EXCLUSIVE CLIPS: "Justice League: Gods and Monsters" Plot Revealed
Although we can never be assured that a film or television adaptation of Batman will be any good, there is one safe bet: It will likely include a depiction of the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne in Crime Alley (slow-motion shot of a broken string of pearls tumbling to the pavement optional, but preferred).
Gotham, which premiered Monday on Fox, was of course no exception, spurring Vulture to compile a supercut of the Waynes dying on screen, from Super Friends and Tim Burton’s Batman to Batman Begins and Batman: Arkham Origins. I imagine this is what Bruce Wayne’s nightmares look like.
Video-game webcomics tend to gravitate toward the same crew of characters in general. Most everyone is going to do a comic about Mario, which also means that most everyone will eventually do that comic where Mario is a delusional plumber on mushrooms who gets stuck in a pipe.
Beyond that, however, it’s usually a roster of other visually recognizable characters: Pokemon, Kratos from God of War, Master Chief from Halo, Big Daddy from Bioshock, whoever is in Assassin’s Creed this year. These are the characters that populate the tribal knowledge of gamer culture. In a way, it’s not unlike superheroes. There are hundreds of pieces of fan art, video tributes and articles focusing on Batman, but who;s going to devote much time to, say, Silver Sable?
Reports of the Avengers: Age of Ultron footage screened Saturday at Comic-Con International have you wishing May 1 would hurry up and get here … well, there’s nothing I can do about that. However, I can point you to the latest installment in CineFix’s 8-Bit Cinema series, which allows you to experience Marvel’s The Avengers once again, only this time as a classic arcade game.
The days of easing into Comic-Con International are but a distant memory, as the schedule for the first event’s official day, Thursday, July 27, oh so helpfully reminds us.
As we’ve come to expect, the Thursday programming is a mix of comic books, television, toys and video games, with a smattering of film, plus several Batman panels tied to the Caped Crusader’s 75th anniversary (including a spotlight on co-creator Bill Finger, “DC Comics: Batman 75: Legends of the Dark Knight” and “Batman in the ’70s”).
Comics programming includes panels from 2000 AD, Avatar Press, Bongo Comics, BOOM! Studios, DC Digital, Image Comics, IDW’s Artists Editions, Marvel’s Avengers & X-Men: AXIS, Monkeybrain Comics, Skybound’s The Walking Dead and Vertigo. But that only scratches the surface, as there are also creator spotlights on the likes of Dan Slott, and Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, a conversation between Gene Luen Yang and Scott McCloud, a look at the creative processes of Lee Bermejo, John Romita Jr. and Nicola Scott, and an examination of the intersection of hip hop and comics.
Check out some of the comics-related highlights below, and visit the Comic-Con website for the full schedule.
Comics, animation and video games, all on the same platform, all offered for free: That’s the vision Alex Simmons has for his new digital service, the Arthawk Entertainment Online Network (AEON). He’s running a Kickstarter campaign to get the service off the ground, and he already has plans to go beyond that.
Simmons is a veteran comics writer whose credits include Archie Comics (he won a Glyph Award for his story “The Cartoon Life of Chuck Clayton”), Scooby-Doo and his own creator-owned series, Blackjack. He writes in a variety of other formats as well, including creating interactive mystery stories for the Tiger Toys video game, and he runs the annual Kids’ Comic Con in the Bronx. A few years ago he put together an art exhibit, “The Color of Comics,” that traveled as far away as Senegal.
The AEON is an ambitious project. Artist Derrick A. Richardson, who has done work for DC and Marvel, is the CEO, and Simmons and Richardson have put together a team of animation, creative and technical consultants to build the platform. All this costs money, and they set the goal of the Kickstarter at $100,000. I talked with Simmons about the thinking behind the platform and what the next steps will be.
E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, runs this week, and video game news sites and fans have been poring over every announcement with the delicacy of a sledgehammer. One thing that has become clear: The so-called “console wars” is still on. Devotees line up behind their game system of choice to cheer or lambast the latest news. That was most apparent last year during the unveiling of Sony and Microsoft’s next-generation consoles, when the wild rhetoric between console partisans was indistinguishable from political rallies.
Webcomics have a long history with video games, with one webcomic (Penny Arcade) launching a popular convention circuit centered on gamers. Anthropomorphizing game consoles is hardly new. Few, though, have taken the concept as far and as creatively as Tyler Rhodes’ Castle Vidcons.
Conventions | The doors open today on the 25th annual Motor City Comic Con, held through Sunday in Novi, Michigan, northwest of Detroit. Comics guests include Art Baltazar, Elizabeth Breitweiser, Talent Caldwell, Chris Claremont, Matthew Clark, Gerry Conway, Katie Cook, J.M. DeMatteis, Clayton Henry, Mike McKone, Jame O’Barr, Ryan Ottley, Dave Petersen, Don Rosa, Bill Sienkiewicz, Charles Soule, Mark Waid and Skottie Young. The Detroit Free Press previews the event, and speaks with Claremont, while Metro Times provides a beginner’s guide. [Motor City Comic Con]
Digital comics | Kate Reynolds looks at the recent Image Humble Bundle promotion and compares it to sales of hard copies of the individual titles in comics shops. Her key insight is that this is Image’s first attempt to sell comics directly to the video game audience rather than established readers: “Many people who check the Humble website with some frequency may have been surprised to see comics books on a video game page, and for many, surprise turned to intrigue. While it’s impossible to tell whether the purchasers of the Image bundle were frequent comic buyers or not, it’s logical to assume that many were not. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if for some, the Image bundle was the first comic purchase of their lives.” [feminism/geekery]
If you’ve ever done a random browse of webcomics over the past decade, chances are you ran into a sprite comic.
The sprite comic uses aesthetics from the early generations of video games, an era spanning the rise of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong to the video game crash of 1983 to the rebirth under Mario and Mega Man once Nintendo came to dominate the market. The aesthetic itself has evolved and flourished in a variety of media. A lot of it is deeply rooted in nostalgia, as when Community aired an episode in which the characters are sprites in an ’80s-style RPG.
Gamers have waged an ages-long battle against public perception that video games are detrimental to the world’s youth: They’re time wasters that promote anti-social habits and glorify violence. Gamers respond to that pressure in a variety of ways, with some lashing out against their critics. That was true of several webcomics in the mid-2000s, which unleashed their invective anger on popular political targets. “Don’t f*** with us,” said one popular webcomic. Others reacted by calmly suggesting aspects that could be improved in gaming. The crew behind the Extra Credits series, for example, often examines positive aspects of gaming that can help elevate the form from its sometimes adolescent levels.
And then there’s Zac Gorman’s Magical Game Time. If I were to divine a thesis from its comics, it would be “video games are good.”
Kadokawa, the Japanese publisher of such manga as Neon Genesis Evangelion, Sgt. Frog and Cowboy Bebop, has announced plans to acquire video game company From Software.
According to Siliconera, Kadokawa Group will purchase 80 percent of From Software’s stock — a deal expected to be finalized by May 21 — and position the developer alongside the existing Kadokawa Games to work on the company’s core properties.
Legal | Mohammad Hassan Khalid was sentenced last week in Philadelphia to five years in prison for his part in a failed 2009 plan to kill Lars Vilks, the Swedish cartoonist who drew the head of the Prophet Mohammed on the body of a dog. Khalid, now 20, was a teenager and an honors student when he became involved with Colleen LaRose, aka “Jihad Jane,” who in January was sentenced to 10 years in prison for her part in the plot. Prosecutors pointed to the fact that Khalid also translated violent jihad videos into English, which may have helped recruit new terrorists, but they also asked for leniency because he cooperated with them after his arrest. The defense claimed he was simply a vulnerable, awkward teenager who has since been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Khalid, who had been offered a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins University but was arrested before graduating from high school, will get credit for the three years he has already served in prison. [Reuters]
Marvel and Paris-based mobile game developer Gameloft have released the launch trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a tie-in to the Sony Pictures movie sequel that pits the wall-crawler against villains ranging from Electro and the Green Goblin to Kraven and Venom.
Available now on iOS and Google Play, the action-adventure follows Spider-Man as he swings through Manhattan in an effort to save New York City from the chaos of a costumed crime wave.
With a name that gives a nod to a 19th-century physicist and a sign that features an olive within an atom, it’s a safe bet that Houston’s new Neil’s Bahr isn’t your run-of-the-mill drinking establishment.
Instead, Eater reports, it’s a bar where patrons can browse the comic book library, read sci-fi novels in the comfy lounge or play Super Nintendo and vintage arcade games.
“I’ve always wanted a geeky bar where people can watch The Simpsons or Star Wars on TV, a very hole-in-the-wall place,” owner Neil Fernandez told the website. He also has Industry Night Tuesday, which caters to bar and restaurant employees, and soon plans to launch trivia and cabaret/karaoke nights. Fernandez is even considering going “full-blown nerd” with Magic: The Gathering.
The film features Slade Wilson auditioning for Black Mask, who has put a bounty out on Batman on Christmas Eve. Deathstroke shows off his skills in the action-packed, very bloody and probably NSFW fan film. It’s timing couldn’t be better, as DC just announced a starring role for Deathstroke in Suicide Squad.
Check it out below.
Going Nowhere Studios has debuted a pretty impressive trailer for Deathstroke: Arkham Assassin, a fan-film prequel to the Warner Bros. video game Batman: Arkham Origins.
In the game, a bounty is placed on the Dark Knight by the Black Mask, bringing eight of the world’s greatest assassins to Gotham City on Christmas Eve — including the formidable Deathstroke. But as the trailer teases, the crime lord requires a demonstration of his skills.
The short film is set to premiere Monday online.