DC Comics: Anatomy of a Metahuman is another entertaining and informative title from Insight Editions. This is something that will appeal to teen readers and up. Whatever your level of knowledge of superheroes, particularly from DC Comics, this book is quite appealing. A “metahuman” can mean a lot of things and, in the DC Universe, it is a superhuman power. That includes the most prominent names like Superman and Aquaman as well as lesser know characters like The Cheetah and Martian Manhunter.
This book examines in detail, with bold illustrations, the powers of twelve characters. It’s an investigation carried out by, none other than, Bruce Wayne. So, Batman himself guides the reader through this top secret dossier. You never know what to expect with these metahumans, friend or foe. For the most part, these are villains. Some have gained in prominence since gracing the silver screen, like Bane and Doomsday.
Bruce Wayne doggedly pursues the secrets to Superman’s superpowers.
In the hierarchy of metahumans, it’s hard to judge the order of significance. Each can become a star within context. And often the most interesting things are going on with the least known. And, with that in mind, this book makes for an intriguing collection.
There is a fun and natural flow to this book. The reader will be delighted with the meticulous reporting by Bruce Wayne. He definitely gives it his all in attempting to dissect Superman. The reader will enjoy following Wayne’s obsessive search and question alongside him as he ponders such things as: “While it would explain many of his feats, is negative mass effect even the likeliest reason for his abilities?” In a sense, this dossier is a story within a story.
Wayne goes on to turn his attention to The Cheetah, Aquaman, and on down the line. This is a wonderful way to become more familiar with the DC Universe, all under the metahuman theme. Without a doubt, this is another great title from Insight Editions.
DC Comics: Anatomy of a Metahuman is a 160-page full color hardcover available as of September 18, 2018. For more details, visit Insight Editions right here.
French publisher Dargaud caused plenty of buzz when it announced last month a two-volume Batman graphic novel by legendary European comics creator Enrico Marini (Le Scorpion, Eagles of Rome, Gipsy). By itself, that is exciting news. But there was no news about a simultaneously published English version. Perhaps that was a secret that can only now be revealed. DC has just announced that it will be publishing this work, entitled, “Batman: The Dark Prince Charming.” Now, that’s some Batman news!
With this work, Enrico Marini will make his American comics and mainstream superhero debut. If you’ve seen his work for “Le Scorpion,” for instance, you can expect some cool swagger. And Batman will need all his confidence for this new story as he confronts his arch-nemesis The Joker. According to the DC press release, what distinguishes this story from other Batman tales is that this time, “it’s personal!” When has it not been personal when it comes to these two characters? Whatever the case, this time, Batman is…European! And let’s not lose sight of another character in this tale: Catwoman! I will have more to say about Catwoman in an upcoming post.
Here is the official description of the story according to DC:
What secret connection do both Batman and The Joker share with a strange and mysterious young girl? After she’s kidnapped by The Joker, Batman must plunge deep into the underworld of Gotham City and race against time to find out where she’s being held. The stakes are high, and for Batman, it’s personal!
MARINI’s GOTHAM CITY!
Pretty cool news however you spin it! Book one of Batman: The Dark Prince Charming will be in stores on November 1, 2017. Look for book two coming in spring 2018!
“How to Draw Sci-Fi Utopias and Dystopias” by Prentis Rollins
I want to share with you a book that really speaks to me as an artist and storyteller. I’d been meaning to write a review of it for quite some time and then it struck me last night as to what to say here. This is one of those books with the goal of art instruction that really gets it! And it is considerably helped along by its niche focus! Are you into science fiction? Would you like to draw work that perfectly fits into that genre? Well, then, here’s the book for you: “How to Draw Sci-Fi Utopias and Dystopias” by Prentis Rollins, published by Monacelli Press.
This is the ultimate guide for illustrators at all levels on how to fine tune their sci-fi imagery. You get the very best advice from Prentis Rollins, a DC Comics veteran (Rebirth, Supergirl, and Batman: The Ultimate Evil). Given the opportunity, I would love to pick his brain. But, let me tell you, this book is the next best thing as Rollins takes a very accessible and conversational tone throughout his instruction filled to the brim with examples. There are 32 step-by-step case studies in all created and imagined especially for this book.
Whether you are attempting to create a compelling utopia or dystopia, it all comes back to basics. Here is a book that goes through the building blocks all the way to sophisticated techniques to really rock your world. Rollins is certainly not alone in stressing a need to master the fundamentals before veering off to pursue your own thing. In fact, he implores you to not rely too heavily upon emulating the work of others. However, he also emphasizes the very real need to be inspired by others.
For Rollins, he has two main influences: American artist Syd Mead (Blade Runner, Star Trek: The Motion Picture); and the Swiss surrealist painter H.R. Giger (Alien). As Rollins is quick to point out, these two artists could not be further apart from each other. Mead is logical, clean, and rational. Giger is morbid and nightmarish. You could place one in the utopian camp and the other in the dystopian camp. And that falls well into the theme that Rollins pursues: a close look at science fiction imagery, both utopian and dystopian.
A utopian scene
Consider these examples, among the many you’ll find in this book. One shows you a scene more in the vein of Syd Mead.
A dystopian scene
While the other shows you a scene more in the vein of H.R. Giger. And, yet, both resonate a certain way of doing things that is all Prentis Rollins. And that, my friend, is the whole point of the book. I hope you’ll get a chance to pick up a copy for yourself or for someone you know who would get a kick out of such an impressive art instruction book.
“How to Draw Sci-Fi Utopias and Dystopias” is a 208-page trade paperback in full color. For more details and how to purchase, visit Monacelli Press right here.
Max Landis broke onto the scene with his indie cult hit movie from 2012, “Chronicle,” a subversive take on superhero tropes. That ultimately got the attention of DC Comics. Or maybe it was the parody short film Landis did that same year, “The Death and Return of Superman.” Landis has a take-no-prisoners approach in his critique on how DC Comics has managed Superman over the years. That led DC Comics to invite Landis to try his hand at writing a bit on ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN in 2014. And now, Landis presents his own limited series, SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN, which just completed its 7-issue limited run on May 18th. Let’s take a look at the last issue.
Granted, Superman is a very special case. As the most venerable comic book icon of all time, he is susceptible to being treated like a rare triple-mint (still in the box) action figure. You can easily end up with stories that are NOT stories but just confirmations on how awesome Superman is. That will placate a die-hard fan but it’s not worthy of a character with unlimited potential, right? You can place the Superman character is any number of situations, modulate the tone, get a little crazy too. In the end, without forcing it, focusing on a good story is how Superman stays fresh and interesting. That said, I really enjoyed reading the last issue to this limited series and I tip my hat to Max Landis and to the always dapper and cool artwork by Jock.
What I like here is the looseness and irreverence. The series is seven stories in various times in Clark Kent’s life. For this last story, Landis and Jock work as a tag team to bring you a classic final showdown between hero and villain. In this case, Superman battles Lobo from the planet, Czarnia. Lobo from Czarnia? It sounds snarky badass as well as whimsical, something a child might say while playing with a battered action figure. That alone tells you that Landis is playing with a fictional character, not a prized trophy, and trying to shake things up. And that’s really what we want to read more of with our Superman stories. Here’s to reading more Superman stories that challenge the status quo in the future!
SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN is well worth picking up when it is available as a trade paperback or, if you prefer, read the singles! For more details, visit DC Comics right here.
There was a time when comic books and graphic novels seemed like old-fashioned forms of fiction and entertainment. However, thanks in large part to a modern film industry that’s become obsessed with adapting these comics and novels, a whole new generation has become attached to them. Really, it’s been a gradual but fascinating development in popular fiction.
It begins with the films themselves. Since Iron Man debuted in 2008, the movie industry has been utterly dominated by superhero cinema. The Marvel Cinematic Universe now consists of over 10 films and will only grow larger in the years to come. This article reveals that the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War (due out in 2018) will include a whopping 67 characters from Marvel Comics. And it’s not just Marvel bringing comics to life on the big screen. DC Comics adaptations provide regular competition, and there have even been other prominent examples not related to the two publishing giants. For instance, popular 2010 superhero comedy Kick-Ass was based on a comic published by Icon (which to be fair is a Marvel affiliate), and movies like Sin City and 300 were based on Frank Miller works published by Dark Horse Comics. All of these films have helped to spark a renewed interest in source material among modern fans.
It’s also become particularly helpful that a number of the most prominent superhero movies have been based on very specific comics or graphic novels. For example, while a given Spider-Man movie might pull elements from several different comics and origin stories, some projects have essentially adapted screenplays from individual editions. This list ranked Frank Miller’s 1986 novel The Dark Knight Rises as the single best graphic novel out there, and millions of fans have now come to know it nearly 30 years later through the film of the same name. Likewise, Marvel has seemingly made a clearer effort to connect its own movies to specific projects. The aforementioned Infinity War movie will be based on a six-issue series of comics published in the ’90s, and this spring’s Captain America: Civil War actually pulls its story from one of the more modern chapters of Marvel lore, published in 2006-07. As long as movies remain so deeply rooted in comics, they’ll continue to spark new interest for younger generations.
But it’s not solely the movies that are helping to spread the word about some of the great comics and graphic novels out there. The gaming industry has also played a major role, largely through famous console-based titles like those in the Arkham Asylum series (which took its inspiration from a Grant Morrison graphic novel). But other areas in gaming have embraced the popularity of comic book characters, and in doing so helped to reach out to alternative audiences. This site is best known for catering to fans of casual casino games through offering a range of bingo, roulette and poker options to suit the genre. However, it’s also expanded to include slot and arcade games that invoke images and character names from popular comics and graphic novels. Iron Man and Batman are directly used, an “Amazon Queen” game implies a Wonder Woman connection, and even the Spartan 300 are used as thematic material for a game.
And then of course there’s the outreach to young kids, which is done differently now than in decades past. When comics and graphic novels originally rose to relevance, it was at least in part because there just wasn’t as much visual entertainment available. There was no regular television or film content, let alone any fit for children. Now kids have all kinds of other ways to entertain themselves, which means comics and graphic novels have lost what once may have been their greatest advantage. Still, there are a number of ways in which these characters and stories have been made available and appealing to kids.
Perhaps the most noteworthy development is LEGO’s partnerships with Marvel and DC to create gaming content that brings characters and storylines to life in a cartoonish manner. But on a more straightforward note, we’ve also seen comics and graphic novels made available electronically through app developers who recognize their new audience. Kids as young as two or three these days are learning to use smartphones and tablets, and parents now have the ability to load those devices with age-appropriate comic book material over time. It’s essentially modernizing the concept of a comic book.
Through all these developments, we’ve seen comics and graphic novels make a pretty remarkable transition into modern entertainment. And their popularity is only growing greater.
Wonder Woman. How well do you know her? What I love about this new book from Insight Editions is how accessible this great American icon has been made. Writer Matthew K. Manning and illustrator Paul Bulman have explored everything you’ve ever wanted to know and some things you may have thought you knew.
Each and every aspect of Wonder Woman triggers a new story. This book is all about sticking to canon. Manning does this by having Wonder Woman speak for herself in journal entries. For instance, we get a firsthand recollection of her growing up in Themyscira. Just to set the record straight, Wonder Woman explains, that whole thing about her being formed from clay was just a ruse. Her mom was having an affair with another god. Being born from clay sounded like a good idea at the time.
Think of this as a guidebook in a picture book format. There is a level of sophistication here that will appeal to fans of any age. Manning maintains an engaging conversational tone while peppering his narrative with bona fide comics facts, as in describing how Wonder Woman joined the Justice League; as well as integrating Greek mythology as in comparing superhero secret identities with Zeus incognito walking amongst mortals.
The beauty of this book lies within its crisp and concise structure. Add to that Bulman’s dynamic artwork, and you have a truly informative, entertaining, and compelling book. I leave you with one last example. Any fan will appreciate the four-page spread featuring all the gods in Wonder Woman’s orbit from the New 52 DC Comics universe. Very impressive for fans and casual readers alike.
“The World According to Wonder Woman” is published by Insight Editions. This is a hardcover 64-page book in full color priced at $16.95. For more details, visit Insight Editions right here.
It’s always a pleasure to share with you items from Insight Editions. Here’s an inventive and useful item for superhero fans, the Wonder Woman Ruled Journal. Before it gives way to blank ruled pages, you get a few pages of Wonder Woman fighting Cheetah. In the midst of battle, she drops her journal with her strategic notes. The rest is yours to fill with your own adventure.
The cover displays the Wonder Woman logo in silver against a red background with star patterns. The rugged and rubbery texture is reminiscent of a superhero costume. It is 192 pages, measuring 5.25″ x 8.25″. Who wouldn’t enjoy this distinctive journal? This is perfect for anyone on your gift-giving list. And, by the way, there’s a Superman version too!
Insight Editions is dedicated to creating the very best illustrated books focusing on photography, musics, and pop culture. They are one of my favorite publishers and I look forward to sharing more of their exemplary work with you.
The Wonder Woman Hardcover Ruled Journal is available as of May 19, 2015.
For more details, visit our friends at Insight Editions right here. You can also visit here, here, and here.
From “Wonder Woman: Earth One,” art by Yanick Paquette
It was this time last year that I posted about looking forward to Grant Morrison’s “Wonder Woman: The Trial of Diana Prince.” Well, now it would seem to be an even better deal as that story will join forces with Earth One, an ongoing series of graphic novels published by DC Comics which retells the earliest adventures of various DC Comics characters. These stories give each character a freshening up on their origin story and on an alternate Earth so that it is free from, as they say in the comics biz, “continuity restraints.” That means that these stories don’t have to answer to what has already been sort of set in stone in the official DC universe. So, it’s like maybe a dream and it never happened, or maybe it did, but probably not. In the end, a good story should result.
Earth One titles slated for 2015:
Superman: Earth One, Volume 1-2 and Volume 3 will be released February 10, 2015.
Batman: Earth One, Volume 1 and Volume 2 will be released May 12, 2015.
Teen Titans: Earth One, Volume 1 to be released in 2015.
Wonder Woman: Earth One, Volume 1, originally slated for a Summer 2014 release, now slated for 2015.
The Wonder Woman Earth One graphic novel will be well worth the wait, with Grant Morrison finally tackling his first full-length Wonder Woman story and with art by the wonderful Yanick Paquette, who has worked with Morrison on “Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne” and “Seven Soldiers of Victory.” For more details, visit our friends at DC Comics right here.
October sees a lot of Batman comics and “Gotham Academy” is one particularly good comic from DC Comics that you will want to check out. What is noteworthy about this one is it really strikes an authentic girl power chord. Every page rings true. You can thank the writing team of Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher. I recently interviewed Cloonan and, as you may know, she’s sure to deliver with girl street cred. Art by Karl Kerschl; Colors by GeyseR; and Cover artwork by Karl Kerschl. Everyone delivers the goods here.
President Superman of Earth-23 uncovers a threat to all Reality so apocalyptic it will take a team of incredible heroes from across the Multiverse to face it!
Let the above synopsis be your guide. The long-awaited Multiversity has arrived and all you really need to know you learned in grade school. You instinctively knew when a comic book was cool and fun. Say what you will about Grant Morrison but he’s always been about bringing back the cool and fun into comic books. This one feels right on par with the crisp relaunch of “Action Comics,” if not even better.