Tagged: Detective Comics

Hero Initiative membership drive

Stan Lee's Hero Initiative membershipA press release from the Hero Initiative:

The Hero Initiative announced today that annual memberships for the organization are now available for purchase. There are four levels of membership: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Excelsior!

A Bronze membership costs $29 and includes: a personalized membership card (which will arrive approximately 4-5 weeks after you sign up), a quarterly newsletter and a Hero Initiative sketch card from a randomly selected artist. Artists include Mike Bencic, Dan Brereton, Dick Giordano, Bob Hall, Dan Jurgens, Mike Mayhew, George Pérez, Joe Quesada, John Romita Sr., Dave Simons, Jim Valentino, Carly Wagner, Bob Wiacek, Richard Zajac and more!

A Silver membership costs $99 and includes: all of the Bronze perks, plus a Hero Initiative T-shirt (your choice of Dawn or Hero Hand), a copy of the Marvel Then and Now DVD and a copy of The Unusual Suspects graphic novel.

A Gold membership costs $250 and includes: all of the Silver perks, plus invitations to Hero Initiative VIP Members-Only parties at 2009’s Wizard World Los Angeles and Wizard World Chicago.

An Excelsior! membership costs $500 and includes: all of the Gold perks, plus your flat item (maximum size 11” x 17”), signed and personalized by the one and only Stan Lee.

“I’m always amazed and happy to see the support that fans have shown Hero,” said Hero Initiative President Jim McLauchlin. “Hopefully, this will be a new way they can show affinity, and get some nice goodies in the process.”

This is the first time memberships to The Hero Initiative have been offered. It was put into place with the fans foremost in mind and on consultation with GeekInTheCity.com, a website that covers all things geek, from comics to movies to games. As such, GeekInTheCity’s Aaron Duran is member #1, Jen Duran is member #2 and Stan Lee is member #3. Creator Paul Dini (Detective Comics, Madame Mirage) is also a member already, as is Mid-Ohio Con promoter Roger Price.

The Hero Initiative does more than help people in need,” said Aaron Duran, explaining why he was eager to help start this membership drive. “They give back to those that inspired our hopes and dreams. They help artists and writers in need, artists and writers that inspired all our tomorrows. Please help the Hero Initiative protect theirs.”

To become a member of The Hero Initiative, fans can sign up at www.atomiccomicsstore.com/heroinitiative.html or on-site at The Hero Initiative booth at the following upcoming comic book conventions: Phoenix Cactus Comic-Con, Jan. 23-25; New York Comic Con, Feb. 6-8; WonderCon, Feb. 27 – March 1; Orlando MegaCon, Feb. 27 – March 1; and Wizard World Los Angeles, March 13-15.

More info at their blog: http://heroinitiative.blogspot.com/

‘Roots of the Swamp Thing’ Includes 3 by Nestor Redondo

‘Roots of the Swamp Thing’ Includes 3 by Nestor Redondo

Lost amidst DC Comics’ latest round of solicitations is a historic reprint collection of one of its seminal works: DC Comics Classics Library: Roots of the Swamp Thing. And it’s historic not because it represents the first hardback compilation of the material but because the story is being published in its entirety for the first time ever.
Upon her arrival at DC Comics in 1976, Jeanette Kahn made no secret of her disdain for the company’s sampler-style use of reprints in the years prior to her arrival. Instead, she wanted to see specific fan-favorite storylines compiled in a single volume or series. So 1977 saw the release of four key Ra’s al Ghul stories in the tabloid-sized Limited Collectors’ Edition #C-51 and the beginning of an irregularly-published set of one-shots called the Original Swamp Thing Saga (appearing in DC Special Series #2, 14, 17 and 20) that ultimately reprinted Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson’s Swamp Thing #1-10 from 1972-1974.
The years passed and collections of specific stories grew to become the industry standard, evolving from the newsprint of these formative examples to much nicer grades of paper and from the traditional pamphlet-type package to paperbacks and hardcovers. There was a tendency, however, to favorite the art over the scripts in many of these early (and not-so-early) collections.
When Steve Englehart’s landmark eight-part Batman opus from Detective Comics from 1977 was reprinted (first in 1985/1986 and again in 1999), the impact of his last chapter was blunted a bit by the fact that the Len Wein-scripted Clayface III follow-up was attached by virtue of the fact that it had also been penciled by Marshall Rogers. Conversely, Wein’s own run has only ever been reprinted up to Swamp Thing #10–because that’s the point when artist Bernie Wrightson left the book. Problem is, Len continued to write Swamp Thing for another three issues, ably abetted by artist Nestor Redondo. More significantly, he carried the themes from issue #1 (and specifically the tragic creature’s relationship to his pursuers Matt Cable and Abby Arcane) to a touching, satisfying conclusion in #13.
Unfortunately, the fan without access to the original issues has never read it. The first ten issues (along with the prototype story from House of Secrets #92) were gathered again on much nicer paper in 1986’s Roots of the Swamp Thing #1-5 before going the trade paperback route with Swamp Thing: Dark Genesis in 1992. And most recently in the digest-sized Secret of the Swamp Thing (2005). [Meantime, the pre-series short story from House of Secrets #92 is now one of the ten most-reprinted stories in DC’s history, with–to date–ten reprintings compared to Swamp Thing #1’s five.]


The Stories That Informed ‘Batman R.I.P.’

The Stories That Informed ‘Batman R.I.P.’

“Criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot. So my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. I must be a creature of the night, black, terrible …a…a…”
As if in answer, a huge image of a Caped Crusader flashed across a movie screen. Across monitors throughout space and time and other dimensions.
“It’s an omen!” each man, alien and other-dimensional imp declared. “I shall become a Batman!”
One of the attractions of Batman was, it’s often been said, the fact that a kid could actually imagine growing up to be the Caped Crusader. No one was ever going to grow up to be Superman but with an extensive training regimen (and a hefty bank account) …well, anything’s possible. Overlay that with the spirit of mainstreaming and conformity of the 1950s and you end up with a universe where there seemed to be a Batman knock-off on every corner and planet.
In 1964, editor Julius Schwartz found his arm twisted into taking over the flagging Batman titles. He immediately ditched the extended Batman family and the increasingly prevalent space alien stories for a more contemporary angle grounded in the real world. And as the years rolled on, Schwartz and company refined their approach and gradually, permanently put the Dark back in their Knight.


Batman to Sue Warner Bros.

Batman to Sue Warner Bros.

Batman, the small subdistrict of Ankara, Turkey announced on Wednesday their attention to sue Warner Bros. for its Batman movie franchise.  According to the story at India’s Top News, Batman mayor Huseyin Kalkan feels permission should have been obtained prior to filming. The very first filmed Batman was the 1943 serial with the first full-length feature being the 1966 movie with the television cast. More recently, The Dark Knight amassed $992,764,009 in global box office receipts according to Box Office Mojo.

Batman became a distinct subdistrict in 1937, two years before the character’s debut in Detective Comics #27. The name comes from the Batman River and as it prospered it first became a town of Siirt in 1957, and in 1990 was made its own province.

"There is only one Batman in this world," said Kalkan. "Without telling us, the US makers of the films have taken the name of our region."

The mayor confirmed for the press that he would file suit in the United States if it came to that.

Robin, Nightwing, Birds of Prey Cancelled

Robin, Nightwing, Birds of Prey Cancelled

Batman #681 won’t be out until November 19, but its effects are already being felt as DC Comics has confirmed that three of the satellite titles, Robin, Nightwing, and Birds of Prey will be cancelled in February. Another related title, Catwoman, was cancelled earlier this year.

All three titles were launched in the 1990s as the Batman line rapidly expanded under editor Denny O’Neil and the supporting cast grew by leaps and bounds. Given their middling monthly sales and decreased trade collection volume, the cancellations were not a surprise.

The timing was also carefully planned; something confirmed by Robin writer Fabian Nicieza who told ComicMix, "I knew the plans for Robin since I was first offered the assignment. Part of my enthusiasm all along was knowing the responsibility I had to get the character to a very interesting new phase of his life. It’s only the start of very exciting things for Tim Drake."

The next phase of Bat-continuity kicks off with the two-issue Battle for the Cowl to be written by Judd Winick. What follows remains a closely guarded secret. By then, the Bat-family of titles will be reduced to Batman, Detective Comics, Batman and the Outsiders, Superman/Batman and a cycle of The Brave and the Bold.  The latter series will be featuring Bruce Wayne in the cowl so as not to distract readers drawn to the issues which will introduce Archie’s Red Circle super-heroes to the DC Universe.

Robin finally gained his own solo ongoing series in 1994 after three well-received miniseries from Chuck Dixon and Tom Lyle.  Dixon returned last year to handle the character in the wake of One Year Later but was summarily removed and Nicieza replaced him.

Nightwing was awarded his own ongoing in 1996 after just one tryout miniseries by O’Neil and newcomer Greg Land.  Again, Dixon wrote the project for its first seven years before ceding to Devin Grayson.  Currently being produced by Peter Tomasi and Don Kramer, the character is also seen in Titans and across the DCU as a popular guest star.

Birds of Prey was originally a one-shot featuring Oracle and Black Canary from Dixon but it spawned one-shots and a miniseries before gaining its own monthly in 1999 with Dixon and Land at the outset.  Its popularity and creative success led to the one-season WB television series.  Gail Simone succeeded Dixon and at Dixonverse, she noted that since her departure followed by Black Canary being switched from BOP to JLA, “It’s just that the emotional core was removed and that’s always a bad idea. It wasn’t my idea, but it was a bit of a trade-off because her popularity in bop meant she could do things like lead the JLA and have a book with her name on the cover. And since I loved the character that seemed a fair trade to make, to help move her up the ladder of importance.” Currently written by Tony Bedard, it’s been much more of a team series far removed from Gotham.

The final issues will be Robin #183, Nightwing #153 and Birds of Prey #127.

Moustache Wax, by Dennis O’Neil

Moustache Wax, by Dennis O’Neil

My brother had a Sportsman McCain sticker on his car, but I wasn’t worried. The night before, a nice young man in a bookstore, a complete stranger, gave me a big peace button and with that pinned to my vest, I was pretty sure I was safe from the McCain vibes, even though we were in a red state.

I watched Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live a few hours later, and although I thought she handled the comedy okay, and my dirty old man merit badge glowed just a tiny bit, I was and am not tempted to vote for her, no siree, and so I guess the peace button was potent even indoors.

Who might that nice young man have been? Merlin? Galahad? The ghost of Thomas Jefferson? Or, given that I was in St. Louis, land of the mighty arch and my childhood, the ghost of my own naïve, youthful dreams?

Ah well. No matter. What’s important is that the peace button/amulet did its stuff.

As a shield against the dark enchantments of McCain and Palin, it did its stuff. In other areas…not so good. At this moment, our luggage is somewhere between White Plains Airport and Dulles, or between Dulles and Lambert Field, or in a terminal or storage facility in one of those three terminals. This provides me with an absolutely unnecessary reminder of one of several reasons why I hate commercial flying. Or – could it be? – our bags are in a sub-basement of the Republican National Headquarters where Palin herself is squirting my moustache wax from the little tube, seeking the secret of how I resisted her SNL appearance. (Rest easy: she won’t find it. The peace button was in my carryon.)

And what, the inquisitive among you might be asking, has any of this to do with comics, popular culture, or even real politics, for it seems to be less concerned with any of those things than an Andy Rooney kvetch about how expensive goods are nowadays has to do with the Gross National Product. Fair question. Answer? Let me see…Okay, try this.


ComicMix Six: Batman’s Super-Powers

ComicMix Six: Batman’s Super-Powers

There’s an upcoming story in the Superman/Batman title that will involve our long-eared Dark Knight getting superhuman abilities (albeit, temporarily). Writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson have been doing great work on the title, so this promises to be an entertaining tale.

But did you know that this won’t be the first time Batman has been given super-human talents? Here are just some of the more interesting adventures that have occurred when Bruce Wayne wound up gifted with "power and abilities far beyond those of mortal men."

PLEASE NOTE: I am not including times where Batman used technology to help him out, such as a suit of armor or a rocket pack or New God weapons. Nor am I including times when he got powers for only a few pages, such as when he borrowed Hawkman’s wing-harness and Nth metal belt or the time that Hal Jordan let him try on his Green Lantern power ring for a minute. Those times may have been cool, but they lasted for only a scene rather than a fully story. Likewise, I am not including any Elseworlds tales, so deal with it.



Review: ‘The Joker: The Greatest Stories Ever Told’

This summer is a big one for Batman’s deadliest foe, the Joker, with the deceased Heath Ledger giving an apparently mesmerizing take on the clown prince of crime in [[[The Dark Knight]]].

And just in time comes the latest printing from DC of The Joker: The Greatest Stories Ever Told ($19.99), which offers some of the character’s legendary moments from his debut in 1940 in Batman #1 to last year’s macabre Christmas tale from Paul Dini.

First, lets dispense with the hyperbole of the title. There are some great Joker moments here, but several of the character’s biggest aren’t included. There’s nothing from [[[The Killing Joke]]],[[[ A Death in the Family]]] or [[[Dark Knight Returns]]], for example.

More than anything, this is a great primer on the Joker, charting his characterizations over his six-plus decades of existence as he became quite likely the most recognizable evil-doer in comics.


Happy Birthday: Mike W. Barr

Happy Birthday: Mike W. Barr

Born in 1952, Mike W. Barr’s first comic book story was an eight-page backup in Detective Comics #444 in 1974.

In 1980, he started doing semi-regular backup stories in both Detective Comics and House of Mystery. He also wrote an issue of Captain America, which led to regular work with Marvel as well.

The following year, Barr picked up some editorial duties at DC and also started writing Star Trek for Marvel. In 1982, he wrote Camelot 3000, one of the first so-called “maxi-series.”

August 1983 saw the debut of Batman and the Outsiders, probably Barr’s best-known creation, and in 1987 he wrote Batman: Son of the Demon, which is often credited as singlehandedly restoring DC’s fortunes.

Since then Barr has done many more comic book projects, including more Batman stories, a two-parter for JLA: Classified, a relaunch of his Maze Agency series, and a piece for Star Trek: The Manga.

He also wrote a Star Trek novel, Gemini, which included some of the characters he created in the Star Trek comic book series.

Captain America Creator Joe Simon: ‘We Wuz Robbed’

Speaking to The New York Times, Captain America co-creator Joe Simon reflected on the character and his struggle to gain some of the rights to the Captain America franchise. Simon will be one of the speakers at this weekend’s New York Comic Con.

Simon and Jack Kirby ended up leaving the franchise after fighting with publisher Martin Freeman over royalties, and they ended up at Detective Comics. Simon recalled that skirmish:

“We always felt ‘we wuz robbed,’ as Joe Jacobs, the boxing promoter, used to say,” Mr. Simon said of his dispute over the ownership of Captain America, which he settled out of court with Marvel in 2003. He said his royalties for merchandising and licensing use of the hero now help pay his legal bills from the case.

But copyright was not on Mr. Simon’s mind when he was conceiving Captain America. He didn’t even begin with the hero. “Villains were the whole thing,” he said. And there was no better foil than Hitler. Who better to take him on than a supersoldier draped in the American flag?

(via Doomkopf)