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Grumpy Old Fan | Who won the ‘80s?

Where the over-people gather to watch big-screen botanical throwdowns

A couple of weeks ago, I wondered whether we could trace the entire sidekick-derived wing of DC’s superhero-comics history back to Bill Finger. Today I’m less interested in revisiting that question — although I will say Robin the Boy Wonder also owes a good bit to Jerry Robinson and Bob Kane — than using it as an example.

Specifically, this week’s question has nagged me for several years (going back to my TrekBBS days, even), and it is this: as between Alan Moore and the duo of Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, who has been a bigger influence on DC’s superhero books?

As the post title suggests, we might reframe this as “who won the ‘80s,” since all three men came to prominence at DC in that decade. Wolfman and Pérez’s New Teen Titans kicked off with a 16-page story in DC Comics Presents #26 (cover-dated October 1980), with the series’ first issue following the next month. Moore’s run on (Saga of the) Swamp Thing started with January 1984’s issue #20, although the real meat of his work started with the seminal issue #21. Wolfman and Pérez’s Titans collaboration lasted a little over four years, through February 1985’s Tales of the Teen Titans #50 and New Teen Titans vol. 2 #5. Moore wrote Swamp Thing through September 1987’s #64, and along the way found time in 1986-87 for a little-remembered twelve-issue series called Watchmen. After their final Titans issues, Wolfman and Pérez also produced a 12-issue niche-appeal series of their own, 1984-85’s Crisis On Infinite Earths.* The trio even had some common denominators: Len Wein edited both Titans and Watchmen (and Barbara Randall eventually succeeded him on both), and Gar Logan’s adopted dad Steve Dayton was friends with John Constantine.

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Rotworld kicks off in 12th issues of Swamp Thing, Animal Man

Rotworld

August brings the preludes to the Swamp Thing/Animal Man crossover that writers Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire have been talking about for awhile now, as Team Red and Team Green take on The Rot. According to Lemire, the crossover, Rotworld, is an “epic superhero/horror story” that he’s been working with Snyder on for the past year. “Buddy Baker and Alec Holland join forces to lead a pre-emptive strike deep into The Rot, the consequences of which will tear both of their worlds apart forever,” he said on his blog.

The crossover runs through each title’s 17th issue and will feature art by regular series artists Yanick Paquette and Steve Pugh, who worked together on the above joining covers for Animal Man #12 and Swamp Thing #12.

Comics A.M. | Tony DeZuniga hospitalized; record 3.5M FCBD comics ordered

Tony DeZuniga

Creators | Legendary comic artist Tony DeZuniga, the co-creator of Jonah Hex, has been hospitalized in the Philippines after suffering from a stroke and pneumonia. The 70-year-old DeZuniga is reportedly in the intensive care unit as friends and family rally to help with his medical expenses. [GMA News]

Retailing | Diamond Comic Distributors announced that retailers have ordered more than 3.5 million comics for Free Comic Book Day, up 23 percent from last year. Diamond also confirmed a second event centered on Halloween. [ICv2]

Graphic novels | The Irish Education Minister, Ruairí Quinn, has given his blessing to a manga-style graphic novel intended to help teenagers develop “emotional intelligence.” [TheJournal.ie]

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Here’s what the new Swamp Thing looks like

Swamp Thing

Via Buzzfeed, DC Comics has revealed what the new Swamp Thing looks like. The antler-sporting version of the character makes his debut on the cover to Swamp Thing #8 by artist Yanick Paquette.

What Are You Reading? with Jamaica Dyer

Conan #1

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at what the Robot 6 crew has been reading lately. Today our special guest is Jamaica Dyer, creator of Weird Fishes and Fox Head Stew, which can be read over at MTV Geek. She also recently did a concert report in comic form from San Francisco’s Noisepop for Spin Magazine.

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

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Grumpy Old Fan | Six degrees of Superman

I, Reverse-Vampire

Here is what you need to know going into this week’s post: I sat down with a list of DC’s current and upcoming superhero-universe comics, and rearranged it into a big chart. Now I have to make that little factoid exciting. Join me, won’t you?

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The watchword of any shared universe is “consistency.” Superman’s adventures in Superman and Action Comics may be produced by two different creative teams, and they may even take place in different timeframes, but they be must at least coexist peacefully both with each other and with the rest of DC’s superhero line. That’s part and parcel of corporately-controlled superhero comics, regardless of any tension with a professional’s creative freedom.

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Food or Comics? | Everybody wants a piece of the Action

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

It’s a slow week, this week; if I had $15, I’d use it to catch up on some recent enjoyments like Action Comics #3 (DC, $3.99) and OMAC #3 (DC, $2.99), two of my favorite titles from the New 52 relaunch–OMAC in particular has been a really weird and wonderful joy–as well as the final issue of Marvel’s great and sadly underrated Mystic revival (#4, $2.99). I’d also see if the parody-tastic Shame Itself #1 (Marvel, $3.99) lives up to its potential, because “Wyatt Cenac + Colleen Coover” sounds pretty promising to these ears.

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Quote of the day | Scott Snyder on the success of DC’s New 52

“The numbers were sort of staggering for me. It was definitely immediate and intimidating, seeing there were all these people reading it and this is working. Then it became really exciting to see DC bringing a lot of people to comics that haven’t been reading them for a while or are new to them entirely. I guess the challenge becomes finding the line between — I’m trying really hard in Batman and Swamp Thing in particular to tell stories that appeal to the character’s long-time fans who know everything in an encyclopedic way about these characters, and at the same time, making the stories acceptable for people who are picking up their very first comic book. That to me is the thing that all of us are getting our sea legs with: There are huge populations of new readers coming to the books. I think maybe some of us hoped that would be the case, but didn’t believe that there’d be as many as there are. But I get questions all the time like, ‘Why does Batman has a live dinosaur in his Batcave?’ or, ‘Doesn’t Swamp Thing come out of the swamp when they hit a remote button and then fight other monsters like Godzilla in the cartoon?’ And that’s wonderful to get those questions, because that means someone who’s never seen the character is seeing them for the first time in your book. So being aware of those fans and not alienating fans who have been there a long time is something I think is exciting and that we should all be conscious of.”

Scott Snyder, writer of Batman and Swamp Thing, discussing the much-publicized DC Comics relaunch

DC’s push for the New 52: Batman, Wonder Woman and mental health

From Batman #1, by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

With another wave of debuts for DC Comics’ New 52 — including Batman, Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Legion of Super-Heroes — comes another round of previews, interviews and assorted articles. Here are some of the highlights.

• Vulture previews the highly anticipated debut of Batman, by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, and chats briefly with the writer about the appeal of the Caped Crusader: “What appeals to me, no matter who’s in the cowl, is how Gotham City challenges them. Gotham is almost a nightmare generator, filled with villains that seem to represent an extension of Batman’s greatest fears. A lot of his greatest villains feel like mirrors: the Joker is who Batman would be if he broke his rule and fell into madness; Two Face is a mockery of the duality of his life. But what I love about Bruce in particular, and the reason I’m so excited to be doing Batman, is he’s a superhero that has no powers. He takes it upon himself to go out every night, punish himself, and be the best out there. To me, that is both incredibly heroic and exciting, but also really pathological and obsessive.”

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DC editor Chris Conroy takes to Twitter with art, news and more

Demon Knights #4

DC editor Chris Conroy took over DC’s Twitter feed today, and he’s been sharing concept art, pages and tidbits about some of his books all day. Conroy edits Superboy, Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, Legion of Super-Heroes and Demon Knights, and here are a few of the tidbits he’s shared:

–Mike Choi will draw Demon Knights #4 (that’s his cover at the top of the post).
–Walt Simonson will draw Legion of Super-Heroes #5.
–The red-head in Superboy #1 is who most people seem to think it is.
–Cliff Chiang’s original artwork from Wonder Woman will be on display at Bergen Street Comics in Brooklyn beginning Sept. 24.
–Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder have “big plans” for when Animal Man and Swamp Thing meet up.

And after the jump you’ll find a whole bunch of art, which I’ll update if he posts more.

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DC’s push for New 52: Retailer reactions, previews and ‘epic’ Batman

On the eve of the third wave of releases from the DC Comics relaunch, we check in on the latest news and previews for the New 52:

• At Comic Book Resources, Kiel Phegley checks in with direct market retailers after the first full week of the DC relaunch.

USA Today previews Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1, which kicks off the “War of the Monsters” story arc. “It’s basically Frankenstein and these classic Universal monsters against as many other monsters as I could throw at my poor artist [Alberto Ponticelli],” writer Jeff Lemire says. “Literally, I had pages where he was drawing thousands of monsters. It’s really fun and big and over the top and a lot of black humor as the team gets to know each other and interact, and the readers get to know them, as well.”

TV Guide previews Suicide Squad #1, written by Supernatural co-executive producer Adam Glass, who details his take on the radically redesigned Harley Quinn: “The thought was, let’s see her operate outside of the Joker, not being obsessed 24/7. One thing that I think gets downplayed with her is how smart she is. This is a woman who is a mastermind in her own right. […] We didn’t lose any of the humor. She’s still funny, she’s still sexy, she’s still a little crazy. This is Harley if she’s moved away from home, her chance to shine on her own.”

IGN.com and iFanboy have previews of Red Lantern #1 and Grifter #1, respectively.

• Writer Scott Snyder talks at length with Complex about Swamp Thing, and his approach to Batman: “The way DC approached me about the relaunch was that it was a way to tell any story that you wanted about your favorite character, no holds barred. And the story I wanted to tell was one that was already really rooted in what’s already happened in Batman, but is accessible to anybody that hasn’t been reading Batman. It’s a big epic, ambitious story about Bruce Wayne and the way he thinks of Gotham as his friend and this kind of ancient evil under Gotham that exists, or may exist, that he has somehow overlooked as Batman. So it has to do with the history of the Wayne family and the Grayson family, and there will be big revelations about this enemy from the past, and this enemy is going to bring all the weight of history against the Bat family and try to crush them.”

DC’s push for New 52: Sales, reviews and continuity

Justice League #4

As week three of DC’s big relaunch begins, here are some more highlights of news, announcements and coverage of the New 52 thus far:

• So how is the relaunch doing overall? DC Comics put out a release this morning noting several fun facts about sales and the relaunch thus far, while Kiel Phegley at Comic Book Resources spoke with DC’s John Rood and Bob Wayne for context.

Also of note is Diamond Comic Distributor’s list of the top 100 comics in August. As DC noted in their release, Justice League #1 was not only the top seller in the direct market for the month, but is the top-selling book of the year so far. That’s not surprising. DC also noted it’s the highest first printing they’ve had since the 2006 Justice League relaunch. John Jackson Miller, meanwhile, looks at the top books of this century this far, pointing out that the new Justice League will likely land in the top 30 of that list.

We already knew that Justice League‘s print run was over 200,000, but today DC announced that Action Comics‘ second printing will push it over 200,000 copies as well. And speaking of second printings, DC confirmed that all of last week’s titles AND this week’s titles — yes, the ones that aren’t in stores until Wednesday — have sold out at the distributor level, and they’ll be going back to press on them all.

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Grumpy Old Fan | New 52, week 1: These boots are made for leaping

Static Shock #1

It was the strangest thing — when I woke up this morning I was younger, single, and most of my clothes had high collars and funky seams….

Okay, let’s cut that out right now. Don’t worry, I’m still middle-aged and married, with the same beat-up wardrobe. However, I have read all but one of this week’s New-52 books, and now I get to share them with you. (The local comics shop got shorted on Batwing #1, which is too bad, because as one of the few sort-of new concepts being offered, I was especially looking forward to it. Next week for sure!) Generally I thought most had at least some potential, and I was mostly impressed with the efforts the various creative teams made. Of course, that doesn’t mean I liked everything, but I did like more than I thought I would.

Onward–!

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New 52 Pickup | Week 2

It’s finally here: The first full week of DC’s New 52 brought 13 brand-new titles – only the tip of the iceberg as September progresses. If the quality of this week’s books is any indication of the rest of the New 52, there will be some very difficult cuts to make at the end of the month.

From now through the end of September, I’ll provide brief overviews of each book with the pull-list status at the end. With no further ado, it’s time to jump into Week 2 of the New 52! Prepare for a number of Bat-family books, the new JLI, Sgt. Rock for the modern age and more!

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

Animal Man
Written by Jeff Lemire with art by Travel Foreman

This book sets the benchmark for this week as to what a New 52 #1 should be. Jeff Lemire brings new life to Buddy Baker in an incredible story that both takes advantage of the character’s rich history and introduces new elements in the spirit of DC’s relaunch. Not only does Lemire give readers a welcome reintroduction to Animal Man with a stunning cliffhanger that will leave them wanting more, Travel Foreman’s interior pencils are gorgeous, only adding to the unique feel that Lemire gives this title. It’s a great first issue, and I can’t wait to read more. If I could read only one New 52 issue this week, this would be it.

Status: IN

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Out of the swamp, and into The New York Times

From Swamp Thing #1, by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette

If you had told me a year ago — heck, a week ago — that Swamp Thing would be in The New York Times, in anything other than an Alan Moore retrospective, I’d have certainly laughed. But here we are, with the newspaper referencing the creature in a headline and showing off two pages of Yanick Paquette’s gorgeous art from the first issue of DC Comics’ relaunched Swamp Thing, which arrives in stores today.

It’s all part of a solid, if brief, profile of Scott Snyder that charts the writer’s three-year comics rise from minor Marvel gigs to Vertigo’s American Vampire to Detective Comics to a key role in DC’s New 52, penning Swamp Thing and the high-profile Batman.

After the break, check out two more pages from Swamp Thing #1, which Comic Book Resources gave 4 1/2 stars. Batman #1, by Snyder and Greg Capullo, arrives in stores Sept. 21.

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