Viva El Salvador

Former X-Treme X-Men penciler Salvador Larocca has confirmed his involvement with Marvel’s big X “RELOAD” this spring. On the ComixFan message boards he wrote, “Don’t get worried about what book I’ll be drawing, Marvel will be doing a big announcement soon, and I think you’ll be happy, not just with my book, also with the rest of X-books. I only can say that I’m the worst of the artists of the reload stuff!”

Larocca also offered his perspective on all the X-speculation. “Rumors are just rumors, and as for that I know, aren’t accurate. Sorry, but I can’t speak more about it.”

The man has a point. It was once rumored that Larocca would assume permanent art duties on Uncanny X-Men after Marvel assigned him the upcoming, 5-issue arc, “She Lies with Angels.” But the recent Marvel confirmation that X-vets Chris Claremont and Alan Davis will takeover Uncanny killed that possibility. Soon after the announcement, the collective fanboy mind shuffled Larocca over to New X-Men, a book whose clandestine creative team is now the most speculated comics secret on the web.

However, as reported in last week’s ATR, a variety of sources point to Planetary artist John Cassaday as the new X-guy. After Rage was released, even gossip master Rich Johnston claimed Cassaday took the job for a “big bag of money”. At Millarworld he added, “And Wildstorm are crying. They’ve been through the exact same thing with Quitely…”

Since last week I’ve received additional confirmation that Cassaday is on New X-Men. And I have to say, I don’t consider this a rumor any more, boys and girls.

What I don’t know for sure is where Larocca fits into the X-picture. There have been new rumors that Salvador will return to X-Treme X-Men, but I’m told Marvel isn’t entirely sure what the hell they want to do with the book and may simply end up canceling it. If this is true it may mean an additional X-book is being created for Claremont who claims to be writing three X-titles this year. Two of his books are known — the aforementioned Uncanny X-Men and X-Men: The End which will be illustrated by Sean Chen (Elektra, Wolverine).

I’m also hearing that Weapon X will be a part of “RELOAD” and will undergo changes.

Marvel is keeping a lot of the details close to its mighty breast. Even creators are being kept in the dark. And if the recent fanboy frenzy over New X-Men is any indication, the Joe Q ninja action is working. Everyone has a hard-on for the official word.

This Has An “Xavier’s Mental Anguish Award” Factor of Ten Out of Ten

The Chosen One

Last Sunday ATR also asserted that Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon will be taking over the writing chores on New X-Men. For those still speculating, I have to tell you, I’m convinced this is happening. I’m also convinced the deal was signed some time ago and the whole “don’t say anything or it won’t go through” may have been a clever way to keep people in the know from talking out of turn.

However, I should also mention that frequent ATR collaborator Blair Marnell actually asked Whedon if he was writing New X-Men two weeks ago at the monthly Los Angeles Comic Book and Sci Fi Con. Whedon replied, “No.” He said there were discussions with Marvel EIC Joe Quesada about writing a title, but his schedule (which currently includes the television series Angel and a possible Firefly movie for Universal) keeps him too busy to commit to anything else.

However, Whedon would not be the first creator to deny he’s working on a Marvel series before the official announcement. According to my intelligence, this is one of those times.

This Has A “Hush” Factor of Ten Out of Ten


A few days ago popular writer J. Michael Straczynski surprisingly agreed with fan criticism that his Amazing Spider-Man issues have been less ambitious of late. On Usenet the popular scribe wrote:

    I always try to break up criticism into fair and unfair, productive and counter-productive, and I think that’s a fair criticism. When I came onto the book, it had been angst ridden and kind of a downer for so long that one of the things I wanted to do was make it a fun book, the kind of book you feel good about reading.

Of course, the trouble with this is that it necessitates less ambitious stories because you only get the big stories by putting your character up a tree and throwing really big rocks at him.

Having said that, though, I think I’m nearing the limit of what I can handle on primarily fun stories…I think it’s about time to start throwing rocks at him again.

We all come up snake-eyes sooner or later, y’know….

Gotta say I’m looking forward to seeing something weightier in the book. At this point JMS needs to throw rocks at Spidey fans just to wake us the hell up. I mean, when the highlight of an issue is Aunt May bumping into some Cingular Wireless asshole in the Pick & Save checkout line, there’s a problem. JMS is capable of much better stuff.

This Has A “Rock ‘n Roll” Factor of Six Out of Ten

Authoritative Actions

The Grafiksismik Studio team of Dub (Thundercats), Pierre-Andre Dery (New Mutants) and Niko Henrichon (Sandman) did test pages for the next Authority storyline, written by Ed Brubaker (Sleeper, Catwoman). Unfortunately the group didn’t score the gig. I hear they were instead given a higher profile DC assignment based on their samples. Here’s a peek at what could have been..

I’m told DC still does not have anyone lined up for the series. Apparently Brubaker and DC have had difficulty agreeing on an artist.

Update: I asked Pierre-Andre Dery about working on a new DC project and he tells me, “We are NOT doing something for DC at the moment.”

This shocked me. Did they see those test pages???

This Has An “Angie to Hawksmoor. Trouble in Engineering” Factor of Nine Out of Ten

League of Their Own

This is a sketchy one, but I’ve been told to be on the lookout for a new JLA book written by Jim Krueger (The Clockmaker) and illustrated by Alex Ross (Mythology). Supposedly this title will be in continuity but not present day continuity. If this is true I’d expect it to be a limited series.

This Has A “New Cup of Justice” Factor of Three Out of Ten

Coming to America

I got a tip that Garth Ennis (Preacher, Punisher) will soon be making the move to the United States from Belfast, Ireland. This sort of seemed like news, so I asked Garth’s friend Jimmy Palmiotti (Monolith, Hawkman) if the relocation will have any impact on the comic book industry. “Officially, after Garth Ennis moves here to NY, I would like to announce that America is now full. Sorry everyone else, but that’s it. We are done,” Jimmy said. “We got enough problems that we don’t want yours anymore. Next boat load of Russians I see pulling up to Brighton Beach, well… unless they are my monthly order of strippers, you are going down.

“Seriously, I think having Garth here will increase the amount of booze I consume. He is one of my best friends and I can’t wait to have him around. That’s about it.”

This Has A “You Will Drink With Me, Olga” Factor of Eight Out of Ten

In the Dark

According to sources, Dark Horse Comics has absolutely nothing special planned for the release of the film “Alien Versus Predator.” Not an adaption. Not a mini-series. Fucking nothing.

If true this is the second time DHC has dropped the ball. I took a look at Quadrology, that nine-disc, “Aliens Up Your Ass” boxed set and it does not include any digital DH comics. Kind of ridiculous if you ask me.

Update: I got an email from Michael Ring, online marketing manager at Dark Horse Comics, who took exception to my rip on the Horse. He writes:

    Great column as always. It’s the first thing I read Monday morning (or Sunday evening if I have the time).

I just wanted to take issue with your “In the Dark” item from this
latest column. I can’t speak to our publishing plans for the upcoming
Aliens vs. Predator comics but I was a bit irritated with your
portrayal of our involvement on the Alien Quadrology DVD set. What you failed to mention is that we provided them with the covers and tip sheet copy (the descriptive copy used in Previews) for EVERY Aliens comic and trade paperback that we published. I should know because I was the guy that scanned and de-archived ’em all and put the whole thing together… 🙂

The other thing is that I also offered Fox anything and everything that I could (interior pages, animations, desktops/wallpapers, etc.) and Fox declined. This is their DVD, after all, not ours. We have no say on what they put on their DVD set. We all would have loved it if they would have let us provide them with “digital comics” but they politely turned us down. And that’s fine. We’re happy that they included all of the great covers that have graced our Aliens comics (and hopefully made more people aware of our extensive Aliens backlist) on the Quadrology DVD set.

I felt your “In The Dark” item made it sound like we’re just stumbling around, not knowing what we’re doing when in reality, there’s a bit more to the story than you’re aware of. Not a big deal, really, but since I was personally involved I wanted to shed some light on it for you (and your readers).

After reading this I concede that I was a bit harsh on DH for Quadrology. It wasn’t their fault. I was wrong. But the Alien Versus Predator stuff.. Michael didn’t mention anything about that..

This Has A “Can’t Lead A Horse to Water” Factor of Eight Out of Ten

Silver and Gold

A few weeks ago Publisher’s Weekly reported that DC Comics and Marvel were upset about the large amount of unapproved material appearing in Arlen Schumer’s coffee-table book, The Silver Age of Comic Book Art.

Over the last few days new details surrounding the publishers’ beef have surfaced on the COMICART-L Yahoo Group, a message board dedicated to the discussion of original comic book art. Joel Adams, son of Legendary comic book creator Neal Adams, has been posting his father’s notes on the affair. Under the name lefay2000, Adams reported that Marvel and DC are threatening to sue Schumer. Adams, a friend of Schumer’s, is upset that DC and Marvel have contemplated legal action. He feels the move is an affront to the principles of “Fair Use”.

Neal’s first post appeared on Christmas day:

      You know that terrific book by Arlen Schumer,

The Silver Age of Comic Book Art


The book draws artwork from a number of artists who exemplify the 70’s in comics. Writing dramatically, Arlen utilizes artwork printed in DC Comics and Marvel Comics equally.

He uses the artwork under the principle of ‘Fair use’.

That is, it would be wrong, if he used a big picture of Batman on the cover, or he printed full stories in such a way that the buyer might be confused that it’s a DC Comic or might purchase it to actually read the comic book story. Rather “Fair use” would demand the work be used as an example to make the point the author is writing about. Most books on comics do this. Just as Arlen’s does.

The principle of ‘Fair use’ has made it possible for us to buy and read books and magazines on comics from dozens of publishers.

Well DC and Marvel have quietly hired another law firm, not their own, to threaten and possibly sue Arlen.

Why are they doing this…Let me guess:

A) To challenge the law?
B) They have a lot of money and they are just bullies?
C) They hold a grudge against Arlen because he called his studio with his lovely wife, “Dynamic Duo”? It bitched DC out, and now they’ve dragged Marvel into their vendetta against Arlen.
D) All of the above
E) None of the above

Question is, how do people feel about this attack on ‘fair use’ whether you like Arlen or not? It is dangerous. Who and what is behind it?

Arlen has been attacked and he’s been so beat up by these people that he’s at his wits end. Are these people using Arlen??? to get at other publishers and fanzines and attack the ‘Fair use’ principle in law?

In a follow-up message dated December 25, 2003 at 3:00 PM, Adams revealed more information about Schumer‘s struggle.

    Nobody’s an angel, yes?

Apparently this has been going on for months. Letters. No legal action yet.

I, Neal, only heard rumors and kept my nose out `til two days ago, then called Arlen. He’s deep in the shit. Now I’m telling you guys, right or wrong,

I’ve run into this kind of thing where the attacked individual almost goes into hiding and doesn’t reach out. I berated Arlen for his silence and asked him if I can talk this up. Nor am I a pro at talking this up. I’m simply worried and sharing.

I have more details. Arlen has only been talking to a lawyer, his agent, and the publisher, all of which defend his position…but (1) point out he doesn’t have the money to fight it, and (2) want this possible series of books to go on. Sssso…

DC and Marvel seem to want the series to go on, “it seems”, as well. They want royalties and they want Arlen to surrender “Fair use”.

Now here’s the twist in Arlen’s tail. 3 or 4 years ago, DC messed with Arlen on “Dynamic Duo”. In my view inappropriately because they (1) never registered “Dynamic Duo” in any way and, (2) were rapidly moving away from this phrase, (3) Arlen and his wife never proposed they were Batman and Robin, merely that they did comic art for advertising and there were two of them, (4) the law was on Arlen’s side.

Instead of taking it to court as Arlen might have done, Arlen folded and signed a paper. Did he let me or anyone else review the paper? No!!

Within it he agreed not to take advantage of ‘fair usage’

Arlen didn’t know those words were there and on advise he would have struck them, but he didn’t. It’s an example of the fear and imbalance threatened legal action throws civilians into.

In fact, he didn’t realize he’d signed away this right until the shit hit the fan. When his current lawyer finally saw it he had a hemorrhage.

A lawyer explained this to me, that (Okay, I can see the fur fly) one can’t easily sign away a right that is guaranteed by law, nor is it correct for someone to require you to, (like signing up to be a slave) especially if you were not properly represented.

Though I condemn DC for slipping it into the paper, Arlen signing it is…well…(fill in your own words)

As I see it this has gone pretty far down the road and though Arlen didn’t expect to be the poster boy for “fair usage”, he, in fact, is. If I were DC and Marvel, I couldn’t ask for a better patsy.

Fact is, I’m only one guy. I guess you know my vote is for Arlen because I see a big gaping hole for everyone else.

This Has A “Duocracy, Chum” Factor of Seven Out of Ten

Time Can Do So Much

I’m told DC’s new Superman revamp will be based on an event that alters the past and creates three separate timelines, giving the creators on each book complete freedom to write the stories they want without worrying about continuity.

My source says the Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee Superman will operate in a world without Lois Lane. She’ll be dead, allowing for more violent and dark yarns. In the Chuck Austen and Ivan Reis Action Comics it will pretty much be the status quo. Lois is alive and she’s married to Superman/Clark Kent. In Adventures of Superman written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Matthew Clark, Lois and Clark aren’t married and she doesn’t know about his secret identity. This book will apparently revive the love triangle concept.

All three Supermen will live in Metropolis simultaneously, but will have no knowledge of the alternate timelines. I hear this split will set up a big crossover at the end of 2004 pitting the three Supermen against each other.

This Has A “Seeing Triple” Factor of Five Out of Ten

Hope the holidays treated you well,


PS If anyone has any rumors, stories or news to share email me at 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.

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