Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
DC Entertainment has debuted the first look at the upcoming Batgirl Black and White statue, based on the fan-favorite character redesign by Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr.
Set for release in September 2015 from DC Collectibles, it’s the first Batgirl statue from the popular Black and White line that’s included The Joker, Harley Quinn and numerous takes on Batman. Irene Matar, who sculpted DC Collectibles’ Batman: The Animated Series line, also sculpted Batgirl.
Creators | A U.K. researcher argues that Marie Duval was the real creative force behind the wildly popular 19th-century British comic Ally Sloper, which is largely credited to her husband Charles Ross. Duval, the pen name of French cartoonist Emilie de Tessier, drew the character at the height of his popularity in the 1860s and ’70s, but historian David Kunzle now questions what role Ross actually played in his creation. [The Guardian]
Commentary | Chase Magnett pushes back on Chris Suellentrop’s statement, made in a column about GamerGate, that comics are “a medium that has never outgrown its reputation for power fantasies and is only very occasionally marked by transcendent work (Maus, or the books of Chris Ware) that demands that the rest of the culture pay attention to it.” [Comicbook.com]
As strange as Marvel’s recent teasers haven been, with offbeat remixes of events past, they’re nothing compared to the inter-company mashup captured Tuesday afternoon on Hollywood Boulevard.
CBS Los Angeles reports that the Hollywood Walk of Fame, long a hotbed for costumed mayhem, erupted about 5 p.m. as Batgirl struggled with Mr. Incredible in a brawl that drew in a colorful cast of characters. Reporter Suzanne Marques offers play-by-play of the video, shot by a production company that happened to be working nearby:
Publishing | DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee talk about the state of the comics market, DC’s upcoming move from New York City to Burbank, the growing female audience and more. “There’s also a diversification within the audience itself the past couple of years,” Lee observed. “You’ve seen more women, more female readers, in general. When we launched Batgirl and Gotham Academy, those books struck a different note, different tonality, and that was in large part due to editor Mark Doyle bringing these projects together with different kinds of creators. It was our way of broadening the base of the Batman family of books but doing it in a different way to attract a different audience. I think it speaks well to the future that we’re not just going to strike the same note looking for the same customer. […] You can’t necessarily rely on the same continuity, the same core hardcore comics-driven material; you have to diversify, broaden your net and bring in different voices to the company.” [ICv2]
It would be awfully hard to overstate the enthusiasm out there for Batgirl #35. As soon as the new creative team of Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr and Brenden Fletcher was announced, social media was buzzing; hell, it was singing. Fan art of the new costume began appearing online immediately, and cosplayers started dressing the new Batgirl based on nothing more than the initial promotional images and cover.
I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen this much enthusiasm for a DC Comics production. Universe-shaking developments — deaths, resurrections, infinite crises — major crossovers, and new series from the hottest creators are generally greeted with a dose of cold water from a certain faction of fans. DC readers tend to fall somewhere between “cautiously optimistic” and “openly hostile” when it comes to the publisher’s big decisions. But, for whatever reasons, I’ve seen none of that cynicism regarding the new direction of Batgirl.
Which is a long way of saying that expectations for this particular issue of this particular series are, in most quarters that care about such things, sky-high.
There are only ever three things that can happen with expectations: They can be met, they can fail to be met, or they can be exceeded. And, in general, the higher the expectations are, the less likely they are to be met.
So, as a comic book, how is Batgirl #35 …?
First, Archie Andrews took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and now it’s Batgirl’s turn!
Challenged by Stella of the Batgirl to Oracle podcast to take the plunge for charity, the incoming Batgirl team of Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr came up with a creative response: They recruited Barbara Gordon to stand in for them in a fun comic strip — and she brought along some unexpected help.
[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
Gail Simone brought to a close her tenure as Batgirl writer and helped kick off the digital-first Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman series this week. Both issues were well within her comfort zone, featuring large casts of characters locked in spirited combat a la Wonder Woman #600 and Secret Six #36. Both had callbacks to previous Simone successes, one of which pleased this longtime fan immeasurably. (No spoilers, but let’s just say she’s a Bird of Prey I didn’t think I’d see in the New 52.) Perhaps most importantly, both showed their headliners fully in control of their respective situations. For Batgirl that came at the end of a long, somewhat depressing series of subplots, and in Sensation it was a well-executed rebuttal to anyone who thinks Wonder Woman can’t be as hardcore as her gothic-avenger colleague.
When DC Comics relaunched its superhero line in 2011 with the New 52, there was an unmistakable sameness to the aesthetic of many of the titles. Sure, there have been some eye-catching exceptions, but for the most part, the Jim Lee-led character redesigns have exerted great influence over the DC Universe for the past three years.
If you’re a fan of Jim Lee, that’s pretty awesome. If you’re a fan of a lot of artists and styles, that’s less awesome and has made the New 52 sometimes frustrating and occasionally baffling. There are more than 75 years’ worth of characters bursting with the imagination of hundreds of creators. Why filter all that down to such a narrow experience for readers? I love Oreo cookies, but can I ever have chocolate chip cookie?
But then, along comes new Batman Group Editor Mark Doyle, who moved from Vertigo in February. Suddenly, there’s a new creative team, a new costume and a new outlook, for Batgirl, followed by announcements of Gotham Academy, Arkham Manor and, just Tuesday, Gotham By Midnight, demonstrating that Batman and his world are a resilient and powerful corner of the DC Universe. It’s one where offering different aesthetics adds a richness to the entire line while (possibly) attracting the eye of those looking for something different in their reading experience.
Essentially, Doyle just installed a snack bar. So let’s go eat!
Comic-Con International has come and gone, and like every year, we’re left with a metric ton of announcements, hints, speculations, sneak previews, leaked footage and open questions.
There also seemed to be more pre-convention announcements than I can remember seeing in previous years. If the past week or so of frenzied news wasn’t enough, panel coverage and from is still rolling out. Based on the past several years, we should see those continue to be doled out for the next week or two.Comic-Con is truly a month-long event, maybe almost two months when all is said and done. So it’s understandable if it’s sometimes difficult to keep track of what was announced when or to even remember that awesome thing I was so excited about a week ago but can’t name now.
There are plenty that stuck with me, however; I’ve already written about comiXology’s DRM-free titles, and some of Image’s upcoming titles, and there were plenty of others. Of course, I can’t mention all of the cool things to emerge from Comic-Con — that would just be a near duplication of everything we’ve heard about for about a month now. So instead, here are six (more) things from Comic-Con I can remember thinking were extra-awesome:
Widely circulated photos have shown San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and City Council President Todd Gloria riding the 200-foot zip line set up at Comic-Con International to promote Fox’s Gotham, but it’s The Hollywood Reporter’s Philiana Ng who delivers the winning image: a Batgirl cosplayer striking a pose as she glides across the Gotham City skyline.
“Certainly when you relaunch a whole universe, something like the New 52, you’re gonna essentially create a bible that kind of guides and dictates the evolution and growth of the universe. We’re in year three of that, and certainly every story that’s created is done through the collaboration of an editor with the writer and the artist and the rest of the creative team. So I certainly think Mark Doyle coming on and becoming the Batman Group editor was a big part of that. I think it’s also a recognition that our audience has evolved and we wanna make sure that we tell the stories that the audiences are craving. So we identified this need. We’re coming out with these different kinds of storylines, and, frankly, it’s exciting because we have a lot of Batman books, and I think it’s a disservice to the fans and to the character to have everything feel of the same tonality. I’m a big fan of Becky Cloonan, so I’m really looking forward to her work on Gotham Academy. I think it’s healthy for the business, and it’s an exciting time to be a Batman fan.”
— DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Jim Lee, talking with Entertainment Weekly about the decision to take “the Batman world” in a different direction with the newly announced Arkham Manor and Gotham Academy. (He also mentions Batgirl among the developments he’s looking forward to in the back half of Batman’s 75th anniversary celebration.)
Conventions | An advocate for the homeless claims San Diego police are harassing homeless people to keep them away from downtown during Comic-Con International. The mayor and police chief deny the accusation and say officers are simply doing outreach, but at least one homeless man has been given a “stay away” order. Comic-Con begins Wednesday with Preview Night. [ABC 10 News]
Digital comics | Following the news that the comics market was estimated at $850 million in 2013, of which $90 million was digital, George Gene Gustines looks at a couple of different digital models, including Thrillbent’s new subscription service and Panel Syndicate, Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s name-your-own-price approach. [The New York Times]
In the six days since DC Comics announced the new Batgirl creative team of Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr, Tumblr has been inundated with fan art inspired by the new costume (designed by Stewart and Tarr) — so much so that Batgirl of Burnside, “an (un)official blog for the DC Comics series,” has been launched, serving as a clearinghouse of sorts.
Stewart, who runs the blog, admitted there’s so much art that he’s having trouble keeping up with it. Asked how he felt about the response to the design, he wrote, “I am overwhelmed and ecstatic and grateful and vindicated. I couldn’t be happier with the tidal wave of support and sincere joy that’s come our way, the (literally) hundreds of pieces of fan art that are being breathlessly drawn faster than I can look at them, the cosplayers already choosing fabrics and causing yellow Dr Martens boots to sell out online. The huge response is a clear sign that despite our detractors we’ve really tapped into something that was waiting to explode.”
Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.
This week DC Comics announced a big change in Batgirl: namely, a new creative team of writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher and artist Babs Tarr. Coming aboard with October’s Issue 35, they bring a nifty new look and setting. After three years of grim but determined storytelling from writer Gail Simone and various artists (most recently Fernando Pasarin), Barbara Gordon is heading into Gotham’s “hip border district” for graduate school, and she’s leaving all the bad times behind.
As the average price of serially published, traditional-format comics has risen sharply over the past few years, I’ve gradually turned into a trade-waiter, my pull list shrinking to such a meager size that many Wednesdays I’ll skip what was once a religiously observed weekly pilgrimage. It’s not worth a trip to the shop for one or two books, after all, so I’ll sometimes wait three weeks or so, allowing for a sizable stack to build up.
This was one such week, and I left the shop with a pretty good haul, about $45 worth of 14 comics, including a mess of DC weeklies, a pair of Marvel comics, a trio of high-quality kids titles, the latest issue of a locally produced horror series, a Batman/Green Hornet crossover and an issue of one of IDW’s many Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics.
My pull list is now so small and carefully cut that I rarely encounter a book I don’t like any aspect of (generally, when I do buy a comic I have negative feelings about, they’re generated as much by disappointment as anything else). The flip-side is that because I take relatively few chances as a consumer (as opposed to a critic; as a critic, I read pretty much anything with panels on paper that I find in front of me), I’m rarely pleasantly surprised by what I bring home.
This week, I read one comic that was so good that I was genuinely taken aback by its awesomeness; I was surprised and super-excited. I wanted to stand up and shout “Yeah!” but I was in a coffee shop at the time. I wanted to high-five the artist, but he wasn’t within arm’s reach. I wanted to scrap what I was planning to write about in this space today and champion the book instead. I wanted to take the opportunity to say, “Hey everyone! Stop what you’re doing and read this comic right now!”