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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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Comics A.M. | ComiXology top iPad app for past six Wednesdays

Comics by comiXology

Digital | Comics by ComiXology has topped Apple’s charts as the top-grossing iPad application for the last six Wednesdays. ComiXology cited the launch of DC’s New 52 initiative, as well as many other comic companies moving to a same-day digital release schedule, as reasons for its success. “When have comic books, not comic book movies, not comic book merchandise, but the actual comic books been #1 in anything, much less high tech?” comiXology CEO David Steinberger said in a statement. “Being the number one grossing iPad application six Wednesdays in a row isn’t just a huge milestone for comiXology, but a huge milestone for comics as a medium … and we could not be prouder.” [press release]

Creators | An auction for the naming rights to a character in Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons’ The Secret Service raised $5,100 for St. Bartholomew’s Primary School, where Millar attended. The money will be used to pay for field trips for the school’s students. “I’m a former pupil at St. Bartholomew’s and have so many great memories of the place,” Millar said. “I know there’s not a lot of money in local government at the moment and I was sad to hear that the annual school trip for the children had been cancelled. By establishing this fund, I hope to have a pot the head-teacher can dip into every Christmas and take the entire school to a pantomime every year.” [Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser]

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Food or Comics? | Heaping helpings of Kirby, Manara, X-Men and more

Wolverine and the X-Men #1

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.

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d be a judicious comics buyer and pick the top four out of over 20 titles I’d want this week. DC/Vertigo makes it slightly easier by making the new Brian Azzarello/Eduardo Risso joint Spaceman #1 only $1. This dollar price point for first issues combined with the $9.99 price point they sometimes do for the first volume of comic trade paperbacks surely gets a lot of traction. Next up I’d get Jason Aaron’s new era of the X-Men in Wolverine & X-Men #1 (Marvel, $3.99) with Chris Bachalo. I’d also get my regular pulls of DMZ #70 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) and The Walking Dead #90 (Image, $2.99) and last–but first in my stack to read-–would be Secret Avengers #18 (Marvel, $3.99). I hear some Ellis guy is writing it, but the big draw for me is artist David Aja. His Iron Fist run is one of my top favs in comics in the past ten years, and he’s a titan in my book.

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Food or Comics? | Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Batman in a tub

Batman #2

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.

Michael May

If I had $15, I’d mostly grab the second issues of some DC stuff I enjoyed last month: Batman ($2.99), Birds of Prey ($2.99), and especially Wonder Woman ($2.99). No Justice League for me though. Unlike Action Comics, I didn’t enjoy the first issue enough that I can rationalize paying $4 for it. Instead, I’ll grab Avengers 1959 #2 ($2.99) and Red 5′s Bonnie Lass #2 ($2.95), both of which had strong first issues.

If I had $30, I’d have to put back Bonnie Lass and wait for the collection in order to afford Jonathan Case’s atomic-sea-monster-love-story Dear Creature ($15.99).

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The numbers are bad, Wonder Woman! The numbers are bad!

From Wonder Woman #2, by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang

It’s perhaps a little fitting that Wonder Woman’s first post-relaunch visit to Themyscira, a magical, hidden island that can teleport to any location or time, should have echoes of Lost. In the preview of this week’s Wonder Woman #2, from the Maxim magazine website of all places, we get our first exposure to the (re-) rebranded Paradise Island, complete with unnerving, and downright threatening, whispers, and Others Amazons emerging from the shadows of the jungle.

Also worth noting: Queen Hippolyta is blonde again, for the firs time since, when, the 1987 relaunch? Wonder Woman #2, by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, goes on sale Wednesday.

Wonder Woman gets a fill-in artist in January (Plus, DC covers!)

Wonder Woman #5, by Cliff Chiang

DC Comics has begun parceling out its January solicitations ahead of the full release this afternoon, revealing Tony Akins as the first fill-in artist for Wonder Woman. As noted last week, Cliff Chiang will still provide the cover for Issue 5, which finds Diana back home in London dealing with “two of the most powerful deities of the pantheon.”

Chiang and Wonder Woman writer Brian Azzarello had one of the most acclaimed debuts in DC’s New 52.

Beyond that, the creative teams in the Justice League, Superman and Batman groups, the only solicitations released so far, appear stable in the fifth month of DC’s relaunch. The covers range from dazzling — Wonder Woman by Chiang, Batwoman by J.H. Williams III and Batgirl by Adam Hughes are particularly noteworthy –  to confounding. Starfire appears to be bleeding from her hair on Red Hood and the Outlaws (damned cheap Tamaranian dye jobs), while the covers of Detective Comics and Superman employ some oddly executed split images.

And then there’s the enormous demonic creature gnawing on Nightwing …

Check out some of the highlights, and lowlights, below, and visit Comic Book Resources at 2 p.m. PT to see DC’s full solicitations for January.

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NYCC | DC Comics reveals Wonder Woman’s father is …

New York Comic Con may not kick off for another couple of days, but DC Comics is already parceling out some of its big announcements. On Sunday, there was news that Andy Kubert will join Grant Morrison for two issues of Action Comics, and now comes word that another major change is in store for Wonder Woman.

The New York Post reports that after nearly 70 years, the Amazing Amazon will receive … a father. Warning: Spoilers!

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DC’s push for the New 52: Batman, Wonder Woman and mental health

From Batman #1, by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

With another wave of debuts for DC Comics’ New 52 — including Batman, Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Legion of Super-Heroes — comes another round of previews, interviews and assorted articles. Here are some of the highlights.

• Vulture previews the highly anticipated debut of Batman, by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, and chats briefly with the writer about the appeal of the Caped Crusader: “What appeals to me, no matter who’s in the cowl, is how Gotham City challenges them. Gotham is almost a nightmare generator, filled with villains that seem to represent an extension of Batman’s greatest fears. A lot of his greatest villains feel like mirrors: the Joker is who Batman would be if he broke his rule and fell into madness; Two Face is a mockery of the duality of his life. But what I love about Bruce in particular, and the reason I’m so excited to be doing Batman, is he’s a superhero that has no powers. He takes it upon himself to go out every night, punish himself, and be the best out there. To me, that is both incredibly heroic and exciting, but also really pathological and obsessive.”

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Wonder Woman wields a bloody labrys in Cliff Chiang’s promo art

Wonder Woman promotional art by Cliff Chiang

A lovely new piece of art popped up last night on Tumblr for Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s upcoming run on Wonder Woman. New to us, in any case, as Chiang writes that it’s actually “an early promo image we cooked up to visualize our take on Wonder Woman. The original version has pants!”

Wonder Woman #1, by Azzarello and Chiang, arrives Sept. 21.

Relaunched Wonder Woman is ‘a horror book,’ Brian Azzarello says

From Wonder Woman #1

If you’ve been worrying about what direction DC Comics’ beleaguered Wonder Woman title might take with the September relaunch, writer Brian Azzarello offers reassurance that likely will either leave you screeching with joy, or clutching your heart.

“People need to relax, she’s not wearing pants,” he tells the Coventry Telegraph. “But it’s not going to be a superhero book. I can guarantee you that, it’s not a superhero book. It’s a horror book.”

That, of course, puts into perspective the solicitation text for the first three issues of the series, by Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang, which has been sprinkled with … well, let’s call it foreboding. Plus, there’s the cover for November’s Issue 3.

However, if the idea of Wonder Woman as horror doesn’t exactly instill you with confidence — I’m intrigued by the possibility — there’s the insistence by Azzarello that this is a “soft reboot,” meaning he and Chiang aren’t jettisoning the character’s history. But more importantly, there’s his assertion that DC’s “Trinity” concept hasn’t really worked — “There’s Superman and there’s Batman and there’s everybody else” — but that it can.

“The first issue’s all done and we’re running right up to the edge, as far as what we can get away with,” Azzarello tells the newspaper. “We’re pushing the envelope with this one. I firmly believe that that’s what this character needs right now.”

Wonder Woman #1 arrives in stores on Sept. 21.

SDCC ’11 | Second ‘Comics-On Tees’ features Azzarello, Risso, Bermejo, more

T-shirt website Threadless has released another round of “Comics-On Tees,” this time featuring the artwork of Eduardo Risso, Lee Bermejo, Matheus Lopes and Dave Johnson. The four shirts tell a story that was written by Brian Azzarello, called “Sorry Babe…”

You can find all four shirts on the Threadless site.

First look at art from relaunched Aquaman and Wonder Woman

Cosmic Book News continues to parcel out scans from the DC Comics: The New 52 preview, offering a look at a page from Aquaman #1 by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Joe Prado, as well as penciled art from Wonder Woman #1, by Cliff Chiang and Brian Azzarello (see the full pages at Cosmic Book News). It’s worth noting that the latter provides further confirmation that the star-spangled shorts are indeed returning.

Check out the Aquaman art after the break. DC Comics: The New 52 preview will be available later today at Comic-Con International in San Diego and in comic stores nationwide. Wonder Woman #1 goes on sale Sept. 21, followed a week later by Aquaman #1.

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Is this the triumphant return of Wonder Woman’s star-spangled shorts?

Two versions of Cliff Chiang's cover for "Wonder Woman" #1: left, the updated version; and right, the orginal

Despite her depictions on promotional materials and the covers for the debut issues of Justice League and her own title, it appears as if Wonder Woman will once again don star-spangled shorts come DC Comics’ September relaunch.

The evidence emerged this morning with the announcement of the DC Comics: The New 52 preview book that will be released next Wednesday in comic shops and at Comic-Con International in San Diego. In the upper left-hand corner of the cover is a slightly modified version of Cliff Chiang’s art for Wonder Woman #1, with the Amazon Princess now sporting shorts for the first time in more than a year — when Jim Lee’s divisive costume redesign was introduced as part of J. Michael Straczynski’s short-lived new direction for the character.

Wonder Woman #1, by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, will be released on Sept. 21.

What Are You Reading? with Kelson Vibber

Elric: The Balance Lost

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is Kelson Vibber, Flash fan and proprietor of the Speed Force blog. To see what Kelson and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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