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What Are You Reading? with Ron Marz

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading?, where today we welcome special guest Ron Marz. Marz has written everything from Green Lantern to Witchblade, and you can currently find him working on comics like Artifacts, Prophecy, Blackburn Burrow and The Ride: Southern Gothic. He also writes the column Shelf Life for Comic Book Resources and can be found on Twitter.

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

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Grumpy Old Fan | Tainted love

In happier times

Serialized storytelling provides superhero-comics publishers a pretty handy buffer. Anything can be judged unfairly, perhaps even after the whole story has been collected. Don’t like a preview image? Wait until the issue itself comes out. Don’t like how the story is going? Wait for it to end, so you can evaluate it in a more proper context. Don’t like how the story ended? Hey, at least you got the thrill of following it issue by issue.

There will always be a certain distance between fans and professionals, simply because the pros know where the stories are going and the fans can only make educated guesses. The previous paragraph’s view of it may be cynical, but I don’t think it’s too far off. Beyond nostalgic, blue-sky wishes for publishers to stop aiming low, and for fans to stop assuming the worst, I don’t have any easy solutions. Sometimes I just wish these sorts of observations weren’t necessary.

Having said all that, I’m not going to call the latest Superman/Wonder Woman pairing (in this week’s Justice League #12, as you might have heard) The Dumbest Thing DC’s Ever Done. I’m not sure it’s even in the Top 20. Heck, I’m not sure it’s the dumbest thing DC’s done in the past 12 months.

What I will say is that it misses the point.

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Food or Comics | 20th Century Boysenberries

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Sakuran, Volume 1

Chris Mautner

If I had $15, the third issue of Batman Inc. would be a must for me this week [after Chris turned in his picks, DC announced that the issue will be delayed until next month], especially since it features the return of Matches Malone, a character I wasn’t even aware I missed until now. I might also spring for the first issue of Axe Cop: President of the World, a new limited series featuring the hatchet-swinging lawman.

I read very little manga by Moyoco Anno, but what I have read has impressed me and what I’ve read about her has made me want to seek more of her work out. So with $30, I’d almost certainly nab Sakuran, Vol. 1, about a high-priced courtesan/geisha looking to escape her gilded cage.

If I really, really wanted to splurge, I’d plunk $125 down for the second printing of the Wally Wood EC Stories Artist Edition from IDW, of which I’ve only heard wonderful things. If my splurging had to be a little budget-friendly, and I was in a more academic mood, I’d at least flip through Cerebus: The Barbarian Messiah, a collection of critical essays on Dave Sim’s controversial opus.

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What Are You Reading? with Austin English

Hot Dog Beach

Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly rundown of what comics and other stuff we’ve been checking out recently. Today our special guest is cartoonist Austin English, creator of the graphic novel Christina and Charles and publisher of Domino Books.

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

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Food or Comics? | Popeye or popcorn

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

AvX: Vs #1

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d go all-in on AvX: Vs #1 (Marvel, $3.99). As a story format-junkie, this seems like an ideal supplemental series to the event comic series as we know it – I may have read it wrong, but this seems low on continuity and high on action – kind of a throwback to the condensed comics of the ’60s, I hope. And seeing Kathryn and Stuart Immonen on this together is a big deal – wish they’d get more chances like this! Next up would be the finale of The Twelve, #12 (Marvel, $2.99). I argued with myself about waiting for the trade at this point, but at the end of the day I’m more interested in this than a lot of everything else going on out there. Plus, I bought the eleven previous issues so I should finish it out, right? Next up would be Spaceman #6 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). I’m finding this series benefits from a deeper re-reading prior to each new issues, but it’s paying off in spades in terms of my enjoyment. This is definitely a palate cleanser after Azzarello and Risso’s run on 100 Bullets, but in a good way. Finally, I’d get Daredevil #11 (Marvel, $2.99). The Eisner Awards judges got this one right when they piled nominations on this book, because Waid, Martin, and Rivera have really made the quintessential superhero book here. The fill-ins from Khoi Pham and Marco Checchetto seem off-putting, but they’ve earned some lee-way after the murderer’s row of creators who started the book. Can’t wait to see Samnee on this, however.

If I had $30, I’d start off with an interesting looking project that’s gotten no press – Airboy: Deadeye #1 (Antarctic Press, $3.50). Chuck Dixon and Ben Dunn — what a pairing. After that I’d go back to get Supercrooks #2 (Marvel/Icon, $2.99); Mark Millar knows how to sell a high-concept, but it’s Leinil Yu that’s making me come back past the first issue. After that would be an Avengers two-fer: New Avengers #25 (Marvel, $3.99) and Secret Avengers #26 (Marvel, $3.99). I dropped off New a few issues back, but with this new issue covering some never-before-seen connections between Iron Fist and the Phoenix Force, I’m back in for this one. And Secret Avengers, well, Remender’s on a roll with his Marvel work and this is continuing on that without being an Uncanny X-Force retread. And guest artist Renato Guedes seems a better fit for this than his work on Wolverine.

If I could splurge, I’d lunge for a copy of The Art of Amanda Conner (IDW/Desperado, $29.99). I was fortunate enough to get a digital review copy of this earlier, and seeing it like that only made me want this more. Rather than just being a template art book plugging in her work, the design and packaging really go along with what you’d expect from Amanda’s tongue-in-cheek comic style. Reading this makes me want to go back and track down her earlier work that I missed.

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Best look yet at Before Watchmen pages, character designs

Ozymandias character design by Jae Lee

While fans and retailers at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo were given a first glimpse at interior art for DC Comics’ sprawling Watchmen prequels, BuzzFeed now provides the best look yet at pages and character designs from Before Watchmen in the form of photos of a binder at the DC offices. Among the images are interiors from Rorschach, by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, Silk Spectre, by Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner, Ozymandius, by Len Wein and Jae Lee, and Curse of the Crimson Corsair, by Wein and John Higgins. There are also character designs by Bermejo, Conner, Cooke, Higgins, Andy and Joe Kubert, and Lee.

Before Watchmen debuts in June.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Sex, violence, and Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman #2, by Cliff Chiang

It would be easy, and probably utterly predictable, for me to launch into an all-out rant about the origins of the New-52 Wonder Woman. In fact, because I found Kelly Thompson’s arguments fairly persuasive, that may still happen. However, I am more inclined to agree with Ragnell that the latest round of Amazonian revelations doesn’t quite square with what we’ve already been told, not just in Wonder Woman but in Justice League too. Therefore, there’s a chance that Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang are trying (with the best of intentions, naturally) to be provocative, ginning up interest in the book before the real story comes out.

Make no mistake, I understand completely Kelly’s argument that this version of Wonder Woman undercuts DC’s most venerable feminist institution. Even if the account in WW #7 is squarely contradicted, the insinuation is still pretty harmful. Either way, this is not the “old” Wonder Woman. Accordingly, this may simply be a new Wonder Woman, as different in origin as Hal Jordan was from Alan Scott; and her history may be the brutally-simple solution to the decades-old issue of “what to do with Wonder Woman.”

* * *

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Before Watchmen creators on bold moves, gut reactions & Alan Moore

Along with the official announcement of Before Watchmen, its long-rumored prequels to the seminal 1986 miniseries by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, DC Comics trotted out several of the creators involved to talk about the legacy of the original work, their approach to the new project, what they expect from initial reactions — and, of course, Moore’s objections to the undertaking.

Here’s a selection of some of the more interesting quotes:

J. Michael Straczynski, who’s working with Adam Hughes on Dr. Manhattan, and Andy and Joe Kubert on Nite Owl: “Ever since Dan DiDio was handed the reins (along with Jim Lee) over at DC, he’s been making bold, innovative moves that might have scared the hell out of anyone else. At a time in the industry when big events tend to be ‘Okay, we had Team A fight Team B last year, so this year we’re gonna have Team B fight team C!’ Dan has chosen to revitalize lines, reinvent worlds and come at Watchmen head-on. It was, I think, about two years ago that he first mentioned that he was considering the idea, and he’s to be commended for fighting to make this happen.”

Brian Azzarello, who’s collaborating with Lee Bermejo on Rorschach, and J.G. Jones on Comedian: “I think the gut reaction is going to be, ‘Why?’  But then when the actual books come out, the answer will be, ‘Oh, that’s why.’ ”

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Food or Comics? | Prophet profiteroles

Prophet #21

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15 this week, I’d avoid Marvel and DC altogether and go for some more independent offerings. Top of the pile would definitely be Prophet #21 (Image, $2.99), Brandon Graham’s much-anticipated revamp of the Rob Liefeld book from the mid-90s, recreated (with artist Simon Roy) as some kind of Heavy Metal fever dream; I’m a massive fan of Graham’s, and excited to see what he can come up with when he tries to play it (relatively) straight. I’d also grab Dynamite’s Kirby Genesis: Dragonbane #1 ($3.99), another spin-off from the Busiek/Ross/Herbert series this time focusing on the almost Thor-analog warrior, and IDW’s Memorial #2 ($3.99), continuing the urban fantasy series that I enjoyed so much last month. Lastly, I’d grab the cheap relaunch for Antony Johnston’s Wasteland (#33, Oni, $1.00); I’ve really enjoyed this post-apocalyptic world building book for awhile, but this relaunch – which will return the book to a monthly schedule as well as debut new artist Justin Greenwood – looks set to be a good jumping-on point for those who’ve never sampled its charms before.

If I had $30, I’d be likely to put Dragonbane back on the shelf and try out Marvel’s Fear Itself: Journey Into Mystery Premiere HC collection ($19.99) instead. Not having been a fan of Matt Fraction’s Thor, I skipped the first few issues of this and then, by the time I kept hearing great things and realized I actually really enjoy Kieron Gillen’s writing, it was far enough into the run that I knew I’d end up waiting for the collection. Color me cautiously optimistic.

When it comes to splurging, my love of comics from around when I was born rears its ugly head again, and I find myself drawn to Marvel Firsts: 1970s Vol. 1 TP (Marvel, $29.99). This is possibly my favorite era from the House of Ideas, so the idea of an anthology of some of its weirdest hits sounds right up my alley.

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What Are You Reading? with Comic Book Resources

Officer Downe

Hello and welcome to a special birthday bash edition of our weekly “What Are You Reading” feature. Typically the Robot 6 crew talks about what books we’ve read recently, but since it’s our anniversary, we thought we’d invite all our friends and colleagues from Comic Book Resources and Comics Should Be Good! to join in the fun.

To see what everyone has been reading, click below …

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Food or Comics? | Char-broiled Chase

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

DMZ #72

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d reverently pick up the big release of the week: the final issue of DMZ, #72 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). Wood and Burchielli have done something special here, and I easily see the series taking its place next to Preacher and Transmet as Vertigo (and mature comic) staples. Next up I’d get a dose of a new Vertigo series, Spaceman #3 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99); Azzarello and Risso definitely zigged when most thought they would zag, and in this shaking off of the long shadow of 100 Bullets they’ve created something decidedly unique and spellbinding. Next up I’d get another DC book, this time All Star Western #4 (DC, $3.99); I’ve really enjoyed Palmiotti and Gray taking Jonah Hex into the big city here and opening up the world and heroes of these tumbleweed times, and I’m excited for the new back-up featuring a literal firebrand of a female. Finally, my last book on a $15 budget would be Avengers: Children’s Crusade #8 (Marvel, $3.99); I could write a whole article on how the schedule’s affected this book, but despite all that what we’ve got is a great story. Despite all the delays, I’m apprehensive about the final issue because it’ll probably be the last we’ll see of Allan Heinberg in the Marvel U for a long time.

If I had $30, I’d thank the yuletime gods and pick up the vibrant new issue of Haunt, #20 (Image, $2.99). I don’t know what’s in the water at Image, but they’ve orchestrated a series of recent inspired and left-field revamps of their books: Casey/Fox on Haunt, the upcoming Keatinge/Campbell on Glory, Graham/Roy on Prophet. Next up I’d get Top Cow’s Artifacts #12 (Image/Top Cow, $3.99); I admit coming onto this series late, but thanks to a plush assignment I was able to tear through the past two years of Top Cow comics and found I really enjoyed their current event book. After I read and re-read that book, I’d get a double-shot of Marvel with Captain America & Bucky #625 (Marvel, $2.99) and FF #13 (Marvel, $2.99); love what the writers are doing here, but the recent choices by editors for their new artists have made both these books even more enticing for me. Juan Bobillo drawing Hickman’s scripts on FF especially gives it a creepy vibe I’d love to see more of. Speaking of art, my final pick for this final week of the year would be the artistic tour de force of Flash #4 (DC, $2.99); Manapul and Buccellato are really showing their stuff, providing story to enable Manapul to do some of the most dynamic and heart-wrenching work of his career. In the back of my mind I’m worried what happens when Manapul needs a break from drawing: much like finding an appropriate artist for J.H. Williams 3 to rotate with on Batwoman, a suitable second for The Flash will be hard to come by.

My splurge this week is the under-the-radar collection Broadcast TV: Doodles of Henry Flint (Markosia, $19.99). I’d buy an art book by Henry Flint on face value alone, but from the limited previews I’ve seen of the book online it’s something far, far more unique. These are off-hand doodles Flint’s done in his spare time over the past five years, but I’m not talking about quick sketches: “doodles” as in ornate mind-benders where Flint literally doodled his heart out. Once I get this in my merry hands, I’ll be going over it with a fine tooth comb, magnifying glass and anything else I can find.

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Wonder Woman hardcover due next May

Wonder Woman #6

DC Comics completed their list of 52 collections for the new 52 relaunch titles by announcing that a Wonder Woman hardcover, collecting issues #1-6 of the series by writer Brian Azzarello and artists Cliff Chiang and Tony Akins, will come out next May. The 144-page book will retail for $22.99.

DC announced via their January solicitations that Akins, who has previously drawn Jack of Fables, Elementals and, with Azzarello, a comic called Red Dragon from the now defunct Comico, would fill in for artist Cliff Chiang on issue #5 and #6. According to Chiang on Twitter, he’ll be back on the book with issue #7.

Food or Comics? | Vess, Wonder Woman, Mudman and more

Mudman

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Graeme McMillan

What’s that, you say? Paul Grist’s new Mudman series starts this week (#1, Image Comics, $3.50)? Well, that’s how I’m starting my $15 haul this week. While I’m at it, let’s add Avengers Origins: Luke Cage #1 (Marvel, $3.99) and Kirby Genesis: Captain Victory #1 (Dynamite, $3.99), before finishing up with the third issue of Wonder Woman (DC, $2.99) for a superheroic week that goes from the earth to the gods, with some blaxploitation and aliens thrown in the middle for flavor.

DC would dominate the other half of my budget if I had $30. I’d be grabbing the third issues of Green Lantern Corps, Justice League and Supergirl ($2.99 each, except Justice League for $3.99), but I’m surprising myself as much as anyone else by grabbing The Bionic Man #4 (Dynamite, $3.99) for my final pick – I read the first three issues in a bunch this weekend and really enjoyed the book to date much more than I’d been expecting.

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Comics A.M. | Direct market tops $40 million in October

Justice League #2

Comics | John Jackson Miller slices and dices the October numbers for the direct market, noting that overall dollar orders for comic books, trade paperbacks, and magazines topped $40 million for the first time since September 2009. Orders rose 6.9 percent over September, the first month of DC’s relaunch. “While that may sound counter-intuitive, it isn’t when you consider that all those first issues continued to have reorders selling through October,” Miller writes. “Retailers with an eye on the aftermarket may also have some sense that second issues are historically under-ordered — something which goes at least back to the experience of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #2 in the 1980s, which wound up being much more valuable than its first issue.” [The Comichron]

Passings | Tom Spurgeon reports that author Les Daniels has passed away. Daniels wrote horror fiction and nonfiction books on the comic industry, which include Comix: A History of the Comic Book in America, Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics and DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World’s Favorite Comic Book Heroes. [The Comics Reporter]

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What Are You Reading? with Nate Powell

Big Questions

Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where every week we talk about the comics, books and other stuff we’ve been reading lately.

Our special guest this week is musician and comic creator Nate Powell, who you might know from his most recent graphic novel, Any Empire, or the Ignatz and Eisner Award-winning Swallow Me Whole. When he’s not creating comics, he’s hanging out at the United Nations with the likes of R.L. Stine, Ann M. Martin and other teen-fiction writers in support of What You Wish For, a collection of young adult stories and poems. Proceeds from the book will be used to fund libraries in Darfuri refugee camps in Chad.

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

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