Ethan Van Sciver
Although Grant Morrison is drawing down the curtain on Batman Incorporated with July’s Issue 13, DC Comics will give the series a final hoorah in August with a special one-shot anthology.
Ahead of the release of August’s solicitations, the publisher has announced Batman Incorporated Special #1, featuring stories about Man-of-Bats, Red Raven, Jiro, Knight, El Gaucho and other characters by the likes of Chris Burnham, Ethan Van Sciver, Dan DiDio and Joe Keatinge.
Passings | Cartoonist and animator Bill White has died at the age of 51. According to his Lambiek page, White studied animation at the Kubert School and was a penciler and inker for a number of publishers, including DC Comics, Marvel, Archie, Disney and Harvey. His animation work included stints on Ren and Stimpy and Inspector Gadget. Infinite Hollywood has a nice remembrance. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Comics | Jim Beard looks at the apparent contradiction between the mass popularity of superhero movies and the relatively limited audience for the comics that spawned them; Mark Waid attributes this to a lack of comics shops, while Ethan Van Sciver thinks that most people simply have a hard time reading comics. Two local retailers weigh in as well, making this an interesting and well-rounded overview of the problem. [Toledo Free Press]
The biggest news from this round of solicits is probably the cancellations of Blue Beetle, Grifter, Legion Lost, and Frankenstein. I’ve been buying Beetle and Frankenstein, so I’m sorry to see them go.
Naturally, this means we can look forward to four new titles in February. If I had to guess, I’d say a new Shazam! ongoing series will spin out of the current Justice League backup, but according to January’s solicitation, the backup doesn’t seem to have reached a suitable stopping place. It’s possible that February’s Issue 17 could wrap everything up one week and lead into Shazam! #1 the next, but that would depend on Justice League shipping on time (in the third week of the month), and I’d think DC would want more wiggle room in case of a delay. Accordingly, the odds of a Shazam! series in the next batch of solicits seem rather long.
Still, the backup series has been running in Justice League since #7, so (counting the Shazam-centric Issue 0, but subtracting the lack of backup in Issue 13) February’s Issue 17 would mark its eleventh installment. That is subject to change, since the October solicits advertised a Shazam! backup which was not in the actual issue. Still, if my rough math is correct, that’s about 154 total pages of story — more than the New Teen Titans: Games paperback, but less than the Superman/Shazam collection — but the solicit for January’s Issue 16 (part 11, remember) just talks about continuing the origin. With that in mind, even if Issue 17 concludes the backup, the character could still appear in JL as a Leaguer until he does whatever he’s going to do in “Trinity War.” Yadda yadda yadda, now I think probably no new Shazam! series until that event is over.
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DC Comics released Green Lantern Annual #1 this week by Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver, Pete Woods and Cam Smith, the prologue to their “Rise of the Third Army” crossover event that’ll run through the various Lantern titles. It’s a jam-packed issue, featuring the reveal of the Guardians’ nefarious plans, the introduction of someone called the First Lantern and what the Third Army looks like, Guardian-on-Guardian violence, more of the Hal/Sinestro bromance and of course a holdover from the last big Green Lantern crossover, Black Hand.
It’s a lot of plot, but how was the story? Here are just a few opinions from around the web; I would also point you to Caleb’s review and invite you to leave your own thoughts in our comments section.
Brian Hibbs, The Savage Critics: “Now, this is really a model of how an annual should be — it’s the culmination of the last year of story, in all ways. THIS is GL #13, and sets off a new status quo for the book for a smidge at least.”
Comics | The negatives for Cerebus: High Society were destroyed last week in a fire that gutted a building in Waterloo, Ontario, that contained the apartment of Sandeep Atwal, communications director for Dave Sim’s Aardvark-Vanaheim Inc. According to Sim, Atwal, who had been scanning artwork for the Kickstarter-funded audio/visual digital edition of High Society, escaped with only his wallet and the clothes he was wearing. “So, I thought I’d better let everyone know that we’re definitely not on track for the September 12 launch at this point,” Sim wrote. “I don’t expect that I’ll hear from Sandeep for at least a few days — he’s staying with friends and obviously has a lot more important things to think about than HIGH SOCIETY DIGITAL.” Cerebus Fangirl has begun collecting donations to help Atwal. [A Moment of Cerebus, via The Beat]
On the eve of the debut of its digital-first Batman comic, DC Comics has revealed the line-up for the first six chapters of Legends of the Dark Knight, along with art from Ethan Van Sciver.
Announced in April at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo as part of an expansion of the publisher’s digital-first slate — Ame-Comi Girls launched May 28 — the out-of-continuity series features standalone stories by different creative teams chronicling some of Batman’s cases.
The first chapter, by Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof and Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Animal Man), premieres Thursday and takes place early in the Dark Knight’s career when, as Lindelof recently told Comic Book Resources, Batman is “still working out the kinks, as it were.” “One of the things that I really like about Jeff’s writing that not a lot of people are doing right now in the industry is that it’s funny. It’s fun,” he said. “It’s not funny like a wink outside the panel where it’s broad humor. There is just a sense of amusement about everything.”
To see what Ao and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Since the March solicitations kick off the back half of the New 52′s first year, it’s probably worth noting that the whole line remains unchanged: no “midseason replacements” like Justice Society, but no cancellations either. If I hear relieved sighs from OMAC and Men of War, certainly Dan DiDio and Jim Lee have to be pleased generally that they’ve gotten this far with the 52 intact.
Well, pleased or stubborn, I suppose. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
Ahem. Away we go…!
One of my pet peeves about the New-52 is the sense that it lacks a meaningful “history.” For at least the last few decades, a reader might not have known exactly what had happened or when, but s/he could tell that these characters hadn’t just fallen off the turnip truck. I say this because the solicits for Justice League #7 and Flash #7 both allude to their books’ untold backstories. With Justice League, we’ll learn about membership turnover and other details of the five years between the League’s debut and today. (To be sure, some of that has already been alluded to in the League’s previous present-day appearances, like JL Dark #1.)
DC Comics today confirmed the rumors that started circulating around the New York Comic-Con earlier this year, as they announced that writer Joe Harris will replace Gail Simone on The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Man with issue #7. Harris joins co-writer Ethan Van Sciver, who will also draw issues #7 and #8 of the series while Yildiray Cinar takes a break.
The change follows yesterday’s announcement that Tom DeFalco is replacing Fabian Nicieza on Legion Lost.
“The first arc is called ‘The Firestorm Protocols’ and, I can promise you, it’s going to be filled with a lot of big science fiction concepts and super-hero smackdowns… some good, tense international and geopolitical maneuvering around the prospect of a new nuclear arms race in a much smaller and interconnected world than the Cold War-era knew, and some really dark, juicy moments that should really shock the hell out of people,” Harris said on his blog. Harris has been busy in comics recently, as write of Oni’s Ghost Projekt and Spontaneous, and Dynamite’s upcoming Vampirella vs. Dracula.
More art can be found after the jump.
1. For Batman and Green Lantern, if it ain’t broke, DC’s not fixing it. In 2010, you had to go all the way down to the Direct Markets #109 bestelling title, the debut of J. Michael Straczynski’s abortive tenure on Superman, before hitting a DC book that wasn’t part of the Batman line, the Green Lantern line, or the Green Lantern-spawned Blackest Night and Brightest Day events. DC has rewarded the creators behind these franchises’ success by keeping them more or less in place, albeit with some title-swapping and artist-shuffling. Geoff Johns, Tony Bedard, and Peter J. Tomasi are still writing the three main Green Lantern series (along with the previously announced Peter Milligan on Red Lantern), while Grant Morrison, Scott Snyder, Tony Daniel, David Finch, and Tomasi are still handling the books with “Batman” in the title (with long-time Gotham Citizens like J.H Williams III, Gail Simone, and Judd Winick filling out the line).
2. DC’s rolling the dice big-time on an I Can’t Believe It’s Not Vertigo-verse. Today’s big announcement of new “dark” titles features such Vertigo characters as Swamp Thing, Animal Man, Shade the Changing Man, John Constantine, Madame Xanadu, as written by such Vertigo creators Peter Milligan (Hellblazer), Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth), and Scott Snyder (American Vampire). That’s quite a vote of confidence in Vertigo’s taste in creators, characters, and tone, especially given that many industry observers saw the line as an afterthought for the new regime. Of course, how this will impact Vertigo itself has yet to be seen. It’s also worth considering that Vertigo’s biggest and most durable hits over the past decade or so have tended to be creator-owned titles existing in their own worlds and straying pretty far from the imprint’s horror-magic roots, so launching eight shared-universe horror-magic books — over one-sixth of the new DC Universe line — is a gamble in and of itself.
Following their announcement that they were starting everything over and relaunching all their titles with new first issues this fall, DC Comics today announced the creative teams for ten of the titles.
And while Tom may have other thoughts on his mind this week, here are some of my quick thoughts on those announcements:
Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang on Wonder Woman: Now all we need to know is whether she’s forming a rock band or not … but seriously, art wise, in my eyes, perfect choice. I’m a huge fan of Chiang’s, so I was just hoping we’d see him on any regular title. And Wonder Woman seems like a great fit. Azzarello, meanwhile, probably isn’t the first name I would have thought of when thinking about Wonder Woman, but the more I think about it, the more I like the idea. Of the creative teams revealed so far, this is probably becoming my favorite, or is at least tied with …
Ethan Van Sciver, Gail Simone and Yildiray Cinar on Firestorm: Back at WonderCon in 2010, Simone and Van Sciver teased that they were working together on something. Could they have been talking about Firestorm? Maybe; Simone also said on Twitter that she and Van Sciver have another as-yet-unannounced project they’re working on, so it could have been something else. I like the fact that Van Sciver is co-writing the book (rather than drawing it), and it’s getting a bit of a reboot. “Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond are two high school students, worlds apart – and now they’re drawn into a conspiracy of super science that bonds them forever in a way they can’t explain or control.” So you have two writers with very different worldviews writing a character composed of two other characters with wildly different worldviews. That’s actually pretty cool. Yildiray Cinar, meanwhile, has been killing it on Legion, so he’s a plus to a team I was already liking.
Publishing | On the heels of Monday’s direct-market overview for March, ICv2 has released its sales estimates for the month, placing the top-selling FF #1 at 114,472 copies — more than 37,500 ahead of the No. 2 title, Green Lantern #64. The retail news and analysis site notes that the relaunched FF #1, aided by variant covers, joins the Human Torch-killing Fantastic Four #587 as the only titles to sell more than 100,000 copies in the past six months.
While 11 of the Top 25 comics saw sales increases, if only slight, the graphic novel category looked decidedly more grim, with just the third volume of The Unwritten and Batman and Robin: Batman Reborn breaking the 4,000-copy mark. [ICv2.com]
Crime | Los Angeles police have recovered a copy of Action Comics #1 stolen from the home of actor Nicolas Cage in 2000. The 1938 comic, worth as much as $1.5 million, was discovered last month by an unidentified man who claims to have bought the contents of an abandoned San Fernando Valley storage locker. It’s now in an LAPD evidence safe while the department’s art details detectives try to track down the thieves, but Cage says he can’t wait to get the comic back. “It is divine providence that the comic was found and I am hopeful that the heirloom will be returned to my family,” he said in a statement. [Ventura County Star, Los Angeles Times]
This is a special “WonderCon + more” edition of Thin Wallets, as we round up publishing news from last weekend’s con, plus a few other items of note …
- DC Comics announced that they are replacing the long-delayed All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder with Dark Knight: Boy Wonder. The book will still be by the creative team of Frank Miller and Jim Lee, and is due in February 2011.
- IDW has picked up the license to make comics based on HBO’s southern vampire show True Blood. The show’s creator, Alan Ball, is helping to develop the stories.
- IDW will also release another version of their Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer collection — Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer: Artist Edition. The oversized hardcover will be printed as the same size as Stevens’ original art, approximately 11 by 16 inches. “You’ll be able to see his beautiful blue pencil work, you’ll be able to see the stats, all of it,” Special Projects Editor Scott Dunbier said. “It’ll be the closest thing you ever get to Dave Stevens original art.”
- Judd Winick announced that he is writing a new Barry Ween book. “Thankfully, after, like, an eight-year hiatus, I’m actually – swear to God – I’m actually doing more ‘Barry Ween.’ I’m writing it now,” he said at his spotlight panel. Barry Ween is heading into space in the new story.
- Image Comics is collecting The Crusades, by Steven T. Seagle and Kelley Jones, into a hardcover. The series was originally published by Vertigo. Seagle is also teaming up with artist Marco Cinello for a children’s book called Frankie Stein.
From King-Cat to Dark Knight: Minicomics master John Porcellino tackles the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder for the Denver Comics Fest sketchbook. Click the link to check out the final version with colors from Noah Van Sciver. Then check out Noah’s take on his comrade-in-cartooning-Van-Sciverhood Ethan’s cover for The Flash: Rebirth #3 for the Covered blog. Gee, the Joe Chiappetta/Mark Chiarello collaboration of our dreams can’t be far away at this rate…
They say nice guys finish last, but when event comics will finish is anybody’s guess. The demands of a high-profile series around which entire shared universes revolve can play havoc with scheduling. Naturally, editors and publishers love to maintain the artistic quality and consistency (and sales levels) provided by the big-name writer-artist teams that tend to lend such books a sense of “this is a big deal.” On the other hand, they need to get books out on time so that other series whose storylines depend upon what happens in the event can proceed as planned — and so that they don’t end up alienating retailers and readers. But these same readers and retailers can end up just as irritated if they get the sense that the creators are being rushed, or if fill-in artists aren’t up to snuff. It’s a tough row to hoe.
With his front-row seat for a variety of events this decade, including Avengers Disassembled, House of M, Civil War, and Secret Invasion, Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort knows this better than anyone. So it was with an obvious mix of boldness and trepidation that he made the following prediction on his Twitter account:
It’s height of hubris time: I’m willing to bet that SIEGE will wrap up before BLACKEST NIGHT does.