Sunday, December 19, 2021


It's that time of the year again: 

On television they’re trotting out Miracle on 34th Street, The Grinch, It's a Wonderful Life and seemingly-infinite variations on A Christmas Carol. Here at Creation Point we have our own Yuletide tradition, a short Christmas tale of mine called The Truth About Santa Claus: offered annually as a kind of cyber Christmas present. My way of wishing all of you the happiest of holidays and the most magical of Christmases. I offer it again this year—along with a trio of wonderful illustrations by my friend and collaborator Vassilis Gogtzilas. So grab a plate of Christmas cookies, pull a chair up close to the fireplace and enjoy.



He’d been thinking about it for days—ever since he heard Big Mouth Jenny Rizzo announce it on the school bus—and he didn’t believe a word of it, not one word. (Well, maybe ONE.) But Cody had to be sure, absolutely, positively sure—

—and that’s why he was hiding behind the couch at midnight on Christmas Eve.

His mother was there, asleep in his dad’s old easy chair, the reds and blues of the Christmas tree lights making her look peaceful and happy and impossibly young.

The tree, by the way, had not ONE SINGLE PRESENT underneath it.

That didn’t make sense. If there WAS no Santa Claus, if his mother was the one who bought the presents, wrapped the presents, stacked them under the tree, then how come she hadn’t done it? How come she wasn’t awake RIGHT NOW arranging them all?

He got scared. Maybe there wasn’t going to BE a Christmas this year. Maybe Mom had lost her job and they didn’t have any money and so she COULDN’T buy him any presents and—

And then Cody glanced over at the windows and noticed that it was snowing.

Or was it?

If that was snow, it was the WHITEST snow he’d ever seen. It was snow as bright as moonbeams, as bright as sunlight, as bright as...


Quickly, but quietly (he didn’t want to wake his mother), he scurried to the window and looked out.

It was coming down and coming down and COMING DOWN all across town, whirling and whipping, spinning and gyrating, out of the night sky. Glowing so brightly that it almost hurt his eyes to look at it. And Cody saw that it certainly wasn’t snow, and it absolutely wasn’t rain, it wasn’t ANYTHING he’d ever seen before. But each drop, no...each flake, no... each BALL of glowing WHATEVER IT WAS, seemed to pulse and spin, soar and vibrate, as if it were alive.

And the stuff, the magical WHATEVER IT WAS (and he knew now that it was magic. He just KNEW), wasn’t collecting on the streets, wasn’t piling up on the rooftops. It was MELTING INTO (that’s the only way he could put it: MELTING INTO) every house (no matter how small) and apartment building (no matter how big).

EVERY house and apartment building.


He looked up.

And there it was: coming RIGHT THROUGH THE CEILING of Apartment 3F, HIS apartment, swirling, like a tornado of light, around the chandelier and then down, down, down—


At first he almost yelled out a warning, “Mom! Wake up! MOM!” But something made him stop.

Instead of yelling he ducked back behind the couch and watched, eyes peering over the top.

Watched as the light-tornado wheeled around his mother, so fast, so bright, that he could hardly even SEE her. But he COULD see her. Most of her, anyway.

And what he SAW...

The light poured in through the top of her head, through her eyes, through her chest, through her toes. It lifted her up—still sleeping!—and carried her out of her chair and across the room. And as she floated—

—she started to change:

Her hair became white, her nose became red, her belly ballooned like the most pregnant woman in the history of the world. Her feet grew boots, her head grew a hat, her nightgown grew fur. An overstuffed sack sprouted, like a lumpy angel’s wing, from her shoulder. And then—

AndthenandthenandTHEN, it wasn’t his mother there at all, it was him, it was SANTA CLAUS! STANDING RIGHT THERE IN CODY’S LIVING ROOM! Santa Claus who, with a laugh (exactly like the laugh Cody always knew he had, only better) and a twinkle in his eyes (exactly like the twinkle he’d always imagined, ONLY BETTER) reached into his sack and pulled out package after package, present after present, and placed them, carefully, like some Great Artist contemplating his masterpiece, under the tree.

When he was done, Santa Claus stood there, grinning and shaking his head, as if he couldn’t BELIEVE what a beautiful tree this was, how wonderful the presents looked beneath it. As if this moment was the greatest moment in the history of Christmas, as if this apartment was the only place in all the universes that such a Christmas could ever POSSIBLY happen.

And then the MOST amazing thing happened:

Santa Claus turned.

He turned slowly. So slowly Cody couldn’t even tell at first that he was moving at all. And—slowly, SLOWLY—those twinkling eyes, that Smile of smiles, fixed itself on the two boy-eyes peering, in wonder, over the top of the couch.

And what Cody felt then he could never really say: only that it was better than any present anyone could ever get. Only that it made his heart so warm it melted like magical WHATEVER IT WAS, trickling down through his whole body. Only that it made him want to reach out his arms and hug Santa Claus, hug his mother, hug his father (and FORGIVE him too, for running out on them) and his aunts and uncles and cousins (even his Cousin Erskine who was SUCH a pain) and Big Mouth Jenny Rizzo (who really wasn’t so bad most of the time) and all his friends and teachers and the kid in his karate class who always smelled SO BAD and, embarrassing as it sounds, it made him want to hug everyone and everything in the whole world including rabbits and snakes and trees and lizards and grass and lions and mountains and, yes, the EARTH HERSELF.

Cody wanted to hold that gaze, to keep his eyes locked on Santa’s, forever. (Or longer, if he could.) Wanted to swim in that incredible feeling, drown in it, till GOD HIMSELF came down to say: “Enough!”

Except that he blinked. Just once. But in that wink of an eye, Santa was gone. Cody’s mother was asleep in the chair again and, for one terrible moment, the boy thought that the whole thing must have been a dream.

Except, under the tree: THERE WERE THE PRESENTS.

Except, out the window: THERE WAS THE SNOW, the rain, the magical WHATEVER IT WAS, shooting up, like a blizzard in reverse, from every house, every apartment building. Shooting up into the heavens, gathering together like a fireball, like a white-hot comet—

—and fading away into the night: going, going...


Without so much as a tinkling sleigh-bell or a “Ho-ho-ho.”

Not that it mattered.

Cody looked at his mom.

Cody kissed her.

“I love you,” he said. And he was crying. Happy tears. Christmas tears. Like moonbeams, like sunlight. Like stardust.

Mom stirred in the chair, smiled the softest sweetest smile Cody had ever seen. “I love you, too,” she said.

And then she drifted back to sleep.

Cody sat at her feet, warming himself, warming his SOUL, by the lights of the tree.

And soon, he, too, was drifting off to sleep. And as he drifted, a wonderful thought rose up, like a balloon, inside him. Rose, then POPPED—spreading the thought to every corner of his mind. Giving him great comfort. Great delight:

“One day,” the thought whispered, “when you’re all grown-up, when you have children of your own. ONE DAY,” the thought went on...

“It will be YOUR TURN.”

Merry Christmas.

Story ©copyright 2021 J.M. DeMatteis
Art ©copyright 2021 Vassilis Gogtzilas

Wednesday, December 8, 2021


December 8, 1980. If you want to read my memories of that night, click here. Or you can listen to the real-time radio broadcasts below to get a sense of the shock and sorrow that enveloped not just New York City, but the entire world.

Sunday, December 5, 2021


Got our Christmas tree today, which means it's time for this classic John & Yoko song, which seems to grow more relevant each year.  It's not the Christmas season for me till I've heard it.

Let the festivities begin!

Saturday, December 4, 2021


I talk to the COMIX KINGS podcast and we take a deep dive into the upcoming Ben Reilly: Spider-Man series, discussing Ben's history and what's to come for the character.


Justice League Infinity #6, our penultimate issue, is out on Tuesday.  The Multiverse is collapsing, the League is on the verge of defeat.  Is this Infinity's End?  

You can read a preview below!

Thursday, November 18, 2021


This week Marvel released a new Epic Collection that features some stellar Amazing Spider-Man stories from David Michelinie, as well as the first part of my run on the book (with the great Mark Bagley).  So happy to see these stories in print after so long.

I'm hoping that next year—which will see the celebration of Spidey's 60th anniversary—will finally bring a collection of my two year stint on Spectacular Spider-Man with Our Pal Sal Buscema. Fingers crossed!

Speaking of Spider-Man:  Work is continuing on the upcoming Ben Reilly: Spider-Man mini and I'm having a blast collaborating with David Baldeon, Israel Silva, and our editor Danny Khazem.  I'm delighted to be hanging out with my old friend Ben again and if the readers have half as much fun reading this as I'm having writing it, the series should be a success.  (You can see a preview of the first issue, along with some commentary from yours truly, right here.)  Once again:  fingers crossed!, 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021


I had an in-depth conversation with the Dollar Bin Bandits podcast and you can listen, and watch, below.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021


Justice League Infinity #5 is out today! Two Supermen, General Zod, Doomsday, and Metallo take on the Nazi forces of Vandal Savage. (Among other things!) Our Multiverse-spanning story is heading for the grand finale—only two issues to go after this one—and things are heating up. 

It's been a true joy working with James Tucker, Ethen Beavers, Nick Filardi, and our editor Andrew Marino on this continuation of the Justice League Unlimited television series. Here's hoping there's another season in the offing!

Saturday, October 30, 2021


Justice League Infinity #5 is out next week—and this time our multiversal epic focuses on Superman, Zod and the rebel forces taking on the fascist government of Vandal Savage. We also get more with the Justice Alliance, Amazo, Wonder Woman, and more.  

You can see a few preview pages here.  Enjoy!


Thursday, October 14, 2021


Another fun conversation, this time with the Comics Cube podcast.  We touch on all the usual suspects, but also go off into some unexpected and interesting places.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 11, 2021


I've been missing John Lennon since his tragic death in December, 1980—but I also missed his birthday on October 9th.  So here, a few days late, is Lennon performing one of his greatest songs, "Instant Karma."  Happy Birthday, John:  You still shine on (like the moons and the stars and the suns)...

Wednesday, October 6, 2021


I had a great conversation with the always amiable John Siuntres of the long-running Word Balloon podcast. We talked about Justice League Infinity, Ben Reilly:  Spider-Man, and lots of other things. You can watch it below. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021


Now it can be told!  I'm joining with artist David Baldeon, colorist Israel Silva, and editor Danny Khazem for Ben Reilly: Spider-Man—a five issue mini-series set in the 90s era.  Peter and Mary Jane have headed off to Portland to have their baby and live happily ever after while, in New York, our titular hero is taking his first steps toward building a new life as both Ben Reilly and Spider-Man.  But it's not going to be easy!

So happy to be returning to the Spiderverse for this wonderful project.  You can find some teaser art below.

Ben Reilly: Spider-Man is on sale in January!

Monday, September 6, 2021


Justice League Infinity #3 hits the shops tomorrow—and our story kicks into high gear with the introduction of Earth-D's Justice Alliance and a shocking turn of events involving Wonder Woman. You can read a short preview below.

Join me, James Tucker, Ethen Beavers and Nick Fil
ardi, as our return to the Justice League Unlimited universe continues! 

Saturday, August 21, 2021


No, not the Terry Gilliam movie.

I had a wonderful chat with the Brazilian podcast Arte-Final yesterday—and we did a deep dive into one of my all-time favorite projects, the Spider-Man saga called "The Child Within."  We also talked about JLI, my animation work, and other things.  

The discussion is in both Portuguese and English.  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 5, 2021


Justice League Infinity #2 is on sale now.  As our return to the classic Justice League Unlimited universe continues, we find reality breaking apart like a shattered mirror, Superman swept away to a world of neo-Nazis, the Martian Manhunter forced out of retirement by a new threat...and Amazo, the ever-evolving android, may hold the key to it all. 

I co-wrote the book with the great James Tucker, producer of JLU, and the art—very much in the style of the TV show—is by Ethen Beavers, with colors by Nick Filardi and letters by Tom Napolitano.

Hope you pick it up and enjoy the ride!

Sunday, August 1, 2021


Fifty-nine years ago a radioactive spider took a bite out of a kid named Peter Parker and the pop culture universe was changed forever.  In honor of  Spider-Man Day, here's an essay I wrote last year for a Spanish book about the character's history.  Enjoy!

June, 1966. I was standing in the Brooklyn, New York candy store where I bought all my comics and I couldn’t take my eyes off the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #39:  There was the Green Goblin gliding through the sky dragging a bound and defeated Peter Parker—his Spider-Man costume visible beneath his street clothes—behind him.  To my twelve-year-old eyes—conditioned as they were to the pristine DC Comics of the day—this was mesmerizing.  A villain who’d actually unmasked the hero!  A hero so utterly helpless!  As with all great comic book covers, this one fired up my imagination.  I didn’t even have to read this story:  that single illustration, brought to vibrant life by the incomparable John Romita, Sr., suggested dozens of incredible tales that played out in my head.  (This, I later learned, was Romita’s first issue of Amazing Spider-Man.  It looked like he’d been drawing the book all his life.)

I was still a hardcore DC fan then—there was something spooky, almost dangerous, about those early Marvel Comics and I wasn’t quite ready to take the leap—so I resisted buying that issue; but a month later I gave in to temptation and purchased the story’s conclusion:  I was, as the British say, gobsmacked.  Stan Lee’s scripting was so exciting, so nakedly emotional.  And Romita’s interior art—with his dynamic layouts and impeccable storytelling—was every bit as irresistible as the cover that had enchanted me thirty days before.

I tracked down the first chapter, along with many earlier Spidey issues—brought to life by the incomparable Steve Ditko, who co-created the character and plotted many classic Spidey tales—at a local used book store (this was before the days of comic book shops) and lost myself in the magical world that Lee, Ditko, and Romita created.  Peter Parker entered my life then and he’s never left.

As much as I adored Spider-Man as a reader, it was as a writer that I really fell in love with the character.  Peter Parker is perhaps the most emotionally and psychologically real protagonist in any superhero universe.  Sure he wears a mask and swings around on a web-line, but, beneath that mask, he’s as confused, as flawed, as touchingly, wonderfully human, as the people who read, and write, about him.  The book may be called Spider-Man, but it’s all about Peter:  a decent, compassionate young man who’s always struggling to do the right thing.  

I think that’s what I love most about Spider-Man (and why his popularity has continued, pretty much unabated, for all these years):  his humanity.  His decency.  No matter how discouraged he may be, no matter how often he fails, he always picks himself up and tries again; and every time Peter Parker triumphs, it’s a triumph for all of us, because he’s such a wonderful example of the human spirit at its best.  Spider-Man both mirrors our weaknesses and inspires us to reach for our highest ideals—and that makes for a truly timeless character.  

And a massively relatable one.


I don’t know if I’d want to spend a Saturday night hanging out with Bruce Wayne or Reed Richards, but I’d most certainly want to spend an evening enjoying a good meal—talking about life, the universe, and everything—with Peter.  I think that’s why those of us who’ve been lucky enough to chronicle Spider-Man’s adventures have simultaneously found ourselves in the character and infused him with our own doubts, fears, and highest aspirations.  As we write about Spider-Man we inevitably merge with him.  And I think Spidey’s millions of fans share the same experience as they read his comic books or watch him bound across a movie screen.  In some strange, wonderful way, we’re all Peter Parker.

I’m honored to have had the chance to journey along with Peter and add to his ongoing, ever-evolving mythology.

©essay copyright 2021 J.M. DeMatteis

Saturday, July 10, 2021


 Wishing a happy Silence Day to my Meher Baba Family around the world.

"God is not to be learned or studied or discussed or argued about. He is to be contemplated, felt, loved and lived."

Avatar Meher Baba

Wednesday, July 7, 2021


A gentle reminder that the Justice League Unlimited universe is back in the new seven issue mini-series Justice League Infinity, which hit the shops yesterday. Co-written with JLU producer James Tucker and drawn by Ethen Beavers, with superb color work by Nick Filardi, the series picks up right where the TV show left off and then explodes across the multiverse.  It's been a genuine pleasure working with James, Ethen, Nick, and our editor Andrew Marino and returning to these classic characters. You can find a short preview of JL Infinity #1 below. Hope you come along for the ride! 

Monday, June 21, 2021


This past weekend was the online Cloud Comic Con, presented by the fine folks behind the Glasgow Comic Con, and I had a wonderful conversation with Tim Pilcher, covering many aspects of my career.  You can find it at the three hour mark, below:

Sunday, June 13, 2021


I had a fun conversation with the Capes and Lunatics podcast, discussing my 1980s run on Captain America.  It's embedded below.  Enjoy!

Friday, June 11, 2021


Every writer's career, no matter how successful, is filled with "might have beens":  stories that were assigned, but died along the way.  Stories that were repeatedly pitched but never sold.  Pitches that were enthusiastically received and then inexplicably abandoned.  Stories that were purchased but never saw the light of day.  

I started thinking about my "might have been" files this morning when I came across a proposal I did in 2013 for the classic Archie Comics superhero, The Shield.  My Life and Times of Savior 28 collaborator, the brilliant Mike Cavallaro, and I had done a Shield back up strip as part of Dean Haspiel and Mark Waid's revival of The Fox (I actually wrote the final issue of that series) and editor Paul Kaminski—who was a genuine pleasure to work with—asked us to spin the Shield off into his own mini-series, with Terry Austin lined up to ink Mike's work.  I came up with what I thought was a strong concept and, after some discussions with Paul, put together a proposal/outline.  As sometimes happens, I kept getting notes that required shifting the story to the left here, to the right there, and, at one point, I completely reworked the concept from the ground up.  (Many of these notes didn't come from Paul—who enthusiastically supported our work from day one—but from elsewhere on the Archie staff.)  

For reasons I was never clear on, the series was abandoned.

You can read my original outline—and view a fantastic piece of promo art Mike put together—below.  I think it would have made for a very powerful story and, perhaps, somewhere, in some parallel universe, our Shield series made its way out into the world.

I may dig into the files and find more "stories that never were" but, for now, enjoy "American Nightmare."

                                  THE SHIELD:  AMERICAN NIGHTMARE

American Nightmare #1—

Begin with the Black Tom explosion that killed Tom Higgins, then jump to big action sequence of the Shield in action at the tail end of War Two—also establishing the Eraser as a soldier-for-hire, willing to work for Nazis, or anyone else, for the right price...then: 

It’s VJ Day.  The war is over.  Joe Higgins marries Andrea Horowitz:  they grew up in the same neighborhood, he’s loved her for years.  Joe still plans on being the Shield but he naively believes that the end of the war is the beginning of a new American dream.  In the next year he finds a happy balance between his identities.  Andrea—like the spouse of a policeman—always worries—but still counts herself blessed.  Soon, they have a son, William.  Joe and Andrea have never been happier.  Two years go by.  Then...

1948:  ...there’s a devastating attack on the Higgins house.  (Masterminded by the Eraser.  This will be a major action beat.)  When the smoke clears...

...Andrea is dead and Joe has just managed to save his boy.  (The Eraser escapes,)  Joe’s utterly devastated, heartbroken.  Convinced now that he can never have a normal life, that his son will never be safe with him around, Joe—with the FBI’s help—hands the boy over to another family to raise anonymously.  He buries his life as Joe Higgins and fully embraces life as the Shield.  The dream of a happy family, prospering in post-war America—being lived out by returned soldiers all across the country—can never be his.

But someone is going to pay for what’s been done. Joe Higgins may be dead, but the Shield is going to find the Eraser and make the bastard pay.

American Nightmare #2: 
The Shield—half mad with grief—goes out to hunt for the man who killed his wife; becoming wild, reckless, out of control...his handlers at the FBI worried about him.  (Perhaps instituting a plan to terminate him if he gets out of control?)  Joe manages to break the Eraser’s international organization, but, for all his efforts, Shield can’t find the Eraser himself.  The Bureau tells him it’s time to let go and move on and, to their relief, Shield agrees; but, in his heart, he knows he’ll never give up.

Time passes:  Shield encounters the Eraser several more times down through the years—from the fifties into the early sixties (each encounter playing up some pivotal moment in our history—Korea, the space race, the Cuban Missile Crisis, etc.) but can never stop him.  The Shield, by now, has erased any trace of his civilian ID.  Doesn’t even like people calling him Joe.  He’s a mask and a costume, a human weapon, not a man.

Throughout this, we intercut with young William, who grows up in a loving family—but always misses parents he doesn’t know but still remembers; especially the father who, he believes, is alive out there.  But time is cruel and memory dims more each year.  (I’d also like to contrast Shield’s involvement with these pivotal world events with William’s:  the “civilian” POV vs. the superhero POV.)  Then it’s...

1963:  The Kennedy assassination.  (And perhaps the Shield is in Dallas?)  The world in chaos. Nuclear devastation always a heartbeat away.  The public is questioning authority in a way it never has before—and people are even questioning the need for a being like the Shield:  Is he a dangerous weapon in the hands of government fanatics?  A super powerful lunatic who’ll turn against them?  There are some conspiracy theorists who even claim the Shield was involved with the assassination itself. 

The Shield, too, is questioning his own role.  What good can he really do in a world spiraling out of control?  Did he, Joe wonders, make the right choice all those years before when he left his son and lost himself inside the costume?  In the winter of ‘64, he decides to contact William—to be a man again, not a mask—and reach out to his son.  That’s when...

...the Eraser—who will not allow Joe to reconcile with his son, the very thought maddens him—springs a TBD trap:  Joe is caught. 

American Nightmare #3:

We open with a huge, and brutal, action beat as the captured Shield breaks free.  He and the Eraser go at it, Shield desperate to make this animal pay for killing Andrea; but Joe’s own rage makes him sloppy and we end with the Shield plunged into suspended animation:  body frozen, mind awake.  Tormented and tortured by the Eraser who—despite many opportunities—refuses to kill the Shield.  (We’ll learn later that, for all the hate in his heart, Tom Higgins still loves his son, in his own warped way.) 

Out in the world, everyone assumes the Shield is dead (the Eraser actually staged Joe’s death, even planted a convincing corpse, thus “erasing” the Shield from existence).  William is recruited by the FBI.  The Shield Formula, we learn, only works with a genetic match and the world needs a new Shield.  William agrees...

Intercut between William taking on the mantle of the Shield through the turbulent 60’s and 70’s (again, playing his beats out against the political lunacy of the day) and Joe’s nightmare at the hands of the Shield.  As William rises, taking, with astonishing grace, to the life of a hero, Joe falls into madness.  (Instead of physical torture, I like the idea of the Eraser using a machine that allows him to enter into Joe’s consciousness, literally becoming the enemy within.)

Joe, unable to bear the pain, has a complete psychological break and retreats into fantasy:  a life where his wife never died, where he raised his son, where they lived happily ever after—but, even there, in fantasy, the Eraser appears, repeatedly, to destroy the dream.  Joe experiences his loss and pain again and again and again.  (This will, again, play off life in post-war America, where so many returned soldiers moved to the suburbs to live their “ideal” lives—that, under the surface, weren’t always all-that ideal.)   

We end, in the early 1980’s, the Reagan years—with William finding the TBD clue that tips him to the fact that his father is still alive and out there...somewhere.

American Nightmare #4:
The search for Joe, leading to his rescue by William.  But Joe has been driven batshit crazy by his ordeal and there’s a battle between the two—during which the Eraser once again escapes—before the son subdues the father and, with FBI aid, gets Joe much-needed psychological help.  It takes two full years in a top-secret government facility for Joe to take the first tentative steps back to sanity...and life. 

William is intimately involved in Joe’s long recovery, but, even when he’s “cured,” Joe—paralleling many Viet Nam vets, who dealt with similar issues in the 80’s—has got a massive case of PTSD.  He doesn’t want to put that damn costume on again, doesn’t want to go back out there into that insane, and dangerous, nation.  “You did a good job, son.  You’re a better Shield than I ever was.”  William, though, is done.  He’s proved his point and, more important, he has his father back.  “You have to do it,” William tells his father.  “You’re the Shield.  All I ever did was emulate you.  Became the man I always knew you were.”  Joe resists, but, before a decision can be made...

...there’s an assault on the complex where Joe has been recuperating. Another huge action beat.  It’s the Eraser and a horde of TBD Red Circle bad guys at his command.  Like it or not, the Shield has to come back now.  Father and son suit up and, side by side, go into battle.

American Nightmare #5:
Joe and William, two generations of Shields, take down the assault team...and go after the Eraser...

...leading to the revelation that Eraser is Joe’s father, William’s grandfather, Tom Higgins.  We learn how Tom survived the Black Tom explosion in a demented state (but transformed by his formula into something more-than human):  angry at the country that branded him a traitor, at the son who “stole” his work and glory.  Joe nearly goes mad again, overwhelmed by the knowledge that his own father, the man he worshipped, is responsible for killing Andrea.  

In a blind rage, Joe nearly murders the Eraser—and it’s William who stops his father from crossing that line—doing something unworthy, not just of the Shield, but of the man behind the mask.  The father collapses, weeping, in the son’s arms.  Eraser is taken off to prison.  (And, I’m not sure how, but it would be very cool if his own memories are erased during the battle, leaving him lost in the fragmented corridors of his own mind.)

In the end, Joe reluctantly takes up the mantle of the Shield again.  William goes off to forge his own path (or perhaps, in some way, joins his father in the fight...?).  But, far more important than that is the fact that these two wounded souls have healed their rift.  They’re family again, after so many long and painful years.  

We end on the Eraser, locked away, lost (as Joe was, in his suspended animation) in a state of absolute madness.  Or perhaps he, too, is living in a fantasy where the Black Tom explosion never happened, and he’s with his wife and young son, living the American Dream...

The Shield ©copyright 2021 Archie Comic Publications

Original story concepts ©copyright 2021 J.M. DeMatteis

Art ©copyright 2021 Mike Cavallaro

Sunday, June 6, 2021


Chris Munn has a new book out called Wheels On Fire: An Unofficial Guide to Marvel Comics' Ghost Rider From 1972—1983.  As the title indicates, it's a detailed, issue-by-issue celebration of the flame-headed supernatural biker first brought to life by Gary Friedrich and Mike Ploog.  Chris was kind enough to ask me to write the foreword to his book and I present it below for your listening and dancing pleasure.  Enjoy!

Art by Mike Ploog

When you’re a young freelance writer, trying to establish yourself in a long-term career in comics, there’s one word that should always, always, be on the tip of your tongue:  “Yes.”  The phone rings.  “Hi,” an editor says, “I need a fill-in issue of Chipmunk Man and I need it by Friday.”  “Yes!”  “Would you,” another editor asks, “be interested in taking over the monthly Herman The Avenger book?”  “Yes!”  “Could you,” a third editor asks, “write a 60 page Ratgirl Annual in the next twelve minutes?”  “Yes!”  Always, always yes—because, let’s face it, you never know when the phone is going to ring again, you never know when the next job is going to appear.  One month you’re so busy you think you’re going to have a nervous breakdown, the next you’re staring at the walls, wondering how you’re going to pay the rent.

I exaggerate, just a little, to make a point; but, when I was starting out in comics, I religiously abided by the Rule of Yes.  So when, in the early 1980s, not long after I’d started working for Marvel Comics, the phone rang and Tom DeFalco—soon to be not just one of my favorite editors but favorite humans—asked if I wanted to take over the writing duties on the Ghost Rider book from the great Roger Stern, my answer, unsurprisingly, was a wildly enthusiastic “Yes!”

The truth is, I wasn’t a major Ghost Rider fan.  Oh, I’d read the early issues, and I was especially enamored of the stories illustrated by one of the true masters of the form, Mike Ploog (what a thrill it was, many years later, to collaborate with Mike on Abadazad and The Stardust Kid), but I hadn’t really followed Johnny Blaze’s adventures after that.  Looking over the recent issues by Stern and Bob Budiansky, I was impressed.  Roger, of course, never failed to deliver a compelling story with equally compelling characters.  Budiansky’s work was new to me, but his ability to provide crystal clear storytelling and expressive emotions—all wrapped in the requisite shadows, fog and bone-chilling mood required for a book steeped in the supernatural—made me an instant fan.

But it was Johnny Blaze himself who hooked me.  I’ve always been fascinated by duality, in the world, and, more significantly, in the human heart.  “Good and evil,” Dostoyevsky wrote, “are so monstrously mixed up in man.”  All of our psyches contain the purest of angels and the most maniacal of demons, the spires of Heaven and the pits of Hell, and our lives can often be a tug of war between those twin forces, as we seek a way to balance and, perhaps, transcend them.  The relationship between Blaze and Zarathos (that’s a name Bob and I cooked up together) literalized that war, but also allowed an opportunity to explore the subtleties within that duality:  Even a demon has an angel in his heart somewhere, and even angels might be tempted by the darkness. 

That all sounds heady and philosophical—and the deeper aspects of the character were certainly a major draw for me—but comics aren’t just about high concepts; they have to offer big action and larger than life characters.  The tug of war between Blaze and Zarathos supplied the ruminative meat, but Blaze’s supporting cast, from the denizens of the Quentin Carnival to the strange and deadly antagonists who rose up to challenge the Ghost Rider, provided the energy and fun.  Adding to that fun was the fact that Bob Budiansky and I were co-plotting the book.  It was the first time I’d actively co-plotted with an artist and it was, from the start, a wonderful experience.  No egos, no arguments:  We’d get on the phone and spend an hour or two throwing around ideas, I’d go off and develop those ideas into a fully fleshed out plot, Bob would pencil the story, bringing it to life in his unique and powerful way, after which I’d supply the finished script.  We could have gone on doing that for years.

That’s not the way it worked out.

The exhilaration of our collaboration didn’t translate into the necessary sales (in those days at Marvel, if a book dipped below a hundred thousand copies a month, it was on the chopping block; today, a book consistently selling in the ninety thousand range, as GR did, would be a runaway best seller) and Ghost Rider was cancelled.  The good news?  We were given significant advance warning, allowing us the time to create a Grand Finale that would write an end to the saga of Johnny Blaze and Zarathos, giving Johnny and his true love, Roxanne Simpson, the “happily ever after” we thought they deserved.

But our contributions to Ghost Rider were just one small part of a much larger tapestry, and the book you’re about to read will take you on a journey from the story’s beginnings to its untimely end—and surprising resurrection.

So hop on your motorcycle and prepare to roar into the night.  And keep your eyes wide, because you never know what demons will be lurking around the next bend.

Foreword ©copyright 2021 J.M. DeMatteis

Ghost Rider ©copyright 2021 Marvel Entertainment

Art by Bob Budiansky

Saturday, May 29, 2021


My son pointed me to this video—based on the comics in the background, it looks like it was filmed in 1966—of Stan Lee in the early days of Marvel's success, before he became the larger-than-life Stan we  came to know and love.  It's like seeing Peter Parker before he transformed into Spider-Man.  Fascinating!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021


Although I'd dabbled in animation in the 1980s and 1990s, it wasn't until I started writing for the Justice League Unlimited TV series that I fell in love with the form.  JLU was the gig that really launched my animation career—I wrote seven episodes, including the adaptation of Alan Moore's "For The Man Who Has Everything"—and what a great launching pad it was.  The vision of the League that sprang from the creative minds of Bruce Timm, James Tucker, Stan Berkowtiz, Dwayne McDuffie and company was both a perfect distillation of the best elements from the comics and a fresh new take on these legendary characters.  

As time has passed, the show has become a classic—every day I see fans on Twitter clamoring for its return—which is why I'm happy to say that JLU is back.

But not as a TV show.

James Tucker (producer of JLU, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Legion of Superheroes and many more) and I will be co-writing a new series for DC Comics called Justice League Infinity, which picks up where the TV series left off.  Why Infinity?  Because our story is big—and takes our characters across the multiverse in search of...

Well, I don't want to give anything away.  But I will say that the art—by penciler/inker Ethen Beavers and colorist Nick Filardi—is extraordinary (see the pages below) and we're all thrilled to be working with this iconic cast, reviving and renewing the JLU universe.

The first digital issue of Justice League Infinity will be released in May, while the print version will hit comics shops in July.  Come join us on what we hope will be a memorable voyage across the DC multiverse, in the company of some old and dear friends.

Friday, April 23, 2021


While going through old files, I came across this layout I did for artist Dan Green when we were working on our 1980's graphic novel, Dr. Strange:  Into Shamballa.

Dan and I created the story together, then I wrote up a detailed plot and, using my outline as a guide, Dan laid out the story, adding his own twists and turns, and creating thumbnail art for me to script from.  But sometimes, as I wrote from the thumbnails, the story would change (as stories tend to do) and I'd draw these goofy doodles to let Dan know what I was thinking, how I envisioned the new sequence.

Dan then turned my goofiness into breathtaking art.  (Most folks only know Dan as an inker, but his talents are vast.)

Doc never did say "Oy, vey" in the story, though!