James Baldwin once described America as a "country devoted to the death of the paradox." He was right, of course. We're more comfortable seeing things in extremes, in black and white. A person from one culture or background can be instantly labeled as an upstanding citizen, exemplifying everything good about "real America." Superman is from Kansas, not San Francisco.
But if you're from another background, you can be instantly labeled as something else entirely: lazy, entitled, a thug, "Un-American." To many, there are those who fit into a certain label based on where they grew up, what school they went to, what church they attend. To think otherwise, to consider that there is more to us than blanket, largely basely assumptions, isn't as easy. And for many, it's too uncomfortable. It's too much work.
Ms. Marvel #1 stands in stark contrast to that sentiment. Written by G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by Adrian Alphona, each major character introduced in this first issue is a celebration and exploration of the paradox. It is a book full of characters who remind you of people you know, or people you knew. It's a book that's unique, but nonetheless familiar. It is also, by almost any measure, one of the best first issues of a superhero comic in years. And, if we're being honest, it probably needed to be.
After almost 20 years of great stories from the same team of creators, you could probably be forgiven for thinking that a comic book might run out of steam just a little, but the return of Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson and Alex Ross'sAstro City last year proved that wrong by a long shot. It is, with no exaggeration, as good as or better than it's ever been before, taking the idea of focusing on "ordinary people" in a world of superheroes into new directions with amazing, heartfelt stories. With May's Astro City #12, they're adding another wrinkle: For the first time in the history of the series, another artist will take on a regular issue of the series: Graham Nolan, best known for his work on Batman.
To find out why the decision was made to open up their book to another artist after so long and why Nolan was the best fit for the story, I spoke to Kurt Busiek about art, scheduling, and the return of Astro City.
The chief spokesman for the former camp, Dennis Barger, Jr. of WonderWorld Comics in Michigan, said the cover sexualized young girls and was just not appropriate for children, who are the future of the comics industry. He's got a point, but whether it's the Powerpuff Girls cover he should be going after is debatable.
A: Comic book lettering is up there with inking and coloring in the holy trinity of underrated comic book skills, but it's also one of those things that, once you start paying attention to it, you'll never be able to not notice it again. I'm not exaggerating even a little bit when I say that it's one of those things that can absolutely ruin a comic if it's done wrong, even if everything else is perfect. But to be honest, of those three elements, lettering is still probably the most underrated.
The thing is, when it's good, it can be absolutely gorgeous in its own right. And fortunately for us, there are a lot of people who do it very, very well.
Last week, two of the very small handful of writers still working on DC Comics' New 52 titles they launched announced they were finally ending their runs. In the case of Teen Titans writer Scott Lobdell, the catalyst was the complete cancellation of the title with issue #30. Nightwing, meanwhile, will continue, but Kyle Higgins won't be writing it.
A distinctly different animal than the independent cartoonist, creators-owned collaboration or even work-for-hire artist, writing gigs in ongoing cape comics have always been fluid, but the turnover seems to be faster and more common now than it's ever been. Whether a result of cancellations, writers moving on to other things (often finite, creator-owned work), or creative differences with editorial, Marvel and DC writer runs are getting shorter and shorter.
Over the past few years, Deathstroke the Terminator has become something of a go-to villain for DC comics. It's no exaggeration to say that he's one of the most prominent DC characters in media outside of comics. Since appearing as Slade in Teen Titans, we've seen that guy on TV shows with Smallville and Arrow, in video games with Arkham Origins and Injustice, and just recently, it was announced that he's been thrown into the animated adaptation of Batman & Son, a story that already had Ra's al-Ghul, Talia and ninja man-bats -- and that's even if you cut out the part where Darkseid uses time-rays that he shoots out of his eyes to send Batman back to caveman days, which is understandable if you're trying to fit something into an 80-minute Cartoon Network time slot.
Point being, we're living in a time when Deathstroke has risen to become one of DC's most prominent villains, and arguably one of their most popular characters, but every time I see him, I just can't get my mind around how exactly that happened -- and more importantly, why it keeps on happening.
Pending any announcements this convention season, that means a lot of fan favorite characters now go back into mothballs, including Marvel's premier gay teen couple, Wiccan and Hulkling, and breakout fashion icon Miss America. But the one I'll miss the most? Marvel's first male pin-up; Marvel Boy.
Marvel Studios unveiled surely its strangest casting decision to date this week when it announced that Michael Douglas will play the role of Hank Pym in 2015's Ant-Man movie. Marvel also confirmed that the already announced Paul Rudd will take the role of Scott Lang, the second man to don the Ant-Man helmet.
The announcement was a surprise that elicited a Batfleck-esque response from some of the intended audience - myself included. Something about Douglas-as-Pym didn't sit right with me. Was this an irrational reflex, or is there a reason this casting set alarm bells ringing?
The twelfth episode of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD officially takes us past the halfway point of the season; there are now more episodes behind us than ahead. You'd think I'd be relieved given how disappointing the show has been, but I'm actually worried that time is running out to make the show work.
This week; Agents of SHIELD goes back to school. But what do they learn?
On the list of things I'm a complete and total sucker for, outer-space westerns are up at the top of the list, right under comics about Batman punching a gorilla or crocodile. I love those things, and the more obvious the connection to westerns, the more I tend to love it. Cowboy Bebop? Great. Firefly, with its train robberies and galactic civil war veterans? Yes. Heck, I've even got a passing interest in BraveStarr, and that thing is so on the nose that it takes place on "Planet Texas." Seriously, you put cosmic six-shooters and I'm basically in, no questions asked.
Of course, it helps if the end product is actually good, too, and while it was the premise and a quick look at the art that got my interest piqued in the first place, Matthew Ritter and Adam Elbatimy's Nova Phase is every bit as good as I wanted it to be.
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