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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #58

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #57

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #56

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #55

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #54

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #53

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #52

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #51

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #50

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #49

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #48

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #47

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #46

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #45

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #44

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #43

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #42

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #41

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #40

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #39

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #38

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #37

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #36

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #35

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #34

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #33

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #32

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #31

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #30

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #29

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #28

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #27

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #26

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #25

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #24

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The Commando Chronicles | a That Loud comix #16

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #23

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The Commando Chronicles | a That Loud comix #15

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #22

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The Commando Chronicles | a That Loud comix #14

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #21

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The Commando Chronicles | a That Loud comix #13

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #20

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The Commando Chronicles | a That Loud comix #12

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #19

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The Commando Chronicles | a That Loud comix #11

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #18

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The Commando Chronicles | a That Loud comix #10

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #17

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The Commando Chronicles | a That Loud comix #9

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #16

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The Commando Chronicles | a That Loud comix #8

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #15

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The Commando Chronicles | a That Loud comix #7

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #14

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The Commando Chronicles | a That Loud comix #6

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #13

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The Commando Chronicles | a That Loud comix #5

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #12

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The Commando Chronicles | a That Loud comix #4

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #11

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The Commando Chronicles | a That Loud comix #3

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #10

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The Commando Chronicles | a That Loud comix #2

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #9

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The Commando Chronicles | a That Loud comix #1

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #8

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #7

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #6

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #5

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #4

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #3

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #2

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Misguided Understandings | a So-You-Say comix #1

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Matthew Fisher's Original Cartoons

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Comics Editor’s Top 10 Lists

As Comics Editor, I have written many columns these past two years that covered a variety of topics in the comic book industry from well-known publishers and characters like DC Comics and Superman to obscure aspects such as 3-D comics. (Additionally, I chose to draw my own cartoons (left) for my very last Outlook issue.)

Every week, I religiously stop bymy local comic book store, Comics Plus, to buy new comics and graphic novels as well as look for old issues to complete my collections.

So, I thought for my final issue, I would share with you my favorite heroes, series, writers, etc. (in no particular order) when it comes to comic books. Enjoy!

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Comic Books Get a Dose of Reality Television

When you turn on the television, you will find a whole host of reality TV to enjoy. Some have wide appeal (“American Idol,” “America’s Got Talent”), are educational (“Pawn Stars”), or are just plain odd (“My Strange Addiction”).

However, while reality TV seems geared to this medium, it has found a way to be explored through the comic book pages. These books aren’t copying reality TV, but are using the platform as an interesting background for superhero tales.

One of the more recent comics to utilize the popularity of reality TV is “America’s Got Powers” from Image Comics, written by Jonathan Ross and illustrated by Bryan Hitch. The series focuses on Tommy Watts as he enters a super competition where various young heroes compete with one another using their powers to become rich and famous. They battle against each other on the hit show called “America’s Got Powers.”

While talking to comicbookresources.com, Hitch mentioned how the idea for the series evolved to become more about the characters and the story rather than about the show itself. He said, “Jonathan’s original one line pitch was ‘X-Factor for Super Heroes’ and it was a great idea, but as we started putting a story to that idea, it became much less about the show. Once we put living breathing characters into the scenario of the show, it became their story, not the show’s story, and the show became an environment.”

It seems as if the idea of heroes fighting on a reality TV show struck a chord as a second printing has been announced via a press release on comicbookresources.com.

However, competitions haven’t been the only way for the comic book medium to include reality TV in its pages. Sometimes, it could be just a real show about heroes trying to fight the good battle, which is what Marvel did when they redeveloped their ‘90s superhero team, New Warriors.

Back in their heyday, the New Warriors consisted of teenage heroes: Night Thrasher, Speedball, Marvel Boy, Nova, Namorita and Firestar. However, it wouldn’t be until their third volume via a six-issue miniseries that these superheroes became recognized faces.

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Comic Books and Heroes Focus on Real World Issues

If you think comic books and superheroes are only about stopping alien invasions, giant monsters and evil villains, think again. Countless comic books and publishers have confronted real world issues.

To start, “Unknown Soldier,” from Vertigo Comics, dealt with the issue of child soldiers and the civil war that plagued Uganda in 2002. The character was updated from his WWII-roots by writer Joshua Dysart and artist Alberto Ponticelli. (This was the second time Vertigo published a comic featuring the Unknown Soldier following a 1997 four-issue miniseries by writer Garth Ennis and artist Kilian Plunkett.)

Running for 25 issues, the series dealt with Dr. Moses Lwanga, who returned to Uganda after being born there and raised in America, as he and his wife, Sera, helped refugees of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

One day, Moses is brutally attacked, but doesn’t die. Instead, he wraps up his wounds and hears voices that tell him to fight the evil and injustice of his homeland by dealing with it head on as the new Unknown Soldier.

The entire series was not only a good read but raised awareness of what happened in this country and those responsible. “Unknown Soldier” even confronted Joseph Kony in the series finale.

According to the New York Times, in addition to library and Internet research, “Mr. Dysart decided that ‘if I was going to deal with the absolute worst aspect of these people’s lives, I was going to have to go there.’ He visited Uganda in early 2007, months after a cease-fire was declared the previous summer. Mr. Dysart spent time with the Acholi and visited the cities of Kampala and Entebbe.”

The site also reported that Dysart brought over “1,000 photographs that Mr. Ponticelli could use as references for the illustrations.”

However, comic books don’t have to just feature superheroes or fictional beings to discuss problems in the world. Sometimes, if an issue needs to be addressed people will develop a way to talk about it, which is what the United Nations (U.N.) has done. They used the comic book medium to raise awareness on global issues such as poverty in the comic book titled, “Score the Goals.”

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Bringing Stephen King Tales to the Comic Book Page

Horror master Stephen King has taken readers to the furthest, darkest depth of his imagination with his novels that range from tales of killer canines (“Cujo”) to being trapped within an invisible dome (“Under the Dome”).

In addition to his novels and short stories, King’s works have been adapted into a number of movies and TV specials. However, his tales aren’t limited to these mediums as they have also found a way into the comic book industry.

When it came to bringing King’s vision to comic books, one of the first stories to get the paneled-paged treatment was his “Dark Tower” series. “The Dark Tower” followed gunslinger Roland Deschain as he braves a world of monsters and evil men while on his quest to reach the mythical Dark Tower and the Man in Black. Rather than adapt all the books, Marvel presented a miniseries detailing Roland’s youth as he faces tragedy and betrayal while learning to become the best gunslinger ever.

The first miniseries, “The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born,” came out in 2007 and was written by Peter David with plot from Robin Furth and art by Jae Lee.

Other miniseries continued to explore Roland’s youth with “The Long Road Home,” “Treachery,” “The Fall of Gilead,” and “The Battle of Jericho Hill” plus the one-shot, “Sorcery.”

The past two miniseries, however, feature an adult Roland already settled into his quest for the Dark Tower in “The Journey Begins,” “The Little Sister of Eluria,” “The Battle of Tull,” and “The Way Station.”

In an interview with graphincnovelreporter.com prior to the release of “Treachery,” David and Furth discussed their intentions for the series from the start. “If by reaction you mean critical reaction, I was confident that we were putting out a quality book. The work that Robin, Jae and Richard have done is superb. So I was reasonably sure that we’d get positive notices. In terms of actual audience numbers, I honestly had no idea what to expect. It was, after all, not a superhero title. I knew if we could pull in the Stephen King fans, we’d have a ball game,” he said.

Furth also said, “I wanted so much to do a good job and to please Stephen King and all the longtime ‘Dark Tower’ fans. Bringing Mid-World to a new readership felt like a big responsibility, but I’m so glad that readers have enjoyed the story. That is a reward in itself.”

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Shakespearean Tales Give Comics a Literary Touch

From Hamlet to The Tempest, the plays of William Shakespeare are still performed centuries after his death and have been adapted into many films. However, beyond the silver screen and the stage, comic books have also continued staging the Bard’s tales for readers and fans alike.

As with any classic novel or play, sooner or later they get adapted as a comic. Some of the first Shakespeare comic adaptations were in “Classics Illustrated” such as Julius Caesar and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Here, writers and artists brought these stories to the paneled pages without losing the meaning and original dialogue.

Although “Classics Illustrated” ended, people still look to bring these timeless stories to life as comic books. The Shakespeare Comic Book Series has been one way that these tales have been turned into comics. According to shakespearecomics.com, “The Shakespeare Comic Book Series was created in response to a simple question: How can we present serious literature to a generation of school students that is intensely visually aware but often reluctant to read? The answer was to offer the work of the world’s greatest writer in a popular format with a highly pictorial content. The Shakespeare Comic Book Series thus began life in 1999, created by Simon Greaves.”

The site also noted these comics have been featured in exhibits and used as teaching tools.

Comic book writers and artists have also adapted these plays as mangas with “Manga Shakespeare.” For those unfamiliar with manga, they are novella-sized comics from Japan that feature such series as “Bleach” and “Naruto.” Within these series, artists present rich, detailed characters and settings as writers offer work to keep the play’s stories and messages intact. According to mangashakespeare.com, “‘The Manga Shakespeare’ editorial team is led by a leading Shakespeare scholar and an educational editor… the team is expert in making serious works of literature more accessible.”

Now, the books’ creative teams take liberties with their interpretations. Some might have a futuristic setting like “Manga Shakespeare: Julius Caesar” while “Manga Shakespeare: Macbeth” has an action-driven atmosphere (the cover has Macbeth wielding swords).

“Manga Shakespeare” also condensed these adaptations a bit for readers. The site also stated, “Plays in the ‘Manga Shakespeare’ series are abridged to allow teachers to focus on key scenes while following Shakespeare’s text.”

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The Warlord of Mars Continues to Rule Comics

Although John Carter (3-D) didn’t really hit it big at the box office, his adventures on Mars or Barsoom are thriving in comics. Dynamite Entertainment has published titles such as “Warlord of Mars,” “Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris,” “Warlord of Mars: Fall of Barsoom,” “Warriors of Mars,” and the upcoming, “Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris and the White Apes of Mars.”

Created by writer Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator of “Tarzan”), “Warlord of Mars” follows former Confederate soldier, John Carter, as he searches the Arizona desert for gold. One night, he enters a cave with strange markings and is transported to Barsoom where he has super strength and can jump incredibly far because of the low gravity.

There, John meets the green, four-limbed Tharks and befriends Tars while finding himself in the middle of a civil war. This leads him to find a new purpose in life as well as fall in love with Martian princess Dejah Thoris.

Although Barsoom and its inhabitants might be thriving at Dynamite, it’s not the first time this pulp sci-fi hero was adapted to the comics. First, there were comic strips featuring John Carter, which evolved to comic books in the 1950’s from Dell Comics. In the 1970’s, John Carter’s adventures were presented as back-up stories in DC titles “Tarzan” and “Weird Worlds” before Marvel started to publish its adaptation of “Warlord of Mars.” John Carter even united with Burroughs’s fellow literary creation in “Tarzan/Warlord of Mars” by Dark Horse Comics in 1996.

Today John Carter and a line of “Warlord of Mars” titles reside at Dynamite Entertainment where this 100-year-old tale is being reenivsioned once more by some incredible comic book talent.

Writer Arvid Nelson has been scripting “Warlord of Mars” since the series began and wrote the spin-off title “Dejha Thoris” until issue 10. While talking to tfaw.com, Nelson explained how writers continue to tell this one story despite having been presented already by others. “The stories are so visual! I sort of reject the idea anyone can do a ‘definitive’ take on a story. I love seeing how different writers and artists handle the same material,” Nelson said.

Although Nelson is working on the two main series, other writers have also visited Barsoom. First, there’s the miniseries, “Fall of Barsoom,” by writer Robert Place Napton and artist Roberto Castro, which features Barsoom crumbling as two Martian races are fighting and a third is preparing to die. The story follows two individuals of the Ororvarian race trying to save Mars. This miniseries is a strong addition to the John Carter mythology by further developing the adopted world John Carter will later rule and protect.

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RoboCop Has Always Kept Comic Book Streets Safe

While most superheroes were born in comic books, some iconic characters originated elsewhere. This has happened with Marvel characters such as X-23 (a female clone of Wolverine) in “X-Men: Evolution” and Harley Quinn (the Joker’s love and right-hand girl) in “Batman: The Animated Series.”

RoboCop, one of the coolest heroes, didn’t start in comics but rather a live-action movie. Soon, the adventures of RoboCop couldn’t be contained solely on the silver screen and over the years has found homes at different publishers.

For those unfamiliar with the cyborg policeman, RoboCop was Alex Murphy (played by Peter Weller in the first two movies), a Detroit cop who was killed while on duty and then resurrected as RoboCop by the Omni Consumer Products (OCP) Corporation. Most of the films tend to deal with Murphy/RoboCop as he comes to grasp with his robotic self while keeping citizens safe.

The first RoboCop comic began at Marvel in 1990 (ending in 1992 after 23 issues) and was written by Alan Grant and illustrated by Lee Sullivan. In addition to new, original stories, Marvel also offered an adaption of RoboCop 2 for comic book readers (the comic book series was meant to take place between RoboCop 2 and 3).

In an interview with robocoparchive.com, Sullivan talked about his experience as artist for the RoboCop comics. Sullivan said one of the best things about working on the series was “working for Marvel US for the first time; I felt that I was a real artist at last!” However, he mentioned some of the less thrilling aspects including “the direction of the book; unfortunately Greg Wright was also working on a title called Deathlok at the time, and as this was also a part man/part machine character, I think the gritty cyborg story direction was firmly kept for the Marvel version, and poor Alan Grant…was left with very compromised property to work on.”

Following Marvel, this cyborg went to Dark Horse Comics where he would remain from 1992-94. His first story here was a crossover with another sci-fi icon, the Terminator in “RoboCop vs. the Terminator” by Frank Miller (writer) and Walter Simonson (artist). Most of his stories were presented as parts in “Dark Horse Presents” in addition to an adaptation of RoboCop 3. RoboCop would remain offline until 2003 when he would confront grittier storytelling from the mind of Miller by moving to Avatar Press.

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Comics and Characters That Don’t Need to Speak

Usually when readers open up a comic book, they will notice word bubbles or captions that contain character dialogue or thoughts. Yet, there are points when writers and artists decided to take risks and tell stories that rely on visual storytelling more than words.

Known as silent issues, these particular tales are somewhat uncommon, but nevertheless, interesting to read when they are published. So, with the silent movie The Artist being a big winner at the Academy Awards, why not take a look back at comics whose pictures spoke louder than words?

To begin, one of the more memorable silent issues was “G.I. Joe” #21 from Marvel Comics, written by Larry Hama, who also did the breakdown art, and finishings art by Steve Leialoha.

The story titled, “Silent Interlude,” was about the silent ninja and soldier, Snake Eyes, going on a mission to rescue fellow G.I. Joe member, Scarlett. Telling the story silently with Snake Eyes as the lead seemed appropiate since the character never spoke to anyone and let his actions talk for him.

The issue was also notable for introducing Snake Eyes’ rival, Storm Shadow, into the G.I. Joe cast.

According to joeguide.com (via Comics Interview #37-38), Hama explained what his real intention behind writing and illustrating “Silent Interlude” was. He said, “I wanted to see if I could do a story that was a real, complete story - beginning, middle, end, conflict, characterization, action, solid resolution - without balloons or captions or sound effects. I tried to do it again, as a matter of fact, with the Joe Yearbook #3 story.”

Hama went on to create one more silent issue for Marvel with “G.I. Joe” #85 (it featured Storm Shadow) and one for IDW after they took over the G.I. Joe property with “G.I. Joe Origins” #19 (another tale that focused on the elusive Snake Eyes). While talking to ifanboy.com at the 2010 San Diego Comic-con, IDW Senior Editor Andy Schmidt described the excitement of telling another silent Joe story. “One of the first things I wanted to do as a G.I. Joe editor was revisit the silent issue. It’s just too fun not to do again…This time we brought on the incredibly talented and dynamic artist Joe Benitez to punch it up and hit it out of the park!” Schmidt said.

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The Comic Book Adventures of Professor Claude Taylor

Communication professor Claude Taylor’s secret identity as a comic book fan has been revealed! Hearing Taylor talk about superheroes and comic books, it was easy to see he is not just a fan of the medium but a super fan.

In an interview with The Outlook about all things comic book related from his introduction to superheroes to the current status of comics.

Taylor’s affinity for superhero adventures began upon finding his brothers comics at an early age. “My first contact with comic books was the ‘Giant Size’ large format books that were popular in the 1970’s,” Taylor said. “My older brother had some Marvel titles, and I used to look at the pictures when I was five-years-old.”

He also said that early on, he saw some comic book media on TV like “Wonder Woman” and “Batman,” but the one that stood out the most was “Super Friends.” “I was an avid viewer of Saturday morning cartoons and the best one was the ‘Super Friends,’” Taylor said. “That was the best…with the team you had multiple characters all the time.”

As his comics fascination grew, Taylor talked about how he would eagerly await the arrival of new comics. “I’d wait for the delivery truck at my local convenience store. I used to get it first out of the truck.” While an avid reader, Taylor said he was becoming a collector, too. “…I used to buy a ‘read-copy’ and a ‘collect-copy’ of my favorite titles,” saving them in plastic casings with back boards to keep them mint.

As time passed, Taylor gravitated more to Marvel comics than DC, saying he’s 80 percent Marvel and 20 percent DC. He mentioned how he was “fascinated with the Fantastic Four origin story. I remember going back and reading about them.” He also listed Spider-Man and the Hulk as other stand out characters. “As a kid, they are the kind of big superheroes that caught your eye,” he added.

Taylor said, “Marvel captured your attention in different ways. At the time in the late 70’s, Marvel heroes were easier to identify with and easier to just like the story while DC was dodgy and old…”

However, to this day, Taylor’s favorite hero is still Daredevil, attorney Matt Murdock who, despite being blind by an accident, had his other senses reach super levels. One of Taylor’s prized possessions is the entire Frank Miller run from the series, where Daredevil experienced both extreme physical and emotional challenges with the sharp-shooter Bullseye and his ex-girlfriend, Elektra.

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Abraham Lincoln Has a History With Comics

Abraham Lincoln was many things during his life: a lawyer, a politician, and President of the United States. However, one thing people might not be aware of is that Honest Abe has also been featured as a comic book character. So, to honor the President Lincoln’s 203rd birthday, let’s take a look at how comic book creators have brought a bit of the past to the present.

Seeing presidents in comic books isn’t something new as I discussed last year with my column on President Obama’s appearance in “Spider-Man” and as Barack the Barbarian. Other U.S. presidents that have graced the comic pages include John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and George W. Bush. Yet, what is interesting here is to see a U.S. president entering strange adventures and fighting with heroes at a point when superhero comics had yet to emerge.

According to comicvine.com, there are “132 appearances” of Lincoln in comics with his first appearance being, “Real Life Comics” #2.

Now, when comic book readers look to his more recent appearances, one unique title that stands out is “Time Lincoln” from Antarctic Press and written and drawn by Fred Perry. A synopsis on comicvine.com reads as such: “What happens when the Great Emancipator is suddenly freed from the bonds of time to right wrongs throughout history? Taken out of time on the night of his assassination with the help of H.G. Wells’s time machine, Abraham Lincoln finds himself waging war upon the forces of evil in the past, present and future! In his last hour, he lived a lifetime!”

While a time-traveling Lincoln might appear strange, looking at the cover for “Time Lincoln,” with the 16th President wearing time goggles and staring into the distance, it’s hard not to be intrigued by the title’s premise. Additionally, a review on geek-life.com, it explains that Lincoln isn’t alone on this journey. They report “Lincoln assembles a back-up team that includes Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, George Washington Carver, and Benjamin Franklin, all equipped with a bunch of fun steampunky devices.”

Although this might seem like the first time Lincoln is time traveling, the truth is he’s done so before in Marvel’s “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Comic Book.” [Insert air guitar riffs].

As for superhero comic books, Lincoln has been featured in titles like “The Flash” Vol. 1 #270 and “Weird Western Tales” #33. However, iconic heroes Lincoln has stood next to include Superman and Spider-Man.

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DC Turns Back the Clock ‘Before Watchmen’

The Watchmen are coming back! DC Comics will release six prequel miniseries under the banner, “Before Watchmen,” to showcase new adventures featuring Rorschach, Dr. Manhattan, and Silk Spectre as they fight crime. A back up feature, the Crimson Corsair, will also be included in each issue.

For those unfamiliar with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s ground-breaking miniseries, “Watchmen” took place during 1985 in an alternate world where America won the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon is in his third term as President.

The story begins with the death of the Comedian and the proceeding investigation by the deadly yet insightful Rorschach. While he searches for clues and talks with other heroes to solve the death of the Comedian, the reader gets a look into the lives of these characters and a sense of how vigilantes changed the course of history starting in the 1920’s. Along the way, the world is holding its breath as the U.S. and Russia head for nuclear war.

“Watchmen” was a breakthrough not only for its rich complex storytelling but by presenting a realistic, gritty story with fallible characters.

To tell these new adventures, DC Comics has collected some stellar creative teams to further develop the world of “Watchmen.”

According to DC Comics’ blog, “The Source,” writer Brian Azzarello and artist Lee Berjemo are working on “Rorschach” and Azzarello is also collaborating with artist J.G. Jones on “The Comedian.”

J. Michael Straczynski is writing two miniseries: first is “Dr. Manhattan” with Adam Hughes supplying art, and second is “Nite Owl,” featuring art by Andy and Adam Kubert.

Former “Watchmen” editor, Len Wein will write “Ozymandias” with Jae Lee illustrating. Wein will also be witing the back-up story, “Curse of the Crimson Corsair,” with original “Watchmen” colorist John Higgins.

Writer/artist Darwyn Cooke is pulling double-duties on “Minutemen” as well as writing “Silk Spectre” with Amanda Conner handling the art.

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Darth Maul, Qui-Gon Jinn Never Left This Galaxy

With the re-release of Star Wars: Episode 1- The Phantom Menace in 3D arriving next week, it’s hard not to start thinking about characters from the film such as the tattoo-faced Sith warrior Darth Maul, the skillful and intelligent Jedi master Qui- Gon Jinn and even the annoying amphibious creature Jar Jar Binks.

However, while these characters have survived and been seen on DVD for years and once more on the big screen, the comic book universe never really forgot about them.

Beyond the four-issue comic book adaptation of Star Wars: Episode 1- The Phantom Menace, Dark Horse Comics has published a variety of series featuring characters from this film.

One of the more memorable titles featuring The Phantom Menace characters was the four issue limited series, “Star Wars: Darth Maul” by writer Ron Marz (“Artifacts”) and artist Drew Struzan in 2001.

The story, set prior to Episode 1, has Darth Maul set on a mission to destroy the head of Black Sun, a criminal organization.

In addition to telling a story featuringone of the best and most underused characters in the Star Wars universe, “Star Wars: Darth Maul” had the honor of bringing this Sith warrior to the comics for the first time.

According to the amazon.com description for the “Darth Maul” trade paperback, “‘Star Wars: Darth Maul’ is the first-ever graphic-novel adventure of the ultimate Sith enforcer, an explosive tale of intrigue, mystery, and blistering action.”

This one particular tale has been reprinted in other comic collections such as “Rise of the Sith Omnibus.”

Beyond the early appearance of the Sith, another element of The Phantom Menace was being introduced to the cool, calm, and strong Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his Jedi padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

This master-apprentice storyline alwaysseemed ripe with further adventures and Dark Horse saw that with miniseries such as “Star War: Jedi Quest” by writer Ryder Windham and artist Pop Mhan and “Star Wars: Qui-Gon & Obi-Wan: The Auroient Express.”

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University Employee Has Comic ‘Awaken’ing

AwakenIssue1 bannerBy day, Janine Frederick works for the University as an Assistant Website Developer, but by night she’s traveling into the furthest reaches of her imagination for the next great comic book story. Recently, Frederick wrote a five-page story titled “Awaken,” drawn by Ian Dorian, in the comic book anthology, “Out of Our Minds: Tales from the Comics Experience.”

“Awaken” is about a teenage girl who discovers she is the Anti-Christ. The comic opens with the main character contemplating a dream where she kills an angel. Soon, she delves into magic and enters a vast library where she confronts an angel who informs her of her destiny.

The basis for “Awaken,” Frederick said, came out of her life. “When I was younger, I’d have reoccurring dreams that involved a lot of angels. There was also a malevolent and evil presence in the dreams.” She continued to say that when it came to this story, “Let me do something cool with that and apply it to this 16-year-old girl. Are their problems less important than ours?”

Writing “Awaken” took about a month for Frederick “in dribs and drabs.” She said each page took around three hours to write. “You are communicating with an artist and an editor and telling them what’s in your head. You have to picture things as writer, producer, and director all in one. Writing comics is the most challenging thing there,” Frederick added.

As for Dorian’s art, Frederick said, “I wanted [the story] to feel ether real. You can look at the pictures and study the pictures. He lays out the pages so it isn’t messy, it’s interesting.” Their collaboration consisted of going over the story and the layout of the pages to make sure the art matched the script’s tone.

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Comic Books Celebrate the Holiday Season

batmanBelieve it or not, even comic books like to get into the holiday spirit. From short stories to reinventions of familiar tales, comic book creators work hard to bring season greetings to fans.

One of the first holiday specials to look at is “Marvel Holiday Special 2011.” Now this isn’t the first time Marvel has produced a special one-shot of stories set around Christmas time. Characters from Spider-Man, the Hulk, and the X-Men have been featured in these tales, fighting trouble while preparing for the holidays.

According to spider-fan.org, “In the early 90’s, Marvel started running a ‘Marvel Holiday Special,’ featuring a few Christmassy…type stories. That ran out of steam after a half-dozen issues, but they started up again in 2004 and have carried on ever since.”

In addition to print publication, “Marvel Holiday Special 2011” was also offered to fans online as a four-part series through Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.

In “Marvel Holiday Special 2011,” one of the stories involves Wolverine playing hockey (issue #1). Another has Spider-Man in pursuit of a criminal on Christmas (issue #2) while the Thing has his holiday meal interrupted by super powered trouble (issue #4). These stories are a nice break from the heavy melodrama present throughout the year.

While Marvel is busy having fun with their special, things are a bit more serious at DC Comics. Their holiday book in the spotlight this year is “Batman: Noel” by superstar artist Lee Bermejo (who was also written about in last week’s column regarding “Lex Luthor: Man of Steel” and “Joker”). Unlike his previous works, in this original graphic novel Bermejo takes up duties as both writer and artist.

“Batman: Noel” places the Caped Crusader in Ebenezer Scrooge’s shoes from Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol,” as Batman confronts his past, present, and future around Christmas time. Along the way, spirits in the form of characters like Superman and Catwoman visit Batman to discuss his life as Gotham’s crime fighter.

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A Villainous Look at Comic Books

What’s a good comic book without super villains? Sure, they are evil and maniacal but they can be just as fascinating. Writers and artists have recognized this with many series and miniseries spotlighting villains like “Nemesis,” “Carnage,” “Suicide Squad,” and “Books of Doom.” However, to keep this column short, when it comes to scum of the Earth, you can’t go wrong with DC and Marvel Comics.

DC Comics has had comics devoted to evildoers like Ra’s Al Ghul and Deadshot as well as a limited series called “Salvation Run” (Here all of Earth’s villains being exiled to a distant planet where character sided with the brilliantly mad Lex Luthor or the insane Joker).

Now, when it comes to two of the more interesting villain stories from DC, they come courtesy of writer Brian Azzarello and artist Lee Bermejo. Together, they have showcased tales that offer a new perspective on Lex and the Joker than what fans are familiar with.

First there was the miniseries, “Lex Luthor: Man of Steel,” which presented an in depth analysis of this criminal mastermind. Yes, fans have understood that Lex’s hatred of Superman stems from the fact that he sees this extraterrestrial as a threat for mankind, preventing humanity’s own success. Though many have and still show this, hearing Lex’s made the tale creepy and present the feeling of being inside his head.

Azzarello and Bermejo’s next project was the dark and richly entertaining Clown Prince of Crime tale, “Joker.” The graphic novel featured a newcomer to the Joker’s gang who gets a firsthand experience of what it means to run with this insane criminal. Throughout the novel, Azzarello and Bermejo present new, realistic takes on classic Batman villain such as the Penguin and Killer Croc much like the Christopher Nolan films. Bermejo’s artwork also gave the characters and setting a rough, gritty feel. What sets this apart from “Lex Luthor: Man of Steel” is how the reader doesn’t hear the Joker’s thoughts or delve further into his mind. They only observe his actions and hearing his words as they transpire to keep the Joker even more mysterious, distant, and terrifying.

In fact, while talking to newsarama.com about “Joker,” Azzarello explained why he chose to keep the Joker’s thoughts silent. “I firmly believe that trying to write from the Joker’s perspective would be taking power away from that character; part of the power of that character is his unpredictability. Nobody knows what he is going to do next; so, if you’re in his head, you totally take away the unpredictable nature of the character,” the writer said.

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Comic Books That Enter the Third Dimension

Superman BeyondNowadays, 3-D has been and continues to make waves in movie theaters across the country as shown with last week’s new releases, Arthur Christmas, Hugo, and Immortals

Now, while 3-D is slowly coming to home theaters with the advent of 3-D TV’s and Blu-Rays, one might be surprised to learn that comics have also taken the venture into 3-D technology.

Although not as sophisticated as RealD 3-D or IMAX 3-D by using the old red and blue shaded glasses, comics have and continue to use this unique angle to have characters and dialogue bubbles pop out of the page.

The genesis of the 3-D comic book began in the 1950’s when 3-D was first being used in movie theaters to attract audiences. 

According to tvtropes.org, “The first 3-D comic book was Three Dimension Comics and starred Mighty Mouse. After that, many different comics came out, but they only lasted one or a few issues; the comics were expensive (25 cents when others were 10 cents) and sold mostly as novelties, which got old quickly. By the end of the year, the fad was dead.”

However, just because this trend ended early didn’t mean it left comic books altogether. Much like the death and return of heroes like Superman, Batman, Captain America, to name some, 3-D comics would find its way back to readers at different times.

In the 1980’s, 3-D returned to comic books via Eclipse Comics, now defunct, which experimented with 3-D by using it in certain series like “Miracleman” and “DNAgents.” 

Today, comic book publishers don’t print as many 3-D adventures as movies do, but they still like to play around with this unique aspect occasionally. Although the continuation of Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neil’s “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier,” only featured selected pages that brought the 2-D artwork toward the reader, it showed how this technique is being utilized by the comic industry.

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Comics Team-Up Offers Superhero Combinations

What’s better than one superhero in a comic book? That would be two heroes in a comic, which is where the idea of team-up books thrives. Unlike a team book where heroes work together issue in and out, team-up comics focus on different characters working together for one or two issues max.

Last week, Marvel released their newest team-up book with “Avenging Spider-Man” #1 by writer Zeb Wells and artist Joe Mauderia. The premiere issue focused on Spider-Man and Red Hulk (Rulk) dealing with monsters overrunning New York City. However, superhero team-ups are nothing new for Marvel.

The first “Marvel Team-Up” began in 1972 and featured Spider-Man working with the Human Torch against Sandman. In fact, Spider-Man was featured throughout most of the series alongside heroes like Thor, She-Hulk, and Captain America. Volume One lasted for 150 issues, ending in 1985.

“Marvel Team-Up” Volume Two arrived in 1997 and while Spider-Man was featured in many issues, other characters were presented as well like Namor, the Sub Mariner, Blade, Doctor Strange, and the Thing. Writer Robert Kirkman took over “Marvel Team-Up” Volume Three in 2005 and presented his own unique hero combinations.

Looking back at past “Marvel Team-Up” volumes in preparation for “Avenging Spider-Man” #1, newsarama.com said about Volume Three, “While this MTU wasn’t strictly limited to Spider-Man stories, it started and ended with the character playing a prominent role, and he even teamed up in issue #14 with Kirkman’s Image Comics creation, Invincible.”

The site continued to report that less familiar characters like Darkhawk and Sleepwalker also returned to the Marvel Universe in this series.

There was also an Ultimate Marvel Team-Up book titled, “Ultimate Marvel Team-Up.”

Now, although “Avenging Spider-Man” #1 does not carry the “Marvel Team-Up” banner on the book, readers should see that it’s a new interpretation of this iconic series.

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Norman Osborn Gathers New Dark Avengers

In the Marvel Universe, the Avengers team is composed of superheroes who work together in order to save the world from dire threats. Although this group has been comprised of heroes over the years, some villains have entered into the fold, too, only to come out as heroes in the end. Some examples include Hawkeye, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and most recently, Red Hulk (or Rulk).

However, for a time in the Marvel Universe, there was a team of Avengers who looked like heroes but were really evildoers in the series, “Dark Avengers.” While this team was broken up following “Siege,” it appears a new group of Dark Avengers are forming to wreak havoc for the Marvel heroes and will be revealed in “New Avengers” Vol. 2 #18.

For those unfamiliar with “Dark Avengers,” this was the series following “Secret Invasion,” where Norman Osborn was in charge of global security along with his H.A.M.M.E.R. division replacing S.H.I.E.L.D.

At the same time, he was also gathering villains to pose as heroes for his own Avengers team led by himself as the Iron Patriot. They included Wolverine (Daken), Spider-Man (Marc Gargan), Ms. Marvel (Moonstone), Hawkeye (Bullseye), the Sentry, Captain Marvel (Noh-Var), and Ares.

In an interview with comicbookresources.com, series writer Brian Michael Bendis explained what the idea was for Dark Avengers as the first issue was approaching. “Norman feels the Avengers need to be a team of unapologetic ass-kicker-y. Plus his team serves a dual purpose: he gets to have these colorful mascots of freedom, but at the same time -- whew! Is he pissing off all the right people! He gets to mock Spider-Man. And if God forbid Mac Gargan does something stupid, Osborn can blame it on Spider-Man,” he said.

The team offered the guise of heroism but underneath still acted like villains with double-crosses, selflessness, and conflict as they dealt with issues like Morganne Le Fay’s magic and the San Francisco mutant crisis in the crossover tale, “Utopia.” They were the main focal point of the Marvel Universe during the Dark Reign storyline that ran in most of the House of Ideas series. “Dark Avengers” ran for 16 issues with one annual included.

Since the “Siege” aftermath, the team dispersed through the Marvel Universe or to the great beyond. Ares and the Sentry both died in the “Siege” miniseries while Bullseye met his end from Daredevil in “Shadowland” #1.

Noh-Var joined the newly established main Avengers team, Daken went off on his own journey, Marc Gargan became the Scorpion again, and Moonstone went back to the Thunderbolts.

As for Osborn, he went to a super maximum security prison where he slowly worked his way out. Now, it seems like he has a new mission to accomplish with the help of a new Dark Avengers team.

The synopsis for “New Avengers” #18 on comixology.com leaves much to the imagination with a tagline that reads: “Norman Osborn and H.A.M.M.E.R. return! Witness the new Avengers line-up in action!” It is being written by Bendis (who has written “New Avengers” since Volume 1 and drawn by his “Dark Avengers” artist, Mike Deodato, Jr).

In addition to some preview pages for the issue with what seems to be Osborn in the Savage Land looking for something, the cover pays homage to the famous Uncle Sam poster as he points his index finger to the reader saying, “I want you!” as individuals covered in shadows stand in the distance.

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‘30 Days of Night’ Has Year-Round Horror

By the time this article gets published, Halloween will be over. However, when it comes to comic books, the ghouls, monsters and frights of Halloween are nonstop. For example, within DC Comics’ relaunch, they are presenting new tales of their Frankenstein monster in “Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.,” developing distinct bloodsuckers in “I, Vampire,” and bringing together their magical heroes and anti-heroes in “Justice League Dark.”

Marvel is also having a monster bash with their new miniseries “Legion of Monsters,” which features creatures like Morbius, the Living Vampire and Manphibian uniting with Elsa Bloodstone to deal with the supernatural horrors of their world.

Yet, if there was only one comic that could be picked to keep the Halloween spirit alive in the comic book community, it would have to be “30 Days of Night” from IDW.

Created by writer Steve Niles and artist Ben Templesmith in 2002, “30 Days of Night” was a three issue miniseries that focused on the fictional town of Barrow, Alaska, which experiences a month of darkness every year. However, this year, some unexpected vampires came to town to enjoy a smorgasbord of human blood. While the book offered a strong, original, and terrifying take on the vampire mythos, Niles also helped to reinvent horror comics for a new generation.

However, “30 Days of Night” was not always planned out as a comic book but originally set to be a movie that was continuously turned down (“30 Days of Night” finally become a movie in 2007 with a DVD sequel in 2010). “I pitched it to just blank faces. And they’d say, ‘It sounds like Buffy, it sounds like Buffy.’ And honestly I had just about given up,” Niles told IGN.com in 2007. Things changed, though, when Niles got a call from IDW and he presented them with the “30 Days of Night” story.

Niles continued to tell IGN.com, “And the day the ad for the first issue hit, we started getting calls from every studio, every producer, even people I had pitched before. People to this day deny that they rejected it, and I love it! Even one of the producers on the movie had originally rejected it.”

Since then, IDW has published sequels to “30 Days of Night” to establish a trilogy with “30 Days of Night: Dark Days” and “30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow.” (There was also “30 Days of Night: Eben and Stella,” which continued from “Dark Days”).

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Zombies Acquire a Taste For Comics

Back in 1968, filmmaker George A. Romero redefined zombies from mindless slaves to eternally hungry flesh eaters with Night of the Living Dead (NOTLD) and its sequels. However, Romero’s horror tales didn’t stay confined to celluloid and have transitioned into comics. IDW has adapted Dawn of the Dead and Land of the Dead while Avatar Press keeps Romero’s vision alive with its own “NOTLD” series and specials like “NOTD: Back from the Grave.”

John A. Russo, co-writer of NOTLD, has used his dark imagination to continue offering tales of humans evading the zombie plague. He co-wrote a prequel tale to the 1968 film with writer Mike Wolfer and even created his own NOTLD sequel with the miniseries, “Escape of the Living Dead,” three follow-up tales, and an annual.

In an interview with comicbookresources.com, Wolfer explained what it was like working with Russo to deepen this classic story. “And as I always mention, I’m a fanboy, too, so just the fact that I’ve been given this opportunity to help carve-out new chunks of unwritten history in such a prestigious franchise is incredible,” he said.

While Romero’s night of terror still lingers, other comic publishers have thrown their heads, hands, and feet into the zombie genre. Dynamite Entertainment has two volumes of “Raise the Dead,” horror comic writer and “30 Days of Night” co-creator, Steve Niles, developed a zombie tale set in Reno, Nevada with “Remains” (soon to be a TV movie), and Vertigo features “iZombie” about an undead investigator who eats brains once in a while to survive.

However, the most notable of series has been “The Walking Dead” from Image Comics. Created and written by Robert Kirkman with art from Tony Moore (issues one to six) and Charlie Adlard (issue seven to present), the comic is a dramatic, sophisticated, and unpredictable narrative about humans surviving in a world overrun by the dead. The series was recognized for its achievements in 2010 with an Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series.

Kirkman has never lost his beat from issue to issue as he puts protagonist Rick Grimes, his wife Lori, son Carl, and fellow survivors through the ringer repeatedly, offering salvation only for it to turn into damnation.

While talking with newsarama.com, Kirkman said where the main focus of this series tends to lie. Kirkman said, “In a sense, Carl is the heart and soul of the comic series. He started out as a true innocent, and it’s been a fun exploration to watch the world change around him and for him to see the things he has had to go through. Carl’s had to do a lot to survive. In general, to watch characters deal with hardship and overcoming obstacles shows how it can change them.”

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Heroes That Have Animal Instincts

When it comes to animals in comic books, you can never be too careful. Throughout the Marvel and DC Universes, animals exist with amazing abilities who demonstrate as much courage and determination as their two-legged counter parts when defending Earth.

In the DC Universe there are a number of examples of super animals like B’dg, a squirrel from outer space who is Green Lantern of Sector 1014. Another creature from the “Green Lantern” franchise is the Red Lantern, Dex-Starr. Dex-Starr was a common Earth cat until the Red Lantern ring hooked onto their rage and turned him into a blood-thirsty (literally) animal who could use the power of rage to his whim.

While Superman has an array of powerful creatures like Bippo the monkey, the top pet first has been a dog, Krypto. Although his origin has evolved over the years, this super dog first appeared in “Adventures Comics” #210.

Here it was explained that Krypto was a test subject for the rocket that Jor-El would later use to save his son from Krypton’s destruction. However, plans changed when Krypto’s ship veered off course and traveled through space until he reached Earth. There he reunited with his owner, a young Clark Kent/Superboy.

Since then, Krypto has been involved in crises like “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and “The Sinestro Corps War.” Krypto remained a key part of the Superman legacy and last appeared in Jeff Lemire’s “Superboy” before the DC New 52 reboot.

In a comicbookresources.com interview with Lemire before his previous “Superboy” series premiered, he explained his intentions for this superdog. “Oh yeah, Krypto is the best. I love Krypto. I think, and I’m not joking about this at all, I really want to write the first really great Krypto story. I want to give him a really serious and a really meaty character arc over the first year just as much as Conner,” Lemire said.

Beyond the mainstream DC Universe, Krypto also appeared in his own animated series and comic book miniseries, “Krypto, the Superdog,” which was geared toward a younger audience. He was also joined by Streaky the Cat and Ace the Bat-Hound (Ace was also a featured character in the “Batman Beyond” animated series albeit more serious).

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‘Dark Horse Presents’ a New Anthology Volume

Comic books are all about telling new, interesting, and/or other worldly stories. However, sometimes one issue isn’t enough, which is where anthology comics come into play. Here, readers are able to enjoy a handle of stories from different writer and artist combinations about virtually anything.

Throughout the years anthology comics have come and gone with old series like EC Comics’ “Tales from the Crypt” and “Suspense Stories” to new titles like Marvel’s “Strange Tales I and II.” Today, readers get another anthology with the relaunch of “Dark Horse Presents.”

“Dark Horse Presents” first entered the comic book industry in 1986 and ran until 2000. During this time, new comic book characters like Concrete appeared and became an icon for Dark Horse Comics. The series by writer/artist Paul Chadwick featured a man who is abducted by aliens and has his mind transferred into the body of a concrete hulking. However, in a world where super heroes and villains don’t exit, he’s left to ponder his new existence.

Another concept that began in “Dark Horse Presents” #51 and has gain notoriety was the “The Hard Goodbye,” the first story in Frank Miller’s “Sin City” series.

After the cancellation of “Dark Horse Presents” Volume One, another volume appeared for readers online called MDHP (MySpace Dark Horse Presents). From 2007 to 2010, comic book creators posted their work on MySpace for free as readers got a glimpse at what these creative writers and artists had to offer fans.

The tradition of anthological stories continued with tales featuring Dr. Horrible (from the musical blog) written by Joss Whedon, a Guild comic by its creator Felicia Day, and an “Umbrella Academy” tale by Gerald Way.

As the series ended in 2010, Scott Allie, a Dark Horse editor, spoke to newsarama.com about what this venture meant to the publisher and the series.

“Part of the gimmick with MDHP was that we didn’t ask for money. It’s hard to sell an anthology, blah blah blah, that’s the common wisdom. But we wanted to do an anthology, so we said, hell with it, we won’t try to sell it, we’ll give it away. At the time, I felt a sense of urgency to get content online, but I felt like no one had cracked the nut of how to monetize comics online. Things have changed, so it’s time to change our strategy,” he said.

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Comics Fans Enter a New DC Universe

The number 52 has been a significant figure for DC Comics. Back in 2006, miniseries, “52,” presented a world without Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman and featured the return of 52 parallel worlds. Today, 52 stands for something new and bold in the comic book industry.

For over a month, DC Comics has relaunched all their comics and presented readers with 52 new #1 issues for old and new heroes alike. This event has been referred to as DCnU (DC New Universe) as every title from long-running series (“Action Comics”) to short-lived ones ( “Batman: The Dark Knight”) are getting this reboot treatment. So, past continuity is a thing of the past as these characters are being presented with a modern perspective.

On “The Source,” DC Comics’ Blog, a viral video featuring individuals like co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee and Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras explained what this venture means for DC. “This is a great opportunity for readers who aren’t familiar with our character to jump aboard, to come join the party that is the DC universe,” Harras said.

The catalyst for this game-changer was “Flashpoint” #5. “Flashpoint” followed Barry Allen/The Flash as he entered a world that was turned upside down, where Batman was Thomas Wayne (Bruce Wayne’s father) and Wonder Woman fought with Aquaman through their kingdoms. At the conclusion of “Flashpoint,” the world didn’t look the same, and that same week, “Justice League” #1 ushered in the age of the DC 52.

Since then, other titles have rolled off the printing presses to the eagerness of fans. Series like “Action Comics” are retelling the origin of these icons while titles like “I, Vampire” and “Resurrection Man” are bringing back characters that have been absent for a while. A few titles have even integrated the fallen Wildstorm heroes into their own titles (“Grifter) or team books (“Stormwatch”). However for other series, major changes have occurred in what was the status quo like with “Batman” for example.

Before DCnU, Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne shared duties by both being Batman while Damian Wayne acted as Robin and Stephanie Brown was Batgirl. In this new universe, Bruce Wayne is back as the one and only Dark Knight while Damian is still Robin. Meanwhile, Dick is Nightwing (his first post-Robin identity) again and the paralyzed computer hacker, Barbara Gordon, has returned to her first calling as Batgirl.

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Ultimate Spider-Man Webs New Wallcrawler

Superheroes come and go, but their legacies can live on. The latest example of this is the death of Ultimate Peter Parker/Spider-Man and the rise of a new friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. However, this isn’t the traditional Spider-Man but the version from the Ultimate Universe and outside of the main universe and continuity.

Starting in 2000, the Ultimate Universe helps to tell stories of Marvel heroes from a modern day perspective and defer from having to deal with much continuity. For example, instead of the Avengers, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man are part of the S.H.I.E.L.D. sanctioned team known as the Ultimates.
Toward the end of the summer, Peter Parker met his fate in “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” #160 at the hands of his arch nemesis, Norman Osborn/Green Goblin. The Ultimate Universe explored the aftermath of this death in the limited series, “Ultimate Comics Fallout,” but soon a mysterious individual was seen wearing Spidey’s red and blue costume in issue #4. This character was later identified as Miles Morales, a half-Hispanic and half-African American youth.

On USAToday.com, “Ultimate Spider-Man” writer Brian Michael Bendis discussed how Miles as the new Spider-Man won’t change the ideals Peter held. “The theme is the same: With great power comes great responsibility… He’s going to learn that. Then he has to figure out what that means.”

Oddly enough, Community star Donald Glover was campaigning to be Peter Parker/Spidey in the reboot. According to popwatch.ew.com, Bendis looked at Glover’s campaign as “a classic case of what-might-have-been.” In fact, Glover even wore a Spider-Man t-shirt in the opening scene of Community’s second season.

Since Miles’ first appearance in August, the character had room to grow and finally appeared in his solo series the new “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man.”

In addition to this new title, Miles will also be donning a new costume to uphold this new character. Instead of the traditional red and blue Spider-Man outfit, Miles’ wardrobe is black with red covering the torso and mask.

Now, while Bendis has the task of developing and writing dialogue for Miles and company, artist Sara Pichelli has the task of designing this new hero and his costume. However, with the costume design, Pichelli worked to show this is Spider-Man for a new decade.

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Comics Turn the Page on Novel Adaptations

When people think about adaptations, they might consider a feature film or TV series like Batman or True Blood respectively. Now, while comic books are generally about superheroes, they have also been used to adapt numerous stories to the four-colored world.

One of the earliest sets of graphic adaptations was with “Classics Illustrated,” which took famous works such as “The Odyssey,” “A Tale of Two Cities,” and even a comic book version of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” The “Classics Illustrated” series ran for three decades from 1941 to 1971. Through these comics, readers still experienced timeless classics but viewed them through a series of drawings by the artists involved.

Marvel Comics has continued the tradition of adapting classic stories for a modern audience with stories like “Moby Dick,” “Treasure Island,” and “Pride and Prejudice.” However, one of the more interesting aspects to revisiting old stories through comic book lenses is with the successful adaptations of L. Frank Baum’s Oz stories.

Together, writer Eric Shanover and artist Scottie Young have brought readers back to Oz through their illustrated versions of “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Marvelous Land of Oz,” and “Ozma of Oz.” While Shanover had previously brought other Oz stories to comics, this was the first he would work to stay true to the book.

In a 2008 interview with Marvel.com, Shanover described why he finally chose to adapt “The Wizard of Oz” for the House of Ideas. He said, “I wanted everything that was part of the book to stay in some way. Now, of course, it’s an adaptation, and it’s for a different medium from prose to comics, so there are different demands. My other main goal was to make sure it was a good comic, not just an adaptation where it didn’t matter to me if it was good or bad as long as I got everything in.”

Shanover and Young will continue their collaboration down the yellow brick road with the next series “Dorothy & the Wizard of Oz.”

While Marvel has had its hands busy retelling timeless stories, they haven’t been the only ones to do so. Companies like IDW have demonstrated their adaptations through graphic novels like “I Am Legend” and using fan-favorite horror writer, Steve Niles, to help guide the artist’s vision to this apocalyptic tale.

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How Comic Books Dealt With the Tragedy of 9/11

Following the events of September 11, there have been movies (World Trade Center) and TV specials discussing the tragedy of this day as well as the heroism of police, firefighters, and first responders who braved the danger to help anyone they could.

However, what people might not know is that the comic book community also developed graphic novels and comics in which writers and artists created stories centering around this day to honor those lost and reminding people to never forget.

Just like the noble intentions of its heroes, many of the proceeds from these books were donated to organizations such as the World Trade Center Relief Fund, Survivors Fund, Twin Tower Fund, and the American Red Cross.
One of the bigger collaborations resulted in a two volume graphic novel series known as “9-11: September 11.”
The first volume was called “9-11: September 11 (Artists Respond)” and published by independent publisher Chaos!, Dark Horse, and Image Comics.

According to the solicitation on Amazon.com, “Among Volume One’s contributors are writer/artist William Stout, who shares the true story of a Yugoslavian citizen’s love of Americans; Stan Sakai, vividly recalling his last visit to New York City; and Paul Chadwick, who offers his interpretation of the heroism of the passengers on Flight 93, whose sacrifice kept September 11 from being an even more tragic day...”

Some other writers and artists telling their stories were Will Eisner, Frank Miller, Dave Gibbons, Eric Powell, and Tony Millionaire.

The second volume, “9-11: September 11 (The World’s Finest Comic Book Writers & Artists Tell Stories to Remember,” was published through DC Comics.

This volume is notable for an Alex Ross cover showing Superman and his pet, Krypto, looking in awe at a mural of police, firefighters, and paramedics. It continued the tone from the first one and included more stories from writers and artists such as Neil Gaiman, Stan Lee, Jim Lee, Neal Adams, and Ed Brubaker.

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