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The Multiversity Annotations, Part 4: Pax Americana – ‘Not The Peace of the Grave or the Security of the Slave’

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The fourth issue of the series, Pax Americana with art by Frank Quitely, colors by Nathan Fairbairn and letters by Rob Leigh, is probably the most widely anticipated of the series, and certainly the most-hyped. It's Morrison's attempt to update and revise the structure of Watchmen, but applied to the original Charlton characters, as that Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons work was originally intended to in its first pitch. While Watchmen followed a strict nine-panel grid structure (some panels would be bisected or extended, but that was the general latticework on which everything hung), Pax Americana goes for eight, resembling not only harmonic octaves of music and colors of the rainbow that make up much of the multiversal structure Morrison is working with but also the "Algorithm 8" that allows President Harley to perceive the underpinning structure of the universe and use it to his advantage. That algorithm is, of course, the eight-panel grid (and the 8-shape made by one's eyes while reading the page) that forms the comic book universe he lives in.

The book moves backwards in eight color-coded sections, which I'll denote, that correspond to the evolutionary stages of humanity/a single person espoused by Don Beck and Chris Cowan's spiral dynamics, or, more specifically, Ken Wilber's later integral theory, which incorporated it. I'd never heard of it before this book, and from all research I've done there's a reason for that; it seems to be widely accepted as bunk pseudoscience by any academic institution, which makes it a perfect evolution of the original Question and Rorschach's stark black-and-white Randian Objectivism, while also tying into not only Pax's obsession with the number eight but its role in the Multiversity series as a whole, both due to the nature of music in octaves which makes up the structure of the DC multiverse as well as the colors of the rainbow that form the Source Wall.

This is a long one, so with no further ado...

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Ed Brubaker Looks Back On Batman, Part Two: Gotham Central And The Man Who Laughs

Batman: The Man Who Laughs, Ed Brubaker and Doug Mahnke

With long runs on hit titles like Captain America, Daredevil, Sleeper, Fatale, Criminal and more, writer Ed Brubaker has cemented his position as one of the most prominent writers in American comics, and he got his start with superheroes with Batman. After being brought in from the world of crime comics to write the Batman comics in 2000, Brubaker rose to prominence with his work on Gotham City's heroes, including cowriting the seminal Gotham Central, relaunching Catwoman with a critically acclaimed and influential new direction, and retelling the first encounter between Batman and the Joker.

This week, ComicsAlliance is taking a look back at Brubaker's tenure on the Dark Knight with an in-depth interview, and today, we continue our discussion of his work on Detective Comics and focus on two of his most well-known projects: Batman: The Man Who Laughs and Gotham Central.

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7 Reasons You Should Have Been Reading ‘Superior Foes Of Spider-Man’

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Honestly, it's pretty surprising Superior Foes of Spider-Man made it as far as 17 issues.

The title lacked star power in terms of characters (Spider-Man's name is in the title, but that was very nearly the full extent of the character's participation in the comic) and it fell into a genre that, for whatever reason, doesn't connect with readers all that often: the superhero universe comedy.

Yet, until it ended late last month, it was one of the best comics on the stands. Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber's tale of a group of C-list villains (and that's being generous) grouping together to be the new Sinister Six (despite there only being five of them) had more character, personality, playfulness, inventiveness and wit in its pages than most other comics coming out.

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A Great Lost Artist And His Unsung Masterpiece: Edvin Biukovic And ‘Devils & Deaths’

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Comic artist Edvin Biukovic died fifteen years ago this month at just 30 years old. His death was obviously a terrible loss to those who knew and loved him. It was also a terrible loss to the comic industry; Biukovic never received the level of lasting acclaim or recognition that his talent deserved, and produced relatively few works. Yet he was one of the finest comic artists of his generation.

Biukovic published several works in his native Croatia that have sadly never been translated. His finished English-language works include a couple of Star Wars stories published at Dark Horse, and the first of Peter Milligan's Human Target stories for Vertigo. One work stands as his masterpiece; Devils And Deaths, written by his long-time friend and collaborator Darko Macan, and published by Dark Horse, is a science fiction story about a country torn apart by ancient grudges and tribal conflicts, and of the desperate people trying to eke out a purpose in the midst of war.

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Ed Brubaker Looks Back On Batman, Part One: The Most Driven, Depressing, Exciting Character Of All Time

Batman by Ed Brubaker and Scott McDaniel

With long runs on hit titles like Captain America, Daredevil, Sleeper, Fatale, Criminal and more, writer Ed Brubaker has cemented his position as one of the most prominent writers in American comics, and he got his start with superheroes with Batman. After being brought in from the world of crime comics to write the Batman comics in 2001, Brubaker rose to prominence with his work on Gotham City's heroes, including cowriting the seminal Gotham Central, relaunching Catwoman with a critically acclaimed and influential new direction, and retelling the first encounter between Batman and the Joker.

This week, ComicsAlliance is taking a look back at Brubaker's tenure on the Dark Knight with an in-depth interview, and today, we start off with a look back at the writer's work on Batman and Detective Comics, discussing how he got the jobs, how Batman got him back into reading superhero comics, and the surprising character he picks out as a favorite.

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I Wanted This To Be Dangerous: Black Mask’s Matt Pizzolo Talks ‘Godkiller’ And Pushing The Limits Of Comics [Interview]

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Since co-founding Black Mask Studios with 30 Days Of Night writer Steve Niles and Epitaph Records owner (and legendary punk musician) Brett Gurewitz in 2012, Matt Pizzolo has established the company as a home for all manner of genre-busting, boundary-pushing comic books – their initial slate included the all-star Occupy Comics project, Darick Robertson and Adam Mortimer's hyper-violent sci-fi series Ballistic, Matt Miner's animal-liberation vigilante yarn Liberator, and Matthew Rosenberg and Ghostface Killah's 12 Reasons To Die.

Black Mask is now in the process of launching their second wave of titles, and first out the gate is Pizzolo's return to the role of comic creator, collaborating with artist Anna Muckcracker Wieszczyk on a new incarnation of his dystopian multi-media Godkiller project. Upon its release last month, Godkiller: Walk Among Us #1 became Black Mask's first ever title to go to a second-printing, and with #2 hitting comic shop shelves this week, we sat down to talk to Pizzolo about the inspirations for the series, his collaborative process, and his vision for Black Mask as a creative and commercial endeavor.

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Ask Chris #223: Prepare For Trouble, And Make It Double

Ask Chris #223 art by Erica Henderson

Q: Why aren’t there more heroic duos or “tag teams?” -- @awa64

A: Friend, I don't usually like to start off these columns by specifically denying the premise of the question, but there are a lot of heroic duos in the world of superhero comics. I mean, even if we're just limiting ourselves to the most famous superheroes out there, the top of that list is going to include both the World's Finest and the Dynamic Duo, and you don't have to look much harder to find other pairings further down the list.

Unless, of course, you're specifically asking why there aren't more actual pro wrestling tag teams that have taken up crime-fighting when they're not busy in the ring, in which case I have no idea, but rest assured that is something I want to see.

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Urban Legend: How Shalvey And Bellaire Cast New Light On Marvel’s ‘Moon Knight’

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Marvel’s recent relaunch of Moon Knight saw the white-clad vigilante pare things down to a bare minimum as he stalked the streets by night, taking down gangs, gunmen, and anything else that posed a threat to innocent people. In the hands of Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire, the character was reinvented, stepping away from past characterizations to form a new identity. Across just six issues the creative team stamped a brand on the book that may mark how people approach the character and concept from here onward.

From The Dead collects the entirety of Ellis, Shalvey and Bellaire's run on the book. It features a series of deft action sequences, and builds a convincing new world for Moon Knight to walk in, though Ellis's sparse and low-key scripts effectively cede the floor to the artists, allowing penciller Shalvey to create that world and colorist Bellaire to establish the tone. The series is a methodically structured exercise in comics storytelling, with Shalvey excelling in his depiction of a run-down, black and white world of straggling criminals.

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Ask Chris #222: This City Hates You

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: Can a setting, location, or place actually be "a character," as people often say about Gotham City or Bioshock's Rapture, and if so, what exactly does that mean? -- @Jon_Ore

A: Technically, no. No matter how well-developed or intriguing a setting is, no matter how many good stories have been set there or how characters and creators have talked about it, it's still just that: A setting. The action and development, even if they're a reaction to the setting or have effects on the setting, are all things that happen to characters. The setting just provides the backdrop.

Practically, though, they can be close enough that for all intents and purposes, they might as well be characters, with everything that comes with it.

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Putting The Sidekick In The Suit: Black Captain America, Female Thor, And The Illusion Of Progress

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I'm not excited for Sam Wilson as Captain America, and I'm not excited for a female Thor.

Now, I don't think these are totally wrongheaded things to do. I admire the impulse behind these changes, and I believe they come from a good place. In the abstract sense, I love the idea of Marvel featuring, in big, bold style, the adventures of a black man and a woman against the hordes of iniquity. I believe at least part of the motivation behind these changes is genuine in its altruism, and that it is not entirely invalidated by profit-seeking impulses. I want to believe in this initiative. I want to be excited. I do not want to be the curmudgeon in the corner, needlessly nitpicking everyone else's good time to pieces.

But it feels like a gimmick, and functions like a gimmick, and that’s because it is a gimmick. I give it perhaps two years — two years that only the most hard-core aficionados will end up able to recall, alongside their recollections of the foil covers era and that one time Doc Ock was Spider-Man.

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