With director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel opening today nationwide (many theaters had screenings as early as 12:01 a.m.), it’s impossible to swing a dead Kent without hitting a dozen Superman-related items online or in print. Although most of them are directly related to the Warner Bros. franchise reboot, there are plenty with clear comic-book ties. Here are just a handful of them:
• Superman gets the cover of this week’s Entertainment Weekly, on which Neal Adams and Murphy Anderson’s rendition of the Last Son of Krypton (from December 1972′s Action Comics #419) is given prominence over the movie and TV versions — possibly because Man of Steel star Henry Cavill was featured in April, but hey, we’ll take it. But poor, poor Brandon Routh …
• Mark Waid, whose 2003-2004 miniseries Superman: Birthright (with Leinil Francis Yu) influenced Man of Steel, saw the movie last night and tweeted, “That thunder you heard at around 9:15 EST was the sound of my heart breaking in two.” He followed that with a review on his Thrillbent website that he prefaced with, “It’s a good science-fiction movie, but it’s very cold. It’s not a very satisfying super-hero movie. That said, if your favorite part of SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE was Superman standing in the Fortress while Jor-El lectured him, you’re gonna love MAN OF STEEL.”
There are few webcomics as popular or influential as Hark! A Vagrant, but news of Kate Beaton’s latest project arrived from a fairly unexpected source, the science fiction blog io9. She’s illustrating a young-adult book, The Well’s End, by debut novelist Seth Fishman.
UPDATED (11:48 a.m.): Fishman has written to clarify that, unfortunately, Beaton isn’t illustrating the novel, but rather created some exclusive art for the unveiling of the cover.
The summary from publisher Putnam makes it sound like quite a cracking yarn, too — the kind of thing that gets optioned quickly by Hollywood:
A childhood accident, a bizarre outbreak, and an impossible discovery…
Mia Kish is afraid of the dark. And for good reason. When she was a toddler she fell deep into her backyard well only to be rescued to great fanfare and celebrity. In fact, she is small-town Fenton,Colorado’s walking claim to fame. Not like that helps her status at Westbrook Academy, the nearby uber-ritzy boarding school she attends. A townie is a townie. Being nationally ranked as a swimmer doesn’t matter a lick. But even the rarefied world of Westbrook is threated when emergency sirens start blaring and the school is put on lockdown, quarantined and surrounded by soldiers who seem to shoot first and ask questions later. Only when confronted by a frightening virus that ages its victims to death in a manner of hours does Mia realize she may only just be beginning to discover what makes Fenton special.
The answer is behind the walls of the Cave, aka Fenton Electronics. Mia’s dad, the director of Fenton Electronics, has always been secretive about his work. But unless Mia is willing to let her classmates succumb to the strange illness, she and her friends have got to break quarantine, escape the school grounds, and outsmart armed soldiers to uncover the truth about where the virus comes from and what happened down that well. The answers they find just might be more impossible than the virus they are fleeing.
Beaton has an amazing capacity for portraying subtle emotions and character with a few deft pen strokes. She’s an inspired choice for an assignment in this genre. The 352-page novel will be released Feb. 25, 2014. Continue Reading »
Creators | Stan Lee, characterized by CNN as “the Godfather of comic book heroes,” is modest about his own achievements in a new interview: “If my publisher hadn’t said ‘let’s do superhero stories’ I’d probably still be doing A Kid Called Outlaw, The Two Gun Kid or Millie the Model or whatever I was doing at the time.” He reflects on the increased female audience for comics and discusses some new projects, including a new superhero, The Annihilator, created specifically for a Chinese audience. [CNN]
Comics| Chris Huntington reflects on the importance of Miles Morales for children of color, like his son: “… To see Spider-Man pulling his mask over a tiny brown chin – to see a boy with short curly hair sticking to the ceiling of his bedroom— well, something happened. Dagim has been Spider-Man for two Halloweens in a row. He takes a bath with his Spider-Man and a toy killer whale. He has Spider-Man toothpaste and a Spider-Man toothbrush. If Spider-Man offered medical coverage, I think he would want that, too. My son somehow understands that there is a Peter Parker Spider-Man, who is vaguely grown-up and my age, and a younger Spider-Man, closer to his age. That’s just how Dagim likes it. He even understands that Peter Parker — like Superman, like Batman – wasn’t raised by his birth parents. The best superheroes were all adopted like him.” [The New York Times]
As part of the big push for the opening of Man of Steel, and the 75th anniversary of Superman, DC Comics Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee appeared this morning on Bloomberg Television to discuss the evolution of the character, the new series Superman Unchained, digital comics, and what trickle-down effect the film might have on the company’s comics.
Lee on Superman Unchained: ““I was working with Scott Snyder and we said if we could only tell one Superman story, this is what we would tell. If you only have one shot you want to do all the classic element of superman. We have lots in there. We have Lois. We have Lex Luther doing diabolical things. There is a new villain named Rathe. I think we can reveal that now. That is an exclusive. Scott will hate me for that [Laugher]. We are adding things to his mythology and that’s how you keep him fresh and relevant.”
DC Comics goes bad in September, turning all 52 slots of its superhero line over to its less-savory characters. That’s pretty much the story of the superhero solicitations, although there are some interesting collections coming this fall.
On its face, Forever Evil sounds like a pretty straightforward, traditional superhero story. I think the “heroes disappear, villains romp” plot was even an episode of Super Friends. Accordingly, all things being equal, I have no problems with using it for a line-wide crossover. No doubt the DC Comics of 2013-14 will season it with plenty of violence and depravity, sucking away my goodwill accordingly; but those details will have to wait until the comics themselves come out.
THE SHAPE OF EVIL
In fact, the part of “Villains Month” that interests me most is its structure. Yes, there are 52 single issues coming out of the superhero line in September, plus Forever Evil #1. However, those 52 issues ostensibly “represent” only 18 series: Action Comics, Aquaman, Batman, Batman and Robin, Batman/Superman, Batman: The Dark Knight, Detective Comics, Earth 2, The Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Justice League, JL Dark, JLA, Superman, Swamp Thing, Teen Titans and Wonder Woman. Furthermore, 16 of the 52 are Bat-books, more than the Justice League books’ 10 issues and twice as many as the Superman books’ eight issues. Add Batman/Superman #3.1, and 35 of the 52 will have “Batman,” “Superman” or “Justice League” on their covers. In fact, 16 of the 18 series are already on my pull list (sorry, Green Arrow and Teen Titans), so I’ll probably be putting back a fair amount of these, which won’t make my comic shop’s job any happier.
Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush is known for several things — some good, some … not so good — but recently, he’s established a reputation as sock aficionado. Not just any socks, though: The more colorful, and the mouth outlandish they are, the more Bush 41 seems to like them.
For the introduction of the Houston Texans’ cheerleading squad in April, he donned the stars and stripes, and for the dedication of his son President George W. Bush’s library in May, he broke out a pink pair (with polka dots). So what did he choose for his 89th birthday on Wednesday?
Superman socks, of course. If you can’t tell from the above photo, circulated by Bush’s spokesman, they’re these Superman Cape Crew Socks, complete with red trunks, yellow belt, S emblem and, yes, a cape.
If the former president is considering another comics theme for his 90th birthday,we’d like to cast an early vote for these novel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Masked Crew Socks:
I first came across Ming Doyle’s work when she illustrated a new Michael Moorcock Elric short story in Weird Tales #349, the series’ 85th birthday issue. I’m something of a Moorcock nut, and prone to strong opinions about his artistic collaborators, but Doyle’s work more than passed muster: Here was an artist whose progress I was going to have to keep a close eye on.
Since then, Doyle’s career trajectory has been consistently upward, from the Star Trek-loving webcomic Boldly Gone with Kevin Church, to her current work on the Image comic Mara with Brian Wood. Every time some editor at DC Comics or Marvel claims he isn’t employing female creators because there just aren’t any out there fit for purpose, she’s always one of the first names that pops into my head as I mentally compose a list as long as your arm of women one big gig away from comics super-stardom.
Anyway, it’s convention season, that happy time when my favorite artists post lots of lovely sketches on their blogs, Instagram timelines, Facebook and the like — y’know, that newfangled social media the kids are all talking about. The collective Doyle belongs to, Out of Step Arts, has posted several sketches done at last weeks HeroesCon, some of which can also be seen at her own site, along with more May’s Phoenix Comicon. There’s a selection of my favorites after the break, including probably the most smouldering-est rendering of Bones McCoy ever.
(Note: The headline has been changed to better reflect the intention of this post, which is to celebrate Ming Doyle’s artwork. We apologize if our meaning wasn’t clear.)
The Masters of the Universe first crossed over with the DC Universe — well, Superman, at least — in July 1982′s DC Comics Presents #47, which found the Man of Steel teleported to Eternia, where he teams with He-Man to battle Skeletor, and again that same year in a special preview story. Three decades later, it’s happening again with DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe, which kicks off in August.
However, one superhero appears to be getting a head start.
If you’ve been dying for a way to let cashiers know of your love for The Walking Dead even as the flesh-eating hordes storm the counter, Card.com and Robert Kirkman’s Skybound have the solution: Walking Dead Visa prepaid debit cards.
“Having The Walking Dead art on these credit cards will be an exciting way for fans to incorporate the series’ art into their daily lives,” Kirkman says in the press release.
Fans have their choice of seven designs, all featuring Charlie Adlard art, but none really saying, “Consumerism!” More like, “Holy shit, where are all those walkers coming from?” There’s Rick Grimes on horseback entering a devastated Atlanta, Michonne baring her katana, and, well, lots and lots of the undead (including an image of Rick, Michonne, Andrea, Abraham and Morgan as walkers). You can see all of the designs here.
Yesterday brought several first issues, new storylines and creative teams to the various comics that came out, so I figured instead of doing one Chain Reaction thsi week, I’d do several over the next few days. A chain of Chain Reactions, if you will. Or maybe more appropriately for this first post, Unchained Reactions. Because yes, we’re talking about Superman: Unchained #1.
Written by Scott Snyder (Batman, Swamp Thing) and drawn by co-publisher Jim Lee (heck, what hasn’t he drawn?), Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair and, in a back-up, Dustin Nguyen, this new comic arrives not coincidentally the same week that Man of Steel opens in theater and once again pivots into the minds of the mainstream.
So while Superman is popping up everywhere right now, how is the actual comic? Here are a few reactions from around the web:
Roger Langridge, whose done some stellar work over the last few years on titles like Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Popeye, Snarked and The Muppets, has a new comic available for purchase online. Originally created as a minicomic that he sold at the 2-D Festival in Ireland, Langridge is now selling The Fez online himself for one pound. It is also coming to comiXology in the near future.
“I love minicomics. To me, they are the most perfect form of comics – comics in their most refined state,” he said on his blog. “They are a formal embodiment of comics’ most attractive feature: comics, unlike film or theatre or even music, require no collaboration, no real financial resources to make happen. One person can do it all. With minicomics, that person is not only producing the work, but more often than not printing, assembling and stapling the things as well. If comics are the people’s artform, minicomics are its most accessible manifestation.”
He goes on to wonder if a “digital comic” qualifies as a “minicomic.”
Despite a series of seemingly definitive decisions in DC Comics’ favor, the nearly decade-long legal fight over the rights to Superman continues, with the estate of co-creator Joe Shuster asking an appeals court just three weeks ago to overturn a ruling barring the family from reclaiming the artist’s stake in the Man of Steel. At the center of the battle is tenacious and controversial attorney Marc Toberoff, the longtime nemesis of Warner Bros. who represents the heirs of Shuster and his collaborator Jerry Siegel.
He’s the subject of a lengthy feature in the latest issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, in which he pledges he’ll take the Superman dispute to the Supreme Court, if necessary. “This case is by no means over,” he tells the magazine. “My clients and I are prepared to go the distance.” It’s an interesting article that’s part history lesson and part personality profile, with several tidbits (of varying importance) that I can’t recall seeing previously:
Legal | The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar has appealed a court decision upholding his 2010 arrest and detention, claiming police acted in bad faith when they arrested him under the Sedition Act because of his book Cartoon-O-Phobia, which had not yet been released at the time of his arrest. No charges were ever filed, as the police could not identify any actual seditious content in the books. A court ruled in July 2012 that Zunar’s arrest was lawful but ordered the police to return the books they had confiscated and pay him damages. An appellate court will hear the case next week. [The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | Heidi MacDonald takes a look at Marvel’s new graphic novel line, which will launch in October with Warren Ellis and Mike McKone’s Avengers: Endless Wartime. [Publishers Weekly]
We’ve featured Brooklyn-based illustrator PJ McQuade before because of his frequently comics-friendly work. His latest piece, created for the MF Gallery’s 10th anniversary exhibition, is something of a show-stopper: a mash-up that seems to have struck McQuade purely because of the awesomeness of the sideburns on both Quint in Steven Spielberg’s Jaws and Wolverine. Thinking about it, it was inevitable, really. The original painting is already sold, but you can buy a print of this from McQuade’s Etsy storefront.
My favorite part of the design is the tribute to that much-missed (by some of us nostalgic old farts, anyway) feature of old Marvel comics, the corner box. This lovingly rendered image of the late great Robert Shaw is also available from McQuade’s Etsy shop, if you’d like the disembodied head of a salty old sea dog semi-permanently staring you out from the cover of your laptop/dash of your speedboat/whatever. I know I do. And now I’ve got a mysterious longing for sushi, too.
Late last month at the annual movie spectacle Festival de Cannes, Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn revealed in an interview with France Inter that he was beginning work on a big-screen adaptation of Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius’ epic graphic novel series The Incal.
Debuting in 1981, the comic follows a one-time bodyguard named John DiFool after he comes in possession of a powerful artifact — the Light Incal — which leads to various factions of a galactic empire coming to take it from him. Based in part on the Tarot, the series is space opera but in a way very much unlike Star Wars.
In late 2011 the U.S. arm of Humanoids released a deluxe edition of the first six issues of The Incal, featuring a foreword by Brian Michael Bendis, after a long and tenuous series of previous printings in America. First released here by Marvel’s Epic line, in the past 20 years it’s had printings at DC and the U.K. publishing house SelfMadeHero.