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1. Marvel to Publish Some More Superior Books

Marvel have announced that they’ll be publishing two new titles soon, both tying-in to their Superior Spider-Man series, and both of them focusing on villains. Which means the Spider-Man franchise at Marvel will now be made up of six titles, all of which feature a villain-of-sorts in the main role. We have Scarlet Spider and Venom currently on the go, and now July will see The Superior Foes of Spider-Man and Superior Carnage both released into the world (presumably picked up by a cup/coaster combination, and subsequently thrown out a window).

spiderfoes Marvel to Publish Some More Superior Books

The creative teams are pretty good! The Superior-Spider Foes will focus on the five-strong member of the current Sinister Six, who are made up of Speed Demon, Shocker, Beetle, Overdrive and Boomerang. This is being billed as an ongoing series, and will be written by Nick Spencer, drawn by Steve Lieber. Boomerang appears to be the central character here, although I’m not sure what the ongoing premise of the book will be. It seems like it’ll be a look at life as a for-hire supervillain, and all that entails. Double-crosses, failed heists, an inevitable upcoming appearance from Spider-Man…

superiorcarnage 02 Marvel to Publish Some More Superior Books

Superior Carnage follows the previous two successful Carnage miniseries Marvel have put out recently. Zeb Wells won’t be writing this one, but another member of his writing room at Robot Chicken will be - Kevin Shinick. And whilst Clayton Crain will only be on covers this time round, that does make space for Steven Segovia to come in as artist for the five-issue mini. The mini will focus on another attempt to take over and control the ‘Carnage’ symbiote, but this time it’ll be a villain trying to cause trouble, in the form of The Wizard.

Both books are out in July.

1 Comments on Marvel to Publish Some More Superior Books, last added: 4/5/2013
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2. INTERVIEW: Stephen Mooney Goes Creator-Owned for ‘Half Past Danger’

Later this year IDW will be publishing Half Past Danger, a new series written, drawn, and created by Stephen Mooney. After working as artist on several IDW titles including Star Trek and Angel for the last few years, Mooney decided it was time to set up a creator-owned project, which he’d have full control over. In order to do so, he had to set aside a year in which he scripted, designed, pencilled, inked, coloured and lettered the project – six months in which he wasn’t earning money from any other gigs. It was quite the risk, taking himself out of the comics scene for a year in order to focus on a comic he had no idea would ever see the light of day.

However! The good news is that IDW decided to pick up the book, starting with issue #1 this May – preorderable now! I spoke to Stephen about making the leap into creator-owned work, the inspiration for Half Past Danger, and how the experience has been.

hpd1 INTERVIEW: Stephen Mooney Goes Creator Owned for Half Past Danger


Steve: Half Past Danger is dedicated to your father, “who took me to the movies”. What kind of films would you go see? Were there any in particular which served as inspiration for Half Past Danger?

Stephen: Oh wow, yeah. Loads! The first film I can remember my dad taking my brothers and I to see was E.T. in the Savoy cinema in Dublin in 1982, when I was five years old. Still my favourite cinema to this day. I can remember it like it was yesterday; its one of my first real memories. The whole experience made such a huge indelible dent on my psyche, in so many ways. The bustling anticipatory atmosphere of the jam-packed theatre, the crowd reactions as the movie ebbed and lowed. I was absolutely hooked. It also started my love affair with Spielberg’s eighties ouevre. Films that followed included The Return of The Jedi, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Goonies, Back To The Future, Big Trouble In Little China, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, and many, many more.

The most obvious influences on Half Past Danger filmically-speaking are undoubtedly the first three Indiana Jones movies. They really colour and inform my entire storytelling style. That bang-zip-wallop rapid-fire action beats-ridden kind of a narrative, with a few gags interspersed. Half Past Danger aspires to be that style of tale. Strong influences also would be the very early Connery Bond films, and pulpy matinee-style fare like The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Then of course you have the classic Harryhausen dino movies. Great stuff, all.

Steve: How did the story of Half Past Danger start to come together? When did you first have the idea for it?

Stephen: The idea has been in my mind in some shape or form for years now, in that I’ve always known that if and when I ever attempted a story of my own that it would be 100% mired in that kind of pulpy action-adventure style, simply because that’s the genre I feel most comfortable in, and know so well. I always knew also that I’d want the main character to be an Irishman, since that’s the one thing I’ve been all my life, and nobody could tell the story of that particular character better than me, to my mind. I guess somewhat inevitably I injected much of my own personality and traits into a somewhat idealised version of myself, and placed him squarely into this scenario I’d begun to dream up. Hell, the guy even looks like me. If that’s not vanity wit large, I dunno what is.

The story came together over the last couple of years, I knew the high concept from the start, Nazis versus dinosaurs, but I wanted to really take my time and write something that hadn’t specifically been seen before, since as everybody knows, a lot of these themes have been done before on many occasions. The real trick is to give readers something they haven’t experienced as of yet, and I didn’t want to press too far ahead until I was sure I’d come up with a new spin on what in some ways could be seen as an old tale.

Once I figured out the main wheres, whys and whats, the rest came fairly rapidly.

Steve: This is your first creator-owned work – how did you decide that Half Past Danger was the right project to get off the ground?

Stephen: Well, it’s the only project that I’ve ever completely fleshed out, to be honest. I had this one idea that I thought was really strong, and it was bang in the middle of my wheelhouse, or more specifically what I wanted my wheelhouse to be, so I ran with it. To be honest I didn’t question it too much. Do I have other ideas? Yeah, but they all revolve around this universe! I guess I just had a single, enormous itch I needed to scratch for the time being, and I’ll see where I go from there.

hpd2 INTERVIEW: Stephen Mooney Goes Creator Owned for Half Past Danger

Steve: You’ve said that you took six months off to focus on this project, writing, drawing, inking, colouring, lettering…. Where did you start with the project?

Stephen: With the writing. I didn’t put pencil to paper drawing-wise until the full series was totally written and put to bed. Then pencilling, inking, coloring, lettering, in that order. Then back to the start again for issue 2 and go again; rinse and repeat.

Steve: Did you work issue-by issue on the story, or plot out an entirety and then start filling it in? How did you approach the story once you had the concept locked down, in essence.

Stephen: I worked out the entire plot first. I’d be terrified to embark on a story without knowing how it was going to end. To be honest, I’d probably never GET to the end in that scenario, I’d just circle the drain narratively until I eventually flushed the project. In order to commit myself to this massive body of work, I had to make sure everything was utterly and clearly signposted. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to visualize my goal, and I’d be second-guessing myself all the while. Because the writing was the only element that I’d never approached before, I wanted to give it all of the respect it deserved, and to take the time to get it done right. Or, at least as right as I could get it!

Steve: How long has each issue taken you to complete? Did you find yourself surprised by how difficult certain aspects of the process were?

Stephen: Man, too long! The writing took about 2 months all-in, including research. That was fine. It was when I got stuck into the art side of things that I began to get bogged down a little. One of my dreams for the book was to do absolutely everything myself; complete creator control. That proved to be somewhat of a pipe dream in a way, though. The first issue of the book took me four months to pencil, ink, colour and letter. That was just unsustainable, the book would take another two years at that rate, and I was already six months in. Hence the addition of Jordie Bellaire as series colorist from issue 2 onward.

Something had to give, and of all of the aspects visually, I was spending the most time on the colours, which was crazy. Jordie is a very close friend, and when she saw me floundering she offered to dive in and help me out. She’s an amazing colorist, and a big fan of a lot of the same source material as I am, so it was a pretty seamless transition really. It also doesn’t hurt that Jordie’s a phenomenally talented colorist, in constant demand at all the biggest companies. I’m certainly beyond delighted that she chose to climb aboard.

With Jordie alongside, I’ve been spending two months a piece on the subsequent issues, almost all of that time spent drawing and inking the 26-odd pages per issue, then a couple of days of lettering at the end.

hpd3 INTERVIEW: Stephen Mooney Goes Creator Owned for Half Past Danger

Steve: I was really struck with a blog post you wrote about the role of writing and art in comics - http://www.halfpastdanger.com/2011/10/writing-vs-art-this-time-its-personal.html . Now you’re further into the story, how have you found the balance between writing an issue and drawing it?

Stephen: It’s very hard for me to separate the two, if I’m being honest. In this instance, it’s all just the story. When I was writing it, I knew exactly how every beat and scene would look on the page (or at least how I’d like it to look), and now that I’m drawing it, I almost know off by heart the entire story and script, so it all just flows onto the page. Again, it’s all just utmost inseparable elements of the story, for me. The script is more a broad outline with fairly tight dialogue than anything. Stage directions.

Steve: I’ve read the first issue of the series, and really enjoyed the central character, Tommy Flynn. Did you find the design process easier for a character you created, and would be writing yourself? Has it been easy translating your ideas to the page, rather than interpreting an established work, as you’ve done before for IDW?

Stephen: Yeah, I think it has. I wouldn’t say easy, but I certainly haven’t had to wrestle it into submission or anything like that. Probably because the main character is a bit of a cypher, in that he acts and reacts pretty much the way I would assuming I were a lot braver and a tad more selfless. Working with the established characters, like say Angel or Spike wasn’t that difficult either though, in terms of working what was written on the page, because I had such bloody good writers whom I trusted implicitly. I’ve been very lucky that way. I’ve never had trouble portraying any given character on the page, the acting and character beats are one of the very few aspects of the drawing that come totally naturally to me.

Steve: With more control over the final product, have you noticed yourself experimenting more with pacing and panel layout?

Stephen: Oh god, yeah. WAY more. I’m very respectful of a given writer’s script when I get it on a work-for-hire job, I’m loathe to mess with what they’ve asked for in their direction. They spent time working that stuff out, so I stick pretty religiously to it when at all possible, even when I might disagree on the shots called for. Or maybe there might be a crazy talking order or something going on that just isn’t feasible without the addition of an extra panel or the use of a slightly different angle. Perhaps I should go more with my own gut, I don’t know. Usually I just want to make the writer happy. If there’s leeway there, I’ll certainly take it. This kind of touches on that article on the Half Past Danger process blog that you mentioned in one of the earlier questions.

On my own book, I’m much freer to go with my initial instincts, storytelling-wise. It’s one of the most satisfying elements of the whole venture, and one of the reasons I actually wanted to attempt it. I think one of the reasons that people seem to be responding to how ‘cinematic’ the storytelling is, is because that’s my natural modus operandi, and my default setting.

Steve: How has the experience of working on a creator-owned project been for you?

Stephen: Absolutely wonderful, so far. Dizzying highs, terrifying lows, creamy centres. It’s as hard as I’ve ever worked, and in even more of a vacuum than before. It’s incredibly scary and daunting, because at the end of the day, for better or for worse, it’s all me on the page; nobody to hide behind. But at the same time, that’s pretty much the most incredible aspect. Where else can a sole creator be responsible for almost every aspect of production? Film? Animation? It just doesn’t happen, and that’s one of the reasons I love comic books so much.

Steve: Do you see yourself doing more creator-owned work in future, or are you looking to alternate with some more work-for-hire projects?

Stephen: In a perfect world, I’d love to do further HPD series every year or two in the Hellboy model, with the odd work-for-hire gig interspersed between. But obviously, that all depends on how the first series is received. I’ll certainly stick around for as long as Chris Ryall and the amazing guys at IDW will have me, I genuinely don’t think that there’s a better home for Half Past Danger.

hpd4 INTERVIEW: Stephen Mooney Goes Creator Owned for Half Past Danger

Steve: Jordie Bellaire will be coming on as colourist as of issue 2, as you’ve mentioned, whilst I believe Declan Shalvey will be drawing a backup strip for each issue. There seems to be quite a growing community of comics creators in Ireland recently. How important is it to have that sense of a creative community? Is it helpful to have people to bounce these ideas off?

Stephen: Oh, it’s invaluable. it really is. Having guys (and gals!) like Dec, Jordie and also Nick Roche, Will Sliney, Stephen Thompson and all the other Irish pros to bounce stuff off and get opinions from is simple indispensable. We’re a very close network. Almost collaborators in a way. I couldn’t do this without their help, I mean that. Otherwise I’d just be floating along in a nebulous void of gibberish. And I wouldn’t even know if it was good gibberish. So yeah, absolutely essential.

Steve: What advice would you give to anybody looking to create their own comics?

Stephen: Get off the pot and do it. Let go of the doubts and the maybes, and just make it happen. Everybody is afraid; everybody wonders if they’re actually good enough. I know I do. The only way to find out is to light that touch-paper, and have at it.

At the end of the day, even if Half Past Danger doesn’t hit that sweet spot critically or commercially, I’ll still have the satisfaction of knowing I tried.

I did my best. Otherwise, as dramatic as it sounds, I’d go all the way to the grave wondering what might have been.


Many thanks to Stephen for his time! If you’d like to find out more, you can read all about the process on his blog, which has been constantly updating with information and thoughts on the creation process for the last few months. You can find his pencilling, inking, colouring, bits of script, all sorts of things on there – I really recommend you have a look. You can also find him on the twitters! Half Past Danger #1 is out in May.

0 Comments on INTERVIEW: Stephen Mooney Goes Creator-Owned for ‘Half Past Danger’ as of 4/2/2013 4:01:00 PM
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3. James Asmus, Tom Fowler and Jordie Bellaire relaunch Quantum and Woody in July

As predicted, Valiant’s teaser from earlier in the week was for a relaunch of their massively popular duo Quantum and Woody, who will be returning in July flanked by James Asmus, Tom Fowler, and Jordie Bellaire. And a goat.

 James Asmus, Tom Fowler and Jordie Bellaire relaunch Quantum and Woody in July

The first issue of the series, which was originally launched all the way back in 1997 when I was still in primary school, will be out on July 10th, with a variety of variant covers from the likes of Fowler, Marcos Martin, Ryan Sook and Andrew Robinson. The Tom Fowler cover will have an interactive ‘talking cover’, with a goat that growls at you. Here’s Martin’s cover:

 James Asmus, Tom Fowler and Jordie Bellaire relaunch Quantum and Woody in July

Talking about the series, Asmus says:

In all of comics, there’s no other book that mixed style and substance quite like Quantum and Woody. I was willing to literally kill someone for the chance to write the relaunch for the new Valiant Universe. I might have. Those first days after I got the call are a blur. But Quantum and Woody isn’t (just) a superhero book – it’s action-comedy, it’s family drama, it’s a boys-meet-goat tale that tugs at the heartstrings.

Valiant also released some preview pages from the first issue, c’est la vie:

QW 001 001 James Asmus, Tom Fowler and Jordie Bellaire relaunch Quantum and Woody in July QW 001 002 James Asmus, Tom Fowler and Jordie Bellaire relaunch Quantum and Woody in July QW 001 003 James Asmus, Tom Fowler and Jordie Bellaire relaunch Quantum and Woody in July

11 Comments on James Asmus, Tom Fowler and Jordie Bellaire relaunch Quantum and Woody in July, last added: 3/27/2013
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4. Chris Sprouse Steps Away from Orson Scott Card’s Superman Story

Artist Chris Sprouse, who would have been drawing controversial writer Orson Scott Card’s contribution to the upcoming Superman anthology Adventures of Superman, has stepped down from the project today. He cites the media furore over the comic as his reason for dropping the project. As a result, the first issue of this digital-first series will feature stories from Jeff Parker/Chris Samnee, Justin Jordan/Riley Rossmo, and Jeff Lemire.

DC have also issued a statement hoping to see Sprouse on a new project soon. Hopefully this will be a Superman one as well, because his Superman is super-aces –

sprouse Chris Sprouse Steps Away from Orson Scott Cards Superman Story

Sprouse’s statement regarding leaving the comic, which became controversial due to Card’s well-known association with anti-gay activism, is as follows:

The media surrounding this story reached the point where it took away from the actual work, and that’s something I wasn’t comfortable with. My relationship with DC Comics remains as strong as ever and I look forward to my next project with them.

DC have responded amicably to the artist’s decision, saying:

We fully support, understand and respect Chris’s decision to step back from his Adventures of Superman assignment. Chris is a hugely talented artist, and we’re excited to work with him on his next DC Comics project. In the meantime, we will re-solicit the story at a later date when a new artist is hired.

The issue was scheduled for April, and had sparked a massive debate over whether Card was the wisest of choices for DC to hire on a Superman story. Some people thought he should have the right to free speech, some people thought maybe DC shouldn’t have hired a real world villain to write a Superman story. That oil-and-water combination of opinions has basically been interminably floating over comic book comment threads, and everybody’s had a really good, friendly time of things.

The real news from all this? It’s that there’s no need for people to boycott issue #1 anymore! Jeff Parker! Chris Samnee! Superman! Wooooooo!!

15 Comments on Chris Sprouse Steps Away from Orson Scott Card’s Superman Story, last added: 3/5/2013
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5. SXSW: Marvel Make 700 Digital Issues Free, Announce Weekly Wolverine Series, Reveal Project Gamma

This is all just breaking!

Marvel are at South By Southwest right now, announcing some new digital projects. The first is ‘Marvel Infinite’ comics, Marvel’s own digital service for comic books. It appears that Marvel will be making 700 of their #1 issues available for free, so new readers can try the first issue before seeing if they want to continue on and buy the rest. Also announced is a new weekly digital Wolverine series called ‘Japan’s Most Wanted’, which will be headed up by Jason Aaron but overseen by a number of different writers. And finally, they’ve revealed that ‘Project Gamma’ will be an adaptive audio addition to their digital comics, putting sound to their digital stories.

gamma SXSW: Marvel Make 700 Digital Issues Free, Announce Weekly Wolverine Series, Reveal Project Gamma

So! Let’s break that down as best as possible. The first news involves Marvel Infinite, which was previously revealed to be the new name for Marvel’s digital comics program. As part of their rebrand, which Todd spoke about a few days ago, Marvel are going to make a series of issues available for free to readers. These will be the first issues of every respective series – Guardians of the Galaxy, for example – offering readers a chance to try the books before they decide to pick up the following issues and start following the books proper.

However! This will be a limited offer from Marvel, and it looks like the books will go back to regular pricing – ranging from $1.99 to $3.99 – so you have until Tuesday.

Wolverine: Japan’s Most Wanted is a digital series, which will be released weekly. The first issue will be out in July, with Jason Aaron overseeing the storyline. Jason Latour will also be writing, with Paco Diaz on art. CBR have an interview with the creative team, and Marvel have offered a solicitation for the series:

Marvel Comics’ latest innovative Infinite Comic is here! Wolverine stars in a weekly adventure from the mind of super star writer Jason Aaron (WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN, THOR) that pits Wolverine against classic villains and a threat unlike any he has ever faced!

The Wolverine series will last 13 weeks, and then be followed by three other stories, which will all also last for 13 weeks each.

And finally, Project Gamma. This will be another addition to Marvel’s digital comics, where readers can add audio to their comics as they read them. The sound will be fully adaptive, with no loops. It’ll move with you, in essence, following you as you follow the story. There’ll be music played which changes depending on location and character. There’s no official date for this yet, but Marvel plan to roll this out later in the year. Rolling Stone seem to know a lot about this, actually. You can also find a video from Marvel here.

Kieron Gillen is already furiously writing an email to Kenickie’s manager as we speak, asking for clearance rights.

12 Comments on SXSW: Marvel Make 700 Digital Issues Free, Announce Weekly Wolverine Series, Reveal Project Gamma, last added: 3/11/2013
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6. Image Announce Dark Skullkickers Dark #1

Frequent collaborators on mysteriously short-lived Image projects, Jim Zub and Edwin Huang have been announced as the creative team for a new issue #1 from Image in June, Dark Skullkickers Dark #1. And that’s not a typo – the extra Dark is there for a reason.

And that reason is because the comic is dark.

darkskullkickers Image Announce Dark Skullkickers Dark #1

This is, of course, the most recent ‘relaunching’ from the Skullkickers team, who have spent the last few months designating each new issue of Skullkickers as a different #1 relaunch. Each time they relaunch, they add a different adjective in front, like ‘Mighty’ or ‘Savage’, poking fun (but also emphasising) the bizarre importance that the comics market puts on relaunches and short-term storytelling.

Next month will probably see Trinity of Sin: Skullkickers announced. In a fun press release (and you know there’s nothing I find more entertaining than a press release, guys!), Zub quotes Image’s PR and Marketing Director Jennifer De Guzman thus:

It’s a pale reflection of the industry’s need to spin rebooted series through endless hype, turning the crazed hamster wheel of entertainment promotion until it’s fallen apart. Good-bye, integrity.

This whole thing – which has generated consistently higher sales for the series – is a pointed criticism aimed at all the comic book websites which value a quick spike in internet traffic over covering important or worthwhile news stories. Here’s the variant cover for the issue!

darkkick Image Announce Dark Skullkickers Dark #1

Where was I? Ah yes, comic sites which are obsessed with printing press releases and quoting verbatim rather than writing something new or useful for readers. Here’s a quote from Zub about the subject:

Fun comic books are a thing of days past. In order to grab a modern audience I’ve dipped into the darkness of my own heart and spilled my blood upon the pages of this sequential masterpiece. Oh yeah, there’s beer in it too.

(The first issue of Dark Skullkickers Dark will be out in June.)

1 Comments on Image Announce Dark Skullkickers Dark #1, last added: 3/11/2013
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7. Titan Unveil ‘Monster Massacre’ Anthology

The Brit Zone continues, sort of, with a new announcement from Titan Comics. This week Titan unveiled a new co-publishing deal between themselves and Atomeka, which will put out ‘Monster Massacre’. This anthology will feature stories all about – you guessed it – monsters. On top of stories from creators like D’Israeli, Ian Edginton, Ron Marz, and Dave Wilkins, the book will also include a Joe Simon/Jack Kirby story, ‘The Greatest Horror of Them All’, taken from Black Cat Mystery.

The cover is far too rude for me to post on The Beat, so instead here’s a page or two of interiors.

mm2 Titan Unveil Monster Massacre Anthology

Put together by writer/artist Dave Elliott, the anthology’s full list of credits are:

Joe Simon/Jack Kirby, Andy Kuhn, Dave Dorman, Mark A Nelson, Ron Marz /Tom Raney, Dave Elliott/Alex Horley,Vito Delsante/Javier Aranda, Dave Wilkins/Dave Elliott, Jerry Paris/Arthur Suydam/Dave Elliott,  Ian Edginton/D’Israeli, Alex Horley and Steve White.

A little bereft of female creators perhaps, but that’s a fine line-up. There are ten stories collected in total, along with two art galleries.

mm1 Titan Unveil Monster Massacre Anthology

The anthology will be released in September, and be day-and-date digital.

6 Comments on Titan Unveil ‘Monster Massacre’ Anthology, last added: 3/14/2013
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8. The First Round of Shocking WTF DC Covers Arrive

Hold onto your monocles, because it’s time for DC comics to make their first attempt at getting you to drop them in shock. The initial round of April ‘shock’ gatefold covers have been released via various locations – CBR, MTV Geek, DC’s Source blog, and so on – and I’ve collected them here. So far we have, I believe, seven officially released covers from DC, as part of their (formerly WTF) April promotion, from comics including Dial H, Batman, Stormwatch and Swamp Thing.

Each one of these is meant to make you spit out your Pimms in surprise – so, how well do they succeed?

wtf6 The First Round of Shocking WTF DC Covers Arrive wtf1 The First Round of Shocking WTF DC Covers Arrive wtf2 The First Round of Shocking WTF DC Covers Arrive wtf3 The First Round of Shocking WTF DC Covers Arrive wtf4 The First Round of Shocking WTF DC Covers Arrive wtf5 The First Round of Shocking WTF DC Covers Arrive

wtf7 The First Round of Shocking WTF DC Covers Arrive

Personally? Well.. I wasn’t shocked (my monocle remains trusty and proud), but I was pleasantly surprised by some of the stories suggested here. Mr Miracle’s return in Earth 2 is probably the best of the reveals so far, but that new Batwing also looks pretty familiar…

11 Comments on The First Round of Shocking WTF DC Covers Arrive, last added: 3/21/2013
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9. Valiant Tease ‘The World’s Worst Superhero Team’

Valiant have released a teaser today, which teases (as teasers are wont to do)  something coming up in July..

valiant Valiant Tease The Worlds Worst Superhero Team

Well, I’m not a betting man, apart from the lottery which I bet on and lose every week – but could this be a new series from Valiant?  Hmmmm…

6 Comments on Valiant Tease ‘The World’s Worst Superhero Team’, last added: 3/22/2013
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10. Will Sliney Profiles The Fearless Defenders: Valkyrie

TweetMarvel seem to be making a proper investment in their female characters in 2013, with a number of new books launching and several of their more prominent female characters getting a boost in profile. Of their many comics featuring female characters, though, one of the most anticipated is Fearless Defenders, in which an all-female team of [...]

3 Comments on Will Sliney Profiles The Fearless Defenders: Valkyrie, last added: 2/6/2013
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11. Titan Comics Share ‘Declassified Military Files’ regarding Chronos Commandos #1

TweetTitan Comics, surging up like a dinosaur from a swarm of sleeping butterflies (that’ll make sense in a second, promise), have sent out some promotional material regarding the July launch of Stuart Jennett’s Chronos Commandos. A four-issue miniseries, the story (completely created by Jennett) sees the aforementioned Commandos fight dinosaurs, as they struggle to save [...]

0 Comments on Titan Comics Share ‘Declassified Military Files’ regarding Chronos Commandos #1 as of 1/30/2013 3:26:00 AM
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12. The Fables Cross Over into The Unwritten in May

TweetOr rather, as seen in this gorgeous Peter Gross/Mark Buckingham-drawn teaser image, the cast of Fables literally drag Tommy Taylor into their world.   Vertigo have released this promo for May’s issue #50 of Mike Carey’s excellent series, kicking off an arc which will see the book head into the world of Bill WIllingham’s Fables, [...]

10 Comments on The Fables Cross Over into The Unwritten in May, last added: 2/6/2013
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13. Mike Carey Writing New Series for Boom!

TweetHey, have you ever wondered if a British writer was going to write a new series for Boom? But have you been unable to find out because everywhere you go is being obtuse?  Don’t worry! Because The Beat’s own Laura Sneddon interviewed Mike Carey for The New Statesman, like, a week ago, and he revealed that [...]

5 Comments on Mike Carey Writing New Series for Boom!, last added: 2/26/2013
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14. Marvel’s Free Comic Book Day Issue is INFINITY by Hickman and Cheung

TweetFree Comic Book Day is coming up, and Marvel have today revealed what their release is going to be – Infinity, by Jonathan Hickman and Jim Cheung. This looks like a prelude to the oft-rumoured cosmic event Marvel will be running in Autumn (why have just one event a year?). However, strangely enough there’s no [...]

1 Comments on Marvel’s Free Comic Book Day Issue is INFINITY by Hickman and Cheung, last added: 2/5/2013
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15. Aw Yeah Comics! Hits Kickstarter Target Within Hours

TweetAfter the cancellation of Superman Family Adventures, the creative team of Art Baltazar & Franco haven’t wasted any time in moving onto their next project. And what a move! After putting a Kickstarter up for their new ‘AW YEAH COMICS!’ series, which was to last six issues, it took only a few hours for them to [...]

15 Comments on Aw Yeah Comics! Hits Kickstarter Target Within Hours, last added: 2/6/2013
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16. DC Cancel Six Titles, Fire More Writers

TweetWhat a day. It’s been revealed that May will see six more DC titles cancelled, being Deathstroke, Hawkman, Team 7, Firestorm, Ravagers, and Sword of Sorcery. Some of the books have been going since the very start of The New 52 initiative…. some of them lasted for a much shorter period of time. Team 7, Ravagers and Sword [...]

18 Comments on DC Cancel Six Titles, Fire More Writers, last added: 2/7/2013
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17. Geoff Johns to Conclude His Green Lantern Run with issue #20

TweetAfter ten years working on the character, and reigniting one of DC’s struggling titles into one of their most popular franchises, Geoff Johns has announced that he will be leaving the world of Green Lantern with the giant-sized issue #20 in May. Johns’ posted a farewell note on DC’ Source blog today, to confirm the [...]

7 Comments on Geoff Johns to Conclude His Green Lantern Run with issue #20, last added: 2/12/2013
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18. ‘Seconds’ from Bryan Lee O’Malley Delayed until 2014

TweetOver on his Tumblr blog, writer/artist/Backstreet Boys maven Bryan Lee O’Malley has explained that, due to a shoulder injury he suffered last year, his next project Seconds will be delayed until next year. His first major project since the conclusion of Scott Pilgrim, not much is known about Seconds at this point. We know that [...]

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19. Clayton Crain Joins Valiant’s Harbinger Wars

TweetValiant are pushing to the next stage of superhero this year, taking their five comics (all of which seem to have been very well reviewed so far, beating statistical probability to a pulp) and experimenting with crossovers and events. The first title they relaunched in 2012, X-O Manowar, is entering an event storyline called Planet [...]

1 Comments on Clayton Crain Joins Valiant’s Harbinger Wars, last added: 2/22/2013
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20. Vertigo Announce Two New ‘Fables’ Books, and an Unwritten Graphic Novel

TweetShould that have been a semicolon instead of a comma in the title? Oh boy, the things I worry about when writing up Mike Carey news. Today! Vertigo have announced a bathful of new books, with an encyclopedia and anthology for Bill Willingham’s Fables coming later this year, followed by a full original graphic novel from the creative [...]

6 Comments on Vertigo Announce Two New ‘Fables’ Books, and an Unwritten Graphic Novel, last added: 2/22/2013
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21. Advance Review: Uncanny Skullkickers #1 tests out The Adjective of Power

TweetUncanny is such a strange word to use to describe a comic, much less a range of different comics which tend to feature characters who aren’t unexpectedly familiar – they’re the X-Men and Avengers, they’ve been around for decades. Which is why it’s nice to see that the Skullkickers creative team of Jim Zub and [...]

1 Comments on Advance Review: Uncanny Skullkickers #1 tests out The Adjective of Power, last added: 2/27/2013
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22. Marvel’s Next Big Thing: Jeph Loeb’s Nova

The conference calls are back at The Beat! Last night Jeph Loeb participated in a phonecall with member of the comics press to discuss the coming launch of a new Nova series – starring a new Nova. The series will be drawn by Ed McGuinness, and here’s Marcos Martin’s cover for issue #1:

nova1 Marvels Next Big Thing: Jeph Loebs Nova

Sam Alexander, the new Nova, has appeared in a few comics over the last year, most notably his role in Marvel’s first-ever ‘Infinite Comics’ story by Mark Waid and Stuart Immonen. He precipitated the Avengers Vs X-Men crossover, and was offered Avengers membership by Thor at the end of the series. But Loeb explained that this is the end-point for Nova’s story, and the new series will rewind back to before Sam even knows what a Nova is. The aim is to pitch Nova as a hero in the vein of Peter Parker – a young, inexperienced, but upbeat figure, who tries to use his new powers for good. He doesn’t even have the helmet yet.

nova2 Marvels Next Big Thing: Jeph Loebs Nova

The first issue will be set in a small town in Arizona, where the character lives, and will ultimately throw him into space to fight giant, overpowering threats far beyond his abilities – villains who will really test the character. Loeb noted the popularity of the Sam Alexander character in Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon series, saying that the journey for the comic character will ultimately lead him towards the same personality and confidence of his animated counterpart.

When I go to conventions now, the amount of young kids who talk about how they love the show. When I ask them who their favourite characters are, it always comes out as Spider-Man is their favourite, and Nova second.

I asked him about if this has made him consider the title in terms of an all-ages property:

I don’t know that it was as much in my mind as the fact we we were telling a story about a 15 to 16 year-old kid. Part of the Nova story from the beginning, is that he was a very fun character – Rich Rider loved being Nova. I don’t think we’re necessarily writing for an all-ages audience… we’re writing for the Marvel audience.

nova3 Marvels Next Big Thing: Jeph Loebs Nova

From Arizona, Nova will then be moving on to outer space, where he’ll come into contact with Brian Michael Bendis‘ Guardians of the Galaxy – Loeb says no plans for the Annihilators as yet, but they may well show up later – and this will be apparently a very important part of Marvel over the next few months. We’ve seen that Guardians of the Galaxy will interact with Iron Man, and that All-New X-Men’s story will have some kind of ramification for the team. This is all a deliberate way of meshing the Universe together, Loeb says – when attempting to establish a character like Nova, it’s important that they’re visible. We’ll likely be seeing the character show up in a variety of books over the next few months.

nova4 Marvels Next Big Thing: Jeph Loebs Nova

No plans yet for any more Infinite Comics ventures, but Loeb was very open to the idea.

Finally, in terms of established Nova concepts returning? Loeb was very careful not to give too much away, although there will be a new, rebuilt Nova corps (of a kind, anyway) coming back into the book eventually, as Sam gets used to his powers, the legacy he’s inheriting from Rich Rider, and the importance of the Nova Corps in the Universe. At all times, Loeb spoke glowingly of Rich Rider as a character, and how the shadow of the character will loom over Sam at all times, driving him to be a better Nova.

Nova #1 will be released by Marvel in February, from the creative team of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness.

15 Comments on Marvel’s Next Big Thing: Jeph Loeb’s Nova, last added: 12/17/2012
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23. INTERVIEW: Cullen Bunn Pitches Fearless Defenders

When the news was announced that Cullen Bunn would be writing Fearless Defenders for Marvel next year, the world breathed a sigh of relief. It’s no secret that this is a project many have been waiting to happen ever since he first hinted at it earlier this year, during his ‘The Fearless’ miniseries starring Valkyrie. Fearless Defenders returns to the character, this time asking her to assemble a team of women in order to protect the Marvel Universe from imminent danger. Artist Will Sliney will be drawing the series, which will begin in February. Wikipedia are already very excited about the book!

As am I. I couldn’t be more onboard for this book if Pixie and Hepzibah were on it (but think about it, Cullen?), so I immediately asked if he’d be interested in talking to me about it. He kindly agreed, and we talked about how the series came to be – specifically, how the pitching process began, how it developed, and how the book went from a tease at the end of The Fearless through to a new ongoing series.

cb1 INTERVIEW: Cullen Bunn Pitches Fearless Defenders

Steve: When did you first pitch Fearless Defenders? Has it been a long process?

Cullen Bunn: I remember the moment the idea for this team first dawned on me pretty clearly. I was working on the series FEAR ITSELF: THE FEARLESS and was brainstorming how to wrap the final issue. There were these eight magical, evil hammers floating around the Marvel Universe, and I wanted to get rid of them. So, I thought it might be interesting to have the Valkyrior—the Shield Maidens of Asgard—take the weapons and scatter into the universe. That left the Marvel Universe without Valkyrior, and I wanted Valkyrie to have a new sense of purpose.

So I thought it might be cool to have her tasked with gathering a new team of Shield Maidens. I also thought it might be interesting if these women had to be chosen from Midgard—from a group that might include already established characters.

I rushed to my computer and fired off an e-mail to my co-writers and the editorial team, just to see if they liked that direction. At the end of the e-mail, I wrote something along the lines of, “Be warned. I’m working up a proposal for this series right now!”

And I put together a short proposal that I sent to my editors at the same time I sent in the script to the final issue of THE FEARLESS.

It took a few months after the finale of THE FEARLESS for the series to get the go ahead. Remember, this was during the time that Marvel NOW was being planned, and I’m guessing there was a lot of discussion in regards to where this book would fit. Editorial teams changed a bit and the book went through a number of changes from my initial 1-page proposal.

Steve: The book was first hinted for readers in the final issue of Fear Itself: The Fearless, in which it was presented as an option to Valkyrie. Was this always a beat you wanted to include in the story? How early on did you first think of the premise, and how much did it inform the story in The Fearless?

Cullen: That idea for the formation of the new team of Valkyrior hit me around the time I was writing issue 6 or 7, and from that point on, I really couldn’t wait to reach that final issue and that teaser image. So… yeah, it helped shape where the second half of that series went.

cb2 INTERVIEW: Cullen Bunn Pitches Fearless Defenders

Steve: When you pitch an idea like this, do you come with a firm idea of the book and where it’ll head and how it operates, or a more general premise, which can be altered? Do you try to firmly define the book, or do you leave room for editors to manoeuvre around the premise?

Cullen: My initial proposal was only one page. I knew, though, that I wanted a good part of the book to be about how Valkyrie would choose the members of the team. That was the note that I really wanted to stick to. I think that building the team relatively slowly gives every character a chance to find a place and voice in the group and in the book as a whole. Beyond that, the proposal definitely had room for editorial input. The collaborative nature of comic books is something that I enjoy, and I love seeing where new ideas can take a book. Sometimes, some of the suggestions I’ve been given have really challenged me, but I think it takes the series in some unexpected directions.

Steve: This has clearly been a book you’re passionate about creating – what was it about the series which spoke so strongly to you?

Cullen: I thought the concept was interesting and would give me a chance to showcase some characters who rarely get the spotlight and almost never get to work together. And I liked the way this could develop these characters. Also, I just thought this was an outlet for some really crazy, action-packed, surprising stories.

That’s all it took for me to be hooked.

Steve: How has your pitch developed since the original idea?

Cullen: I mentioned that the book went through more than one editorial team. Every time a change occurred, the book changed a little. It’s funny, though, because in many ways it came full circle. The premise moved away from what I originally had in mind, then circled back to something that was very close to my original pitch.

The biggest development is something that occurred because of the timing of the book. Because it took a while for the series to be approved, I decided that Valkyrie was procrastinating when it came to the task of choosing allies. She simply didn’t see anyone worthy of becoming a Shield Maiden. This, I think, paints Valkyrie in a much more interesting light, and I love the idea of exploring her definitions (right and wrong) of heroism.

cb3 INTERVIEW: Cullen Bunn Pitches Fearless Defenders

Steve: What do you think is the essence of a good pitch? Do you follow the idea of boiling down the premise to a five-word ‘elevator pitch’?

Cullen: I think a good pitch needs to tell the editor what the story is about, who the characters are, how they will potentially grow, and who the audience will be… as succinctly as humanly possible.

My proposals typically have a one-sentence elevator pitch, a one paragraph expansion on that pitch, a breakdown of characters, and a three-act breakdown of the story (or first arc).

Steve: Did you write speculative issues, to show Marvel how the series would work in terms of tone? What physical work, besides a premise or synopsis, do you do to prepare for pitching a book?

Cullen: It’s different for every project, but I don’t often write a speculative issue. I’ve only been asked to do something like that once—for my first comic book series THE DAMNED (from Oni Press). Since I had no real prior experience, they asked me to write a couple of different scenes, just to make sure I could do the work.

Most of my proposals these days are less than two pages. That should be enough to interest the editor. If they’re interested enough, they’ll ask for more. That may, I guess, include a speculative script… but that’s not often the case for me.

Steve: What do you think ultimately sold the pitch to Marvel, and gave you the chance to create the series?

Cullen: I think they liked the basic premise of the series—Valkyrie building a new team of Shield Maidens from the women of Earth. It’s a clean, simple reason for a new super team to form. I think the fact that the cast is all women—an area that hasn’t been explored often and could draw some attention to the book—only helped.

Or maybe they just got tired of all my e-mails about the book.

Either way, I’m glad they took a chance on this. This is a book that is different from every other book on the shelf. And I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.


Many thanks to Cullen for taking the time to speak to me! I imagine I’ll be pestering him again in the future to chat about Dani Moonstar’s lovelife and if Misty Knight could beat up Iron Fist. He is also still writing The Sixth Gun for Oni Press, and just today he launched a competition open to anybody who pre-orders either of the titles. You can find out more at his website!

6 Comments on INTERVIEW: Cullen Bunn Pitches Fearless Defenders, last added: 1/7/2013
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24. Marvel Starts Releasing 50th Anniversary X-Men Covers

Here are a few of my favourite things…. Marvel, aware that I demand delight at least once a month, have started releasing ‘X-Men 50th Anniversary’ variant covers for several of their books. The X-Men have – yes – been around for 50 years as of 2013, with Stan Lee’s original vision now old enough to start having a midlife crisis and buy a new car. X-Men fans: prepare to explode in glee!

First up is Chris Bachalo reuniting with Generation X (gleee!!) for the cover to All-New X-Men #6:

502 Marvel Starts Releasing 50th Anniversary X Men Covers

Skin! Synch! Oh, the memories. Shame Husk isn’t wearing her glasses, but WOW how much does this remind that Banshee was The Greatest? Right? Faith and begorrah, come back soon!

The second released cover is Clay Mann’s variant for X-Factor #250, which features every member of the team there has ever been. Founders Jean and Cyclops rub shoulders with Rusty, Skids and Boom Boom (gleeee!!), while newcomers like Monet and Layla Miller somehow manage to cram themselves in there too.

501 Marvel Starts Releasing 50th Anniversary X Men Covers


Who will appear next? I am literally stamping my feet with anticipation. Gleee!!

8 Comments on Marvel Starts Releasing 50th Anniversary X-Men Covers, last added: 12/18/2012
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25. Warren Ellis returns to Comics for ‘Scatterlands’ with Jason Howard

TweetWell, he’s not been away really. He did a one page story with the brilliant Tula Lotay for Thought Bubble’s 2012 anthology, for one thing. But he certainly hasn’t had a major project in quite a while, that’s for sure — and now his novel The Gun Machine is completed, it looks like Warren Ellis [...]

4 Comments on Warren Ellis returns to Comics for ‘Scatterlands’ with Jason Howard, last added: 1/23/2013
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