Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
After all, Swamp Thing just happened to be the title for which Len Wein hired young British writer Alan Moore, leading to a run whose importance and influence is difficult to overstate. And Man-Thing, the Marvel character that shared so much in common with Swamp Thing, just so happened to be one of the first vehicles for writer Steve Gerber, introducing that weird and wild talent to mainstream comics audiences.
It’s therefore not that surprising that TwoMorrows Publishing found it worth devoting an entire 200-page book to the swamp monster subgenre, from its Golden Age origins to its late-’80s climax, the result being editors Jon B. Cooke and George Khoury’s Swampmen: Muck-Monsters and Their Makers.
[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
For whatever reason, Marvel is bringing the original Howard the Duck comics back into print. These are pretty great comics on their own, from creator/writer Steve Gerber and artists like Val Mayerik, Frank Brunner and Gene Colan. However, this is a Best of 7 because Howard the Duck itself facilitates all sorts of discussions. We can talk about creators’ rights via Gerber’s disputes with Marvel, and we can go from there to the extent to which a unique voice can (or should) be replicated by successors. (Personally, I thought the 2007 Ty Templeton/Juan Bobillo miniseries was pretty fun.) On a more superficial level, there’s the publisher’s biggest filmed fiasco.
Still, it does come down to the comics. In an era when the Big Two were expanding their scopes and testing their limits, Howard the Duck was one of the biggest experiments of the mid-1970s, and one that paid off in such entertaining fashion. Anything that brings it back into the spotlight is fine by me.
Following the conclusion this week of Kieron Gillen and Jame McKelvie’s run on Young Avengers with Issue 15, the writer turns to his blog to break down the comics that influenced the well-regarded series. And a couple of them may surprise you.
Grant Morrison is well-represented on the list, with We3, Kill Your Boyfriend and The Invisibles, and so is Peter Milligan. But Gillen also gives a shout-out to the 1970s oeuvre of the late Steve Gerber.
“Just have a wander through it. Howard the Duck, obv, but also his Defenders – a parallel I picked up when reading Colin TBTABC talk about it,” Gillen writes. “I’m not the biggest 70s connoisseur, so my knowledge is piecemeal, but his approach to superhero comics was something that resonated in the back of my head when writing Young Avengers, in terms of thinking of people who were absolutely mainstream while doing things that I wanted to do. Trollingly calling an arc STYLE > SUBSTANCE could have only been more of a Gerber move if I called it ON THE NOSE or something.”
There’s more at the blog, including a funny nod to one of Gillen and McKelvie’s previous collaborations.
Don Rosa and the late Steve Gerber have been named the recipients of the 2013 Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing, Comic-Con International announced. The award is named in honor of the uncredited co-creator of Batman/
Gerber, who passed away in 2008 at age 60, was the influential writer of such Marvel comics as The Defenders, Daredevil and Man-Thing who co-created Howard the Duck and Omega the Unknown. He also created the animated series Thundarr the Barbarian and worked on such properties as The Transformers, G.I. Joe and Dungeons & Dragons.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where we take a look at the comics, books and other things the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately. We kick off the new year with Brian Cronin from Comics Should Be Good! as our special guest. In addition to running our sister blog, Brian is also an author, having written two books on comics trivia. He also runs the blog Urban Legends Revealed, where he talks about sports and entertainment urban legends.
To see what Brian and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
During the 1960s creation of Marvel Comics, when Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko conceived the core stable of characters and the emerging shared-setting of the Marvel Universe, the line’s writer/editor/spokesman Lee created a fictional Marvel Bullpen.
Based on the crowded, raucous studio environment of the Golden Age, which Kirby actually worked in and Lee essentially interned in, Lee’s Bullpen presented he and his collaborators and employees as a big happy family, joyfully creating comics for their young readers an environment that could seem as fun as working in Santa’s workshop.
At the time of its creation, Lee’s fantasy might have been a pure invention (although later, after Kirby and Ditko left the publisher and Lee was promoted out of his hands-on control of the line, such an environment would occasionally come into existence, depending on the year, the employees and the owner at the time), but it did hint at an aspect of reality.
The characters who were making Marvel comics were in many ways just as colorful and talented as the characters starring in them; the story of Marvel Comics is at least as exciting as any story in Marvel comics. And, in a very real way, Sean Howe’s book Marvel Comics: The Untold Story is probably the Marvel story of the year—bigger, more epic and with greater conflict and drama than Fear Itself or Avengers Vs. X-Men or even that billion-dollar feature Marvel Studios released over the summer … the movie’s monstrous success being what gives Howe’s book a sort of validating end-point, a raison d’etre; to both Lee’s decades-long ambition to see Marvel characters on the big screen, and owner after owner’s ambition to become very, very rich off the heroes Kirby and company created.
Last year in one of his regular Q&A’s with Comic Book Resources, Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso teased the release of the long-awaited and long-delayed Man-Thing graphic novel by the late Steve Gerber and artist Kevin Nowlan. Today Nowlan confirmed on his blog that the hardcover, which is now listed on Amazon, will come out in October–just in time for Halloween.
As Chris Arrant noted last September, this project was initially started and announced in the 1980s, but it reportedly fell by the wayside while sitting on Nowlan’s drawing board. The original title was “Screenplay of the Living Dead Man,” intended to be a follow-up to the story “Song-Cry of the Living Dead Man” published in Man-Thing #12 way back when. It wasn’t until Gerber’s passing in 2008 that Nowlan began working on the project again in his spare time.
UPDATE: According to a story on Marvel.com, this story will first see life as a three-issue miniseries, The Infernal Man-Thing, which begins in June.
In last week’s Axel-In-Charge Q&A right here at CBR, Marvel’s Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso ended the weekly exchange with a loose-lipped hint that a long-delayed Man-Thing project is lumbering its way toward comics shelves. “All I can say,” said Alonso, “is we do have a Man-Thing project coming out soon that is older than some of Marvel’s assistant editors and well worth the wait.”
Well lucky for you, I know what he’s talking about.
A Man-Thing graphic novel by writer Steve Gerber and artist Kevin Nowlan. Initially started and announced in the 80s, it reportedly fell by the wayside while sitting on Nowlan’s drawing board. The original title was “Screenplay of the Living Dead Man”, intended to be a follow-up from the story “Song-Cry of the Living Dead Man” published in Man-Thing #12 way back when. It wasn’t until Gerber’s passing in 2008 that Nowlan refocused his energies and began working on the project again in his spare time. Back in March, Nowlan told me that it’ll end up being a 62-page painted story, and I even confirmed with Marvel that they’re going to publish it once Nowlan completes it.
With New Teen Titans: Games coming out this week and this other long-awaited release finally coming out, what other great stories might be lurking out there waiting to be finished?
Comics | In a post subtitled “Why the new biracial Spider-Man matters,” David Betancourt shares his reaction to the news that the new Ultimate Spider-Man is half-black, half-Latino: “The new Ultimate Spider-Man, who will have the almost impossible task of replacing the late Peter Parker (easily one of Marvel Comics most popular characters), took off his mask and revealed himself to be a young, half-black, half-Latino kid by the name of Miles Morales. When I read the news, I was beside myself, as if my brain couldn’t fully process the revelation. My friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was … just like me? This is a moment I never thought I’d see. But the moment has arrived, and I — the son of Puerto Rican man who passed his love of comics to me, and a black woman who once called me just to say she’d met Adam West — will never forget that day.”
Publishers | DC Comics have released details on the midnight release of Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1 on Aug. 31. The publisher is offering a free over-ship of Flashpoint #5 for retailers who order 125 percent of their order for Flashpoint #1, and the publisher has noted that that these are the only two DC titles shipping that week that can be sold at midnight. The promotion is only available to U.S. and Canadian accounts; due to the Aug. 29 bank holiday, the midnight sale option will not be available to UK retailers. [ICv2]
Legal | Michael Dean looks at the recent ruling by New York federal judge Colleen McMahon that the family of Jack Kirby has no claim to the copyrights of the characters he co-created for Marvel. Dean notes, “Some legal observers were expecting Marvel to be the second major comics-publisher domino to fall when Toberoff filed on behalf of the Kirbys, but there is a key difference between Kirby’s comics work and Siegel’s: It was well established that Superman already existed as a full-blown character concept before Siegel and Joe Shuster pitched him to DC, whereas Kirby, who died in 1994, did most if not all of his Marvel work on assignment from the publisher. In the case of work for hire, the Copyright Act defines the instigating employer/publisher as the Author of the work.” [The Comics Journal]
One of the more interesting links you’ll read this morning is this one, to The Gerber Curse, a work in progress dedicated to the life and works of writer Steve Gerber, who passed away on Feb. 10, 2008.
So far the anonymous author has penned three chapters, covering territory up to 1978 (including, of course, Howard the Duck and Omega the Unknown).
“More information and illustrations may be added to these chapters in the future,” the author writes, “or some information may be deleted or altered. There’s still another 30 years to cover. Chapter 4 will deal with Stewart the Rat, Destroyer Duck, Gerber’s work in animation, and his lawsuit (with Destroyer Lawyer in his corner) against Marvel Comics over the ownership of Howard the Duck.”