INTERVIEW: Gail Simone Guides 'Blockbuster Update' of Red Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah Thoris
Publishing | Early analysis of 2014 manga sales shows that the category has appeared to turn around, with sales increasing last year, driven by the Attack on Titan juggernaut. [ICv2]
Publishing | Black Mask Studios, which started as the publisher of Occupy Comics and now publishes a number of series in different styles and genres, launched a YouTube channel this week as an outlet for its animation and motion-comics projects. [The New York Times]
Let’s get this out of the way: The first issue of The Multiversity is one of the craziest main-line superhero comics I’ve read in a long time. It’s self-referential. It attempts to engage the reader directly. It leaps around various parallel worlds in great flurries of color, off-kilter captions, and shouty dialogue. It’s apparently also a pretty-direct sequel to Final Crisis, writer Grant Morrison’s 2008-09 big-event miniseries, which — not that it matters much — took place under a different set of cosmological rules.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the interaction between those rules and the need to reference a potentially “invalid” story. Some readers may be frustrated (not unreasonably) by such interactions, and so far The Multiversity isn’t making things easier.
Again, though, consistency across continuity reboots is beside the point. Indeed, with a giant one-eyed bat-thing intoning “WE WANT 2 MAKE YU LIKE US,” consistency itself appears to be one of The Multiversity’s main villains. Change the emphasis slightly and the plot becomes more insidious. “We want to make you like us” — i.e., happy to exist in a state of “anti-death,” an everlasting “moment of ruin.” The imagery isn’t very subtle, and commentators have already compared the Gentry’s members to DC and other big comics publishers. For that matter, Morrison and artist Cameron Stewart made the globular, monocular corporate mascot Mickey Eye the symbol for all that was wrong in the superhero world of Seaguy. (Coincidentally, that hero also had a funny-animal sidekick.)
My review could end up being in the form of a cop-out, but saying that readers get out of Multiversity what they put into it might actually be the point of the series. As a superhero comic, The Multiversity #1 is perfectly decent. Penciler Ivan Reis, inker Joe Prado, colorist Nei Ruffino and letterer Todd Klein present it in an attractive package. (The fact that Reis is the current Justice League penciler probably has its own metatextual significance, given the subject matter.) However, just as the Multiverse is a framework for various parallel realities, so The Multiversity #1 provides a framework for engaging with those realities — and that’s a little harder to quantify.
SPOILERS FOLLOW, assuming plot still matters for this sort of thing.
[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.]
Grant Morrison, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and the rest of the team behind the long-awaited Multiversity miniseries deliver some great moments in the first issue, including an homage to the satellite scene in the original Crisis on Infinite Earths #1. That first issue was rich in DC universe history, as Marv Wolfman and George Perez introduced a ragtag group of heroes and villains brought together by the Monitor from various eras and Earths to battle the Anti-Monitor’s universe-destroying forces.
Morrison and Reis do something similar here, as we return to the Monitor’s satellite and are introduced to heroes like the Savage Dragon-esque Dino-Cop and the fanboy Flash analogue Red Racer; witness the return of President Calvin Ellis, the Superman of Earth-23; and are treated to cameos by original Crisis heroes like Lady Quark and Harbinger. But my favorite was seeing the return of Captain Carrot:
Rocket Raccoon certainly wasn’t an overnight success, but the character’s soaring popularity caught some off-guard — from his big-screen appeal in Guardians of the Galaxy to his new comic series topping the sales chart last month with more than 300,000 copies. With Rocket Raccoon now a mainstream hit, we can’t help but wonder whether he could save some of the funny-animal comics from DC and Marvel’s pasts from extinction.
Although the Rocket we see in the Guardians of the Galaxy film and comic series don’t fall easily into that funny animal genre, Skottie Young’s Rocket Raccoon relishes in it.
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.
No small amount of drama accompanies the March solicitations, thanks to Gail Simone’s unexpected dismissal from Batgirl. There’s also turnover at Swamp Thing and Birds of Prey, potential clues to the end of “Death of the Family,” and the usual I-remember-this! commentary on collections.
FOLLOW THE BOUNCING BALL
The big stories are the departures of Simone from Batgirl and Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette from Swamp Thing. It seems particularly odd in Simone’s case because it leaves the fate of Batgirl’s current antagonist in the hands of a different writer. Maybe that means Simone’s original plans for him didn’t go over particularly well with DC, or maybe it’s something totally unrelated. Either way, looks like it’ll be at least another month (in January’s Issue 16, her last issue) before we learn anything significant. At any rate, Ray Fawkes writes two issues of Batgirl starting with Issue 18.
As of March, Jim Zubkavich is your new Birds of Prey writer, Andy Kubert draws the lead story in Batman #18, and Trevor McCarthy draws Batwoman #18. Also, in a move that threatens to have me try out Phantom Stranger, the very fine J.M. DeMatteis comes aboard as co-writer with Issue # (guest-drawn by the equally fine Gene Ha and Zander Cannon).
“As long as it’s not really Captain Carrot, I don’t care. If anything, I’m kinda amused by their rather lame attempt to fit an ‘edgy’ funny animal into the ‘New 52′ universe. Somehow, it reminds me of Warner Bros. Animation’s terrible LOONATICS UNLEASHED SatAM cartoon series. Where’s Ch’p, Thunderbunny, Jaxxon, Bucky O’Hare, Rocket Raccoon and Howard the Duck when we need ‘em?”
– Captain Carrot co-creator Scott Shaw, reacting to the announcement that the character will be reimagined in
DC Comics’ Threshold as “a borderline psychotic, booze swilling, whore-mongering rabbit” named Captain K’Rot
With everyone focused on who will follow Gail Simone on Batgirl and the departure of Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette from Swamp Thing, we overlooked perhaps the biggest news to arise from DC Comics’ solicitations for March: that Captain Carrot will make his New 52 debut in Threshold #3, by Keith Giffen and Tom Raney. Only now he’s re-imagined as Captain K’Rot.
Created by Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw, the anthropomorphic rabbit was introduced in 1982’s New Teen Titans #16. A series titled Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! launched months later and continued for 20 fun-tabulous issues.
Giffen confirmed to Comic Book Resources that Captain K’Rot is indeed his take on Captain Carrot. Asked whether he was a longtime fan of the original series, Giffen quipped, “There was a series?” Ever the joker. He quickly added, “Every book needs a borderline psychotic, booze swilling, whore-mongering rabbit. I mean, c’mon!”
The comics veteran teased last month in a CBR interview about Threshold that the series’ “breakaway” star would make his debut in the second issue. This will be the one fans start buying the book,” he promised.
Safe bet that Captain K’Rot will be revealed in the final page or panel of the second issue, leading to his proper introduction in Threshold #3.