Welcome back to another super-sized edition of ATR. Sit back, we?re gonna jump right in?

The Byrne Society

Word out of DC is that John Byrne will be penciling a JSA Classified arc in late 2005 or early 2006. Byrne may also be providing the plot, but reportedly will not be scripting the story. The reason for this is that DC editorial supposedly believes that Byrne can bring in more readers when paired up with another writer (like on Blood of the Demon with Will Pfeifer) than he can on his own, as evidenced by the somewhat tepid response to Byrne?s Doom Patrol series.

The writer for Byrne?s JSA Classified arc hasn?t been chosen yet, but the story is said to be set in World War 2.

This Has A ?Haunted Tank? Factor of Seven Out of Ten

Deceptive Dreams

The collapse of Dreamwave a few months ago left a number of creators in the lurch, with several thousands of dollars left unpaid to various writers and artists. And just when you thought it couldn?t get any worse? it has. Over at the Transformers 2005 message board, a poster going by the name of ?Lord Shockwave? broke the story about several former Dreamwave artists being billed by Fed-Ex for sending artwork to Canada, charges which would have ordinarily been covered by the publisher. However, the fine print of the Fed-Ex agreements signed by the artists apparently reverts the charges to the sender if the publisher doesn?t cover the costs, which in this case, they definitely have not.

At least two former Dreamwave artists have come forward to confirm this story: Guido Guidi (Transformers Armada) and Don Figueroa (Transformers Generation One), who made the following comments:

      I was actually the friend Lord Shockwave was referring to, I didn?t really want to

Air out my Dirty Laundry

      so to speak but as a concerned friend, he insisted the fandom should know about this. So at the risk of getting

Nelson Muntz-ed

    I said go ahead.

When I first started getting billed, I was surprised, pissed even. I called Fed-ex saying you’re going after the wrong guy! But it’s like talking to a robot (non-sentient ones, of course) then I took the matter straight to Pat (Lee) when I caught him on AIM (he doesn?t answer phone calls, I wonder why… he actually said he’ll “take care of it” and that was months ago. I never did actually believe he’ll do it since legally, he’s absolved of all his sins. Man! It just never ends…

This Has A ?Passing The Buck? Factor of Nine Out of Ten

The Deconstruction of Falling Stars

Remember Mongoose Publishing?s recent announcement that they had a deal in place with Warner Brothers to create new Babylon 5 novels and graphic novels? Turns out, the announcement was premature. I?ve been told that Mongoose did indeed request the license to produce the books, however WB has NOT yet given them the license, and that graphic novels might not even be a part of the final deal. From what I?ve heard, everything is still currently under discussion.

Additionally, there?s a rumor that Mongoose may not have the money or resources to pay for J. Michael Straczynski?s involvement in the new B5 comics, and without his input the stories would not be considered part of B5 canon. Which if true, is something that won?t sit well with B5 fans, who are known to be fiercely loyal to Straczynski.

When reached for comment, Tony Lee replied:

    Oh, the announcement was premature, I’ll grant you. Mongoose put it on their website after discussions with Warner and in their eyes everything was sorted – the t’s were crossed and the i’s were dotted.

As per my contract with them (following Starship Troopers), I had one more book to do – and this was to be the next license that we had. Mongoose informed me that it would be a Babylon 5 book.

Now, forward a few days. I get an email from a ‘web journalist’ (and believe me that?s a ‘loose’ term who’s heard from a source that I’m the new writer of a Babylon 5 book, that JMS hasn’t been informed, we’re going to do it without his involvement and that this piece is going on the net the following day – did I want to comment? I declined, as at this point, all I knew was that yes, there was a comic being done and yes, Mongoose had the arrangements sorted. After all, they put it on their own website – but I was just the WRITER. I had no ideas of what was going on. And by then I had already emailed JMS about the project.

The reply I got (and I won’t give his name, but to be honest, he was more ‘tabloid’ than anything else) was that if I wasn’t going to give him a quote then he’d just put it out there in his own words ? words that were deliberately aimed to cause friction and harm the book. He sent me a copy of the piece, and it was incredibly and in my opinion overly harsh, inaccurate and biased. He had a scoop, but rather than wait for the full story and possibly lose out to some of the others, he wanted it out there. He wanted the infamy.

So I decided that if we were going to take flack, we’d at least have the right message out to take flack on. I posted on my blog the facts that I knew.

Newsarama and THE PULSE found it and ran with it.

Now since that announcement I’ve spoken with the fans – not as an employee of Mongoose, but as a writer. I’ve also spoken to Joe, and we’ve discussed the graphic novel. It’s true that Joe might not be as hands on as the fans want, but this is due to his current workload, the comics he already has to write – and is also due to the fact that Fiona Avery’s going (I believe) to be the liaison that ensures canon in the stories, and JMS trusts her implicitly, and will be kept in the loop at all times to alter things as he sees fit.

Whether Mongoose was wrong to announce early, I have no idea. But I can tell you that from my end I was informed that it was going ahead, JMS was aware of it to the point that he knew Fiona was liaison and that I have said on boards and to JMS himself that if he doesn’t have an involvement in the creative process, even if it’s to take my plot suggestions and ensure that I’m running the right direction – that I will not do the books and walk off the project. I respect Joe too much to ‘stiff’ him on his creation.

Warner might need more t’s and i’s worked on, I don’t know. But everyone in the loop is aware that these are an ongoing process, and that it’s more likely a ‘when’ than ‘if’.

Let Mongoose do their magic. Let me work with Joe and Fiona and tell a story that entertains you. Mongoose have had a long relationship with both Warner and JMS and are one of the most ethical publishers I know.

This Has A ?Talking To Vorlons? Factor of Eight Out of Ten

Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow?

The buzz on the Superman II: Restored International Cut DVD just keeps on growing, but it?s starting to get out of hand. The television series Celebrity Justice picked up the story earlier this week, airing a report on the RIC that had same glaring errors. The most serious error was when the report named the webmaster of Superman Cinema as the fan ultimately behind the RIC. To which, he replied:

    People think that I was giving these DVDs away for free! I categorically deny that I was giving them away for free! Reporters say that I produced this restored cut of the TV edit! I DID NOT produce the project; a talented individual restored the film from VHS tapes; I was merely involved in the publicity but I wasn’t distributing. The editor wanted this thing out there and hopefully people could supply free copies.

It’s unfortunate that the magazine and TV reporters couldn’t check with me before committing to final print.

To counter the misinformation, the web master has put up a Superman II: RIC Frequently Asked Questions list here: http://www.supermancinema.co.uk/superman2/real_s2/ric/s2ric_faq.asp.

By the way, does anyone else find it interesting that the two mass media outlets (Entertainment Weekly and Celebrity Justice) that picked up this story are both owned by Warner Brothers?

In other RIC related news, I received a TON of e-mails following last week?s story. And I haven?t had time to respond to everyone yet, so I?ll take the chance to answer two of my frequently asked questions:

Q: Does the Superman II: RIC have the lost Marlon Brando footage?

A: No, it doesn?t. It only has the longest cut of the movie that was broadcast on TV close to twenty years ago. No one outside of Warner Brothers and the filmmakers have seen the Brando footage, though Bryan Singer is said to be using some of Brando?s unused Jor-El scenes in Superman Returns. The IMDB even mentioned that recently. If you want to know what was specifically in the original televised cut of Superman II, check out this link: http://www.supermancinema.co.uk/superman2/general/extended_versions/index.htm .

Q: Can you send me a copy of the RIC?

A: No, I can?t. Sorry guys, that ship has sailed. Since the crackdown, Warner Brothers has been on the lookout for people openly trading or selling the RIC. I?m sure someone will try to bootleg it at some point, but it won?t be me.

If you REALLY want to see this movie, your best bet is still to talk to Warner Brothers directly. They have all of the lost footage and the resources to put out a version Superman II that could easily render the RIC obsolete.

Just show them that there?s a real demand for it.

This Has A ?Kryptonite Kavilers? Factor of Nine Out of Ten

Take Your Best Shot

ATR Associate, John Voulieris checks in this week for an interview with Christos N Gage (Law & Order: SVU), a screenwriter who made his comics debut last year with a well-received Deadshot miniseries. Gage has a number of comic projects in the works, including an arc on Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight and an upcoming Spider-Man story for Marvel. Recently, Gage took the time to answer some questions and give ATR readers the inside scoop:

John Voulieris: Can you start by giving us some general info about yourself?

Christos N Gage: I?m 33 years old, and married to my screenwriting partner Ruth. We live part time in L.A. and part time in North Carolina, where she is from; I?m originally from Worcester, Massachusetts. Ruth and I met at AFI film school, where I got my master?s degree in screenwriting. We were lucky enough to start working professionally right out of school, writing movie scripts for several years, and as anyone who knows the business can tell you, people have long careers as professional screenwriters without ever seeing a screenplay produced, so we were even more fortunate that two of ours got made. The Breed starred Adrian Paul from the Highlander TV series and Bai Ling from Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and then I wrote the truly bizarre horror/sci-fi parody Teenage Caveman, which was directed by Larry Clark (Kids, Bully), on which I was also Associate Producer.

Then we moved to TV, working on episodes of Law & Order: SVU, which are rerun regularly on the USA Network. These days we keep a foot in both worlds, and I also do comics on the side, which is a dream come true because I?ve loved them since I was a little kid.

JV: How did you break into comics? How did you get into writing?

CG: As I mentioned above, I went to film school for screenwriting and have worked in that field for several years. A little while back I met and got to be friends with comics renaissance man Jimmy Palmiotti, and he found out I had always wanted to write comics. When I was in New York for the filming of one of my Law & Order: SVU episodes, Jimmy arranged for me to have lunch with Dan Didio. We talked over some ideas, and the one Dan liked best was the one that turned into the Deadshot miniseries. The character arc came first: a disenfranchised figure protecting his estranged family by taming a crime-ridden neighborhood. Dan suggested using a villain, and Deadshot was the first name I threw out. From there I wrote a proposal, sent it in, and after it went through the proper channels and was green-lit, I worked with editor Joey Cavalieri to solidify the story before scripting it.

JV: Deadshot was well received by fans of the character and of the Suicide Squad – how did you come about pitching the idea to DC? Were you a Suicide Squad fan?

CG: I was a huge fan of the John Ostrander Suicide Squad comic, and followed it for the entire run. That?s where I grew to love the character of Deadshot. He?s just so twisted and complicated, almost a dark mirror image of Batman in many ways. Being such an admirer of those books, it always makes me happy to hear that readers feel my take on Deadshot is faithful to that period, and having John Ostrander say on his message board that he recognized the character I wrote as being true to his interpretation was the ultimate compliment. Of course, I wanted the story to be accessible to new readers as well, and I was gratified that several people posted on the DC message board and my forum at http://www.paperfilms.com to let me know the mini was their first exposure to the character and they?d really enjoyed it. I think that?s what superhero comics lost in recent years and need to get back. Stories that can be enjoyed by someone picking up a comic for the first time, yet are respectful of the characters history without getting bogged down in it. Geoff Johns probably does this better than anyone and I tried to follow his example.

JV: Any future plans for more Deadshot tales? Any Suicide Squad stories to tell?

CG: None planned from me at the moment, although I would love to write the character again. For the next few months he?s busy in Villains United (which I highly recommend to any Deadshot fans, Gail Simone has some really cool stuff in store), but I hope to revisit Floyd down the road. I?d love to do a story about him getting over the psychological block he has that causes him to miss his kill-shots when he fights Batman. As for the Suicide Squad, I?ve wanted to write that book for ten years, so yeah, I have an idea or two.

JV: Rumor has it your working on a Batman tale – what do you have in store for the Dark Knight?

CG: Yes, I?ve written a three-part story arc for Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight that is being illustrated by Ron Wagner, who had a memorable run on Daredevil a few years back and more recently worked for CrossGen. The story is called ?Cold Case?, and it draws on my Law & Order background writing police procedurals, featuring Batman in World?s Greatest Detective mode. The premise is that a true crime writer announces a new book in which he claims to have deduced who committed Gotham?s decades-old, never solved Robinson Park Ripper murders. Someone with a surgeon?s skills, a man rich and powerful enough to have covered his tracks, none other than Dr. Thomas Wayne, Bruce?s father. Batman has to reopen a very cold case in order to clear his father?s name, a task complicated by a mysterious figure who is killing anyone with first hand knowledge of the crimes. I had a blast writing it; it should be out in late 2005 or early 2006.

JV: Any other future comic work you’d like to plug? Any work for other publishers aside from DC? Any artists you’ll be working with or would like to work with?

CG: I?m working on a creator-owned project with an independent publisher; this is my first all-original, creator-owned book and I?m very excited about it. Unfortunately, I can?t say any more at the moment, but if all goes well it should be out in the fall.

I?m also currently doing my first work for Marvel, and it?s another childhood dream come true because I get to write Spider-Man! I met editor Tom Brevoort at Wizard World L.A., which has led to me writing a story for Spider-Man Unlimited #12. I?m having a ball, bringing back a wonderfully cheesy villain from the 70s called the Big Wheel (from Amazing Spider-Man #183). The story is titled: ?Amends?; it seems the reformed Big Wheel is going through a twelve-step program, part of which is to make amends to those you?ve wronged. Big Wheel?s way of making up for the fact that he once tried to kill Spidey is by helping him fight crime. But a guy driving a gigantic wheel with robot arms and mounted machine guns through the streets of New York isn?t Spidey?s idea of the ideal sidekick. He has to figure out how to make Big Wheel feel like he?s done his duty while getting rid of him ASAP. For me this story is a love letter to all those cheesy villains from when I was a kid, and I?m having way too much fun with it. I only wish I could have found a way to fit Stegron the Dinosaur Man in somehow.

Of course, I hope to do a lot more work with DC as well, and have several things in the talking stages there, but nothing definite just yet.

As for artists, there are many talented folks I?d love to work with. Doug Mahnke (who as you may know is a fellow Greek) and I are great admirers of each other?s work. We?ve talked about wanting to do a Wonder Woman story together, so you?d have a Greek character and a Greek creative team! Although I?d work with him on pretty much anything. Phil Noto?s a great guy and I love his stuff; I?d jump at the chance to collaborate with him. I think Darwyn Cooke is amazing, but he?s also a terrific writer in his own right so he doesn?t need me!

Of course, there are artists whose work I grew up admiring and it would be a dream come true to see them illustrate one of my stories. George Perez, John Byrne, Paul Gulacy. I?d love to do a Deadshot story with Marshall Rogers, who created his modern look.

And there are writers I?d like to collaborate with as well. Marc Andreyko is doing some amazing stuff with Manhunter, and we seem to have a lot of crossover fans who like both our stuff. He?s a pal of mine who also lives in LA and we?d enjoy teaming up. We have a pitch in at DC right now in fact, a revamp of an old property that would be tremendous fun to do if it gets green-lit. Gail Simone, Geoff Johns, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, Allan Heinberg. These are all people I?ve come to know and admire both personally and professionally and would jump at the chance to work with if it came up.

This Has An ?Urban Renewal? Factor of Ten Out of Ten

A Good Head On His Shoulders? And Another One In His Desk

It looks like Dynamite Entertainment has plans for Re-Animator beyond the already announced Army of Darkness vs. Re-Animator #1. Re-Animator #0 will hit in July, to coincide with the AOD crossover. From what I?ve been told, DE?s Re-Animator will not be based on Stuart Gordon?s cult classic film, but it will draw from H.P. Lovecraft?s original story, ?Herbert West, Re-Animator.? And for your viewing enjoyment, we?ve got the cover and first three pages for Re-Animator #0 below.

This Has A ?Who’s Going To Believe A Talking Head?? Factor of Eight Out of Ten

Sword & Sonja

Speaking of Dynamite Entertainment, I?ve heard that Peter David will be teaming up with filmmaker Luke Lieberman on a Red Sonja miniseries later this year from DE. However, there?s no word yet on who the artist will be.

This Has A ?Deadly Vows? Factor of Nine Out of Ten

On Leather Wings

I?ve received another update on the Vampirella relaunch. It turns out that the maxi-series will be ten issues, not twelve and it will be broken up into two 3-issue arcs and two 2-issue arcs. The tentative release date is November 2005, starting with Mike Carey?s arc with Christopher Priest, Jay Faerber and John Rozum to follow.

This Has A ?Satyr and Circe? Factor of Eight Out of Ten

This Cat?s Got Claws

Colin Blakeston, the director of the upcoming fan film Catwoman: Copycat (http://www.catwoman-copycat.com/) sent in a few pictures of his lead actress, Amber Moelter (http://www.ambermoelter.com/) dressed as the titular character.

Now, if you?re still wondering why I?m paying so much attention to this particular fan film instead of the countless others out there, then let me redirect your attention this preview featurette.

This Has An ?Extremely Flexible? Factor of Nine Out of Ten

Just One of Those Days

We?ve just received a late breaking tip from an overseas correspondent: and the word is that DC Comics? Days of Vengeance #1 sold out last week, marking yet another sell out for the Infinite Crisis tie-in miniseries. If true, we should expect a press release touting it within a few days.

This Has A ?Crisis of Infinite Reorders? Factor of Eight Out of Ten

And we?re done. Special thanks to John for contributing.


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.

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