If you want to see what the Justice League does next, you can wait for the next issue or you can fast-forward into the future — the far future — in DC Comics’ digital-first series Justice League Beyond.
Launched last year, Justice League Beyond shows the flagship team in the futuristic continuity established by the animated series Batman Beyond (which also has a digital-first comic). Saturday’s installment of Justice League Beyond features the debut of one of the publisher’s most overlooked heroes — Shazam, whom you can see in a Robot 6′s exclusive preview, below.
Introduced in 1939 by C.C. Beck and Bill Parker, Shazam (formerly known as Captain Marvel) is a wholesome superhero from an earlier, more time who doesn’t always work well in a modern setting. Having him show up in the future of Justice League Beyond, even further removed from his Golden Age roots, makes the classic hero seem that much more of a throwback — and that’s something writer Derek Fridolfs is tackling head-on with artist Ben Caldwell.
On the eve of Shazam’s debut, Robot 6 spoke with Fridolfs about the hero’s introduction, and his work on Justice League Beyond.
It’s always a great feeling when you find good comics in a place you weren’t suspecting. But as a reader, fan and journalist, I was surprised at how good the DC Comics digital titles are. But why? DC has put out great books, and continues to do so now with some of its New 52 line-up; I was also a big fan of the publisher’s previous digital-first endeavors with Zuda. Why then is it so surprising that the current crop of DC Digital is good? Then I figured it out.
First, a primer: Launched in early 2012, the DC Digital titles premiere online with weekly installments and are later collected in print. Originally consisting of just two series, Batman Beyond Unlimited and Smallville: Season 11 (both coincidentally continuations of canceled television shows), the line expanded in the fall with the anthology-style Legends of the Dark Knight, companions to the TV drama Arrow and the video game Injustice: Gods Amongst Us, and Batman: Li’l Gotham. The imprint’s most recent addition is an anthology called Adventures of Superman.
If not for this CNN article, I’d have missed entirely that DC Comics last week released a digital one-shot introducing a darker take on the origin of She-Ra, the 1980s toy property (and cartoon star) introduced by Mattel as an alternative to its own popular Masters of the Universe line.
The twin sister of Prince Adam of Eternia (aka He-Man), Adora was kidnapped as an infant and whisked away to the planet Etheria, where she was raised as Despara, a force captain of the Evil Horde. Eventually, she learns her true origins and is given the Sword of Protection, which allows her to transform She-Ra and join the rebellion to free Etheria from the clutches of the Evil Horde.
The new comic, by writer Mike Costa and artist Drew Edward Johnson, focuses on the time before the character’s transformation into She-Ra, when the future heroine wasn’t quite so heroic.
Writer Gail Simone calls Ben Abernathy “one of the best editors/idea men in the business,” and over the past 15 years — through his time at Dark Horse, Marvel, WildStorm, DC Comics and now digital publisher Madefire — he’s pushed the boundaries of what can be done in the medium. He was part of Marvel’s move into trade paperbacks and graphic novels, and shepherded WildStorm’s hard sci-fi and superhero work. WildStorm gave way to DC Digital, where Abernathy helped to break the mold of how comics are read, and that continues at Madefire, which publishes serialized creator-owned comics online and via mobile devices.
In addition to discussing Abernathy’s work at Madefire, I asked the longtime editor about his time at WildStorm, where he took over for Scott Dunbier, and his thoughts on the imprint’s collapse in 2010.
The Halloween-themed debut of the digital-first Li’l Gotham won’t be available on the DC Comics website for another couple of hours yet, but BuzzFeed has the lovely and entertaining first look at the comic by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs. It’s Damian Wayne vs. trick-or-treaters! What more could you want?
As we reported on Tuesday, new installments of the serial — it’s appropriately titled “The Calendar of Small Events” — will be released each month, keyed to specific holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years follow today’s Halloween chapter.
Keep reading for a glimpse of a pint-sized Halloween in Gotham City, and visit BuzzFeed to see more. The full chapter will be available for 99-cent download at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on the DC website.
DC Comics is expanding its digital-first initiative Wednesday with Li’l Gotham, a monthly serial featuring Dustin Nguyen’s popular chibi-esque renditions of Batman’s friends and foes. Nguyen’s frequent collaborate Derek Fridolfs will co-write.
The story, called “The Calendar of Small Events,” is holiday-themed, with the first installment tied to Halloween. Subsequent chapters will center around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.
“This has been a passion project of mine for some time now, and for anyone that’s followed my work, I’m sure it’s more of an ‘its about time!’” Nguyen told DC’s The Source. “The look and style is a slight departure from my usual (think the exact opposite of serious), but the idea has always been the same — to take our favorite existing Gotham characters, place them in fun scenarios without having to be tied to just one continuity or look and feel. It’s basically a Batman book for fans, by two huge fans.”
This Thursday, September 20, marks the release of writer Jeff Parker and artist Gabriel Hardman‘s standalone story for the digital-first Legends of the Dark Knight out-of-continuity Batman series. I actually found out a few months ago that Parker and Hardman were taking a dip in the DC Comics pool with this story “Gotham Spirit.” As an unabashed supporter of the storytellers, I begged for a chance to interview the two of them. Parker and Hardman agreed, but only with the stipulation it would be a different kind of interview, one in which the subjects guided the discussion. As with many of Parker’s ideas, I found this to be a great concept and I expect you will agree. Thanks to the creators for the interview — and to DC for allowing Robot 6 to show a few preview panels.
Ben Abernathy, who left DC Comics last week after more than a decade with the company — most recently as digital editor — has joined Madefire, the innovative motion-comics company launched last year by Ben Wolstenholme, Liam Sharp and Eugene Walden.
“About two years ago Ben [Wolstenholme] and I realized there would be a point very early on where Madefire needed a full-time editor – if all went to plan!” Sharp tells ComicBooked.com. “We started to draft a wish-list – and it barely got past one! Ben Abernathy!”
Abernathy, who worked briefly for Dark Horse and Marvel, was senior editor of WildStorm until the imprint was closed in 2010 amid a corporate restructuring and he was moved with other staff to DC’s West Coast digital division. “… Ultimately, the industry is heading to a predominantly digital delivery and that’s not a reflection whatsoever on the direct market or the print publishers–it’s just a reality based on technology and the evolving audience,” Abernathy says in a Q&A on the Madefire website. “From the position I held at DC, I had the opportunity to see some of the reading tools being developed for the industry, and from the moment I saw Madefire’s work, I could tell they were ahead of the curve. Way ahead. And you’re right: I wouldn’t be answering these questions if I didn’t believe that 100 percent and wasn’t committed to doing everything possible to help facilitate this next step.”