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Up and Coming
2.11.2003 by Scott, every Thursday.

After a long hiatus and many lashings from the other editors, I have returned to the TM writing staff. Actually, I went back to school, and the workload it has entailed up until this point has made it difficult for me to keep up with my obligations here. But, thankfully, some creative scheduling where I work has left me with little to do that’s job related, and thus, my columns should hopefully be returning to more regular appearances.

Well, a new year has arrived, and with it, lots of hope for the comics coming out in 2003. Both Marvel and DC have big projects and new creative teams on their top titles. Uncanny X-Men has paired veteran writer Chuck Austen with superstar penciler Kia Asamiya, and the result looks to be a fantastic read. Asamiya, a longtime Manga artist in Japan, brings a fantastical, dreamy look to a book that has been trailing behind its counterpart, New X-Men, and his visual storytelling is already turning heads. He has already stamped the book with his style, and sales are picking up. His representation of Juggernaut in recent issues is to die for, capturing the power of my favorite villain and making him look great. Asamiya is also slated to work for the Distinguished Competition later this year, with some Batman work on Batman: Child of Dreams.

Speaking of Bats, DC has rock steady writer Jeph Loeb paired with Jim Lee on its flagship title, Batman. Although it actually began last year, it looks as though the best is going to be released in 2003. Loeb, who wrote Batman: The Long Halloween, is an accomplished writer who has won may accolades, but it’s Jim Lee’s return to penciling that is garnering all the attention and press from this book. Fans of Batman and of Lee are ecstatic so far, and his first work on Batman, issue 608, is about as easy to get a hold of as a good reason for war in Iraq. Lee’s art is being inked by Scott Williams, who has worked Lee’s pencils for years, spanning his early Marvel work on the “Punisher” and “Uncanny X-Men”, to his Image projects, and now “Batman”. Look for this book to be not just a treat, but an investment, as prices of his first 3 issues in this run are on the rise, with #608 already going for 10$ in some places, and 609 and 610 sold out as well.

DC also has former Uncanny X-Men and Deadpool scribe Joe Kelly working with artist Doug Mahnke (pronounced Monkey, kind of) working on JLA. While this isn’t a new pairing, I want to give a shout out to this book, which I adore, and a lot of pressure was placed on Kelly, who had taken over for fan favorite writers Grant Morrison and Mark Waid. He has an excellent grasp on the characters, and writes their dialogue superbly. For example, in issue 61, Batman is sparring with Wonder Woman, who easily dwarfs him in the raw strength department, and not only is he able to go toe to toe with her, but he spends the entire fight on three phone calls (via a headset), with his business manager, Lucius Fox, with Oracle, and with Robin. Cocky and confidant, Batman is done to perfection by Kelly.

Other comics to look forward to this year with undoubtedly be Marvel’s flooding the market with books aimed to draw on the hype coming from their movie releases slated for 2K3. Daredevil, set to be out this Friday, already has a bunch of titles out there to try and capitalize on the media blitz around the movie. With Ang Lee’s “Hulk” and Bryan Singer’s “X-Men 2” out this year as well, you can expect similar moves from Marvel to coincide with their releases.

Also be on the look out for a “Powers” movie to get into full production this year. Series creator, Brian Michael Bendis has been working with director/Muppet voice Frank Oz on scripting and pre-production. Powers is a great book, and one that should lend itself well to the big screen. Frank Oz has stated that he likes working with Bendis on the project, but was surprised that Bendis hasn’t made him make Grover say “Fuck!” yet.

Crossgen comics are going to try to increase readership this year, but it isn’t looking good so far for them. Their top selling book for the month of January, “Sojourn”, was ranked 79th by Diamond distributors, and only 3 of its titles ranked in the top 100. I don’t understand the poor performance of this company, as I enjoy nearly every title they put out. They publish two monthly compendia, entitled “Forge” and “Edge” respectively, that collect their titles, usually 9 issues in each, for a low price (I pay about ten bucks for mine, with my modest discount at my shop). Go, read them.

That’s all I got for now, but hopefully, I’ll be back soon with more news, reviews and abuse for you to peruse.

Scott MacIver

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