Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
When I was younger, I used to read dozens of Star Trek novels. I would check them out of the library, find them at rummage sales, scour bookstore, all to gather more tales of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Each novel could flesh out the lives of the crew and detail their adventures in ways no television show or film ever could. Want the Next Generation crew to meet the original cast in their prime? It could be done! Want to travel to the end of time and space with the Q Continuum? Or the shape-shifting Constable Odo to become a gigantic monster and battle an even larger creature in the middle of Deep Space Nine? Anything was possible in those novels, except change.
Every novel had to put the crew back into their places by the final chapter. The television shows were still airing in the ’90s, so while those novels could go anywhere and do anything, nothing could really change beyond what we saw on TV each week. Commander Riker couldn’t lose a leg in the novels if Jonathan Frakes wasn’t going to be using a prosthetic on the show. Major Kira couldn’t quit her job in one book if Nana Visitor wasn’t leaving Deep Space Nine. While the novelized adventures had all this freedom, they still couldn’t shake the status quo.
Creators | In a new profile of Naif Al-Mutawa, the creator of the Islamic superhero comic The 99 addresses the death threats made against him by ISIS and the fatwa issued against the animated adaptation in Saudi Arabia, and reveals he recently met with Kuwaiti police “to answer the charges of being a heretic.” Mutawa also blames pressure from “a handful of conservative bloggers” in the United States for The Hub not following through with plans to air the animated series. He said that after President Obama praised his work in 2010, attacks on him escalated in the United States, where he was painted as a jihadist “intent on radicalizing young kids to make them suicide bombers. And here [in the Gulf] I became an apostate Zionist. My mother told me growing up, be careful who your friends are because you end up inheriting their enemies. And that’s what happened: I don’t know President Obama. I’m very honored he called me out. But the hate became magnified after that.” [Al-Monitor]
Legal | Three assistants of the Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar were arrested last week for selling his books. They were set up near the Putrajaya courthouse, where opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is on trial for sodomy, a charge Ibrahim claims is politically motivated. In a press release, Zunar said the three assistants were “investigated under The Sedition Act, Penal Code and Printing and Press Act” and released on bail. It has only been a month since a Malaysian appeals court overturned a government ban on two of Zunar’s books. [Cartoonists Rights Network International]
Creators | Garry Trudeau discusses his portrayals of different presidents, and politics in general, in Doonesbury and Alpha House. [The New York Times]
Much like Sam Wilson said himself, the new Captain America wasn’t much of a surprise. We have known the Falcon was going to take Cap’s position since July, so the cover of Captain America #25 is kind of a misnomer. However, as Rick Remender wraps up his current storyline and starts the next chapter, I was plenty surprised to see an enormous roster of Avengers gathered on the page.
No stranger to teasers, Marvel has posted a neat little video that recounts the story so far in the Marvel Universe that sets the stage for the publisher’s AXIS mega-event. The three-and-a-half-minute clip narrates all the relevant story points from Avengers Vs. X-Men and Rick Remender’s Uncanny Avengers, including the death of Charles Xavier, the establishment of the Avengers/X-Men Unity Squad, and the recent events of the “Avenge the Earth” story arc.
Legal | Attorney Tom Goldstein, co-founder of the respected SCOTUSblog, has joined with Marc Toberoff to represent the heirs of Jack Kirby in their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of the Second Circuit’s affirmation that the artist’s contributions to Marvel between 1958 and 1963 were work for hire and therefore not subject to copyright termination. In a response filed this week to Marvel’s brief urging the high court to decline review, Goldstein and Toberoff again challenge the Second Circuit’s “instance and expense” test and its definition of “employer,” and argue, “Many of our most celebrated literary and musical works were created before 1978 and signed away to publishers in un-remunerative transactions. Termination rights were ‘needed because of the unequal bargaining position of authors.’ It would be hard to find a better example of this than the prolific Jack Kirby, who worked in his basement with no contract, no financial security and no employment benefits, but without whom Marvel might not even be in business today.” [Hollyqood, Esq.]
Retailing | Memo to politicians: You don’t win friends and influence people by taking up five spots in a comic store’s parking lot with your campaign bus on a Wednesday — especially when it’s Batman Day. [The Clarion-Ledger]
The biggest comics news Thursday out of Comic-Con International was undoubtedly that, after years of debate, comiXology has introduced DRM-free backups of titles purchased from its storefront, with Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent, Top Shelf Productions and Zenescope Entertainment signing on to the program.
An email went out last night notifying customers that books they’ve purchased can be downloaded and stored as PDF or CBZ files, and pointing them to an FAQ on the subject.
“This has been an oft-requested feature,” comiXology CEO David Steinberger said during the company’s Comic-Con panel. “It’s a real backup file — it’s a fairly plain PDF or CBZ. They are high resolution, not a lot of bells and whistles, and my feeling is that people will continue to use the cloud-based reader to do their reading.”
The other big announcement was that Marvel will publish Avengers: Age of Ultron, an in-continuity graphic novel by the Uncanny X-Force team of Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña and Dean White scheduled to arrive in April 2015, ahead of the premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Superhero comics deal in extremes: Characters overreact, the world is in constant jeopardy, and the solution almost always involves physical combat. So maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised when the #FireRickRemender fiasco erupted. There was no conversation. Instead, people hurled accusations and argued over whether a writer should keep his job, while others mocked the whole thing. The rest of us silently watched from the sidelines, and that was pretty much it: That was how comics professionals, fans and industry observers handled a three-page scene from Captain America #22.
I guess I should be happy that people are so passionate about these stories and the creators behind them. If we were all so blasé and detached, sales would probably not just be flat so far this year, they’d be in the gutters. Yet I can’t help but feel disappointed, because I know we can do better than this.
“On the Internet, sometimes what appears to be an explosion is really just a fart. The accusations are totally without merit. A handful of people who have it in for Rick started a witch hunt against him, claiming he had written a scene in Captain America #22 that portrayed the Falcon engaging in what amounted to statutory rape. They used social media to spread the word, and we got some angry emails — about 90 percent which came from people who stated right out the gate that hadn’t even read the issue, but were incensed by what they’d heard Rick had written.
Let me be clear: An attack on Rick’s integrity is an attack on Marvel’s integrity. We would never publish a scene that had one of our super heroes engage in such an act. Jet Black is a 23-year-old woman. She was a pre-teen at the start of Rick’s run, but since that time, the book has jumped forward 13 years in the future, and Jet — along with Steve and Ian — has aged 13 years. In Captain America #22, it is explicitly stated that Jet is 23, and she is rendered [by artist Carlos Pacheco] as a fully adult woman. Jet Black is a 23-year-old woman. End of story.”
– Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, talking with Comic Book Resources about the social-media firestorm that followed the release of Captain America #22
A social-media firestorm that erupted late last week urging Marvel to fire Captain America writer Rick Remender fizzled out by Sunday as the Twitter hashtag was hijacked and a Tumblr post explaining that the Falcon didn’t have drunken sex with a 14-year-old gained traction.
The controversy began shortly after the release on Wednesday of Captain America #22, which depicts Sam Wilson waking in bed next to Jet Zola (aka Jet Black), the daughter of Arnim Zola, after the two shared a little too much wine. Although Jet appears to be a prepubescent child when introduced in the first issue of Remender’s run, time passes rapidly in Dimension Z, where we’re told Steve Rogers spent at least 12 years. A rough estimation that Jet would now be in her early 20s is confirmed by a reference to her 23rd birthday during a brief flashback in the issue in question.
Perhaps some readers didn’t fully understand the timeline, or they confused Jet with her significantly young brother Ian (in fairness they did look a lot alike), and skipped over — or, in some cases, disregarded — the mention of the 23rd birthday. Whatever the case, some concluded from the three-page scene that Sam Wilson committed statutory rape.
At the Image Expo in January, one of the many (many, many) projects announced was a third Rick Remender project — Low, with artist Greg Tocchini, who Remender worked with on Uncanny X-Force and Last Days of American Crime. Today Image announced the first issue would arrive July 30.
It joins Remender’s two other projects with the publisher, Black Science and Deadly Class, and is set in a future where humanity lives on the bottom of the ocean in cities shielded from a dying sun’s radiation. When a probe returns from space, a brave group heads to the surface to retrieve it.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has unveiled Nick Klein’s Liberty Variant for Deadly Class #1, which will premiere this weekend at Wizard World Portland in Portland, Oregon.
Debuting today, the new Image Comics series by Rick Remender, Wesley Craig and Lee Loughridge centers on students at a high school for future assassins in the late 1980s.
Events | The second annual Black Comic Book Festival will take place this weekend at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City. The lineup of guests includes Norwood Steven Harris, Grey Williamson and Tim Fielder. “It is the largest gathering of black comic book fans in the country,” says Schomburg Director Khalil Gibran Muhammad. “There is something for everyone from the aspirational 9-year-old illustrator, to the costumed superheroes, to the lifelong collectors.” [New York Daily News]
Creators | Ed Brubaker discusses the exclusive deal he and Sean Phillips signed with Image Comics, announced last week at Image Expo: ” It’s almost like having your own label or something. Just the fact that we can green-light our own projects and we have approval over format, everything. … I feel like we have such a core audience that seems to follow us from thing to thing, so let’s take advantage of that and really just experiment and go crazy and just be artists.” [IGN]
Image Comics has provided ROBOT 6 with a preview of Deadly Class #1, which is kind of like a John Hughes movie if The Breakfast Club kids were highly trained assassins. Set in the 1980s, Deadly Class tells the story of Marcus Lopez, who attends King’s Dominion High School, “the most brutal high school on Earth, where the world’s top crime families send the next generation of assassins to be trained.” At their heart, though, they’re still teenagers.
“These kids are ’80s kids, but the story of being a teenager is always the same,” said artist Wes Craig. “I mean, the styles change, but there’s always someone being picked on, someone who just got dumped, some girl spreading rumors about another girl, someone who’s having a party and someone who’s got a plan to get booze with a fake I.D. That’s where I can relate to the teenage stuff, because I went through that just like everyone else, and no matter how many years pass, it’s still easy for us to flash back to those experiences.”
Deadly Class is the second creator-owned series written by Rick Remender to debut from Image over the past couple months, following the fun Black Science. Craig is joined on art by colorist Lee Loughridge, and as you can see below the results are pretty phenomenal.
Deadly Class #1 hits stores Jan. 22.
With the debuts of Winter Soldier: The Bitter March, Rick Remender and Roland Boschi, and the relaunched Wolverine, by Paul Cornell and Ryan Stegman, quickly approaching, Marvel has supplied ROBOT 6 with exclusive new looks at pages from both comics.
The preview begins with a color splash page from Wolverine #1, previously released in black and white, and concludes with an action-packed (and snowy) two-page spread from Winter Soldier: The Bitter March #1, which kicks off the five-issue miniseries set during the 1960s.
Both comics arrive in February. See the full pages and solicitation text below.