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Tag: Comic Books (1-10 of 147)

From damsel to hero: Gwen Stacy's awesome turn as Spider-Woman

For all of its many faults, one of the best things this spring’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had going for it was Emma Stone in the role of Gwen Stacy.

The film’s script, unfortunately, didn’t really do her any favors, up to and including—here’s your spoiler warning—her death at the end of the film. Purists might disagree; they’d cite the fact that the film stays true to the comic-book source material and that it was a watershed moment for comics. They’d be right about those things: That’s what Gwen Stacy does. She dies. But with each passing year, it seems less like necessary canon and more like missed opportunity—as a new comic book released this week shows.

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On the Books: Nielsen Bookscan reports boom in graphic novel sales

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Americans have bought 5,618,000 graphic novels in 2014, Nielsen Bookscan reports—a 10-percent increase over last year. The rising success of the genre can be attributed to reliable fan favorites (The Walking Dead, Batman and Diary of a Wimpy Kid), the comeback of manga (Attack on Titan, Naruto, and One Piece), and breakout bestsellers like the space opera/fantasy series Saga (Image Comics), which topped lists in both its digital and paper formats. Similarly, Diamond Comics Distributors reports a near 4-percent rise in year-to-date sales and a near 6-percent rise in year-to-date units moved. The graphic novel business, including digital and periodical comics, made more than $870 million in 2013. [Publishers Weekly]

Other news indicating a resurgence in graphic novels is FilmNation Entertainment’s purchase of the film rights to The Undertaking of Lily Chena dark novel about “corpse brides” that “was inspired by an Economist article about the tradition of post-mortem marriage in China.” The New York distributor plans to turn the Danica Novgorodoff work into a Chinese-language movie, reporting it has had success in similar Chinese ventures before. [Mediabistro]

Another bestselling novelist is in the making his enthusiasm for the military known: James Patterson is donating 180,000 of his hardcover books to American troops. “Every day the men and women of our armed forces sacrifice on our behalf. I can’t think of a more deserving group to receive these books.” [USA Today]

'Zero' review: Being a spy will really mess you up

Zero is a comic book with a conceit that starts out simply: Should spies akin to James Bond exist in the real world, they would be irreparably damaged people. So what if one of these broken, efficient killing machines discovered that he was being used by the wrong side? What would that look like?

Written by Ales Kot and illustrated by a different artists every issue, Zero tells the story of Edward Zero, the best operative in a mysterious Agency, in the middle of a crisis of conscience. Trained from the age of 10 to be a killer, put on drugs to suppress his emotions, and placed on the front lines of a secret war that will radically change the entire world, Zero’s story unfolds bit by bit over a 20-year span beginning in 2018 and ending in 2038. With a nonlinear structure, the reader knows from the beginning that Zero defects—the framing narrative places an old, weary Zero in front of a gun held by a child sent by The Agency, with the same drugs and training Zero had burning through his system. Each issue tells a story involving Zero or one of his associates set in that time period and beyond. Each chapter offers a peek into the messy, broken, and violent headspace of its characters and asks you to sort it out. It’s a fascinating, disconcerting work.

The experience of reading Zero isn’t always a smooth ride. There’s an intricate density to the storytelling—Kot often manages to pull off the difficult trick of constructing each issue with a satisfying, self-contained story that’s complemented with cryptic clues about the near-future world it’s set in and devastating revelations that affect the ongoing plot. And while there’s a lot of thought put into every script, the pacing is highly irregular, and the nonlinear story can make for jarring transitions. But Zero does everything else so well—from art to design to dialogue and beyond—that a sometimes hard-to-follow plot is more of a feature than a bug. The experience of reading a comic book is rarely a prolonged one, and as such having reasons to reread, to pore over slowly and contemplate the ways a particular artist suits a particular story, are all good things.

With Zero on hiatus until October 29, now is the perfect time to pick up the first two volumes, An Emergency and At the Heart of It All, which collect the first 10 issues of the series. Designed by Tom Muller (who is also responsible for the striking look on the single issues), the trade dress for both volumes feature one of the most striking designs for a standard trade paperback in recent memory. The upper portion of the cover is devoted to abstract imagery that reflects the themes of the book—An Emergency is a messy collage designed to look like it was ripped off pages from the comics within, just like its protagonist is broken down and stitched together again into something bleak and impenetrable. Similarly, the second volume takes key art from the next batch of issues and distorts them, much like a signal that isn’t quite clear. It’s a strong setup for what’s to come, even if that isn’t entirely obvious. On both volumes, the lower third of the cover starkly lays out all the relevant information: series, title, price, and credits. It’s an eye-catching look that begs to be talked about and read.

One caveat: Zero is, in a word, violent. There is a graphic brutality on display that some readers will find uncomfortable. While that’s the point, it doesn’t make it any easier to read. In interviews, Kot describes Zero alternately as “what if James Bond was real” and an exploration of “bleak male rage,” expressing the importance of following up depictions of violence with equally considered looks at its lasting, devastating effects. With the help of the many other talented artists whom he has collaborated with, Kot has done exactly that: tearing down the psyches of characters we often encounter in action movies, and inviting us to wander through the rubble.

It’s a disturbing place.

'Five Weapons' is a comic that's set in a Hogwarts for assassins

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Five Weapons, Jimmie Robinson’s recently-concluded comic book series, has an irresistible hook: At a school where children are trained to be assassins, a pacifist vows to make it through the semester without touching a single weapon.

There are several ways a story about 12-year-olds learning to be professional killers could go wrong, even in a world where the most popular young adult franchise in the world is about teens forced to murder each other. But Five Weapons dodges all of them. Though it’s set in a world defined by violence, Five Weapons isn’t lurid or graphic in the least—in fact, it’s an all-ages romp that’s mostly about making friends.

Tyler Shainline is the new kid at the School of Five Weapons, where the children of assassins go to learn their parents’ craft. The school’s name refers to the five clubs that students can join, each focusing on a different instrument: knives, guns, staffs, bows and arrows, and “exotic” (poisons and such). As the son of one of the world’s most revered assassins, Shainline is instantly an object of resentment from his classmates. This only deepens after he refuses to choose a weapon and join a club. Each issue of the comic addresses the same issue: how can Tyler solve a series of impossible challenges without breaking his vow of pacifism? READ FULL STORY

Prepare for 'The Flash' with DC Comics' 'Season Zero'

While the Flash is gearing up for a run on his own CW series, debuting Oct. 7, you can get a jump on the scarlet speedster’s adventures today with DC Comics’ Digital First series The Flash: Season Zero.

Written by executive producer Andrew Kreisberg, along with series writers Brooke Eikmeier and Katherine Walczak, The Flash: Season Zero takes place after the pilot and before the rest of the series. It follows the young superhero as he begins to learn his powers with the help of his S.T.A.R. Labs team, under guidance of the suspicious Harrison Wells, as well as his role as protector of Central City as he faces off against newly super-empowered criminals.

While the Flash’s main Rogues Gallery, including Weather Wizard, Captain Cold, and Heat Wave, are scheduled to appear on the TV series, there’s still a limit to the scope of what the showrunners can realistically produce for television. The comic book series, however, will take advantage of artistic expertise of Phil Hester, showing The Flash take on even more outlandish foes from the DC Universe, starting with Circus Barker Mr. Bliss, and his Carnival of Metahuman Freaks.

But the comic won’t just be all spectacle. Expect more intimate moments between Barry and his supporting cast; his imprisoned father Henry Allen, mentor Detective West, best friend/unrequited love Iris West, and her new beau, Officer Eddie Thawne. With each issue containing some clues hinting at future episode storylines, the writers ultimately want this to enrich the TV viewing experience. Just don’t expect an Arrow/Flash crossover in these pages. Due to the shifting timelines between the series, the writers are saving that for the screen.

The first chapter of The Flash Season Zero is available today. New issues of The Flash and Arrow will be available bi-weekly, alternating every Monday, and they will also be collected and published monthly, the first print issue of which will be available on Oct. 1, the week before the TV series’ season premiere. Check out a sample of the artwork below by Phil Hester.

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Image Credit: DC Entertainment

'Arrow' returns in digital-first 'Season 2.5' comic by Mark Guggenheim

Anxious to leap back into another season of Arrow? Waiting with baited breath for Oliver and Felicity to explore their feelings for one another? Painfully awaiting the fate of Detective Lance?

The third season of the CW superhero vigilante TV series Arrow will return in just a few weeks, but fans can start catching up now on all the Team Arrow action with DC’s digital-first comic Arrow: Season 2.5. Written by Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim and executive story editor Keto Shimizu, who both write for the show, Season 2.5 will pick up directly after the last moments of the show’s season-two finale, leading fans right up to the opening moments of the season-three premiere.

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Exclusive preview of 'The Strain: The Night Eternal' comic book adaptation

Guillermo del Toro’s vampire series has been infectious, to say the least. From the original novels with Chuck Hogan, to the comic adaptations from Dark Horse Comics, and now the current hit TV series on FX, The Strain is going viral.

The Night Eternal is the third volume in The Strain Trilogy, building toward the ultimate conclusion of the vampiric apocalypse that began in volumes one and two, The Strain and The Fall. Those two previous novels have been adapted into a comic book series by writer David Lapham (Stray Bullets) and del Toro’s handpicked artist for the series, Mike Huddleston. Combining the grit and humanist nature of Lapham’s writing with Huddleston’s amazing ability to capture the creepy in an abstract, yet thoroughly grounded manner has made for some quality, chill-inducing comics.

The first issue of The Strain: The Night Eternal is on sale this Wednesday, August 20. Check out the cover artwork and exclusive 10-page preview below:

It’s been two years since the Master’s plan succeeded and a near apocalypse coated the world in darkness. Now able to roam freely, the Master’s legion of vampires rule the world—a horrifying police state where humans are harvested for blood. As humanity despairs, Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and an unlikely team of heroes continue their fight against extinction and hope to unlock the secret to the Master’s demise.

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Image Credit: Dark Horse Comics

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Image Credit: Dark Horse Comics

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Image Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Wonder Woman arrives in Gotham in DC's 'Sensation Comics'

On Wednesday, DC Comics will release Sensation Comics, a Wonder Woman anthology that exists outside the New52 Continuity, the next step in their Digital First comic book line. The series is made to be accessible to casual readers who may not be caught up on the continuity reboots and relaunches that DC Comics have put forth over the years; the story brings back the pre-New52 Oracle identity of Barbara Gordon (a.k.a. Batgirl), and it boasts ComiXology driven digital accessibility matched with the top-notch creative talent pairings. (And yes—paper purists will be pleased to know they do a great job on the print editions.)

The Amazon Princess’s adventures this time around are written by Gail Simone (Batgirl, Birds of Prey) and Amanda Deibert with art by Ethan van Sciver (Green Lantern, Flash: Rebirth) and Cat Staggs. Simone and van Sciver previously collaborated on “The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men.” Working in the digital format is still a new experience for both creators, though ultimately they want to convey the essence of Wonder Woman and what makes her stand out from Superman, Batman, and other heroes.

To amp up that contrast, the first story sees Wonder Woman swooping into Gotham to deal with Batman’s Rogues Gallery at Oracle’s behest, where her characteristic compassion will be tested. And with several super-villains and psychos on the loose, the fun comic book superheroine will likely make good use of her Greek-god arsenal, with weapons like the greatly under-appreciated boomerang tiara.

Below, see a preview and read an introduction (from the comic book’s solicit) of what happens when Paradise Island meets Arkham Asylum.

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Image Credit: DC Entertainment

SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #1
Written by GAIL SIMONE and AMANDA DEIBERT
Art by ETHAN VAN SCIVER and CAT STAGGS
Cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER

Diana Prince: Amazon warrior, ambassador to Man’s world, or champion of women in need? All of the above! This digital-first anthology series will bring some of comics’ greatest talents to Themyscira, and give them leave to explore Diana, her world – and ours!

Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver kick things off when Oracle calls for help after the entire Bat-Family gets sidelined. But when Wonder Woman steps into the breach, Gotham City’s criminals get the surprise of their lives! Then, Amanda Deibert and Cat Staggs take Diana to school, where she meets her biggest fan!

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30 years later, the first 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' comics still pop

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The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles haven’t always been green.

The TMNT comic’s origin story is as modest as that of the Heroes in a Half Shell themselves. Creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird may not have had to scramble out of a sewer, like Leonardo and his reptillian brothers did, but they did have to scrape together the funds to self-publish just a few thousand copies of TMNT #1 in 1984. Eastman and Laird called their fledgling enterprise Mirage Studios. The name was an in-joke: Like a mirage, the studio had nothing behind it. It was built on a wing, a prayer, and the crazy idea that turtles might make not only good soup, but also good superheroes.

Their black-and-white format was an economic choice rather than an aesthetic one. Full-color comics were prohibitively expensive to produce. In those early days, the Turtles’ telltale green shade existed solely in the mind of the reader—another mirage, if you will. READ FULL STORY

Comic-book icon Archie Andrews will die saving gay friend

In April, Archie Comics publisher and co-CEO Jon Goldwater told CNN that Archie Andrews would die in issue #36 of “Life with Archie,” a comic-book series set in an alternate universe that presented possible futures for the characters of the classic Archie Comics series. Issue #36 will arrive on stands on Wednesday—and while we don’t know yet who kills Archie, we do now know how he dies.

Today, Goldwater revealed to the Associated Press that Archie would die trying to stop an assassination attempt on Archie Comics’ first openly gay character, Kevin Keller, a military veteran and newly elected senator who’s in favor of increased gun control.

“We wanted to do something that was impactful that would really resonate with the world and bring home just how important Archie is to everyone,” Goldwater told the AP. “That’s how we came up with the storyline of saving Kevin. He could have saved Betty. He could have saved Veronica. We get that, but metaphorically, by saving Kevin, a new Riverdale is born.”

Issue #36 is the penultimate issue of “Life with Archie.” The following issue, #37, will jump ahead one year to depict how Betty, Veronica and the rest of the Riverdale gang are handling Archie’s death and honoring his legacy. Goldwater said that the way in which Archie dies is meant to “epitomize not only the best of Riverdale but the best of all of us,” and that he hopes that it works as “a lesson about gun violence and a declaration of diversity in the new age of Archie Comics.”

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