J. Michael Straczynski Archives | Page 3 of 5 | Robot 6 | The Comics Culture Blog

Is this the triumphant return of Wonder Woman’s star-spangled shorts?

Two versions of Cliff Chiang's cover for "Wonder Woman" #1: left, the updated version; and right, the orginal

Despite her depictions on promotional materials and the covers for the debut issues of Justice League and her own title, it appears as if Wonder Woman will once again don star-spangled shorts come DC Comics’ September relaunch.

The evidence emerged this morning with the announcement of the DC Comics: The New 52 preview book that will be released next Wednesday in comic shops and at Comic-Con International in San Diego. In the upper left-hand corner of the cover is a slightly modified version of Cliff Chiang’s art for Wonder Woman #1, with the Amazon Princess now sporting shorts for the first time in more than a year — when Jim Lee’s divisive costume redesign was introduced as part of J. Michael Straczynski’s short-lived new direction for the character.

Wonder Woman #1, by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, will be released on Sept. 21.

DC relaunch scorecard: DCnU or DC No?

Green Lantern #1, by Dave Johnson

Although it seems like DC’s big relaunch announcement came out an eternity ago, it actually took the publisher less than two weeks to roll out the 52 titles and their creative teams for the big relaunch/reboot/overhaul coming in September. Now that the cats are out of their respective bags, I thought I’d see where various creators and characters will land after the reboot.

So I went back through DC’s August solicitations to see who was writing or drawing what, and tried to map everyone to their post-relaunch project — if they had one. However, looking at DC’s August solicitations, there seem to be several fill-in issues, so where appropriate I tried to map the most recent ongoing creative teams to their new projects (for instance, I consider Gail Simone and Jesus Saiz the regular creative team for Birds of Prey, even if they aren’t doing the last two issues before September hits). Keep in mind that I just went through the ongoing series and skipped over all the miniseries … of which there are a lot, what with Flashpoint winding up in August.

It’s also worth noting that although several creators didn’t appear in the “big 52″ announcements, that doesn’t mean their tenure with DC is necessarily over — some, like Frazer Irving, have said they have future projects that haven’t been announced. So I tried to note where creators have talked publicly about their post-relaunch plans with DC (or lack thereof, as the case may be). The same could probably be said for some of DC’s characters as well. Or, as Gail Simone said on Twitter: “Again, September is NOT THE END. There’s still plans for characters that we haven’t seen yet.”

So let’s get to it ….

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Comics A.M. | Comic-Con registration tips, pledge for ‘a strong Borders’

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con | Lori Weisberg provides a reminder, and a primer, for online registration for Comic-Con International, which goes live Saturday at 9 a.m. Pacific. Registration is for daily passes and four-day memberships without Preview Night. Those with the Wednesday preview sold out on the final day of the 2010 convention (more could be released later, depending on returns and cancellations). Prices have increased slightly, from $100 to $105 for four-day memberships and from $35 to $37 for single-day passes ($20 for Sunday) — plus a $2 processing fee for each badge. Comic-Con will be held July 20-24 in San Diego. [San Diego Union-Tribune]

Retailing | Responding to reports that Borders Group may file for bankruptcy as early as next week, a spokeswoman asserts the struggling book chain intends to stay in business. “Our goal is to have a strong Borders for the long term, ” Borders spokeswoman Mary Davis said. “As such, Borders is involved in discussions with multiple parties – including lenders, vendors, landlords and other business partners – to determine the route that will provide it with the best opportunity to move forward with its business strategy.” [The Plain Dealer]

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Axel Rose: Thoughts on Marvel’s new editor-in-chief

Wow — between Erik Larsen and Eric Stephenson, it sure seems like Axel Alonso pissed in Image Comics’ Wheaties at some point!

Hey, it wouldn’t be a Robot 6 post without a “let’s you and him fight” angle. But now that that’s out of my system, there’s a lot one could say, pro and con, about Axel Alonso’s promotion to editor-in-chief of Marvel. Actually, the level of surprise with which the news was greeted says something all by itself. True, he’s never been the public figure that his predecessor Joe Quesada and colleague Tom Brevoort (who, again, has long said he didn’t want the EIC job) have been, so in that regard he’s an unknown quantity to readers and fans. To creators and editors, however, everything I’ve heard indicates that his reputation is sterling, dating back to his involvement in Vertigo — he’s well-liked personally and well-respected professionally (unless you’re Darwyn Cooke).

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Grumpy Old Fan | Ten from the old year, ten for the new: 2010-11 edition


Dates a-plenty on the cover of 52 #19

So, is this a tradition? I have to come up with a better subtitle…

For the past couple of years, I’ve picked out twenty random DC topics, of various levels of importance, for a paragraph’s worth of analysis each. No guarantees as to accuracy, of course — this site is for entertainment purposes only. Regardless, even a blind pig finds a truffle now and then.

With last year’s list in mind, let’s get right to it–!

* * *


1. DC at 75. My first impulse — which is not necessarily the correct one — is to say that DC had a relatively low-key anniversary, because there was no single celebratory event unifying the superhero line, like there was in 1985 with Crisis On Infinite Earths. I think that’s unfair, though, considering that the superhero books did have some commemorative covers, and there was a big coffee-table book. That’s about right, I guess.
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The Walking Dead, Scott Pilgrim maintain their grips on bookstores

The Walking Dead: Compendium One

The Walking Dead and Scott Pilgrim dominated graphic novel sales in bookstores in December, claiming nine of the Top 10 spots on the Nielsen BookScan chart.

Buoyed by the record-setting first season of the AMC television adaptation, zombie comic landed the top spot with The Walking Dead: Compendium One, the $60, 1,088-page collection of the first 48 issues of the Robert Kirkman-Tony Moore-Charlie Adlard series. Three volumes of The Walking Dead, including new editions of the first two collections, appeared in the Top 10, and five in the Top 15.

All six volumes of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim made the Top 10, which could be attributed to the November release of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World on DVD and Blu-ray — or a sign that the series is on its way to becoming a perennial bestseller.

Meanwhile, Superman: Earth One, the hardcover graphic novel whose blockbuster sales led J. Michael Straczynski to abandon the Superman and Wonder Woman monthly series so DC Comics could fast-track a sequel, plummeted from No. 1 on the chart to No. 15. The retail news and analysis site ICv2.com suggests the book may be a victim of availability — there may not be enough additional copies to replenish what’s been sold — rather than a decrease in interest. Indeed, Superman: Earth One is No. 5 after nine weeks on The New York Times hardcover graphic books list.

Comics A.M. | Steve Rude’s home, Jim Davis’ apology, Stan Lee’s star

From Steve Rude's 2011 calendar

Creators | Renowned artist Steve Rude has announced that money raised from an online art and comics auction has enabled he and his family to keep their home: “When I saw the bread coming in after Gino made her announcement (this was unbeknownst to the oblivious Dude), I was, and still am, in a mild state of stupefication. The outpouring of generosity was clearly far beyond what Gino and I could’ve asked for. Your contributions poured in from all corners of our planet; the sizeable backstock of comics and Dude related ‘higher reading paraphernalia’ were ordered by the spit-load; and Erik Larson bought his complete Next Nexus 3 issue! All said, we saved the house.” The Nexus creator is still working to regain his financial footing, so he’s selling 2011 calendars and, soon, a new sketchbook. [DudeNews]

Creators | Stan Lee will receive his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Jan. 4. [Mark Evanier]

Jim Davis

Comic strips | Cartoonist Jim Davis has issued an apology for an ill-timed Garfield strip that appeared on Veterans Day. The strip, which appeared in newspapers on Thursday, featured a standoff between Garfield and a spider, and referred to “an annual day of remembrance” called “National Stupid Day.” In a statement, Davis explained that the strip was written almost a year ago, “and I had no idea when writing it that it would appear today — of all days.” [CNN, The Daily Cartoonist]

Conventions | Wizard World Austin Comic Con kicks off today at the Austin Convention Center. [The A.V. Club Austin, KXAN]

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Quote of the day #3 | JMS’s vote of no-confidence in monthly comics?

“…Straczynski basically indicates that the future is stand-alone works and short runs, which strikes me as a terrible vote of no-confidence in terms of such a company’s — an industry’s! — bread and butter. If JMS doesn’t want to write continuing series, doesn’t that suggest that fans might want to reconsider reading them?”

The Comics Reporter’s Tom Spurgeon, analyzing the ramifications of J. Michael Straczynski’s decision to depart his runs on Superman and Wonder Woman for the original graphic novel series Superman: Earth One and similarly formatted projects. “I think that’s where the business is going,” JMS said in his statement; will it go there faster now that one of its most high-profile writers has made the switch?

Quote of the day #2 | The future of JMS’s The Twelve

“For those who’ve been asking, yes, JMS is finishing The Twelve. #9 & 10 are done, and Chris [Weston] is waiting on script from JMS this week.”

–Marvel Senior VP – Executive Editor Tom Brevoort on the other book J. Michael Straczynski departed mid-stream, the long-delayed Marvel maxi-series The Twelve with artist Chris Weston. Perhaps this is one of the “high-visibility mini series…with a beginning, middle and end” to which JMS was referring in his statement about leaving Superman and Wonder Woman to focus on non-monthly comics. (The “and end” part’s the kicker.)

Quote of the day #1 | Mark Waid on JMS leaving Superman, Wonder Woman

“I think we call that ‘Pulling a Palin.'”

–Writer, editor, and long-suffering Superman superfan Mark Waid, presumably comparing writer J. Michael Straczynski’s abrupt mid-storyline departure from his controversial Superman and Wonder Woman revamps to focus on the (previously announced) second volume in the Superman: Earth One series with former Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s departure from office to do…whatever it is Sarah Palin does now. I say “presumably” because as far as I know, Superman hasn’t yet walked far enough across America to be able to see Russia from his house.

Grumpy Old Fan | Earth One welcomes new Superman fans

Superman: Earth One

Throughout the character’s history, Superman has been introduced and reintroduced to various audiences through various media. There have been Supermen on radio and film, on television and in prose, and of course in comics. The new Megamind apparently leans heavily on a Superman pastiche, and the newest “proper” Superman movie is being guided by producer Christopher Nolan.

And yet, the goal of Superman Earth One — written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencilled by Shane Davis, and inked by Sandra Hope — seems different from many of the Man of Steel’s other origins. Earth One has Krypton, the Kents, Lois, “Jim” Olsen, the Daily Planet, and of course the familiar red-and-blue costume; but it is most concerned with redefining Clark Kent and his mighty alter-ego. Aside from the “Earth One” brand itself (about which more later), there are very few Easter eggs for longtime fans. This is not a distillation of seventy-plus years’ worth of Superman stories into some platonic ideal (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Instead, it’s almost as if Straczynski and Davis are making a concerted effort to avoid such references.

Regardless, Superman Earth One (there is no colon in the title) clearly seeks to redefine and reintroduce the original superhero to a new audience. As a reintroduction, and more specifically as the first of what is presumably an ongoing series of graphic novels, it’s not a bad beginning — but it doesn’t quite feel like Superman yet.


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Does this JMS Wonder Woman cover look familiar to you?

It probably should: Wonder Woman #606’s variant-cover homage to Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” by Alex Garner is also just a bit similar to artist (and Marvel Editor in Chief) Joe Quesada’s promotional image for the J. Michael Straczynski Spider-Opus The Other. Why, that kind of playful tweak of the competition is almost…Marvelesque, isn’t it? I for one am hoping that this means that Leather-Jacket Wonder Woman will shoot spikes out of her arms and eat a dude’s face.

(via Marc-Oliver Frisch)

Superman #703 turns out to be kryptonite for Cincinnati retailer

Superman #703

A few weeks ago, Cincinnati retailer Kendall Swafford sparked a debate at ICv2.com when he took his DC Comics sales representative, by name, to task for the publisher’s lack of promotional support for Superman #703. You see, that’s the issue in which the Man of Steel swings through the Queen City during his much-ballyhooed cross-country trek. And Swafford’s store is named … Up Up & Away.

“Why isn’t DC on top of this?” Swafford asked. “Why isn’t someone from DC Entertainment playing the point man and helping to coordinate efforts to increase sales of the book? This book, if nothing else, plays on our feelings of civic pride, the same way we collectively share in the winning ways of local sports teams.”

DC didn’t send posters of the comic’s cover or offer help to coordinate press releases or line up an actor to play Superman, he complained: “I’m not looking for someone to do my job for me, I’m looking for someone on their end to help realize this book’s potential.” Several retailers chimed in to defend the sales rep, and to point out it’s not his job to handle publicity, leading Kendall to question the position rather than the employee. “That DC had no one from publicity, sales or even janitorial playing point man on this Superman event is frustrating to me,” he wrote in response to criticism.

However, Swafford didn’t let his frustration with DC get in the way of promoting the issue or his store, located in the Cincinnati suburb of Cheviot (it’s “a one-square-mile town within the city,” he explained). He teamed up with organizers of Saturday’s Cincinnati Comic Expo to promote the issue in Cheviot’s Harvest Home Parade, hired a Superman actor, printed banners, sent out a press release. Cheviot Mayor Samuel Keller even declared Sept. 15 as “Superman Day.”

There’s just one little problem: DC revealed that Superman #703 won’t be released this week, as originally planned, but a month later (there won’t be an issue at all in September).

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DC says plans for the Earth One original graphic novels ‘have not changed’ [Updated]

Superman: Earth One

Superman: Earth One

To OGN or not to OGN, that is the question that’s been raised by panel reports from San Diego that suggest DC may have changed their plans for their Earth One graphic novel series — something that DC said isn’t the case.

Back in December, DC announced a new series of Earth One original graphic novels featuring Superman and Batman set “on a new earth with an all-new continuity.” During the Superman: The Man of Tomorrow panel at Comic-Con International last month, someone asked J. Michael Straczynski about the future of these graphic novels. Straczynski is the writer of the first one being released this November, which features the story of a young Superman.

“The last question went to Straczynski,” CBR’s panel report by Kevin Mahadeo reads. “The fan asked whether the writer plans on continuing the ‘Earth One’ stories. The writer revealed that the hardcover release will be followed up with single issues, which will later be collected.”

Although panel reports on both Comic Book Resources and Newsarama were published during the show, it wasn’t until this past Sunday that people really started to take notice of that sentence — Kevin Huxford, Johanna Draper Carlson, Heidi MacDonald and Augie De Blieck Jr. have all posted about it this week.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Someone to hear your prayers, someone who cares

Superman #701

Superman #701

It is one of the most familiar scenes in all of superhero comics. Hal Jordan, Green Lantern, is right in the middle of a dilemma when, from off-panel, a new voice enters the scene.

“I want to ask the ring-slinger a question,” the voice begins. We know already that the questioner’s concerns run deeper than the present emergency.

Indeed, you might think you know where this is going — an elderly African-American man’s earnest soliloquy, a space-cop’s perceptions up-ended — and if you were reading April 1970’s classic Green Lantern vol. 2 #76, you’d be right.

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