A Quick Comics Around-the-Horn (Not a Creature was Stirring Edition) Our comics blogger rounds up the week's developments: cancer comes to Riverdale, the Fantastic Four become Three. But on the bright side: Axe Cop!
NPR logo A Quick Comics Around-the-Horn (Not a Creature was Stirring Edition)

A Quick Comics Around-the-Horn (Not a Creature was Stirring Edition)

Cover of Fear Itself Marvel hide caption

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Cover of Fear Itself


Look, you're busy, I'm busy. Presents to wrap, groceries to buy, a car to pack, deltoids to blast (just in case I do receive a certain ridiculously weighty tome under the tree), and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.

So this week it'll just be a few quick bites on the way out the door.

The Dominoed Daredoll, Deconstructed

The redoubtable Alan Kistler -- he of those crazily fun "Tim Gunn Talks Superhero Costumes" video interviews -- is talking Batgirl over at Newsarama. At length. Plus, there's pictures of Yvonne Craig. So. I mean.

Miss G Gets the Big C

As the New York Times announced yesterday, everyone's favorite needle-nosed, hair-bunned high school teacher, Archie Comics' Miss Grundy, will succumb to cancer in an issue hitting stands next week.

Do I need to tell you that this death -- like Archie's marriage to Veronica, and to Betty -- occurs in a title (Life with Archie) that explores a possible future, and that, in the main Archie books, Geraldine Grundy will soldier on in her brave fight against ignorance and public smooching at Riverdale High? I don't, right?

If you need a refresher course on how this all works, check out what we said about that "Archie Marries Veronica Shock Horror!" meshugas last year.

Don't Fear (Batroc the) Leaper

Marvel made a big announcement yesterday, in a manner that will gratify all those social media consultants who keep cold-calling you at work: Web conference, live Q and A, Twitter, etc.

The gist: Another company wide-crossover event is coming, this one beginning in April, to be called Fear Itself.

Details were deliberately vague: Several Marvel heroes will battle the God of Fear (read: face their own greatest fears, and turn on one another). The term "extinction-level event" got tossed out -- code for "Heroes gonna die!" The story will spill over into several ongoing Marvel titles, as is the way of such things.

Why should you, a non-comics-reading Normal, care? You shouldn't, I suppose. You certainly needn't. Unless you grew up with comics and have been thinking about diving back into the mainstream, or you're just curious what all the fuss is about, that is.

Marvel characters' storylines tend to be more densely interwoven (some would say tangled) than those of their DC counterparts. Hardcore fans love this shared-universe feel, but it can leave casual readers bemused. Events like this one can provide a good jumping-on point, as they force writers to devote time to scene-setting. (Prediction: Hardcore fans will complain about the first issue of Fear Itself. "Nothing happens! It's all set-up!")

The main Fear Itself book will be written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Stuart Immonen. Both creators have come in for their fair share of fervent praise, in this space and elsewhere, over the years. It'll be one to watch.

Yeah, Okay, But .... Three is a Magic Number, Right? RIGHT?

While we're talking Marvel, word is that a member of the Fantastic Four will take a cosmic dirtnap in the issue hitting stands today. Now as we've often discussed: In superhero comics, Death is not so much that undiscover'd country from whose bourne no traveler returns. No, it's more like Tijuana, and there are shuttle buses on the hour.

But if you're curious, at the comics site iFanboy, they're laying odds on which character is about to get appreciably less fantastic.

Axe Cop. Yes. Axe Cop.

Here's the first thing you need to know: It's a comic by the Brothers Nicolle.

Malachi writes. Evan draws (and, it's fair to say, edits.)

Here's the second thing you need to know.  Malachi? The writer?

Is six years old.

The webcomic I, and many many others, went crazy over earlier this year, is being released today in trade paperback form, as Axe Cop: Volume One.

Today is a good day.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Links

Actually, scratch that. It's a bad day, in the sense that one of the comics communities' go-to blogs is going silent. The awesomely named Dirk Deppey has blogged for The Comics Journal for ten years now, and his daily posts rounding up comics coverage around the net were an indispensable part of every morning for a great many of us. They were a truly comprehensive testament to the breadth of topics, styles and genres that make up the medium of comics, yet they were much more than simple link-dumps; Deppey provided context and commentary, and championed books and artists that could, and did, use it.

And, as Deppey's colleague Noah Berlatsky points out, Deppey's too-infrequent long-form essays were thoughtful, discursive and always enlightening. Here's hoping he finds a way to do more of them. And get paid.