ASK NEWSARAMA: Robinson, Rucka, Dini, J. Lee & more Answer


A little over a month ago, I tentatively revived a feature called Ask Newsarama, where I took questions from comic book readers so I could attempt to find them some answers.

I introduced the concept as a "trial," since it would all depend on whether we'd receive enough interest from fans, whether they'd supply the right type of quantifiable questions, and how creators would respond to the questions I asked.

The feature was something that Michael Doran, the founder of Newsarama, originally did when Newsarama was just a fledgling column on Since he still wields the power around here, he approved the idea with understandable trepidation.

Many of the questions that were asked fell into the realm of "open-ended and non-answerable" (like... "how come such-and-such isn't good?"), and some were questions that creators didn't want to answer for their own reasons (one creator told me off the record, "that's a rumor I love being out there... so I'd prefer to leave it alone"). And of course, some were just complaints thinly veiled as questions.

Other questions simply didn't make the cut for one reason or another, or didn't get answered by creators in time for this column. But that doesn't mean you can't ask the question again in the comments below.

Once I got around to chasing down some answers, I tracked down Robert Kirkman, Peter David, Greg Rucka, Jim Lee, Ethan Van Sciver, Chris Claremont, Paul Dini, Mike Deodato Jr., Tom Brevoort, Alan Davis, James Robinson, Whilce Portacio, and Jerry Ordway. And just for fun, Ron Garney helped one of our readers out...


We start with a question about Bishop's origins:

MagnusBane wrote:

When the future Image boys were taking over Uncanny X-Men and Adjectiveless, did they have a character in mind as The Traitor when they created Bishop?

We went to two of the Image founders who worked on those comics to find out: Jim Lee (DC co-publisher) and Whilce Portacio (Image United artist).

Lee: "The answer is 'yes.' But to elaborate, there were a couple possibilities that would work depending on which fandom was guessing. The choices we had would work with the hints we were laying down."

Portacio: "As I remember it, Bob asked me to come up with a new strong X- Man to balance out my team against Jim's X- Men team. The conventional wisdom was my team needed someone who had no problem doing anything that needed be done to counter Wolverine on the new team. It was only weeks later that we started thinking about a traitor in terms of Professor X. And yes there was discussion on Bishop being that traitor, though to my recollection, no decision was ever made. I never drew a page to that effect."


baxtos wrote:

I'd like to know when will the Walking Dead TV show start airing?

For the answer, we turned to Robert Kirkman, Image partner and creator of The Walking Dead, who is also serving as executive producer on the TV show.

Kirkman: "There is no set air date just yet. They begin shooting the pilot in a few months and from there, we should know more. I'm very optimistic. [Frank] Darabont, [Gale Ann] Hurd and the team at AMC have been nothing but impressive so far. This show, I believe, will be amazing. Stay tuned. There should be some very big announcements very soon."


Lupek wrote:

Was the Wally West costume design that made it into "Flash Rebirth" DC's original idea of a redesign? And if not, why the change of plans? And can we please see a sketch of what was originally intended?

For this answer, we went straight to Flash: Rebirth artist Ethan Van Sciver, who designed the costume.

Van Sciver: "Lupek, I went through three versions of Wally's new costume, from simple changes to drastic overhaul, but DC was interested in maintaining a familiar look. Some of the designs I did, I think two of them, will see print in the Flash: Rebirth hardcover, which will be on shelves everywhere soon. Should be worth having a look at!"


KentClark wrote:

Is there even a remote chance we'll see YOUNG Layla Miller again this year?

The cover of X Factor Special: Layla Miller
The cover of X Factor Special: Layla Miller
We contacted X-Factor writer Peter David to ask about Layla's status and found out she'll be back on the team later this year, although her age probably won't change.

David: "The Layla Miller we have isn't exactly a senior citizen. Yes, she's an adult, but as Layla herself said, even when she was a kid, she wasn't exactly a kid. Layla will be returning in a big way during the 'Second Coming' story arc and will be a regular on the team from then on."


compo wrote:

I've just watched "The Sandbaggers" set on DVD and in the acknowledgements it mentions Greg Rucka- is this the same one who writes Detective Comics, etc.?

We went straight to Greg Rucka to ask.

Rucka: "Yes, it is. Queen & Country is in very large part inspired by the work of the late Ian MacIntosh, the creator of The Sandbaggers. Over the years, I've been in contact with both Ian's brother, Lawrie, and others who were – and are – fans of this incredibly well-written, and tragically unknown, show."


silverbolt wrote:

I have this question that's been burning me for a while. I would like to know when/what was the first appearance of Batman's grappling gun in comics. As far as I can remember it was always the rope being swung until the Michael Keaton/Tim Burton "Batman" movie where I saw he used a gun and suddenly it was adopted in the cartoon, comic, etc.

So my question, "What was the first appearance of Batman's grappling gun in comics, and was it before or after the '90 movie?"

Well, silverbolt, I played the role of "Oracle" and searched for some information for you. I found something on the internet called The Great Batman Equipment Archive that indicates you're right: All grapnels (or "grapples") used by Batman in the comic books before the Tim Burton movie were something thrown or attached to some type of bolo or batarang. According to the list, the first "grapple gun" listed as appearing in a comic was in the comic, Batman: The Official Movie Adaptation.

However, the list doesn't appear to be complete all the way to 1989, when the Tim Burton film was released. When emails to the list's creator weren't returned, I went to a couple people who might be able to clarify the origin of the grapnel gun: Paul Dini, creator on Batman: The Animated Series, and Jerry Ordway, the artist on Batman: The Official Movie Adaptation, which appears to be the first comic book appearance of the weapon, which would make him the first artist to draw it in the comics.

Dini: "Wow. I can't say for sure. When we did the animated series, we were inspired in part by the tech employed in the movie. Also, it just looked cool to have Batman pull the gun out and fire it."

Ordway: "I am of the opinion it was from the movie. When I did the movie comic, I was amazed at the various gadgets the prop department created for the film, none of which would really fit into the utility belt. At that time, I also understood that DC was not allowed to use any elements of that specific costume design in the comics, as it was property of the film company. I know they relaxed that rule over the last twenty years, though. I believe Batman always used the Batarang with the rope connected, to swing around in the comics. So the movie gets my vote for first use of a grapnel gun."

Then just to be sure, we contacted Scott Beatty because of his work on The DC Comics Encyclopedia and his book, The Batman Handbook: The Ultimate Training Manual. (And he signed his reply, "Honorary Member of the Bat-Squad.")

Beatty: "I'll go out on a Bat-Limb here and say that I'm pretty sure the Grapnel Gun debuted in the 1989 film, but it didn't really catch on in the comics and become a regular feature in the Bat-Arsenal until it was popularized and used to great effect in Batman: The Animated Series, which debuted just a few years later.

Now, for the record, Batman has used a variety of guns and gun-shaped weapons throughout his long and storied career. He even had a holstered .45 automatic quite famously (or infamously) for a brief time. But when it came to scaling walls, he mainly relied on Batarangs and Batropes until that great visual and sound-effect (CHUF!) was established and ultimately 'borrowed' from Batman: The Animated Series."

So it appears you are correct: Batman's grapnel gun was apparently a movie weapon first, then a cartoon weapon, and it didn't show up for awhile in comics.


Howard wrote:

Can I borrow $5?

We called Wolverine: Weapon X artist Ron Garney in his studio to see if he had five bucks to spare, and the artist came through.

Garney: "Five dollars? I can swing that. But here's what it comes to after taxes and fees:"


T Boogie! wrote:

What's the reason behind creating new Nega Bands for Noh Varr and where are the original bands? Are there plans for the original Nega Bands?

After asking around, we were referred to Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, who had the answer.

Brevoort: "Mar-Vell’s Nega-Bands were destroyed when they were used to power the Nega-Bomb at the end of the Operation: Galactic Storm crossover. Since that time, one or two characters have worn replica bands (including some that have been misidentified as having belonged to Mar-Vell) including his son Genis and his daughter Phyla.

But the actual, original Mar-Vell Nega-bands are dust. So we had to build a new pair to give them to Noh-Varr."


Panamaniac wrote:

To Alan Davis -- What was Cerise's (from "Excalibur") real origin supposed to be before Marvel made her Shi'ar?

We talked to Alan Davis, who is drawing the upcoming five-issue mini-series Siege Aftermath: Avengers Prime, to find out the definitive answer.

Davis: "I had a very different origin in mind for Cerise. I never planned for her to be Shi'Ar.

When I first took over as writer on Excalibur, I was asked to resolve all of the plot-lines that had been hanging since the very early issues – this included a final rationalization of the Rachel/Phoenix story. I worked as many of the elements into one conclusion as possible so that it didn't feel like a series of convenient endings to 'clear the decks,' and I introduced Cerise, Kylun, MicroMax, Feron and the new Widget to lead Excalibur into new adventures after the big resolution in Issue #50. As far as I am aware, none of the plot-lines I had planned were continued after I left the book."

Panamaniac wrote:

To Chris Claremont – Was Alysande Stuart supposed to manifest a power instead of being killed off? She exhibited strange and/or not normal reactions to other people's powers – Jamie Braddock, Nightcrawler, and Amanda Sefton.

For the answer, we talked to Chris Claremont, writer on the current X-Men Forever title for Marvel.

Claremont: "No, Alysande Stuart and her twin Alasdhair do NOT have powers -- but they are sympatico to people with powers. Like all my characters they have a back-story that is rich and complex. And perhaps it will come to play in X-Men Forever ..."


riofield74 wrote:

Questions for James Robinson

-During his time on Starman he talked about sharing Jack Knight's interest in vintage collectibles and memorabilia. Is James still a collector?

We asked James Robinson, the writer on Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton, Adventure Comics, Superman and Justice League of America.

Robinson: "I still collect some comics and Alex Toth artwork, but I've managed to get most of my collecting in check over the years. However, I still get the bug from time to time and recently bought some really beautiful paint-by-numbers paintings."

riofield74 wrote:

- Also he seemed to avoid the "2000AD" route of starting in comics. Did he ever pitch anything to "2000AD" and if not, which "2000AD" character would he have liked to have written?

Robinson: Yeah, unfortunately I went to the U.S. at about the time I started comic writing. If I'd done 2000AD, I'd have loved to write Rogue Trooper.


sp1derman wrote:

Probably a silly one but is Mike Deodato and Mike Deodato Jr. the same person ???

There was really no one to ask but Mike Deodato Jr. himself, who is the artist on the upcoming series Secret Avengers.

Deodato: "I was named after my dad, so the 'Jr' is to differentiate us. My dad is an artist. He created the first comic book in my region, back in 1963. He tried to make a living out of comics in Brazil, but if it is hard now, it was even harder then. So he had to give up drawing comics in order to feed me and my four brothers, but he was very supportive when I decided to become a comic book artist.

Another thing that makes people confused about me and dad is that when I started doing Beauty and the Beast for Innovation in 1992, my agents in Brazil told me the editor wanted me to do another title, but he was afraid I couldn't make the deadlines. So my agents told him that my dad was an artist and he could do the other titles. But it was actually me all the time. I drew Beauty and the Beast signing as Mike Deodato Jr. while other titles such as Quantum Leap, Executioner and Lost in Space, I signed as Mike Deodato Sr.

So if you see a 'Mike Deodato' listed without a Sr. or Jr. at the end, that's me as well. I'm three people! No wonder I'm so exhausted!"


Now it's your turn to give me some more questions, Newsarama readers. Is there anything you'd like answered?

Post your questions in the comments below, and we'll be back next month for another installment of Ask Newsarama.

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