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Food or Comics? | Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Dog

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Batman, Inc. #1

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, this ever-lovin’ comics fan would first pick out Dark Horse Presents #12 (Dark Horse, $7.99). First off: John Layman and Sam Kieth doing an Aliens story, can you believe that? That debut, coupled with the return of Mike Baron and Steve Rude’s Nexus, makes this another DHP worth buying. After that, I’d jump into Prophet #25 (Image, $2.99) to see Brandon Graham’s rollicking story with special guest artist Farel Dalrymple. The creators lined up on this Extreme Comics revival continue to impress me, and I’m excited to see new work by Dalrymple here. Third up would be Secret Avengers #27 (Marvel, $3.99), and I’m all hyped up to see how Rick Remender handles the touchy subject of Marvel’s original Captain Marvel. As for the artist, I’m still waiting for Renato Guedes to wow me the way he did before he jumped from DC to Marvel; the previews for this show some promise, so I’m excited to see the entire package.

If I had $30, I’d double back to get the return of Batman Incorporated #1 (DC, $2.99). Grant Morrison’s schedule, along with the New 52, seemed to harpoon this title last year, but I’m hoping this is some attempt to right that ship. Next up would be Fantastic Four #606 (Marvel, $2.99), seeing Jonathan Hickman come full circle as his run nears conclusion by going back to where the FF started: with four people in space suits. Ron Garney is an interesting choice to draw this one, and his take on the Thing is right up there with Stuart Immonen’s. Last up would be Irredeemable #37 (BOOM! Studios, $3.99). I admit I switched to trades a couple issues ago, but I’m jumping back in — spoilers be damned — to find out the end to this story. I’m a little bit morose that artist Peter Krause isn’t the one drawing the finale given all he put into this, but Diego Barretto is an able artist to draw what Waid has set out for this final issue. Oh, hey, I’ve got $5.06 left so I’ll live up to the the title of this Robot 6 feature and get some food: a hot dog from Voodoo Dogs in Tallahassee. Have you seen their new commercial?

If I could splurge, I’d finish eating my hot dog and pick up Comic Book History of Comics (IDW Publishing, $21.99). I’ve failed at life when I couldn’t track down all six of these issues on my own, but IDW offering it all up in one package saves me from that level of hell. Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey have put on a master class here in doing bio comics, especially bio comics about comics, and as a journalist, comics fan and would be comics writer myself this hits all the right spots for an engrossing read.

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What Are You Reading? with Tim Seeley

Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Tim Seeley, whose work you may know from Hack/Slash, Bloodstrike, Witchblade, Colt Noble, the upcoming Ex Sanguine and Revival, and much more.

To see what Tim has been reading lately, click below.

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Food or Comics? | Popeye or popcorn

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

AvX: Vs #1

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d go all-in on AvX: Vs #1 (Marvel, $3.99). As a story format-junkie, this seems like an ideal supplemental series to the event comic series as we know it – I may have read it wrong, but this seems low on continuity and high on action – kind of a throwback to the condensed comics of the ’60s, I hope. And seeing Kathryn and Stuart Immonen on this together is a big deal – wish they’d get more chances like this! Next up would be the finale of The Twelve, #12 (Marvel, $2.99). I argued with myself about waiting for the trade at this point, but at the end of the day I’m more interested in this than a lot of everything else going on out there. Plus, I bought the eleven previous issues so I should finish it out, right? Next up would be Spaceman #6 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). I’m finding this series benefits from a deeper re-reading prior to each new issues, but it’s paying off in spades in terms of my enjoyment. This is definitely a palate cleanser after Azzarello and Risso’s run on 100 Bullets, but in a good way. Finally, I’d get Daredevil #11 (Marvel, $2.99). The Eisner Awards judges got this one right when they piled nominations on this book, because Waid, Martin, and Rivera have really made the quintessential superhero book here. The fill-ins from Khoi Pham and Marco Checchetto seem off-putting, but they’ve earned some lee-way after the murderer’s row of creators who started the book. Can’t wait to see Samnee on this, however.

If I had $30, I’d start off with an interesting looking project that’s gotten no press – Airboy: Deadeye #1 (Antarctic Press, $3.50). Chuck Dixon and Ben Dunn — what a pairing. After that I’d go back to get Supercrooks #2 (Marvel/Icon, $2.99); Mark Millar knows how to sell a high-concept, but it’s Leinil Yu that’s making me come back past the first issue. After that would be an Avengers two-fer: New Avengers #25 (Marvel, $3.99) and Secret Avengers #26 (Marvel, $3.99). I dropped off New a few issues back, but with this new issue covering some never-before-seen connections between Iron Fist and the Phoenix Force, I’m back in for this one. And Secret Avengers, well, Remender’s on a roll with his Marvel work and this is continuing on that without being an Uncanny X-Force retread. And guest artist Renato Guedes seems a better fit for this than his work on Wolverine.

If I could splurge, I’d lunge for a copy of The Art of Amanda Conner (IDW/Desperado, $29.99). I was fortunate enough to get a digital review copy of this earlier, and seeing it like that only made me want this more. Rather than just being a template art book plugging in her work, the design and packaging really go along with what you’d expect from Amanda’s tongue-in-cheek comic style. Reading this makes me want to go back and track down her earlier work that I missed.

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Comics A.M. | First Ninja Turtles drawing goes up for auction

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird

Auctions | Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s very first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles drawing, the sketch initially thrown together in November 1983 as a joke but ended up launching a multimedia phenomenon, is being sold by Heritage Auctions. The high bid, as of this morning, is $4,250. The auction ends May 3. [Heritage Auctions]

Digital comics | Viz Media has formed a new division, Viz Labs, to focus on the digital side of the business, and they have put Gagan Singh, who helped develop the digital platform for Viz manga and anime, in charge of it. What does this mean? It’s anyone’s guess, but one possibility is that Viz, which has one of the best digital comics platforms out there, might be thinking about offering its digital service as a separate product, perhaps as a platform for other publishers. [Viz Media]

Digital comics | Digital comics distributor iVerse will launch a digital comics lending service for libraries later this year. [Publishers Weekly]

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Grumpy Old Fan | That extra “one”: DC’s July 2012 Solicits

Overcompensating? Who's overcompensating?

Good grief, it’s the eleventh month of the New-52! The forty-six books left from the original class are just about ready to wrap up their first year, and in some cases their second collection. Where does the time go? (And when can we stop calling it the “New” 52?)

In fact, both Batman #11 and Animal Man #11 promise “stunning conclusions” to their inaugural arcs. Of course, the Owls storyline looks more like a traditional multi-title crossover (even if most of it takes place in the main Batman book), whereas Animal Man’s storyline only involves an Annual and a little bit of Swamp Thing. Usually I am frustrated with the very idea of looking ahead three-plus months, because it’s the serialized-comics equivalent of being forced to check your watch halfway through a movie. Here, though, knowing that these two series are headed for big finishes in July helps adjust my expectations about where they are now.

Similarly, we’ve seen three months’ worth of solicitations (and more than that in hype) on the two Earth-2 titles, but for me that’s built up anticipation. Despite the concept’s radical reworking, I’m eager to see how it all comes together.

Now to more specific comments….
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Aquaman hero’s introduction, death sparks open letter to Geoff Johns

Kahina the Seer, from Aquaman #7

DC Comics’ Aquaman #7 marked the New 52 debut of archenemy Black Manta and the introduction of “the Others,” a super-powered team from the king of Atlantis’ past whose ranks included Kahina the Seer, a native of Tehran gifted with prophetic powers. Unfortunately for Kahina, however, her first appearance was also (presumably) her last, as she’s hunted down and killed by the helmeted villain in the issue’s opening sequence.

It’s a turn of events that didn’t sit well with comics writer, and fan, Dara Naraghi (Witch & Wizard: Battle for Shadowland, Ghostbusters: Tainted Love), who’s posted an open letter to Aquaman writer Geoff Johns, reworked from a similar one he sent to Editor Pat McCallum, detailing his “extreme disappointment” as an Iranian-American reader in seeing an Iranian character killed off only eight pages after her introduction.

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DC partners with Sonic Drive-In for Justice League Tots

Have you heard? Some maniacal super villain has kidnapped the Justice League and turned them into… tater tots? Don’t worry, super friends, it’s all part of a unique promotion DC is doing with the fast food chain Sonic Drive-In.

Sonic Justice League Tots

Available “for a limited time only” with purchase of one of Sonic’s Wacky Pack Kids’ Meals, these “Super Tots” come in 10 varieties: Superman, Clark Kent, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Flash, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, Supergirl, Bizarro, and Plastic Man. Batman and Green Lantern are conspicuously absent, but I’d chalk that up to the adult world of licensing agreements and what not given their recent movies.

This isn’t the first time comic heroes have shown up in fast food kids meals, but it’s arguably one of the most deliciously cute ones in recent memory. Check out all the little guys after the jump, courtesy of Sonic.

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What Are You Reading? with Ao Meng

The Silence of Our Friends

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Ao Meng, who writes about comics for the Daily Texan, the University of Texas newspaper, as well as Novi Magazine.

To see what Ao and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …

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Grumpy Old Fan | DC in April: Goodbye doesn’t mean forever

I will not caption this cover "Pistol Packin' Mama"

The big news from April’s solicitations was revealed last week, as DC announced the cancellation of six of the original New-52 books (to be replaced with five new series plus the returning Batman Incorporated). While there’s more to say about this on its merits, I do like DC keeping a fixed number of ongoing series. Nerds love structure, right? (Besides, it’s kind of like programming a television schedule.)

Of course, just two weeks ago I predicted that all of the original New-52 books would get to their twelfth issues, in part so that DC could claim they each “told their stories.” That doesn’t seem to be the case here, at least not from the solicitation texts. Instead, the solicits for each final issue mostly advertise how the series are all going down swinging. We know now, too, that in some ways this isn’t really the end: Mister Terrific’s Karen Starr looks like the Power Girl of the upcoming Worlds’ Finest; Men Of War’s superhero/military mashup should transition smoothly to G.I. Combat; and I don’t think DC will kill off Hawk and Dove again.

Actually, if I were Captain Atom, I’d be a little nervous. According to ICV2′s December sales estimates, Hawk & Dove was the highest-selling New-52 book to be cancelled (18,014 copies at #114), but CA was right behind (17,917; #115).

Anyway, on to the solicits themselves….

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Comics A.M. | How digital changed Geoff Johns’ approach to writing

Aquaman #1

Digital comics | Geoff Johns explains how digital presentation made him re-evaluate his approach to writing Aquaman #1, as digital readers focus on stories panel by panel rather than page by page. He notes that they also spend more time on individual panels, taking in all the details before moving on: “It’s weird to go back and look at some of the old comics now. If you read something in this fashion you will notice stuff that you skipped over so quickly because your eye takes in the whole page instead of the panel individually. I think that’s probably one of the biggest advantages of digital.” Johns also reveals digital considerations have also led him to scale back on internal dialogue to “let the art and characters expressions speak for themselves.” [Variety]

Digital comics | On a related note, Shaun Huston ponders the challenges of making “comics as we know them” work on digital devices: “While there’s some latitude to read full pages on the iPad, and the Fire at 4.7” x 7.5” (or the Nooks) affords that option more realistically than the iPhone or similarly-sized devices, in all of these cases there will be situations where most readers will shift to Guided View in order to effectively see some particular detail on a page. For many, Guided View will be the primary choice, which is a qualitatively different experience than reading page-by-page. In fact, while in that mode, ‘the page’ arguably becomes irrelevant as panels are strung together into one linear sequence, rather than into a series of page-specific sequences.” [PopMatters]

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Comics A.M. | Filling void left by Atomic Comics bankruptcy

Atomic Comics

Retailing | In the wake of the August closing of the Atomic Comics chain, Mesa, Arizona-area retailers are searching for ways to diversify in an attempt to keep their own stores afloat. Mike Banks, owner of Samurai Comics, has even opened a new location next to Atomic’s former flagship store to serve customers who suddenly found themselves without a comics shop. [East Valley Tribune]

Creators | Mike Mignola talks about his plans for next year’s Hellboy in Hell: “It’s a personal story about him, but with huge ramifications for the structure of Hell. I’m trying to get Hellboy free of the giant, Beast-of-the-Apocalypse storyline. That story has to get bigger before it can be put away. This first arc is the culmination of all the prophecy crap I’ve been trotting out throughout the years. We put a lot of things to bed.” Mignola also discusses his plans for B.P.R.D. and why he can’t watch the pilot of The Amazing Screw-On Head. [io9]

Creators | Tom Spurgeon continues his holiday interview series with a lengthy chat with Jeff Parker that spans his early comics-reading experiences, the influence of his artistic background on his writing, and his career at Marvel. [The Comics Reporter]

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Comics A.M. | Occupy Miami diary, Bill Mantlo followup

Occupy Miami

Creators | Sarah Glidden, creator of How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, chronicles her time at Occupy Miami Nov. 15-21 in a sketchbook. [Cartoon Movement]

Creators | Corey Blake follows up on the Bill Mantlo story published by LIfeHealthPro, including some clarifications of issues raised in the story and additional details on various fundraisers over the years to help pay for Mantlo’s care. [Corey Blake]

Creators | Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society Podcast interviews Skullkickers writer Jim Zubkavich about piracy and the Stop Online Piracy Act. [Berkman Center for Internet & Society Podcast]

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Food or Comics? | A pre-Thanksgiving four-color feast

Wolverine and the X-Men

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d get one from almost every box–Image’s Invincible #85 ($2.99), DC’s DMZ #71 ($2.99), Marvel’s Wolverine and The X-Men #2 ($3.99) and independent title RASL #12 ($3.50). Not much to say about any of these I haven’t already said, except anytime Cory Walker draws a book I’d pay twice cover price.

If I had $30, I’d sneak out of Thanksgiving preparations to first get a book I was surprised I liked as much as I did, despite the last issue’s ending: Shade #2 (DC, $2.99). One thing I wasn’t amped to see was Deathstroke, but given James Robinson and Cully Hammer’s track record I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Next up would be the epic (in my mind, at least) team-up of Warren Ellis and Michael Lark on Secret Avengers #19 (Marvel, $3.99). Seeing Ellis boil down the concept into “Run the mission. Don’t get seen. Save the world.” Hits me right between the eyes, and this new issue’s preview has be salivating over it. Last up, I’d pay the giant size price tag for Fantastic Four #600 (Marvel, $7.99) although my patience has worn a little thin with ending the series then bringing it back for #600.

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Grumpy Old Fan | We are family: DC solicits for February 2012

Because a Crisis On Infinite Earths homage would have been too predictable

At first I wasn’t especially excited about too much in DC’s February solicitations. However, the more I looked around, the more optimistic I became. Six months into the New 52, some connections are starting to gel, and their interactions (well, as far as what you can glean from the ad copy) seem more organic. As always, there were a few pleasant surprises in the collected editions, and some details from which to spin hopeful speculation.

But enough with the purple prose — let’s hit the books!

TO UNLIMITED AND BEYOND

The gee-whizziest news of the February solicitations has to be the digital-first format of Batman Beyond Unlimited. I have not been the quickest to adapt to digitally-conveyed comics, mostly because my personal technology level hasn’t caught up. However, I do read a number of webcomics, as well as newspaper strips online, and if the price were right, I’d gladly sample BBU’s features on my computer before picking up the print version. Having Dustin Nguyen and (yay!) Norm Breyfogle involved doesn’t hurt either.
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Three makes it a trend, right?: The new JLA is A-OK with using lethal force

Justice League #3

“Should Batman kill the Joker?” is a perennial favorite among superhero fan conversation topics, always leading to a variety of different answers. A Golden Age appearance aside, Batman’s bosses at DC Comics have always answered the question the same way, however: Hell no.

Part of the reason for that is practical. You don’t kill off a popular, money-making character (well, you can now and then if it will make more money, but then you have to bring the character back to life somehow). Part of it is smart franchise management. If Batman kills off his enemies, then he runs out of guys to fight awfully quickly. There’s a reason Spider-Man has such a big and colorful rogue’s gallery to fill movies, cartoon and toy lines with, while The Punisher  doesn’t. But a big part of it has to do with Batman’s characterization. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to not kill a mass-murderer you find yourself in deadly combat with on a bi-monthly basis, and sure, it makes even less sense to go out of your way to save the life of said mass-murderer as Batman regularly does for The Joker and his other foes, but then, dressing up as a bat to fight crime doesn’t make much sense either—Batman’s weird, and that’s what makes him so appealing. Of course his moral code is weird too.

The red, un-crossable line Batman has drawn between beating someone within an inch of their life and actually killing them is one shared by most superheroes. The hero pushed to the limit finally getting the villain at their mercy at the climax and forced to decide whether or not to end the villain’s life of evil once and for all is a staple of super-comics.

And it hasn’t changed all that much in the years since, say, “The Trial of The Flash.” Particularly in the DC Universe (The Marvel heroes embraced killing foes en masse during 2008′s Secret Invasion, in which they went to war with the alien Skrulls).

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