Only 2 weeks left until the holidays, I?ve got to put down my stash of comics, finish these columns and start some gift shopping!

Roll Out

I?m hearing rumors of a Transformers / Avengers crossover coming out next summer, just in time for the new live action Transformers movie. No word on who the creators are yet, but scripts are being worked on as we speak.

This Has A ?Remember When Spider-Man Guest Starred In Transformers Issue 3?? Factor Of Seven Out Of Ten

Ladies Night

Greg Rucka and Joe Benitez will be working on a five issue arc of Superman / Batman with a twist: it will feature a team up between Supergirl and the new Batwoman (who was introduced in 52).

This Has A ?You Go Girl? Factor Of Nine Out Of Ten

Stepping Up

Everyone remembers the dispute and harsh words between Steve Niles and Matt Busch ? I do not want to get into that again (the details can be found here) ? but there seems to be a peace offering that was posted by Matt on his livejournal that I think deserves to be heard:

A public apology.

    Okay, I said I’d never talk about this fiasco again, but this will (finally) put an end to all of the drama that was started earlier this year. It’s been over 9 months since it all began, and my life is much different now than it was then.

**STEVE NILES. I want to publicly apologize to you for my craziness earlier this year. As everyone knows, I was going through a rough time. Hell, couldn’t eat, sleep, sometimes I coudn’t even walk! Mixed with projectile vomit and hallucinating, it’s safe to say that I was temporarily insane. However, hindsight is 20/20, and it would have been better if I kept my personal business personal. I know you were going through issues of your own, so I’m sure any drama I caused wasn’t making your life any easier.**

I also want to apologize to anyone and everyone close to Steve. It was a hard time for all parties involved, and as you all know, when we go through these hard times, the loved ones close to us get dragged down in the mess. It’s been a shitty year, but things are looking up for everyone, and I hope it stays that way.

Lastly, I want to apologize to the comic book / entertainment industry / or anyone who got sucked into this drama, including you folks reading this right now. Some folks heard about all of this and sided with me, some sided with Steve, and some were repulsed by the whole thing and ended up disliking both of us. It’s stupid. It was stupid then. It’s even stupider (word?) looking back at it now.

Most of you reading my journal are MY friends, so I don’t know how far this will reach, but to anyone I either purposely or inadvertently swayed to not like Steve, I think you guys can open up and realize that in the end, there is no damage here. I have moved on, so has he, and you should like an artist or writer for their work, not dirty laundry in their personal lives. The same goes for me, and I would ask that of Steve’s fans.

Anyway, after this year, I’m looking forward to a drama-free 2007. I hope you’ll all join me. And I hope you ALL except my apology.

Matt Busch

This Has A ?Spirit Of The Season? Factor Of Nine Out Of Ten

When Is A Fake Truly A Fake?

Last week on ATR, we reported that Alan Davis was warning buyers about some of his artwork that was printed out, inked by amateurs and sold as original Alan Davis art.

Since we posted that article, we?ve received numerous emails from fans who have been similarly gypped. Some of the ?fake? art floating around includes John Byrne commissions (pencil scans inked and colored by the seller and not by John Byrne) of Marvel and DC characters.

This Has A ?Caveat Emptor? Factor Of Eight Out Of Ten

They Were Simpler Times? Or Were They?

Over on his livejournal, Typolad has been on a roll recently, scanning and posting cringe worthy comic book panels from yesteryear (along with his hilarious comments). Here are some of the gems he?s dug up:

Click the link for a really good laugh. Keep them coming Typolad.

This Has A ?They Had To Know What They Were Doing? Factor Of Ten Out Of Ten


Christos Gage is working on a 3 issue mini series featuring the X-Men that ties into Marvel?s World War Hulk event.

This Has A ?I Don?t Like Him When He Gets Angry? Factor Of Ten Out Of Ten

First Blood

David Morrell (First Blood, Creepers) is currently working on a Captain America mini series for Marvel comics that will be released in Spring 2007. He took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about it:

ATR: Tell our readers about the genesis of the Captain America project – how did you get the project at Marvel?

DM: In April of 2005, Andy Schmidt, an editor at Marvel, got in touch with me, wondering if I?d be interested in writing something for them. He was particularly interested in having the creator of Rambo write a story for Captain America, two military icons coming together as it were. I?m always looking for new ways to tell stories, so I immediately agreed. The next question was, ?Could a novelist manage the economy of narrative that is inherent in the comic-book form?? Would I be able to emphasize visual movement rather than plaster a lot of dialogue on the page? Fortunately, I also write screenplays and have been a member of the Writers Guild since 1979, so I understood what was necessary. Comic books are stop-action story telling. In that regard, they are like the storyboards that film directors use when developing a project. Andy sent me some sample comic-book scripts. I loved the format and went to work, writing the first of the six projected episodes, even though I didn?t have a contract. I wanted to prove to myself and to Andy that I wouldn?t give him a lot of static dialogue scenes. In fact, I wanted so much to do the project that I wrote two episodes without a contract. When Andy and Marvel saw what I wanted to do, they became committed to the project.

ATR: Are you/have you been a reader of comic books? Any titles you’ve enjoyed in the past? What are you reading now?

DM: I?m old enough to have bought the EC Comics line back in the 1950s. Tales From The Crypt. The Vault Of Horror. The Haunt Of Fear. The original MAD. I was a devoted comics reader until the government decided that the stories were too strong and ordered the industry to denature itself. Thereafter comics weren?t as interesting, and I drifted away. At the time, there was a comics store near where I lived that bought and sold used comics. If you brought in 3, you were allowed to take home 1?something like that. If you wanted others, you paid a fee that was less than the cover price. Every Thursday, I used to go there and bring home a stack. Back to the topic of EC, I was one of the first to buy the uncolored boxed sets of the classic series when Russ Cochran reissued them. They fill up a big shelf. What great story telling.

As for contemporary comics, it goes without saying that I?m a fan of Captain America. and Spider-Man. The darker versions of Batman. Basically, the usual favorites. I tend to like stories that emphasize characters as much as action, which is why I?m a fan of Max Allan Collins and especially of his illustrated novel The Road To Perdition.

ATR: Why Captain America? Do you have a fondness for the character? Is there a particular element of his mythos you wanted to explore?

DM: Andy Schmidt sent me a lot of Captain America stories so I could re-acquaint myself with the character?s origins and understand how he developed over the years. I became fascinated that Steve Rogers was frail, the least likely person in the test group to become Captain America. It?s almost as if will power and strength of character were the deciding factors. It isn?t easy for Steve Rogers to be Captain America. It takes a constant push. As I studied the character?s history, I began to wonder about the burden of a lifetime of being Captain America. What price did Steve Rogers pay? That train of thought ultimately led me to my theme?the weight of being a superhero in today?s troubled world, especially a superhero named after the United States.

ATR: How do you see Captain America as a character? A man out of time/place with the modern world? A soldier? The spirit of America? What is your take on him?

DM: I think Captain America is as timely as ever. The world is in terrible shape. Everything seems so out of control that maybe only a superhero like Captain America can make things right. But at what cost to him? That?s what I wanted to explore. Courage, honor, loyalty, sacrifice. Those are the four main military virtues. Really, though, they should be everyone?s virtues. In my story, I dramatize how fervently Captain America believes in them and how deeply he wants everyone else to believe in them.

ATR: In your view, does Captain America present the opportunity to discuss various social and political events in the US via this story?

DM: Although the story is set in what amounts to Afghanistan, I didn?t want to get into specific current political issues because, as time moves on, stories rooted in specific situations and controversies become dated. Ideally a story should remain as fresh in fifty years as the day it was written. But I nonetheless addressed various themes about what I see as a splintering of the world and a need to go back to the ideals of sharing and cooperating. As I said earlier, the themes of courage, honor, loyalty, and sacrifice are paramount in the story.

ATR: Can you tell is a bit about the plot? What is the set up for the story? Who are the antagonists? When does it take place?

DM: The storytelling in me is reluctant to give away plot points. But I?m comfortable saying that my intention was to make the reader believe that there is a real Captain America and that the character is extremely complex. We are moved by his plight. Indeed some readers have felt tugs at their tear glands. Parts of the original Captain America origin story are reinterpreted so that we understand his interior conflicts better. For example, it always troubled me that during the big experiment when Steve Rogers becomes Captain America and the Nazi assassin shots the professor, Captain America gets so furious that he hurls the assassin against the race machine and destroys it, thus making it impossible to create another Captain America. The story investigates the implications of that.

ATR: Can you tell us a bit about the supporting cast? Will you be using regulars from the Captain America series (The Falcon, Sharon Carter, Shield, etc)?

DM: There?ll be none of the traditional supporting cast, except for the characters who appeared in the first issues?the professor, the general, the colonel, and Bucky. Don?t worry?Bucky isn?t being resurrected. But Captain America does provide his thoughts about them and in the process reveals important points about his character. There is a new character. however, a Marine corporal whose name is James Newman and whose live is significantly changed by his contact with Captain America.

ATR: Any other comic book characters you would like to work on?

DM: Marvel liked my work on Captain America enough to ask me to a story about Spider-Man. This will be a stand-alone, probably 48 pages. I?m very excited to work with another comic-book icon, and once again the story will be about the identity of the character.

ATR: Any other projects you have coming up you’d like to plug?

DM: My recent novel CREEPERS is now in paperback. ?Creepers? is a nickname for urban explorers?history and architecture enthusiasts who infiltrate old buildings that have been sealed and abandoned for decades. Many old buildings still have the original furniture. Entering them has an eerie time-warp effect that can be very compelling. If you?ve never heard of urban explorers, you might be surprised that it?s a worldwide cultural phenomenon. Google the topic, and you?ll get over 300,000 hits. There are groups in just about every country. You can bet that the city where you live has at least one group. CREEPERS takes place in an eight-hour period during which five urban explorers enter the long abandoned, once-famous Paragon Hotel and discover that the darkest secrets live in places they?re not supposed to be. It?s a thriller that feels like a horror novel. The tone is eerie enough that, even though there isn?t anything supernatural, you swear there is. I guess that?s why the Horror Writers Association gave it the Bram Stoker award for best novel of 2005. I had so much fun writing an eerie thriller that I decided to do another one. It?s called SCAVENGER, a desperate high-tech scavenger hunt for a hundred-year-old time capsule. Vanguard Press will publish it in March of 2007.

This Has A ?The War Never Ended For Me? Factor Of Ten Out Of Ten

That?s it for this week ? thank you to everyone who sent items in. It is much appreciated!

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