DC Releases Designs for ‘Earth Two’ Batman and Robin !!!

If not the most eagerly anticipated of DC Comics’ “New 52″ second wave titles launching in May, Earth 2 is definitely the most mysterious. It bears the name of DC’s popular Silver Age alternate earth, where the heroes of The Golden Age grew old in real time after DC stopped publishing their original adventures, a world that was off-limits for about 20 years after 1986′s Crisis On Infinite Earths before reappearing in various forms in recent years. After the New 52boot, in which DC once again reset their continuity and rejiggered their cosmology, fans have little idea what to expect from New 52 Earth 2, although DC started giving more clues this week in the form of Jim Lee’s costume design for Batman and Kevin Maguire’s design for Robin.

Earth Two‘s Batman previously appeared in the Ivan Reis-drawn variant cover for the first issue, which the publisher released with their solicitations for the book, fighting Parademons alongside a Superman and Wonder Woman.

All three were in different costumes, and Batman’s look seemed to suggest it might be Dick Grayson under the cowl, given that he was fighting with the stick-like weapons Grayson often employed as Nightwing, and the design of his tunic echoed that of Nightwing’s costume.

In the newly released design sketch by Jim Lee, we see Batman again bearing a stick-and wearing little holster’s for them on his thighs, but the upcoming book’s editor Pat McCallum teased the indentity of the character thusly, “Yeah, there is a Wayne under the mask.”

The best guess for Earth Two Batman’s identity is now probably the current “Earth One” Robin Damian Wayne, all grown up, as Bruce Wayne would be a senior citizen on Earth Two (he has a grown daughter in The Huntress, after all). McCallum also mentions that this Batman will kill his enemies and that “EARTH 2 is about to become a very bad place to be a bad guy.” Ruthless crime-fighting and lethal force is something Damian Wayne has resorted to in the past… and in a past alternate future (Comics!).

Today DC released their next Earth Two character design, a Robin by Worlds’ Finest artist Kevin Maguire:

Today’s tease was accompanied by a few quotes from Earth Two writer James Robinson, confirming that it is indeed The Huntress Helena Wayne in the image, if the fact that her costume blends the current Huntress costume with Tim Drake’s Robin costume wasn’t enough of a clue (or the fact that we got a glimpse of Helena as Robin on a previously released cover for Worlds’ Finest #1)

What else to we know about Earth Two, at this point? Only that Powergirl and The Huntress have come to the New 52iverse from there, PG was apparently Supergirl just as Huntress used to be Robin and what DC’s original announcement said about the upcoming book:

Earth 2 – Writer: James Robinson. Artist: Nicola Scott. The greatest heroes on a parallel Earth, the Justice Society combats threats that will set them on a collision course with other worlds.

We’ll update you with more Earth 2 character designs as DC releases them. In the mean time, what do you guys think of the new Dynamic Duo’s costumes?

[Via The Source]

 

Tags:   BatmanDamian WayneDamianWayneDick GraysonDickGraysonEarth TwoEarthTwoHuntressJames RobinsonJamesRobinsonJim LeeJimLeeKevin MaguireKevinMaguireNew 52New52Nicola ScottNicolaScott

Read More: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2012/02/28/earth-2-batman-design-jim-lee-costume/#ixzz1nhlmYegg

Another New Spider-Man Costume Coming Your Way This Spring

Everyone knows that Spider-Man got his powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. I’m beginning to wonder if maybe he wasn’t also bitten by a radioactive clotheshorse, given the frequency of his costume changes. From the look of the teasers released by Marvel Comics, the latest Spider-Man costume will debut this spring in the Amazing Spider-Man story arc “Ends of The Earth.”

Marvel released teaser images for the story arc throughout last week, including one for March’s Amazing Spider-Man #682 showing Peter Parker donning new gear…

…and another seemingly revealing it from the waist up…

Fans may note some similarity to the latest Venom design, albeit with a friendlier neighborhoodlier color scheme based around red rather than black.

Spidey’s most famous costume change came, of course, during 1984′s Secret Wars crossover series, in which he donned a black and white costume that set off a firestorm of excitement and controversy among fans at the time, and which ultimately proved so popular that when Spidey changed back into his original togs, the costume went on to become a popular villain.

During the 90s, there were a couple of other Spider-Man costumes, but there are clones involved, and we should probably just never speak of this period of Spider-Man comics.

In the ramp up to 2006′s Civil War event series, Spidey got another brand-new costume, debuting a red-and-gold “Iron Spider” costume designed by his then-boss and patron Iron Man. That one featured three retractable mechanical limbs, which gave him a grand total of, um, seven limbs. Which was close enough, I guess.

That one was a little less popular, owing perhaps to the fact that it was usually colored gold and maroon and included a pair of spats, and ultimately only lasted until about halfway through Civil War, when Spider-Man rebelled against Iron Man and changed clothes to prove it.

Just last year, Spidey donned a new black suit, this one featuring neon highlights rather than white ones. This stealth suit was created specifically to battle the new Hobgoblin, and as such was one of Spidey’s more functional costumes, to be used as needed (Like his original Spider-Armor).

And speaking of armor, he got a new suit of that last year, too.

Last year also saw Spidey joining Fantastic Four spin-off group The Future Foundation at the request of his temporarily dead friend The Human Torch, and he was given a white, FF-branded version of his costume to match the rest of the team.

Not unlike the multi-costumed Wolverine, Spidey would then have to wear a particular costume on a particular day, depending on which of his several super-teams he was working with.

And, finally, 2011′s big event series Fear Itself included points where various characters were upgraded with new powers and designs, including “The Worthy” (the bad guys) and “The Mighty.” Spider-Man was one of the latter, and therefore got another new costume.

At this rate, the “Ends of the Earth” costume probably won’t be the end of the new outfits Spider-Man tries out this year. Perhaps he’ll even get a formal outfit in time to walk the red carpet at the opening of the Amazing Spider-Man film. Oh wait, I think he may already have a Spider-Tux…

What do you think of Spider-Man’s newest new costume? Let us know if the comments.

[Via Comic Book Resources/Marvel]

 

Tags:   Amazing Spider-ManAmazingSpider-manEnds of The EarthEndsOfTheEarthSpider-Manspider-man costumeSpider-manCostume

Read More: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2012/02/07/spider-man-new-costume-comics/#ixzz1lkTJeva5

DC’s Captain Marvel Officially Changing His Name To SHAZAM !!!!

When Captain Marvel finally makes his belated entry into DC’s September-launched New 52 iverse, he’ll do so with one rather big change: He’ll no longer be Captain Marvel, but Shazam. Writer and DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, who will be reintroducing the character in the “Curse of Shazam” back-up strip that will begin running in March’s Justice League #7, explained the name change in a Newsarama interview.

“Well, there are a lot of reasons for the change,” Johns said. “One is that everybody thinks he’s Shazam already, outside of comics. It’s also, for all sorts of reasons, calling him Shazam just made sense for us. And, you know, every comic book he’s in right now has Shazam on the cover.”

If one of those reasons seems a little vague, Johns does promise that the change will make sense within the story itself, which Johns is creating with his Action Comics and Batman: Earth-One artist collaborator Gary Frank.

This also isn’t the first time DC has tried to change the Captain’s name in order to make the name of the star match the title of the comic.

The character was originally created in 1940 for the long-defunct publisher Fawcett Comics, who ceased publication of their Captain Marvel in the early 50s under legal pressure from DC Comics, who claimed the character infringed on Superman. In 1967, while that Captain Marvel was still in publishing limbo, Marvel Comics created their own character with the name of “Captain Marvel,” and trademarked it. So when DC eventually gained the rights to publish former rival Fawcett’s Captain Marvel, they couldn’t call him that on the covers of any books featuring him.

Instead DC has focused on “Shazam,” which is both the name of the ancient wizard who granted young orphan Billy Batson the magical ability to transform into the Superman-like Captain Marvel and the magic word by which the transformation is affected. So DC’s 1970s revival was titled simply Shazam!, and over the years we’ve seen books entitled The Power of Shazam, Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil, The Trials of Shazam, Billy Batson and The Magic of Shazam and now, of course, Johns and Frank’s upcoming Curse of Shazam.

It was during 2006′s Trials series, by writer Judd Winick, that DC most recently tried changing the Captain’s name. In that story, Captain Marvel took the place of the dead wizard Shazam, taking the still legally problematic name “Marvel.” Meanwhile Captain Marvel’s protegee, Captain Marvel Jr., took over for Captain Marvel, and started going by the name “Shazam.” (If the previous sentences don’t make a whole lot of sense, you can see why Winick’s reorganization of the franchise didn’t last long).

 
Johns’ stated reasons for the change are probably depressingly telling of DC Comics’ increased focus on turning their comics line into something of an intellectual property farm for corporate owners Warner Brothers to exploit in other media, adopting the model Marvel also took on in the aughts when various Hollywood studios combed through The House of Ideas’ character catalog looking for raw material for blockbuster franchises.

Everyone “outside of comics” thinks Captain Marvel is Shazam anyway, and the long under-discussion movie, which Johns also discusses in the same interview, will also be called Shazam, so why not just change the character’s name to fit public perception?

Depending on how dramatically Johns reboots Captain Marvel’s origin, the name-change could prove rather problematic for the character in the story itself. After all, every time Billy Batson says “Shazam,” there’s a roar of thunder, and he’s struck by a bolt of magical lightning, transforming him into Captain Marvel. And every time Captain Marvel says “Shazam,” the same thing happens, only he transforms back into Batson. But if the word that gives him power doubles as his code name, will Batson be afraid to speak it for fear of exposing his secret identity, thereby rendering him powerless?

What do you think about the name change? Let us know in the comments.

[Via Newsarama]

 

Tags:   Captain MarvelCaptainMarvelCurse of ShazamCurseOfShazamGary FrankGaryFrankGeoff JohnsGeoffJohnsShazam

Read More: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2012/01/30/dc-captain-marvel-name-change-shazam/#ixzz1kyYBrm4a

Some Thoughts on the Possibility of a Live-Action ‘Green Arrow’ TV Series. Are You Hoping To See It Made?

Green Arrow is the latest DC Comics superhero being considered to star in a live-action television series of his own. According to Entertainment Weekly, The CW network is “close” to ordering a pilot for a series featuring the Emerald Archer, currently under development by Greg Berlanti, March Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg. Green Arrow joins a relatively long list of DC superheroes who may make the move to TV, a list that includes Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Teen Titan Raven, The Spectre and Deadman (Of course, Aquaman and Wonder Woman also trudged through development hell, but never made it past the pilot stage).

Given the seeming simplicity of a Green Arrow show (“Think Batman, only with arrows instead of Batarangs!”) and the lack of special effects needed to make viewers believe a man can wear a green costume and shoot arrows, you’d think such a series would have an easier time getting greenlit than some of the other proposed shows featuring more fantastical characters.

But a Green Arrow television series comes with some potential complications, not the least of which are the current economic climate and a certain archer who’ll be seen in the flesh this summer in a little movie called Avengers.

While Green Arrow has never had his own show before, he’s no stranger to the small screen. Jason Hartley played the character on The CW’s Superman-before-he-was-Superman show Smallville, appearing in 72 episodes in the second half of the show’s ten-year run. Of the many not-Superman superheroes to have been introduced on Smallville, Hartley’s Green Arrow would seem the one best poised for a spin-off series. The character also enjoys some notoriety for his prominent roles in animated series like Cartoon Network’s various Justice League cartoons and episodes of The Batman and Batman: The Brave and The Bold.

1. Off-Brand Batman

While his color scheme and weapon of choice are both patterned off of Robin Hood, Green Arrow was created in 1941 as something of a Batman knock-off. Not only was Oliver Queen a millionaire playboy by day and an urban vigilante by night, he also palled around with a Robin-like boy sidekick, tooled around in The Arrowcar, flew around in The Arrowplane and parked them both in The Arrowcave.

As an off-brand Batman — albeit one with the credibility of also being a DC Comics character who used to sit across the Justice League meeting table from the actual Batman — a Green Arrow TV series might be well situated to capitalize on any Dark Knight Rises-inspired Batmania this year.

And for all the elements that Green Arrow shares with the Dark Knight, Oliver seems a heck of a lot easier to base a TV show around. His costume isn’t as challenging to produce as Batman’s head-to-toe plastic and rubber armor, with its bat-shaped cowl and sometimes-CGI cape, and GA’s base of operations (the fictional Star City or occasionally Seattle) isn’t as fantastical as the Gothic gargoyle garden that is Gotham City.

Green Arrow also lacks Batman’s colorful rogues’ gallery full of difficult make-up jobs, like Two-Face, The Joker, Killer Croc, Clayface and so on.

Finally, a Green Arrow series wouldn’t have to live up to the reputation of a couple of feature film franchises nor a classic live-action TV show, the way that a new Batman TV show might. Expectations, obviously, would be a lot lower and, thus, easeir to meet.

2. Hawkeye

If The CW does pull the trigger on a GA pilot and proceed to order a season’s worth of shows, it will be interesting to see how the world might react to DC’s super-archer starring on the small-screen while Marvel’s super-archer stars on the silver screen in The Avengers and its inevitable sequels.

Green Arrow predated Hawkeye by well over 20 years, but the characters are extremely similar. In addition to both being non-superpowered men whose main claim to fame is how well they can aim arrows, they are both long-time members of their respective publishers’ premier super-teams: GA is to the JLA as Hawkeye is to The Avengers.

Complicating matters, the two characters have been visually converging for much of the past decade. While Green Arrow generally always dressed like Robin Hood, Hawkeye used to wear an all-purple costume that included a loin cloth, a Wolverine-like cowl and had a big “H” on his forehead. But when artist Bryan Hitch redesigned the Avengers for the 21st century in the 2002 series The Ultimates, he gave Ultimate Hawkeye a more toned-down, realistic and practical looking costume, exchanging the funny mask for sunglasses and spandex for what looked like body armor. When Ollie Queen showed up on Smallville in 2006, he was wearing a costume that looked more like Ultimate Hawkeye’s than comic book Green Arrow’s. The movie Hawkeye’s costume also takes its design cues from the Ultimate Hawkeye look, and the regular, non-Ultimate Hawkeye in Marvel Comics has recently adopted a costume inspired by the movies. Meanwhile, when DC rebooted and redesigned their heroes as part of last September’s New 52 initiative, they gave comic book Green Arrow a costume closely resembling the Green Arrow of Smallville.

Long story short, Hawkeye and Green Arrow, in Smallville and The Avengers movie, and in DC and Marvel comics, now look almost identical, the main thing differentiating them being the precise shade of their body armor.

3. Politics and Social Issues

Like most comic book characters who have been around for decades, Green Arrow has endured several different interpretations. Perhaps the best-known and most influential take came courtesy of writer Denny O’Neil and artist Neal Adams in the early ’70s, during the “relevance” era of superhero comics. O’Neil’s Green Arrow got a new, more elaborate costume, grew a goatee with a prominent handlebar mustache, and lost his massive fortune. He became a sarcastic, streetwise iconoclast, espousing liberal/progressive politics, making him something of the Justice League’s resident hippie.

Green Arrow railed against fat cat bankers, crooked politicians and polluting industrialists, famously clashing with the more straight-laced conservative Green Lantern in the pages of Green Lantern/Green Arrow and arguing with Republican space-cop Hawkman in Justice League of America.

Given the current state of the American economy (i.e. bad), the rise of the Occupy movement last year, the widening gap between rich and poor in the United States and the ever-increasing usage of the term “class warfare” in political discourse and coverage of the same, it will be interesting to see if CW’s producers might accentuate that aspect of Green Arrow’s character in an attempt to grab the zeitgeist, or ignore it to avoid controversy.

4. Villains

Unlike Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, The Flash, Green Lantern, Iron Man and just about every single comic book superhero to make it to the big screen or small screen, Green Arrow has no real rogues’ gallery of his own. If a hero is only as good as his villains, Green Arrow is a pretty lame hero. Most of the good villains GA has battled in the comics lately have been ones he’s borrowed form other heroes, villains like Deathstroke, Dr. Light, Merlyn and Prometheus. Writers and artists have invented new enemies for Ollie like Brick, Constantine Drakon and Cupid, but they’re lackluster at best.

As far as archenemies go, Green Arrow has The Red Dart, whose name tells you everything you need to know about him, and Count Vertigo, a European count with vertigo-inducing powers. Not exactly The Joker and Doctor Doom. Producers aren’t going to have the same well of readymade antagonists they’d have if they made a show featuring…well, just about any other superhero.

5. Green Green Green

Curiously, mainstream audiences have been reluctant to embrace superheroes with the word “green” in their name. Sure, a Green Hornet movie eventually got made after years in development hell, but it received reviews ranging from mixed to awful, and it wasn’t anywhere near the blockbuster its studio was hoping for. Ditto last summer’s Green Lantern movie.

Will Green Arrow fare any better? In not, the already slim chance that a Green Lama movie will ever get made will shrink even further.

6. That Green Arrow Prison Movie

While it’s possible for a movie studio to develop a feature film starring a particular superhero while that hero has a TV show on the air — as was the case with Superman Returns and Smallville – would a Green Arrow TV show nix any plans Green Arrow movie? Considering the premise for a Green Arrow-starring film that’s been floated around for a while, Super Max, in which an undercover Green Arrow infiltrates a prison for supervillains, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

 

Tags:   BatmanCWDenny ONeilDennyOneilGreen ArrowGreenArrowHawkeyeJason HartleyJasonHartleyNeal AdamsNealAdamsOliver QueenOliverQueenSmallville

Read More: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2012/01/18/green-arrow-tv-show-thoughts/#ixzz1jraHejcM

‘Twas the Night Before Wednesday…

thor

Okay, I don’t know if it’s actually that heavy or not, but the new Thor By Walter Simonson Omnibus is a big one: It’s 7.8-inches by 11.2-inches, and just under 1200 pages long. For your $125 bucks, you get about 50 issues of Simonson’s Thor, widely regarded as the high point of the title and the character.

Captain America: Fighting Avenger #1: Marvel’s planned all-ages, Marvel Adventures-style series is now a over-sized, 48-page one-shot. Brian Clevinger is a pretty great comic book writer and Gurihiru is a really great comics art team, so why complain about portion size?

The Complete Wendel: Cartoonist Howard Cruse is best known for his 1995 graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby, which was reprinted by Vertigo last year, but he also produced a comic strip about a young gay man and for The Advocate through much of the 1980s. As the title indicates, this $25, 290-page trade collects the entire run of the comic.

Flash #10: Writer Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul introduce Hot Pursuit and his Cosmic Motorcycle in an issue leading into the upcoming Flashpoint event/story. I guess this book’s running a bit late, given that the cover is of the title-character-posing-before-his-icon-on-a-white-field variety, which the whole DCU line sported back in…January, was it?

G.I. Joe: Cobra Commander Tribute 100-Page Spectacular: This gigantic, $8 special reprints the recent G.I. Joe: Cobra #12, along with reflections and reactions from various characters and reprints of of past Cobra Commander comics. (Exssselent, as the late, great head snake might have said). If you like the sounds of that spectacular Spectacular format, publisher IDW also has an Angel 100-Page Spectacular scheduled, reprinting some of their best Angel comics before the character joins former flame Buffy at Dark Horse Comics.

Hellboy: Buster Oakley Gets His Wish: This one-shot pairs writer Mike Mignola with artist Kevin Nowlan for a story pitting the supernatural-busting hero against enemies from an entirely different genre. Take a look.

Justice League: Generation Lost #23: The Judd Winick-written bi-weekly featuring the former JLI  Justice Leaguers vs. Evil Max Lord reaches its conclusion. I liked much of the series, and am eager to see what happens to this group of characters after this story—based on the latest solicits, it doesn’t look like they’ve earned an ongoing or a sequel or will be joining the cast JLoA or anything between now and July. Fernando Dagnino provides the art for this issue.

Punishermax #12: Dave Johnson just continues to kill on these covers.

Dude, the key's right there in the lock!

I’m somehow still not sick of seeing him do something with Punisher’s skull logo, red, white and black every month.

Salt Water Taffy Vol. 4: Caldera’s Revenge: Matthew Loux’ series about two brothers in the mysterious, adventure-filled town of Chowder Bay begins its first multi-volume story arc here. It’s a 72-page, $6, black-and-white digest.

Spongebob Comics #2: The first issue of thies new series was really great.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #157: Marvel’s much-hyped icing of their out-of-continuity, teenagedSpider-Man might go down in this issue. It’s hard to say; it seems like Ultimate Spider-Man has been dying for months now.

 

Linkarama@Newsarama

A couple of publishers on their Eisner nominations: Drawn and Quarterly’s Peggy Burns admits to feeling very appreciated over the publisher’s 11 nominations, which almost half as many nominations as books they publish in a given years. Mathematically that’s…well, I can’t do math. Still, I bet if you subtracted the number of nominated works from the complete number of books D+Q published last year, and added up the nominations in comparison to that number, it would be pretty impressive book-to-nomination ratio. Meanwhile, DC announced their many nominations in a post entitled “DC receives 14 Eisner Nominations, The Most of Any Publisher.” Is it worth noting that of those 14, ten are for Vertigo 0r Vertigo-like (Joe Kubert’s Best/Writer Artist nom for Dong Xaoi, Vietnam 1965) books and two more are for projects far outside what one might consider DC Universe continuity comics (Tiny Titans and Wednesday Comics, for Best Publication For Kids and Best Graphic Album Reprint, respectively), leaving only two “true” DCU books nominated—Superboy for Best New Series and a Billy Tucci short from DCU Halloween Special 2010 for Best Short Story. I’m not trying to diminish the publisher’s accomplishments—one of its great strengths is the way it publishes a wide variety of work for a wide variety of audeinces within the structure of mainstream comics publishing—but I think its worth noting where what the Eisner judges consider “the good stuff” is coming from at the moment, I think.

Speaking of math and comics: Check out this heady, intersting analysis post entitled  “Mathematical Equivalence of Comics.” I wish I had to take a class on that in high school—I’m certain it would have come in more handy more often in my adult life than either algebra or trigonometry ever did. (Via Comics Reporter)

Black Widow’s weapons of choice—sexist?: Here’s an interesting discussion of Marvel’s super-spy’s versatile bracelet/gauntlet thingee. Please note that the name of the blog is NSFW.

So who’s drawing what from when?: DC announced the titles, logo designs and writers of their Retroactive books at WonderCon recently, and now The Source blog is going to start rolling out the names of the artists. First up? Eduardo Barretto on the ’70s era Superman one-shot. (Nice.) Keep your eyes on The Source for more reveals. This initiative provides plenty of opportunities for the cynical among us to make cracks at DC, but it also provides a lot of opportunities to see great work from great creators, many of whom we don’t see appearing on the new comics shelves as often as they should. Meanwhile, Don MacPherson of Eye On Comics offers his thoughts on the project, and offers some guesses as to who some of the artists might be. He mentions the timing of the event might make some of the creators more attractive folks to send to this season’s many conventions, and bigger draws once they’re there. I hope it gets some of these guys bigger readerships and perhaps more work—I certainly wouldn’t object to seeing a Barretto-drawn Superman or a Norm Breyfogle-drawn Batman showing up as often as, say, an Eddy Barrows-drawn Superman or Tony Daniel- or David Finch-drawn Batman.

The reviews themselves: Is it a sign of event fatigue that I didn’t find more Fear Itself #1 reviews among the comics blogosphere during my last two trips through it, Thursday and Sunday nights? Here’s a few sentences on it from Tim O’Neil (“Not terrible”), a review that takes an interesting tangent into relevance in comics and how this one features a scene that chooses to “go half-assed and bring the real world in, only to shy away from actually saying anything about it?”  by Yan Basque (“[B]y the time I’d reach the last page, I was itching to find out what happens next”) and a more formal review by the previously mentioned Don MacPherson (“The saving grace of this book is the artwork”). I think O’Neil wins the blurb-off here…who wouldn’t at least be tempted to buy a big, fat hardcover collection with the words “Not terrible” quoted on the cover?

Linkarama@Newsarama

This week’s discussion topic: This week’s Village Voice is the special “Comics Issue,” and features a great cover by Ward Sutton, depicting comics characters in the styles of different catoonists (Jack Kirby’s Charlie Brown! R. Crumb’s Olive Oyl! Et cetera!). The most talked about/blogged about issue raised by the issue? That of paying and not paying cartoonists. Here’s the Voice article “If Cartoons Are So Big, Why Don’t They Pay?”, and here’s a little round-up of some of the many reactions to the piece and its existence in the Voice.

“Wouldn’t it be cool if Marvel tried its hand at that format again? Well, guess what? It did, and quite recently”: Don MacPherson discusses Marvel’s recent flirtation with the magazine format. Have you heard of them?

Peanuts by Eric Reynolds, age 8 or 9: On the Flog blog, Fantagraphics’ Reynolds shares some childhood comics he did as a kid.

Noooo!: Why can’t you just leave poor Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana alone, Titans?

(Another) two from Tokyopop: Butterfly Vol. 1 and Clean-Freak: Fully-Equpped Vol. 1

The logo obscures Ageha's most noticeable design element, unfortunately. Nice background, though!

I like high concepts as much as the next guy, even if the next guy is a rabid otaku, and, let’s face it, when it comes to high-concept comics, Japan’s are higher and more numerous than anywhere else on earth.

But Yu Aikawa’s Butterfly features a really complicated one, which takes a majority of the first, 200-page volume to simply lay out.

High schooler Ginji Ishikawa hates the supernatural and angrily dismisses all aspects of it—from belief in ghosts and curses to horror scope reading. He also dismisses anyone who believes in it. This is kind of odd, since every single night Ginji is visited by the ghost of his dead brother, whom he shouts away with I can’t see yous and There’s no such thing as ghosts.

Ginji’s friend is constantly trying to set him up on dates with girls, although they usually end disastrously because of his ant-occult stance. On one double-date, they visit an amusement park, and when he’s reluctantly pulled into a haunted house, Ginji punches out an actor dressed as a ghost. He manages to avoid legal trouble, but only by committing to paying off the injured actor and park.

An opportunity to make the necessary money presents itself when a mysterious little girl approaches Ginji with a proposition: “Let’s go and kill all the ghosts in the world together!”

The girl  is Ageha, and she has a sort of ghost-busting business set-up, although it’s all a weird and elaborate fraud. She is psychic, and has the power to create images of ghosts from the minds of others, basically broadcasting some sort of mass hallucination. She uses this power to dupe people who believe they are being haunted into giving their fears form. She creates the ghosts they imagine, and then she has Ginji destroy the ghosts in front of them, as he is uniquely able to manipulate her creations.

Their powers are only one mystery in the narrative—there’s also a mystery regarding Ginji’s brother’s death, the death of a girl from their school who was either pushed or fell in front of a train, and Ginji’s own psychic abilities.

The complicated set-up isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, and all the questions Aikawa throws out can certainly act as lures to pull a reader along and into future volumes, but it also makes this a frustrating book to sample, as the book ends with its premise just being sketched out (Generous amounts of humor and a bit of romance does make all the dark story elements and layers of mystery go down a little easeir, though).

Aikawa’s artwork is fine, although many of the character designs tend toward the generic, with only little, bespectacled Ageha, with a huge curlicue, antennae-like strand of hair, and Ginji’s cute love interest Takammatsu really sticking out.

The ghosts tend to be much more inspired, generally having a modern J-horror look and drawn with fewer, sketchier lines and very little shading, giving them a white, abstracted, insubstantial look among the more heavily inked characters and environments.

That's a nice pink cover, too. You don't see enough pink covers.

Much simpler to get into is Touya Tobina’s Clean-Freak: Fully-Equipped, a high school melodramedy about a character with a severe mental illness, played mostly for laughs, and the socially-challenged characters that start to orbit around him.

The title character is Sata Senda, who in sixth grade is “totally OCD” and a cartoonishly exaggerated germaphobe. He goes about his daily life just fine, but he does so wearing different variations of hazmat suits and other protective gear; at his least protected he wears a medical mask, sunglasses, arm-length gloves and a utility belt of various sanitizers and cleaning supplies.  After the first chapter, he also often goes around in a see-through, plastic box on wheels.

In addition to providing Tobina with a premise for near endless visual gags, Senda’s fear of germs and dirtiness is a simple metaphor for getting close to others—no one’s allowed to touch him, no one’s allowed inside his wheeled plastic “Senda Unit.”

In the first chapter, one of the prettiest and most popular girls in his class forces her way inside, and we discover that she too has a problem—she gets motion sickness and is thus terrified of travel.

That chapter actually functions as its own standalone story, after which the narrative jumps ahead a few years to high school, when Senda’s new girlfriend has left for New York City and he has relapsed into his germaphobia she had cured him of.

In each chapter that follows, he meets another character with some sort of problem: Boisterous Yui has a Linus-like attachment to a rain coat his missing mother gave him, cute girl Sonoko Yumeno is incredibly insecure and Sotsugu is so shy he needs someone to translate his quiet mumbling.

I was admittedly resistant to Tobina’s glib portrayal of Senda’s mental issues at first, but its clear they’re being used symbolically, and he regularly manages to overcome them in order to help a new friend overcome their problems.

The first volume is episodic, and the series could perhaps grow repetitive if this pattern holds for many future volumes, but it’s a pretty touching, even inspirational take on the social challenges and triumphs of teenagers during their school years, and Tobina is a skilled and inventive designer and artist.

 

Linkarama@Newsarama

“‘Just look at it,’ quoth the Helfer”: In light of the recent announcement of DC’s Retro-Active comics, in which J.M. DeMatteis will be re-teaming with Keith Giffen and Kevin Maguire for the ’90s Justice League issue, the writer shares an old essay about how he got involved with the franchise. It’s a fun piece with some fun behind the scenes details, and a good argument for the value of a talented, engaged editor working closely with creators on a title.

“Miller and Varley’s Joker”: The Mindless Ones series “Three Fools” continues with a look at The Joker in Frank Miller and Lynn Varley’s The Dark Knight Returns. It’s a particularly intersting piece following the first part, which covered The Killing Joke, since Dark Knight isn’t particularly known for its Joker.

“Once upon a time the mouse named Batman…”: James Kochalka tells the best bedtime stories.

“I know I’m supposed to get all excited about the Thor movie, and the Green Lantern movie, and the Herbie the Fat Fury movie, like everyone says I’m supposed to…”: What live action superhero is Ty Templeton most excited about these days? Click to find out! I must confess, that particular hero translates remarkably well to that particular venue, which generally doesn’t do live action superheroes all that well.

It’s new to me, too: Check out this iFanboy post, in which a 2004 Frank Quitely image featuring the Masters of the Universe characters gets dug out and shown off.

‘Twas the Night Before Wednesday…

And hear I always thought that was simply a metaphor...

The biggest direct market release of the week should be Fear Itself #1, the official kick off of Marvel’s latest line-engulfing crossover story. Unlike the majority of the previous big Marvel crossovers, this one won’t be written by Brian Michael Bendis, but instead by Matt Fraction, with Stuart Immonen providing the pencils and covers (Well, some of the covers, anyway; there should be several for each issue of this). As far as I can make out, the premise seems to have something to do with a pre-Asgardian force referred to as The Serpent giving various Marvel characters giant Thor-like sledgehammers and glowy redesigns, and also making other heroes face their worst fears or something.

At the very least, I imagine the prevalence of hammers in the series will guarantee a great deal more hitting and smashing than either Siege or Secret Invasion managed to muster. It’s a $4, 56-page book.

Aaron and Ahmed:
Prose novelist Jay Cantor and Bronx Kill artist James Romberger team for an original graphic novel exploring the question, “What causes terrorism?” It’s a $25, 145-page hardcover from Vertigo’s crime imprint.

Blue Estate #1: This high-concept crime comedy comic sounds like it could be either awesome or terrible—“an alcoholic hit man and a desperate starlet dodge Russian mobsters, Italian gangsters, ninjas, hippies and the LAPD in a scheme to steal millions from a psychotic action movie hero”— but considering some of the artists involved, I’m leaning toward awesome. Screenwriter and artist Viktor Kalvachev write, while Nathan Fox, Toby Cypress, Kalvachev himself and others draw. You can see a preview here.

Blue Exorcist Vol. 1: This new manga series from Viz is about young  Rin Okumura, an orphan boy raised by an exorcist who discovers his real dad is Satan himself. With a background like that, naturally he decides to go to exorcism school. It’s from creator Kato Kazue, and the first volume is 200-pages for $10

BPRD: The Dead Remembered #1: The latest offering from the Mignola-verse is a three-issue miniseries flashing back to a teenage Liz Sherman joining Professor Broom on an investigation in New England. Scott Allie and Mike Mignola write, while Karl Moline and Andy Owens provide the art. You can see a preview here.
Green Lantern: Secret Origin Edition: This new, 190-page, $15 trade collecting Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert’s six-issue “Secret Origin” features a new introduction by the live-action Green Lantern Ryan Reynolds and a new, lame-o photo cover from the movie. I wonder if that indicates how closely the film will be following “Secret Origin”, as you don’t normally see this sort of covers on books that have been made into films unless the films are direct adaptations of the books.

Herc #1: Sometimes I’m unsure whether to roll my eyes at the seemingly needlessly complicated path Marvel’s Hercules comics have taken over the years, or clap for the publisher and writing team’s tenacity in finding a strategy to keep the relatively low-selling character in a regularly scheduled comic book for so long. This latest Hercules series follows his takeover of Incredible Hulk’s numbering for 29 issues before giving those numbers back to the re-re-titled Incredible Hulks, two-issue miniseries Hercules: Fall of An Avenger, four-issue mini Prince of Power and event/miniseries Chaos War. The Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak writing team will still be handling Herc’s adventures, and Neil Edwards is the artist they’re currently working with. The first issue is $4 for some reason (shouldn’t the jumping on point be more, rather than less, attractive?), but the title will drop back down to $3 in the months to come.

Orc Stain #6: Orc Stain! Where have you been? I’ve missed you.

Our Army at War: This is $15, 130-page trade paperback collects the five one-issue revivals of DC’s old war comics from last year. Darwyn Cooke, B. Clay Moore, Phil Winslade, Matt Sturges, Justiniano, Jan Strnad, Steve Pugh, Gabriel Hardman, and others tell stories featuring Sgt. Rock, The Haunted Tank, The Losers and Mademoiselle Marie.

Outlaw Prince: Rob Hughes, Thomas Yeates and Michael William Kaluta have adapted Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “The Outlaw of Torn” into a 110-page, $50 hardcover. You  can see a preview here.

Peanuts: Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown: Here it is, your first brand new Peanuts comic in pretty much forever! “New” is, of course, a relative term, as this is actually an original graphic novel adaptation of the new Peanuts cartoon special, which itself was adapted from Charles Schulz strips. That’s close enough for many of us, though. The $20, 96-page hardcover from Boom Studio’s new Kaboom kids imprint is written by Pearls Before Swine cartoonist Stephan Pastis and features art from Bob Scott, Vicki Scott and  Ron Zorman.

Poseurs: This 150-page, $17 orginal graphic novel by Deborah Vankin and Rick Mays is billed as a “YA graphic novel,” and follows three teenagers very different parts of LA who meet one another in a story that’s “full-blown party noir.” Well, I like the sound of that. You can see a preview here; both in the way its being sold and the cover design, its very suggestive of DC’s too-short lived Minx imprint.

Remake: Lamar Abrams’ 2009 book about a robot boy with a gun that turns things into stuff is being offered again from AdHouse, presumably in preparation for an upcoming Remake Special. If you missed it the first time around, I can’t recommend it highly enough—it’s really funny stuff. You can check out a preview here.

Skaar: King of The Savage Land #1: Writer Rob Williams and pencil artist Brian Ching send the savage, half-alien son of the Hulk to Marvel’s land of mutants, dinosaurs and jungle adventure in this new series. According to Ed McGuinness’ cover, he’ll totally be fighting Devil Dinosaur before long.

Solomon Kane: Red Shadows #1: Dark Horse’s latest Solomon Kane series is by Bruce Jones and Rashan Ekedal, and begins with an adaptation of an original Robert E. Howard story. You can see a preview here.

Superstar: As Seen on TV:
IDW rescues another comic from the back-issue bins and represents it as a trade collection. This 80-page, $15 hardcover contains pretty much all of Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen’s forward-looking comics about superhero-as-media star (The high concept? The hero is only as powerful as he is popular).  Busiek would be happy to tell you all about it here, and you can download an eight page preview there as well.

Yesterday’s Tomorrows: This $25, 265-page trade collects artist Rian Hughes’ collaborations with Grant Morrison (one of which is a Dan Dare story), Tom DeHaven (on a Raymond Chandler adaptation), John Freeman and Chris Reynolds. Take a look here.