Comic Wire

Fri, November 3rd, 2000 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Beau Yarbrough, Columnist

ORIGINAL 'BIG TOWN' SCRIPT TO BE POSTED ONLINE

Steve Englehart had a big idea: What if all the super-science Marvel Comics superheroes like the Fantastic Four and Iron Man used actually began to affect the world around them?

In the normal Marvel Universe, the Fantastic Four's Reed Richards fires interstellar rockets from his Manhattan headquarters, as well as traveling time and to other dimensions, but always returns to a New York City that pretty much resembles our Big Apple.

But what if, instead, all that high technology began to be part of the civilian population's society, and instead of just being used to smack around bad guys, it was used to change the quality of life for ordinary human beings?

New York City, for one thing, might become "Big Town," the setting for a four issue Marvel Comics miniseries, the first issue of which is scheduled to arrive in stores on Wednesday, November 8.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Big Town: According to a statement Englehart released Tuesday, an unnamed Marvel staffer recalled the book shortly before it was headed to the printer and had the book reworked, with pages shuffled, characters and conflicts changed. The differences were substantial enough that Englehart wanted to publicly distance himself -- as well as fellow "Big Town" creators Mike McKone, Mark McKenna, Matt Hicks and Chris Claremont -- from the final product.

"First, I really appreciate all the support I got over this," Englehart told the Comic Wire late Thursday night. "My e-mail has been jammed since Tuesday morning, but I didn't want to say much until I'd had several long talks with [Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada] and others at Marvel.

"Joe put out a press release Wednesday -- before we'd finished -- saying we'd talked and everything was ironed out. I would say, rather, that we talked, and we're still talking. He has offered to do the real version of 'Big Town' #1 if there's a second printing or a trade paperback -- events I don't consider all that likely in Marvel's current state, but there's some hope there. And he has learned, by going back to the editors involved, that he was misinformed about charges he made against me (had the book for a week and didn't say anything, etc.) ...

"So things have turned out pretty darn well -- except that the bogus 'Big Town' is still shipping next Wednesday. So in response to many requests, I'll be posting the real script on the net in the next few days. [Fellow Marvel freelancer] Kurt Busiek has suggested that Marvel host it, an idea I like very much, and I've proposed it to Joe. If that doesn't work out I'll find someplace else …

"That should answer [the] questions about what specifically was changed. I might talk a little bit about what was cut in the transition from six to four issues, as well."

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