EXCL. PREVIEW: "Avatar: Smoke & Shadow" TPB Threatens the Fire Nation
Graphic novels | A number of incoming freshmen at Duke University have refused to read Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, chosen as the summer reading selection for the class of 2019. Brian Grasso started the conversation by posting on the class Facebook page that he wouldn’t read the graphic novel because of its depictions of sexuality, saying, “I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it.” That opened up a discussion in which some students defended the book and said that reading it would broaden their horizons, while others shied away from the visual depictions of sexual acts. And Grasso felt that the choice was insensitive, commenting: “Duke did not seem to have people like me in mind. It was like Duke didn’t know we existed, which surprises me.” [Duke Chronicle]
Concluding this week, DC Comics’ Convergence put the big in “big event”: There were 89 individual comic books – a nine-issue weekly miniseries and 40 two-part miniseries – created by more than 75 writers and pencilers, plus a comparable legion of inkers, colorists and letterers.
Because of the sheer size, it’s difficult to review the event in its entirety, so I’m not going to bother picking it part here. The main series wasn’t particularly good, while the 40 tie-in series varied from terrible to excellent, with most of them falling somewhere in between.
In case you’ve watched this leviathan of a superhero event passing by without reading much – or any – of it, I thought it would be worthwhile to point out some of those excellent books, the ones that you should read if you decide to pick up any of Convergence, regardless of your interest in, or affection for, particular characters.
Ahead of the release later this month of DC Comics’ Convergence: Shazam! #2, artist Evan “Doc” Shaner has gathered his model sheets for the major characters that appeared in the debut issue, including Captain Marvel/Billy Batson, Dr. Sivana, Captain Marvel Jr. and Mary Marvel.
They’re interesting in and of themselves, of course, but also for the head shots in which Shaner mimics the styles of such greats as C.C Beck, Mac Raboy, Marc Swayze and Kurt Schaffenberger, showing from whom he drew inspiration.
Continuing with our annual “Looking Forward, Looking Back,” we asked creators and other industry figures what they liked in 2014, what they’re looking forward to in 2015, and what projects they have planned for the coming year.
In this installment, we hear from Faith Erin Hicks, Kevin Colden, Ben Towle, Gabriel Hardman, Jeff Parker, Jennie Wood, Blake Northcott, Irene Koh, Gus Storms, Janelle Asselin, Nolan Woodard and Janet K. Lee!
Legal | The Wally Wood estate has sued Tatjana Wood, ex-wife of the late cartoonist, claiming she’s in possession of 150 to 200 pages of his art erroneously sent to her address in 2005 by Marvel. The couple were married in 1950 but divorced in the 1960s; Tatjana later worked extensively as a colorist for DC Comics. Wally committed suicide in 1981, leaving “all bank accounts, whether savings, checking, Certificates of Deposit, or otherwise” to Tatjana, and everything else to his estate, supervised by John H. Robinson. [The Comics Reporter]
Creators | “I’m an acquired taste,” says Howard Chaykin, who was speaking to the press in advance of this weekend’s Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival. He talks about working for small publishers, his unhappiness with the licensed Star Wars comics he did for Marvel, and the current trend of movies based on comics: “It’s really just a matter of the guys who beat us up in high school finally figuring out a way to make money off our asses.” [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
There’s a lot to like in DC Comics’ December solicitations, most of it due to the return of some old friends and the uber-nostalgic glimpses at a traditional status quo. It’s not like the New 52’s changes are being rolled back — I have no illusions about that, and I’m not sure how it would work if it did happen — but DC is always best served when it can channel the familiar aspects of its past in vibrant new forms.
THERE YOU GO AGAIN
I am starting to think Secret Six is the comic Gail Simone was born to write, even more so than Birds of Prey. There’s always been a dark undercurrent running through her DC work, from BOP to Batgirl to The Movement, but only with the Sixers could she really cut loose. Indeed, as much as I enjoyed Scandal, Bane, Deadshot and the rest, I’m eager to see what she can do with six cryptically united strangers, most of whom will probably be new to us.
Those who believe the traditional, pre-New 52 DC Universe is still out there, somewhere in the Multiverse, can reasonably hang their collective hat on the return of the Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis Blue Beetle and Booster Gold in Justice League 3000 #12. I’d go even further, and say this version of Beetle and Booster probably follows directly from the two “Super Buddies” arcs that Giffen, DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire produced in the mid-2000s. The second one, I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League, ended rather pointedly with Beetle and Max Lord sharing a happy moment. That, of course, stood in stark contrast to the Countdown to Infinite Crisis special, in which Max shot Beetle in the head, and then (a few months later) successfully dared Wonder Woman to execute him. Therefore, the Beetle and Booster of JL3K hail from an Earth where things turned out quite differently — but ironically, they’ve been awakened in a dystopian future where the Justice Leaguers are darkly twisted versions of their old selves. Not that Giffen and DeMatteis can’t find some comedy there, but I’m having trouble summoning up a bwah-hah-hah.
As a kid, The Phantom was one of my favorite comic strips. So last year, I was enthused when I learned that writer Jeff Parker was collaborating with artist Marc Laming on a miniseries called Kings Watch, starring Flash Gordon, The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician.
Ahead of the July release of the trade paperback collection, I spoke with Laming about the miniseries, and to briefly discuss how the project has opened the door for future work for him. My thanks to Laming for his time and to series editor Nate Cosby for facilitating the interview.
When I first heard about DC Comics’ digital-first Batman ’66, I thought it was going to be a novelty with little staying power. Nostalgia for the campy Adam West TV series has been pretty high lately, especially in the wake of the popular The Brave and the Bold cartoon, and the artists behind Batman ’66 are faithful to the ’60s pop-art look, most spectacularly rendered by Jonathan Case in the debut issues. But what happens once the initial thrill has passed, and you clear away the cobwebs of nostalgia?
Second, there’s the unique format: When you swiped the page on a tablet, you’d sometimes get limited animation, you’d sometimes get a view of the artwork with the balloons out of the way, and sometimes you would experience a slight shift in the color palette with some retro screentone effects here and there. Sure, it’s a little gimmicky … but it was employed a truly artistic sensibility that’s impossible to replicate on paper. Sadly, as early as Issue 4, the novelty is seemingly abandoned.
I wonder… is there an equivalent to Glen Weldon’s Superman: The Unauthorized Biography that tracks the 80-year career of Flash Gordon? Only, instead of tracing society’s shifting tastes in authority figures, it instead contextualizes the spirit of athleticism over its eight-decade lifespan.
When Alex Raymond launched the comic strip in 1934, Flash was a polo player. Flash forward (heh heh) to the 1980 movie, and he’s a quarterback for the New York Jets. During the ’90s, the Flash Gordon animated series introduced the character as a skateboarding enthusiast; he’s a track-and-field star in the Syfy series … which isn’t exactly the coolest sport, but an appropriate one in a world that’s become conscious of concussions and other injuries
Dynamite Entertainment’s new Flash Gordon, written by Jeff Parker and illustrated by Evan Shaner and Jordie Bellaire, casts the title character as an extreme sports aficionado. It’s a little out of date: Flash is introduced doing a dangerous bungee jump off a bridge, reminiscent of a similar scene in the Vin Diesel movie xXx (the most extreme spy, dude, way cooler than that lame-o James Bond). Still, it does establish something crucial about Flash: The world is far too tame for his wild, adventurous spirit. Flash gets a slap in the face and a stern, parental warning to stop with his childish garbage (one imagines the frequently bare-chested Alex Raymond Flash would have instead been applauded). Is there a place for him somewhere that isn’t totally lame?
Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “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.
This week is pretty packed, as we have news, reviews, a con recap and a whole year’s worth of announcements from one publisher. So buckle your seat belts and hold on tight as we aim our DeLorean at the last seven days …
Welcome to Best of 7, where we 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. So without further ado, let’s get to it …
Angry Birds, Rovio Entertainment’s blockbuster mobile game turned multimedia sensation, will continue its global conquest of pop culture in June, when IDW Publishing launches a comics adaptation by such creators as Jeff Parker and Paul Tobin.
“We’re very happy to be in business with Rovio on Angry Birds comics,” IDW Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall said in a statement. “Rovio has taken what was once a captivating game and built it into an interesting world filled with interesting and, uh, feathered characters who will make a perfect addition to our growing line of fun, all-ages comics.”
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. I should also note that we skipped last Sunday after being exhausted from all our anniversary content, so you may see an item or two slip in from last week.
So without further ado, let’s get to it …
Our annual “Looking Forward, Looking Back” feature continues, as we ask various comics folks what they liked in 2013, what they’re looking forward to in 2014 and what projects they have planned for the coming year. In, this final round, we hear from Vito Delsante, Jacq Cohen, Mark Sable, Dean Haspiel, Joshua Williamson, Jordie Bellaire, Paul Allor, Adam P. Knave, Tim Gibson, Bryan Q. Miller, Nathan Edmondson, Ann Nocenti, Jason Latour, Paul Tobin, Ming Doyle, Jeff Parker, Francesco Francavilla and Gabriel Hardman.
And if you missed them, be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6 where we heard from Jimmy Palmiotti, Tim Seeley, Chris Roberson, Kurt Busiek, Faith Erin Hicks, Tyler Kirkham, G. Willow Wilson and many more.
Legal | More details have emerged about Hirofumi Watanabe, the 36-year-old man suspected of sending more than 400 threatening letters to convention centers, retailers and other sites in Japan associated with the manga Kuroko’s Basketball. The newspaper Mainichi Shimbun revealed Watanabe studied anime at a vocational school but dropped out at age 20. Also, a search of Watanabe’s apartment turned up toilet bowl cleaner, a scrap of paper that said “creating hydrogen sulfide” and, not surprisingly, several volumes of Kuroko’s Basketball.
Oddly, Watanabe claims to be two different perpetrators who use two different accents, standard Japanese and a Kansai accent, and many of the statements he made in his letters and online postings, including that he was acquainted with Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki, appear to be false. Anime News Network also reports that when he was arrested, Watanabe had about 20 threat letters in his backpack, and that he told police he was jealous of Fujimaki’s success. [Anime News Network]