Where in the World Is...
It wasn't too long ago that Will Pfeifer was being hailed as the future of the comics industry, and rightfully so. His H-E-R-O series, a clever and edgy updating of the Silver Age "Dial 'H' for Hero" concept, in addition to being one of Rickey's favorite books, put Pfeifer on the map as a guy who could breath life into old properties and create something exciting and new. He demonstrated that again not long after, pioneering the all-too-short "Sub Diego" era in a brief run on Aquaman. Personally, I dug Will's fun work on Catwoman. However, following Amazons Attack, the 2007 event that was supposed to put Pfeifer on the map but failed to deliver (something most agree is at least in some part the fault of factors beyond Will's control), he seems to have quietly faded out of the public eye (Catwoman, Pfeifer's last regular gig, got cancelled last summer). A guy as talented as Will Pfeifer should certainly get more than one strike and in the eyes of those of us here at the CKT could still be a major player.
Under his birth name of Jim Owsley, the dude who would become Christopher Priest started in comics the year I was born, 1982, and within three years he was the first African-American editor on a major comic, heading up the Spider-Man books. Over the next decade-plus, he racked up a plethora of impressive achievements, including getting to write icons like Superman, Spider-Man, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and more, co-creating The Ray as well as Quantum & Woody, helping to found Milestone Media and dozens of stints on a wide array of other characters for just about every major company. However, after changing his name, Priest unquestionably took his game to a whole new level helping to re-launch Black Panther for Marvel Knights in 1998 and then spent the next five years carving out a definitive 60-issue run many consider one of the overlooked modern classics (myself included). After that wound down, he had quickies on The Crew and Captain America & The Falcon, but has been pretty much inactive for the past four years or so. Somewhere along the way, I think Priest got wrongly pigeonholed as only being able to write black characters, but he can do that and a whole lot more.
Green Lantern was overhauled in 1994 with Kyle Rayner as the newbie GL, Darryl Banks was responsible for giving the rookie his distinctive and memorable look. For the next 92 issues off and on, Banks continued to help chronicle Kyle's adventures, creating a new visual world for him to inhabit, complete with colorful friends and foes. Banks was one of the best when it came to imaginitive applications of the power ring and dreaming up exotic environments on Earth and beyond. It's no stretch at all to say that the guys who have been drawing Green Lantern since the franchise's big Rebirth have taken major visual cues from the playbook Banks created, yet we haven't seen much of him lately, which is too bad.
...Renato Arlem?In 2006, Marvel rocked their cosmos with Annihilation, featuring a quartet of limited series, one of which starred the Silver Surfer with art provided by Renato Arlem. I was particularly taken aback by Arlem's work on that series as the Surfer is a classic character with a distinctive look who has been immortalized by some of the biggest names in the business, but this dude had a style more like Alex Maleev or Steve Epting than Jack Kirby or John Buscema; drawing noir in a cosmic setting, my eye was most definitely caught. Arlem had a cup of coffee on X-Factor, which fit him like a glove, and then latched onto Hawkgirl during its dying days, where he drew some dope giant robots. That's the last I remember of the guy, but he's always the wildcard I'll throw out when me and my buddies are playing the "who should draw what" game as I really dig his stuff.
When Geoff Johns kicked off his now legendary Flash run with Wonderland, which was finally collected just recently, the artist was one Angel Unzueta. He had a dynamic and energetic style that gave Johns' story the kick it needed to hit the ground running. A few issues later though, Unzueta was gone, Scott Kolins was onboard, and the rest is history. I've got no complaints when it comes to the awesome work Kolins and his successors did on Flash, but I've always wondered why Unzueta got the hook and we never saw more of him, because he definitely had some great potential and it would have been interesting to watch him grow as an artist.
If you have seen or heard about any of this missing pros, please file a report with the Cool Kids Table immediately!
Thanks to T.J. Dietsch for suggesting Christopher Priest and Darryl Banks.