Coming Into Focus

Following Mark Millar?s comments last week on Fanboy Radio, speculation has been rampant as to which title he will take over: Thor, Fantastic Four, or Hulk. However, there was at least one creator who took exception to his remarks, incoming Hulk writer, Peter David:

      So a writer who shall go nameless (because, y’know, why afford him or her the publicity) announced on a radio program that my run on


    will absolutely end after the current six issues to make way for a “new creative team.”

I’ve spoken with Tom Brevoort because this was news to me. Tom had previously been contacted by other netfolks and had been judicious in his answers because it was news to him as well and he wanted to do just what I was doing: Check with his higher ups to see if it was true.

Long story short: Absolutely nothing has changed from what I told you months ago. I’m on the series for six issues. We’re going to see what the numbers are like. We’re going to see how all parties feel about my staying on board after that.

I can tell you this: Both Marvel and I are looking for a clear signal from the fans. If the numbers are there, that’s one signal. If they’re not, that’s another. So in large measure, it remains up to you.

Millar?s response:

      Hey! In NYC and just spotted this. PAD has completely misunderstood. When I said




      , and


    all have new creative teams coming up he’s, er ONE of them. His run hasn’t actually started yet.

For those of you keeping score at home, the most prevalent rumors have been linking Millar to the Thor relaunch for an 8 to 12 issue run. With David on Hulk for at least six issues, that leaves only the FF. Now, there have been a few rumors that the new FF writer will be a ?Hollywood screenwriter? who is new to comics. Other rumors have centered on J. Michael Straczynski as the new FF writer. Those rumors got a boost this week when Straczynski revealed that he will be writing both an ongoing series and a six-issue miniseries. The six-issue mini is probably the Silver Surfer project Straczynski mentioned back in August, while the ongoing series is presumed to be the FF.

This Has A ?Cosmic Rays? Factor of Eight Out of Ten

Counting Down

It?s the cover that launched a thousand rumors?

This is the Jim Lee and Alex Ross cover for the upcoming DC Countdown one shot (pencils and paints comparison shamelessly swiped from Jim Lee?s blog).

The cover was leaked only a few days ago and there are already numerous theories about the identity of the person in Batman?s arms, running the gamut from Nightwing, Flash (Barry Allen) to an alternate Earth version of Batman himself. Lee even hints that the cover was designed to encourage speculation, in which case, he succeeded.

Countdown is heavily rumored to lead into next summer?s Crisis 2, which incidentally is also said to feature Jim Lee & Alex Ross covers.

This Has A ?Psycho Pirate? Factor of Seven Out of Ten

Red Horizon

Earlier this week at his Yahoo group, Adam Hughes posted a few cover prelims for a new Red Sonja project coming out from Dynamic Forces in 2005.

Additionally, Hughes confirmed that he is the new cover artist for Catwoman.

This Has A ?Flagon of Ale? Factor of Nine Out of Ten

Agit for the Never-Believer

Phil Hester and John McCrea?s upcoming Image project, The Atheist has been garnering a great deal interest as of late. The Atheist is about a government agent who takes on the restless spirits of the dead and other supernatural forces, as Hester elaborates:

      Antoine Sharpe (The Atheist) is a direct descendant of one of my earlier creations-

The Wretch

      . I did that book in the 90’s for Caliber and SLG and it was a storyteller’s paradise.

The Wretch

      had no history, no background, no limitations. I could introduce literally anything into the strip (Satan, hypnotic Pez dispensers, child-eating playground equipment, a Galactus-like being who could be defeated only by a Vonnegut quoting See-N-Say, and so on) and it would be par for the course. Unfortunately, The Wretch was also mute, so some of the more complex concepts that normally would’ve been welcomed in

The Wretch

      were just too tough to get across without a lot of expository dialogue.

The Atheist

    is my chance to tackle some of those off kilter science fiction and horror concepts with a main character capable of explaining it all out loud.

Sharpe himself is an off the charts genius. So perceptive that his gifts fall somewhere between brilliance and autism, he is stimulated by intellectual challenge alone. He’s a misanthrope who finds pleasure in saving the day only when it will provide him with intriguing mental exercise. His government handlers, put off by his cold, emotionless demeanor refer to him as The Atheist. Think Dr. Who as an asshole.

The most interesting dynamic in the book comes from the fact that Sharpe is an entirely rational being who keeps being thrown into situations where rational thought is not only inadequate, but an out and out liability. He has to put aside questions of his own limitations and bring his greatest weapon to bear- his mind- on the new and terrifying threats he encounters.

Also, John McCrea can draw like a mother, so it may be worth checking out.

The Atheist #1 hits in February 2005.

This Has A ?Ghost For The Offering? Factor of Eight Out of Ten

Stern Words

Roger Stern is a comic industry veteran with over twenty-five years of experience writing the adventures of Spider-Man, Avengers, Superman, and numerous other titles. Recently, ATR contributor, John Voulieris had a chance to catch up with Stern on a variety of topics:

John Volieris: Any upcoming comic related projects coming up? Mike Carlin dropped a hint about an upcoming JLA arc with John Byrne – how is that coming along? Would you care to elaborate on the creative process when you work with John Byrne (do you do full script or is it Marvel style)?

Roger Stern: I?m currently waiting on approval for a proposed story arc for the new JLA Classified book. Once I get the word, and find out how many issues we?re being allotted, I?ll be able to start on the plot.

And I?ve always worked plot/script or ?Marvel-style? with John. In fact, with Marvel: The Lost Generation we would discuss each issue in broad, general ideas over the phone, and then he?d go off and draw it. I?m told that Lee and Kirby used to work that way.

JV: How is it working with foreign publishers? You’ve recently completed some work on a Phantom comic for the Scandinavian publisher Egmont – how is the process different from doing comic work for the big two American publishers? Any chance we will see these issues in North America?

RS: Well, the format for European comics is quite different. There are more panels per page, and the publishers expect full scripts. That was no problem, of course; I?ve written full scripts before. But full scripts for Egmont differ from American full scripts in that the story is broken down panel by panel — but not by page! Determining where the page breaks fall is left up to the artists. My first script, for example, broke the action (for a 31-page story) down into 225 panels, and then the penciler — in that case, Dick Giordano — had to decide where to end each page.

I?ve so far written two Phantom stories, one of which I know has seen print. There is an English language edition that is published in Australia. Unfortunately, my first story was translated back into English from the Swedish version by a computer program? so it didn?t read anything like the story that I had written. I?ve since contacted the Australian editor and supplied him with the English script for my second story, for when they get around to printing it.

JV: Any new novels in the works? Do you prefer adapting existing comic book tales like the Death of Superman or original material featuring classic comic book characters in prose form?

RS: Yes, I?ve written two drafts of an original Superman/Justice League novel for Pocket Books, and am currently waiting for the copy-edits from the publisher. And having written both an adaptation and original novels, I can tell you that there are advantages — and disadvantages, of course — to both. In writing The Death and Life of Superman, the story was already there, though it was still in progress as I was writing the adaptation. With Smallville: Strange Visitors and my new novel, I had to come up with the story from scratch, but it was all my own story, to develop as I saw fit.

JV: Any comic book or non comic book related projects you would like to plug?

RS: Well, those two previous novels — The Death and Life of Superman and Smallville: Strange Visitors — are still in print, with the former available in a new trade paperback edition exclusively through Barnes & Noble. In fact, I?m proud to say that the new edition has already gone into a second printing.

I?m especially pleased that The Death and Life of Superman is on sale again in such a nice new package. In addition, there are new introductions by Mike Carlin and myself, and a new afterword by the book?s editor Charlie Kochman, telling how we originally came up with the comic book stories for the Death of Superman and his subsequent return. (No, it wasn?t a ?marketing stunt!?) Plus, I tell the wacky ?story behind the story? of how I wound up writing a 400+ page book in four and a half months.

Smallville: Strange Visitors was written under less trying circumstances, but I?m proud of it, too. Not only is it the original novel that launched the Smallville book series but the story actually fits into the first season of the Smallville television series — between the ?Zero? and ?Nicodemus? episodes.

And a number of trade paperback collections of my comic book work are still available, such as: Spider-Man: Revenge of the Green Goblin, Avengers: Under Siege, Superman: They Saved Luthor?s Brain, and Superman: A Nation Divided.

Plus, Wizard magazine has just released their hardcover Spider-Man Masterpiece Edition, which includes three of my Spider-Man stories: ?Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut? from ASM #229-230, ?Hyde & Seek? from ASM #231-232, and ?The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man? from ASM #248. The first two stories are drawn by John Romita Jr. and Jim Mooney, and the third by Ron Frenz and Terry Austin. And there are little mini-interview/essays introducing each story.

And according to, there will be a new printing of The Incredible Hulk vs. Superman in February 2005, though I haven?t yet been able to confirm that. (Does anyone know for sure?) It was great fun, writing that story and working with Steve Rude. He perfectly combined the power and dynamism of Jack Kirby?s Hulk with the fun and stylishness of a Joe Shuster/Fleisher Studios Superman, and all the while giving it his own modern spin. And, man, can he tell a story! It was such a joy working with an artist who knows how to use white space! I hope this story stays in print forever.

JV: Any characters from Marvel or DC that you have yet to work on that you’d like to tackle? Do you still regularly pitch projects to the big two? Have you sent anything in recently?

RS: There are plenty of characters that I would love to write. Dan DiDio has a couple of series springboards that I sent him; I?m still waiting to hear back from him on that.

I haven?t heard from anyone at Marvel since last March. I have heard of lot of ?I?ll get right back to you!? promises, but?

JV: Any creator owned characters you’d like to develop? Does this type of work interest you or would you rather write about the heroes and villains that you grew up reading about?

RS: It?s always fun working with classic super-heroes, but I have dozens of characters that I?ve come up with over the years. I keep looking for a publisher that will pay me to write stories about them. Maybe someday that will happen.

This Has A ?Novel Ideas? Factor of Nine Out of Ten

Expanding the Dixonverse

Over at his website, Chuck Dixon has announced that he will be writing multi-genre comics (similar to his CrossGen books) for the European company Dreamcolors:

      After months of negotiating I came to an agreement with Dreamcolors to write three series for them. They’ll appear quarterly as 66 page books in Italian and German. Not sure exactly what format they’ll be in when the UK publisher does them. Dreamcolor is the company that had the Italian language rights to Crossgen Comics and asked me if I’d be interested in creating material like

El Cazador



      , and


    for them.

The book I began working on this week is called Sword of Wood and it’s about a knight who returns from the First Crusade to find that his manor and village have fallen victim to an army of vampires and his wife and children have been carried of. The second is called Red Sails and is about piracy in the South China Sea at the time of Napoleon.

The artists will be Italian on both of these series but I haven’t seen character samples yet. We’ll post ’em here when I do. The third series is still in the talking stage but may feature art from one of my Argentine amigos.

Trust me, as soon as there’s a website for the new books and material to show you they’ll appear here. There’s also more exciting stuff coming in the next few months. I might just have to give Erik a job to keep up with the flood of new material.

However, there?s no word yet on if Red Sails or Sword of Wood will be released in the US.

This Has A ?MultiDixonVerse? Factor of Seven Out of Ten

House of Sand & Scarlet

Here?s Frank Cho’s cover for Black Panther #3, and a preview pic of House of M. from the Marvel Young Guns Sketchbook.


That?s it for this now. Special thanks to John Voulieris.

See you in seven.


PS If anyone has any rumors, stories or news to share, please email me at Thanks to everyone who has been sending stuff in. It?s greatly appreciated.

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