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LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 56

Welcome to the most popular and longest running comics column on the internet. In its various forms, Lying In The Gutters has covered rumours and gossip in the comics industry for twelve long glorious and quite scary years.

All stories are sourced from well-connected individuals and checked with respective publisher representatives before publication. Mostly. The veracity of each story is judged by me and given a spotlight - Green is the most reliable, Amber means there's likely an interest involved or the likelihood isn't set and Red means even I can't quite bring myself to believe it.

Lying In The Gutters is for your entertainment. Neither Fair Nor Balanced.

WOO!

[Green Light]Garth Ennis and John Woo are both names that have been bandied around the Indian/US publisher Virgin Comics.

Until now, we didn't know they were working on the same book. Or that it would be called "Seven Brothers."

But now we do.

Here's the teaser ad I found in my inbox.

NBC'S HEROES

[Green Light]So last week, I get a DVD through the post from an American broadcaster called NBC. The pilot episode to something called "Heroes."

This is NBC's new superhero TV series starting this autumn in the US, so probably in the UK in January or February. Or June if the BBC gets it.

The pilot, which is in an unready-for-broadcast state (though looks more ready than most British sci-fi shows) opens with the following scrolling text:

"In recent days, a seemingly random group of individuals has emerged with what can only be described as 'special abilities.'

"Although unaware of it now, these individuals will not only save the world, but change it forever. This transformation from ordinary to extraordinary will not occur overnight. Every story has a beginning.

"Volume One of their epic tale begins here..."

It's not often a TV show basically says right off you're going to have to devote five years of your life to watching this. And when they do, they end up getting cancelled after series two. Yes, "Carnivale," I'm looking at you.

The show is created by Tim Kring, who seems to have been around the US TV writing circuit, and created something called "Crossing Jordan" which I've never seen and, from the description. I have no desire to. He also wrote "Teenwolf, Too." It wasn't looking good.

After the chapter title, "In His Own Image," placed as part of the scenery like "Teachers," we start to meet the cast, each with their separate, separated stories. A congressman candidate's brother jumps off a tenement building, and it was all a dream. And now thinks he can fly and see the future. An Indian teacher whose father has died in mysterious circumstances and whose research into super people across the world is being bagged and tagged by American agents. A webcam stripper in Vegas with an alternate personality who does bad things and a brilliant young child being chased by the mob. A Texan bridge jumper who keeps trying to kill herself unsuccessfully, with her nerdish cameraman. A Japanese geek who can warp space and time while making references to "X-Men" #143 when trying to teleport into the ladies. A drug addled clairvoyant painter who paints of an apocalypse to come. As you do. Oh and there is a solar eclipse.

I quite liked it. And I really wasn't expecting to. It's not all twenty year olds playing high schoolers, which makes a change. It's international. The characters are rough, and don't fit into all the usual stereotypes. They even play around with the idea of what a "hero" means, and the motivations behind that. There are some links between the people, common interests or people. Presumably as the show continues, we will discover more links that will draw them together. But right now it's beautifully disjointed - as are many of the people whose lives we follow.

Superpowers are hidden, revealed more like "Unbreakable." And it doesn't have the action tone I'd expect from the likes of "24" or "Lost." It's more like the background stories to "Lost." It reminds me of "Short Cuts." A bit. But with superpowers. It's also leagues ahead of "The 4400," "Mutant X" and "Smallville." It's a bit more... grown up really. No pop culture cracks, the dialogue is less stylised - I mean it's not "The Wire." Few things are. There are a few clichés that stick out and the ending twist was as predictable as me using the word "hell" in the next paragraph.

But I'd watch the second episode. Hell, I'll probably download it from some nefarious source before Sky One or Five get a chance to show it in the UK.

LET FREEDOM RING

[Green Light]It seems all anyone can talk about is gays these days. Well not Robert Kirkman.

I mean his new character appearing in "Marvel Team Up," Freedom Ring, may well be of that orientation. But you won't find that aspect talked about in the New York Post gossip columns. Well, not intentionally anyway. In fact, Robert seems to want to keep this low key.

DC may not have intended the "lesbian Batwoman" story to get quite as much press as it did. DiDio has defended it as being a rational and intelligent story choice, rather than a publicity gimmick. But, unlike past responses from DC, they have seized the reigns and are exploiting the mostly-positive response they've received.

Marvel are playing a more careful game. They were badly burnt over "Rawhide Kid," which received a much more negative media spin, to the extent that Joe Quesada stated that no gay character could have a solo lead Marvel book without it being a MAX title, for over 18s only. The climate, as demonstrated by Batwoman, has been changing however. And although a lesbian character is more easily acceptable by a conservative media than a gay character, it seems that Marvel may be taking a few steps back into this arena.

Freedom Ring, like "Young Avenger" characters Hulking and Wiccan, is not a lead character in his own book. But his prominence in "Marvel Team Up" is pretty much up there. And while the character may not be of a high profile as the Bat franchise, and he's playing alongside Spider-Man. It's a visible sign that things are changing for the better.

SPOILING CIVIL WAR

[Green Light]There are some companies and creators who will publicly and privatelydespair of the occasional spoilerage this column engages in. Even whenwhited out, or obliquely hidden, it's been known to enrage a few here or there.

Of course, when a publisher spoils themselves, its entirely different.So if you are buying "Civil War" comics this week, make sure you readissue 2 of "Civil War" before issue 103 of "Thunderbolts."

A number of websites have received what they describe as threateningmessages from Marvel over the possibility they might reveal plotdetails from the issue of "Thunderbolts." It apparently went out in lastweek's First Peek pack, where retailers get an advance look at titlesshipping the following week. And, as a background scene on the firstpage, gave away the major spoiler from the end of "Civil War" #2.

Mile High Comics ran a preview of the page in question. Now removed obviously.

I'd tell you what the spoiler is, but it's been going round for agesand I can't be arsed. Bendis Board and Millarworld are removingthreads like crazy. And for the Byrne board I prescribe a quickreading of a Gail Simone blog.

Of course, UK retailers didn't get their Marvel Sneak Peek at all last week due to a distribution error...

I'M SUPERMAN THANKS FOR ASKING

[Green Light]And for signs that they're not...

You know, Lying In The Gutters was first with this story as well, here, here and here. You know there's only one place you need to come for all your comics/gay related gossip first, and your ill-advised-verging-on-the-possibly-homophobic headlines.

MORE GAS ESCAPES

[Green Light]"Black Gas II" from Warren Ellis, Max Fiumara and Avatar. Escaping from Smoky Island to the safety of the mainland? Not if the smog gets there first...

"Mischief Night" by Brian Pulido and Juan Jose Ryp. Six years after the film, Jenny and Jack are back.

"Bad Moon Rising" by Prian Pulido and Wellington Alves. 100 years after the movie, Black Jack Hatchet is reborn, and is after the great-great-grandaughter of Wyona.

SEVEN SOLDIERS ON

[Green Light]JH Williams has commented on the delay to "Seven Soldiers," now slipping several months until September. He writes:

"hey all, just wanted to pipe in here and give my two cents for what it's worth. i apologize that seven soldiers has gotten so screwed up. the script wasn't fully ready until recently and i needed to have some work so i did a single issue for detective. i know that DC has solicited the following issue of detective as me doing that as well. however that is wrong info. i had to finish the 821 issue of detective while waiting on script for seven soldiers. that came in while workingon detective so now i am fully working on seven soldiers fulltime. but one of the other reasons it will take so long is that it will be a monster of a task. the issue is loaded with all kinds of stuff that is taking some serious care from the drawing side of things. hopefully you will all see what i mean when the issue does make it to your book shelf. i will be returning to batman stuff when seven soldiers finally wraps"

And when his shift key starts working too, I hope.

STARDUST IN THEIR EYES

[Green Light]Neil Gaiman's "Stardust" movie, directed by Matthew Vaughn is already star studded. Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Ricky Gervais, Robert DeNiro, Sienne Miller, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jason Flemyng, Riupert Everett, Dexter Fletcher, Peter O'Toole and more.

Now I understand that Julian Barret ("The Mighty Boosh") and David Walliams ("Little Britain") will be playing the parts of the Princess.

I've worked with them both on ads for Nationwide and you haven't. Hopefully they'll get a little more screen time than Mark Heap and Kevin Eldon did in "Charlie And The Chocolate Factory."

I hear Dexter Fletcher complained to Jason Flemyng that they didn't get to do any scenes together, reuniting the "Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels" team. Jason had to point out that he shouldn't complain - after all, Dexter's scenes had all been with DeNiro.

THINGS AIN'T WHAT THEY USED TO BE

[Green Light]Did you hate the rubber Thing in the "Fantastic Four" movie? Do you wish that his costume had looked more… rocky? What if they used actual rocks?

Go find out

DRACULA BY LEE

[Green Light]Jae Lee is illustrating a new edition of "Dracula," out in September.

Pretty pretty pretty.

LEE LINES

[Green Light]"Robin Hood - Outlaws's Pride". Early 2007. Tony Lee and Sam Hart, With a templar friar Tuck...

I do hope he'll fly. There certainly seems to be a lot of Hood in the air. BBC One have a new Robin Hood series in their rediscovered-family-entertainment-Doctor-Who slot, and Warren Ellis has a series on the go, too. I wonder if I can jump on that bandwagon in my usual mercenary manner? More of that in a minute.

Look, Tony Lee gets higher billing than Oeming...

HOW TO RUN FOR SENATE THE MARVEL WAY

[Green Light]Jim Webb's Virginia campaign ad for the US Senate

"How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way" by John Buscema.

And talking of political swipe files -- Ann Coulter:

"I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much.

"These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, revelling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis.

"And by the way, how do we know their husbands weren't planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling, they'd better hurry up and appear in Playboy. . ."

Ted Rall:

DISCO INFERNO

[Green Light]John Byrne Vs Alan Moore. Again.

"It's a shame, then, to see characters like this fall into the hands of the deconstructionists -- especially someone like Moore, who seems to really have no story to tell beyond "everything you know is a lie"."

John Byrne Vs England. Again.

"Something happened to England after I left. The people who had fought thru the Blitz, survied Dunkirk, produced Shakespeare, carved an empire upon which the sun never set --- morphed into a nation of nihilistic whiners. 'Fascist England,' a term that could be coined only by someone who had never personally experienced Fascism."What the %#^# happened?"

John Byrne Banning Any Discussion Of "Superman Returns."

"I am sick to death of opening this thread and finding post after post that clearly shows me that I, and those who think like me, have been wasting our time for the past twenty, thirty, forty years, working on superhero comics. None of the lessons we have tried to teach have sunk in. Superman can desert the Earth. Lois can have a bastard kid. Doesn't matter. Just make it fast and loud and shiny."No more. I'm shutting down this thread. If you want to discuss this movie, find somewhere else to do it. Such chatter is no longer welcome here."

Time for that Gail Simone blog.

SOUNDING BELL

[Green Light]Steve Bell has been an in house cartoonist for The Guardian for 25 years

Hear him talk about it all.

HE'S THOR. WRAPPED IN PLASTIC.

[Green Light]It's all gone a little political hasn't it? Thank goodness for "'80s Tees" and their parade of shonky Marvel licensed product including...

Thor's Hammer.

Thor's Helmet

And Thor's T-Shirt

NEXT WEEK

[Green Light]Next week's column will be late, as I'm being flown out to Copertino, in Southern Italy, to see where "The Flying Friar" was set. I'll also be missing the last day of Comics Showcase, on Charing Cross Road, London on the Saturday. It should be a comics-celebrity-star-studded day, and the cheapest comics and graphic novels on the planet. Go there, tell me how it went, send me photos.

There we go. A whole column and not one mention of Lost Gir...

Nearly. Nearly had me.

I was just going to say that, thanks to current ad buys, both Newsarama and Comic Book Resources and making money from pornography. And that just lights my soul.

SMALL PRINT

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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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