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TURNS OUT A HIT MOVIE CAN GET PEOPLE TO READ (aka Comic Book Sales in July 2104)….

In the wake of Guardians of the Galaxy’s stellar opening weekend, Marvel’s Rocket Raccoon #1 was the best-selling comic book in July–moving over 300K units! (comics usually do well if they sell 100k)–partly because Loot Crate bought 150k copies.  Star Lord also did well.

Bubbling under the top 10, The Walking Dead #129 placed 12th.  It seems to kick ass both in pamphlet and trade format.  More proof that moving pictures can help sell comics.  And perhaps unhappy news for those who like their money, books with a higher price place higher in terms of dollar sales and thus are actually more profitable.  Harley Quinn (the Comic Con special), Archie (the one where he dies and the one after it), and Robin Rises: Omega (the one where they start to undo what Grant Morrison did) were among those that didn’t rank in the top 10 (although Harley was 16th) but, were in the top 15 for sales dollars.

Archie was also the second-best-seller that wasn’t from DC or Marvel.  Congrats to the Riverdale crew!

The full top ten were:

1. Rocket Raccoon #1
2. Batman #33
3. Amazing Spider-Man #4
4. Original Sin #5
5. Spider-Man 2099 #1
6. Original Sin #6
7. Justice League #21
8. Grayson #1
9. The Legendary Star-Lord #1
10. Harley Quinn #8

In the graphic novel category, congratulations are due to Rick Remender, whose latest book came in third overall for the month, and Brendan “Scott Pilgrim” O’Malley whose original graphic novel placed fifth.  It’s also nice that Greg Rucka’s powerful, female-centered series Lazarus is doing well.  But overall, few surpises here: It’s 50% Image Comics…

1. The Walking Dead Vol. 21
2. Avatar: The Last Airbender Vol. 8
3. Deadly Class Vol. 1
4. Saga Vol. 1
5. Seconds
6. Deadpool Vol. 5
7. Saga Vol. 3
8. Star Wars: The Lucas Draft
9. Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls
10. Lazarus Vol. 2

Hmm.  All the DC books in the top 10 either starred Batman or spun off from the Batverse.  If DC didn’t have Batman, they’d be screwed.  But take away any one of Marvel’s biggest selling characters and they’ve still got a universe to choose from, as their top 10 franchises included Spider-Man, Guardians, and a standalone miniseries.

Anyway,  I didn’t go to Comicon, but I heard some cool stuff happened…And I’m waaaaaaaay behind in reporting to you all due to health issues and “paying job” nonsense that has been taking up my time. But do any of you actually read this column anyway?

If you do, here’s some news…And look how much of it has to do with TV and movies, and how little actually involves comics.  We’ll start with my personal favorite company, and then move down to the depths of DC….



Geek Magazine #4 cover by Andrew Robinson

Recognized as the comic book industry’s version of the Oscars, the Harvey Awards are given out at the Baltimore Comic Book Convention. The 2014 awards nominees have been announced, and, as I do every year, I’m giving you my thoughts. But since nobody ever comments on my Harvey Award posts, I’ll abbreviate the commentary this year to a couple paragraphs…Don’t think y’all are all that interesting.

Fun (and appropriate) fact: DC got only one nomination this year, for best inker on Batman. The quality of DC comics is now officially … Nonexistent. You’d think that most of the awards went to Image Comics, but you’d be wrong. BOOM! Studios is the clear winner…Wow! In the major categories, you can’t lose. You’ll find Daredevil, Saga and Hawkeye in the best writer, artist, and continuing series categories (along with a nod to Matt Kindt’s Mind MGMT for best writer—which would get my vote). DD and Saga also appear in the best covers category.

Best new series nods show the incredible variety of books on the market: Afterlife with Archie (reimagining retro nerd as something hip and dark); Quantum and Woody (rebooting something once great into something more better); Sex Criminals (risqué and hilarious, and definitely for adults); Six Gun Gorilla (madcap lunacy); and Suicide Risk (dark and mean). But no superheroes! Nice to see, though, that Paul Pope’s Battling Boy and The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story both got two nods. Great books that deserve more press.

IN OTHER NEWS…There’s a pretty big Con going on right now. I’m not there. I’m sure I’ll hear stuff, though. And I’ll pass along what I found interesting next week. As for this week…

MAJOR CHANGES FOR MARVEL’S MAJOR CHARACTERS. And “major” characters means the ones in The Avengers. Thor’s becoming a girl, because, you know, Girl Power and all. Captain America is now black—and I can’t help but wonder if Marvel put Sam Wilson in the Cap costume because Chris Evans has said he wants to retire. It’s like saying: Yeah, try to renegotiate with us. Go for it. You’re not even black. I hope I’m wrong—I hate that Hollywood can now drive my comic book content. I mean, I was okay with X-Men turning Xavier’s school into one with tons of students back in the 1990s (a direct rip from the first X-Men movie), but I hate Nick Fury, Jr. And as for Iron Man…Tony Stark will become “superior” this October in “Superior Iron Man #1.” I’m assuming that there won’t be the kind of body switch that turned the Amazing Spider-Man into the Superior one, but I’m guessing either Tony starts drinking again or something else makes him snap and he gets all evil(ish) and stuff. It’s going to be written by Tom Taylor, who did fantastic work on evil(ish) Superman for DC’s Digital First “Injustice” comic—one of the best DC books of the last five years. This should be a lot better than the current Iron Man book, which kinda is…Inferior.

MARVEL ANNOUNCES RELEASE DATES FOR UNANNOUNCED MOVIES. Marvel occupied territory for six opening dates between 2016 and 2019, without saying what the films might be. What will the movies be? Well, they say they want one sequel and one new franchise per year. Based on current announcements, we’ll see Avengers 2 and Ant-Man next year; 2016 will offer Captain America and Doctor Strange; and then we’ll get two in 2017 and three in 2018. (Why wait until ’18 to do three in a year?) I’m betting they’re waiting on the fourth Iron Man movie until they see if Robert Downey, Jr., will renew his contract. If he doesn’t, the new Iron Man probably won’t come until 2018—in which case we’ll see a Thor sequel in 2017. We’ll definitely get a third Avengers film, and my guess is in 2018 (every two years seems a safe bet on that kind of a huge movie). And if Guardians of the Galaxy kicks ass next weekend, we’ll see more from those dudes as well. Pretty full sequel slate. For “new” characters, Black Panther or something with a female lead (Black Widow or Captain Marvel?) are safe bets. Marvel also has the rights back to Ghost Rider, and those crappy movies made mad money, so we could see a reboot there. My fantasy is none of those. I’d love to see a Runaways, Power Pack, or Punisher movie. And, of course, a MODOK solo film.

AND IN LIVE ACTION D.C. NEWS, SO NOW CAN HE WEAR THE SUIT? The main problem with DC’s Smallville TV show was that, as the series dragged on, relentlessly, to its end, not seeing Clark wearing the cape became stupid and frustrating. Perhaps to resolve that problem, Geoff Johns has said that the DC TV universes of Arrow and Flash will not connect to the (still conceptual) DC Movieverse of Justice League. I think that’s a damn fine decision. But he also said that main characters won’t overlap: Batman and Superman won’t appear on TV. But it’s a fair bet that Flash will be on both media, so maybe we’ll see Wonder Woman and/or some of the villains in both forums. Also…

THE ROCK IS SHAZAM. Or at least it seems like it. Dwayne Johnson tweeted “just say the word” in the context of his role in an upcoming DC movie.

KINSKI COMING TO IMAGE. Gabriel Hardman’s wonderful, quiet comic (published digitally by MonkeyBrain) will be collected and released on paper by Image Comics in November. Maybe that means he’ll finish the story, finally? I love this little book about a small-time hood and a lost dog.

PAINKILLER JANE IS A MOVIE. The Jimmy Palmiotti/Joe Quesada has already had a couple TV shows that failed, but it’s headed for the big screen now to be directed by horror directors the Soska sisters (“American Mary”).

XBOX ENTERTAINMENT IS DONE. The fledging original-programming network vows to finish their “Halo” show, but it looks like the live-action version of Chuck Dixon’s “Winter World” comic will be put (ahem) on ice.

SIMPSONS WORLD. FXX will make available to its subscribers a searchable library of every Simpson’s episode ever, and will enable users to mark clips and post them to social networks. The cable network is also airing every single episode in marathon form starting on August 21.

FIGHT CLUB 2…THE COMIC. And speaking of triumphant returns, my favorite author Chuck Palahniuk has finally written the long-promised sequel to Fight Club—as a comic book with art by the great Cameron Stewart! But Dark Horse won’t publish the first issue until next year…
And that’s it for the week!



Yes, a new Captain America. It’s been done before, but never as good as Ed Brubaker’s assassination of Steve Rogers/Bucky Cap. I guess Rick Remender got sick of people saying how he was no Ed Brubaker, so he’s having a go at it.

I like Rick Remender’s Cap. I know, I’m in the minority. I didn’t blink an eye at the much ado about nothing surrounding Falcon having sex with an underage girl  (he didn’t), and I thought the Planet Z was a bit too long but otherwise told a great story.

The new Cap, as I’m sure everyone knows by now, will be Sam Wilson. A black Captain America. It’s about time, first of all. Marvel waited so long that it probably won’t even be controversial. After all, we already got a black Nick Fury and a black Hiemdall.

And if you don’t like it, don’t worry. The third Captain America movie is slotted for a May 2016 release, so we’ll have Steve Rogers back behind the mask before that.

In other news….

BUT…YOU’RE BLACK?! In other “suddenly African American news,” Susan Heyward has been cast as Deena Pilgrim in the Powers TV show being developed for the Sony PlayStation network.

AND SPEAKING OF RACE-CHANGES…THE FANTASTIC FOUR MOVIE WON’T BE LIKE THE COMIC. Racial variety in casting already established that, because it looks like movie Susan and Johnny Storm had different daddies, but now we’re learning that castmembers have been told not to read any F4 comics because the movie won’t be anything like that. I guess this is going to be Mark Millar’s big “F-k You” to Marvel. Millar, creator of Kick Ass and writer of a controversial run on F4, is essentially the showrunner for the studio, which also owns Spider-Man, and he’s made no secret of the fact that he thinks he’s better than everyone else.

AND IT’S NOT JUST RACES THAT ARE CHANGING…SHE-THOR! Of all places, Marvel announced the “The View” that Thor will lose his hammer and a woman will pick it up. It will happen in Thor God of Thunder #1 (or All-Newer Thor?), coming in October from Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman. That’s the team currently working on the fair-to-middling Cyclops solo book. It looks like she’s Angela, who has been revealed to be Thor’s sister, but it may be someone entirely new.

SUPERMAN TO APPEAR ON “ARROW” TV SHOW. Well, not really. But Brandon “Superman Returns” Routh (the movie so bad only one person in history liked it) will portray Ray Palmer/The Atom. Also joining the cast is Robbie Amell, the real-life cousin of the guy who plays Green Arrow. Robbie will play Firestorm. And in other Arrow news, the writers of the show will now be the writers of the comic—starting with issue #35.

AND ALSO MAYBE ON “THE FLASH” TV SHOW. It looks like they’re prepping Arrow/Flash to have a lot of crossovers—maybe more than Buffy and Angel did. That makes me sad because I don’t watch Arrow but I do plan to watch Flash. And I don’t see how I can fit another hour into my TV watching and still have time to play Clash of Clans obsessively like an idiot.

THE RETURN OF KLARION THE WITCH BOY. Who? He’s a magic character created by Jack Kirby in the pages of The Demon. DC Comics is moving Ann Nocenti off of Catwoman and giving her the chance to work with this extreme fringe character, who will be an occult character lurking in Gotham City. She’s written weird supernatural superheroes before, so this might be a good fit for her.

SELFIES AND MONSTERS FROM DC. Next month, all of DC’s comics will have “selfie” covers. Meh. But in October, all the covers will feature the title characters as monsters (werewolves, vampires, etc.). Now that’s a gimmick I can dig.

75 YEARS OF MARVEL. Coming this fall, a history of Marvel written by Roy Thomas (the second Editor in Chief of Marvel, after Stan Lee), that talks about characters and creators. 720 pages, thousands of pictures and original art, and a four-foot-long centerfold showing the history of Marvel. All for $200. I smell a Christmas present.

GILBERT HERNANDEZ DOES WONDER WOMAN. As part of the September DC Digital First lineup, there is a relaunch of Sensation Comics that will include the “Love and Rockets” creator’s vision of Wonder Woman. There are few people who can draw sexy-and-real, Terry Moore and Amanda Conner are the other two I can think of, as well as Hernandez. I can’t wait to read this. For those who prefer pulp fiction, the digital comic will be printed the following month.

ARCHIE GOT SHOT. In Life With Archie #36, the second-to-last issue of the series and the end of his life.

BUCKY BARNES: WINTER SOLDIER. A new series to be written by Ales Kot (“Zero”) and illustrated by Marco Rudy (“Marvel Knights: Spider-Man”), coming in October.

THUNDERBOLTS IS ENDING. I guess Marvel had mercy on us. (Actually, under the new writing team of Ben Acker and Ben Blacker it has gotten somewhat better, but the entire concept was terrible. Just terrible.)

HAWKEYE ALSO ENDING. Which is probably a good thing. I still like it, but it’s run its course. The real question is whether this means that Matt Fraction—who is having lots of success over at Image Comics and recently was dropped from a major Marvel event—is done working for Marvel.



Marvel has been messing with time for the past two years, with just about every comic jumping around the time stream. They’re obviously building to some kind of New 52 reboot, and they’ve hinted that, at least for the Avengers, major time-based changes are coming soon as the book will jump eight months ahead and then tell its story backwards, with each issue coming a month closer to the present day. But unlike DC’s stunt-approach, Marvel is reorganizing its timeline (and product line) organically–and having lots of fun with it. In fact, I thought that DC really missed an opportunity with the Flashpoint event that prompted the new 52: They could have killed every one of their characters, created all kinds of bizarre alternate realities, and just had a blast before rebooting and tightening it all up again.

Marvel seems to be playing it better (but I wish that the Avengers books were higher quality): They brought forward the original X-Men; Deadpool has had a bunch of comics drawn in the styles of other eras; they brought back Spider-Man 2099; Hulk jumped through timelines for a while; Thor told three stories of past, future, and present…All cool stuff.

And Marvel’s 100th anniversary celebration, a bunch of books about what Marvel’s publishing line might look like in 2061, promises an Avengers book by none other than indie favorite James Stokoe, whose advance art is phenomenal (see above). As is the team line-up, which includes Beta Ray Bill and Dr. Strange fighting the Mole Man.

The Fantastic Four’s celebration, out this week, features the team’s children uniting after Marvel editorial mandates killed off or disbanded the original team in a story by Jan Van Meter and Joanna Estep—the first all-woman creative team for an FF book.

And in other news….

MARVEL ANNOUNCES A NEW DIRECTOR OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Looks like Agent Coulson is in! Clark Gregg in interviews has revealed that he will be the new Director, beginning with season two of the SHIELD TV show. This begs a lot of questions. First, if Sam Jackson was on his way out, why didn’t they just kill him in Captain America instead of having that contrived and predictable “fake death?” The answer is probably timing, so I can forgive that one. The second question: What’s wrong with Sam “I never saw a script I didn’t like” Jackson? Is he sick? And finally…Marvel’s comic book universe has put black eyepatched Nick Furys in place; can we finally get rid of Nick Fury, Jr.? And if we do, can Coulson get an eyepatch? I know he can’t smoke cigars on TV, but he could at least get the grey-grizzly hair…

CONSTANTINE CAN’T SMOKE EITHER. It’s a Network thing. So on his TV show, he won’t be smoking—which kills the possibility of an adaptation of the best Hellblazer story I ever read: The one where he gets cancer, written by Garth Ennis.

SUPERMAN. Geoff Johns and John Romita, Jr.’s take on the big blue boy scout has finally come out and it is…Damn good. When Johns is really writing, he’s excellent at these kinds of re-entry point stories. And Romita’s art is some of the best he’s done in recent books. I really can’t wait to see what happens next! Finally, a second DC book for my pull list (the other is Batman).

SAVAGE HULK. Anybody read issue #1 of this anthology book, by Alan Davis? He’s such a terrific artist…Marvel has revealed future creators on this title will include Gabriel Hardman, best known for a noirish style, and the great Jim Starlin (in a Hulk vs. Annihilus story). Check it out—we need to support outside-the-continuity-box titles like this.

BATMAN BATMAN BATMAN. Three new Batman comics are coming, and only one looks crappy. That would be Arkham Manor, which will be written by Gerry Duggan and Shawn Crystal (the team behind the mediocre Deadpool Now! book). The other two sound interesting: A digital-first translation of Jiro Kuwata’s 1996 Bat-Manga comic (which inspired several Grant Morrison stories, as I understand it) and, best of all, multiple-Eisner awardee Becky Cloonan on a book called “Gotham Academy.” Her book will be told from the point of view of kids who attend school in Gotham City. Sort of a 90210 version of Gotham Central. Sign me up for that one now.

BUT DEADPOOL DOESN’T HAVE TO BE CRAPPY! Peter David is one of the best writers in the comic book world (note: I said writers, not plotters). His character work is second to none. And, along with artist Scott Koblish, he’s taking on a new miniseries: “Deadpool’s Art of War.” It will indeed borrow heavily from Sun Tzu’s philosophical tactician’s manual.

THE FINCHS ON WONDER WOMAN. Married team Meredith Finch and David Finch will take over Wonder Woman when Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang end their run with issue #36. Azzarello and Chiang provided a truly fresh take on the character, but the story has gotten stale of late—it’s time for them to move on. Not sure this is the right move for the character, but some kind of change was needed.

AMERICAN GODS THE TV SHOW. Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is pretty much a masterpiece in American literature, and it’s coming to TV…On Starz. The good news is, the cable network hired reputable show runners who have worked on Hannibal and Heroes, and Gaiman will exec produce.

THE KITCHEN. This November, fan favorite Ming Doyle will illustrate a new Vertigo Comics series to be written by a new writer (Ollie Masters) that will take place in NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen in the 1970s. Put under the “true fiction” category: No capes, no powers. Just real mafia wives trying to run their real families when their husbands are busted for work the Family. Sounds good.



ms marvel cumming soonI usually do a longer post on SALES, but I think I’m the only one who is interested in it. So I’ll just say that in June Marvel had the top three books: Two issues of Amazing Spider-Man, and Original Sin #1. And in a rare correlation of quality to quantity, those were also three of the best books Marvel published last month.

And now, lots of cool little bits and items:

DYNAMITE HUMBLE BUNDLES. The publisher will offer, for the benefit of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, over 120 comics from an all-star roster of creators. The offer is on now and continues through July 9, and includes titles like: Amanda Hocking’s The Hollows: A Hollowland; Project Superpowers; Vampirella collections by Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, and Mark Millar; Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet; and recent Red Sonja material, among many others.

EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE. I’m excited as hell for Dan Slott’s return to Superior Spider-Man, coming later this year in a “Spiderverse” event that will bring together Doc Ock Spidey with Spider-Men from all over the multiverse. And to whet our whistles, Marvel is releasing five done-in-ones called “Edge of Spider-Verse” about various weird Spidey characters. Creators will include Gerard “Umbrella Academy” Way (you know him better as the lead singer of My Chemical Romance), Clay McLeod “I got nominated for a Pulitzer Prize” Chapman, Jason “Southern Bastards” Latour, and Dustin “Everything I Draw is Genius” Weaver. Characters will include Gwen Stacy: Spider-Woman and a bunch of new creations. I’m jazzed.

SPIDER-MAN 2099. And speaking of Spidey versions, this book is returning in July with original creator and author Peter David. As some of you know, the character was brought into the present by Dan Slott—this series will continue his presend-day adventures.

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN SEASON 3. Speaking of the Spiderverse, the next season of Ultimate Spider-Man (coming August 31 to Disney XD) will include a ton of cool characters from both the Spider- and Marvelverses as Peter Parker joins the Avengers and meets (quickly draws a breath before shouting): Ka-Zar, Miles Morales, Agent Venom, Dr. Strange, Cloak and Dagger, Amadeus Cho, Spider-Girl, Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir, Iron Spider, and Spider-Man 2099. I do like the cartoon, even though I missed season two entirely. Looks like I’ll be watching again!

WONDER WOMAN STRIPS. Newspaper strips, that is. IDW will publish a collection of the 1940s material later this year.

RAT QUEENS CARTOON. And speaking of cartoons, Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch’s recent critical hit comic Rat Queens (published by Image) may become a cartoon. I can only imagine it will be on a cable network—the comic gets pretty salty.

QUANTUM AND WOODY. The reboot of Valiant comics has been pretty good. If I didn’t have too many comics to read already, I’d be reading Quantum and Woody. What I have read of it was pretty cool. And now, Valiant is bringing back the creators of the series, Christopher Priest and M.D. Bright, as well as planning an omnibus (600 pages!) of their original creation. And speaking of reboots….

TEEN TITANS EARTH ONE. I didn’t care for the Batman or Superman Earth One books—they’re alternate takes on established characters that take place in the present day. Yes, they’re DC’s version of Marvel’s Ultimate universe. But the Titans one sounds cool. Jeff Lemire is writing, Terry Dodson is drawing, and it is about a teen team that develops in a universe where there are no heroes to sidekick to.

MARVEL 75TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION #1. In honor of 75 years since Marvel Comics #1 was published, Marvel is producing an anthology of new material about vintage Marvel events: Bruce Timm will illustrate Stan Lee’s first Marvel story (which was a picture-less feature called “Captain America Foils The Traitor’s Revenge”). Brian Bendis and Michael Gaydos will tell a new Jessica Jones story (they haven’t done one since they created her in the brilliant Alias comic). James Robinson and Chris Samnee will play with Fantastic Four #1 (hailed by many as the first Marvel Universe comic). Sounds awesome.

AVENGERS UNDERCOVER IS ENDING. With issue #10. That makes me sad. I love this comic.

THE ORIGINAL GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Remember? With Yondu and the dude who looks like Iceman and Starhawk? They appeared in a back-up feature in Guardians of the Galaxy #14, and in October they’re getting their own series, which will take place in the year 3000 and will be written by Dan Abnett. Fans of Marvel’s cosmic line know Abnett was half of the writing team that revived the cosmic line in the early 2000s. I’m excited—I always loved that old Guardians team. And speaking of the cosmic line…

JIM STARLIN BACK AT MARVEL. The creator of Thanos has been signed to do three Adam Warlock graphic novels for the company after a public dust-up over Marvel inviting then dis-inviting him to work with that character. All is forgiven, apparently.



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