Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Last week saw the return of Sensation Comics to store racks, as DC Comics repurposed the long-defunct title for a new Wonder Woman anthology series, featuring stories by rotating creative teams that debut online as part of the publisher’s digital-first initiative. It’s a strategy the company previously used for similar anthologies Legends of the Dark Knight and the soon-ending Adventures of Superman.
It’s a great idea, and one well past due. Unlike Batman and the Man of Steel, Wonder Woman has long been confined to a single solo title, with fewer miniseries, specials and one-shots, and is more often subject to drastic new directions, due to a perceived notion the character needs to be “fixed.”
The current Wonder Woman series is a good example of this, with Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang and company reintroducing the character with an “Everything you thought you knew was wrong!” origin, accompanied by a weird and dark backstory for the Amazons, and a London setting for the heroine.
Last time I checked in with Wonder Woman, the title character was the demigod daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta and had become the goddess of war, dispatching her foes with magic swords — and when she’s really in a pinch, she takes off her power-dampening Amazon bracelets, which allows her to “power-up” into a sort of glowing Super-Wonder Woman.
What’s more, “all the same” isn’t much of an exaggeration. The 41 New 52 titles that are getting Futures End one-off tie-ins bear the same prices, release dates and copy as they did in the July solicits. The September listings do add cover art and credits, which are important details; but they don’t change the gist or tone of the previewed plots. More on this later.
Otherwise, these solicits contain only a handful of additional main-line superhero titles. These include the second Multiversity issue (with the awesomely alliterative subtitle Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World), the final issue of Superman Unchained, four issues each of Futures End and Batman Eternal, and the first Teen Titans: Earth One hardcover.
Therefore, this month’s solicitation roundup might get a little weird.
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Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out. So get ready to fly really, really fast as we reverse the Earth’s orbit and head back for a look at the last seven days in comics …
New comics come out every week, by the dozens. Add that up by the month or the year, and it’s virtually impossible to keep track. Certain runs on some titles rise to the top by a mixture of critical acclaim, proper marketing and the right timing, but if all of those factors aren’t perfectly aligned, good comics fall by the wayside.
In this edition of ROBOT 6’s “Six by 6,” we look at six noteworthy creative runs on superhero comics worth a second look, even if that means a trip to the back-issue bin.
Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out.
This week is all about the new releases, including Batman, Hawkeye, Beasts of Burden and more. So let’s get to it …
Steve Rude has debuted the painted cover for his upcoming collaboration with Jerry Ordway on DC Comics’ digital-first Adventures of Superman — a 10-page story featuring none other than OMAC.
In his fan newsletter, the veteran article explained that his editor offered him several scripts, “but it wasn’t until we settled on something specifically catered to ‘The Dude Mentality’ — with characters most memorable to the 60’s and 70’s — that things finally clicked. And what would fit the Dude mentality? How ’bout OMAC? Of the One Man Army Corps? As created by the great Jack Kirby back in ’75?”
But how did Rude connect with Ordway, well known for his runs as both an artist and a writer on DC’s The Adventures of Superman print series?
“Jerry submitted his script and we all loved it,” Rude said of his DC Digital First debut. “And after a hour or two of of finely tuned script discussion over the phone one afternoon, he and I were able to up the dramatics even further on the cool-meter.”
As for that cover: “Finally, I should mention that though DC’s budget didn’t permit the rates normally required by the Dude to paint this issues cover – I painted it anyway. Such sacrifices does one make in the name of proper presentation.”
Ordway and Rude’s Adventures of Superman story, “Seeds of Destruction,” is scheduled to premiere April 14 at DC Digital First.
DC Comics has announced a new lineup for its digital-first series Adventures of Superman that includes a collaboration between veterans Jerry Ordway and Steve Rude.
No stranger to the Man of Steel, Ordway was a staple of DC in the 1980s and ’90s known for his runs as artist, writer-artist and then writer of The Adventures of Superman and writer-artist of Superman. And while mostly closely associated with his own Nexus, Rude also has a past with the Last Son of Krypton: He illustrated the 1990 miniseries World’s Finest and the 1999 crossover The Incredible Hulk vs. Superman.
Ordway and Rude’s story, “Seed of Destruction,” appears April 14.
The other creators in the March and April lineup are: Joe Keatinge, Ming Doyle and Brent Schoonover with “Strange Visitor,” Part 1; Keatinge, Doyle, David Williams and Al Gordon with “Strange Visitor,” Part 2; Keatinge, Tula Lotay and Jason Shawn Alexander with “Strange Visitor,” Part 3; Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro with the one-part “Mystery Box”; and Steve Niles and Matthew Dow Smith with the one-part “Ghosts of Krypton.”
New chapters of Adventures of Superman are available each Monday at DC Digital First.
Jock has debuted what I believe is the first look at color art from his upcoming Adventures of Superman collaboration with Chronicle screenwriter Max Landis. The Eisner Award-winning artist released an inked page from the two-part story, titled “The Sound of One Hand Clapping,” last month.
As the two pages indicate, it’s poised to be a rather nontraditional Superman tale, as it pits the Man of Steel against the Clown Prince of Crime, who usually busies himself with a more grounded nemesis.
DC Comics has revealed the new lineup for its digital-first series Adventures of Superman that includes a two-part story by Chronicle screenwriter Max Landis and Eisner-winning artist Jock. The announcement of their collaboration, titled “The Sound of One Hand Clapping,” provides context for the page Jock tweeted last week (at right), featuring the Man of Steel and the Joker, the latter depicted in styles from different eras, artists and media.
Other creators in the January lineup are B. Clay Moore and Gabriel Rodriguez with the three-part “Exposed,” Fabian Nicieza and Phil Hester with “The Coming of … Sugar & Spike,” and Ron Marz and Evan “Doc” Shaner with the three-part “Only Child.”
The son of filmmaker John Landis, Max Landis made a splash last year with Chronicle, the found-footage sci-fi movie directed by Josh Trank (and based on a story by both of them). Since then, he’s become widely known for his 17-minute rant about, and recreation of, the death and return of Superman, and a much longer video in which he explains his elaborate idea for a reboot of the storyline that DC had reportedly considered for a weekly series he’d have co-written by Greg Pak. (Landis says because of his schedule and changes at DC regarding a weekly title, the project never went anywhere.)
The new Adventures of Superman lineup debuts Jan. 6 with Moore and Rodriguez’s “Exposed”; Landis and Jock’s “The Sound of One Hand Clapping” follows that storyline on Jan. 27.
Orson Scott Card wrote the Hugo Award-winning novel Ender’s Game and its sequels, short stories and related material. He also wrote a number of other novels, essays and comic books that have earned him significant praise and success. And … he has an uncomfortable track record with his position on same-sex marriage.
Despite somewhat backpedaling by calling the issue “moot” and resigning his position on the board of the National Organization for Marriage, Card’s history was not so easily forgotten by Geeks Out and the 11,800 people who signed the organization’s petition pledging to skip the feature film adaptation of Ender’s Game. After all of the uproar and protesting, Ender’s Game had a strong opening last weekend and has been garnering reasonably positive reviews. While a sequel is being debated, Card announced Friday he will be writing and releasing more books in the Ender’s Game series.
At least on the surface, it doesn’t look like the boycott did much, if any, damage, despite some PR scrambling ahead of the film’s release.
All of that got me to thinking about boycotts, petitions, and fans’ reactions in general when we’re faced with distasteful information about a creator whose work we enjoy.
DC Comics hasn’t had a particularly good run of things lately. To be frank, the publisher has done blown it a number of times over the past few years. But don’t worry, DC fans — I’m sure it’ll soon be Marvel’s turn, as the two rivals seem to trade off every five years or so.
I’ve been calling out DC for the past couple of weeks, but that doesn’t mean everything it does strikes me as wrong. It’s important to declare shenanigans, but it’s also important to recognize when a publisher does something that’s good for comics.
So here are six things DC is doing right:
1. Digital comics: Legends of the Dark Knight and Adventures of Superman are digital-first anthology series that feature some excellent creators (from Jeff Parker and Chris Samnee to J.M. DeMatteis and Jeff Lemire) producing completely accessible and entertaining stories that stand on their own; no college course on the New 52 or Crisis on Infinite Earths required. Yes, these stories are out of continuity — so for a percentage of readers, they don’t count. That’s a mistake, because there’s nothing wrong with a straight-up superhero tale that exists on its own terms. These two anthologies are the gems of DC’s digital-first line-up, but Batman ’66 and Batman: Li’l Gotham also offer fantastical takes on the iconic Caped Crusader that are bright and fun. For those exhausted by the angsty versions of serious stories, you owe it to yourself to check these out.
Although Orson Scott Card was silent amid the backlash that followed the announcement he would write a Superman story for DC Comics, the celebrated author has responded to a planned boycott of the film adaptation of Ender’s Game over his statements about homosexuality and his opposition to same-sex marriage.
“Ender’s Game is set more than a century in the future and has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984,” Card wrote in a statement to EW.com. “With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state. Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.”
A board member of the National Organization for Marriage, a group dedicated to the opposition of same-sex marriage, the author has tried to link homosexuality to childhood molestation, and advocated home-schooling to ensure children “are not propagandized with the ‘normality’ of ‘gay marriage.’” Following rulings by “dictator-judges” in 2008 that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, Card infamously endorsed a government overthrow.
Manga | The mega-popular series One Piece resumed publication in this week’s issue of Shonen Jump, after a two-week hiatus due to manga-ka Eiichiro Oda’s health problems following a tonsil infection. [Cruchyroll]
Comics | It seems like we are reading a lot about comics in the Arab world lately, and Egyptian graphic novelist Achraf Abd Elazim argues that the fourth major comics center (after New York, France and Belgium, and Japan) will be Dubai. [Your Middle East]
Comics | Michael Cavna kics off Comic Riffs’ celebration of Superman’s 75th birthday with a roundup of writers’ opinions on why the character has stood the test of time. [Comic Riffs]
With the end of Geoff Johns’ tenure on Green Lantern and Grant Morrison’s upcoming farewell to Batman, a fan’s thoughts turn naturally to other extended runs. Marv Wolfman wrote almost every issue of New (Teen) Titans from the title’s 1980 preview through its final issue in 1995. Cary Bates wrote The Flash fairly steadily from May 1971’s Issue 206 through October 1985’s first farewell to Barry Allen (Issue 350). Gerry Conway was Justice League of America’s regular writer for over seven years, taking only a few breaks from February 1978’s Issue 151 through October 1986’s Issue 255.
However, in these days of shorter stays, I wanted to examine some of the runs that, despite their abbreviated nature, left lasting impressions. At first this might sound rather simple. After all, there are plenty of influential miniseries-within-series, like “Batman: Year One” or “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?,” where a special creative team comes in to tell a particular story. Instead, sometimes a series’ regular creative team will burn brightly, but just too quickly, leaving behind a longing for what might have been.
A good example of this is found in Detective Comics #469-76, written by Steve Englehart, penciled by Marshall Rogers and inked by Terry Austin (after Walt Simonson penciled and Al Milgrom inked issues 469-70). Reprinted in the out-of-print Batman: Strange Apparitions paperback, and more recently (sans Simonson/Milgrom) in the hardcover Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers, these issues introduced Silver St. Cloud, Rupert Thorne, Dr. Phosphorus and the “Laughing Fish,” featured classic interpretations of Hugo Strange, the Penguin and the Joker, and revamped Deadshot into the high-tech assassin he remains today. Tying all these threads together is Bruce Wayne’s romance with Silver, which for my money is the Bat-books’ version of Casablanca. It’s the kind of much-discussed run that seems like it should have been longer. Indeed, I suspect it’s one of the shorter runs in CSBG’s Top 100 list.
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The February announcement that Orson Scott Card would write a chapter of DC Comics’ new digital-first Adventures of Superman anthology sparked controversy in some circles, as readers and retailers objected to the sci-fi author’s anti-gay activism. Card isn’t just an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage, he is a board member of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that lobbies against marriage equality.
At the time, several retailers announced they would not carry the comic, while others felt that refusing to carry the title would be tantamount to censorship.
The Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach, California, figured out a graceful way around the controversy: It would sell Card’s comic and donate 100 percent of the proceeds to the group Freedom to Marry, which supports legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide. The owners of Illusive Comics and Games, in Santa Clara, decided to do the same. And then DC got a reprieve of sorts, when artist Chris Sprouse dropped out of the project and Card’s story was postponed indefinitely.
The first issue of Adventures of Superman was released this week with some fanfare but no controversy. Nonetheless, the co-owners of The Comic Bug, Jun Goeku and Mike Wellman, will donate 20 percent of this week’s profits to Freedom to Marry, and Illusive will do the same.
“The customers who shop at The Comic Bug are from all walks of life and with this week’s fundraiser, we want to let them know that we embrace them all,” Goeku told The Beach Reporter. Both shops will also have a jar for customers who want to make a further donation to the cause.