[Editor’s Note: Due to circumstances beyond our control this week’s column was delayed. Apologies to all our loyal readers, and to Blair Marnell. We hope to do better next week!]

Welcome back to another edition of ATR. We?ve got a lot to go over, so let?s get to it.

Westward Expanse

There are some early rumors going around that Marvel has an event coming in June that will focus on their Western heroes. From what I hear, it will be similar to their ?Marvel Monsters? and ?I (Heart) Marvel? events, with various creators working on four one-shots. The characters involved are said to be drawn from the classic Marvel/Timely heroes like Two Gun Kid and Kid Colt along with a few ?all new? characters. Naturally, they?re also planning a Marvel Western Handbook to bring everyone up to speed. As for the creators attached to the project, lineups are hard to come by at the moment, but I hear that Eric Powell (The Goon) will be providing the covers?

This Has A ?Blaze Carson? Factor of Eight Out of Ten

Cool Exec With A Heart of Steel

As I?m sure most of you have heard by now, Patrick Zircher is moving over from Cable & Deadpool to provide the art for Daniel Knauf?s (Carniv?le) run on Iron Man starting with issue 7. Up to this point, we haven?t seen any pages from their first issue. Fortunately, I can rectify that now:

As far as I know, Zircher is staying with the book full time. And I hear there?s a chance that Knauf might stay on as well?

This Has An ?Extremis Enhancile? Factor of Nine Out of Ten

Heart 2 Heart

I hear that one of Chris Clairemont?s last stories for Uncanny X-Men will be a sequel to his story from Marvel Team Up #100, which was the first time that Storm and the Black Panther were linked together romantically. The new story is said to be a lead in to their pending nuptials. However, it won?t be in the regular Uncanny monthly. Instead it?s going to be in Uncanny X-Men Annual #1, which should be out around June.

This Has A ?Bride of The Panther? Factor of Eight Out of Ten

Arabian Knights

According to an article in today?s New York Times, Kuwait based Teshkeel Media will publish a super hero comic geared towards a Middle Eastern audience. It?s called The 99 which refers to 99 qualities that embody God, according to Muslim beliefs. Reportedly, each character in the book personifies one of the 99 qualities. The article also featured a picture of the lead characters with a description of their powers:

?From left: Mumita (speedy), Dr. Razem (a gem expert), Rughal (mystery powers), Jabbar (expandable) and Noora (sees truth).?

Other points of interest: Fabian Nicieza will be involved with the project in some capacity, and there are plans to piggyback the distribution of The 99 with Teshkeel?s Arabic translations of Marvel comics, like X-Men and Spider-Man. Marvel has already signed with Teshkeel and Naif al-Mutawa (owner of Teshkeel) says that he is ?in talks with Archie and DC Comics for similar deals.?

This Has A ?Cosmic Rationale? Factor of Five Out of Ten

Here There Be Dragons

In about two weeks, Javier Grillo-Marxuach?s (writer and supervising producer of Lost) will follow up his creator owned miniseries with the release of The Middleman v2 #1. ATR readers should recall, that The Middleman is an action/comedy that follows a girl named Wendy who is recruited by a secretive organization that takes on comic book style menaces. In this world, there are no superheroes. There?s just The Middleman, Wendy?s new partner and her comedic foil. For the sequel, Grillo-Marxuach has reteamed with Les McClaine (Jonny Crossbones) and applied the lesson gleaned from the first mini, as Grillo-Marxuach elaborates:

    With the new miniseries, we?re basically taking everything to the next level. It actually starts the day after the first miniseries ended. Les McClaine, is a masterful artist to begin with and he?s pushed his own art to the next level also. As for myself, I tried to take some things that I learned while writing the first miniseries (turning it from a TV pilot script and into a comic book) to create something that?s a lot more attuned to the comic book world. It?s been a real learning curve to figure out how to write effectively for comic books. As far as character, we?re following Wendy?s continuing arc of personal growth and part of that is her role as a superhero in training (as it were). A lot of that is gonna come from how being a member of the world?s most covert organization is really going to foul up her life. I?m playing with that while broadening the scope of the adventures we can have. I think that the previous story was a little smaller in scope because we were trying to introduce other characters and the world they live in. Now, having done that, we can jump into an adventure that?s really big. To start, we?ve got hundreds of masked wrestlers attacking an ancient martial arts master and it gets bigger from there.

The action really picks up fast and furiously from the first issue. There?s a character that we mentioned in the first miniseries called Sensei Pin, who is going to be the person that trains Wendy to as physically adept as the Middleman. She was hired for this job because of her mental aptitude, but she is still a 20 year girl fresh out of art school. When Sensi Peng arrives from China, he?s attacked by a clan of masked wrestlers, who have chosen this particular time to lash out against the man they accuse of killing their master. Wendy and the Middleman are caught in the crossfire throughout the second miniseries. I don?t want to spoil any more of the story at this point, but let?s just say that a cursed Mayan pyramid features prominently in the last two issues.

I think that the first Middleman miniseries was really well liked, but as a small comic from an independent publisher, it had some trouble standing out from the glut. So one of the things we?ve done is dropped the price on the first issue of the second mini to 99 cents. And the new first issue is a great introduction to the Middleman as an ongoing story, Hopefully, along with the trade paperback of the first miniseries that will give readers an incentive to sample the series.

This Has A ?Secret Rage Imperative? Factor of Ten Out of Ten

Talent On Loan

Chris Golden and Tom Sniegowski have a new four issue miniseries coming from Boom! Studios in April, called Talent, which focuses on the sole survivor of a plane crash, who finds that he has the memories and skills of all of the passengers from the flight. The artist will be Paul Azaceta, who drew Grounded for Image last year.

This Has An ?It?s The Sudden Stop That Kills You? Factor of Seven Out of Ten

Another Remender

Earlier this week, on Late Night With Conan O?Brien, comedian Brian Posehn (Mr. Show) officially announced his new comic, The Last Christmas. As mentioned here before, Posehen?s book will be drawn by Rick Remender and come out from Image later this year. I also here it might be up for a feature piece in an upcoming Wizard?

This Has A ?Christmas At Ground Zero? Factor of Nine Out of Ten

Terror That Flaps In The Night

TV Shows On DVD is reporting that Disney will release box sets of Darkwing Duck and The Tick animated series later this year.

In other good news for animation fans, voice actor, Billy West has revealed that there are plans for FOUR feature length Futurama movies that will be recorded in late summer 2006.

This Has A ?Bachelor Chow? Factor of Ten Out of Ten

Shout Out of The Week

I haven?t done this since I saw DoubleK?s classic Pac-Man/Watchmen pic, but I?ve got to give it up to Newsarama user ?TheFoo? for his latest signature picture:

I really love the more creative signature pics out there. Keep sending them to me, and we might do this as a regular feature?

Method Man

And finally, SBC?s own Clifford Meth has a book coming up from Aardwolf Publishing called METHo.d.. It collects 13 of his short stories with illustrations by Dave Cockrum, Steve Lieber, Bill Messner-Loebs, Al Milgrom, Michael Netzer and Jordan Raskin. Jim Steranko designed the book and painted the cover, which you can see below:

Here?s an illustration by Jordan Raskin from Meth?s short story, ?Sour and Stale.?

The book should be available in March from most major comic retailers or directly from Aardwolf?s website. There is also a signed edition available. Additionally, all copies purchased directly from Aardwolf come with an unconditional money back guarantee.

For more info, follow this link.

That?s all folks. Special thanks to John V. for extra vigilance.


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.

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