This column is living proof that I don’t know nothing about nothing. I figured, column after Christmas, it will be slow, quiet, and small. And number of stories-wise, I was right. There are only six items (plus, previews and reviews) this week. However, importance of said items…well, sufficed to say, I missed that guess by a mile. This week, we’ve got All-Star info, the new Superman teams, and Matthew Clark’s new home. Before we got to that, though, I am starting with a different article. Appropriately, Mr. Eisner, The Man of Comics (in the Denzel Washington sense, not as in the “government looking to oppress you” sense) opens things up this week. Read and enjoy.
Eisner Undergoes Surgery, Recovering Nicely
Late last week, Denis Kitchen passed on word that comic legend Will Eisner had undergone quadruple bypass surgery on Wednesday, December 22nd. Kitchen wrote:
“He didn’t want anyone to know until he came through OK, but all signs are that he is recovering terrifically. He’s already joking with the nurses and “biting his lip” over delayed deadlines.
“He’s not supposed to return to work for 6-8 weeks (I’m making side bets), so it’d be nice in the interim if the industry deluged him with warm words while he’s recuperating.”
To get the information to send those personal greetings and warm words to, visit Newsarama.
I’ve never actually met Will Eisner in person, but Ben and I (as some already know) were fortunate enough to travel to San Diego this past year and sit in on the Eisner Awards. As with all Eisner Award Ceremonies, Mr. Eisner was on stage throughout, passing out awards, congratulating recipients, and making a speech (or two) along the way. The man is a legend who’s love and appreciation for comics clearly remains undiluted and that is a damn fine thing. I, on behalf of the Nexus, wish he, his friends, and family, the best of luck in these weeks that follow.
Call it Silver Age-esque, Call it “Only Sort of Kind of in Continuity”, Heck, You can Even Call it Late for Dinner. Just Don’t Call It Ultimate
Okay, it’s not quite an “Ultimate” line for DC Comics. Rather, the All-Star in a line of books pairing DC’s A-list creators with the icons of its universe for stories that aren’t so…beholden to continuity.
The long-rumored line kicks off in June with Jim Lee returning to Gotham City to tell a Batman and Robin story (with a writer TBA) in All-Star Batman & Robin, with the Robin in this tale being Dick Grayson; and later in 2005, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely will re-team for All-Star Superman.
The idea behind the All-Star line isn’t to spin the characters into a new timeline, a new universe, or a new continuity, rather, the creators are telling stories set in a contemporary period that both builds on the histories of the respective characters, while remaining fresh and as timeless as possible. These are books that DC hopes, will pull people in who maybe haven’t read a Batman or Superman story in a while – if ever. These versions and stories, while not “dumbed down” at all, will bring to the page what’s pure about the character – the iconic characteristics.
So – how do you do that with someone like Superman? Well, DC opted to do it by tapping Morrison, whose love of Superman is well known, pairing him with Quitely, and essentially saying, “Have fun.”
But why are we talking, when Morrison is never at a lack for words, especially about Superman.
The one thing we love her at DCNV more then great stories are Grant Morrison interviews. Check out Newsarama to see why.
“At that moment, I kid you not, two guys come walking across the rail tracks, and one of them is dressed in the best Superman suit I’ve seen. This guy looked fantastic as Superman – a cross between Chris Reeve and Billy Zane – so we asked him if he’d answer some questions for us which he did – in the character of Superman!!!”
Is it any wonder that Morrison talks the way he does when the universe seems to literally be just presenting him with gifts of inspiration? The rest of this story is a great little bit of Morrison lore and how it fits into his current All Stars plan is interesting. It’s wacky, but kind of cool as well.
It also nicely sets the tone for the rest of interview. Morrison sounds…well…damn near reverent when he talks about Supes. It’s cool to see such a well-respected creator still almost blown away by his good luck in being able to tell a Superman story. Makes me feel like a schmuck for always being kind of “eh” about Superman. Just for a quick example of what I mean, dig this quote, “…that costume is like the flag of a one man country that the whole world can recognize and trust.” That’s just a great hook, isn’t it?
As far as the concept as a whole, I’m there. The Ultimate line, with rare missteps (usually miniseries, is one of my favorite developments of the past 5 years in comics. I still love my continuity based Marvel projects, don’t get me wrong, but the Ultimate line is consistently excellent, in my opinion. And while the All Stars label has done everything in its power to run from being compared to that Marvel imprint, I do feel it is an apt comparison. Of course, remembering my initial feelings about Ultimate Spider-Man, in particular, I do get where a lot of DC fans might be nervous or annoyed with this announcement. See, back when the Ultimate line was announced, the Spider-Man books were in rough shape. Jenkins and JMS had still not come aboard and while the clone saga was passed, it seemed that Spidey still hadn’t gotten his legs back underneath him. To me, a Spider-Fan desperately wanting to read a good Spider-Man book again, Ultimate Spider-Man sounded an awful lot like Marvel just giving up on the Marvel proper (616) version of the character. Of course, months later it would turn out that that was not the case and that, even if it was, Ultimate Spidey was so damn good, I was unlikely to mind. So I get the nerves or the annoyance or, perhaps, even the anger. But speaking from experience, give the imprint a shot. Trust DC on this one.
As far as Quitely’s art, I have read some concerns from people online that he cannot possibly maintain the schedule and that, much like his work on New X-Men, we should be expecting fill-in artists galore. Morrison offers assurance here that that is not the case and Quitely will be doing all 12 issues. Although he does not state outright that the project will ship monthly without delay, there seems to be that implication as well.
I leave you with what I think is the best quote of the entire article. Grant Morrison’s overall goal for the series? “To be worthy of Superman.” Now, how friggin’ cool is that?
SUPERMAN CREATIVE TEAMS: UNVEILED
Smallville Comes to Metropolis
Following Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee’s twelve-part “For Tomorrow” story (and an issue of Judd Winick and Ian Churchill’s Shazam story), Superman really gets back to Smallville. Literally.
Following up on yesterday’s news of Adventures of Superman getting a new penciller in the person of Karl Kerschl in May, Superman gets a full creative team turnover, with Mark (Smallville) Verheiden coming on board as writer, with Ed (Birds of Prey) Benes joining the book as penciller and inker.
Can the small town hero make good in the big bad city? Hail a cab over to Newsarama and find out.
Always nice to see a wayward comic book creator returning to the fold. In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything written by Verheiden in the world of comics, but that does not mean I’m not just pleased as punch to welcome him back.
Sadly, his “homecoming” does not kick off for another 5 months, so there is not much in this interview to tell you what he is planning for his run. He does drop a tantalizing tidbit or two about Superman’s relationship to the world of humans, one he desperately wishes to belong to, but that’s about it. We’ll probably have to wait at least 2 more months before we get any more information than that.
And Now for Action Comics. Or as I’ll Now be Referring to It…Whaaaaaaa?
So – with Adventures of Superman being handled by Greg Rucka and Karl Kerschl, Superman operating under the creative team of Mark Verheiden and Ed Benes, the question is officially begged: what’s, or rather, who’s coming up as the new creative team on Action Comics?
A writer who’s just as surprised as you to be reading her name here, a penciller who’s making a return to a series he hasn’t worked on regularly in 17 years, and an inker known for telling some of the most…colorful stories in the industry.
In other words: Gail (Birds of Prey) Simone, John Byrne, and Nelson DeCastro.
To read all about what is my pick for most surprising announcement of the year, why not visit Newsarama?
I have faintly alluded to in the past (or outright stated), I rarely am compelled to pick up a Superman book. I do have a copy of “What’s So Funny about Truth, Justice, and the American Way”, the issue that crossed over with Detective Comics a few years back, and the arc that saw a kryptonite poisoned Superman teaming up with Batman to find the kidnapped Lois Lane, but that is about the sum total of Superman that I have bought (excepting Superman/Batman) since the Superman Forever one-shot that marked the end of the Electric Kool Aid Superman era. What’s weird then is that I am actually thinking about getting this book. Jim Lee…not enough to make me buy a Superman book. Greg Rucka, a writer who’s work I pretty much love across the board…no dice there either.
But a work drawn by John Byrne (who can’t seem to stay out of my column the past few weeks)…maybe?
Believe me, I am just as confused as you.
The only person I can point at to blame for this is Gail Simone. I have no idea what she’d do with Superman, but I find myself inexplicably intrigued. I am not sure if this intrigue will be enough to encourage me to cross the line from looking to buying, but it just might.
Imagine that, in one column a Superman book I will buy (All Stars) and one I just might (Action Comics). What a weird world we live in.
Enough About Clark Kent’s Fate, What About the Other Clark?
Artist Matthew Clark has alerted THE PULSE to news of his next project after Adventures of Superman. Clark is working on an arc of JLA Classified written by Peter Milligan.
To witness an artist nailing the dismount, rhythmically gymnastic your way over to The Pulse. And yeah, I did just use rhythmically gymnastic as an adverb/verb combination. This is my column and I’ll butcher the English language any way I damn well choose.
A JLA: Classified story from Peter Milligan (Human Target) and Matthew Clark? Cool. Sadly no details here for me to hone my excitement.
How Many Bird Puns Do I Know? Not Enough to Get a Headline for This Article
The Egyptian prince and princess dying, only to be reborn time after time, finding love with each other. The man and woman who could never be anything but heroes in over a thousand lifetimes. You know the basics of DC Comics’ “Hawkman,” but when CBR News spoke with series co-writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, we learned that everything’s about to go to hell for the birds.
Hear Gray and Palmiotti caw on and on about the man (and the lady) with the Nth Metal at Comic Book Resources
Hmm…Hawkman has been getting a bit of a push, interview wise, as of late. All the creators are talking about big changes on the horizon. Plus, implication of Kendra having a part to play in the big event(s) of 2005. Aaaaaaaaand Mathan recommends this title as recently as last week. Methinks that this book might just be gearing up for a breakout.
AND NOW, COURTESY OF DC COMICS…ADVANCED LOOKS
God…that Lex Luthor book looks just incredible. I’ve never been a hundred percent on Azzarello’s work. I didn’t really dig on Banner (despite many people endorsing it for me), 100 Bullets is a great concept that just never seemed to gel for me, and his Batman arc was so-so. Despite all of that, I am so psyched for this. It’s going to be great.
OPINIONS ON THE WORK OF PEOPLE FAR MORE TALENTED THAN I
My review for SLEEPER SEASON TWO #7 is up on the site now here and my write up for RICHARD DRAGON #8 will run this Thursday.
GREEN ARROW #45
Winick continues to do his best to balance the new reality of Mia’s disease, but, like last issue, he does make one slip up early. Last issue it was the doctor’s lengthy exposition on HIV and AIDS, this month it is Mia’s speech to her classmates. It is full of intelligent discourse and sensible advice, to be certain, but it does not feel right. It seems inorganic.
The rest of the book flows nicely, with Ollie’s inability to “save” Mia from her disease curdling into a rage that leads him to Brick’s doorstep. The fight between the two is well staged and the means of victory makes sense. Much like Ollie’s battle with Solomon Grundy during Brad Meltzer’s run, the fight is believable (well, overlooking the spandex and man made of brick). This is no “Batman going toe-to-toe with Darkseid” situation.
Hats off, as always to Hester and Parks. They have done excellent work for nearly 4 years on the title. I am very excited to see what project they end up on next.
GREEN LANTERN REBIRTH #3 (OF 6)
This issue, Parallax…EXPLAINED. This should eliminate any doubts about Johns’s ability to wrestle the beast that is continuity. Much like Meltzer explaining Light’s change in behavior, Johns zeroes in on disparate parts of continuity that you did not even know needed explaining until you read the book. This time around, it is the issue of Jordan’s prematurely grey sideburns.
Not as muscle-y as the first two issues owing much of the narrative to exposition, this issue still maintains the level of quality and enjoyment. Similarly, Van Sciver remains off the charts good.
JLA CLASSIFIED #2
Just wacky, fun stuff here. The JLA sequences in the infant universe are flat out the coolest thing here, but it’s all pretty good. I’m not sure if it is better than the first issue, but I am enjoying it more.
I recommended it last week, and I’ll recommend here again. Great book. Great writing, great art team, great covers. Pick it up. You’ll get to see someone do something really creepy with Copperhead, I promise
Alright, I’ve spoken my piece and will now return to my post-holiday gift appreciating. Next week it’s a new year and who knows what radical changes that might bring about? If you aren’t here, you won’t know what everyone is talking about.
Un Gajje likes New Years just fine, but loathes Auld Lang Syne. What’s a guy to do?