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Stanford biologist explores science of Captain America, Hulk

stanford-hulk

As much as I enjoyed my well-worn copies of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, the often-strained pseudoscientific explanations for superhuman abilities sure could sap the fun of out comics. For instance, the Hulk wasn’t simply (!) a gamma-irradiated man who turned big, green and strong when he got angry — if I remember correctly, his additional mass came from another dimension. In an amusing contrast, the “Powers & Abilities” section of a Handbook entry could go on for paragraphs, even pages, while in Who’s Who in the DC Universe, it might only rate a sentence or two.

Stanford researcher Sebastian Alvarado manages to find a nice middle ground in a pair of videos exploring the science behind Captain America and the Incredible Hulk. There’s no mention of other dimensions or unstable molecules here, but there are some big, and impressive-sounding words — such us epigenetic modification, which Alvarado theorizes might be behind Bruce Banner’s transformations.

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‘Action Comics’ #1 rockets to $1.6 million in first day of bidding

action1

Just one day into the eBay auction, bidding has already surpassed $1.6 million for the finest known copy of 1938′s Action Comics #1, featuring the first appearance of Superman.

It’s just one of two copies to receive a 9.0 rating from the Certified Guaranty Company. The other, previously owned by actor Nicolas Cage, sold at auction in 2011 for a record $2.16 million. However, the Cage issue had “cream to off-white pages,” while this copy is considered to be in pristine edition.

An opening bid of $1 million was submitted Thursday within four minutes of the auction’s opening. Although the comic’s owner, retailer Darren Adams of Pristine Comics in Federal Way, Washington, had said more than 75 people had applied to bid in the restricted sale, it appears as if just five have participated so far.

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Grumpy Old Fan | The legacies of ‘Earth 2′

Compare and contrast

Compare and contrast

Last week I wrote about Earth 2 in the context of its Supermen. The most recent issue, Earth 2 #26, brought some closure to the Apokolips-invasion plot and subplots, and this week’s Worlds’ Finest #26 does much the same for its displaced heroines. The September issues of both series will jump forward five years to tie into Futures End, and October brings the Earth 2: World’s End weekly miniseries.

Therefore, as these were the last couple of issues before everything will no doubt start to change, I want to talk this week about Earth-2′s unique place in the New 52′s multiverse, and what it might say about DC’s approach to legacy characters.

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Auction starts today for finest known copy of ‘Action Comics’ #1

action1For serious collectors with seriously deep pockets, this is a momentous day: It’s the beginning of the 10-day eBay auction of the holy grail of comic books — the finest known copy of Action Comics #1.

“I’ve been in business 28 years and you chase a lot of leads hoping to find something like this,” retailer Darren Adams, who owns the CGC-graded 9.0 copy, tells Seattle’s KCPQ TV. “This is the needle in the haystack, because most books are not preserved with such quality.”

The owner of Pristine Comics in Federal Way, Washington, Adams acquired the comic several years ago in a private sale, and stored it in a temperature-controlled vault. He tells the Federal Way Mirror the original owner bought the comic (for 10 cents) from a newsstand in 1938, and then stored it in a cedar box for about four decades until a local dealer in West Virginia purchased it in an estate sale. The issue then passed to a third person, who held onto it for 30 years.

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Antiheroes get their own beer brands in ‘Super Drunk Hangout’

butcher-beer1

Known on ROBOT 6 for his superhero/pop culture mashups, Brazilian artist Butcher Billy has added a little alcohol to the mix with his latest project, The Comic Book Super Drunk Hangout, in which he envisions beer brands featuring comic-book heroes, or antiheroes, who enjoy a good brew.

This collection of design concepts gather a distinctive line of heroes, antiheroes — or not heroes at all — that have in common a certain way of not being exactly the role model for your kids,” he explains. “Yet they’re in the pages of comics in your local book shop. These characters are the ones that enjoy a pint or two at the local pub before saving the world or — very often — making an even bigger mess. Like it or not, they are the interesting ones, not to mention the most fun.”

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Remembering Robin Williams, comic book fan

robin-williams-comics

Reading and watching some of the countless tributes to Robin Williams, who passed away far too soon on Monday, I was reminded that, in addition to being a father, a husband, a comedian, an actor and a philanthropist, he was also a comics fan.

“I used to get excited emails from comics stores all over America when Robin Williams would drop in to buy Transmetropolitan issues,” Warren Ellis recalled Monday on Twitter.

A semi-regular customer at Golden Apple Comics in Los Angeles, Williams discussed his love of comics in a video interview we spotlighted in 2010 on ROBOT 6. In the clip, he fondly relates his latest reads: Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli’s DMZ, and Taiyō Matsumoto’s Tekkonkinkreet. Watch the brief interview below.

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A Marvel-ous collection of Shelf Porn from Canada

Photo 2

Hello and welcome to Shelf Porn, our weekly glance into one fan’s collection. Today’s collection comes from Robert in Canada, who shows us his comics, graphic novels and more.

If you’d like to see your collection featured here on Robot 6, you can find complete details at the end of this post.

And now here’s Robert …

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Grumpy Old Fan | This week in bad Supermen

WARNING: Contents May Have Shifted

WARNING: Contents May Have Shifted

On Tuesday, Comic Book Resources interviewed Superman writer Geoff Johns, penciler John Romita Jr. and inker Klaus Janson, who (as the headline put it) want to “inject optimism” into the series. As part of that interview, Johns contended that the Man of Steel’s desire to connect with his fellow Earthlings makes him “more relevant now than ever.”

Considering a couple of ongoing storylines, this current focus on positivity sounds like a voice crying in the wilderness. Today we’ll look at the end of Earth 2’s “The Kryptonian” — which features two alternate Supermen — as well as the latest installments of “Doomed” in the regular Super-books.

Naturally, SPOILERS FOLLOW for Earth 2 #26, Superman/Wonder Woman Annual #1, Action Comics Annual #3 and Action Comics #34.

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A “Guardians of the Galaxy” fan shares his collection

figures

Hello and welcome to Shelf Porn, our weekly look at one fan’s collection. Today’s collection has an appropriate theme, given the big film that opened this weekend, as Armand shows us his “Guardians of the Galaxy” collection. Spoiler’s warning: There aren’t actually a lot of shelves in this edition of Shelf Porn. Like many of us do, Armand keeps most of his collection in long boxes, but pulled out some of his key Guardians issues to show them off here.

If you’d like to see your Shelf Porn here, you can find directions at the end of this email.

And now here’s Armand …

*****

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Grumpy Old Fan | Grant Morrison and the music of the spheres

Big Blue on the Great White Way

Big Blue on the Great White Way

In 2008-09, Grant Morrison wrote (and J.G. Jones and others drew) DC Comics’ big-event miniseries Final Crisis. While it wasn’t the last cosmic-minded crossover, in many ways it was the crest of a wave that had been building since 2004′s Identity Crisis. The fallout from Identity Crisis sparked a new “Crisis Cycle,” leading into 2005-06′s Infinite Crisis, 2006-07′s 52, 2007-08′s Countdown, and various smaller-scale tie-ins.

With Morrison at the helm, though, Final Crisis turned out to be pretty esoteric. Apparently this pleased almost no one, being a) too steeped in DC lore for the casual reader, and b) not sufficiently tied into the regular comics, and thereby not rewarding the every-Wednesday folks who’d been following all the buildup.

Nevertheless, two FC plot points had immediate effects on the superhero line that, for all intents and purposes, have carried over into the New 52: It brought back Barry Allen and “killed” Batman. I was reminded of the latter two weeks ago, when a one-panel flashback in Robin Rises: Omega indicated pretty strongly that Darkseid’s Omega Effect (coincidence?) sent the New 52′s Caped Crusader bouncing through the time stream, just like his continuity-complicated predecessor. Accordingly, like so many DC stories of yore, Final Crisis still seems to have happened, even if in a significantly altered form.

Before we get too much further, rest assured this post isn’t dedicated to figuring out how a Final Crisis-shaped peg fits into a one-panel Robin Rising hole. Instead, I want to talk about how another FC plot point is helping to alter my perceptions of continuity.

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Comics A.M. | SCOTUSblog co-founder joins Kirby heirs’ appeal

Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby

Legal | Attorney Tom Goldstein, co-founder of the respected SCOTUSblog, has joined with Marc Toberoff to represent the heirs of Jack Kirby in their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of the Second Circuit’s affirmation that the artist’s contributions to Marvel between 1958 and 1963 were work for hire and therefore not subject to copyright termination. In a response filed this week to Marvel’s brief urging the high court to decline review, Goldstein and Toberoff again challenge the Second Circuit’s “instance and expense” test and its definition of “employer,” and argue, “Many of our most celebrated literary and musical works were created before 1978 and signed away to publishers in un-remunerative transactions. Termination rights were ‘needed because of the unequal bargaining position of authors.’ It would be hard to find a better example of this than the prolific Jack Kirby, who worked in his basement with no contract, no financial security and no employment benefits, but without whom Marvel might not even be in business today.” [Hollyqood, Esq.]

Retailing | Memo to politicians: You don’t win friends and influence people by taking up five spots in a comic store’s parking lot with your campaign bus on a Wednesday — especially when it’s Batman Day. [The Clarion-Ledger]

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Comics A.M. | In San Diego, ‘comics had a great convention’

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International

Conventions | Image Comics content manager David Brothers explains why this year’s Comic-Con International was a great convention, pointing out that there’s a lot more to the event than movies and television, and there’s a lot more to comics than the Big Two: “Marvel and DC are comics, just like the other publishers, and they make some great ones when they let the creators do their own thing. But at this point? You can’t treat them like the entirety of the comics industry, or even two companies that can dictate the future of comics. They run the movies, and that’s cool, but running comics? It’s just not true any more. Image in particular outsells Marvel in the book market as far as trade paperbacks go, and that holds true in the comics market lately, too. That’s no coincidence. People enjoy Marvel and DC, but they want more than Marvel and DC.” [io9.com]

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SDCC, Day 1 | ComiXology, ‘Rage of Ultron’ lead Thursday’s news

avengers-rage of ultronThe biggest comics news Thursday out of Comic-Con International was undoubtedly that, after years of debate, comiXology has introduced DRM-free backups of titles purchased from its storefront, with Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent, Top Shelf Productions and Zenescope Entertainment signing on to the program.

An email went out last night notifying customers that books they’ve purchased can be downloaded and stored as PDF or CBZ files, and pointing them to an FAQ on the subject.

“This has been an oft-requested feature,” comiXology CEO David Steinberger said during the company’s Comic-Con panel. “It’s a real backup file — it’s a fairly plain PDF or CBZ. They are high resolution, not a lot of bells and whistles, and my feeling is that people will continue to use the cloud-based reader to do their reading.”

The other big announcement was that Marvel will publish Avengers: Age of Ultron, an in-continuity graphic novel by the Uncanny X-Force team of Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña and Dean White scheduled to arrive in April 2015, ahead of the premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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Grumpy Old Fan | ‘Robin Rises’ but ‘Zero’ soars

My hero

My hero

Wednesday was Batman Day, the official date for celebrating the character’s 75th anniversary. It’s fine to have a Batman Day, I guess — I’ve been getting emails from online bookstores saying “Celebrate Batman Day with our sales!” so it’s coming across in practice like President’s Day — but Batman is so ubiquitous in pop culture that you might as well have a McDonald’s Day or a Coca-Cola Day. (In a perfect world there would be a Rockford Files Day.)

Anyway, appropriately enough, each of the two regular Bat-books DC published this week looked at one end of Batman’s timeline. Batman Vol. 2 #33 wrapped up “Zero Year,” the latest (and perhaps the most epic) version of the character’s origins; and Batman and Robin Vol. 2 #33 presented “Robin Rises, Part One,” the latest chapter in Damian Wayne’s posthumous saga. While the former ended impressively, the latter is off to a slow start.

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Finest known copy of ‘Action Comics’ #1 to be sold on eBay

action1 Horning in on Batman Day, eBay has announced it will auction a CGC-graded 9.0 copy of Action Comics #1, the finest known copy of the 1938 first appearance of Superman.

Just one other copy of Action Comics #1, the one previously owned by actor Nicolas Cage, has received a 9.0 rating from the Certified Guaranty Company, but it had “cream to off-white pages,” while this comic is considered to be in pristine edition. The Cage issue sold at auction in 2011 for a record $2.16 million; the expectation is, of course, that this copy, owned by collectibles dealer Darren Adams, will fetch a considerably higher price.

“The quality and preservation of this Action #1 is astounding,” Paul Litch, CGC’s Primary Grader, said in a statement. “The book looks and feels like it just came off the newsstand. It is supple, the colors are deep and rich and the quality of the white pages is amazing for a comic that is 76 years old.”

The eBay auction will be held Aug. 10-24, with a portion of proceeds going to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, which is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury.

You can view the comic on the CGC Comics website.

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