"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
Business | Indian digital comics and animation producer Graphic India has raised $2.8 million in seed financing, led by CA Media, the Asian investment arm of the Chernin Group (which previously acquired “a large minority stake” in the company). Founded in 2013 as a subsidiary of Liquid Comics, Graphic India is perhaps best known for the Stan Lee-created Chakra: The Invincible. The funding will be used to create content in English, Hindi, Tamil and other Indian languages for mobile devices. [Variety]
Creators | Geoff Johns says he returned to Superman because he was interested in giving the Man of Steel a new confidante: “When I was just thinking about the character and thinking about the story possibilities, every time my brain started to picture him talking to somebody with a problem he was having … or dealing with Clark and Superman, it always was just with another superhero. I quickly realized [Superman] didn’t really have anyone normal in his life that he could talk to again, because no one knew his secret.” The other reason: The opportunity to work with John Romita Jr. [Comic Riffs]
Ahead of the debut of the Man of Steel’s new power and costume in Wednesday’s Superman #38, DC Comics has released a graphic charting the history of his abilities, from super-speed to flight to, now, super flare.
The conclusion of the “Men of Tomorrow” storyline by Geoff Johns, John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson, the new issue apparently climaxes with the unleashing of what the writer calls “the most destructive power Superman has.”
Maybe it’s the exhaustion talking, but I can’t stop watching this GIF of Jim Lee, Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Dan DiDio, John Romita Jr. and Scott Snyder from the Entertainment Weekly Social Media booth at Comic-Con International. It may be my favorite thing today, at least until I find the next thing …
For their first issue of Superman, writer Geoff Johns, penciler John Romita Jr. and inker Klaus Janson (with colorist Laura Martin and letterer Sal Cipriani) have served up an intriguing blend of action and introspection. There are the requisite nods to semi-obscure (Titano!) and really obscure (J. Wilbur Wolfingham?) Superman minutiae, and one subplot seems destined to undo a New 52 development. However, while Issue 32 of Superman Vol. 3 is concerned with managing the Man of Steel’s status quo, a good bit of it revolves around the new character(s) that will apparently drive this story arc.
Accordingly, the issue doesn’t feel quite so much like the start of a bold new era (although it could well be); instead, the new creative team uses the issue to ease into its story, such that the action serves the character work. Considering that almost half of the issue involves fight scenes, that seems like an odd observation, but it’s kind of an odd issue overall.
The question then becomes whether those characters — Superman included — are compelling enough to follow month in and month out. Last month, Johns told Comic Book Resources that readers should “[j]ust give us one issue and that’s all. I think we’ll earn your trust and your time and your investment in one issue because I really believe in this first issue and I really believe in what we’re doing.”
Whether Superman #32 meets that standard is therefore somewhat unclear. It lays out the characters and their concerns pretty broadly, and (somewhat like Johns’ and Ivan Reis’ Aquaman) it depends to a certain extent on answering reader frustrations. Still, on balance, it works. This is a very good issue of the New 52 Superman, with all that implies.
Read on for more, and as always …
Retailing | Shares of Barnes & Noble rose 5.5 percent Wednesday, to $21.69, following the announcement that the bookseller plans to split into two companies, one for its retail stores and the other for Nook Media. Barron’s suggests those plans could buoy stock prices for a while, as long as the company doesn’t change its mind (again) about the split. The magazine also notes the possibility that an outsider buyer could make a bid for the retail stores before the split takes place, leaving Barnes & Noble with the Nook, which will be combined with the company’s successful college-bookstore operations. [Barron’s]
Manga | Inspired by a line of T-shirts featuring the work of the manga artist Jiraiya, Guy Trebay talks to Anne Ishii and Chip Kidd about the popularity of hard-core gay manga, such as the work of Gengoroh Tagame, in the United States. [The New York Times]
Conventions | While the South Jersey Times and Philadelphia Inquirer focus on the fans who turned out over the weekend for the 14th annual Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con, Philadelphia Business Journal zeroes in on its economic impact: an estimated $5.9 million, which seems like a lot, until you compare it to the expected $16.2 million impact of the 6,000-person American Industrial Hygiene Association conference. [Philadelphia Business Journal]
Conventions | First-timer Michael Smith reports on the Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con. [Liberty Voice]
Creators | John Romita Jr. talks about moving from Marvel to DC Comics to draw Superman and about comics being his family business; and his father, John Romita Sr., chimes in as well. [The New York Times]
Freedom Factory Studios, which developed Young Justice: Legacy, and UIG Entertainment have unveiled a trailer touting the May release of the official Kick-Ass 2 video game for PC and consoles. That will likely come as a surprise to some, as the game was originally set to debut in November, but instead now will arrive about nine months after the premiere of the film, based on the comics by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.
The passage of time hasn’t produced any more details about the game, which is still described by UIG simply as “a classic beat-‘em-up featuring brutal finishing moves and animations straight from the movie and comic book.” Players control Kick-Ass as he faces his arch-nemesis The Motherfucker.
New comics come out every week, by the dozens. Add that up by the month or the year, and it’s virtually impossible to keep track. Certain runs on some titles rise to the top by a mixture of critical acclaim, proper marketing and the right timing, but if all of those factors aren’t perfectly aligned, good comics fall by the wayside.
In this edition of ROBOT 6’s “Six by 6,” we look at six noteworthy creative runs on superhero comics worth a second look, even if that means a trip to the back-issue bin.
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. Looks like I’m flying solo this week, so without further ado, let’s get to it …
Putting Geoff Johns (writer), John Romita Jr. (penciller), and Klaus Janson (inker) on Superman sends a strong message to the cape-comics marketplace. At its core, that message seems to be “we’re not fooling around with the Man of Steel.”
Whether clad in T-shirt or Kryptonian armor, Superman has been the face of the New 52, in good ways and bad, since the 2011 relaunch. A Johns-written, Jim Lee-drawn Superman was part of the first New 52 comic published, namely the first issue of Justice League. Therefore, it’s eminently appropriate for one of DC’s highest-profile writers to take on its flagship character in his eponymous series. Likewise, art by longtime Marvel stalwart JRJr and veteran inker Janson is also appropriate to Superman’s central position in DC’s superhero line.
However, Johns also comes to Superman with a certain set of expectations, starting with his anticipated tenure. Writer/artist George Pérez and finisher Jésus Merino kicked off the current series, but they didn’t stay long; and for several months Superman struggled to find a consistent creative team. Incumbent writer Scott Lobdell came aboard with issue #13 and is scheduled to stay at least through April’s issue #30. That’s a year and a half, give or take a Villains Month, and it’s allowed Lobdell to leave his mark on Superman’s adventures. Moreover, Lobdell arrived about two-thirds of the way through Grant Morrison’s run as Action Comics writer, so for about a year, Lobdell has at least offered some consistency while Action tried to lock in a creative team. Johns has just come off two years writing Aquaman — not to mention multi-year runs on Green Lantern, Action, Flash, JSA, and Teen Titans — so it’s not unreasonable to think he’s got at least a couple of years’ worth of Superman in him.
Graphic novels | Five volumes of The Walking Dead made the November BookScan list of the Top 20 graphic novels sold in bookstores. As ICv2 points out, the fact that the first volume is still charting (at No. 13) bodes well for the series, as it means new readers are continuing to come in. The latest volume of Naruto took the No. 2 slot, and there were nine volumes of manga overall, including three volumes of Attack on Titan and the newest volume of Yotsuba&! There were five DC Comic titles on the list, as well as the latest volume of Dark Horse’s Avatar: The Last Airbender. Completely missing from the Top 20? Anything from Marvel. [ICv2]
Publishing | After three years at DC Entertainment, John Rood will step down on Jan. 1 as executive vice president of sales, marketing and business development. The position is being eliminated, with marketing and publicity to fall under the auspices of Amit Desai, senior vice president of franchise management. Sales, custom publishing and business development will again be overseen by Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. [The Beat]
Gift Guides | Here’s a spin on the traditional gift guide: Ten things not to buy a comics fan. [Crave Online]
Although the timing is a little odd, considering the film was released in August, Freedom Factory and UIG Entertainment have announced the November release of the official Kick-Ass 2 video game for PC and consoles.
There are few details in the brief press release beyond that it’s “a classic beat-‘em-up featuring brutal finishing moves and animations straight from the movie and comic-book” (however, there are some screenshots and character designs, which you can see below). Gamers can play as many of the main characters from the film, including Kick-Ass and Hit Girl, as they face off against The Motherfucker.
More details will follow, presumably.
There’s been a lot of talk about the appropriateness of violence and sexual violence in comics. It’s a good discussion to have, particularly for creators who take their art seriously.
I saw a quote from the Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat in The Guardian that seemed apt, although the context of what he was talking about was different: “If there is no mission or message to my work I might as well be a [house] painter and decorator.”
At some point, creators have to decide what their work is about in a larger sense — what’s their mission statement, if you will. In defining that, everything they produce serves that goal on some level. It’s probably not apparent to anyone other than the creator, and some probably do it on a subconscious level, but it gives their work a unified essence that makes it undeniably them.
Or maybe that’s just me, and I’m projecting that onto everyone else.
Even so, creators have to live with their work; it represents them. And everyone is going to have different comfort levels regarding what they want to represent them and their ideas, just as those that experience the work will have different levels of comfort. For some, it’s run-of the-mill to use sexual violence as shorthand to establish a one-dimensional villain; it’s a go-to device
Retailing | Following a price war during which it lost $11,000 a day, Overstock.com has vowed to match Amazon’s price on books, including graphic novels, going forward. Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne thinks he can get better prices from publishers who want to boost competition for Amazon. However, as ICv2 points out, Overstock’s graphic novel selection is smaller than Amazon’s, and prices overall have risen since their recent price war. [ICv2]
Creators | Todd McFarlane recently claimed no work that was “trying to get across a message” has succeeded as a comic, but Laura Sneddon finds proof to the contrary at the Stripped festival in Edinburgh, where she talked to Joe Sacco, Paul Cornell, Stephen Collins and Grant Morrison about the ideas that drive their comics. [New Statesman]
Publishing | Douglas Wolk uses a classic comics trope — who would win in a fight between Marvel and DC Comics, or rather, Batman and Iron Man? — to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the two companies and how their business models have evolved. [Slate]
Comics | Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater and writer and artist Dan Parent talk about the latest story arc, which takes the Riverdale gang to India for an encounter with Bollywood. [The Times of India]
Manga | Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, spoke about manga and the importance of freedom of expression at the most recent Comiket, the world’s largest comics event, in Tokyo. [CBLDF]