Comic Wire

Mon, December 11th, 2000 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Beau Yarbrough, Columnist

AXEL ALONSO ON LEAVING VERTIGO

FOR THE WEB OF SPIDER-MAN

[Spider-Man]Once upon a time, there was a DC/Vertigo editor named Axel Alonso. While the line had always been famously Brit-friendly, Alonso brought in European artists and influences, blazing his own trail in a not-quite-as-maverick-as-it-once-was line.

Then, this September, Alonso left behind his gunpowder-and-mysticism soaked comics in favor of one of superhero comics' standards: Marvel Comics' Spider-Man line of comics.

It was a move that raised a few eyebrows, as Alonso had previously been working in what most fans would assume is a much freer editorial environment than Marvel's House of Ideas.

"With Spider-Man, I'm dealing with a major icon, and I'm being given wide latitude to play with him," Alonso told the Comic Wire on Friday. "I'm not being forced to think within the lines. Spider-Man's appeal doesn't have to be limited to hardcore super-hero fans or Spider-Man fans in particular. He can be used to tell so many different types of stories, and he's wide open to so many different types of interpretations -- as the third Spider-Man title will prove."

At Vertigo, Alonso was the editor who strayed most regularly from the mainstream, both from the mainstream of comics generally and from what the other editors were doing within Vertigo. His work included Vertigo's series of anthology miniseries, "Jonny Double," "Hellblazer" and more. Now, of course, he's editing one of the pillars of the mainstream: Marvel's Spider-Man line.

"At Vertigo, I tended to gravitate toward alternative comics with a mainstream feel -- stuff like 'Preacher,' '100 Bullets,' 'Human Target,' 'Unknown Soldier.' Here at Marvel, I am, of course, dead center in the mainstream, but that doesn't mean that I have to paint by numbers. Take a look at the writers and artists who're coming on board in April and you'll see what I mean. Straczynski on 'Amazing Spider-Man,' Paul Jenkins with a refocused 'Peter Parker: Spider-Man,' and, c'mon, a Garth Ennis 'Spider-Man' -- tell me THAT isn't different!

"In film, we've seen the influence of independent cinema leak into the mainstream -- 'Unbreakable' being a good example of this trend. More and more, we're seeing that it's possible to come at traditional material from offbeat angles. I think it's possible to do the same with mainstream comics -- with characters like Spider-Man. In the coming year, we intend to give readers a little bit of everything -- stories of the classic hero ... candid looks behind the mask ... slice-of-life stories ..."

In the past, Alonso's books have been free of real continuity issues, something that many fans complain have overwhelmed many Marvel books in recent years, most particularly the Spider-Man books. Alonso isn't getting too worried about getting caught in a web of past stories.

"Well, when a character comes with a complicated back story, you have to do your homework, and you have to make hard decisions about when -- if ever -- you're going to allow yourself to be corralled and constrained by minor moments in continuity. My goal is to allow my writers and artist to have some fun, to create. So far, I haven't hit any snags."

Alonso's fingerprints are already all over the Spider-Man books, even if fans haven't seen many of them yet.

"I'm very excited about April when Straczynski takes over 'Amazing' and when the third title launches. After that, I'm resurrecting some of my favorite old characters -- most of whom don't wear tights, and all of whom I've loved since I was a kid. If they'd been DC characters I'd have done 'em already."

Having guided some of DC's most eclectic books, only to head to the House of Ideas this fall, Alonso says he'll keep up with the books he left behind.

"Sure will. It wasn't easy to walk away from my books. 'Preacher' had wound to its end, so there was some closure for me on that one, but I had to leave a few of my babies behind -- including stuff that hasn't even come out yet: several war projects by Garth, 'Codename: Knockout,' 'El Diablo,' 'Weird Western Tales,' etc. Out of everything, I suppose I'll miss '100 Bullets' most. That's the book. Those are my boys."

ED BRUBAKER BEYOND 'DEADENDERS' DEAD END

[Deadenders #1]Fans of Ed Brubaker's quirky "Deadenders" got the word directly from the man this week: The series will be wrapping up next year.

"I had originally hoped to have until issue 18 to wrap everything up, but it was decided to go only to 16," Brubaker told the Comic Wire on Friday. "Since that is the case, I've come up with a plan to wrap things up by then. I'm hoping that issues 14 and 15 don't seem too packed with detail, but I'm confident that issue 16 will be the best issue of the entire series, and a great ending to it all."

Of course, Brubaker isn't just vanishing quietly. Readers of DC Comics will hardly be able to miss his work in 2001.

"As far as future work goes, Bryan Talbot and I are well into the 'Dead Boy Detectives' mini-series, which is going really well, and looks to be some of Bryan's finest artwork to date. He's been amazing to work with. I'm already back working on 'Batman,' though my new issues won't appear for a while. I'm also well into my work on 'Catwoman' and the back-up for 'Detective' that leads into it. In March, I believe, 'Batman: Gotham Noir,' my Elseworlds homage to '40s crime films comes out, drawn by Sean Phillips, and I have a few other things in the works some approved and some not that I really can't talk about yet.

"So, I'm more than busy, if anything, busier than I've ever been. But to squash all those rumors, I'm not taking over 'The Authority.' ;)"

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO 'WONDER WOMAN vs. XENA?'

[Xena/Wonder-Woman]A funny thing happened on the way to the forum.

Amazon fans waiting for the top two Amazonian superheroes to finally meet, in the DC Comics/Dark Horse Comics "Wonder Woman vs. Xena PPV (Pay Per View)" special just have to wait a little longer.

"Everything was AOK on it, but I've gone through four editors on it and they've come and gone," writer Beau Smith told the Comic Wire on Friday. "We hit something of a snag when Dark Horse cancelled the Xena comic. … DC got right back on it the next day, and I've got a new editor … Eddie Berganza."

The special is back on track now, and Smith expects to put the finishing touches on the script soon, and hand it off to artist Eduardo Barreto.

"As far as when it gets put on the schedule, Eddie says he's going to find out that after the holidays."

Smith says the 48 page special will be something of a comic romp for the two amazing amazons.

"I haven't had this much fun writing since the more light-hearted stories for 'Guy Gardner: Warrior' at DC Comics a few years ago," he said. "If anyone has ever watched 'Xena' will really enjoy this. And I think the 'Wonder Woman' people will get a break and get to see Diana and Wonder Girl having a lot of fun.

"I just had a blast with it."

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO 'THE GEAR STATION?'

[Gear Station]Wondering where the fifth issue of Image Comics' "The Gear Station" is?

CBR's Augie De Blieck was wondering just that last week, so the Comic Wire touched base with "Gear Station" creator Dan Fraga to find out.

"'The Gear Station' #5 will be in stores Dec 13th and #6 will be in stores Jan 17th," Fraga told the Comic Wire on Friday. "We've been experimenting with some new 3D programs and have been finding new and faster ways to bring The Gear Station universe to our fans. I'm very excited for our next book which I'll be working on after GS #6. It's called 'Lightwing.' It revolves around one of The Gear Stations' standout characters, Darwin Lightwing. The story in Lightwing is one which means a great deal to my co-author Anthony Bozzi and me."

The release date for "Lightwing" has not yet been decided, Fraga said.

BRIDE OF THE COMIC BRIEF

Here's what's news (and press releases) in CBR's Comic Brief since the last edition of the Comic Wire:

  • Blasphemy with a spine! 'Battle Pope' gets collected

  • Ed Brubaker responds to 'Deadenders' cancellation

  • Al Rio, David Finch Work Their Magic on The Coven at Avatar

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