Final Milestone Reached


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Milestone Media burst on the scene 16 years ago this month and left abruptly four years after. Now, the original creators are back to wrap things up. 

The 1990s were a time of unprecedented expansion in comics. During this boom era, more new publishers and publishing imprints came into being than have come into being in any era since the Golden Age.

A number of these new companies and imprints developed around the creator. The most famous example was Image, created by Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, and others. But Dark Horse also had a creator friendly imprint called Legend, home to, well, legends such as Frank Miller, John Byrne and Mike Mignola, to name a few.

Milestone Media was created to serve the creator, but in a different way than either Legend or Image. It was established to celebrate and promote diversity in comics, both from a creative side and in the characters their books featured.

Founded by African-American comic creators Michael Davis,  Dwayne McDuffie, and Denis Cowan (with early help from Christopher Priest), and Derek T. Dingle, a writer and editor for Money magazine, the imprint entered into essentially a licensing agreement with DC Comics to publish their output.

The first titles were Hardware, a Tony Stark-like, African-American inventor who uses inventions to fight crime, Icon, a Superman-like character who landed in the Deep South of 1839 instead of the Kansas farmlands of 1939, Blood Syndicate, about a group of rival gang members who gain superpowers and join together to fight crime, and the imprint’s most successful character, the teenage, electricity-powered Static.

The imprint would go on to introduce characters of various ethnicities, including Asians, Hindus, and Arabs. The would also be daring with portraying social differences, such as Icon’s unwed teen mother sidekick, Rocket, and the lesbian members of Shadow Cabinet, Donner and Blitzen.

The company also employed a multi-cultural array of creators such as Humberto Ramos, Arvell Jones, MD Bright, and many others. Additionally, the imprint gave the first major comic book work to a number of well-known artists such as Ramos, J.H. Williams III, Jamal Igle and ChrisCross.

The 90s were an age of a comic book boom, but it was also an age of a comic book bust. Once the speculator market burned itself out, many companies and imprints went under as a result of the shrunken audience. Unfortunately, Milestone was one of them, and the imprint closed up shop in 1997, ending so abruptly that the storylines in many books did not have an opportunity to end.

While Milestone Media were out of the comic book game, their characters stayed alive. Static was adapted into a successful cartoon named Static Shock in 2000. The animated program ran for four years and is enjoying an extended life in reruns.

Recently, Milestone creative head honcho, Dwayne McDuffie renewed his ties with DC, and the Milestone characters have made their way back into the DC universe—Static in Terror Titans, Shadow Cabinet, Icon, and Hardware in Justice League of America, and Xombi in The Brave and the Bold. This gave hope for Milestone fans that the long unfinished storylines would be properly wrapped up.

These hopes are fulfilled this week as the two-issue Milestone Forever begins. The series will wrap up these stories and promises an “end of a universe and the birth of something new”.

Milestone is legendary for showcasing diversity in comics and played a part for the multi-cultural look of the comic world today. And, from the looks of it, the concepts and characters will be inspiring minority creators in the future as well.

Also out this week:

Ultimate Comics X #1:

There is one way that the Ultimate universe is not as good as the mainstream Marvel universe—its Wolverine was far easier to kill. The Ultimate Wolvie joined the choir invisible during Ultimatum, and it looks like he’s going to stay dead for a little while at least.

So, that young, blonde kid with the three, trademark claws on the cover of this issue is not Wolverine, right? If he’s not, then who is he? Well, the first chapter is called “His Father’s Son.” That might be a big hint. Of course, knowing Jeph Loeb, that could be a gigantic red herring. If you want to solve the mystery, then you’ll have to pick this one up.

Jeph Loeb (W), Art Adams (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

Aladdin: Legacy of the Lost #1:

When it comes to current comic book trends, adapting concepts in the public domain could give zombies a run for their money. Whether it be Golden Age comic characters, classic works of literature, or even fairy tales, companies are finding the perfect concepts to bring into comics—ones known by many people and also free to adapt.

Radical has made a name for itself through these kinds of adaptations. Its first two comics were Hercules and Caliber, Hollywood friendly reinterpretations of Greek and Roman mythology and Arthurian legend respectively. Now, the company is returning to the public domain to bring everyone’s favorite lamp-rubbing adventurer to comics this week. Robin Williams need not apply, because this will be slightly more intense than the Disney film of the 90s.

Ian Edginton (W), Patrick Reilly & Stjepan Sejic (A), Radical Publishing, $4.99. Three-Issue Miniseries.

Indomitable Iron Man:

You wouldn’t think that Iron Man would be a character that would fit in Marvel’s retro line of black and white magazines that the company has just recently started up. After all, he isn’t known for his martial arts prowess or being an urban avenger. But then again, you probably didn’t think of Marvel’s overwhelming desire to get the most Iron Man products into the market place before Iron Man 2 hits theaters in May,

The magazine follows the same format as the others of its ilk. You get four stories done by a bunch of the industry’s greatest creators—including Paul Cornell and Howard Chaykin, all illustrated in glorious black and white.  This one-shot acts as an intriguing jumping on point for new readers.

Various (W), Various (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. One-Shot.

Red Sonja: Wrath of the Gods #1:

Thor! Odin! Loki! The crossover that you’ve been waiting for! Before both character’s films come out, Marvel’s Norse---wait, what? It’s not Marvel’s Thor and his supporting cast? It’s just a version of the mythological characters? Oh. Nevermind.

Yes, the Marvel Thor might be the most famous comic version of the character, but the fact that he’s a deity from an ancient religion makes him public domain. You could have a version of Thor star in your own comic and not worry about Marvel/Disney’s lawyers knocking on your door. Well, so long as your Thor doesn’t look like their Thor. That’s why Red Sonja is facing off against some familiar named Asgardians in this miniseries.

Luke Lieberman & Ethan Ryker (W), Walter Geovani (A), Dynamite Entertainment, $3.99. Five-Issue Miniseries.

Winchester #1:

Any gun aficionado who was looking forward to this series thinking it was devoted to a brand of rifle, you’re going to be disappointed. Yes, it does deal with the same gun making Winchester family, and Winchester rifles are a part of it, but the real story is far more horrific.

Legend has it that the Winchester Mansion is haunted. It is haunted by the ghosts of anyone killed by a Winchester firearm. The only way Sarah Winchester could get any peace was to keep the mansion in a constant state of development. Construction on the house continued without stopping until Sarah’s death in 1922. 

This issue deals with the mystery behind the house as revealed by the disappearance of two mysterious explorers who tried to sneak onto the grounds. Are they being held captive? Or have they joined the Mansion’s other ghosts?

Dan Vado (W), Drew Rausch (A), Amaze Ink/Slave Labor Graphics, $3.95. One-Shot.

Demo Vol. 2 #1:

Fans were vocal in their glee when this series was announced and it’s easy to see why. The first volume was named 2004’s “Indie of the Year” by the notoriously indie-unfriendly Wizard and was nominated for two Eisner Awards. It established Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan as creators to be reckoned with and put its publisher AIT/Planet Lar on the map.

Well, the title is now at Vertigo, the imprint that publishes Wood’s DMZ and Northlanders, but the same quality remains. Each issue of the six-issue miniseries will be self-contained and tell the personal story of one interesting character. First up this time around is a woman haunted by dreams of a person falling from a great height and dying. She travels the world trying to locate the person and stop the accident before it happens.

Brian Wood (W), Becky Cloonan (A), DC/Vertigo Comics, $2.99. Six-Issue Miniseries.

Marvel Heartbreakers #1:

It might be safe to say that romance comics are one of the least popular genre on stands today. There is not a lot of love, pun intended, for that particular alternative to the superhero. It’s hard to believe that fifty years ago, it was one of the most popular genres around, with numerous titles from various publishers crowding the newsstand.

Marvel, in honor of Valentine’s Day, is giving romance comics another try. A few years ago, they did a tongue-in-cheek re-captioning of classic romance comics, followed by a series of one-shots in the romance genre. This year, they are giving us another one-shot with romantic themes. Will this rekindle the passion for the romance comics? Or will the genre be jilted once again?

Various (W), Various (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. One-Shot.


William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer and daughter Vanessa. He also is a comic reviewer for PopMatters, has written for Comic Foundry magazine and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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  • Andy Oliver

    Andy Oliver Feb 4, 2010 at 12:59pm

    The Milestone line was a wonderful imprint that didn't deserve to be lost in the '90s glut. I still think folding the characters into the world of New Earth was a mistake and would have much preferred to see them on their own Earth in the 52. Ah well.

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