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Crisis on Earth-3D!: Villains Month, Week One

forever evil

If you’ve been keeping up with the events in the DC Universe, then you know things are looking particularly grim for the good guys.

At the conclusion of “Trinity War,” the Justice Leagues faced an invasion from the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 — “The birthplace of all evil,” as one character called it — evil counterparts of the Justice League. In the first issue of Forever Evil, these villains claimed to have killed all of the Justice Leaguers, they freed all the supervillains from all the super-prisons and organized them into an army called The Secret Society, they did some awful things to Nightwing and then even moved the moon to permanently block out the sun.

Those jerks.

To mark the occasion of evil temporarily winning (again), DC declared September Villains Month, and is interrupting the ongoing adventures of its heroes with special “.1″ issues starring various villains. Each of these was to bear a fancy plastic 3D cover that jacked the price up a buck and ultimately created shortages, an artificial collectors/speculators market and irritated a whole bunch of retailers, many of whom were already pretty irritated by having to figure out how to order something like, say, Justice League #23.3: Dial E, which fused one of the publisher’s best selling comics with one of its worst.

We — and by that I mean you and I, for the course of this post — aren’t going to concern ourselves with that aspect of the books, however. Instead, let’s look under those covers, whether they’re the fancy plastic 3D ones or the regular, cheaper “standard edition” ones and concern ourselves with the quality of the comics concealed behind the covers.

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Grumpy Old Fan | DC goes dark in November

Ironically, not part of the "blackout"

Not part of the blackout

There’s no solicitation for Justice League 3000 in November, and it’s not hard to imagine why. Reworking a first issue from scratch, with a new artist and what sounds like a new tone, undoubtedly isn’t something even one of the Big Two can do on short notice. Instead, DC Comics goes back to the Bat-well both for November’s only new series, and to goose the sales of various superhero titles.

As always, though, there’s enough in the new batch of solicitations to keep us busy this week — so without further ado …

ALWAYS BET ON BLACK

Apparently “Zero Year” will include a “Blackout In Gotham” plot point that can stretch into a dozen other DC titles, including non-Bat-books like Action Comics, Green Arrow, Green Lantern Corps and The Flash. This makes a certain degree of sense, as it takes place back in the “before-time” of the George W. Bush administration, before the various superhero jurisdictions were established, so you’d expect someone like Superman to take a road trip if he thought Gotham needed him. However, thanks largely to this being Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman, the blackout — which, as far as I can tell, would otherwise be just one part of one title’s flashback storyline — ends up involving more books than DC’s actual line-wide Big Event, Forever Evil. The latter includes the eponymous miniseries, three ancillary miniseries and the three Justice League books, but only two other ongoing series (Teen Titans and Suicide Squad, each of which has been tied into 4EVEv since it started). The total is “Zero Year” 13, Forever Evil 9, and almost half of the latter’s score is miniseries. Personally, I don’t mind a discrete Big Event, and I’m not surprised that DC would exploit “Zero Year.” I’m just a little surprised at how heavily it seems to be relying on “Zero Year” in November.

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Every issue is someone’s first: short reviews of four #2’s

astro cityAs Stan Lee sayings go, “Every comic book is someone’s first” isn’t quite as well-known as “With great power comes great responsibility,” but it’s nevertheless one that comics editors and creators should integrate and internalize just as thoroughly. It’s probably much less true today, now that comics are sold primarily through specialty shops (and, increasingly, online)  instead of on newsstands and spinner racks, than whenever Lee first said it.

But regardless of whether Executive Assistant Assassins #13, Fearless Defenders #7 or Tarot Witch of the Black Rose #81 — to pick three titles from this week’s shipping list — will actually be anyone’s first comic book, as long as publishers continue to sell comics as serialized stories, then the thought that one of those could be someone’s introduction is a pretty good guiding principle for creating those comics.

With that in mind, this week I read a handful of second issues of some prominent new books from the biggest players in the direct market, with an eye toward how friendly the material might be toward a new reader starting the series — or comics in general — with that issue.

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Comics A.M. | Jeff Robinov to exit Warner Bros. amid shakeup

Jeff Robinov

Jeff Robinov

Business | Following weeks (if not months) of rumblings, Warner Bros. has made it official: Jeff Robinov, the Warner Bros. Pictures Group president who oversaw the 2009 restructuring of DC Comics into DC Entertainment, will leave the studio following a reorganization that establishes a new leadership team: Sue Kroll, president of worldwide marketing and distribution, Greg Silverman, president of creative development and worldwide production, and Toby Emmerich, president and chief operating officer of New Line Cinema. It doesn’t appear as if Robinov will be replaced. DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson, who initially reported Robinov, presumably will answer directly to Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara; following a shakeup last month in the television and home entertainment division, Nelson reported to both Robinov and Tsujihara. [The Hollywood Reporter]

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From ‘Robot Stories’ to Jonathan Coulton: Six random questions with Greg Pak

robotroulette

Thirty-six questions. Six answers. One random number generator. Welcome to Robot Roulette, where creators roll the virtual dice and answer our questions about their lives, careers, interests and more.

Today Greg Pak, writer of Batman/Superman, Vision Machine, Red Skull, Incredible Hercules, X-Treme X-Men and many other comics, steps up to the wheel.

Now let’s get to it …

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Quote of the Day | Why, after 75 years, Superman endures

batman-superman1“What makes it compelling as a story and a character is his tremendous backstory, which sets up the character as someone who is different than everybody, but striving to help. That sense of somebody that is an ‘other,’ someone who doesn’t belong but is doing his best to do the right thing all of the time. That’s incredibly compelling and universal. All of us, no matter how much we feel complete, sometimes feel like we’re on the outside, feel like we’re alone, feel like we’re strange and different. That’s why the Harry Potter books and movies are so popular. That’s why the X-Men are so popular. That’s why just about every pop culture phenomenon you can think of is so popular.

It’s amazing how many of the stories we love to cherish explore that sense of being different. That’s a universal human condition. And the reason Superman, in particular, is so compelling is because he’s on the outside, yet he’s doing his best to help everybody. That moral core of the character is something that we all, deep down, want to aspire towards. It’s that struggle to do the right thing that is really compelling. And it’s not easy for him. I think that’s another thing that great Superman writers have explored over the years. This is a guy that — everything should be easy for him because he’s Superman and he can do anything, but he is still in a constant struggle to figure out what the right thing to do is and how to do it.”

Greg Pak, writer of DC’s upcoming Batman/Superman series, explaining to Comic Book Resources what makes the Man of Steel such a compelling character

Marvel cancels Age of Apocalypse and X-Treme X-Men

Guiseppe Camuncoli's interlocking covers for "Age of Apocalypse" #14, "X-Treme X-Men" #13 and "Astonishing X-Men" #61

Even as Marvel further expands its mutant universe in April with the debut of X-Men by Brian Wood and Olivier Coipel, it will cancel two more X-titles as part of the finale of the “X-Termination” crossover event.

The publisher’s solicitations for April reveal that it will end David Lapham and Roberto De La Torre’s Age of Apocalypse with Issue 14 and Greg Pak and Andre Araujo’s X-Treme X-Men with Issue 13, with the latter teasing that “Kid Nightcrawler makes the ultimate sacrifice.” The two series will be sent off with interlocking covers by Guiseppe Camuncoli that connects to Astonishing X-Men #61, by Marjorie Liu and Matteo Buffagni, which was also part of “X-Termination” (see all three above). That title survives.

Both Age of Apocalypse and X-Treme X-Men recently had dropped below the 20,000-copy mark, traditionally viewed as Marvel’s “line of death,” with the former selling an estimated 19,337 copies to the direct market in December, and the latter just 16,682.

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Comics A.M. | Turkey lifts ban on thousands of books (and a comic)

Legal

Censorship | At least one comic, alas unnamed, was among the thousands of books removed this week from a Turkish government restricted list. Most of the bans were widely ignored anyway, but Metin Celal Zeynioglu, the head of Turkey’s publishers’ union, pointed out one important effect of lifting them: “Many of the students arrested in demonstrations are kept in prison because they’re carrying banned books. From now on, we won’t be able to use that as an excuse.” [The Australian]

Publishing | Tom Spurgeon’s latest holiday interview is with Shannon Watters, the editor of BOOM! Studios’ children’s comics line, which includes Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors and Peanuts. [The Comics Reporter]

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Looking Forward, Looking Back | Creators weigh in on 2012 and 2013 (Part 1)

Five Weapons

It’s become an annual tradition here during our birthday bash: No matter how much stuff we line up, people we interview, etc., there are still tons of folks we like to hear from and include in our giant New Year’s/anniversary/birthday activities. So, as we’ve done in past years, we asked a cross-section of comics folks what they liked in 2012 and what they’re excited about for 2013. We received so many this year that we’ve broken it down into two posts; watch for another one Tuesday.

But for now, check out all the great stuff people shared with us, including hints at new projects and even some outright announcements. Our thanks to everyone this year who responded. Also, thanks to Tim O’Shea, Michael May and Chris Arrant, who helped collect responses.

JIMMIE ROBINSON (Bomb Queen, Five Weapons)

What was your favorite comic of 2012?

Image’s Saga, Fatale, Hawkeye‘s reinvention is fresh and exciting, Peter Panzerfaust, Enormous by Tim Daniel. It’s hard to pin down just one because there is SO much good work coming out nowadays — from many publishers across the board.

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Food or Comics | 20th Century Boysenberries

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Sakuran, Volume 1

Chris Mautner

If I had $15, the third issue of Batman Inc. would be a must for me this week [after Chris turned in his picks, DC announced that the issue will be delayed until next month], especially since it features the return of Matches Malone, a character I wasn’t even aware I missed until now. I might also spring for the first issue of Axe Cop: President of the World, a new limited series featuring the hatchet-swinging lawman.

I read very little manga by Moyoco Anno, but what I have read has impressed me and what I’ve read about her has made me want to seek more of her work out. So with $30, I’d almost certainly nab Sakuran, Vol. 1, about a high-priced courtesan/geisha looking to escape her gilded cage.

If I really, really wanted to splurge, I’d plunk $125 down for the second printing of the Wally Wood EC Stories Artist Edition from IDW, of which I’ve only heard wonderful things. If my splurging had to be a little budget-friendly, and I was in a more academic mood, I’d at least flip through Cerebus: The Barbarian Messiah, a collection of critical essays on Dave Sim’s controversial opus.

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Northstar wedding ‘was in the works’ in Alpha Flight, Eaglesham says [Updated]

Nearly lost amid all the media attention over the upcoming wedding of Northstar and Kyle Jinadu in Astonishing X-Men #51, and the response by One Million Moms, is the revelation that the event was originally planned for another Marvel series — albeit one canceled almost five months ago.

Responding on his message board to news of the impending nuptials, former Alpha Flight artist Dale Eaglesham wrote, “This drives me absolutely crazy: Greg [Pak], Fred [Van Lente] and I do all the work of bringing the series back and they cancel it on us. Why didn’t they let US do the wedding ‘event’ which is clearly garnering attention, to stimulate readership [and] perhaps keep Alpha Flight going? This pisses me off. Oh no, let the ‘X’ books do it, as if they don’t get enough attention. Sigh. … This wedding was in the works on AF.”

Marvel has not yet responded to Robot 6’s request for comment.

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WonderCon | A round-up of announcements from Saturday

The second day of WonderCon in Anaheim, California, featured announcements ranging from Marvel’s new Captain Marvel series to Dark Horse’s new motion-comics venture to IDW Publishing’s Womanthology miniseries:

• In his “Talk to the Hat” panel, Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort revealed that Carol Danvers, long known as Ms. Marvel, will become Captain Marvel in a series by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy. He also announced that, spinning out of his Astonishing X-Men run, Greg Pak will team with Stephen Segovia for X-Treme X-Men, which includes Dazzler in its lineup. “You have no idea how hard I’ve fallen for this woman,” Pak told Newsarama. “She’s so much fun to write — she’s funny and real and wry; she’s a survivor who’s seen it all and lived to tell the tale; and she will save your life with rock and roll.”

• Dark Horse will bring motion comics featuring such characters as Hellboy, Conan, Usagi Yojimbo and the Umbrella Academy to Felicia Day’s new YouTube Channel Geek & Sundry, beginning April 2.

• IDW Publishing will follow Womanthology: Heroic, the Kickstarter-funded graphic novel anthology showcase for female creators, with a five-issue miniseries titled Womanthology: Space.

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WonderCon | X-Treme X-Men: ‘If you liked Exiles, you’ll like this’

X-Treme X-Men

Just as they promised, Marvel announced the return of X-Treme X-Men at Wondercon today. But if you were looking forward to the return of Slipstream, Lifeguard or any of the other characters who starred in the series that ran from 2001 to 2004, you might be a tad disappointed. However, if you were an Exiles fan, like myself, you’ll probably be pretty happy.

Announced during Marvel Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort’s Talk to the Hat panel at WonderCon, X-Treme X-Men will spin out of Greg Pak’s recent run on Astonishing X-Men and will feature some of the alternate reality X-Men he introduced. The art for the series is by Steve Segovia.

“Dazzler is the Marvel Universe character in it,” said Marvel’s Arune Singh. “There is a threat in existence but they have to stop a threat to reality. It’s Greg and that crazy ‘Planet Hulk’ mind of his. If you liked Exiles, you’ll like this.”

Exiles ran for 100 issues and featured the work of Judd Winick, Mike McKone, Chuck Austen, Jim Calafiore, Tony Bedard and several others, but it’s those first issues written by Winick that were really great. The team included alternate reality versions of various X-characters over the course of its run, like the Age of Apocalypse Blink and Sabretooth; Nocturne, the daughter of Nightcrawler and Scarlet Witch; a female Sunfire and the shape-changing Morph. It remains to be seen how this series will be set up, but if Pak can capture the fun of those early Exiles issues, I’m on board.

What Are You Reading? with Simon Monk

The Amazing Transformations of Jimmy Olsen

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week’s special guest is Simon Monk, an artist whose “Secret Identity” paintings we featured here on Robot 6 not too long ago. Monk is actually selling limited edition prints of his paintings on his website now, so go check them out.

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

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Comics A.M. | Artist Brett Ewins injured in struggle with police

The Art of Brett Ewins

Creators | Former Judge Dredd artist Brett Ewins suffered serious head injuries Saturday after he allegedly stabbed a police officer who responded to complaints about a man shouting throughout the night. Police say when they arrived the 56-year-old Ewins attacked them with a knife. One of the officers received minor wounds during the struggle, but Ewins was hospitalized, where he remains in serious condition. The newspaper report asserts the artist, best known for his work on Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper for 2000AD, has a history of mental-health problems. [Ealing Gazette]

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