"X-Men: Apocalypse" - A Comic Book History of Marvel's Four Horsemen
Film, Comic Books
Freedom Factory Studios, which developed Young Justice: Legacy, and UIG Entertainment have unveiled a trailer touting the May release of the official Kick-Ass 2 video game for PC and consoles. That will likely come as a surprise to some, as the game was originally set to debut in November, but instead now will arrive about nine months after the premiere of the film, based on the comics by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.
The passage of time hasn’t produced any more details about the game, which is still described by UIG simply as “a classic beat-‘em-up featuring brutal finishing moves and animations straight from the movie and comic book.” Players control Kick-Ass as he faces his arch-nemesis The Motherfucker.
I listen to a lot of podcasts because I don’t sleep very well, and if they’re especially enrapturing or I just can’t drift off, their topics float around with me through the day. How Did This Get Made did the former when it discussed the movie A Winter’s Tale and the idea of magical realism.
Magic realism is “a genre where magic elements are a natural part in an otherwise mundane, realistic environment” (thanks, Wikipedia!), a concept we’re accustomed to as comic readers. There’s a lot that goes unsaid about New York City’s alien-invasion rate, and we’re fine with that.
Marvel is big on making its universe “our universe,” and while DC Comics keeps its distance with completely fictional cities like Metropolis and Gotham, Marvel is proud to have its heroes interact with New York City. While audiences (or at least the marketing departments) clamor for more “gritty” reboots and realism in their comic movies, do remember that Gotham was threatened by mass hysteria in Batman Begins and a giant nuke in The Dark Knight Rises. We crave dark grit but still want those fantastic elements that challenge the hero and raise the stakes.
So is it reality we crave or is it something else?
Although the timing is a little odd, considering the film was released in August, Freedom Factory and UIG Entertainment have announced the November release of the official Kick-Ass 2 video game for PC and consoles.
There are few details in the brief press release beyond that it’s “a classic beat-‘em-up featuring brutal finishing moves and animations straight from the movie and comic-book” (however, there are some screenshots and character designs, which you can see below). Gamers can play as many of the main characters from the film, including Kick-Ass and Hit Girl, as they face off against The Motherfucker.
More details will follow, presumably.
Retailing | Following a price war during which it lost $11,000 a day, Overstock.com has vowed to match Amazon’s price on books, including graphic novels, going forward. Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne thinks he can get better prices from publishers who want to boost competition for Amazon. However, as ICv2 points out, Overstock’s graphic novel selection is smaller than Amazon’s, and prices overall have risen since their recent price war. [ICv2]
Creators | Todd McFarlane recently claimed no work that was “trying to get across a message” has succeeded as a comic, but Laura Sneddon finds proof to the contrary at the Stripped festival in Edinburgh, where she talked to Joe Sacco, Paul Cornell, Stephen Collins and Grant Morrison about the ideas that drive their comics. [New Statesman]
Conventions | Wizard World Chicago Comic Con kicks into full gear today in Rosemont, Illinois. Special guests for the four-day event range from creators like Stan Lee, Chris Claremont, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo to such television and movie personalities as Zachary Quinto, Norman Reedus, Summer Glau and the cast of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. [Daily Herald]
Retailing | Retailer Brian Hibbs breaks down what’s problematic about DC Comics’ announcement that it will allocate its “Villains Month” 3D covers, which essentially means to publisher won’t completely fill all the orders. Instead, the company has added a 2D variant to make up the difference: “You have to understand, as well, that a lot of folks weren’t at all happy about the idea of a line of $3.99 covers, and there was a certain amount of ‘talking people into’ signing up for them. So, to find out just three weeks before shipping that there’s suddenly going to be a version of these comics without the stunts, for $1 less, well this is migraine inducing, at best.” [Savage Critics]
Duncan Fegredo has been known to post all kinds of process art on Twitter while he’s been working on various Hellboy projects: thumbnails, layouts, sketches, pencils, inks, gray washes (and sometimes he compiles them at Storify). Knowing that he’s a serial documentarian of every stage of an image, I asked if there were any previous stages to his variant cover for Kick-Ass 3 #2. This cover is the first fruits of Fegredo’s partnership with Mark Millar, as they gear up to creating their new series MPH for Image Comics. Of course, Fegredo answered my question with a virtual folder full of art, showing just how much work the artist (and his editor, and his colorist) put into producing one iconic image.
Fegredo: “Amidst much ongoing talk of MPH, Mark asked if I could turn around a Kick-Ass 3 variant by the end of what was already a short week. This was whilst I was finishing the last few Hellboy: The Midnight Circus pages, so not the best timing! The brief could not have been briefer, “It should feature Kick Ass!” was pretty much it. So here’s my initial and only sketch, Kick-Ass playing with action figures of himself and a bad guy. Kick-Ass literally playing with himself if I need make it any plainer!”
Creators | Ahead of the premiere of Kick-Ass 2, Abraham Reisman profiles Mark Millar, with an emphasis on his subversion of the genre — and the new prominence he’s about to achieve with the films based on his comics: “By decade’s end, he’ll have had more of his creations translated into movie form than any comics writer other than Stan Lee.” The piece also includes criticism of his work, with Colin Smith observing, ““Millar does indeed have a history of producing work which represents less powerful groups in an insensitive, and often deeply insensitive, manner. There are massive contradictions between his words and actions as a private citizen and the apparent politics of some of his books.”[The New Republic]
Conventions | Matt Arado looks forward to this coming weekend’s Wizard World Chicago Comic Con (it’s actually in Rosemont) with some creator interviews and a look at the way the con has evolved over the years. [Daily Herald]
Are you getting excited? New teasers and trailers are being released almost every day now. The countdown to Summer Movie Season is officially on, and the big blockbusters adapting comics are looking promising. Iron Man 3 has an armada of armors flying around; can’t really go wrong there. The Wolverine has ninjas as far as the eye can see. And the bearded and brooding Man of Steel might even end up being good. Throw in a little Kick-Ass 2 and RED 2, sprinkle with R.I.P.D. and 300: Rise of an Empire, and top it off with 2 Guns, and you’ve got yourself one fun summer.
While we still get clunkers, the ratio of good to suck has definitely improved. It used to be that the old chestnut response to a movie adapted from a novel could be more often than not applied to movies adapted from comics: The book was better. And it’s often still true. But there are times when the movies do it better than comics, and while that’s great for the filmmakers and audiences, in a way it’s an indictment on the comics-makers.
Comics offer more boundless creativity than almost any medium. With comics, there’s no studio executive, no creation-by-committee made up of shareholders and board members with less experience creating and telling stories than their companies’ interns. It’s why Tony Stark being an alcoholic doesn’t fly with Disney and was removed from Iron Man 3. Comics can still include collaboration and compromise but they can just as easily be the result of a single voice. Even with the most heavy-handed editorially mandated comics, they’re still created by a fraction of people needed to make a Hollywood movie. Comics are generally more spontaneous, imaginative and clever than most major studio movies. But sometimes, Hollywood gets the jump on comics.
Hit-Girl, apparently, is a hit. The first issue of the miniseries starring the supporting character from Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s Kick-Ass has sold out its first printing, which according to Millar was over 70,000 copies.
“Pre-orders for Hit-Girl #1 were over 70,000 copies, and we’ve completely sold out of first printing, the Noto variant and the limited edition white variant in 36 hrs.,” Millar said on his MillarWorld site. “Marvel cleverly had an emergency second printing on stand-by and only 1700 copies of this left. So a third printing has not been ordered.
“… This is outselling even Kick-Ass and reaction has been amazing. Johnny and I very chuffed.”
Millar followed that post up with another saying that the second printing was sold out. “Third printing on the way, people,” he said.
Those numbers are especially impressive since Hit-Girl #1 was apparently left off of Diamond’s initial retailer’s order form.
The Hit-Girl miniseries takes place between Kick-Ass volumes 1 and 2 as the title character, a.k.a. Mindy McCready, tries to settle into life as a regular school-girl. According to the solicitation text, “Her mother and step-father think she’s doing her homework, but in reality she’s taken Kick-Ass on as her sidekick and training him up to punch, shoot and stab” … and apparently sell a bunch of comics.
Ed Brubaker, John Romita Jr. and The Walking Dead were among the winners of the sixth annual Scream Awards, presented last night in Los Angeles. The ceremony will air Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Spike TV.
The awards, which honor the best in science fiction, fantasy and horror films, television shows and comic books, were voted on by fans from a list of nominees selected by an advisory committee that included Neil Gaiman, Tim Burton, Damon Lindelof, George A. Romero and Wes Craven.
The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard, was named Best Comic Book or Graphic Novel, Ed Brubaker as Best Comic Book Writer and John Romita Jr. as Best Comic book Artist.
In addition to the comics-specific categories, awards went to adaptations X-Men: First Class for Best Fantasy Movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World for Best Comic Book Movie and Best Fight Scene, and The Dark Knight Rises for Most Anticipated Scream. Chris Evans also won Best Superhero for his turn as Captain America, and Hugh Jackman for Best Cameo in X-Men: First Class.
Here’s the complete list of winners:
Creators | Some military personnel are upset that comics legend Stan Lee received the Honorable Order of St. Barbara award in July during the week of Comic-Con International, as the award is “traditionally reserved for career cannon cockers in the Army and Marine Corps who have made their mark on the field artillery or air defense communities.” While the award credited Lee, who served stateside in the Army during World War II, with writing “several training manuals and films for the artillery and all other branches of the service,” the co-creator of the Fantastic Four and other Marvel properties said he didn’t recall ever doing so. A spokesman for Maj. Gen. David Halverson, commander of the Army Field Artillery Center at Fort Sill, Okla., who signed off on the award, said it “was given to a former soldier and WWII veteran whose contributions, both in the Army and beyond, are in keeping with and representative of all the high standards of achievement and selfless service associated with the Honorary Order of Saint Barbara.” Lee actually missed receiving the award, as at the ceremony he also received an Army Certificate of Achievement and left before the second award could be given. [Air Force Times]
Atomic Comics, the nationally known Arizona retail chain, abruptly closed all four locations on Sunday, shocking staff, customers and industry figures alike. Although the closing of the stores in Mesa, Phoenix, Chandler and Paradise Valley was initially announced last night by multiple employees and creators, owner Michael Malve confirmed the news this morning in an installment of his weekly newsletter titled “My Final Report.”
“As some of you may have already heard, after 25 years of running a successful business, sadly and much to my dismay, I have shut the doors of Atomic Comics,” Malve wrote. “The villain in this tragedy is the economy. I had hoped to be the superhero and triumph over the recession, but sadly the economic downturn of the past 5 years has proven to be unsustainable.”
In the newsletter, which can be read below, Malve revealed he’s filed for bankruptcy, and that he and his family are losing their home, ” as we had secured it against our leases which we obviously have to break.”
“I know there are many people out there facing very similar situations in these difficult times and now I can definitely empathize with them,” he continued. “I have always been and will forever be an extremely optimistic person and will look at this situation as an adventure. I have very high hopes for the next chapter of my life.”
As artist It’s always fun to see a dramatic new take on an existing character or concept. Some are official like the upcoming X-Men: First Class movie, or in-comics revamps like DC’s Blue Beetle or Marvel’s upcoming “Age of X” series. But with the freedom of the internet, any artist can get into the fray and crank off an off-the-wall take on their favorite character. You might have seem what Dean Trippe and I encourage over at ProjectRooftop.com, but this next batch of art is something entirely more extreme.
Over the last few months a ragtag group of illustrators, concept artists and 3d modelers have been doing some sketchjams with unique takes on different characters that have riled up the internet. From their “badass” Pixar characters to their brilliant revamp of two Nintendo stalwarts, this group has really let out their inner fanboys meet their outer art professionals. And now they’re taking on Marvel’s X-Men with… the Astonishing A$$holes.
Jorge Lacera explains, “our basic idea is taking the X-men and really fulfiling on the promise of teenage, punk, angsty super powered drama.”
In recent years, we’ve seen a boatload of comic books and graphic novels make their way to the silver screen, from “big two” stalwarts like Spider-Man and Batman to independent titles like Scott Pilgrim and 30 Days Of Night. Among the various adaptations, though, some creators have emerged as magnets for Hollywood types — one creator who seems to love it more than anyone else is Mark Millar.
After bouncing around the UK comics scene and later DC, Mark Millar made a name for himself for his big-picture epics on The Authority and The Ultimates. Working with artists like Frank Quitely and Bryan Hitch, Millar borrowed some of the wide-screen cinema techniques of film to display comic stories in a new light. From very early on, movie-makers have been cribbing notes from his comics; X-Men: The Last Stand screenwriter Zak Penn said Millar’s work was influencing his own. He was even brought in to act as an informal brain trust to give advice to Jon Favreau during the production of the first Iron Man film.
After seeing glimpses and glimmers of Millar’s influence on company-owned comics-turned-films, it was when Hollywood took notice of his creator-owned work that his bibliography became catnip for movie producers. After back-to-back successes with feature film adaptations of his comics Wanted and Kick-Ass, virtually every creator-owned comic from Mark Millar comes with the question, “How soon will there be a movie announcement?” This attention from movie producers has even led Millar to begin filming his own original movie, which is currently underway.
The question today is this: Of the creator-owned work Mark Millar’s done that haven’t become films yet, which should, and how should they look?
“Fun fact! NINE of the TOP TEN graphic novels in 2010 were creator-owned books! Walking Dead, Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim among them.”
–Savage Dragon cartoonist Erik Larsen, speaking the truth. Of course, the flip side of this is that NINE of the TOP TEN graphic novels in 2010 had major Hollywood properties to thank for much of their notoriety, Walking Dead, Kick-Ass, and Scott Pilgrim among them. (The tenth was a Superman book that got over with mass audiences largely on the strength of a fortuitous press comparison to Twilight.) I don’t mean to short-change the success of Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard, Mark Millar, John Romita Jr., and Bryan Lee O’Malley, but proponents of creator ownership and creators’ rights probably ought not break out the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner just yet.