[Astro City #22]You know what's been holding up the next issue of "Kurt Busiek's Astro City": Busiek's continuing health problems.

Now know this: At long last, issue #23 has a completed script.

"Just thought I'd mention that at long last, the script for the next 'Astro City' is done, and has been delivered to both John Layman at Homage and Brent Anderson at Brent's House of Drawing Good," Busiek posted late Sunday night at DC Comics' 'Astro City' message board. "It's taken a long time, but as my health has improved, it's been easier to make headway. So I'm hoping subsequent scripts won't be quite the same ordeal -- I'm hoping to get at least one more done by the end of the year, after which my schedule will be screwed up again what with having surgery in January ... but with luck, I'll be able to keep Brent going, so that the four issues remaining in this 'arc' of single-issue stories can come out reasonably regularly, once they start coming out."

As previously reported in the Comic Wire, Busiek's been dogged by chronic sinus troubles which flared up again this year.

"As to when this one'll come out, I don't know -- it's up to DC when they'll solicit it. But since the logjam has been me, not Brent, Will or anyone else, there shouldn't be any hellacious delay.

"Now I get to catch up on my 'Avengers' scripting, and then start on the next one ..."


[Zendra]Stuart Moore is thinking about the future and this February, his readers will be able to come along for the ride.

"'Zendra's a big splashy space adventure," Moore told the Comic Wire on Saturday. "It's not hard sf, though I've tried to make it as plausible as it can be. It's pretty much a serious action piece, a coming of age story, with some humor salted in, mostly on the villains' part."

Moore's not the creator of the title. Contrary to so many comics today -- especially from companies outside the big two publishers -- "Zendra" isn't a writer-driven property.

"I was speaking with Ken White Jr., the owner and publisher of PennyFarthing, about a few things, and he mentioned this project that they really needed a writer for. They liked my work, and we went from there. The project was created by Martin Montiel and J.C. Buelna, the artists on the book, and they had done an outline. I fleshed it out, added characters, changed some of the pacing around, and wrote full scripts.

"It's been a great experience overall. There are so many different kinds of working methods in this industry that I don't know if I can say it was quantitatively different from working at Marvel or DC; a lot of it depends on your editor and publisher, and how much they respect your work. I've tried not to step on anyone's toes at PennyFarthing, but they really respect my judgment and sometimes ask for my opinion on things that I don't think are any of my business! So it's a good arrangement."

For those not familiar with Montiel's and Buelna's art, Moore says "it's very detailed sf work ... somewhat resembles some of Jose Luis Garcia Lopez's outer-space artwork. The ships and creatures are amazing. Peter Gross, my friend and the longtime writer/artist of 'Books of Magic' and now artist of 'Lucifer,' has done breakdowns for the whole series; he's one of the best visual storytellers in the business, so the final result really plays to everyone's strengths. (Well, hopefully mine -- readers will have to judge that for themselves!)"

Of course, Moore now also has another, high profile job to occupy his time: He's the new editor of the Marvel Knights line at Marvel Comics following Joe Quesada's promotion to editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics in toto. But Moore's already taken care of "Zendra."

"I've written all six issues, yes. My arrangement with Marvel Knights leaves me free to write more with PennyFarthing, and it's quite possible we'll do another project together soon. The Marvel situation is ideal for me; it's a very exciting situation to be involved in, but it doesn't restrict me at all, except for that annoying only-so-many-hours-in-the-day business."


Tom Brevoort's a busy man, editing some of Marvel Comics' highest profile books, including "Avengers," "Thunderbolts" and "The Incredible Hulk."

Which means he has an awful lot of balls in the air at any one time. Case in point: Handling the transition when "Avengers" artist George Perez leaves the series, making way for new series artist Alan Davis.

"What ['Avengers' writer] Kurt [Busiek] did do when faced with the artistic switchover was use it as an opportunity to re-examine the way in which we'd been approaching working on 'Avengers' and sort of reinvent it from the ground up," Brevoort said in a Your Man @ Marvel interview published Friday at Marvel.com. "We looked at it as reconceptualizing the series as though it had been created today rather than many years ago.

"The watchword of this new 'Avengers' will be 'chaos.' There's going to be a lot going on -- both in the sheer number and magnitude of the threats involved, and in the interactions of the characters. We'll have a different structure to the standing Avengers team as well, which'll permit us to involve a host of different characters on a regular basis. We'll be structuring the book more along the lines of how 'Thunderbolts' worked during its first year or two -- where different story threads overlapped, and you were never really quite certain where anything was going to end up.

"We've got a major long-term storyline in the works that'll only be hinted at in Alan's first issue, but which'll play out over the coming year -- to 'Avengers' #50 and beyond. And to make things even nicer, the powers-that-be have decided to knock the cover price of Alan's first issue, #38, down to $1.99 as part of the new 'Slashback' program."

Brevoort also touched on what fans could expect from his other titles in coming months:

"In 'Thor,' the next thing we've got up is our 100-Page Monster issue, #32. I absolutely love this format, so I hope people will keep coming out and supporting it so I can do more. And Thor fans should be pretty happy about the contents -- with stories pulled from the Stan [Lee] and Jack [Kirby] days, the [Roy] Thomas and [John] Buscema era, and the Walt Simonson run included in the package. And the new story by [Dan] Jurgens and [Andy] Kubert isn't half bad either. After that, we'll segue into the introduction of the already-controversial Thor Girl, featuring stunning guest artwork by Stuart Immonen. Just the glimpse of the cover shown in Previews and online has the message boards lighting up, so just wait'll the actual issue comes out! And to follow that up, we'll move toward a double-sized dust-up between Thor and a certain red-caped alien in our 35th issue.

"The big news in 'Hulk,' of course, is the imminent arrival of artist John Romita Jr. And we're slashing back the price of his first issue, #24, to $1.99. This'll be the first half of a two-part story culminating in the most over-the-top brawl ever between the Hulk and his opposite number, the Abomination. We've heard some fans complain that the Hulk hasn't really been depicted as the ultimate engine of destruction lately. Well, issue #25 will correct that impression in spades! Following that, Paul Jenkins plans to follow up on the whereabouts of the Devil Hulk that was released from the recesses of Bruce Banner's mind at the end of #20. And of course, Banner's physical condition will continue to deteriorate as his ALS progresses toward its final, terminal stages.

"A Thor/Hulk battle has also been talked about every now and again as a possibility, so stay tuned!

"'Captain Marvel' will continue to combine high adventure with broad comedy, and there are a couple of sucker gut punches coming up for unsuspecting readers who think they've got the series pegged. Peter [David] loves to weave back and forth from comedy to tragedy and back again. And since #11 with its Mar-Vell storyline went over so well, we've invited Jim Starlin and Al Milgrom to come back for two more issues -- #17 and #18 -- which'll spotlight a confrontation between Genis and Thanos, and will guest-star Thor. But before then, we've got the Microns, Drax, the Psycho-Man and the secret of the Comic Book Castle.

"'Black Panther's] a series I'd like to get more of a spotlight on. It seems like people tried the book when it was first starting out two years ago and then somehow jumped off along the way. With that in mind, we've put together the current 'Sturm Und Drang' arc to almost dare them to come back and check us out again. The Panther will be forced to go head-to-head with such diverse parties as Doctor Doom, Namor and Magneto -- and their respective nations. There's high adventure, international intrigue, wacky hijinx and illicit romance -- something for everyone!

"And fear not, 'Thunderbolts' readers -- there is a plan. And you'll find out what it's been as we zoom toward our big 50th issue -- an issue that will change everything, much as #12 and #21 and #35 changed everything in the past. I can't say too much without revealing some of the book's trademark secrets, but I will say that we'll reveal the true identity and motivations of Scourge before #50 arrives, and things'll hit the fan from there. We'll also be launching a separate T-Bolts-related limited series out of the events in that same issue.

"Coming on board as the new regular 'Thunderbolts' penciller as of #51 will be Patrick Zircher. Patrick's already pitched in on #45, and he'll also be filling in on #49 due to a back injury that Bags sustained. You may have also seen Pat's work on 'Iron Man: The Iron Age,' 'New Warriors,' 'Nightwing,' 'Superman' and 'Captain Marvel.' Pat'll bring a new energy to the book as we move beyond the changes #50 will bring -- and he'll get to draw 'Captain America' in his first issue, as well!"


Here's your regular round-up of CBR's Comic Brief since the last edition of the Comic Wire:

  • Preview: 'Meridian' #6
  • Acclaim owes $4000 to Starlin and Q&As about 'Quantum & Woody'
  • Guy Davis' final issue of 'The Marquis' to ship in Black, White and Red
  • New Avengelyne shipping in January featuring hot talent
  • DragonCon founder indicted in molestation


Thanks to Scott Tilson.

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