A Milestone Return, Plus Super Stuff
(This Stripped column originally appeared in the December 25, 1997-January 7, 1998, Long Island Voice. Click on the artwork for a larger image.)
by Beth Hannan Rimmels
Well, folks, the new year is fast approaching, so I thought I’d spend the next couple of weeks letting you know what will be on comic book store shelves in 1998.
First up, I am extremely pleased to announce that Dwayne McDuffie will take over the writing chores for X-O Manowar beginning with issue #17, available in February. McDuffie, in addition to having written for Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, The Tick, Demon and co-founded the late, lamented Milestone Media. His work on Icon was brilliant and garnered three Eisner Award nominations. I still think Milestone’s closing is a crime and huge loss to the industry. I still say they had the best track record for quality of writing of any company I’ve seen.
Since Milestone folded, I’ve tried to find out what the various people involved moved onto, particularly McDuffie, but other than the odd story here and there, I hadn’t heard a peep. I definitely hope his tenure on X-O will help the Glen Cove-based Acclaim’s fortunes. Editor Evan Skolnick explained in the announcement that "Rather than do a knee-jerk revamp, Dwayne’s goal is to go back to basics, and fulfill the potential that was glimpsed in the first few issues of the new X-O Manowar series." Fulfilling potential is McDuffie’s strength, so I think this series will do well.
Over at DC, after keeping his promise to ban crossovers between all the Batman titles for a year, group editor Denny O’Neill inflicts "Cataclysm" on Gotham in the form of an earthquake. At the time he made the vow, it was more than a bit surprising. The "Contagion" and "Legacy" storylines that crossed into all seven Batman titles were successful and the fan feedback was largely positive, unlike the feedback to some other "buy every issue or you’re lost" crossovers. But O’Neill felt that fans grumbling about the cost required to keep up with these stories had merit, so he instituted a ban on stories that crossed into every Batman book and limited shorter crossovers to being between only two books finishing in the book that originated the story. It was a gutsy move yet clever in face of increasing reader apathy.
DC’s other symbol, Superman, is also set for some changes in 1998. Wanna bet he either goes back to his original powers or evolves into yet another incarnation? Didn’t think so. It is a sucker bet. You knew as well as I did that Superman wasn’t going to stay a blue energy being forever.
I find the constant Superman stunts depressing. The writers on his various books are talented. "The Death of Clark Kent" was a great idea and executed well, but taking place relatively soon after the death of Superman, the four Supermen, Superman’s rebirth and the question as to whether he was the real Superman, people get cynical. "The Fall of Metropolis," in which the finally exposed and dying Lex Luther decides to take Metropolis with him also made perfect sense, but again, a story crossing over into every issue once year burns fans — and their bank accounts — out.
Sure, if the plot’s spectacular enough there’s a blip in sales but few people who buy it out of nosiness or collector’s value stick with the book. Plus, some of the regular readers are lost due to disgust and cynicism. After things are restored in Superman’s segment of the DC universe, a crossover ban should be instituted there. Tell good stories consistently and try to promote them without making it sound like cure for cancer and readership will gradually increase. It just takes patience.
Anyway, officially DC won’t comment on Superman’s fate in ’98, but more than one little bird told me something’s brewing. Common sense — and history repeating itself — confirms it, so expect another "major" development.
Column © 1997-98 Long Island Voice. Artwork © 1998 Acclaim.