Comic Wire

Mon, November 20th, 2000 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Beau Yarbrough, Columnist

LOEB ON PRESIDENT LUTHOR, THE HANGMAN

PREVIEW: 'SUPERMAN' #166

Forget the voters in Florida. They've only hung up a presidential election.

[Superman #166]
Superman #166 Preview
The creative team on DC Comics' line of Superman family of comics just put Superman's nemesis, Lex Luthor, in the White House.

Great Caesar's Ghost, what the heck were they thinking?

It's simple, Jeph Loeb, writer of the eponymous "Superman" title, told the Comic Wire on Friday: "It's a good story. We spent a lot of time talking about what was the next evolution in Superman's character, what made sort of the most sense in terms of what's happening to him.

"A lot of people have asked why Superman didn't do more to stop Luthor from becoming the president. The way we see the character, it's not his role. Once Luthor declared his presidency, it really became the job of the American people to decide whether or not they wanted him as the president."

"There's been a lot of controversy about it. And I sort of look at it and say 'good, there should be controversy about it.' … We're very proud of what we've done in the past year in 'Superman.'"

Among of the things the Super-books creative teams have done, Loeb said, is bring back the element of surprise.

"We're at least trying to tell stories that you don't necessarily know how they're going to end. When we look around the comic book universe, what's going on in the big franchises? What's going in the X-Men? What's going on in Spider-Man? What storylines are breaking ground and getting people excited and getting people to think about what's going on. And when we look at what's going on in 'Superman?' Are Lois and Clark getting divorced? Oh, my gosh, it's Super-bitch. Oh, my god, the whole world has turned upside down? Joker's in this book? Luthor's the president? And now Superman's unsure of his origin."

That's right: This January, in "Superman" #166, Superman learns that the chilly Krypton of 1986's "Man of Steel" miniseries that reimagined Superman for the modern age may not have been the whole story. Fans of Superman's Silver Age origin and Krypton likely have a good picture of the Krypton Superman learns about -- and more -- this spring.

"I don't think we're telling event-for-event storytelling," Loeb said. "We all sort of agreed that we wanted to tell stories that are 'this is a job for Superman.' … Judging from the mail, and judging from the sales, and judging from the reaction, we seem to be hitting that note."

Big stories can spin out of introspective issues. In a way, deciding just what constitutes a job for Superman and his role in the world lead to the new origin story.

"When you live in a world where Lex Luthor is the president of the United States, and your faith in what you think is right is shaken, one of the things we do is look in ourselves to find out why we behave a certain way. Sometimes that involves looking where you came from and how that happens to you. So it seems like a natural progression of … what I think is what we're going to be dealing with in the first quarter of this year, which is 'Who is Superman?' And that's a big question.

"It's more about how does this person fit into the 21st century. And that story has really hit home in 'Action Comics' #775, which is on sale at the end of January … where Superman goes up against a group of 'superheroes' called the Elite, who don't really have any sort of moral code. They just get the job done. And there are some very popular comics and superteams out there that follow that. Which brings you to what Joe Kelly entitled 'What's So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way?' And it's an amazing story. It's a very, very difficult subject to tackle, and tackle successfully without making it seem like 'oh, all those other comics suck' … or 'Superman's outdated and he's a big boy scout.'

"Don't get me wrong: We're huge fans of those comics. That's what so great about being in comics right now, that there is just such a huge diversity of comics out there right now."

For a comic to demand "this is a job for Superman" can mean a variety of things.

"As with anything, we try to tell the best stories. But when you're telling a Superman story, you have a certain responsibility to tell a bigger story than any other story. That doesn't mean you have to save the universe every month. … Luthor running for president, in itself, is a clever idea. Supervillain becomes super-president. But it becomes interesting when you see what it does to Superman. … Whenever any of us wants to tell a story, [Superman line editor Eddie Berganza] asks the question -- or we ask each other the question -- 'how does this story affect Superman? How does this story affect Clark?'

"Luthor running for president by itself is not a Superman story. Luthor running for president and Superman not being able to do anything about it, now that IS a Superman story."

The clever idea of a supervillain president could potentially overwhelm the Superman family of books, as the creators were well aware.

"The first concern that we talked about was this book can't become 'Superman, guest starring Lex Luthor the President.'"

But some months, President Luthor will inevitably take center stage. In March, Loeb said, "there are going to be stories that involve Luthor in a direct way."

Of course, he's also in most issues of "Superman," Loeb said, "because we consider him a regular part of the cast. There's generally a cutaway to, or a peek in there. But I hope by now the readers know that, within the issue, or in next issue, or six months down the line, whatever's in there is going to affect Superman."

And if the "Superman" comic won't become a Lex Luthor vehicle, neither will its focus shift from Metropolis to Washington, DC. Not entirely, anyway.

"We've wrecked Metropolis a bunch of times, and now it'd be fun to go wreck Washington. And I say that in the best-natured way. There are so many icons of the things that Superman stands for -- the truth, the justice, the American way -- that exist in Washington. Using those as the backdrop has a nice resonance for the character. We're not going to do that every month; he live in Metropolis."

"We've wrecked Metropolis a bunch of times, and now it'd be fun to go wreck Washington. And I say that in the best-natured way."
  - Jeph Loeb

That split focus will come into play this spring, when Loeb teams up with Greg Rucka with a "Detective Comics" and "Superman" crossover when Batman decides it's time to take back the kryptonite ring in Luthor's possession and Superman has to decide whether or not he agrees.

The issue isn't as clear cut as it might first appear:

"As President of the United States, should he have a way to stop the most powerful superhero on the planet? And given that, not too long ago, that superhero tried to take over the world, for what he thought were all the right reasons! And that, in itself, is a difficult enough question, but then you add in that the president is Lex Luthor ... We think that, when it's over, our readers will be really delighted as to how it all settles out."

Berganza told the Comic Wire earlier this month that there are no plans to end the presidency of Lex Luthor, something that Loeb echoed Friday.

"As long as it continues to put Superman in harder and harder places, that's a good story."

And while the fact that everything old is new again vis--vis Superman's secret origin will be the big draw for many comic fans, there's an extra surprise at the end of the issue for comic fans, when president-elect Luthor names part his cabinet, all of whom will be familiar faces to longtime comic fans.

"The cabinet was a smile," Loeb said. "To a section of the people who read that issue, and see who that cabinet is, it won't mean anything to them. They're just the characters we'll get to know. But to long time readers, you look and go 'whoops, there's a story there, whoops, there's a story there, whoops, there's a story there.'"

While the presidency of President Alexander Luthor hasn't even formally begun, Loeb's last big event, the 13 month long "Batman: Dark Victory" series, has just wound up. A sequel to the 13 month series "Batman: The Long Halloween" limited series, "Dark Victory" took the "Year One"-era Batman through his first year after Harvey Dent became Two-Face and introduced a certain Boy Wonder.

"We said from the very beginning that we very much felt like 'The Long Halloween' was this long roller coaster that we took the readers on, and when the roller coaster went into a long dark tunnel, we got out and said 'so long.' … We felt like it was time to finish the story, take the readers out of the tunnel and into the light."

Which isn't to say it's all sunshine and happiness in "Dark Victory."

"It's certainly, from our point of view, stayed within the freeway that is a Batman story without hitting the guard rail in the sense that something bad happens to someone and that the way they decide to deal with it turns them into monster. That began the night that Bruce Wayne's parents were killed and it's an ongoing theme when you look at the origin of the Joker, when you look at the origin of Two-Face, when you look at the origin of Catwoman, when you look at the origin of Robin. … Something bad happened, and when they grow up, the monster is unleashed. Now, that monster can be Batman. That monster can be contained and used for good."

There has been some grumbling amongst the usual suspects that "Dark Victory" doesn't exactly square with the established history of Batman and Robin.

"You know, it fits if you recognize that different people tell different stories in different ways. Some people include some things, and some people include other things. Jimmy Olsen did not become Robin, Dick Grayson did. Other than that," Loeb trailed off, laughing. "Every now and then, someone tells a story that sticks around longer than the other ones, and those are the ones that people tend to remember. If ours is a story that people remember, great. If this is one that people just enjoy for a year or two, that's OK too. … It's not meant to redefine anything. It's just meant to define some things."

Among them, "what happened to the relationship of Batman and Harvey Dent, and the relationship between Batman and Commissioner Gordon."

[Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale]
(L-R) Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale

Of course, since "The Long Halloween" came out, the story's acclaim continued to grow. A trip from Gotham to Metropolis for "Superman for All Seasons" only heightened the demand for another foray by Loeb and Sale into Batman's past.

Did any of this translate to increased pressure on the team when they sat down to begin "Dark Victory?"

"No, it didn't," Loeb said. "That's not who Tim and I are. I'm far too competitive with the story I did last month. I don't need to go back to last year."

And, of course, Loeb has another reason that he wasn't worrying about it: "I cheat. I have Tim Sale as my partner. If nothing else, the pictures are gonna be great."

With the recent climax of "Dark Victory," it's very clear that the series was, in many ways, a very different story than its predecessor, "The Long Halloween."

"It was intended to be a different reading experience," Loeb said. "There was an attempt on our part to start mysteries and solve them and keep the reader playing the game. … The first one being that who was Janice Porter's lover. It was always our intention that at the end of the fifth issue, 'Love,' that you would find out who it was, and if you had been an armchair detective and following the clues, you could go 'ah HA! I knew that! I can solve this thing.'"

One of the key differences between the two stories is that, in "Dark Victory," by the end, there's no question as to the identity and of the Hangman, while some still have questions as exactly who Holiday was in "The Long Halloween."

"If everyone who read 'The Long Halloween' didn't get it, Tim and I told a bad story. That's just reality. But it seems like, to us, that there were a vast majority of people who did get it. That's not to say that the people who didn't get it are wrong or stupid or whatever. I've had people explain the story to me in intelligent, step-by-step methods that are not what I intended. I don't want to stop that, I don't want to argue that, I think it's fun."

Part of the reason the two stories are so different comes from the fact that, the first time around, Loeb and Sale were positive that the Holiday mystery would end up being too easy for the readers.

"Tim and I, when every issue of 'The Long Halloween' came out, we were sure it would blow up and be so obvious. And in the end, when it came out and people were confused, we decided with 'Dark Victory,' to put it right in people's faces in the first issue," Loeb said. "And people didn't catch onto it. People were more concerned about whether the Roman was dead. … Without giving away the ending, figuring out who the killer was seemed like too much trouble for people."

Part of why few people figured out the Hangman's identity, Loeb said, is the use of misdirection. (Without spoiling anything for those who haven't read it: Go back and check out a pivotal confrontation between the Joker and the Hangman, looking at the parts of the panels where the action isn't focused.)

"What we tried to do, and I think we succeeded, was do a story with a lot of 'hey, look over here,' 'hey, look over here,' 'hey, look over here' and keep you from looking where you were supposed to."

'YOU FOLKS SHAPE THE FUTURE'

QUESADA TALKS TO FANS

[Joe Quesada]
Joe Quesada
By his own admission, Marvel Comics' new editor-in-chief, Joe Quesada, isn't a long time netizen. Between getting online and being named to the top creative job at Marvel, though, he was extremely accessible to online fans.

This Sunday, he reached out to online fans at the rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe Usenet newsgroup.

"Hey, all! The time is flying by and it's been a while since I chimed in, but as I promised I'd do from time to time, here I is! I had a few minutes between reading proofs and tending to a pregnant wife and thought I would check in to see how everyone was doing. I figured this would also be an opportune moment since we'll most likely be announcing the full range of X cancellations next week and I'm sure I'll be on at least half of fandom's hit list."

In the past month, Marvel has announced that they will conduct regular telephone press conferences for the comics news media. At previous press conferences, Quesada and Marvel president Bill Jemas have reiterated Marvel's commitment to collectability, and discussed the changes to the X-Men books.

"Needless to say, I'm aware that every book that's canceled is someone's favorite and that no decision is going to go down well with everyone, but I will say this, a lot of thought has gone into these decisions and your cards and letters have help us make what, we feel, will hopefully be the right ones.

"I would like to address a few things if it's OK and I'll try to touch on as many points as I can since it's tough for me to post that often. I empathize with all of you, as a reader I had many of my favorite titles at one time or another canceled, but I have to agree with a few posters here. For many a moon fandom has been asking Marvel to trim the X line and that's exactly what we're doing so please trust in the fact that we're here listening to your wants and wishes. You folks shape the future.

"I've heard it commented that our killing off of profitable books in a failing market is like committing suicide. Quite frankly, it's my belief that not doing this at this juncture is certain death. As I've been quoted before, we have the best seat on the Titanic; the difference between us and the ill-fated passengers of that vessel is that they didn't know that there was an iceberg in the way. … What we want to do at this time is not just trim the number of titles, but strengthen the quality of those books by bringing in the best and brightest talent available. I mean let's really look at this, we've got [Grant] Morrison, [Joe] Casey, [Chris] Claremont and [Mark] Millar doing core X books for us! I hear on some planets that's a pretty good line up!

"I've had numerous talks with all of our X creators about accessibility and clarity of the upcoming X launch and you would be surprised at how I'm not a lone voice crying out in the night here. Everyone is on board, we know that there is so much to improve on and the destiny of our industry is really depending on it. From the core books to the fringe, all of our X writers and artist know what the mission is, basically failure is not an option."

Beyond changes in the X-line -- the subject of this week's scheduled press conference -- Quesada looked further into the future.

"On a couple of other fronts, stay tuned because we've got plenty more announcements on the way including a new imprint and a long list of books which will be dealing with other genres outside of just people in spandex beating on each other. Oh, and we may be dropping the price on a few more titles too!

"On the personal front, the [editor-in-chief] position so far has been pretty interesting, demanding as all heck and yes, from my sheer fanboy perspective, a lot of fun (but please don't tell my boss that). It's really the ultimate insider job for anyone who loves this industry and those of you who e-mail me questions know that I'm never shy talking about it. Quite frankly, Nanci (my wife) believes I may love the industry too much, but how many of us here can actually say we haven't had this argument with a spouse, love one or family member before? It just gets under your skin, I've heard so many pros say that they wish they could just leave, heck there are so many better paying art/writing jobs out there, but they just feel this unnatural draw to this industry. It really is like a drug.

"I want to thank all of you as always who send along your opinions, suggestions, arguments and well wishes because it makes me feel comfortable in the fact that we're doing things that make people feel passionate about our industry again! Silence is death but from what I've seen in the last two plus months the patient is still breathing and starting to kick!"

CASEY/YOUNG DOUBLE-TEAM ON 'DOUBLE IMAGE'

PREVIEW: 'THE BOD'

[The Bod #1]
The Bod #1 Preview
Once upon a time, there were comic books that featured two separate ongoing series under one cover.

While Marvel Comics, which arguably had the most success with the format, periodically gives the format another whirl, it will next be seen this February, when Image Comics publishes "Double Image."

The new monthly features writer Joe Casey's and artist Charlie Adlard's "Codeflesh," and writer Larry Young's and artist John Heebink's "The Bod."

"The Bod" tells the story of Hollywood would-be actress Kelly Gordon. A special effects accident renders the otherwise dime-a-dozen starlet invisible.

"The interesting bit of the story, for me, is actually dictated by the 'Double Image' format, itself," Young told the Comic Wire on Tuesday. "A book with two stories in it, like the old [Marvel Comics series] 'Tales of Suspense,' only leaves 12 pages for 'Codeflesh' and 12 pages for 'The Bod.' Instead of trying to compress the story into four 12 part chapters, artist John Heebink and I are taking story 'snapshots' of this girl's life. So the story isn't exactly 'fleshed out' as it is having each chapter illuminate a pivotal event in her life. Issue one, of course, sets up who she is, most of the main players, and how she becomes invisible ... but this is really hit-and-run story-telling. [You're] not going to be able to predict where the story finishes from the slam-bang of the first chapter, that's for sure."

In contrast, "Codeflesh" is a whole lot more slam-bang by definition: It's the story of a bail bondsman whose primary clientele is supervillains. For many readers, "bail bonds" translates to "bounty hunter," typically of the "Midnight Run" variety. Casey said not to expect a comic version of the same.

"I dug 'Midnight Run,' no doubt about it," Casey told the Comic Wire on Thursday. "But 'Codeflesh' is certainly different, in terms of tone, because there's an ample helping of some of the conventions of superhero comics. Some of the most classic conventions, actually ... like the secret identity. This is a staple of superhero comics and it's a big part of the engine that drives 'Codeflesh.'"

But Casey also has something different in mind for the title.

"One thing about a lot of comics is that they don't portray adult behavior as well as other mediums. Adults in comics generally suffer from fairly weak characterization. It's as though the ambiguity of adult behavior is never adequately translated in comics (particularly superhero comics). If there's any one thing that I'm trying to achieve, tone-wise, it's that I want to write adult characters doing adult things. Making adult choices (which, as we know, aren't always the RIGHT choices).

"There is a bit of the 'bounty hunter gives chase'-vibe to the series, but that's just the window dressing for deeper themes of friendship, loyalty, and trust that run through 'Codeflesh.'"

Likewise, "The Bod" is aiming for something more mature than readers might be expecting.

"No one can believe that I wrote an invisible person story where the main character is NOT a secret agent for the government," Young said. "There is just as much amazement that Image Central is publishing it, since one of the themes of the story deals with the objectification of women in society. I think, after 'The Bod' completes its four-issue run, folks will be pointing to it and saying, 'This is the book where Old Image lost the T & A.' I really applaud Jim Valentino for the efforts he's making to distance Image Central from the ol' boobs-and-guns of Image Past."

So, an invisible starlet and a bail bondsman for supervillains: Not necessarily the two stories one might think to put together in one book. According to Casey, it's like chocolate and peanut butter – two great tastes that go great together.

"I think the obvious differences in the two series is what will make the book work. They're not diametrically opposed, because I think Larry and I share a sensibility in bringing different types of subject matter to an industry dominated by a certain style of comic."

MATT WAGNER WORKS THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC

ON 'GREEN ARROW,' MARVEL ULTIMATE TEAM-UP

Don't think you've heard much from Matt Wagner since the end of his "Mage: The Hero Defined" series? Starting in January, he'll have a higher profile once more amongst mainstream comic fans.

Of course, it's not like he went anywhere.

"After the completion of 'Mage: The Hero Defined' (which was a two year project), I provided over 80 black and white drawings and a painted cover for the first 'Grendel' illustrated novel, 'Past Prime,' which was written by Greg Rucka," Wagner told the Comic Wire on Thursday. "Additionally, I rendered 12 painted covers for the Dark Horse remastered editions of 'Devil's Legacy' (which have been gathered into a 2001 calendar by Graphitti Designs and which is available now). Additionally, I have also been steadily writing stories for the next Grendel project, 'Red, White & Black.' It sure feels like I've been busy on this end!"

Wagner will also be working as a cover artist for DC Comics' new "Green Arrow" series. It's no secret as to why he's doing it.

"Well, Kevin Smith's the writer and Bob Schreck is the editor. It's not a very crooked path from those two to me (or maybe it is crooked, at that). And, sure, I've always found Green Arrow to be a great character as I had always been quite interested in archery when I was younger. I've always loved the Robin Hood legends and, in fact, gave Robin the Boy Wonder a scene wherein he uses a bow and arrow at the conclusion of 'Batman/Grendel II.' In fact, Green Arrow is very similar to Batman in the sense that both characters are ordinary men driven to heroics, not super-powered beings forced into the situation."

[Ultimate Marvel]In February, Wagner will also be one of the first artists to get a crack at Marvel Comics' new Ultimate line of characters, as the artist on the first story in "Ultimate Marvel," the new Marvel team-up book.

For a guy who hasn't done much with the Spandex set of mainstream superheroes, telling a tale of the first meeting of Spider-Man and Wolverine seems a bit out of character.

"Well, I'd have to say that, aside from Spider-Man, this isn't exactly a Spandex-heavy tale either. This story takes place before Logan first encounters the X-Men and so he isn't in any sort of costume yet. In fact, he very much resembles a younger Hugh Jackman a la the movie version of the character.

"[Writer] Brian Bendis has been enjoying great success with his new version of the Ultimate Spider-Man and I had enjoyed this terrifically fresh rendition as well. When he e-mailed me to say that he had convinced Marvel to let him re-launch a new version of Marvel Team-Up set in the Ultimate Universe, I was immediately interested.

"One of the things that has often held me back from working for either of the Big Two publishers has been the immense and ponderous catalog of past continuity that needed to be addressed. This project presented a great chance to offer some of the seminal moments in this new, less restricted narrative. Still, this would be my very first major job for Marvel after nearly 20 in the industry and so I wanted to make it a big one. When I suggested that we open the series with the big splash of what are arguably Marvel's two flagship characters, everyone wholeheartedly agreed."

Wagner has drawn one of the two characters before, although it's something that most people would never have seen, or even know existed.

"When I say this is my first major job for Marvel, I have in fact done a few very small things for them in the past. I painted a Hulk/Thing poster many years ago and wrote a short story for a Rampaging Hulk annual several years after that. But my very, very first gig of any sort for Marvel was a color illustration for their company X-Mas party one year. It featured Spider-Man in a tux jacket and tie descending a deco staircase."

There has been a lot of talk about how important Marvel's new Ultimate line of comics -- which feature the classic Marvel concepts restarted from scratch with a modern sensibility and beyond direct market distribution -- are for the company and, potentially, the industry.

"I think one of the exciting things about the Ultimate books is that it re-interprets the classic elements of these characters into a modern setting and I think that's going to prove to be a vital element for attracting new readers. After all, it was when DC let Frank Miller have his way with one of their flagship characters [in 'Batman: The Dark Knight Returns'] that the industry had its last greatest renaissance. If I was a kid, I wouldn't give a damn about the Spider-Man of the current continuity. He's grown up and married for god's sake! But, when I read the first issues of 'Ultimate Spider-Man' with my 10 year old son, there was a definite connection taking place. Brian's really succeeded into tapping into the young energy that made Spider-Man such a great character to begin with."

And, of course, Wagner has his own Spandex-clad heroine to worry about. Next year will feature the return of Grendel, in a new "Black, White & Red" book "I think in the fall of 2001. Again, the premise is yet more untold tales of Hunter Rose drawn by a bevy of the industry's most talented artists and all written by me. Corralling 20 different artists into doing anything in tandem is quite a task, so it'll take a while to pull it all together. Looking good, though, as the art contributors list includes: Brian Bendis, Dan Brereton, Zandor Cannon, Tom Fowler, Kelly Jones, Cam Kennedy, Michael Lark, Jim Mahfood, Michael Avon Oeming, Paul Pope, Derrick Robertson, John K. Snyder III, Jill Thompson, Andi Watson, Ashley Wood and Michael Zulli."

There will also be some additional Wagnerania in the spring.

"Well, in addition to the Devil's Legacy calendar, Graphitti is also issuing a 'Mage' PVC set featuring the characters from 'The Hero Defined.' This should be in stores by January and features seven pieces for (I think) $34.95. Also, the next line of Big Blast action figures from Graphitti will be available around February. This series features not only Hellboy, but also the Christine Spar incarnation of Grendel sculpted by myself and The Spirit for which I provided the model sheets designs."

MADUREIRA MAD OVER 'SUPERMAN' CHANGES

Joe Madureira is having a less-than-merry Christmas this year.

The creator of "Battle Chasers" is one of a number of artists contributing to a "jam" issue of DC Comics' "Superman" this December, featuring the Man of Steel interacting with the rest of the Justice League during the holidays.

Madureira sounded off on his message boards on Thursday.

"OK. I've learned something very important from posting on these boards, and that is that I have a tendency to fly off the handle, and allow my emotions to take over, causing me to write things that I later regret.

"Well, I've waited over a week, and I'm still pissed off, so here goes. Please keep in mind that I'm not out to badmouth anyone, but I DO feel like I have the right to inform my fans about things that directly affect my artwork.

"DC screwed with my pages. I am NOT happy. The changes may seem small to most people, but to me, they are huge. HUGE. On every page, they had someone redraw the bat-symbol on batman's chest, from the classic yellow and black that I drew, to the new black one.

"OK, this is lame for many reasons. First of all, I think for a special issue like this, with six different artists contributing work, they could have allowed a bit of artistic license. Especially since for most of us, it's the first time we are drawing these characters. Secondly, there are certain shots that I absolutely would not have done if I knew that I couldn't work with the yellow symbol (there's a Frank Milleresque silhouette shot of Supes and Bats, where only their chest symbols are visible. Once cool, now lame). The perspective on the bat is off on the MAJOR shot of Batman, the splash page. Which brings me to the MOST annoying thing about this. I turned those pencils in almost four months before the release date of this book. You would think that they could have called me and had me make the changes. Nah, let's do it without telling Joe and let him find out about it when it's in stores.

"Another minor, but annoying change is that I asked for a blur effect on a sequence where Batman is landing on a roof top (I did multiple images). At first, the colorists blurred the wrong one, but we caught it in time, and they made the change as per my request. Well, someone at DC (again, without ever once consulting me) decided they didn't LIKE the blur at all. They had it removed, and simply ghosted the figure instead. Ok, now this pisses me off. The FIRST change was probably a legal one, or a continuity one, they wanted the current bat symbol, whatever. But this is an instance of Editorial overriding my artistic decision, and there really is no reason for it. If I wanted a blur, leave the goddamn blur alone.

"There's more, but it's minor. The point is, I had SO much difficulty with only three pages, I can't imagine what it must be like to work on an entire issue, or for that matter, an ongoing series at DC. There's a complete lack of respect for creators there, and this is a small, but to me, important example. I haven't had my work changed behind my back since back in MCP when I started, and even then I think I was notified. Total blow to my ego. I actually thought my penciling these pages had some importance (I guarantee you the sales, especially backorders are going to go through the roof) but apparently, it wasn't important to DC.

"All I would have liked, was for someone at DC to at least CALL me and tell me they were making these changes. If I hadn't asked to see the color proofs, I literally would not have known until the issue was out and in my hands. I've heard grumbling from some of the other artists in this issue too. I was so excited about this project at first, and now, I'm just left with a really bad taste in my mouth. I'm not even looking forward to it coming out anymore. It will be hard for me to look at it.

"I really should have taken all this crap I just posted and told it to DC, but honestly, I don't have the energy to try and change what can't be changed. My apologies to my pals Jeff Loeb, and Ed McGuiness, I'm not trying to shoot down your book in any way, and you know where I'm coming from. You should both be proud of the work you've done. 'Superman' rocks today because of you.

"There. I said my piece. Now I'll wait by the phone to get yelled at. Bwahahhahaha! Hey, now I know how Sinead O'Connor felt on her Saturday Night Live appearance years ago. FIGHT THE TRUE ENEMY I shout as I tear a copy of Green Lantern. Hahaha. It's fun to be a jackass."

Having posted the comments, Madureira appeared to cool down in subsequent comments to the thread:

"The truth is, DC owns that artwork, and technically, they can do whatever they want with it. Thank god I own ['Battle Chasers'] or they might decide Gully's hands are too big, or Garrison's eyebrows are too bushy. I won't even mention Red Monika. I'm over it now, I said my piece, so let's keep the flames to a minimum. No sense crying over spilled ink.

"This does not affect my relationship with Wildstorm in any way. It doesn't even change my relationship with DC, it just opened my eyes to a few things, that's all."

To fans who thought that the blame lay with the editors involved, and not DC in its entirety, he replied: "I AM blaming the company, and not the one or two people responsible. They can't be held accountable. The reason is, NO ONE has any control over there. With a corporation as huge as AOL and Warner [Brothers] in charge of DC, you never know quite where to put the blame. One person has to answer to another person, and them to someone else, until you have this big ball of red tape big enough to blot out the sun. It could have been an editor, it could have been the legal department, it could have been the vice president, president, head of licensing, sales, promotions, maybe even Warner Bros. Who the heck knows? When you call to find out, the answer you always get is, ' This is not my decision to make.' So you see, I can't hold one person accountable. Huge corporations suck. Period.

"(Disclaimer. I DO like Marvel lately. I have had a lot of positive talks with [editor-in-chief Joe Quesada], and it really seems like they are putting all the power back where it should be ... in the hands of the creators. I hope they keep it up, damn it.)"

And as for why, knowing that the book and characters involved were owned by DC, Madureira thought he might be insulated from such editorial interference:

"Ego aside, I CAN tell you 'Battle Chasers' is the highest selling book at DC. This isn't stroking my ego, it's just a fact, I can't help it! (Nor do I want to!) I think it's safe to assume that there are going to be quite a lot of BC readers picking up this issue while waiting for the next 'Battle Chasers' book. I can also tell you that a majority of 'Battle Chasers' readers do not read 'Superman,' so these are NEW readers they are getting. Blah blah blah, sorry it came across as egotistical, but I was trying to avoid this long-winded explanation.

"I think to an extent, every artist has an ego. Especially good artists. Why strive to make your work great if no one is going to enjoy it, or if you don't enjoy it yourself? I think the trick is, to never stop learning. When you think your stuff is perfect, when you stop seeing flaws in your own work, but see it in everyone else's, then you become a problem. To me, THAT'S an ego. I don't think I have that problem.

"Yet.

"MuauAuAUHAhahahAHhah! I WILL rule the world!"

"Superman" #165 from DC Comics is scheduled to be in stores on December 6. "Battle Chasers" #7 from DC/Wildstorm is scheduled to be in stores on November 29.

THE COMIC BRIEF IN BRIEF

Check out CBR's Comic Brief since the last edition of the Comic Wire, including the following stories and press releases:

  • Petrucha & Adlard reunite for new online graphic series "In The Dark"

  • Avatar Press solicitations for product shipping February 2001

  • Greg Rucka and Oni Press serve "Queen and Country" bimonthly

  • Australian ban on "From Hell" lifted

  • "SpyBoy" apparently not canceled

AND FINALLY ...

Special thanks to Augie De Blieck and Scott Tilson.

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