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Comic Rack: New JLA, A New Green Lantern, & Jack Kirby’s Birthday!

Welcome to Comic Rack! My pick of the top five comic news stories in no particular order…

A New Justice League In 2013!

Jim Lee and Geoff Johns have been hitting it off pretty hard with the New 52’s Justice League, a book that’s been breaking sales records in an industry that people thought was growing stagnant. Now with a book that’s selling well and a movie that’s in the works, it’s clear that the Justice League is back to the forefront of fans’ interest. Accordingly, Geoff Johns, DC”s head maestro, is looking to re-debut the more traditionally named Justice League Of America, next year.

Via [GEEK]

“This is a very different kind of team book,” says Geoff Johns in a DC blog post. “On first glance, people might think the heroes of the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA stand in the shadows of Superman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the JUSTICE LEAGUE, but [they] thrive in the shadows. They’re underdogs who have everything to prove and something to lose. They’re a team of unlikely heroes who will help one another discover they’re as A-List as anybody — yes, even Vibe. Though getting there won’t be easy. Why they’re formed, why each member joins, what they’re after and who the society of villains is they’re trying to take apart will all be clear in the first issue when it hits early 2013. David and I are really focused on delving deep into what it’s like to not be a member of the big seven and why, sometimes, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”

The roster of heroes to be joining will be Green Arrow, Katana, Martian Manhunter, The New Green Lantern (Baz I presume), Star Girl, Vibe, Hawkman, and Catwoman. Which really does sound like an… eclectic team to say the least. But if there’s one thing that Geoff Johns is good at, it’s making lesser, forgotten, or wayside characters shine and pop like they’re brand new again. Case in point being Aquaman, which is one of my favorite DC books right now, and that in and of itself is a sentence I never thought I’d type. So I’m looking forward to the new JLA, since at the very least, it’ll be interesting to see Green Arrow try to hit on Catwoman.

Invincible’s Spin-Off Finally Looming Into Becoming A Reality.

For a while in 2010, Invincible was probably the best superhero book on the shelves. Not that it’s gotten bad or anything, just the opposite, but back then the Viltrumite War was happening, and that story arc was really kind of the climax of the entire story that Invincible had been building up to. Now it’s rebuilding it’s world, and it’s heroes to that effect, and in doing so, is expanding it’s actual line up by bringing back the Guardians Of The Globe, who fans of the book will remember as the Justice League analogue in the book. A few months ago,the book’s writer, Phil Hester, spoke about the book, and where it falls into place regarding the Invincible Timeline:

Via [Newsarama]

“The Invincible Universe has outgrown its parent title and I’m very excited about being able to tell larger, more in depth stories with some of the key players from that book in this series,” said GUARDING THE GLOBE creator/writer Robert Kirkman, “Phil Hester and Todd Nauck are well known to fans of superhero comics and I think people are fully aware that they’re going to knock this book out of the park.”

I’m interested to see where he takes the heroes we’ve come to know and care about in the Invincible/Image universe, and the idea of seeing Brit back in action sounds pretty great. Best of all, you can even check a 6-Page preview of the book right here.(link)

The New Green Lantern, Baz, Is Arab-American.

I know, for some of you, this shouldn’t mean anything, and good on you for thinking it doesn’t, because it shouldn’t. However, it unfortunately does, and a small section of xenophobic comics fans, whether they want to admit it or not, will have a problem with this.

via [Newsarama]

 “The confirmation comes from an unlikely yet reliable source:  Green Lantern writer and DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns is appearing on Sept. 8 at the Arab American National Museum in Detroit to mark the hero’s debut, according to a story in the Detroit Free Press.

The article, which called the hero the “first Arab-American Green Lantern,” is also the first DC confirmation of the character’s name — ‘Baz’.”

Believe me, I want to say that this kind of story should be no big deal, but the fact is that some people will make it out to be. A similar thing happened a long time ago when they had Nightrunner back in 2011 for Batman Inc. Nightrunner was a Muslim character who lived in France, of all places, who was taking up the mantle of Batman there. Unfortunately, the mere fact he was Muslim led people to thinking he was “Terrorist Batman”, (which is literally what Mark Millar does, but that’s neither here nor there), and people judging the character before even reading anything or knowing anything about him, and that’s without that character even BEING Arab or anything. Hopefully, I’m over-speculating, and it’ll be no big deal at all, but I do have to give kudos to Geoff Johns for trying to expand the idea of an establishing the idea that a superhero doesn’t need to be a white person, and having a representation in the book there for the plenty of Arab-American comics fans.

Wait, what? Why are they beating him up? Oh Man…

Uncanny Avengers Spearheads The Lineup of Marvel Now, Marvel Insists It’s Not A Reboot.

Fans of Marvel will have a lot to look forward to in the coming months, as we’ve previously detailed here at GB. But what’s interesting is the basic idea of trying to unite the two different sides of Marvel fandom. One being the Avengers/Marvel U fans, and the other being the longtime X-Men fans. This summer’s big event AvX was an attempt to start this, and really has kicked things off for them to cancel, revamp, and re-begin (I’m trying to avoid the word “re-boot”) certain main titles in the effort to make all X-Men fans, Marvel fans, and vice versa.

via [CBR]

“It’s a team of characters comprised of characters coming both from the Marvel heroes, Avengers side of the fence and characters from the X-Men side of the fence,” said Brevoort. “It’s our cats and dogs in the same pen book.”

Alonso added that part of the major appeal of “AvX” is that it spans the entire Marvel Universe as opposed to just the Avengers, Spider-Man or the X-Men segments — something he hopes will continue with “Uncanny Avengers.” “With ‘Uncanny Avengers,’ you’re going to see a book that’s going to be relevant to both types of fans: the fans who gravitate towards the Avengers and the larger Marvel Universe and fans who are all about the X-Men.”

That’s just one of the main focal points that they’re trying to get across to their fan base, but along with that is their plans to with Marvel NOW! Point One, which is a collection of stories by big name Marvel Creators such as Brian Michael Bendis, Steve McNiven, Jeph Loeb, Ed McGuiness, Nick Spencer, Matt Fraction and more.

“Marvel NOW! Point One’ is sort of the kickoff of our entry into Marvel NOW! and also gives a new setup and little taste,” said Brevoort. “Completely all-new stories that are not the first eight pages of the individual books that are involved of a number of new titles that are coming out in the context of a full story. All — I think it’s 50 pages of this thing — are new content by the biggest creators.”

There’s a ton more in the article where they even mention the New 52, and it’s switching of creative teams early on, as an example of what they will NOT be doing. Along with that, there’s the brief mention of digital content codes being included in books priced at $3.99, and a few other tidbits that are all very enlightening about the longterm goals of this re…launch. Ahem. Anyhow, make sure you go back to CBR and read the whole thing, because there are loads more interesting anecdotes from the Marvel VP of Sales and Marvel’s Editors on the whole shebang.

In Case You Didn’t Know Or Forgot, This Week Was Jack Kirby’s Birthday!

August 28th was the day, and if the man was still alive today it would have been his 95th birthday. If for some sick reason you don’t know, Jack Kirby is the one who many believe to be TRULY responsible for the myriad Marvel characters you enjoy, and that the credit is unfairly balanced towards Stan Lee in his stead. Personally, I’ve always loved both, but it is pretty prevalent that Kirby, outside of the comics world, has never gotten the recognition for his work that Lee has. Regardless, Kirby has contributed to the comics landscape with unforgettable, imaginative characters and worlds that are timelessly evocative and creative. He was the guy who brought us Captain America, many of the X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Hulk, Thor, Darkseid, The Fourth World, The Anti-Life Equation, The New Gods, and so many others that we love.

I’m not hating on Stan Lee, but there’s a reason he’s Stan “The Man”, and Kirby is “The King”.

Comic Rack: Marvel Now!, ‘Chew’ Writer Getting His Dark Knight On, And A Vertigo Event?

Welcome to Comic Rack! My pick of the top five comic news stories in no particular order.

Marvel NOW! is still totally not the NEW 52…

Marvel, not content to see DC’s renewed success with their New 52 lineup, is approaching their status quo in the universe with a focus on relaunched titles, renewed book numbering, and reshaping the entire current landscape of the Marvel Universe. The idea, as far as I can tell, is that the new books are meant to jump start things in a new direction, without actually rebooting anything a la DC. All the insistence of the whole thing not being a reboot seems a bit pedantic to me, but I understand that they’re trying really hard to differentiate from DC in their objective. While it sounds fishy at first, the main distinction is that old continuity will NOT be forgotten, effectively making the whole re-launch just a company wide creative shake up. A few notable creative teams being moved around were listed on CBR:

“Uncanny Avengers” by Rick Remender and John Cassaday starring a team composed of Captain America, Wolverine and others from the company’s two powerhouse franchises battling the mutant-hating Red Skull.

“All New X-Men” by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen realigning the mutant team in the wake of “AvX” as the original five X-Men are mysteriously brought to the present day. This title will launch in November.

“Avengers” by Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opena, which is light on specific details aside from a roster of 18 heroes in a bi-weekly comic that seems to be Hickman-esque rethinking of the Avengers core mission in the vein of the writer’s “Fantastic Four” run.

Along with that, is also a number of titles coming to a conclusion, to make way for other newer titles, or similarly titled relaunches of the same books. A list of the series ending this October, comes from Newsarama:

Captain America, The Mighty Thor, Incredible Hulk, Invincible Iron Man, Fantastic Four, FF,Uncanny X-Men, New Mutants and X-Men Legacy are all ending in October…

It kinda goes without saying though, that the lot of those will get picked back up by other creative teams and go on. Most comic fans I’ve talked to don’t seem too excited about the relaunch, or what is going on in Marvel NOW.  The main sentiment is that they’ve done this re-numbering thing a bunch of times, and don’t see how this is any different. While there ARE certain differences, what with creative focuses being changed, the cosmic characters coming into a larger limelight, and Uncanny X-Men flat out ending, I’m finding it hard to exactly say WHY this relaunch was warranted, other than “DC did a reboot, lets copy it but not really”. Marvel has never really had the weird, long, confusing continuity problems DC had, and while sure, it had it’s share of inconsistencies and retcons, it was nowhere near as broken as DC.

I suppose the good thing is that all the new Marvel fans from the movies will be happy that they’re soon get a solid jumping on point. I remember a friend of mine who loved the Iron Man movie but never read a Iron Man comic before, and when he entered a comic shop, was utterly confused and overwhelmed by the 5 different Iron Man titles going on at that time. And who could blame him? Getting into comics is hard for a newbie, but Marvel better stick to its guns, because you can’t just re-number everything every two years and pretend like you’re making it “easier” for new readers to jump on. Marvel Now! is a good idea, just like the New 52 was a good idea, but they gotta commit.

For more Marvel Now! news, head over to CBR.

‘Chew’ Writer John Layman Brought On For ‘Detective Comics’!

I once had the pleasure of meeting John Layman at my LCS before Chew really blew up as the success it now is, and can say he is absolutely a completely nice guy, and a bit of a nut bar. While he’s known for his sense of humor, what with the very funny Chew and Mars Attacks, I believe a guy like him can definitely hold his own in a dramatic workspace. I’ve long advocated that Comedy and Drama are two sides of the same coin, and that the talent needed to be good at one is the same needed to be good at the other. While some may balk at the idea of a silly, less serious Batman at the hands of Layman, his recent interview with CBR points otherwise:

CBR: Batman, traditionally, is a pretty straight shooter. I mean, he’s the Dark Knight for a reason. “Chew” and “Mars Attack” are both really funny. Are you bringing the bwa-ha-ha to “Detective”?

Layman: It’s not going to be a comedy and I am not going to treat the character with disrespect, but I don’t think it’s going to be as heavy as some of the other series. Scott Snyder does fantastic Batman stories, but he’s got more of a horror writer background and it shows. This is a delicate question. I don’t want it to sound like I am making Batman into a wuss, but I would like to concentrate on more of the detective part of the character. I want to make very smart, surprising stories and make them a little bit more adventure-y rather than horror.

CBR: And if you go back to early Bob Kane Bruce Wayne/Batman, that’s what he was. “The World’s Greatest Detective.”

Layman: But that’s not to say that I’m going to make it goofy. I just don’t think the body count will be as high. I don’t know. I am just going to have some fun and be true to Batman.

Now I love my Scott Snyder horror style Batman, but I’ve LONG loved to see Batman portrayed as the Super Sleuth he used to be. It’s even one of my few criticisms of Nolan’s Batman from the films. Batman’s super power is his mind, he’s there with a plan for everything, and is always 10 Bat-Steps ahead of everyone else at every moment. Too many people focus on his darkness and brooding and forget what range his character can really have, and seeing Layman specifically mention he wants to make surprising, lighter adventure stories, is a breath of fresh air. Plus, if we’re lucky, we’ll get to see Joker be funny again. Darkly humorous Joker is the best Joker, by far. Go Layman!

DC Execs Hint at Vertigo Event!!!

DC right now has a pretty big ball rolling. They’ve got the Third Army/Green Lantern Event, The Swamp Thing/Animal Man crossover, and Before Watchmen all going at once in the concurrent months ahead. Not content to be settled with just that though, they’ve gone and subtly hinted that yet another event is planned, this time to be revealed at the SDCC Vertigo Panel (we’ll have more on this later), which I now really wish I was attending.

Nrama: Are there any plans for an event related to the Vertigo line? It seems like that line is being left out of the excitement with all this New 52 stuff.

Wayne: You should definitely check out our Vertigo panel in San Diego next week. My colleague, Mr. Cunningham, is going to moderate, but I’ll be in the back.

Nrama: So for those of our readers who aren’t going to San Diego, are you saying there’s an announcement about an event coming during the Vertigo panel? And I did say “event,” which you didn’t correct, so you’re going along with that word?

Wayne: We’re not going to tell you any more than that. [Newsarama]

What could that mean? What exactly would a Vertigo event entail? Are we gonna get John Constantine fighting that I, Zombie girl? Or holy hell, is The Unwritten going to crossover into main DC continuity, and create the biggest double reverse mega-meta-mind f*** of all time? I’ve no clue what they could be meaning by a potential Vertigo event, but hot damn am I curious. My mind is reeling with possibilities, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Black Lightning & Blue Devil Make Their New 52 Appearance!

Supascoot here, treading on other people’s articles again. While there are a lot of characters who have yet to show up in the New 52, news has recently been released that brings two longtime heroes into the New 52. But there’s a twist. it looks like the two heroes are actually going to be a new duo premiering in the pages of DC Universe Presents written by Marc Andreyko with art by Robson Rocha. CBR sat down with Andreyko for the full scoop:

CBR News: I understand you’re using both Black Lightning and Blue Devil. My first question then is the most basic one: what is your story about and why use these two characters?

Marc Andreyko: Well, the story originated after WonderCon; I was at Disneyland with [DC Comics Co-Publisher] Dan DiDio, and we were talking and he mentioned the concept of Black and Blue — Black Lightning and Blue Devil. This was just in passing as we were waiting in line for rides, and then I kept bugging him about it and the ideas just started flying. It’s a grand tradition in entertainment, literature and films of two people who are complete opposites becoming friends in spite of themselves, whether it’s Maddie and David on “Moonlighting” or Felix and Oscar on “The Odd Couple,” or even Bert and Ernie on “Sesame Street!” So the idea of taking these two characters, one who was explicitly magic-based and one who was explicitly not, added metaphorically to the differences they had. The book is taking place in Los Angeles, and we’re not starting with an origin story. We’re starting with these guys having already been established. It’ll leave unanswered questions to how they got where they are, which I always find interesting. Most of us don’t pick up comic books with the very first issue, at least originally. You start in the middle of the storyline and then you fill in the details retroactively as you go. I think that adds to the intricacy and interest of a character.

Now you said that the two are essentially an odd-couple pairing — how do they work as foils for each other?

In the story, personality-wise, Jefferson Pierce is an Olympic-level athlete, so for him the training and discipline begets power, whether that’s athletic power or honing his lightning skills. Magic to him is kind of foreign because magic tends not to be from A to B to C — magic is sometimes A to C and then all around. So Blue Devil’s very powers are contrary to the way Jefferson thinks and the way Jefferson lives his life. Jefferson is a very focused guy. You have to be to be an Olympic athlete. You have to have discipline and training. Dan comes from a Hollywood family and has always been this kind of guy who glides through life, taking jobs when he needs them and then, when the money runs out, taking another one. Magic sort of extrapolates on his persona. The conflict there is both personality-wise and super-powers.

The original Blue Devil was a Hollywood stuntman who was magically fused to his suit. In your take on him, are you losing the lighter, comedy aspect to his character?

Oh no, not at all! These guys are definitely Riggs and Murtaugh from “Lethal Weapon.” No, Dan is definitely the lighter one, the jokey-er one. Once again, going back to another pop culture reference, he’s Bruce Willis to Black Lightning’s Cybill Shepherd — without the romance!

Then what is the tone of the story overall? Is this going to be a light-hearted buddy comedy? A more serious superhero story?

The answer to that is actually yes to both. I don’t think one excludes the other. For me, the best dramas always have moments of comedy in them because they allow you to diffuse some of the intensity and dire things that happen. If something is too grim all the way through, it becomes white noise, and if it’s too comedy, it feels superficial. The comedy in these stories comes organically from the characters and the situations they’re in; there aren’t going to be pratfalls and cream pies or that sort of thing. It’s not putting jokes in and reverse engineering a story out of them — it’s the jokes and comedy coming out of story itself. There will definitely be stakes and high drama and there will definitely be tragedy involved, but once again I think having lighter moments only add to the intensity of more serious moments.

Definitely an interesting take on the characters, and it leads us to believe that with the de-aging of Black Lightning his two grown up hero daughters (Thunder & Lightning) will have no place in the New 52. I was never a huge fan of Blue Devil, but Black Lightning has certainly always been at the forefront of the DC Universe, and I am looking forward to reading more on the new versions.

A ‘Death Of The Family’ For Batman?

One thing that even the most avid anti-DC fan has to admit, is that they’ve been pulling off entertaining Batman stories. You could argue about which are the best, but generally I think everyone agrees that as of now, Scott Snyder has been knocking Batman out of the park. His run on Batman has been gripping, creative, and really creepy with each issue, and it only looks like it’s gonna ramp up considerably with his planned Joker centric story arc, “Death Of The Family.” Back in Detective Comics #1, we saw Joker willingly lose his face to the Dollmaker, and in subsequent issues be kept as a bizarre relic, pinging with ominous foreshadowing every time It was shown again. Now we’re going to finally get some payoff from that incredible moment, and Scott Snyder’s excellent blend of creepy sauce and creativity is gonna give us a Joker that we’re all dying to see. Snyder talks about his take on Joker, over at CBR:

CBR News: The last we saw of Joker in the New 52, he had literally gotten his face peeled off by Dollmaker, and the promo image for your storyline showcases his skinned face. Is the peeling off of the Joker’s face going to be touched on and explained in your story?

Scott Snyder: That’s an element you’ll definitely see addressed and explained and built on in this story. When Tony [Daniel] was working on that, he brought it up to me and I knew there was a story that I wanted to tell with Joker that would trail out of that. So that’s something that will play a big part in terms of Joker’s look, but also his whole psychology.

CBR: Let’s talk about that psychology, because Joker’s been everything from an evil mastermind to someone who is absolutely, clinically insane. What’s your take on the Clown Prince of Crime?

Snyder: For this story, we really wanted this to be Joker at his most unleashed and vengeful; this Joker has an axe to grind and a point to prove. He’s gone away for a year for a very deliberate reason. During that year, he sort of set all of his traps and sharpened his knives and he’s ready to come back to Gotham and make his point to Batman and the Batman family. He has a very strong mission in mind and he’s very passionate about what he wants to prove to Batman this time around, and it’s really twisted and dark and unpleasant.

While that’s one of the more interesting parts from the interview, the whole thing is totally worth reading. The story arc’s title is also certainly ominous as well, as the ‘Death Of The Family’ probably isn’t a literal title, but more figurative. Will the Joker drive a wedge between the established pantheon of Batman and Co? I imagine if so, it’ll cross over into Batman Inc as well. The whole thing has me asking questions and eagerly anticipating the book to come out already, so I can get my grubby mitts on it and read it. All in all guys, it’s looking like a great year ahead for Batman fans.

And that’s it for this edition of Comic Rack! You can read more here!
Check back soon for the CCI 2012 edition of Comic Rack!