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Grumpy Old Fan | Combinations of creators and characters

Ask your grandparents about letter-writing

Ask your grandparents about letter-writing

Note: Due to my travel schedule, the Futures Index is taking a break this week. There will be a double dose next week to get us back on track.

Something I didn’t mention in last week’s post about The Multiversity #1 is the persistent notion that corporate-controlled characters have, for lack of a better phrase, “lives of their own.” In other words, we know how Superman, et al., are “supposed” to act, based on common, recurring elements, which are ostensibly independent of any particular creative team. Because The Multiversity offers a prime opportunity to play around with those elements and the expectations they engender, this week I wanted to go a little more in that direction.

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We begin with Batman, and specifically a scene from the now-classic Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon. “Legends of the Dark Mite,” written by Bat-guru Paul Dini, features a brief-but-incisive dig not just at fans, but at the corporate culture which has nurtured the Caped Crusader over these past 75 years. See, Bat-Mite wants to see his hero fight a supervillain, but Batman just wants the little guy to vamoose, and suggests the imp summon Calendar Man. Yadda yadda yadda, Calendar King has killer Easter Bunnies.

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Comics A.M. | Why two dealers paid $3.2M for ‘Action Comics’ #1

Action Comics #1

Action Comics #1

Comics | Vincent Zurzolo of Metropolis Collectibles explains why he and his partner Stephen Fishler were willing to pay a record $3.2 million last month for a pristine copy of Action Comics #1: “We feel very confidently this was a good price and that we will be able to sell this for a profit. We really believe in the strength of the comic book market and that it has a long way to go.” Zurzolo also talks about how he built up his business, starting out selling comics at conventions at the age of 15. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Legal | More trouble for Square Enix over the gamer manga Hi Score Girl: Publication was suspended last month following allegations the series, which runs in the Japanese magazine Monthly Big Gangan, had used characters owned by the game company SNK Playmore without permission. Now it turns out Square Enix asked permission from Sega to use characters from its Virtua Fighter game, but then went ahead and published the story before permission was granted. Sega executives “strongly objected” but took no further action and did grant the permission, reasoning it would be good publicity for the game. [Anime News Network]

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DC shakes up Digital First release schedule with new titles

dc digital

DC Comics has shuffled its Digital First release schedule to make room for new additions Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman, Arrow Season 2.5 and The Flash: Season Zero.

Arrow Season 2.5, which debuted Monday, will alternate weeks with The Flash: Season Zero. Set between the second and third seasons of the hit television series, Arrow is penned by executive producer Marc Guggenheim and staff writer Keto Shimizu, and illustrated by Joe Bennett and Jack Jadson. The Flash: Season Zero, meanwhile, takes place between the events of the pilot and the second episode, and is written by Andrew Kreisberg, Brooke Eikmeier and Katherine Walczak, with art by Phil Hester and Eric Gapstur.

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Superheroes get rockin’ makeovers in ‘Super Rockers’

super rockers

Outside of Dazzler, Lila Cheney and Zenith, we don’t often see musicians as superheroes — or is it superheroes as musicians? — in comic books. But that didn’t stop illustrator Andrés Moncayo from exploring the concept in “Super Rockers,” in which he assembles a lineup of DC Comics and Marvel superheroes for a rock-star makeover.

“I made this project because nothing inspire more as a child than superheros and music when I was a teenager,” Moncayo writes. “So here it is, music and superheroes together.”

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Comics A.M. | Books-A-Million sees growth in graphic novel sales

Books-A-Million

Books-A-Million

Retailing | Books-A-Million had a good second quarter, and CEO Terry Finley gives at least part of the credit to graphic novels: “We also saw strong growth in the graphic novel category, with continued success with titles related to AMC’s The Walking Dead series and a renewed interest in several manga series [that] drove sales increases.” And to boost that, the retail chain, which operates more than 250 stores nationwide, is planning Marvel promotions throughout September. [ICv2]

Conventions | Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder Dan Farr is trying to measure how much money attendees are spending. In terms of hotel beds, at least, the convention seems to be dwarfed by trade shows, but with people coming to Salt Lake City from 48 states for the recent spinoff event FanXperience, that may be changing. Still, even in San Diego, attendees spend only about $600 per person; if Salt Lake attendees are similarly thrifty, the convention may not be a significant player in the Salt Lake City convention scene. [The Salt Lake Tribune]

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Canada introduces Superman coins featuring iconic DC covers

superman-15-cropped

Less than a year after unveiling seven collector coins celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Man of Steel, this morning at Fan Expo in Toronto the Royal Canadian mint introduced four more, featuring iconic Superman comic book covers.

The superhero’s milestone anniversary and Toronto roots were also celebrated last year with a set of stamps from Canada Posts. Although Superman was created in 1933 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster when they were teenagers living in Cleveland, Shuster was actually born in Toronto, and lived there until age 9 or 10. He worked as a newspaper boy for the Toronto Daily Star, whose building served as a model for the Daily Planet (originally called the Daily Star).

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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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Sensational idea, less-than-wonderful execution: ‘Sensation Comics’ #1

sensationLast week saw the return of Sensation Comics to store racks, as DC Comics repurposed the long-defunct title for a new Wonder Woman anthology series, featuring stories by rotating creative teams that debut online as part of the publisher’s digital-first initiative. It’s a strategy the company previously used for similar anthologies Legends of the Dark Knight and the soon-ending Adventures of Superman.

It’s a great idea, and one well past due. Unlike Batman and the Man of Steel, Wonder Woman has long been confined to a single solo title, with fewer miniseries, specials and one-shots, and is more often subject to drastic new directions, due to a perceived notion the character needs to be “fixed.”

The current Wonder Woman series is a good example of this, with Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang and company reintroducing the character with an “Everything you thought you knew was wrong!” origin, accompanied by a weird and dark backstory for the Amazons, and a London setting for the heroine.

Last time I checked in with Wonder Woman, the title character was the demigod daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta and had become the goddess of war, dispatching her foes with magic swords — and when she’s really in a pinch, she takes off her power-dampening Amazon bracelets, which allows her to “power-up” into a sort of glowing Super-Wonder Woman.

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Batgirl enlists some unlikely help for Ice Bucket Challenge

batgirl-als-cropped

First, Archie Andrews took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and now it’s Batgirl’s turn!

Challenged by Stella of the Batgirl to Oracle podcast to take the plunge for charity, the incoming Batgirl team of Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr came up with a creative response: They recruited Barbara Gordon to stand in for them in a fun comic strip — and she brought along some unexpected help.

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Six Flags unveils Justice League, Joker and Harley Quinn rides

six flags-justice league

Six Flags has announced a 2015 slate of new attractions at its 18 theme parks that includes the 3D interactive ride Justice League: Battle for Metropolis, the roller coasters Batman: The Ride, The Joker Chaos Coaster, and the Harley Quinn Spinsanity.

Arriving in the spring at Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags St. Louis, Justice League: Battle for Metropolis allows visitors, equipped with special 3D glasses and stun gun, to explore the Hall of Justice, battling Lex Luthor and The Joker, who have kidnapped Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, Green Lantern and Supergirl.

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The ‘Genius’ of weekly comics

Genius #5Although U.S. publishers occasionally experiment with weekly series — DC Comics, for examples, will soon have three on its plate, with Batman Eternal, New 52: Futures End and Earth 2: Worlds End — comic books in North America traditionally have been released on a monthly schedule. It’s been that way for decades.

However, today sees the conclusion of weekly miniseries that not only make you reconsider that tradition, but also leads you to wonder whether the story’s impact would have been lessened by monthly release.

Created by writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman and artist Afua Richardson, the five-issue Genius was published weekly throughout August by Top Cow Productions (the final two installments went on sale this morning). This break from the tradition allowed the story to build a momentum that would have been missed had it unfolded over the course of five months.

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Batman takes Manhattan in New York Comic Con poster

nycc-batman-cropped

The celebration of Batman’s 75th anniversary didn’t end with Comic-Con International: The Dark Knight also graces the DC Comics poster for New York Comic Con.

As you can tell from “The Bronx” plastered across the head of the Caped Crusader in Francis Manapul’s illustration, Batman will be leaving Gotham for New York City, at least for one weekend.

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DC introduces students of ‘Gotham Academy’ in new promos

gotham-academy-maps-cropped

DC Comics has released three new promos introducing the students of Gotham Academy, debuting in October from writers Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher, artist Karl Kerschl and colorist Romain Gaschet.

Announced in June, the teen drama is set in the city’s most prestigious school, where students attend classes (and get into mischief) in “the shadow of Batman and the craziness of Gotham.”

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Comics A.M. | A look at the diversity of the Batman family

Batwoman #32

Batwoman #32

Comics | Writing for The Advocate, Jase Peeples takes note of the diversity of DC Comics’ extended Batman family — from Batwoman to Batwing to Barbara Gordon’s roommate Alysia Yeoh — and talks with writers Gail Simone, Grant Morrison, Marc Andreyko, Tom Taylor and Chip Kidd. “I would like to think that people can pick up books like Batman Incorporated or The Multiversity and see their own lives reflected,” Morrison says. “But I’d always caveat that with the need for us to see more diverse writers and artists, because that’s when I think the walls will really come down. As a straight [white guy from Scotland] I can only do so much, and I find even sometimes when you do this, you do get accused of tokenism or pandering. I don’t mind it. I can put up with that, but I’d rather see a genuine spread of writers and artists creating this material.” [Advocate.com]

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Lois Lane getting her own YA novel by author Gwenda Bond

lois-lane-falloutLois Lane will star next year in her own young-adult prose novel written by Gwenda Bond, author of The Woken Gods and the upcoming Girl on a Wire.

Teased Monday by Bond, and immediately deduced by DC Women Kicking Ass and others, Fallout follows a high school-age Lois new to Metropolis, where she’s determined to figure out how a group called the Warheads is using an immersive video game to mess with the mind of another girl.

“Having a really hard time articulating more than ‘YES THIS IS HAPPENING, NOW YOU ALL KNOW’ at the moment,” Bond tweeted on Monday. “But I love Lois & I love you guys. Because Lois is … LOIS. And I want to do the character justice. I hope that I did and that you guys think so too. (And also FUN.)” She followed that this morning with photographic evidence of her excitement.

Published by Switch Press, Capstone’s imprint for young-adult readers, the 304-page Fallout is listed on Amazon.com for January release. However, Bond indicates its will be published in May.

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