Nick Fury was and always will be the face of S.H.I.E.L.D., but writer Brian Michael Bendis just revealed a new and surprising member to Marvel’s spy outfit: Dazzler. As revealed in today’s Uncanny X-Men #6, Dazzler has been recruited into S.H.I.E.L.D. by Maria Hill in an attempt to counter-balance Cyclops rebellious talk of a mutant revolution.
“That’s why she’s a perfect candidate. She’s on nobody’s side,” Bendis told IGN. “She is looking at this with eyes wide open. Even though her relationship with Cyclops has been very good in the past she doesn’t know how she feels about what he has turned into. Dazzler’s previous relationship [with] Scott Summers is part of the reason Maria Hill recruited her.”
It’s not the fact that she’s a mutant that makes her a surprising choice; fellow X-Men alums Kitty Pryde and Danielle Moonstar have been agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at one point or another. What’s surprising is the prominent position the former pop star has moved into. Most recently seen in the pages of X-Treme X-Men bouncing around to alternate realities, the singer-turned-X-Man Alison Blaire has never been that much of a major player in Marvel Comics — but for a time, she was planned to be.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the comics, books and whatever else we’ve been checking out lately. Today our guest is Shaun Manning, a former staffer at CBR, occasional convention reporter and comics writer. His current project is a comic called Hell, Nebraska (with artist Anna Wieszczyk), and he’s currently running a Kickstarter to raise funds to publish it. So go check it out.
To see what Shaun and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Chris Bachalo is one of the preeminent superhero artists working in comics today, but that’s not what he originally wanted to do. Despite quietly becoming the most prolific X-Men artist of all time, Bachalo got his start in a far different place: Vertigo. As a child and teenager, he actively avoided X-Men comics, and his passions lay instead with more experimental artists like Bill Sienkiewicz and Dave McKean. But now as a 23-year veteran of comics he’s one of Marvel’s top artists.
But that doesn’t mean he isn’t prone to experiment.
Hard at work on the eighth issue of Uncanny X-Men, is redefining the franchise’s flagship title with writer Brian Michael Bendis while also planning a themed art book called Giant Robot Destroyer that collects drawings he’s over the years. And yes, he’s also thinking about Steampunk.
Following on the heels of All-New X-Men, the first X-title written by Brian Michael Bendis as part of the big Marvel NOW initiative, Uncanny X-Men sees the scribe join with Chris Bachalo to relaunch the mothership. While All-New focuses on the teenage versions of the original X-Men, this title showcases the leader they were brought forward in time to convince that his current actions aren’t kosher. Joined by two former (former?) villains and the diabolical ruler of Limbo, Cyclops goes about recruiting some of the new mutants who have been popping up since the end of Avengers vs. X-Men. Why should Wolverine have all the fun?
Is the new approach revolutionary or revolting? Here are a few opinions from around the web …
Anghus Houvouras, Flickering Myth: “Uncanny X-Men #1 takes us to the other side of the fractured X-Men. Cyclops, Magneto, and a handful of others have taken to recruiting new mutants to be part of their brotherhood. Cyclops still believes mutants need protection from the world around them and is willing to resort to violence if necessary. S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill is approached by a mysterious foe who claims to have inside information about Cyclops and his mutant terrorists. Much of the issue is spent catching the audience up on the current state of mutant affairs. It seems that there is a traitor in their midst as someone is intent on seeing Cyclops suffer for his sins.”
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.
If I had $15, I’d be tempted to blow it all on the recolored Death of Superman collection for the ’90s nostalgia. But then I’d probably flip through it and come to my senses, and instead get something new like Fatale #12 ($3.50) by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, which looks like it’s going to be a trip, flashing back to Medieval times but self-contained as a good entry point for new readers. That’s smart comics. Speaking of smarty-pants, I’d probably get The Manhattan Projects #9 ($3.50) by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra. It’s the first part of a two-part story about scientists trying to take over the world. There will probably be lots of words that leave me dizzy. I likely wouldn’t be able to resist Matt Wagner writing The Shadow: Year One #1 ($3.99) because, you know, The Shadow knows. I haven’t been following IDW’s G.I. Joe universe but G.I. Joe #1 ($3.99) by Fred Van Lente and Steve Kurth seems like a good opportunity to try it out. And I’d finish it off with Cyber Force #3 by Marc Silvestri and Koi Pham because it’s free.
With $30, I would add to the above. Darkhawk is on the cover of Avengers Arena #4 ($2.99) by Dennis Hopeless and Alessandro Vitti, so I’d be compelled to buy that. I’ve been meaning to check out Erik Burnham and Dan Schoening’s Ghostbusters since I hear it’s real fun, so the relaunched Ghostbusters #1 ($3.99) is a perfect opportunity. Morning Glories #24 ($2.99) by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma seems too intriguing to pass up. I am so behind on the X-books, but I’d be real tempted to try Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Bachalo’s Uncanny X-Men #1 ($3.99).
My splurge item would be tough. I’d be real tempted to get either the Iron Man Omnibus collecting the entire run of David Michelinie, Bob Layton and John Romita Jr., including the famous alcoholism story, or Counter X: Generation X – Four Days by Brian Wood. But I’d probably end up instead getting the Daredevil By Mark Waid, Vol. 1 hardcover for $35. I don’t know, do I need to justify this purchase? It’s probably the most beloved superhero comic of last year, maybe for the last couple of years. It paved the way for similarly rejuvenating series at Marvel like Hawkeye, Captain Marvel, and Young Avengers. The art by Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin is swoon-worthy. And it wants to be on my bookshelf, dagnabbit!
Last month DC Comics announced it will celebrate the February launch of Justice League of America with a staggering 52 variant covers that not only hit that magic number but also feature the flags of each of the 50 states plus Washington, D.C., and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (better luck next time, Northern Mariana Islands). As sales gimmicks go, it’s certainly … excessive, something even the publisher seems to recognize.
Not one to pass up a chance to rib (and one-up) the competition, Marvel has now revealed Stuart Immonen’s clever — if not exactly accurately named — 53 State Birds Variant for February’s Uncanny X-Men #1. As so many Marvel variant covers do, this one features the ubiquitous Deadpool and “all 52 state birds (+1).”
If you’ve been paying attention the last few weeks, you know the score–I’ve got 36 random questions that need to be answered, and every week I throw six of them at a different comic creator. What questions they answer is determined by the fates–or, more specifically, a random number generator.
Now let’s get to it …
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]
Nine Marvel series will end in October even as the publisher debuts Uncanny Avengers #1, the first title in its sweeping Marvel NOW! initiative.
According to Marvel’s October solicitations, which went live this morning, the month will mark the conclusions of Captain America, Fantastic Four, FF, Incredible Hulk, Invincible Iron Man, New Mutants, The Mighty Thor, Uncanny X-Men and X-Men Legacy.
Naturally, some of those aren’t entirely unexpected, as the new Uncanny Avengers, by Rick Remender and John Cassaday, will be joined in November by All-New X-Men, by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen, followed by Avengers, by Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opena, in December and New Avengers, by Hickman and Steve Epting, in January. Likewise, Ed Brubaker revealed two weeks ago that he’s ending his acclaimed seven-year-run on Captain America, a departure that dovetails nicely into Marvel’s relaunch plans.
However, what will replace such mainstay titles as Fantastic Four, Incredible Hulk, Invincible Iron Man and The Mighty Thor, and when, remains to be seen. Although it’s unlikely the publisher will go too long without versions of those comics on the shelves, Marvel has promised a slow rollout of relaunches between October and February.
Madelyne Pryor, the Jean Grey lookalike introduced in Uncanny X-Men #168, was put through the ringer by writers over the years, as she went from being Scott Summers’ wife and Cable’s mother to a clone of Jean Grey and eventually a supervillain. You’ve gotta love any Wikipedia entry that comes with the caveat, “Madelyne’s biography has been rendered particularly complicated because of the many retcons involved in the publication history of both her character and that of Jean Grey.”
But that wasn’t always the plan for the character, as legendary X-Men writer Chris Claremont notes in the video below. The footage is from an interview conducted for the upcoming documentary Comics in Focus: Chris Claremont’s X-Men. Filmmakers were able to reunite Claremont, writer Louise Simonson and editor Ann Nocenti for a discussion of their time working on the X-franchise.
Let’s not mince words, the online presence of Tom Brevoort has provided hours of great reading for Robot 6 readers. Given his constant and unflagging willingness to interact with consumers via social media, Brevoort is a quote machine (His Twitter bio? “A man constantly on the verge of saying something stupid–for your entertainment!?”). There’s always a directness (some would say bluntness) to his manner online–making him the ideal subject for an interview. Last year saw Marvel promote Brevoort to senior vice president for publishing. 2011 was a year of some major successes for Marvel, as well as a year where some hard business decisions were made. In this interview, conducted in mid-December via email, I tried to cover a great deal of ground (we even briefly discuss DC’s New 52 success)–and Brevoort did not hold back on any of his answers. For that, I am extremely grateful. Like any high profile comics executive, Brevoort has his fans and his critics (and many in between), but I like to think this exchange offers some perspectives everyone can enjoy.
Tim O’Shea: Whether it’s in your job description or not, fan outreach via social media is definitely part of your job–clearly by your own choice. What benefit or enjoyment do you get from interacting with the fans/consumers?
Tom Brevoort: I’m not sure that I get a particular benefit, except maybe just being the center of attention for a few minutes—maybe everything I do is motivated by ego! I’m a whore for the spotlight! But I started doing this kind of outreach back in the formative days of internet fandom, largely because I like the idea of internet fandom. I know that, if the internet had existed when I was a young comic book reader, I’d have been on those message boards and in those chat rooms all the time, obsessively—just like a certain portion of the audience today. So I like the idea of giving back, of being accessible enough that anybody who has a question or a concern knows where to find me, or at least to find somebody with an insider’s track who might have the background and knowledge to speak to their point. In a very real way, it’s all an outgrowth of what Stan Lee did in his letters pages and Bullpen pages. Joe Q, I think, was really the first person to perfect that approach for the internet age. As EIC he was incredibly available to the audience in a myriad of ways. It’s a philosophy that’s very much woven into our DNA at Marvel. And for the most part, our fans are interesting, vibrant, cool people, especially when you meet them in person.
In the wake of X-Men: Schism, Marvel’s mutants are split down the middle and heading in two divergent directions. While Wolverine’s team is following in the footsteps of Xavier’s original plans for the X-Men, the Cyclops-led team based in Utopia is on a different track. Dubbed his “Extinction Team,” the primary purpose of the team is to stand between mankind (not just mutantkind) and threats that would render them extinct. It sounds like a unique kind of mission for the X-Men, but an interesting question on writer Kieron Gillen’s Formspring reframes it in a familiar way.
Gillen was asked: “The x-men seem a lot like the old superhero team The Authority lately. is that intentional?”
“The Authority are certainly one of the big influences on [Uncanny X-Men],” answers Gillen. ” The Extinction Team are certainly the closest the MU has ever had to something that occupies the niche the Authority dominated in the Wildstorm U.”
While saying that most modern super-hero comics were inspired by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch’s The Authority isn’t too far off-base, seeing this straight correlation by Gillen fires off my fan synapses and helps define a team that, frankly, I was having trouble with even after reading Uncanny X-Men #1. Although I don’t want to see Gillen and crew follow this analogy too closely, it makes me more interested to see where the book goes next.
Also, isn’t it interesting that in the pin-up for Avengers vs. X-Men that it’s Cyclops’s X-Men versus the Avengers pictures? Both Wolverine and Beast seem to be lunging after their former teammates in the X-Men rather than the Avengers, who they currently owe more allegiance to.
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.
I have to say, this is an amazingly slow week for me in terms of new releases. If I had $15, I’d pick up the fourth issue of Dark Horse’s Angel & Faith series ($3.50), which has surprised me by turning out to be my favorite by far of the new Buffy series (due, in large part, to Rebekah Isaacs’ artwork, which is superb). I’d also grab the third issue of IDW’s Star Trek monthly ($3.99), in the hope that it’ll be as good as the first two issues; hardcore Trek fans, you should really be looking at this book, if you’re not already. Also on the list to grab: Thunderbolts #166 (Marvel, $2.99), continuing a great storyline from what might be one of the most underrated books from either of the big two publishers. One of the few nice things about Marvel’s recent Cancelpocalypse was seeing so many people speak up about how much they love Thunderbolts, and I’m right there with them; Jeff Parker’s done great things with this book.
Comics | An original page by John Byrne and Terry Austin from Uncanny X-Men #137, the 1980 issue that featured the death of Phoenix, sold at auction Wednesday for $65,725. As ICv2 notes, the sale continues the trend of 1980s comic art going for high prices; a page of Frank Miller art from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #3 sold for $448,125 in May. [ICv2.com]
Digital | ICv2′s Milton Griepp makes the case for publishers to provide sales information on digital comics. “Why would this information be useful? There are a number of reasons. One is that it would help distributors (most importantly, Diamond Comic Distributors) and retailers selling physical comics and graphic novels identify which titles have the largest audiences in digital form. They could then make sure that they’re merchandising the top digital titles appropriately, so they can take advantage of demand for physical titles that results from digital exposure (we’ve been hearing that there’s a significant phenomenon of digital purchasers looking for collections of comics they’ve purchased online). Digital demand can also indicate potential demand for physical books from consumers that aren’t purchasing digitally; a good book, after all, is a good book, and if digital purchasers are finding a title that’s not as popular in physical form, it may indicate that there’s an untapped market of consumers of physical books as well.” [ICv2.com]
Although Chris Claremont didn’t create the X-Men, he’s the one that defined them from 1974 to 1991, leaving a lasting impact on the characters and influencing future writers who worked on the franchise. And in a new documentary called Comics In Focus: Chris Claremont’s X-Men, the documentary filmmakers behind the recent Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis films take on the legendary scribe’s impact on Marvel’s mutants. And to get it made, they need your help.
Using the popular crowd-funding website Kickstarter, the documentary producers Sequart Research & Literary Organization and Respect Films are asking for $3,500 in fan support to make the film happen. Director Patrick Meaney spoke with Claremont as well as many of his chief collaborators such as Art Adams to get the inside-baseball perspective on the the writer and his definitive work.
If the funding is met and the film does well, the producers hope this will be the first in a series of Comics In Focus documentaries looking at the major moments in comics history.
So far over $400 of the $3,500 has been raised with 28 days to go, with excellent prizes for those that donate $10 or more.