Marvel’s April, American Flagg!, and More Cancellations

Marvel’s New SolicitationsApril looks like Marvel’s month (Jim Lee’s debut on Superman notwithstanding). Major projects or launches include the following:

  • The debut of Mark Millar’s Spider-Man, an ongoing through Marvel Knights. Millar’s plans for the first year of the title, with Terry and Rachel Dodson on art (the same creative team as the mini-series Trouble), call for a roster of Spider-Man’s villains in a Hush-style loose narrative.
  • The debut of Daredevil: Father, a five-issue mini-series written and illustrated by Joe Quesada. Already getting a lot of buzz online, especially because of Quesada’s involvement in the early years of the relaunched Daredevil title, most prominently with Kevin Smith.
  • If it arrives on time, Ultimates Volume 2 should also debut in April.
  • X-Statix is moving to Marvel Knights, debuting there with a story involving the Avengers.

The X-Men franchise also gets shaken up in the wake of Grant Morrison’s departure, with Chuck Austen at least initially on both Uncanny and New X-Men. It looks like X-Treme is coming to an end as well, rumored to be replaced with a new adjective-lacking X-Men title.

A Collected American Flagg!

In the mid-1980s, Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg! — published by First Comics — was a major comic to watch, complete with a crazy corporate future and frenetic panel layouts. It inspired plenty of major creators whose own masterpieces are still widely available and cherished. Despite its importance in comics history, a collection of American Flagg!, however, has not been forthcoming.

Dynamic Forces recently announced its plans for a collection of the title — or at least its earliest, most radical issues. Although the exact contents are not yet known, Dynamic Forces hopes for a 4 July 2004 release. Expect production values to be high and the print run to be low, as many do not know the importance of the edition — a case not dissimilar from Checker’s collections of Alan Moore’s historically vital Supreme.

Moreon Marvel’s Cancellations

Rich Johnston reported in Lying in the Gutters on Monday the 19th that the recent cancellation of Startling Stories: The Incorrigible Hulk is tied up with Marvel’s dominance by Avi Arad, head of Marvel’s West Coast division and Marvel’s successful liaison with Hollywood. Arad’s increasing dominance has been cited as the reason for Bill Jemas’s ousting as Publisher. The Garth Ennis-scripted Fury mini-series reportedly caused George Clooney to pull out of a proposed Nick Fury movie, leading Arad to wield a stronger hand over publishing.

For all of Jemas’s often-cited faults, he — and Joe Quesada — supported experimental and sometimes risky projects. Perhaps with Marvel’s improved financial situation, such experimentation makes little sense. But that increased conservativism — and that improved financial situation — has much to do with Marvel’s placement of its franchises in Hollywood.

It is now being reported that Peter Bagge’s The Incorrigible Hulk was scrapped over content, not sales or completion. This assertion has a few sources, prominently Fantagraphics’ Eric Reynolds. Celebrated Marvel editor Axel Alonso, who was pulled from Vertigo for his nurturing of edgy works, reportedly had to fight for The Incorrigible Hulk — which had the Hulk popping Viagra — almost from the very start. And Bagge has reported that the book’s finished and that he’s been paid in full.

We can perhaps expect the MAX line to publish characters who can’t be turned into movies. Supreme Power might be a good example: it’s an edgy, well-done book. But with many of Marvel’s creatively and critically hot books — such as New X-Men — now facing creative changes, Marvel’s recent status as a creatively relevant publisher now seems increasingly in doubt.

DC Cancellation

It’s only one book, but the Gen13: October Surprises trade paperback has been cancelled. The book was to be the second collecting Chris Claremont’s recent, now-cancelled series. It would have collected #7-11.

This recalls artistically successful runs being terminated for supposedly high-profile relaunches that ultimately fail. Remember Mark Waid being pulled off Captain America in order to relaunch the title (the first time), only to later reinstate him — an episode that now recalls his being pulled off and then reinstated on Fantastic Four last year. Gen13 was a great hit when it was launched, and it brought J. Scott Campbell to prominence. Sales fell until Adam Warren memorably took over the title: the book wasn’t brilliant, but it was readable. He was removed in favor of the Chris Claremont relaunch.

Do tell DC / Wildstorm you told them so.

One can only hope for another relaunched Gen13 series — this time (again) written by Adam Warren.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

In 1996, while still an undergraduate, Dr. Julian Darius founded what would become Sequart Organization. After graduating magna cum laude from Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisconsin), he obtained his M.A. in English, authoring a thesis on John Milton and utopianism. In 2002, he moved to Waikiki, teaching college while obtaining an M.A. in French (high honors) and a Ph.D. in English. In 2011, he founded Martian Lit, which publishes creative work, including his comic book Martian Comics. He currently lives in Illinois.

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