It feels like it's been ages since we last nerded out together, faithful readers.
Surely that's just because the month of July tends to produce more comic book news than the rest of the year altogether.
Taking that into account, it's not so hard to believe that it's only been a half dozen weeks since the last time this column printed.
The month of July alone was a veritable bonanza of comic book news, as San Diego held its annual Comic-Con. Plus, the month also brought the third and final installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy.
But comic book fandom is an ever ongoing and far-looking thing. Despite receiving an "end" such as "The Dark Knight Rises," all that ever really results is the spark new enthusiasm for upcoming things such as Zack Snyder's "Man Of Steel" and DC's now fast-tracked "Justice League" project.
So, while some of this may be old news, let me re-hash a little bit of what's been on my mind these last few weeks.
One of the more exciting items to come out of Comic-Con this year (to me at least) was the news that Neil Gaiman will be returning to the world of "The Sandman."
A long-running series published by DC under its Vertigo imprint, "The Sandman" has grown from a cult favorite to one of the most critically acclaimed and respected comic series of all time. Next year will mark the 25th anniversary of the start of the series, and at Comic-Con it was announced that Gaiman will soon be releasing a prequel of sorts to the series.
Since its start in 1993, DC's Vertigo label has served as a sort of subsidiary for the company's more adult-themed comic books. In "The Sandman," Gaiman crafted a world populated by comic book characters, real-life individuals and characters from both literature and elsewhere. The 75-issue series is a fantasy epic following the character Morpheus, an immortal who rules the land of dreams.
The new series to come in 2013 will serve as a prequel to the events which happen in issue No.1 of "The Sandman." The series will be drawn by artist J. H. Williams III, whose recent work on "Detective Comics" and "Batwoman" won him such awards as "Best Cover Artist" and "Best Penciller/Inker." Williams III is known for the experimental way in which he lays out his comic panels and for his photorealistic style of illustration, which makes me all the more excited for this project. The choice of Williams III seems more than appropriate, and there's no one else I could even think of to fill that slot other than Dave McKean himself.
"There's nothing like a "Neil Gaiman story," said Karen Berger at Comic-Con, executive editor of Vertigo. "And there's nothing like having Neil back home on 'The Sandman,' his dark, soulful, literary epic that transformed comics and continues to captivate countless new readers year after year. Working with him again, and with J.H. Williams III, the extraordinary and groundbreaking artist, is truly the stuff dreams are made of."
Here's what Gaiman's been quoted as saying about the new project:
"When I finished writing 'The Sandman,' there was one tale still untold," he said. "The story of what had happened to Morpheus to allow him to be so easily captured in 'The Sandman' No. 1, and why he was returned from far away, exhausted beyond imagining, and dressed for war. It was a story that we discussed telling for the Sandman's 20th anniversary... but the time got away from us. And now, with Sandman's 25th anniversary year coming up, I'm delighted, and nervous, that story is finally going to be told."
DC rebooted its universe of characters a year or so ago and now those individual titles are starting to see collection in hardcover form.
Out this month from the publisher is the first volume of Grant Morrison's run on the relaunched "Action Comics."
In volume one of the reinvented title, Morrison introduced readers to a familiar yet different Clark Kent - a down and out newspaper hound trying to write real and important stories in an age of corporate interests. Plus there's the boots and jeans in place of the tights and cape, but that all changes a few issues into the series.
The opening of the first issue felt a little like Frank Miller's "Batman: Year One" in a way, with Superman busting into a penthouse suite to harass the corporate sort of establishment villain - just as Batman broke into that mayoral dinner party in Miller's four-issue series. I liked that aspect of the story, among others. Despite being a reinterpretation of the classic Clark Kent and Superman characters, there's familiar elements to Morrison's work as he mines the history of not only Clark and Superman but the larger Metropolis and Krypton worlds.
In addition to the main story by Morrison and drawn by Rags Morales, the collection features backup stories by Sholly Fisch and drawn by Andy Kubert.
Having set out to sort of recreate their whole universe of characters, DC understandably selected "Action Comics" as one of the foundations for their new world. Just as in the pages of Geoff Johns' "Justice League," here in "Action Comics" we're presented with a modern world that's just beginning to awaken to the reality of aliens and super-powered human beings. Sure, there's still some confusion regarding the timing between which comic titles happen when, but in terms of a re-imagining, there's a lot to like in Morrison's current run on "Action Comics."
As happens so often with collected editions, finishing these first few issues collected in this book has me wanting to run out and pick up the rest of the series in individual copies. Who knows how long it'll be now before volume two arrives. DC's got a lot of titles still to collect and print as a result of this reboot.
Simply because I can never say enough about Grant Morrison, I figure I'll continue writing about the author under a second subhead in this month's column.
I'm going to crib heavily from the website Comic Book Resources here, but Grant Morrison is almost done with his run on "Action Comics." Despite volume one of the collected edition having just come out, Morrison's only got another half dozen individual issues before he leaves superhero work at DC and heads over to Image Comics.
His new comic, "Happy!," will be a "noirish Christmas fable collaboration with Darick Robertson," which will arrive in September from Image. Morrison has also suggested he has more creator-owned projects in the pipeline, but he's not free from DC and superheroes just yet. He's still got several issues of "Batman, Inc." and a Wonder Woman project allegedly in the pipeline. Plus there's his long-discussed "Multiversity" and so much else. The man's always got a dozen brands in the fire, and for that I'm always pretty happy.
Geek Magazine relaunched in June, returning to newsstands after time away following a bankruptcy and restructuring.
Previously a monthly title, the magazine's getting the ball rolling again slowly this year, with its second issue arriving this month and two more slated for before the end of the year.
As its name implies, Geek Magazine has a somewhat specified set of interests, even though a great number of things are incorporated under that one umbrella -science fiction, fantasy, movies, television, technology and more.
While a print option's not yet available at this time, the magazine can be found at Wal-Mart, Target and Barnes & Noble. And full disclosure, I have an article on the band Dirty Projectors in this month's music section of the magazine, so check me out if you come across a copy.
For as long as I can remember, this section of each month's column has been mostly about Christopher Nolan and "The Dark Knight Rises." Of course, that all changes this month. The movie's out. It's been seen. But what's worthy of replacing it as my month-in, month-out closer? Blather about Zack Snyder's "Man Of Steel?" Or maybe assorted tidbits about all many, many Marvel projects in the works? Or maybe blather about all the countless television shows both in development and rumored to be in development?
There's just so much to choose from. I've said it before, but honestly ... every day brings increased focus and attention on comic books, and I'm still surprised we haven't reached some sort of critical mass. It'll come, I'm sure. I just fear the details. I hope DC doesn't see diminished returns as the company tries to recreate Marvel's success in films. I mean, Marvel kicked off a pretty good streak there with "Iron Man." As a result, comic book-related properties are so much more in the mainstream now than ever before. And no company is showing any signs of slowing. So with so much of the world educating themselves on Marvel characters, will fairweather followers have the time for something DC other than Batman? I hope so. DC's got a number of great-sounding projects in the works.
Switching gears somewhat, I read the other day that Warner Brothers is considering Ben Affleck to direct DC's "Justice League" movie.
I think I'll just leave it there for this month. No more comments or blather from me. More in a month's time.
"Nerding Out With Nick Dean" is a monthly column about comic books, movies and more.