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Monday, July 27, 2009 

I do not look forward to JMS writing 4 onetime Archie Comics heroes

The Nashua Telegraph is babbling about J. Michael Stracynski's writing four heroes who were once published by Archie Comics (or by "Pep Comics", which may have been under the same ownership), but with his political slant, that's why I have to wonder if they won't be tarnished:
One of the most popular writers in fiction will be bringing the very first patriotic superhero to DC Comics – and no, the character isn't who you think it is, and he isn't coming alone.

Brief history lesson: In January 1940 – 14 months before Captain America debuted – MLJ Comics launched The Shield in "Pep Comics" No. 1. The flag-draped superhero – secretly, Joe Higgins of the FBI – proved pretty popular and launched a wave of super-types at MLJ.

[...]

What makes this time different? The presence of superstar writer J. Michael Straczynski, creator/writer of "Babylon 5," who is just coming off a successful run at Marvel.
Not surprisingly, not a word mentioned of how really, it wasn't, if we're to recall the jaw-droppingly awful One More Day. And JMS may be a superstar in movies and TV writing, but he won't, and doesn't deserve to be, in comics writing.
DC Universe chief "Dan DiDio came to me with the roster after they'd finished acquiring the rights," Straczynski said, "and basically said, 'Here they are if you want to play with them.' "

And he did, writing four one-shots, introducing updated versions of The Hangman, Inferno, The Web and, of course, The Shield. But why these four characters, out of the dozens Archie is leasing to DC?

"DC gave me total flexibility in which I chose to go with," Straczynski said, "and I decided on those four characters that gave me the widest range, from the classic superhero (The Web) to the more supernatural hero (The Hangman), the very American hero (The Shield) and a mystery hero (Inferno). I liked the symmetry of that."
I'm personally wondering if any updates he'll do include his leftist leanings. In fact, if the following is any clue:
Last, and least changed, is The Shield.

"There are some things you change because they merit changing and some things you leave alone if they work, and much of The Shield's background worked," JMS said. "One of the conscious choices made in bringing the character back was to set him in the military theater as an instrument of policy, rather than having him fighting in the streets, which separates him out from Captain America. . . .

"There aren't a lot of books out there that are set strongly within the current military."
Hey, I wonder if maybe there are changes made to the Shield! Like, maybe it'll be negative to the army. JMS did, after all, once write a Marvel MAX take on Squadron Supreme that featured a blame-America message. Interestingly enough, he didn't finish writing the miniseries himself (according to this review page on the AV Club, Howard Chaykin just recently wrote the rest, and just as badly), and left it in the middle. It should've remained that way (so too, in fact, should Kevin Smith's wretched Black Cat miniseries).

What JMS is suggesting in the article is that the Shield will be depicted in his story as a tool for the military, and probably decides to go against them because he doesn't like their policies, or, those that JMS doesn't like. Realizing what his political stance is like, I wouldn't put it past him, nor would I be surprised if DC allows him to.
"These characters have a very long history," DiDio said, "and we want to make sure we're adding to that. . . . My hope is that this is not a short-term agreement, (but) something that will have a long-lasting effect on the DCU."
With their current track record, it won't surprise me if this ends up in the bargain bin with very short-term effects left in its wake, and I won't be surprised if JMS does add to them, via the art of subtraction.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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