Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
This February writer Greg Rucka and artist Marco Checchetto pit the Punisher against a soldier “who is more like him than either of them realize,” as a group of former Hydra and AIM agents work together to bring Frank Castle down. It all happens in The Punisher #8, and courtesy of our friends at Marvel Comics, we’re pleased to bring you an exclusive preview of that issue.
Check it out, along with the solicitation info, below.
Let’s not mince words, the online presence of Tom Brevoort has provided hours of great reading for Robot 6 readers. Given his constant and unflagging willingness to interact with consumers via social media, Brevoort is a quote machine (His Twitter bio? “A man constantly on the verge of saying something stupid–for your entertainment!?”). There’s always a directness (some would say bluntness) to his manner online–making him the ideal subject for an interview. Last year saw Marvel promote Brevoort to senior vice president for publishing. 2011 was a year of some major successes for Marvel, as well as a year where some hard business decisions were made. In this interview, conducted in mid-December via email, I tried to cover a great deal of ground (we even briefly discuss DC’s New 52 success)–and Brevoort did not hold back on any of his answers. For that, I am extremely grateful. Like any high profile comics executive, Brevoort has his fans and his critics (and many in between), but I like to think this exchange offers some perspectives everyone can enjoy.
Tim O’Shea: Whether it’s in your job description or not, fan outreach via social media is definitely part of your job–clearly by your own choice. What benefit or enjoyment do you get from interacting with the fans/consumers?
Tom Brevoort: I’m not sure that I get a particular benefit, except maybe just being the center of attention for a few minutes—maybe everything I do is motivated by ego! I’m a whore for the spotlight! But I started doing this kind of outreach back in the formative days of internet fandom, largely because I like the idea of internet fandom. I know that, if the internet had existed when I was a young comic book reader, I’d have been on those message boards and in those chat rooms all the time, obsessively—just like a certain portion of the audience today. So I like the idea of giving back, of being accessible enough that anybody who has a question or a concern knows where to find me, or at least to find somebody with an insider’s track who might have the background and knowledge to speak to their point. In a very real way, it’s all an outgrowth of what Stan Lee did in his letters pages and Bullpen pages. Joe Q, I think, was really the first person to perfect that approach for the internet age. As EIC he was incredibly available to the audience in a myriad of ways. It’s a philosophy that’s very much woven into our DNA at Marvel. And for the most part, our fans are interesting, vibrant, cool people, especially when you meet them in person.
PunisherMAX will end with February’s Issue 22, Newsarama reports, ahead of what Marvel characterizes as “a big change” coming to its mature-readers imprint.
Although the conclusion follows January’s “final brutal confrontation between the Punisher and Kingpin,” it’s unclear whether this is the planned ending for the series. Writer Jason Aaron told Comic Book Resources in August, just as the current arc was beginning, that, “This is the culmination of the Punisher/Kingpin story, but it’s not my last story on the book. There are definitely plans in place after this next arc, but I can’t talk about them without spoiling what’s coming up.”
PunisherMAX, by Aaron and artist Steve Dillon, debuted in November 2009, following the end of the 75-issue run of the original mature-readers Punisher series (retitled The Punisher: Frank Castle during its final year). PunisherMAX and Deadpool MAX are the imprint’s only current monthly series.
News of the title’s end arrives just a day after CBR reported that X-23 will be canceled with January’s Issue 20. It’s the latest in a string of abrupt cancellations at Marvel that includes Alpha Flight, Victor Von Doom, Destroyers, Iron Man 2.0 and All-Winners Squad.
Update (5:47 p.m. PT): Aaron commented on Twitter, writing, “PUNISHER MAX is ending, the way I always intended it. It was not canceled.”
This afternoon on Twitter, Marvel Editor Steve Wacker teased two pages of stunning art by Marco Checchetto from “the next Punisher.” Presumably that’s Issue 4, with writer Greg Rucka, which arrives Oct. 12. “Easily one of the best books around,” Wacker wrote. Check out both pages below.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly column where we successfully answer the question in the title. Our special guest this week is Janice Headley, events coordinator, publicist and “ambassador of awesome” for Fantagraphics.
To see what Janice and the Robot 6 crew have been reading this week, click the link 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’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.
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 …
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).
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]
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.”
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 …
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.
“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.
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 …
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?