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Marko Djurdjevic // Marvel Comics
Marko Djurdjevic // Marvel Comics

The 5 Most Interesting Comics of the Week

Marko Djurdjevic // Marvel Comics
Marko Djurdjevic // Marvel Comics

Every week I write about the most interesting new comics hitting comic shops, bookstores, digital, and the web. Feel free to comment below if there's a comic you've read recently that you want to talk about or an upcoming comic that you'd like me to consider highlighting.

1. HELLBOY IN HELL #10

By Mike Mignola and Dave Stewart
Dark Horse Comics

Dark Horse Comics

This week, Hellboy in Hell #10 marks Mike Mignola’s final Hellboy comic. Only time will tell whether it will be the last comic the character ever appears in, but Mignola has essentially announced his own semi-retirement with this issue, planning to move away from comics to focus on painting.

Issues of Hellboy in Hell have trickled out slowly over the past few years yet no one—Mignola included—really expected it to come to an end so quickly. Reading the series has been a treat for Mignola fans, and it's a great way for him to say farewell to the character he created 23 years ago.

2. TALK DIRTY TO ME

By Luke Howard
Adhouse Books

Adhouse Books

Emma and her husband move to a new city with dreams of a fresh start. While her husband starts his new job, Emma finds an ad for a sex hotline hiring new operators, tapping into some complicated feelings she has about pornography and repressed female sexuality. The shy, reserved Emma seems an unlikely candidate for the job, but could taking it mean a move towards sexual empowerment?

Talk Dirty to Me is Luke Howard’s first major graphic novel after producing a number of acclaimed mini-comics. It is being published by Adhouse Books, which is known for promoting young talent like Howard. A comic about sex can easily teeter into cliché and moral preachiness, but Howard steers clear of cheap titillation and banality with some interesting storytelling choices that make the moral argument purely an internal one for Emma.

3. CIVIL WAR II #1

By Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez and Justin Posner
Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics

Comic publishers haven’t always created great synergy with Hollywood. There was a time when a movie would be released without clear comics options for excited new readers, but Marvel seems to have covered every angle with this week’s release of the first issue of Civil War II, the sequel to their 2006 mini-series that was the inspiration for last month’s hit film Captain America: Civil War. Now that everyone has had the chance to see the movie a couple of times, they may be interested in seeing the superhero-on-superhero conflict play out in a new way, and Marvel is ready to deliver.

The conflict in both the film and the original series revolved around requiring superheroes to register with the government and divulge their secret identities. This time around, the conflict arises over the morality of prosecuting crimes before they happen. When a new Inhuman with the power to see the future arrives on the scene, the question of whether to use his powers to alter the future draws a dividing line between Iron Man and Captain Marvel. This series will run for 8 issues and, as is always the case with these kinds of series, will be so big that it crosses over into just about every other Marvel Comic being published during the length of this series.

4. BIRTH OF KITARO

By Shigeru Mizuki
Drawn & Quarterly

Drawn & Quarterly

Canadian publisher Drawn & Quarterly has been tirelessly working to bring the works of the late Shigeru Mizuki to Western readers. Previously, they've focused on his history-based books like the four-volume Showa: A History of Japan or last year’s translation of his biography of Hitler, but Mizuki was most famous in Japan for his all-ages horror comic GeGeGe no Kitaro. Mizuki’s Kitaro stories are creepy but comical adventures about a young boy of yōkai origin (supernatural ghost creatures of Japanese folklore) who finds himself in monster-of-the-week style adventures. One of the most popular children’s manga in Japan, it has inspired adaptations in many formats including anime, live action films, and video games.

D&Q’s all-ages graphic novels typically skew towards offbeat international offerings like this (see also their Moomin and Pippi Longstocking collections). They previously published Kitaro compilations, but Birth of Kitaro is the first in a seven-volume series that will collect all of the Kitaro stories and package them in an affordable, digest-sized format. The seven stories collected here were all originally published in the 1960s, including the title story that shows the origin of our young hero and introduces us to his father, a zombie who is reduced to a walking eyeball that still manages to be an over-protective dad.

5. BATMAN REBIRTH #1/SUPERMAN REBIRTH #1/GREEN LANTERNS REBIRTH #1/GREEN ARROW REBIRTH #1

DC Comics

DC Comics

After last week’s DC Universe Rebirth #1, DC’s new status quo begins with four #1 issues for Batman, Superman, Green Lanterns (note the plural) and Green Arrow. While the publisher is going to be relaunching most of their titles over the summer, they are not “rebooting” the continuities, meaning readers will find that these four comics mostly carry on with what has come before (but with new creative teams and a mandate to make the comics more heroic and hopeful).

Batman: Rebirth follows Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s best-selling run on the flagship Batman title by adding DC’s hottest new writer, Tom King (Sheriff of Babylon, Omega Men) as Snyder’s co-writer.

After killing off the “New 52” version of Kal-El in last week's Superman #52, Superman: Rebirth deals with the fallout and begins to move ahead with replacing him with his married, bearded pre-"New 52" counterpart.

Green Lanterns: Rebirth warns that the Earth is facing a threat dire enough that it’s necessary to hand out another ring to an Earthling to defend Sector 2817. And in Green Arrow: Rebirth, DC’s classic romance between Green Arrow and Black Canary is reintroduced for the first time since the characters were rebooted in 2011.

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DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
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The Dark Knight Is Returning to Theaters, Just Ahead of 10th Anniversary
DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Believe it or not, July 18 will mark the 10th anniversary of the release of The Dark Knight, the second entry in Christopher Nolan’s game-changing superhero movie trilogy. To mark the occasion, Showcase Cinemas—the movie theater chain behind the Cinema de Lux experience—is bringing the movie back to select theaters on the east coast for limited screenings on February 8 and February 11, /Film reports.

Many people consider The Dark Knight the best film in the Batman franchise (Tim Burton and LEGO-fied movies included). The film currently holds a 94 percent “fresh” rating with both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the highest-rated movie in the Batman universe.

Much of the film’s acclaim came from Heath Ledger’s brilliant turn as The Joker—a role that won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar (making him the only actor to win that award posthumously). Even Michael Caine, who plays Bruce Wayne’s ever-dutiful butler and BFF Alfred, admitted that he wasn’t sold on the idea of bringing The Joker back into Batman’s cinematic universe, after the character was so ably played by Jack Nicholson in Burton’s 1989 film, until he found out Ledger would be taking the role.

“You don’t try and top Jack,” was Caine’s original thought. But when Nolan informed the actor that he was casting Ledger, that changed things. “I thought: ‘Now that’s the one guy that could do it!’ My confidence came back,” Caine told Empire Magazine.

To find out if The Dark Knight is playing at a theater near you, visit Showcase Cinemas’s website. If it’s not, don’t despair: With the official anniversary still six months away, other theaters are bound to have the same idea.

[h/t: /Film]

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10 Amazing Facts About Stan Lee
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

Comic book legend Stan Lee’s life has always been an open book. The co-creator of some of the greatest superheroes and most beloved stories of all time has become just as mythical and larger-than-life as the characters in the panels. In 2015, around the time of Marvel’s 75th anniversary, Lee had the idea to reflect on his own life, as he said, “in the one form it has never been depicted, as a comic book … or if you prefer, a graphic memoir.”

The result, published by the Touchstone imprint of Simon & Schuster in 2015, was Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir—which was written by Lee with Peter David and features artwork by cartoonist and illustrator Colleen Doran. Here are 10 things we learned about Lee, on his 95th birthday.

1. HIS WIFE IS ALSO HIS BARBER.

As a bit of a throwaway fact, Stanley Martin Lieber (Stan Lee) reveals the secret of his slicked back mane on the second page of his memoir. “My whole adult life, I’ve never been to a barber,” he writes. “Joanie always cuts my hair.”

2. HIS CONFIDENCE COMES FROM HIS MOTHER.

Amazing Fantastic IncredibleCourtesy POW! Entertainment[2].jpg

Stan Lee writes that as a child he loved to read books by Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and others, and his mother often watched him read. “I probably got my self-confidence from the fact that my mother thought everything I did was brilliant.”

3. YOUNG STAN LEE WROTE OBITUARIES.

Before writing about the fantastic lives of fictional characters, Stan Lee wrote antemortem obituaries for celebrities at an undisclosed news office in New York. He says that he eventually quit that job because it was too “depressing.”

4. CAPTAIN AMERICA WAS HIS FIRST BIG BREAK.

A week into his job at Timely Comics, Lee got the opportunity to write a two-page Captain America comic. He wrote it under the pen name Stan Lee (now his legal name) and titled it "Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge." His first full comic script would come in Captain America Issue 5, published August 1, 1941.

5. HE WROTE TRAINING FILMS FOR THE ARMY WITH DR. SEUSS.

After being transferred from the army’s Signal Corps in New Jersey, Lee worked as a playwright in the Training Film Division in Queens with eight other men, including a few who went on to be very famous: Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Saroyan, cartoonist Charles Addams (creator of The Addams Family), director Frank Capra (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington [1939] and It’s a Wonderful Life [1946]) and Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

6. HE DEFIED THE COMICS CODE AUTHORITY WITH AN ANTI-DRUG COMIC.

In 1971, Lee received a letter from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare asking him to put an anti-drug message in one of his books. He came up with a Spider-Man story that involved his best friend Harry abusing pills because of a break-up. The CCA would not approve the story with their seal because of the mention of drugs, but Lee convinced his publisher, Martin Goodman, to run the comic anyway.

7. AN ISSUE AT THE PRINTERS TURNED THE HULK GREEN.

The character was supposed to be gray, but Lee writes that the printer had a hard time keeping the color consistent. “So as of issue #2,” Lee writes, “with no explanation, he turned green.”

8. HIS WIFE DESTROYED HIS PRIZED TYPEWRITER.


Rich Polk/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly

According to Lee, during an argument, Joanie destroyed the typewriter he used to write the first issues for characters including Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four. “This happened before eBay," he writes. "Too bad. I could’ve auctioned the parts and made a mint.”

9. A FIRE DESTROYED HIS INTERVIEWS AND LECTURES.

When Lee moved his family to Los Angeles, he set up a studio in Van Nuys where he stored videotapes of his talks and interviews, along with a commissioned bust of his wife. The building was lost to a blaze that the fire department believed was arson, but no one was ever charged with the crime.

10. HIS FAVORITE MARVEL FILM CAMEO WAS BASED ON ONE FROM THE COMICS.

Beginning with the first Spider-Man film in 2002, Stan Lee has made quick cameos in Marvel films as a service to the fans. He says that his appearance in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) was inspired by the story of Reed and Sue Richards’ wedding in Fantastic Four Annual Volume 1 #3, in which he and artist/writer Jack Kirby attempt to crash the ceremony but are thwarted.

All images courtesy of Touchstone unless otherwise noted.

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