Combining the style of Heath Ledger’s Joker with the taste in art of Jack Nicholson’s, a mysterious figure is making enemies of the street artists of Tehran.
Known only as the Joker, he defaces graffiti and stencil art throughout the city, using red spray paint to leave behind the trademark smile and a simple scrawled signature. According to ABC News correspondent Muhammad Lila, the real mystery may not be the Joker’s identity but rather how he moves so quickly: He manages to deface new graffiti before typically prompt city workers can find and paint over it.
If you’ve been keeping up with the events in the DC Universe, then you know things are looking particularly grim for the good guys.
At the conclusion of “Trinity War,” the Justice Leagues faced an invasion from the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 — “The birthplace of all evil,” as one character called it — evil counterparts of the Justice League. In the first issue of Forever Evil, these villains claimed to have killed all of the Justice Leaguers, they freed all the supervillains from all the super-prisons and organized them into an army called The Secret Society, they did some awful things to Nightwing and then even moved the moon to permanently block out the sun.
To mark the occasion of evil temporarily winning (again), DC declared September Villains Month, and is interrupting the ongoing adventures of its heroes with special “.1″ issues starring various villains. Each of these was to bear a fancy plastic 3D cover that jacked the price up a buck and ultimately created shortages, an artificial collectors/speculators market and irritated a whole bunch of retailers, many of whom were already pretty irritated by having to figure out how to order something like, say, Justice League #23.3: Dial E, which fused one of the publisher’s best selling comics with one of its worst.
We — and by that I mean you and I, for the course of this post — aren’t going to concern ourselves with that aspect of the books, however. Instead, let’s look under those covers, whether they’re the fancy plastic 3D ones or the regular, cheaper “standard edition” ones and concern ourselves with the quality of the comics concealed behind the covers.
Greg Capullo is one of the hardest-working people in comics. Fans who follow the Batman artist online or meet him at his frequent convention appearances soon discover he’s unrestrained, with boundless energy, carrying a deep appreciation for the fans who buy his comics, the creators he’s worked with and those that paved his way.
For this week’s “Conversing on Comics,” I talked with Capullo about Batman, as well as his career from his days at Marvel to Spawn and his five year-hiatus from comics. Along the way we discover that his grandmother was a Terminator, Scott Snyder is his brother and Todd McFarlane is the Todd Father.
Diamond Comic Distributors informed retailers this morning that it won’t ship products the week of Dec. 24 because of the UPS delivery schedule. However, selected items will be included with the previous week’s shipment to go on sale Wednesday, Dec. 26.
The distributor last experienced a holiday-triggered “skip week” in December 2009, leaving the direct market without Diamond deliveries for two Wednesdays. That year, DC Comics stepped in to ship Blackest Night #6 early, ensuring retailers had a major new title on Dec. 30 (of course, some put them on shelves early), while some saw the delay as an opportunity to promote independent comics.
This year, however, the wait will be significantly shorter: Retailers will receive another shipment on Friday, Dec. 28, for sale on Wednesday, Jan. 2. Retailers will be notified later which companies will make products available for early delivery.
In a separate email, Diamond also announced the addition of a “die-cut, cardstock overcovers” by Greg Capullo spotlighting the Joker for the following “Death of the Family” crossover issues: Batman #13, Batgirl #13, Catwoman #13, Suicide Squad #14, Batman and Robin #15, Detective Comics #15, Nightwing #15, Red Hood and the Outlaws #15 and Teen Titans #15.
Just two days after DC Comics spoiled the big reveal of the redesigned Joker with the cover of Batgirl #14, Jock has provided a close-up look at his take on the Dark Knight’s arch-nemesis from upcoming backup stories in Batman. Just don’t tell Greg Capullo.
The image, labeled “W.I.P.” (work in progress), appeared only briefly this morning on Twitter before being removed (it remains on Instagram). The panel shows the Joker, last seen last year in Detective Comics #1 having the Dollmaker surgically remove his face, wearing what’s essentially a reclaimed flesh mask, held together with what looks like staples, and some kind of bands stretching the mouth hole into a maniacal grin. Needless to say, it’s a little disturbing (you can see the image below).
DC has used a gruesome promo image to promote the character’s return in October’s Batman #13, which kicks off the “Death of the Family” crossover and marks the beginning of the four-part backup story by Scott Snyder, James T. Tynion IV and Jock.
Despite the best efforts of the Batman creative team to keep the Joker’s new look under wraps, DC Comics spoiled the big reveal Monday with the release of the November solicitations, which show a knife-wielding Clown Prince of Crime front and center on the cover of Batgirl #14. Needless to say, Batman artist Greg Capullo, who redesigned the Dark Knight’s arch-nemesis, was none too pleased.
“As careful as I’ve been to save revealing our new Joker, the powers that be have let it out ahead if our book,” he wrote on Twitter. “Stay tuned fir MY pics. In my younger days, I’d have punched several holes in the walls of my office by now. Rest assured, I will give you terror when I draw him.”
Reintroduced in DC’s New 52 as a homicidal maniac being pursued by police, the Joker was last seen in Detective Comics #1 where, imprisoned in Arkham Asylum, the Dollmaker surgically removed his face. Although much of Gotham presumed the Joker dead, last month DC released a grisly promo image teasing his return in October’s Batman #13, which kicks off the “Death of the Family” crossover (a nod to the 1988-89 story arc in which the Joker killed the second Robin, Jason Todd). That image, of a piercing blue eye peering out of the darkness and through the carved-off face of the classic villain, was followed by the cover for Issue 13, which depicts the partially obscured face of the Joker reflected in a hand mirror.
While the pre-overhaul Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark seemed somewhat avant garde, maybe even surreal, with its eight-legged spider goddess, Swiss knife-inspired villainess and DayGlo Goblin, the upcoming Batman Live struck me as pretty straightforward: For all of its bullet-time effects, the first trailer for the arena tour looked like someone had simply translated Batman: Hush into a live-action production.
But then today England’s Liverpool Echo released a four-minute sneak peek of the show, and “straightforward” went right out the window. The sequence, bathed in black light, is somehow both languid and manic, with Batman confronted first by a gigantic head of Joker, and then by his minions — who form the teeth of the demonic maw before dropping down and rolling onto the stage. The scene turns even more disturbing as the henchmen form into some kind of psychedelic majorette troupe that’s seen too many performances of Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk. All the while, Dick Grayson is being held captive in … a big hamster ball.
Watch the trailer after the break (you won’t be sorry). Batman Live opens July 19 in England, and then finds its way to North America in August 2012. After seeing this delirium-inducing preview, all I can say is it can’t get here soon enough.
Last night Jock offered a sneak peek at “some Joker business” from August’s Detective Comics #881, the conclusion of his well-regarded run on the series with writer Scott Snyder, and the final issue before DC Comics’ big line-wide relaunch. It’s “the issue everyone will be talking about,” the publisher promises. That may be hyperbole, of course. But it also may be because Jock’s snapshot of a crowbar-wielding Joker harks back to a 22-year-old scene from Batman #427 that didn’t turn out so well for the character on the receiving end. Oh, sure, Jason Todd got better; it just took him 15 years.
Check out the original sequence after the break. Detective Comics #881 hits shelves on Aug. 10.
With DC riding high on the news cycle given their plans to relaunch their superhero universe come September, leave it to none other than superstar artist Jock to show there’s still some great comics to look forward to between now and then.
Over on his always active twitter feed, Jock premiered a Joker cover presumed to be for an upcoming issue of his current series Detective Comics. What do you think?
Within 9 minutes Jock obtained over 25 retweets of this image, leading the artist to remark that he’s “NEVER had a response like that before. hit a nerve? maybe a funny bone….”
Publishing | John Jackson Miller delves into September’s grim direct-market sales figures and discovers a (relative) bright spot: Sales of lower-tier titles — those that don’t crack Diamond’s Top 300 — appear to be increasing, to record levels. “How do we know?” Miller writes. “Believe it or not, a record for high sales was actually set in September. The 300th place comic book, Boom’s Farscape #11, sold more copies to retailers in September than in any month since November 1996: 4,702 copies. That’s a record for the period following Marvel’s return to Diamond. This bellwether tells us about the shape of the market, and how prolific the major and middle-tier publishers are; when many of their titles are being released and reordered, higher-volume titles tend to push farther into the list.”
However, the higher you go on the list, the worse things look: “The average comic book in the Top 25 is selling more poorly in 2010 than in 2003. At the very top of the chart, 2010′s average top-sellers are about 25% off what the best-sellers of 2003 were doing.” [The Comichron]
Wow. I knew Lee Bermejo could draw some steely-lookin’ bad guys, but I didn’t know he could also channel Bill Watterson so well I’d have a hard time telling the two apart. Behold “Joker and Lex,” Bermejo and writer Brian Azzarello’s Calvin and Hobbes-esque contribution to the Superman/Batman all-star 75th-issue spectacular. I don’t even wanna think about what the rules of Jokerball would be in the alternate universe where this strip is a universally beloved classic — let alone what kind of “Joker peeing” stickers it might have spawned.
(via Topless Robot)
The benefits of early adoption: As Apple’s iPad takes the world by storm despite its dubious utility, DC Co-Publisher Jim Lee is taking his iPad and creating some pretty lovely portraits of Batman’s rogues gallery. The Dave McKean/Arkham Asylum-influenced Joker above is one of a pair of images of the Clown Prince of Crime Lee posted to Twitpic after losing his first and (according to him) best one to a crash, and there’s a Catwoman — “fingerpainted” on the iPad screen using Sketchbook Pro — below. Stay tuned to Lee’s Twitter account for more, I would imagine (and hope).