Superman made his big debut on this day way back in 1939 in the pages of Action Comics #1 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The archetype, the standard bearer for all superheroes who came after him, Superman has endured the changing face of the world throughout the decades, and the ideals he stood for are just as vital and relevant today as they were then.
Ever since creator William Moulton Marston died, those in charge of Wonder Woman have been actively running away from his version, in an attempt to make the character more acceptable by the standards of mainstream 20th Century entertainment, which hasn't historically been friendly to feminism, let alone pro-bondage quasi-queer female supremacy.
But Grant Morrison, the writer behind the new Wonder Woman: Earth One graphic novel with artist Yanick Paquette, is known as a writer who is unafraid of ideas. In discussing this project, which was in development for years, he expressed a desire to bring back some of the weirdness that only Marston brought to the character. Did he succeed?
Q: What's the deal with Aztek? -- @LOTR_Dan
A: Well, this one's easy: Aztek is a hero for the new millennium -- if he lives that long! And, you know, I don't want to spoil the ending for you or anything, but he actually does, even if it's kind of on a technicality. I mean, when you get right down to it, "a hero for about three months into the 21st century before he explodes in space and is never seen again" probably wouldn't fit on the cover.
Trust me, though. It's better than it sounds.
With Batman v Superman finally in theaters this weekend after months of somber trailers, lists of the best team-ups and fights, and other assorted hype, there's a good chance that you might be burnt out on seeing those two characters in action. If, however, you're still hungry for more, there's some good news: If you head over to Comixology today, it's pretty much wall-to-wall Batman and Superman, with Wonder Woman and the rest of the Justice League thrown in for good measure.
But the one title in the entire sale that I'd recommend above all others is less about Batman and Superman fighting and more about the formation of the Justice League.
Welcome to The Issue, where we look at some of the strangest, most interesting and most distinctive single issue comic stories ever to grace the medium. You know the ones; silent issues, sideways issues, backwards issues... and issues that make you ask questions like 'When does a comic book stop being a comic book?'
Batman #663 is 22 pages of words and pictures --- the former courtesy of Grant Morrison, just a few issues into his landmark run on the title, the latter by digital artist John Van Fleet --- but the two elements are mixed into something that's closer to an illustrated storybook. Look at any given page, and you'll be faced with as many words as an average issue of traditional comics, interspersed with Van Fleet's posed CG characters resembling a gritty reimagining of '90s animated series ReBoot.
While there are many different qualities that a colorist brings to a comic book, one of the most beneficial and subtle effects is the effect a good colorist can have on the line art, shaping a good artist into a great artist and a great artist's work into something transcendent. Unless you're consistently comparing the black & white original pages to the finished color versions, it can occasionally be difficult to accurately assess what a colorist is really doing to change the work.
Thankfully, Nathan Fairbairn is not only one of the best collaborators in the comics industry, he also dedicates time to showing the color theory and thinking that goes into his process on his Tumblr; an indispensible resource for anyone interested in learning more about colorists and comics coloring.
A: I'm glad you asked! As a writer, long-term plotting has never really been one of my strong points --- I'm more a student of that Larry Hama "never more than three pages ahead" sort of school --- but as a reader, there's nothing I love more than seeing threads tie together after years of groundwork being laid. It's that Chris Claremont, Walt Simonson style of plotting where seemingly insignificant elements and offhand remarks can suddenly gain importance, and where the same imagery can weave itself in and out of the story to give everything a new meaning. And what Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely and Val Semeiks did in DC One Million and All-Star Superman is one of the best and most subtle examples of long-term plotting ever.
Well. Subtle by superhero comic standards, anyway. It still involves a time-traveling Superman who lives inside the sun.
In magical practice, the term magnum opus has a different meaning than in popular context. Latin for "the Great Work," its been used since the early alchemists, and taken on various shades of metaphorical meaning through different traditions, but they're all essentially referring to the same thing: the total actualization of one's will, and the creation of the idealized self. Grant Morrison, the most inventive writer in comics, has been at it for a while now.
Q: What are the best Die Hard tributes or knockoffs in comics? -- @chudleycannons
A: Considering how common it is for action movies to try to re-create the feeling of Die Hard, you'd probably be surprised at how little that actually happens in comics. I mean, it makes sense that it would be that way --- despite starting out life as a novel with the amazing title of Nothing Lasts Forever, Die Hard is pretty inextricably tied to being an action movie, and it's difficult to recreate what makes it work so well in another medium. The closest thing we'd have to that in comics is the massive number of characters that were created as homages or knockoffs of Superman.
But if you're looking for a story that operates on those same principles --- a single hero trapped in a confined space, dealing with limited resources and overwhelming odds --- then there are definitely a few stories that fit the bill.
Born on this day in 1968, Vincent Deighan isn't a name a lot of comics fans know, but few artists are as instantly identifiable by their work. Working under the pen name Frank Quitely (a not-as-obvious-as-it-seems play on "quite frankly") for the past quarter century, chiefly with writers Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, the Scottish artist's highly detailed, deeply stylized work has offered a fresh perspective on Superman, the X-Men, Batman and more, and brought personality and depth to a range of original characters.