5 min read

You Either Take A Day Off, Or A Day Off Takes You

The newsletter returns with a look at yesterday and tomorrow.
A detail from the STARMAN story in DC COMICS PRIDE 2024.
Hey, me too!

That's something I tell myself every so often - the threat of burnout is real in this line of work, and I feel like I've been running a Red Queen's Race for as long as I can remember. Hence the recent absenteeism around these parts - I missed a week because of a writer's room, and then missing a week felt so good that I decided to treat myself to missing a month.

Which means a whole bunch of new books came out without a newsletter to promote them... but maybe my promotional tactics need to change anyway. Let's start with what's out this week and go from there.


Yes - a comic I was in came out on Tuesday! And that can only mean one thing... it's DC for me, see?

Not that I'm ditching Marvel - I've just gone non-exclusive. The reasons are many and varied, but one of them is the opportunity to sample from a wider palette of decades-old characters - and my first work in the DCU is very much in that wheelhouse...

The cover for DC PRIDE 2024 by Kevin Wada, showcasing Superman (Jon Kent), Jay Nakamura, Traci 13, Steel (Natasha Irons), Aquaman (Jackson Hyde), Harley Quinn, Dreamer and Circuit Breaker against a background of swirling Pride Flag colors.
The New DC. There's no stopping us now.

DC Pride 2024 features a reinvention of sorts for Starman, the blue alien first seen in First Issue Special, brought back in the 90s Starman series and recently showcased in Danger Street. The Danger Street take was a fun exploration of the First Issue Special concept and what it was in context - pilots for characters who, for the most part, were never popular enough to make it, and even those who were have since returned to mostly limbo - but for Pride, I wanted to polish the Starman up for future gigs. Which meant bumping his retro stylings a decade forward – from 70s disco-chic to the fictional 80s of vaporwave, complete with a Miami Vice suit and, because style never goes out of fashion and retro was a thing back then too, a gleaming 50s Chevy. Meanwhile, frenemy-with-benefits Komak graduates from polyester to a leather look recalling the 80s I remember.

The sleeve for a "Man 2 Man" single, likely "Male Stripper". Man 2 Man pose in leather and denim on the edge of a rooftop in what looks like New York - the Twin Towers are conspicuous in the background - giving off gay vibes of the period.
The 80s I remember.

The lovely Stephen Byrne is on art and colors, and absolutely understood the assignment - it's a pretty sexy story of conflict, community and alien kink, and I'd hope it creates a status quo that Starman could build off for the future. Do you want to see more of this alien warrior, bisexual elder and disco/synth-pop superstar? One way or another - especially given my fondness for linking bits of my work together - you may get your wish!

And being an anthology, there's a lot more to enjoy here than just my bit. You get eight more stories and six gorgeous pin-ups, but if I had to pick just one, the autobiographical tale that closes out the book - by Phil Jiminez with art by Giulio Macaione - spoke to me in terms of the quiet heartbreak of creating queer fictional spaces and having to watch the tide reclaim them.


What? Actual advance warning of upcoming releases? Say it ain't so!

The "Pride Allies" variant for X-MEN #35 by Betsy Cola, showing Storm and Lightning. (Formerly Living Lightning).
Can I resist the "which one is the ally" joke? Place your bets.

Showing a variant cover here - by Betsy Cola - because a) it fits with this week's offering, b) I'll hopefully talk about this next week as well and I want a little visual variety, and c) it's got one of my favorite Avengers to write on it - Lightning! I'm really glad to see Miguel showcased on this special ally-themed cover, being the great ally to the bi community that he is.

But let's talk about the comic underneath - X-Men #35, aka #700 in dog years. A mega-sized, fat-packed farewell to the Krakoa Era, which I'd call maybe the greatest artistic experiment and narrative shakeup to happen to a superhero franchise in the past decade... but then, I'm biased. I was in the room, and what a room it was - if you were there, you know. You'll never forget.

"Uncle Gerry" Duggan and Kieron Gillen bring it home, with an assist from yours truly - ten pages and a couple of panels, though I doubt you'll guess which ones. The art is a murderer's row of X-talent - Joshua Cassara, Phil Noto, Lucas Werneck, Leinil Francis Yu, Walt Simonson, Mark Brooks, John Romita Jr, Scott Hanna, Jerome Opena, Luciano Vecchio, Stefano Caselli, Sara Pichelli, Romulo Fajardo Jr, David Curiel, Laura Martin, Sonia Oback, Marcio Menyz, Matt Hollingsworth and Matt Wilson... and if that's not enough, you also have a backup tale from Chris Claremont, Salvador Larocca and Guru-eFX, and the first ten pages of what comes next for the X, courtesy of Jed McKay and Gail Simone on words and Javier Garron and Morry Hollowell on pictures. These are far from the only friends, colleagues and all-round creative geniuses working in the X-Office to come - I know they're going to do an amazing job from here.

And speaking of X-rooms and their alumni, in the form of supervising editor supreme Jordan White...

The cover for VENOM #34, by CAFU, showing the Captive draining Venom's energies.
Strike a light, guv'nor! That space vampire's bein' a right Blood Hunt.

...he and Tom Groneman are the editors in charge of Venom #34, the second part of our horrorific Blood Hunt tie-in! What kind of vampire could trouble a symbiote? A space vampire, that's what - in the form of one of Jack Kirby's wildest and weirdest creations... The Captive! Turns out this cosmic carnivore is the symbiote's natural predator... and to bring his prey out of hiding, he's turned ex-host Lee Price into a ramblin', shamblin' zombiote! Could it have happened to a nicer guy? And having sworn off hosts altogether after the apparent death of Dylan Brock - who's got his hands full in the B-story with a vampire priest - what's the already-dying Venom to do? Feast your eyes on the awesome art of Juan Ferreyra, goo believers – and find out!


Will future newsletters feature the return of beloved features like Marvel Comics Panel By Panel? We'll see - for now, it's late in the day and I've got other work that needs doing, so it's time to vamoose. Love and strength to those who need it, and I'll play us out with Claire Richards' cover of "So Emotional".

I gotta watch you walk in the room, baby, I gotta watch you walk out.