Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6’s guide to the week ahead. Below you’ll find a roundup for Marvel’s announcements from South by Southwest, our contributors’ picks of the comics of the week, and the top events to watch for in the next seven days.
Marvel storms South by Southwest
Marvel made news over the weekend at South by Southwest, the annual film, music and interactive festival in Austin, Texas, where the publisher rolled out the next wave in its “Marvel ReEvolution” digital initiative. For starters, there are new weekly series in the Infinite Comics format, beginning in July with Wolverine: Japan’s Most Wanted, by Jason Aaron, Jason Latour and Paco Diaz. There’s also “Project Gamma,” which had been theorized as a new Hulk project but is actually a new technology that will add music and other audio cues to select digital comics. The company also announced an expansion of its video program with the addition of new shows, including Marvel’s Earth’s Mightiest Show, hosted by Attack of the Show! alum Blair Butler, and documentaries on Marvel history.
However, the news that made the biggest impact was that more than 700 first issues would be available for free from Sunday through Tuesday through comiXology and Marvel’s comiXology-powered apps. The response was so overwhelming that it brought down the servers. ComiXology offered an update this morning, saying, “We’re seeing some improvements, but know that our team is killing it w/ tweaks & updates. More info to follow!”
This week it’s MegaCon and a benefit signing of Hawkeye, Vol. 1
Convention season is in full swing as MegCon opens Friday at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. Catering to comics, sci-fi, anime and fantasy fans, the 20-year-old event this year features an impressive guest list that includes Neal Adams, Mark Bagley, Jim Cheung, Frank Cho, Chris Claremont, Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, Chuck Dixon, Steve Epting, Francesco Francavilla, Steve McNiven, George Perez, Gail Simone, Ethan Van Sciver, Mark Waid and … whew!
The media roster is pretty solid, too, with Patrick Stewart, LeVar Burton, Denise Crosby, John De Lancie, Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Martina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton, Dean Cain, David Prowse, and more.
Creators Matt Fraction, Steve Lieber and Jesse Hamm will be on hand Wednesday at Floating World Comics in Portland, Oregon, for a signing for Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon. All of the proceeds from the event will go to the American Red Cross, earmarked to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy.
ROBOT 6 contributors name their top choices from among the comic books, and comics-related books, scheduled to arrive in stores this week. We welcome readers to highlight their picks in the comments below.
21st Century Boys, Vol. 2
It’s the end of an era this week as the final volume of Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys series comes to an end with 21st Century Boys, Vol. 2. I’ve constantly compared the pacing and the multi-layered storytelling to the television series Lost, but unlike that story this one’s never lost a beat. While at some points it was slow, those meandering moments proved pivotal once Urasawa ratcheted up the action. I’m scared, delighted, haunted and excited to get my hands on this final volume. Please don’t let me down. — Chris Arrant
Demon Knights #18
This week I’m looking forward to Demon Knights #18, the third issue of the relaunch under new-ish writer Robert Venditti and artist Bernard Chang. Although the group has found each other after 30 years, they’re not all the same, and they have to fight an army of vampires to boot. Demon Knights has turned into one of my favorite New 52 books, blending fantasy with superhero elements and tying subtly into the present-day DC Universe. — Tom Bondurant
Avengers Assemble #13
Kelly Sue DeConnick picks up on themes from the Avengers movie by having Hawkeye help Black Widow clear some red out of her ledger. It’s a spy story at heart, but DeConnick hasn’t forgotten it’s also a superhero comic, so she has Spider-Woman and an army of lizard-people in there, too. Great, exciting superhero action without any soul-crushing despair or heavy continuity. — Michael May
Paradise Kiss, Vol. 3
Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss is a stylish soap opera about a high-school girl who becomes a model for a group of fashion students working on their final project. It was first published in North America years ago by Tokypop, but Vertical’ a new release repackages the original five volumes into three with a larger trim size, which shows off Yazawa’s elegant art at its best, with a new translation. Unlike many manga, which take place in some oddly mannered universe of battle robots and high school bullies, Paradise Kiss has a story that is universal, about love and finding your own path, set in the gritty world behind the runway. — Brigid Alverson
Finally, the underutilized mutant adventurer gets his own solo title! Seriously though, writer Paul Cornell returns to the Marvel Universe perfectly teamed with one of the strongest artists in comics, Alan Davis. The only reason this book will not sell gangbusters is because the character is so overexposed. In all the interviews I’ve read, Cornell doesn’t intend to go in a radical new direction (but he does plan to tweak the way he speaks, avoiding the use of “bub,” for example). Also Cornell plans to capitalize upon James’ intelligence in the plots, as well as give him a quirky pub-based supporting cast. It should be great to have Cornell gracing the Marvel Universe yet again. — Tim O’Shea
Nowhere Men #4
I very nearly dismissed this series because of its initial sales pitch “Science is the new rock ‘n’ roll” because I’ve had my fill of the rock star/super-scientist sub-genre (sub-sub-genre?) for a while. However, I’m glad I didn’t, as Nowhere Men has quickly become one of my favorite comics on the stand, thanks in no small part to the work of Nate Bellegarde and Jordie Bellaire. They are rock stars. –– Kevin Melrose