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Girl Fight: The Marvel/DC Rivalry Finally Extends To Winning The Female Audience

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Marvel launches the eighth of its nine solo titles with a female lead in November with Spider-Woman #1, and the book sadly already has a cloud over it. A variant cover by master erotic artist Milo Manara stirred enough controversy last week to garner mainstream attention. The cover featured Spider-Woman with her apple-shaped butt raised high in decidedly unheroic manner. It was exactly what one would expect from Manara, who has created a number of superheroine illustrations for Marvel, but the image suggested a particularly overt tone of sexual objectification that could alienate the sort of readers who attended the Women In Marvel panel at San Diego where the series was announced.

As far as I can recall, Marvel has more female solo titles now than ever before, with a ninth title, Angela: Asgard's Assassin, launching in December. On paper, that suggests a laudable effort to reach out to superhero comics' growing and under-served audience of female readers. Yet the Manara incident serves to remind us that books about women can very easily be targeted to a male audience.

There's currently an unspoken contest between Marvel and DC to see who can produce more comics aimed at a female audience. It's possible the contest only exists in my head, as I've been keeping a tally of solo titles with female leads for the past several months -- but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that editors at the two publishers have also been keeping track.

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Ask Chris #208: Worlds Will Live, Worlds Will Die, And ‘Crisis On Infinite Earths’ Is Basically A Mess

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Q: I was reading your column about New Teen Titans where you said Crisis on Infinite Earths was a mess, but a topic for another time. Care to explain now? -- @jeremyliveshere

A: The one thing you can't say about Crisis on Infinite Earths is that it didn't deliver on its promise. In a time when "event" comics were still in their infancy, Crisis came out of the gate promising to be the biggest thing that had ever or would ever hit comics, and looking back on it from almost thirty years later, it's hard not to admit that even with a comic rolling out every six months like clockwork that promises to change everything forever, it's still the one that actually did it. Worlds did live, worlds did die, and nothing actually was the same again.

It just also happens to be a story that's a complete friggin' mess.

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Brubaker & Phillips’ Hollywood Noir ‘The Fade Out’ Is Their Most Ambitious Collaboration Yet [Review]

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We can all agree that Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips form one of the most successful comics collaborations of all time, right? Over the last fifteen years the pair have routinely produced some of the best comics of the present age -- Sleeper, Incognito, about a thousand pages of Criminal, and the just-completed Fatale. They're the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby of smart, stylish, noir-tinged genre comics. Whenever their names appear together on a cover, it's practically a guarantee of excellence.

Now, after years of telling stories influenced by classic film noir, Brubaker and Phillips head directly to the source with The Fade Out, a dark and enthralling mystery about the dark truths behind the myth of old Hollywood.

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Rachel & Miles X-Plain The X-Men: The Brood They Carried

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Welcome back to Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men, a weekly podcast in which X-Perts Rachel Edidin and Miles Stokes explore the ins, outs, and retcons of fifty years of Marvel’s greatest superhero soap opera!

This week: Claremont levels up; the Brood are legitimately scary; Colossus is an ethical dude; Nightcrawler and Wolverine share beers in the face of certain death; Storm turns into a space whale; we are Carol Corps for life; New Mutants are really into Magnum, P.I.; Kitty meets a dragon; and Xavier dies (again).

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Original Spin 7: Watch This: Space! [Marvel Original Sin Recap]

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It's the penultimate edition of Original Spin, our exclusive beside-the-scenes examin-xploratio-tainment of Marvel's big summer crossover event, That One Before Axis, by Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato. Yes, that's right, it's the big crossover event Marvel has kind of already forgotten about because it's so busy hyping up the next crossover event! (Though Marvel hasn't quite got around to telling us what that next event is about. Something something Bizarro Red Skull Onslaught? Buy the book, kids! It has Wolverine in... oh wait no.)

Yes, Marvel has already moved on to the next thing, but we at ComicsAlliance are still here, dutifully and patiently waiting for this event to finish. Sure, this recap is a week late, but I said we're dutiful, not quick. In this issue, we find out once and for all who killed the Watcher! Mmmaybe. Maybe not. I'm not really clear on that. Red Skulls are Onslaughts now; everything is crazy. Spoilers follow!

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Here’s The Thing, Episode 21: A Brief History Of Firestorm [Video]

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If our weekly Ask Chris column isn't enough of definitive comic book (and pro wrestling) opinions for you, good news: ComicsAlliance is proud to present Here's The Thing, a series of videos where you can join our own extremely opinionated senior writer, Chris Sims, as he dives into comics history to explain why you're wrong and he's right.

This week, a few viewers write in to ask about the history of Firestorm, a relatively obscure DC Comics character who was most prominent in the 1980s. As you may already know, obscure DC characters from the '80s are Chris's entire jam, which sends him on a long explanation of who Firestorm is and how he came to be, from the DC Implosion to Brave and the Bold.

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This Review Is In The Form of a Live Dissection: The Multiversity Annotations, Part 1

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Teased for years and finally launched this week, The Multiversity is a universe-jumping series of DC Comics one-shots tracking the cosmic monitor Nix Uotan and an assemblage of star-crossed heroes as they attempt to save 52 universes and beyond from a trippy cosmic existential threat that, like much of Morrison’s best work, represents something far more mundane and relatable. Tying back into the very first Multiverse story in DC’s history, the heroes of these universes become aware of this threat by reading about it in comic books… comic books that, it turns out, take place in neighboring universes. Indeed, writer Grant Morrison continues his streak of highly metatextual DC cosmic epics with this eight-issue mega-series (plus one Tolkienesque guidebook).

Described by Morrison as "the ultimate statement of what DC is", The Multiversity naturally offers the reader much beyond the surface level adventure, and that means annotations. Rather than merely filling out checklists of references, my hope with this feature is to slowly unearth and extrapolate a narrative model for Morrison and his collaborators' work on The Multiversity; an interconnecting web of themes and cause and effect that works both on literal and symbolic levels.

Three pages into the preview for The Multiversity #1, I knew I was going to have a lot to work with.

With no further ado, go get your erasers and your textbooks, close your laptops, sharpen your pencils, and get ready for some course notes. Let's go to school.

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The Arkham Sessions: The Psychology of The Joker & Harley, Electroshock, And Suicide Squadding

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The Arkham Sessions is dedicated to the psychology of Batman, so it seems almost like an ethical duty to cover a movie about Arkham Asylum, Gotham City's mental health facility for the "criminally insane." In the newly released direct-to-video animated film Batman: Assault on Arkham, a highly-skilled group of assassins and outlaws are called together by Amanda Waller to take part in a risky -- possibly life-threatening -- mission to infiltrate Arkham Asylum.

Does it help or hurt that members have a history of incarceration, criminal activity, and psychiatric treatment related to lack of moral sense? Perhaps Waller is brilliant to devise a plan that can only succeed via the knowledge and insight of persons who have been through the system.

In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, we gently put aside the VHS and screen a contemporary work from DC Universe Animated. Use the player above to listen to our spoiler-free analysis of Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, King Shark, Black Spider, Killer Frost, KB Beast, and, of course the Joker.

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Hire This Woman: Artist Elsa Charretier

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In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”

Artist Elsa Charretier has primarily produced comics in her home country of France, including previous works Aeternum Vale, an issue of Le Garde Républicain, and backup pages for the Image comic One Hit Wonder. Her current project, The Infinite Loop, which she's pencilling, inking, and coloring, had a very successful crowdfunding campaign.

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Rediscovering The Best Version Of Mark Miller In ‘Starlight’ With Goran Parlov

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When Mark Millar and Goran Parlov's Starlight was announced, I had mixed feelings. Goran Parlov may be one of the five best comics artists living today, and it sounded like a good idea: a retired hero in the mold of John Carter returns to the planet he once saved, decades after his prime, to be a hero once again.

But often it seems that no matter how good an idea is, Mark Millar can't help but screw it up. His love of sensationalism and his need to be controversial have sapped the power out of many of his strongest ideas, and I wasn't that surprised when our own Kevin Church ripped the first issue to shreds. I read it anyway, because Goran Parlov exists, and life is much better for it.

I was a little surprised to find out that I totally disagreed with Church's review. And I was shocked that the Mark Millar that I like actually decided to turn up.

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