We're on the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron, inside the new Avengers Tower; formerly Stark Tower and now converted to a de facto headquarters for the Earth’s mightiest heroes. It’s all very sleek and shiny and pretty much exactly what you'd expect from a place Tony Stark calls home. Except now, it's a complete disaster. There's broken glass scattered across the floor. Furniture is destroyed. There are giant gashes in the wall. There's a production assistant dramatically swinging a giant cape around (the actors film their fight scenes without the cape, and the cape is added later in post-production).
You don't have to look too hard to see the prevalence of difficult father-son relationships in the work of Jason Aaron. In Scalped with R.M. Guera, Dashiell Bad Horse was adrift in a sea of father figures, unable to choose his own path and incapable of avoiding the same fates that befell the father who left him. In 2014, Aaron launched Southern Bastards with Jason Latour, about a conflicted man who returns to the home of his dead father, a legendary lawman; and Men of Wrath with Ron Garney, is about a father-to-be on the run from his own dad, a hired killer.
Despite the prevalence of the topic in comics, Aaron has carved out his own niche when it comes to father-son relationships, with an unflinching perspective that rings truer than most.
The sixth issue of the series, Guidebook, while certainly the D&D-style sourcebook of the event and a guide to Morrison's vision of the DC multiverse, is also a necessary section of the overall story, answering many questions and asking others, as well as providing the introduction of the Empty Hand, the series' true villain and master of the monstrous Gentry.
It's structured as stories within stories --- Marcus To draws a segment with Li'l Batman and Atomic Batman on Earth-42, while Paulo Siqueira illustrates the New Gods, Kamandi and the history of the DC Multiverse in an intercut sequence taking place on Earth-51. Both of these stories intersect with pages from the Guidebook itself, designed by Rian Hughes with illustrations by a large number of artists.
Q: What are the qualities that allow a character to sustain a solo book, and why doesn't Martian Manhunter have any of them? -- @RichBurlew
A: I gotta tell you, Rich, this is a very interesting question, and I hope you'll forgive me if I completely ignore the first half so that I can talk about the second. I mean, let's be real with each other here, if I knew what qualities made for a successful solo character, I would probably be writing that comic instead of this column, and between the two of us, you're the one who's been doing a successful and beloved character-driven story for the past decade. If anything, I should probably be asking you.
The Martian Manhunter, however, has always been a really interesting character to me, if only because in terms of being a solo character, he's the definition of an also-ran. He's been around forever, but he's never quite clicked, and I think the simple reason for that is that there's nothing he does that isn't already done better by someone else.
ScreenCrush editor, comic-book lover, and undiagnosed masochist Matt Singer is systematically watching every single (American) comic-book movie ever made in the order in which they were released. This week in The Complete History of Comic-Book Movies: Welcome to the prehistoric Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Two weeks ago, First Second Books released The Sculptor, Scott McCloud's long-awaited, five-years-in-the-making, latest graphic novel. It's a complex and nuanced work that functions as both an emotionally rich personal statement, and a masterclass in graphic storytelling (not surprising, given McCloud's authorship of the seminal Understanding Comics, and its two sequels, Reinventing Comics, and Making Comics), and it's become an immediate commercial and critical success, shooting to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, and garnering a wealth of rave reviews.
The book tells the story of David Smith, a young sculptor living in New York City who makes a deal with Death that gives him only two hundred days to live, but allows him to shape any material, creating art with his bare hands from whatever he wishes… Which seems like a great deal, until he meets a mysterious woman named Meg, and falls desperately in love with her.
In the closing days of January, Vertigo released The Unwritten: Apocalypse #12, the final installment in Mike Carey and Peter Gross' fan-favorite meta-fictional fantasy saga. The series told the story of Tom Taylor, a man trying to live down the fact that his father used his name and likeness for the Harry Potter-esque hero of his best-selling fantasy novels. As the series begins, Tom is quickly pulled into a world where the lines between fiction and reality are not so clearly drawn.
To mark the conclusion of Carey and Gross's long-running narrative, we talked to both creators to learn about the entire history of the series from initial conception to final curtain.
ScreenCrush editor, comic-book lover, and undiagnosed masochist Matt Singer is systematically watching every single (American) comic-book movie ever made in the order in which they were released. This week in The Complete History of Comic-Book Movies: The Dark Knight makes his first appearance on the big screen):
On a brisk afternoon in January, a collective of custom action figure creators banded together to present their works to a captive audience in a tiny gallery in Manhattan. An art show on a weekend is nothing new for the Meatpacking district, but it's rare for the likes of Aragorn, Wolverine, Mr. Freeze and the Mario Brothers to be the stars of the show.
The custom creation side of the hobby has been around almost as long as action figures have been in existence. In recent years, however, the do-it-yourself-ers that were once relegated to sharing their work on forums and chat rooms have found a larger audience thanks to the advent of better social networks and sharing options on the Internet. The rise to prominence of Instagram and Tumblr have given these artists a way to share their unique takes on familiar faces or even wholly original creations with more people than ever.
Since Scott McCloud first shot onto the cultural radar in the mid-80s, with his "reconstructionist" superhero series Zot!, he's been known as one of the modern masters of the comics form – his seminal 1993 volume Understanding Comics set a benchmark for intelligent analysis of graphic narrative language and technique (and became a go-to reference for college courses worldwide), his sequels, Reinventing Comics (2000) and Making Comics (2006) met with critical and commercial success, and his 1998 graphic novel The New Adventures Of Abraham Lincoln remains a fascinating and underrated attempt at melding the worlds of traditional and computer-generated cartooning. He's written a heaping handful of Superman stories, spoken and lectured around the world, and established himself as a comic creator, commentator, scholar and theorist without peer.
And this week, First Second Books is releasing his latest work, the five-years-in-the-making opus The Sculptor, the story of David Smith, a young sculptor living in New York City who makes a deal with Death that gives him only two hundred days to live, but allows him to shape any material, creating art with his bare hands from whatever he wishes…