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Tag Archive: Alex Ross


Review by C.J. Bunce

A new edition of a book about the popularity of Fawcett Comics‘ original Captain Marvel, the world’s mightiest mortal–the superhero renamed Shazam and featured in a new movie this month starring Zachary Levi–will be the perfect trip through time for fans who have enjoyed the character in his many stories going back to his debut in 1939.  My personal favorite Captain Marvel stories can be found in the original Whiz Comics (all in the public domain and available to read online now here) and as drawn by Alex Ross in his landmark graphic novel with Mark Waid, Kingdom Come.  For the first time in a softcover edition, Chip Kidd’s Shazam: The Golden Age of the World’s Mightiest Mortal has been reprinted by Abrams ComicArts just in time for the release of the film, Shazam!

For those not in-the-know, this is the Captain Marvel who now goes by Shazam (the word that causes him to bring forth his powers)–the one owned by DC Comics today, and not the one owned by Marvel Comics and also in theaters now in the movie Captain Marvel (reviewed here at borg).  Shazam: The Golden Age of the World’s Mightiest Mortal is a historical work, and it doesn’t hesitate to use the name he’s always been known as by his fans.  As told by writer Chip Kidd, the Captain Marvel fan club had 400,000 people in it in its best year in the 1940s, and Fawcett projected 40 million followers of the character in books and film.  Captain Marvel books sold 1.3 million copies per month, not a common feat even today.  Does anything approach that kind of fan club status today?  At the height of the character it was more popular than Superman and Batman, and so of course the character had hundreds of tie-in products.

Readers will marvel over a reprint of the entire story from Captain Marvel Adventures, Issue #1–created by two then unknowns: Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, and reprints of several colorful covers from Whiz Comics, Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel, Jr., Mary Marvel Comics, WOW Comics, Master Comics, America’s Greatest Comics, Spy Smasher, and even Hoppy, the Marvel Bunny, plus pages of scans of original comic pages from ex-Fawcett staff.

The book uses photographs from a collection of some of the scarcest superhero collectibles known, including images of books, toys, and paper ephemera for Captain Marvel and the entire Marvel Family–superhero kids like Billy Batson–the boy who turns into Captain Marvel–and his friends who use the Shazam powers but remain as kids.

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Our borg Best of 2018 list continues today with the Best in Print.  If you missed them, check out our review of the Best Movies of 2018 here, the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2018 here, and the Best in Television 2018 here.

So let’s get going.  Here are our selections for this year’s Best in Print:

Best Read, Best Sci-fi Read – The Synapse Sequence by Daniel Godfrey (Titan Books).  The Synapse Sequence is one of those standout reads that reflects why we all flock to the latest new book in the first place.  The detective mystery, the future mind travel tech, the twists, and the successful use of multiple perspectives made this one of the most engaging sci-fi reads since Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park.  Honorable mention: Solo: A Star Wars Story novelization by Mur Lafferty (Del Rey).

Best Retro Read – Killing Town by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins (Hard Case Crime).  The lost, first Mike Hammer novel released for the 100th anniversary of Mickey Spillane’s birth was gold for noir crime fans.  This first Hammer story introduced an origin for a character that had never been released, in fact never finished, but Spillane’s late career partner on his work made a seamless read.  This was the event of the year for the genre, and a fun ride for his famous character.  Honorable mention: Help, I Am Being Held Prisoner, by Donald E. Westlake.

Best Tie-In Book – Solo: A Star Wars Story–Expanded Edition novelization by Mur Lafferty (Del Rey).  Not since Donald Glut’s novelization of The Empire Strikes Back had we encountered a Star Wars story as engaging as this one.  Lafferty took the final film version and Lawrence and Jon Kasdan’s script to weave together something fuller than the film on-screen.  Surprises and details moviegoers may have overlooked were revealed, and characters were introduced that didn’t make the final film cut.  Better yet, the writing itself was exciting.  We read more franchise tie-ins than ever before this year, and many were great reads, but this book had it all.  Honorable Mention: Big Damn Hero by James Lovegrove (Titan).

Best Genre Non-fiction – Hitchcock’s Heroines by Caroline Young (Insight Editions).  A compelling look at the director and his relationship with the leading women in his films, this new work on Hitchcock was filled with information diehard fans of Hitchcock will not have seen before.  Young incorporated behind-the-scenes images, costume sketches, and a detailed history of the circumstances behind key films of the master of suspense and his work with some of Hollywood’s finest performers.

There’s much more of our selections for 2018’s Best in Print to go…

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Today writer Dan Slott and artist Sara Pichelli are bringing back the title Fantastic Four to Marvel Comics with a re-launch beginning with part one of a new Issue #1 story, “Fourever,” arriving at comic book stores today.  Marvel Comics sidelined the team of Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Ben Grimm, and Johnny Storm since the end of its Secret Wars series.  Now fans of the team and “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” will find out what they’ve been doing since then.  We’ve gathered the dozens of cover options available for this issue, shown below.

As Marvel states in its marketing materials for the new series:

A void no other team can fill.  And it’s time for the world to move on.  But can it?  A life-changing decision by the Thing!  A momentous declaration by the Human Torch!  A clarion call-to-arms that summons Doctor Doom!  And a signal in the sky that heralds the return of hope to the Marvel Universe!  All this, and Alicia Masters adopts kittens!  So cute!  Plus, the Impossible Man!

Marvel has amped up its cover artists yet again for the variant covers for this latest of several recent renumberings of main titles.   So you’ll find covers from Alex Ross, Artgerm, Art Adams, Adam Hughes, Steve Epting, Sara Pichelli, Esad Ribic, George Perez, Mark Brooks, Skottie Young, Simone Bianchi, Joe Quesada, Eric Powell, Humberto Ramos, Nick Bradshaw, Mike Wieringo, Jack Kirby, John Cassaday, Emanuela Lupacchino, Walt Simonson, Rob Liefeld, Jen Bartel, Will Sliney, Mike Mayhew, Bill Sienkiewicz, and many more–more than 55 including virgin art and blank covers, most new, some pulled from archives of artists of the past, plus some homages to comic book covers from the past.

  

Bonus stories will be included in the issue by Simone Bianchi and Skottie Young.  New Fantastic Four pins and backerboards will also available at some comic book stores today.

Take a look at all these covers we spotted:

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The wedding of Batman and Catwoman is shaping up in the issues of DC Comics’s Batman bi-weekly series, with the date set at Issue #50, greeting comic book readers next month.  Writer Tom King continues his ongoing Bat-tale with an abundance of interior and variant cover artists, including Mikel Janin, Joëlle Jones, Jim Lee, Frank Cho, Alex Ross, Mike Mayhew, Tim Sale, Neal Adams, Lee Bermejo, Joshua Middleton, Dawn McTeague, Frank Miller, Jock, Andy Kubert, Ant Lucia, Eric Basaldua, Natali Sanders, Greg Capullo, Joe Jusko, Olivier Coipel, Scott Williams, Warren Louw, Tyler Kirkham, Rafael Albuquerque, Tony S. Daniel, J. Scott Campbell, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, David Mack, Lee Weeks, Mark Brooks, Dave Johnson, Clay Mann, Greg Horn, Francesco Mattina, David Finch, Paul Pope, Joe Madeurera, Mitch Gerads, Alé Garza, Becky Cloonan, Jae Lee, Francesco Mattina, Ty Templeton, Joseph Michael Linsner, Nick Derington, Jason Fabok, Arthur Adams, Jim Balent, Lucio Parillo, Amanda Conner, and Michael Turner.  The standard cover will feature the work of Mikel Janin.  So how is this going to go down?  Anyone else remember the wedding storyline for Green Arrow and Black Canary?  It seems plenty of villains will be around if the variant covers are any indication.

We think we found nearly all the base images for the variant covers (below).  Let us know if you see one when missed and we’ll update the images below.  We did not include every logo or no-logo version, or black and white or similar variants.

A quick heads-up for Frank Cho fans.  He is selling the above interlocking triptych variant cover series, and if you want these beauties, you’ll want to order them soon.  The image features the main characters of the Batman Universe: Catwoman, Nightwing, Batman, Robin, and Batgirl.  (Cho’s covers will be available at a discount off his release price with a code you can get by signing up for his newsletter here), and Joe Madureira has a similar offer for his covers here.  Even more artists are posting pre-order options for their own variants almost daily.

   

Did we mention variant covers?  If you haven’t been following Batman, the cover art of Batman and Catwoman over the past few months has been something fans of the characters dream of.  With black and white and other versions available, expect at least 30 variant covers for Issue #50.  Many of these options from contributing artists, like Frank Cho, will be found at exclusive sellers, including Kirkham (Hastings), Fabok (Yesteryear), Mattina (7-Ate-9), Jimenez (ZMX), Jae Lee (DF), Sanders (Comic Market Street), Jusko (Midtown), McTeigue (Yancy Street), and Adams (Legacy), and creator exclusive variants only at San Diego Comic-Con or webstores include Alex Ross, Mark Brooks, Greg Horn, Joe Madureira, J. Scott Campbell.  With the release of Batman Issue #50 on July 4 comes Catwoman, Issue #1.  In a rarity for comics, take a look (above, right) at what Catwoman is holding in this cover by Joëlle Jones… Janin’s cover to Batman 50.

Alex Ross Batman 50

And even more have been announced, like three Alex Ross exclusives, available for pre-order for San Diego Comic-Con at his website here.  Greg Horn has three covers available only at his website here.  Mark Brooks has eight variants available here.  J. Scott Campbell has five variants available here.  Jock has three covers here.  Aspen has pulled some art from the late Michael Turner for variants, too.  See even more below.

Here are many of the 50+ cover images and some variations on those variants for Issue #50 previewed so far:

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Last week we saw Superman turn 80 and reach his 1000th issue of Action Comics for DC Comics.  It’s hard to believe that Spider-man is the first character to be featured on a cover for an Issue #800 from rival publisher Marvel Comics.  But that issue finally arrives this month for the long-running monthly series The Amazing Spider-man, more than 55 years after Spidey’s first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962, created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.  This month’s benchmark issue will be a giant 80 pages wrapping up the four-part story “Go Down Swinging.”  Written by Dan Slott, interior artwork was created by Stuart Immonen, Humberto Ramos, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Nick Bradshaw.  Peter Parker takes on Norman Osborn and Carnage, combined to become the Red Goblin.  Then in July as part of Marvel’s “Fresh Start” it all begins again with The Amazing Spider-man, Issue #1, with creative duties handed over to Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley.

The Amazing Spider-man #800 is arriving with at least 38 variant covers, drawn by Steve Ditko (2 remastered covers), Alex Ross (2 versions), Frank Cho, Adam Hughes (4 versions of an image of Mary Jane), Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson, John Romita, Sr., John Cassaday, Gabriele Dell’Otto (2 versions of 2 covers and a third image with wraparound cover for Comicxposure), Mark Bagley, Moebius (2 versions), Inhyuk-Lee (2 versions for Frankie’s/7 Ate 9), Greg Land, Tyler Kirkham, Ron Frenz and Brett Breeding, Humberto Ramos, Nick Bradshaw, Paolo Rivera, Francesco Mattina (connecting cover to Venom, Issue #1), eight covers by Scott Campbell, two editions pre-autographed by Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr., and a blank sketch cover.

  

We’ve searched high and low and came up with 38 covers being offered.  Are more coming?  Possibly.  The difference in some is the inclusion of a logo–or not (frequently referred to as a “virgin cover”).  Many will require work to track down as some are store exclusives, and at least one will be offered at an initial price in excess of $1,000, while ten standard release variants will be easier to acquire.  Take a look at large images of all these great covers:

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DC Entertainment and Marvel Studios offered superhero genre fans live-action adaptations of some of the comic book world’s best-loved superheroes last year.  The concept artwork behind each of DC’s Justice League and Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok are the subject of two new books for fans wanting to dig deeper into the development of these films: Justice League: The Art of the Film, by Abbie Bernstein, and The Art of Thor: Ragnarok, by Eleni Roussos.  Both share the feature of being primarily photographic essays, visual guides illustrating the phases of characters and environments leading to the final art design used in the films.  So both will make good souvenir or coffee table books in addition to showcasing the artists’ visions for film aficionados and comic book fans.

Justice League: The Art of the Film is a 206-page, full-color, hardcover book similar to last year’s Wonder Woman: The Art and Making of the Film.  This volume gives much attention to the variety of costumes created for the film, particularly the looks of the new characters to the film series, Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg.  Cyborg’s cybernetics were added in post-production via CGI.  This is not so much a behind-the-scenes, detailed account with interviews about the production as we’ve seen in other volumes, but it does include statements from each of the key actors and production members peppered throughout the photographs  The layout of pages and overall design is stylized keeping with the themes of the story.

An excerpt from Justice League: The Art of the Film.

Well-designed with gorgeous concept art, The Art of Thor: Ragnarok is a hefty 320 pages in a slipcase holder, featuring classic Jack Kirby art on the book cover inside the dust jacket.  Kirby’s designs can be found as inspiration throughout the film, and are reflected in the concept art and design work, particularly that found in the fantastical world of Sakaar.  Each of the key characters you’d expect get plenty of coverage.  Readers will find hundreds of images of Mayes C. Rubeo’s costume designs for Thor, Hulk, Hela, Loki, Odin, Skurge, and the Grandmaster, as well as supporting characters.  The fiery Surtur has a surprisingly thorough section, showing the various stages that resulted in the finished look seen in the film.

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Our borg.com Best of 2017 list continues today with the Best in Print.  If you missed them, check out our review of the Best Movies of 2017 here, the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2017 here, and the Best in Television here.

So let’s get going.  Here are our selections for this year’s Best in Print:

Best New Edition of Previous Published WorkThe Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame, David Petersen (IDW Publishing).  David Petersen’s artwork was the perfect excuse to get Kenneth Grahame’s wonderful classic The Wind in the Willows into the hands of new readers.  The new edition from IDW Publishing was the perfect storybook, and Petersen, known best for his Mouse Guard series, showed his understanding of these characters and their natural world full of wonder through his fantasy images.

Best Read, Best Retro Read – Forever and a Death, Donald E. Westlake (Hard Case Crime).  Not every good idea comes to fruition.  Not every excellent project gets off the ground.  Not every great book gets published.  The Hard Case Crime imprint of Titan Books came through again, seizing the opportunity to take a lost, never before published work of Donald E. Westlake--Forever and a Death--and brought it to life.  And what a great adventure!  Originally the story commissioned to be the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, the projected was shelved, and only now do we get fantastic characters (like environmental activist and diver Kim Baldur) in a very Bondian situation–destroying Hong Kong as payback for China taking it back from Great Britain.  Honorable mention for Best Retro Read: Turn on the Heat, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Dragon Teeth, Michael Crichton.

Best Sci-Fi Read – Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom: A Novel of Retropolis, Bradley W. Schenck (Tor Books).  Imaginative, new, and fun, Schenck took us into a timeless world full of nostalgia and classic science fiction.  Great tech, and a sprawling story.  Interesting characters and great world-building, this novel will be a great surprise for sci-fi readers.  Honorable mention: War for the Planet of the Apes: Revelations, Greg Keyes.

Best Fantasy Read – An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors, Curtis Craddock (Tor Books).  The plot of this debut novel is labyrinthine and action-packed, full of assassination attempts from all quarters, courtly intrigue galore, grandiose philosophies, and a cast of characters anchored by the strong, smart, resourceful, and eminently likeable heroes.  Supporting everything is Craddock’s strong, confident, often-funny, and sharply observant writing that goes from heart-wrenching to hilarious on a single page without missing a beat.  A dazzling debut.

Best Genre Non-fiction – Middle-Earth: From Script to Screen, Daniel Falconer (Harper Design).  We wish every genre franchise had such a magnificent, thorough, monumental guide.  Falconer’s guide to Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies is full of interviews at all levels of the creative process, and supported by concept art, photographs, maps, and so much more.  Worthy of the six films it covers, it’s the ultimate fan book and a model for any franchise attempting to put everything fans could want into a single volume.

There’s much more of our selections for 2017’s Best in Print and more, after the jump…

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The Silent Seven–a mysterious crime organization from the 1920s-30s, from the time of Miss Fury and… The Shadow?  Batman and Robin encounter Professor Pyg and his transforming “Dollotron” masks as the villain crashes a New Year’s Eve party.  This is the Robin named Damian, Bruce Wayne’s son, a 13-year-old raised by assassins.  Batman must forge a relationship with his son as The Shadow appears out of the past and looking for answers.

DC Comics and Dynamite Comics have partnered for a blend of the past and the present as Batman and The Shadow collide in a new crossover series, arriving at comic book shops today with The Shadow/Batman Issue #1.  The Shadow: The World’s Greatest Mystery.  The Batman: The World’s Greatest Detective.  What if they encounter The World’s Greatest Evil?  As they protect New York, and ancient evil surfaces.  Can they work together to save their city?

Writer Steve Orlando (Batman/The Shadow, Justice League of America), artist by Giovanni Timpano (The Shadow, Transformers), and colorist Flavio Dispenza (Eclipse), come together to craft an action-filled noir story and a crossover of worlds and characters forged in comics’ Golden Age.  DC Comics’ key hero and Dynamite’s classic pulp character are an obvious team-up opportunity.

  

Check out a preview of Batman/The Shadow, Issue #1, below courtesy of the publishers, as well as a look at another giant release of variant covers–a showcase of comic art talent–from Issues #1 through #3:

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Here I come to save the day!

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Mighty Mouse, who first appeared in short animated films from Terrytoons for 20th Century Fox throughout the 1940s, including one that was nominated for an Academy Award.  So what better time to bring back the powerful mouse who can protect Pearl Pureheart from Oil Can Harry, and maybe even save us all?  Dynamite Comics is answering the call with a new monthly series beginning today with an initial story arc that deals with bullying.

Mighty Mouse was created by Ralph Bakshi (known also for Fritz the Cat, the animated The Lord of the Rings, and the Kim Basinger flick Cool World) and Paul Terry, whose cartoons with sound beat Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willie to cinemas in 1928 (one of the first animators to use cel animation).  Mighty Mouse would appear as part of the Saturday morning cartoon line-up in various versions in each of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.  A rather odd update, the 1980s version would feature a crossover episode with Bakshi’s Mighty Heroes characters, a group of middle-aged lawyers that included a superhero called Diaper Man, and comedian Andy Kaufman would make famous for another generation the Mighty Mouse theme song in a skit for Saturday Night Live in the 1970s.  Marvel Comics produced a 10-issue comic book series in 1990-1991.

        

Today, writer Sholly Fisch and artist Igor Lima are bringing the classic mouse to the 21st century.  It’s a book for kids of all ages–the kind of comic book to introduce young kids to the medium.  A boy is getting bullied in school, and he’s a young artist and fan of the classic Mighty Mouse cartoons.  As he is watching television, a portal across dimensions interferes with his show, and with the characters within the television.  The third wall is breached as a boy meets his hero.

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After two meet-up issues, Wonder Woman and The Bionic Woman are back in their 1970s TV action mode in the DC Comics/Dynamite Entertainment crossover series Wonder Woman ’77 Meets The Bionic Woman, Issue #3, hitting comic book shops today.  And Max, the bionic German Shepherd, joins the team.

Writer Andy Mangels (Star Trek & Star Wars) and artist Judit Tondora (Grimm Fairy Tales) have at last tapped into that 1970s nostalgia fans of classic superhero TV shows have been looking for.  Today the duo takes on fembots, and the series reintroduces characters and plot points footnoted to specific episodes of the original TV shows.

   

The series features great covers and variants by artist Cat Staggs, Alex Ross, and others.  Check out some past and future covers from the series above and after the break, followed by a preview of Issue #3:

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