"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
If you’re observant and know your vintage comics characters, you may already be familiar with this guy: Cosmo the Merry Martian, who had his own Archie Comics title for six issues in the 1950s, back when the Space Race was a thing, and has appeared sporadically in the publisher’s digests ever since.
A couple of years ago, Cosmo began popping up for little cameos in Archie comics, and now he’s making a guest appearance in Archie #655 after his flying saucer crash-lands in Riverdale. The story is scripted by Archie veteran Tom DeFalco — he started his career as an editorial assistant at Archie — and drawn by Fernando Ruiz, who tells 13th Dimension he’s a longtime Cosmo fan:
Cosmo’s been a favorite of mine since his stories turned up in the Archie digests I read as a kid. Ever since I first started drawing for Archie, I hoped for the opportunity to draw him. Impatiently, I would sneak Cosmo into a lot of the Archie stories I drew in the form of a Cosmo cup, a Cosmo popsicle, or even a stuffed Cosmo doll. Now I get to draw him in a story where he really appears! It’s a dream come true!
Archie even had a “Where’s Cosmo” contest in March, inviting readers to look for the blobby extraterrestrial in Ruiz’s recent pages. If you want to get a look at the original Cosmo, check out these pages on Pappy’s Golden Age Comics Blogzine. Archie #655 will be out in April.
I read all 13 of the Villains Month issues released this week by DC Comics, and in so doing I saw 89 people killed (Kryptonians and Thanagarians included) in all manner of ways. I saw people shot to death with laser guns, with regular old bullet guns, with eye-beams, with an arrow and even with an umbrella. I saw people stabbed, bludgeoned, impaled, decapitated, blown up, pushed off buildings, flash-frozen and shattered. I saw someone’s neck snapped, someone’s life-force magically drained, people sliced in half with psionic energy, and others torn to pieces by claws.
I saw a bestial woman eat the still-beating hearts of her victims.
But man, the rabbit that Arcane tore in half? That’s the image that sticks with me from this week’s Villains Week offerings. Thank God they didn’t put that on the cover; imagine that arc of rabbit innards being flung your way in lenticular 3D!
Happy Presidents Day weekend, America, and happy Sunday to everyone else. Welcome to a very presidential What Are You Reading?, which really isn’t that different than a regular one, but you can imagine every entry being written by Daniel Day-Lewis if you’d like.
Today our special guest is Chris Smits, publisher of Aw Yeah Comics Publishing! and blogger at Creator-Owned Comics. Aw Yeah Comics, of course, is the all-ages comics series being created by Art Baltazar and Franco, with help from folks like Mark Waid, Brad Meltzer, Jason Aaron and many others … including Chris. If you’d like to get your hands on the adventures of Awesome Bear, Daring Dog, Polar Cycle, Marquaid, Action Cat and more, then let me point you to their Kickstarter campaign, which has hit its goal but you can still get in on the fun (and the comics!)
And to see what Chris and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
If you’ve been wondering how Rob Liefeld has been occupying his time since walking off three DC Comics series, scorching the earth around him as he left, the answer, at least in part, is Bloodstrike #34. However, he also found three days to transform a portion of his memoir into a 100-page screenplay about the formation of Image Comics. Of course.
The outspoken creator provided DreamMovieCast with excerpts from the project, tentatively titled Icons, which unlike Manti Te’o’s dead girlfriend, is not a hoax. Or, rather iCons, as Liefeld clarified on Twitter. “Small ‘i’ dubble meaning,” he wrote.
No small amount of drama accompanies the March solicitations, thanks to Gail Simone’s unexpected dismissal from Batgirl. There’s also turnover at Swamp Thing and Birds of Prey, potential clues to the end of “Death of the Family,” and the usual I-remember-this! commentary on collections.
FOLLOW THE BOUNCING BALL
The big stories are the departures of Simone from Batgirl and Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette from Swamp Thing. It seems particularly odd in Simone’s case because it leaves the fate of Batgirl’s current antagonist in the hands of a different writer. Maybe that means Simone’s original plans for him didn’t go over particularly well with DC, or maybe it’s something totally unrelated. Either way, looks like it’ll be at least another month (in January’s Issue 16, her last issue) before we learn anything significant. At any rate, Ray Fawkes writes two issues of Batgirl starting with Issue 18.
As of March, Jim Zubkavich is your new Birds of Prey writer, Andy Kubert draws the lead story in Batman #18, and Trevor McCarthy draws Batwoman #18. Also, in a move that threatens to have me try out Phantom Stranger, the very fine J.M. DeMatteis comes aboard as co-writer with Issue # (guest-drawn by the equally fine Gene Ha and Zander Cannon).
Legal | The New York Times ventures deep into the legal battle between Archie Comics Co-CEOs Nancy Silberkleit and Jonathan Goldwater, noting the two sides have gone into court-approved mediation. “Competing lawsuits filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan and State Supreme Court in Westchester County lay out a litany of bitter allegations. He punctured her car tires, destroyed her Web site and claimed that she sexually harassed employees. She ordered him to fire several longtime employees because they were too old, too fat or too buxom, and let her dog, Willow, roam the offices and defecate in the art department.” [The New York Times]
Conventions | Although no figures have been released for last weekend’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, organizer Lance Fensterman said attendance was “way up,” noting that, “the size of the show floor doubled and the aisles were much more full than last year. That tells you how much attendance jumped to keep pace with the floor growth.” [Publishers Weekly]
Since the March solicitations kick off the back half of the New 52’s first year, it’s probably worth noting that the whole line remains unchanged: no “midseason replacements” like Justice Society, but no cancellations either. If I hear relieved sighs from OMAC and Men of War, certainly Dan DiDio and Jim Lee have to be pleased generally that they’ve gotten this far with the 52 intact.
Well, pleased or stubborn, I suppose. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
Ahem. Away we go…!
One of my pet peeves about the New-52 is the sense that it lacks a meaningful “history.” For at least the last few decades, a reader might not have known exactly what had happened or when, but s/he could tell that these characters hadn’t just fallen off the turnip truck. I say this because the solicits for Justice League #7 and Flash #7 both allude to their books’ untold backstories. With Justice League, we’ll learn about membership turnover and other details of the five years between the League’s debut and today. (To be sure, some of that has already been alluded to in the League’s previous present-day appearances, like JL Dark #1.)
Comics | While going through a box in his attic, a Grange Park, Illinois, man discovered a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, the first appearance of Spider-Man, that he had bought as a kid. While other copies of the comic have fetched as much as $1.2 million, Chimera’s Comics is selling it for $12,000 due to its condition. [LaGrange Patch]
Comics | Brian Truitt profiles Marvel’s Fantastic Four, talking to Mark Waid, Tom Brevoort and Tom DeFalco about the long-running comic. [USA Today]
Publishing | Janna Morishima, formerly of Scholastic and Diamond Comic Distributors, has joined Papercutz as its first marketing director. [Papercutz]
My friendship and association with Alex Segura dates back to late 2004 when he invited me to join Robot 6‘s ancestor blog (or however you want to call its relation) The Great Curve. I wear my bias on my sleeve for this interview–I’ve always been a supporter of Segura’s work–be it years at DC Comics, or more recently, his current role as Executive Director of Publicity and Marketing at Archie Comics. In addition to discussing what he’s accomplished to date at Archie (and hopes to achieve in the near to long term), we delve into his own writing and musical pursuits (in the band, The Faulkner Detectives).
Tim O’Shea: Before your first stint with Archie a few years back, you worked at Wizard. So I gotta ask, what’s your reaction to the end of the print magazine?
Alex Segura: On a gut level, it’s sad. Wizard was a big part of my getting into comics – or at least, sticking with them – in middle school and into college. There were times when I wasn’t actively buying any regular comic books but would still pick up Wizard to keep tabs on the industry. Working there was also huge. It was my first full-time job in the industry and gave me a crash course in comics and how they work. I also met some of my best friends there – many of whom I still talk to on a regular basis. Hell, I live with Ryan Penagos, who I first met at Wizard. So, yeah. I have a lot of fond memories of both my time at the company and my relationship with the magazine leading up to that.
Professionally, I’m not all that surprised. There was a time when Wizard was a major tastemaker – they had a big part in the rise of Image and for a long while broke major news from the Big Two. But with the rise of comic news on the web, it just seemed like they got left behind. Hopefully this new incarnation can revive the company. We’ll see.
Congratulations on taking a break from this Black Friday (just a ploy by the distinguished competition to gather more interest in Green Friday I’m sure) to sit a spell and enjoy the musings of Yours Truly. Sure, the holiday season is officially here and there are tons of things to prepare for and ready yourself against, but don’t forget to take time for the little things. The small, quiet moments that might slip under your notice amongst the hustle and bustle of the season.
Let’s talk about Thunderstrike.
When I saw the solicit for this book all those three months ago (we were so young!), I was probably far more excited for a new Thunderstrike book than I should have been. If you are still not excited for this book, just click here and let the dulcet tones of AC/DC rock you into a mood where guys with ponytails and leather vests crack the skulls of evil with a Norse-enchanted mace.
A Thunderstrike revival is cool (even cooler with this song playing!) and fits with the great Thor blitz Marvel is rolling on to the stands in time for the movie. They’re going to want to promote the character and they are going to do so in as many markets as they can think of. One-shots, spin off titles, all ages books that are wondrous and funny and delight a lot of the online community only to be canceled in their prime, all sorts of different books to catch the eye of John and Jane Comic Reader. But Thor can only be in so many books; too many and people start to resent the character’s hype machine. Too little and Marvel’s not doing their job. Thunderstrike helps take the load of Thor’s shoulders by presenting an all ages title that hits the ’90s nostalgia button for long time fans and younger audiences with a fresh start on a newer character.
Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz are the two guys best suited to this relaunch. For one, they created the guy which is all the real credentials you need. They also support a book or a theme to the bitter end and can develop somewhat of an incredible fan following. Please see the first Spider-Girl title, the the whole MC2 universe and their relentless will to live. Thunderstrike was even in the MC2 universe and stylistically, not much has changed in art and storytelling.
A solid creative team, a history in the Marvel universe and a devoted fan following on past books. What on Earth is going to keep Thunderstrike from being canceled?
(WARNING: Thunderstrike #1 spoilers ahead so grab a copy and follow along! Keep the AC/DC pumpin’, too.)
Marvel.com has posted a teaser on their site for something kicking off in November. The headline reads “The World Still Needs Heroes,” with the tag “One shall rise in November.” Based on the artwork and the fact that word leaked out already that Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz are working on a Thunderstrike comic, it’s probably a safe bet that’s what it is for.
I wonder if the silhouette in the image means that Kevin, son of the original Thunderstrike, is picking up his dad’s mantle (like he did in the MC2/Spider-Girl comics).
A press release for the New York Comic Con reveals that the original Thor clone, Thunderstrike, is returning in a new miniseries by co-creators Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz.
“I didn’t think that bio would be public until the actual convention in October. Anyway, Ron, Sal, Tom and I have been working on a new Thunderstrike limited series for a few months in what we laughingly refer to as our ‘spare time,'” DeFalco wrote on the One, True Spider-Girl message board. “All I can tell you is that it will be set in the regular Marvel Universe and it’s loaded with twists, turns, action and angst–in other words–our typical fun & games thrill-o-rama!”
I’ve never read a Thunderstrike comic, so my knowledge of the character is limited, but according to Wikipedia it sounds like the last time the character appeared, he died. So I guess he must get better.
Hat tip to Bleeding Cool for the second link
“I think there are a number of factors. For one, tastes change. I like to do stories that are paced a lot faster than the current style. I hate to see comics that have people standing around talking like they’re in a radio drama — a drama that is told entirely through dialogue. I actually enjoy a good radio drama, but radio is radio and comics are comics. I prefer to keep the action flowing with visual bits or sequential story-telling. I also go for broader action and emotional scenes. […] Another factor is that I doubt many editors are currently reading my stuff. They remember me from when they were growing up and just assume they won’t like my writing now that they’re older. They think of Spider-Girl as a comic for ‘young kids’ and don’t think I’m capable of producing work for their ‘more mature’ titles. I can understand why they feel that way.”
The Archie folks are bringing back one of their vintage titles, The Man from R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E., as a four-issue miniseries scripted by Tom DeFalco. Harking back to the time when all super-villains and spy organizations identified themselves with preposterous acronyms, the story casts Archie and the Chok’lit Shop gang as super-spies trying to defend the dangerous Formula Z from the evil minions of C.R.U.S.H.
I like DeFalco’s description of his concept:
“In bringing back The Man from R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E., my question was: if spies actually existed in the Archie world, how could they be seamlessly integrated into Archie’s continuity while still being true to his universe?” remarks Archie Comics alum and writer, Tom DeFalco. “That is my creative challenge – to create a realistic and dangerous situation for the characters to act in, kind of like mashing up 24 and The Bourne Identity with Chuck and Get Smart.”
If anyone can pull this off, it’s DeFalco, who started his comics career as an editorial assistant at Archie Comics and wrote for them for quite a while before going off to do Marvel, where he wrote The Amazing Spider-Man and various other titles.
Jim McCann‘s name is going to be popping up in Marvel Comics more regularly starting toward the end of this month. First up is the May 26 release of the writer’s Dazzler one-shot, followed by the June 3 launch of his Hawkeye & Mockingbird ongoing monthly series. I recently got to discuss both projects in an email interview. It’s never dull for me to chat about Marvel characters with a writer who clearly both enjoys and does his research. My thanks for McCann’s time.
Tim O’Shea: For folks that are afraid the Dazzler one-shot is a nostalgia romp, far from it–in fact the story comes out of the recent Necrosha event. Can you talk a little bit about it?
Jim McCann: Dazz has a bit more heat & attention on her post-Necroshia, both with the fans…and with her enemies! Specifically Mortis, a.k.a. Lois London, her long-absent half-sister, who has massive anger issues and a very strong desire to kill Dazzler!
I wanted to give Dazzler a strong nemesis and family, two things all great characters need, and found both in Lois. They avoided the fight in Necrosha, but, as the cover & solicit says, THIS is the fight, the Necrosha Aftermath for these two!