Comics | Ahead of Joe Quesada’s appearance tonight on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, and the debut Wednesday of Uncanny Avengers, Marvel unpacks its Marvel NOW! initiative for the national press. “This ain’t a reboot, we’re simply hitting the refresh button. ‘Marvel NOW!’ simply offers a line-wide entry-point into the Marvel Universe that you’re already reading about,” Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso says. Tom Brevoort, senior vice president of publishing, calls it “a game of musical chairs” for creators, who will be switched around to make things interesting. [The Associated Press]
Creators | Writer Gail Simone discusses the coming battle between Batgirl and Knightfall in Batgirl #13, as well as the impending return of The Joker: “The Joker is really the Elvis of comic-book villains. There’s no one with his primal star power, there’s no one else anywhere who has sent more chills up the spines of readers, because there genuinely is something terrifying about him.” [USA Today]
This week sees the print debut of Legends of the Dark Knight, the ongoing print version of DC’s digital-first Batman anthology. By design it’s not part of the regular Batman line, and therefore not counted as one of the New 52. However, it gives me an excuse to ask how many Bat-books DC Comics really needs.
Now, I don’t mean that to be as dismissive as it sounds. The current Batman line is built on years, if not decades, of steady readership and fan attachments, and you don’t just wave that away. Nevertheless, if there are only 52 slots in the main superhero line, must the Batman Family claim a quarter of them? The relaunch has made pruning these titles both easier and harder, and today I want to look at the opportunities it presents.
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For many men of a certain age, and more than a few women, Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl represented their first childhood crush. Confidant, sassy and just a little flirty, her heroine was a chaste counterbalance to the overtly sexual Catwoman, whether played by Julie Newmar or Eartha Kitt (there’s probably a master’s thesis in that). She was the purple-suited equivalent of your best friend’s older sister, or your next-door neighbor — the smart-and-pretty girl whom you thought you might have a chance with.
Batgirl was also wildly popular, even as Batman’s ratings flagged in its second season, as these 1967 photos from The Merv Griffin Show demonstrate. While the images have cropped up online before, it was difficult to pass them by when they appeared again overnight on Retronaut; I even poked around to find a couple of more shots of Craig backstage. It’s difficult to imagine an actor like Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson or Chris Hemsworth to appear in superhero costume on The Late Show With David Letterman or Conan, but there Craig is, looking like she’s having a blast.
As a bonus, I’ve also thrown in a photo Leonard Nimoy tweeted earlier this week of him drumming with Adam West, presumably in the late 1960s.
Russian artist Lora Zombie has a portfolio full of work influenced by comic book iconography, though posed in a resolutely non-traditional form. She paints DC Comics’ female characters in work reminiscent of classic pin-up art, while her take on their male counterparts features them in a particularly non-dynamic fashion (but dig Batman’s Chuck Taylors!). Prints of all these are available at Eyes On Walls. Much more below.
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.
Remember those faked Marvel pulp covers by Calamity Jon Morris? Well, I’ve just came across these by Tony Fleecs (you may well remember his “adorable tragedies” series of illustrations), riffing on a similar theme. Fleecs will be selling prints of these designs at his many upcoming convention appearances (listed at his blog). More pulpy goodness can be found below. Continue Reading »
Comic readers like underdogs, both in comics and in comics creators. They like to see someone start off small and build themselves up with achievements, skill and perseverance. In recent years we’ve seen a number of talents catch fire as they went from comics newbie to comics celebrity, from Nick Spencer to Becky Cloonan. Several years back there was one artist who was right on the cusp of breaking into the exclusive A-list level of creators who decided instead to leave for something else. But now he’s back.
Artist Damion Scott graduated from the Kubert School in the late 1990s with a full head of steam and took that to DC Comics, where he climbed the ladderr from 1999 to 2006, refining his style and defining his name on books like Robin and Batgirl. By the end of his run on Batgirl, he was seemingly ready to shine — and did so as the youngest artist picked to headline an issue of DC’s prestigious (but short-lived) Solo anthology. After that, he produced a miniseries featuring the Teen Titans’ Raven, and then … nothing. Well, nothing in the United States. In 2007, Scott moved to Japan to pursue commercial and fine art, doing magazine illustrations, street art and gallery shows. He made a rare cameo in American comics with a short for 2009′s Deadpool #900, but by and large this budding top talent was absent for four years. But last month Scott returned with the first of a two-part story in Marvel’s Web of Spider-Man featuring a group of street-level heroes from his native Brooklyn. And he’s not stopping there.
For this interview I exchanged emails with Scott for several weeks, with the artist writing from Tokyo and New York, where he divides his time. We talked about his return to American comics and his art in Japan, as well as his upcoming comic series Duppy.
“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.
Despite the best efforts of the Batman creative team to keep the Joker’s new look under wraps, DC Comics spoiled the big reveal Monday with the release of the November solicitations, which show a knife-wielding Clown Prince of Crime front and center on the cover of Batgirl #14. Needless to say, Batman artist Greg Capullo, who redesigned the Dark Knight’s arch-nemesis, was none too pleased.
“As careful as I’ve been to save revealing our new Joker, the powers that be have let it out ahead if our book,” he wrote on Twitter. “Stay tuned fir MY pics. In my younger days, I’d have punched several holes in the walls of my office by now. Rest assured, I will give you terror when I draw him.”
Reintroduced in DC’s New 52 as a homicidal maniac being pursued by police, the Joker was last seen in Detective Comics #1 where, imprisoned in Arkham Asylum, the Dollmaker surgically removed his face. Although much of Gotham presumed the Joker dead, last month DC released a grisly promo image teasing his return in October’s Batman #13, which kicks off the “Death of the Family” crossover (a nod to the 1988-89 story arc in which the Joker killed the second Robin, Jason Todd). That image, of a piercing blue eye peering out of the darkness and through the carved-off face of the classic villain, was followed by the cover for Issue 13, which depicts the partially obscured face of the Joker reflected in a hand mirror.
Stephanie Brown still may be absent from the DC Universe — and, yes, the world of Smallville — but the superheroine is now receiving her moment in the spotlight in a fairly impressive trailer for Batgirl: Spoiled, a fan-produced webseries that follows the crime-fighter “on her journey to understand her place in Gotham.”
Directed by Damian Beurer, the teaser stars Marisha Ray as Batgirl, and features cameos by Oracle, Commissioner Gordon, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Batwoman, The Question and others. Information about where and when to watch the first episode is promised soon.
A brief indulgence before we get started: July 14 marked eight years since I started blogging about comics on my own little website, the now-dormant Comics Ate My Brain. Since one of my first posts was called “Robin Problems,” it’s a happy coincidence that this week we return to the original superhero-sidekick identity.
Although I’m not always happy with DC Comics as a company, I have a lot of empathy for the people who work on superhero comics, especially those who populate convention panels. Regardless of how we think they’re doing their jobs, those are still their jobs, and I wouldn’t want to go to work every morning facing a steady torrent of criticism from my customers. (We lawyers get more than enough workplace second-guessing as it is.) It also can’t be easy traveling around having to face one’s critics in person.
That said, if the alternative-fuels industry could harness avoidable fan outrage, DC Comics would be the new OPEC. Once again demonstrating a knack for how not to behave, its panelists practically laughed off legitimate questions about switching out fan-favorite Bat-protege Stephanie Brown for the “more iconic” Barbara Gordon.
After those original accounts appeared online (on Friday the 13th, no less), more details emerged to help explain just who did what. It’s still a situation where DC higher-ups asked to remove Stephanie (which, it can’t be said enough, is really asking for trouble); but apparently the series’ writer got to choose her replacement. Don’t worry, we’ll get into all the nuances.
Not satisfied with the recent announcement that Stephanie Brown will debut as Nightwing in the digital-first Smallville Season 11, hopeful fans of the superheroine are mounting a campaign to convince DC Comics to reintroduce the former Robin and Batgirl into its main universe.
Taking a cue from die-hard viewers of Jericho, who mailed more than 20 tons of nuts to CBS headquarters in an effort to secure a second season, the people behind “Waffles For Stephanie” are asking fans to mail (you guessed it) waffles to DC Comics on Aug. 10, along with a letter explaining why the character deserves a place beyond Smallville.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is artist Ivan Anaya, one of the winners of the winner of the Skullkickers Tavern Tales Contest. He’ll join the other winner, writer Aubrey Sitterson, on a story for Skullkickers #18.
To see what Ivan and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
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.
With my first $15 I’d get the following: The Massive #1 (Dark Horse, $3.50), X-Men #30 (Marvel, $3.99), Spider-Men #1 (Marvel, $3.99), and Saucer Country #4 (Vertigo, $2.99). That leaves me roughly 50 cents out of my budget. I dunno if it was planned this way or not, but two of Brian Wood’s latest projects, The Massive and his run on the X-Men (of the un-Ultimate variety), kick off this week. We also have the debut of Spider-Men, the crossover that features Peter Parker of the 616 Marvel U meeting up with Miles Morales from the Ultimate-verse. I’ve enjoyed the Miles Morales/Ultimate Spider-Man stories this far, which is the reason I’m getting it. Finally, Saucer Country is the best of the new Vertigo titles, featuring clever writing by Paul Cornell and great art by Ryan Kelly.
Add another $15 and I’d also get Captain America #13 (Marvel, $3.99), Uncanny X-Force #26 (Marvel, $3.99), Resurrection Man #10 (DC Comics, $2.99), and Frankenstein: Agent of Shade #10 (DC Comics, $2.99). Again, with some change left over for a candy bar or whatever. I laughed out loud at the big reveal at the end of the last issue of Captain America, as we learned who the new guy was behind the Scourge mask. I assume this is a What If? comic, along the lines of “What if (name redacted for spoiler reasons) wasn’t lame?” So I have to see this through. I mentioned this weekend on What Are You Reading? that I’d downloaded a whole bunch of the current run of Uncanny X-Force for 99 cents from comiXology, and since then I’ve completely caught up on the book, so I’ll definitley be getting the current issue. Add to that one of the final times I’ll get to see Abnett and Lanning’s Resurrection Man comic (sniff … well, it was probably a longshot anyway, based on how well his last comic did) and the debut of Matt Kindt on Frankenstein, and that rounds out my week of comics.
I don’t really have anything on my splurge radar this week, so maybe I’ll just hold onto the cash and save it for next time.