Spoilers ahead: Though it wasn’t a Nick Fury moment that rocks the future of Marvel films, the post-credit scene for Guardians of the Galaxy brought smiles for longtime fans. Howard the Duck is a beloved character for multiple generations of fanboys and fangirls, but the cameo didn’t land with everyone. For those not in the know, here are five facts about the anthropomorphic bird.
1) Howard the Duck was created by writer Steve Gerber and artist Val Mayerik in 1973, debuting in Adventure into Fear #19. The cigar-smoking bird is from Duckworld, a planet where intelligent life didn’t evolve from apes. Since arriving on Earth, he hasn’t stopped making trouble, sometimes even in mainstream continuity.
It makes sense that the DC imprint Vertigo would trust Scott Snyder. His work on the Batman titles has pleased old and new fans alike, garnering him industry rewards and recognition. He’s done horror, noir and superhero books, sometimes combining all three. He was brought up to the majors, and he delivered. Otherwise, pitching The Wake could have been difficult.
It’s a 10-issue sci-fi-horror miniseries that’s set in the ocean, takes place over three time periods and features a game-changing turn (and genre flip) in the center of its run. It all works. More than that, it’s sure to make best-of lists across the board this year. As the final issue hit shelves this week, let’s take a look at the entire series that somehow works, even though it shouldn’t. Ahoy: a few spoilers ahead.
The first half of The Wake is a heavy dose of Michael Crichton with a shot of James Cameron. A team is assembled to analyze the U.S. government’s bizarre finding at the bottom of the ocean. Our first protagonist is marine biologist Dr. Lee Archer. She’s part of this crew assembled by the Department of Homeland Security, along with an old adversary from her field, a “marine criminal,” and a professor of folklore and mythology.
DC’s newest Vertigo series is Bodies, a murder-mystery that takes place in four time periods. Scribe Si Spencer, known for books like Hellblazer: City of Demons, tackles all of the writing; four artists (Dean Ormston, Phil Winslade, Meghan Hetrick and Tula Lotay) take on a corresponding, six-page chapter in each issue. (On Tuesday, Lotay signed books and gave out sketches at Charlotte's own Heroes Aren't Hard to Find. The comic shop posted photos from the signing here.)
One interesting aspect to the story is the time periods chosen for the series. The narrative takes place in 1890, 1940, 2014 and 2050. Each of the eight issues of the miniseries will visit these points in time, and all contribute to the overall mystery of Bodies.
But this book isn’t the only No. 1 to look out for this week. Image has Chew: Warrior Chicken Poyo #1 and Low #1 slated for release. Dark Horse Comics is offering Deep Gravity #1 and Baltimore: The Witch of Harju #1. And for Marvel fans, the tongue-in-cheek 100th Anniversary Special: Guardians of the Galaxy is set to debut.
As promised, the Comic Afterthoughts blog is here to provide what we consider to be the best pieces of news from the San Diego Comic-Con. Take a look below, and let us know what you think is the winner of the event.
1) Early in the con, we saw a peek of Ben Affleck in his Batman cowl. But two bigger offerings came out of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice during the event. The first one was a short teaser that had a big impact. In a scene that appears ripped out of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Batman appears in padded suit, gearing up to face the Man of Steel. The video continues to be uploaded and taken off YouTube; search around and you might get lucky.
2) Second from Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was the reveal of Wonder Woman. The muted coloring on the suit, along with the inclusion of high heels, has polarized fans. Gal Gadot portrays Wonder Woman in the upcoming film, and we at least know that she’s nailed down the required intensity. Take a look at the costume below, and decide for yourself if you think they’ve done the Amazon justice.
3) The Avengers: Age of Ultron also stole headlines with the debut of new footage from the film and Josh Brolin’s entrance with an Infinity Gauntlet in hand. Footage reportedly included the Avengers comically taking turns in trying to pick up Thor’s hammer, action shots of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, Iron Man’s Hulkbuster Armor taking on the Hulk himself, and a shattered shield of the First Avenger. None of it has been released to the public yet.
San Diego Comic-Con International has only grown in its 45 years. It’s the spot where news is broken on major-league and indie books alike. From comic book films to next year’s creative teams, it’s easy to get lost in the mix. That’s why Comic Afterthoughts is compiling a best-of list for the convention. To get the rundown, check back with the blog on Monday. Until then, Day 1 has given us an interesting tidbit about the Caped Crusader’s upcoming appearance in Superman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice, due out in 2016.
Fans had seen a grayscaled, obscured shot of Bats with the Batmobile in May. We got a sense of the costume — the small ears, broad bat, and all — but Thursday’s close-up of Affleck as our hero is the most vivid portrait yet. It would seem that the conjecture about the hue of the costume has been settled.
By now, there are probably a couple generations of comic book readers who missed Groo the Wanderer. Every decade has its comedic figures that don’t have the shelf life of their superhero peers. Howard the Duck, Cerebus the Aardvark, even the adventurer Bone — young fanboys and fangirls hear about these characters through forum memes, reprints and, occasionally, comics like Groo vs. Conan.
Created by Sergio Aragonés, Groo the Wanderer was one of the earliest creator-owned books in the medium. In his stories, he would parody the tropes of sword-and-sorcery narratives. Marvel was his first publisher, but Image Comics, Pacific Comics and Eclipse Comics have all released comics featuring Groo.
Dark Horse Comics now takes on this story, from the original writing team of Aragonés and Mark Evanier and art from Aragonés and Thomas Yeates. How will Groo fare against the great warrior Conan the Barbarian? Believe it or not, there are many of us who would love to find out.
Between 2004 and 2010, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim was released to the world in six digest-sized volumes. It was a massive success, garnering industry awards and spawning the film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. It made O’Malley a comic celebrity, and in 2011, he announced his follow-up, Seconds. The single (though sizable) book hit shelves last week. Turns out, the graphic novel was not only worth the wait, but it could actually be the year’s best.
Seconds follows Katie, a discontented chef who created the book’s titular restaurant. Though “angst” is used to describe Katie’s existential woes, the word seems a bit young for the kinds of problems experienced by our protagonist. Twenty-something Scott Pilgrim’s story had that vibe — youthful and cute, sincere but waist-deep in pop culture winks. Katie may at first seem as immature, but her narrative, and the consequences of her actions, are decidedly more adult than Pilgrim’s.
But the story is fantastical. There are house spirits and notebooks that let you undo your mistakes by writing them down and eating a mushroom, but not without a price. (There’s something a bit Death Note about the notebook, but that's where the comparisons between these stories end.) But the types of mistakes she’s making and the measures she’s taking to correct them suggest that O’Malley wanted to take a deeper venture into adulthood this time around. Through the course of the book, Katie delves back further and further into her dissatisfaction, “correcting” years’ worth of things she feels are wrong. Those consequences are as mystical as they are haunting in their realism. And O’Malley’s humor shines throughout, including a scene in which she makes frivolous use of the notebook to hide a night-long drunk.
Perhaps the best example comes through in a scene in which Katie realizes that getting back a boy with her little notebook doesn’t come with complete happiness. The first thing she notices is how “strange and boy-centric” her apartment has become, as in this reality, the two are married and living together. And then, she discovers her grand idea for a new restaurant was no longer just her dream. It was now shared, and she had lost the control she desired. (And O’Malley’s penchant for the kitchen is on full display in this work, complete with recipe asides and restaurant drama.)
For many of us, one of childhood’s defining images was of the four shelled warriors that made Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird overnight millionaires. For Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, there are just as many poor adaptions as successful ones. Despite this, and despite the involvement of known goober Michael Bay, longtime fans still look forward to the upcoming film on Aug. 8. If you still haven't seen the trailer, check it out below:
Many of the plot details have been revealed, and we know at least a majority of the characters we’ll see in this film. But the folks behind the movie are known enthusiasts (and even Eastman got involved), and with a few more films in the pipeline, it’s not out of the question to see some figures from the franchise that aren’t present in trailers. Here’s who we’re hoping to see:
The move from TV to comics isn’t unprecedented, but writers Rob Rosell and Scott Marder have given themselves a tough act to follow as members of the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia team. Doberman #1 comes from another collaboration from the duo, with writer Jack Lambert and artist Brandon McKinney tackling the ongoing duties on the book.
At first glance, it seems like that kind of cop movie that made the ‘80s great. It’s a revenge story, and its protagonist has a slight mullet, sunglasses and a six-pack in hand. In a release, Lambert says, “If Sylvester Stallone, Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme had a child, Frank Doberano (aka Doberman) would be that bastard’s name.”
While this may inspire some hope for some of us, it’ll be interesting to see how this will appeal to younger readers in any way. McKinney’s art even reeks of the era. Take a chance on it this week, and let us know what you think.
In recent years, the spy genre has returned to comics in a big way. Image has tackled it with books like Velvet, Ed Brubaker’s twist on the classic espionage tales. Marvel’s offered S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agents of Atlas. But if I had to guess which DC character would make a jump into the genre, I would never have said a former Boy Wonder.
Grayson, which debuts today, follows former Robin Dick Grayson in his new gig as an agent for Spyral, the Grant Morrison-created agency that debuted in Batman Incorporated. The series is written by Tim Seeley and Tom King, with art from Mikel Janin. You may remember the Spanish artist from his duties on Justice League Dark.
DC provides this teaser: “It’s a super-spy thriller that will shock you and prove one thing: You might think you know Nightwing — but you don’t know Dick.” Well, as surprising as it is for the company to put it so bluntly, that seems to say it all. Comic Afterthoughts will certainly give it a chance on that line and the above cover alone.
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