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‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Minimates make their debut

age-of-ultron-minimates2

Diamond Select Toys is continuing its history of Marvel Minimates with figures based on Avengers: Age of Ultron, unveiled this morning by Toybox.

The collectibles will arrives in the spring in two runs, priced at $10 per pack of two: One features Black Widow, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, two versions of Hawkeye (old and new costume), Ultron and a “Sub-Ultron.” The other, available from Toys “R” Us, exchanges the two Hawkeye figures for Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron arrives in theaters May 1. Continue Reading »

Watch Ant-Man cut loose to Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’

antman-taylor-swift

Considering the histories of Hank Pym and Scott Lang, there’s probably a deeper meaning to be gleaned from Matt Kiel‘s animated video of Ant-Man dancing like no one’s watching to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.”

However, I prefer to simply enjoy the tiny hero’s uninhibited moves that, alas, come to an end when he realizes (too late!) that someone is watching.

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Return of the Jedi to Marvel: ‘Star Wars’ #1

star wars #1 coverThe first page of Marvel’s Star Wars #1 is essentially a splash-page version of a screen cap, featuring the blue “A long time ago …” opening text. And they’re not kidding. The first Star Wars film opened 38 years ago, in 1977, which is when Marvel initially published licensed Star Wars comics. The company kept a monthly series going for a decade before canceling it. The racks were Star Wars-less for just four years before Dark Horse picked up the license, beginning a fruitful 23-year relationship that produced some pretty great comics — in fact, almost all of the good Star Wars comics (that aren’t the product of Jeffrey Brown, anyway).

And now, thanks to various corporate acquisitions, “The Greatest Space Fantasy of All!” is back in the hands of Marvel, which used to refer to it as such in the ’70s (and its principal heroes as “The Star Warriors”).

So how is the much-hyped, $4.99, 30-page comic with a variant cover for every star in the sky? Not bad. Not bad at all.

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Plans for a Marvel ‘Swimsuit Special’ have been (sadly) scrapped

UPDATE 1/14/2014 4:25 PM PT: Kris Anka has clarified the nature of the scrapped project on his Tumblr, writing, “The sketches I posted were not for an official project to be published by Marvel. They were for an artists’ sketchbook that Kevin Wada and myself were going to pitch to Marvel for approval. Kevin and I decided to pull the plug on this project, not Marvel. We were proud of our work so far, so we wanted to share what we had done.”


Art by Kevin Wada

Art by Kevin Wada

If you were holding out hopes for a return of the Marvel Swimsuit Specials of the early 1990s, you’re about to be disappointed: Artist Kris Anka revealed that while he Kevin Wada were indeed working on a one-shot, that’s unfortunately no longer the case.

“I write to you today with the somber news that after a few months back and forth with the powers-that-be, circumstances have arisen that have forced us to stop production on this project,” he said on his blog, later adding, “While we are both disappointed that we can no longer work on this, there was no malice behind this decision. It is what it is.”

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Seriously, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ needs its own 16-bit game

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Given the sheer amount of Guardians of the Galaxy apparel, toys and collectibles on the market, you’d think Disney and Marvel Studios covered all the merchandising opportunities for the 2014 blockbuster. However, CineFix’s 8-Bit Cinema spotlights one they overlooked — and that we desperately need: an old-school side-scrolling video game.

In the video below, CineFex effectively retells director James Gunn’s space adventure using 16-bit technology, complete with snippets of dialogue and — best of all — a new, and totally appropriate, rendition of the film’s hit soundtrack.

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Spider-Man, Iron Man named Mardi Gras parade grand marshals

Courtesy of Marvel Character Appearance Program

Courtesy of Marvel Character Appearance Program

Tony Stark and Peter Parker are heading to Mardi Gras.

The Krewe of Caesar, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana’s largest Carnival organization, has named Iron Man and Spider-Man as the grand marshals of its 36th annual parade. “Spider-Man and Iron Man are true American heroes and someone we all look up to with utmost respect for their service to our country,” Krewe of Caesar’s Captain Robert Carnesi said in a statement to WWL-TV.

Their involvement comes courtesy of the Marvel Characters Appearance Program, which, as the name suggests, arranges for the company’s superheroes to show up for mall events, trade shows, festivals, awareness programs and the like.

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Empire strikes back in ‘Star Wars’ vs. Marvel and DC fan trailer

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In recent months we’ve seen Batman vs. Darth Vader, and even DC vs. Marvel. But that was only for starters, as Alex Luthor — who brought us the latter — has now unveiled a fan trailer for … Star Wars vs. DC and Marvel.

Using footage from assorted movies, video games and even that aforementioned Batman vs. Darth Vader installment of “Super Power Beat Down,” the trailer is perhaps not as polished as Luthor’s DC vs. Marvel, but he does a good  job of building tension using the sound of Darth Vader’s respirator (even if the cut to the Millennium Falcon from The Force Awakens teaser is a little too jarring). And it’s tough not to smile when Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord makes his entrance …

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Japanese ‘Spider-Man’ returns to Marvel with two episodes

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Marvel, which previously uploaded episodes of the Japanese live-action Spider-Man series in 2009, has dusted off a couple of those gems in anticipation of The Amazing Spider-Man #12, which introduces Takuya Yamashiro and his giant battle robot Leopardon as part of the “Spider-Verse” crossover.

Produced by Toei Company, the Japanese Spider-Man aired for 41 episodes, from May 1978 to March 1979. Although licensed from Marvel, beyond the hero’s signature costume, the series bore little resemblance to the publisher’s comics.

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‘The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl’ is the best kind of fun

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Tragedy is easy, comedy is hard, which is why there are so many sad superheoes. It’s much easier to kill a character to make us cry than it is to make that same superhero draw a laugh. Humor is subjective, but shooting a loved one in the face is always going to be a terrible act. So I can see why not a lot of writers go for the joke; it could easily fall flat and ruin their story. It’s the fearless type of writer who throws angst to the wind and heads in feet first into comedy!

Ryan North and Erica Henderson are just that fearless. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl isn’t just a regular story with comedy bits sprinkled in, but a full-out funny book with all the trimmings. From the difficult-to-read stingers at the bottom of every page, to the wild squirrel network that alerts our heroine to danger, to the decorations of her college roommate (which I personally adore!), nothing is taken all that seriously.

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The Fifth Color | Peggy Carter, from comics to screen to comics

agentcarter_pulpThere’s a certain comfort in being able to point to spectacular successes in modern adaptation, because it keeps you from getting too cynical about yet another announced movie based on something you love. Yes, it could easily be Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, but it could also turn out to be the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which brought an epic work into the homes of a broader audience.

Marvel has an incredible track record for taking characters from comics, distilling them into their purest forms and making them box-office hits. After all, Iron Man is virtually a household name now — who’d have expected that? — and countless schoolchildren know who Groot is. However, the Avengers are a lot more cohesive in their movies than they are in the comics, so I can see why there are those who still shy away from the source material in favor of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Peggy Carter getting her own television series is important for just that reason: It demonstrates that you don’t just have to tell stories about the top-billed characters on the screen — that there’s room and interest enough to take supporting players like Peggy Carter and Phil Coulson and give them a spotlight. The premiere of Agent Carter not only further expands the MCU, but it does so better than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

However, here’s the weird thing: This week, Operation S.I.N. one-ups them both.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead for the first two episodes of Agent Carter, as well as Operation S.I.N. #1, by Kathryn Immonen and Rich Ellis, so grab at least a copy of the comic and set aside a couple hours for the TV show and dig right in!

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Marvel veteran Tom Brennan joins Valiant

tom-brennanFormer Marvel editor Tom Brennan has been hired as associate editor at Valiant Entertainment, where his duties will include overseeing the launch of Ivar, Timewalker.

Brennan, who worked at the House of Ideas for six years, is only the latest Marvel veteran to join Valiant, following the likes of Editor-in-Chief Warren Simons and Editor Alejandro Arbona. DC Comics alum Kyle Andrukiewicz was hired in July as assistant editor.

At Marvel, Brennan worked on such titles as The Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil, Ms. Marvel, Venom and X-Men.

“Being a part of Valiant Entertainment might just prove that I’m the luckiest guy in comics,” Brennan said in a statement. “Watching Valiant not just survive but thrive in one of the toughest climates in publishing history was always inspiring, but to be a part of it is incredibly exciting. Moreover, Warren Simons is an editor I’ve looked up to for my entire career. This place is full of heart and hustle..

Image, BOOM! again named Gem Awards publishers of the year

diamond gem awardsIt’s deja vu all over again for the Diamond Gem Awards: Voted on by comics retailers, the winners this year look a lot like the 2013 lineup, with Image Comics and BOOM! Studios once again taking honors as top publishers in their divisions. Marvel was named top dollar publisher, DC Comics as top backlist publisher and Viz Media as top manga publisher — just like in 2012 and 2013.

The first issue of the widely acclaimed Ms. Marvel was honored as comic book of the year in the under $3 division, and Thor #1 was the choice among pricier comics. The Amazing Spider-Man #1 brought in the most dollars, however. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was named the best all-ages comic of the year, Batman: Earth One took the honors as best original graphic novel, and Box Brown’s Andre the Giant was the best indie comic.

In terms of who got what, DC Comics won seven awards, Marvel won six and Dark Horse won three, including best anthology for Dark Horse Presents, another three-peat.

Here’s the full list of winners:

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Comics A.M. | Police face ‘Charlie Hebdo’ suspects in twin siege

 

Crime | Police have surrounded an industrial park in the town of Dammartin-en-Goele, France, 25 miles north of Paris, where the two suspects in Wednesday’s massacre at the offices of satire magazine Charlie Hebdo are believed to be hiding. Police say brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi have taken over a print shop and are holding a hostage, and have reportedly told negotiators they wish to die as martyrs. The Associated Press reports that a second, apparently linked siege at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris is believed to involve Amedy Coulibaly, suspected of killing a police officer on Thursday. Police say he’s holding at least six hostages. [The Guardian]

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Comics A.M. | First Second’s Mark Siegel on ‘new mainstream’

This One Summer

This One Summer

Publishing | In a three-part interview, First Second Books Editorial Director Mark Siegel talks about 2014, the upcoming year, and the emergence of a “new mainstream.” In Part 1 he discusses the 2014 releases and ends with some numbers (print runs rather than sales); the imprint’s top books are Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl and Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer, both of which have 30,000 copies in print. In Part 2 he looks at the importance of the library market and support from librarians, especially for children and teens, as well as the emergence of a new category of graphic novels that he calls “new mainstream.” Part 3 focuses on First Second’s planned releases for 2015, including Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor, which will have a print run of 100,000. [ICv2]

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Paul Pope brings pathos to ‘Howard the Duck’ #1 variant cover

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For years after the ill-fated 1986 film, Howard the Duck was considered a joke character by many. However, the March-debuting new series from writer Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals) and Joe Quinones (Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell) looks to be taking Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik’s character more seriously than most recent depictions, while still having fun.

The latest evidence: a variant cover by Paul Pope — making a rare Marvel appearance — for Howard the Duck #1, revealed on Twitter earlier today by Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso. The cover channels Shakespearean pathos with a downright somber-looking Howard, albeit juxtaposed with a rubber ducky.

Pope’s full cover follows below.

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