Friday, June 11, 2021

THE STORIES THAT NEVER WERE

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

48 comments:

  1. Very good. Its a shame it never saw the light of day. Now, with Cap getting all this atention at Disney+, would be an ideal time.

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  2. The reason it was cancelled was... if I had to guess... low sales on the superhero books overall.

    I was actually read the Fox, and those last issues were impossible to find. A lot of stores just stopped carrying them due to sales.

    Perhaps more to the point, Afterlife With Archie came out in 2013, the same year, and was considered the comic that saved Archie Comics.

    Just my thoughts and observations.

    Also, it is Refugee Awareness Week. Take some time this week to think about them there struggles, and contributions to America.

    After all, your industry's biggest name was a refugee. To get you in the mood, here is a piece an associate of mine wrote...
    https://www.thehubdetroit.com/samaritas-gives-refugees-the-superpower-of-a-bright-future/


    Jack

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    1. I don't think that's why they pulled the plug because, not long after, they announced a new Shield series with a different main character (I think Shield was female) and creative team. My sense was new management came in and, for whatever reason, didn't want to pursue the series. C'est la vie!

      Nice article. Thanks for sharing!

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    2. Well, then I don't know what the issue was. Maybe the higher ups heard you were the guy who killed Vibe and were absolutely livid.

      Glad you enjoyed the article, but don't forget, it is Refugee AWARENESS Week. So...be aware, and make others aware. Even if it is just reminding a friend or family member that this is going on, and that they are real people not statistics. Or casually bringing up what some refugee have done for America... the world. \

      Superman, Einstein, Freddy Mercury, most of the cast of Casablanca (why do you think the accents were so good?), Christ himself... refugees all.

      Or don;t, your choice, you are an adult... unlike the kids who come with nothing but their name escaping certain death. Now that is how you guilt someone, thanks Mom.

      Jack

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    3. Clearly the Vibe thing. Why didn't I realize that?

      And, as someone whose grandparents were immigrant (from Italy and Russia), I totally get what you're saying.

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  3. Wonderful stuff, I would have bought it.
    Thank you for sharing this.

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  4. IN fairness to the people holding a grudge for killing Vibe, The Justice League Detroit era is a great case study for some realities abut comics, and some very real issues in the country.

    ALso, not anywhere near as bad as people want to pretend it was.


    Jack

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    1. Considering how famous some of those characters have become thanks to the CW/DC TV shows, Gerry Conway has certainly had the last laugh.

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    2. I can't speak to any of the TV shows you mention, but I do know there are some interesting cross sections that happen connected to this run:

      1. Where the hate is. Few people ever mention WHAT they hate other than that it was not eh "real" league and... fair enough. If you don't like something you don't like it. However, despite any real complaint outside "not the right people," it mutated into a larger contempt of it being bad... and you are bad if you like it. A type of sentiment that became far more common common in the decades since.

      2.Backlash of characters FOR being new - I was having a conversation with someone about turning more established straight characters gay, and why. My thought process is that they know new characters don;t sell. The only exception I can think of in the past 20 ears is Mile Morales... who is a Spider-man. That backlash for being not being known already is on parade here.

      3. Preventing changes in the future by focusing on one element - IN issue #246 they move to NYC, and for 15 issues remain there, compared to the 13 beforehand. This might seem to me an odd thing, but NYC is a far more traditional area, and it did block out the more interactive with the world outside of superheroing and being an actual part of the community.

      4. Indignity in death - The JLD members who died didn't have to die, that previously mentioned interaction with the community was a hallmark of the early days, Vibe and Steel could have just decided to go more one on one,. But, if I had to guess, I would say it was handed down from above to raise the stakes for the LEGENDS event. That sucks, but hey... such is comics. However, they both die in kind of pathetic ways. Then Steel was brought back in the next volume... just to die again. They are then brought up only to be "The League that failed to death," robbing them of any character they had. Post-mortum hate has become a ay of life in comics. If a writer did not like a character it is pretty common to make them look back and criticize... instead of not using them. A good example of Ben Reilly, who was criticized for two decades, then was brought back as a villain who when he tried to get back into heroing stole a costume and seemed to hate everyone. Why? Because who could like the guy? Again, even if it is resurrecting them.

      continued...

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    3. 5. The Batman connection - they threw Batman in for a time to make it work... that has pretty much been DC's plan for DC for a decade.

      6. The real world connection - There seems to be a lot of talk about confronting unconscious biases, which is great. Less great is that it stops short. Race, gender, and sexuality are great, but what about regional? The ignorant southerner. The naive Midwesterner. All exist, and in part perpetuate because of a societal movement to discount any part of the country that is not NYC or California. Which is a pretty dangerous when you look at how many not-great politicians rode the frustration to success. What does that have to do with the comic? Well... remember that I enjoyed the series... there are a lot of weird thing in the book. IN one issue they say the team enters through Lake Michigan, which is on the complete other side of the state. The only character FROM Detroit is a gang member. When Elongated Man enters he says he wanted to vomit. Vibe was created in part to add a Latino character, which is great, but Puerto Rican is an odd choice. There has been a neighborhood in Detroit called Mexican Town since the 1920s. Which is part of why there are so many people may dad's age who are like... half Mexican and half Polish, or Half Mexican and Irish, or Mexican and Italian, or German. Mexican ton is also one of the most vibrant parts of the city, and considered a model for the Renaissance. Could have been an interesting take in medium that seems to struggle with escaping tropes. I want to make this clear, I KNOW Conway meant nothing by any of this to be anything negative. However, it is called an UNCONSCIOUS bias for reason. The idea that like... you get the gist of a place. Can't be that much too it in the details. Which even in comics... at Marvel all the characters are unique, but everywhere else they are somehow tied to their geography, as if there is uniqueness too them. Look at the Texas Rangers, which has three people dressed like cowboys (including the one who controls wind), and Indian in an animal headdress, and giant armadillo.

      Just an interesting case study in how things come together, and how one book was a harbinger for things that would come. Also worth noting many of the elements were like post-CRISIS comics in how they did things... but not quite. Good example of DC transforming.

      Jack

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    4. I suspect if they put they same characters together now they'd have a hit. I'm sure there were plenty of kids (who didn't write letters and didn't complain) reading comics back then who loved the book and would be happy to see it revived.

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    5. Well, there were letters at the time where people said how much they liked them. They printed them (remember letters pages), of course they also printed the negative opinions... which DC deserves credit for.

      Of course, most of DC was not selling out in those days.

      I don't know about about the revitalization part. Wasn't CRISIS DC's last ditch effort to save DC? Wasn't this the era they were thinking of farming out to Marvel? So, a lot of it would have to be back issues, which given some unsatisfying realities of comics, is probably a rarity.

      Of course,I could be wrong. You are writing Justice League Infinity, which is a continuation of JLU if I remember correctly The show had Vibe, Steel, and Gypsy(maybe change that name). John Stewart is from Detroit. Seeds are there, and again... I'd read it, and these characters have plenty of room to explore.

      Not to mention, doing something with Vibe could get you forgiven for killing him from the Archie crew, and finally get the Shield story printed (exclamation point)

      Also, as an aside, it is worth noting that Marvel did try to expand outside NYC in the 70s with Son of Satan in St. Louis, Dracula in Boston (with those roads, easy to pray on drivers I assume), Werewolf by Night in California, Captain Marvel in Colorado for a little while, Ghost Rider in the Southwest as a whole (eventually), Deathlok in Detroit, and I think Thor moved to Chicago. It just kind of went of style in the 80s and continued. I mean there was Monica Rambeau, but she immediately left New Orleans for NYC and the Avengers.




      Jack

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    6. DC's sales were down in the early 80s, but with things like Crisis and Dark Knight and Watchmen (and, yes, JLI), to name a few, DC was back and back strong.

      The buzz about Marvel buying DC was early 80s. I remember hearing talk about it at the Marvel office, but I don't know how serious it ever got.

      And I really do think if someone put that Detroit team back together and modernized it a little it would do well.

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    7. So I was right. You could have jut said "correct as always your excellency."

      And of course, the JLD were unfortunate enough to straddled the two eras of post and pre-Crisis. OF course, there were seven months from the end of Crisis to the end of the pre-Crisis stories. At that point they were killing them off.

      ANd in fairness, and correct =me if you think I am off vase, I always figured DC's return was less about CRISIS itself as much as the freedom they were allowing creators AFTER Crisis.

      If you want somethings to ponder on involving the JLD...

      1. One of the few complaints about the JLD that isn't just that they are not the "real" League, was that Vibe was arrogant and had an attitude (despite both being shown it was to cover for his insecurities), but that also describes Batman. MORE so after CRISIS. So... why is it okay for the billionaire to have these traits, but not the guy from the streets who took care of his siblings? What does that say about us?

      2. The cops in Detroit had a history of being... not great... for a long time. My father told me stories of getting pushed up against a wall and carded the first time he legally bought beer. As time went on, like many baby boomers, he moved away from his counter culture days to a more conservative place. Still, when I turned 16, he told me that if a cop stops me, keep my hands visible and do whatever he says, not because he automatically deserves my respect, but because a bad cop can ruin your life, and judges always believe the. (I swear this circles back to the JLD).

      In the mid-90s the city got a police chief raised int he city, and had a run in with the Big Four (REALLY bad cops) before he was an officer. AS a kid. He required the police to work with community groups. It took time, but it helped weed out bad cops, lower crime, and develop trust between civilians and the police. This is probably why Detroit was one of the few cities without riots last year. There were protests, but wen some guys from Ohio and the other side of the state tried to start one by attacking ops, they were given over to the police... and the protests continued. The two sides actually spoke bout what still needed to be done.

      What does that have to do with the JLD? Well, when they were in Detroit, the Justice League mingled with and lived among the community. The crime fighters built trust through interaction.

      If you want something to ponder only sort of related to the JLD, but interesting...

      continued

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    8. hopefully that last one went through.

      Droughts are getting bad in the Southwest, and they are saying this is the new normal. NO water.

      The south is getting hit with more hurricanes and tropical storms. New Jersey, NYC, Miami, and New Orleans are facing rising sea levels.

      They say that the Great Lakes states are the ones that can best weather (no pun intended) climate change. They even say we, as a society should be investing in Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo New York, since good colleges, museums, and so much more are there, and they are to take in more people.

      Given that the US has many different regions, with unique cultures, do you think that could manifest as migration to the Great Lakes happens? Just like immigrants form Little Italy or Chinatown, could we in a few decades see "little Dallas Cleveland? California-Town Detroit? lil' Salt Lake Buffalo? New Brooklyn or Tiny Bronx Detroit? Of course, they could just move to Brooklyn or Bronx, Michigan and save some hassle.

      Well... I thought it was interesting to think about.

      As for the Justice League Detroit...

      Someone I know suggested it would work better if it had been called "Aquaman and the Outsiders."

      AS for bringing them back. Yes, please. GO for it Dematteis IF you think it could work, please, I encourage you to try.

      You could have so much fun with Steel and Vibe's sister, who had a romance. Vibe taking advantage of our free community college program. Or more importantly, his cocky, covering an insecure yet heroic young man.

      You are writing the continuation of the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, which had all the members of the LD... even if Vibe, Gypsy, and Steel were just background characters.... Use'em. Send them to Detroit. Just don;t fall back on stereotypes of the city, I would GIVE you the information needed.

      If you think there is any chance they could work and resurrect t4he original Vibe (I have nothing against the New 52 one, but they are literally different people)and Steel, PLEASE go for it. I fully support that dream.

      Explore characters long forgotten, that are all potential, explore the personality of a city full of personality often used as an insult, redeem yourself for taking them out like punks, make people happy with words and pictures.

      #JuticeForVibeandCmndrSteel or #SavePacoandHank (I don;t use social media, is that right useage?)

      Jack

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    9. If we get a second JL INFINITY series, Jack—and I hope we do, because I'm having a blast with this series—I just might bring a few of them in. Again, lots of people now know them from the CW TV shows, so it would be fun to integrate them into the DCAU!

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    10. Hmmm...I thought those three points would spark conversation. Oh well, I suppose everyone is wrong sometime, I just never thought it would happen to me.

      This is the first time I heard That Justice League Infinity was a mini series. But, don;t let my excitement at Vibe and Steel's return effect you (I know you like and die on my opinions), I will probably read the books either way. Unless they star the Billy Batson Captain Marvel... Good God am I not a fan.


      Just out of curiosity Dematteis, did the Flash TV show make a certain Brooklyn Born Hippie (not naming any names)who who worked on the characters (again, not naming any names, it could be anyone of the 1000s who
      fit this) start thinking about these characters again?

      Anyway, in the grand scheme, In am not sure that it would traditionally really come down to any integration from the TV show.

      Post-Crisis, and later at Vertigo, a lot of characters from that had seemingly fell out of style, or people just flat out didn't remember, got impressive relaunches. Challengers of the Unknown, The Question, Dr. Fate, Prez, Shade the Changing Man, the Golden Age Sandman, etc. Even Chaykin did a story for all the 50s sci-fi adventurers people didn't remember.

      Enough time has passed for that to work 80s and 90s characters. Fresh takes. However...

      Look, fro what I have seen, if there is any story you want to do in the DC Universe, try and make it work in the DCAU world. DC seems to be playing things pretty conservative these days, mostly growing the Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman brands, with a handful of others. Or, with Batman the Adventure continues, your book, Batman 89, and Superman 78 hitting the stands, something with nostalgia from another medium.

      Jack

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    11. Yes, DC and Marvel both seem to be leaning into nostalgia these days. DC has those titles you mention and Marvel is bringing back "classic" creators and reuniting them with characters they're strongly identified with.

      As for JL Detroit: We'll have to wait and see if the first Infinity series does well enough to merit a sequel series. If it does...well, it would be poetic justice for the guy who killed Vibe to bring him back.

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    12. Ad Steel, you also killed Steel... TWICE! You also killed Nighthawk, Aunt May, Harry Osborn, Kraven the Hunter, Dr. Octopu... You know I am starting to think you hay have been the REAL son of Sam. Though,when they caught Birkowitz you decided to just kill fictional characters.

      NO matter what happens with JL Infinity, I am sure you will make Dwayne McDuffie proud.

      AS for the nostalgia... I am of two minds about it.

      On one hand, it is always great to see classic creators return to characters they helped shape is always great, but I am not sure it is a good idea to have so much of the line dependent on things based on old properties. You can't have a future if your head is always in the past.

      It is dangerous to wade too deep into those waters. They can pull people down deep without them even realizing. Just look at how much trouble nostalgia has caused in the REAL world these days.

      If you do get the sequel, and you do use those characters, and you end up setting it in Detroit, feel free to ask any questions you might have about the are and its personality.


      Jack

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    13. If all you're offering is nostalgia, then it's not going to work (well, it will for a while); you've always got to have new ideas, new concepts. You've got to move forward. And, even when you're doing a "nostalgia project," it's got to bring something fresh to the table. I'm doing two of these projects right now: JL INFINITY and (REDACTED) and I'm trying to make both stories that, although they have that nostalgic shine, are strong stories that can stand on their own two feet.

      Delete
  5. In my experience, then best return to characters are when the creators tap into their voice with the character, but allow the years that have passed inform them, either with the character or the creator.

    -Stan Lee taking Petr to the graveyard after you remorselessly murdered Aunt May, was maybe one of the best stories of his career.

    -When Englehart returned to Batman for Dark Detective int eh 00s, it was a classic. Showing scarecrow and Two-Face as semi-weary figures, living the life of a villain and meeting almost as colleagues. Batman and Silver having to give up their happiness for a good man to have a life he deserves... the man's maturity was showing.

    -Starlin keeps moving Thanos further down the line.

    However, some classic writers have even said that one of the big two gave them a laundry list of things to do and very specific directions. It is not all the cases, but in those cases, lets just say it shows. They may be well written, but what is the point of getting the writer if you won't let them do their thing?

    I worry that it is especially dangerous now, with so much push FOR nostalgia in every place and in every way. It may seem a little too easy to just give into that. Quick buck and all that.

    Mot like in the late 70s with the electric car. The cars were unsafe, and had other problems, but the engineers wanted to fix them. But, it was considered not cost effective.

    Money is powerful.

    But, I guess there is not point in worrying until it happens.

    I remember reading redacted, hell of a series, but a terrible name. Redacted just made people think it was empty pages. Guess that is why they had to call you back to finish it.

    However, I assume they don;t want too much info on Redacted getting out, but can you at least confirm if your return to redacted and its unbelievable adventures WILL happen, or if it is still in talks?

    Also, I noticed you did not dispute the serial killer thing. be careful, or you will wind up like this fellow...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYtZ639nSIA

    but without the same fortunate ending...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45RqnCxJZjs

    Beware.



    Dematteis.

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    1. I am working on (REDACTED)—and having a lot of fun with it—as we speak, Jack. And no laundry list was presented to me.

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    2. Ah yes, (REDACTED). I hope you are able to build on form when (REDACTED) and (REDACTED) went to (REDACTED) and an into into (REDACTED). Or that (REDACTED)'s relationship with (REDACTED) was the heart of the whole series.

      Hopefully you will be able to explore forgotten areas like (REDACTED), (REDACTED), (REDACTED), and of course (REDACTED).

      Just discussing it beings back memories of some truly amazing and unforgettable storytelling. Who wouldn't. I probably just gave away your whole story!


      Jack

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    3. Someone clearly slipped you the script!

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    4. I'll never tell, but in fairness, you did give a lot away. You've got to watch that. Loose lips and all that.

      If you ever want to leave the world of Nostalgia, I think you should write a Miles Morales story, where through a self insert, you tell Miles how gentrification robbed Brooklyn of its soul. Just like how Stan and Jack would use the idea to bring ideas craft a relationship, you can tell Miles how he lives in a world without grit or personality.

      THE STORY ACTION FANS DEMAND!

      Of course it has to be drawn by Sal buscema, you aren't a real Spider-person until you have been drawn by a Romita or a Buscema. Why do you think there have been so many Spider-women? None drawn by either. At least not in there own books, or maybe they did, I'm not going to go back and check/

      And before you ask why May Parker's Spider-girl lasted, Buscema drew MJ pregnant with her... that counts.

      Come on Dematteis, everyone knows these rules that I ma making up on the fly.

      Also, as much as I live the JLD, if...IF... the stars all align in just the right way, and it does come, my favorite part will be you explaining in interviews that the idea's origin was an offhand joke about a story from year earlier not being published because you killed Vibe, made by some weirdo on your website. That... THAT will be the best part.


      Jack

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    5. I'd never call you a "weirdo," Jack!

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    6. Why not, its apt?

      At least you aren't claiming that you wouldn't lecture Miles on how he'll never know the REAL Brooklyn. I can see it now...

      "You'll never know a good knish!"

      "That right there... Mrs. Mortelli's flower shop. Best in the city! Amazing Memories! Mugged there three times! Now it sells... BEES!? Bees buzz all around, why are they sellin' 'em!"

      "This whole damn city's gone soft and is making you kids soft!"

      By the way, I like to think that when you get angry you start talking in a REALLY thick Brooklyn accent. Almost cartoonish.

      "You call dis a bagel, dey make better bagels in Las Angelees! ya damn nudnik, wich yer crazy views and ways-is!"

      And to loop it back around to Vibe, because why the Hell not... I met a friend when he came to Wayne State to study something.

      He was a little older than me, so still born the 80s, and grew up in the same neighborhood his family moved into when they came to America... has to be like 100 a years ago now.

      He lamented the fact that he had grown u in a working class city environment, and by that time (mid to late 00s) had started to see it vanish from the neighborhood, borough and city.

      So, he kind of gathered a real enjpyment of Detorit, and some of the more working class (and, I didn't have the heart to tel him in the case of Royal Oak, former) suburbs. Metro Detroit is kind of designed weird.

      I said of that to partially nudge you and point out it would not be that different, but more to assure you. Yes I brought up "going Brooklyn" but yes, I can at times "Go Detroit.

      No real accent (at least different from my normal. But there is an attitude that would not come out in my day to day.

      So it comes from a place of getting it.


      Jack

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    7. I lost my Brooklyn accent many years ago, but every once in a while it slips through and surprises me. You can take the boy out of Brooklyn...

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    8. But, would you break it out as you lecture Miles Morales about the "real Brooklyn?"

      Really drive it home.


      Jack

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    9. Well, you might not have your accent, but you still have all your memories of Summertime there. Goin' down to the crick to catch frogs, skipping down to the swimmin' hole, hasting fireflies in your neighbor's wheat field, waiting anxiously for the county fair to to show up so you can play the games and gander at the prized pigs while smelling ht blue ribbon pies, and falling asleep under a the only lights for miles around, the moon and a field of uninterrupted starlight.

      Ahhh, summer in Brooklyn, a rustic dream come true. A Norman Rockwell painting come to life if you will.



      Jack

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    10. Is it just me, or was the television show Wild, Wild West more or less noticing westerns were on the way out, and spy shows were on the way in, so they just combined the two?

      Anyway, as for nostalgia...

      It is weird Marvel and DC are so embracing nostalgia, since it has caused some issues for the comic world outside those working (and within). It seems to me like if people could get over some of this stuff we could have a best of both worlds scenario.

      Steve Rogers will assuredly be replaced by Sam again, to match up with the films.

      I am also convinced that with issue #1000 of the Amazing Spider-Man, which given the three tines a month that is coming is not that far away, Miles Morales will take over as the only Spider-Man.

      That is actually why I think Ben Reilly is back (which, is what I think (Redacted is, or something for the Spider-Man 60th anniversary issue 900 in June), to kill off the only other person who could claim the title 100 issues later.

      But whether that theory is right or wrong is not the point, but what it and the inevitable return of Sam COULD mean in terms of possibility.

      The nostalgic idea that Steve HAS to be Cap and Pete HAS to be Spidey has always been a problem. Fans and many creatives want the characters to grow or have more complex views on the world, but the business side wants them for lunchboxes.

      But it is not Steve and Pete that sell lunchboxes, it is Captain America and Spider-Man.

      With Miles and Sam in those rolls, Pete could move to another city. be married to MJ and continue to grow... just not as SPider-Man.

      These are just two examples of possible ways getting over these issues can make everyone happy. And I am not fully opposed to old properties, I put JLInfinity on my pull list, and will at least check out Superman 78 and Batman 89.

      But, if you can get over the nostalgia disease (Marvel, DC, AND readers), everyone could be happy. Well, not really. We are still talking about comic readers, none of us are ever REALLY happy.

      Now, I know what you are thinking. Sure,
      Carmine Infantino did important work on the Flash, but what did his nephew ever do for the character?

      Well, Dematteis, he wrote this song

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odU1bHaYNDQ



      Jack

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    11. Yes, my best friend Opie and I spent many an idyllic summer that way. You really know Brooklyn!

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    12. And it's not a bad song, either!

      Based on what I've read online, Ben is the one taking over from Peter. But you can bet (this isn't inside info) that Peter will be back. As he should be.

      Pete move to another city, married to MJ? Why does that sound familiar? Oh, yeah, that was the plan during the Clone Saga. Pete and MJ live happily ever after and Ben steps up to be Spidey. Those kids knew what they were doing back then, didn't they?

      Delete
    13. Everyone knows that about Brooklyn Dematteis. Its like the oldest stereotype in the country. You ask anyone, from anywhere to describe Brooklyn New York and you will have the exact same description... almost. I cut out some of the more sappy Americana elements, because they disgust me so.

      I have been reading comics so long I not only KNOW Peter is coming back, but that it will be the first week of June 2022, which is issue #900 AND within days of the anniversary of Amazing Fantasy #15 hitting the stands. It really is just too obvious.

      Though, I do think Marvel will at some point have Miles take over as the only Spider-man, especially since he has been referenced on the MCU as existing. It is inevitable that the switch will happen in the movies, and they will want the two to match.

      Whether or not my theory would be successful is another question, but Miles has been the most successful character created in the past decade, people (rightfully) loved Into the Spider-Verse, and it would add freshness.

      As long as they did not Kill Pete, I think it would have a chance.

      Yes, back in the Clone Saga Pete and MJ did move to Portland, my guess is setting the trend for hipsters in the coming decades

      The story was enjoyable, but a born and bred New Yorker moving to the West Coast voluntarily? That is the height of ridiculousness. Especially since not once did he complain in the Final Adventure mini series. Even for a story with people gaining powers from irradiated spiders and fighting guys with metal tentacles and alien goo, that is a little far fetched.

      No, I think there is a better example. Back in 2012, around #700, there was a back up feature by some crazy hippie, drunk on his own good vibrations who wrote a story where he wound up in Chicago. That sounds much more realistic of a choice for Pete and MJ.

      Too bad no one knows who that writer was, we could ask him how he understood such a choice so perfectly.


      Jack

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    14. Has it been that long since AMAZING #700? "Time is a jet plane," as Bob Dylan observed, "it moves too fast." I loved that story. It was my way of paying tribute to Spider-Man's entire history...and my personal history with the character.

      And I hope you enjoy (REDACTED) as soon as (REDACTED) lets me talk about it. In the meantime, JL INFINITY hits the shops next week!

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  6. Actually Dematteis, I believe the Dylan quote was, "She was gazin' to the future, riding on the Jack of Hearts."

    Don't feel bad, it is a very common mistake.

    The most important thing you realized is that Spider-man belongs in the Great Lakes. It actually may work as the best "Spider-Man: The End" story.

    If history is any indicator, you will have the ability to talk about (REDACTED) before I have the chance to read/watch (REDACTED).

    JL Infinity is already on my pull list for next week... Dematteis. I need to do my part to make it sell well, if I want to hear the interview where you explain the JLD starring sequel.

    As for your nostalgic, small town, Americana upbringing, the last movie I saw in theaters was "It's a Wonderful Life" in Dec. 2019. And I saw it at this Mama Jama...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HID2iaGx2H8

    Interesting side note, that is the same theater my Dad went to as a youth, and quite possibly that Michael Dunn and comic folk Michael Netzer and Gary Reed attended. Okay.. I take it back, that wasn't interesting.


    Jack

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    Replies
    1. What a great old theater.

      We had a number of local movie houses in my neighborhood growing up, but the king of them all was this:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83NOdIXot3s

      The good news is that the theater was indeed resurrected and restored and it's now thriving again, primarily as a venue for live shows.

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    2. I won't lie Dematteis, overtime I hear "old Theater" in New York, I think of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer ins involved with the revival theater.

      So I assume you often cured Lloyd Braun.

      The funny thing is, Post-COVID, the old theaters are the ones most likely to survive. Going to them is seeing something you could see at home.

      I had seen It's a Wonderful lie before, and Taxi Driver (another trip there), but seeing it at teh Redford was really neat.

      Though, if there is one thing I learned from Frank Miller's Daredevil, a revival theater is a great way to be killed by an insane Bullseye or stabbed through the seat by Elektra.

      You think the theater is is interesting, chck this out...

      https://www.johnkingbooksdetroit.com/

      One of the biggest used book stores in the nation.


      Jack

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    3. I saw Taxi Driver at the Kings when it first came out!

      Old book stores are the best...unless you're mold-sensitive like I am. But I still appreciate them.

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    4. Funy thing is, that the big "Movie Palace was Fox Theater, so much so that it gave Fox town its name.

      However, it long ago transferred to live theater. But it was and is very much the opulent building.

      I am not find of how Mlive's video on the Redford, since it starts with all those images of blight. I won't pretend that there are not parts of the city like that, but not the area the theater is in. It might do more harm then good.

      But I think it is somewhat... poetic that The Redford was the last of the "fancy" theaters standing.

      Despite all the magnificent things built in the city's golden age like the Opera House, Belle Isle and its Amazing aquarium (oldest functioning in the world), the Figher building with its own opulent theater and golden Tower (no... seriously, until WWII it had LITERAL gold on the top of it), Detroit has always been known for and had pride in its working class roots.

      Now I know, back in the 50-90s, Brooklyn was known for its very accurate stereotypes of giant penthouses for everyone, and people not being able to even enter the borough if you made less than six figures, and caviar, foie gras, diamond-encrusted lobster, and champagne were sold at every corner store. But here there is a bit of pride in the working class roots even going up to the middle class and even wealthy folks.

      So much so that in the last election one of our senate candidates, after his failed first run toughening being a job creator in mold of a certain other politician, tried to come off as just a working class guy from Detroit. Despite him being from Palmer Woods, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city.

      Point is, there is a lot of power in that idea. SO it is kind of cool that the place that can give a glimpse into that time period is somewhere where factory workers used to go, or in the case of my great-grandfather an immigrant carpenter.

      And across the street is a coffees house where A city Councilman pre-COVID had monthly meetings to discuss things with the community (he has moved it online). Next door is a place that helps clean up and repair blighted areas in the city.



      Jack

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    5. You are a man who loves his city!

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    6. No. I like Detroit. I think loving a city is odd. Loving a person or people makes sense. There are a lot of great things here, but it is hardly the only place in the world that has cool stuff.

      You can find cool and interesting stuff anywhere if you know where to look.

      The larger point is that you can't talk about a place without also talking about its people.

      It does seem like that is a fact that is often forgotten, and that the American people seem to want an image they have of Detroit to be fact... Basically a third world country is one I have seen recently. Even one of the the folks who has interviewed you a few times (I won't name names, the point is how common it is) seems to love shitting on this place whenever the topic comes up.

      I however have known many people who have worked hard as part of the Detroit Renaissance over the past 15-20 years, to really make the city what people know is there. They certainly don;t deserve to have their passion and work ignored just because willfully ignorant people who want a cheap joke or to feel better about whatever nonsense is going on where they live.

      So, in their honor, I stem the tide of absolute horseshit like state (and I could give you a list, and trying to undo my vote six times last year for wink-wink-nudge-nudge reasons is not even int he top ten), I tell people about what is here any change I get. Even if don;t think the person is under such delusions, because they may offhand mention it to someone who does believe it.

      Also I really like history and the sociological events of how things happen and cultures and subcultures for, so that kind of bleed in,

      Wow, that got kind of heavy, sorry about that.

      But the Larger and MORE IMPORTANT point is,how is that Sunshine seven movie and three Diuney plus series saga for Marvel Studios doin?

      You are supposed to be working on that! Not this Justice League nonsense filled with charters no one could even name off hand? You have worked in the industry for decades, and did you even know what A Batsman or a Floosh or whatever they are called, were before you took this assignment.

      Stop with the borderline Indie peanuts and work on the commercially viable, Sunshine Epic for our time that the people demand!

      Save the passion projects for later, make the cash now.

      Jack

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    7. I'll get on it right away, chief!

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    8. Good. Hopefully you won't get distracted with another story about that Spider-gut you keep going back to.

      You have been trying for 40 years, Dematteis. IF the character was going to take off it would have happened by know. Stop being an Atlanta public school textbook and get off the lost cause.

      Stick to the moneymakers, Sunshine, Frog-Man, White Rabbit, Elizabeth Tyne, The Scriers, and Arnie Roth... the established names for those OUTSIDE of comics. You have to remember it is bigger than the books now. Those are the names that the common man know, you have to go deep into the comic book stores, to find the hardest of hardcore fans to even have a faint inkling of a half memory or who this Arachnid-person you keep writing even looks like

      Chip-chop-chip.



      Jack

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    9. Well, in the past year Frog-Man and White Rabbit have gotten their own action figures, so maybe they really WILL take over the world.

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