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Shuster estate asks Supreme Court to take up Superman case

From Action Comics #1

From Action Comics #1

The estate of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that bars it from reclaiming a stake in the character, arguing the artist’s siblings didn’t have the ability to assign his copyrights to DC Comics more than two decades ago.

As Law360 reports, the estate insists the Ninth Circuit erred in its November ruling that the family relinquished all claims to Superman in 1992 in exchange for “more than $600,000 and other benefits,” which included paying Shuster’s debts following his death earlier that year and providing his sister Jean Peavy and brother Frank Shuster with a $25,000 annual pension. In October 2012, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright found that the agreement invalidated a copyright-termination notice filed in 2003 by Shuster’s nephew Mark Peary.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Johns, Romita take on Superman’s big blues

Expectations

Expectations

For their first issue of Superman, writer Geoff Johns, penciler John Romita Jr. and inker Klaus Janson (with colorist Laura Martin and letterer Sal Cipriani) have served up an intriguing blend of action and introspection. There are the requisite nods to semi-obscure (Titano!) and really obscure (J. Wilbur Wolfingham?) Superman minutiae, and one subplot seems destined to undo a New 52 development. However, while Issue 32 of Superman Vol. 3 is concerned with managing the Man of Steel’s status quo, a good bit of it revolves around the new character(s) that will apparently drive this story arc.

Accordingly, the issue doesn’t feel quite so much like the start of a bold new era (although it could well be); instead, the new creative team uses the issue to ease into its story, such that the action serves the character work. Considering that almost half of the issue involves fight scenes, that seems like an odd observation, but it’s kind of an odd issue overall.

The question then becomes whether those characters — Superman included — are compelling enough to follow month in and month out. Last month, Johns told Comic Book Resources that readers should “[j]ust give us one issue and that’s all. I think we’ll earn your trust and your time and your investment in one issue because I really believe in this first issue and I really believe in what we’re doing.”

Whether Superman #32 meets that standard is therefore somewhat unclear. It lays out the characters and their concerns pretty broadly, and (somewhat like Johns’ and Ivan Reis’ Aquaman) it depends to a certain extent on answering reader frustrations. Still, on balance, it works. This is a very good issue of the New 52 Superman, with all that implies.

Read on for more, and as always …

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Comics A.M. | A closer look at Barnes & Noble split, Nook’s future

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble

Retailing | Shares of Barnes & Noble rose 5.5 percent Wednesday, to $21.69, following the announcement that the bookseller plans to split into two companies, one for its retail stores and the other for Nook Media. Barron’s suggests those plans could buoy stock prices for a while, as long as the company doesn’t change its mind (again) about the split. The magazine also notes the possibility that an outsider buyer could make a bid for the retail stores before the split takes place, leaving Barnes & Noble with the Nook, which will be combined with the company’s successful college-bookstore operations. [Barron's]

Manga | Inspired by a line of T-shirts featuring the work of the manga artist Jiraiya, Guy Trebay talks to Anne Ishii and Chip Kidd about the popularity of hard-core gay manga, such as the work of Gengoroh Tagame, in the United States. [The New York Times]

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Quote of the Day | Geoff Johns’ 200-year run on ‘Superman’

superman32

“Two centuries. I would love to see what kind of foil or hologram Dan DiDio could put on a book in the year 2214.”

Superman writer Geoff Johns, responding to a question in his Reddit AMA thread about how long, in an ideal world, would his run on the series be. Other highlights from the Q&A can be found at Comic Book Resources.

Yes, even the Man of Steel needs car insurance

superman-cars

Superman may be more powerful than a locomotive, and be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but he can’t get away with driving on England’s M42 motorway without insurance.

On Saturday, officers with the Central Motorway Policing Group pulled over a red car with a fluttering red cape where its rear glass should’ve been. Stranger still (perhaps?) was that the car’s occupants were dressed in identical red-and-blue costumes with the iconic “S” emblem emblazoned on their chests.

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Hutchinson, Kansas, proclaims itself Smallville for two days

welcome to smallvilleHutchinson, Kansas, will be proclaimed “Smallville — The Home of Clark Kent” Friday and Saturday in celebration of the inaugural Smallville Festival and Smallville ComicCon.

You may recall that in 2012, three Hutchinson residents launched a campaign to rename the city after Superman’s hometown, saying the two share many traits. Plus, the move would likely provide an economic boost to the area. Although the city council didn’t approve a permanent change, last year it did declare June 21 “Smallville Day,” for which The Hutchinson News temporarily became The Daily Planet.

This year, plans are bigger, with the Smallville Festival kicking off Thursday with downtown events that include a car show, Superman-themed photo booth and a screening of Man of Steel, followed on Friday with such activities as a picnic in the park and a benefit concert. And then Saturday sees the first Smallville ComicCon, with guests that include Smallville veterans Alaina Huffman and Phil Morris.

“What I want this festival to represent is the smallest things mean the most,” Christopher Wietrick, who spearheaded the initial Smallville campaign, tells The Hutchinson News. “I want it to serve as a reminder that something little can make a difference. The festival is about giving back and celebrating our heroes.”

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Funko reveals DC Comics Vinyl Cubed magnetic figures

vinyl cubed8

Longtime DC Comics readers will undoubtedly recall Composite Superman, the green-skinned Silver Age villain who, dressed in a costume that was past Superman’s and part Batman’s, possessed the powers of the Man of Steel as well as those of the Legion of Super-Heroes. But how about Composite Aquaman? Or Composite Harley Quinn?

While they don’t come with superhuman abilities (as far as we know), Funko’s newly announced line of DC Comics Vinyl Cubed 2.5-inch magnetic figures that allows collectors to mix and match body parts of their favorite heroes and villains. The head of The Joker on Bizarro’s body? Sure. Robin with Harley Quinn’s arms? If you want.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Let’s do the time warp again

It's the pelvic thrust that really drives 'em insane

Put your hands on your hips

A big part of me still thinks Forever Evil would have worked a lot better as one of those late-1990s done-in-five-weeks events. I did enjoy the final issue, but it was because lots of things actually happened, and it made me wonder why they couldn’t have occurred a bit more quickly.

Still, the last-page reveal warmed my withered nerd heart. It’s the sort of thing that cries out for a boatload of analysis based on a set of comics published when I was in high school. Could be a stretch, but I’ll risk it.

SPOILERS FOLLOW, therefore, for Forever Evil #7 and probably some other stories you have already read.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Summertime blues for DC in August

Happy trails

Happy trails

Considering that the July solicitations also previewed September’s Futures End tie-ins, and the final issue of Forever Evil arrives this week after being scheduled originally for March, the August listings feel like just one more ingredient in a jumbled publishing stew. When it’s all done, maybe we’ll see that it’s all worked together. Now, though, we might have to wait until the October solicits for a clearer picture of where DC’s superhero line is going.

EARTH DAZE

In the wake of the New 52’s various revisions, the Grant Morrison-written The Multiversity miniseries seems like an artifact — if not a relic — from the pre-relaunch days. Like the Morrison-written Batman Incorporated, it was originally conceived in that environment, when legacy characters abounded and beloved Silver Age elements were reemerging. Of course, with Earth 2, Worlds’ Finest, Forever Evil and Futures End, parallel worlds have hardly been absent from the New 52; so perhaps The Multiversity is meant to expand that storytelling device even further. I get the feeling that many things are about to change (again) for DC’s shared superhero line, and if some Morrison-infused characters are going to be part of that, I hope they stick around for a while.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. races in with new Superman car

earnhardt-superman1

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has unveiled the No. 88 National Guard/Superman Chevrolet SS he’ll drive Sunday at Charlotte International Speedway in North Carolina as part of a new three-year promotional partnership between DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Hendrick Motorsports.

The new paint scheme brings with it a slew of related merchandise, from die-cast miniature cars to T-shirts to drink koozies, already available on the NASCAR website.

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Comics A.M. | In larger venue, Dallas Comic Con draws big crowd

Dallas Comic Con (courtesy of the event's Facebook page)

Dallas Comic Con (courtesy of the event’s Facebook page)

Conventions | Preliminary estimates place attendance at Dallas Comic Con at 45,000, easily a record for the event, which not only moved this year to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center from the smaller Irving Convention Center but is also under new ownership. [The Dallas Morning News]

Conventions | Joe Rodriguez does some shoe-leather reporting at the Big Wow ComicFest in San Jose, talking to creators and attendees about cosplay, digital comics and the perils of self-publishing. [San Jose Mercury News]

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Grumpy Old Fan | Clothes calls, or the perils of practicality

Boys and their toys

Boys and their toys

This past week (ish), DC Entertainment was so pervasive in the television upfronts, it almost made me forget the company still publishes comics. Joining Arrow on the 2014/2015 TV schedule will be adaptations of The Flash, iZombie and Constantine, as well as the Bat-prequel Gotham. (And hey, that was Caity “Black Canary” Lotz reprising her role as Don’s pregnant-hippie “niece” on Sunday’s Mad Men!) Moreover, we’ve now seen a moody black-and-white photo of Ben Affleck as Batman, standing next to his new Batmobile and ready to dominate the next Superman movie; and The CW has shown us a nifty little clip of the Flash in action.

While I’m prepared to like all of these shows, and certainly willing to give them reasonable opportunities to succeed, once again they remind me that no comic — and certainly no superhero comic — can be adapted to live-action with complete fidelity. Indeed, by taking its cue directly from the comics of the ‘40s and ‘50s, the old Adam West/Burt Ward Batman show was one of the more faithful projects. Likewise, the pilot of the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman series didn’t go too far from Diana’s earliest adventures in All Star Comics #8 and Sensation Comics #1. However, I don’t think that approach would work these days.

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DC superheroes gear up for three-year NASCAR deal

hendrick-dc

Superman, Batman, The Flash and Green Lantern will team up with NASCAR drivers Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. as part of a new promotional partnership between DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Hendrick Motorsports.

Announced today, the three-year deal is geared toward marketing NASCAR to a younger demographic with initiatives like car paint schemes featuring DC superheroes, and print and digital comics co-starring the Hendrick drivers. Continue Reading »

Heroes get back to nature in digitally manipulated photos

lapray-superman

It’s not often that we see superheroes enjoying some quiet time and communing with nature, most likely because that would make for some incredibly boring comic books. However, the concept leads to some lovely images, as photographer and digital artist Benoit Lapray demonstrates in his series “The Quest for the Absolute.”

Dropping costumed characters into (mostly) serene settings, Lapray creating scenes of Thor strolling in a lush forest, Spider-Man resting at the side of a winding mountain road, the Silver Surfer pondering a deep valley, Wonder Woman perching in the spray of a waterfall, and more.

Check out some of the images below, and more on Lapray’s website.

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Comics A.M. | ‘The 99′ creator questions reasons for Saudi ban

The 99

The 99

Publishing | In the wake of the ban in Saudi Arabia of the animated adaptation of The 99 comic, creator Naif Al-Mutawa writes about what he had to go through in the first place to get approval in that country for the Islamic superheroes (one of the steps was the sale of Cracked magazine at a loss so his company would be sharia-compliant to the satisfaction of an Islamic bank). He looks at what led to the fatwa, and concludes by seeking one of his own, posing questions for the clerics who issued the decree. [The National]

Publishing | As part of its five-year anniversary celebration, Multiversity Comics surveys such industry figures as Eric Stephenson, Rachel Deering, Tom Spurgeon and Gina Gagliano about the biggest changes that have taken place during that time, and where comics are headed. [Multiversity Comics]

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