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What Are You Reading? with Andy Burns

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Andy Burns, editor-in-chief of the pop culture site Biff Bam Pop!, which is doing a holiday gift guide with giveaways through Dec. 24. You can follow them on Twitter for more information.

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

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Marvel ends PunisherMAX with February’s Issue 22 [Updated]

PunisherMAX #22

PunisherMAX will end with February’s Issue 22, Newsarama reports, ahead of what Marvel characterizes as “a big change” coming to its mature-readers imprint.

Although the conclusion follows January’s “final brutal confrontation between the Punisher and Kingpin,” it’s unclear whether this is the planned ending for the series. Writer Jason Aaron told Comic Book Resources in August, just as the current arc was beginning, that, “This is the culmination of the Punisher/Kingpin story, but it’s not my last story on the book. There are definitely plans in place after this next arc, but I can’t talk about them without spoiling what’s coming up.”

PunisherMAX, by Aaron and artist Steve Dillon, debuted in November 2009, following the end of the 75-issue run of the original mature-readers Punisher series (retitled The Punisher: Frank Castle during its final year). PunisherMAX and Deadpool MAX are the imprint’s only current monthly series.

News of the title’s end arrives just a day after CBR reported that X-23 will be canceled with January’s Issue 20. It’s the latest in a string of abrupt cancellations at Marvel that includes Alpha Flight, Victor Von Doom, Destroyers, Iron Man 2.0 and All-Winners Squad.

Update (5:47 p.m. PT): Aaron commented on Twitter, writing, “PUNISHER MAX is ending, the way I always intended it. It was not canceled.”

Hulk smashed? Incredible Hulk #2 boasts 11 total artists

Credits for "The Incredible Hulk" #2

Next week’s Incredible Hulk #2, solicited with Marc Silvestri as penciler, instead has six artists credited with pencils and finishes. Additionally, the original three inkers have grown to at least five. That’s 11 total artists for a 20-page story.

Taking advantage of an apparent glitch that made the issue briefly available last night on some comiXology platforms, Rich Johnston grabbed a screenshot of the credits box, which shows Silvestri joined as penciler by Whilce Portacio and Billy Tan. Michael Broussard and Eric Basaldua are credited with “pencil assists,” while Scott Hanna receives a nod for “finishes.” Solicited inkers Joe Weems, Jay Leisten and Don Ho, meanwhile, now receive help from Rick Basaldua and Crimelab Syndicate.

It’s unclear whether those changes will make The Incredible Hulk #2 returnable; the issue has yet to appear on Diamond Comic Distributors’ product changes list.

Announced in July at Comic-Con International, the new series from Silvestri and writer Jason Aaron debuted in October as Marvel’s highest-selling title, with an estimated 106,470 copies. Silvestri, who received pencil assists from Broussard on the debut issue, concludes his first arc with December’s Issue 3. Portacio will draw the fourth.

Food or Comics? | Point One, Silver Star, Tezuka and more

Point One

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 get the third issue of my favorite New 52 title, Batwoman #3 (DC, $2.99). Seriously, J.H. Williams III is hitting a home run on every outing here when it comes to my tastes. Although the writing isn’t up to the level of Greg Rucka’s time on the book, it’s close and only bound to get better. Next up I’d get Point One #1 (Marvel, $5.99). I think this format–an extra-size preview book for what’s coming next–is an interesting experiment, and I’m intrigued most by the Nova story, but also interested to see what the others do. Third would be Uncanny X-Force #17 (Marvel, $3.99), to get the one-two punch of Rick Remender and Jerome Opena. Iceman as a bad guy? I dig this.

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Comics A.M. | Ex-Marvel staffer says layoff protest misguided

Marvel

Publishing | Damien Lucchese, a production artist laid off last week by Marvel, explains why fans should not boycott the publisher over the layoffs: “What I’m trying to say is that I don’t want everyone to just see the MARVEL logo and think of a huge, top-heavy company, full of money hungry suits that make poor decisions (in some peoples’ opinions). That’s not what MARVEL is and there are still people working very hard (even harder now), day after day to put out comics for people to enjoy.” [Blog@Newsarama]

Digital piracy | Jim Mroczkowski posts his third interview with a digital pirate; as in the first two episodes, what comes through is that social pressures and one-upmanship have a lot to do with it. Also, piracy is expensive for the pirates, who usually buy the comics they scan—and often don’t even read them. [iFanboy]

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Food or Comics? | Heaping helpings of Kirby, Manara, X-Men and more

Wolverine and the X-Men #1

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 be a judicious comics buyer and pick the top four out of over 20 titles I’d want this week. DC/Vertigo makes it slightly easier by making the new Brian Azzarello/Eduardo Risso joint Spaceman #1 only $1. This dollar price point for first issues combined with the $9.99 price point they sometimes do for the first volume of comic trade paperbacks surely gets a lot of traction. Next up I’d get Jason Aaron’s new era of the X-Men in Wolverine & X-Men #1 (Marvel, $3.99) with Chris Bachalo. I’d also get my regular pulls of DMZ #70 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) and The Walking Dead #90 (Image, $2.99) and last–but first in my stack to read-–would be Secret Avengers #18 (Marvel, $3.99). I hear some Ellis guy is writing it, but the big draw for me is artist David Aja. His Iron Fist run is one of my top favs in comics in the past ten years, and he’s a titan in my book.

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Food or Comics? | Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Batman in a tub

Batman #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.

Michael May

If I had $15, I’d mostly grab the second issues of some DC stuff I enjoyed last month: Batman ($2.99), Birds of Prey ($2.99), and especially Wonder Woman ($2.99). No Justice League for me though. Unlike Action Comics, I didn’t enjoy the first issue enough that I can rationalize paying $4 for it. Instead, I’ll grab Avengers 1959 #2 ($2.99) and Red 5′s Bonnie Lass #2 ($2.95), both of which had strong first issues.

If I had $30, I’d have to put back Bonnie Lass and wait for the collection in order to afford Jonathan Case’s atomic-sea-monster-love-story Dear Creature ($15.99).

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Comics A.M. | Janelle Asselin exits DC; Del Rey’s Betsy Mitchell retires

Janelle Asselin

Publishing | DC Comics associate editor Janelle Asselin has left the company, reportedly for a job with Disney. She clarifies on Twitter that, contrary to a report, she wasn’t escorted from the building on Tuesday but, rather, left “at my leisure.” Asselin had been with DC since 2008, working primarily on Batman books like Batman and Robin, Batman: Streets of Gotham, Red Robin, Birds of Prey and the relaunched Batman, Batwoman, Detective Comics and Savage Hawkman. [Bleeding Cool]

Publishing | Longtime editor Betsy Mitchell is taking early retirement from her post as editor-in-chief of Del Rey, where she helped create Del Rey Manga. Tricia Pasternak, a former Del Rey Manga editor herself, has been promoted to editorial director. Del Rey was established as a science fiction prose imprint; the manga line was created in 2004 and was mostly shut down in 2010, when Kodansha began publishing its manga directly in the U.S. However, Del Rey still publishes a handful of manga and graphic novels, including xxxHolic, King of RPGs, and Deltora Quest. [Publishers Weekly]

Legal | In a twist that sounds like something out of a comic (or even an ad from an old comic), a witness in the Michael George trial testified he saw someone wearing an obviously fake beard outside George’s Clinton Township, Michigan, comics shop a few minutes before George’s first wife Barbara was murdered inside the store in 1990. [The Tribune Democrat]

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SDCC ’11 | A roundup of Sunday’s announcements

Defenders

As is typical, Sunday was a bit slower in terms of announcements at the San Diego Comic-Con, but there were some on the last day of the show:

At the Fear Itself panel, Marvel made several announcements, including a new Defenders series by Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson. The team includes Dr. Strange, Iron Fist, Namor, Red She-Hulk and Silver Surfer.

• Jason Aaron and Marc Silvestri will chronicle the adventures of Bruce Banner and his alter ego starting in October, when Incredible Hulk #1 hits the stands.

• Much like Siege begot the Heroic Age, Fear Itself will bring Battle Scars, a post-event branding for the Marvel Universe titles. Several Shattered Heroes one-shots will be released, focusing on how Fear Itself impacts various Marvel heroes.

• Marvel confirmed the launch of The Fearless, a bi-weekly series by Matt Fraction, Chris Yost, Cullen Bunn, Mark Bagley and Paul Pelletier.

• DC Comics released a gallery of character designs and sketches for the New 52 launch.

• Comic-Con International released the full list of Inkpot Awards recipients from this year’s show. The list includes Steven Spielberg, Alan Davis, Chester Brown and many more.

SDCC ’11 | Marvel to launch The Fearless in October

The cover of the August Previews catalog gives us an indication of how Marvel will follow up Fear Itself, and what we should expect to emerge from the publisher’s Sunday panel at Comic-Con International.

October will see the debut of The Fearless, “an event that shows readers what’s in store for their favorite characters in the wake of the Fear Itself event. Anyone that enjoyed Fear Itself should be interested in finding out how Captain America, the Avengers, and other characters from all across the Marvel Universe deal with the aftermath.”

Although further details haven’t been publicly released by Marvel or Diamond Comic Distributors, Newsarama reports that the twice-monthly series will be written by Matt Fracion, Cullen Bunn and Chris Yost, and illustrated by Mark Bagley and Paul Pelletier. The website also confirms the October launch of Incredible Hulk, by Jason Aaron and Marc Silvestri.

Stay tuned to Comic Book Resources for more information as details surface from Comic-Con.

SDCC ’11 | Scalped confirmed to end with Issue 60

Scalped, Vol. 1

Scalped, the Eisner Award-nominated crime series by Jason Aaron and R. M. Guéra, will end in April with Issue 60.

While Aaron had repeatedly suggested the Vertigo comic was nearing its conclusion, he resisted naming a final issue, writing just three months ago that, “It’s never been a secret that Scalped had a definite ending point. I still haven’t put a specific issue number on it, but we’re certainly getting closer.”

However, during Thursday’s Vertigo panel at Comic-Con International, Executive Editor Karen Berger got specific, confirming that Aaron and Guéra will bring the story to a close with the 60th issue.

Debuting in January 2007, Scalped is a gritty crime Western that’s been described as “The Sopranos on an Indian reservation.” It follows Dashiell Bad Horse, an angry undercover FBI agent who’s to return to the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation after a 15-year absence to infiltrate the criminal organization headed by Chief Lincoln Red Crow and bring him to just for the murder of two agents 30 years earlier.

The end of Scalped will follow the conclusion of DMZ in December and the cancellation of Northlanders in March.

What Are You Reading? with Chris Butcher

Casanova: Avarita #1

Welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Chris Butcher.

Butcher is the manager of The Beguiling in Toronto and founder of The Toronto Comic Arts Festival. He’ll be at the UDON Booth #5037 and The Beguiling Original Art Sales Booth #1629 at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend.

To see what Chris and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …

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Bachalo, Land, Pacheco to draw dueling X-Men titles

Who will you follow?

The Associated Press announced this morning that following this summer’s X-Men: Schism event, two series will take the place of the ongoing Uncanny X-Men series. October’s Wolverine & the X-Men by writer Jason Aaron will feature, obviously, a Wolverine-led team, while Uncanny X-Men #1, due in November, will feature a Cyclops-led team written by Kieron Gillen.

But who is drawing them? Marvel.com revealed the art teams for both books this morning. Wolverine & the X-Men will be drawn by Chris Bachalo, who has a long history with the characters. Uncanny X-Men will have two rotating artists — Greg Land and Carlos Pacheco. Land has been drawing arcs in Uncanny X-Men for awhile now, while Pacheco recently returned to the characters to draw the Point One issue.

“The best thing about this split is that the two books hit two very different chords. One is hardcore super hero action and the other is something else entirely that I can’t go too deep into without spoiling `Schism,’” Editor Nick Lowe told the AP. “The best way I can describe it is a return to a structure that made the X-Men what it was.”

The current Uncanny X-Men series ends with issue #544.

Update: Aaron has a post on his blog about the news, where he says not to read too much into the accompanying promo image: “I can’t say who’s going to be on my team, other than Wolverine of course. I can’t say where they’ll be or what they’ll be doing. I will say, don’t assume you know the full roster for either team based off this one promo image. Both sides will feature their share of surprises.” Gillen says something similar on his blog.

Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Finder: Voice

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Chris Arrant

$15:

This week is a busy week for me -– I count 13 single issues I’d buy if I was a rich man, but with only $15 I’d narrow it down to four things. DMZ #62 (DC/Vertigo $2.99) looks to be really amping up the series for it’s final year. I’ve enjoyed this series’ long run, and the way he’s built up this world only to tear it down seems amazing. Second in my bag would be the closest thing to a modern Moebius at Marvel, Shield #6 (Marvel $2.99). This secret history of the Marvel U has been really eye-opening, and Hickman’s bold reach really takes some big brass ones. This in line would be Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force #5 (Marvel $3.99). Remender’s done some solid modern-work while trying to not be outshone by Jerome Opena’s star-turn, but in this issue it’s got guest art by Esad Ribic. Ribic’s work has always carried this sense of gravitas without being stuffy like some painters, and I’m interested to see how he does these visceral heroes. Last up would be Brightest Day #20. On paper, a book with a league of b-list heroes seems like a non-starter, but I really like what the team have done on this, especially the Martian Manhunter and Firestorm threads.

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Jason Aaron to Alan Moore: “Go f*ck yourself”

Battle of the beards: Jason Aaron and Alan Moore

Battle of the beards: Jason Aaron and Alan Moore

No, seriously! Those are Scalped and Ultimate Captain America writer Jason Aaron’s exact words to the legendary Watchmen and From Hell scribe (and fellow beard enthusiast) in Aaron’s latest “Where the Hell Am I” column for CBR: “Go fuck yourself, Alan Moore.” Apparently the writer took Moore’s spate of angry and dismissive comments about the comics industry — spurred most recently, in straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back fashion, by unpleasant dealings Moore had with former collaborator Dave Gibbons over DC’s potential publication of Watchmen sequels — very personally:

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