Saturday, April 26, 2008

Impact Comics Phase 2 (unplublished 1993)

I was a HUGE fan of the Impact line of comics, the DC imprint in which they licensed the Archie heroes, reading the majority of the titles from the start until the bitter end in 1993....

In an earlier post, I shared the unpublished "Impact Phase II" first issue of The American Shield....well, here's the rest of the material available....

The Mark of the Black Hood

Download Link (Hosted by Rapidshare)

The Mark of the Black Hood #1 (unpub.) CBZ file

The Wrath of the Comet

The Wrath of the Comet #1 (unpub.) CBZ file

"Forging Steel": This is one of the more interesting concept that never came to be, the Impact revisionist take on Steel Sterling, and character they never tackled in the initial line of books. Plus, there's some great art by Gene Ha, who would later go on to do Top Ten with Alan Moore....

The Steel Sterling revamp seems to have been intended as a back-up feature in the three core titles that we know presented is the first chapter, which would have been the back-up feature in The American Shield #1..

"Forging Steel" Part 1 (unpub.) CBZ file

From "The Final Impact" by Ryan McLelland, from Newsarama 3/05/2004:

A plan was put forth to retool the Impact line, starting with sending the Crusaders into space. Following this space launch all of the individual Impact titles would have been cancelled except for the Crusaders title, which would follow the Crusaders going through different dimensions trying to make their way back home. When the team finally got back to Earth, some of the titles would then be restarted.

Unfortunately for fans and creators alike, the well-laid plans would not launch exactly as planned. Though (Mark)Waid and (Brian)Augustyn would plot out the Crusaders title a number of issues past the dozen mark, the decision was made that the Crusaders would also be cancelled along with the rest of the titles before the launch of the mini-series Crucible.

To accommodate the sudden cancellation, Waid and Augustyn would drastically change the plot of the final issue of the Crusaders to try and give some sort of closure before the relaunch. Waid doesn’t remember that last issue fondly. “Crusaders #8 is one of the worst things I’ve ever (co-)written. I don’t remember why, though, but if you make me actually go back and look at it to find out, I’ll kill you,” Waid kids.

All of the titles would soon enough release their final issues, with Crucible being released ninety days later. The Crucible mini-series would then be the lone book to setup the new Impact universe, commonly referred to as Phase Two. The premise of the book was to show what was going on back on Earth while the Crusaders were lost in space. Because The Crusaders were off planet at the time of the series, Crucible focused on the Black Hood, a new Shield, and the Comet continuing the good fight. Waid and Augustyn would co-write the book along with Joe Quesada and Chuck Wojtkiewicz providing the artwork.

“Though Crucible was envisioned as the opportunity to reinvigorate the line and get it back on track, I believe the pressure was such that it had to be a seriously huge hit,” says Augustyn. “Crucible's sales were probably merely okay, but certainly not as sensational as they needed to be. I think that in general, both inside DC and out, it was seen as too little and too late. It was decided at the last minute that the books would not come back for that third year and we were instructed to wrap things up quickly, if not exactly neatly.”

Faced with the new decision not to carry on with the relaunch, even though the first issues of the new Phase Two comic books were already near completion, Waid and Augustyn found themselves once again back-to-the-writing-board, quickly rewriting the final issue of Crucible. Instead of launching the new titles the plot was adjusted to try and give the entire Impact universe some sort of closure. Crucible #6 would be released as the final Impact comic book.

The Phase Two portion of Impact Comics would have started off with a revamp of the entire line spinning off from the results of Crucible. The relaunch would have included American Shield by Augustyn, Waid, Steve Carr, and Daryl Skeleton, Mark of the Black Hood by Augustyn and Chuck Wojtkiewicz, and Wrath of the Comet by Waid and comics legend Dave Cockrum. Each book would also feature a “Steel Sterling” back-up feature by Gene Ha and Paul Kupperberg. Josh Sterling, another MLJ hero, would appear in the Crucible and was to receive the morphing powers that made him Steel Sterling, but the plans to receive those powers were scrapped when the book was rewritten.

“We only found out that Phase Two had been scrapped about the time that issue three of Crucible shipped,” says Waid. “Augustyn and I had written new first issues for Wrath of the Comet, The American Shield, and Mark of the Black Hood. They had been pencilled and lettered but, in the end, DC didn’t foresee enough profitability to renew the Archie Comics license, and in retrospect, I can’t say I blame them.”

While the line was officially cancelled, DC actually kept the character rights for a number of years after cancellation. “The folks at Archie told me DC had actually exercised their option clause on the characters after the line had been cancelled,” says Gold. “Since that cost DC a renewal fee, I assume that they had reason to take this action. The Archie people said they were actually anxious to get their properties back and I guess DC kept them tied up for another couple years. Certainly, DC didn't make any moves towards launching a line for younger superhero readers, although they did launch their newsstand-driven Cartoon Network line Scooby Doo, Powerpuff Girls, etc.”

The rights would eventually find their way back to Archie Comics.


Matt Celis said...

Judging by those awful new versions of classic characters, I think we should be glad Phase 2 never went anywhere. My goodness those all stink of the awful grim-n-gritty '90s.

Anonymous said...

I still enjoyed the Crucible mini-series a lot