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

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

She-Hulk, minus the green skin?

Most of the action last night on NBC’s “Heroes” centered around Niki Sanders (Ali Larter.) The episode offered a little more insight into Niki’s power. Think Jekyll and Hyde, or the Hulk. Only Niki’s super-strong, monstrous side looks just like her. We also got to see her fugitive husband’s power displayed: phasing powers similar to Marvel’s Kitty Pryde, it seems.

Here’s NBC’s totally vague description of next Monday’s episode: “Unexpected news and shocking events lead the Heroes down a path that sends their already dangerous lives into a total tailspin.”

Monday, October 30, 2006

What we've all dreamed of: A comic-book room

Anybody else catch “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” last night on ABC? The design team came up with a new home for an Iowa farm family that had lost its home in a fire. One of the family’s three boys was distraught about a bunch of comic books his father had given him being destroyed by the blaze. So his bedroom got a comic-book feel, with an artist painting the kid as a superhero on the walls. There also were stacks of comics in the room, but we never got to see if they were new or old. Give the poor kid some comic-book boxes, though; he needs something to keep all those comics in now.

Friday, October 27, 2006

An "Action"-packed start for Donner

Action Comics” No. 844 hit comic-book shops this week; it’s the first issue by “Superman: The Movie” director Richard Donner and his former production assistant, well-known comics writer Geoff Johns.

The issue, illustrated by Andy Kubert, makes for an interesting start to Donner and Johns’ first arc. It’s centered around an apparent new arrival from Krypton, a young boy who may take Superman’s place as “The Last Son of Krypton.” There’s some definite influence from Donner’s movie, including Superman talking to Jor-El in the Fortress of Solitude and a shot of Clark Kent pushing up his glasses that looks just like Christopher Reeve doing the same. Next issue promises a twist on the classic character of Bizarro.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Nightwing's reprieve meant Superboy's death

I talked briefly today to DC executive editor Dan DiDio for my story on Nightwing. As fans of the former Robin know, DiDio had planned to kill Nightwing in “Infinite Crisis.” It was primarily publisher Paul Levitz that put an end to that idea, DiDio told me. DiDio wanted a big death to shock readers of “Infinite Crisis,” but Levitz and others felt that was too big of a death, too much of a blow to the DC universe. So poor old Superboy got bumped off instead.

DiDio, by the way, said he is not the disembodied voice telling Nightwing in the latest issue of his title that he was supposed to have died in the crisis. “I can explain my whereabouts at all times,” he joked.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

High-flying "Heroes" rockets on

Well, we saw Nathan Petrelli, the politician played by Adrian Pasdar, take to the skies on last night’s “Heroes.” And, man, he doesn’t just fly: He rockets.

Meanwhile, the cast continues to come together. Hiro and Nathan. Peter and Isaac. Hiro (his future self, anyway) and Peter. And they’re starting to realize their cryptic mission: Save the cheerleader. Save the world.

I’m loving it.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Tony Montana lives!

Entertainment Weekly has an article on the long-lived popularity of the 1983 film “Scarface,” including a new video-game incarnation.

What it doesn’t mention is “Scarface: Scarred for Life,” a five-issue comic-book miniseries from IDW. The first issue arrives in comic-book shops in December.

Like the video game, the comic-book series has Tony Montana surviving the big shootout at the end of the movie. Here’s what IDW’s press release says:

The blood-soaked tale picks up where the movie left off, as Tony Montana survives - you read that right - but just barely. Having lost almost everything - including very nearly his life - Tony must once again claw his way to the top of the sun-drenched Florida underworld. If the odds were stacked against the gangster before, he now stands in the shadow of odds stacked twice as high.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Wofman returns to Nightwing

I talked today to Marv Wolfman, the new writer on DC’s “Nightwing.” Wolfman, of course, is more than a little familiar with the character: After all, he and artist George Perez are the ones who transformed Dick Grayson from Robin the Boy Wonder to Nightwing back in the ‘80s.

Wolfman will be writing Nightwing’s adventures for at least a year. “My goal,” he said, “is to try to ground him again, try to set him up for the future, to show how strong of a character he actually is, and to come up with some new villains, villains that are pretty much set up for Nightwing and nobody else.”

I’ll have more on Nightwing in a future Comics Fan column.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Superpower togetherness

On the heels of the success of “Heroes,” it looks like more superheroes could be headed to the small screen.

If you read today’s TV page in The Gazette, you know that Diane Ruggiero, a co-executive producer of “Veronica Mars,” is working on a pilot for an action comedy revolving around two best friends who gain superpowers. But they have to be together for their powers to manifest.

I have vague memories of a comic book with a similar premise. I think it was an estranged couple who had to come together for their powers to work. Anyone else remember this or am I making it all up in my head?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Did you catch "Heroes" last night?

Another fine episode of “Heroes” last night. Best part: the no-longer dead cheerleader getting up off the autopsy table. But how stupid does the politician played by Adrian Pasdar have to be to have a romp in bed with a woman he just met? He’s worried that his brother is a problem for the campaign, but this isn’t?

Meanwhile, check out the latest issue of TV Guide. The cover story is on “Heroes.”

Monday, October 16, 2006

Happy new year!

A new year cometh. DC this afternoon posted its solicitations for January.

So what’s there to look forward to in 2007? “Superman & Batman vs. Aliens & Predators” No. 1, co-published with Dark Horse Comics, promises a lot of alien mayhem. There’s an “Action Comics Annual,” written by the new “Action” team of Geoff Johns and Richard Donner and featuring a wealth of artists. And the first two parts of the five-part “The Helmet of Fate” miniseries leading up to a new regular “Dr. Fate” series. First up: “The Helmet of Fate: Detective Chimp.” Featuring the world’s greatest simian sleuth!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Tamora Pierce on "White Tiger"

I, along with other members of the comics press at a Marvel teleconference, got to talk yesterday with fantasy writer Tamora Pierce and her husband, Tim Liebe, about their upcoming “White Tiger” miniseries for Marvel. In addition, I got on the phone with the couple today for some follow-up questions. I’ll feature “White Tiger” in an upcoming Comics Fan column.

Pierce and Liebe make for a fun interview; they’d be a great comedy team. When Liebe, for example, was talking about his longtime passion for comics and mentioned he’s old enough to remember the death of Spider-Man’s beloved Gwen Stacy, Pierce noted, “And you’re still going on about Gwen Stacy and how Mary Jane was not the right one for him. Yes, dear.” Later, when a discussion of the mighty Thor prompted Liebe to erupt into Thor-mythology speak, Pierce warned, “I’m going to smack you so bad once we get off the phone.”

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

More looks at "Heroes"

When I got home yesterday, my mailbox was bursting with magazine goodness.

First of all, there was the new issue of the monthly Comics Buyer’s Guide, with two articles on my new favorite show, “Heroes.” Also, the latest Entertainment Weekly (its special photo issue), with a quick look at the characters on “Heroes” and their comic-book counterparts. (I found the comparison between the telepathic cop on “Heroes” and Marvel’s blind hero Daredevil to miss the mark, though.) And finally, TV Guide, which has yet another article on the new Green Arrow character on “Smallville.” Somebody there must really like the Emerald Archer.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Now that's going to take some explaining

I’ll say one thing for “Heroes” — the show sure does know how to end each episode with a bang.

I loved the end of last night’s episode, written by comic-book scribe Jeph Loeb: the unkillable but accident-prone Claire Bennett waking up on the autopsy table. It looks like her dreams of keeping a low profile as a normal kid are pretty much shot.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Returning to the "Crisis"

I spent the weekend revisiting DC Comics’ universe-shaking “Infinite Crisis” with the just-released “Infinite Crisis" hardcover, collecting the seven-issue “miniseries event.”

It doesn’t quite all jell: There are some plot machinations I didn’t really follow and a moment or two that rings false, as when Batman picks up a gun to knock off one of the bad guys. But overall it’s a great mixture of cosmos-spanning adventure and more-intimate character moments, such as the tense confrontation at the start between DC’s “Big Three” — Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

What I continue to find fascinating is how different this mega-event is from Marvel’s current big event, “Civil War.” “Civil War” is largely a street-level tale of superhero conflict, with a theme that echoes the real-world debate over civil rights vs. security. “Infinite Crisis” is more far-flung fantasy, rooted in comic-book history and the inner workings of the DC universe. The nice thing is that there’s a place for both types of stories.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A new power for Clark

After alien supervillains and threats to the whole planet, “Smallville” took a breather last night (pun intended) with a bit more light-hearted episode in which Clark gets a new power: super-breath. Interestingly, the recent pilot episode of the animated “Legion of Super Heroes” also found a young Clark discovering that power. Coincidence or synergy? You tell me.

Also on the tube last night: “Grey’s Anatomy” featured a little girl who thought she was a superhero. It turns out she had a condition that made her not feel pain. But the episode gave the character of George a chance to yak about comics a bit. He even knew that Green Lantern’s “civilian” identity is Hal Jordan!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

"Incredible Hulk" nears a milestone

Marvel Comics had another gathering of the comics press by phone today, this one to promote next month’s 100th issue of “The Incredible Hulk.”

Writer Greg Pak noted that although the character of the Hulk has been around for more than 40 years, this will be the first time “The Incredible Hulk” has hit the magic No. 100. That’s because of reboots, title changes, etc. The first extended run of “The Incredible Hulk” began with issue No. 102, taking over from “Tales to Astonish.”

This centennial issue comes in the midst of the massive “Planet Hulk” story line. It also will feature a backup tale that ties into the ongoing “Civil War.” And it may offer a few hints as to “World War Hulk,” Marvel’s big event for next spring.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Check out "Heroes" the comic

“Heroes” didn’t get much momentum in the second episode, which aired last night on NBC. The big development came in the final few seconds and centered on Japanese office worker (and “Star Trek” devotee) Hiro, who thanks to cutting across not just space but also time, now knows about a major threat. For more on Hiro’s adventures, check out the online comic at NBC.com.

Monday, October 02, 2006

"The Last Stand" coming to DVD

“X-Men: The Last Stand” comes out on DVD tomorrow. Among the bonus features: three alternate endings.

The fact that I don’t even remember the original ending might say something about the movie’s lack of staying power - or maybe it’s just a sign of my overburdened memory. “The Last Stand,” the third in the X-Men trilogy, wasn’t my favorite X-Men movie — the second installment wins that honor — but it wasn’t, in my opinion, as bad as detractors of director Brett Ratner say. The cast balloons in “The Last Stand” and there are more explosions and fights than character development, but there are plenty of thrills and some nice moments, including the inclusion of Hank McCoy, aka the Beast. I still bristle at the treatment of Cyclops, though.