Media Relations: the mouse and the spider/ August 31, 2009:
...Disney keeps growing and growing and growing. One wonders what the debt load of this company is these days. (And there's something that people never thought about before recent years. I wonder if it's possible for a media company like this to hit the official "too big to fail" point. But I digress.)

The puzzling thing about this transaction is that Disney just licensed several of its characters to Boom Studios. You'd think that if this was in process for a while -- and given the sheer size of the transaction, it must have been -- that they'd have held off and given the license to Marvel. Though, that said, the puzzling thing about giving the license to Boom in the first place is that Gemstone Publishing has long held the rights to most of the Disney characters. Though, given Gemstone's recent struggles, Disney may have been thinking of pulling the licenses, or at least was understandably reluctant to give them new business. Even on Gemstone's own site, there's an ad for a title that Disney gave to Dark Horse.

In any event, as the story notes, this is going to allow Disney access to expertise to reconnect with the young male market. In theory, at least. It is interesting to see that Marvel's movies -- as opposed to their comics -- really do connect to that young audience, while the superhero comics audience is aging and shrinking. You'd think that the film success would indicate that Marvel could connect with the younger audience in its comics, but strangely, that doesn't happen. The youth audience seems profoundly disinterested in the source material for the films....
How ... interestingly unexpected.

New gig for 'Mountain' man - Entertainment News, Film News, Media - Variety:
Looking to match its "Race to Witch Mountain" director Andy Fickman with another family adventure film, Walt Disney Studios has attached him to helm "Monster Attack Network." Scott Elder and Josh Harmon have been hired to adapt the AIT/Planet Lar graphic novel, which the studio bought last summer. The 2007 graphic novel focuses on a team of first-responders who guard the citizens of Lapuatu, a Pacific island that would be a paradise except for frequent attacks by giant monsters that rise from the sea. Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman wrote the graphic novel, illustrated by Nima Sorat.

Jason Netter is producing through his Kickstart banner. Disney views the film as a visual effects-heavy tentpole. built around an elite government agency's resolve to protect America's coasts from huge, rampaging monsters....

"Visual effects heavy" certainly makes sense. After all, how else are you going to work all the monsters in? And Monster Attack Network is an elite government agency. But ... "America's coasts"? Where did that come from? Lapuatu is supposed to be a Pacific island nation somewhere. I'm assuming that the story location was changed because faking Los Angeles/New York is simply far easier and has a bit more resonance with the audience than evoking the Unnamed Island theme from so many monster movies. (Plus, most of them end up with Tokyo getting stomped anyway.) I'm also guessing that this means that the royalist angle is right out; after all, unless the history gets considerably more alternative than one might expect, we don't have a lot of royalty thick on the ground here. Not ours, anyway.

I wonder how many of the story elements, aside from the location, will be changed. I'm betting that this being Disney means that Zeke the big black gay guy, while possibly being still big and black, is no longer gay. Which ... well, it's not as though it meant that much to the storyline anyway. But still. I also suspect that the romantic/sexual aspect of the story is going to be gutted or at least dramatically transformed, because "family adventure film" does not precisely equal a scene where characters have sex to get all that uncomfortable sexual tension out of the way in the first ten minutes of the film. None of this means that it'll be a bad film; just that it will be a very different story than the one in the book. (The fact that people have been complaining that there's no actual story in "Race to Witch Mountain", that it's a lot of running around and not much else, that would concern me.)

I have to admit, I'm now very curious as to how the casting and the rest of the story might change, or not, as the case may be.
Comic Related - Race and Gender in Comics
Many of you may know me or have seen me active in the forums. For those who don't, let me introduce myself. My name is Sean Collins and I am an artist/writer as well as the owner of Wild Wolf Entertainment LLC. I have also been a comic collector and fan for as long as I can remember. I became an active comic creator about seven years ago.

What many of you may not know is I am a proud Native American, which brings me to the what I plan to do in this column. As a Native American, I have a natural interest in how all minorities are handled in comics and related media. Here, I will be taking a look at how different races and genders have been handled throughout the history of comics....

I have to admit, I'm looking forward to seeing how that column turns out, especially since "One diverse comic book nation" seems to have ceased again.

And along those lines: "...I think a lot of the issue isn't racism as it's classically known and discussed, but just one of lazy thinking. Why can't the next semi-recurring character to be introduced be a minority?...

5 Absurd Superhero Origins: Actually, the "What would have really happened" bits are the best parts.

Keanu Reeves as Spike Siegel in "Cowboy BeBop": ... Yes. Well. quite. Mind, Spike has a very buttoned-down affect, so there's a level where this kinda sorta almost works. Kinda. Sorta. Almost. I wonder if they'll go for one of the continuity episodes, or write something that would be a sort of stand-alone episode.

RIP, GYWO. (Though, given that the war is still on, one suspects that there'd be a place for it for some time to come. The rhetorical flourishes that will be trotted out to explain why things aren't ending now-ish, or as now-ish as possible, will be legion, and mighty to see!)
Interesting things afoot.
Showtime enlists gay superhero - Entertainment News, TV News, Media - Variety:
Showtime is developing an hourlong project from comicbook icon Stan Lee that tracks the life of a gay superhero. Project is being exec produced by Lee and the president and CEO of his Pow! Entertainment banner, Gill Champion. Story, which focuses on an up-and-coming superhero who struggles to hide his secret identities, is based on the book "Hero" by Perry Moore. Moore is penning the script and also exec producing along with Hunter Hill.

Previous series television produced by Lee includes whimsical reality-competish skein "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?," which ran on the Sci Fi Channel from 2005-07. The comicbook maven is in development on several features for Paramount, including "Thor," "The First Avenger: Captain America" and a sequel to last summer's "Iron Man." Project joins more than a half-dozen others in development at Showtime, including a series retelling of "Camelot" from "Tudors" creatives Michael Hirst and Morgan O'Sullivan.

I'd heard about this, but I wasn't sure it was ever going to happen. Showtime is probably the right place for it, either that or HBO, since that will allow them not to pussyfoot around more adult themes the way, say, NBC's Heroes would have to. (If it were telling stories relatable to anything remotely resembling a human being these days, which it isn't, but that's a story for another rant.) I have to admit to being fascinated to see how Stan Lee is going to develop this. (And, as a side note, it's interesting to get confirmation of the apparent cancellation of SciFi's "Who Wants to Be A Superhero", albeit in an impressively backdoor sort of way.) I suppose Showtime is going to use it as their Big Gay Series centerpiece for the near future, replacing "The L Word" which replaced "Queer as Folk", which followed, many many years later, Showtime's comedy series "Brothers".

HBO orders fantasy pilot 'Thrones'
(the Live Feed, November 11, 2008)

HBO has given a pilot order to fantasy project "Game of Thrones." The program is based on George R.R. Martin’s bestselling series of novels "A Song of Fire & Ice" and executive produced by David Benioff ("Troy"), D.B. Weiss ("Halo") and Guymon Casady ("Hope & Faith"). The title “Game of Thrones” is from the first novel in the series.

If greenlit, “Thrones” would represent the rarest of TV genres: a full-fledged fantasy series. Though broadcasters have embraced sci-fi-tinged shows in recent years following the success of ABC’s “Lost” and NBC’s “Heroes,” and supernatural themes have been given a spin by CW’s “Supernatural” and HBO’s own “True Blood,” high fantasy is nearly nonexistent in primetime TV history -- and “Thrones” is an unabashed member of the genre. The books have swords, dragons, magic, the works. “Fantasy is the most successful genre in terms of feature films given the incredible popularity of ‘Lord of the Rings’ and Harry Potter movies,” Benioff said. “High fantasy has never been done on TV before and if anybody can do it, it’s HBO. They’ve taken tired genres and reinvented them -- mobsters in ‘The Sopranos’ and Westerns with ‘Deadwood.’”

The cost of producing a fantasy series is usually a big factor that deters networks. The producers note “Thrones” is written as a character drama and major battles often take place off stage. “It’s not a story with a million orcs charging across the plains,” Weiss said. “The most expensive effects are creature effects and there’s not much of that.”

Martin plans seven books in the series. The producers intend for each season to span one novel. But before the series can get on the air, the producers first have to slay a more formidable threat than any dragon: pilot competitors. HBO has 10 other pilots in contention for series orders. Though the network declines to project how many shows will receive an order since HBO doesn’t need to fill a specific number of time-periods like broadcasters, at least six are expected to get a pickup.


OK, look. I know that there are billyuns upon billyuns of people out there who think this series is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I mean, hey, five books in the series to date, I think, and they all sell well. Nonetheless, A Game of Thrones remains one of only four books I have ever thrown, or wanted to throw, across a room. (I heard it as an audiobook, which may have contributed to my dislike of it. Not only was there the strange skeeviness of having Roy Dotrice precisely narrate unexpected sex scenes into my brain, but the inconsistent characterization and plotting drove me mental, and since it was an audiobook, I couldn't skim to get the gist without absorbing all the maddening detail.) The characters were actually well delineated, but then they would do clearly plot-driven things that were entirely against the character as established to that point -- in at least one case, within pages of arguing against precisely that sort of action with someone else. It also, for me, ran into a very common problem with very big fantasy books -- and this is entirely idiosyncratic and not really a knock against the book -- that he kept needing to spend time, for story purposes, with characters about whom I cared not even a little. But you'd have to go through all this stuff with these people, because it was going to be important later, and it would be important later, but it was still aggravating.

Given that they're probably going to have only 7-13 hours worth of television to give the story per season, I hope that HBO can make it work better. They'll certainly need to cut out quite a lot, so that should streamline the story, hopefully not overemphasizing the action at the expense of the character development. I'd like to see an interesting costume drama where I don't have a parallel track in my head about what really should be happening. I mean, don't get me wrong, Showtime's "The Tudors" is sexy anachronistic popcorn fun, but even apart from the fact that Jonathan Rhys-Meyers does not look remotely like the historical Henry, I actually studied a bit of Tudor-era history, so I keep getting jarred out of the show by knowing that particular events simply did not happen as shown. But I digress.
virgin de-and-re-virginized
:: Liquid Comics ::: Liquid Comics has completed the management buyout of Virgin Comics led by the founding management team of Gotham Chopra, Sharad Devarajan and Suresh Seetharaman. Liquid Comics will continue to develop innovative digital, film, animation, and gaming projects for its original character, stories and other properties.

Commenting on the change, Sharad Devarajan said, "Virgin Group has been a fantastic partner with whom to work and together we have established a strong foundation of great character properties and media partnerships.

We remain fully committed to continuing our mission to provide a home for innovative creators and storytellers across the world."

It looks like this means that many, if possibly not most, of Virgin's titles will continue. The front page of the new Liquid Comics site -- which is redirected from -- contains the first issue of Devi, broken up in a very strange way. The question is, how will Liquid work without Virgin's backing? Who owns the various movie and television coproductions, Liquid or Virgin itself? Will they focus on making good comix instead of focusing so strongly on Hollywood-ready properties? And what's going to happen with the Stan Lee superhero universe that he was going to create for Virgin? Is that still alive? Will they work harder with either the direct market or the book market to get their stuff where people can see it? One of their biggest problems is that they simply got no push at all in the direct market, so a different take on superheroes fell largely on deaf ears. (NB: According to his quarterly Word Balloon interview [FIVE HOURS! FIVE!], apparently Virgin made Marvel's Brian Michael Bendis an offer to work on the Stan Lee project that he was seriously considering. I can't imagine that they can afford to throw mind-numbing amounts of money at him this time around, and in any event, he declined the first time because of all of his other existing work.)

Actually, the real question is: will there be more Devi? I really don't care about the rest of it, I just want her back. (...OK, I care about the rest of it; just not anywhere near as much.)

m. night reconsidering: In other world news, M. Night Shyamalan is considering making Unbreakable 2. Which ... hmm. On the one hand, I kind of think it was the last good movie he made, although it did end on a serious downbeat that limited who would see it. Rightly or wrongly, people generally don't like their superhero movies to end in so dark a manner -- although that said, the end of the original Superman II is awfully bittersweet, and The Dark Knight is only slightly lighter than Unbreakable (although containing more actual corpses). It also had some pacing issues here and there, although I'd say that it's one of the rare movies that doesn't kick you out of the right headspace if you wind up thinking a little about what's going on as it happens. I do think, unless he's going to posit that the main character went into hibernation over the past decade, that Bruce Willis might be a shade long in the tooth to return to the role; that said, given the amount of time that's passed, it would be interesting to see if maybe what happened with the character David Dunn is genetic, and gets passed on down to his son. After all David didn't come into his powers in any major way until he was in his 30s; maybe his son wouldn't come into his until his 20s or some such. And hey! in true supervillain fashion, maybe Samuel L. Jackson's Elijah could escape from prison to plague Dunn from his wheelchair! (And note: if M. Night does decide to make a sequel, Samuel L. is ready to go.)

minx unminxed: According to CBR, DC has pulled the plug on Minx, their imprint aimed primarily at teenaged girls. Some of the remaining titles will still be published, some won't, some won't be published as Minx titles if they're published at all. (I wonder if they'll move them to CMX?) Apparently, no matter how hard they tried, they couldn't get the titles to the manga shelves in regular bookstores. Not surprising, I suppose; with a recession chopping off people's discretionary spending, and with Borders in acute distress -- and Borders was the single largest sale point for manga in this country -- I can't imagine that anyone would have done well. (That said, while the first wave of titles was good, there seemed to be a real drop-off in quality with the second wave. Mileage varies, of course, but I didn't like the second year titles anywhere near as much as the first, with the exception of New York Four by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly.

What amuses me is that they're possibly considering moving some of the titles to Vertigo, based on the prior success of My Faith in Frankie by Mike Carey. The thing that struck me at the time was that My Faith in Frankie was truly, sincerely, desperately NOT a Vertigo title. It was too light, it was clearly -- except for the ending -- aimed at a younger audience than Vertigo's normal one. Maybe that'll work this time; they certainly won't have problems getting it into regular comics stores, and they've got some inroads into the bookstore markets for the Vertigo and DC labels.
Yes! : PILOT SEASON 2008 WINNERS ANNOUNCED: Top Cow Productions, Inc. announced today that the winners of the 2008 Pilot Season campaign are Twilight Guardian by writer Troy Hickman and artist Reza and Genius by writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman and artist Afua Richardson.

For over a month, fans went to the Top Cow website, the Pilot Season website or other sites once per day, every day, to vote for their favorite 2008 Pilot Season one-shots. Pilot Season is an annual initiative Top Cow began in 2007 that borrows its concept from the television industry: Six “pilots” are submitted for consideration to be “picked up for a season,” except instead of TV executives deciding their fates, it’s the fans! 2007’s top two vote getters, Cyblade and Velocity, will debut with new series later this year. 2008’s winners will debut with new series in 2009.

Twilight Guardian and Genius beat out Urban Myths by Jay Faerber and Jorge Molina, The Core by Jonathan Hickman and Kenneth Rocafort, Alibi by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Jeremy Haun and Lady Pendragon by Matt Hawkins and Eru.

Twilight Guardian is about an average woman with a particular kind of OCD that drives her to patrol a nine-block area in her neighborhood every night, and about the other “night people” and situations she encounters because of it. Genius asks the question, “Alexander, Hannibal, Napoleon, Patton. What if the greatest military mind of OUR generation was a 17-year-old girl who grew up on the tough streets of an urban war zone?” Both books resonated with a majority of the voters and their creators are ecstatic, excited and even surprised....

I have to admit, I'm moderately surprised. Top Cow kept posting periodic standings throughout the voting period, I suppose to exhort people to continue to vote for their favorites. Twilight Guardian, despite being clearly the lowest-keyed and quietest of the series, went to first place immediately and stayed there throughout. The second spot, with the exception of one week, tended to be held by Urban Myths, although Genius did pop up there once in the middle. I really wanted Genius to get through, but it just didn't look like it was going to make it. I'm really glad that it did, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it works as a series.

Newsarama still has the complete first issue of Genius available online for now.
Aw, crap.

Virgin Comics Shut Down - 8/26/2008 6:55:00 AM - Publishers Weekly:Virgin Comics, the high-profile 2006 international joint venture between Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and the India-based comics publisher Gotham Entertainment, has been shut down. The company’s New York office and publishing unit has been closed and the eight people that staff it have been laid off.

Although calls to Virgin Comics CEO and cofounder Sharad Devarajan (who is also president of Gotham Entertainment) have not been returned, sources confirm that the venture has been closed and that a statement will likely be issued soon. The closing appears to effect only Virgin Comics’ U.S. publishing operations in New York City and does not effect the operations of Gotham Entertainment, the Bangalore, India-based partner in the venture that produces comics targeted at the South Asian consumer market.

The company produced about 17 different comics series in addition to publishing about 18 trade paperback collections and 3 hardcover titles. It is unclear what will happen to the rights to these properties....

I have to admit, I'm not nearly as surprised at the closing as I was at the fact that Branson and Gotham decided to open a new comics company in the first place. I really liked most of the Virgin stuff that I read, but from what I could tell by looking at sales charts, it never connected in a broad way. Sales were typical of low-end indie stuff, but the company seemed to be trying to be DC or Marvel (or at least Dark Horse), and that's a circle you just can't quite square. I wonder if, like Crossgen, Virgin simply expanded faster than it could support. That said, as a division of two much larger companies, and one that was signing coproduction pacts all over the place, I'm surprised that it wasn't given more than two years to prove itself. Even Crossgen lasted six years.

I'm going to miss Devi and also the oddball little titles they used to publish. And I wonder what's going to happen to Stranded; it got optioned to SciFi. For that matter, there was this big joint production thing that Virgin and SciFi had going, and I'd imagine that SciFi just got left high and dry on that. And Stan Lee just got screwed over by a company going out of business again; they only recently announced that Stan Lee was developing a superhero universe for them. He was developing the Riftworld superhero universe for Byron Preiss iBooks when that company went under due to the founder's death in an auto accident. I wonder if he might not be better off doing whatever he was going to do as part of Komikworks, which he seems to be somehow a part of. It would be kind of odd for him to do something directly for the web, but at least he could get it out there and not be held hostage to some other company's misfortunes.

Nothing on Virgin's (recently redesigned) website as yet, but then, considering that updates on the website, aside from the weblog section, were always painfully behind the publication schedule, that's not surprising.

EDIT: According to the official press release given to CBR, Virgin is "reorganizing its operations and closing its New York office to consolidate in an LA base." (LA is that much cheaper than New York? Really?) So possibly not dead, but merely sleeping. (Though I'd bet on "dead".)
iainpj: (Default)
( Jun. 3rd, 2008 04:51 pm)
Seriously, could someone explain to me what's happening to some of the comics publishers lately? Because I do not understand. Not even a little. I am one with the not-understanding.

Most of this via The Beat or Anime News Network, with the exception of the last item.

Item: TOKYOPOP -- and nothing whatsoever to do with the Pilot Season contracts brouhaha.

TOKYOPOP Spins Off Media Company in Progressive Reorganization

Focus on popular manga series; establishment of comics-to-film franchise-building creative studio

Los Angeles, CA (June 3, 2008) ― TOKYOPOP announced Tuesday that it has reorganized its North American business into two separate companies by spinning off its newly established comics-to-film and digital units into one new entity TOKYOPOP Media LLC.

As part of the spin-off and reorganization, 39 positions within the organization have been eliminated. The move will allow the company to align its publishing business with current book retail trends, as well as aggressively pursue growth in the white-hot comics-to-film and digital space.

According to Stuart Levy, CEO and Chief Creative Officer of the TOKYOPOP Group, “This reorganization is the right business move, but we are doing it with a heavy heart. It involves saying goodbye to 39 of the most talented, creative and compassionate people I've ever known. While it goes without saying, it's important to note that our restructure is not at all a negative reflection on them. The time is now for us to focus our publishing business to overcome current market challenges. Fewer releases will allow for less cannibalization at retail. At the same time, the opportunity is significant in the digital and comics-to-film space. As one of the largest comic book companies worldwide, we must adjust our overhead to properly execute this new business plan[...]"

So they are undoing the division split that they just did, laying off 39 people in the bargain, and, according to another announcement, cancelling more than half their print line.

...Well, all-righty, then!

These announcements are not, as far as I can find, anywhere on Tokyopop's own website.

Item: DRAMAQUEEN -- looking for, and not finding, new investors, and possibly "dead in the water".

Item: ARCHAIA -- announces restructuring due to investor pull-out, as well as an attempt to address delays. And Archaia's delays can be quite quite spectacular. Artesia's current volume should have been completed by the end of 2006; they only just shipped issue 2 of 6 last month. Archaia has released most of its creators to find other publishers, but most have decided to stick with them for now.

Item: PLATINUM -- Not paying its creators on time, and thereby forcing some to suspend work on titles.

Item: ARCANA -- this is purest speculation, but I wonder if something is going on there, as well. For one thing, the publisher weblog hasn't been updated in more than a year ... and the last announcement was when its publisher announced that he was taking on the additional position of Platinum's VP of Publishing. The reason that I wonder about Arcana, aside from the association with Platinum, is that it looks like Arcana's entire current catalog has been published on Wowio, including items like Marlow and Corrective Measures, both of which carry September 2008 publication dates and Helen Killer issue 2, which allegedly appeared in retailers just last week. (I say allegedly because my store made a point of ordering it for me when I merely asked about it, and it rather noticeably did not appear.) One title, Bluff, carries a December 2008 publication date, and doesn't even appear on Arcana's own website catalog.

For all that Wowio is still flying under a lot of people's radar, I can't imagine that retailers wouldn't have their knickers in a twist if they knew about this, nor that they wouldn't be at least somewhat justified. Retailers got seriously pissed off at Boom Studio for doing day-of-first-sale publication of North Wind on their website, so that people didn't need to pick up the pamphlet to read it. Imagine how transcendentally livid they would be to discover that you're sending them something that was available on Wowio in its entirety before they received even the first issue. It would be one thing if Arcana didn't publish single issues at all, and was using everything as a teaser for the trade, but that may not be what's happening here. After all, in that case, only first issues would appear, with ad pages telling people when the complete title would be available for purchase. But Wowio holds complete series/miniseries runs for many of Arcana's titles.

Something is definitely peculiar in the comics business these days.
Huh. Interesting the stuff you miss when you're not paying attention.

Stan Lee to oversee Virgin Comics' superheroes - Los Angeles Times
April 19, 2008

Does Stan Lee have any more heroics in him? Richard Branson hopes so. The British tycoon is going into business with the 85-year-old Lee, the co-creator of Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Iron Man, Daredevil and dozens of other signature characters made famous by Marvel Comics. Branson's upstart Virgin Comics will formally announce the deal with Lee at this weekend's New York Comic Con, where Lee is being honored as "a living legend" and is scheduled to receive the inaugural New York Comics Legend Award at an event at the Virgin Megastore in Times Square.

The new venture will have Lee as the editor overseeing a line of superhero comics that will launch next year with a tentpole title he is writing himself. That project -- the title of which remains under wraps -- will center on a superhero team that sounds similar to his classic work on the Avengers at Marvel. (Lee ended his exclusive relationship with Marvel in the 1990s but still has ties to the company and even has cameo roles in the upcoming Marvel films "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk.") "It will be a team of 10 heroes and they will be dealing with personality conflicts, personal problems and chemistry within the team," Lee said in an interview this week. "I'm going to get started working on it right away and I'm very excited about doing something that will be fresh and breaking new ground. I can't give away the details or the names yet, but I have some exciting things in mind." [...]

Branson is really serious about trying to turn Virgin Comics into, arguably, at least a player in the second tier of comics companies here. (DC and Marvel as the top tier -- though it can be argued that DC has been slipping mightily over the past few years, and it's clearly #2 -- Image and Dark Horse on the second tier, and Oni, SLG, IDW, Devil's Due, Dynamite, Viper and everyone else as ... well, everyone else.)

I have to admit, I'm curious as to what this universe is going to look like. Mind, I'm not necessarily curious about what his "tentpole title" is going to be -- the only thing I've seen lately that I know that Stan Lee wrote recently was the "Who wants to be a superhero" tie-in issue "Feedback", and that was, frankly, quite quite dreadful. (Though, to be fair, if I hadn't gone into it with expectations high because it was STAN LEE, it might have seemed merely very very very bad.) I do wonder how well it sold; I haven't seen any announcement of the next season's issue for Defuser, and that should have been in Previews by now, at least.

I did try to see what else he'd written lately, since it's entirely possible that the Flashback thing was just a one-off bad issue that was also heavily constrained by the source material, and eventually found the Stan Lee - Chronological Listing at appears. (Tell you what, for someone deep into his 80s, the man is amazingly busy.) Of course, finding the listing didn't quite help because (1) I don't read Marvel universe, at least not those books, and (2) I'm not going to read those particular Marvel Universe books, so I have no idea if any of them are any good. I will say that Stan Lee's Alexa, Volume 1: The New Series from the World's Most Popular Comic Writer (and yes, that IS the listed title) from 2005 looks intriguing, if slightly out of scope for Stan Lee. I mean, yes, superheroes, sort of, but a put-upon woman in the man's world of cartooning sounds like a distinct change of pace. (The Amazon listing is deceptive; it's entirely unlikely that new copies will appear in 3-6 weeks, as Byron Preiss' iBooks, along with the rest of the company's holdings, went into bankruptcy proceedings in 2006 after Preiss' 2005 death in an auto accident, and I can't find any evidence that the company ever came out of those proceedings or that its assets were purchased. Heaven only knows who holds the rights to the titles the company published.) The writing in Alexa was generally well reviewed, although people did note a slightly dated, silver-age feel -- the art, on the other hand, got savaged -- so it's possible that with more freedom to work, maybe Stan's still got it.

All that said ... Stan Lee joining Virgin to create a new universe is just odd. Granted, they've been branching out into other areas; for all that the main line's focus is clearly on India, its people, myths and legends, everything that's not the main Virgin line has been decidedly non-Indian. Their Director's Cut Line doesn't have a single Indian title or creator anywhere to be seen. (...Interesting, that.) So I suppose this could also be a way to change how people perceive the company; for all that the other stuff is higher profile, when you think of distinctive Virgin titles, you think of Devi and Sadhu and Snakewoman and the like. I guess they're aiming to have people think of Virgin as a general comics publisher, and not just a British/Indian comics publisher.

We shall see, in any event.
So. Back over in my original review of Afterburn, I said: ... Peculiar geography aside, this is the sort of story that feels very much as though it should have been a movie in the first place -- not because it would have been better visually (I suspect it would have been nearly impossible to make, given the extensive CGI needed to represent the flooded planet), but because you can make this sort of film move fast enough that people don't have time to think about it. It's also the sort of story that's probably going to grab people better if if it's more dynamic and kinetic...

Cue dramatic music! And ...

Tobey Maguire in for 'Afterburn':
Tobey Maguire and Neal Moritz are teaming up for "Afterburn," an adaptation of a comic book published by newbie company Red 5 Comics. Rights to the film are being picked up by Ryan Kavanaugh's Relativity Media.

Maguire would produce through his Maguire Entertainment banner and Moritz through his Original Films shingle.

The book, whose first issue hit stands in January, is a sci-fi adventure set against the backdrop of a postapocalyptic Earth, whose Eastern Hemisphere was destroyed by a massive solar flare, leaving what life remains mutated from radiation and fallout. The story revolves around a group of treasure hunters who for the right price extract such objects as the Mona Lisa, the Rosetta Stone and the Crown Jewels while facing rival hunters, mutants and pirates along the way.

Red 5 Comics was created by Paul Ens, former director of Lucasfilm's and Lucas Online, and Scott Chitwood, co-founder of and contributor to and The company, based in Calgary, Alberta, began publishing its first books in the fall.

Chitwood and Ens wrote "Afterburn," which is drawn by Wayne Nichols.

Issue 2, one might point out, came out just last week. I declined to purchase. It didn't seem like it was going anywhere I really wanted to go. Maybe it'll play better in the trade as an intact whole.
Comic Book Resources - CBR News: Warner talks Dynamics of “The New Dynamix”:
Where have all the super-powered beings gone in the Wildstorm Universe?

That’s the question writer Allen Warner (“Ninja Boy”) answers in the upcoming five-issue miniseries “The New Dynamix.” Warner told CBR News the book will serve not only as a class reunion of sorts for many of Wildstorm’s classic super-powered beings (or SPBs), but will also lead directly into Armageddon, the universe’s forthcoming post-apocalyptic event recently revealed in the six-part miniseries aptly named, “Armageddon.” [...]

Now, wait. Wildstorm is about to have another Armageddon crossover? Two wasn't enough? And they're going to have a bridge series between the previous Wildstorm universe-wide crossover, the current linewide crossover, and what's apparently going to be a second crossover series about Armageddon? Really?

...“Second, ‘Armageddon’ will drastically change the dynamics of the Wildstorm landscape, and the everyday existence of the human and superhuman population. This series drops clues to the upcoming catastrophe and what led up to it, eventually revealing the nefarious force behind it, and why these characters, both hero and villain, play a key role in the master plan.”...

So apparently "Revelations" is going to reveal ... nothing useful, in fact. Because there's another Armageddon to come. Right.

...Warner confirmed “The New Dynamix” does not tie-in with any other current Wildstorm titles or fuse with the upcoming DC/Wildstorm crossover event created by Keith Giffen....

...Another crossover. DC will have sent Wildstorm through four consecutive crossovers, and the main DC universe through three in four years. Eesh. (This doesn't even count the Countdown miniserieses that have briefly wandered through Wildstorm.) You'd think they'd give the crossovers pause so that the regular titles could settle, and people could get reacquainted with their series. Oddly enough, the Armageddon/Revelations/Armageddon crossovers seem to have nothing whatsoever to do with the main series titles; they've either kept rolling along (mainly Midnighter and Gen13) or they've ceased for the time being to let the crossover play out. I can't imagine that's a good business plan for any of the series; people will simply get used to not looking for them, and all of them were plagued with declining readership anyway.

In an interview elsewhere, Wildstorm's senior editor Ben Abernathy confirms that the currently hiatused/cancelled titles will be back. He also bemoans the fact that Wildstorm does many different things and has no way to cue readers in to what's going on. The baffling thing about that is that Wildstorm had, very briefly, exactly that. At one point, there were three brands using the Ws logo: Wildstorm, Wildstorm Signature, and Wildstorm Universe. The latter was exactly what it said, Wildstorm Signature appeared to be the creator-owned chunk (Astro City and a few other things used to live there), and Wildstorm was what was leftover. The logos for each section were different, and the only downside was that you actually had to pay attention to the logos to see which one it was, but nonetheless, useful information was conveyed. Then DC decided, before/during/after the "Worldstorm" event that pretty much killed Wildstorm Universe, to merge all the labels into just Wildstorm, thus producing the current confusion.

Ian: A number of readers have noticed that a lot of the current Worldstorm titles are no longer being solicited in Previews like Stormwatch, Wetworks, Tranquility, and Deathblow. Are these projects officially on hiatus? Are there plans in the works to continue any of these properties?

Ben: Yep, there's plans to continue all the books listed above, in one capacity or another (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg). I know Christos has hinted at a new StormWatch book on-line as has Gail about more Tranquility and I can confirm that both of those “rumors” are true....

I really wish Wildstorm editorial and writers would stop crossing over and hinting and rumor-mongering and just flat come out and say what the hell is going on. I realize they want to wait for the crossovers to play out, but honestly, I could give a rat's ass about the crossovers. Granted, I'm in an unfortunately small number of people caring about Tranquility, and an only slightly larger number caring about Gen13. Given the declining readership across Wildstorm Universe, I would imagine that there are a fair number of others who also don't care about the crossovers. Seriously, if I wanted to read Midnighter or Stormwatch I'd read it.

Ah, well. In theory, someday, Wildstorm's crossover mania will be done. Just in time for DC editorial to panic about the fact that the last 75 crossovers apparently dropped Wildstorm's readership to three guys in Boise, and to decide that they need to do another crossover to make sure that those three guys don't go anywhere.

And all that said ... if New Dynamix somehow manages to bring back DV8 as a regular title or mini, that would be kind of fun. (...What? What?)
Least I Could Do » Comic Archive: ... well, that would have made a significant difference in the past few thousand years of history, wouldn't it? Though I'm not at all sure the native Hawaiians would have been all that sanguine about it.

...You know, I can't remember ever seeing a newspaper daily comic strip ever go there, or anywhere remotely near that.

Huzzah! More Perhapanauts! And, honestly, except for the fact that they both have talking, extremely intelligent sasquatches (sasquatches? Sasquatchen? sasquatch? what is the correct plural for a word that's only ever used to refer to something singular?), there really isn't that much similarity between Perhapanauts and Proof, judging from the body of the former and issue 1 of the latter.
Free Bombaby graphic novel from SLG. And I'd recommend Bombaby myself, especially for anyone also reading Virgin's Devi; it's fascinating to see two such different takes on the same goddess -- though, interestingly, her means for invoking remain somewhat the same; it must be part of the Devi legend. In any event, recommended on its own merits; it was a lot of fun, and oddly nonviolent, if that's quite the right word.

CBQ Episode 45: "Power Girl loves gays! They're the only men who can look me in the eye." (NOTE: Language and Magical Cleavage Window Not Safe For Work. Also, these people are loopy. LOOPY!)

"Scandalous wench!"

"Through smoke dreams
From smoke rings
That old feeling returns..."

And I really want to see where this one goes; it's so different from his other strip.

Alas, that really is what this particular debate sounds like. With just that level of legal reasoning.

"Penises are people, too!"

"...I like that she can throw her tiara through granite. If I had that skill, I'd go buy several tiaras immediately."
(purely a side note to begin: the category plus the subhead up there just make for an odd combination, don't they?)


Karin Slaughter Launches Graphic Novel Imprint at Oni - 7/24/2007 - Publishers Weekly:
International bestselling thriller writer Karin Slaughter is launching a new graphic novel imprint at Oni Press, starting with her own The Recidivists, slated to appear in spring 2009. The Slaughterhouse line will feature original comic books and graphic novels written by established prose writers.

Slaughter, who has more than five million books in print worldwide, is a longtime comics fan, said Oni publisher Joe Nozemack. During discussions with Oni about publishing her own graphic novel, it became apparent that she had access to other prose fiction writers who would be interested in creating original works for the graphic novel format, and Slaughterhouse was born. Oni previously had success introducing mystery writer Greg Rucka's comics work, including the thriller Whiteout and the spy series Queen and Country.

Beyond Reach is out this month from Delacorte, and continues Slaughter’s bestselling Grant County series, known for its disturbing violence and flawed characters. The Recidivists is a dark speculative fiction that takes place in a grim future, in three overlapping narratives. In a statement, Slaughter said, "Graphic novels let you take risks that just wouldn't fly in the conventional book form. Visual storytelling is at once immediate and subversive." [...]

So in essence -- allowing for the less gendered approach -- we're talking something like DC's Minx, but explicitly for grownups.


Possibly more about this later; here, if not elsewhere.
iainpj: (Default)
( Aug. 16th, 2007 04:06 pm)
Did you ever run across something, and you're not sure quite what it means? It seems like there's a lesson to be learned, but it's not clear whether the lesson is We Can Do This Better, or if it was Pointlessly Banging Our Heads Against The Wall Is Fun!

"Wildstorm: Armageddon" and "Wildstorm: Revelations" fall into that unclear category.

Comic Book Resources - CBR News: WWC: Wildstorm Panel gets Scary with "Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash":
...The previously announced "Armageddon" series was mentioned, which will sweep through six different one-shot comics. "Midnighter: Armageddon," "Tranquility: Armageddon," "Wetworks: Armageddon," "Gen 13: Armageddon," "Stormwatch PHD: Armageddon" and "Wildcats: Armageddon" are the six titles. The books are all written by Chris Gage, with cover art by Mike McCone. The respective regular series will not be interrupted.

"I've read five of the first six scripts," WildStorm Editor Scott Peterson said. "If it's not the best thing that Chris Gage has ever written, then it's as good as his best ever."

The Armageddon series starts off with Void appearing to Midnighter, telling him he has to come with her, and that she can't explain anything further. Suddenly they're in the middle of London and it's completely destroyed. It's the near future. Void tells Midnighter that he has to stop this, and then she disappears. The six issues will ship every other week....

Now, it's undeniable that DC's "52" actually worked more or less the way DC wanted; I would argue, however, that it's entirely unclear why it worked, given what happened after. It's also undeniable that "Countdown" is not working the way they wanted; sales started lower, and are declining precipitously across the board, because they've foolishly tied every single title into Countdown, so if Countdown slides, it takes everyone with it. It's also undeniable that the reboot of the Wildstorm universe failed miserably -- in part, I suspect, because of the odd mix of complete reboot (Gen 13, with new origin stories and brought forward 20 years) mixed with soft reboot (by way of recasting, Wetworks and Stormwatch PHD) and reboot in name only (Authority) along with oddball new titles (Midnighter, Grifter and Midnighter, Welcome to Tranquility) managed to confuse readers both new and old as to how it all fit together. Having almost destroyed Wildstorm Universe's sales with the reboot, and mauling the main DC Universe's sales with massive line-wide crossovers where figuring out who is doing what, where, and when and how (or if) it all fits together is almost impossible, they seem to have decided to combine either the best or worst of all worlds with a combination universe reboot/crossover/crossover-reboot-to-follow.

On the upside: lesson at least partially learned, because it's short; Wildstorm: Armageddon constitutes six issues over six titles in 12 weeks, and Wildstorm: Revelations (the crossover-reboot-to-follow) is apparently going to be another six titles over 12 weeks, following directly after.

On the possible downside: lesson maybe partially unlearned; is the idea that you'll need to read all six titles to understand what happens in any given title? Because I'll tell you right now, I have just about ZERO interest in reading Midnighter:Armageddon or Wetworks:Armageddon or anything in Wildstorm Universe except MAYBE Tranquility:Armageddon (strange title, that). And if I have to read both Armageddon and Revelations to understand what's happening in the main Welcome to Tranquility title, I may be a bit peeved. And if I have to read ALL of Armageddon and Revelations to understand what's happening in the main Welcome to Tranquility title ... well, that's just not happening.

(Purely a side note: they've just finished having Midnighter yanked around the past against his will in his own title, and now it's happening to him again across all the title? He gets ganked into the future and the past to fix things before they happen? What is he, Wildstorm's equivalent of a time lord in extremely form fitting spandex?)

Also, given the metaseries titles and allusions, I'm assuming that terribly terribly Biblical things will be happening. But Batman kills The Beast in Batman 666! How can Armageddon possibly come about? Does that mean that there's more than one Antichrist? Does that mean that there's more than one Heavenly Host? How can that all possibly work? And what about Naomi?

(EDIT: The cover of Tranquility:Armageddon can be seen on the site. Apparently, it's not just Midnighter getting yanked around; it's superheroes in all of the titles, which makes a bit more sense in terms of reader loyalty. The team on the cover of Tranquility:Armageddon is ... wildly improbable, let's say. Several people from different points in Tranquility's timeline. I must admit, I am curious to see how they manage that one.)
America Jr (Episode 283), or, as I like to think of it, A Boy Like That: I hit the punchline and laughed myself sick. Which is probably terribly wrong of me, but it's Just So Perfect.

The Onion AV Club: Bill Willingham

As Bill Willingham tells it, when he was younger, he chased all across the U.S., trying to break into comics as a writer and an artist, creating barely remembered titles like Ironwood, Coventry, and Elementals. Over the past seven years, he's worked largely for DC Comics, scripting Robin and Shadowpact, writing the limited series Proposition Player and the Sandman spin-off Thessaly: Witch For Hire, and contributing to DC's recent Infinite Crisis crossover. But Willingham became a force to be reckoned with in comics five years ago, when his ongoing series Fables launched. An epic, beautifully written story that places "Fables," familiar characters from folklore, in the mundane world after a mysterious Adversary conquers their homelands, the series has proved tremendously popular, spawning (to date) 10 graphic novels and the ongoing spin-off series Jack Of Fables, co-written with Matt Sturges. Just before the San Diego ComicCon, where DC announced the upcoming Sturges/Willingham project House Of Mystery, Willingham spoke to The A.V. Club about his history, his future, his terrible attempts at pitching projects, and how growing up as an Army brat prepared him for a lifetime of chasing soon-to-be-defunct comics companies across the country.

[Willingham:] [...]My personal theory is that we've all got this bucket full of good ideas, and if you just hold onto them, your bucket never gets fuller. There's only so many you can hold at a time, but as fast as you use them up, it fills up again with more good ideas. My notion is to spend everything you've got coming through your head as fast as you can, and you're guaranteed to get more good stuff. So while writing Robin and stuff like that, if I had good ideas, I'd try to pitch them and run with them. Sometimes it backfired. It was my idea to make Spoiler into Robin, just before she died horribly. I thought that would be a good thing for the character, but it turns out that legions of female fans now detest me for doing that....

...OK, no. They don't detest you for making Spoiler into Robin, they detest you for the horrible death itself, as well as the hamhanded storywriting that led into it; if she had stayed Spoiler, and died the same way, with Batman contributing to it in the same way and Leslie acting so severely out of character at the end of it, the people who detest you for that death would still feel the same way about it. Said terribly vicious murder, as you and Didio have said many times in other places, was editorially mandated, so that, at least, wasn't your fault, but going on about it like this and not understanding what precisely people were upset about somehow doesn't help. (And there is, of course, the open question of whose fault the story details leading into the murder were.) But really, you know, most people have moved on, and now hate Dan Didio, because it's clearly his opinion that Stephanie wasn't really a Robin -- and even allowing that she wasn't Robin when she was killed, allowing Bruce to present the attitude about it that he has makes him seem unusually callous, even for him.

The Onion AV Club: Joss Whedon
Joss Whedon has had a long and storied history in Hollywood as a screenwriter, on television as the writer-creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly, and back in Hollywood as the writer-director of Serenity. As an enthusiastic, unabashed fan of all things smart and geeky, it was inevitable that he'd find his way into comics, where (among other things) he's written the far-future Buffy spin-off Fray, a well-received run on Astonishing X-Men, and the Firefly miniseries Serenity: Those Left Behind. Currently, he's wrapping up his X-Men run, taking over writing duties for Brian K. Vaughan on Runaways, and scripting future issues of Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season Eight, the official comics continuation of his beloved first show.

Recently, Whedon took the spotlight at the San Diego ComicCon, where he announced that he's in negotiations to bring the Buffy spin-off Ripper to the BBC, showcased his online Dark Horse comic Sugarshock, and took five charity auction-winners to dinner, raising more than $60,000 for the worldwide women's-rights organization Equality Now. Just before heading to San Diego, Whedon spoke with The A.V. Club about his current and upcoming comics projects, his film project Goners, the status of Serenity, why spoilers are ruining our culture, and his much-publicized work on—and break from—the Wonder Woman film project. [...]

[...] AVC: Is your Wonder Woman film adaptation irrevocably dead, or is there any possibility of going back?

JW: I loved what I was doing. I mean, it was really hard. It took me a long time to break the story structurally to my satisfaction. When I did that, it was in an outline, and not in a draft, and they didn't like it. So I never got to write a draft where I got to work out exactly what I wanted to do. In terms of the meaning, the feeling, the look, the emotion, the character, the relationship with Steve Trevor, all of that stuff, I never wavered for a second. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. It was really just a question of housing it. I would go back in a heartbeat if I believed that anybody believed in what I was doing. The lack of enthusiasm was overwhelming. It was almost staggering, and that was kind of from the beginning. I just don't think my take on Wonder Woman was ever to their liking.

I wasn't getting them to feel what they wanted to feel. They couldn't describe what that was to me. We're talking about a huge investment. To ask somebody to jump on that, what is going to be a few hundred million dollars these days, if they just don't have that feeling… I had that feeling. I got chills when I think of some of this stuff, but apparently I was the only one who was chilly. Everybody was very gracious about it. It was a blind date, and everybody thought we'd get married, but let's just leave it at the door.

AVC: What would you do on a set with $100 million dollars, having never worked with a budget like that before?

JW: It's the exact same job. The money has never mattered. If you have $100 million, if you have $100,000, you're trying to hit someone in the gut with an emotional moment. If you can back that up with an awesome visual, that's really neat. If you can back that up with a visual that's not awesome, but at least gets it done, tells them what they need to know to hit them in the gut emotionally, that's neat too. If the characters can only talk about it in a room, then the emotional moment has to be really, really good, but it's still neat. That's never really worried me. I've always thought way too big, and then people have gone, "Great. Now you have to scale this way back." In this case, I didn't have to scale it way back, I just had to stop doing it.

AVC: Can you say anything about the plot you had in mind for your version of the film?

JW: Well, I'll tell you one thing that sort of exemplifies my feelings. The idea was always that she's awesome, she's fabulous, she's strong, she's beautiful, she's well-intentioned, she thinks she's a great big hero, and it's Steve Trevor's job to go, "You don't understand human weakness, therefore you are not a hero, and you never will be until you're as helpless as we are. Fight through that, and then I'll be impressed. Until then, I'm just going to give you shit in a romantic-comedy kind of way."

There was talk about what city she was in and stuff, but by the end, she had never actually set foot in America. Wonder Woman isn't Spider-man or Batman. She doesn't have a town, she has a world. That was more interesting to me than a kind of contained, rote superhero franchise. I think ultimately the best way I can describe the kind of movie I was wanting to make—it was a fun adventure, not gritty, or insanely political, or anything like that. There was meat to the idea of, "Well, why aren't you guys better? What's up with that?" Her lack of understanding of how this world has come to this pass.

My favorite thing was the bracelets. I mean, the bracelets are cool, but how do I make that work? In the original comic book, they needed them because they fire guns on Paradise Island. I don't think I'm going there. So, I thought about it for a while, and I realized, "Oh, right, this is how this works." So in my version, she left Paradise Island with Steve, who was a world-relief guy bringing medical supplies to refugees, which is why he was so desperate to get off the island. She goes with him, and the moment she sets foot on land outside of Paradise Island, somebody shoots her in the chest. And it hurts. [Laughs.] She's just so appalled. And obviously, she heals within a few hours. She pulls the bullet out herself, and kind of looks at it like, "What the hell is this?" She heals, but she's appalled and humiliated, and the next time someone shoots at her, she puts her bracelet in the way because she's terrified of getting shot. It's just a reflexive thing. She has these bands that they all wear, just a piece of armor, and she puts it up. And then she gets good at it. By the end, it's kind of her thing, but it's because she got shot one time and didn't think that it was awesome. I think that is probably not the feeling the producers wanted to have. Though honestly, that could have been their favorite thing. I don't know, because when I asked Joel Silver, point blank, "Well, if they don't want what I'm doing, what do they want?" he said, "They don't know." [...]

...You know, here's the thing: they may not have known what they wanted, but it may well be that they knew what they didn't want when they heard it. I'd be willing to bet that the suits were somehow thinking, "Big iconic take on the character," only not really knowing that was what they wanted. And then one of the first things Joss said was, "There will be no star spangled panties." And, well, love them or loathe them (and lately, they seem to be a star spangled thong, so kind of one with the loathing), the star spangled panties really are iconic Wonder Woman, along with the golden eagle clutching her chest, the bracelets and tiara. The only times you get away from them are very early on, when it was in fact a star spangled skirt with star spangled panties underneath, and in the 70s one-piece period. Combine that with her not setting foot in the country, which, frankly, is just a very odd concept, since early WW is really all about the culture clash between her island of origin (I'm assuming they'd have used Themiscyra and not Paradise Island) and the outside world. Thing is, if you look at what's worked with recent superhero movies (Spiderman, Batman Begins, Fantastic Four), what has been done is to reinterpret the characters for the medium, mostly if not entirely as defined by the current comics -- or in the case of Batman, as defined by Miller's "Year One" story. Knowing that he was planning to get away from one iconic thing and the early definition of the iconic character may have predisposed the executives to not liking his ideas, regardless of their merits. Combine that with them not really knowing what they wanted... well. (It's probably worth noting, in this context, that Superman Returns was failing to be the spectacular they wanted just as this was all going down, and that one of the things that the film does is that it takes off as an air on the film series, rather than simply rebooting as a new film, using the comics as a takeoff point. It asks, in short, for the viewer to bring two sets of continuity porn to the table -- and two sets of 20 year old continuity porn, at that -- which is asking one hell of a lot.)

And also: The Terrible Secret of Livejournal: in which the partial and quite savage disconnect between Livejournal and what some of its customers want -- clarity, primarily -- is explained by someone else in a way that makes sense of it.
Broken Frontier | Quest for Xena's Soul:
...Dark Xena is the second Xena storyline from writer John Layman and the first for artist Noah Salonga. Taking place prior to the events in Dynamite’s first four-issue storyline titled Contest of Pantheons, Dark Xena links the finale of the Xena television show with the all-new Dynamite comic book series. Longtime fans of the television series can recount how Xena was introduced as a brutal villain but changed her evil ways and set out on a quest for redemption that ended when the warrior princess sacrificed her life to right the wrong she had committed many years ago. Dark Xena bridges the gap between the television series and the comic book series by featuring the sacrifices Xena’s companions were willing to make for her to return, as well as the consequences of her resurrection.


As our story concludes, Xena prepares for her wedding to Ares, as Gabrielle and Joxer make their move to save their friend's very soul, all while battling against her new, dark crew. Will they succeed? Or will Xena remain dark at heart and a scourge of the age? Find out in this issue!

Hmm. I was wondering what was going on with this series. It's enjoyable, in pretty much exactly the same way that the series was enjoyable, but also puzzling. Dynamite has been very clear that, with the exception of the one-shot Xena Annual that came out last week, the storylines are supposed to take place after the end of the series, yet it was never clear how they could possibly relate.

It appears, from this summary, that they're going to be doing some picking and choosing from the TV show about what to keep and what to toss. Apart from anything else, the major difficulty with having Gabrielle and Joxer fight for Xena's soul is that (1) Joxer is at least 20 years older than they've been showing him to date, thanks to the Big Sleep that Xena and Gabrielle went through at the beginning of the final season, and, oh yes, (2) Joxer is also kind of dead himself. Killed in the gladiator arena rescuing Xena and Gabrielle and fighting Xena's daughter, or something like that. But nonetheless. Very very dead. Mind, so is Xena, so it's entirely possible that this issue may be dealt with as well.

But ... wedding to Ares? Huh? Wha?

Men Without Tights (
Comics that reinvent the superhero genre.
By Dan Kois
Posted Monday, Jan. 22, 2007, at 6:36 PM ET

NBC's series Heroes, about a group of ordinary people who suddenly acquire extraordinary abilities, is among the year's biggest hits—it attracted 16 million viewers for one episode during November sweeps. The show returns Monday night, as the heroes attempt to avert a nuclear explosion in New York. Heroes is but the latest example of a superhero story becoming popular outside the comics medium; movies like Spider-Man and X-Men and TV shows like Lois & Clark and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have all given their protagonists extraordinary powers and achieved success. [...] . Heroes doesn't have a monopoly on humanizing the superhero story, or wrestling with the practical and ethical quandaries of superpowers; many contemporary comics are doing the same...

An interesting list of comics. I'm glad that someone else noticed Heroes' resemblance to Risen Stars; I'd been wondering if it was just me. And I wish I'd known about Living in Infamy when it was being published; I expect it's about impossible to find now. Apparently Comflix is going to animate it for the web, accessable with a small payment, and it's also been optioned for film or television.

To Slate's admittedly brief list, I'd also add Fade from Grace, which was really lovely and heartbreaking. And also the new ongoing Welcome to Tranquility by Gail Simone out of Wildstorm; it's essentially the flipside of Living in Infamy: what happens when superheroes and supervillains get old?
YES! There's going to be a sequel to "Loaded Bible"! This very month, allegedly! Woo-hoo!

Comic Book Resources - CBR News: Nobody F***s With the Jesus: Norton Talks “Loaded Bible 2: The Blood of Christ:

The clone of a Jewish carpenter must forge his own destiny or the last pockets of humanity will be overrun by hordes of bloodthirsty undead. This is the premise behind the Image Comics one-shot "Loaded Bible 2: The Blood of Christ." Created by writer Tim Seeley and artists Mike Norton and Mark Englert, the book returns readers to a post-apocalyptic world where a battle-savvy Jesus Christ is mankind's last hope against marauding vampires. CBR News spoke about the book with writer Tim Seeley last September, and now we're pleased to talk to artist Mike Norton about bringing the project to life....

And, to nobody's surprise, Manhunter bows out in April, this time likely for good. Seriously, the chances that another four-five issues, all tied into Crisis Crisis Redux, would pull in new readers under these conditions was just about nil. If they'd really wanted new readers, DC would have rushed trades into print; instead, they forced people to try to find older issues to see what all the fuss was about. If most retailers were like Chicago Comics, they just plain didn't have a lot of back issues, never mind continuous runs. I mostly liked what I've seen in the two trades (although volume 2's link to the OMAC Project was seriously annoying), but there was just no way to keep up easily.
Emissary apparently cancelled after last month's issue 6

...Well, crap.

I wonder if maybe the creators might take the Girl Genius route and go direct to the web, with trade compilations after six months or so of daily/weekly comics. Of course, the issue is that everyone involved is working on other titles; they just have other, better things to do than to deal with a clear failure. And there's the Image/Shadowline issue; even if it's creator-owned, I'd think that complicates things.

But still. DAMMIT!

(Maybe that answers the question of what would happen if Superman were black. As long as he was just one in a world full of supermen, nobody would even notice his existence.)


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