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Grumpy Old Fan | ‘The Multiversity’: Adventures on Earth-You

Wabbit season

Wabbit season

Let’s get this out of the way: The first issue of The Multiversity is one of the craziest main-line superhero comics I’ve read in a long time. It’s self-referential. It attempts to engage the reader directly. It leaps around various parallel worlds in great flurries of color, off-kilter captions, and shouty dialogue. It’s apparently also a pretty-direct sequel to Final Crisis, writer Grant Morrison’s 2008-09 big-event miniseries, which — not that it matters much — took place under a different set of cosmological rules.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the interaction between those rules and the need to reference a potentially “invalid” story. Some readers may be frustrated (not unreasonably) by such interactions, and so far The Multiversity isn’t making things easier.

Again, though, consistency across continuity reboots is beside the point. Indeed, with a giant one-eyed bat-thing intoning “WE WANT 2 MAKE YU LIKE US,” consistency itself appears to be one of The Multiversity’s main villains. Change the emphasis slightly and the plot becomes more insidious. “We want to make you like us” — i.e., happy to exist in a state of “anti-death,” an everlasting “moment of ruin.” The imagery isn’t very subtle, and commentators have already compared the Gentry’s members to DC and other big comics publishers. For that matter, Morrison and artist Cameron Stewart made the globular, monocular corporate mascot Mickey Eye the symbol for all that was wrong in the superhero world of Seaguy.  (Coincidentally, that hero also had a funny-animal sidekick.)

My review could end up being in the form of a cop-out, but saying that readers get out of Multiversity what they put into it might actually be the point of the series. As a superhero comic, The Multiversity #1 is perfectly decent. Penciler Ivan Reis, inker Joe Prado, colorist Nei Ruffino and letterer Todd Klein present it in an attractive package. (The fact that Reis is the current Justice League penciler probably has its own metatextual significance, given the subject matter.) However, just as the Multiverse is a framework for various parallel realities, so The Multiversity #1 provides a framework for engaging with those realities — and that’s a little harder to quantify.

SPOILERS FOLLOW, assuming plot still matters for this sort of thing.

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Pristine copy of ‘Action Comics’ #1 sells for record $3.2 million

action1The finest known copy of Action Comics #1, featuring the first appearance of Superman, sold late this afternoon on eBay for a record $3.2 million. It’s the first comic to fetch more than $3 million at auction.

The previous record price of $2.16 million was paid in 2011 for a copy of the same comic once owned by actor Nicolas Cage. While both are rated 9.0 by the Certified Guaranty Company, the Cage issue had “cream to off-white pages”; this one is considered to be in pristine condition. They’re the only two copies of Action Comics #1 to receive that high of a rating.

This copy was acquired several years ago in a private sale by Darren Adams of Pristine Comics in Federal Way, Washington, and stored a temperature-controlled vault. He said the original owner bought the comic  from a newsstand in 1938, and then kept 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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Comics, action figures and more from Sheffield, England

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Happy Saturday and welcome to Shelf Porn, where each week we feature one fan’s collection. Today’s shelves come from Adrian in Sheffield, England, who shows off his collection of comics, action figures and more.

If you’d like to see your collection featured here, you can find instructions at the end of this post.

And now let’s hear from Adrian …

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Comics A.M. | Chinese cartoonist fears returning home

A cartoon by Biantai Lajiao

A cartoon by Biantai Lajiao

Political cartoons | “I think it might be pretty risky to go back home,” says Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, who’s on Japan in a business trip and is thinking about staying there. “If I go back, they might use my cartoons as an excuse to detain me.” Liming, whose pen name is Biantai Lajiao (Perverted Chili Pepper), was arrested and briefly detained in 2013 on charges of “rumor-mongering,” stemming from a post on the microblog site Weibo. This time, an anonymous commenter on a state-owned discussion board called Liming a “traitor” because of a cartoon he posted online that showed mainland Chinese being sent to Hong Kong to oppose the Occupy Central pro-democracy campaign and demonstrate how to kowtow to the government. “That post is written like something out of the Cultural Revolution,” Liming said, calling it a “smear campaign.” He has 500,000 followers on Weibo and another 340,000 on Sina Weibo, and he says he is losing income because his accounts have been shut down. [Radio Free Asia]

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Grumpy Old Fan | Autumn means changes for DC in November

The falling leaves drift by the window/The autumn leaves of red and gold

The falling leaves drift by the window/The autumn leaves of red and gold

Following DC Comics’ solicitations over the past few months has been fairly intriguing. The company’s West Coast move in early 2015 looms over all its actions, and makes it hard to gauge whether a new series or new creative team is a long-term commitment or a brief burst of experimentation. Moreover, that makes it tempting to say that anything you don’t like — or, for that matter, anything you do like — might be gone by April.

Oh, well. A little paranoia can’t hurt, but we’re not here to talk about that. Open a window to the November solicits and read along!

NEW FOLKS

November brings new creative teams for Wonder Woman (the Finches and Richard Friend), Superman/Wonder Woman (Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke) and Supergirl (Mike Johnson, Kate Perkins and Emanuela Lupacchino). I’m still in wait-and-see mode on the Finches. However, after several years of reading Tomasi and Mahnke’s work, I feel like I know what’s coming from them. S/WW should look great, as Mahnke is no stranger to either Superman or Wonder Woman, having drawn JLA and various issues of the New 52 Justice League. I suppose I’m cautiously optimistic about Tomasi, because this is the sort of book that plays to his strengths. He’s good at reconciling and unifying different perspectives on characters, and that’s pretty much what S/WW has always had to overcome. Ironically, it’ll probably be less of a concern in the absence of Azzarello and Chiang, but I suspect Tomasi will keep those elements around.

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At halfway point, bidding for ‘Action Comics’ #1 hits $1.95 million

action1Halfway through the 10-day eBay auction, bidding for the finest known copy of Action Comics #1 has surpassed $1.95 million.

Owned by Darren Adams of Pristine Comics in Federal Way, Washington, it’s just one of two copies of Superman’s first appearance 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. The difference between the two is that the Cage issue had “cream to off-white pages,” while Adams’ copy is considered to be in pristine condition.

Bidding has slowed considerably as the price inches higher: The comic jumped from a starting price of 99 cents to more than $1.6 million in the auction’s first day. Still, already this morning the price has moved from $1.8 million to a little more than $1.95 million. It appears just nine people have participated in the auction, for a total of 27 bids.

The auction continues through Aug. 24, with a portion of the proceeds going to benefit the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, dedicated to curing spinal cord injury. Adams, who acquired the comic several years ago, is only its fourth owner. He said he recently turned down an offer of $3 million, deciding instead to sell the book on eBay.

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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

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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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