Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
With The Interview proving to be a Christmas miracle for Sony Pictures, artist and movie fan Kevin Maguire has an idea of what roles stars Seth Rogen and James Franco could tackle next: Blue Beetle and Booster Gold. On Twitter, the co-creator of Justice League International pegged the actors to play the comedic duo he’s best known for drawing, saying, “They already have the deepest bromance in movies today.”
But that’s not all.
In the final day of HeroesCon, I was fortunate enough to meet an equal mix of industry legends and new (to me) creators. Also, if you look over the previous photo posts (Day 1, More Day 1, Day 2), you see a trend of some folks giving me the thumbs up. Had I requested the pose, the trend would not be worth noting. But I didn’t; some people just opted to go for the whimsical look, and I love it. My thanks to every creator over the three days who took a moment to pose for a photo (in some cases more than a few times).
For those who have followed DC’s promotion of Justice League 3000, this week’s inaugural issue must arrive with something of an asterisk. Announced in June as the latest reunion of Justice League International’s Keith Giffen (plot and breakdowns), J.M. DeMatteis (script) and Kevin Maguire (pencils), within two months the series became an unflattering example of creative-team chaos. In August, artist Howard Porter replaced Maguire, thereby postponing the series’ October debut. According to Maguire, DC apparently wanted something more dark and gritty, which doesn’t quite fit the style we now know as “bwah-ha-ha” — but by the same token, one wonders (as did Maguire) what DC thought it would get from the trio’s collaboration.
Still, to echo Donald Rumsfeld (and, 15 years earlier and more to the point, my entertainment-journalism professor), you review the comic you have, not the comic you wish you had. The first issue of Justice League 3000 reads like an artifact from the mid-1990s, when DC cranked out dystopian-future Elseworld stories fairly regularly; and Porter’s art is emblematic of the issue’s gritty, scratchy tone. This isn’t JLI. It’s not of a piece with Giffen and DeMatteis’ work writing Booster Gold, or even the current Larfleeze. It’s more like the short-lived, Giffen-written Threshold, crossed with an original-variety Marvel 2099 title.
In short, this first issue isn’t bad, just rather frustrating. I suppose the series has potential, and its creative team probably deserves a couple of issues to advance the plot. Regardless, JL3K #1 starts off negative and teases even more. It doesn’t give readers much optimism, outside of a vague sense that at some point, things can only get better.
SPOILERS FOLLOW, of course.
Oh, DC, you came so close to a slam dunk. If you had told me Keith Giffen, J. Marc DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire would be working on Legion of Super-Heroes, I’d have been beyond excited. After all, Justice League International was nothing if not a superb ensemble comedy, and what richer source of super-ensemble action does DC have than the Legion?
Instead, though, we’re getting Justice League 3000, set in the Legion’s 31st century and apparently following the events of August’s final Legion issue, but not explicitly tied to the 55-year-old super-team. This raises two questions. First, whither the Legion itself? DC has previously put the Legion on hiatus, although never for too long, so one wonders how long it’ll lie dormant this time. Second, why does it have to be such a familiar Justice League? The initial roster includes Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash and Green Lantern, with redesigns (courtesy of Howard Porter) that retain some fairly familiar elements. Is the League being “Avengers-ized,” so that every major super-team must have some “JL” in its name?
And those two questions combine for a third: How sustainable is JL3K, really?
Veteran artist Kevin Maguire, who’s been vocal with his concerns about the Valiant Entertainment revival and the treatment of the original creators, reveals his questions were answered over the weekend at Phoenix Comicon.
“… Had a pleasant chat with Valiant CEO Dinesh Shamdasani who gave me all the information I was looking for vis-a-vis Trinity Angels,” he wrote last night on his Facebook page. “I am now cool with them.”
Following the announcement in March that Valiant planned to relaunch Quantum and Woody, the mid-1990s series by Christopher Priest and Mark Bright, Maguire publicly recounted efforts by the two creators to purchase the rights to the property, and his own attempts to reclaim Trinity Angels, following the 2004 closing of Valiant Comics successor Acclaim Entertainment. The rights to the Valiant Comics library were acquired in 2005 by the current owner, Valiant Entertainment, which began relaunching the original titles in 2012.
“I will announce right now that if they have any intentions of re-vamping Trinity Angels without me, I will be 1000% against it,” Maguire wrote in March. “I should have the rights to the material, just as Priest/Bright should have the rights to Quantum and Woody.”
The new Quantum and Woody, by James Asmus, Tom Fowler and Jordie Bellaire, premieres July 10. In a March interview with CBR, Valiant’s Shamdasani said the company has spoken with Priest and Bright “about a bunch of different projects — most recently one that I’m super-excited about.” “We have a couple things up in the air with Chris, and we’re pulling to circle back and solidify them now that we have the new series up and running in a place we’re happy about.”
I’m totally digging Valiant Entertainment’s comics right now. When I met a couple of the guys from the company at the recent Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, they were extremely friendly and generous, especially considering I showed up at their table as the event was shutting down for the day. I stocked up on their books and have been diving in ever since: X-O Manowar was great fun; I’m halfway through Harbinger, and it’s even better; and I’m really looking forward to Archer & Armstrong, which had a funny and clever first issue I read on comiXology. Fantasy world-building is one of those things comics can really excel in, as evidenced by the Marvel and DC universes, so it’s always exciting when a new one comes along that does it so well.
However, I have some concerns about some things I’ve read. In case you don’t know, these current Valiant titles are relaunched versions of the series published in the ’90s by Valiant Comics. That company was very successful and was eventually bought by the video game company Acclaim Entertainment, which went bankrupt soon after, taking Valiant down with it. A number of years passed until a new company called Valiant Entertainment purchased all of the original properties, and began bringing them back to life. Sounds like a happy ending, and it mostly is — but there are a couple of red flags.
Before I get into all of this, though, it’s important to note that Valiant Entertainment has done nothing legally wrong. I’m not a lawyer, but as far as I know, the company is under no legal obligations to change its actions. That said, there’s a lot of goodwill capital to be gained by doing right by the creators of the original properties.
“We Acclaim creators signed contracts before we started working on our projects that had a clause saying we could buy the rights to the material back for half the profits the material made in the previous 3 years. Several years after Acclaim went under, Priest and Bright tried to get the Q/W rights and were told that the contracts we signed were never submitted to a different division of Acclaim and were thus considered invalid. Someone else came in and bought up all the Valiant/Acclaim leaving us with nothing. I’ve been following what Priest/Bright were doing because I wanted the rights to Trinity Angels back. But the legal fees it would cost to get it back would just be too much for us. I’m pretty sure Priest/Bright are not pleased with the new Q/W, but I don’t know that for a fact. As I said, I know if they went in and re-vamped Trinity Angels, I would be furious. There are only three properties that sprung completely from my imagination — Strikeback, Trinity Angels, and Tanga. I consider them my children and would not abide anyone else giving voice to those characters.”
— Kevin Maguire, creator of the 1997-’98 Acclaim series Trinity Angels, reacting to news that Valiant Entertainment is resurrecting Quantum and Woody, the mid-’90s brainchild of Christopher Priest and Mark Bright. “I will announce right now that if they have any intentions of re-vamping Trinity Angels without me, I will be 1000% against it,” he said. “I should have the rights to the material, just as Priest/Bright should have the rights to Quantum and Woody.”
In an interview today with Comic Book Resources, Valiant CEO and Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani said the company has spoken with Priest and Bright “about a bunch of different projects — most recently one that I’m super-excited about.” “We have a couple things up in the air with Chris, and we’re pulling to circle back and solidify them now that we have the new series up and running in a place we’re happy about.”
I debated about whether to include the current Worlds’ Finest as part of this project. According to the rules I set up for myself, I was only going to cover comics that were named after their female leads. I decided that because Birds of Prey was an all-female team, that would qualify, but for a lot of fans, Worlds’ Finest conjures images of Batman and Superman, not Huntress and Power Girl. Then I looked at the book’s actual logo. Although the official name of the comic is Worlds’ Finest, you can’t tell that by looking at the cover. It looks the way I’ve written it in the title of this post: Huntress/Power Girl: Worlds’ Finest. That qualifies, as far as I’m concerned.
But is it any good?
Worlds’ Finest corrects the biggest problem I had with its predecessor Huntress, also written by Paul Levitz. That miniseries had some fun stuff in it, but my complaint was that it wasn’t really about anything other than Stop That Generic Villain. The Huntress could have been switched out for any other hero without changing the story in a meaningful way. In Worlds’ Finest, Levitz makes the comic about his two heroes. As much as being about fighting bad guys, this is the story of Huntress and Power Girl’s friendship and their attempt to adjust to the new world they’ve landed in. That’s a huge improvement.
As a reflection of that, there’s a lot of banter between the two women. Unfortunately, it’s not up to the standard for that kind of thing set by Gail Simone on Birds of Prey. I’m tempted to let Levitz off the hook for not being able to perfectly replicate what worked about Black Canary and Oracle, but I don’t know if I should. As much as I realize it’s not completely fair, it’s also impossible to read Huntress and Power Girl’s quipping without comparing it to the easy relationship in Simone’s series. Black Canary and Oracle felt like real friends and their conversations felt like a natural part of their relationship. Huntress and Power Girl call each other “BFF” and say things like, “You go, girl.” I appreciate the effort, but even without the Birds of Prey comparison, their dialogue doesn’t feel real.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where each week we detail what comics and other stuff have been on our reading piles. Our special guest today is David Harper, associate editor over at the recently redesigned Multiversity Comics.
To see what David and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
DC Comics released four of the six “New 52 Second Wave” titles this past week, making it hard to choose what to focus on this week … so I figured I wouldn’t. Instead, here are round-ups of reviews for all four titles: Earth 2 #1 by James Robinson, Nicola Scott, Trevor Scott and Alex Sinclair; Dial H #1 by China Miéville, Mateus Santolouco, Tany Horie and Richard Horie; World’s Finest #1 by Paul Levitz, George Pérez, Scott Koblish, Kevin Maguire, Hi-Fi and Rosemary Cheetham; and G.I. Combat #1 by J.T. Krul, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Ariel Olivetti and Dan Panosian.
Keith Callbeck, Comicosity: “The multiverse returns! To fanfare or dread, depending on how you feel about pre-Crisis DC. But this is not your parents’ Earth 2. Completely reimagined by James Robinson, the creator most responsible for bringing the JSA back to the DCU with his series Golden Age, this Earth 2 is a world recovering from war. The story feels like a really good Elseworlds book (which Golden Age was as well) and not a What If…? type tale, though that element exists.The heroes of Earth 2 have existed for much longer than the five years of Earth Prime. When the parademons attack, paralleling the first arc of Johns’ Justice League, it is a much more mature Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman there to battle them.”
For fans of DC’s various Multiverses, this has turned into a big week. Action Comics vol. 2 #9 offers Earth-23, while the new Earth 2 and Worlds’ Finest series center around the latest take on Earth-2.
First, though, a nitpicky note. As usual with DC’s cosmologies, things can get confusing quickly, so here are some helpful definitions. The Infinite Multiverse refers to DC’s classic Multiverse, which saw its last big hurrah in Crisis On Infinite Earths. Worlds of the Infinite Multiverse have their number-tags spelled out, as with Earth-One and Earth-Two. (The Infinite Multiverse also had some letter-tagged worlds.) The 52 Earths refers to the Multiverse revealed in 2006’s 52 #52. Its worlds are tagged only with numerals, as with Earth-2 and Earth-51. There is the Earth One series of graphic novels, with which we are not concerned. Finally, there is the Current Multiverse, which may in fact still be the 52 Earths, and which apparently follows the same naming conventions. I will try hard to avoid getting into a discussion which dwells on these distinctions.
Now then …
These three issues each take different perspectives on the parallel-world concept. Earth 2 #1 lays out the rough recent history of the parallel world and introduces us to its major players. Similarly, all of Action #9 takes place on Earth-23, although it’s part of the background of Grant Morrison’s larger Superman work. Earth-2 in Worlds’ Finest #1 is background as well, since it’s part of the main characters’ shared backstory, but not a place with which they currently interact. Accordingly, I liked each of these introductory issues on their own merits, because I thought each did what it needed to within those particular contexts.
SPOILERS FOLLOW for Earth 2 #1, Worlds’ Finest #1, and Action Comics vol. 2 #9.
Following DC Comics’ announcement at WonderCon of its Retro-Active one-shots bringing together writers and artists from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, the publisher has unveiled the decade-specific logos for the three series.
Debuting in July, each issue of Retro-Active will feature 26 pages of new content plus 20 pages classic stories reprinted from that era, spotlighting such characters as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash and the Justice League of America.
Although DC has yet to announce all of the artists involved, the writers include Dennis O’Neil, Cary Bates, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, William Messner-Loebs, Mike W. Barr, Louise Simonson (with Jon Bogdanove on ’90s Superman), and Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis (with Kevin Maguire on ’90s Justice League).
“The way [DC Comics] put it was, look at your run back when you were doing Justice League International, find a moment there and tell an untold story,” Giffen told Comic Book Resources. “It’s one last blow-out. It’s one last hoorah for the characters.”
Check out the other two Retro-Active logos below.
Welcome to the first Food or Comics? for 2011. Every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on what we call our “Splurge” item.
Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.
Hey, it’s the first week of 2011, and time to get some awesome comics, right? Right? So for my $15, I’ll pick up… Oh. Kind of a slow week, then, huh? Well, there’s always Steel #1 (DC, $2.99), the sure-to-be-controversial one-shot that launches the retro “Reign of Doomsday” crossover, and my love of James Robinson’s Justice League will ensure I pick up the Starman/Congorilla one-shot (DC, $2.99), if only to find out what all those interludes in the middle of the current “Omega” storyline are all about. Curiosity compels me to pick up Image’s Walking Dead Weekly #1 ($2.99), if only to see if it’s pretty much an exact reprint of the original first issue with a different cover, but that remaining $6 may just end up burning a hole in my pocket. Maybe I’ll put it toward my $30 haul…
No new comics in the United States today? Well, that’s ok … because we still have some Shelf Porn for you. Today’s Shelf Porn comes from Graham Apperly, who lives in England and shows us his library of graphic novels and collection of wargame miniatures.
If you’d like to contribute to Shelf Porn, it’s easy — just send your photos and write-up to email@example.com. Also, if you’re decorating for the holidays and using any sort of comic book theme on your tree or around the house, we want to see those too! So take some photos and send them to me.
And now here’s Graham …
A couple of weeks ago Chris Mautner and I listed the six comics that made us cry. You guys responded with more than 160 comments filled with memories of comics that brought you to tears as well. It was very cool and kind of overwhelming to see that many people open up like that, so from both of us, thank you.
One commenter, cinorjer, suggested we name “six comics that made us laugh out loud.” Which we thought was a great idea — thanks, cinorjer! — so wipe away your tears and get ready to exercise your funnybone.
Joining Chris and I this week is Tom Bondurant, who was quick to come back with an example when I asked for suggestions. So let’s make with the ha ha’s and get down to it … and please share your own favorites in the comments section.
1. “What am I s’posed to do with a whole dollar!?”
I laughed aloud at much of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s “Architecture & Mortality” storyline from the recent Tales of the Unexpected miniseries. There were the Primate Patrol’s obvious (but well-executed) Planet of the Apes references; Traci 13’s “paper covers rock” spell; and the part where Infectious Lass says she’ll never know the touch of a man, about which I … Vampire! observes “perhaps if you changed your name….”
However, I particularly liked Dr. 13’s first real meeting with Genius Jones, the smartest little boy in the world. He’ll answer any question for a dime, but he won’t deal with Dr. 13 — because the Doc only has a dollar bill. “What am I s’posed to do with a whole dollar!?” Genius wonders.
“Tell you what — I have ten questions,” Dr. 13 responds.
“Do you have ten dimes?”
Eyes practically bulging out of his glasses, and beads of sweat leaping off his forehead, Dr. 13 spits, “I have a DOLLAR!”
It goes on like that for another few panels, until the head of the Primate Patrol bursts in: “How ’bout I geev you a nickel saun’wich?” And … scene!