Peter and Wally Return, Michael Debuts

Peter Parker is Spider-Man. “Of course he is,” you say! “Everyone knows that!”

Well, let me clarify. Peter Parker is Spider-Man – again.

For the last year, Doctor Octopus has been secretly running (and swinging) around in Peter Parker’s body, while Parker has been desperately trying to reclaim it. It was a bold and controversial move at the time, but after 25 issues of the re-named “Superior” Spider-Man, plus two spin-off titles, and a surprising amount of critical praise and fan acceptance, Peter is back in costume in April’s Amazing Spider-Man #1.

Read a great interview with the writer of all this Dan Slott right here.

Amazing Spider-Man 1

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The Andy Warhol Museum’s Alex Ross Exhibition

Until January 8 2012 you can catch an exhibition of over 130 pieces from painter Alex Ross’ great comics work. Known for Marvels, Kingdom Come and a whole lot of gorgeous covers over the years, (mainly for Dynamite these days) Ross is a wonderful talent.

The Andy Warhol Museum is in Pittsburgh and here’s all the official info.

Paintings and sketches from his early career from projects like Marvels and Kingdom Come will be included, as well as works from more recent projects, such as JusticeFlash Gordon, and Green Hornet.

Showcasing the heavy influence of American illustration and Pop Art on Alex Ross, works by Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell, Andrew Loomis, and JC Leyendecker will be included.  Many of Lynette Ross’ artworks will be on display as well.  Also on view will be Myths prints created by Warhol, featuring many of the subjects of Alex Ross paintings – Superman, Uncle Sam, and the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz.  Since Warhol was a huge comic book fan, we will also have a selection of comic books and related paraphernalia collected by Warhol throughout his life.

This exhibition will be the first museum exhibition of Ross’ work and will comprise 5,500 square feet of gallery space.  Ross has graciously offered to prepare an original artwork for The Warhol to promote this premier, which will be available to the public in poster form exclusively at The Warhol Store.

The Phantom From Dynamite

Alex Ross loves his old-time superheroes, as is evidenced by his work on DC’s Justice series with Jim Krueger who he also worked with on Dynamite’s Project Superpowers. Now he’s going back to one of the original superheroes, Lee Falk’s The Phantom. The classic character had a recent (and unsuccessful) stab at re-invention for a TV pilot, but this new series from Dynamite looks a lot more interesting. Scott Beatty scripts the new book with Eduardo Firagto as artist, with Ross offering creative guidance. The Last Phantom debuts in August. Get more details about the series here.

Rough Justice Review

I’m getting into art books lately, and there’s quite a few coming out in the next few months, including those focused on Adam Hughes and Jim Lee. Staying in the DC family is this handsome collection, with the full title of Rough Justice: The DC Comics Sketches of Alex Ross. The American painter has carved out a niche for himself over the last 2 decades with his realistic work portraying the power and dynamism of spandex clad icons. DC has been blessed with the majority of his output, with covers for Superman and Batman, as well as series such as the future-set Kingdom Come and nostalgia-laden Justice. It’s the latter which takes the bulk of these 224 pages, but there’s plenty of other pieces for the Ross fan, or simply those who like staring at great art. That’s the beauty of Ross’ work. It shatters the confines of the comic shop. I took this dazzling tome to work today and the few people I showed it too were almost drooling.

Designer Chip Kidd who has worked with Ross before on his similar Mythology book here guides the layouts and appearance of the content. It may be tempting to think that he doesn’t have much to do as Ross’ work speaks, or shouts like Brian Blessed, for itself. However, after a few reads (you won’t be satisfied with just one) you’ll realise that the variety is a key part of the book. Going with the “rough” theme, you won’t find many of Ross’ trademark glossy paintings, but what you will find is a treasure trove of character sketches, draft cover layouts, action figure designs and costume re-designs. It’s that latter aspect of Rough Justice that long-time DC fans will find most appealing.

Before All-Star Batman and Robin became what it was (insert joke here) Ross went to artist Jim Lee with his new Robin design, involving a hooded cape and scale armour, a la Aquaman and Captain America. Martian Manhunter looking like a tentacled Spectre, a sleek Atom, Nightwing and Flamebird from Return to Krypton and other rejected character re-designs, including Dick Grayson as Batman, are presented here. Ross’ passion for the Marvel Family shows in a series of great art pieces for a 2005 proposal for new Shazam adventures, which surprisingly yet fittingly involved Black Vulcan from the 1970s Super Friends cartoon.

Kingdom Come, Justice Society, logos, posters, TPB covers and more are also highlighted, as are a proposal entitled Batboy, Grant Morrison as Brainiac and brief comments from the man himself. Really, Ross’ pencils are so tight they they can’t really be called sketches, and any page in here could proudly hang on a wall.

Rough Justice is available now from Pantheon, and there’s a brief interview with Ross over at CBR here.

Flash Fanatic

flashgordon alexrossSo apparently Frank Miller’s next film project after The Spirit, which opens on Christmas Day, will be Buck Rogers. That’s not very exciting really. The Sin City and 300 creator has a deft visual hand to be sure, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to box office mojo. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Spirit doesn’t set cinema screens ablaze, and if it doesn’t maybe he won’t get Buck Rogers after all.

A better choice would be Flash Gordon. He’s not as old as the Buckster, but is much more recognisable. (Even if non-geeks do confuse him with DC’s The Flash). The 1980 film starring Sam Jones and Timothy Dalton was glorious, especially with the unforgettable Queen soundtrack. Plus the classic character is on a high at the moment. Superstar painter Alex Ross is a fan and even helped BifBangPow! with their Series 2 figures based on the film, which you can pre-order now.


There’s also the excellent new series by Ardden Entertainment. The next issue, #4 is out next month and features Flash, Prince Thun, and the blonde Arborian ranger Eldun invading the Hawk Men’s floating prison city  to rescue Dr. Zarkov. It also features Prince Barin in the icy land of Frigia and Dale and Ming getting a little too cosy.

Really, Flash Gordon is begging for a film re-make. Just not by Frank Miller.