A Weekend Of Comics

How did you spend your weekend, faithful reader? Did you spend it with comics? There were so many opportunities!

Yesterday was Free Comic Book Day, but if you missed it, some shops usually have leftovers – so stop out to our local shops and see if there’s anything’s left.

Then there was Chautauqua County’s roller derby team, the Babes of Wrath! They had a Free Comic Book Day-themed bout this past Saturday – appropriately dubbed “Return of the Skate Crusaders”! And they had free comic books on hand, some of which were supplied by the local WNY Superior Comics Podcast.

Or maybe you went to the theater and saw a film about a man with spider powers.

Whatever you did though, did you spend your time with comics? If not, there’s opportunities ahead! So budget some time this week because there’s still a lot going on!

WEEKLY TITLES

Every week it feels like there’s more and more titles to try and keep track of, with the one saving grace being that each title comes out only once a month.

But that’s not always the case!

DC for instance has a new weekly series already up and running, with another one scheduled to start printing shortly. Making matters even more complicated is the fact that this first new weekly series, titled “Batman Eternal,” is so far very good! Which means I’m hooked as a reader for at least another few weeks.

A year-long weekly series, “Batman Eternal” began in April and features the Dark Knight working to clear Commissioner Gordon’s name. In the first issue an accident happens and we see Gordon arrested, but we also get hints about the larger plot which a criminal is planning for Batman and Gotham City.

Issue No. 4 of the series just arrived in stores last week, so there’s still time to catch up! The book’s being written by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, Kyle Higgins and Tim Seeley. According to reports, the series will work in tandem with DC’s “Batman” title, which is written by Snyder and is currently wrapping up its “Zero Year” storyline.

In total, the “Batman Eternal” series will comprise 60 issues and will run through March 2015. It’s also said that after those first 60 issues, the series will “take a hiatus.” I’m not sure, but does that mean it will be returning? We’ll see.

What had me hooked from issue one was the air of mystery to the story. The book’s first issue set up a sort of “whodunnit” which leaves readers wondering. Issue two of the title gives us the big reveal, showing us which familiar Batman villain has returned to Gotham City to take control. There’s also been some great flash-forwards in these first issues and in Snyder’s “Batman” No. 28. The writers are teasing us by showing a drastically different Gotham which we’ll apparently get to see down the road. Now, it’s just a matter of keeping up with this comic as it hits comic shop shelves each and every Wednesday.

DC’s next weekly title set to arrive is called “Future’s End” and it deals with the New 52 five years down the road. This is a title for DC fans who like the company’s parallel Earths. The start of this comic will deal with the DC Universe reeling from a war with another Earth, leaving their world unprepared for another evil approaching which threatens to destroy the future. This book will also have a time-traveling Batman Beyond, which gives it an interesting twist for longtime fans – not entirely unlike how Dan Slott brought Spider-Man 2099 from the future into the pages of “Superior Spider-Man.” Just saying. Regardless though, I’m on board for the first issue. However, if it comes to having to make a decision between two books, “Batman Eternal” already has me hooked!

BATMAN ’66

I’m sold on DC’s “Batman Eternal” book, but I realize that not everyone might be interested in a year-long, 60-issue epic.

Looking for something a little lighter and a little shorter in its run? Well, DC has teamed up with Kevin Smith and actor/comedian Ralph Garman for a 12-issue digital-first comic featuring Batman and the Green Hornet.

“Batman ’66” is a digital-first comic which features stories based around the classic Adam West television show. The colors in this series pop and Batman’s cast of characters in this book reflect those actors and actresses who appeared with West and Burt Ward on the 1960s show.

Kevin Smith’s story will be a follow-up of sorts to the time when the Green Hornet teamed up with Batman in an episode of the old Adam West show. The series will be illustrated by Eisner Award-nominated artist Ty Templeton and will feature covers by Alex Ross. DC, of course, is known for its Batman comics, but Green Hornet is published by Dynamite Entertainment, so the series will be a publishing house crossover.

Smith told USA Today that the experience is a dream come true: “It’s like getting to be 5 years old again and tell stories that you would have made up while watching the show as a kid,” he said. “To be able to do it, man, it really does bring it full circle in a bucket-list kind of fashion.”

As a digital-first comic, Smith’s and Garman’s “Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet” will debut May 21 on the comiXology site and app. In the past, digital issues of “Batman ’66” have been subsequently bundled together as print issues, so it’s likely we’ll be seeing this book on store shelves in the future – and hopefully even as an animated feature, as Smith and Garman have hinted at in their podcasts and in the media.

S.H.I.E.LD. SPOILERS

Marvel has such synergy going on right now!

If you’ve caught the company’s new “Captain America” film but aren’t watching “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” on television, then you’re missing half the fun. The events of Marvel’s “Winter Soldier” movie have had direct effects on the characters in the show, and the dismantling of S.H.I.E.L.D. lays the groundwork for so many possibilities in the future.

I know a lot of folks had issues with the series when it first got up and running. The main gripe seemed to be that there wasn’t enough tie-in from the Marvel movie universe. Sure, there was a cameo or two in the first few episodes, but not like people were looking for.

That’s a valid complaint and all, but I’m still a fan of those early episodes. I liked them all along. Especially now! We couldn’t get to where we are in the show without those early, team-building “get to know you” episodes that didn’t deal at all with the Marvel movie universe. Now things are racing along. We know our team, they’re fully developed characters and now we get to see them trying to make sense of the chaos in this post-S.H.I.E.L.D. world.

Sorry for the “Captain America 2” spoilers, but a big part of what happens in the movie is the collapse of “S.H.I.E.L.D.” When I saw that was happening on screen, I thought about how brave it was for Marvel to dismantle this thing which they’ve spent so much time building up. Then came the most recent episodes of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

In the show, there’s a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility known as “The Fridge” – where S.H.I.E.L.D. stores its confiscated weapons and technology, but also houses prisoners. That facility was recently raided in the show, which made for a nice way to introduce new characters as villains (such as the character Black Out who served as a recent one-off villain in the show).

Then, in the show’s most recent episode, the character Maria Hill referenced Man-Thing! Of all the Marvel characters! Man-Thing! So amazing! But that’s what made me realize that with the dismantling of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the raiding of their Fridge facility, Marvel have given themselves a bottomless bag of sorts … A narrative device from which they can pull almost any villain character they want, fully formed, into either their cinematic universe or the “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” television show. All they have to do is say that the character escaped from the Fridge and explain the person’s powers and then they’re off and to the races. So, with all that possibility open before us, who would you like to see as an escapee of the Fridge? Hit me up! Let me know!

QUESTION OF THE MONTH

Daniel Rand is the focus of a new ongoing series written and drawn by Kaare Andrews. However, Daniel Rand is the character’s secret identity. What’s his superhero name? Skip to the “Assorted Etceteras” section at the end of this month’s column for the answer.

ASSORTED ETCETERAS

Actor Bob Hoskins died recently. So did Golden Age artist Barbara Hall. And in other news, Fox canceled its robot/cop show “Almost Human.” Showtime’s new “Penny Dreadful” has me hooked. I saw Robert Rodriguez on “The Colbert Report” and it got me more excited than ever for “Sin City 2.”

I still haven’t yet watched DC’s new animated feature “Son of Batman,” but that’s high on my list of things to do soon. Very, very soon. Also, I just read that Syfy is planning on adapting Frank Miller’s “Ronin,” Charles Soule’s “Letter 44,” Jonathan Hickman’s “Pax Romana,” David Schulner’s “Clone” and more. So much comic book stuff coming down the pipeline!

More from me in a month’s time!

But first, in answer to this month’s trivia question: Daniel Rand is the secret identity of Iron Fist, a Marvel character who is buddies with Luke Cage and part of Heroes For Hire. Check him out either in the classic series written by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction or in the new series out by Kaare Andrews, which is titled “The Immortal Iron Fist.”

Nerding Out With Nick Dean is a monthly column about comic books, movies and more. For more, visit NerdingOutWithNickDean.blogspot.com.