We’ve known for a while that DC’s superhero line will go through some changes in the wake of Forever Evil, and as the March solicitations bring the end of that Big Event, not surprisingly the month looks rather transitory. In fact, Forever Evil #7 is scheduled to appear on March 26, just as the final issue of Blackest Night — also written by Geoff Johns as a spinoff of his highest-profile series, in case you’d forgotten — dropped on the last week of March 2010. (It must be pure coincidence that these solicits feature a $200 White Power Battery tchotcke.) Back then, BN #8 was supposed to “set the stage” for the “next epic era of DC Comics,” which turned out to be about 18 months long and featured the biweekly sort-of-sequel miniseries Brightest Day. This time, Forever Evil #7 teases the importance of the “Hooded Man” and promises to “leave the DC universe reeling and reveal the secrets to the future.”
So, yeah, sounds like another cliffhanger ending, perhaps even leading into another big-deal miniseries — specifically, the May-debuting weekly Futures End. Considering that the three tie-in miniseries (ARGUS, Arkham War and Rogues Rebellion) all seem to feed into FE #7, the actual content of that final issue may well be a giant scrum, not unlike the final issue of Flashpoint, in which some cosmic button is pushed, defeating the Crime Syndicate but at a significant cost to DC-Earth. As it happens, there’s no mention of the “Blight” sub-crossover (bringing together Phantom Stranger, Pandora, Constantine and JL Dark) feeding back into Forever Evil, but I’m not sure how much it’s supposed to relate, beyond being about the JLD trying to pick up the post-invasion pieces.
It’s been about 10 years since the first ongoing series of popular Batman: The Animated Series export Harley Quinn published its 38th and final issue, so she was due — if not overdue — for another shot, particularly given that DC Comics’ current strategy means publishing a certain number of books each month, and the market seems to be rejecting a lot of those. Looked at in that light, then, this week’s Harley Quinn #1 was something of an inevitability.
The character certainly hasn’t been idle all that time, of course: She was a frequent presence in the Bat-books, shared the 2009-2011 Gotham City Sirens with Catwoman and Poison Ivy, briefly joined the Gail Siomone-written Secret Six and, with the New 52 reboot, she received a new origin story and costume in the pages of Suicide Squad. And, of course, she appeared at least briefly in various Batman cartoons during that time, as well as in the extremely popular Batman: Arkham video games and the more recent Injustice: Gods Among Us.
Certainly the character is popular, and while different fans probably like her for different reasons, the important factors seem to be that 1.) she’s a lady, 2.) she’s a sexy lady, and 3.) she offers the same sense of anarchy and dark humor as her sometimes-boyfriend The Joker, but without the depravity. More often than not — particularly in the comics and cartoons — she’s as much antihero as villain, a safer alternative to The Joker, whose evil serial killer portrayal is no so deeply embedded into the character that it can be difficult for creators to walk him back toward any more lighthearted portrayals.
I have a confession to make: I had a complete geek tantrum over the news that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is finalizing a deal to produce, and possibly star in and direct, a feature adaptation of Neil Gaiman and company’s The Sandman. I actually blurted out, “Who asked for this?!” Quite loudly. In a well-populated room.
I’m not proud; I should be above such pettiness. In fact, I should be thrilled because we all know what this means: DC Comics’ recently remastered collections of The Sandman are going to get a nice sales boost from the movie promotion (see Watchmen, 300, Scott Pilgrim, Hellboy, et al).
That’s nothing but good news for the creators, retailers and DC. It’s also good news for a new generation of readers that will likely be introduced to the landmark Vertigo series. More people being exposed to such an excellent example of comics is great, and when it comes down to it, I just want comics to succeed. So my feelings should be put aside, and I should be trumpet the adaptation as good news. But …
I don’t wanna. I really don’t wanna.
Travel Foreman posted these pieces to his blog overnight, explaining that he and Jeff Lemire were agitating for a Doom Patrol reboot around the time the artist left DC Comics’ Animal Man. He fleshes out the proposal’s premise, which was a ground-up reimagining of the concept, owing little to previous iterations of the characters.
“I’ve expressed my interest in doing the book to DC several times,” Foreman writes, noting that 2013 is the team’s 50th anniversary, “but it doesn’t seem to be something that’s ever going to happen.”
He offers a bit of detail about the pitch on his blog — there’s a catastrophe on a space station, with the lone “survivor” a Rover that developed into a sentient robot — and indicates he plans to develop the idea into his own Doom Patrol “simulacrum.”
Legal | More details have emerged about Hirofumi Watanabe, the 36-year-old man suspected of sending more than 400 threatening letters to convention centers, retailers and other sites in Japan associated with the manga Kuroko’s Basketball. The newspaper Mainichi Shimbun revealed Watanabe studied anime at a vocational school but dropped out at age 20. Also, a search of Watanabe’s apartment turned up toilet bowl cleaner, a scrap of paper that said “creating hydrogen sulfide” and, not surprisingly, several volumes of Kuroko’s Basketball.
Oddly, Watanabe claims to be two different perpetrators who use two different accents, standard Japanese and a Kansai accent, and many of the statements he made in his letters and online postings, including that he was acquainted with Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki, appear to be false. Anime News Network also reports that when he was arrested, Watanabe had about 20 threat letters in his backpack, and that he told police he was jealous of Fujimaki’s success. [Anime News Network]
DC Comics has revealed the new lineup for its digital-first series Adventures of Superman that includes a two-part story by Chronicle screenwriter Max Landis and Eisner-winning artist Jock. The announcement of their collaboration, titled “The Sound of One Hand Clapping,” provides context for the page Jock tweeted last week (at right), featuring the Man of Steel and the Joker, the latter depicted in styles from different eras, artists and media.
Other creators in the January lineup are B. Clay Moore and Gabriel Rodriguez with the three-part “Exposed,” Fabian Nicieza and Phil Hester with “The Coming of … Sugar & Spike,” and Ron Marz and Evan “Doc” Shaner with the three-part “Only Child.”
The son of filmmaker John Landis, Max Landis made a splash last year with Chronicle, the found-footage sci-fi movie directed by Josh Trank (and based on a story by both of them). Since then, he’s become widely known for his 17-minute rant about, and recreation of, the death and return of Superman, and a much longer video in which he explains his elaborate idea for a reboot of the storyline that DC had reportedly considered for a weekly series he’d have co-written by Greg Pak. (Landis says because of his schedule and changes at DC regarding a weekly title, the project never went anywhere.)
The new Adventures of Superman lineup debuts Jan. 6 with Moore and Rodriguez’s “Exposed”; Landis and Jock’s “The Sound of One Hand Clapping” follows that storyline on Jan. 27.
Fulfilling one of Al Plastino’s final wishes, DC Entertainment announced it has acquired his original art for the 1964 story “Superman’s Mission For President Kennedy” for donation to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.
A prolific Golden Age artist who passed away Nov. 25 at age 91, Plastino was surprised to discover at New York Comic Con a month earlier that the pages hadn’t been given five decades earlier to the library, as he’d been led to believe, but were instead set to be sold at auction on the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. The seller had purchased the pages in 1993 at a Sotheby’s auction for $5,000.
Plastino, who spent the last weeks of his life campaigning for the return of the artwork — Heritage Auctions put the sale on hold until questions about ownership could be resolved — drew the story in 1963 for DC Comics to promote Kennedy’s physical fitness program. The issue was intended to go on sale in late November but was quickly pulled following the assassination, and other material substituted. President Lyndon Johnson’s staff later asked DC to publish the original, which was edited to add a commemorate page showing Superman saluting a ghostly image of Kennedy.
In a joint statement, Plastino’s wife Annmarie and children MaryAnn, Fred, Janice and Arlene said: “We are extremely grateful to DC Entertainment for ensuring that the original art Al Plastino created for ‘Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy’ will be preserved as part of his artistic legacy and as a tribute to President Kennedy. This art was always very, very special to Al and our whole family and it would have meant a great deal to Al to know that DC Entertainment stepped in to make this possible.”
A Redditor and his girlfriend did a bit of “urban exploring” in an abandoned building in Ronse, Belgium, only to discover a treasure trove of incredible Batman graffiti in several styles — all by one artist, Pete One.
There are murals in the obligatory Bruce Timm animated style, a couple of pieces based on Brian Bolland’s Joker from The Killing Joke, and even a slightly out of place Bane from The Dark Knight Rises. But my favorite is the recreation of Jock’s already-iconic cover for Detective Comics #880.
For this year’s Christmas card, DC Entertainment turned to Eisner Award-winning artist Dave Johnson for a holiday-themed illustration of the man of the year, the Man of Steel (after all, this is the 75th anniversary of Superman’s debut).
Johnson, who frequently draws more angular faces, here opts for a softer approach, delivering a more youthful Kal-El. However, the highlight has to be the enormous snowflake composed of the logos of Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman.
In a well-timed series of posts, given the recent introduction of Barry Allen on The CW’s Arrow and the character’s planned spinoff, ComicBookMovie has been spotlighting the Flash video game that was lost with the 2008 closing of Brash Entertainment. Now Gregory E. Miller, who was the game’s lead designer for developer BottleRocket Entertainment, has provided the website with some storyboards and concept art for the project.
“Flash is the game I am most proud of and I am truly heartbroken that it never saw the light of day,” Miller explains on his own website. “Even at the early stage of development it was in when production stopped, it was already a really fun game to play and so many cool features were just beginning to come online. Everyone was incredibly pleased with the progress of the game, especially DC who at the time said it was the best representation of one of their heroes they had seen.”
As expected, the attorney for the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster has asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for a rehearing of last month’s ruling that reaffirmed the artist’s estate can’t reclaim his copyright stake in the Man of Steel.
The Ninth Circuit upheld in a 2-1 opinion an October 2012 ruling by a lower court that the Shuster family relinquished all claims to the character in a 1992 agreement with DC Comics in exchange for “more than $600,000 and other benefits,” which included paying Shuster’s debts following his death earlier that year and providing his sister Jean Peavy and brother Frank Shuster with a $25,000 annual pension. U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright had found the agreement invalidated a copyright-termination notice filed in 2003 by Shuster’s nephew Mark Peary.
But in a petition filed Tuesday, and first reported by Deadline, attorney Marc Toberoff insists the Nov. 21 opinion warrants a rehearing by either the three-judge panel or the Ninth Circuit’s full bench “because it contravenes Congress’ clear objectives, and this Court’s carefully-circumscribed decisions.”
For those who have followed DC’s promotion of Justice League 3000, this week’s inaugural issue must arrive with something of an asterisk. Announced in June as the latest reunion of Justice League International’s Keith Giffen (plot and breakdowns), J.M. DeMatteis (script) and Kevin Maguire (pencils), within two months the series became an unflattering example of creative-team chaos. In August, artist Howard Porter replaced Maguire, thereby postponing the series’ October debut. According to Maguire, DC apparently wanted something more dark and gritty, which doesn’t quite fit the style we now know as “bwah-ha-ha” — but by the same token, one wonders (as did Maguire) what DC thought it would get from the trio’s collaboration.
Still, to echo Donald Rumsfeld (and, 15 years earlier and more to the point, my entertainment-journalism professor), you review the comic you have, not the comic you wish you had. The first issue of Justice League 3000 reads like an artifact from the mid-1990s, when DC cranked out dystopian-future Elseworld stories fairly regularly; and Porter’s art is emblematic of the issue’s gritty, scratchy tone. This isn’t JLI. It’s not of a piece with Giffen and DeMatteis’ work writing Booster Gold, or even the current Larfleeze. It’s more like the short-lived, Giffen-written Threshold, crossed with an original-variety Marvel 2099 title.
In short, this first issue isn’t bad, just rather frustrating. I suppose the series has potential, and its creative team probably deserves a couple of issues to advance the plot. Regardless, JL3K #1 starts off negative and teases even more. It doesn’t give readers much optimism, outside of a vague sense that at some point, things can only get better.
SPOILERS FOLLOW, of course.
Manga | Roland Kelts looks at the international popularity of One Piece, whose sales number 300 million volumes in Japan and 45 million in the rest of the world. The piece includes an interview with creator Eiichiro Oda — he says he writes what he imagines his 15-year-old self would like to read — as well as editors from Viz Media, the American publisher of One Piece, who discuss the reasons for its popularity overseas as well as the global impact of manga piracy on these manga pirates. [The Japan Times]
Conventions | Which shows are money-makers for creators, and how much do they make? The answers, broken out into a handy infographic, may surprise you. [The Devastator]
Publishing | Israeli creators Rutu Modan (The Property) and Yirmi Pinkus have launched a new publishing house, Noah’s Library, to produce graphic novels for children. Modan, who wrote and illustrated Maya Makes a Mess for Toon Books, is creating new illustrations for the 1930s Israeli comics character Uri Kaduri, while Pinkus is illustrating stories about Mr. Gazma’i Habeda’i, another vintage character. They eventually plan to release the work of other creators as well. [Haaretz]
Cartoons | Francoise Mouly presents an array of cartoons by Ad Reinhardt, who eventually made his name as a fine artist with black-on-black paintings that he described as “the last paintings that anyone can make.” (For good measure, Mouly throws in a slide show of New Yorker cartoons about those paintings.) Before he reached that artistic pinnacle, Reinhardt drew cartoons for a number of different publications, including the leftist newspaper PM, where his fellow artists included Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) and Crockett Johnson, and the trade magazine Ice Cream World, where he was the art director. [The New Yorker]
While the original 2002, five-issue miniseries was in color, the 128-page trade collection ($19.99) will be in black and white but will feature two new pages by the Love and Rockets co-author.
ROBOT 6 readers with good memories might recall that I wrote about Grip earlier this year, lamenting that it was, to my knowledge, the only work by Hernandez that had never been compiled into book form.
To describe Grip’s plot takes some effort, as this is one of Hernandez’s more surreal and deliriously and wacky stories, involving a wide cast that includes an amnesiac young man, a pair of police detectives, a trio of Amazonian adventurers, another trio of gun-wielding gangsters, a sweet little old lady, a dwarf couple and a little girl with an eyepatch. As I wrote in May:
The story begins with the amnesiac young man wandering around a nondescript city and being assaulted by some of the people mentioned above for reasons that are murky at best. The story takes an even stranger left turn, however, when the man literally loses his skin at the end of the first issue and starts walking around beaches spouting seemingly half-remembered phrases. The skin starts to take on a life of its own as well.
2013 has blessed us with a bumper crop of great books by Hernandez that includes the critically acclaimed Marble Season and Julio’s Day, as well as Children of Palomar and Maria M. With Dark Horse planning to release Grip in addition to the collected edition of his more recent Fatima miniseries, it seems as though 2014 will continue that trend well into the new year.
I talked with Hernandez over the phone a few days before Thanksgiving about the new collection, the not-so-secret origins of Grip, and what else he’s working on.