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‘Mad Men’ With Capes: Kyle Higgins & Alec Siegel Talk ‘C.O.W.L.’ At Comic-Con 2014 [Video]

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COWL is an Image Comics series which stylishly depicts an alternate history Chicago of the pre-”swinging” 1960s, when the (in)famously political city experienced all manner of socioeconomic upheaval — including the dissolution of the Chicago Organized Workers League. Also known as COWL, it’s a union for costumed superheroes, and its days are numbered.

Besides the very cool and original artwork of Rod Reis, we like COWL because it avoids some traps into which most non-Marvel and non-DC cape comics fall. Crucially, despite its “real-world” premise and period setting, COWL is not a Watchmen cover version, offering a decidedly less dour tone and honest-to-god superhero adventure blended deftly with its dramatic take on city politics. Sometimes it’s even really funny. The book also bucks the origin fetish of the superhero genre by introducing us to its intriguing cast not at the start of their sagas, but at what might be the end.

Last week at Comic-Con International in San Diego, we had a chance to talk to COWL co-writers Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel about their series.

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Starting With Character: Matt Kindt And Jeff Lemire Discuss ‘The Valiant’ [Interview]

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Matt Kindt and Jeff Lemire, the co-writers of the upcoming miniseries The Valiant -- a prestige-format miniseries featuring Bloodshot, Geomancer and Eternal Warrior -- have each done superhero work in the past, but they've really made their names with creator-owned work that they wrote and drew. Kindt's Mind MGMT has taken off, and Lemire struck a chord with series including Sweet Tooth and Trillium.

Those credentials are part of why Valiant invited the two creators to work on the new miniseries -- one that's being touted as an entry point for new readers, but also as a turning point for the whole Valiant Universe. They've been given some wiggle room to develop a character-based story and put their creative voices to work. The result is something both writers seem really proud of, not to mention a story that's bound to look good, with artwork by Paolo Rivera.

We sat down with Lemire and Kindt at San Diego Comic-Con International to ask them about their collaboration, how their backgrounds in cartooning inform their superhero work, and how Valiant's universe differs from others.

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Archie’s Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa Announces ‘Afterlife’ Followup ‘Archie Is Legend’ [Video]

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Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is the chief creative officer of Archie Comics and the writer on both the critically acclaimed oddball horror comic Afterlife With Archie and the forthcoming Sabrina the Teenage Witch series -- and he's helping oversee a huge creative renaissance at Archie.

Chris Sims caught up with Aguirre-Sacasa at San Diego Comic-Con to talk about the Dark Circle relaunch and the Shield redesign, the 1960s setting of his Sabrina horror comic, the chances of a Josie and the Pussycats appearance in Afterlife With Archie, and whether there's such a thing as "too far" in an Archie zombie horror comic! Plus... any chance of an appearance by Jingles the Christmas Elf in the forthcoming Afterlife With Archie Christmas Special? (Yes, that's a real thing.)

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I, Vader: Kieron Gillen & Salvador Larroca Talk ‘Star Wars: Darth Vader’ [Interview]

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Few in the Star Wars universe are more enigmatic, more revered, or more quoted than Darth Vader. And yet, despite being introduced to Vader's conflicted adolescence and troubled past in George Lucas' most recent film trilogy, we are still not fully aware of who the galaxy's most sinister villain really is beneath that obsidian faceplate. Sure, some of us root for the rebels. Some align with the Empire. But we all, without a doubt, want to peek under the mask of the most interesting villain in the universe; especially during that mysterious time between the first Death Star's destruction and The Empire Strikes Back.

Now we finally get more pieces of the personality puzzle with a story taking place during a time when Vader's vengeful thirst for power solidifies. It's a period explored before in various Expanded Universe stories, but never before by Kieron Gillen (Young Avengers, The Wicked + The Divine) and Salvador Larroca (Invincible Iron Man, Uncanny Avengers). Their new ongoing series, Star Wars: Darth Vader, is one of three new series announced by Marvel at Comic-Con International in San Diego over the weekend, the first since Marvel acquired the Star Wars comic book license as a consequence of Lucasfilm's acquisition with Marvel parent Disney.

We spoke to the creative team, cover artist about the psychology of sci-fi's most famous villain and what to expect from the new ongoing series.

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Unapologetically Strong: Mark Waid & Terry Dodson Talk ‘Star Wars: Princess Leia’ [Interview]

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Princess Leia is, of course, one of the most famous characters in science fiction, and very arguably the most famous female character. She's iconic, recognizable, and quotable. Leia is a character with a lot of implied depth that the Star Wars movies didn’t fully explore, even across three films in which she appeared. Of course, hardcore Star Wars fans could tell you a lot about Leia's numerous adventures in the Expanded Universe of novels, comics and games, but as evidenced by Marvel's plans to start anew with its own adventures that are fully canonical with the films and new animated series, there's something to be said for offering film fans a fresh start with this most important character.

That start is to be facilitated by some of American superhero comics' most popular creators: writer Mark Waid and penciller Terry Dodson, who along with editor Jordan D. White spoke with ComicsAlliance about their auspicious new gig.

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Amy Reeder Talks Rocket Girl, Kickstarter And Redeeming ’80s Fashion [Interview]

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Amy Reeder made a name for herself in the comics scene with Fools Gold from Tokyopop, but became a favorite of comics art lovers for her excellent occasionally breathtaking work on Vertigo's Madame Xanadu, which saw the versatile stylist to depict a complex and beautiful heroine across vast expanses of time and in all the aesthetic luxury that affords. Her profile rose further with a major level up on Batwoman, synthesizing her manga storytelling influence with tightly rendered yet loose and dynamic action. Whether you quiet scenes with exquisite facial expressions and palpable mood, or diverse body types in the throes of big splash-page comic book action, Reeder's got you covered.

Possibly the most Reeder book ever, Rocket Girl is about a teenage girl who's a cop in the future sent back to the middle of the 1980s to investigate Time Crimes, and in so doing discovers secrets that reveal her utopian home-time isn't so great after all. The premise allows Reeder to indulge herself fully, and in the best sense possible. Full of action, fashion and drama, Rocket Girl is a pleasure to read -- partly because it's obvious that its artist has so much fun drawing it.

We sat down with Amy Reeder at Comic-Con International in San Diego to talk about Rocket Girl, Kickstarter, and the evolution of her unmistakable style.

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Take Care Of Yourself: ‘Batman’ Mastermind Scott Snyder On The Psychology Of Heroes, Villains And Writers [Interview]

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Writer of ComicsAlliance favorites The Wake and Batman, Scott Snyder is enjoying a kind of imperial phase of his comic book career, where everything he releases is met with commercial popularity as well as critical success. A long form collaboration with artists Greg Capullo, Danny Miki and FCO Plascencia, Batman has been the unquestionable leader of DC Comics' "New 52" line of superhero titles, routinely appearing in the #1 spot of monthly sales charts and just completing a wild and operatic revision of the Dark Knight's origin story in "Zero Year" -- an arc that CA's resident Batmanologist Chris Sims suspects may go down as one of his favorite Batman stories of all time.

But beneath Batman's twisty plots and memorably big moments lies the true trademark of Snyder's work; a conscious, almost intuitive sense of his characters' psychology and inner lives. It's Snyder's fundamental understanding of his heroes and villains that drives all the occasionally over-the-top action of his series, and of Batman especially.

Dr. Andrea Letamendi is a clinical psychologist and co-host of The Arkham Sessions -- the ComicsAlliance feature focused exclusively on psychology as expressed in Batman: The Animated Series -- and she sat down with Snyder at Comic-Con International in San Diego for a chat about the themes of mental health in not just his work, but in his own life.

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‘Angela: Asgard’s Assassin’ Creators On The Scariest Woman In The Galaxy [Interview]

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Marvel is committing fully to Angela with the character's first ongoing series, Angela: Asgard's Assassin, which comes with yet more surprises. It's a solo title starring a female lead, which of course is still rare in American superhero comics, and it's also drawn by Phil Jimenez, whose long association with certain amazon princesses and other distinctly powerful women characters sends a very loud and clear message about Marvel's intentions for Angela.

Joining Jimenez is writer Kieron Gillen, himself one of Marvle's most acclaimed Asgardian scholars, if you will, having done very well regarded runs on Journey Into Mystery and Thor. Also writing Angela is Marguerite Bennett, who's penned numerous books for DC and other publishers, but who this year landed two ongoings in the form of Angela and the recently announced Sleepy Hollow. As part of the book's unique "stories-within-stories" structure that you'll read about below, Bennett will collaborate with noted cover artist and illustrator Stephanie Hans, who's making a relatively rare visit to the realm of sequential storytelling to help make Angela that much more distinct.

ComicsAlliance spoke with all four creators and series editor Wil Moss about the endlessly impressive surprise that is Angela.

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Vampire Batman, Hypnotic Induction, And God: Grant Morrison Talks ‘The Multiversity’ [Interview]

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For years now, DC Comics fans have been hearing about writer Grant Morrison's The Multiversity -- a universe-jumping series of one-shot stories tied together by an introductory and concluding issue that tracks the cosmic monitor Nix Woton as he tries to save multiple universes from an existential threat. Universes that become aware of this threat by reading about it in comic books... comic books that, it turns out, take place in neighboring universes. We first saw artwork from Frank Quitely's installment all the way back in 2012, but the project has been in the works since even before the advent of DC's line-wide 2011 reboot, the New 52 (a name that has proven confusing in the past, but, we promise, never more so than in this interview).

Now it's finally starting next month, featuring auspicious collaborations with artists including Cameron Stewart, Ben Oliver, Chris Sprouse, Ivan Reis, Frank Quitely, and even more besides, introducing readers to a Vampire Batman, a Nazi Superman, a dinosaur cop, "Sister Miracle," an evil comic book called Ultra Comics, and tons of other ideas inspired by the deep history of DC Comics lore.

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From Under Mountains: Marian Churchland, Claire Gibson and Sloan Leong Subvert Clichés With A New Fantasy Adventure

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There will be magic in From Under Mountains, an ongoing fantasy series coming from Image in 2015 and announced at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Set in the world of Akhara, the story introduces us to a lord's daughter, a disgraced knight, and a runaway thief whose unlikely partnership will change the course of a world locked in a bitter conflict between rival clans. There will be goblins and witches and knights as well, lost in the churning of a world in turmoil. Great houses will square off for power. Thieves will dash into the shadows. Naïve youths will learn that the world is vaster and more terrible than they ever imagined. In these warm, well-worn ways, it will embrace the best that fantasy, as a genre has to offer: sweeping scope grounded in the lives of heroes, villains, and everything in between.

Creators Marian Churchland, Claire Gibson, and Sloane Leong have worked on everything from Elephantmen to magical girl comics about anthropomorphic wolves, and they are bringing their varied experience to bear upon From Under Mountains and the fantasy genre in ways both familiar and innovative. ComicsAlliance talked with them to discuss breaking new ground with thoughtfulness, experience, and memories of Ursula Le Guin.

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