REVIEW: "DC Universe: Rebirth" #1 Makes the Future of DC Comics Look Genuinely Bright
Jae Lee’s work on Superman/Batman has simultaneously been among the most unique and divisive of DC Comics’ New 52. After years working on Marvel’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, Lee’s return to superhero work has found a balance between iconic and creepy; while his style might seem tailor-made for the likes of Batman and Catwoman, his depiction of Superman has been both haunting and boyish in all the various main- and alternate-universe incarnations.
And now, DC is using those designs as the basis for a line of collectible figures.
Crime | Two people were arrested Friday in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after police say they tried to sell $9,000 worth of stolen comic books to a local retailer. Marcelo Hernandez, 24, and Stacie Niavez, 23, allegedly walked into Astro Zombies with three boxes of comics that matched the description and certification numbers of those stolen from a vehicle about two weeks earlier. The owner pretended to be getting price estimates but instead called police, who arrested Hernandez and Niavez outside the shop. Both were charged with receiving and transferring stolen property and conspiracy; Niavez was also charged with drug possession. [Albuquerque Journal]
Passings | Jon Kennedy, the former editorial cartoonist for the Arkansas Democrat and Arkansas Business, died Friday at age 96. He started work as an editorial cartoonist for the Democrat (now the Democrat-Gazette) in 1941, and served in the Army from 1943 to 1946, during which time he also drew cartoons and training materials. He went back to the Democrat and worked there until his retirement in 1988, then came out of retirement to draw cartoons for Arkansas Business from 1992 to 2005. He published one book, Look Back and Laugh, and was a member of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists; he was also named Arkansas Journalist of the Year in 1988. [Arkansas Business]
Speaking of Mondo, boutique mainstay Tom Whalen is exhibiting this week at New York Comic Con, where he’ll have for sale a selection of prints Batman ’66, the Universal Monsters series, The Incredibles, Ghostbusters and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. As if collectors need any incentive for buying the posters, Whalen is offering daily specials, which includes — on Thursday — a free Gotham Public Library card set with a purchase of $100 or more.
While I like Whalen’s design of the card, I appreciate his attention to detail even more: For instance, “S. Kyle” first checked out The Secret Lives of Cats on April 7, 1940, roughly corresponding to her first appearance in Batman #1; American Robins is borrowed by a succession of people — on the appropriate dates — ranging from D. Grayson to C. Kelly, and so on. He even includes Dewey Decimal classifications.
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.
This week DC Comics announced a big change in Batgirl: namely, a new creative team of writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher and artist Babs Tarr. Coming aboard with October’s Issue 35, they bring a nifty new look and setting. After three years of grim but determined storytelling from writer Gail Simone and various artists (most recently Fernando Pasarin), Barbara Gordon is heading into Gotham’s “hip border district” for graduate school, and she’s leaving all the bad times behind.
Comics | Tammy Oler considers the roles of Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel within a growing movement to make superhero comics more diverse: “The devoted fans in the Carol Corps and Kamala Korps view themselves as part of a movement for a bigger and more diverse comic book universe, and it seems like publishers might finally be starting to pay attention. Both Ms. Marvel and the rebooted Captain Marvel are part of Marvel NOW!, an effort by the publisher to attract new readers by providing a lot of accessible places for new readers to jump on board with ongoing series. (DC Comics has done something similar with its New 52 initiative.) Marvel and DC have also taken some steps to address their lack of superhero diversity, in part by launching some new female solo titles, including Black Widow, She-Hulk, and Elektra. Of course, there’s a whole world of mainstream and indie publishers beyond Marvel and DC, but the big two still matter the most because they create the pantheon of superheroes that make it into movie theatres and onto the racks of Halloween costumes at Target.” [Slate.com]
This is particularly timely, considering today’s television casting news: Project: Rooftop showcases Perry Maple’s whimsical redesign of Batman and his allies and enemies, from Robin to Scarecrow to Two-Face.
“The aim for this redesign was to create a colorful, simple, and playful reimagining of the Gotham city universe,” the artist explains on his deviantART page. I think he achieved that goal, too, particularly with Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, who look as if they stepped out of a fairy tale. However, I also really like is older take on Selina Kyle in a decidedly different style.
Check out close-ups of some of Maple’s redesigns below, and visit his deviantART page for more.
Comics fans searching for a visually bold yet affordable way to liven up a room may find something that suits their tastes, and their budgets, from GeekMyWall, which offers a line of striking typographic posters inspired by comics characters.
Harley Quinn, Batman, Green Lantern, Rorschach, V — they’re all represented in prints beginning at 11 inches by 17 inches or $25. Each figure is created from character-appropriate quotes. For instance, Wonder Woman is, “Of all people, you know who I am … …who the world needs me to be. I’m Wonder Woman.” And The Flash: “‘I’m getting lectured on child safety from a man who’s gone through four Robins?”
They’re also available as T-shirts. And if the comic characters aren’t for you, there are plenty of television- and movie-themed options.
It wasn’t that long ago that we showcased Paolo Rivera’s amazing Herge-inspired wedding invitation, and now we have some terrific souvenirs from the ceremony of Andie Tong.
The artist, whose work ranges from Spectacular Spider-Man (U.K.) to The Batman Strikes! to the upcoming Zodiac with Stan Lee and Stuart Moore, drew adorable “power couples” from comics and film for cards that were given to his wedding guests. Fans may quibble with Tong pairing Superman with Wonder Woman, rather than Lois Lane, but I imagine the guests were pleased with the favors.
With Tong’s permission, we’ve posted all of the illustrations below.
Stage | Dancer Daniel Curry, who was seriously injured during an Aug. 15 performance of the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, made his first appearance since the accident at a benefit concert held Monday that raised $10,000 for his medical bills. Curry was injured when his leg was pinned by an automated trap door — he blames malfunctioning equipment, producers say it was human error — resulting in fractured legs and a fractured foot; he has undergone surgeries and unspecified amputations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Actors’ Equity have launched investigations into the accident, and Curry’s lawyers are exploring a possible lawsuit against the $75 million show and the equipment suppliers.
During previews of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark — before the March 2011 firing of director Julie Taymor and the sweeping overhaul that followed — no fewer than five performers were injured, the most serious previously being aerialist Christopher Tierney, who fell about 30 feet in December 2010, breaking four ribs and fracturing three vertebrae. He returned to rehearsals four months later. There have been no major accidents since the show opened in June 2011. [The New York Times]
Clothing retailer Forever 21 has introduced Bats & Cats, a limited-edition collection men’s and women’s apparel and accessories inspired by Batman and Catwoman.
Created in partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, the line’s pieces range from sweaters and a faux-leather backpack to T-shirts and a phone case.
“We have been enthralled with the animal emergence and took to cats, epitomizing a soft femininity and bats, symbolizing our desire for nocturnal nonconformity for an updated approach to the trend,” Forever 21’s Betsy Zanjani said in a statement. “This limited-edition line will allow our customers to discover unique and contemporary merchandise with a nostalgic charm of bats, cats and the iconic super heroes of Gotham City.”
Bats & Cats is on sale now on the Forever 21 website and at select stores.
If DC Comics can do 3D covers for Villains Month and Marvel can release Deadpool variants, it seems like they could make room on their publishing slates for, oh, I don’t know, a series that depicts some of their most recognizable characters on classic album covers.
That request isn’t as random as it seems (well, maybe it is), as artist Robert Jiménez painted Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Catwoman, Doctor Strange and Lobo on LP sleeves for an art show, and they’re pretty amazing. Unfortunately, he’s already sold the originals, but he hopes to create more soon.
Check out some of the pieces below, and the rest on Jiménez’s website.
I’ve found an addition to my imaginary shelf of Awesome Retro Comics Projects That Never Were, right next to a Nick Fury and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series set in the swingin’ ’60s of the Marvel Universe (they’re cataloged by decade): Batman 1972, by Francesco Francavilla.
Better known for his more pulpish work, Francavilla proves himself equally suited for capturing the feel of an early-’70s crime movie, with his take on a Dark Knight a smokes and wears a turtleneck and leather jacket, a James Gordon sporting a handlebar mustache and a Catwoman rocking a ‘fro.
“Yes, you are witnessing the first case of BATPLOITATION,” Francavilla writes. “Hope ya dig it.”
You can see The Riddler, as well as other takes on Batman and Catwoman, on his blog. I’m hoping we get a look at teenage Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon soon.
Awards | Online voting is open through April 30 for the sixth annual Inkwell Awards, which recognize excellence in comic-book inking. The winners will be announced during a ceremony at HeroesCon, held June 7-9 in Charlotte, North Carolina. [Inkwell Awards]
Comics | On the website of the conservative Media Research Center, Kristine Marsh and Matt Philbin accuse DC Comics and Marvel of having a “homosexual agenda”: “Like the rest of American pop culture, comic books have increasingly included pro-gay propaganda pieces aimed at the children and young adults who read them.” [Media Research Center]
One of the most symbolic moments of Superman is when he changes from his guise as Clark Kent to become the Man of Steel. The idea that the wearing of a costume imbues some kind of unquantifiable power is a key part of what makes superhero comics work; otherwise, they’d just be adventurers and action heroes.
But speaking of change, changes in superhero costumes have become as much a part of the comics as the heroes themselves. From Superman’s early days with his golden emblem to the modern “S” today and on through to other years (including Batman’s countless wardrobe changes), the design of a superhero isn’t static and a redesign has proved, many times, to be just the thing to make a character work.
In this week’s “Six by 6,” I pinpoint six of the most dynamic and powerful redesigns in superhero comics. Redesigns that saved a character from obscurity, put them in a new light or simply simplified what was already there.
In late 2011, when DC Comics relaunched its entire superhero line with the New 52, some characters were completely overhauled while others saw no changes at all. But with the debut last month of Justice League of America’s Vibe, we saw writers Geoff Johns and Andrew Krisberg attempt to transform a D-list character — a comic-book punchline — into a new hero and a force to be reckoned with. The artist tapped to help make that happen was Pete Woods.
Beginning his career in the 1990s an intern at Wildstorm, Woods has quietly become a trusted artist in DC’s stable. He’s had extended runs on Robin and Catwoman, but his most celebrated work came when he partnered with writer Paul Cornell to give Lex Luthor a chance ot shine in Action Comics. Woods recently completed a run on Legion Lost, and split time doing brief stints on Aquaman as well as Marvel’s Avengers Assemble while preparing for his current assignment on Vibe. He’s an artist’s artist, constantly refining his style and innovating in his approach. But he’s also an editor’s artists, consistently meeting deadlines.
I reached out to Woods to talk about his current gig, and discovered he’s in the early days of switching up his style. After years of doing much of his work digitally, Woods decided to return to his roots and draw his pages the traditional way. The computer’s still there for the odd task, but this 17-year comics veteran is going for a fresher, more organic style by doing it all by hand.