Saturday, April 23, 2005

Unfinished Business

With the news out that Hellshock (a series I never really got into, despite nice art from Jae Lee) is finally being completed, it makes me think back to other classic "unfinished" good comics.

I recently did a bit on Phoenix: Dawn by Osamu Tezuka, and Matt Brady among others mentioned that, sadly, Tezuka died before he could complete his massive epic. Still, we got TWELVE volumes out of it, so I guess we cannot complain.

Less lucky was Alan Moore's Big Numbers, which, due to reasons better explained here, lost both its first artist, Bill Sienkienwicz, AND its replacement artist (Sienkienwicz's assistant), Al Colombia.

Big Numbers only saw TWO issues published.

I was a big fan of Quantum and Woody, and when Valiant folded, I thought I would never see the book again. Luckily, a year or so later, the book returned! Christopher Priest pulled a perhaps silly routine, where he wrote the issue that WOULD have come out that month (had the book not ended) #32, instead of continuing with the next issue, #18, which they DID do the NEXT month. Sadly, only a few months passed before the revival was cut short.

Luckily, for fans of the book, Priest explained what his plans were on the book here, which is better than never knowing, right?

Okay, I will admit, those are actually the only good series that I can recall that were never finished.

The other ones that I remember where not particularly good (Marvel's Ghost Rider, lots of Liefeld projects, and Unity 2000).

Oh wait, I was a fan of the Negation War. That was good, I thought, and Crossgen went bankrupt before it ended. Although, wouldn't it be hilarious if Disney tried to continue THAT?

EDITED TO ADD: Obviously, as plok just mentioned, I would be an insane psycho to not mention the amazing 1963 line of comics by Alan Moore, Rick Veitch and Stephen Bissette. News of what is going on with that mess can be found here. In fact, I think I will do a bit on 1963 next week. That was a GREAT little group of comics.

Another EDITED TO ADD: Bill Reed pointed out another one I should certainly have mentoned, Jack Kirby's New Gods epic. Mark Evanier fills us in here about his thoughts/memories of the incomplete epic. How funny, in retrospect, is it that DC continued the numbering on the Mister Miracle series five years later withOUT Kirby!?!

Can anyone think of any other good comics that were never (or at least, as of right now) completed?


Anonymous plok said...

Omega the Unknown springs to mind.

4/23/2005 08:08:00 PM  
Anonymous plok said...

Also 1963, of course.

4/23/2005 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Thanks for 1963, I must have had a brain freeze.

As for Omega, did you dig Omega? It seemed kinda lame to me.

4/23/2005 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Johnny B said...

The Andy Helfer/Kyle Baker Shadow.

4/23/2005 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger Lex said...

Negation was the only CrossGen book I was getting as a monthly (I collected various other series through CrossGen's awesome trade program). I enjoyed Negation a lot and I remember looking forward to Negation War... but then the bankrupcy happened. Too bad.

And I didn't notice your post on Phoenix: Dawn, but now that I've read through it, it sounds interesting.

Anyway, my pick would be Chase. Oh wait, a cancelled monthly isn't quite the same as an unfinished book like the others mentioned in this post. My bad.

4/23/2005 10:56:00 PM  
Anonymous plok said...

Omega, lame? What, don't you like talky existential superhero comics that frustrate expectations? Ahhh, Omega, always pissing off the readership. Who is that kid, and what's his problem? Why doesn't the main character talk? How can a comic have so many superhero fight scenes, and still not be action-packed? Is this supposed to be a satire? Some kind of allegory? What the hell is even going on?

That's the point, we never found out what the hell was going on. I know J.M. DeMatteis "finished off" the Omega storyline in his Defenders title, but somehow it just didn't make sense coming out of his typewriter along the way, and I still don't buy any of it, which is why I'll cheerfully call it "unfinished". For me, the beauty of Omega was in how all its characters were such hopeless outsiders, and yet something was about to happen to them all to shake their world up. And the science-fiction/superhero motif played to that pretty well, I thought. Although absolutely no one would choose to do it that way today, I'll grant you.

4/23/2005 11:32:00 PM  
Anonymous plok said...

Oh, yeah, The Shadow too, that was a great one.

4/23/2005 11:34:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Was that DeMatteis who finished off the Omega storylines (and horribly, I might add)?

I thought it was Hannigan.

Whoever it was, it was dreeeeadful.

4/24/2005 01:49:00 AM  
Anonymous plok said...

Huh, Hannigan or DeMatteis, Hannigan or know, I can't remember! Maybe I'm remembering DeMatteis because it seems like him to pick up an old Gerber thing like that...he was the one who fucked up the elf with the gun, right?

Or, Christ, was that Hannigan too?

My opinion of Hannigan has softened over the years, like my opinion of Bill Mantlo, that must be why I'm going to DeMatteis on this. But I'm sure you're probably right, and I'm wrong. Anyway, God, what terrible comics. And then New Defenders -- and then New *New* Defenders, yikes! -- they really ran that franchise into the ground, the lot of them.

What about Skull the Slayer, did that one ever end? A comic on which Mantlo really shone, in my opinion...

No, aha! The all-time heartbreaker! Ditko's SHADE. Beat that, bloggers -- I dunno who that guy in Suicide Squad and the Milligan title was, but it sure as hell wasn't Rac Shade...

I'm gonna go re-read those right now, in fact. Excuse me.

4/24/2005 06:47:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Fabian Nicieza had 25 issues planned out for the 2996 Captain Marvel series; it was cancelled at issue 6. He later fit the entire 19-issue saga into a single flashback issue of the Peter David series.

4/24/2005 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

Jack Kirby's New Gods saga. The biggest, most powerful, most personal cosmic saga ever.

Prez. :)

(Didn't I just read something about Priest getting the rights back to Quantum & Woody, and thinking about doing some new issues?)

4/24/2005 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"Huh, Hannigan or DeMatteis, Hannigan or know, I can't remember! Maybe I'm remembering DeMatteis because it seems like him to pick up an old Gerber thing like that...he was the one who fucked up the elf with the gun, right?"

So, I dug the issues out, and guess what?

We're BOTH wrong!

It WAS during Hannigan's run, but it was Steven Grant doing a fill-in arc to explain away Omega (which had been promised in the letters pages for awhile by then).

Guess who the Defenders were for the arc?

Valkyrie, Hellcat, Moondragon and Wasp.

Trippy, eh?

4/24/2005 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Bill, I think I recall Priest getting the rights, but not whether he was planning on restarting the series.

And the lack of Kirby mention is another poor job on my part.

I'll correct that one now...hehe.

4/24/2005 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

I would chime in with Aztek, which had, in my mind, the potential to be the best take on superheroes in a long time. Milligan and Phillips did Minx for seven issues - I would have liked to see that whole story. Interestingly, Claremont has said that the X-Men in the 200s would have been much different if he had been allowed to tell the story he wanted and Marvel hadn't kept sticking crossovers in there. That would have been neat to see, because he had some wild ideas.

4/24/2005 01:44:00 PM  
Anonymous radJose said...

I would like to mention that the last issue of Rob Schrab's Scud: the Disposable Assassin as well as it's spin off La Casa Nostroid never put out what would've been the last issue of each. This bothered me for years until I found his proposed ending for Scud on his new message board for his vedio projects. No word on how the last issue of the other series would've turned out. Always bothered the heck out of me.

4/24/2005 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger chasdom said...

Can't think of any more choices, just wanted to ask if anyone else was really that thrilled about Quantum & Woody? After the first 13 issues or so, the series got really dull and unfunny for me. Priest is one of my favorite writers because of the fact that he can balance his drama and his comedy to the benefit of both, but I think he really dropped the ball on Q&W. Black Panther was much more consistent for a much longer time.

Is asking Bob Wayne about the Helfer/Baker Shadow still a convention tradition? That would be my pick for best unfinished series.

4/25/2005 12:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

taintedlunch from CBR here... I would say my favorites unfinished series were Moore and Skroce's Youngblood and Tim Vigil's Omega retitled Omen...

4/25/2005 02:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

According to Steve Gerber on his AOL board many moons ago, co-writer Mary Skrenes (who's collaborating with him on the "second season"- god that sounds so low self-esteemy- of Hard Time) has instructed him never to reveal the actual ending they had planned for Omega the Unknown, just that the Defenders resolution was 180 degrees from it.

I have to agree that Quantum and Woody did fly off the rails eventually. The jump the shark moment was in the issue where in flashback, Eric saw the note Woody left FOR HIS FATHER, on his FATHER's DESK, and thought it was for him. Thus Woody and his dad never patched things up (of course, it was also hard to believe Woody's mom, a junkie, never cashed the checks he sent).

I think I began falling out of love with Priest in general, because it seemed like such a- there are times in Priest's books where the characters start crossing the line from being "flawed" to "assholes who never learn." And that was it.

4/25/2005 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

Ooo, I've been mentioned in the main post. I must've hit the big time, now!

4/25/2005 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

"Milligan and Phillips did Minx for seven issues - I would have liked to see that whole story."

I would have liked to see more of it, too, but it did at least have something approximating an ending.

4/25/2005 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Matt Brady said...

Bill Reed said...
"Ooo, I've been mentioned in the main post. I must've hit the big time, now! "

Me too, Bill! Makes you feel important, doesn't it?

4/25/2005 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Hehe...hey, I gotta give credit where credit's due, right?

4/25/2005 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

As for Quantum & Woody, I totally agree that Priest had (foolishly, in my opinion) done an almost 180 from the original, really cool issues...hell, if anything, it seemed like he was kind of ashamed at how funny the early issues where...which I did not like.

That being said, while it was not as good as the older issues, I still found the later (too serious and filled with just terribly jerky characters) issues to be entertaining as well.

4/25/2005 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger Stony said...

I would like to add another title to your embarassingly short list. Alan Moore and Steve Skroce's YOUNGBLOOD. (Yes.... Yes... Yes, that one... No no, you're right, with those characters... Yes, the one created by Him... You done now? Good)
I don't know what it is with this title, only 3 issues of it ever came out. It was during the time Moore was running the Awesome universe and playing with Superman again. It was about a team, mainly made up of the children/protegés of an eariler generation of heroes.
It had... electricity. The art was great, the characters contrasted marvellously. There was the obligatory Batman and Superman, both girls in this case. They bickered but were good friends. There was humour and there was action.
But what this comic did.... Was that it grabbed me by the shirt with both hands and screamed in my face "This is what the Teen Titans should be!!!"
And I loved it. And I normally hate anything with teens as the main characters!

4/26/2005 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

I was aiming for "cute" rather than "sarcastic" with that "big time" post, but perhaps it came off wrong, considering I am usually a cynical bastard.

4/26/2005 01:28:00 PM  

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