2016 has been a pretty amazing year for people who love obscure and forgotten DC Comics characters (read: me), but this week, the Rebirth era got its most shocking return yet. As Batman and Two-Face continued their road trip upstate in the pages of All-Star Batman, beset on all sides by assassins, arch-villains, and other assorted ne'er-do-wells, they run straight into one of the most unexpected characters in a long time --- and no, I'm not talking about KGBeast. That dude came back last month. This one's even weirder.
JOHN ROMITA JR.
Born on this day in 1956 in New York City, New York, John Romita Jr. is one of comics' most distinguished artists, whose multi-decade career has seen him take on many of the medium's most iconic properties, collaborate with many of the finest writers the industry has to offer, and lend his distinctive visual sensibility to a vast number of best-selling storylines. He's defined many of Marvel's best-known characters, and helped reinvent the DC Universe for a new generation of readers.
Mark Millar and John Romita Jr's violent and often crude Kick-Ass is returning next year, and it's going monthly. Not only that, but Millar has confirmed that it instead of Dave Lizewski underneath the green and yellow mask, it will be a brand new character, a black woman, taking up the mantle of Kick-Ass.
This week saw us say goodbye to a hero who fought for truth, justice and the American way. Who fought for the downtrodden and the common man. Who fought against injustice while wearing a t-shirt and jeans. This week saw us say goodbye to The New 52 Superman. Spoilers for the current Superman status quo follow.
With the exception of his father, who still occasionally picks up a pencil or inking brush, nobody has been drawing Spider-Man longer than John Romita Jr.
Over the course of nearly 40 years with the character (longer if you count that he came up with the idea for The Prowler for 1969's Amazing Spider-Man #78), Romita has penciled somewhere in the range of 140 Spider-Man comics. Of course, longevity and productivity aren't the only hallmarks of a great artist, and Romita Jr. has done far more than simply pump out issues. He has changed with the times, adapted his style, and co-created some cornerstone Spider-Man characters.
DC Comics hosted a special livestream event at WonderCon in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon to unveil the creative teams behind its DC Rebirth event, which relaunches the entire DC Universe line with new issue #1s and multiple double-shipping titles. The relaunch will set the future course of DC Comics at a time when fans are wondering whether the company will embrace a new and diversifying audience or double down on serving a shrinking core audience.
The event was introduced by DC All Access host Tiffany Smith, with DC co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio and chief creative officer and Rebirth chief architect Geoff Johns introducing and interviewing the creative teams as they joined them on stage at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
I've mentioned it before on the site and elsewhere, but I'm of the mind that the core Superman titles --- Action Comics by Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder, and Superman by Gene Luen Yang, John Romita Jr. and Howard Porter --- are better now than they have been in a very long time. They're engaging, they're fun and innovative, and they have a sense of cohesion that Superman as a character often lacks. But every time I say that, I'm always a little surprised that there are so many people who disagree.
Don't get me wrong --- no story is going to appeal to everyone, but for me, these are some of the most fun stories out there. Then again, that might just be because there's a story where Superman joined a pro wrestling federation for forgotten gods, and that's kind of everything I want out of comic books happening at once.
When listing the great living legends of comics, there are few who loom larger than John Romita Sr. He's the man who defined the look of Marvel Comics for generations of readers, serving as the company's in-house art director, drawing hundreds of comics and designing many of the company's most famous characters.
John Romita was born in Brooklyn, New York, on January 24 1930, and showed a keen interest in drawing from an early age. He attended high school at the School Of Industrial Art on 79th Street in Manhattan, and after graduating in 1947 took on commercial art jobs for a year before breaking into the comics industry in 1949 with a story in Eastern Color's Famous Funnies.
Hal Jordan, or at least the strange version of him that exists in Frank Miller's Dark Knight Universe, gets the spotlight in Dark Knight Universe Presents: Green Lantern #1, a 12-page mini-comic that will be included with Dark Knight III: The Master Race Book 3. Miller is collaborating with Brian Azzarello on the writing, and with John Romita Jr. on art.
October traditionally marks the end of the summer con season, when retailers, creators and exhibitors return to their caves for hibernation, secure in the knowledge that they have done everything they can to promote their wares. But before we all get our rest, the fitful sleep before the rattling of chains in January that signals the first email about registering for San Diego, there's one last stop: New York Comic-Con, coming at you on October 8 through 11, complete with a very fun roster of variant covers!
In addition to getting Andy Kubert's art for Dark Knight III on the cover of the con program, DC is marking the occasion by offering up six exclusive variants that you can grab at the Javits Center next month. But if you're not going to be there, don't worry too much: You can check 'em out right here.