5.13.2009

What Dreams May Come

David Brothers hit us with a thought-provoking post yesterday at The 4th Letter. He quickly listed a few stories he’d like to see in comics and it set my mind racing. David’s list paints some nice broad brushstrokes; they’re genres, topics, and specific periods in history. My list ended up being a little more specific for whatever reason. My only self-imposed ground rule is that I tried to resist the urge to call out specific books or editions of existing material (I mean, sure, I’d like to see an Absolute Edition of Paul Pope’s Batman: Year 100 or collected editions of Flex Mentallo or Automatic Kafka, but that’s not exactly the point of all this) and focus on the exploration of story ideas or in some case, “dream-casting” creators to specific properties. In no particular order, and off the top of my head, here are some things I’d like to see… I’ll probably be adding to this as time goes on and additional ideas seep into my brain.

The Waynes: This is the Batman script I pitched and talked about recently while reviewing Gaiman's Detective Comics story. I suppose if I didn’t get to write it, I’d want someone thoroughly versed in DC continuity to make it hum, which means Mark Waid would be the writer. Simultaneously, I'd also like to see the book propel a great artist to superstardom, (hey, it’s my dream so I can do what I want!) so I’d pick someone like Nathan Fox who’s hovered on the periphery with some Dark Horse work (the interesting Pigeons From Hell), and a stray issue of DMZ with Brian Wood.

Paul Pope Green Lantern: It’s no secret to regular 13 Minutes readers that Paul Pope is one of my favorite creators. I often think about what I’d like to see him do. Sometimes I imagine his dirty future-tech aesthetic from THB being melded with one of the all time great concepts - the intergalactic cop with the magic ring - and think it would be a compelling take on the character. For my money, I don't even care if it's Hal Jordan or Kyle Rayner or any specific GL; I just picture it being along the lines of the old Green Lantern: Mosaic book starring John Stewart, and it's absolutely magical.

A Monthly Book From…: Like Paul Pope, there are certain artists that I’m such a fan of, I will literally buy anything they work on. I’d love to see a regular monthly ongoing title from any of these guys that I could look forward to buying at a regular clip: Paul Pope, Frank Quitely, John Cassaday, Joe Sacco, Travis Charest, Nathan Fox, Farel Dalrymple, Cliff Chiang, or (insert next creator - this list will grow, as I know I’m likely forgetting some deserving folks).

Broken Smile: This book doesn’t exist, it’s the title of a bittersweet romance comic that I want to write. This title has been swirling around my brain for a very long time waiting for the spark of creativity to hit me. One day I’ll set pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard as it were) and the muse will take hold of my brain and this beautiful story about two people connecting will take shape. I'd love to see it with some ethereal moody art, by somone like Joelle Jones or Arthur Dela Cruz.

The “Next” Nextwave: No book has made me laugh as much. Bristling with Stuart Immonen’s art, Warren Ellis on top of his writing game with the characterizations of beer drinking Machine Man, Avengers TEAM LEADER (just ask her!) Monica Rambeau, and Tabitha spelling her own name wrong to defeat the enemy. Issue #10 was a pinnacle of creativity that aped other artistic styles and genres. It just doesn’t get much better than that. I want another book like this.

Firestorm: Solar Crisis: Another old script I wrote and pitched unsuccessfully to DC (yes, I suck). Following someone's advice, I picked a character that nobody seemed to be using (this was before the Jason Rusch relaunch) and attempted to worm my way in. The basic thrust of the story was that Superman’s powers were failing, all the greatest minds got together, everyone from Dr. Mid-Nite to Mister Terrific, they try using Kryptonian, Thanagarian, Rannian, S.T.A.R. Labs, and WayneTech technology to analyze and diagnose, and all they can really figure out is that the mysterious ailment has something to do with an anomaly in our sun. Based on the ways his powers work, the only one who can handle this mission is Firestorm. Overall, the goal was to establish him as a main player in the Justice League, not relegated off to goofball reservist status. "Crisis" was to deliberately be used in the title to poke fun at how crossovers generally suck, that when you pare it down to essentially a handful of characters and tell a single rousing story with a definitive beginning, middle, and end, you can have a successful story that wasn't fabricated by committee. What's better than saving the day? Saving Superman - the guy who can save every day. The creative team would need an artist like Riccardo Burchielli, who'd provide a certain level of gravitas (not to mention redesigning the atrocious 1970's costume), and I'd love to see Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning on writing chores. They've done wonders with Marvel's cosmic heroes, and before that they turned out one of the best Legion stories ever for DC, with their Legion of the Damned and Legion Lost arcs.

Nazi Art Theft: True story – during WWII, Hitler and his top goons looted dozens of museums and private art collections across nearly every country in Europe. Der Fuhrer and the boys chalked it up to “cleansing the world of degenerate art,” but secretly were just amassing wealth to fund the (wrongly assumed) eventual rise of the Third Reich to global domination. Goebbels and Himmler and the gang were stockpiling works (in some cases, very well known artists like Rembrandt) on rail cars, with depots scattered all over. As cities fell, they'd ship them out to pre-designated rally points in their network - it really was an intricate system they devised. Eventually, the Allies got wind of this, and pressured by the academic world, the OSS establishes the ALIU, or Art Looting Investigation Unit, (This is real! I'm not making this shit up!), charged with intercepting stolen shipments and safeguarding museums and cultural centers as cities fell to the German forces. Essentially, they'd investigate, recover, and attempt to return the works to the rightful owners or institutions. After the war, thousands of pieces had been looted, with about 80% of them being recovered. Even as recently as 10 years ago or so, museums were finding things in their collections with this bizarre provenance of having been stolen and discovering that they may have been acquired illicitly. Some high-end collectors even began to specialize in these works, the fetishistic appeal of not only being a rare piece by artist x, but historical record as one of Hitler's infamous looted works made prices skyrocket. This is begging to be told in our medium. I picture a writer who's a master researcher (suggestions?) with art by Guy Davis. We know from his work on Mike Mignola’s creations that he can capture this time period effectively and evoke the right mood.

The Search for Kitty Pryde: Like many people, I enjoyed Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men. It came as no surprise that Joss loves Kitty (as do I) since much of his work is informed by the latent female adolescent power fantasy dynamic. It was a great story, but heartbreaking to see her supposed demise at the end of his run. It always bothered me a bit that she was shuffled off stage left with little more than a page of dialogue between Scott and Peter essentially indicating "oh well, we tried to save her, we thought about it real hard, even called Reed Richards, but she’s lost." I think she's a rather important mutant to begin with, particularly if there are only 198 (199 counting Hope?) left. My gut instinct was always why didn't Scott at least pick up the phone, call his bro Havok, who is up there with the remnants of the Starjammers, Polaris and Phoenix riding shotgun. Now, I know he has his hands full at the moment with the whole War of Kings between the Shi’ar, Inhumans, Vulcan, and the Kree. But would it have hurt for Scott to say "hey, if you happen to see a 10 mile long bullet buzzing around, just be on the lookout for Kitty, huh?" There’s a good story in here. We had Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown. We had Pryde & Wisdom. So can't we have Havok & Pryde? X-Men: The Search for Kitty Pryde? Something like that. Creative team: Ed Brubaker & John Cassaday.

Mister Miracle: I'd like to see Cliff Chiang take this on, written by Brian Azzarello. At first this seems like an odd team, but I want to re-unite the Dr. 13: Architecture & Mortality team, and besides, Azz is probably bored now anyway that 100 Bullets wrapped(!). I don't think we need to be sticklers for New Gods Continuity Porn on this, I just want something with Scott Free, feel free to play with the bounds of the property. Look at what Jonathan Lethem and Farel Dalrymple did with Omega: The Unknown. Mister Miracle is a terrific character that desperately needs a post-Kirby definitive take.

Sunfire & Snowbird: Two X-Men characters that I love; they're just visually striking. So that's right, pair them up! Like Peanut Butter & Jelly, err, umm... DC's Fire & Ice from the Justice League. Ok, this one might be a stretch. But picture Keith Giffen writing, with Alan Davis on art. Who doesn't want to see the international adventures of Shiro Yoshida and an Inuit goddess in that context?

Afrodisiac by Jim Rugg & Brian Maruca: Please, if there is a God in heaven, let this amazing character have an ongoing monthly book!

Zeb Wells & Seth Fisher: It is a shame that Seth Fisher was taken before his time. Anyone who was lucky enough to have read Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big in Japan knows that something magical was lost. To me, this is like Marvel's version of Seaguy, only told as comprehensible vs. the incoherent ramblings of a drunken Scotsman. Depicted not with the slick lush style of Cameron Stewart (his stuff is great, don't get me wrong, I do dig Seaguy and this is slightly facetious), but with the Silver Age manic fourth-wall breaking goofiness that Fisher infused his few offerings with. I guess I'm saying I wish the world could have gotten more of his work. Thankfully, Zeb is still an active writer and has been quietly amassing a body of decent work.

2 Comments:

At 1:00 AM, Blogger Matt C said...

Some great ideas there Justin. Particularly like the Nazi Art Theft one - that could be spun in any number of ways so there's plenty of potential there.

Oh, and I hope the spark of creativity hits you sooner rather than later!

 
At 8:26 PM, Blogger Justin said...

Thanks Matt! I love the Nazi Art Theft idea... I read about it in a recent catalogue that a museum put out, some very fascinating stuff.

 

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