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DC creator shuffles: Stormwatch, Constantine, Birds of Prey, more

With the launch of Comic Book Resources’ new monthly feature with DC Comics Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras and Editorial Director Bobbie Chase arrives announcements of a slew of creative changes, including confirmation that Jim Starlin is the new writer of Stormwatch.

Best known for his work on Marvel’s cosmic titles, Starlin has been teasing since early December that he would take the reins on an existing DC series beginning in April. Yvel Guichet joins him as artist. Other creative shifts in April include:

Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes will write the newly launching Constantine, taking over Robert Venditti with Issue 2. “Robert came to us with a fantastic pitch for Constantine,” Harras told CBR. “We really loved what Robert’s doing — he’s working on Demon Knights now, and he’s also working on another project for us that I really can’t go into which is a big deal for us. But at the end of the day, Robert and Dan [DiDio] and I spoke, and Constantine was, for him, one book too many. It was the one thing that we had to go, “If we want you to focus on this one project, maybe we should make a change on Constantine.”

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Grumpy Old Fan | The freak flag flies for DC in February

Abraham Lincoln, Supervillain Hunter

I hear a lot of rumbling from the February solicitations — the First Lantern, the last Hellblazer, the new JLA — like the Next Big Things are simmering under the surface. Yes, this is how DC wants me to think, but there’s no guarantee that my anticipation will live up to the books themselves. Still, at least things are happening, which is nice. There are endings and beginnings, changes and reintroductions, and a few good reprints too.

So, without further ado …

JUST BE GLAD IT’S NOT “20,000 LEAGUES”

The “expansion of the Justice League” advertised in Justice League #17 may be related to the new Justice League of America, but I suspect it will have more to do with the main League’s roster additions (which, if memory serves, were teased back in summer 2011). I base this mostly on the fact that JLA #1 comes out two weeks before JL #17, and therefore I doubt DC would want its latest high-profile first issue to spoil the end of “Throne of Atlantis.”

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Grumpy Old Fan | Doubling down on the Darknight Detective

Yes, that is Benedict Arnold with a flaming sword

This week sees the print debut of Legends of the Dark Knight, the ongoing print version of DC’s digital-first Batman anthology. By design it’s not part of the regular Batman line, and therefore not counted as one of the New 52. However, it gives me an excuse to ask how many Bat-books DC Comics really needs.

Now, I don’t mean that to be as dismissive as it sounds. The current Batman line is built on years, if not decades, of steady readership and fan attachments, and you don’t just wave that away. Nevertheless, if there are only 52 slots in the main superhero line, must the Batman Family claim a quarter of them? The relaunch has made pruning these titles both easier and harder, and today I want to look at the opportunities it presents.

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Tyler Kirkham to replace Brett Booth on Teen Titans?

With Teen Titans #0 in stores this week, artist Tyler Kirkham made his first foray into DC Comics’ teen-oriented team title. According to Kirkham, it certainly won’t be his last. Bleeding Cool has picked up a tidbit from Kirkham’s website, which states he’ll be moving to Teen Titans.

“Having worked on Green Lantern titles for the passed 2 years, I’m now moving on to Teen Titans,” Kirkham wrote. “So I wanted to do a Huge Green Lantern art sale to show my appreciation to everyone who read my issues.”

Kirkham is the current artist on Green Lantern: New Guardians. Although his post implies he’ll be leaving the book for Teen Titans, there has been no official word from DC about the artistic shift. Although, considering the recent artist shuffles with Yildiray Cinar doing a two issue fill-in on Earth 2, Alberto Ponticelli coming on to Dial H and Ivan Reis and Joe Prado taking over Justice League a change in some of the other New 52 titles isn’t exactly unexpected. Judging from Kirkham’s statement, it seems likely more artistic changes are in store for the second year of the New 52.

Grumpy Old Fan | The games begin for DC in November

Control of the Firestorm Matrix will be decided by Rock-Paper-Scissors

College basketball season starts back up in November, so that makes thinking about bracketology only a little less premature. Looking at the various discrete (and, occasionally, indirect) crossovers happening throughout November’s New 52 solicitations, I couldn’t help but picture the field of 68, with each individual game a step along the way to … “Trinity War,” I guess …?

OPENING ROUNDS

Green Lantern’s “Rise of the Third Army” occupies the four GL titles, of course, but it also brings in Justice League, where the solicit for issue #14 wonders where Hal is. (After reading this week’s GL #12, I have a better idea about that.) Likewise, GL #14 guest-stars the League.

From the solicits I wonder if “ROT3A” takes place mainly in GL (with a little JL on the side). “Night of the Owls” was advertised that way (you only need to read Batman, because the other Bat-books dealt with ancillary stories) and it kind-of fits with the way the New-52 books have hyped their creative teams. Johns, Scott Snyder, and Jeff Lemire are responsible for a total of seven books (GL, JL, Aquaman, Batman, Swamp Thing, Animal Man, JL Dark), and each writer has at least one book in some sort of crossover this month.

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Grumpy Old Fan | The place is the thing

Why don't more comics advertise "Adventure In Omaha?"

Today I am pondering that Ivan Brandon essay on TheAwl.com, and the things comics can do that movies just can’t.

Last week I mentioned the Lazarus Pit as an example of a comics staple that Batman movies — any Batman movies, arguably — would probably be reluctant to use. While the Pit comes with certain restrictions and side effects, it still boils down basically to an unlimited supply of extra lives. It runs counter to the idea of Batman as being grounded in reality, but in the context of a shared universe where Batman pals around with extraterrestrials (and their agents), a super-powered Amazon, and the King of Atlantis, it’s not that far-fetched. This is the old “Character Y could solve Character X’s problems” hypothesis, and it tends to be met with “Character X and Character Y play by different rules.” A good example of the latter was a “No Man’s Land” story featuring Superman (coincidentally collected in the new NML Vol. 3), where the Man of Steel’s well-intentioned assistance in trying to rebuild an earthquake-devastated Gotham turned out to be exactly wrong under the circumstances.

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What Are You Reading? with Kevin Church

Happy Sunday and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our guest today is Kevin Church, writer of The Rack, Signs and Meanings, the new Monkeybrain series Wander: Olive Hopkins And The Ninth Kingdom and many other comics.

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

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C2E2 2012 | Friday Photodiary

Welcome to C2E2

One of the things a lot of pros like about C2E2 is the late start on Friday. It doesn’t open to the public until 1:00 pm, so creators can sleep in and recover from their trips if they want. Or, if they want to go early to set up or just walk around and visit with each other, they can do that too. It’s also helpful for press jerks taking lots of pictures. Lots. Of pictures.

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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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Mackie reveals the Ravagers line-up

The Ravagers by Ian Churchill

Last week DC Comics released a teaser image for their new teen superhero series The Ravagers series by writer Howard Mackie and artist Ian Churchill, which debuts in May following a crossover between their other teen books, Legion Lost, Superboy and Teen Titans. The team didn’t look too familiar to me beyond Fairchild, the former Wildstorm character who led Gen13 who has been popping up in Superboy lately, and I speculated that the team was made up of other former Wildstorm characters.

And of course I was wrong.

Mackie discussed the line-up with Newsarama’s Vaneta Rogers, and it’s a line-up the includes a bunch of names that should be familiar to longtime Teen Titans readers:

  • Let’s start with the guy shooting the wave motion gun out of his chest, on the left … which means we’ll also have to talk about the girl on the right holding lightning. Apparently they are the New 52 versions of Thunder and Lightning. Back in the old DCU, they were half-Vietnamese twins, one with the power to control thunder and, um, one with the power to control lightning. I think the last time we saw them was during the Salvation Run miniseries where they were used to power Lex Luthor’s teleportation machine and send him home.
  • As folks pointed out in the comments section, the lady in the middle there is Terra, who Mackie called “abrasive.” The name Terra, of course, has a long and sorted history with the Titans, dating back to the Judas Contract storyline. The name’s been used by a couple other characters since then.
  • And with Terra on the team, it only makes sense that Beast Boy would also be there … although in the New 52 he is now red instead of green. I bet Terra breaks his heart at some point, poor guy …
  • The monster-looking guy in the back is called Ridge, who I don’t recall ever seeing before.

And although she isn’t shown in the above image, Mackie confirmed that Rose Wilson would play a role in the book, as would the newly designed version of Warblade.

Grumpy Old Fan | Can the New 52 count on the Next Six’s Earth-2?

"You're not going out in *that*?!?"

Although they won’t be solicited for a few more weeks, DC has already been talking up the six new(ish) titles coming in May. G.I. Combat, Dial H, Ravagers, and Worlds’ Finest join the returning Batman Incorporated and the long-rumored Justice So– I mean, Earth 2 — as the replacements for most of the New-52’s lowest-selling books.

As with the original New-52 group, every new title except one is familiar to longtime DC fans; and as with the original New-52, that book spins out of an existing feature. (Then it was Batman Incorporated begetting Batwing; here it’s the Teen Titans/Superboy nexus spawning Ravagers.) However, where the New-52 tried noticeably to make many of its books accessible — or at least uprooted them from established DC lore — most of the new titles seem to require some prerequisite reading.

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Before Bunker, there was ‘Mega Arm Guy’

Over on his blog, Teen Titans artist Brett Booth shows us some of his early designs for the character who eventually became Bunker. Originally the character was “going to transform into a monster,” Booth says, and the character went through several other iterations before they landed on Bunker and his bricks. “Scott wanted to do bricks so we did bricks.”

Grumpy Old Fan | Successor stories

Justice League America #61

Don’t ask me how I remember this, but it was just about twenty years ago that the first previews of Dan Jurgens’ Justice League began appearing. After five years, the “bwah-ha-ha” era was winding down, and Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis were leaving Justice League America. Giffen was also stepping away from plots and breakdowns for Justice League Europe, with JLE’s scripter Gerard Jones taking over as the book’s only writer; and Brian Augustyn replaced Andy Helfer as both books’ editor.

With a number of the New 52 titles changing creative teams before they’re even a year old, it’s too early to start talking about any long-lived, let alone definitive, runs on a particular book. Still, DC clearly hopes these books will be around for a while, even without the folks who launched ‘em. It got me thinking about past changes of the guard, and how they have followed some well-established interpretations.

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Comics A.M. | Alvin Schwartz passes away; Martin leaves Daredevil

Alvin Schwartz

Passings | Alvin Schwartz, the prolific writer who penned Batman comics and the Batman and Superman comic strips for DC Comics in the 1940s, passed away Oct. 28 after a long illness. He was 95. Before leaving comics in 1958, Schwartz wrote for most of DC’s titles, including Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and The Flash. [News from ME]

Creators | Tucker Stone talks to Mark Waid about his work on Daredevil, and Waid confirms that Marcos Martin, originally announced as the artist on every other arc, won’t be working on the book after issue #6: “Unfortunately, it was something that came up while we were working. He’s doing 4, 5 and 6. When he came on, I don’t think things were firmed up with his next project and now they have. I salute him, and I think it’s going to be great and I want to see him go off and do creator owned stuff. But my heart breaks.” [comiXology]

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Grumpy Old Fan | New 52 Week 4: Across the finish line

Aquaman #1 -- overcompensating, perhaps?

So here we are, the last week of the New 52 rollout, and I must say it’s been a fascinating — sometimes exhausting — ride. It’ll be good to get back to more normal posting next week, but I have enjoyed these marathon stream-of-consciousness reviews. Although DC has said over and over that these books are all part of the same revised universe, there are so many different styles and approaches on display (The early ‘90s! The mid- to late ‘90s!) that the line seems a lot more heterogeneous than it did five weeks ago.

Moreover, the realization that these books are the new status quo is only now starting to sink in. Overall it’s a good feeling, but bittersweet too. After all, I had 25 years to get used to the last line-wide revampings.

SPOILERS FOLLOW, as always.

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