*Oh man - saved! This week’s column… it was a strange one. It went through several forms, the first of which rudely assaulted my brain roughly one hour after I handed in last week’s column and the London Times brouhaha suddenly emerged. Immediately I had a vision: I’m confronted by a time-traveling futuristic version of myself, who’s just stolen the secret formula for bottled misogyny from a local comics store. It seemed like a decent set-up for satire, except that (over the next few days) I couldn’t think of anything to come afterward. Obviously we’d have to engage in some type of London Times-related antics, but I couldn’t think of exactly what. But then, like a knight galloping through the corpse-strewn battlefield, DC revealed its plans for Infinite Crisis, and everything suddenly fell into place. And even better: just yesterday, people started talking about the Times article again! Obviously the universe has rearranged itself to present to you this week’s magical outing of comics comment at optimal luminescence. I hope you have fun with it.

*Over on Millarworld (and I bet you‘ve already heard about this on Fanboy Rampage because I am so so damn slow), Warren Ellis is holding court, answering all questions that come his way, everything from ‘whatever happened to Stealth Tribes’ to ‘do you like cats?’ Lots of interesting info released, on topics from all over his career; I especially savored his comments on the infamous Marvels parody Ruins, which Ellis describes as “a nightmare from start to finish” though he “had a hell of a lot of fun writing it.” I had no idea that the reason for the (hugely distracting) artist change right in the center of issue #2 was because original art team Cliff and Terese Nielson divorced in the middle of production. What a strange, troubled work Ruins was, badly scarred by its production (Ellis says here that it was originally intended to be a fill-in issue of What If? and got expanded; I’ve read elsewhere that it was at one point boosted up to four issues then cut in half), really more of a series of appalling vignettes than a coherent story. And yet, I’m glad it exists, willing to take the pure fantasy ‘realism’ of Alex Ross-type painted superhero books to an area of logical truth where the fun won’t be fun at all anymore. It’s heartening to see someone address the tiny hypocrisies inherent in wildly-hailed ultra-realistic renderings of characters who are still getting superpowers from radioactivity instead of cancer. I know, I know, the appeal of photorealistic superhero art is to bring specific fantasies to 'life'; it's fantasy brought into the world as we see it. But Ruins uses elements of fantasy too, just enough fantasy to force it to intermingle with reality in a somewhat more unbalanced way than in the average Marvel comic; too much reality in the fantasy leads to a poisonous mix indeed. And since photorealistic comics often strike me as adding a bit too much reality to begin with (though only enough to harm things on an aesthetic level, stiffly-posed actors tromping around), why not drizzle some of that reality into the story too? I kind of wish a Ross-type of some sort had done all of Ruins; the Nielson's work is sort of scratchy and sooty. The work could have used more sun to shine down on the atrocity.

And I thought the ending was funny.

Plenty of new work updates, like the fact that he’s off Iron Man (the best of his recent Marvel output in my opinion) after issue #6 (unless that’s old news I forgot about). His new ongoing Marvel project will be a team book, and his new miniseries will involve an old concept. I like his thinking on ongoing superhero projects, which he doesn’t like to work on these days for more than a few arcs at a time. I was also reminded that I have a copy of one of Ellis’ earlier Marvel works, a back-up tribute strip in the final issue of Epic’s colorized presentation of Akira (issue #38) from 1995. It had art by Terry Shoemaker. Couldn’t make heads nor tails of it when I first read it. I think I can now.