INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
This week’s new releases include three more series launching as part of the “All-New Marvel Now” initiative — Magneto, Moon Knight and Wolverine & The X-Men — but of those, I only want to discuss the first two.
That’s because they’re actually new series, rather than an existing series simply relaunching with a new #1 issue and a new creative team. (The previous volume of Wolverine & The X-Men, the one written by Jason Aaron, seems like it just ended. When was that? Let’s see, it was … last week? Marvel’s not even waiting a whole entire month to relaunch titles now?)
Those two books are also solo series featuring lower-tier characters, making them the exact sort of comics Marvel has been allowing creators to pursue riskier, quirkier, more idiosyncratic and interesting approaches on since the success of Mark Waid and company’s Daredevil and Matt Fraction, David Aja and company’s Hawkeye.
And, of course, they also both start with the letter M.
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Declan Shalvey’s friendship with Stephen Mooney stretches back nearly a decade, to before either Irish creator was well known in the United States. So when the Moon Knight artist pitched ROBOT 6 the idea of interviewing Half Past Danger creator Mooney about the hardcover collection, arriving Jan. 29 from IDW Publishing, we didn’t hesitate to say yes, thinking the conversation would offer terrific insight into their relationship, their careers, the Irish comics scene and, of course, Mooney’s Nazis vs. dinosaurs adventure.
As it turns out, we were right.
If there are Marvel fans who aren’t following Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso on Twitter, they’re missing out on a lot of previews of upcoming comics in various states of production. For instance, on Wednesday he unveiled a first look at a colored page from the first issue of Moon Knight, by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire.
Launching in March, the series returns Marc Spector to the streets of New York City, and places the focus on the character’s horror roots.
“The book is filled with oddities,” Shalvey told Comic Book Resources last month. “It starts with a man in a white suit and mask with big moon on his forehead, remember. I will say this: Moon Knight investigates the strange and dark corners of the Marvel Universe, and boy, there are weird things there.”
While much of the comics industry is caught in that bubble between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso is busy tweeting sneak peeks at art from a handful of titles, including the debut issue of Moon Knight by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey.
Among the other offerings are pages from All-New Ghost Rider #2 by Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore, Winter Soldier: The Bitter March #1 by Rick Remender and Roland Boschi, and All-New Invaders #2 by James Robinson and Steve Pugh. Check them out below.
It started with a simple question on Brian Michael Bendis’ Tumblr:
what advice do you have for someone that has had writers block for the past 6 or 7 years?
His response was terse:
this will sound harsh but you’re probably not a writer.
writers write every day. it’s ok, not everyone is.
but if you consider yourself one, get off your ass and get back to work!! write about why you haven’t been writing . anything. just write.
… and then it made its way around Tumblr, getting blogged and reblogged and commented on. Here’s a pretty good string of responses and responses-to-responses at Warren Ellis’ Tumblr, and Paul Constant compiled more Tumblr responses in a post at The Stranger, which then accumulated a pretty long comment string of its own.
This particular discussion resonated with me because I was in a similar situation: I wanted to be a writer for years before I actually wrote anything worth reading. It’s true, a writer writes, but when you are just sitting there all alone in front of the keyboard, it can be hard to know what to write or if what you are writing is worthwhile. I wrote great articles in my head but they seldom made it onto the computer, and when they did, I never seemed to be able to finish them. I picked at different things, but with no deadlines, I had no urgency to wrap anything up, and with no one to read my unfinished bits, I got no feedback. It’s one thing to write when you have assignments and deadlines and editors yelling at you; it’s another entirely when you’re sitting there in a vacuum.
So here’s the advice I would have given Bendis’ inquisitor:
Wednesday sees artist Matteo Buffagni teaming with co-writers Kelly Sue DeConnick and Warren Ellis on Avengers Assemble #22, a tie-in to Marvel’s “Inhumanity” event. In addition to chatting about that, Buffagni was kind enough to share a glimpse into his design process for June Covington/Toxie Doxie’s new costume, revealed at the end of Avengers Assemble #21.
Tim O’Shea: For those unfamiliar with your career, how long have been working in comics?
Matteo Buffagni: I’ve been working at Marvel since 2010, when I started on X-23 then jumped on Daken, Ultimate Iron Man: The Demon in the Armor, Astonishing X-Men and now Avengers Assemble.
Before those assignments I attended the International School of Comics in Florence and worked on a couple of French books called Vestiges.
Digital comics | Ethan Gach contemplates what the popularity of tablets means for the comics industry, with a particular focus on comiXology. He points out that the digital distributor offers not only bestsellers but also titles that appeal to a broader audience — and has brought success to some indie creators via its comiXology Submit program. [Forbes]
Academia | Tom Spurgeon talks to Professor Benjamin Saunders, director of the Comics & Cartoon Studies Program at the University of Oregon, which just received a major donation that will serve as an endowment for the program. [The Comics Reporter]
Manga | Kodansha will release a second printing of the January issue of Aria magazine, which features the debut of Hikaru Suruga and Gan Sunaaku’s Attack on Titan spinoff No Regrets. The first printing was five times greater than the magazine’s usual press run — Aria has a verified circulation of 13,667 copies — so with this new printing, the January issue will have 10 times the number of copies of the average issue. [Anime News Network]
“The man is demented in more interesting ways than I think Batman ever was. [His] cape is actually a crescent moon and he goes out only at night and dresses in reflective white so you can see him coming. Now that’s nuts … I like that.”
Avengers: Endless Wartime (Marvel Entertainment): Marvel’s new line of original graphic novels — note the “Marvel OGN” logo on the spine — is off to a pretty strong start with this continuity-light Warren Ellis-written, Mike McKone-drawn story of an Avengers squad facing a new form of semi-sentient weapon evolved from a generation-old attempt to marry Nazi science with Norse magic.
That’s a good conflict for an Avengers comic, as the team includes a Nazi-fighting hero and a Norse god, and, better still, both Captain America and Thor were tied to the this new weapon’s origin.
Ellis does his usual fine job of mixing current science, speculative next-level science, elements of our zeitgeist and corporate superheroes with something that feels appropriate, cool and like the writer has something to say. Additionally, he has a pretty decent handle on the characters, and does a relatively good job of singling out particular voices (this is the first time in a long time that I’ve read an Avengers comic where everyone didn’t talk like Brian Michael Bendis).
Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Wolverine, Captain Marvel, Black Widow and Hawkeye, who reflects Matt Fraction’s version, are a bit of a rag-tag group, but they seem to be assembled primarily for their military backgrounds. “Do you know, I just realized I’m the only non-soldier in the room,” Tony Stark says at one point, and Captain Marvel sneers back, “That’s right, Tony. You’re just an ex-arms manufacturer in a metal death suit.”
It’s difficult to find solid synergy between the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the current comics line. On one hand, that’s a good thing; not everything should stop and shift on a Hollywood dime. On the other, you’d think there would be at least one book that followed the Avengers movie characters. Anyone familiar with the films and looking for a little Avengers action would be picking up an Infinity tie-in, and … man. I mean, I’ve been reading comics for what seems like forever, and Jonathan Hickman is writing some crazy-dense stuff right now. Avengers Assemble went from being the go-to book for quick-and-simple adventures of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and now it’s just as important a tie-in for Captain Marvel and Infinity as the Hickman books. Visually, Marvel can tweak Tony Stark’s character model to be a lot more Robert Downey Jr.-y, adjust some costumes to be more realistic and put movie favorites like the Warriors Three closer to the action, but it’s difficult to produce a book that remains event story-neutral or even simply set in Marvel’s on-screen world.
The good news is that the House of Ideas is trying a couple things that might be a little more reader-friendly than just sticking a #1 on the cover. One is the new Marvel Knights line; the inaugural series, Marvel Knights: Spider-Man debuted this week. Another is the return of the “original graphic novel”: a story that was only reprinted in a larger format and never collected from regular issues. These are traditionally done-in-one books that used to be more magazine format and gave you a taste of the characters in a more isolated environment, and these are the books I think will probably lure more new readers into the fold. No commitment, just a complete story with the characters you already know in their own island-like adventure far from the shores of the Marvel universe.
This week saw the arrival of Avengers: Endless Wartime, written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Mike McKone. Interestingly enough, it has a foreword by Clark Gregg, good ol’ Agent Coulson. As he is a beloved figure from both the big screen and, more recently, on the new television ser Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I figured this would be an ideal start for Marvel fans from other media where Coulson is more present. Would he make an appearance in the book? Who is this targeted for? Join me after the break and find out.
WARNING: We’re talking Avengers: Endless Wartime ahead and I’ll try not to give away to many moments, but I’d still grab a copy and read along!
Marvel has released a trailer for Avengers: Endless Wartime, the upcoming original graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Mike McKone.
Announced in June, the hardcover is set within current continuity, as a mysterious threat arises in the nation of Slorinia with ties to the pasts of Captain America and Thor. Avengers: Endless Wartime arrives in October.
“There is no such goddamn thing. There is only getting up and doing it all over again, smarter and harder, until something ups and fucking kills you, because that’s the only thing big enough to stop you. This is The Great Work, and all you have to do is choose it, not look back and never fucking stop until you’re in your box, under the dirt and flowers are growing between your teeth.
And that is why I’ll never be asked to do motivational speaking. G’night.”
(via The Comics Reporter)
Warren Ellis’ new ebook Dead Pig Collector, whose original June 18 release was canceled when the author split with Mulholland Books, will now debut July 30 from Farrar, Straus & Giroux. While the new publisher was revealed last month, a release date hadn’t been announced.
The 99-cent crime novel will launch the publisher’s FSG Originals digital line, which GalleyCat reports will expand this fall with an ebook from Robin Sloan (Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore). FSG will publish Ellis’ first nonfiction book, Spirit Tracks, next year.
Here’s the synopsis for Dead Pig Collector, which features a cover by Ellis’ Fell collaborator Ben Templesmith: “Dead Pig Collector introduces readers to Mister Sun, a very proficient businessman whose trade is the murder and spotless removal of human beings. Like any businessman, he knows each transaction is only as good as his client—and today’s client, in Los Angeles, has turned out to be so dangerously stupid that Mister Sun’s work and life are now in jeopardy.”
Legal | The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar has appealed a court decision upholding his 2010 arrest and detention, claiming police acted in bad faith when they arrested him under the Sedition Act because of his book Cartoon-O-Phobia, which had not yet been released at the time of his arrest. No charges were ever filed, as the police could not identify any actual seditious content in the books. A court ruled in July 2012 that Zunar’s arrest was lawful but ordered the police to return the books they had confiscated and pay him damages. An appellate court will hear the case next week. [The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | Heidi MacDonald takes a look at Marvel’s new graphic novel line, which will launch in October with Warren Ellis and Mike McKone’s Avengers: Endless Wartime. [Publishers Weekly]