Comics 411 07.09.14: Stan Lee Edition
Posted by Steve Gustafson on 07.09.2014
News and thoughts on a new Captain America taking over, Lobo getting his own series, a creative shakeup for Catwoman and what is Stan Lee's legacy? Plus reviews of Deadpool vs X-Force, Justice League: Trinity War and more!
Welcome back to the Comics 411! My name is Steve Gustafson and this is a corner of 411mania reserved for those interested in talking comics! As always, I want to thank everyone who took a few minutes to read and comment last week. Check out my Hollywood gossip (and anything else!) Hollywood 5 & 1 and my weekend movie recap The Big Screen Bulletin!
Click and read my interview with Playboy'sMiss June, Jessica Ashley! While you're at it, check out my interview with Playboy's 2014 Playmate of the Year, Kennedy Summers!
A very cool but very fake Star Wars: Episode VII video.
COVER VS COVER!
Last week we had a couple of Daredevil covers and I asked which one was cooler? Here's what you said:
"Go get im" 61.27%
Born Again 38.73%
This week we have two random covers that I like. The first is a pretty nifty New Defenders cover and the second is one from Astro City. Which would you buy, just from the cover?
Last week the poll centered on Defunct Marvel/DC Publishing Lines! Which one did you miss the most?
Marvel Knights winning this was a real reflection on the demographic reading. I consider that a good thing. We're always talking about bringing new, young fans to the industry and these polls show that it's happening. Solid voting across the board so let's see what you all said:
Gold Any Ranger: "Star Comics. So many great series. Spider-Ham, Masters of the Universe, Madballs, Droids, Ewoks, Visionaries, Defenders of the Earth, Thundercats, Silverhawks, Inhumanoids."
7poundbag_Com: "The amount of Advertising that went on for the New Universe was just amazing. They should have done more outside advertising and less internal.
My Favorite was DP7, I did love the fact that it was a normal world until "the White Event" No mutants, no Lab Accidents, just random people going about their business- then boom, Super Powered."
W. Ryne Hall: "I voted for IMPACT! because I really like the old MLJ superheroes. Epic would be my second pick, but really only for one book, which you didn't even mention-Groo the Wanderer, aka the best comedy book ever."
Comic Collector: "X-Men 2099 is one of my favorites. I also enjoyed majority of the Ultraverse comics."
Donald R. Maust: "I had to vote for Ultraverse, because I thought Mantra was awesome. Otherwise I'd have gone with Helix, because Spider Jerusalem; no explanation needed."
Benjamin J: "If you haven't heard this already, you might be interested to know that Spider-Man 2099 is coming back in a brand new ongoing series this month (in a week or two, in fact, I believe) picking up from where we last saw Miguel O'Hara at the end of Superior Spider-Man, with the great Peter David returning as writer."
El Atomico: "The first thing I thought of was Marvel's New Universe. I initially liked "Kickers, inc", but despite some cool ideas, it never really got going. Thanks for the flashback!"
CyberVenom: "Man! I can't believe I forgot to comment on last weeks awesome sauce! I love this topic!
Nathan Justice: "Not on the list but piranha was the best. This is the line that put out the bizzare and amazing Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children back in the early 90s. I still got them. Plus Dan Sweetman's artwork was on the first Mr. Bungle Album."
Thanks again. This week I present a more serious subject matter. I turn the attention away from the comic book characters and to the creators. Actually, just one guy in particular. This week we look at...
Stan Lee's Legacy
When it comes to Stan Lee, you'll get a lot of different opinions. Many consider him the architect of Marvel. Others say he's an egotist who stole credit for some of the most popular comic book characters of all time. He's an ambassador who is heavily involved in comic book history and while his achievements can't be denied, I'm sure fans of his collaborators like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko would have a very specific idea of who Stan Lee is. I've heard stories that said Jack Kirby would write dialogue in the margins and Lee would incorporate those scribbles into his script. I also read that at the time of Amazing Spider-Man #33, Lee and Ditko weren't speaking to each other and for years they "collaborated" that way. Lee himself confirmed that during an interview in 1965. He even said, "I guess I'll leave him alone until sales start to slip,"
Here's a quick history lesson. Back in the early days, Marvel books listed writer, artist, inker and letterer. In many of the books, the writers's name was larger than the others, gaining more attention. Creators were rarely credited (some never were) but Lee made sure his name was front and center on page one. From the books to the letter pages, readers at the time thought Stan was by himself in the office, creating these fantastic new worlds. Lee had the personality and for years, others worked in the shadows, growing frustrated. I'm sure seeing "Stan Lee Presents" leading off the stories didn't help matters. By the way, "Stan Lee Presents" started off storylines for over 40 years. It's still burned into the minds of Marvel Zombies everywhere.
Where does that leave us? What are your thoughts on Stan Lee? Misunderstood hero or opportunist who stole the spotlight and acted surprised at the backlash?
PERSONALLY, I feel Stan Lee's contributions to the first years of Marvel can't be understated. Hidden collaborations of not, his fingers were in a lot of pots. Since that time, he's played more of a lovable grandpa role. He's given numerous quirky interviews, taken cameo roles in Marvel movies, and even created some...projects.
Yes, some of you may remember Ravage 2099, Stripperella, and the Just Imagine Stan Lee Creating The DC Universe books.Yikes. The less said about those the better.
Vote and comment below.
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Deadpool vs X-Force
Cable and Deadpool have a complicated history: Friend and foe, teammate and enemy. This series strips away all the history to take us back to the beginning. Cable and the New Mutants have just begun their journey toward becoming X-Force and Deadpool is, well, Deadpool (albeit a more vicious one). Duane Swierczynski and Co. provide a lighthearted and fun tale that predates New Mutants 98, the introduction of Deadpool to the Marvel U.
This issue begins quickly with finding Deadpool in the midst of the Revolutionary War. What's Wade Wilson's ultimate goal? No one seems to know just yet, but Cable and his allies, who aren't officially called X-Force yet, are following him through the timestream to stop him. Swierczynski obviously understands Deadpool. Seeing as we're jumping back to the early '90s he has the pleasure of writing Deadpool as a formidable villain, not the watered-down version we see today.
The artwork supplied by Pepe Larraz is impressive. The action sequences read like an action movie and help the story move quickly. Colorist Nolan Woodward deserves a pat on the back as well.
I can't really recommend this issue but I don't condemn it either. I just don't know why it exists. Was anyone looking for this story? It doesn't seem to add anything to the existing dynamic and while it was a fun read I don't see myself picking up any future issues.
Trinity War is the crossover miniseries that led to the Forever Evil event series that wrapped up in May. It includes issues of Justice League, Justice League of America, Justice League Dark, Trinity of Sin: Pandora, Constantine, and Trinity of Sin: the Phantom Stranger. (Yeah that sounds like a lot, but it only ran for three months so it's not as bad as it looks.) The collection edition has all of these so if you're looking to read up it's the better option than trying to find the individual issues or the trades for each separate series. The miniseries does get somewhat of a bad rap because it lead immediately into a big Event series, but after re-reading it over the past week It's very good on it's own. There are a lot of important details that were easy to miss the first time around, especially the images of Earth 2 that were displayed in a few panels that serve as special deeply ingrained clues as to what Pandora's Box really was.
Speaking of Pandora's Box, that's the device that is center point of the story. We open up thousands of years ago when Pandora of Greek mythological fame and two men are being punished by the keepers of Magic. Pandora is sentenced to an eternity of seeing the damage she unleashed upon the Earth by opening what would become known as Pandora's Box. The two men go on to become the Question and the Phantom Stranger, two well known characters from DC Comic Lore. Pandora spends the centuries she's walking the Earth witnessing the evil she set free and trying to learn how to vanquish it; during this time she encounters another immortal DC icon, Vandal Savage. As we fast forward to the present day Pandora is breaking into an ARGUS facility to reclaim the box so that she can trap the evil she unleashed back inside. She takes the box and goes looking for the person who can re-open for it for her. Needing either the purest or darkest heart on Earth, she opts for the former and seeks out Superman.
What goes on from this point forward is a roller coaster ride. She finds Superman and the Justice League, which in turn draws in the Justice League of America (in New 52 DC, the JLA is a separate team created by the government to counteract and ultimately take down the original League). The Box proves to be a corrupting force, causing all of the heroes to fight one another to claim it for themselves. Wonder Woman, seeking to know where the box came from, seeks out the Justice League Dark, a third team that was brought together to deal with threats of a Magical or Supernatural nature. Throughout the series there are various ad hoc alliances formed across members of each team, all leading up to a three way knock down drag out battle royal over the box. It's there that the big reveal about what the box really is comes, and how it was being used to manipulate the three Leagues to get them all in one place for the big setup. As the series closes, we get our first glimpse at the Crime Syndicate as they arrive on Earth to lay waste to it and it's heroes.
Now that Forever Evil has come and gone, this series looks a lot better in retrospect. You can see how the first two years of the New 52 Universe was all geared towards this one moment and how the wheels were turning with the three Leagues and the Secret Society, a evil faction that was looking like the heavies for the JLA but was actually a diversion to keep focus away from the coming Crime Syndicate and the carnage they had in store.
Captain America. Part One. White this story doesn't cover straight comic book news, it's making quite an impact on social media and thought it was important to cover. In last week's issue of Captain America #22, two characters were shown having a few glasses of wine and waking up in bed the next morning wondering what happened.
The characters in question? Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon, and Jet Black, aka Jet Zola, the daughter of Arnim Zola.
What was all the fuss about? Seems Jet runs around dressed like Leeloo from The Fifth Element and was raised in an alien dimension. Oh, and a blogger saw it as the Falcon banging a 14 year old and created a #firerickrememnder hashtag to get Rick Remender thrown off the book that spread across the internet.
OK, Sam and Jet are seen waking up after presumably having sex together the night before and Sam is concerned because "workplace romance" is frowned upon. That much is true. BACK IT UP to the first page of their exchange and you'll see Jet mention drinking a certain wine on her 23rd birthday in a short flashback to the events the night before. With that being clear, how did this spin so far out of control?
Please keep the comments respectful below.
Captain America. Part Two. If you want to avoid possible spoilers for Captain America, turn away NOW! Over the weekend, Marvel was teasing the image above with "Who will be Marvel comics' NEW #CaptainAmerica? Learn more this Monday on Marvel.com! #4thOfJuly," and we have to wonder who will be taking up the shield now that Steve is down. Under current writer Rick Remender, Cap gets the Super Soldier serum which has kept him alive all of these decades drained out of him in a fight with bad guy the Iron Nail who's also spent the last few months ruining Cap's reputation with the world. With the effects of the serum reversed, Rogers began to deteriorate rapidly, trapping him in the body of an old man. With both the Red Skull and Arnim Zola out there causing trouble again, who will be the new Cap?
Speaking with Comic Book Resources, Remender confirmed that Rogers would no longer be in the field as Captain America, leaving the gig open to another character. The book's next arc, "The Tomorrow Soldier," will start introducing long-term plots and plans by Skull and Zola while also heavily featuring Jet Black and Falcon – although Remender warns that who you think might be the new Captain could all be clever misdirection:
"Readers will find out the answer to that question in issue #25. We're throwing some misdirects out there so people think they know who it is, but by the time you get to issue #23 you'll have a good guess of who the top three contenders are for this spot. The way we actually end up solving the problem, though, I hope is unexpected and is something that keeps people excited. For me it breathes new life into the book and is an entirely different angle that I'm incredibly excited to be writing. So hopefully people will enjoy it."
But didn't Marvel already tell us the answer? At the end of May 2014, Marvel released the cover to Avengers #35, which shows the Avengers lineup of the "8 months from now" world of "Time Runs Out." The issue, intended to be a skip-ahead that is then built up to in the successive issues, fairly clearly shows the old man Steve Rogers that is now in Captain America, and he's standing next to the new Captain America. That new Cap has on Falcon's goggles, has Falcon's haircut, and appears to have dark skin, all along with a Captain America costume and shield.
Lobo! DC Comics is launching a new ongoing Lobo series from October, from Cullen Bunn and Reilly Brown. It will star the character known as the real Lobo or, as some call him, Twilight Lobo. The original Lobo will appear on and off, though not as much as originally planned.
Bunn said, "One of my earliest pitches for the series featured both Lobos in an odd couple/buddy cop misadventure across the universe. It was sort of a "Simon & Simon" story featuring the Lobo brothers. In the end, that didn't fly. And as much fun as I think that might have been, it's probably for the best." Brown added, "It was fun drawing both of them, and seeing the differences in how they behave. I hope there are more opportunities to draw Faux-bo in the future."
Any fans of this "new" Lobo out there?
Klarion and Catwoman! There's big things coming to the DC universe. io9 revealed that Catwoman writer Ann Nocenti will helm a new comic starring Klarion the Witch Boy in October and author/io9's own Genevieve Valentine will take over Catwoman. io9 spoke to both and here are the highlights:
On Klarion's New 52 debut: Nocenti: "The Klarion series is a mix of sci-fi, horror and mysticism. Trevor McCarthy is a fabulous artist and he's bringing a wild, inventive style to the book. The new Klarion series explores the dynamic: Is technology saving or destroying the planet? In the 1950s and 60s, people feared nuclear power. Film, art and comics reflected that fear with radioactive mutants and monsters. What do we fear now? We all love and need our tech. New wearable and even implant tech is both wonderful and frightening. Can you really bio-hack into someone else's body? The nanobots that you can swallow to track your health, or implant near your spinal column to regulate your body's systems, have the potential to help people with crippling disease. But what other doors does this open? Would you swallow one? With genetically modified seeds and factory farming, "You are what you eat" is a more visceral concern than ever. There are cars that can drive themselves. What will that be like? This stuff creates a sense of excitement and also dread. We're all in this petri dish together. We ARE the experiment. There is a mystical dimension to this fear that we're playing with in the Klarion series. Trevor and I are developing a cast of new young witches and wizards, some learn the pagan ways and try to protect the planet; others fall under the spell of the new Tech-Wizards."
On Klarion's plans: Nocenti: "Klarion is at a crossroads in time and space. He chooses to go to Gotham, almost on a whim. So the story opens like a Western: a stranger comes to town. How is that going to change the town? Klarion begins to practice, rather than just toy with, the mystic arts, and to seek out mentors and master spells. As Klarion "wakes up," other sorcerers and techno wizards begin to notice – and attack – him.
There are two "schools" of thought that prey on young witches and wizards. Coal and the Necrots believe in the power of technology. Piper nd Noah believe in the pagan power of the planet. Coal has a heavy metal club, The Necropolitan, and techo and metal music are part of his power. There will be intense battles between these wizards, and all the characters have secrets. Deep secrets. Coal is a talented novice of Techno-Wizardry. He lives in a computer graveyard, a techno breeding ground. Coal needs technology to thrive and be powerful, just as Klarion needs the planet to be healthy in order for him to draw on his pagan powers. Coal and Klarion are in a battle for the health (or death) of the planet.
Klarion's relationship with his "familiar," his monster cat Teekl, and his power to control strange critters, is a big part of the series, an aspect of his powers that he becomes obsessed with. And eventually you'll see DC's great super-natural characters, like Spectre, The Demon, Zantana and others."
On what's in store for Selina in Catwoman: Valentine: "After the dust settles in Batman Eternal, Selina Kyle has discovered she's part of a legacy she never knew before, and heir to the family business. She decides to accept the position, both because she sees a chance to restore a ruined Gotham and because, deep down, Selina's always played power games against herself. In this arc, she'll be coming face to face with what she's willing to do to keep her power, on a scale that could shake the whole city."
AXIS! Marvel's Axis is canceled. Yes, retailer orders for Axis #1 for September have been cancelled by Marvel, the comic will now be renamed as Avengers & X-Men Axis #1 and resolicited in August's catalogue, for October shipping.
The title was on the original promo images. But now it's on the actual order form for readers and retailers who can be left in no doubt that this comic will have both Avengers and X-Men in it, and so please can people order these titles like they didAvengers Vs. X-Men and not, say, Inhumanity.