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Future Publishing Ltd: 30 Monmouth Street, Bath, BA1 2BW Email: Web: EDITORIAL Editor: Will Salmon Art Editors: Andrew McGregor Mark Mitchell Production Editor: Andrea Ball SFX Editor-In-Chief: Dave Bradley SFX Art Editor: Jonathan Coates EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTORS Matt Bielby, Chris Brosnahan, Stephen Jewell, Stephen Kelly, James Lovegrove, Joseph McCabe, Joel Meadows, Michael Molcher, Steve O’Brien, Rob Power, Cavan Scott, Nick Setchfield, Lavie Tidhar, Jonathan Wilkes, Rob Williams Batman cover image by Greg Capullo © DC Comics THANKS TO: Pamela Mullin, Alex Segura, Matt Keller and all at DC, Anne Perry, Mark Millar, Paul Cornell, Dave Gibbons, SFX. ADVERTISING Advertising Manager: Adrian Hill 01225 442244, Sales Director: Nick Weatherall 020 7042 4155, Digital Ad Manager: Andrew Church 020 7042 4237, MARKETING AND SUBSCRIPTIONS Group Marketing Manager: Sam Wight 020 7042 4061, Senior Marketing Executive: Tilly Michell 020 7042 4077, Marketing Executive: Antonella Matia 020 7042 4025, Direct Marketing: Ashley Hickman CIRCULATION AND LICENSING Trade Marketing Manager: Jonathan Beeson International Export Account Manager: Michael Peacock +44(0)1225 732316, Licensing And Syndication Director: Regina Erak Head of Circulation: James Whitaker PRINT AND PRODUCTION Production Controller: Marie Quilter Paper Controller: Lorraine Rees Advertising Production Coordinator: Alaina Henderson THE SENIOR PARTNERS Creative Director: Bob Abbott Editorial Director: Jim Douglas Head of Entertainment Group: Clair Porteous SUBSCRIPTIONS Phone our UK hotline on: 0870 837 4722 Subscribe online at: NEXT REGULAR COMIC HEROES ON SALE 19 August 2013 MAGAZINE PRINTED IN THE UK BY William Gibbons on behalf of Future DISTRIBUTED IN THE UK BY Seymour Distribution Ltd, 2 East Poultry Avenue, London EC1A 9PT Tel 020 7429 4000 OVERSEAS DISTRIBUTION BY Future Publishing Ltd, Bath Tel: +44 (0)1225 442244 Wot, no Dredd? Honestly, we debated long and hard about this one. We all adore Dredd, but is he a superhero? We’d say no. He’s a science fiction character, with no powers, and only sporadically heroic. So, sorry, old stony face ain’t here. Maybe next time. We still love you Joe!

© Future Publishing Limited 2013. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used or reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. Future Publishing Limited (company number 2008885) is registered in England and Wales. The registered office of Future Publishing Limited is at Beauford Court, 30 Monmouth Street, Bath, BA1 2BW. All information contained in this magazine is for information only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Future cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. Readers are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price of products/services referred to in this magazine. If you submit unsolicited material to us, you automatically grant Future a licence to publish your submission, in whole or in part, in all editions of the magazine, including licensed editions worldwide and in any physical or digital format throughout the world. Any material you submit is sent at your risk and, although every care is taken, neither Future nor its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be liable for loss or damage. And if you bothered reading that, you’re probably now angrier than Banner confronted by Mr McGee.

We live in the age of the superhero. They’re everywhere! On our screens, in games and, especially, in comics. This humble, but beautiful, medium is their natural habitat, so it’s a delight to be able to celebrate it here. In this bookazine you’ll find 164 pages packed with superhero goodness. There’s new interviews with the world’s finest creators, fascinating features and our pick of the best bits from the Comic Heroes archives. And, of course, there’s the results of our Top 50 superheroes poll, as voted for by you. I won’t spoil who wins here, but it’s safe to say it’s not Aquaman in the number one slot… As Superman (arguably the daddy of all superheroes) turns 75 this year, there’s never been a better time to celebrate these wonderful characters. Thanks for reading, and here’s to many more adventures to come! We are committed to only using magazine paper which is derived from well managed, certified forestry and chlorinefree manufacture. Future Publishing and its paper suppliers have been independently certified in accordance with the rules of the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). Astounding!

Will Salmon, Editor

“i’ll show them how many boners the joker can make!”


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get expert tips on how write and draw comic to starts on... s!




98 18



36 evolution of the species


134 how to write for comics

82 x-tra special


86 bringing the hammer down

92 armour mon amour

98 Logan’s chum

Brian Michael Bendis talks about his experience writing the X-Men.

6 Superheroes: a secret history

Award-winning author Lavie Tidhar explores the real-world roots of superheroes.

12 avengers Assemble!

18 the top 50 heroes

A brief history of the dysfunctional superteam. You voted in your thousands... now here are the results of our Top 50 heroes poll.

26 millar’s Tale

32 x-men: Mutant pride!

Kick Ass creator Mark Millar looks back at his illustrious comics career. Your guide to the world’s most famous team of mutant superheroes.

38 O death, where is thy sting?

There have been many comic book deaths, but which ones really count?

42 quite frankly

52 the bluffer’s guide to jack kirby

54 mighty joe

We interview Jupiter’s Legacy artist Frank Quitely. Gen up with our quick guide to the artist’s work.

What happens when comics get too convoluted? They hit the reset button, with mixed results. Artist extraordinaire Jim Lee talks to Comic Heroes. Veteran writer/artist Walter Simonson on Thor. Your complete guide to Iron Man. We catch up with Wolverine scribe, Paul Cornell.

The industry’s top scribes present their tips on how to write great comics. A previously unpublished interview with the legendary Carmine Infantino.

142 worlds of wonder

Have your mind boggled with our guide to the Marvel Multiverse.

144 kick art

Kick Ass artist John Romita Jr tells all.

104 Hero who could be you

148 humiliating heroes


112 reign of the super-man



120 zero hour

156 born to be bad

A classic interview from the archives with the other half of the Simon and Kirby dream team. Everything you need to know about Captain America. In the ’90s, one company shook the comics establishment. We look at Image’s bold beginnings.

72 devil’s advocate

Mike Mignola on the creation of Hellboy.

Spider-Man! His origins, villains and more... We look back at 75 years of the Man of Steel. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo tell us why they’re revisiting Batman’s origins in ‘Zero Year’…

126 knight Life

Your complete guide to Batman, decade-by-decade.

Not all superheroes are as good as Spider-Man… The writers have spoken, now it’s the artists’ turn. We present our 20 most hissable villains.

162 heroic differences

Comic legends Alan Moore and Grant Morrison have very different views on superheroes.


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Mark Millar Interview

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Mark Millar Interview

M IL LAR ’ S TA LE He’s a comics superstar – Kick-Ass, American Jesus, Nemesis and, most recently Jupiter’s Legacy – and last year he was signed up by Fox to oversee its superhero movies. Steve O’Brien talks to the inimitable Mark Millar

hen Twentieth Century Fox hired Mark Millar as creative consultant for its various superhero movie franchises last year, it seemed an inevitable career destination for the ever-itchy Glaswegian. Although a comics loyalist, he’s not been shy of lusting after Hollywood as part of his career plan and with his Dave Gibbons-illustrated The Secret Service now being prepped by Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman, and Kick-Ass 2 about to cause mayhem at the multiplex, the Millarworld name strides boldly forward. As Comic Heroes hooks up with him, he’s just knocked on the head “one hell” of a deadline for some top secret (we tried, we tried, we really did...) Millarworld projects and is nursing a modest hangover. “Luckily I destroyed most of my brain cells years back,” he tells us. “Nothing left to hurt!”


Comic Heroes: You started off in the industry nearly 25 years ago. How has the comics landscape changed since you were a newbie? Mark Millar: Comics has completely changed since I broke in as a teenager and in every way it’s for the better. When I was 18 and selling my first scripts, saying you were going to be a comic writer was a lot like saying you were thinking of opening a sex shop. Actually, it was probably considered lower. People genuinely thought I filled in the bubbles or, even more weirdly, that I wrote jokes for comedians. I remember a bank manager asking me that when I tried to get an overdraft once. But now it’s officially a Cool Job. Everyone reads comics and the people in Hollywood who don’t feel they at least need to pretend they do to get work. It’s brilliant. Had you told me as a kid that one day everyone would know Tony Stark is Iron Man I would have probably kissed you long and hard. This is the parallel Earth I always dreamed of living on.

The film ve rs of The Secr ion Service star et shooting so ts on.


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Frank Quitely Interview


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Frank Quitely Interview FIRST APPEARED IN


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Sandman: Endless Nights, the first Vertigo work Quitely coloured himself.


He’s Glasgow’s greatest artistic export, famous for working with fellow Scots Morrison and Millar. Joel Meadows talks to master of the weird, Frank Quitely rank Quitely’s an artist and illustrator who has carved a unique niche for over two decades, most notably working with Grant Morrison on titles such as Flex Mentallo, New X-Men and Justice League Of America. He talks about where his nickname came from (real name: Vincent Deighan), why Batman and Supes still hold a special place in his heart, and what his mum thinks of his work…


Comic Heroes: You’ve had the nickname for a number of years… Frank Quitely: There were two sides to it. Various other people involved in Electric Soup [underground Scottish comic] were taking on funny names, some because they

were claiming benefits, and some because they were taxpayers already. In the past, I’d said ‘Frank Quitely’ by accident instead of ‘Quite Frankly’ and because it was a silly joke it seemed quite apt for a humour title. There was also the far less cool aspect – I was brought up by very loving, but quite religious parents and Electric Soup contained stuff in it that they wouldn’t approve of. My stuff was scatological slapstick, it was other people’s work rather than my own, and I thought that my parents wouldn’t like it. CH: Do you ever wish you could draw as Vincent Deighan? FQ: It really doesn’t bother me at all. My wife used to hate it, she’d say ‘How can

you call yourself Frank? Just be Vin’. But she must have come around over the years. Either that or she cares even less than she used to about it. When people called me Frank at conventions, I’d feel like a liar when I was speaking to them, now I don’t make any distinction between myself and Frank Quitely. CH: Who were your biggest influences during the Electric Soup days? FQ: Before Electric Soup, it was Dudley D Watkins who did The Broons [weekly Scots-language strip published in Scottish newspaper, The Sunday Post]. He was a huge influence when I was younger. I didn’t see Moebius’ work until I did stuff for Electric Soup. I had a Super


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In 1963, Iron Man looked old fashioned. In 2013, no superhero seems more modern. Matt Bielby looks at comics’ answer to Howard Hughes, and how he became Steve Jobs with superpowers… saddled with flat art, and a heavy-handed anti-Communist stance – was hardly the coolest guy on the block. Early Iron Man was never a bad strip, but still, this was the boring guy maybe your dad would have liked. Marvel’s rebirth had begun with the arrival of Fantastic Four in 1961, its first superhero team of the modern era, and it looked set to turn its fortunes around. Never slow to take advantage, Lee and co slung out a stream of new heroes across the early ’60s, most of them smart, modern takes on existing formulas that made DC’s good guys look stodgy and old fashioned. Not that all of them were immediate hits. Incredible Hulk took a while to catch on, and early tales of The Mighty Thor in Journey Into Mystery were all dynamic visuals and rich mythological

ho’s the coolest superhero in the world right now? With Batman’s time in the cinematic sun over, and current big screen takes on Spider-Man and the X-Men yet to gain huge amounts of traction, it would be difficult to argue with it being Iron Man: a hero of the real world, sort of, his tech vaguely believable, his problems – if we forget that he’s a “genius multi-millionaire playboy philanthropist”, of course – very much ours. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that his big-screen incarnation has enjoyed such snappy writing – and been portrayed by one of the most charismatic actors of the modern era. But step back a minute. How on earth did this happen? Back in the day, the ‘Golden Avenger’ – hampered by a semi-loathsome secret identity as a rich, morality-free gadabout,



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All images © Marvel

Iron Man

background, but little substance. Oddly, it didn’t matter. With the exception of The Hulk, cancelled then revived, sales grew on all Marvel’s line once superheroes started to dominate the covers. Lee started to pay more attention to what made them sing: a solid backdrop, a striking visual, but – most importantly – a flawed, vulnerable hero. Peter Parker and Ben Grimm, early Marvel’s most potent creations, became the model for a new wave of heroes, built on the solid rock of rebellion, melancholy, bravery and anger. They would all be impaired in some way – many of them subtly, some not so much – by physical handicaps or social inadequacy; often by both. These heroes didn’t have to be teens, but they did have to be in touch with a soul ache that teens could relate to. 1963, then, was the big year for Marvel’s second wave of heroes, and it included Daredevil (our hero’s blind!), The Avengers (our heroes bicker constantly!), Sgt Fury And His Howling Commandos (some of our heroes are Jewish or black!), Doctor Strange (our hero’s just plain weird!) and The X-Men, potentially the richest stew of all. But first out of the gate was Iron Man, developed by Lee largely without either Kirby or Ditko – though Kirby played some part, at least in the look of our metal-clad hero’s suit of armour.

HE LIVES! HE WALKS! HE CONQUERS! Iron Man took over the last remaining monster title to be superhero-free, launching in Tales Of Suspense #39 (March 1963), and quickly dominated the book – though our hero was a strange one, and not immediately appealing. Lee’s new invention was rich and flashy, with his European sports cars and Errol Flynn moustache,

and totally in love with America’s Third World wars – an old-fashioned figure even for 1963, and one many readers would find it hard to identify with. Stark’s days (running a giant munitions factory; inventing new ways to kill people; squiring out-of-your-range dames around town) were unlike ours, and his politics were starting to look like those of another era too – this was Howard Hughes stripped of the more obvious trappings of madness, and bundled into a superhero suit. Most riskily, early Iron Man stories were heavy on

“lee’s new invention was rich and flashy, with his european sports cars and errol flynn moustache”

the obnoxiously anti-Communist rants of an earlier generation. Still, Iron Man’s origin story was a dynamic and memorable one, and with a degree of universality too. Injured while inspecting his latest deliveries to the US Army in Vietnam, Stark is captured by Wong-Chu, a ‘Red guerrilla tyrant’, and his men, and forced to build weapons for them. Stark knows he’s dying – shrapnel embedded near his heart will soon kill him – and embarks on an audacious plan, secretly building an armoured exoskeleton in the makeshift jungle lab, planning to use that for revenge on his captor. And it works: innocents die (notably captured scientist Ho Yinsen, who helps Stark, and so becomes our hero’s second ‘father’), but so do his captors, as ‘Iron Man’ is born, super-strong, heavily weaponised, and based around a chest-piece that keeps Stark’s damaged heart going as long as he keeps it on. It was an exciting tale, if rather low-key by Marvel origin standards – the action highlight saw Iron Man toppled by a thrown filing cabinet, apparently filled with rocks! – but one that was interestingly judged. Wong-Chu is easy to hoot at now, but at least Stark was, like Bruce Banner before him, humanised by the tragedy intrinsically linked to his new-found power. Now, in his mighty armour, Stark could take the fight to the Communists his company was so dedicated to defeating – but the trade-off was huge. Death was ever-present – if his armour should ever stop functioning, so would he – and his personal life in tatters. Now Stark the swordsman would forever have to fend off the lovelies he’d once romanced so gleefully, fearful they’d discover the chest-piece under his shirt.

OTHER MEN ARE BUT FLEAS! Iron Man’s adventures in the early years would take him behind the Iron Curtain a number of times – into Russia and China both – but mostly


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Batman FIrSt APPeAreD In



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Inside the (slightly warped) mind, and endlessly fascinating history, of the world’s greatest detective… By Matt Bielby atman didn’t arrive fully formed: people and time have moulded him. Every decade, every creative team, every goofy villain and every unforgettable moment, they’ve all gone some way towards shaping this guy, building broken little Bruce Wayne’s fantasy of justice into the most fascinating hero in comics. Of course, it’s because of his inherent conflicts and contradictions that Batman is such a powerful character. He’s the cold-blooded logistician with a flair for the theatrical; he’s terrorist as protector; he’s the troubled loner who surrounds himself with buddies; he’s the no-compromise warrior who ties his hands behind his back. Couple this with the rich tapestry of friends, enemies, tools and incident that blankets him, enough strong material to be the envy of any other fictional character, and you’ve got quite the potent dish. When the sun is out, and the world makes sense, we might enjoy the adventures of Superman best; but in troubled times, when this planet seems a proper bitch, our thoughts start to flow Bruce Wayne’s way. Over the years, the imaginations of some remarkable writers and artists have taken that path, and the result has been some quite incredible comics. Here are our highlights from the past 70 years…

All images © DC Comics



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Moore Vs Morrison

They’re the two greatest writers in comics, but Alan Moore and Grant Morrison have very different views on superheroes...

“I’m too old for superheroes. When I first fell in love with superheroes I was seven, they were wonderful creations for seven or 13-year-old kids. That was all they were ever meant to be. And now the average age of the comics audience is in the forties, and it’s still the same characters, still the same stories, only not as well written.” “I very much doubt that it would be possible for anybody to come up with a comic like Watchmen today and have it accepted or nurtured by one of the big companies – that just isn’t going to happen... I think that Watchmen probably caused as many problems for the big companies as it rewarded them…”. “This is basically the only thing the characters are worth now? They’re so debased that they’re only useful for franchises – for as long as you can knock out a few more Batman films, a few more Superman films... once that dries up, then what will there be?” “I tend to think that is what the stasis of the comics industry is – just endless, pointless revisiting of the same ideas, the same tropes, over and over again. It’s a stasis that they enjoy, and I don’t think that is purely limited to the superhero comics.”

“These are primal stories that appeal to human beings in every culture, at any time. They’re designed to be told over and over again. If you were an Aboriginal kid or a tribal shaman, that’s what you’d do; you’d participate in the recycling of stories, the ‘revamping’ of characters and scenarios, the explaining away of plot-holes. Some do the job with more skill and attention to detail than others, but if you work with Marvel, DC or other companies’ pulp fiction characters, you’re basically re-painting pictures of the ancestors on the cave walls.” “I originally dismissed the early Superman stuff as being quite crude, but when you look at the very first story by Siegel and Shuster again, it’s incredible in the way that it breaks open this new form and introduces the idea of the superhero into comics... The colour, the rapid edits and the breakneck decompressed narrative velocity were revolutionary and are still thrilling. Reading this in 1938 must have felt like being shot from a gun.” “They have origins and they have deaths but superheroes live in a permanent middle world between the two. They serve a universal function as simple hieroglyphic representations of particular persistent or eternal human feelings. DC and Marvel superhero stories exist in the Dreamtime of their continuity.”

“I can’t think of many books that have been as progressive as Watchmen that have appeared since. Which is a bit shameful, in that when I was reading comics in the ’60s, and began to see comics from the ’40s, I quickly realised how much comics had progressed… It seems a bit of a poor show if there hasn’t been anything as progressive as a comic that came out in 1985.”

“I can think of numerous innovative and generally superlative superhero comics that have been published since then, never mind all of the great sci-fi, horror and non-genre books. Most of them owe nothing to the style, themes or so-called ‘bad mood’ that drove Watchmen... I’ll throw in my own Flex Mentallo or All Star Superman as two examples of intelligent, non-Watchmeninfluenced superhero stories.”

Alan Moore was interviewed in Comic Heroes #2, Summer 2010)

Grant Morrison was interviewed in Comic Heroes #3, Autumn 2010)




■ Revamped Swamp Thing (1982) and created John Constantine – currently to be found in his own New 52 series ■ Penned ‘The Killing Joke’ – a hugely influential Batman tale that impacted on both Tim Burton’s 1989 movie and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. ■ Created the iconic miniseries Watchmen – a comic that revolutionised the industry, spawned legions of imitators and a so-so movie. ■ Wrote Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow? – a loving ode to Superman.

■ Created the definitive British superhero in amoral, powered pop star Zenith for 2000 AD. ■ Reinvigorated both the Justice League and the X-Men with surprising, inventive runs. ■ Created All-Star Superman with artist Frank Quitely. A serious contender for the greatest superhero story ever told. ■ Followed it up with a psychedelic seven-year stint on Batman, and the New 52 relaunch of Action Comics, which focussed on a younger Superman. ■ Was, somewhat surprisingly, awarded an MBE!

SUMMARY… Generally thought of as the greatest comic writer of all time. Moore may have abandoned superheroes but his work remains as layered and resonant as ever.

SUMMARY… Morrison has recently returned to creator-owned projects like the fantastic Happy! for Image, but he’s still the modern superhero writer to beat.

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Comic sampler