Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
Maybe it’s the exhaustion talking, but I can’t stop watching this GIF of Jim Lee, Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Dan DiDio, John Romita Jr. and Scott Snyder from the Entertainment Weekly Social Media booth at Comic-Con International. It may be my favorite thing today, at least until I find the next thing …
Ahead of this afternoon’s DC Comics panel for The Multiversity at Comic-Con International, EW.com has debuted the mind-blowing — or is that mind-altering? — map of the DC Universe conceived by Grant Morrison.
Although the resolution isn’t high enough to make out all of the details, you can easily spot locations like the Source Wall, the Speed Force Wall, Dream, Apokolips, New Genesis, Skyland, the House of Heroes and the Rock of Eternity. The type in the Star Trek-like “Shift Ship Classification” on the right is a little too small for
old tired eyes.
Batman is celebrating his 75th birthday this year, which may come as a surprise. I mean, look at that smooth, handsome face, or what little of it is visible beneath his cowl. Look at those ripped muscles, or the way he runs across rooftops and beats up criminals — why, Batman doesn’t look a day over 35!
Now just as it did recently for Superman, DC Comics is releasing a pair of hefty, 400-page hardcover collections that serve as a sort of survey for how the character has been portrayed and functioned in the publisher’s comics line during since his first appearance. Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years and The Joker: A Celebration of 75 Years aren’t exactly the comics equivalents of greatest-hits albums, but they are nice starting points for newcomers and/or casual fans, offering quick, compelling overviews of the title characters through the decades.
The Batman volume, featuring Jim Lee’s rendition of the character from the 2003 storyline “Hush” on the dust jacket, must have been particularly challenging to assemble, given the thousands and thousands of pages of Batman comics, featuring dozens of different takes by scores of creators.
Fan excitement last year over The Complete Zenith!, collecting the lost 1980s superhero saga by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell, was tempered both by the unresolved rights dispute and the roughly $150 price tag for the limited edition (still, the 1,000-copy print run sold out). However, as promised, Rebellion is preparing to release four non-limited hardcovers collecting the entire story — and it has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive first look at their interlocking covers.
DC Entertainment and Warner Bros.’ year-long celebration of Batman’s 75th anniversary will continue in a big way later this month at Comic-Con International in San Diego, with several of the creators most associated with the character set to appear on the “Batman 75: Legends of the Dark Knight” panel on Thursday, July 24.
Notably, The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One‘s Frank Miller — in a relatively rare appearance at a comics-centric panel — will join fellow Bat-luminaries Grant Morrison, Jim Lee, Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, current Batman team Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, and DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns.
On Saturday, DC will commemorate the Caped Crusader’s storied history in other media, with Batman: The Animated Series vet Paul Dini, longtime Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy, Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet co-writer Ralph Garman and more.
The two panels are something of a bisected version of the treatment DC gave Superman last summer, with a Superman 75th Anniversary panel including folks from both the worlds of comics (Morrison, Dan Jurgen) and movies/television (Henry Cavill, Tim Daly).
Legendary Comics unveiled Grant Morrison’s Annihilator at New York Comic Con 2012, only for the creator-owned project to drop off the radar. However, now the publisher has released new details about the upcoming series, including a Sept. 4 release date and a first look at pages.
Featuring art by Frazer Irving, Annihilator centers on on Ray Spass, a former screenwriter with a brain tumor who gets a big break to write a huge blockbuster film.
Considering that the July solicitations also previewed September’s Futures End tie-ins, and the final issue of Forever Evil arrives this week after being scheduled originally for March, the August listings feel like just one more ingredient in a jumbled publishing stew. When it’s all done, maybe we’ll see that it’s all worked together. Now, though, we might have to wait until the October solicits for a clearer picture of where DC’s superhero line is going.
In the wake of the New 52’s various revisions, the Grant Morrison-written The Multiversity miniseries seems like an artifact — if not a relic — from the pre-relaunch days. Like the Morrison-written Batman Incorporated, it was originally conceived in that environment, when legacy characters abounded and beloved Silver Age elements were reemerging. Of course, with Earth 2, Worlds’ Finest, Forever Evil and Futures End, parallel worlds have hardly been absent from the New 52; so perhaps The Multiversity is meant to expand that storytelling device even further. I get the feeling that many things are about to change (again) for DC’s shared superhero line, and if some Morrison-infused characters are going to be part of that, I hope they stick around for a while.
Fandom | Rachel Edidin attends a gathering of the Carol Corps, the group of mostly female Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel fans that has built a community around a shared interest. “It is not a formal organization,” says Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick. “There are no rules. People write and ask me all the time, ‘How do I join the Carol Corps?’ You join Carol Corps by saying you are Carol Corps. There is no test. You don’t have to buy anything. You don’t need to sign up anywhere. If you decide you are a part of this community, bam, you are. The other part of that is that if you decide you are a part of this community, you will be embraced and welcome.” [Wired]
Piracy | The Japanese government will consider several measures to fight online piracy of anime and manga in the next few months, while publishers are taking a if-you-can’t-beat-‘em-join-‘em approach by launching two free digital manga services, ComicWalker and Manga Box, to lure readers away from bootleg scanlation sites. [The Japan News]
Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out. So let’s take a look at the last seven days in comics …
Set in a dystopian future where drones fill the skies, The Key opens with the apparent government execution of a man in a straightjacket with a bag over his head (BBC News notes the similarity between the pointed corners of the bag and Batman’s mask).
Chris Burnham confirms he has redrawn the fill-in pages from the end of his run on Batman Incorporated for DC Comics’ upcoming Absolute edition of the Grant Morrison series.
“They’re all done, too!” he emphasized this morning on Twitter. “So I’m not redrawing them, I have redrawn them!”
Batman fan site Gotham Spoilers, which posed the question to Burnham, notes the fill-in art was “unfortunate, because this was one of those stories, that you really just couldn’t slap any artist on, as is the case with most Morrison penned stories.”
Burnham mentioned the undertaking in July, following the conclusion of Batman Incorporated, telling Batman-News, “I’m gonna redraw all of the fill-in pages for the last five issues! You know how the little fill-in pages kinda snuck in? So I’m pretty sure I”m gonna redraw those pages for the big deluxe hardcover.”
That deluxe hardcover, which clocks in at 608 pages, collects Batman Incorporated Vol. 1 #1-8, Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes, Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #1-13 and Batman Incorporated Special #1. It arrives Dec. 2.
Although the five-years-later setup of Futures End won’t be here until May, it got me thinking about a not-so-new New 52. The current comics take place some five years after Superman and company debuted — plus, apparently, a year for the face-free Joker to recuperate — so if you add five more years, it’s like double the amount of history! Well, double the amount of history that “matters,” I guess.
As I have been pretty critical of the present timeline, I’ll be curious to see how Futures End treats those additional five years. I suspect that, for the most part, they’ll be five years of “filler,” in the sense that mostly bad, Futures End-specific things happened during that time to bring DC-Earth to whatever sorry state we see in FE #1. I’ve heard that when all the New 52 books jump ahead five years (in September, naturally), they’ll reflect where their creative teams would like to take the characters in five years — but those will only be single issues, as opposed to the year-long weekly installments of Futures End. Besides, my bitter, resentful impulses remind me that it might well have been simpler just to start off with a 10-year timeline that would only have tweaked the old pre-relaunch status quo, not thrown out huge chunks of it.
“I think why we make good comics together is that he – if you believe in the right-brain/left-brain sort of thing – seems to be a really out-there, weirdo right-brain guy, and I’m very literal-minded and I believe in strict storytelling rules. I never break the 180 rule in my storytelling. I have a very literal perspective. I’ve got all sorts of instructions that I live by to tell a coherent story. And a lot of people’s problems with Grant Morrison comics is that they can get a little too confusing for them. I think that my very literal, very disciplined storytelling style can help to sell his crazy flights of fancy and make it a little more coherent – and I don’t really agree with most of the people who say it’s too confusing to follow, but I guess I can see where they’re coming from. I think it helps get the story over if it’s very clear exactly what’s happening. And then the stuff that’s happening is weird enough where you can still have that sense of unease.”
Creators | Author Marc Tyler Nobleman tells Michael Cavna about his crusade to gain recognition for Bill Finger as one of the co-creators of Batman — including a push to have Google honor him with a Google Doodle on his birthday: “As it currently stands, even the mighty Christopher Nolan could not legally credit Bill as co-creator. However, prior to The Dark Knight, I asked DC if they could use non-subjective language to acknowledge Bill. I proposed: ‘Batman was first called “the Dark Knight” in Batman #1, in 1940, in a story written by Bill Finger.’ DC publications already regularly credit Bill for that story, and the movie’s title doesn’t even include the word ‘Batman’ — it is wholly a phrase coined by Bill Finger. Alas, they said no.” [Comic Riffs]
Passings | Tulsa, Oklahoma, cartoonist Larry Pendleton, who created the syndicated single-panel cartoon Graphic Nature, has died at the age of 59. [Tulsa World]
Speaking of Grant Morrison, the writer has offered a few more details about his upcoming collaboration with Batman Incorporated artist Chris Burnham, announced Thursday at Image Comics’ Image Expo.
Called Nameless, the six-issue miniseries was described at the event by Burnham as “the ultimate horror comic.” However, that barely scratches the surface.
As Morrison tells USA Today, “We’re taking all the dark stuff that Western culture’s kind of obsessed with — the zombies and everything — beyond the limit and doing hopefully for now what H.P. Lovecraft did for the wartime generation.”‘
Nameless, it turns out, is the name of the protagonist, whom the writer characterizes as both a screw-up and highly intelligent, a person “super high functioning in how he makes connections between things.”Beyond that, Morrison isn’t offering any specifics, except to say, “”I’ve been studying nihilistic philosophy, which is basically the most depressing stuff on Earth.” But Burnham teased at Image Expo that, “[Morrison] has never done a straight-up, ball-to-the-wall horror book. That’s what I told him I wanted, and that’s what we’re doing. I think it’s going to be awesome and terrible, and hopefully some 11-year-old kids will steal it, and it’ll ruin their lives forever.”