INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
Retailing | Sales of both comics and graphic novels were strong during the 2014 holiday season and have continued to grow since then, according to the 13 retailers (nine direct market shops and four bookstores that carry graphic novels) surveyed by Publishers Weekly. The answers seem to reflect some trends that have been ongoing for a while: Image Comics solidifying its place as the No. 3 (and in one case, No. 2) comics publisher, the increasing popularity of graphic novels and an influx of new readers, many of them young and female. [Publishers Weekly]
Retailing | Brooklyn Comics & More Inc., the owner of two now-closed stores in New York City, has filed for bankruptcy. The corporation opened Brooklyn Comics & More in 2010 and Manhattan Comics & More in 2011; both closed in 2013. The company’s debts include $71,799.93 owed to Diamond Comic Distributors. [ICv2]
The cover of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 (which hit comics shops in the first week of June 1985) screamed, “This is it! Double-sized SHOCKER!” However, the ending had been spoiled about two months before, when DC Comics revealed this was when Supergirl would die. (The April 10, 1985, edition of USA Today also revealed the fates of the Earth-Two Superman and Lois Lane, seven months early.)
Usually I try to be somewhat coy about Crisis’ plot twists, as if I were coming to it for the first time. With this, however, there’s little use. By now everyone and their super-cat knows Supergirl dies in Crisis, and it was pretty much the same 30 years ago.
Therefore, the question is how well does Crisis’ brain trust sell Supergirl’s death? It’s harder than you might think. Issue 7 is certainly one of the maxiseries’ best single installments (and that’s not a backhanded compliment); but the fact is that Supergirl not only dies to save Superman, she tells him how great he is with her last breaths. It doesn’t get much more meta than that.
Thieves broke into Alpha Comics in Calgary, Alberta, early Thursday, and took more than 500 comic books and trade paperbacks, stuffing them in a garbage bag.
Although no high-value comics were stolen, owner Chris Humphries told CTV Calgary the price for that many titles adds up, amounting to a loss of several thousand dollars.
It’s a good time to be a Supergirl fan. The preview for CBS’s Supergirl debuted a couple of weeks ago (and some of you may have even gotten to see — ahem — even more). Based on that, the show has been named one of the eight Most Exciting New Series by the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. Closer to home, the preview also inspired my colleague Caleb Mozzocco to ask whether there were any non-terrible Supergirl comics.
That took me back. As someone who remembers the full and frank discussions about Supergirl’s image in the mid-2000s, when the character became emblematic of the decline of superheroes, it’s very weird indeed to realize that Supergirl could be a standard-bearer for superhero television.
If neither Cerebro nor the Eye of Agamatto can provide the information you’re looking for, it’s time to turn to iMarvel.
August is the third month of DC Comics’ revamped lineup, which has yet to begin in earnest. Although you might think that would limit what there is to discuss in the August solicitations, I found a good bit to talk about. There are some unusual marketing moves, a few good guest-star opportunities, and even some nice tchotchkes. Let’s take a look.
“Truth” rolls on throughout the four Superman titles, and with its secret revealed in DC’s Free Comic Book Day preview, there’s not much point in speculating about the details. I’m not sure what to think about DC pairing its latest linewide relaunch with a couple of massive changes to Superman and Batman. I started reading The Amazing Spider-Man after the dust had settled from “One More Day,” because I didn’t want to deal with a series of big events or their immediate ramifications. Accordingly, it makes me think that Supes will have his secret restored at some point — perhaps in time for next spring’s Issue 50, which would also be just in time for the big Batman v Superman movie — and if I were thinking about returning to Superman, I might just wait until then. (Of course, since the New 52 relaunch, Supes has gotten far more attention than Clark has, so this could just be an extension of that.)
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Comics | More than 3,000 copies of the comic book Brink City Special Edition: Kids Lives Matter will be distributed to children in Cleveland to promote gun safety and encourage toy gun buy-back programs. Just last November, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed in Cleveland by a police officer who mistook his airsoft pistol for a real one. Funded by private foundations, the comic was produced by the Rid-All Green Partnership. [Fox 8]
Passings | Mennonite cartoonist Joel Kauffmann, creator of the religious-humor strip Pontius’ Puddle, died last week at age 64. The son of a Mennonite pastor, Kauffmann grew up on a farm in Hopedale, Illinois, and started drawing early: “He was always drawing wherever he was, including the many hours he spent in church,” said his sister, Mary Kauffmann-Kanel. Pontius’ Puddle ran for over 30 years in over 200 publications; Kauffmann also wrote the screenplay for the movie The Radicals, which told the story of two early leaders of the Anabaptist movement, and he was producing content for the Museum of the Bible project funded by Hobby Lobby president Steve Green. [Mennonite World Review]
Gerry Conway has written more comics than I care to count, including career-defining runs on The Amazing Spider-Man and Justice League of America. During his tenure at DC Comics in the 1970s and ‘80s, he co-created Firestorm, Steel the Indestructible Man, Vixen and Vibe (among many others). He wrote the first relaunch of New Gods and helped craft the Robin-to-Nightwing transition. Recently, he’s been calling attention to the use of “derivative” comics characters in other media — for example, the Flash TV show’s Caitlin Snow, who shares a name, a scientific background, and a Firestorm connection with the most recent version of Killer Frost’s alter ego.
DC responded to Conway’s concerns with assurances of fair compensation, but the matter also goes to the heart of the publisher’s shared universe.
The sixth issue of Crisis on Infinite Earths — which debuted in comics shops 30 years ago, during the first week of May 1985 — hangs a handful of fight scenes and expository moments on an almost rudimentary plot. It finalizes the series’ basic status quo and resolves some lingering threads, but beyond that it starts looking outward, to the regular superhero series which will survive it.
Consider Issue 6’s final page. The last page of the first issue fully revealed the Monitor, previously a mysterious figure who’d been appearing intermittently in the odd corners of various super-comics. The second and third issues ended with Harbinger’s internal struggle about whether she could fight the evil impulses leading her to kill the Monitor. Issue 4’s cliffhanger depicted the destruction of Earths-One and -Two, and Issue 5 threatened the same for Earths-Four, -S and -X. However, Issue 6 ends with Yolanda Montez showing off her new identity of Wildcat II. Regardless of your affection for the Wildcat legacy, one of these things is not like the others. The debut carries no cosmic implications (at least not for 1985) and serves mostly to advertise future issues of Infinity Inc.; but it also shows that Crisis was shifting more into a marketing mode.
Although Convergence races on, it’s not DC Comics’ only cosmically minded title. This week brought a couple more takes on everyone’s favorite bit of heavenly housekeeping, as Justice League #40 kicks off “Darkseid War” and The Multiversity #2 concludes Grant Morrison’s meta-epic. Each makes clear connections to Crisis on Infinite Earths (and thus, by extension, to DC’s pre-Crisis output), and each reflects its writer’s philosophy.
However, where one extols the virtues of infinite creative diversity, the other focuses on the cyclical nature of it all. Today we’ll see which issue uses its approach more effectively.
SPOILERS for both issues, of course …
This week DC Comics rolled out its July solicitations. Because they mostly cover the second month of a relaunch whose first month is still six weeks away, they feel rather comment-proof. I mean, last month was the time for first impressions, so you can’t really comment further on storylines that haven’t started or creative teams whose first issues haven’t appeared. That said, July brings the first issue of the Cyborg solo series, as well as the return of Justice League United, so it’s not as if there’s nothing new.
HAIL TO THE VICTOR
As a longtime (i.e., aging) New Teen Titans fan, I’m a little torn about a Cyborg ongoing series. A spotlight on Victor Stone is long overdue, and I think the character is versatile enough to handle a wide range of adventures. (It’s also nice to note that with Starfire and Grayson, there will be three ongoing series based on ex-Titans.) However, I feel like Marv Wolfman and George Pérez established a lot of Vic’s backstory carefully and purposefully from 1980 through 1990, and then chucked it out the window when “Titans Hunt” blew up the Titans status quo. As the New 52 rebooted Vic (and since Forever Evil did it literally), he starts this ongoing with pretty much a blank slate. I’m looking forward to seeing what David Walker, Ivan Reis and Joe Prado have planned, but I hope that includes some of that forgotten history.
Happy Saturday and welcome to Shelf Porn. Today we take our second look through Rich’s shelves, who first submitted them a couple years ago and asked for recommendations on how to display his Hot Toys … and now you can see what he ultimately did with them.
If you’d like to see your collection featured here, you can find details on how to do that at the end of this post.
And now here’s Rich …
For all its attempts at inclusion, Convergence is limited to what DC Comics has “allowed” historically within its shared universe. The three main Convergence time periods are basically 2011, 1994, and 1984-ish, and they each interact with other superhero-flavored genres.
However, through the years there’s also been a thread of DC superheroics set outside the main-line milieu. More often than not, these stories aren’t really concerned with detail-oriented “what ifs” — Communist Superman, vampire Batman, etc. — but with the larger questions surrounding the superhero genre itself. If you’re going to talk about DC and you don’t want to talk about Convergence, more than likely you’re going to run into these stories.
To butcher a few words from a wise man, “Welcome to Shelf Porn … hope you survive the experience!”
Today’s collection comes from Marshall in Washington, D.C., whose wife encouraged him to share his X-Men collection with us. He said his love for Marvel’s mutants inspired him to start a nonprofit.
“I really love to come home to this collection because it inspired my life’s work so far which was to create an international development nonprofit called Leadership Initiatives (originally called X-C.O.R.E.),” Marshall said. “Essentially we go to developing countries find a communities’ best local leaders and train them how to open and design businesses that will solve a community need. The businesses are then funded by local investors ensuring that the community is building up it’s own infrastructure instead of becoming more dependent upon foreign assistance.”
If you’d like to see your collection featured here, you can find details on how to do that at the end of this post.
And now, here’s Marshall …
This month’s look back at DC Comics’ signature Big Event comes at a very appropriate juncture. The first four issues of Crisis on Infinite Earths culminated in the destruction of Earths-One and -Two, which (for the most part) represented DC’s Silver and Golden Ages. Issue 5 — which appeared in the Direct Market during the first week of April, 1985 — began to combine the various parallel universes, although as we’ll see the process wasn’t exactly smooth. In fact, one might say it informs the basic setting of DC’s current multiversal event, Convergence. That’s probably not an accident, and we’ll look at those similarities in due time.
Besides that, though, Crisis issue 5 is noteworthy for a few reasons. First, it marks the arrival of inker Jerry Ordway, whose distinct finishes complemented George Pérez’s pencils quite nicely and gave Crisis a unique look. Second, it kicked off a set of plot threads that would run through most of the rest of the “maxi-series,” including the mechanics of multiversal melding, the identity of the mysterious villain, and the team of Superman and Superman. Finally, it shifted the focus decisively from a handful of characters and settings to the embryonic “DC Universe” itself. Starting this issue, the featured players changed from issue to issue, producing the superhero crowds for which Crisis became (in)famous.
Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 was written and edited by Marv Wolfman, penciled by Pérez, inked by Ordway, colored by Tony Tollin, and lettered by John Costanza. Bob Greenberger was the associate editor and Len Wein was the consulting editor.
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