Axel-In-Charge: Waid & Samnee on "Black Widow" and the Dawn of the All-New, All-Different Era
Passings | Jay Scott Pike, well known for his work as a “good girl” artist, died Sept. 13 at age 91. He started out in 1949 at Hillman Comics, and then moved on to Marvel predecessor Atlas, working on action and romance comics, including Jann of the Jungle and Lorna the Jungle Girl. In the 1960s he moved to DC Comics, where he drew mostly romance comics but also created the character Dolphin, who’s resurfaced repeatedly over of the years. Historian Mark Evanier estimates that Pike drew at least 800 comics stories between 1949 and 1973. [News From ME]
With Labor Day behind us, for most folks it’s back to work. But by the time you read this I will be out of town, well into a two-day seminar. Naturally I take comics with me for the down time, and more often than not I take a couple of thick reprint books. Picking out specific volumes got me thinking about the changing nature of DC Comics’ reprints.
Now, I’ll try not to let this descend into some nostalgic pining, and I recognize that reprint formats aren’t the most exciting things. However, while today’s comics are available in print or digitally, and are collected routinely into more durable books, I’m not sure the older material is getting as much attention as it once did. To be certain, the older material is getting older all the time, with more added to it as the years go by; and modern audiences might well be satisfied with, say, just the past 20 years’ worth of DC’s output. Still, there’s value in those older stories, even if it’s just on an academic level; and I think it’s helpful to see how DC has treated it.
Thirty years ago, after almost a year of preliminaries, and longer than that in planning, DC Comics put an end to its infinite Multiverse. It happened as the final page of Crisis on Infinite Earths #10 — which hit the direct market during the first week of September 1985 — exploded into a cosmic whiteout, deliberately echoing the “destruction” of Earths-One and -Two in Issue 4. That cataclysm included (metaphorical?) black smoke billowing into panels and then dissipating into nothingness, but here the panels themselves shattered under the fury of the final battle between the omnipotent Spectre and the power-hoarding Anti-Monitor.
Issue 10 had a heck of a cliffhanger is what I’m saying.
The end of August also marks three full months worth of DC Comics’ line-wide relaunches. Naturally, the highest-profile of these are in the Superman titles, featuring a depowered and spiritually depantsed Man of Steel; and in the Bat-books, where a buff, mohawked James Gordon is the new Dark Knight. The two main Green Lantern books are also going through status quo upheavals, as Hal Jordan has gone off the reservation with a stolen power-ring prototype, while John Stewart, Guy Gardner and a handful of their colleagues have been hurled into parts unknown. (I’d say more, but it’d spoil the latest issue of Green Lantern: Lost Army.)
While I’m not exactly getting tired of these various plots, I am starting to wonder how long they can each be sustained. That, in turn, reminded me of similarly dramatic storylines that played out over much longer periods of time. I’ll be discussing a lot of storylines today, from the Silver Age to the present, and I’m sure I haven’t listed every possible one. (Spoilers: I won’t have time to get to a “dead and revived” list.) Some of these arcs were planned with endpoints, and some reverted to “normal” thanks to external factors. However, each tested the limits of readers’ tolerance for change.
Faced with an angry Superman, every Tom, Dick and Dark Knight knows to break out the Kryptonite (it’s usually next to the bandages and antiseptic in the first-aid kit). Likewise, if cornered by Electro, most of us might make sure we’re well-grounded, and then reach for the nearest water hose. But what about those myriad other superheroes and villains?
Glad you asked! MorphSuits, which ruffled so many feathers with its breakdown of Marvel’s most badass female characters, now scrutinizes the Achilles’ heels of costumed characters, probing for a weakness that might help out in a pinch.
Just four days before what would’ve been Jack Kirby’s 98th birthday, an exhibition opens today at California State University, Northridge that celebrates the artist’s legendary career.
Titled “Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby,” the exhibit focuses largely on his later superhero and sci-fi work, from about 1965 on. “We call the show ‘Comic Book Apocalypse’ because when you’re dealing with Kirby, nothing less than the end of everything is at stake,” said curator Charles Hatfield, an English professor at CSUN and author of “Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby.”
Whether you call it “Divergence” or “DC You,” November represents the sixth month of DC Comics’ line-wide retooling. In just about three months it’ll be time to start taking stock of what worked and what didn’t, but for now we’re looking at what’s new and/or shiny.
THE 800-POUND GORILLA BOSS OF GOTHAM CITY
At the head of the line is a certain Bat-sequel. The hype surrounding Dark Knight III: The Master Race is understandable considering the shelf life of The Dark Knight Returns. It and its follow-up are two of DC’s most evergreen reprints, and DK3 will no doubt join them in the Valhalla of immortal collected editions.
As the fall premieres of DC’s various superhero television series tick closer, the updates dive deeper into comics lore. I certainly wasn’t expecting a “Flash of Two Worlds” homage (eee!) to be part of the marketing, nor did I think Matt Ryan’s John Constantine would himself cross over to Arrow. Otherwise, Arrow is teasing Oliver’s mayoral run; The Flash has cast Wally West; Supergirl promises Red Tornado and General Zod; and Legends of Tomorrow may take its tone from Justice League International.
However, for me the most intriguing news is the impending arrival of Hawkman. I’m curious about how Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Geoff Johns, et al., will try to make him appealing (or at least watchable) for the broader TV audience. I say that a bit skeptically, because Hawkman has never really done much for me.
When discussing Crisis on Infinite Earths #3, I noted the story’s “seams were starting to show.” A few months later, I thought Issue 6 was more concerned with “marketing.” Now, with Issue 9 — which appeared in comics shops 30 years ago, during the first week of August 1985 — not only has the miniseries burst its original boundaries, but the crossovers have become more pervasive.
Although the bulk of the issue involves the Villain War (as last issue’s cliffhanger language called it), it starts off by setting up crossovers with Green Lantern, New Teen Titans and Firestorm. It also features some clunky dialogue and name-checking cameos, which by now are as much a part of Crisis as the red skies were.
Still, even if Issue 9 is something of a rough-and-tumble indulgence amid the ongoing struggle to save all creation, it has its moments. Scenes of tragedy and triumph are executed fairly well, characters exit and enter the stage effectively, and the issue is propulsive enough to energize an otherwise weak cliffhanger.
Hello and welcome to Shelf Porn, the feature that takes you into the home of a fan without getting arrested. Today’s collection comes from David in San Antonio, who shares a space-faring collection that features Star Wars, Star Trek, Silver Surfer and more.
If you’d like to see your collection here, you can find instructions on how to submit it at the end of this post.
And now here’s David …
While most of the political world is following the likes of Hillary Clinton, Jeb(!) Bush and Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been making waves in a few nerd realms. First came his Simpsons impressions, and then his assertion that Captain James T. Kirk was/is/will be a Republican. Now Cruz is listing Watchmen’s Rorschach as one of his favorite superheroes.
However, Cruz isn’t the first candidate to invoke nerd culture. President Obama, himself a Star Trek fan, listed The Amazing Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian as his favorite comics growing up, and was photographed in Metropolis, Illinois, imitating its Superman statue. In return, Obama was immortalized on a Spider-Man cover, and depicted in another Superman-inspired pose by painter Alex Ross.
For that matter, the election year of 2008 featured a couple of seminal superhero films with clear political overtones. The first Iron Man showed its hero working within the military-industrial complex, and The Dark Knight inspired pundits to compare Batman’s surveillance technology to government eavesdropping.
Happy Saturday and welcome to Shelf Porn, where one fan invites us over to check out at their stuff. Today Rob shows us his office, where he keeps his action figures, statues, comics and more.
If you’d like to see your collection right here on ROBOT 6, you can find instructions at the end of this post.
And now here’s Rob!
The comics I bought this week were full of ex-Teen Titans, and I don’t even read Teen Titans. Besides the usual mimbo antics in Grayson, Donna Troy and someone who looks a lot like Aqualad showed up as antagonists in Wonder Woman and Aquaman, and Wally West was mentioned but not seen in The Flash.
And then there was Cyborg, relaunching the Titan-turned-Leaguer under the guidance of writer David F. Walker, penciler Ivan Reis and inker Joe Prado. Last year, when a Cyborg movie was announced as part of Warner Bros.’ ambitious superhero slate, I thought DC Comics might well look to the original Marv Wolfman/George Pérez New Teen Titans stories as the foundation of any upcoming solo series. Now that series is here, and Vic isn’t quite the same character he was in the 1980s. The 2011 reboot severed his ties to the Titans in favor of an origin based around the Justice League. What’s more, 12 years of animated adventures as part of Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go! have no doubt affected readers’ perceptions.
This month’s look at DC’s immediate future is going to be a little more concise than usual, because I am dealing with a summer cold which refuses to go away (and it has nothing to do with Comic-Con, to boot). If the Lord had visited a plague of mucous unto Pharaoh, it would have been something like this.
Anyway, in the wake of Comic-Con, DC has released its October solicits to remind us that all those ideas for movies and TV shows have to come from somewhere. Speaking of which, October is also the month when Flash and Arrow return to The CW, and when Supergirl debuts on CBS. Accordingly, I was expecting a little more tie-in product, but I guess that will have to wait.
The biggest news — at least in terms of reader commitment — comes once more from the Bat-office, in the form of the new six-month weekly miniseries Batman And Robin Eternal. Following up structurally, if not quite thematically, on 2014-15’s Batman Eternal, apparently it will deal with the repercussions of a case from the Dick-as-Robin days, and also it will bring back Cassandra Cain. The old case is advertised as “the most disturbing of their crimefighting career,” so yay for that. Presumably it’s “most disturbing to that point,” because by himself the Joker has probably committed a half-dozen fairly disturbing capers.
Have you ever gotten the Frozen Smile? The eyes say “I have no idea how to respond” while the mouth still thinks everything’s fine?
I got it the other day while talking to a co-worker about Teen Titans Go!. She loves it as much as her kids do, and my daughter loves it as well. I then mentioned that I haven’t had as much of a chance to see it, but I do have all the DVDs from the 2003-06 Teen Titans series. That brought things to a halt. When I mentioned the earlier show, it was evidently like saying I’d read the scripts in the original Klingon, because her face froze after that and she got out only an “Uh-huh….”
Today I’m going to talk about some of DC’s just-announced 2016 miniseries, and Raven in particular, because once again I suspect a lot of potential readers may be giving DC the ol’ frozen smile.
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