Happy Mother’s Day and welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to something great fans are doing to an awesome comic that came out. So let’s get to it …
The overt (and covert) return of Marvel Cosmic
There was a time when the outer space side of the Marvel U — known colloquially as Marvel Cosmic — was flush with interesting titles, revolutionary storylines and complex characters. But for the past few years, Marvel Cosmic has been in the doldrums — sure there’s Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy, but where there are a mere two where there once was much more. But in the span of the past few weeks, between announcements and shipped titles, Marvel Cosmic is one again becoming a crowded space.
On shelves now there are four cosmic titles — Nova, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel and Silver Surfer. This week they were joined by Cyclops, an un-cosmic character who has been thrust out into space as a member of Corsair’s Starjammers. And later this summer those five ongoing titles will be joined by two more — Rocket Raccoon and Legendary Star-Lord. That will be seven in total, and while their main commonality is they aren’t based on Earth, comics lines have been established based on less. The sales of these titles, and the results of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, will be the bellwethers to the future of this “cosmic” non-line; perhaps even making it a line in itself, joining the X-Men, the Avengers titles, and the Spidey/street level books. (Chris Arrant)
TOON expands the age range of their comics
When Françoise Mouly launched TOON Books a couple of years ago, she did it in response to the lack of comics available for her first grade son. Filling a specific gap in the comics world, TOON has so far focused on easy-reading comics for the very young, which is a wonderful and important niche, but also by definition super limiting. When the art director of The New Yorker is publishing comics, I’m going to want to read them, but while I’ve been able to appreciate the art in TOON’s offerings, the writing is explicitly – and rightly – not for grown ups, which has made those books challenging for me and my peers to engage with. It was announced this week that that’s about to change.
Mouly is launching TOON Graphics for Visual Readers, an imprint for the 8 and up crowd. While she’s again hoping to achieve a specific purpose, this time that’s not so age-specific. TOON Graphics is designed to help readers connect with visual narratives and become immersed in their authors’ worlds. The books – even those that may not be technically comics, like Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti’s retelling of Hansel and Gretel – will be heavily visual and are designed to teach the language of visual art. But that’s not a lesson that’s specific to third graders. Many older children and adults – even some who’ve been reading comics for years – don’t understand how to read visually. And those who do have that skill understand that it’s something that can continue to be sharpened. It’s something I still study and work on and it’s exciting to know that through TOON Graphics Mouly is making herself available as a teacher. (Michael May)
Free Comic Book Day delivers
Last weekend was apparently a huge nerd prom. May the Fourth for the Star War crowd. MCD Day for the Beastie Boys crowd. Amazing Spider-Man 2 hitting theaters. It was enough to make me forget that Monday was Cinco de Mayo, and I forgot to knock back a few Dos Equis with my in-laws.
What I didn’t forget, though, was Free Comic Book Day. Ever since a fellow nerd in my graduate classes introduced me to the day, I have rarely missed out on scoring some free floppies. This year introduced something different: it was the first time I had to stand in line. Fans of various ages wearing superhero merchandise were halfway to the other end the plaza by the time the doors opened. The best part? A lot of fans brought their kids.
This was great because Free Comic Book Day is not starved for all ages comics. Of these, I mightily enjoyed The Tick comic. Ben Edlund didn’t write the story, so it lacks a little of the original comics’ subversiveness. What it has, though, is a lot of that maniacal cartoon humor from the beloved ’90s show. I love that I immediately insert Townsend Coleman and Rob Paulsen as the characters voices. I also loved the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers comic, and I thought that the manga style suited the source material quite well. Brian Clevinger’s idiosyncratic style of humor still continues to delight in Atomic Robo, even if I thought the story was too short.
Honorable mention: the Hello Kitty comic, which was my go-to issue whenever anyone asked what I was doing on Free Comic Book Day. “Oh, nothing. Just catching up on the latest … HELLO KITTY!”
That joke goes over much better in real life, I promise you. (Larry Cruz)
You got your comics in my television … and it’s delicious
I originally was going to talk about all the awesome love that the Rami Spider-Man movies are getting in the wake of Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s success, but then Marvel Studios had to go and make picking up Agent Carter official. It might seem like nothing; we’ve known they were developing the series since last year, but it’s always nice to see the enthusiasm and hope a press announcement can bring. There should be a moment of cheer and celebration that Marvel is taking one of their leading women and building a universe around her as part of their burgeoning television programming. This is the first female-led project in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even if it’s a small screen project, there is just something really awesome about the trust they have in Haley Atwell and the enthusiasm they have for Peggy Carter as a character that they are building her into their cinematic S.H.I.E.L.D. mythology and want to share that with general audiences. I hate to cast aspersions on the Distinguished Competition, but perhaps Agent Carter’s success might shed that ugly image that women can’t lead action-adventure projects. A Black Widow movie won’t be far behind (as I have personally hoped for) and if all goes well, audiences give these women a chance and ratings soar high, perhaps we’ll all get that one particular superheroine on the big screen. Agent Carter might not be an amazon, but she’ll be getting the respect of a super-hero all the same. (Carla Hoffman)
This week saw a slew of announcements to gladden the hearts of comic book consumers hoping for a broader spectrum of TV series incarnations. Or as JK Parkin said to me, when we were discussing the latest round of TV series reveals, “it’s like my 12 year old self is programming the networks now”. Indeed it is, and we mean that as a compliment.
I find myself in the minority in that I loved the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.–so I was pleased to learn ABC picked it up for a second season. At the same time, I was floored to learn ABC approved the period piece series, Agent Carter, set in 1946 with Hayley Atwell reprising her role from 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger.
The Agent Carter news was almost drowned out by the torrent of confirmed new 2014-1015 series revealed throughout the week:
— Chris Roberson/Mike Allred-created iZombie picked up for a series, as well as The Flash, by CW.
— Fox released the first preview for Gotham, which got a series order.
— NBC confirmed that it would be giving Matt Ryan in Constantine a series try.
My wish for the third season of Arrow? An end to the island flashbacks. I beg of you. Also, am I crazy to think DC may be forced to have another go at the iZombie comic, should the series succeed. One can only hope.
Joe Quesada made a surprise return to his Cup O’Joe gig this week (with EIC Axel Alonso on vacation) and made an interesting observation about the stream of new shows for this coming season (do not forget also the Netflix Defenders-esque four series starting production and set for 2015 launches). He said, “A lot of that has to do with so many amazing writers and directors who were weaned on comics, saying, ‘You know what? I want to work in this world. I want to produce these shows. I want to work with these characters.’ They know how great the material is. And guess what, they’ve proven to be amazingly popular, and they make money on a worldwide basis– when they’re done well…”
That last clause is critical, these properties succeed, only when they’re done well. With any luck that will be the case with several of these series. Time will tell. (Tim O’Shea)