I am currently taking some time off the column after the birth of my second daughter, Alice Johnston (catch up with the latest here) but will be able to write the occasional thing most Mondays.

Don't expect too much and you won't be disappointed, but you may also encounter a few unusual items. Such as this one.


I have in my hands a copy of the script for Ghost Box, part 1 or 6. Honest.


Oh how about a bit of panel description

Believe me now? Think I'm the new marvel_b0y? No? Oh well, please yourselves.

So what are the Ellis tropes? Well, no one smokes. There's only one phone call made. There's minor swearing. No one's British, let alone from Essex. There's some techy communication - Twitter gets a mention, but its appropriate to character. And there's a lot of use of the Moller Skycar as the X-Men's vehicular mode of choice - looks like the Blackberry version of the Blackbird.

The X-Men are now located in San Francisco and get pulled into a murder mystery by the local police - possibly involving unknown mutants. It seems to reflect the very first issue of X-Men, especially the relationship with society before it got a little conveluted.

This is very much a setting-the-scene issue, establishing the major players, checking their relationships are in place, giving a few a tweak (the Scott/Emma scenes are surprisingly efficient, effective and natural) and then ramping up the urgency and importance of solving the murder.

Emma Frost looks like she should be the most fun to write, yet its surprising how little that's come through save for Morrison and Whedon. But here, the character is in full flow and reveling in the asides and attitudes that separated her as much as it joined her to the book.

And in fact it's enjoyable to see Warren Ellis play off specific relationships and plot points that Joss Whedon set up and makes you wonder if he couldn't be persuaded to write something for Season Nine of "Buffy" in a few years time.

Ellis integrates a now-married, now-royal Storm nicely into the book, more successfully that she was in Fantastic Four, We have a new look at the principles behind superhero costumery.

This has all the feelings of those first issues when an exciting writer joins of late. It's no "Anatomy Lesson," nor should it be, but it does have the very bright fresh feeling of "New X-Men" #114, "X-Force" #116, "Marvel Knights Punisher" Vol 2, "Amazing Spider-Man" #30... something actually that the "Astonishing X-Men's "very first issue lacked.

This is of course just the script. Let's see what happens when Simone Bianchi gets to it.

And just 'cos I'm a nice fellow, a few rumour titbits:

ITEM! Potential speedster news, whited out not to spoil it for those who don't want to know. Barry Allen will return, leading the Black Lantern Corps. Mouse over the previous if you want to see the text.

ITEM! "Liberty Comics," a new one-shot, edited by Scott Dunbier, to raise money for the CBLDF, has a Mignola Hellboy cover, a new "Boys" story by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, a new "Criminal" story by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips as well as new stories by Mark Millar and Darwyn Cooke. Look for it at SDCC.

ITEM! The marvel_b0y blogger, exposed to the world in last week's LITG, has caused quite a storm at Marvel. Some people claim he's a plant, but internal word at Marvel indicated quite the opposite. There was anger, a sense of betrayal and the beginnings of a witch hunt. Visuals he posted were taken on the day they were shot, some details he gave were exact, and certain Marvel employees were given a grilling.

His blog has been deleted, so read the google cache while you can.

Highlights include:

1) SECRET INVASION - Bendis is finally going to get reunited with his man-crush. Looks like a bunch of the 70's heroes were replaced by Skrulls which means gold-shirt, tiara-wearing Cage is back. Not-so-Sweet Christmas. 2 weeks until Brevoort's praising this on his blog.

2) One word: MODOG (aka Fraction's brilliant new idea for an Iron Man villain)

3) Spider-Man - Brevoort and Slott got into a huge argument today on the phone over who exactly is coming back in Slott's Brand New Day arc in June. Those last pages are being drawn and Marvel's been saying a "red-head" is coming back, but now Slott wants a certain "blonde" to return. No idea how it ended or what was decided, Brevoort went into a conference room after and came out red-faced from either fighting until he won or pissed that he lost. Or there were red-hot candies in there and he stress-ate them. Personally, I think MJ should be back but if anyone can make Gwen's return work, it's Slott


They had one of their "creative" meetings in the big conference room today so a big group of us went in and sat down. Then five minutes into the meeting, Bogart looks over at us and 'politely' asks most of us to leave. All they were doing was talking about what characters each office is using. What the hell could it hurt to let us listen in and hear what we had to say? What I might actually upset someone if I pointed out that WE ALREADY HAVE AN IRON MAN BOOK AND CALLING THIS ONE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN ISN'T AN HOMAGE IT'S LAZY AND UNORIGINAL!!!!

This place is so frustrating. People need to get their heads out of their asses and realize a good idea is a good idea regardless of who came up with it. There are so many great characters here that I could make into kick ass stories but they're all afraid that if someone else comes up with an idea, then they'll look bad. Get over yourself! You EDIT comic books, you don't even write them. You take what someone else writes and tell them to change a phrase so you feel like you created something. You DIDN'T. Congratulations you're a glorified spell check. And God forbid if someone who is creative comes up with an idea. That might actually make you feel as small and worthless as you really are. That or making six photocopies of the latest joke you just approved for printing.

Whatever, F it, I'm getting another green beer and then I'm going to read the new issue of Lone Wolf and Cub. Oh, my bad, I mean Cable.

It looks like the blog was self deleted. Just after another poster identified certain other Skrulls, who shoots who and what blows up...

UPDATE: He's back...

ITEM! Where in the world is CrossGen's founder-and-bankruptor Marc Alessi? Here.Val Staples, Val Semeiks and people with dissimilar names may like to pop by.


Discuss this column at the Lying In The Gutters Forum and add your request to what you want from future columns.

My social networking is pretty much all Facebook these days, but I'm around at Bebo, MySpace, ComicSpace and Twitter, too.

You can see my Guido Fawkes cartoon most Mondays here. Here's the latest.

And my Wii number is 0512 2690 8446 2879

Contact me on richjohnston@gmail.com or on AOL Instant Messenger as TwistRich.

You can also write to me at 8 Robin Hood Lane, Kingston Vale, London SW15 3PU ENGLAND

Or call me/text me on 0780 1350982 from the UK or 01144780 1350982 from the US.

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