The last of 2014's five superhero movies based on Marvel properties arrived in North American theaters this past weekend, and it was unlike anything we've ever seen from the Marvel stable before. Big Hero 6, from directors Don Hall and Chris Williams, is computer animated, aimed at kids, and stars a cast of characters that could leave even people who knew the Guardians Of The Galaxy a year ago scratching their heads and saying, "who?" And it's different in large part because Walt Disney Animation, not Marvel, was the studio behind it.
If you've seen the movie, join Comics Alliance for this spoiler-filled "post-view" look at what worked, what didn't, and why Big Hero 6 might just change the world. If you haven't seen the movie, avoid the spoilers, go see it, and come back.
The success of Harley Quinn seems to have taken everybody by surprise – including DC Comics, who suddenly finds itself with one of the most successful female-led ongoing series on the stands. Written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, with art (mostly) from Chad Hardin and colorist Alex Sinclair, letters by John J. Hill, Harley Quinn has proven to be a huge success with readers and retailers. And with volume one collected and out now in hardcover, it seemed like a good time to look back across the first nine issues and get a look at what all the fuss has been about.
Having been one of the creators who saved superhero comics in the 1990s, it can be difficult to think of Kurt Busiek as anything other than a superhero comic writer. But between all of his high-profile runs on big Marvel and DC books and undisputed classics Marvels and Astro City, Busiek has frequently played in the fantasy genre with great results. If you've never read The Wizard's Tale, Arrowsmith, or his run on Conan, you've been missing out on an aspect of Busiek's all-world talent that shouldn't be overlooked, and it's time to getcha life right.
Created by Busiek and Benjamin Dewey (I Was The Cat), Tooth & Claw is a fantasy about the end of magic, a mythical hero, and a dog-boy named Dunstan. And somehow, given all those words I just typed, it's also a dark Mature Readers comic about the suddenness and finality of death.
One of the lesser explored stanchions of the Western genre is the fairly consistent notion of the dominant invading culture moving into indigenous lands and, over time, brutally removing said peoples from that land. Usually our focus is so narrow within the genre that we rarely realize that this is exactly what is happening. The dreaded “Indian raids” of many a John Ford classic are lensed so thoroughly through the perspective of the white-faced hero or anti-hero that an audience can’t help but miss the absurdity of maligning sovereign nations responding to mass invasions by another sovereign nation. Go try and start a mass migration into Putin’s Russia and see how that goes for you.
I bring this up because Sergio Toppi’s The Collector is acutely focused on this precise issue. The collection of stories which make up this stunning tome from Archaia all occur on the knife’s edge of colonialism and western expansion -- and almost without fail, Toppi’s Collector sides with the invaded side rather than with colonizers the way his forebears -- and, really, antecedents -- might.
So last weekend, I almost started crying while I was reading a G.I. Joe comic at the Waffle House.
Everyone I've told that to since it happened has reacted with the same complete and utter lack of surprise. I can see why, too, since it's quite possibly the single most cartoonishly on-brand thing that I've ever done, but I certainly wasn't expecting to get choked up over hash browns over the death of an extremely minor character. But when I was reading through G.I. Joe #204 over breakfast and Dr. Adele Burkhart was killed, ending a 32-year career of being rescued by the soldiers of America's most toyetic Special MIssions Force, it broke my heart in a way that hasn't happened through comics in a long, long time.
Opening on November 7 is the new Disney animated hullabaloo titled ‘Big Hero 6.’ In ‘Big Hero 6,’ five regular human beings are brought together to fight crime alongside an inflatable robot doctor. I swear that all of this will make sense, kind of. Ahead, as a service to the world, we answer every question that you could possibly have about ‘Big Hero 6.’
Is she a being of love adrift in darkness, as portrayed by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang in their recently ended run? A dowdy wallflower, eternally at war with her own glamorous alter ego for Steve Trevor’s affection? George Pérez’s goddess of truth? Robert Kanigher’s wannabe wife? Greg Rucka’s diplomat? Gail Simone’s savior? Robert Valley's hot rod heroine? The Justice League’s secretary? Superman’s girlfriend? Batman’s girlfriend? Lynda Carter in satin tights? William Moulton Marston’s herald of benevolent matriarchy or the sexed-up uberbabe I met as a comics-curious child? Or, in the most macro sense—the one that most of the public operates on, when it comes to Wonder Woman—is she merely the century’s most generic t-shirt symbol of girl power?
Listen, Gotham Academy: I already liked you. You had me hooked from the very first promise of teen boarding school drama in a city full of supervillains with Batman showing up to try to reach these kids. That is exactly what I am into in virtually every way, and with the first issue being as good as it was, you didn't have to sell me on the series any harder than you already did.
But then you brought back Bookworm, and cemented your place as the single best comic on the stands today.
With a new hardcover omnibus of Alias by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, Marvel re-releases one of the most critically successful comics of the early 2000s. Apart from its various awards nominations and wins, it was one of just a few comics that everybody seemed to love, during an era when Marvel was equal parts creatively daring and ridiculously misguided. The first comic published under the mature readers MAX imprint, Alias officially broke ground on Marvel's R-rated label with an emphatic F-word, which immediately strikes one as both obvious and necessary. Unlike many other titles that sprung from the MAX imprint, though, Alias went far beyond than the gimmick of sex and cuss words in the Marvel Universe, and was easily one of the most readable comics on the stands for its entire twenty-eight-issue run.
That's just my memory, though, and I wouldn't exactly describe it as sharp. So how good is it on a re-read? Particularly as Marvel prepares a new live-action Netflix series based on the book, and has hinted as recently as last week that Jessica might be "getting back to work".
You probably haven't heard since they haven't really been making a big deal of it, but this year marks the official 75th Anniversary of Marvel Comics. Sort of. It actually marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of Marvel Comics #1, which introduced the world to the Human Torch and paved the way for the company that would eventually become the modern Marvel Comics which really came about in 1961, but you know what? That's a good enough reason for a party.
To that end, this week saw the release of the Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration, an anthology that caught my eye mostly because it features legendary and still hugely popular Batman: The Animated Series co-creator Bruce Timm adapting a Captain America story written by Stan Lee in 1941, and that is definitely something that I want to read. But with 55 pages in the anthology, there's a heck of a lot more in there besides, including the return of Alias by the original creative team of Bendis, Gaydos and Hollingsworth, and essays by comics journalists including our own Andrew Wheeler, making this one of those rare anthologies where it's all pretty good stuff.
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