Phantom Lady Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

Balloonless | Matt Baker: The Art of Glamour

It’s really a shame that Golden Age artist Matt Baker was so relatively mysterious among his peers, as the historical importance of his influential work and his being one of the first and few black men working in comics at the time make him a figure a lot of people should want to know more about.

That there are so many question marks regarding Baker’s personal and professional life beyond his drawing table isn’t exactly a tragic thing, however. As editor Jim Amash notes during an interview included in his Matt Baker: The Art of Glamour, it meant Baker could be appreciated for his work more than any biographical details, as interesting and colorful as some of those may be .

Fred Robinson, Baker’s half-brother, puts it this way in the interview: “The reason that Matt got so much work wasn’t because he was black or white; he got it because he was good. It’s as simple as that. If you’re good, and you have what people want, they’re going to use you. You get hired. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier mainly because he was good; he could play ball better than anyone else. He just happened to be black.”

Baker died in 1959 at just 38 years old, the victim of a lifelong heart problem, and therefore didn’t live as long as so many of his peers (some of whom, like the 90-year-old Stan Lee, are still working today), and didn’t even last long enough for the rise of a fan culture around comics, and the nostalgia-driven efforts to collect and chronicle the medium’s beginnings.

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Women of Action | Phantom Lady

Enough time has passed since the release of Phantom Lady, by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Cat Staggs, that I wasn’t sure I should still write about it as part of the Women of Action series. However, think it continues to be worth thinking about for a couple of reasons: First, despite it being a miniseries from last autumn, it’s part of a continuing event that’s still playing out in the DC Universe (namely, the gradual introduction of the New 52 Freedom Fighters). Second, it’s pretty good. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

I have fond memories of a couple of Freedom Fighter comics (or possibly, appearances of the team in other people’s comics) as a kid, but I don’t know a lot about the group and didn’t read the most recent series before DC shut it down to make way for Flashpoint and the New 52. I’m familiar with Phantom Lady mostly through the character’s affiliation with Matt Baker, one of my favorite artists, and I know about Doll Man (who gets his name on the cover, if not in the official indicia), primarily thanks to Craig Yoe’s old Doll Man Monday feature on the Super I.T.C.H. website. In other words, I needed an introduction.

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Food or Comics? | Matzo or Masks

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes softcover slipcase

Chris Mautner

If I had $15, I’d get Remake 3xtra, the latest comic in Lamar Abrams’ occasional superhero/manga satire. I’d also get Batman Inc. #5 to get another glimpse into the Gotham City of the future, where Damian has taken on his father’s superhero role.

If I had $30, I’d check out Dante’s Inferno, Kevin Jackson and Hunt Emerson’s adaptation of the classic poem. The British Emerson has been around since the days of the underground, but he hasn’t gotten much attention, at least on these shores, which seems odd given what a funny and facile cartoonist he is. He tends to fire on all cylinders when riffing on classic literature, too, so I imagine this will be a pretty great book.

Splurge: I don’t own the hardcover edition, so the new paperback collection of the Complete Calvin and Hobbes seems like a no-brainer to me. On the other hand, Humanoids is releasing the Technopriests Supreme Collection, an omnibus, epic sci-fi story that is yet another spin off of Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius’ Incal. This particular series features art by Zoran Janjetov.

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Food or Comics? | Lobster or Liberty Annual

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

CBLDF Liberty Annual 2012

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, I’d line up to get the this year’s CBLDF Liberty Annual #5 (Image, $4.99). I’m an anthology junkie, and this hits that perfectly while also benefiting a good cause. The creator list is amazing – even without knowing who’s working with whom. After that, I’d get Happy #2 (Image, $2.99). This book’s first issue hit me harder than I expected; I was buying it for Grant Morrison to wow me with his writing, but it was Darick Robertson’s artwork that hit me square between the eyes. I’ve read all the issues of Transmetropolitan and most of The Boys, but his art here has graduated up a level and I’m almost salivating at thinking of this second issue. Third this week would be Wolverine and the X-Men #19 (Marvel, $3.99), quietly usurping Uncanny X-Force as my favorite Marvel book on the stands. Last issue’s Doop-centric theme was great for me, but I’m excited to see star pupil Nick Bradshaw back on pencils for this issue.

If I had $30, I’d double back and get Higher Earth, Vol. 1 (Boom!, $14.99) Canceled or not, this series looks interesting despite my bailing after Issue 1. It’s a complicated concept (from what I gleaned from the first issue), but I’m looking to let Humphries school me on this.

If I could splurge, I’d snatch up EC: Wally Wood – Came the Dawn and Other Stories (Fantagraphics, $28.99). I’ve been aware of Wally Wood for a almost two decades now, but I tend to go through periods of simply floating around before I consume and learn more about him in short but voracious periods. Last time it was in the bloom of Fear Agent, and seeing this in Previews a few months back got me jonesing to do it again.

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Previews: What Looks Good for December

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. We’ve each picked the five comics we’re most anticipating in order to create a list of the best new stuff coming out two months from now.

As usual, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell us what we missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

Avengers #1

Chris Arrant

Avengers #1 (Marvel): Has Marvel NOW! already gotten enough attention? Maybe so, but that’s partly the reason I’m highlighting this specific book. In the rising tide that’s pushed all of the Marvel NOW relaun!ches, for me — as a fan and journalist — the marketing has dulled the unique appeal of every book. Flipping through Previews and giving this a deeper critical eye, it made me realize – this is Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opeña doing Avengers, the de facto flagship book of Marvel since 2004. Opeña really turned a corner with Uncanny X-Force, and I’m interested to see how Hickman brings his meticulous plotting to a biweekly book with a cast larger than Circus of the Stars. And what’s interesting is that he’s done a version of this when he relaunched the “Ultimate” version of the Avengers in Ultimate Comics: Ultimates. I’m not saying this will be that re-heated over, but it’ll be interesting to see how he takes roughly the same characters and bobs instead of weaves.

Hiroaki Samura’s Emerald and Other Stories (Dark Horse): Samura’s Blade of the Immortal was a major manga when it debuted, but when you have one artist doing a long, drawn-out story it tends to dull in the eyes of fans on the outside looking in. But his short-story collection Ohikkoshi was fun, modern and completely different – a great bite-size snack from the eight-course meal/buffet that is Blade of the Immortal. This collection looks to be like that, centered around Samura’s western teen drama Emerald. I’ve heard of another set of stories called Bradherley’s Coach about a family whose business is to ferry orphans to their new home, which I hope is in here as well.

Mara #1 (Image): I’ve been loving Brian Wood’s work since he jumped to AiT-PlanetLar too many years ago, and seeing him branch out with another new series makes me wish for Brian Wood Month all over again. Besides swami Brian, it’s the artist he’s doing this with that really deserves some attention; Ming Doyle has killed it in her work featured on Project: Rooftop (shameless plug), and when she moved to doing shorts for Marvel in things like Fantastic Four she showed she could really play with the big boys. Seeing Wood and Doyle doing a sports-themed action series set in the future, this is a unique-looking story that’ll be at the top of my stack when it comes out on Dec. 26.

Hip Flask: Ourborous (Image): In comics today there’s a rare group of artists that are like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ents; an older race who were once masters of the world but now subsist on making rare, but eventful appearances. Alan Moore is this way; so is Art Adams. To that list I’d like to add Ladrönn. This has my money, even if I didn’t know how great a story this is.

Orcs, Vol. 1: Forged For War (First Second): Speaking of Tolkien, am I the only one that felt compassion for the Orcs in Lord of the Rings? Well, this reprinted graphic novel by writer Stan Nicholls and artist Joe Flood brings the orc race to the forefront. Orc Stain was great, and this could be too!

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Food or Comics? | Stelle or Steed and Peel

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Showcase Presents Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld, Volume 1

Graeme McMillan

It’s an odd one for me this week; if I had $15, I’d probably just grab two of DC’s Zero Month books (Batman Incorporated and Flash, both $2.99) and then skip straight to the $30 portion of the week so that I could pick up the Showcase Presents Amethyst, Vol. 1 collection (DC, $19.99), if only to reassure me that the original series was good after last week’s revival.

If I were to splurge, I’d step outside of DC’s purview and go for IDW’s Joe Kubert Tarzan Artist Edition. I was one of the many people who didn’t really “get” Kubert as a kid, but his linework won me over as I got older, and the chance to see some of his best-looking art in ”real size” is something that I’d love to be able to embrace.

Chris Mautner

If I had $15, I’d get Batman Incorporated #0, probably the only DC zero book I’ll get, and Vol. 11 of Yotsuba&!, because I could use some irrepressibly cute manga about an adorable green-haired girl right about now.

If I had $30, I’d put away Yotsuba&! and get Barbara, Osamu Tezuka’s manga about a would-be artist who takes in a lovely but strange homeless woman, only to become convinced that she is his personal muse. I know there was a bit of grumbling that DMP went the Kickstarter route in getting this published, but honestly, I’m just happy to have more Tezuka in print.

What constitutes a splurge purchase? How about six, hardcover, slipcased volumes of Robert Crumb’s sketchbook work, priced at about $1,600, courtesy of the fine folks at Taschen? Yeah, I think buying that would be a “splurge purchase.” It would also constitute sheer madness and a one-way trip to the poorhouse, but at least you’d have all those nice Crumb books to keep you company. I’m sure they’d make a fine pillow.

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Food or Comics? | Amontillado or Amulet

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.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Locke & Key: Grindhouse

Graeme McMillan

I don’t know quite why, considering I’ve been feeling cynical and disinterested in the DC Universe over the past couple of weeks, but I find myself tempted by both Flash Annual #1 and Justice League International Annual #1 (both DC Comics; $4.99) this week; something even more surprising considering I haven’t been following the JLI series past trying out the first issue. And yet, if I had $15 this week, I suspect I’d be using a chunk of it for that. I’d also grab Joe Hill and Gabriel Hernandez’ Locke & Key: Grindhouse (IDW Publishing, $3.99), because, well, Locke & Key is a very, very good comic book.

If I had $30, I may find myself picking up the first collection of Peter Panzerfaust (Vol. 1: The Great Escape; Image Comics; $14.99) because I like the high concept behind it even if I managed to miss the single issues. People who did pick it up in singles: Is it the kind of thing I’d like, do you think?

Should I find the money and ability to splurge, I find myself surprisingly drawn to Dark Horse’s Star Wars Omnibus: Clone Wars Vol. 1 ($24.99); I blame people in my Twitter feed talking about Star Wars Celebration last week, and my thinking, “I haven’t really kept up with Star Wars in ages” in response. Does that count as peer pressure?

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Phantom Lady returns this summer by Palmiotti, Gray, Staggs and Perotta

Phantom Lady

Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, who wrote the pre-New 52 Freedom Fighters title, will return to at least two of the characters this summer as they write a new Phantom Lady miniseries. Cat Staggs and Rich Perotta will provide the art for the four-issue series, which will co-star Doll Man. This being the New 52, though, they’ll have no relation to the previous versions of the characters.

“Phantom Lady and Doll Man is an exciting return to the roots of the characters as pulpy, street level crime fighters with a few new twists and some heavy sci-fi overtones,” Justin Gray told The Source. “We took the best of their original core concepts and updated them with no relation to our previous work on Phantom Lady and Doll Man in the Freedom Fighters. You’re getting in on the ground floor of the origin story of two people whose lives intersect and a common threat that transforms them into pretty amazing and engaging superheroes.”

Phantom Lady #1, which features a cover by Amanda Conner, goes on sale Aug. 29.

TwoMorrows offers readers print and digital options

The Quality Companion is a great book for lovers of comics history. It starts out with nine comics featuring heroes such as The Ray, Phantom Lady and The Human Bomb, with art by Jack Cole, Lou Fine and other comics luminaries, and then there is a detailed account of the history of the company. You may not have heard of Quality Comics (I hadn’t), but it was one of the early comics publishers and the original home of Jack Cole’s Plastic Man. Many of Quality’s characters were eventually absorbed by DC. The book is well-written and detailed, and the comics in the front are at once cheesy and fascinating.

TwoMorrows makes the book, and most of its other titles, available in two formats, a hardcover print book and a digital version. The digital book is a PDF, which means it can be downloaded and read on any device, without any concern about the distributor disappearing and taking it with them. That also means it could be easily pirated, and there’s a note in the front of the book telling people that if they downloaded it for free, they did so illegally. “Go ahead and read this digital issue, and see what you think,” the note continues. “If you enjoy it enough to keep it, please do the right thing and go to our site and purchase a legal download of this issue …” This makes so much sense that I don’t know why everyone else doesn’t do it.

It seems as if TwoMorrows has found a digital/print balance that works, at least for this type of book. The print edition is priced at $31.95 (marked down to $27.16 at the moment), and if you spring for it, you get the digital edition free. That’s quite a reasonable price for a book like this. Even better, the digital edition is priced at only $10.95. The print edition will obviously appeal to collector, but for someone like me, who wants to read the book and have it as a reference, the digital edition is a great deal, especially with no DRM.


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