Gail Simone Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

Grumpy Old Fan | DC’s December: happy golden days of yore

...'Miss Gordon' if you're nasty

‘Miss Gordon’ if you’re nasty

There’s a lot to like in DC Comics’ December solicitations, most of it due to the return of some old friends and the uber-nostalgic glimpses at a traditional status quo. It’s not like the New 52’s changes are being rolled back — I have no illusions about that, and I’m not sure how it would work if it did happen — but DC is always best served when it can channel the familiar aspects of its past in vibrant new forms.

THERE YOU GO AGAIN

I am starting to think Secret Six is the comic Gail Simone was born to write, even more so than Birds of Prey. There’s always been a dark undercurrent running through her DC work, from BOP to Batgirl to The Movement, but only with the Sixers could she really cut loose. Indeed, as much as I enjoyed Scandal, Bane, Deadshot and the rest, I’m eager to see what she can do with six cryptically united strangers, most of whom will probably be new to us.

Those who believe the traditional, pre-New 52 DC Universe is still out there, somewhere in the Multiverse, can reasonably hang their collective hat on the return of the Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis Blue Beetle and Booster Gold in Justice League 3000 #12. I’d go even further, and say this version of Beetle and Booster probably follows directly from the two “Super Buddies” arcs that Giffen, DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire produced in the mid-2000s. The second one, I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League, ended rather pointedly with Beetle and Max Lord sharing a happy moment. That, of course, stood in stark contrast to the Countdown to Infinite Crisis special, in which Max shot Beetle in the head, and then (a few months later) successfully dared Wonder Woman to execute him. Therefore, the Beetle and Booster of JL3K hail from an Earth where things turned out quite differently — but ironically, they’ve been awakened in a dystopian future where the Justice Leaguers are darkly twisted versions of their old selves. Not that Giffen and DeMatteis can’t find some comedy there, but I’m having trouble summoning up a bwah-hah-hah.

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‘Futures End’ Month, Week 2: Introducing the untie-in

You took the agonized scream of rage right out of my mouth, "Futures End" Harley Quinn.

You took the agonized scream of rage right out of my mouth, “Futures End” Harley Quinn.

This month marks the third anniversary of of the New 52, and, as was the case with each September since the 2011 relaunch of DC Comics’ superhero titles, that means the entire line is being unified under an umbrella theme … or gimmick, depending on how charitable you are.

In 2012, it was “Zero Month,” with each book telling a story set in the hero’s first year of rebooted continuity. Last year, it was “Villains Month,” featuring fancy 3D covers, decimal-point issue numbers and stories starring DC’s antagonists. This year, its a little from column A, and a little from column B: There are more of those fancy covers, but all of the stories are set five years into the future.

As I did last week, I’ve grabbed a handful of new Futures End one-shots, more or less at random, for review. This week DC released 10 Futures End one-shots, of which I have five sitting in a little stack next to me as I type. Last time, I tried ordering the reviews from worst to best, but I had trouble doing so this week, as there wasn’t really a stand-out like Grayson. Rather, these five seemed to cluster around a baseline of mediocrity, with a few being slightly better, others slightly worse.

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Yang, Simone and the triumph of ‘Saga’

saga15-cover[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

In some ways, this is the best of times and the worst of times for those who are interested in bringing comics to a broader audience. As the hubbub died down over Milo Manara’s Spider-Woman cover, another story went viral, about a comic shop where an employee allegedly made a crude joke about a “rape room” and then fired a trainee who complained about it. While debate continues to rage over what exactly happened there (the store owner denies it), Bloomberg did a big story on how the number of women comics readers is growing and becoming an ever more important sector of the industry.

With this in mind, I want to call out three things that happened this week.

The first is Gene Luen Yang’s speech at the National Book Festival. First of all, it’s impressive that a comics creator is given such a prominent platform at an event that isn’t actually focused on comics. What Yang had to say was even more impressive. He spoke about the African-American creator Dwayne McDuffie, whose love of comics first caught fire when he encountered the Black Panther, a black character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The Black Panther wasn’t perfect, but, Yang said,

All of these flaws were lost on Dwayne McDuffie when he first encountered the Black Panther in 1973, at the age of 11. What struck him was the character’s commanding sense of dignity. The Black Panther wasn’t anyone’s sidekick. He wasn’t an angry thug. He wasn’t a victim. He was his own hero, his own man. As Dwayne describes it, “In the space of 15 pages, black people moved from invisible to inevitable.”

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Simone, Lashley want to ‘Six’ you up

secretsixcover-tease

[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

The Movement was cancelled and she’s almost done with Batgirl, but fans of Gail Simone’s DC work can now look forward to the return of Secret Six. Launched in 2005 as a big-event tie-in, the fan-favorite series ended in the summer of 2011 and had yet to reappear in a New 52 context.

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Sensational idea, less-than-wonderful execution: ‘Sensation Comics’ #1

sensationLast week saw the return of Sensation Comics to store racks, as DC Comics repurposed the long-defunct title for a new Wonder Woman anthology series, featuring stories by rotating creative teams that debut online as part of the publisher’s digital-first initiative. It’s a strategy the company previously used for similar anthologies Legends of the Dark Knight and the soon-ending Adventures of Superman.

It’s a great idea, and one well past due. Unlike Batman and the Man of Steel, Wonder Woman has long been confined to a single solo title, with fewer miniseries, specials and one-shots, and is more often subject to drastic new directions, due to a perceived notion the character needs to be “fixed.”

The current Wonder Woman series is a good example of this, with Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang and company reintroducing the character with an “Everything you thought you knew was wrong!” origin, accompanied by a weird and dark backstory for the Amazons, and a London setting for the heroine.

Last time I checked in with Wonder Woman, the title character was the demigod daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta and had become the goddess of war, dispatching her foes with magic swords — and when she’s really in a pinch, she takes off her power-dampening Amazon bracelets, which allows her to “power-up” into a sort of glowing Super-Wonder Woman.

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Comics A.M. | A look at the diversity of the Batman family

Batwoman #32

Batwoman #32

Comics | Writing for The Advocate, Jase Peeples takes note of the diversity of DC Comics’ extended Batman family — from Batwoman to Batwing to Barbara Gordon’s roommate Alysia Yeoh — and talks with writers Gail Simone, Grant Morrison, Marc Andreyko, Tom Taylor and Chip Kidd. “I would like to think that people can pick up books like Batman Incorporated or The Multiversity and see their own lives reflected,” Morrison says. “But I’d always caveat that with the need for us to see more diverse writers and artists, because that’s when I think the walls will really come down. As a straight [white guy from Scotland] I can only do so much, and I find even sometimes when you do this, you do get accused of tokenism or pandering. I don’t mind it. I can put up with that, but I’d rather see a genuine spread of writers and artists creating this material.” [Advocate.com]

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For Gail Simone, an ending and (sort of) a beginning

batgirl34-facebook

[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

Gail Simone brought to a close her tenure as Batgirl writer and helped kick off the digital-first Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman series this week. Both issues were well within her comfort zone, featuring large casts of characters locked in spirited combat a la Wonder Woman #600 and Secret Six #36. Both had callbacks to previous Simone successes, one of which pleased this longtime fan immeasurably. (No spoilers, but let’s just say she’s a Bird of Prey I didn’t think I’d see in the New 52.) Perhaps most importantly, both showed their headliners fully in control of their respective situations. For Batgirl that came at the end of a long, somewhat depressing series of subplots, and in Sensation it was a well-executed rebuttal to anyone who thinks Wonder Woman can’t be as hardcore as her gothic-avenger colleague.

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Comics A.M. | Square Enix halts ‘Hi Score Girl’ amid copyright claims

Hi Score Girl, Vol. 4

Hi Score Girl, Vol. 4

Legal | The Japanese magazine Monthly Big Gangan has put the series Hi Score Girl on hold following allegations by the game company SNK Playmore that the manga is using its characters without authorization. The publisher, Square Enix, already recalled the five volumes of the series published so far and stopped releasing the manga digitally. [Anime News Network]

Creators | Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver talk about bringing Wonder Woman to Gotham City in their two-part story for DC Comics’ new digital first anthology Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman. [Hero Complex]

Creators | Sonny Liew, creator of Malinky Robot and the artist of The Shadow Hero (written by Gene Luen Yang) was born in Malaysia, went to school in Singapore, then went to college in the United Kingdom and art school in the United States on his way to becoming a comics creator. There wasn’t much of a homegrown comics scene when Liew was growing up, so he read mostly imports, but that’s changing, and his newest project is an anthology featuring creators from the region. [The Malay Mail]

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Gail Simone launches Comics Survival Kit on Tumblr

Gail Simone

Gail Simone

Writer Gail Simone launched a new blog, Comics Survival Kit, that promises to be a source of useful, practical information for creators.

“Like all comics pros, I am asked all the time for advice on how to become a pro, and how to maintain that position once you have attained it,” she writes in the introductory post. “It is a huge question, even if we knew the answers, it would be a lot to process!” So she is presenting information in small, tightly focused posts and drawing on her many friends in the industry, including Kelly Sue DeConnick, Greg Pak, and Jim Zubkavich, for their advice as well.

Simone is a pretty good resource herself; she has written more than 400 comics, and her credits include Birds of Prey, Secret Six and Red Sonja. What sets this Tumblr apart from other creators’ is its exclusive focus on information and advice; what sets it apart from other creator-information sites is the high profile of the owner and the contributors.

The Tumblr already has a collection of interesting posts, including Red Sonja editor Molly Mahan on what editors want to see in an artist’s portfolio, Third Eye Comics owner Steve Anderson on communicating with retailers and Paul Allor (Orc Girl) on the perils of self-publishing.

Comics A.M. | Gallery’s Denver Comic Con proceeds stolen

The Hall of Justice art gallery

The Hall of Justice art gallery

Crime | A successful weekend at Denver Comic Con turned sour for Zac and Mindy Conley, the owners of The Hall of Justice art gallery, after a thief stole a cash box containing their proceeds from the show, about $1,000, and some special orders for Mindy Conley’s artwork, which would have earned the couple another $1,500. The Conleys say they were planning to use the money for rent for their home and studio and the payment for their booth at next year’s Denver Comic Con. “We’ve been fighting to turn this place into some really cool. And every month we’re wondering if we’re going to survive,” Zac said. However, friends are rallying around: Illustrator Drew Litton, who will be showing his work at the gallery next month, will donate a portion of the proceeds to the Conleys, and gifts are also coming in through their Facebook page. [The Denver Post]

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‘Batgirl’ #32 is the best kind of fan service

batgirl-900

[Editor’s note: Every Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss “The best in comics from the last seven days” — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

She was not Birds Of Prey‘s first writer, and probably won’t be its last, but Gail Simone has become associated pretty closely with the character of Barbara Gordon, and specifically Barbara’s identity as the omniscient info-broker Oracle. One might even say that only Simone could have returned Babs to her original role as Batgirl, as part of the New 52 relaunch. Since then, Simone has quietly made Batgirl into one of the more engaging Bat-books, spending as much time on her relationships as on her crimefighting.

This week’s issue (penciled by Fernando Pasarin, inked by Jonathan Glapion, colored by Blond) is a fine example. All those relationships collide when hardcore vigilante Knightfall decides she doesn’t like “common criminal scum” (and Babs’ boyfriend) Ricky Gutierrez suing ex-Commissioner Gordon. Meanwhile, Babs herself gets recruited by an old college roommate (now part of a super-secret spy outfit, of course) that wants to bring Knightfall down. All this while Batgirl has to deal with the current Batman Eternal status quo, in which snotty cops can (and do) refuse to arrest the Bat-crew’s various foes.

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Comics A.M. | Phoenix Comicon disrupted by malfunctioning fire alarm

Phoenix Comicon

Phoenix Comicon

Conventions | The Phoenix Convention Center was evacuated Thursday, the first day of Phoenix Comicon, after a fire alarm was triggered by a damaged heat sensor (something similar occurred during last year’s event). Attendees were allowed back in to the venue after about 30 minutes. The convention, which in 2013 drew a record 55,000 people (leading organizers to cap attendance), continues through Sunday. [The Arizona Republic]

Retailing | Kirby Tardy, owner of Collectors Comics in Grand Rapids, Michigan, looks back at 35 years in the business. The store opened downtown in 1979 as Opalia’s Amorphium, and started out carrying a wide range of merchandise; since then it has gone in the opposite direction from many comics shops and focuses mainly on comics themselves, not peripheral items like figures or games. At one time there were several branch locations, and Tardy and his wife Debbie spent a lot of time going to comics conventions in the 1990s. The couple is planning to retire next year, but hopes the business will continue with new owners. [MLive.com]

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‘Supernatural’ actor Osric Chau guest stars in ‘Red Sonja’ #10

Osric Chau

Osric Chau

Fans of The CW’s Supernatural television series will recognize Osric Chau as Kevin Tran, the honor student turned prophet of God who helped Sam and Dean translate various tablets of significant importance and had to deal with an overprotective mom.

Now the actor, who also appeared in The Man with the Iron Fists and Fun Size, is making the jump from the screen to the printed page, as his likeness will be used for a character in Red Sonja #10.

Red Sonja writer Gail Simone shared some artwork from the comic on her Tumblr, showing Chau in action as “the greatest swordsman in the entire world”:

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Comics A.M. | Pioneering comics journalist Bhob Stewart dies

Bhob Stewart

Bhob Stewart

Passings | Comics journalist and commentator Bhob Stewart died Monday at the age of 76. Stewart kicked off his career in 1953, at the age of 16, by publishing an EC fanzine; the following year, as Carol Tilley documented in a recent talk, he sent a copy to anti-comics crusader Fredric Wertham, along with some tart commentary. Stewart went on to become an influential voice in the conversation about comics; he wrote several books, taught classes at the School for Visual Arts, and curated the first exhibit of comics art in a major American museum. Heidi MacDonald credits him with inventing both Wacky Packages and the term “underground comics.” [The Beat]

Editorial cartoons | German cartoonist Burkhard Mohr has apologized for a cartoon depicting Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg with a hooked nose, an image that critics said was reminiscent of Nazi propaganda. The cartoon appeared in the early editions of the Munich newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, but Zuckerberg’s face was replaced by an empty hole in later editions. “I’m very sorry about this misunderstanding and any readers’ feelings I may have hurt,” Mohr said. “Anti-Semitism and racism are ideologies that are totally alien to me” [ABC News]

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DC Comics cancels ‘The Movement’

movement9Less than three weeks after the final issue of DC Comics’ The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires arrived in stores, Gail Simone has announced the cancellation of its companion series The Movement with May’s Issue 12.

Unfortunately, this book just never found a big enough audience,” the writer posted Sunday on her blog. “The people who loved it, loved it hard, but that number was too small. I am bummed about it, we wanted to do a book that didn’t read or look like anything else out there, and I think we accomplished that. I take the responsibility, I think it took a little while for people to really adopt the characters, which was a conscious choice but also a risky one in this very cautious market where people have to be extra careful of which books they choose.”

Launched in May 2013, The Movement and The Green Team were a look at the 1 percent and the 99 percent, the haves and have-nots, in the DC Universe: While The Green Team, by Art Baltazar, Franco and Ig Guara, centered on teens who used their wealth to purchase power — and super powers — Simone and Freddie E. Williams II’s The Movement focused on another group of teens who used their abilities to fight corruption in Corral City.

“Whenever a book is cancelled, people often get mad at the publisher — it’s understandable, but in this case, we received nothing but support from DC,” Simone wrote. “They knew it was a dicey prospect, a book not set in Gotham or Metropolis with no known heroes, and an unusual core theme. They knew it was a bit risky commercially and they did it anyway, and they let us run out to twelve issues to finish it properly, when almost any other publisher would have cut it earlier on.”


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