Do X-Men fans still want Doug Goldstein’s head on a platter? Will Zero Hour clean up DC’s continuity? Who will Todd McFarlane offend in his very first column? Find out in this week’s Guide to the Guide to Comics!
WildC.A.T.s, which was consistently a Top 10 book during this era, makes the cover. This was a series that seemed to have everything going for it, but couldn’t seem to maintain any consistent fan support by the end of the ‘90s. The initial issues of WildC.A.T.s were an unashamed mix of everything from G. I. JOE to X-Men, rendered by Jim Lee at the height of his career. If the X-Men were even prettier and had an assortment of hi-tech gear and vehicles and fought shapechanging aliens, they might just be the WildC.A.T.s. It’s hard to imagine a more commercially conceived comic. It’s not surprising Playmates and CBS saw a lucrative franchise in the concept. And yet, kids didn’t seem to connect, and within a few years, comic fans seemed apathetic towards the ‘Cats. After the botched Grant Morrison/Jim Lee relaunch that lasted one issue, I think it could be years before anyone pursues the property again.
Anyway, in this month’s Wizard, we have…
Articles on Jim Lee (“Exposing Covert Activities”), Alan Moore (“The Unexplored Medium”), and Dan Jurgens (“Doomsayer”).
A retrospective on Devil Dinosaur.
Features on eight on-the-rise comics talents, and a look at “the Japanese style of comics,” manga.
This is exciting…the results of Wizard’s annual Halloween contest.
The regular columns include Pat O’Neill’s “The ED.”, Palmer’s Picks, Hollywood Heroes, Bart Sears’ Brutes & Babes, Toying Around, and Wizard of Cards. Also, this month marks the debut of Todd McFarlane’s column, E.G.O.
The Departments are the usual blend of letters, fan art, trivia, opinion pieces, Top 10 lists, the Wizard Profile, and market information.
The letter column opens with…oh, c’mon, this is past the point of ridiculousness…Doug Goldstein once again defending his stance that Iron Man could take on the X-Men. After months of abuse, he’s modified his view to say that the X-Men could actually defeat Iron Man as a team, but one-on-one, Iron Man could take any X-Man with the exceptions of Professor X, Phoenix, Psylocke, and perhaps Kitty Pryde.
Now, is this settled? Can everyone please let this go? Could you imagine the response of these adolescent X-fanatics if they learned that Marvel would one day be run by people who don’t seem to even like the X-Men very much?
Other letters address the state of smaller comic companies following the glut of the Summer of ’93, controversy over Wizard’s decision to include random chase cards inside its polybags, the shocking revelation that the Maxx is a rabbit, and a rigorous defense of Quasar, who was often a source of ridicule…in fact, Quasar might’ve been the first established character to be mocked as a running joke in Wizard.
Top story: Marvel is suing Defiant over the Warriors of Plasm series, citing trademark infringement with the Marvel UK miniseries, Plasmer. Previously, Marvel and Defiant came to an agreement that Warriors of Plasm was acceptable in the place of Plasm, but Marvel now believes that the Warriors of section of the logo appears “pasted on” and added as an afterthought. Jim Shooter is confident that Defiant will win the case, and he turns out to be right, for all the good it did Defiant.
In other news…
- DC is raising the price of its mainstream titles from $1.25 to $1.50.
- Art Thibert has joined Extreme Studios.
- The Comic Book Talk Show is premiering on Channel 61 in Philadelphia.
- Malibu is publishing Rock-It Comics, featuring artists such as Metallica, Primus, Megadeth, and Soundgarden. Jim Balent will be penciling the Lita Ford comic.
This is a short-lived feature that asks two fans their opinion on the “hot topics in today’s markets.” This month’s subject is gimmick covers, which seem to be overwhelmingly hated.
The Unexplored Medium
Alan Moore speaks about the untapped potential in the comics medium, in addition to speaking about his previous work. Moore says that he turned down scripting a Watchmen movie for Terry Gilliam; he also rejected writing jobs on Robocop 2 and a Silver Surfer movie. Moore also reveals that John Constantine was created because artists Steve Bissette and John Totleben wanted to draw a character that resembled Sting in Swamp Thing. Moore’s amused that DC removed his references to Constantine’s similarity to Sting from the Swamp Thing trade introductions, given that Sting’s already stated he’s flattered by Constantine in Rolling Stone.
The Second Annual Wizard Halloween Costume Contest
We would call this “cosplay” today, and with the exception of a few people who do something really special, major comics sites don’t seem overly interested in the practice. Wizard uses reader-submitted Halloween costumes as an excuse for more insert jokes, which I’m going to assume were done good-naturedly. Some of the fans they’re picking on are eleven and twelve, though.
Brutes and Babes
Joe Quesada fills in for Bart Sears this month, offering his advice on effective cover design. Quesada always seemed to be very close to the Wizard crew, and it’s not hard to see the magazine’s influence on decisions he later made as Marvel’s EiC. Regarding this piece, I have to admit that Quesada did produce some impressive covers back in the day. Sleepwalker #12 definitely stood out on the racks.
Eight to the Fore
Wizard’s “eight to watch” feature, highlighting upcoming artists. They’ve chosen Greg Capullo, Bernard Chang, Darick Robertson, Glenn Fabry, Jim Balent, Christian Alamy, Dan Fraga, and Marat Mychaels. The only name that doesn’t ring a bell is Christian Alamy, who did Lobo work for DC in the early ‘90s. The choice of Greg Capullo as a rising star is questionable; he’d already penciled X-Force and was the first guest artist on Spawn. Anyone buying Wizard knew who Greg Capullo was! Also, why two choices from Extreme Studios?
Lea Hernandez explains the concept of manga to American readers. In future issues, she’ll write a monthly manga/anime feature for Wizard. It’s hard to deny her feature did a lot to expose manga to new audiences in the coming years.
A piece by freelance writer Rogers Cadenhead on Marvel’s Devil Dinosaur series. Devil Dinosaur was frequently used as a shorthand joke in Wizard during these days, but this piece is closer to what we’ll see during the blogging boom of the mid-2000s. A detailed retrospective that gives you background on an obscure character with only a minimal amount of disparagement; it’s written out of honest affection for the concept and not a desire to prove how clever the writer is. Cadenhead comments in the closing just how improbable a Devil Dinosaur revival is, but “if Challengers of the Unknown and Herbie the Fat Fury can have comebacks, there’s hope for a caring, nurturing tyrannosaur and his co-dependent prehistoric pal.”
Jokes about Devil Dinosaur drop out of the magazine not long after this article appeared; I don’t think it’s the reason why, though. Jack Kirby died in early 1994, and using one of his creations as a routine punching bag was probably viewed as disrespectful even by Wizard’s standards.
Andy Mangels dedicates this month’s column to the new wave of comics-inspired animated series debuting soon. We also learn that Robin will be featured in more episodes of Batman at the network’s request. The Cadillacs & Dinosaurs cartoon will feature work from Steven DeSouza (Die Hard) and Harlan Ellison and won’t be “dumbed down” for kids. It lasts one season.
Tom Palmer, Jr. spotlights Bone this issue…and for the next two years, Wizard’s just crazy for Bone. (That deserves its own juvenile Wizard joke.) Seriously, Wizard steadily promotes Bone for several months, exposing the title to an audience that I’m sure would’ve never noticed it without Wizard’s help.
Brian Cunningham reports that Todd McFarlane might go with Mattel for the Spawn toyline; he’s impressed that their prototype for the Violator had “a bloody heart sitting next to his feet.” (More on the McFarlane/Mattel relationship in this previous entry of Comic Book Legends Revealed.) In other news, there’s chatter that Star Wars toys might be returning. Kenner’s spokesman knows nothing about this, responding, “I didn’t even hear the rumors.”
The Wizard of Cards
Take cover, even more POG sets are launching. Also, the second series of Comics Future Stars cards is coming. This set, targeted at both comics and card speculators, hired established artists like Adam Kubert and Jae Lee to debut new characters on trading cards. I don’t know if any of the new “stars” actually made their way to a comic book series, but it’s telling that fans of this era seemed desperate for new heroes. That attitude is essentially dead by the end of the decade.
Picks from the Wizard’s Hat & More Picks
This issue’s top pick is Solar, Man of the Atom #29. It has all of the elements Wizard can’t resist: a Joe Quesada cover and a Valiant superhero. That seems to be the magazine’s criteria for a “hot” book in these days. Another top pick this month is Defiant’s Dark Dominion #1, featuring the edgy work of hotshots Jim Shooter and Steve Ditko. (As reported pages earlier in this magazine, Dark Dominion’s creative team is actually Len Wein and Joe Phillips. Steve Ditko apparently dropped out because he was overworked with Topps Comics assignments.)
Elsewhere in October 1993, the Toyman will kill Cat Grant’s son in Superman, the X-Men and Avengers are crossing over, the recently reprinted Vertigo Children’s Crusade crossover has begun, and Wolverine will encounter a hostile Alpha Flight in Wolverine #76 (except, when the issue ships, only Heather Hudson and Puck appear and they’re both pretty calm.)
Wizard’s been free of typos for a few issues now, but there’s a great one this issue. In the More Picks section, John Byrne comments that his Next Men character Jack will convert to Catholicism and “get region.” Isn’t it crazy when someone you’ve known for years suddenly gets region?
Top 100 – September 1993
Marvel has five books in the Top 10, DC has two, and Image maintains three. The top-selling title is Wolverine #75 (which is honestly a good comic.) Team Youngblood debuts at Number Seven, and there’s even a Venom miniseries at Number Nine. The #100 book is Warlock Chronicles #5.
Top 10 – October 1993
Daredevil #320 is the top back issue of the month, based on Wizard’s amorphous standards. It’s the first Marvel back issue to top the list since Uncanny X-Men #201 (technically Cable’s first appearance) back in issue #11. What’s so special about Daredevil #320? It’s the first official chapter of “Fall from Grace,” the storyline that introduced Daredevil’s armor. Issue #319, the prelude chapter, also comes in at #4. Valiant, previously the king of this list, is down to two entries at #7 and #8.
Wizard Market Watch
Wizard reports that DC has revived interest in Superman and Batman comics, gimmick issues are still selling well in spite of fan complaints, and demand for Valiant back issues has possibly peaked. One dealer in Atlanta was selling his Valiant comics for 50% off this summer!
Wizard’s Top Ten Hottest Artists are…
- Todd McFarlane
- Jim Lee
- Joe Quesada
- Marc Silvestri
- Bart Sears
- Erik Larsen
- Sam Kieth
- Greg Capullo
- Bernard Chang
- Dave Lapham
And now…writers, too!
Wizard’s Top Ten Hottest Writers are…
- Neil Gaiman
- Peter David
- Frank Miller
- Alan Moore
- John Byrne
- Jim Shooter
- Fabian Nicieza
- John Ostrander
- Mike Grell
- Bob Layton
Wizard Price Guide
Wizard has now added “If you missed…” (later renamed “We read it for you…”), a blurb at the bottom of each page of the price guide that sums up the plot of recent comics. Some snarky commentary was often tossed into these blurbs, giving you a sense of how much Wizard staffers hated certain books, such as the DeFalco/Ryan Fantastic Four run. The cover reprints in the price guide are also more eclectic, with staffers singling out favorite back issues for attention. Finally, at the end of the price guide, we have a listing of the eighteen retailers who contributed information used for determining Wizard’s price listing. Youngblood #1 has risen to $12.00, by the way. The first issue of Valiant’s X-O Manowar is $36.00…unless you live in Atlanta, I guess.
E. G. O. (Everyone’s Got Opinions)
The inaugural Todd McFarlane column. This issue he attacks speculators, condemning them as “pigs of the industry.” Retailers complaining about unsold Image stock are dismissed by McFarlane: “I won’t give any credit to those who are stupid or greedy.”
So, what did we learn today?
- “DC broke Batman’s back, but everyone knows he’ll be back. Once Frank Castle is out of there, that’s it. He’s not going to be back. I think it’ll surprise people what Frank’s final fate is, and how and when it happens.” – Punisher editor Don Daley on the upcoming “Suicide Run” crossover. (Wizard News)
- “Fantastic Force was just a title tossed around at an editorial meeting. It was never actually planned as a real publication.” – Marvel’s Pat Garrahy (Wizard News)
- “As an artist, and having experienced things as a freelancer, there’s no way I’m going to follow pre-established corporate policies when dealing with freelancers.” – Jim Lee when asked if Image will become as corporate as Marvel or DC. (Exposing Covert Activities)
- “It’s a little odd for Image, in that it’s not really built around huge fight scenes…” – Steve Gerber on WildC.A.T.s Yearbook. (Exposing Covert Activities)
- “I think that it is no secret DC continuity is a mess…We’re inconsistent over the last five to six years, never mind the past 50, and that has to get taken care of.” – Dan Jurgens on the impetus for Zero Hour. (Doomsayer)
- Fabian Nicieza and Darick Robertson are not the creative team on X-Men Unlimited #6, which was also not Rogue’s origin story. That honor belongs to the exquisite X-Men Unlimited #4. David R. Henry’s review of that issue should never be forgotten. X-Men Unlimited #6, by the way, appears to be the Paul Smith Sauron bookshelf format book re-purposed as an issue of Unlimited.
- Dan Jurgens’ creator-owned miniseries Deuce “for an unnamed imprint of Malibu Comics” doesn’t materialize.
- Greg Capullo never pencils a Ripclaw miniseries for Marc Silvestri. Also, the tentative Spawn annual he’s scheduled to draw doesn’t materialize.
- Andy Mangels reports that the X-Men episode “A Rogue’s Tale” has been renamed “I Remember Mama.” The title is back to “A Rogue’s Tale” when the episode debuts.
- Marty Pasko leaves the Spider-Man series as showrunner while it’s still in development. John Semper replaces him, at the very last minute, according to his interviews.
- Todd McFarlane’s new “urban superhero” The Pulse does not star in film produced by Quincy Jones.
- Mike Judge does not follow Beavis and Butt-Head up with the live-action Camp Wannabarf. (I couldn’t find any information on this one online, but it sounds like someone hired Judge to do a comedy set at a summer camp. Maybe it was an adaptation of a children’s book with a similar name?)
This Ain’t HuffPo:
- There isn’t even a token piece apologizing for the unrealistic body expectations created by the depiction of Void on the cover.
- A blurb in the Table of Contents mocks the height of dwarf character Jacob Marlowe.
- There’s a joke in Magic Words at Quasar’s expense for once kissing Man-Thing on the forehead.
- Wizard Wonders…, a monthly question posed by the magazine in the letter column, asks how Tigra undergoes a bikini wax.
- A seventeen-year-old Catwoman cosplayer ranks a “Homina! Homina! Homina!” in her photo’s caption.
- There’s a joke this issue that has the gall to imply Whoopi Goldberg is not physically attractive.
- “You know what they say, the older the woman, the more her experience.” – Wizard’s comments on the Babe of the Month, Glory. Hunk of the Month Adam Warlock is objectified as well, to be fair.
Talkin’ ‘Bout Gen 13 (Relentlessly): This category is a little premature, but within a few issues, Wizard will hype Gen 13 so heavily you’d think they had stock in it. For the first time, the early ads for Gen X are promoting the book as Gen 13. Artist J. Scott Campbell is still credited as Jeffery Scott in the early ads, however. In other not-quite-Wildstorm news, the copyright on all of Jim Lee’s ads reads Aegis Entertainment, as opposed to Homage. In coming months, Marc Silvestri will also drop the Homage handle, while Lee abandons Aegis for Wildstorm.
Commercial Break: Wizard runs a second-rate “say no to drugs” ad, and I can’t tell if it’s meant as a joke. (Previous issues also ran small “stay in school” ads that I’m sure worked wonders.) Given the pervasiveness of drug culture today, I could picture a 2016 Wizard running a feature suggesting which strain to smoke while reading which comic, with a sidebar feature asking Grant Morrison for his thoughts.
I Love the ‘90s: Prime is scheduled to meet the thirteen-year-old Chelsea Clinton in Prime #6.
Cheap and Stupid and Trashy?: Nah. Wizard’s actually expanding the range of comics it covers, and there’s less emphasis this issue on collectability. Sure, there’s plenty to hate if you’ve already made your mind up about the magazine, but I personally think Wizard’s kind of fun during this era.
Special thanks to Chris Pearce for sending me that scan of that incredible ring ad. If you have any suggestions for future entries, let me know in the comments section. Until next week, you can find me on Not Blog X and on Twitter.