dc_comics_logo_2013After another week of snow in Boston, we are half-insane from seeing the same four walls, but we have braved rolling blizzards, loud workmen and sporadic Internet outages to bring you a discussion about DC’s new publishing strategy!

It’s not quite a reboot, and it’s not quite an Implosion, but it seems like an attempt to step back from three years of tightly-enforced continuity, to roll back a few missteps introduced in the 2011 reboot (Hi, Starfire!), and to welcome new readers of demographics other than middle-aged white people. However, considering we are both middle-aged white people, this move means different things to each of us, so we try to hash out how we feel about the idea.

We also discuss:

  • Miracleman #15, written by Alan Moore (we’ll call you “The Original Writer” once your check clears, Alan) with art by John Totleben, and:
  • The Goon: Once Upon A Hard Time #1, written and drawn by Eric Powell!

And now the disclaimers:

  • We record this show love to tape. While this might mean a looser comics podcast than you are used to, it also mean that anything can happen. Like an intense discussion about scotch that has been sent into space.
  • This show contains spoilers. While we try to shout out warnings ahead of time, be aware that at the very least, we will be spoiling a story that was originally published in 1988 (and seriously, you should buy and read Miracleman #15).
  • This show contains profane, explicit language, and is therefore not safe for work. Blame it on the Space Scotch and cabin fever if you must, but get some headphones.
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flash_arrow_crossoverIt’s a jam-packed episode this week! We start off by briefly discussing the recent Internet kerfuffles over (some) creators vs. cosplayers at comic conventions, and the complaints that Marc Andreyko’s current storyline in Batwoman depicts the practical rape of protagonist Kathy Kane.

But then we move on to lighter topics. Specifically, this week’s crossover between The Flash and Arrow on their respective television shows. We talk about what worked, what was fun (God help us, that includes the Man Who Will Be Vibe), and what didn’t (Hi, Iris West!).

Then we move to week four of DC’s Convergence storyline, comprising mostly pre-Crisis On Infinite Earths alternate universe characters and teams. Meaning that these are stories that will appeal mostly to elderly readers. And Geoff Johns!

And finally, we discuss:

  • Crossed One Hundred #1, written by Alan Moore with art by Gabriel Andrade, and:
  • Escape From New York #1, written by Christopher Sebela with art by Diego Barreto!

And now the legalese:

  • We record this show live to tape. While this might mean a looser comics podcast than you are normally accustomed to, it also means that anything can happen. Like the classification of Iris West as a common “cape climber.”
  • This show contains spoilers.
  • This show contains adult, profane language, and is therefore not safe for work. So unless you want your boss to know that you’re listening to programming about a “Disco Epilepsy Ray,” get some headphones.
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miracleman_annual_1_coverThere are two types of people in this world: superhero comic fans who love Miracleman by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, and superhero comic fans who haven’t read all of it yet. Rob is in column A, and Amanda is in column B. Which means that they had very different reactions upon hearing that Marvel has announced that they will be publishing a Miracleman annual, with stories by Grant Morrison and Peter Milligan. This announcement begs the question: should new creators be allowed to jump into a story like Miracleman, which is a combined yet singular vision between two epic creators? And being two different types of people, Amanda and Rob have differing views on the announcement.

But there is more to comics than a couple of new short stories tacked onto a 30-year-old narrative. So Amanda and Rob also discuss:

  • The Death of Wolverine #1, written by Charles Soule with pencils by Steve McNiven,
  • Original Sin #8, written by Jason Aaron with art by Mike Deodato and
  • Big Trouble In Little China #4, written by Eric Powell and drawn by Brian Churilla!

And now the legalese:

  • We record this show live to tape. While this might mean a slightly looser show than your normal comics podcast, it also means that anything can happen.
  • This show contains spoilers. While we try to throw out a verbal warning before we cut loose, consider this fair warning.
  • Amanda and Rob use adult, explicit language, and therefore this show is not safe for work. The janitors portrayed in Miracleman had Walkman headphones for work, and that was 1984. What’s your excuse?
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Enjoy the show, suckers!

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miracleman_1_eclipse_coverThe first issue of Marvel’s reprint of Miracleman, drawn by Garry Leach and written by someone Marvel is referring to as “The Original Writer” in order to avoid litigation, but who we will refer to as “The Cranky Old Bastard,” will be released on January 15th, 2014, which, purely by coincidence, will be the same day that my original Eclipse Comics copy of Miracleman #1 plummets to a value where it will be less expensive to use as attic insulation than fiberglass.

While I have been excited for these reprints, it has only been in that they are precursors for Neil Gaiman’s and Mark Buckingham’s completion of their The Silver Age and The Dark Age stories that were scuttled in the 1990s when Eclipse went under. After all, I do own the complete original Eclipse run (including Miracleman: Apocrypha, Miracleman 3D and one or two of the trade paperback reprints of the original issues), so it’s not like I need the reprints for the story. And sure, Marvel has announced that they’re completely digitally remastering the artwork, but really: how much of a difference could that make?

A reasonable amount, it turns out. Marvel has released a few pages from that first issue to show off some of that remastered original Leach art… and it’s looking pretty good. And you can check them out after the jump.

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alan_mooreThey say that you should never meet your heroes, and I am okay with that proposition. Because they also say that you must separate the artist from the art, and I have been forced to do that for my entire adult life. Not only ephemerally – I could read Hunter Thompson all day long, but there is no doubt he was a violent, drugsucking monstrosity, and I could enjoy reading Harlan Ellison stories for a thousand years without having to hear the man calling me a dullard – but professionally. I have worked with comedians – comedians you have heard of – who were the worst kind of arrogant and selfish scumbags, and people in the music industry who would pretend you never even existed if it meant another case of comp’ed CDs to sell to local record stores at a discount, like a common mafioso.

So while I consider several comics writers from the 1980s to be heroes of mine, I am okay if I never meet them. The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One are a couple of the greatest comic stories I’ve ever read, I think I can go to my grave without having Frank Miller chase me around while shrieking, “hippie!” and trying to cut my ponytail off with a replica switchblade from the set of Sin City. Miller’s political beliefs or behavior doesn’t take away a word or line of Dark Knight, but I don’t think it’s something I want to witness firsthand.

And then there’s Alan Moore. My copies of Miracleman are amongst my most prized possessions, and I have both Watchmen and V For Vendetta as not only the original issues, but as the big ol’ Absolute hardcover editions. Those stories taught me, as a teenager, that the superhero stories I loved as a child didn’t need to be put aside, but could be enjoyed as I moved into adulthood. The man basically invented the idea of the superhero written maturely for adults.

And once again, Moore has gone on record saying that he hates the idea of the superhero written maturely for adults.

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miracleman_1_eclipse_coverThere are hazards, when you run a comics blog, to making the decision to fuck off to central New Hampshire to play classic video games during the weekend when the New York Comic Con is occuring. We knew when we made the call that we would miss some news, but we figured that that wouldn’t be all that big a deal, as there would be half a dozen comics blogs with budgets bigger than ours (read: almost all of them) who would have boots on the ground and be better able to cover it than we would even if we spent the weekend parked at the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Home Office Information Center (read: the couch with a first-generation Transformer tablet tuned to our “comics news” RSS feed).

So we knew that we would be late with some news… we just didn’t anticipate that some of that news would entail several hundred dollars worth of direct impending loss of value to our personal comic collection!

To wit: Marvel announced at New York Comic Con that they would be reprinting Neil Gaiman’s and Mark Buckingham’s late-80s / early-90s run on Miracleman… and that they would be finishing the three-part storyline that was aborted after Miracleman #25, the first part of the middle The Silver Age storyline, after Eclipse Comics went under.

Which is excellent news (well, it’s excellent news for anyone who didn’t spend the first two years of the 21st Century hunting down those original Eclipse issues), but that original announcement only referenced Gaiman’s and Buckingham’s issues, which didn’t start until Miracleman #17. Miracleman #1 through #16 were written by Alan Moore, and include the infamous 15th issue, Nemesis, writh art by John Totleben and featuring the complete decimation of London in the battle between Miracleman and Kid Miracleman. If you’ve never read it, it’s a classic, that is well worth the fat cash I dropped on it during a drunken bidding war on eBay in 2002.

And it looks like that is fat cash that I will never see again, because today Marvel made it official: they will be reprinting the entire Eclipse Comics run, starting with Alan Moore’s Miracleman #1, starting in January.

But Marvel’s still not using Moore’s name anyplace.

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avatar_panel_brooks_christensen_sdcc_20131113153242And here we are: our final article covering San Diego Comic-Con 2013 (except for a bunch of video that my high-toned, dedicated video camera seems to have mangled, unless my actual computer here at the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Home Office can do anything to salvage them), five days after the convention ended and more than a week after the actual panel occurred. But what the hell; given my crippling hangover and intestinal issues born from the fried chicken sandwich and fries I washed down with five black IPAs at a bar last night, it feels like I’m still at SDCC. So let’s just plow ahead, shall we?

The Avatar Press panel on Thursday morning, July 18th, with Avatar Founder and Editor-In-Chief William Christensen and World War Z and Extinction Parade writer Max Brooks, was the first panel we hit during SDCC 2013, and in some ways it set the tone for the whole convention. The room wasn’t full, but there was a healthy crowd for a comic book related panel on the most off day of the convention. Not that there are any off days at SDCC anymore, but if there is a day that qualifies, it’s this mid-week opening to the full-blown festivities. Unlike Preview Night, the whole convention center is open, and cosplayers are more plentiful, all of which draws people off the floor and makes it at least tolerable to move around; there’s nothing like a set of jugs in a spandex Power Girl suit to peel off the rubes so you can get where you’re going.

But where we were going was a panel, and we were going there later than we should. Which meant we could get a seat up front and to the side… right in front of the projector many panels use to put up new art for display. Which meant that, as a six foot tall gentleman, I spent the panel hunched over like Frankenstein’s delivery boy to stay out of the projector light, scribbling notes almost on my side as if trying to write “I am having a stroke” for the paramedics, just in case Christensen and Brooks put some new art up on the screen.

Which they did not. Every table at every panel at Comic-Con has a posted sign for presenters, reminding them that members of the crowd might be younger than 18. And every fan of Avatar comics knows that there is very little art that they could project that would be appropriate for children. There is very little Avatar art that would not make children long for the sweet release of death, or at least blindness, to tell you the truth. Avatar books are for adults, and that is on purpose.

“I just do books I want to read,” Christensen said. “It will always be intense work for adults.”

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It can’t be this easy. And make no mistake, it won’t be… but as of a week or so ago, Marvel Comics now seems to have the rights to the trademarks of Marvelman and Miracleman, putting them under the same roof for the first time in… well, considering Dez Skinn started publishing Marvelman stories in Warrior back in the 80s without necessarily paying Mick Anglo, the character’s creator know, maybe ever.

So here’s how it apparently plays out… and let’s all keep in mind that I am not a lawyer, I am not privy to nearly 30 years of discussions and legal paperwork, and I am quite hung over: Neil Gaiman settled the main part of his lawsuit against Todd McFarlane over the rights to the Spawn characters Gaiman created for McFarlane back in January of this year. But apparently there was still an outstanding issue: McFarlane had filed a trademark for the Miracleman character after he bought out Eclipse Comics in the early 2000’s, and Gaiman had, in turn, filed an opposition to that trademark. And that trademark has remained in dispute since then, even after the disposition of the original lawsuit, meaning that even though Marvel bought the rights to the Marvelman trademark from Anglo back in 2009, the trademark for Miracleman – which includes all the Eclipse-printed Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman stories form the 80s, which are the only ones anyone gives a fuck about – was still up in the air.

Well, whether as part of the terms of the settlement, or via sheer laziness or forgetfulness, it seems McFarlane has legally abandoned his claim to the Miracleman trademark. And on September 5th, Marvel Comics filed their own notice of trademark on the name.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Super – nah; it’s just spoilers.

Alan Moore’s run on Supreme, back when it was part of Rob Liefeld’s Awesome Comics imprint in the mid-90s, was a classic of the superhero genre in an era that brought us The Spider-Man Clone Saga, the death of Superman, and nearly every other comic book that wasn’t StarmanHitman, Preacher or Channel Zero (my pull list was a lot shorter and cheaper between, say, 1995 and 2000). It was a simple concept: examine the character of Superman using a pastiche character, using versions of Superman’s Silver and Bronze age history as canon, while placing that character in the modern world of the 1990s, all about fifteen or so years before All-Star Superman was a glimmer in Grant Morrison’s baggie of peyote.

What with Liefeld resurrecting the comics under his Awesome imprint under the Image proper label, bringing back Supreme was a gimme, especially considering Alan Moore’s script for issue 63 had been written, but never produced, what with Awesome folding back in 2000. Moore’s final issue dropped a couple of months back, with Image partner Erik Larsen taking over writing and art in the subsequent issue. And Larsen is no Alan Moore. No one is… but in Supreme #66, he gets the broad tones and feelings right while updating Supreme for the 2010s. The question is: is that enough?

The answer is: kinda.

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