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NYCC | A roundup of news from Saturday

The Last of Us

While I was enjoying my time at APE up in San Francisco, the New York Comic Con was raging on with announcements and such. Before I get into a rundown of the comic-related news coming out of the East Coast today, let’s jump back to yesterday real quick so I can update one of the items from my Friday round-up. I mentioned that Dark Horse would publish a comic based on the upcoming video game The Last of Us, but I didn’t know at the time the most important part — the always awesome Faith Erin Hicks is co-writing AND drawing the comic. That’s a “Stop the presses” moment if I’ve ever seen one.

Ok, now on to Saturday …

• Apparently space is the place at NYCC … following DC’s announcement of Threshold yesterday, Marvel officially announced the return of two of their cosmic titles — Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova. Guardians, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Steve McNiven, comes out in February and apparently will feature Iron Man, or at least someone in his armor. Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness are the creative team for Nova, which features Sam Alexander, the Nova from Avengers vs. X-Men.

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Bryan Lee O’Malley covers Young Avengers #1

As if confirmation that Phonogram collaborators Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie are reteaming for the Marvel NOW! launch of Young Avengers (followed by CBR’s exclusive first look) weren’t enough cause for celebration, Marvel has provided Newsarama with variant cover for the debut issue by none other than Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley.

“I basically dance like Loki from that young avenger cover, btw,” Gillen offered on Twitter.

The series, which premieres in January, features a lineup that mixes a little of the old with a little of the new: Hulkling, Wiccan, Hawkeye (Kate Bishop), Marvel Boy, Miss America and that dancing machine Loki — at least for starters.

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The Middle Ground #123 | Being bad

I feel like I’m being a bad fan by not being too upset by the news that the third series of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s Phonogram is going to be delayed until sometime in 2013. Originally quasi-announced in February for a November release, “life happened” as Gillen put it, and now it’s been pushed to an unclear point next year.

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Comics A.M. | Marvel sues Jerusalem store over Spider-Man yarmulkes

Spider-Kippah

Legal | Marvel has sued a Jerusalem retailer for $25,000, claiming the well-known Kippa Man store is infringing on its trademarks by selling unlicensed yarmulkes bearing Spider-Man’s likeness. “A reasonable consumer could be fooled into thinking that the infringing product is manufactured and/or sold by the plaintiff with the knowledge and/or approval of the defendant,” Marvel said in its complaint. Kippa Man owner Avi Binyamin notes the yarmulkes are manufactured in China, and that he only sells them. “There are 20 stores on this street, they all sell the same thing,” he told The Jerusalem Post, theorizing that he’s being targeted because his store is well known. The Times of Israel characterized the lawsuit as “the first move by Marvel against what it perceives as widespread copyright infringement in Israel, where products featuring its copyrighted superheros are commonly sold.” [The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel]

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Comics A.M. | This weekend, it’s Stan Lee’s Comikaze

Stan Lee's Comickaze

Conventions | Coming up this weekend: Stan Lee’s Comikaze in Los Angeles, featuring special guests Todd McFarlane, Neal Adams and Marv Wolfman. Attendance is expected to reach 60,000, which is a pretty big number for such a convention that’s only in its second year. [Hero Complex]

Conventions | James Sime, owner of Isotope Comics and one of the organizers of MorrisonCon, talks about, well, Isotope Comics and MorrisonCon, and what it was like translating the world of writer Grant Morrison into a comics event: “The *promise* of MorrisonCon is this crazy, life-altering weekend where you’re plugged directly into this swirling world of brilliant ideas, offbeat interests, mad obsessions, and personalities who fire Grant’s creativity. We had to make that promise real, to translate as many improbable concepts and even random off the cuff Morrison riffs as possible into the tangible world. To render all that into nightclubs and hotel rooms and meeting space chairs and places for awesome humans to meet and mingle. We all agreed, it just wasn’t worth doing unless we could live up to that promise, to truly make something worthy of the name MorrisonCon… and go far beyond it.” [Three If By Space]

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Comics A.M. | Batman dominates August bookstore sales

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Retailing | DC Comics dominated bookstore graphic novel sales in August, probably because of the release of The Dark Knight Rises and a “buy two, get one free” sale on DC graphic novels at Barnes & Noble. Six of the Top 10 titles are Batman comics, with The Walking Dead, Watchmen, Avatar: The Last Airbender and Naruto each taking a slot as well. [ICv2]

Creators | Judge Dredd writer John Wagner talks about the origins of his character, the importance of U.K. publisher DC Thomson, and his dislike of digital comics. [The Daily Record]

Creators | Nick Spencer guests on Kieron Gillen’s podcast to discuss Morning Glories. [Kieron Gillen's Workblog]

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Post-AvX, is Marvel quietly renovating its Architects line-up?

Marvel made a lot of hay over the introduction of its five key writers, the Architects, in 2010. “The very fabric of the Marvel Universe is changing and the Architects are the ones leading the charge.” the publisher said in its initial press release. But now, with its event series Avengers Vs. X-Men winding down and Marvel NOW! taking shape for the fall, those original Architects look to be in the middle of a renovation.

Marvel’s chief writer for the past few years, Brian Michael Bendis, is going from three key titles (Avengers, New Avengers, Avengers Assemble) to one (All-New X-Men); Matt Fraction is ending his long-term commitments on Iron Man and Thor to work on the Baxter Building with Fantastic Four and FF (along with Hawkeye); Jonathan Hickman is passing off all of his titles to take on Bendis’ Avengers and New Avengers load; and Jason Aaron has shuffled off Wolverine and The Incredible Hulk for just two titles in the Marvel NOW! era (at least, only ones announced), Wolverine & The X-Men and Thor: God of Thunder. Marvel stalwart Ed Brubaker, who revitalized Captain America, has whittled Marvel Universe workload to one book (Winter Soldier) that doesn’t seem to be a centerpiece of the company’s publishing plans.

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Comics A.M. | Dark Horse to renumber B.P.R.D. with Issue 100

B.P.R.D. #100

Publishing | Dark Horse editor Scott Allie explains the publisher’s plan to start numbering B.P.R.D. sequentially, starting with #100, rather than as “an ongoing series of miniseries”: “The reason to make the change was in part how many times [San Francisco retailer and industry pundit] Brian Hibbs told me, ‘Well, really B.P.R.D. is an ongoing…’ And he’s right. Another part of the reason is that as we’ve moved into doing more short stories — two- or three-issue stories — we get those new issue #1′s too often. You do new #1′s to give readers jumping on points, but when they’re coming so quickly it becomes more confusing than anything else. Depending on how retailers rack, you could have two or three B.P.R.D. #1′s on the shelf at a time, and it’s hard for readers or retailer to know what to read next. So while I know it will cause a little confusion to suddenly have #100 out there, a few months down the road it’ll make everything simpler.” [Comics Alliance]

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Food or Comics? | Saga or saganaki

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Saga #1

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15 this week, I’d rush to the store as quickly as possible to ensure that I’d be able to get a copy of Saga #1 (Image Comics, $2.99) before it completely sells out. It’s been far, far too long since Brian K. Vaughan has been doing comics, and Fiona Staples is one of those artists who just continually gets better even after starting pretty damn impressively in the first place. It’s not the only must-read launch this week, either; I’m also very excited about Saucer Country #1 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99), Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly’s mash-up of The West Wing, The X-Files and – judging by this first issue, which I’ve had a sneak peek at – The Invisibles, which pretty much ensures I’ll be on board for awhile. There’s also Marvel’s Avengers Assemble #1 ($3.99), which I’m… curious about more than excited for, in large part because I’ve already seen Bendis’ take on the team for the last few years, so this feels more like “More of That Thing You’ve Already Read!” than “First Issue of A New Series!” but… well, it might be better than I’m expecting, who knows?

If I had $30, I’d think about putting Avengers back on the shelf before picking up Journey Into Mystery: Fear Itself Fallout Premiere HC (Marvel, $19.99), the second collection of Kieron Gillen’s remarkably great Thor spin-off. I’ve only recently caught up with the first collection, and loved it, so I’m looking forward to more of the same with this one.

There’s really only one choice to splurge on this week for me: The Womanthology: Heroic hardcover (IDW, $50.00). Not only do I have friends with work in the book, but I was pretty much signed up for this one as soon as I heard about it online. I love well-done anthologies, and I’m ready for this to be one of the best I’ve read in a long time.

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Image Expo | Grant Morrison, new Phonogram and much more [Updated]

Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl

The first Image Expo kicked off Friday in Oakland, California, with a keynote speech from Publisher Eric Stephenson that emphasized creator relationships as the company’s foundation, and laid out more than a half-dozen titles that will be announced this weekend for release later this year:

Happy!, by Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson, a mysterious title the writer says is “in a genre I’ve never really tackled before — but with a bizarre twist, of course.” It’s the first of several potential Image projects from Morrison. [iFanboy]

• Confirmation of a third volume of Phonogram, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson, called The Immaterial Girl. Gillen says the six-issue miniseries, which will likely debut in November, is “primarily about the war between coven queen witch Emily Aster and the half of her personality she sold to whatever lies on the other side of the screen. It’s about identity, eighties music videos and further explorations of Phonogram’s core ‘Music = Magic’ thesis. There is horror. There are jokes. There are emotions. There may even be a fight sequence. It also takes A-ha’s ‘Take On Me’ with far too much seriousness – which, for us, is the correct amount of seriousness.” [Kieron Gillen's Workblog]

Chin Music, by Steve Niles and Tony Harris, described by the artist as “a 1930′s Noir, Gangster, horror story.” [Tony Harris]

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‘One More Time’: Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie reunite

They’re getting the band back together. That’s the story hinted at with this teaser image (at right) that debuted this morning on iFanboy. Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson came into the public eye in 2007 with Phonogram from Image, and over the course of two limited series rose from their U.K. indie-comics roots to be notable figures in the comic scene. The comic also paved the way for all three to become in-demand creators at Marvel.

This mysterious teaser promising “One More Time” — that’s also the title of a 2000 Daft Punk song — doesn’t indicate whether that’s the name of a series or merely a tagline for something else. Many presume this heralds a third Phonogram series, especially since this weekend’s Image Expo is expected to have a host of new series announcements … but I’m not so sure. In a 2010 interview with ComicsAlliance, Gillen shot down the idea of a third Phonogram series pretty soundly due to low sales of the previous volumes.

“I feel frustrated. Enormously lucky, sure, but frustrated,” the writer admitted. “We’ve done this wonderful thing we’re crazy-proud about. But if the whole economic system was just a couple of degrees to the left, everything would have been different. I mean, just to give you an idea about narrow the margins are between what we are and what we could be, if we were selling 6K instead of 4K, we could have done those 44 issues. The difference between breaking even and actually being able to do it in comics is insane. It’s like being kept under ice, clawing. I feel like a bonsai plant.”

Have things changed since spring 2010 that could make a Phonogram project feasible? The comics market as a whole hasn’t gotten any better, but with Gillen entrenched as the writer of Uncanny X-Men and McKelvie coming off his X-Men: Season One book, they’re both at the height of their still-young careers. Maybe their experience and added sales draw makes them believe numbers would be different. Or maybe it’s something besides Phonogram completely.

Food or Comics? | Prophet profiteroles

Prophet #21

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Graeme McMillan

If I had $15 this week, I’d avoid Marvel and DC altogether and go for some more independent offerings. Top of the pile would definitely be Prophet #21 (Image, $2.99), Brandon Graham’s much-anticipated revamp of the Rob Liefeld book from the mid-90s, recreated (with artist Simon Roy) as some kind of Heavy Metal fever dream; I’m a massive fan of Graham’s, and excited to see what he can come up with when he tries to play it (relatively) straight. I’d also grab Dynamite’s Kirby Genesis: Dragonbane #1 ($3.99), another spin-off from the Busiek/Ross/Herbert series this time focusing on the almost Thor-analog warrior, and IDW’s Memorial #2 ($3.99), continuing the urban fantasy series that I enjoyed so much last month. Lastly, I’d grab the cheap relaunch for Antony Johnston’s Wasteland (#33, Oni, $1.00); I’ve really enjoyed this post-apocalyptic world building book for awhile, but this relaunch – which will return the book to a monthly schedule as well as debut new artist Justin Greenwood – looks set to be a good jumping-on point for those who’ve never sampled its charms before.

If I had $30, I’d be likely to put Dragonbane back on the shelf and try out Marvel’s Fear Itself: Journey Into Mystery Premiere HC collection ($19.99) instead. Not having been a fan of Matt Fraction’s Thor, I skipped the first few issues of this and then, by the time I kept hearing great things and realized I actually really enjoy Kieron Gillen’s writing, it was far enough into the run that I knew I’d end up waiting for the collection. Color me cautiously optimistic.

When it comes to splurging, my love of comics from around when I was born rears its ugly head again, and I find myself drawn to Marvel Firsts: 1970s Vol. 1 TP (Marvel, $29.99). This is possibly my favorite era from the House of Ideas, so the idea of an anthology of some of its weirdest hits sounds right up my alley.

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Gillen’s X-Men as a modern-day Authority?

In the wake of X-Men: Schism, Marvel’s mutants are split down the middle and heading in two divergent directions. While Wolverine’s team is following in the footsteps of Xavier’s original plans for the X-Men, the Cyclops-led team based in Utopia is on a different track. Dubbed his “Extinction Team,” the primary purpose of the team is to stand between mankind (not just mutantkind) and threats that would render them extinct.  It sounds like a unique kind of mission for the X-Men, but an interesting question on writer Kieron Gillen’s Formspring reframes it in a familiar way.

Gillen was asked: “The x-men seem a lot like the old superhero team The Authority lately. is that intentional?”

“The Authority are certainly one of the big influences on [Uncanny X-Men],” answers Gillen. ” The Extinction Team are certainly the closest the MU has ever had to something that occupies the niche the Authority dominated in the Wildstorm U.”

While saying that most modern super-hero comics were inspired by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch’s The Authority isn’t too far off-base, seeing this straight correlation by Gillen fires off my fan synapses and helps define a team that, frankly, I was having trouble with even after reading Uncanny X-Men #1. Although I don’t want to see Gillen and crew follow this analogy too closely, it makes me more interested to see where the book goes next.

Also, isn’t it interesting that in the pin-up for Avengers vs. X-Men that it’s Cyclops’s X-Men versus the Avengers pictures? Both Wolverine and Beast seem to be lunging after their former teammates in the X-Men rather than the Avengers, who they currently owe more allegiance to.

Comics A.M. | Alan Moore responds to Frank Miller’s Occupy remarks

Alan Moore

Creators | Watchmen writer Alan Moore responds to recent comments made by The Dark Knight Returns creator Frank Miller: “I think that the Occupy movement is, in one sense, the public saying that they should be the ones to decide who’s too big to fail. It’s a completely justified howl of moral outrage and it seems to be handled in a very intelligent, non-violent way, which is probably another reason why Frank Miller would be less than pleased with it. I’m sure if it had been a bunch of young, sociopathic vigilantes with Batman make-up on their faces, he’d be more in favour of it. We would definitely have to agree to differ on that one.”  [Honest Publishing]

Conventions | Tom Spurgeon files a lengthy report from the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, held Saturday in New York City. [The Comics Reporter]

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Chain Reactions | Uncanny X-Men #1

Uncanny X-Men #1

Uncanny X-Men returned this past Wednesday with a new #1, just two weeks after the previous run ended. Written by Kieron Gillen with art by Carlos Pacheco, Cam Smith and Frank D’Armata, the story revolves around Cyclops and his post-Schism “Extinction Team” of Storm, Hope and a bunch of folks who couldn’t participate in a game of “raise your hand if you’ve never gone through a stage that others characterized as ‘mainly super villain.’” The book features a more serious tone and mission for the team than their back-in-Westchester friends appearing in Wolverine and the X-Men, as well as the villainy of Mr. Sinister and cameos by most of the other “Team Cyclops” mutant characters who decided to stay on the West Coast.

So what did folks think of this issue? Here’s a sampling of reviews on Uncanny X-Men #1:

Ron Richards, iFanboy: “Uncanny X-Men #1 is everything that Wolverine & The X-Men #1 was not, and I mean that in absolutely good way.  Where Aaron delivered a whimsical, comedic at times, fresh new start for Wolverine and the mutants at the new school in Westchester, Gillen’s representation in Uncanny X-Men #1 is a serious, more adult world that these mutants live in. And that’s exactly how it should be.”

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