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The Fifth Color | Wrestling with Marvel

my face when I learned CM Punk would be writing for Marvel Comics

My face when I learned CM Punk will be writing for Marvel

It’s a wonderful thing when two things you love seem to love each other as well.

When I read that former wrestling superstar and current Walking Dead enthusiast CM Punk is contributing a story for February 2015’s Thor annual, I enjoyed a small moment of having my cake and eating it too. Forgive my indulgence, but trust me, comics and wrestling sort of sit together on the school bus of storytellling; although they’re different mediums entirely, they share some common traits and interests that let one sort of lean into the other from time to time.

If you think about it, pro wrestling (or sports entertainment if you want to be more direct ) and comic books share a style of visual storytelling that starts in very broad strokes and becomes a masterpiece through the details and context of their respective works. Both deal in good and “bad”; whereas comics has its heroes and villains, wrestling has its faces and heels. Both heels and villains tend to do a lot of the heavy lifting, story-wise, as it’s their antagonism that creates the context and drives the plot. It’s why when Captain America and Iron Man fight, they’re never doing it for the competition; one of them will be in the wrong, enabling the reader to root for or against someone. When the Undertaker fights Hulk Hogan, no matter how cool the Undertaker is (and he’s so cool), Hulk Hogan is our hero, often our champion, so we hope he defeats the “bad guy.”

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Jake Parker brings extra Groot to ‘Rocket Raccoon #5′

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[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

Note: This post contains potential spoilers for Rocket Raccoon #5

Rocket Raccoon is one of several comics coming out of Marvel right now where they’ve paired the perfect creator — in this case Skottie Young — with the perfect character, and just let them go wild. (See also: Kaare Andrews on Iron Fist). So when you hear that an issue is going to have a fill-in artist, you have to wonder what kind of effect that’s going to have, if it’s really going to work or not. It all just depends on who they choose, right?

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Comics A.M. | Gaiman, McCloud & Smith on Banned Books Week

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman

Banned Books Week | Michael Cavna talks with Jeff Smith, Scott McCloud and Neil Gaiman about the importance of Banned Books Week. Says Gaiman, “I get tired of when people say that no books are banned just because [you can get it elsewhere]. Say you’re a kid in a school district [that banned a book] and there’s not a local Barnes & Noble and you don’t have 20 or 50 bucks in disposable income … That book is gone. It was there and now it’s not. The fact you can buy it on Amazon doesn’t make that any less bad.” [Comic Riffs]

Banned Books Week | Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, discusses comics and censorship in a video interview. [Reason Magazine]

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‘I don’t measure peoples’ lives. I save them.’

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[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

Note: This post contains spoilers for Avengers #34.

The last couple weeks have been, to put it mildly, kind of crappy. Not just on a macro level — and there’s certainly been enough on the macro level to designate the last two weeks as crappy, as you can see on this handy chart courtesy of the excellent The System webcomic. But also on a personal level. Ferguson. My cat dying. Robin Williams. Ebola. Crap at work. Ugh.

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Alonso apologizes for mixed messages of Manara’s Spider-Woman cover

spider-woman-manara[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

I was pleased to see Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso acknowledge concerns over the variant cover by Milo Manara for Spider-Woman #1, and even go so far as to explicitly apologize for the mixed message the cover caused.

“We always listen to fans’ concerns so we can do better by them,” Alonso stated to CBR for Friday’s installment of the weekly Axel-in-Charge interview column. “We want everyone — the widest breadth of fans — to feel welcome to read Spider-Woman. We apologize — I apologize — for the mixed messaging that this variant caused.”

He went on to note that it is not the official cover for the series, and is equally not as representative of the title as a pet variant by Skottie Young might be. That’s a fair point. However, I would argue that there is a difference between a Milo Manara variant and any other random variant. That cover exists within the context of the title character of the comic and the historical depiction of women in comics, if not media in general, juxtaposed with a cartoonist known for erotica being commissioned to provide material for a comic with a T+ rating (13 and above).

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Ambitious ‘Hawkeye #19′ broadens horizons with fulfilling story

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[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]

I think by now we can all agree that diversity in comics is a great thing. Not only does it welcome in people who might feel ostracized by convention and provide a positive reflection of themselves in the pages of a comic, but it teaches readers and challenges us to go beyond comfort zones and understand the world around us.

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Comics A.M. | Rare copy of ‘The Beano’ #1 goes up for auction

The Beano #1

The Beano #1

Auctions | A rare copy of The Beano #1 from July 1938 — only about 25 copies are believed to exist — is being auctioned on eBay by Seaford, England, dealer Phil Shrimpton. With just four days remaining, the opening bid of £3,499 (about $5,875 U.S.) has yet to be met. As you can see on the website, the copy certainly isn’t in the best shape. The issue, which sold a reported 442,963 copies when it was released, introduced such characters as original cover star Big Eggo the ostrich, Lord Snooty, Wee Peem and Ping the Elastic Man (the racist caricature in the magazine’s logo is Little Peanut, who stuck around on the cover until 1947, when he was replaced by Big Eggo). “Every year or so another one seems to emerge – often found in someone’s attic,” Shrimpton says. “People didn’t really look at comics as collector’s items until the sixties and seventies, so lots of them got destroyed. Also a lot of the comics were destroyed during the war as people were more conscious about recycling the old issues.” [The Argus]

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The Fifth Color | Bang for your buck

Deadpool #27

that’s .04 per character on the cover!

How are new comics priced? I ask this mostly as a rhetorical exercise; I’m sure there is a process to decide how much new titles cost that involves sacrificial chickens and a large dart board, because it seems absolutely unfathomable to me some days. The average comic is either $2.99 or $3.99, and I’m always a little thrown off by which books get to be what price. There’s a certain amount of prestige to the $3.99 books, but I couldn’t tell you why. All I know is that I’m really glad Hawkeye is $2.99, and no one wants to jinx that by overthinking the cost process.

I also know that a more reliable indicator of cost is size; the bigger the comic, the more money they want for it, and that’s fair. More pages, more work, more money; it’s not that difficult a sell. More pages also mean a special occasion as they don’t bust out the 80-page giants for just anything. Larger comics are for a special occasion, even if that special occasion is just an annual that only happens once a year. They celebrate things, like anniversaries, milestone numbering or big story events. Say, a wedding…

That bad segue leads to the shocking event that three books this week totaled up, cost around $20 in the United States, around the price of a trade paperback. But just for three comics: Daredevil #1.50, All-New X-Men #25 and Deadpool #27. Were they worth it? Read on and find out.

WARNING: Mild spoilers ahead for Daredevil #1.50, All-New X-Men #25, and Deadpool #27; I’ll try to leave out any juicy bits, but I will talk about what the books are about. You have been warned.

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The Fifth Color | The new image of old Marvel

silversurfer_basicIconic comic characters mostly rely on their looks. This isn’t as shallow as it seems, as comics are inherently a visual medium. It’s why Cable’s creation tends to be attributed to Rob Liefeld rather than Louise Simonson. The best characters have timeless looks, the kind of visual appeal that will work no matter when you’re introduced to him. It’s one of the reasons Spider-Man keeps coming back to the classic red-and-blue costume; he can have a bunch of different costumes, but there’s only one real one.

Two characters who are just as iconic in appearance are Silver Surfer and Ghost Rider. Here in California, there’s barely a beach bum out on the waves that doesn’t know the shiny silver visage of the Silver Surfer. Bikers and tough guys near and far love the Ghost Rider’s signature skull. And yet, for all their visual popularity, I’d be hard pressed to find someone who knows exactly who these characters are. Norrin Radd isn’t a household name, after all. Defining Ghost Rider’s powers gets a little tricky for the average Joe once you move past “His skull is on fire.” There’s just a lot of detail missing from the public perception of who these characters are, but they still remain popular.

Trust me, we all know what it looks like when the characters don’t work, so what do what is it that’s essential for them to make it?

WARNING: We talk vaguely about the new Silver Surfer #1 and All-New Ghost Rider #1, but nothing major is spoiled.  Still, grab a copy and read along!

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‘Ms. Marvel’ rockets to the #1 slot on Marvel’s digital sales chart

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It looks like Marvel’s emphasis on reaching a female audience may be paying off for Ms. Marvel.

The first issue of the teenaged superhero’s series debuted last Wednesday to a chorus of critical acclaim, just one day after Marvel editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso spoke with The Washington Post about the publisher’s enhanced focus on female characters and creators — along with Ms. Marvel, new series have been launched (or will be launched) featuring female heroes Black Widow, She-Hulk, Captain Marvel and Elektra; under the “All-New Marvel NOW!” initiative. “While we don’t have any market research, the eyes don’t lie,” Alonso said in his interview. “If you go to conventions and comic book stores, more and more female readers are emerging. They are starved for content and looking for content they can relate to.”

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Marvel extends international reach with Global Comics app

photoWhether you’re looking to read Amazing Spider-Man in Korean or Avengers in Hindi, it just got a whole lot easier to purchase translated versions of Marvel Comics: The publisher released the “Marvel Global Comics” app on Thursday, a partnership (described as a “multi-year agreement”) with iVerse offering digital versions of some of their most popular stories in 12 different languages: Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Given the popularity of Marvel’s characters worldwide — last year’s Iron Man 3 made $806.4 million in foreign box office, The Avengers even more — it’s not surprising to see the company try to increase their international appeal on the publishing front.

“Marvel has incredible fans all around the world, and we’re excited to bring digital comics to their mobile devices in their native languages,” Marvel’s Kristin Vincent, vice president of digital products, said in a statement. “This partnership with iVerse allows us to introduce Marvel’s rich history of action-packed stories to new audiences worldwide who want to know more about the Avengers, Spider-Man, Wolverine and the rest of the vast Marvel Universe.”

The deal further raises iVerse’s profile in the digital comics arena; the digital distributor has previously partnered with publishers including Top Cow, Viz, Archie Comics and Lion Forge. “We are lifelong fans of Marvel — their characters and their content,” iVerse CEO Michael Murphey said in Marvel’s press release. “It’s truly an honor to be able to partner with them to bring this spectacular content to the world on as many platforms as possible.”

Among the initial series available on the app are major events like Civil War, House of MInfinity Gauntlet and Fear Itself; plus issues of ongoing series like New Avengers and Invincible Iron Man. The app is currently only available on Apple iOS devices, but Marvel’s says additional platforms are “tentatively scheduled” for later this year. The app is free and available now.

Schiti shares more ‘Mighty Avengers’ sketches

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During ROBOT 6’s Fifth Anniversary celebration, Mighty Avengers #6 artist Valerio Schiti kindly shared a sneak peak of his upcoming work, which hits stands on Feb. 5. We also posted more of his sketches on our Tumblr page.

Those sketches (as well as the art pages from the initial post) resonated with readers so strongly that Schiti was more than pleased to share additional sketches of Blue Marvel, Falcon (including a variant “classic” costume sketch) and Luke Cage that he had prepared.

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Alex Ross illustrates new ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ #1 variant cover

Bd9Bv1ZCcAAJ16y.jpg_largeYes, Amazing Spider-Man will return with a new #1 in April, as first leaked online a week ago and then confirmed by Marvel this past Sunday. One of comics’ most famous series making a semi-long-awaited comeback certainly seems like an opportune time for one of Alex Ross’s 12 75th anniversary variants scheduled for release from Marvel this year, and it looks like the publisher agrees. Ross’s Amazing Spider-Man #1 variant cover is also the cover of this month’s Previews, as revealed Monday on Twitter.

The first cover in Ross’s anniversary series is for Avengers #25, on sale next week. Ross also illustrated a variant for March’s Daredevil #1, another relaunched volume of a Marvel series birthed in the Silver Age.

While Ross’s Amazing Spider-Man cover pays tribute to the past, don’t expect the interior of the comic to be retro: “If we woke up in a world where J. Jonah Jameson was in the Bugle, and Peter Parker was taking pictures for a living, and Aunt May was in the hospital, I would shoot myself,” series writer Dan Slott told CBR in an interview on the new series. “It’s the ongoing story of Peter Parker, Spider-Man. His life moves forward.”

Update: A look at the cover sans text, courtesy of Marvel, below.

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Gail Simone working on ‘first Marvel story in TEN YEARS’

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Before writing titles like Birds of Prey, Secret Six and Batgirl for DC Comics, Gail Simone had a brief tenure at Marvel, working on Deadpool, the Deadpool-spinoff Agent X and the kid-friendly Gus Beezer one-shots. It’s been more than 10 years since those titles first saw print, but now she’s headed back to the House of Ideas to work on a new Deadpool story for the big wedding issue.

“Am I Excited? To be writing my first Marvel story in TEN YEARS?” she sad on her Tumblr. “Yes, I am!”

If you frequent her Tumblr, you know she talks fondly of Deadpool and the Agent X characters whenever she’s asked about them, so it isn’t surprising to see her once again writing the now-engaged character. Will her story perhaps involve some of the Agent X cast, like Taskmaster, Outlaw or the title character himself? I guess we’ll find out in April.

In addition to Simone and, of course, series regulars Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn, Deadpool #27 will also feature stories written by Fabian Nicieza, Mark Waid, Joe Kelly, Christopher Priest, Jimmy Palmiotti, Frank Tieri, Daniel Way and Victor Gischler, with art by Mike Hawthorne, Scott Koblish and “many more.” Check out the solicitation information below.

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The Grumpy Color | Carla and Tom take apart 2013, Part 2

legodcmarvel_pinterestToday, Carla and Tom continue to muse through all the news the Big Two have brought us in 2013. See can read the first installment here.

Tom Bondurant: The Marvel Cinematic Universe (Avengers division) is now five and a half years old, and consists currently of eight movies, a handful of shorts, and a half-season of TV.

Carla Hoffman: Holy cats, we work fast!

Tom: However, it’s about to get a lot bigger, adding two movies next year, plus the four Netflix series (and the Defenders movie coming out of those). Clearly this looks like a long-term commitment — but how long can it go?

Carla: Ask me after Ant-Man. That’s going to be the hardest movie to sell to non-comic fans. If that turns out to be a surprise hit enough for Ant-Man (whichever alias he may be) to turn up in an Avengers movie, then I can’t think of a property that wouldn’t work on the silver screen as long as the right creative team is at work.

TB: See, I think Ant-Man just got a lot easier to sell, because now it’s “Paul Rudd joins the Avengers.”

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