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Comics A.M. | ‘Kuroko’s Basketball’ returns to shelves

Kuroko's Basketball

Kuroko’s Basketball

Retailing | The rental chain Tsutaya and the bookstore chain Yurindo have returned Kuroko’s Basketball books and DVDs to their shelves after “X-Day,” Nov. 4, passed without incident. Someone has sent hundreds of threatening letters to convention sites, bookstores, the media and Sophia University (the alma mater of Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki), over the past year, and the most recent batch of letters said that “X-Day will be on the final day of the [Sophia University] school festival.” Meanwhile, police are checking security cameras near all the mailboxes in the districts from which the letters were mailed, looking for suspicious people. [Anime News Network]

Comics | Brian Steinberg looks at Archie Comics’ most radical move yet: the relatively adult Afterlife with Archie, which literally turned America’s most iconic teenagers into zombies. Steinberg talks to Archie CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, artist Francesco Francavilla and others about the significance of this comic, which sold almost 65,000 copies to the direct market. [Variety]

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Grumpy Old Fan | DC’s February solicits recall old loves

The Metal Men, by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado

The Metal Men, by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado

Warning: There will be a good bit of “in my day” talk in this survey of DC’s February solicitations. It’s the unavoidable contradiction of the publisher’s current superhero-comics model: Make everything “new,” but tease enough of the familiar old elements to keep longtime fans interested. While this practice goes back decades in corporately run superhero comics, the New 52 has tried so hard to distinguish itself that the old ways sometimes stand in even starker contrast.

FOREVER NARROW

Probably my biggest frustration with Forever Evil is its limited scope. Oh, sure, every electronic device on DC-Earth says “THIS WORLD IS OURS,” and writer Geoff Johns has teased a revamped Blue Beetle and Doom Patrol — but from the three issues published already and the three more solicited, it looks to be nothing more than Luthor’s Legion of Doom (plus Batman and Catwoman) vs. the Crime Syndicate. Ho-hum. We know the three Justice Leagues are imprisoned, the Teen Titans are bouncing through time, the Suicide Squad is depleted, and Nightwing is the Crime Syndicate’s prisoner, but where are the rest of the superheroes? What happened when they presumably rose up to challenge the Syndicators?

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Comics A.M. | Festival celebrates cartoon library re-opening

Grand Opening Festival of Cartoon Art

Grand Opening Festival of Cartoon Art

Events | The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State University steps into the spotlight for the Grand Opening Festival of Cartoon Art, which celebrates the library’s move to a new 30,000-square-foot home on campus. The library’s extensive collection includes more than 300,000 original comic strips, 29,000 comic books, 45,000 books and 2,400 boxes of manuscripts, personal papers and the like. The festival, held today through Sunday, includes such guests as Eddie Campbell, Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Herandez, Jeff Smith, Paul Pope, Hilary Price, Kazu Kibuishi and Dylan Meconis. [The Associated Press, The Columbus Dispatch, Columbus Alive]

Creators | Art Spiegelman talks about history, Maus, and being the creator of Maus: “I have to keep moving as best I can through the shadow of something that I’m glad I had pass through me.” [Tablet]

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Fan-made ‘Dark Knight Legacy’ continues Nolan’s trilogy

dark knight legacy

Devotees of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy — particularly those who hoped a follow-up might center on Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake — may find a lot to enjoy in The Dark Knight Legacy, a seven-minute fan film that debuted this morning on Machinima.

Directed by Brett Register from a script by Woody Tondorf and Chris Landa, the short picks up a year after the events of The Dark Knight Rises, as Blake (as Nightwing) tries to “protect the symbol of Batman from the lethal, relentless attacks of a masked vigilante known only as the Red Hood.” (Fan-favorite character Stephanie Brown also makes an appearance.)

The producers hope to transform The Dark Knight Legacy into an actual series, and to that end they’ve turned to Indiegogo in an effort to raise $30,000. Watch the video below.

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Grumpy Old Fan | DC’s December: New homes for the holidays

Required reading

Required reading

DC Entertainment may not have planned it this way — “planning” being something with which DC may be only tangentially familiar — but I doubt its high-ups wanted to release these December solicitations the Monday after what had to be a pretty rough weekend.  When you’ve just had to deal with a celebrated creative team walking off a fairly successful book — citing “editorial interference,” and reminding people that the character’s original writer also left after increasing frustration with DC — you might not want to follow that up by calling attention to all the other changes coming before the end of the year.

And don’t worry, there’ll be plenty of Batwoman and “sucky personal life” talk before we’re done. Solicits first, though …

FOREVER MODEST

If the first week of Villains Month is any indication, a good bit of the decimal-point issues will feature stories set in the early stages of the Crime Syndicate’s takeover. This wasn’t that apparent from the September solicits, and subsequent months also appeared light on explicit crossovers. December is about the same, with Teen Titans dropping out of the crossover lineup, and Pandora and Phantom Stranger joining the three Justice League books, the three Forever Evil [Colon] miniseries, and Suicide Squad.

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If Nightwing doesn’t die, will he turn ‘Forever Evil’?

Art from "Batman/Superman" #5, by Brett Booth

Art from “Batman/Superman” #5, by Brett Booth

Despite the efforts of Nightwing writer Kyle Higgins to put to rest rumors that Dick Grayson will die as a result of DC Comics’ Villains Month, the whispers continue, in no small part because there’s no issue of the series in September.

“Nightwing doesn’t have a book that month, but we’re back after September,” Higgins assured CBR TV last month. “We’re back with October. Actually, the finale of the first arc in Chicago with the Prankster and Tony Zucco, that culminates in October with Issue 24. We’re still around, we’re doing our thing.”

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A Month of Wednesdays | Bigfoot, Nightwing, Tomine and manga

flowers of evilEvery month there are hundreds of new comics and graphic novels released, and dozens if not scores of them are noteworthy for one reason or another. Sadly, no matter how much time one spends reading comics, there are only so many hours in a day, and blog posts in a month. Here then are shorter reviews of every new graphic novel or somehow interesting or important new comic I read in July that I didn’t get a chance to cover.

Flowers of Evil, Vol. 6 (Vertical): Each successive volume of Shuzo Oshimi’s increasingly psycho psychodrama has upped the ante considerably, ending with a cliffhanger that positions our protagonist Takao on the precipice of some new, life-altering, no-turning-back-now crisis. This one’s no different, but now that the series in its sixth volume, the stakes don’t seem like they can get any higher.

Takao and the two young women in his life — troubled troublemaker Nakamura and his one-time crush and former model student Saeki — are all growing more and more psychologically unbalanced. Saeki seems to grow even more fixated on Takao the more he spurns her and becomes more fixated on Nakamura, ultimately even showing one of the “Something’s maybe not quite right with this lady” signs from Single White Female.

This volume opens with a police investigation of the events of the last volume, continues with Takao and Saeki both going a little nuts as they suffer withdrawal from the people they’re respectively obsessed with, features Takao’s parents trying to take a hard line and get him back under control, has Nakamura committing, threatening and asking for violence done with a baseball bat and climaxes with Takao and Nakamura about to engage in a violent public act that, if not actually terrorism, has gotta be getting pretty close to it.

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Nightwing fan series ‘Grayson: Earth One’ premieres

grayson

Writer/director Hisonni Johnson has debuted the first episode of Grayson: Earth One, a fan-produced web series that re-imagines the origin of Dick Grayson/Nightwing in a familiar setting, with familiar characters, but without the DC Universe continuity.

“The twist being that Richard Grayson has never had the good fortune of being adopted as a child by Bruce Wayne, thus never becoming the boy wonder,” Johnson writes. “Instead, we have a Richard Grayson that had to fend for himself on the unforgiving streets of Gotham and, even worse, the streets of Bludhaven. A character that has to overcome years of dog eat dog mentality to become a selfless and kind individual. To ultimately fulfill his destiny and become a HERO.”

Judging from this video, it’s Arrow meets Catwalk, with occasional Dark Knight cameos. And, really, the acting and production standards aren’t that far removed from a typical CW series.

In conjunction with the premiere, Johnson has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $40,000 to produce five more episodes — a full season.

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It’s a Gotham City wedding for two Nightwing and Batgirl fans

bat-wedding1

What happens when a Nightwing fan and a Batgirl devotee meet and fall in love? They have a Batman-themed wedding, naturally.

“This guy stopped to help me hang up a poster and three years later he proposed after jumping out of a plane,” user “babsgordon” writes on imgur. “Our relationship bonded over our superhero obsessions, so why not have a Batman wedding?”

This Dynamic Duo didn’t skimp on the details: As you can see from the photos here an on imgur, they wore Nightwing and Batgirl T-shirts in their engagement photos, sent invitations designed to look like tickets to Haly’s Circus, displayed a Gotham City cake, and the bride sported Bat-Signal earrings, custom-made garters, and even a utility belt (for her bridal shoot, at least)!

And the wedding party? Nightwing-blue for the groomsmen and groomswoman, and Batgirl-yellow for the bridesmaids and “bridesdudes” — complete with the appropriate insignia for the boutonnieres.

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Grumpy Old Fan | July brings solicits heard ‘round the world

He's a Brainiac, Braaaainiac on - the - flo-oo-or ...

He’s a Brainiac, Braaaainiac on – the – flo-oo-or …

Don’t ask why — because the answer is too boring and has nothing to do with Steven Spielberg — but the other day I was thinking about the original 13 American colonies, and from there the general course of American history across the 18th and 19th centuries. Naturally, from there I imagined how DC Comics would solicit the story of a young nation. It ended up being something like a team book: Meet the states that will form a great democracy — and discover the shocking secret which threatens to tear them apart–!

And then, as fate would have it, DC released its July solicitations, and my stab at patriotic humor was somewhat justified. So there you go.

In any event, on to “Trinity War” –!

WORLD WAR T

Say, remember when “World War III” was an actual part of DC history? I’m not talking about the Great Disaster, or something that happened in the hazy interregnum between the present and the Legion of Super-Heroes, or even the final Grant Morrison/Howard Porter JLA arc. No, as part of 52 (2006-07), “World War III” was the name given to a week-long global Black Adam rampage. I bring it up because it’s no longer in continuity, and we still don’t know (beyond another “Villain Month”) what’s coming in September for the New 52’s second anniversary.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Bob Haney and the wages of continuity

There'll be peace when you are done

There’ll be peace when you are done

You may remember the story of an antisocial teen working his way into Bruce Wayne’s life, and even becoming part of his family, before dying in a Robin costume.

You might also remember this story being called “Punish Not My Evil Son,”* as told by writer Bob Haney, penciler Neal Adams, and inker Dick Giordano (note: GCD credits Adams), in The Brave and the Bold vol. 1 #83 (April-May 1969).

Like much of the Haney oeuvre, “Punish” depends on unique circumstances that otherwise might not fit well within Batman’s shared universe. Young Lance Bruner, who’s around the same age as teenager Dick Grayson, is the son of one Prof. Bruner, Thomas Wayne’s “closest friend.” When we first meet him he’s horsing around with a couple of Wayne valuables and smarting off to Alfred, so already he’s off to a bad start. However, he shows Bruce an agreement signed by both Prof. Bruner and Dr. Wayne, which provides that “if anything ever happen[s] to the professor[,] the Wayne family promises to adopt and raise Lance.” Indeed, Bruce remembers seeing baby Lance in his dad’s arms, and recalls further that the professor was “the finest man I’ve ever known … besides my own dad!” Lance has already tearfully played the orphan card, so Bruce reminds a skeptical Dick how a certain other kid came to live at Wayne Manor — and away we go.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Robin is perpetual

Bob-bob-bobbin' along

Bob-bob-bobbin’ along

First I’d like to thank DC Comics for plastering its latest spoiler unavoidably across the Internet bright and early Monday morning. It did confirm something I’d suspected since before Christmas, but being surprised still has a certain appeal, you know?

(That assumes this isn’t reversed in an issue or two. Kyle Rayner was killed one issue and revived the next during a Blackest Night crossover, and something similar is eminently possible, albeit unlikely, in this case.)

Anyway, Caleb has done a great job covering the event’s immediate impact, and Corey and Michael have also talked about significant aspects of you-know-what, so for my part I’ll be taking a closer look at the “position” itself. Some people study the presidency, some the papacy, and some of us have spent most of our lives reading about … well, you know.

SPOILERS FOLLOW, I suppose.

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A little about each of the stories in DC’s Young Romance special

Whether due to use-it-or-lose-it legal concerns about trademarks, or simply to remind everyone of exactly what it owns, DC Comics has come up with a variety of ways to recycle old titles, ranging from the 1997 Tangent event to the anthologies Mystery in Space and Ghosts to the short-lived National Comics revival.

This week the company brought back Young Romance, the title of the Joe Simon/Jack Kirby-created comic that was published from 1947 to 1975, as a Valentine’s Day special featuring a half-dozen stories of romance in the New 52 DC Universe.

An interesting mix of creators are involved, an interesting enough mix to merit a look at what they might do with some of these characters and couples in eight pages. So join me for mini-reviews of every story in Young Romance: The New 52 Valentine’s Day Special.

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DC creator shuffles: Stormwatch, Constantine, Birds of Prey, more

With the launch of Comic Book Resources’ new monthly feature with DC Comics Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras and Editorial Director Bobbie Chase arrives announcements of a slew of creative changes, including confirmation that Jim Starlin is the new writer of Stormwatch.

Best known for his work on Marvel’s cosmic titles, Starlin has been teasing since early December that he would take the reins on an existing DC series beginning in April. Yvel Guichet joins him as artist. Other creative shifts in April include:

Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes will write the newly launching Constantine, taking over Robert Venditti with Issue 2. “Robert came to us with a fantastic pitch for Constantine,” Harras told CBR. “We really loved what Robert’s doing — he’s working on Demon Knights now, and he’s also working on another project for us that I really can’t go into which is a big deal for us. But at the end of the day, Robert and Dan [DiDio] and I spoke, and Constantine was, for him, one book too many. It was the one thing that we had to go, “If we want you to focus on this one project, maybe we should make a change on Constantine.”

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Kickstart My Art | Nightwing: The Series

Danny Shepherd and Jeremy Le, the duo behind the Batman: Nightwing fan film that made the rounds over the summer, are now hoping expand upon the adventures of Dick Grayson with a three-part web series called, appropriately enough, Nightwing: The Series. To that end, they’ve teamed with Las Vegas’ MG Studio, which is providing the production facility and some of the resources for the project. However, Shepherd and Le need money for costumes, props and location shoots — and they’ve taken to Kickstarter in hopes of raising $20,000.

Just five days in to their 60-day campaign, they’re almost halfway toward their goal. To encourage pledge, they’re offering such incentives as the series soundtrack, posters, limited-edition T-shirts and a Batarang prop. Of course, with merchandise like that, they may be pushing their luck with Warner Bros.’ legal department.

You can watch the Nightwing: The Series teaser below, and visit the Kickstarter page to see the pitch video.

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