Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Today’s Marvel announcement, regarding its intention to utilize CrossGen’s concepts at least partially in an attempt to do “a little more genre publishing” in 2011, was rather lean in terms of details. But don’t think that stopped Michael May and myself from compiling a Six by 6 list of CrossGen series we’d like to see return (in some form) and the folks we’d like to see creating them. As always with these lists, we’d love to read your input for what CrossGen properties and/or creators you’d like to see return in 2011.
1. Sojourn. Remember when everyone loved Greg Land? I do, because Sojourn was my favorite CrossGen series and apparently a lot of other people liked it too since it was one of the last to be canceled by the spiraling company. Arwen was a gorgeous, badass hero with a cool dog and a quest to collect five shards of a magic arrow that could kill the evil sorceror Mordath. It sounds like standard fantasy stuff, but Land’s detailed, realistic artwork (no one accused him of tracing back then) brought it to life. He wasn’t solely responsible for its success though. Ron Marz’s writing elevated the characters and situations from genre cliches to honest tragedy and human stories. I’d love it if Marvel could get him back on the book. Land too, if he can still produce the kind of work he did back in the day. (Michael May)
2. Scion. I had a hard time deciding whether I’d more want to read this or a resurrected Sigil. I’ve already picked a favorite Fantasy series, so it’s tempting to go with the Pulpy Sci Fi one, but Sigil never quite lived up to its potential; changing tone with each writer: first Barb Kesel, then Mark Waid, and finally Chuck Dixon. They all brought interesting things to their stories, but the series never found a definitive voice. Scion, on the other hand, had greater consistency in the hands of Ron Marz and Jim Cheung. And with its medieval, Arthurian inspirations and its focus on family conflicts, warring nations, and slavery, it was very different in tone from the Tolkien-esque Sojourn. Marz and Cheung should get another shot at continuing the story. (Michael May)
3. El Cazador. One of my major problems with CrossGen’s series was their unwillingness to set certain stories on Earth. That’s not an issue for Sci Fi and High Fantasy, obviously, but I kept thinking that I’d enjoy Ruse more if it took place in a steampunked version of London instead of on a whole other planet that just so happened to develop in a similar way to Victorian England. They corrected that problem with El Cazador, setting it in seventeenth-century Earth, but I still had a gripe about the pirate series: it was too much origin story and not enough swashbuckling. The concept of a pirate captain named Lady Sin is awesome, but not when her sole focus in revenging herself on one particular, other pirate. The ocean’s too big for such a limited story, so if Marvel were to bring it back, I’d prefer to see it written by someone with as wild an imagination as say Jeff Parker or Paul Tobin. And just to continue shaking things up, let’s get Kody Chamberlain to draw it. (Michael May)
4. Crux. What first attracted me to this CrossGen series was a chance to see Mark Waid writing a team of heroes, unencumbered by DC or Marvel editorial mandates (granted who would realize Mark Alessi’s mandates would prove far more annoying for Waid…). Looking back at the Crux team, it’s interesting to realize Waid’s utilization of twin brothers (Galvan & Gammid) would be an element he would tap into again with Irredeemable‘s Scylla and Charybdis. While it was Waid’s writing that initially drew me in, it was Steve Epting’s art that made me stick around. Honestly, the plot was almost secondary to the enjoyment I got from Epting’s polished approach on this series. I doubt Waid would be interested in returning to this book after so many years, then again he might be eager to tackle the project without Alessi’s interference. If not, while I know Rosemann is quite busy in his editorial role at Marvel, I wonder if he’d be open to tackling the kind of genre work Marvel has in mind for the CrossGen properties. And given that Rosemann spent some time at CrossGen, he may be uniquely qualified given his past and current experience. In terms of the art, for it to be of any long-term interest to me, they’d have to get Epting onboard. (Tim O’Shea)
5. Ruse. While Simon Archard was the detective/lead of Ruse, the appeal to that series for me was always Emma Bishop, Archard’s “assistant” (an intentional misnomer, given the magical power that she secretly wielded). When I more recently interviewed the initial series writer Mark Waid (he left in the middle of the series to be replaced by Scott Beatty) about BOOM’s detective mystery, The Unknown and its lead character Catherine Allingham, I asked him, if there was a connection between Allingham and Bishop. Waid replied in part: ” Actually, Emma’s more tender than Catherine. Catherine has no time for tenderness.” I was surprised then to find Waid speak of Emma as a character he still clearly had a grasp of (in a compare/contrast manner in this instance, understandably). I don’t know if Waid would be onboard for new Ruse tales, but the book was creatively at its peak when he was writing (and Butch Guice was on art). There was a delightful snark to the banter between Archard and Bishop, which I wish to read again. As Michael pointed out already, in retooling this property it would be great if it was set on some form of a fictional Earth, or anywhere other than where the original series was set. (Tim O’Shea)
6. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. This was a project that CrossGen released in early 2004, as the walls were starting to crash around the company. It was another of the concepts late in the company’s history that had no ties to sigils or the CrossGen universe bible. As Tony Bedard explained in my late 2003 interview (with him and artist Mike Perkins): “Mike came up with this series, the characters, everything, then asked me if I’d like to write it.” While the original project was a 1960s British spy thriller, as evidenced by the current Steve Rogers miniseries–doing a modern day spy thriller is a genre Marvel clearly has enjoyed for a very long time (at least back to Steranko and Nick Fury). Not to be a broken record, but I would only want to see this series revived if Bedard and Perkins were the team to do it. (Tim O’Shea)