Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
“I want to remind readers of this column that all the Marvel NOW! launches are going strong — none have been canceled or RE-relaunched in a whole new direction after 3 or 4 issues — which is a testament to the talent and coordinated effort of our writers, artists and editors,” Marvel’s Axel Alonso said in last week’s Axel-in-Charge column. Yeah, it’s another trademark swipe by Marvel at its competition, but he isn’t wrong. Putting aside the snarkiness, there’s something to be said for a.) making a plan and sticking with it, b.) having faith in the choices you made, and c.) not undermining your creators and your fans with sudden shifts in creative teams.
I of course have no insight into how things are really being run at DC. But from an outsider’s perspective, it feels like its editorial strategy is inspired by the likes of The Hunger Games and Battle Royale. Every man for himself, blink once and they’re gone, blink twice and their replacement is gone. On the day DC announced the new new writers for the Green Lantern books, I remember seeing a tweet that said something like, “Oh, I figured they wouldn’t announce the new writers until [next weekend’s] WonderCon.” My first thought? Just wait — maybe they will.
In “By the Numbers,” ROBOT 6 takes a look back at the events of the past five days … in numbers.
With Thursday’s announcement that Neil Gaiman is returning to the Marvel Universe and bringing with him Angela, the character at the center of his eight-year legal battle with Todd McFarlane, we’re left to wonder about the whereabouts of Marvelman. We also look at the surprise departures at DC Comics, and what the right price is when you name your own.
Joshua Hale Fialkov’s resignation from Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns was certainly unexpected, but it wasn’t nearly as surprising as the primary reason for the writer’s departure: an editorial edict to kill off John Stewart.
To a generation of fans who came of age watching Cartoon Network’s Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, the character is Green Lantern — forget Hal Jordan, Alan Scott, Kyle Rayner and the rest. In addition, he’s perhaps DC Comics’ most recognizable African-American character, facing competition only from Static and Cyborg, each of whom also appeared on television.
ROBOT 6 reached out to the voice of Stewart himself, veteran actor and comedian Phil LaMarr, for his reaction to DC’s editorial decree.
In the wake of twin announcements that Andy Diggle has left Action Comics and Joshua Hale Fialkov has exited Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns before their first issues could arrive on shelves, Nick Spencer recalled his similarly aborted plans for Supergirl in 2010.
The Morning Glories writer, who penned a well-reviewed Jimmy Olsen story in Action Comics — even as DC Comics eliminated co-features — was named in October 2010 to replace Sterling Gates on Supergirl only to be removed two months later, before his run could begin (he ultimately shared co-writing credit on Issue 60 with James Peaty).
Taking to his blog on Wednesday, Spencer shared his idea for a Supergirl story that would have featured such other young characters as Klarion, Arrowette and, judging from Amy Reeder’s unpublished cover, Robin, Miss Martian, Blue Beetle, Static and Batgirl.
“My secret hope was that the whole thing could work as a back-door pilot of sorts for a new Young Justice series,” he writes. “That obviously didn’t happen.”
Welcome to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew shares their picks for who we think should play a young Han Solo. Of course, we unanimously chose Nathan Fillion, so instead we’ll talk about what comics we’ve been reading. Joining us today is special guest Tim Lattie, the creator of Night Stars. Tim is currently running a Kickstarter to raise funds to publish it, so head over there and check it out.
To see what Tim and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
As DC Comics parcels out its April solicitations ahead of their full release at 2 p.m., we learn that I, Vampire and DC Universe Presents will be canceled with Issue 19, and Saucer Country with Issue 14. Update: The all-ages Superman Family Adventures also will end with Issue 12.
Launched in September 2011 as part of the New 52’s “Dark Group,” I, Vampire teamed writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and artist Andrea Sorrentino for a revival of the horror-romance serial that appeared from 1980 to 1983 in the House of Mystery anthology. Although the new series was a solid performer out of the gate, with the debut issue selling nearly 36,000, by the 14th issue that figure had slid below the 14,000 mark.
“Yep. I, Vampire is done as of 19. It’s been an amazing ride,” Fialkov wrote this afternoon on Twitter. “Thanks to all of my collaborators and stay tuned for the kickass conclusion. I’ve known For almost four months and got to write the ending I wanted. No complaints.”
Another of the New 52 launch titles, DC Universe Presents debuted with a Deadman storyline before embracing such diverse characters as the Challengers of the Unknown, Vandal Savage, Kid Flash, Blue Devil and Blue Beetle. Like I, Vampire, the anthology started solidly enough, with more than 41,000 copies but — again, like I, Vampire — it had plummeted below 14,000 by Issue 14.
Passings | Cartoonist and animator Bill White has died at the age of 51. According to his Lambiek page, White studied animation at the Kubert School and was a penciler and inker for a number of publishers, including DC Comics, Marvel, Archie, Disney and Harvey. His animation work included stints on Ren and Stimpy and Inspector Gadget. Infinite Hollywood has a nice remembrance. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Comics | Jim Beard looks at the apparent contradiction between the mass popularity of superhero movies and the relatively limited audience for the comics that spawned them; Mark Waid attributes this to a lack of comics shops, while Ethan Van Sciver thinks that most people simply have a hard time reading comics. Two local retailers weigh in as well, making this an interesting and well-rounded overview of the problem. [Toledo Free Press]
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where each week we talk about what comics and other stuff have been on our reading piles. To see what the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Spinning out of his recent appearances in Amazing Spider-Man, Morbius the Living Vampire will once again sink his teeth into an ongoing series. Starting in January, the character who first antagonized Spider-man in Amazing Spider-Man #101 by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane will appear in a new comic by Hell Yeah writer Joe Keatinge and Journey into Mystery artist Richard Elson.
The new series starts in January and was announced at the Amazing Spider-Man panel today during Fan Expo Canada.
“What Dan Slott and company has been doing with Morbius lately has injected a new life into the character and I was already adoring it,” Keatinge told Newsarama. “Dan really, really gets what motivates a character in the Marvel Universe, especially in the Spider-Man corner. In said corner, they’re largely all tragic characters trying to do better. In the case of Peter Parker, the result is usually for the greater good. In Morbius’ case, everything just keeps going to Hell. As a writer, there’s a lot to work with.”
Although he started as a villain, Morbius was always more of a flawed character who got a raw deal vs. being an actual bad guy. A biochemest with a rare blood disease, Morbius ended up giving himself vampire-like powers and bloodthirstiness when he tried to cure himself. When he wasn’t fighting Spider-Man, you could find him teaming up with the Legion of Monsters or even starring in his own series as a part of the 1990s “Rise of the Midnight Sons” crossover event.
Marvel celebrated Spider-Man’s 50th birthday with an extra-sized issue that week that included not only the debut of Alpha, Spider-Man’s new sidekick, in a story by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos, but also new stories by Dean Haspiel, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Nuno Plati. Did Spidey celebrate his big day in style or was the party a bust? Here are a few reviews from around the web:
Doug Zawisza, Comic Book Resources: “Marvel’s gift to Spider-fans includes signing Spider-Man up for the ‘Sidekick Club.’ That comes in the form of Alpha, an until-this-issue normal high-schooler, not unlike Peter Parker back in the days of yore. Alpha’s civilian identity of Andy Maguire is an ordinary C student content with just existing. He’s not a loser, but he sure isn’t a winner. In short, he’s young Peter Parker without any motivation or interest.” (4/5 stars)
Andy Hunsaker, CraveOnline: “It’s a fun inversion, having Peter himself hosting a group of Midtown High School kids to show off his new ‘Parker Particles,’ and of course it goes awry – although this time, it’s thanks to a bit of skullduggery from a jealous aspiring Horizon Labs scientist named Tiberius. This little sabotage actually brings to mind the origin of Spider-Man 2099, when Miguel O’Hara was cursed with spider-powers he didn’t want after a spiteful co-worker tried to kill him with his own device. That probably wasn’t intentional at all, but I saw it, so I’m calling it cool. Anyway, the resulting disaster gives Maguire a crazy level of super power not unlike Ultra Boy from the Legion of Super-Heroes in that he’s got all the generic superhero basics but can only use them one at a time.”
Passings | Italian comics artist Sergio Toppi has died at the age of 79. Most of his work seems to have been in Italian and French, but Archaia has plans to publish an English-language edition of his version of the Arabian Nights, Sharaz-De. [The Beat, Archaia]
Comics | Brian Truitt marks Spider-Man’s 50th anniversary by talking to creators from Stan Lee to Brian Michael Bendis about the 10 traits that make the web-slinger special. On a related note, Complex runs down the 50 most iconic Spider-Man images. [USA Today]
Publishing | If you’re interested in self-publishing, Todd Allen’s latest article about Ingram’s new, lower-cost color print-on-demand service is a must-read. Allen does the math for several different scenarios, in terms of format and distribution method, and boils it down into several handy charts. [Publishers Weekly]
Creators | Cartoonist Stacy Curtis talks about inking Cul de Sac for creator Richard Thompson, who announced last week he’s ending the celebrated comic strip because Parkinson’s disease has left him unable to maintain the schedule: “I never felt inking Cul de Sac for Richard worked. It was like going into a theater to see Jerry Seinfeld do stand-up and watching Steve Martin deliver his lines. And that’s what it felt like. Every time I sat down at my drawing table to ink Cul de Sac, I could hear a narrator’s voice say, ‘For tonight’s performance, the part of Richard Thompson will be played by his understudy, Stacy Curtis.'” The final strip will appear Sept. 23. [Stacy Curtis]
Graphic novels | Andrews McMeel Publishing, which has focused on comic strips and comic strip compilations up to now, has announced its first original graphic novel series: The Chronicles of Desmond, by Mark Tatulli, creator of Lio and Heart of the City. The books will be published in October 2013 under Andrews McMeel’s new AMP! imprint and will be aimed at middle-grade readers. [Publishers Weekly]
DC Comics has revealed a new creator lineup for its digital-first Legends of the Dark Knight that includes Jeff Parker, Michael Avon Oeming, Phil Hester, Gabriel Hardman and Joshua Hale Fialkov.
Launched in June as part of an expansion of the publisher’s digital-first slate, the out-of-continuity series features standalone stories by different creative teams chronicling some of Batman’s cases. New chapters appear each Thursday.
Here’s the fall schedule:
Joining Smallville, Justice League Beyond, Batman Beyond, Superman Beyond and Batman: Arkham Unhinged will be Ame-Comi Girls, based on the DC Collectibles line of Japanese manga-style statues, and an out-of-continuity Batman series.
Brian Truitt nails the lede here, saying “DC Comics aims to make every day a new comics day.” Ame-Comi Girls, written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, will come out on Mondays, while Batman–which will feature tales of the Dark Knight by Ben Templesmith, Steve Niles, B. Clay Moore, Nicola Scott, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Damon Lindelof and Jeff Lemire, among others–will come out on Thursdays. So the weekly line-up of digital-first series from DC looks like this:
Monday: Ame-Comi Girls
Tuesday: Batman: Arkham Unhinged
Wednesday: The Beyond comics
Friday: Smallville: Season 11
“Our goal has always been from the very beginning to have something for everyone. The opportunities that digital opens up, it really allows us to go for as wide an audience as possible,” Hank Kanalz, DC’s senior vice president for digital, told USA Today. “The Lindelof thing will really appeal to tons of fans who don’t read regular comics, obviously. Hopefully when they come, they’ll see what an amazing medium this is and stay.”
Update: Via press release, DC has announced more details on the Ame-Comi Girls series. “AME-COMI GIRLS, launching in May, is based on the best-selling product line from DC Collectibles that brings the distinct Japanese influence of anime and manga to DC Comics’ female heroines and their foes. In the new series, the heroines must unite to stop an invasion by the female Braniac, who is aided by a group of ‘bad girl’ super villains. Initially, there will be five individual character arcs with multiple chapters, leading up to united, Ame-Comi girl series. All stories are written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with Wonder Woman art by Amanda Conner and Tony Akins, Batgirl art by Sanford Greene, Duela Dent art by Ted Naifeh, Power Girl art by Mike Bowden and Supergirl art by Santi Casas.”
They also announced the creative pairings for the Batman digital comics: “BATMAN digital, launching in June, will take place outside of DC Comics – The New 52 continuity and feature a series of stand-alone stories by various creators that chronicle different cases handled by The Dark Knight. Confirmed creative teams include Damon Lindelof and Jeff Lemire; Jonathan Larsen and JG Jones; Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott; Ales Kot and Ryan Sook; B. Clay Moore and Ben Templesmith; Steve Niles and Trevor Hairsine; Joe Harris and Jason Masters; TJ Fixman and Christopher Mitten; Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman; Joshua Hale Fialkov and Phil Hester; David Tischman and Chris Sprouse; and many more!”
Conventions | San Diego City Council on Tuesday approved the basic funding plan for the proposed $500 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, home to Comic-Con International. At the center of the financing scheme is an assessment district that adds between between 1 cents and 3 cents per dollar to room taxes of 224 hotels with more than 30 rooms. Those hotels closest to the convention center would be assessed an extra 3 cents per dollar, and those farthest away could be charged an extra penny per dollar.
The expansion plan has a ticking clock, as Comic-Con has signed a deal to remain in San Diego through 2015, but larger venues in Las Vegas and Anaheim have been lobbying organizers to look elsewhere. [NBC San Diego]