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Welcome to the one hundred and nineteenth chapter in the latest volume of the long-running gossip and rumour column for the comic book industry. Over ten years damnit! Written by British comics commentator, me, Rich Johnston, it’s read by comic book professionals and readers alike. Loved and hated equally, every Monday (ish) it brings the stories not-quite-ready-for-primetime, a look behind the curtain, a sniff of the toilet seat, the worst and the best that the comics industry can inspire. Go in with your eyes open, your blinkers off and a peg on your nose.

As for the traffic lights, RED means that the story is unlikely to be true, and you should read that with that context. AMBER signifies an identifiable agenda/slant or bias in the source that may affect the work, or that the source isn’t clear, or another factor that might bring the piece into doubt. GREEN means that the story feels right to me, my gut instinct says go for it. However, as is often the case, while the gist may be correct, the detail may be wrong – and in fact I may be having an off day and the whole thing may be buggered. It wouldn’t be the first time.

So there you go.

And for those whe read “Avengers,” thar be spoilers… for “Identity Crisis,” thar be speculation.

MAY THE FORESKIN BE WITH HIM

[Green Light]

Recently, on Aint It Cool News, regular Hercules wrote about the rumoured “Star Wars” series, and who he’d like to see running it. He stated “I’d drop a huge pile of cash in the laps of ‘Authority’/’Global Frequency’ creator Warren Ellis and ‘Wanted’ creator Mark Millar to help. Well, it’s fun to think about.”

For some, maybe. Ellis told me “I really have no interest in ‘Star Wars,’ seeing as I’m no longer nine years old.

“That sound you just heard was my agent and manager killing themselves.”

And why am I leading with this? Well, Warren Ellis will be writing next week’s Lying In The Gutters when I’m away in Turkey.

SEE THE LIGHT

[Green Light]

The new Wizard Magazine celebrates Wolverine 30th anniversary, by getting modern popular artists to reprise classic Wolverine covers. Steve McNiven does Frank Miller’s “Wolverine” 1, Joe Quesada does “Hulk” 340 and John Cassday does “Uncanny X-Men” 141.

While the others take some liberties with the image, John Cassaday… well…

And courtesy of John Benson,

Can we say lightbox, people?

In the same issue of Wizard, “Young Gun” Oliver Coipel says he’ll be taking over “Ultimate X-Men” – though Joe Quesada has been saying Copeil’s next project is a secret.

Probably not a secret if Wizard prints it.

FALLEN ANGEL

[Yellow Light]

I understand that IDW have stolen the licence for “Angel” comics out from under Dark Horse Comics’ noses…

JOHN DOKES, WELCOME

[Green Light]

What would a new hire at Marvel be without a photo to haunt his ever waking move, right Dan?

Oh, that felt good. Happy memories.

So here, ladies and Gentlemen, is new Marvel Marketing guy John Dokes.

Actually, he seems to be a little bit too good looking for comics. Find him in a DVD boxset near you…

Look at him, he’s crazy dancing.

Tell me John, what happened on the way to the nineties?

KRUEGER CUT

[Green Light]

As Jim Krueger recovers from a series of personal and professional problems, his schedule is starting to heat up again. He’s just finished his first novel, a horror screenplay and he’s writing a well-known video game.

Presumably those delayed Image books will be coming round the corner any day now.

I feel a Waiting For Tommy coming on.

SOURCE OF THE AMAZON

[Green Light]

Amazon’s advance book listings gave a few indications of the kind of trade paperbacks Marvel will be publishing for the year… here are a few snippets. However, remember that Amazon are very bad at removing old “rogue” projects…

But then there’s always… “X-Men: The Complete Age Of Apocalypse Epic.” April.

Or possibly “X-Men: Complete Age Of Apocalypse Volume 1.” April.

Not to mention “Marvel Visionaries Stan Lee Hardcover.”

And more…

And for those fans who’ve been clamouring…

She-Hulk Volume 1: Single Green Female” by Dan Slott, Juan Bobillo.

X-Statix vs. the Avengers” by Peter Milligan.

All you who wait for the trades, get your checklists ready.

Being reprinted, but not on the lists yet, is “Unstable Molecules” by James Sturm and Guy Davis. My favourite Marvel project last year, Eisner Winner for Best Limited Series, it is most definitely not a Fantastic Four comic, though may be of interest to FF readers. It’s sits much more alongside the product you’d expect from Alternative of Slave Labor or Oni. It also happens to be the best book Marvel’s published since the glory days of Epic (the first time round). Don’t miss it again. Retailers, get your back orders in for this one now…

CONTINUING AGE

[Green Light]

I understand the previously mentioned “Age Of Apocalypse” books will have new original material – and there will be a new 10th anniversary spinoff series from Chris Bachalo, who has already drawn the first two issues.

STRETCHING A NAME

[Yellow Light]

Up until a few weeks ago, the mother character in the new Pixar/Disney movie “The Incredibles” was still called Elastigirl.

Thanks to a few well-placed DC lawyers waving copies of “Doom Patrol” in their faces, she’s now being identified on some promotional material as Mrs. Incredible. Will the film be rerecorded to make those changes?

EX PAT DOWN PAT

[Green Light]

Cover to the new B Clay Moore/Latour comic, “The Expatriate.”

CROSS BIDS

[Green Light]

So who are the principle bidders for CrossGen?

I’m told that Warner Bros are bidding only on the movie rights (and the considerable pre-production that comes with them) – the bid comes from the Hollywood side, not the comics side. Classic Media have bid for the whole thing and while Disney has yet to bid, it is expected to. Stalking horse John Taddeo is linked to another bidder

It seems that a number of people who were approached to invest previously are now returning to the corpse, as Marc Alessi is no longer involved.

However the auction is only the beginning. The entertainment business is like the gold rush. It wasn’t the people mining for gold who made all the money — it was the people who sold picks and shovels.

DYNAMIC FARCES

[Yellow Light]

Dynamic Forces, while they’re giving away signed Bendis comics in a competition right now, are also promoting that they have to sell all their Marvel statues and lithographs to make space – or they’re being disposed of.

This may however have less to do with stock issues as their press release state, but with losing the Marvel license for statues, lithographs and magnets. While Dynamic Forces remain in business with Marvel, look for Marvel to partner another company for statues (one name mentioned is Diamond Select) and another (possibly Clamp?) for the lithograph/poster contract.

When contacted, Nick Barrucci stated, “While this might seem a great blow to Dynamic Forces, long term this will be a great blow to the fans and to Marvel. In regards to lithographs, DF has created some of the finest fine art the comics industry has ever seen, and no matter what others might think, there is no #2 to take their place. DF created fine art that ranged from the affordable for all fans, to high-end pieces that shined in art galleries. And in regards to the statues and busts, while some may argue that Bowen is still the best, even his sales have fallen, and as for DST, well, their quality is the worst in the industry. Checking out the newest issue of Previews will show you that with the Kitty Pryde and Captain America pieces. As many have noted, and I will for the moment, DF is one of the most creative forces in our industry, and they are in this business for the long haul. In the long run, it is Marvel who will miss out on the quality sculpts and innovative designs that DF have created, and ultimately, it will be the fans that will miss out on these not appearing on the shelves.”

THE WORLD WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AFTER JANET JACKSON’S PIERCED NIPPLE.

[Green Light]

Earlier in the year, I reported that Frank Cho was going to be asked by Marvel to redraw “Shanna,” to make it no longer a MAX series with bouncing boobies, as part of an editorial interpretation of the desires of Avi Arad and Ike Perlmutter to make Marvel’s product more family friendly.

At the time Frank poured much scorn on such a concept.

In the new Wizard, he reports that he’s changing the art to make it Marvel Knights suitable and not MAX suitable.

Any chance of a 50/50 variant, Marvel?

WITCH AVENGER?

[Green Light]

I understand that Scarlet Witch is the Avengers “baddie” – the person behind all this death and destruction all over the place. Indeed, the clue is in the title of the story arc, “Chaos” – a reference to the chaos magic nature of Scarlet Witch’s powers as they’re currently explained.

Shame, I always preferred her powers in the Byrne-style, as a walking retcon.

CRISIS OF INFINITE THEORIES

[Yellow Light]

Let’s have some more wild “Identity Crisis” theories! As to last weeks, Mark Peyton states, “Geoff Johns denied Zoom’s involvement months ago and said he was part of a Flash storyline.”

A message in my inbox tells me, “Everybody is wrong about the ‘Identity Crisis’ killer. If you read any of Brad Meltzer books then you would know the killer is Ralph Dibny himself! Well not the killer or killers, just the mastermind of it all. Dibny was tired of being a 3rd rate hero and wanted to show them all. Didny came up with a plan that even the Bats can’t solve. Just think about it, when a wife is murderd who is the first suspect? Plus DC doesn’t plan on having a Ralph Dibny comic ever so its no loss to them.”

While T Rath tells me, “I think the Calculator is behind it all. But I don’t think the Calculator is doing the killing, just the mastermind. I’m guessing it’s Boomerang that’s doing the killing. Merlyn is a possibility, as there’s a great deal of focus on him, but I think that’s just Meltzer trying to use an ‘archer’ theme with both sides of the narration.

“Take a look at who has been tageted so far: Elongated Man, Atom. We are all guessing, based on the cover to issue no. 5, Robin suffers the next loss. So what about those three is the link to the Calculator? There is none.

“But what if Jack Drake is the intended victim, but not to hurt Robin? What if he’s the victim to hurt Black Canary? Jack Drake could be the brother, cousin, nephew et al to Canary’s mother Dinah Drake. The bonus is in hurting Batman, though indirectly.

“Plus we have Green Arrow as the narrator, which means, I’m guessing, that Connor is in danger. That would put the victims right in line with the back-up series in Detective that introduced the Calculator. The only one I’m at a loss for is Hawkman. Up to this point, all victims have been introduced. Any connections to Hawkman would have to be brought in now, and that’s not murder mystery cricket.

“On the issue of motive/means:

“* Who benefits? Calculator gets the dual benefit of additional revenue plus revenge on the Leaguers he fought in his debut (Atom, Elongated Man, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Black Canary, Batman). Boomerang needs his star to rise again in the villain community, as he’s currently looked on as a buffoon. Add to that the conversation between Calculator and Boomerang where Calc says “not after you…”, Boomerang owes Calculator for finding Boomerang’s son, and Boomerang was a member of the Suicide Squad so it’s a simple matter to use the m.o. of fellow operatives.

“* Who has the means? Boomerang claims to have Miraclo – maybe he actually does or something similar enough to boost strength. He’d need it to overpower Sue, who’s been shown to be competant in self-defense and Boomerang is, well, a putz, which explains the half-assed attack on Jean. If Calculator is being established as the anti-Oracle, it would be a relatively simple matter to get secret ID’s for Canary, Hawkman & Green Arrow.

“* How could the attacker get past the security? A couple of ways – use of the Shadow Thief’s belt (he’s strung out) or use of the teleporter in the Injustice Gang satellite. I think it’s the teleporter. Remember, that was one of the first things the heroes talked about after the killing of Jean, which teleporters were still at large, and we know it works because we saw Dr. Light ‘port in.

“I know the Drake connection between Robin and Canary was floated by Dixon and dismissed by DC honchos but I think for a special mini like this, that’s getting press coverage, they will reverse course and allow Meltzer to make that tie. However we won’t learn that until issue six or seven. Jack Drake’s death will be looked at by the heroes as a Batman attack when really it’s a Canary attack. The Lois note is a red herring to take the heroes away from Drake. I also think that the killer will be caught when he tries an attack on Green Arrow’s kid.

“Remember, Meltzer said he wanted to amp up the bad guys, make them feared. So I don’t see a rogue hero, even if s/he’s mind controlled. By the end, I’m guessing Boomerang is caught (probably dies before he can give up the information on who the mastermind is), Merlyn may help in his capture/demise to halt the hunt for mask killers, and Calculator is set-up as a premier bad guy.

“All the other ‘suspects’ – Zoom, Key, Snapper Carr, aren’t the way proper murder mysteries are constructed. No suspects that weren’t introduced early. So if you didn’t see them in issues 1 or 2, they are not the killer.”

Okay, my head is actually hurting now. Maybe I should actually read this comic…

THEY KEEP ON COMING

[Green Light]

Here’s the cover to the sequel to “One Bad Day,” “Another Bad Day.”

Marie is sporting an eye patch and will be on the run from crazy punks with bazookas, attack helicopters, and rabid rats with a penchant for pumpernickel.

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO ROB

[Yellow Light]

Those of you who know me, will know that I like Rob Liefeld. I like a lot of the energy of his work, and while the jokes are easy, I kinda feel comics are better for it having him in there. These days, he’s a genial guy, has a lot of time for his friends and he’s knocked a little of the ego on its head.

But sometimes he makes it too easy.

The Millarworld Rob Liefeld thread, immense, continuing and ever divergent remained your best bet to find out what the boy’s up to. But Rob’s continued presence on Millarworld’s boards seemed under threat from the moderators there

So Mark Millar restarted a new Rob Liefeld thread … guaranteed Millarworld moderator free.

Like this week, when he fired Robert Kirkman off “Youngblood Imperial,” for being late with the issue 2 plot. A comic for which Rob himself is months late finishing the issue 0 art on.

And considering the amount Mychaels art veered from the issue 1 script, it might be argued Mychaels didn’t need it at all to start work on the issue…

Fabian Nicieza has now been brought on board – and he’s a dab hand at reworking dialogue to fit pretty much whatever’s happening on the page… he made those “Cable: First Contact” pages oh-so-smooth into the latest “X-Force.”

“Youngblood Bloodsport 2” still remains an intangible asset, solicited for September. And what about “Youngblood Genesis?” Issue 3 was reportedly “in the can” back in May 2003. Now apparently, it’s not being produced because the plot needed too many changes. And “Supreme?” Just this week referring to a Kirkman penned “Supreme” one-shot, Rob revealed that he was halfway through drawing it. In June he claimed he finished drawing it a year ago.

The plan was that all these books would come out when Rob’s star on “X-Force” was in ascendent at Marvel. Well, issue 2 shipped, issue 3 is on the way, and these Arcade books… well, aren’t. And now Rob’s reporting that Marvel have gone black over his getting an extra-issue to finish off his “X-Force” run, not to mention other work after the end of the arc.

Mind you, I can talk. Where is “Holed Up” issue 3 anyways?

CUT AND PASTE

[Yellow Light]

“X-Force” 2’s cover has the legend “After Jack.” But which Jack Kirby visual did Rob Liefeld use as inspiration?

Maybe it wasn’t that Jack…

Mind you, there was this as well… and that’s a lot closer.

RABBITS UP HIS BUM

[Green Light]

Be here next week. Hopefully CBR’s server will be more than a smoking hole when I return…

BABY SHOWER

[Green Light]

While I’m away, I decided to put a bunch of graphic novels up on eBay. Have a browse, see what you can find…

RECRUITING IN THE GUTTERS

If you’ve got a story, talk to me. Your identity will remain anonymous unless you wish otherwise. You can choose a pseudonym and join the ranks of the Gutterati. Or be a demon reposter, join the Gutter Snipes and spread the word about stories in this column across the Internet, where relevant. Then tell me where you’ve put them up – the more mainstream the better!

You can contact me at:

  • mailto:richjohnston@gmail.com
  • AOL Instant Message me at TwistRich
  • 0780 1350982 (01144780 1350982 from N America)
  • Anthrax packages can be sent to 8 Robin Hood Lane, Kingston Vale, London SW15 3PU, ENGLAND

Be seeing you.

Discuss this column on the Lying In The Gutters Forum.
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