Reviews: Week of 24 February 2010

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Batman and Robin #9 – Why did Batman kill Batwoman? Why is Batman (but not the same Batman) trying to kill Robin? Who or what came out of the Lazarus Pit?

Blackest Night #7 (of 8 ) – In this issue the Deputy Lanterns and the New Guardians square off against the legions of Black Lanterns, led by Nekron and Black Hand. Lex Luthor has a tantrum… well, not really… it’s more like he finally succumbed to the power of the Orange Ring. Wonder Woman, in trying to rein him in (literally!), get’s Lex to spill a secret. We also see John Stewart and a slew of Lanterns facing a horde of Black Lanterns in near-Earth space. And, we see that Sinestro still needs to prove that he is – or at least can be – the Big Man on Campus.

Given all of the build-up over the past seven issues, I’m curious to see how Geoff Johns wraps this event up.

Buck Rogers #9 – This book is still just good, old-fashioned sci-fi. I really love the way that it is set in the 25th Century, but the stylization of some of the buildings and spacecraft have “retro-futuristic” design elements that look straight out of someone’s early-20th Century imagination.

Readers are also treated to a look at just how feisty (although some would say “headstrong”) the Deering clan can be. And, Buck goes for a joyride… with explosive results.

Fantastic Four #576 – When a mysterious body of water is discovered under the ice in Antarctica, the call goes out to the FF. When Johnny and Ben ask why they’ve been asked to investigate, Reed comes up with a simple, yet adroit, answer:

“Because, is there anything we do better than exploration?”

And with that, the FF are off to the southern polar region.  When they land, the first frames of their disembarking show only boots: Three pair of winter boots…. one pair of red cowboy boots with yellow flames. Johnny’s.  As to the rest of his travel-wear: Swim trunks. (Well-played, Misters Hickman and Eaglesham!)

A couple of years ago, I picked up a phrase from my friend, Dave: “Float rocks,” which is usually used in the context of:

“Hey, did you hear that [SOMEONE] wants [SOME RIDICULOUS REQUEST]?”
“Really? Well, they can go float rocks for all I care.”

After the FF dive into the water, readers are shown a literal version of “…float rocks,” as The Thing – being made of rocks – well… um… sinks. Duh. It made me chuckle to see the way that it was portrayed. This was followed by 11 pages of dialogue-less underwater fighting. At the fight’s end, the FF are brought before the ruling council of Atlantis.  What?  Wait. But… I thought Namor was from Atlantis…

Reed: This isn’t Atlantis.  It’s destroyed… ruins at the bottom of the world.
Councillor #1: Atlantis is the sea, boy.
Councillor #2: Where there is water and life lived in it, there are giants.
Councillor #3: This is simply the way things are.

Huh. Who knew?!  I’ve been enjoying the Hickman/Eaglesham run on Fantastic Four; this issue contines the fun ride.

Flash Rebirth #6 (of 6) – By the end of this issue, readers learn:

  • …learn Iris West’s fate at the hands of Zoom;
  • …learn about lightning rods (with respect to speedsters); and
  • … are treated to one of the best closing lines of any story I’ve read in the past year.

I still have some trepidations about Barry’s return to the DCU. I thought that his death in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 was one of the best-written deaths in comics. I also appreciated the fact that Barry (more or less) managed to “stay dead” for 25 years. In his appearances since COIE, it’s been maintained that he would/could reappear three (3) times before he passed on to the afterlife. It looks as though he’s been given a reprieve from that fate and given a new lease on life. Hopefully, it will be worth reading about.

G-Man: Cape Crisis #5 of 5 – This issue is the culmination of the quest to get Great Man and G-Man’s powers back. It was still a decent (and fun) read, but it seemed to wrap up a little too quickly.

Superman #697 – Three words: “Legion Espionage Squad.” So, you know that this one had my attention. Mon-El is visited by a few familar faces. Well, they aren’t so familiar to him, but they are to Superboy. The pieces are starting to fall into place as to “why” members of the LSH are in the 21st Century. It looks as though some answers may be forthcoming in Adventure Comics #8.

Wonder Woman #41 – Is there anyone that Gail Simone can’t write? Seriously. The woman has a talent for getting DC’s characters “right.” This issue kicks off with Wonder Woman and Power Girl slugging it out over the skies of Washington, D.C. As an added bonus, readers get to “hear” what’s going on in their minds as they trade blows.

In an aside, Achilles sets about continuing his mission to bring peace to Man’s World. But, what’s his next move?

Copy of ‘Action Comics No. 1’ sells for $1,000,000

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From BBC News:

A copy of the first comic to feature caped hero Superman has been sold on the internet for $1m (£646,000).

The 1938 edition of Action Comics No 1 – which originally sold for 10c – was sold by a private seller to a private buyer, neither of whom was named.

Stephen Fishler, co-owner of the US auction website Comic Connect, said it was “the Holy Grail of comic books”.

The sale smashes the previous record price for a comic book of $317,200 (£205,000) in 2009.

That was also a copy of Action Comics No 1, but in poorer condition.

Mr Fishler said the transaction happened minutes after the issue was put on sale at around 1030 local time (1530 GMT) on Monday.

He said that the seller was a “well-known individual” in New York with a pedigree collection, and that the buyer was a known customer who had previously bought an Action Comics No 1.

‘A milestone’

“The opportunity to buy an un-restored, high-grade Action One comes along once every two decades. It’s certainly a milestone,” said Mr Fishler.

He added: “It is still a little stunning to see a comic book and $1m in the same sentence.”

About 100 copies of Action Comics No 1 remain in existence and only two of those have a grading of 8.0 – very fine – including the one sold on Monday.

The previous record-holder had a grading of 6.0.

The cover of the rare issue pictures Superman lifting a car over his head.

Ambitious ‘Forty-Five’ Probes Superheroes’ Psyches

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Wired’s “Underwire” column takes a look at an upcoming graphic novel, Forty-Five:

With superhero narratives going viral on television, movie screens and the web, the time is right for an ambitious graphic novel like Andi Ewington’s Forty-Five to push the genre forward. Composed of fictional interviews with 45 different superheroes, conducted by a journalist exploring the line between normals and metahumans, the book is a contemplative counterpart to the usual smash-and-bash comics.

The dense storyline of Forty-Five proved quite a challenge. Anchored by Ewington’s protagonist, journalist James Stanley, the graphic novel includes probing interviews with superheroes that run the gamut from benevolent do-gooders to addled junkies and total assholes.

John Constantine Goes to Iraq in ‘Pandemonium’

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Wired‘s “Underwire” column takes a look at the new graphic novel, starring Hellblazer‘s John Constantine:

Supernatural detective John Constantine has come a long way from hell since Alan Moore invented him 25 years ago in eco-horror comic book series Swamp Thing.

In Hellblazer: Pandemonium, out this month from DC’s mature Vertigo line, the storied magus lands at last in hell on Earth, otherwise known as post-9/11 Iraq.

It’s an admittedly dicey setting for a graphic novel, according to Pandemonium writer Jamie Delano.

“There must be some sensitivity when setting out to engage with, or exploit, a real-world disaster of such devastating effect to so many human lives, for the purpose of creating a work of genre fiction,” Delano told in an e-mail interview. “That said, the innate arrogance that allows a writer to invade foreign cultural territory and pillage it of emotion for dramatic purpose is often mitigated by a possibly deluded faith in his own good intent.”

A couple of tests…

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I just added the WordBook plugin to Four-Color Coverage. Hopefully, that won’t break Random Access’ link to WordPress… We’ll see how it works out.

I’ve also given 4CC another theme makeover. I’m happier with this theme… at least for the time being.

DC Entertainment Names Executive Team

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Jim Lee and Dan DiDio Named Co-Publishers DC Comics

Geoff Johns to Serve as Chief Creative Officer

John Rood Named EVP, Sales, Marketing and Business Development
Patrick Caldon Named EVP, Finance and Administration

(February 18, 2010 – New York, NY and Burbank, CA) DC Entertainment, founded in September 2009 to unleash the power of the DC Comics library of characters across all media platforms, has named its executive management team, including new co-publishers of DC Comics and a Chief Creative Officer, as well as heads of Sales/Marketing/Business Development and Finance/Administration. Diane Nelson, President, DC Entertainment, made the announcement today.

The new senior executive team includes Jim Lee and Dan DiDio, who have been named Co-Publishers of DC Comics, and Geoff Johns, who will serve as Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment. Additionally, John Rood has been named Executive Vice President, Sales, Marketing and Business Development, and Patrick Caldon will serve as Executive Vice President, Finance and Administration. Each of these executives will report directly to Nelson.

“DC Entertainment’s new executive team is a creative ‘dream team,’ with accomplishments and talent unrivaled in the business,” said Nelson. “This announcement continues and underscores DC’s legacy as the ultimate destination for creators. We’ll benefit enormously from the deep experience this team represents, while re-energizing the direction and focus of the company. I’m excited and honored to have each of them with me at the helm of DC Entertainment.”

“With this new leadership team, Diane will be able to fully and respectfully integrate DC’s brand and characters, not only as key content drivers in the film division, but across all of the businesses of Warner Bros. and Time Warner,” said Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group. “I am very proud and excited about the accomplished executives who are charged with expanding this powerful library. They each have a diverse and complementary skill-set and are deeply committed to contributing to the DC Comics legacy.”

Prior to his current post, Lee served as Editorial Director, where he oversaw WildStorm Studios and was also the artist for many of DC Comics’ bestselling comic books and graphic novels, including “All Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder,” “Batman: Hush” and “Superman: For Tomorrow.” He also serves as the Executive Creative Director for the upcoming DC Universe Online massively multiplayer action game from Sony Online Entertainment.

Lee is an award-winning comic book illustrator/creator/publisher who started his professional career at Marvel Comics where his work on the X-Men continues to hold the all-time sales record for single issue sales at eight million copies sold in one month. At Marvel, he also drew the Punisher and co-created many characters, the most popular being Gambit, featured in 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” feature film. In 1992, he started his own production company, WildStorm Productions, and co-founded Image Comics, an independent comics company which quickly grew to become the number-three North American comics publisher. His most notable creations, “WildCats” and “Gen 13,” saw life beyond comic books as a CBS Saturday morning cartoon and as a direct-to-video animated movie distributed by Disney, respectively. In 1998, he left Image Comics and sold WildStorm to DC Comics.

DiDio most recently served as Senior Vice President and Executive Editor, DC Universe, overseeing the editorial department for the DC Universe imprint, including the ongoing adventures of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and scores of heroes and villains. He also worked to develop new titles with the industry’s premier writers and artists. At DC Comics, DiDio has spearheaded such bestselling projects as “All Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder,” “Identity Crisis,” Green Lantern, Teen Titans and The Outsiders.

Before joining DC in 2002, DiDio was with Mainframe Entertainment, where he most recently served as Senior Vice President, Creative Affairs, overseeing the development, distribution, marketing and promotion of all Mainframe’s television properties. Prior to that, he served as Executive Director of Children’s Programming for ABC, where he was also a publicity manager, having started his television career at CBS, working in a variety of positions.
Johns builds on his current role at DC from being one of today’s most prolific, popular and award-winning contemporary comic book writers with this new executive role. He is a New York Times bestselling author who has written highly acclaimed stories revitalizing Green Lantern, Superman, the Flash, Teen Titans, and the Justice Society of America for DC Comics.

Johns began his comics career creating and writing “Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.” for DC Comics while at the same time working with film director Richard Donner. After acclaimed runs on Flash, Teen Titans and the bestselling “Infinite Crisis” mini-series, Johns co-wrote a run on Action Comics with his mentor, Donner. Johns has also written and produced for various other media, including the acclaimed “Legion” and “Absolute Justice” episodes of Warner Bros. Television’s “Smallville” and Adult Swim’s “Robot Chicken” and “Titan Maximum.” He also wrote the story of the DC Universe Online massively multiplayer action game from Sony Online Entertainment.

Rood returns to Warner Bros. after 10 years with the Disney ABC Television Group, where he most recently was Senior Vice President of Marketing, ABC Family. While at ABC, he also consulted for ABC News during the recent transitions at “Good Morning America” and “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer.”

Prior to Disney, Rood worked for six years at Warner Bros. Consumer Products, negotiating promotional deals with national advertisers using Warner Bros.’ properties, including the DC Comics characters. He has also worked in promotions for Equity Marketing on the Burger King account and in advertising for Leo Burnett on the McDonald’s and Miller Brewing accounts.

Caldon most recently served as Executive Vice President, Finance and Operations of DC Comics and MAD Magazine. Before that, he served as Senior Vice President, Finance and Operations, and his other posts at DC include Vice President, Finance and Operations, and Controller, the position in which he joined the company in 1985. Prior to joining DC Comics, Caldon spent a decade at Warner Communications in corporate accounting and as Senior Vice President and CFO of the Cosmos soccer team (owned by Warner Communications at the time).

DC Entertainment, a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment, is charged with strategically integrating the DC Comics business, brand and characters deeply into Warner Bros. and all its content and distribution businesses. DC Entertainment utilizes the expertise the Studio has in building and sustaining franchises to prioritize the DC properties as key titles and growth drivers across all of the Studio, including feature films, television, interactive entertainment, direct-to-consumer platforms and consumer products. The DC Comics publishing business is the cornerstone of DC Entertainment, releasing approximately 90 comic books through its various imprints and 30 graphic novels a month as well as continuing to build on its creative leadership in the comic book industry.

Reviews: Week of 17 Feb 2010

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After a long hiatus, Four-Color Coverage’s reviews are back!

Another week’s releases have made it to retailers’ shelves. Let’s dive in…

Batman #696 – Batman… breaking into the Mayor’s office? Okay, that’s nothing too out of character… but, beating the Mayor up!? That’s a little different.  Blowing up buildings in Gotham?!  Yeah, something’s up… but what is it?!

Blackest Night

  • The Flash #3 (of 3) – Barry Allen’s run as a Blue Lantern continues. Fortunately, he’s not alone; with Wally West at his side, he takes on deceased members of his rogues gallery… and his own grandson, Bart Allen, who has been taken over by a Black Lantern ring. Also, the living members of The Flash’ Rogues Gallery enforce their own style of justice upon .
  • Green Lantern #51 – Hal Jordan is the host to Parallax once more. His first target: The Spectre. Round Two begins here.
  • Green Lantern Corps #45 – Green/Red Lantern Guy Gardner battles Kyle Rayner, Kilowog, and a handful of other Lanterns. Fortunately, the Lanterns have Mogo on their side — but is even Mogo’s influence enough to help rein in Guy’s rage?

Captain America #603 -Bucky and Sam Wilson (The Falcon) come up with a plan to infiltrate the fake Captain America’s militia. And it seems as though the not-so-good Captain has a plan or two of his own.

Justice League of America #41 & 42 -I know that I dropped JLA and JSA only a few months ago, but I picked up these issues on the recommendation of Jeremiah, one of the employees at Dr. Volt’s. It wasn’t as bad as I remembered. No, it’s not entirely the League that I’d prefer reading, but it’s close… and the new blood makes it interesting. It seems as though James Robinson is building to something, but he leaves things just blurry enough at the edges to keep readers guessing “what.”  I’ll give the book a few issues to see if it hits its stride… and if it goes in a direction that I like. Otherwise, just like Snoop Dogg, I’m gonna drop it like it’s hot.

Spider-Woman #6 – Jessica Drew comes face-to-face with Norman Osborne’s strike force, The Thunderbolts. It seems as though the T-Bolts want to take Ms. Drew into custody; Jessica isn’t exactly down with that idea.

Superman/Batman #69 – This is a continuation of the “Our Worlds at War: Aftermath” story. It was a decent read, but it didn’t really “sing” for me.

Supergirl #50 – I’ve been looking forward to this issue – not only because it’s the title’s 50th issue, but because of the second feature, written by Jake Black (a local writer) and Helen Slater (who’s played both Supergirl and Lara Jor-El, Superman’s mother). The main story concluded the Insect Queen storyline; I was a little more than “slightly” surprised by the ending. The second story was a look at Supergirl from points of view other than that of her number one critic, Cat Grant. It also appears to be a sort of… stepping stone/springboard in the development of the character. Hopefully, the folks at DC use it as such, because it would be a shame for a good story like this to be lost in the proverbial shuffle. I also have to agree with something that Jake said: This picture, by Cliff Chiang, is my favorite panel from the second story. Yep, this issue was well worth the wait.

Tiny Titans #25 – Superboy returns! (And Match comes with him.) Also, the girls of the Tiny Titans find a box of rings… strangely colorful rings.

Uncanny X-Men #521 -At the end of the last issue, Magneto left Utopia to do “something.” Readers learn what that “something” is at the end of this issue. It’s not something that I expected… but I’m looking forward to seeing this seed bear fruit. And, at no extra charge: Fantomex!

Faber-Castell’s Creative Studio Getting Started: Complete Comic Illustration Kit

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Faber-Castell, renowned for its high quality, professional art supplies, has recently announced the addition of the Complete Comic Illustration Kit to their Creative Studio product line:

Create your own comic book heroes!  This complete kit from Faber-Castell includes PITT artist pens, Art GRIP aquarelle pencils, graphite pencils, a blank comic book and more.  A fully illustrated instruction book is also included.  All components store neatly in the re-usable book style package.

The set includes:

  • PITT artist pen – Black, Superfine
  • PITT artist pen – Black, Brush
  • PITT artist pen – Black, Medium
  • 3 Art GRIP Aquarelles – Yellow #107, Red #121 & Blue #152
  • Graphite sketch pencil (HB)
  • pencil sharpener
  • eraser
  • paintbrush
  • 6 Sheets Bristol Paper
  • Blank Comic Book – 8pgs (9″ x 7″)
  • Practice Drawing Pad – 12 pgs (9″ x 7″)
  • Plastic Mannequin
  • 4″ x 8″ Plastic Stencil
  • Instruction Booklet

For more information, see the Faber-Castell site.


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Welcome to Four-Color Coverage!

This blog will be dedicated to all (or at least “most”) things comic book, graphic novel and comics-based animation related.