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Heroes get back to nature in digitally manipulated photos

lapray-superman

It’s not often that we see superheroes enjoying some quiet time and communing with nature, most likely because that would make for some incredibly boring comic books. However, the concept leads to some lovely images, as photographer and digital artist Benoit Lapray demonstrates in his series “The Quest for the Absolute.”

Dropping costumed characters into (mostly) serene settings, Lapray creating scenes of Thor strolling in a lush forest, Spider-Man resting at the side of a winding mountain road, the Silver Surfer pondering a deep valley, Wonder Woman perching in the spray of a waterfall, and more.

Check out some of the images below, and more on Lapray’s website.

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‘JL8′: Kiddie Justice League, grown-up friendships

image

Comic book romances can be downright embarrassing. In the Silver Age, Lois Lane spent all her time scheming to get married to Superman while sniping at her rival Lana Lang. During the Claremont years, the soap opera-caliber drama in Uncanny X-Men generated as much angst as the mutant-prejudice angle. It works because the audiences were, respectively, small children and teenagers. The potential embarrassment of rejection and the alien nature of girls or boys really is all you know about love at that age. As an adult, however, it’s hard not to read these comics and go, “Why are these adult characters all acting like a bunch of 8-year-olds?”

You know when it’s not quite so embarrassing? When the characters themselves are 8 years old. Yale Stewart’s JL8 (formerly known as Little League) envisions the members of the Justice League as little kids. I don’t know how he gets away with it, as DC Comics already has its own “superheroes as little kids” concept with Tiny Titans (the publisher doesn’t appear to mind, though, as the webcomic seems to have led to a deal for a Superman book). The characters of JL8 look less abstract, though, resembling characters in an ’80s Saturday morning cartoon. (Justice League Babies?) Or, perhaps even more appropriately, they all seem to have leaped off the same character sheet as Art Adams’ X-Babies.

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Grumpy Old Fan | DC’s July looks toward the horizon

Whosoever holds this hammer...

Whosoever holds this hammer…

For a while it felt as if DC Comics was just going to talk about all its July books without ever soliciting them. News of Grayson and Robin Rising and relaunches of Suicide Squad and Teen Titans trickled out of the DC offices before the dam finally burst on Tuesday afternoon. (That’s why this week’s planned look at the “pilot episode” of Batman Eternal will have to wait.)

In fact, these solicitations are a little overstuffed, with a list of DC’s special September issues that lets us compare and contrast. Note too that while the September issues take place in The Future, they’re only two months removed from their July predecessors — so a good bit of current storylines may well be put on hold.

BECAUSE YOU LOVE THE NUMBERS

Here are the numbers. For the superhero line, DC is soliciting 42 regular ongoing series in July, plus the penultimate issue of Superman Unchained and an extra issue of Justice League. (It’s also putting out five annuals, five issues each of Batman Eternal and Futures End, a Harley Quinn special and the Robin Rising special, for a grand total of 61 single issues.) For September, there are 40 special Futures End tie-in issues, with 3-D covers like those on last year’s “Villains Month” comics. Basically, all the regular ongoing series except All Star Western, Justice League 3000 and Secret Origins get a Futures End issue in September. That doesn’t necessarily mean those three series are canceled, as none of them is part of Futures End’s “five years later” premise. September also includes a Booster Gold: Futures End issue, which one might reasonably think is a good indication of a new series for Booster — but I guess we’ll have to wait and see to be sure. Thus, July’s 42 ongoings, minus the three non-participating series, plus the Booster Gold issue, equal September’s 40 issues.

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‘If there’s a movie you’re gonna lose money on, make it Wonder Woman’

Falcon Halloween costume

Falcon Halloween costume

“When I first got this role I just cried like a baby because I was like, ‘Wow, next Halloween, I’m gonna open the door and there’s gonna be a little kid dressed as the Falcon.’ That’s the thing that always gets me. I feel like everybody deserves that. I feel like there should be a Latino superhero. Scarlett does great representation for all the other girls, but there should be a Wonder Woman movie. I don’t care if they make 20 bucks, if there’s a movie you’re gonna lose money on, make it Wonder Woman. You know what I mean, ’cause little girls deserve that. There’s so many of these little people out here doing awful things for money in the world of being famous. And little girls see that. They should have the opposite spectrum of that to look up to.”

Captain America: The Winter Soldier star Anthony Mackie, discussing playing the Falcon, and the need for more representation of women and minorities in superhero movies

Dustin Nguyen T-shirt offers new spin on Wonder Woman

nguyen-ww-cropped

Dustin Nguyen has revealed a T-shirt design that undoubtedly will be a must-buy for fans of the artist and of the classic Wonder Woman: “Wonder Woman: Transform,” capturing the character’s fast-spinning change from Diana Prince to the Amazing Amazon. See the full image below.

The shirt will be available “soon” from Graphitti Designs.

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Comics-inspired typographic prints might look good on your wall

poster-flash

Comics fans searching for a visually bold yet affordable way to liven up a room may find something that suits their tastes, and their budgets, from GeekMyWall, which offers a line of striking typographic posters inspired by comics characters.

Harley Quinn, Batman, Green Lantern, Rorschach, V — they’re all represented in prints beginning at 11 inches by 17 inches or $25. Each figure is created from character-appropriate quotes. For instance, Wonder Woman is, “Of all people, you know who I am … …who the world needs me to be. I’m Wonder Woman.” And The Flash: “‘I’m getting lectured on child safety from a man who’s gone through four Robins?”

They’re also available as T-shirts. And if the comic characters aren’t for you, there are plenty of television- and movie-themed options.

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Sideshow debuts Wonder Woman statue by Kris Anka

ww5

Sideshow Collectibles has unveiled its Wonder Woman Premium Format Figure, based on a design by X-Men artist Kris Anka.

“Handcrafted with austere beauty and fierce determination, Princess Diana of Themyscira dons her iconic costume of stars and stripes, sworn to protect the world and uphold her mantle as Wonder Woman,” the Sideshow description reads. “[...] She carries a long spear across her shoulders, and her iconic shield grasped firmly at her side – but above all, she carries the Amazons’ message of peace and justice.”

The Sideshow Exclusive version gives collectors the option of replacing Wonder Woman’s shield with a labrys. Both versions are priced at $399.99; preorders begin Thursday.

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Grumpy Old Fan | 10 from 2013, 10 for 2014

Lead On, O Bat Eternal

Lead On, O Bat Eternal

Time once again to revisit some thoughts about the year just ended, and offer some thoughts on the year to come.

First, let’s see how I did with 2013:

1. Man of Steel. Last year I asked “a) how well will it do with critics and moviegoers; and b) yes, of course, will it help set up Justice League?” It got a 55 percent (i.e., Rotten) ranking from Rotten Tomatoes (although 76 percent of RT visitors who cared to vote said they liked it).  Financially, Box Office Mojo called it a “toss-up,” putting it in the same category as Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z, The Wolverine, The Hangover Part III, Pacific Rim and, uh, The Smurfs 2. I liked it well enough — I seem to like a lot of things “well enough” — but perhaps Super-fan Jerry Seinfeld’s musings about missed opportunities speak best to the film’s reception. MOS itself didn’t help set up a Justice League movie, at least not as expressly as, say, Nick Fury talking about the Avengers; but I think it’s safe to say that the sequel will go a long way in that regard.
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Never mind Wonder Woman’s bracelets, check out this tiara ring

wonder woman ring

Pennsylvania jeweler Paul Bierker sure knows the way to the hearts of fanboys and fangirlt: After previously creating rings based on Star Wars and Adventure Time, the SUNY grad’s latest work is literally wonderful.

That’s real gold — and five real rubies. Unlike some other comic-themed adornments you’ve seen online, this isn’t a mock-up; this is real, and available now. You can buy this ring, starting from $595, at Bierker’s Etsy store; it’s available in sterling, gold, palladium and platinum alloys. You can check out some of his earlier creations below, and even more at Etsy.

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The Grumpy Color | Tom and Carla take apart 2013, Part 1

I heard they changed the ending to 'August: Osage County'

I heard they changed the ending to ‘August: Osage County’

Every year ROBOT 6 contributors Tom Bondurant and Carla Hoffman get together to talk about everything in Big Two superhero comics. Watch for Part 2 on Thursday.

Carla: Is it me or was 2013 crazy-busy? There were event comics, new titles, canceled titles, movies (plural for Marvel!),  TV shows and video games. It seems like there’s no escape from comics, making it harder and harder to get a general idea of the industry. Some days I kind of envy the indie comic fans as it must be a lot easier to handle comics as they come, as opposed to our gestalt juggernaut that is the Big Two. How much DC business could you comfortably follow before overwhelm set in?

Tom: Well, for starters, I pretty much skipped all of the video game and Cartoon Network developments, because I don’t have time for either area.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Twelve DCs of Christmas

The Old Man could change a fuse quicker than a jackrabbit on a date

The Old Man could change a fuse quicker than a jackrabbit on a date

Because it’s the day after Christmas, and I don’t want to write 1,500 words about Forever Evil and its Justice League tie-in — except to say they both felt a lot like stereotypical Lost, and not necessarily in a good way — here’s a stocking’s worth of number-based observations about DC past and present.

Twelve Crisis issues: I talk a lot about 1984-85′s Crisis on Infinite Earths, mostly because it so completely transformed not just DC’s shared-universe continuity, but its publishing philosophy. On its merits, Crisis is a mixed bag, pairing stunning visuals with a sometimes-flabby narrative. However, despite its sprawl, COIE ended up with a definite structure. The first four issues deal with a mysterious antimatter onslaught which destroys whole universes, apparently including the familiar Earth-One and Earth-Two. The final page of Issue 4 is nothing but black “smoke” clearing away, revealing blank white space. Issues 5 and 6 offer vignettes on the five surviving universes, as time periods intersect in “warp zones” and ordinary people see multiversal counterparts of departed loved ones. Issues 7 and 8 are, to put it bluntly, the Big Death issues, with Supergirl saving her cousin from the Anti-Monitor and the Barry Allen Flash destroying Anti-M’s latest doomsday weapon. Issues 9 and 10 feature the “Villain War” and a two-pronged time-travel assault on Anti-M’s efforts. That ends with a shattered, otherwise “blank” comics panel, as the Spectre wrestles Anti-M for control of history itself — and issues 11 and 12 feature the heroes of a new, singular universe fighting a final battle against the Anti-Monitor. Today’s decompressed (and sometimes decentralized) Big Events focus more on character moments and slow burns, and more often than not they don’t have to streamline fifty years of continuity, but Crisis remains a model for just how big an Event can be.
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Adorable ‘power couple’ souvenirs from Andie Tong’s wedding

andie tong9

It wasn’t that long ago that we showcased Paolo Rivera’s amazing Herge-inspired wedding invitation, and now we have some terrific souvenirs from the ceremony of Andie Tong.

The artist, whose work ranges from Spectacular Spider-Man (U.K.) to The Batman Strikes! to the upcoming Zodiac with Stan Lee and Stuart Moore, drew adorable “power couples” from comics and film for cards that were given to his wedding guests. Fans may quibble with Tong pairing Superman with Wonder Woman, rather than Lois Lane, but I imagine the guests were pleased with the favors.

With Tong’s permission, we’ve posted all of the illustrations below.

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Grumpy Old Fan | In a world …

Zibarro still around, so won't ask him later what "meta" mean

Zibarro still around, so won’t ask him later what “meta” mean

So much time, money and creative effort is spent to bring comic-book superheroes to moving-picture life that it’s almost backward to contemplate how those adapted environments could be translated back into comics form. Thanks to technology, live-action and animated adaptations are finding new ways to convince viewers they’re seeing powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.

And yet, these adaptations only go so far. Movies trade spectacle for (relative) brevity, offering two-plus hours of adventure every two to three years. The reverse is true for television, which is more prolific but often less earth-shattering. Both have to deal with practical considerations such as running time, actor availability, and the streamlining of complicated backstories. Thus, to borrow a phrase from politics, adaptations are often exercises in “the art of the possible.” By comparison, comics have much fewer limitations.

Therefore, comics versions of those adaptations must necessarily limit themselves, even if they only choose to work within some of those real-world limitations. Sometimes this is as simple as telling stories set within the adaptation’s version of continuity. However, sometimes comics are the most practical way to “continue” a well-liked adaptation, and thereby perpetuate its visual and tonal appeal.

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Grumpy Old Fan | Donna Troy brought data to life

The all-mod Wonder Girl, drawn by Nick Cardy

The all-mod Wonder Girl, drawn by Nick Cardy

Thanks to Tom Spurgeon, I read a fascinating article about “using Graph Theory to create a digital model of the whole of Marvel continuity,” from comics to TV and the current crop of movies. It maps out connections among characters — unsurprisingly, the three big groups relate to the X-Men, the Avengers, and Spider-Man — but it also discusses exceptions to characters’ defining traits. For example, Hawkeye is Clint Barton (or not), who is an archer (most of the time) and an Avenger (except when he’s a Thunderbolt). Marvel appears to be using this model to answer basic questions like “who is that?” and “how does s/he relate to this over here?” — with an ultimate goal of getting fans of its movies and TV shows to try the comics.

As you might imagine, this sort of analysis would have been ideal for the pre-New-52 status quo, whose five generations of characters (going from the original Justice Society to Damian Wayne) included many with multiple code names. Chief among these were the original Teen Titans who, following the examples of Dick Grayson and Wally West, graduated from sidekicks to “grownup” superheroes. Initially, logistical concerns facilitated these changeovers (we need a new Robin; we need a new Flash) — but in terms of the intersection of continuity and character development, none of the Titans had quite as much on her résumé as Donna Troy.

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Comics A.M. | Smart’s ‘Fish-Head Steve’ shortlisted for Roald Dahl prize

Fish-Head Steve

Fish-Head Steve

Awards | Jamie Smart’s Fish-Head Steve has been shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, the first comic to make the list in the six-year history of the award. The prize recognizes the funniest book for children in two age categories, and the final judges will be 200 children from schools around the United Kingdom. [Forbidden Planet]

Comics | Eric Margolis reports on the difficulties U.K. creator Darren Cullen had in getting his Kickstarter-funded comic (Don’t) Join the Army printed. The format was unusual, so some shops simply couldn’t do it, but printers also took exception to the comic itself, which was an “anti-recruitment leaflet” satirizing the British army. [Comic Book Legal Defense Fund]

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