Waid, Wu reveal ‘The Lipstick Incident’ in ‘Archie’ #4

Find out why Archie and Betty broke up Nov. 25.

Fans of the relaunched Archie series have two things to look forward to in issue #4. First, of course, is the addition of artist Annie Wu, who joins writer Mark Waid on the series, and second, the revelation of what exactly “The Lipstick Incident” was.

“Finally, the details of the #Lipstic​kIncident are revealed as we see what exactly broke up the power couple of Archie Andrews and Betty Cooper–and you’ll never guess!” Waid said in a press release. Waid and Fiona Staples, who drew the first three issues, have had fun teasing what exactly “The Lipstick Incident” is in the pages of the previous issues, and it’s nice they won’t keep us guessing much longer. Wu’s been doing some killer work on Hawkeye and Black Canary, so it’ll be interesting to see what she does in rebooted Riverdale. To get a taste, check out some preview pages below, along with all the various variant covers for the book

Archie #4, by Waid, Wu, colorists Andre Szymanowicz and Jen Vaughn, and letterer Jack Morelli, arrives Nov. 25.

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‘Nowhere Men’ returns with new artist Dave Taylor

Taylor takes over as artist from Nate Bellegrade with issue #7, which arrives in January.

Nowhere Men, the “scientists-as-rock-stars” comic by Image co-publisher Eric Stephenson, artist Nate Bellegrade and Einser award-winning colorist Jordie Bellaire, will return in January with a new artist, Dave Taylor (Batman: Death by Design, Judge Dredd, Prophet).

“It’s very cool to work on something you admire,” Taylor said in the press release. “My respect for the first series is making me work extra hard to fulfil Eric’s concept to the end, in fact, this is the best work I’ve done for years.”

Issue #7 picks up after the cliffhanger that issue #6 left us with two years ago. “It’s really exciting to finally be returning to Nowhere Men,” Stephenson said in the press release. “I’ve admired Dave’s work since I first saw it back in the ‘90s, so learning that he was a fan of of Nowhere Men and interested in working on the book was nothing short of amazing. It’s awesome to be working with him, and I’m looking forward to seeing how his style develops as we further explore the landscape created by World Corp.”

The comic tells the story of a Beatle-esque group of scientists — Dade Ellis, Simon Grimshaw, Emerson Strange and Thomas Walker — as they rise in fame and subsequently fall pretty hard when their experiments take some dark and ghastly turns.

The change in artist comes as no surprise, as Bellegrade, who received an Eisner nomination for his work on the book, release two long essays on the comics’ delays and why he wouldn’t be continuing with the series this past summer (available here and here). In that second post, he noted:

To be very honest I would have to admit that I am to some degree angry in a very general and radiant sense. Reason would show that the only person I could be angry about in this situation is myself. It wouldn’t be reasonable to be angry with Eric for not continuing to wait for something he had no guarantee of ever occurring. It wouldn’t be reasonable to be angry with Jordie or Steven for taking his side either. I am angry and therefore I can only be angry at myself because I have unknowingly manufactured this outcome. I am angry because for the past five years the bulk of world-building and character design has been for story elements that have not yet come to pass and now they never will. Ideas for devices and architecture and fashion and cultural landmarks that have so far only existed in my head, stored for future use. Sketches for covers that will never see print, diagrams of Dr. Kurt McManus’ new physiology, drawings of paintings made by Daniel Pierce’s much older sister. I used to know what was going to happen to Dr. Susan Queen, but now I do not. The worldline where those things happen has closed off, the future where they were part of the story winked away into nothing, they were not destroyed but never occurred in the first place. So I am angry that, through my actions, the years of creative euphoria and collaboration where I felt anything was possible were torn away from meaning and crushed into nothing.

Bellegrade is a hell of an artist and left some big shoes for Taylor to fill on the title; best of luck to him as he moves on to his next project.

You can chekc out the covers for issues #7 and 8 below.

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Zander Cannon’s ‘Kaijumax’ returns for second season next May

Trade paperback collecting season one arrives in February for $9.99.

Oni Press has announced that Kaijumax, Zander Cannon’s excellent giant monster/prison mash-up comic, will return next May for a second season. In addition, the first season will arrive in trade paperback in February, for the low introductory price of $9.99.

“You like monsters? YEAH! You like prison? MAYBE! C’mon in and join me for Kaijumax Season 2; the first trade is big yet cheap so people can jump aboard, and I will try not to brutalize or kill off any beloved characters this season. No promises,” Cannon said in the press release.

Kaijumax, which probably shares more in common with Oz or Orange is the New Black than it does a Godzilla movie, features a prison for giant monsters that’s made up of all sorts of interesting characters, from the various monster inmates to the guards who keep an eye on them. Its large cast includes some of the most inventive characters we’ve seen in a long time, both visually and personality wise, and it mashes together genres to create something that embraces the silliness and seriousness of both. If you haven’t checked it out, the priced-to-move trade may be up your alley.

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All You Need to Know: ‘Invincible Iron Man’ #1

Invincible Iron Man #1 Variant Covor
Iron Man needs some work…

I have a love-hate relationship with the comic works of Brian Michael Bendis. Wait, that’s too strong a sentiment; I have a like-meh relationship with his comics.

On one hand, Bendis is a well-respected, intelligent author who has reformed a lot of how comics are being written these days, done a few landmark runs with Marvel characters and has pretty much set the tone for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. On the other hand, reading his books gets redundant, feels like you are going nowhere and doing nothing, and is choc-a-bloc with blithe dialogue that feels less like impassioned superhero speech than something overheard by a Starbucks barista. They can be a slog to get through at times, because they rarely feel like there’s going to be a payoff at the end of the storyline. Jonathan Hickman can be a similar slog, but at least by the end of the Fantastic Four run, for example, you’ve seen characters grow, change and come out the other side as new people. Bendis just feels like he puts the pieces back too carefully or breaks them irrevocably.

That’s not to say he’s not a good writer; there’s a reason Alias is becoming a Nexflix series and why the immensely popular Marvel movies have his signature dialogue. He gets big profile books because he is a cornerstone of the Marvel Universe right now, and if anyone needs a boost, it’s Iron Man. Kieron Gillen left tons of plot lines and big changes in his wake on the title and the Superior Iron Man series felt like we sidestepped all of that for a random new story that was quickly dropped for Secret Wars and its lead-in stories. Tony Stark is a mess, and Brian Michael Bendis is the man to shore him up and put the book back on the map.

But do you really want to chew through all those word bubbles? Let me get you settled on the ALL NEW ALL DIFFERENT Iron Man and you can be the judge.

WARNING: SPOILERS. Seriously, it’s in the title of this article you’re reading right now. Grab your copy of Invincible Iron Man #1 — no, not that one, the other one. The one from this year. Invincible Iron Man. Yeah. — and read along!

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Dead Hemingway headbutts an angel in ‘Exodus: The Life After’ preview

Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo created one of the past few years’ most interesting and original premises in The Life After, a story set in Purgatory where a man teams up with Ernest Hemingway to fight the divine powers that be.

The revolution continues Nov. 4 in Exodus: The Life After, a new miniseries that once again stars Jude and Ernest Hemingway, as Jude’s “life” is reset in Purgatory. Here’s how Oni Press describes the first issue:

Jude has been sent right back where he started: Purgatory. With no memory of his previous adventures or relationships, Jude’s existence is stark and empty. Yet, just outside his awareness, his friends—including the late, great Ernest Hemingway and a very tenacious preteen girl—struggle to free him. Because in the quest to overthrow God himself, the only person who stands a chance is his son.

Check out a preview of the first issue below. If you missed the first series, it’s been collected and can be found at finer comic shops or on comiXology.

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Landis & friends look back at Superman’s ‘important junctures’ in ‘American Alien’

Check out a preview of the first issue, featuring artwork by Nick Dragotta.

Hollywood screenwriter and Eisner nominee Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra) returns to comics in November with a murderer’s row of artists for Superman: American Alien, a seven-issue miniseries that highlights “important junctures in his development as a person.” Each issue features a different artist working with Landis on done-in-one stories set in Clark Kent’s past.

“Issue one is heartwarming, two is brutal, three is sexy, four will make you think, five’s thrilling, six might make you cry and seven … seven has the most violent fight you’ve ever seen featuring Clark Kent,” Landis said in a press release. “This has been my dream since I was 10 years old. Come on this journey with me and Clark. C’mon.”

Nick Dragotta provides art for the first issue, with later issues drawn by Francis Manapul, Jock, Jae Lee, Tommy Lee Edwards, Joëlle Jones and Jonathan Case. Ryan Sook provides the covers. Landis previously worked with Jock on “The Sound of One Hand Clapping,” a story in the digital-first Adventures of Superman #41-42 that received an Eisner nomination for “Best Short Story” last year.

Check out a preview of the first issue below, which comes out Nov. 11.

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‘Crisis’ at 30, Part 11

Tom Bondurant brings his retrospective on the 30-year-old “Crisis on Infinite Earths” to Smash Pages with a look back at the series’ penultimate issue, which featured “emotional impacts just as devastating as any of its cosmic carnage.”

Buy this quilt on Etsy
Buy this quilt on Etsy

The penultimate issue of Crisis On Infinite Earths offers an interlude critical to the series’ success. It demonstrates the real impact of DC’s housecleaning not with antimatter waves or shadow demons, but through the characters who helped build the publisher’s matchless history. Accordingly, Crisis #11 features emotional impacts just as devastating as any of its cosmic carnage.

* * *

For those who might have come in late, since last December I have been revisiting every issue of DC Comics’ landmark Crisis On Infinite Earths, approximately on the thirtieth anniversary of their arrivals in comics shops. (The newsstand versions each debuted a month later.) Links to earlier installments will appear at the bottom of this post.

I wanted to revisit COIE in this format because that’s how I (and countless other Reagan-era readers) first experienced it. Nowadays it’s easy to digest these big-event miniseries in one sitting, and to poke through their various twists, turns, and inconsistencies. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m sure by this point most of Crisis’ readers came to it as a collection.

However, Crisis wasn’t just a story. (Some might say Crisis was barely a story to begin with.) Instead, it was an argument for restructuring all of DC’s superhero books in a way that would forever alter how they were viewed. Crisis’ tagline promised that worlds would live and die, and nothing would ever be the same — and it delivered. Amongst all the process, plot machinery, and exposition — and the clunky, obvious, and awkward moments — it kept those ad-copy promises.

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