Comics Roundup 23/09/14: So Is Magma a Roman or Not?

What’s been going on this week?! So much, you lot. It’s been another huge old big massive titanic week of colossal STUFF!

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Art by Jojo Seames

Multiversity’s art auction on behalf of Bill Mantlo raised a staggering $4500 for the creator - and it’s not even finished yet! Absolutely brilliant.

Rachel and Miles have returned to help X-Plain the New Mutants. If you know the New Mutants, you’ll know that means one thing: an attempt to work out just what the flip is going on with Magma.

Congratulations to Lucy Knisley!!

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Cruzader: Agent of the Vatican (a comic about a hooded enforcer who fights racists… aliens and vampires… on behalf of the Pope) won the Guinness World Record for the world’s biggest comic book this week. Created by Omar Morales, the edition clocks in at 37.19” x 24” and will be touring the country shortly. I’ve read a bit of this – it’s a decent enough story, which certainly picks up once the lead character suddenly starts fighting alien slavemasters inside a giant cave.

With Stumptown taking place this weekend, loads of comic creators were gathered together in Portland. They did some stuff like this.

And on that subject of conventions – this is a brilliant piece from Deji Bryce Olukotun on the rise and success of Lagos Comic Con in Nigeria.

The creator of Attack on Titan, Hajime Isayama, says the story will likely end within the next three years.

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I really liked this take on the new ‘Spider-Gwen’ costume from Tim O’Shea. This is one of the alt-universe versions of Spider-Man who’re appearing in the Spider-Verse storyline – and has proven to be an immediate delight and cult favourite for fans. I’d be surprised if we don’t see a lot more of this character over the next few months. Robbi Rodriguez is absolutely brilliant.

 

Comics Alliance got some flack for doing an article about dream-team all-female Justice League lineups. Whilst, yes, many of these teams are ace – everybody who contributed their lineup suggestion is male. It doesn’t harm the article, but it does show how easy it can be to slip and forget your audience.

Better is their three-part interview/career retrospective with Greg Rucka, conducted by Chris Sims.

There’s always an added pop when Jimmy Palmiotti interviews over at The Beat, and so it proves again with this interview here.

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Zainab tells the truth about ‘Seconds’. It’s a truth everybody else seems afraid of saying: that it’s disjointed, messy, and can’t keep track of it’s central message.

The CBLDF present a list of 22 banned comics, as part of ‘banned books month’.

And finally….

Tharg the Mighty will be taking part in his first ever Reddit AMA tomorrow! 2000AD claim this is our chance to probe their editor – making a refreshing reversal from how Tharg usually prefers things. WE KNOW YOU CAN READ OUR MINDS, THARG

Reviewer’s End: Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman

Here’s a two-part storyline which wasn’t advertised and isn’t mentioned on the covers. Hurray! Charles Soule takes on a Wonder Woman storyline which tags into a Wonder Woman/Superman team-up, as the characters fight a villain I’d never heard of before and take several unexpected and unnecessary detours along the way.

DC’s refusal to use a recap page certainly doesn’t help. Let’s start with Wonder Woman first.

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Wonder Woman has had an identity problem since the New 52 began – one which she hasn’t had before. This time round she’s been so well-defined by mainstay creative team Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson that every other take on her (which has followed the age-old tradition of ‘ignoring all prior characterisation) has suffered as a result. Unless the core creative team are at the wheel for this take on Wonder Woman, it seems, DC flounder with the character. So it is again here, with Charles Soule jettisoning the current storylines for the character in order to take her in a completely different trajectory.

Five years into her future, she’s teamed up with a load of dead soldiers in order to fight off some shadow demon things which are taking over the world. As the shadow demon things can cause doubt and manipulation in the living, her tactic has been to plunder Hades’ army, and use them to wage war instead.

Rags Morales comes onboard so readers can play another enjoyable game of “guess how many pages Rags Morales can draw before he runs out of time”, and benefits hugely from colourist Andrew Dalhouse’s pastel-heavy work. Dalhouse creates an effect on the page which mutes everything, giving it a slight sense of sepia and enhancing the feel that this is a mythological, classically-focused comic. Morales, in turn, offers several strong sequences in a row before vanishing halfway through the book. This is the strongest half of the issue as a whole, actually, as the story heads off in a single solid direction.

However, the back half of the book quickly starts to throw in extra ideas which throw the reader off-track, and Soule loses sense of the pacing. Having effectively established a siege situation for Wonder Woman and random members of her supporting cast, she eventually just jumps off the top of her besieged battlement and charges at her enemies for no particularly understandable reason. But, no sooner than she does so, guest star Superman shows up to stop things. It’s a hasty, ineffective sequence, which seems put in place purely so there’s some sense of structure to the cliffhanger hitting the reader.

It’s a rather messy way to tell a story, especially as the final page is the only page of the issue which lets readers know that this is a two-part storyline. Wonder Woman seems to be heading in a certain particular direction from Soule before quickly turning abruptly into something entirely different, and the character seriously suffers as a result. Here is a character being pulled along by the requirements of an overly-mechanical script, which crushes any ability she has to be dynamic or unexpected in her own right.

It’s better than the second part of the story, however, as I’d go so far as to say that Superman/Wonder Woman is a complete mess.

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Bart Sears handles this story, bringing a scrappy style similar to something you’d see from Howard Porter. It’s house style, with everybody having rippling muscles and dead eyes. Sears does have a fun sense of storytelling, and puts together some interesting and impressive action sequences and poses throughout the issue – but the characters themselves are over-drawn, I suppose you could say. Superman in particular looks to have a doughy, inexpressive face, whilst his body is filled with so many creepy-looking muscles that it’s an effort just to look at him. The storytelling is strong – the actual character work is poor.

But then, the issue doesn’t give much definition to the characters either. Soule makes a lot of really strange choices here which dilute the story for no understandable reason. It’s an aimless, difficult to piece together story, which suggests that the whole of the Wonder Woman issue may not actually have taken place. The villain – whom we never see at any point, I don’t believe – now has reality warping powers, and apparently used them to make Wonder Woman walk into a labyrinth and get lost. Superman goes in to get her out. Something like that? I’ve read it a few times, but the exposition places emphasis on all the wrong points, so the reader remains fairly lost by what’s going on.

With a stronger artist, readers could probably wave off some of the leaps in logic which take place, but Sears’ character design is leaden from the start. As a result, focus heads towards Soule’s script, which weaves a decent handful of reasonable ideas into a convoluted mess of a narrative. The storyline jumps around in consistency, with the characters looking about as lost as the reader surely will be.

Two poor issues, then, although I should mention that Soule at least provides a nice capper to the piece. His take on Wonder Woman doesn’t bear much resemblance to the one readers have seen over the last few years – but seasoned Wonder Woman fans are probably used to that by now, as no writer ever seems to have any idea how to write her consistently to the writers before. Overall – skip this one. It’s messy, scrappy storytelling, with no internal continuity as a narrative.

Jeff Lemire Covers Issue #2 of Wild’s End

This’d be the BOOM! Studios book by Dan Abnett and INJ Culbard which is a cross between Animals of Farthing Wood and War of the Worlds, only hopefully without the brutal slaughter of the former. God, that series.

I got an email t’other day from BOOM! about the book, which more specifically mentioned that the variant cover for issue #2 will be provided by Jeff Lemire. And, dutifully, I’m sharing it with you now. Here is the cover. By Jeff Lemire. For Wild’s End #2.

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And now you have seen it.

Valiant Comics Go DRM-Free, Put Over $400 of Books in a Humble Bundle, Slap The Comics Industry and Run Off Giggling

Valiant Comics have gone overboard this week, with the news that not only have they joined a series of other publishers (IDW, Aspen, and more) in going DRM-free on their digital comics from now on – but also that they’ve only gone and set up a Humble Bundle as well.

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And this is a completely ridiculous one. With a combined retail price of $420, the deal collects together 24 comics and collections for a ‘pay

what you want’ deal. Considering this collects basically every book since Valiant relaunched, that means you can buy the entire new Valiant Universe for $10. THAT’S INSANE. The money, also, is partially donated to charities including the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund.

Because with a Humble Bundle deal, anybody who pays over the average amount (which stands at around $9 at the moment) gets an expanded collection of comics, the whole library of Valiant’s relaunch is on offer in this deal. And for an extra donation, you can start to make your way into their back-catalogue as well. I can’t confirm or deny, but I believe that if you pay an extra $5, the company will actually send you Matt Kindt too.

You can find the deal here. Just… just go do it, you lot. It’s exhaustively fantastic.

So Valiant have done a pretty good job of winning the week, it seems. All this, and I never got round to mentioning that the company ALSO recently announced “Valiant-sized Quantum and Woody”, an oversized single issue which takes the world’s worst superhero team and has them attempt to save the world from a giant incoming meteorite/alternate universe versions of themselves. That issue is by Tim Siedell and James Asmus, with art by Pere Perez and the below cover from Chip Zdarsky.

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Sheesh.

Dynamite Announce David F. Walker and Bilquis Evely as Shaft Creative Team

Dynamite have been doing a week of announcements once again, with all kind of creators revealed as having new projects over at the company, special sales stuff going on – all sorts-a stuff, really. The biggest news so far is likely the announcement of a creative team for their relaunch of Shaft, however.

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David F. Walker and Bilquis Evely will be the team for this one, along with Sanford Greene as cover artist (as seen above) and the below cover by Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz (swoon!)

Evely has been at Dynamite for a while now, providing work for books like the recent Doc Savage revival and Miss Fury – she’s been one of the best success stories amongst Dynamite’s roster of artists, so it’s no surprise that new work keeps coming along for her at the company.

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Walker is a little more surprising, being a filmmaker and writer not especially known for comics work. In a post on his blog, he talks a little about the announcement:

The series will be steeped in the world created by author Ernest Tidyman, author of the Shaft books. It was with the help and the blessing of his widow, Chris Clark-Tidyman, that this project got off the ground. Dynamite has put a lot into this series, which debuts in December (just in time for my birthday). I’ll be posting more about it in the days, weeks, months, and hopefully, years to come.

An ongoing series, Shaft hits the streets once more this December. Just in time for my birthday, too!

Alison Bechdel Receives MacArthur Grant; Unveils Third Memoir for 2017

No sooner was Alison Bechdel announced as one of the 21 people receiving the massively prestigious MacArthur Foundation Grant this year than the cartoonist announced her third memoir ‘The Secret to Superhero Strength’ is to be released in 2017.

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Bechdel (whose name alone has become synonymous with a particular line of story critique/analysis in the form of ‘The Bechdel Test’ which examines the role played by women in any particular story) has been one of the most important figures for comics in the last decade. With ‘Dykes to Watch Out For’ and ‘Fun Home’, her work has become part of the literary canon – and essential reading for any fan of the medium. The announcement of her third memoir is therefore some of the biggest news of the year.

Also, if you’re paying attention to this sort of thing – you can say that the two biggest comic stories of the year (alongside the release of ‘Sisters’ by Raina Telgemeier) are both the release of new works from female comic makers.

‘The Secret to Superhero Strength’ will follow along with Bechdel’s life, but turns around the concept of American fitness and health – how different regimes come and go, and how Bechdel attempts to rekindle her creative side by getting involved in various exercise programmes. You can read more about it in this New York Times announcement article here.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish the book, which we can probably already assume will be the bestselling comic of 2017.

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