Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
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.
Iconic 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!
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.”
Whether 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 M, Infinity 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.
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.
Yes, 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.
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.
Today, 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.”
Every year ROBOT 6 contributors Tom Bondurant and Carla Hoffman get together to talk about everything in Big Two superhero comics. Watch for Part 2 on Thursday.
Carla: Is it me or was 2013 crazy-busy? There were event comics, new titles, canceled titles, movies (plural for Marvel!), TV shows and video games. It seems like there’s no escape from comics, making it harder and harder to get a general idea of the industry. Some days I kind of envy the indie comic fans as it must be a lot easier to handle comics as they come, as opposed to our gestalt juggernaut that is the Big Two. How much DC business could you comfortably follow before overwhelm set in?
Tom: Well, for starters, I pretty much skipped all of the video game and Cartoon Network developments, because I don’t have time for either area.
As part of All-New Marvel NOW!, veteran artist Lee Garbett will team in February with writer Al Ewing for Loki: Agent of Asgard, a series the god of mischief is fully grown and in the service of the All-Mother. More immediately, however, Marvel is setting the stage for the initiative with All-New Marvel NOW! Point One #1, a one-shot that arrives Jan. 8 with a Garbett-drawn Loki serving as the thread that brings together all of the stories.
In my interview with Garbett, the artist clearly relishes the opportunity to draw Asgard’s new “one-man secret service” as well as work with Ewing. ROBOT 6 is also pleased to provide an exclusive page from the upcoming All-New Marvel NOW Point One.
Because this space is normally reserved for DC Comics and its stable of characters, you might think a post on Miracleman goes a little outside the lines. However, Miracleman was based on Captain Marvel, who is a DC character in the same way that Miracleman is now a Marvel character: the wonderful world of intellectual-property rights. That’s just one of several traits the two features share, so today I’ll be comparing and contrasting. I’ll also consider whether Marvel’s upcoming Miracleman revival could affect DC’s latest version.
Miracleman (under its original name of Marvelman, but you knew that already) started out as a way to hold onto British readers of Captain Marvel when the latter closed up shop in the mid-1950s. In that form, the series lasted until 1963. In 1982, writer Alan Moore headed up a revival that started by updating familiar elements, but ended up going off in a decidedly different direction. As reprinted, renamed, and subsequently completed in the United States, Moore’s Miracleman (from Eclipse Comics) filled 16 issues, give or take some reprints, and came out over the course of about four and a half years (cover-dated August 1985 to December 1989). Moore’s artistic collaborators included Garry Leach, Alan Davis, Chuck Austen (under the name Chuck Beckum), Rick Veitch, and John Totleben. From June 1990 to June 1993, Eclipse published eight more issues, written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by Mark Buckingham, and an anthology miniseries (Miracleman Apocrypha) came out from November 1991 to February 1992. For various reasons, though, no new Miracleman has seen the light of day for over twenty years.
That’s all about to change, starting with January’s reprints from Marvel. It remains to be seen whether today’s readers will be interested in 20- to 30-year-old stories from a writer whose popularity isn’t what it once was, and which will apparently be reprinted initially in a somewhat-pricey format. Additionally, Miracleman has turned into much more of an “Alan Moore book,” as opposed to a Captain Marvel parody. Therefore, its return doesn’t strike me as the sort of thing which will automatically generate more interest in Captain Marvel; but their similarities (and even some of their differences) can be instructive.
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In what is sure to be a paper-saving initiative, Marvel Comics will offer copies of its Marvel Previews catalogue on the Marvel Comics Digital App beginning November 6. A digital download of the catalogue will also come bundled with any digital download code in the publisher’s print comics. It will transition to a free download for all users the month its contents are on sale.
Marvel is currently the only publisher to have a catalogue separate from the massive monthly tome of Diamond Previews, the catalogue from which retailers can plan which issues and products they plan to order. Previews contains solicitations for products set to hit in three months, giving retailers and fans an advanced — if somewhat ambiguous — look at what to expect in the coming months. Marvel Previews is available free with purchase of the main Previews catalogue, or for $1.99 by itself.
When the art for Joshua Hale Fialkov and Leonard Kirk’s “Hunger” was released earlier today, the Adi Granov-illustrated covers had a slightly different treatment from what we’ve seen since the publisher’s Marvel NOW! initiative launched. Nestled in the red band at the bottom of the cover is the phrase “Share Your Universe,” positioned directly next to the now-familiar “Bonus Digital Edition” bug.
With Marvel referring to its online Fan Network as “Your Universe” for some time now, and the word “share” is linked to various social networking mediums, the possibility also exists that the publisher is gearing up to launch its own social media network. Of course, the phrase’s proximity to the digital comics logo could give fans the impression that the House of Ideas may be actively encouraging those who buy print copies of their purchases to share the codes with other readers.
When approached by ROBOT 6, Marvel was tightlipped about the new cover addition, simply stating, “As some press noticed in a recent retailer update, Share Your Universe is something important that we’re announcing in July.”
Passings | Silver Age artist Dan Adkins died earlier this month at the age of 76. Adkins, who began with self-published zines before becoming a freelance illustrator, served as Wally Wood’s assistant. As a member of Wood’s studio, he was one of the original artists for T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. Adkins was a prolific penciller and inker for numerous publishers, from DC Comics and Warren Publishing to Harvey Comics and Marvel, notably drawing 132 covers for the latter. He talked in detail about his career, and working with Wood, in this interview with Alter Ego. [News from ME]
Kickstarter | Jeff Yang analyzes why Jonathan Coulton and Greg Pak’s Code Monkey Save World Kickstarter, which started with a single Tweet, was destined for success, and he talks to both creators about how it came to be. [Speakeasy]
Conventions | The Orange County Register previews WonderCon, which returns this weekend to Anaheim, California, and selects some of the highlights from the programming schedule, including panels dedicated to “Batman: The Zero Year,” The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, and Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing. [Orange County Register]
Conventions | The Detroit News runs down the upcoming slate of Michigan conventions dedicated to comics, anime, fantasy/sci-fi, horror and collectibles, ranging from Shuto Con to Kids Read Comics! to Detroit FanFare. [The Detroit News]