Jason Aaron Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
This week saw the first arc of Jason Aaron and Jason Latour‘s Southern Bastards wrap with the release of issue #4. After spending the past three issues laying the foundation for lead character Earl Tubb to confront Dixie Mafia (and football coach) Boss, readers get what they want–and much much more.
As a native of the South (born, raised and still live in Atlanta), I have a deep appreciation for the story the Jasons aim to tell. It is 2014, but as a man who has sat in traffic in a metropolitan Southern city and witnessed a teenager driving a pickup truck with a giant Confederate flag waving from a pole in his truck bed can tell you, not everyone cares what year it is. It is 2014, but AutoTrader recruited Bo and Luke Duke to sell their new phone-app based platform. Right or wrong, those characters likely typify the South for many people who have never lived here. I think while some of my fellow Southerners live in and relish the wrongheaded trappings of the past (and yet, no, I am not calling the Dukes of Hazard racist), many folks are like me, proud of being from the South, but with no desire to rehash why and how the Civil War was fought. In 2014, there is no such thing as a typical Southerner. Thankfully, there is diversity in the 2014 South.
Event books seem tricky, but they’re really not. With their sprawling casts, catastrophic plotlines and massive fallout for books yet to come, it’s easy to see how some events (we’re looking at you, Siege) can go horribly wrong. But there are some key items each event must have to succeed, if not always spectacularly, whether or not we readers liked the outcome.
We will always need a threat, something too big for one hero, or, we hope, one team, to deal with. If the event were called Ninjariffic! and everyone just fought the Hand, we’d throw Daredevil at the problem and it would be solved. No, we require a large cast, as many and as diverse characters as we can assemble. After all, event books are here to help promote the rest of the Marvel line, and if it were just an Avengers story, it’d be an arc in one of their many books.
If the event can be personal, then we can have a role for all of our different heroes to play where no one is left out, or simply included to fill in space on a splash page. At the end of the event, we need some sort of ramifications for subsequent comics; it doesn’t have to be life-changing (though deaths are a go-to for this kind of thing), but it should shake up at least a few titles. On the other hand, the ripples don’t necessarily have to be massive, as the rest of the books have stories to tell as well; we don’t want one event ruining other creators’ work.
Civil War is an example of doing things right, no matter how much the end of the series fell apart. It had a threat in the form of the Superhuman Registration Act, it affected characters personally by making them choose sides, and the aftermath continues to be felt in the Marvel Universe. Another good example — and again, controversial in reader’s judgments — is Fear Itself. The threats posed were entire realms at war using Earth as a staging ground. It affected heroes personally, as they all faced their fears, and at the end of the day, the fallout was mostly contained to Asgard, letting the other stories get back to work in their own books. Whether or not you enjoyed the stories, they were told pretty artfully and got the job done.
Did Original Sin pass the test? Read on and find out!
WARNING: BIG HONKIN’ SPOILERS for all of Original Sin, mostly the big finale that came out this week so grab your copies and read along!
Piracy | The Japanese government is joining with 15 anime production companies and manga publishers to launch a major initiative that will target foreign pirate sites. The push will start Aug. 1 and will have two components: The government will send takedown requests to 580 pirate sites and also launch a website that directs people to legitimate sources of online manga. The Japanese Cultural Affairs Agency estimates that Chinese pirate sites cost the industry 560 billion yen (about $5.5 million) last year. [Crunchyroll]
Comics | Lidia Jean Kott talks with writer Jason Aaron about his female Thor and pays a visit to Fantom Comics in Washington, D.C., where a quarter of the customers are women and the bestselling title is Saga (the bestselling superhero comic is Ms. Marvel). [NPR]
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.”
A week after Marvel announced a woman will take up the mantle of Thor after the current hero is deemed unworthy to wield Mjolnir, artist Russell Dauterman has posted his character models for both versions of the god of thunder.
“Did these as I was starting work on the book,” the incoming Thor artist wrote on his blog. “The costumes were designed before I came on board (by the great Esad Ribic, I believe), but here’s my take on them.”
As writer Jason Aaron told Comic Book Resources last week, the former Thor — Thor Odinson, prince of Asgard — will “still have a role to play” in the new series, which debuts in October.
Publishing | The latest BookScan numbers reveal June was a good month for manga in bookstores, with eight volumes of Attack on Titan making the top 20 — a new record. The first volume topped the list, which means new readers are still discovering Hajime Isayama’s dark fantasy. Overall, manga had a slight edge, with 11 titles, and all three volumes of Saga were on the list, but only one volume of The Walking Dead. And despite the Amazon-Hachette battle, the Yen Press title Sword Art Online: Aincrad made the chart. [ICv2]
Publishing | ICv2 and Comichron’s John Jackson Miller joined forces to calculate the size of the entire comics market, including the direct market, bookstore and digital channels, and both single issues and graphic novels. Inevitably some things get left out, such as subscription services, sales to libraries and the juggernaut that is the Scholastic Book Fair, but it’s a good snapshot. The bottom line: $850 million in 2013. [Comichron]
Bad news for fans of the BrooklyKnight: Grantland reports the Brooklyn Nets mascot won’t return next season, and is likely headed for mascot limbo. “We put a lot of effort into the BrooklyKnight,” the team said in a statement, “but we’ve decided to go in a different direction.”
The current mascot is the result of a 2012 consulting deal with Marvel, which designed a basketball-themed superhero in a metal mask and shield. As the BrooklyKnight’s Instagram shows, the Marvel connection continued to play a role in his appearances. In addition to photos of the mascot with Nets fans, there are shots of the “official superhero of the Brooklyn Nets” at New York Comic Con 2013, posing with cosplayers and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. convertible.
Amazing X-Men, Vol. 1: The Quest For Nightcrawler (Marvel): Writer Jason Aaron transitions quite seamlessly from his 42-issue (or eight-trade paperback) run on Wolverine & The X-Men to this new series, which maintained the same setting and much of the same cast, only a switch of focus. Rather than the student body of the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning, the stars of this series are the superhero teaching staff, with a few additions not seen in Wolverine & The X-Men (Firestar coming in to replace Kitty Pryde, who was spirited away from the cast by Brian Michael Bendis to appear in his X-Men books, plus Northstar and the guy whose name is in the subtitle and is front and center on the cover).
Aaron’s main partner for this first volume is penciler Ed McGuinness (inked by Dexter Vines and colored by Marte Gracia), an artist whose big, muscular, cartoony style fits perfectly with the slightly zany tone of the story, and Aaron’s X-Men comics in general. Cameron Stewart draws the sixth issue in this collection, a sort of epilogue in which most of the other characters you would want to see reunite with Nightcrawler do so.
While we all roll our eyes or groan inside (or on message boards) when the summer blockbuster season rears its ugly head, part of me hopes we get another clean, classic Secret Wars out of the bunch. It had a great mix of heroes and villains from across the Marvel Universe who didn’t normally hang out together. It took those character completely out of their normal element (quite literally) to give them room to interact and put everyone on an equal footing. There was a clear common goal and a threat to face in the form of the Beyonder, and a host of villains he collected to fight our heroes. We had some new characters created in Volcana, Titania and Spider-Woman, growing the event into an origin story. And then everyone went home having learned a little something and … oh, yes: the black costume.
Secret Wars had a lasting effect on the comics that came after it despite having a clear finish when it was released. Heroes go to Battleworld, they battle the Beyonder and Doctor Doom, everybody dies, everybody comes back, they overcome their obstacles and go home (or stay, as Ben Grimm would do). It wraps up but still gives us so much to work with for future comics. This should be a checklist for all of Marvel’s event series.
Sadly, it’s not. However, Original Sin has the potential to get back to those classic roots. Please note that we’ve only really seen the zero and first issue, but there is just something from the simplicity of storytelling to the theme of the event that gives me hope. Let’s see if I can’t translate that hope to you, Dear Reader.
WARNING: I’m going to talk about Original Sin today, and if you’ve been avoiding promotional material and interviews to remain spoiler-free, you might want to skip this one, too. Everyone else, grab your copies and read along!
Conventions | Ross Lincoln gathers up the threads of a story that’s been unfolding over social media for the past few days: A cosplayer expressed concern that the Facebook cosplay gallery for the inaugural Cherry City Comic Con in Salem, Oregon, featured significantly more women in costume than men. Displeased by the dismissive reply from the administrator of the Facebook page, she sent a private message asking for a refund of her convention registration fee, explaining, “I don’t think this will be a safe place for female cosplayers.” Organizer Mark Martin posted that request on his personal Facebook page with the response, “despite the no touch policy, the family friendly policy, the 3 security guards at all times, and the fact that you’re bat-shit crazy? Refunded!”
Several prominent cosplayers picked up on that, and it became a cause celebre on Twitter and Facebook for a couple of days; meanwhile, things got more complicated with sock puppets and a possibly fictitious con representative getting involved. In the end, Martin apologized; to give organizers their due, the convention includes a harassment policy in its official rules and policies. The con will take place on May 10-11. The Daily Dot has more. [The Escapist]
Legal | Mohammad Hassan Khalid was sentenced last week in Philadelphia to five years in prison for his part in a failed 2009 plan to kill Lars Vilks, the Swedish cartoonist who drew the head of the Prophet Mohammed on the body of a dog. Khalid, now 20, was a teenager and an honors student when he became involved with Colleen LaRose, aka “Jihad Jane,” who in January was sentenced to 10 years in prison for her part in the plot. Prosecutors pointed to the fact that Khalid also translated violent jihad videos into English, which may have helped recruit new terrorists, but they also asked for leniency because he cooperated with them after his arrest. The defense claimed he was simply a vulnerable, awkward teenager who has since been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Khalid, who had been offered a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins University but was arrested before graduating from high school, will get credit for the three years he has already served in prison. [Reuters]
Considering that Marvel’s Original Sin begins with the discovery on the moon of the Watcher’s body, minus his eyes, it’s perhaps unsurprising the publisher opted for a somewhat ghoulish way to promote the upcoming event series in comic stores: Marvel-branded bouncy balls that resemble Uatu’s missing eyeballs.
And given that writer Jason Aaron teased last month, “Whoever holds one of the eyes is able to explode a bomb full of secrets and unleash all the various secrets of the Marvel Universe into the wild through that eye,” it seems only fitting that Marvel Senior Vice President Tom Brevoort, keeper of many of those secrets, has been spotted with one of the missing organs. There’s no telling what may come of this …
The eight-issue Original Sin debuts in May.
Fans looking forward to Marvel’s relaunched Wolverine & the X-Men by Jason Latour and Mahmud Asrar may do well to follow Mutatis Mutandis, a blog for the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning that launched Saturday with a farewell message from outgoing writer Jason Aaron.
“Believe me, it wasn’t easy for me to step away from this book,” he wrote. “I’ve loved building that school and writing those characters, both the students and the teachers, as much as I’ve loved anything I’ve done in comics. But the school itself isn’t going anywhere. And I’ll still be writing a lot of those same characters over in Amazing. And I’ve got lots of other stuff coming up that demanded my time, like Thor and Southern Bastards and some new things I can’t tell you about just yet.”
Since then, the blog (which appears to be maintained by Latour) has showcased some terrific X-Men illustrations from the likes of Jake Wyatt (above and below), Chris Brunner and Rico Renzi, and Kris Anka, as well as some artifacts from the past. Latour teased on Twitter that the blog may be “a good place to look for WatXM things in the days to come.”
Wolverine & the X-Men #1, by Latour and Asrar, arrives in March.
Welcome to Best of 7, our new weekly wrap-up post here at Robot 6. Each Sunday we’ll talk about, as it says above, “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out on Wednesday.
So without further ado, let’s get to it …
Marvel is making the first chapter of Wolverine: Japan’s Most Wanted Infinite Comic available for free this month to anyone who redeems a digital comic code from select titles. The offer begins Friday.
The 13-part digital miniseries, by Jason Aaron, Jason Latour and Paco Diaz, was designed specifically for mobile devices, and finds Wolverine stranded in the far reaches of Japan, where he must fight his way through ninjas, the Silver Samurai and Sabretooth.
“It’s tied to what Jason’s done in that we directly spin out of Sabretooth’s vicious takeover of The Hand,” Latour explained to Comic Book Resources when the project was announced. “This has left the ninja ranks thin, and cleared away many of the leaders and statesmen that were the backbone of the clan. It’s left their hold on the modern world in dire straits as well. But where other folks might see lemons, Sabretooth sees this as an opportunity to drag the ninja into the 21st century kicking and screaming. So he enlists the help and technology of the new Silver Samurai to do just that. Of course, Logan’s disgrace is key to the success of those plans, and very quickly you’ll see Wolverine on the run, hunted by the country he loves. We’ve got a damn metric ton of Ninja stabbin’ action as Logan fights to clear his name and stop this deadly new Iron Hand before it starts.”