INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
Legal | Jonathon M. Wall, who pleaded guilty April 5 to a charge of impersonating a federal agent last fall in an attempt to get into the VIP room at Salt Lake Comic Con, has a new defense team — after the judge in the case threw out his plea and offered to help him find new counsel. U.S. District Judge Jill Parrish vacated Wall’s plea, saying she was concerned Wall didn’t understand the full implications of having a federal felony on his record. Wall had told her he was pleading guilty because prosecutors offered him a “slap on the wrist” if he did so. An employee at Hill Air Force Base, Wall showed his work ID convention security but claimed to be a federal agent who needed access to the VIP area because he was pursuing a fugitive. In addition to helping Wall find a new lawyer, Parrish recommended he be transferred to a newly established diversion program. [Standard Examiner]
Legal | Rico J. Vendetti of Rochester, New York, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Wednesday for planning a 10 home-invasion robbery that led to the death of 78-year-old comic book collector Homer Marciniak. According to prosecutors, Vendetti had been running eBay scams for years, selling merchandise shoplifted by others, and planned to do the same with Marciniak’s $30,000 collection of comics, which dated back to the 1930s. During the home invasion, the robbers hit Marciniak, threatened him and tied him up; he died shortly afterward. Vendetti pleaded guilty to a federal racketeering charge. Co-defendant Donald Griffin, who admitted hitting Marciniak, was also sentenced to 20 years in prison this week. [Buffalo News]
Manga | Viz Media announced it has licensed three Naruto novels, three novels based on the manga series Tokyo Ghoul, and the Gangsta manga spinoff Gangsta.: Cursed. Two of the Naruto novels, Naruto: Itachi’s Story – Daylight and Naruto: Itachi’s Story – Midnight, are prequels to the main series, and they are being adapted into anime in Japan under the title Naruto Shippūden: Itachi Shinden-hen: Hikari to Yami (Naruto Shippūden: The True Legend of Itachi Volume ~Light and Darkness~). Shin Towasa’s Tokyo Ghoul novels, Tokyo Ghoul: Days, Tokyo Ghoul: Void, and Tokyo Ghoul: Past, follow the characters at different times not covered in the manga. Gangsta.: Cursed is the story of Marco Adriano, one of the characters in the main Gangsta manga. [Anime News Network]
Legal | Despite a joint appeal from Spider-Man and The Joker, New York City Council passed legislation Thursday to allow the Department of Transportation to regulate public plazas and place new restrictions on the costumed characters who now roam Times Square. The move comes in response to repeated complaints, and some arrests, involving fights between the characters and the solicitation of tips from tourists. Keith Albahae attended last week’s City Council meeting dressed as The Joker, and Abdelamine Elkhezzani was there as Spider-Man, to tell their side of the story. “I agree with The Joker, even though he’s a villain and I’m a superhero,” Elkhezzani said. “We’re there to entertain people, we put a big smile on people’s faces and we work on tips. This has opened up a lot of opportunities for people to support their families.” Last year, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called on Disney and Marvel to crack down on unlicensed costumed characters, but to no avail. [CNN, The New York Times]
Fandom | Al Sanders started collecting comics when he was in grade school, at one point selling plasma to support his hobby. . Over the years he amassed a collection of 5,000 comics, all from 1990 or earlier, including such popular titles as Batman and X-Men. But all good things must come to an end, and with his daughter Rose heading to college next year, Sanders has decided it’s time to sell his collection. He’s heading this weekend to Emerald City Comicon, where he hopes to turn the comics into cold cash. He’s not being totally mercenary about this, however: “I just hope someone can enjoy them, as much as me.” The report indicates Sanders believes his collection is in mint condition; he may discover otherwise once he talks to dealers at the convention. [12 News]
Legal | The trial of two Iowa men accused of plotting an armed attack in August the Pokemon World Championships has been delayed until November. Kevin Norton, 18, and James Stumbo, 27, have been in custody since their Aug. 22 arrest outside Boston on charges of possession of a large-capacity weapon and other crimes. Prosecutors say the two, who allegedly made multiple online threats against the event, drove from Iowa to Boston with guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in their car. Their trial was originally set for May 9. [Ames Tribune]
Passings | Longtime comic artist Ken Barr has passed away at age 83. Born in Scotland, Barr his start drawing covers in the 1950s for the science fiction magazine Nebula, moving on to covers and posters for Star Wars, Star Trek, and the first 14 issues of the British comic Commando. Barr moved to the United States in 1968 and began drawing covers for comics published by Warren (Creepy, Vampirella, Doc Savage, Planet of the Apes). He was a penciler, inker and writer for a number of DC’s war comics under editor Joe Kubert, and he drew the first Losers story in Our Fighting Forces. He also worked on some of Marvel’s black-and-white comics, and continued to create book covers and trading cards until his retirement in 1987. [Down the Tubes]
Exhibits | The media got a first glimpse Wednesday in London of the “Impossible Collection (DC Chapter),” which features more than 1,000 DC classics, including the first appearances of Superman (Action Comics #1) and Batman (Detective Comics #27). It will go on a worldwide tour later this year. The collection is the property of Ayman Hariri, the son of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, and it didn’t take him very long to amass it: He stared collecting after his father was assassinated in 2005, inspired by a drawing his father had done of Superman. [Reuters, The Upcoming]
In what’s become a somewhat-regular occurrence once again, a student has been suspended from an Ohio middle school after a teacher found a Death Note-inspired notebook.
The Newark Advocate reports police responded March 14 to Lakewood Middle School in Hebron, Ohio, following the discovery of a booklet labeled “Death List” that contained the names of several students. Once the student who made the notebook was identified, she allegedly told officials the notebook was based on the anime series Death Note.
Legal | Political cartoonist Ted Rall has sued the Los Angeles Times, claiming the newspaper defamed him and unfairly fired him from his position as a freelance cartoonist. In May 2015, Rall wrote a blog post for new newspaper’s website about being mistreated, handcuffed and “roughed up” by Los Angeles police when he was stopped in 2001 for jaywalking. Two months later, the L.A. Times published a column that cast doubt on Rall’s account, and announced it would no longer carry his work. Rall protested and later claimed that an audiotape of the incident supported his side of the story, although the paper found otherwise. In the lawsuit, filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Rall claims the Times defamed him by questioning his veracity. The paper’s response: “The Times will defend itself vigorously against Mr. Rall’s claims.” [Los Angeles Times]
Passings | Irving Fine, cousin of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and founder of the Siegel and Shuster Society, passed away March 11 at his home in suburban Cleveland. He was 87. Fine, whose late brother introduced Siegel to Joe Shuster in the 1930s, made preserving and promoting Superman’s ties to Cleveland a priority: During his tenure as co-chairman of the Siegel and Shuster Society, Ohio introduced a Superman-themed license plate, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport installed a Superman Welcome Center, and Siegel’s childhood home was restored. Michael Sangiacomo notes that Fine also played a key role in the plans for a monument to Superman and his creators, set to be unveiled in 2018 near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]
Crime | A sheepish would-be robber walked away empty-handed Monday afternoon after attempting to hold up a Little Rock, Arkansas, comic store for Magic: The Gathering Cards. “I hate to do this, but I have a gun, and I want a box of Magic cards for my son’s birthday,” the man allegedly told a clerk at The Comic Book Shop. However, when the employee offered him a pack of the cards, he reportedly declined and left, saying, “Don’t call police.” The suspect remains at large, although police have distributed an image of him taken from a security camera. [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette]
The U.S. Supreme Court this morning declined to review a ruling that the Batmobile isn’t merely an automobile, but rather distinctive enough to warrant copyright protection.
Mark Towle, who previously created unlicensed replicas of the 1966 and 1989 Batmobiles, petitioned the high court in January to consider his five-year-old dispute with DC Comics. The company had sued Towle in 2011, claiming his Gotham Garage violated its trademarks and copyrights by manufacturing the replicas, which he sold for about $90,000 each.
Legal | It looks as if the end is in sight in the trademark dispute between Comic-Con International and Salt Lake Comic Con over the use of the term “comic con.” The organizers of Comic-Con International in San Diego claim legal ownership of the term “Comic Con” and sued the producers of the Salt Lake City even in 2014 for trademark infringement. Although settlement talks have broken down before, attorneys for both sides say they’ve resolved many of their disagreements, and have asked a federal judge to give them until March 1 to work out the finer points of a deal. [The Associated Press]
Creators | Writing for New York Magazine’s Vulture blog, Abraham Reisman takes a warts-and-all look at the career and legacy of Stan Lee in a lengthy article article alternately titled “It’s Stan Lee’s Universe” and “Why is Stan Lee’s Legacy in Question?” Peppered with quotes from the likes of Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Mark Evanier, Colleen Doran, Paul Levitz and Mark Waid, it’s a deep dive into Lee’s history, touching upon everything from his disputes with one-time collaborators Jack Kirby and Steve Dikto to his more recent output to the state of his company POW! Entertainment, which by most indications is struggling. [Vulture]