Welcome to “Report Card,” our week-in-review feature. If “Cheat Sheet” is your guide to the week ahead, “Report Card” is typically a look back at the top news stories of the previous week, as well as a look at the Robot 6 team’s favorite comics that we read.
So find out what we thought about Thunderbolts, Wonder Woman, Herobear and the Kid, Vibe and more.
A great artist can make readers stand up at attention, while a fast artist can make editors’ lives a lot easier. Luckily for fans and publishers alike, Declan Shalvey is both.
Taking the artistic reins on Deadpool in August, Shalvey is in the middle of an epic upward-bound trajectory in comics, drawing books for Marvel and Dark Horse. His career began with a 28 Days Later comic for BOOM! Studios, but fans didn’t really take notice of his work until he began alternating arcs of Thunderbolts with Kev Walker.
Despite its frantic biweekly shipping schedule, Thunderbolts was an ideal showcase for Shalvey’s gritty, textured illustrations (with a bounce reminiscent of emotive newspaper cartoonists). After working on that title, and its successor Dark Avengers, for two years, the Irish artist was tapped to follow after Tony Moore on Venom. But stand back: Shalvey isn’t just a superhero artist. While tackling those comics for Marvel, he also illustrated graphic novel adaptations of Frankenstein and Sweeney Todd for European publishers, and arcs of Vertigo’s Northlanders and Dark Horse’s Conan the Barbarian.
WonderCon Anaheim 2013 kicked off yesterday at the Anaheim Convention Center, with badges for Friday selling out at some point during the day. Saturday and three-day badges already sold out, so it looks like just Sunday is left if you were hoping to attend but didn’t purchase your badge in advance.
There weren’t a lot of announcements coming out of the show yesterday, and in fact I’m not completely sure what could be considered “WonderCon news” and what was just, um, news, but here’s a round-up of stuff you may have missed from Friday:
• 2014 will bring a crossover between DC’s two Earths, according to Earth 2 writer James Robinson. “If I’m talking about a big event that’s happening in 2014, it’s all these characters meeting each other,” said Robinson, citing Crisis on Infinite Earths and the Justice Society during his spotlight panel in Anaheim. Robinson also said his goal was to make sure the writers involved in the event were invested in the story, and described himself as “the point guy” when it comes to the event, saying that Scott Snyder, Geoff Johns and Dan DiDio are also very involved. Earth 2 is also getting its own Batman, and the book will also feature the introductions of Starman (Ted Knight), Red Arrow (Earth 2′s version of Green Arrow), Hourman, Wildcat, Mister Miracle and Big Barda in the future.
Crime | Police say a Willston Park, New York, man shot his girlfriend in the back Monday following an argument about the AMC adaptation of The Walking Dead. Twenty-six-year-old Jared M. Gurman reportedly believed a military mishap could lead to the release of a virus, triggering a zombie apocalypse; Jessica Gelderman, 27, thought the idea was absurd. According to police, the argument escalated and even continued through text messages after Gelderman left the apartment to spend the night at her parents’ house. When Gelderman returned to try to smooth things over with her boyfriend, police allege he was sitting on the stairs with a .22-caliber rifle; a single round pierced her lung and diaphragm and shattered her ribs. Gurman was arrested when he took Gelderman to the hospital. She’s in stable condition with the bullet still in her body. [Newsday]
Dec. 12, marks a new era and a new team dynamics for writer Jeff Parker‘s Dark Avengers as Issue 184 goes on sale. But before the new storyline begins, I convinced Parker to reflect on his Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers run, which started in November 2009 (Thunderbolts #138) as well as discussing what lies ahead with the series. It was interesting to learn his thought process when collaborating with past series artists like Kev Walker and Declan Shalvey, as well as what current artist Neil Edwards motivates Parker to tackle. This interview was a fun romp for me, full of surprises — none more than the first: that Parker nearly passed on writing the series.
Once you finish the interview, please chime in if you agree that Parker should get a chance to write a Man-Thing series for Marvel. And if you missed CBR’s Dave Richards’ interview with Parker regarding Red She-Hulk, be sure to read it to learn about more great Parker storytelling.
Tim O’Shea: You started writing Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers in November 2009. Could you have envisioned it would be a book you would still be writing a solid three years later?
Jeff Parker: No, I almost passed on it. When Bill Rosemann asked me if I’d be interested in coming on after Andy Diggle. I’d never read much of the title, and he described that they wanted to base it around The Raft superprison. And I was wary. “It’s all set in prison? They never go anywhere?” But Bill and Tom Brevoort assured me that they’d be able to go on missions, it just needed to have prison as a big backdrop; that’s what had been discussed at one of the Marvel summits. Bill had asked me because I’d just worked on The Hood sequel miniseries with him and Kyle Hotz and he thought I’d be good for continuing with a villain book.
Manga | Eight manga creators, including Rumiko Takahashi (InuYasha, Maison Ikkoku), will create new comics featuring the characters they are known for and donate the royalties to the effort to rebuild the Tohoku region of Japan, which was devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The fund-raiser is being spearheaded by Gallery Fake creator Fujihiko Hosono. [The Japan Times]
Awards | While we were all busy at New York Comic Con, the Frankfurt Book Fair was going on in Germany, and Torsten Adair rounds up the comics awards that were given at the fair to German and international creators. [The Beat]
Conventions | Christopher Spata talks to some of the attendees at this past weekend’s Tampa Bay Comic Con, including the parents of a 1-year-old who was in costume—and already has a room full of superhero items. [Tampa Bay Online]
Marvel is shaking up its sandbox like seldom before with the launch of Marvel NOW!, making co-stars out of characters that previously had only brief interactions with each other. This strategy of mixing and matching for team books could inject new life into character dynamics, or it could water down what makes characters unique.
At the end of 2004, Marvel and writer Brian Michael Bendis got flak for putting perpetual loner Spider-Man and X-Men-exclusive Wolverine on the same team as Avengers standbys Iron Man and Captain America for the launch of New Avengers. While there are still some fans who complain about this eight years later, sales told Marvel all the publisher needed to know. Soon Luke Cage was an Avenger. Daredevil, too (in a way). Wolverine became a member of everything. Namor became an X-Man. (The Namor I used to read would respond to such a notion with, “the Sub-Mariner will star in thine own perpetually canceled solo series or none at all! Imperius Rex!”)
Now the unexpected mashing together of characters is reaching a new level after the ultimate sandbox throwdown of Avengers vs. X-Men. Who would ever have guessed that Thor and Havok would be teammates (Uncanny Avengers)? New Mutants Cannonball and Sunspot on Hickman’s Avengers is madness! Putting the Punisher on a superhero team (Thunderbolts) is so blasphemous to writer Greg Rucka, he’s done with the character (OK, among some other factors). And Avengers Arena is a veritable grab bag: throw in some Runaways, some Avengers Academy, some Annihilation, and shake vigorously.
A Punisher team-up still seems like a really bad idea. No matter who’s book he guest stars in, the Punisher is just not the guy you want to stand next to for any real length of time. Not only is he a loner by nature, but your average superhero is immediately at odds with something as simple and dangerous as a man with a gun. His motivations just don’t jibe with the code one has to follow to be a hero, let alone a sane human being. To paraphrase Ray Stevenson, who played Frank Castle in Punisher: War Zone, no one should want to be the Punisher, but everyone should be glad he’s out there.
That movie title is catchy because it’s very apropos; Frank Castle truly is a one-man war zone. Please note the one-man part. In recent years, there has been some absolutely brilliant comics work showing you just how strange and solitary the Punisher is. Greg Rucka has brought us the pure poetry of life at Punisher’s right hand. Jason Aaron on PunisherMAX drove us right on through how cruel a world can get to create the Punisher. And, of course, Garth Ennis showed us Frank Castle as a force of nature, something that happened to the worst of the criminal element. Not a bogeyman or a fable but cold, dark fact.
So I can’t say the idea of the Punisher as we’ve come to know and love him in recent years would be signing up for a matching uniform to run around with Ross’ Thunderbolts. He’s not a team player. He certainly doesn’t seem like a man who could even tolerate Deadpool for more than it would take to put air in his lungs. How could a one-man war zone work well with others? Well, let me take a moment of your time, Dear Reader, to theorize with you. I think there’s enough duty and dignity to Frank Castle to will allow him to co-exist with comrades-in-arms.
WARNING: One of my examples comes from the absolutely gorgeous Punisher #16 that was released this week, so grab your copy and read along!
When you stop and think who are Marvel’s top creators working today, your mind is invariably drawn to Brian Michael Bendis, as he’s become the chief writer for the company’s top titles over the past decade. But there’s someone else who’s played a big role, working side-by-side with Bendis and others to help create what Marvel is in the 21st century: artist Mike Deodato Jr.
The Brazilian-born artist came into modern memory as one of the primary artists on J. Michael Straczynski’s Amazing Spider-Man run, then jumped to revitalize Thunderbolts before teaming with Bendis on New Avengers. Over the years Deodato has worked with Bendis on some of the biggest books Marvel’s had to offer, be it New Avengers or Dark Avengers. And while writers seem to get the lion’s share of attention in the press, the story of Deodato’s career is something most people don’t know about.
Deodato first onto the comics scene in the mid-’90s with an Image-inspired style on DC’s Wonder Woman, and quickly became one of the workhorse artists of the era. But after being stretched to his limits both personally and professionally, Deodato withdrew from comics for a time to refocus himself and find a style better suited to how he saw comics. Drawing on inspirations from icons like Neal Adams and his own father, an accomplished cartoonist in Brazil, Deodato re-emerged in 2001 at Marvel and steadily rose up the ranks to become one of the company’s most trusted artists with a style far removed from everyone else working today.
I talked with Deodato from his home in Brazil about his career, his personal life, and his real real name.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
It’s not even a fifth week, but I find myself curiously distanced from this week’s releases for some reason. Outside of some books I’ve been reading for awhile, there’s little to really catch my eye, so if I had $15, I’d likely find myself buying Dark Horse Presents #10 (Dark Horse, $7.99) and Memorial #4 (IDW, $3.99), and being quite happy with those two books.
If I had $30, I might go back to Justice League with #7 (DC, $3.99); I wasn’t entirely convinced by the opening arc, but I found myself enjoying the Pandora back-up in #6 enough that I found myself more curious about sticking around than I would’ve expected. I’d also grab Legion of Super-Heroes #7 (DC, $2.99), another book I’ve found myself liking more than I initially thought, as well as Thunderbolts #171 (Marvel, $2.99) for one of the few, final times before it becomes a part of the Avengers family.
Splurging, oddly, is a much easier choice for me than what I’d get in single issues: Avengers: West Coast Avengers – Lost In Space-Time (Marvel, $34.99) collects some of the first issues of West Coast Avengers that I read way back when, launching a love affair with Steve Englehart’s writing that continues to this day. Those original issues are long since lost to history (Somewhat fittingly, considering the time travel subject matter), so this will be a welcome nostalgia trip for me.
• Marvel announced that Wolverine & the X-Men: Alpha & Omega, The Massive and Conan the Barbarian writer Brian Wood will take over writing both X-Men and Ultimate X-Men. About the latter, he told CBR, “I can bring something to the table here, a certain POV that I think will work really well. At its core it’s still the same mutant/human conflict, but the stakes are incredibly high and with the Ultimate line having more leeway than 616, you can really push it to the edge, and over the edge. With my stories, I’m looking forward to having them push back against this repression in a major way — not just in one-on-one cases but as a collective whole, a unified mutant push for freedom, for safety, for basic human rights. For the right to be a mutant and live free. What’s happening to them now is essentially a genocide, an ethnic cleansing.”
• Marvel also announced a new Dark Avengers series by Jeff Parker, Kev Walker and Declan Shalvey that replaces Thunderbolts. The book will feature Dark Scarlet Witch, Dark Spider-Man, Trickshot, Ragnarok and Skaar, along with Luke Cage.
Welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where we share what comics, books and other good stuff we’ve been checking out lately. This week our special guest is Thomas Hall, writer of the science fiction/fantasy comic Robot 13.
To see what Thomas and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
It was right about the time that Merlin stepped up to speak in the most recent issue of Thunderbolts that I had to check the cover and make sure I had picked up the right book. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Thunderbolts and have really seen them bloom into something rather special in the Marvel Universe, but there was this strange feeling in the back of my mind this issue. Something about how all the Thunderbolts had new Ren Faire costumes to fit into the Camelot scheme that were similar to their usual togs. Something about the casual guest star factor with the court of King Arthur (especially the Black Knight, I miss that guy!). Something about how all the characters worked together or didn’t, depending on the situation and the greater needs at hand.
But really, while listening to Merlin I suddenly realized that I had seen a story like this before. Not the exact same story, but going to Camelot, overcoming adversity, the comparisons between the heroes and the knights of old, even the stylish dress up factor made me want to go find old issues of “The Morgan Conquest,” the post-Heroes Reborn issues of the Avengers from Kurt Busiek and George Perez. It’s not too surprising that the T-Bolts would remind me of a by-gone era of Avengers lore. In fact, taking a closer look, there’s a lot to be said for this rag-tag team of super villains being taught redemption and their exploits in battling evil.
Could it possibly be that the oldest trick in the Thunderbolts book was becoming a reality?
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where every week we recap what comics have been on our nightstands recently. To see what the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Andy Burns, editor-in-chief of the pop culture site Biff Bam Pop!, which is doing a holiday gift guide with giveaways through Dec. 24. You can follow them on Twitter for more information.
To see what Andy and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …