O Say Can You See: The Greatest Patriotic Super Heroes of All-Time
I’ve heard it said more times than I can count, “Image is the new Vertigo.”
In 1993, when DC Comics founded Vertigo around a handful of more adult-oriented titles, mostly featuring faded properties reimagined by British creators as horror, sci-fi and fantasy comics, the imprint was one the relatively few games in town for high-production-value genre comics for adults
That same year Image celebrated its first birthday, and although it was a sales juggernaut, the publisher was at that point little more than a vanity press for a handful of creators doing pastiches of their favorite DC and Marvel superheroes.
Image Expo returned on Thursday, and it wasn’t messing around. Each year, Image Comics seems to pack bigger announcements and bigger surprises into a single-day event. And the diversity of creators and genres gets that much better, too.
This year’s Image Expo — held again at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, following last July’s event at Comic-Con International in San Diego — included the now-standard keynote address by Publisher Eric Stephenson. He reviewed the past year’s successes and echoed plans to make Image the No. 1 publisher, but aside from throwing the gauntlet down at the feet of Marvel and DC, his address avoided some of the controversial statements and manifestos of years past. While I appreciate a good sabre-rattling, it allowed the focus to remain squarely on the creators and their comics.
With that in mind, here are my six favorite announcements from Image Expo 2015:
Often when one runs across an engaging new series, it is fairly easy to identify the prime factor that serves as the appeal/pull for the project. In the case of Tooth & Claw, the new fantasy series (replete with talking animals and magic) by writer Kurt Busiek, artist Ben Dewey and colorist Jordie Bellaire, no one factor can be identified.
For starters–in the “credit where credit is due” department, there would be no series had Busiek not initially conceived the series, prior to seeking out Dewey. Busiek has known since the initial 1994 success of Marvels that no matter how great a writer he may be, the lynchpin to a project’s success or failure is how effectively the artist interprets his script.
Anyone with even a passing interest in comics art and storytelling should set aside some time to read this A.V. Club discussion with three Marvel art teams — Tradd Moore and Val Staples, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire, and Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson — about their approach to staging specific action scenes in their respective books All-New Ghost Rider, Moon Knight and Secret Avengers.
“I used a lot of panels here of varied sizes because I feel it gives the scene an undulating flow,” Moore explains of an All-New Ghost Rider page. “I do that a lot with fight scenes. Speed up, slow down, rise, fall. It’s kind of mesmerizing to me. To make a comparison to metal: The small panels are like a frantic blast beat, while the bigger, clearer panels are like a heavy breakdown or head-banging riff. I imagine viewers’ eyes speeding up and slowing down, widening and narrowing, as they scan across the page. I think it’s the kind of page that warrants multiple, extended views.”
Debuting in April from Dark Horse, the monthly series teams the writer with artist Andrea Mutti (DMZ, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), colorist Jordie Bellaire (Moon Knight, Pretty Deadly) and cover artist Tula Lotay (Supreme: Blue Rose) for an exploration of the lives of soldiers, and ordinary colonists, in the era of the Revolutionary War.
Wood tells Nerdist that while Rebels is rooted in the nation’s past, its themes will resonate with modern readers.
[Editor’s note: Every Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss “The best in comics from the last seven days” — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey’s run on Moon Knight may be short, but boy has it been memorable.
This past Wednesday the duo’s penultimate issue came out, featuring what Ellis called “Our Definition Of A Tony Jaa/ RAID Boombastic Thai Style.” The plot of the issue is pretty simple: A young girl’s been kidnapped, and Moon Knight heads into a building to save her. What follows is nothing short of awesome, as our hero heads up the stairs and encounters all manners of obstacles in his quest to find the girl in what has to be the best-drawn fight scene of the week — heck, possibly the year so far — if of course we’re counting this issue as one long fight scene (which I am). Moon Knight takes on everyone from your regular run-of-the-mill punks with easily broken noses:
Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey have commented on Wednesday’s announcement that they’ll leave Marvel’s Moon Knight after August’s Issue 6, with the artist revealing he’s taking a break from monthly comics.
Part of the publisher’s All-New Marvel NOW! initiative, Moon Knight debuted solidly in March, landing in Diamond’s Top 20 and earning praise for both the characterization by Ellis and the art by Shalvey and colorist Jordie Bellaire (she’ll remain on the series).
“Issue 1 went to three printings, and 2 and 3 went to two printings, and so I consider that a job reasonably well done,” Ellis wrote in his email newsletter. “The job has been, simply, reactivating Moon Knight as a productive property for the Marvel IP library. And, in personal terms, producing six single stories that held together, because I thought it would be amusing to provide a book that could be entered at any point and still give the reader a complete experience. Which goes against the grain a bit, because the modern commercial-comics reader has been very much entrained to expect long arcs rather than singles. I’m sure there are plenty of complaints out there about the lack of character arcs or long stories. But the book is still getting bought and reordered. So I guess we found an audience after all.”
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?
This week’s new releases include three more series launching as part of the “All-New Marvel Now” initiative — Magneto, Moon Knight and Wolverine & The X-Men — but of those, I only want to discuss the first two.
That’s because they’re actually new series, rather than an existing series simply relaunching with a new #1 issue and a new creative team. (The previous volume of Wolverine & The X-Men, the one written by Jason Aaron, seems like it just ended. When was that? Let’s see, it was … last week? Marvel’s not even waiting a whole entire month to relaunch titles now?)
Those two books are also solo series featuring lower-tier characters, making them the exact sort of comics Marvel has been allowing creators to pursue riskier, quirkier, more idiosyncratic and interesting approaches on since the success of Mark Waid and company’s Daredevil and Matt Fraction, David Aja and company’s Hawkeye.
And, of course, they also both start with the letter M.
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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 …
Declan Shalvey’s friendship with Stephen Mooney stretches back nearly a decade, to before either Irish creator was well known in the United States. So when the Moon Knight artist pitched ROBOT 6 the idea of interviewing Half Past Danger creator Mooney about the hardcover collection, arriving Jan. 29 from IDW Publishing, we didn’t hesitate to say yes, thinking the conversation would offer terrific insight into their relationship, their careers, the Irish comics scene and, of course, Mooney’s Nazis vs. dinosaurs adventure.
As it turns out, we were right.
If there are Marvel fans who aren’t following Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso on Twitter, they’re missing out on a lot of previews of upcoming comics in various states of production. For instance, on Wednesday he unveiled a first look at a colored page from the first issue of Moon Knight, by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire.
Launching in March, the series returns Marc Spector to the streets of New York City, and places the focus on the character’s horror roots.
“The book is filled with oddities,” Shalvey told Comic Book Resources last month. “It starts with a man in a white suit and mask with big moon on his forehead, remember. I will say this: Moon Knight investigates the strange and dark corners of the Marvel Universe, and boy, there are weird things there.”
In three short years, Image Comics has turned Image Expo into the first big comics event of the year. Interest in the publisher’s announcements has reached the point where I wish there were live-streaming video of the presentation. Maybe next year. For now, we have to settle with live coverage, which was still pretty fun. Image Expo didn’t disappoint: It seemed as if every title announced caught my interest. There are a few that stand out, however, so here are my Top 5 picks of the announcements that went above and beyond.
1. Image signs Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips to a five-year exclusive contract
The acclaimed collaborators have a perpetual green light at Image to do whatever they want for the next five years. That’s a big vote of confidence, and a real commitment to support Brubaker and Phillips. It must be quite a relief for them to not have to worry about crafting the perfect pitch and convincing someone to believe in their story. They just get to create. It’s an exciting arrangement, and one I hope will serve as a pilot program for others equally worthy.
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.
When I set out to conduct an interview, particularly when it’s focused on one project, I usually expect the conversation to go in a certain direction. I concede that this Q&A with Zero writer Ales Kot surprised me in its ability to venture into a variety of topics, including genetic memory, synchronicity and the importance of honesty in branding.
Tim O’Shea: How early in the development of Zero did you realize you wanted to use a variety of artists?
Ales Kot: Pretty much right in the beginning, if I remember correctly. The choice was a storytelling decision and a way to work with many artists I am interested in at the same time. I believe a narrative doesn’t have to be conventional in the way it is depicted (i.e. one artist for the story) in order to achieve clear communication of itself. Clearly I am right but really how hard is that to figure out? People who read comics are smart and wonderful and hungry for new stories and new ways of telling them. We live in a world that carries easiness of sensory overload within itself and our encounters with said sensory overload can teach us how to modulate/expand our perceptions. We are mutants. My approach to Zero is that of acknowledging and embracing evolution as a gift. That is one of the reasons why a variety of artists is correct here. Another reason would be because I simply felt like it.