The big headline on Publishers Weekly’s site when it published the results of its comics retailer survey last month blared that comics sales were down during the early months of 2014, though retailers seem relatively optimistic about it.
What comes after is a sometimes difficult-to-parse snapshot of the world of comics as it looks now. It’s not necessarily a bleak picture, but it’s very clearly one that portrays an industry may not be able to sustain itself as it is now. Change is occurring, and here are some key items from the report that show how, and what might be changing.
Monica Rambeau is on her fourth superhero codename. In the pages of Mighty Avengers she's Spectrum, having previously gone by Captain Marvel, Photon and Pulsar. The Captain Marvel identity now belongs to Carol Danvers, also on her fourth codename after Ms. Marvel, Binary and Warbird. Her first codename now belongs to Kamala Khan, the fourth Ms. Marvel after Danvers, Sharon Ventura and Karla Sofen.
But Carol is actually the third woman (and seventh character) to call herself Captain Marvel in the Marvel Universe. The second woman was Phyla-Vell, who was the fourth Captain Marvel after she was the second Quasar, before she was the first Martyr, before she saved herself the trouble of another codename by dying. Oh, those women! They never know who they are!
Q: What was so good about Power Rangers RPM? -- @ykarps
A: That's right, everyone: After deciding on a whim last year to sit down and watch every single episode of Power Rangers ever produced, all seven hundred and seventy-five (and counting), and last week, I finally did it when I made it through 2009's Power Rangers RPM. I'd already seen Samurai, and I'd been watching Megaforce as it aired, so that was it. And I wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.
But while I was watching it, I came to the conclusion that as much as I like Samurai and Jungle Fury and Ninja Storm -- in which a trio of teens give up on hiding their Kiwi accents about six episodes in -- there's not even a contest about which series is the best. RPM wins that argument hands down... and I kind of hate to say that.
If you were reading Marvel Comics in 1999, you read Fastlane. For four solid months, it was absolutely unavoidable, aneight-page anti-marijuana insert that would pop up right in the middle of every single Marvel Comic to let you know about the dangers of weed, a drug that was glorified in the media and would lead users to a dangerous world of addiction and deadly hallucinations that was so over the top even the producers of Dragnet thought that maybe they should tone it down a little. And if you're a certain kind of person who was reading Marvel Comics in the '90s, you actually kind of love it.
I mean, I do. And that's why, with 4/20 and all its attendant celebrations coming up this weekend, it's time for a look back on what might actually be the highest circulating (and most bizarre) Marvel Comic of all time with a Complete Oral History of Fastlane, from artist Gregg Schigiel, Editor Steve Behling, Head of Marvel Creative Services Mike Thomas, and Senior Vice President for Strategic Promotions and Advertising John Fraser.
“I think this woman is wrong about something on the Internet. Clearly my best course of action is to threaten her with rape.”
That’s crazy talk, right? So why does it happen all the time?
Honest question, dudes.
That women are harassed online is not news. That women in comics and the broader fandom cultures are harassed online is not news. That these women are routinely transmitted anonymous messages describing graphic sexual violence perpetrated upon them for transgressions as grave as not liking a thing… that is actually news to me, and it’s probably news to a lot of you guys reading this.
The best Superman comic book currently published is about to get even better this coming Monday with the addition ofSteve Rude, arguably one of today’s best living American comic book artists, and Jerry Ordway, one of the key Superman storytellers of the '80s and '90s, and a brilliant and influential artist in his own right. The pair have collaborated on a Superman story starring OMAC, a cult favorite creation of Rude’s own hero, Jack Kirby, for an Adventures of Superman digital short that they describe as " a lost Max Fleischer Superman cartoon."
ComicsAlliance spoke with Ordway and Rude to learn more about the 10-page adventure, their impressions of Superman in this day and age, the digital comics revolution, and how these accomplished but very distinctive creators worked together on the story.
Q: Why is Doctor Doom the gold standard of supervillains? -- @franzferdinand2
A: In case you missed it a few weeks back, I wrote a column about the differences between Lex Luthor and the Joker, and mentioned that while those are two characters I like an awful lot, Dr. Doom is far and away the gold standard of supervillainy. He's compelling, he's sinister, he's got a great design that's lasted, virtually unchanged, for 50 years, and he can be dropped into almost any type of story and work beautifully. In short, he's the single greatest villain in superhero comics history.
Well, unless you count Bob Kane, but that's a whole other thing.
Broadcasting Wednesday at 6:30pm (5:30pm CST) on Cartoon Network, Batman: Strange Days is the first all-new Dark Knight project authored principally by Bruce Timm in years and years. The latest of the DC Nation Shorts, the piece was conceived, written, storyboarded, designed and directed by Timm himself as a tribute to the original Batman comics by Bob Kane, Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson on the occasion of the character's 75th anniversary. And as Timm told ComicsAlliance in this exclusive interview, Strange Days is the Batman story that he would create if he was "boss of the world."
Q: Supposedly it takes three pages to hook a reader before they drop off, so what are the best opening three pages in a comic? -- @shutupadiran
A: Huh. I don't think it's going to surprise anyone to find out that I'm a dude who thinks a lot about how comic books are structured and what you can do within that structure, but I've never heard that bit about the first three pages being where you have to hook the reader. It makes sense, though -- when you look at it, those first three pages, along with the cover, form a distinct storytelling unit, and it's the first thing you see when you pick up and pop open a comic.
Thinking back on comics that I love, there's a really distinct pattern there. I like stuff that builds to a big last page just fine, but the ones that I tend to rave about when those first issues hit always open up strong. It's like the first five seconds of a song. Some of them might build to a crescendo as they go along, but when you have something like the famous beat from "Be My Baby" or the opening harmonics from "I Get Around," you know instantly that you've got something.
True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto has claimed that Alan Moore Moore and Grant Morrison were the first writers to excite him about the possibilities of storytelling.
With everyone looking to solve the many remaining mysteries of True Detective, it’s tempting to ask: are comic books the key? Pizzolatto’s spectacular Moore crib aside, I’d go with with a big no. Ain’t nothing going to settle the debate around Carcosa let alone Marty Hart’s hot dating skills, but comics do represent a largely unexplored and appropriately strange route into the show. So without further ado here’s our by no means exhaustive guide to True Detective and weird comic books.
SPOILER WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for True Detective, Top 10, From Hell and some of The Invisibles.
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