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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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Sam Humphries on the secret life of Sacrifice

by Cliff Chiang

2011 was a great year for writer Sam Humphries; he and artist Steven Saunders self-published and self-distributed a successful one-shot called Our Love Is Real, which sold out several times and eventually was picked up by Image Comics. From there, he teamed up with artist Dalton Rose for a six-issue, self-published and self-distributed series called Sacrifice. The first issue came out last month and told the story of Hector, a time traveler/Joy Division fan who finds himself in the middle of the Aztec empire. The comic includes not only references to Aztec culture, but also pop music and the culinary delights of Rancho Peñasquitos.

Humphries has guest-blogged with us several times in the past, so when it was time to send out invitations to the big Robot 6 birthday bash, I put him at the top of the list. He brought gifts, too, in the form of a rundown of the various references included in the first issue of Sacrifice, a look at the Jade Edition cover variant of issue #2 by Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang and critical information on the healing powers of tacos. You can pre-order a physical copy of the second issue through TFAW.com, or you can find it at several comic shops. The first issue can be downloaded now via Graphicly or comiXology.

Now let’s hear from Sam …

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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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Grumpy Old Fan | Already? DC Solicits for January 2012

"I throw him a growl I've brought all the way from Africa"

I was going to open with some snotty Wow, the holidays went by super-quickly! comment, but then I read the first issue of Justice League in seven weeks. Sometimes DC gets ahead of itself; sometimes it’s a little behind.  Happens to the best of us — sometimes you do two solicitation roundups in three weeks….

Anyway, with the January solicitations, the New-52 books each turn five issues old. Series wrapping up their first arcs this month include Blackhawks, Batwoman, Animal Man, and the Deadman feature in DC Universe Presents.  (Not to worry about the latter, because there is a lot of Deadman in these solicits.)  I’m not sure why five issues is such a wonky number for story arcs — there are five-issue miniseries all the time and they collect just fine. Still, I expected most of the New-52 books to take six issues for their introductory stories, and most of them may yet do that. Only a few books look to finish their first arcs after December’s issue #4s (Hawkman and Frankenstein, probably OMAC, maybe Batgirl), and those plus this month’s are barely an eighth of the relaunched line. It makes next month’s solicits more intriguing, I suppose.

Regardless, we live in the now (as it were…) so — onward to January!
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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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Chiang, Crabapple, Cavallaro support Shirts For A Cure at NYCC

Shirts For A Cure, a project started by the Syrentha J. Savio Endowment to raise money in their efforts to provide financial assistance to underprivileged women who cannot afford breast cancer medicine and therapy, sells exclusive shirts for various bands and musical artists on their site. And they’ll be at the New York Comic Con this weekend selling shirts created by artists like Mike Cavallaro (his design is shown above), Molly Crabapple and Brian Ewing.

In addition, Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang will hold a signing at their booth Friday at 4 p.m., where you can get one of the last 50 of his limited edition Wonder Woman print.

And even if you can’t attend the con, go check out their site … they’ve got some cool shirts for a great cause.

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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New, improved Wonder Woman could’ve been newer, more improved

Yesterday DC Comics released the first issue of its new Wonder Woman series, part of a reboot/relaunch of its entire superhero publishing line.

I like Wonder Woman. She’s one of the relatively few superheroes I genuinely root for. Not in a “I hope she defeats this villain” or “I hope she doesn’t get killed during the course of this dangerous adventure” sort of way, of course, because she is a superhero, and therefore always concludes her adventures safely and successfully.

Rather, I root for the character in the real world, in a “I hope this comic book of hers turns out good” or “I hope this is the take on Wonder Woman that catches on, and proves to folks that she’s just as good a character as Superman and Batman, her caretakers have just lost their way over the years.”

That’s why I get really excited when I see something like Ben Caldwell‘s too-crowded and laid-out but otherwise pitch-perfect Wednesday Comics strip, or proposals for YA and manga-influenced Wonder Woman comics from the likes of Caldwell and Tintin Pantojo or, hell, even just a really nice Wonder Woman drawing or character design in an unofficial venue (that is, one that’s not paid for and published by DC).

Personally, the release of Wonder Woman #1 was the comic of “The New 52″ I was therefore most excited about.

As an observer of DC, I don’t think it’s the most important offering, which would probably have been Justice League, as DC’s flagship title and declaration of intent written and drawn by two-thirds of the folks responsible for the relaunch/reboot. And/or perhaps Action Comics and Detective Comics, as DC’s two foundational books given historical renumberings as a sign of how serious the company is about starting over. And/or, from a fan perspective, even Batgirl, as a barometer of how the company would deal with continuity, which, in Barbara Gordon’s case, was an anyway-you-look-at-it positive, rather than baggage (And baggage is how continuity is usually perceived, although I’d argue that perception really reflects an accumulation of bad stories, not the longevity of a narrative in general).

But Wonder Woman is a comic and concept badly in need a ground-up reinvention of the sort several characters seem to be getting (like Green Arrow, for example), as evidenced by the fits and starts of the title over the last few years, and DC’s noticeable confusion of what to do with her.

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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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DC editor Chris Conroy takes to Twitter with art, news and more

Demon Knights #4

DC editor Chris Conroy took over DC’s Twitter feed today, and he’s been sharing concept art, pages and tidbits about some of his books all day. Conroy edits Superboy, Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, Legion of Super-Heroes and Demon Knights, and here are a few of the tidbits he’s shared:

–Mike Choi will draw Demon Knights #4 (that’s his cover at the top of the post).
–Walt Simonson will draw Legion of Super-Heroes #5.
–The red-head in Superboy #1 is who most people seem to think it is.
–Cliff Chiang’s original artwork from Wonder Woman will be on display at Bergen Street Comics in Brooklyn beginning Sept. 24.
–Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder have “big plans” for when Animal Man and Swamp Thing meet up.

And after the jump you’ll find a whole bunch of art, which I’ll update if he posts more.

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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.


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