INTERVIEW: Gail Simone Guides 'Blockbuster Update' of Red Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah Thoris
The Marvel NOW line-up continues to roll out first issues galore, with this past Wednesday bringing the snappiest-looking relaunch so far–FF #1 by Matt Fraction, Michael Allred, Laura Allred and Clayton Cowles. The sister title to Marvel’s original first family, FF #1 features a hand-picked replacement team that’s needed to fill in for Reed and company for a whole four minutes. What could possibly go wrong?
If you were on the fence about the title, here are a few opinions from around the web to help you decide which way to fall:
Ryan K. Lindsay, Comic Book Resources: “FF #1 looked to be the wildest book of the Marvel NOW! line up: Matt Fraction and Michael Allred on a crazy new science team for the Fantastic Four world. It was one of those books that was either going to be too good to be true or belly flop hard. Unfortunately, this issue doesn’t give much of an indicator either way except to leave worry it’s not off to a dazzling start — not that it feels like it’s started yet.”
Digital comics | I talked to Viz Media Executive Vice President Alvin Lu and the head of Viz Labs, Gagan Singh, about the company’s digital strategy, which includes the recent announcement that their digital magazine Shonen Jump Alpha will publish manga chapters simultaneously with Japan; the idea, Lu explains is to create the same sort of weekly ritual that superhero comics readers have, and to use the digital releases to build a community both online and in the real world. [Good E-Reader]
Creators | Fantastic Four was the first Marvel Universe comic, so it has been around for a while, but writer Matt Fraction is doing his best to keep it fresh: “Anything you can do to run contrary-wise to expectation to keep people guessing and wondering and entertained and surprised, you should do because otherwise people are going to dismiss the book as ‘Been there, read that.'” [USA Today]
Rick Remender has the unenviable task of following Ed Brubaker on Captain America, a book that Brubaker took to new heights during his seven-year run on the character. Based on the review so far, though, it seems that Remender is not only up to the task, he’s taking Cap in a completely different direction, with a different tone and focus that most folks seem to be responding well to. Along with artists John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson, Remender has sent Cap off to Dimension Z, for some “high adventure/science fiction” fun.
“It’s a departure from the standard operating procedure of Captain America, definitely,” said Romita. “We are in a different ballgame here. This is as far away from what I expected for Cap as you can get and I’m really enjoying this.”
Here are a few reviews to let you know how different the ballgame is now, and how well the new team’s doing in their first inning:
Ryan K. Lindsay, Comic Book Resources: “Captain America #1 from Rick Remender and John Romita Jr. with Klaus Janson doesn’t so much walk away from Ed Brubaker’s defining run on the character over the past seven years as it does leap frog it. There was obviously no point in trying to ape Brubaker at his A game, so instead Remender swerves Cap back toward his pulpier roots. This issue begins a strange tale that sees the Sentinel of Liberty fight the Green Skull and get embroiled with Arnim Zola in Dimension Z.”
“The great thing about the Hulk is that, as we saw in the Avengers movie, I don’t care if you’re 300 yards away when he changes. You pee your pants because you know your life is likely over, whether you’re his friend or his enemy. It’s like being in the middle of a lightning storm — you just don’t know. And I never want to lose sight of that sense of danger to the book.”
– Mark Waid, discussing the Green Goliath as a force of nature, and a weapon of mass destruction, in Marvel’s Indestructible Hulk, which debuts today
Marvel has revealed Joe Quesada’s variant cover for The Amazing Spider-Man #700, the final issue of the long-running series, which is ending as part of the Marvel NOW! initiative. The issue features a regular cover by Mr. Garcin, and a second sketch variant by Quesada.
Before the year closes out, fans are in for one of the biggest shocks to hit the life of Peter Parker. Just when you thought all was going well for the World’s Greatest Super Hero, think again. This December, secrets are revealed, but the twists and turns are not done yet! Join Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos, and a cavalcade of talented writers and artists in witnessing Amazing Spider-Man come to a close as we celebrate 50 years of Spider-Man!
The Amazing Spider-Man #700 will be one of only two Marvel comics on sale Dec. 26, which Diamond Comic Distributors as designated as a skip week because of the holiday. The other is Avenging Spider-Man #15.1, by Chris Yost and Paco Medina, which continues what Marvel is billing as “the must-read story.” See the full Quesada cover below.
Digital comics | Technology journalist Andy Ihnatko discusses the significance of DC Comics’ expansion of its digital-comics availability from comiXology and its branded app to the iBooks, Kindle and Nook stores: “Now, all of the company’s titles have a presence in the same bookstore where hundreds of millions of people worldwide buy the rest of their content.” [Chicago Sun-Times]
Conventions | Steve Morris reports in on this past weekend’s Thought Bubble convention, in Leeds, England, which sounds like it was amazing. [The Beat]
Conventions | Meanwhile, on this side of the pond, Young Lee has an account of Durham’s NC Comicon. [Technicianonline.com]
The Marvel NOW! roll out continued this week with three titles–Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley’s Fantastic Four, All-New X-Men by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen, and the subject of today’s Chain Reactions, Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic, Dean White and Joe Sabino.
“It’s darker and grittier and in some ways it’s maybe the closest I’ve gotten to something like Scalped, which is the only real crime book that I’ve ever done,” Aaron told Comic Book Resources about the first issue. “Thor of course has things like gods, flying horses, and crazy new worlds in deep space. I like that we can do a crime story with those trappings. There will also be some horror and, of course, fantasy elements as well, and I think at the end of the day this is a story that stays true to what the character of Thor has always been.”
What was the reaction to their take on Thor? Here are a few reactions from around the ‘net …
Martin Gray, Too Dangerous for a Girl: “You can’t fault writer Jason Aaron for lack of ambition, when his debut on this Marvel Now! relaunch spans the ages and spaceways, and Thor himself shows several sides – warrior, big brother … even detective. There’s plenty of interest in his triptych of tales, as dark drama is leavened with humour. The changes in Thor’s narration as he moves from ebullient youth to god in his prime to elder deity are subtle, yet distinct. And the mood of foreboding is strong.”
As most of you are well aware, Marvel NOW! is Marvel’s new initiative to re-brand and re-freshen its line of superhero comics, which seems to be a sort of undeclared response to DC Comics’ 2011 New 52 relaunch.
Whereas the Distinguished Competition rebooted its continuity as well as giving all its series new No. 1 issues, Marvel’s effort is more akin to the branding enterprise that followed past crossover events (“The Heroic Age,” “Dark Reign,” “The Initiative,” etc), albeit to a far greater extent: In addition to bearing uniform cover design, many of the NOW! books are also being relaunched with new No. 1 issues and getting new creative teams (although many of those teams are simply swapping assignments; for example, the guy who was doing Avengers is now doing an X-Men comic,while a guy who was doing an X-Men comic is now doing an Avengers comic, and so on).
The idea, one imagines, is, as always, to sell more comics — to lure lapsed readers, Marvel-curious readers and (judging by the numbers of variants being published) collectors and speculators to try out some of the new and/or refurbished comics. It worked on me, so I thought it might be interesting (or at least something to write a blog post about, which is basically the same thing for me) to use myself as a case study to examine a single instance of a new reader trying out a Marvel NOW! book.
Digital comics | The top-selling digital comic may not be what you think: Rich Johnston reports that Ape Entertainment’s game comic Temple Run is the top paid book app in the iTunes store (it was No. 2 this morning). He also reveals that Ape Entertainment has sold a million copies of its digital Pocket God comic. [Bleeding Cool]
Publishing | Jen Vaughn and friends pay a visit to the offices of MAD magazine. [Flog]
Conventions | Corinna Kirsh files a report, with plenty of pictures, on last weekend’s Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. [L Magazine]
“Not to sound like a doofus, but as of tomorrow I am officially an X-writer and I couldn’t be more honored. I feel like I’ve won something. I used to work behind the counter at Super City Comics in Cleveland. We would argue X-Men all day — as of tomorrow all arguments … won! Switching from Avengers to X-writer isn’t just some new gig. It’s a complete brain change. My entire psyche feels different. Scary. Exciting.”
– writer Brian Michael Bendis, looking forward to the Wednesday debut of Marvel’s All-New X-Men
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. I’m filling in this week for Michael May, who is off in Florida spending his splurge money on mouse ears and giant turkey legs.
If I had $15, I’d start of the week with Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples’ Saga #7 (Image, $2.99). Saga has become a real bright spot in comics for me being sci-fi without being “sci-fi,” being romance without being “romance,” and being great at being great. It gives me the same excitement the way Bone, Strangers In Paradise and A Distant Soil did back in the early 90s. Next up would be Punk Rock Jesus #5 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) by Sean Murphy. Murphy’s really exceeded my expectations here, creating a nuanced and elaborate world that has great art as a bonus. You can really tell Murphy’s been thinking about this story for awhile now. After that I’d get Invincible #97 (Image, $2.99), to finally get the truth behind the new Invincible, Zandale. I’ve been enticed by what’s been teased so far, and I hope the inevitable return of Mark Grayson doesn’t prevent me from seeing more of Zandale in the future. Last up with my $15 budget would be my call for the best superhero book on the stands today, Wolverine & The X-Men #20 (Marvel, $3.99). I feel like the title isn’t getting the attention it deserves with Marvel NOW! upon us, but Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw are absolutely delivering it here.
If I had $30, I’d double back and double up on Brian Wood with Conan The Barbarian #10 (Dark Horse, $3.50) and The Massive #6 (Dark Horse, $3.50). The Massive has survived the monumental loss of artist Kristian Donaldson, forging on in Wood’s story of one ship trying to survive in an ecological destitute Earth. Over at Conan The Barbarian, Declan Shalvey looks to be bringing the goods and showing he’s more than a Marvel superhero artist. After that I’d get the second series debut of Where Is Jake Ellis? (Image, $3.50) by Nathan Edmondson and Tonci Zonjic. This is a mighty pairing, and seeing them peel back the layers on Jake Ellis has been fun.
Following DC Comics’ television campaigns for the New 52, Before Watchmen and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Marvel announced this morning that it will take to the radio to promote its Marvel NOW! initiative.
Commercials spotlighting such titles as Uncanny Avengers, Deadpool, Fantastic Four, All-New X-Men, Indestructible Hulk, Thor: God of Thunder, Captain America will air nationwide on radio shows like Fox Sports, Jim Rome, Nikki Sixx, Petros & Money and Opie & Anthony.
“We’re excited to bring Marvel NOW! to millions of new readers nationwide through advertising during the biggest radio programs,” David Gabriel, Marvel’s senior vice president of sales, said in a statement. “We’re spending more money on comic book marketing than ever in Marvel’s history to make sure that, in addition to publicity with major media outlets and top comic sites, there’s a strong mass consumer awareness of all our great new launches, from Uncanny Avengers to All New X-Men to Superior Spider-Man.”
On the plus side, radio ads are comparatively inexpensive and require little time to produce, which would allow Marvel to be more flexible in highlighting individual titles (or, heck, even plot developments). On the negative side, comics is a visual medium while radio, quite obviously, is not.
It was a tough week here at Camp Chain Reactions, trying to pick from the half-dozen or so first issues that arrived on Wednesday. Luckily there was nothing on the ballot Tuesday that ruled against doing more than one of these roundups each week, so expect to see one or two more before Monday.
Speaking of elections, let’s start off with a book that apparently (I haven’t read it yet) features zombie presidents: Deadpool #1. Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn tag team on the writing, as Tony Moore and Val Staples provide the art. Do they do justice to the merc with a mouth? Here are a few opinions from around the web:
Kelly Thompson, Comic Book Resources: “Duggan and Posehn take just the right tack for a Wade Wilson book, coming up with an outlandish idea of resurrected former presidents out to destroy America so that they can rebuild it. Dead president zombies on the loose is a concept that effortlessly inserts Deadpool into working for S.H.I.E.L.D., of all places. The result is comedy gold. Duggan and Posehn, in addition to conceiving of a perfect plot for Wade, have a good handle on his energy and sense of humor. Not every joke lands, but the ones that do are great and the ones that don’t still make a reader groan good-naturedly. Zombie FDR making jokes about a ‘new deal?’ This is fun.”
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.
Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #1 (of 12): I’m a sucker for Doctor Who, I think I’ve said that before, right …? No surprise, then, that I’m very much looking forward to this year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the BBC science-fiction show, with each issue spotlighting a different incarnation of the character. That Simon Fraser is providing art helps a lot, too; I’ve been a big fan of his “Nikolai Dante” work for 2000AD for a while. (IDW Publishing, $3.99)
One Trick Rip-Off/Deep-Cuts hardcover: Speaking of things that I’m a big fan of, Paul Pope easily fits that bill, so this enhanced reprint of his Dark Horse graphic novel — with more than 150 pages of rare and unseen work from the same period, including his Supertrouble manga — is far too tempting to pass up. (Image Comics, $29.99)
Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness #1 (of 4): I was very impressed with Star Trek: Countdown back in 2009, and the way it teased the then-upcoming J.J. Abrams reboot without giving too much away, so I’m looking forward to see if this prologue to this summer’s sequel is just as fun. (IDW, $3.99)
Star Wars #1: Brian Wood and Star Wars feel like an odd pairing in my head, but everything I’ve read about this new ongoing series set after the first movie (which is to say, Episode IV these days) seems completely up my alley, and the 5-year-old within me is completely sold on the chance to see more stories set in the “true” Star Wars era. (Dark Horse, $3.50)
Young Avengers #1: Kieron GIllen and Jamie McKelvie pairing on anything is pretty much a must-read for me, but seeing them let loose on Marvel’s teen characters and seemingly determined to make them actually seem like teenagers. … Yeah, this looks like it may be one of my favorite superhero books in quite some time, I suspect. (Marvel, $2.99)
Crime | Police in Jackson, Mississippi, have recovered a comic-book collection valued at $19,000, and arrested two suspects in the burglary. [WJTV]
Legal | Gerry Giovinco questions why Marvel and DC Comics zealously defend their intellectual property rights, going so far as to sue a birthday party company that rented out lookalike costumes, but don’t even touch the many porn parodies of their comics that have sprung up in recent years. [CO2 Comics]
Comics | A Florida mother was upset to discover Chick tracts among her children’s trick-or-treat haul, saying the comics are racist and offensive. It’s the second time in as many weeks that the long-controversial evangelical comics have been publicly called out by a displeased parent. [KTNV]