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Comic-Con panel: Is Batman broken—or is Bruce Wayne crazy for dating Catwoman?

The Panel: Psychologists Travis Langley (Batman and Psychology: A Dark and Stormy Knight) and Robin Rosenberg (The Psychology of SuperheroesWhat’s the Matter with Batman?) producer Michael Uslan (The Dark Knight Rises), comic book writers Len Wein (Batman), and Steve Englehart (Detective Comics), and Catwoman herself, actress Lee Meriwether (Batman: The Movie). 

The Big Revelations: According to clinical psychologist Robin Rosenberg Batman is not, in fact, crazy. The panel was ostensibly meant to delve into Batman’s psyche but spent more time analyzing Catwoman, thanks in part to the presence of the totally charming Lee Meriwether. Robin Rosenberg took the audience through several potential mental health diagnosis for Bruce Wayne and ruled out symptoms of depression, dissociative personality disorder, and PTSD.  Whew!

Snap Judgment: If you wanted a deep dive into the personality of Batman and the nature of his relationship with Catwoman, this was the panel for you!  I just wish they billed it as such so that the Catwoman co-players would have showed up.

Most Incisive Audience Question: From panelist Steve Englehart, who wondered why more people didn’t recognize that Wayne was also the Dark Knight: “It just seemed to me that if you slept with a guy you might recognize the bottom half of his face.” 

The Winner of the Panel: The totally charming Lee Meriwether, though Michael Uslan deserves special consideration for comparing the lover life of Bruce Wayne and Archie.

Eisner Awards: The winners are...

The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards — largely considered the “Comic Oscars” — were given out Friday night at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel. And the winners are… READ FULL STORY

Comic-Con spotlight on 'Chew', or nice guys finish first

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The Project: Chew is a comic published by Image Comics (The Walking Dead) currently in development at Showtime

The Panel: Chew writer Jon Layman, artist Rob Guillory, with screenwriter Brian Duffield as a surprise guest

The Big Revelations: Like other successful creator-owned comics such as Preacher and Y the Last Man, Chew will end with issue 60. The creative team hopes that Ken Leung (Lost‘s Miles) will play main character Tony Chu when it comes to Showtime. Layman says the series will move in a dramatic new direction with issue 31. Plus, Chew merchandise coming soon!

Snap Judgment: Jon Layman’s perseverance is a model for aspiring writers. He struggled to find success for years, but didn’t chase mainstream projects. He now pens one of the most successful comics in the country about an Asian single-dad who solves crimes by nibbling on dead people, and DC just tapped him to write Detective Comics, the signature Batman comic.

Most Incisive Audience Comment: When an audience member thanked the Chew team for getting him back into comics.

Least Incisive Audience Question: A member asked Louisiana native Rob Guillory for his favorite gumbo. Guillory informed him that he doesn’t like gumbo.

The Winner of the Panel: Layman. You have to love someone who describes himself as “a weird guy who thinks about weird stuff.”

Comic-Con Black Panel: Lots of laughs, less substance

The Black Panel: Michael Davis moderated the infamous panel with Shaquille O’Neal, Jamie Kennedy (The Jamie Kennedy Experiment), Alexander Strong (New Kingdom Entertainment), Missy Geppi (president, Geppi’s Entertainment Museum), E. Van Lowe (former Cosby Show writer, author of YA Earth Angel and Boyfriend from Hell), and Steve McKeever (president, Hidden Beach Records).

Footage Screened: Panel sponsor AT&T screened a Daybreak web series trailer, Shaq previewed his new comics Clean Ops and Hoopfighters.

The Big Revelations: Shaq is coming out with comics! 

Snap Judgment: The Black panel is entertaining as hell, but generally lacking in substance. This is a product of its open-ended Q&A style. It does lead to revelations like Jamie Kennedy’s confession that he turned down a role in Boogie Nights for a role in As Good As It Gets because the latter paid better.

Most Incisive Audience Question: From Clayton Thomas, who asked Shaq to add him to his Black Comedy tour and then did two minutes to prove he’s got the goods.

Least Incisive Audience Question: A fan asked for a pic with Shaq. Sweet but not a good idea with quip master Michael Davis on the mic.

The Winner of the Panel: Jamie Kennedy. The crowd was here for Shaq, but Kennedy acquitted himself well.

Panel on race in comics engages the elephant in the room

 The Panel: Writer Marjorie Liu (Astonishing X-Men), video game writer David Gaider (Dragon Age), comic book writer Brandon Thomas (Miranda Mercury), showrunner and screenwriter Javier Grillo-Marxuach (The Middleman, Lost), novelist Sarah Kuhn (One Con Glory), and sci-fi writer N.K. Jemisin (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms); moderated by Racebending.com.

The Project: Racebending.com convened their first panel at 2011 Comic Con in the wake of the casting travesty that occurred on the Avatar:Last Airbender.  This year they continue the conversation.

The Big Revelations: Entertainment companies across all platforms really don’t get diversity (duh).

For example:

- Marjorie Liu pitched an all female book to Marvel featuring Black Widow, Electra, Mystique and X-23 (Wolverine’s ‘daughter’).  She was told by the higher ups that such a book wouldn’t sell!

- David Gaider revealed that one of the most popular mods for Dragon Age transforms Isabela—a black character with a romantic storyline—into a blue eyed blond haired damsel.

- Sarah Kuhn reported that Asian writers are often asked to change their last names by the marketing departments at book publishers when writing in genres like romance to make their books more marketable.

- Javier Grillo-Marxuach struggles with “standing against a stereotype even if that means denying an opportunity to put a person of color on screen.”

- Javier Grillo-Marxuach also revealed a forthcoming comic with Ape Entertainment titled Unfathomable, to go with his recently launched Ramiel, Wrath of god mini-series.

Most Incisive Audience Question: An audience member asked how one gets into the head of a character of a different race or ethnicity, leading Javi Grillo-Marxuach to recount a touching story about how his own struggles with English informed his writing on the season one Lost episode that focused on Jin.

The Winner of the Panel: Javier Grillo-Marxuach! His comments were informative, insightful and very funny. Not easy to do when discussing issues of race.

The pilgrimage: A comic book expert's first trip to Comic-Con

I am a college professor hired for my expertise in post-World War II American culture, which somehow led to me teaching an incredibly popular college course on comics and graphic novels. Despite growing up on comic books, until this year I had never been to San Diego Comic Con. Of course I’ve known about SDCC for what feels like my whole life, and I’ve certainly wanted to go. But I transitioned from a poor undergraduate to a poor grad student to a not-so-poor professor without ever having attended. I assumed that I would make the trip with my family when the kids were big enough to handle the crowds and the crazy. But it hadn’t happened yet, so when EW asked me to lend my particular and peculiar expertise to their coverage of SDCC 2012 I jumped at the chance. And here I am, finally, on a pilgrim to my chosen temple of culture.

I came up in a golden age of comics. No not THE golden age, c’mon now. But I used to go to the comic shop and pick up Frank Miller’s Daredevil, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Chris Claremont’s X-Men, Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s Teen Titans. Now, these icons of my tween years are multi-platform brands. Moore, Miller, et al were not plotting to take over Hollywood like so many writers of today’s comics — it just sort of happened. And, despite all the movie studio money that depends on comics, this sort of organic movement from the margins to the center is still happening. Take John Layman and Rob Guillory’s Chew, which might be my favorite comic right now. Showtime has optioned the book for development into a series, but the idiosyncratic creator-owned project about an Asian single-dad detective with an unusual palate is a grass roots success. I’m happy that despite all the PR dollars that now get lavished on SDCC, organic growth like this is still possible in the 21st century synergistic entertainment industry.

Still, this is all new to me, and I’m excited to be seeing it from the inside. Because I’m part of team EW, I received a list of all the celebs who have confirmed they are appearing this year. That’s crazy. Not only am I going to see 30 minutes of Django Unchained, I already know if Leo is going to show up for the Q&A. It would have been enough to have waited outside of Hall H for hours with all the other fans. Which, by the way I’m still totally doing. The Django ticket is hot, with seemingly 1/2 of EW lined up to cover it, so I’ve got to get up early and get on line like everyone else.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Jonathan W. Gray is an assistant professor of English and Gender Studies at John Jay College/CUNY. Follow him @elmcitytree.

 

Coldplay to debut 'Mylo Xyloto' comic book at Comic-Con

Vanity project or creative breakthrough?

Coldplay announced Tuesday on their website that the band will debut the first issue of the comic book Mylo Xyloto, directly inspired by their album of the same name, at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con. A collaboration with animation director Mark Osborne (Kung Fu Panda), the six-part comic series is what Osborne calls “the latest expression of a music-driven feature animated film that the band and I started developing several years ago,” done in concert with the development of what became the album Mylo Xyloto.

In a Q&A on the Coldplay site, Osborne provided a hint at the story involving their character Mylo Xyloto, and how it ties back into the band’s album:  READ FULL STORY

'Uncanny Avengers': Exclusive first look at the flagship title of Marvel Now!

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Earlier this week, EW exclusively announced the impending arrival of the Marvel Now! initiative, which will radically alter Marvel’s lineup with a mix of new and relaunched titles. Now we’ve got a look at Uncanny Avengers, one of the new titles, written by Rick Remender and drawn by John Cassady, which focuses on a new superteam that throws together characters from the Avengers and X-Men franchises. Take a look at the cover of Uncanny Avengers. (Click on the image below to enlarge.) READ FULL STORY

Your Comic Book Primer for 'The Amazing Spider-Man'

Amongst all the excitement for Columbia Pictures’ Amazing Spider-Man reboot, there lurks a nagging question: Why the Lizard? There were, after all, proven commodities like the Green Goblin and Dr. Octopus, to say nothing of Venom or the Sandman. (No, I’m begging you: Say nothing about Venom or the Sandman.)  If you or your curious tween wants to know more about the web-head’s latest cinematic foe, you should pick up two recent Spider-Man collections: Spectacular Spider-Man: Here There Be Monsters (2004) and Amazing Spider-Man: The Gauntlet #5 — Lizard (2010).  READ FULL STORY

Comic-Con Exclusive: Witness the future of the Marvel Universe with Marvel NOW!

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Marvel Comics is embroiled in Avengers vs. X-Men, a crossover event which follows an all-out war between the publisher’s iconic superteams. When Avengers vs. X-Men reaches its conclusion, the stage will be set for a massive restructuring of the Marvel Universe. “It’s not hype when we say that AvX is the culmination of a lot of stories we’ve done over the last several years,” says Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso. “Characters are redeemed or not. Characters are changed. The X-Men and the Avengers are both repositioned for the future. What better time to shake things up? “

And Marvel is shaking things up. Entertainment Weekly is excited to exclusively announce Marvel NOW!, a massive new initiative that will launch new titles and relaunch old ones starting in October. Some of the company’s top storytellers are leaping from one corner of the Marvel Universe to another. Brian Michael Bendis is leaving the Avengers for a new X-Men book; Jonathan Hickman will end his run on Fantastic Four before kick-starting a new twice-monthly, jampacked Avengers book; and Rick Remender will begin work on the flagship title of the new era, Uncanny Avengers, a book that will blend Avengers and X-Men characters into one superteam. “I’m excited about taking creators out of their relative comfort zones,” says Alonso.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that a major comics publisher has inaugurated a new era with new creative teams and new #1′s: Just last year, DC Comics relaunched their entire line with The New 52. But Alonso is quick to draw a sharp contrast between DC’s initiative and Marvel NOW! “This ain’t a reboot. It’s a new beginning.” Unlike New 52, Marvel NOW! will roll out gradually over a few months, with creators finishing off their runs and then starting new ones. “I feel that it’s a much more humane approach for retailers and fans to tell them: ‘Look. In the months of October through February, every week you can go into a comic book store and find a few new jumping-on points for the Marvel Universe, a place you’re going to like visiting. Or revisiting.”

We spoke exclusively to Remender, Hickman, and Bendis about three of the books that they’ll be rolling out for Marvel NOW! Read on for more, and be sure to check out our exclusive piece of art from Marvel CEO Joe Quesada.

Uncanny Avengers: Remender describes this as “a bridge book, something that can delve into both worlds. It has a natural purpose for existing after AvX, where we can focus on human-mutant relations. The broad strokes are: Captain America comes out of AvX and recognizes that he hasn’t done enough to help the mutants.” The book will be drawn by John Cassaday, and will include heavy-hitters like Cap, Thor, and Wolverine, but Remender is also excited to focus on some less well-known characters, like Cyclops’ little brother Havok. “Havok’s always been the black sheep rock-and-roller of the Summers family. He can’t do that anymore. You’re going to see Havok become one of the biggest players in the Marvel Universe.”

Perhaps appropriate for a team that comprises a vision for the Marvel Universe’s future, the Uncanny Avengers’ first villain will be, literally, a ghost of the past. “In 1943, Arnim Zola, who was this bio-fanatic engineer, recorded the Red Skull’s consciousness, and set it to wake up 70 years later. So the Red Skull [in Uncanny] is right out of 1943-44. Prime Nazi scumbag. In his mind, he’s taking that vitriol and hate and Nazi horror and methodology, and pointing it at the mutant species.” And Remender stresses that the mash-up philosophy of Uncanny extends beyond the team’s lineup. “I’m not just smashing the heroes together, I’m smashing the villains together. It becomes something unlike anything we’ve ever seen, with stakes that are so huge, it takes a team comprised of the best Avengers and the best X-Men to go take care of it.” (Starts in October)

Avengers: Jonathan Hickman tells big stories. During his run on Fantastic Four, the writer has become known for meticulously plotting out stories years in advance in what Alonso describes as “his Unabomber-sized notebook.” And he’ll bring that maximal aesthetic to Avengers. “It’s not six Avengers, it’s 18 or more,” he teases, promising a diverse mix of popular characters, B-listers, and new characters. (Jerome Opena will have his work cut out for him as the Avengers artist.)

Unsurprisingly, Hickman’s favorite Avengers stories veer toward the cosmics: the Korvac Saga, the Kree-Skrull War, and the time-scrambling Avengers Forever. Hickman’s first story arc on Avengers is called “Avengers World,” but even the term “world” sounds a bit too micro for Hickman’s ambitions. In the wake of AvX and a new era of Marvel, “The obvious solution is for the heroes to become something bigger and larger, a more appropriate response to an ever more dangerous time.” Avengers will be published twice a month, and Hickman is currently planning to mix together longer five-to-six-issue story arcs with one-off stories that focus on individual characters. As for those characters, Hickman is mostly keeping mum about the lineup right now, but he revealed one teammate to whet our appetite. Kids, we’ve got six words for you: Shang-Chi, master of Kung Motherf—ing Fu. (Starts in December)

Click forward to learn about the most intriguing (and sure to be controversial) Marvel NOW! books…featuring the return of Jean Grey!

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