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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Comics You'll Never See: Jim Starlin's Captain Marvel

What you're looking at is a homage to the classic Jim Starlin Captain Marvel #29 cover image, as drawn by, you guessed it, Jim Starlin! Looks damned good doesn't it? I bought it early last year and was told, in confidence, that it wasn't a mere sketch, but the main image for the first issue cover for an abandoned Captain Marvel series. A the time I was told the story but frustratingly enough I wasn't at liberty to share the details. Now that Jim has left DC all can be revealed.

Jim Starlin began working at DC in the late 1970s, but came into his own with a stellar run on Batman in the 1980s, culminating in the legendary A Death In The Family storyline, which saw the second Robin killed by the Joker. Along the way he paired up with Bernie Wrightson to create one of the more interesting post-Dark Knight Batman series, The Cult, and the aptly titled The Weird. In 1989 Starlin left DC and returned a decade later for a handful of projects before leaving once more. Flash forward nine years and in 2007 Starlin was running fairly hot over at DC with the relaunched Mystery In Space, Death Of The New Gods, the Rann-Thangar War and another relaunch, Strange Adventures.

In between these projects Starlin began work on yet another title, Captain Marvel. It made sense, Starlin had made his name at Marvel with Captain Marvel and Warlock and in doing so had established himself as one of the finest writer/artists to emerge from the 1970s, indeed he's been able to maintain that quality for three decades now. I think that, deep down, Starlin writing and drawing Captain Marvel for DC was always an obvious choice, if only for the name value alone.

So what happened and why haven't you seen it? DC canned the series before it got started. Says Jim, "It got canceled in midstream when the upcoming Captain Marvel movie went into production. It was felt that my version was too radical a departure from the original concept." These pages are all that remain from the series, and as was told to me over a year ago, that little sketch wasn't a sketch, it's actually the cover image for Captain Marvel #1, with the background being placed in via computer at a later date.

Sadly though, with Jim Starlin and Captain Marvel some things just aren't meant to be. Until then, with Jim's permission, enjoy the remaining pages! And just for comparism, I've included a scan of the original art for Captain Marvel #29, many thanks to Len Callo, who owns the original cover art to Captain Marvel #29. Talk about jealousy defined!













1 comment:

cease ill said...

Not much to say you couldn't intuit: fascinating glimpses into an inspired take on a classic character, from Jim STARLIN! Just wanted to say some appreciates your post...fun to stop and think about what might've been, kind of like those dreams you have where you find comic books you've never seen in waking hours...