what Mike Baron has been up to lately

Not even the Ah-nuld is immune to sequelitis. Terminator 3 is a hip trip down memory lane, but a pale retread of T2. In fact, the only directors to triumph over sequelitis are James Whale (Bride of Frankenstein,) Francis Ford Coppola (Godfather II,) and James Cameron, director of the first two Terminators. Cameron realized the only way to improve on the original Terminator was to take advantage of his gargantuan budget and ratchet up the suspense and action until it was over the top.

Although T3 is never stale, it is never over-the-top. Its best action sequence is a chase scene in which the Bad Terminator, well played by blond kewpie doll Kristanna Loken, drives an enormous crane through downtown LA with Arnold hanging from the skyhook. Nice stuntwork, but it doesn't compare to the chase sequence in T2 for heart-pounding excitement. The Big Twist, that the bad terminator is a female, ultimately works against the film. Ah-nuld already fought a wimpy little terminator in T2. Wouldn't you like to see him face off with someone who's bigger than he is?

What's this got to do with comics? Terminator is a comic. Beckett is the current publisher, but Dark Horse has done their share. Aliens Vs. Predator Vs. Terminator. The world ain't seen nothin' like it since Godzilla Vs. the Smog Monster. And will see nothing like it until Freddy Vs. Jason.

I tried to watch Hulk. Forty-five minutes in, all the power went out on that side of town. But I felt like I'd got my money's worth, because those forty-five minutes seemed like two hours.

Shameless Self Promotion

When I fell out the ass end of the comic industry six years ago, I took it as a wake-up call to learn how to write. I'd lost all my gigs through bad decisions and bad writing. Readers who knew me only through my scatter-shot attempts to reboot minor DC superheroes like Hawk & Dove, or during the final, dreadful days of my Punisher run can be forgiven if they considered me a hack. I was a hack.

I stopped banging my head against the comics door and concentrated on learning how to write novels. It's what I'd always wanted to do. Earlier this year my first novel, WITCHBLADE DEMONS, appeared. It is no AMERICAN GODS, but I'm on my way.

In April, Dark Horse asked me to take over the writing on their Kiss comic, at Joe Casey's recommendation. I finished off a couple issues over Scott Lobdell's plotting, then wrote the last three issues myself. Those are issues 11 - 13, and if you haven't read Kiss, you're in for a pleasant surprise. I hope. However, Kiss was only selling about thirteen thousand despite the Kiss Army, and illustrator Mel Rubi and I soon found ourselves gigless in Gehenna.

© 2003 by Mike Baron and Mel Rubi

"Mel," I asked. "Know any publishers?"

He did. For some reason, he knew an editor at APC, an English outfit that publishes Monster Club. "Mel," I asked. "Want to create a series?"

He did. Given Mel's proclivity for sweeping, fantastic action, we decided to create Doc Strange. I know, we don't have the rights to Doc Strange, but we missed the Marvel mystic and decided to do one of our own. Selling a comic depends on good blurbsmanship:

A young man of indeterminate but exotic origin walks along a desert road, all his belongings on his back. A pick-up passes in a cloud of dust, honking, comes to an abrupt halt and does a Y-turn in the middle of the road. They don't like his looks. He might be one of them terrorists. Four mean drunks pile out with beer bottles and baseball bats. The young man's lack of fear gives them pause, but only for a moment. As they taunt him, he pulls a knife. He pulls up his shirt. And he slashes himself across his scarred abdomen while gesturing in the air with his free hand.

Out of nowhere a dust devil appears, envelops the four drunks, turns crimson. Like a giant cuisinart, the dust devil reduces the drunks to gleaming bone before flying off with the soft tissue. Satisfied, the young man gets in the truck and drives off (but not before stalling a couple times. He's a terrible driver.)

Appearances are deceiving. Faro Korbit is four thousand years old, the reincarnated spirit of the Pharoah Qorbit, Seventh Scion of the Nabq ("Knack") Dynasty. Like the Maya, the sophisticated and technologically advanced Nabq disappeared overnight. Archaeologists have never solved the mystery. Nor is Faro about to enlighten them. He has more pressing business: saving Earth from De Monique and her leprous hordes who have lain dormant in the earth for millennia, waiting for her call. De Monique, harbinger of the Great Old Ones, is calling. From all over the world, the demons wake, adopt the guise of motorcycle hoodlums, and converge on Las Vegas. Faro has learned of an enormous glass pyramid called the Luxor, and knows his power will be enhanced there, as will De Monique's.

Selling a comic also requires eye-popping art. Above is Mel's design for the first Faro Korbit cover. The book ships in December.

Mike Baron is the creator of the award winning comic book Nexus and during his career has written an enormous variety of comics from The Flash to The Punisher. His first novel, Witchblade Demons has just been published and he is currently writing the Kiss comic for Dark Horse Comics.

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