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SDCC ’13 | DC’s Diane Nelson on movies, Vertigo & Harry Potter

Diane Nelson

Diane Nelson

As the finishing touches are put on Comic-Con International ahead of Preview Night, The Hollywood Reporter releases an interview with DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson that’s a blend of polite sidestepping of delicate or unannounced subjects — the departure from Warner Bros. of her boss Jeff Robinov, Man of Steel 2, the long-developing Justice League movie — and insight into how the media giant views the DC properties.

Naturally, given the outlet, much of the discussion involves film and television, with Nelson addressing why she thinks Man of Steel succeeded while Green Lantern didn’t, and why DC’s movie plans have been developing so slowly, the conversation veers a little closer to comic books when she’s asked what five characters she’d like to seen on the screen.

Sandman is right on top,” Nelson responds. “I think it could be as rich as the Harry Potter universe. Fables. Metal Men. Justice League. And yes, I’m going to say it: Aquaman.”

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Aquaman crowned king of ‘toxic’ superheroes

aquaman

It’s been a rough 40 years for Aquaman, whose public image has never recovered from Super Friends. Sure, the long-running animated series raised the Atlantean’s profile, but it did so while depicting him as a pretty ineffective hero who had to hope for an aquatic threat and then hitch a ride with Wonder Woman to the nearest body of water. So he could summon a pod of narwhals. Only Zan of the Wonder Twins — “Form of water!” “Form of giant ice handcuffs!” — was lower in the Hall of Justice hierarchy.

And, as if that Entourage story thread and failed 2006 television pilot didn’t add enough insult to injury, now Aquaman has been declared the “most toxic superhero” by McAfee.

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Andry Rajoelina illustrates power of connection in Super Families

Superdad

Animation designer Andry Rajoelina has created an uplifting, and occasionally funny, series of prints featuring the families of superheroes. That’s “family” as in Superman Family, not as in Jonathan, Martha and Clark Kent. The first set was focused on DC, but he’s now done a second group with Marvel characters.

Some of the characters, but not all, are biologically related, and that’s part of what makes the series so heart-warming. One of the nicest, most reassuring messages of the X-Men was always that people without families could form their own. (I’ve always loved the idea of the X-Men as a family much more than the idea of them as a school.) Rajoelina’s two series highlight that. They focus on adult/child relationships (the Fantastic Four leaves out Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm, for example), but Rajoelina is able to figure out a workaround for Green Lantern, even if it’s a little sad in a humorous way.

Prints of the Justice Families series can be purchased at the Geek Art Store.

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Comics A.M. | Direct market sales up 29% in first quarter

The Walking Dead, Vol. 17

The Walking Dead, Vol. 17

Retailing | The direct market is looking good, with first-quarter sales up 29 percent over last year, according to figures released at the Diamond Retailer Summit. Heidi MacDonald reports, “There was no single element which seemed to be behind to surge, although sales of The Walking Dead comics and graphic novels were frequently mentioned. The general interest in “nerd culture” seems to be driving much of the merchandise and publishing growth, with more offerings in the housewares category a standout: Diamond is now offering their own line of such things as bottle openers and ice cube trays, such as a Walking Dead themed ice cube tray in the shape of body parts.” [Publishers Weekly]

Conventions | CBR and Robot 6 are covering C2E2 in depth, but for a quick overview, check out Christopher Borrelli’s recap and photo gallery. [Chicago Tribune]

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John Ostrander to write ‘Aquaman’ #20

aquaman20-cropped

Veteran writer John Ostrander, best known for his work on DC Comics’ Suicide Squad, will step in for Geoff Johns on May’s Aquaman #20, bringing with him artists Manuel Garcia and Sandra Hope, IGN.com reports. Johns and regular artists Paul Pelletier and Sean Parson will return with Issue 21.

“Those not familiar with John, he’s one of the comic greats — from Suicide Squad to The Spectre. Exciting to see him take on The Others,” Johns wrote on Twitter. “John has an excellent take on The Others, particularly The Operative, and he’ll be introducing a new member to the team.”

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The New 52 creative management review

Justice League #1 (2011)Apparently we misunderstood: The New 52 doesn’t refer to the number of titles DC Comics publishes each month but rather the number of times each title changes creative hands. That’s what it seems like sometimes, what with firings by email, quitting on Twitter, rehirings and more. The general impression from behind-the-scenes tales is that the New 52 is in chaos. However, the end product might suggest DC is actually somewhat holding it together.

Creative changes are nothing new; turnover is inevitable. The key is how that turnover is managed. The ideal is to have a long and satisfying run by a cohesive team smoothly transitioning to a new team. Lord knows that doesn’t always happen, and we’ve certainly been hearing about it not happening recently.

With all of the news of creators coming and going, or going before they even get there, it’s easy to get distracted from the results of the finished product. So, I decided to take a look at a sampling of DC’s New 52, from its launch in late summer 2011 to today, and see how the stability of various titles was affected by creative changes. For my survey, I looked at the Justice League family of books, which includes the flagship Justice League, as well as Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Arrow and others generally associated with the JLA that haven’t had a big Hollywood movie.

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What Are You Reading? with Ben Towle

X-Men_30-tease

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew talks about the death of … oh, wait, we already did that. In fact, nobody brought up [REDACTED] in their write-up this week. But they did talk about a bunch of other comics.

Our guest this week is cartoonist and teacher Ben Towle, creator of Oyster War, Midnight Sun, Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean and much more. Check out his website for all kinds of fun art and pin-ups (Alien Legion!).

To see what Ben and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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‘JLA’ skulks and schemes; ‘Vibe’ hums happily

The new JLA, by David Finch

The new JLA, by David Finch

The big new Justice League of America #1 is kind of a mess. It asks a lot of its readers without delivering much right away.

This is something of a mixed result where JLA writer Geoff Johns is concerned. He tends to start well, at least for me. I liked his first issues of Blackest Night and Flashpoint, the introductory volume of Batman Earth One, and his recent work on Green Lantern Simon Baz and the just-concluded “Throne of Atlantis” storyline. However, JLA #1 (drawn by David Finch) either takes a fairly counterintuitive approach to its own premise, or is playing some sort of long game which isn’t readily apparent, and (again) doesn’t quite flow from the book’s Justice League lead-in. More successful is (Justice League of America’s) Vibe #1 (written by Johns and Andrew Kreisberg, pencilled by Pete Woods, and inked by Sean Parsons), which grounds its hero so solidly in League lore it almost overshadows its fellow spinoff.

SPOILERS FOLLOW for JLA #1, Vibe #1, and the conclusion of “Throne of Atlantis” in Justice League #17.

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A little about each of the stories in DC’s Young Romance special

Whether due to use-it-or-lose-it legal concerns about trademarks, or simply to remind everyone of exactly what it owns, DC Comics has come up with a variety of ways to recycle old titles, ranging from the 1997 Tangent event to the anthologies Mystery in Space and Ghosts to the short-lived National Comics revival.

This week the company brought back Young Romance, the title of the Joe Simon/Jack Kirby-created comic that was published from 1947 to 1975, as a Valentine’s Day special featuring a half-dozen stories of romance in the New 52 DC Universe.

An interesting mix of creators are involved, an interesting enough mix to merit a look at what they might do with some of these characters and couples in eight pages. So join me for mini-reviews of every story in Young Romance: The New 52 Valentine’s Day Special.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Justice League brings its A-game to ‘Throne’

Billy Tucci's variant cover for Justice League #15

Geoff Johns always starts strong, and “Throne of Atlantis” is no exception. The only two New 52 books DC Comics put out this week were the first two parts of this crossover, in the 15th issues of Justice League and Aquaman. That suggests something significant, so they dare not disappoint.

Ivan Reis and Joe Prado take over JL’s art with this issue, while Paul Pelletier and Art Thibert (with an inking assist from Karl Kesel) start on Aquaman. I’ve liked Pelletier’s work for years, but his characters aren’t as lean as Reis’s, and I wondered how well the styles would mesh. In fact, here they mesh pretty well, since Pelletier and company seem to have adapted to blend more seamlessly with Reis and Prado. Giving a big assist is colorist Rod Reis, who handles both books with the same basic blue-green palette.

I mention the art upfront because these two issues combine to establish “Throne of Atlantis” as a big crossover, both in terms of its implications and its threat level. While the plot so far is pretty straightforward, Johns and company hang on it a few impressive set-pieces, and a couple of nice bits of characterization. It’s the kind of high-stakes story I expect from the Justice League, and I hope it bodes well for the book’s future.

So without further ado, SPOILERS FOLLOW:

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NYCC | A roundup of news from Saturday

The Last of Us

While I was enjoying my time at APE up in San Francisco, the New York Comic Con was raging on with announcements and such. Before I get into a rundown of the comic-related news coming out of the East Coast today, let’s jump back to yesterday real quick so I can update one of the items from my Friday round-up. I mentioned that Dark Horse would publish a comic based on the upcoming video game The Last of Us, but I didn’t know at the time the most important part — the always awesome Faith Erin Hicks is co-writing AND drawing the comic. That’s a “Stop the presses” moment if I’ve ever seen one.

Ok, now on to Saturday …

• Apparently space is the place at NYCC … following DC’s announcement of Threshold yesterday, Marvel officially announced the return of two of their cosmic titles — Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova. Guardians, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Steve McNiven, comes out in February and apparently will feature Iron Man, or at least someone in his armor. Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness are the creative team for Nova, which features Sam Alexander, the Nova from Avengers vs. X-Men.

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Mitt Romney reboots as Aqua-Romney on Colbert Report

Aquaman has been the caudal fin butt of jokes since at least the 1970s, when the mighty King of the Seven Seas was depicted as the weak link of the animated Super Friends, relying on his teammates for a ride to the nearest body of water. Since then he’s been mocked by everyone from Craig Ferguson and Jeff Dunham to the writers of The Big Bang Theory and Robot Chicken.

And now the Aquatic Ace has been drawn into the 2012 presidential campaign — oh, the humanity! — by none other than Stephen Colbert. On last night’s Colbert Report, the conservative pundit political humorist took a look at Fox News’ efforts to downplay the meaning of Mitt Romney’s foundering battleground-state poll numbers, saying, “The Romney campaign is only on their third reboot since the convention. We’ve had Businessman Romney, Foreign Policy Romney, Latino Romney. But we still haven’t seen Aqua-Romney. … He uses his mental powers to tell fish that 47 percent of them are just lampreys.”

Longtime Legion Academy student Lamprey could not be reached for comment. Watch the full segment below.

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DC reveals three early-shipping titles for December skip week

A day after Diamond Comic Distributors informed direct market stores that it won’t ship products the week of Dec. 24 because of the holiday, DC Comics has announced it will deliver three issues early, allowing retailers to offer new merchandise during the “skip week.”

Other publishers and manufacturers are expected to follow suit.

In an email sent this morning to store owners, Diamond said Aquaman #15, Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #4 and Justice League #15, described as “three key titles,” will be included in the Dec. 19 delivery to go on sale Wednesday, Dec. 26. DC similarly provided Blackest Night #6 to retailers a week early in 2009, the last time the distributor experienced a holiday-triggered skip week. On that occasion, some stores broke the Dec. 30 embargo date, with scans appearing online within hours of delivery.

While the three titles being offered this year may not be the hot commodity that Blackest Night was in 2009, Justice League #15 and Aquaman #15 are the first two parts of the “Throne of Atlantis” crossover (and the former marks the debut of new art team Ivan Reis and Joe Prado), while Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #4 is the conclusion of that miniseries.

What Are You Reading? with Curt Pires and Ramon Villalobos

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guests are the creative team behind the upcoming self-distributed indie comic LP, Curt Pires and Ramon Villalobos. You can read more about the comic in the interview Tim O’Shea did with Curt earlier this week.

And to see what they’ve been reading lately, click below.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Relaunch roundup, Part 1

After a year, I still don't quite get the knee-braces

Because it’s the first week of the New 52 Year Two, the time has come to review where I stand at the end of Year One. It also happens to be the week I’m away on a bidness trip, unable to react to whatever dern-fool thing DC did on Wednesday.

That would probably take a back seat anyway, because I’m a little curious myself to look back at these books. In terms of reading habits, it’s been a rather funky year. Some weeks I wouldn’t have time to read everything I bought, and sometimes that meant books just dropped off my radar. I caught up with a few of these, but a few I just didn’t miss — which, of course, is never a good thing.

You’ll remember that last year I bought all 52 first issues, and talked about each as September proceeded.  Of those which remain, I am reading 27: Action Comics, All-Star Western, Animal Man, Aquaman, Batgirl, Batman, Batman & Robin, Batwing, Batwoman, Blue Beetle, Catwoman, DC Universe Presents, Demon Knights, Detective Comics, Firestorm, Flash, Frankenstein, Green Lantern, GL Corps, I, Vampire, Justice League, Justice League Dark, Stormwatch, Supergirl, Superman, Swamp Thing and Wonder Woman.

Additionally, I was reading six titles that have since been canceled: Blackhawks, JLI, Men of War, OMAC, Resurrection Man and Static Shock. For a while I also read Grifter, Red Lanterns, and Superboy. Filling in some of those holes are second-wave titles Batman Incorporated, Earth 2, Worlds’ Finest and Dial H.

To keep your eyes as glaze-free as possible, this will be a two-part survey. Today we’ll look at the Superman and Batman families, the “historical” titles, the main-line Justice League books, and a few others.

Onward!

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