Leave Your Spandex At The Door

Welcome to the 29th weekly installment of Leave Your Spandex @t the Door!

This past Saturday, the third Annual Manchester Comics-Con (dubbed ManCoCon by the organizers) took place in Manchester’s Palace Theatre with hundreds of fans flocking in from all around England to meet their favorite creators. The ManCoCon is the second largest comics con in England, following the Bristol Con in May. Fans have embraced this new con, and the numbers of attendees grow exponentially every year. And it’s no wonder, with the impressive guest list! Creators from all the major companies and the Indy crowd have traveled from all over Europe and flown in from the U.S. to take part in this event. Marvel and DC continued their past year’s strategy, and had kept an embargo on their major news-bits, so that they can make the big reveal during the con’s panels.

Let’s have a look at the major news and events from the Con:

THE DC PANEL

DC once more spared no expense when designing their booths for the con. Huge props of Metropolis, the actors from he upcoming Catwoman movie performing action stunts in their costumes, and a laser-show of Superman battling Doomsday gracing the area above them.

BATMAN: THE IDENTITY OF THE CRISIS DISC is the title of an upcoming 96-page Hardcover, written and penciled by Todd McFarlane. With this project, Todd officially makes his dynamic comeback in mainstream comics (and comics in general), following in the footsteps of fellow Image co-founders Rob Liefield, Marc Silvestri and Jim Lee. This book will have Batman fall under the influence of the Crisis Disc, while doing battle with a new Azrael character. Todd explained to panel attendees: “The Crisis Disc works essentially has what we termed <>”, referring to the classic Bill Murray film, Groundhog’s Day. “The Disc’s activation will cause Batman and Azrael to relive their intense battle over and over again. To reflect that, the book will have the same double splash page repeated throughout its length, but with different dialogue balloons and sound effects. McFarlane expects this project to be ready by January 2005. “I’ve began work on the double splash page, and Greg Capullo will be helping me, by handling the art for the framing sequence”, he commented.

Two of DC’s “hype” books will be getting a radical facelift in July, in order to take full advantage from the hype about to be generated from some upcoming movies based on DC properties… HELLBLAZER will be renamed to CONSTANTINE: hellblazer, and it will star the unseen-before step-brother of John Constantine: Eno Constantine from America. Meanwhile, over in CATWOMAN, Selina Kyle will pass over the black lather and whiskers to her sidekick Holly. When asked how this change will link to the movie, seeing as Holly is Caucasian too, writer Ed Brubaker commented: “We are not allowed to comment on this, at this moment, so as not to give away spoilers from the upcoming Identity Crisis series”.

August’s issue of WILDCATS v.3.0. begin a new storyline which focuses on the business side of Halo corporation. The 3-issue story will feature an in-depth look at the Corporation’s tax statement, complete with relevant appendices and comments from world-renowned economy analysts.

Following the huge uproar amongst the fan community over the new female Robin premiering in Robin #125, series writer Bill Willingham announced the panel attendees that the storyline will be climaxing in September, and following that, there will be yet another change in the title. This will spin off Jeph Loeb’ Superman/Batman title and will introduce the first ever canine Robin. “The identity of this new Robin will come as a complete shock to everyone”, Bill exclaimed!

Grant Morrison was part of the company’s Vertigo panel later in the evening, where they announced the new license the company had acquired. Grant will be joined with Frank Quitely on a six-issue mini-series featuring a Mature Readers approach to the property. Grant was very excited about the prospect of working on this project: “Imagine a medieval commune hidden away from civilization, comprised solely of alpha males. In this commune there is no sense of individual identity except for a handful of community leaders. Everyone except them looks and acts in the same way and has the same name. Pro-creation is an impossibility, and the commune has to rely on magic and animorphic Fable manifestations to multiply its numbers. The utopian fantasy is set to unravel when we introduce our X-Factor: a female clone of the alpha male, spliced by the cannibalistic archetypal Mummudrai of the commune, who seeks the alpha males for sustenance. A group of 150 alpha males who have never grasped the notion of sex, invaded by a blonde bombshell. Plus, they’re all blue-tinted.”. Smurftopia #1 is scheduled ship in September 2004.

MARVEL COMICS PANEL

Marvel continued its tactics of ignoring props altogether, but focusing on flying in more creators and making more announcements.

Chuck Austen was the only writer present in the X-MEN RELOAD panel, providing a lot of info about the end of his run on Uncanny X-men and what he has in store for the mutants in his new adjectiveless X-Men run.

The next issues of Uncanny X-Men will wrap up the dangling plot threads from Draco, as Archangel and Nightcrawler will be moving out of the title. Archangel is slated to die in battle, and forge a contract with the Devil, which will see him reborn as a mutant baby in Germany, about 20 years in the past. The baby will come to be named Kurt Wagner.

After June, Austen’s X-Men will move to a weekly schedule, and will alternate between two active team rosters. “The team grew too big to be manageable, so it was decided to split the focus between two groups of ten members each. Nurse Annie’s group will head into space, where they will come in contact with a familiar entity from the team’s past, a fellow member they thought dead. Following this contact, Annie will be changed forever and will take an active role in the team as the new earthly host for the fiery fury of Ph– well, that would be telling!”, Chuck Austen teased the audience.

Joe Quesada was also present, to announce that after seeing the first pages from Astonishing X-Men #2, and the warm reception of the fanbase, it was decided to relaunch the title, with #3 being solicited as ASTONISHINGLY ALL-NEW X-MEN #1. He explained: “We felt the title deserved the added attention a new #1 would provide. We are not reverting to 90s tactics, but we continue to apply this strategy where we feel it is deserved.”

ALPHA FLIGHT #6 will feature the return of Northstar to the team roster, and will have the closeted gay hero publicly come out in front of the world. To celebrate the occasion the issue will feature a Prismatic foil cover, which will diffract light into the colors of the rainbow. When some of the audience made reference to Alpha Flight #106, Scott Lobdell denied knowledge of the issue in particular, and pointed out the known fact that Alpha Flight skipped an issue after #105 due to trouble with the company’s printers.

CAPTAIN AMERICA will be moving out of the Marvel Knights imprint, and Robert Kirkman’s run will be followed by Dan Jurgens who plans on splitting the title into three bi-monthlies! This move will see Captain America developing an original mutation at the hands of his arch-nemesis Animus, and splitting into three different bodies. The titles will follow Cap’s new adventures as “Captain America: Red”, “Captain America: Blue” and “Captain America: White”, in his new identities as a Russian smuggler, a Jazz club owner and a rapper.

SPIDER-GIRL will finally end its perilous run with issue #81, to be replaced the following month by a new project by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz, set in current continuity. The title will be called CLONE OF SPIDERMAN
but DeFalco wouldn’t comment on whether this refers to Ben Reilly or a new character. Joe Quesada denied that this is in any indicative of Marvel’s rumored new “return to the 90s” policy.

The X-STATIX/avengers war storyline will be followed by a two-parter that will introduce two new controversial members to the team, in order to once more fill their 7-member standard. These members are set to cause even more uproar than September’s Diana debacle, as they will be based on people from the Judeo-Christian religion. Axel Alonso didn’t reveal who they were, but hinted that one of the two starred in a big-budget movie that recently opened in the U.K, while the other currently stars in his own Vertigo monthly series.

Rob Liefield appeared briefly in the Marvel X-Force panel to show off the finished art for X-FORCE #1 and #2. Everyone was really impressed by the way his work had vastly improved from earlier samples and the previews were received with a standing ovation from the audience. It adds to the irony of what followed, as he was trampled to death by the stampede of fans racing to get his autograph. Sadly the art was also damaged in the ruckus, and the world will never know of Rob’s true artistic worth.

This wraps up this year’s Manchester Comics Con report. I had the most wonderful time there, and I almost wish it wasn’t just APRIL FOOL’S!! But you probably all figured that out from the first line. “Weekly”… lol!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Coming up next week: Dave Crosland gave me the funkiest interview of 2003. Now he teams up with Wayne Chinsiang for double the madness and the fun, as they talk about their upcoming HEAVEN LLC project, sex-toys, Dave’s mom and Rob Liefield.

As always, I’m waiting for your comments through email or in the official LYS@D discussion thread.

Manolis Vamvounis
a.k.a. Doc Dooplove