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Grumpy Old Fan | New 52, week 1: These boots are made for leaping

Static Shock #1

It was the strangest thing — when I woke up this morning I was younger, single, and most of my clothes had high collars and funky seams….

Okay, let’s cut that out right now. Don’t worry, I’m still middle-aged and married, with the same beat-up wardrobe. However, I have read all but one of this week’s New-52 books, and now I get to share them with you. (The local comics shop got shorted on Batwing #1, which is too bad, because as one of the few sort-of new concepts being offered, I was especially looking forward to it. Next week for sure!) Generally I thought most had at least some potential, and I was mostly impressed with the efforts the various creative teams made. Of course, that doesn’t mean I liked everything, but I did like more than I thought I would.

Onward–!

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DC’s mainstream push for New 52: Diversity, digital and detectives

Batwing #1

DC Comics continues its promotional assault in the press to push “The New 52″ to a mainstream audience, with the theme this week, apparently, being diversity. At least four stories this week — three of which were posted Wednesday — tackled the subject and put the spotlight on Static Shock, Batwing and more. Here are some of the highlights:

• The Huffington Post previewed the first issue of Judd Winick and Ben Oliver’s Batwing yesterday, the same day it arrived in shops. Winick spoke to Bryan Young about the origins of Africa’s Batman: “… if you consider that we’re coming from a starting place that this is a Batman who lost his parents to AIDS and was a boy soldier. That’s square one for us. In the first couple of pages Batwing is talking about the fact that one of the things Batman has to do is instill fear. And Batwing points out that he’s not really sure that a man dressed up as a bat is really going to scare the average criminal in Africa. Batman just tells him that ‘you’re just going to have to sell it.’ And that’s the point, it’s a different world.” An unabridged version of the interview can be found at Big Shiny Robot.

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New 52 Pickup | Week 2

It’s finally here: The first full week of DC’s New 52 brought 13 brand-new titles – only the tip of the iceberg as September progresses. If the quality of this week’s books is any indication of the rest of the New 52, there will be some very difficult cuts to make at the end of the month.

From now through the end of September, I’ll provide brief overviews of each book with the pull-list status at the end. With no further ado, it’s time to jump into Week 2 of the New 52! Prepare for a number of Bat-family books, the new JLI, Sgt. Rock for the modern age and more!

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

Animal Man
Written by Jeff Lemire with art by Travel Foreman

This book sets the benchmark for this week as to what a New 52 #1 should be. Jeff Lemire brings new life to Buddy Baker in an incredible story that both takes advantage of the character’s rich history and introduces new elements in the spirit of DC’s relaunch. Not only does Lemire give readers a welcome reintroduction to Animal Man with a stunning cliffhanger that will leave them wanting more, Travel Foreman’s interior pencils are gorgeous, only adding to the unique feel that Lemire gives this title. It’s a great first issue, and I can’t wait to read more. If I could read only one New 52 issue this week, this would be it.

Status: IN

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Comics A.M. | Kids comic store opens; the ‘I have a girlfriend in Canada’ of sales analysis

Little Island Comics

Retailers | Little Island Comics — “the first kids comic book store in North America–maybe even the world” — opens its doors today in Toronto. The store is owned and operated by The Beguiling, and is located around the corner from the flagship store. The store will hold an official grand opening in a few weeks. [The Comics Reporter]

Publishing | DC Comics co-publisher and Justice League artist Jim Lee discusses his work on DC’s flagship title, which came out in digital form last Wednesday, the same day it hit comic shops. “It’s also setting records digitally. I can’t give numbers, but on the first day it set a record for us,” Lee tells Heidi MacDonald.

That leads Tom Spurgeon to throw a flag on the play: “… it looks like DC won’t be releasing its New 52 digital numbers but will feel confident in making claims on their behalf. It also looks like comics sites will then repeat this claim as news, perhaps qualified by source or as a claim but still putting that information out there. This should stop. I think DC has a really dubious history with using the hidden portions of their numbers to PR advantage — call it the ‘I have a girlfriend in Canada’ of sales analysis. My take is that this practice has intensified slightly ever since the numbers have become smaller and therefore more crucial. When in the 1990s sales on mainstream comics dipped to the point where people questioned the profitability of certain issues of certain titles, perhaps leading to a line of analysis about mainstream publishers making books at a loss for market share advantages or to knock other comics from the limited stand space, we were sometimes assured that there were sales elsewhere we didn’t know about that pushed certain comics over this projected threshold.” [Salon, The Comics Reporter]

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What Are You Reading?

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 3 Century #2

It’s time once again for another round of What Are You Reading?, kids. Today we welcome special guest Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, creator of Necessary Monsters, The Last Sane Cowboy and more.

To see what Daniel and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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‘The New 52 and You,’ and the dreaded R-word

Action Comics #1

If there are any lingering concerns that DC Comics’ sweeping September relaunch — re-branded this week as “The New 52″ — is actually a reboot, the publisher is working doggedly to stomp them out, tackling the issue head on this morning in an email to retailers.

Titled “The New 52 and You,” the message from Senior Vice President-Sales Bob Wayne wades into the thorny issues of continuity, devoting three of the email’s 10 “general” questions specifically to why the initiative isn’t the dreaded R-word. It’s familiar territory for Wayne, who insisted to those same retailers in early June what the New DCU is not. “It is not a ‘reboot,’” he wrote at the time. “I think you will soon discover why that is.”

Why that is, Wayne now explains, is that “a reboot is typically a restart of the story or character that jettisons away everything that happened previously.” That probably amounts to hair-splitting, if not a convenient redefinition of the term, but okay.

“This is a new beginning which builds off the best of the past,” he continues. “For the stories launching as new #1s in September, we have carefully hand-selected the most powerful and pertinent moments in these characters’ lives and stories to remain in the mythology and lore. And then we’ve asked the best creators in the industry to modernize, update and enhance the books with new and exciting tales. The result is that we retained the good stuff, and then make it better.”

The same argument probably could have been put forward in 1986, with the conclusion of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which restarted characters like Superman and Wonder Woman, wiped others out of existence and left still others relatively untouched (but caused many, many problems down the road; see Wonder Girl, Justice League and Justice Society history and the All-Star Squadron, for starters). Similarly, 1994′s Zero Hour scrapped Legion of Super-Heroes continuity, monkeyed with the various Hawkman characters, and changed aspects of Batman’s and Catwoman’s origins while leaving the most powerful and pertinent moments in these characters’ lives.

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Joker breaks out the crowbar (again) in Detective Comics #881

A sequence from Detective Comics #881, by Jock

Last night Jock offered a sneak peek at “some Joker business” from August’s Detective Comics #881, the conclusion of his well-regarded run on the series with writer Scott Snyder, and the final issue before DC Comics’ big line-wide relaunch. It’s “the issue everyone will be talking about,” the publisher promises. That may be hyperbole, of course. But it also may be because Jock’s snapshot of a crowbar-wielding Joker harks back to a 22-year-old scene from Batman #427 that didn’t turn out so well for the character on the receiving end. Oh, sure, Jason Todd got better; it just took him 15 years.

Check out the original sequence after the break. Detective Comics #881 hits shelves on Aug. 10.

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DC relaunch scorecard: DCnU or DC No?

Green Lantern #1, by Dave Johnson

Although it seems like DC’s big relaunch announcement came out an eternity ago, it actually took the publisher less than two weeks to roll out the 52 titles and their creative teams for the big relaunch/reboot/overhaul coming in September. Now that the cats are out of their respective bags, I thought I’d see where various creators and characters will land after the reboot.

So I went back through DC’s August solicitations to see who was writing or drawing what, and tried to map everyone to their post-relaunch project — if they had one. However, looking at DC’s August solicitations, there seem to be several fill-in issues, so where appropriate I tried to map the most recent ongoing creative teams to their new projects (for instance, I consider Gail Simone and Jesus Saiz the regular creative team for Birds of Prey, even if they aren’t doing the last two issues before September hits). Keep in mind that I just went through the ongoing series and skipped over all the miniseries … of which there are a lot, what with Flashpoint winding up in August.

It’s also worth noting that although several creators didn’t appear in the “big 52″ announcements, that doesn’t mean their tenure with DC is necessarily over — some, like Frazer Irving, have said they have future projects that haven’t been announced. So I tried to note where creators have talked publicly about their post-relaunch plans with DC (or lack thereof, as the case may be). The same could probably be said for some of DC’s characters as well. Or, as Gail Simone said on Twitter: “Again, September is NOT THE END. There’s still plans for characters that we haven’t seen yet.”

So let’s get to it ….

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DC reveals details about the relaunched Batman line

Ceçi n'est pas un Batman

Ceçi n'est pas un Batman

DC spent the day rolling out announcements about the Batman books in anticipation of its line-wide September relaunch…with one conspicuous absence until the very end.

So, Bruce Wayne is reclaiming sole possession of the mantle of the Bat, while Batman and Detective Comics are swapping creators: Batman writer/artist Tony Daniel will be taking over Detective Comics, while ‘Tec writer Scott Snyder is taking over Batman with artist Greg Capullo of Spawn fame. Both books will star Bruce Wayne rather than his protege and stand-in Dick Grayson beneath the cape and cowl.

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Will Archie relaunch their classic characters as well?

The big news of the week is that DC is planning a massive relaunch of its characters. Is something similar in the works at Archie Comics?

Before you scoff, take a look at Archie & Friends Night at the Comic Shop, which came out in trade paperback form last month. (There’s a short preview at the link.) The plot is simplicity itself: A meteor hits Pep Comics, the local comics shop, and somehow this causes a ton of vintage comics characters to come to life, escape from their pages, and wreak havoc all over Riverdale. If this were one or two characters, it might work, but with about 30 or so, it just ends up as a jumble, with the regular cast interacting with a different character in every panel.

What is interesting about this book, however, is that all the characters once appeared in actual comics published by MLJ Comics, which later became Archie Comics, in the 1940s and 1950s. The back of the book includes a guide to the “MLJ Universe,” and what a universe it is! The Archie brass have already reached into their IP vault and brushed the cobwebs off some of their old characters: They relaunched Li’l Jinx as the teenaged Jinx, they plan to give hard-boiled detective Sam Hill his own graphic novel line, and they occasionally sneak Cosmo the Merry Martian into a cover. Could more be on the way?

The difference between MLJ and DC, of course, is that the MLJ characters have been out of the public eye for a while, and some of them look their age. Still, here are a few of the characters I’d like to see come back to life, along with suggestions about how to do it.

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Jock unveils Joker pin-up for upcoming Detective Comics cover

With DC riding high on the news cycle given their plans to relaunch their superhero universe come September, leave it to none other than superstar artist Jock to show there’s still some great comics to look forward to between now and then.

Over on his always active twitter feed, Jock premiered a Joker cover presumed to be for an upcoming issue of his current series Detective Comics. What do you think?

Within 9 minutes Jock obtained over 25 retweets of this image, leading the artist to remark that he’s “NEVER had a response like that before. hit a nerve? maybe a funny bone….”

What Are You Reading?

Stumptown

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week’s guest is Alex Segura, executive director of publicity and marketing at Archie Comics. But we’ll always know him as the guy who founded The Great Curve, the blog that would one day morph into Robot 6.

To see what Alex and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below …

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Francisco Francavilla’s 1930s-era Batman

Artist Francisco Francavilla has been tearing up the comics scene as of late. He’s balancing two ongoing gigs on the Big Two’s dark super-heroes — Batman in Detective Comics for DC and Black Panther: The Man Without Fear at Marvel — and still keeps up a healthy sideline of pin-ups, cover work and some great art online.

The above piece of art is concept art for a pitch Francavilla says he’s been working on some time. At this point it’s speculative as to if this will ever see the lite of day in a published comic, but we can all dream … can’t we?

Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Welcome once again to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy based on certain spending limits — $15, $30 to spend and if we had extra money to spend on what we call the “Splurge” item. Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Emitown

Graeme McMillan

It’s a weird week for new releases, with everyone but Marvel taking it easy and pulling back on massive hauls in order to give our wallets a nice holiday break (unless you’re a Marvel completest, in which case, yowza. Look out). That said, if I had $15, I’d put it towards the special 200th issue of What If? ($4.99), the first issue of event tie-in Chaos War: X-Men ($3.99) because I’m curious how Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson handle Marvel’s version of Blackest Night, and the second issue of Scott Snyder and Jock’s Detective Comics run (#872, $3.99), because I was really happily surprised by how much I enjoyed the first.

If I had $30, I’d put Chaos War and What If? back on the shelf, and get Emitown ($24.99) instead. I’ve heard really great things about this print collection of Emi Lenox’s autobio webcomic, and I like the idea of seeing 2011 in by discovering a new cartoonist to love.

Splurging, I’d go back to Marvel, with the brand new Ka-Zar collection by Mark Waid and Andy Kubert ($19.99). I missed out on this series back in the 1990s, but as a fan of both fish-out-of-water stories and Mark Waid stories, something tells me that this might be right up my street.

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Chaos War: Alpha Flight #1

Welcome to another installment of “Food or Comics?” Every week we set certain hypothetical spending limits on ourselves and go through the agony of trying to determine what comes home and what stays on the shelves. So join us as we run down what comics we’d buy if they only had $15 and $30 to spend, as well as what we’d get if we had some “mad money” to splurge with.

Check out Diamond’s full release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Michael May

If I had $15:

I’d pick up Salimba ($9.99), because it’s Paul Chadwick drawing a jungle girl who fights pirates. Then I’d add Chaos War: Alpha Flight #1 ($3.99) to that pile. I’m a huge Alpha Flight fan and can’t wait to read about the original team’s new adventure, even if they are dead.

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