The Snowed In, Lost Muppets, New Pages, Marie and Bill and Steve, Nega-Band Reboot, Giant-Size Man-Thing, Space Punisher Edition — Guest-Starring Flexy!
by KC Carlson
THE JUDAS COIN: This tour de force project from Walter Simonson — who does everything but letter, and that’s being done by long-time collaborator John Workman — was originally conceived as Simonson’s issue of the sadly departed, Mark Chiarello-edited Solo anthology series. (It was also planned to be the only issue of Solo with a full-length story.) After Solo’s cancellation, Simonson got the go-ahead to expand the story from 48 to 96 pages and have it published as a stand-alone graphic novel. The story is based on the silver coins that Judas was paid to betray Jesus, and how those coins have impacted thousands of years of DC continuity, with individual chapters starring the Golden Gladiator, the Viking Prince, Captain Fear, Bat Lash, Batman (with Two-Face), and in a major surprise, Manhunter 2070.
I got trapped at the Simonson home in a snowstorm for a few days a while back, and I jumped at the chance to read the work in progress. I read three chapters (the only ones finished then) and can wholeheartedly say that The Judas Coin is an amazing work, which rivals Walter’s very best stuff — and that’s very tough competition! Something that DC isn’t saying about the work is that Simonson draws each chapter in a different style. Sometimes it’s in tribute to the original artist of the character (I can’t wait to see Walter’s version of Nick Cardy’s style in the Bat Lash chapter). In others (like the Batman chapter), Simonson selects the style of a particular personal favorite artist (in this case, one who’s never drawn Batman), and adapts the character to that style.
I’m really hoping that The Judas Coin doesn’t get completely lost and ignored by DC now that it’s finally finished. Simonson’s long-term contract with DC expired recently, and he’s making quite an impression at Marvel, penciling the ongoing Avengers title as well as dozens of covers for them. Historically, creators leaving a company no longer receive the promotional push that they once might have, had they still been under contract (and not so visibly producing for the competition). In addition, the DC Universe in The Judas Coin may or may not be the same DC Universe currently depicted (and pushed!), due to the recent unveiling of the “New DC”. I’m an old continuity guy from way back, but in this case I say — Who Cares? The Judas Coin is going to be a major work from a major talent, and DC would be foolish not to push this book like crazy. Don’t miss The Judas Coin!
OTHER DC STUFF: National Comics is a new DC imprint offering up one-shots of fringe characters as try-outs to see if they garner enough interest for their own ongoing series. First up is Eternity #1 by Jeff Lemire and Cully Hammer, featuring a brand-new take on the classic Kid Eternity character . . . DC’s still rolling out the Before Watchmen comics with Before Watchmen: Ozymandias debuting in July. The solicitations also reveal how some of the BW books might stay on schedule while featuring some notorious deadline-challenged creators — not all of the Before Watchmen titles will be issued as monthly comics . . . James Robinson and Phillip Tan are the creators of a new He-Man and the Masters of the Universe six-part miniseries, which will excite thousands and thousands of fans who were born in the right decade. Sadly, I’m not one of them. Nice sword, though.
CAPTAIN MARVEL: I am really looking forward to the new Captain Marvel book coming in July. It stars Carol Danvers/Ms. Marvel in a completely new role in the Marvel Universe. That’s nothing new for the character. She has already had several different personas in the Marvel Universe, as well as being one of the major supporting characters from their Silver Age. She debuted in the second adventure of the original Marvel Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell) in 1968 (Marvel Super-Heroes #13) and became an ongoing character in Mar-Vell’s series while also making appearances in Avengers and Uncanny X-Men. She’s currently one of the few characters torn between sides in the Avengers vs. X-Men battle, and this new title will sorta spin out of that series into her new book.
But the main reason for my excitement is the writer — Kelly Sue DeConnick. I’ve been enjoying her one-shot stories over the past couple of years (Sif, Rescue, short stories for the Age of Heroes anthologies). She’s also written the gripping Osborn: Evil Incarcerated miniseries and the charming (but thankless) Supergirl storyline that ended the previous incarnation of the character (and that series). She’s the co-writer (with Bendis) of the Castle graphic novel as well as a number of projects from IDW and Image. Her attention to both character and detail made her work stand out, and both of those qualities will be needed in dealing with such a long-time character (with a complicated backstory) as Carol Danvers. I expect, based on her track record, to see a book with interesting challenges for Danvers as well as a compelling supporting cast.
I know very little about artist Dexter Soy, but the promotional art shown so far looks very competent. I don’t mean to make that sound like a backhanded compliment, but I’ve only seen two pieces of his work so far.
Carol Danvers. Ms. Marvel. Binary. Warbird. Floating Marvel Superhero Poker Regular. And now, full circle, Captain Marvel. Her time has come!
OTHER MARVEL STUFF: Roger Langridge’s “lost” Muppets story (from when Disney took back the Muppet comic license from BOOM! and reassigned it to Marvel) finally sees print in July. Muppets: The Four Seasons is a four-part series featuring the gang celebrating Spring‘s arrival, as well as a new Muppet performer! . . . Several of this summer’s Marvel Annuals will be written and drawn by Alan Davis, featuring his creations the ClanDestine. They kick off in July with Fantastic Four Annual #33 (guest-starring Dr. Strange) and August with Daredevil Annual #1 . . . Marvel’s got another new #1 issue in July with X-Treme X-Men #1, which I know very little about, except that it’s… (slipping into Truckosaurus voice:) X-TREME!!! Oh, and it spills out of Astonishing X-Men and it’s by Greg Pak and Stephen Segovia . . . Winner of Dumb Title of the Month: Space Punisher #1! Doesn’t it just sound like one of those lame deals where they invent the insipid toy first, and then somebody has to figure out how it works as a comic book? (Next: Laser Punisher!) Not to mention undercutting the stark reality of The Punisher’s ongoing adventures. (Sarcasm alert.) There’ll never be another Franken-Castle. Bet this one will be re-titled before publication.
BIG HONKING BOOKS: The Man-Thing Omnibus hardcover is pretty much all the Man-Thing you might ever need. This 1,192-page hardcover features all of Man-Thing’s earliest adventures (from way back in Savage Tales #1), including the celebrated Steve Gerber-written run of the character. (Although Roger points out the Gerber-written Man-Thing stories that appeared in Marvel Comics Presents do not seem to have made the list in Marvel’s solicitations. Hope Marvel catches that before the book goes to print.) Gerber wasn’t the only writer of the character, but he was the best, and Mike Ploog’s work on the series was at the top of dozens and dozens of artists who have drawn the character over the years. This may seem an incredibly quirky choice for an Omnibus, but I’ve read almost everything in it, and the vast majority is either outstanding or at least interesting. You can’t always say that of too many Marvel series from that era. This gets two muck-encrusted thumbs up! (Does Man-Thing have thumbs?) . . . DC is re-soliciting its Absolute Final Crisis 464-page hardcover, to include stuff they originally left out (Final Crisis Director’s Cut and Batman #682-683) as well as including seven new pages by Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke (hopefully adding the satisfying ending that was not in the original). (sarcasm alert). Really, DC? You’re really expecting people to pay $100 bucks to get seven pages of material that probably should have been in the original, had it not completely collapsed editorially at the end? Really? Hey, you guys at DC love the new digital initiative. How about making those seven new pages available as a free download to all of us who can prove that they bought all the originals. Let’s call it the new DC Challenge! . . . July sees the release of Best of Archie Comics Volume 2, over 400 pages of vintage Archie stories for only $9.99. Readers of this column may remember that I wasn’t a big fan of the first volume, but I wish them all the best for Volume Two and hope that the Archie folks had plenty of time to assemble it.
CLASSIC CREATORS IN THE SPOTLIGHT: TwoMorrows’ long-awaited Marie Severin: The Mirthful Mistress of Comics TPB is now available for order, spotlighting one of comic’s most popular artists and colorists. Marie worked extensively for two major publishers. At E.C. Comics, she was their primary colorist. For over 30 years, as both a freelancer and staffer for Marvel Comics, she did pretty much every job involved with artwork or production. Her amazing sense of humor provided many classic Not Brand Ecch! stories, as well as hundreds of office-only cartoons cleverly lampooning her co-workers. She’s one of the most beloved creators in comics, and dozens of co-workers — including Stan Lee, Al Feldstein, Roy Thomas, John Romita, Jack Davis and many, many others — share their stories about Marie. Plus, she shares a few about them! If you like fun in your comics — this book’s for you!
The Creativity of Steve Ditko is the long-awaited follow-up to Craig Yoe’s The Art of Ditko, with this new 208-page hardcover collecting Ditko’s most creative comics stories. (Would be nice, though, if we got a hint as to which stories Yoe thinks those are.) The forward is by Paul Levitz, with other essays by Mike Gold, Jack Harris, and Amber Stanton. She’s the daughter of artist Eric Stanton, who shared a studio with Ditko for nearly a decade around the time that Spider-Man was created. That should be some interesting reading. Published by IDW.
Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman is a 48-page hardcover written by Marc Tyler Nobleman (Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman) and illustrated by the wonderful (and underrated) Ty Templeton (Batman Adventures). It tells the largely untold tale of Bill Finger, the guy who helped create Batman and most of the original major Bat-villains. That story went untold because Bob Kane signed a creator contract with DC Comics in 1939, stating that he was the sole creator of Batman. Legally, DC has had to uphold that statement throughout the decades, even if they sometimes didn’t want to. This is primarily a book intended for younger readers and children’s libraries, but every comics fan should enjoy this fond look at one of comic books’ great “lost” creators.
SUPER-PETS RULE!: Six new DC Super-Pets books — all illustrated by the amazing Art Baltazar — are now available for ordering. This batch features some new characters, including Solomon Grundy’s zombie pets and Swamp Thing’s bog buddies (in Swamp Thing vs. The Zombie Pets). Plastic Man’s pet frog makes the scene in The Fantastic Flexy Frog — and he’s got his master’s goggles! (Goggles are cool!) Old favorites like Krypto take on The Cat Crime Club, and Ace the Bathound must survive The Night of the Scaredy Crows! Plus, the Atom’s microscopic mutt, Spot, must face Giganta’s pet giraffe in The Biggest Little Hero, while Aqualad and his super-pet Fluffy must take on Ocean Master and his nasty fishy foes in Deep-Sea Duel. These are all 56-page storybooks — designed for kids, but their parents will love then too!
MORE GOOD STUFF!: Watch for: The Hole of Tank Girl, collecting the entire run by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin in a massive hardcover; The Lone Ranger: Snake of Iron by Chuck Dixon and Esteve Polls from Dynamite; a nice Monolith hardcover by Palmiotti, Gray, and Winslade; and a super new reprinting of the Gibbons, Rude, and Kesel World’s Finest from DC. Look for upcoming previews and creator interviews for many of these in the next couple of weeks from other Westfield correspondents. And congrats to The Walking Dead for hitting their magic #100 issue. In these days of rebooting series every 12 issues or so, this is a very significant and well-deserved milestone for a very successful comic book!
CLASSIC COMIC BOOK COLLECTIONS
Batman: The Dark Knight Archives Volume 8 (DC): Collecting Batman #32-37 from the 1940s
Chronicles of King Conan Volume 3 (Dark Horse)
Classic G.I. Joe Volume 15 (IDW): Reprinting the final issues (#146-155) of the classic Marvel series for the first time
Eerie Archives Volume 11 (Dark Horse): Collecting issues #52-55
The Flash Chronicles Volume 3 TPB (DC): Collecting The Flash #113-118 by Broome, Fox, and Infantino
Green Lantern/Green Arrow TPB (DC): The entire classic Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams run in one volume
Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus Volume 3 TPB (DC): Kirby’s Fourth World shifts into Megadrive
Man-Thing Omnibus (Marvel): Almost 1,200 pages of classic muck-encrusted stories — now that’s a Giant-Size Man-Thing!
Marvel Masterworks: Fantastic Four Volume 8 TPB (DC): Lee and Kirby, ‘Nuff Said!
Marvel Masterworks: Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos Volume 4 HC (Marvel): How Nick Fury won WWII by Roy Thomas, Dick Ayers, and friends. Reprints #33-43 in almost 250 pages
Showcase Presents: Tales of the Unexpected Volume 1 (DC): Reprinting #1-20 — most of these stories have never been reprinted
Spider-Man: Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut HC (Marvel): One of the best Juggy stories — ever! Plus, more from one of Spidey’s greatest eras. Collects ASM #224-230 (first series) by Roger Stern and John Romita Jr.
CLASSIC NEWSPAPER STRIP COLLECTIONS
The Complete Steve Canyon Volume 2 (IDW/LoAC)
The Epic Chronicles of Hagar the Horrible 1977-1978 HC (Titan)
KC CARLSON: Bends comics with his bare hands! Sadly making them no longer Mint!
WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you.