ve talked about this before, but Marvel’s Tom Brevoort has been handling some questions on how new NOW! is when there’s a bunch of No. 1 issues on the horizon. Some, like the new Wolverine #1 debuting in February, aren’t even new; the title will continue with its current writer and follow up on the current storyline. When you remember that comics are internally dated months ahead of the date they actually hit the stands, it’s amazing we ever know what is going on in comics.
But back to the numbering issue: Brevoort has talked about this on his Formspring-turned Tumblr account thusly:
Looking back, the first Thor movie was a marvel, no pun intended. It was the first of the Marvel Studios films not to have Iron Man in it at all, plus it was the first major step toward what we would come to know as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Incredible Hulk was really its own little world, with a little Stark tacked on at the end to hint at the idea that was still forming. By the time Thor came out, the path toward a full fledged Avengers movie was on the horizon and Thor was our introduction to the next Earth’s Mightiest Hero.
Although the character is difficult to translate, Thor showed modern movie audiences a near-perfect tale of a god humbled, heroic triumph and the kick-ass design of a Jack Kirby-inspired Asgard. There was a flexibility of tone and style that showed us the fantastic was possible too in the Marvel world of science and technology; Thor even explains to Jane Foster and the audience very clearly that science and fantasy aren’t that far apart, sort of justifying the god’s association with more science-based characters. The movie had an amazing balance between so many different themes, it’s still my favorite Marvel movie yet.
Sequels to such great films can be incredibly difficult. On one hand, they can often flesh out the elements we liked from the original while trimming a bit of the fat (see Star Trek II vs. Star Trek: The Motion Picture). The second film can strike directly to the heart of the matter, rather than spend time telling audiences where they are and why they should care about the people on screen. On the other hand, reference can equal preference, and when the second movie is nothing like the first, it can fall flat if it’s not what we were expecting. Not everyone can return for the second movie, be they actors, directors or designers, so cracks can form if there’s not a consistency from one installment to the next. Others can complain if the next movie relies too heavily on the first, “continuity porn” showing up on angry Internet forums or from more casual movie-going folk. It’s a lot of concern to carry with you into a sequel.
The good news is that the god of thunder bears this weight heroically in Thor: the Dark Work. I can’t say he juggles it all effortlessly, I can’t say it doesn’t seem a little awkward and uneven at times, but all the troubles are carried in an impressive spectacle. Want to know more? Read on!
WARNING: No spoilers. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen any plot details that I might discuss, so click with confidence!