A post from my long defunct Marvel blog of a decade ago talking about comic books that I edited but which flew a bit under the radar.
I put out a lot of comic books every month–especially when you factor in the books I’m not directly editing myself, but am overseeing (which is just about all of the mainstream Marvel Universe output.) And as with almost everything, there’s a hit-to-miss ratio. Especially when it comes to projects featuring new characters, less mainstream genres or experimental approaches, it’s very easy for some of the very best stuff you do to be overlooked–consigned to the back issue bins of history despite whatever smattering of critical acclaim they might receive. Every editor has at least a couple of these, books they really loved and thought were unique but which for whatever reason failed to catch on with a broad audience. These are the Unknown Greats, and here’s a series on a couple of mine.
THE HOOD has come back into the public consciousness a bit over the past year, thanks to Brian Bendis making the character an important part of his NEW AVENGERS plans, but before that it was a barely-remembered series. Set within the Marvel Universe (at a time when we were more free and easy about mixing the mainstream books with the MAX label), THE HOOD was sort of the Anti-ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, the story of a young hoodlum who lucks into super-powers and how he uses them for his own personal gain.
It was pitched to editor Joe Quesada by Brian K. Vaughan, who at that point was coming off of his run on SWAMP THING. If memory serves, he had sold Y THE LAST MAN to Vertigo, but it had yet to begin coming out, and he’d not yet launched RUNAWAYS. So he was a bit less of a known quantity.
Ironically, Mark Millar and I had done a little bit of development work some years previous on a young villain book called THE SHOCKER, which went nowhere (Mark subsequently incorporated a couple of his ideas from it into WANTED.) So it was a subject matter that I was interested in. And my attention had been brought to Brian’s SWAMP THING work by my once-assistant Gregg Schigiel. So I was up for moving ahead with the project.
The thing I remember the most about THE HOOD was how smoothly it went. After one or two brief conversations concerning the pitch, Brian went off and worked out his story outline, and from there the scripts were like clockwork. Brian was an is an immaculate plotter, so as each script came in, there was precious little that had to be done before handing it over to an artist.
As I recall, Brian was initially hoping we could get Cliff Chiang to draw the series, but he was tied up with a project elsewhere. We explored a whole list of possibilities, finding no love, until I suggested Kyle Hotz, with whom I’d worked a number of times before. A little bit hesitant at the start, Brian came to enjoy collaborating with Kyle.
My other memory of The Hood concerns a specific sort of respect for Brian Vaughan as a creator, based on something that happened shortly after the series came out. As indicated earlier, the book didn’t sell all that well, but the folks up here around the office all really adored it. So Brian came in for a meeting with us to see if we could figure out a strategy in which doing a follow-up would be commercially viable. Marvel President Bill Jemas suggested that all Brian needed to do was to not make the follow-up a MAX book, and that would take care of a lot of the problem (since many retailers stocked lightly on MAX titles because of concerns about the content and their local obscenity laws.) Bill was his typical strong-willed self in this assertion–but Brian refused to go for it. He felt that trying to do the kinds of stories he’d envisioned for THE HOOD in a non-MAX series would have neutered the concept. Now, realize, Brian didn’t have all that much going on for himself in the business at that moment, and this was the President of Marvel speaking to him. But he stood his ground for creative reasons–not belligerently, or disrespectfully, but in the position that such a decision would not allow him to do his best work. That showed a great deal of personal integrity.
Brian and I did subsequently attempt to pull together a PUNISHER VS. THE HOOD limited series (which would have killed the character off, shot dead by the Punisher in the last issue) but somehow it never materialized, and he moved on to better, more profitable things.