Tag Archives: New 52

Upgrade or Downgrade? Animal Man Omnibus

2 Dec

by Mike Hansen

Animal Man OmnibusOkay, this is gonna be a quick one, since I’ve been away… I’ve been recovering from a rather inconvenient surgery (minor skin cancer, fortunately quite curable), so apologies for my infrequent posting over the last few months. One of the few things I’ve been able to do easily over the past several weeks has been to FINALLY organize my comics collection, so expect a lot more stuff in the near future. Onward!

The Animal Man Omnibus is 99% perfect. The story contents remain an essential touchstone for mainstream comics’ transition to more mature and deconstructionist material, and made Grant Morrison (The Invisibles, All-Star Superman, New X-Men, Doom Patrol, Batman, JLA, etc.) one of comics’ biggest names. (John Byrne did a fun, goofy take on a main character that knows it’s a fictional comic-book character in Sensational She-Hulk, which was published at about the same time as this Animal Man material – but Byrne’s mastery of old-school, 1960s/70s-inspired comics storytelling hasn’t received the same accolades as Morrison’s innovations.)

Secret Origins #39 cover

A missing Animal Man piece that’s finally been reprinted.

THE GOOD: This book features Grant Morrison’s entire run on Animal Man, including Animal Man #1-26 and a story from Secret Origins #39. Morrison took a ridiculous character (a guy in orange tights who gains the powers of animals) and built the perfect story around him, one that breaks down the entire idea of the role of superhero stories. The story is a must-read for anyone who appreciates a mature take on the frankly immature superhero concept, and has a permanent place in comics history.

Extras include all Continue reading

Upgrade or Downgrade? Hellblazer: Original Sins

19 Sep

by Mike Hansen

Hellblazer: Original Sins (1st printing)

Hellblazer: Original Sins (1st & 2nd DC Comics printing)

Occasionally, I’ll buy more than one edition of a graphic novel. Sometimes it’s by accident (which is surprisingly easy when one has thousands of books!); sometimes it’s because the newer one looks like a better version…

After a big move five months ago, I’ve finally gotten around to organizing my comics again, and I’ve discovered a LOT of duplicate material in some of my books. So as a Public Service, I thought I’d share what I know, so you can make a more informed decision on which books to buy. I’m a giver.

I’m starting with DC/Vertigo’s Hellblazer books, as I’ve managed to amass most of them over the last 21 years. It’s one of the best horror comics series of all time, so if all you care about is whether it’s good the answer is YES. Hugely imaginative, massively influential, the stories of John Constantine remain as potent today as they did when they were first published over the last 26 years. Even the character’s creator, Alan Moore, has praised the work of writers Jamie Delano and Brian Azzarello on the series, despite his general hatred of DC Comics.

the 1993 Warner Books edition

1993 Warner Books edition

(It’s a shame that DC decided to incorporate its “mature” characters back into its New 52 superhero line. If only DC knew how to properly manage its intellectual property and branding, instead of taking an “all or nothing” approach to its company-owned material, draining the life and power out of ideas that now fall far short of their potential. I’m grateful that a large enough audience exists for the “real” John Constantine so the Hellblazer stories can continue to be reprinted.)

I’ve given DC Comics a hard time a lot lately (because, let’s face it, that company has done a shit-ton of stupid things in public in the last few years – hell, in the last few weeks), but the company hasn’t survived for over 75 years by being stupid all the time. The DC of today doesn’t Continue reading

A tribute to Karen Berger and Vertigo

4 Dec

by Mike Hansen

Even though this news was expected for a while, it’s still a gut-punch now that it’s happened.

From today’s DC press release:

Karen Berger, Executive Editor & Senior Vice President of DC Entertainment’s Vertigo brand, has announced she is stepping down from her post after nearly 20 years at the helm of the award-winning literary imprint. She will remain on through March 2013 where she will be assisting in the transition to a new leadership team which includes veteran staffers whom she has mentored over the years.

First off: congratulations to Ms. Berger for her decades of amazing work in comics. She remains one of the best working comics editors (along with Bob Schreck, Diana Schutz, and a very short list of others). Few editors in comics history have had such a range of success or depth of influence. I’m eager to learn where she lands and what she does next: the sky truly is the limit.

I owe a lot of my evolution as a comics reader to Berger and the Vertigo line. For most of the 1980s, I was a Marvel zombie. The only reason I branched out of superhero comics was thanks to Archie Goodwin’s Epic Comics line at Marvel, with Groo the Wanderer and Elfquest first getting my money only because of the Marvel name on the cover. Those titles led me to search out other non-superhero material, and by the end of the ’80s I was a dedicated reader of titles like Usagi Yojimbo, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Aliens, and more.

But as wonderful as those titles were, at that point there were still few comics titles that had the literary aspirations that I was unknowingly missing. There were plenty of other terrific comics out there, but many of them were still seen as “underground” at that point (like most of Fantagraphics’ amazing output), and I was still a few years away from finally discovering essential material like Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and Matt Wagner’s Grendel. But the Vertigo line arrived at the perfect time, as an antidote to the Image Comics revolution that led to often poorly written and edited Image titles, and several years’ worth of even worse Image ripoffs from Marvel and DC.

Thanks to a well-marketed launch effort, I gave Vertigo a shot for the same reason that I’d given Epic a shot years earlier: this was a major effort at non-superhero comics from one of America’s biggest comics publishers (though DC, like Marvel, was and is focused almost exclusively on superhero properties). I tried almost all of those initial Vertigo books (Sandman, Death: The High Cost of Living, Shade the Changing Man, Swamp Thing, Doom Patrol, Enigma, Sandman Mystery Theatre, Hellblazer), and after that first month of eye-opening work I never looked back. (It probably helped that Vertigo debuted right as I was transitioning from high school to college!)

The sophistication and quality of the Vertigo launch led me to try many other publishers’ non-superhero comics in a way that Marvel’s Epic never had (probably in part because of my age and the era): Bone, Strangers in Paradise, Madman, Sin City, Cerebus, Beanworld, The Crow, Flaming Carrot, The Dirty Pair, Milk and Cheese, Martha Washington… it was a whole new Golden Age of comics, and Vertigo opened my eyes to it. (I was lucky to live near a comics shop that carried virtually every comic published every month – it was a great time to be a comics reader.)

And oh, man – the titles that Vertigo published over the years: The Invisibles, Preacher, Transmetropolitan, We3, Fables, The Unwritten, 100 Bullets, Y: The Last Man, Stardust, Kill Your Boyfriend, Seekers: Into the Mystery, The Filth, Goddess, reprints of Moonshadow and Blood: A Tale, and so many more blew my mind over and over. I am absolutely filled with gratitude for Berger, her impeccable taste in comics, and her talent at mentoring other editors to maintain the line’s quality.

DC tried creating Continue reading

DC New 52: Rejected cover to Sword of Sorcery #1 featuring Amethyst

18 Jul

by Mike Hansen

I’d love to know what non-creative executive made this decision.

Here’s the original pencilled cover to Sword of Sorcery #1, by Aaron Lopresti (who posted this on his Facebook feed today) – I got to see the original artwork at Comic-Con, and it’s terrific:

Sword of Sorcery #1 rejected cover

…and here’s the approved, redrawn color version (you can see the black-and-white version on Lopresti’s Facebook page):

Sword of Sorcery #1 final cover art

…which features the main character leaping out at the reader, just like on the cover to the previous issue (#0, by Josh Middleton):

Sword of Sorcery #0 cover

It could be worse. At least DC didn’t make the cover redrawn to look like this: Continue reading

Hey, it’s a Brand New DC NEW 52 survey

22 Jun

by Mike Hansen

Frankenstein (DC Comics)

A New 52 character. Also a metaphor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m back, folks!

Looks like DC Comics has stuck with Nielsen to offer another online survey – go here and let them know what you think of the New 52 so far. I just took the survey, and I was happy to let DC know what it’s doing right or wrong.

One thing to watch out for: “Orange Ivy” is the fake title this time. Make sure you mark that you’ve never heard of it, or you won’t be able to take the full survey.

A couple of thoughts on the survey:

Once again, there is no option for indicating that a customer purchased print comics from an online comics retailer. Some of the questions about going to a comics shop and making impulse purchases or whatever don’t really apply if some of the comics were preordered online.

Also, the survey did not ask any detailed questions about the characters, story, or creative teams – there was one question about how important these are to me when I buy comics. I suppose DC doesn’t want its readers second-guessing the always-fine decisions made by its editorial staff.

Anyway, check out the survey – and feel free to let me know what you think…

Links: The Oatmeal update, Avengers, New 52, World War Z, etc.

12 Jun

by Mike Hansen

The cover of World War Z

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Matthew Inman at The Oatmeal raised his $20,000 to spite FunnyJunk in only 64 minutes. He’s now at over $117,000.

Warren Ellis explains why he’s cool with Iron Man 3 using his ideas without paying him. (At least modern creators know what they’re getting into – too bad it doesn’t help the original creators that built comics in the 1930s-1970s.)

Liked the Avengers movie? Support the Jack Kirby Museum!

Were cave dwellers the first animators? Could be.

Speaking of animation – this is the greatest comics commercial I’ve EVER SEEN:

Why can’t DC’s New 52 commercials be that good? (And why are the currently running commercials advertising the upcoming collected editions almost exactly the same as the old ones? That’s a good way to get kids to tune out.)

Speaking of the New 52, it looks like Continue reading

Fun Friday Foto: NEW 52 edition

8 Jun

by Mike Hansen

Amethyst redesign by Aaron Lopresti 2

Amethyst redesign by Aaron Lopresti

DC Comics just announced that four of its New 52 titles will be replaced.

One of those titles being cancelled is Justice League International, mostly drawn by my former art teacher Aaron Lopresti. Fortunately, DC has announced four new series to launch in September, including Sword and Sorcery (featuring Amethyst, one of DC’s best 1980s characters) drawn by Lopresti.

He posted his Amethyst character design on his Facebook page today, and since I haven’t seen any comics sites repost it, I will here:

Amethyst redesign by Aaron Lopresti

Aaron posts artwork regularly on his FB page; I highly recommend Liking it.

Reminds me of some of his best work on Wonder Woman. He talks a bit about Amethyst here.

Here’s a few deets from DC’s press release:

Timed to the one year anniversary of the launch of the historic DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 initiative, DC Comics will introduce 0 month.

In September 2012, DC Comics will release 0 issues—and we don’t mean we aren’t publishing any titles—but what we will be doing is numbering every DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 title #0.

… debuting at #0 are four new comic book series:

TALON – Co-Writers: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV. Artist: Guillem March.

SWORD OF SORCERY – Writer: Christy Marx. Artist: Aaron Lopresti.

THE PHANTOM STRANGER – Writer: Dan DiDio. Artist: Brent Anderson.

TEAM SEVEN – Writer: Justin Jordan. Artist: Jesus Merino.

The four new series will follow with issue #1s in October and other series will resume their numbering.

More details in the link.

Have a great weekend!

The internet reacts to gay people in comics

29 May

by Mike Hansen

A lot of folks have piped in on this already, but here are a couple of images that I thought worth sharing:

TERRIBLE PARENTING

(Personally, I don’t have a problem with kids looking at either – kids are smart enough to know what they can handle. But this still makes a good point.)

Ty Templeton on why gayness matters in a super-heroThat’s really shoving it down our throats!  (Originally posted here.)

Before Watchmen’s non-cover on Previews

16 Mar

by Mike Hansen

Found this picture via Bleeding Cool:

Before Watchmen Previews cover

the back cover to the next issue of Previews, dropping in a couple weeks. Copyright Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, held hostage by DC Comics, Inc.

I guess the already-leaked covers to all of the Before Watchmen comics in this catalog weren’t deemed good enough to promote this “event.”

And it’s probably safe to say that the 1-for-25 and 1-for-200 variant covers, all by other artists, haven’t been drawn and/or approved by DC yet?

I thought I’d suggest some alternate text for this cover: Continue reading

MUST-READ: massive Alan Moore interview on Before Watchmen and much more (with COMMENTARY)

13 Mar

by Mike Hansen

Cover art for the 1987 U.S. (right) and U.K. (...

One of the best books you'll ever read. (Image via Wikipedia)

DUDE. A few comics sites and fan boards are already quoting from this, but it really has to be read in full.

Drop everything and CLICK HERE NOW.

Alan Moore has the balls to stick to his guns and tell the truth as he sees it about comics. A lot of fanboys and professionals (who are mostly fanboys) are going to hate him for this, but I loooooove it. Personally, I agree with a lot of what he says. Not all, but so what? He’s got my respect for telling it like he sees it. (And even if he was batshit crazy and spitting nonsense, like some clueless folks try to suggest, his work changed EVERYTHING, and that speaks for itself. Respect is due)

A few important bits, to get you to click over if you haven’t already:

…Yes, I still get a little bit of the money that I consider myself to be owed for these things.  But, it’s not really the money that’s the principle.  It’s the fact that I was lied to.  It’s the fact that the reason they offered us Watchmen was that they’d seen what I could do with their regular comics.  They could see that I was capable of moving them to a new area that comics had not ventured into before.  So, they offered us Watchmen and it worked out very, very well for them.  They were able to suddenly claim that all of their comics were “graphic novels” now–that they were seriously committed to a progressive comics medium that could produce works of art and literature.  But, that is never what they were concerned with.  It was always purely to do with commerce.

Man, the number of actual “graphic novels” that DC has published since Watchmen is probably less than 5% of its total output. It’s almost all serialized, unending bits of stories strung together. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, if it’s done right.

But, I resolved that I didn’t want to work for DC Comics ever again–or their subsidiaries.  This worked fine for a number of years until Continue reading

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