SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
Last month marked the 30th anniversary of the first issue of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the ur-Big Event whose ripples continue to influence today’s (and tomorrow’s) superhero books. Accordingly, I thought it was a good time to revisit each issue on its approximate anniversary. That’s not because each issue of COIE was always a landmark unto itself, but because we tend to remember Crisis’ effects more than the ways in which the story was told.
Thus, it’s time for Issue 2, which was published in the direct market during the first week of January 1985. The issue was written by Marv Wolfman, penciled by George Pérez, inked by Dick Giordano, colored by Tony Tollin and lettered by John Costanza. Wolfman is listed as the issue’s editor, with Bob Greenberger as his associate editor (and co-plotter, according to COIE: The Compendium) and Len Wein as consulting editor.
* * *
Crime | Wichita, Kansas’ KWCH TV is showcasing the Nov. 19 burglary of comics and collectibles store Riverhouse Traders as its Crime Stoppers crime of the week. The thieves apparently knew what they were looking for, and stole a reported $300,000 worth of rare comic books and memorabilia, leaving owner Mark Rowland with an unwanted shift in priorities: He has always given free comics to local children who get As on their report cards, and he provides gifts to local families at Christmas, but this year he has to cut back to pay for a security system. [KWCH]
Creators | Writer Jeff Lemire and artist Terry Dodson discuss their new graphic novel Teen Titans: Earth One. George Perez and Marv Wolfman’s Teen Titans were Lemire’s gateway to comics, so he was particularly enthusiastic about this project, and, he that affected his choice of a cast: “My decision early on was just to use the unique characters that Marv and George created that weren’t sidekicks, and that freed me from having to establish the adult superheroes in this world.” [Comic Riffs]
Thirty years ago, as part of the first ship week in December 1984, the debut issue of Crisis on Infinite Earths arrived in comics shops. Cover-dated April 1985, and scheduled to appear on newsstands during the first week of January, it was the flagship title of DC Comics’ year-long 50th-anniversary celebration. The two-year Who’s Who encyclopedia had launched a month earlier, and most of DC’s series would tie into Crisis at some point; but this was the book that promised big changes.
We talk a lot about the legacy of Crisis — high-stakes events, crossovers, reboots, etc. — but that can obscure the story itself. For all that it was designed to do, and all that it promised, Crisis remains both uneven and intriguing. At times it can read like a ramshackle assembly of exposition and spectacle, held together by the combined wills of its creative team. Some of it is flabby, some of it is clunky, but Crisis can still be thrilling, and even touching. In any event, it remains one of the great mileposts of DC history, so it can certainly stand another look.
Today is for the first issue, but this series will continue periodically throughout 2015. Grab your own copies of Crisis and follow along!
Retailing | The Books-A-Million retail chain reported significant growth in the last quarter, due in part to strong sales of manga and strategy games. “Sales in the graphic novel category … grew nicely on the strength of a significant resurgence in the interest in several manga series, particularly Attack on Titan,” CEO Terry Finley said in an earnings call. The chain’s sales increased 1.2 percent, and same-store sales were up 1.8 percent last quarter compared to the same quarter last year; by contrast, fiscal year 2013 sales were down by 9.4 percent from the previous year. [ICv2]
Creators | Jeff Lemire talks about his new graphic novel Teen Titans: Earth One, which reflects his love of Marv Wolfman and George Pérez’s The New Teen Titans: “I wanted a fresh and clean take on a teen super-team without having to rely on other heroes or continuity. So I gravitated to these unique teen characters Marv and George had created, and re-envisioned them through my own sensibilities along with artist Terry Dodson, who really helped them come to life.” [The Kindle Post]
There’s a lot more than gender differentiating Wonder Woman from her fellow first generation superheroes that have, against all odds, survived to the modern day. More so than even Superman and Batman, the only other heroes whose comics have been in continuous publication since their creation, Wonder Woman is a character with sharp, often difficult to reconcile (or even wrestle with) contradictions built into her.
Foremost among those contradictions is the fact that, as Tim Hanley alludes to in the subtitle of Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine, the character is universally known, to the point that she’s practically omnipresent in pop culture, but that knowledge tends to be pretty shallow.
That is, everyone knows Wonder Woman, but relatively few know much of anything about her. Her name and costume, her bullet-blocking bracelets and magic lasso, maybe her invisible jet, but that’s about it, really. Curious indeed.
Any week there is a new George Pérez comic to read calls for a celebration. What pleases me is that this story is not rooted in corporate comics continuity; rather the esteemed writer/artist has jumped head first into stories with his own new characters–something he clearly relishes. What also pleases me so is that the man still hungers to tell new tales, rather than spend his free time (post recent eye surgery) pursuing his love of theater/acting or just basking in the glow of an incredible career. As he noted in a recent CBR interview: “I will never regret any of my time working for DC and Marvel, especially in light of the fact that, especially with DC, I have been earning considerable money in royalties that allows me the option of not drawing comics at all if I were crazy enough to consider that.”
In what other medium can a someone get an original work of art made just for them by a creator whose career they’ve followed? Not movies, television, music or fine art, unless you’re a millionaire. But in comics, many of today’s artists are for hire to fans looking to own a piece of their work — and even commission something especially for them. Comics are crazy that way, but that’s a good thing.
It’s nothing new, of course. The idea itself goes back into the roots of fine art, but with the advent of conventions and now the internet it’s available to virtually everyone — with some creators even reaching out to fans to make it happen.
Deadpool #27 made headlines yesterday when it was announced that the cover had set the record for the most comic book characters on a single issue cover, as declared officially by Guinness World Records. It also brought a lot of discussion in our comments, as fans asked what the previous record holder was and if, indeed, it truly beat out every other cover out there as depicting the “most comic book characters on a single issue cover.”
So I thought maybe we should take a look at some of the candidates folks pointed out …
This weekend marked the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America and their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
The intersection of the Beatles and comics began a year earlier, though, when Paul McCartney told the music magazine NME that he would like to appear in The Dandy, a popular weekly children’s comic (almost 50 years later, he got his wish, as he appeared in the final issue).
In their heyday, the Beatles made frequent cameos in comics, and were often the subject of comics themselves; over the past few years, however, comics creators have taken a retrospective look at not just the musicians but the times they lived in and the personalities around them. Here, then, is a look at four comics, all very different, but each with its own appeal to those of us who remember when the Beatles were hot—and those who want to relive it in the pages of comics.
Thanks to Tom Spurgeon, I read a fascinating article about “using Graph Theory to create a digital model of the whole of Marvel continuity,” from comics to TV and the current crop of movies. It maps out connections among characters — unsurprisingly, the three big groups relate to the X-Men, the Avengers, and Spider-Man — but it also discusses exceptions to characters’ defining traits. For example, Hawkeye is Clint Barton (or not), who is an archer (most of the time) and an Avenger (except when he’s a Thunderbolt). Marvel appears to be using this model to answer basic questions like “who is that?” and “how does s/he relate to this over here?” — with an ultimate goal of getting fans of its movies and TV shows to try the comics.
As you might imagine, this sort of analysis would have been ideal for the pre-New-52 status quo, whose five generations of characters (going from the original Justice Society to Damian Wayne) included many with multiple code names. Chief among these were the original Teen Titans who, following the examples of Dick Grayson and Wally West, graduated from sidekicks to “grownup” superheroes. Initially, logistical concerns facilitated these changeovers (we need a new Robin; we need a new Flash) — but in terms of the intersection of continuity and character development, none of the Titans had quite as much on her résumé as Donna Troy.
“There was a time when I was 23 years old that I thought my career was over because I couldn’t move my hand. It turned out it was just a pinched nerve. But Archie Goodwin, the [Marvel] editor at the time, made sure that when I went to the doctor, I was covered for medical bills. I didn’t have health coverage then. I try to pay it forward. I do a lot of philanthropic and charity work. Some of my greatest awards, greatest rewards, have not been for comic work, but for charity work. Like art — thank you’s for money raised — from children in the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Photos from their wishes coming true. They’ll laminate it into a plaque that I can hang on the wall. I cherish those. I was actually the subject of a wish once, a child wanted to meet me. Me, out of all the things he could have wished for. Good gosh, that is something that I will never forget.”
— veteran artist and writer George Perez, recalling the nicest thing anyone has ever done for him
Welcome to “Report Card,” our week-in-review feature. If “Cheat Sheet” is your guide to the week ahead, “Report Card” is typically a look back at the top news stories of the previous week, as well as a look at the Robot 6 team’s favorite comics that we read.
So read on to find out what we thought about Daredevil, Buzzkill and more.
It’s a little difficult to believe it’s been 10 years since the debut of JLA/Avengers, a crossover that found the greatest heroes of Marvel and DC Comics used as pawns in a cosmic game between Krona and the Grandmaster. Of course, it’s also hard to believe there hasn’t been another Marvel/DC crossover since then.
In any event, the Superhero Costuming Forum organized a gathering of cosplayers earlier this month at DragonCon in Atlanta to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the miniseries with — what else? — a photo shoot of an elaborate battle between the Justice League of America and the Avengers. Artist George Perez even got in on the action.
Welcome to “Report Card,” our new week-in-review feature. If “Cheat Sheet” is your guide to the week ahead, “Report Card” is a look back at the top news stories of the previous week, as well as a look at the Robot 6 team’s favorite comics that we read. The week before Comic-Con was a busy one for the industry, as all eyes look to San Diego.
Read on to find out what we thought of Batgirl, Eye of the Majestic Creature Vol. 2 and more.
With the end of Geoff Johns’ tenure on Green Lantern and Grant Morrison’s upcoming farewell to Batman, a fan’s thoughts turn naturally to other extended runs. Marv Wolfman wrote almost every issue of New (Teen) Titans from the title’s 1980 preview through its final issue in 1995. Cary Bates wrote The Flash fairly steadily from May 1971’s Issue 206 through October 1985’s first farewell to Barry Allen (Issue 350). Gerry Conway was Justice League of America’s regular writer for over seven years, taking only a few breaks from February 1978’s Issue 151 through October 1986’s Issue 255.
However, in these days of shorter stays, I wanted to examine some of the runs that, despite their abbreviated nature, left lasting impressions. At first this might sound rather simple. After all, there are plenty of influential miniseries-within-series, like “Batman: Year One” or “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?,” where a special creative team comes in to tell a particular story. Instead, sometimes a series’ regular creative team will burn brightly, but just too quickly, leaving behind a longing for what might have been.
A good example of this is found in Detective Comics #469-76, written by Steve Englehart, penciled by Marshall Rogers and inked by Terry Austin (after Walt Simonson penciled and Al Milgrom inked issues 469-70). Reprinted in the out-of-print Batman: Strange Apparitions paperback, and more recently (sans Simonson/Milgrom) in the hardcover Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers, these issues introduced Silver St. Cloud, Rupert Thorne, Dr. Phosphorus and the “Laughing Fish,” featured classic interpretations of Hugo Strange, the Penguin and the Joker, and revamped Deadshot into the high-tech assassin he remains today. Tying all these threads together is Bruce Wayne’s romance with Silver, which for my money is the Bat-books’ version of Casablanca. It’s the kind of much-discussed run that seems like it should have been longer. Indeed, I suspect it’s one of the shorter runs in CSBG’s Top 100 list.
Continue Reading »