“You cannot be serious!”
“I can!”
“Man, you cannot be serious! Trust me.”
“I can and I will.”
“Bet you can’t?”

– Alfonso Crept talking to Preston Falco after the announcement that the latter was going to write a serious column for Silver Bullet Comics.

Hi, I’m Preston Falco and I’m filling in for the guy with the made up name this week. Obviously my name is made up as well, but I know who I am in real life and that gives me and advantage over the rest of you. You can redress the power imbalance in our cryptic little relationship (I mean between you and me, the reader and the mysterious writer) by heading over to Dynamic Forces’ website and checking out today’s Daily Special. IN DF’s FIVE STAR DC Package you’ll find: Superman, Inc. signed by Steve Vance, Jose-Luis Garcia-Lopez and Mark Farmer, Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis of Infinite Earths signed by SBC’s very own Marv Wolfman, Just Imagine Stan Lee Creating Crisis signed by John Cassaday (not at all related to SBC in anyway whatsoever), Detective Comics #750 signed by Jeff Johnson, Steve Mitchell and remarked by Dan Panosian, and JLA #61 signed by Joe Kelly. That’s some package!

Let’s get this show on the road…

DC’s Noble Cause?

Anyone reading Image’s Noble Causes? It’s a surprisingly good comic book, yet it has been criminally overlooked by the reading public. It didn’t get caught up in the furore that surrounded the launch of all the new Image superhero titles and therefore probably ended up being ignored.

Jay Faerber has woven an interesting soap opera that is only spoiled by the infrequency of issues. His artists have all been accomplished and the latest guy to draw the Noble family, former 2000AD guy Ian Richardson is undoubtedly the best of the lot so far (despite the original artist being signed by DC). But stories emanating from Image Central suggest that the book isn’t going to be renewed for a third series – sales have sucked.

Never fear, DC is here! Although nothing has been confirmed, Noble Causes is one of at least a dozen ‘independently’ operated comics titles that DC is considering offering the wing of stability to, either through WildStorm, or is widely rumoured in the creative community, a new kind of Homage Comics. If Marvel can start signing every half-baked writer for Epic series, then DC obviously knows that it might stand a better chance of success if it promotes already extant titles.

Yeah, it’s been done before – most notably by Image Comics – but if DC actually threw some of its muscle behind a title like Noble Causes it would probably be a considerable success.

Causes‘ artist Ian Richardson was seen courting Dan DiDio at the Bristol convention.

This Has A “Switching Allegiances” Factor Of Seven Out Of Ten


DC’s Other Noble Cause?

A well-known comics magazine editor and an even more well-known DC vice-president were apparently hammering out a plan on the Saturday night at the Bristol convention for DC to off-load up to a 100,000 overstocks at the DC Warrington warehouse in the North of England. However, this isn’t a deal to make someone a profit. The comics are believed to be heading for a number of charitable organisations, including the YMCA, National Children’s Homes and the NSPCC.

The editor, who said his charity work has nothing to do with his comics career, doesn’t want to be named, but the fact that he has managed to get one of the major publishers in the US to part with a lot of comics in the name of both charity and future promotion is worth applauding – whoever he is?

Why don’t more comics publishers do this? With sales at an all-time shite level and no new kids entering the fray, surely a better thing to do than these poncey Free Comics Days – which just preach to the converted anyway – would be to give unsold comics away to kids who might actually become interested and eventually could become a consumer.

This Has An “Anonymous But Righteous” Factor Of Nine Out Of Ten


Lee’s Batman Backfire

Jim Lee’s first visit to a UK Comics Festival appeared to be a good one. The artist worked his arse off to please the fans and even when faced with abusive drunken fans waving champagne bottles at him he never shook that smile off his face.

Shortly after the marvellous ‘Budgie’ Barnett’s Hypotheticals panel, I sauntered up to Jim (he knows me) and had a little chin wag with him. Nothing revelatory, but I did ask him what it was like drawing Batman, especially seeing as he was originally rumoured to draw it back when WildStorm first sold out to DC. He said, and I quote, “Easiest damn job I’ve ever had!”

The expression money for old rope springs to mind, especially as his Batman is arguably his poorest work to date.

This Has An “Anonymous But Opinionated” Factor Of Eight Out Of Ten


Marvel’s In Trouble

What is this nonsense about Trouble? A new Spider-Man series (that doesn’t feature Spider-Man) about the adventures (amorous apparently) of Uncle Ben and Aunt May Parker.

I thought Marvel was cutting edge now? Or have I mistaken them for a company that actually gives a hoot?

Surely the idea of a comics story set when May and Ben were young (presumably now the 60s instead of the 30s) would possibly work if it anyone actually really wanted it. Heck, I dunno, I just think it’ll end up with some kind of known villain or superhero popping up (Captain America or Otto Octavius being my two faves).

Is this really what the comics industry should be doing now? More tie-ins and spin-offs of already marginal supporting characters (Or in Ben’s case, dead supporting characters).

This Has A Warning Factor Of Ten Turds For Being Really Just A Load Of Old Shit


Marvel – The New DC?

A few years ago a famous gossip columnist suggested that DC’s editorial policy was “throw enough shit at the wall and some of it’s bound to stick”, and this appears to be the new expansionist Marvel policy. If Marvel actually produces some of the things I’ve heard about over the last couple of weeks then they should consider spending the money they pay Michael Doran on a Quality Control Manager.

According to some bloke I was talking to, Marvel has a number of new projects in the works that frankly make one think more of the bad old 1990s. Even Jim Starlin’s amongst the people looking at new projects. Some of the proposed Epic line (so far it looks like there’ll be about 50 Epic launches from the number of nobodies that have projects in development) include a Bruce Jones series about a nomadic good guy wandering around America – sounds like the Hulk without gamma radiation or even that Nicieza/Hawbacker series Nomad.

Speaking of one-time Valiant head honcho Nicieza, he’s working on a couple of Marvel projects, a year after admitting in an interview that he didn’t feel he was hip enough for Marvel any more. Perhaps he’s got a trendy new haircut? One of the projects will be in six-issue story arc format, with the intention for the trade paperbacks to augment sales. The series apparently isn’t your standard superhero fayre that most people are accustomed to with Fabian, but it does feature characters that X-Men readers may be very familiar with.

There’s also a rumour floating about that Joe Quesada isn’t really planning on a massive expansion for Marvel (or his own waistline for that matter). Insiders close to the pizza’d one reckon it’s all smoke and mirrors – a chance to build up the portfolio in the wake of another buy-out/company sell-out. Sounds like Jemas is finally doing what he was employed to do, make the company a saleable commodity. Of course, the people who might buy Marvel don’t have a clue about quality of product, they’ll just see what’s planned and the (obviously made up) sales forecasts for these projects and will think that the company is well passed it’s bad old bankruptcy days. Especially with the success of Marvel superhero films (of course all part of a different umbrella company…)

This Has A “Machinations AT Marvel” Factor Of Seven Out Of Ten


Winning From The Gutter?

I’ve heard from a third-party that former All The Rage writer, Rich Johnston, is about to become the Harry Knowles of the comics industry.

Knowles, the fat, bearded, sad bastard, who sits at his computer terminal and masterminds Ain’t It Cool News, has become one of the richest and most respected nerds on the internet and Rich is hoping to emulate him.

Details are sketchy, but it appears that Comic Book Resources are going to have to come up with a far better deal to keep their boy in the Gutter, because he’s being lured by filthy corporate lucre.

This Has A “Money Talks” Factor Of Six Out Of Ten


Strange?

So the Babylon 5 guru is taking on the Dark Arts? JMS has been unveiled as the man who will attempt to make Doctor Strange a success in the 21st Century.

It’s a long story… Back before Joe Quesada was in charge, Bob Harras, former Marvel #1, was desperate for Steve to be a success. Despite high profile creators, some great stories and some genuine weirdness in the Doc’s 40 year history, he’s been as popular as Nick Fury, Namor and Nova and only slightly more successful than Nomad, She-Hulk and that perennial failure Ka-Zar. Doctor Strange is just too eclectic. He’s not really got the same oomph as other characters and I think Harras realised this.

Despite Secret Defenders being worse than having a crap on 20 pints of Guinness, it was a start. Doctor Strange is essentially the Marvel Universe’s Rupert Giles (the watcher from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), he’s a mentor, the guy who should be pulling the strings, or at least guiding them. In the Secret Defenders his role was largely one of co-ordinator and that is where Marvel should have left him.

A couple of years ago, prior to the ill-fated and never-seen Witches series, a colleague of mine sent in a proposal for a new series with Steve Strange as the focal point, but not the main character. Strange Angels was going to be a rollickin’ adventure series in the mold of Charlie’s Angels, with Strange as the guy behind the scenes, while his four ‘angels’ did the bulk of the work. The Angels were going to be: Patsy Walker, Millie, Chilli Seven and Illyana Rasputin (or something very similar to her). All four were rescued by Strange from different temporal locations in Limbo and trained in different dark arts specialities. However, while the series was being considered the big editorial change happened at Marvel and the proposal was never mentioned again. Well, not until Witches was talked about.

Now, I don’t know about now, but back in the late ’90s when hot babe books were still in something of a demand, this might have been both a good idea and something in which Marvel got to use a load of existing characters rather than continue to flood the market with new ones.

JMS’ Doctor Strange might be different. But… and it’s a big BUT, even when comics were massive sellers, Strange never did it, so what chances now?

I expect the series will thrive for a while, but the momentum will not continue, with or without JMS. Magic, like Sci Fi, hasn’t ever really worked in comics. The medium demands its own distinctions and popular cross-culture material just never translates well, nor does it ever pick up the true audience. Helix never really appealed to true Sci Fi fans. Horror comics never really appeal to horror film fans and I fear that magic works in the same way.

Of course the other problem with Doc Strange is how do you make a middle-aged man appealing to teenagers – believed to still be the core audience of comics fans? You can’t. Middle-aged men make great foils, or supporting characters for dynamic leads, but not as a character that fans can readily relate to. This will only add to the chances of this being yet another Strange failure.

This Has A “Strange Days Ahead” Factor Of Eight Out Of Ten


No Shit, Sherlock!

OK, this sounds far too good to be true, especially when it’s written by one of us Spoof Central bwoys, but, the God of all that is Great and the writer who makes Alan Moore seem like the producer of Jack and Jill books could be making a comics comeback before very long.

Tony Isabella tells me that he has had a couple of offers of work back at the big guys’ – nothing concrete and nothing ongoing. Keep your fingers crossed, kiddies!

This Has A “No Bullshit” Factor Of One Out Of Ten


Hitting The Big Time

An unlikely candidate has emerged as an eventual replacement for departing Amazing Spider-Man writer J. M. Straczynski. Currently writing Tech Jacket and Invincible for Image, Robert Kirkman has become a hot property and my Marvel insider has told me that very soon Kirkman’s name will be appearing in some Marvel titles and that Joey Q sees him as a long-term replacement on the flagship title.

But why? Kirkman is an unknown and Marvel wants big stars writing their top comics. Quesada, after reading the first half a dozen issues of Kirkman’s books said to Ralph Macchio or some other editorial fawner that ‘Kirkman wrote young superheroes better than anyone since Stan Lee.’ There’s a sense of wonder in his style that has been missing from comics for many years. He dialoguing is very modern and his characters’ reactions are how you would imagine them to be.

Mark my words, Kirkman will be a big name in this industry. Even bigger than Napatanuvinishiwah Tepatatadivsharattapatel the Sri Lankan artist.

This Has A “Cricket Commentary Joke” Factor Of Nine Out Of Ten


“See? I told you you couldn’t keep it serious!”
“Oh shut up. The stuff up there is better than the stuff you normally get and on the evidence of ol’ Richie Johnstone’s recent offerings, I could make a fair crack at this gossip column bollocks.”
“Yeah, but you couldn’t keep it serious, could you?”
“Oh that was just aching for a cheap and silly joke!”
“Fair point.”
“Encounter at…”
“Nerd.”

– Preston Falco

Be back next week for the return of Markisan Naso (his real name, honest!), boozed up and ready to fight after a week on the loving embrace of the Naso clan. Remember to e-mail in all gossip, rumors, smart-alec remarks to Markisan at: markisan@silverbulletcomicbooks.com


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