Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
This week saw the return of Batman Incorporated, a series that was cut short when DC Comics launched the New 52 initiative but was allowed to wrap up its plotlines in the Leviathan Strikes one-shot–effectively becoming our last view into the previous DC continuity. Or was it? Batman survived the rebirth of the universe fairly intact, and now with the relaunch of Batman Incorporated by Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham and Nathan Fairbairn, we get a glimpse at some of the dangling plotlines from that series–as well as some great new moments, like the introduction of Bat Cow.
How did folks feel about the relaunch? Here’s a round-up of just a few reactions from around the web:
David Pepose, Newsarama: “While Scott Snyder might bring the grit back to the Dark Knight, Grant Morrison is all about bringing back the flash. Six months after the last installment of Batman Incorporated, Morrison and artist Chris Burnham show that they’ve still got it, bringing action, mystery and suspense to this dark, pop-infused take on Gotham City.”
Bobby Shortle, Talking Comics: “I’m going to put this out on front street, Batman Incorporated #1 is a horrible ‘first issue’ of a comic book. I’m not saying it’s a bad book, because in fact it has several fantastic moments, but as an inaugural outing it does more to confuse than to welcome in new readers. Perhaps constant readers of the franchise will decry this review because they are perfectly happy to not have to sit through an expositional recount of events they have all ready consumed, but to them I say, ‘I think you are missing the point.'”
Conventions | Organizers of the sold-out Comic-Con International will resell 5,000 one-day passes for the July 12-15 convention. No date has been announced for the online sale of the canceled or returned badges; to receive notification, and to participate, convention hopefuls must sign up for a member ID by 5:30 p.m. PT Thursday. Badges sold out the first time within an hour and 20 minutes. [U-T San Diego, Comic-Con International]
Comics | Following up on the news of the impending Northstar-Kyle wedding, Michael Cavna talks to Tom Batiuk (Funky Winkerbean), Jon Goldwater (Archie Comics) and Paige Braddock (Jane’s World) about writing about gay relationships — and dealing with their editors and syndicators. [Comic Riffs]
This past Wednesday saw the return of something I didn’t expect to see quite so soon or even ever again–the pre-reboot DC Universe. DC Comics released Batman, Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes! #1 by writer Grant Morrison, artists Cameron Stewart and Chris Burnham, and colorist Nathan Fairbairn, which collects what would have been issues #9 and #10 of the well-regarded series.
“See the last hurrah of Stephanie Brown as Batgirl, in a sinister school for suicide spy girls! Find out what caused the Batman and Robin team to split! And witness the unmasking of Leviathan in a shocking final page twist that sets up 2012’s Batman: Leviathan, the epic concluding act of a Batman story six years in the making!” Morrison said on DC’s The Source blog. While you can never say never when it comes to comics, this could be the final glimpse into the DCU of old.
So what are folks saying about the big finale? Here’s a sampling of opinions on the comic:
Chad Nevett, Comic Book Resources: “Ostensibly Batman, Incorporated issues #9 and #10, Batman, Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes! #1 ends the first ‘season’ of the title and sets the stage for next year’s return and conclusion to Grant Morrison’s tenure on the Batbooks. The wait for this comic may have been long, but with Cameron Stewart and Chris Burnham providing the art, it was well worth it. Morrison delivers both an entertaining ‘done in one’ style adventure spotlighting Stephanie Brown and an ambitious issue that pushes the story about as far as it can go before it breaks. It ends with the big reveal of who is behind Leviathan, the criminal organization that Batman has created Batman, Incorporated to fight. It’s the sort of issue that arrives just in time to remind critics that, maybe, they left Batman, Incorporated off their top ten of 2011 lists and that, obviously, was a mistake.”
Publishing | Despite the debut of DC Comics’ Flashpoint and the release of the second issue of Marvel’s Fear Itself — big summer events for both publishers — no comic sold more than 100,000 copies in the direct market in May. Fear Itself #2 led Diamond Comic Distributors’ list of Top 300 comics with an estimated 96,318 copies, a decline of some 32,000 copies from its first issue. But it’s the debut of Flashpoint in the No. 2 slot, with an estimated 86,981 copies, that ICv2 says “has to be considered disappointing.” However, the retail news and analysis website is quick to point out that several stores have indicated they sold out of their initial orders of the book, suggesting it may have been under-ordered by event-wary retailers. ICv2 also notes a 17.3 percent drop in the Top 300 comics before explaining the situation isn’t as grim as that figure may suggest. However, it cautions, the same can’t be said for the graphic novel category, which was down just 6.2 percent from May 2010 — a month in which no title sold more than 5,000 copies. John Jackson Miller has further analysis. [ICv2.com]
Creators | In a piece titled “Happy Father’s Day; Glad You’re Not Here,” Neal Kirby pays tribute to his father, the late Jack Kirby, in the process exposing some of the bitterness over the way the comics legend has been credited in recent movie adaptations: “If [you’re] unfamiliar with the comics industry, and just enjoy super-hero movies, you will notice my fathers’ name on some screen credits, usually buried at the end of the movie; sometimes, as in the recent Thor release, coming third after someone who had no hand in the characters’ creation other than being the editor-in-chief’s brother. Unfortunately, for the past several years, some in the comics industry who have had the benefit of longevity have used the opportunity to claim to be the sole creator of all of Marvels’ characters. Must be great to be the last man standing. It would seem that being backed by the public relations department of a large corporation buys access into the 24/7 news cycle.” [CO2 Comics Blog]
Welcome once again to What Are You Reading? Today our special guest is John Jackson Miller, writer of Star Wars: Knight Errant and Mass Effect comics for Dark Horse and various Star Wars prose novels. He’s also the curator of The Comics Chronicles research website. His next comics series, Star Wars: Knight Errant, Deluge, starts in August.
To see what John and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below.
The delays behind [Batman Inc.] are a combination of slowness on Grant and Yanick’s part. Yanick does all of his work on a digital pad and his art process requires a whole lot of lead time that Grant Morrison just doesn’t give him. On the Saturday morning, Grant had just e-mailed Yanick 12 pages of script for issue #5 when Yanick’s deadline for the art is in 1 week…so yeah, expect some more delays for issue 5 unless they get a fill-in artist.
—ComicBookDaily.com’s David Diep, reporting from this past weekend’s Wizard World Toronto convention, on what he learned about the future of DC’s flagship Bat-book, Batman Incorporated—presumably straight from artist and con guest Yanick Paquette himself.
A look at the solicit as posted on DC’s website shows that the book is scheduled for release on April 20. But the company still has it running with a J.H. Williams III cover that was actually used on issue #3 when it finally came out two weeks ago, likely because that issue was originally supposed to come out in January and thus had an “iconic” cover as part of that month’s line-wide cover gimmick, which was obviously no longer in effect. Issue #5 is now slated to run with the cover you see above, also by Williams…who is himself the co-writer/co-artist of the even more delay-plagued Batwoman. On the other hand, the company just signed the prodigiously talented artist Chris Burnham, who made a splash as the co-artist of the climactic Batman & Robin #16 and was already on board to draw Batman Incorporated #4, 6, and 7, to an exclusive contract. So there’s still some joy in Gotham after all.
UPDATE: In the comments below, Paquette himself steps in to clarify, saying that to the best of his knowledge DC hasn’t delayed issue #5 yet, Morrison’s been rock-steady schedule-wise recently, the Williams cover above has always been planned for this issue, and he himself is the one to blame for the schedule hiccups if blame someone we must. He also points out I coulda emailed him to ask him about this stuff, which: fair enough. (In all fairness to me, though, I never said the book was officially delayed, or that the cover above had been created for any other issue.)
I’ll tell you what else… I’m actually seeing things in [work for hire] comics now that I was doing seven or eight years ago. Not just techniques, but actual ideas. I love me some Fraction, but seeing that Tony Stark wants to “change the world” by manufacturing a car that isn’t dependent on gasoline and runs on a possibly limitless energy source that only he can provide… where have I seen that before? Grant Morrison, of all people, had the confidence and the grace to name check me in a Wired magazine interview when it comes to whatever minor contribution I’ve made to the “corporate” angle in modern comics, but he seems to be the only one. And there are other little things I see here and there that I recognize as having done myself, ten years ago. Things that are so specific, I know where they came from, I know it’s not just coincidence. Now before certain people go crazy because I dared say that… no one should read this as me being at all bitter, because I actually think it’s fine. Let ‘em all pick at the bones of the carcasses I chased down and slaughtered in the field… I’m on to the next kill. I certainly did it with the creators that I dug when I was a newbie. It’s just weird to be on the other side of it. Any creators out there who don’t think we all share the same ideaspace are deluding themselves.