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Kevin and Walt Make a Comic

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I have been a longtime fan of Kevin Smith. I was a fan way before I knew he was a comic book fan like me. It was just slightly before his first movie came out on video.

I remember one of the workers in the video store I used to frequent handed me an advance screener copy of Clerks. “Try this, it’s really good,” she said.

I watched it and I fell in love. Smith’s brand of humor really spoke to me. It was ribald and risqué and spoke in pop culture references a geek like I could understand. This was a person my age making movies about people like me that were funny without being insulting.

After that I was hooked. I had to see each of his films when they came out in theaters. I bought them when they came out first on VHS, then I had to transfer the tapes over to DVD when that format became all the rage. I bought his books, his tie-in T-shirts, and watched the Clerks cartoon.

And I wasn’t alone in all this. Smith developed a legion of fans that followed him religiously. He might not have been setting box office records, but his loyal fanbase got the writer and director noticed.

One of the people who noticed was Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti. The creators had been hired by Marvel to revamp a number of their lower tier characters under the Marvel Knights imprint. Knowing Smith’s love of comics, the pair tapped him to do the revamp of Daredevil with them on art.

Daredevil was a rousing success and returned the character to prominence. Smith then went over to DC and did the same to Green Arrow. The character went from a bottom dwelling hero to sales success overnight.

But Smith’s success in comics soon came to an end as his day job came into play. His responsibilities as a film writer and director caused Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do to take three years to complete and Daredevil/Bullseye: Target to essentially be cancelled after only one issue came out.

Smith became the poster boy for two sore topics of comic fans—the Hollywood writer slumming in comics and the chronic lateness of some creators. Since one played a role in the other in Smith’s case, he became the target of even more criticism.

His lateness was such an issue that when DC announced tomorrow’s Batman: Cacophany at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con, it made a big show of the fact that the scripts for the first two issues were already written and in house. This only caused wags to notice the miniseries was set for three issues and that the third issue would probably be a year late.

It might be different this time around because instead of using an established artist, he is using one of his buddies. Walt Flanagan shares an interest in comic books and manages Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash in New Jersey. Smith has cast Flanagan in a number of his films, usually playing multiple characters. Flanagan will be doing the art for the miniseries, and his style appears to resemble that of comic legend Joe Kubert.

It is not known if Flanagan is a quick artist or a slow one, but the years of friendship he has with Smith is bound to speed up the creative process. One would assume that they share the same mindset on a lot of things, giving Flanagan an advantage when it comes to interpreting Smith’s ideas.

So, Smith’s return to comics might be a good one. But I really would want to see the Internet if any issue of Cacophany misses a ship date.

Also out this week:

Avengers Fairy Tales #4:

Speaking of late comic books, we come to this one. The tale of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes by way of the Brothers Grimm was supposed to come to a close in June. Now, five months later, the series finally gets its last issue. I’m sure there was a reason, but what took so long?

Anyway, if you were collecting this series, be on the look out for this issue. The story included will be a take on Wizard of Oz with your favorite Avengers in place of the beloved characters (Iron Man for the Tin Man, Beast for the Cowardly Lion, etc). And since it’s Jennifer Walters in the role of Dorothy, expect the Emerald City to take on a slightly different meaning.

C.B. Cebulski (W), Ricardo Tercio  (A), Marvel Comics, $2.99. Final Issue.

Detective Comics #850:

It’s been a bad couple of months for Batman. Not only has he gone pretty much insane over in his own book, but he’s also had a lot of difficulty here. Hush has returned and has started taking things. He has taken Catwoman’s heart—literally—and has taken Bruce Wayne’s face. Now, he’s going to take away all of Batman’s friends and allies—and there’s nothing the Caped Crusader can do to stop him.

There has been negative response from some fans over Hush, but I like him as a character. He, like the Joker, provides a mirror image bad guy for Bats to face. But it’s more focused on Bruce Wayne than Batman. Bruce Wayne gets the short shrift when it comes to some creators, so it is good that he gets one villain that takes him on.

  Paul Dini (W), Dustin Nguyen (A), DC Comics, $3.99. Four-Issue Miniseries.

Cleaners #1:

Crime is a big business. We pay cops to defend us against it, detectives to investigate it, lawyers to either defend or prosecute the criminals, and jailers to house them. But what about the cleaners? These are the men and women who go to crime scenes after the police are done with it and make the gruesome sight spic and span.

Their job is not easy or all that fun. But for a select group of cleaners in Los Angeles, their sanitation job just got way harder. Instead of just cleaning up blood and gore, they have to take down a dark and powerful supernatural force. They are not just trying to make the crime scene livable, but protect all life on Earth.

Mark Wheaton & Joshua Hale Fialkov (W), Rashan Ekedahl (A), Dark Horse Comics, $2.99. Four-Issue Miniseries.

Eternals Annual #1:

The Young Gods are looking for answers. Why are they here? For what purpose were they created?  What are they supposed to do with their lives? However, these questions should never be answered, because it could mean the end of humanity as we know it. Now, it’s up to the Eternals to stop them before it’s too late.

I am a big fan of the annual. Once a year you’d get an extra special story featuring your favorite characters. And a lot of times the companies would do something special for the occasion. However, I would prefer that the regular series go at least twelve issues before the annual comes out. Because otherwise, it seems like they are just trying to get more money from fans with no good reason.

Fred Van Lente (W), Pascal Alixe (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Annual.

Justice Society of America   Kingdom Come Special: Superman #1:

As if the “Thy Kingdom Come/One World, Under Gog” arc wasn’t long enough over in Justice Society of America, we are getting three very special one-shots this month. In theses trying financial times, how can you choose which one to get? Well, maybe this will help—Alex Ross does the writing AND the art on this one.

The Superman of Earth-22 has come to Earth-1 from his battle ravaged reality. And, during his time here, he’s seen this new Earth slowly turn into a mirror image of his own. He knows what fate befalls the world, and is willing to do anything to stop it. Unfortunately, one of the things he has to do is get through to Earth-1’s Superman.

Alex Ross (W/A), DC Comics, $3.99. One-Shot.

Black Terror #1:

The Black Terror has been one of the most enduring Nedor Comics characters to come out of the Golden Age. He has been published by Eclipse Comics, AC Comics, Wildstorm Comics and, as late as this year, in the pages of comics from both Image and Dynamite Entertainment. It is the latter which brings us this brand new ongoing series, a sure sign of the strength of the character.

Spinning off from Alex Ross’ Project: Superpowers, the first arc will bridge the gap between installments of that series. The Black Terror has returned to the living decades after he left it. The world is not what he once knew, and it makes him angry. And the present day is not going to like it when the Black Terror gets angry.

Alex Ross & Jim Krueger (W), Mike Lilly (A), Dynamite Entertainment, $3.50. Ongoing Series.

Blackbeard Legacy #0:

Blackbeard’s legacy, apparently, is his daughter Hanna. The girl has decided to go into her daddy’s business and has had a pretty good run of it. A sure sign of her success is the amount of bounties on her head. She did want to follow in her father’s footsteps, but not all the way to the gallows. Can she avoid sharing the same fate?

Bluewater’s Traci Bingham-inspired lady pirate returns, following a successful miniseries earlier this year. Will this be the last we see of Blackbeard’s daughter? Or will the popularity of all things pirates and Ms. Bingham’s loyal fan base be enough to keep this franchise going? Only time will tell.

Mike Maydak (W/A), Bluewater Comics, $3.99. One-Shot.

Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files Storm Front #1:

If you think being a wizard private eye was weird, try being a member of a vampire crime family. That’s what Harry Dresden, the only sorcerer/P.I. the Chicago P.D. are willing to deal with, is running up against. What was once just a double homicide might turn into a supernatural turf war—with Dresden caught in the middle.

Rumors abound that the controversial Dabel Brothers will be joining up with Del Rey and take the Stephen King license away from Marvel. If any of your King fans want to know how Dabel handles literary adaptations, you might want to pick this one up. It should give you a good idea how they portray the spooky and the supernatural. 

Jim Butcher & Mark Powers (W), Ardian Syaf (A), Dabel Brothers Productions, $3.99. Four-Issue Miniseries.

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William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY and is expecting his first child with his wife Jennifer. He also is the comic review editor for PopMatters 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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