Category Archives: Pop Culture

Variant Madness: Obama to appear in Amazing Spider Man, special cover

spidermanobamaGod bless variant covers.

News broke quickly this past week that President Elect Barack Obama will be in a story in Amazing Spider-Man #583 and also featured in a variant cover that you can see here. As a life-long Spider-fan and Obama supporter, this is pretty awesome. It also helps that the future Prez is also likes Peter Parker’s exploits as well.

The issue will be in stores this upcoming Wednesday, January 14th.

But while the story will run in all issues, how to acquire the variant cover and how retailers can acquire them is what’s confusing. From the Newsarama writeup:

“Retailers were informed on December 16th via Diamond Dateline and the retailer portion of the Diamond website that issue #583 would have a special Obama variant cover and include the Inauguration Day backup story, something which would bring the issue up to 40 pages in total, and increase its price point (for both the regular cover and variant cover editions) to $3.99. To stress that last point – the Spider-Man/Obama story is in every issue of Amazing Spider-Man #583, with or without the Obama variant cover.

At that time, the conditions for ordering the Obama variant were that if retailers exceeded their orders for Amazing Spider-Man #583 compared to their orders for issue #575 by the Final Order Cut-off date of December 18th, they would qualify to order as many Obama variant covers as they wished while supplies lasted. To clarify, the cover is not being shipped to retailers in a 50/50 ratio as reported in the mainstream press.”

Issue 575 was the first part of the two-part Hammerhead arc that Ben and I discussed on the last p’cast. It’s reported that the first run has already sold out and that a second printing of the variant is being offered to shops with no restrictions while supplies last.

So at some point, you’ll probably be able to acquire one of these variants…somehow and some places.

Original story found at Newsarama

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You’re Fired! – Jeph Loeb and Jesse Alexander relieved of duties on “Heroes”

Jeph Loeb (pictured here with Heroes star, Kristen Bell) was fired by NBC according to Variety

Jeph Loeb (pictured here with Heroes star, Kristen Bell) was fired by NBC according to Variety

Uber-reliable Hollywood rag Variety has reported that comics scribe Jeph Loeb and co-executive producer Jesse Alexander have been relieved of their duties on NBC’s Heroes.  The news comes midway into the third season of the comics-inspired drama which debuted with stellar ratings and a rabid fanbase, but has since limped into mediocrity since its first season.

According to the article, Loeb and Alexander, who have been with Heroes since the beginning, were let go due to “frustration with the creative direction of the show.”  Fans have criticized Heroes for being derivative of plots and characters found in mainstream comics, a fact that the shows producers would likely attribute to homage rather than plagiarism.  From its inception, Heroes asserted itself as a show pulled directly from comic book lore.  A better criticism of the show might be that its characters, while largely likable and interesting, seem to demonstrate wildly erratic motivation and behavior.   … [ Begin Editorial ]

Continue reading You’re Fired! – Jeph Loeb and Jesse Alexander relieved of duties on “Heroes”

Embrace Change – Marvel airs Secret Invasion TV Commercial on ESPN2

Amidst the wave of teaser images, house ads and other clever marketing gimmicks, Marvel comics reached back into it’s 1980’s playbook and pulled out something it hadn’t used in a long time – traditional on-air TV advertising.  This 30-second TV spot promoting Marvel’s Secret Invasion aired last night during the Minor League Baseball Championships on ESPN2.  The ad leads viewers to embracechange.org, which is really just a link to the Secret Invasion page on marvel.com.  With Secret Invasion already 6 issues in, this ad is presumably aimed to boost sales on trade paperback which will be released once the mini-series concludes in November.  While it remains to be seen how effective the TV campaign will be, it’s nice to see Marvel pushing their core product – comic books – in a mainstream media venue.  That’s something we haven’t seen since the 1980’s ads for G.I. Joe comics.

HBO’s “True Blood” has a familiar taste

The 2004 Vertigo series, "Bite Club" will feel familiar to fans of HBO's new series, "True Blood"

DC’s Vertigo line has long claimed to be “the HBO of comics”.  With the debut of HBO’s newest series, True Blood, it may prove to be just that.  While there is no direct relationship, True Blood bears some striking similarities to Vertigo’s 2004 mini-series, Bite Club.  

True Blood, the latest brainchild of writer/director Alan Ball (American Beauty, Six Feet Under),  follows Louisiana waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) through a world where Vampires have gone public and become part of society. Thanks to the invention of a synthetic blood substitute called – you guessed it – Tru Blood, vampires have made themselves known and are accepted (albeit hesitantly) into our culture. In the first episode we see a TV interview with Nan Flanagan, a spokesperson for the ‘American Vampire League.’

In Bite Club, co-written by Howard Chaykin and David Tischman with art by David Hahn, we’re introduced to the Del Toro crime family a vampire mafia operating in Miami.  Vampires in Bite Club have similarly made themselves known and enjoy a place in society thanks to the blood substitute/illicit drug, ‘Plasmagoria’. The vampires of Bite Club have turned their hunger away from human flesh and towards money, power and fame.  The tenuous relationship between vampires and humans leads to the development of the ‘Vampire Crime Unit’ – the subject of the second Bite Club mini-series.

Promotional artwork for "True Blood"
Promotional artwork for "True Blood"

Even the promotional art for True Blood looks familiar, when viewed alongside the cover of Bite Club‘s first issue, penciled by Frank Quietly (All Star Superman).  Other promotional efforts behind True Blood include viral sites for both the Tru Blood beverage and the American Vampire League as well as an online comic.  

True Blood is not based on Bite Club but rather on the novels of author Charlaine Harris.  Still, the similarities are undeniable and fans of Bite Club will likely enjoy HBO’s latest original series.  Moreover, if the masses respond to True Blood, Bite Club and Vertigo could provide a hook to turn TV viewers into comic readers. The serialized storytelling of comics and trade paperback collections will be very familiar to fans who’ve grown accustomed to  HBO’s seasonal installments.  And the Vertigo line serves up a similar buffet of sex, violence and adult themes that HBO fans will love.  

The recently finished Vertigo series, Y: The Last Man was long-rumored to become and HBO series but will instead see a 2009 theatrical release. Marvel writer, Brian Michael Bendis (Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man) is currently working on a pilot for HBO that, while not comic-based, could be another crossover opportunity to bring in new readers.  And as comics continue to creep in to the mainstream, it’s clear that there are plenty of comics-fans-in-waiting. So the next time you’re at the water cooler, talking the Wire or Lost with coworkers, suggest a trade of your favorite series and see if anyone bites.