Wonder Woman and Justice League Trailers Debut at Comic-Con, and Both Look Cool!

July 23, 2016

Today was Warner Bros.’ movie panel at San Diego Comic-Con, and that video right above this text is the first Wonder Woman trailer. Can we just take a second to appreciate that this finally exists? I mean, dang, it’s been decades of development to get here. We’ve seen a million different Batmans and Spider-Mans and Supermans and now we’ve finally got Wonder Woman on the big screen in her own film. It’s so overdue, but exciting nonetheless.

And, thank the goddesses, it’s pretty fun. This is a trailer in which Wonder Woman infiltrates a fancy party with a sword hidden in the back of her dress. I am SO on board for that. Plus, all of the elements are there. Amazons on a hidden island, a crashed Steve Trevor, a bad ass Diana whooping all kind of dudes, even friggin’ Etta Candy. This is a legit Wonder Woman.

Plus the action looks ridiculously fun. I still don’t love that Wonder Woman has a sword all the dang time, hilarious party subterfuge aside, but the fights here look super rad. And the lasso glows! It also glowed for the 12 seconds she used it in Batman v Superman, and it looked cool there so I’m glad they’re continuing it here. It’s kind of awesome.

We’ve also got a properly mystical and magical Paradise Island, which is key. It’s otherworldly, to be sure. And “They do not deserve you” is my favourite line in the whole trailer. I am all about a Hippolyta who loves her daughter fiercely and has some qualms about sending her out into the barbaric world of men. So often we see that mother/daughter relationship portrayed poorly, and the hints of it we see in this trailer really hit the mark for me.

Also, Steve Trevor is kind of endearing, which is a pleasant surprise. Steve is so often boring, but casting Chris Pine was a smart move. I suppose your enjoyment of Steve will depend on your enjoyment of Pine, but I’ve found his handsome snarkiness enjoyable over the years. He comes off as a good man in the trailer, and that’s all he needs to be really. Then at the end we get Etta Candy! Instantly taking a shine to Diana, like Etta always should. That final scene is a delight.

However, it’s a British Etta Candy during World War One, and that still feels weird to me. It’s a good trailer and I’m cautiously optimistic about the movie, but this is not a Wonder Woman that has ever existed before. Her classic origin is rooted in World War Two, and her successive incarnations have only updated her origin to a more modern setting. There’s never been a Diana in 1910s England, or a British Etta, or Amazons fighting the Kaiser’s troops. It’s Wonder Woman, but it’s not quite Wonder Woman for me. Yet. The change may well grow on me once I see the film. But I still feel a slight disconnect about the change in setting and time, and the ripples that causes in the mythos.

Also, as I’ve mentioned several times, situating Wonder Woman so far in the past may limit her relevance. It’s easy to make Wonder Woman look cool and feminist against sexists dudes from a century past, and to poke holes in the inequality of those days; this is a world where women couldn’t even vote yet! But we’re dealing with 2016 sexism these days, and lots of it. Pitting  Wonder Woman versus straw men ideologies everyone today agrees was bad is weak sauce. Wonder Woman should be confronting the issues that face women today.

Still, Gal Gadot is a GREAT Wonder Woman, and she’s amazing in this trailer. She captures the character so well, and I love the strength and regality and power she brings to the role. Patty Jenkins looks to have a good handle on Wonder Woman as well, and on a big action film. Everything felt like Wonder Woman, to a certain extent, and it was all suitably epic and action packed and exciting. They seem to be an excellent team.

I still have no idea what this movie is about, other than that it’s Wonder Woman’s origin. The bad guys appear to be Danny Huston and maybe that gal in the mask, but I have no idea who they are or what their objective is. Or what the plot is more broadly. It clearly involves the first world war, and it seems that the Amazons are going to get dragged into it, but this was more a teaser than anything overly specific in terms of plot.

It’s a dang good looking teaser, though, and I’m excited to learn more. I still have little to no faith whatsoever in DC’s cinematic universe after Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, and there are choices here with Wonder Woman that I’m not yet sold on. But the trailer looks very cool, and has definitely increased my optimism about the film as a whole.

And here’s something even crazier: We got a Justice League trailer as well, and it actually doesn’t look terrible:

Zack Snyder and company seem to have learned from the poor reception of Batman v Superman, and have actually given this film some humour and fun. The Flash seems poised to steal the movie, though bad ass Aquaman is clearly going to be a fan favourite as well. Wonder Woman doesn’t get a lot to do, but the tone in general is light and pleasant, even with an alien menace on the horizon. Affleck’s Batman seems like less of a psychotic jerk, and the trailer as a whole feels more like a DC property than anything the studio’s put out over the past decade or so. I am so pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it. If they can figure out how to turn this franchise around from its bleak dourness, so one will be happier than me.

So HOORAY we’ve got a Wonder Woman trailer and DOUBLE HOORAY it doesn’t suck! Fingers crossed that they can pull off something cool here and reset the board for a more enjoyable universe with this and Justice League. These trailers are an excellent start.

New Wonder Woman Movie Poster Highlights Power, Grace, Wisdom, Wonder

July 22, 2016

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It’s San Diego Comic-Con this weekend, so we’re getting lots of fun geeky news, and we got a huge reveal today with the first official poster for the upcoming Wonder Woman movie. Directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot, the film will be out in June 2017; we’ve seen a few pictures so far and a couple of very brief clips, but now we’ve got a poster! I’m hoping that we’ll get a trailer before the weekend is out, but the poster is pretty rad.

First, the text totally gets it. “Power. Grace. Wisdom. Wonder” is a such a great encapsulation of the character. These absolutely are the traits that have defined Wonder Woman for decades, and it’s encouraging to see the film acknowledge that from the get go by establishing these words as its definition of the character. It also wisely avoided certain other descriptions. There’s nothing about her appearance at all, for instance. So often we get a focus on Diana’s beauty above all else, and here they skip it entirely. Gal Gadot is obviously lovely, so perhaps they just thought that pointing it out would be redundant. But I’m guessing that they realized that male characters don’t get associated with their appearance; Superman would never have “Handsome” written on his poster. It’s a smart acknowledgement that women are so much more than their appearance.

They also avoid anything martial, like “Warrior” or some such. We get “Power” instead, which is a telling choice. It’s a wider term that encompasses more of the character rather than sharply defining her in terms of violence and warfare. “Power” suggests physical strength, but it also suggests gravitas and leadership and a sort of influentialness that speaks to Wonder Woman as a cultural icon.

Now, we do get a sword, so that does show her martial side. If I’m honest, I’d love to see Wonder Woman without the sword for a change. She’s not a character who I think needs a weapon, particularly one designed to maim or kill. It’s not a weapon for subduing someone, it’s a weapon for battle, and to me, Wonder Woman sees battle as a last resort. So I don’t love the sword.

What I do love, though: The colour! She’s red and blue and gold! Remember a few Comic-Cons back when we got our first official look at Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and it was all browns? That was so disappointing. This poster is colourful and vibrant, even with all the shadow. There’s even blue sky! It’s a sunnier palette and also it’s literally sunnier. It’s a welcome change from all of the darkness we’ve seen from DC’s current movie line thus far.

So yeah, I like this a lot and might have to try to get one for myself. It feels like Wonder Woman in so many ways, and marks a shift towards brightness that is very necessary to make the character work. It’s a cool poster all around, and the tagline especially makes me feel a little more optimistic about the film moving forward.

Wonder Woman #1 was a Top 10 Comic in June, Sold Over 100,000 Copies

July 20, 2016

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DC Comics’ “Rebirth” line seems to be doing well for the publisher thus far. After months upon months of few of their titles hitting the top of the charts, DC had 7 of the 10 best selling comics in June, and 15 of the top 20. Marvel still had a considerably higher market share, but it will be interesting to see how things progress over the next couple of months as the new “Rebirth” line continues to unfold. With just a handful of new books in June, DC was able to take many of the top spots.

And two of those spots were held by Wonder Woman titles! She was right in the thick of things, reaching her highest sales totals in a decade. The special oneshot Wonder Woman Rebirth #1 came in at 15th place with 94,458 copies sold, while the debut issue of the ongoing series, Wonder Woman #1, landed at 9th place with 107,737 copies sold. I can’t even remember the last time a Wonder Woman title made the Top 10, but I can tell you that it’s been exactly ten years since Wonder Woman sold more than 100,000 copies; in June 2006, the Allan Heinberg/Terry and Rachel Dodson relaunch sold 132,568 copies.

This is a phenomenal debut for the new Wonder Woman. With the New 52 relaunch five years ago, the highest total Wonder Woman hit was 79,060, so these numbers blow that out of the water handily. Moreover, they’re a huge leap from May’s numbers when Wonder Woman #52 and Superman/Wonder Woman #29 sold 29,673 and 28,569 copies respectively. That is quite a jump. See what happens when you make comics that aren’t terrible? People will want to buy them.

Wonder Woman also did very well relative to DC’s other new books. Only Batman and Superman sold higher, as did DC’s big prestige series, The Dark Knight III. Wonder Woman topped The Flash, Green Lanterns, Detective Comics, Action Comics, Green Arrow, Titans, and Aquaman; for much of the New 52 era, Wonder Woman was fell behind many of those titles. Between Wonder Woman’s high profile with the DC Cinematic Universe and the 75th anniversary, along with the much hyped return of Greg Rucka, folks seem to be very interested in Wonder Woman again, for the first time in a long time.

Now, these numbers are going to drop next month, probably by a lot. Second month drops are always the worst, though it’ll be interesting to see how Wonder Woman #2 does since it’s a different storyline with a different artist; that might be steady. But Wonder Woman #3 will probably be down if it follows the usual industry trends. Nonetheless, this is a monster debut for the new series that will hopefully teach DC that it’s far more profitable for them to put out Wonder Woman comics that are actually good.

Wonder Woman’s October 2016 Covers and Solicits

July 19, 2016

There’s some cool stuff on the way for Wonder Woman this October, from her regular bi-monthly series to a fun special to some intriguing collections. Between Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary and the upcoming film, the character’s profile is sky high and we’ve been getting a pretty nice selection of Wonder Woman products announced each month. It’s an exciting (and often expensive!) time to be a Wonder Woman fan.

So let’s see what Wonder Woman is up to in October, starting with her regular series:

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WONDER WOMAN #8
Written by GREG RUCKA • Art and cover by NICOLA SCOTT • Variant covers by JENNY FRISON • “Year One” part four! The world is finally introduced to Wonder Woman, and adversaries—both ancient and new—take note.
On sale OCTOBER 12 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

WONDER WOMAN #9
Written by GREG RUCKA • Art and cover by LIAM SHARP • Variant covers by JENNY FRISON • “THE LIES” part five! Diana takes another step closer to discovering the truth…and the mysterious Godwatch responds!
On sale OCTOBER 26 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

As usual, we’re only getting one of the covers, and this month it’s the Sharp one. I don’t love it, to be honest. Is it just me, or does Steve sort of look like a creep here? He’s weirding me out a little.

But, in fun news, Frank Cho is no longer doing the variant covers, and in his place we’ve got Jenny Frison, which is a huge upgrade. Cho’s covers weren’t terrible, but Cho’s a twit who seems to love to stir up sexist anger among his followers, so I’m not sad to see him go. His brand wasn’t a good fit for the book. And Frison is an amazing cover artist, so this should be very cool!

As for the insides, Rucka sure does love vague solicits. Wonder Woman is set to meet the world for the first time in “Year One”, while in “The Lies” Wonder Woman is moving slightly closer to the truth. Not a lot of information, but the series has been solid so far so I’m looking forward to it all nonetheless.

Next up, the second issue of the gorgeous looking team up, Trinity:

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TRINITY #2
Written by FRANCIS MANAPUL • Art and cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL • Variant cover by FRANK CHO
“BETTER TOGETHER” part two! Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman have uncovered a window into their very souls: and the power of temptation proves to be stronger than any villain they could battle! The bonds of friendship and trust between the most formidable heroes on the planet will be tested to their breaking point, with the lives of innocents hanging in the balance!
On sale OCTOBER 19 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T

I mean, look at that cover! I am going to buy this book based on the cover alone; it’s just so pretty. And Manapul’s doing the insides too! It’s going to look so nice. The story sounds weird in ways that could be cool. I like that the book focuses on their friendship and testing them all together; it’s a premise I can get behind. I’m keen for this book to start.

Hilariously, Frank Cho seems to have landed here with a new variant cover gig. We can’t catch a dang break! But really, who’s going to want a Cho cover when they can get that Manapul cover? It’s just too good.

We’ve also got an exciting special:

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WONDER WOMAN 75TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL #1
Story and art by various • Cover by JIM LEE • Variant cover by NICOLA SCOTT • Variant cover by LIAM SHARP
An immense special issue celebrating seventy-five years of the Amazing Amazon, through phenomenal new stories, art, and stand-alone illustrations! Featuring a roster of incredible creators—some who’ve laid down legendary runs with the character, and some who’ve never drawn her before—including Rafael Albuquerque, Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, Renae De Liz, Brenden Fletcher, Adam Hughes, Karl Kerschl, Gail Simone, and many, many more to be announced!
On sale OCTOBER 26 • 80 pg, FC, $7.99 US • RATED T

Eighty pages of Wonder Woman fun, by some killer creative teams! I’m particularly excited for Fletcher and Kerschl to do a Wonder Woman story, though more Renae De Liz is super awesome, and Adam Hughes always does a great Diana. Plus Cliff Chiang! I love Cliff Chiang so much. I’m curious to see who else gets announced; it’d be great to see some more women in the mix here. I think this book could be a blast, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Now to some collections, including a fancy absolute edition:

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ABSOLUTE WONDER WOMAN BY BRIAN AZZARELLO AND CLIFF CHIANG VOL. 1 HC
Written by BRIAN AZZARELLO
Art by CLIFF CHIANG, TONY AKINS, DAN GREEN and KANO
Cover by CLIFF CHIANG
In these tales from the start of DC—The New 52, Wonder Woman learns that Queen Hippolyta has kept a secret from her daughter all her life—and when Diana learns who her father is, her life will shatter like brittle clay. The only one more shocked than Diana by this revelation? Bloodthirsty Hera—so why is her sinister daughter, Strife, so eager for the truth to be told? This Absolute edition collects WONDER WOMAN #1-18 and #0.
On sale FEBRUARY 1 • 484 pg, FC, 8.25” x 12.5”, $125.00 US

I have mixed feelings on this. While the first six issues of this run are AMAZING, it does go downhill somewhat after that. I’d say that about 90% of my affection for this era of Wonder Woman is tied directly to Cliff Chiang’s spectacular art, and seeing it oversized like this would be so fun, but there were a lot of fill ins too that were often only just passable. I’m not sure whether I’ll pick this up or not, especially at such a steep price. But I might; I just love Chiang too much, you guys.

Finally, the collection we’ve all been waiting for:

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THE LEGEND OF WONDER WOMAN HC
Written by RENAE DE LIZ
Art and cover by RENAE DE LIZ and RAY DILLON
The new WONDER WOMAN 9-issue miniseries written and pencilled by Renae De Liz is collected here! In the beginning there was only chaos. But Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, saw a better future—and eventually her daughter would be destined to bring that new world to life! Before her ultimate fate unfolds though, Diana of Themyscira must learn the important lessons of an Amazonian childhood!
On sale DECEMBER 7 • 288 pg, FC, $29.99 US

BEST OF WONDER WOMANS!! If for some reason you were crazy enough to not read this digitally and THEN not read this in single issues, pull yourself together and mark December 7, 2016, on your calendar because you need to get this book. It’s the best Wonder Woman story I’ve read in ages; it’s gorgeous and fun, and simultaneously classic and fresh. It’s just ridiculously good on every level. You’ve got to check it out, and if you’ve got the single issues already, get some of these for your friends. I mean, talk about a perfect holiday gift!

So October should be a lot of fun for single issues, and the collections that come out further down the road are looking cool too. Remember a few months back when all we got was the Finches on Wonder Woman and a terrible Superman/Wonder Woman series? We are living the high life now, gang!

Wonder Woman #2 Review: A New Yet Iconic Origin

July 14, 2016

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Sometimes a comic book just feels right. It taps into what you love about a character and captures a sense of her and her world in a way that fits perfectly with your view of both. We’ve gotten lots of different versions of Wonder Woman over years in lots of different continuities and, like most fans, my vision of the character isn’t connected to any particular incarnation but is rather an amalgam of aspects of many of them; a little Marston, a little Perez, a hint of Simone and Jimenez. A bit of Lynda Carter and a bit of Susan Eisenberg. It all adds up in my mind to something that doesn’t exist in full form in the real world, yet is THE Wonder Woman in my head. Wonder Woman #2 captured a lot of that for me. This felt like Paradise Island, the women captured who I think the Amazons are, and Diana was who I always want her to be. It was a great start to this “Year One” story that I’ve been very much looking forward too, and we’ll discuss it all momentarily but first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

I am about to reveal many of the major plot elements in this comic book!

Look away if you haven’t read it yet!

And go buy it; it’s great!

This isn’t like the old days when Wonder Woman sucked and it was easier to just read a review than subject yourself to a crappy comic each month!

Go read it and enjoy it!

I liked Wonder Woman #1, but it was good not great for me. It got the ball rolling on a bunch of things, but it was a pretty laid back, spacious first issue. While Wonder Woman #2 isn’t particularly jam packed either, there’s a lot more going on even if it a lot of it might not be particularly plot based. What happened can be summed up pretty quickly: Diana’s a princess of the Amazons, she wants to see the outside world, and one night Steve Trevor crash lands on Paradise Island. It’s all fairly standard Wonder Woman origin stuff. But the world building and character building behind it all is what makes this comic great.

Let’s start with Steve Trevor, for a change. I always find it hard to give a hoot about Steve Trevor, but Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott make him an instantly likeable character with just a few pages that flash through moments in the years leading up to his arrival on Paradise Island. The scenes go through Steve’s military training and his friendship with a fellow soldier named Nick, who actually gets a fuller arc; we see him on his first date with his future wife, then his wedding, then the birth of his first child, then his tragic death in the plane crash that brings Steve to Diana. Through Nick’s story, we get a sense of the man Steve is, a good friend, a good soldier, and an all around good man. He’s still not the most exciting guy in the world; I don’t think he ever could be, really. The man is doomed to be overshadowed by Wonder Woman, after all. But the story establishes that Steve is a guy worth rooting for.

With Diana, Rucka and Scott establish several of the hallmarks of the character. She’s kind and funny, a great warrior, and a wonderful daughter. She also wants to get the hell out of paradise, though not in a petulant, brooding way. Her entire existence has been confined to this island, while all of her sisters have spent time in the outside world before the Amazons departed it. She’s curious, and while she clearly loves her home and her sisters, she wants more.

We also get canonical acknowledgement of same-sex relationships on Paradise Island, particularly some involving Diana herself. It seems that she’s had a variety of paramours over the years, and that many of her fellow Amazons are interested in her; she’s the cool girl that everyone has a crush on. We’ve seen same-sex relationships among the Amazons before, most recently in Wonder Woman: Earth One and The Legend of Wonder Woman, but it’s good to see Diana in the mix too. And in a way that comes off well. There’s not much in the way of jealousy and strife among her would-be suitors, just earnest longing. It stands in stark contrast to Wonder Woman: Earth One, in which her relationship with Mala was a rather toxic and uncaring.

The most intriguing part of the issue for me was the mysterious snake that bites Diana and renders her ill, seemingly for some time. The snake appears in a bizarre tree that Diana has never seen before, and has glowing red eyes. Its bite knocks Diana unconscious, and her recovery takes a while. The snake and the tree aren’t discussed much, but it’s clear that they’ll play a role moving forward. Perhaps this may be one of the connections to the story in the odd-numbered issues that Rucka has hinted at, some sort of link to the lies that plague Diana in the present day.

But back in the past, she’s just a curious gal who wants to see the world. It’s understandable, even though Scott has built a spectacularly gorgeous world around her. Her rendering of the island feels like the platonic ideal of Paradise Island to me; it’s classic but unique, with a beautiful city area and lush surroundings. It’s everything I think of when I imagine the home of the Amazons.

Scott also does a phenomenal job with the island’s residents. While Scott has drawn Wonder Woman before, and did an excellent job when she did, her work is even better now. She’s definitely grown as an artist over the years, and I think it shows most in the clear yet subtle emotion she brings to her characters. Diana’s interactions with her mother demonstrate this particularly well; even without the dialogue, you can see the warmth and love they have for each other as clear as day, and the characters are expressive but not overly so. It feels natural and real, something that’s tricky to achieve in artwork.

The colors enhance the beauty of the book as well, and I’m so glad to see Romulo Fajardo Jr. will be coloring this half of the series. His work on Wonder Woman ’77 was phenomenal, and often brought the book to live, even when he didn’t have the best art to work with. Paired with Scott’s fantastic linework, Fajardo’s colors make the book sing. It’s a gorgeous issue from start to finish, and while I very much wanted to devour it to see what happens next, the artwork drew my attention and kept me poring over each page.

All together, this first issue of “Year One” was a great start. It could perhaps be called slow or even “decompressed”, but it was so in a way that I think it needed to be to establish a new tone for Paradise Island and the Amazons. The New 52 run diminished both considerably, degrading them and turning this noble group of women into a bunch of hateful rapists and murderers. Rucka and Scott bring joy and peace and kindness back to the Amazons here, and establish a new status quo that overwrites the errors of the past. We still don’t have much insight into how Wonder Woman remembers two pasts or who is behind “The Lies” that are being pursued in the odd-numbered arc, but we do have the classic Amazons back and that’s what I was hoping for above all else in this run.

Wonder Woman #2 Preview: Year One Begins!

July 12, 2016

I. AM. SO. EXCITED. FOR. THIS.

I’ve been waiting for this book for years, ever since Greg Rucka revealed that he was originally tapped to write the Wonder Woman: Earth One graphic novel, with art by J.H. Williams III (DC changed their minds and gave it to Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette instead). He’s mentioned a few story details over the years, and they all sounded amazing; Diana looking out at the horizon instead of up in the sky in this preview was one of those scenes. And now Rucka’s telling his Wonder Woman origin story, with Nicola Scott on art, and I can’t wait to read it!

The A.V. Club has posted a preview of the story, which debuts in Wonder Woman #2 and will run in every other issue of the series for the next six months, so let’s take a look:

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It delights me to no end to see happy Amazons. We’ve had a long run of cold, vicious, awful Amazons, so seeing love and warmth on Paradise Island is a lovely change of pace. The final page of the preview, with Diana and her mother, warms my heart immeasurably, doubly so since Hippolyta’s been dead for several years now since the New 52 reboot. But, as we learned with Wonder Woman #1, Diana’s New 52 family was all a lie, the details of which are slowly unfolding in the odd numbered issues of the new series.

I’m so excited to pick this issue up tomorrow! I should have a review up at some point, though I’m going to be on a train all afternoon and my wifi might be spotty. But I’ll do my best to have my thoughts up then. If not, it’ll be up on Thursday. Be sure to hit your local comic shop or Comixology tomorrow to get this issue!

Women in Comics Statistics: DC and Marvel, May 2016 in Review

July 11, 2016

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My latest “Gendercrunching” column is up over at Bleeding Cool, and May 2016 was a pretty solid month for female creators across the board. Both DC and Marvel appear to have settled into a new status quo that’s noticeably above their previous typical range.

DC Comics ticked up slightly to 16.9% female creators overall, their highest percentage in a year. Marvel dropped a bit, but still came in at 17.4% overall; Marvel’s past three months have the highest continuous run we’ve seen from either Big Two publisher since this project began a few years back.

We also continued our tour around smaller publishers and saw impressive totals from Dark Horse, Dynamite, and Titan, as well as somewhat less than impressive numbers from Valiant. All together, over the past two months, the seven smaller publishers we visited posted some pretty solid numbers.

Head on over to Bleeding Cool for all of the stats fun!


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