On the surface, it’s a match made in vigilante heaven. The two greatest crimefighters of the 20th century–Batman and The Shadow–have both stricken fear in the hearts of their adversaries for more than 75 years. Both have solved more mysteries than Scotland Yard and the Gotham Police Department combined.
But when they initially meet in Batman The Shadow #1, it’s not as bats of a feather, rather as enemies. The two come to blows almost immediately. Mostly because it looks as though The Shadow, who supposedly died of cancer in the 1960s, has returned to Gotham City to kill one of his descendants. Coincidently, the deceased also bears the name Lamont Cranston, just like The Shadow.
Unraveling the Lamont Cranston Mystery
Batman auteur Scott Snyder teams with Steve Orlando to provide the compelling mystery. Neither is a stranger to the Dark Knight. And their fascination with the character continues. However, this time they are tying Bruce Wayne’s grandfather, Patrick, into some kind of relationship with Cranston. And the writing pair give Shadow fans something to enjoy as well. Batman interrogates Cranston’s known associates–all of whom are well past their crime-fighting prime.
Artist Riley Rossmo is a great choice to draw this six-part limited series. Interestingly, he gives Batman a more rooted feeling, while The Shadow is more ethereal. The result is a combination of Jim Lee and Paul Pope pencils, which is a welcome addition to the Caped Crusader’s looks.
If they’re anything like the premiere issue, the next five installments should be must-haves. Like Batman yells at The Shadow after their first fight, “Bats live in the shadows.”
The first crossover of the Rebirth era has arrived! Night of The Monster Men kicks off in Batman #7. A hurricane is on target to destroy Gotham. Batman calls on Batwoman, Nightwing, Spoiler, Orphan, and Clayface to help him avert disaster and ensure that no Gothamites fall victim to the approaching storm. The forces of nature aren’t the only adversaries the Bat family will find themselves up against. As the storm grows near, Doctor Hugo Strange is ready to unleash his army of daikaju on the citizens of Gotham.
Since Tom King took over the flagship Batman series in Rebirth, we’ve been seeing a lot more of Batman’s leadership abilities, mentoring and guiding his team. This welcome theme continues into Batman #7, even though King has taken a back seat to Steve Orlando in this installment. Having Orlando write all of the Monster Men crossover scripts while consulting with the regular writers of the individual titles should lend a nice level of continuity to the crossover itself, but the writing here is noticeably different than King’s solo efforts in the series thus far.
Riley Rossmo’s artwork has a gritty, throwback quality to it. I probably could have gone my entire life without seeing Hugo Strange’s hairy backside, but the Monster Men themselves are exactly what they should be, monstrous abominations. Colorist Ivan Plascencia brings a muted palette offset by flashes of bright color that sets the table brilliantly for the oncoming storm(s).
Sometimes a creator-owned book comes along that is completely different from anything else around it–that’s why we’re highlighting Wild Children, the upcoming one-shot from Image Comics by Ales Kot with Riley Rossmo (Cowboy/Ninja/Viking, Green Wake), Gregory Wright, and Clayton Cowles. Focusing on a group of anarchy-loving (and instigating) students, Wild Children hearkens back to the independent comics of the ’80s, but expresses itself in new and exciting ways.
We had the chance to interview writer Ales Kot about his inspiration for Wild Children, and what he hopes to tackle next. Make sure to check out our five-page preview, and then pre-order the book now to save 20%.
Ales Kot: Twenty-five years of living in a world with an education system that’s built primarily to create docile citizens. Citizens that won’t have too many questions, or too many needs, that will be out of whatever is considered to be ordinary in the 20th century. School, for me, was mostly a soul-crushing thing that needed to be survived until I got on my feet–I went through six different schools in 10 or 11 years, because the systemic, quiet violence of mediocrity always got to me. I wanted to become the best me I could become, and school felt like an obstacle created to stop me from realizing my full potential. So I left. I think I was 17 at the time, and there was never a moment when I felt like I made the wrong choice.
Besides that, a lot of different things served as inspiration–two specific comics that had a lot of impact were the long-unreleased Hellblazer: Shoot by Warren Ellis and Phil Jimenez, and Kill Your Boyfriend by Grant Morrison, Philip Bond, and D’Israeli. I looked at the intent and the energy these comics had, and thought, “What’s the best way to build on these two? What happens if I take them as inspiration for what can be done in comics in 2012, and push forward as much as I can?”
Then also a lot of music, the drone pop of Fuck Buttons, the glitchy idm of Nosaj Thing and Flying Lotus, Hakim Bey’s writing on temporary autonomous zones, Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le Fou . . . I could go on!
TFAW.com:What were some of the themes you were interested in exploring with this comic?
What Wild Children turned into surprised me. I’d be giving away too much if I went into detail here, but I realized that the story opened itself up, becoming a more layered experience. It felt a bit scary–it’s easy to feel like some things might be out of my reach, especially since this was my first longer comic–but I had to dive in, even if that meant risking failure. Not risking failure would be much worse, because it would mean the story wouldn’t be allowed to reach its full potential. I’m glad I made the decision to jump into the void; it made this comic better.
TFAW.com:Do you think today’s youth are too complacent?
AK: I still consider myself a member of today’s youth. I’m 25, and I have no intent of ever becoming a grown-up. If I live, I evolve. If I let myself reach a state where I become a person that’s too fixed in space and time, I allow a reduction of my potential–considering myself a grown-up would do that. I can own up to the consequences of my actions and take care of myself without calling myself a grown-up.
But back to your question: I don’t think it’s my place to judge today’s youth like that. We are everything: complacent, concerned, loving, hateful, right, wrong, scared, embracing, quiet, loud. We are always everything, generation after generation.
Systems built in (and for) the industrial era (such as schools) that try to reduce us to simple mechanics and equations miss the point–infinite economic growth is a religious myth, and basing our culture around a religious myth is shallow, boring and harmful. It’s our job to transform these systems into a new, better, more interesting now that will be in love with the complexity of who we truly are.
TFAW.com:In this story, everyone reacts to these “Wild Children” in the most extreme, worst-case-scenario ways. Why?
AK: Because they were taught that it’s the appropriate response to what they perceive as extremely aggressive and dangerous behavior. We’re taught to expect the worst. “Media sells a trace of hate,” to quote Manic Street Preachers. But we sometimes forget about the other side of the coin, the balancing act: expect the worst, but hope for the best. And do whatever is right.
TFAW.com:What made artist Riley Rossmo a good fit for this story?
AK: Dedication to detail and storytelling, open-mindedness, collaborative spirit, and love for the comics medium that’s probably as obsessive and over-the-top as mine. Willingness to experiment and challenge himself. This project is the first one that Riley did in Ligne Claire style, which is very different from his previous work–much simpler, using less lines to convey more. I’m impressed with his evolution, and we’re figuring out what we’re going to work on next.
TFAW.com:Wild Children is a one-shot–do you see the story continuing in some fashion?
AK: Thematically, yes–I suspect many of its themes will find their way into my future work. Wild Children won’t be a comics franchise, though. Even if the comic sells well, it was always planned as a self-contained graphic novella, and that’s the way it stays.
TFAW.com:What sorts of comics would you like to write next?
AK: Oh, I’m all over the map. I want to be hitting a ratio where about 60-70% of what I write will be creator-owned work, and I have a self-imposed rule that every creator-owned project I create needs to be something that is new–comics that widen the reach of the comics medium, comics I’d immediately buy because they shine with passion and dedication, comics that will mostly transcend genres. Thankfully, I’m working on creator-owned projects that let me do precisely that.
Then there’s work for hire, the other 30-40%. I wrote a Batman story that’s currently being drawn by Ryan Sook, and I couldn’t be happier about it. There’s also a one-shot for another company, but I can’t speak of that as of yet. What I can speak of is the way I see work for hire–there’s a way to make company-owned stories as much fun as creator-owned, and that way lies in all sides surrendering to creativity and fair play, respecting the character and the creator at the same time.
If I ever get a chance, I’d love to write Aliens, or Adam Strange, or Hellblazer, or Judge Dredd (and so on . . . ), because I think I can make their worlds feel strikingly new while simultaneously honoring their roots.
AK:Cronenberg on Cronenberg, edited by Chris Rodley. David Cronenberg is one of my favorite directors, and one of the biggest influences on how I perceive not only fiction and storytelling, but also life. I never quite realized how deeply he and his work impacted me, but this book opened my eyes. He’s one of the honest creators I’m aware of, and creative honesty is a trait I nurture in myself as well. More than that, I put something he says in the book on my desktop, so I see it every morning when I turn on my laptop: “Speak the unspeakable. Show the unshowable.”
Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book, by Gerard Jones. A deeply fascinating history of the strange, complex birth of the US comics industry. I want to understand the roots–the more I know, the easier it is to see patterns, the easier it is to get a better feel for how certain attitudes were formed and others abandoned, the easier it is to think about what can happen next.
Strange Embrace, by David Hine. One of the strongest horror comics I ever read. Edgar Allan Poe meets Joseph Conrad. Scary and deep. Some very psychedelic panel transitions. On top of that, the collected edition is a beautiful object.
Ranx, by Liberatore and Tamburini. Ranx is messed up. The future is ugly and beautiful and full of sex and death and drugs and robots. Heavy on satire, black humor and fun. Heavy Metal Magazine comics at their finest.
AK: Besides the stories I already talked about, I’m working on a few projects that will be coming out later this year, and some that will come out in 2013. First announcements will be made at San Diego Comic Con in July, but I can say that I’m currently working on a contemporary horror story that’s making me very nervous, and a near-future science-fiction story inspired by Jean Baudrillard’s and Steven Shaviro’s explorations of hyperreality. The collaborators I’m working with are strong, dedicated storytellers, and the stories feel new, challenging, and exciting to write and read. I hope the readers will agree.
We want to thank Ales for his thoughtful responses to our questions! You can find him via his website, or follow him on Twitter at @ales_kot. Make sure to preview Wild Children and place your pre-order now.
Rebel Blood and Green Wake artist Riley Rossmo is the latest creator to pledge to donate an original sketch to our Fourth Annual SDCC Autograph Card/CBLDF Auction event! All proceeds from the CBLDF Auction at San Diego Comic-Con support the First Amendment Rights of the comics community.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has provided legal representation and support to comics retailers, publishers, creators, and fans since 1986. It’s an important cause that needs our support every day, and TFAW is proud to have helped raise more than $75,000 in the past three years.
Rossmo burst onto the comics scene with the psychedelic, multiple-personality action-adventure Cowboy/Ninja/Viking. He also donated to our event in 2011; see last year’s sketch, below.
You can bid on Rossmo’s original art at this year’s CBLDF Auction at SDCC, or pick up your own copy–for free! TFAW will be turning every sketch from this event into free, limited-edition autograph cards that we will be distributing at SDCC this year. Stop by booth #5625 to pick up your set, and make sure to stop by the CBLDF Auction July 14 at San Diego Comic-Con!
Check it out: Green Wake and Cowboy Ninja Viking artist Riley Rossmo has submitted his sketch for our Third Annual SDCC Autograph Card/CBLDF Auction event! The color version will be up for bid at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s annual auction at San Diego Comic-Con, while the black-and-white version will be turned into a free autograph card available at the convention.
Want your own copies of all the sketches from this year’s participating publishers and creators? TFAW will be creating limited-edition autograph cards and passing them out at SDCC. To pick up yours, visit TFAW at booth #5625 July 21-24!
The artist behind such notable Image Comics series like Green Wake, Proof, and Cowboy/Ninja/Viking, Riley Rossmo, has agreed to contribute an original sketch to our Third Annual SDCC Autograph Card/CBLDF Auction event! Rossmo’s sketch will be auctioned off at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s annual auction at San Diego Comic-Con, with the proceeds going toward the defense of the First Amendment rights of the comics community!
Do you want to help support the comics community? Attend the auction on July 23, or become a member of the CBLDF via the link below. Want to get your own copies of the sketches generated from our event? We’ll be creating free limited-edition autograph cards from the artwork contributed by the following publishers and creators. To collect yours, visit TFAW at booth #5625 July 21-24!
We’re wrapping up Image Month in style with an awesome interview with AJ Lieberman and Riley Rossmo of Cowboy Ninja Viking! Here’s the skinny on CNV: Tasked with creating a counter-intelligence unit, Dr. Sebastian Ghislain turned to those long thought useless to society: patients with Multiple Personality Disorder, which he transforms into assassins called “Triplets.” Now all but one of these Triplets has gone rogue, and it’s up to Cowboy Ninja Viking to find and stop this band of ridiculously disturbed–but highly effective–assassins!
TFAW.com:For readers unfamiliar with the series, can you give us a 5,000-foot view of Cowboy Ninja Viking?
AJ Lieberman:CNV is about Duncan, a guy who suffers from MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder) who has the personalities of a Cowboy/Ninja/Viking “living” inside his head. Part of a secret government program headed by rogue psychoanalyst Dr. Sebastian Ghisalin, Duncan is taught to retain the skill set of each of his latent personalities (why he’s called a Triplet) and trained as an agent helping with the war on terror. Think of him as part Jason Bourne, part John Nash (only without the super hot wife).
TFAW.com:CNV was originally slated to be a four-issue miniseries, and just before the series debuted, it got picked up as an ongoing monthly. How did that phone call go?
AL: Yeah, once the response started to trickle in it was obvious we had hit upon something. Of course being on the cover of Previews didn’t hurt one bit. Couldn’t stop at four. The only concern was that we knew our first few books were pretty good and wanted to make sure that we didn’t rush into a monthly schedule without the new books being as good or better. In the end, I think [issues] #6 through #10 are probably better.
TFAW.com:Why did you guys decide to go with the Golden Age format for CNV?
AL: Jim Valentino suggested it and we said, “Ah, Okay.” It turned out to be a smart move as the extra space really helps us.
RR: The extra room really helps us, CNV has a lot happening in each issue so the extra space let us put way more in each issue.
TFAW.com:Have you been sitting on the idea of CNV for awhile? How did the idea of CNV evolve?
AL: No. I started thinking of certain characters types and situations I thought Riley would be good at drawing and the concept evolved. In fact, included in the recently released TPB, there is an early version of the script to show you what the whole thing started out at as.
TFAW.com:Did Image introduce you two, or did you know each other before you embarked on this series?
AL: Nope. We knew each other prior but had never worked together. We did a few pitches four or five years ago but nothing really came out of that.
RR: I needed time to refine my storytelling and drafting skills.
TFAW.com:Duncan had a major breakthrough at the end of issue #6, thanks to his psychiatrist. I assume that’s going to be short-lived? Or Will Duncan continue seeing Meyerhoffer in the future?
AL: Well, the breakthrough you speak of is significant and actually affects the next few books as Duncan tries to stay alive and tries to figure out what to do about said “breakthrough.” As far as seeing Dr. Meyerhoffer again, that is answered in CNV #7.
TFAW.com:You held a contest where one of the Triplets’ personalities was determined by a fan. That was Sumo/Cyborg/Rabbi in issue #4, right? Do you plan on holding any other contests of this nature in the future?
AL: That was fun and we got a great response, but as of now, no. You need a lot of lead time to get those things going and the next arc (#6 through #10) is already finished. And after that we’re taking a break to recharge, deal with other commitments, and then come back for more.
TFAW.com:Blaq lost a few of the Triplets to Ghislain’s Special Projects Program at the end of the first arc. We haven’t seen the baddies for a couple issues, when can we expect more Triplet-on-Triplet violence?
AL: Oh, Triplet-on-Triplet mayhem is coming, my friend. More than you know. No matter what you think you think you know from CNV #6 and #7, all of it will change by the time you’ve read #8 and #9. But yes, Blaq did lose a few Triplets to Ghislain. This does not make him happy. Let’s just say he’s working on a plan.
TFAW.com:Is it safe to say that the “15th Triplet” wasn’t actually a clerical error, as Ghislain claimed in issue #4?
AL: Well, in Ghislain’s defense, he’s had some pretty unfocused assistants (see CNV #1) so it could be a clerical mistake. On the other hand, Ghislain’s not half as scattered as he appears to be, so . . .
TFAW.com:Will we be meeting this mysterious Triplet soon?
TFAW.com:The love triangle between Duncan, Grear and Nix was a great addition to the story. Does that continue to complicate things for awhile?
AL: Short answer: Yes, it complicates things for the rest of the arc (and beyond). Long answer: [Duncan and] Grear, Duncan’s ex-wife, have a love-hate relationship which seems to oscillate between them having great porn-star sex and trying to kill each other. Then there’s Nix. Is she Duncan’s soul mate? Is she just a schoolboy crush of a guy with a Cowboy/Ninja/Viking in his head? Of course it doesn’t help that they all work together. It also doesn’t help that Nix has a few secrets of her own.
TFAW.com:The book pretty much speaks for itself, but what would you say to someone who’s on the fence about CNV?
AL: It’s exactly what you think it would be based on the title and absolutely nothing like what you expect it would be based on the title.
TFAW.com:Thanks again for taking the time out of your schedules to chat with us, gents. We’re really enjoying the book and look forward to seeing where you take us.
AL: Thanks a lot for the interest. And enjoy the new arc, it’s pretty wild.
On the verge of the Cowboy Ninja Viking debut, Image Comics announced yesterday that writer AJ Lieberman and artist Riley Rossmo’s highly anticipated action-packed mini-series with a multiple personality twist will expand to regular ongoing series!
“Even before its release, Cowboy Ninja Viking has seen a reception much like Chew’s explosive launch, making it evident writer AJ Lieberman and artist Riley Rossmo shouldn’t be contained to a mere four issues,” Image Comics Vice President Jim Valentino said. “In a time where it’s very hard to launch an all-new title, the pre-release buzz for this book has been massive. We’re extremely excited to keep it going for a long time coming. Considering we’ve had to already double our print run to meet demand, we think the fans will highly enjoy the now ongoing series.”
Cowboy Ninja Viking is the birth child of Doctor Sebastian Ghislain, a psychotherapist who recruits Multiple Personality Disorder patients to create a unit of counter-intelligence agents called the Triplets. But what happens when those guys become out of control assassins? That’s when the deadliest Triplet of them all, Cowboy Ninja Viking, is called in to take down his own brethren. In order to ensure the timely schedule, the series will ship in monthly arcs with two-month gaps in between each storyline.
Cowboy Ninja Viking #1 just became available as an in-stock product and you can still pick up your copy…but they’re going fast.