Category: Daily Planet

Graphic Spotlight – Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur: The Smartest There Is

Moon Girl is the smartest person in the entire Marvel Universe. If you didn’t know then you will after reading this graphic novel. Lunella Lafayette is getting a trade paperback collection of her third adventure. Her stories explored her experience of the world. Finally, this 4th grader is going on tour. She’s about to rub shoulders with heroes from all across the Marvel Universe. Be it the X-Men, Victor von Doom, or The Thing, everyone’s about to learn that she deserves a lot of R-E-S-P-E-C-T. And if they don’t give it to her, well, her best pal, Devil Dinosaur, might just beat it out of them. Together, they’re the perfect combination of brains and brawn!

Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur has been a gem of a series from the House of Ideas. There’re no doors this new dynamic duo cannot bust open. We live in a day and age where the grim and grittier comics are trying to play on an epic scale. Turns out one of the biggest journeys to take is through the eyes of a ten year-old Inhuman. Since the first issue from Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder, this book has been bursting with heart. Not to mention, it’s been delivering heartwarming moments. For those of you who’ve been waiting for the next chapters of Lunella and Devil Dinosaurs story, the anticipation is over.

Moon Girl declared as the smartest person in the entire MU was a welcome shocker. It’s not one they made lightly. It risked of alienating old school readers who love them some Tony Stark and Reed Richards due to controversy. However, Lunella and Devil Dinosaur have represented some of the best new stories out of the entire line of the biggest publisher in comics. She’s an inspiration to everyone she meets in her world and has been to a lot of people in ours. In conclusion, if you’ve been making excuses to avoid getting to know these BFF’s, you’ve run out.

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Val’s Toy Chest- High-End Items

Hey guys- not a lot of new stuff this week at the moment. There are, however some high-ticket items coming in this week and beyond courtesy of the folks from Sideshow.

Scheduled to arrive this week from Sideshow is my personal favorite- the Black Canary. Part of Sideshow’s Premium Format figure line, Dinah Laurel Lance’s statue features her standing atop a base designed to look like a section of a brick wall. Designed by Stanley Artgerm Lau, Dinah looks ready to throw down as she is shushing someone, possibly in preparation to release her earth-shattering Canary Cry. Black Canary is a mixed media statue featuring resin as well as fabric and would make any fan of the character happy. Standing about 21″ high, this piece would make an impressive centerpiece in any DC collection.

Coming relatively soon will be the next piece in Hot Toys’ Captain America: Civil War line- Iron Man! I’d say the figure based on the most recent cinematic armor in Tony Stark’s arsenal should be here sometime within the next week and a half. Based on its appearance in the aforementioned movie, the Iron Man Mark XLVI will be die-cast and have the usual Hot Toys articulation as well as interchangeable parts including a Tony Stark head to swap onto the Iron Man armor. Iron Man Hot Toys always seem to do well, so if you want one of these act as soon as possible. That being said, Iron Man will also feature in Spider-Man: Homecoming and the inevitable Hot Toys figure has already been announced and looks just as awesome as past figures have been.

Fans of old school suspense and horror movies will get a kick out of this next item. Mondo has crafted a 1/6 figure of one of the most renowned film directors ever- Alfred Hitchcock! Dressed in a suit and featuring a director’s chair as well as other accessories, Alfred Hitchcock would be a welcome addition to any film buff’s collection. He should probably arrive around the same time as the above-mentioned Iron Man figure.

NECA surprised me last week with the release of their 1/4 scale Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie Leonardo figure. The third in the series, Leo should be a popular item as he joins his brothers on your toy shelf. Leonardo features several points of articulation as well as his trademark katana. We also received the “lost” wave of Prometheus action figures at the tail end of last week which features figures of Shaw, Fifield and Vickers.  Each figure in this set is sculpted to resemble their respective actors and are in scale with past Prometheus/Aliens/Predator figures. Moreover, NECA recently announced series 12 of their Aliens line and it will feature two battle-damaged Xenomorphs, a new Ripley figure and a new Vasquez figure. I think my NECA Aliens figure collection is going to become a Vasquez/Ripley collection at this point as these new figures completely hit it out of the park.

That’s all for me this week- I should be at a convention this weekend and I will try and have a report here next week! See you then!

 

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Wonder Woman’s Odyssey Reaches It’s Apex!

Wonder Woman is currently destroying the standards for a female led superhero at the box office. The momentum behind the Amazonian princess is at a peak. This week, Greg Rucka and Bilquis Evely, look to have a major tentpole moment of their own in Wonder Woman #25. Everything Rucka has crafted with his top tier artists, Liam Sharp, Nicola Scott, and Evely, is coming to a head. Everything that began in “The Lies,” “Year One”, and that has continued with “The Truth” and “Godwatch” is going to be tied up in this extra-sized anniversary issue.

Her Rebirth has been something pretty extraordinary to behold. In the waning moths of the New 52 era, Themyscira’s greatest living import had been on rough times both critically and commercially in comic shops. After a resurgence for the first couple of years under the creative guide of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, fans had been leaving her on the shelf. Like so many titles though, the new initiative from DC ended up being a benefit to the characters, comic shops, and comic book readers. Except Wonder Woman has been unique even in the way she came charging back to the forefront of DC.

With a twice-monthly publishing schedule now, Mr. Rucka devised a way to keep his superstar artists fresh by having two stories in alternating issues. “The Lies” and “The Truth” have rolled out in the even numbered installments while the odds belonged to “Year One” and “Godwatch.” It was ambitious, to say the least. It did pose a challenge though: Would readers be able to keep up with both stories? Would it confuse consumers? How would they relate to one another. At long last, even though it’s not quite as long since, again, the book comes out twice a month, we’re going to see how everything comes to a close with what has been promised as an incredible finale. One of Wonder Woman’s most beloved creators is saying, “Goodbye”, and this issue will be the defining moment in his celebrated return to her adventures.

Will this final issue be the payoff we WW fans have been waiting for? Find out tomorrow!

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Crosswind #1 Takes Deadly Twists And Turns

Crosswind #1 is the Freaky Friday from Hell.

Fan-favorite creators Gail Simone and Cat Staggs are bringing you a new creator-owned series from Image Comics. It’s a deadly body swapping story involving a Chicago hitman and a Seatlle housewife. It sounds like an eighties sitcom put through the Cinemax lens (you never watched Banshee or Strike Back? Get to it!). There’re some high hopes that this will be a mind-bending hit from the home of the most critically acclaimed creators looking for some more editorial control over their content. For fans of sci-fi crime and mistaken identity stories that Hitchcock would have salivated over, this might be the new read you didn’t know you were missing.

The kind of story Crosswind is offering hinges on execution. In general, the best chance we have of figuring out if the execution will be excellent are the preview pages and the creators. It’s no secret that there are about five hundred comics that come out every month. That’s a lot of paper competing for the credits in your wallet. There has to be something to entice you that this series above a lot of others is going to be worth what you’ve worked hard for and will be a treat for that effort.

Gail Simone last hit us with Clean Room. It was a rather dark turn from a writer known for giving levity in even the most dire circumstances her characters go through. It was a critical home run for Vertigo, a publisher that was in need of a few of those at the time. Cat Staggs has been a cover hitmaker for a few years and has been growing more confident in her interior work. Her covers for the Wonder Woman ’77 story made Lynda Carter fans squeal and her Orphan Black work was the best part of the series. She’s been a highlight for every project she’s touched thus far. There’s a real chance of a new dynamic duo on the creator-owned scene.

Crosswind has a familiar hook, two intriguing respected creators, and the fact that they’re about to unleash their vision as they see fit on our shelves. Could be a fun ride filled with a lot of barrel rolls.

 

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Spider-Man’s Spectacular New Series

Spider-Man gets back to basics!

Over the last couple of years Peter Parker has undergone a makeover of sorts. He hasn’t been the only Spider-Man web slinging around the city. He’s also now the head of a global company called Parker Industries. It’s a little different from the bullied nerd in science class or the photographer scraping together enough to make ends meet. Peter Parker, in a lot of ways, has had a lot of luck going for him once he got his mind and body back as his own. Indeed, the Superior Spider-Man did a lot for Pete and he’s been reaping the benefits of it ever since. This hasn’t been your traditional friendly neighborhood wallcrawler.

Now, from the mind that brought you the recent Howard The Duck romp comes a back to basics approach to ol’ webhead. Chip Zdarsky and Adam Kubert are a dream team. They’re here to show you that Peter Parker’s as much of a lovable loser as he always was. Even if he’s winning on paper with a high-rise in Manhattan, that doesn’t mean he’s not got the soul of the Spider-Man we all grew up with. Now, this isn’t going to replace the main Amazing ongoing series. Instead, think of Spectacular as a sister series.

Finally, Peter will be back patrolling the neighborhood, grabbing a bite with Johnny Storm, maybe a classic team-up, and dealing with complex romantic debacles. There’ll be old fan favorite foes and some new ones who’ll be looking to build a place amongst the classics. And it’s Chip Zdarsky, so, you know, banter will abound. We gotta have a snarky Spidey!

If you’ve longing for a slightly more familiar status quo for Peter Parker, here’s your new favorite of the three ongoing series with the title, well, you know, in them. As much as things change, some things will always stay the same. Oh, and get your copy signed in-store by the creators tomorrow!

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Batman Rebirth 25

Batman #25 Oversized With Old Favorite Foes

Batman‘s greatest failure is on display in this super-sized milestone, Batman #25.

DC Rebirth‘s primary series about the Dark Knight, scribed by Tom King, has been mostly on a steady incline in quality. We’ve had touches of a lot of great villains throughout the run bringing in heavy favorites with the likes of Catwoman, Bane, and Scarface. Now though, the series is ready to touch on a couple cornerstones of Batman’s rogues gallery with the new arc, “The War of Jokes and Riddles.” The title should give you a couple of the unsubtle hints as to who we expect will be the Big Bads of this latest story in Batman’s seventy-six year history. However, what we’re being promised isn’t just the next Joker or Riddler scheme, the creators are going to take us back and explore one of Batman’s worst moments in his career.

Last issue featured the a major development in the life of both Bruce Wayne and his vigilante name. Will this prove to be the perfect time to go down a trip of memory lane? What is causing the Caped Crusader to hit the pause button on moving forward? What will he hope to learn and what lessons will we want to take from revisiting this part of his past?

In his own voice, Batman will be narrating this, at least first, chapter of a story meant to invoke classics like Year One and The Long Halloween. If we are indeed going back to the more formative years of Batman’s time as the protector of Gotham then that should well be cause of celebration. While it hopefully won’t be as dense on a month to month basis as Zero Year was, it will be interesting to see what new aspects of Batman’s early days that DC Comics will allow King to expose. One thing’s for sure, if it’s as good as we hope this issue will be then the bi-monthly shipping schedule will definitely make the wait bearable for the next chapter.

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A Taste of The Epic Untold Saga of Frankenstein The True Story

The Epic Untold Saga Behind
FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY (1973)
Explodes in the Special New Issue of
LITTLE SHOPPE OF HORRORS #38

by Sam Irvin

I’ve been a fan of Frankenstein: The True Story ever since it was first broadcast on NBC-TV in two parts in 1973. First of all, the cast was incredible: James Mason, Leonard Whiting, Michael Sarrazin, David McCallum, Jane Seymour, Nicola Pagett, Agnes Moorehead, Sir Ralph Richardson, Sir John Gielgud and Tom Baker! The scope of the movie was epic – and I later learned it had the highest budget of any made-for-television movie AND the highest budget of any horror film up to that time.

When Richard Klemensen, editor and publisher of Little Shoppe of Horrors, offered me the opportunity to spearhead an issue of the magazine devoted entirely to Frankenstein: The True Story, I couldn’t resist the opportunity.

This movie inspired an entire generation of writers and directors, myself included. Immediately upon seeing the film, Anne Rice was directly inspired to write Interview with a Vampire – and she has contributed a foreword to the issue.

Mark Gatiss (Sherlock) is another fan who contributed an essay called “Queer Frankenstein” examining the gay subtext of the film – which was scripted by legendary gay couple Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy.

Guillermo del Toro wrote that the movie is “quirky, brilliant and moving.”

So why is this film so often forgotten? It is my mission to rectify that injustice and to present, for the very first time anywhere, a detailed analysis of the making of this groundbreaking milestone – with over twenty interviews of cast and crew, including Leonard Whiting, Jane Seymour, David McCallum and co-screenwriter Don Bachardy. Whether you are a fan or not, the adventure behind its creation is so astounding, it is an epic unto itself. Prepare to catch your jaw before it drops to the floor.

To give you just a taste of what I have uncovered during years of investigation, here is an excerpt to whet your appetite – a chapter entitled The Elsa Lanchester Crisis:

Hunt Stromberg Jr., producer of Frankenstein: The True Story, set his sights on collecting guest stars to play the various featured roles in the film. For the part of Mrs. Blair, the nosy landlady of Dr. Frankenstein – which Ingrid Bergman and Bette Davis had already turned down – Stromberg wanted a “Una O’Connor type,” referring to the quirky Irish character actress who played Minnie, the mettlesome and skittish housekeeper, in Bride of Frankenstein.

In 1942, when Universal released The Ghost of Frankenstein, critics noted that certain actors in the movie, such as Lionel Atwill and Dwight Frye, had portrayed different characters in earlier Frankenstein films, prompting the studio to issue a press release stating that it was “the custom of the studio” to bring back some of “the same faces in each succeeding feature of the Frankenstein series.”

Inspired by this hallowed tradition, Stromberg suddenly became obsessed with the idea of Mrs. Blair being portrayed by Elsa Lanchester, 70 – next-door-neighbor of Frankenstein: The True Story screenwriters Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy – who had so memorably played Mary Shelley and the female creature in Bride. Stromberg met Lanchester in early 1935 when he was just 11-years-old – when she was simultaneously shooting his father’s movie Naughty Marietta at MGM and Bride of Frankenstein at Universal – and, from then on, she’d remained a family friend. In the 1960s, when Stromberg was VP of Programming for CBS, he personally cast her as a guest star on a number of CBS shows – and, impishly, he made a habit of ending letters with this tongue-in-cheek wrap-up: “Must close now, as Elsa Lanchester has just arrived to show off her new wart.”

Though she occasionally grumbled about her fame as the Bride, in truth, Lanchester basked in the glory of her most famous role – and, in the autumn of her career, she did not shy away from spooky projects that played upon that image, including Blackbeard’s Ghost (1968), Willard (1971) and an episode of Night Gallery (1972). And she certainly had no problem adding those two familiar wavy white streaks to her frizzy mane when she guest-starred as a mad scientist on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Brain-Killer Affair (1965) – a shameless sendup of her electrifying coiffure in Bride. That gig also introduced Lanchester to U.N.C.L.E. series regular David McCallum who would work with her again in Frankenstein: The True Story if Stromberg had his way.

Lanchester truly wanted to do it – but, alas, she was already committed to shoot two back-to-back, low-budget horror films in Hollywood at the very same time – Terror in the Wax Museum and Arnold for Bing Crosby Productions. Gnashing his teeth, Stromberg offered to buy out Lanchester’s contract but the producers held firm. Then, he turned to his associate producer Ian Lewis and said, “My father managed to work around Bride of Frankenstein in order to get Elsa into his movie. Why can’t we figure out a way to do the same?”

I remember ‘the Elsa Lanchester crisis’ very well,” recalled Ian Lewis. “Hunt damn near drove us crazy but, ultimately, she just couldn’t be reasonably scheduled.”

Heartbroken, Lanchester honored her contract and remained Stateside to perform in two of the most forgettable films on her resume. What’s even sadder is that, after finishing those films, she didn’t work again for two-and-a-half years (until her comeback in the all-star spoof Murder by Death).

For the role of Mrs. Blair, Stromberg finally landed Agnes Moorehead, 72, who had won an Emmy, two Golden Globes, and four Oscar nominations – not to mention her iconic role as Endora, Samantha’s witch of a mother, in Bewitched (1964-1972).

As luck would have it, Moorehead knew Una O’Connor quite well, having worked with the actress in RKO’s Government Girl (1943). So, Stromberg’s directive to play Mrs. Blair as “a Una O’Connor type” was taken to heart – resulting in Moorehead affecting a thick Irish accent and hamming it up for all it was worth.

This is just a tiny sliver of my 50,000-word exposé that is presented in Little Shoppe of Horrors #38. The making of Frankenstein: The True Story is jam-packed with surprises beyond your wildest imagination and reads like a Who’s Who, directly involving such luminaries as Marlon Brando, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Francis Ford Coppola, John Boorman, John Schlesinger, Jon Voight, Roman Polanski, Warren Beatty, Franco Zeffirelli, Olivia Hussey, Laurence Olivier, Frank Langella, Jacqueline Bisset, François Truffaut, Angela Lansbury, Boris Sagal, Barbra Streisand, Jon Peters, Mia Farrow, Sid Sheinberg, Lew Wasserman, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Geoffrey Holder, Harry Saltzman, Peter Ustinov, James Bridges, Albert Finney, Rex Harrison, Simone Signoret, Julie Christie, Lindsay Anderson, Richard Chamberlain, Mervyn LeRoy, Alec Guinness, Oliver Reed, Vanessa Redgrave, Orson Welles, Peter Bogdanovich, Valerie Hobson, John Profumo, Robert Morley, Peter Yates, Candice Bergen, George Seaton, Alan Bates, Maurice Jarre, Anthony Perkins, Michel Legrand, Burt Lancaster, John Barry, Anthony Quinn, Richard Rodney Bennett, Tuesday Weld, Neil Diamond, Ernest Borgnine, Mae West and Queen Elizabeth. I kid you not.

To help us celebrate the completion of this issue, events are being scheduled as though this were a book. Well, it pretty much is!

To kick things off on the West Coast, Creature Features – Taylor White’s amazing store and gallery in Burbank, California – is hosting a retrospective discussion and exhibit (of FTTS memorabilia and all the original artwork in the magazine) on Sunday, June 18, 2:00-3:30 PM, with guest panelists James Duke Mason, Julian Barnes (supporting actor in the film), Denise Mellé (widow of the film’s composer Gil Mellé), artist Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series) and yours truly. Limited edition prints, signed and numbered, of the cover mural artwork by Mark Maddox will be on sale exclusively at the Creature Features store/gallery and website.

On the weekend of June 23-25, LSoH editor Dick Klemensen, cover artist Mark Maddox, interior artist Neil D. Vokes and I will be attending the Monster Bash Convention near Pittsburgh, PA, to meet, greet and drumbeat the issue.

Then, it’s on to Manhattan where Dread Central & Forbidden Planet are co-presenting a FREE screening and discussion of Frankenstein: The True Story at the Quad Cinema, 34 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011, on Tuesday, June 27, 6:00-10:00 PM, hosted by legendary Tony Timpone (former editor of Fangoria). A unique 16mm print will be projected with everything from the original telecast, plus extra seconds of censored footage only seen in the foreign theatrical release. Guest panelists will include Alec Smight (son of the late Jack Smight, director of Frankenstein: The True Story), Philippe Spurrell (founder of Cinéclub/Film Society of Montreal; curator of this unique 16mm print), James Anthony Phillips (who wrote the sidebar on Gil Melle’s score for the issue) and, again, yours truly.

And, finally, on Thursday, June 29, from 6:00-8:00 PM, I will be signing copies of the magazine and chatting up a storm at Forbidden Planet, 832 Broadway, New York, NY 10003, thanks to the store’s intrepid manager / gore guru Matt Desiderio.

I look forward to seeing you at these special events and/or communicating with you on my Facebook page. I hope you enjoy the issue! It has been the ultimate labor-of-love.

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Val’s Toy Chest- Wonder Woman is Here!

All hail the princess known as Diana of Themyscira as she finally headlines her own solo feature film this week. As a result of the Wonder Woman film releasing this week, DC is making this Saturday June 3rd, Wonder Woman Day. Similar to previous years’ Batman Days, DC has provided some special material for Wonder Woman day this year, including a couple of special edition comic books as well as a tiara and bracelets. Further information is forthcoming on what else will take place in store on Wonder Woman day, but it should be fun.

If you’ve got an itch for Wonder Woman items, we’ve got several figures from the new film including the Princess Diana figure, Steve Trevor, the cloaked Wonder Woman and Queen Hippolyta figures from the DC Multiverse series, a bunch of awesome dolls including Diana in her blue dress from one of the more anticipated scenes shown in the trailer as well as other Mattel items.  We also have a few DC Collectibles figures and statues as well as miscellaneous other Wonder Woman product.

If you want to read more about the Amazing Amazon, there are several graphic novels available including Diana solo, with the Justice League of America as well as teamed up with Superman. Recommended runs from this Wonder Woman fan include the George Perez 1980’s series,  the Greg Rucka run from the early 2000s as well as his Rebirth stuff from the past year and Brian Azzarello’s New 52 storyline. There is also a Wonder Woman: The Art and Making of the Film book scheduled to drop this week featuring the behind the scenes aspect of the highly anticipated movie.

Briefly:

Old Man Logan makes his debut in the Marvel Gallery line from Diamond Select Toys. Standing approximately 9″ tall, Logan joins previous figures like Deadpool, Thor and Spider-Man in this popular line of vinyl figures.

Hot Toys has a few items scheduled to drop in the next few weeks including the Yoda figure and the Suicide Squad Purple Outfit Joker. Check back for news in this column on those as they are sure to be popular items.

Anyway that’s all for me this week- go see Wonder Woman this weekend, I definitely will! I’ll catch you next time!

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Frankenstein The True Story screening and signing!

Forbidden Planet is beyond stoked to inform you about not one, but two upcoming events for the release of issue #38 of Little Shoppe of Horrors!

A FREE SCREENING & DISCUSSION of FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY at THE QUAD CINEMA on TUESDAY, JUNE 27, 6:00-10:00 PM

AND

An IN-STORE SIGNING WITH SAM IRVIN at FORBIDDEN PLANET NYC on THURSDAY, JUNE 29, 6:00-8:00 PM

FREE SCREENING INFO:

Dread Central & Forbidden Planet in association with Cinéclub/Film Society of Montreal present a FREE New York City Screening & Discussion of FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY (1973) to celebrate the new issue of Richard Klemensen’s LITTLE SHOPPE OF HORRORS #38 featuring Sam Irvin’s definitive study on the making of this beloved, all-star, two-part telefilm.

The screening will take place on Tuesday, June 27, 6:00-10:00 PM at the recently reopened Quad Cinema located at 34 W 13th Street. Seating is limited. You MUST RSVP to Dread Central to guarantee a seat. No one will be admitted to the theater who is not on the RSVP list. Email your RSVP request to Dread Central at: screenings@dreadcentral.com

FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY will be projected from a unique 16mm print- which includes everything from the original telecast (including the James Mason introduction), plus extra seconds of censored footage only seen in the foreign theatrical release. Clocking in at an epic running time of 3 hours and 13 minutes.

The screening and Q&A will be hosted by Tony Timpone (former editor of Fangoria) and include special guests Sam Irvin (special project editor of the issue; director of ELVIRA’S HAUNTED HILLS, OBLIVION, DANTE’S COVE; co-executive producer of GODS AND MONSTERS), Alec Smight (son of the late Jack Smight, director of FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY; Alec visited the set daily and has written an essay in the magazine; Alec is now the three-time Emmy-nominated director-producer of CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION and CRIMINAL MINDS: BEYOND BORDERS), Philippe Spurrell (film archivist and founder of Cinéclub/Film Society of Montreal (CFS); curator of the unique 16mm print that will be projected; Philippe has written an essay about the various cuts of the film for the issue), and James Anthony Phillips (expert on composer Gil Mellé who wrote a sidebar for the issue on Mellé’s score to FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY).

Forbidden Planet will sell copies of Little Shoppe of Horrors #38 at the screening and all special guests will sign copies of the magazine at the conclusion of the Q&A.

IN-STORE EVENT INFO:

If you can’t make it to the screening you will still have a chance to meet Sam Irvin and pick up an autographed copy of Little Shoppe of Horror #38 at Forbidden Planet NYC on June 29th from 6 -8PM. That’s two days after the free screening.

PRE-ORDER SIGNED COPIES:

Wait… What’s that you say? You can’t make it to the screening and you also can’t make the in-store signing but you still want a copy of the new issue of Little Shoppe of Horrors autographed by Sam Irvin. Well don’t sweat it. Forbidden Planet has got your back as usual. You can pre-order signed copies from our webstore using the following link.

https://www.fpnyc.com/Little-Shoppe-Of-Horrors-%2338/07447090373438/Comics/Magazines//

 

 

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Time To Put A Cap On “The Button” In Flash #22

Time For The Pay Off In Flash #22?

After being delayed one week (not bad when you consider the track record for DC Comics and Marvel’s bigger arcs that stretch across several issues) the, hopefully, grand finale of “The Button” is going to hit the shelves running this week. We’ll have one final lenticular cover that will leave fans of the JSA and legacy characters from the DC Universe salivating. Plus we’ll get to see if DC’s two greatest detectives can solve this timey-wimey murder mystery. And of course we’ll have to figure out if the resolution was worth creating the problem in the first place.

After seeing father and son Batmen unite in Batman #22, the Flash and our Batman are back running through the Speed Force as the Flashpoint timeline is wiped out in there wake, something we’d all thought had already happened but it turns out some powerful entity (paging Dr. Manhattan?) has been keeping together. As they race through the Speed Force still seeking answers to the murder of Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash, they encounter…Eobard Thawne, the Reverse-Flash! The not quite dead yet speedster villain provided some tantalizing clues and is surely onto the scene at the end of Batman #21 that kicked off this whole storyline but where are we being led to?

Hopes are high as this has been a damn good jolt for Batman and Flash, if not thus far the be-all end-all storyline full of reveals a lot of readers have been clamoring for since DC Universe: Rebirth #1. Expect at least one big reveal and possibly in this week’s final chapter. At least, that’s what I’m expecting!

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The Phoenix Is Coming For Jean Grey #1

Jean Grey’s Time is Up, Her Time Is Now!

It’s been a difficult life for Jean Grey. Well, it might be if she doesn’t find a way to change her destiny. Trapped in our present, blocked from returning to her past, she’s about to find herself fighting off her future. Jean Grey’s never had her own solo series before. With the spotlight solely on Marvel Girl in this week’s Jean Grey #1 the big question that’s going to be raised is can she avoid becoming the Phoenix, and thus turning into the Dark Phoenix that, you know, murders a planet and almost kills all the X-Men then dies repeatedly? (Yeah, I know it’s a run on sentence, so’s her character history)

Dennis Hopeless is no stranger to Jean Grey, having written young Jean’s adventures in All-New X-Men. He’s a good fit to chronicle her destiny defying mission. With fellow X-Men franchise artist in tow, Victor Ibanez, there’s a lot of possibility for a great coming of age story about denying the inevitable by the will and actions of one person. If the preview pages are to be believed, this Jean Grey is ready to strike out a bit on her own and find her place. Except just when she think she’s found some space for change, she’s set to experience a vision of the Phoenix Force finding her and fulfilling the deadly fate we’ve read for decades. Will Jean Grey only fight the future and bring about her destiny? Can she find a way to avoid all that death and dying? We can find out together this week in Jean Grey #1 and take it from there.

 

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DC Rebirth’s Ticking Clock Starts As “The Button” Begins In Batman #21

DC’s two greatest detectives come together in Batman #21 as the mystery of “The Button” begins!

A good slow build is something we comic book readers don’t always appreciate nowadays. We’re becoming a culture of bingers who want the whole story on demand. It has to be on our time and oftentimes that means publishers rush through the journey. With “The Button” storyline that will take place across Batman and Flash over the next four weeks, DC Comics is looking to prove that sometimes the best things are ones we can endure waiting for.

At last, the next major step forward from the revelations of DC Universe: Rebirth #1 about the iconic smiley face button that appears in the Batcave will be explored! Will it bring the DCU that much closer to confronting the world of Alan Moore’s Watchmen? Well, we’ve been marching there all along haven’t we?

Rooted from last FCBD’s DC Rebirth story, then continuing with continuity-threatening revelations from DC Universe: Rebirth #1, this story has been building across several titles in DC for a year. Think about it, Mr. Oz and the events of the recent Superman Reborn storyline, the implications about Eobawd Thawne and Flashpoint-Batman, Thomas Wayne in Flash #19, the importance of Psycho-Pirate’s ability to remember all previous DC continuities throughout Tom King’s current run on Batman, it’s all building to this next major turning point.

Thawne, Thomas Wayne, and Psycho Pirate will be part of the mystery that Batman and Flash will be investigating. Time altering implications have been promised. This is the next major step forward in the two year epic that DC’s said will carry on across their entire publishing line. It’s no secret that after this story, Batman will realize that war is imminent. But war with who or what?

A kudos to DC, it’s not easy anymore to make us wait for all the answers but based on the quality of the breadcrumbs they’ve been leaving us, it definitely feels like the answers we’re about to get could be very satisfying. Of course, everything won’t be revealed over the next four weeks. After all, where’s the fun in that? Hey, maybe I’m wrong though, maybe what a Comedian once said is true, “This is a joke. This is all a joke.” If it is, will we be laughing or cringing when it’s done?

We’ll begin to find out in Batman #21.

 

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Creative Conversation: Brandon Montclare

Welcome to a Creative Conversation with comics scribe Brandon Montclare. Today we’ll dish on currently captivating run on Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur, his controversial essential reads for newbies to comics, and some of his insane journey from intern, to editor, to writer. Along the way we’ll make pit stops at Tokyo Pop, DC Comics, Vertigo, and discuss some tips for new writers wanting to break into the comic book industry. And of course, we’ll get Brandon’s take on whose faces would be on his personal Mt. Rushmore of comics. Agree? Disagree? Let’s start the process…

MK: I am ready to have our next Creative Conversation with the current co-scribe of Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, THE Brandon Montclare. Thanks for joining me today, sir. Kind of just to ease in, get a little bit of background, do you remember the first comic you purchased, or the first one that stuck with you?

BM: Yeah, no, I never have and people ask me all the time. I’ve thought about it and I’ve thought, okay let me try to reconstruct that “what was my first comic” and truth be told it was Savage Sword of Conan. And I was a little kid, and we had the direct market but about a million stuff you would see on the newsstand and Savage Sword of Conan being magazine size either just by luck of where I lived or because of the actual distribution I couldn’t tell you. It was a little more common.

MK: Do you miss the magazine format?

BM: Yes, very much so. And they were kind of old, kind of before my time even though Savage Sword of Conan lasted for a million years and I was reading it all throughout. But it would  have been “Savage Sword somewhere in the early hundreds and I actually, okay, so I had this one and this was earliest, and you go online to find it. And then I said, “Okay, I know Spider-Man with the black costume was around that time” and Daredevil, I know the covers. Was Marvel Team-Up, I was joking earlier about Starfox before but there was this Marvel Star Fox, this Marvel Team-Up was a book I had and I can’t find anything online about it.

MK: But you know it existed because you owned that comic.

BM: Well yes, because I said I had that and I saw that cover a hundred times. You know what that means? So, and then I should remember what the numbers are and everything else but I don’t. So…

MK: I’m terrible with remembering numbers. I’m like you, I can remember the cover, I can remember the story, but the actual issue number, I’m just not wired that way.

BM: Yeah but I have brothers who are four years older than me. Two of them, they’re twins of each other and there were comic books around and my grandfather, he was a big reader of magazines in general but also comic books and everything else. Because he spent many years at sea. He worked on, for Exxon, he worked on ships, he was an engineer. So it was kind of part of his personality where he would, even though he at that point working was up at Albert Einstein Hospital up in the Bronx, but he kind of still had that mentality where it was, “You’re in port so go buy a bunch of stuff and then take it back to your little room on the ship” so to speak. So he would buy comics and magazines and everything else like that. And the comics at least would filter down.

MK: That’s incredible. The generational passing of the stories. I mean, it’s one of those really special things about comics though.

BM: Yeah, and I don’t know that he even grew up on comics. It was just something where he would, you’d be at sea for a couple of months so he would go and he would just take Time magazine and he would take all the comics, too. And like I said he was a big reader. So there were always piles around. What the first one is I don’t know. But Savage Sword of Conan was a favorite.

MK: Were there any other series growing up that stick with you?

BM: Yeah, you know it was probably a year or two after my, quote-unquote, “first comic” that I was into collecting. I was in grade school, right, so it’s not like you have money to be a real collector but it starts with maybe the issues that you missed that you want to have. I think you’re influenced back then in the 80’s, mid-80’s, with all the advertisements in the books were for back issues. You know what I mean? And collectors are all, “Oh, I want this, that and the other thing.” Oddly enough I don’t know if it was because of Conan or not but Groo was one of my favorite books. That was probably the first run of comics I had. But then there was a lot of Marvel stuff. I liked Spider-Man, all the titles they had like, three titles, right? Web of Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man, and Amazing Spider-Man. I was in full swing when all that pre-Image stuff came out. When like McFarlane Spider-Man and Jim Lee’s X-Men and everything else. But, yeah, so I was a big fan, Mostly Marvel. Some DC also, I liked Green Lantern along with Batman.

MK: So you’re collecting comics as a kid. And you’ve had probably one of the most unique journeys that I can think of, as far as how many different boxes in the comics world you can check off having done. Can you tell people a little bit about your journey.

BM: I mean, I guess I’ve done it all. I was in junior high, so, I don’t know-seventh grade, and selling at local conventions. I grew up near enough to New York City. My father grew up in Manhattan and, uh, but my parents were divorced so, I shouldn’t say that, my father lived in Manhattan. I grew up in Westchester. But even Westchester had a bunch of comic stores. New York had a monthly comic convention. So, since I was eleven or twelve, I was selling every month at the Grady Stern conventions. You know, buying and selling. Making a little bit of money. Then, at nineteen, I opened up a comic book shop. And this would have been in the crash of the early-mid 90’s. So…

MK: So you’re timing was perfect.

BM: Well, I don’t think as a nineteen year-old I could have opened, I did open a shop. I should say there was a shop going out of business and I took over half of it. Which was Alternate Realities up in Scarsdale. Which I always proudly said, “still going strong” but not anymore. They closed up about a year ago.

MK: But it’s a legendary comic shop. If you know comic book stores, you know about Alternate Realities. And they had that documentary on it and everything.

BM: Yeah, yeah yeah! So I was a former employee but, so, yeah, worked at cons, worked at retail, at nineteen it was very cool to be a comic shop owner. In my mid-20’s, I personally didn’t feel it was that cool anymore (laughs). And it was a lot of work, you know. I mean you’re working more than eighty hours a week.

MK: People don’t realize the hours that goes into running a comic book shop.

BM: Yeah, definitely. So, I was married, well I still am married, my wife at the time, and still my wife (laughs) so I have no idea why I’m phrasing it that way.

MK: Congratulations (laughs).

BM: Yeah, there you go. She was relocating for school, she has a Ph. D in chemistry. We’re basically fire and ice on the formal education scale. But she was doing a post-doctorate in California, Cal Tech. It was supposed to be eighteen months, wound up being two and a half years. I’d sold most of my interest in the store. I went back to school. And as part of that I got an internship working at Tokyo Pop. In editorial. Tokyo Pop, infamous, maybe more than famous. They did translations of manga. That was kind of their bread and butter. They had a lot of money coming in and always trying to expand the business. People would literally call up the office or contact the office and say, “Oh, we want to do a cartoon of Fruits Basketor “We want to take Sailor Moon and put her on a lunch box.” Tokyo Pop only had a license to do reprints, right? They didn’t have any merchandising rights. So, the Powers That Be, who were a bunch of lunatics, said “We should start creating comics in the manga style, with creators, and that way we have properties that we can license off.” And they had a bit of a controversy with some of the deals that they gave to creators and I’m not saying that stuff was weird over at Tokyo Pop. A lot of good people worked there, too.

MK: How long were you at Tokyo Pop?

BM: I was there probably a little bit more than a year. It seems like a long time because you’re young. But I was an intern and then they hired me as like a freelance editor. Which only meant that [I] kind of had reduced hours which was fine because, as I said, I’d gone back to school.

MK: So you were editing manga for Tokyo Pop while you were also going to school.

BM: Yes.

MK: That’s the best side gig ever.

BM: (Laughs) It’s, well, it’s complicated because you don’t know what you’re going to do with life. You know, my wife has a Ph. D in chemistry so her kind of goal and the plan always was to find an academic position. Tenure track someplace. Which luckily wound up being back in New York, she’s at NYU. But it could have been anywhere. So it’s like, “Oh, I’ll go back to school, I’ll do something, and we’ll see.” I was a terrible student in high school. And my first phase of college. But when I went back I became a very good student. So we had no idea though [whether] we would wind up in College Station, Texas A&M or you might wind up at Syracuse, right, not necessarily the biggest cities in the world. And I had done some writing also for Tokyo Pop. But I wasn’t really thinking of that. So, like I said, I was doing my thing at Tokyo Pop and a lot of these type of businesses have a structure. You know interns would become a freelance editor like me then maybe they would offer you a staff position. And I got offered a staff position right when things were looking like they were about to get bad. So I was one of the, I hate to say rats leaving a sinking ship BUT ended up locating back to New York anyway.

MK: When you got back to New York where did you land?

BM: At DC Comics. I was lucky, I got, well I should say I was offered from Marvel and at DC Comics to be an assistant editor and maybe because I was overqualified more than I was just super brilliant. But both those places were getting hundreds of applications. But I worked for Bob Schreck over at DC Comics. And the reason I took DC, even though I was reading more Marvel stuff growing up was the opportunity to work with Schrek on All-Star Superman and All-Star Batman, with Paul Pope on Batman: Year 100

MK: Just, little known titles that probably no one’s ever heard of (laughs).

BM: And that was stuff and for a short time, when I knew that I was coming in and Bob was transitioning out of it just the regular Bat-office. I didn’t want to miss out on that opportunity. Because I loved editing. I had done some freelance writing, and a lot of people have a goal of becoming a freelance writer. It wasn’t my goal. I loved editing. A lot of me wishes I could still do it.

MK: What was one of the most rewarding aspects about editing and what was one of the most challenging aspects?

BM: The reward was completely, it’s like, when you’re a kid you want to be an artist, you want to be a writer, whatever you want to do, you want to be the creator. But when you think about it, [being an editor] it’s the ultimate fan position. I mean, I’m a writer, if I’m working on two or three books, which would be a lot for me, but even if you’re the most prolific writer working on four books-

MK: Oh, you mean Jeff Lemire? (Chuckles)

BM: Yeah, there you go (laughs). Maybe more than four, I worked with Jeff, I was the first editor on Sweet Tooth. And that came later. So, you get to work with all these guys, you get to work with a bunch of, you know what I mean, you get to work with artists and writers. And by that point I was into a lot of new people. I mean I gave Shane Davis some of his first jobs, Amy Reeder her first job, Sean Murphy, I kind of worked on his early stuff. Also got to work with Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, Michael Kaluta.

MK: You get to work with your heroes and help maybe create some new heroes in the process.

BM: Yeah, so it was like amazing to be an editor. What are the challenges? Generally it’s a nine to five job. Given the opportunity to work freelance there’s that, you don’t have to go to the office everyday. But the challenge at DC was, and it wasn’t unfair, but it’s just kind of the reality of that work, is you’re low man on the totem pole. You’ve got to wait your turn. I had gotten a few books that had gotten approved that I had a hundred percent put together myself. There’s a China Mieville Swamp Thing that never came out…That’s not a secret, it got absorbed back into DC and this was later, towards the end of me being there, it was New 52 spinning out where it was, “Oh, we’re going to bring him downstairs.” And that was a Scott Snyder book. So China had written, I think, it might have been the full scripts on the first ten issues. They certainly had the outlines so they made good by him for his work.

MK: That’s one of those situations I’m always amazed by. It’s learning how many scripts have been written for characters by major creators that’ll never see the light of day. And you’re wondering how it just stays in a drawer.

BM: Yeah, there’s an issue eleven of All-Star Batman that was never drawn. And it was kind of like a standalone Joker story. So there’s a Frank Miller script that was never drawn. And I think part of the reason was, and with good intentions, that Frank and Jim Lee would come back one day, maybe condense it to give it an ending. You know what I mean? That thing was paced for four hundred million issues

MK: If Marvel finally got out Captain America: White and David Lapham finished the initial run on Stray Bullets, I still can have hope for All-Star Batman & Robin.

BM: Yeah, but thinking about that script, if Jim Lee’s only got time to draw one issue then every six issues you’d have to restructure it so that’s something but there’s stuff like that. So at the end of DC I was doing too many books, uh, more than they would let me as an Associate Editor. And at that time Paul [Levitz] had stepped down and there was kind of an interim, they didn’t name the Dan DiDio, Jim Lee double-headed publisher so, it was time to go. So I said, “Okay, I’m not going to give away books that I singlehandedly put together just because I have too many books.”

MK: How did you find the transition from being an editor to being a writer? Did you feel more prepared?

BM: Well, I had done some writing before. At one point you’re mystified by it where you don’t even know how this comes together. It’s probably a lot easier now than it was ten or so years ago because of the internet. I mean obviously the internet was around ten years ago but maybe it’s easier to get scripts and talk with creators with social media kind of demystifying it. So I think a lot of it is that. [As an editor] you’re familiar with scripts, you’re familiar with artists. You know more what does work, what doesn’t work. And if you have a good head on the shoulders coming out of editorial maybe even if you’re not the best writer – And I’m not saying I’m the best writer or the worst or anything else – but I did the stupidest thing imaginable. I left on very good terms, everybody loves me over at DC. I didn’t want to be the guy, because I’d taken so much pride in editing, and a lot of people use that as a stepping stone and are upfront about it, and that’s totally cool. But I loved editing so much, I didn’t want to be the guy that was even perceived as using editing to take a stepping stone to writing. That was half of it. The other half says, “Hey, since I’m going freelance writing, why don’t you give me a couple of books?” I didn’t want to make other people feel like they had to humor me. So my first gig was kind of a cold gig at Marvel. I mean nothing’s cold because everybody knows everybody. But my first gig was at Marvel having no connection to them as a publisher. Like anybody else I had a couple of short things that nobody remembers. The first thing I did wasn’t the first thing that got printed. The first was an eight page back up, it was in Hulk, it was with Korg, who was The Thing, Ben Grimm looking alien from Journey into Mystery #83, the first appearance of Thor. Which Greg [Pak] had been hocking and then brought into continuity. And it’s funny because, in comics, people think, “Oh, I’m going to pitch Hawkman. And it’s going to be such a good idea that they’re going to give me my gig and it’s going to be Hawkman.” Or, “I’ve got the best pitch for Spider-Man and Black Cat, I’m gonna pitch that and they’re going to give me that book.” What happens often, and it’s probably the first half dozen gigs you’re going to get is that an editor likes your stuff and they groom it for you. So they say, “Hey, Brandon, we’re doing eight page back ups for all the supporting characters in Hulk. Do you want to do Korg? Because nobody’s doing Korg.” My answer was literally, “Korg, that’s fantastic! A hundred percent. That’s my favorite.” I had to go look up for Korg was (laughs).

MK: When someone offers you a job, you take the job.

BM: Yeah!

MK: It’s like, “yes, sir, I can build that submarine for you! When’s that check in the mail?”

BM: Absolutely. And I got Simon Bisley to do it since I worked with him when he was on Hellblazer. I was the guy that said let’s put him on covers. Which isn’t a brilliant move. Right? I mean Simon certainly had done covers before he’d done any for me. But-

MK: Still a good get.

BM: Yeah. What came out first but that I wrote second was, there was a crossover called Chaos War, which was with Hercules and there was a bad guy in that called the Chaos King. And I got to do the Chaos King one-shot and it wound up being over-sized…They wanted to feature the bad guy who had to speak in haiku? In all appearances. And I said, “Well that’s fine if he’s like the mysterious guy,” cause he had this God-like power cosmic level. So I said, “Well, that’s fine if he’s the guy behind the star that Hercules hears, he can hear it in haiku. But if you want to have an actual story with him, how often does he have to talk in haiku?” I sent that letter in. And it’s technically my second gig so I’m trying to be very nice saying, “What if I, I’ll give him a voice obviously that fits a cosmic entity but maybe I can just punctuate it with haiku. Like maybe he’ll start in a different voice and then when makes a big point he’ll do it in haiku.” I wondered if we could get away with that and I got a response that said, “No, he always speaks in haiku.” So I had to make a thirty page story with a guy speaking in haiku. Luckily, he’s a cosmic entity so I broke it up so that it was different people bouncing it off of him. But, when the actual, if Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak are reading, they should cover their eyes right now, because when Chaos War came out, Chaos King, he wasn’t talking in haiku in every scene. So it’s like, “Thanks, thanks a lot.” (laughs) They tried that for a day and decided “not.”

MK: And it was your day.

BM: Exactly.

MK: When you were an editor and you were getting a pitch, were there certain things you looked for fundamentally? In terms of formatting or the types of pitches? What advice would you give to someone writing their first pitch?

BM: Unfortunately, editors are different…You want to tailor something to an editor and you want to tailor it to your strengths. I always try to not get hung up on format. I always thought it was crazy, you’d say, “Give me a pitch in the form you think is strongest” but the editor wants it a certain way. So, some editors will give out, if not an outline, “Here’s the pitch that I got that’s the perfect form, use this.” And sometimes that’s the demands of the publisher they’re at because it has to cycle through certain things. But, obviously you want to keep it short. Because these things happen in stages. A lot of places can’t take unsolicited pitches anyway. So you have to have a relationship. A lot of the gigs are going to come in. I did have to give a pitch on the story of what Korg was going to do (laughs). I mean it was eight pages so it probably didn’t take me too long. This is the least sexy answer. You’re probably going to be in a relationship with them if you’re pitching anything now. And they’ll tell you what they need. But personally, shorter is always better. Because things will change so much anyway. And if you have something you believe in, think of it this way, your editor believes in you but if you got the assistant, like I was, he’s got to convince a lot of people above him. You almost don’t want to have too much information in it because that generates more questions.

MK: The more information you give, the more opportunities you’re giving someone to poke holes in it and you’re not necessarily in the room to talk it through.

BM: Exactly. So you don’t want to get too married to your pitch. The process of rewriting and going through the team it’s going to be so different anyway. To me, you want to sell yourself. Because the editor’s going to have an easier time selling the talent than the pitch.

MK: See, that’s brilliant. That’s, brilliant. I don’t know what you mean that’s not a sexy answer.

BM: Well people want a formula. And that, you’ll be forgiven for being a little bit overenthusiastic, you hope (laughs). Because everyone’s excited and everyone in comics was the person who at one point wanted to be in comics. So hopefully they’re forgiving.

MK: Also, if you catch them on a bad day…

BM: It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen. And some people will be jerks, that’s going to happen, to0. But you know, you have to make it happen.

MK: Switching gears a bit, and thank you again for very generously taking the time to do this. Your Mount. Rushmore of comics, who would go on there?

BM: I read the first installment and I was thinking about this question. So, for me, all I could think about was who should be on the actual Mount Rushmore of comics. And then I realized, well, I have to also make this somewhat controversial. Alright. So that I thought of and then I forgot everyone. Well, first you got to put Stan Lee. Because Stan Lee doesn’t get enough credit. Well, okay he gets a lot of credit, but people ask, “Oh, does he deserve so much credit?” I’m a big fan of Stan Lee. I don’t know about his business dealings. I don’t know about his personal dealings…I’m sure he’s taken credit from a lot o people. But he’s kind of the guy that made comics what it is, I think. And not by his writing and maybe not by his editorial acumen, maybe it is, I don’t know, but just by being the hawker. Neal Adams has to be on there. Frank Miller has to be on there. Neal Adams because just such an influential artist but also did more for creators rights which I also think translates to in a lot of ways creative freedom and people being able to do their best work, which I think more than everybody else combined. Frank Miller because he did everything in my mind. He was a writer, he was an artist, jumped into Hollywood and was able to sell himself there. Well, if you put Stan Lee on there I guess you have to put Jack Kirby on. And then I think about wanting to create controversy and then people are going to think I hate Jack Kirby, I love Jack Kirby. I do a Kirby book! So I’d almost throw Todd McFarlane on there just to drive people crazy. And I say that completely seriously though.

MK: McFarlane revolutionized the business. You can’t argue that. Whether you think it was for the better or worse, or what you think of what he’s become now and what he was then. But you can’t deny his contribution.

BM: He was a popular artist and people [still] dig his stuff. And not for an artist but for his contribution to the business. So my personal Mount Rushmore is, I’ll give you four guys I like and it’ll change down the road. I’m a big Sergio Aragones fan, and these are just guys who influenced me and I like. I’m a big Larry Stroman fan because Alien Legion was the first book I really liked. And that stuff totally holds up now…Amy Reeder and Frank Quitely on there, too. I worked with them, too.

MK: I might put Amy Reeder in the top five of everything. And I hope she’s going to read this.

BM: She is a world class artist that I’ve gotten to work with a lot. Having sat next to her at dozens of conventions, the list of people that seek her out to tell her, “How do you do that, you’re amazing?” From Bill Sienkiewicz, to Frank Quitely, to Adam Hughes or lots of artists in between. I mean, she’s that good.

MK: And you guys have worked together, on Madame Xanadu you were an editor, you selected her for a competition at Tokyo Pop-

BM: That’s true.

MK: And then you’ve got Rocket Girl that you created together. And now you’ve got Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. What makes you the yin to each other’s yang?

BM: It’s just cause it works. Friendship and working with friends, I think, is underrated. I hired Amy, I gave her her first gig at Tokyo Pop. It was a contest. And she won it fair and square, I was the judge on one of them. We would take the top ten entries and make a little anthology out of them. I thought she was really talented. I was then leaving Tokyo Pop si I never got to stick around and work with her directly. I always wanted to work with her so I got her the Madame Xanadu gig at Vertigo. Which was a lot of fun to work on. And you know, as an editor you take a lot of credit for hiring somebody but they’ve got to make you look good. If I put her in the batter’s box, she’s got to hit out of the park or at least try to get on base and she hit it out of the park again and again and again. We had a really good relationship And when she was a little bit burnt out after Batwoman and leaving DC it was, let’s just do a quick project I don’t even want to think about it. Which became the Halloween Even one-shot which was very successful. And then we said, “Hey, we should do more of this.” So we tried something longer which was Rocket Girl. We decided we’d do five issues and see how it does. Who knew ten issues would take four years. In a way it hasn’t been a tremendous amount of pages but some of that is it takes a lot of time for Amy to do what she does.

MK: Sure, comics can take a long time to make.

BM: So Rocket Girl was a lot of fun. Rocket Girl opened the door to Moon Girl literarlly when Marvel said, “We want you to do something at Marvel like you guys do with Rocket Girl.” Amy wasn’t sure if she’d be able to draw that but she’s a great writer. And really doesn’t get enough credit for it.

MK: You had already seen her chops as a writer.

BM: Yeah, so we’ve co-written for Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, this is not a secret, she’s leaving with issue nineteen. And she did her part, she also did covers and designs. Amy can pick up the phone and call ten different publishers and get twenty different offers for covers. It was for her because Rocket Girl wasn’t coming out on the shelf as often so if she was going to do a cover, she should do one on something she was writing. Then it became a comfort level, her not growing up on the Marvel and DC stuff, working with me.

MK: Okay, now for the few people reading this that haven’t read Moon Girl yet, how would you describe the title?

BM: Well, it’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Devil Dinosaur is an old Kirby dinsoaur that went out eating other dinosaurs and sometimes some cave men. Marvel came to us and said, “Hey, give us some ideas of what you can do.” And we wanted some obscure characters so it started with Devil Dinosaur but when it went to Moon Girl, she gave us something creatively to get excited for. So if you look at my files on computer it went from Devil Dinosaur, to Devil Dinosaur and Moon Girl, to Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Whereas it is really, with all due to respect to Devil Dinosaur it’s really a book about Moon Girl. She is a nine year-old super smart engineer, inventor, scientist, who doesn’t get any recognition. She’s still in public school and doesn’t get why the world around her isn’t respecting how smart she is. Over the course of now eighteen issues going strong, Marvel, and this is an idea we pitched to them that they picked up on, Marvel has named her the smartest person in the Marvel Universe. But she’s still a kid, she still has challenges of getting along in the world. And Devil Dinosaur has become a buddy comedy, where maybe it’s her with the least smartest person in the Marvel Universe. But it’s a person who doesn’t judge her, that’s very faithful, that she can rely in, and in her entire life she hasn’t had that. And they form a bond.

MK: Right now, in recognition of her new status, she’s in the midst of the story arc, “The Smartest There Is” that’s getting ready to wrap up. She’s rubbed shoulders with X-Men, Hulk, Doctor Strange, can you give our readers a tease of what to expect from the final chapter of this epic adventure?

BM: Yeah, sure. What’s coming up is, this was really a coming out party for Moon Girl. It’s one thing to say she’s the smartest person, it’s another thing to show it. So how do you show it? With someone that’s always been isolated let’s show her meet all the heavy hitters. It was Hulk and then Thing, and then Iron Heart, and Dr. Strange, and most recently the X-Men. Issue eighteen is called, “Full Moon” and it’s a battle royale versus a mysterious Doctor Doom that doesn’t seem to match any of the other Doctor Dooms in Marvel right now. It will also have a pretty big reveal of Moon Girl’s powers, that she switches brains with Devil Dinosaur and some other cool stuff coming up. It’s been kind of the opening trilogy, I mean it is the third arc. But issues one through eighteen is in a lot of ways the first arc. And it’s going to kind of leave her, where she started as a nobody, now she’ll have a defined place in the Marvel Universe. The next arc after that will actually take a step back and just focuses on Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. I don’t want to spoil it too much but there’s a secret mission they have to do.

MK: No spoilers, I hate spoilers. If people want the secrets revealed they should come down to Forbidden Planet and pick up what is, I say unabashedly, one of the best books from the House of Ideas.

BM: That’s right.

MK: Okay, last questions. For someone who maybe has never read a comic book before. If you were running a store today and somebody walked in, what five stories would you tell them to read?

BM: Okay, I worked in a store and all my reads are wrong! I say, don’t read Watchmen, that’s something people should read later, it’s too confusing but people read Watchmen and love it. I say, “Sandman’s great but start with the second trade.” Which they actually used to do (laughs). But people seem to just want it all. And it’s funny having worked on both All-Star Superman and All-Star Batman & Robin, another fire and ice, All-Star Superman is great, and it won all the awards, but All-Star Batman & Robin might be a little more, accessible? I don’t know, do you have to love and be familiar with comics to read All-Star Superman? I do not know. But, Saga, you can pick it up and read it right away. So that’s number one. I think, Dark Knight Returns doesn’t get enough credit, because people always want to try to get cute and say, “Oh, you should do Year One instead.” Year One’s a perfectly good story but I’m going to put that classic on there. See I got to be contrary and do all weird stuff.

MK: Do it! You got three more.

BM: Daytripper, which I edited. I worked on a lot of great books, some of which I was just lucky enough to be sitting there when Bob Schreck landed them or Karen Burger landed them. Daytripper might be the best thing I ever worked on. And I think everyone can read it. It’s got an interesting form, it shows you what comics can do.

MK: I agree.

BM: I teach a class, too, so I should be a little bit more up on this stuff. You know, keeping it new also, Ms. Marvel, I think is as good as advertised and it’s a great book. And for the last one, because it’s obscure but great, Dial H For Hero by China Mieville and that’ll bring us full circle. I don’t know if those are essential but those are five oddball ones. Ask me again in five minutes, I’ll give you five new ones.  

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- DC Icons and More

This week’s new toy releases focus on several major characters from DC’s pantheon. Included are DC’s premier heroine, a Milestone mainstay, one of the Titans’ greatest foes, a former Titan turned Justice Leaguer and the protector of the green.

DC Icons makes a huge splash this week with four new single-packed figures and one deluxe figure pack. Wonder Woman as seen in the Justice League: The Amazo Virus, Static, Deathstroke the Terminator from The Judas Contract, Cyborg from Forever Evil and Swamp Thing from Dark Genesis are the latest characters to receive a DC Icons figure. Each figure comes with dedicated accessories such as an Un-Man for Swamp Thing, interchangeable arms and a generator for Cyborg, a lasso, sword and shield for Wonder Woman, electrical effects for Static and an arsenal of weapons for Deathstroke. This is in addition to the usual interchangeable hands that come with the figures.

Everyone’s favorite vampire hunter- Blade is joining the POP vinyl family this week with the release of the Previews Exclusive Marvel Heroes Blade POP Vinyl. Blade features the character with his teeth bared clad in black leather and brandishing a sword. Blade should be a popular one so get him while you can. Significant recent POP vinyl releases include Mr. Poopy Butthole from Rick and Morty, Cat in the Hat and Dr. Seuss POPs and Herry Monster from Sesame Street.

The latest wave of Power Rangers Legacy figures should be hitting our shelves this week. This new wave features the last figure to build the classic Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Megazord with the release of that series’ Yellow Ranger, other figures in the set include the White Ranger from MMPR, plus the Black, Blue and Pink Rangers from Power Rangers in Space. Along those lines, we should be getting another small shipment of the Voltron Legendary Defenders line. Specifically the Red, Blue, Yellow and Green Lions.

We got in a small restock on older and some new Bandai items this week including Bruce Lee figures, The Joker from Suicide Squad, some Dragon Ball Z, Ranma 1/2 and Sailor Moon characters. I don’t know how long these figures will last as some of these haven’t been in the store in ages. Part of this Bandai shipment included new Tamashii Buddies of the Pink and Red Ranger and Lord Zedd from MMPR and a new line of Star Wars model kits.

Briefly:

Legends of Tomorrow’s season finale aired this week, while Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl are all on hiatus til the end of the month. Will the Legends defeat the Legion of Doom and destroy the Spear of Destiny? We’ll know the answer to this by the time this article sees print.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer celebrated its 20th Anniversary this year and I will do a brief retrospective on the toys and the show in the next column.

Spider-Man Legends are back again with Shocker, Spidey 2099, Ms. Marvel, Black Costume Spidey, Green Goblin, The Jackal and Spidey-UK all gracing our store shelves once more.

That’s all for me this week- catch you all next time!

 

 

 

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- Two Cats, A Riddler and an Instant Team…

DC Collectibles is back at it this week with two brand new pieces in their Batman: The Animated Series line. This time around, the characters hail from the Kids WB iteration of The New Batman Adventures.  Catwoman comes in her sleek all-black outfit, complete with her blue-green makeup, interchangeable hands, her cat, a whip and a figure base. Selina comes with the usual points of articulation you’ve come to expect by now from a DC Collectibles Batman Animated figure. Ms. Kyle isn’t the only Bat-Rogue to arrive this week, as Edward Nygma himself- The Riddler also makes his appearance in this line.  Dressed in his lime green jumpsuit complete with matching bowler hat, the Riddler features multiple points of articulation, a question mark cane, interchangeable hands and a figure base.

That’s not all arriving this week from DC Collectibles either. DC’s Icons series may have slowed down a bit, but here’s a chance to get a full team for a fairly decent price. Superman, Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Cyborg all appear in this Rebirth Justice League box set with each figure standing about 6″ tall.  If past DC Collectibles box sets are any indication, this one will be popular.

In other toy news- Black Panther is imminent- fans of Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal of the Wakandan Prince T’Challa in last summer’s Captain America: Civil War will love this new addition to the ever popular Hot Toys line. I anticipate that he will be in store either by the time you read this article or shortly after. Black Panther will feature a highly articulated 1/6 scale body, authentically detailed costuming, interchangeable hands and a character base. With everyone asking about this figure, I anticipate this one will fly out of here.

I don’t typically post about prop replicas in this column, but there is a really sweet inexpensive piece coming to us via Sideshow from QMX. I first saw this piece at Toy Fair and was blown away by the look and the pricing. Based on the prop’s appearance in the recent DC Cinematic Universe films, the iconic Batarang sits atop a magnetic display base and is made from a zinc alloy. It is also a 1:1, so it is life-sized. I think you’ll probably like this one, once you see it.

Funko POPs are still going strong and we have one new addition that I think you’ll be excited for. Fans of the Netflix series, Daredevil can now add the titular hero to their POP collection as he appeared in the second season of his hit show. Joining him is the famed assassin herself, Elektra. No word on the Punisher yet, but it should be soon.

Briefly:

DC’s Multiverse line from Mattel is dropping in limited numbers this week, this assortment will feature Batman Jim Gordon, The Batgirl of Burnside, Dark Knight Returns Joker, The false Jay Garrick from The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow’s Hawkman and a collect and connect figure of King Shark. More cases should arrive soon.

Make it So with Titans’ Star Trek: The Next Generation blind box series. Each blind box features one of the classic characters from the nearly 30 year old series. Picard, Beverly and Wesley, Tasha Yar, Geordi, Data, Worf, Riker and Troi are all here as well as some of their most memorable foes. You know I’ll be collecting this one hard.

I am expecting a pretty massive restock on Funko items in the store, so if you are in the mood for a POP or Dorbz or even Mystery Minis you might have missed, come check us out, we may have what you need.

That’s all for me folks- catch you next week!

 

 

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