Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
Passings | Italian comics artist Sergio Toppi has died at the age of 79. Most of his work seems to have been in Italian and French, but Archaia has plans to publish an English-language edition of his version of the Arabian Nights, Sharaz-De. [The Beat, Archaia]
Comics | Brian Truitt marks Spider-Man’s 50th anniversary by talking to creators from Stan Lee to Brian Michael Bendis about the 10 traits that make the web-slinger special. On a related note, Complex runs down the 50 most iconic Spider-Man images. [USA Today]
Publishing | If you’re interested in self-publishing, Todd Allen’s latest article about Ingram’s new, lower-cost color print-on-demand service is a must-read. Allen does the math for several different scenarios, in terms of format and distribution method, and boils it down into several handy charts. [Publishers Weekly]
Note: Due to some unforeseen transcription issues, the Steve Rude interview promised for this week won’t be published until next Friday.
Spanish artist David Lafuente is one of those creators who burst into the American comics scene like a shooting star, first glimmering with 2008’s Patsy Walker: Hellcat and then shining with blinding amount talent in 2009’s Ultimate Comics Spider-Man. After his run on that title ended in late 2010, Lafuente followed that with covers for various Marvel series and a brief run on a group of characters close to his heart, the New Mutants. Since then, new work released by this artist has primarily been online on his blog and his recently ended art blog group the Sindiecate. What has he been working on in this down time? Creator-owned comics.
When I reached out to Lafuente to do this interview, I hoped to find out more about his upcoming series Home Run with Jonathan Ross, but what I ended up with was that — and a whole lot more.
In what ended up being David’s most extensive interview ever, we talked about not one but three new creator-owned series he’s working on, as well as his reflections on his heady rise to fame at Marvel and how he isn’t done yet with the House of Ideas.
Have you ever seen a word so often that it starts to lose its meaning? Louis CK has a great bit on the word ‘hilarious’, go check the link (right about the 1:38 mark, NSFW language) and you’ll see what I mean. Because it feels like the word “Ultimate” means nothing to me anymore. I don’t know what Marvel means by it, I don’t know why it’s there now instead of a new label, but it’s been on a lot of comics. Just as a word, the adjective has five definitions, all of them relating to a finite point. They’re all various shades of getting to an endpoint.
So what shade do we call this particular line of comics? At NYCC editor Sana Amanat said that it wouldn’t be right to put one label on them all, but one general theme of the Ultimate comics was of identity exploration, with characters like Miles Morales and Nick Fury coming into their own. I don’t think that’s enough. Identity exploration happens in all comics, and labels help you sell those comics. The word “Ultimate” needs to have meaning. Seeing that name should let the reader know what they’re getting, after all, Diet Coke, Cherry Coke and Coke Classic are all different types of soda, but looking at the label, I know exactly what I’m going to enjoy (heaven forbid it say Pepsi!). I believe the Ultimate line started out with such a label, that they were a way to market a particular type of story to a particular type of reader at their inception, but just through time and ever-changing story, the Ultimate name has lost its luster and clarity. As an adjective it can mean five different things, and I’m not even talking about nouns (grammar humor!).
Right now, we have four titles united by one word, all different facets of their totality. Sit down and take note–I’m looking at you, Marvel Marketing–because I’m going to explain this and tie it all together.
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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 is, thankfully, the last week of September which means that, if I had $15, I only have one more week of new launches from DC to pick out potential favorites, Sophie’s Choice-style. This week: Aquaman #1, Flash #1, Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Men #1, Justice League Dark #1 and Superman #1 make the cut (All DC, all $2.99 each).
If I had the chance to add some more money to take that total to $30, I’d go for some Marvel books: Brian Michael Bendis gets well-represented with Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #2 ($3.99); New Avengers #16.1 ($2.99), his “new readers jump on” issue with art by Neal Adams; and Brilliant #1 ($3.99), his new creator-owned book with Mark Bagley. Here’s hoping I’m in a suitably Bendis-y mood when I read all of these ones.
Splurgewise, it has to be Habibi (Pantheon, $35), Craig Thompson’s new graphic novel. I know a few people who’ve had a chance to read it already, and everyone has made it sound like a large leap ahead from Blankets, and something almost worth the many-year wait it’s been since his breakthrough last book. I’m really looking forward to this one.
His costume is already set to appear next month in the Spider-Man: Edge of Time video game, but Miles Morales will follow that with a Minimate of his very own.
The new Ultimate Spider-Man will join Diamond Select Toys’ line of Marvel Minimates next summer with a 2-inch figure that comes with two heads a removable mask, so you can showcase the character with or without his identity concealed. There’s also a “webline accessory.” The figure will be available exclusively at Toys “R” Us in a two-pack with a classic Spider-Man villain that will be revealed later.
Last Wednesday a first issue relaunched an entirely new take on a classic character, and it didn’t have a DC Comics logo. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1, by Brian Michael Bendis, Sarah Pichelli and Justin Ponsor may not have been the first appearance of Miles Morales, but it did give us a glimpse into his world and what makes him tick.
Since Morales’ new role as the web-slinger in the Ultimate Universe was announced, he’s been met with attention and controversy both inside and outside the comic world. But now that his comic has actually come out, what are people saying about it? Here’s just a sampling of what people are saying about Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1:
James Hunt, Comic Book Resources: “In a month when readers have been prompted to think about the craft of the first issue (courtesy of DC Comics) “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” #1 makes it look easy, striking a strong balance between showing what readers need to know and teasing what might come later. Most importantly, what the issue lacks in costumed antics, it makes up for with character. It’s only the second time we’ve seen Miles Morales on the page, but already we’re starting to see how his background and outlook differ from Peter Parker’s. It suggests that we’re going to see a Spider-Man quite different than the one we’re used to — but at the same time, it’s still one who you’ll want to read about next issue. A very conventional start to the series, but in the Ultimate line in particular, that’s exactly what it should be.”
“It would have been nice if we were past certain places in people’s hearts about race. That kind of surprised me. There was a lot of veiled weirdness. What I could completely appreciate is, ‘I love Peter Parker as Spider-Man, what the hell are you doing?’ Completely with you on that. When it goes into that area where they think it’s affirmative action, or like Glenn Beck said about Michelle Obama making us do this, that was weird. I did not expect that. What I was more mad about was this dismissive, ‘Oh, it’s only a comic book, who cares?’ thing that was coming out of Glenn Beck. I’m like, ‘Hey. Now you’re making me mad. This isn’t just a comic. This is pop art, man. This is our culture. How dare you, sir!'”
Sorry for the graphic title, Gentle Readers.
I’m sure you get the idea: last week, Ultimate Spider-Man #160 gave us the final chapter in the long-awaited “Death of Spider-Man” storyline. That’s long awaited because the prelude kicked us off in February and we’ve been talking about the “Death of Spider-Man” as a future storyline since before that so no one really should take this as a shock that Peter Parker perishes. It wasn’t called the “Death of Captain America” until those Captain America issues were in trade and Fantastic Four’s “Three” is still just labeled “3” on the cover so the mystery of who bites it there is still under wraps. There’s an air of ‘whodunnit’ with those issues, questions that I have personally seen lure the curious new reader to the stands. With the Ultimate “Death of Spider-Man” written on a bevy of covers for the past few months, sometimes even more prominently than the book’s actual title, I don’t see what the polybag was for.
Why note this book at all? Yeah, it’s the murder of the guy whose name’s on the cover, but a polybag? What secret within could be worth wrapping in plastic? The cover spoils the end results! There’s no secret to keep but how Spider-Man dies and, after cutting my way into another comic, that’s not even a secret worth keeping.
So why the hoopla? Why the trending and interviews and rather somber occasion for an event that everyone’s known about for months thanks to tireless campaigning and announcements? Perhaps why they’ve revealed their shocking ending now and not for so long was because the Ultimate Spider-Man title’s been dead for a lot longer than this final issue.
WARNING: Hey guys. Spider-Man dies in Ultimate Spider-Man #160. I know, I know, we’re all surprised but below I’m going to talk a little about how he died so I suppose a spoiler warning is the polite thing to do. Just in case.
Daredevil, the long-running Marvel series that in recent years earned critical acclaim in the hands of creators like Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev, Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark and Andy Diggle, apparently will end in November with the conclusion of the “Shadowland” crossover.
That’s according to the publisher’s November solicitations, which uncharacteristically lists Daredevil #512 as the “FINAL ISSUE.” Marvel typically doesn’t announce cancellations that far in advance, suggesting there’s something “special” in store; perhaps a miniseries interlude as Matt Murdock grapples with the ramifications of the “Shadowland” storyline, or a complete series relaunch. Daredevil returned to its original numbering in September 2009 with Issue 500.
“Shadowland,” billed as “The Battle for the Soul of New York,” revolves around a temple/prison constructed by Murdock, now leader of the Hand, to house the criminals who stand in his way of cleaning up Hell’s Kitchen. His methods, however, bring him into conflict with many of Marvel’s “street-level” heroes, including Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Moon Knight, Elektra and Ghost Rider. The crossover, which debuted in July, involves the core miniseries, Daredevil, Thunderbolts and numerous tie-in miniseries and one-shots.
In related news, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man will return to the original numbering abandoned a year ago with the relaunch of Marvel’s Ultimate line. So instead of No. 16, November’s triple-size 10th-anniversary issue will be No. 150.