When the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 invaded and seemingly conquered Earth-New 52 in Forever Evil #1, claiming to have killed the members of the Justice Leagues, the home-Earth villains took over DC comics, scrawling their names over the logos of their foes and initiating other evil acts like using decimal points in their issue numbers and putting the wrong stories in the wrong titles. (A Dial H epilogue and a Lobo one-shot in Justice League comics? A Batgirl story in a Batman comic?). But, most nefariously of all, the villains of DC Comics raised the price of each issue by a dollar and launched one of the biggest gimmick covers schemes in the modern history of direct market super-comics: heavy, plastic, 3D lenticular covers primed to be collected more so than read, and sparking insidious speculation, goosed my unpredictable shortages to many retailers. The monsters.
But while most attention has been focused on the covers, there are, in fact, stories beneath them, and so for the past three weeks we’ve been not judging the books by their covers, but by their contents. (Here’s Week One, Week Two and Week Three, if you missed ‘em.) As in the previous months, I’ve been ranking the books on their overall quality, on a scale of one to 10: Not Very Good, Somewhat Disobedient, Naughty, Morally Deficient, Without Scruples, Iniquitous, Wicked, Maleficent, Evil and Absolute Evil (although, as none received a perfect 10, you might want to adjust your reception of my ratings up by one).
Also, and perhaps more importantly, I’ve been noting how connected each is to the Forever Evil event that ostensibly led to this state of affairs at DC, so, if you’re only interested in these things for their narrative import rather than their creators or characters, you’ll know which are worth your attention. So let’s take one last wallow in the evil of (almost) every issue of this week’s Villains Month, and hope for the swift and triumphant return of our heroes starting next month.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is artist Ivan Anaya, one of the winners of the winner of the Skullkickers Tavern Tales Contest. He’ll join the other winner, writer Aubrey Sitterson, on a story for Skullkickers #18.
To see what Ivan and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Nearly lost amid all the media attention over the upcoming wedding of Northstar and Kyle Jinadu in Astonishing X-Men #51, and the response by One Million Moms, is the revelation that the event was originally planned for another Marvel series — albeit one canceled almost five months ago.
Responding on his message board to news of the impending nuptials, former Alpha Flight artist Dale Eaglesham wrote, “This drives me absolutely crazy: Greg [Pak], Fred [Van Lente] and I do all the work of bringing the series back and they cancel it on us. Why didn’t they let US do the wedding ‘event’ which is clearly garnering attention, to stimulate readership [and] perhaps keep Alpha Flight going? This pisses me off. Oh no, let the ‘X’ books do it, as if they don’t get enough attention. Sigh. … This wedding was in the works on AF.”
Marvel has not yet responded to Robot 6′s request for comment.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week’s special guest is Simon Monk, an artist whose “Secret Identity” paintings we featured here on Robot 6 not too long ago. Monk is actually selling limited edition prints of his paintings on his website now, so go check them out.
To see what Simon and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Less than two months after announcing the title had been upgraded from an eight-issue miniseries to an ongoing, Marvel has canceled Alpha Flight — with Issue 8.
The blow was delivered this afternoon in Marvel’s January 2012 solicitations, where the publisher labels “the big showdown between Alpha Flight and the Master of the World,” somewhat uncharacteristically, as “THE FINAL ISSUE!” (Marvel tends not to telegraph a title’s cancellation.)
“Fans and friends, I’m sorry to confirm that #AlphaFlight will indeed end with issue #8,” co-writer Greg Pak said on Twitter, “but the book was originally conceived as an 8 issue mini, so we’re still telling the big, fun story we intended from the start. THANK YOU, #AlphaFlight fans — you guys are the best and have provided us huge amounts of fun and inspiration. And have no fear … the story’s heading for a huge, satisfying ending that @fredvanlente and I have been champing at the bit to unleash for months.”
Featuring the creative team of Pak, his Incredible Herc collaborator Fred Van Lente and artist Dale Eaglesham, Alpha Flight had a strong debut in June, selling an estimated 45,850 copies and claiming the 20th spot on Diamond Comic Distributors’ Top 300 for the month. Sales dropped off dramatically with the second issue, to 26,860; by September’s Issue 4, that number had fallen to about 23,400, barely hovering above Marvel’s traditional line of death.
The cancellation, however, seems par for the course for Alpha Flight, a property that’s had a difficult time finding its footing, and an audience, since the end of its original 130-issue run in 1994 (some might argue since creator John Byrne left in 1985 after 28 issues). The four subsequent revivals were short-lived, with the longest lasting just 20 issues.
Marvel is heading north to Fan Expo Canada Aug. 25-28, and they’re bringing an exclusive Dale Eaglesham-drawn variant cover for Captain America #1. Cap, however, is nowhere to be seen; instead Wolverine and Alpha Flight sport Cap-like shields for the hometown crowd. The “variant” shields worn by Puck and Guardian are really nice touches.
Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Chris Butcher.
Butcher is the manager of The Beguiling in Toronto and founder of The Toronto Comic Arts Festival. He’ll be at the UDON Booth #5037 and The Beguiling Original Art Sales Booth #1629 at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend.
To see what Chris and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Today marks the release of the second issue of Marvel’s new Alpha Flight eight-issue miniseries. Given how committed and enthused the creative team of writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente (on evidence in the two writers’ May 2011 CBR interview) along with artist Dale Eaglesham are about the project, I hope it becomes a regular series, quite honestly. To mark the release of the latest issue, Eaglesham agreed to an email interview. I never tire of conducting discussions of this type, where I can find out the approach an artist takes in certain scenes or with particular characters. If you’re as much a fan of this latest incarnation of Alpha Flight as I clearly am, do Eaglesham the favor of following his marching orders (detailed in the last part of this interview) so that the book can hopefully become an ongoing. In addition to discussing Alpha Flight, I was pleased to learn more about the local charity that Eaglesham supports: Refuge RR, a local animal refuge.
Tim O’Shea: Your art clearly meshes well when in collaboration with writers like Van Lente and Pak, it seems like they give you opportunity to stretch the boundaries of what you can do as an artist. For example, in the shocking reveal of issue 1, I was struck by the flock of birds flying behind Heather. Was that something specifically requested in the script or was that totally your idea?
Dale Eaglesham: That was actually my idea. It was just a casual symbol I put in there, referring to lost freedom, for Mac, but also for the whole country. It foreshadows what’s coming for Alpha Flight and Canada, and creates a sense of foreboding. You know when all the birds fly away, there’s danger nearby… I love when I get a big shot like that, it allows me to add layers to the art.
Publishing | We noted in late April that Archie Comics appeared to be embracing cultural and political commentary with its upcoming Kevin Keller miniseries, which features Riverdale’s first openly gay character and his father, a retired three-star general. But now the publisher, or at least the character, is going a step further, marching into the middle of the debate over gays and lesbians openly serving in the armed forces by revealing that Kevin aspires to be a journalist, but only after attending the U.S. Military Academy and becoming an Army officer. “Even though we don’t tackle the specific issue of Don’t Ask Don’ Tell, the goal was to show that patriotism knows no specific gender, race or sexual orientation,” cartoonist Dan Parent says. “While it sounds like heavy subject matter, I tried to show it simply that Kevin, like his dad, loves his country. Being gay doesn’t effect that in any way.” [The Associated Press]
Publishing | DC Comics’ line-wide reboot has received extensive coverage by mainstream media outlets, based largely on the original USA Today article or The Associated Press report. But my favorite piece is this one by George Gene Gustines that turns back the clock to 1985 and attempts to explain to The New York Times audience the effects, and problems, of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the publisher’s subsequent attempts to streamline continuity: “… If the goal was to make the DC universe easier to understand, the end result was the opposite: to this day, fans frequently mention ‘pre-Crisis‘ and ‘post-Crisis‘ as a way to distinguish stories. Twenty years later, in the Infinite Crisis limited series, DC tried to clean continuity up again: Superman’s career as Superboy was back; Batman knew who murdered the Waynes; and Wonder Woman was a founder of the Justice League again.” [The New York Times]
Welcome once again to What Are You Reading? Today’s special guest is writer and artist Dean Trippe, creator of Butterfly and co-founder of the Project: Rooftop blog, among other credits. He posts regularly on his Tumblr site Bearsharktopus-Man, where he is currently selling this nifty Doctor Who/Batman crossover print. He also has some art in the Webcomics Auction for the Gulf.
To see what Dean and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
The news and announcements flowed freely on the first day of the brand new C2E2 convention, as well as at the Diamond retailer’s summit on Thursday. Here’s a quick summary, in case you missed anything …
- At the Diamond retailer’s summit, Diamond polled retailers on the possibility of moving from a Wednesday to a Tuesday ship date for comics. This would put them in line with DVDs, music and books.
- Marvel kicked off the con with a lot of announcements, not the least of which was two different Captain America mini-series. First up, Steve Rogers jumps into action in Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier, a four-issue miniseries by Ed Brubaker and artist Dale Eaglesham that kicks off in July. Eaglesham will no longer be drawing Fantastic Four as a result.
- That same month brings Captain America: Patriot, by Karl Kesel and Mitch Breitweiser. The four-issue series stars Jeff Mace, the former Patriot who took on the uniform while Rogers was frozen in a block of ice.
- Marvel also discussed the long-talked about Shadowland, a five-issue series by Andy Diggle and Billy Tan during their Mondo Marvel panel and their retailer presentation on Thursday. “You’re going to see a ton of heroes from Spider-Man and Wolverine to Luke Cage…some are fighting to keep New York safe, and some are fighting to keep it unsafe due to Daredevil’s takeover of the ninja organization The Hand,” said Editor Steve Wacker.
In addition to starring in Marvel’s upcoming Secret Avengers title, the former Captain America is also getting a miniseries of his own. Announced yesterday at the Diamond retailer’s summit in Chicago, the four-issue series, titled Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier, will be written by Ed Brubaker, naturally, with art by Dale Eaglesham (Fantastic Four). The first issue (above) features a cover by Carlos Pacheco.
“It felt like Bucky was doing a great job as Cap, fans dig him in the role [and] I enjoy writing him as Cap,” Brubaker told Marvel.com. “And it occurred to me that Steve was going to get put through the wringer on his way back to the present, and may have reasons for not wanting to put the Cap uniform back on and go all public for a while, if not forever.”
He added that Rogers would be operating in secret, “more like a James Bond for the Marvel Universe, operating covertly to save the world.”
Here’s our last Marvel exclusive for the day … as you can tell, Marvel was very generous in sharing some art with us today, and while all four of the titles I got to preview from them today are among my favorites, I really dig what Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham are doing on Fantastic Four. I think I’ve said it a couple of times over the last few weeks that it’s probably my current favorite title Marvel is publishing. In any event, here’s a teaser image from issue #575, which comes out Jan. 27. It’s only one image, but man, what an image …
I believe that’s page 10 of the comic. Here’s some info on that issue from Marvel.com (where incidentally you can check out a really nice variant cover by Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic):
WRITER: Jonathan Hickman
PENCILS: Dale Eaglesham
Kicking off the world-spanning new adventures of the Fantastic Four, this is part one of the Prime Elements arc: The Hidden City of the High Evolutionary! Featuring the return of the Mole Man, the architecture of the underworld, and the smartest Moloid you’ll ever meet. Don’t miss it! Rated A …$2.99
IN STORES: January 27, 2010
(Again with the props: Arune Singh)