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CMX/Wildstorm Panel @ WonderCon

by  in Comic News Comment
CMX/Wildstorm Panel @ WonderCon

Sunday at WonderCon, Wildstorm editor Scott Dunbier, creators Ale Garza, Jim Lee, Grant Morrison, Allen Warner and others gave a preview for what’s to come from Wildstorm in 2006 and beyond.

New “Wildcats” creative team Grant Morrison and Jim Lee kicked off the proceedings when they were asked, “What’s up with Wildcats?”

Morrison said, “We wanted to do a realistic superhero book; not all tits and ass, but picking up on the concepts that Joe Casey began.” Morrison explained the Halo Corporation has developed the Spartan robot so that every household has its own superhero. The Halo Corporation is run by an Artificial Intelligence that believes it knows what’s best for the world, so the story involves Hadrian reforming the Wildcats to fight the Corporation.

Asked about the philosophy behind the series, Lee said it’s “Image comics on crack.” Morrison added that there’ll be “quick pacing and lots of stuff old fans will love. We were looking at those old Image comics and their flash” and the team wants to take advantage of modern sophisticated technologies available. “It’s a happier marriage of the artist-driven Image-style books and the writer-driven books that were a backlash against that.” Morrison continued, “We went for a pulp approach. Since Jim’s look is so clean, I’ve played to his strengths. It’ll be fast, pulpy, and frenetic, picking up on the colors and styles of the European comics of the ’60s.”

Asked if the Wildcats cross over into the DCU, Morrison replied, “Not during our run.”

How much will it go back to basics or be all new? Morrison said, “Kind of both. You’ll see characters from everyone’s run on the book.”

One fan asked Morrison if he’d be doing any of his character redesigns on the Wildcats. “No, Jim is too good.” To which Lee replied, “I’m flattered.”

Asked if he would be changing his art style for the project, Lee replied that it would be “too difficult,” but he can change the context, and “make things more simple and iconic.” He plans on using a more ’60s “Sterankoesque” sensibility on the covers, including the use of half-tones, which were popular in the Silver Age. “We’re taking a pop art approach that’s really fresh,” added Morrison

Will the characters sport a “cape and cowl-type” of look, or will they dressed more “realistically?”

“The costumes will be more subdued than the original,” said Lee. “The key colors are still there, but no one will wear the same costume throughout the series; the look will change based on the environment or the assignment.” Morrison gave an example. “Everyone knows what Lara Croft looks like. Whether she wears shorts or a jumper, look is the same.” Lee agreed, adding, “Her big visual is the ponytail.”

Given his occasional slowness, one fan asked Lee how he’ll manage to handle the artistic chores on both “Wildcats” and “All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder.” Lee responded, “Both books are bimonthly. So I’ll have a monthly book again. It’ll be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Turning to other projects before their departure, Morrison mentioned that he has “A new take on the Authority. The Authority was all about change, but the world resists change. I’m not going to tell you what it is, but the entire setup for the series is very different, and allows them to be effectual again.” The new “Authority” will launch in September.

Also in September from Wildstorm, Gail Simone will write the relaunch of “Gen13” with art from Talent Caldwell. The series is a reboot and goes back to the beginnings of the series.

This April sees the release of the “Ex Machina Special,” a two-parter intended as a jumping-on point for the series. It tells the origin of Jack Pherson, the arch-enemy of The Great Machine. Artists Chris Sprouse & Karl Story join writer Brian K. Vaughan on the Special. Tony Harris & Tom Feister return to the monthly “Ex Machina” in June for issue #21, as Mayor Hundred must make some difficult decisions about New York City’s drug laws.

Among other bits of news:

  • “Manifest Eternity” is a new ongoing series by Scott Lobdell and Dustin Nguyen coming next year. It tells the story of a 100-year-long apocalyptic war between two worlds, one more technologically based, and one more magically based.
  • “Thunderbolt Jaxon,” one of the treasures from IPC media line of heroes, will feature stories and covers by Dave Gibbons and interiors by John Higgins and ships next month. For fans of the Silver Age DC, IPC is the UK equivalent. Gibbons has mentioned how desperately he wants to do this project. The story begins when three ordinary kids discovery a mystic Norse relic that holds the key to the rebirth of legendary British hero Thunderbolt Jaxon!

  • “Versus” is a new CMX manga title about a violin prodigy and her mentor. The series is written and illustrated by Keiko Yamada.
  • “Oyayubihime Infinity” is another CMX title coming in June from writer/illustrator Toru Fujieda following a group of friends from long ago who have been reincarnated as modern teen-agers. They are able to identify each other by a butterfly-shaped birthmark that they each possess, and when these marks touch, they catch a glimpse of their shared past.
  • “Skye Runner” is a fantasy book set on the same world as “Ninja Boy.” It combines elements of “JLA,” “Avengers,” and “Ninja Boy,” in featuring “a group of characters who come together to face an insurmountable evil.” It’s part of Wildstorm’s new fantasy line. Garza said of the series, “It’s really get a chance to show you guys what I can do.” It takes all the archetypes of a classic fantasy story – wizards, elves and all those things– and mixes them into a superhero sensibility.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Black Dossier” by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. It’s an original hardcover and “one of the more revolutionary books the industry has ever seen,” said Dunbier The book follows the history of the group from its “very early” origins to the 1950s. Having 185 pages of actual story, it’s larger than either of the original miniseries. “Kevin has been doing a fantastic job,” said Dunbier. The book will use different types of paper for different sections and 3-D effects. While 3-D “normally (consists of) throwing balls at the camera; this one has real meaning and is incredibly complex. The way Alan wrote it and Kevin draws it is unique and fantastic. Alan has called it ‘the most fabulous book in the history of the universe,’ and he isn’t far wrong.”

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