DISCLAIMER: The following is the opinion of one Tracie L. Mauk and does not represent the beliefs or opinions of her fellow bloggers and friends at Comicbook Crossfire.
Today Marvel held one of their regular Next Big Thing conference calls breaking the news that November 2011 would see writer Zeb Wells would be joining superstar artist Joe Madureira on an unexpected new ongoing series, Avenging Spider-Man, an in-continuity Marvel Team-Up-like series featuring Spidey teaming up with various fellow avengers for large scale adventures.
This marks the first Marvel work for Madureira since 2008's Ultimates 3 and first "ongoing" since 1998's creator-owned series Battle Chasers. (I am, regrettably, using the term loosely, in that instance)
Your mileage will undoubtedly vary but for this blogger, whose comic fandom and own artistry was dramatically and fundamentally changed when Madureira hit the scene in 1994, the announcement of Wells and Madureira on Spider-Man is more exciting than any one of the 52 new books DC is rolling out in September.
Now, before you even begin to feel the itch to click "reply" and start snarking on how soon before delays start to plague the book or even type the words "video games," stop. I don't want to hear it. I've been listening to that stuff for over a decade and so has he. The creators have had TONS of lead time and I'm sure Joe, as much as anyone, would hate to see this dream gig suffer under delays.
But I don't even want to talk about that, much less think about it. I learned long ago not to worry about that sort of thing and just enjoy what I'm given, when I'm given it. For my money, Joe's artistry is the type that, as long as he is enjoying what he is doing (and you can absolutely tell when he is), he can take as much time as he needs to give us a product he is proud of.
But back to my title remark, this is exactly the kind of move I wanted to see DC roll out when they announced they were going to wipe clean their entire publishing schedule and start fresh with 52 new #1 issues in September. They started strong with the initial announcement that Geoff Johns and Jim Lee would be launching a new Justice League #1. It was an expected move (and something that's been in the rumor mill for around 2 years now), but it was a team book featuring their most popular characters, written and drawn by two of the biggest names in comics. (and chief architects at the company today)
As further announcements started rolling out, they were largely more of the same or sometimes downright perplexing. Why was DC pushing a huge relaunch, grabbing all kinds of headlines and attention, but pulling so many of their punches creatively?
The most startling announcement I can think of offhand was Rob Liefeld returning to Hawk & Dove. And it was startling in a sense that I don't imagine DC was aiming for.
Sure, we get books from top creators like Gail Simone, Grant Morrison, Brian Azzarello, Judd Winick and newer stars like Scott Snyder, Francis Manapul (but can he write?), Cliff Chiang and Jeff Lemire. But they were already doing regular work for DC. Outside of Liefeld, Greg Capullo and Paul Jenkins, where are the big scores from other publishers? (do Ig Gurara and Travel Foreman count?) Where are the hot new indie darlings like Jonathan Hickman or Nick Spencer? You have Josh Fialkov on a shirtless vampire comic but is that going to do it? Nathan Edmondson's getting some great press for Who Is Jake Ellis? but is bringing Grifter into the DC Universe going to raise his star?
Marvel's pairing a talented young writer like Zeb Wells with an artist who was one of the biggest things in comics when he was with the company and whose creator owned series held strong in the Diamond Top 10, despite long delays.
Where's the star power, DC? You seem to be rewarding a lot of, shall we say, underwhelming creators who were delivering the same underwhelming work BEFORE the relaunch, but there have got to be big name creators out there dying to handle some of the most popular and well known characters in the world or those extremely talented writers and artists who're just needing their one shot at the big time to really explode on the scene. (oh--and the women--WHERE ARE THE WOMEN?) Is it too much to want Wednesday Comics quality line-ups tackling these classic comic characters?
It's puzzling to me. Sure there are plenty of DC books I'm going to end up buying or pensively taste testing (I am kind of a slave to the medium) but as much as I hope Grant Morrison gives us All-Star Superman 2.0, that Geoff and Jim make the League feel big and important again, and that Azzarello gives us a Wonder Woman as compelling as Chiang's gorgeous artwork, I can't say that I'm more excited for any of those books than I am to see Wells and Madureira on Spider-Man. And it has nothing to do with being more of a Marvel girl than DC, if they had announced Wells and Mad doing a Bat-book or Teen Titans or even Metamorpho, I'd be just as pumped. (well, okay, I'd probably way more psyched for Spider-Man than Metamorpho, but it'd still be danged cool to see)
Though Madureira at DC would certainly do nothing to shift the I Love the 90's feel and resulting snark directed at these September launches and new DC Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras.
Ah well. Bring me gorgeous double-page spreads of moloids attacking marathon runners while Spider-Man fights alongside Wolverine, Spider-Woman, Hawkeye, and (a) Hulk.