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Grumpy Old Fan | Grant Morrison divests himself of Batman

Well, it depends on your definition of "Batman," "Robin," and/or "die"...

Well, it depends on your definition of “Batman,” “Robin,” and/or “die”…

Remember when Batman was a jerk?

Remember when Batman was such a jerk that no less than Mark Waid called him “broken”?

Starting in 2006, writer Grant Morrison aimed to help fix him; and this week, with Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #13, Morrison concluded his Bat-saga. The issue is a neat encapsulation of the themes Morrison has played with for the past seven-plus years — including the portability (and immortality) of “Batman,” the uniqueness of Bruce Wayne, and the importance of not going alone — all drawn with verve and giddy energy by Chris Burnham. (There’s even a dialogue sequence where the punchline is “Cancelled!”) Like the infinite-Batman cover or the eternal-circle image that dominates an early spread, Batman will go on, but it is the end of a unique era.

As usual, though, some history first …

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Morrison’s ‘Wonder Woman’ is ‘a mother and daughter story’

wonder woman-earth one3

While Grant Morrison’s remarks about bondage, submission and eroticism in early Wonder Woman comics may receive widespread attention, his more subdued comments in a new interview may actually shed the most light on his long-awaited take on the Amazing Amazon.

Talking to USA Today about Wonder Woman: Earth One, his 120-page graphic novel with artist Yanick Paquette, the writer explains that, “I’m really focusing a lot more on the mother and daughter story in it between Hippolyta and Diana. I want it to be that kind of book, a story about women.”

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At ‘Walking Dead’ bash, Morrison talks Flash, MorrisonCon 2

Grant Morrison and friend (photo by Pinguino Kolb)

Grant Morrison and friend (photo by Pinguino Kolb)

In an impromptu interview at The Walking Dead‘s 10th-anniversary party held during Comic-Con International, CBR’s Karl Keily spoke briefly with Grant Morrison about the one superhero he’d still like to tackle, the status of his Rogue Trooper screenplay, and whether fans should expect another MorrisonCon.

Karl Keily: You just wrapped up your epic, decade-long, redefining Batman run. Are there any other iconic characters you’d like to revamp next?

Grant Morrison: The Flash is the only one left that I would still do. If I’m gonna do the Flash, I want to do it as a science-fiction story like The Incredible Shrinking Man or Stephen King’s Thinner, or The Fly, where you basically take a scientist and then subject him to a very simple equation. For Barry Allen, he’d just be getting faster and faster and faster — and what would that mean? Because somewhere up there is the speed of light, and when you hit the speed of light, basically all time stops and it’s the end. That’s the limit. So we’re watching this guy progress through it, faster and faster. By the end of Act 1, his clothes are burning off every time he moves, so he has to build himself a suit, and then he paints the suit red like a Ferrari and is just speeding around like he’s on coke all the time! I want to do that as a sci-fi story, but out of it comes the familiar image of the Flash. I think that’d be totally different, just taking it from a different angle.

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SDCC ’13 | T-minus one day until Comic-Con

"Wonder Woman: Earth One" art by Yanick Paquette

“Wonder Woman: Earth One” art by Yanick Paquette

With all of the hustle and bustle and early announcements, it may be a little difficult to believe, but Preview Night is still a day away, and Comic-Con International doesn’t officially begin until Thursday. By that time, we should be fully exhausted.

But before we experience information overload, let’s take a look at  some of the pre-convention information trickling in, ranging from trolley schedules to etiquette and survival guides to where to live it up while in San Diego:

Entertainment Weekly highlights ‘five comics to watch” during Comic-Con: Marvel’s Inhuman and “Inhumanity,” Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette’s Wonder Woman: Earth One, DC’s “Villains Month,” the 10th anniversary of The Walking Dead, and Jeff Lemire’s Trillium.

• The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System has increased trolley service on the Green Line, which provides direct transportation to the stations in front of the San Diego Convention Center. Service also will be expanded throughout Comic-Con; see a complete rundown on the MTS website.

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Comics A.M. | Dark Horse bringing Kazuo Koike to Comic-Con

Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus, Vol. 1

Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus, Vol. 1

Creators | Dark Horse announced that legendary Lone Wolf and Cub writer Kazuo Koike will be its guest of honor at Comic-Con International in San Diego, where he’ll sign July 18-19 at the publisher’s booth (#2615). In 2014, Dark Horse will debut New Lone Wolf and Club, the 11-volume series by Koike and Hideki Mori (original artist Goseki Kojima passed away in 2000) that picks up where the initial saga ended. [Dark Horse]

Awards | The Judging Panel for the British Comic Awards has been announced. This panel will choose the final winners from a shortlist sent to them by the Judging Committee, which screens nominations from the public. [Forbidden Planet]

Commentary | Steve Morris pens a thoughtful essay on cost versus content in comics and what exactly you are paying for with your $2.99 (or, more frequently these days, $3.99). [The Beat]

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What Wonder Woman’s costume says about her message

wwcostume

My first thought when Wonder Woman with Grant [Morrison] was mentioned was ‘I don’t want her to be dressed as an American flag.’ Not because an American flag is wrong but it made no sense. She’s coming from such a rich, wonderful culture with so much iconography (Greek culture), so why does she not use that, and why would she dress up as a flag? She’s not Captain America. But at the same time, I understood that this kind of iconic color/texture is something that’s recognizable, so in that aspect it does have value. If I could reach the same design with a few differences, but make it so it’s not coming from the flag, it’s coming from a natural extension of her culture, I could live with this.

Wonder Woman: Earth One artist Yanick Paquette, on redesigning her costume from the ground up

Wonder Woman’s costume gets a lot of attention every time someone tries to change it, but usually the discussion is about how much skin it is or isn’t covering. That’s old and tired, and I’m glad Paquette is thinking about it for a different reason. I’d argue it’s the right reason.

One of the things that seems to stump a lot of Wonder Woman writers is her mission: What the hell is she supposed to be doing in our world? Is she a warrior or an ambassador of peace? Are those mutually exclusive descriptions or can she be both at once?

I think she can be both, in the same way that in her early years she could be a bondage fetishist while also advocating freedom. People who know a lot more about bondage than I do tell me it can be an incredibly liberating experience. Likewise, some of the biggest peace advocates I know have been career soldiers. It’s a strange dichotomy, but it’s real, and I can see it working in All-Star Comics #8, the first appearance of Wonder Woman.

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‘Wonder Woman: Earth One’ isn’t ‘about superheroes punching each other’

wonder woman-earth one

“It’s not a comic about superheroes punching each other. It’s about the sexes and how we feel about one another, and what a society of women cut off from the rest of the world for 3,000 years might look like, and what kind of sexuality, what kind of philosophy, what kind of science would that have developed, and how would that impact our world if it actually suddenly became apparent that these women existed. So for me, that was always the original Wonder Woman story, but when you hear it retold, there’s a lot of potential in there to talk about the way we live today and the way the sexes view one another, especially in an age when pornography has become so ubiquitous, to go back to this sort of strange eroticism that Martson had. I think it is a really interesting way to talk about the issues we have in the world today.”

Grant Morrison, discussing Wonder Woman: Earth One, his upcoming 120-page original graphic novel with artist Yanick Paquette

Final cover for ‘The Complete Zenith’ escapes into the wild

zenith3

As the date of 2000AD/Rebellion’s limited release of The Complete Zenith draws near, the publicity campaign for the book also reaches its, uh, zenith.

No matter where you stand on the ethics of the release, or on the matter of the material’s ownership (and I’m sure there will be plenty more claims and counter-claims on that issue to come), it must be stated that the final cover is a great-looking design, strong and bold and graphic.

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2000AD/Rebellion announces ‘The Complete Zenith’

969116_10151413450736366_388786608_nRather coyly, the folks at 2000AD posted this image on their Facebook timeline a few days ago. It could be seen as the culmination in a series of dropped hints that began with assorted editorial staff turning up at recent conventions in T-shirts adorned with the Zenith logo. Today they have announced that, for the first time, they’ll be reprinting a complete collected edition of Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell’s lost superhero masterpiece Zenith.

Morrison had a lengthy period in comics before Zenith, working for assorted undergrounds and indies, DC Thomson and Marvel UK, but I think it’s fair to say that this was his breakthrough work in the 1980s for 2000AD, the strip were he really found his voice, and led directly to him being scooped up by DC Comic for Animal Man. The rest, as they say, is history.

2000AD PR droid Michael Molcher states: “Thanks to legal complications the whole of the series has never been reprinted before. So this is the first complete Zenith in a hardback £100 (about $151 U.S.) limited and never-to-be-repeated edition. It will be exclusively available for pre-order through our online shop on 1 July and we’re expecting insanely high demand (copies of the individual Phases got for over £100 a time on eBay!).”

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Why are we afraid of ‘The End’?

Green Lantern #20, Geoff Johns' final issue

Green Lantern #20, Geoff Johns’ final issue

The mythologies built by comics, particularly superhero comics, is often pointed out as one of the great accomplishments of the medium.

There’s no doubt the Marvel and DC universes are impressive feats of world-building. In Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, Sean Howe proclaimed the Marvel Universe “the most intricate fictional narrative in the history of the world”. If you discount DC because of its various universe resets from Crises and Flashpoints and what-have-yous, I guess that’s true. Whoever gets to wear the crown, both sets of characters have been generating dozens of stories, usually hundreds of stories, every month since the late 1930s. Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon universe might be in third place.

Of course, superhero comics aren’t alone in this: In Japan, popular manga series also tend to get pretty long in the tooth. Osamu Akimoto’s police comedy Kochikame has been running weekly since 1976, resulting in more than 1,700 chapters collected in nearly 200 volumes. Takao Saito’s twice-monthly crime manga Golgo 13 is older, having launched in 1969. One Piece has 69 volumes, Naruto has 64, and Bleach 58.

These are amazing accomplishments, but we don’t appreciate the satisfying arc of a finite story often enough.

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DC Entertainment declares June 12 Man of Steel Day

all-star superman

In anticipation of the June 14 release of the new Superman movie, DC Entertainment has declared Wednesday, June 12, Man of Steel Day.

Sponsored by Sears, the event will see comic shops and bookstores give away copies of All-Star Superman Special Edition #1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Not so coincidentally, June 12 also marks the debut of Superman Unchained, the new DC Comics series by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee launched to coincide with director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. That first issue you’ll have to pay $4.99 for (it comes with a two-sided poster).

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‘The most important thing is the long, involved soap operas’

morrison-darkseid

“They’re missing the full spectrum of these character’s emotional lives. The most important thing is the long, involved soap operas. It’s a type of narrative that you don’t get anywhere else except on very long-running soap operas, where characters can go into depth. 20 pages every month going into these characters lives over decades give you a lot more insight and a lot more involvement than say a two hour movie, even with Robert Downey Jr.”

Grant Morrison, explaining what fans of superhero movies are missing if they don’t read the comic books

DC sends off ‘Batman Incorporated’ with one-shot special [Updated]

batman-inc-special-cropped

Although Grant Morrison is drawing down the curtain on Batman Incorporated with July’s Issue 13, DC Comics will give the series a final hoorah in August with a special one-shot anthology.

Ahead of the release of August’s solicitations, the publisher has announced Batman Incorporated Special #1, featuring stories about Man-of-Bats, Red Raven, Jiro, Knight, El Gaucho and other characters by the likes of Chris Burnham, Ethan Van Sciver, Dan DiDio and Joe Keatinge.

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What Are You Reading? with Chris Sims

Wolverine_and_the_X-Men_tease

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at all the comics and other stuff we’ve been checking out lately. Today our special guest is Chris Sims, senior writer for ComicsAlliance, blogger at Chris’s Invincible Super Blog and writer of comics like Dracula the Unconquered and Awesome Hospital.

To see what Chris and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Grumpy Old Fan | July brings solicits heard ‘round the world

He's a Brainiac, Braaaainiac on - the - flo-oo-or ...

He’s a Brainiac, Braaaainiac on – the – flo-oo-or …

Don’t ask why — because the answer is too boring and has nothing to do with Steven Spielberg — but the other day I was thinking about the original 13 American colonies, and from there the general course of American history across the 18th and 19th centuries. Naturally, from there I imagined how DC Comics would solicit the story of a young nation. It ended up being something like a team book: Meet the states that will form a great democracy — and discover the shocking secret which threatens to tear them apart–!

And then, as fate would have it, DC released its July solicitations, and my stab at patriotic humor was somewhat justified. So there you go.

In any event, on to “Trinity War” –!

WORLD WAR T

Say, remember when “World War III” was an actual part of DC history? I’m not talking about the Great Disaster, or something that happened in the hazy interregnum between the present and the Legion of Super-Heroes, or even the final Grant Morrison/Howard Porter JLA arc. No, as part of 52 (2006-07), “World War III” was the name given to a week-long global Black Adam rampage. I bring it up because it’s no longer in continuity, and we still don’t know (beyond another “Villain Month”) what’s coming in September for the New 52′s second anniversary.

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