Friday, December 31, 2010

Hearsay and Conjecture - Doc Brown's Death

I was watching Back to the Future the other night and I got to thinking. All the things that happen in the movies seem to focus around Marty and his family making every decision matter. Could his death not have an effect on the time stream as well? The way it should have gone down is his future (past?) is death, but he learns to wear the bulletproof vest and lives. That has to have some effect on the future for a lot of people, but it’s never explored, because his avoiding death has a great impact. Confused? Stay with me.

The biggest impact of Doc Brown being alive is what Marty gets from it. Because they change the timeline they are able to do all that they do in the movies to save Marty’s Kids and also keeps him from destroying his own future in that accident. In the second film they go ahead to stop his son from going to jail and his daughter from getting caught trying to break him out. Doc is saving Marty’s entire family from messing up all of their lives and giving them a happy ending that otherwise would not have happened. Then made me think what would happen to the time machine if the Doc dies.

Would Marty take the time machine and do whatever he wanted with it or just destroy it outright? He is familiar enough with the DeLorean to use it easily and has all the plutonium that was in the truck at the mall. He could really take both and use it for his own ends, doing good or evil (like when he bought the sports). Marty could have turned into his own version of Biff, running a casino perhaps...really, Marty could do whatever he wanted. He would have had a huge amount of power in his hands if Doc Brown had died, but because he didn’t die Marty had direction and reason in the form of the Doc.

Another thought is if Doc never read that letter Marty wrote him and after witnessing Doc being shot again would Marty go back in time yet again to save him or respect his wishes and let him die? Messing with the timeline can have dire consequences if abused, but can also do some good as well. I find it hard to believe that a good Back to the Future comic hasn’t been done yet, at least as far as I have seen. The possibilities are endless with the stories they can do for Marty and the Doc (or perhaps just Marty). With so many cartoons like Darkwing Duck and Chip N’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers among others getting the comic book treatment why not Back to the Future as well, as it could be a kickass comic.

The Skrumps One-Shot

"I don't even know what a quali looks like!" is what John (Owen Wilson) said to Jeremy (Vince Vaughn) in Wedding Crashers (and was Mark Zuckerberg's early tagline on Facebook). If you asked me what a quail is I'd probably respond similarly. If you asked me what a Skrump is, I'd probably look at you funny and then say wait until March. Why? That's when Archaia releases The Skrumps One-Shot.

Written and illustrated by John Chandler, the 32-page one-shot features the return of The Skrumps of Fraggle Rock fame. The colorful troupe of characters live in the imaginary world of Skrumpland where Mooch finds out that his mooching ways may not be going over as well as he would like. He decides to change course and starts giving back by adopting an usual animal, leading to the inevitable realization that he's in over his head.

Solicitation - Grimm Fairy Tales Hardcover Art Book

I'm a big fan of art books. They're nice collections of art from your favorite artist, series...whatever. Zenescope has always had a knack for, how should I put this, "ample" artwork in their series Grimm Fairy Tales. It's been published since 2003, meaning there's lots of covers for a collection. Cue the Grimm Fairy Tales Hardcover Art Book.

Set to release in January for $39.99, the 200 page hardcover collects covers for the first 50 issues of the series. Mixed in is art by J. Scott Campbell, Al Rio, Eric Basuldua, Talent Caldwell and more. There should be tons of quality art in here so it's definitely worth your time if you're a fan of the series.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review - Bonnie Lass #1

Save for the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy we're faced with a shortage of pirates in media today. I'm not sure if it's because people don't really care about pirates or if writers and artists feel there's more interesting subjects to tackle, but the reality is it's somewhat rare. Someone at Red 5 comics didn't get that memo as they've just released Bonnie Lass #1, a modern take on pirates. Does it do the name "pirate" justice?

The book (written by Michael Mayne and Tyler Fluharty and illustrated by Mayne) follows Bonnie Lass, a buxom swashbuckler desperately trying to escape her father's shadow as one of the most renowned treasure hunters. She's joined by her brother, Benjamin Lass, and friend Trick Fischer in their quest for a treasure: the Eye of Leviathan. We're introduced to her in a somewhat predictable manner (hero removes cloak to reveal badassness), but shortly thereafter we realize that Bonne Lass is more than just ample measurements. She does, indeed, have a propensity to kick ass and takes out the entire bar in an effort to maintain a scroll that potentially leads to the treasure.

Probably the best thing about Bonnie Lass is the characterization. Mayne and Fluharty have done a pretty good job of infusing Bonnie with tremendous sass and swagger, something you would expect to find in a swashbuckling heroine. Benjamin and Trick play their supportive roles well; part tactical support for Bonnie's missions and part comic relief. It's clear that Bonnie is the undisputed leader of the trio and the other two will readily follow her into any melee or donnybrook with no questions asked. Trick even calls out a surfboard in one shot (fans of Arrested Development will know what I'm talking about here).

The issue blended action and dialogue very well. Bonnie refuses to quit being sarcastic even when getting kicked in the face which will possibly be annoying to some readers, but welcome to others. Not annoying in the sense of its delivery but annoying in the sense that you'll either love or hate Bonnie Lass as a character. Kudos to the writing duo for infusing their title character with so much, well, character, in the first issue. Mayne's artwork also fits the story and content very well, incorporating numerous facial expressions to work alongside the dialogue. You have to wonder though if Mayne was going through a Tomb Raider phase while creating Bonnie Lass as she shares the same outfit (short shorts and a tight, midriff tank top).

Bonnie Lass #1 is Red 5 Comics' first foray into digital only publishing. It's currently available on comiXology and iVerse for $1.99. There's no word as to whether Red 5 will do a print run, but if you're looking for a new digital comic to check out I'd recommend Bonnie Lass #1. It's a lighthearted and spirited modern take on the pirate adventure that features lots of action and tons of rapid fire dialogue.

Fantastic Four #588 Final Issue

Here we are friends, coming upon a supposed milestone in the Marvel Universe. Fantastic Four #587 and Fantastic Four #588 will end the series as we know it, as well as the life of one of the members. On January 26 fans will be able to rip open their polybagged comic and find out which of the four will meet their fate, courtesy of Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting. But which character will it be? After the jump read my take on the four characters and which one will likely be the odd one out once "Three" is in effect.

Mr. Fantastic: Reed Richards is the rock. The stalwart. The man who has always been the unabashed leader of the group. Killing him would most likely be the easiest to do, as much of the recent storyline in the comic has revolved around him (his meeting with Galactus for instance). Details of the meeting are scarce, but Reed may be called upon to save the universe from something or another one more time. This may require him sacrificing himself for whatever greater good he perceives. Killing Reed would definitely have the "main character" impact that Marvel may be going for.

Would Marvel kill the patriarch though? Well, they killed Captain America, so they're not afraid to take that leap. Removing Reed from the equation would clearly have the biggest impact across the Marvel Universe as he is one of the most important characters. He's pretty much at the core of any mega event due to his intelligence, so I don't necessarily see him being the one.

Rank in New Three: One

Invisible Woman: Susan Storm Richards would definitely have a mammoth emotional impact if she was killed. The biggest impact would be on Reed and their two children, Franklin and Valeria. She's also always had that "thing" with Namor, which means he would feel the brunt of her death as well. Plus, as the only female in the group, there would be a certain uniqueness to her death that might garner the greatest reaction from readers. Throw in the fact that in the past she's been replaced by Storm and you could make a good case for her departure.

I'm a little skeptical though that she's really the one to go. Killing her is almost a "cheap pop" that would probably have a brief impact and set Reed and Namor on rages, but I do't see it doing much more than that. Her and Reed sort of come as a package, plus keeping her around maintains the Reed/Namor tension.

Rank in New Three: Two

Human Torch: Johnny Storm. The team hothead, both literally and figuratively. He's always been the goofball, the one that's never taken things quite so seriously. Ironically, the Fantastic Four Human Torch is predated by his Golden Age equivalent, who came about around the same time as Captain America and Namor. Captain America has been killed, so wouldn't it be fitting if Human Torch was next (considering he's sort of from the same era). His death would really only impact Sue (since she's his sister) and the group would definitely take a more somber tone.

Reasons for not killing him? Some would argue he's the most powerful of the group, sheerly because he flies and can control fire. You could also make a case that without him Sue may not have the same drive, leading to her (and subsequently Reed) possibly leaving the group. Then you'd go from four to three to one/two.

Rank in New Three: Three

The Thing: Of the entire time, Ben Grimm definitely got the shortest end of the cosmic ray stick. Sure he's super strong and built like a mountain, but that's the problem. He really is a rock. He was recently given the ability to return to his human form for about a week a year, but when he's in that form he's not the same Thing. Killing him would have a devastating effect on the team and readers. Not to mention he's the only member that's not technically "family," further exacerbating his outsider mentality.

He does have a few things going for him. He died briefly a few years ago and is currently a member of the New Avengers. He's also Reed's best friend and confidante, meaning that him dying would have almost the same effect on Reed as Sue dying. It would also be pretty impossible to kill him unless he can be reached in his vulnerable human form, so he won't necessarily succumb to the same factors as the other three.

Rank in New Three: Deceased

I really think The Thing is the one to go. As much as Marvel is hyping up this event, they know that people won't care too much about Human Torch dying. Sue Storm will be survived by Reed and her kids and Namor has never really built up that following that would make people truly care about his reaction. Reed dying just seems to easy and have the greatest impact on the universe as a whole, but because he's such an integral part the ripple effect may be more trouble than it's worth.

Thing is the outsider and has the mentality that he'll sacrifice himself for the good of the team. His death would actually unify the team even more as it will allow them to take stock in what they have in each other as a family. It would surprise me if they were galvinized by his death to the point that Reed continues to work feverishly finding a cure for him, even devolving into a state of insanity. It's one possible course but Thing's death definitely sets the new three up for a ton of storylines.

Of course, in a few years I'll probably be devoting an entire column applauding/blasting the return of whichever character dies. It is comics afterall. No one ever really dies (N.E.R.D.).

Solicitation - Darkwing Duck Annual

Ok. I'm not even going to go with some pithy intro to set up your interest in the Darkwing Duck Annual. The fact that the cover features Quackerjack with a camera in a nod to Alan Moore's The Killing Joke should be incentive enough to buy the book.

Written by Ian Brill and illustrated by James Silvani and Sabrina Alberghetti, Darkwing Duck Annual features Quackerjack wanting to play with the fine citizens of St. Canard. Since it's in St. Canard, that means it's up to Darkwing Duck and Launchpad to stop whatever zany hijinks he has in mind. The book also features the above cover and a backup adventure by Tad Stones, the man responsible for creating the character in the first place.

$4.99 this March.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Preview - Magdalena Origin Volume 1 TPB

Patience wasn't the first Magdalena. In fact, she wasn't even the first to be known as Magdalena in the Top Cow Universe. Who was you ask? Magdalena Origin Volume 1 TPB is a good place to start to find out.

Written by Malachy Coney and Marcia Chen (and illustrated by Joe Benitez), the 176 page TPB includes the first appearance of the Magdalena when she came to slay Jackie Estacado. It's $14.99 and should be available in stores now. Interiors after the jump.

Two New Characters Leaked for Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is due in stores February 15. It's a little over a month away. Despite that, Marvel and Capcom have been mum on unleashing all the details from the upcoming fighter, instead leaving to the Internet to uncover them. The latest discovery comes courtesy of artist Kevin Sharpe.

Sharpe "accidentally" put images on his portfolio revealing both Galactus and Taskmaster in the company of Dante and Deadpool. Another panel shows Hulk dragging someone by either the hair or a baggy hat...if it's the latter my money's on Green Goblin. Granted, these characters could just be for the story and not actually be included in the game, but seeing as how they've since been pulled I'm leaning towards them being characters.

February 15 folks. Panels after the jump.

Lead Actress Departs Spidey Musical

I can't entirely say that Marvel can't catch a break. Sure, "Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark" has been plagued with problems, but the show is continuing on as they say. The latest setback might be one that's a little more difficult to recover from though as one of the lead actresses is departing from the show. According to the NY Times Natalie Mendoza is leaving production.

The biggest reason for the departure would probably be the concussion she suffered last month during a preview performance. Her representatives and show producers have been working on an exit agreement for a few days now and an official statement is expected any day now. They're essentially hammering out what to say regarding her departure as yet another blow to the show could be somewhat detrimental to its prospects. Her last performance was December 20 and calls to her and her spokesman have gone unanswered. Why is this a big deal?

Mendoza portrayed Arachne, a villainess with a major role in Peter Parker's transformation into Spider-man. The character is a creation of the show's director, Julie Taymor, and came about after she had a dream about a teenager turning into a powerful superhuman. Much of Act II revolved around Arachne and apparently Taymor collaborated heavily with Mendoza in creating a distinct look and manner for the character. Arachne also has some pretty big musical numbers, including the title number and five other songs including "Rise Above" (an Act I turning point) and the finale "Love Me or Kill Me.”

This is a big deal on multiple accounts. It's a big deal for Mendoza, as this was to be her Broadway debut. It's a big deal for Marvel and Taymor because seriously, this show has been beset by problems since its creation. Having one of the lead actors depart this close to the show's opening (now in February apparently) is a massive blow that could be the one that knocks the show out completely. Sure I'm being a little fatalistic here but at what point does the show not go on? Mendoza suffered the concussion as a result of a rope holding equipment hitting her offstage. It was such a hit that she felt the need to post the below on her Facebook page:

“Thank goodness I had such a brilliant neurologist who made sure I recovered properly,” she wrote. “Nice to be almost back to normal … almost anyway haha! Thanking God for peace, real friends, love and health and healing.”

I'll admit that I'm somewhat excited for the musical. Something like this has never really been attempted before, nevermind with a character as high profile as Spider-man. It seems like every night at this point though something else has happened as a setback and the body count is at four actors/stuntmen now. Marvel will keep on it because they've invested too much at this point, but we'll see if they actually make their February 7 debut date.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Arrivals: December 30, 2010

Last week of 2010 when new comics will be shipped to stores for folks to get their hands on them. Because it's the end of the year it also means that comics will be delayed by one day (releasing Thursday) and that there's not a whole lot coming out. Not that there's nothing good coming out, just not a lot of comics coming out. This week it may be prudent to add Echoes #1 to you list, as it's the first from Top Cow's new Minotaur imprint. It looks to be a doozy.

Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and illustrated by Rahsan Ekedal, Echoes #1 features Brian Cohn, a diagnosed schizophrenic. He's living the nuclear family life, except the recent revelation that his father was a serial killer. The issue is the first of five.


New Arrivals: December 30, 2010

Defense with the BoomPick

Another day gone by, another work week to get through. The week sandwiched between Christmas and New Years is a rough one for a lot of folks, but comics can always bring some cheer into your life. Even during this week they are still churning out new ones. For tomorrow my pick is coming from Marvel about a character I think is one of the most messed up kinds to have in a comic. No I am not talking about Deadpool (he's pretty messed up in his own right) but Carnage and his comic Carnage #2.

If you thought the Venom symbiote was brutal you haven’t seen anything until Carnage comes along and boy does he come back ready to bring the pain. The streets of New York are flooded with panic stricken people trying to get out of his way. Meanwhile it’s up to Spider-man and Iron Man to deal with Carnage and get him under control before he destroys the entire city. Will these two superheroes be able to handle Carnage and stop him from the chaos he brings or could the villain win this one?

Review - Echoes #1

Mental illness is a malady that is still very much misunderstood by the public at large. When most people hear "schizophrenia" they probably think of a person that hears voices telling them to do evil things. Depression? That's just not being able to get out of bed and function. Often times, these ailments are used incorrectly for the sake of telling a story. When something like Echoes #1 from Minotaur Press (an imprint of Top Cow) comes along and reasonably addresses mental illness I'm pleasantly surprised.

Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov and chillingly illustrated by Rahsan Ekedal (letters by Troy Peteri), Echoes #1 follows Brian Cohn, a man with a lot going on in his life. Not only is his wife giving birth to his first son, his father is also dying and he himself is on multiple medications for schizophrenia. The same schizophrenia his father had that possibly lead him to be a serial killer of epic proportions. It's on his deathbed that Brian's father cryptically confides in him of his crimes, spurring Brian onto what will surely be a dark and twisted journey through his own soul and society's morals in general.

What's so impressive about this book is that it's particularly jarring. You have a man at odds with his father, seeking to make amends before he actually dies. His wife, while supportive, is somewhat patronizing to him about taking his medications. And then Brian himself lives his life by the beeps of his watch, reminding him to take pills at certain points of the day. His rationalization of the world around him always has him stumbling back to his diagnosis as a schizophrenic, which makes the discovery of his father's gruesome secret even more difficult for him to grasp.

There's a disconnect when it comes to hearing about a mental diagnosis and truly comprehending the debilitating effects of that illness. It's welcome when it's addressed maturely and at a visceral level, revealing to you the true nature of the beast that many struggle to contain. That's what's so brilliant about Echoes #1. Fialkov shows you how hard it is to cope with schizophrenia, even with medications. His choice of dialogue and reactions to seemingly trivial events are very well done and completely immerse the reader in this world of uncertainty faced by Brian.

I can't go on and on about Fialkov's writing without mentioning Ekedal. His illustrations are like very little you've seen before and work exceptionally well in black and white. There's a hazy shade to it that creates a general sense of unknowing. It's almost as if the reader is in the dark alongside Brian, both seeking answers on a journey together. It's rare that a book can pull a reader in like that but Echoes #1 does it superbly. Peteri's lettering is a nice addition as well, adding atmospheric emphasis to certain scenes (the rambler's fading text in the hospital is a nice touch).

Echoes #1 is a phenomenal first issue of a five issue series and has me hooked. Brian clearly wants to learn more about his father, but what he learns might be more than he can stand. If the remaining four issues can continue creating an atmosphere of a clouded mind readers could be for a treat. Interiors are below and the book should be in stores this week.

Mega Man Coming to Archie Comics

Archie Comics has apparently defeated PR Man and have upgraded their stable of weapons with the above image. It was sent out with only the caption "This April From Archie Comics..." and is no doubt teasing their upcoming Mega Man series, announced at NYCC 2010 and written by Ian Flynn and illustrated by Patrick Spaziante. Commence speculation.

Image Comics Moves to 3D

I don't know if I should be the one to break it to Image Comics, but the returns on 3D isn't quite as good as expected. That news isn't stopping them from releasing a 3D comic next February in Captain Wonder 3D.

The 48-page one shot comes from Brian Haberlin and Philip Tan and comes with 3D glasses. Captain Wonder is a superhero who has been missing for two months. Naturally, when the world renowned hero disappears things start falling apart, meaning 10-year-old Billy Gordon might be the world's only hope.

"With CAPTAIN WONDER, we developed an all-new 3D process, making this hands down the best 3D in comics," exclaims Haberlin. "We're sure we put the wonder back into comics with this book, and comics fans of all ages will not be disappointed."

Tan says, "Working on Captain Wonder was so much fun, creating a world, new villains, new heroes... It was a blast to work on, and it's a blast to read. So much new stuff out there is dark these days -- it was great to help create something that was fun and light!"

Full press release after the jump.

Image Comics comes in three dimensions this February with CAPTAIN WONDER 3D

Berkeley, CA - 27 December 2010 - This February, you'll be able to enjoy an extra dimension with the release of CAPTAIN WONDER 3D from Image Comics -- a comic book featuring the most advanced 3D ever used in the medium!

This 48-page one shot is from comics superstars Brian Haberlin (WITCHBLADE, SPAWN, ARIA) and Philip Tan (Green Lantern, X-Men, SPAWN), who share writing and art duties in this thrilling superhero tale. 3D glasses are included!

"With CAPTAIN WONDER, we developed an all-new 3D process, making this hands down the best 3D in comics," exclaims Haberlin. "We're sure we put the wonder back into comics with this book, and comics fans of all ages will not be disappointed."

Tan says, "Working on Captain Wonder was so much fun, creating a world, new villains, new heroes... It was a blast to work on, and it's a blast to read. So much new stuff out there is dark these days -- it was great to help create something that was fun and light!"

Captain Wonder is the superhero of this world -- he's saved millions of people during his 24-year career. But now everything is going to Hell in a hand basket: Captain Wonder has been missing for the last two months, and the harmony he so carefully protected is beginning to crumble. What happened to Captain Wonder, and when will he return? The answer may lie with Billy Gordon, a 10-year-old boy who may be in danger himself and may be the world's only hope!

CAPTAIN WONDER 3D, a 48-page full-color one-shot featuring the most advanced 3D technology in comics and the glasses to view it, will be in stores February 16, 2011, for $4.99.

Image Comics is a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded in 1992 by a collective of best-selling artists. Image has since gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. Image currently has five partners: Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri and Jim Valentino. It consists of five major houses: Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline, Skybound and Image Central. Image publishes comics and graphic novels in nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable. It offers science fiction, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today. For more information, visit

Monday, December 27, 2010

Defense with the Boomstick

(Disclaimer: This post is set in a world where zombies have taken over and people live in small spots all over the world. It’s a weekly broadcast of news from around the globe and a tip to help survival.)

Got a major storm hitting us again. This one has brought even more snow and cold temperatures, further freezing zombies. Anyone not inside a structure should get into shelter as this storm only looks to get worse and worse. Really too rough a storm to ride out on the move or camped in a tent as it will be too cold and snowy with even worse wind. This storm actually was a lucky break for us as we had zombies attacking a section of our wall the past few days. With them pretty much frozen it's been easy to drop rocks on their heads to crush them. Enough about the weather lets have the news.

I've heard from a few sources about these groups that are using the railroads that span the length of the United States. They keep the trains moving from place to place mostly for safety as they are heavily fortified, but still if you have a huge number of zombies swarming you danger still exists. They are also dropping supplies off from the government forces that the New England colony gave them and are currently in Oklahoma toward the western state line leaving supplies. I believe their final destination is going to be towards San Diego, but further away from the city picking up any survivors that want to go back out northeast. Beyond that don’t have any more news, now time for the tip.

Tip today will be about how to build walls using different materials than what you might think.

Now none of these walls are going to be one hundred percent effective, but a good stopgap to slow zombies down and give you more time to kill them before breaching your inner area or if need to escape. One example is to use cars to form you wall; removing the gas tank is your first move. Next up is to get the cars in place by pushing them however you are lining them up and slash and gut the tires to get the cars to sit as flat on the ground as possible. The gas tanks you can use to make the wall an explosive one if ever need to blow up all the cars to take out all the zombies pushing on them.

After getting the cars all lined up and with their tires slashed, flattened or outright removed next you want to line both sides with long tarps to help create a more uniformed line of a wall. May not seem like much, but if the tarp is securely tied down on the end and on the ground under the cars where it’s tough for zombies to grab a hold of you from underneath and also helps hide you and your group from sight better. I know it doesn't sound like the strongest wall, but if it's built as a larger outer ring to your base will help provide an extra layer of defense.

The main benefit of this wall is to help keep you and your activities out of the zombies line of sight, they will treat the tarped, car wall as another obstacle and move off provided no noise keeps them close. To use the gas cans and cars as a bomb wall string the gas cans between the tarps above the cars, making them easier to shoot blowing it all up in the process. If you do plan on ever blowing up the car wall do it as a last resort, because when you do it zombies all over the area will flock towards the noise so be warned.

That’s all I have for today. Until next week keep fighting and surviving.

IDW Reprinting Alex Toth

Raise your hand if the name Alex Toth rings a bell. It should considering he's a pretty spiffy comic artist who was also a pioneer in animation, working on Space Ghost and The Herculoids. It's only fitting that such an esteemed artist gets the hardcover treatment, courtesy of The Library of American Comics and IDW with the release of Genius, Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth in March 2011. The book, created by Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell, includes the first biography of Toth as well as access to the family archives.

Creative Director Dean Mullaney and Associate Art Director Lorraine Turner met with Toth’s two eldest children, Dana and Eric, to discuss the expansive plans for the three-book set. “It’s been a great pleasure getting to know them over the past two years,” said Mullaney, who worked with Alex Toth to publish the definitive Zorro editions in the 1980s. “To say that we’re all excited with the larger scope of the project is an understatement!”

Toth fans will find no shortage of quality stuff in here. Fans and friends have loaned original artwork, reproduced for the book. There's also examples of Toth's art (complete stories to rare pages) and an unfinished and unpublished pencil story from the 1950s. The collection covers his work at DC in the 1940s, work at Standard, his work on Zorro in the 1950s and even includes the complete Jon Fury pages that Toth completed while in the army.

Genius, Isolated details Toth's life story and work through the early 1960s. Genius, Animated reproduces hundreds of Toth's model sheets and storyboards for Space Ghost and Dino Boy, Jonny Quest, Space Angel, Super Friends, The Fantastic Four, Hot Wheels, Thundarr and Shazzan. There's even full-color presentation pieces designed to sell new series to the networks, should you have that killer cartoon being held back by a lack of presentation. Full press release after the jump.

by Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell

December 8, 2010 – Alex Toth is revered as one of the greatest of all comics artists. Others laud his pioneering work in animation, including his groundbreaking designs for Space Ghost and The Herculoids. His work influenced countless professionals in both fields. His biography and talents proved too big to be contained in a single volume. Therefore, The Library of American Comics and IDW is releasing the much-anticipated Genius, Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth in March 2011 as the first in a three-book set that will be the definitive statement on the restless genius and timeless legacy of Alex Toth.

Created by the Eisner Award-winning team of Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell—who produced the ground-breaking Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles—Genius, Isolated is a lavishly illustrated book that includes the first biography of this giant figure. The book has been compiled with complete access to the family archives, and with the full cooperation of Toth’s children.

Creative Director Dean Mullaney and Associate Art Director Lorraine Turner met with Toth’s two eldest children, Dana and Eric, to discuss the expansive plans for the three-book set. “It’s been a great pleasure getting to know them over the past two years,” said Mullaney, who worked with Alex Toth to publish the definitive Zorro editions in the 1980s. “To say that we’re all excited with the larger scope of the project is an understatement!”

In addition to art and photographs from the family, Toth fans and friends throughout the world have loaned original artwork reproduced in the entire series. Included are many examples of Toth’s art, from complete stories to rare pages, as well as—incredulously—a previously unknown, unfinished, and unpublished penciled story from the early 1950s! The tome covers his earliest stories at DC in the 1940s, his defining work at Standard, his incomparable Zorro comics in the 1950s, and a special section collects—for the first time—the complete Jon Fury pages that Toth produced while in the army, a section that alone is worth the price of admission.

Alex Toth was more than a unique and influential artist. He was a keenly insightful philosopher about comics, cartooning, and animation—with opinions on how they are created as opposed to how he felt they should be created. He wasn’t shy about expressing those thoughts, whether in sometimes-scathing personal letters, essays for publication, or letters to the editor. To flesh out the complete story of his life and art, Mullaney and Canwell have spent more than a year conducting wide-ranging interviews with dozens of Toth’s peers, friends, and family members. With a special introduction by Mark Chiarello, Genius, Isolated is the beginning of a comics biography everyone will be talking about for years to come.

Genius, Isolated details Toth’s life story and work through the early 1960s, when he began his sensational move into animated cartoons. The second book in the series, Genius, Illustrated, picks up the story as Toth becomes one of the leading character designers in television animation—continues through his renewed career in comics with Warren, DC, and his creator-owned properties of the 1970s and beyond—and includes an examination of the artist’s poignant final years.

The third book, Genius, Animated, is a lavish art book reproducing hundreds of Toth’s model sheets and storyboards for such successful cartoons as Space Ghost and Dino Boy, Jonny Quest, Space Angel, Super Friends, The Fantastic Four, Hot Wheels, Thundarr, and Shazzan…and also includes many full-color presentation pieces designed to sell new series to the networks.

Death of Zorro #1

Sooner or later, we all die. Is that fatalistic? Sure. But it happens. Even Superheroes die. Superman has died (and come back). Bruce Wayne has died (and come back). If comic deaths have taught us anything it's that comic deaths are somewhat trivial and no one is ever really dead. So when I mention that Dynamite is planning Zorro's death, take a deep breath, relax and realize that he'll probably be back.

Shipping in March 2011 is Death of Zorro #1 by Ande Parks and Esteve Pols. There's the obligatory Alex Ross cover, as as well as covers by Francesco Francavilla, Tom Yeates and Jerry Lawler. Zorro is in his sixties and has long since retired. He lives on a peaceful ranch in the state of California where he (as Don Diego) tends to his cattle, breaks horses and enjoys the company of his wife. That won't stop Confederate bushwhackers from attacking a nearby Indian settlement and bring Zorro out of retirement. He'll have help though in the form of the Lone Ranger.

Avengers Movie Features Skrull/Kree

Update: Marvel has apparently debunked the news by saying the information wasn't officially released by Marvel Studios. You can take that to mean two things. Either it really is wrong or Marvel is trying to do PR damage control and save the news for a big reveal on their part.

Ain't It Cool News
has an interesting tidbit up regarding the upcoming Avengers film. Mainly, it will feature the Skrull and Kree. Where'd they get this juicy tidbit? Strangely enough the Albuquerque Journal. The print edition of the periodical features the following line:

"'The Avengers" script will blend 'Iron Man', 'Thor', and 'Captain America: The First Avenger' story lines as the Avengers battle with two alien races, the Skrulls and the Kree."

Now, anyone outside of Albuquerque can't access that article without subscribing (the journal must abide my Rupert Murdoch's business model of putting everything behind a paywall in an effort to save print). Dying mediums aside, what does this mean for the film? Well, assuming it pans out it means a few things for the film.

First off it really makes sense. The Kree/Skrull War was a major storyline in Avengers #89-97. The original features a whole lot more than just Captain America, Iron Man and Thor; characters such as Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and, most interestingly, Ant-Man play a part in the story. This would work out well because then you have the core three characters that Marvel is trying to build their universe around along with the possibility of introducing new characters. It would also give it that intergalactic feel that Avengers sort of needs, as well as lots of space and fighting. People are going to want a popcorn flick when they see the Avengers, so Marvel will definitely make sure that it's chock full of fighting, drama and intense comic book action.

Second, Ant-Man has longed been rumored to be in development by Edgar Wright, with Nathan Fillion possibly reprising the main role. Including him in the Avengers movie would be a great audience test for Marvel to determine whether or not that film should actually go forward. I don't see them trying to crank it out before Avengers comes out, especially after Wright's relative non-success (financially) with the brilliant Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. He's one of the second tier characters that Marvel has always dabbled with making a feature character and would supplement a roster that includes Dr. Strange and Iron Fist.

Finally, involving the Kree/Skrull would be a great way to reboot Fantastic Four. The Kree debuted in Fantastic Four #86 while the Skrull debuted in Fantastic Four #2. The Fantastic Four have always had that intergalactic feel and featuring the Kree/Skrull in the Avengers movie would also give Marvel the chance to include the new look Fantastic Four in the film. Can you say springboard? It's an easy way for Marvel to get a lot of this stuff sorted out and continue to build their movie universe featuring all their characters.

Where the Albuquerque Journal got the news and whether or not it's true are for another day. Right now, I can say that if it pans out then it could make for an interesting Avengers film. Plus, there will most likely be an appearance by the Negative Zone, which would simultaneously freak and excite Tedd.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

Big Spawn anniversary issue coming up. I have to give Spawn some credit where credit is due. I am a fan, first of all. It was hard not to be, in the nineties. I mean for just a bit there, Spawn just broke out, you know? There were action figures, a movie (people seem to forget- John Leguizamo even starred as Violator/Clown), an animated series…even spin-off books, like Sam and Twitch (which, in particular, I am an even bigger fan of, believe it or not).

I think it’s safe to say that Spawn kind of launched a new renaissance of indie comics (if it’s even fair to think of Spawn as indie- I’m not sure it really is, these days). Image and Dark Horse, among others, started to step up to the plate and get their names and characters out there. Witchblade, Lady Death, Hellboy...Sam Kieth’s the Maxx will always have a special place in my heart. What made it work?

Well, the art was off the HOOK. Still is, really. Spawn just jumped off the page. The colors, that over-the-top superhero look and the fact that it really looked like he moved sometimes you know? Something about the little creases in the cape, I think. It’s like you could really imagine the chains and the cape like they were some kind of living, flowing, entity that responded to the environment. So it was sort of like Spawn is this guy, in a suit.

But the suit kind of IS Spawn, too. The outfit is alive (this is established, in the comics, at this point) and maybe has a certain influence over Spawn’s nature/thoughts, I wonder? I mean, explicitly, they’re separate entities. But it’s like this armament from hell is part of what makes Spawn who he is. Demonic. Unforgiving. Unyielding. And, really, I think that was the character’s other appeal. McFarlane wanted to make Spawn different. And I think I gotta hand him that, in the sense that he didn’t halfass Spawn’s personality or nature.

Spawn is a brutal, BRUTAL antihero. Maybe even THE antihero. You could label Spawn a superhero in the sense that he fights evil and runs around in a big, flowing cape. But that’s about as far as you could go. Spawn is from HELL. THE hell. With fallen angels that want to destroy heaven, and feast on men’s souls. All that stuff. And I think McFarlane always made it clear that that WAS Spawn’s true nature. A demon, a monster, a lost soul. Sure, he has his moments where there’s a little glimmer of humanity, a spark of his old life. And he DOES choose to ‘fight the good fight’. But that doesn’t mean he’s a nice person. I mean the only kind of thing that COULD fight the forces from Hell -on their own terms- would be someone just as bad, just as ruthless.

So, I guess I really appreciate how Spawn just so, unapologetically, pulls out all the stops in making the hero a really, REALLY scary guy. In that ‘it’s for the greater good, that someone be around to do these things’ sense. And the fact that the comic takes it that far. So that you’re really along for the ride with something that isn’t exactly what you think of as your traditional superhero spandex type does set it apart.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Review - Cyclops #1

Had a chance to take a gander at Archia’s latest import (translation) from France and Belgium- Cyclops #1. And- I’ve gotta say- I’m sort of pleasantly surprised.

I think (at the risk of offending the writer Matz and illustrator Luc Jacamon) Cyclops is very ‘missable’, just at a glance. Featuring a Halo-like war-time future, the basic premise of the comic is this: advanced technology allows soldiers in the field to broadcast video data to command and control personnel, as well as to major news networks across the world. Hence the name: Cyclops. The camera is the ‘eye’.

Okay. So that’s the gimmick, I suppose.

What strikes me about the comic is the really sophisticated sensibility of the story, however. Granted, the dialogue is a little ‘clunky’ (it’s a translation), but what I see coming together is a complex and cautionary tale about the nature of war. Most notably? What happens when the human race gets TOO GOOD at it. We use to be afraid that Russia and the United States would let loose with nuclear missles at obliterate the entire world.

And now? War is precise. Contained. Something you can watch happen, at home, on television. There’s a whole industry around it- from private ‘security’ firms to media journalists who win pulitzers for traveling in wartime areas… It’s sort of like war doesn’t have to destroy society anymore. War can just sort of happen. People get killed and lines change, but never so much that most people living outside of a disputed area have to do much but sit around in their homes and talk about their feelings about what’s happening on TV. It’s scary stuff. And this seemingly futuristic comic book hits disturbingly close to home, complete with open debate among United Nations members about openly legalizing and sanctioning the actions of privatized military forces (mercenaries).

I’m a fan of the book’s pacing, as well. If you’re into the whole high-octane, guns-blazing action-drama of most superhero comics (and I know you are. Admit it), you’re likely to find this book painfully slow. But I think it’s the gritty realism that’s supposed to kind of stick with you while you read it. Watching someone get shot should be a disturbing experience. Hell, LEARNING to SHOOT someone should be a disturbing experience. I think Matz really wants you to THINK about the action, not just take in over-the-top eye candy.

Thumbs up on the art by Jacamon, too. I’m afraid my attempts to describe it would probably offend most trained artists, since I couldn’t tell you what school or style it emulates. But it’s got this dreamy, Aeon Flux thing kind of going on I think. And the conceptual design of the architecture of the world the characters live in is REALLY impressive- like the kind of thing you’d see in storyboards for Hollywood films or something.

If you’re looking for something different, a little more thought provoking, you might be surprised with this book. Recommended. Interiors below.