How Lee & Kirby's "Fantastic Four" Birthed the Marvel Universe, Part 1
Although Saturday at Comic-Con International was dominated by movies and television — led by Warner Bros. Pictures, Marvel Studios and Legendary Pictures — there was still room for plenty of comics news. First and foremost, the announcement of Marvel’s Star Wars plans.
That line, telling canonical stories set between the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, launches in January with Star Wars, by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, followed in February by Star Wars: Darth Vader, by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca with covers by Adi Granov, and in March by the miniseries Star Wars: Princess Leia, by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson.
“What’s great about this time period is that all the characters are kind of on the table,” Aaron told CBR News. “Of course this is still early on and these people have pretty much just met each and just come together. So they’re still finding their place within this group and sort of figuring out their relationships with each other. Then there’s the fact that when you look at the gap between Episode IV and Episode V there’s some pretty major beats that happen off screen. So this gives up the opportunity to grab those beats and lay them down as part of the same canon as the movies.”
Hello and welcome to Shelf Porn, your weekly invitation into one fan’s life. Today’s collection comes from Blaine in Murfreesboro, Tennessee — a graphic designer, comic book collector and toy collector “for many years.” He shared his comics, toys, metal signs, Pez dispensers and more.
If you’d like to see your collection here on Robot 6, you can find submission details at the end of this post.
And now here is Blaine …
Have you ever heard the expression, “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing well?” Have you heard about DC Comics’ He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, whose first six-issue miniseries was just collected? Have any of the people involved with the creation of those comics heard of that expression? Because from the results, it sure doesn’t seem to be the case.
The comics are poorly made — among the worst I’ve seen produced by an industry-leading publisher — but they’re bad in a very particular way.
They aren’t unreadable; I made it all the way through He-Man and The Masters of the Universe Vol. 1 without giving up. If pressed, I’m sure I could come up with some worse, more poorly made comics from DC in the recent past, but I might have difficulty thinking of worse comics from creators of such a relatively high caliber as some of those involved with this project, or an example of a series so bewilderingly bad.
Seemingly rushed through production like a term paper written the night before it’s due, many of the comics’ problems appear to originate with there being just too many creators working too fast and with little communication to meet a particular deadline. But,the funny thing is that it’s just a He-Man comic that no one in the comics-reading audience seemed particularly excited about, let alone interested in.
So it’s hard to imagine a reason DC decided to steam ahead with its creation to meet an arbitrarily chosen deadline before, say, nailing down a single creative team. Put another way, this is a bad comic book, and I can tell you what makes it a bad comic book, but I can’t hazard a guess as to why the people responsible for it made the decisions they did that resulted in it being so bad.
I’ve noted in the past that Shelf Porn isn’t a competition — it’s a celebration of the diversity of collections from fans all over the world. Well, today we’re going to push that philosophy to the side for a good old-fashioned, knock-down, drag-out Shelf Porn Face-off! Two collections enter, but only one can leave the champion.
It started when I received an email from Tommy Baldwin, who said that he and his friend Shawn Hoklas wanted us to help settle the question “Who has the better room/collection?” I suggested we put it out to our readers to help decide. So, I’ve posted both sets of pictures today, and I’ve set up a poll so that you can vote for the room you think is better. If you aren’t sure how to decide, you can use the same criteria they use on Chopped — creativity, presentation and taste.
You can view Tommy’s collection below, then jump over to page two to take a look at Shawn’s. Finally, on page three, you’ll find a poll so you can vote for your choice. I’ll leave it open for a week, and then next Saturday we’ll declare a winner. Update: And we have a winner! Click over to the poll page to see who won.
Special thanks to Tommy and Shawn for sharing their collections with us. Now check them out!
DC Comics has debuted Ed Benes’ cover for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #4, which reveals a radically new look for the hero of television, film and toyboxes.
Gone are the trademark furry shorts and metal harness the character has worn since toymaker Mattel launched the line of action figures in 1981, replaced by what appears to be Eternia’s version of football gear, complete with honest-to-goodness pants.
“In the epic war against the forces of Hordak ripping through the pages of the current series, He-Man must don the sacred armor of his ancestors,” DC states on its blog. “While fans may be surprised by this turn of events, this dynamic direction for one of the world’s best-known heroes is firmly rooted in the classic legacy of MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. After all, so long as you stay true to the core concepts, it’s always exciting to explore new possibilities, right?”
Masters of the Universe #4 goes on sale in July.
To entice fans to subscribe to its new He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series, DC Comics has partnered with Mattel to create a limited-edition variant cover created using Masters of the Universe action figures. A 12-issue subscription can be purchased here.
Written by Keith Giffen and penciled by Pop Mhan, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #1 features the return of She-Ra to Eternia as He-Man’s newest enemy. It goes on sale April 17.
Retailing | ICv2 analyzes the August direct market numbers and comes up with some interesting patterns: While the market as a whole is up, the number of comics with sales of more than 1,000 has been declining; sales dropped a bit for most ongoing comics series in the Top 25, but strong sales of Before Watchmen and two annuals more than compensated for that; and graphic novels sell in far lower numbers than comics, but because many of them are backlist titles, the numbers still increase from year to year. ICv2 also posted lists of last month’s Top 300 comics and graphic novels. [ICv2]
Publishing | Yet another big publisher spawns a graphic novel imprint: This time it’s Penguin, whose Berkley/NAL division will launch a graphic novel imprint, InkLit, next month. Helmed by former DC vice president and Yen Press co-founder Rich Johnson, InkLit will publish both original graphic novels and adaptations of prose works. The line will begin with Vol. 1 of Patricia Briggs’s Alpha and Omega, which collects the trades published by Dynamite; the second volume will be all new material. Also in the works are books by Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Sage Stossel. [Publishers Weekly]
DC Comics today announced a fairly last-minute shuffle on its He-Man and the Masters of the Universe comic. According to The Source blog, Keith Giffen will take over writing duties from James Robinson starting with the very next issue, September’s #2.
“He-Man and friends were a big part of my son’s young life,” Giffen said. “That meant that they became a big part of my life too. I can still rattle off the plotlines to more than a few of the cartoons and am still pretty good at reattaching the arms and legs of woefully abused action figures. I’m thinking that more than qualifies me to write the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe comic book. Well… that and the fact that I so want to. I mean, c’mon… it’s He-Man!”
Robinson was solicited as the writer for issues 2 and 3, and in fact is still listed on the DC Comics website as the writer for both (as I type this, anyway). The post doesn’t mention why they’ve made the abrupt change. Robinson is in San Diego this week, so no doubt the question will be asked.
Robinson is certainly busy enough right now, what with Earth 2 and apparently some sort of Image series that will be announced on Saturday.
As a prelude to this summer’s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe comic book revival, DC Comics and comiXology today kicked off a digital-first He-Man comic series. The first issue, written by Geoff Johns with art by Howard Porter and John Livesay, is available now for 99 cents.
The comic features Sir Laser Lot, a MOTU character that Johns first envisioned when he was eight years old. Sir Laser Lot will debut as an action figure this summer at the San Diego Comic-Con as a part of the line’s 30th anniversary.
“I’ve been a huge fan of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe since I was a kid, so it’s cool to write a story for this new series — not to mention teaming up with Howard Porter and John Livesay, my old Flash partners in crime,” stated Geoff Johns. “And to create an all-new character that will become an action figure – Sir Laser Lot — it’s beyond fun. I’m going to buy like 100 of them.”
The digital series will debut new chapters twice a month on Saturdays. The second chapter, due July 14, is written by Mike Costa with artwork by Jheremy Raapack, and it tells the story of Battle Cat. The third digital chapter, written by Kyle Higgins with artwork by Pop Mhan, is an adventure with the captain of the Eternia guard, Man-At-Arms.
Check out the cover as well as the Sir Laser Lot action figure after the jump.
Good grief, it’s the eleventh month of the New-52! The forty-six books left from the original class are just about ready to wrap up their first year, and in some cases their second collection. Where does the time go? (And when can we stop calling it the “New” 52?)
In fact, both Batman #11 and Animal Man #11 promise “stunning conclusions” to their inaugural arcs. Of course, the Owls storyline looks more like a traditional multi-title crossover (even if most of it takes place in the main Batman book), whereas Animal Man’s storyline only involves an Annual and a little bit of Swamp Thing. Usually I am frustrated with the very idea of looking ahead three-plus months, because it’s the serialized-comics equivalent of being forced to check your watch halfway through a movie. Here, though, knowing that these two series are headed for big finishes in July helps adjust my expectations about where they are now.
Similarly, we’ve seen three months’ worth of solicitations (and more than that in hype) on the two Earth-2 titles, but for me that’s built up anticipation. Despite the concept’s radical reworking, I’m eager to see how it all comes together.
Now to more specific comments….
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DC Comics will return to Eternia in July with a six-issue He-Man and the Masters of the Universe limited series by James Robinson, Phillip Tan and Ruy Jose, MTV Geek reports.
Although several companies, from Marvel to Image to CrossGen, have released comics based on the Mattel toyline, DC was the first, introducing Superman to He-Man, Battle Cat, Skeletor and other characters in July 1982’s DC Comics Presents #47, followed by Masters of the Universe inserts in more than a dozen titles and, later that year, a three-issue miniseries.
In the new series, Skeletor has discovered a way to reshape reality, making himself ruler of Castle Grayskull while leaving the heroes of Eternia as peasants with no memories of their former lives. As for Prince Adam, the alter-ego of He-Man? He’s a woodsman who thinks his visions of wielding a sword in battle are merely dreams.
“Adam is in a place where he really has to reconnect with what it means to be a Master of the Universe,” Robinson tells MTV Geek. “It’s his odyssey, much like the Greek myth in fact, that is the backbone of this series.”