Robot 6

Six by 6 | Six other comics I’d like to see more of

Miracleman #23

Miracleman #23

After almost 20 years, it looked like the first two issues of Big Numbers were the only issues we’d ever see. But last week the third issue miraculously surfaced on the internet.

Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz’s aborted epic is one of those series that, even 20 years later, still gets people talking and wondering about what might have been. On his blog, Eddie Campbell remembers talking to Kevin Eastman about why the third issue was never published, even though it was finished: “I recall asking publisher Kevin Eastman at the time why, even though the 12-issue series was abandoned, he couldn’t put out the existing third issue,” Campbell writes. “He looked at me as though I was daft. Who would want a third issue if they knew there wouldn’t be any after that?”

And yet here we are, in 2009, talking about a third issue no one would want.

Big Numbers is far from the only series that ever fell into comic limbo. In honor of Pádraig O Méalóid’s eBay purchase, here are six other comics that I’d like to see more of. Note that for the purpose of this list, I avoided titles that were officially canceled for sales reasons (like Blue Beetle, Aztek or Chase … that’s another list for another day) and instead focused on comics that we expected to see one day, but for some reason or another, they were never published (at least not yet, anyway). Books where I feel I could use some closure. Like last week, I received a little help from my fellow Robot 6 bloggers, so thanks to Kevin Melrose, Tim O’Shea and Michael May for their suggestions.

1. Miracleman: I would consider three comic titles the “holy trinity” of stories lost to comic book limbo — three books that were created but never saw print for one reason or another. One would be the previously mentioned Big Numbers #3, while another would be Miracleman #25. Written by Neil Gaiman and drawn by Mark Buckingham, the 25th issue of this epic series was never published.

The legal battles between Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane over the rights to the character have become legendary, and they’re only one piece of the legal maze that surrounds the rights to Miracleman/Marvelman (if you’d like to run that gauntlet, you can check out many of the referenced articles in the Miracleman Wikipedia entry, or find yourself a copy of Kimota! The Miracleman Companion by TwoMorrows, which details the property’s history). What I do know for sure is this — Moore, Gaiman, Buckingham, Alan Davis, John Totleben and the rest of the creators involved with the book created 25 monumental issues before the book’s publisher, Eclipse Comics, folded in the mid-1990s. Only 24 of those saw print, and Gaiman has said if they can ever unravel the legalities he wants to get the material back into print. Hopefully that day will come in my lifetime.

2. The end of Rick Veitch’s Swamp Thing run: And heres’ the third of the trinity I mentioned — Swamp Thing #88. As part of a time travel arc written by Veitch, Swamp Thing was going to meet Jesus in issue 88,. The cover for that issue would have featured an image of Swamp Thing as the cross where Jesus died. DC decided not to publish it, so Veitch left the title, and not only did fans miss out on that particular stories, but we never saw how Veitch would end his excellent run on the title.

This is another one that I’m hoping we haven’t heard the last of. As noted on the Swamp Thing Annotations site, back in 2004 Veitch said he’d be willing to finish his run on the book and even change parts of #88 deemed too offensive for publication. Heck, if Chris Claremont can pick up the X-Men where he left off, why not have Veitch finish his Swamp Thing run? It doesn’t look like DC is interested, which is too bad; I guess fans will once again have to turn to eBay.

Doc Frankenstein #1

Doc Frankenstein #1

3. Doc Frankenstein: Along with Shaolin Cowboy, Burlyman Entertainment‘s somewhat controversial Doc Frankenstein was written by the Wachowski brothers of The Matrix trilogy and Speed Racer fame. Drawn by Steve Skroce, it detailed the fabled monster’s journey through history, as the immortal being becomes a heroic figure plagued by his own origins. It was a great mix of philosophical ideas, satire and big explosions.

The book started out on a bi-monthly schedule in 2004, then moved to a, what, yearly schedule sometime during its run? As of the end of 2007, six issues have been published, but since then, nothing — we haven’t heard about anything comic-related out of Burlyman or the Wachowski brothers since.

4. Leave It To Chance: Back in the mid-1990s, Starman writer James Robinson and Uncanny X-Men artist Paul Smith created Leave it to Chance, a fun comic about the daughter of a city’s mystical protector. The book was initially part of Wildstorm’s Homage line (which also included Kurt Busiek’s Astro City), then moved to DC when they bought Wildstorm, then returned to Image for its 13th (and, it would turn out, last) issue. (For more on the series, I recommend reading this post from the Holy Heroes blog, which captures the spirit and energy of the comic).

The series ended with several dangling plotlines, not the least of which was the question of whether or not Chance’s father, Lucas Falconer, was really dead or not. There was also a cadre of villains from the previous 12 issues forming a pact to take Chance down. But while issue 13 promises a “next time,” it never came … perhaps Robinson’s Hollywood work prevented him from doing further issues, or maybe sales were low. Dunno. What we do know, however, are two things Robinson revealed at WonderCon: Lucas wasn’t dead, and further issues of this fun series aren’t planned. “We’re never going to publish this, so I can tell you, her father isn’t dead. He was going to be the next falconer,” he said.

from Aqua Leung

from Aqua Leung

5. Aqua Leung: Created by Mark Andrew Smith and Paul Maybury, Aqua Leung was intended to be a series of graphic novels about the forgotten son of the king of Atlantis, a coming-of-age tale about his rise to the throne. Blogger Dick Hyacinth was a fan of the book and sums up his feelings on it nicely:

As for the book itself, it wasn’t without it problems, but there were a number of really terrific moments. I’m not really a fan of mid-brow, ground level type comics, mostly because they seem to lack the energy of the trashier stuff and the sophistication of the artsier stuff. The worst examples end up being uptight but not especially deep (the vast majority of Vertigo’s output springs to mind). However, a strong, art-emphasized approach can yield some very commendable results–I’m thinking Mike Mignola and Eric Powell here. I thought Aqua Leung was in this territory, with the promise of even better things to come.

Unfortunately, there was a disagreement between the two creators over who did what on the book, as was detailed in the comments section of Maybury’s LiveJournal (the specific post appears to no longer be available, but you can find the comments toward the end of this Lying in the Gutters column). It’s a shame not only that their partnership ended, but that it ended in such an unpleasant manner.

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #11

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #11

6. Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.: You might be wondering why I included Nextwave on this list. Didn’t it have an ending? Wasn’t it a 12-issue limited series, and all 12 issues were published? Or wasn’t it canceled, so doesn’t including it on this list violate my rule about not including comics that were officially canceled?

Well, maybe, on that last one. But no, Nextwave wasn’t a mini-series, as writer Warren Ellis noted on his blog a couple of years ago. “To clear up a common misconception: NEXTWAVE was always pitched as an ongoing series. However, my original intent was to do 12 and then pass it on to someone else. This got garbled, somewhere down the chain of communication, and so the first issue or two got solicited as ‘part xxx of 12,’” he wrote.

But did it have an ending? Sure. But let’s go back to the beginning. Nextwave was a brilliant, satirical series from Marvel, written by Ellis, wonderfully drawn by Stuart Immonen and immaculately colored by Dave McCaig. It featured a cast of B- and C-grade Marvel characters, like Machine Man, Monica Rambeau (the former Captain Marvel) and Boom Boom from X-Force fighting a guerrilla war against the Beyond Corporation and their “Unusual Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

Ellis said that the book was doing okay as a monthly, while sales of the first trade were “terrific.” And he was up for doing a second year on the title, but Marvel found that at its current sales levels they could afford to keep Ellis on as writer, but not Immonen as the artist (he went on to draw the higher-profile Ultimate Spider-Man after Nextwave). So yes, I was hesitant to put Nextwave on this list, as I feel like we did get some closure with that last issue. But Ellis also promised we would, indeed, one day have more of Monica, Boom Boom and the rest. “NEXTWAVE #12 will be the last issue of the ongoing series: but there will be more NEXTWAVE to come, presented as a sequence of limited series,” Ellis wrote on his blog.

So sure, closure, but also the promise of more Nextwave. And thus I wait, patiently, for more of this insane and delightful comic.

*****

So there you have it, six titles we were expecting to see more of but for a variety of reasons didn’t. As we saw last week, anything can happen with an old, aborted project, so maybe the final blog posts on all of these comics have yet to be written. No doubt I’ve overlooked some other ones (like Chester Brown’s Underwater, as Chris Mautner suggested, or DC’s Thriller, as Tom Bondurant threw out), so I’d love to hear from the rest of you on other projects you’d like to see finished.

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Funny you used a Barry Windsor Smith illustration for your point about MARVELMAN, ‘cus I can think of a few projects he’s started but never finished I’d love to see completed.

For famous books never-completed, look no further than Planetary, JMS’ Squadron Supreme or Morrison ‘s Authority and Wildcats.

And looks like All-Star Batman and Robin are in limbo as well.

Maybe(?) I’m stupid but I really believe that I’m going to see that final issue of Planetary, sometime within the next year. Or three. In any event it still seems more hopeful than the rest of your list.

To which I would add “The Ballad of Halo Jones,” at some point projected to be three times longer than the published stories. I recall something, a year or two ago(?) about Gibson planning to return and do further stories without Moore, no idea how vaporous that is at this point.

Next let’s do a list of projects which never got past the concept/promotional stage, e.g. Ellis’ “Morning Dragons” series.

The last issue of Stormwatch: Team Achilles immediately comes to mind.

There are a few Image books that were solicited but seem to be in limbo:
Pirates of Coney Island
Gutsville
’76 (’78? it’s been so long, I don’t remember)
Infinite Horizon

I’d like to see some more (a LOT more) of Fell and Casanova while we’re at it.

As well, there’s the situation with Archaia. I’d like to read the rest of The Killer, Inanna’s Tears, and Some New Kind of Slaughter some day. They are all fantastic titles.

Oh yah – King City and East Coast Rising were victims of Tokyopop’s re-structuring.

We may actually see EAST COAST RISING someday, since it’s done. I’d love to see more GUTSVILLE, not sure what the story on that is.

TEAM ACHILLES is a lost cause, since they effectively rebooted with POST-HUMAN DIVISION a couple years back. Pity.

At least we got to see a conclusion to WINTER MEN.

I’d love to see Veitch finish his Maximortal series. It’s my understanding that what saw print was the first third of a trilogy. Would really like to see where he carried it from there.

My best understanding was that [i]Atari Force[/i] was not cancelled due to sales.

I’d love to see what Abnett and Lanning could do with those characters.

I know this is obviously too late, but for years I was holding out hope that Dave Stevens would come back and do some more Rocketeer stories.

And in the whole “if I could re-write reality sense,” it would have been totally awesome to see Kirby do what he really wanted with the 4th World, wouldn’t it have been?

At this point I must cite my usual qualifiers for this designation: Gemini Blood, TimeSpirits, Major Bummer, and Chase.

Also, according to Bob Fleming, plans were underway a couple of years after Thriller was canned to issue a Salvo (“Salvo” being the Punisher-lookalike marksman and angsty guy in the Seven Seconds, Angie Thriller’s brother) miniseries, with Keith Giffen, which would (in theory) lead to a revival of the main comic. Alas, the plans did not crystallize and to this day the Salvotini and the Thriller families remain in their corner of Morrison’s Limbo. And y’know what? Unless Fleming gets to script it, I hope it stays there…and, as always mindful of the old Monkey’s Paw scenario, I’m not sure I’d want to see it return even if RLF participates.

SONIC DISRUPTORS by Mike Baron and Barry Crain

THE SHADOW by Andrew Helfer and Kyle Baker

SUPERMAN (and ACTION) by John Byrne

Another one that I need more of: All-Star Squadron. I need to find out who won the war!

How about some love for Steve Gerber?

Omega the Unknown – His “real” ending was never published (or, in all likelihood, written).
Guardians of the Galaxy – He got yanked off this title halfway through Starhawk’s origin.
Doctor Fate/Countdown to Mystery – Nuff said.

La Cosa Nostroid, a spinoff from Scud: the Disposable Assassin. What starts as a spoof-slash-homage of gangster movies and giant robot gets far darker as it goes on…but the last issue never came. Still waiting.

D’ARC TANGENT was a collaboration between Phil Foglio of Freff in the early part of the black and white boom of the 80s; a great first issue with enough plot threads to support a dozen or more series, then Freff and Foglio had a falling out. A great pity, since there are so many deliciously tantalizing hints of things to come in that first book.

Steve Gerber’s HARD TIME “ended” in an extremely truncated form: The last issue had the protagonist leaving prison and, in flashback, reviewing all that had happened in the 48 years between the penultimate issue and the last one!

Eye of Montgombo by Doug Gray – Fantagraphics 1990. VERY FUNNY!!!!! Only seven issues of this ten-issue mini saw print.

Ten years ago, a friend of mine bought the existing art for Veitch’s Swamp Thing #88 and made me photocopies and it’s pretty cool.. The first third of the issue is inked and lettered, the middle third is just pencilled & lettered (back when there was hand-lettering on the board before sending it to the inker). The final third of the book is loose pencils. Don’t know if there would be interest in opening old wounds, tho’…

MICRA by Lamar Waldron & Ted Boonthanakit. It stopped on a hell of a cliffhanger.

Amen on Sonic Disruptors. Meanwhile, is The Twelve by J. Michael Straczynski joining the club of never-finished? Issue 8 shipped in October and then …

Good call on La Cosa. I had almost forgotten them.

-XENOZOIC TALES, whatever happened to that?
-the extremely short-lived META 4 from from First Comics
- not a comic, the TITANS: GAMES graphic novel

Atlas – Dylan Horrocks

For the Team Achilles Fans, they just suddenly appeared last week as the Back-Up Feature in Wildcats. It’s the first of a 2-part story that I believe will conclude in this week’s Authority. Obviously a 2-part back-up isn’t much, but it was nice to see that they haven’t been completely forgotten by Wildstorm.

Blue Lily (at least I don’t think poor sales killed that one)
Stig’s Inferno

1963!!!

Just checked with Burlyman — more issues of SHAOLIN COWBOY and DOC FRANKENSTEIN are on the way, natch.

I only skimmed through the comments, but… has Alan Moore’s Supreme been mentioned at all? Weren’t there one or two issues that were written but never drawn? If so, are those scripts available anywhere?

I’d also love to know -never mind read- The real Omega The Unknown ending.

Joe Casey’s Wildcats 3.0 had a definite ending planned. There were IIRC, 14-16 issues left when the axe came down.

for me it would be ricks swamp thing run for would love to know how he would have ended his take on swamp thing. also Steve Gerber’s original ending to omega .also would love to see John Byrne finaly finish next men. or his uncompleted galactus story

Marvel killed a lot of great comics like Slingers and the Crew before they really even had a chance. Heck, they cancelled the Crew so quickly that I don’t think it ever really had a chance to FAIL on its own. Gerber’s Omega the Unknown is the earliest example I can think of (though I hear it was bi-monthly so I suppose it at least had a little more time).

I get the impression that happened to Gerber a lot. The end of Hard Time was clearly rushed. Howard the Duck went to heck after his problems with Marvel drove him away. Even the universe itself conspired against him when he died before he had a chance to finish telling his Dr Fate story.

Thunderbolts was a fantastic series about villains pretending to be heroes who became villains trying to become heroes (and, in some cases, heroes who used to be villains). Then Fightbolts came along and threw all that away. Marvel realized their mistake (read: Fightbolts was a huge flop) and brought the series back. Unfortunately the revival only lasted a few years before Marvel used Civil War as an excuse to regress the series back to a story about villains pretending to be heroes. I’d much rather read about Zemo as a villain turned hero (anti-hero? Anti-villain?) than watch Norman Osborn or the new Black Widow or whoever slowly walk the same path all over again.

Speaking of books that lost their way and went to hell, Runaways really should have either continued under BKV and Adrian Alphona or ended with their departure. The Whedon and Ryan stuff was okay but it wasn’t as good as the original run and it certainly wasn’t worth the wait. Everything else (the minis and the Moore run) has been disappointing at best and awful at worst.
.
I really would have loved to have seen what McDuffie would have done with the real Fantastic Four. Instead he was given just enough time to restore the pre-CW team so Millar (the guy who divided the team in CW) could write the real F4. That’s just not right.

I will NEVER buy anything else from Devil’s Due after they dumped their entire Aftermath line without warning. Defex and Breakdown had just ended and they announced that there’d be a handbook-style oneshot and a shared-universe series once Blade of Kumori and Infantry had wrapped up. Instead the comics just vanished without resolution (and I was really liking Casey’s Infantry too).

Considering that the company helped encourage the “wait for the trade” mentality, I can’t help but feel a little cheated that Crossgen only collected the first half of Negation. Then again, considering the company went under before they had a chance to finish the Negation War follow-up mini, I guess I can’t really blame them. I’m under the impression Disney owns the Crossgen stuff now so I doubt any of these stories will ever get a second chance.

Quntum & Woody is a book I discovered in trades long after it ended. I liked what I’ve read but I don’t have all the trades. From what I understand, not only has the series not been traded in its entirety, but the series is unfinished and the numbering actually skipped over several issues between publishers.

Planetary is self-explanatory.

Considering how things went, I’m really glad I didn’t get Morrison’s WildCATs or Authority relaunches.

Gail Simone’s Welcome to Tranquility was a fantastic comic and I’ve heard no news about it since it went on “hiatus”.

Oh, and I’m all for pretending that Kevin Smith’s Black Cat mini never ended. The tonal change between the first three issues and the ridiculously late last three issues was so different that it might as well been by a different writer.

I’d like to see another volume of Eric Wight’s “My Dead Girlfriend.” Only time I ever bought anything from Tokyopop, and it seems like they have no interest in selling me a 2nd volume.

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