Los Angeles Times
"All-New Invaders" No. 1. (Marvel)Link
"Captain Marvel" No. 1. (Marvel)Link
"Daredevil" No. 1. (Marvel)Link
"Fantastic Four" No. 1. (Marvel)Link
"Hulk" No. 1. (Marvel)Link
"Ultimate FF" No. 1. (Marvel)Link
Marvel’s next big comics event is “Original Sin,” and the concept — the Watcher has been murdered and familiar superheroes have terrible secrets — could give some pause.
Eisner Award-winning “Daredevil” and “Hulk” writer Mark Waid would be one, if he wasn’t privy to the plans. The self-described “hard-core traditionalist” said his first instinct was to worry that the story line would make the heroes “look like jerks.” But that’s not the case, he told the All-New Marvel Now panel crowd Saturday at Wonder-Con in Anaheim.
“I am proud of being part of a team of writers and artists and editors who didn’t take this opportunity to make the characters uglier, that ‘Original Sin’ is not about tarnishing the nobility of the Marvel characters, not about just screwing with and overriding stuff you already know just for the shock value,” he said. “It’s about doing what Marvel heroes do particularly well, which is realizing consequences of actions and then having to own up to them and having to be better people because of what they have done or … what has been done to them.”
The event’s main miniseries is written by Jason Aaron, but Waid will be teaming with “Iron Man” writer Kieron Gillen for a four-part tie-in story in which Tony Stark learns he may have some responsibility in the gamma-bomb explosion that transformed Bruce Banner into the Incredible Hulk. And if his fellow scientist superhero knew, as Waid put it, “He does not take bad news well.”
He was joined on the panel by newly Eisner-nominated “Captain Marvel” writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, Eisner-winning “Fantastic Four” and “All-New Invaders” writer James Robinson, “Ultimate FF” writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and editor Sana Amanat, who moderated.
Fialkov, whose recent “Amazing Spider-Man” Infinite Comic with Juan Bobillo about a memory-less Peter Parker finding himself robbing a bank will see a free print release May 7, said that an “Ultimate Spider-person” would appear in “Ultimate FF” No. 4. His series follows a group of the smartest people in the Ultimate universe — Sue Storm, Iron Man, Falcon, Machine Man, Phil Coulson and a goat-legged Doctor Doom — as they deal with the walls breaking down between their reality and that of the other Marvel Universe.
DeConnick, whose “Captain Marvel” recently relaunched with a more cosmic bent after a brief hiatus, described its opening six-issue arc as ace-pilot-turned-superhero Carol Danvers “trying to find the edge” of herself by going to space. And as seen in this month’s Issue 2, the Guardians of the Galaxy are part of the adventure.
“Carol’s a very skybound character,” DeConnick said. “She’s heart up, head up, eyes up — everything about her kind of wants to leave the Earth, so we decided that we would let her go and see what happens.”
Robinson, who teamed with Waid on the recent “Spider-Man: Family Business” original graphic novel, is opening his run on the relaunched “world’s greatest comic magazine” with what he calls “the downfall of the Fantastic Four”: the Thing convicted of murder, Johnny Storm losing his Human Torch abilities. He said the person pulling the strings isn’t Doctor Doom or anyone readers might expect.
And for fans of Matt Fraction’s and Jonathan Hickman’s recent runs, Robinson is incorporating ideas from those stories.
“It’s always smacked a little bit of arrogance or disrespect when a writer comes on a book and just decides to throw away all the stuff that people before him have done,” he said. “I’m embracing the whole history of the Fantastic Four.”
The upcoming Issue 4 features a “super-enhanced version” of the Wrecking Crew, and events in an “Original Sin” story where the Thing becomes aware of deceit on the part of Johnn and somewhat of Reed will have ramifications in the ongoing series.
He added that “Fantastic Four” No. 5 features the team on trial. The present scenes will be by regular series artist Leonard Kirk, but the flashbacks will have art by Eisner winner Chris Samnee (Waid’s “Daredevil partner), Jerry Ordway and Dean Haspiel.
Over in “Invaders,” which he said will cross over with “Fantastic Four,” the golden-age heroes — including Namor and the original Human Torch, Jim Hammond — will fight every single Deathlok in the Marvel Universe in one upcoming story.
“I think — though I don’t want to pat myself on the back too much — that I’m good at taking obscure characters and making you care about them,” said Robinson, who did notable work on Starman and Justice Society of America stories at DC.
In the title’s “Original Sin” tie-in story, a Japanese American J-pop singer / superhero, Supreme Radiant Friend (just Radiance in America), granddaughter of Golden Girl, learns that there was a chance that the Invaders could have stopped the atom bomb from being dropped.
The title will also start crossing over with “Fantastic Four” and includes a relationship between Hammond and the kids of the Future Foundation.
Waid said that in “Hulk” he and artist Mark Bagley (who “brings the smash”) are setting a new paradigm for Bruce Banner. Where before the scientist has been steady in human form but varied in his transformations, now the Hulk is the same but when he reverts he’s not always the same Banner.
“It gives us a chance to really get into what Bruce Banner really wanted to accomplish all this time,” Waid said. “What was he trying to do when he built the gamma bomb? What did he want? What did he think his life was going to be like … ?”
He doesn’t expect everyone will love it: “Hulk fans are impossible to please,” he half-jokingly said. “[L]ovely people, but I don’t like them when they’re angry.”
Over in “Daredevil,” which recently relaunched shortly after a multiple-Eisner-winning run with Waid, the writer has moved Matt Murdock to San Francisco (where the blind lawyer with enhanced other senses had been seen practicing for a time in 1970s comics) from his traditional turf of New York’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. The less familiar geography — and shorter buildings — add to Daredevil’s ongoing troubles with villains.
“Every issue we’re showing you things that Daredevil can do that nobody else can do,” Waid said. “But every issue we’re also going out of our way to make sure that there are things that any other superhero could do that are a challenge to Daredevil…”
The Shroud and Owl will be popping up in the title, he said. And the writer plans to stay on the title for a while. Talking about the recent “Daredevil” No. 1.50, which celebrates the character’s 50th anniversary with a look into the future of Matt Murdock at age 50 (and other stories), Waid said he’d still be writing the book then. “They’ll pry it out of my cold, dead hands.”
It never hurts to ask panelists about whether a character will appear soon. During the Q&A, one reader asked whether the demon Blackheart, who has tried to corrupt Daredevil before, would pop up.
Waid thought for a second and nodded. “Sure. … That’s not a bad idea.”
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In 75 years of stories, Batman’s greatest obstacle has always been his humanity, Kevin Smith told an applauding capacity crowd in a Bat-cavernous space Saturday at WonderCon.
“That’s the only thing that stops him,” the filmmaker said, “and you see the frustration as he’s portrayed throughout every medium…. It’s only when he hits the ceiling of his humanity that he can possibly be stopped. And, as we’ve seen, even then sometimes he overcomes it.”
Smith, who hosts the “Fatman on Batman” podcast, was joined on the Batman 75 celebration panel by his “Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet” comic co-writer Ralph Garman, superstar artist and DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee (“Batman: Hush,” “All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder”), essential Caped Crusader animator Bruce Timm (“Batman: The Animated Series,” “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm”), longtime popular Bat-voice actor Kevin Conroy and Warner Bros. Animation Senior Vice President of Creative Affairs Peter Girardi.
In addition to the panel discussion, the audience saw two animated shorts created for the Dark Knight’s diamond jubilee: a “Batman Beyond” piece by Darwyn Cooke, which was making its premiere, and Timm’s black-and-white “Strange Days” (below), which features classic Batman villain Hugo Strange.
“Strange Days” is “an itch that I’ve had for years that I finally got to scratch,” Timm said in introducing the short. “I always wanted to do a straight-up period piece version of Batman set right in 1939, the year Batman was created.”
Both shorts feature Conroy, who’s voiced Bruce Wayne and his alter ego from the start of “Batman: The Animated Series” in 1992 through recent “Arkham” video games, and who had greeted a roaring crowd with a booming, “I am vengeance. I am the night. I am Batman!”
The actor recalled being surprised when he first saw footage from the Emmy-winning “Batman: The Animated Series,” while recording additional dialogue with Joker voice actor and “Star Wars” star Mark Hamill. “On this full screen, that comes up — the lush colors, the rich graphics, the full symphony score just whooshed off the screen. And I looked at Mark and said, ‘Did you have a clue that this is what we’ve been working on?’ … It was breathtaking.”
And of his long working relationship as Batman with Hamill as his arch-nemesis, Conroy said, “He brings out the best in me, and I bring out the worst in him.”
The campy 1960s “Batman” television series that starred Adam West, which gets its first DVD and Blu-ray release later this year, was remembered fondly — and defended fiercely — by Smith and Garman, an avid collector of the show’s memorabilia and a performer on KROQ-FM’s “Kevin & Bean.”
With their upcoming miniseries based on the show, Smith said it was important “to honor the Batman that brought us into the world of Batman.”
Recalling how dark representations of the character became beginning with Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” in 1986 and with Tim Burton’s Oscar-winning, big-screen blockbuster “Batman” in 1989, Smith said to laughter, “There was this general sentiment that if you grew up with the Adam West Batman, you kind of turned your back on it — the way like Peter denied Christ.” He added that he fell into that trap before having his mind changed by comics writer Matt Wagner. “From that point forward … [when other people] would bag on ‘Batman,’ I’d be like, ‘You know what, man? You’re a poser. You should honor that Batman.”
Grittier takes on Gotham’s hero also got their due.
Jim Lee said “The Dark Knight Returns” changed his his life. The landmark miniseries, which shows an older Bruce Wayne coming out of retirement to take up the cape and cowl again, made him enthusiastic about comics again as a senior in college. “It wasn’t just that it was hand-colored. It wasn’t just that it was on shiny paper in a new format. The level of sophistication to the storytelling, the narrative, the political themes and the social themes, blew me away….” It inspired him to pursue comics as a profession, and he assembled his first portfolio the year after.
Talking about controversy over his and Miller’s “All-Star Batman,” which included not always effectively censored profanity, Lee said, “As crazy as that story line was … It really shows you, for as human as the character is, he is bulletproof in all these different ways that you can tell a crazy story where he’s Zebra Batman and he goes to the moon in the ’50s, and you can do a story where he’s very dark in the ‘Arkham’ games and in the ‘Dark Knight’ movie, and it still works.
“He’s multi-generational, and appeals to little kids and older fans. It just goes to show you that all the stuff basically into a giant creative pool, and you guys as the fans decide what’s important, what works, and you are in that way shaping who Batman becomes.”
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