The GeeksverseNEWS Round-up | Nov. 4–9, 2012

NEWS Round-up | Nov. 4–9, 2012
Published on Friday, November 9, 2012 by
Artists help with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, DC sets a new standard for variant cover excess, Locke & Key gets a movie trilogy, the longest-running Vertigo title gets canceled, Mark Hamill talks about playing the Joker, and more in this week’s NEWS Round-up.

Comics artists help with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts

Marvel Entertainment junior art director Rich Ginter is spearheading a comics-themed initiative to raise funds for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. He has collected art contributions from major names in the comics industry such as Stuart Immonen (Ultimate Spider-Man), Paolo Rivera (Daredevil), Tommy Lee Edwards (Marvel 1985), John Paul Leon (Earth X), Rags Morales (Wonder Woman), Billy Tan (Uncanny X-Men), Tony Moore (Walking Dead), Mico Suayan (Batman: Arkham Unhinged), Mike Hawthorne (Battlepug), Jason Latour (Noche Roja), and more, and they are now up for bid at the art4relief eBay page. All proceeds from sales will go to local charity fundraising programs such as the Steven Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation‘s Hurricane Relief Fund. Below are just some of the original art pieces that you can bid on (click to view in larger size):

Justice League of America #1 will have 52 variant covers

Well, you really have to give it to DC Comics for running with the whole “52” thing. According to a report posted on MTV Geek Monday, Justice League of America #1, set for release on February 2013 with a creative team headlined by writer Geoff Johns and artist David Finch, will have 52 variant covers—one for each state, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico—as the publishing firm’s way of celebrating “the country, as well as the various states,” according to DC Comics executive Dan DiDio. And flooding the market, Dan, don’t forget to celebrate flooding the market. “But,” I can hear you, the smart and astute Comixverse reader, ask, “wouldn’t it be better to have just one cover symbolically celebrating the country’s unity?” To which the tiny Dan Didio projection living in your head retorted, “What are you, some kind of communist?”

DC is hoping that misplaced patriotism and bad budget prioritization will be enough to get readers to buy 51 copies of a comic they already own.

Also, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands will just have to deal with it, as—unlike Puerto Rico—they apparently don’t count as inhabited American territories on the alternate Earth where DC’s marketing team lives. Or maybe having 56 variant covers just doesn’t work with DC’s monomaniacal obsession with the number 52. Whatever. Anyway, you better start saving your shekels if you plan on “investing” in all the variant Justice League of America #1s that will surely rise exponentially in value 20 years from now, just like the thousands of savvy comics collectors who made mad, mad bank from reselling their complete set of near-mint/mint copies of  the five direct market variants of 1991’s X-Men #1. Wait, did I write “rise exponentially in value”? My bad, I meant to write, “sell for a little more than half of the original cover price.”

Troy Osgood says: This isn’t the first time this many variants have been produced. IDW’s Godzilla and Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man did a store variant, but that was just the same cover with a blank spot for the store logo. Will DC follow that philosophy and produce the same cover with a blank spot for state flag or will there be 52 unique covers? If it’s 52 unique covers, that’s just ridiculous.

Vibe and Katana to get solo books

Still sticking with the aforementioned MTV Geek report, DC Comics also announced that JLA members Vibe and Katana will be getting on-going solo titles. MTV Geek’s Valerie Gallaher posits that the two books will make the DC Universe “more inclusive” (Vibe is Puerto Rican and—depending on the writer—gay, while Katana is a Japanese woman) but that’s not really a given. The avoidance of stereotypes, positive or negative, matters when it comes to the superhero portrayals of ethnic and cultural minorities. Eagle and Inkpot Award recipient George Pérez, who illustrated Justice League of America for an extended run in the early 1980s, had this to say about Vibe in a 1985 interview with Heidi McDonald:

I sincerely say [that Vibe is] the one character who turned me off the JLA. If nothing else, every character that was introduced [during that period] was an ethnic stereotype. I couldn’t believe it. I said, “Come on now!” These characters required no thinking at all to write. And being Puerto Rican myself, I found the fact that they could use a Puerto Rican character favorable since the one Puerto Rican character in comics that existed, [Marvel Comics’] White Tiger, is no longer a viable character. But having him be a break dancer! I mean, come on now. It’s like if there were only one black character in all of comics, are you going to make him… A tap dancer, a shoeshine boy? Particularly when you’re picking a stereotype that’s also a fad. You’re taking a chance that this guy is going to become very passé, his costume becomes passé because it’s a breakdance costume, the minute the fad fades.

Will Vibe and Katana break out of the twofer token minority ghetto? You’ll have to read the books or wait for our reviews to find out. Both books are slated for a February 2013 debut; Vibe will be written by Arrow executive producer Andrew Kreisberg and illustrated by Pete Woods (Robin, Superman: Last Son of Krypton) while Katana will have long-time Daredevil scribe Ann Nocenti and JSA Classified artist Alex Sanchez on board.

Troy Osgood says: Since when have Vibe and Katana been fan favorite characters? Their pre-New 52 counterparts weren’t hugely popular and in fact Vibe was one of the most hated characters ever. The New 52 versions? How can a character that’s only appeared in a couple of pieces of art be called a fan-favorite? Marketing at it’s best.

Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino take over Green Arrow

Animal Man and Justice League Dark writer Jeff Lemire announced on his blog that he and artist Andrea Sorrentino (I, Vampire) will be taking over Green Arrow in issue #17 (February 2013). Apparently, the clues were there for us to see all the way back to this year’s New York Comic-Con.

Troy Osgood says: This is the 3rd or 4th creative team change on Green Arrow in 17 issues. Not good. This is one of DC’s A-List characters and they can’t settle on a direction?

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Pt.2 gets a release date

IGN is reporting that the second half of the animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns will be available on DVD, Blu-Ray, and video-on-demand on 29 January 2012.The first installment of the two-part feature was released 25 September 2012.

Locke & Key to be adapted as a movie trilogy

Fringe, Transformers Prime, and Hawaii Five-O executive producer Roberto Orci confirmed on Twitter earlier this week that he and frequent collaborator Alex Kurtzman will be producing a movie trilogy based on Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s excellent horror comic Locke & Key (IDW Publishing). Last year, Orci produced the pilot episode of a planned episodic TV adaptation of the comic but executives at Fox decided not to pick up the show. You can see the trailer for the aborted series below:

Details as to the first film’s cast and crew and planned release dates have yet to materialize, but I’m hoping that they keep Ksenia Solo as Dodge from the unaired TV pilot.

Troy Osgood says: Love Ksenia Solo in Lost Girl. If you’re not reading this series, what’s wrong with you?

V for Viral

V for Vendetta and Watchmen author Alan Moore released a nice little ditty entitled “The Decline of English Murder,” on Guy Fawkes Night, 5 November 2012. Moore has been known to sing with a band from time to time, but this is his first officially recorded single. The song can be downloaded at the Occupation Records website, with CD and vinyl pressings to follow (customers who bought the single on Nov. 5 were entered in a draw to win a “V”-styled Guy Fawkes mask signed by Moore).

Rumors that Occupation Records plans to hire J. Michael Straczynski to sing on a follow-up single called “Before the Decline of English Murder” seem to be unfounded.

Exploring the DC Zeros

Did you read all the Zero issues DC recently released? No? Well, apparently DC didn’t expect you to. At the end of all the “New 52″ books shipping this month is a two-page spread that will get you caught up on the important moments that happened from 15 different titles.

Why were these moments picked and what do they mean? Comic Book Resources has saved you a lot of time and broken down each image and provided commentary about them. There’s a lot of speculation and possible wishful thinking. With the frequency that DC changes creative teams of late, though, there’s no guarantee that any of the current writers will be around to see these presumed future developments through.

From the Ashes… again

Artist Chris Bachalo confirmed on his blog recently that he will be illustrating a relaunched Uncanny X-Men title set to go on sale on February. If you’ve been out of the X-loop the past few years, yes, the original Uncanny X-Men series that dated back to September 1963 “ended” with last year’s Uncanny X-Men #544, although it wasn’t long before a new, renumbered series bearing the same title debuted. That series lasted 20 issues. And now, in a clear case of life imitating art, Uncanny X-Men is set to be resurrected again, just like Jean Grey, Psylocke, Magik, Cyclops, Professor X, Mimic, Havok, Iceman, Beast, Polaris, Wolverine, Storm, Sunfire, Colossus, Kitty Pryde, Magneto, Cannonball, Marrow, Nate Grey, Northstar, Emma Frost, Mystique, Warpath, Karma, Boom Boom, Ariel, Cypher, Warlock, and a host of other X-Men and their allies were at various times over the years. Meta!

Bunn talks Fearless Defenders

Newsarama’s Albert Ching caught up with Cullen Bunn (Sixth Gun) to talk about his new stint writing the upcoming Fearless Defenders comic from Marvel. The series will feature an all-female superhero team headlined by Valkyrie and Misty Knight. A highlight from the interview:

Nrama: Also, what’s the significance, to you, of writing an all-female team?  That’s a big deal in superhero comics, and clearly something that happened by coincidence. There’s a lot of importance and responsibility in that, given the climate of the industry.

Bunn: This is an idea that I came up with when I was working on Fear Itself: The Fearless. I was probably writing the sixth issue or so when this dawned on me. I came up with the idea that Valkyrie might have to replace the Valkyrior with women from the Marvel Universe, and when that idea dawned on me, I did not approach it as, ‘This is my opportunity to tell a story with an all-female team.’ I approached it as, ‘This is a great opportunity to tell some really cool stories, some things that I think would be exciting.’

That said, now that it’s actually happening several months later, it is not lost on me that it is important to treat these characters with respect; to make them real characters. I’m not a writer who’s going to sit back and say, ‘I want to write a good all-female team,’ I just want to write a good team, and approach them as real people, and build some personality into some of these characters, and try to develop a fanbase for a lot of these characters who, in some cases, people may not have been exposed to at all yet.

I think there are a lot of great female characters in the Marvel Universe who have not been given the chance they need, because maybe they can’t support a book all on their own, or maybe they’ve been on a team and they’ve been kind of lost in the shuffle for, in some cases, many, many, many years. This is my opportunity to put them all together, and to give them the spotlight.

Fearless Defenders #1 will hit comic book shops in February of next year. Will Sliney (MacGyver, Farscape) is tasked with the book’s art duties.

Troy Osgood says: This book moved to the top of my “must get” pile of Marvel Now!. I like Bunn a lot and love Valkyrie. The premise sounds interesting. I’m surprised they didn’t tap a female writer to handle this book, as that seems to be the normal practice.

Aw, Hell(blazer) Naw!

The Associated Press is reporting that DC/Vertigo cornerstone occult title Hellblazer will end with the series’ 300th issue this coming February, and a new title, Constantine—set firmly in the DC superhero universe—will launch in its place. That sound you just heard? The notoriously loyal and vocal Hellblazer fan community letting out a collective “What the FUUUUUUUUUUU… ” A version of Hellblazer protagonist John Constantine already exists in DC’s superhero universe as a member of Justice League Dark, but the end of the Vertigo Hellblazer title and the subsequent debut of Constantine marks a consolidation of the property as it appears in comics. The new Constantine series will be written by Robert Venditti (The Surrogates) and drawn by Renato Guedes (Wolverine).

It’s not just the readers who are decrying this latest move in DC’s continued reorganization of its superhero stable. Writer Warren Ellis wrote on his Twitter account:

HELLBLAZER cancelled, replaced by PG version. Sad to see that place for British horror stories go.

Long-time Hellblazer writer Andy Diggle posted a series of Tweets lamenting the end of the Vertigo series, writing that he is

… desperately sad to hear that Hellblazer will be coming to an end after 300 issues. I cannot overstate the importance of that book, and the character of John Constantine, not only to my work but to my worldview.

Harvey Award-winning writer David Gallaher was similarly disappointed with the news of the book’s impending cancellation:

Bummed about the loss of Hellblazer. Image Comics has largely made Vertigo irrelevant. Can’t say I’m surprised.

Former Vertigo Comics editor and current Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso had this to say on Twitter:

Vertigo “Hellblazer” cancelled for DCU relaunch!? NOOOOOO!!!!!

Fans of the Vertigo version of the character can only hope that he manifests himself in the physical plane like he did (twice!) for his creator Alan Moore and convince DC executives to reconsider their plans.

Troy Osgood says: What is DC thinking? Yes, they want to move some of the characters that led to the creation of Vertigo (Constantine, Swamp Thing) back into the main DCU but why? But is the potential gain better then the potential loss? Readers of the Vertigo title will not necessarily follow the character “back” to the DCU.

Mark Hamill on playing the Joker and the Trickster on TV

The AV Club’s Nathan Rabin interviewed actor Mark Hamill about the various roles he’s played over the years. Hamill, a lifelong comic book fan, talked about his approach to his portrayal of the Joker on Batman: The Animated Series:

… my Joker is old-school, from the comic books: He’s wildly theatrical, he’s wildly flamboyant, yet he’s all over the place. He can get dark and gritty and malevolent and scary and he can be over the top. Each script seemed to be a separate entity to me.

In the interview, Hamill also talks at length about how he got the part of the Trickster on the short-lived live-action Flash TV show from 1991.

2 Responses
    • Something else about the Hellblazer change I thought about… Why couldn’t it remain a Vertigo book, a mature readers title, and still take place in the DCU? Nothing says that Zatanna couldn’t guest star in the Vertigo book.

      • I’m not really opposed to the the idea of DC deciding to end Hellblazer… 300 issues is a long, long run, and maybe they’d felt the creative team had said all they can with the book. Better to end a book than have to have it limp on indefinitely as a shadow or even a parody of its former self, which happens all too often (book re-numbering and re-launching aside).

        What bothers me about this is what looks like is happening, big picture-wise: DC is funneling three of their most successful Vertigo characters—John Constantine, Swamp Thing, Animal Man—into the mainstream DCU, cannibalizing what is (was) an imprint synonymous with challenging, innovative, groundbreaking, and genre-diverse comics for the sake of propping up the shared-universe superheroics of the New 52 or whatever it is they want to call it now. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Morpheus and Death eventually show up as members of Justice League Dark (such a hilarious title for a book, by the way, “ooooh, look at us, we’re all dark and edgy superheroes,” although I don’t know if that was DC’s intent).


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