Marvel’s Strange Tales

I love  a good anthology, and like DC’s Bizarro World book from a few years ago, we now have one from Marvel, with indie creators tackling superhero icons. Strange Tales debuts in September as part of Marvel’s mature MAX line, and includes Peter Bagge’s much delayed The Incorrigible Hulk story. Press release below.

Strange Tales #1Marvel Comics is proud to announce the release of Strange Tales MAX #1 (of 3) in September 2009, featuring the most acclaimed creators in independent comics today! This landmark three issue limited series, overflowing with 48 pages of all new stories, features your favorite Marvel heroes—from Spider-Man to the Hulk—like you’ve never seem them before! Paul Pope, Peter Bagge, Molly Crabapple & John Leavitt, Junko Mizuno, Dash Shaw, James Kochalka, Johnny Ryan, Michael Kupperman, Nick Bertozzi, Nicholas Gurewich, Jason and more unite for the all-new Strange Tales MAX!

Just what does Peter Bagge have planned in “The Incorrigible Hulk”, a story so incredible that we had to serialize it over all three issues? Will Spider-Man make it out alive of Jason’s thrilling story? This first issue comes wrapped in a marvel-ous cover by Paul Pope and Jose Villarubia!

“Flat out, this is the apex of human artistic achievement. This is it. The end. The crowning result of tens of millions of years of evolution, right here, in three packed-to-the-gills issues,” said Editor John Barber. “The philosophy of the book was to have these creators from ‘indy’ or ‘alternative’ or “literary” or ‘art’ comics come in and do what they do best. I think Marvel readers will really dig seeing radically different versions of their favorite characters, and the fans of these cartoonists will get to see the creators work in a milieu they never thought they’d get to see. It’s win-win. It’s really the best of both worlds.”

Editor Jody LeHeup added, “This book is a metric ton of solid gold awesome. The talent we’ve got lined up are without hyperbole some of the greatest creative minds working in comics today. I mean, who wouldn’t want to read a Spider-Man story by Jason? Or an Iron man story by Tony Millionaire? Or anything by any of the contributors we’ve got attached to the project? I’ve been reading independent comics my whole life and I’ve always wanted to see what those creators could do with Marvel characters if they were given free reign to tell their stories. Well, now that vision’s becoming a reality and I can’t tell you what an incredibly special thing it is to see the final result. If you’re a fan of comics of any school, do yourself a favor and pick this up.”

Now’s your chance to experience the Marvel Universe through the eyes of the best and brightest indie talents! Don’t miss Strange Tales MAX #1 in stores this fall!

Kevin J. Anderson Interview

Enemies and Allies CoverHis name may be familiar to some, thanks to all the Star Wars novels he has written, but he’s also written his own works, plus novels set in the world of Dune, and even a few comics. I recently finished his book, The Last Days of Krypton, which is about , well, the last days of Krypton. I was pretty impressed by it. There’s a few things that puzzled me, such as a few grammatical errors and the use of other characters names instead of Non and Ursa. You may remember those characters primarily from the first two Superman films starring Christopher Reeve. Perhaps due to copyright reasons, their names are changed, but their personalities are clearly those of the fesity woman and brute mute. No-one but hardcore Superman fans will notice however, and the replacement names Aethyr and Nam-Ek belong to a pair of characters from earlier episodes of Smallville, taken from the comics from decades ago. However, it’s not a biggie really. General Zod is a manipulating genius who uses fear tactics to get what he wants after Braniac shows up and takes the whole city of Kandor away. The budding romance between respected (for the most part) scientist Jor-El and artist Lara is handled beautifully. The age difference between the pair and the fact that they’re newlyweds before shuttling their baby Kal-El off to Earth seemed somewhat unusual, but only because I’ve never seen them portrayed that way before. 

Last Days of KryptonThis is a book for Superman fans, or at least those vaguely aware of the character’s origins. Anderson is a good writer, and I felt at times like I wanted to wring the necks of the stuffy Council for ignoring Jor-El’s pleas and ultimately giving rise to Zod’s megalomania. Most of the characters are fully developed, though Anderson has the uncanny need to describe everyones hairstyles. He does take this vague knowledge of Superman’s distant origins and throw in nice cameos such as the Phantom Zone, and Martian Manhunter, and even hints at the Green Lantern Corps. Comics scribe Geoff Johns has taken these concepts and run with them with his Last Son arc and the more recent New World of Krypton maxi-series that has most of these characters appear once more. Plus the cover by Fables cover artist James Jean is grand. If Warner Bros. ever wise up and give writer Mark Millar his dream job of creating a Superman film trilogy, this book would be an awesome opener. There’s no Superman in sight, yet it is a surprising and often riveting sci-fi tale.

You can read my interview with Anderson about his new book, Enemies and Allies here. It’s about the first meeting between Superman and Batman in the 1950s Cold War era. It’s an unusual take, but it has guest stars galore, including the supporting cast and baddies from both heroes worlds.