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Alternate Cover - 24th January 2007

Alternate Cover

This week, at Seb's suggestion, the lead feature is going to be something I'll be calling "My Fantasy Comic", only slightly stealing the title of one of Alternate Cover's sister NTS features. In this one, Seb and I choose some comics that don't exist and explain both why they should and who we'd want working on them. Featured are my wild ideas, Lost: The Comic and the even more poorly-conceived Spider-Force, as well as Seb's Blue and Gold, Doctor Who, and Tim Hunter Investigates. If it's reviews you're after, capsules are available below the main feature, as ever.


Publisher DC • Writers Keith Giffen & J.M. deMatteis • Artist Kevin Maguire

I'm not the first person to think of an idea like this; heck, I'm not even the first person to think of the title. Not by a long shot, either. But that's irrelevant - point is, this is a book I badly want to see happen.

Giffen/deMatteis' hilarious Justice League International run - in my opinion, one of the finest comics runs by any writer on any title - had many, many things about which to commend it, but most of the high points came from the relationship between Ted "Blue Beetle" Kord and Michael "Booster Gold" Carter. A brilliant comic pairing, these two bickered and sniped their way through the entire run - and the wonderful sequel series Formerly Known As The Justice League - while remaining the sort of buddies you knew always had each other's backs when it came to it. However, in moves that many old-school JLI fans are calling a conspiracy against all that is good and pure, DC have acted in such a way as to make future comics featuring this pairing - and indeed, the entire team - impossible. Blue Beetle was killed off in Countdown to Infinite Crisis (his replacement, Jaime Reyes, is a promising character in a so far excellent series - but it's still not the same), while Booster Gold has had a big part to play in 52 (see below!) and we're not even sure if he'll make it out the other side.

As one of the most beloved buddy pairings in comics, though, there are many of us who would still dearly love to see a title that focused on the adventures (and misadventures) of Beetle and Booster - and if FKATJL and its sequel I Can't Believe It's Not The Justice League showed anything, it's that Giffen and JMdM (and artist Kevin Maguire) can still do a lot with these characters. Yet to reverse these changes - particularly Ted's death, which was a prime catalyst in the DCU events since - while it would make fans (myself included) happy to have our favourites back, would also cheapen the original events.

So how about a flashback series, out of current continuity, that tells "missing" Beetle and Booster stories from either during, or after, their Justice League days? Filled with the wit, charm, characterisation and downright brilliance of those (particularly the early) JLI days, this could be as much of a smash hit as FKATJL was, appeasing the Beetle & Booster fans who want more stories about their beloved characters, without having to mess with current continuity. And let's not forget the potential for guest appearances from the likes of Guy Gardner and Batman...
(Seb Patrick)


Publisher Marvel • Writer Peter David • Artist John Romita Jr.

My 14-year old mind first conceived this idea when I was playing on the Spider-Man Cartoon Maker. Originally, it was a kind of X-Force meets Spider-Man - that is, what if Spider-Man clubbed together with his mates and decided to be more proactive about rounding up villains. I can see you're cringing already. However, it may be that even the worst of 90s-formed ideas can be saved by a good execution, so let's see if we can make this into something workable.

Using her family's fortune, Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat, enlists the help of Spider-Man to assemble a crime-fighting base to help handle things on a larger scale than either of them could alone - after all, the Avengers and Fantastic Four can't always be there, so someone else should have the necessary data and equipment ready for the next time the Kree decide to attack New York.

The pair enlist the help of several Spider-Man allies. Leading the team is Spidey himself, though his position as Felicia's "employee" often leads him into conflict with her about the direction of their endeavour. Incorporated into the lineup for his technical genius would be Abner Jenkins, former villain and more recent Thunderbolt - neither Felicia nor Spidey trust him fully because of his past, but they need someone with expertise to design their vehicles and weapons. He remains in the role of technician, until circumstances force him back into the Beetle armour and onto the team. Jessica Drew joins the team as, let's face it, the one true Spider-Woman, included because her powers are far greater than the others, and, as Spidey himself would put it - she fits the naming of the team.

The final member in the initial lineup would be, naturally, Venom. Back in control of his old symbiote, Eddie Brock would be the first villain faced by the team. Beaten into submission by Spider-Man and brought under control by Spider-Woman's pheremone powers, Venom remains voluntarily caged at the Spider-Base in order to prove his desire to do good to the others. Venom is released only when circumstances dictate the need for an unpredictable heavy-hitter, and often causes more trouble than he prevents - everyone's got their own opinion on him being on the team, and his involvement only provides more ammunition for J. Jonah Jameson at the bugle to prove that Spider-Man's gone bad.

Creators would be veteran Spider-Man creators, John Romita Jr. whose art has the dark, chaotic tone necessary for this title, and writing would come from Peter David, whose work proves time and time again that he can mix humour and complex inter-personal relationships with a dark edge. It's everything Spider-Man is, only riskier and more dangerous!
(James Hunt)


Publisher Marvel • Writer Paul Cornell • Artist Bryan Hitch

There are, of course, already Doctor Who comic strips running at the moment; but the Ninth/Tenth Doctor stories running in Doctor Who Magazine have generally been "good" rather than "great" (sadly nowhere near the standards set by some of the cracking Eighth Doctor stories from the preceding decade), and the less said about the kid-friendly ones from Doctor Who Adventures and the annuals the better, really. No, with the status the revived series currently holds, what we really need is an A-list publisher and some A-list talent to put a proper monthly title out to the US direct market. Marvel have had strong links with Who ever since the franchise's first steps into the medium, with Marvel UK publishing classic stories in the '70s and '80s from such luminaries as Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and Grant Morrison. In addition, the UK division - now part of Panini - still publish DWM to this day. So when it comes to getting the license for full-on, direct market comics, it's a no-brainer that Marvel could seal the deal. Which is useful, really, since the two creators that would seem best-suited to taking on the task are currently working with Marvel.

Click for full version
Fake Doctor Who comic cover, by Seb Patrick

Paul Cornell ticks just about all the boxes - he's a writer on the new series (and a good one, to boot), as well a fan-turned-novelist of top drawer standard (one of the founder writers of Virgin's New Adventures, he created popular companion-gone-solo Bernice Summerfield). He's also a big comics geek, and has taken his first step into the American industry with Marvel's Wisdom. His connections to RTD and the current series would ensure some form of continuity - and, perhaps, even canon status - and he could knock out good stories for it in his sleep. Bryan Hitch, meanwhile, hardly needs his comics clout outlining, and his Who credentials stack up rather nicely as well - a conceptual artist on the first series, his biggest contribution was designing the current TARDIS interior. His realistic pencilled style, honed to perfection in The Ultimates, would be ideal for capturing the likenesses of Tennant et al.

The series would initially launch by telling Tenth Doctor stories that, much like the tie-in novels, could fit around the continuity of the series. However, were the series to be a success, Marvel could then unleash the second big gun - Doctor Who Legends, a series of past Doctor stories (with rotating creative teams) that would focus initially on the Eighth and Ninth Doctors, but would also eventually feature tales of the preceding seven. And who knows, this might even be the medium in which the story of the Time War is finally told...
(Seb Patrick)


Publisher IDW • Writers Scott Lobdell & Damon Lindelof • Artist Mike Deodato

Now, again, this might sound like a terrible idea. The problem with licensed comics has always been the inability of the title to feel as if it's actually affecting the TV series. However, even in a series with the plot-heavy focus Lost, there are plenty of ways to approach the material in such a way as to make it interesting and compelling, and tying into the show and affecting it without contradicting it.

Consider the fact that in the Lost plane crash, there were far more survivors than have so far been introduced. Chances are, we're going to stick with the bulk of the core cast throughout the series' run. Now consider that for every decision those characters make, there are a bunch people being affected that we don't see. The comic could, taking its cues from Lindelof, show a kind of "behind the scenes" version of Lost explaining who some of these characters are and how the actions of the main cast affects their time on the island. How much did they really know about the hatch, for instance, and how much do they know about the others? What do they think of the power structure on the island? It's a topic briefly touched on in the main series, but with the wider canvas of a comic, anything could be done, and frequent "crossunders" with the TV Show's cast as they move between scenes would keep things interesting to the TV audience.

Scott Lobdell would provide the scripts, each of them single-issue stories centring around certain events as seen in the proper series, and utilising the dual-narrative flashback format that's made Lost so deeply hated by millions of people who confuse structure with unoriginality. Lobdell's never been much of a plot man, but with existing events to base his work on, he can focus on the things that he was always the best for - simple-yet-deep character moments and sharp dialogue. Deodato would be great for art as someone who can do mood and detail and make the fantastical seem realistic.

I don't buy licensed comics, but damn it if I wouldn't buy this.
(James Hunt)


Publisher DC Vertigo • Writer Peter Hogan • Artists Steve Dillon / Ryan Sook

This one, I think, is really just about getting certain creators working on characters that I want to see them working on. Peter Hogan was one of the most underrated writers of the early Vertigo boom period, turning in some excellent Dreaming stories that were sadly overshadowed by the awfulness of Caitlin R. Kiernan's efforts, and writing the fondly nostalgic Sandman Presents miniseries Love Street (featuring a 16-year-old John Constantine). I've always felt he should get a proper crack at writing Constantine, and that it's a crying shame that he's never been given Hellblazer.

My idea for Tim Hunter Investigates, therefore, is to make use of a character who has never really been used in a way that adequately fulfils the potential of Gaiman's original miniseries, and to have a series of stories that feature interactions between DC/Vertigo's rich cast of magic-based characters. In particular, Constantine and Zatanna - the two main supporting characters in this title - never get anything like the page time together that they clearly should. The basic setup for this, therefore, is that one-time child prodigy magician Tim, now in his late teens, runs some form of private investigation agency, looking into strange cases that involve magic or magicians in some way. Along the way, he'd interact with - and rely on the support of - friends such as JC and Zee, in addition to encountering various other DCU magicians and mystics. It'd be a way of bringing Hunter back front and centre - and, divorced from the continuity of Hellblazer (there'd be no real need to refer to current happenings, though obviously JC would share the parent title's basic history), it'd be a way of bringing some of these Vertigo characters back in line with the DCU, their removal being something I was never really happy with (two of the flagship Vertigo titles, Sandman and Animal Man, were both clearly meant to take place in the DCU, a fact that - in the case of Sandman in particular - is often forgotten).

For art, we begin by rotating the arcs between the guy who does the definitive Constantine - Steve Dillon - and the guy who did a fantastic Zatanna on his first try and whose style could really be expanded and challenged by doing another non-superhero book - Ryan Sook. But expect to see guest artists such as Steve Parkhouse brought in for the odd one-off issue or storyline, as well.
(Seb Patrick)

Flick-Through Reviews

52 Week Thirty-Seven - Morrison/Johns/Rucka/Waid/Giffen/Oliffe
Yeeeeesssssss. The identity of Supernova is finally revealed, but the rare example of DC actually going with the option that makes perfect sense isn't what makes this issue so great - it's the nature of the reveal, the explanation of the reasons, the fact that there have been clues and hints to this right back since day one. Such things demonstrate how 52, while patchy at times in execution, has been an unqualified success in bringing a new kind of almost televisual storytelling to the superhero industry - this is a plot point that rewards those of us who've stuck with the series week in, week out. Meanwhile, we get another (rare, but always welcome) glimpse at some more of the DCU's big hitters' "year-off" activities, and after a surprise twist to last issue's ending, the craziness ramps up with the appearance of two beings from one of the greatest author-led runs in comics history that we never expected to see in the DCU again. Art chores are, as ever, competent rather than inspiring, but Pat Spider-Girl Oliffe is a pleasantly surprising name to see crop up. But 52 isn't about technical brilliance, it's about the thrill of the interconnecting storylines - and as an "event", it's really showing Civil War and Infinite Crisis a thing or two. Roll on the final quarter-year!

Fantastic Four #542 - McDuffie/McKone
Finally. Straczynski leaves a title. My prayers are answered. McDuffie, despite being something of an unknown quantity to me, manages to undo a fair amount of the bad characterisation that's been plaguing Reed Richards throughout Civil War by giving Reed an IN-CHARACTER reason to be supporting the registration act, rather than inventing some highly unbelievable reasons. See, Marvel, For 7 months now, that's all we've wanted! He also does a really excellent one of those all-too-rare Johnny/Reed scenes.

Transformers Spotlight: Ultra Magnus - Furman/Musso
For no better reason than the fact I was given the toy one Birthday/Christmas when I was a child, Ultra Magnus has been one of my favourite characters. I say "characters" but despite the fact that Optimus Fucking Prime himself saw fit to make the holder of the Matrix on his deathbed, the character of Magnus has rarely been well-defined. He's often more boring that Leonardo and Cyclops combined. Despite a brief appearance in the Dreamwave G1 series, and a couple of scenes in the canned third War Within miniseries, he's been somewhat marginalised. I was especially glad, then, to see this issue on the shelves, aimed squarely at me, the one person with an Ultra Magnus fanboy problem, and to find that it turns the character into something of a badass one-man interstellar police force. His sense of duty is there, but he's willing to do what needs to be done. Ultra Magnus as the Transformers Jack Bauer? Fuck yeah.

About this entry


the tytyfrfteyfhfyfhvhv vbhv

By Anonymous
January 27, 2007 @ 1:53 pm

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That's just what I was thinking.

By Seb
January 28, 2007 @ 11:34 pm

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pharmacy technician

By pharmacy technician
February 03, 2007 @ 9:13 pm

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>pharmacy technician

Quoted for truth. Amazing summation of the topic, there.

By Arlene Rimmer BSc, SSc
February 04, 2007 @ 8:40 am

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