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Last updateWed, 10 Oct 2018 4pm

Comics

Heroes That Have Animal Instincts

default article imageWhen 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.

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‘Dark Horse Presents’ a New Anthology Volume

default article imageComic 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.

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Comics Fans Enter a New DC Universe

default article imageThe 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.

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Ultimate Spider-Man Webs New Wallcrawler

default article imageSuperheroes 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.

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Comics Turn the Page on Novel Adaptations

default article imageWhen 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.”

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How Comic Books Dealt With the Tragedy of 9/11

default article imageFollowing 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.

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