Mourning in America with Lady Death, Part 2 -

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Mourning in America with Lady Death, Part 2

Writer John Ostrander takes Chaos! Comics' Bad Girl into deadly territory with a miniseries about AIDS and loss

By Arnold T. Blumberg     August 10, 2002

...And still more preview artwork from LADY DEATH: THE MOURNING.
© 2002 Chaos! Comics
Last time, writer John Ostrander gave us the scoop on the new Lady Death story arc, THE MOURNING. In Part 2, he explains why Lady Death isn't just another "bad girl," chats a bit about his opinion of the so-called "mainstreaming" of the Chaos! Universe, and tells us what else is on his slate for the rest of the year. So off we go!

Whether readers find elements of the new storyline uncomfortable or not, Lady Death followers will probably brave those 'horrific elements' in order to see their heroine in action once again. While Lady Death grew out of the comic book 'Bad Girl' phenomenon of the 1990s, she was one of the only survivors when the inevitable shakeout arrived, and she still has a very strong fan base in the comic community. For Ostrander, she's an example of a character that seems to be one thing on the surface, but actually offers much, much more.

"Because it's not just T&A, much as some readers may think otherwise," says Ostrander. "Invariably, it's people who have never deigned to read the book who think that. Also, [Chaos! publisher] Brian Pulido works very hard and stays close to his readers and the retailers. It seems to me that the fans feel a personal connection with Brian and Chaos! Often you have fans here who don't read any other comics, but they are fanatical in their devotion to Chaos!"

Lately, however, the Lady Death and Chaos! readership has expanded beyond those fanatical devotees thanks to a company-wide makeover that has seen Lady Death and other Chaos! characters like Purgatori gain some flesh tone and additional character development. Some have seen it as an attempt to make the Chaos! characters more 'mainstream,' but Ostrander thinks it's just part of the natural development of the material.

More preview artwork from LADY DEATH: THE MOURNING.

"I don't know if it was a desire to make the character more mainstream as [it was an attempt] to bring more mainstream people into the Chaos! universe to see that there is more there than the obvious, which there is," says Ostrander. "No character can remain static. It must change and adapt, if possible, to the times. Part of the resilience of such icons as Batman and Superman is that, far from never changing, they have often been re-worked or re-imagined for the time. The same thing is happening with Lady Death. We're just trying to make it an organic growth."

That growth won't end with THE MOURNING either. Ostrander is also penning this summer's enormous crossover project for Chaos!, one that may make history for the comic publisher and push the evolution of the characters forward by leaps and bounds. It's called LADY DEATH: DARK ALLIANCE, and it's a big deal for Chaos! fans and creators alike.

"[It's a] major event in the Chaos! universe, with an unprecedented (to my knowledge) gathering of the Chaos! characters in one place," says Ostrander. "It's something the Chaos! fans have been looking forward to, but with twists I don't think they're expecting. It started in June, with pencils by Ivan Reis."

But don't think Lady Death consumes all of Ostrander's time. He also dabbles in a certain other galaxy far, far away.

Preview artwork for LADY DEATH: THE MOURNING.

"[I'm] doing lots of STAR WARS stuff over at Dark Horse," says Ostrander, referring to the recent RITE OF PASSAGE with Jan Duursema, followed by HONOR AND DUTY. Ostrander is also responsible for this summer's Marvel western romp, APACHE SKIES.

"Leo Manco [did the artwork] and it is breathtakingly beautiful," says Ostrander. "I'm also doing some work at DC with LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT - a three-issue storyline called "Loyalties" - and a one-issue fill-in for THE SPECTRE #19, a self-contained story."

While he may be very busy, he hasn't shortchanged Death's Avatar by a long shot. Thanks to creators like Ostrander, Chaos! has set its sights on making this a very exciting summer for Lady Death fans, and if everything goes well, readers won't be mourning her loss for years to come.

Next time, we wrap up our look at the fall of Lady Death (not an actual fall, you understand, just the autumn season) and chat with writer Dan Jolley, who will explain how the Chaos! Queen will shortly encounter another white-faced avenger - the Crow!



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