Last week my brother showed me a feature in June’s Maxim called The 25 Lamest Superheroes Ever. Guess who made the list — Superman, Flash, Thor, Wonder Woman — you know, the same characters who became icons in American pop culture more than, oh, 50 years ago.
Secret identity: Barry Allen
Origin: Simultaneously struck by lightning and doused with chemicals (What sign was this asshole born under?), Barry Allen became the fastest man alive, the Flash!
Power: He can run really fast. Also, no wait, that’s it.
Why so lame: When a curb can defeat you, you’re lame.
That last line is funny, I admit. But shit, I’ve never even read a Barry Allen Flash comic and I know he does more than just run around. That dude could control his molecules and vibrate through objects. He even traveled to other dimensions by tapping into his speed force thing.
So for God’s sake, Maxim, reschedule the Alpha Vulva mixer, have the pledges peel the varsity tape off their Abercrombie club asses and visit the local library. If you’re gonna cut down the number of Greeko Suave sections to haze some classic superheroes, at least do it right.
Speaking of doing it right, that’s exactly what our pals at Dynamic Forces have done for today’s Daily Special – the DC Magnificent Seven. If you hop on over to their website by clicking one of these here banners and do it right away, you’ll be of one a lucky fifteen customers snaffle up: More Secret Origins 80 Page Giant Replica Edition signed by Gil Kane and Shelly Moldoff, The Powerpuff Girls signed by creator Craig McCracken, Superboy #100 signed by Jimmy Palmiotti, Green Lantern Circle of Fire #1 and #2 Collection signed by Norm Breyfogle and Robert Teranishi, The Quotable Sandman Hardcover signed by Jill Thompson, Relative Heroes #1 signed by Devin Grayson and Aaron Sowd, and Wonder Woman: The Hikketeia Hardcover signed by J.G. Jones for just $77.77 – saving a huge $312.16.
In the Blood
Early last week I heard a rumor that Rob Liefeld was wiping off eight years of dust on the incomplete Youngblood: Genesis mini-series. The project was originally begun in 1994 by writer Kurt Busiek (Astro City), but he left the book after completing the plot in 1995. As a result, Genesis has remained dormant for a hell of a long time.
I was also informed that SBC’s very own Ambidexterous columnist, Brandon Thomas, scored his first comic book gig as the scripter for this supposedly resurrected Youngblood series.
Turns out the rumors are true.
Thomas managed to beat out some established creators with a combination of hard work, a recommendation from Mark Millar (Ultimates, Trouble) and Liefeld’s willingness to take a chance on the unproven writer.
When I contacted Liefeld he had nothing but good things to say about Brandon’s scriptwriting skillz and his ability to work under tight deadlines. He also talked about what’s in store for the series. And (gasp) he announces a release date:
- When it was time to select a writer that would finish what Kurt started on
Youngblood Year One
- , now
- , I wanted Brandon to take the first crack.
There were a few other professionals who I had spoken with and had worked with in the past who were eager to take the assignment, but I really felt that Brandon deserved a chance to shine.
After I received Brandon’s script everything I believed was affirmed for me. It’s fresh, brilliant and very insightful to the characters. Kurt wrote a wonderful framework for the series, a very detailed plot, but scripting absolutely makes or breaks a comic. Brandon found the voices of each character and it really sings. To drop 30 pages of a comic in someone’s lap and ask if they can turn it around in less than 2 weeks is a real trial by fire. Some guys would seriously wilt and choke at the challenge. Not Brandon, he stepped up to the plate and served notice that he can play the game with the best. Sadly, given his talent and drive, he’ll be flooded with tons of mainstream work very soon and he probably won’t have time for little guys like me.
The star of the series is Special Director Graves who formed the Youngblood program and who’s point of view the story is told from. Brandon nailed him and pushed the story to new heights in the process.
The best compliment I can give the book is that after I read it, I said to myself, I’ve just read the first draft Youngblood: The Movie. Seriously, it’s fresh and the readers will feel the same way. There’s so much backstory that has been waiting to tell since 1995, much of it was waaaay ahead of its time. People will draw comparisons to Ultimates and Authority no doubt. Just remember, this has been in the can for eight years.
Youngblood Genesis also serves as a great companion piece to Youngblood Bloodsport as one tells the untold beginning of the Youngblood program while Bloodsport tells the terrible demise of it. Both will be available July 18, part of Arcade’s initial line of comic books. Issue #2 is being scripted as I write this and will further fan the Youngblood flames.
After talking to Liefeld, I decided to contact Millar to find out if he had anything to say about Brandon’s new bag. I asked him, point blank, what strings he pulled to get Brandon the job. He says that he didn’t really influence Rob’s decision:
- Brandon pulled this off by being one of the most interesting and energetic new writers lurking around the net. I only mentioned his name to Rob and he did all the hard work himself. He’s got a nice, kinetic sense of storytelling and a unique voice so, like Barb [Lien] and Mark [Peyton], I think he’s one of those people tipped for the top a little down the line.
My dealings with Rob himself have been nothing short of excellent. I’ve heard all the same stories as everyone else, but I can only judge him on personal experience and he’s been a perfect gent. Sure, he’s been slow, but he hangs out with JLo, for fuck’s sake. Would you rush back home and draw one of my scripts when you could pretend you’re talking business and just stare at her dirty-pillows all afternoon? Get fucking real!
For those of you who are capable of breaking away from the power of the pillow, I whipped up an interview with Mr. Thomas thanks to the help of SBC’s head bitch Jason Brice. But I’m not printing it here. If I put anything else up about Brandon, I might as well be writing Ambidextrous. So if you want to read more about B’s breakthrough, please make sure to check out the kickass interview Brandon Thomas: Fresh Blood.
This Has A “Sunday, Bloody, Sunday” Factor Of Ten Out Of Ten
If you read the column last week you know I was on vacation in the empire state of New York. Spoofboy Preston Falco filled in for me. What you don’t know is that he caused me some trouble.
A couple days after Falco‘s Rage went up I got an email from Amazing Spider-Man writer J. Michael Straczynski. He expressed some concern about a couple pieces Preston ran: 1) the report that Robert Kirkman was a possible candidate to replace him on Spidey and 2) the negative outlook written about his as yet unreleased Dr. Strange mini-series.
But the worst part is that JMS emailed me because he thought I wrote the column. Here’s what he had to say:
- Two things, since I’ve started getting emails based on your column….
1) I’m not departing Spider-Man; my contract goes through next year, and JRJR and JQ are extremely happy with the direction on the book, so that
information is totally not correct.
2) I find it interesting that you can predict failure on Strange without even the faintest idea what we’re going to do with it. An open mind, the reporter’s best friend, says to at least find out what it is before making a judgment, so that one can make an informed judgment on what *is* now what’s gone before. Because I think we’ve found a story and an approach to re-imagining the character that is going to prove *extremely* popular with readers.
After reading this I explained to JMS that I wasn’t the man he was looking for. In jest I told him he owed me some info. on Strange or some quality beer for scolding me. It’s been a few days. I have no information on the good Doctor and I need a beer more than Millar needs dirty pillows.
This Has A “Not Guilty/Need Guinness” Factor Of Seven Out Of Ten
As most of you know, earlier this week it was announced that Mark Waid was fired by Marvel and will no longer write Fantastic Four. His last issue will be #508. Apparently Marvel President Bill Jemas asked Mark to completely change the direction of the book. According to an interview with Waid at Newsarama, Jemas envisioned “a wacky suburban dramedy where Reed’s a nutty professor who creates amazing but impractical inventions, Sue’s the office-temp breadwinner, [and] the cranky neighbor is their new ‘arch-enemy’.”
After talking over the new direction with Editor Tom Brevoort, Waid decided he wasn’t able to write the book as Jemas requested. According to Waid, word came down that Jemas’ take would be used elsewhere and that he should continue writing Fantastic Four the way he had been. Then, much to his surprise, Waid was given the shaft.
Since the announcement Waid has posted a message on Newsarama claiming that Bill is actually taking over the writing chores on FF.
- I hope I made it clear that while I’m sad to be fired, I understand that’s just the way it goes. I’m told I’m being replaced by Bill himself. It’s a tough assignment — all the luck, Bill!
In order to calm the online community’s uproar over Waid’s dismissal, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada issued an official letter which denies Bill’s involvement with the regular FF series:
- As for Bill Jemas writing the monthly
- title, and the “wacky suburban dramedy” description, with all due respect to Mark, neither is accurate. A new
- writer will be announced shortly, but it won’t be written by Bill and won’t be as described.
A day later that new writer turned out to be playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, according to Comicon.com. He‘s written such theatre yarns like “Archie’s Weird Fantasy” featuring Archie as a gay man. Other works include “Muckle Man”, “Bigfoot Loves Swamp Thing”, and “Son of Bigfoot”.
Now, all this is news you may have already read. Here’s where the new comes in. I emailed Mark Waid and he replied to me after Joe’s official statement was released. Despite the letter, Waid still maintains that Jemas is writing FF:
- The first script’s already been written — by Bill (credited or uncredited) and some writer I’ve never heard of.
So now we know the name of the new guy, but we don’t know how much Bill has contributed. Waid says Bill is definitely onboard. Marvel says he isn’t. Given the fact that Jemas was compelled to help along the already excellent comic writer Andi Watson on Namor, I think it’s probably a safe bet that Bill is handholding the guy who wrote “Bride of Bigfoot”.
If Waid is right about the first issue of the new FF being in the can, it seems to me that the creative changes were in the works for quite some time.
And now, two unlikely theories on why Bill fired Mark:
1. I’m told Jemas has sold all his Marvel stock and no longer stands to lose on the investment he took with the job. He can take chances without repercussion. A risk-free Jemas laughs an evil laugh, rubs his greedy hands together and fires one of the best writers in the biz just so he can satisfy his ego-mania and “co-write“ FF.
2. Jemas will only co-write FF with Bigfoot guy for 6 issues. His ultimate, insidious plan is to get the creative team of writer Grant Morrison and artist Howard Porter on the book — the same team that made JLA a huge success a few years back. Morrison has long been rumored to be writing Ultimate Fantastic Four, and Porter is already penciling a 6-part fill-in arc on FF. Coincidence? Waid seems to think so:
- It’s pretty unlikely that it’s Grant. 🙂 Boy, that WOULD be sweet, actually. They’re one of MY dream teams for the book, that’s for sure.
This Has A “Can You Say, DC Exclusive Contract” Factor Of Six Out Of Ten
The buzz over Mark Waid’s termination isn’t the only noise being made about Marvel Comics. Rumor has it that the editors for Marvel’s Epic line aren’t even bothering to look at submissions sent in by the average joe. Many people think the submission program is just a testing ground for established writers, journalists and fringe creators with friends in the biz.
When my friends Matt and Dan heard about this rumor they decided to drink heavily and write a response. After putting down a few pints they came up with this surprisingly pro-Marvel stance:
A) We honestly don’t think they would have made this opportunity available if they only picked “insiders”. B) Quesada still has the stones to not let this happen. C) Most people who consider themselves up and coming artists destined for greatness should go empty the deep fat fryers. Marvel does not need another “New Universe”. This is Marvel’s American Idol, and we hope every judge is a Simon.
Just because you shopped at Hot Topic in ’97, does not mean your fat, ugly ass can sing. And simply because your friends loved your take on Quasar, does not mean you can write. We’re sure the sheer number of submissions make it Thanksgiving day at Marvel H.Q. A grand meal of schlock with the centerpiece being a veritable cornucopia of crap. If the people who stand out happen to be people who worked hard to get where they are in the field of journalism, then so be it. They deserve it.
The unshaven, unshowered fan boy in Mom’s basement/bomb shelter should have gone to school instead of E-Bay hunting for alternate chromium covers. Marvel is a business and should be handled by professionals, not geeks wearing nitrile gloves with CGC graded books. So whether this rumor is true or false, we stand behind the editors at Marvel, because we’re not laying cash down for books that suck.
This Has A “Throw the Fanboys in the Deep Fryer” Factor Of Five Out Of Ten
Welcome to the Astro League?
I’ve been told that Kurt Busiek (Astro City) will be taking over the writing chores on JLA when Joe Kelly exits. I contacted Busiek but told me he doesn’t answer rumor questions. He doesn’t see the benefit in doing so.
This Has A “But.. It Benefits Me!” Factor Of Three Out Of Ten
In the last column I wrote (that would be two weeks ago, Straczynski), I ran a story about a fan fiction website posting stories based on CrossGen characters. CrossGen has been actively trying to shut down the site. The reason? Some of the fan fiction features the characters in pornographic situations. I asked CrossGen to send an official response and they emailed the following. I’m told it will be the last word from them on the subject:
- As our readers will tell you, CrossGen is a fan-fiction friendly company. In fact, we have authorized dozens of fan sites to use our stories and characters, and we even have a section on our own Web site for fans to creatively explore our universe. Our policy has been, and always will be, for fans to simply email us and ask permission to use our material, characters, artwork, logos or any permutation of our intellectual property on their sites, and we will generally grant it. The primary no-nos in the process are 1) using our intellectual property without our permission and 2) using our stories or characters in a non-family friendly manner. The site in question did both, and then posted links to their stories on our boards. In fact, it was our own fans who populate our message boards who brought the offending posts to our attention, and asked us to do something about it.
When we read the stories, we were surprised to see that the individual responsible for the posts and the stories saw fit to place some of our under-age characters in sexual situations. That concerned us greatly, and if we didn’t challenge such an unauthorized use of our characters, it is even possible that CrossGen could be considered complicit in proffering offensive material over the Internet. For a company that just launched an educational program being used in public schools, a company developing its stories and characters into TV and film projects and a company that will soon launch DVDs featuring some of these characters into toy stores, we clearly could not allow this situation to go unchallenged.
The first issue to be addressed was the lack of permission for the usage of our material, which we always need to pursue. In order to maintain the integrity of our copyrights, the law mandates that we act on all infringements we are made aware of, regardless of the severity. If we do not act, we open the door for more infringements, and we reduce our legal footing to defend against them. The secondary issue was the fact that many of our characters whose stories are being sold in comic shops, bookstores and being prepped for film and TV adaptations were being depicted in situations that are diametrically opposite to the family friendly way we portray them.
So, we thank our fans for bringing this specific set of fan fiction to our attention, and we’re happy to say we still encourage fan interaction and fan fiction in the same way we always have: ask our permission to use our copyrighted material, and we’ll generally grant it, as we have done so consistently for the last three years.
This Has A “Cross Your Legs, Miss Sephie” Factor Of Nine Out Of Ten
The Desolate Future
Warren Ellis continues to talk about the possibility of writing a new ongoing series called Desolation Jones on his Bad Signal email list. He reports that he has pitched the project to Wildstorm and editor Scott Dunbier likes the idea. He says he also expects Jim Lee to get behind it as well. “And it’ll be a straight run from there to approval because of their support and because, honestly, I have a good record of launching new ongoing series at DC,” Ellis says.
Ellis adds that he has already started working on the book in order to get a head start. He has the plot frames laid out for the first six issues and has written most of issue #1. Ellis also says that he has decided on the storytelling tools to use for the book, one of which is an “adaptation of the narrative form I used in Hellblazer: Haunted, which I nicked from Frank Miller.”
According to Ellis, Dunbier describes the series as “a Prisoner for the 21st Century.” For those unfamiliar, Prisoner was a 1967 television series about a top-secret government agent who resigns his position only to be immediately abducted. He’s taken away to an isolated seaside community known only as “The Village”. Confined in this enigmatic town, Number 6 (the name given to the agent by his captors) soon learns that no one can be trusted, and that those in charge will stop at nothing to learn the reasons behind his resignation.
That about does it. See Hulk in theatres. And also tune in to the History Channel to watch the premiere of Comic Book Superheroes: Unmasked on Monday, June 23 at 9:00 PM (Eastern). It’s an excellent documentary on the history and evolution of comic books.
PS If anyone has any rumors to share please send them to me at email@example.com or IM me via AOL Instant Messenger. My screen name is Automatic San. Thanks to everyone who has been sending stuff in. It’s appreciated.