(For obvious reasons, I’m not really going to touch on the tragic death of Newsarama contributor Daniel Robert Epstein in this column, other than to say that he will be missed. There was a thread of tributes to him here.)
So, all the con news from last weekend? I’m skipping that because, well, you can find that here, and also because there’s so damn much of it and I’m already doing two weeks here. Gimme a break already.
That said, one of the big stories from last weekend was the death of Bart Allen, and DC’s… um… lying to everyone about Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #14 and 15. This week, not only did DC release the real solicitations, but artist Tony Daniel talked about what went into killing another Flash:
Dan DiDio told me right away that this was a very important arc. That’s why he wanted me to do it. He told me all the dirty details: that Bart was going to die, we’re going to keep it secret, we’re going to have fake solicitation covers, and this is going to be one of the biggest and most well-kept secret in comics. And it was. And I knew it was an honor to be asked to do something this important. It’s also, probably, one of the most important issues from DC this year. And no one expected this either… It was a concerted effort. We all knew going into this that it was going to be limited — that Marc was not going to be the full-time writer and that I was only on until Bart died.
Of course, when one Flash dies, another one takes his place. This time, it was someone who’d had the job before, as the end of Justice League of America #10 showed. Geoff Johns and Brad Meltzer showed up to talk about the return you maybe didn’t see coming:
To give you a sense of timeline, Geoff and I pitched all of “The Lightning Saga” well before either of us ever knew that Bart was being killed. We always wanted the crossover to have a big ending, and like the original Seven Soldiers story we were playing with (where 7 characters return), we wanted the crossover to end in life, by bringing another Flash back. Then when we found out that Bart was going to die (and let me be clear, I love Bart), it was just unreal timing.
This week also brought the news that DC wasn’t just about the continuity farming; they also want their finger in the virtual manga pie:
DC Comics, the world’s largest English language comic book publisher announced today an investment in Flex Comix, a newly established manga production and publishing company in Japan. Flex Comix is comprised of a diverse consortium of investors including DC Comics, SOFTBANK TECHNOLOGY, Archetype Technologies, MOVIDA ENTERTAINMENT and T&M. Flex Comix will create original manga titles that will be distributed digitally across the web and on mobile phones with subsequent print editions available through traditional book trade outlets throughout Japan. The agreement will position DC Comics as the worldwide English language print and digital publisher of titles created by Flex Comix.
I’m telling you, now that Softbank Technology are involved, the game’s all over.
Oh, no, wait – Judging by the May sales figures, the game may already be all over. How the hell did Marvel get such a large sales lead, you may ask? Well, possibly by dominating the news cycle like they did for the last two weeks.
Let’s see – There was the launch of the Annihilation: Conquest event (and thank God that Troy Brownfield was around to tell me who those bad guys at the end are, otherwise I’d have been really confused), more news about Marvel’s upcoming indie anthology, editor Andy Schmidt leaving the company, Joe Casey on his new retro miniseries, Iron Man: Enter The Mandarin (“I thought the consensus was that [Iron Man] was misunderstood dick futurist. Plus, he’s a Skrull, isn’t he…? I swear that’s what I heard… a misunderstood dick futurist Skrull”), Bendis giving the world another “Re-read what you read, knowing what you now know about Wanda” lesson in why the world read his work wrong in reference to New Avengers #31 (“I’m sure some people saw that, and thought, ‘What? That’s it? What the fuck have you guys been talking about?’ But I want everybody to be calm, to breathe for a moment, compose yourselves, and think about what is being put forth”), Mark Bagley talking about leaving Ultimate Spider-Man and Stuart Immonen taking over the book. Oh, and the guy who created Rambo is writing a Captain America series:
Yes, the title was originally Captain America: The End… But when Steve Rogers/Captain America was shot on the courthouse steps in another series, that original title suddenly seemed to suggest that my story and that other story were somehow related, which they aren’t… My editor and I had no idea what was happening in that other story arc. When we learned that Cap had been shot, we were as surprised as anybody, and I immediately realized that we’d need to change the title in order to avoid confusion.
In related news, this trade means that Ed Brubaker will now be responsible for Sylvester Stallone’s career.
But it’s not all Marvel, as Travis Charest returned from nowhere – Well, France, but you know what I mean – to, in the words of Harry Nilsson, think about his troubles:
It’s obvious that I’m not a monthly artist in the strictest sense, any time I’ve tried to do it, the work has suffered. I think there’s a place for me in the industry, but it’s not on a regular monthly. I’d love to do an arc on a book here and there but I’m also a fan of comics and ironically my biggest peeve is inconsistent art on a book, I prefer one artist, especially now that I almost exclusively buy trades rather than monthlies, and a single book with the same art throughout is my ideal situation. In my fevered imagination I would love to do 12 issues of Uncanny X-Men or Avengers just so I could have those books and have my name be a little part of the history of those great comics.
Okay, so that was kind of Marvel-related after all. Maybe that’s what led Ron Marz – now editing and consulting at Virgin Comics – to say this about his new employers:
It’s an uphill battle, certainly, at least in the U.S. market. I think a lot of readers are more prone to continue buying Superhero X or Superteam Y just out of habit, even if they’re not particularly enjoying the book, than try something new. I was recently on a chat panel where different books were being discussed, and one of the hosts held up a book – I don’t recall which one, but a mainline Marvel or DC book – and said, “I haven’t liked what’s been going on in this book for the last year!” So I had to ask, “Why the hell are you still buying it?” If you’re buying books you don’t like, the only message that sends to the publisher is, “This is great. Let’s have more just like it.” Buy what you like, and try new things so you can find out what you like.
Hell, you can even follow your favorite creators to publishers like Dark Horse, where Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons are reteaming to give the world one last Martha Washington story. Editor Diana Schutz stopped by the mothership to tell the world that the goddamn Frank Miller has a heart after all:
I can tell you that before I first read the script, Frank had told me that I was going to cry when I read it. And I kind of scoffed at that – and of course, I read the script, and at one point, there’s a very emotional, poignant moment that struck me like a knife through the breast, and sitting at my desk, I started sobbing like a baby. So I called him up and said, “You bastard, you were right!” And before I could say anything else, he told me exactly where I had started crying! He was right. And he’d known it right from the start!
His heart, of course, being one of cold, cold cynical emotional manipulation. But would you want anything else from him?