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Food or Comics? | Casanova, New 52 and more

Casanova: Avaritia

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.

Chris Mautner

If I had $15:

I’m very excited to read Casanova: Avaritia ($4.99), the first new Casanova storyline in what seems like a dog’s age. There’s something about this series that seems to bring out Fraction’s best, perhaps it’s the mere fact he’s working with Fabio Moon and (this time around) Gabriel Ba allows him to rise to the occasion. That and The Boys #58 ($3.99) will probably round out my initial purchases.

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The Fifth Color | Your supporting cast and you

Fantastic Four #600

Spider-Man can be on every team!

So, yeah, it looks like Fantastic Four, one of the most important comics to come from the House of Ideas, will return for its 600th issue. A momentous occasion to be sure, as a little less than a year seems to be about enough time for people to understand Johnny Storm’s place on the team, what makes the Fantastic Four different without one of its founding members and, hopefully, we’ll all appreciate him a little more now that he’s … well, on the cover. Gotta wait for the issue to be super-sure, but let’s give the boys in the Bullpen the benefit of the doubt and say that the Human Torch is back to stay.

Technically, he’s been gone for nine months, an auspicious amount of time as the rest of his team has somewhat given birth to an absolutely new idea: the Future Foundation. A sort of in-house Illuminati, if you will; the same old adventuring team paired off with its greatest villains, looking to safeguard all their interests at once. The white-and-black uniforms don’t really do that idea justice, do they? That’s a lot of gray area to be working with. And in the end, it was all masterminded by a little girl named Valeria.

The Richards’ kids have their own plot, their own motivations and their own secrets to keep. These two supporting characters have taken a lot of the center stage, both in Future Foundation and even in Fear Itself (seriously, go read Book Five and tell me these kids don’t deserve their own title). Franklin’s been around for years, an interesting new generation that actually was born and grew into an independent character as we read. He’s like the child actor who grows up and gets his own prime-time TV show.

Tell me that’s not cool. Tell me that seeing background or supporting characters step into the foreground and, sometimes, even get their own books is not a masterful trick of storytelling. Writer Jonathan Hickman wasn’t telling the story of the Death of Johnny Storm, he was telling us of the Rise of Franklin and Valeria. And now when November hits, Future Foundation stories will have gotten their foundation, so to speak, and support themselves as their own title while the newly reformed FF can go have a different style of adventure.

More about character balance, the size of your supporting cast and M.O.D.O.K. fighting Nazis after the break …

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Balloonless: Marc DiPaolo’s War, Politics and Superheroes

Because you are reading this column on Robot 6, which is one of the blogs attached to Comic Book Resources, which is a long-time website devoted to covering all aspects of comic books, from industry to fandom, it’s safe to assume that you already have the equivalent experience of a Bachelor of Arts in superhero studies.

Therefore, Oklahoma City University professor Marc DiPaolo’s War, Politics and Superheroes: Ethics and Propaganda in Comics and Film is probably going to be something you’ll enjoy curling up with or reading on the beach, even if it is a college textbook with the words “politics” and “ethics” right there in the title. (And, if you’re already pretty conversant in superheroes, it’s worth noting that DiPaolo never talks down to readers, so his work is easy to engage with even if a Superhero and Politics 101 book seems like something you’re well beyond).

DiPaolo defines “superhero” rather widely, including not only the capes and codenames crowd popularized by DC and Marvel, but also Captain Kirk, James Bond, Dr. Who, Rambo, Xena and Jack Bauer and other such idealized heroic figures from genre entertainment. His cast assembled, his book contains a series of chapter-length essays, each dealing with a particular character or group of characters and various political readings of their various adventures.

Broadly, the thesis is that superhero adventures comment on, react to and even shape American public opinion and government policy, a discussion largely divorced from the opinions or intentions of their creators (With a few obvious exceptions, like the way the various worldviews of Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and John Romita shaped the original Spider-Man comics).

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Comics A.M. | Comic sales fall 11% in May; CBLDF joins fight over Utah law

Fear Itself #2

Publishing | May marked the worst month of the year for the direct market since January as sales of comic books and graphic novels fell 11.21 percent versus May 2010. Chart watcher John Jackson Miller chalks up the decline to a combination of retailers ordering more Free Comic Book Day titles than “for-profit” books and publishers’ summer events heating up a little later this year. Marvel led Diamond Comic Distributors’ list of top comics for the month with Fear Itself #2, followed by the first issue of DC’s Flashpoint. Avatar topped the graphic novel chart with Crossed 3D, Vol. 1. [The Comichron]

Legal | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has joined a coalition that includes booksellers, media companies and the ACLU of Utah in seeking to permanently stop enforcement of a 2005 Utah statute that would regulate Internet speech that some consider “harmful to minors,” including works of art, graphic novels, information about sexual health and the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. The law has not gone into effect because Utah consented to a temporary injunction until the case can be decided. [press release]

Awards | A reminder: Online voting ends today for the 2011 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. The winners will be announced July 22 during Comic-Con International in San Diego. [Eisner Awards]

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C2E2 | A round-up of news and announcements from this weekend

C2E2

The second C2E2 convention, hosted by ReedPOP in Chicago, wrapped up yesterday. Here’s an attempt to round up all the comic-related news that was announced at various panels during the show. I’d be surprised if I didn’t miss something.

While Marvel and DC Comics were both in attendance and held multiple panels, Marvel dominated in terms of the number of announcements, which is no surprise — DC tends to favor announcing new projects and creative teams on their Source blog rather than at conventions these days. I only point this out after seeing the long list of Marvel announcements and the far fewer DC ones in my summary below.

• Marvel confirmed earlier reports by officially announcing the creative teams for the two “Big Shots” titles they’ve been teasing, Daredevil and The Punisher. Irredeemable/Amazing Spider-Man writer Mark Waid will pen Daredevil, with Amazing Spider-Man artists Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin illustrating.

“Tonally, it’s still very much a crime series, but we’re toning down the noir a bit and playing up the high adventure a bit more,” Waid told Comic Book Resources. “He’s the Man Without Fear. I want to see that constantly. I want to see him diving face-first into perils that would make Green Lantern shriek like a little girl.”

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What Are You Reading?

Deadpool Team-Up #886

Hello and welcome to a special “birthday bash” edition of our weekly “What Are You Reading” feature, where the Robot 6 crew talks about what books we’ve read recently. Usually we invite a special guest to share what they’ve been reading, but since today isn’t just an ordinary day for us, we thought we’d invite a whole bunch of special guests to help us out — our friends and colleagues from Comic Book Resources, Spinoff and Comics Should Be Good!

To see what everyone has been reading, click below …

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The Fifth Color | Man or Monster?

Man... or Monster? U DECIDE!

My Distinguished (and Ghoulish) Colleague said Thursday that “there is a fundamental tension between the horror and superhero genres.” Or, as I see it, when Superheroes and Horror room together, one of them winds up taking up the living room. Mania.com went further and compared the horror comics of Marvel to those of their Distinguished Competitors. They came to the conclusion that DC has a stronger horror line, mostly because of the Vertigo imprint. “We don’t normally associate Marvel with horror comics”, said Chad Derdowski . “When you hear the words ‘Marvel horror,’ you probably have to scratch your head and think about it for a bit and nearly everything you come up with is ultimately going to fall into the superhero category.”

Which is probably the best argument for Marvel having just as strong of a horror element in their titles as DC. Because let’s face it: what scares you? The idea of ghosts and goblins, or that drunk driver swerving uncomfortably on the road in front of you? What terrifies you more, the dark thoughts of a killer or the threat of unemployment? There’s horror, and there’s personal horror, and both are frightful.

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SDCC ’10 | Marvel Studios regains film rights for the Punisher

punisher_skull“Frank Castle is under the roof of Marvel Studios now and we hope to bring him into the fray shortly.” As our sister site Spinoff is reporting, that’s what Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige announced to the crowd during the Marvel movie panel at the San Diego Comic-Con last night. This appears to mean the Punisher is now as much a potential part of the Marvel “Cinematic Universe” as Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, and the rest of the Avengers gang.

Previously, film rights to the Punisher had belonged to Lionsgate, which made two Punisher movies — 2004′s The Punisher, starring Thomas Jane, and 2008′s Punisher: War Zone, starring Ray Stevenson. The latter film was the source of much behind-the-scenes controversy, with Jane departing the franchise and rumors of strife with director Lexi Alexander. Like the Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, Blade, and Daredevil films, Lionsgates’ Punisher movies were made outside of the control of Marvel proper. (As was, of course, the infamous Roger Corman-produced, Dolph Lundgren-starring version from 1989.)

Feige’s brief statement appears to be the only info about the Punisher making his Marvel that’s out there, so it remains to be seen exactly how and when he’ll join the fray.

What Are You Reading?

King City #9

King City #9

Happy Comic-Con week, and welcome to What Are You Reading? This week our special guest contributors are Jim Demonakos and Kyle Stevens from the Seattle nerd rock band Kirby Krackle. The band, whose newest video features Wolverine, is currently in Florida for Nerdapalooza, and will be in San Diego later this week at booth #1803. So stop by and say hi if you’re going.

See what the boys from Kirby Krackle, as well as the rest of the Robot 6 crew, have been reading lately after the jump …

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Straight for the art | Jim Rugg draws my childhood

by Jim Rugg

by Jim Rugg

This weekend’s HeroesCon will feature an art auction, and artist Jim Rugg is showing off his submission — featuring everyone from Lobo and Hellboy to the friggin’ Road Warriors — on his blog.

On an unrelated note, why the hell do I not have this convention in my travel plans every year?

C2E2 | A roundup of day one news

Shadowlands

Shadowlands

The news and announcements flowed freely on the first day of the brand new C2E2 convention, as well as at the Diamond retailer’s summit on Thursday. Here’s a quick summary, in case you missed anything …

  • At the Diamond retailer’s summit, Diamond polled retailers on the possibility of moving from a Wednesday to a Tuesday ship date for comics. This would put them in line with DVDs, music and books.
  • Marvel kicked off the con with a lot of announcements, not the least of which was two different Captain America mini-series. First up, Steve Rogers jumps into action in Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier, a four-issue miniseries by Ed Brubaker and artist Dale Eaglesham that kicks off in July. Eaglesham will no longer be drawing Fantastic Four as a result.
  • That same month brings Captain America: Patriot, by Karl Kesel and Mitch Breitweiser. The four-issue series stars Jeff Mace, the former Patriot who took on the uniform while Rogers was frozen in a block of ice.
  • Marvel also discussed the long-talked about Shadowland, a five-issue series by Andy Diggle and Billy Tan during their Mondo Marvel panel and their retailer presentation on Thursday. “You’re going to see a ton of heroes from Spider-Man and Wolverine to Luke Cage…some are fighting to keep New York safe, and some are fighting to keep it unsafe due to Daredevil’s takeover of the ninja organization The Hand,” said Editor Steve Wacker.
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Frankachu, I choose you (and please don’t eat me)

Frankachu

Frankachu

You might remember the promo image that Marvel released a few weeks back that shows the Punisher being turned into some sort of Frankenstein’s Monster. Well, now you can build your own Frank Castle … or at least give him a head. Head over to Marvel.com to download the template, add a head, then upload your creation to the Flickr set Marvel’s set up, where you can see such ungodly creations as Frankachu (above) and FrankenQuesada.

The Fifth Color | Man Made Monster

There it is.  Bask in its glory.  There is so much in so little that this teaser image can be dismissed as cheap marketing, stringing readers along, chasing after a dead horse in the form of the zombie bandwagon, even vaguely familiar.  But, the longer you look at it, the more you start to see and if you really think about it, turning Frank Castle into some sort of sewn together undead abomination is simply what’s left, America.

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Jason Aaron, Steve Dillon confirmed on relaunched Punisher MAX [Updated]

Punisher MAX #1

Punisher MAX #1

Today’s episode of G4′s Attack of the Show confirmed what’s been rumored for more than two months: that writer Jason Aaron and artist Steve Dillon will take on Marvel’s Punisher.

According to “Fresh Ink” host Blair Butler, the two creators will relaunch Punisher MAX with a new No. 1 issue in November. The current mature-readers title, the awkwardly named The Punisher: Frank Castle MAX, appears to be ending in September.

The new series reportedly will feature the debut of Bullseye and Kingpin in the MAX universe — can that be right? — with the first story arc focusing on the rise of Wilson Fisk through the ranks of the criminal underworld and the role Frank Castle plays in his ascent.

Word of the Aaron-Dillon teamup began circulating in early May after colorist Matt Hollingsworth listed “Punisher starting with issue #75,” along with the creators’ names, under the “Current Comics Work” header.

Dillon previously worked with Garth Ennis from 2001 to 2003 on the Marvel Knights imprint version of The Punisher, and later drew the Bullseye: Greatest Hits and Punisher vs. Bullseye miniseries. Aaron, who’s best known for his work on Scalped, Wolverine and Ghost Rider, wrote last year’s Punisher MAX X-Mas Special.

Update: You can watch the “Fresh Ink” segment here.

Marvel.com now has more details in an interview with Aaron: “The [Marvel Universe] Bullseye doesn’t work in the MAX Universe. You can’t have a guy running around in a costume killing people with toothpicks and playing cards. We’re not going to see that, but it’ll still be true to what we know about Bullseye.”

Naked Kill puts the (pornographic) pun in Punisher

Punisher MAX: Naked Kill

Punisher MAX: Naked Kill

The “Explicit Content” warning on Marvel’s MAX titles has long covered a multitude of sins: profanity, graphic violence, sex scenes, “adult situations.”

Now add to the list a string of puns, of the pornographic variety.

Before we go any further, let me offer a warning of my own: This post contains words — really just one word, used repeatedly — that may offend some readers. There’s also a panel from the comic in question that clearly shows that word. I’ll hide everything after the break.

Last night, CBR posted a preview of Punisher MAX: Naked Kill, a one-shot by horror novelist Jonathan Maberry and artist Laurence Campbell that sends Frank Castle on the trail of a “murderous snuff-film ring.” An adult situation, certainly.

On the first page we see a group of men — “a bunch of mooks on the distribution end of a torture porn ring” — watching one of the movies, which appears to star a … luchador? Sure, why not.

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