Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
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 …”
Some people compare superheroes to mythical gods because of their supernatural powers (and for their all-too-human squabbles), and Marvel has made a mint on translating a Norse deity into a superhero with Thor. But beyond the borders of Asgard is a cornucopia of gods and demigods in the Marvel pantheon just waiting to be reawakened and put back into the fight. And I’m not talking about Marvel movies (although that’d be nice, too!). I’m talking about Marvel Comics’ staff bringing these heroes (and villains) of lore back into the mix.
Thor: The Dark World actress Jaimie Alexander donned her Sif garments again recently on a trip to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, spending an afternoon visiting with young patients. Marvel.com has posted a massive photo gallery of Alexander as Sif with many patients and staff, who were able to pose with the Asgardian warrior and in some cases, even hold her weapons. The actress also gave out signed Thor DVDs and posters.
Check out the highlights of Alexander’s trip to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles below.
Tony Swatton, the veteran armorer and master blacksmith who previously recreated the Dark Knight’s Batarangs and Captain America’s shield on his web series Man at Arms, is back to craft a replica of Thor’s hammer Mjolnir.
Apparently lacking uru, Swatton and his crew instead use materials like chromoly steel, bronze and other Midgard materials to forge the mighty weapon, which weighs 20 pounds hollow and will be 200 pounds when filled.
Looking back, the first Thor movie was a marvel, no pun intended. It was the first of the Marvel Studios films not to have Iron Man in it at all, plus it was the first major step toward what we would come to know as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Incredible Hulk was really its own little world, with a little Stark tacked on at the end to hint at the idea that was still forming. By the time Thor came out, the path toward a full fledged Avengers movie was on the horizon and Thor was our introduction to the next Earth’s Mightiest Hero.
Although the character is difficult to translate, Thor showed modern movie audiences a near-perfect tale of a god humbled, heroic triumph and the kick-ass design of a Jack Kirby-inspired Asgard. There was a flexibility of tone and style that showed us the fantastic was possible too in the Marvel world of science and technology; Thor even explains to Jane Foster and the audience very clearly that science and fantasy aren’t that far apart, sort of justifying the god’s association with more science-based characters. The movie had an amazing balance between so many different themes, it’s still my favorite Marvel movie yet.
Sequels to such great films can be incredibly difficult. On one hand, they can often flesh out the elements we liked from the original while trimming a bit of the fat (see Star Trek II vs. Star Trek: The Motion Picture). The second film can strike directly to the heart of the matter, rather than spend time telling audiences where they are and why they should care about the people on screen. On the other hand, reference can equal preference, and when the second movie is nothing like the first, it can fall flat if it’s not what we were expecting. Not everyone can return for the second movie, be they actors, directors or designers, so cracks can form if there’s not a consistency from one installment to the next. Others can complain if the next movie relies too heavily on the first, “continuity porn” showing up on angry Internet forums or from more casual movie-going folk. It’s a lot of concern to carry with you into a sequel.
The good news is that the god of thunder bears this weight heroically in Thor: the Dark Work. I can’t say he juggles it all effortlessly, I can’t say it doesn’t seem a little awkward and uneven at times, but all the troubles are carried in an impressive spectacle. Want to know more? Read on!
WARNING: No spoilers. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen any plot details that I might discuss, so click with confidence!
My favorite Thor-themed joke appeared in The Sandman, where the god of thunder delivers the off-color punchline “You’re Thor? I’m tho thore I can hardly pith!” But next on the list may be this groan-inducing yet adorable visual gag from Charmin — first, because deep down inside I’m 12 years old, and second … because it’s a toilet paper manufacturer.
Of course, I’m hesitant to mention to Charmin that Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung, through the character Kate Bishop, made the same play on “Asgardian” eight years ago in Young Avengers #6 (below) — although, in fairness, it was in a wildly different context.
In a particularly timely installment of “Stan’s Rants,” the legendary Stan Lee once again brings into question Superman’s flying ability — “The man has no visible means of propulsion!” — and points to Marvel’s Thor as a prime example of comic-book flight done right.
“When Thor wants to fly, we use a scientific principle. He has his hammer, he has a leather thong attached to his wrist,” Lee explains. “He swings the hammer around faster and faster ’til it’s going like a propeller, and then he lets go of it — well, the hammer goes flying off into space, but the thong is wrapped around Thor’s wrist, so he goes with it. So you have hammer propulsion.”
Take that, Angry Nerd.
Earlier this year, rock-star astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson calculated the weight of Thor’s hammer at 4.5 quadrillion pounds — roughly the same as 300 billion elephants — only for his comic-book knowledge to be called into question by another scientist, who pointed out that Mjolnir is forged out of fictional metal Uru and not neutron-star matter.
And now the hammer is in the scientific spotlight once again, but not for its weight or composition, but rather for its violation of the laws of physics.