X-POSITION: Phoenix, Upstarts & More Tear Up Bowers & Sims' "X-Men '92"
One of the more exciting pieces of news to come out of New York Comic Con was that Joelle Jones and Cullen Bunn are teaming up on a Viking-themed project at Oni Press called Helheim. Bunn has a growing following thanks to The Sixth Gun as well as his work on Marvel’s Captain America, Venom and Wolverine. Jones, meanwhile, has applied her expressive style mainly to young adult graphic novels, including Troublemaker and House of Night, both for Dark Horse. I talked to the two of them about how they collaborated to make the frozen world of Helheim a reality, and we have a short preview as well.
Robot 6: Can we start with a quick summary of what the story is about?
Cullen Bunn: I’ve often summarized Helheim as a Viking-era Frankenstein story with ghosts and demons. This is the story of Rikard, a noble warrior who is caught in the middle of a war between two witches. Rikard is honorable and good — a real hero.
And I kill him … brutally … about halfway through the first issue.
One of my favorite books from First Second in recent years was Solomon’s Thieves by Jordan Mechner (Prince of Persia) and the fantastic art team of LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland. I reviewed it for Robot 6, and talked about how much I was looking forward to the following two parts of the trilogy. In Dumas-like fashion, Mechner added swashbuckling flourishes to historical fact to create an exciting story about the rank-and-file knights of the Templar order who found themselves, as Mechner describes them, “pawns in a political chess game their simple ideals of chivalry and brotherhood hadn’t equipped them for.”
For fans of Solomon’s Thieves, the wait is finally over, and not just for the second volume. Rather than publish the last two parts of the trilogy as separate books, First Second is releasing the entire epic as a single volume called Templar, to debut in July.
First Second provided ROBOT 6 with the following preview:
Of the talented bunch in regular rotation at 2000AD these days, it’s Bagwell whose style I always think would transfer most successfully to the American market. He produces work with a similar commercial gloss as Michael Golden or Chris Sprouse, but with a taste for the far-out like Chris Weston or Brian Bolland, and can do a mean Jack Kirby pastiche, usually for his own amusement. Such is the case as the piece above: Shen I tapped him up for a preview of his upcoming next 2000AD strip “The Ten-Seconders,” written by Rob Williams, he sent this along instead, along with his congratulations to Robot 6 for reaching its fourth anniversary. It’s a companion piece to this illustration, posted at his blog back in December 2011. Bloomin’ glorious.
I’ve gone on at some length about how awesome George O’Connor’s Olympians series is. His most recent volume even made my Top 10 comics of the year. I’m also on record as digging Aquaman and other ocean-based characters, so it’s exciting that these interests are coming together in March with Olympians, Volume 5: Poseidon — Earth Shaker.
As is typical for the series, O’Connor won’t just tell the story of everyone’s favorite sea god, but will also include the myths around associated characters. In this case: Theseus and the Minotaur, Odysseus and Polyphemos, and the founding of Athens.
Publisher First Second provided ROBOT 6 with the following exclusive preview:
Cast your mind back to when you first heard Mike Mignola was giving up art duties on Hellboy to allow the title to come out with more frequency. Remember that feeling. Now remember how surprisingly conflicted you felt when you heard he was coming back to drawing the comic, after his substitute Duncan Fegredo had illustrated it so ably for five years, during what proved to be among the greatest sequence of stories in the character’s history.
Now, of course, we have the best of both worlds: Mignola is guiding his signature creation through the lands of his origin in Hellboy in Hell, and Duncan Fegredo is working on an original graphic novel, The Midnight Circus, featuring a young Hellboy when he was a pancake-guzzling lad living on an Air Force base in New Mexico, in the care of Professor Trevor Bruttenholm. The book is due “in the later half of 2013″ after some delays (Fegredo reports “the book would have been completed ages back but I had the opportunity to storyboard an unnamed movie”).
He sent to ROBOT 6 some “cryptic edits” of the boisterous lil’ hellion in action. It looks typically great: Here’s an early glimpse at what will probably prove to be many people’s book of 2013.
Continuing our look at upcoming graphic novels from Archaia, the publisher provided ROBOT 6 with a peek at pages from Saurav Mohapatra and Vivek Shinde’s Eastern noir comic Mumbai Confidential. The story follows a washed-out, drug-addicted, former member of a government hit squad as he investigates the hit-and-run that put him in a coma for a month. Turns out, it’s an investigation his former bosses don’t want anyone performing.
Mumbai Confidential has been available digitally since July, but will get its hardcover, print debut in March.
Animator Yehudi Mercado brings the zaniness of modern kids’ cartoons to his super-fun, all-ages graphic novel Pantalones, TX: Don’t Chicken Out. It sort of looks like a Cartoon Network version of Dukes of Hazzard, as a band of kids in rural Texas try to outwit, outrun and out-prank a taco truck-riding sheriff and his giant chicken.
The book is available now digitally and the hardcover, print edition arriving in March. Archaia has provided ROBOT 6 with a five-page preview, below:
Josh Tierney’s Spera is a unique take on the fantasy epic. Rather than telling a straight story about a couple of girls trying to rescue one of their kingdom’s from the evil family of the other, the series offers the quest as the framework that holds the book together, but in an anthology-like format. Each story is written by Tierney, but drawn by a different artist, and the tales vary in how much they relate to the main plot. Some push it along directly, while others are diverting side-adventures.
That’s a template employed by a lot of TV shows, and it also works for Spera. It’s a meandering adventure, but a lovely and diverting one. Tierney is working with some wonderful artists, and the upcoming second volume, which goes on sale Feb. 5, will feature work by Giannis Milonogiannis, Kyla Vanderklugt, Afu Chan, and Timothy Weaver.
Archaia has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive preview, below:
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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Archaia has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive preview of The Joyners in 3D, which reunites Syndrome collaborators R.J. Ryan and David Marquez. As the title suggests, it’s a 3D graphic novel about a family named Joyner, but it pays special attention to father George, an inventor. As his technology business is taking off, his private life is falling to pieces thanks to “personal betrayals, industrial intrigue, and sexual desire.”
The book, which comes with two pairs of 3D glasses, will be published later this year.
As ROBOT 6’s fourth-anniversary celebration winds down, our contributors look back at some of their favorite comics of 2012, from Building Stories and Saga to Goliath and Bandette to Life With Archie and Hawkeye.
One of the hazards of writing about comics is that reading comics starts to feel like work after a while. Then I stumble across something really good and I remember why I started doing this to begin with. Here are some of the books that I really enjoyed this year.
Life With Archie: It’s a soap opera. It’s a clever soap opera, and it’s fun to see the characters I knew as a kid grow up and change in surprising ways. The dual storyline is full of twists, but the characters never forget where they came from.
Jiu Jiu: The best shoujo manga captures what it’s like to be a teenage girl and reflects it back in a new way. Jiu Jiu is a supernatural story about an alienated girl who goes to an ordinary high school but fights demons on her off hours. Her companions are two wolves who can change into hot guys, although they never really lose their doggish ways. This is shoujo manga at full strength, with lots of introspection, innuendo, and incongruity. I loved it.
Archaia and Ishimori Production Inc. are teaming up to re-interpret Shotaro Ishinomori’s classic manga series Cyborg 009 for Western readers. The new edition is written by F.J. DeSanto (The Spirit, Immortals: Gods and Heroes) and Bradley Cramp (Gattaca), and illustrated by Marcus To (Red Robin, The Huntress). Archaia has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive preview of the graphic novel, set for release early this year.
The story is about nine people who are kidnapped from around the world to become test subjects by The Black Ghost Organization, a secret society that provides weapons of mass destruction to the highest bidder. The victims are put through a series of experiments that transform them into super-powered weapons, but with the help of a compassionate project scientist, the living weapons rebel, escape, and set off on a mission to stop Black Ghost from plunging the world into a perpetual state of war.
The publisher states: “Created in 1964, Cyborg 009 was Japan’s first and most-popular super-team, quickly becoming one of the most influential manga series of all time. The original manga has been published in over 250,000,000 copies of weekly comics and comic books worldwide.” There’s also a new, 3D CGI animated feature film in the works in Japan, and DeSanto is working to produce a live-action version.
Remember when I said we had so many previews, announcements, interviews and special features that it would take us two days to celebrate ROBOT 6’s fourth anniversary? It turns out I may have underestimated things. Just a little. So throughout the day, alongside our regular content, we’ll be showcasing more previews, as well as a couple of more features (including our contributors’ picks of their favorite comics of 2012).
In the meantime, below you’ll find a rundown of everything we rolled out on Monday and Tuesday. Thanks once again to all the creators, publishers and publicity managers for helping us celebrate, and to all of the ROBOT 6 contributors for all of their hard work for our anniversary and throughout the year. And, especially, thank you to our readers.
(Note: This list has been updated to reflect today’s final anniversary posts.)
It’s become an annual tradition during our birthday bash: No matter how much stuff we line up, people we interview, etc., there are still tons of people we like to hear from and include in our giant New Year’s/anniversary/birthday activities. So, as we have in past years, we have asked various comics folks what they liked in 2012 and what they are excited about for 2013.
Check out Part One, and keep reading to see more of what people shared with us, including details on their upcoming projects. Our thanks to everyone who responded this year. Also, thanks again to Tim O’Shea, Michael May and Chris Arrant, who helped collect responses.
SAM HUMPHRIES (The Ultimates, Sacrifice, Uncanny X-Force)
What was your favorite comic of 2012?
For comics fans of a certain age, the launch of Dave Elliott and Garry Leach’s Atomeka Press imprint and its anthology title A1 was an epochal event. Coming along in 1989, A1 featured talent from the United Kingdom, the United States and mainland Europe. As comics had both grown and grown up so much during the 1980s, the bringing together of all these strands seemed important, timely and inevitable. Here was a comic where you could find the best creators from 2000AD, Warrior and Deadline together with artists from the boom in the U.S. indie-comics market, alongside Moebius or Enki Bilal, then at the height of their powers.
The history of Atomeka’s rise and fall mirrored the explosion and implosion of the entire industry (there’s a great retrospective interview with Dave on the matter here), and the imprint has made faltering steps back into the limelight since 2004. Its return has seemed all the more concrete since the publication of Heavy Metal #259, which Dave guest-edited (a PDF sample is available here), and showcased the kind of material a re-energized A1 could feature. Nestled beside established talent such as Alex Horley, Andy Kuhn, Tom Raney and Toby Cypress was a crop of new talent Elliott has been nurturing, such as the Indonesian superstar-in-the-making Barnaby Bagenda, possessor of a style somewhere between Leinil Yu and Fiona Staples. His presence alone would make me hopeful for the returning anthology.