As some of you may already know Blair Marnell is off this week, and so he has allowed me ? John Voulieris ? to guest host this weeks All The Rage. Rumor has it he is off digging out an inactive volcano somewhere in the Caribbean that he plans to use as a future base of operations.
Who am I you ask? Well I?m a frequent contributor to ATR, and I have quite a few sources that give me interesting information about the world of comics and movies even though I live all the way up in Canada (before any of you ask yes I do live in an igloo, thank god they all come with high speed internet these days).
I for one am very thankful for this opportunity so let?s get on with the show.
Forgive and Forget?
Mark Millar, current writer of Wolverine, The Ultimates, and Marvel?s Knight?s Spider-Man, has always publicly expressed his desire to write Superman for DC comics, despite the fact that he and the current DC President Paul Levitz don?t get along that well.
Rumor has it that some DC executives have extended an amazing offer to Mark, dubbed ?Operation Forgive and Forget?, which would give him the opportunity to write two monthly Superman titles. One would be drawn by his Ultimates collaborator Bryan Hitch, while the other would be penciled by another big name artist who is under exclusive contract with DC.
Superman is currently a top selling title under Jim Lee and Brian Azzarello. If DC wants to keep momentum going after they finish their run next year then this move would indeed keep sales at the top of the charts.
My source also tells me that this is a strategic move in response to Marvel Comics scooping up a number of formerly DC exclusive creators like Warren Ellis and Oliver Coipel.
This Has A ?Can?t We All Just Get Along?? Factor of Eight Out Of Ten
Nothing to Lose
Speaking of exclusive contracts, Andy Diggle is an award winning writer who is currently under exclusive contract with DC Comics. He currently writes two of my favorite books: Adam Strange, and the Losers.
His comics are fast paced and always a lot of fun, so I was delighted when he took time out of his busy schedule to answer some of my questions and give us and inside look into the Diggleverse.
John Voulieris: Currently readers are in the middle of the untold origin of the Losers – what have you got planned after this storyline wraps up?
AD: “The Pass” is a four-issue flashback to the Losers’ origin story, which I’m seeing as roughly the mid-point of the series. So after this, things are going to build up a real head of steam as the Losers finally discover the true nature of Max’s “Project” and race to try and stop it. After that, they pull a heist in London. You can expect to start seeing the various plot threads from the first year’s worth of stories starting to come tie together. The vulcanologist, the abandoned oil rigs, the CCI bank, it all ties together. Allegiances will change, true motives will be revealed, some characters will live, some will die. And a lot of shit will blow up.
JV: The current Losers storyline seems to be advancing towards a conclusion – do you have a concluding storyline in mind? Will the series have a definite ending?
AD: I’ve always had a very definite ending in mind for the series, but what happens after that is really up to Vertigo. The story ends in such a way that the series really wouldn’t be able to continue in its current form – but if another writer wants to come along and re-invent it, that’s fine by me. That’s what I did in the first place, after all.
JV: Adam Strange has been both critical and commercial success- pretty good for what can be described as a second tier character. What I’m really looking forward to is future appearances by some DCU sci-fi characters like the Legion and the Omega Men – did you want to include all these characters or was this a mandate from DC?
AD: When Dan Didio first invited me to write the series, he made it clear that it was in tended not only as a means of re-invigorating the Adam Strange franchise, but also various other “forgotten” DCU sci-fi characters. So that was fine, I knew that going in. It just meant I had to do a lot of homework beforehand, because most of these characters weren’t very familiar to me, and some of that continuity stuff is just impenetrable. But there was also a certain amount of second-guessing, particularly with regards to how the story would end, and how it would tie in with other stories which would spin off from it, and that has caused me a few headaches. Like moving the goal-posts mid-game. But I’m very happy with the way it’s worked out. Tigorr of the Omega Men has proven to be a particularly fun character to write.
JV: Any future projects you can spill the beans on?
AD: My next two projects are big and shiny and I wish I could talk about them, but until they’re officially announced it’s a real no-no. One is a major DCU character, and the other is a creator-participation sci-fi mini-series with a superb A-list artist for Wildstorm Signature. They’re both projects I can’t wait to get started on – I just have to finish Adam Strange first!
JV: When is your exclusive contract with DC over? Under your contract can you still do work for 2000AD (since they have an agreement with DC Comics)?
AD: My DC exclusive ends in July 2005, and no, it doesn’t allow me to work for 2000AD – otherwise Jock and I would probably be finishing Lenny Zero right now.
JV: When your contract is over are there any Marvel characters you’d like a crack at?
AD: Maybe one or two. I’d be hopeless trying to tackle a spandex team soap-fest like X-Men, but give me one of the tough-guy loner types – Wolverine, Blade, Black Widow, Nick Fury, Punisher, maybe even Iron Man or Hulk – and I could have some fun. But DC have been really good to me, so it’s not like I’m going to turn my back on them the moment my exclusive expires. They put me on the map, and I owe them some loyalty for that. Besides, I’ve been working flat out for two years now, and my next two DC projects are going to take me right through to the end of 2005 anyway, so frankly I could use a bit of a breather!
If anyone wants to find out more about Andy?s projects, you can visit his website at http://www.andydiggle.com/.
This Has A ?Planet Heist? Factor of Ten Out Of Ten
Mike Zeck has produced many classic comic book covers over the years. Mike has a distinctive style and is very adept at giving us hard-boiled renditions of characters like Batman and the Punisher.
On his website, Mike is currently offering commissions of his most famous covers, but with an added bonus. You can request that he substitute one character for another. So, for example, if you liked a particular Captain America cover, but would rather see Cap punching out Cobra Commander instead of the Red Skull ? you can commission Mike to draw it.
This Has A ?Kraven?s Last Hunt? Factor of Eight Out Of Ten
Brian K. Vaughan has written several screen plays, stage plays, short stories and is currently writing 4 critically acclaimed comics (three of which he co-created) for Wildstorm (Ex Machina), Vertigo (Y, the Last Man), and Marvel (Ultimate X-Men and Runaways). You can learn more about the man and his work at his website: http://www.bkv.tv/.
Brian took some time out (amidst some heavy deadlines) to give Us the inside skinny on a bunch of his projects:
JV: Lets talk about Runaways first: What can you tell us about Season 2? What will be the general theme of the series now that the parents are no longer part of the picture? Any new characters popping up (who is Excelsior)?
BKV: First of all, despite what you may have heard, Runaways is not a miniseries. It?s an ongoing book that?s already been generously green-lit by Marvel for at least a guaranteed twelve issues, but we?re all very confident that the series is going to last much longer than that. I already have the first two years plotted out, and artist Adrian Alphona and I are both convinced that this is going to be the biggest comeback for a team since Giant Size X-Men #1.
Speaking of which, our relaunch isn?t a ?Season 2,? as much as it is an ALL-NEW, MOSTLY DIFFERENT series that will be 100% accessible to those of you who may have missed our first eighteen issues (which are still available in super-cool digest collections, you cheap bastards).
All you need to know is that Runaways is about a group of teenagers who ran away from home after they discovered that their parents were actually super-villains. But that was just step one. Now that their evil parents are gone, nearly every bad guy in the Marvel Universe is trying to fill the power vacuum in Los Angeles, and the Runaways are the only heroes who can stop them.
Our story is still about young people struggling not to repeat the mistakes of the previous generation? but that broad theme will take on a very different shape in this new series.
And yes, I can finally reveal that we?ll be introducing at least one brand-new character, a teenager who?s the child of a MAJOR Marvel Universe villain. But which one??
As for Excelsior, it?s a new team comprised of several fan-favorite Marvel characters, but if you want to know who they are and what they want with the Runaways, you?ll have to visit my message board at http://www.bkv.tv for frequently updated clues.
JV: Any new Marvel projects coming up soon? How long are you planning on staying on Ultimate X-Men? Any Marvel characters you would like to tackle?
BKV: I?m thrilled to announce that Stuart Immonen and I will be doing the next twelve issues of Ultimate X-Men together (#54-65). I?m very proud of my first two arcs, but I feel like I?ve really hit my stride with Stuart. It?s tough to compete with the likes of Whedon, Milligan and Claremont, but we?re trying to do something that will be completely different from those books (for hardcore X-fans who think they?ve seen everything), while also staying true to the spirit of the Ultimate Universe (for new readers discovering these classic characters for the first time). It?s a tough tightrope to walk, but I think we?re up to the challenge.
First up will be our very different take on Longshot (no aliens, no inevitable Dazzler romance, no bowtie-clad Arcade), followed by some shorter stories that will introduce a few all-new concepts to the Ultimate Universe. And for our final arc, an action-packed epic that will tie together a lot of everyone?s favorite elements from Millar and Bendis? runs for one spectacular new story I can?t wait to tell. The next year of UXM?s got it all (except Wolverine, who?ll be ?away on business? for the next five issues or so; I think readers get more than enough of him everywhere else, and it?s time to give some other muties the spotlight, no?)
Thankfully, all of my plans turned out to dovetail very nicely with the plans of Bryan Singer and screenwriters Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty, who I had a really cool meeting with several months ago in Los Angeles (crazy to be in the same room as the director of Usual Suspects!). Those guys and a top-secret artist will be taking over UXM immediately after the end of our run, and I?m going to stick around for at least their first few issues to lend a hand translating their ideas (which kick an unbelievable amount of ass) into comic form. I?ve read their outlines, and I can say with confidence that their run on UXM is going to put even X2 to shame.
JV: I am a big fan of your take on Batman – any plans to revisit the Dark Knight?
BKV: Thanks! I?d love to write Batman again someday, but my plate is pretty full right now, and I think the Bat-books are already in great hands. But never say never?
JV: You must be happy that you are one of the few writers who readers often site as having enjoyed his original work more than his work on classic characters – any more creator owned characters/concepts percolating in your head?
BKV: Thanks a lot, though I hope people enjoy ALL of my work, whether or not it?s creator-owned. I suppose I?ve always had an easier time writing my own characters, but it?s an honor to get to write icons like the X-Men, and it?s not a responsibility I take lightly. It used to take me about twice as long to write an issue of Mystique as it did to write an issue of Y, so Christ knows I?m trying. No phoning it in on ?corporate characters? for me. It?s all about telling good stories, no matter who holds the trademark.
Sorry, what was the question again? More creator-owned work? Let?s see, there?s my upcoming 128-page graphic novel, Pride: The Lions Of Baghdad, available in hardcover from Vertigo in 2005. It?s inspired by a true story of four lions who escaped the Baghdad Zoo during the most recent American invasion of Iraq. Yep, it?s a talking animal book. As I?ve said elsewhere, if Morrison’s staggeringly brilliant WE3 is ?The Incredible Journey? of tomorrow, I flatter myself to think of our story as a kind of ?Animal Farm? for today. But we?ll see. I?ve been researching and working on Pride for the last year and a half or so, and I think it?s probably the best thing I?ve ever written. You can check out some unlettered pages, pencilled, inked and colored by my incredible co-creator, artist Niko Henrichon, over at my dork-tastic blog.
But other than that, I just want to concentrate on making my current monthlies the best they can be. I know my limits, and I don?t want to stretch myself too thin.
JV: Y: The Last Man – The current storyline has promised to answer a few questions from when the series began…any hints as to what the new direction will be after this storyline wraps up?
BKV: No Y spoilers! But I can say that Russ Manning Award-winning artist Goran Sudzuka (not to be confused with previous Y artist Goran Parlov [I intend to work with every ?Goran? in comics before I die]) will be joining me as guest penciller for the upcoming four-part arc ?Girl on Girl? in 2005. It?s dirty.
JV: Ex Machina is both a critical and commercial success for Wildstorm. Let me ask one plot oriented question: Will we see more tales set in the “present” ? i.e.: from the point which Mayor Hundred is narrating from (4 years in the “future”) or is the entire series basically a flashback?
BKV: I don?t want to spoil upcoming storylines, but stay tuned for answers to that question. As Grell used to say in Warlord, ?Expect the unexpected.? Tony Harris and I are having the time of our lives with this book, and we?re thrilled that our steadily increasing sales (which are even nipping at Y?s heels now) are strong enough to pretty much guarantee us the opportunity to tell all fifty issues of our planned four-year run. It?s a rough market for all-new, ?R-rated,? creator-owned comics, but we seem to have beaten the odds, and the mainstream attention from mags like Entertainment Weekly will hopefully help us reach out to even more readers. Thanks to everyone who took a chance on us.
JV: Any other comics or non-comics related work you would like to plug?
BKV: Well, I?m working on a screenplay for the fine folks over at Marvel West, but I?m afraid it?s too early to talk about that. And a few different theater companies have written to tell me that they intend to produce the one-act play I put up under Creative Commons license on my website. That should be cool. A few other little non-monthly comics surprises here and there, too.
Other than that, I just play a lot of Scrabble with my new bride, and essentially live the life of an 80-year-old shut-in. It?s great.
This Has A ?I Want To Die Before I Get Old? Factor of Ten Out Of Ten
Give them Hell
Lee Bermejo (Batman/Deathblow, Global Frequency) is hard at work penciling a new Hellboy mini series to be written by series creator Mike Mignola.
This mini may possibly be scheduled for release coinciding with the upcoming Hellboy movie sequel.
This Has A ?Wake The Devil? Factor of Six Out Of Ten
Our Man at DC Down Under
Shane McCarthy is an Australian writer who is currently scripting a five-part Batman/Riddler tale in Legends of the Dark Knight for DC Comics that is turning out to be an excellent little mystery tale.
Shane recently let me know that he has also contributed to an anthology title called Event Horizon, which will feature different stories by Glenn Fabry, Liam Sharp, Ashley Wood, and a few others.
This Has A ?Wrestle That Croc? Factor Of Eight Out Of Ten
Well that was fun! Next week Blair Marnell is back (if the parole board buys his sob story that is) with more juicy news and rumors.
Big thank you to Blair and Jason for letting me tackle ATR this week. Another big thanks to Andy Diggle, Brian K. Vaughan, Roger Stern, everyone at Millarworld and IMWAN for their help and contributions.
And a big thanks to all my friends here in Montreal who support me and always got my back!