I know I still get hammered via e-mail when I suggest something like, say, that there aren’t any superhero comics in any one of my year’s top ten, with a line of thinking that things should somehow be balanced between that particular form of expression and others. I kind of thought most fans were past this …
It wasn’t too many years ago that this definitely was an issue, at least for me. I thought of the stages in my comics life in terms of how much each involved superheroes. My childhood years were all about Harvey, Walt Disney and Looney Tunes until I discovered Marvel and DC and put away “childish things.” That lasted well into my 20s, until companies like Dark Horse and Vertigo opened the gate to other genres.
“Extremely limited edition” in this case means “you can’t have one.”
Artist Paolo Rivera has more reason than most to take pride in the box office success of Iron Man 3: He has blogged before about how thrilled he was that an early poster for the movie was based on his cover for Iron Man #63, and now he’s written about his emotional investment in seeing the film for the first time.
This would be noteworthy enough in its own right, but the piece is accompanied by a spectacular print that he’s painted exclusively for the cast and crew of the production. Rivera had previously produced a suitably 1940s-looking poster for those working on Captain America: The First Avenger, and the Iron Man 3 print is designed to resemble a battered old pulp novel (suitably enough, given the styling of the end credits animation and the origins of Robert Downey Jr. and Shane Black’s previous collaboration). This is an extremely cool piece of art, and as exclusive as any limited edition poster you’re likely to see — do not expect to see copies of this one ever turning up on eBay (unlike, say, the gougers flogging his “Precious Cargo” at a helluva mark-up).
Fans of Marvel’s Merc With a Mouth don’t have much longer to wait: Activision has announced it will release its Deadpool video game June 25 in North America (which probably means June 28 in Europe) for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. Previously, the title had been saddled with a nebulous “summer” launch date.
To mark the announcement, the publisher has debuted a half-dozen new screenshots of the game, which will retail in North America for a lower-than-usual $49.99 for consoles and $39.99 for PCs.
“It just seemed like a good time. I introduced the ‘Hell on Earth War,’ which shook things up to such a degree that it seemed to me that I could not really top it. This series has been going for 10 years, and the sales were solid but not huge. It just somehow seemed a logical, dramatic climax to everything that I’ve been doing.”
Marvel’s Superior Spider-Man marketing plans have gone too far.
First there was the confrontation in Times Square between the wall-crawler and a woman who wouldn’t hand over a couple of bucks for a photo, and now he stands accused of stealing $6,000 in Hollywood. Sure, that’s a little outside of his usual stomping grounds, but times are tough.
NBC New York reports that Hollywood police are on the lookout for a ol’ web-head after he allegedly stole a paper bag filled with $6,000 in cash and credit card information from a Starlines Tour Bus who was leaving the company’s Hollywood Boulevard headquarters on Friday. Since then, police have been rounding up Spider-Man impersonators who were seen in the area of TLC Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s) at the time of the crime.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been playing Bioshock: Infinite lately, but the choice we make now can lead to infinite worlds of harder choices in the blink of an eye. There’s a philosophical weight to certain scientific theories that takes the dryness of numbers and calculations and puts them into context for who we are as human beings. One of science fiction’s many functions is to play around with that: Robots can be used as puppets to play out our feelings about our own humanity, the aftermath of post-apocalyptic nightmares can show us how societies work at the broken point, and then there’s time travel.
Oh, man, time travel is a huge trope for the deep thinkers! The infamous “go back in time in kill Hitler” question is still debated in classrooms to this day and bandied about online forums. It’s huge temptation to think that, by changing a single thing about our past, we could create a brighter future, whether that’s saving 11 million people or simply knowing where we put our keys in the morning. It’s something we can comfortably wonder about because no one on Earth is capable of actually traveling through time to change anything.
Comics, on the other hand, can and often do. There are time-travel powers, devices, plot elements … it’s a fun topic to explore, and so our heroes jump into the time stream with little time for debate or even a basic plan. This creates the action and adventure we came to read and allows the creative team to test out a variety of scenarios for our entertainment and enlightenment. We debate, but fiction can act.
Does this make comics smarter than us for acting on these ideas or are comics more frustrating for tossing caution to the wind when any of us would pause to understand if we were doing the right thing? This is why Age of Ultron bothers me so much.
WARNING: Big reveal from last week’s Age of Ultron #6, so grab your copies and read along!
Although a licensing deal with Universal Studios prevents Marvel’s superheroes from appearing at Walt Disney World, there’s apparently nothing stopping them from taking to the water.
Disney Cruise Line announced this morning that as part of a “reimagineering” of the 15-year-old Disney Magic, the flagship will introduce Marvel’s Avengers Academy, “a chance for young ‘recruits’ to unleash their inner super heroes.”
Part of Disney’s Oceaneer Club, the children’s activity center, the Marvel theme area (below) is designed to resemble the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier from The Avengers film — or, in the words of Disney, “a high-tech command post used by The Avengers for special missions and operations training.”
Legal | Singapore cartoonist Leslie Chew was arrested last week on charges of sedition, held over the weekend, and released on S$10,000 bail. His cellphone and computer were also confiscated. The charges stem from two cartoons on Chew’s Demon-cratic Singapore Facebook page. [Yahoo! News Singapore]
Crowdfunding | Chris Sims tells the truly bizarre tale of a crowdfunding scam: Someone copied Ken Lowery and Robert Wilson IV’s Kickstarter campaign for Like a Virus, including the video, and made it into an IndieGoGo campaign, presumably planning to pocket the money and run. [Comics Alliance]
The New York Daily News casts a spotlight on Ray Felix, the small-press publisher who’s challenging the joint claim of DC Comics and Marvel to the “super hero” trademark, and comes away with some interesting details:
- The two publishers have prevented at least 35 people from using “super hero,” or some variation, since they were granted the mark in 1980 for toys and in 1981 for comic books. (You may remember that in 2004 GeekPunk changed the name of its series Super Hero Happy Hour to Hero Happy Hour following objections by DC and Marvel.)
- Although Felix admits he’s unlikely to win his case before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, a lawyer specializing in intellectual property tells the newspaper that Marvel and DC’s joint ownership “violates the basic tenet of trademark law.” “A trademark stands for a single source of origin, not two possible sources of origin,” Ron Coleman argues. “If the public understands that the word ‘superhero’ could come from A or B, then by definition that’s a word and not a trademark.”
- Even if the appeal board were to find in Felix’s favor, it would only mean he can retain his registration for his series A World Without Superheroes. Revocation of Marvel and DC’s trademark would require a costly civil lawsuit.
Felix’s dispute with the comics giants dates back to September 2010, when he received a cease-and-desist letter after registering a trademark for his series. Following more a year and a half of exchanges between Felix and the companies’ attorneys, DC Comics and Marvel Characters Inc. in March 2012 filed a formal opposition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
Publishing | In advance of Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio and Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada discuss who’s reading their comics, and the creative challenges of writing about characters who have been around for generations. Asked if he was the custodian of contemporary myths, DiDio answered, “You know, I feel like a renter, to be honest. I’m in charge at this moment, and the goal is to keep these myths healthy enough so that, eventually, you can pass them down to the next person who rents them.” [Chicago Tribune]
Conventions | Christopher Butcher, the organizer of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, talks about how the show has grown and what to expect this year, including an interesting slate of international creators, from David B. to Taiyo Matsumoto. [The Comics Reporter]
Are you getting excited? New teasers and trailers are being released almost every day now. The countdown to Summer Movie Season is officially on, and the big blockbusters adapting comics are looking promising. Iron Man 3 has an armada of armors flying around; can’t really go wrong there. The Wolverine has ninjas as far as the eye can see. And the bearded and brooding Man of Steel might even end up being good. Throw in a little Kick-Ass 2 and RED 2, sprinkle with R.I.P.D. and 300: Rise of an Empire, and top it off with 2 Guns, and you’ve got yourself one fun summer.
While we still get clunkers, the ratio of good to suck has definitely improved. It used to be that the old chestnut response to a movie adapted from a novel could be more often than not applied to movies adapted from comics: The book was better. And it’s often still true. But there are times when the movies do it better than comics, and while that’s great for the filmmakers and audiences, in a way it’s an indictment on the comics-makers.
Comics offer more boundless creativity than almost any medium. With comics, there’s no studio executive, no creation-by-committee made up of shareholders and board members with less experience creating and telling stories than their companies’ interns. It’s why Tony Stark being an alcoholic doesn’t fly with Disney and was removed from Iron Man 3. Comics can still include collaboration and compromise but they can just as easily be the result of a single voice. Even with the most heavy-handed editorially mandated comics, they’re still created by a fraction of people needed to make a Hollywood movie. Comics are generally more spontaneous, imaginative and clever than most major studio movies. But sometimes, Hollywood gets the jump on comics.
Marvel Studios has unveiled a beautiful IMAX poster created by Jock for director Shane Black’s Iron Man 3, which arrives in theaters May 3, just ahead of Free Comic Book Day. It’s the last of the exclusive “12:01″ series, given to attendees of midnight showings of the studio’s films.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better than Patton Oswalt’s eight-minute improvised pitch on Parks and Recreation for a Star Wars/Marvel movie crossover, Entertainment Weekly has produced a mash-up poster for Stars Wars: Episode VII — The Gauntlet of Infinity, inspired by George Perez’s cover for The Infinity Gauntlet #1.
In this new version, Thanos naturally remains at the center, while Mephisto is replaced by Boba Fett — how different might have “One More Day” have been? — and Doctor Strange gives way to Luke Skywalker. There’s also a shot of an X-wing and the Blackbird (not a Quinjet!) in pursuit of Slave I, but that’s only for starters.
A recent announcement by the Hong Kong government that the city’s struggling Disneyland will expand with a Marvel superheroes area appears to have been premature.
“We haven’t confirmed anything about it as yet,” Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs told The Wall Street Journal. The Marvel plans are being characterized as only part of the “potential options” for an expansion of the seven-year-old theme park.
“We spoke on the phone for many years, at least once a week and often more. I am shattered,” author Samuel Delany wrote in a Facebook post announcing Morales’ death. “His many friends will miss him deeply. He had agreed to be my literary executor, and the idea that he would pre-descease me never entered my head. For me and many others he was an indispensable friend. To say he will be deeply missed is an incredible understatement.”
A longtime entertainment journalist and former arts editor at Vibe, Morales had worked with Baker on satirical cartoons for the magazine before the two reunited for Truth, published during a period when Marvel was taking creative risks with such comics as Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, Peter Milligan and Mike Allred’s X-Statix, and Ron Zimmerman and John Severin’s Rawhide Kid, and its short-lived Tsunami imprint.
Controversial almost from the moment it was announced, Truth uses the Tuskegee Experiments as inspiration to re-examine the history of the Super-Soldier serum, depicting a regiment of black soldiers who undergo medical experiments during World War II in an attempt to recreate the lost formula that produced Captain America.