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Grumpy Old Fan | Pandora, Despero, and being ‘Forever’ 2002

Forever Red Rover

Everyone has Serious Eyes except HawkmaAAAA LOOK AWAY LOOK AWAY

The final issue of Forever Evil was originally scheduled to come out this week, but now seems to have been delayed until May 21.  That’s too bad, at least for those of us who’ve been following the thing since September (because those delays evaporate in collections). However, it gives me some time to digest what’s been presented so far. It also offers a chance to look back at a 2002 graphic novel that features a couple of the same peripheral elements.

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WonderCon ’13 | A round-up of news from Friday

Earth-2 Batman

Earth-2 Batman

WonderCon Anaheim 2013 kicked off yesterday at the Anaheim Convention Center, with badges for Friday selling out at some point during the day. Saturday and three-day badges already sold out, so it looks like just Sunday is left if you were hoping to attend but didn’t purchase your badge in advance.

There weren’t a lot of announcements coming out of the show yesterday, and in fact I’m not completely sure what could be considered “WonderCon news” and what was just, um, news, but here’s a round-up of stuff you may have missed from Friday:

• 2014 will bring a crossover between DC’s two Earths, according to Earth 2 writer James Robinson. “If I’m talking about a big event that’s happening in 2014, it’s all these characters meeting each other,” said Robinson, citing Crisis on Infinite Earths and the Justice Society during his spotlight panel in Anaheim. Robinson also said his goal was to make sure the writers involved in the event were invested in the story, and described himself as “the point guy” when it comes to the event, saying that Scott Snyder, Geoff Johns and Dan DiDio are also very involved. Earth 2 is also getting its own Batman, and the book will also feature the introductions of Starman (Ted Knight), Red Arrow (Earth 2′s version of Green Arrow), Hourman, Wildcat, Mister Miracle and Big Barda in the future.

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DC announces JSA: The Liberty Files — The Whistling Skull

JSA: The Liberty Files -- The Whistling Skull #1

DC Comics has announced the December debut of JSA: The Liberty Files — The Whistling Skull, a six-issue miniseries by B. Clay Moore, Tony Harris and Dave McCaig.

Set in the world introduced in JSA: The Liberty File, the 2000 miniseries by Harris and Dan Jolley, The Whistling Skull takes place in 1940s Europe, where, “with the Nazi war machine on the move, crimes are still committed even in the smallest hamlets.” No specific story details have been provided.

“For readers looking for a new spin on the DC Universe, combined with brand new headlining characters, I think the book will be a treat, and it’s just the first chapter in a much larger story,” Moore told DC’s The Source.” This initial offering introduces readers to the legacy of the Whistling Skull in a wartime, pulp-infused setting, and should provide something fresh for readers to sink their teeth into.”

Published under DC’s now-defunct Elseworlds banner, The Liberty File and its 2003 sequel The Unholy Three portrayed members of the Justice Society of America as covert government operatives rather than superheroes: Codenamed the Unholy Three, the Bat (Batman), the Owl (Dr. Mid-Nite) and the Clock (Hourman) are eventually joined by the likes of Mister Terrific, Clark Kent, Mercury (The Flash), the Huntress and the Hawk (Hawkman) in their fight against Nazi and KGB agents.

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Comics A.M. | Relaunching Justice Society, rebuilding Billy Batson

Earth 2 #2

Creators | Alex Zalben talks to James Robinson about his rebooted version of DC Comics’ Justice Society in Earth 2, and the process of creating a world of one’s own: “It always starts with certain plot points that immediately come to you, and you always want those moments to happen at some point, and you work towards them. There are some characters that come to you almost fully formed in your mind, and those are you anchors. And same with the world, there are some aspects of the world that you say, this is what I want to do, here or there, or there. They’re the anchors, and you slowly begin to add the other pieces so it links, and forms, and becomes a whole tapestry.” [MTV Geek]

Creators | Geoff Johns talks about the new, more nuanced version of Billy Batson that he and artist Gary Frank are creating in the Shazam back-up stories in Justice League: “Billy is trouble, but trouble in a way that I think we’ll find understandable, relatable and fun. He has a heart, a big one, but he also has a protective shell around it. He’s mischievous, independent and strong. He’s conflicted, tough and sad. And many other things. For us, Billy had to be as complex and as interesting as his alter ego.” [Hero Complex]

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Grumpy Old Fan | Multiverses and Marvels

All-Star Squadron #36, one of many issues Roy Thomas was destined to write

This is going to be another “we liked it the old way” type of post. I take no particular pleasure in these, because there are only so many ways to rail against change, especially changes involving decades-old characters and concepts.

Nevertheless, the latest charges of Crimes Against Tradition are against the new Earth 2 and “Shazam!” features. The original Earth-Two came to represent generations of superheroes active since the late 1930s, but the current one is apparently “five years of supers, give or take”; and the new don’t-say-the-M-word “Shazam” is apparently also something called the Third Sinner. So yes, DC, I try to be open-minded, I will give these things reasonable chances to win me over, and no one has destroyed my treasured old comics — but wow, you don’t make it easy.

Therefore, today I want to look at why the old versions might still matter, but just as importantly why they still matter to fogeys like me.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Can the New 52 count on the Next Six’s Earth-2?

"You're not going out in *that*?!?"

Although they won’t be solicited for a few more weeks, DC has already been talking up the six new(ish) titles coming in May. G.I. Combat, Dial H, Ravagers, and Worlds’ Finest join the returning Batman Incorporated and the long-rumored Justice So– I mean, Earth 2 — as the replacements for most of the New-52′s lowest-selling books.

As with the original New-52 group, every new title except one is familiar to longtime DC fans; and as with the original New-52, that book spins out of an existing feature. (Then it was Batman Incorporated begetting Batwing; here it’s the Teen Titans/Superboy nexus spawning Ravagers.) However, where the New-52 tried noticeably to make many of its books accessible — or at least uprooted them from established DC lore — most of the new titles seem to require some prerequisite reading.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Ten from 2011, ten for 2012

Red underwear makes a comeback in 2965

Before we jump into 2012, I have one last bit of business to take care of: toting up my 2011 predictions, and offering a set for the new year.

2011

1. The Green Lantern movie. Last year I predicted that GL would be “more lucrative than Captain America, not as much as Thor.  It ended up making $116 million domestically ($219 million worldwide), well behind Cap’s $176 million ($368M globally) and Thor’s $181 million ($449M globally). Also, it wasn’t as good. I liked it well enough (and from what I hear I may like the Blu-Ray version more), but apparently I was in the minority.

2. Superman and Wonder Woman after JMS. I just had questions for this entry: will Roberson and Barrows stay on Superman? (No.) Will Diana keep the jacket and pants? (No jacket, pants optional.) Finally, I asked “[w]ill sales improve once ‘Grounded’ ends?” Guess that depends on how you define “ends,” because “Grounded” closed out that Superman series; and the next issue of Superman was a New-52 No. 1 which sold almost 100,000 more copies than its predecessor. We may never know what might have happened to Superman without the New 52, but probably not that.
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FanExpo Canada | A rundown of news from this weekend’s convention

Brian Wood returns to Marvel

FanExpo Canada wraps up today in Toronto, and both Marvel and DC were there this weekend announcing various projects:

  • DC Comics will relaunch the Justice Society by writer James Robinson and artist Nicola Scott. The new adventures of the JSA will be set not on the “New 52″ Earth, but on Earth-2, as they were before Crisis on Infinite Earths combined DC’s multiple Earths into one big sandbox back in the 1980s. “Everyone’s saying, ‘How can there be superheroes before the five years?’ We’re actually bringing back Earth-2,” Robinson said.
  • Marvel announced Brian Wood will write for the publisher once again, in a teaser that seems to point a finger at a Wolverine project.
  • Marvel’s Alpha Flight has been upgraded from a limited series to an ongoing.”We’ve got Taskmaster showing up, we’ve got Wolverine and other characters journeying north to find out what’s going on with Alpha Flight,” said co-writer Fred Van Lente. “We learn that Alpha flight’s actually a member of a super, super team called The Commonwealth of Heroes. I’m very excited about writing those characters — I love them a lot and it’s going to be a good time.” The Commonwealth of Heroes? I am intrigued. CBR has more details in an interview with Van Lente and Greg Pak, where they mention that Captain Britain and MI-13 will play a role in the Commonwealth Heroes.
  • In addition to Jill Thompson, other artists working on the upcoming Shade miniseries written by James Robinson include Gene Ha and Darwyn Cooke.
  • Marvel will publish a five-issue miniseries called Destroyers, by writer Fred Van Lente and artist Kyle Hotz. The book will feature The Thing, the Beast, A-Bomb, She-Hulk, Karkas the Deviant and Devil Dinosaur. “A lot of this series is about how monsters feel about being monsters and how comfortable they are with it. Hank McCoy is probably the most comfortable in his furry blue skin. He’s got an analytical mind. In this story, a colleague from his past gets murdered. That sets him on a quest to solve a mystery and puts him on a collision course with the Destroyers,” Van Lente told CBR.
  • Marvel also announced the return of two more CrossGen properties — Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in December by writer Peter Milligan and artist Roman Rosanas, and Route 666 in February by writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Peter Nguyen. Both are four-issue mini-series.

SDCC ’11 | DiDio tackles questions online in ‘virtual convention panel’

Dan DiDio

Warming up for a grueling Comic-Con International schedule, DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio held a virtual convention panel last night on Facebook for fans who can’t make it to San Diego. Highlights from the Q&A include:

• DC no longer has the rights to Archie’s Red Circle superheroes.

• Stephanie Brown will remain part of the DC Universe following the September relaunch. However, DiDio won’t reveal where she is just yet. “Sorry, but we are keeping some secrets,” he wrote, “and one of them involves Stephanie.”

• He’s sticking by his earlier remarks about the status of the Justice Society, saying “the official answer on JSA is that ‘They’re resting’.”

• When can we expect the release of Dark Knight: Boy Wonder, the planned six-issue conclusion of Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder? “Probably when he is The Teen Wonder.”

• Asked whether we’ll ever see the new version of Who’s Who in the DC Universe announced in December 2009, DiDio replied, “the question is not who’s who but when’s when.”

DiDio’s first actual Comic-Con panel, “DC Comics — The New 52,” kicks off at 2 p.m. Thursday in San Diego.

Dan DiDio: DC Comics has ‘decided to rest’ the Justice Society

Justice Society of America #26, by Alex Ross

One of the many questions surrounding DC Comics’ line-wide renumbering centered on the absence of Justice Society of America, a title that in recent years had undergone its own high-profile reboot and spawned two spinoff series. The Justice Society, with a sprawling membership that includes Golden Age characters (or their namesakes) like The Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern and Hourman, reached deep into DC, and comic-book, history, forming the very first team of superheroes.

But Justice Society wasn’t among the 52 books rolled out by the publisher last week. Neither, for that matter, was Power Girl, whose title character has been closely associated with the JSA since her debut in 1976. And the solicitation for Mister Terrific #1, featuring a new take on “the world’s third-smartest man” — and two-time chairman of the team — makes no mention of the group. Then came the unveiling on Friday of Action Comics #1 which, as Robot 6′s J.K. Parkin pointed out, refers to “a world that doesn’t trust their first Super Hero.”

If all of that isn’t enough to signal the end, or non-existence, of the world’s first team of superheroes, official word came over the weekend from Co-Publisher Dan DiDio, who wrote on his Facebook page, “As for JSA, we have decided to rest this concept while we devote our attention on the launch of the three new Justice League series. As for other characters and series not part of the initial 52, there are plenty of stories to be told, and we’re just getting started.”

As with any demise in superhero comics, this one is probably only temporary (heck, the JSA itself has been put to “rest,” only to be resurrected, a handful of times over the past 60 years). However, when the publisher is pushing a “modern” and “contemporary” take on its superhero universe, grappling with graying characters so firmly rooted in World War II will undoubtedly prove problematic.

DC relaunch scorecard: DCnU or DC No?

Green Lantern #1, by Dave Johnson

Although it seems like DC’s big relaunch announcement came out an eternity ago, it actually took the publisher less than two weeks to roll out the 52 titles and their creative teams for the big relaunch/reboot/overhaul coming in September. Now that the cats are out of their respective bags, I thought I’d see where various creators and characters will land after the reboot.

So I went back through DC’s August solicitations to see who was writing or drawing what, and tried to map everyone to their post-relaunch project — if they had one. However, looking at DC’s August solicitations, there seem to be several fill-in issues, so where appropriate I tried to map the most recent ongoing creative teams to their new projects (for instance, I consider Gail Simone and Jesus Saiz the regular creative team for Birds of Prey, even if they aren’t doing the last two issues before September hits). Keep in mind that I just went through the ongoing series and skipped over all the miniseries … of which there are a lot, what with Flashpoint winding up in August.

It’s also worth noting that although several creators didn’t appear in the “big 52″ announcements, that doesn’t mean their tenure with DC is necessarily over — some, like Frazer Irving, have said they have future projects that haven’t been announced. So I tried to note where creators have talked publicly about their post-relaunch plans with DC (or lack thereof, as the case may be). The same could probably be said for some of DC’s characters as well. Or, as Gail Simone said on Twitter: “Again, September is NOT THE END. There’s still plans for characters that we haven’t seen yet.”

So let’s get to it ….

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Grumpy Old Fan | Surprise me: DC Comics Solicitations for August 2011

Featuring the classic Blizzard vs. Polar Bear battle!

One tagline for the big alien-invasion movie Independence Day cautioned, “Don’t make plans for August.” Well, perhaps the biggest news coming out of DC’s August solicitations is the pervasive sense of foreboding they have about September. Rich Johnston maintains that a whole crop of new No. 1 issues is on tap for the fall, but there are no “FINAL ISSUE!” blurbs to be found on any of the current ongoing series.

While that doesn’t rule out a line-wide relaunch, the solicits also seem to say that readers won’t have to worry about a line-wide reboot. As noted in this space a couple of weeks back, the degree of change will probably be different for different titles. Nevertheless, now that we have a better idea of how August will look, let’s see what it says about September….

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May brings the end for five DC series

Doom Patrol #22

The solicitations for DC’s May titles hit earlier today, bringing official word that five DC series have been canceled. Doom Patrol, JSA All-Stars, Freedom Fighters and R.E.B.E.L.S. join The Outsiders on the chopping block. They follow Azrael, Batman: Streets Of Gotham and Batman Confidential, which met their ends in March.

Looking at the most recent month-to-month sales figures for DC that Mark-Oliver Frisch analyzes on The Beat, it’s not surprising to see any of these titles ending. Probably the biggest surprise, if you were looking just at the numbers, is JSA All-Stars, which looks to be selling better than other monthly series not getting the axe, like Booster Gold and Power Girl. I bet many of the characters in it will find their way back to the flagship JSA title.

Freedom Fighters co-writer Jimmy Palmiotti commented on the cancellation of the book on Twitter, noting, “If a book doesn’t break even or make a profit, it gets cancelled and opens up the door for another title,” he said. “Wait for the big picture. things get cancelled and others get green lit. the nature of publishing.”

Doom Patrol, Freedom Fighters, Outsiders and L.E.G.I.O.N./R.E.B.E.L.S. have all ended before — despite their name, Doom Patrol has been resurrected four times since the original series ended — and no doubt they’ll all be back again somewhere down the road.

What Are You Reading?

Deadpool Team-Up #886

Hello and welcome to a special “birthday bash” edition of our weekly “What Are You Reading” feature, where the Robot 6 crew talks about what books we’ve read recently. Usually we invite a special guest to share what they’ve been reading, but since today isn’t just an ordinary day for us, we thought we’d invite a whole bunch of special guests to help us out — our friends and colleagues from Comic Book Resources, Spinoff and Comics Should Be Good!

To see what everyone has been reading, click below …

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Grumpy Old Fan | The singularities of Earth-Two

Infinity, Inc. #1

Infinity, Inc. #1

This business about both Bruce and Dick being Batman (or “Batmen,” I guess) got me thinking about Earth-Two.

At the risk of being remedial — and some of you may want to skip to the next paragraph — Earth-Two was the home of DC’s original-formula superheroes, whose adventures took place roughly in real time. Superman first appeared in 1938, Batman in 1939, Robin in 1940, Wonder Woman in 1941, etc. It was the Justice Society’s Earth, where the Jay Garrick Flash had been around since 1940 before being “discovered” by Barry Allen decades later. Because the Golden Agers had all pretty much gone into semi-retirement, they had time to get married and raise kids. These children then became superheroes themselves. Earth-Two was retired itself in Crisis On Infinite Earths, but DC’s current Multiverse has its own Earth-2 (note the subtle change to numerals) which is very similar to the old one in most respects.

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