Congratulations DC!

Can you believe it?

DC has successfully sold-out, and are beginning second-printings on ALL 52 titles!

When an industry like comic books are on the brink of extinction – something incredible happens and spins it around! What’s even more incredible is that there is still tons of profit towards digital content which DC has not spoke of yet. And for the big kicker from ICV2.com:

“To help feed the demand (and to provide a holiday product supporting the launch), DC is releasing DC Comics: The New 52, a hardcover collection of all 52 stories, on December 7th (to comic stores; other channels street December 13th). The volume will retail for $150.00.”

I think that’s an excellent idea. I’ve read a bit of the new 52 and was unable to fork out as much money as I could for all of the comics on my pull list. I think this is an excellent way to continue their excellent idea.

DC New 52

Although I was worried at first, it really seems like DC has everything under control. This has officially helped the comic industry – and I really hope it continues to.

Even with recent objections to how Catwoman and Starfire have been depicted in comics, DC came out on their Twitter feed and stated in two Tweets:

“We’ve heard what’s being said about Starfire today and we appreciate the dialogue on this topic.”
“We encourage people to pay attention to the ratings when picking out any books to read themselves or for their children.”

Well-handled. To top it all off, they got the message about how upset people were with the depictions.

If you would like to know more about that, jump over to ComicBookResources.com to check it out.

As for me, I’ll be moving to a new house in a few days – so just hang in there. I’ll be back soon enough.

Keep on Space Truckin’ until I return!

Massive FanExpo ReCap!

Wow! What an incredible weekend! FanExpo was so much fun this year. Great improvements were made with spacing and positioning of booths, that I never felt too overcrowded when I was there. This is the first time I went to FanExpo and could not think of how they could improve for next year. It was that good.

But on to comics! (And as a warning, all the pictures were taking by my phone)

Thursday:

For the short time I was there, I talked to TONS of artists and writers. To top it all off, I met the legendary Chris Claremont!

Upon going into the Expo at 4:00pm, I immediately wanted to meet Chris Claremont. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend on the Thursday, so I had to make my way to the second people on my list: Matt Fraction (Iron Man, Thor, Uncanny X-Men, Fear Itself) and Kelly Sue DeConnick (Osborn, Supergirl, Castle). As it turned out, meeting them was the entire highlight of the convention.

I only brought stuff up for Kelly Sue to sign on Thursday, while the Friday was for Fraction. Upon meeting Kelly Sue, I tossed down my Osborn series for her to sign and asked her a few questions. While answering, she paused and asked my name to sign.

I said, “Derek.”
“How do you spell that?”
“D-e-r-e-k.”
“Is this, ‘Uncanny Derek?'”
I smiled and replied, “Maybe.”

Needless to say, it instantly became the highlight of the convention. Then she personalized Osborn #1 for me.

Osborn Signed

I asked her if I could get a picture of her with Fraction, as he just freed up from signing. But Kelly Sue asked if I wanted to be in the picture. How could I say no?

DeConnick Fraction UncannyDerek

After telling Matt Fraction that I’d return for him tomorrow, I ran into Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso and VP of Creative Development, C.B. Cebulski. After chatting for a few moments, this happened:

Alonso Cebulski UncannyDerek

Needless to say, I was at the convention for literally a half hour and was completely enthused about how everything was going so far. I could peruse through comics, toys, booths and the-like without any issues of cramming or bumping into anyone. I managed to nick a few more Uncanny X-Men’s off of my pull-list for dirt-cheap (and in great quality) too. I picked up Uncanny X-Men #95, #120, (both which Claremont signed later) #132, #135, and #266 – the (arguably) first appearance of Gambit.

I walked down Artist’s Alley – a place designated for artists and writers to hang out and chat with fans. The first person I ran into was Marko Djurdjevic. He was quite the outgoing person – very laid back and care-free, but with a hint of elitism. I soon figured out why. I had quite a few of comics for him to sign – and I asked him what’s next on his plate. He told me he just quit Marvel about two months ago and that he was going back to video game concept art. Albeit shocked, I congratulated him and asked why. He simply told me his contract was up and he did not want to have to deal with higher-ups anymore. Fair enough.

One of the comics he signed was my copy of New Mutants #27. I told him that it was my favourite cover I’ve seen in awhile, and he began to laugh. He absolutely hated it and thought it was the worst “piece of shit” he ever created, and that he “has it buried” in files so he can never see it again. Admittedly, I found that hilarious too, but I congratulated him and went on my way.

It wasn’t until the next morning did I find out what was REALLY going on with him. I was anything less-than shocked.

I went on to find a very modest artist, Jimmy Cheung, who revealed to me that he has been working on Avengers: The Children’s Crusade for the past TWO years. He also clarified that it takes about two and a half months for him to finish one book of The Children’s Crusade. No wonder why it looks so breath-taking. He also said that the last few issues will probably be delayed because there is still much work for him to finish with. But he was a great, genuine guy.

From there, I headed to the panel, “Breaking into Comics: The Marvel Way.” As an aspiring writer, I would love to know some tricks of the trade. The panel shed some light on how writers can break into the medium and definitely raised some good pointers on how important it is to not just love comics. There’s a lot more to the trade than it seems.

Breaking Into Comics

From left to right: Matt Fraction, Axel Alonso, C.B. Cebulski, Mark Brooks (Uncanny X-Force), and Arune Singh (Marvel Communications).

My last guest of the evening was Fred Van Lente (Taskmaster, Incredible Hercules, Chaos War, Alpha Flight). Like Cheung, Van Lente was a truly genuine person, and I was really looking forward to speaking with him. Wearing a dress shirt and suspenders, he was really excited and involved when chatting with me. He also gave a few writing pointers. I then asked him how him and writer Greg Pak got to co-writing everything. Turns out Pak had too much on his plate during Incredible Hercules as Pak was busy with World War Hulk at the time. Marvel tossed over Van Lente for help – and the rest became history. The duo worked well together. Van Lente said that Pak would initially start writing and left Van Lente to really finish the stories – and essentially, that is still how they write to this day.

Van Lente also mentioned that he received his humour in comics as a defense mechanism for being picked on all the time through grade and high school. Turns out we have a ton in common, too.

Friday:

The busier of the two days, Friday was my day to see Claremont, as well as wrap things up with Fraction and hopefully run into a few other wonderful people.

Arriving around 2:00pm, I met Matt Fraction again. I asked him a few questions about writing comics – how he is able to separate all of the voices from one another (ie. How Pixie uses magic but doesn’t come off as Asgardian). But he also said that some voices he couldn’t get, so he didn’t use them – which is his reason to why Storm hardly ever spoke during his run on Uncanny X-Men.

I then asked him some general writing questions and re-mentioned I was an aspiring writer. There, Fraction looked me in the eyes and gave me incredible advice for literally, the next five minutes. He was very involved in telling me the “do’s and don’ts” as well as touching base with his own past experiences – struggling to get started and now working with a wife, mortgage and two children. But the way he spoke to me, it was if he was teaching me how to write. He was very emotive about how his writing process works and what I could do to succeed. It absolutely floored me. I stood there, absorbing every word he said as it was so profound to my ears. And no, I will not repeat it. 🙂 When he was done, I had nothing else but great thanks and appreciation his way.

After I shook his hand, I walked away from the table and pulled out my notebook to write down everything he just said to me. Yes, it was that important to me.

Since it was now Friday, new creators were down Artists Alley to meet. Artist Alex Maleev (Moon Knight, Scarlet, Daredevil) was consistently doing commission work at his table – and always surrounded by an audience. I walked by his table about four times, and each time he was doing something different. Here is Maleev working on an Elektra:

Elektra Maleev

Passing Maleev, I met Stuart Immonen (Fear Itself, New Avengers, Superman). As if Cheung and Van Lente weren’t enough, Immonen was intense and graciously happy to be doing what he is doing. I cannot remember what I asked him unfortunately, however, the panel I saw him at shortly after was pretty darn fun.

When 3:00pm rolled around, I got in line for Chris Claremont which was already about thirty people long. His signing was at 3:30pm. Next to him were artists Kalman Andrasofszky (X-23, NYX) and Dale Keown (Incredible Hulk). I spoke with Dale very briefly and thanked him for being an inspiration to my drawing. I told him how I re-created a cover of his and how it got me back into drawing again and he was beyond-happy to hear that. Then came Chris Claremont.

Claremont Keown Andrasofszky

From left to right: Claremont, Keown, and Andrasofszky.

Meeting Chris was pretty exciting. I heard stories that he was a bit rude at times, but I was giving him the benefit of the doubt today. He signed my copies of Uncanny X-Men #95, #107, #109, #120, #137, #141 and #142. I asked him how he came up with the ending of the Dark Phoenix Saga and what made him decide that Jean Grey should die (as killing off a main character was unheard of back then). He gave me quite the long answer which left me satisfied. After he was done, I asked if I could get a picture with him. He said, “Sure” and I stood beside him. As I did, he grabbed the next person in lines stack of books (the ENTIRE run of X-Men Forever) and started signing them. I posed and saw in my peripherals that he hadn’t looked up. Maybe he hadn’t heard me? I asked again if I could get a photo with him. He said, “Sure,” and so I stood beside him waiting. Alas, he didn’t look up. My result:

Claremont UncannyDerek

I suppose I should have expected that.

During my line up for Claremont, a panel with Matt Fraction, Kelly DeConnick, and Stuart and Kathryn Immonen had started called “Couples in Comics.” I arrived about twenty minutes late, so I unfortunately missed who the other folk were (I can’t know EVERYONE in the comic business). The room was partly filled – which is a shame because the panel was great. Not only did everyone speak about how they work in the business together, but Fraction and Stuart both spoke about how it was to be partners. There, Stuart said how he usually doesn’t read the dialogue to what is said in the scripts – but rather, draws the actions instead. Kelly Sue was blown away by the statement, while Fraction seemed a bit shocked over it. However, Kathryn stepped in and said that Stuart was being a bit overzealous in that statement, leaving the room with a ton of laughs. It was a really fun and exciting panel to be at. I wish I had just seen the whole thing though.

Fraction DeConnick Immonen

From left to right: Fraction, DeConnick, Stuart and Kathryn Immonen.

After the panel, I decided to see the final artist I would meet for the day: Leonard Kirk (New Mutants, Sigil). He was busy working on commissions too, and unfortunately had very little time to talk. I wished to get a commission out of him, but he was backed up and I was on my last day there. Boo-urns. However, it is still great to see a local resident here work for Marvel. It’s still pretty neat.

FanExpo was one excellent adventure this year. For only going for two days, I accomplished quite a bit. I did miss out on Mark Brooks and Dale Eaglesham – who were on my “to see” list, and I missed out on a few panels. However, the information and encouragement I left with made all the difference.

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Comics!

X-Men 95 Signed Claremont

Green Lantern vs. X-Men First Class

I’ve finally caught up watching both Green Lantern and X-Men First Class movies. Both have been doing very well at the box office, but both have been reviewed very differently via their critics. GL is sitting at 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, while XMFC is sitting at a comfortable 87%. Given that both movies came out weeks between one another, I figured it would be a good idea to ask myself, and you, “Which one is better?”

My Initial Take

I’m a huge X-fan, so it surprised a lot of people I knew who found out that I did not see it on opening night. Why? From the first announcements of the cast, I knew this was not going to be a normal X-Men movie. I mean, Azazel as an adult with Mystique as a child and friends to Xavier? Alex Summers with no Cyclops? Riptide? Really? What happened to Darwin? It was a confusing mess from the get-go in my already established X-Continuity mind. As the movie came closer, I figured the movie would end up being an action flick with the X-Men names attached to it.

With Green Lantern, I had no idea what to expect. I mean, I love corny movies, so a 27% was not going to sway my opinion on the movie. Most people seemed to dislike it because the plot was too simple. Well I loved the 80’s Transformers movie – and I argue that it’s way better than Bay’s recent romp of films. But looking at it, it’s a terrible movie done right. That was my expectation for Green Lantern after hearing the reviews from it come in.

Brace yourself for very minor spoilers ahead.

Green Lantern

GL stayed pretty close to the source material. Hal Jordan was a pilot whose father died when he was a boy. He’s arrogant and Abin Sur gives the ring to Hal. I don’t really have to go into full-detail about the movie, but in a nutshell, GL was superiorly closer to the source material than any X-Men movie thus far.

But I digress: Which movie is better?

Better at what though?

For me, Green Lantern nailed the origin story. Although there was not a lot of time spent on Oa (and I wish there was), viewers could get the gist of the story without having read a comic before. In fact, you could probably pick up a GL comic now (for the most part) and really get a good grasp on what is being told solely because the movie was that easy-going to its viewers.

The movie did fall flat on a lot of dialogue though. In a nutshell, it was Hal Jordan saying, “I’m not afraid. I won’t be afraid. I’m no longer afraid.” In fact, that was pretty much the bulk of the movie. It moved at a slow pace but ultimately came out triumphant in capturing what Green Lantern is. To top it all off, the effects were fantastic.

I loved the final battle scene with Parallax and really enjoyed the time spent on Oa. The scenes where Hal trained with Kilowog and Sinestro were spectacular. Actually, every scene with Sinestro was well done. My only beef was how Ryan Reynolds looked in the costume. It never really did look right – but it’s minuscule when you look at the grand scheme of effects used in the film.

Despite its PG-rated goodness, the film gave us a true portrayal of Hal Jordan. It just did it in a very basic, arguably too simplistic, of ways.

First Class received a PG-13 rating, and justifiably so. The violence is a lot more real, the language gets foul, and Emma Frost hardly wears any clothing. What it also gains is a more mature story. And no, I do not suggest PG-13 movies are better than PG ones. This is just my lazy segue into X-Men First Class.

Taking viewers to the 1960’s, we get a young Charles Xavier, Erik Lehnsherr (or Max Eisenhardt, for you hardcore fans), Mystique, Havok, Banshee, Darwin, Angel, and various others mutants compiled into an intriguing and unique story about the Cuban Missile Crisis and who was really behind it all. And you know what? It works.

X-Men First Class

For a movie not about anything ever seen before in the X-Men comics, XMFC takes the characters we know and puts them into something entirely different. XMFC takes the undertone of prejudice for mutants and throws them directly into the time where the Western World was on the brink of war. With two major conflicting ideas, the movie forces us to ask about compassion and to justify violence. Indeed, both Xavier and Magneto are the catalysts to both ideals, but the viewer is indirectly asked to make the choice themselves. Green Lantern has none of these deep undertones to it. Any that are suggested in GL are blatantly told to you, (“Don’t be afraid” “Have courage”) while little is left to the imagination of what the movie is really about.

Does that make XMFC a better movie than GL? Of course not.

Another way to look at this is from what I mentioned before with GL. If you saw GL, you can pick up a comic and understand the character or what has happened in the comics rather easily. X-Men is a whole new ball game. There is no way one could read an X-Men comic after seeing the movie and try to compare the two. The only thing XMFC shared with the X-Men comic stories were the character names and some of their powers. Sebastian Shaw had a energy feeding ball of energy, while Darwin *spoiler* could not even keep himself alive for more than ten minutes of the movie. If you’ve read about Darwin, you know that killing him is practically impossible.

Final Thoughts

When comparing both GL and XMFC, GL succeeds tremendously to sticking with the source material, while XMFC did anything but. Quite literally, XMFC could have been any movie with any characters from any series of anything. However “X-Men” was tagged on to it, and thusly, it must be an X-Men movie, despite not being anything to do with X-Men, right? I don’t know.

I mean, with DC’s reboot around the corner, and X-Men already having multiple universes with Ultimate X-Men or Age of Apocalypse, should it matter if XMFC followed the story or not?

Is X-Men First Class a better movie than Green Lantern because it had a better story? Or is Green Lantern a better movie because it followed the source material?

What do you think?

Don’t forget to check out UncannyDerek on Facebook and Twitter!

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Uncanny X-Men Cancelled

In case you haven’t heard the drastic news: Uncannny X-Men is canceled as of issue #544.

That’s right. Uncanny X-Men – my favourite comic series – is concluding. All I can hear is Padme Amidala saying, “Anakin! You’re breaking my heart.” Or maybe that’s me saying, “Marvel! You’re ruining my fun!” The newest storyline entitled “Schism” is bringing the to a close.

Uncanny X-Men is the only Marvel title out of the 1960’s which has not had an interruption in numbering. What I mean, and if you read one of my more recent blogs about DC’s reboot, you’d know that most of Marvel’s comics have been revamped multiple times. Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man, Journey Into Mystery, etc., have all had many reboots. Heck, The Avengers is on Volume 4 already! The Fantastic Four just ended with issue #588 and The Incredible Hulk is ending with issue #635.

So what is the big deal about Uncanny X-Men? Let me tell you with my biased opinions.

FIVE Reasons Why Cancelling Uncanny X-Men is a Bad Thing:

Uncanny X-Men Finale

1. The Numbering and the Collection
As an avid comic collector, the numbering change sucks. I both love to read and collect Uncanny X-Men. When I make a collection, nothing is more satisfying than saying that I own a full-run or having a large chunk of numbers in a row. Breaking that streak is not only a let-down for collectors, but also creates disinterest. Since I’m a fanboy, I’ll of course continue reading X-Men. However, this end of numbers may be the excuse many need to jump off the series. However, the sales and interest of Uncanny X-Men will peak with the reasoning behind its cancellation (this “Schism” storyline). This is also a big deal because Uncanny X-Men is doing very well with sales. This brings me to:

2. Too Many X-Titles
Uncanny X-Force, X-Men Legacy, X-Men, Astonishing X-Men, Generation Hope, X-Factor, New Mutants, Alpha Flight, Wolverine, X-23, Daken, Deadpool, mini’s (ie. Divided We Stand) – they’re all on the market right now. Some may argue that the series is being cancelled to help “sales.” That has to be completely absurd.
Case-in-point: The sales for comics in April 2011
Uncanny X-Men #535 – 56,795 – $3.99
Uncanny X-Force #7 – 54,292 – $3.99
Uncanny X-Men #536 – 53,502 – $3.99
Uncanny X-Men #534.1 – 53,473 – $2.99
X-Men Legacy #247 – 51,970 – $2.99
Uncanny X-Force #8 – 50,908 – $3.99
X-Men #10 – 50,553 – $3.99
New Mutants #24 – 38,701 – $2.99
X-Factor #218 – 24,826 – $2.99

April was quite the over-saturated month for Uncanny X-Men. With THREE titles coming out and selling over 50k at roughly $3.99 each, there’s no way to say sales are a problem. In the entire month, Uncanny X-Men – the flagship title – remains on top. The newest “X-Men” series which only recently released issue #1 is getting pummeled in sales when against its parent titles. Why cancel what is doing the best for all of the X-Titles? A reboot may not even work if you assume the sloping trend in sales “X-Men” is having.

3. Schism/Inevitable Comeback
“Schism” is the event which is to shake down what the X-Men are. It is supposed to make a Twilight fanbase out of Uncanny X-Men fans – deciding whether or not “Team Wolverine” or “Team Cyclops” will win the heart of Bella – I mean, the hearts of the readers. What bothers me most (and can be tied in with the first problem) is that a reboot will inevitably bring back the numbering. It has happened with Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man, Journey Into Mystery, The Avengers, etc. Yes. It happened to all of the comics I mentioned above. Heck, it happened in 2006 with X-Factor. It started a Volume 2 with issue #1-49, then switched back to Volume 1 with #200.

While I can see that the current “X-Men” series may eventually get phased into becoming “Uncanny X-Men,” these reboots are unnecessary for readers who are already familiar with the characters. Who needs to get a issue to “jump on” with when they’ve already been familiar with how Wolverine dislikes Cyclops, or why Jean Grey is dead (currently)? Hey, wasn’t Uncanny X-Men #534.1 meant for that? Wasn’t the new “X-Men” series meant for that too? Either way you look at it, it’s a very gusty move for Marvel because people may just use this as an excuse to stop reading the X-Men all together. However, I believe it is safe to say that Uncanny X-Men will come back. It’s just “when” I’m unsure of.

4. New Writer
Matt Fraction’s run on Uncanny X-Men was a lot of fun. For years with our mutants, he brought them through hell and back with incredible stories starting in issue #500 while introducing a new trademark of identifying each character with some silly one-line descriptions. But Fraction left the series with it feeling stale. Kieron Gillen takes over and suddenly – BAM! – New life is breathed into the series and it’s exciting again. Then Gillen does not even get a full year’s run on the series?! What in the world? Is this a cruel joke? Just when there’s light at the end of the tunnel, it ends up being hit by a train.

5. Greg Land
Nothing says farewell to the longest-unbroken Marvel series like that of Greg Land. I am so looking forward to seeing his great action scenes acted out by models and celebrities. Fml.

What do you folks think? Is this cancellation a good idea? Will it breath fresh air into the series which may have already been boring to you long ago? Will you continue following the outcome of Schism after this?

Keep on Space Truckin’.

Good Idea/Bad Idea: DC Hits the Reboot Button

And by “reboot,” I do not mean they’re in the Net.

No, DC Comics did something drastically yesterday. They announced that all of their superheroes comics will be rebooted to #1. This is massive news as writers will be shifted around as these new adventures unfold. In fact, it seems as if DC will be looking for new writers to jump on board for their characters.

But what about Batman and Superman? They’ve all shared their fair-share of different origin stories with Superman: Earth One is a recent example. But how far will these reboots go?

I also do not mean to be a worry-body, but isn’t a few months till launch seem like too short of a time to find new writers for some of these comics? I’m definitely no Comic Book Engineer, but I do know comics take months in advanced to produce a story. How will the quality appear? What about crossovers? Retcons?

One thing I should also mention is – although this is a drastic overhaul for DC Comics – this is not “new” by any means. Remember in the early 90’s when Marvel did this to a majority of their comics? It bombed big-time. In fact, it upset people so much that they rebooted Fantastic Four TWICE just so that the numbers could sync up. Here’s the cover of Fantastic Four, Volume 3 #71. Or is it Volume 1 #500? Look at the number on the top left of the cover and decide for yourself.

Fantastic Four 500

Amazing Spider-Man was rebooted into a second volume in 1999. It ran for 58 issues before turning into #499. So for the record, Amazing Spider-Man Vol 2 #1-58, was actually Amazing Spider-Man Vol 1 #442-499.

If it didn’t work for Marvel – the bigger of the two companies – why would DC jump on to the same failboat as before?

The Joe Shuster Awards blog has an excellent discussion of some pros and cons with the change in DC. I highly recommend you check it out.

What are your thoughts on what DC is doing? Did Marvel just not do it at the right time? Will DC succeed? Will you drop books when they get renumbered?

Will you keep on Space Truckin’?

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Recently, actress January Jones discussed her role of portraying Emma Frost to the Daily Mail for the newest installment of the X-Men films, X-Men First Class.

January Jones is Emma Frost

There, she is quoted to say,

“You hold yourself differently and it creates that incredibly feminine shape, though I’m glad I don’t have to wear it every day. Emma Frost, my X-Men character, has an impossible body. She has huge boobs with nice, womanly curves, but she is also ripped with muscle.”

Brilliantly put, Jones. Emma Frost is the impossible. She’s a hyper-sexualized cartoon character. There is no way women or men should be subjected to the blatant impossibilities of how women “should” look.

She goes on to say,

“In the amount of time I had to train it just wasn’t possible to achieve that amount of muscle without losing all the good bits. We finished Mad Men at the end of August and I had one day to fly to London to start X-Men.”

You know what? Nevermind.