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Comicscape January 19, 2005

Phil Jimenez brings us to an OTHERWORLD

By Tony Whitt     January 19, 2005


Phil Jimenez writes and illustrates the 12-issue Vertigo fantasy series OTHERWORLD.
© Vertigo/DC Comics
Before I begin this week's column, I have an announcement to make: my last COMICSCAPE column will be Wednesday, February 2, and my last review for CINESCAPE for the time being will also appear that week. I'm sure there's at least one or two readers who will immediately start coming up with some conspiracy theory regarding what they see as my sudden decision to leave a job I've held for the past three years or so, so let me just say that the decision is neither sudden nor forced by any editorial edict, reader complaints, or anything of that sort. (Like I'd be fired over a reader complaint, anyway please!) As much as I've enjoyed putting these columns together for you these past few years, it's simply time to move on there are other projects I'd like to pursue, and leaving CINESCAPE for the time being is the only way to free up sufficient time to pursue them. I won't have completely disappeared off the radar, though, and I'm sure that if you Google me, you'll find me cropping up in the Webscape here and there. My colleague Kurt Amacker will be taking over the task of producing this column and all the weekly reviews starting the week of February 7, and I hope you'll give him all the support you've always given me. And speaking of that support, I need your help I have no idea what you'd like my last two columns to be about, and I'd appreciate you sending in some ideas by this Friday. Tell me what you want to hear me expound upon in these last two weeks! Send your ideas to me either here or here, and I'll choose the best two to craft my remaining columns around. (I'll probably pass the rest of the suggestions on to Kurt, though something tells me he won't be without his ideas!)



Now, on to the important stuff:



You've no doubt heard the name Phil Jimenez if you've read any comics at all in the last ten years.

Full cover to OTHERWORLD #1.

After moving to New York for art school at Manhattan's School of Visual Arts in the early 90s, Jimenez made a name for himself primarily at DC Comics on such titles as TEAM TITANS and THE INVISIBLES VOL. 2, though his work has also appeared in such various projects as Wildstorm's PLANETARY/AUTHORITY and Marvel's NEW X-MEN. Jimenez crossed over from the artist to the writer's chair in 2000 with WONDER WOMAN, a title he had been wanting to work on ever since beginning his career in comics. While that experience ended up being somewhat bittersweet for Jimenez, the draw of writing his own series has persisted. Starting March 30th, Jimenez will achieve that goal with OTHERWORLD, a twelve-issue creator-owned maxiseries from Vertigo, for which Jimenez will also do penciling. Andy Lanning will provide the inks and Jeremy Cox will provide coloring.



OTHERWORLD focuses on the adventures of Siobhan Monyihan and a group of her friends who are kidnapped from present day Los Angeles and taken to the Otherworld, a world described in Celtic mythology which exists in another dimension. There, Siobhan and her friends are forced to fight in a border war, resulting in Siobhan's transformation from a privileged college student with liberal anti-war attitudes into a sorceress faced with the challenge of leading a magical army against an enemy armed with technology. As Jimenez says, "OTHERWORLD is at its heart an exploration of some of prevalent themes running through our world today - religious fundamentalism, unfettered capitalism, globalized monoculture, sexual mores, and the viability of war, all told in a fantastic, mythological setting."



I spoke to Jimenez recently about the project, which he's understandably very excited about,

A page from Phil Jimenez's magical tale called OTHERWORLD.

especially as it's been percolating in the back of his mind for more than ten years now. "OTHERWORLD," he says, "is one of those projects I think all fiction writers have within them: a personal epic that takes place in a special world we've imagined for years and create ourselves (as opposed to a preexisting universe, á la the DC or Marvel Universes, the STAR WARS or STAR TREK universes, etc). OTHERWORLD's roots go back more than a decade, when I was creating comic books for friends of mine, featuring them as super-powered characters. Another creative factor - seemingly small, but ultimately life changing - occurred during college. I was at Westpoint, the military academy, and I found an anonymous quote on the walls of the museum there. It said, 'No one wins in war. No one.' The quote had such a profound effect on me, on my worldview, and, ultimately, it was an idea I wanted to explore in OTHERWORLD.

"It really started to take shape during the first Gulf War. I was in college, at the School of Visual Arts, and the roots and politics of that war, and of war itself, and those conversations, in school and in the dorms, really molded the roots of OTHERWORLD and my goals for it. Having worked on it on and off for years, I dusted the proposal off after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, to see if it had resonance - and it had lots. I retailored the proposal for Vertigo, believing that, despite its sci-fi/fantasy roots, the political nature of the book would interest Vertigo readers and Karen Berger, the executive editor of the imprint. I got an amazing editor, Will Dennis, to really help me shape the proposal up, and, voila - a new book coming out in March."



Another exciting aspect of the project for Jimenez is the fact that OTHERWORLD is "creator-owned" and as we've seen in the past, some of the best books to come from the Vertigo imprint have been of this sort. "For me," Jimenez says, "it simply means more control over the destinies of these characters and the direction of the book. It means not having to worry about corporate concerns about movie franchises affecting the outcome of the story - as of now, the only ones affecting the outcome of the story are me, Will Dennis and Karen Berger. It's very different from my work on WONDER WOMAN for example, where, for almost two years, some very unfortunate editorial and company decisions affected the pacing and outcome of nearly every story I wrote, including two major crossovers (and coupled with the tragic of events of 9-11). My hope is that this project will be successful enough to warrant other volumes - my end goal - and I can explore the various sociopolitical themes occurring in the world which so interest me now, and have been infused in the book."



While there have been several books lately about female characters who wield magic, Jimenez

A page from Phil Jimenez's magical tale called OTHERWORLD.

feels that Siobhan Monyihan will strike readers very differently: "Siobhan's magic and her life is ultimately affected by her point of view, her world view - which is similar to mine when I was her age. What makes Siobhan unique from other mystic characters, and even fictional 'saviors' like BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER - is her political point of view and her inability to accept certain ideas about art, war, and society. She's a sheltered idealist who's never truly been confronted with the realities she rails against. How will she deal with that? How would I deal with that? I've had the good fortune of not having to. In some ways, I'm exploring my own beliefs through this character, my own reactions, my own concerns, and asking myself, along with Siobhan, the big question: when there's something bad out there in the world, and you know about it - with media, how can you not know? How much of the life you live are you willing to give up to make the world a better place? How much are you willing to sacrifice? What is your moral responsibility to do so?



"The other thing I like about Siobhan," Jimenez continues, "is that she's young, hardly perfect, making sometimes disastrous decisions because she's an idealist and because she's still a child. There's great potential for growth in a character like that. [I also] hope that this character appeals to women, and that they find something of themselves in Siobhan and her power. I think female characters in these positions are great for advancing the readership of girls and women, and that's forever a goal of mine."



That goal is reflected in his previous work, especially in his run on WONDER WOMAN, and despite the difficulties he had on that title, he still speaks of the character with admiration: "Wonder Woman is easily one of the most difficult characters to write I think, because she's so multifaceted, and because so many people share a different vision of her... The spirit of that character - the idea that this hero, who's not a space policeman or a psychotic avenger of the night, wants nothing more than to teach human beings how to peacefully coexist with each other, still chokes me up. How can that not be something to aspire to? How can that not be the kind of hero people look up to and try to emulate? I certainly do.



"If I was to go back to that book, I would try less to please her diverse readership, which is impossible, and try to infuse it with more politics, social commentary, feminist thinking, etc (knowing that that changes generationally, but I think Wonder Woman is a fantastic character to get people at least thinking about their place in a sociopolitical landscape). The thing I had really hoped to do was amp up her Rogue's Gallery, but it's very hard to get non-Wonder Woman fans to take many of her villains seriously, no matter how horrifying or deadly they are. And I would put my foot down, enforce continuity, and avoid company crossovers like the plague (unless, like OUR WORLDS AT WAR, I could have an active role in shaping the crossover in the pages of her own book). I still adore drawing Wonder Woman, for sure. It's an absolute thrill. I hope she's a part of my life for a long time to come."



The work he's most proud of in his career so far, however, is "TEMPEST, the four issue miniseries I wrote and drew years ago. That's probably my favorite work - it's the most 'pure' in the sense that I wrote and drew from the heart, not considering 'rules' of story or corporate needs, and got something that spoke so deeply to so many. Now I have to 'unlearn what I've learned', as Yoda says, and get back to that more instinctual, primal kind of storytelling."



Jimenez has very strong feelings regarding the need for such storytelling, particularly as so many contemporary books seem to be lacking it: "If I have a general issue [with the comics industry right now], it's with the bizarre influx of poor storytelling that I think is a hold over from the Rob Leifeld days of the 90's. Looking on the classic storytellers of the past, and some of the great ones of now, I'm still so sad that young artists eschew basic storytelling for the splash - especially because it's such a fun, fun process, creating the world for these characters to exist in... Telling stories to other people is a huge gift. The fact that they allow entertainers of any types into peoples' lives, they allow us to entertain them and make their lives better, is a huge responsibility. I wish more people took it seriously."



OTHERWORLD may well

A page from Phil Jimenez's magical tale called OTHERWORLD.

reflect that sense of responsibility, and it helps that Jimenez is backed up by a creative team he has nothing but praise for: "My creative team is awesome. Inker Andy Lanning is doing the best work of his career - and Jeremy Cox, who has colored Alan Moore's PROMETHEA, is so good it's sick. These two are the unsung heroes of this project. Their work makes mine look a thousand times better, and the success of this project hinges hugely on their very, very talented contributions.



"With OTHERWORLD," Jimenez continues, "I hope people enjoy the work, look at the art over and over, invest in the characters, and think about the questions I'm asking those characters and how they affect their lives. OTHERWORLD is great fun for so many reasons - fans of sci-fi, of fantasy, of super-heroes, and of social sciences can all find something in the work. But more than anything, it's been a great exercise for me, forced me to do so much research, to be proactive in the world I live in. I hope it does that for others as well."



Thanks, Phil! Sounds like an excellent book, and I'm sure we'll be hearing more about it in the months to come! Next week, we'll be looking at something completely different, but only if you write in and tell me what you want to hear about! Make sure to send those ideas to me either here or here, and I'll choose the best two as the foci for my last two COMICSCAPE columns. And as always, don't forget our discussion boards! In the meantime, here's this week's listings:



THIS WEEK:



It's not raining men this is a kids' comic, after all, but the POWERPUFF GIRLS do fight a Weather Girl in issue #58 ($2.25)!



Typically, I haven't a clue which issues are actually collected in the MARVEL AGE: SPIDER-MAN VOL 1 digest trade paperback this week for $5.99, but at that price, why wouldn't you buy it for the kids, you mean parent, you?



ABC presents Alan Moore, time anomalies, and Princess Pantha (whew!) in TERRA OBSCURA VOL 2 #5 (OF 6, $2.95) so why haven't you bought it yet?



Peter Milligan, writing a 2000 AD story? Believe it or not, that's exactly what the $17.95 BAD COMPANY: GOODBYE KROOL WORLD trade paperback is. I don't know anything more about it than that, but it's Milligan who needs to know anything more?



A

Cover to BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS #61.

new storyline featuring Ivy (and a cover by Cliff Chiang whoo hoo!) appear in BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS #61 ($2.50), while our girls face a life-sucking vigilante (no, not Bob Wayne) in BIRDS OF PREY #78 ($2.50).



The story of everyone's favorite assassin sorry, everyone's favorite male assassin, since everyone's favorite female one is Jennifer Garner in BULLSEYE: GREATEST HITS #5 (OF 5, $2.99).



The press releases for CABLE/DEADPOOL have become so stupid and nonsensical lately, they make even my descriptions look like the Best of Carson. Anyway, issue #11 is out this week for $2.99, and if you can figure out what it's all about, have a field day.



Terrorism, politics, and regime change: three great tastes that go great together. That's what you can expect from the CHAOS EFFECT trade paperback for $19.95, the latest Humanoids release, done by Christin and Bilal. And just remember, it's not unpatriotic if foreigners are saying it.



The story of the original Kingpin concludes in DAREDEVIL #69 ($2.99) and unlike our own Kingpin, I'm sure it has nothing to do with the Atkins Diet gone hideously wrong.



From Dark Horse this week comes BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL #97 ($2.99); Hellboy's buds in BPRD: THE DEAD #3 (OF 5, $2.99);
SAMURAI: HEAVEN & EARTH #2 (OF 5, $2.99); and the aptly-titled
SUPER MANGA BLAST #48 ($5.99).



It's teen-friendly, it collects six issues in one volume, and it's a bargain! In other words, the EMMA FROST VOL 2: MIND GAMES digest trade paperback for $7.99 is out this week. Buy now, and buy often!



It's

EXILES #58.

a stand-alone issue featuring Sasquatch's body which means Tony Bedard has already treated the character better than Scott Lobdell has in EXILES #58 ($2.99).



Those pesky undead are walking the streets of St. Roch again, and it's up to Deadman and the Hawks to stop them in HAWKMAN #36 ($2.50).



While we don't expect you to buy all of Image's output this week, you might find something interesting in this line-up: CASEFILES: SAM & TWITCH #12 ($2.50); the CLASSIC 40 OZ TALES FROM THE BROWN BAG trade paperback for $12.95; DAWN THREE TIERS #5 (OF 6, $2.95); PIGTALE #1 ($2.95); SAVAGE DRAGON: GOD WAR #1 (Of 3, $2.95); the SAVAGE DRAGON VOL 10: ENDGAME hardcover for $49.95 (no kidding); and SMALL GODS #6 ($2.95). Subtract $52.90 from that total, and you've got all the titles worth buying. I'll let you figure out the math.



Peter David finally reveals who killed the duplicate and why in MADROX #5 (OF 5,$2.99), which got a special mention as one of 2004's best comics. Time to find out why!



Kate has to face the biggest trials of both her careers, both as DA and as vigilante, in MANHUNTER #6 ($2.50). I'd still suggest she shouldn't give up her day job, but what do I know...



MARVEL MASTERWORKS: UNCANNY X-MEN VOL 5 new edition hardcover for $49.99 or the variant edition for $54.99

Two MAX titles for you this week, including the continuation of the DOCTOR SPECTRUM miniseries with #5 (OF 6, $2.99) and the SUPREME POWER VOL 1: CONTACT trade paperback for $14.99. You can stop reading now, really, since that's all you need to buy this week.



Oh, yeah, Wolverine guest-stars in NEW INVADERS #6 ($2.99) this week. Well, I did say you could stop reading, didn't I?



NIGHTCRAWLER

Cover to NIGHTCRAWLER #5.

takes the subway in issue #5 ($2.99). Guess the smell of sulfur got to be too much for him, too.



I haven't a thing to tell you about PLASTIC MAN #14 ($2.95), except that it doesn't suck and that you probably won't regret buying it. Hey, if DC thinks that's all they need to tell you, and that's all their press release comes down to, really, then who am I to argue?



Ok, so POWERS #8 ($2.95) features "a dead vigilante who ends up being the wrong guy in the right costume" and "a dead super-villain who ends up being the right guy in the wrong costume". Hmm. I take back what I said about those CABLE/DEADPOOL press releases...



Now that Tony Bedard and Karl Moline are taking over ROGUE with issue #7 ($2.99), this series just might be worth our collective time! Check it out!



SPACE GHOST - it's not just for kids anymore. In fact, it's not for kids at all anymore. Check out #3 (OF 6, $2.95) this week to see what I mean.



A man possessed by a multi-handed demon attacks a cricket game (it is India, after all) in SPIDER-MAN: INDIA #3 (OF 4, $2.99). Wait do they even have octupi in India?



Bet you've been losing sleep wondering just what happened to that armor of Luthor's from the first issue of IDENTITY CRISIS, huh? Oh. Well, you've find out anyway in TEEN TITANS #20 ($2.50).



Spidey gets to hang with his old buddy Stephen Strange in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #71($2.25), while the ULTIMATE X-MEN VOL 7: BLOCKBUSTER trade paperback collects some previous mutant mayhem for $12.99.



The usual

LUCIFER #58.

truckload of goodies from Vertigo this week includes the now-ongoing (?) BOOKS OF MAGICK: LIFE DURING WARTIME #7 ($2.50); a new storyline in HUMAN TARGET #18 ($2.95); a stand-alone issue (but with no Constantine, strangely enough) LUCIFER #58 ($2.50); the LUCIFER VOL 5: INFERNO trade paperback for $14.95; and TRIGGER #2 ($2.95). How you manage to afford anything else this week is your problem, though.



Open revolt begins in Wildstorm's AUTHORITY: REVOLUTION #4 (OF 12, $2.95), while the AUTHORITY: TRANSFER OF POWER trade paperback for $17.95 reminds us just why it's happening. Meanwhile, a completely different Presidency begins in EX MACHINA: THE FIRST HUNDRED DAYS trade paperback for $9.95 (geez, the Wildstorm universe has all the luck); and the SLEEPER VOL 2: ALL FALSE MOVES trade paperback for $17.95 is about something completely different. Sorry, but I got nuthin.



A transformed Diana fights her teammates in the JLA in WONDER WOMAN #212 ($2.25), which just goes to prove that your friends will never ever accept you if you change.



And finally, in the Wolverine section...er, I mean the X-Men section...no, I guess it is the Wolverine section after all...Logan goes after Daredevil in WOLVERINE #24 ($2.25); Logan goes after the Grim Reaper (and obviously loses) in WOLVERINE: THE END #6 (OF 6, $2.99); and Logan goes after Peter Milligan or vice versa as Milligan takes over with X-MEN #166 ($2.25). There's yet another book that's probably worth reading again...



Two weeks and counting!




Questions? Comments? Let us know what you think by e-mailing us here!

Comicscape is our weekly Comics column.

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