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George Takei beaming into Riverdale for Kevin Keller #6 (Oh, my!)

Star Trek alum, and gay-rights activist, George Takei is set to guest star early next year in Archie Comics’ Kevin Keller #6.

According to BuzzFeed, cartoonist Dan Parent met the actor at a comic convention, where he pitched him the idea of the cameo so Kevin, Riverdale’s first gay resident, could meet his hero. Takei was thrilled.

Although Archie Comics has traditionally opted for cameos by parodies of celebrities over actual celebrities, the publisher brought President Barack Obama and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to Riverdale in 2010. (Another notable, and downright odd, exception was minor ’80s child actor Glenn Scarpelli — son of Archie cartoonist Henry Scarpelli — who appeared in a handful of shorts, where he rubbed elbows with the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Brooke Shields, Boy George, Valerie Bertinelli and Eddie Van Halen. Seriously.)

Takei, who’s best known for playing Sulu on the original Star Trek series and in six movies, revealed he’s gay in a 2005 magazine interview. He married his longtime partner Brad Altman in 2008, and has been vocal on issues of marriage equality, homophobia and bullying.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Accept no Super-substitutes

They realized too late they were on the wrong end of an Action #1 homage

Different interpretations aren’t a problem for Batman, who’s taken on everything from Adam West and Bat-Mite to Frank Miller and Kelley Jones. Same goes for Wonder Woman (the original Marston/Peter crusader, Gail Simone’s steely warrior, and the current Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang monster-killer) and Aquaman (Ramona Fradon, Jim Aparo, Peter David). Likewise, each new Robin, Flash and Green Lantern puts a different spin on the core concept.

And yet, among all the elasticity of DC’s superhero line, Superman stands out as somewhat inflexible. More and more I am becoming convinced that there can be only one valid interpretation of Superman. That interpretation might work for a variety of storytelling styles, but the character at its core must fundamentally be the same.

For starters, let’s run down the list of everything the main-line Superman — the character, not necessarily the stories in which he appears — is not. Superman is not arrogant, manipulative, cruel, boastful … well, you get the idea. I’m not rewording 1 Corinthians 13 here, but that’s not a bad place to start when thinking about Superman’s motivations. “Love never fails,” begins the New International Version translation of verse 8, and that’s pretty much the idealist at the heart of Superman, isn’t it? Superman never fails, not because of invulnerability or super-strength or heat vision, but because his indomitable faith in the goodness of humanity keeps him going.

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What Are You Reading? with Thomas Hall

Milk & Cheese

Welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where we share what comics, books and other good stuff we’ve been checking out lately. This week our special guest is Thomas Hall, writer of the science fiction/fantasy comic Robot 13.

To see what Thomas and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.

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Previews: What Looks Good for March

The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes and first issues so that we don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Batwoman is still awesome!” every month. And we’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.

One cool change this month and for the foreseeable future: I’m joined by Graeme McMillan who’ll also be pointing out his favorites.

Finally, 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.

Abrams Comicarts

The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist – I admit, I tend to run hot and cold on Clowes’ output, but I’m a sucker for coffee-table career retrospectives, so the idea of taking 224 pages to look back at his career to date (with, of course, the traditional little-seen artwork and commentary) seems like a must-look at the very least. [Graeme]

Abstract Studios

Rachel Rising, Volume 1: The Shadow of Death – Terry Moore’s latest series gets its first collection and I love the premise of a woman’s waking up in a shallow grave with no memory of how she got there and needing to figure out who tried to kill to her. [Michael]

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Captain Kirk is a jerk: New Star Trek parody comic boldly goes there

Although it originated on the television air waves, Star Trek has boldy gone to a number of mediums, including comics. But this new voyage is taking it in a more harrowing — and humorous — direction.

Writer Kevin Church and artist Ming Doyle recently kicked off a Star Trek parody webcomic titled Boldly Gone, centers on a lesser-known Starfleet vessel, the U.S.S Mandela, during the time of the original Star Trek series. Following up from their previous series The Loneliest Astronauts, Church and Doyle’s new work sees Captain Paul Meredith writhing and griping in the shadow of the illustrious James T. Kirk. Remember how Shatner vamped so much during the TV show? Imagine how other captains would feel about that. Here’s a sample:

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IDW moves to comiXology, goes same-day print and digital

This seems quaint now, but it was big news in March 2009 when IDW Publishing made its Star Trek prequel comics available digitally on the iPhone/iPod Touch (the iPad hadn’t been invented yet, kids), and released the fourth issue the same day in print and digital. IDW’s partner in that endeavor was iVerse, and while the publisher’s digital strategy evolved over the next few years, iVerse remained as the provider for its branded iPad app… until this week, when IDW announced it has switched the provider of the branded IDW app to comiXology.

It’s big news, but in an insider-baseball sort of way. Readers who are already riding on the digital comics bandwagon won’t notice a difference. IDW started putting its comics on the comiXology digital comics service a few months ago, and when I checked iVerse’s Comics + app this morning, the IDW comics hadn’t disappeared. That isn’t surprising: IDW has spread its nets wide, putting comics on everything from the Kindle to the manga site eManga. So the headline on the press release is really just a change in the back end. What is really significant is that comiXology now has nearly a complete collection, providing digital distribution and branded apps for almost every major publisher except Dark Horse (which has its own app) and Archie (which puts their comics on comiXology’s Comics app but has iVerse run their branded app).

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Food or Comics? | Post-Thanksgiving hangover edition

Angel & Faith

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.

Graeme McMillan

I have to say, this is an amazingly slow week for me in terms of new releases. If I had $15, I’d pick up the fourth issue of Dark Horse’s Angel & Faith series ($3.50), which has surprised me by turning out to be my favorite by far of the new Buffy series (due, in large part, to Rebekah Isaacs’ artwork, which is superb). I’d also grab the third issue of IDW’s Star Trek monthly ($3.99), in the hope that it’ll be as good as the first two issues; hardcore Trek fans, you should really be looking at this book, if you’re not already. Also on the list to grab: Thunderbolts #166 (Marvel, $2.99), continuing a great storyline from what might be one of the most underrated books from either of the big two publishers. One of the few nice things about Marvel’s recent Cancelpocalypse was seeing so many people speak up about how much they love Thunderbolts, and I’m right there with them; Jeff Parker’s done great things with this book.

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By Blackest (Friday) Night, no bargain shall escape my sight …

If you’re like me, instead of heading out to the mall to face the hectic Black Friday crowds (some of whom are apparently armed with pepper spray), you’re sitting at home nursing a turkey hangover and looking for good deals on the internet. Here are a few places you may want to check out for your gift-giving or personal shopping needs, and if you’re up for adventuring outdoors, Bleeding Cool has a great roundup of shops holding sales today.

Blackest Friday

ComiXology has a bunch of digital comics for 99 cents today. DC Comics is holding a Blackest Friday sale, allowing you to buy each issue of the Blackest Night crossover for 99 cents each. Marvel has Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four issues on sale for 99 cents, while IDW has their Star Trek comics on sale.

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Food or Comics? | Point One, Silver Star, Tezuka and more

Point One

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 Arrant

If I had $15, I’d first get the third issue of my favorite New 52 title, Batwoman #3 (DC, $2.99). Seriously, J.H. Williams III is hitting a home run on every outing here when it comes to my tastes. Although the writing isn’t up to the level of Greg Rucka’s time on the book, it’s close and only bound to get better. Next up I’d get Point One #1 (Marvel, $5.99). I think this format–an extra-size preview book for what’s coming next–is an interesting experiment, and I’m intrigued most by the Nova story, but also interested to see what the others do. Third would be Uncanny X-Force #17 (Marvel, $3.99), to get the one-two punch of Rick Remender and Jerome Opena. Iceman as a bad guy? I dig this.

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IDW gives one fan the chance to die for their retailer

Star Trek "Be a Redshirt" cover

I know a lot of people who would likely love to win this costume. Heck, some of them even blog here at Robot 6. And really, what comic fan wouldn’t want to appear on a Star Trek comic cover saving the life of their favorite comics retailer?

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, IDW and CBS have gotten together to give one comic fan and their retailer of choice the chance to do just that. They’ve kicked off the Star Trek “Be A Redshirt” contest, an essay contest where fans explain in 300 words or less why their retailer is the best. The grand-prize winner will appear on a limited edition variant cover of Star Trek #5, along with their retailer. The cover is limited to 300 copies; 100 will go to the fan, 100 to the retailer and 100 to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, who will use them to raise funds. The fan will also receive the original art for the cover.

A “redshirt,” for those who may not know, is a character who dies soon after being introduced. On the original Star Trek television show, they’d typically send an away team to a hostile planet consisting of several show regulars along with a no-name actor or actress in a red shirt. Chances were, the “redshirt” wouldn’t make it back to the ship or out of the episode alive.

As redshirts are famous for always catching the phaser in Star Trek episodes, and as comic fans can be so loyal in defending their local retailer, it’s the perfect contest,” said Dirk Wood, IDW’s director of retailer marketing. “And partnering with the CBLDF is perfect, because no one knows more about defending retailers than they do.”

To enter the “Be A Redshirt” contest, e-mail your explanation in 300 words or less about why your retailer is the best to IDW at contests@IDWPublishing.com with the subject: Save My Retailer.

Comics A.M. | Other publishers benefit from DC’s New 52 bump

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Publishing | IDW’s Chief Operating Officer Greg Goldstein attributes a bump in the company’s September sales to several factors, including DC’s big relaunch: “The reality is the DC New 52 brought some people into comic book stores that hadn’t been in comic stores for a while, and we had the opportunity to sell them some of our books as well as the other books that are available to them. But clearly, people who had not been focused on comics came out of the woodwork a bit.” It didn’t hurt that IDW had its own launches of properties familiar to those outside of comics, including the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, an ongoing Star Trek series and the Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes crossover. [ICv2]

Legal | A Belgian judicial adviser has recommended that the nation’s courts reject a four-year-old bid by a Congolese student to have Herge’s 1931 Tintin in the Congo banned, or at least restricted, because of its racist depictions. The recommendation is being viewed as a major setback for the case, as the opinion of the Procureur du Roi (Senior Crown prosecutor) is requested and typically followed by the court. [The Guardian]

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Food or Comics? | Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Batman in a tub

Batman #2

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.

Michael May

If I had $15, I’d mostly grab the second issues of some DC stuff I enjoyed last month: Batman ($2.99), Birds of Prey ($2.99), and especially Wonder Woman ($2.99). No Justice League for me though. Unlike Action Comics, I didn’t enjoy the first issue enough that I can rationalize paying $4 for it. Instead, I’ll grab Avengers 1959 #2 ($2.99) and Red 5′s Bonnie Lass #2 ($2.95), both of which had strong first issues.

If I had $30, I’d have to put back Bonnie Lass and wait for the collection in order to afford Jonathan Case’s atomic-sea-monster-love-story Dear Creature ($15.99).

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IDW Publishing library comes to comiXology

IDW Publishing and comiXology have partnered to make the publisher’s complete library available digitally across all comiXology platforms — iOS, the Android and the Web.

Beginning today, the entire Transformers line, previously sold only through comiXology’s Android app or online store, will also be available through comiXology’s apps for the various Apple devices. Several new IDW titles, including the first issue of the new Star Trek ongoing, the first two issues of Locke & Key: Clockworks and the first six issues of G.I. Joe, will also appear starting today. More comics will be added later.

Previously IDW’s comics were only available on Apple’s iOS through iVerse and the various iVerse-created IDW apps.

“ComiXology customers have asked for IDW to be part of the Comics by comiXology lineup for some time, and we’re thrilled to bring our catalog to those readers,” Jeff Webber, IDW’s director of ePublishing, said in a statement. “We’ve always been impressed with comiXology’s strength in offering comics across multiple platforms, including Apple iOS, Android and the Web. David and his team have put together an awesome offering. ComiXology has established a huge audience — I know we’re going to make a lot of IDW fans happy this week.”

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What are you reading with Annie Koyama

Little Tommy Lost

Welcome to another round of What Are You Reading. Our guest this week is Annie Koyama, owner and operator of the wonderful Koyama Press, which publishes fantastic books that you should buy ASAP. To see what Annie and the rest of the Robot 6 crew are reading this week, click on the link below. Continue Reading »

Ongoings vs miniseries: Is one better?

30 Days of Night ongoing

I’ve been pretty down on ongoing series for the last few years. I sort of touched on it some months ago when I expressed frustration about ongoing series having to make things up as they go along. It’s hard to tell a satisfying story when you’re not building toward an end. My biggest issue with Marvel and DC’s events over the last few years hasn’t been that they want me to buy a bunch of peripheral comics; it’s that so rarely have I been satisfied at an event’s conclusion. Events don’t end; they just lead to the next in a never-ending series of more events. On a smaller scale, ongoing series are the same way. Unless I’m a completest collector, there’s no reward for reading every issue of The Amazing Spider-Man or any other long-running series. They’re stories without end and many of their parts over time are horrible.

So why do I get a thrill when I hear, for instance, that IDW is turning Star Trek and 30 Days of Night into ongoing series? I love the series-of-mini-series approach that those titles and books like Hellboy have followed for years, so what is it that gets me excited about their becoming open-ended? Part of it is the vote of confidence by the publisher when it commits to an ongoing series. Of course it’s not really a commitment, because even ongoings can be canceled at any time, but it says something that a publisher believes there’s enough life in a character or concept to support a series indefinitely.

More than that though is the statement that there are limitless possibilities with these characters or this world. That’s a thrilling idea, even though not every story is going to be a winner. I prefer the term “mini-series” to “limited series” precisely because even though “limited” doesn’t refer to imagination or scope in that phrase, I instinctively rebel at the thought that stories have limits. It’s a silly thing to get hung up on and of course stories do have limits of various kinds, but I want storytellers to fool me into thinking that they don’t. Ongoing series help to foster that willing deception.

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