The Moment "Batman" Fans Have Waited For Has Finally Arrived
Concluding this week, DC Comics’ Convergence put the big in “big event”: There were 89 individual comic books – a nine-issue weekly miniseries and 40 two-part miniseries – created by more than 75 writers and pencilers, plus a comparable legion of inkers, colorists and letterers.
Because of the sheer size, it’s difficult to review the event in its entirety, so I’m not going to bother picking it part here. The main series wasn’t particularly good, while the 40 tie-in series varied from terrible to excellent, with most of them falling somewhere in between.
In case you’ve watched this leviathan of a superhero event passing by without reading much – or any – of it, I thought it would be worthwhile to point out some of those excellent books, the ones that you should read if you decide to pick up any of Convergence, regardless of your interest in, or affection for, particular characters.
Largely overlooked in the hustle and bustle of New York Comic Con was Disney Press’ official announcement of Space Mountain, a 176-page graphic novel based on the theme-park attraction. News of the project was surfaced in August.
Written by Bryan Q. Miller and illustrated by Kelley Jones and Hi-Fi Design, the book will be released May 6 under the Disney Comics umbrella. Disney Press also released a two-page preview and promotional poster for Space Mountain. Here’s the synopsis:
The year is 2125 and the Magellan Science Academy has given two lucky cadets ‘golden tickets’ to join a team of space explorers on a special field trip to journey 24 hours into the future. But when their mission goes unexpectedly wrong, the two kids must band together with a miniature flying saucer sidekick to save themselves and their crew — and return to Space Mountain — before time runs out and the universe is destroyed!
The first book in a planned trilogy, Space Mountain will be followed by Return to Space Mountain (2015) and Battle for Space Mountain (2016).
The Forever Evil and “Gothtopia” crossovers don’t exactly dominate DC Comics’ January solicitations, but compared to the more mundane goings-on in the other series, they tend to stand out. For that matter, Forever Evil doesn’t sound like it’s promising much more than a lot of clenched jaws, dark humor and grim spectacle.
Still, if it has to happen sometime, it might as well be in January. I don’t mind January so much; it’s the darkest month of the year, but after a hectic holiday season it’s a chance to catch one’s breath. Going back to work after New Year’s Day and realizing there’s not much more to do but look forward to spring is like waking up at the crack of dawn and surveying a wide, flat, featureless plain — gray from the winter cold and just barely lit by the first rays of the distant sun — and realizing that if you’re going to make it across that plain, you’d better start walking.
Sometimes you just have to get through January, is what I’m saying — but sometimes getting through it isn’t so bad.
Whew! How was that for an intro? Weren’t we talking about comics?
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Made even more interesting in light of the looming announcement at the D23 Expo, Bleeding Cool discovers that the Disney Press will publish an original graphic novel in May based on the popular theme-park attraction Space Mountain.
The site characterizes the 176-page hardcover as “Disney Comics’ first original graphic novel,” but given the nebulousness of “Disney Comics” and the scope of Disney Publishing Worldwide, that would seem like a difficult distinction to make.
Written by Bryan Q. Miller (Smallville, Batgirl) and illustrated by Kelley Jones (Batman, The Sandman), Space Mountain: A Graphic Novel carries the following description in its Amazon.com listing: “The year is 2125 and the Magellan Science Academy has given two lucky cadets “golden tickets” to join a team of space explorers on a special field trip to journey 24 hours into the future. But when their mission goes unexpectedly wrong, the two kids must band together with a miniature flying saucer sidekick to save themselves and their crew–and return to Space Mountain–before time runs out and the universe is destroyed!”
Opening in 1975 at Walt Disney World, Space Mountain is the oldest operating roller coaster in Florida. The indoor ride is now part of all five Magic Kingdom-style parks.
According to Bleeding Cool, the graphic novel is planned as the first book in a trilogy.
IDW Publishing announced today it will turn its lasers on the literary masterpieces this summer in Mars Attacks: Classics Obliterated!, a 48-page one-shot in which the alien invaders target the likes of Moby Dick, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde and Robinson Crusoe.
The publisher asks, “What would it be like if frothing invaders had been holding Melville, Stevenson, and Defoe at gunpoint, forcing them to reimagine their renowned works through the bloodshot eyes of a crazed, skull-faced Martian?” We’ll find out with the help of Phil Hester, Beau Smith and Neil Kleid, and artists John McCrea, Kelley Jones and Carlos Valenzuela.
Mars Attacks: Classics Obliterated!, which sports a variant cover by Earl Norem, arrives in stores June 5.
This week brought the release of the latest round of “Comics-On Tees” by Threadless, the crowdsourcing T-shirt site. Following in the footsteps of John Cassaday, Brandon Graham, Ben Templesmith, Becky Cloonan, Jeff Lemire, Anders Nilsen and many more, the artists this time around include Kelley Jones, Tony Moore, Chet Zar and Menton3.
The theme this time, provided by Steve Niles, is “Bad Night at the Precinct,” and each shirt features a different monster’s mug shot. Check’em all out after the jump.
Artist Stephen Downey (Torchwood) has declared March 1 “Creator-Owned Day,” and to celebrate, Steve Niles is offering free downloads of a story from his and Kelley Jones’ Cal McDonald: Detective Tales, Volume 1. The hope is that if you like it, you’ll buy the whole thing. That sounds like a very good idea to me.
There is a fundamental tension between the horror and superhero genres. Clearly the two aren’t incompatible, but in the stories which blend them, often one genre will dominate. At the risk of gross oversimplification, there’s no guarantee of a horror story having a happy ending; whereas superhero stories are generally about saving the day. Put another way, superheroes generally stop monsters.
Such was the case with 1991’s graphic novel Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, in which the Lord of Vampires comes to Gotham City. Red Rain was written by longtime Bat-scribe Doug Moench, boasted the distinctively eerie pencils of Kelley Jones, and polished off its sinister, downbeat mood through Malcolm Jones III’s inks, Les Dorscheid’s colors, and Todd Klein’s letters. SPOILERS FOLLOW … but is not much of a spoiler to note that Batman defeats Dracula, because a) that is what Batman does, and b) Tomb of Dracula notwithstanding, that is how Drac usually winds up. Furthermore, Red Rain was far from the Darknight Detective’s only run-in with more malevolent creatures of the night, because he’d been fighting vampires and werewolves as far back as 1939’s Detective Comics #30.
No, what makes Red Rain and its two sequels different is their overwhelming sense of doom. Red Rain is a superhero horror story which eventually turns Batman’s world inside-out more than any traditional deconstruction ever could.