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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Cable to get the Ultimate makeover

Another Thursday, another Marvel teleconference.

The featured guest this time was writer Robert Kirkman, on hand to talk about October’s “Ultimate X-Men” No. 75.

“We’re bringing in the new Ultimate version of Cable, which I think is going to be pretty cool,” Kirkman said. It’ll lead to some big changes in the line-up and at least one death, he added.

This Cable is NOT Scott Summers’ son.

“We’re going a different way with this and I’m hoping people will be a bit shocked,” Kirkman said.

"All-Star Superman" continues to shine

A relatively small haul at the comic-book store yesterday. At the top of my reading pile: “All-Star Superman” No. 5.

I continue to love this book, Grant Morrison’s semi-throwback to the Silver Age, but through the filter of his bizarre imagination. This one should have been titled “All-Star Clark Kent,” since Supes doesn’t show. The story revolves around Clark’s visit to prison to interview Lex Luthor, who’s on death row, and explores Luthor’s hatred for the Man of Steel. You’d think a super-genius like Lex could see behind the glasses and the fumbling facade and see that Clark is Superman. Oh well.

Anyway, it got me thinking about how I hadn’t seen an issue of “All-Star Batman and Robin” in a while. According to Newsarama, the fifth issue of that series, first solicited for last April and then for July, is now set for November.

Keep in mind that “All-Star Batman” launched last summer, while “All-Star Superman” started in November. That makes “All-Star Batman” not monthly, not bimonthly, but quarterly. The latest issue of Wizard magazine, also out yesterday, has an interview with artist Jim Lee, who shoulders the blame for the delays.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Which Wonder Woman do you choose?

Worked on whittling down my stack of unread comics over the weekend, including the second issue of the new “Wonder Woman” series. Writer Allan Heinberg fills in some of the gaps in Wonder Woman’s missing year while throwing some super-powered threats against our heroine.

So will Heinberg end up with Diana or Donna Troy as “the all-new” Wonder Woman? Beats me. I’m thinking Diana. Even if it’s Donna, at least it looks like Diana will play a key role in the book.

Joss Whedon, meanwhile, posted this last week at the WHEDONesque “community weblog” concerning his script for a “Wonder Woman” movie: "The Brothers Warner HAVE read Wondy Gal, and are arranging a meeting to tell me that it is a perfect crystalline gem and I must not change a word, nay, not a syllable. I'm certain that's how it will go.”

Friday, August 25, 2006

We salute you, Major Victory

And then there were two.

Major Victory got booted off the Sci-Fi Channel’s “Who Wants To Be a Superhero?” last night, leaving Fat Momma and Feedback to compete for the chance to be immortalized in a comic book by Stan Lee.

I really liked Major Victory, who was always respectful to Stan but played his role with a wink. I guess that’s what got him in trouble in the end, since Stan found him more entertaining than inspiring.

I’ve love to know how much of this so-called reality show is real, like the seemingly heart-felt moment at the end when Major Victory was talking to his daughter. I watched Major Victory’s exit interview this morning on the Sci-Fi Channel’s Web site and if he’s not genuine, if he’s just acting, then he’s an incredible actor.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Cloning around with Brian Bendis

Marvel held a teleconference today for the comics press, with writer Brian Michael Bendis as the featured guest.

Bendis was there to talk about the upcoming “Ultimate Spider-Man” No. 100 and the ongoing “Clone Saga” story line. (Artist Mark Bagley was supposed to be on the line, too, but never showed.)

The current story line is the “Ultimate” version of a long-running story in the ‘90s that turned off many a reader. Particularly galling was the disclosure that the Peter Parker we’d all been following for years wasn’t the real one - though Marvel later pulled a switcheroo and Peter stood as the one and only Spider-Man.

So why revisit a story that has drawn such scorn?

“The reason we did do it is it is a big part of the Spider-Man mythos,” Bendis said. “Even though the original Clone Saga is kind of seen as a punchline, people don’t remember that the actual idea of it was very popular and very intriguing to people.”

It was only after the story kept going and going and going that people got tired of it, Bendis added, noting, “It got to such ridiculous heights with the original Clone Saga that Marvel actually produced a book called ‘101 Ways to End the Clone Saga.’ ” He assures that his saga will be a much more manageable length.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"Smallville" - the final years?

I talked today to Alfred Gough, co-creator of TV’s “Smallville,” about the future of the show.

The show is entering its sixth season - and its first on the new network, The CW. The series began with Clark Kent and friends in high school, and with Clark and Lex Luthor as buddies. Now the cast has grown up and is in college, and Clark and Lex are enemies. So how much longer can the show go on?

“This year and, God willing, next, and then that’s probably ultimately when we call it a day,” Gough said. But, he adds, never say never: “We certainly feel like we’ve got a lot of stories left to tell.”

Look for more on “Smallville” in a future Comics Fan column as it gets closer to the Sept. 28 season-opener.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A new start for DC's Justice League

Issue No. 1 of the new “Justice League of America” arrives in comic-book shops Wednesday. Those nice folks at DC sent me an advance copy.

There’s a lot going on as writer Brad Meltzer’s run gets started (after a special No. O prologue issue last month). Mostly, the action cuts back and forth from Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, as they debate who deserves a spot in the new Justice League, to developments concerning the Red Tornado and a new, unidentified threat. The League hasn’t even been formed and someone’s already plotting to take it down.

Some lovely character moments, as always, by Meltzer — particularly between’s DC’s big three. Though I’ve got to say it seems a bit arrogant of Batman, Supes and Wonder Woman to sit around and decide who will be on the roster. I’ve not much of a fan of Red Tornado, but his story still managed to draw me in. All in all, a solid start, though Meltzer’s quick cuts from one scene to another to another got a bit too much by the end.

Friday, August 18, 2006

"Superhero" down to the final three

So it’s down to Feedback, Major Victory and Fat Momma on Sci-Fi’s “Who Wants To Be a Superhero?” Lemuria and Creature were the latest to go on last night’s episode.

The winner becomes the subject of a Dark Horse comic and a Sci-Fi Channel original movie. I have trouble envisioning a comic and movie featuring the thrilling adventures of Fat Momma, so my money’s on Major Victory or Feedback (aka Palmer High School graduate Matt Atherton). And since Major Victory’s been in the bottom two a couple of times, Feedback could be considered the favorite.

My big question about last night’s show concerns our heroes’ encounters with orange-clad convicts. Were they hardened criminals or just actors? Whaddaya think?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Another hero bites the dust

Last year, DC killed off Ted “Blue Beetle” Kord. This week, in the latest issue of “52,” (SPOILER ALERT!), his best buddy, Booster Gold, gets bumped off.

Of course, the cover, shown here, hinted at such a fate. But even though we readers see a body, I kind of doubt he’s truly dead. Readers at the DC message boards share my skepticism. Many have the same idea I did - that Booster faked his death after his reputation was shredded and has adopted a new guise, the new hero Supernova.

Then, again, we could be completely wrong ...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Big delay, big blow

If you were hoping to pick up issue No. 4 of Marvel’s hot, hot, hot “Civil War” today at your comic-book store, consider your hopes dashed.

The fourth-issue of the seven-issue miniseries, set to be released today, has been moved back to Sept. 20. That sets off a ripple effect delaying a host of other “Civil War”-related titles.

Marvel had a tough choice: Either delay the series and give artist Steve McNiven time to catch up, or go with a fill-in artist. I guess, overall, I’d rather wait and see the pairing of McNiven and writer Mark Millar continue. But it’s too bad Marvel didn’t wait until more was in the can before they started the series. The delay has got to be really bad news for retailers who have been seeing lots of new customers attracted by the much-publicized series. Now they’ve got to tell those customers, uh, sorry, come back in a month.

Special appearance at Bargain Comics

Bargain Comics downtown has a special guest today: Tony Fleecs, creator of the autobiographical comic “In My Lifetime,” published by Silent Devil. He’ll be in the store — and signing his comic — until 4 p.m.

Monday, August 14, 2006

"The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation"

I spent the weekend with a little light reading: “The 9/11 Report.”

Not the original report, but the unique upcoming “graphic adaptation” from Hill and Wang, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Some stories about the book have called it a comic book about the 9/11 attacks. But I’d go along with the book’s description of itself as a “graphic adaptation.” Or even an illustrated version.

At any rate, it does make for a condensed, fairly easy-to-read version of the original report. It was created by two comic-book veterans - Sid Jacobson, who was the managing editor and editor in chief of Harvey Comics, and longtime artist Ernie Colon.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Will the real Monkey Woman please stand up?

Tyveculus and Monkey Woman got the ax on last night’s episode of the goofy but good-natured “Who Wants To Be a Superhero?” on the Sci-Fi Channel. Monkey Woman got dumped in part because she violated what Stan Lee — the show’s judge and jury — called the No. 1 rule for superheroes: never reveal your true identity.

You don’t see Superman revealing that he’s Clark Kent, Stan pointed out. Or Spider-Man disclosing his identity as Peter Parker.

Bad example, Stan, seeing as how Spider-Man publicly unmasked in front of TV cameras recently in Marvel’s “Civil War.” Oh, well. Monkey Woman also got in trouble for lying: stating that her true occupation was in real estate, then talking in front of hidden cameras about being an actress. Bad Monkey Woman!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Spidey spins his web in The Gazette

So did you see the full-page ad in today’s Gazette promoting the free “Amazing Spider-Man” comic book that will appear in the paper on Sundays?

Here’s what I know about it. It begins Aug. 20 and includes Spider-Man’s earliest adventures, starting with Spidey’s debut in “Amazing Fantasy” No. 15. The insert, which will be carried by more than 1,100 newspapers, is the result of a collaboration between Marvel Comics and News America Marketing, “a leading provider of newspaper-delivered and in-store advertising and promotions.”

The idea is to reach young readers while also “drawing on the nostalgia associated with the classic comics.”

“Consumers want to know how their favorite superheroes became ‘super,’” Robert Sabouni, Marvel Comics’ vice president of custom publishing, said in a press release back in November announcing the project. “What better way to tell the story than through the original comic books themselves?”

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Comics around the world

I received a copy of “The 99 Origins Special” today from Kuwait-based Teshkeel Comics. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but you can preview the first 18 pages at www.the99.org.

Also showing the global community of comics, I talked today to Larry Leiberman, chief marketing officer for Virgin Comics. The new company is devoted, in part, to bringing “Indian-infused” comics to the U.S. and the rest of the world, just as Japanese manga and anime have captured an international audience. An upcoming Comics Fan will be devoted to Virgin Comics.

Friday, August 04, 2006

From hero to villain

Goodbye, Cell Phone Girl. So long, Iron Enforcer.

Those two aspiring superheroes were axed by Stan Lee on last night’s episode of “Who Wants To Be a Superhero?” on the SCI-FI Channel. The show’s incredibly silly, but it’s growing on me.

The best twist last night? Iron Enforcer being approached by Stan after his ouster about becoming a supervillain instead: the Dark Enforcer. You gotta wonder how much of this “reality” show is scripted and whether that was always the plan. But it’s fun either way.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Send in the clones

Back in the ‘90s, the disastrous “Clone Saga” turned off many a Spider-Man fan when Marvel tried to convince readers that the Peter Parker whose adventures they had been following for years wasn’t the real Spider-Man.

Now Brian Bendis is offering his twist on the old storyline with a new “Clone Saga” in “Ultimate Spider-Man.” The saga continues in this week’s “Ultimate Spider-Man” No. 98. And so far I’m digging it. After a few story arcs that left me cold (particularly the Mobius vampire one), this new “Clone Saga” is delivering a signficant jolt to the book. This week’s issue has some great interaction between a frantic Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, and the curtain is being pulled on what appears to be not one clone, but a bunch.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Returning to the fastest man alive

I talked to Danny Bilson yesterday. He and his longtime writing partner, Paul DeMeo, are writing DC’s “The Flash: Fastest Man Alive,” which is introducing Bart Allen as the latest Flash. Their stint on the comic book comes 15 years after their TV series “The Flash” aired.

Bilson and DeMeo also are writing a new series for WildStorm, “Red Menace,” which will launch this fall. The writing pair has become a trio: Adam Brody, who plays Seth Cohen on TV’s “The O.C.,” also is working on “Red Menace.” (Brody is also the on-screen and off-screen love interest for Bilson’s daughter, Rachel, who plays Summer on “The O.C.”)

Brody’s character, Seth, is a comic-book geek. So is Brody to a lesser extent, says Bilson.

“I don’t know what happened on the show, if art was imitating life and now life’s imitating art,” Bilson says.

I’ll have more on “The Flash” and “Red Menace” in Sunday’s Comics Fan.