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The headline news: Sony has announced the next installments of the webhead franchise, even though the sequel isn’t out yet. Amazing Spider-Man 2 arrives less than two weeks (May 2), and ASM3 is slated for June 10, 2016, to be followed by the two spin-off movies (no word on whether Spidey will appear in those movies, or what version of Venom we’ll be seeing). Y’all probably know that the Sinister 6 are six of Spidey’s most famous villains, including Rhino and Electro, and that all six will be introduced in ASM2 next month. But you might not know that Drew Goddard has been signed as director of the Sinister Six spin-off film. Marvel Studios had already gotten Goddard to be the showrunner for their Daredevil Netflix series, which starts filming in July, so it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to work on Marvel projects from both the Sony and Marvel Studios sides.

What does this mean? It means Spider-Man won’t be another three-movies-then-a-reboot, as has been done with the character before (and was done with Batman and Superman as well). I actually spoke with a guy at a comic shop yesterday who said he thought the Amazing Spider-Man movie was better than any of the Sam Raimi films. That man should be fired. My only hope is that the sequel is way, way better than the first one. And, you know, sequels usually are so much better than first films. Just look at Jaws 2!

Actually, now that I think about it, in recent years sequels actually have surpassed originals in many cases: Captain America Winter Soldier, The Wolverine, and Kick-Ass 2 being prime examples. And if we just look at “next” films, Iron Man 3 was better than Iron Man 2; X-Men: First Class was much better than X3; and the Fast and the Furious movies get better each time (except for #2). Of course, then there are Iron Man 2, Star Trek 2, Thor 2, Anchorman 2, Muppets Most Wanted, GI Joe: Retaliation, 300: Rise of an Empire, R.E.D. 2…All worse than the originals.

My only point is that past performance is even less of an indicator of future promise than ever before. Anyway, in other news….

MULTIVERSITY IS FINALLY COMING! The first issue of the long-awaited Grant Morrison DC project will arrive in stores on August 2014. It’s been rumored and discussed for almost a decade. The 10-issue limited series will feature different genres (Golden Age! Silver Age!) and artists for each storyline (several of whom are regular Morrison collaborators like Frank Quitely and Cameron Stewart), and will combine heroes from all 52 DC Earths, including the sons of Batman and Superman, the Charlton heroes (famously updated in The Watchmen), the Question, Nazis, a whole world of Shazam heroes, Captain Carrot, The Blue Beetle, the black Superman from Morrison’s underrated Action Comics run, Dr. Fate, and a dude called Dino-Cop. If it sounds a little like Morrison’s brilliant Seven Soldiers, it also will tell seven different stories. It also promises to break the fourth wall by putting the reader in the storyline. There’s no way this isn’t the best series of the year, right?

BOYS AND GIRLS ARE DIFFERENT. The producers of the Green Lantern cartoon ran a focus group for kids and found out that boys dug the action scenes and chicks liked the kissing. So tumblr and all those other too-correct-for-words sites can now stand down and admit that there’s an actual difference between the genders. And that there’s nothing wrong with that.

ORIGINAL SIN. I’m usually skeptical about Marvel events. They tend to be let-downs. But Original Sin has got me intrigued. A murder mystery involving the Watcher’s secrets allows Marvel the opportunity to add gloss (or even retcon) so many of its characters. Some of the things that have been teased sound like they could be springboards for cool, character-driven stories. How often does an event lead to something like that? The most interesting rumor is: Was Tony Stark responsible for the Gamma Bomb accident that created Hulk?

GROO VS. CONAN. I don’t usually like to write about books that aren’t coming out for many months, but in July Dark Horse will offer a four issue miniseries about the two best barbarians ever. It’s not often that a humor-based satire character meets his inspiration. It would be like Squadron Supreme fighting the Justice League, or Destroyer Duck taking on Howard the Duck. The creative team will be the Groo team of Mark Evanier and the great Sergio Aragonés, so Groo appears to have the home court advantage.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #100. I’m not checking Marvel’s math, but issue #14 is being touted as the 100th issue of GotG if you ignore the renumberings between the 1970s series and the one by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. Marvel is celebrating by bringing in a new editorial team, a new artist (Nick Bradshaw), and most important: New members. Flash Thompson Venom and Captain Marvel will now be on the team.

FREE INHUMAN #1. Marvel’s first issue of “Inhuman,” the book that is supposed to launch a new direction for the Marvel Universe (by basically making The Inhumans into a new mutant population), will be free as a back up feature to April 30’s Amazing Spider-Man #1. Yes, the entire issue will be republished as a back up feature. Presumably because nobody bought it. I guess they think giving it away will generate new readers. But the problem with Inhuman #1 was…It kinda sucked.

MORE WARREN ELLIS COMICS. He’s definitely in my top 5 of writers working today, and when he hits a home run (like with Secret Avengers or NEXTwave or Fell), he’s my absolute favorite. Ellis has signed with Dynamite to reboot their “Project Superpowers” superhero universe—which consists of superheroes from the 1940s that are all in the public domain now.

AND ON THE BIG (and little) SCREEN….Lots of new projects developed this week:

  • CAPTAIN AMERICA VERSUS SUPERMAN. And speaking of Captain America: In a fit of pure, brash confidence, Marvel Studios has announced that Captain America 3 will open on May 6, 2016…The same day as Man of Steel 2. That’s a big risk, particularly since the new MoS film will basically be a Justice League movie. I know where I’ll be that weekend (I’ll be seeing both). Even though I really didn’t like Man of Steel—how can I not see the sequel? This is a ballsy move, but on the other hand, Warner Bros has already rescheduled MoS2 once already (moving it from 2015 to 2016), and we’re still two years away. Two years! Hurry up with that next Cap film already!
  • DREADSTAR! Jim Starlin’s “Dreadstar,” one of my favorite comics as a young lad and teen, has been optioned. I know that’s nowhere close to actually being a movie, but it’s closer than ever before, right?
  • WHO IS JAKE ELLIS? The Image Comics series that put Nathan Edmondson on the map may be adapted for the big screen by the writer of “Hanna,” a highly underrated action flick that all of you should go see right now.
  • SUPERIOR. One of Mark Millar’s better efforts, the comic was in many ways “Ultimate Shazam” (it’s about a boy who magically becomes an adult superhero) is being looked at for a movie by 20th Century Fox. Wonder how he got the connections? (Kidding of course—Millar is Fox’s official consultant on all their Marvel films.)
  • AGENT CARTER. There have been rumors for months about a pilot TV show for the chick with the laundry basket in Winter Soldier, who barely had anything to do, but now the rumor is it is going straight to series…And that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been renewed for a season two. Good on both. Marvel TV’s first season was rocky, but by the end they finally seemed to be figuring out what the show was about.
  • 12 MONKEYS. SyFy has ordered a full season of episodes of a series based on one of the most brilliant time travel movies ever made. Can an IDW comic book be far behind?
  • SCALPED. Jason Aaron and R.M. Guéra’s wonderful Indian reservation thriller comic (published by Vertigo) is in development at WGN America, with Doug “Banshee” Jung signed on as writer.


Presenting: Joss Whedon’s (not Christopher Nolan’s) Scarlet Witch.

AGE OF ULTRON. By the time this movie comes out, we’re going to know everything about it. That’s why I hate the internet. It’s also why I love it. Sam Jackson and Anthony Mackie, the only black Marvel superheroes to hit the screen, both say they don’t have much to do in the Avengers sequel. I can’t say I’ll miss Nick Fury, but I would have loved ot have seen some Falcon. Of course, if they gave Falcon his own film—or a TV show—that would more than make up for it. And there can’t be any doubt that A3 will have Black Panther, right?

QUEEN AND COUNTRY UPDATE. The movie adaptation of Greg Rucka’s brilliant black-and-white secret agent comic book finally has a director attached, Craig Vivieros (he hasn’t done much—don’t bother IMDBing him). Mostly, I’m writing this item to keep hope alive for the film. Ellen Page is attached to star as the lead, Agent Tara Chase of the Special Operations Section of Britain’s SIS.

SIXTH GUN 2. And speaking of Oni, their hit supernatural Western comic by Cullent Bunn and Brian Hurtt will get a prequel. Also, Bunn’s “Helheim” project with Joelle Jones will get a sequel. That one is about Vikings. Bunn apparently likes to do period pieces.

OCCUPY COMICS VOLUME ONE. A collection of the anthology series has hit the shelves. In addition to a new story by Amanda Palmer and David Mack (and a new cover by Mack as well), it features the work of too many legends to count, but I can name drop these: Mike “creator of the X-Men’s Doop” Allred, Alan “I created everything ever worth reading—just ask me” Moore, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joseph Infurnari (the team on the great indie comic, “The Bunker”), veteran author J.M. DeMatteis, Charlie “Walking Dead” Adlard, Joshua Dysart (writer of the criminally under-read and underrated Vertigo reboot of The Unknown Soldier), Art “Maus” Spiegelman, Ben “30 Days of Night” Templesmith, and many many others. If you like short stories told in comic book form, it’s a damn fine one to get. From Black Mask Press.

AMY ACKER: AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Actually, girlfriend of Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. She’ll play a former lover of Agent Coulson, who she thinks is dead. Amy is another member of Joss Whedon’s traditional ensemble, having had a major role on Angel and appearing in his recent Shakespeare film (which was great, by the way).

FAST AND FURIOUS #7. Yes, I’ve seen every single FnF movie, several more than once, and I love them in all their loud, stupid fury. #7 will include Jason Statham and Kurt Russell in the cast. How can that be bad?

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 3 WILL FEATURE SINISTER SIX. I hated the first movie. I really, really want to like the second one.



I’ve got my opening weekend tickets….Do you?

As usual, February was a slow month for comic sales.  But it was also an unusually slow one.  Batman #28 was the best-selling book of the month, and the only one to crack sales of 100k issues.  That’s bad.  And speaking of bad, DC’s horrendous Forever Evil miniseries was the second biggest seller of the month.  Wolverine #1—at least the sixth “first issue” of a comic with “Wolverine” in the title in the last three months—was the bestselling Marvel title, selling a meager 88k units.  The last Wolverine relaunch sold over 100k, as I recall.

Perhaps Marvel’s “slap the #1s on every six months” strategy is starting to show some wear?  It certainly hasn’t boosted sales of #2 issues.  Other examples: Fantastic Four #1 was the seventh best-selling book, underneath two issues (not #1s) of Superior Spider-Man, and Punisher #1 barely sold more than 50k—and both of these were exceptionally mediocre, if you’ll pardon the oxymoron.  And despite a huge media push including a feature in USA Today, Ms. Marvel #1 barely made it into the top 25.  Other disappointing #1s: X-Force (which sold far less than the two (TWO!) X-Force #1s that came out in the prior year), New Warriors, She-Hulk, Loki: Agent of Asgard, Winter Soldier…And the Walking Dead’s issues #121 and 122 both placed in the top 10.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Walking Dead is a damn fine book and most of the aforementioned books felt like rushed imitations of Hawkeye or, in the case of Loki and Winter Soldier, plain old cash grabs.

But there is a silver lining: Night of the Living Deadpool sold a paltry 3,000 copies.  Yes, you read that right: In the entire country, there are still 3,000 people who want to read that shit.

Part of the problem, of course, is that comic books aren’t really collectible anymore.  That ended with the huge print runs of the late 1990s, followed by tons of reprints, variant covers, etc.  The issues themselves don’t feel “special” anymore.  And by not having continuous numbering, Marvel is losing the obsessive-compulsive crowd of collectors, like me, who just feel like we have to read every issue of a series.  There may not be a lot of us, but right now the industry needs every reader it can grasp.

It’s important to note that paper sales don’t include digital sales, which may be the only way that comic books have a future (at least in their current form).

But really, branding is a big problem.  Remember when everyone thought comic books were all pulpy trash (because mostly they were pulpy trash)?  It took a Stan Lee to be the flag waver, the cheerleader, the spokesperson for the entire industry. Who do we have doing that now?  On a small level, we have people with strong internet presences and followings, like Kelley Sue DeConnick, but they tend to speak for their own art, not for the industry.  Who speaks for the comics as an art form?  No one, really.  At least not a nationally recognized person or group.

And that’s inexcusable.  Just about every blockbuster movie nowadays is based on a comic book.  Why aren’t comic books IN THOSE MOVIES?  Show Captain America reading an issue of Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men.  Maybe at the end credits show the trade paperback that the movie was based on.  In press, suggest to movie fans where they can read more about the characters.  This isn’t rocket science, it’s basic cross marketing.

There’s my rant.  Now the news, and there’s lots of it:

AVENGERS CONFIDENTIAL: BLACK WIDOW AND PUNISHER.  No sooner do I advocate cross-promotion than I hear about a new DVD cartoon that shoehorns an Avengers reference into a feature about Black Widow and Punisher.

OTHER SALES NOTES.  As a side note, separate from my rant, I’m disappointed that more than 10,000 people didn’t buy The Bunker #1, a reprint of the digital comic, because it was terrific.  Other books you should be buying but aren’t: Mind MGT and Sex Criminals (both sold under 5k).
JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED.  Soon DC will have as many JLA books as Marvel has Avengers books!  Another new one is arriving soon, helmed by Jeff Lemire and Mike McKone.  Lemire’s indie work (Sweet Tooth, e.g.) has always been strong but his commercial properties have been up and down.  He had a nice little run with Superboy for the “old 52” and his current Green Arrow is pretty good, but Justice League Dark never found its footing and Animal Man was ponderous.  Still, this series has potential and just the right mix of eclectic and established characters: Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Supergirl and Green Arrow balanced by Adam Strange, Animal Man, and Stargirl. Plus: He promises lots of Canada references.  So maybe this will be the Alpha Flight of the DCU?
iZOMBIE.  The CW TV show based on the brilliant Mike Allred Vertigo comic will not be an adaptation of the comic—it will vary dramatically from the source material, according to Rob Thomas (who also created Veronica Mars).  It’ll be more of a police procedural show than the slice-of-(undead) life character study that was the comic.  I still have high hopes.
STARLIGHT.  Finally, some good Mark Millar comics!  Millar is one of those guys who can get away with writing pure crap (Hit Girl) based on some of the stuff he’s done that’s been either fantastic popcorn comics (Ultimates, Kick Ass) or really cool gimmicks (Superior), and about every fourth series or so he strikes gold.  Starlight looks like it just might be that.  It appears to be a mix of a tribute to the old Flash Gordon strips mixed with an old man as  a protagonist (think: “I’m too old for this shit” meets Bruce Springsteen’s Glory Days).  Oh, and art by Goran “Garth Ennis’ Punisher” Parlov doesn’t hurt a bit.
POWERS THE TV SERIES.  Looks like Brian Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming’s long running Icon comic about police officers who investigate homicides involving super powers will finally be made…For Sony Playstation.  The show will be the first original media programming on the platform, taking a cue from Amazon, Netflix, and others.  Not a good sign, frankly.  This will be a tough series to do right even for a seasoned pro, but for first timers?
INCREDIBLES 2.  It’s (finally) a go.  Incredibles was one of the best superhero movies of all time.  Seriously.  And Brad Bird will be creating the sequel as well. 

THUNDERBOLTS.  This comic hasn’t mattered in a long time.  I know lots of folks liked Jeff Parker’s run, but in my book the last time this series was good was in the Warren Ellis days.  But the latest “red” reboot, which featured Red Hulk leading a team that included Elektra, Deadpool and Punisher, was the worst.  The concept alone wasn’t true to the characters it featured (a team of loners and leaders, all subordinate to Thunderbolt Ross?) and the execution was worse than bad: It was boring.  But “author” Daniel Way has moved on, and the series will now be at the hands of Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, known mostly for TV and live theater.  I’m willing to give it a shot based on the title of the opening arc: “Punisher Vs. Thunderbolts.”  But please, don’t make it suck.  The new Punisher series butchers the character, the last thing we need are more bad Punisher comics.

PATTON OSWALD, AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D.  He’ll be playing Agent Eric Koenig, another guy who has appeared in the comics but nobody has ever heard of.  Including me.  I had to look him up.

DC’S STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES.  A war comic is coming in July (for Independence Day, naturally).  It’ll be another comic that nobody reads by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. who also co-write All-Star Western, hoping to bring their success with genres outside the regular superhero story to the war. The series will star “G.I. Zombie,” a character who fights for his country throughout war after war. He’ll be fighting domestic terror in what sounds like a modern day story. No art was released yet, but Scott Hampton will provide for the series.

FANTASTIC FOUR AND WOLVERINE SEQUELS ANNOUNCED FOR 2017 RELEASE.  This of course will follow the first Fantastic Four movie, coming in 2015, and X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016.  I guess Fox isn’t in any hurry to let Marvel Studios get these properties back and actually do a proper F4 movie.  Or a proper Wolverine movie.  I didn’t hate the prior films, but I can’t say I loved them, either.

TAKEN 3.  And finally, speaking of sequels, Liam Neeson will return to the Taken franchise again next January.  That has to be better than Non-Stop 2, right?



Just 9. Not a lot of interest to me this week…

RETURN OF LONE WOLF AND CUB. Perhaps the most well-known, and most critically acclaimed, Japanese comic book of all time, is returning with a new, 11-volume series by creators Kazuo Koike and Hideki Mori. Dark Horse also plans an Omnibus treatment for the first 28 volumes of the title, which is one of the best-selling Manga of all time.

LIFE WITH ARCHIE. Big news from Archie Comics. First, Emmy Award winning Lena (“Girls”) Dunham will write a four-issue story arc in 2015 about a reality TV show being filmed in Riverdale. Second, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, a well-established comic book writer and playwright, and author of the recent (and excellent) zombie comic “After Life with Archie,” has been put in charge of the whole line of books. Clearly, Archie is trying to be hipper and appeal to the new teens and tweens. One successful zombie book does not a rebranding make; we’ll have to see how it all continues to develop.

THE ARROW. Is introducing Suicide Squad. I feel like I should care. But I … Don’t.

MARVELS PLATINUM EDITION. The five issue (including the “zero” issue) series by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross was great. But is it worth $200? Marvel Comics thinks so. This special edition arrives in stores on August 19.

MILES MORALIS: ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #1. As all the Ultimate books get rebranded, the only one that’s always been worth reading will have a cover by Fiona “Saga” Staples. It’s her first work for Marvel.

NO NEW DC CARTOONS. Beware the Batman never came and already went—the computer-animated Cartoon Network show no longer appears on their slate for 2014-2015. In fact, there’s no new DC cartoons at all. I guess they are focusing on their “live action” programming (promising another season of Arrow, to be joined by Flash, Gotham, and Constantine in the near future).

CAPTAIN AMERICA 3. The sequel ain’t even out yet, but Joe and Anthony Russo have been re-hired for the threequel.

NEW STEVE DITKO COMIC. The legendary, reclusive creator is looking for Kickstarter funding for a comic called #9 Teen.

DYNAMITE/DC CROSSOVER. DC Digital First title Batman ’66 will cross over with Dynamite’s Green Hornet in a 12 issue biweekly web-comic written by Kevin Smith and Ralph “Family Guy” Garman and illustrated Ty Templeton. So if DC and Dynamite can team up, can we get a new DC/Marvel crossover? Please?



One of the “phase 3” Marvel Studio movies will definitely be about the Master of Mystic Arts. I’d venture to say that this is the riskiest Marvel movie yet. The Iron Man/Cap/Avengers and sequels were no brainers. Thor was a little bit of a reach, but not that much. Guardians of the Galaxy is certainly a risk, as it marks something beyond standard superheroics and it will undoubtedly be compared to Star Wars. But this one, a movie about a magician who is virtually unknown outside of the comic book world is a tremendous risk. Magic movies usually don’t do well. They usually suck, in fact, because they’re usually mired down in Christian/Devil mythology that either doesn’t make sense or simply isn’t interesting. It’s also a little disappointing, in that Marvel is forgoing the opportunity to put a more inclusive film on their roster (i.e., one fronted by a female or a person of color). But I do admire the way Marvel keeps trying to broaden their genres instead of going with the same thing over and over. They’ve moved ahead with a James Bond type of film (Iron Man), a period piece (Cap), the epic myth (Thor), blockbusters (Avengers 1&2), science fiction (Guardians), gritty street-level (the Netflix Defenders show), and the quirky supercomedy (Ant Man). It makes sense to stake out the occult—and to do it with a character who isn’t damaged by previous crappy installments (Ghost Rider). And really, they’ve only failed once, with Agents of SHIELD. And that’s hardly a failure, since it gets solid ratings with the best demos. That’s the kind of failure NBC dreams about.

COMICS AND COLLEGE DON’T MIX. South Carolina’s College of Charlestown included Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical, Eisner-winning GN “Fun Home” as required reading for freshman, and may lose funding as a result. The book is about her experience as a lesbian. If you live in SC, contact your State legislators and let them know that you’re not a small-minded bigot.

SPIDER-MAN YEAR ONE. A miniseries titled, “Spider-Man Year One: Learning To Crawl,” to be written by the only guy who writes Spiderbooks these days (Dan Slott) and drawn by Eisner winner Ramon “Tale of Sand” Pérez, will explore the first two months Peter Parker spent as Spider-Man, i.e, the time between the end of Amazing Fantasy #15 and the first three issues of Amazing Spider-Man. Slott promises it won’t retcon those classic four comics, but rather will take place around them. Sort of like the X-Men: First Class books Marvel did several years ago. Slott has done nothing but earn my trust on Spider-Man books, so this is a must buy for me.

WALT SIMONSON RETURNS TO NORSE MYTHOLOGY. But not Thor. IDW is backing Simonson’s interpretation of Norse legend in a book called, “Ragnarok,” coming in 2014.

AND SPEAKING OF ANCIENT GODS: WONDER WOMAN UPDATE. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang have been on the Wonder Woman title since the first new 52 issue, and for the most part they’ve been doing a very good, and sometimes great, job. This is the only run ever on Wonder Woman where I’ve actually looked forward to the next issue coming out. Granted, there haven’t been too many great WW books ever in the history of the character, but Brian and Cliff’s run has been extra-interesting because it has stayed away from the rest of the DC line—giving Diana a true shot at solo stardom. Their run will end this summer after a “Battle for Olympus” event. And frankly, after three years on the book they are starting to show a need to move on. Still, their run will make for a great omnibus some day. Perhaps bigger news is the person coming on board to write and draw Wonder Woman next: David Finch, one of the biggest names in comics. Looks like DC is taking Wonder Woman seriously, which gives credence to the rumors of a possible movie.

NEW WARREN ELLIS COMIC. Image Comics, who are proving time and again that they are the best at innovative, not-capes-and-costumes comics, will be publishing “Trees,” written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Jason Howard. It’s about aliens who have been living among us for years but never made contact because “that they did not recognize us as intelligent or alive.”

AMAZING X-MEN #7. I haven’t been thrilled with the X-books lately. Bendis started strong, but it quickly became clear that there wasn’t enough story to carry two Bendis-X books each month, let alone all the other mutant books out there. But Marvel solicits show Kathryn Immonen, one of the best underrated writers out there, and Paco Medina, the best Deadpool artist ever, are reuniting Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends (Iceman and Firestar) in an upcoming issue of Amazing Z-Men. I think I’ll have to be there.

GAIL SIMONE AT MARVEL. And speaking of too many mutant books, Gail Simone—fresh from being taken off Batgirl and DC cancelling The Movement—is returning to Marvel to write a Savage Wolverine one-off about the titular hero having a really, really bad day. It costars Jubilee, who seems to me like the kind of character Simone could write the hell out of.

HEROES RETURNS. Remember that “save the cheerleader” show that was really good first season and then became Young and the Restless with powers? Well, it’s coming back to NBC next year as a 13-episode miniseries that will take place some time after the old show ended.



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