Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Because it’s the first week of the New 52 Year Two, the time has come to review where I stand at the end of Year One. It also happens to be the week I’m away on a bidness trip, unable to react to whatever dern-fool thing DC did on Wednesday.
That would probably take a back seat anyway, because I’m a little curious myself to look back at these books. In terms of reading habits, it’s been a rather funky year. Some weeks I wouldn’t have time to read everything I bought, and sometimes that meant books just dropped off my radar. I caught up with a few of these, but a few I just didn’t miss — which, of course, is never a good thing.
You’ll remember that last year I bought all 52 first issues, and talked about each as September proceeded. Of those which remain, I am reading 27: Action Comics, All-Star Western, Animal Man, Aquaman, Batgirl, Batman, Batman & Robin, Batwing, Batwoman, Blue Beetle, Catwoman, DC Universe Presents, Demon Knights, Detective Comics, Firestorm, Flash, Frankenstein, Green Lantern, GL Corps, I, Vampire, Justice League, Justice League Dark, Stormwatch, Supergirl, Superman, Swamp Thing and Wonder Woman.
Additionally, I was reading six titles that have since been canceled: Blackhawks, JLI, Men of War, OMAC, Resurrection Man and Static Shock. For a while I also read Grifter, Red Lanterns, and Superboy. Filling in some of those holes are second-wave titles Batman Incorporated, Earth 2, Worlds’ Finest and Dial H.
To keep your eyes as glaze-free as possible, this will be a two-part survey. Today we’ll look at the Superman and Batman families, the “historical” titles, the main-line Justice League books, and a few others.
DC Comics, Disney and Sanrio have sued a California birthday party entertainment company for copyright and trademark infringement, alleging that it’s using counterfeit costumes of such well-known characters as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Superman, Wonder Woman and Hello Kitty.
Law 360 reports that the lawsuit, filed last week in federal court in Los Angeles, accuses Party Animals and owner Jason Lancaster of using and renting costumes resembling the companies’ characters and logos for birthday and corporate parties, in violation of copyright and trademark laws.
“[Party Animals] is actively selling, offering for sale, renting, distributing or manufacturing unlicensed and counterfeit costumes, which incorporate unauthorized likenesses of the animated or live action characters or other logos owned by plaintiffs,” the complaint said. “[The] defendants have never been authorized by the plaintiffs to distribute the plaintiffs’ copyrighted properties.”
I can’t say I know much about the French comic artist Bengal — I wasn’t even sure of his gender until I looked up his Lambiek entry. As far as memory serves, none of the series he’s worked on in France have been translated into English. My only exposure to his work is an anglophone edition was the sizable gallery of his art in the second issue of Ashley Wood’s defunct art-mag Swallow from 2006. Lately he’s been blogging commissions of characters from U.S. comics and media. In lesser hands, the drawings would be more typical cheesecake. Bengal’s poses tend to be more interesting than that, expertly using body language to suggest characterization and narrative. Even his version of that stereotypical nerd fantasy, the slave-girl Leia, avoids a straightforward charge of exploitation by concentrating the viewer’s gaze on her indignant, accusatory stare.
Michael Green, Mike Johnson and Mahmud Asrar’s Supergirl is my favorite superhero comic right now. What they’re doing on that series is remarkable. Asrar’s gotten a lot of credit for the unique look he gives the comic, and that’s justifiable: He gives the characters a lot of emotion that enhances Green and Johnson’s script. He also knows how to draw convincing teenagers, and I especially like his younger-looking Superman, who appears to be around the same age as Supergirl. I wouldn’t want that in the Superman series or Action Comics, but it makes the two characters look more like peers in Supergirl, which is important for the story these guys are telling.
The series begins with Supergirl’s emergence from some kind of pod/spaceship with no memory of how she got there. From her perspective, she was just on Krypton, getting ready to go through some kind of coming-of-age ceremony. Her cousin Kal-El was just an infant a few moments ago, so when Superman shows up at the crash site, she’s distrustful of him. He’s not so sure what to make of her either.
The rest of the series so far is largely a fish-out-of-water story in which Supergirl tries to figure out her place on Earth. Green and Johnson plot this out in a believable, kind of heartbreaking way, with Supergirl’s trying to avoid making Earth her new home. Twelve issues in and she still hasn’t mastered an Earth language. She even returns to what’s left of Krypton to test Superman’s claim that it’s been destroyed.
On her blog, Faith Erin Hicks shared some Supergirl drawings that she describes as being for a project that never got off the ground. She was never told the fate of the comic/cartoon/pajamas/whatever-it-was, but guesses it’s not happening because “generally when you don’t hear back about something for a year and a half, the project’s probably dead.”
I’m guessing that the New 52 is what got in the way, but regardless, it’s too bad. Whatever it was, I would have wanted it.
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’d settle in first with Dark Horse Presents #14 (Dark Horse, #7.99). This is no mere anthology: Dark Horses seems to be increasingly using it as an alternate means to serialize new single issue stories, especially with this new issue, as the publisher has expanded it to 100-plus pages. Nexus, Finder, a new Ghost series, AND the new Buddy Cops series by Nate Cosby and Evan Shaner? Sold! Moving on from that, I’d next get Saga #5 (Image, $2.99), which is completely not what I wanted this to be, and turned into something else I want even more. My third and final pick of this big week is Avengers Vs. X-Men #8 (Marvel, $3.99). I believe this is Bendis’ first issue as the lead writer post-Phoenix Force 5 and I’m interested to see him bring his dialogue to this. Seeing Adam Kubert on this brings up some questions for me, as I never really saw Kubert’s style fitting in with the overall aesthetic Marvel’s been pushing these past couple years.
If I had $30, I’d get a second anthology title – World War 3 Illustrated #43 (Top Shelf, $7.00). I’ve been remiss in buying this series for the past few years, but after stumbling over it in Previews a couple months back I made it a point to seek it out next time it came out. After that I’d get Glory #28 (Image, $2.99), Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell’s warrior-woman epic. Each issue manages to outclass the one before it, and I’m thrilled and surprised Ross has been able to do five entire issues with no delays or fill-ins. Finally, I’d get Daredevil #15 (Marvel, $2.99). The media-sensitive side of me is torn about this book now because for a time it was considered Marvel’s best kept secret, but now with the creative team coming out of the Eisners with a wheelbarrow full of awards I have to throw away my elitist mentality and fight off my expectations that the quality will drop now that it’s more well-known. Good thing Chris Samnee is on it, and they’re off to Latveria!
If I could splurge, I’d get Stuff of Legend Omnibus, Vol. 1 (Th3rd World Studios, $29.99). I remember reading a preview of this in a previous Free Comic Book Day sampler issue, but I seemed to have missed or forgotten about it in whatever single issues it’d been released in, so I’m glad I took notice of this. I’m a big fan of artist Charles Paul Wilson III, and this story of kids’ toys fighting in World War II sounds so crazily fun I’m excited to read it all in one sitting.
If I had $15, Casanova: Avaritia #4 would be the first thing I’d pick up. I’ve been enjoying Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba’s return to their dimension-hopping super-spy immensely and am looking forward to seeing how it all wraps up.
If I had $30, I’d make the difficult choice between two top-notch offerings from Fantagraphics this week. One: New York Mon Amour, a collection of Manhattan-themed stories by the one and only Jacques Tardi, including the Kalfkaesque “Cockroach Killer.” The other would be the third volume in the ongoing Mickey Mouse collection, High Noon at Inferno Gulch. I’m an unabashed Floyd Gottfredson fan, so the Mickey book would probably win out. But I’d be sure to save my coins for next week so I can get the Tardi book then.
Assuming I don’t blow all my splurge dough on the Tardi book, there’s a number of solid options here: Out of the Shadows, a collection of Mort Meskin’s early non-DC work; Bill the Boy Wonder, a new prose biography of Batman co-creator Bill Finger; and a Challengers of the Unknown Omnibus featuring Jack Kirby’s run. If I were in a charitable mood, however, I’d likely snap up Team Cul de Sac, the anthology/art book/tribute to Richard Thompson’s delightful comic strip featuring contributions from folks like Lynn Johnston, Mort Walker, Gary Trudeau and even Bill Watterson! Proceeds from the book go to help fight Parkinson’s disease, which Thompson unfortunately suffers from. It’s hard for me to think of a more worthy – or potentially enjoyable – book to spend your money on this week.
I really love this particular image because it’s almost like Supergirl is dramatically pronouncing, “Love that chicken!” Let’s all make that our new battle cry, shall we? In one way, it’s far more intimidating than “Avengers Assemble!” Can you just imagine the entire Justice League faced off against you, and then Supergirl pointing to you and dramatically yelling, “LOVE THAT CHICKEN!” No matter how confident I was of my powers, I’d be running my ass off.
— Paul Tobin, talking about how awesome Supergirl is.
Okay, actually this is a huge digression from his discussion of how awesome Supergirl is, but it makes me laugh every time I read it. The rest of Tobin’s discussion is well worth checking out, though, especially his objections to the sexual objectification of the character. These thoughts include the following: “I really really like naked women. I love breasts and rumps and curvy lines and soft feminine parts. I run a secret Tumblr blog post for a reason, after all, and if a woman is pretty or so much as utters “Godzilla is kind of sexy,” then I’ve probably wondered what it would be like to kiss her while she’s naked. Bottom line, I’m kind of a perv, and I’m okay with that.” So it’s not just prudish hand-wringing.
If I had $15 this week, I’d pick up the third issues of what may be becoming my two favorite new series: Saga (Image, $2.99) and Saucer Country (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). The former is easily one of the most enjoyable, most packed books out there right now for me, with Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples firing on all cylinders with the two issues to date, whereas the latter has an enjoyably retro feel that reminds me of the earliest days of the Vertigo imprint in ways that I can’t quite put my finger on but love nonetheless.
If I had $30, I’d grab the new edition of Leviathan (Rebellion, $16.99), a collection of a 2000AD horror story by Ian Edginton and D’Israeli that the creators apparently described as “Agatha Christie meets Silent Hill” about a Titanic-esque cruise ship that disappears in the middle of the ocean, and ends up somewhere else … with no land in sight for more than two decades. Really looking forward to reading this one.
Should I suddenly find enough money down the back of my couch to splurge this week, then I’d hope to find the $29.99 I’d need for the Deadenders trade paperback (DC/Vertigo). I entirely missed the Ed Brubaker/Warren Pleece mod romance comic the first time around, so this collection of the entire series will be a welcome chance to make up for past mistakes.
Comics | A near-mint copy of 1940’s Batman #1, which marks the first appearances of the Joker and Catwoman, sold this week for $850,000 — a record for that issue — in a private transaction arranged by Heritage Auctions. The seller purchased the comic just two years ago for $315,000. [CNN]
Publishing | Cory Casoni is leaving his position as director of marketing for Oni Press for a position with NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc. as the head of marketing for ShiftyLook comics. Thomas Shimmin and Amber LaPraim, who joined Oni earlier this year, are taking joint positions as marketing coordinators. [press release]
Creators | Alison Bechdel discusses her family, her psyche, and the challenges of drawing a memoir that’s set in therapy sessions: “I watched all the episodes of “In Treatment” at one point, to see how they managed to make two people sitting in a room so very dramatic. And it was basically just good writing and good acting. So that gave me the hope that I could pull this story off without adding a car chase or an explosion. Though there is a kind of a car chase, now that I think of it, when a Sunbeam bread truck almost runs me off the road. My story also goes in and out of other texts — movies, psychoanalytic papers, children’s books — which creates some more overt visual excitement. And I use a dream to begin each chapter. I know you’re not supposed to write about your dreams, but the dreams have a dramatic sweep that everyday life doesn’t.” [The New York Times]
If I had $15, a new Peter Bagge comic is always cause for celebration, so my first grab would be for Reset #1, Bagge’s new limited series having to do with virtual reality and the opportunity it affords a washed-up comedian to fix his past mistakes. And then there’s Linda Medley, who’s been laying low for awhile, but is back this week with a new issue of her ongoing, low-key fantasy series, Castle Waiting. These will probably be the first comics I read once I get home from the comic store this week.
If I had $30, I’ve already gone on about The Shark King, R. Kikuo Johnson’s warm and charming all-ages story based on a Hawaiian folk tale of a shark god and his half-human, mischievous progeny. It’s a lovely little book that I thoroughly recommend checking out even if you don’t have any kids in your home.
There’s also a number of notable manga out this week so I’d likely pick up one of the following: Either the latest volume of 20th Century Boys, the latest volume of Gantz or volume 2 of Katsuya Terada’s The Monkey King. There’s been a bit of a wait (seven years) for that last one, which is a gonzo, sex-and-violence rendition of the classic Journey to the West myth.
It’s not so much a splurge as a must-buy for me — Krazy and Ignatz 1922-24: At Last My Drim of Love Has Come True is the final volume in Fantagraphics’ collection of Sunday Krazy strips and full of the same George Herriman magic as the previous volumes. There’s a tinge of sadness here as I believe the late Bill Blackbeard, who helped bring this project into fruition, has an essay here, as well as a remembrance by Kim Thompson.
Sunday was a great day. It started off awesomely with a marriage proposal. A young man named Matthew had hired my friend Grant to draw a picture of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for his girlfriend, Lisa, a Buffy fan. When they picked up the commission, Lisa read the word balloons, “Hi, Lisa. Matthew tells me he loves you very much and he has a very important question to ask…”
It’s not even a fifth week, but I find myself curiously distanced from this week’s releases for some reason. Outside of some books I’ve been reading for awhile, there’s little to really catch my eye, so if I had $15, I’d likely find myself buying Dark Horse Presents #10 (Dark Horse, $7.99) and Memorial #4 (IDW, $3.99), and being quite happy with those two books.
If I had $30, I might go back to Justice League with #7 (DC, $3.99); I wasn’t entirely convinced by the opening arc, but I found myself enjoying the Pandora back-up in #6 enough that I found myself more curious about sticking around than I would’ve expected. I’d also grab Legion of Super-Heroes #7 (DC, $2.99), another book I’ve found myself liking more than I initially thought, as well as Thunderbolts #171 (Marvel, $2.99) for one of the few, final times before it becomes a part of the Avengers family.
Splurging, oddly, is a much easier choice for me than what I’d get in single issues: Avengers: West Coast Avengers – Lost In Space-Time (Marvel, $34.99) collects some of the first issues of West Coast Avengers that I read way back when, launching a love affair with Steve Englehart’s writing that continues to this day. Those original issues are long since lost to history (Somewhat fittingly, considering the time travel subject matter), so this will be a welcome nostalgia trip for me.
Have you heard? Some maniacal super villain has kidnapped the Justice League and turned them into… tater tots? Don’t worry, super friends, it’s all part of a unique promotion DC is doing with the fast food chain Sonic Drive-In.
Available “for a limited time only” with purchase of one of Sonic’s Wacky Pack Kids’ Meals, these “Super Tots” come in 10 varieties: Superman, Clark Kent, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Flash, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, Supergirl, Bizarro, and Plastic Man. Batman and Green Lantern are conspicuously absent, but I’d chalk that up to the adult world of licensing agreements and what not given their recent movies.
This isn’t the first time comic heroes have shown up in fast food kids meals, but it’s arguably one of the most deliciously cute ones in recent memory. Check out all the little guys after the jump, courtesy of Sonic.
Hiya kids, it’s time for What Are You Reading?, a weekly look into what the Robot 6 crew has been reading lately. Today’s special guest is Thom Zahler, creator of the delightful superhero/romantic comedy comic Love and Capes.
To find out what Thom and the Robot 6 crew have been reading lately, click below.