I’m comfortable with the fact that this will cause me to appear foolish.
After devoting an entire column to the intense debate regarding late books, and the danger of hastily planned fill-ins…I’m taking a week off. School is providing me with a holiday break from the hellish academic grind of university life, which unfortunately decreases my writing window significantly, and signals the oncoming of those little things called finals.
The most important thing is that I’m leaving you all with a stranger at the wheel…but he’s a cool stranger, so I think you’ll arrive safely at your destination. Please reply to the Ambidextrous message boards and make him feel welcome.
Ladies and gentlemen…I give you Nate Lee. Take it away Nate…
Remember Brandon Thomas’s column about fill-in creators?
I only mention this because Mr. Thomas is currently getting his ass kicked by my (and his future) alma-mater with final exams quickly approaching, so he has asked me to be his “fill-in” for this edition of Ambidextrous.
Look around. I’m sure they’ve been around since after Labor Day. Christmas decorations (or holiday season decorations, for our non-denominational readers out there). I don’t know about you, but I’m the type of person that’s always thinking about presents and gifts, whether it’s receiving or giving them (I honestly prefer the former, and am not ashamed to admit it). And the nearer the holiday season, the more these thoughts begin working overtime.
Many would argue that Joe Quesada has given us a whole year of Christmas presents in 2001. Joe has unarguably taken a very progressive approach in the creative direction of the entire Marvel line. From JMS on Amazing Spiderman, to Grant Morrison on New X-Men, to Mark Waid on Fantastic Four, and with MAX, the Ultimates, and Marvel Knights, Joe certainly seems to be in a gift-giving mood when it comes to giving fans new directions and interesting reads.
One can’t help but wonder what sort of creative teams we would experience at the Distinguished Competition if similar sweeping changes ever occurred. Since Joe Quesada could not be reached for comment (actually, I didn’t try), I slipped on the EIC/Santa hat and decided to make a Christmas list for DC and its fans, in the tradition of the Twelve Days of Christmas.
[Before we begin, a few disclaimers: I am as big a fan of Marvel as I am of DC. A few of the books I am “proposing” creative teams for already have very talented teams in place that I am currently enjoying thoroughly. The following list, as always in an opinion column, is meant to facilitate thought and discussion. If any of the people mentioned in this list are actually reading this, please do not feel that I am trying to dictate the path of your career. And yes, I do already realize Wizard magazine has done features like this already. Where do you think I got the idea?]
Item #1: PREZ
Writer: Judd Winick
Artist: David Lapham
Why? Judd Winick, in his painfully funny Barry Ween, is good at portraying precocious characters in humorous situations. At the same time, Winick is also not afraid to tackle very human issues; I’d love to see the young Prez balance growing pains and politics with a modern and not-overly-violent twist. Prez could change the world, but not in an Authority-type fashion. David Lapham is, I believe, one of the best “plain clothes” artists (you know, not spandex), and is a fantastic storyteller in his own right, balancing both the human and outrageous.
Item #2: GCPD
Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artist: Steve Dillon
With Apologies To: Chuck Dixon, Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker
Why? Dysart has crafted a dark and dramatic story in his Violent Messiahs. The interplay of the main cast and the ensuing tension makes it as intriguing as the story of Citizen Pain himself. I envision the book as “mature readers” fare (like NYPD Blue), and Dillon would be a great fit in depicting outrageous and downright creepy police situations.
Item #3: DOOM PATROL
Writers: Joe Kelly, Steve Seagle
Artist: Chris Bachalo
With Apologies To: John Arcudi, Tan Eng Huat (my favorite new penciller)
Why? When I was reading Kelly and Seagle’s X-Men run, I was really struck by how different it was from what we saw from Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, and Chris Claremont before them. It was so bizarre and so much fun (I know I may be in a minority here, but I liked the uniqueness of Maggot and Marrow). When they left, I kept thinking they’d be perfect on a Doom Patrol revival. Joe Kelly is a big fan of the just plain bizarre (Steampunk comes to mind), and Steve Seagle’s character development (House of Secrets, Alpha Flight) would be a huge asset to the book. It also doesn’t hurt that Seagle loves third or fourth tier characters (I think I may be the only person that read Primal Force). Regarding Chris Bachalo, he has proven himself to be great at depicting heroes with not-as-flashy powers (Skin and Mondo, from Gen-X). Put these three together, and you have a great team for the original “Hard Luck Heroes”.
Item #4: HAWKMAN
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artist: Barry Windsor-Smith
With Apologies To: James Robinson, Geoff Johns, Rags Morales
Why? Every time I look at Hawkman, I see something godly and divine about him (perhaps it’s the wings?). Gaiman is known to be so thorough in his research and portrayal of mythology, and I’d love to see his invention of a mythology for Hawkman and Thanagar. And who better to illustrate a violent and majestic hero than Barry Windsor-Smith? See his work on Conan to get a hint of how cool this book looks in the mind’s eye.
Item #5: GREEN ARROW
Writer: Matt Wagner
Artist: Greg Land
With Apologies To: Kevin Smith, Scott McCullar, Phil Hester
Why? When I made a wish list of people I’d like to see on Green Arrow, I didn’t look past the cover. I realized how much I missed a Matt Wagner-written project (what was the last one? Dr. Midnite? Grendel: Red, Black, and White?). He defined and discovered a hero in Mage, and while Green Arrow may not be autobiographical for Mr. Wagner, I would find Wagner’s examinations of Ollie’s motivations and viewpoints in today’s world fascinating. Plus, I’d love to see him re-forge a (not necessarily romantic) relationship with Black Canary. And that’s where Greg Land comes in. For my money, Greg drew the definitive Canary in Birds of Prey. And he seems to draw people with bows and arrows pretty well too (see Sojourn).
Item #6: DIAL H FOR HERO
Writers: Mark Waid and Grant Morrison
Artist: Kevin Nowlan
Why? Wouldn’t you like to see a superheroic Little Nemo, full of inspiration and oddities? Mark Waid definitely has an affinity for the character, as seen in the criminally-underrated Silver Age event. His depiction of young heroes (young Wally West, Impulse, and Verityn from Crux) always makes for compelling reading. And did you ever wonder what those other symbols on the dial do? (Well, I do, but then again, I have read very little of the old Silver Age Dial H). Think of all the strangeness that could arise from that, which is why I’d put Morrison on the book as well. His master/slave alphabet from The Invisibles was one of the coolest ideas I’ve ever seen in comics. And to complete this team, I’d give the nod to Kevin Nowlan. His Jack B. Quick is charming and highly entertaining.
I see that my space is running out here. Perhaps if Mr. Thomas has not recovered from his academic afflictions by next week, he will allow me to return and finish the second half of this list (which includes a Smallville tie-in, Kid Eternity, and Wonder Woman). I’ve had plenty of fun creating these “dream teams”, and I hope you have enjoyed reading them. If you have any of your own to share or want to reply to mine, please do so on the Ambidextrous message boards.
Until then, Happy Thanksgiving,
Next time: Either Nate comes back for more, or Brandon delivers his own opinion on seven books that could invigorate DC’s line. Pray that term papers keep Mr. Thomas indisposed for another session…