Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
I wonder… is there an equivalent to Glen Weldon’s Superman: The Unauthorized Biography that tracks the 80-year career of Flash Gordon? Only, instead of tracing society’s shifting tastes in authority figures, it instead contextualizes the spirit of athleticism over its eight-decade lifespan.
When Alex Raymond launched the comic strip in 1934, Flash was a polo player. Flash forward (heh heh) to the 1980 movie, and he’s a quarterback for the New York Jets. During the ’90s, the Flash Gordon animated series introduced the character as a skateboarding enthusiast; he’s a track-and-field star in the Syfy series … which isn’t exactly the coolest sport, but an appropriate one in a world that’s become conscious of concussions and other injuries
Dynamite Entertainment’s new Flash Gordon, written by Jeff Parker and illustrated by Evan Shaner and Jordie Bellaire, casts the title character as an extreme sports aficionado. It’s a little out of date: Flash is introduced doing a dangerous bungee jump off a bridge, reminiscent of a similar scene in the Vin Diesel movie xXx (the most extreme spy, dude, way cooler than that lame-o James Bond). Still, it does establish something crucial about Flash: The world is far too tame for his wild, adventurous spirit. Flash gets a slap in the face and a stern, parental warning to stop with his childish garbage (one imagines the frequently bare-chested Alex Raymond Flash would have instead been applauded). Is there a place for him somewhere that isn’t totally lame?
Legal | Mohammad Hassan Khalid was sentenced last week in Philadelphia to five years in prison for his part in a failed 2009 plan to kill Lars Vilks, the Swedish cartoonist who drew the head of the Prophet Mohammed on the body of a dog. Khalid, now 20, was a teenager and an honors student when he became involved with Colleen LaRose, aka “Jihad Jane,” who in January was sentenced to 10 years in prison for her part in the plot. Prosecutors pointed to the fact that Khalid also translated violent jihad videos into English, which may have helped recruit new terrorists, but they also asked for leniency because he cooperated with them after his arrest. The defense claimed he was simply a vulnerable, awkward teenager who has since been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Khalid, who had been offered a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins University but was arrested before graduating from high school, will get credit for the three years he has already served in prison. [Reuters]
Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out. So let’s take a look at the last seven days in comics …
Passings | Eisner Hall of Fame nominee Fred Kida has died at the age of 93. Kida was an active comics artist for almost 50 years; he got his start drawing Airboy for Hillman Comics in about 1940 and went on to work for Lev Gleason and then Marvel. He assisted Will Eisner occasionally on The Spirit and also drew a number of newspaper strips, including Flash Gordon and The Amazing Spider-Man. “He was a good, dependable artist who drew beautiful women, handsome heroes and some of the ugliest villains in comics,” said Mark Evanier. [News from ME]
Publishing | ICv2 has a two-part interview with Dynamite Entertainment CEO Nick Barrucci, who has plenty to say about variant covers, the launch of Twilight Zone and Legenderry, their Gold Key properties, and what’s coming in the year ahead. [ICv2]
Passings | Award-winning science fiction and fantasy author Lucius Shepard, whose work included Life During Wartime and The Jaguar Hunter, passed away March 18. He was 66. Shepard ventured into comics writing on a few occasions, with the series Vermillion, part of DC Comics’ short-lived Helix imprint, and with contributions to Vertigo anthologies Gangland and Flinch. [Tor.com, BoingBoing]
Creators | American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque talks about the upcoming “Second Cycle” of the Vertigo series, which returns after a hiatus of more than a year. [Hero Complex]
Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about, as it says above, “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out. So without further ado, let’s get to it …
One of Jack Kirby’s less-remembered sci-fi creations, Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers, will be revived in July with a Dynamite Entertainment series by writer Joe Casey and a lineup of artists that includes Farel Dalrymple, Nathan Fox, Michel Fiffe, Jim Rugg and Jim Mahfood.
Dynamite previously published the six-issue miniseries Jack Kirby: Genesis — Captain Victory in 2011-2012.
Inspired by the 2007 Marvel/Dynamite Entertainment crossover Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness, director/editor Brian Rosenthal and his co-writer Eli David have crafted a short film that begins with Peter Parker, Gwen Stacey and a mysterious bag on the eve of the zombie outbreak … and then turns into something else. Namely, a showdown between Ash Williams and an undead Wolverine.
Conventions | WonderCon organizers have announced that next year’s show, set for April 18-20, will again be held in Anaheim, California. This will be the third year for the event at that location, after having been uprooted from its longtime home at San Francisco’s Moscone Center first because of remodeling and now because of scheduling conflicts. [Los Angeles Times]
Publishing | Nick Barrucci, CEO and publisher of Dynamite Entertainment, looks back on 10 years in the business, and discusses some upcoming comics, including J. Michael Straczynski’s Twilight Zone and the new kids’ line Li’l Dynamites. [Previews World]
Conventions | A even bigger obstacle than the San Diego Chargers to the proposed $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center could be the California Coastal Commission, which must approve the project before it can proceed (the stage agency has regulatory oversight of land use and public access to the California coastal zone). The commission’s 11 members are meeting today through Friday in Mission Valley, where they’re expected to consider staff objections about reduced access to the bay; a bridge, estimated to cost about $42 million, from the foot of Fourth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter has been floated as a solution. A public hearing is being held Thursday. The expansion of the convention center is viewed as critical to keeping Comic-Con International in the city past 2015. [U-T San Diego]
Pandasaurus, the Austin, Texas-based publisher of such tabletop games as Yedo, New Amsterdam and Tammany Hall, will oversee design, production and distribution for the new division.
“We’re well known for diversity at IDW, in the world of entertainment and comics,” IDW CEO & Publisher Ted Adams said in a statement.“With all of the great properties we publish, it seemed natural that a lot of them would make fantastic games. We’ve found the perfect partner in Pandasaurus Games to help us make that happen.”
According to ICv2, 30 Days of Night — based on the IDW cornerstone franchise created by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith — “will be an intense, story-driven, survival horror game,” while Kill Shakespeare — based on the comic created by Anthony Del Col, Conor McCreery and Andy Belanger — “will be a semi-cooperative ‘gamers game'” designed by Thomas Vande Ginste and Wolf Plancke (Yedo).
News of IDW Games arrives only days after Dynamite Entertainment announced the creation of Dynamite Toys and Games, a division devoted to the manufacture of action figures, board games, novelty products and more.
In case you didn’t notice, Comic-Con International happened last weekend. As always, it was an epic affair with tons of announcements, stunts and surprises. Amid cannons firing, actors dressing up as themselves, and big movie plans, there were also a good number of genuine surprises from comics.
Usually I end up picking a winner of Comic-Con, but after Dynamite Entertainment flooded the air waves with announcements the days before the event, no one else seemed to stand out as the clear winner. It’s not that everyone slacked off, however: They brought a good variety of interesting and exciting projects, and a number of standout announcements made my ears perk up. So instead of declaring a winner, I’m going to run down my Top 6 Comic-Con surprises in comics.
Before I start, though, two publishers deserve a little recognition for serious contenders for the Comic-Con crown. Top Shelf Productions classed up the joint by bringing in Congressman John Lewis for the debut of his graphic novel, March: Book One with artist Nate Powell and co-writer Andrew Aydin. I have little doubt this trilogy will end up being a historic release with profound benefits for schools, libraries and organizations looking for a powerful teaching tool and first=person account of the Civil Rights Movement and non-violent resistance. Plus, come on, photos of Lewis meeting Neil deGrasse Tyson and Lou Ferrigno? Everybody else, just pack it up. Maybe not as much of a milestone, but IDW Publishing also deserves a nod for the pure quantity and variety of good-looking books announced.
OK, on with my list:
As the Comic-Con International hangover sets in and the industry goes silent while creators, editors, publishers and publicists stagger home from San Diego, we’ll take a few minutes to try to collect the comics-related highlights of this year’s event. We’ll attempt to update as more panel reports appear and other information trickles out.
• Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, Hawkeye‘s David Aja, and Building Stories by Chris Ware were the big winners at the 2013 Eisner Awards.
• At Diamond Comic Distributors’ Retailer Appreciation Lunch, Marvel teased the arrival of Marvelman — it’s been four years since the publisher revealed it had acquired the rights to the property — and, scheduled for January, a new wave of Marvel NOW! titles. In convention panels, the company announced: Wolverine: Origin II, by Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert; the return of Nightcrawler in the first arc of Amazing X-Men, by Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness; the November debut of Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe, by Chris Hastings and Jacopo Camagni; “Afterparty,” a two-issue arc of Young Avengers that celebrates Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s first year on the series; Steve McNiven will join Rick Remender in November on Uncanny Avengers; Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand, a Galactus-focused Ultimate Universe event by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley; and the January-launching Revolutionary War, in which writer Andy Lanning and “various superstar artists,” will resurrect some of the Marvel UK characters.
Well, hello there, Dynamite!
Each year at Comic-Con International, the flurry of press releases, announcements, exclusives, previews and rumors gets more and more dizzying. Before we know it, four and a half crazy days scream by, the confetti settles onto the ground, and it’s time to go home. After the chaos, there are always those few that stand above the clutter, those few that linger in the mind as something just a little bit more special. And while it’s trite to reduce Comic-Con to a competition with a select few winners, I can’t help but walk away almost every July with an opinion of who had the most exciting news.
Granted, my barometer might be attuned slightly different from everyone else. I don’t really care about all of the big Hollywood announcements; sure, they’re exciting, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t pay attention, but I go to Comic-Con for the comics. For me, everything else is the side show. I watch for the creators and companies with the most ambitious comics projects, the most promising books, and the biggest potential to spread even further the love of comics to the world.
This is probably the first year where there’s been so many announcements leading up to the event that I like I can call a pre-Comic-Con winner. There no doubt will be a different winner or winners once the convention is over, but before the early stuff gets buried under the avalanche, let’s take a moment to appreciate what we’ve gotten so far. And so I bequeath the Pre-Con Crown to Dynamite Entertainment.
Continuing its avalanche of pre-convention announcements, Dynamite Entertainment this morning revealed it has partnered with 20th Century Fox Consumer Products to develop a comic based on the animated comedy Bob’s Burgers.
Debuting in January 2011 as part of Fox’s Sunday night animation block, Bob’s Burgers centers on the Belcher family — Bob, his wife Linda and their children Tina, Gene and Louise — who run a hamburger restaurant. Although overshadowed on the schedule by The Simpsons and Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers may be one of the most consistently funny, and quirky, shows on television (animated or otherwise). The fourth season premieres in September.