Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
DC Comics released four of the six “New 52 Second Wave” titles this past week, making it hard to choose what to focus on this week … so I figured I wouldn’t. Instead, here are round-ups of reviews for all four titles: Earth 2 #1 by James Robinson, Nicola Scott, Trevor Scott and Alex Sinclair; Dial H #1 by China Miéville, Mateus Santolouco, Tany Horie and Richard Horie; World’s Finest #1 by Paul Levitz, George Pérez, Scott Koblish, Kevin Maguire, Hi-Fi and Rosemary Cheetham; and G.I. Combat #1 by J.T. Krul, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Ariel Olivetti and Dan Panosian.
Keith Callbeck, Comicosity: “The multiverse returns! To fanfare or dread, depending on how you feel about pre-Crisis DC. But this is not your parents’ Earth 2. Completely reimagined by James Robinson, the creator most responsible for bringing the JSA back to the DCU with his series Golden Age, this Earth 2 is a world recovering from war. The story feels like a really good Elseworlds book (which Golden Age was as well) and not a What If…? type tale, though that element exists.The heroes of Earth 2 have existed for much longer than the five years of Earth Prime. When the parademons attack, paralleling the first arc of Johns’ Justice League, it is a much more mature Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman there to battle them.”
For fans of DC’s various Multiverses, this has turned into a big week. Action Comics vol. 2 #9 offers Earth-23, while the new Earth 2 and Worlds’ Finest series center around the latest take on Earth-2.
First, though, a nitpicky note. As usual with DC’s cosmologies, things can get confusing quickly, so here are some helpful definitions. The Infinite Multiverse refers to DC’s classic Multiverse, which saw its last big hurrah in Crisis On Infinite Earths. Worlds of the Infinite Multiverse have their number-tags spelled out, as with Earth-One and Earth-Two. (The Infinite Multiverse also had some letter-tagged worlds.) The 52 Earths refers to the Multiverse revealed in 2006’s 52 #52. Its worlds are tagged only with numerals, as with Earth-2 and Earth-51. There is the Earth One series of graphic novels, with which we are not concerned. Finally, there is the Current Multiverse, which may in fact still be the 52 Earths, and which apparently follows the same naming conventions. I will try hard to avoid getting into a discussion which dwells on these distinctions.
Now then …
These three issues each take different perspectives on the parallel-world concept. Earth 2 #1 lays out the rough recent history of the parallel world and introduces us to its major players. Similarly, all of Action #9 takes place on Earth-23, although it’s part of the background of Grant Morrison’s larger Superman work. Earth-2 in Worlds’ Finest #1 is background as well, since it’s part of the main characters’ shared backstory, but not a place with which they currently interact. Accordingly, I liked each of these introductory issues on their own merits, because I thought each did what it needed to within those particular contexts.
SPOILERS FOLLOW for Earth 2 #1, Worlds’ Finest #1, and Action Comics vol. 2 #9.
I actually tried and then gave up on Paul Levitz and Marcus To’s Huntress before starting this tour of superhero comics featuring women, but one of the things I wanted to do with the experiment is to get a large, healthy sample of each series before passing judgment. I’d only read a couple of issues of Huntress before giving up on it, so I felt like I needed to go back for at least a couple of more. I ended up reading the entire six-issue mini-series, but that was just because it finished before I got around to catching up and I figured, “Why not?”
My problem with the series mostly has to do with lack of dramatic excitement. Marcus To draws an attractive Huntress and does a nice job of depicting the luxurious lifestyle of rich people living around the Mediterranean, but the plot is extremely basic: dictators who are also human traffickers are evil; Huntress wants to stop them because she’s a good guy. Though the story takes place mostly in Italy, there’s a Gotham connection to explain Huntress’ being on the case, but if this is your first exposure to her (which it is, because this is an all-new Huntress created especially for the New 52), just having the crimes relate to Gotham isn’t enough to know why that’s important. Does this Huntress have a Batman-like need to protect that city? Is she idly curious and chasing a rabbit down its hole (before uncovering something darker)? This comic isn’t telling.
When I wrote about Birds of Prey, I caught a little flack in the comments for complaining that there are no personal stakes for the heroes of that series. Most of the commenters understood though that I wasn’t suggesting that every villain has to have a personal connection with the hero. That gets unbelievable really fast and I’m not suggesting it for Huntress. But I do want to feel like there’s a reason for a story to be told other than just, “So there’s this bad guy and he needs to be stopped.” Why does this particular hero need to be the one to do it?
If you work in the industry for as number of years, you’re bound to gather a number of unique artifacts from your time spent. People have been delighted in recent weeks with Tom Brevoort’s “The Marvel Age of Comics” Tumblr showcasing the editor’s collection of original art and assorted oddities, and now The Hero Initiative is partnering with a Florida gallery to show off one-of-a-kind printer’s proofs for covers collected by renowned editor Julius Schwartz during his 42-year tenure at DC Comics.
Titled “Proof of Heroes,” the exhibit at Bear & Bird Boutique + Gallery will feature nearly 300 comic book cover printer’s proofs from 1964 to 1974. These printer’s proofs were sent to Schwartz for final approval before going to press, and features artwork from such comics legends as Nick Cardy, Neal Adams, Mike Kaluta and Carmine Infantino. The exhibit is set to run from Jan. 20 to March 3 at Bear & Bird’s Lauderhill, Florida, location, just above the comic store Tate’s. On Jan. 21, DC icons Paul Levitz, George Perez and Alex Saviuk will be on hand from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for a signing, followed by a reception from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The printer’s proofs will be available for just $100 each (certificate of authenticity included). All proceeds benefit The Hero Initiative.
Publishing | Four months in, the DC Comics relaunch seems to be a success. The most recent sales figures show Justice League #1 selling more than 360,000 copies since August, and Batman #1 and Action Comics #1 selling more than 250,000. By contrast, Marvel’s strongest seller was Ultimate Spider-Man #160, which was in the 160,000-copy neighborhood. These figures seem to reflect sales in the direct market only; it would be interesting to see how many digital copies have been sold. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Awards | Nominations are open for this year’s Eagle Awards. [Eagle Awards]
Retailing | San Francisco retailer Brian Hibbs shares the top-selling graphic novels in his store for 2011, by units and by dollars. [Savage Critics]
Retailing | Christopher Butcher looks back on the events of the past year in the comics store he manages, Toronto’s The Beguiling. [The Beguiling blog]
Hey kids, it’s time once again for What Are You Reading?, a weekly look into the reading habits of your Robot 6 bloggers. This week our special guest is Rik Offenberger, comics journalist and public relations coordinator for Archie Comics.
To see what Rik and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
If I had $15, I’d be a judicious comics buyer and pick the top four out of over 20 titles I’d want this week. DC/Vertigo makes it slightly easier by making the new Brian Azzarello/Eduardo Risso joint Spaceman #1 only $1. This dollar price point for first issues combined with the $9.99 price point they sometimes do for the first volume of comic trade paperbacks surely gets a lot of traction. Next up I’d get Jason Aaron’s new era of the X-Men in Wolverine & X-Men #1 (Marvel, $3.99) with Chris Bachalo. I’d also get my regular pulls of DMZ #70 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) and The Walking Dead #90 (Image, $2.99) and last–but first in my stack to read-–would be Secret Avengers #18 (Marvel, $3.99). I hear some Ellis guy is writing it, but the big draw for me is artist David Aja. His Iron Fist run is one of my top favs in comics in the past ten years, and he’s a titan in my book.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest is Dark Horse assistant editor Jim Gibbons, who I spoke to about his new job on Friday.
To see what Jim and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
David Macho rolls out his fourth trailer this week for DC Comics’ New 52, this time spotlighting Legion of Super-Heroes #1, by Paul Levitz and Francis Portela, one of two relaunch titles starring the teenagers from the future (the other is Legion Lost by Facian Nicieza and Pete Woods).
The Legion of Super-Heroes has been decimated by the worst disaster in its history. Now, the students of the Legion Academy must rise to the challenge of helping the team rebuild – but a threat of almost unstoppable power is rising at the edge of Dominator space, and if the new recruits fail, the Legion Espionage Squad may be the first casualties in a war that could split worlds in half!
Legion of Super-Heroes #1, which boasts a cover by Karl Kerschl, arrives on Sept. 21.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes, and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
The Grave Doug Freshley – A lot of publishers are doing Weird Western comics lately and that’s just fine with me.
Spera, Volume 1 – I like the sound of this fairy tale in which a couple of princesses combine efforts to save their kingdoms. It’s not that I’m anti-prince, but that’s a cool, new way to do that story.
Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island – Warren Ellis doing Steampunk sounds thrilling, but really all they had to say was “pirates.” I bet this is still really good though, even if you’re pickier than I am.
Roger Langridge’s Snarked #1 – After a well-loved zero-issue, Langridge’s version of Wonderland gets its real, official start.
Although it seems like DC’s big relaunch announcement came out an eternity ago, it actually took the publisher less than two weeks to roll out the 52 titles and their creative teams for the big relaunch/reboot/overhaul coming in September. Now that the cats are out of their respective bags, I thought I’d see where various creators and characters will land after the reboot.
So I went back through DC’s August solicitations to see who was writing or drawing what, and tried to map everyone to their post-relaunch project — if they had one. However, looking at DC’s August solicitations, there seem to be several fill-in issues, so where appropriate I tried to map the most recent ongoing creative teams to their new projects (for instance, I consider Gail Simone and Jesus Saiz the regular creative team for Birds of Prey, even if they aren’t doing the last two issues before September hits). Keep in mind that I just went through the ongoing series and skipped over all the miniseries … of which there are a lot, what with Flashpoint winding up in August.
It’s also worth noting that although several creators didn’t appear in the “big 52″ announcements, that doesn’t mean their tenure with DC is necessarily over — some, like Frazer Irving, have said they have future projects that haven’t been announced. So I tried to note where creators have talked publicly about their post-relaunch plans with DC (or lack thereof, as the case may be). The same could probably be said for some of DC’s characters as well. Or, as Gail Simone said on Twitter: “Again, September is NOT THE END. There’s still plans for characters that we haven’t seen yet.”
So let’s get to it ….
Dark Horse assistant editor Brendan Wright noticed that Mario’s, a designer clothing store in Portland, Oregon, is using art from Paul Levitz’s 75 Years of DC Comics in its window displays. It’s an interesting juxtaposition of comics and fashion, made more fascinating by Wright’s uncertainty about the message Mario’s intended to convey.
“On the one hand,” he writes, “I suppose it casts comics as a generic pop-culture backdrop, a colorful splash of nostalgia against which gray suits can stand out, your mileage may vary. On the other hand, it does posit this $200 book as an upscale item for sophisticated people who drop lots of money on clothes.”
Wright wonders “if Mario’s is using comics as ironic kitsch or cool bits of culture.” Which do you think it is? Check out his photo-filled post then sound off below.
While in the Bay Area a few weeks ago for WonderCon, Paul Levitz, former DC president and publisher and current Legion of Super-Heroes writer, headed down the peninsula to speak at Google’s offices in Mountain View as a part of their Authors@Google speaker series. It’s a lengthy video, but well worth the time to check it out.
(Hat tip: Tom Galloway)
Let me start by saying that I am supremely unqualified to speak about what women or girls want from superhero comics. In this respect I am probably pretty similar to former DC publisher Paul Levitz, who (as you might have heard) told the Comics Journal:
I think the whole myth of superheroes is that they simply aren’t appealing to women as they are to men. I’d like to think I had a pretty good track record on that myself as a writer, as the Legion historically had a pretty good number of female readers, Chris Claremont on his years on the X-Men had a tremendous number of female readers, and there may be any number of other superhero titles that had a fair balance. But overall it would surprise me at any point if you started to have a title that was both a traditional superhero and a majority female audience.
What strikes me about Mr. Levitz’s comments (not just those but others in the article) is the apparent indifference they betray to the prospect of a big female readership. He seems to suggest that while he wouldn’t turn one down, it’s not something DC has particularly pursued. Many more men than women read superhero comics, so DC has focused more on the guys. Even when Sandman appeals to women, that ends up proving his point, because Sandman and Vertigo aren’t superheroes.
Again, at this point I am neither well-equipped nor especially interested in evaluating Mr. Levitz’s arguments. Nevertheless, the attitude that “we don’t need to go this way because it’s never panned out before” sounds rather short-sighted. In the current publishing climate, DC simply can’t afford to ignore women and girls. It needs all the readers it can get.
With all that in mind, I’d now like to talk about Mary Marvel.
Retailing | Diamond Comic Distributors has announced it will close its Los Angeles distribution center in March, with the facility in Olive Branch, Mississippi, taking over its functions. Regional Manager James Nash will relocate from L.A. to Olive Branch. There’s no word on how many jobs will be eliminated in the move, but ICv2 reports that “other staff has been encouraged to apply for positions in Olive Branch after their tenure in Los Angeles ends at the end of March.” [ICv2.com]
Publishing | Following Tuesday’s announcement that Ron Perazza has been named vice president of online for DC Entertainment comes word of two more additions to the department: DC Comics Online Editor Kwanza Johnson will be digital editor for DC Entertainment, and Technology Editor Dave McCullough will become director of online, both based in Burbank, Calif. The department will be headed by former WildStorm Vice President Hank Kanalz, who was promoted in October to senior vice president, digital. Heidi MacDonald also has a letter to freelancers from DC Vice President Terri Cunningham announcing that the Editorial Administration department will become Talent Relations & Services, which will remain in New York City. [Twitter, Twitter]