Monday, July 28, 2014

All the News That Excited Me From San Diego Comic Con

So, like all comic fans, I spent this weekend waiting on bated breath for announcements from Geek Mardi Gras, better known as San Diego Comic Con. And, like most comic fans, I wasn't able to attend. So I relied on sources from around the internet to give me all sorts of cool announcements. And if you aren't one of those people who kept refreshing their browser all weekend, well, here are a handful of announcements that got me excited.

-Ok, I'm going to get one of the biggest reveals out of the way first. The first official image of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman from Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice. At first blush, I wasn't sure if I was impressed. The muted color palette isn't something I'm a big fan of, and is something that I wasn't in love with when it came to Superman's costume in Man of Steel. But since the whole image seems muted and sepia toned, I moved past that and looked at the costume and the image itself, and she looks wonderful (pun intended). She's regal and tough, but not masculine, which is exactly how I picture Wonder Woman. I can't say anything beyond that about the movie, but at this point, my excitement is increasing for DC's big universe builder.

- And while on the subject of DC on film, the announcement that Ra's al Ghul will be the big bad for season three of Arrow is big news for me. Ra's is a villain with a lot of possibility for interpretation, and the producers of Arrow have said they don't want to compete with the vision from Batman Begins, so they're going at him from another angle. Arrow has been consistently enjoyable since the beginning of the series, and has been slowly building a mythology, with the League of Assassins a large part of that. That slow build will hopefully pay off with Ra's making an appearance. Oh, and Brandon Routh appearing as Ray Palmer, better known as the Atom, is exciting too. From appearances in other genre shows like Chuck, it's clear Routh is a stronger actor than Superman Returns showed, and I think he'll be a great addition to the world of Arrow.

- Marvel has been making a lot of announcements the past few weeks that, in a bygone era, would have been Comic Con announcements, things like the new female Thor and Falcon becoming Captain America. And while the announcement of a new series that brings the characters from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. into the Marvel Universe isn't on par, PR-wise, with that one, the series being written by modern comics legend Mark Waid, whose Daredevil is still in my top three current Marvel titles, and drawn by a big name artist doing series of done-in-one-issue storieis pretty darn exciting. I think I've made it clear in the past how much I like one off stories, both as a fan and as someone who likes being able to hand any issue of a series to a customer and say, "Here, try this," so if this has the same feel as Warren Ellis's similarly formatted short run on Secret Avengers, than I'm in for it.

- Now, onto another Marvel announcement that I've been mulling over since it came out. As a Star Wars fan, I've been waiting to see what Marvel is going to do now that they have the comics license. And with the announcement of three Star Wars series, it's pretty sweet; Jason Aaron and John Cassaday on Star Wars (set in between episodes 4 & 5), a Darth Vader series from Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca, and a Princess Leia mini-series from Mark Waid and Terry Dodson. While I'm a little disappointed and not surprised that all these books are clustered around the classic trilogy (disappointed because there's a ton of other times to play with that won't impinge on the new trilogy, not surprised because this is the most profitable era for Star Wars publishing), I can't argue with the creators. I've already talked about Mark Waid, and Jason Aaron is a writer I've written about plenty. It's the Vader series that has me most curious. Larroca drew some great space stories during his tenure on the X-Men books, and drew plenty of high tech and armor during his time on Invincible Iron Man, so I think he's a good fit. But it's Kieron Gillen that has me very excited. A writer who does great character work as well as high concept sci-fi (see his short lived S.W.O.R.D. series), he was one of Marvels' stable of writers I thought would best fit Star Wars, so I'm pleased to see that he's getting a spot right out of the gate.

- On a note that is tangentially comic related, the Star Wars book panel announced a novel based on an unproduced Star Wars: The Clone Wars script featuring two characters who had a very heavy presence in Star Wars comics. Asajj Ventress was created for the initial Clone Wars short cartoons and was defined during Dark Horse's Clone Wars comics. Quinaln Vos was created by John Ostrander for his run on the prequel set comics, and is my favorite EU comics character (and second favorite EU character of all, right behind Grand Admiral Thrawn). These are two characters of mixed morality who are haunted by their past. They're an interesting pairing that has minimal interactions in their past (and none in the new official canon). I'm happy that these two great characters aren't being forgotten with the focus on the new future.

- DC didn't make many announcements this year, instead focusing on creators expounding on the upcoming work we've already heard about. There was one really cool bit of art shown, the map of the Multiverse devised by Grant Morrison for his Multiversity series (track it down somewhere where you can get better resolution than I can provide). And after I recently talked about Batman '66, I would have had to mention the digital publication of an adaptation of a lost episode, even if it wasn't written by legend in the annals of the bookstore, the comic shop, the Hollywood studio, and the courtroom, Harlan Ellison, and feature the first '66 appearance of my second favorite (pun not intended this time, but willingly accepted) Bat villain, Two-Face.

-Finally,  Image Comics and Dark Horse Comics announced twelve new series each, and there are some from both companies that I'm looking forward to, but two really jumped out at me. As a big fan of the B.P.R.D. and the whole Hellboy universe, it's cool to see the creators that Mike Mignola has brought to work on those books do other work, and two of these series feature that talent. John Arcudi, regular co-writer on B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth, and James Harren, who has worked on his share of arcs on that title, give us Rumble from Image, featuring a scarecrow barbarian. And Tyler Crook, previous regular artist on B.P.R.D. and who drew the excellent Bad Blood mini-series from Dark Horse earlier this year, returns to that publisher, this time teaming with Sixth Gun and Helheim writer Cullen Bunn for Harrow County, a spooky tale of a girl with strange powers in a haunted wood and a town that seems to want her dead. I like Bunn's superhero work for Marvel, but when he's doing his creator owned horror books he dazzles, and Crook is the perfect artist for something like this.

And as one final, non-Comic Con related note, friend of the blog Michael Calia, one of the guys at the Shut Up Kids podcast (celebrating fifty episodes this week), who writes for the Wall Street Journal, wrote a piece for their Speakeasy blog about what to do if you're a first time shopper in a comic shop, and yours truly is quoted, so go check that out too!

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