Following in Footsteps is Fine Fun

UPDATE: The Onion AV Club is presenting a collection of Messages to the Children of the World as given by recent interview subjects. Among the contributions are stirring words to live by from comics personalities Frank Miller, Harvey Pekar, and Dave Sim. Now that's one to grow on. Also check out their review of Jeff Smith's "Bone" one-volume collection.

*Hey, there’s all kinds of solicitations out. Everyone else has already covered them really good, but there are a few things I should point out:

1. Jae Lee deserves the Congressional Medal of Honor for Excellence in Subtle Phallic Imagery for his efforts in creating the cover of “Manhunter” issue #4. I think it was the cigarette that finally tipped me off.

2. Also, I just know I’m gonna wind up getting “Hulk and Thing: Hard Knocks”.



I’m such a stupid fool for Jae Lee. Just between you and me, I almost got those “Captain America” issues just for his art. And sometimes I look through the trades, and goddamn it looks good. The art looks good that is; I’ve heard things about the script, with dangerous acronyms like ’MST3K’ thrown around. I’ve never read a Bruce Jones book though, so maybe it'll turn out ok on that front as well.

3. Hell, might as well get roped into the new “Black Widow” mini too. Billy the Sink, laid out by goran parlov, who may or may not have accidentally lost his capitalization. I’m also not familiar with science fiction writer Richard K. Morgan, who‘s scripting, but Marvel assures me that he’s a mega-watt star, and if you can‘t trust Marvel‘s solicitations, well...

4.Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales” is ending with issue #12. As far as Alan Moore’s contribution goes, the last handful of issues have basically been excuses to play around with a bunch of noted artists (probably people Moore always wanted to collaborate with), but it's been pretty entertaining. Peter Bagge does the honors for the last installment, although he and Moore have worked together before: Moore wrote a short story for the final issue of Bagge’s seminal “Hate” (that’s issue #30). I’m personally looking forward to the grand finale of Young Tom Strong, because I’m absolutely convinced that the whole saga has been leading up to something big. I will be very sad if it’s just Tom getting on a boat or something and going “Well. I am a man. Off to the city.” The regular “Tom Strong” book still has at least six issues left, judging from the creative teams they’ve got lined up. Of course, the whole thing might be finished by the time “Promethea” #32 is out (#31 is next week: WOO!)

5. At WizardWorld, Joe Quesada mentioned that his involvement with “NYX” might be over after issue #7 due to his hectic schedule. And what do you know: “NYX” #7 is the last issue according to those Marvel Solicitations! Issue #5 still isn’t out, and it’s now freshly delayed until mid-September (link found at Thought Balloons). I bought issue #1 back in October of 2003 when it first came out. Josh Middleton’s art was really nice, one of the best anime synthesis styles I’ve seen (and it does resemble animation cells more so than comic panels, hence my reluctance to call it a ’manga’ style). But I just couldn’t get past the script. It was loaded with forced ’witty’ dialogue that couldn’t have possibly sounded more like a middle-aged guy trying to approximate clever kid speak, coupled with all the usual mutant/superpower cliches, including the classic ‘witnessing of the parent‘s death‘ and the beloved ‘how to control these powers?’… it is nice to know that it’s now ten months later and I’d only have to pay $9 to catch myself up, if I so desired.

*It’s happened again. I spent so much time going for quick, cheap, dirty laughs this weekend that I missed out on the real news to come out of WizardWorld. I am forever shamed to have delayed in presenting you word of the revival of “What If…

So long as I live, my fond memories of “What If…” will never leave me. So many awesome possibilities. Do you remember:

What If The Punisher Killed Spider-Man?

What If Doctor Doom Became Sorcerer Supreme?"

What If Captain Marvel Had Not Died?

What If Peter Parker’s Parents Destroyed His Family?

What If Minion Had Not Killed Death’s Head I?

What If The Punisher Became Captain America and Traveled Back in Time to Invent the Printing Press?

What If Stryfe Turned Into a Hungry Pony and Ate All the Apples in Cable’s Orchard?"

What If Quasar was a Ham Sandwich?

What If Ghost Rider’s Head was Normal and His Body was On Fire and Someone Turned On the Hose?

What if Dogs Could Speak English?

What if Wolverine and Sue Storm Fell in Love on a Planet Where Lips Were Only a Myth?

What If John C. Holmes Was the Herald of Galactus?

And other great stories.

But if nothing else, “What If…” at least stuck around long enough to serve as an easy-to-scan primer on the trends and prominent arcs in Marvel Comics throughout a long period, particularly those salad years of the early 90’s. Just looking at the covers tells you quite a lot about the atmosphere in which it was printed. For example, there was a time when somebody clearly thought that there was a clamoring of interest in what would have happened if Minion had not killed Death’s Head I. Now I don’t fucking know who any of these characters are, but in 1993 enough people presumably did to warrant this story being published. Similarly, “What If…” serves as a memorial for long-forgotten ’landmark’ stories. Like the whole deal with Spider-Man’s evil parents that the Chameleon set up to make Spider-Man more grim and gritty and stuff. I can barely recall the details of the story, but the very essence of it is housed in its “What If…” alternate world, and broadcasted by its cover. It‘s a strange time capsule, capturing its era by re-presenting its stories in boiled-down form as processed through the viewpoint of an alternate take: an accidental abridged record.

Maybe I’d get the same result by just scanning the covers of various titles from the era. There’s more than one way to spark nostalgia. But “What If…” is like a concentrated record of Marvel fad and landmark and fame, sometimes fleeting and sometimes lasting. I don’t even know if I’d like the stories themselves, but I sort of like that it exists. And if Marvel wants to collect some of today’s Great Moments, well good for them.