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What’s under the Red Hood? Well, see for yourself

Red Hood and the Outlaws #2

While there’s already been plenty of discussion online about Starfire’s shrinking, and improbable, costume on Kenneth Rocafort’s cover for Red Hood and the Outlaws #2, a commenter on the Comic Book Resources message board noticed that the fan service doesn’t stop there.

Peel your eyes away from Starfire’s gravity-defying brassiere and allow them to travel up the image — click to enlarge — at, oh, a 70-degree angle. Keeping going. To your left, but leaning to the Red Hood’s right. Once you see it, you won’t be able to un-see it … there you go! In case you ever wondered why Jason Todd didn’t don those tiny green shorts again following his resurrection, there’s your answer.

“Clearly the explosion had an adverse effect on his anatomy,” wrote Free-Man, who made the initial catch. “Or just really tight leather pants. I dunno.” Replied thewhtGuardian: “Either way it explains his anger, I’d want to take a sword to somebody too if my junk was all contorted.”

Red Hood and the Outlaws #2 is due in stores on Oct. 19. You’ll probably want to pre-order this issue, though, because as commenter Jake V noted, “DC knows what Jason fans really want.”

DC Comics announces Comic-Con panel schedule

DC Comics

DC Comics has released its programming schedule for Comic-Con International in San Diego that, unsurprisingly, focuses heavily on the publisher’s September line-wide relaunch with a “New 52″ panel planned each day of the July 21-24 convention. The relaunch will reach beyond those four presentations, of course, and into panels devoted to the Batman, Superman, Justice League and Green Lantern families of titles.

There’s also a July 24 panel called “Designing the New DCU,” featuring Co-Publisher Jim Lee, Vice President-Art & Design Mark Chiarello and artist Cully Hamner.

Check out the full DC schedule after the break.

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First look at Adam Hughes’ cover for Batgirl #2

Batgirl #2, by Adam Hughes

Late last night Adam Hughes unveiled his cover for October’s Batgirl #2, featuring a rather youthful Barbara Gordon, writing on Twitter: “My cover to @GailSimone ‘s BATGIRL#2, coming in October! Read this comic cos Batgirl’s way cuter than Batman!”

But why does Barbara look like she stepped out of the pages of Year One? That’s what Batgirl fans would like to know!

“She looks like she’s MAYBE 15, holy crap,” be-themoon wrote in the comments of DC Women Kicking Ass. “What was that about a more seasoned, nuanced character, DC? Part of me is tired of even bothering to care about what idiocy DC is getting up to next right now.”

Foxforsale offered: “Very young! Maybe its a flashback? They’ll probably be doing lots of those to establish her history with new readers … and to be nostalgic … they fucking love nostalgia.”

Comics A.M. | DC’s Flashpoint-New 52 link; Borders warns off investors

Flashpoint #3

Comics | Flashpoint editor Eddie Berganza talks to USA Today about the midpoint of DC’s big summer event series and how it might tie into the September relaunch: “They’re starting to figure out where these 52 are coming from, and it’s staring them right in the face with Flashpoint. A lot of the concepts, a lot of the ideas, they’re cropping up within the pages. You have a book called Frankenstein in the Flashpoint world, and guess what, we’re doing Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE. You’ll see a couple of other background players start showing up that become more important as we go into September.” [USA Today]

Retailing | Borders Group warned investors on Tuesday against buying any more of the company’s stock as it soon could be worthless. If a federal bankruptcy court approves the $215-million opening bid submitted last week, the bookseller would become a subsidiary of the privately held Direct Brands, owner of the Book of the Month Club and Columbia House, meaning stock will no longer be traded. [The Detroit News]

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Quote of the day | DC on Barbara Gordon, Batgirl and continuity

Batgirl #1

“Some yes, some no. But many of the great stories remain. For example — Batgirl. The Killing Joke still happened and she was Oracle. Now she will go through physical rehabilitation and become a more seasoned and nuanced character because she had these incredible and diverse experiences.”

– from DC Comics’ “The New 52 and You” email sent to retailers,
addressing whether the publisher’s September relaunch will “undo events or continuity”

‘The New 52 and You,’ and the dreaded R-word

Action Comics #1

If there are any lingering concerns that DC Comics’ sweeping September relaunch — re-branded this week as “The New 52″ — is actually a reboot, the publisher is working doggedly to stomp them out, tackling the issue head on this morning in an email to retailers.

Titled “The New 52 and You,” the message from Senior Vice President-Sales Bob Wayne wades into the thorny issues of continuity, devoting three of the email’s 10 “general” questions specifically to why the initiative isn’t the dreaded R-word. It’s familiar territory for Wayne, who insisted to those same retailers in early June what the New DCU is not. “It is not a ‘reboot,’” he wrote at the time. “I think you will soon discover why that is.”

Why that is, Wayne now explains, is that “a reboot is typically a restart of the story or character that jettisons away everything that happened previously.” That probably amounts to hair-splitting, if not a convenient redefinition of the term, but okay.

“This is a new beginning which builds off the best of the past,” he continues. “For the stories launching as new #1s in September, we have carefully hand-selected the most powerful and pertinent moments in these characters’ lives and stories to remain in the mythology and lore. And then we’ve asked the best creators in the industry to modernize, update and enhance the books with new and exciting tales. The result is that we retained the good stuff, and then make it better.”

The same argument probably could have been put forward in 1986, with the conclusion of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which restarted characters like Superman and Wonder Woman, wiped others out of existence and left still others relatively untouched (but caused many, many problems down the road; see Wonder Girl, Justice League and Justice Society history and the All-Star Squadron, for starters). Similarly, 1994’s Zero Hour scrapped Legion of Super-Heroes continuity, monkeyed with the various Hawkman characters, and changed aspects of Batman’s and Catwoman’s origins while leaving the most powerful and pertinent moments in these characters’ lives.

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DC’s ‘New 52′ web page inadvertently reveals names of original writers

The original Supergirl listing on DC Comics' "The New 52" landing page (courtesy ComicsAlliance)

We’ve known for a few weeks now that some writers were attached to titles in DC Comics’ upcoming relaunch, only to find themselves shuffled off even as the official announcement was made. While some creators have spoken openly about the hurried, and somewhat-confused, pitch and rejection process, the names of other writers, and the corresponding titles, have been a mystery.

But with the launch last night of the publisher’s new landing page for “DC Comics: The New 52,” ComicsAlliance discovered that some of the original creators were, at least briefly, listed among the issue descriptions, providing evidence of the original plans. There’s confirmation of Brian Wood, instead of Michael Green and Mike Johnson, on Supergirl, Michael Alan Nelson, rather than Ron Marz, on Voodoo, and Simon Spurrier and an undetermined artist, rather than Paul Jenkins and Bernard Chang, on DC Universe Presents.

C.O. Austen, whom ComicsAlliance theorizes might be much-criticized Uncanny X-Men writer Chuck Austen, was also listed on Blackhawks, in place of Mike Costa, who actually ended up with the gig.

DC has made the corrections this morning, but ComicsAlliance has the screencaps from last night.

Quote of the day | The Odd Future of the anti-DC Comic-Con protest

The Justice League (left), Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All

The Justice League (left), Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All

“Art needs to be challenged via critique, not marching in the streets. Art ‘protesters’ have lost the battle before they even start fighting.”

Music critic Eric Harvey on the planned San Diego Comic-Con protest against the DC relaunch…Okay, not really — he’s actually talking about plans by various human rights organizations to picket performances by the so-hot-right-now hip-hop collective Odd Future over violent misogyny and homophobia in the group’s lyrics. But the principle is worth considering in either context, even one as relatively low-stakes and trivial as whether Superman should keep his red swim trunks. Personally I don’t buy the idea that physical protest is an invalid response to art you don’t like. It’s simply a critique via a different venue, isn’t it? If the goal is to cajole, shock, persuade or shame someone into the realization that what they’re doing (either by making a certain kind of art or consuming it) is unacceptable, I don’t think standing around with signs is any less appropriate a means to that end than writing a blog post.

Maybe if Tyler, the Creator wrote a new Lobo series we could hash this all out at once…

(via Jessica Hopper)

DC’s ‘New 52′ video promises relaunch as ‘the mother of all events’

Fans and retailers awaiting the final, polished pitch for DC Comics’ sweeping line-wide relaunch may be interested in “DC: The New 52,” a video presentation snagged by Bleeding Cool.

The two-and-a-half-minute video has closing arguments from Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras, Executive Editor Eddie Berganza and Action Comics writer Grant Morrison, all backed by sweeping shots of the cover art from many of the new titles. As you might expect, they ratchet up the excitement in their pitches, using “new” at least 14 times, “opportunity” four times, and “fresh” three times, focusing on the relaunch and same-day digital as a chance to attract new readers.

But Lee, who comes across as genuinely excited, is by far the most quotable of the five, with comments like, “This is a moment in history, for fans and retailers alike,” “We’re looking to grow the industry” and “We’re going to give them something that’s the mother of all events.”

Watch the video after the break.

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DC teases new comic logos — but who designed them?

Over the past week or so, DC Comics has been parceling out logos for some the titles in its line-wide relaunch, a process goosed along by a little enterprising URL farming by Bleeding Cool and others, and the release of the cover for the July issue of Previews.

So far we’ve seen logos for Demon Knights, The Fury of Firestorm, Justice League, Justice League Dark, OMAC, Resurrection Man, Stormwatch and Suicide Squad. But what we’ve yet to glimpse is a designer credit.

Demon Knights, Resurrection Man and Suicide Squad, in particular, look like the handiwork of talented artist Rian Hughes, the designer of such comic-book logos as Batman and Robin, Wednesday Comics, Captain Britain and MI13, Strange Tales and NYC Mech. I emailed Hughes last night to see whether any of the new DC logos are indeed his, but he’s yet to respond.

The Justice League logo bears a passing resemblance to Chip Kidd’s somewhat divisive designs for All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder and All-Star Superman, but that probably owes to the tilt on the Previews cover. It seems unlikely that Kidd, who created the cover treatments for Final Crisis and the logos for Trinity, handled Justice League.

Check out the released, and leaked, logos after the break. And please contribute any designer credits if you know them.

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Fans plan protest at Comic-Con against DC relaunch

DC Comics

A cadre of fans is organizing a walk at Comic-Con International in San Diego to protest the September relaunch of DC Comics’ superhero line.

Planned for Saturday, July 23, the DC Original Protest Walk is intended to bring together disenchanted readers in a show of solidarity against the sweeping overhaul, which will see the release of 52 new No. 1 issues, as well as changes to the origins and appearances of many of the publisher’s characters.

“Are you utterly baffled, disappointed and just ANGRY to see how DC ruins your favorite character’s design and wipes decades of comic history out of the mainstream universe?” reads a message on the event’s Facebook page. “Well, you’re not alone! And why not make some noise at the biggest pop-culture event this year, where creators, artists and writers appear in person — show them how fans – the fans of the classic characters, the (nevertheless slightly changing) designs, the character’s history and personality — really feel about it!”

So far, 130 people have signaled they plan to attend the hour-long protest, which begins at 2 p.m.


Quote of the day | Warren Ellis on DC, digital comics and direct market

Justice League #1

“It was in DC’s core DNA to protect and serve physical comics stores. To the point where every 18 months or so they’d pay for a hundred comics retailers to attend a special DC conference, where the retailers could moan at them for two days and then go home and order more Marvel comics. (In broad and crude terms, DC were the attentive suitor, while Marvel Comics treated retailers mean to keep them keen.) Now, there is a fascinating situation where DC will polybag special issues of JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 with a digital-comic download code, a book that will cost an extra dollar. Comics are done on firm sale. Which means, as far as I can see, that the retailer is being charged extra money on each copy of that edition too. Maybe I’m wrong, and comics retailers aren’t being offered a reach around while getting a mild pegging. But it’s an interesting kind of support. DC are offering support to retailers in other ways and are making sympathetic noises, but other quotes from this roadshow — one from Bob Wayne, DC’s head of sales, boiled down to ‘if you’re not selling enough of our comics you’re not doing your job’ — tend to suggest that someone at the company has realised that the comics retailers already have a girlfriend and never liked DC anyway.”

– writer Warren Ellis, holding court on DC Comics’ upcoming relaunch, its new digital strategy
and its long, and occasionally dysfunctional, courtship of direct-market retailers

Is DC Comics bringing an end to writing for the trade?

DC Comics

One of the most frequently criticized hallmarks of modern mainstream comics may be a thing of the past at DC Comics.

During a nearly four-hour meeting Friday in New York City, part of a nationwide push by top DC executives to sell direct market shops on the September relaunch, retailers were reportedly told that writers will no longer be expected to “write for the trade.” That means they won’t have to construct stories in, say, six-issue arcs to more easily fit the collected format.

“Writers have been told to write the story they want to write and not worry about the trade collecting,” Mike Gendreau of Modern Myths in Northampton, Mass., writes in a meticulous report to Bleeding Cool. ‘If they can tell a well-paced story in 4 issues, they’ve been told not to pad it to make it 6 issues. Editorial can worry about how it’s going to be collected.  Going forward, books will be trade-collected depending on how the story fits. If a book has a 4-issue arc followed by a 3 issue arc, the trade will collect both. If it’s 2 4-issue arcs or 3 2-issue stories, those will get collected. As a side note, DC is looking into a new trade dress to represent the New 52 and a better spine design to call out information for fans.”

Frequently lumped in with decompression, the practice of “writing for the trade” has often been the target of comics fans who accuse writers of stretching out a story that could be told in two or three issues to five or six simply to fill the trade paperback. Even veteran writer Chris Claremont, whose classic X-Men storylines sometimes bled into each other, criticized the modern tendency, telling Graphic NYC, “One problem for me, as a reader, that I see in the modern presentation of comics, is the evolution of things to trades. What you have now are five issue bursts. Why? Because everything’s going to go into trade. I find that counter-productive; I want the flexibility and luxury of being able to expand a story by an issue if it’s working well, or cut it by an issue if it’s not. I don’t want to sit there and be locked into a defined format, which would make it awful for me to be a TV writer.”

Who’s the mysterious 15th member of the Justice League?

Justice League, by Jim Lee

When an image of the full, 15-member lineup of DC Comics’ relaunched Justice League leaked over the weekend, discussion immediately turned to the identity of two of the four female characters.

The figure on the left, between Atom and Firestorm, was quickly pegged as Element Woman, a member of the Secret Seven who debuted in Flashpoint #1. But the character opposite her hasn’t been so easy. Speculation soon settled on Zealot from the WildStorm universe, Black Canary, Power Girl — fan blog DC Women Kicking Ass has head shot comparisons — and even the monster-hunting Miranda Shrieve introduced in Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #1.

All are seemingly good contenders — all blonde, all with something to contribute to the Justice League roster, and to the newly tweaked DC Universe continuity. Black Canary has a history with the League — she’s alternately a founding member or a later addition, depending on the reboot — while Power Girl served with Justice League Europe. Of course, if the Justice League is starting anew, then none of that much matters. Zealot would help to cement the mergers of the DC and WildStorm universes (Martian Manhunter is now part of Stormwatch), and Miranda, along with Element Woman, would help to untangle how, or if, the threads of Flashpoint tie into the New DCU.

There are solid cases for each of those characters, right? Even if none has the beauty mark that the mystery woman sports above her lip. Right? Well, no.

Overnight, Justice League writer Geoff Johns dropped a bombshell that destroyed all of those theories. “That is not a blonde,” he wrote on Twitter. “(No one’s guessed the characters correctly yet.)”

So back to the drawing board, fandom! Who’s a not-blonde, beauty-mark bearing, turtleneck-wearing superheroine that no one’s thought of yet?

Comics A.M. | B&N has $74M loss; Lew Sayre Schwartz passes away

Barnes & Noble

Retailing | As the bankrupt Borders Group weighs competing bids, Barnes & Noble — the largest book chain in the United States — reports a loss of $74 million for the fiscal year, in part because of heavy investment in its digital initiatives. However, the company saw a 50-percent sales increase at, fueled by Nook devices and digital content sold through the Nook Bookstore. [Publishers Weekly]

Passings | Lew Sayre Schwartz, one of Bob Kane’s ghost artists on Batman and Detective Comics, passed away June 7 as the result of an injury suffered in a fall. He was 84. Schwartz drew as many as 120 Batman stories between 1948 and 1953, all signed “Bob Kane,” before leaving comics after a junket entertaining troops in Korea. Eddie Campbell quotes Schwartz as saying, “’When I got back, I couldn’t stand drawing another page’ of Batman.” He went on to work in television advertising, co-founding the commercial production company Ferro, Mogubgub and Schwartz. [Mark Evanier, ComicMix]

Conventions | Scott Lewis looks at the plan by Mayor Jerry Sanders to pay for the $500-million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center: the Convention Center Assessment District, an entity that will add an additional 3 percent tax on room bills for hotels downtown, 2 percent on those out to Mission Valley, and 1 percent on those farther away. [Voice of San Diego]

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