SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
Welcome to Best of 7, our new weekly wrap-up post here at Robot 6. Each Sunday we’ll talk about, as it says above, “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out on Wednesday.
So without further ado, let’s get to it …
Kieron Gillen had to remind me to be angry. I read through my comics stash for the week, feeling very proud of myself and then went on about my day, wondering what I was going to be writing for you, Dear Reader (hi, Mom!). Then I browse through Twitter to see this posted by the writer: “You know, after yesterday with Iron Man 17 and YA11, I’d have expected my @s to be worse, but people are being really nice. Thanks!”
Being really nice? Why shouldn’t they? What should I be mad at?! Nothing happened that was all that shocking in Young Avengers, as long as you know who Loki is and that Loki: Agent of Asgard is debuting in February, so it’s just putting two and two together. That couldn’t be the reason for torches and pitchforks. Then I remembered Iron Man #17 and still felt no need to reach for my oil-soaked rags and farming tools. There’s a twist to be sure, and a fairly large change to Tony Stark’s tried and true origin, but is the cover right? Is this really “The shocking conclusion that will change the world of Iron Man forever”?
Not exactly. Read on and find out why!
WARNING: Oh yeah, big spoilers for the current run on Iron Man! Huge, massive spoilers. Click no further if you haven’t read Iron Man #17! But if you have (or simply love spoilers), please do read on!
I’m terribly fond of Joe Gordon, editor of the Forbidden Planet International blog. Last night he posted this video of himself hosting the Grant Morrison panel at the Edinburgh Book Festival. Gordon gets more confident as the panel goes on after a shaky start, bless him; Morrison is, as ever, tremendous value: He breaks down the plots of many of his upcoming projects, including much-anticipated projects as The Trial of Diana Prince, Seaguy Eternal, Multiversity, the hook of the Flash story he keeps mentioning, and the joys of pitching superheroes to Warner Bros.
Preview Night doesn’t begin for another 11 hours, but judging from the flurry of announcements, Comic-Con International has been well under way since, oh, about Monday. So, if it feels like you’re already falling behind, that’s because you probably are.
To help you catch up, we’ve rounded up early news from DC Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Madefire and Marvel, along with a few other convention-related items.
• Dynamite Entertainment came out of the gate running this week with news that Steve Niles and Dennis Calero will reboot Army of Darkness, James Robinson will launch his crime romance Grand Passion, the Legends of Red Sonja miniseries will team Gail Simone with an all-female creative team that includes Marjorie M. Liu, Nancy A. Collins, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Mercedes Lackey, Nicola Scott and Devin Grayson, Peter Milligan will debut his sci-fi action series Terminal Hero, Duane Swiercyznski will expand the publisher’s crime line with Ex-Con, Howard Chaykin will return to The Shadow with the miniseries Midnight in Moscow, NBC’s Heroes will get a “fifth season” in a series written by Cullen Bunn, the acquisition of the Robotech license spawns a Robotech/Voltron crossover, and The Heart of the Beast, the graphic novel by Dean Motter, Judith Dupré and Sean Phillips, will receive a 20th-anniversary prestige-format edition.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the comics, books and whatever else we’ve been checking out lately. Today our guest is Shaun Manning, a former staffer at CBR, occasional convention reporter and comics writer. His current project is a comic called Hell, Nebraska (with artist Anna Wieszczyk), and he’s currently running a Kickstarter to raise funds to publish it. So go check it out.
To see what Shaun and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Events | Heidi MacDonald beats everyone else to the punch and files the definitive report on the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which featured a flurry of graphic novel debuts and appearances by artists as diverse as Taiyo Matsumoto (Tekkonkinkreet) and Andrew Hussie (Homestuck). [Publishers Weekly]
Publishing | BOOM! Studios will publish a line of Robocop comics beginning in August. Dynamite Entertainment had the license previously, but company President Nick Barrucci said the rights reverted to the licensor, who granted them to BOOM! [ICv2]
Publishing | Brian Truitt takes a look at Valiant’s lineup for the second summer of its new life, and he talks to the creators about the relaunch and their plans for the future. [USA Today]
To see what James and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click below …
Digital comics | Although the Marvel Unlimited and DC Comics apps work very differently, Noel Murray has similar complaints about both: Specific titles are difficult to find, and the damn things keep crashing: “Frankly, while some of the other major comics apps have better search functions — Dark Horse’s, for example — none of the big companies have created the digital comics retailing equivalent of an Amazon or iTunes.” [Hero Complex]
Publishing | Drawn & Quarterly has announced its fall lineup, which includes Peter Bagge’s biography Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story. [Drawn & Quarterly]
Welcome to the very last Food or Comics. Next week our new-release picks will take a different format, but this week we’re still talking about what comics we’d buy at our local shop 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 a splurge item.
Let’s be honest, if I had $15, I’d make sure that Batman Incorporated #8 (DC Comics, $2.99) was first on my list. Not because of any controversy — I’ve been enjoying the series all along — but because I’d be worried it’d sell out if I waited. I’d also grab two Dynamite books: Jennifer Blood #23 and Masks #4 (both $3.99); Al Ewing has done just insane, amazing things on the former, and the Chris Roberson/Dennis Calero team on the latter is just killing it.
If I had $30, I’d find myself time traveling to all the weeks prior in which I didn’t use all $30 to borrow a dollar from past-me, just so that I could get Showcase Presents Justice League of America, Vol. 6 (DC Comics, $19.99), which takes the series firmly into the 1970s and brings the team face to face with villains including the Shaggy Man, Amazo and countless other favorites of my childhood.
Should I have some splurging left in me after that nostalgia-fest, I’d likely go for the Judge Anderson: PSI Files, Vol. 3 collection (Rebellion, $32.99), which picks the series up just after I’d dropped off the 2000AD radar for awhile, and hopefully gives me the chance to get back into the character, now that I am firmly into Thrill Power again.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. We’ve each picked the five comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a list of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.
As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
Crater XV HC (Top Shelf, $19.95): I’ve been following (and loving) the serialization of Kevin Cannon’s follow-up to Far Arden in the digital pages of Double Barrel, but I know that I’ll be picking up this hardcover collection of the further adventures of sea dog Rusty Shanks nonetheless. The Canadian space program deserves no less.
In The Days of the Mob HC (DC Comics, $39.99): To say that Kirby’s 1970s take on the organized-crime world of the 1930s is something I’ve been longing to read since I first discovered its existence would be an understatement, so I’m definitely looking forward to this deluxe reprint, complete with material that wasn’t in the original edition.
Indigo Prime: Anthropocalypse TP (Rebellion/2000AD, $24.99): John Smith’s cosmic authorities are one of comics’ most secret treasures, I think, especially when he’s paired with an artist like Edmund Bagwell, who brings a wonderful Euro-Kirby influence to the stories in this collection. Really looking forward to this one.
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen GN (First Second, $17.99): As a sucker for good autobiographical comics and also good food writing, the idea of Lucy Knisley creating a food-centric memoir — complete with recipes! — is far too good to ignore. I love that publishers like First Second are publishing work like this.
Solo Deluxe Edition HC (DC Comics, $49.99): Even though I own most of these issues from their original appearance, the oversized hardcover format is waaaay too tempting when you consider some of the material this book has up its 500+ page sleeve: Paul Pope covering Kirby! Brendan McCarthy channeling Ditko as only he could! The amazing Darwyn Cooke issue! The only thing that could make this better would be if it included work completed on follow-up issues before the plug had been pulled … But maybe that can appear in a second volume, one day…
With Young Avengers #1 on stands for the better part of a week now, writer Kieron Gillen has rolled out a “director’s commentary” of sorts that provides an entertaining and insightful peek behind the scenes of the Marvel series.
For instance, Gillen explains things like his goals for certain scenes, and how artist Jamie McKelvie had to redraw Hulkling’s tentacles, “because they originally looked like big ol’ cocks.” But perhaps most interesting are the defenses he lays out for a couple of criticisms of the issue — one I’d seen pop up online, the other I hadn’t.
The latter is Loki’s use of the portmanteau (it qualifies, yeah?) “terribad” during his confrontation with Miss America. “It’s funny. I got away with the Phone Booth but some people tripped over Terribad, when it’s absolutely IC [in character] for Loki in his mix of bad internet gibberish and old norse,” Gillen writes. “I suspect that’s people who’ve never read any of Kid Loki before. C’est la vie.”
However, it’s his explanation of the double-page title spread following the opening sequence, below, that proves the most engaging (don’t worry, it didn’t eat into the number of story pages).
“It serves a purpose here bar triumphalism,” Gillen writes. “It’s a cold hard break between the opening and the rest of the story – a hard re-set. Lauren did ask about the justification for this seemingly non-related intro, and I explained it to her as a PULP FICTION opening. […] Essentially, it goes quiet-conversation in the style of the film setting mood, exploding into shouted sweary gun-wielding violence, freeze-frame and hard cut to the black screen with the titles and that Dick Dale Guitar. We don’t come back to the young robbers until way into the film, but it doesn’t matter- its initial purpose is that it explains Pulp Fiction in miniature, right there. And then we go to a much slower paced section which builds, etc. You know what the film is from then on in. That’s what the opening was for. The rest of the book is relatively grounded, but in the opening I give a concentrated portrait of the whole vision. This is what we do.”
In November I decided to use myself as a case study for the first issue of one of the series debuting as part of Marvel NOW!, the publisher’s concentrated, unified effort to sell its comics to a wider audience, which presumably meant luring in lapsed and new readers. That first issue I read was Fantastic Four #1 by Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley; I didn’t much care for it.
This week I picked up Young Avengers #1 by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Mike Norton, giving it the same treatment. (Between the two, I also tried Fraction and Mike and Laura Allred’s FF #1 and loved it, but didn’t write about it in this manner because … well, I don’t remember why. Here’s what I said about the first issue the week it was released, though). Ready?
My background: I read the first dozen 2005-2006 Young Avengers comics by creators Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung, but gradually lost interest in the characters at about the same rate Heinberg did. Over the years I’ve read various Young Avengers-related comics, most of which Marvel seemed to be producing to fill the demand for Young Avengers comics while waiting for Heinberg to write more: Young Avengers Presents, Civil War: Young Avengers and Runaways, Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers. But when he finally did return, I didn’t.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop 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 a splurge item.
If I had $15 this week, it’d be all first issues, all the time. Being a Trek fan, I couldn’t resist IDW’s Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #1 ($3.99), offering some glimpses into the new movie for the first time outside of the trailer, for one thing. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Young Avengers #1 (Marvel, $2.99) looks to be equally unmissable judging from both the previews and interviews heralding its launch, and also Gillen’s performance on Iron Man and other titles recently, so that’d make it in there, too. Finally, I’d grab The Answer #1 (Dark Horse, $3.99), Dennis Hopeless and Mike Norton’s new superhero/mystery series. I’ve been back and forth about Hopeless in the past (loved his X-Men: Season One; hate his Avengers Arena), but the hook for this one looks pretty solid and Norton’s work is always nice to gaze at.
Should I suddenly find myself with an additional $15, I’d add some current favorites to the pile: Chris Roberson and Dennis Calero’s pulp dystopia Masks #3 (Dynamite, $3.99), Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opena’s Avengers #3 (Marvel, $3.99, and less a “favorite” than an “undecided about, but was surprised by how much I appreciated that second issue”) and Greg Rucka and Matt Southworth’s Stumptown #5 (Oni, $3.99). After the fourth issue of Stumptown, I’d pick that last one up even if Rucka had accidentally forgotten to write any dialogue in there. Did you see that last issue? Man …
Were I to splurge, it’d almost feel greedy after this week of bounty. Nonetheless, I’d grab The Spider, Vol. 1: Terror of The Zombie Queen (Dynamite, $19.99), the collected edition of the first storyline from David Liss’ revival of the pulp hero that I loved based on the first issue but somehow fell off of before the end of that first arc for reasons that escape me. Definitely curious to revisit it.
“The main characters are Wiccan and Hulkling, a young gay couple who have inspired a lot of love and a lot of NSFW Tumblr art. There’s also Kid Loki from my last book, Miss America and a female Hawkeye. Plus there’s Noh-Varr, who’s sort of an alien hipster. The way some kids are obsessed with Japan, he’s obsessed with Earth. David Bowie was the primary influence on Noh-Varr, specifically The Man Who Fell to Earth, a splash of Ziggy and a lot of lithe sexuality. Now Bowie’s back too. On any scale I care about, Bowie is a superhero.”
– writer Kieron Gillen, explaining Marvel’s new Young Avengers to readers of The Guardian
While many artists have trouble working on one comic at a time, Ryan Kelly is currently doing six. In a post about his projects for the coming year, Kelly runs down the list:
Concerning that last one: Let the speculating begin! Assuming it’s a superhero comic for DC or Marvel, what do you hope Kelly is working on?