Up, up and away! A place for comic-book fans to gather.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Aquaman: Swimming toward the big screen?

Check out this from the Los Angeles Times:

“ ‘Aquaman,’ one of Hollywood’s hottest inside jokes, might make the move from fiction to reality. As a key plot line in HBO’s ‘Entourage,’ the ‘movie’ directed by James Cameron shattered box-office records (a feat that got it a real ad in Variety), turned an unknown actor into a $20-million movie star and sparked a fight over a sequel. But now, informal talks have been launched about the feasibility of making a real Warner Bros. ‘Aquaman’ movie.”

I could see it actually. But if I were developing an “Aquaman” movie, I’d steer away from making it your basic superhero flick and instead make it give more of a fantasy feel, as DC has done with its “Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis.” Sort of an underwater “Lord of the Rings” or something.

"Batman" team off to a good start

The first issue of Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert’s run on “Batman” came out this week, and it’s a lot of fun. The midaction opening threw me for a loop, but it was clear sailing after that. The best part was Morrison’s notion that Batman has been so busy being the Caped Crusader that he’s forgotten how to be Bruce Wayne. (Faithful Alfred the butler has to keep reminding him to drop the growl in his voice that he adopts as Batman.) So Bruce gets to take the spotlight this issue - and even has fun! Despite DC’s claims to the contrary, it really does seem that the DC universe has lightened up a bit after a few grim years.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Don't touch that dial

Some must-see TV tonight. "Who Wants To Be a Superhero?," overseen by Stan Lee, airs at 7 tonight on the SCI-FI Channel. And Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada is scheduled to show up on "The Colbert Report." Since that won't be airing here until 12:30 a.m., guess I'll be seeing it during one of its many "rebroadcasts."

Daredevil rises to the top

So what did you get from the comic-book shop yesterday? A bunch of Marvel titles were at the top of my pile, leading off with “Daredevil” No. 87. It’s a pivotal chapter, with Matt “Daredevil” Murdock finally out of prison, the I.D. of a second Daredevil who’s been running around revealed, and a big surprise on the last page. (Well, I was surprised anyway.) I also picked up “Amazing Spider-Man” No. 534, which has some gripping scenes between Spidey and Captain America as Marvel’s civil war rages on. And, of course, there was the long-awaited wedding of the Black Panther and Storm in “Black Panther.”

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What you didn't see in "Superman Returns"

Some critics found “Superman Returns” to be too long; one called it “butt-numbing.”

But for fans who wanted even more, there’s “Superman Returns: The Complete Shooting Script.”

Published by Titan Books, the big attraction is the deleted and unshot scenes sprinkled throughout - some of which will no doubt show up in the DVD. I just got a copy yesterday and have only scanned it. But I've found, for example, scenes of Superman in the spacecraft that took him to Krypton. There’s more of a role for Martha Kent, who adds to Clark's woes by announcing she’s moving to Montana with her new love. And there’s the revelation that Superman’s journey in search of Kryton was the result of scheming by Lex Luthor.

Monday, July 24, 2006

"Superman Returns" inches toward $200 million

When I worked at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, my first job evaluation was a rave review. But my rankings consistenly were “meets expectations.” My boss explained to me that his expectations when he hired me had been exceptionally high.

If he hadn’t expected a whole lot of me, I could have ended up with a lot of sterling “exceeds expectations.” Just as if everyone hadn’t expected so much of “Superman Returns,” which earned another $7.46 million at the box office this past weekend, it wouldn’t be labeled a disappointment. But there were those high expectations - Entertainment Weekly had forecast it as the summer box-office-king — so it’s now being seen as an underperformer as it struggles toward the $200 million mark.

The good news for Superman fans who liked the movie is that according to reports out of the San Diego Comic-Con, Bryan Singer fully intends to direct a sequel - though a deal apparently isn’t inked yet with Warner Bros.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Another day's wait for DC stamps

Did you visit your friendly, neighborhood post-office branch today to buy your DC superhero stamps? I did, only to be told they won't be available until tomorrow - despite the Postal Service saying they'd be available nationwide today. They first went on sale yesterday at the San Diego Comic-Con.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Another big twist in "Civil War"

Well, I didn’t see THAT coming.

Last month’s “Civil War” No. 2 ended with a shocker: Spider-Man revealing his true identity as Peter Parker to the world. SPOILER ALERT!: “Civil War” 3, out this week, also ends with a biggie: the return of the mighty Thor to the Marvel Universe. And he’s apparently on the side of the heroes who favor the Superhero Registration Act, which is REALLY bad news for Captain America and the other heroes against registration.

I liked that Iron Man, who leads the pro-registration forces, seemed more reasonable this issue, trying to talk things out, while Cap’s the one who comes out swinging. It’d be easy to paint Iron Man and his side as the bad guys, and some of the story has leaned that way a bit. But the beauty of the whole thing, as Marvel has said, is there really isn’t any right or wrong side in the conflict. Both sides believe in what they’re fighting for.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

TV Guide: Your source for comic-book news

The latest TV Guide, for the week of July 24-30, has lots of items of interest for comics fan.

First, there’s a look at the upcoming sixth season of “Smallville.” Oliver “Green Arrow” Queen will be the latest DC superhero to visit “Smallville.” He won’t just be dropping in, though; TV Guide reports that Ollie, played by Justin Hartley, will appear in at least seven episodes. Also look for Jimmy Olsen, known in the comics as Superman’s pal, to join the “Smallville” mythology as a young Daily Planet coworker of Chloe Sullivan.

TV Guide also looks at the new reality series, “Who Wants to be a Superhero?,” to air on the Sci Fi Channel. Legendary comics creator Stan Lee oversees 11 finalists who become the heroes they created. It sounds embarrassing, but TV Guide calls it “the most charming reality lark since ‘Beauty and the Geek.’”

Finally, there’s an item on Adam Brody, who plays geeky Seth Cohen on “The O.C.” and who will be teaming with Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo to write a six-issue comic-book miniseries, “Red Menace,” for Wildstorm. Bilson and DeMeo also write DC’s new “Flash” series and Bilson is the father of Brody’s on- and off-screen girlfriend, Rachel Bilson.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Coming up in October

Man, the months are flying by.

DC and Marvel posted their solicitations for October this week. We’ll be looking at the end of the year before you know it.

“Civil War” and all its tie-ins continue to dominate over at Marvel. There’s also the return of Spider-Girl in her new title, “The Amazing Spider-Girl,” the first issue of a five-issue Dr. Strange miniseries written by Brian K. Vaughan and the first issue of “The Irredeemable Ant-Man.” Don’t look for a serious slant on superheroes in that last one.

New launches at DC include the first issues of “Tales of the Unexpected” and “The Omega Men. There’s also the return of “The Authority” in a new series written by Grant Morrison. And just in time for Halloween, Freddy Krueger returns in the new “A Nightmare on Elm Street” series.

Monday, July 17, 2006

"Superman Returns" on the big, big screen

I dragged my wife and daughter to “Superman Returns” this weekend and they both liked it.

The first time I saw “Superman Returns,” I was in a regular theater. This time, we saw it at the Cinemark IMAX theater, complete with 20 minutes or so of 3-D action. Is it worth the extra cost? I think so. Some of the coolest scenes - such as the one of Superman hovering in space, keeping watch over Earth - are even better when seen on the big, big screen. And the 3-D stuff was fun, particularly during the spectacular aerial rescue early on in the movie. The only problem was that I’d get so caught up in the scenes that I’d miss the flashing red glasses in the corner that indicated it was time to take my 3-D glasses off and my wife would have to nudge me in the side.

“Superman Returns,” by the way, was No. 4 at the box office this weekend with an estimated $11.6 million.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Robin No. 2 on EW's list

Entertainment Weekly, in its issue hitting newsstands Monday, has compiled a top-50 list of the greatest sidekicks in history. Batman’s trusty Robin comes in at No. 2 on the list. Ed McMahon, who was Johnny Carson’s faithful second banana, tops the list.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

It's like she never left ...

Spider-Girl is dead. Long live Spider-Girl.

The 100th issue of “Spider-Girl” hit comic-book shops this week and, as Marvel had warned, it’s the final issue.

It seemed to be the end for the little book that could. The low-selling title has danced with cancellation pretty much forever; I wrote about one of its resurrections back in 2001, when Marvel had planned to pull the plug with issue No. 39 but then reversed course thanks to reader outcry.

Well, it really is the end of “Spider-Girl,” but the final issue revealed its not the end for the character. Marvel will relaunch the series in October under the title “Amazing Spider-Girl.” Sneaky devils.

The first issue will no doubt get a reader boost; No. 1 issues always do. The question is whether “Amazing Spider-Girl” in the long run will fare any better saleswise than its predecessor. It’s tough, because Spider-Girl’s part of a “possible, alternative future” rather than the mainstream Marvel Universe. So she can’t benefit from big crossovers or visits by Wolverine or the like.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Good things come in small packages

A decade or so ago, DC Comics attempted a changing of the guard, including a new Green Lantern and new Green Arrow.

It didn’t stick: Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen are back as GL and GA. Now DC’s at it again, with a new, teenage Blue Beetle and a new Atom. There’s also Donna Troy as a new Wonder Woman, but it looks like that could just be temporary, plus Bart Allen taking over as the Flash, replacing Wally West, who replaced Barry Allen. Got all that?

Anyway, that’s my roundabout way of saying I’ve read the first issue of “The All-New Atom” - and I liked it. The series finds a young professor, Ryan Choi, taking over for Ray Palmer both in his academic role and in his role as the Atom. By putting someone new in control of the Atom’s size-changing equipment, we’re able to marvel at how cool - and bizarre - it would be to shrink to the size where a bathtub of water seems like the ocean and a rat poses a deadly threat. Writer Gail Simone also quickly establishes a fun, quirky supporting cast.

So I don’t mind seeing someone new in the Atom’s costume. But I do want to see Ray Palmer again, who disappeared at the end of “Identity Crisis” a couple of years ago. He could come back as Ryan’s mentor or the Justice League’s science advisor or something, but he deserves some kind of resolution.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Superman takes back seat to "Pirates"

Superman has been felled not by kryptonite, but by pirates. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” took in an astounding $132 million in its first three days, according to box-office estimates. “Superman Returns” was No. 2 at the box office, with about $22 million for the weekend. “Superman Returns” has grossed nearly $142 million since its June 28 release.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Talking about Spider-Man's unmasking

The latest Marvel teleconference just wrapped up. This one featured "Amazing Spider-Man" writer J. Michael Straczynski, "Sensational Spider-Man" writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man" writer Peter David.

The topic was Marvel's Civil War" and Spider-Man's public unmasking as Peter Parker. Straczynski said Spidey will more and more doubt whether he's on the right side in the debate, to the point that Tony "Iron Man" Stark, the leader on the side favoring superhero registration, will begin to distrust him.

I wondered if the Spider-Man story line will swing readers in favor of the anti-registration camp. The writers say they are working hard not to portray Tony Stark as the "big, bad wolf" or favor one side over the other. To make characters such as Reed Richards or Stark as the bad guys would be a betrayal of characters who have been among the building blocks of the Marvel Universe, they note.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Super box office?

Well, the numbers are in: about $52 million for the weekend and $84 million since Wednesday for "Superman Returns." Warner Bros. execs say they're pleased and proud, but I can't help but think they're a bit disappointed. Certainly not "Spider-Man" blockbuster numbers, but ahead of "Batman Begins."