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Six free comics we can’t wait to get our hands on today

fcbd 2013Free Comic Book Day is once again upon us, the day that current and hopefully potential comic fans flock to their local comic shop to sample a buffet of comic choices from publishers large and small. There’s a lot to sink your teeth into this time around, from previews of new or upcoming stuff — like Marble Season and Superman: The Last Son of Krypton #1 to first issues of brand new comics — like The Strangers #1 and Aphrodite IX #1. There are original comics, licensed comics, kids comics, anthologies … basically something for everyone.

Some retailers will offer all-you-can-eat options, while others might have limits on what you can get … so if you have to make a choice, here are six comics we’re particularly looking to sink our teeth into.

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Comics A.M. | Special Free Comic Book Day extra

Free Comic Book Day

Free Comic Book Day

If the purpose of Free Comic Book Day is to raise awareness of comics, well, mission accomplished! The mass media has taken note, and newspapers large and small have been running articles about comics in general and what is going on in their communities in particular. Here’s a selection of the meatier articles; you can find out what’s going on near you at the FCBD website, and Steve Morris has compiled a list of additional lists at The Beat.

Comics | Matt Moore takes the wide view, talking to Joe Field, organizer of the first FCBD, and looking at the increase in comics sales in the past year as well as the print-digital divide. Moore talks to DC’s Dan DiDio, Marvel’s Dan Buckley, and an assortment of retailers and customers about the convenience of digital and the pleasures of brick-and-mortar comics shops. [Associated Press]

Advice | Allison Babka offers a “virgin’s guide” to making the most of FCBD. [The Riverfront Times]

Comics | Whitney Matheson lists the ten FCBD comics you won’t want to miss, as well as some tips for first-timers. [USA Today]

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The Fifth Color | The inner demons of ‘Iron Man 3′

my momma told me there'd be days like this...

my momma told me there’d be days like this…

Not too long ago, Comic Book Resources talked to director Shane Black about Marvel’s Iron Man 3, which arrives in theaters today. When asked about David Michelinie and Bob Layton’s infamous “Demon in a Bottle” storyline, considered the darkest and deepest Tony Stark of them all, and its potential adaptation to the big screen, Black said, “No, because if we go there — it’s part of Tony’s character, but I think the ‘Demon in a Bottle; aspect, if you go there, you really have to go there. The film then becomes about that, because the journey that involves recovering from alcoholism is an entire movie. I mean, I want to keep it dark and interesting and edgy and spicy and all those things, but I don’t think we want to go as far as to deal with Tony’s descent into alcoholic madness. That’s maybe not where we want to be.”

This turned some heads, triggering accusations that Disney demanded sobriety, that Black forswore any alcohol in Iron Man 3 and insistence that it was a big deal that this issue wasn’t going to be addressed at all. I can see where the director is coming from on this: Iron Man has a lot on his plate already with four films’ worth of continuity and troubles following him, and to stop in the middle of all of that to take that turn down a dark and lonely path isn’t where we want to be in our Marvel movie medley.

Believe it or not, Iron Man 3 deals with a lot with demons, just not the particular demon of alcoholism. There are demons that are spawned from poor decision-making and from being a bit of a bastard in one’s younger years. There are demons that terrify us but, at heart, are completely manufactured from insecurity and doubt. And there are even more personal demons than that, ones that drive us into the night and can slowly crush you from the inside.

Seeing Iron Man 3 last night taught me something very important about myself and heroism, and those great, grand concepts I love to take from comics about dudes punching each other. Because, while the spectacle is fantastic, the effects and details are dead on, the acting is challenging and sly, it’s those message moments done just right that make viewers realize they just might have seen a different movie than everyone else.

WARNING: Iron Man 3 will be discussed below! I’m keeping out as many details as possible, but if you’re remaining spoiler-free, you might want to bookmark this one for later. To the brave, read on!

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Should ‘The Movement’ #1 occupy a space on your ‘to buy’ list?

movement1

Comics have a long history of reflecting the political and social issues of the times, whether that’s Green Arrow and Green Lantern dealing with teen drug abuse or Superman fighting slumlords. So it’s no surprise DC has two comics this month that draw influence from the Occupy movement that was all over the news media in 2011 and 2012. The first, titled The Movement, is by Gail Simone and Freddie Williams II, and came out on Wednesday. Later this month will bring us the Green Team, the 1 percent to The Movement‘s 99 percent, even if they aren’t directly linked in terms of story.

“I have this feeling that a lot of the best adventure fiction is based on the idea of standing up for the little guy against oppressive forces. If you go back and look at Zorro, or the Shadow, or the Lone Ranger, you can pretty quickly see that that idea of a masked protector pre-dates comics entirely,” Simone told Comic Book Resources. “There’s something very powerful about that, and it’s completely non-partisan. The idea of someone laying their life on the line for others is a big part of why I read superhero comics, and yet, even in some really popular books, I feel like that theme has been lost a little — there’s a bloodthirstiness to a lot of books and you can’t always see why these characters are heroes, or even admirable anymore.”

ROBOT 6’s Tom Bondurant shared his thoughts on the first issue Thursday, and here are a few more thoughts from around the web:

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DC reveals ‘dramatic new look’ for He-Man

he-man-redesign-cropped

DC Comics has debuted Ed Benes’ cover for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #4, which reveals a radically new look for the hero of television, film and toyboxes.

Gone are the trademark furry shorts and metal harness the character has worn since toymaker Mattel launched the line of action figures in 1981, replaced by what appears to be Eternia’s version of football gear, complete with honest-to-goodness pants.

“In the epic war against the forces of Hordak ripping through the pages of the current series, He-Man must don the sacred armor of his ancestors,” DC states on its blog. “While fans may be surprised by this turn of events, this dynamic direction for one of the world’s best-known heroes is firmly rooted in the classic legacy of MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. After all, so long as you stay true to the core concepts, it’s always exciting to explore new possibilities, right?”

Masters of the Universe #4 goes on sale in July.

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‘Man of Steel,’ ‘Iron Man 3′ are destroying America, Colbert says

colbert-man-of-steel

Ever the guardian of American values, Stephen Colbert has cast his scornful gaze on the latest threats to everything wholesome: Man of Steel and Iron Man 3.

On last night’s episode of The Colbert Report, the talk-show host took on the Warner Bros. franchise reboot first for casting English actor Henry Cavill as the embodiment of truth, justice and the American way, and then for its liberal agenda. Showing a clip in which Superman explains to Lois (Amy Adams) that on his world, his “S” symbol means “hope,” Colbert rages, “They’re saying Superman is Obama! Think about it: They both rise from Midwestern obscurity, become the most powerful man in the world, and, if I’m not mistaken, Krypton is the capital of Kenya!”

His “big problem” with Iron Man 3 is that Marvel turned to China for financing, resulting in a special cut of the film, featuring scenes with Chinese actors, product placement and an alteration of the villain’s name from the Mandarin to “Man Daren.”

“Why is Iron Man fighting the husband from Bewitched?” Colbert asks.

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Conversing on Comics with Chris Roberson

HEADER Chris Roberson

Chris Roberson has been thinking what comic writers are supposed to do in comics. While many creators follow the usual trajectory of creator-owned projects to Marvel or DC, the Portland, Oregon-based writer went from the Big Two and found his true calling, making his own comics and helping others to do the same.

A science fiction author, Roberson was ushered into comics as a colleague and co-writer of Fables creator Bill Willingham. However, Roberson quickly branched out, first with the Vertigo series iZombie, and then as the writer of Superman, putting him in the unenviable position of picking up the pieces after J. Michael Straczynski left midway through his much-heralded run. Although he turned in some great work in his short run on Superman/Batman, Roberson ultimately found DC not the kind of place he wanted to continue working.

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Comics A.M. | Inaugural 9th Art Award accepting entries

9th Art Award

9th Art Award

Awards | Graphic Scotland and the Edinburgh International Book Festival has established the 9th Art Award for graphic fiction, which will be presented in August during the festival. Submissions are being accepted through July 31. [9th Art Award, via The Beat]

Creators | Howard Chaykin remembers Carmine Infantino. [The Los Angeles Review of Books]

Creators | Art Spiegelman talks about his long-lived classic Maus, his thoughts on Israel, and being a New Yorker. [Haaretz]

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Hugh Jackman sinks his claws into Free Comic Book Day

jackman-free-comic-book-day

Following in the footsteps of Punisher star Thomas Jane, The Wolverine‘s Hugh Jackman has released a video in support of Free Comic Book Day, which will be held Saturday at comic stores across North America and around the globe.

“Let’s face it, as we all know, all the best movies end up being made from comic books, like The Wolverine,” the actor says.

More than 4.6 million comic books are expected to be given away Saturday. Find a participating store near you with FindAComicShop.com.

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Say yes to the Empire, say no to May the 4th!

star-wars-may-the-4th

Although it might have seemed we were safe from another onslaught of political commercials until at least next spring, the Emperor’s Committee to Destroy May the 4th has released an attack ad that would make Karl Rove proud.

“Every year on May the 4th, citizens gather in celebration of Jedi, rebels and the power of the Force,” the narrator says solemnly. “The wear costumes, have parties and share pictures and greetings on their social networks. They say it’s fun, but what aren’t they telling you about May the 4th?”

A lot, it turns out. For starters, the rebels and Jedi are traitors, along with everyone who celebrates May the 4th. Oh, and wearing Jedi outfits is a crime under the Emperor’s Subversive Apparel Act, so cut that out (especially those embarrassing rat tails).

In case you’re foolish enough to disregard the warnings of the ad, StarWars.com has a guide to “How to Party Like an Ewok For May the 4th.”

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Grumpy Old Fan | The Movement is subversive all over

I thought the movement you needed was on your shoulder...?

I thought the movement you needed was on your shoulder…?

In the very first panel of The Movement #1 there’s a blonde in black leather and fishnets. Her strong resemblance to old-school Black Canary seems designed deliberately to remind readers of writer Gail Simone’s previous DC Comics work. However, there’s nothing straightforward — at least not yet — about this new series. Simone’s script is a maze of upended expectations, and Freddie Williams’ art likewise seems made up of unsettled lines. The overall effect is disorienting, which might not be the best way to begin a from-scratch series like this one. But The Movement #1 works well as the first chapter of what will hopefully be a long run.

SPOILERS FOLLOW

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Mondo’s ‘Iron Man 3′ posters roll out Friday

mondo-im3a-cropped

To mark the U.S. premiere of Iron Man 3 on Friday, Mondo will offers three limited-edition posters created by Phantom City Creative and Martin Ansin. As usual, they’ll go on sale at random times, so you’ll have to follow the boutique on Twitter.

The Toronto-based Phantom City Creative previously produced a Captain America poster for Marvel’s The Avengers. Their Iron Man 3 print, which appears to feature all of Tony Stark’s armors, can be purchased for $45.

A veteran of Mondo’s film-poster offerings, Martin Ansin last year created a Thor print for The Avengers. His Iron Man 3 poster comes in two flavors: a 450-copy gold version ($50), and a 200-copy silver version ($75).

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Library hopes to raise $30K for life-size Hulk statue, comics

hulk statueA suburban Chicago library hopes to raise $30,000 through an Indiegogo campaign to purchase a 9-feet-tall statue of the Incredible Hulk, graphic novels and a comics-creation station.

Just as Dr. Bruce Banner transforms into the Hulk, we want our library community members to make their own personal transformations through books, programs, and awesome new equipment,” Tom Mukite, a trustee of the Northlake Public Library, writes on the project’s Indiegogo page. “This larger-than-life literary character will become a giant green beacon of light to highlight our graphic novel collection, our creation station … not to mention the library’s sense of humor and whimsy. The project will show off the fun side of the library and get the community talking. The HULK will force patrons to look at the library in a whole new way.”

According to the Franklin Park Herald-Journal, Mukite became a library trustee in October specifically so he could spearhead the campaign. “We’ve been working on The Hulk statue since August when we first got the idea for it,” he tells the newspaper. “It was running a bit slow. We have to get everything approved by the trustees. I figured if I was on the board, everything would be easier.”

The library has about 2,300 graphic novels and manga, but hopes to greatly expand the collection. In addition to the books and the statue, made by licensed sculptor Studio Oxmox, the goal is to purchase an iMac with a drawing pad, editing software, a 3D printer and more.

So far, the Northlake Public Library has raised $775. The campaign ends June 9.

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Quote of the Day | Marvel Studios in the age of the Internet

A photo leaked this week of Anthony Mackie as the Falcon on the set of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier"

A photo leaked this week of Anthony Mackie as the Falcon on the set of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

“… Since X-Men 1, frankly, where a photo was stolen off a wardrobe thing and it was the very first look of Hugh Jackman in costume as him under fluorescents … it looked awful. It was just like, ‘Oh, this is the world we are living in. This is the reality.’ So we’ve always just accepted it. Spy pictures will leak and we used to try to run ahead and put out a cool picture first and now if we have a cool picture we will put it out, but if we don’t, that’s OK. Misinformation … You know, it gets a little annoying when somebody is like, ‘This is what’s happening! This is what Kevin Feige is doing!’ It’s annoying when they are right and it’s equally annoying when they are wrong, because everybody passes it. ‘Planet Hulk is the next thing’ and everybody talks about it and you’re just like “OK, but you’ll be disappointed if you’re expecting it.’”

– Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, discussing how the company deals with leaks and rumors

A Month of Wednesdays | ‘Unico,’ ‘Marble Season’ and more

letting it goLetting It Go (Drawn and Quarterly): When we last saw Miriam Katin, it was in the pages of her We Are On Our Own, her 2006 graphic memoir about how she and her mother survived the Holocaust, hiding out from the Nazis in the Hungarian countryside. Her new memoir continues that story, by skipping ahead to her current life as a middle-aged artist living in New York City and harboring the deep and bitter prejudices against a city, a country and a people that her childhood understandable instilled in her.

The subject matter is awfully heavy, but it’s presented quite lightly — this is a fun, funny comic about a grown woman coming to terms with the irrational prejudices and bias born of the irrational prejudice and biases of others.

When we meet the Miriam of Letting It Go, she and her husband are seemingly living an idyllic artistic life, he in a room playing his clarinet, she procrastinating starting to draw something. When her grown son says he wants to move to Berlin, she reacts negatively instinctively, and gradually comes to terms with it, visiting him in Berlin, and then returning a second time almost immediately in order to see some of her art hanging at a show there, learning the word vergangenheitsbewältigung (coming to terms with the past) and how to start doing it … if not how to pronounce it.

Katin’s graphic novel is border-less, the “panels” implied ones formed by the consecutive, often overlapping images, giving the artwork a winding, rhythmic flow that moves over the pages like water. That and the somewhat-sketchy nature of the art, in which you can see each and every line that goes into the drawings, gives the book an incredibly intimate feel, as if a reader has simply discovered Katin’s sketchbook, rather than something mass-produced.

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