DC Comics' July Highlights: "Batgirl," "Nightwing" and a "New Super-Man"
Auctions | An original 1939 drawing of Tintin created by Herge for the cover of the weekly magazine Le Petit Vingtième sold Sunday for $673,468 at an auction of French and Belgian comics art held simultaneously in Paris and Brussels. The auction featured 101 works, of which 86 were purchased for a total of $2.4 million. [Agence France-Presse]
Auctions | A copy of The Hulk #181, featuring the first appearance of Wolverine, fetched $8,000 at an auction held Saturday at Back to the Past comics store in Redford, Michigan. [My Fox Detroit]
Retailing | System of a Down drummer John Dolmayan, who shuttered his online store Torpedo Comics in 2010 after about three years in business, is looking to open a brick-and-mortar shop. A brief story notes that while Las Vegas store Comic Oasis, owner Derrick Taylor is partnering with Dolmayan to open Torpedo Comics in January at 8775 Lindell Road, Building H, Suite 150. [Vegas Inc.]
With Thanksgiving this week, it was sheer coincidence that I ran across Doomsgiving, a Tumblr hashtag used by Washington-based cartoonist and writer “Calamity” Jon Morris to celebrate his affinity for the Doom Patrol.
Morris, who also posted Doomsgiving pieces last year (in addition to being involved in a variety of unique side projects well worth checking out), has penned The League of Regrettable Heroes: Half-Baked Heroes from Comic Book History, set for release in June 2015). There are plenty more of his illustrations to enjoy on his Tumblr and on Behance.
Fandom | Rachel Edidin attends a gathering of the Carol Corps, the group of mostly female Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel fans that has built a community around a shared interest. “It is not a formal organization,” says Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick. “There are no rules. People write and ask me all the time, ‘How do I join the Carol Corps?’ You join Carol Corps by saying you are Carol Corps. There is no test. You don’t have to buy anything. You don’t need to sign up anywhere. If you decide you are a part of this community, bam, you are. The other part of that is that if you decide you are a part of this community, you will be embraced and welcome.” [Wired]
Piracy | The Japanese government will consider several measures to fight online piracy of anime and manga in the next few months, while publishers are taking a if-you-can’t-beat-‘em-join-‘em approach by launching two free digital manga services, ComicWalker and Manga Box, to lure readers away from bootleg scanlation sites. [The Japan News]
Aw yeah! In my household, the best news from DC’s June solicitations is the six-issue Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse miniseries. I showed the cover to my 5-year-old and she was crestfallen to learn it didn’t come out for another three months. At least she can fill the time reading the other paperbacks (and Superman Family Adventures) and watching Frozen on an endless loop.
I may also have to get the Li’l Gotham figures, although at $13 a pop they are pretty pricey. Perhaps just Batman and Robin.
Oh, there’s more? What could it be …?
LET’S GO PLACES
The solicitation for Futures End #6 — advertising Ray Palmer, Frankenstein and Amethyst’s trip into the Phantom Zone — makes me irrationally optimistic about the series generally. I think the New 52 needs this series (or something like it) to present a coherent shared universe, because for the past two and a half years it’s been a clash of disparate styles and an array of changes without much to pull it all together. If Futures End can manage a good-sized, eclectic cast, and convince readers they’re all able to function in the same basic environment, that’ll go a long way towards giving the superhero books common ground.
Not a lot in DC Comics’ May solicitations really strikes me as “new.” That’s due partly to a lot of the new books being set to launch a month earlier. Generally, the superhero line continues to contract, while The New 52 — Futures End kicks off, the New 52 version of Doomsday keeps rampaging through the Superman titles, and Batman Eternal rolls on. Nevertheless, I do have the irrational sense that the line is gearing up for something even more significant, and will be adding new series over the next few months.
Still, if we’re to get excited about the regular fare, we may have to read between the solicitations’ lines — so let’s get on with it, shall we?
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A NEW 52 FOR THE NEW 52
And here it is, Futures End. Last year I wrote the New 52 needed its own version of 52, the year-long miniseries that spanned time and space to focus on the lesser lights of the superhero line. I talked about exploring the geography of the still-new shared universe, doing character studies, and essentially giving the reader a good sense of place and/or connection.
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.”
With a little more than two years under its belt, DC Comics’ New 52 still has plenty of corners left to explore and hundreds of characters of varying levels of popularity to re-introduce. (Where are you, Wally West?) So when I saw Celsius, Negative Woman and Tempest pop up in this week’s Justice League #24, I couldn’t help but smile a little.
Combined with the New 52 Robotman, who’s sporting a look very similar to the one Cliff Steele had when that version of the team debuted in 1977’s Showcase #94, we officially have Paul Kupperberg’s Doom Patrol joining the ever-growing ranks of “new” heroes opposing the seemingly all-powerful Crime Syndicate. But certainly more interesting than that, this panel, almost a throwaway, fills out the current DCU in a way we haven’t seen much since the early days of the relaunch.
Artist Ilias Kyriazis doesn’t say why his and Scott Lobdell’s pre-New 52 pitch for a Doom Patrol miniseries didn’t go anywhere, so while calling it “doomed” is technically correct, I’m not implying that it was shot down in any sort of malevolent way. There are many reasons that pitches and projects don’t get off the ground and, frankly, I’m not that interested in what most of those are. What I do love are cool, imaginative takes on familiar characters and this definitely falls into that category.
Kyriazis describes the concept this way:
With the end of Geoff Johns’ tenure on Green Lantern and Grant Morrison’s upcoming farewell to Batman, a fan’s thoughts turn naturally to other extended runs. Marv Wolfman wrote almost every issue of New (Teen) Titans from the title’s 1980 preview through its final issue in 1995. Cary Bates wrote The Flash fairly steadily from May 1971’s Issue 206 through October 1985’s first farewell to Barry Allen (Issue 350). Gerry Conway was Justice League of America’s regular writer for over seven years, taking only a few breaks from February 1978’s Issue 151 through October 1986’s Issue 255.
However, in these days of shorter stays, I wanted to examine some of the runs that, despite their abbreviated nature, left lasting impressions. At first this might sound rather simple. After all, there are plenty of influential miniseries-within-series, like “Batman: Year One” or “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?,” where a special creative team comes in to tell a particular story. Instead, sometimes a series’ regular creative team will burn brightly, but just too quickly, leaving behind a longing for what might have been.
A good example of this is found in Detective Comics #469-76, written by Steve Englehart, penciled by Marshall Rogers and inked by Terry Austin (after Walt Simonson penciled and Al Milgrom inked issues 469-70). Reprinted in the out-of-print Batman: Strange Apparitions paperback, and more recently (sans Simonson/Milgrom) in the hardcover Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers, these issues introduced Silver St. Cloud, Rupert Thorne, Dr. Phosphorus and the “Laughing Fish,” featured classic interpretations of Hugo Strange, the Penguin and the Joker, and revamped Deadshot into the high-tech assassin he remains today. Tying all these threads together is Bruce Wayne’s romance with Silver, which for my money is the Bat-books’ version of Casablanca. It’s the kind of much-discussed run that seems like it should have been longer. Indeed, I suspect it’s one of the shorter runs in CSBG’s Top 100 list.
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Back in July when Mark Waid announced that Thrillbent — his digital comics portal — would be ramping up to phase two (as detailed in CBR News Editor Kiel Phegley’s recent Waid interview), I hoped writer Tom Peyer would be part of the mix. Soon enough, I discovered that indeed Peyer was writing Clown Tales, a horror story set to launch this fall. The story should be interesting on many levels, given that this marks Peyer’s first foray into writing horror — and that clowns bored him as a child (as I learned in this interview). While I had Peyer’s attention I also asked him about getting to recently write for TV (on DC Nation/Cartoon Network’s Doom Patrol interstitials) and working for Stephen Colbert back in 2007. Added bonus, at one point Peyer taunts clowns in our discussion.
Tim O’Shea: Was Clown Tales already in the work before you signed onto Thrillbent, or was it developed just for the site?
Tom Peyer: A few years ago I wrote some short horror stories, mainly to see if I would enjoy it. A publisher was planning a clown horror anthology that didn’t end up happening, but I put clowns in some of them just in case. I’d written humor and superheroes, but I’d never gone near horror before. I had a great time and I liked how they came out. It felt like taking a new route to the humor and pathos I always try to write toward anyway. But it felt more direct, maybe because I hadn’t taken that route before.
The great strength of DC’s superhero line is its heterogeneity — that is, its history of bringing together different genre-based roots and different storytelling approaches. However, as the shared-universe model came to dominate superhero serials, DC’s various high sheriffs have tried to impose various kinds of order on these disparate perspectives. Starting in the Silver Age, the infinite Multiverse organized characters broadly, for example by generation (Earth-Two), publisher (Earth-X, Earth-S, Earth-Four), or special category (the Crime Syndicate’s Earth-Three, the Zoo Crew’s Earth-C). Crisis On Infinite Earths consolidated a lot of that, The Kingdom’s Hypertime sought unsuccessfully to reincorporate it, and 52 compromised with a scaled-back set of parallel Earths. Today, the New-52 setup still has a Multiverse, but the main DC-Earth has scaled back its superheroic history dramatically.
Details aside, though, each of these cosmological structures is an attempt to bring some deeper meaning to DC’s superhero line. Put simply, for a long time DC’s superhero books weren’t about something, whereas Marvel presented a “world outside your window” in which superpowers came with their own sets of problems. Thus, from the post-Crisis 1980s until the end of Flashpoint last summer, DC was arguably “about” superheroic legacies, and had no small success putting new faces with old names.
And again, those details are not especially germane to today’s post. Instead, I want to talk about the nature of DC’s various traditions, the extent to which those traditions should guide the publisher, and whether DC’s superhero books can, collectively, ever really be “about” anything.
Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
Strap yourself in, kids, because this is going to be a big one, as we run through the lengthy and considerable career of one of mainstream comics’ biggest stars, Grant Morrison.
I was going to open with some snotty Wow, the holidays went by super-quickly! comment, but then I read the first issue of Justice League in seven weeks. Sometimes DC gets ahead of itself; sometimes it’s a little behind. Happens to the best of us — sometimes you do two solicitation roundups in three weeks….
Anyway, with the January solicitations, the New-52 books each turn five issues old. Series wrapping up their first arcs this month include Blackhawks, Batwoman, Animal Man, and the Deadman feature in DC Universe Presents. (Not to worry about the latter, because there is a lot of Deadman in these solicits.) I’m not sure why five issues is such a wonky number for story arcs — there are five-issue miniseries all the time and they collect just fine. Still, I expected most of the New-52 books to take six issues for their introductory stories, and most of them may yet do that. Only a few books look to finish their first arcs after December’s issue #4s (Hawkman and Frankenstein, probably OMAC, maybe Batgirl), and those plus this month’s are barely an eighth of the relaunched line. It makes next month’s solicits more intriguing, I suppose.
Regardless, we live in the now (as it were…) so — onward to January!
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Legal | Stan Lee’s Guardian Project, introduced last year at New York Comic Con, has sparked a lawsuit from a Hollywood manager who claims he was cut out of the venture, which transformed National Hockey League mascots into superheroes.
In the lawsuit, filed last week in Los Angeles Superior Court, Adam Asherson contends the project, now co-owned by NBC Universal, dates back to 2003, when he was introduced to the idea by fellow manager Anthony Chargin and Chargin’s client Jake Shapiro. Asherson, who had a relationship with Lee, says he suggested the legendary comics writer would be the “perfect” partner for the endeavor. They pitched Lee on the project, called Defenders, which focused on the National Football League, with plans to expand to Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the NHL. For unspecified reasons, the NFL deal never came together. However, six years later The Guardian Project emerged with the involvement of Chargin, Shapiro and Lee — but without Asherson.
Asherson claims Guardian Media Entertainment, SLG Entertainment, Chargin and Shapiro have breach an oral joint-venture agreement, committed promissory estoppel and fraud, and breach fiduciary duties by leaving him out of the NHL agreement. [Hollywood, Esq.]
News of The Flash’s cancellation has led to speculation that the title, whenever it returns, will pick up its original numbering. Considering that Wonder Woman was renumbered last year to reflect the accumulation of all its various incarnations, and Adventure Comics resumed its original numbering as well, Flash might not be the last title DC renumbers.
Today I’ll look at Flash and several other DC titles which could get this treatment in the next several years.
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First, though, let’s consider Wonder Woman. Last year, the 45th issue of WW Vol. 3 was dubbed issue #600, thereby implicitly treating the current series and its predecessor as direct continuations of the original 1942 series. The math was pretty straightforward: Vol. 1 went to issue #329, and vol. 2 went to #226, so that left the 600th issue to vol. 3’s 45th. (329+226+45 = 600.) Volume 2 did have two irregularly-numbered issues, #0 (part of 1994’s “Zero Month,” which the rest of us called August), and #1,000,000 (for DC One Million, naturally).