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Grumpy Old Fan | DC’s December: happy golden days of yore

...'Miss Gordon' if you're nasty

‘Miss Gordon’ if you’re nasty

There’s a lot to like in DC Comics’ December solicitations, most of it due to the return of some old friends and the uber-nostalgic glimpses at a traditional status quo. It’s not like the New 52′s changes are being rolled back — I have no illusions about that, and I’m not sure how it would work if it did happen — but DC is always best served when it can channel the familiar aspects of its past in vibrant new forms.

THERE YOU GO AGAIN

I am starting to think Secret Six is the comic Gail Simone was born to write, even more so than Birds of Prey. There’s always been a dark undercurrent running through her DC work, from BOP to Batgirl to The Movement, but only with the Sixers could she really cut loose. Indeed, as much as I enjoyed Scandal, Bane, Deadshot and the rest, I’m eager to see what she can do with six cryptically united strangers, most of whom will probably be new to us.

Those who believe the traditional, pre-New 52 DC Universe is still out there, somewhere in the Multiverse, can reasonably hang their collective hat on the return of the Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis Blue Beetle and Booster Gold in Justice League 3000 #12. I’d go even further, and say this version of Beetle and Booster probably follows directly from the two “Super Buddies” arcs that Giffen, DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire produced in the mid-2000s. The second one, I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League, ended rather pointedly with Beetle and Max Lord sharing a happy moment. That, of course, stood in stark contrast to the Countdown to Infinite Crisis special, in which Max shot Beetle in the head, and then (a few months later) successfully dared Wonder Woman to execute him. Therefore, the Beetle and Booster of JL3K hail from an Earth where things turned out quite differently — but ironically, they’ve been awakened in a dystopian future where the Justice Leaguers are darkly twisted versions of their old selves. Not that Giffen and DeMatteis can’t find some comedy there, but I’m having trouble summoning up a bwah-hah-hah.

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Six by 6 | Six heroes who overshadowed their predecessors

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Superhero names carry a lot of weight, both in their fictional universes and our world. As we’ve seen time and again in comics, sometimes a costumed identity proves more popular than the actual character, leading to the decision to put someone else in the costume, either in an effort to boost reader interest (and, therefore, sales) or to simply take the story in a different direction.

In this week’s Six by 6, we look at six legacy, or “replacement,” heroes who ended up overshadowing their predecessors. Some, such as Green Lantern and The Flash, you may know; however, others may surprise you.

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Conversing on Comics with Cully Hamner

COC_Cully_hamner

The past decade has been good one for Cully Hamner. His creator-owned miniseries Red has served as inspiration for two hit feature films, and he’s found himself in the upper echelon of DC Comics’ talent roster as a cover and interior artist, as well as a character designer for the publisher’s New 52. Now the Alabama-born artist, who recently turned 45, is working on an undisclosed “big” project for DC that will allow him to both draw and co-write, something he’s been wanting to do for years. While he has penned stories for anthologies and one-shots, this will mark his first time writing on a larger scale.

I’ve talked with Hamner for years by email and at conventions, discussing trends in comics, his own work and our shared interest in superhero costume design. After several months of back and forth, I finally caught up with him for this conversation.

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Blue Beetle flies into battle in ‘Infinite Crisis’

blue beetle1

WB Games has added yet another champion to the roster of Infinite Crisis, Turbine’s free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena game: Jaime Reyes, the Blue Beetle.

Beginning April 30, Beta testers will be able to play as the fan-favorite character, who in the game world wandered into a dispute between warring superhuman gang and stumbled upon the object they were fighting over: a blue scarab. It, of course, bonded to Jaime, covering his body with battle armor, allowing him to flee to safety. After his escape he learned that while the armor wasn’t permanent, his bond with the scarab is. Check out the Blue Beetle trailer and screenshots below.

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Ted Kord to return to DC Universe in ‘Forever Evil’ #7

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Hot on the heels of Monday’s news that Wally West is poised to make his long-requested New 52 debut comes word that Ted Kord, the second Blue Beetle, will return to the DC Universe in April.

Ted Kord returns to the DCU in Forever Evil #7, and plays a role in Justice League post-Forever Evil,” writer Geoff Johns teased Newsarama in an interview tied to this morning’s announcement that Lex Luthor will join the team in the aftermath of the crossover.

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Conversing on Comics with Rafael Albuquerque

Rafael Albuquerque knows his way around comics. Although he’s best known for his years working on titles like Blue Beetle and American Vampire, the Brazilian artist got his start with an Egyptian company, but was quickly recruited by BOOM! Studios and DC Comics. His style is one that people quickly take notice of, for its gleaming individualism but also its sound base in composition and storytelling.

With his long-running series American Vampire (with writer Scott Snyder) going on hiatus this year, Albuquerque is ready to branch out. I talked with him just as the new year began, and he revealed several interesting morsels, including a stint writing and drawing Batman, the first official look at an American edition of his Brazilian comic Tune 8, and he teased a new project he’s doing this year at Vertigo.

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NYCC | Giffen, Raney, Kolins go cosmic in DC’s Threshold

Having worked on comics like Legion of Super-Heroes and Marvel’s Annihilation event, among many others, Keith Giffen knows cosmic stories. He’ll get to flex those star-spanning muscles once again with a new DC Comics series called Threshold.

The comic will feature two stories — the first, drawn by Tom Raney and titled “The Hunted,” will feature the Omega Men, Blue Beetle, Star Hawkins, the original Starfire, Space Ranger,Space Cabbie and a new Green Lantern named Jediah Caul. It spins out of the Giffen-written Green Lantern: New Guardians Annual #1, and Giffen said it was like “doing a science fiction version of Battle Royale and giving everyone a gun.”

“… these characters and concepts will bump up against the New Guardians characters in the annual,” Giffen told Newsarama’s Vaneta Rogers. “So it’s a New Guardians story, but it will introduce readers to this concept. And then it spins out of the annual and the last issue of Blue Beetle. We’re trying to make Threshold a success and get as many eyes on this new ongoing series as possible.”

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Grumpy Old Fan | Relaunch roundup, Part 1

After a year, I still don't quite get the knee-braces

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.

Onward!

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What Are You Reading? with Caleb Goellner

Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our guest today is Caleb Goellner, pug lover and senior editor of ComicsAlliance.

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

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What Are You Reading? with Thom Zahler

Hiya kids, it’s time for What Are You Reading?, a weekly look into what the Robot 6 crew has been reading lately. Today’s special guest is Thom Zahler, creator of the delightful superhero/romantic comedy comic Love and Capes.

To find out what Thom and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.

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Grumpy Old Fan | New 52 Week 3: I’m every woman…?

The new Blue Beetle #1

Whether by accident or design, this week was dominated by female leads (four, not including Starfire in Red Hood) and Bat-titles (four including RH; five if you count Birds Of Prey). It is tempting to say the woman-led titles ran the gamut of experiences from A to D, but thankfully it is a little more complicated than that.  As you might expect, the week produced issues of varying quality, although I found something to like about each one. Sometimes it was harder to find that one thing, though….

Naturally, SPOILERS FOLLOW.

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In theory, the DC Universe Presents anthology has a longer lease on life because its sales can’t be judged fairly on the basis of only one arc. I suppose that, given Deadman’s relationship with one of Hawk & Dove’s headliners, that book’s readers might be interested in this one. By and large, though, the audience for this title is made up either of DC stalwarts waiting for a good Obscure Character X story, or (less likely, I’d say) impulse buyers. Such an approach might have been a great way to introduce a totally new character within the context of the New 52, and piggyback that feature on the rest of the relaunch’s popularity — but I’m not surprised DC chose Deadman, fresh off Brightest Day.

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DC’s push for New 52: Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, Static Shock and more

Blue Beetle #1

As DC Comics, retailers and fans prepare for another round of New 52 titles next week, here’s a collection of the latest news and such …

• DC’s Bob Wayne told CBR’s Kiel Phegley that they planned to extend certain sales incentives to retailers through December, and this week DC released more details on what exactly that means — additional discounts for qualifying retailers on certain books, returnability on many titles and variant covers for several books, including the fourth issues of Justice League, Batman, Action Comics, Flash and Green Lantern.

• Wired’s GeekDad talks to Tony Bedard about the relaunched Blue Beetle series, which is due in shops next Wednesday. Bedard notes that the new series will be “less convoluted” than the last one in terms of Beetle’s origin, noting that this time around it isn’t tied to Infinite Crisis. He also notes Ted Kord won’t figure into the new series: “I loved the Ted Kord Blue Beetle as much as anyone. But he doesn’t figure into this new Blue Beetle series at all. My mission right now is to make 15 year-old El Paso high school student Jaime Reyes into the best character and the best Blue Beetle imaginable. And I have really good material to work with there. As anyone who read the last series or caught his appearances on Brave & The Bold will tell you, Jaime is a character teens and twenty-somethings can really latch onto. He has a terrific supporting cast and I’m building a ‘rogues gallery’ for him that will knock your socks off. None of this means that Ted Kord never existed. It’s just that before we go back and rehash the past, we are going to build a solid future for DC, and Jaime Reyes is the future.”

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Catch a glimpse of the actual Blue Beetle live-action test footage

From the Blue Beetle live-action test footage

From the Blue Beetle live-action test footage

For those itching to get a look at actual footage from the live-action effects test for a proposed Blue Beetle television series — even before it can be unveiled next month at Comic-Con International — here’s your chance: Video-effects artist Rommel Calderon has included a snippet from the sequence in his latest demo reel.

The all-too-brief clip, which looks much better than those low-quality screencaps lead you to believe, starts at the 50-second mark. You can watch the video after the break. Geoff Johns, chief creative officer of DC Entertainment, plans to screen a longer video during Comic-Con.

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Geoff Johns shares live-action Blue Beetle pictures

When Geoff Johns tweeted about a potential live-action Blue Beetle sequence, noting they had an “awesome” live-action test of the suit activating, fans of Jaime Reyes got pretty excited. Well, hold on to your scarab, because over on the Source blog, Johns posts pictures of the whole sequence. Here are a couple:

Blue Beetle

Blue Beetle

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DC working on a live-action Blue Beetle series

Blue Beetle #36

Blue Beetle #36

Amid all the talk about DC’s treatment of non-white characters, it sounds like they’re banking on a certain Latino teen superhero in a big way. Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns tweeted yesterday that the company is working on a live-action Blue Beetle series.

BLUE BEETLE NEWS from DCE!! We have a live-action test of Jaime Reyes’ scarab activating his suit. It. Is. Awesome. Blue Beetle’s going to appear in most of the Brave and the Bold’s this year and we’re hoping to develop a live-action show. Fingers crossed! If I can break it out of the vault, I’ll bring it to SDCC. LIVE ACTION BLUE BEETLE!!

All caps and double explanation points indeed.

For what it’s worth, I’ve thought for a while that the Jaime Reyes incarnation of the Blue Beetle was the legacy character with the most staying power for one reason: Instead of just being a new guy with the same basic look and power set, he’s as different from his predecessor Ted Kord as the now-legendary Silver Age Flash and Green Lantern were from their Golden Age antecedents. It’s nice to see that he’s got some legs, no?


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