2013 kicked off the year with a good range of titles for your reading enjoyment.
We first tackle Batman Inc #6, as Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham keep the pace going in Batman’s quest to stop Talia’s reign with Leviathan. Some great character dynamics with Bruce and Talia and a shocking death at the end that upped the ante. Burnham’s pencils are the real story, bringing every emotion to life as this war rages on.
We then say see you later to American Vampire with issue #34′s look into the past and future. Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque breathed new life into the vampire genre for the last 3 years and while the hiatus is not something we like to hear, it’s only going to mean better stories when the creative team is ready to move forward with this mythology.
Lastly, the pick honors go to Bendis and Immonen making All New X-Men a treat with issue #5. We’re really seeing a resurgence of X-Men in the last few years and this keeps the trend going. One could have easily balked at bringing the original five to the current timeline and call it a fad, but it’s brought some excellent character interactions and dialogue that Bendis is known for. Immonen is the icing on the cake with his slick pencils, though you have to wonder how long he can keep it up with this book seemingly coming out weekly. It’s a ride I’m enjoying nonetheless.
Please listen to the special announcement at the beginning of this show to get info on how you can help out with Hurricane Sandy victims…
We’re closing out the last arc soon of this magnificent series before it goes on hiatus. Snyder and Albuquerque once again keep building things up to a boiling point that could see some significant changes to the lives of Pearl and Henry. You can trade wait at this point, but really – don’t you want to a piece of the action now?
Marvel’s events have had a history lately of having their tie-ins being of better quality than the event itself. Look no further than Wolverine and the X-Men #10, as Jason Aaron once again turns in a clinic of a script. It speaks volumes that he’s able to juggle the AvX event along with other sub-plots that will carry this book forward after the event is done. Chris Bachalo once again brings his dynamic art to the fold to showcase some great layouts.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a podcast without a Scott Snyder sighting. With Batman #9, he and Greg Capullo bring us close to the end of the Night of the Owls saga with medieval armor, animatronic dinosaurs, and tons of Talons. Rafael Albuquerque gets to shine in the Jarvis Pennyworth back-up that, while it seems like they’re planning a retcon here by not having Alfred there in the beginning, explores more of the great history of Gotham City.
If you’re not reading Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s current run on Batman, just stop what you’re doing and go buy the issues. I don’t care if you’re on the toilet right now. Just go. You’ll be fine.
But seriously, what Snyder once did for Detective Comics, he’s doing it again with Batman, as he adds more history to a legacy that already has a well-built legacy over its 70+ year existence. Yesterday though, DC announced new back-up stories to the Batman book that will start with April’s 8th issue and explore the secret history of the Court of Owls. To further add to the excitement, it will be Rafael Albuquerque penciling the back-ups, who you already know collaborates with Snyder on Vertigo’s American Vampire.
These images from issue #8 are already making us wish time machines existed (Albuquerque on the left, Capullo on the right) :
There’s also word that this arc will become a much bigger event contained within the Batman books. I can definitely dig that.
With the back-up additions though, that obviously means a page increase, which means starting in April, you’ll be paying $3.99 for your Batman fix. In my book, that’s a small price to pay to get more Snyder goodness.
Small week for books, but not light on quality. Hot off the heels of a stellar start to Detective Comics, Scott Snyder hits another homer with his continuing tale of vampire debacles in American Vampire #9, which sees him wrap up his 2nd story arc about businessmen being wiped out because of their association with European vampires. The characterization is strong, most especially with Skinner Sweet, who is turning out to be one of the better villains written and drawn today. And speaking of drawing, I’ve run out of good things to say about what Rafael Albuquerque brings to the table every month to this series.
Gail Simone meanwhile keeps bring the ridiculous (in a good way) in Secret Six #28. I can’t even begin to tell you what’s going on in this series, but that doesn’t matter when you have such an eccentric cast of characters that Simone gets to play with. Catman is insane, Ragdoll needs a shrink, and Bane is….noble? Whatever, just pick up the darn book.
Vampire stories are hard to come by nowadays. Say what you will about the Twilights and Vampire Diaries of the world and the success they’ve had, but when it comes down to it, we not only love the mythology behind one of the longest running monster characters around, but we just love seeing them rip people’s throats off.
So it was a pleasant surprise earlier in the year when I came to learn of a new Vertigo series called American Vampire that would supposedly redefine that mythology. Scott Snyder and Stephen King introduced us to vampires in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. And quite the vicious vampires too – anybody who’s read the exploits of Skinner Sweet and Pearl Jones as of late knows what I’m talking about. And having a rising talent in Rafael Albuquerque made things that much more awesome for what could be a big Vertigo mainstay to tag along with Fables, my other favorite Vertigo series.
King has departed now and it’s only made Snyder and Albuquerque stand out even more. So much more that DC has given Snyder and a superstar artist in Jock the keys to its long-running Detective Comics series with issue #871 coming out to stores today. Recently, I had a chance to send some questions Snyder’s way about him breaking into the business, his current books, and where he sees the industry heading next:
1) How did you break into comics?
Well, I’ve been a lifelong fanboy, but up until ’08, I’d only written prose. But that year, a buddy of mine organized an anthology of stories by contemporary writers that had them make up new superheroes – a book of origin stories – it’s called “Who Can Save Us Now?” Anyway, I wrote a story about a young man caught in the Bikini Atoll tests in the 40′s, who returns home with strange side-effects (“The Thirteenth Egg”). The story got picked up for a magazine, too – the Virginia Quarterly – and caught the attention of a couple comic editors. Two of them actually came to the launch for the anthology and just approached me afterward and asked if I was actually a comic fan or not. I told them I was (I actually had some issues in my bag that night) and one, an editor at Marvel, asked me if I’d like to pitch a one-shot for the 75th Anniversary series Marvel was doing just then. So I pitched a story about the original Torch, it went through. That led to the opportunity to pitch to my current editor at Vertigo, a guy named Mark Doyle. I went in for lunch, pitched American Vampire, which I’d been considering doing as a series of stories or even a book, and Mark got excited. He helped me re-tool my pitch a lot for Will Dennis and Karen Berger, I gave it in, and they all were very into it. So that’s my story, I guess.
2) Why vampires given how much that has been used in all sorts of mediums as of late?
I know there’s a vampire glut, but even so, I figure I’m always the first in line for any show or book or movie that’s doing something new with a classic monster, no matter what’s already out there. And at the end of the day, when I pitched AV, I was confident that I had something new and exciting (to me at least) when it came to this idea of vampire evolution. For those of you who haven’t picked us up, in a nutshell, the series is about a new species of vampire born in the American West in the 1880s. A vampire indigenous to America with new powers and abilities, new weaknesses – a vampire impervious to sunlight, with different fangs and claws, an evolutionary leap, kind of like a vampire 2.0.
The first of this new American species species is a guy named Skinner Sweet: a young, notorious outlaw who has always delighted in the violence of the West. The series follows his adventures, and his bloodline, through different decades of American history. It’s meant to be fun and twisted with a healthy dose of popcorn, but at its core, it’s also about us, about exploring what makes the American character both heroic and monstrous at different moments in history. But beyond the specific story of the American bloodline the series explores this whole secret history and mythology of vampirism. For example, the classic vampire we all know, the anemic-looking, nocturnal, burned-by-the-sun kind – the Carpathian Vampire, as it’s classified in our series – that kind is just one species among many. It has become the dominant species for reasons that are still secret in the series, but in general, it’s just one bloodline, born at a particular moment, in a particular place. And so beyond the American and Carpathian species is this whole confidential genealogical tree, dating back to pre-modern history; all these different species with different characteristics, different powers and weaknesses. So the series is a world unto itself for me and Rafael Alburquerque.
3.) How did you come about working with Rafael Albuquerque?
Once the series was green-lit, Mark Doyle, our editor brought a couple names in for possible artists. Rafa was one of the first people Mark mentioned. I’d seen his work on Blue Beetle and was excited about him, so we had him do some character sketches and he nailed them on the first try. He just got them, and he had a real sense of what we were going for tonally with the series, what it was about, the potential to experiment… From day one. He has sweat blood for AV – I couldn’t be more grateful he’s my artist. I’m working to get him a co-creator title, actually. He’s just a major creative force behind the book – not just layouts and compositions, but character design, style, tone… We chat almost every day on AIM – he’s honestly become a good friend, like Mark. We’re a real team on this thing, which makes it a pleasure to work on.
4) What are you plans for Detective Comics?
It’s going to be one long story called “The Black Mirror” and in general, on the ground, it really is back to basics: Dick Grayson as Batman of Gotham City, starring as the world’s greatest detective, solving mysteries around the city. And Gotham is changing now that Bruce Wayne is back and has confirmed Dick as Gotham’s new Batman. It’ll be back to basics in that way, but there’ll be a really fresh look on the book, with Jock and Francesco; it’ll be high-tech CSI, big new toys, with a dark story brewing in the background. The backup is going to be Commissioner Gordon; it’ll be about a dark figure from his past, come back to haunt him. Someone I’m very very excited about using. At its heart, the story is about the relationship between Gotham and the mantle of the bat. No one is more aware of what an honor and thrill it is to work on Batman than me – he’s my favorite superhero, hands down. There have been so many great Batman stories over the years, it can be very intimidating. But the truth is that I wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t have a story I was very excited to tell; I wouldn’t have taken it just get the chance to write Batman and play with the big DC toys. The character demands more respect than that. So yes, I’m nervous, but I couldn’t be more excited about the story we’re going to tell.
5) What do you think of the future of the industry as to where it’s headed?
Wow, that’s tough! I mean I’m personally very excited about the direction of things – the possibilities of digital, all that. And I can honestly say that everyone at DC is very very excited for what we’re going to be doing in 2011 – stay tuned!