Saturday, February 03, 2018

GREAT KRYPTON! Why I'm Excited for The Superman Takeover of Brian Michael Bendis

Krypton exploded this week when all-star DC signing and former Marvel maestro, writer Brian Michael Bendis announced he will be taking over both of DC's Superman books post the landmark Action Comics #1,000, creating new characters and a new status quo for not just the cast of The Daily Bugle, but Metropolis itself.

As a guy whose personal email address has been thedanofsteel@... since I was 13, any big Superman changes ricochet around my brain like a speeding bullet. That said, here's why I think Brian is not only the right man for Lois but the one to ensure the super-titles leap even taller buildings than ever before.

1) The Daily Bugle The world's most famous fictional media will undoubtedly become a proper home to investigative journalism under Brian's pen. As a guy who works with media by day, it always gets me when The Daily Planet is treated as a mere romantic backdrop rather than a source of plots, drama and contemporary stories.

The classic Fleischer Superman cartoons of the 40's are my definitive Superman adventures (if you haven't watched them, most are now on YouTube). Heavily based on what role the freedom and reporting of the press played in wartime America, there is no doubt that the role of the press in today's society would be equally as addictive.

In doing so, a revitalised Planet would also finally, and truly define Lois Lane as a reporter and not an appendage. Gotham Central was an award-winning series set on the cast of Gotham's police department. Lois could show Commissioner Gordon what a Pulitzer means and how modern justice amongst the greys of truth can be still be found, especially when it evades conventional channels.

2) A Runaway Locomotive. Right from the start, Brian says two of the "huge bombs" he has planned will drop in the ten-page story he is doing with artist Jim Lee, within Action Comics #1,000. Then before his monthly run continues, he will dovetail into a weekly six-issue miniseries titled Man Of Steel launching May 30, which promises to not reboot the super-verse, but deliver in its final issue the biggest super-changes since Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Artists heavily involved in defining the new Metropolis as a city of tomorrow include Ivan Reis, Evan “Doc” Shaner, Ryan Sook, Kevin Maguire, Adam Hughes, and the incomparable Jason Fabok.

3) José Luis García-López
José is DC's Jack Kirby - it's his artistic take on their library of characters that will eternally define how many fans see their heroes, and as you can see in the banner to this story, no character is as defined by his work than Superman.

From making the spit curl on his forehead work to the way he always drew the cape as if it was a character in itself, José made Superman look like a hero who enjoyed being a super-hero. There were no grimaces. In the first Christopher Reeve Superman movie, Kal-el saves a cat from a tree, defining Superman as the hero who helped those in need - regardless of scale. If it was a crisis to you, it was a crisis to him, and José's Superman gives that feeling. The artist will come out of semi-retirement to work with Brian on a key short story in DC Nation #0 on May 2nd.

4) A New Dark Side. Superman has one of the most underrated yet awesome rogue's galleries in comics. Solaris, Cyborg Superman, Brainiac, Doomsday, Gog, Metallo, Parasite, Bizarro, Lex Luthor, Faora-Ul, Superboy Prime, Manchester Black, Queen Bee - the list is extensive, yet many (directors included) fail to see past Luthor's shiny bald head.

Bendis's mandate on Kal-El to bring in new threats, support cast, heroes and foes will soon restore power to the bright lights of this gallery and put new pieces on the wall, including with a new major foe with ties to Kal's origins. From there the wickedness looks set to spill over into both the epic-focussed Superman title (relaunched from #1 July 11th) and the more Metropolis-defining Action Comics, which continues with #1,001 on July 25th and reaches skyward.

5) An Act of Creation. Not only have DC given Brian a license to let his imagination run rampant through the streets of Metropolis, the Bottled City of Kandor and whatever other DC locations he wishes to touch on or revisit, they are also giving him space to flex his indie comic muscles, backed by the full might of the DC marketing machine.

This partnership will hopefully encourage more fresh ideas into at least one of the big two publishers, and stop creators feeling like they are taking up time on legends for rent, rather than productively contributing to those legends' expansion. Brian, as part of his deal, gets to move all his previous and future creator-owned material such as Powers and Scarlet to DC, and create his own Young Animal/Marvel Knights-ish imprint, offering his vision of new and established DC Characters (fingers crossed here for Dial 'H' For Hero). Good stuff DC!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

SWEET AS: Marvel Comics' Top 5 April 2018 Solicitations

When we Kiwis find something we like, we say it's 'Sweet as'. When I look at all of Marvel Comics April 2018 solicitations, these five comics make the 'Sweet As' grade:

ONE) I wish Marvel would stop returning to old Marvel incrementally, and just do a big month event and get it over with. Blame it on Kang or someone. It's sad to read through the listings of the most famous comic brand on the planet, and the main thing that pauses your pulse is the latest range of True Believer $1 reprints, which in April, feature Thanos's key appearances. These include Infinity Gauntlet #1, Infinity War #1, and Rebirth of Thanos which represents Silver Surfer #34.

2) With Deadpool 2 about to make her a household name, there are no surprises that Domino falls into her own series in April. While I'm surprised the book has writer Gail Simone at the helm, over someone more Ed Brubaker-ish in terms of style, Grant Morrison once opened my eyes to this character's potential in the pages of New X-Men and Gail could easily do the same.

3) Frank Castle would never wear a suit of armour. His war against crime is an arsenal of guns, rope and everyman items - but stick him in armour and you loose that. In The Punisher #223 Frank's War Machine armour finally gets beaten down, and he has to go "old school" to survive. THAT is the Punisher.

4) Rebirth-ish storyline No Surrender concludes in Avengers #690 in April and promises that those left standing will step forward to usher in a new age. But who? Judging from that variant cover on the left, I'd say they have the first member right - or is it Cap's final farewell?

5) Two of the Fantastic Four's greatest foes stand seconds from destroying the multiverse and only The Thing and Human Torch stand between them and victory. So what else is new? The return of the Fantastic Four continues here in Marvel 2-In-One #5.

Monday, January 29, 2018

ABSOLUTE (NO) JUSTICE: Martian Manhunter Rejoins League, Alongside Starro, Starfire, Etrigan and More

I don't know about you, but every time I see Brainiac's tentacle-headed spacecraft, my excitement level soars.

Following the conclusion of DC Metal, the collector of worlds visits earth in said ship once more, warning Superman of a cosmic threat that will need the combined might of new heroes and Earth's greatest villains in order to be defeated. Enter May's four-issue weekly mini-series, Justice League: No Justice.

Written by Scott Snyder (who will also take over the core Justice League title in June), Josh Williamson, and James Tynion IV (who will also pen new League-based spin-off titles after the event) with art from Frances Manapul, No Justice will explore DC Metal's revelation that the possibilities and threats of the new larger DC cosmos dwarf those of the much smaller Multiverse that was previously thought to be all that existed.

With such a galactic scale plot, the Justice League of Aliens is my favourite team out-of-the-gate, with Starfire's long overdue League-ising, the return of Martian Manhunter to JLA status, Superman, Sinestro (who may explain Green Lantern's absence), and the amazing visual that is Starro the Conquerer - comics' most deadly starfish.

The Flash's team looks set to be the brain trust of the four crews revealed so far, with Cyborg, The Atom and Damian Wayne at his side. Luckily Harley Quinn mallets up to balance out the scales.

The medieval-ish League Wonder Woman heads also strikes a formidable pose, with Jason Blood and his demonised alter-ego Etrigan back in League gear - a member I've missed ever since Joe Kelly's WAY underrated JLA run wrapped. Magic masters Dr Fate and Zatanna, along with the daughter of the demon Trigon, Raven filling the other spots.

Keeping your friends close and enimies closer is the theme of Batman's team. With Beast Boy and Bats keeping order over Lobo, Lex Luthor and Deathstroke.

Who will be THE League from June onwards? That remains to be seen. However it looks like DC is showing its flagship team some serious love once more, putting two iconic League traits front and center; large scale earth-shattering events that no hero can truly handle alone, and that core-coolness of the team's satellite era, having the league split up to tackle multiple crises' at once. Looking forward to it!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

SWEET AS: Comics' Other Top 5 April 2018 Solicitations

When we Kiwis find something we like, we say it's 'Sweet as'. When I look at all the April 2018 solicitations for publishers outside the 'Big Two', these five comics make the 'Sweet As' grade:

Brian Wood has revamped Spawn, turned heads with DMZ and now launches ROBOCOP: CITIZENS ARREST #1 for BOOM! Studios in April, along with artist Jorge Coelho! Corporations have taken over. Justice is crowdsourced and all citizens are encouraged—and rewarded—to spy on their neighbours. The only authority on the streets? Robocop.

NINJA-K #6 "The Coalition" -- Part One! Now this is a team! In the face of hunting a defective agent, Ninjak finds The Ninja Programme's own former sensei, the Jonin, has assembled a team that includes the Dying One, Kostiy the Deathless, Linton March, and The United's Ultimo -- so he decides to create one of his own. Enter Livewire, the underused Punk Mambo, Dr. Mirage, and the massive GIN-GR! Now there's a team line-up I want to read! (Valiant)

Outside of Tom King, Steve Orlando is a writer whose work I instantly flock to given the amazing job he did on Midnighter. In April, his latest series for Image Comics, CRUDE launches with a bone-crunching #1. Killers who once feared Piotr Petrovich, have just sent him his son—in a body bag. Piotr now journeys across Russia to learn what type of man his son really was, while hunting the bastards who killed him.

Folks who miss Wildstorm as a publisher can often forget the amazing imprints the label had when they are looking in the rear-vision mirror, Cliffhanger being one of them. Well, in April, IDW is offering J. SCOTT CAMPBELL'S DANGER GIRL: 20TH ANNIVERSARY special (feeling old yet?)! See the pencils of the preview story and the first issue of the iconic Cliffhanger title for the very first time, as well as the inked and coloured versions in one book. 88 pages.

Mega-talented artist Karl Kerschl gets to step into the world of creator-owned fantasy and awesomeness with ISOLA #1 from Image Comics in April. When the possessed captain of the Royal Guard flees with the Queen of Maar, Captain Rook’s only hope of saving the kingdom from impending war lies on the mythological Isola, land of the dead.