The GeeksverseNEWS Round-up | Week of February 8, 2013

NEWS Round-up | Week of February 8, 2013
Published on Friday, February 8, 2013 by
Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s official plot summary is released, His Airness gets a graphic novel biography, another round of DC cancellations, and more in the News Round-Up for the week of February 8.

“Release the Laimbeer!”

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Fantagraphics recently announced that they’ll be publishing Wilfred Santiago’s Michael Jordan: Bull on Parade in March of next year (h/t to Rob Mahoney of The Point Forward). The 200-page, full color, hardcover graphic novel will be the penultimate entry in what Santiago intends to be a trilogy of biographical graphic novels—the first entry, the critically-acclaimed 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente released in 2011, examined the life and career of the late Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder and the as-yet untitled third entry will be on the abolitionist John Brown—and as described by the comics creator in an interview with the fine folks at Comics Alliance:

It’s not an academic biography; the goals here are a bit different from other works written about Jordan. But also there is what can be said through the comics medium about a figure like Jordan. Although there were a number of Jordan comic books back in the 1990’s at the height of his popularity, I have the benefit of hindsight which works great when telling a biography. To be labeled the greatest of all time at anything, let alone professional basketball is a big label to carry. How does someone do it? How did he get to be the best at what he did?

The book looks real good judging from the preview images that accompany the Comics Alliance interview, with something of a Kyle Baker look to it. Also, “Release the Laimbeer!” might be the nucleus of a good playground basketball meme. We’re real interested to see how Santiago will tackle the disparity between the meticulously-crafted, Teflon-slick, Nike-endorsed Air Jordan persona and the pathologically-obsessed competitor and bullying locker room presence.

We’ve got one question for Fantagraphics, though: Where’s the graphic novel adaptation of Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden? (Which is, we’ll note, the greatest basketball-Final Fantasy-Quad City DJs mash-up of all time.)

Chris Pratt to play Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy

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After months of tiresome speculation, we finally have what is supposedly the final word on who will be playing Star-Lord in the big-screen adaptation of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Deadline is reporting that Parks and Recreation actor Chris Pratt has landed the role that, at various points, was rumored to be going to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Joel Edgerton, Jack Huston, Lee Pace, Jim Sturgess, Zachary Levi, and Eddie Redmayne. Pratt’s most recent film roles include supporting roles in Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty and the critically-panned ensemble comedy Movie 43. How’s that for range?

Guardians of the Galaxy will be directed by James Gunn (Super, PG Porn, Movie 43) and is slated for an August 1, 2014 release.

Former DA’s investigator caught allegedly selling stolen vintage comics

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A former investigator for the Harris County District Attorney’s office in Texas named Lonnie Blevins has been charged with theft after federal agents accused him of stealing and selling vintage comic books worth over a million dollars that were in use as evidence in a fraud investigation.

The comics belonged to Anthony Chiafalo, who is currently on trial for stealing over $9 million from Japanese heavy equipment manufacturer Tadano. Chiafalo allegedly spent part of his ill-gotten gains on vintage comic books and sports memorabilia, and the sequestered comics were being used by the prosecution as evidence of his embezzlement.

Court documents say that Blevins stole the comics from an evidence storage unit for the Chiafalo case, and then sold part of his haul to dealers at a Chicago comics convention for $70,000 and also tried to sell the remainder in San Antonio.

Diamond’s Bill Schanes stepping down

Diamond Comics Distributors Vice-President of Purchasing Bill Schanes is stepping down from his post, although he will be retained by the company in an advisory role for the rest of the year. He will be replaced by Executive Director of Purchasing John Wurzer. From the official press release:

“Deciding to step down was not easy,” said Schanes, “It’s been a wonderful and enjoyable ride! But after twenty-seven challenging and fulfilling years at Diamond, and forty-plus overall years in the comic industry, I’m looking forward to spending more time simply enjoying life.

Schanes (second from right) worked at Diamond Comics Distributors for 27 years (Image from: ICv2).

Schanes (second from right) worked at Diamond Comics Distributors for 27 years (Image from: ICv2).

Schanes co-founded Pacific Comics in 1971 with his brother Steve as a mail-order comics company. In 1981, Pacific began publishing its own line of original comics, most notably Jack Kirby’s Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers, Mike Grell’s Starslayer, Dave Stevens’ Rocketeer, and Sergio Aragonés’ Groo the Wanderer. After Pacific’s financial collapse in 1984, Bill Schanes joined Steve Geppi at Diamond Comics Distributors where he helped oversee the company’s rise as the dominant direct market comics distributor in North America.

“Caveat emptor” or “Jesus, not this guy again… “

Anybody who’s been following comics-based action figure news the past few years is probably familiar with Geoff Beckett and Shocker Toys. We won’t go over Shocker Toys’ notorious history here—there are only so many hours that we can devote to the News Round-ups—but this 2009 thread over at the Bleeding Cool forums can fill you in on the basics.

Anyway, the summary of events-thus-far is this:

  • Beckett, doing business as Shocker Toys, has repeatedly failed to deliver orders for paid product. In late 2012, online retailer Big Bad Toy Store canceled all pre-orders for undelivered Shocker Toys products going all the way back to 2009. (Full disclosure: The Comixverse is sponsored in part by Big Bad Toy Store.)
  • Beckett has been less than forthcoming with retailers and licensors for the reasons for those failures to deliver, blaming US Customs agents, Somali pirate raids, and Chinese factory fires on multiple occasions when prompted for the cause whilst providing nary a shred of reliable evidence to back up and confirm these claims.
  • Shocker Toys has a history of allegedly not paying their artists.
  • Beckett has cultivated a bit of a reputation of resorting to harassment and phony legal threats in some of his dealings with retailers.

Beckett has surfaced again, this time selling what he is calling “Create-Your-Own!” action figures via a GoFundMe crowd-funding campaign for a new company called GBJR Toys. The toys are clearly unpainted versions of the Jack Staff figure (see the comparison picture below) that Shocker Toys failed to deliver as per the terms of their licensing contract with Jack Staff creator Paul Grist. In the latest issue of Mudman, Grist writes that

The latest news is that Geoff is now running a Gofundme campaign for his toy line and is offering blank (unpainted) Jack Staff figures as a ‘Design your own Hero’ option for donations…

… I thought I should now give a word of caution to anyone who might be sending Geoff Beckett, Shocker Toys and/or GBJR Toys any money for toys.

Left: The "blank" action figure Geoff Beckett's GJBR Toys is selling via its GoFundMe campaign. Right: The Jack Staff figure Geoff Beckett's Shocker Toys failed to deliver to retailers and lost the license to make three years ago.

Left: The “blank” action figure Geoff Beckett’s GBJR Toys is selling via its GoFundMe campaign. Right: The Jack Staff figure Geoff Beckett’s Shocker Toys failed to deliver to retailers and lost the license to make years ago.

Just to make it clear:

  • Beckett, doing business as GBJR Toys, has a GoFundMe campaign where the intent is to produce and sell unpainted Jack Staff action figures he lost the license to years ago for failure to deliver.
  • Jack Staff creator Paul Grist isn’t going to get any money from this campaign and does not endorse any of Shocker Toys or GBJR Toys’ commercial endeavors. Despite this, GBJR Toys seems intent on selling toys based on Grist’s creation and using images of the Jack Staff action figure in their promotional material.
  • Given Shocker Toys’ prior history of failing to deliver paid/promised product, contributors to the GoFundMe campaign should be appropriately wary. Unlike Kickstarter, the project originator on GoFundMe gets to keep donated funds, regardless of whether or not the product is delivered. So caveat emptor, guys.

To read more about this latest episode of zaniness as well as Grist’s full account of how Beckett lost the Jack Staff license, check out the article from Bleeding Cool or better yet, pick up Mudman #6, out in stores this week from Image Comics.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s official plot summary tells us nothing we didn’t already know

Columbia Pictures officially revealed the plot synopsis for next year’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in a press release sent out Wednesday:

The sequel to last year’s critical and box office hit The Amazing Spider-Man, the film stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Shailene Woodley, Dane DeHaan, Colm Feore, Paul Giamatti, and Sally Field.

In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, for Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), life is busy – between taking out the bad guys as Spider-Man and spending time with the person he loves, Gwen (Emma Stone), high school graduation can’t come quickly enough. Peter hasn’t forgotten about the promise he made to Gwen’s father to protect her by staying away – but that’s a promise he just can’t keep. Things will change for Peter when a new villain, Electro (Jamie Foxx), emerges, an old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, and Peter uncovers new clues about his past.

The Paul Giamatti mention in the release confirms last week’s talk of the Sideways actor joining the film’s cast, although there is still no official word if he indeed will play the Rhino as has been rumored.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is set for a May 2, 2014 release.

Adventures of Superman might be just what you’re looking for

IGN has the scoop on Adventures of Superman, a new, weekly, digital-first anthology comic from DC Comics featuring Superman stories unconnected from the current “New 52″ continuity and designs. You read that right, folks. It’s Superman without the goofy blue Tron-suit, instead wearing the classic, goofy red Speedos over the blue longjohns.

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A print edition collecting the month’s three stories will be published at the end of each month. The first weekly story, debuting on April 29, will feature Aaron Johnston and science-fiction author Orson Scott Card on writing duties with art by Chris Sprouse and Karl Story. Other creators scheduled to work on future installments of the title include Dan Abnett, Ed Benes, Mitch Breitweiser, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Nathan Edmondson, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Christos Gage, Marc Guggenheim, Justin Jordan, Matt Kindt, J.T. Krul, Max Landis, Andy Lanning, David Lapham, Jeff Lemire, Michael Avon Oeming, Riley Rossmo, Stephen Segovia, Bruce Timm, Marcus To, and Marv Wolfman.

BOOYAKASHA! Activision lands TMNT license

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Gamespot‘s Eddie Makuch is reporting that cable TV network Nickelodeon and video game giant Activision have agreed on an international, multiyear deal that will see the latter produce and publish at least three video games based on Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series.

Nickelodeon’s CGI take on Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s anthropomorphic reptiles has been well-received by both the younger set and viewers old enough to have seen the original animated series—read our review of last year’s two-part pilot episode here—and sales of licensed merchandise looked good over the previous holiday season, at least anecdotally.

There’s no word yet on what game genre Activision’s TMNT game will fall under, but we’re fairly confident that we’ll see at least one four-player brawler down the line at some point (no Call of Duty-style FPSes, please!).

DC Comics cancels Deathstroke, Fury of the Firestorm, Savage Hawkman, Ravagers, Sword of Sorcery, and Team 7, surprising absolutely no one at this point

DC Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras and Editorial Director Bobbie Chase confirmed in a joint Comic Book Resources interview posted Thursday that Deathstroke, Fury of the Firestorm, Savage Hawkman, Ravagers, Sword of Sorcery, and Team 7 are all set to get the axe, news that doesn’t really surprise anyone at this point, seeing as how not a week passes by now that we don’t hear rumblings or confirmations of DC cancellations tied in with hastily-announced launches, all so the publisher can claim that they can sustain 52 ongoing titles at any given moment. DC’s fixation with the number is approaching numerology-obsessed-batshit-crazy-widowed-aunt levels. Will someone please tell Grant Morrison to stop spiking Dan Didio’s coffee with DMT?

The above cover comparison isn't really all that germane to the item being discussed, but we thought it would be fun to post it anyway.

The above cover comparison isn’t really all that germane to the item being discussed, but we thought it would be fun to post it anyway.

Oh, and in the same interview, the two Bobbies confirmed that Keith Giffen is off the Legion of Super-Heroes, even before his first solicited issue hit the stands. We called it as soon as Giffen was announced as the book’s new illustrator two months ago! (Although these days, predicting a DC creative team member getting taken off a book—in this case, before his work even hits the shelves—is about as prescient as predicting, oh, say, another of pro baseball’s big hitters getting entangled in a steroids investigation—ed.) We couldn’t have foreseen that his replacement is the guy he was supposed to take over from, though (current Legion of Super-Heroes artist Francis Portela). That’s some next-level fake-out, you’re-playing-checkers-but-we’re-playing-chess creative team shuffling right there. Harras and Chase are getting really good at this. Do they give out Eisners for this sort of thing?

Justice League film script “terrible,” says some guy on the Internet

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So, will the 2015 Justice League film count as a remake of the 1997 CBS pilot?

Badass Digest‘s Devin Faraci, citing the ever-popular, multiple unnamed “sources,” writes that the screenplay by Will Beall (Gangster Squad, Castle) for Warner Bros.’ upcoming ensemble superhero film Justice League has been thrown out for being “terrible.” The script—which purportedly has a five-person team of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Green Lantern going up against the villainy of Darkseid—allegedly failed to impress senior studio executives who seem hesitant to commit resources to the production unless the box-office performance of Zack Snyder’s upcoming Man of Steel can provide some reassurance that Justice League can do impressive numbers. (like The Avengers-type of numbers?—ed.)

Justice League is tentatively scheduled for a 2015 release.

In case you missed them: more February hardcover previews

We have two new previews of hardcovers set to go on sale later in the month:

Check them out!

That’s your NEWS Round-up for this week. Until next time, don’t forget to READ BETWEEN THE HYPE!
4 Responses
    • I can see why DC might be hesitant to put out a Justice League movie based on the less than memorable box office of Dark Knight Rises and the last Superman movie. Neither were making Marvel Avengers sized money. Although, they find themselves in a catch 22. Avengers made a huge amount of money, especially considering that it is the sixth or seventh movie in the franchise. One of the reasons Avengers movies did great is the cross promotion and interlinking characters. If DC isn’t committed to introducing a few characters in Man of Steel that will pop up in future Justice League, Batman, Green Lantern, or other hero movies then they will never rake in the size of the Marvel box office.

      Of course the internet may be against a script. Comic movies walk a fine line between making executives happy or making fans happy. Rare is the movie that can do both. Adapting any Darksied adventure to screen as a straight adaptation might excite the fandom but still turn off execs and potentially the average popcorn voyeurs.

      Personally, I want to see Gordon Levitt return to his Robin role and put on the Batcowl as Batman II. He’d make an interesting, different Batman. Perhaps he could be the teamwork Batman that Bruce Wayne always struggles to be. Perhaps this Robin character could evolve out of the Nolan trilogy and work well in a team movie mash up. However, no matter how good it is, the public outcry will call the movie crap for not having Bruce Wayne under the mask.

      If the unnamed sources are true–and given how the internet works they might or might not be—without committing to cross over the movies then the story and audience won’t be there at the end of Man of Steel credits salivating for what comes next. DC needs to have Gordon Levitt’s next Batman needs to pop up after the credits acting like Nick Fury to pull together a team. Otherwise, we may never see a Justice League film.

      Similarly, Spider-Man could make more money as a sequel if the internet rumors started buzzing that Nick Fury was going to show up and talk to the young hero. I know that Marvel leased out the characters to various studios back in the olden days when comic movies barely made money, but somehow Nick Fury needs to show up. I still think that the studios holding Spider-Man and Avengers separate would make more money if they just teamed up and allowed some interplay. The reboot of the Spidey franchise was a perfect point to begin building the young hero into the Avengers continuity. Looking at the decent but non-Avengers numbers of Amazing Spiderman’s Box Office it should be a no-brainer for the studios to partner up in some way. If they’d just let a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent carry in a S.H.I.E.L.D. dossier and say “We need to talk” at the end of the Amazing sequel credits that movie would triple its box office revenue.

      Both comic companies need to learn from the Avenger franchise successes.

      I still contend that Guardians of the Galaxy, with whoever winds up under Star Lords mask, will be the testing point for the Avengers franchise to see what the popcorn voyeurs will buy into. Since that Marvel title is less familiar the Hulk Spiderman, Avengers, Captain America, or Hawkeye it will be an interesting test.

      • Upcoming Disney/Marvel Studios films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man (if it ever gets made, it seems like it’s been in development limbo for a half-dozen years now) will indeed be interesting test cases as far as films based on relatively obscure superheroes go, but I think the modest-but-unmitigated success of films like Kick-Ass and the two Hellboy movies (not strictly superhero films, I know, but close enough, I think) gives execs something to emulate, where the lack of firm expectations that comes with audience unfamiliarity might make viewers more receptive to the film’s indiosyncrasies.

        I wonder if Hugh Jackman’s The Wolverine might have more of an uphill battle than Guardians of the Galaxy… the disappointing first film might have soured audiences to the burgeoning franchise, which is a shame, because it’s clear that Jackman really, really loves the character and the source material. Based on the interviews I’ve read, the guy knows his Claremont/Hama era Wolverine comics backwards and forwards… the protagonist’s cheap-looking CG claws and the disaster of a Deadpool redesign were just two of the first film’s more noticeable issues, but the main problem was that the director and the veritable squad of producers (which included Jackman) couldn’t agree on what direction they wanted the film to take.

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