REVIEW: "Avengers: Age of Ultron" is a Lot of Fun, a Little Flawed, and Whedon All the Way
Comic Books, Film
DC Comics’ new logo was officially unveiled this morning, followed by the release of mockups showing how the “peel” design would appear on digital devices, collected editions and single issues. However, a closer look at the latter reveals a comics conundrum: a New 52 cover for Batman, with the current creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, is labeled as Issue 708, while George Perez’s Superman #1 cover is numbered somewhere between #700 and #709 (it’s partially obscured, making it difficult to tell). Here’s the thing — despite the New 52 covers, both of those issues were published before the New 52 was announced in July 2011.
Batman #708 was printed in March 2011 during David Hine and Guillem March’s run on the book. Any issue of Superman that begins with “#70_” would had to have been somewhere between June 2010 and March 2011, spanning J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Roberson’s runs. Assuming these are the numberings from March 2011, that would mean the final two issues should be Green Lantern #64 and Wonder Woman #609. Could this be a sign of the New 52 numbering being a last-minute change for DC? Or maybe DC wasn’t letting the outside firm in on its relaunch plans, which could indicate this logo has been in development since well before March.
Then again, it could just be a coincidence, but it is an odd oversight to present a new logo with numberings from issues that hit stores 10 months ago.
Whatever the case, it brings us to the question why the company didn’t roll out its new brand identity in late August, when it relaunched its entire line, or even last month, when it published a mammoth hardcover collecting all 52 first issues – one that now rests on shelves sporting the nearly seven-year-old “swoosh.”
DC’s “peel” logo will make its comics debut in March, when most of the covers presumably will bear the number 7.
Nearly five months after the debut of DC Comics’ “New 52,” the Washington, D.C., Fox affiliate has taken aim at the “edgy makeover,” zeroing in on the controversial first issues of Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws.
For the Fox report, titled “Relaunched Comics Using Sex and Violence to Sell” on the affiliate’s website, correspondent Sherri Ly turns to child psychologist Neil Bernstein, who characterizes the much-discussed sex scene between Batman and Catwoman as, “sort of like a fictionalized Playboy for kids at its worst.”
He goes on to suggest the comic may pose a danger to young readers, as overexposure to sex and violence could encourage aggression. Yes, really. “I think too many kids would be put in harm’s way or at risk,” he said.
Bernstein also dissects Red Hood and the Outlaws #1, in which Starfire propositions Roy Harper for sex, later saying, “Love has nothing to do with it.” “We want our kids to think sex is an act between two consenting mature individuals who care deeply for one another,” he says. “That doesn’t really come across and it’s too easily to misconstrue things particularly for a kid.”
Internet | Sandman co-creator Neil Gaiman joined with Trent Reznor, Aziz Ansari, OK Go and 14 other members of the creative community in signing an open letter to Congress against the PROTECT IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act. “We fear that the broad new enforcement powers provided under SOPA and PIPA could be easily abused against legitimate services like those upon which we depend. These bills would allow entire websites to be blocked without due process, causing collateral damage to the legitimate users of the same services – artists and creators like us who would be censored as a result,” the letter states.
Warren Ellis and Fantagraphics have also come out against the bill, while Peter David, who is against the bill in its current form, takes aim at those who “endorsed the piracy, supported the piracy, enabled the piracy, felt their own actions weren’t piracy, and now refuse to accept the consequences of their own actions.” ComicsAlliance has posted an editorial against the bill and rounded up webcomic reactions to the blackout. [NeilGaiman.com]
During the promotional push for DC Comics’ “New 52″ relaunch, executives stressed steps were being taken to prevent late-shipping titles. We’ve already seen evidence of that commitment in the use of fill-in artists and some creative assists, but now it looks as if one of its titles is missing a beat — and it’s the biggest title the company has.
Justice League #5 was scheduled for release Jan. 18, according to the Previews catalog as well as the publisher’s own website, but recent information from Diamond Comic Distributors suggests it won’t make that date.
Although a late title clearly isn’t unheard of, this one is intriguing for two reasons: first, because it’s the flagship of DC’s “New 52,” and second, because the creators involved, writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee, are also company executives who, at least indirectly, oversee the line editors whose responsibility it is to make sure books ship on time. It’s important to note the reason for the lateness can’t be connected to Johns or Lee; the blame could fall on any step of the production chain.
For the most part, news that DC Comics is canceling six titles from the initial New 52 didn’t come as much of a shock — with one possible exception. The critically acclaimed O.M.A.C. by Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen is marked for cancellation with Issue 8, alongside the other fledgling series whose sales have foundered.
While DC Comics Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras expounded on both the “Second Wave” of the New 52 and the reason for the cancellations, the fact remains that, month-to-month, O.M.A.C. has been a consistent all-star in reviews, even going so far as to be the No. 52 title on CBR’s Top 100 Comics of 2011.
Wait … No. 52? Fifty-two as in, “The New 52″?
Whether it was dumb luck or a harbinger of things to come, that is indeed the slot O.M.A.C. took in CBR’s Top 100 of 2011, a fitting piece of offbeat trivia for one of the quirkiest books of the DC relaunch.
“With all these books, and this is where I’m going to sound corny, every book we put out, we want to succeed. Every book is kind of like a child, you want it to work. Books like O.M.A.C., yes, I loved O.M.A.C., and you know the hard work that goes into that. Unfortunately, sometimes these books don’t find the audience you were hoping they would. We knew from the beginning, when we created the New 52, some of these books that we were discussing earlier, there was always the discussion of replacement titles if something was not performing to the extent where we’d like it to be. It’s always unfortunate when something doesn’t work out the way you’d like. It doesn’t mean these characters are going to go away. One thing I really think is exciting is you will see O.M.A.C. land in another book. You will see Hawk and Dove land in another title. This is the fourth time I’ve used this term, so again I apologize, but we are world-building. These characters, even if their books are going way, they are still part of the DC story. We’ll still be seeing them.”
Digital comics | Geoff Johns explains how digital presentation made him re-evaluate his approach to writing Aquaman #1, as digital readers focus on stories panel by panel rather than page by page. He notes that they also spend more time on individual panels, taking in all the details before moving on: “It’s weird to go back and look at some of the old comics now. If you read something in this fashion you will notice stuff that you skipped over so quickly because your eye takes in the whole page instead of the panel individually. I think that’s probably one of the biggest advantages of digital.” Johns also reveals digital considerations have also led him to scale back on internal dialogue to “let the art and characters expressions speak for themselves.” [Variety]
Digital comics | On a related note, Shaun Huston ponders the challenges of making “comics as we know them” work on digital devices: “While there’s some latitude to read full pages on the iPad, and the Fire at 4.7” x 7.5” (or the Nooks) affords that option more realistically than the iPhone or similarly-sized devices, in all of these cases there will be situations where most readers will shift to Guided View in order to effectively see some particular detail on a page. For many, Guided View will be the primary choice, which is a qualitatively different experience than reading page-by-page. In fact, while in that mode, ‘the page’ arguably becomes irrelevant as panels are strung together into one linear sequence, rather than into a series of page-specific sequences.” [PopMatters]
Batman and Detective Comics will expand to 40 pages beginning in April, a move that brings with it back-up stories and a price increase from $2.99 to $3.99, DC Comics announced over the weekend.
Batman #8 will see writer Scott Snyder re-team with American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque for the first in a series of back-up stories examining the history of the Court of Owls, the shadowy organization that has plagued the Dark Knight and Gotham City in the first arc of the relaunched comic. Co-written by James Tynion IV, the stories also dovetail into “The Night of the Owls,” a crossover that will launch in May and run through all of DC’s Bat-books.
“The first backup, in issue eight will give a sense of the terrifying scope of the Court of Owls’ attack on Gotham. This really will be the first shot in a war for the soul of Gotham City,” Snyder wrote this morning on DC’s Source blog. “And then, starting in issue nine, we’ll begin a three part story called ‘The Fall of the House of Wayne’ that will investigate the secret history of the Court of Owls and its relationship to the Wayne family – particularly to Thomas and Martha Wayne, Bruce’s parents. The story will be told from the point of view of Jarvis Pennyworth, Alfred’s father, and offer some big surprises and shocks about the forces that shaped the bat-mythology as we know it. Can’t wait for you all to see these stories!”
In a pair of interviews with Newsarama and ICv2, DC’s Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Business Development John Rood and Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne also revealed Detective and Green Lantern will join Action Comics, Batman and Justice League as “combo pack” titles, meaning that for $1 more, readers receive a redemption code allowing them to download a digital version of the comics, leaving the print editions “pristine.”
Check out Albuquerque’s Batman sketches below.
Publishing | Four months in, the DC Comics relaunch seems to be a success. The most recent sales figures show Justice League #1 selling more than 360,000 copies since August, and Batman #1 and Action Comics #1 selling more than 250,000. By contrast, Marvel’s strongest seller was Ultimate Spider-Man #160, which was in the 160,000-copy neighborhood. These figures seem to reflect sales in the direct market only; it would be interesting to see how many digital copies have been sold. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Awards | Nominations are open for this year’s Eagle Awards. [Eagle Awards]
Retailing | San Francisco retailer Brian Hibbs shares the top-selling graphic novels in his store for 2011, by units and by dollars. [Savage Critics]
Retailing | Christopher Butcher looks back on the events of the past year in the comics store he manages, Toronto’s The Beguiling. [The Beguiling blog]
Wired’s GeekDad and Underwire blogs have an exclusive first look at Action Comics #5 which, as teased in the issue’s solicitation text, takes us back to doomed Krypton for some “keys facts about Superman’s past” — not the least of which is the apparent fate of Krypto. If you don’t want to know that last detail, you probably shouldn’t click the second link.
Action Comics #5, which features a main story by Grant Morrison, Andy Kubert and Jesse Delperdang, and a backup story by Sholly Fisch and ChrisCross, arrives Jan. 4.
Retailing | In the wake of the August closing of the Atomic Comics chain, Mesa, Arizona-area retailers are searching for ways to diversify in an attempt to keep their own stores afloat. Mike Banks, owner of Samurai Comics, has even opened a new location next to Atomic’s former flagship store to serve customers who suddenly found themselves without a comics shop. [East Valley Tribune]
Creators | Mike Mignola talks about his plans for next year’s Hellboy in Hell: “It’s a personal story about him, but with huge ramifications for the structure of Hell. I’m trying to get Hellboy free of the giant, Beast-of-the-Apocalypse storyline. That story has to get bigger before it can be put away. This first arc is the culmination of all the prophecy crap I’ve been trotting out throughout the years. We put a lot of things to bed.” Mignola also discusses his plans for B.P.R.D. and why he can’t watch the pilot of The Amazing Screw-On Head. [io9]
Creators | Tom Spurgeon continues his holiday interview series with a lengthy chat with Jeff Parker that spans his early comics-reading experiences, the influence of his artistic background on his writing, and his career at Marvel. [The Comics Reporter]
“DC extended the terms of their returnability Ponzi scheme for two more months. Until we get to a month in which retailers are ordering straight up, without needing to hit unrealistic numbers in order to qualify for returnability, you guys looking at the limited and skewed charts that you get to see aren’t going to be able to see what is clear to those of us who get to see the actual numbers and track the day-to-day week-to-week sales flow of the business.”
– Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing, responding to a question on his always-interesting Formspring account about when, in his view, the Diamond charts will accurately reflect sales of DC Comics’ New 52 titles
Comics | Matt Pizzolo discusses the Occupy Comics project, which raised more than $28,000 on Kickstarter: “The way the money is allocated is actually through the individual contributors. The artists and writers are all paid a proportional share of the revenue based on the number of pages they provide versus the total number of pages in the book, but all of the artists and writers are agreeing to donate that money to the protesters. Most contributors want to donate as a group to get the most bang for their buck, but they don’t have to — anyone can just take their share and hand it to the protesters at their local park if they want.” [The Morton Report]
Comics | Todd Allen compares the relative positions of DC’s New 52 titles in November with their September rankings; the November orders reflect the adjustments retailers made after seeing how the different titles sold in September. The results: Animal Man shot up by 10 slots, The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men sank by eight, but most titles only moved a few notches up or down. [The Beat]
Each Wednesday, DC’s New 52 hits shelves and CBR Staff Writer Steve Sunu is looking for the best bang for the buck in ongoing series. Cutting half his pull list each month from the original 52 in a battle royale, Steve has already narrowed the number to just 13 books. Which titles will make it past Issue 3?
It’s a Happy Thanksgiving for comics fans as we get our new comics right before a feast of turkey and other awesome food – but the end of every month for the New 52 on my pull list, something has to say goodbye. This installment will give an overview of the last six #3 issues on my pull and make the cuts down to the elite eight moving on to next month.
These two weeks included two of the wildcard picks: All-Star Western and Batman. Plus, DC’s flagship Justice League picks up speed and Aquaman gets some love from the local police force…kind of.
Warning! Spoilers ahead!
Written by Scott Snyder with art by Greg Capullo
Scott Snyder is killing it on this book, and the end of every issue makes me want to read more. The mastery of the cliffhanger here isn’t just the explosion at the end, but the revelation of information involving the Court of Owls and that they’ve been right under Batman’s nose for years. I’m really enjoying Snyder’s take on the Dark Knight here–it’s got a good balance of action and detective skills that really give a well-rounded picture of both Bruce Wayne and Batman. For some reason, though, I wasn’t as thrilled with Greg Capullo’s pencils here as I was in previous issues. It’s possible that it’s because the bulk of the book took place with Bruce Wayne and Lincoln having a conversation in a hospital room, but other than that, this was a fantastic issue.
Awards | Stan Lee will receive the Producers Guild of America’s 2012 Vanguard Award recognizing achievement in new media and technology. “Stan Lee’s creative vision and imagination has produced some of the most beloved and visually stunning characters and adventures in history,” Producers Guild Awards co-chairs Paula Wagner and Michael Manheim said in a joint statement. “He not only has created content that will forever be in our culture but continues to make strides in the digital and new media realms, keeping the comic book industry fresh and exciting. Stan’s accomplishments truly encompass the spirit of the Vanguard Award and we are proud to honor him.” George Lucas and John Lasseter are among the award’s previous recipients. [press release]