Tagged: Brian Michael Bendis

The Return of the DC 100-PAGE GIANT!

If you’re of a certain generation, you remember the big summertime issues that your parents picked up for you on the way to whatever you were doing that required a long car ride to get there– comics that gave you new stories combined with older fare that brought you into a richer shared universe.

This summer, Walmart shoppers will get a chance to do that again as DC Entertainment announced today that a series of “giant” monthly comics will be sold exclusively in more than 3,000 participating Walmart stores around the country.

Available for $4.99, each 100-page anthology features all-new stories written exclusively for these books by some of DC’s top creative talents, including Tom King (BATMAN, MISTER MIRACLE, HEROES IN CRISIS), Dan Jurgens (ACTION COMICS, BATMAN BEYOND), Brian Michael Bendis (SUPERMAN, ACTION COMICS, THE MAN OF STEEL), Andy Kubert (NEW CHALLENGERS) and others. Each title will also include additional story arcs drawn from fan-favorite DC eras such as the New 52, Rebirth and the New Age of DC Heroes.

Each of the four titles – SUPERMAN GIANT, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA GIANT, BATMAN GIANT and TEEN TITANS GIANT – will arrive in stores by July 1. Beginning in August, the Superman and Justice League of America titles will arrive in week one of each month, with the second pair, Batman and Teen Titans, arriving approximately two weeks later.

“We are extraordinarily excited about working with Walmart to expand the reach of our books,” said DC Publisher Dan DiDio.  “These new monthly books combine new and accessible stories with reprints of classic comic series. It’s a great way for new readers to get into comics and follow the characters they’ve grown to love in TV and film.”

The debut title lineup includes:

SUPERMAN GIANT #1

SUPERMAN GIANT #1 features chapter one of the two-part “Endurance,” an original story written by Jimmy Palmiotti (HARLEY QUINN, ACTION COMICS) with art by Tom Derenick (HARLEY QUINN, CYBORG, BATMAN/SUPERMAN). TheDaily Planet sends Clark Kent to Tornado Alley to do a story on the area, but when the storm hits, it turns out that this mild-mannered reporter is more helpful as Superman.

The issue also includes:

THE TERRIFICS #1­ (2018) – From this year’s New Age of Heroes and born of the events of DC’s hit series DARK NIGHTS: METAL. Mr. Terrific, Metamorpho, Plastic Man and Phantom Girl are a team of heroes bound together by fate and united by the spirit of exploration and discovery. Together these heroes plumb the depths of the fantastic to learn what it means to become family.

GREEN LANTERN #1 (2005) – Written by best-selling writer Geoff Johns with art by Ethan Van Sciver and Carlos Pacheco, this first chapter launches the fan-favorite three-part story “No Fear,” in which Hal Jordan makes his return to the DC Universe as the Green Lantern, casting the light of justice on the darkest corners of Space Sector 2814.

SUPERMAN/BATMAN #1 (2003) – The iconic fan-favorite story arc, “Public Enemies,” returns, courtesy of writer Jeph Loeb, with artists Ed McGuinness and Tim Sale. Batman and Superman unite when President Lex Luthor accuses the Man of Steel of a crime against humanity and assembles a top-secret team of powerhouse heroes to bring Superman in by any means necessary.

September’s SUPERMAN GIANT #3 features Eisner Award-winning writer Tom King’s first return to the Man of Steel since his poignant and heartfelt tribute story, “For Tomorrow,” in the pages of ACTION COMICS #1000. Together with DC Master Class artist Andy Kubert, this powerhouse team will take readers on a new 12-part adventure titled “Up in the Sky!” When a little girl is kidnapped and taken from Earth, Superman embarks on a galaxy-spanning mission to find the perpetrators…but has to decide what lengths he will go to in order to save one life!

TEEN TITANS GIANT #1

In this original six-part Teen Titans story by Dan Jurgens with art by Scot Eaton, Wayne Faucher and Jim Charalampidis, the Teen Titans’ pizza dinner is interrupted by the introduction of a new villain, the Disruptor. Teaming up with the Fearsome Five and working as an agent of H.I.V.E., he had one mission: kill the Teen Titans! The battle spills onto the streets of San Francisco, putting its citizens at risk, while H.I.V.E. uses this distraction to begin their plan for world conquest!

Additional issue #1 stories include:

SUPER SONS #1 (2017) – From DC’s smash-hit Rebirth event, writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Jorge Jimenez reintroduce the sons of Superman and Batman, Jonathan Kent and Damian Wayne, in part one of “When I Grow Up.” As Robin, Damian’s more than ready to take his place at the heroes’ table and has zero plans to wait his turn. And he’s dragging Superman’s son along for the trip, whether Jon likes it or not!

SIDEWAYS #1 (2018) – Also from the New Age of Heroes, this story written by Dan DiDio with art by Kenneth Rocafort introduces fans to high schooler Derek James who, during the events of DARK NIGHTS: METAL, has acquired powers from the Dark Multiverse and stepped into the role of superhero! But when cracks begin to appear in the space-time continuum, he soon learns that with that much power comes even greater liability!

TEEN TITANS #1 (2003) – Written by best-selling author Geoff Johns with art by Mike McKone. Cyborg, Raven, Starfire and Beast Boy welcome in a new roster of young heroes to train to defend humanity—Wonder Girl, Impulse and a Superboy who’s been cloned from Superman’s DNA!

BATMAN GIANT #1

Batman is on the case of a missing girl in “One More Chance,” an all-new story by writer Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Patrick “Patch” Zircher. Batman is the world’s greatest detective, but what happens when the trail in his newest case leads him back to a place from his past that he never expected to revisit?

BATMAN GIANT #1 also includes:

BATMAN #608 (2002) – Written by Jeph Loeb with art by comics icon Jim Lee, issue #608 kicks off “Batman: Hush,” one of the most popular storylines in the Dark Knight’s fabled history. When Batman sets out to unmask the mystery character wreaking havoc in his life, he teams up with an unexpected ally (Catwoman) and finds himself facing off against not only his deadliest foes, but some of the toughest characters in the DC Universe, including Poison Ivy, Killer Croc and even Superman!

NIGHTWING #1 (2011) – From DC’s New 52, this story by writer Kyle Higgins and artist Eddy Barrows debuted a new look for Dick Grayson as he dives into a tale of murder, mystery and superhuman evil against the backdrop of Haley’s Circus, the place that started him on his path from acrobat to orphan to sidekick and ultimately superhero!

HARLEY QUINN #1 (2011) – Also from the New 52, writer Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Amanda Conner break Harley Quinn out of The Joker’s shadow with all the force of a giant mallet!

Beginning with BATMAN GIANT #3 in September, superstar writer Brian Michael Bendis makes his DC debut on the Dark Knight with a 12-part story, “Universe.” Batman’s run-in with the Riddler leads the Caped Crusader into a mystery that spans the globe!

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA GIANT #1

Justice League member Wonder Woman is spotlighted in “The Conversion,” an all-new story from NIGHTWING writer Tim Seeley and artists Rick Leonardi and Steve Buccellato. In this single-issue story, Wonder Woman comes face to face with Ares, god of war—who sees her as a promising new recruit!

JUSTICE LEAGUE GIANT #1 also includes:

JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 (2011) – From the incomparable team of writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee comes this version of the League from the New 52. In this alternative spin on the union of Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg, superheroes are a strange and new phenomenon. The mysterious Batman discovers a dark evil that requires him to unite these reluctant heroes to protect Earth from a cosmic-level threat!

THE FLASH #1 (2011) – In this New 52 version of the Fastest Man Alive, writer Brian Buccellato and artist Francis Manapul introduce Barry Allen to a villain who not only can be everywhere at once, but is also a close friend of the Scarlet Speedster!

AQUAMAN #1 (2011) – Award-winning writer Geoff Johns and dynamic artist Ivan Reis team up on this story from the New 52! Aquaman has given up the throne of Atlantis, but the sea still has plans for Arthur Curry as a broken race of undersea creatures, the Trench, emerges from the ocean depths, bent on destroying the surface world!

In issue #2, Seeley teams up with artists Felipe Watanabe and Chris Sotomayor on “Mother’s Day,” a stand-alone story where Wonder Woman returns to Paradise Island for the first time since her exile, only to find that the Amazons – and Queen Hippolyta – have been abducted by Echidna, the mythological Mother of Monsters, with a brood of unstoppable beasts as children!

Issue #3 begins another original 12-part Wonder Woman story by HARLEY QUINN co-writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti called “Come Back to Me.” When Steve Trevor’s plane crashes on an island outside of time itself, it’s up to Wonder Woman to rescue him from this mysterious land, full of monsters, dinosaurs and some very surprising citizens.

Marc Alan Fishman: The Times, They Are A Changin’

Can you feel it in the air, kiddos? Whether it’s our President’s RussiaGate investigation picking off staff members and placing others under house arrest, or the massive movement of that other three-named comic book creator being snagged by their rival comic company. The times? They are a’changin.’

And while I’m apt to discuss my continuing thoughts on our super-villain-in-chief slowly devolving our country into the antithesis of what it was founded upon, I think it’s more apropos I dive in instead to the recent(ish) announcement that Brian Michael Bendis is headed towards DC Comics.

In 2000, which I’ll be double-damned was seventeen friggin’ years ago, BMB was brought in on a little experimental book Ultimate Spider-Man. The proto-millennial Peter Parker of Bendis’s pen was what a generation needed from their comics. He was young, unencumbered by decades of backstory, and full of delicious teen angst. Paired with the artwork of stalwart journeyman Mark Bagley, the book skyrocketed Bendis’s name-value into the upper echelons of the modern comic book fandom. And over the course of his career at the house funded by the Mouse, Bendis had amazing runs on Daredevil, The Avengers, Alias, and the X-Men. But you have access to Wikipedia too, so, let’s just call it a day with the basics, shall we?

While some would be quick to point out that BMB’s clout may not be at the same levels it once was, anyone with a Facebook feed like mine when the announcement dropped surely could argue otherwise. Every comic book fan and creator I know had something to say on the matter. Most all of it was purely positive – save literally for that one friend who literally can’t say they like anything, ever. But, pardon my French, fuck that guy.

With Bendis headed to DC, the potential energy here outmatches the kinetic force of his Marvel departure. With decades (plus) full of ideas for DC’s pantheon of super-powered beings, there’s a change in the air of mainstream comics – if only for the time being until his name is actually attached to specific projects with specific deadlines.

Simply take a look at the modern comic landscape, and you’ll see how BMB moved the needle of mainstream comics like a nuclear-powered sharknado. He made a generation believe that Spider-Man could become a legacy character through Miles Morales. He took the idea of a Wonder Woman, removed all heroic chakras, and gave us Jessica Jones. He whispered through Scarlet Witch “no more mutants.” He disassembled and reassembled the Avengers. And even recently, he created RiRi Williams – giving us the female Rhodey we never knew we wanted. Like I said: needle-moving creation.

Now, take that mind, and give it the keys to a new kingdom. This move allows us to build on the potent world-building of Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, etc., and grant carte blanche to introduce the humanity that Bendis has built a career off of… ultimately (natch) allowing DC to have its cake and eat it too.

 

If we think big picture, it’s easy to see how the street-level vision of BMB could breathe new life into staple DC champions like Batman, or Green Lantern. Or, Bendis could lend his pro-woman-writing wares to Wonder Woman or Supergirl. Hell, they could just let ole’ BMB nab someone like Jamie Reyes or Kyle Rayner (please oh please) and let him steer their ships towards brighter shores. Again: the possibilities are endless, and exciting. Oh wait! Could Bendis be allowed to work with the Endless?! I digress, I digress.

Yes kiddos, the times they are a’changin’. Amidst all the hellfire and panic that exists in the real world? I’m happy to know that the fake ones that exist on paper now have a new voice and energy to distract me from the impending doom. And that is a change worth subscribing to.

Joe Corallo: United Against Hysteria

I didn’t think I was going to write about Howard Chaykin, Image Comics, and The Divided States of Hysteria. When the first controversy sparked up the beginning of last month I had already committed to an interview with a team working on a Kickstarter project for my column that followed said controversy. While people still talked about it some after I thought people had basically covered the scope of the issue and I wouldn’t have anything constructive to add.

Then this happened followed by this apology from Image Comics and Howard Chaykin. I tend to discuss these sort of occurrences in the comics community and I really haven’t lately so it’s time for me to get back to that.

Full disclosure: I have met Howard Chaykin before at a few conventions, got a Lois Lane sketch from him some years ago, and attended a panel back at the first Special Edition NYC spotlighting him with fellow ComicMix columnist Martha Thomases in which he recommended we read the Tom De Haven novel It’s Superman which is actually quite good and one of the best things you’ll ever read that stars The Man Of Tomorrow.

I don’t want to rehash all the details you likely already know, and if you are somehow into comics enough to read columns on comic book news sites and are not aware of what’s been going on, it’s covered in the links provided. You can also type in keywords in a Twitter search and find plenty on this. So, rather than restate the information, I’ll tell you how I, someone that discusses diversity in comics and adjacent topics, read this situation.

First, nobody is ever obligated to purchase and enjoy a comic. Period. If people see a cover or an image from a comic that makes them not want to read it, they don’t have to. They’re allowed to voice their displeasure and tell their friends and the Internet they don’t want to read it and you shouldn’t either. People are allowed to look at a comic and decide against it without reading it.

It is not against the concept of free speech to openly discuss why you do not like or support something; it’s nearly the entire point of free speech. Nor is speaking out against this comic censorship. Howard Chaykin and Image Comics have every right to put out this material and you and anyone else have every right to actively not support it if you so desire.

It’s up to the marketing people and the publisher to convince people that their product is worth their time and to spend money on it. Part of the blunder that took place here is that Image had worked out getting The Divided States of Hysteria a Pride variant when the content inside didn’t fit for that audience. More eyes, including a lot more queer eyes, were on this book because of that variant and it being Pride month. Had this book come out without that variant and later on in the year I think it may have glided under the radar a bit and while their likely would have been some backlash, it wouldn’t have hit the same levels.

Another factor is that this is an Image comic. While Image does have some gruesome books like The Walking Dead, most of its line-up is pretty accessible to a wide comics audience. A publisher more well known for its over-the-top stories and graphic imagery like Avatar Press may have been able to take on The Divided States of Hysteria with less backlash.

The political and cultural environment is just not where this book is either. People are upset, depressed, and frightened by what we see coming out of the White House; I know I am. Had the results on November 9th, 2016 been different then maybe people would have been a little more open to the idea of a comic that’s talking about a horrible alternate reality. It hits a little too close to home for many right now.

The timing of this book was way off. Particularly with the portrayal of a trans sex worker being brutalized. What may have seemed edgy or even acceptable decades ago in terms of representing a trans character doesn’t fly anymore. At least fourteen trans women, mostly trans women of color, have been murdered just for being trans this year, and more trans women were killed in 2016 than in 2015. I encourage you to follow the link in the last sentence and to read the names of those we’ve lost. Audiences not only are demanding more from trans representation in all media, but it’s necessary and can save lives.

Finally, I want to talk a bit about Howard Chaykin himself. Some people have criticized him for being “an old white guy.” While there is some truth to that, it’s a bit more complicated. Howard Chaykin was born October 7th, 1950. He had a rough childhood moving many times as a kid across New York City, being raised on welfare, finding out later in life that who he thought was his biological father was in fact not and having a cruel adoptive father.

Despite all that, and despite the fact that many doors shut in front of him as he tried to develop his career early on because he’s Jewish, Howard was able to get his start in comics before branching out into other media. One of his early works, American Flagg!, was also a political satire and starred Reuben Flagg, an overtly Jewish lead at a time where that was far from common in mainstream comics. Hell, it’s uncommon now. That work, in particular, went on to inspire multiple generations of comic creators, including Warren Ellis, Matt Fraction, Frank Miller, and Brian Michael Bendis.

I’m not writing all this to make you change your mind on The Divided States of Hysteria. If you don’t want to read it, don’t. If you don’t like Howard Chaykin’s work, continue to not like it. If you want other people to know you feel that way, let them know.

What I am saying is that he is a person, he’s fought his own battles for decades to get where he is, he may have been through more than you know, he and Image Comics are in no way advocating bigotry, there is absolutely no need to make personal attacks towards Howard, and his entire body of work should not be summed up in one poorly timed and arguably poorly executed comic book.

John Ostrander: Talking The Talk

So you had a story idea and you’ve worked it up into a plot. The characters are defined, you know who is doing what, the twists and turns and even the theme.

Now you have to put words into everyone’s mouths or, more precisely, into their word balloons. For some would-be writers, that’s where the wheels come off. How do you write dialogue? More importantly, how do you write good dialogue?

Let’s start with a basic: all dialogue is action. No one just speaks: they cajole, they explain, they confirm, they deny, they confront, they exalt, they exult, they attack, they defend, they lie and so on.  It is an active transitive verb. When a character speaks, they are doing something or attempting to do something. What’s important is not what the character is saying but what the character is doing or trying to do when they speak.  What does the character want, what goals are they trying to achieve? In short, what drives them? What is their motivation? What do they need? Not just want – need.

Dialogue has two main purposes: to move the plot along and/or to reveal character. Even exposition falls under the “move the plot along” rule.

Keep in mind that in comics, you have very little room for dialogue. Each panel has room for maybe two word balloons – three, if they’re small. Each word balloon has room for two to three lines tops. And you can’t do that in every panel; the reader will just see too many words and skip the page.

I’ve heard it said that comic book scripting is revealing character via newspaper headlines. So you have to be succinct with your verbiage.

Major Ostrander rule: when in doubt, cut it out. If they can (and do) cut Shakespeare, they can (and should) cut some of your lines. You should do it first. I’ve heard a story that legendary writer and editor Robert Kanigher, when he was writing Sgt. Rock, would stand on his desk and shout out the dialogue; if it sounded okay doing it that way, he figured it was right.

Once I delivered a GrimJack script to First Comics and, while editor Rick Oliver was going through it, I was schmoozing the rest of the office as I usually did. Rick came out to me with a page of script in his hand and the matching page of art. He looked at them, looked at me, and asked how much I was paid per page. I told him and then Rick noted “So on this page we’re paying you one hundred dollars for six words.”

“No,” I replied easily; “You’re paying me for knowing which words to leave off.” I offered to add more if Rick really felt it was necessary but he smiled, said he was just curious, and went back into his office.

When writing dialogue, you need to differentiate between characters. They are not all the same characters (even though all of them are you) and so should speak differently. Some people speak brusquely, some like the sound of their own voices. Some people try to over explain their reasons why they are doing what they’re doing; they feel that if you understood, really understood, you’d do things their way. I was told once by one such person that I wasn’t listening, to which I replied, “Just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean I’m not listening.”

There is a cadence to how people speak and that’s especially useful if you’re trying to indicate a person has a foreign accent; there is a way of speaking, a certain order. Some movies can give you a wealth of accents to hear; Casablanca is a very good one. Listen and learn.

There’s a simple short-cut that can help you; cast your characters as if they were in an animated feature. Who would you cast as their voice? The nice part of this is that it doesn’t have to be an actor; it can be anyone whose voice you can hear in your mind – a friend, a relative, a co-worker, a politician and so on. They don’t have to be currently living, either; past or present will do.

Listen to your characters as well once you have their voices in your mind; they will not only tell you what to write but may take the plot off in a direction you hadn’t considered. Listen to them and go with them if they do that. There was a GrimJack story once where I refused to do that; I stubbornly stuck to the lines and the plot that I had already decided on. That s.o.b. Gaunt stopped talking to me for the rest of the issue; it was the hardest GrimJack script I ever attempted. I learned my lesson and haven’t done it since.

Listen to people all around you; what do they say and how do they say it? What do they not say? What is left unsaid? In art, negative space can help define the figure. In writing, the silences can define the character. When do they happen, why, and what happens as a result?

Don’t be “clever.” Dialogue should be entertaining, yes; that’s part of storytelling. However, when I encounter “clever” dialogue, it means the author is really trying to draw attention to him/herself. “See how clever I am? Isn’t that a great turn of phrase?” It draws the reader right out of the story and that’s a failure to communicate. There are many writers whose dialogue is clever but that’s not their purpose. Brian Michael Bendis is an example of someone who writes very clever dialogue but he is also a very very good writer because his first focus is story and characterization. He just happens to be clever as well.

Your dialogue can be contemporaneous; it can be elevated. Poetic or streetwise. What it has to do is serve the story and reveal the character.

That’s the job.

Joe Corallo: Love Is Patient

Before I go into this week’s column, I wanted to acknowledge the passing of Carrie Fisher. Mere hours after my column went up last week it was reported that she had passed. It was truly tragic for her family, friends and legions of fans whom include myself. Rest in peace, Carrie Fisher.

Last week I picked Love Is Love, the joint DC Comics and IDW publication to raise money for Equality Florida benefiting the victims of the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting. I had written about this book’s announcement back in September and how it filled me with pride that this was happening, but that comics still has more to do towards creating stronger queer inclusion. Now that the trade is out and I got the chance to read it, I have more to say.

This charity project organized by Marc Andreyko was originally a joint project with DC Comics and IDW. As of last month, Archie Comics added itself to the mix and included two separate Kevin Keller stories for the anthology, one by Kevin Keller’s creator Dan Parent. We get a short comic featuring Chalice from AfterShock’s  Alters. The Will Eisner estate even gave permission to use The Spirit for a comic in the anthology as well. All of that combined with an introduction by director Patty Jenkins and you have an anthology with more star power and support for a cause than I, at least, have ever seen before in comics.

Love Is Love opens with an “In Memoriam” page with the names and ages of all 49 victims from the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting. It’s then clarified that this is an IDW publication with editorial and related services provided by DC Entertainment. Following that is Patty Jenkins introduction then nonstop one or two page comics and illustrations, followed by Marc Andreyko’s afterward and a plug for Equality Florida.

While I was aware of quite a few of the people who were working on the project, there were plenty in the book I had no idea were in it up until I read their contributions. Stories from people like Dan Didio and Brian Michael Bendis. Dan Didio is someone whom members of the queer community were upset with after his mandate that characters including Batwoman could not get married. While I personally wasn’t as upset by this decision as some people were, I did understand it.

Brian Michael Bendis is someone who I’ve met, admire, and is at least somewhat responsible for getting me back into comics with the launch of Ultimate Spider-Man back when I was in high school. One area I’ve been critical with him on is his handling of Iceman being retconned as gay. While this was out of ignorance and not malice, it still made it hard for me and others to get interested in Iceman again. Now with Sina Grace on board, a queer man and another contributor to Love Is Love who contributed a great personal two page comic, I’m more than happy to give Iceman a shot again.

Two other contributors I were aware of who have had mixed responses from the queer community as of late are Paul Jenkins and James Robinson. Paul Jenkins is the creator and writer of the AfterShock comic Alters with Leila Leiz and Tamra Bonvillain. For his contribution to this anthology, Paul did a two-page story about the trans character Chalice with Tamra Bonvillain and Robert Hack illustrating instead of Leila Leiz. It’s a two-pager about how irrelevant those oppressing the queer community are becoming and it’s a positive message. The series at AfterShock has received some criticism from people in the comics community, including myself, concerned with trans representation in comics and how the character could potentially have a negative impact.

While I had qualms with the first issue in particular, Paul Jenkins has since been using the back of each issue to have a conversation with a trans person and to stress how important using proper pronouns are and other topics people in the cis community need to be more educated on.

James Robinson is a writer whose previously been nominated for a GLAAD award for his thoughtful portrayals of queer characters in comics and has been writing queer characters in his comics since the 90s. Back in the summer of 2015, James had gotten backlash over his treatment of trans people in his pseudo-autobiographical comic Airboy with Image comics. After a couple of days of online onslaught, James Robinson released a thoughtful apology. Further reprints of Airboy #2 have been edited to make it less offensive.

What do Dan Didio, Brian Michael Bendis, Paul Jenkins, and James Robinson all have in common? That despite the fact that in their long careers they’ve had at least one instance where readers questioned their portrayals and handling of queer characters, they showed up to volunteer and dedicate their time and talent to help the queer community during what’s easily one of the communities darkest times in modern American history. Allies are important, and actions do speak louder than words. And although they may have had missteps, they showed up when it counted the most and that needs to be recognized and celebrated.

While it is important to highlight allies, I would feel horrible if I discussed this anthology without highlighting more of the queer contributors. Mainstream queer talent like Phil Jimenez, Sina Grace, and James Tynion IV offer us autobiographical looks at their life and how being queer impacts it. Although Howard Cruse isn’t a contributor, he’s the subject of Justin Hall’s comic along with Howard’s beloved husband Eddie Sedarbaum. Steve Orlando gives us a touching one page comic about a queer family. Trans comics creator and journalist Emma Houxbois, an important voice whom I admire, has a touching one page comic about how important places like Pulse are to the queer community.

There are far more queer contributors in this book and I wish I could spend time talking about all of them. Two other allies I’d like to mention, Jeffrey Burandt and Sean Von Gorman, created a one page comic with public domain superhero Rainbow Boy where they save Rockbar from a bunch of Spider-Haters. Rockbar is a bar here in the West Village that I frequent fairly regularly and it’s great to see them being represented.

Love Is Love is not just an important milestone in comics history and a loving tribute to the queer community that will help benefit them, it’s also just good comics and a fun read. It took a great deal of time and a saint’s patience for Marc Andreyko to get this book from a desire to see the comics community come together after the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting and the over six months that followed for it to hit the stands. We should all be grateful for Marc’s kindness and generosity as well as the dozens and dozens of contributors that made this book possible.

At $9.99, there really is no reason not to pick up this full-length trade paperback. If you didn’t pick it up last week, please pick this up when you grab your comics this week.

John Ostrander: Quo Vadis 2017?

Well, it’s 2017. The very first day. It’s the time of year when folks look backwards into what has been, and try to give it some perspective and look forward to what may come. It’s also when some folks make resolution of what they’re going to do differently now that they have a clean slate. I don’t. It’s not that I don’t have many faults to correct (I do) but I know I won’t even remember them in a week or so, let alone keep them.

What I’m going to do is look forward, not with predictions, but what I would like to see in the coming year in pop culture.

I’d like to see the Fantastic Four published again— but only if Marvel remembers what they’re about. This isn’t just a team, it’s a family. You can’t remove one and plug in someone else. And family is often messy. One of the great things about the FF in its early years was that they didn’t always get along. That resonated. Later, it became a cliché but that’s because the squabbling felt pro forma and not organic. Squabbling became part of the formula instead of revealing character and relationships. It wasn’t new; it became rote.

The other thing the Fantastic Four was about was discovery. It bounced from one new idea to the next – Galactus, the Inhumans, the Negative Zone, Silver Surfer, Black Panther, and more. It was always throwing out new concepts. This is why it was the foundation of the Marvel Universe. It’s why it was indeed what it proclaimed on its masthead: the World’s Greatest Comic Magazine.

Which is the next thing that I’d like to see this year – more new ideas, more imagination. There’s a lot of that, for sure, in the Independents but the Big Two could use a shot of both. Changing the sex, race, ethnicity of a created character doesn’t qualify in my book especially since, sooner or later, the character will revert to who/what they were. It’s always happened in the past.

I’m not arguing against diversity in comics; I’ve always done diversity. Witness Amanda Waller, Oracle, Mr. Terrific (II) and so on. Switching existing characters isn’t the same thing; not in my book. It becomes just another stunt. Create new characters, make them cool, and put some push behind them. Add them to your comics, your movies, your TV shows, your animation, your video games.

Wait, there’s a rub and I know what it is. To do that you need Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Will Eisner and so on. You need creative people and they would prefer to keep those characters for themselves, put on a Kickstarter, and own the rights. Corporate doesn’t want to do that; they prefer to do endless regurgitations and variations on what they already own. Slap a new coat of paint on that baby! That’s the ticket!

Why should creators sign away their creations? What the Big Two has to offer is bigger sales and possible translation into other media. Some creators still won’t go for it but others will— if they have a share of what comes in and some measure of control.

I’d also like to see a new definition of metahumans in society. Marvel made a big difference when it started up because their heroes had psychological problems, personal concerns, and often were acting out of guilt over something. Marvel became successful because they seemed new and closer to the world in which the rest of us lived. It re-defined the genre.

That was fifty years or so ago.

How about another re-definition that fits our times, our lives as they are lived now? Brian Michael Bendis certainly did that with Powers, for example. How about a whole line of comics that does that? Wouldn’t that be better than Civil War II (III,IV) or Crisis on Infinite Somewhere? Start by looking around and asking, “How can we make our universe more like the world outside? Make it mirror the questions and concerns people have right now?”

Anyway, that’s my rant. . .er, wish. . . for the New Year’s. Feel free to join in. What is your wish list for the coming year in comics? Not predictions; what do you want this year? Could be interesting.

And Happy New Year to you all.

Emily S. Whitten: Hyped for Jessica Jones

JessicaJones

Jessica Jones is the next up in Marvel’s series of Netflix TV shows, and I am beyond excited for it. I was excited for Daredevil, I loved Daredevil, I am excited that there’s going to be more Daredevil; but if possible, I think I may be more excited to see Jessica Jones than I was even to see Vincent D’Onofrio playing the Kingpin. Why? I’ll tell you why.

Jessica Jones is an odd duck in the Marvel universe. When the story opens, she’s not a hero (anymore) and she’s not a villain. She’s tried the hero thing, and has now made the choice to walk away from it. She’s had a horrific traumatic experience, and is now trying to live life on her own terms. In fact, she’s pretty much the Harry Dresden of NYC (without the male gaze and other weird holdovers from the early Dresden Files books. Sorry, Jim Butcher; I’m a huge Dresden fan, but those early stories have a few issues).

Like Harry, she comes from a tortured past of literal manipulation and has major trust issues; wields a ton of power; and because of her abilities, keeps getting sucked in, no matter whether it’s what she wants or not, to the greater world of the super-powered heroes and villains. And also like Harry, her past, her powers, and her present issues often make her life a big ol’ mess; and have given her some serious attitude.  I love the complexities and rough edges of her character; and I love that Marvel appears to be presenting a three-dimensional, imperfect (and therefore human and relatable) woman as the second headlining female in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, following on the excellent and nuanced performance of Hayley Atwell as Agent Carter. Jessica Jones is a no-nonsense badass with a rebellious streak and (well-founded) control issues, and she’s not trying to make friends; but she also has a heart that is still looking to do good.

This is illustrated in the Netflix tie-in comic that I picked up at NYCC. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, with art by Michael Gaydos (the same writer and artist team who did the original 28-issue comics series), the comic references Daredevil’s run-in with Turk in the Daredevil Netflix series, and shows Jessica Jones tracking Turk down; but not to inflict Daredevil-style justice on him. Instead, she’s there to collect on child support payments that he owes. As she says, “I don’t know what messed-up house you grew up in that made you think it’s okay to be the way you are; but you brought kids into this world, and if you can’t be there for them like a grown-up, the least you can do, I mean the very least, is provide for them; so that maybe the cycle of nonsense that created you stops with you.”

It’s an interesting sentiment to punch home in the tie-in introductory book; and it emphasizes that in Jones’ world, a) your past doesn’t provide an excuse for you not to try to fix your future (something she’s dealing with herself); and b) what she cares about are the individual responsibilities and characters of the people she deals with.

Although I confess I am not deep into the lore of Jones in the comics (I haven’t explored too far into the MAX line, although of course I have all the Deadpool stuff), from what I know the original series also took this track of being more personal and less grandiose, so it seems Netflix is sticking with the flavor of the source material, which is great. Netflix is also sticking with the gritty, intense feel of the MAX line of comics. The show’s trailers continue in the dark vein of Daredevil, and Krysten Ritter has so far done an excellent job of conveying Jessica’s complex character in the trailers. It’s clear from her portrayal that this character’s story is deep, and messy, and complicated; and that makes for good TV. This is the kind of character I can’t help but want to see more of.

Netflix also looks to be delving into even darker, more disturbing territory than Daredevil with the introduction of Jessica’s nemesis, Killgrave (the Purple Man in the comics), played by David Tennant (who is always good value, as the Brits say, so I’m looking forward to seeing him in this). Although I don’t know all of the indignities Jones suffered at the hands of Killgrave, even the thought of someone having the power to manipulate one’s behavior is chilling, and the hints of her past in the trailers are über creepy; so I’m sure what we’ll see in the show will be pretty terrifying. And I like that, as with the Kingpin, the villain here didn’t start out as e.g. an all-powerful god of mischief, or the ruler of his own little country. He did, however, start out as a spy, so it will be interesting to see what they might do with that in the show.

It will also be cool to see how Luke Cage (played by Mike Colter) starts to fit into the Netflix/Marvel universe. He’s the next character slated to have his own show, and he appears in the Jessica Jones trailers and is listed as appearing in all episodes. Given that Jones and Cage have both a working and a romantic relationship in the comics, it makes sense to introduce him here; but I’m curious to see how he fits while she is the main character; and to what extent she will then be appearing in his series. Regardless, in the brief appearances I’ve seen so far, I’m liking the character.

The bottom line as we ramp up to Jessica Jones is that it looks like we’re in for an intense, chilling, suspenseful, intricate story enveloping a character with a fascinating tale to be told, possibly set as an investigative procedural; and I really love investigative procedurals. It also looks like Netflix is going to continue its strong start with Daredevil as we move into round 2 before going on to Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and finally, The Defenders. It’s an ambitious undertaking, but it seems that Marvel’s idea of tying this string of shows into each other and then into an ensemble cast affair may just turn out to be as awesome in reality as it sounds in concept. And on that note; when Jessica Jones rolls around on November 20, I am so. There.

And in the meantime, Servo Lectio!

Mike Gold: Feige Island and the Sharks of Doom

Le Pétomane

Last week, Rich Johnston over at Bleeding Cool wrote one of his typically brilliant pieces about how Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige aced out Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter and put to death the Marvel Creative Committee – Alan Fine, Brian Michael Bendis, Dan Buckley, Joe Quesada and others from time to time such as  Jeph Loeb and Axel Alonso.

That last bit makes my head hurt. Consciously turning your back on such a gifted, knowledgeable and successful group of people because you think you know how to do it better is not the act of a good businessperson, it’s the act of a megalomaniac.

Rich asks the question “how did Feige manage to strong-arm Disney into this decision?” That’s a fascinating question, as historical inquiries go. I’d like to toss out some comments about the future of Feige Island (Rich’s term; I only steal from the best). To paraphrase the most over-paraphrased phrase in comics, “with great power comes great exposure.”

This is not a prediction, it’s an analysis. Lots of shit will come down the pike. However, this is one of those rare occasions where logic is useful. Sooner or later, Marvel Studios is going to drop a turd. No slight against Marvel; it’s the second law of thermodynamics, although I phrased it somewhat differently. It’s going to happen sooner or later.

The highest dictum of business is “cover your ass.” Once again I shall quote the great Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles, where he played Governor William J. Le Petomane at his conference table. “We’ve got to protect our phony baloney jobs, gentlemen!”

This is the principle by which business, government, and Hollywood lives and is bound to live. So, when Marvel Studios finally lays that egg, who is going to get the blame? If the buck stops at Kevin Feige’s wallet, who else is there to blame? Ike Perlmutter? Nope; he’s been banished from Feige Island. If Kevin doesn’t get himself a fall guy… then he is the fall guy.

Why the hell would a creative manager void himself of input from the likes of Bendis, Buckley, Quesada, Loeb, Fine and Alonso? Did Feige actually see any of the Marvel Studios product?

How about the balance sheets?

(For a swell time, Google Mel Brooks’ muse Le Pétomane, the stage name of the French flatulist Joseph Pujol. Seriously. You’ll be amazed and delighted… and, probably, a bit disgusted.)

The Point Radio: Getting POWERS On TV – Finally

The process of turning the Image Comics hit POWERS from book to TV wasn’t an easy one. Co-creator Brian Michael Bendis talks about all the bumps along the way, plus Susan Heyward and Eddie Izzard from the new Sony TV series share how they came on board. Plus Nestor Carbonell from BATES MOTEL talks about the path his character is on this season and what is really behind his relationship with Norma.

In a few days, we look at UNDATEABLE, headed back to NBC, and we head to the set with creator Bill Lawrence and comedian Ron Funches.
Be sure to follow us on 
Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Take a first look at the trailer for “Powers”

Take a first look at the trailer for “Powers”

Sony’s Playstation Network debuted the first trailer for its live-action adaptation of Powers to a packed room at New York Comic Con today.

Based on Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming’s creator-owned comic, Powers is currently in production starring Sharlto Copley as Christian Walker, Susan Heyward as Deena Pilgrim, and Michelle Forbes as Retro Girl, and is slated to debut on the video game console’s new streaming network this fall.