Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
None of my pets has shown even a passing interest in a cat condo, but maybe that’s because I’ve never bought one shaped like Voltron, Defender of the Universe.
Measuring nearly 6 feet tall, it features eight fleece-covered tunnels and interior access to all levels. However, there’s no blazing sword, which is probably for the best. Also: If you shout “Ready to form Voltron,” your cats will ignore you because, well … they’re cats. That’s what they do.
Debuting in September 1984, the hugely popular cartoon was developed by World Events Productions, a small television production company based in St. Louis, Missouri. Several WEP executives had gone to a licensing convention and saw three Japanese shows they thought would do well in the United States. They requested the master tapes of all three, but Toei Company sent the wrong tapes for one of them, interpreting the request for the “one with the lion” as Beast King GoLion, although the WEP team had actually meant a different show. Ted Koplar, president and CEO of WEP, liked what he saw, recalling, “There was a human side that grabbed me.” Indeed, it became the most popular Voltron cartoon, Lion Force Voltron.
Last month, Viz Media released Voltron: From Days of Long Ago, a 30th anniversary commemorative book that includes a behind-the-scenes history of the show, photos of the many Voltron toys, and a guidebook to the characters and storylines. I spoke with Traci Todd, senior editor for children’s publishing at Viz and a huge Voltron fan herself, and Beth Kawasaki, senior editorial director, about went into the making of the book.
Preview Night doesn’t begin for another 11 hours, but judging from the flurry of announcements, Comic-Con International has been well under way since, oh, about Monday. So, if it feels like you’re already falling behind, that’s because you probably are.
To help you catch up, we’ve rounded up early news from DC Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Madefire and Marvel, along with a few other convention-related items.
• Dynamite Entertainment came out of the gate running this week with news that Steve Niles and Dennis Calero will reboot Army of Darkness, James Robinson will launch his crime romance Grand Passion, the Legends of Red Sonja miniseries will team Gail Simone with an all-female creative team that includes Marjorie M. Liu, Nancy A. Collins, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Mercedes Lackey, Nicola Scott and Devin Grayson, Peter Milligan will debut his sci-fi action series Terminal Hero, Duane Swiercyznski will expand the publisher’s crime line with Ex-Con, Howard Chaykin will return to The Shadow with the miniseries Midnight in Moscow, NBC’s Heroes will get a “fifth season” in a series written by Cullen Bunn, the acquisition of the Robotech license spawns a Robotech/Voltron crossover, and The Heart of the Beast, the graphic novel by Dean Motter, Judith Dupré and Sean Phillips, will receive a 20th-anniversary prestige-format edition.
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 start with Image’s new anthology Thought Bubble Anthology #1 (Image, $2.99). That Becky Cloonan cover is great, and seeing that the book holds new shorts from Andy Diggle, Duncan Fegredo and others is enticing. Next up would be a DC three-pack: Swamp Thing #4 (DC, $2.99), Animal Man #4 (DC, $2.99), Action Comics #4 (DC, $3.99). DC really wins this week when it comes to my wallet, and these three books are becoming the key titles in the New 52.
If I had $30, I’d try out Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson’s Defenders #1 (Marvel, $3.99). While I was nonplussed by their previous collaboration in Uncanny X-Men, I remain high on other segments of their work and hope this one lives up to that potential. Next up would be X-Club #1 (Marvel, $2.99), based solely on this eclectic line-up. The X-Club was one of the few parts of the previously mentioned Fraction run on Uncanny X-Men I enjoyed, and I hope this mini makes them a more viable part of the universe long-term. Next up I’d get iZombie #20 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99) for the ongoing adventures of Roberson and Allred and Irredeemable #32. I’m really enjoying what Diego Barreto brings to the book, and Mark Waid continues to deliver.
If I could splurge, I’d get IDW’s collection of Mike Grell’s Shaman’s Tears maxi-series. This was one of the early Image titles, and gave me my first glimpse of Grell’s work and the potential for Image outside the original 7. As the series went on I ended up going back to track down Grell’s earlier work, but Shaman’s Tears holds a special place and I’m anxious to relive it without dusting off my longboxes.
It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes, and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “ Life with Archie is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.
Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.
Richie Rich Gems Winter Special - In addition to their modern-look Richie Rich, Ape has also re-introducied the classic version in both new and reprinted adventures. I missed the solicit for Richie Rich Gems #44 last month (which picked up where the Harvey series left off in 1982), but the series continues with not only the Winter Special, but #45 as well.
Dragons vs Dinosaurs - I haven’t had great luck with Arcana’s books in the past, but c’mon. The title alone…
Hero Happy Hour: On the Rocks - This, on the other hand, is no risk at all. I’m a big fan of Dan Taylor and Chris Fason’s superhero bar stories and this is an all-new, 80-page adventure. Not reprints; not even a printed version of the webcomic. It’s all-new and I need it.
The Dare Detectives: The Snow Pea Plot Collected Edition – Archaia prepares for their publishing Ben Caldwell’s Dare Detectives: The Kula Kola Caper by re-publishing the first story that was originally put out by Dark Horse.
Friday was a busy day in San Diego, with a full slate of announcements capped by the Eisner Awards in the evening.
• Image Comics will resurrect the classic television show MacGyver as a five-issue miniseries written by MacGyver creator Lee David Zlotoff and Doctor Who writer Tony Lee, and illustrated by Becky Cloonan.
• Brian Wood’s newest project was announced — The Massive, about environmentalists who survive the last environmental collapse. The comic will start its run in Dark Horse Presents #8 in January.
• Vertigo Executive Editor Karen Berger confirmed that Scalped will end with issue #60.
• Marvel teased the return of the Scarlet Spider.
• DC Comics released more interior art for several of their “New 52″ titles, including Aquaman, Mister Terrific and more.
Yes, of course I know now that his name is Sven and he’s not Mexican, but when I was seven, I wouldn’t have questioned anything my cousin Greg told me about Voltron. He was the one who introduced me to it in the first place and was my ambassador to shape-changing robots, evil fish-headed Kings and courageous princesses.
Eventually, my older cousin Marisol claimed the role of Princess Allura, Greg came around to the idea that being daredevil Lance was better than being Sven, and I took the role of Princess Romelle, who didn’t pilot a lion but did lead a rebellion against Prince Lotor — plus, she had horses. So it all worked out.
Those old Voltron cartoons are silly and simple to me now (though still hold a lot of nostalgic appeal), but they inspired my cousins and me, in our make-believe games, to re-enact and invent stories involving teamwork and bravery — and a little melodrama. Voltron has since become a comic published by Devil’s Due, but, honestly, I don’t think anything can compare to the Voltron stories my cousins and I made up in our family rooms and backyards.
And my cousin Greg? He’s the one who became the real pilot. He’s a captain in the Air Force and currently serving in Iraq, where he’s helping to train the Iraqi Army. This Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now is dedicated to him.