Welcome back to another edition of ATR. We?ve got a lot to talk about this week, so moving right along?


For the last few weeks, there have been some wild rumors about an unauthorized biography of John Byrne, which is supposedly in the works. And there may be something to those rumors. Earlier this week, ?Matt?, a member of Byrne?s message board sent in the following message:

      Some members (and ex-members who wish to remain anonymous) are putting together an unauthorized biography (partially) of John Byrne based on our meetings with him, and a lot of his past writing and posts.


    It won?t focus on his comics but rather his life story, including:

    • His Financial Success
    • His Greatest Accomplishments In and Outside the Comic Book Fields
    • His Anger At the Comic Industry For Not Giving Him His Dues
    • His Disappointment That His Comics Don?t Sell As Well Anymore
    • His Fighting With Jim Shooter, Joe Quesada and Chris Claremont
    • His Enemies (Real and Perceived)
    • His Inability To Get Recent Creator Owned Projects Published (You Go Ghoul)
    • His Resentment of British Creators Who Get All the Press and Choice Contracts

?Matt?s? original e-mail as sent to me also included details on Byrne?s personal life, some of which were quite shocking, in terms of how much information they?ve been able to get from Byrne. ?Matt? goes on to say that the book should be complete by Fall 2005 will be available online for a small fee or will be printed to order.

Now, you might be wondering, what?s the motivation for a project like this? When I asked ?Matt?, he replied:

    This is a good publicity tool for some of us who want to get into the industry and some members want to expose some hypocrisy on Byrne?s part.

Ah? of course.

In other Byrne related rumors, there?s talk of a Generations 4 at some point in the future. And there?s also a rumor that Doom Patrol is canceled with issue 18 and that there will be no trade paperbacks of Byrne?s run on DP.

This Has A ?Et Tu, Brute?? Factor of Six Out of Ten

Trinity?s Angel

If you haven?t been reading Beau Smith?s Busted Knuckles here on SBC (and if so, why the hell aren?t you reading it?!) then you might have missed this bit from his ?Five Manly Questions With? Amanda Connor? last Monday:

In the interview, Connor stated that she has just finished working on ?a Marvel mini-comic that?ll be inserted into the Blade Trinity DVD.? According to some of the ensuing rumors, the mini-comic will focus on Jessica Biel?s character, Abigail Whistler.

This Has A ?Doe-Eyed WB Doll? Factor of Eight Out of Ten

The Superboy That Wouldn?t Die

The rumors of new Superboy series have been surprisingly persistent. Some well placed sources have reiterated that it?s in the works. But equally well placed sources are saying that it?s not happening.

Honestly, I?m not sure which way this is going to fall.

This Has An ?Insect Queen? Factor of Five Out of Ten

Moon Over Parma

I?ve heard that Jonathan and Joshua Luna are well under way with their follow up to Ultra. Their new project is an open-ended maxi-series called Girls and it?s not a superhero title. Instead it?s a multi-genre story with elements of adventure, romance and supernatural horror.

Girls will be published by Image Comics and is tentatively set for May.

This Has A ?Trouble With Girls? Factor of Nine Out of Ten

Song of Sonja

With the success of Dark Horse?s Conan revival, it?s not surprising that Robert E. Howard?s Red Sonja is also making a comeback. While Howard originally created Red Sonja for a short story, creators like Roy Thomas, Barry Windsor-Smith and Frank Thorne developed her most popular incarnation at Marvel. And now, Dynamite Entertainment is set to launch the first Red Sonja ongoing series in almost 20 years. Recently, I had a chance to speak with the co-writers of the new series, Michael Oeming and Mike Carey:

Blair Marnell: How did you two end up together on this project?

Michael Oeming: I believe Carey was on board first, but didn?t know if he could do it- so Dynamite suggested he work with someone. It didn?t take long to discover that Carey and I working together was magic. I write with raw energy, Carey is full of depth and experience, we compliment each other nicely.

Mike Carey: I’m not sure of the exact sequence of events. I think it’s possible that Michael and I were each sounded out separately first. I wasn’t in a position where I could take it on by myself, in any case, and I guess Michael wasn’t either. But when Dynamite raised the possibility of us co-writing it, I went for it very happily. I figured if we actually hit it off creatively, that would be a great way to do it – to spread the load. And as it turned out, Michael is one of the easiest guys to work with on the whole planet. It’s great riffing ideas with him, and I think the partnership brings out the best in both of us.

MO: And we seem to get along great. What I like best is when I have an idea that I don?t know how to express, Carey can bring it to the surface and explore it.

BM: What’s your take on Sonja? Who is she to you?

MC: I see her as someone who’s scarred by her past and understands herself very badly – very imperfectly. Like Conan, she’s not given to introspection. Unlike Conan, she’s got this weight of trauma inside her, and I think it influences her actions in ways she doesn’t understand because she doesn’t question. She wants to be strong, but hates those who misuse their strength: she both pities and despises the weak, and maybe on some level even fears them because they remind her of her own past. She’s a rich and strange character – very stark and simple on the surface, but with all her depths concealed.

MO: Yeah, she’s driven by a childhood trauma and a mythical experience with an unnamed goddess. But she’s no hero, I don?t think she does right for the sake of right as much as fighting evil puts her in that position. She hates power and the abuse of it.

BM: How does this Sonja relate to her previous incarnations?

MO: We look at Roy Thomas’s work as the roots of Sonja, from which we are allowing ourselves to develop her as our own incarnation of her.

MC: I think we’re filling in the gaps, to a large extent. Sonja has often been defined in terms of what she does, rather than what she is: there’s lots of room to explore her character without treading on any past continuity. We launch off from what’s already known about Sonja, and I think we draw in detail that wasn’t there previously – but we do it with respect to the classic rendition of the character.

MO: This isn?t retcon, it?s growth.

BM: Does this series share any continuity with the previous series?

MO: Just the world, the Hyborian world, and any of Howard?s characters.

MC: Yes and no. The setting is the same, obviously: this is still “an age undreamed of”, the Hyborian world of Conan, and Sonja is very much the Sonja we know from previous stories in the canon. We’re not leaning hard on previous continuity, though, except that there may be some familiar faces cropping up here and there. Certainly there’s no sense in which knowledge of Sonja’s previous exploits is necessary to enjoy and understand this series. Long-standing readers will see some Easter eggs – it’s more on that level.

BM: On this series, you?ve got Mel Rubi on art, with Richard Isanove and Caesar Rodriguez providing the colors. Tell us about their contributions to the book.

MO: The pages are amazing. They capture a perfect balance of commercial works and fantasy atmosphere. The colors are married to the story, tones reflect that.

MC: Mel has done a great job, I think, both in terms of handling Sonja as a character and in creating the right mood and feel for the world we’ve written. He’s also created some very believable and compelling settings.

BM: What’s the story about in the Zero issue?

MC: What we wanted to do here was to set up a short, free-standing incident – almost a self-contained scene – which would just encapsulate Sonja and her world. It’s like the overture in a musical.

MO: It?s an intro to Sonja, and it ties in with the series without being dependent on it. We introduce not just Sonja, but some elements that become the theme of the series overall.

MC: Having said that, though, it’s not quite as free-standing as it seems to be at first: there are threads running through which tie it to the larger arc that follows.

BM: Can you tell us about Sonja’s supporting cast?

MO: There is a messenger, a priest, a set of warriors and a tribe of warrior men. None of whom are who they really seem to be. It takes a lot to hang with Sonja, she’s not exactly friendly, so anyone who does can talk the talk and walk the walk. Osin is a character I based on the Celtic hero whom the Irish Osianic Cycles are based on. He’s a great warrior, but nothing like Conan, we won?t be doing any Conan clones in Sonja, we have too much respect for Howard?s work as well as current DH book and ourselves to do something like that. We are playing with the ideas of race and xenophobia and how that effects cultural structure in Sonja’s world.

BM: What are your plans for Sonja down the line in this series?

MO: There is a force that is imposing itself over the land slowly, what this force is and what it wants will slowly be revealed to us as Sonja’s journey unfolds. Along the way is where we have the bulk of our stories.

MC: There’s kind of an arc story that we’re building up, where Sonja faces a number of unrelated threats and becomes aware in doing so that there’s a larger crisis pending. Bear in mind, of course, that we’re not portraying her as someone with straightforward, altruistic motives who would automatically see a situation like that as something that she should step into. But she *does* get involved, and unwillingly becomes a sort of bulwark between this evil and its objects.

Red Sonja # 0 hits in April, with the ongoing series following in June.

This Has A ?She-Devil With A Sword? Factor of Ten Out of Ten

Crossing Over

Speaking of Mike Carey, he is coming onboard Ultimate Fantastic Four for a two issue story with Jae Lee. Apparently there was some confusion as to whether this would be before or after Mark Millar and Greg Land?s run on UFF. However, Millar was quick to explain:

      Yeah, the way the schedule worked out Greg would be finishing


      and need to have his first


      in about three weeks later. He can do eleven books a year, but if we buy him a couple of months it means we don’t even have the RISK of a fill-in for the twelve issue run.


    Mike Carey and Jae will graciously help us out by doing a two-parter (issues 19 and 20) and I’ve asked Mike to include a two page sequence at the end that neatly segues into my opening arc. I’m really, really, really excited about this run. I’ve written the first two issues already and I don’t want to write anything else. I’m really enjoying myself that much (much more than I even expected). You’ll see what I mean, but Cross-Over is going to be HUGE.

This Has A ?N-Zone? Factor of Eight Out of Ten

No Place For A Street Fightin? Man

During an interview in last week?s ?Quesadarama? event, Greg Pak mentioned that he is working on a miniseries called Marvel Nemesis: The Imperfects, which is being developed in association with EA as a lead in to an upcoming video game. This led to a new round of speculation in the dedicated gaming press. The working theory is that this is the official title of the Marvel vs. EA video game, which was announced last year. That game is said to be a fighter with gameplay similar to EA?s Def Jam: Fight for NY.

With the game scheduled for this Fall, and the E3 coming up in a few months, we should know more about the game soon.

This Has A ?House of Pain? Factor of Seven Out of Ten

Hunter of Evil? Stuff

The webcomic, Van Von Hunter is set to make the jump into print later this year from Tokyopop. And it?s been an interesting journey along the way, as Van Von Hunter co-creator, Ron Kaulfersch elaborates:

      I suppose it’s best to start off with how Pseudome Studio became involved with Tokyopop. Basically, back in 2002, we had heard about Tokyopop’s first Rising Stars of Manga competition. In fact, we knew about it for months before the final deadline. However, we were working on a rather large project for a client at the time and it didn’t look like it was going to be done until December of that year. As luck would have it, we finished a little early. Even so, we only had about four weeks before the deadline.


      We had been producing our

Van Von Hunter

      webcomic since the beginning of 2002. Since it was a simple enough concept (and because we had no time left to mull over a new story), we decided to adapt it for the competition. With about three weeks left, we cranked out our entry and finished in the nick of time. A couple of months later, we received a call from Jill Freshney at Tokyopop letting us know that Van Von Hunter had made the final cut. A couple of weeks after that, we received a call from their editorial staff letting us know that we won FIRST PLACE! Um, which was really second place.


      A few months after that, in 2003, we went to San Diego Comic Con and met with Jeremy Ross and Mark Paniccia. We spoke about providing them with a full blown series for the 2004-2005 timeframe. And so, here we are in 2005 with

Van Von Hunter volume 1

      poised to be released.


      As for

Van Von Hunter

      itself, be it the webcomic version, or the dead tree version, the core essence of it is parody. Obviously, since we prefer the Japanese manga style, our primary focus is lampooning various anime and manga. However, it?s important to note that we don?t specifically single out a series and point out its foibles. That would severely limit the people that we could appeal to. Rather, we take note of various scenarios, and point out any logic flaws. By reducing things to generic terms, we can more easily string together a multitude of gags and comedy beats for use in

Van Von Hunter



      Of course, our focus isn?t limited to just anime and manga. Anything in American pop culture that has a glaring logic flaw is fair game. TV, movies, video games, books, fantasy, sci-fi; they?re all potential targets. Why, we even have a gag derived from

Star Trek: Nemesis

      (okay, so it?s not exactly hard to make fun of that movie, but still?it illustrates our diversity)!



      All that said, the general premise of the story of

Van Von Hunter

      is that the mighty warrior and hunter of evil?stuff, Van Von Hunter goes around the land looking for evil to smite. But more often than not he wins by pointing out the fundamental problems with the villains? plans, rather than exchanging blows.


      The dead tree version (simply called

Van Von Hunter volume 1

      ) is a little more structured than the webcomic. It takes place three years after the webcomic?s storyline ends and is thus, all original material, separate from the webcomic.


      The deposed, former ruler of the evil land of Dikay has returned to reclaim his throne. Unfortunately for him, in the intervening years, Dikay has been made a shining example of peace and tranquility by the goodly King Utmos. Van Von Hunter, who has been questing in vein these last three years for something evil to smite, returns to his ancestral home, only to learn of a menacing plot that is about to be unleashed by the former ruler of Dikay. Thrilled by the prospect of thwarting impending doom, Van Von Hunter has to enlist the aid of his former sidekick who has been lost in an amnesiatic fog these last three years. But as luck would have it, she?s been living next door to the Von Hunter estate this entire time. After some?minor hardships, they team up with a new ally, and sally forth to do battle with the deposed prince and save Dikay in the process.


      And finally, we have some technical details, if anyone is interested? Of course, the webcomic version of

Van Von Hunter

      can be found at


    . And the dead tree version comes out May 10, 2005.

This Has A ?Flaming Prince? Factor of Nine Out of Ten

Dead is Dead, Eh?

Sorry people, no CapvsBats parody this week. But if you like Cap?s stuff, you?ll probably like this: a short animated clip of the X-Men as they contemplate their strange relationship with death.

Check it out here: http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/218160

This Has A ?Life After Death? Factor of Eight Out of Ten

The Moth Prophesies

Here?s the cover for the upcoming trade paperback of Steve Rude?s The Moth. Enjoy.


That?s all folks. Special thanks to John for keeping his ear to the ground. Much appreciated, as always.

One more thing? Happy Birthday Jim!


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