"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
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]
Let’s not mince words, the online presence of Tom Brevoort has provided hours of great reading for Robot 6 readers. Given his constant and unflagging willingness to interact with consumers via social media, Brevoort is a quote machine (His Twitter bio? “A man constantly on the verge of saying something stupid–for your entertainment!?”). There’s always a directness (some would say bluntness) to his manner online–making him the ideal subject for an interview. Last year saw Marvel promote Brevoort to senior vice president for publishing. 2011 was a year of some major successes for Marvel, as well as a year where some hard business decisions were made. In this interview, conducted in mid-December via email, I tried to cover a great deal of ground (we even briefly discuss DC’s New 52 success)–and Brevoort did not hold back on any of his answers. For that, I am extremely grateful. Like any high profile comics executive, Brevoort has his fans and his critics (and many in between), but I like to think this exchange offers some perspectives everyone can enjoy.
Tim O’Shea: Whether it’s in your job description or not, fan outreach via social media is definitely part of your job–clearly by your own choice. What benefit or enjoyment do you get from interacting with the fans/consumers?
Tom Brevoort: I’m not sure that I get a particular benefit, except maybe just being the center of attention for a few minutes—maybe everything I do is motivated by ego! I’m a whore for the spotlight! But I started doing this kind of outreach back in the formative days of internet fandom, largely because I like the idea of internet fandom. I know that, if the internet had existed when I was a young comic book reader, I’d have been on those message boards and in those chat rooms all the time, obsessively—just like a certain portion of the audience today. So I like the idea of giving back, of being accessible enough that anybody who has a question or a concern knows where to find me, or at least to find somebody with an insider’s track who might have the background and knowledge to speak to their point. In a very real way, it’s all an outgrowth of what Stan Lee did in his letters pages and Bullpen pages. Joe Q, I think, was really the first person to perfect that approach for the internet age. As EIC he was incredibly available to the audience in a myriad of ways. It’s a philosophy that’s very much woven into our DNA at Marvel. And for the most part, our fans are interesting, vibrant, cool people, especially when you meet them in person.
I checked in with comiXology CEO David Steinberger, and he said the discounted collections are available only through the Marvel app. A number of other publishers, including Archaia, IDW, and Image, are already doing this, and Steinberger expects to see more: “This is a great value to the consumer, both from it being a bit cheaper than the individual issues and from the fact that they are complete story arcs in a convenient form,” he said.
In related news, the debut of MIles Morales in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 broke the record for the most digital sales on the day of release—although since Marvel isn’t releasing any numbers, it’s hard to know exactly what that means.
His costume is already set to appear next month in the Spider-Man: Edge of Time video game, but Miles Morales will follow that with a Minimate of his very own.
The new Ultimate Spider-Man will join Diamond Select Toys’ line of Marvel Minimates next summer with a 2-inch figure that comes with two heads a removable mask, so you can showcase the character with or without his identity concealed. There’s also a “webline accessory.” The figure will be available exclusively at Toys “R” Us in a two-pack with a classic Spider-Man villain that will be revealed later.
Last Wednesday a first issue relaunched an entirely new take on a classic character, and it didn’t have a DC Comics logo. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1, by Brian Michael Bendis, Sarah Pichelli and Justin Ponsor may not have been the first appearance of Miles Morales, but it did give us a glimpse into his world and what makes him tick.
Since Morales’ new role as the web-slinger in the Ultimate Universe was announced, he’s been met with attention and controversy both inside and outside the comic world. But now that his comic has actually come out, what are people saying about it? Here’s just a sampling of what people are saying about Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1:
James Hunt, Comic Book Resources: “In a month when readers have been prompted to think about the craft of the first issue (courtesy of DC Comics) “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” #1 makes it look easy, striking a strong balance between showing what readers need to know and teasing what might come later. Most importantly, what the issue lacks in costumed antics, it makes up for with character. It’s only the second time we’ve seen Miles Morales on the page, but already we’re starting to see how his background and outlook differ from Peter Parker’s. It suggests that we’re going to see a Spider-Man quite different than the one we’re used to — but at the same time, it’s still one who you’ll want to read about next issue. A very conventional start to the series, but in the Ultimate line in particular, that’s exactly what it should be.”
“It would have been nice if we were past certain places in people’s hearts about race. That kind of surprised me. There was a lot of veiled weirdness. What I could completely appreciate is, ‘I love Peter Parker as Spider-Man, what the hell are you doing?’ Completely with you on that. When it goes into that area where they think it’s affirmative action, or like Glenn Beck said about Michelle Obama making us do this, that was weird. I did not expect that. What I was more mad about was this dismissive, ‘Oh, it’s only a comic book, who cares?’ thing that was coming out of Glenn Beck. I’m like, ‘Hey. Now you’re making me mad. This isn’t just a comic. This is pop art, man. This is our culture. How dare you, sir!'”
DC Comics continues its promotional assault in the press to push “The New 52″ to a mainstream audience, with the theme this week, apparently, being diversity. At least four stories this week — three of which were posted Wednesday — tackled the subject and put the spotlight on Static Shock, Batwing and more. Here are some of the highlights:
• The Huffington Post previewed the first issue of Judd Winick and Ben Oliver’s Batwing yesterday, the same day it arrived in shops. Winick spoke to Bryan Young about the origins of Africa’s Batman: “… if you consider that we’re coming from a starting place that this is a Batman who lost his parents to AIDS and was a boy soldier. That’s square one for us. In the first couple of pages Batwing is talking about the fact that one of the things Batman has to do is instill fear. And Batwing points out that he’s not really sure that a man dressed up as a bat is really going to scare the average criminal in Africa. Batman just tells him that ‘you’re just going to have to sell it.’ And that’s the point, it’s a different world.” An unabridged version of the interview can be found at Big Shiny Robot.
Marvel is offering a special deal for retailers on Ultimate Fallout #4, which is the first appearance of the new Ultimate Spider-Man, Miles Morales — order 5,000 copies, receive a full page ad for their store in “upcoming Marvel comic books.”
The notice is posted on Diamond’s retailer website and says that the deal can apply to orders for both the first or second printing of the comic, “or any combination of the two.” And orders must be placed between Aug. 25 and Aug. 29. Retailers who qualify will also receive one Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 Pichelli Sketch Variant, which is limited to just 20 copies total.
Here’s the text, which doesn’t offer many details on where exactly the ad will appear:
Order 5,000 copies of Ultimate Comics Fallout #4 (JUN110611D) or Ultimate Comics Fallout #4 Second Printing Bagley Variant (JUN118244D) — or any combination of the two — from August 25 through August 29, and you will receive a free full page ad for your store in upcoming Marvel comic books, either of your design or designed along with Marvel. Qualifying retailers will be contacted by Marvel to coordinate design of the ad.
Plus, you will get a free, extremely rare Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 Pichelli Sketch Variant, limited to a print run of 20 total copies. This offer is on a first-come, first-served basis as supplies are limited.
But wait! There’s more. According to the notice, “One good variant deserves another, especially when it comes to the much-discussed, high profile comic that is Ultimate Comics Fallout #4.” So Marvel is also offering retailers one free copy of the Ultimate Comics Fallout #4 Second Printing Sara Pichelli Variant for every copy of Ultimate Comics Fallout #4 Second Printing Mark Bagley Variant they ordered. That’s two second printings for the price of one.
You have to wonder what drove this special deal — did they overprint and are now trying to move copies with the reward? Or is this the first salvo in the upcoming fall chart wars that DC’s 52 new issues will likely ignite? As noted earlier this week, the first issue of DC’s relaunched Justice League has garnered initial orders of more than 200,000. The figure will make Justice League #1 the bestselling direct market comic of the year, knocking Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #160 and its 168,000 copies out of the top spot. Could this help push Ultimate Fallout #4 up to those numbers? And it’s only August — the real action should begin in September, which not only brings 51 more first issues from DC, but also Ultimate Spider-Man #1. It should be an interesting fall for chart watchers.
Ultimate Fallout #4 came out Aug. 3. A second printing is due Aug. 31. You can find a screenshot of Diamond’s site after the jump.
Comics | David Brothers argues that the problem with Miles Morales is that he is being defined as “the black Spider-Man” rather than simply “Spider-Man”: “Miles Morales is notable for being the first black Spider-Man, particularly in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, but it isn’t his blackness that makes him special. It’s the fact that he’s not Peter Parker. The fact that he’s half-black, half-Puerto Rican, (and how cool would it be if his dad was a dark skinned Puerto Rican and his mom was light skinned black?!), that it looks like he’s taking part in a lottery to get into a good school in the preview images, and that he’s thirteen years old is just sauce. It’s not the meal. It’s part of the meal, sure, but you do yourself and the character (or rather, the concept, what the character represents, or something, because we do not respect characters ’round these parts) a disservice by boiling him down to “black Spider-Man.” He’s so much more than that, judging by the press run Marvel just went on, that breaking him down to being the black Spider-Man is… it’s garbage, it’s lazy, it’s stupid.” [4thletter!]
If you were perplexed by some of the negative reaction to the news that half-black, half-Hispanic (but not gay) teen Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, veteran cartoonist Ty Templeton helpfully explains it all in the latest installment of his Bun Toons comic strip.
Comics | In a post subtitled “Why the new biracial Spider-Man matters,” David Betancourt shares his reaction to the news that the new Ultimate Spider-Man is half-black, half-Latino: “The new Ultimate Spider-Man, who will have the almost impossible task of replacing the late Peter Parker (easily one of Marvel Comics most popular characters), took off his mask and revealed himself to be a young, half-black, half-Latino kid by the name of Miles Morales. When I read the news, I was beside myself, as if my brain couldn’t fully process the revelation. My friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was … just like me? This is a moment I never thought I’d see. But the moment has arrived, and I — the son of Puerto Rican man who passed his love of comics to me, and a black woman who once called me just to say she’d met Adam West — will never forget that day.”
Next Media Animation, the Taiwanese studio responsible for offbeat animated explanations of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and The Dark Knight Rises teaser, has moved quickly to address the announcement of a half-black, half-Latino Spider-Man. But NMA wants to know why Spider-Man couldn’t be Asian “or, better yet, Taiwanese.”
“There are few well-known Asian superheroes,” the narrator says. “The most recent was Kato in The Green Hornet, which bombed at the box office. Asians traditionally have been portrayed as villains, such as Fu Manchu characters or dastardly dragon ladies. Asia’s time in the superhero spotlight is long overdue. What are you waiting for, Marvel?”
As sometimes happens when comic-book story developments become mainstream-media sensations, the official announcement yesterday that Marvel’s new Ultimate Spider-Man is a biracial teen named Miles Morales has turned into a game of Telephone, with information added and dropped as the message goes along.
It didn’t take long for London’s Daily Mail to jump from Spider-Man has a half-black, half-Latino teen to a half-black, half-Latino teen … who “could be gay in the future”: “Fans will have to wait until the official Spider Man relaunch next month to find out how he came to be the superhero. But another surprise could be in the pipeline after his creators said that in the future they would not rule out making him gay.”
As best as I can tell, the sole basis for that is a quote from USA Today in which Ultimate Spider-Man artist Sara Pichelli says, “Maybe sooner or later a black or gay — or both — hero will be considered something absolutely normal.” It’s not exactly the same thing, is it? Doesn’t matter, though, as it’s good enough for Matt Drudge to declare that the Spider-Man “reincarnation” “could be gay.”
For the record, a Marvel spokesman was unambiguous when he confirmed for CBR News that Miles Morales isn’t gay.
Still, a blogger for the gay magazine Instinct is pleased with the possibility, writing that “though my money was on Robin as the first mainstream superhero to come out, I’ll be nothing but in awe if Marvel makes the great webbed one bat, err, spider, for our team!”
Meanwhile, Glenn Beck has weighed in on the new Spider-Man, saying, “Do I care if he’s half-Hispanic, all Hispanic? No. Half-black, half — I really don’t care. Half-gay, all gay, I don’t really care. … I don’t care. It’s a stupid comic book.” However, what he does care about is that … Michelle Obama is somehow — somehow! — behind the “half-black, half-Hispanic gay Spider-Man.”
“New York City’s black and Latino residents comprise the majority of the population, and it is, after all, the blurring of those two regional cultures that produced the most important artistic movement in popular culture of the past 30 years. Yet despite the proliferation of New York superheroes, that culture has been largely absent from comics. There’s something fitting about the new Spider-Man being the kind of kid who has to worry about hiding his web-shooters from the odd stop-and-frisk search.”
– Adam Serwer of The American Prospect,
on Marvel’s introduction of Miles Morales as the new (Ultimate) Spider-Man