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Men Without Fear Write On

(This  Stripped column originally appeared in the March 12-18, 1998 Long Island Voice. Click on the artwork for a larger image.)

by Beth Hannan Rimmels


"You have to face that which you fear most...and endure. And in that endurance the answers will come to you. There are, unfortunately, no guarantees. You may die. It depends truly on which you fear more living...or dying...or yourself."

— Swamp-Thing in Aquaman #33 

Stick around long enough and news will happen in bunches, fellow travelers. Here's the scoop on some big-name creators moving into and out of major titles for Marvel and DC, including well-known comic book devotee/movie director Kevin Smith and local hero Peter David.

Smith — whose films include Clerks, Chasing Amy and Mallrats — will be penning at least six issues of Daredevil under Marvel's "exclusive publishing agreement" with Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti, cofounders of Event Comics and Ashe. Quesada and Palmiotti also will produce three other Marvel titles: Black Panther, Inhumans and The Punisher, which Marvel will continue to market and distribute. Quesada and Palmiotti will report to Bob Harras, Marvel's editor in chief..

I know what you're thinking: Isn't this remarkably similar to the deal in which Rob Liefield and Jim Lee were handed control of Captain America, The Avengers, The Fantastic Four and Iron Man to "reinvent" them, leading to the "Heroes Reborn" debacle? Yes and no.

First off, the titles will stay strictly within the Marvel Universe, not a "pocket" universe. That's good. And second, the characters aren't starting over at ground zero. Quesada and Palmiotti are supposed to assemble creative teams that put new life into the characters, not kill and reassemble them like a four-color version of Frankenstein's monster.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take a set of characters and give them a fresh and unique spin without changing the formula that Stan Lee gave the world," Quesada says. "We will take that classic formula of superheroes with human frailties and bring it into the new millennium."

"Without changing the formula" is the operative phrase, folks. Until they actually land in my hands, I can't be sure, but I'm much more optimistic about this deal than I was the last time. Liefield's comments about his plans for "Heroes" in 1996 smacked of overblown ego and reminded of someone you've probably never heard of: Carol Sobieski, who wrote the screenplay for Annie. In an interview before its release, she commented that people would remember her version, not the Broadway musical. She was right, because Annie the movie was a memorably colossal flop.

Quesada and Palmiotti are still assembling their creative teams, but the news is very encouraging. Smith's taking on Daredevil was a touch of a surprise — I've always associated his tastes with non-superhero fare such as Matt Wagner's Mage and Grendel. But I have faith that his love of the medium — and presumably The Man Without Fear — will steer him true.

Also on board is Christopher Priest (Quantum & Woody, Concrete Jungle) to handle Black Panther. Panther should be a success considering Priest's writing skill; plus it will have realistic dialogue, not the sort that has plagued African-American heroes like Panther, Luke Cage or Black Falcon in the past. The deal also includes Priest's notorious perfectionist streak — he's known for driving people crazy. But hey, do you want it fast or do you want it right?

Smith will also take on Green Arrow for DC late this year. Current scribe Chuck Dixon has been overloaded, which handed editor Darren Vincenzo and excuse to offer it to Smith. Smith is in pre-production on his next film, Dogma, which gives the GA crew time to wrap up some storylines before he comes on board.

Also at DC: Peter David is leaving Aquaman (damn!). David does not want to hash out the details for fans, choosing to avoid the acrimony inspired by his departure from Marvel's X-Factor. This Time, he's saying his decision to leave was his alone and was merely due to "creative differences." Unfortunately, though the main plotlines he created for Aquaman are done, dangling threads remain. I'll miss David's run on the book. He and Arthur were a good pair. By the way, David will continue to pen Supergirl for DC, so don't believe those rumors.


Column 1998 Long Island Voice. Artwork 1998 Marvel Comics.