The Comics 8 Ball 2.03.14: Top 8 Comic Book Departures
Posted by Anthony Kennedy on 02.03.2014
From Chris Claremont ending his fourteen year run on X-Men and Frank Miller & Alan Moore going the indie route to Jack Kirby jumping ship to DC and more, 411's Anthony Kennedy counts down the top 8 comic book departures!
Welcome back to the Comic 8 Ball in the Movie Zone!!! Did anything big happen at all this week? Yup WB continues to inspire fanboys net wide by announcing the brilliant casting of Jesse Eisenberg as Superman's arch nemesis Lex Luthor. (sarcasm intended) There's no denying Eisenberg is a very talented actor, note the Academy Award nomination for The Social Network! However fair or foul, he has been typecast as a neurotic, idiot savant uber geek. Can he play this rule? Maybe, as Now You See Me he showed a more devious side, but unfortunately people will always see the mean spirited and hated Mark Zuckerberg role whenever he's on screen. Could this be his breakout role to escape that typecast? Possibly, but this is yet another strike against Zack Synder and his questionable eye for talent. Ironically enough, I had just recently seen another Synder flick, Watchmen. Seeing it a few years later with fresh eyes, I can't help but note the horrible acting performances by some of the cast, particularly Ozymandis and Dr. Manhattan, and often times Nite Owl and Silk Spectre. While Snyder is not the cast directing, he does have some (if not final) say on who is cast and it is his job to get the best performance out of his actors. He failed with such a rich story that was essentially storyboarded for him. Thus why I would totally trust the Eisenberg casting were it Christopher Nolan (say what you will about The Dark Knight Rises it was excellently acted) but in the hands of Snyder, I have no faith whatsoever.
And of course, everyone's favorite industry troll, Bryan Singer, once again, could not let another comic book franchise have the spotlight. Like the unlikable jackass he's becoming, he couldn't let the 25 different X-Men themed covers speak for themselves that were released earlier in the week. Nope when news broke of Eisenberg, he had to get his heat back by releasing a new image from the film showing HIS Quicksilver and what appears to be his, now, baby sister Wanda, the Scarlett Witch. Now before we get ahead of ourselves on this perceived dramatic change to the Maximoff twins mythos, it's important to note that it hasn't been confirmed that indeed is Wanda. But why let facts get in the way of a good rant. The hell is he thinking?!?! I guess it doesn't really affect the characters if they are not twins. We don't know how Singer will portray them. Maybe Wanda's powers will not have manifested themselves by this point or her manifestation plays into the plot somehow and serves as an impetus for his next X-Men film, Apocalypse. But if it doesn't, then damnit, why the hell would you change the source material and not just keep them as twins? As we get closer to Days of Future's Past release, I find myself rooting against it's success and for Singer's demise. There is a such thing as the creative people turning off the mass audience to their "brilliant" work.
Top 8 Departures in Comic Books
The IWC was shocked earlier this week by the sudden departure of CM Punk from the WWE. Regardless of where you land on the debate of him standing up for himself or he's a whiny complainer, no denying this is a huge blow to the WWE and has people wondering about the future of the top off card with him gone. With that uncertainty, it sparked a moment of inspiration as I reflected on some of the more famous writers, artists and creative people who have left comics books they were working on or the publishing house altogether. This week's column is dedicated to CM Punk's whiny move of leaving the WWE by identifying the Top 8 Departures in Comic Books. Enjoy!!!
#8 Stan Lee leaves Marvel
Scenario: After nearly 50 years and being the mastermind behind the Marvel 616 Universe, Stan Lee left Marvel to form an internet and entertainment company, Stan Lee Media. Oh and something call Just Imagine Stan Lee… where he reimagined DC's greatest heroes happened. The less said about that, the better. Did He Return?: As more of an symbolic jester and an ambassador for Marvel. Lee's best creative days were long behind him.
#7 Geoff Johns Tests the Marvel Waters
Scenario:The DC wunderkind responsible for bringing the Wally West Flash into the new millennium along with a great run on JSA, was lured by Marvel to work on The Avengers. Man they tried damn near everybody to make that book work didn't they. Did they Return?: It just wasn't a good fit with Marvel and thankfully he came back just in time to bring Hal Jordan back as GL. I'll forgive him for that.
#6 Grant Morrison switches from JLA to X-Men
Scenario: Nice way to make up for his omission in my last column, eh? No bitter feelings between the artist with the company, Marvel E-I-C decided to make a big splash by raiding the JLA writer to bring his magic touch to the mess that had become the X-Men at the time. Morrison's polarizing revamp of Marvel's merry mutants proved to be a commercial success with the title jumping to the No. 1 quickly and he ultimately left his stamp on the book forever with some bold character storyarcs. Did they Return?: Everybody has a price. After a brief hiatus, Morrison returned to DC and had a much lauded run on Batman along with the amazing All-Star Superman.
#5 The Chris Claremont Era Ends
Scenario: A 14-year run on the highest selling comic of the decade came to an abrupt end as the power struggle that would result in another famous departure yielded its first casualty. In the creative battle between editor Bob Harras, artists Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio who demanded co-writing duties, the artists successfully argued they were more important since they drew amazing artwork that Marvel was getting additional revenue from selling posters and t-shirts. The powers that be relented and Claremont soon left in protest with the extra editorial scrutiny. Did they Return?: Unfortunately, you can't go home again. He returned in 2000 to script both main X-books introducing us to the Neo before being shifted to Xtreme X-Men which got mixed reviews. Like Bill Watts before him at WCW in 1992, too much time away proved too much to overcome from this once great booker.
#4 Frank Miller & Alan Moore Reject the Big Two
Scenario: Two of the most brilliant creative minds of the 80's responsible for classic tales on Superman, Batman, Swamp Thing and Daredevil, ostensibly broke away from the DC and Marvel machines to find huge success and accolades writing independent and creator owned series. Sin City, V for Vendetta, League of Extraordinary Gentleman, and 300 not only saw critical success but became films as well. Amazingly if they had only waited a few years later they could have been apart of the cornerstone that formed Image. Did they Return?: Miller sure did, several times in fact. The disastrous Dark Knight Strikes Again and the "I'm the goddamn Batman" producing All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder. Moore decided he did not play well with the machine.
#3 John Byrne Reboots the Last Son of Krypton
Scenario: Having rebooted their entire universe after the epic Crisis on Infinite Earths maxi-series, DC Comics (yeah they seem to do that a lot) needed to get a huge creative force on board to relaunch their flagship property, Superman. And they got it with Byrne fresh off of his run on the Fantastic Four. What we got was a fresh new take on the Man of Steel that stands somewhat as the definitive origin of Kal-El. Did He Return?: It was a short hit job Bryne did for DC. By 1986 he was already being wooed by Marvel to come back and ended up doing work on Avenger West Coast and a new She-Hulk title.
#2 Jack Kirby Departs for DC
Scenario: The co-creator of the Marvel Universe as we know did the unthinkable. Fed up with forever playing McCartney to his Stan Lee's Lennon, Kirby struck out on his on and took an amazing offer from DC Comics to come on board with more money and total autonomy to create his own characters and dictate the direction of his own universe, while also doing some work on Superman and the Demon. Ultimately his lasting affect would be the creation of the New Gods. Did they Return?: Eventually the King would make amends and return to Marvel in the late 70s.
#1 The Marvel Artists Exodus
Scenario: Todd McFarlane (Spider-Man), Jim Lee (X-Men), Rob Liefeld (X-Force), Erik Larsen (Amazing Spider-Man), Whilce Portacio (Uncanny X-Men), Marc Silvestri (Wolverine), and Jim Valentino (Guardians of the Galaxy) were the golden boys of Marvel ushering a new era of amazing artistry with some of the top selling characters at the time. Soon their artwork was appearing on t-shirts and posters and they wanted a piece of the revenue that their pencils were generating. When Marvel balked beyond standard artists contracts, the unthinkable happen: Marvel's top artists resigned from their books and formed a new independent publishing company, Image. They would go on to create iconic characters Spawn, Supreme, Savage Dragon, while Image itself would be home to The Walking Dead and Wanted along with being the first home to creator owned series Kick Ass and Powers. The industry changed forever with this unprecedented power play.
Did They Return?: A few did, notably Lee and Liefeld for the abysmal Heroes Reborn and Silvestri later during Grant Morrison's New X-Men run. For the most part running an independent publishing company suited them well.
Well that's my list. I'm sure this list will elicit a number of responses and I look forward to reading every one of them. Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Have a great week and don't forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! I'm done.