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J. Caleb Mozzocco

The Awesome Scooby-Doo/Wonder Woman Crossover We Didn’t Ask For But Are Glad Exists

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Wonder Woman has been quite the topic of conversation of late, thanks to the news that the popular and critically-acclaimed Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang creative team would soon be leaving her title after a three-year run to be replaced by the already controversial team of Meredith Finch/David Finch -- who have already made some troubling statements in simply trying to promote their run -- and the news that Gilbert Hernandez will bring his talents to the character for Sensation Comics.

While we were all talking about the Finch family, feminism, and the premier female superhero in comics history last week, we may have missed the fact that DC Comics just published an excellent Wonder Woman comic, one that cherry-picked elements from her most popular iterations (her weird-but-awesome Golden Age persona under the guidance of her creators, the Lynda Carter TV show, Super Friends) and presented them in dismemberment-free, all-ages comic that could be enjoyed by anyone from the littlest girl to the oldest old man. A comic book that was both fun and funny, and had just a touch of good old comic book insanity.

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New SpongeBob Annual Stars Golden Age Cartoonist Fletcher Hanks’ Stardust The Super Wizard (Sort Of)

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In putting together this summer's superhero-themed SpongeBob Comics Annual-Size Super-Giant Swimtacular #2, United Plankton Pictures dug deep and left-of-center for inspiration and riff material. How deep, and how left-of-center? Well, the book includes, "I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planktons!", a rather meticulously assembled homage to the work of Golden Age oddball artist Fletcher Hanks and his Stardust The Super-Wizard, by Paul Karasik and R. Sikoryak.

That story follows a few featuring more traditional targets of parody, like a Western-themed story starring SpongeBob regular Mermaid Man, who is basically just Silver Age Aquaman with sea shells over his nipples and a starfish in the middle of his face, and another in which Squidward becomes Batman parody the Squishy Knight and SpongeBob becomes "Multi-Purpose Sponge, the hero with a different costume in every panel" (which allows for panel after panel of SpongeBob dressed as various Marvel and DC superheroes).

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Number One Guy: Why Michael Keaton Is Cinema’s Best Batman

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There have been five men to portray Batman in the character's eight live-action feature-length films, from Adam West in Batman '66 to Christain Bale in 2012's The Dark Knight Rises. All five actors came with their strengths and weaknesses, but the best was Michael Keaton, who played the DC Comics superhero in 1989's Batman and 1992's Batman Returns.

In the first major scene of Batman '89, Keaton famously grabs a terrified mugger by the collar, holds him off the side of a building, pulls him close to his face, and hisses, "I'm Batman." As a 12-year old watching that moment on a VHS tape in my living room, I believed Michael Keaton. And I still believe him as a grown man watching it on DVD in my office 25 years later, even after having seen a half-dozen different Batman movies since.

I realize declaring Michael Keaton's performance as Batman to be not only my favorite Batman but the best Batman is a somewhat controversial statement, even (especially?) among my fellow writers at ComicsAlliance, but allow me to make my case.

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Assessor Evil, Part 7: And They All Lived Evilly Forever After…

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So what have you been up to the ast three months? If you're penciller David Finch or inker Richard Friend, you were probably drawing liking a maniac, while avoiding daily, shouty phone calls from editors, as the seven-issue, "monthly" series Forever Evil finally shipped its final issue this Wednesday, a good three months after its sixth issue dropped. The delay has caused some trouble in DC's line, as it delayed the release of tie-in issues, and created some glitches in storytlines (Perhaps the most notable was that two issues of the series Justice League United, which picks up where Justice League of America ended, shipped before the final issue of JLoA).

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Godzilla Comics: A Brief History Of Smashing Cities, Superheroes And Other Kaiju

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The new Godzilla film opening this weekend will be the 30th to star the worlds' most famous giant monster. Toho made 28 Godzilla films in Japan, divided by fans into three cycles, each with their own continuity—the Showa series, the Heisei series and the Millennium series—and then there was the ill-fated 1998 Roland Emmerich-directed film that served as a sort of How Not To Make a Godzilla Movie cautionary tale for the makers of the new film.

While the movies are undoubtedly Godzilla's source turf, he's expanded his territory into other media over the years, from cartoon series to prose novels to video games -- and, of course, comic books, which he's been starring in for nearly 40 years now. With that in mind, we present a helpful primer for the King of Monsters' adventures on the paneled page.

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Assessor Evil, Part 6: For a Change of Pace, Someone Loses a Leg

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DC Comics' event series pitting its bad guys again some even worse guys from another universe reaches its penultimate installment this week, as the home team of villains finally takes the fight to the evil invaders from Earth-3, the evil universe! Which of course means our super-close reading of this superhero epic also reaches its penultimate installments.

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Assessor Evil 5: OMG They Cut **Another** Guy’s Arm Off

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The latest issue of DC Comics' Forever Evil opens as the previous four did, with Lex Luthor sharing a little anecdote about his childhood that somehow relates to the current state of affairs. In this issue, it ends with Luthor telling readers that "48 hours ago, a group of beings called the Crime Syndicate came to our world and declared it theirs."

Forty-eight hours! That's only two days! But man, this story seems like it's been going on for months now. Like, at least five months.

So let's refresh our memories. The Crime Syndicate of Earth-3? Ascendant. The heroes of all three Justice Leagues? MIA. The Society? Running rampant. Dick "Nightwing" Grayson? Publicly outted and held captive by the Syndicate. Earth's only hope? Batman, Catwoman, Lex Luthor and a small band of disaffected villains, who were just about to get in a big fight at the end of Forever Evil #4. But then Power Ring appeared with a group of Society members crashed through one wall, and Sinestro crashed through the other.

And that can only mean one thing: A big fight. Wait, two things: There are only two walls left in the big, empty Wayne Enterprises room everyone is convening in. It is now a structurally unsound, and likely quite drafty, building.

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Ant-Man: Cartoonist Michael DeForge On His Graphic Novel ‘Ant Colony’ [Interview]

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A prophetic child, full of microscopic earthworms and coated in pollen by bees. The child's nihilistic, sociopath of a father. A cowardly police officer. A pair of homosexuals beginning to drift apart. An infertile female. These are the ants of Michael DeForge's graphic novel Ant Colony, the collected, book form version of his once-serialized strip Ant Comic.

Readers follow them through the weird, black comedy of the waning days of their home colony—some of which is caused by the ants themselves, most of which is due to a war with a colony of red ants—as these survivors wander away and consider forming their own, new colony.

DeForge's ants are his own, centaur-shaped, many-legged creatures with human-ish faces of bright, primary colors and visible organs shining through their black exoskeletons. Their world is full of strangely-designed insects, ranging from bees shaped like the sort a young child might draw, and a giant, human-shaped, scary H.R. Giger goddess of a queen ant.

Despite their shapes, his ants live, think and act like humans...or is human life maybe not so different from that of ants? That's one of the many existential questions one can meditate on while reading Ant Colony, when one's not digging the semi-psychedelic character designs or the razor sharp sit-com gags (Typical punchline? "Should we kill this baby?").

DeForge is currently touring in support of the book, and we took the opportunity to ask him where these his strange insects came from, how his gag strip about ants evolved into a sweeping epic and how he learned to draw like Michael DeForge.

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Lucy Knisley on Her Upcoming Fantagraphics Travelogues ‘An Age of License’ and ‘Displacement’ [Interview]

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In mid-September of 2011, cartoonist Lucy Knisley and her friend Jane, who worked in the wine business in France, were at a tasting after-party when their host observed they both had unconventional careers. He put this down to the fact that they were in their "age of license," that time in your life when you're young and free enough to experiment.

Knisley took the phrase for the title of her next book, one of the two travelogues that Fantagraphics will be publishing. An Age of License, due this fall, chronicles a 2011 trip to attend a Norwegian comics convention, which Knisley uses to visit friends and family in Europe, and spend an extremely intense time with Henrik, a Swedish boy she had just met in New York. The second book, Displacement, is scheduled for summer of next year, and tells the story of a 2012 cruise with her elderly grandparents.

Both trips took place between the time she had completed Relish, her acclaimed, three-years-in-the-making memoir about food and growing up, but before First Second had published it in 2013,  which seemingly catapulted the young, not-yet-thirty artist into a whole new level of cartooning success than she had been able to achieve with her previous work, like the 2008 travelogue French Milk and her mini-comics and anthology contributions.

The two new travelogues obviously aren't due in comics shops any time soon, but that doesn't mean the announcement didn't get a lot of folks excited, us included. We took the opportunity to talk to Knisley about the books, how they compare to her previously published work and what we can look forward to from them.

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Assessor Evil, Part 4: Growing Balls Of Green Fire ['Forever Evil' #4 Spoilers]

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In the pages of Forever Evil, the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 -- the evil opposites of Earth-New 52's greatest heroes (plus an evil opposite of Alfred Pennyworth) -- have conquered the world!

The master villains have come up with a particularly brilliant plan to rid themselves of the DC Universe's heroes, trapping them all in sinister tie-in comics well beyond the pages of the main series. If you're wondering who's where, you can find most of the Justice Leaguers trapped in a weird prison in the pages of Justice League of America; Steve Trevor and his military team are in Forever Evil: ARGUS; the Teen Titans got sent into the future in the pages of Teen Titans; and all the magic guys are embroiled in their own 18-part tie-in crossover "Forever Evil: Blight", which is, amazingly, going to end up being much longer than Forever Evil itself will be. They don't call the Crime Syndicate villains for nothing.

It looks like the only forces left to challenge the Syndicate now are a handful of free-thinking bad-guys under the leadership of Lex Luthor, and Batman and his remaining Justice League allies, Catwoman and Cyborg. If they can  put aside their differences and work together, they just might have a chance at saving the world from the clutches of the Crime Syndicate.

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