The Marvel Comics line is about mid-way through its giant line-wide crossover event Secret Wars, in which reality has been rewritten by god-emperor Doom, and the heroes have been re-imagined more than a dozen times over in different domains paying tribute to stories from throughout Marvel's publishing history.
One of those domains is a version of House of M, another reality-rewriting crossover event that cast the Marvel heroes in different roles, which ran ten years ago. House of M launched the current era of Marvel events, kicking off a steady steam of universe-shaking storylines that continues into Secret Wars. To mark the tenth anniversary of House of M, and ten years of event-driven storytelling, we're asking you to determine which of these events was the very best.
The mythological demigod Hercules is bisexual. How you feel about that fact doesn't change the fact; the myths of antiquity have told us that Hercules loved women and men alike. Lustfulness is at the core of his character, and Hercules' appetites aren't limited by gender.
Like many ancient myths, and like much of history, Hercules' stories have been bowdlerized by those who think same-sex relationships are sinful. Audiences introduced to the character through the Disney cartoon, the Kevin Sorbo TV show, the Dwayne Johnson movie, or the Marvel comics have good reason to think the character is heterosexual, because that's all they've ever seen. But that doesn't make it true. Hercules is bisexual. To deny that fact is to participate in the erasure of same-sex relationships on the grounds of a narrow and prescriptive morality.
Since their first tiles appeared on comic-shop shelves in 2012, the resurrected Valiant Comics has established themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Their new take on the characters and mythology of the original 1990s Valiant line, their pursuit of top-shelf creators, their focus on storytelling and world-building, and their gift for unorthodox marketing and promotion has drawn praise from both fans and press, led to a film development deal with Sony, and won scores of industry awards (and award nominations). They've proven themselves to be not just cashing in on past glories, but a company that's capable of pushing their stable of characters in new and exciting directions while remaining true to their roots.
Comics carry a sense of physical prestige. When you pick one up from the shelf, it usually isn’t just lying there, blowing in the wind – it’s often wrapped up in a too-tight plastic bag, boarded with a thin piece of cardboard to ensure you don’t crease a single hair on Superman’s immaculate head. The experience is designed to make you consider each comic as a precious item, something best kept mint so you can sell it and get your grandkids through college in a few decades from now.
The thing is, sometimes we need to be reminded that comics are not immaculate, and actually there’s no reason not to mess them up a little in the course of reading. Some of the most enjoyable moments in comics over the last few years have been those moment where the storytellers step back, wave an arm towards the story they’re telling, and say, “Hey, let’s take a pair of scissors to this, eh?”
A few years ago, around the time that Matt Smith was gearing up to replace David Tennant, I briefly made an attempt to get into Doctor Who. Sadly, it didn't really take -- as much as I liked reading stuff about the show, and as much fun as I had with bits and pieces of it, the show never really hooked me the way that it did my friends, and I ended up being quite possibly the only person in the world who liked Doctor Who Magazine more than Doctor Who.
Last week, though, it all clicked into place with the release of Fred Van Lente, Clayton Henry, and Brian Reber's Ivar, Timewalker #1 and its story of time-spanning action and underlying mystery. Basically, this was the version of Doctor Who that I actually wanted.
I've been a fan of Fred Van Lente's comics work for almost ten years now, and the one thing that I love more than anything else about his work is that every time he starts up a new series, it almost always feels like something completely different. You can draw parallels between books like Incredible Hercules and Archer & Armstrong, of course, but neither one of those feels quite the same as G.I. Joe or Taskmaster. The one thing that really unites them, and the one thing that comes through pretty clearly if you ever interview that that guy about his work, is that there's a lot of research that goes into everything he writes, and it's research that comes through in very strange ways.
Case in point: Resurrectionists, a new ongoing Dark Horse series from Van Lente, Maurizio Rosenzweig and Moreno Dinisio that provides a pretty amazing vehicle for delivering that research directly to the reader, and does it with one of the biggest, weirdest high concepts I've seen in a long time.
Listen, folks: I was already on board for what James Asmus, Fred Van Lente and Kano were doing in the pages of The Delinquents from the moment that I found out it was a superhero team-up about going on a quest for hobo treasure. That is literally the only thing I needed to know before I decided to read it. But then the writers went one better by giving the third issue what may actually be the single best opening line of all time.
Seriously, if you have read a comic that starts out with a better piece of dialogue than "Well first off, what makes you so sure your sugar daddy was behind that ass menagerie?" I would like to read it, and I am not even close to kidding.
In January 2015, Valiant plans to expand its line with a wave of new series, including an ongoing Ivar, Timewalker title from the acclaimed team behind the new Archer & Armstrong book, Fred Van Lente and Clayton Henry.
Ivar was created by Barry Windsor-Smith as a supporting cast member in the 1990s Archer & Armstrong series, the third part of Valiant's "immortal trio" along with Armstrong and The Eternal Warrior. Ivar made his debut in the new Valiant Universe in the opening pages of Van Lente & Henry's Archer & Armstrong #1, as a schemer whose plans gave all three brothers the power of immortality -- and destroyed an entire world in the process. As the new series begins, Ivar has made his way to the present day, hoping to atone for his wrongs and keep the past, present, and future from colliding. We spoke to Fred Van Lente to learn more about his plans for the series.
About a decade after the formation of the Comics Code Authority in 1954 effectively killed off EC Comics' popular line of horror comics, Warren Publishing aimed to bring back some of that malevolent magic. The result was the anthology series Creepy (and later, its sister book, Eerie). Published as a black-and-white magazine, the series didn't have to adhere to the Comics Code's strict content standards, and as such, was able to push the envelope in ways comics in the mid-1960s generally couldn't.
Now, the book's current publisher, Dark Horse, is celebrating the magazine's 50th anniversary with a big, blowout issue featuring work by Fred Van Lente, Corinna Bechko, Dustin Nguyen, Peter Bagge, Alison Sampson, and Art Baltazar, among others.
Jack Kirby is very probably the single most influential figure in the history of American comics. He produced countless stories in a career that spanned seven decades, inventing and re-inventing genres and styles every step of the way. He inspired generations of artists and writers; created and co-created thousands of characters; defined the visual vocabulary of superheroes; and believed in the potential of comics to be both entertainment and art, long before most people imagined these stories would be remembered past the four weeks that they sat on newsstands.
This week would have been Kirby’s 97th birthday, so to celebrate, we asked some of our favorite creators and other comic pros to contribute their impressions of his characters, life, and legacy – and the response has been overwhelming. Yesterday, we posted the first set of these all-star tributes, and here's the second, even more expansive selection!
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