Overview

Legend, Legion Reunited.

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Thousands of people have the dream of becoming a comic book writer. They read books, take classes, and try to make connections. They fill out “idea submission forms” and send proposal after proposal off to companies, hoping to get accepted. Few ever are.

This makes the story of Jim Shooter’s entry into comics even more exceptional. Back in 1966, the 13-year old Shooter, a fan of the Legion of Super-Heroes, sent story ideas for the series into editor Mort Weisinger. His family was experiencing financial difficulties and he hoped to contribute by getting paid for his ideas. Weisinger enjoyed his story so much that he gave the teenager a job writing the series.   

Shooter wrote Legion of Super-Heroes stories, then appearing in Adventure Comics, for three years before “retiring” to pursue opportunities outside of comics.

If his time in comics ended there, Jim Shooter would still be a legendary name in comics. Never before and never since has someone so young had so much success in the field. It might have been easier to break into comics back in those days, but that doesn’t lessen Shooter’s accomplishments in the least.

The writer returned to comics—and to the Legion—in 1975. He wrote the team’s adventures in Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes until 1977, when he jumped over to Marvel Comics.

It was at Marvel where the second act of the Shooter legend would begin. He quickly rose through the ranks to become Editor-In-Chief of the company in 1978. He molded Marvel into the dominant brand in the industry. Under his watch, many of the legendary eras in Marvel titles occurred, including the Claremont/Byrne era on Uncanny X-Men, Byrne’s run on Fantastic Four, Frank Miller’s on Daredevil, and Walt Simonson’s span on Thor.

Shooter also expanded Marvel’s licensed properties, opening the door for series’ based on Rom, the Micronauts, G.I. Joe and Transformers. He also established one of the first royalty systems in comics and created the Epic line, which set the example for creator-owned titles at a major publisher.

It was also during this time when Shooter became a controversial name in comics. Rumors abounded that he ruled Marvel with an iron hand. Supposedly, his abrasive and combative personality caused bad feelings with his bosses and some creators that worked for him. He was eventually terminated as Editor-in-Chief in 1987.

Shooter went on to be instrumental in the creation of Valiant Comics, one of the more successful comic companies in the 1990’s. Differences between the other owners and himself caused Shooter to part ways with the company after a few years.

After leaving Valiant, Shooter tried to create several other companies, notably Defiant Comics and Broadway Comics. Neither company had the success of Valiant, due in part to the comics climate at the time and financial upheavals behind the scenes. He briefly returned to Valiant, now called Acclaim, in 2000 to write the Unity 2000 crossover, a series that was never finished due to financial difficulties.

Now Jim Shooter comes full circle as writer of the Legion of Super-Heroes, the property he started his comics career with over 40 years ago. Over those four decades, several generations of comics fans have come and gone. Each generation viewed Jim Shooter in a different way, from a different frame of reference. Now, the writer returns home to create a new frame of reference for a new generation, proving that his story isn’t over just yet.

Also out this week:

Amazing Spider-Man #545:

So, will he do it?

Mephisto presented Peter and Mary Jane Parker with a Faustian dilemma. He would bring the dying Aunt May back to health and vigor, only it would cost the love and marriage Peter shares with Mary Jane. This issue promises to provide us with the answer, and set the stage for the changes Brand New Day will bring.

It appears that the deal will be struck judging on the clues (Aunt May being spry in Marvel’s FCBD offering, hints in the future solicitations, EIC Joe Quesada’s abject hatred of the Peter/Mary Jane union). But how will Marvel get around the fact that the company’s most popular and kid-friendly character strikes a deal with the Devil? Maybe by having Mary Jane agree to the bargain instead? We’ll see in this issue.

  J. Michael Straczynski (W), Joe Quesada (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99.   Ongoing Series.

JLA Classified #49:

Superman has Lois Lane. Batman has Alfred. Flash has Linda Park. Every hero in the JLA has a loved one. They all have someone who cares for them and is worried when they throw themselves into deadly and dangerous situations. Who can their loved ones turn to for support in these occasions? The answer is: each other.

I think this title serves a valuable purpose. Being an anthology, the overall quality of the series is hit or miss. But it does provide an outlet for creators to have their hand at writing DC’s number one superteam and a home to some unique stories that might not fit into the regular series.   This issue is a perfect example of this.

Andrew Kreisburg (W), Paulo Siqueira (A), DC Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Pax Romana #1:

Jonathan Hickman made a name for himself with last year’s Nightly News series. His inventive artwork and unique storytelling on the series made an impact with fans and critics. His next project became eagerly anticipated. The time for anticipation is over, because his sophomore effort arrives tomorrow.

A military force from the future travels back in time to ancient Rome. Their mission is to change the past so they can save their future. It seems like an easy assignment. But in a time of betrayal, greed, deceit and murder, nothing is ever as easy as it seems. Will their technological advancements give them the edge? Or will they simply become a footnote in a text book?

Jonathan Hickman (W/A), Image Comics, $3.50. Four-Issue Minieries.

Conan # 47:

Conan has had his fair share of allies in his 75 years in existance. Many a man (and woman) had aided him in his battles and chronicled his struggles. This week, a new name is added to the list of that latter. The series gets a new artist by the name of Tomás Giorello.

Giorello is no stranger to Dark Horse. His art has graced the covers and interior for many of the company’s Star Wars titles. And he’s no stranger to fantasy/sword and sorcery either. He has done illustrations for Dungeons and Dragons and other Wizards of the Coast role-playing games. So our favorite Cimmerian is in good hands as he starts his new arc, which adapts The Hand of Nergal.

Timothy Truman (W), TomásGiorello (A), Dark Horse Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Invincible Presents Atom Eve #1:

It takes a lot for a comic book series to become a franchise. The back issue bins are littered with books that were supposed to be the “next big thing” but failed. It takes great writing, interesting characters, and a lot of luck and perseverance for a comic to become more than just a comic.

This week, Invincible takes a step towards immortality and officially becomes a franchise. Popular supporting character Atom Eve gets her own spin-off miniseries. We find out more about her, including how she got her powers, in a tale that will have implications on its parent book. 

Spin-offs, a movie in the works, crossovers with other companies, all these add up to Invincible becoming a lasting franchise for Robert Kirkman and Image. What else does the future hold?

Benito Cereno (W), Nate Bellegaede (A), Image Comics, $2.99. Two-Issue Miniseries.

Midnight Sun:

It’s 1928. An Italian airship, on an exploratory mission to North Pole, mysteriously disappears. The stranded crew faces uncertainty—the frozen wasteland has become their new home, but for how long?

Their battle for survival quickly becomes world news. A by-the-book, down-on-his-luck American journalist hops on a Russian rescue ship to cover the story close up. What will happen when he finds these men? Will their valiant struggle change the reporter’s point of view? Or will the journalist’s cynical expectations be justified?

This graphic novel is a historical fiction based on real world events. The Airship Italia, piloted by Captain Umberto Nobile, is the airship in question and it really did crash in May of 1928. Eisner-nominated creator Ben Towle takes what is known about the tragedy, applies his own unique vision, and creates a work of art from it.  

Ben Towle (W/A), Amaze Ink/Slave Labor Graphics, $14.95. Original Graphic Novel.  

Fantastic Four: ¡Isla De La Muerte! One-Shot:

One of the best ways to break into comics, so they say, is to start small and work your way up. Basically, start a small comic book or webcomic to prove that you know the ropes on creating comics and to make a name for yourself. That makes it much easier to write for DC or Marvel.

Proof that this maxim is true comes this week with this one-shot. Tom Beland is the creator if the critically acclaimed True Story Swear To God, currently published by Image. His success with that series led him for a shot at the Marvel flagship family. And the story takes place in a country readers of TSSTG know Beland is familiar with—Puerto Rico.

Tom Beland (W), Juan Doe (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. One-Shot.

###

William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer. He also writes periodic comic reviews for PopMatters, is a weekly contributor to Film Buff Online and writes title descriptions for Human Computing’s Comicbase collection management software. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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