Axel-In-Charge: Waid & Samnee on "Black Widow" and the Dawn of the All-New, All-Different Era
If, for some reason, that Joker mask inspired by Batman: Death of the Family isn’t harrowing enough, there’s now a Clown Prince of Crime lawn ornament virtually guaranteed to send trick-or-treaters screaming from your home.
Advertised by ThinkGeek as the innocous-sounding “DC The Joker Ground Breaker,” it’s actually a night full of terror packed into an oversize garden gnome. Based on artist Greg Capullo’s design, this grinning, knife-wielding Joker looks as if he’s clawing his way out of the ground, ready to grab unsuspecting passersby (and their candy).
While offering an update on the delayed Two-Face action figure, DC Collectibles debuted a first look at two more entries in the DC Comics Greg Capullo Designer Series: The Flash and Survival Suit Batman, based on the designs by the acclaimed Batman artist.
Set to arrive in the second half of 2016, they’ll join a lineup of figures in the Designer Series that already includes Batman, Nightwing, Catwoman, Commissioner Gordon, The Riddler, Talon, Mr. Freeze, the Red Hood and Thrasher Suit Batman. Oh, and of course Two-Face, which is targeted for release in December.
Sure, Stefanos Anagnostopoulos could’ve bought a Joker mask based on Greg Capullo’s Batman design. But why do that when he can simply make his own? Although not from his own skin, of course …
The designer, whom you may remember from that incredible 3D-printed Ant-Man helmet, decided to turn his attention to DC Comics, which led him to Capullo and Scott Snyder’s “Death of the Family” storyline and that gruesome Joker mask.
Known for his work on classic films like “An American Werewolf in London” and “Men in Black,” special effects legend Rick Baker set his sights on a pet project of his own: recreating the Joker from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman story, “Death of the Family.”
On Twitter, Baker shared a few snapshots of his Capullo-influenced design as it progressed, from its grayscale concept to its full color rendering. Though there have been several iterations of the character, Capullo’s particular version of the Joker removed the skin for his own face and wore it like a mask, and Baker reflects that in his creepy design.
Todd McFarlane has unveiled a glimpse of a planned Spawn/Batman crossover that never saw the light of day. In what the Image Comics co-founder characterizes as “a bit of fate,” the project was to have been drawn by current Batman artist, and longtime McFarlane collaborator, Greg Capullo.
“Years ago there was a deal for DC Comics and myself to do a cool Batman/Spawn cross-over book (for those not hip to comic lingo, that’s a book in which both characters are in the same issue),” McFarlane writes in a Facebook post accompanying the long-lost cover. “I [was] to have written and inked it, while a talented penciller, Greg Capullo, was going to draw it. For a variety of reasons (mostly on my shoulders) the book never got off the ground, but a few pages and promo pieces were done for it. Below is one such piece drawn by Greg and inked by myself.”
Ahead of the arrival of the landmark 250th issue, Todd McFarlane has unveiled “The Evolution of Spawn,” a graphic tracing the character’s numerous costumes, from the original design to the Greg Capullo-drawn Commando Spawn to Jonboy Meyers’ upcoming interpretation.
“And if you’re doing the math, that’s 24 YEARS. TWENTY-FOUR!!!!!!!!” McFarlane writes on Facebook. “It’s cool to look back and see how things have changed since 1992….it’s hard to believe we’re already coming up on our #250th issue.”
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman is big in New York City. Well, huge may be more like it.
At 13th Dimension, Dan Greenfield has a gallery of photos taken over the holiday weekend at Times Square, where Google’s block-long, 8-stories-tall digital billboard — the largest in North America — ran an ad for Batman, Vol. 1: The Court of Owls (available on Google Play, naturally).
All-New Doop (Marvel): It’s perfectly appropriate for any series starring peripheral X-Men character Doop to be a weird one, however, the miniseries collected in this trade paperback is weird in a weird way.
Doop was created by writer Peter Milligan and artist Mike Allred for their iconoclastic (and somewhat -controversial) 2001 X-Force run, which was then relaunched under the name The X-Statix. The premise involved a group of celebrity-wannabe mutants who used their powers for fame and fortune by starring in a reality show; holding the camera was a mysterious, gross, floating, potato-shaped green creature that spoke its own, indecipherable language and answered to the name Doop.
Milligan imagined a dramatic behind-the-scenes life for the character in a two-part, 2003 Wolverine/Doop miniseries, and writer Jason Aaron ran with the joke, including Doop as a member of the faculty at the Jean Grey School during his Wolverine and The X-Men run. For the most part, Doop functioned as a background joke, one more signifier of the zany environment of the new school for young mutants, though Aaron did pair with Doop’s co-creator Allred for a one-issue story that focused on the character as a behind-the-scenes, floating potato-thing-of-all-trades.
Milligan returns to the character for this miniseries, in which Allred only provides the covers, while David LaFuente draws the majority of the art. Milligan takes Doop’s behind-the-scenes portfolio to an extreme, marking him as a character capable of traveling through “The Marginalia,” entering and exiting the comic-book tales in order to influence their outcome.
The story Doop influences here is “Battle of the Atom,” the Brian Michael Bendis-helmed X-Men crossover that involved Cyclops’ X-Men team, Wolverine’s X-Men team and an X-Men team from the future engaged in a fight over what to do with the teenage original X-Men plucked out of the Silver Age and currently hanging around the present.
Wednesday was Batman Day, the official date for celebrating the character’s 75th anniversary. It’s fine to have a Batman Day, I guess — I’ve been getting emails from online bookstores saying “Celebrate Batman Day with our sales!” so it’s coming across in practice like President’s Day — but Batman is so ubiquitous in pop culture that you might as well have a McDonald’s Day or a Coca-Cola Day. (In a perfect world there would be a Rockford Files Day.)
Anyway, appropriately enough, each of the two regular Bat-books DC published this week looked at one end of Batman’s timeline. Batman Vol. 2 #33 wrapped up “Zero Year,” the latest (and perhaps the most epic) version of the character’s origins; and Batman and Robin Vol. 2 #33 presented “Robin Rises, Part One,” the latest chapter in Damian Wayne’s posthumous saga. While the former ended impressively, the latter is off to a slow start.
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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).
Just in case those Court of Owls masks weren’t creepy enough for you, DC Comics will release the paperback collection of Batman’s “Death of the Family” storyline with a replica hand-painted vinyl latex mask of The Joker, with sewn-on hair.
Yes, that’s a mask based on the one the Clown Prince of Crime made out of his own skin, after having the Dollmaker carve off his face in the relaunched Detective Comics #1. Even if you don’t follow the comic, you’ll likely recognize the mask from DC’s marketing for Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s “Death of the Family” arc (above).
Comics sales | ICv2 crunches the January numbers and calculates that just one comic, Batman #27, sold more than 100,000 copies in January, something that hasn’t happened since August 2011; this follows a weak December in which only three comics broke the 100,000 mark. The retail news and analysis site also lists the top 300 comics and graphic novels for the month. [ICv2]
Creators | Batman writer Scott Snyder talks about his plans for Batman #28, writing the Riddler, working with artist Greg Capullo on the action sequences, and getting ready for Batman’s 75th anniversary. [Hero Complex]
Creators | Eugenia Williamson profiles Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb, whose work as artists on the Adventure Time comics has brought them an unexpected measure of fame. [The Boston Globe]
While DC Comics sacrificed some bragging rights in 2011 when it rebooted its superhero line, even the never-before-renumbered Action Comics and Detective Comics, one consequence of relaunching TEC was that it was only a matter of time — 26 months, to be exact — before the company got around to publishing a new Detective Comics #27. And that the second Detective Comics #27 would see release during the 75th year of Batman’s career, well, all the better.
The first Detective Comics #27, published in 1939, was, of course, the first appearance of Batman. The anthology’s cover was surrendered to an arresting image of a spooky man in tights, wearing a bat-mask and sporting huge bat-like wings, scooping up a gangster in a headlock while swinging in front of the yellow field above a city skyline. “Starting this issue,” the cover trumpted, “The Amazing and Unique Adventures of The Batman.” Inside, Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s pulp- and film-inspired detective hero cracked the “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” and the amazing and unique adventures begun therein have yet to cease.
DC has honored that milestone in various ways over the years, with notable celebrations including Michael Uslan and Peter Snejbjerg’s 2003 Elseworlds one-shot Batman: Detective No. 27, and 1991’s Detective Comics #627, in which the Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle and Marv Wolfman/Jim Aparo creative teams did their own takes on “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” and both the original story and a 30th-anniversary version by Mike Friedrich and Bob Brown were reprinted.
This week brings Detective Comics (Vol. 2) #27, and another opportunity to celebrate that original issue, and Batman’s 75th anniversary, which DC does in a 90-page, prestige-format special issue — essentially a trade paperback with some ads in it — featuring contributions from the writers of all four of the main Batman books of the moment and about as strong a list of contributing artists as a reader could hope for.
Avengers: Endless Wartime (Marvel Entertainment): Marvel’s new line of original graphic novels — note the “Marvel OGN” logo on the spine — is off to a pretty strong start with this continuity-light Warren Ellis-written, Mike McKone-drawn story of an Avengers squad facing a new form of semi-sentient weapon evolved from a generation-old attempt to marry Nazi science with Norse magic.
That’s a good conflict for an Avengers comic, as the team includes a Nazi-fighting hero and a Norse god, and, better still, both Captain America and Thor were tied to the this new weapon’s origin.
Ellis does his usual fine job of mixing current science, speculative next-level science, elements of our zeitgeist and corporate superheroes with something that feels appropriate, cool and like the writer has something to say. Additionally, he has a pretty decent handle on the characters, and does a relatively good job of singling out particular voices (this is the first time in a long time that I’ve read an Avengers comic where everyone didn’t talk like Brian Michael Bendis).
Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Wolverine, Captain Marvel, Black Widow and Hawkeye, who reflects Matt Fraction’s version, are a bit of a rag-tag group, but they seem to be assembled primarily for their military backgrounds. “Do you know, I just realized I’m the only non-soldier in the room,” Tony Stark says at one point, and Captain Marvel sneers back, “That’s right, Tony. You’re just an ex-arms manufacturer in a metal death suit.”
DC Comics hasn’t had a particularly good run of things lately. To be frank, the publisher has done blown it a number of times over the past few years. But don’t worry, DC fans — I’m sure it’ll soon be Marvel’s turn, as the two rivals seem to trade off every five years or so.
I’ve been calling out DC for the past couple of weeks, but that doesn’t mean everything it does strikes me as wrong. It’s important to declare shenanigans, but it’s also important to recognize when a publisher does something that’s good for comics.
So here are six things DC is doing right:
1. Digital comics: Legends of the Dark Knight and Adventures of Superman are digital-first anthology series that feature some excellent creators (from Jeff Parker and Chris Samnee to J.M. DeMatteis and Jeff Lemire) producing completely accessible and entertaining stories that stand on their own; no college course on the New 52 or Crisis on Infinite Earths required. Yes, these stories are out of continuity — so for a percentage of readers, they don’t count. That’s a mistake, because there’s nothing wrong with a straight-up superhero tale that exists on its own terms. These two anthologies are the gems of DC’s digital-first line-up, but Batman ’66 and Batman: Li’l Gotham also offer fantastical takes on the iconic Caped Crusader that are bright and fun. For those exhausted by the angsty versions of serious stories, you owe it to yourself to check these out.