Thursday, December 14, 2017
Home  >  Features  >  THE MIGHTYVILLE CHATCAST starring Joe and Sam, Episode 4: ASH's 20th Anniversary EVENT!

ASH in ACTION

 

Joe Kach and Sam Moyerman are back in the MightyVille ChatCave, and this time they are on fire with Ash! Back in November of 1994, exactly 20 years ago, Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti launched Event Comics with Ash, their flagship title. To honor the anniversary, the guys dusted off the old comics and gave them a fresh read. Here's what they thought of the classic, now aged like a fine wine ... Read along and let us know if you agree!

 

Where were you in November of 1994?

Sam Moyerman:  Probably at wrestling practice in high school.

Joe Kach:  I was first discovering Adam Sandler movies…

Were you reading comics at the time (not during wrestling practice)?

Sam:  Yes, however, that was probably right around the time I started to fall out with comics for a bit ...  when I got tired of waiting for Image books to come out. I also started to drop off X-Men at the time and was moving towards more mature stuff.  It became my "I only read Sin City" phase.

Joe:  Ah, so you were a hipster before being a hipster was uncool?

Sam:  Yeah, I was even really skinny and starving myself too (because of wrestling).

Joe:  Yeah, when I think of a wrestler, I think "Skinny".

Were you aware of Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti as creators at the time?

Joe: Yes. I think they were at Valiant working on Ninjak right before Event Comics launched.

Sam:  I was aware of Joe Q.  I was reading X-Factor at the time when he was on it for a bit with Peter David, including the famous "psychologist" issue. Jimmy I did not know about.  I could follow some writers and artists, but not inkers. Joe had a unique enough style that he was noticeable.

Joe:  I loved that psychologist issue of X-Factor. Stays with me till this day (mentally). But Joe did not pair with Jimmy until X-O Manowar #0 I don't think and the partnership went on from there.

Sam:  Right, and I missed the whole Valiant era. Oddly enough, I was advised away from it by the worker at my LCS.

Joe:  Hey, I liked Valiant at the time, including Ninjak, but I can tell you: you didn't miss a whole lot. With a few exceptions, it was a lot of flash without substance. And I even use “flash” loosely, because outside of Joe Q, the artists had more of a classic Marvel style. But, we digress...

 

ASH #1

ASH Art

 

Do you recall the debut of Event Comics with Ash #1 in November of 1994?

Sam:  No.  I did not. I was probably turned off to most indie books at the time (and most comics in general).  Due to Image's ridiculously late books and Bravura shutting down when Marvel bought them.

Joe:  Bravura, holy cow, I have not heard that name in decades!

Sam:  I recently got my Breed comics signed by Jim Starlin. Anyway, I had a lack of trust and didn't really didn't want to try and jump in with any.  It seemed like there were a lot of new publishers trying to start up.

When did you become aware of Event Comics and Ash? They also published Painkiller Jane and George Perez's Crimson Plague later on.

Sam:  It probably wasn't until they took over Marvel Knights that I became aware of what they were doing at Event.

Joe:  Yeah, I mean Marvel Knights initially started out as "Marvel Characters licensed to Event Comics".

 

Joe and Jimmy in CHASING AMY

PAINKILLER JANE by Joe and Jimmy

 

Sam, this was your first time reading any Event Comics, 20 years on?

Sam:  Yup. It was something I became interested in after the fact, but never got around to reading them.

Joe:  To my 16-year-old eyes, it was something that really grabbed me. I was totally buying almost anything Image put out, including the vast majority of the garbage. But something about Event stood out, setting it apart from Image, at least the stuff by Joe Q and Jimmy. It felt raw, like guerrilla comic book-making with a high budget. And the creators were almost as big of characters as the people in their stories. 

Sam:  Well, in a sense it was closer to what Image started out as than what they became only three years in.

Joe:  Good point. But, just like Image, there were delays. Oh boy, were there delays. To the degree where Wizard Magazine was putting out 1/2 issues and mini-comics to make up for it, ha ha. 

Sam:  I loved the Wizard 1/2 issues!

Joe:  I couldn't describe it at the time, but looking back on it, it was like the comic book equivalent of Robert Rodriguez's El Mariachi, except without the tight storytelling. And I'll get to that storytelling part in a bit…

Recently, you both went back and read the majority of Ash from Event. Twenty years on, as an adult, what were your over-all thoughts about what you read?

Sam:  Oh. My. God. I recently compared a book to a Michael Bay movie.  These fell into the same boat. I mean, it opens with a guy having the most severe burns all over his body … he heals in two hours, and really never says anything about it. They just moved the story along, reasoning be damned ... Very, very pretty though.

Joe:  That pretty much summarizes the whole series up until the end: It tried to cover quite a few bases...

Sam:  Things happen and there never seems to be much reason.  Why was the angel Gabriel suddenly there in the middle?  No one knows, but we get some cool fight scenes.

Joe:  It was like Joe and Jimmy got drunk or stoned throughout the process and just kept throwing in whatever wild idea they came up with and somehow shoehorned their real-life friends into the story. In a lot of ways, I really liked that aspect. What I didn't like, though, is what you just said: A lot of it did not pay off, Gabriel being an example. They did try to tie it up much later saying that that Adam fellow created all these powerful beings … "The Sons of Adam" (I think) … but they didn't play up on that too much until Ash took on Adam in The Fire Within.

Sam:  Yeah, that started to come about in the zero issue.  Which, frankly, was the extreme of what this book was doing and was almost impossible to actually follow.

Joe:  Yeah, suddenly time-travel became a key factor in the story.

Sam:  There were so many times where I said, "Wait... What?" and had to go back a few pages in all the books to figure out what was going on.

 

ASH WIZARD Mini-Comic

ASH #5

 

Joe:  What did you think of the art?

Sam:  It was early Quesada so it was a little ... exuberant (is that the right word?) at times.  Like, and it's the same comparison you made to the storyline, he was trying all sorts of different things to various degrees of success. The book probably could have benefited from simple storytelling in places, but I wouldn't fault him for going for broke like he did.  It's definitely a pretty book.

Joe:  Right. I would agree to that. It was, arguably, the comic with the most dynamic art on the shelves at the time. Bombastic-- which is mainly what I loved about it, and allowed me to excuse the rocky story-telling. I was-- and still am-- a huge fan, honestly. I even joined the Event Fan Club, officially! But, I didn't read any of the comics outside of Ash and some Painkiller Jane. Man, I would stare at those comics for hours at a time. I had to re-buy the first issue because my first copy was thrashed and I have the tradepaperback, too. I've also got the Ash and Painkiller Jane action figures sitting on my shelf.

Sam:  As I was reading it, I totally understood how you would have loved it 20 years ago.  I probably would have too if I picked it up.

Joe:  Joe's art has really evolved since then, taking on a more European feel. But to me, as gorgeous as his work is, that mid-to-late ‘90s era of he and Jimmy working together was his best. 

Sam:  Well, he's much more just a pin-up artist today. He's grown in some regards but I don't think he could do a monthly anymore.

Joe: I’ll agree to that, a mini-series or one-shot at best. I am looking forward to what he'll do in the Mircaleman Annual.

Sam:  I'm curious at least of Miracleman.

Joe: And, of course, Jimmy is way more of a writer these days than an inker. He did draw me an Ash sketch once that I can't seem to locate right now, sadly. Anyway, later, they brought in Brian Augustyn to help with editing to have a more cohesive storyline, but, I think he was only on for two issues before they just handed he and Mark Waid the whole series, and brought in Humberto Ramos on art for a year or two, and that's where the 22 Brides crossover and the Cinder and Smoke mini-series came in. I am pretty sure Holden and Banky from Chasing Amy are loosely based on Joe Q and Jimmy P. Oh, and speaking of Kevin Smith: They had asked him to come on board and write an Ash story, but then Marvel Knights came around and they thought, "Hey, maybe better on Daredevil." It’s why Ash showed up with Jay and Silent Bob in the opening credits to Mallrats. I am really curious to know what Smith had in mind … maybe I'll tweet at him. 

Sam: Do it. I want to know, too.

 

ASH in MALLRATS

ASH #0

 

Joe:  So, after they boys launched Marvel Knights, they actually still did more work for Event in the form of Ash: Fire and Crossfire, but now written by James Robinson. According to Jimmy in the late ‘90s, Fire and Crossfire was supposed to tie up a lot of loose ends and then lead to an ongoing, also written by Robinson. But that never happened. Of course, Event was still publishing comics during the Marvel Knights days, just not drawn by Joe, but I think Jimmy still did inks here and there.

Sam:  Which seems weird.

Joe:  It does seem weird. But again, keep in mind that Marvel Knights was basically just characters licensed out to Event Comics. All those books were run through the Event offices, in many ways subsidizing the non-Marvel stuff.

Sam:  Yeah, like they did in giving the Heroes Reborn titles to Wildstorm.

Joe: Exactly. I would say Marvel Knights worked out a whole lot better than Heroes Reborn. But, then, both surprisingly and not surprisingly, Joe Q got offered the Marvel Editor-In-Chief job and Bob Harras was let go.

Sam:  Was he more of a driving force with the Event stuff than Jimmy was?

 Joe:  I don't know! Looking at everything that Jimmy does now, I would think "no". But Joe was a bigger draw (no pun intended).

 Sam:  Why was he given EIC and not Jimmy?  I was always curious about that.

 Joe:  I’ve wondered that myself. I am fairly sure that's where the rift in Joe and Jimmy's professional relationship began, if there even was a real “rift”.

 Sam:  And why give him EIC when it's clear that he had no idea what he was doing with Ash? He just managed to get Kevin Smith on Daredevil and (after a stupid mini) got Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon on Punisher.

Joe:  I think Quesada has a great eye and ear for good comics, as does Jimmy. Which is why Marvel is so successful now. He just may not be able to create those fantastic comics on his own. He realized that comics had to mature to grow. He gave Marvel Knights, and then Marvel, an almost Vertigo/Indie-esque approach and it proved to be successful. Sure, there were some misfires (that Puinisher mini you mentioned and ... Chuck Austen). But over-all, it was gold.

Sam:  Don't diss my boy Chuck Austen!

Joe:  Seriously? His U.S. War Machine was okay, I guess ... but I got over that crap a decade ago.

Sam:  Ha.  I always had a soft spot for Chuck.  His War Machine MAX book was fun.  And I honestly liked the fact that he gave so much story time to Warren Worthington during his X-Men run.

Joe:  Sure, but it was not a good story nor direction he took with the character. We could have a whole ChatCast dedicated to Chuck … but we won't.

Sam:  You just got me all excited.

Joe:  Ha. Sorry man. Okay, so, one of my "comic book wishes" is for Joe and or Jimmy to finish up Fire and Crossfire and then for Jimmy re-launch Ash. Hell, Dreamworks SKG still owns the film rights. If Jimmy reads this, I have a pretty awesome idea for an Ash revival that both ties up the old and can carry things forward. I would love to discuss that with him some day ... Call me, Jimmy! Ha, ha. He knows I and many others want the big guy back. Someday ... Jimmy has had success re-launching some Event titles, like Painkiller Jane and 22 Brides.

Sam:  Well, he's a really big name now. And this is their first creation together. I'm honestly surprised they haven't re-launched it yet.

Joe:  I am not sure how well those Painkiller Jane comics sold though (I bought them all)...

 

ASH: Fire and Crossfire #1

ASH: Fire and Crossfire #2

 

What appealed to you about the character and cast of the Ash world?

Sam:  Just the absolute insanity of it.  I'm not sure you really get to know any of the characters or what is going on, but that's part of the charm.

Joe:  Same for me: the sheer craziness and almost manic-ness of the story and the art. I don't think Ash or Ashley Quinn were all that well-established as characters. 

Sam:  Not at all. Ash didn't even speak.  So there's no motivation or anything.

Joe:  Well, he does speak later. But again, nothing terribly unique about his voice(s). It's just Ashley speaking through his Ash shell. It was more the story and art that was my main draw.

Sam:  Gotcha.  I figured that would happen eventually.

Joe:  Waid and Augustyn did okay with that new aspect of the character, but nothing all that memorable. Like I said, their stories were better constructed, but not as exciting and felt a little bit forced. Then there was a very forgettable appearance in Cyber Force with some very pretty Dave Finch art. 

Based on what you've read, would you pick up a new Ash title, even with a totally new creative team (which it may benefit from)?

Sam:  It would need to be a creative team that intrigued me. Everything that happened so far in the story is so far out there and makes very little sense.  Like, I'd almost want a “Grant Morrison on Animal Man” type storyline. Something where they play up the "you're reading a comic" aspect and that's why things are so crazy. 

Joe:  Interesting ... I could see that working.

Sam: Warren Ellis is doing something like that on Supreme: Blue Rose right now.

Joe:  To be fair, Alan Moore started that in Supreme.

Sam:  Right.  Which was awesome. I'm partial to those types of stories anyway though. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang did it with their Dr. 13 mini-series.

Joe:  If they wanted to keep the crazier and unexplained aspects, that would work. If they toned it down and focused a bit, they could do something more traditional, which is the direction my idea would take things.

Sam:  Right.  Which could also be interesting.  One thing that struck me about the book was the almost complete lack of real firefighting. This is a book about a firefighter and there isn't much in there at all about the life of a firefighter.

Joe:  Good point! Especially since that was the main reason for the character: Joe and Jimmy's admiration of firefighters. That does get picked up on a bit in the later stuff that you weren't able to read, but not a lot. 

Sam:  I feel like it would need more decompression (now I'm advocating it?!?!?) so we could see them all at the bar drinking and talking about stuff. And if you want someone with experience writing a firefighter book, my boy Chuck Austen did write those for Marvel after 9-11! #bringbackchuck

Joe:  Nice, Sam, nice.

 

ASH: Cinder and Smoke #6

CYBER FORCE #27

 

Sam, are you interested in reading more of the ‘90s Ash stuff that you hadn't gotten to yet?

Sam:  I'm curious enough about it that I would keep reading.  It won't displace anything on my current reading list but I am interested in where they ended up going with the character. I'm less interested with the evolution of the character, though, than I am with the evolution of the two creators.

Joe:  Alright, awesome! I would absolutely encourage Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada to try to re-launch Ash. He's got a fan base twenty years on, with a dedicated Facebook group and everything. Do it, do it!

And, that’s a wrap!

 

Who remembers Ash? What was your favorite title from Event Comics? Let us know! 

 

More ChatCasts on MightyVille:

THE MIGHTYVILLE CHATCAST, Episode 3: Unguarding Bendis' Galaxy

THE MIGHTYVILLE CHATCAST starring Joe and Sam, Episode 2: X-Huming Futures Past

THE MIGHTYVILLE CHATCAST starring Joe and Sam, Episode 1: Supermovie Round-Up

 

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