Comics Lowdown | Action Lab accused of lack of payment and more by their creators

Plus: Joe Bennett, Ninja Turtles, Substack and more!

Action Lab Entertainment, the publisher of Spencer & Locke, Princeless, Jupiter Jet, Midnight Tiger and Molly Danger, among many other titles, has come under scrutiny on social media by a long list of creators for the terms of their contracts, soliciting comics that are never published, lack of payment to creators and poor communications.

At Women Write About Comics, Claire Napier rounds up a number of these allegations against the publisher, from creators like Jeremy Whitley, John J. Peréz, Tom Rogers and Nick Marino, among others. Napier focuses a good portion of her article on Gordon McLean, writer of Supermom: Expecting Trouble, who went missing in December of 2019 around the time that the first issue of his comic was supposed to come out — but according to sources, the comic was canceled and McLean was never told.

Action Lab President Bryan Seaton spoke with Bleeding Cool in a very brief interview on the subject. He talks about many of the speed bumps the company hit during the COVID crisis, but as folks pointed out on Twitter, many of these issues predate the pandemic. Seaton did note he has set up an email address, alecreator@actionlabent.com, that creators can use to contact them directly about any outstanding issues regarding a title.

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Mail Call | More on Al Ewing + Ram V’s symbiotic relationship on ‘Venom’

Check out news, announcements and previews from Image, DC, BOOM! Studios and more.

Mail Call is a roundup of the announcements we’ve received from comics publishers in our mailboxes recently that we haven’t already covered. Hit the links for more information.

When Venom returns in a new series from Marvel later this fall, it’ll be co-written by Al Ewing and Ram V. Each writer, it turns out, will be writing a separate character in the series, as the book focuses both on Eddie Brock and his son Dylan.

“How me and Ram are working together—we’re a band, essentially. Every issue is a new single, every trade is an album, and Eddie and Dylan are our instruments,” Ewing told Marvel.com. “They’re similar, but they make different notes, produce different sounds, build different stories. And for a while—so you should get used to it now—we’re going to be taking turns in the spotlight, playing Dylan songs or Eddie songs, while the other band member stays in the background. As each new single comes out, you’ll see how it fits together, forms one big concept album—or maybe a symphony. And then, when we’re ready, we bring all the instruments in for the crescendo—and that’s going to be something to hear.”

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Mail Call | Shang-Chi’s mutant sister debuts in ‘Shang-Chi’ #3

Like fireworks lighting up the night sky comes a barrage of news, previews and announcements from Marvel, Dark Horse, Image, Mad Cave Studios and more.

Mail Call is a roundup of the announcements we’ve received from comics publishers in our mailboxes recently that we haven’t already covered. Hit the links for more information.

Gene Luen Yang and Dike Ruan’s run on Marvel’s Shang-Chi has focused both on family and legacy, and in the third issue Marvel’s Master of Kung Fu finds out he has yet another sibling — and she’s a mutant.

Zhilan is a mutant warrior with a dazzling power: she can turn music into solidified energy. According to Marvel.com, she was exiled by Shang-Chi’s evil father years ago, and now Shang-Chi is seeking her out — as is the Krakoa mutant nation, which will lead to a confrontation with Wolverine.

Check out the variant cover by Michael Cho, along with some preview pages by Ruan, below:

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Marvel announces new creative teams for ‘Hulk,’ ‘Venom’

Donny Cates and Ryan Ottley will launch a new Hulk title in November, as Al Ewing, Ram V and Bryan Hitch take on Venom.

With Al Ewing and Joe Bennett’s run on Immortal Hulk coming to close AND Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman wrapping up their run on Venom, Marvel has announced their plans for both titles, which will relaunch in the fall.

The Hulk will relaunch in a new title simply called Hulk, by Cates and Amazing Spider-Man artist Ryan Ottley. Writers Al Ewing and Ram V, meanwhile, will tag-team on Venom, with art by Bryan Hitch.

“Marvel just gave me the keys to the strongest one there is,” Cates told Marvel.com. “Haha… oh boy. You guys are just not ready for this. You’re about to find out what happens when Ryan Ottley and I get angry… and guess what? Well… pretty sure you’re gonna like us a lot when we’re angry.”

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‘Immortal Hulk’ will wrap up with issue #50

Al Ewing and Joe Bennett prepare for the end in August’s ‘Immortal Hulk’ #49.

Al Ewing and Joe Bennett’s epic Hulk tale is starting to wind down.

According to Marvel.com, Immortal Hulk #50 will be the finale of the story they’ve been telling since 2018.

“It’s finally time to admit it—Immortal Hulk is reaching the end of the story we set out to tell,” Ewing said. “Issue #49 brings jade-jaws to the gates of the abyss and a final accounting of his life—in time for a last issue you’ll have to experience to believe.”

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‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ ‘S.W.O.R.D.’ will cross over for ‘The Last Annihilation’

Al Ewing brings two of his titles together for an epic space war.

Two of Al Ewing’s space-based titles will cross over later this year for an event Marvel is billing as “The Last Annihilation.”

Guardians of the Galaxy, which launched a new team and new mission with last week’s issue #13, will cross over with S.W.O.R.D., the X-title featuring Magneto, Cable and other mutants tasked with protecting the Earth. You might also remember that late last year, following the Empyre event, the Empyre Aftermath: Avengers special teased a confrontation between S.W.O.R.D. and the new Kree/Skrull Alliance. With both Hulkling and Wiccan playing a major roll in Guardians now, this could be what that teaser was alluding to.

Guardians and S.W.O.R.D. have been building their own unique gravity for a while now, and in space, when two objects have gravity, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll crash into each other – or get sucked into the orbit of something even bigger,” Ewing told Marvel.com. “Marvel Space these days is a fragile coalition of worlds that chose peace over war, a little bubble of hope in a cruel void – but there’s an enemy nobody ever suspected readying an attack that’ll either cement all those frail alliances or tear them to pieces.”

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Marvel announces ‘Immortal Hulk’ spinoff ‘Gamma Flight’

Puck, Rick Jones, Titania and more join forces in the new series.

Puck, Titania, Absorbing Man, Doc Sasquatch and Rick Jones will assemble under a familiar name with a clever twist: Gamma Flight. The spinoff from Immortal Hulk will be written by Al Ewing and Crystal Frasier, who have worked together previously on Immortal Hulk, with art by Lan Medina.

Gamma Flight is an opportunity to explore some of the concepts and plant some of the seeds from Immortal Hulk in their own space, building off the found family that came together in those pages and putting them into action against some strange and ugly doings in the unexplored corners of the gamma world,” Ewing told Marvel.com. “We’ve been ricocheting ideas off each other for a while on this one, and I suspect the result is something that’ll tickle Hulk fans old and new.”

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Ewing + Schiti raise their ‘S.W.O.R.D.’ in December

The new Marvel series spins out of events in ‘Empyre’ and ‘X of Swords.’

Al Ewing and Valerio Schiti, the creative team behind the recent Empyre: Aftermath Avengers comic, will pull S.W.O.R.D. out of its sheath this December.

If you read that Aftermath issue, you know that Abigail Brand, who most recently worked with Captain Marvel as part of Alpha Flight, wasn’t happy that the Avengers and Fantastic Four never called her during Empyre. She quit Alpha Flight, and the last two pages showed a dark future for the new Kree/Skrull Alliance led by Hulkling — thanks to Brand and her new team.

But despite the foreshadowing in Empyre, this is actually an X-title and will tie into that line, as part of the aftermath of the just-started X of Swords crossover — which ends in November, right before this one debuts in December.

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Eynd of Empyre

Carla Hoffman looks back at Marvel’s Empyre, both as a game-changing “event book” and from a story perspective.

With the world in flux, we can at least count on a major summer event to remain a constant for comic fans. Neither rain nor sleet nor dark of night will keep our Big Two from their appointed rounds of throwing their entire universe (or multiverse, as the case may be) into flux to determine the definitive path for their respective companies. At least until next year.

Let’s look at this year’s Empyre by Dan Slott, Al Ewing and Valerio Schiti, and see if a comic can rock our world harder than real life already has. WARNING: spoilers ahead for the basics of the main Empyre series, so if you’ve read all six issues, grab your comics and read along!

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Can’t Wait for Comics | Dog Man, ‘Empyre,’ Doctor Who and more

New comics and graphic novels arrive this week from Al Ewing, Simone Di Meo, Dav Pilkey, Emma Kubert, Jen Hickman, Zac Thompson, Jody Houser and more.

We are back again with a look at what’s arriving in comic shops, bookstores and on digital this week. And what a week it is, with new Dog Man, Black Widow, Doctor Who and many other debuts, along with the big ending of Marvel’s Empyre miniseries.

If you’re wondering what to get this week, check out a few recommendations below. You can check the Comic List page to see what’s arriving in your local shop, and the comiXology new releases page for what’s available digitally.

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What Are You Reading? | Red Goblins, celestial avatars, Klan smashers and Texas blood

See what the Smash Pages crew has checked off their ‘to read’ list lately.

Like I said last week, summertime is the right time for crossovers and comics. This week brought us a taste of Empyre, Marvel’s big crossover event featuring the Avengers, The Fantastic Four, the Kree, the Skrulls, the Blue Area of the Moon, the Swordsman and all that crazy cosmic space action Marvel fans have come to know and love. You can see Carla’s thoughts on it below, along with a list of comics Shane has been buying for his kids and Tom’s thoughts on two politically minded books from DC.

You can tell us what you’ve been reading in the comments below or on social media.

Shane Bailey

Lately my kids have started wanting to read more comics. My little one has always been into them, but now the older kids are as well. So I let them pick out their own comics to read on comiXology Unlimited.

My 9 yr old son picked Amazing Spider-Man: The Red Goblin by Dan Slott and Stuart Immonen, and he loves it. He wouldn’t stop commenting on how crazy scary Norman Osborn is, how it was gross when Carnage bit the head off a rat, and during one issue when the Goblin had a captive and was interrogating him, he wondered aloud over who it was, making guesses and gasping when he found out who it was and that Norman knew who Spider-Man was. It’s great seeing him get excited at things that are old hat for me. It made me appreciate those moments more.

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Can’t Wait for Comics | Building toward ‘Empyre’

New comics arrive this week from Terry Moore, Mark Russell, Steve Rude, Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino and more.

The summer crossover season gets in full swing at your local comic shop this week; following the release of Dark Knights: Death Metal last week, Marvel delivers the start of their big cosmic event, Empyre. This week also brings several debuts from IDW, AHOY and Image, among others … it’s almost starting to feel like comics have returned to normal.

If you’re looking for something to get this week, check out a few recommendations below. You can check the Comic List page to see what’s arriving in your local shop, and the comiXology new releases page for what’s available digitally. As always, you should check with your local shop on their hours, curbside pick-up, mask requirements, etc. due to COVID-19. Stay safe out there.

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