Category: Superheroes


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Review by C.J. Bunce

I’ve been a fan of the DC Comics character Green Arrow and his partner in fighting crime Black Canary for four decades, but the Robin Hood-inspired superhero with bow and arrow has been around for twice that long.  This month he gets the red carpet treatment in a tribute anthology issue, the Green Arrow 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular The anthology provides 12 stories reflecting creators known for their Green Arrow work like Mike Grell, Phil Hester, Ande Parks, and Jeff Lemire, plus stories by new writers and artists in the style of the character as published in the decades since 1941, when Oliver Queen first saw newsstands.  Some things are missing, like no story featuring the artwork of Neal Adams, whose art was synonymous with Green Arrow and Green Lantern for so long (although he drew a variant cover for this issue) or Jim Aparo, Rick Hoberg, Scott McDaniel, Cliff Chiang, Jock, or Freddie Williams II from later points on the Green Arrow timeline.  There are no stories by Judd Winick, Brad Meltzer, or Kevin Smith, and creators Mort Weisinger and George Papp are of course long gone, as is Denny O’Neil, who does get a tribute story.  But there is plenty Green Arrow fun for fans to love–nice homages, especially to the Golden Age incarnation of Green Arrow and Speedy, and two stories that will take readers right back to their favorite eras of Green Arrow.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

More than 100 comic book artists came together over the past year to create what is one of the best joint art projects featuring superheroes that has come out of the industry.  And it’s all about the biggest superheroine of all.  Some of the best-known names in the world of comics volunteered an original work of art featuring Wonder Woman, penciled, inked, painted, or otherwise colored on a 75th Anniversary DC Comics Wonder Woman blank comic book cover.  It’s all for a good cause that gives back to, and in effect pays forward comic book creators that came before them.

It’s called the Wonder Woman 100 Project.  All proceeds of the auction of the original artwork will go to the Hero Initiative, an organization that helps out the comic book industry by contributing funds to individuals and their families in the event of medical and financial crises.  Most of the comic creators the fund helps were piecemeal workers in their careers over the past decades or those without any kind of retirement program.

    

And for those who can’t afford the original artwork, the Hero Initiative is creating a hardcover and softcover edition compiling all the covers that will be for sale in June 2017, with proceeds of those books also going to the Hero Initiative.

You’ll see some of the very best Wonder Woman images you’ll ever find.  Many are from well-known artists, but some of the finest works are showcased by more recent artists entering the industry.

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Green Arrow close up Sook Ryan

We’ve been pretty lucky to both know and regularly cross paths with some great artists who have worked on the many years of Green Arrow stories in the DC Comics monthly series, and others who haven’t worked on the character but created original sketches for us at conventions.  From time to time we have posted original artwork of Oliver Queen and his partner Dinah Lance aka Black Canary here at borg.com.  These include works by Freddie Williams II, Mike Grell, Neal Adams, Phil Hester and Ande Parks, Howard Chaykin, Michael Golden, Mike Norton, Cliff Chiang, J.K. WoodwardJock, and Phil Noto, among others.

We don’t know Ryan Sook personally, but he is one of our favorite cover artists.  He created our favorite cover of 2012, the cover to Mystery in Space #1, shown here.  The awesome sci-fi steampunk girl on the cover just demands her own comic book series.  We ran down some of his best cover work here last summer.

When we had the chance to commission a pencil and ink piece from him for our Green Arrow and Black Canary gallery, we couldn’t pass it up.  The result is simply awesome.

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The Fall of GI Joe 1 cover   The Fall of GI Joe 1 cover b

Is there something not quite right about a new G.I. Joe series that features a Joe team finally headed up by Scarlett, that is also titled “The Fall of G.I. Joe”?  We’re guessing the juxtaposition of these two elements wasn’t intended to be some kind of causal thing.  Instead we’re focused on plenty of cool covers released by IDW Publishing for the series, which is expected to ship its first issue in September.

G.I. Joe: The Fall of G.I. Joe will be written by Karen Traviss with interior art by Steve Kurth.  Several covers will be available, from artists including Cliff Chiang and Jeffery Veregge.

Check out these covers from the new monthly.  The cover style from Veregge makes us wish Phil Noto or Kevin Dart was also working on this series, and maybe provide some variant covers.  Still, they do look like something we might have seen back in 1972 on the box covers for large-sized G.I. Joe action figures.

IDW Fall of GI Joe alt cover   New GI Joe

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Black-Widow-5-by-Phil-Noto

In the same way that Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye series took us by surprise as the best new series of 2012 (and hasn’t let up in 2014), Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s Black Widow monthly comic book series is proving to be at the top of the 2014 titles.  Strange that the duo of Hawkeye and Black Widow is well-known to be a second tier partnership within the Avengers, yet they are the stars of some of the best monthlies the Marvel universe has to offer.

The Black Widow series follows Natasha Romanova and her attempt to atone for her past sins as a mercenary, assassin, general all-around “bad guy.”  She selects missions these days very carefully.  Her goal is making money but not hurting anyone in the process.  And that money goes into trust funds and pays off her web of back-up operatives around the world—nothing in her plans is about profit-taking.

blackwidow001018

That doesn’t mean she won’t be tapped for S.H.I.E.L.D. or Avengers projects from time to time.  Former agent and now director Maria Hill (who you’ll recall is played by Cobie Smulders in the live-action Marvel universe) brings her in on a few missions.  They make a great team.  Edmondson has a great feel for Romanova.  In the same way Fraction was able to show the personal side of Hawkeye, Edmondson scratches the surface of what makes this lethal heroine tick, but her character shows great depth.  Yet as she says at the beginning of her series “my full story will never be told”.

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Gal Gadot Wonder Woman SDCC 2014 reveal

More big news emerged from San Diego Comic-Con this weekend.  A new comic book series for Haven and Galaxy Quest… a sneak peek at Arrow Season 3, a Star Trek crossover with Planet of the Apes… details and art from Marvel’s new line of Star Wars comic books…  new actors to star in Marvel’s Ant-man… more content from Avengers 2… and new giant monster movies are coming soon from Legendary Pictures.

But the biggest news that almost “broke the Internet” was from DC Entertainment: the first look at Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and her new costume from the 2016 release Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  It’s a nice Cliff Chiang-inspired pose for the Amazon warrior.  So we now have three images of the DC Comics trinity:

Trinity Dawn of Justice

We’ve got a pretty dark superhero movie in our future.

The next big news came from a Marvel Comics panel–the creative line-up for Star Wars comic books under Disney:

Marvel Star Wars 1 Cassaday cover art

Marvel Comics announced that January 2015 will see the first of Marvel taking over the Star Wars comic book line from Dark Horse with three initial series.  Kansas City’s Jason Aaron will write and John Cassaday will serve as artist on a series taking place just after A New Hope, where the original 1978 Marvel Comics line began and the current main Dark Horse title takes place.  Above is the cover art by Cassaday for Issue #1.

Star Wars Darth Vader Granov cover SDCC 2014

A series beginning in February 2015 will follow Darth Vader after his TIE Fighter is knocked away by Han Solo at the end of A New Hope, to be created by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca.

Star Wars Princess Leia Marvel Dodson cover art SDCC 2014

And March 2015 will see a series following Princess Leia after the destruction of the Death Star, from writer Mark Waid, artist Terry Dodson, and colorist Rachel Dodson.

Here are four pages of early stage art for the main Star Wars series:

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Honey Trap logo

What does the Honey Trap Army have to do with G.I. Joe?  Back to that in a minute.

If you’re not already familiar with Gentle Giant, it’s the toy company that creates several specialty collectible toys and busts.  Most are for the serious collector and not something kids will likely ever get their hands on with the company’s large-sized classic Star Wars line offering action figures at $75 and up.  And Gentle Giant handles several franchises, from Star Wars to Marvel to Harry Potter to The Hobbit.

Previously at borg.com we revealed some convention-exclusive figures and the retro-edition, giant rocket-firing Boba Fett may be the coolest large-sized series action figure ever made.  This past week Gentle Giant revealed its first 2013 San Diego Comic-Con exclusive figure, from its Honey Trap Army line: Whisper, variant:

Whisper variant promo

And the limited-to-100 figures edition sold out almost immediately at a whopping $669 per figure.  What’s the Honey Trap Army?  You won’t find a lot of information about them, other than we saw an excellent display of the four initial character figures at last year’s Comic-Con and artist Kevin Dart either created the comic art that inspired the toy line or was inspired by the toy line to draw the characters.  But there is a video with 1960s music and art design to introduce the toy line:

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Miss Fury first anthology cover

Miss Fury was ahead of her time.  The superhero moniker and nickname of Marla Drake, she was less a femme fatale, cast aside by the males that shared the comic page as with other contemporary tales, instead planted in the center of the action.  She was a true heroine, who, while maintaining her sex appeal and motherly nature (adopting a child during the series run), she was a strategic thinker and always the most cunning person in the room, despite male dominated conventions of the 1940s.  In fact, despite some handsome and well-intentioned male friends and companions, it’s the women of the series that are the most interesting, with oafish and blumbering men left for the supporting roles.

June Tarpé Mills was ahead of her time.  Serving as story writer and artist for the popular nearly decade running Miss Fury comic strip, she created the first costumed super-heroine when Superman and Batman were just getting their footholds in the fantasy realm.  Her character drawing is incredible and modern readers might compare her comic art style with modern-day Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang, her compositions with Alex Ross, and her glamour with Adam Hughes.  All of these comparisons are accurate and compliment each of these artists.  Mills’ story arcs collected in Tarpé Mills & Miss Fury: Sensational Sundays 1944 – 1949 anthology hardcover from IDW Publishing are intriguing and compelling–so much so that you could overlook the detailed “costuming” of Mills’ men and women.  But what you would miss.  Men were dressed appropriately in snappy suits, her women sport a historical catalog of designs, fabrics, colors, and styles, as well as a variety of 1940s hairdos.  Miss Fury might as well be a sourcebook for clothing historians.

Mills accomplished something many modern comic book readers beg for–less costumed character stories (i.e. Batman stories) and more secret identity doing the detective work out of the costume (i.e. Bruce Wayne stories).  In fact, you will hardly see Marla Drake appear in her catsuit in the pages of Miss Fury.  And it won’t bother you one bit.

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Movement fists

Fresh off their writing and art projects from New 52’s Batgirl and Green Arrow, DC Comics creators Gail Simone and Freddie Williams II are bringing real-world politics “Occupy Wall Street” style this May in their new monthly series The Movement.

The advance industry catalog Previews.com provided the following teaser this week:

We are faceless. We are limitless. We see all. And we do not forgive.
Who defends the powerless against the GREEDY and the CORRUPT? Who protects the homeless and poverty-stricken from those who would PREY upon them in the DARK OF NIGHT?
When those who are sworn to protect us abuse their power, when toxic government calls down super-human lackeys to force order upon the populace... finally, there is a force, a citizen's army, to push order BACK.
Let those who abuse the system know this as well: We have our OWN super humans now. They are not afraid of your badges or Leagues. And they will not be SILENCED.
We are your neighbors. We are your workers. And we are your children.

Win.  Count us in.  Where do we buy the RISE bracelets?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Matt Fraction and David Aja’s new Hawkeye series is one of the best Green Arrow stories I’ve read in a good while.  It’s a strange thing, as I had no idea these guys could be interchangeable.  Sure, they both use bow and arrow as their chief weapon.  Green Arrow has been around since the 1930s and Hawkeye the 1960s so I must admit I looked at Hawkeye as a Green Arrow knockoff, nothing more.  After his supporting role as a good guy converted to bad in this year’s Avengers movie I figured I’d relegate him to the hundreds of other characters that don’t make it to my reading pile.  I was pretty underwhelmed despite some nice trick arrow moves in that film.  So I had no intention of checking out the Marvel Comics new Hawkeye solo series.  But a very Cliff Chiang-inspired set of covers to Issues #1 and #2 this week at the local comic hangout caused me to look closer, and Matt Fraction’s name caused me to flip through Issue #1.

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