Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Writer: McDuffie (alt. Slott, alt. Pak)
Pencils: Pelletier (an upcoming arc by Deodato Jr., alt. Epting, alt. Pelletier)
Covers: McGuinness (alt. Turner, alt. Land)
First 2 issues part of 4-part crossover with She-Hulk (6 part with sim Black Panther): The original Four, She-Hulk, Black Panther, Storm follow the trail of newly returned Doom on a chase through time, space and alternate dimensions to prevent him from creating what Reed assumes is a Doomsday Device, but is actually free life-saving tech for third world countries. T’Challa and Storm leave the FF on bad terms, frustrated by Reed’s almost compulsive distrust of Doom. She-Hulk leaves for L.A. (see below) with a desire to start fresh, and Johnny indicates he may follow her there later, since things have gotten grim on the East Coast.
Stage set for a darker 4-issue arc (love to have Deodato Jr. or Epting for pencils, but Pelletier can handle it): We’ll split our time between the FF having a difficult time making amends with one another, and Doom courting T’Challa, Magneto and Namor with this goal: to defeat the overzealous, registered American Initiative and make the entire world a paradise, calling themselves The Defenders and paving the way for… oops, don’t have approval from Sean to say that yet.
Marketing’s relatively straight forward for the crossover, usual channels, Newsarama interview, and FF will likely be boosted by marketing for…
Writer: Slott (alt. McDuffie, longshot Heinberg, longershot Simone)
Pencils: Amanda Conner (alt. Steven Cummings, alt. Land, alt. Burchett, longshot alt. Cho, longestshotofall alt. Byrne)
2-issue crossover with FF in which Jen, in addition to chasing Doom and fighting dinosaurs, really examines her life and realizes she’s out of control and needs the stability of a FF-style family atmosphere. So her book is re-titled something along the lines of:
FANTASTIC FOUR: L.A.
(But not that specifically; it’s been vetoed by the EIC; we’ll have specifics tomorrow.)
I will assure She-Hulk fans this is still HER book, and with Slott staying on (hopefully), it’ll be a new chapter of the same story, not another Exiles Concept-Bastardization.
Who will compose this West Coast branch? Will it even be a branch? Will they be Fantastic, or number Four? Possible members include Sharon Ventura, Crystal, Nova (the chick who dated Silver Surfer) and Lyja. Eventually Johnny Storm moves to L.A. to join the new team and play the acting game.
The team will be women (JS excepted), and we’ll aggressively target female readers. The book will read like a comedic Grey’s Anatomy, except instead of practicing medicine, our gals lay the smackdown on folk like the Mole Man’s California cousins.
We’ll employ a more aggressive marketing campaign, including Newsarama interviews, die-cut She-Hulk bookmark CSN inserts, a fake ‘Cosmo Quiz,’ in which you take a personality test to determine which team you belong on, the overall benefit hopefully being an increased awareness and prominence of the FF in the Marvel Universe.
I just posted my notes to Tom's blog; it's your turn! Once we get rolling, I expect this'll be a smoother process. Lots to do these first days! :)
Phil -- I think Pat asked someone to post his notes on Tom's blog; can you do that, please?
My crossover idea -- It'll take too long to explain tonight. Let's focus on getting some creative teams and general tones/themes set and I'll get to my proposal later. I'll try to post something when I have a chance. (Tomorrow?)
Especially as we solidify creative teams and establish (potentially) new directions, I want you all to be proactive in not just putting out good books, but also in making sure that people know about them!
FYI, I'm going to post something to that effect on Tom's blog as well.
We start with Emma and Scott’s wedding. All X-Men and ex-X-Men are present. If Astonishing and the adjectiveless X-Men book are still around, those characters will be away on a mission. Before the two are wed, a huge energy portal swallows almost everyone present. Trevor Fitzroy has taken them away to another time. Why? Where? That will be one of the two main subplots.
Nightcrawler gets saved by Belasco (the other subplot), other mutants were too much for Fitzroy’s portal (he has to kill somebody for every person he wants to transport and underestimated the number of guests? Something like that). Those are the last X-Men left – until the missing members reappear in the timestream somewhere down the road. If readers like this direction, later. If not, sooner.
With both time travel and Belasco in the X-Men’s future, Robert Weinberg seems to be the best writer for this run.
Before another publisher snatches Adrian Alphona away, it’s time to put him on a big Marvel title. He’s the next big thing, so let him be that at Marvel. Let him be that on Uncanny X-Men.
Marko Djurdjevic is my first choice for the cover art.
I offered Ben Morse a Wizard-exclusive First Look at the new lineup and costumes (pending your approval) , with a couple of cryptic words by the writer for each team member. This, along with the Summers/Frost wedding should lure in a couple of readers. And then we hook them with Fitzroy and Belasco.
For people who want classic superhero Wolverine, there's New Avengers. For the scruffy mutant, there's Uncanny X-Men. For his dirty past, there's Wolverine: Origins. So what to do with Wolverine? Put him out of costume.
After losing so many friends in Uncanny X-Men, we play Logan as a Charles Bukowski kind of character. Drinking alone in a bar. (Is the no-smoking rule still active?)
Add a few Femmes Fatales (Madame Hydra? Yukio?), a damsel in distress or two (Amiko?) and more bad guys than you can shake your claws at, and you’ve got the perfect Noir book set in a superhero world. That being said, I’d like to have Ed Brubaker as the writer. With his track record, I can’t think of a writer better suited for this direction. And he just ended his run on Uncanny X-Men, so this assignment would replace that.
Ed has a great chemistry with Mike Perkins, so he should be the artist. For the first four or five months, we’ll have done-in-one standalone stories with a subplot setting up a larger arc. They set the mood, but readers can always join the ride. Then, the larger storyline sends Logan around the world (Japan, Madripoor, Genosha…).
Dave Johnson is my first choice for the cover art.Could we have in-house ads for this on other books (X-Factor, Criminal, New Avengers) so readers will be reminded of the new approach? Oh, and a Newsarama interview would be nice once the creative team is approved/signed.
First, thanks again to everyone for all convening on the blog here and shooting out lots of great ideas already! We're rockin and rollin and we're not even 24 hours into the sim!
First, let's assume that, generally speaking, all other existing books will be carrying on more or less as they are in their current state. That's going to more directly affect Pat and
Pat -- Welcome aboard! Glad you didn't get shut out there! First, your creative team ideas are fine, but I'd strongly suggest having backups at the ready. King seems a long shot and I don't know Byrne's current opinion of Marvel. Also, JRSr might well just want to rest in retirement, I don't know. So backup plans on these guys I think are a must.
Also, start thinking of general story directions/themes to work with. Obviously, we're not going to be writing the stories here, but I think we'll at least need to set the pace for the books.
Phil -- She-Hulk's shaping up -- I like the creative team ideas -- but I'm still not sold on reason for the "team" forming around Jen. She's got no real relationship with Sharon and only tangental relations with Crystal. I don't know that we want to directly ape the "FF" name/idea too much, either. The family/friends thing on the West Coast is cool, but directly renaming it "FF LA" and specifically having four members is a bit much. Why not 3 members? Or 5? Or 2? I think we should be looking at this as more of a "She-Hulk and Friends" type of thing than "FF LA". Who's in Jen's circle of friends, and who would be willing to head across country with her?
On the FF, I think it's important to keep Johnny with the team for at least the short term. Remember that we've got a big movie coming out soon and I think it's important to keep the team members fairly recognizable for any possible spillover we get from it. (That's not to say Johnny can't visit over in She-Hulk's book, BTW!) Creative team ideas are good.
With your Defenders crossover idea, it's a good, well-thought out spin on a classic team. But (you knew that was coming!) I'd like to propose something a little more radical story-wise. More on that in a bit...
Mike -- Creative teams are good for both books. (My bad for the art confusion earlier!) I like where you're going with Wolverine story wise. Uncanny, I think, is a good idea, but that's going to be really tricky. First, you're going to have to account for mutants in other X-books. Second, why does Fitzroy leave those mutants? Does he simply have trouble locating them? If so, why? Lots of story issues to deal with there.
All -- I'll post something to Tom's blog shortly about current assignments. I think you can all post your thoughts on creative teams, and maybe a few short notes about general directions that I've okayed so far. (If I haven't okayed part yet, see what you can do to write your post around those points!) We'll hold off on noting anything about crossover stuff until we've something a little more solid on that.
I leave it here and abide by whatever folks choose to do in terms of posting.
Just know that I won't have computer access until after 3 p.m. on Wednesday, so won't be able to post from my computer until then.
If anyone wants to post the words below as mine, fire away. If not, I'll do so after 3 p.m. Wed. Caio!
Lo, There Shall Come New Spider-Creators!
With all due respect to the current teams on the Spider-books, I'm bringing in some new and old blood to stir up the Spiderverse for the next year.
Webhead is coming off record-setting box office weekends. I've been trolling message boards to see responses from folks who opine on the internet. It’s not everyone, but it is a vocal bunch not to be discounted.I'm hearing how fans don't like when the foundations of a character are meddled with. (Flint Marko plugging Ben Parker? Ouch!)So at the risk of an internet tar and feathering, how about a -shudder- back to basics approach with Spidey?Here we go: Let’s make Amazing Spider-Man Amazing again. Fans want to see John Romita Jr. back on Webhead, so let's give the people what they want. And how's this for a twofer? I'm asking his big daddy to supply variant covers for one year!So who would pen the tale to complement this titanic two? You sitting?Stephen King.You read that right. I'm making a pitch to the Maine Man to carry over the humongous success of his Dark Tower series and apply it to Mainstream Marvel. We know King has helped bring tons of new readers into the local comic stores in search of Dark Tower. I'm asking the Master of the Macabre for a one-year commitment to Marvel's flagship character. Everyone's got a Spider-Man story they're just waiting to tell. Let's hear SK's version!The cross pollination from King bringing new readers into our Marvel Universe is limitless. Obviously, I see a major media blitz coming with this, so let's get the folks in marketing buckled in. Comics sites, fanzines, giveaways, and of course - ugh - variant covers.Over in Spectacular, I'm bringing back a couple of familiar names, one of whom hasn't been seen around these parts in some time, and will surely ignite a fair amount of controversy.On Spectacular, I'm going for David Michelinie writing, with John Byrne returning to the House of Ideas on art. Love him/hate him, you can't deny Byrne's ability to draw. This pair could really tell some great tales of Spidey and his supporting cast, which of course, includes his cadre of villains.First up for David, I've asked for the consummate story of a villain he himself helped create: Venom. He made it to the big screen before the likes of the Lizard, Electro, and the Vulture. He's got wheels. Any kid glomming Venom via the movie is looking for Eddie Brock in the regular titles. David, you've got a year to get Eddie and his symbiote up close and personal again.
Oh, like Romita Sr. on Amazing covers, I'm shooting for another biggie for Spectacular, who also had a hand in Venom's debut. Still sitting? Good. I've placed a call to Todd McFarlane and asked him for a one-year commitment to covers. You all loved his USM 100 variant, right? Think 12 more.
We should probably make our official posts on Tom's blog around the same time. For safety, I think we should do it sometime late tonight rather than early tomorrow morning (it would be bad if none of us missed our posts, wouldn't it?)
How do you guys feel about allowing Sean to cobble together one long post, or cobbling one together for him since he's externally busy? Letting him state his basic overview, saying a few words to introduce each title and express his goals for them and then posting our 250 word plans for our books. I would love it if we could really present a unified front on this, as that might prevent unpleasant shakeups later on. That's also fewer posts for the Marvel boards to potentially screw up (though four concise posts have a certain charm to them too, don't they?).
If we do separate posts, does everyone agree that Sean should post first, if not daily, then at least this first round? I know you're busy Sean, but we're all trying to make sure you're happy with everything before we put it up on Tom's blog. The last thing we want to do is waste turns having Sean shoot us down as well.
To be retitled: Fantastic Four L.A.
(alt. Fantastic Four West, alt. She-Hulk and the Fantastic Four West, alt. Fantastic Four: Hollywood.)
Written by Dan Slott (alt. Dwayne McDuffie, longshot alt. Allan Heinberg or Gail Simone)
Pencils by Amanda Conner (alt. Steven Cummings, longshot alt. Frank Cho)
After all of the chaos (literal and emotional) in her life of late, Jen is relieved to team up with the FF on a wild, dimension-hopping adventure. The experience leads She-Hulk to decide that what's been missing from her life is a familial atmosphere, like with the Fantastic Four, and she opts to start her life (and practice) over back in California! And Johnny Storm, who himself is ready for a change and hopes for a career in the movies, heads out to LALA land with her.
Rather than working for S.H.I.E.L.D. or the Champions, Jen and Johnny decide that in order to exercise their superheroic duties, they should start their own chapter of the Fantastic Four Family out in L.A. And who better to join them than former members Crystal (looking to move past the drama of being an Inhuman) and Sharon Ventura (whose transformation has altered considerably since her last appearance, and I could really use an artist's help to demonstrate what I mean), who's now restarting her wrestling career under the moniker Lady Marvelous.
This is a radical overhaul of the book, but it's necessary, because the book's sales don't justify its continued publication. However, this is still She-Hulk's book, and we'll maintain the same level of wackiness that's been present in Dan Slott's run, as well as reinstating the legal aspects that have been missing. We'll also see Johnny Storm cast as an extra, Sharon Ventura having to wrestle vicious ninja cheerleaders and Crystal learning the horrors of working as a barista. Goals for this book include attracting a female audience; hopefully the vibe of this title will become a maudlin-free version of Grey's Anatomy, except with more punching. The name change will occur after a two-part crossover with the FF, which should boost sales and interest, and I propose an add campaign mimicking the stereotypical Cosmo Quizzes, asking "Just How Fantastic Are You" with a series of stupid personality questions that will lead you to be described as a West or an Original.
With all due respect to the current teams on the Spider-books, I'm looking to bring in some new - and old - blood to stir things up in the Spiderverse for the next year. (Or more if I can work my magic on some of them.)
Old Webhead is coming off a pair of record-setting weekends at the box office, and I've been trolling some of the messages boards out there to see kinda response it got from the folks who care enough to take the time to opine on the internet. Yeah, yeah, I know that's not everyone, but it is a vocal bunch, so don't discount them.
One of the things I'm hearing is how fans - while they like a good movie done well - don't like it when the basic foundations of a character are meddled with. (Flint Marko plugging Ben Parker? Ouch!) More than 40 years later, the movies are marking box office gold by paying homage to the originals, and the heritage that's gone before.
So at the risk of an internet tar and feathering, how about we take a look at a -shudder- back to basics approach with Spidey? Good stories, great art, the kinda books that make you actually look forward to that Wednesday release of the next issue?
So here we go: Amazing Spider-Man. Let's make it Amazing again. I've heard lots of fans want to see John Romita Jr. making his return to the Webhead, so let's give the people what they want. And how's this for a two-fer? I'm asking his big daddy to supply the covers for one year! Arguably, one of the most identifiable Spider-artists ever, I can't wait to see 12 issues of Spider-goodness with JR Sr on the exterior, and JR Jr on the interiors.
So who would pen the tale to complement this titanic two? You sitting down?
You read that right. I'm making a pitch to the Maine Man to carry over the humongous success of his Dark Tower series and apply it to our Mainstream Marvels. Don't dismiss this idea as silly. Look, we know King has helped bring tons upon tons of new readers into the local comic stores in search of his Dark Tower series. I'm asking Master of the Macabre for a one-year commitment to Marvel's flagship character. We know everyone's got a Spider-Man story inside them that they're just waiting to tell. Let's hear SK's version!
The cross pollination from King bringing new readers into our little Marvel Universe is limitless. Obviously, I see a major media blitz coming along with this, so let's get the folks in marketing buckled in. Comics sites, fanzines, posters, and of course - ugh - variant covers. Let's talk about this some more.
Admit it, that would be Amazing.
Over in Spectacular, I'm looking at bringing back a couple of familiar names, one of whom hasn't been seen around these parts in some time, and will surely ignite a fair amount of controversy.
On Spectacular, I'm going for David Michelinie on writing duties, with John Byrne making his return to the House of Ideas on interior art. Love him or hate him, you can't deny Byrne's ability to bring some magic to the printed page. Let's let David handle the writing chores, with Byrne on pencils, and we could really tell some great tales of Spidey and his supporting cast, which of course, includes his Spectacular and Amazing cadre of villains.
First up for David, I've asked him to give me the consummate story concerning one of the villains he himself helped create in the first place: Venom. Look, the bad guy made it to the big screen before the likes of the Lizard, Kraven, Electro, and the Vulture. He's got wheels. Of course, any kid glomming his first glimpse at Venom via the movie is looking for Eddie Brock in the regular titles. I say we give it to him.
David, you've got a year to get Eddie and his symbiote up close and personal again. Let's see how you get us there.
Oh, and like Romita Sr. on covers over on Amazing, I'm shooting for another biggie for the Spectacular covers. Again, someone else who had a big hand in Venom's first forays into all things Marvel. You're still sitting, right? Good. I've placed a call to Titanic Todd McFarlane and asked him for a one-year commitment to Spider-covers. You know you all loved his variant on Ultimate Spider-Man 100, right? Think 12 more of those.
Obviously the success of both of these titles is predicated on smart packaging, strong advertisting and maximizing our new market saturation.
I'll get to everything ASAP, but don't be offended if I respond to one post but not another.
Geez, first day on the job and I'm already getting to know what Quesada;s day must be like! :)
To that end...
I think that at least conveys the attitude I'm trying to describe for the crossover.
This brings up another possibility that we have this round of the MES, since we're running this blog. If there are any artists out there who would like to give us visual representations of our pitches in order to sell Sean (or possibly Tom) on our directions, we'd love to have your help.
I'm not asking for pros providing ready-for-print materials, just better covers (or character and costume designs, maybe? hmm...) than what I posted here, done in probably half the time if you know what you're doing.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to pitch in, and I'll let you know which projects we editors wouldn't mind some promo work for. This could be a helpful addition to the solicitations we'll periodically have to put up.
It’s a walk on a tight rope. Even after House of M, there are too many mutants. New readers will drop the book the minute they hear about nearly 200 mutants living at the institute. But we can’t get permanently rid of them (through another Mutant Massacre) or the existing readers will jump ship.
So how to get them out of the picture? Time travel. There already is a mutant with the power of time travel, Trevor Fitzroy. He finds out that the X-Men will take away his powers in 2008. So at the day of Scott’s and Emma’s wedding, Fitzroy appears and teleports them all to another moment in time. A moment after 2008. Which moment? Readers will have to read the book to find out.
However, a few of the mutants present survive. Nightcrawler gets saved by Belasco (which creates a debt Belasco will be sure to cash in later), others were in the N’Garai dimension or otherwise out of the picture. Emma disappears. Scott doesn’t. Kitty disappears. Colossus doesn’t. The surviving mutants band together to fight Fitzroy. But Belasco is starting to pull Nightcrawler’s strings. Will he betray the team? Before the other members reappear?
With both time travel and demons in the X-Men’s future, Robert Weinberg seems to be the writer best suited for this run.
As an artist, I can’t believe that there still hasn’t been an announcement as to what Adrian Alphona’s next ongoing title will be. Before DC, Wildstorm or Image snatch him away, it’s time to put him on a big Marvel title. He’s the next big thing, so let him be that at Marvel. Let him be that on Uncanny X-Men. Just imagine what he could do with Belasco’s Limbo.
Marko Djurdjevic is my first choice for the cover art, since I think that it fits Robert Weinberg's writing style.
As for promotion, I wonder if Wizard would publish another X-Men special (side effect: This would cast the spotlight on Wolverine as well) that would exclusively reveal the new lineup. Ben? What do you think? Is this justified?
Sounds like fun!
It's all about diversity. For people who want classic superhero Wolverine, there's New Avengers. For the scruffy mutant, there's Uncanny X-Men (more on that later). For the "shady past" guy, there's Wolverine: Origins. So what to do with Wolverine? Put him out of costume.
I mean, here we already have the ultimate loner, almost a Charles Bukowski kind of character. He lost more friends and lovers than others ever have in their whole life. Add a few Femmes Fatales (Madame Hydra? Yukio?), a damsel in distress or two (Amiko?) and more bad guys than you can shake your claws at, and you’ve got the perfect Noir book set in a superhero world. That being said, I’d like to have Ed Brubaker as the writer. With Scene of a Crime, Sleeper and Criminal under his belt, I can’t think of a writer better suited for this direction. And he just ended his run on Uncanny X-Men, so there should be a free slot in his schedule.
As for the art, Ed has already proven that he has a great chemistry with Mike Perkins, so I would like to have him as the artist unless he can’t leave Captain America, I guess that's up to the Editor-in-Chief. For the first three or four months, I’d keep the stories short, preferrably done-in-one like Paul Dini’s Detective Comics. After a few jumping-on points in a row so readers don’t have to be there from day one to enjoy the book, there’d be a larger storyline that sends Logan around the world (Japan, Madripoor, Genosha…).
Dave Johnson is my first choice for the cover art.
As for promotion, both the character and the writer come with an inbuilt fanbase. Could we have inhouse ads for this on other books (X-Factor, Criminal, New Avengers) so readers will find out about the new approach? Oh, and a Newsarama interview would be nice once the creative team is signed.
I read on Tom's blog that Dwayne McDuffie's been waiting a couple decades to have the reins of this book, and I wouldn't want to take him off; he really gets it. And I'm loving Pelletier's style. I will take a cue from Mike's pitch and suggest Ed McGuinness as the cover artist, if he's available.
With your permission, O Editor in Chief, I'd like to build upon my Defenders pitch in this book regardless of whether or not you mandate a linewide crossover (which I still think would be a good idea as represented by an emoticon smiley face with a big smile and dollar signs for eyes... and I think he has a pimp cane with a diamond handle, too).
That means establishing various FF-related characters (Doom, Namor, Black Panther, Blackbolt etc.) as a unified group standing against American Initiative hegemony, and also dealing with a Sue, Reed and Namor triangle. Hopefully this would lead to the cataclysmic crossover series I described, but I could tone back the universal nature of it and have it be contained merely in this book and FFWest.
I was also thinking that perhaps Johnny Storm might move to L.A. and join Shulkie's team (where she's working as a lawyer again btw) and thusly try and capitalize and the movie-star lifestyle (and if the other members of that team were Lyja and Medusa, it would just be a bunch of ex-FF ex-GFs and that has the potential for hilarity and maybe even incentive for girls to check it out, kind of a lighter, Marvelized Birds of Prey). But I should really get back to the FF.
At the beginning of my run, Sue and Reed would come back and Black Panther and Storm would return to Wakanda. This leaves Sue, Reed, Ben and an opening for an additional character. Again, I'd love your input here, but I was thinking about having it be an Initiative Mandated lamebrain who doesn't really go well with the FF (Reed said okay as a favor to Tony, who doesn't get that the FF's a family, not a team). Maybe one of the newbies from the Initiative. Alternately, I'd be okay with letting Dwayne McDuffie build upon his most recent story (not that I'm supposed to do that) and let Gravity be a temporary member. Again, I could really use your knowledge of this universe.
As Mike pointed out when listing potential problems with my pitch, this would shift a little of the focus in this book off the four and onto other characters, including their enemy, but I think it would be the set up for a very interesting story, as well as an examination of where the somewhat old school Fantastic Four fits in the new world. To that end, since I don't know how long he's planning on doing Thunderbolts with Ellis, I might want to bring Deodato Jr. in for the arc leading up to my Defenders stuff (he's definitely my top pick for that title if it happens). Bear in mind, I'm 100% happy to keep Pelletier on since he's got a great style for the FF, but Deodato might bring a darker, more realistic look that could really suit the story I'm describing.
I await your comments, O Sean, the Great and Terrible.
If this gets greenlighted, I'd need to contact Robert Weinberg and Chris Batista. I'm thinking of using Marko Djurdjevic as a cover artist, so I need to check his schedule as well.
If that pitch doesn't pass your desk, Sean, I'll have to think of an alternative.
As for Wolverine...
When I think of Wolverine, I think of Madripoor, which in turn makes me think of a Noir setting (ironically not necessarily Madripoor, New York would work just as well as long as he doesn't wear s costume too much, there's Uncanny for that). With Ed Brubaker off Uncanny X-Men, this might be up his alley, with Scene of a Crime, Sleeper and Criminal under his belt. So he's my top choice for Wolverine. If it doesn't work out with Ed, I'm thinking of Rian Johnson, writer/director of Brick. Is he interested in comics at all? Would he work for the money we pay him? He's not a great name in Hollywood (yet), so he shouldn't demand as much as, say, the Coen Brothers would. And then there's the possibility of David Lapham.
Several artists float to the top of my head. Doug Mahnke (Lobo/Mask and Lobo/Hitman featured a tough fighter (rhymes with Bobo) that doesn't pull his punches, isn't afraid to get dirty etc) is one, but I'm not sure if he can do Noir.
Leinil Yu went in the direction I want during his Wolverine stint, especially Not Dead Yet. But he's been on the book before, and nostalgia is death. Besides, I'm not sure if he would leave New Avengers, so I'll move him way down the list.
I think I'll ask Tom if I can get Mike Perkins away from Captain America. I think he'd work well with Brubaker. ;)
Is Tony Harris available for cover art?
So, She-Hulk's got Dan Slott and Rick Burchett.
I think that I am physically and pathologically incapble of removing Dan Slott from this title, so complete is his grasp on the character. Sure, I understand and agree with Mike's description of how the title could benefit its sales from putting Metlzer on it and morphing it into a Law & Order type series, but I don't think Tom would say Meltzer would do it.
I'm a little less hesitant to pull Rick Burchett; he's got a unique, cartoony look that suits this title well but may put some people off. Dang it. I'll start thinking of people to replace him, as much as it pains me to do so. Amanda Conner rings a somewhat interesting bell, but she may be DC exclusive...
As for the title's direction...
I'll be frank. This book is the main reason I feel like we need a huge crossover. She-Hulk's an extremely interesting and well-handled character, and Dan's been slowly delving into her psyche and exploring why she chooses to stay She-Hulk all the time and why she's so disinterested in her life at the law firm or having a normal relationship and that's all well and good for those of us who already love the book, but there's going to have to be some kind of crossover event (I'm open to ideas from the other guys if you've got She-Hulk/Spidey or She-Hulk/Wolvie thoughts in your heads) in order to boost her sales and get Dan's fabulous work out in front of as many people as possible. The caveat is they did that with She-Hulk during Civil War and while it helped sell a few more copies, it didn't blow the lid off anything.
Shoot. Tell you what, Sean, I'll wait for your approval before making this my official position, but I'd really like to stay the course on this book, tying it into whatever more line-wide stories I can to give Shulkie a more prominent place in the Marvelverse, and hope that it makes modest progress. I understand you're the EIC and you've got goals you have to reach, but I don't think this is the book that's going to cover the most ground. And to a certain extent I'd almost rather you cancelled this title and we launched a new ongoing or miniseries rather than possibly (and it's a big possibly) sell a few extra copies with a foolish change in direction.
Which leads me to marketing...
As UPN said of Veronica Mars a couple seasons ago, "Look, this show's not great in the ratings, but the product we're being provided with is exactly what we want. It's our job to get more people watching." To that end, in addition to shamelessly sticking She-Hulk into every title I can (Final Issue of Irredeemable Ant-Man: Eric O'Grady watches She-Hulk take a shower and she squashes him), I'd like to see if we've got the budget for some shameless She-Hulk promotional material (book marks die cut to her curvaceous figure, saying "She-Hulk likes a man who reads" etc.). Of course we probably don't for a character that's so unpopular. I'd love to feature her in a commerical for soda or cars or insurance or something, she's certainly a great visual, but again I doubt that would fly. The main thing I'm trying to get at here is that I want to raise people's awareness of the character, in the hopes that maybe they'll try the book.
I'm sure you were hoping for a bigger move on my part here. As you said, this title requires a delicate hand (and perhaps a slower burn). I'd also like to consider perhaps bringing aboard a couple of supporting players who themselves have big followings but haven't been seen in their own titles in a while (and, Sean, if you've got any suggestions for that, it would be awesome). To that end (again, I could use your input here) I might even consider having She-Hulk form a Fantastic Four West in Los Angeles with She-Thing, Lyjaa (did I spell that at all right?) and some of the other notable former members to tie in with FF mania.
With a little time passed, I definitely want to move this in a FFWest direction, renaming the book but not renumbering (unless that's stupid because the #1s would sell a lot). I feel like this could be a natural progression for She-Hulk, as she starts over in a new place with a new team trying to start her life over. And I really like Amanda Conner on this. So if it's okay with you, Sean, that's what I'd like to pitch to Tom and see if imaginary Dan Slott would be game for it.
Oh, and do you have suggestions for other former FFers to fill out the ranks?
I want to group lines under one editor, so that they can ensure that A) the characters don't have complete transformations from one book to the next but also B) that the tone/theme of each book is unique. Amazing and Spectacular, for example, should NOT read like the same book
Mike -- I want to put you on X-Men and Wolverine. You seem to have the best handle on the X-line (not knowing Patrick's fortes) and these should at least retain their current numbers.
Phil -- I want you on She-Hulk and FF. She-Hulk especially needs to be handled carefully, so I want someone here who knows who/what/where she is.
Pat -- I want you on the two Spidey books. Mainly because I have an idea of where I wanted Mike and Phil already. :)
Quick clarification on my earlier note about creators, too. I'm not adverse to name creators, BTW. Just pointing out that there is other talent out there and could (potentially) help out on your budgets. If you have to pay a boatload to keep Stracynski on Amazing, for example, maybe you could offset that a bit by putting a Brock Rizy or a Les McClaine on art duties.
I'm not adverse to crossovers, I'll also note, but I haven't yet had a chance to read your Defenders thing, Phil.
Uncanny X-Men: Ed Brubaker, Salvador Larocca.
Wolverine: Jeph Loeb, Simone Bianchi.
Amazing Spider-Man: Joe Straczynski, Ron Garney (both about to leave the book indendent of our simulation).
Spectacular Spider-Man: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Lee Weeks.
Fantastic Four: Dwayne McDuffie, Paul Pelletier.
She-Hulk: Dan Slott, Rick Burchett.
Judging from last August's simulation, this means that those talented individuals have holes in their schedule. Meaning they should pretty much be free for grabs. So if we want to use Salvador Larocca on She-Hulk or Jeph Loeb on Uncanny X-Men, it should be within the realm of possibility.
Since he hasn't handed us titles yet, my mind is cutting loose trying to come up with concepts, but I don't know which of them I'll get to implement. I can only guess that you two feel the same right now. By pitching for all of the six books, Sean will have something he can base his decision on.
Plus, we can offer fans of the simulation a look behind the scenes at what might have been.
Secondly, Patrick got the job. Welcome aboard. Hope you survive the experience, to borrow an expression.
" Your goal over the course of the next two weeks is to increase your sales, put out crowd-pleasing, well-produced comic books, meet your financial obligations to the company and get the books out on time."
I guess this has been obvious from the getgo. But how to approach this?
First of all, we have to divide the books. So far, we have six titles, with two possible ways to cut the pizza. As you all can see, we have three pairs of related books. Uncanny X-Men and (longtime member) Wolverine, two Spider-Man books and Fantastic Four and (ex-member) She-Hulk. I think the most logical approach (and I don't want to do your job for you, Sean, I'm only trying to suggest things) would be to give the X-books to one editor, the Spider-books to another one and the two remaining books to the remaining editor who'd get to decide if She-Hulk should have any ties to the FF. It would make sense to use the synergy of editing several connected books. Everyone of us could choose to create their own little two-book-crossover. Or not.
The second approach is to look at the sales.
UNCANNY X-MEN - Sales 100,000
WOLVERINE - Sales 100,000
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN - Sales 80,000
SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN - Sales 55,000
FANTASTIC FOUR - Sales 55,000
SHE-HULK - Sales 30,000
By combining the two Spider-books, we land at 135k issues. One of the X-books and She-Hulk gets a combined print run of 130k. The problem here is that FF and the other X-book would start at an unfair 155k. I wouldn't have a problem with the 130 or the 155 group, but I think it should be noted that there is no way to let everyone start at the same numbers.
Sure, we could split the Spider-Man books (there's still Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man outside of our jurisdiction), but that would only lead to headaches. This game is complicated enough as it is, we don't have to create additional problems.
If nobody else complains, I'd love to edit the Fantastic Four book, along with either She-Hulk, Uncanny X-Men or Wolverine.
I wonder what the release date for our first issues is. Is it still in time for the June release date for Rise of the Silver Surfer? It's definitely too late to ride on the coattails of Spider-Man 3, and the other books won't have their (in case of the X-men next) movies out in 2007.
The bottom line of this is that we're shooting to increase sales by 20%. In the 2 weeks we've got, I figure we've got mainly two approaches/attacks that we can work with more or less simulatenously:
1) good stories -- obviously this is going to be somewhat nebulous since we're not actually creating the comics, but I think that should still be a goal. Let's try to get good talent on books that are appropriate for them. Side point A -- That's GOOD talent, not necessarily NAME talent. Don't confine yourselves to whoever's on Wizard's top 10 lists. I'll throw out some more specific ideas later, but take a look beyond the typical Marvel and DC realm. See what's being done over at Dark Horse, Viper, Oni, etc.
2) good marketing -- comics are a 2-way street. We'll be putting out good stories (hopefully) but we also need to ENGAGE the readers. I've got some specific ideas I'll toss out later, but start thinking about how you can not only tell a good story, but what you can do to make the readers active in their involvement. Quick example: the scavenger hunt thing that they did for Agents of Atlas.
Let me put a little more thought into specific assignments and such, and I'll try to get back in a few hours. I know Mike and Philip tossed out a couple of requests, but I'll have to go back and review them.
The Rise and Fall of the Defenders
A Tragedy in Five Acts
Civil War was an astounding success, and aside from reactionary frustration people had with certain plot points, the only real regret I feel like readers had with the story was that the heroes were fighting the heroes. This is not to say that Marvel Readers had a problem with hero-on-hero violence (nor have they ever), but that people really missed seeing the villains.
The problem with major stories that feature villains as the main antagonists is that they always seem to function too similarly: the villains unite, almost destroy the world (or the universe or existence or time or whatever) and then the heroes unite and stop them, and the Hulk usually picks up a mountain. And I love these stories, we all do, but I think that readers nowadays are more sophisticated—they don’t want to be told what to think or for whom they should root. They expect more ambiguity, more shades of grey, more complex characterizations.
World War Hulk, poised to be another blockbuster, also eschews the more traditional epic comic story structure by casting one of its most popular characters in the role of violent instigator. This story smacks of the Iliad; the Hulk is Achilles (the strongest there was) he has been wronged by those who were once considered his allies and friends. But unlike Achilles, who enacts his vengeance against Agamemnon and Menelaus (who took his favorite concubine away) by choosing to refrain from fighting, fuming in his black-sailed ships and allow his countrymen to be slaughtered by the Trojans, the Hulk takes the battle directly to the doorsteps of those who wronged him. World War Hulk already has me hooked because I can see both sides of the story, and I feel for both parties. The Illuminati really screwed the Hulk; they destroyed the one place in the Universe he ever felt he belonged. But the Hulk’s offensive could potentially leave so many more dead than the few who did him great ill. This is an engaging story.
So how to reconcile these two trends? How to create a story that has plenty of heroes fighting villains yet doesn’t feel hackneyed, quaint or outdated? I have a germ of an idea that perhaps can lead somewhere. Recently in the pages of Black Panther, in response to the growing conflicts of the Civil War, T’Challa and Storm took a diplomatic trip to some of the various more fantastical other countries or domains in the Marvel Universe. Some of these characters, like Doctor Doom, are villains outright, but others, like Namor, alternate back and forth. Magneto previously played into this category as well, as the ruler of Genosha, and I feel that if he and Doom were to reappear in a major way in the Marvel Universe in a major event, the book would sell very well. And given the books we have access to, I think this could work out all right.
Growing fearful of American Superhuman Hegemony, Latveria, Atlantis, Wakanda, Attilan (maybe) and New Genosha (and others) form a coalition calling themselves The Defenders, their stated mission being to keep Tony Stark and the Americans in check. Namor is elected the leader of this new governing body which controversially includes the once again Latverian Dictator Doctor Doom and the newly reappeared Magneto, who has developed an unstable and addictive serum that can grant former mutants their powers (these developments can be dealt with as “Road to Defenders” storylines in the pages of Uncanny X-Men or Fantastic Four, as well as why T’Challa would possibly support this dangerous new body).
And to all our hero’s surprise and somewhat dismay, this new governing body is actually extremely effective world wide, repelling a potentially disastrous mystical and alien attack, and gaining a lot of favor throughout all parts of the world other than America. This continues to the point that Spider-Man, feeling incredibly betrayed by his former friends who have abandoned him after the Civil War, opts to join the Defenders (though he also does so to make sure they don’t grow too megalomaniacal, I mean, he is a good guy after all, we can’t have him pick the wrong side for the wrong reasons all the time). She-Hulk perhaps joins the Defenders as well, sick with Tony Stark for sending her bro into space (another plot point of this, depending on how much we want to tie this into World War Hulk is that the rest of the world is really mad at the Illuminati whom they link with the American Initiative for scorning the Hulk and causing his attack on the planet; Namor is clearly absolved from this comparison).
However, the real drama of this cabal involves the power struggle between Magneto and Doctor Doom, who both desire to be the leader of this new team. They both try and play Namor, whose intense love for Sue Richards is, in this storyline, his Achilles heel. Controversial storybeats might include Sue actually returning his affections for once (cause you’ve got to anger as many die-hard fans as possible when you tell stories like this one). Again, this would all be in the hands of the writers and editors of various books, but basically things come to a head when a patrol of Initiative Heroes kill a group of Defenders when they mistaken believe the Defenders are in American Waters without authorization, and Namor uses this opportunity to launch a full out invasion of New York with his real motivation being to kill Reed Richards and reclaim his bride. This is of course where Spider-Man reveals himself to be a hero spy and sleeper agent, where perhaps Doom and Magneto are revealed to be not quite as evil as we’ve always thought (or maybe only Doom is shown to have a heart at the end, Magneto’s having been destroyed by House of M), where several characters die and where Namor Reed and Sue have an almost Shakespearean final confrontation that leads to the death of the erstwhile Prince of Atlantis.
By the term Tragedy I mean it in the Classical Sense, meaning that it would possess these five acts:
In the case of the story I described, the exposition-climax would be the rise to prominence of the Defenders and their successful defeat of a major cosmic/mystical force when the Americans could not, with the falling action and catastrophe being the mad actions of Namor, who for all his success can't find personal satisfaction.
This is a general outline that I think could potentially boost sales of our titles across the board, sell very well itself and in the hands of the right creators, be a critical success to boot. I know Tom said crossovers aren't in effect, but I took that as an olive branch to make things less difficult. I love so much about what Marvel's doing right now I can't honestly think of not including it in my books.
And welcome aboard, Patrick. I've invited you to be an active member of the blog, so post at your pleasure.
Anyway, Sean, since you said you'd prefer to wait until after we got into the game to start talking preferred properties etc., I'll say that I'm pretty comfortable on any of these books except Uncanny X-Men (as a rule I'd be uncomfortable with Wolverine too, except I randomly came up with story and creator ideas). So do with me what you will.
I'm also about to post a big pitch for a summer crossover event. I think it could work with the titles we've got, so I hope you like it!
The game is afoot!