Comic-Con International kicked into full gear Friday in a bustling second day that was capped off last night with the presentation of the 24th annual Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. Here’s the highlights of the announcements emerging from the second day — and a few holdovers from the first day — of the San Diego convention:
• During its annual “Cup O’ Joe” panel, Marvel teased post-Avengers Vs. X-Men plans that include: A+X, described as “the opposite of [AvX: VS],” by such creators as Jeph Loeb, Dan Slott, Dale Keown and Ron Garney; Avengers Vs. X-Men: Consequences, a five-issue miniseries written by Kieron Gillen that addresses the effects of the summer crossover; Marvel NOW! Point One, featuring Nick Fury Jr.; and an October one-shot called Avengers Vs. X-Men: Babies, by Skottie Young.
• After initially dismissing Kickstarter as a potential source of money for the stalled Goon animated movie, creator Eric Powell teased he plans to launch a campaign on the crowd-funding website.
Hey, did anyone else notice that $3.99 books are coming with a free online copy? This announcement must have missed my eagle eye because this week it sort of came to me as a happy surprise. I know I’ve only recently learned to love the digital comic, and it’s actually been super-helpful when I miss an issue or want to share my comics with people in another state. Having Avengers vs. X-Men be so interactive really warmed me up to letting comics online and in person coexist comfortably. If you haven’t bothered with it yet, try it out and create your own little library online for free.
Also, as I turn my gaze toward the end of summer and the new cycle of comics due to hit the shelves in September, I wonder why some titles have two solicitation entries or just one with the numbers listed together? Won’t each comic have enough information to be sold as a separate entity, or are we getting to the point in modern comics storytelling that 32 pages can’t contain the decompression? Why are some books twice a month and others just one? Join me, won’t you, as we take a look at what Marvel will be sending our way this September and try and make heads or tails of the future.
The Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, or C2E2, wrapped up Sunday, and while there weren’t nearly as many announcements made on Sunday as there were Friday and Saturday, there were a few more tidbits from Marvel and a fun one from BOOM!:
• At the Marvel’s Next Big Thing panel, the company revealed the creative team for the new Gambit ongoing series they started teasing before the show. Writer James Asmus and artist Clay Mann will have the X-Men’s favorite thief stealing items across the Marvel universe, literally, as Asmus promised to send him into space and to “places with Kirby monsters.”
• The Next Big Thing panel also brought the news that Jamie McKelvie will begin drawing Defenders with issue #8.
• Marvel’s Mighty Thor and Journey Into Mystery will crossover later this year in an event called “Everything Burns.” It’ll feature the villain Surtur. “It stretches the whole nine realms. It threatens every pantheon and planet in all creation. When we say ‘everything burns,’ we mean everything. Everything you’ve seen, anything you’ve cared about, anything at all… cinders, dust. It’s big,” JiM writer Kieron Gillen told Newsarama.
Publishers, creators, retailers and fans rolled into Chicago this weekend for the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo, or C2E2. While the convention officially kicked off Friday, the announcements started rolling out Thursday during the Diamond Retailer Summit. After going through Kiel Phegley’s lengthy report on CBR, I’ve pulled out a few tidbits that publishers shared with attending retailers:
• Dynamite Entertainment shared that the first issue of Garth Ennis and Aaron Campbell’s The Shadow, which comes out next week, will likely go to second print. Following their Vampirella and Pantha projects, they also plan to roll out more of the former Harris Publications characters they now own, and they said they plan to work again with Kevin Smith in the future, who they’ve worked with on Bionic Man and Green Hornet.
• Dark Horse Comics announced two Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff miniseries; one featuring Spike and one featuring Willow (Editor Scott Allie spoke more about them with CBR). In addition, legendary artist Russ Heath will draw some pages in an upcoming issue of Buffy. Dark Horse will launch a new Dragon Age series in August, following the online miniseries that’s been running on Dark Horse Digital. They also confirmed that Becky Cloonan will return to Conan after James Harren’s three issues, and they announced Ex Sanguine, a five-issue miniseries by Tim Seeley and Josh Emmons. Finally, The Goon will go monthly with issue #40.
I’ve always been a lost cause when it comes to math and science, so usually my eyes glaze over when there’s any talk of “formula” or “coefficient.” But I perked up when at Wired.com scientist and author Samuel Arbesman took on the question of inbreeding in Marvel’s X-Men universe. (It was the X-Men part, not the inbreeding, that piqued my interest, thankyouverymuch.)
Using as a guide Joe Stone’s X-Men Family Tree, with its lines designating clones, offspring nemeses and so on, Arbesman has determined that — surprise, surprise! — “there is no inbreeding whatsoever among the X-Men.” He does, however, raise an eyebrow at Ultimate Quicksilver and Ultimate Scarlet Witch.
“Despite the clones, immortality, and occasional mind control of comic books, the X-Men lack inbreeding,” he writes, “at least according to this chart. If we delve a bit deeper though, it turns out that the twin children of Magneto do have a sexual relationship. While no children have resulted from the union of the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, this would have resulted in an astonishingly high inbreeding coefficient of 25 percent, similar to a Pharaoh.”
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.
Continue Reading »
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.”
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 an odd week this week, with little slices of history all over the place. If I had $15, I’d make a point of grabbing two of those slices immediately: Ultimate Comics Fallout #4 (Marvel, $3.99) is the most hyped of the two, the introduction of the “all-new” Spider-Man that we’ve apparently been counting down to for the last week, but I’ll admit more eagerness to read Superman #714 (DC, $2.99), the final issue of the original numbering of a series that’s been running for seven decades, as well as the final episode of “Grounded,” which has become a testament to Chris Roberson’s ability to make a silk purse out of JMS’ ear, or something. Also on the DC side, Flashpoint #4 (DC, $3.99), because I’ve come this far, and because I’m curious what the last page shocker that will make me desperate to read #5 is going to turn out to be. Also: Snarked #0 (BOOM! Studios) is out! Worth multiple times the $1 it actually costs.
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. We’re coming a little late today due to a power outage in my neck of the woods — due to a blackout, not because I spent the money for the electric bill on Flashpoint or Fear Itself tie-ins.
If I had $15, I’d make a mad grab for American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #2 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99); I love what Snyder and Murphy are doing here, and anyone who knows me knows how big a fan I am of Murphy’s work. Next up would be the debut of Jonathan Hickman’s Redwing #1 (Image, $3.50); after seeing Hickman blossom at Marvel, it’s great to see him re-invest in creator-owned comics. Third would be Jason Aaron and Carlos Pacheco’s X-Men Schism #1 (Marvel, $4.99); I have a sense Aaron’s the kind of writer to bring his “A” game when it comes to special stories (he did it recently in Scalped #50), so I’m interested to see what he does here. Last up would be Northlanders #42 (DC, $2.99).
Diamond Comics Distributors announced this week the exclusive comics and merchandise they’ll offer to retailers through their Previews catalog to sell on the floor of the San Diego Comic Con, which is a little more than a month away. Check them out:
DOLLHOUSE EPITAPHS #1 2011 SDCC VERSION
Exclusive original cover! Retailer Bonus: 1 in every 5 copy that is picked up at the SDCC will be signed by the creators Jed Whedon, Andrew Chambliss, & Maurissa Tancharoen! Overwhelmed by multiple personalities after mind-altering technology, Alpha must save mankind from itself as the viral technology turns everyone into murderous automatons. The fate of the world rests in the hands of Psychotic Alpha.
LIMITED TO 2,500 COPIES
Comic SRP: $3.50
To see what Tony, Johnny and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click the link below.
To see what Jim and the Robot 6 crew are reading, click the link below.
When Marvel VP-Executive Editor Tom Brevoort answered the following question on his Formspring account this weekend, he answered a question I’ve had for a long time as well:
what are Marvel’s most popular selling comics in bookstores?
As a group, the Ultimate titles.
Veteran chart watchers have no doubt tracked the slow decline of the Ultimate line — or Ultimate Comics, as they’re currently called on their covers, if not their indicia — for years now, something the Ultimatum event and subsequent title revamps and relaunches didn’t really stop. Moreover, several of the big selling points for the line when it was created — a lack of years of convoluted continuity, more timely cultural references — necessarily get diluted as the books age. Marvel has long justified the continuation of the Ultimate Universe by referring to it as a place where the “rules” for the mainline Marvel books do not apply, a place where some of the company’s biggest writers (Bendis, Millar, Loeb) can run wild. But if Brevoort’s right and comics branded with the “Ultimate” moniker have a leg up in the bookstore market, that’s probably reason no. 1 why Marvel still has the books’ back.
I hate Spider-Man costume changes. Yep, even the symbiote suit.
Let me amend that just slightly: I hate Spider-Man costume changes that this era’s Peter Parker makes, seemingly on a whim. Spider-Man 2099 and others of his ilk look just fine in their respective duds, it’s just when I get a splash page shot of a leaping lower-half in a crazy new outfit that I’m taken completely out of the story. It’s not the minor changes (under-arm webs, angles on the arms of the spider symbol, etc.), it’s the big ones where all I can think of is, “Man, someone’s trying to sell a new toy.” Then it’s whether they sell the toy through the direct market, what kind of packaging this new toy will have, any accessories, price point and then boom! Spidey’s saved the day and learned a new lesson about life and putting on his old costume anyways because we always prefer the original.
Now I know that fans do love the symbiote suit and yeah, it is pretty nifty with its simple design in slimming black and lower jaw distention, but it’s more nostalgia nifty than a desire for anything permanent. The storyline of how he got the suit, what it became and what it did to Peter Parker changed the style of Spidey stories for a whole decade. The costume was so popular, it got a new guy to wear him and then made a sort of ‘spinoff’ with Carnage. My sweaters do not do anything that cool when I donate them to the Salvation Army.
This success with the black suit has drilled a tiny hole in the House of Ideas so deep, it’s like they think every costume change they go with for Peter Parker is going to dress to impress. Scarlet Spider costume? No. Iron Spider costume? Used in Avengers: the Initiative for a few clones and promptly forgotten in the Heroic Age. There’s obviously more I could count but really, let’s not be the costume change that everyone is looking back on in a few years going, “Ha ha! He had glow-in-the-dark bits in his costume! How 2010!”
But do not fret! Now is not the time to panic! Now is the time to plan because, believe it or not, we only have 92 shopping days left until Christmas. Good thing Marvel sent us advance warning so that we can not only budget how much we spend on others so that we can also spend on our comics.
And that’s what Christmas is all about. Join me in looking over the December solicitations for Marvel Comics, won’t you?
The summer is ending, and we’re not so bad off, are we? There’s a cosmic war, Spider-Man’s re-reinventing himself again, there’s an event book with an oncoming slew of tie-in titles, but it all doesn’t feel like the years of yore. There’s no pressure to keep up with any of this; instead of seeing a Broadway production, we’ve got tickets off Broadway, so it’s a little experimental, a lot less expensive and not the main stage. But, in a way, just as important.
This is indeed the week we look at the future and what Marvel has in store for us, but it’s nice to know that from where we are now, the holidays look to be rather pleasant. There’s no great drop to be looking at as the year ends, just more changes and more stories and for some reason, that’s a lot less pressure.
Unless you’re a Thor fan, then you’ve got eight titles to sort through. Yeesh.
Let’s take a look at November and see what’s ahead for the House of Ideas, shall we?