Comic Wire

Thu, November 16th, 2000 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Beau Yarbrough, Columnist

JIM STARLIN RETURNS TO KNOWN SPACE

[Jim Starlin]
Jim Starlin

Jim Starlin has come home, back to the starfields of yesteryear.

You can look for Starlin to do new work at Marvel in the coming months.

"I'm doing a couple issues of 'Captain Marvel,' issues #17 and #18," Starlin told the Comic Wire on Wednesday. "And I'm talking to Dan Jurgens about doing a couple of 'Thor' fill-ins."

The "Captain Marvel" issues feature Thanos and Thor, and Starlin found he enjoyed working on the God of Thunder.

Starlin drawing Thanos, following drawing the elder Captain Marvel in issue #11 of the series, marks the end of a forced exile from that corner of the Marvel Universe.

"When [former editor-in-chief] Bob Harras was there, he arbitrarily said I couldn't have anything to do with Thanos or Adam Warlock," Starlin said. "Now that he's gone, I get to play with my toys again."

The characters Starlin is so well known for are pretty much as he remembers them.

"Fortunately, most of the characters I've done at Marvel, no one has done much with since then. Captain Marvel has stayed dead," he said. He was convinced to come back and draw "Captain Marvel" #11, written by Peter David. "I have to say, that was the best story from another writer I've ever drawn. He wrote a real tender story there at the end.

"The only story that really bothered me was where Thanos fights Ka-Zar. 'He beats him at the end? That doesn't make any sense.' That was more amusement than annoyance: They're their characters and they can do what they want with them."

Starlin fans wanting more than just his art might not have to wait too long.

"I'm also talking to Marvel about doing a miniseries," he said. "That'd be something I'd write and draw, but there's nothing definite on that yet."

As for what it would be about, "it's really at the speculation stage. … I've talked to them a little bit about doing Sub-Mariner, but they're holding off on that until they see how 'The Defenders' sell."

[Dreadstar]In the meantime, there's the reprints of his "Dreadstar" comics, published in trade paperback form by Slave Labor Graphics.

"I was going to do a new story in the fourth one. It was going to be a 22 page one," Starlin said. "My schedule got away from me, and I just can't do it at this point. … It seemed like a good idea at the time, but reality set in."

Starlin has always had the rights to the "Dreadstar" books, he said.

"What I didn't have was film I could work with. … What I had to do was wait until the technology got the point to where I could scan the books themselves and retouch them. … We're putting in new backgrounds here and there, and just jazzing things up."

Fans of his newer works, "Wyrd" and "The 'Breed" have been able to get into the setting in another way, via the "Elsewhere" computer game available from his Web site.

"I co-founded this company called Electric Prism. We started off coloring comic books, and we figured out right quick that we'd starve to death doing that." They switched to commercial work, then decided to do a computer game. "It's a first person walkthrough, somewhat along the lines of the original 'Myst.' You are 'Breed in it - you see yourselves in pools and mirrors. … You get to walk around Elsewhere, and that's the part that's really cool."

As for "'Breed," the comic book, Starlin acknowledges that there are some loose ends there.

"I'd like to finish off 'Breed.' I actually have four issues of 'Breed' III done, but we never found a publisher. … What I may do in about a year or so is run off the other two again, and print the third one then" in collected form.

As for that new "Dreadstar" story, Starlin said, "I wanted to expand on Maxillon. I had some ideas, but never got to put it together. … If comics get a bit healthier, I could go back and do that. But right now, frankly, nothing sells unless it's a Marvel or DC book."

Don't lose faith, though: "I'm sure somewhere, down the line, I'll do more of them."

KEYS TO THE KINGDOM:

DOSELLE YOUNG ON THE FUTURE OF 'MONARCHY'

[Monarchy]
Monarchy #1
Click to Enlarge

Let's get this straight, once and for all: DC/Wildstorm's new book, "Monarchy," will not be a spin-off of their JLA-with-lots-of-sex-and-killing book "The Authority."

"'Authority' and 'Monarchy' are both different takes on 'Stormwatch' and what you can do with the concept," Doselle Young, writer of "Monarchy," told the Comic Wire on Wednesday.

"Stormwatch," for those who missed it, was a United Nations superhero team engaged in Spandex-clad peace-keeping missions. Of course, a lot of people missed the original series: Runaway commercial successes typically don't get relaunched with a new #1 and then brutally slaughtered in a crossover with the Aliens of film fame before the surviving (i.e. not present) members spun off into their own new book with a new name. (Of course, said tactics eventually worked, given financial health of "The Authority.")

And given that "Monarchy" is, in many ways, the antithesis of "The Authority," it's entirely likely that a certain segment of its readers won't even be familiar with who and what Stormwatch was or how the ruins of that organization paved the way for Monarchy.

"I think that it's a tricky situation," Young said. "There's not going to be a lot of 'as you know,' explain-explain, wink-wink stuff. What I may do is put a text piece in the back of issue one. ... But I'm pretty much going to treat it as it was in 'The Authority' when it started. You get a reference here or there, and you can pick it up as you go along. … You certainly don't have to be an 'Authority' reader to read 'Monarchy.'"

So who is "Monarchy" for?

"I think the people who find 'The Authority' fun will also find 'Monarchy' fun, but the stories will range in scope a lot more," Young said. "In 'The Authority,' it seems like both [writers] Warren [Ellis] and Mark [Millar] did a thing where every arc, they fought a bigger monster. That won't happen in 'Monarchy.' … Most stories are character-driven."

"Monarchy" will also bear a resemblance to another Warren Ellis Wildstorm book, Young said.

"One of the things I want to do with 'Monarchy' is bridge the gap between 'Planetary' and 'Authority' and the rest of the Wildstorm Universe." That's not necessarily literally, but more of the idea that there are mythic characters in the Wildstorm Universe. "Certainly it's Warren's book, but I'd like to apply that mythology to the rest of the Wildstorm Universe."

Young is a big mythology fan, and draws inspiration from more than just the Greek and Norse myths that are so prevalent in superhero comics.

"I wouldn't be surprised if, somewhere down the line, someone gets chopped up into pieces and has to be put together by their wife."

(That's the story of Osiris, for those not familiar with Egyptian myth.)

And since the book was first announced, Young has been thrust into the cathode ray tube limelight of being a comic book creator both online and readily accessible. He's just not letting it go to his head.

"I can say that the fans on the DC Comics Wildstorm boards, those fans have been fantastic. But it would be asinine for me to mistake the voices of an unspecified whole of fandom," he said. As for the people who actually have seen both the "Monarchy" preview in "The Authority" #21 and the first issues of "Monarchy," "People at DC seem excited. People at Wildstorm seem excited. … I'm particularly pleased with #3. I feel the characters are really warming up."

As for what "Monarchy" is about, Young has compared the Authority to a sledgehammer and Monarchy to a scalpel.

"There's something underneath all the conspiracy theories and all the blah-blah, there's something fundamentally wrong with the Wildstorm Universe, and King and his team are the surgeons," he said.

The stories told in "Monarchy" will highlight both this illness in the Wildstorm Universe's collective soul and make the differences between this team and the Authority more apparent.

"In the first issue, [former Stormwatch leader Jackson] King and company are going to encounter the Young Authoritarians. They're a group of upper class kids that have been driving into poor neighborhoods and killing poor kids, following the Authority's 'example' in Southeast Asia."

And despite how it normally goes with contrasting comic book teams, don't look for the Authority and Monarchy to be crossing over to battle a world-threatening threat any time soon.

"There's no crossover planned. And there doesn't need to be a crossover. If the Monarchy need to meet the Authority, they can do that. But they're not really operating on the same level."

Just as the Authority was formed around the core of Stormwatch Black, so too will the Monarchy be forming around at least two members of Stormwatch.

"In terms of people from Stormwatch, I have [Jackson] King, I have [Christine] Trelane," Young said. "Most of the others I liked because Warren wrote them and they're dead. And they're going to stay dead.

The core team, Young said, will be King, Trelane, an "utterly revised Union, along with new characters Jon Farmer and Professor Q."

Memo to fans guessing at images they've seen of the Monarchy: There's multiple characters of color on the team.

"One of the things I'm getting such a kick out of is that everyone's looking at the cover thinking that must be Flint, as though there's only one brown person in the Wildstorm Universe," comic creator of color Young said.

"In order for King to do what he wanted to do, he needed to put together a very specific team for the job. … You can expect to see a couple of Wildstorm characters filtering in here and there, but mostly they're a brand new bag.

"I think the characters are fun. The plots are all over the place." All over the place literally: The team will be visiting Philadelphia, Manhattan and Kansas in the first three issues.

But in the final analysis, is "Monarchy" worth reading?

"I wrote a book I want to read," Young said. "And that's the best thing I can say about it."

MARVEL ANNOUNCES NEW MASTERWORK

Asked and answered.

Marvel Comics fans eager to put another high-end reprint volume on their shelves look forward to a new collection of classic "Daredevil" comics, the company announced Wednesday. It was only a few weeks ago that the company still hadn't officially decided what the next edition would feature.

Editor Tom Brevoort, the most prominent proponent of the Marvel Masterworks program, was quoted in Wednesday's Your Man @ Marvel column as saying the program would coming back with a volume of seldom-seen stories.

"Given that we're only just re-establishing the Masterworks program as a viable entity," Brevoort said, "It made the most sense to me to make sure that the next volume didn't duplicate material that had recently been reprinted in the Essentials [black and white paperback reprint] format. That left out great stuff like 'Amazing Spider-Man' #51 to #60, at least for the time being. But 'Daredevil' #12 to #21 was done by Stan Lee and John Romita, with the last two issues penciled by Gene Colan; most of it hadn't been reprinted since the '60s, if at all; and interest in Daredevil is high due to the success of the regular series.

"'Daredevil' was John Romita's first regular Marvel assignment and the work that won him his slot on 'Amazing Spider-Man' when Steve Ditko left. It's the period where the series really found its unique voice -- the flavor it would maintain until Frank Miller reinvented the book a decade and a half later. It includes the origin of Ka-Zar; a battle with the Ox; the first major team-up between hornhead and Spider-Man, which was the first time Romita got to draw the web-slinger; the first appearance of the Gladiator; and the first 'Daredevil' story illustrated by Gene Colan, who'd stay with the series long enough to become permanently associated with it. It's strong, classic Marvel material -- most of which hasn't been experienced by even the more avid collectors of today. That made it prime material to collect, in my opinion."

THE COMIC BRIEF IN BRIEF

In case you missed it, Wednesday saw a Comic Wire Extra with John Byrne announcing his decision to sever ties to Marvel Comics, and why, and Marvel's editor-in-chief Joe Quesada's reaction. You can read the story here.

And CBR's Comic Brief has also been busy since the last edition of the Comic Wire, including the following stories and press releases:

  • 'Comicology' Vol. II #2 in Stores Wednesday from TwoMorrows!

  • Chaos! Comics solicitations for product shipping March, 2001

  • Michael Myers to terrorize again in March 2001

  • Inker Rick Magyar brings his brush to CrossGen

AND FINALLY …

Special thanks to Scott Tilson and Paul Whitt.

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