Apr 222014
 

Showcase Presents Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo CrewHere’s what’s of interest from DC Comics for July. Full solicitations are available here.

Comics

  • Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet #2, on sale July 2, $3 (digital-first)
  • Batman ’66 #13, on sale July 23, $3 (digital-first)
  • Adventures of Superman #15, on sale July 30, $4 (digital-first)
  • DC Comics Presents: Batman Adventures #1, on sale July 30, $8
  • Scooby-Doo Team-Up #5, on sale July 2, $3 (digital-first)
  • Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse #2 (of 6), on sale July 2, $3

Trade paperbacks

  • Showcase Presents Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew, on sale Aug. 27, $20
  • Astro City: Victory (HC), on sale Sept. 17, $25

Comments

There’s a lot to be interested in this month from DC, as the comics section above shows. A lot, that is, assuming one sticks with the digital-first/non-New 52 titles.

“Adventures of Superman” will continue in print form for a short while yet, collecting the last few digital installments of the now-cancelled title.

“Scooby-Doo Team-Up” looks like it’s going to have the gang meet the rest of the DC Universe after all. I suppose that (and the previously-advertised Teen Titans meeting) answers my question of whether or not super-powered superheroes exist in Scooby’s world. Anyway, this issue sees Scooby, Shaggy and company team up with Wonder Woman! Daphne and Velma get singled out in particular in the solicitation (“Amazon training?”).

The most anticipated trade paperback in some time comes in August (not July), as we finally get that long-delayed “Showcase Presents” volume of Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew! The oversized Showcase volume will reprint the entire original series, as well as the three-issue “Oz-Wonderland War” miniseries. The late 2000s miniseries has already been collected in a trade paperback, which means the entirety of the Zoo Crew’s print run will finally be available in trade paperback form, even if mostly in black-and-white.

 

Apr 162014
 

Teen Titans #1Other than Amazon’s purchase of Comixology, the biggest comics topic online in the past week’s been yet another embarrassing round of sexism by a vocal segment of comic fans.

To summarize: Janelle Asselin, a contributor to Comic Book Resources and comic creator, wrote a critique of the cover to the upcoming reboot/issue #1 of “Teen Titans.” (Yes, they just rebooted it for the “New 52″ three years ago, I know.) The cover in question is shown to the right. Along with the bad looking costumes (what’d they do with Raven?!), Wonder Girl came in for the most criticism. Wonder Girl’s traditionally a teenage girl—usually Donna Troy—with a teen-sized version of Wonder Woman’s powers. As Asselin notes, Wonder Girl looks rather artificially busty for an underage teenager, not to mention her costume’s design showing such off. Anyway, this criticism somehow attracted the attention not of the cover’s artist, but of another DC employee, Brett Booth, currently the artist on “The Flash.” Booth posted the following response to Asselin (after some Twitter debate) on Twitter (copied and pasted as-is):

I see, the only way I can refute your argument is to not use logic, biology, google and also I can’t have a penis. Sounds fair.

Things, well, went downhill from there. Besides further similar remarks from Booth, a sizable number of fans also posted various remarks slandering Asselin on Twitter, as well as nastier comments, including threats of rape. Asselin’s discussed and summarized all of this (with examples of various crass Twitter remarks) on her Tumblr blog.

While I’m not sure what else I can add that’s not already been stated more eloquently by others, including Asselin herself and The Outhousers, I thought drawing attention to this issue was important. Either way, stuff like this is part of the reason why many in the general public hold such a lukewarm view of superhero comics and its fans, per the still-prevalent stereotypes such as “Comic Book Guy” on “The Simpsons.” They do like superheroes (as last weekend’s “Winter Soldier” box office proves), and they like comics (webcomics, “Calvin and Hobbes,” “The Walking Dead,” etc.), but not the two together. Fans and creators sounding like, or not caring about sounding like, every negative comics fan stereotype (“Neanderthal 30-year-old losers living in their parents’ basements”) doesn’t help the medium of comics, nor the superhero comics genre.

Of course, as far as the general public’s concerned, the Teen Titans are these guys: Teen Titans (Cartoon Network) “Teen Titans Go,” the team’s current TV incarnation, got 1.5 million viewers on a March 26, 2014 telecast on Cartoon Network; meanwhile, the most recent “Titans” comic (“Teen Titans” #29) sold 25,969 copies. If anything, the Titans might want to try resembling their TV counterparts a bit more. (Well, the 2000s TV series version, not the slapstick “Go.”) For that matter, DC might want to avoid yet another round of controversy over a Titans comic’s #1.

Apr 142014
 

Adventures of Superman (digital)Yes, you read the subject line correctly: DC’s quietly announced that their digital-first weekly Superman anthology series “Adventures of Superman” has been canceled, as of today’s issue, issue #51. Its replacement? A new comic based on a video game, in this case “Infinite Crisis.”

For the past year, “Adventures” (along with the also-axed “Superman Family Adventures”) has been my favorite New 52-era Superman title. Avoiding or ignoring everything about the New 52, this series featured classic-style Superman stories, with most of the cast (Lois, Jimmy, etc.) in their familiar forms. The title made news this time a  year ago over its then-planned, then-dropped initial plan to use Orson Scott Card to write the first few issues.

Now, it’s been given the axe, with no indication if it’s due to low sales (gather it’s being outsold by the less-than-respectful-to-Supes “Injustice: Gods Among Us” title), or just to clear space for said video game tie-in. The cancellation also came with zero advance announcement or warning, despite a well publicized interview last week with Jerry Ordway and Steve Rude for issue #51 (now the final issue…no actual one-year anniversary for this title, apparently). I only learned about it this morning when buying the issue on Google Play, to find this in the issue description:

In the series’ final chapter, legends Jerry Ordway and Steve Rude tell the story of Superman’s first encounter with a hero from the future, OMAC: the One-Man Army Corps.

A few others on Twitter found out the same way. The cancellation was confirmed by the solicitation for “Infinite Crisis.”

With this title gone, that leaves the only DC material I’m regularly buying being “Scooby-Doo Team-Up” and “Batman ’66.” A bit more money on hand to try a few other companies’ titles, I suppose…

Apr 042014
 

Adventures of Superman (digital)News came a day or so ago that Google Play, Google’s digital media store, has started to sell DC Comics’ single issue comics. While Google Play’s been selling some of DC’s trade paperbacks for awhile, it hasn’t done such for singles until now. DC’s been selling their singles on the Nook and Kindle stores, as well as digital comics giant Comixology, which will continue, of course.

I’d been hoping for awhile to see DC’s singles sold on Google Play, so this is welcome news. Marvel’s singles won’t be joining them, as they’re exclusively available only through Comixology. Besides offering an alternative to Comixology, Google Play also offers the option of downloading one’s purchases as watermarked PDFs (and for some books, also as Adobe DRMed EPUBs), presumably to be as compatible as possible with various Android devices. Well, most of their comics anyway; some random ones don’t seem available as PDFs/EPUBs. A way of checking is to see if anything’s listed under the book description’s “Additional Information” heading. Those available as PDFs/EPUBs will usually have listed devices they’re compatible with (“Android 3.0+ tablet,” “Web, tablet,” etc.).

Now that DC’s singles have been added, hopefully we’ll next see Boom Studios’ single issue books join Google Play someday.

Mar 182014
 

batman_66_green_hornet1Here’s what’s of interest from DC Comics for June 2014. A full list of solicitations are available here.

Comics

  • Batman ’66 Meets Green Hornet #1 (of 6), on sale June 4, $3
  • Adventures of Superman #14, on sale June 25, $4
  • Batman ’66 #12, on sale June 25, $4
  • Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse #1 (of 6), on sale June 4, $3
  • Astro City #13, on sale June 11, $4

Trade paperbacks

  • Batman: Li’l Gotham, vol. 2, on sale July 30, $13

Comments

This month sees the start of a miniseries just for the “Batman ’66″ title—a crossover with the Green Hornet. Presumably the digital-first series is doing well for DC, if it’s meriting a miniseries.

“Tiny Titans” returns to DC in its own six-issue miniseries.

Despite being DC/Time-Warner’s current cash cow, Batman’s 75th anniversary this year feels more low-key than his pal Superman’s last year. However, two 75th anniversary volumes are being released in July: one for Batman, and another for the Joker. (Yes, the Joker didn’t debut until 1940, a year after Batman.) The Batman volume includes at least one “first meeting with Superman” story. Unfortunately, it’s not “Superman” #76 (the “Bruce and Clark meet on a cruise ship” story), but “World’s Finest Comics” #94 (Superman and “Powerman”).

Mar 142014
 

DC vs. MarvelNews has come that May 6, 2016 will see “Man of Steel 2″ (or whatever it’s eventually called) will be facing off that very same weekend against… Marvel’s third “Captain America” film. Details on The Mary Sue. (Update 4/7/14: Now officially confirmed in this Marvel press release.)

I highly doubt that this release status will stay intact… if anything, Warner Bros. has already dragged their feet on releasing any superhero films (with “Man of Steel 2″ their next one), versus the sizable number of Marvel films coming out between now and 2016. I doubt Warner Bros. wants to chance their next superhero film (and hoped-for keystone for a Justice League franchise) seeing a diminished box office due to a Disney/Marvel film. Of course, Disney doesn’t want their film to be hurt at the box office either, but there’s more at stake for Warner Bros. at this point.

So, I expect someone will be changing their release dates between now and May 2016… I’ll update this post when either side eventually “blinks.” On the unlikely chance neither does, I’ll be in line for “Captain America 3.” Barring anything that happens to Steve Rogers in the next few films, I assume Cap will maintain his usual optimistic tone, versus the cynical nature of everything about “Man of Steel” and (so far) its planned sequel.

Mar 132014
 

Bridget ClancyThis week’s minorities in cartoons entry is Bridget Clancy, a supporting character in Nightwing’s comic in the 1990s. Bridget first appeared in “Nightwing” (vol. 2) #2 in November 1996, and was created by Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel.

Clancy’s backstory states she was an orphan born in Hong Kong, but was adopted by an Irish couple and raised in Ireland, before eventually emigrating to the United States. Clancy (she preferred being called by her last name) described herself in one story as “me lookin’ like Kowloon and talkin’ like Londonderry.”

Clancy worked as a superintendant for an apartment building in Bludhaven, a city created for the “Nightwing” comic as a town near Gotham City with a supposedly worse crime rate. (Yeah, I know, “blood-haven”… yeesh. And worse crime than Gotham? Given modern stories beat to death the pessimistic idea that Gotham City is apparently the worst place on Earth, I’m not sure how Bludhaven could be worse… but I digress.)

Nightwing’s solo series started with Dick Grayson (the original Robin, now known as Nightwing) having moved to Bludhaven, finally giving the city an active superhero. Needing a place to live, Dick rented an apartment from Clancy, who took a liking to her new tenant. Humorously, Dick initially mistook Clancy as a Caucasian friend of hers, having initially only heard Clancy’s voice. Dick wasn’t the only super-type in Clancy’s apartment building: other tenants of hers included John Law (now-retired Golden Age hero the Tarantula), and an ex-Arkham Asylum inmate now reformed.

Clancy took pride in her building, and her tenants liked her in turn. At one point, she risked having her building foreclosed, which was fortunately avoided (thanks in part to secretive help from Dick).

Clancy and Dick felt some attraction to each other, and tried to date, but between Dick’s duties as Nightwing, his enrolling in Bludhaven’s police academy (from which he eventually graduated), and a growing attraction to Barbara Gordon, nothing could truly develop between the two. Clancy eventually decided to pursue her former goal of becoming a doctor. Enrolling in medical school (thanks to a scholarship assist from Wayne Industries), Clancy left Bludhaven, leaving her apartment building under someone else’s management. Sometime afterwards, Clancy’s old building was blown up by Batman’s old villain Blockbuster… and Bludhaven itself was eventually wiped off the map by the Metal Men’s old foe Chemo being dropped on the city.

As for Clancy, 2006′s “Nightwing” #118 has her and Dick meet again in New York City, where she’s studying psychology and happy to be pursuing her dream. From what I could find, she hasn’t appeared yet in the New 52 books, though I’d assume her history described above hasn’t changed.

Also from what I could find, Clancy hasn’t appeared yet in any Batman- or DC-related media, though if there’s any future Nightwing-centered media produced, I’d imagine they might be interested in using Clancy.

Feb 182014
 

Scooby-Doo Team-Up #4It’s time to see what’s of interest from DC Comics this May. Full solicitations are available here.

Comics

  • Scooby-Doo Team-Up #4, on sale May 7, $3
  • Astro City #12, on sale May 14, $4
  • Adventures of Superman #13, on sale May 28, $4 (digital first)
  • Batman ’66 #11, on sale May 21, $4 (digital first)

Trade paperbacks

None.

Comments

This month surprisingly sees the entire “New 52″ line do something fun: most of the issues will have variant covers by “Batman ’66″ cover artist Mike Allred, done in “Batman ’66″‘s style. Comic Book Resources lists the covers’ schedule (and a Wonder Woman variant cover).

This month’s “Showcase” volume features the unusual choice of “The Great Disaster featuring the Atomic Knights.” The “Great Disaster” was a post-apocalyptic future timeline in DC’s Bronze Age stories, presented as an alternate future to that of the Legion of Super-Heroes’ future. The “Great Disaster” was the era of Kamandi, the “Last Boy on Earth,” who lived in a “Planet of the Apes”-like sentient animal setting. Said future was also was the setting of the “Atomic Knights,” a group of adventurers.

“Scooby-Doo Team-Up” sees the gang meet the Teen Titans. The cover art suggests it’s the more anime-styled “Teen Titans” cartoon versions, despite Robin in the series so far looking like his conventionally drawn self.It’s interesting to see the Scooby gang interact more and more with the DC Universe. I always wondered if Superman exists in Scooby’s world, since whenever we did see superheroes, they tended to be non-superpowered heroes like Blue Falcon and Batman. Still, if Velma can meet Raven and Starfire, I guess the gang meeting the Last Son of Krypton isn’t too far-fetched.

Feb 142014
 

peter_cottontail_valentineHappy Valentine’s Day (or “day before the candy goes on sale for half-price”), all.

Like the similar holiday themed posts I’ve done, here’s one dedicated to the day dedicated to romance, affection, and other matters of the heart… and how it’s all presented in cartoons.

Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown

There’s no one “definitive” Valentine’s Day special, but an entertaining one is “Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown,” the 1975 “Peanuts” special about how Valentine’s Day equals (in true “Peanuts” fashion) unrequited love for everyone in the cast.

On TV: Since the early 2000s, ABC has rerun this special every year, usually paired up with a more recent Valentine’s Day special to fill out an hour, such as 2002′s “A Charlie Brown Valentine.”

On DVD: This special’s on several DVD releases, including a stand-alone release (coupled with late 60s special “You’re In Love, Charlie Brown” and 70s special “It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown”) and on the “Peanuts: 1970s Collection, Volume 2″ DVD set. For the former, you’ll be getting two strong specials and one weak one (“It’s Your First Kiss”), while the latter includes “It’s Your First Kiss” and several other specials typical of the mid-to-late 70s run.

Here Comes Peter Cottontail

While an Easter special, this Rankin-Bass classic involves time-travel to other holidays, including a scene (and song number) set on Valentine’s Day. I appreciate that Rankin-Bass remembered that February 14 is very much cold weather (snow, etc.) in a good chunk of the country, versus most media (probably a result of Hollywood’s southern California influence) treating it like it’s a warm spring day.

The Simpsons

The fourth season episode “I Love Lisa” centers around Valentine’s Day, Simpsons-style, from KBBL radio’s DJs playing “Monster Mash” by mistake to Bart triggering a Valentine’s-themed Vietnam flashback for Principal Skinner (Bart: “cool, I broke his brain!”). For good measure, we also get President’s Day (and another playing of “Monster Mash” by KBBL’s DJs… “doggone it!”). And of course, probably the best episode featuring Ralph Wiggum, who has a crush on Lisa after she’s the only one in the class to give him a valentine out of pity.

Google

Google usually offers a special Doodle for Valentine’s Day. In 2012, we got a nice animated short set to the tune of an old Tony Bennett song. It also manages to be gay-friendly (in a montage at the end).

Marvel and DC Comics

There’s been various Valentine’s Day cards featuring the two comic publisher’s superheroes over the decades. The website Andertoons has several examples of vintage superhero valentines:

I like that they included a valentine of Aquaman with Mera and Storm (the giant seahorse) in the 1980 DC set, as well as what seems to be a Superboy valentine (a young Kal-El in flight).

Feb 112014
 

Valentine’s Day is this week, so I thought I’d look at one of comics’ biggest romances, which of course would be the romance of Superman and Lois Lane. In light of that, and since comics love to pretend they’re showing major character events “for the very first time!” in various reboots, I thought I’d take a look at the comics’ major depictions of Lois and Clark’s “first meetings.”

Golden Age/Earth-2

Action Comics #1

“Action Comics” #1, June 1938

“Action Comics” #1, published in 1938, doesn’t show any elaborate first meeting of Clark and Lois, though it is the first-ever appearance of both characters. Instead, we see Lois has been on the paper’s staff for some time before Clark joined the staff. Clark and Lois’ first lines to each other: “W-what do you say to a, er, date tonight, Lois?” “I suppose I’ll give you a break…for a change.” “Action” #1 (and the much-later retelling/elaboration in 1986′s “Secret Origins” #1) shows Lois had been avoiding Clark, however; after an incident with mobsters at a night club requiring Clark to keep up his milquetoast persona, Lois storms out, telling Clark: “You asked me earlier in the evening why I avoid you. I’ll tell you why now: because you’re a spineless, unbearable coward!”

Of course, the relationship between the two greatly improved over time… with 1978′s “Action Comics” #484 revealing the tale of how Lois and Clark of Earth-2 were married sometime in the early-to-mid 1950s.

Silver Age/Earth-1

Adventure Comics #128

“Adventure Comics” #128, May 1948

While there’s no exact switchover issue from Earth-2 to Earth-1 for Superman’s comics, there is, chronologically, a first appearance for the Lois Lane of Earth-1—which also conveniently happens to be the Earth-1 first meeting of Lois and Clark: “Adventure Comics” #128, published in 1948. Yes, their first meeting was shown as teenagers, during Superboy’s era. (If curious, the first appearance of the adult Earth-1 Lois seems to be the present-day section of “Superboy” #1 in 1949, though the comics’ setting doesn’t fully switch to Earth-1 until the mid-50s.)

The plot: Teenaged Clark wins a contest to work as a cub reporter for the “Daily Planet” for a week, and goes to Metropolis. At the paper, Clark meets the other winner of the contest: a teenaged Lois Lane. (Their first thoughts about each other, expressed in thought balloons: “Golly! She’s so pretty!” “Golly! He’s so unexciting!”) Lois, learning Clark is from the same town as Superboy (Smallville wouldn’t be named until 1949′s “Superboy” #2), asks Clark various questions about the Boy of Steel, while Clark wishes Lois were more interested in his civilian alter-ego. The paper’s editor (not Perry White here—presumably, he’s still a reporter or lower-level editor at this point in their lives) decides to award whichever teen brings the best story the honor of front-page publication, with a byline. Lois also makes a side bet with Clark (an ice cream sundae) over who’ll bring in the winning story.

As the story goes, Lois ends up beating Clark to filing several stories, as Clark’s forced to go into action as Superboy each time. Eventually, Lois also uncovers a group of crooks’ scheme, which Superboy rescues her from… but the resulting story wins Lois the front page byline, and her ice cream sundae bet with Clark. As the week ends, Lois and Clark both head back to their respective hometowns, with Clark wondering if he’d ever see Lois again.

Action Comics #500

“Action Comics” #500, October 1979

Of course, Lois and Superboy do meet again several times between this point and adulthood, but Lois doesn’t meet Clark again until they’re both adults, with Lois already employed at the “Planet.” (“Who’s Who” states Lois did work for the “Planet” during college summer vacations, establishing her at the paper well before Clark showed up.) Their first meeting as coworkers at the “Planet” has had two major versions: the first shown in “Superman” #133 in 1959 (“How Perry White Hired Clark Kent”). The second version was an updated and summarized version of “Superman” #133′s story for “Action Comics” #500 in 1979 (a retelling of Superman’s life story). It’s the second version that sees Clark proves to a skeptical Perry his journalism merit by writing a story about Superman defeating the Anti-Superman Gang with a fake kryptonite ruse—said story that Lois had been working on cracking for a week. Lois’ response to Clark scooping her: “I don’t know how you did that, ‘Mister’ Kent—but unless you want your life to be miserable around here…don’t ever do that to me again!”

Lois and Clark’s relationship improves, of course, with the two even dating briefly in the 70s. Various stories flashing-forward into the future, particularly 1980′s “Superman Family” #200, shows Clark does eventually marry Lois (presumably winning her over as Mr. Kent, not as Mr. Superman). The final (non-canonical) pre-Crisis story, “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?,” shows a different sort of wedding between the two, of course.

Post-Crisis

Man of Steel #2, 1986

Man of Steel #1, 1986

With the post-Crisis reboot of Superman in Byrne’s “Man of Steel” comes yet another take on the first meeting of Superman and Clark. Here, Clark is once more shown getting hired at the “Daily Planet” by writing about his alter-ego, in this case, getting the first-ever “interview” with the Man of Steel. However, Lois and Clark had met in issue #1 of the “Man of Steel” miniseries, when an uncostumed Clark used his powers to rescue the endangered experimental “space-plane” (that Lois was on) from crashing. Lois’ first words to Clark (just before he flies off): “hold it right there, buster!”

Later (in “Man of Steel” #2), Lois does meet the “proper” Clark Kent, after the latter was hired by Perry. Clark had turned in the first-ever “interview” with Superman…which Lois had spent the entire issue working to get. Unlike other first meetings, we don’t see Lois’ obviously-angry reaction to her new coworker’s scoop.

Eventually, Lois and Clark started to date each other, with the two marrying in 1996′s “Superman: The Wedding Album.”

Several later storylines would show some revisions to “Man of Steel”‘s versions of events, particularly “Birthright” in 2003-2004 and “Superman: Secret Origin” in 2009-2010.

The New 52

"Action Comics" (volume 2) #3, January 2012

“Action Comics” (volume 2) #3, January 2012

Unlike the other continuities above, I couldn’t find a clear “Lois meets Clark for the first time” meeting for the New 52, which somehow doesn’t surprise me. From what I can tell, the first interaction between Lois and Clark is in “Action Comics” (volume 2) #3, where Lois meets Clark and Jimmy at a diner. In this issue, Lois is meeting Clark under orders from the “Planet” to try to get Clark to come work there instead of at his then-current reporting job with the “Daily Star.” However, an earlier adventure has left Clark badly bruised. Lois’ first line to Clark in the New 52, upon seeing Clark? “Kent, you look like something a pig couldn’t hold down.” Clark’s response? “Duly charmed.”

Unlike other versions, Clark and Lois are just friends, with the two not dating or showing romantic interest in each other. Superman’s shown dating Wonder Woman (for ill-conceived reasons), while Lois has someone else as her boyfriend.

Conclusion

That about sums up the major comic first meetings. Of course, there’s various other “first meetings” from other media, including the movies, TV shows, etc.