Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
This is it! The (thrilling?) conclusion of our re-reading The Invincible Iron Man series, which has covered the entire Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca series over the course of — let’s see … one, two, three, four — five posts. Today, we look at the last year and a half worth of issues, which are collected in a trio of trades that see our hero facing off against his ultimate villain in an attempt to save the world from destruction. (Spoiler warning: He succeeds.)
Ready for the penultimate installment of our re-reading of writer Matt Fraction and artist Salvador Larroca’s impressive five-year, 60-ish issue run on The Invincible Iron Man? Well, if not, you can always come back later when you are; it will be right here waiting.
Today we look at one official part of the run, and two more collections worth of Fraction-written Iron Man comics, which aren’t necessarily labeled as part of The Invincible Iron Man, because Marvel moves in mysterious ways.
Vol. 8 Unfixable (#501-503, Free Comic Book Day 2010 Iron Man/Thor, Rescue #1): With this volume, the drifting of the narrative glimpsed in the previous volume becomes more pronounced, with the bulk of the collection devoted to the next chapter of the Invincible Iron Man storyline and ending, mid-book, with a “Continued In FEAR ITSELF!” tag, and a pair of one-shots that sorta distract from the ongoing story (but certainly needed to be collected somewhere, if only for us wait-for-the-trade types) filling up the rest of the book.
In the title story, Stark is busily pitching his repulsor technology’s consumer applications, when he’s interrupted by “the post-life crisis ” of Spider-Man’s villain Otto “Doctor Octopus” Octavius, who, in the Spider-Man books of the time, had developed a terminal, degenerative disease and turned himself into a barely recognizable cyborg of sorts, his arms folded and legs tugged up like some sort of mummy awaiting burial, while a mass of mechanical arms did all his moving for him.
Today we continue our look at Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca’s The Invincible Iron Man run with the next three volumes, which contain another new direction for the series, and the several instances of people other than Larroca drawing the series for the first time.
Vols. 4 and 5: Stark Resilient Books 1 and 2 (#25-33 ): Like the 12-issue story arc “World’s Most Wanted,” “Stark Resilient” is such a long story arc that it takes up two trade collections.
When we last left Stark, his friends and allies had just reinstalled a back-up of his brain into his body after he was left in a vegetative state by his heroic efforts to deny Norman Osborn access to his most dangerous secrets. While the first two years of the book were devoted to following the Iron Man through-line of the publisher’s massive Civil War-to-Siege storyline, with the 25th issue Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca essentially get to start over.
Oh, good, you came back. Today we’re going to take a look at the first four collections worth of Matt Fraction, Salvador Larroca and company’s The Invincible Iron Man, which accounts for the first 24 issues of the series and two of the several completely different (but narratively and thematically connected) directions the series took.
The Invincible Iron Man, Vol. 1: The Five Nightmares (#1-7): As I mentioned Tuesday, this title launched the same summer that director Jon Favreau’s Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, opened, and writing a new, second title with Iron Man as the hero must have seemed a rather daunting task, given that Downey and Favreau’s cool, charming war profiteer turned warrior for peace bore little resemblance to the Marvel Universe version of the character of the time, whom writer Mark Millar had turned into the publisher’s greatest villain during Civil War and its aftermath.
With regular old prose books, it’s easy: If you want to read the books that inspired big-budget summer movies like The Great Gatsby or World War Z, you need only pick up the novels with the same name.
Comic-book superhero movies, on the other hand, are a bit more tricky, as they rarely adapt a single, standalone story, but rather cherry-pick characters, plotlines, designs and images from several different comic books by various creators and published in various decades, all blended together in a rebooted, remixed mélange of an adaptation.
So if you walked out of a theater in the early ’00s wanting to read the comics that Blade or X-Men or Spider-Man or Daredevil were based on, well, you’d have to do some research first, and you’d end up with a whole stack of comics for each, none of which really replicated the same tone, world or experience of watching the films starring those heroes.
Cognizant of that, Marvel gradually got better at producing new comics to sell to fans of its movies. Some of these attempts to align comic books more closely with their cinematic versions have been better than others, of course.
The best of these was probably The Invincible Iron Man by writer Matt Fraction and artist Salvador Larroca, the 60-issue series that debuted in summer 2008, around the time the original Iron Man movie was in theaters, and concluded in fall 2012, just six months ahead of Iron Man 3, which, depending on contract negotiations, could end up being the final Iron Man film (it was certainly constructed as the end of a trilogy of films).
Comics are more than just drawing pretty pictures and great muscled physiques. They’re about telling a story, through sequences of images but also through the image itself. And British artist Rian Hughes has spent years figuring out how to tell a story, in sequential art as well as in standalone images, package designs and even fonts.
After bursting onto the comics scene as an artist in Escape and 2000AD, Hughes expanded his skills to become a designer and illustrator for comics in England, Europe and the United States. He went on to design a number of logos and mastheads for DC Comics, Marvel and Valiant, and his work on Wildcats 3.0 and Invincible Iron Man proved to be high-water marks for comic book covers. Image and Knockabout Books recently began reprinting some of Hughes’ early comics work, and this summer will see the release of an artbook chronicling his portraits taken from London’s underworld burlesque scene.
For this week’s “Conversing on Comics,” I spoke with Hughes about his forthcoming art book and other upcoming projects, and received a look at his past work, including a never-before-seen set of designs he created for Invincible Iron Man.
Comedian Demetri Martin has this great, short bit about how he loves digital cameras because they allow you to reminisce instantly. That we can take a picture and immediately look back with clarity and fondness at something that happened only seconds before — “We were so young!” — is essential to current comics culture. The world so quickly and drastically changes for readers that events that happened just last month can feel oh, so long ago. Characters die and return, sometimes within months of our grieving. It seems like only yesterday when we were still under the threat of the Phoenix, because it was only yesterday, relatively speaking.
This week sees the ends of five titles, and each one takes a final bow with all due gravitas for its moment in history. Invincible Iron Man #527 says goodbye to Matt Fraction and Salvador LaRocca, who began their run when the first Iron Man movie was hitting theaters. Ed Brubaker relinquishes his Captain America writing duties with Issue 19; not exactly an illustrious numbering to leave on, but when you look back at all the work he’s done and how it’s changed the common reader’s understanding of Steve Rogers, it’s a remarkable career. Kieron Gillen leaves Journey Into Mystery with #645, after which the whole title gets a new face to focus on, a new creative team and a new mystery to journey into. And Jonathan Hickman leaves FF, a book he created to serve a beautiful purpose for Marvel’s First Family, and I dare anyone not to get a little misty eyed after turning those final pages.
These are all weighty doors closing on eras that changed the face of our comics, and we may never see their like again. Times, they are a-changin’ … but are they, really? This moment with these books written in such a way is over, but Captain America lives on. Iron Man will fly again, as will Fraction, both just moving in new directions. Heck, Loki isn’t even leaving Gillen’s hands; they’re just moving into a new apartment with different roommates.
So why do we mourn? Why do we read these books as the final issue of Captain America when we all know logically that Captain America will continue next month with a new issue? What exactly are we losing when so many things stay the same? I’ve got an idea; see if you agree.
WARNING: we’re talking about this week’s comics listed above but might spoil some Avengers #32. So grab your copies (and a couple hankies because man, FF is a tearjerker!) and follow along!
Continue Reading »
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.
For once, I’m doing this in semi-reverse order. Or, at least, I’m starting with my would’ve-should’ve splurge, anyway, because if I had the money to spare, I’d definitely pick up the Invisibles Omnibus HC (DC/Vertigo, $150). Yes, I’ve read the comics before, and yes, I own all the trades. And yet … I really, really wish I could own this book. In another world, I am rich enough for that to happen.
Back in the real world, my first $15 pic is very easy: Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom #1 (IDW Publishing, $3.99); both creators are at the top of their games these days, as demonstrated in Daredevil on a regular basis, and so seeing them both take on Dave Stevens’ classic character feels like the kind of thing I will happily sign onto. Similarly, the first issue of the new Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Spike spin-off (Dark Horse, $2.99) automatically gets a pick-up, based on the quality of both the core Buffy and spin-off Angel and Faith books alone.
If I had $30, I’d add Prophet Vol. 1: Remission TP (Image Comics, $9.99) to my pile. I dropped off the single issues for this early on, because I wasn’t digging it as much as I wanted to, but enough people have told me that I’m wrong that I’m coming back to check out the collection — especially because (a) Brandon Graham and (b) that price point. I am continually a sucker for the $9.99 collection; publishers, you should remember this for me and people like me in future.
Nine Marvel series will end in October even as the publisher debuts Uncanny Avengers #1, the first title in its sweeping Marvel NOW! initiative.
According to Marvel’s October solicitations, which went live this morning, the month will mark the conclusions of Captain America, Fantastic Four, FF, Incredible Hulk, Invincible Iron Man, New Mutants, The Mighty Thor, Uncanny X-Men and X-Men Legacy.
Naturally, some of those aren’t entirely unexpected, as the new Uncanny Avengers, by Rick Remender and John Cassaday, will be joined in November by All-New X-Men, by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen, followed by Avengers, by Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opena, in December and New Avengers, by Hickman and Steve Epting, in January. Likewise, Ed Brubaker revealed two weeks ago that he’s ending his acclaimed seven-year-run on Captain America, a departure that dovetails nicely into Marvel’s relaunch plans.
However, what will replace such mainstay titles as Fantastic Four, Incredible Hulk, Invincible Iron Man and The Mighty Thor, and when, remains to be seen. Although it’s unlikely the publisher will go too long without versions of those comics on the shelves, Marvel has promised a slow rollout of relaunches between October and February.
Conventions | Despite the $500-plus price tag, the least-expensive tickets for MorrisonCon, the Grant Morrison-focused convention being held in September in Las Vegas, are already sold out. Remaining tickets cost between $699 and $1,099. Morrison says the high-priced event combines “visionary ideas, occult ritual, music and spoken word performances, art workshops, experimental films, DJ sets and in-depth discussions inspired by the comics.” [Hero Complex]
Publishing | Industry veteran Jim “Ski” Sokolowski, who was let go in October as Marvel’s chief operating officer ahead of a round of layoffs, has been hired by Archie Comics as senior vice president-sales and business development. The publisher also promoted Harold Buchholz from executive director of publishing and operations to senior vice president-publishing and operations, Paul Kaminski from editor to executive director of editorial, and Alex Segura from executive director of publicity and marketing to vice president-publicity and marketing. [Archie Comics]
Let’s not mince words, the online presence of Tom Brevoort has provided hours of great reading for Robot 6 readers. Given his constant and unflagging willingness to interact with consumers via social media, Brevoort is a quote machine (His Twitter bio? “A man constantly on the verge of saying something stupid–for your entertainment!?”). There’s always a directness (some would say bluntness) to his manner online–making him the ideal subject for an interview. Last year saw Marvel promote Brevoort to senior vice president for publishing. 2011 was a year of some major successes for Marvel, as well as a year where some hard business decisions were made. In this interview, conducted in mid-December via email, I tried to cover a great deal of ground (we even briefly discuss DC’s New 52 success)–and Brevoort did not hold back on any of his answers. For that, I am extremely grateful. Like any high profile comics executive, Brevoort has his fans and his critics (and many in between), but I like to think this exchange offers some perspectives everyone can enjoy.
Tim O’Shea: Whether it’s in your job description or not, fan outreach via social media is definitely part of your job–clearly by your own choice. What benefit or enjoyment do you get from interacting with the fans/consumers?
Tom Brevoort: I’m not sure that I get a particular benefit, except maybe just being the center of attention for a few minutes—maybe everything I do is motivated by ego! I’m a whore for the spotlight! But I started doing this kind of outreach back in the formative days of internet fandom, largely because I like the idea of internet fandom. I know that, if the internet had existed when I was a young comic book reader, I’d have been on those message boards and in those chat rooms all the time, obsessively—just like a certain portion of the audience today. So I like the idea of giving back, of being accessible enough that anybody who has a question or a concern knows where to find me, or at least to find somebody with an insider’s track who might have the background and knowledge to speak to their point. In a very real way, it’s all an outgrowth of what Stan Lee did in his letters pages and Bullpen pages. Joe Q, I think, was really the first person to perfect that approach for the internet age. As EIC he was incredibly available to the audience in a myriad of ways. It’s a philosophy that’s very much woven into our DNA at Marvel. And for the most part, our fans are interesting, vibrant, cool people, especially when you meet them in person.
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. We’re coming a little late today due to a power outage in my neck of the woods — due to a blackout, not because I spent the money for the electric bill on Flashpoint or Fear Itself tie-ins.
Because I’m not doing San Diego this year, some kind of crazy comic karma has decided that this week will be filled with comics I want to read. For example, if I had $15, I’d run to grab Daredevil #1 (Marvel, $3.99), which I’ve been looking forward to for some time — Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera *and* Marcos Martin? How can anyone refuse? — before scooting back to the DC aisle to pick up both DC Retroactive: The Flash – The ’70s #1 and DC Retroactive: Wonder Woman – The ’70s #1 (Both DC, $4.99), because I am such a sucker for old-school DC that even this weird “slight return” of the same seems exciting to me.
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 volume 13 of 20th Century Boys. This series is fantastic, and I hear there’s a big reveal in this volume.
If I had $30,
I’d add some floppies to the mix. This is a good week for a lot of the series I have been following on and off: Atomic Robo: Deadly Art of Science #4 ($3.50), Sixth Gun #9 ($3.99), Kill Shakespeare #9 ($3.99). Since I have a bit left over, I’ll throw in Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories #716 ($3.99), because I really have been enjoying that classic Disney.
Welcome to a special Super Bowl Sunday edition of What Are You Reading? Not that it’s any different from a regular WAYR column, but you can enjoy it while eating hot wings while the TV is paused.
Today our special guest is biology professor Jay Hosler, creator of Clan Apis and Optical Allusions. His latest book, Evolution, with artists Kevin Cannon and Zandor Cannon, was recently released by Hill & Wang. Check out his blog for a story he’s working on about photosynthesis.
To see what Jay and the Robot 6 gang are reading, click below.