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San Diego Comic Con Report

New projects and creators announced as publishers unveil their plans.

By Matthew F. Saunders     July 21, 2000

'Tis the season for big announcements. As the annual San Diego Comic Con got underway on Thursday, the industry's big publishers have begun unveiling their plans for the coming year, teasing fans with new projects and creative changes. For those of you not lucky enough to make the trek out to sunny California, have no fear. Today's tidbits:

·Marvel Comics is relaunching The Defenders, thanks to Avengers writer Kurt Busiek and Savage Dragon creator-writer-penciler Erik Larsen. The duo will share writing chores, with Larsen of course providing the art. Fans of the original series will be pleased to learn that the book will feature the original lineup of the Hulk, Namor the Submariner and Dr. Strange, as well as the team's second tier characters such as the Silver Surfer, Nighthawk, Hellcat and Valkyrie. The original series was a long-time Marvel staple in the 1970s and early 80s, before being cancelled with issue #152. A short-lived revival entitled The Secret Defenders was published in the 1990s, but featured few of the original characters and failed to catch on with fans. The new book is scheduled to debut in December.

·Jim Krueger, writer of Marvel's immensely popular Earth X maxi-series and its upcoming sequel, Universe X, told Fandom that a fifth Universe X one-shot has been added to the schedule: Universe X: Spidey. Previously unannounced, the Spider-Man one-shot is slated for November and will be written by Krueger, with pencils by Butch Guice. According to Krueger, the story 'will shed new light and give a new perspective to the Gwen Stacy part of [Spider-Man alter-ego] Peter Parker's life.' Gwen Stacy is of course Spider-Man's deceased girlfriend, who was killed by his archenemy, the original Green Goblin in Amazing Spider-Man #121. Krueger also revealed that classic Spider-Man artist John Romita Sr., the artist most associated with the Gwen Stacy era of Spider-Man, will ink the Gwen pages of the issue.

·While it's not really news that they're publishing it, Marvel also confirmed that the new Fantastic Four Masterworks, which reprints Fantastic Four #51-#60, will finally be published in November. For those unfamiliar with the Masterworks series, they're hardcover collections of Marvel's earliest work, similar to DC Comics' popular Archive collections. Marvel, which has experienced trying financial times in recent years, not the least of which was filing bankruptcy, discontinued the Masterworks line due in part to lackluster sales and the inability to underwrite such reprint projects. While Marvel's recently been repackaging existing Masterworks, fans have been clamoring for new editions for years, and Marvel has decided to try again. According to project editor Tom Brevoort, who also edits Marvel's popular Avengers series, the new edition is being printed not just to satisfy fan requests, but also to test fan commitment to the product. The message to fans: If you buy it, more will come. If sales are poor, don't expect further editions anytime soon.

·DC announced and reconfirmed a number of new Vertigo titles. They include Outlaw Nation, a new monthly from writer Jamie Delano, who is best known for his long-run on Vertigo's Hellblazer. Next up is Crusades, which marks the return of writer Steve Seagle to Vertigo. Seagle, best known for House of Secrets and Sandman Mystery Theater, will be joined by artist Kelly Jones on the series. And finally, Vertigo will publish a graphic novel entitled House on the Borderland, which is due out at the end of the year. Drawn by Richard Corbin and written by Simon Rolstroke, it's an adaptation of the end-of-the-world science fiction novel by William Hope Hodgson (whose short story 'The Voice in the Night' served as the inspiration for a Japanese horror film Mantango, a.k.a. Attack of the Mushroom People).

·Batman writer Ed Brubaker will be taking over writing chores on Catwoman. Joining him will be artist Staz Johnson, former artist of fellow Batman family book, Robin. Their first issue on the series was not announced. While Brubaker's exact plans for the title also weren't detailed, he said he wants to make it more of a crime comic starring Catwoman, instead of the book's traditional focus on her as simply a catburgler. While this seems to split hairs, he remained coy about explaining the distinction further.

·Batman readers can look forward to more appearances from Superman archenemy Lex Luthor in the Bat-books. As previously reported on Fandom, Luthor is running for president, and given the character's heavy involvement in the rebuilding of Gotham City during the recent 'No Man's Land' storyline, it only makes sense that the city's 'savior' would campaign for the Gotham vote. Of course, Batman, who's well aware of Luthor's criminal activities, will be less than thrilled to see Luthor return to the city.

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