It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics — now with 100 percent more JK Parkin! Michael May, Graeme McMillan, Chris Arrant and JK have each picked the five comics they’re most anticipating in order to create a Top 20 (or so; we overlap sometimes) of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.
As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
47 Ronin #1 (Dark Horse, $3.99): Mike Richardson, Dark Horse’s head honcho, teams with Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai to retell the story of the 47 ronin who avenged their master after he was forced to commit ritual suicide for assaulting a court official. It will be both very cool and a little odd to see Sakai drawing samurai that aren’t anthropomorphic animals and aren’t in black and white (the book’s full color), but I’ve always admired his clean style. As an added bonus, Kazuo Koike of Lone Wolf and Cub fame consulted on the project, so this should be a treat.
Great Pacific #1 (Image Comics, $2.99): Joe Harris and Martin Morazzo have come up with a book that I just love the high concept behind: the heir to one of America’s most successful oil companies moves to the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch and declares it a sovereign country. He then fights giant sea monsters, based on the preview art that’s been released, which is an added bonus.
Marvel NOW!: This might be cheating, but Marvel has 10 new comics debuting in November under the Marvel NOW! banner. Mark Waid on Hulk? John Romita on Captain America? Matt Fraction writing Fantastic Four and FF? Jonathan Hickman on Avengers? Yeah, I’ll just lump all these together and hope no one notices I’m gaming the system here …
Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown: Fantagraphics continues its series of high-end collections of the best of Carl Barks’ duck stories, with the Christmas-themed third volume arriving just in time to be stuffed in somebody’s stocking.
Retrovirus (Image Comics, $16.99): Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s latest graphic novel, drawn by Norberto Fernandez, is about a research scientist who specializes in viruses heading to Antarctica to examine a perfectly preserved caveman. I’m a fan of Palmiotti and Gray’s work together, from Jonah Hex to The Monolith (which gets the collection treatment in November), and this one sounds like it could be a lot of fun.
“Take away the suit of armor and what are you?”
“Uh, genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.”
You too can join the G.B.P.P. Club, courtesy of artist Ryan Astle and TeeFury. Memberships are only available to Tony Stark’s very exclusive organization (even more exclusive than the Avengers, who will let anybody in) for 24 hours, so buy it now if you want it. ” I imagine Tony giving Steve this shirt as a gag gift at Christmas,” Astle said.
The Marvel year sort of ends in November, doesn’t it? Looking back, it seems like this is the month of fallouts from events, the rebirth of familiar titles, a new banner emblazoning our books, the loss of a few under-the radar hits. Everything changes, whether we like it or not, and the cycle begins anew right around the holiday season. I’m jumping back on the “Forward into the Past” arena with one of the more important times of year: August, when we talk about November like it’s January of next year. Confused? Me too. But hopefully if we just keep in mind how this usually goes, we’ll be able to fit right in as the old guard becomes the new guard and we lose Avengers Academy.
We should form a support group, you guys. That book has been my bright and shining star of Avengers hope for so long, I’m not sure what I’m going to do without it.
Hold back those tears! Let us forge ahead and see what these Days of Future’s Future might look like in Marvel’s solicitations for November.
Nine Marvel series will end in October even as the publisher debuts Uncanny Avengers #1, the first title in its sweeping Marvel NOW! initiative.
According to Marvel’s October solicitations, which went live this morning, the month will mark the conclusions of Captain America, Fantastic Four, FF, Incredible Hulk, Invincible Iron Man, New Mutants, The Mighty Thor, Uncanny X-Men and X-Men Legacy.
Naturally, some of those aren’t entirely unexpected, as the new Uncanny Avengers, by Rick Remender and John Cassaday, will be joined in November by All-New X-Men, by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen, followed by Avengers, by Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opena, in December and New Avengers, by Hickman and Steve Epting, in January. Likewise, Ed Brubaker revealed two weeks ago that he’s ending his acclaimed seven-year-run on Captain America, a departure that dovetails nicely into Marvel’s relaunch plans.
However, what will replace such mainstay titles as Fantastic Four, Incredible Hulk, Invincible Iron Man and The Mighty Thor, and when, remains to be seen. Although it’s unlikely the publisher will go too long without versions of those comics on the shelves, Marvel has promised a slow rollout of relaunches between October and February.
This wasn’t the halfway point I was expecting. When it comes to summer events, it’s kind of an unstated rule that there’s going to be a bigger focus on spectacle rather than content. When a giant cosmic force of life and death barrels toward your planet, you expect all the heroes to get some new costumes, maybe pick up a couple of new skill sets and give it all they’ve got to battle the Big Bad of Summer 2012. Not a philosophical comment on the nature of man and their relationship and understanding of the future.
Of course, that’s awesome, but unexpected.
It’s like getting a box of Fruit Loops, and about halfway through the box you find the answer to life, the universe and everything (to borrow a phrase). Sure, it’s not the most reliable answer, as it came out of a box of Fruit Loops, but how astounding is it that it’s even here? Does it give the answer more or less weight considering where you found it?
Let’s talk a little thematic philosophy and also kicking and punching in this week’s Avengers vs. X-Men Round 6, shall we?
Sales charts | The American Booksellers Association has released its list of the top-selling graphic novels in indie bookstores for the eight weeks ending May 27. At first glance, it looks like it’s mostly literary graphic novels (Habibi, Are You My Mother?) with a healthy sprinkling of The Walking Dead. [Bookselling This Week, via The Beat]
Creators | Grant Morrison discusses the second issue of Batman Incorporated, which features Batman’s lover and Robin’s mom, Talia al Ghul. [USA Today]
Comics history | Could comics history have been radically different if Jerry Siegel had a different last name? Larry Tye, the author of the new Superman a biography, talks to Fresh Air about the origins of the Man of Steel and how he changed over the years: “The editors in New York over time started to exercise their editorial control. They saw this as both a character and a business. They would go down to the level of dictating just what his forelocks looked like. They could be too curly. His arms should be shorter and less ‘ape-like.’ And Joe should get rid of his hero’s ‘nice fat bottom.’ His editor told him that he worried that that made Superman look too ‘la-dee-dah.’ And they were really concerned about the image of the character.” [NPR]
Fans have been breaking down and building up everything big and small from The Avengers movie, and this recent set of art of Black Widow and Hawkeye really draws you in. Created by an artist named Lettie, these eight pieces bring into focus the nuanced relationship between Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton that was only hinted at in the Marvel film.
There’s been an immense amount of fan art surrounding The Avengers, showing everything from a love for shawarma to romantic relationships between Loki and the male cast to bloopers. Lettie’s artwork here really cuts to the bone, like a would-be set of deleted scenes that makes you want to see more of this pair’s relationship, either in a future Avengers movie or a spinoff all their own. Make it mine, Marvel!
“I think Marvel Comics should pay for the Jack Kirby Museum. They should fund the thing in its entirety, right now – and not a temporary, pop-up (which would still be awesome), but a permanent, brick and mortar space. what is that – 10, 20 million bucks to do it right? that’s a drop in the bucket. and all profit from the museum in perpetuity could go to the Kirby estate.”
— Sammy the Mouse creator Zak Sally, offering an intriguing suggestion on what Marvel could do to pay its considerable debt to Jack Kirby. Sally goes on to say: “I actually believe that, framed in a less rant-fueled, angry setting, a campaign to get Marvel (and Kirby did no small amount of work/ creation for DC, either) to pony up for the museum is a pretty damn good idea, and I would urge saner, more reasonable minds who agree with this idea to put it forth in whatever way they deem fit.” I actually think this is a pretty good idea, too. Donating a considerable sum or outright paying for the museum would go a long way towards generating considerable goodwill and acknowledge Kirby’s considerable contribution to the company without having to outright pay the family or (I suspect) suggest any possibility of Kirby’s estate having a legitimate claim to the characters’ copyright.
If we’re not completely done with Marvel’s The Avengers yet (I’m certainly not), Lemon.ly has a great infographic that ranks the team members according to strength, skill, brains, gadgets, heart, and swagger, while also listing their greatest strengths and weaknesses. Which trait is most important to you? Which Avenger best embodies it?
Spoiler’s Warning: This post contains potential spoilers for both the Avengers movie and Avengers Assemble #3.
Marvel followed the release of their big blockbuster Avengers movie with the third issue of Avengers Assemble by the team of Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley, Danny Miki and Paul Mounts. The book features an Avengers team that mirrors the one from the film fighting a revamped version of their classic foes The Zodiac.
“I believe Tom [Brevoort] came to me and said it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a book out that had these characters in print. Because you’re involved in what’s going on in the creative committee, you’re probably the perfect guy to do it,” Bendis told CBR back in February. “[I thought] what we need is a book like this in continuity that matters, that’s really huge.”
The timing couldn’t have been better, as issue #3 reveals the big bad behind the Zodiac, which mirrors events in the Avengers film. But how is the comic itself? Here’s a round-up of reactions from various folks around the web:
I had a dream last night that comic books were dead. It wasn’t a bullet or a ray gun that killed them; it was just economics and a general shift of popular culture. The bottom dropped out of the New 52 and DC couldn’t regain lost readers. Marvel moved out to Los Angeles, and their publishing arm waned after relentless budget cuts and eventually dwindled down to nothing. Robert Kirkman had a huge lawsuit over rights and appropriations, and he left to go work on movies and television, taking a lot of young hopefuls with him. Popular titles got sold off like police auctions, and creators left comics for the greener and more lucrative pastures of other media. Less comics came out every week, leaving comic shops to stock up on action figures or Magic cards, eventually phasing out their back issue stock and relegating comics to a small corner of the store. Eventually, comics just disappeared entirely.
After the massive, colossal hit that is Marvel’s The Avengers, there’s a lot of buzz in the air about what comes next. What will be the next property to hit the big screen? Will it tie into the new movie continuity? Will Joss direct the next Avengers installment? Even on my way into the theater for the midnight showing of the Avengers movie, I had friends trying to tell me what the next “obvious” sequel was going to be. With as much success as Marvel Studios has seen this year and others, the doors are wide open for all sorts of properties to find fresh new life in a whole new medium. But none of this brave new frontier of pop culture seems to really involve the actual comics medium. So let’s talk about it.
Artist Matt Kaufenberg apparently doesn’t, either. Over on his “An Illustration-a-Day” blog, Kaufenberg shares, well, an illustration every day, and this week he’s shared two that Avengers fans should dig — the above one featuring SHIELD’s Agent Coulson, and similar Thor illustration about his day off. Will we find out what Hulk, Hawkeye and the rest of the crew do on their days off? Hopefully so.
Here’s some good news for The Hero Initiative: according to Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter, the organization has received about $1,100 so far due to campaigns like this one that asked people to donate money to the organization if they go see The Avengers.
“You’re probably going to go see The Avengers and, judging by the early reviews, you’ll probably enjoy it. How about — as a thank you to the creators who brought you these characters in the first place, who gave you something to enjoy so much — you match your ticket price as a donation to The Hero Initiative?” cartoonist Jon Morris wrote on his blog before the film’s release.
Spurgeon points out that these funds were raised without any effort on the Hero Initiative’s part, making them “bonus” money the organization wasn’t expecting or planning for. He also reached out to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, another charity mentioned as a possible recipient, but they haven’t seen a notable increase.
There’s no deadline for donating, so if you saw the film, or even if you haven’t and just want to support comics creators, head over to The Hero Initiative site to do so. You can also help them out by buying the upcoming Hero Comics 2012, their annual anthology by creators like Russ Heath and Darwyn Cooke (whose strip I included to the left), Kevin Eastman (who does a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles story), Chris Ryall and Ashley Wood, Richard Starkings and Dave Sim, and many more. Wait, Dave Sim is drawing an Elephantman story? That’s probably worth a look just for curiosity’s sake alone.
The Black Beetle artist Francesco Francavilla has a blog where he shares all sorts of cool pulp-inspired artwork each Sunday, and yesterday he happened to chose to pulp-ify a certain super-team that’s been making headlines all weekend. He’s got three pieces up featuring Hulk the Druid, Captain Amerigo, Thor and Iron Man — two that he did and one by artist Steve Gordon. Go check’em out.
There are three things rattling around in my head today: Chris Roberson’s public departure from DC/Vertigo, John Seavey’s empirical evaluation of the Silver Age, and the notion of a Justice League movie.
Not surprisingly, the last is a product of the inescapable, wearying Avengers hype. My 3-year-old daughter, who knows superheroes mostly from her dad’s toy collection (or if they’re on “WordGirl”), happened to see a commercial the other day and exclaimed “Hey, it’s Captain America!” (She has since started playing with Mary Marvel and Katma Tui.)
As it happens, I’m perfectly happy to hold off seeing Avengers — and doing my part to deny it a big opening, in protest of Marvel’s treatment of Jack Kirby — until after its first weekend. (For this Bluegrass State native, the Kentucky Derby will always be a bigger deal.) Although I am obviously more of a DC guy, I should be at least moderately excited for this movie. I grew up on the Avengers of the 1970s and early ‘80s, when it was written by the likes of Steve Englehart, Jim Shooter, and Steven Grant, and pencilled by George Pérez and John Byrne. A couple of decades later, I eagerly followed the Busiek/Pérez run. For the most part I have enjoyed the Marvel movies, especially Captain America; and I didn’t mind The Ultimates, which surely informs much of the new movie. I trust Joss Whedon to present Earth’s Mightiest in the best light possible.
So along with the bad taste of creator exploitation, perhaps it’s a bit of pre-movie burnout which has got me down, or perhaps it’s just the constant drumbeat of publicity. Either way, it got me thinking about a Justice League movie….