The Guide to the Guide to Comics - WIZARD #46 (June 1995)

Is any actor listed in the Gen 13 Casting Call under the age of twenty-seven?  What topic has been banned in Batman’s writers’ conferences?  Can Greg Capullo teach you how to draw?  Find out in this week’s Guide to the Guide to Comics!

One of the few covers to feature a traditional DC hero during this era, although I’ve been surprised to learn from the Diamond charts that Superman titles were consistently outselling Batman titles during this year.  Superman did appear on a few Wizard covers, but not with any regularity.  Even with his books regularly appearing in the Top 20, was he still perceived as too bland a character for the cover?

In this month’s Wizard, we have…

Features on the current team of Batman writers, Chaos! Comics, and a Neal Adams interview.  “Up Close” on a Gen 13 Casting Call, and promotional articles for Superman vs. Aliens, Skrull Kill Krew, and the Avengers’ upcoming visit to the Ultraverse.

The regular columns include Cut & Print, Toying Around, Palmer’s Picks (focusing on the work of Adrian Tomine), Manga Scene, Wizard of Cards, and Todd McFarlane’s E.G.O.  Bart Sears’ Brutes & Babes has now been replaced by Greg Capullo’s Krash Course.  Also, the videogame column Power Up! has returned.

The Departments include, as always, letters, fan art, Top 10 lists, the Wizard Profile, and market information.  Missing this issue are the Top 10 Heroes & Villains of the Month and the CBIQ trivia quiz.

From the Top

Gareb Shamus is back, announcing that Wizard will have its own AOL page, under the umbrella of “Wizard World.”  He also reveals that Wizard is publishing another spinoff, InQuest, which is devoted to collectible card games.

Magic Words

The letter column is packed this month, with Jim McLauchlin attempting to aid a reader that’s been ripped off by a fly-by-night company, fielding a fan’s requests for wrestler Shawn Michaels to play Spider-Man, apologizing for Wizard listing a price for a counterfeit book, and answering a letter that contained twenty questions, none of them related to John Byrne’s diet.  In response to a fan who’s been reading comics for fifty years, Jim McLauchlin doesn’t hide his desire to see many of the “superstars” of this era out of work one day.


Wizard News

Top story -- Marvel’s announcement that it’s distributing its titles exclusively through Heroes World, a “medium-sized distribution company based in New Jersey” recently acquired by Marvel.  Wizard spends a page and a half laying out the winners and losers in the deal, not sugarcoating the negative impact this will have likely on store owners and fans.

In other news…Marvel’s also acquiring trading card company Skybox, with plans to merge it with Fleer (Skybox was producing cards for DC)…rumors that Marvel’s acquiring Bongo Comics aren’t true, but Marvel is handling Bongo’s co-op advertising, and could possibly distribute their titles, now that Marvel’s purchased their previous distributor, Welsh Publishing…Warren Ellis is giving Dr. Strange a very ‘90s, very British makeover…John Byrne is taking over the Wonder Woman series…Comico is attempting a comeback…Marv Wolfman is ending his lengthy Teen Titans run…Lightning Comics has begun its nude variant cover promotion for the Hellina series (and a nude model might be released soon)…Kurt Busiek has three new titles (Astro City, Untold Tales of Spider-Man, and The New Shadowhawk)…Maximum Press has picked up the rights to Battlestar Galactica (inadvertently paving the way for the TV show’s reboot)…and Don Heck has passed away.

Also, there’s the strange tale of Activists

In the Shadow of the Bat

A piece on the Batman writers of this era:  Alan Grant, Doug Moench, and Chuck Dixon.  The article is genuinely informative, allowing each writer to spell out his take on Batman, and offering some insight into how the multi-year “Knightfall” event was coordinated by Denny O’Neil.  In a sidebar piece, the creators are asked their thoughts on what “The Last Batman” story would be; O’Neil responds that he’s already written his.  Check out Brave and the Bold #159, the last Batman story O’Neil wrote before leaving for Marvel in the ‘70s, to see his personal “retirement” of Batman.

The Chaos Theory

Brian Pulido provides his rules for self-publishing, while Wizard experiments with some new-fangled photo technology.


Casting Call

Wizard presents another fanboy fantasy of who should be cast in the surely imminent Gen 13 film.  Most of the suggested actors are nowhere close to being teenagers.

Lauren Holly as Fairchild (More hair casting…does Wizard not realize wigs and hair dye exist?)

Tiffany-Amber Thiessen as Freefall (because she also had short hair for a few years in the ‘90s, apparently…)

Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Burnout

Tia Carrere as Rainmaker (Tia Carrere showed up rather often in these features, as I recall.  Did Wizard simply not know of any Native American actresses?)

Jason Scott Lee (of Dragon: The Bruce Lee story) as Grunge, a suggestion by Gen 13 artist J. Scott Campbell.

Clint Eastwood as Lynch

Emma Samms (Dynasty) as Ivana Baiul

Matt Callahan (from MTV’s Dead at 21) as Threshold

Courtney Cox as Bliss

Now, if you can remember who Threshold and Bliss were, and what Dead at 21 was…congratulations, you are truly a ‘90s superfan.  Your slap-bracelet is in the mail.

Greg Capullo’s Krash Course

The debut of Greg Capullo’s tough-talkin’ how-to-draw column, which is replacing Bart Sears’ long-running Brutes and Babes.  Two things I can remember about this column… Greg Capullo really knows his stuff (he isn’t teaching how to draw in the “Image style,” he’s teaching you the fundamentals of constructing an image), and the sketches he included with each column are a lot of fun.  You see a side of his art that rarely came through in X-Force and Spawn.

You are what you eat

A promotional piece on Marvel’s upcoming Skrull Kill Krew, written by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar.  Not only is this the first American work for Marvel by the writers, but it also foreshadows the Vertigo-influenced take on Marvel’s characters we’ll see in the early ‘00s.  Not that anyone bought Skrull Kill Krew, of course.  Editor Tom Brevoort acknowledges that now is the “worst time in recent memory” to be launching a new book, but thinks readers will enjoy the series.

Making a Difference

A lookback on the career of Neal Adams, covering much of the ground from his previous interviews with the magazine.  As a kid, this was my first exposure to the issues-oriented run on Green Lantern/Green Arrow, and the claim that Neal Adams actually did save X-Men…Marvel just didn’t realize it.  (The sales data was always six months behind, so no one at Marvel recognized how well the Adams’ issues of X-Men were selling.)  Adams is also asked about the aborted Spawn/Valeria the She-Bat crossover, which he says McFarlane abruptly cancelled because he felt it would eat into sales of Spawn/Batman.

Earths’ Mightiest Heroes

A hype piece for the Avengers/UltraForce crossover, which Wizard is attempting to sell as the grand Marv Wolfman/George Perez reunion, because Wolfman’s writing the dialogue for the UltraForce issues leading into the crossover.

Manga Scene

Lea Hernandez writes of manga-inspired American comics, including Adam Warren’s Dirty Pair.

Toying Around

After over a year of rumors, it’s confirmed -- Star Wars toys are returning, with Kenner issuing figures and vehicles based on “the original movies.”  (The only movies at this point, but the Lucas-directed prequels have already been announced.)  Mattel, meanwhile, is attempting to re-enter the boys’ action figure market with Judge Dredd and Cyberforce toys this Fall.

Good & Cheap

Marvel Team-Up #65-66, the Captain Britain team-up that also featured Arcade’s debut, is this month’s pick.  I would’ve gone with the Marvel Tales reprint of these issues; it’s probably on better paper, and would’ve been even cheaper than the $9.50 Wizard expects you’ll pay for the original issues.

Picks from the Wizard’s Hat

The top picks are X-Men: Prime, the Wildstorm Rising crossover, Superman vs. Aliens (which is unexpectedly hinting at the return of the pre-Crisis Supergirl), Sandman #69, and UltraForce #8 (Black Knight’s debut in the Ultraverse…I’ve asked this before, but does anyone have fond memories of these Marvel/Malibu crossover books?)

Top Ten Comics

The Top Ten back issues have actually undergone noticeable changes since last time.  They are…

  1. X-Men: Alpha
  2. Gen 13 #1
  3. The X-Files #1
  4. Lady Death #1
  5. Shi #1
  6. Gen 13 #2
  7. Lady Death II #1
  8. Ash #1
  9. Vengeance of Vampirella #1
  10. Amazing Spider-Man #400

Some of the previous “hot” back issues (like the 1975 clone story arc from Amazing Spider-Man), we’re later told in the Wizard Market Watch are collecting dust in the back issue bins.

Top 100 - April 1995

Every book in the Top Ten Diamond charts is an “Age of Apocalypse” X-title.  Spawn doesn’t appear until #11, and the highest DC book is Superman #101 at #13.  Superman books dominate the slots from #13-20, with the Batman and Spider-Man books selling comparably underneath them.

Wizard Market Watch

Wizard advises readers to look out for X-Man back issues, since this is the lone AoA title that’s going to become a monthly X-book.  Meanwhile, Stephen Platt’s variant cover for Prophet #4 and the Gold editions of Youngblood #0 and Youngblood: Strikefile #1 are experiencing “huge drops.”  Also, “those nutty Bad Girls” continue to “ravage the market,” with even Wonder Woman benefiting from the fad.  Finally, you’re advised to pick up a copy of Ash #1-2 if you still see them on the stands, “because you seriously might not get another chance.”

Wizard’s Ten Hottest Artists are…

  1. Todd McFarlane
  2. Frank Miller
  3. Buzz
  4. Greg Capullo
  5. Joe Quesada
  6. Jim Lee
  7. J. Scott Campbell (and someone thought it couldn’t happen…)
  8. Adam Kubert
  9. Andy Kubert
  10. Bart Sears

(Wow, Stephen Platt has gone from just under McFarlane to simply dropping off the list.  And what happened to Rob Liefeld’s big comeback?  How did Jim Lee return to the list if he’s still on a sabbatical?)

Wizard’s Top Ten Hottest Writers are…

  1. Neil Gaiman
  2. Frank Miller
  3. Peter David
  4. John Byrne
  5. Jeff Smith
  6. John Ostrander
  7. Dan Jurgens
  8. Fabian Nicieza
  9. Scott Lobdell
  10. Alan Moore

The Wizard Profile

Does Jill Thompson know who the Beyonder is?


Kind of.  She asks, “he’s that stupid leisure-suit wearing guy, isn’t he?”  (Her answer, in regards to what she’d do with his power, is ensure that creators received proper credit and reimbursement.)


So, what did we learn today?

Money Quotes:

  • “The trio of Batman writers have distinctive writing styles and apparently such divergent views on many social issues that politics have been banned as a topic for discussion…” - from In the Shadow of the Bat.
  • “In fact, just about all we read these days are superheroes, too, so it always seemed kind of natural we’d end up working for the country’s best superhero comics publisher.” - Grant Morrison, speaking for himself and Mark Millar, about working for Marvel.
  • “I’m personally not a big fan of Batman, although I am somewhat a fan of people who can take care of themselves.” - Neal Adams
  • “Of course, if it turns out that it was only Aunt May’s clone that kicked the bucket, we take back any nice things we’ve said about (Marvel).” - from The Top Ten Comics, after praising Amazing Spider-Man #400.

Nope:  Cut & Print is still reporting on the mythical Cyberforce cartoon, although this issue they do have some of the character models from the show.  Other disappearing projects include a John Singleton-directed Luke Cage film (I wonder if this was during the time Tarantino was pitching a Cage movie?), an Evil Ernie movie, and a Prophet film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Stuff Wizard Likes:  Not a lot of commentary this issue, but certain titles (Generation X, Incredible Hulk, Ghost, Madman Adventures, Power of Shazam!, Stray Bullets, X, and X-O Manowar) do receive the Recommended Reading label in the Picks section.

Stuff Wizard Doesn’t Like:  The never-ending Cyberdata storyline in Cyberforce, the Jackal’s appearances in the interminable clone storyline in the Spider-Man books, the Grim Hunter, Starman #5 for dwelling on the “touchy-feely stuff,” and Doug Goldstein works in another dig at the Republicans after their Congressional victories.

This Ain't HuffPo:  The title of the design-a-bikini contest for Lady Death is “Thongs are Good!,” cracks about Voodoo not shaving her thighs, X-Men Alpha is hotter than “Pam Anderson in a no-piece swimsuit,” and a comedic Top Ten list at the expense of Mexico’s economic collapse.  Finally, the listing for Ash #1 notes that the hero has the first name Ashley, owns fluffy cats, and rides a purple motorcycle, but they’re not going to say anything more than that...

I Love the ‘90s:  References to Kathy Ireland, Pulp Fiction not winning Best Picture, Doc Ock using a Thighmaster, what Lance Ito wears under his robe, and a collect calling commercial that’s irritating the writers.  (Watch any clip of ‘90s commercials on Youtube and it seems like every other ad involves the horrible burden of paying collect calling fees.)

Vive la France:  Jim McLauchlin remind us that you can’t trust the French.

Pathological Scatological:  A joke about a Scarecrow cosplayer having “the Hershey squirts,” Spider-Man’s original Marvel Masterworks card apparently features him in a “web toilet,” Dark Phoenix is powered by her flatulence, and X-O Manowar #48 just might feature his armor filling with urine.

Commercial Break:  An ad for one of Windjammer's launch titles:


Cheap and Stupid and Trashy?:  With both the Top 10 Heroes & Villains of the Month and the CBIQ missing, we’re deprived of “Stupid But True…” and the “Mort of the Month.”  I’ll be honest -- I miss them.  Wizard without the snark could easily turn into an industry-wide Bullpen Bulletins, and while I dislike the lazy cheap shots, whenever the magazine pokes fun of something and has a legitimate point, it’s usually entertaining.  The more restrained Wizard is a little dull this month, but the features are rather educational and the mindless hype is kept to a minimum this issue.

Until next time, find me here...

One-Punch Man: A Major S-Class Hero Gets an Upgrade - But At What Cost?

More in Comics