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DC reveals The Flash #1 variants by Francis Manapul and Ivan Reis

From "The Flash" #1 variant by Ivan Reis and Tim Townsend

DC Comics continues the promotional onslaught for its line-wide relaunch this morning by unveiling the variant covers for The Flash #1 – one by series artist and co-writer Francis Manapul, and the other by Ivan Reis and Tim Townsend.

The Flash #1, which pits Barry Allen against an all-new foe who can be everywhere at once, debuts Sept. 28.

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Comics A.M. | DC’s Flashpoint-New 52 link; Borders warns off investors

Flashpoint #3

Comics | Flashpoint editor Eddie Berganza talks to USA Today about the midpoint of DC’s big summer event series and how it might tie into the September relaunch: “They’re starting to figure out where these 52 are coming from, and it’s staring them right in the face with Flashpoint. A lot of the concepts, a lot of the ideas, they’re cropping up within the pages. You have a book called Frankenstein in the Flashpoint world, and guess what, we’re doing Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE. You’ll see a couple of other background players start showing up that become more important as we go into September.” [USA Today]

Retailing | Borders Group warned investors on Tuesday against buying any more of the company’s stock as it soon could be worthless. If a federal bankruptcy court approves the $215-million opening bid submitted last week, the bookseller would become a subsidiary of the privately held Direct Brands, owner of the Book of the Month Club and Columbia House, meaning stock will no longer be traded. [The Detroit News]

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DC relaunch scorecard: DCnU or DC No?

Green Lantern #1, by Dave Johnson

Although it seems like DC’s big relaunch announcement came out an eternity ago, it actually took the publisher less than two weeks to roll out the 52 titles and their creative teams for the big relaunch/reboot/overhaul coming in September. Now that the cats are out of their respective bags, I thought I’d see where various creators and characters will land after the reboot.

So I went back through DC’s August solicitations to see who was writing or drawing what, and tried to map everyone to their post-relaunch project — if they had one. However, looking at DC’s August solicitations, there seem to be several fill-in issues, so where appropriate I tried to map the most recent ongoing creative teams to their new projects (for instance, I consider Gail Simone and Jesus Saiz the regular creative team for Birds of Prey, even if they aren’t doing the last two issues before September hits). Keep in mind that I just went through the ongoing series and skipped over all the miniseries … of which there are a lot, what with Flashpoint winding up in August.

It’s also worth noting that although several creators didn’t appear in the “big 52″ announcements, that doesn’t mean their tenure with DC is necessarily over — some, like Frazer Irving, have said they have future projects that haven’t been announced. So I tried to note where creators have talked publicly about their post-relaunch plans with DC (or lack thereof, as the case may be). The same could probably be said for some of DC’s characters as well. Or, as Gail Simone said on Twitter: “Again, September is NOT THE END. There’s still plans for characters that we haven’t seen yet.”

So let’s get to it ….

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DC D-Day Plus 7: What we know (and don’t) about the DC relaunch right now

Green Lantern #1, by Dave Johnson

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.

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Flashpoint #1

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday 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 if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15 this week, I’d immediately go for Flashpoint #1 (DC Comics, $3.99) – I am very, very unsure about the number of tie-ins DC are pushing out for the new crossover event, but with Geoff Johns in charge, I’m suspecting that the main book will be worth a look at least. I’d also grab the relaunched GI Joe #1 (IDW, $3.99), if only to follow up on the “Cobra Civil War” storyline that I admit has completely caught my attention unexpectedly. Curiosity would also get me to pick up both Moriarty #1 (Image, $2.99) and Total Recall #1 (Dynamite, $1.99), two new launches that will hopefully take familiar ideas and characters in directions I wouldn’t expect…

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C2E2 | The Flash comes to an end in May

The Flash #12

DC Comics announced this morning that The Flash will end with May ‘s Issue 12, a result of its upcoming Flashpoint crossover. Curiously, a 13th issue is solicited for June.

Debuting in April 2010 on the heels of The Flash: Rebirth, the relaunched title teamed writer Geoff Johns with artist Francis Manapul, re-established Barry Allen as the Fastest Man Alive and built toward Flashpoint. So perhaps it was inevitable that the series would end as DC’s big Flash-centric event gears up.

The solicitation text gives little clue as to what to expect from the finale — other than it’s probably not good for Barry: “‘The Road to Flashpoint’ concludes as everything Barry Allen knows and cares about is lost. What is the Flashpoint? Find out in the upcoming Flashpoint #1!”

The Flash #12 arrives in stores on May 11, the same day as Flashpoint #1.

Expect more details to emerge this weekend from Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.

Francis Manapul helps Marvel PR maven Arune Singh propose

Comics really can bring people together. Take, for instance, the above art by Francis Manapul, who created it as a favor for a friend who was proposing to his girlfriend. That friend is none other than Arune Singh, Marvel’s director of communications.

“It’s really a sweet story,” Manapul explains on his DeviantArt blog, “as [Arune] put a picture book together of them and this was revealed on the last page of the book as he got down on one knee to propose. ”

At Singh’s direction, Manapul depicted him as Superboy and Arune’s fiancée Michelle as Wonder Girl. Although it might seem odd for a Marvel staffer to ask a DC-exclusive artist for help on popping the big question, at the end of the day there are many friendships across the stretches of the Big Two. And this isn’t the first time a comics fan — or comics professional — has used the powerful language of comic to pop the big question: Cartoonist Dave Roman famously did an elaborate comic strip to spring the surprise question to his now-wife Raina Telgemeier, and I recall Rob Liefeld doing the same in the mid-’90s as a back-up to one of his comics.

… and before you ask, she said yes. Congratulations, Arune — and congrats, Michelle!

Comics A.M. | Dark Horse CEO on state of industry; BOOM! changes

Mike Richardson

Publishing | In a wide-ranging interview with retail news and analysis site ICv2, Dark Horse CEO Mike Richardson discusses the state of the market, the potential impact of Borders’ bankruptcy, digital comics, the decline in manga sales, the success of Troublemaker and more. Of particular note is Richardson’s confirmation that Apple’s stricter enforcement of a prohibition on in-app purchases outside the iTunes store was behind the delay of the planned January launch of Dark Horse’s digital comics program. He also says that Frank Miller is working on the third issue of his 300 prequel Xerxes, which is expected to be “roughly six issues, but he hasn’t exactly decided yet.” [ICv2.com]

Publishing | Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson provides an overview of recent changes to BOOM! Studios’ kids’ line, from the loss of the Pixar licenses to a new imprint name — changed from BOOM! Kids to kaboom! — to the announcement this week of a Peanuts original graphic novel. “BOOM Kids! was designed to publish children’s comics — kaboom! is designed to be a true all-ages imprint, and for that reason Peanuts is the perfect launch title, the sort of material that adults and kids read alike,” CEO Ross Ritchie said. “Roger Langridge’s Snarked! is along these lines, as is Space Warped and Word Girl.  I put the Word Girl announcement on my wall on Facebook and immediately there were a zillion adults commenting, ‘My child loves this show but I’m buying this comic book for myself!’  The title mix will be broader for kaboom! than it was for BOOM Kids!” [Publishers Weekly]

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Apple

Digital comics | Following more than two years of complaints, Apple has given developers the guidelines it uses to determine which programs can be sold through its App Store, and relaxed some restrictions on content and tools. The company recently was criticized for forcing the creators of a comic adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses to remove nonsexual nudity from some panels — Apple later changed its stance — and for initially rejecting an app from Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore because his animated political satire contained “content that ridicules public figures.” Alan Gardner notes that the revised guidelines specifically exempt “professional political satirists and humorists” from a clause prohibiting defamatory or offensive material. [The Associated Press]

Comic strips | After 60 years with United Feature Syndicate, Peanuts will move in February to Universal Uclick. The news isn’t totally unexpected, as Iconix Brand Group partnered with the heirs of Charles M. Schulz in April to buy the rights to the comic strip from United’s parent company E.W. Scripps. The $175 million deal was for the entire United Media Licensing division, which includes Dilbert. [Comic Riffs]

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Francis Manapul: comic artist, TV host and ‘Beast Seeker’!

Francis Manapul and Stephen Leonard of "Beast Legend"

Francis Manapul and Stephen Leonard of "Beast Legend"

Canadian comics fans with at least a passing interest in cryptozoology may want to tune into History Television on Wednesday night for the premiere of Beast Legends, a six-part series that examines “the truth about mythological creatures that could be real … and historical creatures that could be myths.” The kraken, the griffin, a bird monster — that sort of thing.

For that daunting mission, the producers assembled “a learned kind of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”: an anthropologist/archaeologist/myth expert, an evolutionary biologist, an adventurer/veterinary surgeon, and a comic book artist — specifically, Flash artist Francis Manapul.

“It’s been an amazing experience traveling around the world on these magnificent adventures!” writes Manapul, who serves as one of the presenters on Beast Legends. “I felt like Indiana Jones or something! Even had run ins with some snakes! I’ve drawn in some of the most bizarre places, from the dense jungles of Vietnam, to a platform above sharks in the Bahamas, to a dark and wet lions cave in Germany, to the high seas of New Zealand! It’s truly been an experience and I’m glad I’ll be able to share them with you!”

The first episode, “Wildman of Vietnam,” premieres Wednesday at 10 p.m. EST/PST. According to Manapul, Beast Legends will air later this year in the United States on Syfy. You can read the official press release below:

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Grumpy Old Fan | Morning has broken

Brightest Day

Brightest Day

Let me be clear right from the start: I don’t think that Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns, and assorted other DC functionaries had this week in mind whenever they decided to kick off a cycle of crossover-driven carnage which Blackest Night brought to a close. I don’t think they said to each other, back during George W. Bush’s first term, “we want a miniseries starring the Hawks, Aquaman and Mera, Captain Boomerang, Firestorm, and Black Adam Jr. We’ll bring Deadman back to life, and he’ll tie it all together. Oh, and we’ll bring Barry Allen back and launch his new book the same day.”

It’s a neat thought, though, isn’t it? Barry was the avatar of the Silver Age, and his new #1 drops the same week as the first issue of the you’d-think-it-would-be-peppy Brightest Day. They’re both written by DC’s new Chief Creative Officer, Geoff Johns (BD is co-written by Peter J. Tomasi). Heck, DC should’ve gone for broke and called April 14, 2010 the start of the Brightest Age. Some loose ends notwithstanding, I think we are done for a while with the annual Event That Changes Everything — and before I bury the lede too deeply, I’m not entirely sold on BD, but I liked Flash #1 a lot.

(SPOILERS FOLLOW for both books…)

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DC announces Brightest Day: The Flash

The Flash #1 by Francis Manapul

The Flash #1 by Francis Manapul

Looks like it’s gonna be one of those days: Hot on the heels of this morning’s announcement of Brightest Day, DC Comics Executive Editor Dan DiDio has taken to The Source blog again to announce Brightest Day: The Flash. It’s the opening story arc to the new Barry Allen-starring Flash ongoing by the previously announced team of Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul (that’s the cover to Issue 1 above).

As you might have guessed, it’s just one of several books that will be use the Brightest Day banner throughout May and June, as Brightest Day isn’t just one series, but a line-wide event. Stay tuned for more, I’m sure…

Manapul teases his and Johns’ Adventure Comics finale

Adventure Comics #6 wraps up Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul’s short-yet-fun run on Superboy. And iit looks like the duo is going out with a bang in what will be a full-length story about the Boy of Steel, based on this teaser image Manapul posted on his blog:

Adventure Comics #6 preview

Adventure Comics #6 preview

“It was an amazing ride and we’ll sorely miss working on the book,” Manapul said, as he and Johns prepare to move on to the Flash. “I’ll definitely miss drawing Krypto!” The book comes out Jan. 13.

‘I look at something like The Flash as a long-term mission,’ Johns says

Flash: Secret Files and Origins

Flash: Secret Files and Origins

The weeklong onslaught of DC Comics announcements continues this morning with a few details from Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul’s much-anticipated run on The Flash.

The series, which launches in April, continued Johns’ long association with the character that began in 2000 with a nearly five-year stint on The Flash, followed by several one-shots and miniseries such as this year’s The Flash: Rebirth.

“Really, I look at something like The Flash as a long-term mission,” Johns tells the Los Angeles Times’ Hero Complex blog. “The Flash: Rebirth was the knot to untangle in the shoelace before we could run. I wanted to clear the board, re-examine some key elements of Barry Allen and re-introduce a threat that would play throughout the next several years. Much in the same way as Green Lantern, I’m committed to a long term story with the Flash and the universe around him. There’s nothing that really needs to be left behind, so to speak. However, The Flash No. 1 that will start in April — post-Blackest Night by Francis Manapul and I — will be extremely accessible. It’s Barry Allen a.k.a. the Flash, Central City and the Rogues.”

The Flash #1 will be preceded in March by Flash: Secret Files and Origins. The DC Universe blog has a look at Manapul’s process for the cover of the one-shot.

Flash’s Rogues are no match for Johns and Manapul

"Reverse Flash" by Francis Manapul

"Reverse Flash" by Francis Manapul

In one of those good news/bad news types of announcements, DC Comics announced today that Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul‘s run on Adventure Comics would end with January’s issue #6 — which is too bad, as I’ve really enjoyed the book so far — as they prepare to work together on The Flash.

According to Alex Segura over at The Source, their first “high-octane and mysterious” storyline is titled “The Dastardly Death of the Rogues.” He added to stay tuned for word on the new creative team for Adventure Comics.

(Picture above is from Manapul’s deviantART page. Here’s a look at a Flash sketch by Manapul that he shared on Twitter last month).

Update, Sept. 9: And the new Adventure Comics writer is Paul Levitz. Details here.


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