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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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Grumpy Old Fan | Can ‘Superman/Wonder Woman’ justify its love?

A 20 percent gratuity will be added for parties over 16

A 20 percent gratuity will be added for parties over 16

This week sees the debut of Superman/Wonder Woman, the very existence of which brings into sharp relief a number of concerns about the treatment of both characters in the New 52. We’ll get into the specifics in a minute, but for now it may be enough to say that if the book had come out under a previous administration (say, the post-Infinite Crisis period, when the two leads were especially close friends), it might be enjoying a warmer overall reception. Superman/Wonder Woman #1 isn’t a bad comic book, but its premise — assuming the reader accepts it — does make for some awkward moments.

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Wonder Woman battles gunmen, mythical monster in new fan film

wonder woman pic

There have been a few Wonder Woman fan films in recent months, and while they’re generally well-made considering their shoe-string budgets, they tend to gloss over the character’s mythological elements and focus on her more grounded attributes. In short, undoubtedly due in large part to money, she’s reduced to a skilled fighter who can deflect bullets and kick the butts of generic gunmen (or Nazis).

But in the new short by Rainfall Films, we’re given a Wonder Woman of two worlds — one who confronts a minotaur (at least I think that’s what it is) on Themyscira and … kicks the butts of generic gunmen, only this time on the streets of a city in flames. The tone and technique have already been compared to Zack Snyder’s 300, and that seems fair, considering that green screens play heavily in both. And anyone who may be involved with the mythical Wonder Woman feature film or television revival might want to take notes when it comes to the costume.

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Six things DC Comics is doing right

AdventuresofSuperman1DC Comics hasn’t had a particularly good run of things lately. To be frank, the publisher has done blown it a number of times over the past few years. But don’t worry, DC fans — I’m sure it’ll soon be Marvel’s turn, as the two rivals seem to trade off every five years or so.

I’ve been calling out DC for the past couple of weeks, but that doesn’t mean everything it does strikes me as wrong. It’s important to declare shenanigans, but it’s also important to recognize when a publisher does something that’s good for comics.

So here are six things DC is doing right:

1. Digital comics: Legends of the Dark Knight and Adventures of Superman are digital-first anthology series that feature some excellent creators (from Jeff Parker and Chris Samnee to J.M. DeMatteis and Jeff Lemire) producing completely accessible and entertaining stories that stand on their own; no college course on the New 52 or Crisis on Infinite Earths required. Yes, these stories are out of continuity — so for a percentage of readers, they don’t count. That’s a mistake, because there’s nothing wrong with a straight-up superhero tale that exists on its own terms. These two anthologies are the gems of DC’s digital-first line-up, but Batman ’66 and Batman: Li’l Gotham also offer fantastical takes on the iconic Caped Crusader that are bright and fun. For those exhausted by the angsty versions of serious stories, you owe it to yourself to check these out.

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Wonder Woman and Sailor Moon face off in epic dance battle

sailor-moon-wonder-woman

In one of the most incredible crossovers ever, Wonder Woman and Sailor Moon faced off in an epic dance battle during the 2013 Streetstar dance festival in Stockholm, Sweden. The two dancers — France’s Lasseindra (Wonder Woman) and Finland’s Ida “Inxi” Holmgren (Sailor Moon) — went up against one another in the Vogue Femme Final Battle dressed in full costumes. Although the competition took place back in February, the video was only posted last month on Streetstar’s YouTube page, and showcases some incredible impressive dancing, bringing a crossover battle the likes of which have yet to be seen in a comic.

The battle routine takes place over the course of seven minutes, and it gets progressively more and more ridiculous, showcasing nigh-superheroic invulnerability to floor impact until a winner is crowned.

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Nigel Auchterlounie pitches a Wonder Woman film in nine panels

ww pitch

The Internet is littered with the corpses of dead Wonder Woman movie pitches; heck, just within the last couple of weeks, Chronicle writer Max Landis let it be known during a Reddit AMA session that he intends to approach Warner Bros. soon. This morning, U.K. comics creator Nigel Auchterlounie posted this on his blog, linking to it on Twitter with the wise words “I’ve worked out how to do a #WonderWoman, took half an hour. DC could probably do better if they spent all day on it”.

For 30 minutes’ work, it’s not bad at all. That opening image reminded me of Zenith Book One: Tygers, so I asked him if it was a deliberate reference. He replied, “No. It must have been a subconscious thing. I loved Zenith so it is up there somewhere.” Auchterlounie stresses that this isn’t the movie the studio should make, but if he can come up with this on the spot in one morning, how hard can it be for Warner Bros. to figure it out with people working on the project full time? It’s a fair point: Both Warner’s television and movie wings have crashed multiple versions of Wonder Woman in recent years. Clearly people there have developed a severe case of the Yips over this character, while every comic reader slaps their forehead in disbelief.

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‘Wonder Woman: Iron’ showcases Chiang & Lee’s Orion designs

jim lee-orion

Arriving on shelves Wednesday, Wonder Woman, Vol. 3: Iron not only collects issues 0 and 13-18 of the DC Comics series but also includes such behind-the-scenes material as Cliff Chiang’s character designs for Orion and a rough sketch for the zero issue splash page. While much of the art debuted last year at New York Comic Con during the “Concept to Page” panel, the trade paperback also features Jim Lee’s take on Orion, which DC has provided exclusively to ROBOT 6, along with some of Chiang’s art. You can see it all below.

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