The biggest news to report is, of course, this column. Why’s it here? Well, Sequart.com has become a major comics site. And, really, it needs some news. I fucking hate news. I’m focused — and this site is focused — on housing information for all time, for readers both today and a century (the gods willing) from today. But, again, we’re a major comics site now. And we really need this column.
And it should be a column. That’s the way we’ll do it. Not bits and pieces of news as separate stories. A column pulling it all together, your ultimate source for comics news. The place you won’t miss anything if you read. A column.
I don’t want to be the guy who has to do it — I’d prefer to be writing (more) novels and (unsold) comic book scripts, or at least writing columns on comics, or at least perfecting the 200 or so pages of my writing on this site alone. But I don’t know who else is going to do the job of writing this column. And I have to do most of the work of reading comics news anyway. So, enough bitching. We’ll see how it goes.
Mark Millar is set to write a new Spider-Man book, tentatively titled just Spider-Man, presently set to debut in March 2004. With artist Terry Dodson, the pair would follow the format of “Hush” — 12 issues, a fast pace, and a tour of the character’s major villains. Millar wants this to be a tour de force and will not commit to stay on longer than 12 issues.
What’s more, the series will be mature — or, at least, at a Marvel Knights level of maturity, as it’s thought to debut under the Marvel Knights banner. Editor Axel Alonso is promising that we’re going to see Spider-Man with a scarred back like Batman’s. Seriously good, logical stuff.
This is a pretty damn nice substitute for a relaunched Spider-Man illustrated by Dodson and written by … Kevin Smith. That was originally the plan — to get Smith on an ongoing Spider-Man title — but Smith’s still not finished his Bullseye mini-series nor his Black Cat mini-series … thus the scrapping of his ongoing and — if we read between the lines — Mark Millar’s big chance. Calling Millar a substitute, however, should feel a bit like sacrilege.
While the team to take over Batman after Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso is reportedly not yet decided, it has been decided that both Batman: Gotham Knights and Detective Comics will get new creative teams. Wizard is reporting that A.J. Lieberman and Al Barrionuevo will take the reins on Gotham Knights with #50 in February 2004, while Andrew Gabrych and Pete Woods will take over Detective with #790.
Ron Marz Returns to Green Lantern
In case you haven’t already heard, Ron Marz is scheduled to script a six-issue storyline on Green Lantern beginning with #175 (and ending in #182). Marz, having previously written Silver Surfer and Thor for Marvel, stepped in to write the “Emerald Twilight” storyline that ousted Hal Jordan as the paramount Green Lantern — killing off the entire Green Lantern Corps in the process. Admittedly a butchery, however fun and moving, Marz began telling the adventures of the then-new replacement for Jordan, none other than Kyle Rayner, beginning with #51. Marz took Kyle Rayner from a usurper and a nobody to the accepted Green Lantern, and finally left the title with #125. In the intervening years, he began working exclusively at Crossgen. No longer exclusive due to Crossgen’s restructuring, he was called in by Green Lantern editor Peter Tomasi to script the story, billed as a major turning point for Kyle Rayner.
The real story may not be so much Ron Marz’s return as what exactly will constitute that big story. Apparently, it’s editorially influenced if not mandated. Recently, editor Peter Tomasi has hinted that, in a year’s time, Hal Jordan will be a Green Lantern again. Hal could even be the star of one of his own books, as apparently 2004 will see two new Green Lantern titles. Could the man who wrote Hal out of the green costume be returning to write him back in?
Apparently, Grant Morrison’s last New X-Men story — “Here Comes Tomorrow,” running in #151-154 and illustrated by Marc Silvestri — is not going to affect regular Marvel continuity. Set in the future, it should give Grant Morrison his chance to let loose with the characters, writing the X-Men without the normal corporate constraints. Forget Silvestri (Phil Jimenez is a better artist): the real story about “Here Comes Tomorrow” is Morrison turned loose.
The Chuck Austen Avengers Era
With Geoff Johns’s departure — following DC signing him to an exclusive contract — the new writer of Marvel’s The Avengers is to be none other than fill-in wizard / fix-it man Chuck Austen. The guy’s written some decent scripts as well as some stinkers — though I’d still maintain he’s a better artist than a writer.
Anyway, Marvel’s going to promotionally price his first issue — #77 — at 50 cents. I guess that means the days of 25-cent promotional issues are out at Marvel along with Bill Jemas. Will the 50-centers continue or was this one changed from a 25-center in the wake of Jemas’s departure? Curious.
What’s Up with Aquaman
The title is getting a new direction with February 2004′s #15, apparently scripted by Will Pfeiffer. It begins with half of San Diego collapsing into the Pacific. The cause will not be known for some time and will remain a dramatic mystery. Hopefully, the Riddler won’t be the secret culprit…
Aquaman’s also getting his old costume back. You know, the orange and green one? He hasn’t been seen in it in over a decade, outside of flashbacks and stories set in the past.
Not all of this is new, but it’s worth noting in a new column…
With persistent reports that Crossgen is behind in several of its payments, Crossgen has announced the termination of 25 employees. In addition, Butch Guice resigned as Assistant Art Director. (He was also doing art for Ruse.) While Ron Marz and Chuck Dixon will be staying, others like George Perez are reportedly out.
Crossgen announced earlier in October that it was canceling nine books, the majority of those comprising its Crossgen Universe output. These include all four of Crossgen’s original launches: Meridian, Mystic, Scion, and Sigil. November will see the conclusion of The First with #37 — which had been previously announced — as well as Ruse with #26 and baby title Solus with #8. Ruse #27 had already been solicited, as had Solus through #10! December will see Mystic and Sigil both end with #43, while Crux ends with #33. January will see Meridian and Scion both end with #44, while The Path ends with #23.
February will then see The War debut, written by Ron Marz with Bart Sears art. A four-issue monthly mini-series featuring every Crossgen character, The War promises to wrap up story threads from Crossgen’s earliest issues as it pits the Sigil-bearers against the Negation universe. Some characters will die, while others will change.
Sojourn, Brath, Negation, Route 666, and Way of the Rat will apparently survive — or at least are not yet announced as cancelled. The widespread feeling is that Crossgen is moving away from the unifying theme of its sigil. Also surviving will apparently be Crossgen’s non-CG Universe titles, including its Code 6 imprint.
Neal Adams Returns … Sort of …
The great Neal Adams, long absent from comics, is returning … well, at least that’s how it’s being spun. Adams is apparently finishing a 72-page hardcover entitled Neal Adams: Monsters. Ah, no egotism there. But, in fact, the hardcover is a collection of a feature originally serialized in Echoes of Future Past, published by Adams’ Continuity Studios. Adams’ new contribution is only four or five pages, according to J. David Spurlock of Vanguard Productions, which will publish the $24.95 volume. Padding it out will be extras dealing with Adams’s history with monsters, including some of his vintage paintings of monsters.
If that’s not enough for you, there’s also a $39.95 slipcased version with an added 16-page portfolio signed by Neal Adams himself. The slipcase reportedly is blood-red foil-embossed. Some of the images within were produced for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the Francis Ford Coppola movie that Mike Mignola and Jim Steranko also worked on.
We all want Neal Adams to come back to comics. Many of us are even willing to buy a hardcover of obscure reprint material, even if the story’s a bit short. The reprinted serial deals with a pulpy, Universal movie-esque meeting of the Frankenstein monster, the Wolfman, and Dracula — and sounds like a lot of fun, as well as a visual feast. Still, it’d be nice if the 16 pages of material in the $40 slipcased version just fucking came with the $25 hardcover, which would bring that hardcover up to 88 pages or so. And it’d be nice if this wasn’t being billed as Neal Adams’s return because he’s adding four or five pages.
That said, I’ll still be picking up Neal Adams: Monsters in late December (if it’s on time).
Thunder Agents Dead Again
Remember the solicitations for a new Thunder Agents comic from DC, timed to coincide with the new line of Thunder Agents Archives? Well, it’s not happening. And Rich Johnston at comicbookresources.com is reporting why…
Reportedly, the problem is John Carbonaro, who owns the rights to the series Wally Wood produced during the Silver Age. Specifically, the problem is his disagreement with DC, which wanted slightly edgier characters and stories. For example, the character NoMan who had disposable robot bodies in the original was to have disposable clone bodies. Carbonaro has apparently pulled the license from DC’s hands.
Bits of News
Ron Garney, having signed an exclusive with DC, is slated to begin a six-part storyline in JLA beginning with #101.
Alan Davis, having signed an exclusive with Marvel (sense a pattern here?), is reportedly slated to begin a run on an X-book after completing his present DC work, a sequel to JLA: The Nail entitled JLA: Another Nail.
January 2004 should be a big month for Transformers. Transformers Generation One begins its new ongoing series (following December 2003′s #0 issue) and Transformers: Armada gets retitled Transformers: Energon beginning with #19. Not to mention the sixth and final issue of Transformers / G.I. Joe and the continuation of the second War Within series. And, of course, Titan Publishing continues its trade paperback collections of the classic — or at least fun — work at both Marvel U.S. and U.K.
Bryan Talbot’s next major project, already begun, is Alice in Sunderland. It’s supposed to start appearing in Words and Pictures, a new monthly comics magazine published by Coppervale. Uh… let’s hope it gets some attention and reasonable distribution, shall we?
The Image 10th anniversary hardcover is still not out … because Todd McFarlane has yet to complete his Spawn segment. If it’s done tomorrow, it might be in time for the 13th anniversary.
Dark Horse is re-releasing the Hellboy trade paperbacks with a new and unified design in February 2004. They look to have a red title bar at their top above the cover art area. At the same time, Dark Horse is offering retailers an offer on a Hellboy display to hold the trades. I can imagine the Hellboy fans wetting themselves already.
While we’re talking Hellboy, it’s worth noting that Mike Mignola’s only Hellboy story of 2003 recently appeared in the anthology entitled Dark Horse Book of Hauntings. And Sequart.com’s own Matt Martin recently reviewed it favorably.
Marvel is reportedly launching a revamped Alpha Flight series in February 2004.
We’ll see. If it doesn’t have a great hook, it’ll probably tank. This seems to be more ’80s nostalgia gone awry.
I mean, does anyone remember Alpha Flight as fondly as they do the Giffen Justice League?
The Claws are Out
The “Claws” storyline beginning in Ultimate Spider-Man #50 and set to conclude in #53 is set to feature not only the debut of Ultimate Black Cat — which is fine, given that she’s a Spider-Man character — but also an appearance by … Ultimate Elektra. You know, that biker bitch from Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra who spouts feminist platitudes — and who was only created as such and not along the lines of Frank Miller’s work on the character in order to make Ultimate Elektra more like the Elektra of the early 2003 Daredevil movie?
Mark Bagley gets a lot of praise for his art. It’s not pretty, but it flows. But it’s damned cartoony. His Elektra looks like it belongs in an Archie comic … one with sais. Good God, has it come to this?
So Long, Farewell
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