The Three Phases of Marvel’s Adam Warlock: Part One

Saturday, March 28th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

250px-Marv_premiere_01I think that my first encounter with Adam Warlock was in The Power of Warlock #2. Even at 11 or 12, I gravitated towards the lonely, brooding heroes of the Marvel universe, like Daimon Hellstrom and Doctor Strange, so I was hooked on my first look at Warlock. Like Hellstrom and Strange, Adam Warlock walked around with a heavy touch of destiny and Warlock #2 was a pretty brain-expanding issue. I read a lot of Adam Warlock since then.

In my head, I break down Adam Warlock’s history into three periods: (1) pre-Jim Starlin, which covers from his “birth” to the cancellation of his series in 1973, (2) the Starlin era, covering from 1975 until Warlock’s death in 1977 and (3) the post-Starlin era (which I name with wild inappropriateness, because Starlin still had a big hand in it), which basically covers Warlock’s resurrection onwards.

In this first post, I want to talk about the first period, the pre-Starlin Adam Warlock. I have always felt that this run of comics is a bit like a tiny restaurant serving great food that no one knows about but me.

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Adapting Nostalgia to Be More Awesome (And How I Try to Contain my IDW Anger While Remaining Spoiler Free. Mostly)

Friday, March 20th, 2015 | Posted by mariebilodeau

Reboots are awesome. There you go. I’ve said it. Call blasphemy all you want, but I’m a fan of (some) adaptations, and 80s cartoons are high on my list of “Yes, please adapt.” It’s not just that modern companies are making the storylines better; they’re quite frankly making some of them make sense. Not in all cases, but in a heck of a lot of them.

I’m a child of the 80s. I grew up on these cartoons, and enjoyed their adaptations. I followed their various incarnations, too, but now is a golden age for storylines, with plenty flourishing.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I would not pause to admire these turtles' beauty. I would pause to stare at them in confusion.

Knee pads are a ninja’s BFF.

I’ve always been a fan of witty repartee, martial arts and turtles. Combine all three and you’ve sold me. Easily.

TMNT started as a rather dark comic book, grew into a 10-year long cartoon show in the 80s, then a 6-year run starting in 2003. Nickelodeon bought the rights in 2012, and BOOM, started everything up again.

IDW has two new comics lines, one based on the new cartoon show and one more based on the old comics (and much darker. I love it). I struck that out because they just repeated one of my least favorite storylines ever (spoiler link). No conclusion on that yet, so I’m no longer including it (take that, IDW!) Let’s also ignore anything live action, because there is absolutely no winning there.

Anyway, back to the new cartoon. What makes the new turtles unique? Their personalities are more defined.

Michelangelo, the party one, is now more funny than annoying. Donatello gets more chances to shine (he’s my fave). Leonardo, the poor always responsible lead turtle, is now a geek and gets excited about Space Heroes (a riff off Star Trek: The Animated Series). Raphael is still angry and one of the most loyal and, although he pretends to be a hard-ass, he’s one of the more sensitive.

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Future Treasures: Thor Volume 1: Goddess of Thunder by Jason Aaronand and Russell Dauterman

Monday, March 16th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Thor Volume 1 Goddess of Thunder-smallWhen I was a kid monumental events in comics, like the death of Gwen Stacey or the defeat of Thanos, were discussed in excited whispers on the playground. Not so these days. When Thor, the God of Thunder, became a woman, Whoopi Goldberg made an exclusive announcement live on The View on July 15th, 2014. Times sure have changed.

Now, Thor didn’t actually change sex, or anything like that. Thor is still, well, Thor. But he’s the God of Thunder because — as has been well established in Journey into Mystery #83 and the awesome party scene in the upcoming Avengers 2 – he is worthy to wield the mystical hammer Mjolnir. Over the 52-year history of Marvel’s Thor, other individuals have also proven worthy, including the alien Beta Ray Bill, Captain America, Odin, and even Conan the Barbarian and Superman. Last year Marvel revealed a dramatic twist in the saga of Thor, when he became unworthy to lift the hammer for the first time, and the mantle of Thunder God was taken up by an unknown woman who lifts Mjolnir in Thor’s place. The first six issues of the new Thor comic will be collected this May. As predicted, the shift has drawn a whole new audience — including my daughter, who confesses it’s her new favorite comic.

Mjolnir lies on the moon, unable to be lifted! Something dark has befallen the God of Thunder, leaving him unworthy for the first time ever! But when Frost Giants invade Earth, the hammer will be lifted — and a mysterious woman will be transformed into an all-new version of the mighty Thor! Who is this new Goddess of Thunder? Not even Odin knows… but she may be Earth’s only hope against the Frost Giants! Get ready for a Thor like you’ve never seen before, as this all-new heroine takes Midgard by storm! Plus: the Odinson clearly doesn’t like that someone else is holding his hammer… it’s Thor vs. Thor! And Odin, desperate to see Mjolnir returned, will call on some very dangerous, very unexpected allies. It’s a bold new chapter in the storied history of Thor!

Thor Volume 1: Goddess of Thunder was written by Jason Aaronand and illustrated by Russell Dauterman, and will be published by Marvel Comics on May 26, 2015. It is 136 pages in hardcover, priced at $24.99. Digital editions are available through Marvel’s online subscription service.

Miss Fury: Sensational Sundays 1941-1944

Monday, March 16th, 2015 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

Miss Fury: Sensational Sundays 1941-1944In 1941 comics artist June Tarpé Mills started a new Sunday adventure strip: Miss Fury. It would run until 1952, telling the wild and beautifully-drawn saga of a socialite who donned a magical black cat-suit to fight Nazis and criminals. In 2011 IDW’s Library of American Comics imprint published a selection of Miss Fury strips from 1944 through 1949, edited and with an introduction by comics historian Trina Robbins. Last year Robbins and IDW published a second volume, collecting the series from the start up to the beginning of the earlier collection, again featuring an introduction about Mills and her strip, and as well a brief selection of some of Mills’ earlier work. I had a chance to read the recently-published second collection, and was tremendously impressed.

To start with what is most immediately obvious: the book’s a feast for the eyes. Not only is Mills’ art spectacular, but the reproduction brings out the richness of the linework and often-stunning colours. Designed by Lorraine Turner, the book is quite beautiful. The paper’s obviously whiter and brighter than newsprint, but the colours still feel appropriate, bright and yet often detailed.

Certainly Mills’ art deserves good treatment. Her work is beautiful, with a sumptuous eye for costume and detail, as well as crisp action. The story is fast-paced pulp adventure at full blast — shadowed New York cityscapes and Brazilian jungles, fist-fights and gun-battles and aerial dogfights, violence and a surprising amount of sex and blood. It’s wildly entertaining, with characters breathtakingly broad and unlikely, easily navigating the line where the ridiculous and the awesome meet.

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Developing a Voice, Fine Tuning Scripts, and Getting Neurotic About Hair Color: An Interview with Marvel Comics Assistant Editor Xander Jarowey

Saturday, March 14th, 2015 | Posted by Derek Kunsken


Did someone say “press gang”?

life after wolverineI recently interviewed Marvel Comics Associate Editor Jake Thomas, and now I’m having an e-conversation with Xander Jarowey. Xander is the Assistant Editor on All-New X-Men, Amazing X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy and Legendary Star-Lord (all under Editor Mike Marts), Nightcrawler, X-Force and Magneto (under Editor Daniel Ketchum), and All-New X-Factor and Guardians Team-Up (for Editor Katie Kubert). He’s recently become the editor on Amazing X-Men and has also edited the Death of Wolverine: Life After Logan, and is the Editor of the upcoming X-Tinction Agenda.

Thanks for taking the time for the interview, Xander. How long have you been with Marvel and how did you get in? Internship? Job application? Press gang?

Thanks for having me! My path to Marvel was circuitous. I moved to New York to work in theatrical management. I worked a few internships and had a ton of fun, but I came to a point where I wasn’t 100% sure that I wanted to stay in the industry. I’m a huge comics fan and Marvel has always had a special place in my heart. Maybe I should blame it on the X-Men cartoon?

I looked at the Marvel site on a whim and saw an editorial assistant job. It sounded a lot like what I’d been doing in theatre. I got an interview, but lost the job to Devin Lewis (who is now the assistant editor for Nick Lowe on Spider-Man). He doesn’t know it yet, but payback is coming one day. Marvel got in touch with me after the interview and asked if I’d be interested in interviewing for an assistant editor position. I had to hold in my fanboy squeal. They gave me a script and a day to give them notes. After that I went through a series of interviews and somehow hoodwinked them all into hiring me. It’s been a fantastic year and a half ago since then.

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What to Read Next?

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 | Posted by Elizabeth Cady

Ocean_at_the_End_of_the_Lane_US_CoverHow do you choose what to read next?

That’s not a rhetorical question. I’m genuinely curious, for a number of reasons.

I tend to have a set list of authors whose work I will pre-order the instant I hear about it. Neil Gaiman, Sarah MacLean, Kate Elliot. I have authors I forget about for a few years and then dive in to read everything they’ve put out in the meantime (Stephen Brust tops that list: I can’t quit Vlad Taltos). I have graphic novel series I follow closely (Pretty Deadly, Ody-C, Rat Queens) and others I dabble in when the mood strikes.

Pretty_Deadly-01I am deeply blessed to have friends who throw books at me, as well. One of my oldest and dearest friends recently sent me an entire box full of books, including Trudy Canavan’s Traitor Spy trilogy; another hounded me until I read Cold Magic (thank goodness!).

But it’s easy to find oneself in a reading rut. Which is a shame, given the wealth of material out there. Self-publishing and digital publishing can make it easier to be published, but that isn’t always a good thing. Finding quality work in those muddy waters is its own trick. So how do you find something new?

Sites like our own here are helpful. I discovered Saladin Ahmed because of a review here, and that has been an absolute delight. (And if I’m dropping names and titles left and right, it’s because I’m returning the favor.) But even comprehensive sites can’t cover everything.

So how do you find new stuff to read? And how do you find new stuff to read when you realize you’ve gotten in a rut? When you discover that everything you’ve read in the last year is, say, fantasy by white women, or all space sci-fi? What are your favorite resources, and what was your favorite surprise find lately?

Representations of the Amazon in Poul Anderson’s Virgin Planet and in DC’s Wonder Woman

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 | Posted by Gabe Dybing

Legolas_portrait_-_EmpireMagBut first, I’d like to ask readers a very important question:

Do Tolkien’s Elves have pointy ears?

This came up after my last post, in which I wondered why Anderson and Tolkien (and many other fantasy writers) agree that elves are tall and have pointy ears. After reading this, Frederic S. Durbin contacted me to say,

Does Tolkien ever say that the elves have pointed ears? To my knowledge, he never does. Please correct me if I’m wrong! This is a bone I had to pick a few years back, when some writer somewhere described hobbits as having “hairy toes and pointed ears.” I think this misconception about Tolkien’s elves and hobbits has come from artwork. Artists need to have a way of making magical races look different from humans, so they go for the ears. We need Spock to look different from humans in a cheap and easily-reproducible way from day to day in the studio, so we give him pointed ears. People have been seeing illustrations of pointy-eared elves and hobbits for so long that they’ve begun to believe Tolkien described them that way. I don’t think it’s true. (Again, I’m willing to stand corrected if someone shows me a passage!)

So there you have it, folks! Please help! Is there a passage anywhere in Tolkien’s writings that suggest that Elves (or even Hobbits) have pointy ears?

And now let’s turn our attention to Poul Anderson’s Virgin Planet.

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Get in the Dungeon with Munchkin #1

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Munchkin 1 comic-smallEarlier this year Boom! Box comics, publishers of Lumberjanes and Mouse Guard, released Munchkin #1, the first issue of a new ongoing series based on Munchkin.

What the heck is Munchkin, you ask?

Munchkin is one of the most popular fantasy games on the market. Designed by Steve Jackson (creator of Ogre, Melee, and Car Wars), it’s a card game that pokes fun at role playing, and especially gamers who play to win at any cost. In his review last year, Bob Byrne called it “the funnest (Most fun? More fun than any other?) game I play.” Since its release in 2001 Munchkin has become a true phenomenon, winning the 2001 Origins Award for Best Traditional Card Game, and accounting for more than 70% Steve Jackson Games sales for much of the past decade. It has been followed by dozens and dozens of expansions, accessories, and spinoffs, including Munchkin Quest, Star Munchkin, Super Munchkin, Munchkin Cthulhu, The Good, The Bad, And The Munchkin, and Munchkin Conan.

As you’d probably expect if you’ve played the game, the comic adaption is clever, highly irreverent, chaotic, frequently very silly, and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. The art is universally excellent, and the scripts… well, the scripts are downright goofy. I expected a character-based narrative, something akin to the excellent Skullkickers, but what I got was closer to Bongo’s Simpson comics — an anthology that goes for strictly laughs, rather than attempting to tell any kind of cohesive story.

There are four tales within: “What is a Munckin?”, a 3-page introductory strip which gets the concept across pretty well; “Humans Got No Class,” in which a wizard, dwarf and ranger deep in a dungeon attempt to figure out what a long-haired slacker is doing in their midst; “Ready for Anything,” in which an experienced Munchkin shows a newbie the ropes (with predictable results), and a 1-page gag by John Kovalic. The humor is a little uneven, but fortunately you don’t have to have played the game to appreciate most of it. I definitely look forward to future issues.

Munchkin #1 was written by Tom Siddell, Jim Zub, and John Kovalic, and illustrated by Mike Holmes, Rian Sygh, and John Kovalic. It was published by Boom! Box comics in January 2015. It is 24 pages, priced at $3.99; each issue contains a unique card usable in the game. The cover is by Ian McGinty. For more details, see the Boom! Box website. Check out all our recent comic coverage here.

Bernie Mireault: The Forgotten Herald of the Modern

Monday, March 2nd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Bernie MireaultOver the weekend, Mark Shainblum pointed me towards columnist Timothy Callahan’s article in Comic Book Resources discussing the work of artist Bernie Mireault. It’s been around for a while, but I’d managed to miss it, so I appreciated the link. Here’s a snippet:

If we look around the axis of American superhero comics, at the groundbreaking Modern work produced in the mid-1980s, it’s the same four or five names that keep popping up in our conversations: Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Rick Veitch, Howard Chaykin, maybe Matt Wagner. These were the creators who changed the landscape of American superhero comics, for better or worse. They heralded the Modern.

Yet there’s one creator who doesn’t get mentioned nearly as often. A writer/artist who was combining the high Romanticism of the fantastic with the mundane life on the street as well as any of the others. A comic book creator whose visual style has rarely been duplicated… I’m talking, of course, about Bernie Mireault.

Mireault (rhymes with “Zero”) has been working continuously in the comic book industry for the past 24 years, but he gets almost none of the acclaim given to his peers… in the mid-to-late 1980s and early 1990s, Mireault produced or helped produce three essential texts of the Modern era, and it’s time those three books were given their due.

I first met Bernie in 1985, when he crashed at my home in Ottawa, Canada, while attending a local comic convention. I was impressed with him immediately — especially his groundbreaking work on the hilarious Mackenzie Queen for Matrix Comics. He’s extrememly gifted as a comedic artist, and his character design is second to none — as you can see from his marvelous panel illustrating “The Loiterer in the Lobby” by Michael Kaufmann and Mark McLaughlin for Black Gate 4 (above). I hired Bernie as an illustrator when I launched Black Gate, and he graced virtually every issue of the print magazine. I profiled him back in 2009, and Matthew David Surridge wrote a detailed review of his excellent comic The Jam last December. His other work includes Grendel (with Matt Wagner), The Blair Witch Chronicles, and Dr. Robot.

Read the complete CBR article here.

High Space Opera: Jim Starlin’s Metamorphosis Odyssey and Dreadstar

Monday, March 2nd, 2015 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

Marvel Graphic Novel #3: DreadstarRecently, Black Gate overlord John O’Neill reported the news that Jim Starlin’s comic-book creation Dreadstar was in development as a TV series. Starlin will be a writer and executive producer of the new show, which is to be developed for television by Universal Cable Productions and Benderspink. No network was announced for the series, but io9 observed that Universal’s behind a number of shows for Syfy, where a Dreadstar show would presumably fit nicely.

As it happens, I was a fan of Dreadstar when it was being published back in the late 80s. It had been years since I’d looked at an issue, though, so the news of the TV deal prompted me to dig out the old comics and go through them again. I ended up with mixed feelings. For me, at least, the golden age of Dreadstar was about twelve. But if I can see problems with the book more clearly now, I can also see what works. And I can see how an ongoing TV show makes a certain amount of sense.

To explain that I need to start by going through the book’s publishing history. This gets complicated. Before Dreadstar there was The Metamorphosis Odyssey, a painted serial that ran for the first nine issues of Marvel’s Epic Illustrated. Epic was an anthology of creator-owned work somewhat along the lines of Heavy Metal magazine. By the time Starlin’s serial ended, late in 1981, he’d also published a related story through Eclipse Comics, a painted story called The Price. (Originally in black-and-white, it would later be reprinted by Marvel in colour. The Metamorphosis Odyssey, meanwhile, was in black-and-white for its first few chapters, then switched to colour as it went on.) The next chapter of the story came in Marvel’s third “graphic novel” — a line of books which somewhat resembled softcover European graphic albums — called, simply, Dreadstar.

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