"Batman's" Gotham Was... Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
This week marks the release of Valiant Entertainment’s Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel #2, written by Peter Milligan in collaboration with artist Cary Nord, colorist Brian Reber and letterer Dave Sharpe. In anticipation of the new issue, the publisher shared with ROBOT 6 process pages by Nord, Reber and Sharpe. One detail of note: There is no inking stage, as Reber colors directly over Nord’s pencils.
Valiant describes the upcoming issue as follows:
All-New Doop (Marvel): It’s perfectly appropriate for any series starring peripheral X-Men character Doop to be a weird one, however, the miniseries collected in this trade paperback is weird in a weird way.
Doop was created by writer Peter Milligan and artist Mike Allred for their iconoclastic (and somewhat -controversial) 2001 X-Force run, which was then relaunched under the name The X-Statix. The premise involved a group of celebrity-wannabe mutants who used their powers for fame and fortune by starring in a reality show; holding the camera was a mysterious, gross, floating, potato-shaped green creature that spoke its own, indecipherable language and answered to the name Doop.
Milligan imagined a dramatic behind-the-scenes life for the character in a two-part, 2003 Wolverine/Doop miniseries, and writer Jason Aaron ran with the joke, including Doop as a member of the faculty at the Jean Grey School during his Wolverine and The X-Men run. For the most part, Doop functioned as a background joke, one more signifier of the zany environment of the new school for young mutants, though Aaron did pair with Doop’s co-creator Allred for a one-issue story that focused on the character as a behind-the-scenes, floating potato-thing-of-all-trades.
Milligan returns to the character for this miniseries, in which Allred only provides the covers, while David LaFuente draws the majority of the art. Milligan takes Doop’s behind-the-scenes portfolio to an extreme, marking him as a character capable of traveling through “The Marginalia,” entering and exiting the comic-book tales in order to influence their outcome.
The story Doop influences here is “Battle of the Atom,” the Brian Michael Bendis-helmed X-Men crossover that involved Cyclops’ X-Men team, Wolverine’s X-Men team and an X-Men team from the future engaged in a fight over what to do with the teenage original X-Men plucked out of the Silver Age and currently hanging around the present.
Batman is celebrating his 75th birthday this year, which may come as a surprise. I mean, look at that smooth, handsome face, or what little of it is visible beneath his cowl. Look at those ripped muscles, or the way he runs across rooftops and beats up criminals — why, Batman doesn’t look a day over 35!
Now just as it did recently for Superman, DC Comics is releasing a pair of hefty, 400-page hardcover collections that serve as a sort of survey for how the character has been portrayed and functioned in the publisher’s comics line during since his first appearance. Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years and The Joker: A Celebration of 75 Years aren’t exactly the comics equivalents of greatest-hits albums, but they are nice starting points for newcomers and/or casual fans, offering quick, compelling overviews of the title characters through the decades.
The Batman volume, featuring Jim Lee’s rendition of the character from the 2003 storyline “Hush” on the dust jacket, must have been particularly challenging to assemble, given the thousands and thousands of pages of Batman comics, featuring dozens of different takes by scores of creators.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that, on the heels of September’s successful release of The Best of Milligan & McCarthy, there might be new work from Brendan McCarthy published by Dark Horse: On Wednesday, the four-part story The Deleted begins in Dark Horse Presents #32, dealing with the possibility of uploading the consciousness into a virtual world.
It’s rare that I interview a creator who can provide answers that open with the phrase, “Myself and Brett Ewins, Bryan Talbot and Alan Moore were the first people to start off the new era of comics in the U.K.,” so while I had the chance, we discussed more than his new story, thanks to McCarthy’s willingness to give his time (and samples of his myriad works, past and present).
Following the conclusion this week of Kieron Gillen and Jame McKelvie’s run on Young Avengers with Issue 15, the writer turns to his blog to break down the comics that influenced the well-regarded series. And a couple of them may surprise you.
Grant Morrison is well-represented on the list, with We3, Kill Your Boyfriend and The Invisibles, and so is Peter Milligan. But Gillen also gives a shout-out to the 1970s oeuvre of the late Steve Gerber.
“Just have a wander through it. Howard the Duck, obv, but also his Defenders – a parallel I picked up when reading Colin TBTABC talk about it,” Gillen writes. “I’m not the biggest 70s connoisseur, so my knowledge is piecemeal, but his approach to superhero comics was something that resonated in the back of my head when writing Young Avengers, in terms of thinking of people who were absolutely mainstream while doing things that I wanted to do. Trollingly calling an arc STYLE > SUBSTANCE could have only been more of a Gerber move if I called it ON THE NOSE or something.”
There’s more at the blog, including a funny nod to one of Gillen and McKelvie’s previous collaborations.
Today sees the release of The Best of Milligan & McCarthy, a bumper hardcover from Dark Horse Books collecting almost every page produced by the team of Pete Milligan and Brendan McCarthy. Their collaboration stretches from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, and encompasses strips for music weeklies and national Sunday newspapers, the dawn of the American indie-publishing boom, 2000AD and its creator-owned spinoff Revolver, an Eisner-nominated graphic novel, and ended at the birth of DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint.
It’s fair to say these were my favorite comics during my formative years, so I was both honored and surprised to be asked to provide the introduction in the book. I protested, saying there’s bound to be someone better qualified for the task, but McCarthy insisted he wanted it by someone who had felt the impact of these comics at the time. Hence my nostalgic waffling at the start of the book; ignore that, and skip straight to the book’s meat, some of the funniest, angriest, saddest, smartest, dumbest, most transcendent work the medium has ever seen. To quote my own essay, “a secret history of the comics that followed them, the most influential comics you never see credited as such.”
I abused my access to these two men to ask them some questions, while trying not to gush too badly. I probably failed.
Preview Night doesn’t begin for another 11 hours, but judging from the flurry of announcements, Comic-Con International has been well under way since, oh, about Monday. So, if it feels like you’re already falling behind, that’s because you probably are.
To help you catch up, we’ve rounded up early news from DC Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Madefire and Marvel, along with a few other convention-related items.
• Dynamite Entertainment came out of the gate running this week with news that Steve Niles and Dennis Calero will reboot Army of Darkness, James Robinson will launch his crime romance Grand Passion, the Legends of Red Sonja miniseries will team Gail Simone with an all-female creative team that includes Marjorie M. Liu, Nancy A. Collins, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Mercedes Lackey, Nicola Scott and Devin Grayson, Peter Milligan will debut his sci-fi action series Terminal Hero, Duane Swiercyznski will expand the publisher’s crime line with Ex-Con, Howard Chaykin will return to The Shadow with the miniseries Midnight in Moscow, NBC’s Heroes will get a “fifth season” in a series written by Cullen Bunn, the acquisition of the Robotech license spawns a Robotech/Voltron crossover, and The Heart of the Beast, the graphic novel by Dean Motter, Judith Dupré and Sean Phillips, will receive a 20th-anniversary prestige-format edition.
This Sunday is Bloomsday, that special time of year when people around the world draw together to celebrate one of the finest works of English literature, Ulysses by James Joyce. Or they try to, anyway.
If you haven’t attempted to read Joyce’s magnum opus before, it can be a little rough going. In honor of the literary holiday, I thought I’d list six Joyce-themed comics you can read on Sunday in addition to (or, if you must, in place of) Ulysses. You wouldn’t think there could possibly be that many Joycean comics available to the casual reader but I assure it’s so. Steady on, stately, plump Buck Mulligan!
1. Boom Boom #2 by David Lasky: Lasky has done enough Joyce-themed comics to fill at least a thick-sized pamphlet if not an actual book (and really, at some point I need to devote a “Collect This Now!” column to those works). But if you’re looking for just one comic to read this Bloomsday, I would strongly recommend starting here, with the second issue of Lasky’s ’90s-era one-man anthology. In Issue 2, Lasky tells various anecdotes about Joyce during his time writing Ulysses, but his method is both inspired and unique. He apes specific, iconic Lee/Kirby comics, especially Fantastic Four #1, imbuing Joyce’s comparatively mundane life with grandeur and heroism. Even after all these years, it’s still a pretty boss idea. Once you’re done with that comic, consider picking up Lasky’s “Ulysses” minicomic adaptation as well.
Brendan McCarthy has taken to Facebook to plug the upcoming Dark Horse collection The Best of Milligan and McCarthy. He’s been using it to spread rather fetching memetic images from the classic strips in the book: so far, “Freakwave,” “Paradax” and “Skin” have gone up, presumably with similar designs for “Sooner or Later” and “Rogan Gosh” to follow.
I have to admit, I have a horse running in this race, because Brendan and Pete asked me to write an essay for the book, and it proved damned hard getting the reasons of why and how much I love this material down to less than a thousand words. Anyway, I feel jealous of anyone getting to experience this (inspirational, influential) material for the first time. It’s been downright criminal that its been out of print for so long. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love, you’ll walk funny for a week.
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.
Adding to such recent revivals as Strange Adventures, Ghosts and Young Romance, Vertigo will publish the science-fiction anthology Time Warp #1 in March. Although the announcement at MTV Geek doesn’t specify that the title is a one-shot, all of the previous ones have been.
The issue will feature stories by the likes of Damon Lindelof, Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, Toby Litt, Mark Buckingham, Dan Abnett, Peter Milligan, Ray Fawkes, Simon Spurrier, Gail Simone, Rafael Albuquerque and Tom Fowler, with covers by Eduardo Risso (in full below) and Jae Lee.
Time Warp doesn’t have quite the august history that such titles as Young Romance and Strange Adventures have: Debuting in 1979 amid the renewed popularity of science fiction, and in the wake of the DC Implosion, the anthology lasted just five issues. However, it featured an impressive lineup of talent, including Steve Ditko, Curt Swan, Jim Aparo, Paul Levitz, Gil Kane, Arnold Drake and Denny O’Neil.
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Our guest today is writer and artist Jimmy Palmiotti, who you know from All-Star Western, Monolith, Phantom Lady, Unknown Soldier, Creator-Owned Heroes, Queen Crab and countless more.
To see what Jimmy and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Have you ever met a girl and she’s stuck with you in memory, even though you haven’t seen her in decades? For me, it’s Simone Cundy, whom I met in the mid-’90s in the Vertigo miniseries Girl.
Published in 1996 as part of Vertigo’s sub-imprint Vertigo Vérité, the three issue series followed a teenage girl named Simone in the doldrums of teenage angst and depression who’s roused when her doppelganger Polly (with blonde hair) challenges her. Dealing with issues of growing up and coming to terms with yourself, Girl was a great little series that showed an early example of Fegredo’s excellent work and Milligan’s growing assuredness to tell more complicated stories.
In the U.K. in 1987, right at the height of the Reagan/Thatcher era of populist conservatism, a group of former members of the left-wing think tank Big Flame somehow decided it was a good time to launch a new, staunchly socialist, tabloid Sunday newspaper. The mistakes made at The News on Sunday may have gone down in legend among Britain’s journalists, but history will give them credit for one thing: Somebody there had great taste in comics.
The paper featured two strips by two creative teams from two classic runs in 2000AD, producing work that was almost identical in nature to what was being commissioned by that era’s Tharg, Steve MacManus. Fresh from their work on Slaine, Pat Mills and Glenn Fabry originated the strip “Scatha,” another Celtic-themed slice of sword and sorcery (the strip was featured by the Bear Alley blog way back in 2008). Pete Milligan and Brendan McCarthy, just off 2000AD‘s “Sooner or Later,” came up with “Summer of Love,” a similar mix of social commentary, puns, quips and surrealism.
The greatest comics of all time don’t appear on bestseller charts or canon lists or big-box bookstore shelves. They are the property of the back issue bins and thrift store crates and convention hawkers of America, living like the medium itself in the unseen crags and pockets of publishing history…
Paradax! Remix, drawn by Brendan McCarthy, colored by Frankie Stein and McCarthy, scripted by Peter Milligan. Cover-dated August 1987. Published by Vortex Comics.
How acquired: As a major proponent of old-school analog back issue hunting, it pains me to admit that everything leading to my ownership of this comic happened online. Brendan McCarthy is one of a very few great cartoonists whose complete works can be feasibly tracked down by normal dudes with rent to make and girlfriends’ acting classes to pay for, and having decided to become one such dude, I used the unofficial guide that can be pieced together from this Comics Comics Magazine comments thread as a road map for a shopping spree at an online back issue retailer. Two weeks later a box of McCarthy comics, including this one, showed up.