Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga Vol. 1 (DC Comics): It was so long ago at this point that it might as well have been the 1950s, as fast as Internet time moves, but I seem to recall Chip Kidd and company’s 2008 book Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan getting some static for its treatment of Jiro Kuwata’s Batman manga. Kuwata’s contribution was by far the most fascinating aspect of the book — and took up the bulk of the page count — but many thought he didn’t get the credit he deserved (his name didn’t appear on the cover alongside Kidd’s and those of two others), while others felt weird about comics work being presented alongside photos of goofy Batman toys, as if it were just one more example of collectible kitsch.
Kuwata’s contributions certainly proved to be the most influential element of the book, however, inspiring an almost beat-for-beat adaptation in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon and inspiring writer Grant Morrison’s scripts for his critically-acclaimed Batman, Inc series. Now DC is giving Kuwata’s Bat-Manga its due, packaged in a distraction-free all-manga format.
They’ve been serializing the comics, created in 1966 and ’67 during the height of “Batmania,” digitally, and are following up with hard-copy collections, the first of which is this hefty, 360-page brick.
Unlike Kia Asamiya’s 2003 Batman: Child of Dreams, in which that eminent manga artist told a regular American Batman story in his style, Kuwata’s Batman feature is a highly-strange, almost heady parallel take on Batman. The most basic elements of the story are there — millionaire Bruce Wayne and his young ward become Batman and Robin to fight crime in Gotham City, using the Batmobile, batarangs and other gadgets — but everything around the Dynamic Duo seems somewhat alien.
Jeffrey Brown, whose Goodnight Darth Vader arrives next month, returns to the world of the Incredible Change-Bots in September with a 224-page collection that promises rare “odds, ends and missing parts” from his celebrated send-up of the shape-changing robot genre.
According to Top Shelf Productions, Incredible Change-Bots Two Point Something Something collects both previously published and rarely seen material, including short stories, gallery show pieces, toy and game designs, and interviews with nearly every Change-Bot.
Brown introduced the Incredible Change-Bots in a 2007 graphic novel that follows the Awesomebots and the Fantasticons as they move their war from Electronocybercircuitron to Earth. It was followed in 2011 by a sequel, in which Fantasticon leader Shootertron, left behind when the rest of the Change-Bots returned to their homeworld, struggles to find an identity on Earth.
Incredible Change-Bots Two Point Something Something can be preordered now for $19.95. Top Shelf is also offering an exclusive limited-edition hardcover for $24.95.
Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading?, where today we welcome special guest Ron Marz. Marz has written everything from Green Lantern to Witchblade, and you can currently find him working on comics like Artifacts, Prophecy, Blackburn Burrow and The Ride: Southern Gothic. He also writes the column Shelf Life for Comic Book Resources and can be found on Twitter.
To see what Ron and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
To see what Tom and the Robot 6 crew have been read, click the link below.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday 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 what we call our “Splurge” item.
If I had $15:
I’d get Hellboy: Buster Oakley Gets His Wish ($3.50) to see Hellboy fight some giant robots in space, Salt Water Taffy, Volume 4: Caldera’s Revenge ($5.99) to see Jack and Benny sign aboard a spooky ship in search of a Moby Dick-like whale, and Sweets #5 (2.99) to see Kody Chamberlain wrap up his delicious New Orleans murder mystery.
As Transformers 3 draws inexorably nearer, I find myself dreading the conversations I know I’m going to have.
My friends will ask, innocently, “Have you seen Transformers 3, yet?”
“No,” I’ll reply, hoping they’ll lose interest and change the subject.
“Why not? It looks great! I thought you were into all that sci-fi, comic booky stuff.”
At which point I’ll either have to lie and say that I just haven’t gotten around to it yet (a tactic I’ll feel horrible about later), or tell the truth about hating Michael Bay movies and come off sounding like a complete snob. Which of course I am, but nobody likes defending themselves against that, especially when it’s true.
You see, my friends just don’t get it. If it’s big, if it’s blockbustery, if it’s got giant robots and it’s based on a popular cartoon from the ‘80s, they’ll go see it regardless of how crap it is. “I know it’s not great,” they’ll tell me, “but come on. It’s fun!” I could argue that last point, but by now I’m tired of the conversation.
I know I’m going to get this because I went through it two years ago with Transformers 2. I don’t want to go through it again. Fortunately, this year I have something with which to deflect the conversation into a positive direction. I have Incredible Change-Bots.
The second volume of Jeffrey Brown’s Incredible Change-Bots debuts at the C2E2 comics convention this weekend, where the creator will be in attendance. Over on his blog, Brown also reveals a piece of art titled “Bew! Bew! Bew!” that will be featured in a Change-bots art show at the Scott Eder Gallery in May. The gallery has a table at the con, where the artwork will be displayed.
And if that’s not enough, Brown also recently announced a new Change-Bots fan club offer, which you can either take advantage of on the web or at C2E2 this weekend. You can find Brown at the Top Shelf booth (#810).
Or does he? According to cartoonist Jeffrey Brown’s interview with CBR’s Alex Dueben, the upcoming sequel to his hit transforming-robot action-parody Incredible Change-Bots owes a bit less to the robots in disguise and more to his desire just to play around some more with the characters he concocted for Volume One — and to spoof the Superman mythos, of all things…
There are a lot of superhero parodies, but not a lot of transforming fighting robot parodies. Does it help, knowing you’re treading on ground no one’s covering?
[Laughs] It’s hard to say how much that helped. I think especially with the second book, it became less a parody of Transformers and more just being interested in these characters…who just happen to have the same functions as Transformers. It becomes more of its own thing. I think it’s one reason why I’ve enjoyed the Change-Bots stuff more than I enjoyed doing [the superhero parody] “Bighead.” It doesn’t feel as much like it’s something that’s been done to death already.
The ‘Bots are back in town! Well, they will be sooner or later, anyway — attending the San Diego Comic-Con is keeping creator Jeffrey Brown from polishing off the last few pages of Incredible Change-Bots Two, the sequel to his loving parody of the Transformers and Go-Bots of ’80s action-figure and cartoon fame, until August. (And yes, the “two” is fully spelled out.) But it’s not keeping him from talking to us about the upcoming Top Shelf release, one of, like, a bajillion books the publisher talked up at its panel today.
How long have you been planning Incredible Change-Bots Two? Did you need to see how the first volume did, or were you full-steam-ahead from the jump?
I started thinking about it shortly after finishing the first on. The book was so much fun to write, and draw, and the characters were already kind of taking on their own life. Plus people really liked the first one, and I hope that someday I’ll make enough things that people like, that they’ll like me too.
What’s the basic scoop on the sequel, storywise? Any new ‘Bots to look forward to?
At the end of the first book, Shootertron was defeated and left in a pile of rubble on Earth while the other Change-Bots headed into space to find a new home. Shootertron wakes up, but has lost his memory, but the other Change-Bots end up back on Earth because of some miscalculations, and a run-in with Shootertron becomes inevitable. There’s lots of new ‘Bots, but they mostly get killed off right away, because there’s not enough room in the book. I liked how the old cartoons did that too, introduce a new character and then the character disappears at the end of the episode.