Open Your Mouth: Issue #38

Thu, March 4th, 2004 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
J. Torres, Columnist

MARCH AHEAD

The "Looking Forward" column that kicked off OYM for 2004 went over quite well so I decided to give a similar column another try. This week we're looking ahead at some comic books coming out in March and beyond.

I got to correspond with Steve Gerber for this column, people! How cool is that? So, I promise you some words from the maestro himself, some preview art from upcoming books, a behind the scenes look or two, and what I like to refer to as the death-defying upside down flying split kick crotch shot.

Wait for it.

DOING "HARD TIME"

In stores this week is the second issue of "Hard Time" from DC's new Focus line. Writer Steve Gerber describes the series as "the story of Ethan Harrow, a fifteen-year-old who inadvertently takes part in a high school massacre and, as a result, is sentenced to fifty years in prison." While incarcerated Ethan discovers that he possesses a strange power that will dramatically change his time in prison.

Mr. Gerber tells me that "Hard Time" should appeal to both fans of superhero comics and those who prefer "Vertigo-type material." He says, "It's an unusual mix of the two. For example, Brian Hurtt's artwork is contemporary and somewhat understated, and yet his storytelling is very mainstream and direct. It's like a super-hero book without all the bodybuilding poses."

As with the other books in the new Focus line, "Hard Time" centers on an individual with super powers living in a realistic environment or put in a situation where the fantasy element is present but the costumes and typical comic book capers are not. "This is what might happen to a person with super-powers if he had to live in our world," explains Gerber.

"Hard Time" #1 was what the writer referred to as a prologue to the series. "It dealt with the shooting and its immediate aftermath -- its emotional effect on Ethan and his schoolmates, its transformation into fodder for the media, and its legal ramifications." In the second issue, Ethan arrives at the state penitentiary and there we meet some new characters who will be prominent throughout the series. "Along with Ethan, we'll get a first taste of prison life," continues Gerber. "We'll begin to get a feel for the inmate subculture, which is its own kind of 'parallel universe' to the outside world. And we'll find out whether Ethan is really cut out to survive in this hell on earth."

"Hard Time" #2 is in stores now. Thanks to Brian Hurtt for providing us with the artwork above. More from Mr. Hurtt next week!

COVERING "DISTRICT X"

As mentioned here a couple of weeks ago, my pal Steve McNiven is the cover artist of the upcoming "District X" series from the Marvel Knights line. Steve sent me these penciled versions of his first two covers from the new series:

Editor Mike Marts tells me that "District X" will be "different enough in theme and purpose from the existing x-titles" in that it's a cop buddy story with a "Training Day"/"NYPD Blue" flavor. Bringing you these stories about cops on the mutant beat are writer David Hine ("Strange Embrace") and artist David Yardin ("Aria"). You can taste test series starring fan-favorite mutant Bishop in "X-Men Unlimited" #2.

But back to McNiven. Here's a look at more of his cover work on upcoming issues of "4." As you can see, these ones got the green light:

And here's an OYM exclusive look at bounced cover ideas straight out of Steve's sketchbook:


No, that last image is NOT the promised death-defying upside down flying split kick crotch shot.

Wait for it.

MR. BIG STUFF

Speaking of "X-Men Unlimited" #2, that's the issue featuring writer Robert Kirkman's Jubilee story illustrated by my "Sidekicks" partner in crime Takeshi Miyazawa. Here's a look at the other irons Kirkman's got in the fire:

"Walking Dead" #5 is due in stores March 10th (with art by Tony Moore) and here are some pages to whet your appetite for some zombie action:

And here's a sneak peak at issue #10 of "Invincible" - the best superhero comic book you're not reading - due in stores March 24th (with art by Ryan Ottley):

Kirkman's tells me he's got other "big stuff coming up" but that it's "too early to gab about." When I asked him whether it was Image or Marvel related, he said that it was "not for Image." Anyone else here hoping it involves Dazzler becoming the new herald of Galactus?

THE VOTES ARE IN

Speaking of big stuff… look, a giant!


Todd Nauck's "WildGuard: Casting Call" is "American Idol" but with superheroes instead of singers competing for spots on a team instead of recording contracts.

"The whole voting thing went smoothly," my "Teen Titans Go" collaborator tells me. "I think the readers really enjoyed having a hand in the creation of this team." Todd hopes fans will be as happy as he is with who made the team. "From what I've read in posts and e-mail, people will have at least one or two characters they'll like if not all five."

Although the current "WildGuard" miniseries wraps with #6, I know Todd wants to do more with concept. "I'm planning on a one shot. Then another mini later down the line and maybe a 'Casting Call' trade paperback. I like this book too much to not try and do more!"

So, how did the voting turn out? Who gets cut? Who makes the cut? You can find out when the eagerly anticipated "results issue" hits stands on March 10th!

EVER WONDER WHAT HAPPENED TO PAT BRODERICK?

Well, wonder no more…

"Micronauts" (Volume 2) #1 written by Dan Jolley, illustrated by Pat Broderick, and published by Devil's Due is in stores March 31st.

CAUTION: DEATH-DEFYING UPSIDE DOWN FLYING SPLIT KICK CROTCH SHOT AHEAD

Pierre-Andre Dery of the studio Grafiksismik contacted me shortly after I mentioned their work on "Vampi" Vicious Circle" in the last sneak peeks column. He wanted to share the news that he and the gang are doing something for "Metal Hurlant"…

"Sweetheart" is written by written by Jodorowsky, penciled by Dub, inked by Dery, and colored by Niko Henrichon.

Pierre also provided me with some lovely Vampi behind shots, er, behind the scenes art by Dub:

As well as these preview pages from "Vampi: Vicious Circle" #1:

And finally, ladies and gentlemen, as promised, the upside death-defying upside down flying split kick crotch shot:

Was it worth the wait? Oh, I know it was. Right now, you look like the guy in that last panel.

"Vampi: Vicious Circle" #1 written by B. Clay Moore with art by Gabriel Rearte and the aforementioned Grafiksismik team hits stores in April.

ONE LAST PLUG

Lastly, I've got some of my own stuff going on but allow me to direct you to my newly redesigned website (thank you, James Lucas Jones) for more info and sneak peek images:

www.jtorresonline.com

What? It's my column, you know.

Related Links:


DC Focus
Grafiksismik
Image Comics
WildGuard

Next week: Brian Hurtt helps me out with a little experiment.

Meanwhile, drop by the OYM forum and let me know what you thought of this week's column.

Thank you for your attention.

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