Thursday, May 17, 2007

When Big Money Attacks

I know we've been focused quite a bit so far on story arcs, on creator shuffles, on crossover potentials, but I want to make sure we don't forget about the gorilla in the room, the new fledgling company on the block who is likely going to cause us some problems in the days ahead.

What do folks think are the biggest threats on the horizon from Wacker and his Big Money books? We've all seen start up companies popping up here and there for 15 years now. Who's really given Mighty Marvel a run for any money, and why?

Really, is it the fear of exclusives that has us wary here? We've been able to fend off our Distinguished Competition for nigh unto four score and seven years now. Why fear the new kid on the block?

Obviously, it's because Wackers got some momentum on his side. That plus the competition we're already facing from the other publishers is going to make for some seriously crowded shelf space at the comic store.

What if Wacker's looking at a new reach into the market? E-comics? Here's a panic - what about television??? Think this guy's got the deep pockets to finance commercials during primo TV time? Imagine sitting there watching Heroes or Lost and seeing a commercial pop up for Big Money comics. Ugh.

What do you guys think? What should we be looking for?

Cloak and Dagger: Detox

This is a pitch for a three-issue miniseries. It should be published under the "MAX" label.

The writer: Brian Azzarello
The artist: Kyle Hotz

The direction:
Longtime Marvel readers probably know how Cloak and Dagger got their powers. They were kids on the streets that Silvermane's goons experimented upon. They were given an experimental drug, that activated their latent mutant powers. But what happens... when the drug wears off?

We start with a crackhouse. Several drug users are lying on dirty couches, mouldy armchairs or right on the dirty floor, passed out. We see syringes, crack pipes, tinfoil and other paraphernalia. We expect Cloak and Dagger to kick in the door to save those poor junkies, heal them and make them proud members of society again. The problem is... they are two of the junkies in the room.


Cloak and Dagger are fighting a gang. Suddenly, Dagger's power fades. Something is wrong. The gang members are overwhelming her, when Cloak teleports her away. But he doesn't get far. Because slowly, his powers start to fade as well. He's turning back into stuttering little Ty Johnson. The gang catches up to them and almost beats them to death.
In the weeks that follow, Ty and Tandy find out that the last traces of the drug that gave them their powers have been purged from their systems. Without the drug, they can't access their mutant powers. While it's not the first time that they lose their powers, they always got them back shortly. But not this time. And they are going through withdrawal. They need Silvermane's drug. On the street, they try to find a way to get more of this drug. But all they find is little dealers selling crack, heroin, crystal meth. When one of the dealers drugs Tandy, Ty tries to fight him, but without a connection to the Darkforce dimension, he has no chance. While Tandy doesn't regain her powers, at least she feels... something. She needs more heroin. And heroin makes her feel complete again. At least for a short time. After a few weeks, Ty tries it too.

Back to the present. The two are broke, powerless and hopelessly strung out. This isn't fun anymore. This isn't Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. This is Spun. This is not Trainspotting. This is Traffic. This isn't Half Baked. This is Requiem for a Dream.
Tandy is starting to sell her body. Ty is starting to steal. One day, he is caught by Spider-Man, whose spider-sense is tingling. He recognizes Ty. But Ty runs away. Spider-Man let's him go, but he can't sleep because of it. He wants to help the two of them. Soon he realizes that the only thing that can help them is getting them their powers back. So he contacts Reed. Reed talks to Xavier. Together, they manage to find a way to unlock Cloak's and Dagger's powers.

But Cloak and Dagger don't want their powers anymore. They have lost themselves in the drugs. They have lost their will to live. All they want is the next shot. They don't need their powers for that. In the end, the only way to make them detox is by chaining them to the wall. But Reed comes to the conclusion that you can't help those that don't want help. At the end of the series, Ty and Tandy are back in the crackhouse. They don't have their powers. They don't have money. They don't have self-respect anymore. The only things they have is drugs... and each other. And on that note, we end the miniseries.

If another writer really wants to use them later, giving them back their powers and getting them clean is a piece of cake. But if it were up to me, I'd end their story here.


Why Azzarello? Because of Cage. Brian Azzarello reimagined Luke Cage in a Max Series as a modern character in the ghetto. Together with Richard Corben, he turned a bad stereotype into another bad stereotype. But a bad stereotype with potential. Potential that Brian Bendis later used, first in Alias, then in Daredevil, then in New Avengers.

Why Kyle Hotz? Because he manages to show the dirty sides of the Marvel universe. Remember The Hood? I think he's the right choice for this. But I'm open to other suggestions as well.


What do you think? Should we go with this?

What do you guys think of this?

The Third Summers Brother

When I was offered the opportunity to write Cable for Marvel approximately four years ago, I accepted the assignment with great pleasure. Despite having only written a few comic book scripts during my career, I had been a comic book fan and collector for over forty years and was especially fond of the X-Men. Being given the chance to write one of the X-books was a dream come true. And, to top things off, Cable had always been one of my favorite characters.

Now, when I was hired by Marvel, I made it clear to Mark Powers, my editor and editor of the entire X-Men line, that I considered Cable a long-term project and that I intended to keep writing the series for the foreseeable future. With Apocalypse killed and the Twelve story-line finally completed, Cable needed a new direction and a new purpose in life. I was determined to clear up old plots that had never been resolved. Along with fleshing out his history, I wanted to establish that Cable had a greater purpose in life than just fighting Apocalypse and Stryfe. To accomplish both these aims, I studied Cable’s adventures, reading every issue of his own comic, his origin in New Mutants, and any other comic in my Marvel collection dealing with his life. I didn’t abandon continuity and past history. Instead of ignoring Cable’s complex life and continuity, I used it. I came up with a four-year master plan that would take Cable in new directions and hopefully establish him as one of the most powerful and most interesting characters in the Marvel Universe.

Tying this immense story together was an ongoing narrative involving two incredible powerful prime movers, beings of extraordinary power I dubbed the Lords of Probability and Possibility. Aiding them were three shape-changing sisters who liked Macbeth. These Sisters were the ones who declared that Nathan Summers was a nexus of the multiverse, the infinite number of alternate worlds that made up all reality. While popularized in science fiction and fantasy circles by Michael Moorcock in his Elric novels, the actual multiverse concept came from real science, the Many-Worlds Theory Interpretation Quantum Mechanics as developed by Hugh Everett III in 1957.

Unfortunately, my run on Cable was cut short after 18 months, and near the end of the run, I had to rewrite some scripts to fit into the narrower demands of the new editorial policy at Marvel. After I was replaced, my successors abandoned all of Cable’s wonderful and complex continuity and transformed him into a mercenary with a clouded past and uncertain future. The powers that be felt the more gritty Cable would sell better than my version. He didn’t and the comic was canceled.

Now, I’m not writing this column to second-guess the powers that be, so please don’t write posts for or against their decision to change Cable’s focus. Instead, I merely want to share with long-time Cable and X-Men fans one of the theories I dreamt up to solve a dangling plot line involving the X-Men, the Summers family, and Cable in particular. It’s where I was headed when my four- year plan was terminated. You might not agree with the concept, so feel free to argue about it all you want in the forum that follows. In my not-so-humble opinion, it would have made a fun, though possibly quite controversial, addition to Cable’s convoluted history. As the title of this column proclaims, here is my solution to the identity of the third Summers brother.

If you’re a long time X-Men fan, you know the problem. Years ago, Mr. Sinister hinted that there might have been three, not two Summers brothers. (In X-Men #23, Sinister makes mention to Scott of “you and your brothers.”) We knew of two – Scott, the mutant called Cyclops; and Alex, the mutant known as Havok, who starred for several years in the original (non-TV show) Mutant X comic. Scott was always one of the most powerful X-Men and Havok, who shot bolts of plasma at his enemies, was equally deadly. Many readers felt that Sinister’s hint somehow referred to Gambit, whose childhood was shadowed in mystery and who seemed to owe Sinister a powerful debt. Since Sinister had run the orphanage where Scott grew up, he seemed like a strong candidate to further mess with the Summers DNA. Sinister always was quite clear that he felt the merging of the Jean Gray/Scott Summers genetic codes would produce a super-powerful mutant. And he was determined to find a way to make that happen.

If you read my run of Cable, you know that Jean’s mutant powers were due in part to her being a direct descendant of the Dark Mother, a centuries-old mutant whose DNA had been reshaped by the radiation of a strange meteor from space. She inherited much of her mutant power, which was later enhanced by her mental encounter with the Phoenix Force. It was during the time that everyone thought Jean was dead that Mr. Sinister managed to complete the Summers/Gray genetic jigsaw by having Scott marry Madelyne Pryor, Jean’s clone. Their child, a product of the Summers and Gray DNA lines, was Nathan Dayspring Summers, the young boy who would grow up to be Cable.

Now, we know the source of Jean (and Maddy’s) incredible mutant powers, the Dark Mother. What about Scott’s and Alex’s powers? Their father was Christopher Summers, who later became known as Corsair. He was not known to possess any mutant powers. Their mother, Katherine Summers, also had no mutant powers.

The Summers family was split apart when an aircraft being flown by Christopher crashed into a flying saucer from the Shi’ar empire. Scott and Alex parachuted to safety and thought their parents dead. The two boys were raised as orphans. Christopher was thrown into the Shi’ar slave pens (slave labor used by a galaxy-wide space empire? Pretty ridiculous). He later escaped and became one of the Starjammers. Katherine became a member of the harem of D’Ken, the mad Shi’ar emperor. One popular theory has Katherine giving birth to D’Ken’s son, who became known as Adam X, before she died in captivity.

The Adam X theory has never been officially confirmed and is based on stories never told and oddball coincidences. Jean Gray feels an emotional attachment to Adam X when she encounters him in Alaska. Since Adam X at best is the half-brother of her husband, raised on another planet, one wonders at the validity of Jean’s empathy.

While Katherine can’t be entirely dismissed as the source of the X-gene inherited by Scott and Alex, Marvel history suggests the source is more likely Christopher. The main evidence pointing at Christopher’s side of the family is that Mr. Sinister has been interested in the Summers’ DNA for more than a century. According to The Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, when Scott Summers and Jean Gray fought Mr. Sinister in the 19th century, an orphan named Daniel took the name Summers in admiration of the two time travelers. The Summers connection with Sinister’s first appearance is too much of a coincidence to be ignored. But, at the same time, with Daniel being an orphan who never knew his parents, the Summers genetic map comes to a dead-end. Or does it?

Like many others who have examined the Summers’ family tree, I believe there is a third Summers brother. One who fits perfectly into the jigsaw puzzle that makes up Cable’s life and times, and at the same time, solves many of the mysteries of the Marvel Universe.

I believe that before Christopher Summers married Katherine he had a love affair with another woman (not yet identified) in the Marvel Universe. She may or not have been a powerful mutant. I suspect she was. In any case, Christopher, an Air Force officer, left her before she discovered she was pregnant… and for reasons not known, she never informed him she was going to have his son. His first child.

Then, in typical Marvel melodramatic style, shortly after this nameless woman gave birth to this incredibly powerful mutant child, the boy was taken from her. Stolen by a mysterious figure from the far future, a being who used a time machine to complete his master plan. Not only did this time-traveler kidnap Christopher Summers’ first child, but the traveler then took the baby back into the past and left him there. The time traveler abandoned the baby, who knew neither his father nor mother, on the burning sands of Egypt with only a name. He was called The First One, because the baby was the First Summers’ child, and the most powerful. Or as he became known in the language of those who found him and raised him, En Sabah Nur, the mutant known as Apocalypse.

I’m not going to explain all the details of my theory, as that would take away the fun of debating the validity of my conclusion. But, I do want to present some evidence in defense of my claim.

His name? Surely no one reading Marvel Comics ever believed that Apocalypse was the first mutant? He may have been one of the first powerful mutants, but the first one? Never. Evolution is based on the theory of survival of the fittest. Modern man is the result of thousands of mutations over a hundred thousand years. Claiming someone in early Egyptian times was the first mutant is not only bad science, it’s just ridiculous.

If my theory is true, then Apocalypse would be Cable’s uncle. They would share the same DNA. Why did Apocalypse infect the baby Nathan Summers with the techno-organic virus? To kill him? Nonsense. If Apocalypse wanted to kill the baby, he would have just done so. Infecting his nephew forced Nathan to survive – to prove that even as a child he was strong enough to survive. And, in doing so, Apocalypse was also creating a powerful body, with tremendous mutant powers, for him to someday possess when his own body gave out. What better replacement for a body than one that shares the same basic DNA code?

Need more proof? Apocalypse woke from cryogenic sleep when Nathan was born. Telepathic cries being heard by a relative make a lot more sense than Apocalypse being jolted awake by the birth of a powerful mutant, considering how many powerful mutants inhabit the Marvel Universe. If that was really the case, Apocalypse would have been thawing out every few months in the mid-20th century.

Apocalypse, when first found, was supposedly an orphan, abandoned by his tribe. But we never once saw any evidence of this tribe or learned anything about his supposed family.

When the Twelve gathered, Apocalypse wanted to take over the body of X-Man, genetically identical to Cable. As mentioned before, what better host body than a DNA match? Still, while that didn’t happen, Apocalypse had little problem taking over the person who pushed X-Man out of the way – Scott Summers. In my theory, the First One’s brother. A man possessing matching DNA.

Moreover, since we know Apocalypse posed as a God more than once during his lifetime, it seems quite likely he may have fathered children. Who in turn had children, and so on, until one of his descendents could have been in London at the time of The Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix. So, it would be quite possible that the X-gene that developed in the Summers family came from Apocalypse, who inherited it from his own descendents, in a closed-circle time loop. An anomaly in four dimensions, sure to attract the attention of the Lords of Probability and Possibility to Earth, where their servants would encounter Cable, a nexus of time and space... and result in the beginning of my story line featuring the three sisters.

Who stole the First Summers child and took him back to ancient Egypt? Could it have been Apocalypse, returned from the future, guaranteeing he would grow up in the past? Or might it have been Stryfe, for the same reason? Or maybe some other time traveler (there sure are enough of them in the Marvel universe) for reasons still to be explained? I know what I think, but that’s for another column someday.

There it is: my theory of the third Summers brother. Exactly as I had planned it four years ago but never had a chance to see in print. Consider it an alternate version of Marvel history, for your amusement and entertainment. Something to think about over the holiday season.

I know that Vulcan has since been revealed as the third Summers brother. But Sinister never said "I've keeping an eye on you and your two brothers", so - while farfetched - there could actually be four Summers brothers.

I think that Apocalypse is a much cooler idea than Vulcan, and since we already have Weinberg on board and Cyclops on the team, this could be a storyline

Susan Storm, Aldulteress OR How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Character to Mildly Boost Sales

Your time is extremely valuable, Sean, but try to read this thing. I think there are some good beats here.

The already solicited issues of FF display that, while Susan Storm loves her husband with all her heart, she cannot accept many of his actions. He has an unyielding belief in his own intelligence and character; not an arrogance in the traditional sense, but an inability to even consider the possibility that he's wrong about anything. He exists almost without any understanding of himself, of his own existence, and especially as he's worked with Tony Stark on the Initiative, he's conducting his life more like he's an instrument of science than a human being. And to be perfectly honest, Susan Storm isn't sure this is the man who she wants raising her children. She knows that Reed loves Franklin and Valeria with all his heart... but, again, love is not enough. What kind of a role model is a man such as this? What kind of a partner, what kind of a husband?

FF 546 and 647, while demonstrating these issues between Sue and Reed, also feature Namor quite prominently. Namor is concerned with the way the Illuminati sent the Hulk into space, the way the Initiative panned out, he's concerned about a lot of things. And Sue sees Namor's conduct as a stark contrast to Reed's; Namor is incredibly self-aware, and though he is rash and quick to judgment, he is capable of changing his mind, of accepting his own limitations. In light of things with Reed, she is attracted to him. And he sees it.

The Rise of the Defenders arc widens the gap between Reed and Sue, as well as between Reed and T'Challa. Reed is obsessed with attaining some scientific advancement, as well as exposing Doom as a fraud. T'Challa tries to express to Reed that Doom's data doesn't lie, but just as Reed cannot fathom the possibility that he is ever wrong, he cannot fathom the idea that Doom can ever be right. Doom is so self-centered, so megalomaniacal, that Reed sees all his scientific work as inherently tainted, beginning with that fateful experiment all those years ago when Reed and Doom first disagreed. Sue is fed up with Reed by this point, but she's a team player and she still feels that the FF is doing a lot of good. WE ALSO SEE IN THIS ARC THAT REED IGNORES DATA THAT WOULD PREDICT THE CATACLYSM BECAUSE IT'S TOO OUTSIDE OF REASONABLE EXPECTATION THAT REED CHALKS IT UP TO SOME KIND OF DATA ERROR. Doom, however, notices this data and anticipates it as he gathers together the Defenders.

The Rise of the Defenders arc also demonstrates the following change in Namor; he recognizes that Atlantis cannot exist in a vacuum, and as Earth's greatest civilization is obligated to extend its enlightenment to all corners of the Earth, and clearly Namor is the man to do it. However, Namor also anticipates positive reciprocity; he expects to be well respected by all, and in many ways to call the shots. It makes him a complicated choice for the man who leads a coalition to supplant the most unilaterally acting nation in the world. In short, Namor is effecting his legacy plan, his great achievement, and not only for the history books: he wants to be known as the man who saved the world, like Reed Richards, to win the respect and love of Sue.

Balance of Power. Sue is furious with Reed for ignoring these warning signs. Reed is too shocked that he was wrong. This shouldn't have happened, this doesn't make sense. Namor is concerned about Sue, he wishes to remove her and her children from harm's way, but Doom wants to send a message to America that if America doesn't start playing ball with the rest of the world, America will not reap the benefits of this benevolent new world over. So Namor waits, but sends word to Sue that she should at least send her children out of harm's way. Sue accepts this offer after rioters break into the Baxter Building and the children are almost collateral damage.

When Reed finds out that his children have been spirited away to the home of his greatest rivals (both in science and his wife's affections) he's furious with Susan. Susan tries to explain to him that there's a new balance of power in the world. This is the most different world that they have ever woken up in. The bad guys are good, the good guys are incompetent, human achievement is rendered irrelevant. It's back to basics in a lot of ways. And Sue leaves Reed to join the Defenders. Susan and Namor have a relationship. That's going to be the most controversial thing, more controversial than her taking the children and walking out, but it's important to the story. She'll actually think Namor is a better role model to the kids: he doesn't love them the way Reed does, but he'll be better for them. Namor, for a few brief moments, has everything he's ever wanted: the woman he loves, children to raise, and an entire planet that looks upon him with adoration.

I'm going to pause here and offer some thoughts that just now come to me writing out what's been in my head. One: if you'd prefer, Sean, I could put all the Reed-Sue-Namor stuff in the pages of BOP tie-in crossover FF and let the mini have a more global focus. I don't like this that much because it takes some of the more Shakespearean elements out of the miniseries, but if it makes you more comfortable I'll do it. The other thought I have is to end the miniseries here, with a real change in the balance of power, a development that will rock the foundation of this Marvel Universe that will never be. Is this too unresolved an ending?

The way I see this going is that Namor is tricked by Doom (they both despise Reed) into thinking that Reed is responsible for killing that Defenders patrol in disputed waters. In fact, Reed may be partially culpable: the actual killers will be overzealous Initiative idiots, but they may be acting under orders from Reed to "not let any of those so-and-so defenders any where near our country. They've kidnapped my children and brain-washed my wife." This leads to the fierce, reckless anger on the part of Namor, who oversteps his political influence, invades America and attempts to kill Reed Richards and whoever gets in his way. Namor's basically telling Reed "I have everything I want but you broken and dead" but he is stopped from delivering the fatal blow by Susan, who demonstrates that when it all comes down to it, love actually is enough. All she has at that point for Reed is love; she has no respect, no affection, no faith in his judgment, but she still loves him with all her heart and she won't see him die.

And that's when Namor realizes that without love from Susan nothing else matters. He leaps off the roof of the Baxter Building and plummets into the wreckage below. We don't see what happens to him.

What I like about Sue and Reed's arc here is that Reed is the intellect minded one who thinks love is all that matters and Sue, concerned that her children can't lead normal nothing from a man who's such a robot, is the one forsaking love as a factor.

This is a lot to digest. Let me know what you think.

Okay, it's after 8 now.

So much for today's deadline.

Now, is there anything we have to discuss? I can think of three things:

  • Susan Storm: In or out?
  • Who gets the in-house ad space?
  • How to deal with Big Money Comics.
I still think we should pitch a crossover with Big Money.

X-Men Office: Solicitations


Written by Andy Diggle, art by Goran Sudzuka, cover by Jock.

"Where The Wild Things Are". In this stand-alone tale, Logan hears of a cannibalistic serial killer in the Canadian woods. Once again, he gets ready to fight the Wendigo. But what he finds is much worse than that...

32 pages, $2.99. in stores on August 15.


Written by Robert Weinberg, pencils by Adrian Alphona, cover by Marko Djurdjevic.

"Till Death Do Us Part". A new chapter in the life of the X-Men begins. After the events in Astonishing X-Men #24, Scott Summers and Emma Frost plan to tie the knot. But as it happens with Marvel weddings, trouble is close at hand. When the Chronomancer strikes, who will be left standing?

"Bob Weinberg is one of the greatest comic book writers of all time" -- Dean Koontz.

32 pages, $2.99, in stores on August 29.

About those inhouse ads...

Sean, over at my "My moves for today" post, you wrote this comment:

> That sounds good -- with the FF movie and Phil's BoP thing
> coming together, I'm inclined to push the FF a little more than
> the other books from a marketing POV.

> I don't know that X-Men or Spidey need as much exposure to
> at least retain (relatively speaking) current sales levels

What did you mean by that? Is this about Wolverine's inhouse ads? Should I leave that out of my post for Tom?

X-Men Group Editor. Day 3 (anyone else getting Majora's Mask flashbacks?)

First of all, Emma and Scott's wedding gets interrupted by the Chronomancer (I prefer that name over "Fitzroy"), so they don't actually get wed. In fact, Emma is going to be one of the mutants missing.

I send the First Look materials of UNCANNY and WOLVERINE to Ben Morse. (Note: With Marko Djurdjevic's permission, I posted his sketches at
Could we give them one of the Jock-covers as well for their cover? If not, could Jimmy Cheung come up with something?

Okay, so Michael Ryan is on UNCANNY X-MEN 492 and 493 (the fourth and fifth issue of our run, respectively). I tell Robert Weinberg that those two issues will be the ROAD TO DEFENDERS tie-in issues and feature Magneto. Also, Rogue and Gambit will leave the X-Men and join the Defenders' cause.
I once again tell him that my suggestions were just to have a general direction. If he has something better in mind, he can tell me. I'm sure we'll find a way that makes everyone happy.

I ask the appropriate department if we can get a 90/10 variant cover (preferrably by Arthur Suydam) for the upcoming UNCANNY X-MEN #500.

I inform Newsarama and Comicbookresources about the Diggle/Sudzuka issue in case they want to interview one of them about it.

Are Ed Brubaker and Mike Perkins ready to start on WOLVERINE? If not (you mentioned that we can't use the Vaughan/Risso storyline, so I don't know if we need to stall a bit longer), I'd inform the marketing department to put the Brubaker on WOLVERINE in-house ad campaign on hold for a month. I'd ask David Lapham and Michael Gaydos to create another stopgap issue. If Lapham can't do it, I'll ask Brian Azzarello. If Gaydos can't do it, I'll ask Leonardo Manco.

Next: Solicitations.

EIC Summary Updates So Far

Wow -- this is flying a hell of a lot more fast-n-furious than I would've figured! I'll be honest with you guys, I'm trying to keep up as best as I can, but I'm doing a lot more scanning than I'd like. That's not to say I want you to halt discussions, just bear with me as I try to summarize where we're going. I want to make sure we're all on the same page here!

Pat - I get the feeling that we're only going to get Byrne if you put him on Amazing. I get the impression that he's being polite but isn't that keen on Spectacular. It sounds like he'd need to get his top tier Spidey book, avoid the Venom story that he's not keen on anyway, and keep him from having to deal with crossover business, since Fraction's not keen on that in the first place. That also means moving JRJr to Spectacular -- don't know if that's going to upset JRJR or not though. I'll fight for Byrne, but not if he's not interested. If you're ok with Byrne on Amazing I'll put another call into Byrne, otherwise you'll need to tag someone else.

To Tom's point from OPS, I'm leaning towards bumping Amazing in favor of FF. With Phil's Defenders crossover running through that book and the lack of solidified creative teams on your end AND the possible delay anyway, I think that makes the most sense. That means you're out of the gate a little late, and might take some flak for that. Fair warning...

Phil -- Ditch your bit about teasing Slott about Torch in that post before you give post it to Tom's. The 500 words seems a bit more than I would've guessed initially and allows us to throw in bits like that, but it's still a pretty finite limit, and I want us to make sure that we don't screw ourselves if we have to make some last minute changes by our 8:00 deadline. Also your description's a little unclear as to whether She-Hulk is getting canned/cancelled/absorbed. Also, avoid mentioning Sue leaving just yet -- I want to follow up with you on that.

I'm not going to try to edit BOP personally. I saw a couple of different posts about Deodato or Cheung on the book -- I didn't track which was your latest thoughts on the matter. I'd suggest keeping Deodato on FF (since he seemed excited about it), and put Cheung on BoP. Call Vaughan (how the hell do you pronounce that anyway?) and Cheung to see if they're up for it. Backups look good from my POV. Let's see if you can't

Mike -- Gotta go. I'll have to get back with you. But you have the fewest issues anyway! :)

X-Men group editor. Day 3 - The redesigns are in.

Sean, before we do anything (like sending these to Ben Morse), what do you think of this? If you don't mind, I'd like to give this to Wizard as soon as possible to build up interest for the Uncanny X-Men run. Could you also approve Adrian's designs (not shown here)?

I just got the X-Men redesigns from Marko and Adrian. Shown here are only the Djurdjevic designs, though. (off-time: I couldn't find any X-Men by Adrian on the web).
Ben, I send them directly to you, along with Robert Weinberg's comments. I don't know yet how many characters Weinberg will use (he will tell you), but Cyclops, Gambit, Rogue and Nightcrawler will definitely be in the book. Gambit might get a different design though, I'm leaning towards Adrian's rendition of the Cajun (not pictured here, but you'll get Adrians designs as well, Ben). Both Gambit and Rogue will leave the team in the first six months, though (you heard it here first).

Notice that Nightcrawler has five fingers in this sketch. In the book, he'll have the usual three.

Click on the following image to enlarge:

Phil, do you prefer this Magneto or the classic helmet version? If you like this, Ben will get this sketch as well (since Magneto will be in issues 4 and 5 of Uncanny).

If you'd rather go for the classic, recognizable helmet look (Adrian had a killer version of this with his sketches), that's okay. Since you'll handle Magneto more than I will, it's your call (and Sean's of course).


I thought, Sean, that you might post certain previously touched upon elements of the more global scheme for BoP in your own separate entry: I’ll then post the series description in mine. As you’ve probably already assumed, I’d really like to edit this title, but I understand if you’d rather give it to simBrevoort: how this is a plan to counter Big Money’s market incursion; how these issues will run under the RISE OF THE DEFENDERS banner: She-Hulk 21 and 22, Fantastic Four 549 and 550, Uncanny X-Men 450 and 451 (the fourth and fifth of Mike’s tenure) and hopefully others such as Black Panther, New and Mighty Avengers, Iron Man etc.; how this is about five or six months ahead depending on if you count the current issue; and perhaps how you’d really try and sell Vaughan that we need his distinct deftness with both politics and character work.

PENCILS BY JIM CHEUNG (alt. FINCH, alt. JIMENEZ, alt. moving DEODATO from FF and replacing him with Phil Jimenez, Pelletier or McGuinness)
COVERS BY CHEUNG (variant Turner or McGuinness)

This event portrays Earth's most devastating and unexpected natural disaster, a massive tectonic plate shift that will level much of the East Coast of the United States, wipe Miami off the map, drive the Mole Man and his domain up from under ground, and shake America's faith in its government and its heroes, for when the dust has settled in NYC, only two buildings remain unscathed: the advanced tech protected Stark Tower and Baxter Building.

The series will follow the generally disjointed efforts of the Initiative to efficiently manage and recover from the crisis, as well as unregistered heroes on the streets trying to do what they can. We'll see Spider-Man and the X-Men struggle to make sense of the disaster and fear for the rest of the world's safety, and watch as the Fantastic Four wonder how they could have erred so greatly and not seen this coming, as the one time heroes face growing resentment from the people.

However, it will soon be revealed that the rest of the world is relatively unharmed by the global cataclysm; they've been protected by the coordinated efforts of the Defenders: an alliance led by Namor, the series' protagonist, including Doctor Doom, T'Challa, Magneto and several of his former allies who've joined in the interest of "defending the world against American Initiative hegemony." The image of characters who were previously seen as villains defending lives of innocent third world children will stand in sharp, shocking contrast to the image of two superhero towers standing unscathed amid the rubble pile of Manhattan.

America sees allies such as England and Canada request aid from this group whose members number some of the most reviled villains, and the ranks of the Defenders will increase to include not only several villains seeking redemption in the eyes of the world, but even some heroes such as Rogue and Storm, who choose to follow T'Challa's example and ally themselves with a new world order.

Because at its heart, this story isn't about mother nature's fury or global politics. It is a story about trust, and love, and how the two are not always the same thing, about how nothing is safe and nothing is certain--it is the story of a prince who would seek to redeem himself to win the wife of a better man, and the tragedy that arises from the depths of his desperate love.


Hey, guys --

I've read Tom's Day 3 but I haven't checked your follow-ups here yet. Quick question, though: of the creators you've officially got on board as of right now, who do you feel are either A) critical to the direction you're taking your books, and/or B) fairly likely to take off for a "better offer" at Big Money?

Tom's concerned (rightly so) about budget, so I'm thinking I could get four, MAYBE five exclusives.

Cross Marketing - Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You?

Folks, just a quick thought.

Can we take a look at getting our titles in some non-conventional points of distribution?

For example, with the FF movie on the horizon, movie theatres would be a perfect spot for us to reach some new fans. Admittedly, most of the diehards are already getting their weekly fixes from their local comic book shops, but this would be a primo spot to grab some of the young kids on their way in.

Obviously, I don't think we'll have OUR titles out the door in time for the June debut, but how about we work with marketing to find out about getting the current issues in the theatres, AND, at the same time, we can work up some posters or promos for Philip's upcoming launch? Something to tease what's to come?

And on another track, can we find out the upcoming DVD release dates for all things Marvel? I'd love to take a look at getting our books into the Walmart special packages or Best Buy and Circuit City for the next DVD release. Spider-Man 3 may still be a ways off, but I'm not sure when our titles our hitting the shelves. It could coincide nicely, and open up marketing and partnership opportunities with the DVD and electronic game stores.


Oh, and another thing

Sean, whatever you do, sign Brubaker!!!


Sean, based on response from the boards and the overall direction of Balance of Power/Defenders, I've decided to hold off on plans to relaunch She-Hulk. Instead, I'm going to suggest that Sue leaves Reed and the children once again and goes to Namor and the Defenders and She-Hulk replaces her on the team. That will anger so many more die-hard fans that they'll wish I just started a new book. Also I obviously vote to get FF out, mainly cause I doubt Amazing will come together in time. If you think Amazing will make it to press, then go ahead and release that since it'll sell more copies.

Due to upcoming events that will resonate throughout the Marvel Universe, we're holding off on She-Hulk's relaunch/retitle until things have settled down. She-Hulk will instead be joining the Fantastic Four starting in issue 23 of her own book and FF 551, replacing Sue Richards. This means Dan doesn't lose Johnny Storm. But remind him I can take him away whenever I want. Then laugh so he knows I'm joking. But put something sinister behind the laugh so he's not sure I'm joking.

The previously described crossover will take place in She-Hulk 21-22 and FF 549-550(extra pages on that one if possible); it that works with the Black Panther schedule, they're beyond welcome. The crossover will bear the following banner: THE RISE OF THE DEFENDERS, and will instead be the darker FF arc we'd described (Doom gather together the Defenders), instead of the original crossover pitch of chasing Doom across the galaxy (Dan and Dwayne may work elements of that into the beginning of the revised crossover, however).

Forget die-cut bookmarks; they'll just give people papercuts anyway.

Tell Molly the following (or just call the guys myself):

First, tell Deodato I'll talk to Dan about changing the story. Then I'll point out to him that he's allowed to make the softball game the most gritty, brutal softball game in the history of softball (the players all have powers, after all).

If Dan's already started writing the softball story, see if he can at least rewrite the last half or two thirds to include calling off the game so the heroes can, in some action-packed manner, avert a catastrophe (construction acccident, alien space craft crash, unregistered hero trying to buy some milk). Keep in mind this only requires rewriting one part of the story, since several scenes were focused on Sue and Reed being grumpy faced (hence my wanting Deodato's emotional touch).

If Dan hasn't already started writing (in which case he's in trouble with me, but I'll let it slide THIS TIME since it works to our advantage), suggest he scrap the softball storyline in favor of the New FF on a distant alien world battling space slugs or an army of fierce warriors and treating it like it's normal, to establish how Black Panther and Storm are really fitting into the new team. Resolicit the issue if necessary.

Then, I'll do everything in my power to rush the preview pages for Marvel, which I would imagine includes: crying a lot, paying multiple inkers and colorers to work on a single page of the preview art each (and apologizing, because I bet that irritates them), clicking my teeth and bugging everybody in the office, urging Amanda to work as fast as she can and generally trying to cheerlead/bulldog everyone into getting it done. Then I'll think about gluing all of the guys' belongings to their desks, but I'll remember that they're only rushing me so they can promote my book and I should probably just be thankful whenever somebody helps me out on She-Hulk.

Tom posted. Day 3 has officially begun.

Just had an idea to kill two birds with one stone.

Byrne doesn't want to do Spectacular Spider-Man, and Jim Cheung needs a book. How about giving Spectacular to Jimmy, at least until we agree on a replacement for Byrne?

Also, with Cheung fresh off the Illuminati mini, could he be a suitable artist for "Balance of Power"?


Mike, how's this for a compromise:

What if we call the limited THE BALANCE OF POWER. The lead up books are bannered RISE OF THE DEFENDERS. The team is still called the Defenders, but now the diehard fans won't be quite as incensed against it?

Defenders Discussions Continue

I'm rescuing some more pertinent comments on the Defenders from a message board that's getting a little too removed from the main page. Mike, let's keep brainstorming; this is getting good:


I like the beats you're pulling out of this, but Debbie's got a point: the Helicarrier going down has been done a lot. Dan Slott's even been making fun of that in recent (real) issues of She-Hulk.

Also, with the global spin you're putting on the Defenders as a group (which I really like) can we do something similar with the visual beats? Intact Baxter Bldg amidst chaos/rubble is good, but are there international equivalents we can touch? What about Hercules trying to hold up the Parthenon? It's getting late and I'm drawing a blank on other ideas but the same general ideas/direction on a global scale.

May 16, 2007 8:58 PM


I hear you loud and clear.

Helicarrier crash is outer than Elton John.

Hercules is a great beat, I'll mimic it world wide: Magneto holding the Great Wall of China together by metal bracings, Doom standing in the middle of a large group of terrified South American children triumphantly holding a force field emitter above his head that protects them from fallen rubble as a crowd looks on cheering, Namor and several members of the Atlantean guard astride sea creatures carrying stranded kids, reuniting families in a tsunami swept Indonesia, T'Challa and the Wakandan guard welcoming refugees into Wakanda

These images aren't necessarily as striking; they're supposed to be about the emotional impact of the characters. Baxter Builder standing pristinely in a force field while the city around it crumbles is by comparison a pretty damning image.


It comes even heavier. When the Baxter Building and the Stark Tower are the only things standing amidst all the rubble and chaos, that's two towers.

It will be an inverted 9/11.

As for the Great Wall of China: How about the Mole Man? He's a monarch as well, and I doubt that all of his Moloids were killed in Mighty Avengers #3. Can you imagine millions of Mole people standing all along the Chinese Wall, trying to keep it vertical? I think that could be a better image than Magneto holding it in place with girders. I think Magneto should hold something already made of metal. The Eiffel Tower?

Also, could Blob get his powers back? Think of the image when the immovable Blob is supporting the structure of Brussel's Atomium in an Atlas kind of image.

Alternatively, Juggernaut could do the same. Both are allied with Magneto, whose brotherhood (Mystique, Blob, Sabretooth, Toad, Juggernaut and, *gasp*, Gambit and Rogue (who believe that the X-Men should oppose Stark and Richards, thus ending up on the Defenders' side. And Doom even finds a way to cure Rogue, something Xavier never managed to do)) will be involved in this, of course. They are his X-Men, after all.

Clarification: With "cure", I mean get rid of Ms Marvel's powers and memories, as well as control of her powers.

Philip Schaeffer said...

Oh Mike,

I get all tingly when you start including mutants in the crossover.

This is feeling pretty global meaning both world wide and line wide. Patrick, where do you see Spidey fitting in?

Yeah, definitely, all those images of former villains holding things together, Magneto keeping the Eifel Tower, this is all perfect.

I'd rather not use Juggernaut linked with Magneto because he's in New Excalibur (but I'll do it), and I'm not a huge Blob fan...

But could I have Colossus? Forsaking America and joining the world community at large, perhaps holding up the Atomium or something more Russian?

And I love the Mole Man being a part of this. It's a bit out of his character to want to help the world at large, but he'd be an interesting addition to the Defenders.

Day 3 - The X-Men group editor

Okay, before Tom posts his update on his blog, I just wanted to add a few things:

Is there an upcoming convention we could use to make our exclusive deals public and spread word about the crossover?

I just asked the real Marko Djurdjevic on his MySpace page if I can use his actual X-Men redesigns he came up with about a year or so ago. If I get his approval, I could post them here for Ben Morse (for his exclusive First Look feature in Wizard).

Today I will have to tell Robert Weinberg if issues 4 and 5 of his Uncanny X-Men run will be tie-ins to "Road to Defenders". Note that I'm not asking about the name here, but about the contents of two upcoming issues. So do we go through with this or not? I need a clear answer here.


Morning Thoughts

Quick hits this morning before I get sucked into something else...

I want you guys to start promoting creators as they sign up. See if you can't get them interviews and such in various/multiple venues. Wizard and Newsarama are pretty obvious, but realize that they're not the only games in town either. Look at blogs/fan sites/podcasts/whatever that focus on either Marvel generally or your characters particularly. If any of the creators have blogs, especially, talk with them about what artwork/plots they're working on they can/can't post.

Back to my note from last night about the Defenders "leak". I'm thinking that might be something we can play up as a marketing thing. If we go so far as to stage a reasonable leak -- say, the artist posting the opening splash page on his blog only to pull it down the next day after we "reprimand" him. Maybe some anonymous hints sent to Rich Johnston. Then we, as editors, officially deny anything. Maybe an additional image "leak" to Wizard the following month-- they'd have to be in on it, obviously. So by the time retailers need to place orders, it's something of an open secret that the new book will be the Defenders relaunch.

Gotta split...