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The Guide to the Guide to Comics – WIZARD #21 (May 1993)

by  in Comic News Comment
The Guide to the Guide to Comics – WIZARD #21 (May 1993)

Seriously, can Iron Man beat up the X-Men? Should Todd McFarlane be listed as the co-creator of Venom? Did you send-in for your copy of The Maxx #1/2?


That Jae Lee cover almost makes Youngblood look like a viable concept, doesn’t it? Lee was one of the first artists given a push by Marvel after the Image exodus, and he was also one of the very first post-exodus artists to leave Marvel for Image, of course. This issue hypes Lee’s upcoming run on Youngblood Strikefile, where he’s set to be co-artist for four issues. It’s almost a shame he didn’t do more, because I think Lee does bring something to Liefeld’s designs. People are quick to dismiss Liefeld’s design work, not unreasonably, but artists like John Romita, Jr. have done interesting things with Liefeld’s characters in the past. Stryfe as rendered by Rob Liefeld might resemble a goofy artifact of the early ‘90s, but John Romita, Jr.’s Stryfe is ridiculous in a compelling way. Lee elevates Liefeld’s designs in a similar fashion — these guys really do look like MTV superheroes from the early Clinton years.

The cover is one of the earliest gatefold covers; a fan has posted a re-colored version if you’d like to see it.  Lee talks about channeling Simon Bisley and Bill Sienkiewicz in his interview and that’s evident in the piece.  There’s even a bit of Peter Chung in there; it sounds like a list of things that shouldn’t work together, but I think Lee pulls it off. Those gatefold covers stay with the magazine until the end of the decade.  If you know when exactly Wizard dropped them, let me know in the comments.

In this month’s Wizard

Interviews with Jae Lee, Rob Liefeld, and Dave Sim.

A retrospective on the history of Star Trek in comics.

Articles on Topps Comics’ new Ray Bradbury and Kirbyverse comics.

A guide on autograph collecting.

A history of the Comics Code Authority.

The regular columns include Palmer’s Picks (this month’s entry is Madman), the Power Up videogame column, Bart Sears’ Brutes & Babes, Hollywood heroes, Writing at the Edge (a column on writing by David Quinn), Toying Around, Wizard of Cards, and Crystal Ball.

The other features, labeled “Departments,” are the usual blend of letters, fan art, Top 10 lists, and market information.

Finally, there’s a mailaway for Maxx #1/2. These #1/2 comics are exclusively available through Wizard, and just the fact that major companies went along with this promotion for years should give you a sense of just how powerful Wizard became in the ‘90s. Wizard  lets you know just how collectible these comics are by providing you with a Certificate of Authenticity.  The Maxx #1/2 comic was later adapted for his MTV cartoon, by the way. It’s the episode that features Jimmy the Crackhead and the Maxx’s Maxxi-Cycle.

Magic Words

Let’s begin with the letter column, which has been moved to the front of the magazine since the last issue we covered. Pat McCallum handles the letters this issue, advising a female fan looking to avoid the “somewhat sexist overtones” of comics being published today to look into titles like Cerebus. No comment. McCallum also addresses questions regarding the nature of adamantium, the identity of the X-traitor, and the release date of the mythical Wetworks #1.

Doug Goldstein steps in to cover yet another challenge to his “Iron Man can beat the X-Men” theory. McCallum hopes that Goldstein’s response (which begins with “What are you, some kind of idiot?”) will lay the debate to rest.

David Michelinie writes in to (very politely) challenge Wizard’s assertion that Todd McFarlane is the co-creator of Venom. Michelinie states that since Venom’s first appearance was already written before McFarlane was assigned to the book, it isn’t entirely fair for him to receive a co-creator credit. This letter, which is actually very complimentary of McFarlane and not what I would call antagonistic at all, elicits a fiery response from Erik Larsen in a few issues. Seems like Michelinie lost the fight on this one, since Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon not only lists McFarlane as Venom’s co-creator, but he even gets top billing over Michelinie.

Wizard News

More humor is creeping into the magazine, with Wizard adding pithy captions underneath photos from recent conventions. This is a Wizard staple for my entire run as a reader. The jokes are often cheap shots at less-than-impressive cosplayers, but I occasionally laughed at them, I’ll confess.

This month’s top story is DC’s announcement of dozens of new titles, including Robin and Catwoman monthlies. The 1993 Bloodlines series of annuals, true classics, is also announced.

In other news…

Batman/Grendel has received a release date after years of delays. Matt Wagner says it’s the first inter-company crossover done with a creator-owned character.
Malibu will be publishing Street Fighter II comics.
Harvey Kurtzman has passed away at the age of 68.

My Kind of Hero

A regular feature dedicated to fan creations. If you think ninety percent of the characters are the result of a secret government program, you’re probably right. I believe one of these creations, Fly Slayer, was also a finalist in a fan creation contest in Savage Dragon.

Look Familiar?

I can’t imagine why anyone thought this was a good idea — it’s a feature dedicated to reader photos of their pets. It only runs for half of a page, but still, what a strange idea.

Hollywood Heroes

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman has been announced. Superhero pilots in the works include The Resurrector, written by Sam Hamm, and Mantis. Lorimar has scrapped the proposed Daredevil series. USA’s Swamp Thing series is wrapping up. Star Trek: The Next Generation actors have been told they must sign to do the final season of the show if they want to star in the upcoming movie. Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four movie is awaiting release; Andy Mangels is still optimistic about the film at this point. The animated Batman film Mask of the Phantasm has the working title Masks. Robin and Catwoman are rumored as solo spinoffs. Brandon Lee has begun filming The Crow.


Liefeld & O’Neill: Round II

A semi-regular feature dedicated to Patrick Daniel O’Neill asking Rob Liefeld very pointed questions about, well, all of the things Liefeld was doing at this time. Everything from “why would a government-sponsored superhero team be named Bloodstrike?” to “why do you keep scheduling new books when your old ones haven’t shipped?” O’Neill also questions what role the editor Liefeld’s hired, Eric Stephenson, will play in getting books out on time when Liefeld is ultimately his boss. Liefeld, to his credit, takes most of these questions good-naturedly, but he rarely has a credible answer. Liefeld also says that Image has implemented a fining system for late books, which didn’t seem to do an awful lot in these early days.

Finally, O’Neill reveals information he’s received that Liefeld actually owns the trademark to Image Comics and the I logo. Liefeld answers that he trademarked the name two years earlier when doing “limited-edition posters and stuff.” The other creators agreed to go along with the name and he’s in the process of changing things so that “everyone owns those trademarks” — which I guess means that the seven Image founders all co-own the name and logo.

Comic Books & The Final Frontier

I’m not the best person to comment on this piece, given that I know less about Star Trek than your mom probably does, but I have to say that it’s a thorough article that covers the history of the franchise in comics. The best moment is when a Star Trek artist acknowledges that keeping the actors happy with their likenesses as they age is a tricky proposition.

Signed, Sealed, & Delivered

Your comics aren’t true collectibles unless they’re signed, of course. This article gives you tips on what kind of pen to use, how to prove the autograph is legit, and information on which factors influence an autograph’s value.

The Comics Code

A history of the Comics Code, which covers all of the information anyone who’s ever seen a documentary on comics surely knows by now. According to Wizard, 80% of Marvel’s books at this point are Code-approved, while only 45% of DC’s carry the seal. Ironically, it’s Marvel that breaks ties with the Code first, and DC that continues to carry the seal even after the organization ceased to exist.

Hunk & Babe of the Month

Woof. This thing. It’s an excuse for Wizard to run cheesecake pinups of various female characters, but since they also include a hunk, that makes it okay. This month’s dreamboats are Thor and Rogue. Come to think of it, Marvel was heavily represented in this column, which isn’t a surprise since the swimsuit specials they were publishing at the time were easy fodder for this piece.

Toying Around

Brian Cunningham brings us news of even more new X-Men toys. He laments that Toy Biz is only releasing X-toys and no other heroes from the Marvel Universe.


Readers can complete a scramble puzzle to win a full set of Star Wars trading cards, including an uncut sheet autographed by Walt Simonson. Someone forgot to hide jokes in the legal print this issue, sadly.

Comic Watch

Wizard’s regular piece that attempts to predict back issues that will spike in price in the future. Since David Michelinie revealed this issue that Venom actually made an early cameo appearance in Web of Spider-Man #18, it’s not a huge surprise to see Wizard attempting to pump that issue up in the back of the magazine.

Picks from the Wizard’s Hat

Three of the five major picks are Image titles — Bloodstrike #1, Deathblow #1, and 1963 #1. You’re advised to track down the Watchmen trade if you’re the type of fan who reads comics instead of just bagging them. We also discover that X-Men Unlimited was originally marketed as X-Men Chronicles, which was the name later used when the title “mutated” during the Age of Apocalypse storyline.

In other comic news, “Reign of the Supermen,” “Maximum Carnage,” and The Infinity Crusade have all begun. One of Marvel’s more egregious cash-grabs of this era, the nine-dollar Spider-Man one-shot Designer Genes, is also solicited.

Top 100 – March 1993

Uncanny X-Men #300 is the top book, joined by three other Marvel titles. Image has five titles in the Top Ten, and Valiant has one. The bottom of the Top 100 consists of Marvel Comics Presents issues. DC’s presence is lessened a bit because this is one of the months DC didn’t publish Superman titles following his funeral storyline.

Top 10 – April 1993

Six of the hottest back issues this month are from Valiant; seven on the list overall. Welsh Publishing’s Simpsons Comics and Stories #1 is Number 10 (I believe this is the all-comics special that inspired Matt Groening to form Bongo, in case you’re curious.) The only DC title represented is Superman #66, based on the utterly unfounded rumor that it features the first true appearance of Doomsday. Marvel has no books in the Top 10, which seems ridiculous. Wizard went through a period where they were unwilling to list Marvel back issues as “hot,” which doesn’t seem to make any sense.

Wizard Market Watch

Superman #75 is no longer selling for $100; it’s stabilized at $24. The Top Ten Hottest Artists are…

Todd McFarlane
Jim Lee
Rob Liefeld
Dale Keown
Sam Kieth
Bart Sears
Jae Lee
Joe Quesada (listed as penciler of Crucible, an Impact! title I’ve never heard of)
Mark Bagley
Ron Lim

So, what did we learn today?

Money Quotes:

  • “In five years, I want the character I create for Image to be on its 64th issue, and there will already be two or three movies out and maybe a videogame.” – Jae Lee.
  • “I told Eric (Stephenson) that his authority includes me — I am to be sat on. I am to be needled. I need to be held to the same standards as everyone else working on these books…otherwise mine are not going to come out.” – Rob Liefeld explaining his relationship with Eric Stephenson.
  • Turok #1 promises to be everything Bloodshot #1 was and more.” – A quote from the Crystal Ball column, which might’ve been a mite cloudy this month. Someone be sure to ask Mike Sterling about Tuork #1. We’re also told to be on the lookout for the Deathmate crossover: “The upcoming Image/Valiant Deathmate crossover should drive fans crazy…” (Wizard Market Watch)


  • The announced Spawn/Valeria the She-Bat crossover between Image and Continuity never materializes. Neal Adams later says that McFarlane backed out because he didn’t want another crossover to distract from Spawn/Batman. (Wizard News)
  • Jae Lee only pencils three of the planned four issues of Youngblood Strikefile. Also, George Perez does not ink the Rob Liefeld pencils in Youngblood Strikefile. (Liefeld & O’Neill: Round II)
  • Perry White is not portrayed by a black actor in Lois & Clark, although this was the plan early on. (Hollywood Heroes)
    The Steven Spielberg/Rob Liefeld project Doom’s IV is never released. And Spielberg does not write the first issue of the Doom’s IV comic! (Hollywood Heroes)
  • Cary Bates is still working on that fifth Superman movie that will never happen. (Hollywood Heroes)
  • Daniel Day Lewis may be in talks to play Lestat in Interview with a Vampire, but Tom Cruise ultimately gets the role. (Hollywood Heroes)
  • Darker Image #4 never materialized. Neither did issues #2 or #3. The solicit reads, “The series culminates with the Maxx returning to the modern world, Bloodwulf held captive, and Deathblow in the Everglades looking for Manuel Ortega.” (Picks from the Wizard’s Hat)
  • Uncanny X-Men #301 does not feature Lee Forrester’s return to the X-Men’s mansion, although it’s interesting to know Marvel considered bringing her back for the “Fatal Attractions” storyline. Also, the X-Factor #91 solicit is still listing an abandoned Peter David storyline; X-Factor does not battle Armageddon this issue, and “new genegineer Sasha Ryan” doesn’t unveil a plan to kill all mutants.

Before They Were Stars: Jeff Matsuda has fan art published in the envelope art showcase. Tim Townsend, presumably the same Townsend that will become Joe Mad’s favorite inker, is a finalist in Bart Sears’ Cable cover contest. Ken Lashley is another finalist. He’ll actually be assigned an X-book within a year or so of this magazine’s publication.  Gerry Alanguilan, who now works under the name Komikero, is the second-place winner.

This Ain’t HuffPo: In a response to a female reader’s complaint that Wizard has no class, the editor apologizes, acknowledging that its male-oriented atmosphere can occasionally “slip into the gutter.” The editor then asks the letterhack to send in a photo of her and her friends. (Magic Words)

Pathological Scatological: This issue is fairly tame, with only one reference to dogs taking dumps on the rug in that inexplicable pet feature, and a joke about Colossus passing wind in the CBIQ quiz.

Commercial Break: We’re beginning to see ads for amateur publications, such as ARComics. Dynamic Forces is running ads for a $59.99 autographed copy of Adventures of Superman #500. And Wizard has begun selling its own line of comic book supplies.

I Love the ‘90s: Everyone received a trading card set in the 1990s; even Princess Diana.

Cheap and Stupid and Trashy?: I’m pulling another Frank Miller quote for this category. I also considered “A Monthly Vulgarity?” or “Should It Come On A Roll?” This issue has a lot of nonsense pandering to the collector’s market, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of personality in the writing at this point. I will say, however, that the layouts and production values continue to improve (I’m guessing someone’s purchased Photoshop since the previous issue), and there is at least some effort placed on writing articles about the history of comics. That O’Neill/Liefeld piece is also something most people probably wouldn’t expect to find in the magazine. Wizard is evolving into a pretty slick package, but most of the features aren’t that fun to read, and it’s hard not to be irritated by the persistent speculator baiting.

If there’s an issue of Wizard you’d like to see covered, let me know in the comments.  In the meantime, you can find me at Not Blog X or on Twitter.


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