So, former Catwoman artist Darwyn Cooke (upcoming DC: The New Frontier) wrote a message on Millarworld asking me “where are the outrageous and fresh items that made ATR infamous? Is it a mandate from the site to do more lightweight rumourmongering?”
Fair questions, I guess. And they sort of give me an opportunity to mention the trials of your friendly neighborhood rumor columnist. I replied to Darwyn at the boards, but to save you guys some extra clicking, the answer to question #2 is no. There is no mandate requiring me to run lighter fare. SBC has pulled some minor Rage items in the past when I was on break, but those instances haven’t affected the column. And I don’t anticipate any censorship while I’m on ATR. If you compare the Silver Bullet to other comic sites you’ll discover that we are much more liberal. I can’t even count how many times I’ve said “fuck” in this column. Besides, I will fly to New Zealand and beat the living piss out of my boss with “Censor This!” engraved brass-knuckles if he tries anything.
To answer Darwyn’s first question, the juicy rumors don’t always come in. Companies and creators understandably don’t want that shit floating around. And many times when I get good rumors I’m asked not to run certain items. I honestly know way more information than I print. In fact the stuff I’m told would probably make fanboy balls spin off. It’s very difficult to keep the big news to myself, but you have to be diplomatic in this job. If someone says “Please, Mr. Markisan, don’t run it or they’ll kill me” and I do, chances are that person will end up face down and bloated in a river, or so pissed off that the next time something comes up he or she won’t speak to me. And you know, I’ve also made some friends doing this column and I believe in keeping my word.
Hm.. that kind of felt like a letters page answer. If anyone has additional questions about ATR, write me. Maybe I’ll answer something else if people come up with interesting inquiries. Oh, and buy Darwyn’s graphic novel, Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score. I think it’s out in softcover now. Great, great read.
That said, I scored a handful of new rumors this week for Mr. Cooke and everybody else looking for the rage-filled freshness. Let’s do this.
I’m told that Matrix creators Andy and Larry Wachowski, also known as the Wachowski brothers, will be scripting new comic books by Steve Skroce (Gambit) and Geoff Darrow (Hard Boiled). Skroce’s Doc Frankenstein and Darrow’s Shaolin Cowboy will both be published by Burlyman Entertainment. I remember seeing some art for Doc Frankenstein some time ago in Wizard. For those who didn’t, the image was basically Frank with guns.. which pretty much describes the Punisher come to think of it. I hear that the new Matrix Comics: Vol. I collection will have one full page dedicated to the forthcoming books, so you should be able to get more information on both comics there.
This Has A “Give Me the Red Pill” Factor of Nine Out of Ten
Change In Flight Plans
Sources tell me that the 21 Down and Monolith writing team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray may be penning a four issue story for the ongoing Hawkman series in the near future. No word on what the story will be or why the writers are coming on the book for an arc..
This Has A “Wingmen” Factor of Six Out of Ten
Justice, Like Lightning
If you still haven’t read Green Arrow #31 this item contains SPOILERS!!!
A couple weeks ago I ran a story that Black Lightning creator Tony Isabella is upset because DC and Judd Winick turned his character into a cold-blooded murderer. Surprisingly there hasn’t been any coverage of this story at the other major comic news sites, but Judd has issued a statement to 411 Mania. He says:
- I was very disappointed to learn that Tony Isabella was upset with the recent Black Lightning story line in
- . My hope is that as the story of Black Lightning continues, both in
- , his feelings will change. We’re not done with BL and this is only a starting point.
- It should also be mentioned that if there is any responsibility to bear in the decisions and direction of Black Lightning in either of these books, said responsibility rest directly on MY shoulders. The stories were mine, approved by DC. Any comments or criticism should be directed at me.
Mr. Isabella, however, is not very happy with Judd’s response. At Dwayne McDuffie’s Delphi Forum the offended writer says:
- Oh, I feel so much better knowing he’s not through messing up my creation.
- And more than a little disgusted that he’s so willing to take the heat for the DCU editors. He’ll learn soon enough that trick never works.
Isabella also released a lengthy new statement on Usenet in which he talks about his communications with Winick, the poor decisions DC has made regarding Black Lightning, the inconsistencies that continue to mount and the plans he had for the character when he was writing the second series. Here’s the complete text:
- I’m still trying to determine how best to address this stuff and am also dealing with the possibility of some national media attention re: DC’s overall treatment of African-American heroes. Judd should not have been at all surprised that I was upset about his stories. He knew this many many many months ago and we exchanged e-mails about it. He said he knew he was doing right by my creation, which is a bizarre claim considering what he’s done with my creation. I have been asked why I never objected to Mike Barr’s use of Black Lightning in Batman and the Outsiders. Well, two reasons. One: Mike and I talked about BL before he used him, so I knew the whys and the whats of his plans. Two: Mike respected the character and his creator. Jefferson Pierce is an only child. His parents were married. After his father died, his mother was his only relative. This is why Jeff builds surrogate families around him, such as he did with the Outsiders and such as he was doing in both of his two series…at least when I was writing them.
- That has all been established. Therefore, he could not have a niece named “Pierce.” Had Judd done me the simple courtesy of calling me, he could have named the niece “Stewart” and not gotten that wrong.
- Jefferson Pierce is what I call a “Northern Liberal Baptist.” He is a very religious man, solid in his faith. He would never kill in cold blood. Period.
- Could Jeff kill in self-defense? Which, as my pal Bob Ingersoll has drilled into me, also means killing to defend someone else’s life. I planned just such a story for what would have been the climax of the second year of the second series.
- After that event, Jefferson Pierce would have turned himself into the authorities and faced the consequences of his actions. Because you don’t get to say “I killed in self-defense” and walk away. Our system of justice has a compelling public interest in determining whether or not such extreme actions were justifiable.
- As for the matter of the alleged daughter…
- Though Judd claims no editorial responsibility for any of what’s happened, my information suggests otherwise. In fact, Judd told me that DC editors wanted the alleged daughter to be an illegitimate child that Jeff knew nothing about it. I have to thank Judd for not following that route, even while pointing out that the DC editors were not as uninvolved in these events as he claims.
- However, Jeff Pierce would never be an absentee father. Period. Even in divorce, he would be wherever his daughter would be. And he would not be Black Lightning. Jeff is a focused thinker. He saves neighborhoods, not the world. Save for his time with the Outsiders, that’s always been his MO. Given a daughter, he would focus on her.
- Again, had Judd bothered to talk out any of this stuff with me, I could have helped him tell his story without violating my creation. Jeff builds surrogate families around himself. I could see a “daughter” being part of one of those families.
- Over and over and over again, DC editors and writers do stupid things with Black Lightning/Jeff Pierce. And the reason I object to this, when I never objected to Mike Barr’s use of the character, was because, unlike Mike Barr, they are not smart enough to talk this stuff out with me and allow me to help them get it right. I understand that DC owns BL…though there is an entirely different issue concerning whether or not the character was truly created on a work-for-hire basis. But, even setting aside any creative concerns, these absurd directions diminish the value of a character in which I retain a financial interest. It’s in my interest and theirs for the character to be successful and, based on what’s been done with BL in the past, I have no confidence in DC’s ability to make either of us any money from my creation.
- But I’d be less than honest if I didn’t admit that the creative concerns are more important to be than the monetary ones. Black Lightning was created because there were virtually no African-American super-heroes at DC and, given how many African-American readers we had, that seemed manifestly unfair.
- I created Black Lightning because DC couldn’t. Their idea of a black super-hero was a white bigot who took part in experiments to help him blend into the jungle better and who turned into a black man in times of stress. I talked them out of publishing that book and created Black Lightning.
- Jefferson Pierce was always intended to be a role model, to be a man who did the right thing, even when it was the difficult thing to do. He was a teacher because, at least back in the 1970s, teachers were a part of every kid’s life. Everything DC has done with the character since I was fired from the second series has taken the character away from the mission that gives him meaning.
- Just as bad, DC has consistently blown story opportunities that could have arisen from even their dumbest ideas. Example: Jeff Pierce as Secretary of Education.
- Getting past the absurdity of Jeff even being on Luthor’s radar…the only way naming a fired teacher to that office makes sense is if Lex knew he was BL, a definite possibility, and figured it would piss off Superman and others…DC never addressed the question of why Jeff would take the job.
- Yeah, I know there was a line somewhere that Jeff figured someone should be keeping an eye on Lex. Do any of you constitutional scholars out there want to make the case that the Secretary of Education is a key check on presidential misuse of power? Didn’t think so. Consider instead the scenario of Jeff taking the job, knowing that he was making a deal with the devil, but figuring the good he could do in the position would be worth it.
- Consider the reactions of his (former) super-hero buddies. He would be a pariah to the super-hero community. Consider Jeff’s frustration as the nation’s children are left behind while Luthor pursues his own priorities.
- Consider his quest to succeed in his original objectives against all odds. These are stories. Real stories. Not comic-book claptrap.
- I have a personal stake in Black Lightning, morally and legally. But that’s not even the major issue here. The major issue is that DC has had three (and only three) black super-heroes headlining their own titles: Black Lightning, Green Lantern, and Steel. Of which only BL was an original and not a spin-off. BL has just been turned into a cold-blooded murderer. Green Lantern screwed up, caused an inhabited planet to be destroyed, was crippled, and Lord knows what else. At least John Stewart is handled with some respect in the
- cartoon. Steel was killed, became a pawn of Darkseid, and that’s where he fell off my radar. Someone told me he’s become a glorified tailor for other super-heroes, but, as I said, he’s been off my radar for a while.
- There’s a pattern here. I don’t think it’s a deliberate pattern, but it’s a pattern that needs to be changed. And soon. Hopefully, I’ll find a way to address that in the future.
- In the meantime, while I understand the natural tendency of the fans to want to support the publishers over the creators…the publishers knowingly foster a belief that they know better than the creators…I ask them to consider all the issues involved here.
- The portrayal of African-American super-heroes in comics. The ongoing destruction of Black Lightning. DC’s failure to treat creators in a fair and respectful manner.
- For those who have asked, yes, even now, I would happily return to chronicling the adventures and life of Black Lightning/Jefferson Pierce.
- I even have two different ways in which I can “fix” what’s been done to my creation.
- The first of them isn’t as elegant as I could hope for, but it would absolutely work with the current continuity.
- The other would be incredibly powerful and extremely difficult for me to write, but it would also work.
- I don’t recommend holding your breath waiting for either.
- One last word. I hope nothing like this ever happens to Judd Winick and one of his creations. If and when it does, he’ll understand what he’s done…and that will make it all the harder for him.
This Has A “Black Thought” Factor of Ten Out of Ten
I’ve heard whispers that Top Cow is having very serious money problems. Not sure if we’re talking CrossGen level issues, but something is up. We know Top Cow Mark Silvestri is drawing Grant Morrison’s final arc on New X-Men in exchange for the use of big name Marvel characters. This is an obvious tactic to drum up more interest in the company. And don’t forget the continuing feud between Top Cow and popular creator J. Michael Straczinski over the Rising Stars movie. Unfortunately all signs point to trouble at the farm. I wrote the Cow but haven’t received a response yet.
Update: Matt Hawkins, president and COO of Top Cow has provided me with this statement:
- Top Cow is not in any financial trouble. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard in the last five years that Top Cow and/or Image is going out of business. To be honest, I’m tired of it and I wish you and/or your “sources” would come up with something better to do with your time.
Okay, anybody up for some mini-golf!
This Has A “Got Milk?” Factor of Six Out of Ten
By the Numbers
Note: I misquoted JMS the first time around. He has politely scolded me. Below is the corrected edition.
Speaking of JMS, the Amazing Spider-Man scribe has written an analysis of comic book sales and the concept of “fan favorites” on Usenet (See www.jmsnews.com). He writes:
- Average sales:
- , usually around 95,000 to 100,000.
- , about 19,000.
- As far as vocalizations goes….
- Per google, searching for spider-man AND straczynski OR jms (since I’m known by both), there are 3,880 news group hits
- Per google, searching for runaways and Vaughan (since he’s known by one), thereare 161 news group hits.
- On web sites for spider-man/straczynski or jms, there are 11,600 hits.
- On web sites, for runaways/vaughan, 2,110 hits.
- (Both sites include comic stores and publisher info, so that skews both, but should be skewed proportionately.)
- In raw numbers, that’s 15,480 reader responses for
- and 2,271 for
- On a percentage basis, figure about 14% reader response for
- and about 20% for
- On a grammar basis, “fan favorite” usually means “a favorite with fans in general,” rather than a book being a favorite with fans of that given book, because they wouldn’t be reading either title if they weren’t fans of that book in the first place.
- Now, however, the ancillary question is, is either book a favorite of each fan that buys it? Is it the first book they prefer to buy each month over every other? We don’t have any data, but the three possibilities (unless one wishes to weight the discussion into a five pronged survey) are: it’s their favorite book, their semi-favorite book, or their least-favorite. Stastically, that’s a fairly valid breakdown.
- So mathematically speaking, about 33,000 fans of
- consider it their favorite book, and about 6,300 fans of
- consider it their favorite books (the rest of the categories break down similarly).
- So there are about 26,300 more people who would consider
- a “fan favorite” by that definition than
- So, in conclusion, what does this prove?
- Absolutely nothing. “Fan favorite” is really a pretty meaningless phrase, all things considered. It’s a marketing phrase. Every comic (
- included) has been called a “fan favorite” at one time or another.
- Point is…
- is a good book.
- , I like to think, is a good book. Books should be judged on the quality and endurance of their stories, not the PR flack attendent upon them. If more people who read a book like it than don’t, then job well done all around, whichever book it is. That’s really the best you can ever hope for.
This Has A “Lost Angel ” Factor of Three Out of Ten
Ah, what ATR is complete without a Marvel rumor? Sources indicate that Marvel Comics is very worried about the changes DC Prez Dan Didio is making. It seems the Marvelites just aren’t used to the aggressive competition. DC’s willingness to challenge the House of Ideas by offering exclusives and putting together top teams on their books has become the number one subject of recent Marvel meetings.
In an earlier ATR I mentioned that Joe Quesada and company want to expand Marvel’s comic line to compete with the number of books that DC puts out. Look for big announcements in the next couple months.
This Has An “Employ Countermeasures Now” Factor of Seven out of Ten
On the Millarworld boards Rob Liefeld (Youngblood: Bloodsport) has admitted that the continuity established in the defunct series Cable and Soldier X is being ignored on the new Cable/Deadpool book for which he is providing cover art. Frequent poster and Editor-In-Chief at Working Title Comics, Aaron Mehta, asked Liefeld why he was drawing Cable with a bionic arm, since it was removed in Cable #100. He responded, “I have no idea about this and am not paying any attention to it in the current work I’m doing. Maybe it’s all just a bad dream…”
When asked about the plotlines on Cable Liefeld wrote, “I simply had no idea about the plotline because I stopped following the book years ago and most importantly, I’ve been working very closely with the Marvel editorial staff and if this was a point of concern, I would think they would point it out to me and the writer and artist of Cable/Deadpool. I’ve seen pages from the book and he has his bionic arm.”
Hulk artist Mike Deodato has put up a new Spidey pic on the Spider-Man Comic Boards. When asked if it will appear in an upcoming issue of Spidey, Deodato says, “Marvel didn’t show interest in publishing it.”
Choice of a New Generation
A reliable source tells me that Mark Alessi offered CrossGen to Spawn creator Todd McFarlane for a very cheap price. But Toddy passed saying comic books don’t really interest him right now.
McFarlane’s rejection of the offer falls in line with another rumor I’m hearing. Apparently Todd’s movie pitches have been turned down left and right as of late. Hollywood isn’t interested in his toyline and keeps asking him what happened to his comics.
Here now is a possible re-enactment of Todd’s last Hollywood meeting:
McFarlane walks into a meeting room with a Red Ryder wagon. His major league baseball collection is in tow.
- Hey guys! Good to see ya! Before we get started, anyone want to buy a Mark McGuire homerun ball? I’m slashing prices!
Hollywood Movie Guys:
- Uh, if you don’t mind, we’d like to just talk about your movie ideas, Mr. McFarlane.
- Okay. Fair enough. Movies now. Balls later.
Hollywood Movie Guy 1:
- Okay guys, picture this.. there’s this dude with a burned up face and he’s got this, this cool metal claw glove and he kills people with it! We did this toy in Movie Maniacs Series One and ..
Hollywood Movie Guy 2:
- Wait a second! You’re talking about Freddy, right? He’s already a film character, Todd.
- Whoops! I forgot that one isn’t mine. Well, what about a character called Miracleman! He’s like this great take on the superhero genre, all epic and heady. I put out this kickass vinyl statue of him and..
Hollywood Movie Guy 1:
- I thought you got sued over that character?
- A minor technicality! I put out the toy! What more do you need?
Hollywood Movie Guy 1:
- What about your comics, Todd? What about Spawn? Didn’t you write and draw something for that Image 10th anniversary hardcover three years ago? Maybe you can show us that story?
- Um.. you guys like Hockey?
This Has A “Medieval Spawn Would Actually Make Sense” Factor of Five Out of Ten
It’s 6:00 AM. Before I pass out I just wanted to mention I did an interview with Thor writer Dan Jurgens. You can find it at http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/features/106795499335928.htm. Everybody have a good week.
PS If anyone has any rumors, stories or news to share email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or IM me via AOL Instant Messenger. My screen name is Automatic San. Thanks to everyone who has been sending stuff in. It’s greatly appreciated.