Blah Blah Blog – Reader Questions 9

Another long-in-the-tooth post from my old Marvel blog in which I answer questions that have been posed to me by the fans.

Reader Questions 9

September 25, 2009 | 1:00 AM | By Tom_Brevoort | In General

I think we’ve got maybe two more posts worth of Reader Questions left to answer. So let’s get down to it:

>Have you ever (at any stage in your career) had a writer or artist that was difficult to work with, because they were a star and used that as an excuse to ignore your editorial input?

Posted by dingogary on 2009-08-28 01:02:01>

I’ve had one or two guys who’ve tried, certainly, but those relationships didn’t tend to last long. However, there are two components to this that are worth bearing in mind. The first is that creators who have some star-power have typically earned it, and have a commensurate amount of skill and talent at what they do, so their point of view should never be disregarded. On the flipside, I’ve been doing this for quite a while as well, and so I’d hope that my tenure and track record would accord me the same respect from the creators I work with. But nobody is right 100% of the time, not editors and not creators. Everybody can benefit from another point of view. The best creative relationships I have are the ones in which, when the creator says, “Trust me, I can make this work”, I feel like I can, and when I say, “Look, trust me, this isn’t going to work”, they take me seriously.

>New question: I’ve recently been re-reading a lot of the Clone Saga stories, and what strikes me is that its greatest weakness could also be very helpful today. There were a lot of “filler” arcs which were completely superfluous to the main story (and to be honest, often not very good). So if they wanted to collect the Clone Saga in trade paperbacks today, they could probably do selective collections of just the important story arcs, and skip a lot of the stuff in-between. Do you think that would work?

Posted by CylverSaber on 2009-08-28 08:41:34>

I don’t know, I think the people who are truly interested in that period in Spidey history would rather have it all, especially since there were constant subplots with the supporting cast and the villains that would also jump around were you to only focus on doing a “greatest hits” sort of a collection. I also think there’d be some dispute among readers as to which stories were the bad ones that deserve to be left out. No, my instinct would be, if we were going to reprint the Clone Saga years, to do it along the lines of the ONSLAUGHT collections, and include everything, at least from the core titles.

>I was thinking of some of the significant events in the Marvel Universe. And sometimes (and for whatever reason) there is little to be said in the original explanation of how these events occur. It would be nice if Marvel could start a line of comics that focus specifically on why certain events happened. Take for example the origin of Blastaar in FF #62. We know he’s a menace, but we have absolutely no idea why he was brought to the exploding area. What conflicts was he involved in? Had he challenged Annihilus for his throne? Cosmic control rod? Or was Blastaar in conflict with subjects from his own kingdom? Perhaps this aspect of Blastaar’s origin has been covered elsewhere in the MU canon, and I’ve just missed it. But I think you can see from this one example, Tom, that going back in time and filling in the gaps could do a lot to shed light on interesting characters and interesting moments in MU history. I think Joe Casey and Chris Weston attempted this with the FF’s origin. So my idea is not new. However, where my idea differs is in the application. Rather than have random mini-series that come out from time-to-time, why not have an entire series devoted to this concept. If you and the rest of the brain-trust at Marvel put your minds to it, I’m sure enough creative synergy could produce a long running and very fascinating series. What to call it? Well, my idea isn’t really a “What-If” as much as it is a “What Actually Happened?” or “What Really Happened?” concept. And I think better titles can be crafted based on my idea.

Posted by Mon Morn Lunatic on 2009-08-28 09:52:52>

At one point a number of years ago, we did some limited development work on a fifth week event along these lines. It was going to be called “Missing Links”, and the intention was to bridge the gaps in storytelling that some of the more extreme publishing changes of direction we were subjected to had caused to happen. The problem with this approach quickly became apparent, though: these are, by nature, very “inside baseball” stories, ones that only truly have relevance to the minority of fans who read the original stories and are still bothered by these seeming discontinuities. In the case of something like FIRST FAMILY that Joe Casey and Chris Weston did, as that book turns on the origin of the Fantastic Four, you can theoretically read it without having read any of the early FF stories and still find a tale that works and is compelling. Something like that is a lot easier to grapple with than instances that fill in the minutiae of other stories. (In the case of Blastaar, though, we just did a story about his background that covers some of your questions above in the first issue of WAR OF KINGS: WARRIORS a month or two back.

>What is happening with a new Alpha Flight series? A long time ago we were told there would be news in December ’08, then it was changed to January ’09, then it was changed to sometime mid ’09 yet there is still nothing. In fact the only answer I’ve ever seen (from Joe Q himself) was there were no plans as there hasn’t been a good proposal! Is anything happening to do with a new Alpha Flight series? >

ALPHA FLIGHT is a tough nut to crack, and in all honesty we haven’t quite cracked it yet. So at the moment, there isn’t any active ALPHA FLIGHT series in development. The problem with ALPHA FLIGHT is that the two things that really drove interest in them in their earliest years were the fact that they were these exciting, mysterious new characters who mixed it up with the X-Men (and in some ways resembled them as regards the tenor of their team), and the fact that their series was being written and drawn by John Byrne at the height of his powers and popularity. But when you drill down, the core concept of the series is based on geography, which is very limiting-they’re like the Avengers, but in Canada. Different people have tried over the years to find another hook for the team beyond their homeland, but none of them have quite taken-and part of the fallout from that wrangling is that the individual characters who made up Alpha Flight have become increasingly complicated and convoluted over the years. So they’re no longer fresh and new and vibrant either. There’s always been a decent amount of nostalgia attached to Alpha Flight, and there’s something cool both about the team name and many of the original team members. But until somebody can find that new core concept that gives them some unique turf to stand on in the Marvel cosmology in a way that makes them fascinating to a wider assortment of readers, they’re going to remain largely on the back bench, I fear.

>Has AF been written off for good and should I stop wasting any more time waiting?

Posted by Legerd on 2009-08-28 14:09:07>

No, we haven’t written off Alpha Flight for good. As I explained above, though, there’s more to the problem than just putting out a series. Eventually, inevitably, somebody will come up with an idea that we think might work, or that will cast them in a new role, and we’ll be ready to go. But a number of people have taken a stab at it over the last decade or so, and we haven’t found it yet. Doesn’t mean we’re not open to it happening, though!

>So Tom where do you see yourself 5 years from now? >

Still answering these Reader Questions, way I’m going.

>Where do you see Marvel comics 5 years from now?

Posted by izzatrix on 2009-08-28 14:48:00>

Especially with the looming Disney issues, I don’t know that there’s much of anything I can say concretely about this. In general, though, I’d expect to see the Marvel characters continuing to expand their influence in other media in an assortment of ways. And I’d bet my bottom dollar that there’ll by then be some manner of affordable color portable digital reader that will allow for direct downloading and reading of comics from Marvel-not replacing the print comics necessarily, but as another major delivery system, in the same way that Trade Paperbacks got our stories into the hands of many more people.

>where the hell is crystar the crystal warrior

Posted by jjayj75 on 2009-08-29 00:56:15>

Waiting for his chance to join Alpha Flight…

>Hi Tom,

Iron Man: Femme Fatales is now in print and is hitting shelves even as we speak. The official street date is next Tuesday, the 29th. As you know, Marvel never plugs licensed books in print or on their website and DelRey has done minimal marketing for the title.

So rather than let it arrive and be ignored, I’m trying to generate some attention. Any chance you might be willing to give it a plug via your blog?

Many thanks for your consideration.

Bob Greenberger>

Absolutely no chance, Bob. Nor will I post an image of the cover at the left, nor reproduce the sell-copy you forwarded me below:


Millionaire industrialist Tony Stark has rejected the lucrative munitions trade that put his company on the map. But he can’t just turn away when the antiterror organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. asks him for help in its battle against the sinister forces of HYDRA. As the next step in its quest for global domination, the international terrorist cabal is plotting to use cutting-edge technology in a devastating attack on New York City.

The source of their advanced weaponry: Stark Industries.

Against such fearsome firepower, the city’s only hope lies with the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and with the ultimate human weapon: the golden avenger known as Iron Man. But when the man behind the metal mask falls prey to the schemes of two tantalizing temptresses, both as stunning and seductive as they are lethal, a fatal chink in his armor is revealed-a flaw that could lead to his downfall and the city’s doom.

More later,

Tom B

One thought on “Blah Blah Blog – Reader Questions 9

  1. You made a good call on the Clone Saga. I’m often frustrated by crossover TPB collections which have only part of the story.
    On Alpha Flight, being Canadian is part of what makes them stand out for me. The idea of them as some kind of Earth defense force doesn’t feel Alpha Flight at all. I think I’m in general more skeptical about radical super-team reboots than individual superheroes. This is purely a matter of taste, and obviously on AF I’m in the minority.
    The web comic Spinnerette has a number of Canadian superheroes but I doubt “The Werewolf of London Ontario” and the like would work in a serious superhero book.


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