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State of the Comics Industry Address ... We Will Return to Your Regularly Scheduled Programming Next Week.

My Fellow Americans, I come to you all today to inform you of some of the really exciting things that are going on in the comics industry. And while I will be focusing primarily on the actions of late of the "Big Two" as they have come to be known I will also take a few moments to discuss what is going on with some of the smaller companies involved as well. I will endeavor to remain spoiler free. I do this for you, the American People.

Things have been heating up in the world, some might even say that there is some hotness on the horizon. When these people speak of this there are two things of which they are likely to be speaking: the first is The Heroic Age. For too long now our Marvel heroes have been mired in Dark Days, perhaps even under a Reign of Evil of sorts ... and now they find themselves be-Siege-d on all sides. But worry not my fellow Americans, for brighter days are coming. A new and bold Heroic Age is only around the corner, should we all wish to see it. We need only persevere a brief while longer. And then these heroes, who have been New for so long, will return to being Earth's Mightiest Heroes. They will no longer have to hide out under rocks or in basements, they will be encouraged to come out into the sunlight and to be washed clean so that they may be once again seen as the heroes we had all known and loved. Perhaps you may have heard who will be bringing about this bold new age of heroism ... but perhaps you have not. For those of you who may find yourselves unaware two names will become important in the very near future, those of Brian Michael Bendis, and John Romita Jr. These bold men will usher in a new age with some familiar faces and with others that are new to our times. Some of these names have been revealed to us and we will share them here.

Richard Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes is a name known by millions in our country as he once stood bravely beside our greatest patriot, Captain America. But in recent years he has taken on the mantle of his fallen, but now returned, comrade. He may look different than we had become used to but he certainly wields The Shield of mentor with the same brazen bravery to which we had become accustomed. We welcome him with the same open hearts that we once opened to Steve Rogers.

The second name and face is also well known throughout not only our country but the entire world as it was worn by a recent invader as she and her people attempted to Secret-ly conduct an Invasion of our world from all fronts. The face worn by the Skrull Queen was that of Jessica Drew. The newly returned Jessica Drew, known the world over as Spider-Woman, has begun a campaign not only to show the world that she is still a hero and is not the menace who wore her visage for so long. She has been revealed as another Avenger as well as having joined one of our Intelligence Agencies, which has come to recent prominence in light of the same Invasion that was lead by the woman, nay creature, who wore her face: S.W.O.R.D. An off-shoot of the far more well known S.H.I.E.L.D. that has protected our earth from those who call her home and yet would seek to do her harm. S.W.O.R.D. protects us from the skies, from those creatures known and unknown who would see Earth as a pawn in a grand galactic game or perhaps as simply a rich source of fresh resources or a labor force awaiting enslavement.

The other source of heat that is on the horizon comes from our friends at DC Comics and is known simply as: The Brightest Day. While we have spent the last six months waiting with baited breath as The Blackest Night has held us all enthralled perhaps the more significant announcement has been the recent admission that after Blackest Night will come Brightest Day. Being brought to us by two names that have become synonymous with the Lanterns of Light, Peter J. Tomasi, and Geoff Johns, Brightest Day promises a year of bi-weekly updates as the universe becomes more illuminated under the watchful eye of The New Guardians. 

Another log on the fire is the recent announcement that many of the major players from Blackest Night will be given representation in the recently revived HeroClix game through an upcoming boxed set featuring the Bearers of many of the colors of Light that make up the primary excitement of the Blackest Night Event. The revealed images show both the bearer of the Green Light, Hal Jordan as well as the deputized bearer of Red Light Mera, Dethroned Queen of Dimension Aqua and current Queen of Atlantis. 

Also coming from DC Comics is the return of one of the most beloved characters of this or any age, Barry Allen. The return of the Fastest Man Alive of the Silver Age began in 2008 with his reappearance in Final Crisis and built last year as his Rebirth began and his reemergence as a front-line character was solidified by his part in the pages of the previously mentioned Blackest Night. But perhaps it is his return to ongoing comics that has people most excited. With this spring's Flash #1 written by the aforementioned Geoff Johns and with art by his recent companion on Adventure Comics, the incredibly talented Francis Manapul, Barry Allen couldn't be in better hands as he returns home as Central City's proudest native son and once again patrols her streets leaving behind justice and a tell-tale red blur in his wake. Along with the return of The Fastest Man Alive is another great piece of memorabilia from the folks at DC Comics and while we cannot promise that there will be a compact Flash Costume hidden in the secret compartment (or that there will even be a secret compartment at all) we can promise that this Flash Ring is going to be one of the hottest items of the Spring

Another announcement came recently from actress Erica Cerra who has stated a desire to be considered for the role of Wonder Woman in the eventual Big Screen Live Action Adaptation. And she proposes that her coming turn as Hera in Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief will prove to any doubters that she can pull off the other worldly grace that would be necessary to play Diana Prince, Princess of the Amazons.

Finally we come to the many wonders of the Small Press ... And while I would love to tell you about all the exciting things that are coming from companies like Dark Horse, Image, DDP, Dynamite and others I think that pictures will do them more justice:

 Dynamite Brings Kevin Smith's Green Hornet to LifeArchaia Goes Down to Fraggle Rock!Top Cow Open's Pandora's Box and Reveals 2 New Aritfact Bearers.Stuff of Legend Returns for 2 Additional Volumes.

Warren Ellis Has a Big October

The Cover to Planetary #27It all started 10 years ago when in the April of 1999 a bi-monthly series from Warren Ellis and John Cassaday launched. It was originally intended to be 24 issues but it stretched to 27 to fit the whole of the stories of Elijah Snow, Jakita Wagner, and the young man known only as The Drummer ... or at least what Ellis has decided to tell us all. The book has grown a cult status and is one of the finest examples of what can be done with comics that might be more challenging, if even at all possible, in any other format. 

Planetary is the kind of comic story that makes you love comics and that will stay with you long, long after you finish reading it. And after a three year hiatus (due to commitments by the artist Cassaday) the final issue is now on the shelf and has likely been devoured by the fans of the series with rapacious voracity. The series finale has been garnering a whole lot of buzz from fans and critics as well. Newsarama tried to sum it up with just one word "Perfect". They also had a retrospective of the series in two parts and it serves as a nice refresher for those who haven't read the single issues since they released and are hungry to read the final issue, though I will warn that it is rife with spoilers so if you've not read the series you may want to avoid Brandon Thomas' coverage.

The Cover of Gravel #18Joined with that was the announcement this morning that his series from Avatar Press "Gravel" will be made into a movie by Legendary Pictures. The reason that this is interesting is that it is the only of Ellis' projects that is currently under development by anyone but Warner Bros. and that it also holds the distinct honor of being one of Ellis' most disturbing works to date and is also one of his longer running characters. 

William Gravel is the kind of character that most Hollywood types might stray away from and certainly the stories that have been told with the character have been blatantly strange. But seeing as he is a "Combat Magician" and is sort of a darker take on the kind of character that Vertigo has made famous in John Constantine it is probably not terribly surprising that the character has been on the radar of some of the more risky movie studios. 

Interestingly enough the first appearance of William Gravel was also in 1999 and so it seems like it's been a pretty good decade for Mr. Ellis.