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Report Card | From ‘Batwoman’ to ‘Superior Spider-Man’ to ‘Waluk’

by  in Comic News Comment

Welcome to “Report Card,” our week-in-review feature. If “Cheat Sheet” is your guide to the week ahead, “Report Card” is typically a look back at the top news stories of the previous week, as well as a look at the Robot 6 team’s favorite comics that we read.

So find out what we thought about Waluk, Superior Spider-Man and more.

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Citing frustrations with editorial changes, writers J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman announced they are leaving Batwoman.

“Unfortunately, in recent months, DC has asked us to alter or completely discard many long-standing storylines in ways that we feel compromise the character and the series,” Williams and Blackman wrote in a statement posted last night on each of their websites. “We were told to ditch plans for Killer Croc’s origins; forced to drastically alter the original ending of our current arc, which would have defined Batwoman’s heroic future in bold new ways; and, most crushingly, prohibited from ever showing Kate and Maggie actually getting married. All of these editorial decisions came at the last minute, and always after a year or more of planning and plotting on our end.”

Williams clarified on Twitter that the editorial stance on the wedding “was never put to us as being anti-gay marriage,” and a DC Comics spokesperson later added, “As acknowledged by the creators involved, the editorial differences with the writers of ‘Batwoman’ had nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the character.”

DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio appeared at Saturday’s DC Panel at the Baltimore Comic-Con to discuss the controversy, noting that the characters in the Bat Family “shouldn’t have happy personal lives.”

“That’s something we reinforce. If you look at every one of the characters in the Batman family, their personal lives kind of suck,” DiDio said. He also announced that former Manhunter writer Marc Andreyko will take over writing the series.



Saga, the popular and well-reviewed comic by writer Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, continued in its bid for world domination by taking home a Hugo Award and several Harvey Awards this week.

At the Harveys, Saga was named best continuing series, best new series and best single issue for its first issue. Vaughan was named best writer, as Staples took home two awards, for best artist and best colorist. Other winners at the Harvey Awards included Adventure Time, Avengers Arena writer Dennis Hopeless and Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score.


U.S. District Judge William J. Martinez dismissed Stan Lee Media’s multibillion-dollar lawsuit against Disney, potentially ending the company’s legal battle to claim ownership of the Marvel characters co-created by Stan Lee.

“Plaintiff has tried time and again to claim ownership of those copyrights; the litigation history arising out of the 1998 Agreement stretches over more than a decade and at least six courts,” Martinez wrote in his 11-page order. “Taking its cue from the Southern District of New York and the Central District of California, this Court holds that Plaintiff is precluded from re-litigating the issue of its ownership of copyrights based on the 1998 Agreement …” Martinez said it would be “futile” to permit Stan Lee Media to amend the lawsuit.


Comics writer Mark Waid, who sold his print comics collection to fund his digital-comics site Thrillbent, is now co-owner of the comic book shop Alter Ego Comics in Muncie, Indiana. He and his partner Christy Blanch have each bought shares in Alter Ego Comics from original owner Jason Pierce.


Waid spoke to CBR about his new occupation as co-owner of a comic shop. “It started small. ‘What if I just put in a little bit of money to cover your rent, and buy a little bit of your store, and then maybe it’ll help push you to the next level?’ Idea spun out of idea spun out of idea, and the next thing I know, I’m a big owner of this store,” he said. “I’m a third owner of the store along with Christy Blanch and Jason. And couldn’t be happier. We found a new location in Muncie. We’re open now, but we’re having the grand opening celebration on Saturday, Sept. 21 — we’ve got Art Baltazar coming down and Mike Norton from the Chicago area, and we’ve got the 1966 Batmobile, we’ve got Stormtroopers coming, we’ve got the street roped off — we’ve got a big celebration coming. And all of this from a guy who, by all accounts, hates brick and mortar stores.”

The trio also struck a business partnership with Art Baltazar and Franco, fellow comic creators and owners of Aw Yeah Comics in Skokie, Illinois.

“We’ll still maintain our individual identities — one store isn’t being absorbed by the other — but we can pool our resources in unique ways,” Waid wrote on his Thrillbent blog. “We can design an Aw Yeah Comics!-branded, kid-friendly ’boutique’ into Alter Ego that mirrors the Skokie setup. Conversely, we can build more Thrillbent promotion and outreach into the Aw Yeah Comics! storefront. We can meld print and digital in double the locations and strengthen both the stores and Thrillbent.”




Superior Spider-Man #17

Written by Dan Slott
Pencilled by Ryan Stegman
Inked by Livesay
Colored by Edgar Delgado
Lettered by Chris Eliopoulos
Published by Marvel Comics

I was a big fan of Peter David and Rick Leonardi’s work on Spider-Man 2099, so I’ve been eager to see what Slott and Stegman do with Miguel O’Hara. The issue doesn’t disappoint, beginning with a pretty faithful re-creation of the future, right down to Miguel’s thought balloons. (Like a metatextual Hawkman, S-M 2099 fights the menaces of tomorrow with the storytelling techniques of the past.) The time-travel setup itself is both cynical and refreshing — everyone treats it as just another screwup from the bygone Heroic Age — and the stakes are personal, since if his worst enemy (i.e., his dad) is erased from history, he’s up the temporal creek. Indeed, a certain Back to the Future vibe runs through the issue, what longtime Spidey supporting character Liz Allan playing a central role in the development of 2099’s Alchemax, and the Stone family hooking its tentacles into both Miguel and Otto Octavius. I don’t know how much of this is established Spider-lore and how much is Dan Slott’s invention, but it all fits together very neatly. (The hand-waving around sending Miguel back in time would make a Star Trek: Voyager writer blush, but it too is handled efficiently.)

Honestly, while I enjoy Superior Spider-Man for what it is, part of me is glad to have an unconditional rooting interest in the book. Otto, Tiberius Stone, the Green Goblin, and Phil Urich each have their own agendas, and Liz is allied with Tiberius (at least for now), so Miguel’s self-preservation motive is fairly reasonable under the circumstances. Stegman and Livesay do right by him too, evoking the original Leonardi aesthetic (as inked by Al Williamson) and mixing with it just a touch of stylization, along the lines of Art Adams, Humberto Ramos, or Todd Nauck.

Of course, with all the time- and dimension-hopping going on at Marvel these days, Slott and company could be trying out replacements for Otto when his time under the big-eyed mask comes to its inevitable end. Right now the list is pretty short, but I wouldn’t mind having Miguel around for an extended stay. —Tom Bondurant


Waluk

Written by Emilio Ruiz
Illustrated by Ana Miralles
Published by Lerner Graphic Universe

I initially passed this book by because it’s about polar bears, and I’m too old for cuteness, but I’m glad I gave it a second look, although it’s a bit of an odd duck: On the one hand, the polar bears are anthropomorphized and the ending in particular is like something out of a movie of the week. On the other hand, it really does present a gritty, polar bear’s eye view of the world of the Arctic, a world that is contracting due to global warming and that they must share with humans who don’t always have their best interests at heart.

Apparently polar bears abruptly abandon their young to fend for themselves, and that’s what has just happened to Waluk, our hero, when the book opens. He’s about a year and a half old and strikingly lacking in hunting and survival skills. An older bear, Manitok, finds him and mentors him, but Manitok is on the other slope of the life curve; he can’t see or smell very well and he’s losing weight.

The two bears wander the Arctic landscape, and Manitok explains to Waluk how to hunt seals, but the story really gets gritty when they encounter humans, benign and otherwise. Lured by the tasty treats in a garbage dump, Manitok walks into a bear trap and is taken away by some guys (it’s not clear whether they are researchers or something else) who decide to put him down because he’s too old to survive. And that’s when the book turns into a Disney movie.

Artist Ana Miralles’s not only brings the polar bears to life with a lively, animated style but also depicts the gritty parts–the dump, the bloody aftermath of a meal–to create a fuller picture of life in the Arctic. The cover of the book, which shows Waluk standing, stunned, in the middle of a man-made road, sums up the whole story. The horizontal format of the book allows her the space to depict the vast Arctic landscape, and she makes good use of it, but she also zooms in with smaller panels to focus on individual moments in the story. This is a children’s book, although I wouldn’t recommend it for young children, but honestly, it’s a good read for anyone who appreciates good cartooning. —Brigid Alverson


Superior Foes of Spider-Man #3

Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Steve Lieber
Colored by Rachelle Rosenberg
Lettered by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics

This was a tough week to choose a favorite, what with the debut of Battle of the Atom and the second issue of The Bunker coming out and several other great comics hitting the stands. So what made me choose Superior Foes of Spider-Man #3? Conventional wisdom would probably lead you to guess a plot point that revolved around the severed (but still alive) cyborg head of former Maggia boss Silvermaine, or perhaps the retelling of the lame origin of the formerly dead, lame villain Mirage, or even — yes, this part is true — a reference to “big sweaty hippo manboobs.” There’s a dry, subtle wit to this book that Lieber ably brings to life as Spencer’s script continues to crank up the absurdity dial, but no, the thing that really got to me with this issue was the anti-bromance between Boomerang and Mach VII. The former thinks he can redeem Boomerang by being part probation officer/part “Villains Anonymous” sponsor and part buddy, while Boomerang clings to his old life and old ways. I’m enjoying this trip through Boomerang’s life, and I kind of hope we don’t ever see any kind of breakthrough … he’s an unloyal bastard, and it suits him just fine. –JK Parkin