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Six by 6 | Six overlooked superhero runs

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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.

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Best of 7 | The best in comics from the last seven days

bestof7-feb9

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 …

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Grumpy Old Fan | This looks like a job for…

All-New Superman Now!

All-New Superman Now!

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.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Walking Dead’ reclaims top spot in bookstores

The Walking Dead, Vol. 19

The Walking Dead, Vol. 19

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]

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‘Kick-Ass 2′ official game arriving in November

kick-ass6

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.

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Sex and violence in comics: When is it too much?

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Not the scene discussed here; this is more like the outrageous version of ‘football to the crotch’

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

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Comics A.M. | Overstock doubles down in graphic novel price war

Overstock.com

Overstock.com

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]

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Comics A.M. | In battle between DC and Marvel, who wins?

DC Versus Marvel Comics #1

DC Versus Marvel Comics #1

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]

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What Are You Reading? with James Hornsby

rocket-raccoon-and-groot-tease

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look into the reading habits of the Robot 6 gang. Today’s special guest is James Hornsby, the cartoonist behind Botched Spot and Over Like Olav.

To see what James and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below …

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Food or Comics? | Unsweetened chocolate or Uncanny 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.

Uncanny X-Men #1

Corey Blake

If I had $15, I’d be tempted to blow it all on the recolored Death of Superman collection for the ’90s nostalgia. But then I’d probably flip through it and come to my senses, and instead get something new like Fatale #12 ($3.50) by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, which looks like it’s going to be a trip, flashing back to Medieval times but self-contained as a good entry point for new readers. That’s smart comics. Speaking of smarty-pants, I’d probably get The Manhattan Projects #9 ($3.50) by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra. It’s the first part of a two-part story about scientists trying to take over the world. There will probably be lots of words that leave me dizzy. I likely wouldn’t be able to resist Matt Wagner writing The Shadow: Year One #1 ($3.99) because, you know, The Shadow knows. I haven’t been following IDW’s G.I. Joe universe but G.I. Joe #1 ($3.99) by Fred Van Lente and Steve Kurth seems like a good opportunity to try it out. And I’d finish it off with Cyber Force #3 by Marc Silvestri and Koi Pham because it’s free.

With $30, I would add to the above. Darkhawk is on the cover of Avengers Arena #4 ($2.99) by Dennis Hopeless and Alessandro Vitti, so I’d be compelled to buy that. I’ve been meaning to check out Erik Burnham and Dan Schoening’s Ghostbusters since I hear it’s real fun, so the relaunched Ghostbusters #1 ($3.99) is a perfect opportunity. Morning Glories #24 ($2.99) by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma seems too intriguing to pass up. I am so behind on the X-books, but I’d be real tempted to try Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Bachalo’s Uncanny X-Men #1 ($3.99).

My splurge item would be tough. I’d be real tempted to get either the Iron Man Omnibus collecting the entire run of David Michelinie, Bob Layton and John Romita Jr., including the famous alcoholism story, or Counter X: Generation X – Four Days by Brian Wood. But I’d probably end up instead getting the Daredevil By Mark Waid, Vol. 1 hardcover for $35. I don’t know, do I need to justify this purchase? It’s probably the most beloved superhero comic of last year, maybe for the last couple of years. It paved the way for similarly rejuvenating series at Marvel like Hawkeye, Captain Marvel, and Young Avengers. The art by Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin is swoon-worthy. And it wants to be on my bookshelf, dagnabbit!

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Food or Comics? | Black beans or Black Beetle

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.

Black Beetle: No Way Out #1

J.K. Parkin

If I had $15, I’d start with Black Beetle #1 (Dark Horse, $3.99), Francesco Francavilla’s pulp action hero who jumps into his own miniseries after a run in Dark Horse Presents. I’d also grab Threshold #1 (DC Comics, $2.99), which continues the story from last week’s New Guardians annual, featuring a new Green Lantern and a whole bunch of cosmic DC characters. I’d also grab Comeback #3 (Image, $3.50), as I just got around to reading the first issue and really enjoyed it. They’re doing some fun stuff with time travel that should make for a cool series. That leaves room for one more, which is a hard choice … but let’s go with Indestructible Hulk #3 (Marvel, $3.99), because I love the new direction and take on the character and his status quo.

If I had $30, I’d also pick up Saga #9 (Image, $2.99) and Daredevil #22 ($2.99), because, well, Saga and Daredevil. I’m also really digging what Kelly Sue Deconnick is doing with the Avengers, so next I’d get Avengers Assemble #11 (Marvel, $3.99). Lastly, I’d grab Captain America #3 (Marvel, $3.99), as I’m really worried about Cap and the kid, and hope they come out of Zola’s world OK.

Finally, for my spulrge, I’d go with the big Paul Pope book from Image, One Trick Rip-Off ($29.99).

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‘Hullo, Kitten’: Sam Humphries’ Tumblr celebrates mohawk-era Storm

From "The Uncanny X-Men" #180

Although I had seen the X-Men on an episode of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, my real introduction to Marvel’s mutant heroes was with 1983′s The Uncanny X-Men #173, purchased for me by my mother while I was home sick with one childhood illness or another. That issue also introduced Storm’s ’80s-punk look, meaning that, until I discovered a direct-market store and a back-issue bin a couple of years later, the only Ororo Munroe I knew had a mohawk and studded collar. (As an aside, Paul Smith’s rendition of Rogue, with her skunk stripe, led me to think for the longest time that she was middle-aged rather than a teenager.)

To this day, that version of Storm remains my favorite. It apparently also holds a special place in the heart of Sam Humphries, writer of Sacrifice, Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates and Uncanny X-Force, has launched F Yeah Mohawk Storm, a blog devoted to “comics, covers, fan art, cosplay, and fashion celebrating Mohawk Storm.”

You have to wonder what took so long for this to happen …

What Are You Reading? with Gardner Linn and Dave Lentz

Signs and Meanings

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guests are Gardner Linn and Dave Lentz, the creative team behind the webcomic Registered Weapon — “the internet’s only webcomic starring a robotic cash register who fights crime.” They just kicked off their latest story, Case 006, on Nov. 12, and you can also download the first ten pages from their site if you prefer to read in bigger chunks.

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

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Chain Reactions | Captain America #1

Captain America #1

Rick Remender has the unenviable task of following Ed Brubaker on Captain America, a book that Brubaker took to new heights during his seven-year run on the character. Based on the review so far, though, it seems that Remender is not only up to the task, he’s taking Cap in a completely different direction, with a different tone and focus that most folks seem to be responding well to. Along with artists John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson, Remender has sent Cap off to Dimension Z, for some “high adventure/science fiction” fun.

“It’s a departure from the standard operating procedure of Captain America, definitely,” said Romita. “We are in a different ballgame here. This is as far away from what I expected for Cap as you can get and I’m really enjoying this.”

Here are a few reviews to let you know how different the ballgame is now, and how well the new team’s doing in their first inning:

Ryan K. Lindsay, Comic Book Resources: “Captain America #1 from Rick Remender and John Romita Jr. with Klaus Janson doesn’t so much walk away from Ed Brubaker’s defining run on the character over the past seven years as it does leap frog it. There was obviously no point in trying to ape Brubaker at his A game, so instead Remender swerves Cap back toward his pulpier roots. This issue begins a strange tale that sees the Sentinel of Liberty fight the Green Skull and get embroiled with Arnim Zola in Dimension Z.”

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Previews: What Looks Good for November

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics — now with 100 percent more JK Parkin! Michael May, Graeme McMillan, Chris Arrant and JK have each picked the five comics they’re most anticipating in order to create a Top 20 (or so; we overlap sometimes) of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.

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

47 Ronin #1

John Parkin

47 Ronin #1 (Dark Horse, $3.99): Mike Richardson, Dark Horse’s head honcho, teams with Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai to retell the story of the 47 ronin who avenged their master after he was forced to commit ritual suicide for assaulting a court official. It will be both very cool and a little odd to see Sakai drawing samurai that aren’t anthropomorphic animals and aren’t in black and white (the book’s full color), but I’ve always admired his clean style. As an added bonus, Kazuo Koike of Lone Wolf and Cub fame consulted on the project, so this should be a treat.

Great Pacific #1 (Image Comics, $2.99): Joe Harris and Martin Morazzo have come up with a book that I just love the high concept behind: the heir to one of America’s most successful oil companies moves to the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch and declares it a sovereign country. He then fights giant sea monsters, based on the preview art that’s been released, which is an added bonus.

Marvel NOW!: This might be cheating, but Marvel has 10 new comics debuting in November under the Marvel NOW! banner. Mark Waid on Hulk? John Romita on Captain America? Matt Fraction writing Fantastic Four and FF? Jonathan Hickman on Avengers? Yeah, I’ll just lump all these together and hope no one notices I’m gaming the system here …

Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown: Fantagraphics continues its series of high-end collections of the best of Carl Barks’ duck stories, with the Christmas-themed third volume arriving just in time to be stuffed in somebody’s stocking.

Retrovirus (Image Comics, $16.99): Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s latest graphic novel, drawn by Norberto Fernandez, is about a research scientist who specializes in viruses heading to Antarctica to examine a perfectly preserved caveman. I’m a fan of Palmiotti and Gray’s work together, from Jonah Hex to The Monolith (which gets the collection treatment in November), and this one sounds like it could be a lot of fun.

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