Axel-In-Charge: Waid & Samnee on "Black Widow" and the Dawn of the All-New, All-Different Era
A little over a year ago, I asked, “what do we want out of a [superhero] comic-based TV series?”
This season, DC Comics fans have plenty of material to fuel that debate. I still haven’t seen any of Gotham or Constantine, but I’ve really enjoyed the combination of The Flash and Arrow. With both shows taking a break for the holidays, today I want to see what satisfies and what doesn’t.
* * *
It took me a while to warm up to Arrow. After taking most of last season to catch up — and, as it happens, missing the Barry Allen episodes — I seem to have gotten on board just at the right time. Because I am not a fan of superhero shows that de-emphasize the “superhero” part, it was harder for me to accept that Oliver Queen would skulk around the urban jungle in a hood and eyeblack. That sort of intermediate realism (which now reminds me of the short-lived TV show based on Mike Grell’s Jon Sable comics) somehow requires more suspension of disbelief than a full-on costume and codename does.
(NOTE: The Futures Index is on Thanksgiving vacation, so you’ll get a double dose next week.)
It doesn’t look good for the current Universe Designate 2. If the title of the miniseries Earth 2: World’s End weren’t enough of a clue, the setup of its companion Futures End tells the tale: Apokoliptian troops devastate the planet, forcing the refugees into the main DC Universe (Designate Zero). Moreover, glimpses of the previous Earth-Two — one-time home to DC’s Golden Age heroes and their legacies, like you didn’t know — suggest that it might be making a comeback.
Considering the New 52 relaunch eliminated the original versions of the Golden Agers, their collective reinstatement isn’t without its own set of issues. A few months ago I looked at how the current Earth-2 has distinguished itself from its predecessor. Therefore, today let’s ask how the return of that predecessor might work.
Today DC Comics released The Flash #36, an issue that represents the final work of Brazilian artist André Coelho. His death, while not widely reported until today, occurred in mid-October, as noted by this Oct. 20 MeiaLua memorial podcast. DC dedicated the issue of The Flash to the 35-year-old artist.
Co-writer Van Jensen also paid tribute to Coelho on his blog, writing, “He was an incredible artist, able to convey so much emotion into every panel. André also was always as nice as could be, responding to any request with a simple, ‘No problem!'”
“I thought that the way Warner Bros. announced the slate of DC movies could have been handled better. I think that someone like Grant Gustin, who has just launched an iconic character like The Flash, to record-breaking numbers — numbers that far surpassed Arrow‘s numbers […] I think that he should have been given a wider berth than two episodes before another actor was announced to play his character. […] I thought that it was shitty that all of this stuff got announced the morning that the ratings — the spectacular ratings — of the second episode of The Flash came in.”
As Comic Book Resources debuted one character card drawn by Ivan Reis for the hit CW drama The Flash, a handful of other websites were doing the same, providing fans with mini-biographies of the key players.
In addition to CBR’s Det. Eddie Thawne card, there’s The Flash (Entertainment Weekly), Iris West (KSite TV), Det. Joe West (Access Hollywood), Harrison Wells (The Hollywood Reporter) and Cisco Ramon (IGN). That leaves Caitlin Snow, who should be popping up any moment now …
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.
The CW’s new drama The Flash has been widely praised for its rejection of doom and gloom in favor of a cheerier depiction of superheroes. However, a group of physics students is questioning whether Barry Allen is a hero at all.
In a brief paper titled “The Flash: Hero or Villain?,” four students from the University of Leicester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy scrutinize a scene from the pilot episode in which the Scarlet Speedster races to save a bicyclist from being struck by a taxi. While in the television series the man was left confused but otherwise unharmed, in reality his encounter with the Fastest Man Alive would leave him in worse shape than if he’d been struck by the car.
French manufacturer Orangina Schweppes has partnered with DC Entertainment to produce special cans for its Oasis fruit-drink brand featuring some of the publisher’s most iconic superheroes.
According to The Ephemerist, the promotion is tied to the 75th anniversary of Batman, here portrayed by Mangue Debol. He’s joined by Ramon Tafraise as The Flash, Fambougeoise as Wonder Woman and Orange Presslé as Superman. It’s worth noting that all four heroes seem to be wearing a variation of their New 52 costumes, which don’t often appear in licensing efforts.
You can see closeups at Geek Art.
This fall has been particularly exceptional television adaptations: The Walking Dead season premiere pulled in more than 17 million viewers, while more than 8 million watched the first episode Gotham, making it Fox’s best fall drama debut in 14 years. More than 6 million raced to see The Flash pilot, giving The CW its highest ratings ever. About 5 million are regularly tuning in for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and nearly 3 million for the third season of Arrow.
It’s not limited to live-action series, either: 2 million people watch Teen Titans Go!, and more than 1 million tune in to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Nickelodeon.
On the big screen, all four feature films starring Marvel characters — X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — each grossed more than $700 million each worldwide. So far, comic book movies have generated more than $3.8 billion dollars this year. While it’s unknown how many of those dollars are from repeat viewings, that’s still a lot of people.
We’re just now into the back half of October and it’s already been a busy month for DC Comics’ television and movie adaptations. Gotham got under way, The Flash debuted and Arrow has returned, with Constantine on deck. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. announced a massive slate of Justice League-related movies, stretching from 2016’s Batman v Superman to 2020’s Cyborg.
However, the adaptation pipeline has the potential to flow in two directions. Between Caitlin Snow’s potential Killer Frost, the second episode’s Multiplex and the promise of both Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein, the new Flash show seems pretty intent on bringing in a good bit of Firestorm lore. If DC executives hadn’t already been thinking about yet another Firestorm comic revival, The Flash’s immediate success may well encourage them to. Similarly, of all the movies Warner Bros. apparently intends to make over the next six years, the only one without a solid comics presence is Cyborg.
Therefore, today we’ll look at these two creations of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, to see what DC might do with their four-color futures.
Legal | The Japanese publisher Square Enix has filed a counterclaim against SNK Playmore, asking Osaka District Court to rule that its manga Hi Score Girl doesn’t infringe on copyrights held by the video game company. Earlier this year, SNK brought criminal copyright violation charges against Square Enix after learning Hi Score Girl contains more than 100 unauthorized images of characters from SNK Playmore games. The manga has been put on hold because of the dispute. [Anime News Network]
Conventions | Who’s buying, and how much are they spending, at conventions? Rob Salkowitz mines the numbers from a recent Eventbrite poll of convention-goers to get some answers: Most people spend between $100 and $500 per person; cosplayers actually spend a bit more than average; and women shell out more money at conventions, while men spend more online. [ICv2]
Editorial cartoons | The New York Times has apologized to readers who were offended by an editorial cartoon about India’s space program that depicted the country as a man in traditional dress, leading a cow and knocking at the door of the “Elite Space Club.” “The intent of the cartoonist, Heng Kim Song, was to highlight how space exploration is no longer the exclusive domain of rich, Western countries,” reads the apology, signed by editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal. “Mr. Heng, who is based in Singapore, uses images and text — often in a provocative way — to make observations about international affairs. We apologize to readers who were offended by the choice of images in this cartoon. Mr. Heng was in no way trying to impugn India, its government or its citizens.” [The New Indian Express]
Note: Due to my travel schedule, the Futures Index is taking a break this week. There will be a double dose next week to get us back on track.
Something I didn’t mention in last week’s post about The Multiversity #1 is the persistent notion that corporate-controlled characters have, for lack of a better phrase, “lives of their own.” In other words, we know how Superman, et al., are “supposed” to act, based on common, recurring elements, which are ostensibly independent of any particular creative team. Because The Multiversity offers a prime opportunity to play around with those elements and the expectations they engender, this week I wanted to go a little more in that direction.
* * *
We begin with Batman, and specifically a scene from the now-classic Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon. “Legends of the Dark Mite,” written by Bat-guru Paul Dini, features a brief-but-incisive dig not just at fans, but at the corporate culture which has nurtured the Caped Crusader over these past 75 years. See, Bat-Mite wants to see his hero fight a supervillain, but Batman just wants the little guy to vamoose, and suggests the imp summon Calendar Man. Yadda yadda yadda, Calendar King has killer Easter Bunnies.
Arrow Season 2.5, which debuted Monday, will alternate weeks with The Flash: Season Zero. Set between the second and third seasons of the hit television series, Arrow is penned by executive producer Marc Guggenheim and staff writer Keto Shimizu, and illustrated by Joe Bennett and Jack Jadson. The Flash: Season Zero, meanwhile, takes place between the events of the pilot and the second episode, and is written by Andrew Kreisberg, Brooke Eikmeier and Katherine Walczak, with art by Phil Hester and Eric Gapstur.
The massive Comic-Con International bags are back, and Warner Bros. has provided Robot 6 with an exclusive first look at the Teen Titans Go! bag fans can get at this year’s show in San Diego. The bag features Robin, Starfire, Beast Boy, Cyborg and Raven in their chibi-style animated incarnations.
For the fifth year in a row, Warner Bros. Television and TV Guide for a special Comic-Con International edition of the magazine, this time one that’s heavy on DC Comics properties: The set of four flip covers include Batman’s 75th anniversary (drawn by Ivan Reis), Arrow star Stephen Amell, The Flash star Grant Gustin, Constantine star Matt Ryan, and Gotham.
Inside the 88-page issue, there’s even more DC-related content, with the exclusive comic “60 Seconds in the Life of Barry Allen,” written by by Geoff Johns, Andrew Kreisberg and Greg Berlanti, a look at Batman’s 75th anniversary, a preview of Grayson #1, previews of the new TV series The Flash, Gotham, Constantine and iZombie, a look at Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans Go! and upcoming DC Nation shorts, and a peek at the DC Universe Original Animated Movie Batman: Assault on Arkham.