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Review: Batman #50 is a Beautiful, Tragic Romance

If you thought that Batman and Catwoman were going to have a happy wedding with the usual supervillain attack to keep things interesting, then you’re pretty naive. On that confrontational, Batman #50 is a climactic moment in Tom King’s run on Batman, and Mikel Janin and June Chung are onboard as well to show all the romance, heartbreak, and kicking Kite-Man on the face. But the real highlight of this issue is the unleashing of some of the best living Batman and Catwoman artists to tell the love story of Bat and Cat all framed in love letters to each other. Beginning with the great Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez showing them swaddled together in a loving embrace and concluding in a pure negative space, movie poster style page from upcoming Batman artist Lee weeks, this is a wonderful encapsulation of Batman and Catwoman’s relationship done in Tom King’s signature tone poem way.

The letters that Batman and Catwoman write to each other in Batman #50 are a form of psychological probing, which makes sense because Batman is the World’s Greatest Detective and Catwoman is a skilled thief and con woman. They read people basically for a living, but are vulnerable and have huge blind spots. Especially Batman. King writes some beautiful lines where Batman and Catwoman both say that each other’s eyes is what led to their initial attraction. Batman was struck by how complex Catwoman’s eyes were, and that she could be more than a one-off animal themed villain while Catwoman realized how simple and childlike Batman’s were: pure blue. These thoughts come during Tim Sale and Paul Pope’s pages showing Catwoman in her 1990s purple costume pursuing and aggressively flirting with Batman like he’s an innocent boy and not a skilled crime fighter drawn in heroic, stealthy poses by Neal Adams and Lee Bermejo. He’s lost control and maybe has a chance to find happiness like the totally adorable page drawn by Amanda Conner of Catwoman and Batman enjoying a date at the zoo, or this issue’s sexiest moment where Mister Miracle’s Mitch Gerads shows them under a cape blanket with all the accoutrements of crime and crime fighting strewn about. Batman and Catwoman have serious chemistry, which has been boosted by King, Gerads, and Janin’s work on the current series, but are they really marriage material?

One person who shares the idea that getting married would make Batman less miserable and lose his edge is Holly Robinson, Catwoman’s long time friend, who she springs out of Arkham for one night to be her maid of honor/witness. This is a bit of a crazy plot point because the last time she appeared, Holly was fleeing the country as Batman was trying to apprehend her for 237 murders that Catwoman tried to take the fall for. The inclusion of Holly in Batman #50 makes the story a little more twist-filled than a simple case of cold feet (Eat your heart out, X-Men Gold #30), especially the final page that puts a new spin on a famous 1990s Batman storyline. As Selina’s friend, who she saved from child prostitution, Holly has been around Batman since Year One when she stabbed a less than intimidating, fake scar sporting Bruce Wayne partially leading him to choose a costume to strike fear in the heart of criminals. (As a sidenote, it’s pretty epic to see Frank Miller’s lumbering Batman on the page when Catwoman talks about how angry and graceful he was during his early crime fighting days.) But is she a pawn or a mastermind in a larger scheme?

Batman #50 seems to be an inciting incident in a larger Tom King story centered around the breaking of Batman’s heart and not his body. Batman is always surrounded by Gothic elements, like secret passages, large empty mansions, and gargoyles, so adding a doomed romance to the mix makes sense. King and Mikel Janin are working in a larger tradition of Batman getting in the way of Bruce’s happiness, and a couple of DOA romances from other mediums come to my mind. (Vicki Vale from 1989’s Batman, Andrea Beaumont in Mask of the Phantasm, Rachel Dawes in the Nolan trilogy) However, this relationship is different because King has consistently written Batman and Catwoman as equal crime fighting partners and shows this through the symmetry in the composition of their letters (Clayton Cowles’ word bubble placement is impeccable. and even similar poses in the final pinups from Greg Capullo and Weeks. Those two crazy kids had some great, but unfortunately it didn’t work out.

Batman #50 definitely will be a fanbase breaking comic book, and the spoiler-y New York Times article didn’t help matters. However, throughout his run and in homage to Batman and Catwoman’s relationship, Tom King has seeded doubts that the Bat and Cat could settle into a quiet marriage. Bruce is as comfortable with as he is in the tuxedo that Alfred said reminds him of his father. Speaking of Alfred, Mikel Janin crushes a silent sequence where Bruce asks him to be his witness, and all dialogue and narration stops for a four panel hug that segues into aforementioned dreamy page from Mitch Gerads. King and Janin pinpoint these little emotional stingers into the narrative, like Holly complimenting Catwoman’s dress or a symmetrical double page spread where Bat and Cat embrace and kiss one, unfortunately last time. The use of symmetry and formalism in the way Batman #50 is constructed hint at a couple that’s on the same page, but that’s sadly not the reality.

In Batman #50, Tom King, Mikel Janin, June Chung, and a talent group of guest artists craft the ultimate, tragic Batman love story and show the chemistry between Bat and Cat while also showing how their marriage ultimately wouldn’t work out. This definitely isn’t a big, guest star heavy special, but an intimate story of a man, who decides to work out his pain and sorrow dressed as a bat instead of finding love and peace with an enigmatic woman, who dresses like a cat.

Story: Tom King Art: Mikel Janín
Guest  Art: David Finch, Joëlle Jones, Mitch Gerads, Rafael Albuquerque, Neal Adams, Andy Kubert, Becky Cloonan, Ty Templeton, José Luis Garcia-Lopez, Frank Miller, Lee Bermejo, Trish Mulvihill, Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson, Alex Sinclair, Hi-Fi, Tony S. Daniel, Tomeu Morey, Amanda Conner, Paul Mounts, Tim Sale, José Villarrubia, Paul Pope, Clay Mann, Jordie Bellaire, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Greg Capullo, FCO Plascencia, Lee Weeks
Colors: June Chung Letters: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.0 Art: 10 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: DC Nation #0

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got three stories for 25 cents!

DC Nation #0 features Tom King, Clay Mann, Jordie Bellaire, Clayton Cowles, Brittany Holzherr, Jamie S. Rich, Brian Michael Bendis, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Dexter Vines, Alex Sinclair, Josh Reed, Jessica Chen, Mike Cotton, Brian Cunningham, Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, Jorge Jimenez, Alejandro Sanchez, Andworld Design, Andrea Shea, Rebecca Taylor, and Marie Javins.

Get your copy in comic shops today. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology

 

 

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
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Review: Action Comics #1000 Captures Superman’s Inspirational Power

In Action Comics #1000, an all-star team of writers, artists, and colorists try and for the most part succeed at getting to the heart of Superman. Some stories touch on different eras of history from his time in the 1930s as a non-flying, slumlord buster and the Mort Weisinger Silver Age sci-fi kookiness to classic comics like Kingdom Come. Others look at his relationships with his parents, wife/co-worker Lois Lane, and his arch-nemesis Lex Luthor. One story even looks far in the future of the DC Universe while another acts as a semi-controversial prologue to Brian Michael Bendis’ upcoming Man of Steel miniseries and his runs on Action Comics and Superman.

To give each story the attention it needs, I will do a short review of each one and score it at the end of the paragraph. A final aggregated score  will conclude this (hopefully not that long) “80 page giant” review.

Action Comics #1000 opens with one hell of a curtain call from writer/penciler Dan Jurgens, inker Norm Rapmund, and colorist Hi-Fi that acts as a victory lap for Jurgens’ DC Rebirth run on Action Comics and his tireless work turning Superman from the edgy, armor wearing New 52 version to his classic role as a heroic hope bringer and a family man too. The story is simple. Metropolis is holding a Superman celebration day, but Superman doesn’t want their praise and adulation and wants to keep saving the day. However, through a little trickery from Lois and the Justice League, he ends up getting his moment in the sun. Jurgens’ writing cuts to the core of Superman and his positivity with a small-time Metropolis criminal named Benning talking about how he got him a job after prison so he wouldn’t keep relapsing and running with different supervillains. His art is a little old school, but that’s not a bad thing, and Rapmund’s inking helps make the crowd shots sharp in a story that shows Superman’s bond with the citizens of Metropolis and the superhero community while not neglecting the family elements that have been a big part of the Rebirth era of Superman. There really wouldn’t be a superhero genre without him.

Story: 9.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.8

The next story “Neverending Battle” from the Superman creative team of Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Alejandro Sanchez is a tiny bit philosophical, somewhat historical, and definitely epic as a story only done in full page spreads. It’s about Vandal Savage weaponizing Hypertime to trap Superman in his own history so he can’t get back to Jon and Lois to celebrate his birthday. Tomasi’s writing is a little corny at times with adages like “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “History repeats itself”, but Gleason and Sanchez’s glorious visuals and the through-line of Superman consistently overcoming great odds wins out just like Superman over Vandal Savage. The first spreads are the most iconic with Golden Age Era Superman punching out gangsters, stopping locomotives, and throwing tanks around with Tomasi commentating on the simplistic, good vs. evil nature of these early stories. But he and Gleason aren’t afraid to get vulnerable with a poignant homage to the scene in The Dark Knight Returns where Superman is weakened after stopping a nuclear explosion that blocks out the sun or a page where he’s trapped in the Phantom Zone. However, despite cunning and powerful enemies and occasionally death itself, nothing will stop Superman from being a hero or spending time with his loved ones on his birthday. Gleason has a strong handle on the moral clarity and goodness behind Superman’s strength and I look forward to his upcoming work as the main Action Comics artist.

Story: 8.5 Art: 10 Overall: 9.3

The third story “An Enemy Within” with a script from Marv Wolfman, Butch Guice and Kurt Schaffenberger inking over recently discovered Curt Swan, and colors by Hi-Fi straddles a thin line between optimism and naivete and definitely falls on the naive side. Superman is too busy fighting Brainiac in Japan so he relies on Maggie Sawyer and the Metropolis PD to take out a mind controlled teacher, who is holding his students hostage. There is an opportunity to address social issues, like school shooting, gun control, police violence, and even homelessness in a scene towards the end, but Wolfman, Swan, and Guice gloss over these issues with a simplistic “humanity is good and will save themselves” mantra and use the mind control plot device to cover their asses. Honestly, your enjoyment of this story will depend on how much you believe in the idea of original sin or your tolerance level for after school specials. Guice’s inks bring an interesting grit to Swan’s usually clean, bright pencils, and honestly, the best part of the story is a solemn Superman pinup at the end inked by the late Schaffenberger.

Story: 4.5 Art: 6.5 Overall: 5.5

Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Olivier Coipel, and Alejandro Sanchez turn in a stoic, 1930s era Superman story about a small time crook named Butch who gets his car beat up when trying to fight Superman. It’s probably the car from the cover of Action Comics #1. Johns and Donner’s take on Superman is a little rougher and little more stern, but he has a solid moral compass and cares for humanity as shown by his empathy towards Butch, who lost his dad in combat during World War I. Coipel’s art is wonderfully rough hewn and is like Norman Rockwell’s work without the sentimentality, and he even plays the “It’s a bird, it’s a plane…” line for sardonic, silent comedy. His Superman commands the page and is someone who you would listen to and definitely take seriously. He doesn’t smile either. But the ending of “The Car” has an earned happiness and is a little spark of light in a cynical world. Johns and Donner really get that heroism is about the little things and not flying the world backwards or time travel shenanigans.

Story: 9.5 Art: 10 Overall: 9.8

Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, and Dave McCaig tell a quiet, yet time spanning story about the relationship between Superman and Lex Luthor, and how Superman chooses to see the good even in his worst enemy. The story starts intense with shadow wreathed art and dark colors from Albuquerque and McCaig as Luthor has assembled some powerful MacGuffins to take out Superman. But he’s actually just star gazing at the Smallville Planetarium? Albuquerque’s art is sharper and sadder after that with a nostalgic orange palette from McCaig as Lex tells Superman that the planetarium was an escape from bad weather and his abusive parents. They seamlessly blend past and present as it’s revealed that a young Clark Kent gave Lex’s space laser a little boost and saved his life. Snyder uses this anecdote/flashback sequence to hold out hope for a time when “maybe” the cycle of hero and villain will be broken between Superman and Lex Luthor as the story fades to black.

Story: 9.6 Art: 9.8 Overall: 9.7

Tom King makes a case for winning back to back Eisners for Best Short Story in his, Clay Mann, and Jordie Bellaire’s contribution to Action #1000, “Of Tomorrow”. It’s a tone poem about Superman’s last day on Earth as he says goodbye to Ma and Pa Kent one last time as the Earth is engulfed in the sun with flames and winds that are reminiscent of the last days of Krypton. King writes Superman as an old man wrestling with his past and legacy, wishing he could save more people, and being supremely proud of his wife and son. And it gets deep at the end when he reflects on his father’s blend of science and faith. Mann captures each tiny, beautiful moment in his artwork as he makes art with his strength, tears, and freeze breath: a frozen statuette of Jonathan and Martha Kent like the one of Jor-El and Lara-El in the Fortress of Solitude. Bellaire goes for Earth tones in her colors as Superman immerses himself in his adopted planet before flying off forever. He loves his parents, he loves Earth, but he realizes that all planets die and all story ends. (Except for his comic book for now.)

Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10

Two veteran comics creators Louise Simonson and Jerry Ordway show they still have a lot in the tank in their “Five Minutes” story with colorist Dave McCaig that expertly intertwines Superman’s life as a superhero and Clark Kent’s life as a journalist in five minutes. Simonson’s narration shows that both Clark and Superman’s “powers” come in handy in different situation as Superman is able to dart from a train accident to a hold up and finally to save the city from an asteroid just like Clark is able to write a story and get it in under deadline. It’s a quick, zippy read with a lot of heart and a kind of cheesy “twist” ending, but Simonson and Ordway show how much passion Superman/Clark Kent has for both saving people and reporting. He is precise, efficient, and knows when to fly to next crisis just like a writer juggling different projects. Plus there’s a Bibbo Bibbowski cameo, which will be a treat for Superman fans of the 80s and 90s.

Story: 8.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.3

Paul Dini, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Kevin Nowlan, and Trish Mulvihill turn in a cheeky homage to Superman’s history, Garcia-Lopez’s ability to skillfully render almost every DC Comics hero and villain, and most of all, Mr. Mxyzptlk. Mxyzptlk has the ability to wipe out Superman from the existence in the blink of an eye, but he’s more of a prankster than a coldblooded villain and enjoys toying with him instead. Dini, Garcia-Lopez, and Nowlan also provide a little meta-commentary on how stories involving superheroes in comics never seem to end even after they’re killed off or have passed their mantle to sidekicks or legacy heroes. Probably, because they’re too much fun. This story’s kryptonite is Dini indulging his sleazy side towards the end, but the energy and humanity of Garcia-Lopez’s figures and Mulvihill’s heroic colors more than make up for it.

Story: 7.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.0

In a much darker story than the previous one, “Faster than a Speeding Bullet” happens in a very short span of time as Superman tries to stop a domestic abuser from shooting his girlfriend, Lila, in the head. Artist John Cassaday tells the story in a series of freeze frames as you can see the strain of Superman flying to stop the bullet, and the red, yellow, and blue of Laura Martin’s colors as his chances increase. Brad Meltzer starts incredibly dark in his script with Superman running calculations in his head that he won’t be able to save Lila and ends with Superman admitting that he is inspired by humanity as much as they are inspired by him. “Faster than a Speeding Bullet” is a taut, mini-thriller that also captures Superman’s essence and the strength of his and the people he inspire’s resolves.

Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5

The final story in Action Comics #1000 is Brian Michael Bendis’ DC debut with Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair doing the art. Lee and Williams definitely put the “action” in Action Comics, and most of the story is a third act of Man of Steel fight sequence with collateral damage galore as new giant sword wielding alien conqueror villain Rogol Zaar crashes all over Metropolis and tries to kill the last two Kryptonians on Earth. Yes, Supergirl has a cameo in this comic and is there to get her ass kicked as much as Superman. Bendis’ writing is quippy as ever and doesn’t really pair well with the disaster movie feel of Lee and Williams’ art. He seems to be going for an “Avengers Disassembled” type of throughline in his approach to Superman by physically breaking him down and also taking shots at his past. Yes, the final page of Action Comics #1000 is a huge retcon for Superman’s character, and hopefully, Bendis has the reasoning and great story to back it up, or Rogol Zaar might just be a Mongul knock-off with a cooler sword.

Story: 6.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.0

 

Story: Dan Jurgens, Peter Tomasi, Marv Wolfman, Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Scott Snyder, Tom King, Louise Simonson, Paul Dini, Brad Meltzer, Brian Michael Bendis  Art: Dan Jurgens with Norm Rapmund, Patrick Gleason, Curt Swan with Butch Guice and Kurt Schaffenberger, Olivier Coipel, Rafael Albuquerque, Clay Mann, Jerry Ordway, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez with Kevin Nowlan, John Cassaday, Jim Lee with Scott Williams  Colors:  Hi-Fi, Alejandro Sanchez, Dave McCaig, Jordie Bellaire, Trish Mulvihill, Laura Martin, Alex Sinclair
Story: 8.2 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

C2E2 2018: The Action Comics #1000 Panel

At C2E2 this past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Action Comics #1000 panel, which had a lot of information about that specific issue as well as reveals of upcoming Superman artwork and stories, mostly involving new DC Comics writer Brian Michael Bendis. Along the way, the talented group of creators on the panel talked about their connection to Superman while teasing their stories, and some surprise swag was given out at the end…

It’s seriously insane that a monthly comic book has hit four digits in issue numbers and has basically been published since 1938. Some of DC’s best creators convened at the Action Comics #1000 panel to talk about their work on upcoming Superman titles, their relationship to the iconic hero, and most importantly, should his costume have underwear on the outside, or not? The panel included writer Brian Michael Bendis (Alias), who is making his DC Comics debut on Action Comics #1000, writer/artist Patrick Gleason (Superman), writer Tom King (Batman), artist Clay Mann (Batman), artist Jill Thompson (Beasts of Burden), and artist Philip Tan (Suicide Squad: Rebirth).

It kicked off with some information about the 80 page celebration that is Action Comics #1000 as well as a 384 page hardcover book called 80 Years of Superman with all kinds of essays, tributes, stories, and art that looked perfect for a coffee table along with an unpublished story by Jerry Siegel and artists from Joe Shuster’s studio. Continuing with the unpublished theme, Bendis reminded the moderator that Action Comics #1000 has some unpublished art by legendary Superman artist Curt Swan that Marv Wolfman scripted over and geeked out about it. He showed a real passion for being involved with Superman and DC Comics on the panel.

After saying he had almost no time off between doing his last Marvel book, Invincible Iron Man #600, and his first DC book so he could jump in on Action Comics #1000, Brian Michael Bendis set up the first reveal of the panel. It was four pages of lettered Jim Lee art as well as his and Bendis’ first original DC creation, the mysterious villain Rogol Zaar. (There was a snarky joke about red trunks in there too.) Bendis said that the villain will be connected to a secret from Superman’s past. The secret will be revealed in Action Comics #1000 and then expanded upon in the weekly Man of Steel miniseries. He then told Rogol’s secret origin, which was connected to his hospitalization for a MRSA infection in late 2017. Dr. Rogol was a no-nonsense doctor in the hospital, who helped him get better so he decided to name his first big DC villain after her. When Bendis told Dr. Rogel this, she nodded like he was crazy. The next day, she had Googled him and brought out an old Marc Silvestri drawing and said she should look like a bloodstained, bikini wearing barbarian woman. It’s safe to say she wasn’t impressed with Jim Lee’s final design. In his first DC story, Bendis made sure to “write big” for Jim Lee and was influenced by some of his collaborations with Geoff Johns and Scott Snyder on Justice League and Superman Unchained respectively in the salad days of the New 52.

The topic turned to May 2’s DC Nation #0, which is coming out the same week as Free Comic Book Day, but is on sale for $0.25 so the comic could feature more story pages. The book has previews of Tom King’s upcoming work on Batman and Scott Snyder’s upcoming work on No Justice as well as a brand new Superman story by Bendis and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Working with the 70 year old Garcia-Lopez was on Bendis’ bucket list, and he came out of retirement to deliver some beautiful pages featuring group shots of the Daily Planet bullpen reacting to Superman. Also, apparently he’s a super nice guy and still lives for collaborating on comic book stories.

About a month after DC Nation, The Man of Steel #1 will be released with Brian Michael Bendis writing and Ivan Reis and Joe Prado on artwork. In each issue of this weekly miniseries, Bendis is collaborating with a new artist he’s never worked with before except Kevin Maguire and diving feet first into the DC Universe. Bendis talked about how he wanted to make Metropolis a lived-in setting where each nook and cranny has its own story much like Gotham and also how he wants to show why Clark Kent became a reporter to “tell the truth Superman can’t”. He pointed out that unlike his powers and coming to Earth as an infant, becoming a reporter was his choice. Plus there’s going to be a big space conspiracy story featuring various alien races, including the Guardians of the Universe, and its logo was based off of John Byrne’s Man of Steel even if the stories aren’t really similar.

The Man of Steel leads into Action Comics #1001, which will be written by Bendis and drawn by Patrick Gleason, who previously was the co-writer with Peter Tomasi and occasional artist on Superman. Gleason says that Action #1000 is the celebration/jam issue while the real story starts in issue 1001. He talks about how Superman is an all-out superhero book while Action Comics will focus on the Clark/Superman dichotomy and also build up Metropolis and the Daily Planet. He then proved that he is one of the harder working creators in comics and said that he had to draw 15 pages of Action Comics #1000 while also doing full interiors on Superman #45, his farewell to the title. Luckily, all 15 pages of his Action Comics #1000 story “The Neverending Battle” were splashes and was a love letter to Superman stories across time. One of them featured the old Superman “S”, which his six year old son said was incorrect. His son ended up appearing on a page where Superman stops a train, and all four of his kids helped ink a page with Superman fighting Nazis in World War II with Sgt. Rock.

The moderator turned the focus to Tom King and Clay Mann’s five page Action Comics #1000 story, which is already available online. It is set way in the future, fairly depressing, and King began with a little joke about how Batman was better than Superman. King said that he when was he younger that he thought Superman was a fairly “generic” hero. However, through his grandmother, who is from Nebraska and his wife, who is from Chicago, he began to see him as an embodiment of Midwestern values aka focusing on the solution, not just the problem. Then, artist Clay Mann got a nice ovation from the audience for his art skills and talked about King giving him reference material of Mars to draw this future Earth. He also joked about Superman’s tears not evaporating in the sun, which severely hurt Tom King’s “scientific” credentials. King’s explanation was “super tears”, which led to Bendis telling a story about how he wrote an angry letter to John Byrne while he was a comic book store clerk about how Superman shaves with a mirror and heat vision and ended up getting roasted by Byrne in the letters page of Next Men #8. The ghost of John Byrne definitely seemed to be haunting this panel.

Next, Jill Thompson teased some of her art for the upcoming Action Comics Special story with Mark Russellwhich is about Clark Kent roasting Lex Luthor at the White House Correspondents Dinner. It looks super hilarious, and various members of the Justice League are there in dressier versions of their costumes. The wrestler Alex Chamberlain posed for her art. Then, the moderator asked her and the panel who their favorite Superman artists were. Thompson said she liked Steve Rude, especially his work with Dave Gibbon on World’s Finest, where he gave Metropolis and Gotham two distinct looks. Philip Tan’s definitive artist was Alex Ross on Kingdom Come and Mann’s were the aforementioned Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Jim Lee, Dan Jurgens, and John Byrne. King picked Byrne and Curt Swan because “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” is his favorite Superman story. Patrick Gleason said he liked the Superfriends and Bruce Timm Superman cartoons before getting into comics, but his favorite artists were Jurgens and Ross. Bendis closed by giving a shout out to the jam issue (He loves those.) Action Comics #400, which featured Steve Ditko, Jim Steranko, Moebius, and more’s take on Superman. And they all commiserated over the difficulty of drawing the Superman “S”.

Towards the end of the panel, Brian Michael Bendis talked about how what a solid foundation Dan Jurgens, Peter Tomasi, and Patrick Gleason left him on the Superman titles as they went from having two Supermen to just one hopeful, optimistic Superman even with some super crazy stories like the Boyzarro and Rozarro starring Superman #45, which is basically a Bizarro-verse version of the DC Rebirth one-shot. Bendis says the ideal is taking over a struggling book, like Frank Miller on Daredevil, because you have creative freedom, but it’s a tougher challenge to take over a book that has hit a creative peak like Superman.

Bendis said that his take on Superman wouldn’t be a reboot and that he had a seven page manifesto of Superman is relatable to him, especially as a father. (Of course, King quipped about Batman being more relatable.) Plus there is a lot of adoption in his family. He retold a story where as a struggling artist in Cleveland, he took on a gig to do art for a Superman parade where he was paid for Superman merchandise. Siegel and Shuster cancelled so Stan Lee of all people was the guest of honor and called him by name, but it was really because he was wearing a nametag. However, this parade gave him to the opportunity to talk with many comic creators about his career, including George Perez, who gave him 20 minutes of solid advice, including to focus on one project at a time, which has helped him with all those crazy deadlines and juggling multiple books.

The panel concluded with a roundtable discussion about the return of Superman’s red trunks, and Gleason talking about how he and Jim Lee basically designed around them when they were coming up with Superman’s new costume for DC Rebirth. But the panel seemed pretty pro-trunks, and each member of the panel audience was rewarded with their own pair of Superman trunks (Mostly XL.) with #TheTrunksAreBack embroidered on the back.

Basically, Action Comics #1000 seems like it’s going to be historic and epic, and you should pick it up when it drops on April 18.

Superman’s Red Trunks Return in Action Comics #1000

The countdown as on as the momentous Action Comics #1000 draws nearer and DC Comics is pulling out all of the stops with a jam-packed, star-studded comic.

The Jim Lee-drawn cover features a new costume that integrates a variety of classic and new elements. One thing that’s immediately noticeable is the return of the Man of Steel’s iconic red trunks which have been missing since DC’s 2011 New 52 reboot. Since Rebirth, DC has been slowly moving the “new” look to the old one bit by bit.

Action Comics #1000 will feature multiple stories and creators including the DC debut of Brian Michael Bendis, his first since switching over from Marvel in an exclusive deal. Marv Wolfman will pen a story based on unpublished art by Curt Swan. Richard Donner and Geoff Johns are teaming up with artist Olivier Coipel. Other contributors include Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, Paul Dini with José Luis García-López, Tom King with Clay Mann and Jordie Bellaire; Brad Meltzer with John Cassaday and Laura Martin; Louise Simonson with Jerry Ordway; Scott Snyder with Tim Sale and more to be announced.

Action Comics #1000 hits stores on April 18.

A Swing By East Coast Comic Con 2016

This was my first year at the East Coast Comic Con.  The event, sponsored by Crucial Entertainment at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in New Jersey, attracted a sizable crowd. It was a low key event with a bevy of writers and artists, both old and new. Mark Waid, Ann Nocenti, Cliff Chiang, Mike Zeck, Carl Potts, Simon Bisley, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez,  James O’Barr and many others attended. For the Star Trek fans, Nichelle Nichols, who was cast by Gene Roddenberry as Chief Communications Officer Lt. Uhura, fourth in command of the Starship Enterprise, in the legendary TV series, was present.

Everyone was friendly, and a few artists charged for access and signatures, but most only asked for a donation to charity for an amount of your choice. I managed to get a photo op with Bisley (I suspect the bottle of Knob Creek I gifted him helped smooth things over), and listen on his educational rants– he is entertaining as hell, and a Harley Davidson fan. I got to meet a few new people, and as I attend more and more of these events, catch up with some familiar faces.

Dan Greenfield of 13th Dimension hosted one of  many panels with Mark Waid, the Harvey Award and multiple Eisner Award winning writer, who discussed his career and his contributions to the world of comics, from the groundbreaking Kingdom Come to his ventures in self-publishing. In case anyone out there is wondering, the next issue of Strange Fruit (BOOM! Studios) is due out in two weeks.

Of course there were plenty of cos-players onsite. The best was watching the Marvel and DC players get together for group photos.  I was speaking to one of the players, and learned that there are forums where these folks gather to plan out their get-togethers at comic cons for photo opportunities. Also, for the kids (and some adults) there were lightsaber fighting lessons by New York Jedi.

Check out the slideshow, with pics and some sigs I snagged, below:


 

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Baltimore Welcomes Comics Legends Adams,Garcia-Lopez, Heath, and Simonsons

All-New Captain America Adams VariantCome to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on September 25-27, 2015 for the 16th annual Baltimore Comic-Con. The convention has announced legendary members of the comics creative community: Neal Adams, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Russ Heath, Louise Simonson, and Walter Simonson.

Neal Adams‘ work on such DC Comics characters as Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow redefined an era of comics, bringing a photorealistic feel to the pages of their respective books. In the late-’60s, while freelancing for DC Comics, Adams also began working at Marvel Comics on X-Men with Roy Thomas. He continued to work for DC and Marvel throughout the late-’60s and ’70s, working on The Avengers, Detective Comics, and Green Lantern/Green Arrow. More recently, Adams worked on the 7-issue second volume of Batman: Odyssey for DC Comics, handled art duties on Marvel Comics’ First X-Men, and can be seen on variant covers from Marvel’s All-New Captain America.

Batman 66 Lost EpisodeOriginally hailing from Spain, artist extraordinaire Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez has spent the vast majority of his illustrious career providing art at DC Comics. He has worked on characters large and small, ensemble casts and individual characters, and has received praise from his writers and editors alike. Some of his noteworthy work includes Jonah Hex, DC Comics Presents, New Teen Titans, Road to Perdition, Twilight, and Wednesday Comics. You can find recent work from Garcia-Lopez on All-Star Western, the Adventures of Superman: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez hardcover, Batman ’66: The Lost Episode, and covers of Justice League: Gods and Monsters.

Russ Heath‘s storied career began when he was still in high school, freelancing as a penciller and inker on Captain Aero Comics from Holyoke publishing in the 1940s. After his time in the Air Force in WWII, Heath found work as a staffer at Timely Comics where he worked on many westerns, like Wild Western, All Western Winners, and Black Rider. His work expanded throughout the wide range of genres offered by Timely, including the war comics for which he became reputed. He went onto work for other publishers, like EC Comics (Frontline Combat), St. John Publications (3-D Comics), and DC Comics (Our Army at War, G.I. Combat, and Star-Spangled War Stories). Heath was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2009, and has received the National Cartoonists Society’s Milton Caniff Award in 2014.

GI CombatLouise Simonson has, like her husband Walter, contributed significantly to the comic book industry. “Weezie”, as she is known, began her comics career as an editor at Warren Publishing before leaving for Marvel to edit titles including X-Men, New Mutants, and Star Wars. Departing the editorial role in favor of writing, Weezie has contributed to storylines in Marvel’s Marvel Team-Up, Web of Spider-Man, and Red Sonja, and was responsible for the introduction of Apocalypse in X-Factor as well as the launch of Power Pack. At DC Comics, she worked on Superman: The Man of Steel and The Adventures of Superman. She has lately been writing for DC Comics’ Convergence: Superman – The Man of Steel.

Walter Simonson has made vast contributions to comics publishing, as a writer, an artist, and even in founding publishing imprints. He was recognized in 2012 at the Harvey Awards in Special Award for Excellence in Production/Presentation and Best Domestic Reprint Project for Walt Simonson’s The Mighty Thor, Artist’s Edition from IDW, and in 2013 for Alien: The Illustrated Story from Titan Books for Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work. He also received the Hero Initiative Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010 at the Harvey Awards. Walt’s career began in the 1970s at DC Comics, where he worked on titles such as Weird War Tales, Manhunter, Metal Men, Orion, Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, Vigilante, and Hercules Unbound. Over at Marvel Comics, Simonson has had numerous noteworthy runs, including The Rampaging Hulk magazine, X-Factor, Fantastic Four, and Thor, on which he was responsible for the introduction of Beta Ray Bill and Thor as a frog. You can find his artwork gracing the covers of DC’s Convergence: Superman – The Man of Steel.

This year’s confirmed guests for the show include: Neal Adams (All-New Captain America); Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl); John Beatty (Secret Wars); Christy Blanch (The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood); Mark Buckingham (Fables); Sean Chen (Secret Origins); Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman); Frank Cho (Jungle Girl); Steve Conley (Bloop); Amanda Conner (Harley Quinn); Katie Cook (Gronk); Darwyn Cooke (Richard Stark’s Parker); Ramona Fradon (Spongebob Annual-Size Super-Giant Swimtacular); John Gallagher (Buzzboy); Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (Batman ’66: The Lost Episode); Cully Hamner (Convergence: The Question); Dean Haspiel (The Fox); Russ Heath (G.I. Combat); Jaime Hernandez (Love and Rockets); Klaus Janson (Superman); Dave Johnson (Inhumans: Attilan Rising); JG Jones (Strange Fruit); Denis Kitchen (The Best of Comix Book: When Marvel Went Underground); Barry Kitson (Empire: Uprising); Paul Levitz (Convergence: World’s Finest Comics); Mike Manley (Darkhawk); Mark Mariano (The Other Side of Hugless Hill); Ron Marz (Convergence: Batman and Robin); Terry Moore (Rachel Rising); Tom Palmer (The Avengers); Jimmy Palmiotti (The Con Job); Dan Parent (Archie); Andrew Pepoy (Afterlife with Archie); David Peterson (Mouse Guard); Khoi Pham (X-Men Legacy); Ron Randall (Convergence: Catwoman); Budd Root (Cavewoman); Don Rosa (Donald Duck); Andy Runton (Owly); Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo); Matteo Scalera (Black Science); Bart Sears (Bloodshot); Louise Simonson (Convergence: Superman – The Man of Steel); Walter Simonson (Convergence: Superman – The Man of Steel); Andy Smith (Earth 2); Charles Soule (Uncanny Inhumans); Marcio Takara (Armor Wars); Ben Templesmith (Gotham by Midnight); Frank Tieri (Suicide Squad); Peter Tomasi (Green Lantern Corps); John Totleben (Swamp Thing); Billy Tucci (Shi); James Tynion (Constantine: The Hellblazer); Rick Veitch (Saga of the Swamp Thing); Charles Vess (Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream); Mark Waid (Daredevil); John Watson (Red Sonja); Kelly Yates (Doctor Who); Thom Zahler (My Little Pony: Friends Forever); and Mike Zeck (Secret Wars).

More Guests Return to Baltimore Comic-Con in 2014!

Block off the weekend of September 5-7, 2014 on your calendar — the Baltimore Comic-Con returns to the Baltimore Convention Center for its first 3-day event!

The convention has announced 5 returning guests, industry veterans all!  Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Tom Raney, Budd Root, Andy Smith, and Jim Starlin will once again be joining our annual celebration of comics, art, and popular culture!

Originally hailing from Spain, artist extraordinaire Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez has spent the vast majority of his illustrious career providing art at DC Comics. He has worked on characters large and small, ensemble casts and individual characters, and has received praise from his writers and editors alike.  Some of his noteworthy work includes Jonah Hex, DC Comics Presents, New Teen Titans, Road to Perdition, Twilight and Wednesday Comics.  He has lately been seen working on All-Star Western and the Adventures of Superman: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez hardcover.

Tom Raney has spent much of his career working for the mid- to large-size publishers in the comics industry.  He has contributed to Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, Valiant’s relaunched titles, and Dark Horse Comics’ Star Wars among many other titles and publishers.  In recent history, his artwork can be seen within the pages of DC Comics’ Threshold, Marvel’s Incredible Hulk, and Titan Comics’ Monster Massacre hardcover collection.

Budd Root initially broke into the mainstream comics industry with his first published work at London Night Studios. Ultimately, Root decided he would publish his own comics, forming Basement Comics in 1993 and issuing the now-synonymous Cavewoman. The title has since gone on to see publication with Caliber Press and Avatar Press.  It has also garnered an Ignatz Award nomination in 1999.
Andy Smith has worked in the comics industry since 1991, with art credits at Marvel, DC, Image, Acclaim, and CrossGen Entertainment. He is also responsible for bringing new readers and artists to the industry with his best-selling Drawing Dynamic Comics and Drawing American Manga Super-Heroes from Watson-Guptill and the DC Comics characters featured in the Harpers Collins Children’s line, featuring titles like Superman: Attack of the Toyman, Batman: Battle in Metropolis, and Justice League: I Am Aquaman.  He has recently provided inks over Jim Starlin’s pencils on Marvel’s Thanos: The Infinity Revelation.

The multi-talented Jim Starlin has worked on both writing and creating art for some of the most noteworthy creations since his entry into the field of comics in the 1970s.  The mind behind the Marvel character Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, he is also responsible for a number of noteworthy cosmic characters in the Marvel Universe, including Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, and the villainous Thanos, all of whom are expected to be featured in this year’s major motion picture, Guardians of the Galaxy.  He developed noteworthy runs on Marvel’s Captain Marvel, Warlock, and Silver Surfer, Marvel mini-series Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity War, and Infinity Crusade, and DC Comics’ Batman, The Weird, and Cosmic Odyssey. His Death of Captain Marvel was the first Marvel graphic novel to be published.  More recently, he has provided writing and art for DC’s Stormwatch and writing on Green Lantern: Mongul #23.2, and he returns to his classic villain in April 2014 with Marvel’s Thanos: The Infinity Revelation.

This year’s previously confirmed guests for the show include: Marty Baumann (Pixar artist); Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl); Dave Bullock (Batman Black and White); Greg Capullo (Batman); Bernard Chang (Green Lantern Corps); Sean Chen (Amazing Spider-Man); Jimmy Cheung (Infinity); Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman); Frank Cho (X-Men:  Battle of the Atom); Richard Clark (House of Gold & Bones); Steve Conley (Bloop); Alan Davis (Wolverine); Tommy Lee Edwards (Star Wars); Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys); David Finch (Forever Evil); Dave Gibbons (Watchmen); Bryan JL Glass (Mice Templar); Michael Golden (The Ravagers); Cully Hamner (Animal Man); Dean Haspiel (The Fox); Fred Hembeck (Garfield); Adam Hughes (Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan); JG Jones (Green Lantern Corps, Batman Black and White); Justin Jordan (Luther Strode, Green Lantern: New Guardians); Barry Kitson (Empire); Aaron Kuder (Action Comics); David Mack (Shadowman); Kevin Maguire (Guardians of the Galaxy); Alex Maleev (Moon Knight); Ron Marz (Witchblade); Bob McLeod (X-Men: Gold); Tradd Moore (Deadpool Annual); Mark Morales (New Avengers); Dan Parent (Archie, Veronica, Kevin Keller); David Peterson (Mouse Guard); Joe Prado (Justice League); Brian Pulido (Lady Death); Ivan Reis (Aquaman and The Others); Budd Root (Cavewoman); Alex Saviuk (Web of Spider-Man); Andy Smith (Superman #23.1: Bizarro); Allison Sohn (sketch card artist); Charles Soule (Thunderbolts); Ben Templesmith (The Memory Collectors); Peter Tomasi (Batman and Two-Face); John Totleben (Swamp Thing); Herb Trimpe (GI Joe:  A Real American Hero); Billy Tucci (Shi); Rick Veitch (Saga of the Swamp Thing); Mark Waid (Daredevil); Bill Willingham (Fables); Renee Witterstaetter (Joe Jusko: Maelstrom); and Thom Zahler (My Little Pony).

Baltimore Comic-Con’s First Annual Yearbook!

BCC Artbook 2012The Baltimore Comic-Con is proud to announce the first Baltimore Comic-Con Yearbook, celebrating the creators appearing at the show.  This book of art features some of our guests interpreting the Liberty Meadows characters, sometimes in conjunction with their own creations, in a celebration of creator-owned properties.

As a bonus, we have a scavenger hunt of sorts. When you buy the book, you’ll get a list of our 36 contributors and their table numbers. Get 15 of them to sign it, and come back to the booth for your choice of an added print by either Joseph Michael Linsner or Barry Kitson. Get 20 signatures and receive BOTH prints!

Liberty Meadows was created by Frank Cho and first published in 1997, launching in newspapers internationally.  This year marks the 15th anniversary of Liberty Meadows, having seen print in book, comic strip, and digital formats.

The art created for the 2012 Baltimore Comic-Con Yearbook celebrating 15 years of Frank Cho’s Liberty Meadows will be auctioned at this special event! Don’t miss this opportunity to own original art featuring Frank’s characters as depicted by artists including Frank Quitely, Brandon Peterson, Gene Ha, David Petersen, Bernard Chang, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Tom Raney, Billy Tucci, Steve Conley, Thom Zahler, Craig Rousseau, Frank Cho, and many others!

The book will be sold, and the art auction will be held in our Main hall, in Booths #2505-2507.  The auction will commence following the Stan Lee/John Romita panel, at approximately 5:45pm.  The book will be available at the Baltimore Comic-Con for $20.

Happy New Year from the Baltimore Comic-Con!

Official Press Release

2010 BCC Logo -- No Year

Baltimore Comic-Con’s Happy New Year!

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – December 31, 2011 – Happy New Year to the friends and partners of the Baltimore Comic-Con!  The show may not be until September 8-9, 2012, but we’ve been very busy lately lining up some absolutely amazing guests for our 13th annual event!

We are very proud to announce our initial guest list for what will surely become the largest Baltimore Comic-Con yet!

Cho Avengers vs. Xmen
Avengers vs. X-Men #0 by Frank Cho.

Laura & Michael AllredMadman, iZombie  Greg CapulloBatman, Spawn

Frank ChoAvengers vs. X-Men, Liberty Meadows

Steve ConleyBloop

Rich FaberRoboy Red

John GallagherBuzzboy

Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez – Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman

Keith GiffenSuperman, OMAC, Green Arrow

Larry HamaG.I. Joe, Wolverine, The ‘Nam

Dean HaspielBilly Dogma, ACT-I-VATE, Trip City

J.G. JonesWanted, Doc Savage

Scott KurtzPvPonline.com

David MackKabuki

David PetersenMouse Guard

Frank QuitelyAll Star Superman, Batman & Robin

Walter SimonsonThor, Legion of Super-Heroes

Scott SnyderBatman , Severed, Swamp Thing

Billy TucciA Child Is Born, Shi 

Matt Wagner – Tower Chronicles, Mage, Grendel

Mark WaidDaredevil, Incorruptible, Irredemable

If you are a comic book fan, you need to come to Baltimore this coming September!  We cover the entire industry, bringing your favorite creators from yesterday, today, and tomorrow, publishers big and small, and retailers offering everything from gold, silver, bronze, and modern comics to videos to clothing and so much more.

In addition, we provide great programming at the show, including panels on creator spotlights, creative teams, publishers, techniques, and, of course, our extremely popular Costume Contest.  Whether you are a die-hard cosplayer awaiting the chance to premiere your new creation, a casual participant, you have kids who want to dress up, or you just want to see some of the most creative costumes in the world, our costume contest is great fun for everybody!

Mark your calendars – September 8-9, 2012!  And keep watching for more great news throughout the year on guests, the Harvey Awards, industry exclusives, and programming. The latest information can always be found on our website, Facebook, and Twitter. Don’t forget to share this information with your friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other social media sites!

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