One month on ATR and nobody?s calling for my head just yet. Let?s see how long that lasts?

There?s a lot to go through this week, so we?re just going to cut straight to the news and rumors:

Marvelution

Marvel announced this week that it is now finally free of debt. Which is no small thing, considering that they were $200 million in the hole as recently as four years ago. Many analysts blame Marvel?s decent into heavy debt and bankruptcy on mismanagement by former owner, Ron Perelman, as chronicled in Dan Riviv?s book Comic Wars. However, several industry observers were stunned when Marvel then announced that it would be publishing a new trade paperback edition of Comic Wars, which was previously published by Broadway Books. The timing of these announcements was also intriguing, as they seemed to come right on top of each other.

Coincidence?

Hard to say, really. The way Marvel has been tying up loose ends lately, I half-expect them to announce a settlement with Stan Lee. All of this activity has led to fresh speculation that Marvel is gearing up to be sold to a larger company. But there are always rumors about that; so stay skeptical until something actually happens.

Though it will be interesting to see if there are any ?editorial changes? between the original printing of Comic Wars, and the new edition to come?

This Has An ?Excelsior, True Believers!? Factor of Five Out of Ten


Beware of Falling Sigils

While it was a good week for Marvel, the same can?t be said for CrossGen. On Friday, ComicWorldNews broke the story on CrossGen?s decision to file for bankruptcy. So, is this the end for CGE?

Not necessarily.

From what I?ve been told, CrossGen filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which usually means an attempt will be made to reorganize the company towards the goal of becoming profitable. In the interim, nearly all of the remaining CGE employees have been laid off. Though there may be one or two comic creators still with the company. Additionally, I?ve heard that under the terms of this filling, any new work that is not already completed and paid for by CrossGen can not be performed for a 60-90 day period. However, if there are any completed books at the printers, those might still be able to go out.

In another CrossGen related rumor, I?ve heard that pieces from Mark Alessi’s famed art collection, which at one point adorned the CGE office walls, have started turning up in private collections.

This Has A ?Negation? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Star Power

In a message posted to rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated, J. Michael Straczynski recently said that he has finished the final three scripts for Rising Stars, with the first issue of the last arc to be released in October. When contacted, Straczynski took the time to answer a few questions regarding the series:

BM:

      Has the long interval between

Rising Stars

    issues changed your approach to writing the final installments?

JMS:Not terribly. I believe in always knowing where you’re going before you start to write something, and as with B5, where I always knew the ending scenes, I always knew the final page of Rising Stars, a particular image, and that’s where it’s going. There’s some stuff in the interim books that kind of surprised me, in that there are some thematic issues that came up because we’re in a highly charged political year, but other than that, it goes where it was meant to go.

BM: On the surface, there are some similarities between Rising Stars and Supreme Power. How would you characterize the thematic differences between the two?

JMS: Well, they’re vastly different stories on just about every level. The only places where they intersect is on the issue of introducing powered individuals into a normal world for the fist time, but after that the similarities end, particularly in terms of the characters involved. If I had to boil it down to thematic issues, I’d say that Rising Stars examines the role of the powered individual in society, and Supreme Power deals with the implementation of power when it is allowed to, or has the potential to corrupt the user. That’s why I specifically named the book Supreme Power rather than Squadron Supreme; it’s a shout-out to the concept that, if power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely? what does supreme power do?

If there’s any significant difference between the two, it’s that this time I kind of know more what I’m doing than I did on Rising Stars. To explain: prior to RS, I had done a grand total of 3 individual comics, an issue of Teen Titans Spotlight, one Twilight Zone issue for Now, and a Star Trek issue. I went from that straight into this 24 issue story that would follow 113 individuals, the world at large, and tell a story that spanned 60+ years. It started out fine enough, but about midway through, I think the story just got too big and it got away from me, and I didn’t have the tools as a writer then to completely bring it back under control. As a result, there are some parts of the book that I consider very successful, and other parts where I can feel the wheels coming off the car.

Between then and Supreme Power, however, I’ve written a bucket load of books, including Midnight Nation, which I think is the most successful thing I’ve written in just about every form I’ve worked in, including TV, largely because I was able to apply the lessons I’d learned from Rising Stars. Both were big stories, but I was able to hold the characters at the center of Midnight Nation far better than before. That’s the writing process, you learn by doing, slowly acquiring more and more tools for your tool box. When I did Rising Stars, my toolbox consisted mainly of a screwdriver and a rusty pair of pliers. Now I have a good sized collection of tools to use, which is why Supreme Power is a much stronger book.

There’s this notion out there that I’m a very egocentric kind of guy — probably created in part because I know my own mind and I’m not afraid to express it — but in truth I’m always painfully aware of my own mistakes, where I tripped over my own shoelaces, and I’m never loathe to admit it. I don’t think there’s anybody out there who’s harder on my work than I am, because I think the moment you get complacent, the moment you stop being critical about your own work, you’re artistically dead. That’s also why I keep taking chances in the kinds of stories I tell, which I think is part of the attraction for a lot of readers. Most times I pull it off, and sometimes I go down in the biggest explosion since Tunguska? but either way, readers know they’re in for a heck of a ride along the way.

BM: As Rising Stars nears its conclusion, do you have any final thoughts to share about the series?

JMS: Not really, I think the work should speak for itself. If it can’t speak for itself, then it should just finish off its broccoli and go to bed without dessert.

BM: Do you have any plans to revisit these characters after issue 24?

JMS: No, when it’s done, for me, it’s done. I won’t be writing any further issues of the book, and I don’t believe there are any further spinoffs by others planned beyond the one already written and sitting around the Top Cow offices.

BM: Is Brent Anderson coming back to the series?

JMS: Yes, and I’m very happy about that. Because of the delays caused in large measure by the situation with Top Cow, which caused me to withhold delivery of the final issues until those issues had been resolved, we were afraid we might lose him, but he made it a point to come back and finish off the story. My only regret is that we didn’t have him from the git-go.

BM: What?s the status of the Rising Stars movie?

JMS: As movie producers are wont to do, they burn through one writer after another, gathering different kinds of drafts until a director is brought on, who then sifts through the various drafts and cherry picks what he wants. They’re off in search of an A-list feature film writer for the next draft, with the goal of getting this thing in front of a camera sometime late 2005, but who can say?

This Has A ?Great Maker? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Shades of Gray

John Romita Jr. (Amazing Spider-Man) and screenwriter Glenn Brunswick (Frequency) are days away from the release of their creator-owned miniseries, The Gray Area. This miniseries will be Romita?s first published work outside of Marvel. When asked for more details on this project, both creators responded:

John Romita Jr.

The phrase ?Gray Area? was coined by Glen, but the inspiration for it was in my own twisted little mind. I?ve always been fascinated with good and evil, and I?ve got a religious background in that I was raised in a Catholic household and went to Catholic grammar school. But I was raised in a supernatural household. Being that my father was a comic book artist. My curve is such, that I combined a little bit of existentialism, philosophy, and a little bit of supernatural stuff. And it was all because I have a problem with existence and doing the right things for the wrong reasons. In that, specifically, you pay your taxes but don?t really want to. You abide by the laws, half of them you don?t want to. You help the old lady get across the street because you want to get a badge, not because you really care about the old lady. I feel that most people are that way and that?s where in this extreme circumstance the corrupt bastard goes to where?

Glenn Brunswick

Our concept suggests that when we die 80 percent of us go to a place we refer to as the Gray Area. The other 20 percent ascend to Heaven or slide down into Hell. In the Gray Area it’s now sudden death time for your soul. You can’t be idle. If you don’t learn to care for others and better yourself, the Gray Area will become your purgatory. On the other hand, if you do well, you can ascend and gain a shot at paradise. The Gray Area has existed this way for centuries and it’s now vastly overcrowded and completely unmanageable.

Our main character, Rudy Chance is basically a bastard. He cheats on his wife, steals on the job and he helps people only because it’s his job, not because he cares about them. His position as a narcotics detective gives him access to plenty of stolen goods, cash and loose women. Ultimately, his greed leads him to a set of circumstances that result in his own murder and the execution of his family. So the question is, when he gets to the afterlife does a guy like this get any points for all the good he did on his job? And the answer is yes he does. Instead of going to Hell he gets to serve as an afterlife police officer until he learns to care about others from within the core of his being.

John Romita Jr.

He?s a great character. About as accurate as you can get to a real human. He?s the kind of guy who would knock over a drug dealer, take his money and put his kids through collage. Is that evil? Is that wrong? Yeah, of course. He?s a cop and should be sent to prison for taking money off the top. He is just a guy who likes to slide between the lines and get away with it. When he got caught, he?s dead for it. I think he?s got a heart, he?s just lost his way about it. He?s an everyguy, maybe not to the extent of cheating on his wife and being a crooked cop. Not to that extreme. But I think in a certain way people are like that. They?ve got bad in them and they?ve got good in them. You just have to learn how to hold on to the good and beat away the bad. That?s what temptation is. That?s the kind of guy Rudy Chance is. He?s not evil, he?s not good. He?s somewhere in the gray area. So it?s kind of a metaphor for the whole ball of wax.

When he goes to the Gray Area and becomes a ?Gray Watch?, which is a police officer in the Gray Area. Because of what he is. He refuses at first, gets forced into it and has to learn to survive in the Gray Area. You?re supposed to prove yourself in the Gray Area, to improve your stature in eternity. You can?t just hang out and let time pass. That?s what the Gray Area is. Different from any religious afterlife spot. You have to prove yourself, and if you don?t, you are in for a load of horror, before you even get close to hell.

Glenn Brunswick

The motivating factor for Chance is the hope that he might get to see his son again who died at the age of eight and has gone on to Heaven. In life the only one that Chance truly loved was his son. If he serves and learns to help others out of a genuine caring for them then he will be reunited with his boy. The problem for Chance is he’s still a greedy prick who only made detective because he could bust heads as an enforcer. His dark side constantly rears its ugly head and may land him in Hell for all eternity.

The Gray Area is a three-issue mini-series, with the first issue hitting shelves on June 23rd.

This Has An ?Afterlife Patrol? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Crossing Lane

***Spoiler Warning for Smallville Season 4***
KryptonSite is reporting that the producers of Smallville have put out a casting call for Lois Lane:

The breakdown describes Lois as “caucasian, smart, beautiful, urban, headstrong, and no-nonsense.” It says she was an Army kid who moved around every two years. She lost her mother at a young age and helped to raise her young sister, which made her mature beyond her years?

At this point in her life, Lois is in her early twenties and has no interest in journalism. She’s in Smallville to investigate the death of Chloe.

According to the report, Lois will appear in at least the first four episodes of the new season.

This Has A ?Save Me, Superman!!? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Fierce Spirits

Gettosake Entertainment and Dark Horse Comics have teamed up for a four-issue miniseries entitled Fierce, an action-thriller which centers on an FBI psychic profiler who acquires the personalities and abilities of his murdered teammates and uses those abilities to seek vengeance. Series creator/writer Jeremy Love elaborates:

    Jonathan Fierce is from the Jamaican slum, and never had a family. The FBI adopted him as a teenager. He’s essentially a man without a home. His abilities have been sought by both sides of the law. From an early age he’s had psychic intuition. He can see into the future, read minds and even question the dead. He doesn’t have a lot of control of his powers and it’s a constant struggle. He’s right only half the time.

In addition to hearing their (his partners) voices, he’s able to do what they did. Their knowledge and skills are now his. As you can see, it can get overwhelming. Fierce will struggle throughout the series to keep his sanity.

Robert Love rounds out the creative team on pencils, Jeff Wasson with inks and Chip Zdarsky handling the colors. The first issue comes out July 9th.


This Has An ?I Hear Dead People? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Get Yer Goat On

This one is for webcomic fans:

From left to right, Scott Kurtz (PvP) and Tycho & Gabe (Penny Arcade) make cameo appearances in one of the latest Goats comic strips. According to Goats writer/artist, Jonathan Rosenberg, the current storyline will incorporate other web-cartoonists as well.

Goats can be found on the web at http://www.goats.com/

This Has An ?Updated 3 Times A Week? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


Freddy?s Nightmares

Need any proof that the Reality TV craze is getting out of hand? CBS just announced that it?s developing Nightmare on Elm Street: Real Nightmares. Yes? it?s a reality series based on the Freddy Krueger movies. Here are the gory details:

    The six-episode reality series will help viewers confront their own nightmares with the help of none other than Freddy Kreuger himself, actor Robert Englund?

Englund will show up at participants’ homes and ask them to recount their deepest darkest nightmares. As the participants tell their stories, the dreams will be visualized by special effects artist Peter Kuran (Star Wars, Robo Cop, and X-Men 2)?

After the participants have delved deeply into their tortured psyches, Englund will take them to a secret location to face their nightmare head-on in an elaborate challenge.

This Has A ?Dear Lord? Make It Stop!!!? Factor of Ten Out of Ten


That?s all for this week. See you in Seven.

Later,
Blair

PS If anyone has any rumors, stories or news to share, please email me at blairm@silverbulletcomicbooks.com. Thanks to everyone who has been sending stuff in. It?s greatly appreciated.

About The Author