§ Thanks to the success of The Kingsmen, Mark Millar is even more of a bankable movie machine than ever before – even if the film wasn’t much like the comic. But his new stunt is impressive even by his own standards. Last year Millar announced a new comic called Empress, to be published by Image Marvel’s Icon imprint and drawn by Stuart Immonen. (That’s a variant cover by Mike Mayhew above.) The story involves the wife of an evil overlord who decides to leave her husband and take the kids with her, training them to eventually rule the world. As with all MIllar’s comics, it was swiftly optioned, but this one seems to be a bit closer to being made, with an actress cast in the lead. However:

Since the lead actress for the movie has already been cast, Millar is taking a rather unconventional promotional strategy with this bit of intel. Millar’s comic title illustrated by Stuart Immonen is set to launch in April with the first of a six-issue miniseries trilogy. Thus, the plan is to reveal the identity of the movie’s lead actress on Apr. 6, which will be generally in concert with the debut of the comic book series. Not one to shy away from pushing the buttons of the fans, Millar has actually tweeted a photo of the actress cast as Empress… heavily disguised under a headscarf and shades, in a proof-of-life type tease.

For those who think a headscarf and dark glasses aren’t much of a disguise…think again! Who is the mystery woman? Anne Hathaway? Or previous Millar muse Angelina Jolie? The part is said to be for a woman around 40 years of age–Empress age–so it isn’t Jennifer Lawrence. I’m sure people will have figured this out before April 6th, but nice use of social media. My guess? I think I discern Jolie’s distinctive lower lip crease, so I’m going with that.

§ David Harper’s latest opus is Two Brothers: A (Mostly) Oral History of DC vs. Marvel which relates the story of the early 90s Marvel/DC crossover that was led to the Amalgam comics line. There was a few Superman/Spider-Man crossover before this, but an event on such a scale had not been seen before…or since. Harper talks to Peter David, Ron Marz, Tom Brevoort, Jose Luiz Garcia Lopez and many other participants—although DC declined to let main editor Mike Carlin discuss the project, which is kind of stinky.

Peter David: There’s was probably the most entertaining editorial office at Marvel Comics. I remember one time they closed their door for like 24 hours and no one was allowed in. The entire day we heard hammering and sawing and nails being pounded, and the next day when you walked into their office, they had built platforms for their desks so they were now three feet off the ground. It was freaking hilarious. Tom Brevoort (Spider-Boy Editor): Mark really was – if you scratched down and got deep below the surface – he was a DC fan. He loved the DC characters as much if not more than the Marvel characters. It just so happened that he worked here. He worked at Marvel and gave his all to Marvel. So Mark having a chance to actually play with those characters and do things with those characters, I think it was something he would have pursued and pursued more doggedly than other people might have to make it happen.

DC vs Marvel came out in 1996, at the depths of the 90s comics depression. It was an attempt to liven things up and get readers hooked again, as Dan Jurgens recalls.

Dan Jurgens (DC vs. Marvel co-artist): Mike gave me a call one day and said, “guess what, Marvel and DC have seen the market decline somewhat in the past couple of years and we want to give it a shot in the arm and we’re going to be doing a Marvel vs. DC crossover.” He kind of set it up by explaining “we’re going to get two DC guys to do it and we’re going to get a couple Marvel guys to do it, and are you onboard?” And normally when someone offers me a project, I say, “well, give me a day to think about it.” That took all of about one millisecond to say, “oh yeah, I’m in.”

Given all the softening sales we’re seeing 20 years later, one might wonder if Marvel and DC would ever be driven to such a desperate move again? It’s extremely unlikely given the larger Disney/WB rivalry, but one never knows. Perhaps after we’ve tried every other comics event and shocking death, Deadpool vs Harley Quinn will be the only hope for the Big Two.

§ Meanwhile, Batgirl creators Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr have been suggesting that The Killing Joke is no longer in DC Comics continuity. Egads! Tortured/mutilated Batgirl just doesn’t fit in with the character’s current upbeat persona.

§ Brian Nicholson reviews Conor Stechschulte’s Generous Bosom 2, one of my favorite comics of 2015.


§ And Noah Van Sciver reveals his new book.


§ The March trilogy is getting a lovely slipcased box set when it’s complete, designed by Nate Powell and Chris Ross and colored by José Villarubia.

§ Your daily Trump: CNN commentator Van Jones compared him to Sebastian Shaw from the Hellfire Club.

But tonight on CNN’s ongoing coverage of the latest round of presidential primaries, commentator Van Jones took the practice to a new nerdy level by linking the Republican frontrunner/real estate magnate/“short-fingered vulgarian” to X-Men villain Sebastian Shaw. But before Trump’s supporters show up in the comments to call the comparison unfair, know that Jones’ take played into one of Trump’s perceived strengths as a candidate. “The harder you hit [Shaw], the stronger he gets,” Jones told a panel led by Anderson Cooper. “We’re gonna see how many bullets [Trump] can eat.”


§ For yesterday’s International Women’s Day, Zainab Akhtar spotlighted 10 great cartoonists you need to know, and they are indeed worth looking up, including Aatmaja Pandya, above.

§ British cartoonist Jacky Fleming has a new book called The Trouble with Women that looks at the Forgotten Woman syndrome:

For this book, she has been reading up on the brilliant women largely left out of the history books – “I didn’t discover them, obviously, but it seems what historians have discovered isn’t making it on to the school curriculum.” From the first female doctor, Margaret Bulkley, who disguised herself as a man in order to study medicine, to activist Claudia Cumberbatch Jones who, in a bid to counteract racism in Britain at the time, established what would go on to become the Notting Hill carnival. And architect Elizabeth Wilbraham who it is now claimed was centrally involved in designing many of the churches attributed to Sir Christopher Wren.

§ Speaking of which, if you got this far, here is some not comics. Why do women’s achievements get consistently overlooked when history is written? Perhaps the results of a recent study can shed some light. It seems that men consistently rate themselves higher than women even when that is not the case:

Anthropologist Dan Grunspan was studying the habits of undergraduates when he noticed a persistent trend: Male students assumed their male classmates knew more about course material than female students — even if the young women earned better grades. “The pattern just screamed at me,” he said. So, Grunspan and his colleagues at the University of Washington and elsewhere decided to quantify the degree of this gender bias in the classroom. After surveying roughly 1,700 students across three biology courses, they found young men consistently gave each other more credit than they awarded to their just-as-savvy female classmates.

This also baks up the “you must be twice as good” handicap that women have observed in regards to their achievements:

To break it down even further, the researchers pointed out that, “for an outspoken female to be nominated by males at the same level as an outspoken male her performance would need to be over three-quarters of a GPA point higher than the male’s.” The “celebrities” in the classroom were also more likely to be male, and men were far more likely to see their male peers as knowledgeable. In two of the classes, the top four “celebrities” were men. The top three “celebrity” students in the other class were also men. A few women were called out enough by their peers to reach “celebrity” status, but, again, at a more infrequent rate. “While some females rank towards the top, the most well-known females are tied for 4th in two classes and are 5th most well-known in the other,” the researchers wrote.

Any woman who has ever been “mansplained,” i.e. every woman now alive, can back up this phenomenon. I wonder why this is? Seriously?


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