Duane Swierczynski is the man who made Archie Comics cuss.
When the company relaunches its superhero line as Dark Circle, the flagship title will be The Black Hood, in which Swierczynski and artist Michael Gaydos, co-creator of Alias, reinvent the character in an incredibly violent mature readers crime story focused on Greg Hettinger, a cop who gets injured in the line of duty while taking down a vigilante, and takes on the identity of the Black Hood in order to deal with the pain, frustration and rage that wells up as a result of his accident.
It's a brutal story that fits right in with Swierczynski's other work on books like Judge Dredd and Punisher, and as a result, it's also a pretty big departure from Archie's usual offerings, even in a time when the company is reinventing itself with critically acclaimed horror comics and a push for a more realistic Riverdale. To find out more, I spoke to Swierczynski to talk about the origins of the Black Hood as a hero for the bad side of Philadelphia, how far Hettinger has to fall, and, maybe most importantly, Swierczynski's own place in history as the first writer to work the F-bomb into an Archie book.
With a new hardcover omnibus of Alias by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, Marvel re-releases one of the most critically successful comics of the early 2000s. Apart from its various awards nominations and wins, it was one of just a few comics that everybody seemed to love, during an era when Marvel was equal parts creatively daring and ridiculously misguided. The first comic published under the mature readers MAX imprint, Alias officially broke ground on Marvel's R-rated label with an emphatic F-word, which immediately strikes one as both obvious and necessary. Unlike many other titles that sprung from the MAX imprint, though, Alias went far beyond than the gimmick of sex and cuss words in the Marvel Universe, and was easily one of the most readable comics on the stands for its entire twenty-eight-issue run.
That's just my memory, though, and I wouldn't exactly describe it as sharp. So how good is it on a re-read? Particularly as Marvel prepares a new live-action Netflix series based on the book, and has hinted as recently as last week that Jessica might be "getting back to work".
You probably haven't heard since they haven't really been making a big deal of it, but this year marks the official 75th Anniversary of Marvel Comics. Sort of. It actually marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of Marvel Comics #1, which introduced the world to the Human Torch and paved the way for the company that would eventually become the modern Marvel Comics which really came about in 1961, but you know what? That's a good enough reason for a party.
To that end, this week saw the release of the Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration, an anthology that caught my eye mostly because it features legendary and still hugely popular Batman: The Animated Series co-creator Bruce Timm adapting a Captain America story written by Stan Lee in 1941, and that is definitely something that I want to read. But with 55 pages in the anthology, there's a heck of a lot more in there besides, including the return of Alias by the original creative team of Bendis, Gaydos and Hollingsworth, and essays by comics journalists including our own Andrew Wheeler, making this one of those rare anthologies where it's all pretty good stuff.
The first three ongoing titles in Archie Comics' new Dark Circle line of superhero comics have been announced, and they offer an immediate glimpse of the diversity of the range, with one offbeat comedy book, one violent noir book, and what looks like a fairly classic legacy superhero story.
Duane Swierczynski and Michael Gaydos tackle noir in The Black Hood; Mark Waid and Dean Haspiel return for more of The Fox; and novelists Adam Christopher and Chuck Wendig join artist Wilfredo Torres on The Shield. All three titles have promise, but they paint a slightly different picture of the line than the forbidding 'Dark Circle' umbrella might have lead readers to expect!
While development of Guillermo del Toro and David Eick's version of The Hulk has been public knowledge since news broke last month, it looks like Marvel's first new live-action television series will actually be AKA Jessica Jones, based on the MAX Comics series Alias by Brian Michael Bendis that took a gritter look at the Marvel Universe through the eyes of a former superheroine turned private investigator. AKA Jessica
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