A KC Column by KC Carlson
AH! DOES B&V! (Gee, I hope nobody takes that the wrong way…)
At some point in late 1988 while working for Westfield (yes, way back then), promotional material for a new series from Comico (hands up, everybody who remembers that way-cool publisher) ended up on my desk. I was immediately taken with the artwork — very slick, yet a little raw. Obviously a “new” artist, I thought, but his figurework and storytelling was spot on, and even then I could tell he had a real skill for drawing very attractive ladies.
That series was the late, lamented The Maze Agency — a tale of two detectives (Jennifer Mays and Gabriel Webb) who solve interesting and unusual mysteries. It was written by Mike W. Barr (who obviously loved the mystery genre) and drawn, at least initially, by comic book newcomer Adam Hughes. I called Comico administrative director Bob Schreck to ask about this new book, and specifically this new artist. Next thing I knew, I had Adam’s phone number, and he had agreed to do an exclusive Maze Agency cover for the Westfield Newsletter (which Roger is going to insert somewhere around here). This cover apparently brought a good deal of attention to the series and its young artist.
VERY long story short, Adam thanks me for this every time I see him (maybe just every other time these days…). Even when he was one of the first freelancers I met in the DC Comics offices when I started working there in 1989, he couldn’t stop talking about it. (Adam was a frequent visitor in the DC offices those days — he would come frequently to draw Justice League pages in Andy Helfer and Kevin Dooley’s office).
A few years later (when I was actually editing books), I realized that as much as I wanted it to happen, Legionnaires artist Chris Sprouse wasn’t yet fast enough to keep up with a monthly book at that time. I had an Adam Hughes fill-in issue (commissioned by the previous editor) that was going to be slotted in as Legionnaires #7, so I came up with the really screwy idea that Adam could do regular back-up stories for Legionnaires. (Surely, Chris could do 15 pages a month and Adam could do the seven-page back-up… (and they could switch off on covers) and I would have the most beautifully drawn book at DC during that time!) And it actually worked!… For about 4 or 5 issues, and then I think both of them wanted to move on to other assignments. I wasn’t the kind of editor who stood in the way of really talented young guys who wanted to advance their obviously going-somewhere careers, and I knew that it would be rare to keep any artist on the LSH books due to having so many characters in each issue. Guys like John Forte, Curt Swan, and Keith Giffen are a rare breed…
ANYWAY… it’s almost 30 years later (sheesh!), and Adam’s latest project is currently being solicited, and I’m pretty sure that he’s excited about it. (I know I am!) Just days after my birthday, the first Adam Hughes written and drawn issue of Archie Comics’ Betty & Veronica will be on sale in July. (You Westfield subscribers should be pre-ordering it now!) There’s a great mini-interview with Adam in the latest Previews, which also showcases the issue’s 25 covers!!! (Only one of which is by AH!. But one is also blank, so if you’re lucky at cons this summer, you might be able to sweet-talk Adam into a “quick” sketch —although you better not sell it or I WILL TRACK YOU DOWN AND YOU WILL KNOW WHY.)
Anyway, this will be a very cool series, and I am extremely recommending that you check it out. Adam Hughes… Pretty girls… Ummm… duh!
One thing I don’t think is so cool about Betty & Veronica #1 is the 25 variant covers. Kind of excessive, Archie? As an Archie collector, I’d like to get all the covers, but at four-bucks-a-pop, that adds up pretty quick. (Like about $100. Sheesh!) I’d recommend just picking a couple, if you can choose — there are a lot of great artists doing them, including Cliff Chiang, Colleen Coover, Chip Zdarsky, Erica Henderson, Francesco Francavilla, Alitha Martinez, Ryan Sook, Stephanie Buscema, Andy Price, Chrissie Zullo, and lots more! (And besides, if you wait for the inevitable trade, all the covers will probably be in there!)
MLJ: WHAT IS IT?
Also, if you like the old-school Archie super-hero characters, TwoMorrows has the perfect reference book for you. The MLJ Companion is a 288-page softcover collection of articles and essays about the various generations of the Mighty Crusaders characters, including The Shield, Black Hood, Steel Sterling, Hangman, The Fly, Mr. Justice, and many others. And it’s not just the classic Archie Comics version of the characters being overviewed — the book also covers the campy Mighty Comics line of the 60s, the Red Circle line, the Impact imprint at DC Comics, as well as the current Archie revivals — including The Fox. Plus: Learn what MLJ actually stands for! (I’m guessing My Long-Johns!) The book is written by Rik Offenberger and Paul Castiglia, who are both very familiar with the Archie characters, as they were both previously employed by Archie Comics. Cool book for big fans — Don’t miss it!
While we’re talking about TwoMorrows, don’t miss Back Issue #91’s “All-Jerk Issue!” starring Guy Gardner, J. Jonah Jameson, Reggie Mantle, Bronze Age Namor, Obnoxio the Clown, and DC’s biggest blowhards. Jeez, that issue must be 1,000 pages long… (Nope, only 80! It doesn’t talk about any real-life comics people, so that’s how editor Michael Eury can keep the page count down…!)
WONDER WOMAN IS OLD, BATMAN IS RETRO, AND SCOOBY DOO TEAM-UP IS NOT CANCELLED
Wonder Woman’s 75th Anniversary is coming up soon, and DC is celebrating with a number of special projects for the Amazon Warrior. Wonder Woman: The True Amazon is an all-new graphic novel written and fully painted by Eisner Award-winning Jill Thompson about the early life of Wonder Woman — much of it based on the iconic character’s original conception. When young Diana has the fawning attention of a nation, she grows spoiled. But a series of tragic events take their toll, and Diana must learn how to grow up, take responsibility and seize her destiny. 128 pages. On sale in September.
Also solicited this month: Wonder Woman: A Celebration of 75 Years is a new collection of Wonder Woman’s best stories in DC’s time-tested anthology hardcover format. Expect work by William Moulton Marston, H.G. Peter, Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru, Mike Sekowsky, Brian Azzarello, Mike Deodato, Phil Jimenez, Gail Simone, Greg Rucka, Cliff Chiang, and others. 400 pages. On sale in September … Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Omnibus Volume 1 HC collects All-Star Comics #8 (her first appearance), Sensation Comics #1-24, Wonder Woman #1-7, and stories from Comic Cavalcade #1-4. All by William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter. New cover by Darwyn Cooke. 768 pages. On sale in October … On a cheaper note, the paperback Wonder Woman by George Perez Volume 1 reprints Wonder Woman #1-14 by George Perez, Greg Potter, Len Wein, and Bruce Paterson from 1987. (Note: this material has been collected before.)
Also from DC: Batman ’66 Meets Steed and Mrs. Peel #1 (of 6): The hip TV crossover we never saw in the 1960s — Batman meets The Avengers! (No, not that super team from across town — that’s why they can’t call it that!) It’s the famous avenging duo of John Steed and Mrs. (Emma) Peel! This looks like a lot of fun, and the creators (writer Ian Edgintion, artist Matthew Dow Smith, and cover artist Michael Allred) are filling the series with great “time-sensitive” situations (like Mrs. Peel vs. Catwoman: Think about what both ladies generally wear…). I’m also very curious who Miss Michaela Gough will turn out to be… I hope at least one issue will be titled “Steed bops The Bat, Emma says That’s that.” First issue is in July.
And finally, let’s cheer the return of Scooby Doo Team-Up — with #17, co-starring Hawkman & Hawkgirl! Talk about high-flying adventure!
WHAT’S HAPPENING AT MARVEL THIS MONTH?
Well, there’s Civil War II. And some more Civil War II. And later on I think there will be even more Civil War II… And crossovers. Did I mention Civil War II crossovers. Boy, I hope everybody likes that movie that’s coming out soon. What was its name again?… I think Captain America is in it… Man, what is that called…? It sucks being pre-senile.
Sorry, I’m just sad because there aren’t going to be many Tom King The Vision issues left. (He signed a DC exclusive to write Batman stuff.) I’m so sad, I’m super snarky today. OOOH!… Super Snarky! Bitten by a radioactive Snarky… um… no.
I am kind of excited that there is a Ms. Marvel Omnibus listed this month. (On sale in November.) I think it’s so cool that a new(-ish) character like Kamala Khan can become so popular she gets a new (and huge) collection of all her stories (even the ones in weird places like S.H.I.E.L.D. (2014) #2, Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #7-8, and All New Marvel NOW! Point One #1 — basically everything up to the 2015 Secret Wars event). It’s great, it’s cool, and it’s perfectly timed to be a superb Christmas gift for any lover of good comics. (Plus, if everybody ordered just one, it would really drive Santa and those irritating reindeer crazy this year!)
If you love your collections to have everything — and you love the female characters — you should also check out the new Mockingbird Classic: Bobbi Morse, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. TPB. 440 pages of some of the most obscure stories in the Marvel Universe, but most all of worthy of reading (or re-reading). Bobbi Morse has a much more interesting life in the comics than she has on the S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show. Although if she ever gets her long-rumored own series that might change! Get in on the ground floor on her long, unpredictable career as a Marvel Comics action hero — right here, right now!
TROLLIN’ TROLLIN’ TROLLIN’…
Neil Gaiman’s Troll Bridge is not only a terrible pun, it’s also a new 64-page hardcover graphic novel by Neil and illustrated by Colleen Doran (a zillion cool things but here let’s say Sandman), starring a character named Young Jack who is named that because he is… tall? Oh, actually he’s young. And afraid. Afraid of ghosts and ghouls and trolls. Any more than that, and I’ll give too much away. And I don’t want to do that because I don’t want Neil calling me. That’s never fun… Hey, it’s published by Dark Horse in September and looks pretty scary, kids!
NARRATOR: “THE CITY OF TOWNSVILLE!”
The Powerpuff Girls return to comics courtesy of IDW this month with all-new adventures by Haley Mancini, Jake Goldman, and Derek Charm. But where is Phillip Moy, who did such a great job on the DC version of the comics series several years back? (It’s also ROM Cover Month at IDW in July, so if you dig shiny alien robots, it’s your lucky month! They’re being collected — in 3-D!!! Yowie!)
I’m also ordering the Funko Pop! Dr. Strange figure this month to join the ranks of my computer security agents (CSA). Current members are Funko Pop! Frankenstein Jr. and Spi-Dog.
KC CARLSON SEZ: First person who can tell me what now obscure 1970s-80s New Wave band I’m obliquely referencing in the title of this column AND can explain why I can’t find any of their CDs anymore wins my eternal gratitude (and maybe your name in print).
WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you. You know, they say that history never repeats, but I’m not so sure… You know, they say that history never repeats, but I’m not so sure… You know, they say that history never repeats, but I’m not so sure… You know, they say that history never repeats, but I’m not so sure… You know, they say that history never repeats, but I’m not so sure…