Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Dark Horse has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive first look at three limited-edition variant covers produced for the upcoming Emerald City Comicon: Lady Killer #1 by Joëlle Jones, Past Aways #1 by Scott Kolins, and Fire and Stone: Prometheus—Omega #1 by Patric Reynolds.
Limited to just 500 copies, each variant will available for $5 throughout the show, while supplies last, at the Dark Horse booth (#802). There will also be an ECCC variant for Frankenstein Underground, the new miniseries by Mike Mignola, Ben Stenbeck and Dave Stewart.
Dark Horse will celebrate the 200th issue of Dark Horse Presents in February with an 80-page installment that includes the first U.S. publication of “Masks,” a short story by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn and veteran artist Dave Gibbons.
The story, about a mother turned masked vigilante, originally appeared in April as part of The Guardian’s celebration of the opening of the “Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the U.K.” exhibition at the British Museum. “Masks” marks Flynn’s comics debut.
Coming up Dec. 10, Valiant Entertainment will launch a new four-issue miniseries The Valiant, co-written by Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt with art by Paolo Rivera. To mark its upcoming release, Valiant shared layout, penciled, inked and colored samples of the first four pages for the first issue.
Editorial cartoons | The New York Times has apologized to readers who were offended by an editorial cartoon about India’s space program that depicted the country as a man in traditional dress, leading a cow and knocking at the door of the “Elite Space Club.” “The intent of the cartoonist, Heng Kim Song, was to highlight how space exploration is no longer the exclusive domain of rich, Western countries,” reads the apology, signed by editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal. “Mr. Heng, who is based in Singapore, uses images and text — often in a provocative way — to make observations about international affairs. We apologize to readers who were offended by the choice of images in this cartoon. Mr. Heng was in no way trying to impugn India, its government or its citizens.” [The New Indian Express]
Creators | Attack on Titan creator Hajime Isayama estimates that the blockbuster manga series will end in three years. “I’d like to end things quickly, with a tight pace of story developments,” he told Japan’s Da Vinci magazine, “and then I always end up feeling like I should qualify that with a ‘but,’ so for now, I can’t say anything more specific.” [RocketNews 24]
Conventions | Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, has a thriving entertainment industry, and comics are blossoming there as well. At The Beat, Deji Bryce Olukotun interviews Ayodele Elegba, co-founder of this past weekend’s Lagos Comic Con, about the popularity of comics, what makes the Nigerian comics scene different from others, and the ever-present problem of piracy. [The Beat]
Legal | Attorney Tom Goldstein, co-founder of the respected SCOTUSblog, has joined with Marc Toberoff to represent the heirs of Jack Kirby in their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of the Second Circuit’s affirmation that the artist’s contributions to Marvel between 1958 and 1963 were work for hire and therefore not subject to copyright termination. In a response filed this week to Marvel’s brief urging the high court to decline review, Goldstein and Toberoff again challenge the Second Circuit’s “instance and expense” test and its definition of “employer,” and argue, “Many of our most celebrated literary and musical works were created before 1978 and signed away to publishers in un-remunerative transactions. Termination rights were ‘needed because of the unequal bargaining position of authors.’ It would be hard to find a better example of this than the prolific Jack Kirby, who worked in his basement with no contract, no financial security and no employment benefits, but without whom Marvel might not even be in business today.” [Hollyqood, Esq.]
Retailing | Memo to politicians: You don’t win friends and influence people by taking up five spots in a comic store’s parking lot with your campaign bus on a Wednesday — especially when it’s Batman Day. [The Clarion-Ledger]
Saturday, aka Day 2, of HeroesCon was much busier for creators, so I didn’t always get the opportunity to chat with them that I did on the first day of the Charlotte, North Carolina, convention. In those instances, in place of project updates I provide links to the creators and/or their related works.
Batman/Superman, Vol. 1: Cross World (DC Comics): The greatest virtue of the Greg Pak-written World’s Finest team-up title is also its main drawback: There’s really great, flat-out gorgeous artwork by Jae Lee … except when their isn’t. Lee draws the lion’s share of the book — about 70 of its 100-plus story pages — and it’s some of the artist’s best comics work; his heroic figures pose through a series of complex layouts, their anatomy and features those of real, if exceptionally beautiful, people, rather than musclebound action figures. The too-busy New 52 costume designs are stripped down to their essentials, the various bits of technology all look like mobile art installations, and Lee’s vision of a Gotham City park is appropriately, if amusingly, dark, twisted and exaggerated.
He might not have been the best possible choice for this particular storyline, which involves two different Batmen, Supermen and Catwomen, given his use of silhouettes and sparse panels, and the cacophony of color-coded narration boxes have to do a little more work than they might otherwise. But it’s jarring to the point of shocking when fill-in artists appear to help Lee, with Ben Oliver-drawn climaxes for the first and last issues/chapters, and an extensive Yildiray Cinar flashback in another issue. There’s also a rather tacked-on origin story of Darkseid and the main villain for the story arc, which appeared in September’s Justice League #23.1, drawn by two more artists.
Conventions | The organizers of the Supanova pop culture festival in Melbourne, Australia, triggered a social-media firestorm after removing a comic by artist Scarlette Baccini from her table because of explicit sexual content. The festival has a strict ban on pornography, and other adult material must be kept sealed and away from children. One of the organizers stopped by Baccini’s table, flipped through her Jesus Reloadeth’d, and saw a drawing of two men having sex, so he removed the comic. Baccini posted about the incident on Facebook, triggering accusations of homophobia against the event organizers. However, they responded that the issue was the explicitness of the image, not that it depicted two men. [SameSame]
Matt Kindt, who followed Ales Kot as writer of Suicide Squad beginning with October’s Issue 24, revealed he’s leaving the DC Comics series with the conclusion in March of the title’s five-part tie-in to “Forever Evil.”
“It’s just for ‘Forever Evil’ and then I’m done,” Kindt told Comic Book Resources. “It’s one of the things I’m scaling back on, because I don’t have time. It’s driving me crazy to do so much. I knew I could do a finite amount of time on that and do it well, but I can’t sustain it for that long and make it good, still — ‘for sure’ good. There’s a chance it could be good. I told my editor, ‘At a certain point, it’s just going to be like flipping a coin — it could turn out all right or not, depending on how I’m feeling that day.’ It’s better to take a little bit of time off and recharge my batteries.
Kindt, who also writes DC’s Justice League of America, certainly has a full plate, although increasingly at other publishers: In addition to his critically acclaimed spy series Mind MGMT, he has the four-issue Star Wars: Rebel Heist and the original graphic novel Poppy! in the works at Dark Horse. He’s also writing the new Valiant Entertainment series Unity, and a smattering of smaller projects for Marvel.
Kindt’s tenure on Suicide Squad was announced in July with the release of DC’s October solicitations, which signaled the abrupt departure of Kot after just four issues. The publisher hasn’t revealed who will follow Kindt.
A Centaur’s Life, Vol. 1 (Seven Seas): Easily the weirdest comic I read this month, Kei Murayama’s manga is about an alternate world where everything is the exact same as it is in ours, save for the fact that there are multiple races like centaurs, angel folk, goat folk, cat folk, dragon people and so on. Oh, and while human beings apparently still exist, the only one glimpsed is a medieval knight seen in flashback, having enslaved a centaur is some bizarre armor/restraining device in order to ride him.
What makes the manga so weird, however, is that there doesn’t seem to be any reason, at least not in this first volume, for why our heroine Himeno is a centaur, and why her classmates are all various fantasy races living out an otherwise completely mundane existence.
Himeno is a sweet, shy, pretty and popular Japanese schoolgirl (who is also a centaur). She’s afraid of boys, likes hanging out with her friends, and love sweets, although she worries about getting fat. The stories are mostly of the frivolous high-school comedy sort that could easily have been told with human characters.
In the first story, Himeno is self-conscious about her genitals, which she’s never looked at, as she’s afraid they might resemble those of a cow the kids once saw on a field trip (unlike some centaurs, the ones in this comic keep their horse parts covered in elaborate pants that appear difficult to put on and take off). In another, her class puts on a play, and she’s cast as the female lead, while her best friend — a girl with bat wings, a spade-shaped tail and pointy ears — is the male lead. In another, she’s suspected of doing some modeling work, in violation of school policy regarding part-time jobs.
When the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 invaded and seemingly conquered Earth-New 52 in Forever Evil #1, claiming to have killed the members of the Justice Leagues, the home-Earth villains took over DC comics, scrawling their names over the logos of their foes and initiating other evil acts like using decimal points in their issue numbers and putting the wrong stories in the wrong titles. (A Dial H epilogue and a Lobo one-shot in Justice League comics? A Batgirl story in a Batman comic?). But, most nefariously of all, the villains of DC Comics raised the price of each issue by a dollar and launched one of the biggest gimmick covers schemes in the modern history of direct market super-comics: heavy, plastic, 3D lenticular covers primed to be collected more so than read, and sparking insidious speculation, goosed my unpredictable shortages to many retailers. The monsters.
But while most attention has been focused on the covers, there are, in fact, stories beneath them, and so for the past three weeks we’ve been not judging the books by their covers, but by their contents. (Here’s Week One, Week Two and Week Three, if you missed ‘em.) As in the previous months, I’ve been ranking the books on their overall quality, on a scale of one to 10: Not Very Good, Somewhat Disobedient, Naughty, Morally Deficient, Without Scruples, Iniquitous, Wicked, Maleficent, Evil and Absolute Evil (although, as none received a perfect 10, you might want to adjust your reception of my ratings up by one).
Also, and perhaps more importantly, I’ve been noting how connected each is to the Forever Evil event that ostensibly led to this state of affairs at DC, so, if you’re only interested in these things for their narrative import rather than their creators or characters, you’ll know which are worth your attention. So let’s take one last wallow in the evil of (almost) every issue of this week’s Villains Month, and hope for the swift and triumphant return of our heroes starting next month.
Just a few months after unleashing a talking goat cover to Quantum and Woody #1, Valiant has revealed another unconventional, QR-activated variant: the “8-Bit Evolution Variant” to November’s Unity #1.
Valiant calls it the “first fully animated 8-bit cover,” although it’s really a two-and-a-half-minute animated short that can be viewed on a mobile device via a code found on the cover — or watched right now. The clip gives background on the book’s main characters — X-O Manowar, Toyo Harada, Eternal Warrior, Ninjak and Livewire — in the distinctly whimsical 8-bit style, which Valiant has used before on a series of covers. The video was produced in partnership with YouTube channel CineFix, as part of its “8-Bit Cinema” series.
Unity #1, written by Matt Kindt and illustrated by Doug Braithwaite, is scheduled for release on Nov. 13.
DC Comics kicked off its Villains Month last week, as the evil opposites of the Justice League invaded the DC Universe, seemingly disposing of all the heroes and taking over the world.
Likewise, the villains have been taking over DC’s New 52 line of comic books, with the MIA heroes finding the covers of their books occupied by bad guys. Those are, of course, the collectible and somewhat-controversial (among retailers) 3D lenticular covers.
But as the case with books, we shouldn’t judge a comic by its cover, so let’s continue reviewing our way through the contents of the Villains Month issues. As with last week’s batch, I’m rating each book on a 10-point scale of how evil it is, with “Not Very Good” being the worst and “Absolute Evil” the best, and noting its connectivity to the Forever Evil crossover event that sparked the promotion in the first place.
Boutique home video distributor Criterion commissioned Samuel Hiti (Los Tiempos Finales, Death-Day) and a list of other great comics artists to create artwork for the individual films in the company’s box set for the long-running Zatoichi series starring Shintaro Katsu as a blind, but incredibly quick and accurate swordsman. Hiti designed the cover for Zatoichi the Fugitive, the fourth in the series.
Twenty-five Zatoichi films were produced between 1962 and 1973, making it the longest-running action series in Japanese history. There was also a four-season TV series in the late ’70s. The Criterion box set collects those first 25 feature films in one package for the first time, but doesn’t include 1989’s Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, written and directed by Shintaro Katsu himself.