While it remains to be seen if Marvel Comics can live up to the buzz around it following the hiring of Joe Quesada as editor-in-chief, it's tough to argue that with the company's growing roster of surprising new faces.

[X-Force by Allred]The latest this-can't-be-for-real announcement came Monday, when Marvel posted the news on their Web site that Mike "Madman" Allred would be handling the art chores on a relaunched "X-Force" this spring.

Of course, Allred was brought in by another recent somewhat surprising addition to the House of Ideas: former DC/Vertigo editor Axel Alonso. Former Vertigo writer Pete Milligan will be writing the title, which will be dramatically different than the X-Force fans might remember.

"Peter and I went out for beers," Alonso says at Marvel.com. "I'd recently been given 'X-Force' -- with wide latitude to take it in a different direction -- and I told him, 'You know I want you to write this thing.' He agreed to hear me out -- he was humoring me, of course -- and we got to talking. Several hours and several beers later, we'd come up with a central premise that we really liked. Equally impressive, we actually remembered most of it the next day, and it became the high concept for the revamp."

The high concept: "In the X-Men universe, the concept of 'mutant' has always been used as a metaphor for 'race,' as a vehicle to explore the concept of 'otherness' and the way that society deals with it -- which usually ain't good!" Alonso said. "With 'X-Force,' we want to further update the metaphor, bring it into the world we recognize.

"Our 'X-Force' has got something in common with a sports franchise. They play for the 'home team' -- in this case, the free world -- and in doing so, they have managed to live out Professor X's dream: They are widely accepted, even embraced, by the outside world. Simply put, they're cashing in on their special skills much the same way a gifted athlete might theirs, and breaking down barriers and prejudices as they do it -- but as you'll see, at no small cost to themselves.

[Venus]"There's a question at the heart of the book: When the individual members of X-Force look in a mirror, what do they see? Do the material rewards of the life really compensate for the loss of pride, self, identity? And is a world dominated by widespread fear and distrust of mutants really worth saving?"

And while the new "X-Force" does take place in the contemporary Marvel Universe, it'll have a very different look and feel from what fans are used to from their mutants: "There's a mutant with super-powered puke, a protoplasmic sex symbol named 'Doop' and a mutant who gives a whole new meaning to the term 'sensitive male.'"


And the reshuffling of the comics industry continues.

While Mike Allred has just been confirmed as the new artist on Marvel Comics' "X-Force," the book's current artist, Whilce Portacio, has just rejoined the DC/WildStorm staff, DC announced late last week.

"I am incredibly excited to have Whilce rejoin us here at WildStorm," WildStorm founder Jim Lee is quoted in DC's press release. "We share a long history; as an inker, he 'fixed' my first professional pencil job for Marvel Comics and then persuaded me to move down to San Diego to set up a studio with him and Scott Williams. As one of the founders of Homage Studios back when it was located in a one bedroom apartment, Whilce not only influenced the development of my work but introduced me to the wonders of yakisoba noodles."

Portacio has been hired on as a staff artist, but has not yet been attached to a book. Instead, the release says he "will be involved creatively in many aspects of comics production, from working in WildStorm FX's coloring studio to coordinating new projects with the editorial staff. Portacio also has several incredible projects of his own currently in development, to be announced later this year."


January means awards season, and comics are no exception.

The 2000 Squiddies -- the awards given out by the rec.arts.comics Usenet newgroup hierarchy -- are now being voted upon, with the ballot being found in rec.arts.comics.misc and rec.arts.comics.info.

The administrators of this year's awards are asking that the ballot not be reposted to other newsgroups or discussion boards.

Voting concludes January 26, with results expected the first week of February.


Here's what's news (and press releases) in CBR's Comic Brief this millennium:

  • Top Shelf Productions announces full returnability in open letter
  • Preview: "The Gunwitch: Outskirts of Doom" character sketches
  • Cartoon Books solicitations for products shipping April, 2001
  • Warren Ellis' Come In Alone to be collected by AiT/PlanetLar


Congratulations to DC Comics' Patty Jeres. Last week, the company announced that she had been promoted to Director of Sales and Marketing Communications. Comic fans might not know her name, but if news comes out of DC, at the very least she's signed off on it.

In addition to her other duties, Jeres will now supervise the Events and Retailer Services group.

We've been saying DC needed to give her a raise for years.

X-Men Chamber death header
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