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Grumpy Old Fan | The Church Of What’s Happening Now

Put your hand in the hand of the man who changed the course of mighty rivers

Put your hand in the hand of the man who changed the course of mighty rivers

First off, yes, I have read the first issue of Batman Eternal, but since its “pilot episode” includes issues #1-3, I’ll be talking about those more specifically in a couple of weeks. Eternal is one of two weekly series DC will offer this year, the other being Futures End, a look into the shared superhero universe five years from now.

However, we might well ask what difference will there be, one year from now, between an issue of either series and your average issue of a monthly title? When Eternal and Futures End are collected in their entirety two years from now, how different will they be from collections of Court of Owls or Throne of Atlantis?

The obvious differences are time and volume. The year-long weekly comics that DC put out from 2006 through 2009 — 52, Countdown and Trinity — all used their speedier schedule to tell a big story in a (relatively) short time. Instead of letting their epic tales play out over four-plus years, these series each got ‘em done in one.

Now think about sitting down with one of these thousand-page sagas. It won’t take a year to read, but it’s not something to approach lightly. That puts a special emphasis on how they’re to be read. Today we’ll look at DC’s history with weekly series (and some related experiments), with an eye toward what the two new ones might offer.
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Six by 6 | Six overlooked superhero runs

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New comics come out every week, by the dozens. Add that up by the month or the year, and it’s virtually impossible to keep track. Certain runs on some titles rise to the top by a mixture of critical acclaim, proper marketing and the right timing, but if all of those factors aren’t perfectly aligned, good comics fall by the wayside.

In this edition of ROBOT 6′s “Six by 6,” we look at six noteworthy creative runs on superhero comics worth a second look, even if that means a trip to the back-issue bin.

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Best of 7 | MoCCA, ‘Detective,’ Joe Phillips and more

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Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out. So hop in your time bubble and join us as we look back at the last seven days …

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Frank Cho recreates scene from ‘The Dark Knight Returns’

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Frank Cho hates Superman. Don’t take my word for it; just ask him. But after years of friendly queries by an art-collector friend, Cho bit the bullet and took on a rare commission of Superman — but only if he could do it his way.

“One day the impossible happened, I was bored and I had some free time and Hawaiian Dave gave me a big wad of cash. On top of that, he told me that I can draw whatever I desire as long as Batman and Superman is in it …,” Cho explains on his blog. “Since I hated Superman so much, the only logical conclusion was to do the scene in the Frank Miller’s masterpiece The Dark Knight Returns, where the old Batman comes out of retirement and beat the shit out of Superman. And off I went.”

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Erratic driving, meth prove to be this Superman’s Kryptonite

superman-reevesHe may have thought he could leap tall buildings in a single bound, but it was driving that spelled doomsday for Utah’s Man of Steel. Well, that and a stash of meth “about the size of a baseball.”

The Davis Clipper reports a Davis County deputy stopped 33-year-old Christopher Reeves around 3 a.m. Tuesday after he was spotted weaving in and out of traffic in his Chevrolet HHR at speeds exceeding 80 miles per hour. That’s Reeves pictured at right, wearing the Superman T-shirt.

Yes, both the sheriff’s office and local media gleefully recognize the similarities between the suspect’s name and that of the late Superman actor Christopher Reeve. The Clipper used a “faster than a speeding bullet” reference, while Fox 13 went with, “He won’t be kneeling before Zod, but he will have to stand before a judge” (I’m pretty sure Fox 13 wins). Davis County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Susan Poulsen acknowledged the T-shirt might not have been “a wise fashion choice” — but as we’re about to learn, wise choices may not be part of Reeves’ repertoire.

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Best of 7 | Oni’s 2014 plans, new ‘American Vampire’ and more

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Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out.

This week is pretty packed, as we have news, reviews, a con recap and a whole year’s worth of announcements from one publisher. So buckle your seat belts and hold on tight as we aim our DeLorean at the last seven days …

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Al Plastino’s Superman artwork on display at Kennedy library

plastino-supermans missionAl Plastino’s original artwork for the 1964 story “Superman’s Mission For President Kennedy” is at last on display at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, where the late artist thought it had been for the past five decades.

“We are just thrilled that these came home to where they belong,” his daughter MaryAnn Plastino Charles, who traveled from Alabama to Boston to see the art, told The Associated Press. “This has been a long time coming. My father thought for so many years that it was here.”

A prolific Golden Age artist who passed away Nov. 25 at age 91, Plastino was surprised to discover at New York Comic Con a month earlier that the pages hadn’t been given five decades earlier to the library, as he’d been led to believe, but were instead set to be sold at auction by a private owner on the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Plastino spent the last weeks of his life campaigning for the return of the artwork, leading Heritage Auctions to put the sale on hold until questions about ownership could be resolved; in December, DC Comics purchased the art for donation to the library.

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Comics A.M. | Author, ‘Vermillion’ writer Lucius Shepard dies

Lucius Shepard

Lucius Shepard

Passings | Award-winning science fiction and fantasy author Lucius Shepard, whose work included Life During Wartime and The Jaguar Hunter, passed away March 18. He was 66. Shepard ventured into comics writing on a few occasions, with the series Vermillion, part of DC Comics’ short-lived Helix imprint, and with contributions to Vertigo anthologies Gangland and Flinch. [Tor.com, BoingBoing]

Creators | American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque talks about the upcoming “Second Cycle” of the Vertigo series, which returns after a hiatus of more than a year. [Hero Complex]

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Grumpy Old Fan | ‘People’ get ready for DC in June

"Dad, can we get this now?"

“Dad, can we get this now? … How about now?”

Aw yeah! In my household, the best news from DC’s June solicitations is the six-issue Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse miniseries. I showed the cover to my 5-year-old and she was crestfallen to learn it didn’t come out for another three months. At least she can fill the time reading the other paperbacks (and Superman Family Adventures) and watching Frozen on an endless loop.

I may also have to get the Li’l Gotham figures, although at $13 a pop they are pretty pricey. Perhaps just Batman and Robin.

Oh, there’s more? What could it be …?

LET’S GO PLACES

The solicitation for Futures End #6 — advertising Ray Palmer, Frankenstein and Amethyst’s trip into the Phantom Zone — makes me irrationally optimistic about the series generally. I think the New 52 needs this series (or something like it) to present a coherent shared universe, because for the past two and a half years it’s been a clash of disparate styles and an array of changes without much to pull it all together. If Futures End can manage a good-sized, eclectic cast, and convince readers they’re all able to function in the same basic environment, that’ll go a long way towards giving the superhero books common ground.

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Superman takes us on a soaring GoPro journey in terrific fan film

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If as a kid you ever dreamed of viewing the world from Superman’s perspective, you finally have your chance: The good folks at Corridor Digital have created a video in which the Man of Steel finds a GoPro and straps it to his head, recording the journey as he returns the camera to its owner.

It’s a fun piece that not only provides a nice tour over, and through, Southern California, but shows off the talent of Corridor Digital, which has produced some other YouTube videos you may have seen. There’s also a lengthy look behind the scenes at the making of “Superman With a GoPro.” Watch them both below.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Checking up on Earth-August

Now I want to see the New 52 Congorilla

Now I want to see the New 52 Congorilla

Although the five-years-later setup of Futures End won’t be here until May, it got me thinking about a not-so-new New 52. The current comics take place some five years after Superman and company debuted — plus, apparently, a year for the face-free Joker to recuperate — so if you add five more years, it’s like double the amount of history! Well, double the amount of history that “matters,” I guess.

As I have been pretty critical of the present timeline, I’ll be curious to see how Futures End treats those additional five years. I suspect that, for the most part, they’ll be five years of “filler,” in the sense that mostly bad, Futures End-specific things happened during that time to bring DC-Earth to whatever sorry state we see in FE #1. I’ve heard that when all the New 52 books jump ahead five years (in September, naturally), they’ll reflect where their creative teams would like to take the characters in five years — but those will only be single issues, as opposed to the year-long weekly installments of Futures End. Besides, my bitter, resentful impulses remind me that it might well have been simpler just to start off with a 10-year timeline that would only have tweaked the old pre-relaunch status quo, not thrown out huge chunks of it.

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Sean Murphy cover takes us back to ‘Reign of the Supermen’

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I had taken a break from comics during the whole “Death of Superman”/”Reign of the Supermen” era, yet I’m a little excited by this mysterious cover unveiled today by Sean Murphy (The Wake, Punk Rock Jesus). Even those readers who weren’t around for the early-’90s storyline will undoubtedly recognize the Man of Steel/John Henry Irons/Steel, the Man of Tomorrow/Cyborg Superman, the Last Son of Krypton/Eradicator and the Metropolis Kid/Superboy, who arrived in Metropolis claiming to be Superman.

Murphy says he doesn’t know what the cover is for, but it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s part of DC Comics’ “Superman: Doomed” crossover, depicting the first major conflict in the New 52 between the Man of Steel and Doomsday, who was responsible for “The Death of Superman” 22 years ago.

Update: As a helpful commenter below points out, PreviewsWorld states Murphy’s cover is the 75th anniversary variant for Superman Unchained #6, due out on March 19.

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Steve Rude reveals ‘Adventures of Superman’ cover, backstory

rude-adventures1 Steve Rude has debuted the painted cover for his upcoming collaboration with Jerry Ordway on DC Comics’ digital-first Adventures of Superman — a 10-page story featuring none other than OMAC.

In his fan newsletter, the veteran article explained that his editor offered him several scripts, “but it wasn’t until we settled on something specifically catered to ‘The Dude Mentality’ — with characters most memorable to the 60′s and 70′s –  that things finally clicked. And what would fit the Dude mentality? How ’bout OMAC? Of the One Man Army Corps? As created by the great Jack Kirby back in ’75?”

But how did Rude connect with Ordway, well known for his runs as both an artist and a writer on DC’s The Adventures of Superman print series?

“Jerry submitted his script and we all loved it,” Rude said of his DC Digital First debut. “And after a hour or two of of finely tuned script discussion over the phone one afternoon, he and I were able to up the dramatics even further on the cool-meter.”

As for that cover: “Finally, I should mention that though DC’s budget didn’t permit the rates normally required by the Dude to paint this issues cover – I painted it anyway. Such sacrifices does one make in the name of proper presentation.”

Ordway and Rude’s Adventures of Superman story, “Seeds of Destruction,” is scheduled to premiere April 14 at DC Digital First.

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Early Superman cover art sells for $286,800

action comics15-cover artThe earliest original Superman cover art known to exist sold at auction over the weekend for $286,800, exceeding early estimates.

Fred Guardineer’s cover for Action Comics #15 (dated August 1939), on the fifth cover appearance of the Man of Steel, depicts the superhero aiding a distressed U.S. submarine on the ocean floor. It was purchased by Richard Evans of Bedrock City Comic Company in Houston.

“Guardineer’s cover is the earliest Superman cover art in existence, and an absolute treasure of comics history,” Ed Jaster, senior vice president of Heritage Auctions, said in a statement. “A price like this shows just how much collectors covet a rarity like this.”

A prolific Golden Age writer and artist, Guardineer created Zatara, whose first appearance in Action Comics #1 was overshadowed by the debut of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s Superman.

The Feb. 20-22 auction in New York City featured more than 1,200 lots, including the second part of the Don and Maggie Thompson collection. Highlights included: a near-mint copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, which sold for $191,200; Jack Kirby and Frank Giacola’s original cover art for Tales of Suspense #84, which fetched$167,300; and R. Crumb’s original art for the three-page story “Ducks Yas Yas” from Zap Comix #0, which went for $101,575.

Comics-inspired typographic prints might look good on your wall

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Comics fans searching for a visually bold yet affordable way to liven up a room may find something that suits their tastes, and their budgets, from GeekMyWall, which offers a line of striking typographic posters inspired by comics characters.

Harley Quinn, Batman, Green Lantern, Rorschach, V — they’re all represented in prints beginning at 11 inches by 17 inches or $25. Each figure is created from character-appropriate quotes. For instance, Wonder Woman is, “Of all people, you know who I am … …who the world needs me to be. I’m Wonder Woman.” And The Flash: “‘I’m getting lectured on child safety from a man who’s gone through four Robins?”

They’re also available as T-shirts. And if the comic characters aren’t for you, there are plenty of television- and movie-themed options.

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