The Roundtable

NOTE: The individual opinions of each Roundtable contributor are their own, and is not representative of anybody but that contributor.

SHAUN OF THE DEAD to be adapted into four-issue mini from IDW [Credit: Shaunarama]

WILL “PINEAPPLE ON HIS PIZZA” COOLING: Shaun of the Dead is a great movie that I love dearly and it’s perfect for a comic adaptation. IDW is a good place for them to go what with its emphasis on horror although personally I was hoping for Si Fraser on art, a true master of the balance between straight drama and comedy

RUNAWAYS 2 #1 sells out because it’s that damn good [Details: Vaughanarama]

TIM “SEVEN OUT OF TEN” STEVENS: Booyaka, booyaka, booyaka.

I’m sorry, I really don’t know what that means… just sounds joyful.

Do you think it was my review that sold all those extra copies?


Look, if nothing else – this proves that sometimes the fans can have what they want. Not always or else we get greedy – but on the off occasion, we are handed gold. I’ve yet to be disappointed by Vaughan

TIM STEVENS: I was disappointed by Vaughan once. I invited him to this mixer I was having and he showed 15 minutes late. Plus, he brought bean dip. I told him it had to be onion.

Besides that though, pure excellence.

JAMIE HATTON: Have I mentioned recently that I’ve missed you Tim?

TIM STEVENS: I’ve missed you too… All of you. It’s great to be back.


Revised ratings system from Marvel [Details: Ratingsarama]

PAUL “COMBINES BILLY JOEL AND X-FORCE” SEBERT: Dammit, I still want to know what PSR stands for? Plastic Squid Robot? Parasitic Super Radish?

TIM STEVENS: Can’t it mean both?

IAIN “IS REALLY GRANT MORRISON…” BURNSIDE: Parental Supervision Recommended.

JAMIE HATTON: I’m not one of those guys that thinks ratings = censorship, so I am going to say ‘Go Marvel!’ on being proactive. With a firm grading system, a retailer can tell whether or not he should be selling Garth Ennis to a 10 year old. Some people might go, “But it’s the retailer’s job to know this stuff” – yeah, to a degree most retailers should recognize that a MK title is not meant for younger kids and a MAX title is not meant for a 15 year old – but it’s not hard to get confused about it when there are sooo maaannyy titles.

It would make the world a shitload easier if Marvel just had their own Vertigo-esque line, but we must live without.

JOHN “NEARLY MINT” BABOS: You’re right, ratings don’t equate to censorship. Folks that advance that view are hedonistic simpletons. With regards to this news, I think Marvel has been an industry leader when it comes to advancing the ratings issue. The industry has had the one size fits all Comics Code Authority (CCA) that is used or not by companies nowadays. The industry needs a more flexible and reader-friendly rating system since the CCA has proven to be ineffectual. Marvel’s third iteration of its house ratings are the easiest to understand yet, which is a big plus to fans of all ages, parents and retailers. DC could learn from Marvel in this regard and the industry as whole you move towards a more universal ratings system a kin to what Marvel is doing. The House of Ideas lives up to its name on this issue. Way to go.

PAUL SEBERT: They do [have a Vertigo-esque line] it’s, as you pointed out earlier, called MAX. :p

But seriously when the heck is DC going to go around adopting a rating system. I mean, yeah, people know that the Johnny DC books are kiddy-friendly, and the Vertigo books aren’t but… well IDENTITY CRISIS didn’t carry a “mature readers” label, and parts of it were a lot more intense than your typical issue of BOOKS OF MAGIC.

JOHN BABOS: The problem is exacerbated by DC’s selective use of the Comics Code Authority (CCA). It uses it when it wants to and doesn’t in other cases. For its Vertigo line DC does employ a Mature Readers label sans CCA, but there are books like IDENTITY CRISIS (IC) that did not carry the CCA and certainly weren’t all-ages accessible.

So the ongoing JLA title will have the CCA on its cover, but IC which features the JLA team doesn’t? That’s certainly odd. This is not saying that writer Brad Meltzer didn’t craft an intriguing story, he did. Some parts were certainly not all-ages friendly, but a disclaimer/rating of some kind would have helped.

Marvel’s revised ratings system identifies books that are older teen friendly. That’s what IC should have been labelled. Younger teens and kids should not have picked it up. It was an older person’s read.

DC let down its younger readers and their parents with IC and the company’s continued reluctance to adopt a flexible ratings system. I get it. DC doesn’t like the CCA. It chooses when to use it and not. Why? What’s the point really? If the CCA doesn’t work for DC and has no teeth then do something about it. Marvel did.

Marvel is leading the industry when it comes to a flexible ratings system. They saw that the CCA was obsolete and ineffectual and took matters into their own hands.

As I’ve said, the CCA is pretty much a pass and fail system whose endorsement or lack of carries no weight. Its time to adopt a more flexible ratings system a la Marvel’s. Their rating system is less intrusive and more creator and reader friendly than the CCA. Marvel’s system is actual a very practical and effective one.

Marvel’s rating system; especially in its new easier to understand form, is a good starting point for the industry, not just DC, if not the end game.

Geoff Johns & Amanda Conner to launch JSA CLASSIFIED [More: Here]

JESSE “NICE BEARD” BAKER: For f**k’s sake…

Just launch a new All-Star Squadron/JSA book and let Roy Thomas finish his “JSA/ASS during World War 2” storyline he had going on in the 1980s.

JOHN BABOS: I think this format suits the JSA more than it does the JLA since there is so much in the past to mine. I’m intrigued by the solicitation and the hint about a JSA of the future story, but this looks good and will hopefully replace any JSA mini-series DC has planned. Sadly, the last 2 mini-series and the Dr. Fate one were what I would call “ok”, but not up to the standard set in the main title. I’m looking forward to seeing the industry’s top creative team’s tackle the JSA of past, present, and future.

JESSE BAKER: I disagree since:

1. Geoff Johns is doing perfectly fine with one JSA book and

2. Doing anthology series with the JSA is walking in a landmine field since the JSA history is filled with so many patches and retcons established to keep the entire franchise going after ALL-STAR SQUADRON, CRISIS, HAWKWORLD, John Byrne and James Robinson tore apart and reorganized the groups history over the years.

The only person I’d trust with a second JSA book would be Roy Thomas and that’s because I don’t want James Robinson coming near the JSA ever again do to his habit of injecting death and violence and all sorts of grim and gritty cliches into every single JSA story he writes. Hell they could tie the book into the launch of the All-Star line by naming the book “The All-Star Squadron” and let Roy finally finish his “DCU during WW2” story that he started in ASS and YASS in the 1980s.

JOHN BABOS: 1. I don’t dispute that Johns is doing a stellar job on the main JSA book.

2. Yes there are perils with doing a JSA anthology book, but there was a time that the JSA franchise was written off. It wasn’t until DC gave James Robinson and David Goyer and later Geoff Johns a shot at revitalizing it. There may be some surprises still with JSA Classified. I also agree that having Roy Thomas on it would be great, but a) Thomas and DC are not on great terms I understand, and b) Thomas isn’t a huge fan of what Johns has done with the JSA. Ah, c’est la vie. I like the works of both Johns and Thomas when it comes to JSA.

I’d also love to see Thomas tie up the WW2 era storylines that he worked on with ALL-STAR SQUADRON and the YOUNG ALL-STARS in the 1980s.

To your point about grim and gritty, I think Johns on JSA is popular because it isn’t grim per se. Its very hopeful and optimistic series true to the spirit of the “Golden Age” era JSA, regardless of what Thomas (still a fave of mine) thinks.

Dave Gibbons discusses THE RANN/THANAGAR WAR [Discussion: Gibbonsarama]

PAUL SEBERT: Oh sure the art’s wonderful, and the story has much epic potential but… really when are the fans going to get what they really want? A follow-up to Scott Shaw’s epic OZ/WONDERLAND WAR?

JESSE BAKER: Out of all the mini-series/one-shots DC is putting out in the coming months, this is the one I don’t give a damn about; I can’t stand Adam Strange and quite frankly the fact that Kyle Rayner hasn’t been killed off makes me sick given that DC seems to seriously thinks that a waste of space like Rayner (who is now utterly worthless now that Hal is back and DC won’t remove Jon Stewart from the JLA) is more valuable than Sue Dibny.

Kyle is a worthless character and if he doesn’t end up dismembered and fed to space dogs in this mini, I weep for the trees that will die so as to publish this crap.

JOHN BABOS: The beauty of the comic medium is that it is so
diverse and there is, hopefully, something for everyone. Every character is someone’s favourite and another’s least favourite.

I’m not a big cosmic comic guy, but I’m leaning towards trying the mini. Like Jesse this is the least appealing one for me based on the solicits, but it may surprise.

Kyle and Strange? Not my faves either, but I always like it when DC mines its past. The appeal of this mini, if there is one beyond Gibbons’ name being attached to it, will likely be the “oh, there you are” moments when we check in with cosmic heroes and villains that we haven’t seen in a long time.

PAUL SEBERT: Whew… for the moment there I thought ol’ Jesse was mellowing out. I’m sorry Jesse but that rants just about the most inane thing I’ve read this month. And I’m reviewing SHATTERSTAR.

Sorry but Kyle Rayner was one of the first characters that I latched onto when I got into the fandom, and he’s a good three-dimensional character with a good supporting cast. Kyle was a major ingredient in Grant Morrison’s ultra-successful relaunch of the JLA franchise (Morrison himself prefers Kyle to Hal) and stories like the much-publicized “Hate Crime” arc from Judd Winick’s run are perfectly fine examples of what stories are still capable of being told with the character [*]. I’m not going to say he’s better than Hal, just different.

That said, the story arc that killed off Hal was a complete rushed mess, largely stemming from the fact Ron Marz had a years worth of story s**t-crammed into six months. So I’m all for bringing Hal back. But killing Kyle off would just irk an entire generation of readers the same way that killing Hal angered Silver Age fans.

To be honest, after years of Hal vs. Kyle debates I’m ready for the two to just shake hands and bury this debate once and for all.

[*] Also don’t give me that crap about Judd being “politically correct” on that arc, it was just a perfect example of the kinds of stories that Neil Adams/Denny O’Neil were doing in the ’70s.

WILL COOLING: I won’t give you crap about it being PC, I will however give you crap about “Hate Crime” being f**king boring, safe and totally out of place. Firstly, the story’s absolute crap with the emphasis purely on the virtuous straight man whose going to get those wicked macho types who picked on two defenceless queers – I mean don’t they know its wrong to hit girls?

PAUL SEBERT: Well, if DC had the cojones to actually make a character like oh say… Bart Allen gay maybe Judd would have more rope to work with, but I think it worked perfectly in the confines of Kyle’s character.

And as for those wicked macho types who pick on defenceless gays for no reason? They’re real. Real hate crimes are vile stupid pointless affairs that flat out don’t make any sense. A crime like that happened less than half an hour from where I live. A kid was beaten to death for no good reason a few years ago and the thought just boils my blood.

WILL COOLING: Secondly, Winick hits all the safe and predictable points but chickens out on giving it any edge – where’s the beatdown on Terry? Where’s the wider reaction of the “gay community” beyond some token protests? Where’s the questioning of the boyfriend for doing something so “reckless” as kissing in public and leaving his younger boyfriend to fend for himself by someone other than a 2D bogeyman [*]?

PAUL SEBERT: Really do we need to see more of Terry’s beat down drawn in detail? I think what was shown was pretty damned hard to swallow stuff and the fact that the worst was left to the reader’s imagination was a tactful decision on the artist’s part.

But really? Do we need scenes of Fred Phelps style idiots saying that the crime was god’s will and the victim being blamed for his own recklessness? Did IDENTITY CRISIS need a scene where Sue Dibny was blamed for hanging around the satellite? Fer crissake?

WILL COOLING: It wasn’t a tactful decision on the artist’s part, it was a cowardly one. They should have shown the hatred and the bigotry up close and personal and make the readers bloody uncomfortable watching it. That’s what alienates me from “Hate Crime”, its too controlled and professional a story. Winick should have really gone for the jugular and lets these drokkers know where their gay and fag jokes lead.

As for the “reckless” stuff, I think it’s an important part of the pro-gay point just because it’s so ridiculous. You’re showing characters saying that kissing in a public place is reckless… but why? Straight couples can do it, so why not gays? Oh because of the threat of a beating by tanked up, self loathing idiots.

Thirdly, why are we being given stories about bank robberies and street muggings in a comic starring a character with power on a cosmic scale??? What people forget about the O’Neil/Adams issues is that they flopped! The whole series ended just after a year
of them being together and I’m sorry but they’re horribly didactic and the in ya face radicalism is alienating. What’s more the entire set up was to undermine the character of Hal Jordan; the star of those issues was the Green Arrow not Green Lantern.

PAUL SEBERT: Simple, the reason why Adams & O’Neil had Green Lantern dealing with non-cosmic criminals is because it makes the character relatable. I mean I love the new BETA RAY BILL mini-series that Marvel is putting out, but at the end of the day I can’t relate to Bill any more because he got punked out by the herald of Galactus. Can I relate to Kyle more because he couldn’t stop a senseless attack on his friend? Yes…

And yeah, maybe the Adams/O’Neil [run] may have bombed in terms of sales, but really who do writers look back to for inspiration today? The umpteen billion “oh no, Sinestro has joined forces with an evil talking gorilla” stories that came out in the ’60s or those 12 issues of Adams/O’Neil?

And why is being didactic a bad thing? Is there something intrinsically wrong with trying to teach the reader something and taking a stand?

WILL COOLING: You don’t have to reduce everything to our level to make it accessible, cosmic stories can be just as relevant to us as more naturalistic comics. The eternal themes of love, war, friendship, hatred, etc., can still be explored in a cosmic setting if only the writers had the imagination to do it.

There’s nothing with being didactic if it’s done right (which, to be
fair, Winick in “Hate Crime” does… the message is subtly handled) but having one character harp on about how stupid the beliefs of the other are and the other character end by saying “oh yes I see I was stupid” is just awful and patronising. The likes of Pat Mills (on form) and Alan Grant can do didacticism well because they manage to get the message across in the heart of the action.

Yes, “Hate Crime” was a welcome exploration of gay issues but that doesn’t excuse from being a) a bad story and b) entirely out of place given the nature of the character. Nor was it brave, there’s nothing brave about placing gays in the damsel in distress role to be saved by the Alpha Male. When DC or Marvel gets the guts to do a genuine AAA gay superhero then I’ll be impress until then its nothing but cheap tokenism [**].

[*] Not that I’m saying I agree with either point but there’s certainly grounds for either.

[**] Yes I know this goes against the review I did over a year ago; what can I say – I changed my mind.

PAUL SEBERT: I don’t think Kyle can be described as an Alpha Male, and I think this wasn’t so much a placing a group of people in a damsel in distress role so much as striking at a member of a character’s supporting cast and forcing him to deal with a very real problem. It struck a cord with me and I’m very glad to read it. In fact if I was ranking the greatest Green Lantern stories of all time, be it Hal, Kyle, John, or Guy, I’d probably place it in the top 5.

WILL COOLING: It didn’t with me to be honest, perhaps that’s because I read it in the TPB and so haven’t read Terry’s back story or perhaps because I watched Six Feet Under do the whole story so much better in season 1. It’s good to see someone address gay issues in mainstream comics; I just wish it was done in a gustier and braver way.

PAUL SEBERT: And yes… the big two do need to do a genuine gay superhero, not just a token cast member or hot lesbian chick but for god sake… I’d rather read something like “Hate Crime” than say, Northstar trying to stop a superpowered Mountie from strangling a baby.

That said why aren’t we up in arms over Mark Millar offing Northstar in the pages of WOLVERINE?

WILL COOLING: Believe me the whole Wolverine/Northstar thing pissed me off as well… Stupid, nasty Millar who somehow by doing a load of fag jokes in THE AUTHORITY has gained the reputation of being LGB friendly.

As for “Hate Crime”, yes I know the macho homophobes are real (slightly patronising remark there mate to be honest) but that wasn’t the point – I was talking about how “Hate Crime” focuses almost solely on Kyle’s mission to “rescue” Terry so relegating Terry to damsel in distress. And yes such crimes boil my blood too, after all its the reason why I have my back whenever I leave a gay bar or club but even so just because a comic tries to address such an issue it doesn’t make it instantly worthwhile. The whole point of taking a risk is that it may not work.

Marv Wolfman discusses CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS novelisation [Discussion: Marvarama]

JESSE BAKER: And this is being published why? Just put out that ABSOLUTE CRISIS HC and package it with a sourcebook for Marv to talk about the series.

LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS #1 sells out too! [Details: Here]

PAUL SEBERT: It looks like RUNAWAYS wasn’t the only excellent book to sell out this week. I just got this press release from my friends at Runemaster Studios.

Mike Bullock and Jack Lawrence did an absolute bang-up on the first issue and I’m waiting on pins and needles for the next.

JOHN BABOS: So, does this finally blow the myth that there is no longer a market for all-ages books out of the water? The Big Two or Big Five (or whatever) over the years have focused on becoming more edgy and dark in a misguided attempt to be more “real”. Super-hero comics, for example, prior to late 1990s were all-ages books. Now, it’s hit or miss at the big companies. Its all shock and sizzle.

All-ages sell. It’s a forgotten market, but not by Runemaster Studios. All-ages doesn’t mean pandering to children. It’s about creating stories that all-ages can enjoy.

Congrats to Runemaster Studios. Hopefully the rest of the industry and fans are watching (and buying).

JAMIE HATTON: I think the issue with telling all-ages stories (wow, this discussion again!) is that it’s hard to hit both markets. It’s hard to create a book that is both childlike enough to be enjoyable by someone younger, and thought provoking enough to be for an older reader. This move towards putting out all-ages books is fantastic and I give huge thumbs up to anyone who is trying to get kids to read – and get parents to read with their kids.

Makes me pine for ABADAZAD.

RUMOUR: Frank Miller & Neal Adams to collaborate on second ALL-STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN arc


Joe Kubert to create new SGT. ROCK mini-series

[Credit: Lying in the Gutters]

MATT “STARMAN” MORRISON: Both cool if true. Adams is one of the best Batman artists ever and we need a good Sgt. Rock story to make us forget that Brian Azzarello ever touched the character.

ULTIMATE GALACTUS is coming [Clue: Here]

MATT MORRISON: Not exactly a shock to those of us who read ULTIMATE NIGHTMARE #5 this past week… where something finally happened…

Robin, Batman and Captain America storm Downing Street [Details: Here]

MATT MORRISON: My favorite group of protestors strikes again. The sad thing is that rather than bringing attention to their cause, all they seem to be doing is drawing awareness to lax security around England’s heads of state…

ULTIMATE IRON MAN #1 preview [Credit: Starkarama]

MATT MORRISON: I’ve never really been a big Iron Man fan and was going to skip this series. Now I may check out the first issue because this looks competently done. Maybe you have to be an Ender fan…

Gail Simone discusses VILLAINS UNITED [Credit: Gailarama]

MATT MORRISON: Of course, I’m all excited about any and all news on anything Gail Simone written. Avoid reading the forum postings under, as it will just prove the old truism that Newsarama posts eventually devolve into three things.

1. Rantings on how Mark Waid is a jerk.
2. Rantings on girl-on-girl action in comics.
3. Rantings on Marvel vs. DC.

KEVIN “MIDDLE NAME BEGINS WITH ‘S'” MAHONEY: Golly, this is one of those ideas that have both a high level of difficulty and a potential for great success. I’m going to have to keep an eye on this, if only to see which direction the hyperbola shoots. I can’t say I have read much Simone, as I stuck to the original run of DEADPOOL and have never really bought into BIRDS OF PREY. But if DC has shown us anything over the last few years, it’s that smart well-understood baddies can inspire great new stories.

Potential, I say!

Bryan Hitch renews Marvel contract till 2007 [Details: The Pulse]

MATT MORRISON: So ULTIMATES 2 is right on schedule then? 😉

That’s right. I went there.

Catwoman Sweeps Golden Raspberry Awards [Details: Here]


Halle Berry Accepts Razzie Award In Person [Details: Here]

PAUL SEBERT: Really, did anyone not see this coming? Ok, I officially forgive her, now that she’s gone all Tominio on the film.

JAMIE HATTON: I give her praise for at least being a good sport about it. Albeit, she’s kind of back peddling, but hey, who knew Catwoman was going to be a flop. The previews looked so good! (/sarcasm)

MATT MORRISON: Yeah. Her career is officially over. She’s so desperate to appear before a camera and get anyone to offer her a part now. Really, that’s the only reason she showed up.

To put this in perspective, only one actor in the entire history of the Razzies has ever shown up for the awards ceremony to accept their award before now… and that was Tom Green, who managed to make an even bigger farce out of an award show that prides itself on being a farce.

And much as it pains me to say it, the headline is not totally accurate. Catwoman did not score a nomination in all categories, so it could not really sweep the awards. It didn’t even win all the events it was nominated for.

It did however win the most awards of any movie this year, so it was still duly honoured as the worst movie all year. Had Lambret Wilson and Sharon Stone been able to edge out Britney Spears and Donald Rumsfeld (both winning for their brief roles in Fahrenheit 9-11), then it would have been a sweep of everything it was nominated for.

I say this as a member of the Razzies Nomination and Voting Committee. 🙂

PAUL SEBERT: Well to be fair, with the exception of Bill Cosby’s Tomino-esc tirades about Leonard Part 6, I’ve very seldom seen an actor/actress badmouth a film while it’s still in theatres.

JAMIE HATTON: On a comic book note – Sean Connery did it too with League.

WILL COOLING: Although when he did a TV interview over here he seemed quite impressed with the comic.

JAMIE HATTON: I’m sure he did, and given a better movie – he would have been an awesome Quartermain… sadly, the movie was what it was. Popcorn fodder and kinda sorta fun for a summer action flick – but horrendous as an adaptation.

An interlude to discuss randomly related and painful events that delayed the Roundtable last week…

IAIN BURNSIDE: FYI, I dislocated my shoulder yesterday and was far from in the mood to edit a Roundtable one-handed. Let’s just roll it over into this week…

WILL COOLING: Shit mate, how are you? How did you do it?

Hope it gets better soon

IAIN BURNSIDE: I did it in the most absurd manner ever – in my bed, asleep!

It’s not too bad now it’s been popped back in, but the lovely painkillers are starting to wear off now… we shall see 🙂

WILL COOLING: Bloody hell that is absurd. Hope you’re not into much pain.

RUMOUR: DC to reintroduce their Western characters, e.g. Jonah Hex [Credit: All the Rage]

JOHN BABOS: Hope you recover quickly and that you’re not in too much pain Iain.

Anyhow on to the DC news…

It makes sense that DC would turn their attention to their Western properties since it “fits” with their plans to revive their various lines or niche books.

I’m not sure why this news is linked to the “success” of DC’s cosmic titles since I’m not sure ADAM STRANGE was successful. It’s cancelled isn’t it? I am looking forward to THE RANN/THANAGAR WAR though.

I’d love there to be a cosmic/future Hex x-over with his cowpoke earlier incarnation. Hex meets Hex in 2005!

WILL COOLING: You know it’s strange, I’ve never watched a western all the way through. I mean I’ve sat down and caught glimpses (inc. Who Shot Liberty Valance) and enjoyed them but something’s always came up to stop me watching them all the way through.

May have to get Unforgiven on DVD this month.

As for the comics… they’ll be cancelled within 18 months.

Atomeka Press to release MORTAL KOMBAT comic books [Credit: All the Rage]

JAMIE HATTON: Yep! It’s being touted in this month’s PREVIEWS… and it makes me remember Malibu oh so fondly. I remember owning each one of these damn books back then (MORTAL KOMBAT, not MALIBU) – yeah, I’ll admit it!

The storyline is ripe with conflict and various character interactions. I do, honestly, think there could be some good comics in there if they give it a shot. It’ll depend on which plotlines they follow, how closely they follow them to the game, and whether the writing team is any good. Chances are the book will blow. That won’t stop me from attempting to brave the waters.

RUMOUR: Donna Troy to be resurrected in Perez/Jiminez’s THE EZ COMPANY PROJECT [Credit: All the Rage]

JOHN BABOS: George Perez and Phil Jimenez team with Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez on a book dubbed, but not actually named, “EZ Company Project” that may revive Donna Troy. Well, I can believe this since DC COUNTDOWN (or CRISIS 2, I can’t remember which) supposedly involves Donna Troy somehow or at least stems from the circumstances of her “death”.

The big news in this little ditty? That Phil Jimenez is working on CRISIS 2!! The info on that project is slowly getting out there, but there’s still not much revealed. Johns & Jimenez on CRISIS 2? Hmm.

I’m also eagerly awaiting Perez’s “Games: The Titans Graphic Novel”. Sweet. Hopefully we’ll see it in 2005, but 2006 is more likely.

JESSE BAKER: It should be noted that it’s been common knowledge Donna was coming back since news of a Phil “Donna Troy” mini first leaked out a couple of months back. According to the leaks, Phil is alleged to have told DC that unless they green lighted Donna’s return as a vanity project for him that he wouldn’t do any new work for DC. Which means that in order to get him to do CRISIS II, DC has to bring back Donna Troy and that any connection to COUNTDOWN is IMHO Didio covering his ass so as to set up Donna’s return (much in the same way I believe THE RANN/THANAGAR WAR mini is a cynical ploy to hype the new ADAM STRANGE series) and undoing the pointless and gratuitous nature of Donna’s death to begin with by saying that Donna’s death was a huge thing and will kick-start a massive shift in the direction of the DCU…

And as for “Games”, I wouldn’t look forward to it since the script for the graphic novel was written during a period where Marv Wolfman was at an extreme creative low point. Unless the script gets a massive overhaul, I wouldn’t have my hopes up.

WILL COOLING: Nope, it was always an eight part miniseries.


INVINCIBLE the Movie! [Excitement: Galore!]

IAIN BURNSIDE: That noise you hear is Nick Piers’ mind being blown 🙂

PAUL SEBERT: Woot! Go Kirkman!

Joe Quesada discusses nothing in particular… and talks out of his ass about ARANA [Discussion: Here]

TIM STEVENS: I don’t even know what the article is about yet, but I really wish that that is actually what the headline was.

PAUL SEBERT: Hey don’t knock ARANA. It’s a perfectly enjoyable little book even though its sales aren’t exactly burning up the charts, it has gotten Marvel some good PR and the character was voted “Woman of the Year” by Latina Magazine. So it’s apparently bringing in a small niche audience.

But yeah… one of Joe Q’s duller cup of Joe sessions.

JAMIE HATTON: What strikes me as sad is that almost every one of his quotes involves ‘checking market research’ which sounds like he doesn’t read books, just works with what sells. Critical acclaim aside, if it didn’t sell well off it goes. That explains so much about RUNAWAYS (which didn’t sell amazingly, but the trades did) and MARY JANE (same story).

Also – here’s an amusing titbit of back speak:

“People see Marvel do something like the MAX line as an answer to
Vertigo. That’s not what it is…”

Okay, fine Joe. MAX does not equal VERTIGO. That was followed immediately by:

“…it is there to give creators the opportunity to tell the kinds of stories that can not have the Marvel slug on it.”

Which sounds an awful lot like Vertigo, doesn’t it? Oy. Just call a spade a spade and get it over with.

IAIN BURNSIDE: You know, the entire point of this Marvel Next line remains a mystery to me. Kids are not going to suddenly pick up a comic book just because the lead characters are teenagers!! This is not the 1960s anymore!! The main problem is in distribution. Books like RUNAWAYS and MARY JANE, not to mention the heavy-hitters like ASTONISHING X-MEN and NEW AVENGERS, should be on the shelves at Virgin and HMV as well as WH Smith’s and Waterstone’s. And why not use the movie connection in any way but a vague one? Give away free copies of X-23 #1 with the Elektra DVD! Give away free copies of ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #1 with tickets to the advance screenings of the movie! Better yet, give them a coupon for a half-price copy of the first UFF TPB! Bring back the Dotcomics to the website! Do something beyond vague mentions of a Latino superhero on page 42 of some obscure Californian newspaper!!

PAUL SEBERT: To be fair I honestly don’t think bringing back someone like say… Moon Knight is going to get younger readers in comic stores either. That and well, if it wasn’t for books like IMPULSE, SUPERBOY, etc. in the mid ’90s, I probably would have given up on the superhero genre in mid-adolescence and probably become one of those pretentious indy snobs that writes for the Comics Journal.

I think that saying there isn’t an audience for books like MARY JANE, RUNAWAYS, SENTINEL, ARANA, etc. is ludicrous, it’s just a sad fact that the mainstream publishers just haven’t figured out how to reach it. Iain made a great point about Marvel needing to get these and other titles in music stores and whatnot, and I think a large part of Tokyopop’s success can be attributed to getting their titles distributed in Camelot music stores and whatnot. That said – having the right product is just as important as having it in the right place.

A couple of years ago a company named Intec Interactive released a batch of Marvel and CrossGen titles on DVDs with voice actors reading over the text, and limited animation going from page to page. This got both company’s products inside of a few new outlets like Toys R Us, and Electronics Boutique but didn’t sell because well let’s face it… it was a very flawed product. No-one over the age of 6 really needs someone to read their comics to them, it’s not portable, and for just a few bucks more you could buy a DVD of X-Men Evolution, Teen Titans or Batman TAS. Mainstream retail distribution is certainly an amiable goal, but it brings upon it a number of risks. While Marvel was a big enough company to bounce back from such a misstep, CrossGen wasn’t.

I think one of the problems Marvel’s had establishing new characters is that all too often these properties are left to sink or swim and they pass under the radar of older fans who aren’t adventurous enough to try an issue of something like GUARDIANS. On the other hand, not too long ago the cast of THUNDERBOLTS showed up in an issue of THE INCREDIBLE HULK a few months before that book’s successful launch. Heck, back in the Bronze Age even characters from unsuccessful titles were made to seem important by being given guest shots in books like MARVEL TEAM-UP/MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE or membership in on a super team.

X-23’s guest spots in DIET CHERRY VANILLA X-MEN (I forget which book Claremont writes now) and MTU is one of the better examples of how to draw attention to a new character. In regards to ARANA, rather than play up hype in various media outlets, what they ought to do is have the character pop up in one of Spidey’s books. I mean Anya’s a high school student, and Peter Parker’s a high school teacher. Put two and two together here…

WILL COOLING: I think American comics are suffering from the same problem that hurt 2000AD in the early nineties – the growing attraction of creator-owned comics to creators. One of the big problems the likes of Marvel face in launching new ideas is that increasingly creators (understandably) don’t want to surrender their intellectual rights i.e. movie deals, creative control for a character they’ve created. Increasingly new characters by AAA writers/artist are limited to Vertigo, Image or Avatar whilst said creators earned their money doing work-for-hire stuff on existing characters. The result is a market where the retro rehashing of 40-60 year old characters dominate due to the de facto duopoly that Marvel/DC have over the direct market whilst underneath that the original ideas produce excellent comics read by very few people.

American publishers may have to learn from the success of French and Japanese publishers (both of whom operate either in ways similar to Vertigo) if their ever to get an injection of fresh ideas/concepts.

Mark Sumerak discusses MACHINE TEEN [Discussion: Teenarama]

PAUL SEBERT: Oh why do I dread this is going to be the book that I wind up gushing about of the year, and still gets cancelled.

Oh wait it’s only a five-issue mini-series. *whew*

JAMIE HATTON: Wasn’t DARRYL a great movie? Yeah, I thought so too. Heh. It doesn’t sound like a bad book – as a matter of fact, if it’s geared to all-ages – I’ll probably even be excited for it. It’s nice to see though they are putting it on a limited series end to guarantee it won’t get cancelled before the first arc.

PAUL SEBERT: You know, I’ve heard the concept compared to both DARRYL and Not Quite Human, but the basic concept of a mechanical man predates the comics medium. In fact some of the earliest works of American comics (Golden Age Human Torch) and manga (Astroboy) have dealt with the same basic idea.

Marvel to sell comics in 7-11 and Barnes & Noble stores [Details: Sevenelevenarama]


Marvel to peddle Fantastic Four comics in schools to promote the movie [Details: Fantasticarama]

PAUL SEBERT: Speaking of getting comics into the mainstream… great move on Marvel’s part. I’d love to see them move in stuff like the RUNAWAYS digests as well as the monthly magazines.

I think the industry glut of the early-mid 90s probably has a lot to do with convenience stores and drug stores, etc. dropping comics. I remember walking into Giant Eagle Supermarkets with multiple racks full of unsold Valient, Malibu, and other comics.

WILL COOLING: For selling comics outside of specialist shops (either comic shops or comic friendly book shops) then the Big Two have got to treat their AAA franchises with respect, caution and care. A non-comic expert should be able to confidently order a Superman, Batman, Spider-Man or X-Men [comic] knowing that it’s a high quality comic that will sell. If Marvel/DC persists with flooding the market with substandard comics for these franchises then non-specialist outlets will get their fingers burnt and so will stop selling them. If things go well with the obvious picks then perhaps they’ll become more adventurous.

PAUL SEBERT: Well, what exactly would you consider to be a substandard comic within these franchises? I mean the only X-Books I’m reading right now are NIGHTCRAWLER, ROGUE, and GAMBIT, all of which I think are very well done and much more accessible than the increasingly convoluted team books. That said they’re generally looked at as tertiary books. On the other hand, I think Claremont’s UNCANNY/X-TREME run in recent years has been on of the most consistantly weak products Marvel’s put out, but well if you look at the sales figures alone, you can obviously see there’s a legion of Claremont fans out there who disagree with me.

On a side note, I think two of the titles that might benefit the most from the 7-11 moves might be ARANA and BLACK PANTHER as they appeal to urban demographics which in some areas may not have access to specialty comic shops.

IAIN BURNSIDE: Personally speaking, if it’s not ASTONISHING X-MEN, Vaughan’s ULTIMATE X-MEN, or the recently-departed MYSTIQUE, then I just don’t want to know about the X-Men books these days.

Marvel titles that should be getting pimped big time in 7-11 include… RUNAWAYS (just because it’s awesome), YOUNG AVENGERS (play on the writer’s O.C. credentials), SHE-HULK (as part of a promotion blitz upon her return), ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN (an awesome read with awesome art and very easily accessible for all ages), BLACK PANTHER and ARANA (for the reasons Paul mentioned), and CABLE/DEADPOOL (exactly the sort of puerile nonsense that immature boys love… such as myself…). The real trick would be to get the actual digests out into the stores instead of the single issues. That way shops can keep the entire collection of something like RUNAWAYS in stock far easier for far longer and it is also better economic sense for the customer to read them in that format. Sadly, they’ll probably just stick to the MARVEL ADVENTURES line…

SUPERMAN #215 to be very shiny [Details: Shinyarama]

JAMIE HATTON: Thank god I went and read this as I almost went on a holographic foil cover rant. Bless them… it’s just that they are going to toss in some pin-ups and a 2nd cover. I can now go on my variant cover rant. I won’t though – you all know it – and some of you disagree… variants help the current buyers market and not the new reader’s market. DC’s stance on doing 50/50 solicitation is the most acceptable version of this, though.

New, original Captain Britain story [Details: Silver Bullet]

JOHN BABOS: Um, Marvel still has Marvel UK? Huh? In any event, I’ve always had a fondness for Captain Britain. Way to go Marvel. Um, but, wasn’t there a Captain Britain in Avengers Disassembled? Why is this “new story” such a newsworthy item?

TIM STEVENS: For exactly that reason. The new Capt. Britain was generally hated. The old one thus gained a sort of lustre. Therefore, when a story features the old one, oooh, excitement! I honestly don’t see why this is harder to figure out than any other comic news story.

PAUL SEBERT: To be honest, as much of a mess as Austen’s AAVENGERS run turned out to be… I actually kinda liked the new Captain Britain, at least from a character design standpoint.

I’m not much of a fan of the original, perhaps because most of his better stories were written for Marvel UK and not in print in the US.

WILL COOLING: To answer Tim’s point in MVN, Britain has never really done superheroes all that well. There are only a handful of really famous ones and most of them are deconstructions/post modern takes such as Miracleman. Captain Britain was also published by Marvel UK, which was a relatively small mover in the British market (even in its heyday) compared to the IPC and DC Thompson juggernauts that provided a diverse range of comics ranging from humour, war, football, sci-fi, horror and even girls romance.

The Alan Moore/Alan Davis run is great though, I think Jamie Delano
did a highly regarded series as well but I’ve never read it.

BTW, Tim, we saved ourselves from German invasion – check the dates – Battle of Britain ended September 1940, so eliminating the threat of invasion. The Blitz is commonly accepted to have peaked in intensity by the end of 1941 and was little more than a gesture of war. The Americans entered the war in 1942 (only after the Germans declared war on them though) and until 1944 British Empire troops made up 40% of the total Allied force. So sucks to you!!!

SILENT DRAGON looks amazing!!! I of course love Andy Diggle’s writing and Len Yu’s artwork in BIRTHRIGHT was (on the whole) excellent so this should be very enjoyable. Big robots and futuristic Japanese cities are always a bonus too!!!

TIM STEVENS: Hey man, I’m the DCNV fella, not the MNV guy. If you are gonna do me the favour of pimping my column, you gotsta pimp the right one.

As to your “sucks to you” comment… touch���©… touch���©.

WILL COOLING: I stand corrected because I’m a dumbass.

MICHAEL “SKITCH” MAILLARO: Man, I get no respect! 😉

WILL COOLING: Sure you do… I just assumed it was Tim… Because the writer had admitted to being mistaken about something Marvel related and I knew that couldn’t in any way be you, so it had to be Tim.

(ducks Tim’s fist)

BTW, everyone read Iain’s review of MYSTIQUE #24. And then join with me in making sure Iain has enough morphine to always do his reviews like this.

As for Marvel UK, they sold it to the Italian card making company Panini. On the whole it just reprints American stuff (kinda like the original) but it’s been slowly moving towards original content with MARVEL RAMPAGE and SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN producing stuff aimed at younger audiences. From what I’ve heard they’re pretty good although they don’t seem to be particularly aimed at ‘comic book fans’ more kids who like the films/cartoons (although how anyone could like the abomination that is the new Spidey cartoon I just do not know).

TIM STEVENS: Wow… classy. Very classy…

Jamie Hatton gets engaged to be married! [Details: Here]

IAIN BURNSIDE: Congratulations to Jamie and Dani and all the beautiful couples of the Nexus! Now, will some kind lady be good enough to take pity on me…?


TIM STEVENS: Isn’t this just huge? To step out of my sarcastic, cynical mindset for a moment, I can’t even tell you how thrilled I am for the Comics Nexus’s second hottest couple (sorry, I gotsta put Janelle and I in the lead… or she’ll never talk to me again). Congrats to all parties. And, I am available to man the wheels of steel if you need a DJ.

KEVIN MAJHONEY: Hey! My wife and I married October 9th of 2004… We resent being the Nexus’ third hottest couple. She’s way too sexy for third best!

PAUL SEBERT: Congratulations Jamie!

MATT MORRISON: See, I don’t feel the need to comment because I know my lady and I are hot and we’re modest enough not to brag about it. Your boasting shows poor breeding. 😀

ANDY “COOLER THAN DAVE” CAMPBELL: Congratulations! My fiance and I are in the midst of a long engagement as well, as our wedding won’t be until 2007 (ugh).

Now I have to see if she’ll co-write my reviews with me so we can compete for that top spot! 😉

MICHAEL MAILLARO: Congrats to all! I’m getting married in a month and a day! No threat of my fiance helping with my column or reviews anytime soon. She’s a comic fanatic, but my writing is my “me time.”

JAMIE HATTON: Thanks Iain – Thanks guys – Oh, and all you comic reading ladies… just so both of you know. I’m officially off the market. Seriously though, it’s a long engagement and she and I are exceptionally happy – and until Paul or Tim’s girls are actually writing columns with them, me and Dani are going to hold that top spot. Neighsayers can argue in the forums. Let’s get ready to rumble!

Thanks again.

WILL COOLING: Congratulations to everyone getting married! I of course take credit as I’ve been playing a Barry White album all week… sure there’s a big ocean between us but you can’t underestimate the luuuuve power of the man!

Join our newsletter

never miss the latest news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary for Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games!