"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
[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.]
Hot on the heels of the high publicized and false rumor that DC movies would be adopting a “no jokes” policy came that shining glimmer of hope, like a Big Red Cheese riding a gigantic ammunition shell through the sky. This week we got more details about the Shazam! movie, most of it serving just to whet my hunger for a major motion picture starring that most stalwart of Fawcett Comics heroes.
Will this be the much feared “grim and gritty” version that many fans had been envisioning since David Goyer and Zach Snyder took the helm of the Justice League, subsequently releasing image after image of scowling, unhappy superheroes? As the news came rolling in, it seemed more and more that it will not. First, it’s going to be produced under New Line, and not the parent Warner Bros. studio that will produce the Justice League movies. New Line president Toby Emmerich, in fact, stated in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that “It’s a DC comic, but it’s not a Justice League character” and that it “will have a sense of fun and a sense of humor.” Oh, Toby… your words are like honey to my ears.
Clearly hoping to catch lightning in a bottle following confirmation from Dwayne Johnson that he’ll play Black Adam in the Shazam movie, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and TT Games have revealed the classic supervillain/antihero will be a playable character in LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.
“Can you smell what Black Adam is cooking?” reads the message accompanying the above image from the game’s official Twitter account.
Arriving Nov. 3o, LEGO Batman 3 takes the Dark Knight, well, beyond Gotham, as he joins with other DC Comics heroes and villains in outer space to top Brainiac from destroying Earth. The game will feature more than 150 playable characters, including Black Adam and his nemesis Shazam.
Because this space is normally reserved for DC Comics and its stable of characters, you might think a post on Miracleman goes a little outside the lines. However, Miracleman was based on Captain Marvel, who is a DC character in the same way that Miracleman is now a Marvel character: the wonderful world of intellectual-property rights. That’s just one of several traits the two features share, so today I’ll be comparing and contrasting. I’ll also consider whether Marvel’s upcoming Miracleman revival could affect DC’s latest version.
Miracleman (under its original name of Marvelman, but you knew that already) started out as a way to hold onto British readers of Captain Marvel when the latter closed up shop in the mid-1950s. In that form, the series lasted until 1963. In 1982, writer Alan Moore headed up a revival that started by updating familiar elements, but ended up going off in a decidedly different direction. As reprinted, renamed, and subsequently completed in the United States, Moore’s Miracleman (from Eclipse Comics) filled 16 issues, give or take some reprints, and came out over the course of about four and a half years (cover-dated August 1985 to December 1989). Moore’s artistic collaborators included Garry Leach, Alan Davis, Chuck Austen (under the name Chuck Beckum), Rick Veitch, and John Totleben. From June 1990 to June 1993, Eclipse published eight more issues, written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by Mark Buckingham, and an anthology miniseries (Miracleman Apocrypha) came out from November 1991 to February 1992. For various reasons, though, no new Miracleman has seen the light of day for over twenty years.
That’s all about to change, starting with January’s reprints from Marvel. It remains to be seen whether today’s readers will be interested in 20- to 30-year-old stories from a writer whose popularity isn’t what it once was, and which will apparently be reprinted initially in a somewhat-pricey format. Additionally, Miracleman has turned into much more of an “Alan Moore book,” as opposed to a Captain Marvel parody. Therefore, its return doesn’t strike me as the sort of thing which will automatically generate more interest in Captain Marvel; but their similarities (and even some of their differences) can be instructive.
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When the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 invaded and seemingly conquered Earth-New 52 in Forever Evil #1, claiming to have killed the members of the Justice Leagues, the home-Earth villains took over DC comics, scrawling their names over the logos of their foes and initiating other evil acts like using decimal points in their issue numbers and putting the wrong stories in the wrong titles. (A Dial H epilogue and a Lobo one-shot in Justice League comics? A Batgirl story in a Batman comic?). But, most nefariously of all, the villains of DC Comics raised the price of each issue by a dollar and launched one of the biggest gimmick covers schemes in the modern history of direct market super-comics: heavy, plastic, 3D lenticular covers primed to be collected more so than read, and sparking insidious speculation, goosed my unpredictable shortages to many retailers. The monsters.
But while most attention has been focused on the covers, there are, in fact, stories beneath them, and so for the past three weeks we’ve been not judging the books by their covers, but by their contents. (Here’s Week One, Week Two and Week Three, if you missed ‘em.) As in the previous months, I’ve been ranking the books on their overall quality, on a scale of one to 10: Not Very Good, Somewhat Disobedient, Naughty, Morally Deficient, Without Scruples, Iniquitous, Wicked, Maleficent, Evil and Absolute Evil (although, as none received a perfect 10, you might want to adjust your reception of my ratings up by one).
Also, and perhaps more importantly, I’ve been noting how connected each is to the Forever Evil event that ostensibly led to this state of affairs at DC, so, if you’re only interested in these things for their narrative import rather than their creators or characters, you’ll know which are worth your attention. So let’s take one last wallow in the evil of (almost) every issue of this week’s Villains Month, and hope for the swift and triumphant return of our heroes starting next month.
Publishing | Sales of comic books and graphic novels to the direct market dropped sharply in August, compared to the same month in 2012 (10.39 percent and 24.55 percent, respectively), but ICv2 attributes the decline — at least as far as periodicals is concerned — to August 2012 having five Wednesdays while last month had just four. Year-to-date sales are still up over 2012, although things seem to be slowing down a bit. DC Comics shipped more comic books, but Marvel won in market share, and the top-selling graphic novel was the first volume of The Walking Dead, which points to a dearth of new graphic novel releases. [ICv2]
Conventions | Attendance exceeded 50,000 at the first Salt Lake Comic Con, held over the weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah. This article focuses on families with children who attended, and includes some interesting conversations with parents who are obviously fans themselves and take an active interest in their children’s comics reading. [Deseret News]
Warner Home Video announced today that they plan to release a DVD collecting the animated shorts that have appeared on their other DC Universe Original Animated Movie DVDs thus far. The DVD, titled DC Showcase Original Shorts Collection, will include a new short starring Superman, Shazam! and Black Adam.
The collection, which will include the Spectre short from Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Jonah Hex from Batman: Under the Red Hood and Green Arrow from the upcoming Superman/Batman: Apocalypse DVD, comes out Nov. 9.
Another preview image and the complete press release can be found after the jump.