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What Are You Reading? with James Asmus

Revival

Welcome to What Are You Reading? Today’s special guest is writer and comedian James Asmus, who you know from Gambit, Thief of Thieves and the just-released The End Times of Bram & Ben.

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

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The Grumpy Color | Tom and Carla wreck 2012, Part 2

He won't admit it, but "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" always makes Galactus cry

At the end of every year, ROBOT 6 contributors Tom Bondurant and Carla Hoffman get together over the e-mail tubes and talk Big Two comics.  Part 1 is here.

Tom: Something I’ve been curious about, off and on — what did Metro‘s customers think of the Man of Steel trailer? What do you think the average superhero fan wants out of a Superman book?

Carla: It’s mixed. It really is, some love it, some are grumbly and already ready to complain. I think what the average superhero fan and what the general fan wants are entirely different. Superman’s a difficult character to get right because of his status as a cultural icon and how much that character can mean to different generations. Some people just know Smallville and, at least from the trailer, it doesn’t even seem to be that. [Producer Christopher] Nolan’s influence looks pretty strong and, as much as formula might work in the Avengers movie mythos, the same style and tone for Batman really doesn’t jibe with the Man of Steel. Well, for me. Others might totally want a deep, emotional connection to an outsider and an outcast. Mind you, I’d tell them there are some great X-Men comics out there, but eh, what do I know? It’s a trailer, and very hard to judge on what the movie is going to be like when we see the full thing this summer.

What do you think the Man of Steel trailer is all about? What kind of Superman do we need in the new millennium?

Tom: To me, the basic Superman approach is that Superman always does the right thing. It’s not about the powers. The powers just underscore that he can do whatever it takes. So it’s easy for Superman to punch something, or fly into the sun. The question should be, how can he do what’s right? I think that applies regardless of millennium.
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So you’re considering sending a death threat to a comic creator …

Amazing Spider-Man #700 Marcos Martin Cover

Amazing Spider-Man #700 - This Too Shall Pass

I love comic books, too. They’re awesome. I get plenty worked up sometimes about what goes on in the pages of my favorite books because they’re not doing it right! I get it. I’ve devoted countless hours to these characters. Heck, I’m the guy who ran a New Warriors fan site for years, tracking the chronological order of every random appearance, no matter how minor. And I did it completely without irony! So I get the emotional investment we have for these characters.

I also get how fun it is to use social networks. I use Facebook a lot, and Twitter, too, and it’s easy to get riled about something you see posted there. There’s no ‘dislike’ button to click so sometimes you just have to vent. And sometimes it feels like a regular old “how could you?!” just isn’t enough, that it just doesn’t get across how deeply you disagree with a plot development.

Regardless, none of that justifies sending threats. Dan Slott has received some extreme reactions to the leaked details of The Amazing Spider-Man #700 that go so far beyond normal fan griping that I wondered just what could’ve provoked such a backlash. So I reviewed the leaked information, and I have to say my response was, “That’s it?

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What Are You Reading? with Tyler James

Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the comics, books and other things we’ve been perusing of late. Our guest today is Tyler James (@tylerjamescomic), the publisher of ComixTribe, which is both an online resources for comic creators and a new creator-owned imprint. Tyler is also the writer of the superhero murder mystery The Red Ten, which goes on sale Dec. 19, and the organizer of the annual 30 Characters Challenge, in which writers and artists attempt to create 30 characters in just 30 days, one for every day in November (it’s under way now at 30characters.com).

Here’s what Tyler and the Robot 6 crew are reading this week:

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Quote of the Day | ‘The Year of Image Comics’

“Between the New 52, Before Watchmen, and Marvel Now!, 2012 has been an exhilarating year for mainstream comics, but none of these events have been as thrilling as the creative renaissance at Image Comics. High-profile launches from Jonathan Hickman, Ed Brubaker, and Brandon Graham have given readers riveting stories unlike anything at Marvel or DC, and these titles have expanded the publisher’s brand to satisfy a more diverse audience. No new book has done that as well as Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga, a science-fiction fantasy/war romance that’s part Shakespeare, part Star Wars, and all awesome. […] Across Image’s line, there’s a confidence in the storytelling that stems from total creative freedom. With no editorial interference, these creators are able to create the exact type of books they want to see, from the story contents to the production quality. That complete control breeds fearlessness, and these writers and artists are putting out stories that fully exhibit their imaginations. They’re paving new ground for the future of the industry. There’s no reason for comic books to be so strongly defined by superheroes, and Image has taken huge strides to build a library of titles that offers as broad a selection of genres as prose, film, or television.”

– The A.V. Club critic Oliver Sava, in his review of Saga #7 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Food or Comics? | Fantastic Fork

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item. I’m filling in this week for Michael May, who is off in Florida spending his splurge money on mouse ears and giant turkey legs.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Chris Arrant

Saga #7

If I had $15, I’d start of the week with Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples’ Saga #7 (Image, $2.99). Saga has become a real bright spot in comics for me being sci-fi without being “sci-fi,” being romance without being “romance,” and being great at being great. It gives me the same excitement the way Bone, Strangers In Paradise and A Distant Soil did back in the early 90s. Next up would be Punk Rock Jesus #5 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) by Sean Murphy. Murphy’s really exceeded my expectations here, creating a nuanced and elaborate world that has great art as a bonus. You can really tell Murphy’s been thinking about this story for awhile now. After that I’d get Invincible #97 (Image, $2.99), to finally get the truth behind the new Invincible, Zandale. I’ve been enticed by what’s been teased so far, and I hope the inevitable return of Mark Grayson doesn’t prevent me from seeing more of Zandale in the future. Last up with my $15 budget would be my call for the best superhero book on the stands today, Wolverine & The X-Men #20 (Marvel, $3.99). I feel like the title isn’t getting the attention it deserves with Marvel NOW! upon us, but Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw are absolutely delivering it here.

If I had $30, I’d double back and double up on Brian Wood with Conan The Barbarian #10 (Dark Horse, $3.50) and The Massive #6 (Dark Horse, $3.50). The Massive has survived the monumental loss of artist Kristian Donaldson, forging on in Wood’s story of one ship trying to survive in an ecological destitute Earth. Over at Conan The Barbarian, Declan Shalvey looks to be bringing the goods and showing he’s more than a Marvel superhero artist. After that I’d get the second series debut of Where Is Jake Ellis? (Image, $3.50) by Nathan Edmondson and Tonci Zonjic. This is a mighty pairing, and seeing them peel back the layers on Jake Ellis has been fun.

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What Are You Reading? with Salgood Sam

Tale of Sand

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our guest is Salgood Sam, who has just relaunched his independent personal anthology series Revolver. He is also completing the last chapter of a graphic novel called Dream Life after a successful Indiegogo funding drive to finance it. He also publishes the Canadian-centric comics blog Sequential. As he told me, he “usually has too many projects going on and does not get enough sleep.”

To see what Salgood Sam and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …

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Comics A.M. | Scottish city may honor Beano characters

Bash Street Kids

Comics | Scottish publisher DC Thomson has asked Dundee City Council to rename a street in the city’s west end to honor the Bash Street Kids, stars of the long-running comic strip in The Beano. An unnamed street adjacent to 142/144 West Marketgait would be called Bash Street as part of the celebration of the magazine’s 75th anniversary. [LocalGov]

Retailing | North Hollywood will get a new comics shop on Nov. 10, when Blastoff Comics opens its doors. Owner Jud Meyers seems to think it is an essential part of a hip neighborhood: “They want restaurants, they want bars, they want supermarkets, they want gyms. What didn’t they have? They don’t have a comic book store, every neighborhood has got to have a comic book store.” The opening will feature an assortment of comics guests, including Mark Waid, Greg Hurwitz, and Jim Kreuger, whose The High Cost of Happily Ever After will premiere at the event. [Patch.com]

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Quote of the Day | Ed Brubaker on the appeal of work-for-hire

Captain America #19

“The appeal of work-for-hire is a few things — you get paid well for writing comics, and your work gets seen by a pretty wide audience that might not have ever heard of you otherwise. And sometimes, you’re a fan of the character, like I was with Cap, and you get to sort of be the caretaker of them for a while. That really meant more to me than I even realized, until I was done.”

Ed Brubaker, discussing work-for-hire and his epic eight-year run on Captain America, which came to a close last week

The Fifth Color | The finality of now

Captain America #19

the final issue until next month

Comedian Demetri Martin has this great, short bit about how he loves digital cameras because they allow you to reminisce instantly. That we can take a picture and immediately look back with clarity and fondness at something that happened only seconds before — “We were so young!” — is essential to current comics culture. The world so quickly and drastically changes for readers that events that happened just last month can feel oh, so long ago. Characters die and return, sometimes within months of our grieving. It seems like only yesterday when we were still under the threat of the Phoenix, because it was only yesterday, relatively speaking.

This week sees the ends of five titles, and each one takes a final bow with all due gravitas for its moment in history. Invincible Iron Man #527 says goodbye to Matt Fraction and Salvador LaRocca, who began their run when the first Iron Man movie was hitting theaters. Ed Brubaker relinquishes his Captain America writing duties with Issue 19; not exactly an illustrious numbering to leave on, but when you look back at all the work he’s done and how it’s changed the common reader’s understanding of Steve Rogers, it’s a remarkable career. Kieron Gillen leaves Journey Into Mystery with #645, after which the whole title gets a new face to focus on, a new creative team and a new mystery to journey into. And Jonathan Hickman leaves FF, a book he created to serve a beautiful purpose for Marvel’s First Family, and I dare anyone not to get a little misty eyed after turning those final pages.

These are all weighty doors closing on eras that changed the face of our comics, and we may never see their like again. Times, they are a-changin’ … but are they, really? This moment with these books written in such a way is over, but Captain America lives on. Iron Man will fly again, as will Fraction, both just moving in new directions. Heck, Loki isn’t even leaving Gillen’s hands; they’re just moving into a new apartment with different roommates.

So why do we mourn? Why do we read these books as the final issue of Captain America when we all know logically that Captain America will continue next month with a new issue? What exactly are we losing when so many things stay the same? I’ve got an idea; see if you agree.

WARNING: we’re talking about this week’s comics listed above but might spoil some Avengers #32. So grab your copies (and a couple hankies because man, FF is a tearjerker!) and follow along!
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Food or Comics? | Multiple Warheads of lettuce

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity #1

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d dutifully pick up Dark Horse Presents #17 (Dark Horse, $7.99). With all the stories and the variety of genres, this is a comics haul all under one roof. This month’s issue has a great looking Carla Speed McNeil cover, and inside’s star looks to be Richard Corben adapting an Edgar Allan Poe story. Beat that, comics! After that I’d do an Image two-fer with Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity #1 (Image, $3.99) and Invincible #96 (Image, $2.99). On the Multiple Warheads front, I’ve been salivating over this ever since it was announced – I bought the premature version of this back when it was published by Oni, and it’s built up in my mind as potentially greater than King City … and I loved King City. In terms of Invincible, I feel this book has the best artists working in superhero comics – and the writing’s not to shabby either. They’re doing a lot of world-building here, and having Cory Walker join with Ryan Ottley on this essentially split book makes it the highpoint of the series so far.

If I had $30, I’d double back to Image and get Prophet #30 (Image, $3.99). Of all the prophets, I love Old Man Prophet the best – and this issue looks like a mind-bender. After that I’d get Ghost #1 (Dark Horse, $2.99). Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Noto look like a dream team and Dark Horse really scored a coup by getting them together on this book. I was a big fan of the original series (Adam Hughes!) so I’m excited to see if this new duo can make it work in a modern context. Third up would be Secret Avengers #33 (Marvel, $3.99). Make no mistake, I love that Rick Remender is so popular now that he’s graduated to the upper echelon of books, but I’m remorseful he’s having to leave his great runs on this, Uncanny X-Force and Venom. This Descendents arc is really picking up steam. Lastly, I’d get National Comics: Madame X #1 (DC, $3.99). I’m a fair-to-middling fan of Madame Xanadu, but the creators here – Rob Williams and Trevor Hairsine – mean it’s a Cla$$war reunion! Love that book, love these guys, and love my expectations here.

If I could splurge, I’d splurge all over Shaolin Cowboy Adventure Magazine (Dark Horse, $15.99). Can DH do two excellent anthologies? We’ll see… but fortunately they’ve got Geof Darrow’s Shaolin Cowboy to lead the way in this pulpy throwback. Shine on, you crazy super-detailed diamond, shine on.

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Chain Reactions | Avengers vs. X-Men #12

Avengers vs. X-Men #12

Marvel’s latest blockbuster crossover series, Avengers vs. X-Men, which was written by everybody and drawn by everybody else, wrapped up this week. Issue #12 featured writer Jason Aaron in the driver’s seat, while Adam Kubert, John Dell and Mark Morales provided the visuals for the big finale.

So did the ending sizzle or fizzle? Carla shared her thoughts on Friday, and here are a few more opinions from around the web (beware of spoilers in many of the links):

James Hunt, Comic Book Resources: “…the final issue manages to pull the disparate story threads together and deliver a conclusion that, somehow, is satisfying. In part, that’s because it cheats, pretending that previous issues hit story beats that they manifestly didn’t. The issue opens with a recap that doesn’t quite resemble what came before, and a clutch of flashback scenes plug in story elements one suspects should have been made clearer much earlier on. The editorial lurch is self-evident, and jarring — but crucially, it’s one that’s forgivable, because it improves the issue and clears the way for the finale the event deserved.”

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What Are You Reading? with Jay Faerber

Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at what’s been on our nightstands lately. Our guest this week is Jay Faerber, writer of Dynamo 5, Near Death and Noble Causes. The second Near Death trade just came out this week, and his new comic, Point of Impact, comes out Oct. 10.

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

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Previews: What Looks Good for November

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics — now with 100 percent more JK Parkin! Michael May, Graeme McMillan, Chris Arrant and JK have each picked the five comics they’re most anticipating in order to create a Top 20 (or so; we overlap sometimes) of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.

As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

47 Ronin #1

John Parkin

47 Ronin #1 (Dark Horse, $3.99): Mike Richardson, Dark Horse’s head honcho, teams with Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai to retell the story of the 47 ronin who avenged their master after he was forced to commit ritual suicide for assaulting a court official. It will be both very cool and a little odd to see Sakai drawing samurai that aren’t anthropomorphic animals and aren’t in black and white (the book’s full color), but I’ve always admired his clean style. As an added bonus, Kazuo Koike of Lone Wolf and Cub fame consulted on the project, so this should be a treat.

Great Pacific #1 (Image Comics, $2.99): Joe Harris and Martin Morazzo have come up with a book that I just love the high concept behind: the heir to one of America’s most successful oil companies moves to the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch and declares it a sovereign country. He then fights giant sea monsters, based on the preview art that’s been released, which is an added bonus.

Marvel NOW!: This might be cheating, but Marvel has 10 new comics debuting in November under the Marvel NOW! banner. Mark Waid on Hulk? John Romita on Captain America? Matt Fraction writing Fantastic Four and FF? Jonathan Hickman on Avengers? Yeah, I’ll just lump all these together and hope no one notices I’m gaming the system here …

Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown: Fantagraphics continues its series of high-end collections of the best of Carl Barks’ duck stories, with the Christmas-themed third volume arriving just in time to be stuffed in somebody’s stocking.

Retrovirus (Image Comics, $16.99): Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s latest graphic novel, drawn by Norberto Fernandez, is about a research scientist who specializes in viruses heading to Antarctica to examine a perfectly preserved caveman. I’m a fan of Palmiotti and Gray’s work together, from Jonah Hex to The Monolith (which gets the collection treatment in November), and this one sounds like it could be a lot of fun.

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Food or Comics | Ziti or Zeroes

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Aya: Life in Yop City

Chris Mautner

If I had $15, I’d buy Boys #70 (only two issues until the big finale) and Classic Popeye #2, IDW Publishing’s ongoing series of reprints devoted to Bud Sagendorf comics from the 1940s, as the first issue was much more fun than I expected it to be.

If I had $30, I’d put those comics back, but would be stuck between a couple of books. The first would be Aya: Life in Yop City, which collects the three previous Aya books by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie in one volume. These are great, funny comics, full of life and observation regarding a culture — in this case African culture — most Westerners know nothing about.

There’s also A Chinese Life, a massive doorstop of a memoir by Chinese artist Li Kunwu (with help from writer Philippe Otie) chronicling his life and times. Kunwu lives through some of modern China’s most tumultuous periods, including the Cultural Revolution, and hopefully his book will, like Aya, humanize a time and culture that for many is just a few lines in their history book.

Finally, there’s Message to Adolph, Vol. 1, one of Tezuka’s final works, set during World War II, about three people named Adolph, one a Jew, the other a German boy living in Japan, and the third the fuhrer himself. Originally published by Viz about two decades ago, Vertical has taken it upon themselves to put out a newly translated version which is great news for those that missed this great manga the first time around.

Is there a greater splurge purchase this week that Dal Tokyo, the collected version of Gary Panter’s off-kilter comic strip? I plugged this book last week, but it deserves another one. I’ve been waiting for this book for awhile.

For the scholarly comics type, the splurge of the week might be Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss, a look at the creator of Barnaby and Harold and the Purple Crayon and his wife, a children’s author with whom he frequently collaborated.

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