Good afternoon, comics fans! Welcome to issue #6 of RVA Mag’s Comics X-Change, piping hot off the press and now with a holofoil variant just for you.
A lot is going on the next couple weeks for us in comics-land, and in the beautiful not-so-underground that is Netflix. As if we weren’t packed as it was, I was parking my car in front of Alpha Comics and Games in Willow Lawn to talk to Alex Smith and Brianna Beebe when I got the alert that the God among kings and queens, Mr. Stan Lee, had finally passed away at 95.
Needless to say, we’ll be talking about that for a hot minute today. So grab your favorite drink of choice from St. Margaret’s School for Troubled Girls, take a seat and get comfy.
“Adventure Time Season 11 #2” by Sonny Liew, Ted Anderson, and Marina Julia
“For people that are kind of having that void from the TV series being ended, there’s something out there besides just that,” said Beebe. “[It’s] a continuation of what was established in that last episode.”
“Firefly #1” by Greg Pak and Dan McDaid
“[Firefly] is very popular, many people like it, but not many people might know its coming out,” said Beebe.
“Life is Strange #1” by Emma Vieceli and Claudia Leonardi
“It’s not a rehashing of the game, [but] It’s another thing a lot of people are curious about and would probably be interested in,” said Beebe.
“Empty Man #1” by Cullen Bunn and Vanesa R. Del Rey
“The plot is that there is a condition called the ‘Empty Man’ disease, where people start hallucinating, and then they lash out incredibly violently, “said Smith. “There are some experts treating it like a pandemic, some treating it like people doing it for attention, but anyone who displays symptoms is forcibly quarantined by the government and never seen again.”
“Sleepless #9” by Sarah Vaughn and Leila Del Duca
“It’s a very gentle fantasy book,” said Smith. “It’s very gentle where there’s violence and swordfights, but you can relax while reading it; instead of Game of Thrones, where you’re like, ‘Okay, who dies now?’”
“Man-Eaters #1” by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk
A one star review on GoodReads listed this as “pure feminist revenge porn,” and I can’t think of a better review, to be honest. Man-Eaters envisions a world where a mutation in Toxoplasmosis causes menstruating women to turn into killer cats, while a twelve year old girl has to figure out how to save the world. Naturally.
“Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” on Netflix
Oh, sweet, sweet Sabrina, my problematic fave. Imagine a world where Archie’s Sabrina is reinvisioned by Melissa Joan Hart in the 90s, and then Netflix re-imagines her in a much cooler goth version with a pretty sweet library that even my college couldn’t have afforded. You’re living in that world.
One of the downsides to this series, though? No awesome, talking puppet cat named Salem. Bummer.
It’s hard to miss the current trend of taking our old favorites and retelling them in a new, modern way (make it goth! for the kids!). Apparently this trend isn’t actually that new (Archie vs. Predator, anyone?), and is unsurprisingly increasing the foot traffic into our local comic shops.
“It does increase the traffic, ” said Beebe. “Especially when you have spookier times around Halloween and stuff, we have more people looking for particular horror titles. We’ve had tons of people looking for [the original graphic novel version of] Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, specifically.”
“The reason I really like this stuff is I’m a huge horror reader, ” said Smith. “If I remember correctly, it started with Afterlife with Archie, which wasn’t that long ago, [in 2013]. They’ve done weird Archie crossovers, but with the horror stuff, everyone’s like, ‘Oh, that’s so goofy.’ But if you’re someone who likes horror comics, it’s incredibly solid and well-constructed.”
It goes without saying that there was never, and never will be, anyone quite like the man himself, Mr. Stan Lee. Whether you’re a comics fan, a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), or absolutely none of the above, you know exactly who I’m talking about. Stan Lee all but singlehandedly shaped the Marvel Universe, and changed the way we see the comics industry itself.
Without him we would not have the MCU, let alone the Avengers sub-franchise. Robert Downey Jr. probably also wouldn’t have gotten himself and his career back on track without the opportunity to play himself, aka Iron Man. I’m sure he’s pretty happy about that, too.
Now, the question remains: With Stan Lee gone, is there going to be any kind of a major shift in the way we see comics? While they certainly respect Mr. Lee and all he’s done, Smith and Beebe don’t think we’ll really have to worry about any dramatic changes going forward.
“Stan Lee has done so much for comics in what he did in the creation, in the genesis of Marvel,” said Smith. “However, as far as modern writing and comics creation has gone, Stan Lee has been an avatar of the industry itself, rather than a creative presence. Marvel as it exists has been running independently of Stan Lee for some time.”
“He’s put out some stuff recently, but for the most part he had been more focused on doing the movie promotions and becoming a persona of himself, rather than a part of the creative process,” said Beebe.
“The world is less for having him in it, but I don’t believe that the comics industry will run any differently in the wake of his passing,” Smith added.
Stan’s death makes the planned trailer release for Avengers 4 in two weeks (TWO. WEEKS.) somewhat bittersweet, but no matter the level of fan you consider yourself, I’m sure in some way you have him to thank for your love of comics. Thanks for everything, Stan.