Current Transmissions

Loki will be bisexual, occasionally a woman in ‘Agent of Asgard’

loki-agent of asgard1Loki has undergone several changes over the past several years, returning in a female body after Ragnarok, reincarnating in the form of a boy (the fan-favorite “Kid Loki”) and then, in this week’s Young Avengers #11 — OK, we won’t spoil it for you, but Marvel’s recent announcement of Loki: Agent of Asgard tells you all you need to know.

Well, maybe not all you need to know.

Responding on his blog to a fan’s questions, writer Al Ewing reveals that in the new series the god of mischief’s gender and sexuality will be fluid. “Yes, Loki is bi and I’ll be touching on that,” he wrote last night. “He’ll shift between genders occasionally as well.”

Neither of those will be particularly surprising to anyone familiar with Norse mythology, where the shape-shifting Loki is frequently viewed, in modern terms, as transgender and bisexual.

Apparently peppered with even more Loki questions, Ewing followed up this morning with a moratorium titled “Enough Loki For Now”: “I’m not The Loki Guy until February, and right now I feel like I’m stepping on toes, so I’m going to stop talking about Loki outside of interviews until early January. After that, I’ll be as available as before. […] So, how about those Mighty Avengers, huh?”

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Pere Perez gears up for post-apocalyptic kung fu in ‘Shaolin Mutants’


Artist Pere Perez has worked on comics for the likes of Dark Horse DC, Marvel and Valiant, but now he’s poised to strike out on his own with his first creator-owned graphic novel Shaolin Mutants.

Described by Perez as an “epic kung-fu adventure,” Shaolin Mutants follows a kung fu-trained Shaolin monk named Leroy as he fights mutant armies in a near-future apocalyptic world. Kung fu is often used in comics, but Perez has a leg up on many of his colleagues: He’s a black-belt Wing Chun instructor who’s been practicing martial arts for nearly two decades.

“My love for martial arts has triggered the creation of this book, and my knowledge of them has helped me to create fighting choreographies and page layouts unlike anything you’ve ever seen on a comic book,” Perez writes on the Indiegogo page for Shaolin Mutants. “Also, I’ve tried to explain the philosophical and moral aspects of martial arts, so hopefully this book is not just an anthology of cool action scenes.”

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‘The Walking Dead’ is to blame for our problems, apparently

kirkman-walking dead

Despite what you may have heard, the real threat to America may not be illegal immigration, same-sex marriage or even Obamacare. No, it turns out that it’s Robert Kirkman & Co.

In an editorial on, Dr. Manny Alvarez asks, “Is watching The Walking Dead seriously hurting American society?” Before anyone has a chance to consider the question, Fox News Channel’s senior medical contributor answers with a confident “Yes.” And with that solved, Alvarez is free to focus on other pressing concerns, like the nature of Batman and Robin’s relationship, or, y’know, the dangers of socialized medicine or something. Then again, maybe not.

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Brian Stelfreeze redesigns DC’s Crime Syndicate for fun


Brian Stelfreeze is a well-known cover artist, with runs on DC Comics’ Batman, Birds of Prey, Firestorm, Shadow of the Bat and others, but that immense skill often overshadows another of his talents: superhero costume design. Very early in his career he created what has become the seminal Nightwing, and he recently did some more DC character redesigns — but this time for fun.

For the past few weeks, Stelfreeze has been drawing redesigns of DC’s Crime Syndicate of America and posting them on a Yahoo! Group devoted to his work. The idea came about when Stelfreeze was talking to his friend Robert Jewell about the comics they grew up with, and they pinpointed an issue of Justice League of America they read as kids that focused on the Crime Syndicate. With the Crime Syndicate getting new life in DC’s current Forever Evil, Jewell and Stelfreeze thought it’d be fun for the artist to redesign these classic characters. Using notes from Jewell and members of the Yahoo! Group, Stelfreeze took on these characters and developed his own takes on them — with amazing results.

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Rich and Kambadais delve into ‘Double Life of Miranda Turner’


Not all struggling actors are waiters — there’s one who’s a superhero.

Next week Monkeybrain Comics will launch a new series centering on out-of-work actress Miranda Turner and her double life as a superhero, fittingly titled The Double Life of Miranda Turner. Originally released as a webcomic by artist George Kambadais, he’s changing gears and enlisting It Girl & The Atomics writer Jamie S. Rich for this ongoing digital series coming out every six weeks.

“Jamie wrote a really fun introductory adventure for our debut issue,” Kambadais said in a statement. “It captured the irreverence and joy I think we both wanted and that is often lacking in the bigger superhero titles. There’s going to be room for plenty of emotion and character growth in The Double Life of Miranda Turner, but the first rule is to entertain. We want the exploits of Miranda and Lindy to be as much fun for you to read as they are for us to make.”

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‘Surely there should be more legs?': Mick McMahon’s Hellboy cover process


As dangerous as it’s proved in the past, I’m refining another theory. Comics fans are divided into two schools: those who like expressionist comic artists, and those who like realist art. Were your tastes decided by what comics you were exposed to first? Or did you start off liking one school, and develop into a love of the other?

I can see a pattern emerging through my comics-reading history where I start off as a kid loving the Kirby reprints I’m first exposed to, grew up loving Mick McMahon’s work in 2000AD and came back to comics as an adult under the spell of Mike Mignola. In my time, I’ve admired the work of realists like Neal Adams, Brian Bolland and Bryan Hitch, but it’s the work of those three expressionists that I always return to.

So imagine the pleasure I got seeing McMahon sharing his process for a cover for Dark Horse Presents #32. The January solicitations had passed me by, but that issue really is one for the old -chool 2000AD fans — the collaboration between Mignola and McMahon is joined by a new strip by Brendan McCarthy, “The Deleted.” Now that I think about it, a collaboration between McMahon and Mignola has a fairly inevitable feeling about it. No two comic artists have ever sought to refine their styles so much, constantly paring their work down in a pursuit of minimalism.

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Comics A.M. | New ‘Asterix’ lands in middle of political debate

Asterix and the Picts

Asterix and the Picts

Graphic novels | France 24 examines the Thursday release of Asterix and the Picts — the first album by new creative team Jean Yves-Ferri and Didier Conrad — from a political perspective, noting that the story, in which Asterix and Obelix journey from ancient Gaul to Iron Age Scotland, has already become part of the current debate about Scottish independence. [France 24]

Creators | Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, who spent a night in police custody last week on charges of “suspicion of causing a disturbance,” spoke to the press this week. Liming, who has more than 300,000 followers on his microblog account, first ran into trouble two years ago for one of his cartoons, but police told him that China has freedom of speech and he could continue drawing. Nonetheless, another of his cartoons, depicting Winnie the Pooh (a frequent cartoon stand-in for Chinese President Xi Jinping) kicking a football was deleted and suppressed by censors. “For them, drawing leaders in cartoon form is a big taboo,” the cartoonist said. “I think the controls on the Internet are too harsh. They have no sense of humor. They can’t accept any ridicule.” [Reuters]

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Kupperberg-era Doom Patrol joins the fight against Crime Syndicate


With a little more than two years under its belt, DC Comics’ New 52 still has plenty of corners left to explore and hundreds of characters of varying levels of popularity to re-introduce. (Where are you, Wally West?) So when I saw Celsius, Negative Woman and Tempest pop up in this week’s Justice League #24, I couldn’t help but smile a little.

Combined with the New 52 Robotman, who’s sporting a look very similar to the one Cliff Steele had when that version of the team debuted in 1977’s Showcase #94, we officially have Paul Kupperberg’s Doom Patrol joining the ever-growing ranks of “new” heroes opposing the seemingly all-powerful Crime Syndicate. But certainly more interesting than that, this panel, almost a throwaway, fills out the current DCU in a way we haven’t seen much since the early days of the relaunch.

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New Zealand library in catch-22 over ‘Lost Girls’

lost-girlsA New Zealand library’s refusal over the summer to carry Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie’s Lost Girls has received renewed attention, earning a signal boost from Neil Gaiman and a stern denial from the National Library of New Zealand that it had anything to do with the move.

The story illustrates the strange and unenviable predicament of libraries in countries with censorship laws: If they submit the material for government review in hopes it will be cleared, they risk triggering a ban; however, if they don’t submit a potentially objectionable book, they risk later being found in violation of the law.

Here’s what happened in New Zealand: Over the summer, cartoonist Dylan Horrocks reported he had asked his local library in Auckland to purchase a copy of Lost Girls. The library refused, and he posted its response on his Facebook page:

Thank you for your suggestion to purchase ‘Lost Girls’ by Alan Moore. Due to the depictions contained within this graphic novel we have been advised by the Office of Film and Literature Classification that we may be at risk of prosecution if we made the book available to customers. As a result Auckland Libraries will not be purchasing copies of this title.

As it turns out, reported this week, the library had purchased a copy in 2008, at a patron’s request, but removed it from shelves after concerns were raised about the content.

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Appeals court refuses rehearing in Jack Kirby copyright battle

Fantastic FourWith just nine words — “It is hereby ordered that the petition is denied” — the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday seemingly ended a four-year effort by the children of Jack Kirby to gain a copyright stake in many of the characters their father created or co-created for Marvel.

As Deadline reports, the Kirby heirs had petitioned for rehearing, either before a panel of the Second Circuit or the full bench of judges, of whether they had the right to file 45 copyright-termination notices in 2009 for some of Marvel’s best-known, and most lucrative, characters, including the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk.

Quickly responding to those notices, Marvel (later joined by then-new parent company Disney) sued to invalidate the heirs’ claims, arguing that Kirby’s creations for the publisher were work for hire, made at the company’s direction and expense, and therefore weren’t eligible for copyright termination. A federal judge agreed, ruling in July 2011 that, as works for hire, the copyrights to those characters belong to Marvel.

The Kirby family appealed, but in August 2013 a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit upheld the district court’s decision, reaffirming that the heirs had no termination rights. The judges also upheld the lower court’s exclusion of expert testimony offered by John Morrow and Mark Evanier on behalf of the Kirby heirs, agreeing that “their reports are by and large undergirded by hearsay statements, made by freelance artists in both formal and informal settings, concerning Marvel’s general practices towards its artists during the relevant time period.”

Matt Fraction’s full timeline breakdown of ‘Hawkeye’ #8-13


Reading Hawkeye month to month instead of in trade is an awesome experience, but it can sometimes be rather confusing for readers, especially in the most recent arc in which Matt Fraction played a bit with the timing of each issue. It was only during the recent Hawkeye #13 that the full timeline of events came to light, and now Fraction has posted his outline for the full arc on his blog.

Fraction’s photo shows 28 index cards with timestamps, issue numbers and brief description of events from Thursday at 8 p.m. to Wednesday evening in an almost-hourly breakdown of plot. The descriptions make perfect sense once you figure out Fraction’s code (“C” means Clint, “K” means Kate most of the time, “B” means Barney, “L” is Lucky the Pizza Dog.), and it’s certainly a cool insight into the most recent arc and Fraction’s process.

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Midtown Comics opens boutique in Toys”R”Us Times Square

midtown-toys r us

Manhattan retailer Midtown Comics. which last year opened a boutique inside the Fifth Avenue flagship location of FAO Schwarz, has now expanded into the Times Square Toys”R”Us. Located frighteningly close to the T-rex in the Jurassic Park display (above), the boutique sells graphic novels, hardcover books and apparel.

“We are thrilled to bring our brand to Toys“R”Us, and to share the excitement of comics, graphic novelsl, and related collectibles with the mainstream public,” Midtown co-owner Gerry Gladston said in a statement.

Midtown Comics opened its first store in 1997, and now boasts three locations in Manhattan (in addition to the two boutiques).

(Photo courtesy of the Midtown Comics Tumblr)

Skottie Young reaches the end of the yellow brick road

emerald city of oz5Skottie Young revealed over the weekend that, after nearly six years, he has finished work on Marvel’s Oz series, his Eisner Award-winning collaboration with writer Eric Shanower and colorist Jean-Francois Beaulieu. The final issue, The Emerald City of Oz #5, arrives Dec. 11.

“I’ve never been emotional about a book I’ve worked on,” Young wrote on his blog. “As an artist in today’s comic landscape, you get used to spending 6-8 months on one title and then moving onto another. The long run of characters being yours  and yours alone is very rare. To come to work every day for nearly 6 years and spend time with the same characters in the same world is something I grew to love and depend on. Leaving it behind is bitter sweet. I’m excited face new challenges but a bit sad to leave one of the most reliable things in my life.”

Marvel’s adaptations of L. Frank Baum’s novels launched in 2008 with the eight-issue Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and continued with The Marvelous Land of Oz, Osma of Oz, Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, The Road to Oz and, now, The Emerald City of Oz. Although Baum wrote eight more books in the Oz series, this is the end of the journey for Young.

Whether there will be more Oz adaptations from Marvel remains to be seen. It’s certainly worth noting the publisher is releasing a new hardcover collection of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, complete with a new cover by Young, in January.

“A giant thanks to Dan Buckley, Joe Quesada, CB Cebulski, David Bogart, Axel Alonso and David Gabriel for being my champions,” Young wrote. “The word ‘cartoony’ can be a four letter word in our world and these gentlemen carved out a little corner for me to throw that four letter word around as loud as I wanted.”

Ben Oliver’s Avengers: Earth’s Most Adorable Li’l Heroes


I’m a sucker for pint-sized versions of superheroes, ranging from Skottie Young’s “baby” Marvel variants  to Dustin Nguyen’s Li’l Gotham to Art Baltazar and Franco’s Tiny Titans, but my new favorite may be Ben Oliver‘s adorable “little” take on the big-screen Avengers.

When ROBOT 6 contributor Tim O’Shea spotted some of the illustrations on Cully Hamner’s Facebook page, he contacted Oliver, who was kind enough to send them our way. In his email, Oliver said this is the set “so far,” which I hope means we’ll be treated to child-sized renditions of Loki, Hawkeye and Agent Coulson.

The art is, of course, terrific (don’t dwell too long on the idea of kids with facial hair; that way lies madness), but it’s Oliver’s perfect and hilarious word balloons that will win over even the most stonehearted superhero fan.

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Quote of the Day | Paul Pope on the appeal of ‘kid superheroes’

battling boy

“I see a kid superhero like Battling Boy or Aurora West to be symbols of the potential of youth to do something new and different, to invent a new solution to old problems. […] Too often, I think the superheroes we see in films and comics are too perfect, too established, too impervious to real fault or challenge. I like the idea of writing a story focusing on kid superheroes who mess up and must learn from their mistakes.”

Paul Pope, discussing his well-reviewed new graphic novel Battling Boy

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