By Todd Allen
Here’s a bit of a mystery. DC made a new book announcement today that had me confused in a couple of different ways. The announcement was for “JSA: The Liberty Files – The Whistling Skull.” First off, with Earth 2 being a big book for DC right now, I was surprised to see The Liberty Files return after an 8 year absence. (Not upset, I liked the first two installments of the Justice Society Elseworlds series… just surprised.) I also thought I’d heard of “Whistling Skull” before. It turns out I had and this was very different.
A quick Google found “The Further Adventures of the Whistling Skull” announced as a follow-up project to Ex Machina in April 2010 — 2.5 years ago:
With just two issues remaining in WildStorm’s multiple Eisner-winning series, “Ex Machina,” the DC Comics’ imprint was no doubt eager to find a new home for the title’s artist, Tony Harris (“Starman”). Mission accomplished as WildStorm announced Saturday at the Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo a new project co-created by Harris and writer B. Clay Moore (“Hawaiian Dick”), “The Further Adventures of the Whistling Skull.”
A pulp noir story set in wartime London in the 1940s, the series features the titular Whistling Skull and his sidekick, Brickfist cleaning up the filth and scum of the world’s seedy underbelly while seeking answers about their own pasts and what it means to not only be a super man but a super friend.
In fact, as recently as March, Harris was still talking about this project under the “Further Adventures” banner:
It was something we were going to do through Wildstorm and then they went away and my editor, Ben Abernathy, and Hank Kanalz championed the book, big time. As far as I know — I could be wrong — but I believe that we’re the only creator-owned coming out with the DC bullet on it.
With the context established, here’s the DC information. Is this still creator-owned? Is DC using the context of an old franchise to introduce The Whistling Skull to the audience-at-large and spin it off into its own title? Is this a creator-owned character mingling with corporate owned characters? I’m not sure, but this is an interesting turn of events.
This December, DC Comics will publish JSA: THE LIBERTY FILES – THE WHISTLING SKULL. From acclaimed writer B. Clay Moore (SUPERMAN CONFIDENTIAL, OUR FIGHTING FORCES) and artist Tony Harris (EX MACHINA, STARMAN), this new six-part miniseries is set in 1940s Europe. With the Nazi war machine on the move, crimes are still committed even in the smallest hamlets. From the world of the JSA: THE LIBERTY FILES, witness the birth of a new hero for the ages!
“Tony and I have been working on THE WHISTLING SKULL for a while, now, and it’s been an absolute labor of love,” Moore told THE SOURCE. “I think he’s doing the absolute best work of his career here, and there’s no one better to accentuate that than Dave McCaig on color. For readers looking for a new spin on the DC Universe, combined with brand new headlining characters, I think the book will be a treat, and it’s just the first chapter in a much larger story. This initial offering introduces readers to the legacy of the Whistling Skull in a wartime, pulp-infused setting, and should provide something fresh for readers to sink their teeth into.”
“This is a long haul, sweet baby that’s finally coming together,” continued Harris. “Clay and I have been developing THE WHISTLING SKULL for a few years now. Taking every precaution and the utmost care with every word and every line of ink to make sure we bring you something new, fresh and exciting. I could go on and on dropping catch phrases and bore you to death with ‘personal’ ‘important’ ‘kickass’ ‘bloobidy-blah-blab-blab.’ Not gonna happen here.
“What I will say is that a host of friends, contemporaries and scores of fans have shepherded this project carefully and steadily towards the waiting hands of countless devotees of mine and Clay’s creative efforts. It’s something I will NEVER forget as we approach the release of JSA: LIBERTY FILES – THE WHISTLING SKULL. And DC Comics’ willingness to marry and ‘seat’ SKULL firmly in the JSA: LIBERTY FILES universe that I was a part of creating in years past, in effect resurrecting that franchise and allowing us to breathe NEW life into it, is a testament to DC Comics’ dedication to producing exciting, new properties that have the potential to go on for many years to come. I feel like I did when James Robinson and I were preparing to release STARMAN into the world. I can barely sit still.”
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.