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Backstreet to the Rescue!

The Backstreet Boys are getting booked. Comic-booked, that is.

The "Larger Than Life" boy band, already superstars for their poppy tunes, are about to become superheroes, thanks to comic god Stan Lee, the mastermind behind the likes of Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men and Fantastic Four.

This time, the fantastic Backstreet five--Howie, AJ, Nick, Kevin and Brian--will don capes, super-charged weapons and show off their superpowers in an upcoming comic series published in print form and on the Web.

"I'm ecstatic to be involved with Stan Lee," says Nick Carter, who is cocreating the series with Lee and whose comic alter ego will boast amazing ninja powers. "A comic book is something I've always wanted to do and we've finally made it happen."

The series kicks off February 19 with comic books sold exclusively at Backstreet Boys concerts and online at

The plot of the comic series, according to Lee, involves aliens, babes and plenty of action. The setup: a spaceship crashes down during a BSB concert. Ever the heroes, the Boys rush to rescue "beautiful alien creature." The "curvaceous" visitor tells them they must protect Earth from an impending alien invasion. She gives them each an amulet that changes their DNA, empowering each Boy with superhuman skills--Nick becomes a fierce martial artist; Kevin gains incredible strength; Brian has amazing leaping ability; AJ turns into a weapons whiz; and Howie gets "mind-blowing" telepathic powers. (No word yet on whether BSB will use said powers to blow away their boy band rivals, 'N Sync.)

"We will use the comic book to introduce the superhero story to fans, so those fans not yet connected to the Internet can share in the excitement that is created by the animated Webisodes," says Lee. Adds Carter: "There are a lot of females in our audience. [Comics are] a really cool way to get guys involved."

And comic experts think the Backstreet Boys' marketing power could be a boon to the entire industry. "I think any comic that comes out that has the potential for bringing in new people is a good thing," says Andy Helfer, an editor at DC Comics, one of the industry's biggest players, whose signature character Superman can be seen online in animated Webisodes at

Of course, making comic strips featuring celebs isn't really groundbreaking news. The grandfather of them all, says Helfer, is the original KISS comic that bowed in the late '70s. The story is that KISS went to the printer and dripped their own blood into the ink before the comc went to press. Hence the infamous tagline: "Printed with real KISS blood." Says Helfer of the monster rockers, "They are superheroes anyway."

Since then, DC Comics has had a Muhammad Ali and a Prince (before he was The Artist Formerly Known As) strip; Marvel made Alice Cooper a two-dimensional character; Todd McFarlane, Spawn's creator, has an updated KISS quarterly and a one-shot Ozzy Osbourne book; and Image Comics publishes a Wu-Tang Clan series.

But not all acts translate into comic hits. "A lot of [these kind of] comics only work if the act is at the top," Helfer says. "You need to be sure the band will still be at the top when the comic comes out."

And BSB certainly fit the profile. Arguably the biggest pop group on the planet, the Backstreet Boys' latest release, Millennium, has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide and has spent 36 weeks (and counting) on Billboard's Top 200 chart.

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