As Heidi reported earlier, Wisconsin Judge Barbara B. Crabb ruled on Thursday that Dark Ages Spawn, Domina and Tiffany, characters from Todd McFarlane’s Spawn comics, are derivatives of Medieval Spawn and Angela, two characters created by Neil Gaiman for Spawn #9 in 1992.
Personally, I’m fascinated with Crabb’s use of Spawn continuity to justify her decision:
“According to the rules of the Spawn universe, only one Hellspawn could be on Earth at the same time and the [original] Al Simmons Hellspawn was already around. […] Much as defendant tries to distinguish the two knight Hellspawn, he never explains why, of all the universe of possible Hellspawn incarnations, he introduced two knights from the same century. Not only does this break the Hellspawn ‘rule’ that Malebolgia never returns a Hellspawns [sic] to Earth more than once every 400 years (or possibly every 100 years, as suggested in Spawn, No. 9, exh. #1, at 4), it suggests that what defendant really wanted to do was exploit the possibilities of the knight introduced in issue no. 9.”
I want Rob Liefeld and Marvel in a Wisconsin court now, just to get Crabb’s take on how X-Man and Agent X are, or are not, derivatives of Cable and Deadpool.
At his Web site, Kurt Busiek elaborates on the genesis of the in-the-works Astro City film. In particular, he explains his initial reluctance to have one made:
“[…] I had a little patter worked up, where I pointed out that what’s important about Astro City are the characters, the relationships, the emotional connections of the story. The big superhero action and explosions and such were important too, but they were the context, while the humanity of the characters was the real meat of the story. So you’d be telling a story that’s all about relationships and emotion, but you still have to pay for all those special effects. “Basically,” I’d say, “in Hollywood terms it’s a $200 million chick flick. No one’s going to make one of those.” And then Titanic came out and I had to stop saying that.”
If Busiek has his way and the film gets made and released, which always seems like a long shot until it’s in the past, it looks like it could end up being what a lot of people have been waiting for: a good film with a mature take on the notion of superheroes that doesn’t collapse under its own pretense.
At the Los Angeles Times’ Hero Complex blog, Frank Miller talks about his upcoming book-length comic Holy Terror, in which a costumed adventurer goes after Al Qaeda. A former working title of the book was Holy Terror, Batman!, but Miller says he’s decided to leave Batman out of it, after all:
“I had a talk with [then-DC publisher] Paul Levitz and I said, ‘Look, this isn’t your Batman. I pushed Batman as far as he can go and after a while he stops being Batman. My guy carries a couple of guns and is up against an existential threat. He’s not just up against a goofy villain. Ignoring an enemy that’s committed to our annihilation is kind of silly, It just seems that chasing the Riddler around seems silly compared to what’s going on out there. I’ve taken Batman as far as he can go.”
The “existential threat” Miller refers to, again, is Al Qaeda.
Now, personally, I’m rather disappointed. The prospect of seeing a character like Batman grapple with a real-life threat like Al Qaeda was what made me look forward to the project—not because I’m a big Batman fan (I’m probably not), but precisely because of the seemingly irreconcilable clash of sensibilities outlined by Miller in the quote above. I was curious what a bold, self-confident, accomplished storyteller like Miller was going to make of that.
Sure, judging from The Dark Knight Strikes Again and All Star Batman, it was going to be utterly and hopelessly mad and preposterous. But Miller being Miller, it was going to be mad and preposterous in a good way, and it was also going to be more than that.
Without Batman in there, I’m still interested, but it seems like Miller is surrendering. The resulting book will probably be a little bit less ridiculous, less bold and less memorable as a result. In other words, Frank Miller is the last person on the planet I want to worry how far Batman can go. Instead, I want the character dragged there and beyond, kicking and screaming if need be.
That’s where the fun is, right?
It seems WildStorm has found its new niche in the market.
In addition to publishing Alan Moore comics without Alan Moore (Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom) and Grant Morrison comics without Grant Morrison (The Authority: The Lost Year), on the horizon now are Warren Ellis comics without Warren Ellis.
They come in the shape of various one-shot prequels to Ellis’s 2003 miniseries Red with artist Cully Hamner, which is soon to come out as a film. The original miniseries was three issues. The number of new “prequel” comics? Five.
To be fair, one of the new books is written and drawn by Hamner himself, but let’s be honest: It doesn’t look like WildStorm is even trying anymore, does it?
Out now: The Thin Black Line: Perspectives on Vince Colletta, a new book on the extremely prolific, extremely controversial late comics artist and frequent inker of Jack Kirby’s work, by Robert L. Bryant Jr.
Recently, Colletta’s letter to Marvel in the wake of longtime editor-in-chief Jim Shooter’s ouster in 1987 resurfaced again. That missive suggests, if nothing else, that (a) Colletta was a rather outspoken fellow who didn’t mince words, even when it was sure to burn bridges, and (b) he was also a supporter of Jim Shooter, another controversial figure.
Based on that alone, it’s no surprise that Colletta still tends to polarize when his name comes up. Simply put, a guy who writes—and mails—letters like that one doesn’t just have friends in the world. Add the ongoing debate over the merits of his actual work—or lack thereof, depending on who you as—and Colletta is easily one of the most intriguing personalities in North American comics.