Tag Archives: ChrisCross

Quick Review: THUNDER Agents #2 Runs a Speedster Ragged

I haven’t read the first issue of the new T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents series, but when I read that issue #2 was going to feature the origin of their speedster, Lightning, I decided to take a look. The concept: An international team of covert operatives use suits that give them super-powers…knowing that the powers will kill them.

Despite being the middle of a bigger story, the issue reads quite well. It’s structured with a framing sequence in which the team is on its first mission. It’s not entirely clear what they’re doing, except they need Lightning to get inside the perimeter. To do so, he’ll need to run faster than he has ever run in training…and he’ll learn the true cost of super-speed.

This is wrapped around the story of Kenyan athlete Henry Cosgei, two-time Olympic winner and three-time world champion, a man who loves life, but most of all loves running…and the brutal way in which T.H.U.N.D.E.R. manipulates him into joining the team. By the end of the issue, he sees all too well what he’s given up in order to regain what he’d previously lost.

There’s good character work, not only with Lightning himself, but with the two handlers. There’s some depth here beyond the mindless slugfests, continuity strip-mining, and roster shuffling (though there is a bit of the latter here, since it’s an origin story) that seems to make up so much of the super-hero landscape these days.

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #2: “Live Fast, Die Young”
Writer: Nick Spencer
Penciller (main sequence): Cafu
Inker (main sequence): Bit
Artist (Lightning sequence): ChrisCross

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. and Lightning

The Source has a new article on T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, focusing on the team’s speedster Lightning. Joining regular artist Cafu, ChrisCross steps in to illustrate Lightning’s backstory…and the “crazy-scary toll his new power takes on him.”

ChrisCross is no stranger to speedsters. Two years ago, he was all set to draw the scrapped Velocity series that would have spun out of Top Cow’s first Pilot Season. He completed at least one issue and several covers. The interior art hasn’t seen the light of day, but Top Cow has been using the covers as variants on the current Ron Marz/Kenneth Rocafort Velocity miniseries.

THUNDER Agents #2 goes on sale December 8.

What Happened to Velocity?

Velocity #1 - ChrisCross and SnakebiteJust last week, I read and reviewed the 1996 Velocity miniseries, and re-read her 2007 Pilot Season one-shot. As you may recall, the book was one of that year’s winners, so Top Cow began preparing a new series around the character. It was originally announced for November 2008, then pushed back, and eventually canceled.

Details of the breakdown have been hazy. Artist ChrisCross left first, citing creative differences. Writer Joe Casey said the book had been lost in a shuffle of editorial firings. Now publisher Filip Sablik tells Top Cow’s side as one element in an interview about the recently-announced third round of Pilot Season:

This series is unfortunately “missing in action”. We started working on the series with the original Pilot Season writer Joe Casey with the best of intentions. We couldn’t secure original artist Kevin Maguire so we brought in ChrisCross, who was Joe’s top choice for artists and Snakebite on colors. We actually had the first entire issue complete and a script in for the second issue along with some art in progress when we ran into a disagreement in how the first story arc should proceed. Joe had a direction he wanted to go in, which we didn’t agree with and truthfully wasn’t something we felt represented Velocity (as a company owned character) [emphasis added] in the best way. We tried to work it out with Joe, but reached an impasse and everyone decided it was best if Joe walked away from the series. It’s a damn shame too, because as any publisher can tell you it’s never an easy financial decision to have an entire issue plus completed and not be able to put it out. At the end of the day though, we can’t afford to put out a comic we’re not completely happy with. We’re still looking into how best to retool Velocity and hope to be able to update the fans in the near future. Again Velocity is going to play a vital role in this summer’s Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer series and I hope she’s a character we get to revist on a solo basis in the future.

Now, obviously, everyone involved is going to want to minimize their own share of the blame, but it does seem to come down to this:

The writer and company wanted to do different things with the character, and the company won.

At first glance, it’s kind of ironic considering that Top Cow is one of the original Image studios, and was founded by artists who were tired of being told what they could and couldn’t do with the characters they worked on.

On the other hand, Cyberforce creator Mark Silvestri is still the CEO of the company. So to the extent that he shapes company policy, it’s still a matter of the character’s creator asserting control. For now, anyway. If he ever leaves Top Cow, they’ll be in a similar situation to Marvel without Stan Lee.

It does make me wonder how things will play out with all the various creator-owned characters in the long run. 70 years from now, will someone be licensing, say, The Savage Dragon from Eric Larsen’s estate the way DC is doing The Spirit?

I’m also really curious as to what Joe Casey had in mind that Top Cow didn’t want to do.

Velocity and Well-Spoken Sonic Lightning Flash

Joe Casey talks to CBR about Dance, the Final Crisis aftermath book featuring Japan’s Super Young Team. Two speedster connections: first, the Super Young Team has their very own speedster, Well-Spoken Sonic Lightning Flash. Second: Casey and Dance artist ChrisCross were going to be the team on Top Cow’s Velocity series, and Casey talks a little about what happened to that.

Y’know, we were primed to do a “Velocity” series for Top Cow and although I wrote and got paid for three issues and Cross penciled a first issue that was so visually stunning and the best-looking thing Top Cow would’ve published this year, somewhere along the line that famous Top Cow brand of common sense disappeared into an unexpectedly bizarre rift in time and space, they started firing staff left and right – including our beloved editor – and our book was suddenly no more, resulting in an obviously broken promise to four million Pilot Season voters. Ouch.

But, hey, their loss is DC’s gain, right? Before you could say, ‘Diamond minimums,’ Cross and I landed on this series, which, let’s face it, is a lot cooler and will probably sell a few more copies.

Velocity: One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

Top Cow’s upcoming Velocity series (focusing on Cyberforce’s speedster) has been delayed once again, with series artist ChrisCross leaving the project.

This reminds me of something I’d been meaning to post about the covers solicited for the (now canceled) first two issues:

Velocity #1 - ChrisCross and Snakebite Velocity #1 - Kenneth Rocafort

Velocity #1. Left: ChrisCross and Snakebite. Right: Kenneth Rocafort.

Velocity #2 - ChrisCross and Snakebite Velocity #2 - Stjepan Sejic

Velocity #2. Left: ChrisCross and Snakebite. Right: Stjepan Sejic

Notice which ones say “super-heroine” and which one says “swimsuit model.” Now, guess which one Top Cow was using to promote the book?

I’ve got to say, I really like the Stjepan Sejic cover for #2 and the ChrisCross cover for #1. The Rocafort cover? Frankly, I’d have been a bit embarrassed to buy it. Of course, this is Top Cow… Continue reading