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

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A new way of getting around town

USA Today has an article today, complete with photo, on the Fantasticar that moviegoers will see when “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” hits theaters next summer. It’s a lot sleeker than the old bathtub-like Fantasticar seen in the comics.

Tim Flattery, conceptual artist for the film, told USA Today he looked for inspiration from the sea, basing the Fantasticar design on manta rays and stingrays. “They have a natural flow and grace,” he told the paper. “We wanted something that looked like it could glide as easily as they do."

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Darwyn Cooke on the Spirit

I talked yesterday with Darwyn Cooke, the writer and artist on the new monthly Spirit comic coming from DC in December. He also co-wrote (with Jeph Loeb) and illustrated the “Batman/The Spirit” one-shot that should be arriving in comic-book shops today.

The Spirit, of course, is the creation of the legendary Will Eisner, who died in early 2005. Cooke says he was naturally intimidated at the idea of being in charge of the character and it took a while for him to decide to take the gig.

What he realized was that he could never top Eisner, so he wouldn’t try. The key, he says, was to not try to re-create the Spirit of the ‘40s and ‘50s, but to set him in the present. “Because then I’m not doing an homage and I’m not trying to live up to something that’s already there.”

I’ll have more on Cooke and the Spirit in a future Comics Fan column.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sylar revealed - and more "Heroes" developments

One thing I like about NBC’s “Heroes” is that it doesn’t play all its secrets close to the vest: It really does provide answers.

Last night’s episode, for example, filled us in on the origin and motives of the villainous Sylar, dropped a key revelation concerning Niki Sanders' past and powers and showed how Nathan Petrelli’s wife ended up in a wheelchair. Next week we’re told to expect a death and a betrayal before new episodes take a break until January. Say it's not so.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Fire up the DVD player for the Man of Steel

Tomorrow’s the day that the “Superman Returns” DVD flies into stores. Also look for “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut” and “The Superman Ultimate Collector’s Edition.”

I’ll get “Superman Returns,” but I don’t know if my curiosity will be enough to get me to buy the Donner version of “Superman II” as well. If I had a hundred bucks burning a hole in my pocket, I’d get “The Superman Ultimate Collector’s Edition.” It really does sound like a good deal. It contains both “Superman Returns” and “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut,” plus “Superman: The Movie,” “Superman III” and “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.” (Though you could argue that those last two cut into the value of the collection.) There’s also “Superman and the Mole-Men,” starring George Reeves, a batch of classic Superman cartoons from Fleischer Studios and some other goodies.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A hero shines, a villain is revealed

Last night’s “Heroes” didn’t have the gathering of, well, heroes, that I expected in Texas, where cheerleader Claire Bennet was in deadly danger. but it did have its suspenseful moments. Mostly it gave Peter Petrelli (Milo Ventimiglia) an opportunity to show his heroic side as he came up against the mysterious Sylar. There was also a big disclosure at the end about who is pulling the strings on the bad guys’ side.

I missed Hiro, though. He’s apparently been busy six months in the past, and only showed up right at the end.

This blog, by the way, is taking a turkey week break. See you next week.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Anderson paying a visit to Krypton

Local sci-fi author Kevin J. Anderson is writing a novel, “The Last Days of Krypton,” about the demise of Superman’s home planet.Here are some details from Anderson’s Web site, Wordfire.com:

The novel paints the picture of a society that has never been fully explored, and the origin of a hero we all know. Key elements of the main story will be based on the background details established by DC Comics, but this will be a serious and complex book written for a wide audience, not just comic book afficionados.

Kevin has already completed the first draft, and the novel is scheduled for publication next fall.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Would you like milk with that?

I don’t know what was creepier on “Smallville” last night: the bone-sucking alien or Lex and Lana proclaiming their love for each other. For someone who got tired of Clark’s secrets, Lana sure is forgiving of Lex.

It was an odd episode, with Clark off on a solo mission and supplying the B plot. But did you catch the cameo by the Martian Manhunter? Only comics fans would catch the significance of the Oreos that Clark found (it has been established in the comics that the Martian Manhunter is, or was, a major consumer of Oreo cookies.)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Quick hits: "Astonishing X-Men," "Civil War"

A couple of eagerly awaited Marvel titles arrived this week.

“Civil War” No. 5 didn’t have quite the shocking revelations of past issues, but was still pretty strong. While the heroes of the pro-registration side, headed by Iron Man, are still coming off as the bad guys, there’s plenty of blame to hand around on both sides. If Captain America came off his high horse, for example, he might see superhero registration as a preferable alternative to what Iron Man claims was the only other option: the government banning superheroics all together.

I also enjoyed “Astonishing X-Men” No. 18. although the supposed “jaw-dropping conclusion” to the story arc featuring Emma’s betrayal didn’t really reach a conclusion, as far as I could tell. The best part: the new kick-ass Cyclops, who despite not being able to access his powers seems more in command than ever before. Check out Cyclops’ seemingly casual gunning down of members of the Hellfire Club - though, if I understand the story correctly, I guess those villains weren’t actually there anyway.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"The Sadhu" eyed for the big screen

Variety reports that Virgin Comics is adapting “The Sadhu” into a movie starring Nicolas Cage. Spiritual author and Virgin Comics co-founder Deepak Chopra is writing the script.

As has been reported before, Cage is also creating a comic-book series for Virgin with his teenage son, Weston. Variety calls it “a voodoo-laced thriller.”

I asked Bargain Comics’ Mike Coco the other week about sales of the Virgin line. They’re certainly not up to “52” and “Civil War” numbers, he said, but the sales are pretty good and the line seems to be drawing in some folks new to comics.

Save the cheerleader, save the world

Well, we got to learn a bit about Claire’s dad, the mysterious Mr. Horn-Rimmed Glasses, on last night’s “Heroes.” If we can believe him, he’s not a bad guy and is looking after our heroes in a way. Certainly he seems to be a loving dad, doing all he can to save his daughter the cheerleader. And as we’ve been told repeatedly, “Save the cheerleader, save the world.”

Meanwhile, Hiro had a sweet but incredibly short-lived stab at a romance - although with his time-traveling powers, we may not have seen the last of the cute, little Texas waitress who was killed off in the episode.

Next week’s episode looks to be a must-see, with a lot of the threads coming together.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Is a bouncing baby Luthor on the way?

Oliver “Green Arrow” Queen a junkie! Lana Lang pregnant! Lionel Luthor and Martha Kent, almost kissing!

It was a pretty good episode of “Smallville” last night. Green Arrow got hooked on a drug that gave him instant-healing powers, a story line that I’m guessing was inspired by Green Arrow’s sidekick, Speedy, becoming a junkie back in the ‘70s in the comics. Or not.

There also was a nice, almost tender scene between Clark and Lana and a fine contrast at the end between the Kents’ warm and fuzzy Thanksgiving dinner and Lana and Lex sitting at opposite ends of a long table in the Luthor mansion.

I can’t see Lana getting an abortion, but I also don’t see her and Lex becoming parents. So if she really is pregnant, I’m guessing miscarriage down the line.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Another "All-Star" delay

Newsarama has an interview with superstar artist Jim Lee in which he discusses delays for “Wildcats” and “All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder.”

Issue No. 5 of “All-Star Batman” is now due in late January. Newsarama points out that means issue No. 4 is the only issue in the series to come out this year.

Astounding. I can understand getting overextended. But one issue in a year?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Tube news: "Heroes" and "Smallville"

“Heroes,” my new favorite show, is the cover story in the latest Entertainment Weekly. One interesting part for comics fans is the news that J. Michael Straczynski, creator of “Rising Stars,” is shopping around a “Rising Stars” TV series with director Sam Raimi. The article talks about the similarities between “Rising Stars” and “Heroes.” There are some, certainly: ordinary people with superpowers, a lack of spandex, a big cast. But the heroes of “Rising Stars” all got their powers as kids, were all from the same community and had to face government control from Day One.

“The Great American Pop Culture Quiz” on the back page of the magazine is devoted to superheroes. I got 9 out of 10 right, missed the one on “The Incredibles.”

In other comic-book pop-culture news, the new TV Guide reveals that Lex Luthor will propose to Lana Lang on the Nov. 16 episode of “Smallville.” Just say no, Lana. That episode will also feature a shadowy visit from another DC Comics mainstay, the Martian Manhunter.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Lex and Lana, sitting in a tree ....

In the first season or two of “Smallville,” the show fell into the rut of Clark battling a different “meteor freak” pretty much each week. This season, it looks like Clark’s going to be spending a lot of his time rounding up super-powered criminals who escaped from the Phantom Zone in the season-opener.

Aside from nabbing one of those villains, there were a few key developments in last night’s episode. Clark, in a stirring little speech at the end, told his mom he was ready to embrace his destiny rather than whining about how his powers make him different. And the relationship between Lana Lang and Lex Luthor began to fracture. I know Lana and Clark won’t end up with each other, but I’m looking forward to Lana realizing again that Clark’s the good guy, not Lex.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

So, anyone else confused by "Justice League?"

“Justice League of America” No. 3 came out yesterday. I’m enjoying Brad Meltzer’s run, though I’m frankly more than a bit lost about what’s going on. And after three issues of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman sitting around arrogantly picking out new members of the JLA while other heroes are busy battling menaces that I guess are all related, I’m ready for the “Big Three” to join the action.

I’m still not sure how I feel about Meltzer’s choices for the team, either. I’m pretty unfamiliar with Vixen and I’m not a particular Red Tornado fan. It’s good to see Black Lightning raise his profile, though, and interesting to see Arsenal (if that’s what he’s calling himself these days) take over the archer role from Green Arrow.