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]
Publishing | Following its grim snapshot of year-to-date dollar sales in the direct market, ICv2.com has released a dreary analysis of the November charts: For the third time in 2010, the top-selling title failed to crack the 100,000-copy mark. Batman: The Return, priced at $4.99, sold about 99,500 copies, compared to the 144,000 sold by November 2009′s top title, Blackest Night #5. According to the retail news and analysis site, 20 of the Top 25 titles experienced a drop last month. As ICv2 noted last week in its initial report, dollar sales of comics were down 10.2 percent when compared with November 2009, while graphic novels jumped 14.84 percent, tied to the release of the 13th volume of The Walking Dead (it sold more than 19,000 copies). [ICv2.com]
Digital publishing | Google on Monday unveiled Google eBooks, a web-based e-book platform/digital storefront that boasts “the world’s largest selection of ebooks.” Dan Vado offers brief commentary. [TechCrunch]
Retailing | Rich Johnston confirms that Diamond Comic Distributors is developing a digital comics service that, in the words of a company representative, “will be entirely focused on driving sales of digital comic-related content through brick and mortar comic book specialty retailers.” No details were made available, but an official announcement is expected “in the near future.” In the meantime, Johnston gathers initial reactions from several retailers. [Bleeding Cool]
Publishing | Amit Desai, who has worked at Warner Bros. since 2004, has been named as DC Entertainment’s senior vice president, franchise management: “In his new role, Desai will develop and implement the individual franchise plans for Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash, MAD Magazine, Vertigo titles, and other DC properties. This will include driving wider cross-promotional support across all Time Warner divisions.” [press release]
Publishing | Alex Segura, former publicity manager at DC Comics, has been hired by Archie Comics as executive director of publicity and marketing. [press release]
Publishing | Eiichiro Oda’s blockbuster pirate manga One Piece has sold 32.34 million copies in 2010, more than double what it sold the previous year. According to Japanese market survey company Oricon Communications, the series’ five newest volumes have sold a combined 12.5 million copies. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Comico co-founder Gerry Giovinco weighs in on an eBay listing that includes original artwork apparently left in the stewardship of his former partners Dennis and Phil LaSorda when the company went bankrupt in 1990: “It always was Comico policy to return all art to the creators. If there is art that was not returned, we are in total agreement that it should be returned to the rightful owners of the work. If you are a creator that believes your work could be among this lot, we would suggest you fight to get it back.” [CO2 Comics Blog]
Comic-Con | Registration opened this morning at 6 PST for Comic-Con International following technical problems on Nov. 1 that forced organizers to shut down sales after only a handful of badges were purchased. Registration is for daily passes and four-day memberships without Preview Night. Those with the Wednesday preview sold out on the final day of this year’s convention (more could be released later, depending on returns and cancellations). Prices have increased slightly, from $100 to $105 for four-day memberships and from $35 to $37 for single-day passes ($20 for Sunday). Comic-Con International will be held July 20-24 in San Diego. [Comic-Con International]
Legal | Sankaku Complex wades into Tokyo’s resurrected “anti-loli” legislation, and finds the revised bill has been expanded to target manga, anime and video games that “‘improperly glorify or emphasise’ illegal sexual acts, such as rape, groping, BDSM, voyeurism, exhibitionism, etc., by extension including underage sexual activity as well.” The previous version focused on the depictions of “fictional youths,” a controversial term that’s been dropped from the legislation. [Sankaku Complex]
Legal | A federal judge has lifted the delay in the ferocious legal battle over the rights to Superman, allowing attorneys for Warner Bros. to proceed with deposition of the families of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright issued the stay last month while he considered an appeal on a procedural ruling, but on Tuesday he modified the order, permitting the studio to “proceed with full discovery of [heirs] Joanne Siegel, Laura Siegel Larson, Jean Peavy and Mark Peavy.” The depositions are expected to begin immediately. [THR, Esq.]
Retailing | Bookstores had their worst month of the year in September as sales slipped 7.7 percent, to $1.51 billion. [Publishers Weekly]
Piracy | Colleen Doran argues that it’s the middle-class artist, not the rich corporations, who are the real victims of digital piracy. [The Hill]
Crime | Houston police have arrested two people believed to be responsible for stealing thousands of dollars worth of comics from stores around the city. Bedrock City Comic Company was hit at least four times. [My Fox Houston]
Today DC Comics revives an old tradition by allowing fans to select the next leader of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Through the wonders of 31st-century 21st-century technology, readers no longer have to mail in their votes. Instead, they visit the Legion election website and simply click on one of the 25 candidates. (Twenty-five?)
If you’ve not had the time to brush up on the contenders, you might consider the well-reasoned endorsement by the Legion Abstract fan blog of Phantom Girl, “one of the longest-serving of all Legionnaires, yet has never been leader.” Michael at The Legion Ominicon voted for Gates, the socialist insectoid teleporter, “just to see what [writer] Paul Levitz would do with him.”
On the DC Universe blog, Editor Brian Cunningham notes that Legion elections “can have some very interesting consequences.”
“A reader poll throws us a potential creative curve ball,” he writes. “I recall during the 1980s, the readership elected longtime Substitute Legionnaire Polar Boy — an unlikely turn of events, given the illusion that the Legionnaires themselves were voting. But Paul, who wrote the series at the time, just rolled with it and crafted some very clever and entertaining stories around it.”
Voting ends on Nov. 10. The winner will be revealed in December’s Legion of Super-Heroes #8.
Paul Levitz‘s return to the Legion universe has been under way for the past several months (writing the character’s early days in Adventure Comics and the regular ongoing stories in Legion of Super-Heroes). With a gamut of issues already out I thought it would be a great time to discuss his work. Plus I got an opportunity to find out what it was like to be a student of Frank McCourt, as well as how a journalism class during that era helped strengthen his writing ability. My thanks to Levitz for indulging my questions and DC’s Alex Segura for his assistance in facilitating the interview. This Wednesday, September 22, will see the release of Legion of Super-Heroes 5.
Tim O’Shea: Before our Legion discussion, I would be remiss if I did not ask about being taught English at Stuyvesant High School by Frank McCourt (as mentioned at this Midtown Comics Times Square signing in May 2010). What were some of the major lessons you took from his instruction? Did you stay in touch with McCourt after high school–did he know how successful you became as a writer?
Paul Levitz: McCourt was teaching English, not yet officially Creative Writing, when I was his student. Vivid memories include the range of literature he opened our eyes to—Achebe and Mishima, the examples that still stick with me, and their very different world views and life experiences. He was very encouraging to me about my interests in comics, and my fanzine publishing, which was great. We stayed lightly in touch—I recall sending him the trade of Great Darkness when it first came out, and an email note back—and saw each other several times after he became an author. The best moment was a fund raising dinner for Stuy’s 100th, at which he presented me with an award (predominantly for my work on the 100th Anniversary book about Stuy). The other lesson, from a distance in time, is the power a good teacher has—looking at the long list of writers who came through his classes over the years, and our attachment to him. It’s one of the reasons I’m starting to teach now.
Last week DC Comics senior editor Ian Sattler teased “one of those great books that make us all stand around the editor’s office going ‘wow.’” He also shared a collage of images featuring Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Superboy, Red Robin and several other characters drawn by several different artists. In our comments section for that post, commenter funkygreenjerusalem wondered if maybe it was a teaser for Superman/Batman #75.
Yesterday editor Eddie Berganza also shared some artwork and details on an upcoming project, this one being Superman/Batman‘s 75th issue, and I’m starting to think maybe funkygreenjerusalem was right about the first teaser. Here’s what Berganza has to say about the issue:
Now under that icon, some very impressive talent has made its way through its pages. And this couldn’t be more true of the book that will be coming out soon. Starting with an awesome cover by Frank Quitely, the lead story is by Paul Levitz, who finally gets to team the Legion of Super-Heroes with Batman as well as Superman and Superboy, all lusciously illustrated by Jerry Ordway, no stranger to Strange Visitors. But this is just the beginning. What follows is a special section featuring 2-page strips. My homage to WEDNESDAY COMICS.
It starts with Steve Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen doing the only sequel they ever will to IT’S A BIRD… with “It’s A Bat, ” a story of how an editor tries to get a special section like this going. It continues with Billy Tucci and Peter Tomasi with Gene Ha each playing up the grand adventures of our heroes, while Adam Hughes, David Finch, J.T. Krul, Francis Manapul, Duncan Rouleau, Jill Thompson, Michael Green with Mike Johnson and Rafael Albuquerque and Shane Davis all show us how the Superman and Batman families have been inspired by these two icons. From Supergirls to super-pets, and a wild take on a Lex Luthor and Joker teaming by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, it has it all, but don’t just listen to me. Go check it out!
The issue goes on sale Aug. 25.