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Metropolis’ Superman honors Marvel creator, Stan Lee

Stan Lee, the creative dynamo who revolutionized the comic book world and helped make billions for Hollywood by introducing human frailties in Marvel superheroes such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the Incredible Hulk, died Monday.

From: http://www.kfvs12.com/2018/11/15/metropolis-superman-honors-marvel-creator-stan-lee/

‘Superman’ Soars In His Best Film With 4K 40-Year Anniversary Release

This December marks the 40th anniversary of a monumental moment in the history of cinema — the true beginning of the superhero feature film genre, when Warner Bros. released the first big-budget modern blockbuster adapting a superhero comic book for the big screen. That picture was 1978’s Superman, and Warner Bros. is celebrating the 40-year anniversary with a fantastic 4K release for home entertainment. This re-release and restoration is a perfect way to celebrate four decades of comic book cinema, as well as honoring the wonder and awe captured in director Richard Donner’s superhero masterpiece.

4K release of Warner’s “Superman: The Movie”Source: Warner Bros

Before I dive into the historic nature of Superman and this re-release, let me take a few moments to explain the importance and quality of this new 4K restoration. This isn’t just a 4K release, it incorporates Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos that make the film actually look even better than it did upon its original release. The eye-popping richness of colors, the depth and darkness of shadows, the nuance brought out in the background audio of the bustling city streets of Metropolis, are so improved as to make the film’s important visuals and world-building emersion all the more effective. The visual effects look better and more convincing, which helps overcome skepticism and complaints from younger audiences spoiled by today’s hyper-realistic CGI effects.

By bringing a wider palate of color and texture and sound to Superman, this re-release has also revived its relevance and the impact it can have on younger fans. I always stress the importance of viewing films and entertainment in the best possible setting and with the best technology for enhancing the experience, and Superman is a perfect example of how even older movies benefit tremendously when modern technology is brought to bear and helps us see it again with fresh eyes.

If you’ve seen Martin Scorsese’s film Hugo, you’ll recall a scene of an audience scared by their first experience with moving pictures — a train coming right at the camera causes the audience to actually leap out of their seats in fear. Such a scene would be hard for modern audiences to relate to, obviously, but Scorsese smartly employed 3D in Hugo so the train sequence actually sends the train barreling down on us in a way that helps us share that same visceral reaction of the first audiences 80 years earlier. The 4K Dolby Vision release of Superman pulls a similar trick, by demonstrating the power and excitement of the film’s visuals and sets, all practical effects (save the opening credits, which were the first to employ computer graphics) and all the work of a brilliant creative team that figured out how to make Superman soar.

Superman in 4K is gorgeous — the opening sequence on Krypton more ominous, the first reveal of Superman swooping up the side of the Daily Planet to catch Lois Lane more breathtaking, the sequence of Superman racing after the missiles more thrillingly believable. And the Atmos sound deserves enormous praise too — the music soaring until our hearts almost burst with glee, while in the background of many scenes you’ll hear snippets of dialogue and sound effects you probably never noticed before. I’ve been rewatching Superman for 40 years, probably seeing it at least once or twice every year, and watching this 4K version I kept picking up dialogue and other sounds and noises I hadn’t heard in any previous viewing.

This new 4K version is the only way to watch Superman at home, and I’d love to see a theatrical re-release at Christmas for this restored version. Likewise, I eagerly await a 4K Dolby Vision/Dolby Atmos release for Superman II — maybe even one for the Donner Cut?

Now, let’s talk about the legacy of Superman and why it still matters so much today.

If you grew up in the 2000s, when the superhero cinematic genre was reborn into a golden age, you cannot comprehend what it was like to live in an era completely devoid of superhero movies as a staple of summer box office, without modern realistic visual effects, and without any sort of mainstream acceptance of comics and comic book movies as a serious adult form capable of appealing to adult audiences.

You cannot imagine, then, the impact when a film like Superman arrived and not only offered a serious, epic storytelling approach to comic book movies (which basically didn’t really exist as a genre at the time) but did so with cutting-edge visual effects unlike anything we’d seen before at the movies. Let me try to give you some sense of the context in which Superman appeared, why it was revolutionary, and why those of us who lived through that time period consider it such an iconic, important film that’s still one of the greatest superhero movies ever made.

Visual effects were (with only a few notable exceptions) still in their adolescence at the time. From the 1950s through the 1970s, the height of special effects were the sort typically seen in films like Forbidden Planet, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, The Ten Commandments, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jason and the Argonauts, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Those films have their charms, and I love watching some of them as examples of VFX innovations at their time, but they weren’t on the cutting edge of VFX innovations that exploded onto the big screen in the 1970s.

Films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Star Wars were rare exceptions when they first appeared in the late-1960s and the 1970s, bringing a believability and realism to cinematic effects we’d never seen before. They’re game-changing status was based precisely on the fact no other movies were doing what they did.

But at that time, nobody was thinking about applying advanced, realistic visual effects to adapting a superhero comic book character. Well, almost nobody. George Lucas’ Star Wars was actually born out of his earlier desire to adapt the Flash Gordon comic strips into live-action movies on a large, impressive scale (when he was denied the rights to make a Flash Gordon movie, he reworked his ideas into an original concept and Star Wars was born). And of course, Ilya Salkind, his father Alexander Salkind, and Pierre Spengler had an idea to take modern effects and apply them to a big-budget superhero movie for Superman.

Superman was only the third feature-length superhero movie ever made. The first was Superman and the Mole Men in 1951, essentially a 58 minute theatrically-released pilot to launch The Adventures of Superman TV show that same year. Then came Batman in 1966, a feature-length version of the popular Batman television series. Neither of those earlier movies, however, were conceived of as a true cinematic treatment for superhero stories, and they did nothing to spawn studio consideration of big-budget comic book adaptations.

So, when Superman was conceived as a big-budget, epic approach to serious superhero storytelling, there was no existing template pointing the way toward success, and few people outside of the filmmaking team took the Salkinds’ and Spengler’s idea seriously. Certainly nobody believed a live-action movie about superheroes would appeal to adults, as comics were largely considered nothing more than cheap entertainment for children.

It was almost crazy that Superman was even made at all, in light of the uphill battle it faced. And a big part of that battle was finding someone who could truly embody such a legendary character as Superman in a serious, believable way that seemed relatable, believable, and inspiring all rolled into one. Another major obstacle was creating a movie in which audiences would believe — even if just for a couple of hours — a man could fly. Again, there was simply no prior template in existence for creating such visual effects and making them look real on the big screen.

The fact Superman created a template for superhero cinema from scratch, and did it so well on the first try that the template it created remains largely unchanged to this day — and has inspired some of the greatest and most widely acclaimed recent superhero origin movies, including Batman Begins, Iron Man, Thor, and Wonder Woman to name just a few — is a testament to the enduring quality and legacy of this spectacular film.

Likewise, Christopher Reeve remains the greatest casting for a superhero lead in history, and once again I’ll note the filmmakers accomplished this feat at the very start of the superhero genre. Many great examples of casting have followed in Superman’s footsteps — including Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine — but Reeve stands out for his ability to play a character who constantly alternates between two very distinctive personalities, who represents an ideal and entire legacy of what it means to be a superhero for all of humanity, and Reeve had a perfect understanding of what Superman meant to people and what Superman stood for. In every film, no matter how otherwise bad it might be (and Superman IV: The Quest For Peace was pretty bad) Reeve became Superman, all the way to his bones, every time he walked on set, and he never gave less than everything he had.

In the minds of many fans, Henry Cavill is the “best” Superman for live-action. Likewise, those fans tend to feel Man of Steel is the best Superman film. I respect their view, and I realize their experience is different from my own. Indeed, I’ve had plenty of discussions and debates with fans of George Reeves’ Superman from the 1950s who insist he was the one and only “best” Superman, and who argue Christopher Reeve didn’t live up to the standard set by the 1950s incarnation. I realize that for those older fans, George Reeve looked and acted more like the earliest Superman from the late-1930s stories, and it’s their own first experience with seeing what passed for better quality storytelling and visual effects.

All of that said, I think it’s possible to recognize George Reeve and Henry Cavill, not to mention Brandon Routh, did great jobs in their respective versions of Superman, but that Christopher Reeve embodied something transcendent and grander, more iconic, and more timeless in his portrayal of Superman. Even divorcing the assessment from the sheer historic nature of Reeve’s 1978 portrayal and how it changed superhero movies and set a standard, just watching Reeve switch from Clark to Superman and back again — in an instant sometimes, such as at Lois’ apartment when he removes his glasses and almost tells her the truth — and seeing the little subtleties he added to his performance and how he never took it for granted or seemed self-conscious about the costume or worried about the genre, was inspiring. His performance as Superman was as serious and important and immersive to him as a role in a Shakespeare play on Broadway. He didn’t just play Superman, he became Superman.

Superman is the movie that started it all, striving for epic storytelling and a bigger, bolder vision for comic books than anyone dreamed possible. It created new approaches for visual effects, it was one of the first true blockbusters, and it is responsible for giving us a superhero cinematic genre that treats comics as myths every bit as important and in need of being taken seriously as Greek or Roman mythology brought to the big screen, or Biblical epics turned into movies. Now you have a chance to see Superman in its best form, to appreciate how sweeping and towering it is in the history of superhero filmmaking, and I hope every fan will take advantage of this opportunity.

Superman is among the best superhero movies of all time, and one of my favorite films ever made, so happy anniversary to everyone who made it possible, and who made me believe a man could fly.

Box office figures and tallies based on data via Box Office Mojo , Rentrak, and TheNumbers.

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From: https://www.forbes.com/sites/markhughes/2018/11/14/superman-soars-in-his-best-film-with-4k-40-year-anniversary-release/

Stan Lee, dead at 95, reinvented the comic book industry


Stan Lee, the creative dynamo who revolutionized the comic book and helped make billions for Hollywood by introducing human frailties in Marvel superheroes such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the Incredible Hulk, died Monday. He was 95. (Nov. 12)

Stan Lee had his own superpower: longevity.

Like Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Thor, Black Panther, Iron Man and dozens of other comic book heroes he created, co-created or launched, he seemed, after 95 years, indestructible.

He got into the business in 1939, the year after Superman’s debut. By the 1970s, he was the business.

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Stanley Martin Lieber, age 95, died Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He leaves behind millions of mourning fans, and one of the richest bequests in the entertainment business. Marvel-based movies, as of 2017, have grossed $10,916,958,583 worldwide, according to Zacks.com

“Given his age, I shouldn’t be shocked by his passing, but Stan Lee was someone that I thought somehow, some way, would live forever,” said Joe Caramagna, formerly of Elmwood Park, an inker, letterer and colorist who worked on such Marvel titles as “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “New Avengers” and “Black Widow.”

“I guess in a way he will,” Caramagna said.

Over 80 years, Stan Lee saw his business grow from a shabby stepchild of newspaper supplements to a billion-dollar industry that spanned multiple media, from magazines to movies to TV to toys to clothing to video games.

Over 50 of those years, he became as well known to comics fans as any of his characters, thanks to editorial features like “Stan’s Soapbox.” Long before Twitter, he anticipated the new celebrity culture of the 21st century by interacting constantly with his fans.

“He definitely wanted to seem more accessible to fans, almost like a character himself,” said Reilly Brown, a West Orange artist who worked at Marvel intermittently between 2005 and 2016, on such titles as Spider-Man, “Hercules” and “Deadpool.”

“I was at the Baltimore Comic-Con, and there was some award ceremony, around 2011, 2012,” Brown recalled. “He walks up to the stage, with a cane, this little old man. Then he gave his cane to his handler, and he suddenly straightened up and he leaps onto the stage and gives this speech. It was very much a Willy Wonka thing. I didn’t know which was the act — whether it was the old man or the showman on stage.”

Into his 90s, Lee was still highly active and highly visible, dropping by for cameos in the various Marvel movie blockbusters: a Leonardo popping in to sign his canvas, in case we should forget who was the genius behind it.

“Stan Lee was the most iconic comic creator of all time,” said Ben Lichtenstein, owner of Zapp Comics in Wayne. “There would not be Marvel Comics without him.”

And there would not be a comics industry, as we know it today, without Marvel.

There might be comics, sure: some ghost of Superman and Batman at DC Comics, going through the crime-fighting motions for an audience of grade-schoolers.

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Comic book creator Stan Lee, left, poses with wife Joan in 2011.
FILE – In this Jan. 4, 2011, file photo, comic book creator Stan Lee, left, poses with his wife Joan after he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. Lee and his family announced that Joan Lee died peacefully on Thursday, July 6, 2017, and asked for privacy. Stan and Joan Lee had been married for 69 years, and the famed comics creator had credited his wife with being supportive during an early part of his career when he was struggling to create superheroes he and audiences would care about. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)
Chris Pizzello, AP

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  • Stan Lee sat down with USA TODAY several years ago to talk about comics and more.2 of 10
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  • Chris Pizzello/APComic book creator Stan Lee, left, poses with wife Joan in 2011.FILE - In this Jan. 4, 2011, file photo, comic book creator Stan Lee, left, poses with his wife Joan after he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. Lee and his family announced that Joan Lee died peacefully on Thursday, July 6, 2017, and asked for privacy. Stan and Joan Lee had been married for 69 years, and the famed comics creator had credited his wife with being supportive during an early part of his career when he was struggling to create superheroes he and audiences would care about. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)7 of 10
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But superheroes as they are today — dead center of the pop culture world, the biggest tentpole in the Hollywood big top, an artistic medium that has attracted A-list talent like Neil Gaiman, John Cleese and Ta-Nehisi Coates — are inconceivable without the push that Stan Lee gave them, starting in the early 1960s.

Comics aren’t just for kids

Before Lee, comic books were for kids. Or for juvenile delinquents, if anti-comic crusaders like Dr. Fredric Wertham were to be believed.

“What DC was aiming for was the kiddie books at the five-and-dime,” said Leonia’s Anthony Snyder, owner-operator of Anthony’s Comic Book Art. “Stan Lee upgraded the whole market.”

After the initial burst of creativity that sparked Superman (1938) and Batman (1939) and Captain America (1941), and a brief moment of glory during World War II when they were let loose on Nazis, comic books had faltered, declined, become formulaic.

“When you look at comics before Marvel, in the late ’50s and early ’60s, they were very bland, very vanilla,” Lichtenstein said. “I like Superman. In his own way, he’s perfect. But he’s boring. You can only see him save the world so many times.”

Enter Stan Lieber.

Actually, he had entered much earlier. Born in Manhattan in 1922, and coming of age in the Bronx, Lee got into the comics business when he was only 17, working for a company then called Timely.

He came from Romanian-Jewish stock, which is significant. Many of the early comics pioneers were Jewish, as author Michael Chabon pointed out in his 2000 novel “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier  Clay.” The super-savior — call him Samson or Golem — was a familiar figure in Jewish lore. He also had a new urgency in the era of the Nazis.

In May 1941, Lieber made his first editorial contribution, to a story called  “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge.” He signed himself “Stan Lee.”

But it wasn’t until Timely, having briefly become Atlas in 1951, turned into Marvel in 1961 that Lee came into his own.

His big breakthrough in 1961 was the Fantastic Four, created with artist Jack Kirby. Some credit is apparently due to Lee’s wife, Joan Clayton Boocock (she died in 2017; the couple had two children).

“His story is, he was going to quit,” Snyder said. “And his wife said: Why don’t you do a book the way you want, before you quit. That was when he did FF1.”

Superheroes, before this, had mostly been white-bread: Boy Scouts in capes, with movie-star profiles, who went around righting wrongs. The Fantastic Four were a quartet of reluctant superheroes who had very human frailties. They fought. They bickered. They had doubts and anxieties. And one of them looked like a big pile of rubble.

“He introduced a completely new dimension to superheroes,” Lichtenstein said. “They weren’t perfect. They weren’t supermen.”

Lee followed that up, in 1962, with three even more unlikely heroes.

Spider-Man, created with Steve Ditko, was a teenage nerd whose accidental acquisition of superpowers from the bite of a “radioactive spider” didn’t make him any more popular with his boss, with the girls, or with the public-at large. The Hulk, created with Kirby, was a Frankenstein monster with muscles. Thor, created with Kirby and Larry Lieber, was a Norse god who spoke in thee’s and thou’s. Four years later, in 1966, Lee and Kirby created comicdom’s first black superhero: Black Panther.

Comics hit the campus

Lee’s characters were aimed at older, more sophisticated readers than those of earlier comic books. In fact, they found their widest readership, as the 1960s went its chaotic way, with college students. 

“The characters he developed, like Fantastic Four and the Hulk and even Thor, were definitely geared for a higher intellect,” said Tony DeMarco, owner of AS Comics in Teaneck and North Bergen. “Smaller kids might not have had the maturity to understand them.”

And Lee reached out to these new readers in a new way. He made sure that they knew who was writing, drawing, inking all of the panels they read. And he made sure they knew him.

“He was the first one to give a lot of credit to the creators,” Lichtenstein said.

If news from the Marvel “bullpen” was thrilling to the casual reader, how much more did it inspire young, would-be comic book artists and writers who rifled through the pages of “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Avengers,” and “The Incredible Hulk”? Brown was one of the lucky ones who actually got to work there.

“I was an intern at college then,” said Brown, who is currently working on a new title, “Outrage,” with “Deadpool’s” Fabian Nicieza, for LINE Webtoon. “I did work in those offices. It was cool. It was kind of laid out like a regular office with cubicles, but each worker’s cubicle was like a fortress, or a clubhouse. It was a lot of fun.”

If Stan Lee jump-started the comics industry, comics jump-started the movie industry.

Superheroes had been seen on the screen as early as the 1940s, but the early “Batman” and “Superman” serials had been poky, and even the successful “Superman” series, beginning in 1978, didn’t change the whole industry

But by the 2000s, digital special effects had evolved to the point where Hollywood could make Iron Man convincingly fly, Mr. Fantastic convincingly stretch like a rubber band, and Spider-Man convincingly career from building to building. When Marvel characters met Hollywood know-how, starting with “Spider-Man” in 2002, it became a game-changer for the movie industry. What was Marvel Comics became Marvel Entertainment — and its tentacles, like Doc Ock’s, reached everywhere.

“Comic books were the medium of limitless imagination,” Snyder said. “Now technology has caught up with comic books, and they’re able to put it out there.”

Through it all, Lee was always there: doing cameos in movies, appearing at conventions, Quite literally, a legend in his own lifetime. And now, Brown says, beyond it.

“For so long, it was so cool to think this guy who created my favorite characters was still alive,” Brown said. “Now he just feels more like a legend than he ever was.”

Email: beckerman@northjersey.com

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From: https://www.northjersey.com/story/entertainment/2018/11/12/stan-lee-marvel-comics-dies-age-95/1979046002/

RIP Stan Lee, the Man Who Made Comics Cool

Stan Lee, the avuncular, controversial longtime writer and publisher of Marvel Comics, died Monday in Los Angeles. He was 95 years old.

Popping a big character death on people like that was just the kind of thing Lee liked. “Stan Lee—dead! No! No, it can’t be!” The man who first understood that with great power there must come great responsibility? The man who alongside comics greats like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko created or co-created basically half of comic-book superhero-dom? Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Iron Man, Black Panther, Thor … I could go on! Lee certainly would have.

These days, when four of the top 10 grossing movies of all time are based on characters from Marvel Comics, it’s hard to imagine what the scene was like in 1940 when Lee got his first gig—at Timely Comics, which would become Atlas, which would become Marvel. The idea of something called a “comic book” was just a year or so old; Batman and Superman—products of Bob Kane and Bill Finger, and Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, over at what would become DC Comics—had jump-started an entire medium. There was no such thing as a “graphic novel.” We could argue, I guess, about when human beings first paired static images with spoken dialog and sound effects (was it cave walls 40,000 years ago, or newspaper comics in the early 1900s?) but let’s not fight about what happened when Lee took over Marvel in the 1960s.

Comics had already died and come back to life once—1950s fights over whether they were too violent and too gay led to their bowdlerization. But then DC, Marvel’s archnemesis, resurrected two dead heroes from the distant past, the Flash and Green Lantern, in more up-to-date costumes and with more science-y powers, as befitting the atomic age. Lee was encouraged to try the same. He added a new superpower: angst.

A prolific consumer of high art and pulp, Lee understood that heroes like Superman were fundamentally boring. If nothing can hurt the guy, what’s the challenge? Lee and his collaborators realized their conflicts could be internal. Spider-Man: a geeky, bullied teen granted awesome powers and burdened with the lesson that he can never use them to enrich himself or avenge personal loss, but only to help others. The Fantastic Four: a team, a family, one of them turned monstrous thanks to the scientific hubris of the father figure. The X-Men: teenagers hated and feared by society, even their own parents, thanks to biological forces outside their control. Iron Man: a millionaire playboy who can never remove the armor around his heart. This is pulp as high art.

Lee had found, buried in the fantasy-pulp midden comics had become, a central metaphor. These stories about men and women in garish tights hitting each other were also about more. DC’s heroes were gods and oligarchs, confident white men of privilege; Marvel’s heroes were outcasts, the victims of prejudice, trapped in moral webs stronger than anything Spider-Man ever thwipped. And they appealed to people who felt the same, even before Lee and the other Marvel creators published the first African American heroes, the first Asian-American heroes, and strong, leading-character women in numbers large enough to populate a dozen summer crossovers.

As Marvel Comics grew in popularity and sophistication through the 1960s, Lee realized that his stories never had to end. They could have, as he construed it, the illusion of change—a villain unmasked, a mad scientist’s island lair destroyed, shapeshifting aliens sent scurrying back to their home galaxy—but the heroes’ fundamental personal problems would only get worse. It was a potentially never-ending story of cliffhangers and kraka-thooms. Lee had unlocked a key to serial drama—the foundation of today’s forever franchises. Without Lee, there’s no Harry Potter, no Star Wars.

Probably as a matter of necessity with so many monthly stories to write, Lee developed a writing method that became known as the Marvel Method. He’d write a short synopsis of a story with key beats, and an artist would lay out the actual story on the page, leaving room for dialogue. Lee would them come back in and fill in the bubbles, often with melodramatic, pseudo-Shakespearean tripe. His business approach to it all didn’t make him popular. Lee’s longtime partnership with Jack Kirby dissolved in acrimony, Kirby feeling—not unreasonably—that Lee took too much credit for their shared achievements. The artists were doing a lot more than drawing.

Meanwhile, Lee was doing a lot more than writing and editing. He was also writing a monthly column that appeared in every Marvel book, touting the wacky fun of the “bullpen,” a mostly fabricated Marvel office where all your favorite writers hung out, bantering about groovy superheroes. He called fans “True Believers,” members of the “Merry Marvel Marching Society.” All the artists and writers got nicknames. (Kirby was the King.) Lee would make live appearances, narrate records. By the 1970s, the modern incarnation of the X-Men was a massive hit, and a decade later grimmer, grittier comics aimed at an older and more cynical audience were all the rage—made possible, in part, by the more mature themes Lee and his co-creators inserted in their work. But by then he was mostly a figurehead; in the 1980s he narrated a Spider-Man cartoon. Even into his dotage, rarely writing, he appeared in cameos in multiple Marvel movies. For comics fans of a certain age—my age—Lee was very much the face of the medium.

Wrapped up in all the anger at Lee was, of course, money. Everything anyone had created for Marvel was work-for-hire; Lee’s dual role as creative and spokesperson made him money that other writers and artists did not. It all made Kirby so nuts he actually left Marvel for DC, and among other craziness created a villain based on Lee: the vapid, vain, cash-grubbing Funky Flashman. Today, when superhero movies generate wealth that would make an Asgardian blush, the creators of those characters are still fighting for fair recompense.

In late life, Lee’s creative output perhaps didn’t match what he’d done in the 1960s and 1970s. Stripperella, the character Lee created in collaboration with the actress and model Pamela Anderson, seems unlikely to have the staying power of, say, the Black Widow. He worked with other entertainment companies, and ended up in financial and legal fights with some. In the last year, people in the industry worried that Lee’s caretakers were taking advantage of him—something he denied.

Lee was every bit as complicated as the characters he created—or co-created, or present at the creation of. His creativity and ideas cast a mystical field over the popular culture of the 20th and 21st centuries, and taught generations of nerds of every flavor and stripe about responsibility, morality, and love. And in a sense, his death can’t be any more permanent than one he might have written for a comic-book character, because the stories he began are all to be continued, forever.

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From: https://www.wired.com/story/rip-stan-lee-the-man-who-made-comics-cool/

Buffalo Soldiers ride on through comic book artist, writer

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) – Immersing himself in the wild western adventures of the African-American Buffalo Soldiers has been a return to some familiar themes and narratives for graphic designer and comic book artist Stan Webb.

Webb and writer Dion Lee released the first issue of the comic book “Buffalo Soldier” in early October. But the characters and storyline have stuck with them for close to 20 years, since the two originally published the first four books of “Buffalo Soldier” in the early ‘90s.

Webb recalled the work involved in traveling along the east coast to independent comic expos and conventions, spreading hype about “Buffalo Soldier” the old-fashioned way.

“You printed up a bunch of books and then you hit the road and sell them, and that’s how we did it,” he said. “But life got in the way as we got older; I got married, (Lee) got married, we had kids and life got in the way.”

The duo had collaborated on comics since their school days. Webb said they were big fans of comics like Superman and Spider-Man growing up and would work on ideas for their own comics during summertime.

Webb honed his skills at Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in New Jersey, where he also learned about animation and graphic design.

“It was a real treat to have a teacher who was actually in the comic book business and I really learned a lot from that school as far as illustration was concerned,” he said.

When he’d come back home to Lynchburg from college, Webb recalled visiting the late teacher and historian Henry Powell, a family friend, on Saturdays to listen to him wax on about history – national to local. One of the discussions that particularly caught his ear compared the Tuskegee Airmen, the decorated African-American pilots who flew during World War II, to the Buffalo Soldiers, a group of African-American army men who fought Native Americans to help settlers move west in the late 1800s.

Webb said he was familiar with the Tuskegee Airmen but knew nothing about this other black military unit that wasn’t mentioned in textbooks. The Buffalo Soldiers piqued his interest and Powell loaned him more niche history books to learn from.

“The more I read up on it, the more I like the history behind it,” he said.

Powell asked Webb if he’d be willing to draw illustrations for a children’s book that’d introduce them to the Buffalo Soldiers. Webb said the two met for months brainstorming ideas for the book, and eventually the prospective project morphed into a comic book he and Lee dreamed up, based on the historical material Powell provided them. He said Powell thought pursuing the comic route was a great idea and the first book in the “Buffalo Soldier” is dedicated to him.

For their comic, Webb and Lee filled the Buffalo Soldiers‘ historical narrative with characters they thought up themselves, like the hero, Tom Wilson.

Most of the Buffalo Soldiers were illiterate and couldn’t record their own exploits, Webb said. He said white cavalry units in the same areas as the Buffalo Soldiers – largely from the Dakotas down to Texas, as far out as Arizona – didn’t keep good records of the black units and there isn’t much historical literature about the 10th Cavalry unit. So, Webb said he and Lee decided to focus their story on what is known about the 10th Cavalry.

“We might embellish a few things here and there, but we try to stick as much to the history (and) what was in the history books at the time that we can pull from,” he said.

With the Civil War right behind them, Webb said the soldiers fought through segregation, prejudice and disadvantage. At the time, the U.S. Army refused to integrate and instead pushed segregated black units – later becoming known as Buffalo Soldiers – out west, into America’s no man’s land.

“Anybody that was . out west and going into dangerous territory, they requested the Buffalo Soldiers because they had a really good record and they knew they would be in good hands,” he said.

When Webb and Lee decided to stop publishing “Buffalo Soldier” in the ‘90s, they said they still kept the ideas and storyline flowing over the years as they kept in touch.

Besides their kids transitioning into adulthood, Lee said the white supremacist-led Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville last year and the political climate surrounding that rally helped energize him to try and push the Buffalo Soldiers‘ little-known story back into the spotlight.

“I thought that we needed to inject something different, something more positive, something new into the current climate,” he said.

Lee, who also lives in Lynchburg, said he sees “Buffalo Soldier” as counterprogramming to history on U.S. slavery and as another, different perspective to black history.

“There’s a gap between what you hear about slavery and the Tuskegee Airmen,” he said. “. So to fill that gap and to fill that void and to provide new information and some history that a lot of people didn’t know about . you combine the lack of knowledge with Mr. Powell’s passion and Stan’s passion about the project: that’s what made me want to pursue it.

While there have been a few African-American heroes from comic book giants like DC and Marvel over the years, Webb said he hasn’t seen a lot of change in the same white heroes stealing the show. Even within the independent comics scene – made more accessible than ever now with technology and the internet – he said black comics typically see more of a cult following.

“You’ll see some that’ll pop up every now and then but you still don’t see it as much as you should, I think. I don’t know what the real reason why you really don’t but it’s unfortunate,” he said.

Webb said he’d like to publish 10 issues of “Buffalo Soldier” – one or two 60-page issues a year – and see where the series takes him and Lee from there. Next year, he said he’d like to tap up comic conventions and expos nearby to reintroduce the comic to new audiences. A few readers, like members of Buffalo Soldier associations, have asked Webb to keep them in the loop for the reboot.

He and Lee are also exploring new, innovative ways to bring their story to readers: a side story for “Buffalo Soldier” is online in an interactive format and the two are hammering out the best digital medium for “Buffalo Force,” a futuristic sci-fi spinoff of their original creation. For “Buffalo Force,” he said they’ve experimented with using cellphone scanning apps to help tell their story.

A graphic artist for Dayrich whose work can be seen in the Lynchburg Museum, at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest and at Amazement Square, Webb said he’ll sometimes pepper in some comic art during his typical work day: filling in some ink or color on a panel, drawing up a quick sketch or jotting down an idea as it comes to him.

“Right now it’s a little harder getting back into it because I’ve got to pull out my old drawings of the characters and all . getting back into drawing horses again, and people on horses, so it takes a little bit,” he said. “But I try to work on it every day.”


Information from: The News Advance, http://www.newsadvance.com/

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

From: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/nov/11/buffalo-soldiers-ride-on-through-comic-book-artist/

DC Black Label Adds ‘Watchmen’ and Other Classics to Library (Exclusive)

DC Black Label, the comic book imprint focusing on continuity-light evergreen comics featuring DC’s core characters, is more than a boutique line of new material from creators including Brian Azzarello, Frank Miller and Kelly Sue DeConnick. It’s also the new home for some of the most iconic titles in DC’s back catalog.

The line, which launched last month, will be responsible for new editions of classic titles, such as Watchmen, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and All-Star Superman, creating a library of titles immediately recognizable and accessible to newcomers to the medium as well as longtime fans. More than 20 new editions will be released in 2019 alone — including a new “Modern Classics” edition of Watchmen, featuring new slipcase art from co-creator Dave Gibbons.

“The DC Black Label line will house the best and most evergreen stories from DC,” publisher Dan DiDio told The Hollywood Reporter. “The company has a long history that includes some of the most recognizable and renowned storytelling in comics and we want to honor that history by putting them under one banner.”

The announcement of the DC Black Label library follows the release of the imprint’s first title in bookstores, the collected edition of Sean Murphy’s Batman: White Knight, last month. The release topped both the BookScan graphic novel bestsellers list — which tracks point-of-sales for book retailers including Amazon, Barnes Noble, Target and independent stores — and Diamond Comic Distributor’s graphic novel list, which tracks retailer order numbers for the comic book store market, for October; DC has announced the collection is going back to print for a second edition.

The imprint is continuing to move forward with new material, with the second issue of Batman: Damned due in December, and Academy Award-winner John Ridley’s The Other History of the DC Universe launching in January.

The full list of initial DC Black Label backlist releases, with release dates and format, is:

All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (Trade Paperback, Dec. 4, 2018)
DC: The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke (Trade Paperback, Feb. 19 2019)
Watchmen (DC Modern Classics Edition) by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (Hardcover, March 26, 2019)
Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross (Trade Paperback, Apr. 23, 2019)
Frank Miller’s Ronin by Frank Miller (Trade Paperback, May 6, 2019)
Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli (Trade Paperback, June 11, 2019)
All-Star Batman Robin, The Boy Wonder Vol. 1 by Frank Miller and Jim Lee (Trade Paperback, June 11, 2019)
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson (Trade Paperback, June 18, 2019)
Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again by Frank Miller (Trade Paperback, June 18, 2019)
Batman: The Dark Knight — The Master Race by Brian Azzarello, Frank Miller and Andy Kubert (Trade Paperback, June 25, 2019)
Luthor: 10th Anniversary Edition by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo (Hardcover, July 9, 2019)
The Joker: 10th Anniversary Edition by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo (Hardcover, July 9, 2019)
Batman: Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean (Trade Paperback, Aug. 13, 2019)
The Joker by Brian Azzarello: The Deluxe Edition by Brain Azzarello and Lee Bermejo (Hardcover, Sept. 10, 2019)
Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland (Trade Paperback, Sept. 17, 2019)
Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (Trade Paperback, Sept. 24, 2019)
Batman: Year 100 by Paul Pope (Trade Paperback, Oct. 8, 2019)
Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar, Dave Johnson, Andrew Robinson, Killian Plunkett and Walden Wong (Trade Paperback, Oct. 22, 2019)
Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale (Trade Paperback, Nov. 5, 2019)
Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean (Trade Paperback, Nov. 12, 2019)
Batman: Dark Victory by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale (Trade Paperback, Nov. 26, 2019)
Batman: Haunted Night by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale (Trade Paperback, Dec. 17, 2019)
Catwoman: When in Rome by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale (Trade Paperback, Dec. 31, 2019)

From: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/watchmen-frank-miller-coming-dc-black-label-1159766

DC’s Injustice tie-in comics are some of the decade’s best

Injustice: Gods Among Us — NetherRealm’s 2013 fighting game featuring the heroes of the DC Universe — opened with Superman murdering the Joker. Things just got darker and bleaker from there. The game was a hit, but for many comics fans, the authoritarian take on Superman and the Justice League was a step too far, earning Injustice a reputation of being home to a twisted version of the DC Universe.

And yet, the digital tie-in comic to the game spent its recently wrapped five-year run morphing into a love letter to DC Comics. The Injustice: Gods Among Us comic is one of the best superhero comics of the last five years. Yes, really.

Superman versus Batman and beyond

After the murder of the Joker, the Injustice: Gods Among Us game jumped forward five years into a future where Superman and the Justice League had become the “One Earth Regime,” an authoritarian world government that was opposed by a Batman-led Insurgency. The comic tie-in to the first game filled in that gap, revealing how the world fell so quickly to Superman’s rule.

The long scope of time, combined with the blank canvas of an out-of-continuity DC Universe allowed writers Tom Taylor and Brian Buccellato to do pretty much whatever they wanted — they introduced dozens of characters and plot-lines absent from the game.

Organized in long story arcs that were each set in a different year, featuring a different sub-section of the DC Universe standing against Superman, the book was a whistle-stop tour of DC’s every corner. From the Green Lantern Corps in space to the magical side of DC with Constantine, Zatanna and Detective Chimp and even the Gods of Olympus clashing with the New Gods of the Fourth World.

From Injustice 2, DC Comics.

Batman confronts Highfather of the New Gods.
DC Comics

Tom Taylor (All-New Wolverine, X-Men Red) isn’t the only writer to work on the Injustice comic, but he has spent more time in this universe than anyone, writing most of the prequel comics for Injustice: Gods Among Us and the entirety of the ones for Injustice 2, which are set in between the first and second games. It’s with Injustice 2 that Taylor and his collaborators — including Bruce Redondo, Daniel Sampere and Xermanico — really explored their version of the DC Universe, by digging into the aftermath of the first game.

If Injustice: Gods Among Us was about how the DC Universe can slide into a fascist state, Injustice 2 was about people willing to stand up and rebuild after its fall.

More than just a tie-in

Where the Injustice games were grim and dramatic, Injustice 2’s comic adaptation is hilariously funny; whether it’s Batman naming each item in an empty room that is actually Plastic Man’s son or a Green-Lantern-ring-wielding Lobo drop-kicking a Red Lantern cat across the galaxy, Injustice 2 doesn’t take itself too seriously. Particularly in the case of Batman, Injustice 2 embraces the Caped Crusader’s role as the straight man in a world of weirdness, especially when paired with the likes of Green Arrow, Harley Quinn or Booster Gold.

In many ways, Injustice 2 is reminiscent of J.M. DeMatteis, Keith Giffen and Kevin Maguire’s 1987 run on Justice League International, famous for being the “funny” Justice League book. Justice League International could be absolutely brutal to its characters, and the highs of the comedy only helped to make the lows of the tragedy that much more painful.

Injustice 2 follows proudly in that tradition; Booster Gold is often the comic relief, but you’ll cry as he grapples with the knowledge that even a time machine can’t give him the power to stop his friend’s death, only to be there for him at the end. Taylor follows Hal Jordan as he works through the guilt of his betrayal of the Green Lantern Corps, and makes it a genuine and sincere look at the effects of PTSD on a person with the ability to instantly create anything their mind can imagine.

Above all else, Injustice 2 feels like DC’s experimental and hugely successful weekly series 52, which placed D-List characters like the Question, Elongated Man and Steel in a world without Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Each issue built a feeling that the DC Universe was a living, breathing place where things kept ticking even in the absence of its greatest heroes. Injustice 2 does the same thing. Some issues might focus Superboy’s attempts to redeem the “S” shield — and some issues might focus on the blossoming romance between Killer Croc and Orca the Whale Woman. And there’s never a sense that Injustice 2 isn’t going somewhere or that what is happening doesn’t matter; a rare feat for the format.

From Injustice 2, DC Comics.

Killer Croc and Orca’s long-awaited wedding.
DC Comics

Injustice 2 casts aside any preconceptions you might have about the game franchise and the DC Universe, and boldly moves forward with a creativity and inventiveness unmatched in most mainstream superhero tales. Most of the stars of Injustice 2 don’t even make it into the video game, allowing Tom Taylor and his collaborators to do whatever they want, a freedom that drives the series’ best moments.

If you judged the world of Injustice based on what you knew about when the first game came out, I don’t blame you. I had no idea the comic was one of my favorite kinds of stories: A DC Universe filled with a network of superheroes who have friendships, relationships and a living history. Injustice 2 scratched that itch for me in a way nothing has in a long time. As a reader for whom the New 52 universe still lacks the shared history its previous incarnation, Injustice 2 hits that sweet spot. It’ll feel instantly recognizable to any longtime fan of the DCU — and instantly lovable.

From: https://www.polygon.com/2018/11/8/18073292/injustice-gods-among-us-tie-in-dc-comics

Comics Superstar Writer Grant Morrison Inks TV Deal With UCP

Universal Cable Productions has inked a deal with New York Times bestselling author Grant Morrison, a signature name in the American comic book scene since the 1980s and a writer with a flair for supernatural and sci-fi material that veers into surreal, absurdist and psychedelic territories.

With the studio deal, Morrison, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, will develop and produce premium original content for television networks as well as streaming platforms.

Production is already underway on Season 2 of Happy! — the subversive Syfy series that adapts the namesake Image Comics series launched n 2012 by Morrison and artist Derick Robertson. The show stars Christopher Meloni (Law Order: SVU) in the role of Nick Sax, a former corrupt cop living a bleak, decadent life as a hit man — until he meets a tiny, blue winged-horse named Happy (voiced by Patton Oswalt) The insufferably optimistic and hovering Happy becomes Sax’s companion but remains invisible to others. Executive producers are Neal Moritz, Pavun Shetty, Toby Jaffe, Meloni and showrunner Patrick Macmanus.

Morrison’s newest project with UCP is developing and writing the television adaptation of his long-running comic series The Invisibles, a near-future tale centering on an elite and mysterious international cell of occult freedom fighters who employ time travel, magic and more traditional weapons to defend our world from a covert inter-dimensional invasion by the Archons of the Outer Church.

UCP, in conjunction with Amblin Television, is also working with Morrison, Taylor and David Wiener on an adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s iconic sci-fi novel Brave New World. Set 500 years in the future, Brave New World presents a society where happiness is mandatory and forced by drugs, conditioning, entertainment and rigorous promiscuity. Morrison is both a writer and executive producer on the project.

Morrison joins notable names already on UCP’s overall deal roster, among the Sam Esmail (USA’s Mr. Robot), Nick Antosca (Syfy’s Channel Zero) and Gale Anne Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment (AMC’s The Walking Dead).

Morrison is a self-stylized shaman, music DJ and has the fashion sense of a super-villain — he essentially played one, too, as an actor in futuristic music videos made by the platinum-selling band My Chemical Romance. Morrison and artist Dave McKean delivered one of the biggest commercial successes in DC Comics publishing history with Arkham Asylum in 1989, a Batman tale that influenced the hero’s Hollywood films and gave name to the mega-selling video game franchise.

His other notable comics credits include All-Star Superman, Animal Man, Joe The Barbarian and Batman Incorporated.

Morrison’s nonfiction bestselling book Supergods was published by Random House in 2011 and de-constructs the mythology, meaning and literary ancestors of the American superhero. Morrison is also an award-winning playwright and in 2012 was presented with an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by the Queen for his services to film and literature.

He is repped by ICM Partners and Ginsburg Daniels.

From: https://deadline.com/2018/11/grant-morrison-happy-upc-invisibles-arkham-asylum-1202497993/

Grant Morrison: Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and the Return of …

Grant Morrison is once again exploring the DC Universe. While the celebrated writer has remained wary of committing to a monthly superhero book once again in the years since his turn on Action Comics in 2011-2012, he is still one of the most influential creators in the publisher’s staple. His 2014 limited series, The Multiversity, redefined how the central multiversal concept of the DC Universe operates, and it has echoed through recent books by other writers, including last year’s Dark Nights: Metal and the current ongoing Justice League series, for starters, but he still has plenty of work to do with some of DC’s heaviest hitters.

Morrison (with artist Yanick Paquette) recently released the second act of a Wonder Woman trilogy with Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 2, continuing a subversive, controversial story that revisits Diana’s origins as if she were created today, and putting all of the traditional elements of her legend in dialogue with modern events. This week sees the return (and possibly final appearance) of the New 52 version of Superman, who Morrison re-envisioned as a Siegel and Shuster-esque social justice warrior with a chip on his shoulder. This Superman, essentially eliminated from continuity by the events of DC’s Rebirth initiative, appears alongside more esoteric characters from the writer’s 2005-2006 Seven Soldiers multi-series, in a tale that picks up elements from Dark Nights: Metal in the first Sideways annual.

But the biggest news of the moment is his partnership with artist Liam Sharpe on The Green Lantern, a brand new series that puts Hal Jordan back at the forefront of the Green Lantern Corps. The cosmic weirdness of Green Lantern is a perfect match for Morrison’s vivid imagination, and Liam Sharpe’s intricate artwork is ideal for the light-based constructs of a Green Lantern ring. All three projects reveal different sides of the writer’s unique approach to the DC Universe, and however far out the concepts may appear, they’re always rooted in real world concerns.

Morrison was kind enough to explain it all to us…

Den of Geek: You’ve been describing The Green Lantern as a police procedural in space, but given the way you usually work on DC projects, that almost seems a little small scale compared to your work on All-Star Superman or Batman. Is there a point where this story zooms out and becomes something more universe shaking?

Grant Morrison: Well, no. I mean, by its very nature, I think a Green Lantern story is always gonna take place on quite a large canvas. This guy’s a protector of multiple planets and solar systems, so we’re always keeping that in mind. And when I say “police procedural,” it was simply to give the feeling that we’re scaling back from specifically “the universe is ending, this is the end, the entire Green Lantern Corps will be devastated, and it will be a terrible universal reset” sort of storyline.

We kind of wanted to say we’d gone back to basics with this. But naturally, a police procedural on a cosmic scale involves very big ideas at play. It’s just that it wouldn’t be the kind of apocalyptic threat to the fundamentals of the concept that it has been before.

Why is Hal the only Lantern that you felt could you could center this story around? Why not John Stewart, or Simon Baz, or somebody else?

Honestly, it wasn’t even that. Dan Didio came to me and actually said that he wanted to do this, and he wanted to do a Hal Jordan comic, and was I interested. As I famously said before, I was completely numbed. I never wanted to do a monthly comic book again.

But then I began to think of it, and it seemed that this was one of those kind of fundamental challenges. Green Lantern is one of the most basic superhero concepts. You can see where Batman came from, and it’s a bat. And Superman’s from another planet and it’s science fiction. But Green Lantern’s this very strange hybrid between old school science fiction and superheroes. So within minutes I was coming up with thoughts on what you could do with it. That’s what drove it initially, to just latching onto that basic concept and seeing where we could push it.

There are a lot of new Green Lanterns in that first issue as well. There’s Maxim Tox, and Floozle Flem, and there’s definitely a Green Lantern Corps element to this even though it centers on Hal. How important is it for you to play with these new Lanterns?

To a certain extent, Hal has been through so many different characters, by different writers. And that’s what I found interesting. I think to place him among a different group of Green Lanterns than the ones we often see in the books just allows us to bring a sort of different side to his personality in the way different people see him rather than the fact that we’re adding anything new.

We’re actually making the character a kind of composite of who he’s been over the decades. But certainly, each of the new Lanterns, I think, most of them actually have connections to previous characters. Maxim Tox, cousin was killed in the 52 series by me, and I also invented him, so I created and killed him in two panels. So, he’s got a connection to him. They all get connections. Generally, if I feel bad for a fallen or dead Green Lantern, I’ll create an equivalent.

This is such a design heavy book, both because of the nature of the powers themselves, and also because of the alien races. What’s it like working with Liam Sharpe? How closely do you have to work together to kind of get that look and feel? He’s known for such beautiful ornate artwork…

Obviously, that was one of the first things going in. Once I knew that Liam was on board and the idea was to make it quite different. We were trying to get a kind of a European look, so it’s somewhere between 2000 A.D. and French graphic novels. And there’s a lot of influences [that are] slightly different from the normal American comic book. Liam’s contribution was just so immense.

The more issues that have come in when I’m just throwing in these mad curveballs of alien worlds that can’t possibly be imagined and then Liam comes in with an entire double page spread of this thing fully realized. He’s really driving the desire to make the book a big spectacle and about light, and really about the colors and the explosions and the pyrotechnics and the incandescence of the Green Lantern concept as well.

It’s gorgeous.

His work’s amazing, and like I said, it’s kind of breaking boundaries for what a monthly superhero comic can do. I think it’s very different, and obviously there’s influences like I said from European comics, but also from cinema, and also from the golden age of science fiction illustration like Virgil Finlay and Kelly Freas. So there’s a lot of thought went into this to just do this quintessential science fiction space police book.

Did you suggest Liam for the book, or was he somebody that DC suggested?

No, we wanted to work together in something. We were kind wrangling over what it should be, and Green Lantern was kind of sitting on the table in between us and we hadn’t noticed. I think when we realized what we were gonna do, it was pretty quick, because we’d planned to work together anyway. He’s working now pretty far ahead, and every issue just gets better. It’s just more spectacular, and more ornate, and like I said, I haven’t anything like it in American comics for a long time.

You guys are together for 12 issues?

We’re together for 12 issues. We have other ideas, but we’re just trying to see how our schedules are gonna work in with it.

How did you end up getting involved with that Sideways annual?

Well, it was the same dinner with Dan Didio. It worked out pretty well. We came out with a couple of comics. Dan told me he was bringing back a couple of characters from my Seven Soldiers series, and also he wanted to kind of do a farewell to the New 52 Superman with the tee shirt and jeans, the kind of “blue collar Superman.” So, I said, “Yeah, I’ll help you out with dialogue.” He wanted it to be as authentic as possible dialogue to the characters, so I said, “Yeah.” I didn’t explain it. I just went in and wrote some crazy dialogue.

I really enjoyed that “blue collar” take on Superman, particularly the tee shirt and jeans issues. But I feel like that personality you helped craft for him in those Action Comics issues, it never really fully seemed to carry through to the other Superman books. Did you ever have plans to develop that era of the character more beyond that initial big New 52 origin story that you did for him?

No. I mean, I had the ideas obviously the more I thought about it. But it was a just at that time I was finding it quite difficult to do monthly comic books and everything else at the same time. So, to be honest, there wasn’t any kind of “lost stories” that I didn’t get to do. At least until Dan handed me this Sideways annual, and then I got to put some words back into the New 52 Superman’s mouth. So that was fun. It was good to revisit the character.

You’ve done the early days of Superman with those Action Comics issues and you did his end with All-Star Superman, and you’ve tackled his prime in JLA and Final Crisis. Do you feel that you still have more to say with any version of Superman?

No, honestly, it’s been weird, and I think there are stories to be told, but I kind of told my good ones a little bit. And I might come up with something else, but … They asked me to take part in things like Action Comics #1000, and the Batman one [2019’s Detective Comics #1000], but I’ve said so much with these characters that it seemed really difficult to condense it into a short story. And I’m in such envy of the people who do that so well.

further reading: Grant Morrison’s Superman  – A Reconfigured Reading Order

So for me, I kind of do think I’ve said my piece at least for now. But there’s a kind of looking at some of those characters from a really different angle in Green Lantern. I like if you can come in and look at them from a fresh perspective.

Does this mean that you anticipate your Green Lantern story, however long it ends up being, being your final word on the GL corner of the DC Universe?

We haven’t decided anything, but the thing I’ve got to say about Green Lantern we’ll be trying to say it in a run through. I think that’s the plan to really do it so that so it’s a kind of definitive take on it, at least from our point of view.

What are you listening to while you’re writing Green Lantern?

Oh, my God, every time people ask me this, I forget everything I’m listening to. I just kind of have boring playlists on rotation. So it’s all kinds of things, just different bits of punk rock, bits of classical music, weird choral music from the 1600s. The great thing about Green Lantern is that all the planets are different, and they all have different atmospheres. So if you’re doing the casino planet, I like to blast the Sonic the Hedgehog casino world music. Each of the planets has a different atmosphere and a different feel to it. It’s been fun, because it gives me a more diverse playlist.

Because I was getting kind of a Hawkwind vibe from when I was reading those issues

There’s definitely cosmic rock and psychedelia. I listen to that stuff while working and particularly because it’s Green Lantern you want to get those kind of influences in there.

With Wonder Woman Earth One: Volume Two, whose idea was it to make Dr. Psycho look like Nick Cave?

I think it came out weirdly enough just by chance, because I was talking to [Wonder Woman: Earth One artist] Yanick Paquette about it, and we were basically trying to revamp this character, who in the 1940s had been presented as quite a weird cartoonish tiny man with a gigantic head. But what he did have is this swept back mane of black hair.

So when we decided that we’re going revamp this creepy hypnotist of the 1940s as a kind of much more creepy, mind controlling, pickup artist type, we thought, “Well, let’s make him someone that could be attractive.” We kept the swept back black hair, and said he should be kind of ugly handsome, so have a look at people with bigger features, guys who look a bit rugged. And it came back and basically we caught Nick Cave. So, I guess, if they’d been describing Nick Cave running from the scene of the crime, that would’ve been the crime sketch.

And it’s funny that you used the term “pickup artist” there, because he talks very much like those types and alt-right personalities. You seem to avoid social media, which is probably healthy, but how much research did you do on the mind games that these guys play?

It was a lot. And there’s personal experience because I’d known guys like that, and I’ve had guys like that come into to my circle and seen how they operate. And then I went into it in detail. I played up a lot of stuff about NLP and body language back in the days of The Invisibles, so coming at it from that side, and then the weird mind control things tied into William Moulton Marston’s ideas about bondage and the Amazons using mind control.

My friend, who’s actually studied a lot of the pickup artists, she provided me with the actual script of how it’s done and the hand gestures and the movements. It was a pretty serious attempt to at least do a decent cartoon version of something like that. It’s a lot more subtle, a lot more devious than Dr. Psycho is, but we actually wanted to give kind of an idea how it worked.

There are two moments that really struck me. One is when Diana is addressing the crowd, and people are talking to her about these real world concerns, and it felt both like a commentary on how people would address Wonder Woman if she was real, but also like an indictment of how prominent the superhero has become in pop culture now. Later on she has that quote about how the gods are just embodiments of our ideals, or something like that. Can you speak to this a little bit, and the opposition to the people like Dr. Psycho? Because it didn’t feel like an “in story” moment. It felt like it was kind of talking to the audience as well.

Yeah, and this part of this particular story is the middle part of a trilogy. So it kind of was to a certain extent “The Fall of Wonder Woman” and The Empire Strikes Back. So, it’s the part where we show the way to fight back, and it’s gonna be a very different from what everyone thinks, or what they’ve seen before with Wonder Woman. We just wanted to show a different response to her, but we had to show the power and the hatred that was behind the assault in the first place, and that attempt to dominate and control but also to see the horrible mirror of that in the Amazons, and to see how does Diana go ahead from this, and somehow form a bridge between these cultures? Because that might be the only thing that works.

The story was written years ago, and it seems to have bled even more deeply into current headlines and current discussions, which is interesting. But again, all we did is pursue the spirit of Marston. The original Wonder Woman was always at the head of women’s marches, and was always talking about women’s suffrage, and was always politically engaged with the culture at the time. We just kind of brought that back, and I think we talked about issues a couple of years ago when it was written that have become a lot more hot button in the intervening years.

This story was written years ago, and your Superman was written back during the Occupy Wall Street era. Yet both of these, like you said, feel more prominent now. That attitude feels like we need it more in this horrible political climate that we find ourselves in right now. Do you think that these characters still have the power to influence positive change in people the way you used to?

Of course I think they do otherwise I wouldn’t keep getting involved with them. But it remains to be seen how that works out. But yeah, I still think they have the power to do that. I think it’s in the hands of writers and artists to allow them to express that. But it depends how we want to do it, and there’s lots of different ways to do that. I’ve erred more towards telling symbolic stories, or allegorical stories I think, and that just seems to be the thing that suits me about doing superheroes I think. They’re particularly well suited for having discussions on that kind of symbolic ideas Jungian level of culture. They work really well because they can actually punch ideas.

Do you think that maybe it’s time to revisit The Invisibles? Do you think that might be an even more effective movement for this point in history?

Yeah, I mean, I think it has a lot to say. I think it could be even more … I think what’s going on now is kind of more suited to the magical and occult ideas in The Invisibles, because we’re in the time of meltdown as far as the boundaries between reality and illusion is concerned. They have dissolved quite considerably over the past few years. And I think where we are now is a very pliable, weird, bizarre time. And I think that partly that accounts for the Monty Python-ish elements of Green Lantern. We kind of feel that the only way to fight the absurdity is with more absurdity to be honest.

A few years ago, you had brought up Multiversity Too: The Flash. Is that still possible?

It may be possible in the future. There were so many Flash stories suddenly being told, and it just seemed like another redundant Flash story. And it was quite a good little idea, but it wasn’t worth dedicating a year to writing which it may have taken. So, no, that one’s just kind of the back burner. One day it will get told, but not in the near future. We want to get him into Green Lantern at some point, because those two were always superhero friends and buddies. It would be good to get them together.

It would be great to see Liam drawing The Flash.

Well, that’s a nasty one. I can just think wouldn’t it be great to see Liam drawing? And then dot, dot, dot, and it can be any crazy thing and he has to draw it.

Multiversity was so influential, and obviously those ideas kind of broke off and spawned Dark Nights Metal and now that is a big thread in the current Justice League book, which often feels like it’s taking other inspirations from your old work on JLA. Did you ever expect that these would become so foundational for the DC universe in general, and for these younger creators?

Not necessarily. When you’re doing this stuff, you’re not thinking about it in those terms. It’s just “is it a good story? Do I feel fulfilled, and will it pay for cat food?” I’m never thinking about who it might influence, but it’s good to know.

I think when you’re working in something like the DC Universe, or one of these ongoing universes, of which there are a couple, but DC is one of the longest running, then it’s great to see people pick up ideas that you’ve left there deliberately in the hope that someone notices that flame flickering in the corner somewhere. And often my stuff wasn’t picked up on, so it’s actually been quite gratifying to see people come out then with new twists on different elements, because it was always meant to be part of a shared playground.

The Green Lantern #1 and Sideways Annual #1 are both on sale on Nov. 7. Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 2 is currently available.

Mike Cecchini is the Editor in Chief of Den of Geek. You can read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @wayoutstuff.

From: https://www.denofgeek.com/us/books/dc-entertainment/277449/grant-morrison-green-lantern-wonder-woman-and-the-return-of-blue-collar-superman

‘Supergirl’: Who Is Manchester Black?

After being mentioned in the season premiere, Manchester Black made his first appearance on tonight’s episode of Supergirl, “Ahimsa.”

Spoilers for tonight’s’ episode of Supergirl, “Ahimsa”, below.

In tonight’s episode, Manchester Black shows up at J’onn’s apartment looking for him in connection with Fiona’s disappearance. As it would happen, J’onn’s friend Fiona was engaged to Black and he is concerned that she’s apparently vanished. What neither man knows is that she was stabbed by Agent Liberty (Sam Witwer), but J’onn shares with Black the badge number he found putting them on the trail of a police officer who might be involved with her disappearance.

Played by actor David Ajala on The CW series, in comics Black is a dangerous and manipulative psychic and telekinetic. As the head of a team of self-styled superheroes known as The Elite, he sought to upstage Superman and the Justice League in “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Truth, Justice, and the American Way?”, his first comic appearance and a story that is widely considered one of the best Superman comics in the last quarter century.

Created by Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke, Black was so popular that he kept popping back up in the DC Universe though his opinions about how things should work put him at odds with the heroes. Black believes that the Justice League should be more brutal, and he has a particular dislike for Superman as he thinks that no one can be as genuinely good as he appears to be.


It’s a characterization that appears to be translating fairly well to Supergirl. While Black did team up with J’onn to try to find Fiona, her death was devastating for him. The last we see of Black in the episode, he’s buying a large cache of weapons and is likely set on avenging Fiona’s death. Time will tell just how Black will fit into the season and just how much trouble he will cause for the show’s heroine.

Supergirl airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.

From: https://comicbook.com/dc/2018/11/05/supergirl-season-4-who-is-manchester-black/

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