The Haven: Now We’re Getting Somewhere

By Andrew Goletz

There is a ton of Reilly stuff to get to this week so my usual ramblings will be quite sparse. I’m sure you’ll all be hoping for big Reilly news from here on out for just that reason.

I was one of those to partake in the Harry Potter midnight release extravaganza. I’m no stranger to geek culture. I’ve camped out for Springsteen tickets. I’ve wasted a day in line to be the first to see the newest Star Wars film and did several of the midnight runs on the Star Wars toys. I’ve seen grown adults toss children out of the way to get to the toys of their choice. I’ve seen 50-year-old men brought to tears of joy over seeing the latest plastic incarnation of Obi-Wan Kenobi. I’ve seen people give a standing ovation to the 20th Century Fox logo.

Harry Potter day was a new monster altogether. I went to get the book for my wife. I’ve read the first book and seen the first two movies and didn’t care enough to follow up on either, but she likes ’em and it gave me a chance to see what sorts of people would come out at 12:01 in the morning to get a book.

I can’t be sure, but I think I saw some of the same geeks that I did in previous pop cultural materialistic events. And before you Harry Potter fans start to argue, yes, you are geeks, too. You may think you’re better than us because your books don’t have pictures, but there’s really no difference except for the people I ran into this evening were carrying wands instead of lightsabers. It’s a different feeling to be on the outside looking in on an event such as this. I scoffed as I had to first wait in line for a wristband. I got the red Gryffindor one, by the way. The wristband earned me the right to wait in line to get a copy of the book. I was soooooo tempted to start talking about the ending of the book (based on spoilers that were leaked online earlier in the week), but as much as I like knowing the endings of books and movies, I didn’t want to be a total asshead. After another ten minutes of waiting in line, I got my copy and then proceeded to the final chapter of my adventure… waiting to pay.
I’m standing waiting to pay and there are two lines on either side of me and there were at least three people who got to the checkout and had to leave their books behind because they didn’t have enough money. These people waited at least a half hour without checking to see if they had enough cash to actually purchase the book! It retailed for $18 at Wal-Mart, so it wasn’t like there was some shocking price that left people short.

People partaking in close to an hour of crowds and waiting in line to not even buy the book? That’s dedication.

Some of you were a little ticked off that I mentioned I had found someone to do the introduction to the book without revealing who that person was. A few of you found some very creative, um, names to refer to me while voicing your complaints. I suppose my intent was to leave some surprises for the book, but your e-mails changed my mind.

The purpose of this little feature is to give a behind-the-scenes play-by-play of my efforts to translate the online columns into a collected and remastered trade paperback. Withholding information like that does defeat the purpose and you were right to call me out on that, so let’s start this week off with some details about the introduction.

Danny Fingeroth, the former Spider-Man group editor who was there from the beginning of the Clone Saga, has agreed to write the introduction and I couldn’t be more ecstatic about it.For the past few months, I really only thought of two possible choices to do the intro. Danny was my first and Bill Jemas, former President of Marvel, was the other.

Bill was very outspoken and, along with EIC Joe Quesada, gave Marvel a public face that hadn’t been seen since the days of Stan Lee. Bill and I had many discussions about the Clone Saga and Ben Reilly with Bill constantly telling me to stop while I trudged along on my “mission.” A favorite Ben Reilly debate occurred one day in the Marvel offices with Bill asking me whether I like baseball. I answered yes and he told me to imagine a situation where the ace pitcher was starting the final game of the World Series and the team was getting rocked. The pitcher who had won twenty games during the season and had a great career just wasn’t getting it done. He’d given up six or seven runs in the first inning and a few more in the next couple. He wasn’t settling down. Bill then asked whether I would put in a reliever or stay with the guy I liked, even though he gave up about ten runs in the first few innings. I told him I would definitely yank the pitcher and give my team the chance to win. Bill then replied, “Ben Reilly is the pitcher.”

It may not be the most fitting analogy, but Bill was always quick-witted and ended up saying things that would get people talking and prove his point. Another favorite Bill Jemas moment was when a fan asked about reprinting the Clone Saga in trade paperback or Essential formats. This person had missed the last few months and wanted to know how the Clone Saga ended. Bill wrote back: “Spoiler warning: The Spider-Man books went from selling 400,000 copies a month to 40,000.” This is why Danny had to be the guy. Bill would have likely said something wonderful that would get people talking. He would have made me chuckle, as he always did, but it would have given off the wrong vibe with the book. Bill was always good to me and I respect and admire a lot of what he did, but I need to show from page one that this book is to represent not what was bad with the Clone Saga, but how good ideas and good intentions went astray due to corporate meddling.

It was the same intent that I had when I did the online column. Hell, I even stated at the beginning that my hope was to get people to dig up those back issues and change their opinion about what they thought was a “dreaded” storyline. Right after the Life of Reilly wrapped up, I sent Joe a pitch for a mini-series featuring the return of Ben Reilly. Obviously, that didn’t work out so well, but to Joe’s credit, he did offer me some insight on why that couldn’t be possible… at that time.

Bill didn’t hold the Clone Saga in high regard, but Danny remembers from the beginning. He knows what the original intent was. He knows all of the details from those first initial meetings, and he helped put this thing together and he remembers the good.

So Danny was obviously the best choice for the introduction but with all of the help he had been giving me these past couple of months, I didn’t feel comfortable asking for one more favor. As luck would have it, the question of who was doing the intro came up and Danny just agreed to do it. Simple as that.

A day after I had cleared that off of my plate, I received more fantastic news. Howard Mackie and Terry Kavanaugh had both agreed to do an interview for the book. I got the confirmation from both of them together and I was blown away. Their lack of involvement in the original columns was a glaring omission and one that needed to be corrected. I mentioned here previously that I wasn’t sure how good this book could be without their participation. I was going to do the book regardless, but having everyone be on board was pretty crucial to my goals. Terry brought Ben Reilly back and Howard ended the storyline. If I’m going to try and do a perfect, complete story about the Clone Saga, they both needed to be involved.

Howard and Terry have been extremely patient with me throughout this. I know why they would be hesitant to revisit this story and for them to agree was the impetus I needed to carry me through to the final stages of the rewrites. We’re also going to do this interview in a new style – at least for me. At some point over the next several weeks the three of us are going to sit down in person and just have a discussion about the Clone Saga… totally informal. By the time we reach the meeting date, we may get a couple of the other creators on board in a sort of round-robin, mini-summit type of deal. I think this will work extremely well and I’m anxious to see how it turns out.

Of course, now the pressure is on once again. I got my wish with these two gentlemen agreeing to discuss the Clone Saga. Now I need to come up with some intelligent questions and keep the conversation going so that we can offer something interesting to readers. One of my biggest hopes is that their insight will serve as some vindication for them and get some of the more negative fans to rethink their opinions.

The Reilly week wasn’t all about contacts with creators. I needed to have the door officially shut on any hopes I had about including artwork from the comic books in the book. Several creators, Marvel insiders and editors from other publishing companies told me there’s no way in hell I’d be able to include images of Ben Reilly, et cetera, in the book and so I’ve been formatting the rough copy as if there would be no images to support them. Basically, I’ve been planning to do the book without images from the comics, but it wouldn’t hurt to at least get an official no.

So earlier in the week I went through what I thought were the proper channels and contacted Marvel about the legalities of using the images and what my intents were. So far, no response. All I want is a firm “no.” It’s not like I haven’t had many of those in the past. We’ll see if I can get that “no” this week.

One last thing: There’s one more person who needs to be involved in the book for it to be a complete story. I went into the idea of making a book version with the hope that I’d be able to get some new material to make it more than just a print version of what people read online. The inclusion of people like Danny, Todd, Howard and Terry took this into a completely new direction. The Life of Reilly book is more than just a collection of online columns. It’s turned into the complete history of the Clone Saga and it’s starting to make the online thing pale in comparison. But for it to be a truly complete story, I need one more creator to come on board and that’s JM DeMatteis.

We should have his response next week.