In case you hadn’t heard, the Avengers scored the second-best haul on opening day ever, is really popular with seemingly everyone except A.O. Scott, and led directly into Free Comic Book Day, where some comics were free. Forgive me, but I’m struggling to come up with anything particularly new to say about these events that wouldn’t qualify as spoilers. It was nice to feel an unforced “oh my God” come out of my lips at the reaction shot to the film’s final spoken line. Yeah, YOU know what I’m talking about, but, y’know, even some Comic Booked contributors haven’t seen the film yet.
What else happened in comics this week, though?
Darth Vader and Son Debuts. Jeffrey Brown, best known for sad and sometimes self-pitying autobiographical work, has turned out a sweet little Star Wars reimagining that’s been published by Lucasfilm, featuring a more relatable dynamic between one of Hollywood’s most dysfunctional father-son pairs.
MoCCA Continues. The indie-focused festival was bedeviled by a controversy over attendance this year: the organizer reported an increase of 1000 attendees, but many interviewed exhibitors felt there were fewer than last year. Sales were strong, however, and convention debuts My Friend Dahmer, Cleveland and The Order of Tales all generated some buzz. Dahmer is the true-life autobiography of someone who counted Dahmer as his friend before the latter became infamous. Cleveland is a posthumous Harvey Pekar project, and The Order of Tales is an 800-page fantasy webcomics collection.
The Return of G.I. Combat. Covered here.
Max Payne Comes to Marvel. The hard-boiled cop of two-going-on-three successful video games will have his backstory fleshed out in a Marvel comic. Payne already has a fair amount in common with the Punisher (losing both friends and family to violence), but by Max Payne 3 he’ll be overweight and alcoholic, a fate unlikely to befall Frank Castle. Video game heroes have been depicted in Marvel Comics before this, and may represent an area of expansion as the marketplace grows more digital.
MorrisonCon. Pros and cons weighed here.
Funky Winkerbean‘s Gay Prom. Funky Winkerbean is one of the comic strips most willing to tackle “tough” issues, to the point where wags have mocked it with the title Funky Cancercancer. So it’s suspenseful to see the series feature a gay couple’s desire to attend prom, because there’s a chance that things won’t end in simple acceptance.
The Black Superman. This is not quite the first appearance of Calvin Ellis, the Superman of Earth-23: he had a brief cameo in Final Crisis #7, but the only things to really grab attention from that series were the apparent death of Batman and its generally confusing nature. The story in Action Comics #9 puts him much more “front and center,” and offers not only some thoughts about a Messianic president like many believed Obama to be in 2009, but a surprisingly jaundiced view of corporate-owned superheroes, or at least their worst excesses.
Thrillbent Launches. Mark Waid’s experiment in digital storytelling actually launched this week. It’s early to judge, but Insufferable seems to be to Robin what Irredeemable was to Superman, with some clever usage of the medium buoying the story’s interest level but not really transforming it into something new. Waid’s willingness to experiment, even at the cost of his popularity with certain segments of comics culture, is to be praised, but the results can only be assessed in the long term.
The Return of Earth-2. “Return” is a qualified statement, of course. We’ve seen several “Earth-2s” from DC over the years, and honestly the labeling system gets a bit confusing at times. The longest-lasting Earth-2, though, was the one published in various comics from the 1960s through the mid-1980s. This “Earth 2,” like this one, featured versions of the biggest-name DC superheroes older and more experienced than the best-known versions. In the current incarnation, the difference in age is much less than in that one (maybe ten years), and the stakes are amped up considerably: it’s a world that’ll have to slog through without Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman, who perish in the opening story.