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Grumpy Old Fan | DC’s July looks toward the horizon

Whosoever holds this hammer...

Whosoever holds this hammer…

For a while it felt as if DC Comics was just going to talk about all its July books without ever soliciting them. News of Grayson and Robin Rising and relaunches of Suicide Squad and Teen Titans trickled out of the DC offices before the dam finally burst on Tuesday afternoon. (That’s why this week’s planned look at the “pilot episode” of Batman Eternal will have to wait.)

In fact, these solicitations are a little overstuffed, with a list of DC’s special September issues that lets us compare and contrast. Note too that while the September issues take place in The Future, they’re only two months removed from their July predecessors — so a good bit of current storylines may well be put on hold.

BECAUSE YOU LOVE THE NUMBERS

Here are the numbers. For the superhero line, DC is soliciting 42 regular ongoing series in July, plus the penultimate issue of Superman Unchained and an extra issue of Justice League. (It’s also putting out five annuals, five issues each of Batman Eternal and Futures End, a Harley Quinn special and the Robin Rising special, for a grand total of 61 single issues.) For September, there are 40 special Futures End tie-in issues, with 3-D covers like those on last year’s “Villains Month” comics. Basically, all the regular ongoing series except All Star Western, Justice League 3000 and Secret Origins get a Futures End issue in September. That doesn’t necessarily mean those three series are canceled, as none of them is part of Futures End’s “five years later” premise. September also includes a Booster Gold: Futures End issue, which one might reasonably think is a good indication of a new series for Booster — but I guess we’ll have to wait and see to be sure. Thus, July’s 42 ongoings, minus the three non-participating series, plus the Booster Gold issue, equal September’s 40 issues.

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‘Absolute Batman Incorporated’ to feature new Chris Burnham art

batman incorporated13Chris Burnham confirms he has redrawn the fill-in pages from the end of his run on Batman Incorporated for DC Comics’ upcoming Absolute edition of the Grant Morrison series.

“They’re all done, too!” he emphasized this morning on Twitter. “So I’m not redrawing them, I have redrawn them!”

Batman fan site Gotham Spoilers, which posed the question to Burnham, notes the fill-in art was “unfortunate, because this was one of those stories, that you really just couldn’t slap any artist on, as is the case with most Morrison penned stories.”

Burnham mentioned the undertaking in July, following the conclusion of Batman Incorporated, telling Batman-News, “I’m gonna redraw all of the fill-in pages for the last five issues! You know how the little fill-in pages kinda snuck in? So I’m pretty sure I”m gonna redraw those pages for the big deluxe hardcover.”

That deluxe hardcover, which clocks in at 608 pages, collects Batman Incorporated Vol. 1 #1-8, Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes, Batman  Incorporated Vol. 2 #1-13 and Batman Incorporated Special #1. It arrives Dec. 2.

Grumpy Old Fan | Checking up on Earth-August

Now I want to see the New 52 Congorilla

Now I want to see the New 52 Congorilla

Although the five-years-later setup of Futures End won’t be here until May, it got me thinking about a not-so-new New 52. The current comics take place some five years after Superman and company debuted — plus, apparently, a year for the face-free Joker to recuperate — so if you add five more years, it’s like double the amount of history! Well, double the amount of history that “matters,” I guess.

As I have been pretty critical of the present timeline, I’ll be curious to see how Futures End treats those additional five years. I suspect that, for the most part, they’ll be five years of “filler,” in the sense that mostly bad, Futures End-specific things happened during that time to bring DC-Earth to whatever sorry state we see in FE #1. I’ve heard that when all the New 52 books jump ahead five years (in September, naturally), they’ll reflect where their creative teams would like to take the characters in five years — but those will only be single issues, as opposed to the year-long weekly installments of Futures End. Besides, my bitter, resentful impulses remind me that it might well have been simpler just to start off with a 10-year timeline that would only have tweaked the old pre-relaunch status quo, not thrown out huge chunks of it.

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Quote of the Day | Burnham on playing left brain to Morrison’s right

nameless teaser“I think why we make good comics together is that he – if you believe in the right-brain/left-brain sort of thing – seems to be a really out-there, weirdo right-brain guy, and I’m very literal-minded and I believe in strict storytelling rules. I never break the 180 rule in my storytelling. I have a very literal perspective. I’ve got all sorts of instructions that I live by to tell a coherent story. And a lot of people’s problems with Grant Morrison comics is that they can get a little too confusing for them. I think that my very literal, very disciplined storytelling style can help to sell his crazy flights of fancy and make it a little more coherent – and I don’t really agree with most of the people who say it’s too confusing to follow, but I guess I can see where they’re coming from. I think it helps get the story over if it’s very clear exactly what’s happening. And then the stuff that’s happening is weird enough where you can still have that sense of unease.”

– artist Chris Burnham, on the appeal of collaborating with Grant Morrison, first on Batman Incorporated and next on their creator-owned horror comic Nameless

Comics A.M. | Author’s crusade to get Bill Finger credit

Bill Finger, by Ty Templeton

Bill Finger, by Ty Templeton

Creators | Author Marc Tyler Nobleman tells Michael Cavna about his crusade to gain recognition for Bill Finger as one of the co-creators of Batman — including a push to have Google honor him with a Google Doodle on his birthday: “As it currently stands, even the mighty Christopher Nolan could not legally credit Bill as co-creator. However, prior to The Dark Knight, I asked DC if they could use non-subjective language to acknowledge Bill. I proposed: ‘Batman was first called “the Dark Knight” in Batman #1, in 1940, in a story written by Bill Finger.’ DC publications already regularly credit Bill for that story, and the movie’s title doesn’t even include the word ‘Batman’ — it is wholly a phrase coined by Bill Finger. Alas, they said no.” [Comic Riffs]

Passings | Tulsa, Oklahoma, cartoonist Larry Pendleton, who created the syndicated single-panel cartoon Graphic Nature, has died at the age of 59. [Tulsa World]

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Bidding farewell to Grantman Inc.

batman-inc-special-cropped

When DC Comics published the final issue of Geoff Johns’ eight-year, 150-ish issue run on the Green Lantern character in May, it came in a massive package: An 80-page, $7.99 comic book with a spine, its 66-page story by Johns and his many artistic collaborators complemented by eight pages or so of “Congratulations, Geoff Johns!” from his bosses, his colleagues, his collaborators, his admirers, his family members, a few celebrities and a few “celebrities.”

When DC published the final issue of Grant Morrison’s seven-year run on the Batman character this July, it was simply a regular, $2.99, 24-page issue of Batman Incorporated, the second ongoing monthly created specifically for Morrison to tell his Batman story.

The actual celebration and send-off of Morrison’s tenure on the character— or at least the last few years of it – came out this week, and, in a move that seems appropriately off-beat, Morrison himself had next to nothing to do with Batman Incorporated Special #1, a series of short stories featuring Morrison creations and resurrections of long-retired characters by various creators, only one of whom actually worked with the writer during any of those seven years’ worth of comics.
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Cheat Sheet | From ‘American Vampire Anthology’ to ‘Itty Bitty Hellboy’

aug26-cheet-sheet

Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. If ROBOT 6′s contributors are anything, they’re varied in their tastes, as their picks of the week will undoubtedly demonstrate. There’s crime, horror, superhero adventure; there’s something for all-ages readers, and josei manga. Heck, there’s science! Well, Science.

To see what we’re talking about, just read on.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Grant Morrison divests himself of Batman

Well, it depends on your definition of "Batman," "Robin," and/or "die"...

Well, it depends on your definition of “Batman,” “Robin,” and/or “die”…

Remember when Batman was a jerk?

Remember when Batman was such a jerk that no less than Mark Waid called him “broken”?

Starting in 2006, writer Grant Morrison aimed to help fix him; and this week, with Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #13, Morrison concluded his Bat-saga. The issue is a neat encapsulation of the themes Morrison has played with for the past seven-plus years — including the portability (and immortality) of “Batman,” the uniqueness of Bruce Wayne, and the importance of not going alone — all drawn with verve and giddy energy by Chris Burnham. (There’s even a dialogue sequence where the punchline is “Cancelled!”) Like the infinite-Batman cover or the eternal-circle image that dominates an early spread, Batman will go on, but it is the end of a unique era.

As usual, though, some history first …

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Cheat Sheet | From ‘Animal Man’ to Boston Comic Con to Capote

july29-header

Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. This weekend, we turn our attention to Boston Comic Con, which bounces back after being postponed in April amid the search for the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.

However, Saturday is still five days away, so first the ROBOT 6 contributors take a look at what’s arriving in stores on Wednesday, and make their choices for the best bets. Keep reading for the first issue of Captain Midnight, the final issue of It Girl and the Atomics, and more …

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Grumpy Old Fan | Canceling the future: DC’s August solicits

See, he dials L-E-G-I-O-N, and it transports him to the 31st Century...

See, he dials L-E-G-I-O-N, and it transports him to the 31st Century…

DC Comics’ August solicitations include both the end of “Trinity War” and of four series, including the latest Legion of Super-Heroes title. Otherwise, not much jumps out at me. Even the collected-edition section isn’t that diverse, as it’s heavy on “Death of the Family” books and pretty light on the vintage reprints.

NOT QUITE DEAD

If Talon weren’t a Bat-title, I’d say it was getting ready to be canceled. Issue 11′s solicitation refers to an “epic finale,” with Batman pitching in to help “eliminate the Court of Owls once and for all.” However, because so much work went into making the Court of Owls a credible threat to the Bat-clan, I doubt they’ll be eradicated completely. Likewise, I don’t think Talon is going anywhere, at least not yet.

Similarly, the continued existence of Batman Incorporated is one of the questions posed by the sure-to-be-epic conclusion of Grant Morrison’s Bat-work. In other words, is a revamped Club of Heroes so wrapped up with Morrison that it can’t survive without him? More to the point, is a Morrison-less Batman Inc. still marketable? Presumably the answer rests in the sales numbers for August’s Batman Incorporated Special — which, incidentally, appears to indicate just who among the various Inc.’ers survives the end of the regular series. I guess DC isn’t worried about spoiling such things, because it’s done something similar with the last couple months of Lantern Corps solicits.

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DC sends off ‘Batman Incorporated’ with one-shot special [Updated]

batman-inc-special-cropped

Although Grant Morrison is drawing down the curtain on Batman Incorporated with July’s Issue 13, DC Comics will give the series a final hoorah in August with a special one-shot anthology.

Ahead of the release of August’s solicitations, the publisher has announced Batman Incorporated Special #1, featuring stories about Man-of-Bats, Red Raven, Jiro, Knight, El Gaucho and other characters by the likes of Chris Burnham, Ethan Van Sciver, Dan DiDio and Joe Keatinge.

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What Are You Reading? with Chris Sims

Wolverine_and_the_X-Men_tease

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at all the comics and other stuff we’ve been checking out lately. Today our special guest is Chris Sims, senior writer for ComicsAlliance, blogger at Chris’s Invincible Super Blog and writer of comics like Dracula the Unconquered and Awesome Hospital.

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

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‘Batman Incorporated’ ends in July, with Morrison variant cover

batman-incorporated13-cropp

“Batman Incorporated” #13, by Chris Burnham

Rather than continue Batman Incorporated following Grant Morrison’s announced departure, DC Comics will end the series with July’s Issue 13.

The news, revealed in IGN.com’s preview of the Batman solicitations, comes as little surprise, as the title was a vehicle for Morrison and artist Chris Burnham to tell the story of Bruce Wayne’s global team of heroes the writer began in 2010. The first arc volume ended in December 2011, following DC’s New 52 relaunch, with the second volume debuting in May 2012.

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What Are You Reading? with Brendan Tobin and Pedro Delgado

AllStarWestern-tease

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at all the comics and other stuff we’ve been reading lately. Our special guests today are Brendan Tobin and Pedro Delgado, who run the March MODOK Madness site. And with this being March, the madness is in full swing, so head over there to check out a lot of fun art featuring everyone’s favorite big-headed villain.

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

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By the Numbers | Round Robin … of Death!

joker-death

Today, ROBOT 6 introduces its new weekly feature “By the Numbers,” which takes a look back at the events of the past five days … in numbers. The biggest, or at least most-discussed, story of the week was undoubtedly Grant Morrison’s decision to kill off Damian Wayne in Batman Incorporated #8, a little something to remember the writer by as he wraps up his six-year run on the Dark Knight.

That development, naturally, stirred memories of 1988, when DC Comics bumped off a far less-popular Robin in an even more controversial manner: by having the readers decide whether Jason Todd lived or died … by calling a 1-900 phone number. The Joker may have wielded the crowbar, but Batman fans handed down the death sentence.

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