a KC Column by KC Carlson
Ah, another month, another Previews.
GOING… GOING… GONE!(?)
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. It looks like some of the early titles from Marvel’s All-New, All-Different expansion effort may be disappearing already. It appears that Marvel has chosen to not announce series cancellations anymore, which unfortunately leaves distributors and retailers hanging without concrete information. Based on the lack of subsequent solicitations, combined with listings of the (only?) trade paperbacks, it looks like these might be the last issues of some recent series:
- Black Knight #5 (cancellation confirmed online by the writer, Frank Tieri)
- Howling Commandos of SHIELD #6
- Angela, Queen of Hel #7
- Hercules #6
- and possibly Red Wolf #6.
Karnak, which seemingly disappeared for a while after its first issue due to the artist having to handle some personal issues, has not been cancelled as #2 is arriving in shops today.
Also of some concern is All-New Hawkeye, since a new issue (beyond #6) is not in the current Marvel Solicitations. That’s generally a stronger seller than the other titles mentioned, so is it possible that the series is actually taking a short break before resuming?
Rather than have sometimes annoying “fill-in” issues that don’t matter at all to the ongoing storyline, it would make some sense creatively to have successful creative teams take a breather between story arcs.
Unfortunately, publishers are in business to make money, which requires regular (usually monthly) publication, and they usually don’t like it when a month goes by without a regular issue (and that money coming in). If it’s true that Marvel is allowing a kind of skip month for a particular title, this would be a radical new direction for a corporate publisher to take.
Companies like Image, on the other hand, often have short breaks between story arcs in some of their creator-owned titles. The risk in this case is that the creators may end up taking off more time than was originally intended, and both publishers and readers alike suffer from the long publishing delays. I guess it comes down to: Can your creators be trusted to produce regular work? And what regular period is most comfortable for them to produce the best they’re capable of? Not that this is a new problem in over 75 years of comic book publishing.
Hope we get some solid information from Marvel on some of these titles soon.
Meanwhile, DC Comics recently announced that they’re overhauling most of the ongoing DC Universe titles in June in a new rebranding called “Rebirth”. According to DC co-publisher Dan DiDio, this newest relaunch “is designed to bring back the best of DC’s past, embrace the stories we currently love, and move the entire epic universe into the future.” It’s possible they might actually be serious about this, as they’ve announced that several of the series will be helmed by fan-favorite artists, returning to ongoing series work. Creators mentioned so far include Ethan Van Sciver (known for his work on Green Lantern Corps), Phil Jimenez (Wonder Woman), Ivan Reis (Cyborg, Aquaman), and Gary Frank (Batman Earth One). More details about talent and specific creative teams will be announced at WonderCon in Los Angeles, CA, on Saturday, March 26. This press conference (you know, we used to call them panels) will be live-streamed on DC Entertainment’s YouTube channel.
If you’re interested in this “Rebirth”, please don’t hesitate to check out the internet for more discussion — there’s plenty to be found. My take on this is… well, it’s really too soon to tell, isn’t it? I’m waiting for more details. But one thing that bugs me already: How can you announce a bunch of superstar artists and talk about twice-monthly shipping in the same breath? (Ten-page stories?) Best wishes, DC. Please really try to not screw this up.
One thing I do like about “Rebirth” — DC’s two longest-running titles will resume their original issue numbering: Detective Comics will pick up with issue #934, while Action Comics will continue with issue #957. Hope they stay that way until at least #1,000! Won’t that be something!
WHAT?!… NO CAPTAIN CAVEMAN?!
As far as something about DC that’s actually IN the newest Previews, let’s talk about their recently announced re-imagined takes on some classic Hanna-Barbera animation-first properties. First up is Scooby Apocalypse, based, of course, on the classic Scooby-Doo animated TV shows, movies, and comic book. There’s been lots of discussion on this one due to the radically “modern” re-design of the characters by Jim Lee for the first issue cover. I’m not a big fan, especially since Cartoon Network already did a modern (and somewhat “ironic”) remake of the original animated show with their 2010 Scooby-Doo!: Mystery Incorporated series that I found extremely entertaining. (Although I guess it could be argued that the cartoon series wasn’t that popular, since most of its second season got burned off by the network, three years after the first season aired, and after many of the later episodes were first shown in other countries.) Trust me, Scooby-Doo!: Mystery Incorporated is a great series to binge-watch on DVD! I’ll reserve judgment on the new Scooby Apocalypse comic book until I actually see it. The first issue ships with seven variant covers! Written by Kieth Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis (with Jim Lee) and art by Howard Porter.
I’m much more excited about Future Quest, a new series by writer Jeff Parker and artist Evan “Doc” Shaner. It’s a “dream team” of Hanna-Barbera “action” characters, including Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, Frankenstein Jr, The Impossibles, The Herculoids, Birdman, Mighty Mightor, and the Galaxy Trio — all originally introduced in cartoons produced in the 1960s and still popular today! The characters have been slightly redesigned by Darwyn Cooke (see above art) but are staying faithful to the original designs. This. Is. So. Cool! There are six variant covers for this issue, including Jonny Quest by Steve Rude and Space Ghost by Bill Sienkiewicz!
Coming soon are reboots of The Flintstones (designed by Amanda Connor) and Wacky Races (now called Wacky Raceland) with vehicle designs by Mark Sexton (Mad Max: Fury Road). If you want to know more about the original cartoon shows, virtually all of these characters’ animated adventures are available from either Warner Home Video or Warner Archive.
DC COLLECTIONS: THE ODD AND THE AWESOME
Before I move on from DC, I want to point out two of the odder Collected Books from them coming this summer (but solicited now). First, there’s Prez: The First Teenage President, a trade paperback collecting bizarre material from the the 1970s, even more bizarre material from the 1990s, and even a bit of oddness from the last year or so. I’m really not sure why, so Bob Greenberger will be along soon to tell us. (He’s so civic-minded…). Bob’s also telling us more about the highly anticipated Tales of the Batman: Alan Brennert hardcover. In the real world, Brennert is a much respected and honored science fiction and TV writer whose credits include The New Twilight Zone and the revival of The Outer Limits. Earlier, he wrote scripts for Wonder Woman, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and L.A. Law. (Bob G. will most likely fill you in on his acclaimed SF career). All of his best work in comics will be included in this new 208-page hardcover, including The Brave and the Bold #178, 181, 182, and 197, Detective Comics #500, Batman: Holy Terror (the first “official” Elseworlds tale), and more. I hope they will also include his stories from Christmas With the Super-Heroes #2 (Deadman), Secret Origins #50 (Black Canary), and Batman: Gotham Knights #10 (an early “Batman: Black and White” story). This is really good stuff!
ABSORBENT AND YELLOW AND POROUS IS HE
You know, you can never have enough SpongeBob Squarepants, so since Wayne just recently raved about the comic, I thought I’d also jump in and rave about the upcoming SpongeBob covers, which will be emulating the old-school Dell Comics covers in layout, design, and execution. One glance at the cover for SpongeBob Comics #56 (by Jacob Chabot and Rick Neilsen) makes me long for the old-school simplistic design of that era — a clean-cut layout that always works! (And the insides are outrageously funny as well!)
PEANUTS ENDS (AGAIN…)
The final volume in Fantagraphics’ long-running The Complete Peanuts hardcovers is solicited this month, covering the strip’s final years of 1999-2000. Since there was only a little over a year’s worth of strips, due to Schulz’s passing, FG has been searching for material to help fill the book up, so this volume will now include the complete Li’l Folks, a weekly one-panel comic by Schulz produced between 1947 and 1950 (pre-Peanuts). Plus, FG is broadly hinting that there’ll be yet another volume with other special material later this fall! In this volume, Rerun emerges as the last great Peanuts character, as he decides to become a underground comic book artist! The introduction to this special volume will be by another guy who (presumably) will memorably slide out of the public eye after a great run — President Barack Obama! 322-page, 8” x 7” B&W hardcover.
(In other long-awaited Fantagraphics projects, Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby Volume Three hardcover is also being re-solicited this month. This installment brings us to the postwar years, 1946-1947, but the adventures of five-year-old Barnaby and his fairy godfather O’Malley will continue to wonderfully combine childhood imagination with canny wisecracks and cultural satire.)
STRANGE IS AS STRANGE DOES
If you must buy a big giant hardcover filled with great stories and art this month, I think your best choice is the Doctor Strange Omnibus Volume 1, which collects the earliest Stan Lee/Steve Ditko run from Strange Tales #110-111, #114-146, and Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2. (Also includes additional material by Roy Thomas and Dennis O’Neil.) Besides the now-famous origin story, we see Doc’s first battles with folks like Baron Mordo, Eternity, Dormammu, and the Mindless Ones, as well as a whole lot of foes that either have too many vowels in their name — or not enough! Plus we meet the folks that come to aid Strange in his ever-mystic trials and battles, including the very well-named Ancient One, Wong, and the beautiful Clea.
Some might say that these “out-there” stories were a direct product of the 1960s counter-culture in which they were originally produced, but they still resonate today as one of the best series of that era. (Strange Tales was the first Marvel comic book I collected, due to both the flat-out weird Strange stories and the odd pairing of that series with the gadget-heavy super-spy adventures of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.) There was no comic like Strange Tales in that era, and few that could come close.
As with most Omnibi these days, you have your choice of two covers — a brand-new cover painting by Alex Ross, or a reprint of the great Steve Ditko cover from ST #144. Normally, I gotta love Ross, but his painting here is strangely subdued and not very “magic” at all, so I have to go with the Ditko original. 456-page oversize color hardcover. Available in September — just two months before the debut of the new Doctor Strange film starring Benedict Cumberbatch (whose name, now that I think of it, sounds very similar to a Doctor Strange mystic spell. “By the Crotchety Claws of Cumberbatch!” Hmmm…)
KC CARLSON REMINDS YOU: When you’re in the shops (or looking at your Westfield order form!) this week, don’t forget to check out Westfield’s own (because no one else would have him!) big-time funnybook writer Beau Smith’s new revival of Wynona Earp in a brand new comic book series, illustrated by Lora Innes. It looks and reads great — and just in time for the April SyFy debut of the TV series based on the comic!
Also, Happy Birthday (yesterday) Tim O’Shea!
WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you. Of course, if everything was perfect in comics, the internet would have nothing to talk about.