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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Rawhide Kid was there first

I wonder if the cowboys on “Brokeback Mountain” ever peeked at the adventures of the Rawhide Kid? Mike Coco, over at Bargain Comics, points out that Marvel Comics was all over the gay-cowboy scene years before director Ang Lee and “Brokeback Mountain.” The Rawhide Kid, first introduced in the ‘50s, came out of the closet in a 2003 miniseries, “Rawhide Kid: Slap Leather.” Newsarama reports that Marvel will have a “Western event” in June, but says the books will be in a more traditional vein. In other words, no gay cowboys.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Decisions, decisions: The DC explosion

I sat down this weekend with my March previews — which solicits comics coming out in May — and started thinking about what a hit my wallet’s going to take if I get all the titles I want to get. DC, in particular, is exploding with a wealth of new titles. There’s the new weekly series, “52,” which boasts some of the top writing talent at DC. There’s also a new “Spectre” miniseries, a “Secret Six” miniseries, the new “Shadowpact” and more. In June, DC will publish a one-shot, “Brave New Worlds,” that serves as an introduction to six more new series. Dan DiDio, DC executive editor, understands our plight, but says he’s simply trying to offer readers “different flavors” with a diverse lineup of books. “My job is to make your choices tough,” he says. Thanks, Dan.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Spider-Man's new fashions

This week in “Amazing Spider-Man,” Spidey got a new costume. Looks like the big-screen Spider-Man will be getting a new outfit, too. Sony Entertainment released this photo today, along with this caption: “You may think you’re looking at a black and white photo. Look closely, Spider-Man wears a black suit in 'Spider-Man 3.' Tobey Maguire returns in the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man in 'Spider-Man 3 coming May 2007.” In other movie news, Variety reported this week that Warner Bros. is already planning a sequel to “Superman Returns,” even though Superman hasn’t, well, returned yet. The movie hits theaters June 30. Warner Bros. also is planning a follow-up to “Batman Begins.”

Thursday, February 23, 2006

One Year Later: Making the jump

I talked to DC executive editor Dan DiDio this morning about next month’s One Year Later event, in which the DC Universe jumps ahead a year in time. It’s a way to shake things up, he says, and also a way to get a running start after the universe-shaking events in the “Infinite Crisis” miniseries. “The last thing I wanted,” he said, “was six months of comics where everybody goes, ‘Do you remember what happened yesterday in ‘Crisis?’” A future Comics Fan column will be devoted to One Year Later.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Darn, comics delayed a day

Bargain Comics sent out an e-mail warning that because of the bad weather in the East, the week’s batch of new comics are delayed a day and will be in the store tomorrow instead of today. There’s a lot of interesting stuff to look forward to from DC this week, including the last issue of “Wonder Woman,” at least for now. Also on my must-get list: “Batman” No. 650, promising a showdown between Batman, the Red Hood and the Joker, and “Supergirl” No. 5, wrapping up the opening arc by writer Jeph Loeb and artist Ian Churchill. And from Marvel, Joss Whedon’s “Astonishing X-Men” returns!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Goodbye Hawkman, hello Hawkgirl

I caught up on some of my reading over the weekend - which, for me, means whittling down my stack of unread comics. Among the comics I finally got to was “Hawkman” No. 49. Next month the series transforms into “Hawkgirl.” No, there’s no sex change involved. It just means that when the DC Universe jumps a year ahead in time next month in the big One Year Later shakeup, Hawkgirl is still around, but Hawkman isn’t. I hope the change is a temporary one. Writer Geoff Johns untangled Hawkman’s incredibly complex history and continuity a few years ago and made the Hawkman-Hawkgirl relationship the crux of the series. I don’t want to see that love lost.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The details on "Civil War"

A couple of months ago, I got a chance to chat with Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada about Marvel’s big event this year, “Civil War.” An article in today’s New York Times has a lot more juicy details, including news of a related biweekly series starting in June, “Civil War: Front Line.” It also explains what leads to the push for a Superhero Registration Act, which is what divides the Marvel heroes in the upcoming “Civil War.” The story, the Times reports, will open with a fight between a novice group of heroes filming a reality TV show and “a cadre” of villains. Some heroes are killed, as are many innocent bystanders. The New York Times also reveals that by the end of “Civil War,” Marvel’s heroes — some of them, anyway — will be employed by the government.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Another tragedy for Daredevil

A moment of silence for Franklin “Foggy” Nelson. Issue No. 82 of "Daredevil," the first issue by writer Ed Brubaker and artist Michael Lark, came out this week. It’s a gripping story, but a real downer. The story picks up from Brian Michael Bendis’ long run and finds Matt “Daredevil” Murdock behind bars awaiting trial on federal charges. It’s not quite clear to me what those charges are, but the intent is to see Daredevil humiliated and even killed. Matt survives this issue, but his longtime pal and law partner, Foggy, is beaten and stabbed after visiting Matt in prison. He’s still breathing by the last panel, but Marvel has already revealed that Foggy won’t survive.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cyborg pays a visit to "Smallville"

The superheroes just keep dropping in on “Smallville.” Teen versions of the Flash and Aquaman have appeared on the series. Now another superhero, Cyborg, makes the jump from comics to the small screen. Here’s The WB’s description of tonight’s show: “A sympathetic doctor releases a half-human/half-machine subject named Victor (guest star Lee Thompson Young) who was being held captive and experimented on by LuthorCorp. While making his escape, Victor is struck by Lana's (Kristin Kreuk) car. After watching him walk away without a scratch, Lana calls Clark (Tom Welling) to investigate. Clark befriends Victor and promises to help him find his girlfriend, but Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) traps Victor and takes him back to LuthorCorp.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Expanding the Ultimate universe

Marvel sent out a sneek peek today of Ultimate Spider-Girl, a new heroine debuting next month in “Ultimate Spider-Man” No. 91. The story also introduces Ultimate Deadpool and guest-stars the Ultimate X-Men as Peter “Spider-Man” Parker seeks to spend some quality time with girlfriend Kitty Pryde of the X-Men. The story begins the countdown toward the landmark 100th issue of “Ultimate Spider-Man.” I’m ultimately exhausted.

Not just another comic-book movie

The latest Entertainment Weekly features its spring movie preview, leading off with “V for Vendetta.” Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, the movie touches on hot-button issues such as state-sanctioned torture, wiretapping and bioterrorism. It may be, the magazine says, “the most subversive studio film to come out in the wake of 9/11.” The article also covers the outspoken Moore’s unhappiness with Hollywood and DC Comics.

Monday, February 13, 2006

DC: What's coming up in May

This afternoon, Newsarama (www.newsarama.com) posted DC Comics’ solicitations for May. Among the highlights: the first issue of a miniseries starring the new Spectre (seen here), the first four issues of the weekly “52,” which fills in the gaps in the DC Universe’s missing year after its One Year Later jump in March; issue No. 1 of “Secret Six,” spinning out of “Villains United”; “Shadowpact” No. 1, similarly spinning out of “Day of Vengeance”; and the return of the Cyborg Superman in “Green Lantern.”

Batman's in good hands

Grant Morrison has been announced as the new regular writer on “Batman.” And it’s been known for a while that Paul Dini will be writing Batman’s adventures in “Detective Comics.” It’s all good news for Batman fans. Dini, known more for his work in the cartoon world (“Batman Beyond,” “Batman: The Animated Series”) knows the Dark Knight well and promises to put the “detective” back into “Detective Comics.” Morrison might not have been my first choice for “Batman”; his unfettered imagination seems more suited to sci-fi and high-flying heroes such as Superman. But at least there’s no worry we’ll be bored.

Friday, February 10, 2006

More "Supergirl" on the way

DC announced this week that “Supergirl” No. 5 will be the final issue by writer Jeph Loeb and artists Ian Churchill and Norm Rapmund. It’ll have extra pages to wrap up a story that originally was set for six issues. And, best of all, it’ll arrive in stores on February 22, just two weeks after this week’s issue No. 4. It’s all part of an effort to get the book back on schedule in time for next month’s big One Year Later, which sees the DC Universe jump ahead a year in time.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

"Zombies" on the rampage

It takes a certain sick type of individual to appreciate “Marvel Zombies.” Sadly, I’m one of them.
I’m a little slow to jump on the bandwagon. I started with issue No. 3, which arrived in stores this week. A reprint of the sold-out issue No. 1 is also on stands.
“Marvel Zombies,” picking up from a story in “Ultimate Fantastic Four,” features an alternative Marvel universe in which an alien virus has transformed Marvel’s heroes into flesh-eating zombies. And they’re hungry. Very hungry.
It’s so over the top that you’ve got to laugh. There’s the Hulk, the hungriest of all. Captain America, with a portion of his head sliced off, and half an Iron Man. The Black Panther is still human, but with a few parts removed to feed the others. And the Wasp is reduced to a talking head - but still hungry.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Tuning in to "Bones"

Have you seen the commercials for tonight’s episode of “Bones,” on Fox? Titled “The Superhero in the Alley,” it’s got a comic-book geek at the center of the story. Here’s the official episode description:
“FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth enlists Dr. Temperance Brennan’s help when a decomposed body is found in a local alley and the cause of death is unknown. As Brennan tries to assess if a murder has been committed, the details of the case draw her in deeper, and she’s determined to help Booth find the teen’s killer. As their investigation reveals the body is that of a teenage boy who had only comic books for friends, Brennan finds she may have more in common with the lone teenager than she thought.”

Monday, February 06, 2006

The tears keep falling on "Smallville"

“Survivor” or “Smallville,” that is - or was — the question. I chose to watch the first episode of “Survivor Panama: Exile Island” on Thursday and taped “Smallville” for viewing over the weekend. The main story was fun but forgettable, centered around a girl with superpowers whose “civilian” identity was a bumbling, glasses-wearing employee of the Daily Planet - in other words, a female Clark Kent. The real heart of the story, though, lie in young Clark’s continuing grief over the loss of his dad, who was killed off in the 100th episode a week before. The closing scene is another heart-wrencher.

Friday, February 03, 2006

"Nextwave" makes waves

Looks like Marvel’s “Nextwave,” which I profiled in a recent column, is a hit: The first issue sold out. That doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t find a copy at your friendly, neighborhood comic-book shop, but it does mean that Diamond Comics Distributors doesn’t have any copies left for retailers who want more. So Marvel will be releasing a second printing of the first issue that will have a few extras. Titled “Nextwave No. 1: Director’s Cut,” it will include writer Warren Ellis’ pitch for the series, his script for issue No. 1 and some cast designs by artist Stuart Immonen. Look for it next month.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Treasures for "X-Men" fans

Well, there won’t be any shortage of ways for X-Men fans to spend their money this spring.
Marvel sent out a press release today detailing its plans for various X-Men collections that will be released around the time the third X-Men movie arrives in theaters in May. The “Uncanny X-Men Omnibus” Volume 1 is an oversized, hardcover collection of the first five years of Chris Claremont’s run on “Uncanny X-Men.” There’s also “The Dark Phoenix Saga,” a new printing of the classic X-Men story that looks to have inspired the plot for the upcoming movie. There also a deluxe hardcover collection of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s first year of “Astonishing X-Men” and a volume collecting the first 12 issues of “Ultimate X-Men.”

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Raising the dead

“Captain America” No. 14 is due in comic shops today, with the end of the compelling “Winter Soldier” story arc. “Winter Soldier” has seen the apparent return of Captain America’s former sidekick, Bucky Barnes, who was believed killed way back in World War II. I’m not a fan of bringing back the dead. And if there was any character that seemed safe from comic-book resurrection, it was Bucky. But I have to hand it to writer Ed Brubaker: The story has me reading “Captain America” again (though I somehow missed last issue, darn it!) and it does have a fairly plausible explanation for Bucky’s return. Over in “Batman,” Jason Todd, the second Robin, has also returned from the dead; we’re still waiting for the explanation for that one.