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Grumpy Old Fan | Set your clocks back

Look upon my Microsoft Paint work and despair

Before Wednesday morning’s big news, I was all ready to write about the wish-fulfillment aspects of DC’s reprint program. Maybe next week.

Now, though, we’ve got Before Watchmen*, seven miniseries and a one-shot in the Seven Soldiers mode, and no doubt collection-ready. Please pardon my cynicism, but with all due respect to the impressive roster of professionals involved, this could have easily been subtitled We’re Back For More Cash.

To be clear, I understand DC wanting to make money off its intellectual property.  A while ago I argued that one purpose of the current Shade miniseries is to fill another slot on bookshelves next to the rest of James Robinson’s Starman collections. Starman was one of the rare series where one writer introduced a character (Jack Knight) and took him through a series of adventures, until that character reached the natural endpoint of his life’s particular phase. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman preceded it, and Garth Ennis’ Hitman followed. (Working with writers David Goyer and Geoff Johns, Robinson tied Starman into the JSA revival as well.)

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What Are You Reading? with Andy Khouri

Wet Moon

Hello and welcome to a special holiday edition of What Are You Reading? Actually it’s just a normal edition of What Are You Reading?, because changing the font color to red and green, and adding twinkling lights around the border just made it harder to read.

Our special guest this week is Andy Khouri, associate editor over at ComicsAlliance, where he drops comic news and commentary on a daily basis.

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

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Grumpy Old Fan | Save The Shade

The Shade invites you to Starman #6 (April 1995)

Writer James Robinson tweets that low sales might cut short his twelve-issue Shade miniseries. That would be a shame, because the first two issues of The Shade are tremendously entertaining, great-looking superhero comics. Robinson has returned to the character he revitalized, bringing with him the artistic talents of Cully Hamner and a bevy of high-profile guests like Darwyn Cooke, Frazer Irving, Javier Pulido, and Jill Thompson. The Beat’s Todd Allen has written a supportive post, noting along the way that certain New-52 titles which are selling below The Shade #1’s level (30,648 issues estimated sold to retailers) might also face the axe.

I’m somewhat skeptical of this rumor, despite Robinson’s insider knowledge, for reasons having to do with the 2009-10 miniseries The Great Ten.

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Food or Comics? | A pre-Thanksgiving four-color feast

Wolverine and the X-Men

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.

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d get one from almost every box–Image’s Invincible #85 ($2.99), DC’s DMZ #71 ($2.99), Marvel’s Wolverine and The X-Men #2 ($3.99) and independent title RASL #12 ($3.50). Not much to say about any of these I haven’t already said, except anytime Cory Walker draws a book I’d pay twice cover price.

If I had $30, I’d sneak out of Thanksgiving preparations to first get a book I was surprised I liked as much as I did, despite the last issue’s ending: Shade #2 (DC, $2.99). One thing I wasn’t amped to see was Deathstroke, but given James Robinson and Cully Hammer’s track record I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Next up would be the epic (in my mind, at least) team-up of Warren Ellis and Michael Lark on Secret Avengers #19 (Marvel, $3.99). Seeing Ellis boil down the concept into “Run the mission. Don’t get seen. Save the world.” Hits me right between the eyes, and this new issue’s preview has be salivating over it. Last up, I’d pay the giant size price tag for Fantastic Four #600 (Marvel, $7.99) although my patience has worn a little thin with ending the series then bringing it back for #600.

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What Are You Reading? with Chris Duffy

Optic Nerve #12

Welcome to What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Chris Duffy, editor of First Second’s Nursery Rhyme Comics. We spotlighted this anthology project all week here on Robot 6; check out our interviews with Chris as well as contributors Scott C., Aaron Reiner, Richard Sala and Eleanor Davis.

And to see what Chris and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Food or Comics? | Batwoman, 20th Century Boys, Regenesis and more

Batwoman #2

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.

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d first grab hold of my favorite of DC’s New 52, Batwoman #2 (DC, $2.99). J.H. Williams III has successfully kept up to the immense expectations he accumulated following his run with Greg Rucka, and the artwork seems to benefit even more by J.H.’s input into the story as co-writer. Next I’d dig down for two of my regular pulls, Northlanders #45 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) and Uncanny X-Force #16 (Marvel, $3.99). For my final pick, I’d have to miss a bunch of other titles for the chance to get the CBLDF Liberty Annual 2011 #4 (Image, $4.99). I love the anthology format, and having that plus the good cause plus the a-list talent makes it a must get; seriously, can you imagine one comic book containing new work by Frank Quitely, Williams, Mark Waid, J. Michael Straczynski, Matt Wagner AND Craig Thompson? BELIEVE IT!

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FanExpo Canada | A rundown of news from this weekend’s convention

Brian Wood returns to Marvel

FanExpo Canada wraps up today in Toronto, and both Marvel and DC were there this weekend announcing various projects:

  • DC Comics will relaunch the Justice Society by writer James Robinson and artist Nicola Scott. The new adventures of the JSA will be set not on the “New 52″ Earth, but on Earth-2, as they were before Crisis on Infinite Earths combined DC’s multiple Earths into one big sandbox back in the 1980s. “Everyone’s saying, ‘How can there be superheroes before the five years?’ We’re actually bringing back Earth-2,” Robinson said.
  • Marvel announced Brian Wood will write for the publisher once again, in a teaser that seems to point a finger at a Wolverine project.
  • Marvel’s Alpha Flight has been upgraded from a limited series to an ongoing.”We’ve got Taskmaster showing up, we’ve got Wolverine and other characters journeying north to find out what’s going on with Alpha Flight,” said co-writer Fred Van Lente. “We learn that Alpha flight’s actually a member of a super, super team called The Commonwealth of Heroes. I’m very excited about writing those characters — I love them a lot and it’s going to be a good time.” The Commonwealth of Heroes? I am intrigued. CBR has more details in an interview with Van Lente and Greg Pak, where they mention that Captain Britain and MI-13 will play a role in the Commonwealth Heroes.
  • In addition to Jill Thompson, other artists working on the upcoming Shade miniseries written by James Robinson include Gene Ha and Darwyn Cooke.
  • Marvel will publish a five-issue miniseries called Destroyers, by writer Fred Van Lente and artist Kyle Hotz. The book will feature The Thing, the Beast, A-Bomb, She-Hulk, Karkas the Deviant and Devil Dinosaur. “A lot of this series is about how monsters feel about being monsters and how comfortable they are with it. Hank McCoy is probably the most comfortable in his furry blue skin. He’s got an analytical mind. In this story, a colleague from his past gets murdered. That sets him on a quest to solve a mystery and puts him on a collision course with the Destroyers,” Van Lente told CBR.
  • Marvel also announced the return of two more CrossGen properties — Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in December by writer Peter Milligan and artist Roman Rosanas, and Route 666 in February by writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Peter Nguyen. Both are four-issue mini-series.

FanExpo Canada | Justice Society to return, Jill Thompson on Shade #8

Shade by Jill Thompson

Although usually not active on the weekend, DC’s The Source blog had two tidbits today coming out of Fan Expo Canada.

The first has to do with the return of the Justice Society. According to DC’s The Source blog:

There’s been plenty of speculation about the Justice Society in The New 52 – and we can now confirm that they will, in fact, be back! As with everything else with DC Comics – The New 52, however, there’s a significant twist. What is it? We’re not saying. Just. Quite. Yet.

“It’s everything you want, but not what you expect,” promises Eddie Berganza, DC Comics Executive Editor.

As Brian Cronin pointed out, word from the convention is that James Robinson and Nicola Scott are working on the series which will be set during an as-yet unspecified time period – on Earth-2.

Speaking of Robinson, the Source also announced Jill Thompson as the artist on Shade #8. The standalone issue — set in Paris in the early 1900s — is something Robinson wrote specifically for Thompson, reminiscent of the standalone stories Robinson would write when he was doing Starman. Shade #8 comes out next May.

Previews: What Looks Good for October

Spera, Volume 1

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes, and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.

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

Archaia

The Grave Doug Freshley – A lot of publishers are doing Weird Western comics lately and that’s just fine with me.

Spera, Volume 1 – I like the sound of this fairy tale in which a couple of princesses combine efforts to save their kingdoms. It’s not that I’m anti-prince, but that’s a cool, new way to do that story.

Avatar

Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island – Warren Ellis doing Steampunk sounds thrilling, but really all they had to say was “pirates.” I bet this is still really good though, even if you’re pickier than I am.

Boom!

Roger Langridge’s Snarked #1 – After a well-loved zero-issue, Langridge’s version of Wonderland gets its real, official start.

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Grumpy Old Fan | New 52, Month Two: DC solicits for October 2011

Don Newton and Dick Giordano provide a classic Batman cover

Sometimes it’s been hard for me to process the New 52 as anything but an amorphous mass of, well, Newness. In this respect, DC’s October solicitations are helping to define that mass, with details like the five-year timeframe and Superman’s work boots.

Still, despite the promise of widespread change — and the somewhat-irrational implication that those who aren’t curious now will be left behind later — it’s been fairly easy for me almost to ignore the solicits, and just buy the books when they come out. After all, presumably DC is after new (or returning) readers who don’t follow the solicits and aren’t attuned to the spoilers.

Besides, the October solicits also include some attractive reprints; so let’s get right to it, shall we?

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What Are You Reading?

A God Somewhere

Happy Easter and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look back at the comics and other stuff we’ve checked out recently.

Today our special guest is Chris Schweizer, creator of the Crogan Adventures series published by Oni Press and a professor of sequential art at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

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

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Where in the world is Gene Ha?

'Batman & Robin' #22 variant cover by Gene Ha

“Where in the world is Gene Ha?”

That’s what comic fans like me have been wondering the past year. Sure he’s been popping up as a cover artist on some big DC titles and rounding out the last issues of The Authority: Lost Year, but in terms of real, sink-your-teeth into it comics work it’s been a drought. But thankfully, Gene Ha has popped up to explain what’s going on.

In a blog post on his website, Ha explains that the his major creator-owned project Back Roads with Bill Willingham at IDW (announced back in 2009) has fallen apart due to the writer stopping to turn in scripts — just after Ha turned in the complete first issue – pencils,  inks and colors. With the full story of Back Roads estimated to be 132 pages and no new script pages in a year, Ha’s pretty much said the project is dead.

Getting back into the swing of things, Ha has worked on those previously mentioned covers for DC, and he also did a Mouse Guard story with writer Lowell Francis. He’s also working on shorts for House of Mystery and the IDW Rocketeer miniseries.  The most enticing bit of news is something else.

“I’ll be doing a few issues of an iconic DC character this summer, DC should announce details soon,” Ha revealed. “And finally, after all that, I’ve been working on something with James Robinson.”

Look for more on Gene Has’ website, but before you go — tell us your favorite Gene Ha work and what iconic character you’d like to see him work on!

Grumpy Old Fan | Don’t know much about history

The Atlantis Chronicles #1

Last week’s big reorganization project is finished (for now) — but by reintroducing me to Peter David and Esteban Maroto’s The Atlantis Chronicles, it has already paid off.

The Atlantis Chronicles was a seven-issue 1990 miniseries designed to give Aquaman a more “classically mythic” backstory. Like the Old Testament or your average Shakespearean tragedy, it is full of intrigue, violence, sinister motives, and secret affairs. Along the way it traces the history of twin cities Poseidonis and Tritonis from their sinking to Aquaman’s birth, explaining such things as marine mental telepathy, why the Tritonistas are mer-people, and when the Idyllists broke off into their own community. It was all in service to a PAD-written Aquaman regular series which ended up being delayed for a few years; and which, when it finally did appear, produced the cranky, hook-handed Aquaman of the ‘90s. Re-reading The Atlantis Chronicles reminded me that some noteworthy plot elements — including an involuntary amputation — foreshadowed similar events in the later series. Some characters from TAC also reappeared in David’s Aquaman, further connecting the two.

I enjoyed The Atlantis Chronicles on its own merits, but I couldn’t help but think how it would have been treated better in today’s marketplace. That, in turn, got me thinking about the roles various “historical” DC miniseries played (and might still play) in the building of their legends.

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Quote of the day | Grant Morrison on diversifying the DCU

Grant Morrison

Grant Morrison

“I’ve always wanted to diversify the DCU, but usually when I do it, James Robinson comes along and kills them all. [Laughs] But certainly we try. To me, I look out the window and see all kinds of people walking down the street, and I want to see that reflected in the superhero community. I’m sure a lot of readers would like to see themselves represented as well. It’s always been a focus of mine to widen the scope of DC’s characters internationally and ethnically.”

Grant Morrison, on Batman and diversity, in a conversation with CBR’s Kiel Phegley. Thank goodness this topic isn’t very controversial, or else this could cause a stir!

Meanwhile, you’ve already made CBR’s Bat Signal column regular reading, right?

What are you reading?

Greendale

Greendale

Happy day-after-Free Comic Book Day to everyone, and welcome to another edition of What are you reading? Our guest this week is Rick Marshall, editor of MTV’s Splash Page blog. To see what Rick and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading this week, read on …

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