"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
[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.]
Grant Morrison, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and the rest of the team behind the long-awaited Multiversity miniseries deliver some great moments in the first issue, including an homage to the satellite scene in the original Crisis on Infinite Earths #1. That first issue was rich in DC universe history, as Marv Wolfman and George Perez introduced a ragtag group of heroes and villains brought together by the Monitor from various eras and Earths to battle the Anti-Monitor’s universe-destroying forces.
Morrison and Reis do something similar here, as we return to the Monitor’s satellite and are introduced to heroes like the Savage Dragon-esque Dino-Cop and the fanboy Flash analogue Red Racer; witness the return of President Calvin Ellis, the Superman of Earth-23; and are treated to cameos by original Crisis heroes like Lady Quark and Harbinger. But my favorite was seeing the return of Captain Carrot:
On the eve of the launch of The Multiversity, the nine-issue miniseries by Grant Morrison, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Chris Prouse, Karl Story, Ben Oliver and Frank Quitely, the information is kind of slim: You can hover your cursor over just three Earths — Earh-0, Earth-8 and Earth-23 — to get details, but DC states, “New Earths are being revealed frequently so visit often.”
In 2008-09, Grant Morrison wrote (and J.G. Jones and others drew) DC Comics’ big-event miniseries Final Crisis. While it wasn’t the last cosmic-minded crossover, in many ways it was the crest of a wave that had been building since 2004’s Identity Crisis. The fallout from Identity Crisis sparked a new “Crisis Cycle,” leading into 2005-06’s Infinite Crisis, 2006-07’s 52, 2007-08’s Countdown, and various smaller-scale tie-ins.
With Morrison at the helm, though, Final Crisis turned out to be pretty esoteric. Apparently this pleased almost no one, being a) too steeped in DC lore for the casual reader, and b) not sufficiently tied into the regular comics, and thereby not rewarding the every-Wednesday folks who’d been following all the buildup.
Nevertheless, two FC plot points had immediate effects on the superhero line that, for all intents and purposes, have carried over into the New 52: It brought back Barry Allen and “killed” Batman. I was reminded of the latter two weeks ago, when a one-panel flashback in Robin Rises: Omega indicated pretty strongly that Darkseid’s Omega Effect (coincidence?) sent the New 52’s Caped Crusader bouncing through the time stream, just like his continuity-complicated predecessor. Accordingly, like so many DC stories of yore, Final Crisis still seems to have happened, even if in a significantly altered form.
Before we get too much further, rest assured this post isn’t dedicated to figuring out how a Final Crisis-shaped peg fits into a one-panel Robin Rising hole. Instead, I want to talk about how another FC plot point is helping to alter my perceptions of continuity.
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.