I'm only now beginning to realize how big a fan of Christopher Priest I am. Unfortunately I didn't do it when it mattered. I've been late to dinner on almost every one of Priest's major projects, from Xero to Black Panther to Quantum and Woody to Captain America and the Falcon. I think the only projects I was with him on from start to finish at the actual time of publishing were Justice League Task Force and The Ray (well, actually pretty much all of Priest's output from '94-'96, my peak DC collecting heyday). I'm coming to everything else in hindsight and I feel like crap for it. The man is an amazing writer with an exceptional wit, and he's been unfortunately marginalized in the industry. Priest, on his website a decade ago, discusses his frustration with working within the mainstream system, which he details in much depth there and I won't rehash here. Suffice it to say Priest was never truly been given the opportunity to hit it big at DC or Marvel, and it's a damn shame, especially since The Crew here is his second-to-last published work in the field. I don't know if one regular reader would have done much difference at the time but a talent like this disappearing from the industry altogether is a damn shame. From a perusing of his most recent blog posts he seems busy, and likely making a better living than working in comics, but still... we need his talent, his storytelling (he was apparently in talks with IDW for a while, including about Star Trek, but it didn't materialize). I truly hope Valiant looks to Quantum and Woody as the next expansion book for their line (although, I wonder if they're a creator-owned property and not an outright part of the Valiant stable of characters) or just to Priest for any new title they wish to launch. Hell, anybody give this man a job and I'm going to read it, whatever it is, that's my commitment to getting him back into comics.
I recall noticing Priest's turn-of-the-millennium work at Marvel. I was reading mostly trades then, and I actually did pick up the first two trades of Black Panther, and have been waiting ever since for more (none ever materialized). When the Crew hit, again I was just starting to buy floppies again, but I was still massively in debt, and there was a $1.50 disparity between Canadian and US cover at the time...even today a $3.99 cover price gives me pause (it's the reason why I'm trade waiting on the Hickman Avengers series), but back in 2003, the $4 cover price made me choose my comics very judiciously. I also still wasn't much of a Marvel fan so a book centered around Rhodey (who, to be honest, I'm not certain I had read a comic with him in it to that point) seemed an easy pass. Priest did Captain America and the Falcon following the Crew with Bart Sears, who was one of my artistic heroes in the 90's so I was looking at it closely, but gave it a miss ultimately, because, again, I'm wasn't much into Marvel.
Now, for me and comics, it's not about the characters, or the company/universe so much as it's about the storyteller, and whether I like someone's point of view. And I dig Priest's POV. So, I'm starting to stock up on what I missed when I find them at the 50 Cent club (see 365 Comics #66) . Compiling runs of Cap and Falcon, Black Panther, Quantum and Woody, and now Crew are now on my mission radar. I'm not a religious man, but I realized a little more Priest in my life is not a bad thing.
[I should note that although the title on the cover quite clearly says "THE CREW", the actual title of the series is listed as "CREW" sans the "THE". Weird.]
[UPDATE: Just posted Mar 21:
Looks like Quantum and Woody are coming back. I'm going to be *very* disappointed if Preist is not attached. However if they reprint the original Q&W series in trades and that puts $ in Priest's pocket, then I'm all over those.)