Quesada Redesigning Daredevil? — and Other News

Quesada’s Daredevil Redesign

Joe Quesada’s return to Daredevil is producing a lot of press. The Marvel Editor-in-Chief has apparently been planning to return to drawing for some time, but wanted to wait until the project was ready. He was originally going to work with a writer on another project, but that has been put off until 2005 while Quesada will write — Marvel style, with dialogue after art — the project. Entitled Daredevil: Father, the five-issue mini-series — debuting in April — has Daredevil chasing a serial killer in the summer heat. Both Kevin Smith and Brian Bendis have, according to Quesada, supported the project.

What is not getting as much press is that Quesada seems to have redesigned the character’s costume. The only place this has been mentioned is in the solicitation for April’s Wizard #151, which notes that “Joe Quesada premieres his newly redesigned Daredevil on the alternate cover to this issue!” A full-page shot of this alternate cover is provided just to the right of the solicitation, and it looks like the main change is that the character’s cowl leaves his mouth exposed and is tied behind the head, leaving the excess material flowing dramatically behind the figure as if ribbons.

If you look carefully at the rest of Quesada’s artwork for the project — the artwork circulated widely by Marvel — Daredevil’s head is conveniently in silhouette. Quesada has publicly stated that his artwork has changed back to his earlier influences, such as Alex Toth, known for his chiaroscuro use of negative space (i.e. large areas of solid color, especially black). But consider the secrecy Quesada has successfully imposed over projects like Origin and 1602 — not to mention the fact that Daredevil: Father‘s existence was not known until just before its solicitation. Recall also the secrecy surrounding Karen Page’s death during Quesada’s original run on Daredevil, scripted by Kevin Smith. Is the intent to shock everyone with a new costume when Daredevil: Father arrives, an intent Wizard upset and no one has noticed?

Perhaps not, but Marvel’s secrecy leads to exactly this kind of conspiracy theory. And this kind of fun, which is exactly the point.

Whatever mixed views one might have over this change to a costume characterized by its streamlined form, it is noteworthy how useful these Wizard solicitations can be, since they often include — or suggest — information that has not yet been released but will have been by the time the issue sees print. I await the flurry in the comics press once people realize that Quesada has apparently redesigned Daredevil’s costume as well as returning to the character.

Note well that this change of costume has not been confirmed and could only be for the duration of the mini-series, which is in continuity but not supposed to change the character’s ongoing storylines. Would another writer have been given the privilege? Hey, it’s good to be the Editor-in-Chief.

The Outsiders Controversy

DC has issued an apology in response to a parent’s protest of a copy of Outsiders #8 purchased at Silver Bullet Comics. The issue featured a scene in which a character is offered a “tribute of the flesh.” Just so this isn’t misunderstood, we get this word balloon: “And, Timothy, just so there’s no confusion, a ‘tribute of the flesh‘ means that you get to have sex with all these women until you don’t know whether to @#$% or go blind.” This word balloon appears over shot of various nude women on a bed, with pillows and hands and shadows and smoking hiding their genitalia and nipples.

Outsiders is — and was always conceived as — a little more “edgy” book, not the same as its sister title, Teen Titans, and not carrying the Comics Code’s infamous seal of approval. DC’s Dan Didio has stated that the issue was actually toned down from its original version. Let’s hope Rich Johnston gets unedited pages: if anyone wants to send them here, we love this stuff.

This has spurred, on icv2.com, a good deal of debate advocating a new ratings system. This would be a good time to remind people of Frank Miller’s able essays on the issue of ratings, as well as the protest from creators in the mid-to-late 1980s when DC was considering such a system. Books don’t need ratings (though they arguably have a smarter public and do have children’s sections). As the MPAA has demonstrated, while ratings are not outright censorship, censorship inevitably results. In motion pictures, filmmakers crave a lower rating, especially when in danger of receiving the dreaded NC-17 rating, and alter their movies accordingly. The standards of what constitutes each rating change over time and are inherently subjective, thus the familiar mantra of Hollywood’s objection to sex while it gives lower ratings to great levels of violence — and Marvel’s bizarrely inaccurate system. This has produced the odd phenomenon of DVDs, often containing unrated versions or director’s cuts or cut scenes, being so superior to seeing the version in the movie theatre. A lot of good people must be scathing over this retread of the ratings debate.

Checker to Collect Gold Key Star Trek

Checker Book Publishing Group will begin collecting in trade paperback the earliest Star Trek comic book series — that published by Western Publishing’s Gold Key imprint. Checker has secured the permission of Paramount Pictures Corporation, which owns the rights not only to the Star Trek franchise but to all of the licensed comics produced over the years.

Gold Key began their Star Trek series in 1967, the same year the original TV show was launched, and starred the classic crew of Kirk and Spock during their original five-year mission. The series, characterized by its 1960s and 1970s style, lasted 60 issues and has not been seen since. The first trade paperback will collect issues #1-8.

Checker has previously has collected Alan Moore’s incredibly important Supreme work as well as Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, Clive Barker’s Tapping the Vein, and Winsor McKay: Early Works. Checker may not have an enormous catalog, but its books are already indispensable for the serious comics reader. And — what’s more — they seem to be nice guys, based on my own communication with them.

Super Hero Happy Hour

Super Hero Happy Hour, published by GeekPunk, created by Dan Taylor, and getting a good deal of high-profile fans (including Brian Bendis, Mark Waid, and Gail Simone), is changing its name. This is because — ridiculous but true — DC and Marvel officially own the term “super-hero” and apparently sent a letter from a lawyer to GeekPunk. Forget that “super-hero” is bandied about in reference to The Matrix and in popular culture as a generic term for a genre.

The humorous series features super-heroes frequenting their local bar — The Hideout Bar & Grill — during their off-hours. A trade paperback collection was published on 10 December 2003. The first retitled issue will be #5. A special is planned for the summer. GeekPunk states that a spin-off is being contemplated.

Ironically, the press attention over the name change and the sympathy this small publisher is likely to receive may well elevate sales of Hero Happy Hour.

News on The Escapist

Wondering if you missed Michael Chabon Presents… The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist #1? Well, the debut of the 80-page quarterly anthology from Dark Horse has been delayed and is now scheduled for 25 February release. The second issue is planned to follow soonafter, with the trade collecting the first two issues planned for April. The third and fourth issues are slated for July and October, respectively.

The series is of particular import because it features the comics characters created by the titular characters in Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which told of two comics creators during the Golden Age. The first issue features a story written by Chabon himself, as well as a story both written and illustrated by Howard Chaykin — his first in about seven years, plus art by Kyle Baker. Following issues are equally star-studded.

Another Marvel Cancellation

The Marvel one-shot ACTOR Presents: Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk #1, which was to feature two short stories, has been cancelled. The one-shot was to benefit ACTOR (A Commitment to Our Roots), the non-profit organization that looks out for older comics creators in financial need. Marvel has honored its commitment and given ACTOR the money it was set to receive from the project, and no one seems offended.

Joe Quesada, incidentally, is an ACTOR board member.

Although we can all be glad that ACTOR got paid, one can only wonder what will happen with the material and how much was completed. Difficulties over timing and production have been blamed for the cancellation. The cancelled book now joins the list of Marvel books cancelled recently, including Peter Bagge’s The Incorrigible Hulk one-shot.

Matt Wagner Covers DC in May

In May, Matt Wagner will provide painted covers for Adventures of Superman #628, Batman #627, and Wonder Woman #204. Each cover features the titular protagonist in an iconic stance with backgrounds representing Gotham, Metropolis, and Paradise Island. Superman will face the “camera,” while Batman and Wonder Woman incline to the side, forming an almost religious triptych when considered together.

The covers coincide with the release of the hardcover collection of Wagner’s successful three-issue prestige format mini-series Trinity, which starred Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman and focused on their iconic nature.

Marvel and Sony Can’t All Just Get Along

Marvel, which has a lawsuit pending with Sony over revenue from Spider-Man, has sued Sony over revenue from the Men in Black franchise. Marvel claims Sony owes about $6 million to Marvel over the Men in Black films, which together grossed $768 million. Sony’s accounting claims that the films actually lost money.

Hollywood has been infamous for its accounting practices prior to the Enron and Worldcom scandals. A lawsuit over the successful Eddie Murphy comedy Coming to America — in which the plaintiff claimed his script was plagiarized — saw Hollywood accountants claiming that film too had lost money. In that case, the budget seemed to include overhead costs that overlapped those of other films.

The Men in Black concept was created by Malibu Comics, which signed a deal with Columbia (owned by Sony) that reportedly provided for Malibu to receive 35% of net merchandising revenue and 50% of net revenue from the sale of merchandising and interactive rights. Malibu was purchased outright by Marvel in 1995.

Recruiting in the … Comics … Blotter …

If you have overlooked comics news stories or want to leak information, no matter who you are, send me an e-mail.

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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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