If you followed our coverage of E3 this year (and I know you did), The Bible Scale should sound familiar to you. This particular editorial feature was a huge success a little more than a month ago — the week presented our best traffic ever — so we thought, “Oh, what the hell– let’s do it for Comic-Con”!
In this first section of our San Diego Comic-Con 2014 coverage, esteemed clergygeeks (from left to right) “Minister” Gabe Carrasco, “The Apostle” Lance Paul, “Dynast” Dana Keels, and the “Monsignor” Travis Moody rank and review all the comic panels we attended from worst to best. Because– finding out about COMICS is exactly what COMIC-Cons are for.
–Marvel’s Cup O’ Joe
–Superman: The Man of Tomorrow
–Marvel’s Avengers NOW
–Marvels Cup O’ Joe, Another Look
–Marvel’s Avengers & X-Men: AXIS
–DC: Spotlight on Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
–DC: The Multiversity Enrollment
No Boundaries (DC Comics) – This is one of those “DC: Ambiguous Flashy Buzz-Words Marketing Phrase Extraordinaire!” panels DC littered across the Comic-Con schedule, making it difficult for fans to decide which of these panels were worth our time. This one unfortunately, was not. DC had Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti again representing Harley Quinn, and Tim Seeley and Tom King discussing the new series Grayson. The Harley section was a small version of the Palmiotti/Conner Spotlight panel (info down below) just with visual aids. And judging from the Grayson portion (having never read the book) sounds like they were trying really hard to explain the premise of Marvel’s Civil War run, without mentioning Marvel. Much like Wondercon, DC essentially brought us all into a room and told us what had already happened so far in each series, and teased us with what’s coming out in a few weeks at most. Palmiotti actually gave us a little teaser for his upcoming DC project Star Spangled War Stories fearing G.I. Zombie, the story of… well, a soldier who is also a zombie. He explains that — although it’s essentially set on the battlefield — the protagonist is not only solving problems and riding giant missiles through the sky, but he’s also eating the remains of his fallen victims. Even though the premise is a little unconventional for a company whose main product is superheroes, the title sounds like violent fun, and will exist in the DC universe continuity. The company seems to have a lot coming down the tube, but SDCC was apparently not the place they wanted to reveal any of it. – Gabe Carrasco
Cup of Joe (Marvel Comics, hating more than a DC fan boy!) – For once, the “Minister” Gabe enjoyed a Marvel panel more than I did. Sadly. To me, 2014’s Cup of Joe was the most worthless for announcements. Almost everything mentioned had already been dished out or shown to the public days leading up to the con, except for information on Marvel’s Star Wars line. Unless you have been living under a moon rock, Star Wars has finally come home and Marvel will be distributing not one but three monthly books covering a galaxy far far away. Jason Aaron pens Star Wars #1, with art from John Cassaday. Other SW titles will feature Darth Vader (Kieron Gillen & Salvador Larroca) and Princess Leia (Mark Waid & Terry Dodson). While this is great news for those looking to have top talent on a SW book, some of us are disappointed in knowing that all the past story-lines you fell in love with are no longer cannon. Marvel Animation is sadly due for a full makeover, too. If only they would stop rebooting it every 2-years, they could hold onto a fan base older than five. What did this true Marvel Knight get out of this panel, then, you ask? The All-New X-Men will be traveling to the Ultimate Universe and one of them will be staying. Now who could that be? Possibly Cyclops since he already has a book out? The last big news coming from Marvel president Joe Quesada was that Beast will be seeing his time in “proverbial” court, as the Trial of Hank McCoy sets off his punishment for all his time-traveling antics. Now, if only I could travel back to the time when this annual panel was good. – Lance Paul
Superman: The Man of Tomorrow (DC) – This year is Batman’s 75th anniversary! And just like any boring older brother, Superman’s 75th came and went last year — and we all just kinda shrugged. A lot of older Man of Steel fans were in attendance for this one, as I sat unimpressed with whatever they were throwing next at the invincible big blue boy scout– whether it’s contracting some strange virus that’s slowly turning him into whatever species Doomsday is, making him grow rocks out of his skin, and basically stripping this illegal alien of whatever humanity he had to begin with. So, we’re keeping it fresh by turning the good guy into a bizarro-version of the spiky bad guy (but not Bizarro, because if you Bizarro a Bizarro, it makes a Superman?). I don’t know. Super-Math was never a strong point for me. Meanwhile, Lois Lane is possessed by Braniac and is destroying Metropolis; and with Supes flying around space, stressing out about his Doomsday Rock-acne, only Wonder Woman can stop her. So, in order to make a good Superman story, DC sends him off into space, ridding of him altogether. Supes is officially so boring, even the writers made him a background actor in his own comic. Now mind you, this isn’t a review of the comics, it’s a review of the PANEL. I admit, I haven’t read them, but with a little research, I’ve noticed a lot of the things they discussed were “Available Now!”, which just shows how reluctant DC is to show off any new stuff. That being said, I left right before the Q&A. – Gabe
Avengers NOW (Marvel) – When you announce all your big stories a week before the start of SDCC, one usually gets bored hearing a repeat: Black Cap, Female Thor, Iron White Man. Does this mean when the Captain America 3 movie comes out, they will switch it back again? Will Tony join the KKK? Will Chris Hemsworth wear a dress? All of these changes just seem like potential headaches in the future. Or at the very least, Sam, Angry Stark, and Lady McThor will all have longer shelf lives than Bucky’s attempt at leading us through the big A. Speaking of which, coming out of Original Sin, Marvel will be giving Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier his very own book again, courtesy of Ales Kot and Marco Rudy; Falcon will lead with Captain America & The Mighty Avengers (M.A. scribe Al Ewing stays on board, with art from Luke Ross) as well as a “black ops operative” take on Deathlok, penned by the all-talented Nathan Edmondson and penciled by Mike Perkins. Along with Jason Aaron’s new take on the fairer sex’s Adventures with Mjolnir, Angela: Asgard’s Assassin will also receive her own book courtesy of Kieron Gillen and the return of Phil Jimenez. Tony Stark will search for his Ego or ID in the Bay Area — next to Matt Murdock– with the release of Injustice and Earth-2 scribe Tom Taylor’s Superior Iron Man (thankfully NOT getting mind-switched), Marvel has “firm plans” for Doctor Strange, and Moody — who was also in the panel a row behind me — agrees with my tepid score. – Lance
Spider-Verse (Marvel) – The world is ending and only Spider-Man can save it with a few sticky hands from his multiple doppelgangers: Superior Spider-Man, Spider Noir, Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman, MC2 Spider Girl…oh, just to name a few. Marvel also promises this to be the most epic Spidey story ever after a world-destroying threat transplants ALL the Spider-men/women from across the multiverse to one place. Considering the previous lack of hints or slips and the breadth of talent working on the world wide Web — Humberto Ramos, Dan Slott, Mark Waid, Nick Spencer, and Edgar Delgado — this panel had all the makings of trumping AXIS. Unfortunately, humor doesn’t make up for overall lack of info. Your Apostle learned very little on Spider-Verse besides a mobile game tie-in and t-shirt featuring all of the known Spideys. Slott did explain the return of Superior, calling the “same explosion that brought Miguel O’Hara back” is what caused the exit of Spider-Ock. “Nature abhors a vacuum.” Other announcements: Mike Costa (GI Joe: Cobra) and Paco Diaz will bring us the Scarlet Spiders, a trinity of Ben Reilly, Kane and Ultimate Jessica Drew; Original Sin will also see the beginning of the Silk Spider Bride; and it’s the end of Spencer’s Superior Foes of Spider-Man (sorry to all five fans and the Monsignor!). At least panel-goers can say they all got a good laugh when one young fan OK’d it upon himself to make the one and probably only Spider Minion costume. This was all the rage with Dan Slott, who actually had the kid come up on stage and sit next to him as he ordered him around similar to Spider-Ock, maleficent laugh and all. – Lance
Cup of Joe (Marvel, from a DC fan’s perspective) – Before I hear the mockery, let me explain. I had to sit through the Marvel panel to get a seat for the Batman 75th panel. That’s just how Comic-Con works, people. Like Jimmy & Amanda above, Quesada also received the Comic-Con Inkpot Award for his contribution to the comic industry, and from what I know about Quesada’s influence on Marvel’s fantastic success, he definitely deserves it! Firstly, in an attempt to counter DC’s amazing animated projects, Marvel has an upcoming Iron Man/Captain America CGI film called Heroes United. We saw an extended clip filled with cliche-after-cliche of corny superhero dialogue, with some sub-par animation. Now being the professional, objective DC fanboy that I am, I have to admit this seems to be the only kink in the armor that is the Marvel Empire. I also really enjoyed the cover reveals of Marvel’s new Star Wars comics line. All three books appear to have amazing art, and look very promising. From the crowd’s response, it sounds like Marvel has some big stuff coming your way, and unlike DC, they’re not afraid to show us what’s coming down the pipeline. Touché Marvel… Touché. – Gabe
Avengers & X-Men AXIS (Marvel) – The Red Skull has enslaved the masses, has aligned quite an assortment of upper-echelon baddies, and has broadcast his message of hate across the world — through Charles Xavier’s stolen brain. Crazier, Onslaught is back! Who didn’t love Onslaught from the mostly downplayed 90’s comics? This epic panel was headed by a who’s who of Marvel talent and editors as they described all the great story lines leading up to this Psychic Nazi takeover. Obviously a younger and tanner — not to mention FLYING — Capt. America was mentioned, which helped sell me on this All-New substitute superhero. What fans will receive with a less strategic Falcon America at the vibranium shield’s helm is “the best of both worlds,” promises Marvel’s EIC Axel Alonso. But before Sam Wilson readies the Avengers for the Skull, he’ll first have to learn to fly all over again (pun intended), and begin to weed an All-New Hydra that has slowly been embedding themselves throughout the Marvel U. Expect Carnage, Hobgoblin, Magneto, and…Plantman to play big roles, leading fans to the war of Axis that begins with Act I: The Red Supremacy, and gets all the nuttier with Act II: Inversion. Also, for all you toy fans equally bewildered and disturbed by Hasbro’s use of Starfox in the recent SDCC exclusive, you’ll be happy to know that All-New Captain America‘s Rick Remender is a fan of the ever-so-random 70s Avenger. You can catch his “pantie-dropping” powers in a new graphic novel from the House of Ideas in April called Avengers: Rage of Ultron… Not to be confused with the 2015 hulk-busting film, or recent craptasitic literature gold. – Lance
Spotlight on Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti (DC Comics) – I love spotlight panels. They’re always a small, intimate setting where you can really get to know the personality behind your favorite comics. In this case, superstar husband-and-wife Conner and Palmiotti showed why they’re the perfect team to write Harley Quinn — the reason why I checked out the panel to begin with. Conner said she hears Harley’s voice in her head regularly (which she explains is a cross between “a psycho killer, and I Dream of Jeanie“), and soon there’ll be a 3-issue story arc starring her favorite heroine Power Girl! PG loses her memory, and Quinn convinces her that they’re a crime fighting team; HQ even cuts out her very own boob window in her costume (diamond shaped of course!) to match PG’s. In September’s issue, it’s the “5-Years Later” story arc where Harley Quinn and Joker are getting married! But after all this time and success alone, Harley’s in a new place in her life, and things will definitely get a little crazy. Conner & Palmiotti also explained that they’re “not quite sure” how the HQ comic tie into DC’s overall continuity, and they’re just having fun with the character. And lastly, if you haven’t heard already, Harley Quinn Annual #1 will be Scratch ‘n SNUFF! These folks were charming as hell, and are probably the nicest creators in all of comics. – Gabe
The Multiversity Enrollment (DC Comics) – With all the madness of Hall H and entertainment room 6BCF, I didn’t get a chance to witness too many comic panels this year, but when I did, I made it count. And got completely mind-fucked for it. I’ve been a HUGE fan of Grant Morrison‘s stories since Batman R.I.P. — a title that was enough to get me back into comics. Now, while the lot of his stories have been controversial (New X-Men), criticized (Final Crisis) and created a dichotomy among comic fans (everything), there’s no doubt Morrison’s outer-worldly ideas have held up. This panel is the culmination of all the Scot scribe’s alternate earths and fourth wall-shattering, which he said began “when ’52’ ended.” Inspired by the classic Flash of Two Worlds, Morrison — in complete Stan Lee mimicry — was also “fascinated that Stan [spoke] directly to the readers.” Multiversity #1 will take that tone when it hits stands next month, a comic with “mental and psychic effects that really fuck people up.” While this comic will frame the overall arc, Earth 20 will feature the pulp-flavored Society of Superheroes (drawn by Chris Sprouse): Doc Fate, Mighty Atom, Lady Blackhawk, and the Immortal Man. The first Green Lantern, Abin Sur, also returns, but “we never see him because he looks like Satan.”
(Cont.) Maybe the most Bat-shit crazy book of all of Multiversity — The Just — reads the simplest: What if the descendants of the Justice League had nothing to do because there was no crime? How will they deal with life if shit does happen to hit the fan? Ben Oliver’s flat, photo-realistic style appears the perfect match for characters that resemble more Miley Cyrus than a Daughter of Arrow; Alexis Luthor also dates Damian Wayne in this Earth-16; and expect cameos from Donna Troy, Wally West, and Offspring — Plastic Man’s son, of all people. Morrison also spoke on the Watchmen-inspired one-shot, Pax Americana, featuring Charlton characters and drawn by the mindcraft of Frank Quietely. “I forced [the artist] to do terrible things– like 100s of panels on one page.” Shazam(!) fans will be pleased of Thunderworld, with new Batgirl artist Cam Stewart drawing what he calls the “Alpha version of All-Star Superman for Captain Marvel.” His contemporary style should make this all-ages Earth-5 comic a near Pixar version of Shazam, which gives a little bit of something for everyone in the Morrisonverse. If you’re still not convinced, WAY more kids blasted themselves to the Q&A microphone for Multiversity than to the Avengers NOW panel in a far larger room. Our reward for all the fanaticism? A Kamandi-hosted guidebook explaining all 52 multiverse worlds, and panel-goers were given a map of a Kirbyverse-inspired world paralleled with Stan’s. Who thought that one day a DC writer would deliver the Marvel Universe to DC? – Travis Moody
Saga (Image Comics) – With deodorant seemingly in short supply, hygenic fans who felt the wrath of Sweaty Geek Syndrome were finally treated to the presence of Brian K. Vaughan (Runaways, Y: The Last Man) and the lovely Fiona Staples (DV8: Gods and Monsters, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents). Almost instantly, we’re reminded that Saga is indeed the story of Hazel first and foremost, which according to Vaughan, means that “Her parents are a very important part of her life now, but they might not always be.” We broke into a Q&A, which prompted such colorful questions like “Do the robots have dicks and stuff?”. BKV would elaborate upon how he wanted the series to have a very grounded and realistic feeling to it, drawing influence from his own experience as a husband and a father. Fiona touched upon how she comes up with the expressions seen throughout the faces of many characters, mainly from looking at her own expressions. Yup, Saga is drawn up through.. Selfies. “Now that I know that, the script will become like an elaborate game of Twister,” clowned BKV.
(Cont.) Saga: Book One, a hardcover collection of the first 3 paperbacks stuffed with extras, was also announced. It will feature a new — and highly controversial — cover drawn by Fiona, this one featuring Hazel being breastfed. Throughout the panel, authenticity seemed to be the key, including racial diversity. Fiona would go on to state, “Most of the people on Earth are not white. Why would this galaxy be?” to which the room exploded with applause. BKV would expand upon authenticity in regards to the deaths of characters. “We’ve grown up in a culture where a lot of our storytelling is controlled by a big corporation. ‘We can’t let these characters die; we have to keep them alive.'” Vaughan would conclude, “[What] a terrible way for fiction to approach things.” Thankfully, through #21 issues thus far, the team behind Saga know what the fans want– a sci-fi saga we are not only terribly excited for, but one that we wouldn’t want to miss for the world. – Dana Keels