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Marvel and Wizard World debut ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ #1 variant

asm1-wizard-world-cropped

Marvel and Wizard World have debuted John Tyler Christopher‘s exclusive variant cover for The Amazing Spider-Man #1, available for free to VIP attendees of the May 30-June Wizard World Atlanta.

Limited to 3,000 copies, the color version will be provided free at registration to those with VIP packages. As at previous shows, the black-and-white sketch variant will presumably be available for purchase at the Wizard World Store on the exhibition floor.

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Comics A.M. | Stan Lee Media, Spider-Man & ‘litigation finance’

Spider-Man

Spider-Man

Legal | Those wondering how Stan Lee Media can possibly afford its long, and so far entirely unsuccessful, legal battle with Marvel and Disney may want to read this brief Wall Street Journal article about “litigation finance” — which it characterizes as the growing practice of investing in lawsuits. However, pointing to the fight over the rights to Spider-Man and other characters, writer Rob Copeland points out there are high risks: namely, that investors could never see financial return. As we’ve noted before, Stan Lee Media’s efforts are backed by a group of investors that includes the $21 billion hedge fund Elliott Management, which helps to explain why the lawsuits keep coming. [MoneyBeat]

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The Fifth Color | Now and later with Marvel in June 2014

Amazing Spider-Man #1.2 cover by Alex RossI never talk much about Marvel’s trade paperbacks or graphic novels because they tend to be pretty reliable. Working at a comic shop, I have quite few customers who are comfortable with the little engine of collected works the House of Ideas quickly puts on the shelves once the single issues are finished. Now, whether they are hardcover, softcover, digest or oversized, that makes things tricky. Still, if you only want to buy collections of comics, Marvel provides a way to keep the story going. So by the time I get to the trades in the solicitations each month, I generally shrug my shoulders and know it all must be working out OK over there. Let’s talk about tie-ins!

Trust me, we’ll get to those, but let’s first take a lingering look at the books headed our way in June. Marvel solicitations, take it away!

To celebrate its 75th anniversary, Marvel seems to be doing a much slower build than I expected. Even the website seems a little barren, and the announcement that Alex Ross will be creating various covers throughout the year kind of came and went. Still, I have some hope for a pretty big bash, because take a look at this puppy right here …

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Stan Lee and Spider-Man team up with U.S. Postal Service

asm2-post-office

It’s common for film studios to partner with fast-food chains, cereal manufacturers and soft-drink companies to help market major releases, but here’s a tie-in few likely expected: The United States Postal Service has teamed with Sony Pictures for a campaign to promote Priority Mail and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — and they’ve enlisted Stan Lee for a little help.

The effort launches with a television commercial (below), featuring appearances by both the wall-crawler and the legendary creator, and includes limited-edition Spider-Man shipping boxes, Spider-Man postage from self-service kiosks, and special signage that extends to USPS vehicles. The campaign will also cast a spotlight on “stories of ‘USPS super heroes’ – real-life Postal Service employees delivering for their customers.”

The TV spot was created by DNA Productions with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 director Marc Webb and commercials/music video director Rich Lee.

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The Fifth Color | Heroic realism in comics

from CSBG: Drawing Crazy Patterns – The Helicarrier Crashing

must be Thursday…

I listen to a lot of podcasts because I don’t sleep very well, and if they’re especially enrapturing or I just can’t drift off, their topics float around with me through the day. How Did This Get Made did the former when it discussed the movie A Winter’s Tale and the idea of magical realism.

Magic realism is “a genre where magic elements are a natural part in an otherwise mundane, realistic environment” (thanks, Wikipedia!), a concept we’re accustomed to as comic readers. There’s a lot that goes unsaid about New York City’s alien-invasion rate, and we’re fine with that.

Marvel is big on making its universe “our universe,” and while DC Comics keeps its distance with completely fictional cities like Metropolis and Gotham, Marvel is proud to have its heroes interact with New York City. While audiences (or at least the marketing departments) clamor for more “gritty” reboots and realism in their comic movies, do remember that Gotham was threatened by mass hysteria in Batman Begins and a giant nuke in The Dark Knight Rises. We crave dark grit but still want those fantastic elements that challenge the hero and raise the stakes.

So is it reality we crave or is it something else?

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From Morbius to Mordo: Why does ‘mor’ sound so sinister?

morbius

What is it about the syllable “mor” that denotes villainy?

After all, at Marvel there’s Baron Mordo, the longtime enemy of Doctor Strange; Morg, the remorselss herald of Galactus; and Morbius, who lately is more misunderstood than evil. And DC Comics boasts Mordru the Merciless, the, well, merciless Lord of Chaos; Morgaine le Fey, the diabolical sorceress; Mordecai Smyt and Morax, archfiend and fiend of Hell, respectively. Oh! Plus, Morgan Edge. And those are only a handful of notables from comic books.

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Spider-Man’s crime spree resumes with Florida store robbery

spider-robbery

Spider-Man had been a public menace for much of last year, getting into a confrontation with a women in Times Square, stealing $6,000 in cash and fighting two Captain Americas on Hollywood Boulevard before getting arrested in Pittsburgh following a store robbery. Heck, he was even blamed for the horrific violence in Venezuela. But in recent months the wall-crawler had appeared to give up his life of crime.

That changed last week when Spider-Man was captured on video robbing a 7-Eleven in Altamonte Springs, Florida, with the aid of a rifle and a masked sidekick, presumably one Andy Maguire, aka Alpha.

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Comics A.M. | DC, Marvel shut out of February bookstore chart

The Walking Dead, Vol. 19

The Walking Dead, Vol. 19

Graphic novels | Marvel and DC Comics may dominate the direct market but the bookstore channel is another story: As ICv2 points out, neither publisher landed a title on Nielsen BookScan’s list of the 20 top-selling graphic novels in February. Instead, here’s what it looked like: six volumes of The Walking Dead, six volumes of Attack on Titan, two volumes of Saga, and single volumes of some well-established titles Locke & Key, Bleach, Naruto, Adventure Time and Avatar: The Last Airbender, and the adaptation of the novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. That makes Image Comics the winner of the month, followed by Kodansha Comics, and the list is heavy on books with tween and teen appeal. [ICv2]

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Marvel reveals Alex Ross variant for ‘Miracleman’ #5

Alex_Ross_Miracleman_5-crop

Marvel has debuted Alex Ross’ cover for Miracleman #5, which kicks off the reprints of “Book Two: The Red King Syndrome,” by Alan Moore, Alan Davis, John Ridgeway, Chuck Beckum and Rick Veitch.

The issue, which arrives May 7, also features variants by Jim Cheung and Humberto Ramos.

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Stan Lee Media fires back at Disney in fight over Spider-Man

spider-manFighting an effort to end its persistent claims to Spider-Man, the tenacious Stan Lee Media Inc. insists it’s up to Disney to prove ownership of the Marvel superhero.

In documents filed Tuesday in federal court in Philadelphia, the failed dot-com again argued that none of the previous cases over the past decade — and there have been many — has directly addressed the merits of its ownership claims. “No judge has decided that Disney actually owns the Spider‐Man copyrights or, for that matter, that SLMI does not own the copyrights,” the papers state. “[...] That issue has never been decided, and Disney has now placed it directly before the court in this case.”

“This case” is a copyright- and trademark-infringement involving the use of elements from Spider-Man, Mary Poppins and The Lion King in a musical revue staged by the Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based American Music Theatre. What Disney’s lawyers thought would be “a simple case” took an unexpected turn in November when the theater responded that it had licensed Spider-Man, from Stan Lee Media, which was named in a third-party counterclaim (the license was obtained after Disney filed suit). That opened the door for the company, which no longer has a connection to Stan Lee, to sue Disney, seeking a jury trial regarding ownership of Spider-Man, and, presumably, the other Marvel characters it’s sought since emerging from bankruptcy in 2006.

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Quote of the Day | ‘There’s always room for further diversity’

all-new ultimates“There’s always room for more; there’s always room for further diversity. Whether it’s more Latino characters, or more Black characters, or more LGBT characters — you pretty much can pick any group of people, and as long as you’re not talking about middle-aged white men like myself, they’re probably underrepresented in the world of superhero comics. It’s tough from a sales perspective, because all of the characters that are still the bedrock, firmament characters tend to be guys that were created in the 1960s if not earlier, at a time when comic books were predominantly, if not exclusively, white. While it’s nice that we’ve made some steps — we have more female-led books than ever before — that doesn’t mean we should stop coming up with them. Just because we have a few books that have Hispanic characters, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look for more opportunities to do more there. The same thing is true with every demographic that you can speak to. No matter where you happen to sit within the cultural zeitgeist, it’s never mission accomplished. It’s always, ‘What’s next?’ There’s always going to be somebody who is underrepresented, or that you could represent more truthfully or more affectingly.”

Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing, discussing the titles introduced as part of the “All-New Marvel NOW!” initiative

Brought to you by the letter M: ‘Moon Knight’ and ‘Magneto’

moon-knight-magneto

This week’s new releases include three more series launching as part of the “All-New Marvel Now” initiative — Magneto, Moon Knight and Wolverine & The X-Men — but of those, I only want to discuss the first two.

That’s because they’re actually new series, rather than an existing series simply relaunching with a new #1 issue and a new creative team. (The previous volume of Wolverine & The X-Men, the one written by Jason Aaron, seems like it just ended. When was that? Let’s see, it was … last week? Marvel’s not even waiting a whole entire month to relaunch titles now?)

Those two books are also solo series featuring lower-tier characters, making them the exact sort of comics Marvel has been allowing creators to pursue riskier, quirkier, more idiosyncratic and interesting approaches on since the success of Mark Waid and company’s Daredevil and Matt Fraction, David Aja and company’s Hawkeye.

And, of course, they also both start with the letter M.
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With Marvel’s ‘Original Sin’ promo, the eyes have it

Tom Brevoort (courtesy of Marvel)

Tom Brevoort (courtesy of Marvel)

Considering that Marvel’s Original Sin begins with the discovery on the moon of the Watcher’s body, minus his eyes, it’s perhaps unsurprising the publisher opted for a somewhat ghoulish way to promote the upcoming event series in comic stores: Marvel-branded bouncy balls that resemble Uatu’s missing eyeballs.

And given that writer Jason Aaron teased last month, “Whoever holds one of the eyes is able to explode a bomb full of secrets and unleash all the various secrets of the Marvel Universe into the wild through that eye,” it seems only fitting that Marvel Senior Vice President Tom Brevoort, keeper of many of those secrets, has been spotted with one of the missing organs. There’s no telling what may come of this …

The eight-issue Original Sin debuts in May.

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LeBron James drops ‘Batman’ mask, Greg Land offers another

Art by Greg Land

Art by Greg Land

After suffering a broken nose, Miami Heat forward LeBron James returned to the court last week sporting a black protective mask some compared to those worn by Batman and Bane. However, it was hot and uncomfortable, leaving him in search for alternatives.

“I’ve been talking to Marvel Comics for the last couple of days, and DC Comics, to try to come up with one of the greatest masks of all time,” James told The Associated Press. “So we’ll see what happens.”

But on Friday, the NBA asked that he not wear the black mask — hey, even teammate Dwyane Wade conceded “it looks weird” — so James instead debuted a clear one in Saturday’s game against the Orlando Magic. Greg Land had other ideas, however, designing a star-spangled option that Marvel tweeted on Tuesday was “in honor of last night’s super heroics” (James scored 61 points against the Charlotte Bobcats as the heat won 124-107).

As Bleacher Report notes, “Land’s design pretty much sums up how James is playing lately.”

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Marvel and Wizard World debut Golden and Mack variants

wizard-daredevil-wolverine

Marvel and Wizard World have revealed exclusive variant covers available to VIP attendees at Wizard World Louisville Comic Con and Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con: Michael Golden’s Daredevil #1 and David Mack’s Wolverine and The X-Men #1.

The covers are available as part of a variant program in which a limited-edition cover will be available at each of the 16 Wizard World Comic Con events scheduled this year. The Golden and Mack covers follow Miracleman #1 and Miracleman #2, by Neal Adams (available at Portland Comic Con and New Orleans Comic Con, respectively) and Wolverine #1, by Greg Horn (available at Sacramento Comic Con).

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