Mr. Stuffins Returns

Now I’ve never heard of this series about the secret agent teddy bear, but apparently his debut two years ago was quite popular. Now he’s back in a 3 ish mini, starting in April. Official press release below.

MR. STUFFINS IS BACK!
MY TEDDY BEAR’S A SECRET AGENT!
With covers by MOUSE GUARD’S David Peterson

mstuffins_001aMr. Stuffins returns featuring covers by MOUSE GUARD”s David Peterson! Written by EUREKA creator Andrew Cosby and EUREKA staff writer Johanna Stokes, MR. STUFFINS is a tale of intrigue and suspense, and all before bedtime! For fans of TOY STORY and BURN NOTICE, MR. STUFFINS will have you wondering if your toy’s kung fu grip is for real!

David Petersen of MOUSE GUARD acclaim will be supplying all the A covers for the entire three issue run. MR. STUFFINS #1 will be shipping this April.

MR. STUFFINS follows the saga of a talking teddy bear that has been accidentally implanted with a chip, granting him the skills of the deadliest secret agents and mercenaries on the planet! Mr. Stuffins has to protect his new owner, Zachary, as evil forces hunt Mr. Stuffins down to steal his powers. Can this super-secret teddy bear save the day?

The original first issue of MR. STUFFINS shipped nearly two years ago, in April of 2007. All over the country, the original sold out at convention after convention as fans asked the question, “When will issue #2 come out?” Unfortunately, a second issue didn’t follow. “It’s totally my fault, I’ll take the blame,” said BOOM! co-founder Ross Richie. “That year BOOM! really started to boom, and we grew out of control. Thankfully, Mark Waid came in as Editor-in-Chief in 2008 and helped us correct problems like this and get an infrastructure.” Now the bear is back in a completely re-drawn and re-colored first issue with all new art from Axel Medellin, on-time and on-schedule!

The first B cover features a re-colored version of the Joe Abraham original. The B covers for issues 2 and 3 are by Matt Cossin, who worked on METAL HURLANT.

“I’m thrilled to return to the story of MR. STUFFINS,” said MR. STUFFINS co-writer Andrew Cosby. “One of the reasons why EUREKA is so successful is due to its ability to blend the absurd with the realistic, turning the campy into a vehicle for entertainment and, if there’s time, maybe a serious message or two. MR. STUFFINS also scratches that itch!”

MR. STUFFINS #1 (New Edition) features two variant covers in a 50/50 split by David Petersen, Joe Abraham with a Diamond Order Code of FEB094133 and ships this April.

Robin #183 Review

Robin #183I’ve followed the adventures of the third Robin (Tim Drake) on and off over the last almost two decades, since Chuck Dixon and the late, great Mike Wieringo days. A relatable youth with real issues that come from school and family -and of course, crime fighting, Tim has always been one of DC’s great unsung heroes.

Not as good a martial artist as Dick Grayson, the first Robin (now known as Nightwing) or as driven by rage as former street kid turned Robin II turned corpse turned resurrected anti-hero Jason Todd, Tim made up for it in other areas. Discovering both Batman’s and Nightwing’s secret identities got the Dark Knight’s attention and after a gruelling world spanning time of training Tim became the latest aide to the Bat. He has a life outside of superheroics including high school, a few girlfriends over the years, and a healthy interest in life outside of spandex clad roof jumping combined with a wealth of tech knowledge. All these things set him apart from the other members of the growing Bat family. He’s never been as broody and always more friendly than his mentor.

And now, his adventures are over, at least in his current state. Issue #183 by writer Fabian Nicieza and artist Freddie Williams III, the creative team for a while on this series give Tim a fitting swansong. It may tie up loose ends too neatly and quickly, such as his break up with Zoanne, but it gives the right focus on his fellow crime fighters. Tim meets Jason in the Batcave after letting him loose from prison, where Todd walks into an unearthed chamber left behind by the ‘dead’ Batman in the Cave to hear Bruce’s farewell (he also created similar goodbyes tailored for his other sidekicks). Tim then has a cool fight with the always scary Lady Shiva, which is cool because of its simplicity. There’s a few cameos such as both the old and new Anarky and Detective Harper, but this issue wisely sets its sights on Tim and his thoughts on his past and future as one of Gotham’s best protectors, without giving any real answers as to his next direction.

There are hints about Tim’s future – either as Batman, Robin or Red Robin, as to be decided by Tony Daniel’s upcoming Battle for the Cowl mini-series. Lines like “I said I’d never become like Batman. Obsessed. Closed off. But now…I don’t know if there’s any other way,” and Nightwing’s line to Tim – “Tim, you know we’re going to be okay, right?” seem to hint that Tim may very well become Robin to Dick’s Batman. Or will Tim become Batman with former flame Stephanie Brown AKA Spoiler a female Robin once more? We’ll soon find out. The issue ends with a 6 page Origins and Omens back-up tale by the same great creative team that doesn’t give us any clues to Tim’s future. It’s a short adventure with Tim facing his mother’s killer in Haiti and facing hallucinations caused by the Dhalsim lookalike bad guy.

Tim Drake is a character deserving of his own series. No doubt we haven’t seen the last of him (nor Nightwing or Birds of Prey, whose series also end this month) but when he does reappear he may not be in the familiar red, black and yellow costume.

Download a preview of this ish here.

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Another New Marvel Toon

Hot on the heels of the upcoming Marvel Super Hero Squad cartoon, comes news of another new toon. However this one will be web-only at http://www.marvel.com. Check out the press release below, and the Christian Bale inspired teaser here.

Introducing “Marvel Super Heroes: What The–?!”-an all-new, all-original video series from Marvel.com.

Conceived in the tradition of comic book satires done in the mighty Marvel manner-including NOT BRAND ECHH and, of course, WHAT THE–?!-the first episode launches on Marvel.com (www.marvel.com) in early spring.

Wish the series was here already? Then check out the teaser trailer right now  and watch what happens when a hapless A.I.M. agent messes with M.O.D.O.K.’s scene! ‘Nuff said!

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IDW’s PDFs

I interviewed Eric Reichert for the first issue of Extra Sequential, regarding Eagle One Media’snew Street Fighter animated comics. Now, IDW is wisely getting in on the action and making some of their impressive titles available as downloadable PDFs through the company. Official press release below.

IDW Publishing, known for its wide array of comic books and graphic novels, has partnered with Eagle One Media to start a comprehensive backlist on the Web. Featuring a range of books from the Eisner-nominated artist and co-creator of 30 Days of Night, Ben Templesmith, to the Presidential Material: Barack Obama and McCain comics, to work by acclaimed artist Ashley Wood, each title will be available for download as a PDF for a minimal $1.99 fee.

250_gomtpbEagle One Media’s President, Eric Reichert, is excited about this new relationship. “Being able to work in partnership with IDW to make a significant number of their comics available for download to fans worldwide is a great opportunity for us. We’ve simplified the process so that comic fans can easily and quickly download complete PDF-style issues to their computer. They can also print the issues and save them to more than one computer if needed.

“Plus, with a sales price below the printed books, we give fans the opportunity to discover and try out comics which they may not have had access to in the past, in an innovative format. IDW joins our growing list of publishers who have made their comics and graphic novels available in our retail download store at: http://www.eagleonemedia.com.”

Chris Ryall, IDW’s Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, added “I love seeing our comics expand into areas that allow readers to sample books that are new or unfamiliar to them. Eagle One’s formatting is clean, quick, and easy for anyone who wants to read comics on their computer, and when you consider that you can download an entire issue of the 72-page Doomed magazine for $2, a great value, too.”

This pairing ushers in a brand-new platform for fans to enjoy IDW’s extensive backlist, with titles to appeal to a wide array of fans. Currently available for download are Blood-Stained Sword, Cobb, CVO, D’Airain Aventure, Doomed, Everybody’s Dead, Grumpy Old Monsters, Igor, Lore, Lost & Found, Pirat Tales, Presidential Material, ShadowPlay, Singularity 7, Snaked, and Zombies!: Feast. This already impressive backlist will be frequently updated at Eagleonemedia.com.

I Watched Watchmen – Now What?

Now this is a good idea DC! A hearty pat on the back from me to you. Watchmen opens next month in cinemas everywhere, but it’s really only fanboys that know, and revere, the classic 12 issue series from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Many cinema goers won’t necessarily have any idea of the film’s roots as a classic revolutionary epic. Official press release below regrading a wise incentive that will hopefully change that.

DC COMICS ANNOUNCES “AFTER WATCHMEN, WHAT’S NEXT?” PROGRAM

watchmen_poster2The excitement surrounding the upcoming WATCHMEN feature film has brought new readers to the graphic novel format. Now that they’ve read WATCHMEN, where do they go next? Help point them in the right direction with DC Comics’ “AFTER WATCHMEN, WHAT’S NEXT?” program. 

DC Comics has developed a marketing campaign that spotlights several award-winning, best-selling titles from our various imprints. Each book reflects an aspect of WATCHMEN’s broad appeal — including other works by Alan Moore, science fiction tales, post-modern super hero action and sophisticated titles for mature readers — and is a great entry point for both new fans just discovering graphic novels and established readers looking to try something new.

The program is supported by an extensive marketing campaign including five promotionally-priced reprint Specials which are rush solicited below. 

The marketing campaign includes:

Five “AFTER WATCHMEN, WHAT’S NEXT?” Specials featuring a cover price of just $1.00:

• SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #21 SPECIAL EDITION 
• TRANSMETROPOLITAN #1 SPECIAL EDITION 
• PLANETARY #1 SPECIAL EDITION 
• PREACHER #1 SPECIAL 
• IDENTITY CRISIS #1 SPECIAL 

Please see below for more information on these Specials. 

Print:
• 32-page booklet to be given away at conventions, comics shops and book stores
• House ads in the DC Universe, Vertigo and WildStorm titles
• Editorial page promotions in Vertigo: On the Ledge, DC Nation and WildStorm Stormfront columns
• Trade ads

Online:
• E-mail Blasts
• National Consumer Online Banner Advertising Campaign
• Retailer Tools on DC Comics retailer page on diamondcomics.com
• Checklist, Header Card, Shelf Talker and Bag Slick
• Bag Stuffer for DC Retailer page for Direct Market retailers

Identity Crisis #1Social Networking:
• AFTER WATCHMEN, WHAT’S NEXT? MySpace Group
• AFTER WATCHMEN, WHAT’S NEXT? Facebook Group

Conventions:
• Ad pages in Convention Program Guides
• 32-page Booklet distribution at DC booth
• Bookmark distribution at DC booth

DCCOMICS.COM:
• Website at www.readwatchmen.com
• Showcase titles on the homepages of DC, WildStorm and Vertigo throughout February, March and April to capture new WATCHMEN readers
• Articles on DC, Vertigo and WildStorm homepages

Co-op:
• Co-op Movie Slide
• Co-op Ad Slick

**********

DC COMICS RUSH SOLICITS FIVE “AFTER WATCHMEN, WHAT’S NEXT?” SPECIALS

Tying into the new “After Watchmen, What’s Next?” program, DC rush solicits five key titles priced at just $1.00 each! 

These titles will arrive in stores weekly beginning March 11, and prominently feature the “After Watchmen, What’s Next?” branding and trade dress. Each is offered to all Diamond retailers at a special “C” discount code of 60% off. 

Retailers may order these issues by contacting their Diamond Customer Service Representative or DC Sales Representative, or by email atreorders@diamondcomics.com

The “AFTER WATCHMEN, WHAT’S NEXT?” Specials are:

SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #21 SPECIAL EDITION (JAN098009)
Written by Alan Moore
Art by Stephen Bissette & John Totleben
Cover by Tom Yeates
On sale March 11; 32 pg, FC, $1.00 US • MATURE READERS
Final Order Cutoff date: February 19

TRANSMETROPOLITAN #1 SPECIAL EDITION (JAN098010)
Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Darick Robertson & Jerome K. Moore
Cover by Geof Darrow
On sale March 18; 32 pg, FC, $1.00 US • MATURE READERS
Final Order Cutoff date: February 26

PLANETARY #1 SPECIAL EDITION (JAN098011)
Written by Warren Ellis
Art and cover by John Cassaday
On sale March 25; 32 pg, FC, $1.00 US
Final Order Cutoff date: March 5

PREACHER #1 SPECIAL EDITION (JAN098012)
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Steve Dillon
Cover by Glenn Fabry
On sale April 1; 48 pg, FC, $1.00 US • MATURE READERS
Final Order Cutoff date: March 12

IDENTITY CRISIS #1 SPECIAL EDITION (JAN098013)
Written by Brad Meltzer
Art by Rags Morales & Michael Bair
Cover by Michael Turner
On sale April 8; 48 pg, FC, $1.00 US
Final Order Cutoff date: March 19

Christian Bale Parodies

Man, poor Bale. The English born actor’s recent tirade on the set of the new Terminator flick has already been lampooned on Family Guy in an upcoming episode, as well as in the teaser for the new Marvel Super Heroes: What The?!. The series looks like a more upmarket Robot Chicken, with ‘animated’ action figures. The trailer has big-faced baddie M.O.D.O.K shouting at an A.I.M agent. It’s not as funny as the Family Guy one. Hopefully the series will be, but there’s no details about it as yet. In related news the upcoming kid’s toon, Marvel Super Hero Squad has 26 episodes heading to the Cartoon Network later this year.

Groom Lake #1 Review

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My latest review is up at Broken Frontier. It’s all about a unique four issue mini-series from IDW Publishing that centres on UFOs, government cover ups and all that craziness.

Written by Chris Ryall, with art by Perth lad done good, Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night) it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

The first issue is released in March, but for people who find The X-Files too serious and Men In Black not gory enough, this is the book for you!

Check out my full review here.

Comic Art Exhibition

It really is a small world after all. Today at lunch, I nipped into the recently re-opened Quality Comics and happened to meet a fellow comics fan who’s just started the first comic book art gallery in Western Australia. Way to go, I say. Details are below the awesome Howard Porter JLA art. It opens this weekend and runs until March 22. Check it out if you’re a local, as we need to encourage such bold endeavours, to show people that comics really are art.

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The Darkness #75 Review

dk075_covs_page_3In what could be perceived as a stand alone tale, there is also the sense that this milestone issue for The Darkness reflects upon its past and throws it forward into a bleak future, yet one not without hope.

Writer Phil Hester seems to be enjoying himself more than usual in this issue, titled Absolute Darkness. Fans of the multitude of future X-Men stories will lap this stuff up, as will fans of The Darkness – obviously. This is the 75th issue of Jackie Estacado and his crazy adventures, if you consider all three volumes of this title since launching way back in 1996. That’s an event worth celebrating, and I have to say when the series debuted back in those wonder-filled days of the 90s I certainly didn’t expect it to last this long. I’m very happy to be proven wrong though. Over the decade it’s been published, it has gone from more than just a morose long haired hitman with evil powers book, to an engrossing world building epic.

dk075_covs_page_4This special anniversary issue basically sees Jackie peering into his future, or a possible future, as he begins to understand the powers he has could be devastating. The choice will be his. With cameos from familiar characters in the Darkness universe, Jackie is now an old man, with flowing grey hair and few friends. The world is a desolate place filled with the typical betrayals and battles that seem to follow Estacado wherever he goes.

I can’t really say much more than that, but regular readers of this title will get more out of it. However, fans of eye candy will certainly be pleased too.  With issues like this, where different artists are brought on for the celebration, the wealth of pencillers can sometimes give the book a hodge podge feel. This isn’t the case here. With only a few pages to work with each artist brings their best, and scenes are wisely chosen for each of their strengths. From Matt Timson (Impaler) to Dale Keown (Hulk) to a host of others, your eyes are treated with a variety of styles; each one a thing of dynamic beauty. 

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War of the Witchblades

Official press release below, regarding another milestone issue for one of Top Cow’s most famous titles (following The Darkness #75). 

wb125_cov_cTop Cow Productions, Inc. proudly announced today that the company’s flagship title, Witchblade, will reach issue #125 in March 2009, and the publisher will celebrate this landmark event with an oversized issue including a bonus story. Witchblade #125 brings the series’ critically acclaimed team of writer Ron Marz and artist Stjepan Sejic together to begin the six-part story arc “War of the Witchblades” which the publishers note is the biggest and most ambitious plot they’ve attempted with their flagship character.

Following the events of 2008’s First Born, the Witchblade was split into two halves and the responsibilities split between long time bearer Sara Pezzini and newcomer Danielle Baptiste. Up to this point, Sara and Dani have worked together and developed a sisterly relationship, but that will all change beginning in issue #125. Witchblade #125, which will wrap up long standing plot conflicts Ron Marz has been adding to Witchblade since he first took over writing duties for the series in 2004 with issue #80, will begin a new era for the comic that the publisher aims to refresh the series for long-standing readers as well as make an attractive jump-on point for new readers unfamiliar with Witchblade. Sejic and Marz have committed themselves to working on Witchblade as the core creative team through issue #150. Sejic has been the regular artist for Witchblade since issue #116. Artist Chris Bachalo (Uncanny X-Men, Amazing Spider-Man) joins Marz and Sejic for Witchblade #125 to contribute a two-part cover variant featuring protagonists Pezzini and Baptiste. A third cover by Sejic will also be offered.

Witchblade, which has been translated to TV as TNT’s #1 original film of 2000 and its subsequently successful TV series, has been Top Cow’s longest-running series. “Writer Ron Marz continues to plow up so much new ground on Witchblade that I’m beginning to suspect that rather than using a keyboard to pound out his scripts, he might actually be utilizing a 40-ton earthmover instead,” attests comic book talent Terry Austin (Uncanny X-Men). Jim Cheung, artist of Young Avengers and New Avengers comments, “With compelling stories by one of my favorite writers, and astonishing artwork that makes me want to tuck myself into a corner and cry, I can’t think why Witchblade shouldn’t be on everyone’s reading list.” Witchblade #125 will also feature a bonus story written by Rob Levin (Darkness: Butcher) and Marco Castiello (Secret Invasion: Frontline).

Batman #686 Review

batman686Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert – that’s a dream team of comics creators right there. Last week they launched Batman #686 from DC which is the first of a two parter looking back at Batman’s life.

Yep, in case you haven’t heard – he’s dead. Probably. Check out my review of this issue at Broken Frontier here.

The curious can pick up the Alex Ross or Kubert cover right now. The conclusion will be in Detective Comics #853 which goes on sale on March 15.

Zombie Tales #11 Review

zombietales_011a_3Proving again that the number of tales starring the undead is limitless, BOOM!’s latest issue of its zombie anthology offers another diverse trilogy of zombie action.

Kicking things off is a Civil War adventure in which the forces of the South are cut off and facing certain defeat, until a surprise turn of events gives them a much greater advantage. The weary General is called to witness a dead child who is raised to life thanks to the witchery of a slave woman. This gives the South an edge in battle and they use the corpses strewn across the battle field one more time. Writer Ralph Soll and artist Unai give this nice tale with a twist a great approach, with an easy pace and suitably grimy art, reminiscent of Kyle Hotz.

The second short story is the conclusion to the 2061 saga, by writer Kim Krizan and artist Jon Reed. The central conceit of this mini-epic is that zombies are mutated cannibals and are now running earth. Humans are mere pets in this new society and live primarily as slaves and gladiators for their undead masters. It could easily be a mini-series by itself, especially with scarily amusing touches such as humans in a meat market, or in cages below “1/2 Off Veal” signs.  In this finale a group of humans manage to escape from the gladiator pit, leading a makeshift revolt which causes the zombies to shuffle off. They are then chased outside of the city, thrown off a cliff and into the heart of a nuclear reactor. That’s when things get slightly confusing. What appears to be the leader of the human army throws herself into the zombie filled pit because “if it comes into contact with normal particles it will spark a reaction!” Um…okay. Well, that’s what happens which then in one last moment of “what the?!” the horde of zombies appear to travel through space and time to 2061 B.C. It’s a rather stifling end to what has been a grand concept.

The last story, entitled “Population Control,” is written by Bryce Carlson with art by Axel Medelin Machain. Set in the town of Adler Creek, it centres on two life long friends amidst a dwindling population. Jules and Benton eventually have a disagreement about staying in their hometown or leaving, with the survival of both sun scorched men on the line. So they do what best friends should always do – make sacrifices for the other one.

The art in this issue is similar between all three stories. It’s not highly polished, but it works in the zombie context. This issue is not the best of the series, but as a whole Zombie Tales is always a pleasant surprise in this era of comic book decompression. Instead of long, drawn out epics lasting years, BOOM! wisely give us a snack-sized alternative.

For a preview of this ish, go here.

Paul Sizer Art

I interviewed writer/artist Paul Sizer about his latest project B.P.M for the first issue of Extra Sequential, and he continues to belt out great work. Below is a pic of Loo from Paul’s graphic novel, Little White Mouse. If you want to see more of his work, head on over to his site or his sweet DeviantART gallery.

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If you happen to live near Michigan, you might also want to check out the man himself, as he takes part in a panel for Michigan comics. Details below.

Michigan Comics: Mirth, Mockery, and Mayhem From the Tri-Coastal State show at Eastern Michigan University. Paul will also have 3 pieces that will travel with the show when it goes on the road.
Here’s the info for the event:
March 31- June 5
Michigan Comics: Mirth, Mockery, and Mayhem From the Tri-Coastal State
University Galler
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Reception: Tues., March 31, 5-7 p.m.

“Michigan artists and writers have created a significant body of cartoons and comics that is distinctive for its quality, inventiveness and variety. Unprecedented in its singular focus on the accomplishments of Michigan artists, this exhibition will be comprised of editorial cartoons, gag panels, comic strips and comic book art by fifty contemporary creators in the field, providing viewers with a opportunity to see the actual artworks instead of viewing them as reproductions in newspapers, magazines and books. Included in the exhibition are works by Dave Coverly (SPEED BUMP), Cathy Guisewite (CATHY), Jim Starlin (WARLOCK) and Mike Thompson (DETROIT FREE PRESS).”

Panel Discussion
Tues March 31, 7-8:30 pm. Student Center Ballroom B
Moderated by EMU professor, Dr. Richard Rubenfeld, this symposium will feature a panel of comic professionals, including Dave Coverly, creator of SPEED BUMP and Paul Sizer creator of B.P.M.

X-Men Noir #4 Preview

Now I can’t say I’ve been following this series of Noir titles from Marvel. Basically these different mini-series recasts familiar characters,  like the X-Men, Spider-Man and Daredevil in the world of noir films and books, ie, a world filled with tough talking gangsters from the 40s and 50s. This title seems to be getting good reviews though, thanks to writer Fred Van Lente and the moody artwork of Dennis Calero. The conclusion to the X-Men reinterpretation goes on sale on March 11. By the way, if you don’t know how to pronounce noir (“nwar”) or what it is exactly, go here.

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