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Theater claims it licensed Spider-Man from Stan Lee Media

Disney and MarvelNo matter how hard they try, Disney and Marvel can’t seem to shake the specter of Stan Lee Media: Just two months after a federal judge dismissed a multibillion lawsuit against Disney for ownership of the Marvel characters co-created by Stan Lee, the failed dot-com has emerged in another, seemingly unrelated dispute.

In September, Disney, Marvel and Cameron Mackintosh Ltd. sued Lancaster, Pennsylvania-bases American Music Theatre, saying it violated copyrights and trademarks by using elements of Spider-Man, Mary Poppins and The Lion King in its musical revue Broadway: Now and Forever (Disney and Mackintosh jointly hold the copyright to the Mary Poppins stage production).

On Monday the theater responded with an eye-opening claim of its own: that Disney doesn’t own Spider-Man. Instead, the counterclaim states, the character belongs to Stan Lee Media, which licensed the rights to the American Music Theatre.

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Jimmy Kimmel quizzes 4-year-old Marvel trivia maven

Mia vs. Marvel

Mia vs. Marvel

Earlier this year the Internet was dazzled by Mia Grace Montross, the 4-year-old daughter of a comic fan whose mutant power is knowing a lot about Marvel Comics, even more than her dad.

But does she know more than the superheroes themselves, or at least their Hollywood Boulevard counterparts? Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel decided to put Mia to the test, pitting her against some of the Marvel Universe’s best and brightest, including Iron Man, Captain America and Spider-Man. See her answer questions about Cap’s shield, Wakanda and more, as the heroes pretty much eat her dust.

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Venezuelan president blames Spider-Man for nation’s violence

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Costumed superheroes have developed a bit of a bad reputation over the past several months, and not without cause: There was the Spider-Man robbery on Hollywood Boulevard, the She-Hulk assault in York, England, the brawl between Spider-Man and two Captain Americas on Hollywood Boulevard, the Iron Man bank robbery in Florida, and, just this morning, the Spider-Man store robbery in Pittsburgh.

OK, so it’s primarily Spider-Man causing the problems. But can we blame the wall-crawler for the horrible violence plaguing an entire country? Let’s ask Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whose nation saw 16,000 murders in 2012, and another 3,400 in the first quarter of this year.

In a new interview with the Bolivian newspaper La Opinión, Maduro said there’s a correlation between youth violence and the idolization of superheroes — it contributes to a “factory of anti-values,” apparently — a connection he made while he and his wife were watching Spider-Man 3.

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Pittsburgh police arrest Spider-Man in store robbery

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Spider-Man has defeated foes ranging from the Green Goblin and Electro to Venom and the Rhino, but he’s no match for a convenience-store clerk with a Taser.

According to a Pittsburgh police report, a man wearing a Spider-Man costume entered the Atwood Xpress at 1:10 this morning and loudly asked the clerk, “How much money you got?” When the employee realized he was being robbed, he pulled out an “arcing Taser” and attempted to use on the wall-crawler, who then fled down the street quicker than Speed Demon.

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‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ announces a new web-slinger

justin matthew sargentThe Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has found a new Peter Parker.

Reeve Carney, who has starred in the title role since the production opened in 2010, gave his final performance Sunday night, after which he introduced his successor Justin Matthew Sargent. Carney, who announced his departure in July, soon will begin production on Showtime’s upcoming drama Penny Dreadful.

The production had held open casting calls for Reeve’s replacement, but settled on Sargent, who has been performing as the alternate lead in Spider-Man since August.

“We looked for our new lead in L.A. and New York,” producers Michael Cohl and Jere Harris said in a joint statement. “During Justin’s rehearsals as the alternate, we realized this is the guy to take over for Reeve. He is one of Broadway’s great rockers.”

Indeed, Sargent previously starred in the Broadway production of Rock of Ages.

A comics mystery in the Green Timbers forest

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Here’s a photo of a small stack of bagged and boarded comics that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police found near an abandoned squatter’s camp in the Green Timbers forest near Surrey, British Columbia. The RCMP is circulating the photo in hopes of finding the owner of the comics.

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Comics A.M. | Salt Lake con’s success reignites mega-hotel talk

salt lake comic con logoConventions | The inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con, which sold 50,000 tickets in advance of the Sept. 5-7 event and reportedly drew an additional 20,000 attendees, has rekindled discussion about a new mega-hotel in downtown Salt Lake City Utah. The proposed $350 million project, which would have been funded in part with tax dollars, was narrowly defeated by the state legislature in March. [Fox 13 News]

Creators | Art Spiegelman talks about his life and work, touching on writing vs. art, how Maus came into being, and his lack of depth perception: “I don’t really see stereo, so it’s not good for getting in and out of cars, but when I draw something, it looks real.” [NPR]

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‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ ticket sales dip to record low

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Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark grossed a record-low $966,952 in ticket sales last week, the first time since performances began in November 2010 that the musical — at $75 million, the most expensive in Broadway history — dipped below $1 million for a standard eight-performance week.

Although The New York Times notes that sales have been softening since last year, a spokesman for the production attributed the drop to “fallout” from the serious injury suffered Aug. 15 by dancer Daniel Curry, whose leg was pinned by an automated trap door during a performance. That night’s show was canceled and Curry was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he remains.

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Appeals court upholds Marvel victory in Kirby copyright feud

kirby marvel charactersThe Second Circuit Court of Appeals handed Marvel a significant victory this morning, upholding a 2011 ruling that Jack Kirby’s contributions to the publisher in the 1960s were work for hire, and therefore not subject to copyright reclamation by the artist’s heirs.

However, as Tom Spurgeon first reported, the appellate court vacated the New York district judge’s summary ruling against two of Kirby’s children, California residents Lisa and Neal, on jurisdictional grounds; the judgment against Susan and Barbara stands.

Secondarily, the Second Circuit upheld the lower court’s exclusion of expert testimony offered by John Morrow and Mark Evanier on behalf of the Kirby heirs, agreeing that “their reports are by and large undergirded by hearsay statements, made by freelance artists in both formal and informal settings, concerning Marvel’s general practices towards its artists during the relevant time period.”

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Under Armour gets ‘sticky’ with superhero football gloves

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If you think those tight-fitting Superman and Batman shirts from Under Armour are crying out for accessories, allow us to point you to the sportswear company’s latest additions: UA Highlight football gloves featuring the familiar emblems of Batman, Captain America, Spider-Man and Superman (the latter in multiple flavors).

What are UA Highlight football gloves? Good question. For starters, they’re “Super-High. Ridiculously Sticky.” But wait! There’s more: “They use the same incredible CompFit technology as our game-changing UA Highlight cleats, giving your wrist super-streamlined, locked-in support. That helps with control. It also makes you feel like you can do anything out there. Now, there’re Under Armour Alter Ego ones to make your game just that much more heroic. They turn you into exactly what you want to be, every time you compete.”

So there. And they’re available for $64.99.

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Identification and ownership: why fans attack change

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Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man

The illusion of change is the usual approach to mainstream superhero comics. It offers the excitement of change without losing the successful elements to actual change. It’s cynical but it’s smart from a corporate standpoint. Every once in a while, however, actual change happens. Or maybe change is just talked about. Some like it, some don’t like it. And then there are the people that really, really don’t like it, and head down to their local torch-and-pitchfork store.

Such is where we find ourselves in the ongoing discussion of The Amazing Spider-Man star Andrew Garfield’s hypothetical consideration of making Peter Parker bisexual.

But why did Garfield’s idea trigger such heated responses? I’m not talking about the calm “Oh, I don’t know, I’m not crazy about that idea, but rather the aggressive, threatening and hateful reactions that seem to come from a very dark place.

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Stan Lee reacts to the idea of a bisexual Spider-Man

Stan Lee

Stan Lee

Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee has responded to actor Andrew Garfield’s recent what-if scenario in which Peter Parker could be gay or bisexual, joking, “I figure one sex is enough for anybody.”

Appearing over the weekend at Fandomfest in Louisville, Kentucky, the 90-year-old comics legend appeared caught off-guard by a question from the audience about Garfield’s “request to make Spider-Man bisexual and Mary Jane male.” Lee initially offered a glowing assessment of the actor’s performance in The Amazing Spider-Man, before the question was explained to him.

“He’s becoming bisexual?” Lee exclaimed in disbelief, eliciting roars of laughter from the audience. “Who have you been talking to? Seriously, I don’t know anything about that. And if it’s true, I’m going to make a couple of phone calls. I figure one sex is enough for anybody.”

Garfield, who’s filming The Amazing Spider-Man 2, sparked a good deal of discussion among comics fans when he related a conversation with a producer in which he said, “I was kind of joking, but kind of not joking about MJ. And I was like, ‘What if MJ is a dude?’ Why can’t we discover that Peter is exploring his sexuality?  It’s hardly even groundbreaking! … So why can’t he be gay? Why can’t he be into boys?”

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Comics A.M. | Singapore cartoonist’s arrest part of crackdown

Leslie Chew cartoon

Leslie Chew cartoon

Legal | Kevin Lim and Evaline Danubrata add some context to the story of Singaporean cartoonist Leslie Chew, who was charged Thursday with contempt of court for several cartoons critical of the Singapore courts that appeared on his Facebook page Demon-cratic Singapore. This isn’t the first time Chew has run afoul of authorities; he was charged with sedition earlier this year for alleging official discrimination against the Malay population. Singapore recently enacted a law requiring licenses for news sites that report regularly on the country, a move that critics of the ruling People’s Action Party see as an attempt to silence dissent. [Reuters]

Retailing | Comic-store owners in the Tampa Bay area agree that sales are up, but they differ on the reasons why. [The Tampa Tribune]

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SDCC ’13 | Todd McFarlane announces Comic-Con plans

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With Comic-Con International now just a week away, Todd McFarlane and McFarlane Toys have rolled out a rundown of panels, signings, convention exclusives and giveaways.

McFarlane will appear on July 19 with Stan Lee at the Crazy Cat Collectibles booth to sign the Spider-Man Limited Venom Edition Guitar, featuring the artists cover art from Spider-Man #13, and July 19 and 20 at the Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Pirate Ship for the free poster giveaway (McFarlane Toys’ Assassin’s Creed action figures will also be on display).

McFarlane Toys’ limited-edition The Walking Dead Comic Governor in Riot Gear action figure will be available at the Skybound booth (#2729), while Toys “R Us and Entertainment Earth (booth #2343) will debut The Walking Dead Comic Penny Blake The Governor’s Zombie Daughter, complete with fish tank and a bucket of body parts.

You can see the full McFarlane Comic-Con schedule below:

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Andrew Garfield on Spider-Man: ‘So why can’t he be gay?’

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“I was kind of joking, but kind of not joking about MJ. And I was like, ‘What if MJ is a dude?’ Why can’t we discover that Peter is exploring his sexuality?  It’s hardly even groundbreaking! … So why can’t he be gay? Why can’t he be into boys?”

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 star, and longtime Spider-Man fan, Andrew Garfield, recounting to Entertainment Weekly a conversation he had with producer Matt Tolmach about Mary Jane Watson. (The actor even has a male MJ in mind: Friday Night Lights and Chronicle star Michael B. Jordan.) In the process, Garfield may have just restarted the game of telephone some mainstream-media outlets played in 2011 when Marvel announced that biracial teen Miles Morales would be the new Ultimate Spider-Man.


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