Shooting from the Lip
I’M EXTREMELY proud of Multiverse. It will be a £2.50 news magazine running to 52 pages and will plug the huge hole left on this side of the Atlantic by the demise of Comics International. Every month it will bring you a unique mix of reports, interviews and features covering all aspects of the comics industry. It’ll provide straight forward reportage without hype and without bias alongside the much-missed rundown on all the UK-based comics events, in-store happenings and new shop openings. Its main focus will unashamedly be the popular – read commercial – end of the business. That’s not just the ubiquitous superheroes but Star Wars, Star Trek and similar spin-offs and licensed titles alongside zombies, vampires and other such horrors. Even so, we certainly won’t be neglecting the innovators out there on the cutting edge whether their print run be 100 or 100,000. We’ll be covering their latest titles as they continue to expand the boundaries of our medium. Our comprehensive Reviews column will also feature in-depth spotlights on controversial and high profile launches. As to the “we” behind the title, it’s me – former CI editor, Mike Conroy – together with Redeye’s Barry Renshaw, who was my designer on my last issues of that late, lamented news magazine. Barry has a great flair for design and I’m delighted with the way he’s given Multiverse a 21st century look that sets it apart from other comics magazines. For my part I’ll be tapping into the huge network of contacts I’ve built up over more years than I care to remember to bring Multiverse exclusive interviews with today’s top creators. Why am I doing this you might ask? Am I mad? Isn’t print heading the way of the dinosaur, the dodo and the great auk? Well, if I thought it were, I wouldn’t be staking my future on Multiverse. Neither would I be as excited as I am over the prospect of being management-free, to produce the kind of comics magazine that I envisage. And as for my sanity in taking this on… the jury’s out on that one! Digital – whether Internet news sites or downloadable comics – isn’t a replacement for hard copy magazines, it’s simply a new competitor, which can coexist. It won’t kill off publishing any more than television finished off radio or DVDs brought an end to cinema. If anything digital media is a catalyst for change. It is forcing publishers to evolve. Sure, print runs are falling but how much of that is due to people reading less whether on screen or in print? When comics were selling by the million TV was in its infancy and radio and comics were among the few other home entertainment alternatives. Now there are a zillion channels, computer games, mobile media, downloads, BlueRays, MP3s and a whole lot more. That said, I’m not sticking my head in the sand. Internet news, discussion and downloads are here to stay. That’s why we’ll shortly be announcing an alliance that will make Multiverse available for download on the iPad. Now there’s a game-changer if ever there were one! I’ve never been able to get my head around the idea that people who buy comicbooks all want to get their news fix from online sources. Many, many people like to hold a book or magazine when they’re wanting an in-depth read. Once I thought it was a generational quirk but even those up with computers often only seem to skim the headlines on the Internet. So that’s another reason for Multiverse – it’s for those who want to learn more without having to spend hours staring at a computer monitor. Reading should be a relaxing pastime not one made a chore that can be bad for both eyes and posture and often a busman’s holiday. The Internet often feels like a bottomless pit of regurgitated press releases. Print magazines are edited to be precise and concise… and you certainly don’t get more concise than 20 pages!
The (not so) small print: Multiverse #0 is a promotional freebie published by Conroy/Renshaw Project 208 Productions Publisher/Editor: Mike Conroy Production Editor/Designer: Barry Renshaw Editorial/advertising: 07526 257718 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Printed by Scottish County Press (0131-663 2404) www.multiverse-magazine.com Cover art: Batman Inc #1 by Yanick Paquette
5-Editorial 6-News 16-Frame 2 Frame 18-Competition
“Batman is at his best with his hands dirty, chasing the worst of the worst with everything on the line.” David Finch page 7
Clockwise from this page: Adam Kubert’s art for the variant cover to Batman Inc #1; Dave Finch’s cover art for issues #2 and #1 of Batman: The Dark Knight.
ts the o o b e r d n a n ia d r a u g ’s tham o G s a s n r tu e r e e... n y is a h c W n e a fr l a Bruc b lo g g in k ic ass-k g in ir p s in n a s a t h ig n K Dark
“I needed a villain who was motivated by theft and larceny as opposed to psychopathia...” Howard Chaykin page 8
“If you’ve wanted to see a milkman fighting a dinosaur in a suit, in a pub, then this is definitely the comic for you!” Paul Cornell page 9
S GRANT Morrison brings his time-skipping sixparter, Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne to an end this October in present day Gotham, the acclaimed Scots writer is preparing to put a new spin on the adventures of DC’s Dark Knight. Aided and abetted by Canadian artist Yanick Paquette, whose numerous credits include Ultimate X-Men and Wolverine: Weapon X as well as Morrison’s 2006 DC four-parter Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer, the All Star Superman writer is the mastermind behind Batman Inc, a $3.99 ongoing series that explores the ramifications of Wayne’s decision to transform his crimefighting alter ego into a global franchise. As DC co-publisher Dan DiDio put it, “Bruce Wayne realises that he can’t just be the grim avenger he was before. He wants to be more aggressive in his reach, and realises the change that Batman as a symbol can effect around the world. Without giving too much away here, we wanted to show how Batman can have a global influence.” Displaying the old yellow Bat-symbol on his chest, Wayne’s Batman will not only feature in Batman Inc – which premieres on November 3 – but also in Batman: The Dark Knight, which launches three weeks later. Another $3.99 monthly, it is written and drawn by David Finch who says, “I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve wanted to draw Batman for a very, very long time. Batman and his world embody everything that I love about superhero comics, and I could not be happier that I’ve gotten this opportunity!”
Demonology and dark arts “Maybe the greatest thing about Batman is his versatility as a character. He can be so many things to so many people. For me though, the Neal Adams/Denny O’Neil issues from the early ’70s are the most definitive,” stated the Canadian, who is now under an exclusive contract with DC. “That work casts a very long shadow over every Batman book that has come out since, and I think it’s a testament to its strength that close to 40 years later it remains modern and vital. Batman is at his best with his hands dirty, chasing the worst of the worst with everything on the line. He’s a detective, first and foremost. But he’s also the enforcer. Nobody gets away with crime on Batman’s watch, and he makes sure they think twice before they step over the line again. “The Dark Knight takes Batman outside what he knows, into a world of demonology, dark arts, and mystery,” explained Finch, who drew Ultimate X-Men, Avengers and New Avengers among various other Marvel titles. “He’s the ultimate detective, faster, stronger and smarter than any villain, but now he faces creatures to whom logic and mortality don’t apply. “I want Dark Knight to be true to Batman’s street level, crimefighter roots. He’ll face a rogues gallery that we’re all familiar with, but this book will take him on a darker path where he’ll be stretched to his physical and psychological limits,” concluded Finch, who drew the 56-page Batman: The Return. A Morrison-written one-shot laying the foundations for the next stage in the Batman saga, it ships on October 27, priced $4.99. As for the three existing Bat-monthlies – Batman, Batman and Robin and Detective Comics – they are to star Dick Grayson as Batman (with the black Bat-symbol on his chest) with Damian Wayne as Robin. The new era kicks off in November with all five titles addressing at least tangentially the new relationship between Wayne and his CONTINUED OVERLEAF
MEANWHILE... DC slashes prices
IN A totally unexpected move, DC has announced plans for a linewide readjustment in the cost of its standard 32-page monthlies. As of January, the cover price of all its ongoing series currently retailing at $3.99 is to be reduced to $2.99. Announcing the move, DC co-publisher Jim Lee said it “re-affirms DC Comics’ commitment to both our core fans and to comicbook store retailers. For the long term health of the industry, we are willing to take a financial risk so that readers who love our medium do not abandon the art form.”
Hermes announces graphic novel line
AFTER sevens years publishing comics-related reference books and compilations, Hermes Press is adding a new string to its corporate bow. The Pennsylvaniabased publisher is commissioning new material for a proposed line of graphic novels. The first of its all ages titles is to be the third volume in Mike Bullock’s popular Lions, Tigers and Bears series. Originally announced as a 2008 four-parter, the latest instalment in the saga is illustrated by Michael Metcalf, a relative newcomer. It is scheduled for publication in March. Initially published in 2005 as a Jack Lawrence-pencilled Image four-parter, Lions, Tigers and Bears is currently in development by Paramount Pictures as a live action movie.
Resurrecting the dead
WITH The Walking Dead set to hit US TV screens shortly, Dynamite has chosen to resurrect its own zombie comic in the hope of cashing in on the anticipated craze the screen version of the hugely successful Image series will incite for all things living dead. Unsurprisingly Raise the Dead 2 is a sequel to 2007’s four-issue Raise the Dead, which was written by Leah Moore and John Reppion. This time around their involvement is limited to providing a plot for Mike Raicht, who has previous when it comes to the living dead. He wrote Marvel MAX’s 2006 four-parter Zombie as well as various of Dynamite’s Army of Darkness titles. Referring to this latest project, Raicht said, “As for the new volume... our heroes have made it to the small coastal town of Alfredo Bay hoping that it provides them a bit of a respite from the zombie onslaught. Does it? Well if it did, that might make for a pretty boring book. In this new volume we introduce some new characters, catch up with some old ones and, of course, have a CONTINUED OVERLEAF
return of a fan-favourite character.” For his part, Blackman – who is probably best known for his work on a variety of Star Wars comics and computer games – added, “The thing that really attracts me to Batwoman as a character is her combination of a really strong, personal story and a dark, superheroic one. She has that perfect combination and I’m looking forward to the chance to take some of the classic aspects of vigilante comics and reinterpret them through the lens of this character.” Also shipping in November (on the 3rd to be precise) is a 56-page one-shot written and drawn by Howard Chaykin. The $4.99 Batman/Catwoman: Follow the Money features the return of a swordwielding Z-list baddie first seen in 1943’s Detective Comics #43 and spotted only sporadically since. As Chaykin puts it, “He’s very much the old-school Cavalier – a guy who is part of Bruce Wayne’s social set, who supports his presence in that social set through a life of crime.”
bucket load of zombies and gore to throw at you.” The four issues of Raise the Dead 2 are illustrated by Guiu Vilanova, a Spanish artist whose US credits are limited to 2010’s A-Team: War Stories – Murdock one-shot and an issue of Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now; both for IDW. The series premieres in December.
Conan publisher draws its Savage Sword
DARK Horse is expanding its Robert E Howard roster with an anthology spotlighting some of the more obscure of the Conan creator’s characters. While the 80-page perfectbound Robert E Howard’s Savage Sword will feature the pulp author’s archetypal sword and sorcery hero and Solomon Kane, it will also include stories of Dark Agnes and Bran Mak Morn among others. Set to ship on December 22, the $7.99 first issue includes contributions from Paul Tobin, Marc Andreyko and Tim Bradstreet as well as an adaptation of Worms of the Earth reprinted from issues #16 and 17 of Marvel’s black and white Savage Sword of Conan. Illustrated by Tim Conrad and Barry WindsorSmith, the story has been freshly coloured for this reprinting. The 40-pager was written by Roy Thomas, who is being reunited with the sword-wielding Cimmerian barbarian he so successfully transferred to comics on December 15 after a decade apart. A $3.50 mini, his six-issue Conan: Road of the Kings is drawn by The UnMen’s Mike Hawthorne and John Lucas, who is currently inking DC’s Mighty Crusaders. Another upcoming REH title from Dark Horse is Kull: The Hate Witch written by Stray Bullets creator David Lapham. Debuting on November 22, the $3.50 fourparter is pencilled by Gabriel Guzman, an Argentinian artist whose credits include Cable and The Amory Wars.
Stan Lee to unveil his NHL Guardians
AMERICA’S National Hockey League is forming Guardian Media Entertainment in partnership with Stan Lee. The new entity will be the platform for the launch of the Guardian Project. The Marvel Universe co-creator ’s latest superhero franchise, it will encompass the creation of 30 Guardians, a new series of superheroes apparently based around “a creative concept that organically and authentically incorporates various NHL elements but is not set in the world of hockey.” Each Guardian will symbolise one of the NHL’s 30 CONTINUED OVERLEAF
Sociopaths and psychopaths
former sidekick-cum-protégé Grayson (the original Robin) as both lay claim to the Batman legacy. “Just as readers were getting comfortable with the idea of former sidekick Dick Grayson playing the role of Batman, along comes Bruce Wayne’s triumphant return to the cape and cowl,” editor Mike Marts said. “Is Gotham City ready for two Batmen? Is the world? And who’s to say the fun will end there?” The new direction brings with it new creative teams with Tony Daniel returning to write and draw Batman (as of #704) while Peter J Tomasi and his Green Lantern Corps penciller Patrick Gleason – a contributor to Brightest Day, which Tomasi is co-writing with Geoff Johns – together with inker Mark Irwin (whose credits also include Brightest Day and Green Lantern Corps) are taking over Batman and Robin as of #17. As for Detective Comics, beginning with the 40-page #871 Jock will be illustrating the lead feature, which is being written by American Vampire’s Scott Snyder. As well as working with The Losers artist, Snyder will also be scripting a Commissioner Gordon backup drawn by Dynamite’s Zorro artist Francesco Francavilla.
Heart and drama Although not scheduled to launch until next 2011, another new addition to DC’s Bat-line is being previewed in November. Shipping on the 24th and picking up where the Batwoman: Elegy hardcover left off, the $3.99 Batwoman #0 is written by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman with Williams III – who drew Promethea – and Amy Reeder illustrating the one-shot in collaboration with inker Richard Case. “Our goal is to tell a riveting action adventure tale with some heart and drama to it,” said Williams, who will be drawing the first story arc in the new series with Madame Xanadu’s Reeder illustrating the second. “We want the reader to learn even more about who Kate Kane is as Batwoman; showing why she is an important addition to the Bat-Family of heroes beyond what has already been addressed. We are also wanting to really make sure we start building additions to her own ‘rogues gallery.’ Just how will Kate deal with the fallout between her and her father, Jacob? Will Kate be able to find love other than Renee Montoya, aka the Question? And as far as flavour – there will be a sprinkle of creepy beings, myth and legends, government agency intrigue, and a surprise
Explaining how he came to resurrect this particular bad guy, Chaykin said, “I needed a villain who was motivated by theft and larceny as opposed to psychopathia. Many of Batman’s villains are obviously psychopaths, going from the Joker to the Riddler – these guys are crazy as a shithouse rat. But the Cavalier’s motivation, as criminal as it may be, isn’t psychotic. It’s more sociopathic.” As for the genesis of the project, Chaykin explained, “What got us started was the question, how does Bruce Wayne’s money impact on his alternate life as Batman. That’s what it’s about to a profound extent. It’s the way he can afford to fight crime. You or I could not afford the lifestyle that Bruce Wayne has, which makes Batman possible.”
Chirpy cockneys As a British crimefighting duo, DC’s original Knight and Squire would not be out of place in the past, w h e n
Clockwise from above: DC cover art for Knight and Squire #1 (by Yanick Paquette); the Batman/Catwoman: Follow the Money one-shot (Howard Chaykin); and Batwoman #0 (J.H. William III)
American comicbooks depicted these sceptred isles as a constantly fogbound land populated by chirpy Cockneys and aloof upper class toffs. That’s hardly surprising as they made their entrance into the DC Universe in 1950, in Batman #62. Introduced by Bill Finger and the Dick Sprang/Charles Paris art team in the 12-page Batman of England, the aristocratic superheroes – members of the Club of Heroes/Batmen of All Nations – were little used and faded into obscurity well before the 1950s were over. Then 40 years after they were last seen, writer Grant Morrison gave them a brink of the millennium makeover in 1997’s Mark Pajarillo/Walden Wong-illustrated JLA #26. That boosted their career, resulting in sporadic appearances in the various Bat-titles across the past 13 years. Now, 60 years after they made their debut, England’s answer to Batman and Robin are to get their own title, albeit only a $2.99 six-parter. The mini is written by Captain Britain and MI: 13’s Paul Cornell, an Englishman who is patently not taking the concept too seriously. “Knight and Squire is an insane spin off from Grant Morrison’s Batman and Robin, whereby the two greatest British heroes of the DC universe are joined by, over the course of six issues, 100 – exactly 100 – new British heroes and villains. It’s insane! We’ve come up with an advertising slogan for the whole thing: The Knight and Squire are going to have some reasonably exciting adventures if that’s all right with everyone. If you’ve wanted to see a milkman fighting a dinosaur in a suit, in a pub, then this is the comic for you.”
Exponential increase “It’s six one-offs,” revealed Cornell, who is also writing Action Comics. “Because when Grant started the Knight and Squire, every time they would appear he would add something to their world, we just felt that with a miniseries we had to exponentially increase that. So they will get enormous. We’ll fill in huge swathes of DC Britain.” Premiering on October 14, Knight and Squire is drawn by another Brit, the pseudonymous Jimmy Broxton, whose credits to date are limited to two issues of Mike Carey’s The Unwritten.
Stan Lee’s Split Seconds at BOOM!
Phonogram writer brings hope to a new generation of Marvel’s mutants... KIERON Gillen is really on a roll. Launching off the back of his (and artist Jamie McKelvie’s) much praised 2006 Image series, Phonogram and its 2008 sequel, the Brit writer has moved his career up a gear or two with Marvel signing him to an exclusive contract following his readerpleasing run on Thor. With his Thunder God assignment now at an end, he’s moving on to Uncanny XMen which he’ll be penning in collaboration with the series’ current scribe, Matt Fraction. His association with that longrunning $3.99 title begins with the Greg Land-pencilled issue #531, which ships on December 22. Seven weeks prior to that he’s going solo with the ongoing saga of a band of Marvel’s latest mutants led by Hope Summers, who some believe to be the Mutant Messiah. Illustrated by Black Widow and the Marvel Girls’ Salva Espin, Generation Hope picks up from Second Coming. The third instalment in a trilogy that began with Messiah Complex and continued in Messiah War, that 2010 crossover encompassed New Mutants #12-14, Uncanny X-Men #523-525, X-Factor #204-206, X-Force #26-28, X-Men: Legacy #235-237, X-Men: Blind Science #1 and X-Men: Hellbound #1-3 with the two issues of X-Men: Second
HE MAY now be pushing 90 now but the co-founder of the Marvel Universe seems to have found a new lease of life. Not only is Stan Lee writing Super Seven (an as-yet unscheduled superteam title) for Archie Comics but the man who co-created such comicbook icons as Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk and Iron Man has also provided BOOM! Studios with three fresh superhero concepts that are to feature in their own monthly titles. Premiering in November is The Traveler, a $3.99 series focusing on a time jumper who tangles with the SplitSecond Men, a crew of superpowered assassins from the future. The comic is illustrated by Warlord’s Chad Hardin, who also drew DC’s forthcoming Our Fighting Forces oneshot. It is written by Mark Waid – the acclaimed author of a myriad series including The Flash and Captain America – who says the hero doesn’t play by the standard rules of time travel stories, “This guy doesn’t care whether he messes with history or not. As a matter of fact, this is the kind of guy who, if he were standing in Dealey Plaza in 1963, he wouldn’t let Kennedy be killed…. What you see is what are the repercussions if you’re willing to actually tamper in time.” Preceding The Traveler is Lee’s Soldier Zero. It is a tale, says former Captain Britain and MI-13 writer Paul Cornell of “a chap who is in a wheelchair who gets the chance, bonded with this alien soldier, to be out of the chair doing extraordinary, superheroic stuff.” Soldier Zero, which debuts in October, is drawn by Javier Pina, who illustrated DC’s Mighty Crusaders Special. It is another $3.99 series as is Starborn – the third of Lee’s BOOM! titles – which kicks off in December.
Coming serving as book ends. Generation Hope features Hope Summers, Rogue, Cyclops and Wolverine, who – together with four neophytes – go in search of a fifth newcomer, one whose loyalties may not lie with the good guys. “My cast is a bunch of kids and I’m interested a little in the idea of a generation gap,” explained the writer. “For five years now, there have been no new mutants. So these characters are separated from that community. It’s not like they’re immediately part of this big family. “In Second Coming, you saw how Hope was being treated. People are very interested in her,” continued Gillen, whose other Marvel credits include Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter, Dark Avengers: Ares and S.W.O.R.D.. “These kids are sort of in the same boat. So there’s definitely that element to it. “It’s like what happens when people get what they want? It seems like those who pray for a messiah are often very likely to nail that messiah to a cross,” concluded Gillen. Above: Olivier Coipel’s art for the 40page first issue of Marvel’s latest X-title, Generation Hope. The $3.99 series premieres on November 3.
ABOVE: Chad Hardin interior art from from the Mark Waidscripted The Traveler. A $3.99 BOOM! monthly based on a concept by Stan Lee, the first issue is out in November.
MEANWHILE... teams and comes complete with powers representative of each team and city. The entire line-up is to be unveiled during the 2011 NHL All-Star Game on January 30 in Raleigh, North Carolina. As is to be expected in this day and age, the property is to be released across multiple platforms, including publishing, gaming, in-arena, broadcast and merchandise as well as via promotional and sponsorship activities. This latest project follows hard on the heels of Lee’s recent creative alliances with Archie Comics and BOOM! Studios [see page 10 for further details].
Image tosses a new Sea King into the comicbook oceans POSSIBLY owing more to TV’s long-gone Man from Atlantis than to Aquaman or Namor the Sub-Mariner, Image’s Marineman plunges into the comicbook ocean on December 1. Created by Ian Churchill, the eponymous star of his own $3.99 monthly is actually marine biologist and TV presenter Steve Ocean, referred to as Marineman by the viewing public much in the same way the late Steve Irwin was known as the Crocodile Hunter.
Childhood Influences The character was conceived when the former Cable and Supergirl artist was just eight-years old. “[Then] he looked a lot like a cross between Marvel’s S u b - M a r i n e r a n d D C ’s Aquaman, with a lot of influences from the TV shows that I loved at the time such as The Six Million Dollar Man, The Gemini Man, Tarzan (the Ron Ely one) etc,” explained the artist, whose most recent credits include a short run on Hulk which reunited him with Jeph Loeb, the writer with whom he cocreated Lionheart and The Coven for Awesome. “I originally based his look on Richard Egan as I loved the Jane Russell movie Underwater! when I was a kid – to an eight-year old he was a pretty cool guy. I was even going to set it all in the 1950s at one point because I liked that movie so much!” Explaining that the Marineman concept went through a number of changes over the years before he eventually settled on his current look about 10 years ago, the English artist addressed the almost inevitable comparisons between his creation and DC and Marvel’s underwater heroes,
saying “Well I guess the major differences are that Marineman isn’t the product of an Atlantean and a human coupling, he isn’t Atlantean royalty either, in fact in the world of Marineman there is no Atlantis apart from some coral encrusted ruins on the sea bed!”
Making lemonade “The core story of Marineman is a tale of triumph over adversity. To me that is the real heroism we find in the world around us. In comics I like the superhero/supervillain conflicts as much as the next guy, but what I always preferred was SpiderMan swinging by the building site and saving the construction worker who just fell from the scaffolding or Superman taking the time to get the cat out of the tree, to me that is heroism, just helping people who can’t help themselves. It’s like the adage goes; if life deals you lemons, make lemonade. That process is rarely easy and mostly a huge effort, but without trying to sound like an American Idol cliché it’s that ‘journey’ that’s interesting to watch,” added Churchill. A $3.99 Image monthly, Marineman debuts on December 1. Top: A double-page spread from the first issue of Ian Churchill’s Marineman. Above: Marineman as depicted by Churchill some five to six years ago. Commenting on the visual, the English artist said, “The wristlets are slightly different as is the belt buckle but apart from that he looks roughly the same [as today].”
Portacio draws Artifacts
WETWORKS creator Whilce Portacio is to draw the second arc in Top Cow’s Ron Marz-written Artifacts series. He comes on board for issues #5-8 of the $3.99 13-parter with his first issue shipping on December 29. An Image Comics founder, Portacio has recently drawn issues of Spawn and Uncanny XMen while also contributing to the Image’s just-released Fractured Fables anthology.
Batman does Europe
IT’S TAKEN six years but DC finally has Batman: Europa on the schedule. Originally announced in 2004, the four-issue mini unites the Dark Knight and his arch nemesis, the Joker as they scour Europe for a diabolical common foe who has infected Batman with a mysterious and deadly virus. Written by 100 Bullets creator Brian Azzarello and Italian Matteo Casali, one of the writers of Sky Doll. The series kicks of in January with a first issue painted by Jim Lee. Giuseppe Camuncoli, who has just completed a short run on Hellblazer, follows on #2. Next up is Diego Latorre (who illustrated Dante’s Inferno for DC/WildStorm) while The Losers’ Jock is drawing the concluding issue.
Arcana loots Devil’s Due
SEVEN titles created by Josh Blaylock have been scooped up by a go-ahead Los Angeles-based publisher that has been quietly expanding its library of properties since being set up in 2003. Arcana Studios’ booty contains Kore, Warstone, Mercy Sparx, Misplaced, Defex, Breakdown and Blade of Kumori. All were previously published by Devil’s Due. The beleaguered company – which initially released its titles under the Image umbrella – was founded by Blaylock in 1999. It’s initial success was built on a reboot of the G.I. Joe licence. It has struggled in recent years resulting in no comics being released since late 2009.
WildStorm folds as DC goes bicoastal LTHOUGH the two announcements are probably unrelated, DC unveiled plans for a transcontinental move of all but its comicbook publishing operations out of New York and into a Burbank, Los Angeles facility managed by its parent company, Warner Bros just hours before it revealed its intentions to close WildStorm, the former Image imprint it acquired from Jim Lee in 1999. Speaking of the relocation, Diane Nelson, President, DC Entertainment said, “ These organisational changes reinforce the strengths of DC’s greatest legacies – most importantly its people and its creative talent – and offer greater opportunity for maximum growth, success and efficiency in the future. Our two offices will stretch and build their respective areas of focus, while prioritising and aggressively striving to connect and cooperate more strongly than ever before between them and with their colleagues at Warner Bros.”
Strategic realignment For his part, Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros Pictures Group, to whom Nelson reports, said, ““This strategic business realignment allows us to fully integrate and expand the DC brand in feature films as well as across multiple distribution platforms of Warner Bros and Time Warner. We are creating a seamless, cohesive unit that will bring even more great characters and content to consumers everywhere.” The plan is for the relocation of DC’s businesses related to the development and production of feature films, television, digital media, video games and consumer products as well as the company’s administrative functions to be completed by the end of 2011. DC’s comicbook publishing operations are to remain in New York but there is no news to how the move could
affect the company’s current staff, who number approximately 250.
Regroup and redefine In a joint statement explaining the reasons for shutting down the 18-year old WildStorm, DC copublishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee said, “After taking the comics scene by storm nearly 20 years ago, the WildStorm Universe titles will end this December. In this soft marketplace, these characters need a break to regroup and redefine what made them once unique and cutting edge. While these will be the final issues published under the WildStorm imprint, it will not be the last we will see of many of these heroes. We, along with Geoff Johns, have a lot of exciting plans for these amazing characters, so stay tuned. Going forward, WildStorm’s licensed titles and kids comics will now be published under the DC banner.” The pair also announced the extinction of another DC label. “After this week, we will cease to publish new material under the ZUDA banner.
The material that was to have been published as part of ZUDA this year will now be published under the DC banner. The official closing of ZUDA ends one chapter of DC’s digital history, but we will continue to find new ways to innovate with digital, incorporating much of the experience and knowledge that ZUDA brought into DC. “We’ll be further expanding our digital initiative and making a lot more news in this space. As part of that transformation, the WildStorm editorial team will undergo a restructuring and be folded into the overall DC Comics Digital team, based in Burbank, which will be led by Jim Lee and John Rood. With nearly two million free downloads and hundreds of thousands of paid downloads, our digital foray is already reaching a new audience worldwide” they proclaimed. “We could not be more excited by the successful launch of our Digital Publishing products in June, which exceeded all sales forecasts and will be building on our early success with new applications for DC material on all major formats and hardware, partnering with Warner Bros Digital Distribution. It has extremely been rewarding to hear anecdotal stories of lapsed readers returning to the art form and of brick and mortar stores gaining new customers who sampled digital comics.”
Another Milestone for DC? WildStorm was founded by Jim Lee in 1992. One of the original divisions of Image Comics, its inaugural title – the Lee-drawn WildC.A.T.S.: Covert Action Teams – achieved sales in excess of 1,000,000 copies of its first issue. Today – following several relaunches, reboots and false starts – the top sellers among its roster of over a dozen titles struggle to exceed 10,000 each while the bottom end achieve sales of less than 4,000. During the last decade or so, several WildStorm titles have generated critical acclaim as well as controversy in equal measure: with its black
humour, violence and graphic property damage The Authority – created by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch in 1999 – helped introduce the terms “widescreen destruction” and “decompression” into the comicbook vocabulary. After the duo’s 12issue run, Mark Millar and Frank Quitely took over for volume two and introduced more overtly political themes in the book. After the events of 9/11, however, DC became reportedly uneasy with the level of violence depicted and the book was subject to censorship, including artwork alterations and the removal of a gay kiss between Apollo and Midnighter, the title’s pastiche of DC’s own Superman and Batman.
Highly regarded Also subject to controversy was Preacher creator Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s The Boys, about a team of five superpowered operatives who work for a secret department within the US government, monitoring the behaviour of superhumans and when needed, taking them down. Described by the writer as the book that would “outPreacher Preacher”, the series was cancelled after issue 6, the rights reverting to the creators and the book later being picked up by Dynamite Entertainment WildStorm was also the original home of Alan Moore’s America’s Best Comics. Formed in 1999, the imprint published such highly regarded titles as League of Extraordinary Gentlemen [LOEG], Promethea and Tom Strong. When WildStorm was sold to DC that year, Moore agreed to continue with the project only if Lee acted as a buffer between him and DC. However after various issues between Moore and DC, the acclaimed writer took his future LOEG books to Top Shelf.
End of the line The final issues of WildStorm’s own titles will be The Authority #29, Gen13 #9, Ides of Blood #5, Victorian Undead II: Sherlock Holmes vs Dracula #2, Welcome to Tranquillity: One Foot in the Grave #6, Wildcats #30 and WildStorm Presents: Planetary – Lost Worlds #1. Its licenced series are ending with: Assassin’s Creed: The Fall #2, End of Nations #3, Kane and Lynch #4, Ratchet and Clank #4, Resident Evil #6, Gears of War #15, Telara Chronicles #2 and World of Warcraft: Curse of the Worgen #2 while the WildStorm/IDW co-production The X-Files/30 Days of Night concludes at #6. Also lined up for December are the last WildStorm trade paperbacks: Sparta: U.S.A., Fringe: Tales from the Fringe and Telara Chronicles as well as one final hardcover: Gears of War Book Two. Opposite (top): The linked cover to The Authority #29 and WildC. A.T.S. #30, by Jheremy Raapack and (inset): WildStorm publisher Jim Lee. Above: Covers to some of WildStorm’s greatest hits: WildC.A.T.S.: Covert Action Teams #1, art by Jim Lee and Scott Williams; The Authority #1, art by Bryan Hitch; Tom Strong #1, art by Alex Ross; and The Boys #1, art by Darick Robertson.
Cap’s Silver Age revival revisited WHILE THE world awaits 2011’s big screen incarnation of the First Avenger, the writer responsible for two of the most highly acclaimed runs on Captain America during the last decades of the 20th century is writing a five-parter that takes a fresh look at the Sentinel of Liberty’s rebirth after spending 50 years frozen in suspended animation.
Future imperfect Picking up from where the Avengers stumble across the body of the missing World War II hero (as originally chronicled by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1964’s classic Avengers #4), the $3.99 Captain America: Man out of Time #1 [cover art above by Bryan Hitch] follows Cap as he struggles to adapt to life in the 21st century. Explaining why the Second World War super soldier would have a hard time adjusting to his new environment, series writer Mark Waid said, “Surprisingly, it’s not the technology. Steve Rogers has been to Atlantis. I’m pretty reassured that he can figure out how to use a cellphone given proper instructions. He’s not a caveman. What throws him the most is that he’s literally just blinked – just blinked – and all of a sudden, the world he knew is alien enough, where it’s surreal and dreamlike and yet familiar enough to where it still hurts to see the things that are broken or tarnished or just gone.”
Hard changes “Captain America blinked, and in the space of a moment, he got thrown into an America that was supposed to have been a utopia by now but isn’t,” Waid continues. “Civil rights and equal rights have persevered for the most part, yes, but everything’s different, and Cap has no learning curve. Not when it comes to social context. Civil rights, equal pay for equal work – these things were distant goals in Cap’s future and now they’re pretty much a reality, which is terrific, but at the same time, we were also supposed to have flying cars and jet packs by now. The future isn’t at all what he’d envisioned. “Yesterday, by his clock, we were at war with Japan and now they own us technologically,” he adds. “Our allies are our enemies, our enemies are our allies, society as a whole is angrier and far more violent and sexual, which is the hardest thing for him to wrap his head around; these are hard changes for Steve Rogers to adjust to,” stated Waid, who wrote Captain America #444-454 [1995-1996] and #1-23 [1998-1999] as well as 10 of the 12 issues of 1998’s Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty. Premiering on November 3, Captain America: Man out of Time is pencilled by Jorge Molina. The Mexican artist’s credits include Pilot Season: Urban Myths and Avengers: The Initiative.
eginning with Blue Bolt in June 1940, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby set the standard for costumed heroes. Their creation Captain America remains one of the most iconic heroes in comic book history, and their work for Timely and DC Comics raised the bar. A 480-page behemoth, Simon & Kirby Superheroes introduces some of their most exciting characters: Fighting American, their Cold War take on the patriotic hero; The Fly, with origins in an unknown Spider-Man prototype; Lancelot Strong, the man with the double life, and the Hollywood swashbuckler known as Stuntman. The ÂŁ35 hardback is the only edition authorised by both Simon and the Kirby estate, the material sourced from the official Simon and Kirby archives. To win this essential addition to any comic fans shelf, just answer this simple question: Joe Simon and Jack Kirby are credited with creating which genre of American comics? A: War
Send you answer with your name and postal address to email@example.com. Good luck! This competition has been brought to you by Multiverse and the fine folks at Titan Books. For a look at their full range of titles, check out www.titanbooks.com
Only the good die young... THAT Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison all died at age 27 was the catalyst for a new Image/ ShadowLine four-parter by a pair of relative newcomers, Charles Soule and artist Renzo Podesta, who drew Arcana’s 2009 graphic novel Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom.
Obvious problems Premiering on November 10, the $3.50 27 – the latest in Image’s larger Golden Age format – is, says Soule, the story of “a famous guitarist named Will Garland, whose left hand stops working just before he turns 27. He can’t play any more, which is an obvious problem for a famous rock star guitarist. He tries regular doctors first, but when they can’t help him he turns to ‘alternative’ health care providers: witch doctors, shamans, folks like that. From them, he learns that he’s the next in line to become a member of the 27 Club – a list of famous musicians and artists who all died at age 27. That’s a real thing, by the way, and includes some amazing names like Hendrix, Cobain, etcetera. “From there,” continued the writer, “the book’s about Garland trying to live to see 28, figuring out what’s happened to him, and why the 27 Club exists. It’s a little supernatural in tone, and definitely tense and exciting. It’s full of cool music trivia, even though you don’t have to be a music fan to enjoy it. “I also should mention that I built a cool little puzzle into the book,”
revealed Soule, who wrote 2009’s Strongman graphic novel for SLG Publishing (Slave Labor Graphics as was). “Certain pages have little bits of a code that adds up to something interesting. You have to read all four issues to get the whole puzzle, and I hope people think it’s fun enough to spend the time figuring it out. “It’s not a contest,” he explained, “but the first person to figure it out will know exactly what to do next, and I’ll make sure they’re appropriately thanked for their time and enthusiasm. Why did I do this? Just because comics are comics, you know? They ’re supposed to have awesome stuff like that in them!”
Reader response Looking to the future, Soule concluded, “I have two ideas for a 27 sequel. One would take the concept and really turn it on its ear, and go to an entirely new place. The other would further explore the world established in the first series There’s a definite ending in the existing book, but it’s open-ended enough that I can keep it going without too much trouble. Reader response will be the main thing, of course. If enough people buy it, like it and want more, we’ll make more.” BELOW: A Renzo Podesta-drawn story page from the first issue of 27. An Image/ShadowLine four-parter, the $3.50 mini debuts on November 10.
Young Allies’ Araña adopts Spider-Girl identity MARVEL sure is determined to make Spider-Girl a star but after years of trying to keep Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz’ MC2 Universe daughter of Peter and Mary Jane Parker afloat in her own title, May ‘Mayday’ Parker is being pushed aside to give another young woman with arachnid-like powers a chance to shine. Instead of the alternate timeline heroine first seen in 1998’s What If… ? #105, the latest series is to showcase Anya Corazon in Spider-Girl #1 [cover art right by Barry Kitson]. Introduced as Araña in 2004’s Amazing Fantasy #1, this Puerto Rican web-slinger – the creation of Fiona Avery and artist Mark Brooks – has most recently been seen in Young Allies. Launching on November 10, the $3.99 monthly is written by Paul Tobin and pencilled by his Marvel Adventures Super Heroes collaborator Clayton
Henry. The writer – whose credits also include Black Widow and the Marvel Girl, said, “It’s a slightly darker tone, especially at first, when things don’t go well for Anya, but there will be some of that fun, certainly. I think it’s very important for superheroes to be able to laugh, because part of laughing is being human, being able to care, and without those things the characters can become very one-dimensional. And if I don’t care about a character as a person, then I really don’t care about fight scenes. Action can become almost mathematical; meaning, ‘By what equation does the hero win this fight?’ rather than the far more engaging, ‘What is it about the hero that makes me want her to win this fight?’” And on the subject of spider-related changes, three weeks after Corazon jumps into the limelight as Spider-Girl, Marvel’s original wall-crawler gets a costume upgrade as he confronts the amped-up Hobgoblin in Amazing Spider-Man #650 . The $3.99 issue is by the series’ regular creative crew: Dan Slott and penciller Humberto Ramos, who also provides the cover art [left]. The new outfit is by no means the web-slinger’s first change of wardrobe. Shown below are a handful of the different costumes he’s worn over the years.
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the last time I commented publicly on what’s happening when it comes to the big and small screen’s interest in comics was over 12 months ago and what a lot there has been going on since. Just this year we have been blessed or cursed depending on your point of view with Jonah Hex, Scott Pilgrim vs the World and The Losers, three movies that combined could only generate a worldwide box office take a little over half of what Kick-Ass achieved. But even with its $96 million gross the latter’s success pales into insignificance when held up against Iron Man 2, a sequel that has to date brought in $622 million putting it ahead of its predecessor’s $585 million. What does that prove? Not much beyond the strong possibility that cinema-going audiences don’t actually care much for comicbook characters unless they come clad in spandex and flaunting superpowers. If that is the case, 2011 will serve them well with Thor, Captain America and Green Lantern all set to premiere within weeks of each other. Even so there’s a lot of other titles in the pipeline and, rather than talk about just one or two of them in depth, I thought I’d kick off my resurrected column with a visual smorgasbord highlighting several of the other projects that are currently in development...
The idea that Warner Bros had deputised Christopher Nolan to reboot its moribund Superman franchise didn’t exactly fill me with delight. Superb though it may be, Nolan’s body of work tends towards the bleak and depressing. The dark edge to Momento, The Prestige and The Dark Knight significantly enhances such productions but I’m convinced that a similar approach would be wrong for the Man of Steel. If Batman is of the night then Superman is of the day. For all that, I’m always impressed by Nolan’s output and willing to wait and see except… he’s gone and chosen Zack Snyder to direct the currently titled Superman: Man of Steel. While I will admit that filming Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ magnum opus must have been a daunting task, I really wasn’t overly impressed by Snyder’s 2009 adaptation of Watchmen. As for 300, his slavish devotion to Frank Miller’s comicbook version ruined what could have been a great sword and sandal spectacle, transforming a band of heroic but doomed Spartans into something akin to Ancient Greek superheroes. From where I sit in the cheap seats, it seems to me that Snyder is just too much of a comicbook fan. There’s nothing wrong with that per se but a director has to accept that cinema is a different medium, one that requires different sensibilities. I’m not saying the source material shouldn’t be treated with respect just that it has to be modified to work on the screen. Spider-Man’s Sam Raimi understood the concept but I’m not sure Snyder does. But then I’ve been wrong before!
Pictured: Alex Ross’s Superman #683 cover art
SUPERMAN: MAN OF STEEL (2012?) DIR: ZACK SNYDER
F2F DREDD (2012) DIR: PETER TRAVIS
Proposals to reboot the movie career of 2000 AD’s flagship character has been mooted for years but it’s finally happening. Shooting begins next month in South Africa with Vantage Point’s Peter Travis directing from a script by Alex 28 Days Later Garland. Dredd co-creator John Wagner has been consulted on the project which features Karl Urban – nu-Star Trek’s Bones McCoy– in the title role, with Juno’s Olivia Thirlby cast as a cadet Psi-Judge Anderson. Offering his opinion on the way the filmmakers are approaching the new movie, the writer said, ““While I can't go into detail about the content I can say that it's high-octane, edge of the seat stuff, and gives a far truer representation of Dredd than the first movie. I hated that plot... [it] had little connection with the character we know from the comic.” Producer Andrew Macdonald added, “Our idea is to make a very hard, R-rated, gritty, realistic movie of Dredd in Mega City One, so we’ve got to get the tone right.” (LEFT: Dave Taylor cover art for 2000 AD Prog 1653)
WITH Smallville finishing its 10th season this year, and The Walking Dead already being touted as the Next Big Thing before its first episode even airs, Warner Bros is looking even more keenly at television as an outlet for comicbook properties and currently manoeuvring two Vertigo mainstays in that direction. After years failing to develop a big screen version of The Sandman, the studio reportedly wants Supernatural creator Eric Kripke to adapt Neil Gaiman’s iconic fantasy comic for the small screen. Also being developed is a series based on the Bill Willingham-written Fables, though details still remain sketchy, with only seasoned TV director/producer David Semel known to be attached. With their character-driven and complex storylines, both titles would be better served on TV where the medium’s episodic nature would provide an opportunity to replicate at least something of their full potential. (RIGHT: Cover art by James Jean for Fables #71)
WONDER WOMAN (TBC)
WARNER Bros is also looking to replicate the modicum of TV success DC’s Amazon Princess achieved in the 1970s. Joss Whedon was to write and direct at one point a big screen version until the budget became too unwieldy, while XMen’s Lauren Shuler Donner has recently been campaigning to come on board as producer. But the best efforts of these and everyone else involved over the past decade or so have been to no avail. Perhaps it’s more than possible that the recent failures of Elektra and Catwoman have made studio execs wary when it comes to spending megabucks to put comicbook heroines on the big screen, despite those films sharing little resemblance to the source material. Female driven shows do seem to fare much better on television as evidenced by the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Ghost Whisperer. Will the Amazon Princess once more have a successful TV career? Only time will tell. (LEFT: Adam Hughes cover art for the Wonder Woman Encyclopedia)
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)
ALTHOUGH it means ignoring publicity and distribution costs, I suppose we can say that Ghost Rider’s box office take of $229 million against a production budget of $110 million makes it a moderate success but it was hardly a major earner as Hollywood measures such things. Maybe the subsequent DVD income pushed it into the “let’s think about a sequel” category because something sure as hell did! With Nic Cage reprising his role from the 2007 original (screengrab right), Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is currently shooting in Romania. The film sees Johnny Blaze, hiding out in remote Eastern Europe, recruited by a sect to take on the Devil, who wants to take over his mortal son’s body on the kid’s birthday. The big screen return of Marvel’s demonic flameheaded biker is based on a story by David Goyer. It is being directed and written by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who helmed both Crank movies. They also wrote Jonah Hex, but let’s not hold that against them.
OUTTAKES MORRISON’s mind
THE LIFE and career of Grant Morrison is being put under the microscope in an 80-minute DVD that provides insight into the creative process that produced such idiosyncratic works as Doom Patrol, The Invisibles, and All Star Superman. Directed by Patrick Meaney, Gods and Monsters features an extensive interview with the innovative Scots writer as well as with many of his collaborators and contemporaries, among them Frank Quitely, Warren Ellis, Geoff Johns, Phil Jimenez, Mark Waid, Cameron Stewart, Douglas Rushkoff, Frazer Irving, Jill Thompson and Dan DiDio. Although a Region 2 edition is planned for early 2011, the $19.95 DVD – which goes on sale on October 25 – is currently only available in Region 1 format.
“They set up several pictures over a couple of years and possibly there will be a Hulk movie. There'll probably be a couple more Avengers too, which would be fun,” so stated new Bruce Banner player Mark Ruffalo to Empire Magazine this month, teasing that the Marvel franchise has a lot more to come.
LONE LOGAN and cub
Darren Aronofsky has reportedly been offered the director’s chair on Wolverine 2, rumoured to be set in Japan. The Black Swan and Wrestler director is both the studio and star Hugh Jackman's first choice for the sequel, though rival Warner Bros is trying to tempt him with Tales From the Gangster Squad, a 1940's crime drama.
RED TO BLONDE
Emma Stone has been confirmed as playing Gwen Stacy in the Marc Webb-directed Spider-Man reboot, not Mary Jane Watson as was previously rumoured. Current reports state that MJ won’t be appearing in the film at all. Stone, whose credits include Superbad and Zombieland, is to star opposite Andrew Garfield who replaces Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker.
THE PRODUCERS of WB’s Smallville seem determined to get as many familiar faces from the DCU in episodes before the series ends, with the appearance of Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke, played by Battlestar Galactica ‘s Michael Hogan recently announced. The mercenary joins the growing list of DC characters in the final season including Hawkman, Darkseid, Granny Goodness, Aquaman and Mera, Brainiac 5 and the return of Kara Zor-El, however the return of everyone’s favourite bald evil mastermind Lex Luthor is still up in the air...
M A G A Z I N E
Your best source for comicbook news, interviews, features and reviews, whatever your reality. First 52-page issue available in all good comic shops November 2010, priced ÂŁ2.50.