Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
Artist Clementine Campardou challenged herself to paint a new picture each day that she’d share through an e-newsletter “Colour Up Your Day.” Over the course of two years, she’s produced more than 500 paintings, mostly beautiful watercolors, featuring an eclectic mix of subjects, ranging from birds and flowers to movie characters and superheroes. A lot of superheroes.
Superman, Wonder Woman, Silver Surfer, Wolverine, Supergirl, Gambit — they’re all there, in some cases multiple times, alongside the likes of Goku, Totoro, R2-D2, Astro Boy and Ken from Gatchaman. Oh, and Prince.
Sure, he’s the King of the Seven Seas, a founding member of the Justice League and, if all goes as planned, the star of his own 2018 movie. However, for the second time in three years, Aquaman is also the “Most Toxic Superhero.”
That’s according to Intel Security, which today released its third annual list of online superhero searches that are most likely to lead you to bad links, viruses, malware and websites containing malicious software used to steal passwords and personal information. The information is compiled using McAfee Site Advisor, which rates sites by risk level.
Who needs LEGO’s Comic-Con International-exclusive Superman playset when you can create your own brick homages to classic comic book covers? Well, as long as you have the creativity, and the right LEGO pieces.
Luckily imgur user Corsairsteel has both, as demonstrated in this gallery of LEGO dioramas recreating covers ranging from Action Comics #1 and Detective Comics #27 to The Incredible Hulk #125 and Batman: The Killing Joke. Most of them even include the trade dress, word balloons and blurbs.
If you’re so filled with holiday cheer that you’ve come to annoy your friends, family members and co-workers, we’ve discovered the perfect antidote: “Lonely Hulk,” a supercut of the “saddest and loneliest moments” from the Incredible Hulk television series, compiled by NBC Classics.
The video only scratches the surface, because if my childhood memories hold true, that was one depressing show, capped off each week by Joe Harnell’s mournful ending theme “The Lonely Man.”
The pieces, some of which can be found in the “Comic Bricks!” gallery, range from classics like Detective Comics #27 and Adventure Comics #445 to modern issues like The Amazing Spider-Man #700 and Invincible #63. Ewoks, from Marvel’s old Star Comics imprint, even makes an appearance.
The problem is that heroes win. Episodic storytelling can only get away with formula for a short amount of time before something has to change, and if there’s one constant to mainstream comics, it’s that the heroes should win. Maybe not all the time, but eventually.
When heroes lose, it bums us out. I’m not saying comics called “Magneto” or “Sabretooth” don’t sell well, it’s just they’re not going to sell as well as one labeled “Wolverine.” As readers, we come to see our heroes face a peril they will eventually overcome. Marvel’s Civil War and Dark Reign were great examples of the heroes ostensibly losing the battle, but in time (and a couple of other events later) they would win the war.
With every success our heroes experience, a greater challenge should be on the horizon. No one wants to see Spider-Man fight street-level criminals forever; let’s take him into space! Or put him with the Avengers! And so the stakes rise higher and higher with every foe defeated. Instead of having heroes face bigger and bigger catastrophes — Earth can only be in peril in so times each week — there has to be a different kind of challenge to keep our heroes on their toes and readers on the edge of their seats. So, we change the hero; maybe it’s some new powers, maybe it’s a new supporting cast, maybe we go facelift, costume change or new personality.
Take The Superior Spider-Man: Pretty much all of the above were thrown at Spider-Man to give the character a new look, new cast and new outlook. Stories began focusing less on if Spider-Man was going to win and more on how he was going to do it with Doctor Octopus in control. And because books with Doctor Octopus’ name on the cover won’t likely sell as well as those with Spider-Man’s, there’s little risk in making the switch for a while to see if it shakes things up. The old status quo eventually returns, and everyone feels like they got a little vacation.
Probably the best example of the personal shake-up is the Hulk. He’s somewhat of a cottage industry of protagonists in himself. He has tons of supporting characters, and some of the most important ones to the Hulk mythology are those in his own head.
WARNING: Some talk of Hulk #6, so please grab a copy and read along!
Long believed lost, the original page from 1974’s The Incredible Hulk #180 featuring the first appearance of Wolverine will be auctioned in May to benefit The Hero Initiative.
The Associated Press reports that Heritage Auctions was contacted by the owner, who said he has had the page since 1983, when it was given to him by artist Herb Trimpe. The auction house describes it as “one of the most significant pieces of original comic art to ever appear on the market.”
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals handed Marvel a significant victory this morning, upholding a 2011 ruling that Jack Kirby’s contributions to the publisher in the 1960s were work for hire, and therefore not subject to copyright reclamation by the artist’s heirs.
However, as Tom Spurgeon first reported, the appellate court vacated the New York district judge’s summary ruling against two of Kirby’s children, California residents Lisa and Neal, on jurisdictional grounds; the judgment against Susan and Barbara stands.
Secondarily, the Second Circuit upheld the lower court’s exclusion of expert testimony offered by John Morrow and Mark Evanier on behalf of the Kirby heirs, agreeing that “their reports are by and large undergirded by hearsay statements, made by freelance artists in both formal and informal settings, concerning Marvel’s general practices towards its artists during the relevant time period.”
As Man of Steel, with its spiritual themes, soars toward a $590 million worldwide box-office haul, the Vatican’s official newspaper has turned its attention to the faiths of other prominent superheroes, asking in the headline, “Is the Hulk Catholic?”
The answer, according to L’Osservatore Romano writer Gaetano Vallini, is yes, and he points to the wedding of Bruce Banner and Betty Ross as the most concrete evidence of this. “Bruce Banner, the incredible green man, in fact married his beloved Betty Ross in a church and a Catholic priest presided at the ceremony,” he writes in the full-page article. “There are other indications dispersed among the hundreds of comic strips dedicated to him that are said to unequivocally reveal his faith.”
Of course, Adherents.com, the go-to source for the religious affiliations of comic-book characters (and other figures, both real and fictional), lists the Hulk as a lapsed Catholic, but the website appears preoccupied with the Ultimate and live-action TV versions of the character. A final determination may require Pope Francis to intercede.
The superheroes-themed episode of PBS’s Pioneers of Television we mentioned Monday is now available online, so you can see for yourself as this week’s installment spans the decades, from Adventures of Superman in the 1950s to The Greatest American Hero in the 1980s.
As you’d expect, the episode contains interviews with the likes of Lynda Carter, Adam West, Julie Newmar, Burt Ward, Lou Ferrigno and Jack Larson. Watch the episode in full below:
PBS’s Pioneers of Television series celebrates “the visionaries who shaped a fledgling medium,” and Tuesday night’s episode is all about superheroes. Covering every decade from the ’50s to the ’80s, it digs into The Adventures of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk and The Greatest American Hero. Interviews include Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Lynda Carter, Lou Ferrigno and William Katt. Hopefully they make Julie Newmar and William Katt team up.
To promote the episode, PBS has put a ton of content from it on its website. There’s a preview of the episode, mini-essays about some of the shows, excerpts from some of the interviews, profiles of the actors and a terrific photo gallery. It’s a great way to kill some time while waiting for the real thing to air.
I used to think Marvel was, consciously or unconsciously, driving its readers to quit serial comics and start reading trades. As evidence, there’s the standard list of complaints: inflated pricing, ads that don’t seem to generate any revenue, trade-ready scripting, variant covers, irregular but accelerated publishing schedules, etc.
The Marvel NOW! initiative has me starting to rethink that, however. See, I’ve been trade-waiting a lot of the Marvel comics I read, including the Jason Aaron-written Incredible Hulk. The first trade paperback collection of his run, which began in 2011, was released in late December. I just read it this week. And, of course, Marvel relaunched the Hulk with a new writer, new direction, new title and new numbering with Indestructible Hulk #1.
That’s one of several Marvel NOW! relaunches that happened almost on the heels of the previous relaunches — Wolverine went 17 issues in its new renumbering, the just-relauched Captain America was only on Issue 19, the similarly relaunched Thor on Issue 22 — and it was the first time I can remember reading a new trade that’s contents were made completely obsolete (from a keeping-up-with-the-goings-on-of-a-superhero-universe perspective only, of course) before it was even published.
I imagine a lot of the new NOW! premises won’t be around more than a year or two — Captain America can’t stay stranded in a different dimension forever, the Fantastic Four have to come back from space eventually, the original X-Men can’t be time-lost indefinitely — so I suppose this sort of thing could be happening on a more frequent basis. So if you trade-wait, maybe you’re waiting too long!
So, what did I wait for?
We’ve featured the Brazilian artist Butcher Billy a couple of times in Art Barrage; he’s an illustrator whose work demonstrates a keen eye for modern culture and a wicked sense of humor. His latest portfolio of work, posted at the creative network Behance, is “The Superhero Media Crossover Project,” a collection of images inserting comic art into stills taken from their movie adaptations. It’s very effective, and strangely moving, for this fan of classic comic art, anyway. These images demonstrate what, to me, is missing in just about every comics-to-film adaptation — a little pop-art brightness and fizz (Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World being the only one in recent times to get a pass on this matter — am I really the only one who wants to see sound effects rather than just hearing them?). In Billy’s own words:
Why fight the crowds today when you can take advantage of Black Friday savings on print and digital comics from the comfort of your own home? Here’s a roundup of online sales kicking off this morning, with discounts on everything from The Walking Dead and The Incredible Hulk to Star Wars and Adventure Time. If you know of any other, please let us know in the comments.
• Dark Horse’s web store is promoting a “Star Wars Black Friday MegaBundle,” with digital editions of 153 Star Wars comics — they include such titles as The Clone Wars, The Old Republic, Crimson Empire, Dawn of the Jedi and Agent of the Empire, 3,772 pages in all — for $100. The sale ends Sunday.
Veteran artist Ernie Chan, perhaps best remembered for his work in the 1970s on Batman and Conan the Barbarian, passed away Wednesday at age 71. According to cartoonist Gerry Alanguilan, Chan recently had been diagnosed with cancer. His death follows that of fellow Filipino artist Tony DeZuniga last week.
“It’s sad to lose one, but it’s truly crushing to lose so many in such a short amount of time,” Alanguilan wrote on his website. “But Mang Ernie lived a full life. He had accomplished a lot. There was a point in time that he was one of the hottest artists working comics. DC wouldn’t give you the honor of drawing so many cover on their mainstream titles if you weren’t so well regarded. He deserves to be remembered and recognized as someone who contributed positively to the image of Filipinos and their talents worldwide.”
Born July 27, 1940, as Ernesto Chua in the Philippines, he legally changed his last name to Chan after becoming a U.S. citizen in 1976. Chan broke into American comics in the early 1970s drawing short stories for DC Comics’ Ghosts mystery/suspense series before beginning a nearly two-year stint on Batman in 1975 while also penciling Claw the Unconquered and Detective Comics. Under the name Chua, he also served as the publisher’s primary cover artist from about 1975 to 1976.
Moving to Marvel in the late ’70s, he illustrated such titles as Conan the Barbarian, Kull the Destroyer, Power Man and Iron Fist, and inked Sal Buscema’s pencils on The Incredible Hulk.
Chan shifted into animation and the 1990s before retiring in 2002. Funeral services will be held Monday in Oakland, California.