It’s Comic Con and you know what that means right? Loads of new collectibles! Mattie Collector (the collector’s branch of Mattel) has already started the ball rolling on their Facebook page with a big collection of Master of the Universe figures and a few other surprises along the way.
Firstly let us look at the solo figure of the bunch, The Comedian figure from the iconic graphic novel Watchman. This design is based on the comic rather than the movie (which had its own line of figures a few years back). It looks fantastic and I am hoping that we are going to see a lot more of these coming in the next few days.
Next up is the life sized collectibles from Ghostbusters and the Adam West Batman series. These include a full size utility belt from Batman, along a trap and Neutrino Wand. Now thanks to The Examiner we know the rod will cost about $130, but no prices on the other items quite yet. That’s a pretty awesome price for something of that quality and who among us would not want to pretend to be a Ghostbuster or the Caped Crusader for the day? Well, here is your chance.
Last but not least is the reissuing of some of the classic Master of the Universe lines of toys (seen below). The End of Wars pack has a ton of weapons and spare parts and also comes with your very own Kowl figurine from She-Ra. We also have some old favorites like Rattler, Roboto, and Trap Jaw all making an appearance mixed in with some more obscure characters like Nepthu. We also get to see some pretty fantastic looking vehicles like The Jet Sled with its pilot Sky High. My favorite out of the bunch has to be the inclusion of the Rock Men, who were some of my favorite toys as a kid. Lord knows why a bunch of transforming rocks held so much appeal to me when I had Transformer toys to play with, but that’s the way it was.
Keep checking with Grizzly Bomb for more collectable news as it arrives, and for more on SDCC 2013 click here!
Welcome to Comic Rack! My pick of the top five comic news stories in no particular order…
Before Watchmen Is Done, Most Likely
J. Michael Straczynski is one of those guys in the comics industry who you either love or hate. I mean, he’s not on any kind of Jeph Loeb level or anything, but most people I know either think he’s a genius or a total asshat. I’ve got mixed feelings, as there are parts of his work that I thought were really smart but poorly executed, though through no fault of his own, (His Back In Black Spidey run), or others were weirdly interesting yet flawed, like his infamously unfinished Superman arc, Grounded. So when he goes out to say something, I tend to listen, if only because I know it’ll be interesting to hear. That being said, he’s not said anything this time that I’ve found that surprising, but it’s good to know.
“Insofar as I know, this is it for the Before Watchmen books,” JMS told PREVIEWSworld. “Dan [DiDio] had a very specific vision of the cycle he wanted to investigate, and never once mentioned anything about this turning into some kind of long-term franchise. Not to say that might not happen someday, but I don’t think it’s on his or DC’s radar at this juncture, and if it’s not on theirs it’s sure as heck not on mine.”
I didn’t imagine the Before Watchmen books expanding into some kind of monthly series or any kind of ongoing, and to be honest if they did it’d be pretty terrible. I’ve yet to read any of the Before Watchmen books, not out of any protest or anything, but simply because I have no interest. Watchmen is pretty perfectly told story, and doesn’t need much expansion or background detail added. I’m glad to find out it’s being put to rest.
Ottley And Howard Talk About Invincible, SUPER DINOSAUR, & More
Invincible was at one time, by far the best superhero book out there. Every week it rocked my socks off and had me anxiously awaiting next months issue. Nowadays, while it’s by no means bad, it doesn’t have me crapping my pants with glee every time I pick it up at my LCS. That’s not to say it isn’t still entertaining or engaging either, it is. I guess at some point you’ve invested enough into a story that you’re just committed to seeing how it folds out, despite lacking its previous passion or intensity. That must be why soap operas still exist. Well, regardless of my ennui about Invincible, Jason Howard and Ryan Ottley are still both very pumped for the book, and for good reason. They’re pretty pumped about getting the years worth of books done, and rounding up to the 100th issue, which has a pretty solid teaser:
It’s pretty interesting to see comics writers and artists talk freely about their projects, especially when one is about A SUPER DINOSAUR. (Truthfully, I just really like writing the words SUPER DINOSAUR!)
American Vampire‘s Taking a Hiatus, Snyder Assures Us It’s Temporary
One of the worst things a comics fan can hear about their favorite book, is that the author is going on “hiatus” and will return to finish the book “soon”. This is code, usually for “I’m sick of working with my editor/publisher/whatever and I am finding a way to weasel my way out of this contract”. At least that’s usually the case in my cynical opinion. However, sometimes that’s not the case, and in this interview Scott Snyder basically assures fans of his book that this hiatus definitely IS temporary, and that he’s committed to finish the popular series. This is refreshing to hear, because I recently bought the first trade digitally and was looking forward to following the series in trades from now on. While I’ve still yet to read it, perhaps this hiatus will give me time to catch up and get current, and the dastardly prospect of waiting for the trade, or buying the issue monthly can come to pass. On second thought, I’ll probably hold off on reading it longer, just because of this reason. My wallet hates me enough already.
While it’s not exactly news here at Comic Rack, it’s still reassuring to find out that our favorite con-man magician, John Constantine will still have his own monthly title at DC. Who’s to say if it’ll be a new, weird watered down version though? Well, the guy who’s writing the book, for one, and he’s pretty adamant that Constantine will stay the same character we know and love.
In March, Venditti and artist Renato Guedes will be launching Constantine, a new solo series for the character that takes place in the “New 52” DC Universe. And according to the writer, fans of Constantine shouldn’t fear that the long-time Vertigo character is going to be drastically different. Younger? Yes. Unmarried? Sure. But otherwise, Venditti says, “I wouldn’t say he’s all that much different from who John Constantine has always been.”
While the sentiment is appreciated, I’m still wary. I can’t say I’m necessarily dreading it, because I’ve more or less liked everything that’s come out of the New 52, but Constantine is a tricky one to handle, and I’m just not sure how he’s going to work when played out against the whole of the New DCU. I haven’t read any of Justice League Dark, but I’ve heard he works pretty well in that, so that’s reassuring, but at the end of the day I still am not entirely convinced. I’ll just have to wait and see how things turn out.
Vertigo has been on a roll lately, especially when it comes to anthologies. There’s the previous Ghosts, which I previously mentioned on this column a few weeks ago, and I’m learning there’s two others, by the names of StrangeAdventures and YoungRomance. I love a good anthology, the fact that this one is called Time Warp #1, bodes well for me. First off it sounds like it’s Sci-Fi, which is by far my favorite genre, secondly it sounds like it’s time travel related sci-fi, which is my favorite kind of sci-fi, and lastly it’s got that #1 in the title, which implies that it’s not just another one shot. Factor in that it’ll include stories from Damon Lindelof AND Jeff Lemire, and it’s almost like they’re trying to make a comic JUST FOR ME! Well, aside from those two big names, there’s plenty of others that any comics fan will recognize and get giddy for:
The issue will feature stories by the likes of Damon Lindelof, Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, Toby Litt, Mark Buckingham, Dan Abnett, Peter Milligan, Ray Fawkes, Simon Spurrier, Gail Simone, Rafael Albuquerque and Tom Fowler, with covers by Eduardo Risso (in full below) and Jae Lee.
During a panel involving the writers and artists of the “Watchmen” prequel, “Before Watchmen”, Jim Lee hopped on stage and introduced the one and only Quentin Tarantino. Instead of talking more about “Before Watchmen”.
There has been a lot of skepticism about the new Watchmen prequel.Personally, I would love to see the Minutemen in action! The claws have come out on Twitter! Check out all of the pissy and hilarious reactions on Gamma Squad.
Buzzfeed has 21 leaked photos from the DC Headquarters. These display the characters we know and love before the Watchmen was formed. For your entertainment, here is a look at a possible continuity error thanks to Bleeding Cool. The prequel will contain 36 issues total from 7 different series. I cannot wait to hear even more bitching when the even less respected movie eventually comes out. Although, I already know I will be seeing it… possibly dressed up. Only time can tell.
Considered by many to be the seminal story of the comics medium, and a work that singlehandedly changed the comics forever, Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons has been a consistently successful story for over a quarter of a century. A complete deconstruction of the Superhero mythos using close facsimiles to classic Charleston Comics characters – Watchmen ushered in the grim and gritty narratives all to prevalent in comics today. Against the wishes of writer Alan Moore, but not by artist Dave Gibbons – Watchmen has spawned numerous merchandising opportunities and a Hollywood film in 2009 by director Zack Snyder. In just twelve issues, Gibbons and Moore constructed an intriguing world and very interesting characters, with back-stories largely untouched. Considering how widely revered the Watchmen comics are, the series has been considered a sacred cow of sorts, and its universe has for quite a while, not been expanded upon in anyway.
On February 1st, DC comics announced that they will be releasing several four to six issue miniseries set in the Watchmen universe, written and drawn by some of comic’s top creators.
USA Today reports:
Who watches the Watchmen? This summer, it will again be a legion of comic-book fans.
Under its DC Comics banner, DC Entertainment is reviving characters from the beloved and seminal graphic novel Watchmen for seven prequels collectively titled ‘Before Watchmen’.
The comics will feature all of the heroes — and anti-heroes — who writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons created in the 1986-87 Watchmen series, which was later collected as a graphic novel. Those characters will star in miniseries by some of the company’s top writers and artists, including:
•Rorschach by writer Brian Azzarello and artist Lee Bermejo
•Comedian by Azzarello and artist J.G. Jones
•Minutemen by writer/artist Darwyn Cooke
•Silk Spectre by Cooke and artist Amanda Conner
•Nite Owl by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artists Joe and Andy Kubert
•Dr. Manhattan by Straczynski and artist Adam Hughes
•Ozymandias by writer & original editor Len Wein with art by Jae Lee
Issues will be released so that there will be a new one every week, and each will include two pages of a separate, continuing backup story, Curse of the Crimson Corsair, by Wein, with art by Watchmen colorist John Higgins. A single-issue Before Watchmen: Epilogue will also be a part of the prequel series, featuring several of the writers and artists involved.
According to the Guinness World Records, Watchmen is the best-selling graphic novel of all time, with more than 2 million copies sold. However, Azzarello first read the series when it came out monthly in the ’80s and was a huge fan 10 years before he broke into the industry.
Azzarello says he “dropped the phone” when DC co-publisher Dan DiDio called him last summer and asked if he’d write the fan-favorite character Rorschach, the vigilante clad in a mask with shifting ink blots who investigates the death of his old friend, The Comedian, in the original Watchmen story.
“He’s the face. The guy who covers his face is the face of the franchise,” Azzarello says. For the four-issue Rorschach series, he’s teaming again with Bermejo, the artist from his Joker graphic novel.
“You’re going to get the Rorschach that you know and want. It’s a very visceral story we’re going to be telling,” Azzarello says.
Set in a bleak version of 1980s America where Richard Nixon is still president and powered beings have changed the fabric of society but are now considered outlaws, Watchmen created a legion of fans with its rich storytelling and deconstruction of the superhero genre. The phrase “Who watches the Watchmen,” spray-painted on buildings in the original book, has become iconic.
Many of those readers view Watchmen as a sacred text that shouldn’t be touched. Moore himself publicly stated that he wanted nothing to do with the 2009 movie adaptation by director Zack Snyder, or any sequels or prequels.
Gibbons, who was an adviser on the movie, has given his blessing. “The original series of Watchmen is the complete story that Alan Moore and I wanted to tell. However, I appreciate DC’s reasons for this initiative and the wish of the artists and writers involved to pay tribute to our work. May these new additions have the success they desire,” he says in a statement.
That approval, however, isn’t as important as making sure all the Before Watchmen books work on their own, Azzarello says. What’s key is “that we all get in there and we tell the best possible stories we can and we reconnect these characters. It’s 25 years later. Let’s make them vital again.”
All around the tubes, nearly every forum, such as Bleeding Cool and those annoying hipsters over at comics alliance, are rife with comments of hot frothy hatred over the notion over such a blasphemy. Most comments are about how perfect the original series was and what not, and that no one is as brilliant as Alan Moore blah blah blah, you get the picture. A perfect example of how much people already hate this project is over at Topless Robot, but then again the folks over at Topless Robot epitomize the irrational bitter fan stereotype that never enjoy anything, regardless of how good it might actually be. One talking point is that somehow these prequels could possibly taint the experiences of the original, which is a logical farce. The “Star Wars” prequels are utter garbage, but that doesn’t sully the original trilogy in anyway, but if one were to continue to watch said prequels out of an obsessive need even though they hate them- that could make the experience sour. However, issues like that are less in the content and more in the viewer. It seems as though the negative fan will probably be the greater driving force though, as they will need to validate their judgments on how bad it sucks. Much like how Howard Stern rose to the top from having a great number of listeners who found him appalling and listened to field complaints as opposed to those who wanted to listen to naked lesbians on the radio,
Are these books a bright idea? Perhaps, perhaps not; however, the talent they have compiled for these projects rival some of the best in the business. Brian Azzarello is one of the greatest writers working in comic books today, and author of “100 Bullets”, a series I believe is the greatest of all time. Plus having artists such as Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner, Lee Bermejo, Jae Lee and J.G. Jones on these titles means they will also be some of the best looking comics this year. I personally don’t care about Watchmen prequels, since over time I have grown to dislike the original “Watchmen.” It’s slow, it’s rather derivative and isn’t entertaining- I appreciate what the work has done for comics as a whole, but just because it’s influential doesn’t mean I’m obligated to sing its praises. Just because I listen to The Police doesn’t mean I must listen to Bob Marley as well.
The fantastic Michael Avon Oeming tweeted it best:
Oeming hit the nail on the head: comics are not scripture, they’re fictional, the stuff that happens between the pages of these books never actually happened. Things like Canon and Continuity are bullshit, nothing is truly official or unofficial in the land of make believe. Adding to the universe that Moore and Gibbons created does not in any way, change the story or anything about the original Watchmen. Any of these prequel comics can be as official or fan fictional as you, as the reader want them to be – if you don’t like them, forget about them and read the original all over again, and enjoy it for what it is. If you believe that there is absolutely no goddamn chance you could even fathom liking these prequels, then just don’t read them! It’s that simple, don’t piss and moan and then buy all of them anyways just so you can break down and nitpick every single minutia of things you hate about them, just ignore them. Some very talented people with bills and families are getting paid possibly the best money they’ll ever see in their careers to tackle these projects and perhaps, put enough money aside to not worry about expenses for a while to make a completely original property that might even be more significant than Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, and Hellboy combined, they don’t need you belittling them over trying to make an honest living.
Of course Alan Moore, who hates everything involving other creators involved in his works told the New York Times, “I tend to take this latest development as a kind of eager confirmation that they are still apparently dependent on ideas that I had 25 years ago.”
Moore, Author of such works as League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which stars characters like Bram Stoker’s Mina Harker, H.G. Wells’ Invisible Man and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Batman: The Killing Joke featuring characters made by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson, is no stranger to using the ideas of others to craft stories. Alan Moore also received his breaks from his runs on “Marvelman” a character created by Mick Anglo, and “Swamp-Thing” a character co-created by Lenn Wein for DC Comics, who at the time was roommates with Gerry Conway, one of the collaborators whom created Man-Thing, a similar character at Marvel comics who premiered prior to Swamp Thing.
In addition, “Watchmen” wasn’t originally going to star original characters. Moore and Gibbons originally wanted to use characters such as The Question, Blue Beetle and Captain Atom, who were properties recently acquired by DC Comics form the defunct Charleston Comics. DC comics decided they would rather integrate the Charleston universe into their soon to be rebooted comics universe (sound familiar?) leaving Moore and Gibbons to create thinly veiled analogues of their initial idea. Had Moore and Gibbons been able to use the Charleston Characters like they originally intended- Moore wouldn’t have an argumentative leg to stand on. To be fair, DC could have easily done these miniseries with the Charleston Characters, but due to the success of “Watchmen,” the new analogues are more recognizable to audiences than the Charleston originals. While it’s certain that these prequels will go against what Moore’s artistic vision of “Watchmen” should be, Moore himself has done the same with a multitude of properties in his career, granted many have been public domain and he can do with them as he pleases. However, in one of his most recent stories League of Extraordinary Gentleman: 1969, Moore has written a scene where a Wizard named Tom who’s “ . . .middle name is a marvel and my last name is a conundrum” in an effort to use the character without violating any copyrights, sexually assaults Mina Harker in a scene. This is certainly not something that JK Rowling would have envisioned even her most heinous of villains to do in her successful series of children to young adult novels. Of course, the other collaborator- the artist, who is always the more important creator (it is a visual medium, and artists typically get a majority of the royalties) Dave Gibbons, has given his consent to DC comics to make these prequels.
Seemingly, all Moore’s opinions of his work gives off the impression that he feels as though he is some sort of creative zenith, that no one could ever craft a story as well as he. Moore lambastes every film adaptation of his work, or in the case of the Watchmen film adaptation, refusing to even see the film or acknowledge it in any way. One of my very first articles I had published at the website of the great Armenian flake, I wrote of how I felt the ending of the Watchmen film was actually better than the source material. Without spoiling anything, the movie ending ties in better with the core themes of distrust and paranoia rather than the random ploy used in the books. Alan Moore will never see this, thus he will never have to concede that others can perhaps, craft a better story with his own ideas than he could. Instead of denying the chance, it would be bolder to see these adaptations as a challenge for both the author and his colleagues to do better. Batman: Year One is one of the greatest batman stories ever told, but one of its sequel series that is based on Miller and Mazzucchelli’s story is Batman: The Long Halloween, is a superior story made by an entirely different creative team, and the original creator makes neither. Ego is one of the greatest hindrances in the realm of fiction.
However, from a moral standpoint- DC comics should have never been in the position to create Watchmen prequels in the first place. Even though Nite-Owl, Dr. Manhattan and the rest or the cast is analogous to Charleston Properties, they are in fact original characters because of this. The legends say Gibbons and Moore had a contract that specified that Watchmen would be a work for hire project, meaning they were compensated up front to create the book, instead of creating the book at their own expense: which would have made Watchmen creator owned. However, DC comics also stipulated that once Watchmen was no longer in print by DC, the copyrights would revert to Gibbons and Moore.
Watchmen has also continually been reprinted in trade paperback since 1987, thus preventing Gibbons and Moore from ever receiving ownership of their work. Thanks to dirty pool, DC has taken the control of Watchmen from Gibbons and Moore, and ensured they will never have it. Watchmen will never cease to be reprinted; it’s for too influential and lucrative for DC to ever want to let it go, so in essence, any support of any Watchmen related material aids in DC Comics’ theft of Watchmen from two very talented individuals. Eric Stephenson, publisher over at Image Comics, wrote an article for ‘It Sparkles’ that I insist you read because it perfectly illustrates what DC did wrong and the plight of the comic book creators.
Whether or not you’re enthused or incensed about Before Watchmen, it really matters not, since DC is going to make them regardless, there’s money to be had and they’ll get every little bit they can from Watchmen until they’re blue in the face and run around with their weenies exposed. However, what does matter is whether you buy them, it won’t stop these projects, but it can stop or continue any other Watchmen related projects in the future. Regardless, at least these books have top talent on them; DC could do much worse: