Tag: Alex Ross

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    Avengers #1: (Some of) The Gang’s All Here

    Avengers #1

    Once again Marvel has relaunched its flagship Avengers title to chart new territory after its most recent superhero civil war. The names are largely the same, but the faces look a little different.

    In Avengers #1, Thor is here, but it’s Jane Foster, not Odinson. Wasp is in the lineup, but it’s Nadia Pym, not Janet Van Dyne. And, of course, Sam Wilson now wields Captain America’s shield.

    Kang’s Revenge

    Writer Mark Waid wisely chose time-traveler Kang as the villain for this initial story arc. Kang, introduced via the original Avengers title, has proven himself to be a worthy adversary over the years. Kang is seeking revenge on Vision and his teammates in the most fundamental way–by stopping them from ever existing in the first place.

    Marvel’s editors wisely gave artist Mike del Mundo free reign to use splash pages and even two-page spreads to showcase his eye-popping battles. He’s a worthy successor to icon Alex Ross, who drew the issue’s magnificent cover.

    As with many of the recent Marvel Now titles, the issue teases the end of Civil War II, without giving away the goods. We know that Tony Stark is out of the picture. Self-described gazillionaire, Peter Parker is funding the team and providing their headquarters and a new stealth quinjet.


    Will Stark return to the team he helped to found? Will Team Kang will ensure he’s even born? Waid’s solid foundation will provide the answers.

    Avengers #1, Marvel Comics, Released November 2, 2016, Written by Mark Waid, Art by Mike del Mundo, Cover by Alex Ross, $4.99.

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    Review: All New All Different Avengers #14 — It’s Just Quantum Science!

    all new all different avengers #14 review

    all new all different avengers #14 coverThe ANAD Avengers / Civil War II tie-ins (both of them, anyway) have thus far stayed in the peripheral of the main conflict of the crossover. All New All Different Avengers #13 was a character study on The Vision. All New All Different Avengers #14 turns a spotlight on The New Wasp.

    Nadia Pym was introduced as The New Wasp in Free Comic Book Day 2016’s Civil War II. In All New All Different Avengers #9, Nadia arrives at the dilapidated airplane hangar that now serves as the Avengers’ home base. The New Wasp quickly gains the trust of the Avengers by helping to stabilize The Vision, who is suffering lingering effects of Kang’s manipulation from a few issues back. The Avengers head into space to help Nova rescue his father, leaving Jarvis and Nadia behind to go get the original Wasp, Janet Van Dyne’s blessing. When we last see Nadia, Janet, and Jarvis in All New All Different Avengers #12, there is a team of very large men from the Russian Consulate on Janet’s doorstep asking for Nadia.

    In the opening panels of ANAD Avengers #14, the men on Janet Van Dyne’s doorstep who claim to be from the Russian Immigration Bureau turn out to actually be goons from an organization called W.H.I.S.P.E.R. The Wasps team up and are able to quickly dispatch the men before moving on to the conflict at hand, what to do about Inhuman Ulysses’ unreliable visions of the future. Nadia’s naiveté and altruistic nature are exposed as she attempts to apply a purely scientific solution to a problem of human emotion. Science and logic can fix anything, right?

    When I was reading All New All Different Avengers Family Business (issues #9-12), I didn’t understand the timing of Nadia’s introduction. The rest of the team was off in the Negative Zone fighting Annihilus, and the new girl was off on a road trip with the butler. This is the issue I was waiting for. Now it all makes sense. All New All Different Avengers #14 didn’t require much narrative exposition because Mark Waid had already served it up in previous chapters.

    Chapter 14 also serves as a jumping off point for co-author Jeremy Whitely’s upcoming series with artist Elsa Charretier. The Unstoppable Wasp, Nadia Pym’s solo series will debut in early 2017.

    All New All Different Avengers #14, Marvel Comics, Rated T+, released September 7, 2016, written by Mark Waid and Jeremy Whitley, art by Adam Kubert, colors by Sonia Oback, letters by VC’s Cory Petit, cover by Alex Ross, variant cover by Mike McKone and David McCaig, $3.59

    Review by Brendan Allen.

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    Review: All New, All Different Avengers #12

    Review of All New All Different Avengers #12

    All New All Different Avengers #12Nova recently discovered that the man he thought was his father was actually an alien shape-shifter and that his real father was still lost in space. Jarvis took the New Wasp (Nadia, daughter of Hank Pym and his first wife) to meet the Original Wasp, Janet Van Dyne, while the rest of the Avengers left Earth in a busted down, second hand spaceship to assist in Nova’s search for his father. The team was shot down over a desolate planet by a lighthouse powered by a Nega-band.

    On the planet, they discovered other shipwrecked survivors who were being dragged into the Negative Zone by Annihilus, using the Nega-band’s twin to keep a portal open between Planet Shipwreck and the Negative Zone. The Avengers stole Annihilus’ band and were able to escape, but in the chaos didn’t realize they had left Spider-man behind in the Negative Zone.

    In All New All Different Avengers #12, the Avengers face two major problems. Spider-Man is still stranded fighting Annihilus in the Negative Zone, and Annihilus’ Blackstar weapon is near completion and almost ready to rip a hole between the Negative Zone and the Marvel Universe.

    Using the stolen Nega-bands to swap fresh heroes into the fray, the team is able to keep Annihilus at bay while they attempt to destroy the Blackstar. When Thor tries to use Mjolnir to nullify the Blackstar, it bounces harmlessly off the side of the giant positron ray. Brute force isn’t going to destroy the threat. The Avengers will have to come up with a fresh idea, and soon. Tagging in and out isn’t going to work much longer. Fatigue will set in eventually.

    Family Business wraps up with another strong entry. I still feel like the introduction of the New Wasp could have waited for another arc, or she could have been included more in this story. The sidebar sequences of Nadia and Jarvis driving, arriving at Janet Van Dyne’s home, getting on a helicopter… were distracting and didn’t add much to the rest of the story.

    In All New All Different Avengers #13, the team will join the fray in Civil War II.

    All New All Different Avengers #12, Marvel Comics, released July 27, 2016, written by Mark Waid, art by Mahmud Assar, color by Dave McCaig, letters by VC’s Cory Petit, cover by Alex Ross, $3.59

    Review by Brendan Allen

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    Review: All New All Different Avengers #11

    all new all different avengers #11Quick recap: Nova’s dad who was killed turned out to be an alien imposter. Nova wanted time off from his Avengers duties to go search in space for his real dad, but Tony Stark would have none of it. Stark committed the resources of the whole team to go with Nova into space on a rescue mission. The team followed a distress signal to a desolate planet where their junked out, second hand, engineless spaceship was shot down.

    Also, Jarvis and Nadia went on a road trip.

    All New All Different Avengers #11 apparently takes place some time after the end of the last chapter, where we saw the whole team dive into a mystery cloud portal that transported them to the Negative Zone. The kids have since been captured and are being forced to mine…green stuff. All the grown folk have eluded capture.

    Sam Wilson, Iron Man, and Vision are wandering in the Negative Zone wilderness, and Vision doesn’t look so hot. Solar-powered synthezoids don’t do well in antimatter sunlight. Thor is locked in battle with Annihilus, ruler of the Negative Zone, and the pair appear to be evenly matched, causing a stalemate and a lot of questionably necessary banter between the two.

    Mark Waid set this chapter up nicely to highlight the kids’ team and veterans’ team in their individual shining moments, but the two teams will ultimately have to come together as Avengers in order to defeat Annihilus, escape the Negative Zone, and get home. Of course there’s a hitch in the plan. Counting heads in the middle of an epic battle and escape isn’t so easy, it turns out.

    I hope we get back to Earth soon. I really want to know how Jarvis and Nadia’s road trip turned out.

    All New All Different Avengers #11, Marvel Comics, released June 29, 2016, written by Mark Waid, art by Mahmud A. Asrar, colors by Dave McCaig, letters by VC’s Cory Petit, cover by Alex Ross, $3.59

    Review by Brendan Allen

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    Review: All New All Different Avengers #10

    all new all different avengers #10All New All Different Avengers #9 introduced us to a new potential member of the team, the New Wasp, Nadia, daughter of Hank Pym and his first wife Maria Trovaya. Nadia was trained in the Soviet Red Room, and her earliest memories are of a man with a red star on his arm (the Winter Soldier). After discovering that her father, Hank Pym, had apparently sacrificed himself to defeat his creation, Ultron, Nadia went to join the Avengers. So, we have a new Wasp.

    In the second epilogue of All New All Different Avengers #9, we also learn that Nova’s father isn’t really dead. The deceased man Nova thought was his father was actually a shape-shifting alien. His actual father is alive, trapped somewhere in space. Nova asks Iron Man for time off to try to locate and rescue his father, but Iron Man refuses, committing the whole team to assist in the rescue.

    In the opening pages of All New All Different Avengers #10, we find the team aboard a spacecraft that Tony Stark has purchased second hand from Reed Richards, which apparently has no engine and is being propelled through space by Mjölnir. The plan is to use Nova’s helmet to match frequencies with any distress signal that may come from Jesse Alexander’s Nova helmet. The team almost immediately receives a ping.

    Following the signal, The Avengers find themselves marooned on an alien planet, their ship destroyed by a blast of electromagnetic energy coming from a distant tower. Having fallen headlong into a trap, they discover hundreds of other space travelers who followed the similar distress signals to the same fate. The team quickly decides they must travel through a strange portal into certain peril in order to save themselves and the rest of the marooned travelers.

    Meanwhile, back on Earth, Jarvis is taking Nadia to meet her stepmother, Janet van Dyne, the original Wasp. This part seems a little distant from the rest of the action. The Avengers are off planet on a mission. Jarvis and Nadia go on a road trip.

    Issue #10 serves as another solid chapter in this series. Mark Waid’s writing continues to showcase the individual characters’ strengths and abilities, while shoring up the team dynamic. There are plenty of humorous nods in the script, like having Tony Stark, one of the richest guys on the planet, buy a junked out spacecraft with a missing engine for the team to travel in.

    Another tip of the hat goes to Mahmud Asrar and Dave McCaig. The action sequences are amazingly detailed, but somehow the art team keeps the spreads clean and uncluttered. I said it in review of the last issue, that’s an awful lot of bodies (and a heck of a lot of red spandex) to keep separate and distinct.

    All New All Different Avengers #10, Marvel Comics, released June 1, 2016, written by Mark Waid, art by Mahmud Asrar, colors by Dave McCaig, letters by VC’s Cory Petit, cover by Alex Ross, $3.59

    Review by Brendan Allen

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    Review: Kingdom Come 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

    kingdom come 20th anniversary deluxe editionIn June 1996, Alex Ross and Mark Waid gave us Kingdom Come, an Elseworlds four issue comic book miniseries. Ross had the idea for a story that included most of the DC pantheon while he was working on Marvels in 1994. He pitched the story to DC and then teamed with Waid to flesh out the story with Waid’s extensive knowledge of DC’s heroes and their history. Ross envisioned the final product as an allegory for the ethics he saw disappearing in the hero comic stories that were being published in the 1990’s.

    The story takes place many years after Superman has retired from the hero business. We learn in flashback sequences that, years earlier, The Joker had massacred everyone at The Daily Planet, including Lois Lane. The Clown Prince of Crime was then publicly executed by a superhero called Magog. Superman went into exile, unable to wrap his head around the outpouring of public support Magog was receiving for murdering a criminal who was already in custody. With their leader gone, most of the old guard of superheroes also faded into retirement, leaving a void to be filled by a new generation of heroes, led by Magog.

    In the storyline present, with The Man of Tomorrow no longer available to enforce the “no kill” rule, there is little distinction left between superheroes and the villains they face. An overzealous attack led by Magog on the Parasite ends in a catastrophic event that leaves most of the American Midwest in ruins. Millions have died and the food production for much of the United States has been crippled.

    Wonder Woman finds Superman and enlists him to return to Metropolis and re-form the Justice League to reign in the new generation and restore order. Three major factions of supers emerge: The Justice League, many of the old guard superheroes led by Superman; The Outsiders, mostly second and third generation supers led by Batman; and the Mankind Liberation Front, a group of villains led by Lex Luthor. While these super factions are sorting things out amongst themselves through violent means, the ordinary humans are also trying to sort out a solution that will work in their own favor and will end the tyranny suffered under super humans.

    Ross’ artwork is nothing short of breathtaking. Using models and photo reference, he accurately captures the subtlety of a wide range of emotion. Each panel is meticulously hand painted with watercolors. The technique lends itself nicely to a classic and timeless feel. Every panel and gutter is filled with amazing detail.

    Waid’s script weaves seamlessly in and out of multiple layers of storyline and subplot. The dialogue is realistic and genuine. There is a little bit of over explanation of the Biblical undertone by directly quoting the book of Revelation, but overall, Waid does an excellent job bringing the reader along for the ride. For the complexity of the story, you would expect there to be at least a few small “lost” moments, but there are no such moments to be found.

    This edition collects Kingdom Come #1-4 and has 130 pages of extras. The original pencil artwork for every character is shown with an explanation, backstory, and reason for inclusion in the work. There’s also a nice feature called Keys To The Kingdom which details every visual Easter Egg laid by Ross, by page and panel and a chart that shows the Genealogy of Kingdom Come.

    I would easily include this title in my top 10 comic stories of all time, if not my top 3. If you don’t own a copy, you should.

    Kingdom Come 20th Anniversary Deluxe Ed HC: released May 11, 2016, Writer: Mark Waid, Artist: Alex Ross, Colors: Alex Ross, Letters: Todd Klein, $35.99.

    Review by Brendan Allen.

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    Jae Lee Reveals the Secrets to His Masks Cover

    Masks #1 Jae Lee CoverDynamite’s Masks brings classic pulp fiction characters — like Green Hornet, Zorro, and The Shadow — together, but it’s also bringing some excellent cover artists together as well: Masks #1 ships randomly with four different covers by Alex Ross, Francesco Francavilla, Ardian Syaf, and Jae Lee!

    As part of Behind the Masks, we chatted with superstar artist Jae Lee, who has dazzled fans with his work on the Dark Tower and Before Watchmen: Ozymandias series, about the secrets behind his Masks cover, how he approaches his work, and more!

    TFAW.com: What is your personal history with the characters of Masks? Were you a fan?

    Jae Lee: Aside from the Shadow and Green Hornet, I wasn’t familiar with the others. It’s great that Dynamite can bring awareness of these great characters that had long been buried in the sands of time and give new life to them. They deserve it.

    TFAW.com: Your cover for Masks is eerie–it really emphasizes the masks themselves over the individuality of the characters. What was your thought process behind this piece?

    JL: I wanted to create a nightmare vision of them. What criminals dream of when they sleep their unjust sleep. Imagine these guys bearing down on you.

    TFAW.com: Do you have a favorite pulp fiction character?

    JL: The Shadow. Without him, I doubt the long flowing cape would ever have come into play. He’s left an incredible visual legacy that we all follow to this day.

    Masks #1TFAW.com: Who were your favorite artists, growing up?

    JL: Growing up, it would be John Byrne and Mike Zeck. Those were the best times.

    TFAW.com: What are some of the major milestones of your career?

    JL: Any time I can land a new project, I consider that a milestone.

    TFAW.com: Who or what haven’t you drawn yet that you’d love to tackle?

    JL: Superman would be up there. It goes against my style, but I’d like the challenge and it would inspire me to draw in a way I’ve never drawn before.

    TFAW.com: What do you think is the hallmark of a successful cover?

    JL: It has to stand out against the sea of hundreds of other covers trying to do the same thing. It has to be interesting and appealing enough that it would make someone want to pick it up and take a look inside.

    TFAW.com: How do you approach covers? What elements do you focus on?

    JL: I try to create a self contained image that conveys as of the story as possible, and yet will look good enough on its own out of context. And then I want it to be as pretty as possible.

    TFAW.com: What comics are you reading right now?

    JL: Right now, I’m a happy passenger on the Snyder bandwagon. I love what he’s doing with Batman. Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man is also wonderful.

    TFAW.com: What’s next for you?

    JL: Nothing concrete yet. I’m still wrapping up [Before Watchmen:] Ozymandias.

    Our thanks to Jae Lee for the interview! Remember to pre-order Masks #1 now and save 20%. Plus, make sure to check out our special Masks #1 Retailer Exclusive Variant, a steal at $1.99, a 50% discount!



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    Behind the Masks: Alex Ross Talks Dynamite & Pulp Heroes

    Masks ComicsOne of the most exciting things about Dynamite’s upcoming series Masks is Alex Ross’s return to full interior art for the debut issue! Not only will readers be able to enjoy the Green Hornet, Kato, The Shadow, The Spider, and Zorro together in one book, but they’ll see them fully painted by one of comics’ most talented artists.

    We were able to get Ross to step away from his easel for a few moments to answer our questions as part of our Behind the Masks series! Read on to learn more about his role in Masks going forward, what drew him to the series, and how he stays inspired.

    TFAW.com: What’s your personal relationship to the pulp heroes of Masks?

    Alex Ross: I’ve been familiar with a lot of the early radio show characters like The Shadow since I was a child, and also of the artwork that illustrated characters like these from various history books on comics and fantasy. I’m always intrigued with the idea of who came first, and that somehow there’s a special importance to characters that are the first embodiment of what we embrace as the superhero today.

    TFAW.com: You’re painting the entirety of issue #1; what will your role be in Masks going forward?

    AR: Aside from contributing to the main story framework, into which Chris has integrated most of my suggestions, I will continue to do covers and designs where needed.

    TFAW.com: What are your favorite, and least favorite, aspects of doing interior work?

    Masks ComicsAR: I really enjoy getting immersed in a story, but the workload can be very daunting. Consider that a cover illustration is one big composition, focusing on either a single element or a group of elements, whereas a storytelling page has multiple compositions within it, and often a lot of research needs to go into background detail and other elements. These are the necessary parts of telling a story, but they can sometimes be intimidating, so there’s a love/hate relationship I have with doing interiors.

    TFAW.com: Was there a particular character you were especially excited to work on?

    AR: The Shadow was the most appealing to me because of his uniqueness of facial structure. To me it’s fascinating that the first colorful character that launched all superheroes after him has anything but what we could consider idealistic features as the majority do today. I thought it would be an important part of my history to have illustrated him in a full story.

    TFAW.com: Your schedule keeps you incredibly busy; how do you stay inspired?

    AR: I’m lucky to be able to work with comic characters in the first place, because all of these fantastic elements have no other reason to exist than to inspire and seem like fun. There are always compositional things I’ve never attempted yet that I have to learn about, and there’s always more I can do to progress as a painter. I don’t always change up what I do, but I have a chance with each new composition to advance somewhere and certainly try out things that I can learn from others.

    TFAW.com: What does Dynamite offer you that other publishers haven’t?

    AR: I’ve had a strong, easygoing involvement and relationship with them that gives me a voice in what they do with the various properties the company has, as well as very strong oversight in all the books I’m working on, from initial layouts to final color art and lettering. It’s important to be able to see the job through to the furthest extent possible, and it’s nice to know they can allow me that input.

    TFAW.com: Do you have a “bucket list” of characters you want to paint during your lifetime?

    AR: I do in a way, but I’ve also hit more than I ever expected to. I keep thinking that the number of characters I’d like to touch upon are coming to a close, but then some other property that I have a fascination with pops up. It’s not so much that I can provide a list, just that I’m often surprised by the opportunities that I’ve been fortunate enough to have come my way. To date, I’ve worked with almost every fantasy property that affected me from my entire life.

    Our thanks again to Ross for the insightful interview! Make sure to pre-order your copies of Masks #1 and #2 today!


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    Alex Ross Fills Us in on Kirby: Genesis and His Career at Dynamite Entertainment

    Alex Ross Comics and Graphic NovelsYou know an artist must be good when a publication retires an award in his honor–and that’s exactly what happened after fan-favorite Alex Ross dominated Comics Buyer’s Guide Favorite Painter award year after year.

    Ross burst onto the comics scene in 1994 with the now-classic miniseries Marvels, with writer extraordinaire Kurt Busiek. His realistic-yet-luminous paintings took comics to an exciting new level and delighted fans, who eagerly followed him to other landmark superhero epics like Kingdom Come, Astro City (again with Busiek), and Project Superpowers.

    For years, Ross has created distinctive covers and character designs for Dynamite Entertainment, bringing classic characters like Vampirella, Green Hornet, The Phantom, and the Bionic Man to life. Now he’s working with Busiek once again for the ultimate superhero team up, Kirby: Genesis, reviving dozens of Jack Kirby’s characters in a brand-new universe with co-artist Jackson Herbert. We interviewed Ross for Dynamite Month and picked his brain about how he started in comics, whether he’ll ever do interior work again, and what’s coming up next! Read the interview, and then check out TFAW on Facebook to enter a contest to win one of five Green Hornet variant comics signed by Ross!

    TFAW.com: First off, I wanted to say I’m a big fan of your work. I remember when Marvels came out, and it blew me away. It still has a special place in my heart.

    Alex Ross: Thank you.

    Kirby: Genesis #0 Alex Ross CoverTFAW.com: When did you realize you had a love for painting?

    AR: Mostly in art school. I had very little opportunity in high school art class before to learn much about various paint media, so the classes I took in illustration and oil painting helped me see how painting was my best facility as an artist.

    TFAW.com: Did you originally think you’d be able to use your talent to create comics?

    AR: That’s all I thought I would use my “talent” for. I had such respect for the art form and business that I didn’t expect it to be easy to get into, but it was my grandest desire.

    TFAW.com: Your work, in recent years, has focused on creating covers and designing characters. Do you miss doing full interiors?

    AR: Absolutely. There are a lot of things where I would like to be fully immersed in telling the stories I participate with, and hopefully will get back into more storytelling over time. As it is, with all the projects I participate with today, it’s a very full workload, thankfully.

    TFAW.com: How long does it take you to complete a cover?

    AR: Two to three days, depending upon the complexity of the composition and number of figures.

    Bionic Man #2 Alex Ross CoverTFAW.com: What elements do you think about when you create character designs, such as for Bionic Man?

    AR: I’m often looking to connect with first what my greatest inspiration is for the character and content, often with some embrace of the original design and look for a character, first and foremost. Contemporary elements are often influenced by knowing what has been tried in the superhero and sci-fi genres and trying to think of anything that might be somewhat unique to a given take on the characters.

    TFAW.com: With Kirby: Genesis, you’re doing layouts, art direction, and some of the artwork. What’s the experience been like thus far?

    AR: Very satisfying, because I’m working with such an extremely talented artist. I’m a detail freak, so when I hand off a layout to someone who then makes it sharper and more realistic, it gratifies me to see it handled in a way that I would have hoped to do on my own.

    TFAW.com: How does it feel to re-team with Kurt Busiek, who also wrote Marvels?

    AR: Kurt and I have had a steady working relationship for years with Astro City, but this is the most involved in plotting and direct interaction on interiors since Marvels. Kurt has a very strong vision that I can easily respect and concede to, because as I know with Kurt, he’s thinking through absolutely everything. Kurt’s also been very respectful of my instincts, so there’s always been very good give-and-take. I just know I can rely and rest on his efforts in many ways.

    Kirby: Genesis #1 Alex Ross CoverTFAW.com: What’s your process like with co-artist Jackson Herbert?

    AR: Generally, I’m selecting pages out of the script to lay out that introduce new characters and elements that I want to give him the best interpretation through my filter of what Kirby had done or imagined. Often I’m wanting to keep a strong hand in just how the book looks overall, but Jackson’s a spectacular artist who doesn’t really need anyone to lay out anything for him. He is just, fortunately, indulging this heavy hand of mine on this project.

    TFAW.com: Your art really lends itself to grand, cosmic beings, which makes you the ultimate pick to bring Jack Kirby’s characters to life. Were you excited at the prospect?

    AR: Well, we’ve been working on and planning this for some years now. It’s been an enormous liberty to know that we could use just about anything in the family’s library of characters and sketches of Jack’s, helping to take some rough ideas and flesh them out as representing some of the archetypal characters that Jack had created for other publishers. Working on Kirby: Genesis, there isn’t the feeling that we’re missing some grand element that he created and left behind elsewhere. I really feel like I’m getting to play with all the pieces that make up the legacy of Jack Kirby.

    TFAW.com: It would take most artists a lifetime to gather the huge amount of acclaim and respect that you’ve earned in a relatively short timeframe. What do you want to accomplish in the next decade?

    The Last Phantom #9 Alex Ross CoverAR: In some ways, just the survival of the medium is going to be enough of an accomplishment for any of us to be around for or participate in. My greatest hope is to do more in comics–create more stories, hopefully do original creator-owned graphic novels one day. This art form–not necessarily this business–is what I always aspired to be a part of.

    TFAW.com: You’re currently doing a lot of work for Dynamite. What are some of the high points of your career with them?

    AR: I’ve been thrilled to work with many characters that are part of the great legacy of superheroes that don’t belong to the big publishers. There’s obviously a great amount of these left behind in the Golden Age of comics that we revitalized in Project Superpowers, and the freedom to build that world with Dynamite was tremendous fun. Working with other properties, like the Six Million Dollar Man, The Phantom, Flash Gordon, and the upcoming The Shadow, keeps me very charged up creatively.

    TFAW.com: What other projects are you considering right now?

    AR: As I mentioned, The Shadow is in development with my doing some interior work, as well as a new and hopefully even bigger stab at the world of Project Superpowers that we have developed.

    We want to thank Alex Ross for taking the time to answer all of our questions–we’re huge fans! You can find a huge selection of Alex Ross comics and graphic novels here at TFAW.com–save 10-50%! Plus, remember to visit us on Facebook right now to enter our Alex Ross contest–you could win a Green Hornet variant cover signed by the master himself.




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    Kurt Busiek Explains the Evolution of Dynamite’s Kirby: Genesis

    Kirby: Genesis ComicsJacob Kurtzberg, a.k.a. Jack Kirby, is arguably the grandfather of the modern superhero, filling the Silver Age with such rich characters as the Fantastic Four, Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man, the original X-Men, the Silver Surfer, Doctor Doom, Galactus, Magneto, the Inhumans, Black Panther, and many more. So many more, in fact, that years after his death, the Kirby Estate had dozens of characters and designs that were either little used or had never seen the light of day.

    Fortunately for us, Dynamite Entertainment came to an agreement with the Kirby Estate to unearth these characters and give birth to a brand-new superhero universe with Kirby: Genesis, a 10-issue series that will in turn spin off into three more titles: Captain Victory, Silver Star, and Dragonsbane.

    The question is: who on earth can you hand this legacy to with the assurance that they will not only treat Kirby’s creations with respect, but will be able to make something fresh and new out of them? Clearly, you need the talents of Eisner and Harvey Award-winning writer Kurt Busiek, who has more than proven his gift for storytelling with Marvels, with Alex Ross, Avengers Forever, Astro City, Trinity, Conan, and many other series. Fortunately, Dynamite got him, and we got to interview him as part of Dynamite Month. Read on for his thoughtful responses to our questions, and enjoy the five-page preview of Kirby: Genesis #4, out October 26!

    TFAW.com: What was the evolution of Kirby: Genesis, and how did you become involved?

    Kurt Busiek: As I understand it, it started with Nick Barrucci at Dynamite. He started talking to Lisa Kirby and the Kirby Estate, intending to make a deal to revive various of Kirby’s creator-owned characters–mostly the characters we’d seen before, like Captain Victory and Silver Star, but some others as well.

    Kirby: Genesis #4 Page 1Nick roped in Alex Ross, who wasn’t going to turn down the chance to work with Kirby concepts and designs, but they needed a writer to pull it all together, so Alex came to me. I was pretty busy, but the lure of Jack Kirby–and of working with Alex again on more than Astro City covers–was a strong one, and when Alex described a scene he wanted to paint–page 8 of #1, basically–all of a sudden, I could see the story, how it could all work.

    That image Alex described, of the characters we’ve come to call the Pioneer Two, descending over Earth, just triggered the idea in me, that this was a story about ordinary people caught up in huge events as their world changed around them, changing from the ordinary world we know to one full of wonder and surprise and magic and heroes and monsters and more. That’s what hooked me, pulled me in. And that’s when we knew we needed more than just the list of characters Nick was talking with the Estate about. For one thing, the Pioneer Two weren’t on the list–and for another, I’d seen a lot of what else was out there in terms of Kirby concepts, both in places like John Morrow’s Jack Kirby Collector magazine and when I worked on the “Kirbyverse” books at Topps. And for the ideas we were talking about to be made real, we were going to need a lot of stuff, a lot of characters, a huge sweep.

    So we went back to Nick and basically said, “If you can get us everyone, we’re in.” We wanted everything, any Kirby concept or design that hadn’t been sold to Marvel or DC or wasn’t otherwise tied up somewhere.

    The Kirby Estate liked the ideas we had, so Nick made the deal, and off we went!

    TFAW.com: What’s it like to be bringing Jack Kirby’s creations to life?

    KB: It’s an amazing thrill. Kirby’s work is hugely powerful, not just in the sense of dynamic artwork, but in nuance, as well–just looking at a sketch of his, it’s easy to get a sense of humanity from it, or personality, attitude, and so on. The drawings are rich in potential, in ideas. Working on Kirby-created stuff at Marvel and DC is fun, too, but on that stuff, someone else has already gotten to it, developed it their own way, and you’re working with what Kirby did and what everyone who came afterward did. Here, we get to work with pure Kirby, and that’s just a wonderful experience.

    Kirby: Genesis #4 Page 2Naturally, it’d be better if Kirby could have done it himself, but we don’t have that option, so we’re doing our best.

    TFAW.com: How far had Kirby gotten in creating these characters? Were they already complete, or did you flesh them out?

    KB: It varies wildly. There are characters like Captain Victory and Silver Star, who had their own series already, so there’s multiple issues’ worth of material that Kirby completed. Then there’s characters like Galaxy Green, who were on a two-page comics teaser. Or the Secret City characters, who are a set of designs and fairly detailed character profiles. But there are also the Norse heroes–Sigurd, Balduur, and the others–who were designs Kirby came up with for a proposed revamp of Thor that never went anywhere. There are no notes on them, just fully realized portfolio plates. Other characters were series pitches that didn’t come to fruition, so there are sketches and notes, still others are just sketches, or even art pieces Kirby did for his home that as far as we know he never planned to use in stories. We even have a set of costume designs he did for a college production of Julius Caesar.

    So it ranges from fully fleshed-out characters all the way down to sketches that don’t have a name, much less a character description. So we get to work with what’s there, seeing what the designs suggest to us, how they resonate, what feels like a good way to use them, to flesh them out. That’s another part of what makes this book so much fun–it’s the variety. We’re building from Kirby all the time, but how detailed and how much–there’s a lot of creativity involved in bringing this world to life while honoring the source as much as we can.

    TFAW.com: With Alex Ross on board, Kirby: Genesis reminds me of your classic collaboration, Marvels. What resonates with you about “the man on the street collides with superheroes” stories?

    Kirby: Genesis #4 Page 3KB: Part of it’s just me–when I started reading comics, I was fascinated with the universe as much as with the characters, and I wondered what it would be like for ordinary people in a world like that. That’s something that’s never left me, so it’s a perspective I like to use, certainly in projects like Marvels and Astro City, but I did it even before those.

    Part of it comes from that suggestion Alex made–I knew we had a lot of very different characters to work with, and we needed something to pull it all together, give the story a viewpoint and a structure so it wasn’t just a big pile of characters. And when he described that bit with the Pioneer Two, I suddenly realized we needed to approach this story that way, too–see it through the eyes of a normal guy whose world changes around him. That way, as crazy and as overwhelming as it is, the reader gets to sort it out along with him, and understand it as he does.

    And it’s fitting we do that here, because the one piece of storytelling advice Jack Kirby ever gave me, back when I was working on the Topps “Kirbyverse,” was that it didn’t matter how wild or far out or cosmic you got in a story, just as long as your characters reacted to it like human beings would. If you can make the characters feel like they’re having the same reaction that the audience would, then the readers will follow you anywhere. So we took that literally with Kirby: Genesis. We’d give you a guy with his feet on the ground, part of the ordinary mundane world–and he’d be our guide into everything that comes.

    TFAW.com: In Kirby: Genesis, it seems like the “ordinary world” is suddenly exploding with supernatural or otherworldly activity, both from above and underground–like it was waiting to happen. Are there some characters who knew this might be coming?

    KB: Not exactly. If anyone knows, it’s the Pioneer Two, but who they are and what they’ve started is a mystery for Kirby and the others to solve. It’s not even clear whether the Pioneer Two brought all this hidden stuff out into the light, or retroactively created it. Did Silver Star exist, before they came to Earth? Or did they somehow cause him to manifest, along with a complete history that’s now a part of our reality? If you’d gone into that museum a week before all of this started, would Bobbi have even found the Sorcerer’s Book?

    Kirby: Genesis #4 Page 4Was it all waiting to be discovered? Or was it just dreams and fantasies somehow made real? If the Pioneer Two know, they’re not saying–at least, not yet.

    TFAW.com: I love that our “everyman” character is named Kirby. His interactions with Bobbi and Bobbi’s father feel so immediate and real. Are we going to get the know the “super” characters more, too?

    KB: Actually, all three of them are named after Jack Kirby, in one way or another. Bobbi is named for “Bob Brown” and “Jack Cortez,” two pseudonyms Kirby used in the Golden Age, before he settled on “Jack Kirby.” And her father’s name, Jake, is from Kirby’s real name, Jacob. They’re the three main characters he didn’t create, but we wanted a piece of him in each of them.

    As for the “super” characters–at the beginning, Kirby, Bobbi, and Jake don’t know anything about them, so they’re just a welter of new experiences and new ideas, but we get to know them over time, as Kirby and the others come to understand what’s going on. I think by #4 they’re already coming into focus, and they’ll continue to over the course of the series.

    They’re what the world is becoming, and we’re going to get used to it and understand it over time.

    TFAW.com: There are so many characters, so many different types of environments, so many creatures colliding at once–how do you keep track of it all?

    KB: Well, I’ve got a list. And an outline. I know where the story’s going, I know the hidden connections, I know the patterns. So I’m nowhere near as lost as Kirby–I know where his path will lead him, and how everything’s going to fall into place. That makes it a lot easier.

    Kirby: Genesis #4 Page 5That said, there are a lot of characters–a dozen or so main players or groups, and hundreds of drawings and concepts we can draw on as needed–and only so many pages, so there are times I have to say, “Well, I’d hoped to get a bit more of that guy’s story in this issue, but I’ll have to put it off ’til next time,” just so it doesn’t get too crowded.

    That’s one of the reasons we started out thinking Kirby: Genesis would be eight issues long, and then expanded it to 10 issues. So much material!

    TFAW.com: Kirby: Genesis is chock-full of classic superhero moments, but it doesn’t feel dated, or like it’s trying too hard to be retro. What’s your secret?

    KB: I’m not trying to write it as a pastiche.

    The idea here is to build a world that’s modern and fresh and new and involving, using these great ideas, some of which haven’t seen the light of day before, so there’s no reason to treat them as dated. As such, we’re not trying to do this project in Kirby’s style, but to make the best use we can of his ideas and characters in our own way. That’s how he worked, after all. When he was working with concepts that someone else had conceived–whether it was Green Arrow or 2001: A Space Odyssey or The Losers or The Prisoner–he didn’t imitate the style of the people who’d been there before him. He built on the concepts, stayed true to them, but told the stories his way. So we figure the best way to honor his concepts isn’t to try to make it “Kirbyesque,” but simply to try to make it good. To be true to his ideas, but to tell stories our way.

    I could try to write like Jack, but I’m a better Kurt Busiek than I am a fake-Jack. Same for Alex–he’ll bring more power to Kirby’s designs by doing what he does best, rather than trying to do what Jack did best and no one else can duplicate.

    So the result is Kirby concepts and characters with a modern approach. At least, that’s our goal.

    Kirby: Genesis #3TFAW.com: Bobbi’s been possessed by an entity known as the Swan–is this permanent? Will she remain superpowered?

    KB: Good question. Kirby and Jake certainly want her back as Bobbi, but it may not be that easy. We’ll have to see.

    TFAW.com: Was it the plan from the start to have Jackson Herbert and Alex Ross collaborate on the art? Will this continue? It looks incredible thus far.

    KB: It’s working really well, isn’t it? When we started, we knew Alex would be involved in the interior artwork, so we’d need an artist whose style would combine well with Alex’s, but we didn’t know right off who it would be. We actually had four or five different guys do tryout pages, and Jackson’s got him the gig. He and Alex had worked together before, but not quite in this way. As for whether they’ll do more collaborating after Kirby: Genesis, I couldn’t say–but they’re our art team for this whole project, and I’m very glad of it.

    TFAW.com: How far ahead have you plotted?

    KB: It depends. On the one hand, we have a plot outline that takes us all the way through the series, so when you look at it that way, it’s the whole thing. But I’m scrambling to stay ahead of the artists as I write the scripts–at this point, I’m about a third of an issue ahead of Alex, and two-thirds of an issue ahead of Jackson, so viewed that way, the answer’s “Not far enough!” But I’m hoping to pull a little further ahead and get some breathing room. Fingers crossed!

    TFAW.com: Dynamite has several offshoots in the works, including Captain Victory and Silver Star. Will this be their ongoing superhero universe?

    Kirby: Genesis #2KB: It’s certainly the plan to have there be a continuing Kirby line of books at Dynamite. Kirby: Genesis is the launch event, and new books are being brought in alongside it–not too many at once, but I think they’re up to three: Captain Victory, Silver Star and Dragonsbane, which focuses on the Norse heroes. There’s a lot more. I’d love to see a Galaxy Green mini-series, or the Glory Knights in their own book, or Thunderfoot. And even characters you haven’t seen yet, like Dragon Boy.

    Kirby’s library of creations is rich enough to build something really fantastic, so we’ll have to see how it goes.

    TFAW.com: You’ve written for a lot of publishers, including DC, Marvel, and Dark Horse. How do you like working with Dynamite?

    KB: Working with any company is more about the people than the company. And at Dynamite, I get to work with good people–Alex as the main guy I collaborate with, and Joe Rybandt as our editor. It’s always nice to be able to talk to the guy at the top, and Dynamite’s a compact enough company that I’m dealing with Nick directly a lot. Plus, they’ve brought together a terrific team, with Jackson, our colorist Vinicius, and letterer Simon Bowland, who manages to fit my script into the art in some pretty tight spaces.

    It’s funny–Dynamite’s a small company, but the creative team spans three continents, thanks to our all being connected digitally.

    And I can’t complain about company support–Nick’s put a huge amount of energy and effort into promoting Kirby: Genesis, which is the kind of thing any creator wants from his publisher. Nick is a tireless promoter, and I think that’s one of the reasons Dynamite is growing as well as it has been.

    TFAW.com: Are there any superheroes, either classic or new, that you’d like to get your hands on?

    Kirby: Genesis #1KB: A few. But after doing JLA/Avengers and Trinity, I feel like I’ve experienced the Marvel and DC Universes on a grand scale, and then I’ve got a whole superhero universe in Astro City and another building in Kirby: Genesis. So I’ve been up to my ears in superheroes, and it’s almost a question of who I haven’t already written.

    It’d be fun to get a swing at the Fantastic Four someday, or the Legion of Superheroes, or someone off the beaten track like the Shadow or Magnus Robot Fighter or the THUNDER Agents. But at least for now, outside of Astro City and Kirby: Genesis, I’m trying to focus on non-superhero stuff as well, including The Witchlands, which is still in the works, and the long-awaited sequel to Arrowsmith.

    I’m sure there’ll come a time when I want more superheroes in my life, but I like variety, too. So I want to keep mixing it up.

    Our sincere thanks to Kurt Busiek for a truly heroic interview. You can browse all of the Kirby: Genesis comics right here on TFAW and save 10-35%. Plus, through 10/31, save 35% on all of Dynamite’s October-catalog comics and graphic novels!



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