Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
Nothing can bring quite as big a smile to my face as reading the words “Donald Glover to play Spider-Man.” Sure, sure, it’s voice work for a cartoon. However, the unlikelihood of this announcement struck me with the same amusement and bonhomie as hearing that, say, Community was going to be renewed for a sixth season.
Jon Stewart kicked off last night’s episode of The Daily Show with coverage the weekend scuffle in Times Square between New York City police and a man dressed as Ultimate Spider-Man. Hey, if the New York Post can put the story on the front page, The Daily Show can lead with it.
The webslinger, one of numerous costumed characters (several of whom are dress as Spider-Man), was reportedly confronted by an officer after he demanded at least $5 from a family for posing for a photo. Police say when the wall-crawler cursed at the officer and told him to mind his own business — and when the cop moved in to arrest him, things got heated.
With a front page that rivals anything J. Jonah Jameson has published, the New York Post trumpeted the news Sunday that Spider-Man struck a police officer in the face during an altercation in Times Square. Or, if you prefer “Times Square rampage.”
Interestingly, after countless crimes (allegedly, in some cases) committed in the past couple of years by guys dressed as the Peter Parker-variety Spider-Man — groping a woman, punching a tourist, robbing convenience stores, fighting two Captains America, etc. — this may be the first that involves someone dressed as Miles Morales/Ultimate Spider-Man.
Perhaps more interesting — and certainly more amusing — is that the New York Police Department referred the suspect, 25-year-old Junior Bishop of Brooklyn, as “Spider-Man” throughout its press release. Also: The incident was caught on video, which you can watch below. (Note: It contains profanity.)
Welcome to Best of 7, our new weekly wrap-up post here at Robot 6. Each Sunday we’ll talk about, as it says above, “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out. I should also note that we skipped last Sunday after being exhausted from all our anniversary content, so you may see an item or two slip in from last week.
So without further ado, let’s get to it …
Digital comics | Viz Media announced Wednesday it has brought its entire library to iBooks. Viz manga are already available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo and its own app, so this pretty much completes the set. [ICv2]
Crime | Manga creator Takaaki Kubo was arrested Tuesday on charges of threatening a city councilor in the town of Amagasaki. Kubo, whose series Bakune Young was published in North America in the early 2000s by Viz Media, was arrested after police traced a threatening e-mail message to his home computer. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Art Spiegelman has been the subject of four retrospectives so far this year, the latest at the Jewish Museum in New York. Charles McGrath talks to him about what he calls “The Great Retrospection,” as well as his tobacco addiction and, oh yeah, comics. [The New York Times]
Creators | Stan Lee, characterized by CNN as “the Godfather of comic book heroes,” is modest about his own achievements in a new interview: “If my publisher hadn’t said ‘let’s do superhero stories’ I’d probably still be doing A Kid Called Outlaw, The Two Gun Kid or Millie the Model or whatever I was doing at the time.” He reflects on the increased female audience for comics and discusses some new projects, including a new superhero, The Annihilator, created specifically for a Chinese audience. [CNN]
Comics| Chris Huntington reflects on the importance of Miles Morales for children of color, like his son: “… To see Spider-Man pulling his mask over a tiny brown chin – to see a boy with short curly hair sticking to the ceiling of his bedroom— well, something happened. Dagim has been Spider-Man for two Halloweens in a row. He takes a bath with his Spider-Man and a toy killer whale. He has Spider-Man toothpaste and a Spider-Man toothbrush. If Spider-Man offered medical coverage, I think he would want that, too. My son somehow understands that there is a Peter Parker Spider-Man, who is vaguely grown-up and my age, and a younger Spider-Man, closer to his age. That’s just how Dagim likes it. He even understands that Peter Parker — like Superman, like Batman – wasn’t raised by his birth parents. The best superheroes were all adopted like him.” [The New York Times]
Graphic novels | The top-selling graphic novel in bookstores in February was the 60th volume of Naruto, according to Nielsen BookScan; four other manga made the chart as well. Actually, it’s an interestingly eclectic mix, with eight volumes of The Walking Dead, the first volume of Saga, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, and Chris Ware’s Building Stories making the list, as well as The Book of Revelation from religious publisher Zondervan. Marvel was entirely absent, but two of DC’s New 52 collections appearing. [ICv2]
Comics | Former DC Comics President Paul Levitz talks about the new edition of 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Myth-Making, which has been broken out into five volumes and expanded to include more art and an additional creator interview in every volume; the first volume, The Golden Age of DC Comics, is out now. Levitz also touches on the history of the company, the importance of characters, and the impact of young readers on the early comics: “It wasn’t adults tending to what they wanted their child to read or libraries selecting. It was the kids of America who said I love Uncle Scrooge as its done by Carl Barks, I love the Superman comics that are coming from Mort Weisinger’s team at DC, I love the Marvel comics that Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko are creating. And they really got to choose those things that became trendsetters in the culture and ultimately leading to the massive success of the superhero movies in more recent years.” [Complex Art + Design]
One of the most interesting things about the big plot development in this week’s Amazing Spider-Man #700 isn’t its effects on the Marvel Universe, or even fan reaction, but rather the lengths mainstream media outlets go to find a different angle for their coverage of the story. Take, for instance, CNN, which paired an interview with writer Dan Slott and editor Steve Wacker with a rundown of “13 comics that caused controversy, ranging from DC’s reintroduction of Alan Scott as a gay man and Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s recent abortion storyline to Superman’s renouncement of his U.S. citizenship (I’d already forgotten about that) to the tea party dust-up over Captain America #602.
Comics | Green Lantern writer Geoff Johns talks with The Wall Street Journal about the introduction this week of the newest member of the Green Lantern Corps Simon Baz, an Arab-American Muslim from Dearborn, Michigan: “As fantastic as the concept of Green Lantern is of an intergalactic police force, the comic has had a history of grounding in the now and dealing with modern characters and concepts and Simon Baz is that. I wanted to create a character that everyday Americans have to deal with. When 9/11 hit, he was 10-years-old. His family was devastated, just like every other American. He’s grown up in that world. It’s just part of the daily life, the new normal.” [Speakeasy]
Comics | The new Spider-Man, Miles Morales, reaches a key moment in Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #14, when Aunt May gives him Peter Parker’s web-shooters and the formula for for his web fluid. Writer Brian Michael Bendis explains why he waited so long to pass along the iconic tools: “‘This is like Excalibur. This is it. This is like being bequeathed the sword,’ Bendis says. ‘But, young Miles and (his friend) Ganke trying to figure out how to make web fluid is going to be my favorite stuff to write ever in the history of writing of anything. Just because someone gives you a formula and says, “Here, cook this,” doesn’t mean you can.'” [USA Today]
Losing your identity is terrifying. Hearing the story about the Wired writer who lost his digital life through an Apple and Amazon security flaw had me changing my passwords instantly, and I don’t even have an AppleID. It’s weird how much of ourselves we offer to people, and yet that sense of self is probably one of the most precious things we have. When confused or uncertain, not having a clear idea of who we are can make simple decisions, such as what you wear, or more complicated ones, like whether to take a better job, crippling. Gaining a sense of identity is a crucial step in being a teenager and that uncertain feeling can last all the way until adulthood. Maybe that’s the reason we take solace in superhero stories; the reassurance of an alter ego, the mystery of deceiving appearances, the sense of satisfaction in doing the right thing and the defeat in wondering if it really was right to begin with.
Spider-Men watches Peter Parker struggle through identity issues in a much more literal sense. Sent to the alternate “Ultimate” universe, he’s instantly confronted with who he was (a teenage superhero rather than the man he is now), who he is (a grateful New Yorker knows the man behind the Spider-Man mask right off the bat), and who he could be (a dead man). It’s rough, but we take it in the gut alongside Peter Parker, thanks to the skillful writing of Brian Michael Bendis and the incredible art stylings of Sara Pichelli, both of whom really bring the story into your brain and let it soak in all the emotional juices. But what will happen next? Issue 4 came out this week, and we only have one issue left before Peter Parker is sent back to his own universe, hopefully a little wiser and better off for his stay, but what will he leave in his wake? I’m going to talk about that and some bullet points about Spider-Men #4.
WARNING: Yep, I’m going to talk about Spider-Men #4 below, so grab your copy and read along!
This past Wednesday saw the release of a comic we were told would never happen — a crossover between Marvel’s original universe and the newer, shinier Ultimate universe. Spider-Men #1, by Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli, Justin Ponsor and Cory Petit, features a team-up between the original Peter Parker and his namesake, Miles Morales, who took the mantle in the Ultimate universe last fall.
So what was the reaction to the first issue? Here are a few opinions from around the web.
James Hunt, Comic Book Resources: “For all his work on the Ultimate version of Peter Parker, it’s surprisingly rare to see Bendis writing the Marvel Universe Spider-Man in anything approaching a starring role. Spider-Man may be a constant presence in Bendis’ Marvel Universe titles, but only ever as a supporting character. It probably isn’t intentional, except as a measure to avoid diluting Peter Parker’s voice between the two comic lines, but it’s worked out for the best. To have Brian Bendis inside the head of the ‘real’ Peter Parker in Spider-Men #1 gives the issue an immediate air of significance. Even before anything’s happened, we know it’s something special.”
Princeless, the all-ages comic about a princess who’s tired of waiting to be rescued, led the 2012 Glyph Comics Awards, taking home honors for story of the year, best writer and best female character. The awards, which recognize “the best in comics made by, for, and about people of color from the preceding calendar year,” were presented this weekend at the 11th annual East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in Philadelphia.
The winners are:
Story of the year: Princeless, by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin (Action Lab Entertainment)
Best writer: Jeremy Whitley, Princeless (Action Lab Entertainment)
Best artist: Sara Pichelli, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (Marvel)
Best cover: Chew #27, Rob Guillory (Image Comics)
Best male character: Miles Morales, Ultimate Spider-Man; Brian Michael Bendis, writer, Sara Pichelli, artist; inspired by the character created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (Marvel)
Best female character: Adrienne, Princeless; created by Jeremy Whitley, writer, and M. Goodwin, artist (Action Lab Entertianment)
Rising star award for best self-publisher: Whit Taylor, Watermelon
Best comic strip or webcomic: Fungus Grotto, by Ms. Shatia Hamilton
Publishers, creators, retailers and fans rolled into Chicago this weekend for the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo, or C2E2. While the convention officially kicked off Friday, the announcements started rolling out Thursday during the Diamond Retailer Summit. After going through Kiel Phegley’s lengthy report on CBR, I’ve pulled out a few tidbits that publishers shared with attending retailers:
• Dynamite Entertainment shared that the first issue of Garth Ennis and Aaron Campbell’s The Shadow, which comes out next week, will likely go to second print. Following their Vampirella and Pantha projects, they also plan to roll out more of the former Harris Publications characters they now own, and they said they plan to work again with Kevin Smith in the future, who they’ve worked with on Bionic Man and Green Hornet.
• Dark Horse Comics announced two Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff miniseries; one featuring Spike and one featuring Willow (Editor Scott Allie spoke more about them with CBR). In addition, legendary artist Russ Heath will draw some pages in an upcoming issue of Buffy. Dark Horse will launch a new Dragon Age series in August, following the online miniseries that’s been running on Dark Horse Digital. They also confirmed that Becky Cloonan will return to Conan after James Harren’s three issues, and they announced Ex Sanguine, a five-issue miniseries by Tim Seeley and Josh Emmons. Finally, The Goon will go monthly with issue #40.
Creators | Alex Zalben talks to James Robinson about his rebooted version of DC Comics’ Justice Society in Earth 2, and the process of creating a world of one’s own: “It always starts with certain plot points that immediately come to you, and you always want those moments to happen at some point, and you work towards them. There are some characters that come to you almost fully formed in your mind, and those are you anchors. And same with the world, there are some aspects of the world that you say, this is what I want to do, here or there, or there. They’re the anchors, and you slowly begin to add the other pieces so it links, and forms, and becomes a whole tapestry.” [MTV Geek]
Creators | Geoff Johns talks about the new, more nuanced version of Billy Batson that he and artist Gary Frank are creating in the Shazam back-up stories in Justice League: “Billy is trouble, but trouble in a way that I think we’ll find understandable, relatable and fun. He has a heart, a big one, but he also has a protective shell around it. He’s mischievous, independent and strong. He’s conflicted, tough and sad. And many other things. For us, Billy had to be as complex and as interesting as his alter ego.” [Hero Complex]
Publishing | Jennifer de Guzman announced that, after 10 years, she has left her position as editor-in-chief of SLG Publishing: “My decade SLG was, I suspect, like no other decade anyone has spent working anywhere. I had great co-workers and got to work with fantastic creators, all of whom I will miss very much. (Though because this is comics and a community like no other, we will always stay in contact.)” [Possible Impossibilities]
Retailing | Chris Powell, current general manager and chief relationship officer for Texas-based comic chain Lone Star Comics, has accepted the newly created position of executive director of business development for Diamond Comic Distributors. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund board member will start his new position in March. [ICv2]