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Food or Comics? | Caviar or Cavalier Mr. Thompson

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.

Conan the Barbarian #8

John Parkin

If I had $15: Whoah, another tough week to narrow things down. Is every Brian Wood-written title required to come out the same week of each month? Do Dark Horse and Marvel get together and plan it that way, so that people who only buy Wood comics only have to go to the store once a month? I think more than half the DC titles I buy come out this time every month, too. So yeah, lots to pick from …

Anyway, I’d start with one of those Brian Wood comics, Conan the Barbarian #8 (Dark Horse, $3.50), which features Vasilis Lolos on art. Lolos drew one of my favorite issues of Northlanders, “The Viking Art of Single Combat,” so it’s cool to see the two of them working together again. I’d also get a comic I’m sure will be popular with a few of my colleagues, the first issue of the new Stumptown miniseries by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth (Oni Press, $3.99). Next I’d get Manhattan Projects #6 (Image, $3.50); this issue turns the focus from America’s secret science program to Russia’s secret science program. Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra are having a lot of fun with this one. Finally, I’d get Uncanny X-Force #31 (Marvel, $3.99), which really picked things up last issue … and this is a comic that’s usually running on twice as many cylinders anyway.

If I had $30, I’d also grab two finales from DC Comics — Shade #12 and Resurrection Man #0 (both $2.99). Honestly, I never expected to see a Resurrection Man comic again, much less by the guys who wrote the original, so the fact that we got a good run of 13 issues is a pleasant surprise. Shade, of course, was planned as 12 issues from the beginning, and was a nice return to the Starman-verse by writer James Robinson. That leaves me room for three more $2.99 comics, which means I’m going to bypass X-Men, The Massive and Avengers Assemble this week (let’s assume that I’ll one day spend my splurge money on the trades) and instead go with Chew #28 (Image, $2.99), It Girl and the Atomics #2 (Image, $2.99) and Demon Knights #0 (DC Comics, $2.99).

Splurge: Assuming I wouldn’t spend my unlimited gift card on single issues, I’d be looking at the first Bucko collection from Dark Horse ($19.99) and Fantagraphics’ Is That All There Is? trade ($25).

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Comics A.M. | Vertical snags Gundam: The Origin, Wolfsmund

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin

Publishing | Vertical Inc. announced Sunday at Otakon in Baltimore that it has licensed Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s 23-volume Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin and Mitsuhisa Kuji’s Wolfsmund. [Anime News Network]

Publishing | A year after the launch of Kodansha Comics, general manager Kimi Shimizu and Dallas Middaugh of Random House Publisher Services discuss their re-release of Sailor Moon, Kodansha’s fall line and the state of the manga market in the post-Borders landscape. “Manga numbers have been in decline for the past couple years, but what we’ve discovered in the past year or so is that decline is dramatically slowing,” Middaugh said .”So the simple fact of the matter is that most manga readers —usually when they’re committed, they’re committed—are reading a series. I actually believe that it takes more than the loss of a retail outlet to keep them from pursuing the manga that they want to read.” [ICv2]

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Previews: What Looks Good for September

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. Michael and Graeme have each picked the five new comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a Top 10 of the best new comics coming out two months from now.

As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

Stumptown: The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case #1

Graeme McMillan

Blacklung HC (Fantagraphics Books, $24.99): This one grabbed me as soon as I read the high-concept in the solicits: A man decides to be as evil as possible so that he’ll be reunited with his dead wife in Hell when he dies. Depressing, existential AND romantic? I couldn’t sign up quickly enough for Chris Wright’s original graphic novel debut.

Chris Ware: Building Stories HC (Pantheon Books, $50.00): To be honest, I run hot and cold on Ware’s work; as a formalist, he’s wonderful and his work is technically perfect, but I don’t always get the emotional hook that I want from his work, and that’s a real problem for me. Luckily (or not? This is a pricey book to gamble on), the technical aspects of this box set of interrelated publications, all seen for the first time here, sounds interesting enough to sample no matter how cold the writing leaves me. Damn my curiosity about comics formats!

Happy! #1 (of 4) (Image Comics, $2.99): I’ll admit it; I’m more than a little dubious about the “It’s a hit man teaming up with a magical flying My Little Pony” set-up of this new series, but it’s Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson, so I almost feel a sense of “How bad can it actually BE?”

Steed and Mrs. Peel #1 (BOOM! Studios, $3.99): I’ve always enjoyed the old Avengers TV show at something of arm’s length, having only seen a handful of episodes (but enjoyed them greatly); what draws me to this new series is the presence of Mark Waid, who seems to be on fire these days between Insufferable and Daredevil.

Stumptown: The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case #1 (Oni Press, $3.99): Oh, you should’ve seen me when I found out this was finally coming out. Not only did I absolutely love the first Stumptown series a couple of years ago, but I’ve also been on a Greg Rucka novel re-reading kick recently, so finding out that Dex’s client for this new story is the lead character from A Fistful of Rain made me almost impossibly happy. Easily my most-anticipated book of the month.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Ed Brubaker isn’t walking through that door

Gotham Central #1

What does Ed Brubaker leaving Captain America have to do with New-52 storytelling? For me, the connection goes through Gotham Central.

Okay, that requires a bit more explanation. Mr. Brubaker isn’t leaving Captain America on bad terms, but apart from Winter Soldier he’s not especially interested in writing any more superhero comics. It’s not the same as Chris Roberson’s principled departure from DC, but it puts me in a similar mood.

Like Roberson, Brubaker is a good storyteller who can incorporate shared-universe lore effectively into his comics. For example, Winter Soldier’s first issue started out as a straightforward super-spy caper, but abruptly veered close to Silver-Age-Wacky territory with [SPOILER ALERT, I guess] the arrival of a gun-toting ape. The rest of the arc combined a couple of longtime Fantastic Four villains (one minor, one pretty major) with the threat of regional warfare. It never did get truly goofy, but it was rooted in a Marvel Universe where the former Soviet Union had some pretty odd operatives. Of course, the Winter Soldier concept itself is a retcon (Bucky was revived as Soviet covert agent) of a retcon (he died near the end of World War II).

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What Are You Reading? with Ed Piskor

G.I. Joe #60

This week our special guest is Ed Piskor, creator of Wizzywig and Brain Rot, and artist on the Harvey Pekar-written graphic novels Macedonia and The Beats.

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

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The Middle Ground #105 | How long has this been going on?

Reading Greg Rucka feel anxious about the timely release of his new Stumptown arc got me thinking about the strange, hypocritical and entirely arbitrary attitude I have somehow developed toward the shipping schedules of superhero books versus creator-owned comics. Warning: It may be ridiculous.

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Quote of the day | ‘Last year was not banner for the ladies’

“This past year, 2011, I was asked this question a lot, and here we are into the first quarter of 2012, and it’s happening again (or still, if you rather). Most frequently, it comes up in regard to my work in the comics industry. Last year was not banner for the ladies, and this one isn’t off to a strong start, either, in fact. Wasn’t good for women within the industry itself, nor within the pages of the stories being told. Those who’ve had the unmitigated temerity to actually comment upon this state of affairs publicly have ended up paying a surprisingly heavy price. The gender of the speaker has been largely irrelevant, though to be sure, it’s the women who’ve stepped up have taken the harder hits. But all who’ve pointed out the absence of women both on the page and behind it have been ridiculed, insulted, and, absurdly enough, even threatened with violence. Conversely, those attempting to defend their mistreatment of women within the industry have revealed a staggering lack of understanding, empathy, and self-awareness, while seeming to rejoice in an arrogance that is near heart-stopping in its naked sexism and condescension.

To say there are those who don’t get it is an understatement; it would be like describing the Japanese tsunami as ‘minor flooding.’”

Greg Rucka, in an essay addressing the frequently asked question,
“How Do You Write Such Strong Female Characters?”


Comics A.M. | Marvel answers frustrated mom’s call for help

West Coast Avengers #1

Comics | When 4-year-old Anthony Smith didn’t want to wear his hearing aid because superheroes don’t wear them, his mother emailed Marvel to ask if they had any pictures of superheroes wearing a hearing aid. Not only did Marvel editor Bill Rosemann respond with an image of the cover of 1984′s West Coast Avengers #1, which featured Hawkeye wearing a hearing aid, he also had artist Nelson Ribeiro transform Anthony into a superhero, Blue Ear. [Concord Monitor]

Publishing | Former Marvel editor Jody LeHeup, who was let go by the publisher in October during a round of layoffs, has joined Valiant Entertainment as associate editor. [press release]

Conventions | Rich Lopez has a gallery of photos from last weekend’s Dallas Comic Con. [The Dallas Voice]

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Matthew Southworth reveals title, cover art for next Stumptown volume

In February, Stumptown artist Matthew Southworth teased that he and writer Greg Rucka would return this summer with another installment of the Oni Press crime series. Now on his blog he’s revealed the title of the series, “The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case,” as well as the cover art for the first issue, which should arrive in August.

Debuting in 2009, Stumptown follows Dex Parios, a Portland, Oregon, private investigator with a gambling problem who, in the first miniseries, accepted a job tracking down a casino owner’s granddaughter in exchange for settling her debt.

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What Are You Reading? with Alex Dueben

Sacre Bleu

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our special guest this week is Alex Dueben, who you probably know from his interviews for the main site, Comic Book Resources, as well as for sites like Suicide Girls.

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

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This weekend, it’s Emerald City Comicon

Emerald City Comicon kicks off today and continues through Sunday at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

Scheduled guests include Bryan Lee O’Malley, Robert Kirkman, Brandon Graham, Don Rosa, Bill Sienkiewicz, Greg Rucka, Jhonen Vasquez, Matt Fraction, Gail Simone, Ed Brubaker, Jim Valentino, Bill Willingham, Erik Larsen, Marc Silvestri, Jim Woodring, Brian Wood, Tim Sale, Mike Allred, Kurt Busiek, Darick Robertson, Greg Capullo, Dan Slott, Steve Lieber, Rick Remender, Steve Niles, Phil Hester, Joëlle Jones, Nate Powell, Chris Roberson, Tony Moore, Ben Templesmith, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Scott Wegener, Shannon Wheeler, Brian Churilla, David Petersen, Colleen Coover, Nathan Edmondson, Joe Casey, Paul Tobin, Francis Manapul, Ryan North, Jeff Parker, Ryan Ottley, Jamie S. Rich, Tim Seeley, Nick Spencer, Matt Wagner, Thom Zahler, Scott Kurtz, Joe Keatinge, Daryl Gregory and many more.

You can find the complete programming schedule on the ECCC site, and here’s a round-up of various things you can do, buy and expect to find out about at the show …

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Food or Comics? | Empowered or empanadas

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.

Orc Stain #7

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d grab with two hands the new issue of Orc Stain #7 (Image, $2.99). Stokoe is one of the few people in mainstream comics blending storytelling in art and writing seamlessly, creating an organic piece of work that’s as good to eat as some of the fictional food he presents in the book. Spaceman #4 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) has, in its short run, showed the best of what can be done at Vertigo and is pretty exhilarating, especially if you re-read it from the beginning. After that I’d pick up my regular double-shot: Invincible #89 (Image, $2.99) and Walking Dead #94 (Image, $2.99), and then top it off with The Twelve #10 (Marvel, $2.99). I’m appreciative Marvel and the creators saw fit to see it through, and the story’s all the better for it.

If I had $30, I’d go all company-owned super heroes. Avengers #23 (Marvel, $3.99) for the continuing fight against HYDRA by Brian Michael Bendis and Daniel Acuna. Acuna’s really (finally) had a chance to blossom on this book and I hope he sees it through for a good long while. After that I’d get FF #15 (Marvel, $2.99), which has silently outstripped Fantastic Four in my book; the added bonus for this issue particularly is seeing artist Nick Dragotta on this book. I’d wrap it all up with Batman Beyond Unlimited #1 (DC, $3.99). I’ll admit I missed out on the complete fervor of Batman Beyond, but I’m excited by Dustin Nguyen and Adam Beechen’s work and the possibilities of them taking on a future rendition of Batman and the JLA.

And if I could splurge, I’d check out the overlooked Key Of Z TPB (Boom!, $14.99). New York City street warfare told against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse? Sounds like my kind of book. Newcomer artist Aaron Kuder’s got an interesting style that I’d been meaning to check out, and this gives me just that chance.

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Comics A.M. | Anya’s Ghost, Zita the Spacegirl win Cybils Awards

Anya's Ghost

Awards | Two titles from First Second won the graphic novel categories in the 2011 Cybils Awards, literary honors given by bloggers who write about children’s and young-adult books: Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl received the graphic novel prize in the Elementary & Middle School category, while Vera Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost won in the Young Adult division. [Cybils]

Digital | With the Vita on the way, Sony is shutting down its PSP comics service, and users will lose their comics come September. [Gameranx]

Graphic novels | Craig Thompson’s Blankets made Oprah’s list of the eight greatest love stories of all time, taking its place alongside Brokeback Mountain and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. [Oprah.com]

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Comics A.M. | Thief steals all 64 volumes of One Piece

One Piece, Vol. 46

Crime | An energetic thief stole all 64 volumes of One Piece from a Japanese bookstore by stuffing 10 volumes at a time in his duffel bag. As One Piece is the most popular manga in Japan, he could have gotten a good price for his booty at a used manga store, had the forces of law not intervened. [Kotaku]

Legal | Michael Cavna talks with cartoonist Susie Cagle about being taken into custody again over the weekend during Occupy Oakland protests. [Comic Riffs]

Creators | Kiss member Gene Simmons still remembers the postcard he got from Stan Lee as a kid. [Noisecreep]

Comics | Jeff Parker and Erica Moen’s webcomic Bucko has reached its last panel, but Parker says a book is on the way, and there will be “exciting news” at Emerald City Comic Con. [Parkerspace]

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The Fifth Color | Pre-game thoughts on ‘The Omega Effect’

Omega Effect teaser

Not at all ominous...

Over what was most likely a perfect cup of Moroccan Mint green tea, Greg Rucka sat down for a discussion with Mark Waid and Steve Wacker about “The Omega Effect,” an upcoming crossover between The Avenging Spider-Man, The Punisher and Daredevil debuting in April.

In the story, the Man Without Fear will find himself in possession the Omega Drive, a file connecting five powerful criminal organizations — dangerous information that everyone’s going to want to get there hands on, right? That’s a well-used motive in our genre with the added twist of science; you see, Spider-Man is operating at the behest of Reed Richards, who invented the Omega Drive to begin with. So either Richards has been collecting dirty sheets on crime bosses in his spare time, or there’s something more delicate to what’s holding all this information in the first place. Remember all the math he used to keep in the basement telling him how to nudge society around? Yeah, this could get ugly.

That’s why we have the Punisher, who’ll go head to head with Spider-Man and Daredevil to put this information to good use — which, as we can guess, probably means shooting some fools. Waid and Rucka are more than willing to throw their supporting casts into the mix, as well as relevant story arcs that coincide with the trouble at hand. Spider-Man vowed that no one else would die on his watch, and that’s a hard vow to keep next to Frank Castle. Daredevil has had a long history with the Punisher, both falling on different sides of the very concept of justice. With his most recent fall from grace and return with a fresh attitude, how will the new Daredevil handle a man acting as judge, jury and executioner?

And the Punisher? Follow me on this one, guys, but what is Frank Castle going to get out of all of this?

(WARNING: Spoilers ahead for PunisherMAX #21 and Punisher #7, out this week.  Grab your copies and follow along!)

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