"X-Men: Apocalypse" - A Comic Book History of Marvel's Four Horsemen
Film, Comic Books
It’s a wonderful thing when two things you love seem to love each other as well.
When I read that former wrestling superstar and current Walking Dead enthusiast CM Punk is contributing a story for February 2015’s Thor annual, I enjoyed a small moment of having my cake and eating it too. Forgive my indulgence, but trust me, comics and wrestling sort of sit together on the school bus of storytellling; although they’re different mediums entirely, they share some common traits and interests that let one sort of lean into the other from time to time.
If you think about it, pro wrestling (or sports entertainment if you want to be more direct ) and comic books share a style of visual storytelling that starts in very broad strokes and becomes a masterpiece through the details and context of their respective works. Both deal in good and “bad”; whereas comics has its heroes and villains, wrestling has its faces and heels. Both heels and villains tend to do a lot of the heavy lifting, story-wise, as it’s their antagonism that creates the context and drives the plot. It’s why when Captain America and Iron Man fight, they’re never doing it for the competition; one of them will be in the wrong, enabling the reader to root for or against someone. When the Undertaker fights Hulk Hogan, no matter how cool the Undertaker is (and he’s so cool), Hulk Hogan is our hero, often our champion, so we hope he defeats the “bad guy.”
All 13 characters have been revealed for The Marvel Experience interactive tour, and at least a couple may surprise you.
As depicted in the above image, debuted by Yahoo, the usual suspects — Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Incredible Hulk — will be joined by Wolverine, Black Widow, Nick Fury, Maria Hill, The Vision, She-Hulk, Iron Fist and Black Panther.
“This is the only place you’ll see them together, and we’re proud of that,” Rick Licht, CEO of tour producer Hero Ventures, is quoted as saying. That’s in part because the film rights to Wolverine and Spider-Man are held by Fox and Sony, respectively.
The Weather Channel has been widely mocked since deciding in 2012 to name winter storms much in the way the National Hurricane Center names tropical storms, and this year is little different, with sites like Mashable and Philly.com lining up to take their shots. Whether the 2014-15 names are as terrible as Mashable contends is certainly debatable, we will say this: They may be the nerdiest to date.
While the 2012 list included Gandalf, Rocky, Yogi and Orko (the thunder god of Basque mythology, we’re told, not He-Man’s sidekick), this year’s list offers some pretty stiff competition from the likes of Astro, Linus, Quantum and Thor.
Manga | Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece, the bestselling manga in Japan, is getting a spinoff: Starting with the January issue, which ships in December, the manga magazine Saikyo Jump will carry a series focusing on Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates. There doesn’t seem to be any information yet on who the creators will be. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | In a business-oriented interview, Mark Waid talks about the strategy behind his digital comics site Thrillbent, especially its appeal to diverse groups of readers. The key is flexibility, Waid said, in terms of platforms and content. His goal is to make the comics readable on any digital device, which he says is not difficult once the site is set up. In terms of content, he says, “Pay attention to the audience, let them tell you who you’re clearly not serving, and go after them.” [The Wall Street Journal]
If thou art a fan of Thor, then verily thou must view today’s Shelf Porn. Jim from upstate New York (That’s on Midgard) sent us photos of his collection, which includes statues, original art and a whole lot of God of Thunder.
If you’d like to see your collection featured here, you can find submission details at the end of this post.
Now shall we hear from Jim? I say thee … yeah:
Spider-Man had his own limited-edition cereal in the mid-’90s, complete with marshmallows shaped like the Spider-symbol, Peter Parker’s camera, Hobgoblin’s pumpkin bomb and, strangely, Kingpin. So why shouldn’t some of Marvel’s other popular characters get in on some of that sweet, sweet breakfast action?
Designers Crystal Fontan (aka Bamboota) and Elliott Fernandez seem to have wondered the same thing, as they’ve created (alas) imaginary cereal brands like Bifrosted Loki Charms, Tony’s Iron Bran, Cap’N Ameri-Crunch and, yes, Groot Loops (with limited-edition cocoa marshmallows of Groot and Rocket Raccoon).
Despite what you might believe, the problem isn’t that female superheroes are oversexualized in comics and on film — no, according to Fox & Friends, it’s they’re not being sexualized enough.
In a particularly odd segment of Sunday’s show that frequently tipped into full-on parody, co-host Clayton Morris began by worrying that test footage from Genndy Tartakovsky’s animated Popeye movie signifies the “wussifying” of the classic character, as he doesn’t sport his iconic pipe and tattoos.
Piracy | The Japanese government is joining with 15 anime production companies and manga publishers to launch a major initiative that will target foreign pirate sites. The push will start Aug. 1 and will have two components: The government will send takedown requests to 580 pirate sites and also launch a website that directs people to legitimate sources of online manga. The Japanese Cultural Affairs Agency estimates that Chinese pirate sites cost the industry 560 billion yen (about $5.5 million) last year. [Crunchyroll]
Comics | Lidia Jean Kott talks with writer Jason Aaron about his female Thor and pays a visit to Fantom Comics in Washington, D.C., where a quarter of the customers are women and the bestselling title is Saga (the bestselling superhero comic is Ms. Marvel). [NPR]
A project of The Tampa Bay Times and the Poynter Institute, PunditFact is dedicated to verifying the accuracy of claims made by political pundits, columnists, analysts and television hosts — your Rush Limbaughs, your Rachel Maddows, your Ann Coulters. Perhaps there’s something in the air, with Comic-Con International upon us, but for whatever reason, the Truth-O-Meter has turned its attention to the announcement of the new Thor last week on The View — specifically, a statement made by co-host Whoopi Goldberg.
A week after Marvel announced a woman will take up the mantle of Thor after the current hero is deemed unworthy to wield Mjolnir, artist Russell Dauterman has posted his character models for both versions of the god of thunder.
“Did these as I was starting work on the book,” the incoming Thor artist wrote on his blog. “The costumes were designed before I came on board (by the great Esad Ribic, I believe), but here’s my take on them.”
As writer Jason Aaron told Comic Book Resources last week, the former Thor — Thor Odinson, prince of Asgard — will “still have a role to play” in the new series, which debuts in October.
We’re less than a week away from Comic-Con International, and that means announcements from major publishers are coming in early to jockey for position before the masses gather in sunny San Diego. Marvel struck hard with big changes debuting on major media outlets, leading to your grandma knowing what’s coming up in the pages of Thor.
It’s a weird world we live in these days.
On The View, Whoopi Goldberg announced there will be a woman taking over the mantle of Thor. Marvel’s Ryan Penagos (a far better source for Marvel news, no offense to Goldberg) clarified that this wouldn’t be a more traditional female counterpart, but the actual god of thunder title would pass to a female character. On The Colbert Report, actually a decent and known source for Captain America news, Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada informed Stephen Colbert that she shield will be passed to the Falcon, Cap’s longtime partner Sam Wilson. In fact, Colbert specifically said that the event was tied to the events of Captain America #21 and the rather complicated story line within, which I believe is the first time a recent back issue was ever advertised on a cable TV show.
Superior Iron Man was also announced, indicating a darker outlook and a lighter “Genius Bar”-looking set of armor for Tony Stark, which led everyone from the New York Daily News to MTV to carry stories about what it means.
Publishing | The latest BookScan numbers reveal June was a good month for manga in bookstores, with eight volumes of Attack on Titan making the top 20 — a new record. The first volume topped the list, which means new readers are still discovering Hajime Isayama’s dark fantasy. Overall, manga had a slight edge, with 11 titles, and all three volumes of Saga were on the list, but only one volume of The Walking Dead. And despite the Amazon-Hachette battle, the Yen Press title Sword Art Online: Aincrad made the chart. [ICv2]
Publishing | ICv2 and Comichron’s John Jackson Miller joined forces to calculate the size of the entire comics market, including the direct market, bookstore and digital channels, and both single issues and graphic novels. Inevitably some things get left out, such as subscription services, sales to libraries and the juggernaut that is the Scholastic Book Fair, but it’s a good snapshot. The bottom line: $850 million in 2013. [Comichron]
Aquaman may have been the most toxic superhero in 2013, but this year McAfee has decreed that Superman is kryptonite.
Hold your jokes about Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel or the New 52 costume redesign. We’re talking about the software-security company’s second annual study of which online superhero searches result in the most bad links (such as to viruses, malware and websites containing malicious software used to steal passwords and personal information).
In an interesting analysis, Eriq Gardner of The Hollywood Reporter sees signs the U.S. Supreme Court might consider the five-year dispute between Jack Kirby’s heirs and Marvel over the copyrights to many of the company’s most popular characters.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in August upheld a 2011 ruling that Kirby’s Marvel creation in the 1960s were work for hire, and therefore not subject to copyright reclamation by his children. (They had filed 45 copyright-termination notices in September 2009, seeking to reclaim what they saw as their father’s stake in such characters as the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and the Incredible Hulk; Marvel fired back with a lawsuit.) In their March petition to the Supreme Court, the Kirby heirs took aim at the Second Circuit’s “instance and expense” test, arguing that it “invariably finds that the pre-1978 work of an independent contractor is ‘work for hire’ under the 1909 Act.”
Gardner points out the the justices discussed the petition at a May conference, and then requested that Marvel respond (the company initially didn’t file a response). Those p0tential portents were followed by a pair of friend-of-the-court briefs: one filed by Bruce Lehman, former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, on behalf of himself, former U.S. Register of Copyrights Ralph Oman, the Artists Rights Society and others, and the other by attorney Steven Smyrski on behalf of longtime Kirby friend Mark Evanier, Kirby historian John Morrow and the PEN Center USA.
For nearly a year and a half, from June 2012 to November 2013, an unidentified Facebook user, with some help from friends, chronicled the worldwide adventures on a pint-sized Tony Stark on a page called Poses (with Iron Man), photographing the action figure in myriad scenarios, often accompanied by captions. Around the house, with pets, in the car, on trips to Chicago, New York City, Uganda and Australia and … it was seemingly endless.
But then, on Nov. 14, they suddenly stopped. However, this morning, a video appeared, showing a hand reaching in frame to place the Iron Man figure on the shelf, only to pick up Thor. A note reads, “Coming in February …”