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

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The man behind the glasses

Last night's “Heroes” was an interesting change of pace, centered on just one group of characters instead of flitting around from hero to hero. And in revealing the history of H.R.G. (the Horn Rimmed Glasses guy, adoptive father of Claire), the episode also revealed some interesting connections. Hiro's father, for example, is key to this whole shadowy effort of tracking people with powers. And the cranky invisible guy that has more or less become Peter Petrelli's mentor used to be the partner of H.R.G. Cool.

It looks like the status quo has been shaken up, too. Claire's on the run, her dad has joined the ranks of the memory-impaired and officer Matt Parkman may not be going back to his wife any time soon.

Monday, February 26, 2007

"Ghost Rider" on top again

“Ghost Rider” burned the competition at the box office again.

In its second weekend, business for “Ghost Rider” fell 57 percent, according to a Los Angeles Times story. But that was still enough to keep it atop the box office, taking in nearly $20 million. By comparison, “Bridge to Terabithia,” also in its second weekend, fell only 40 percent and was in third place.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The end of "Civil War": What did you think?

So, it’s over.

"Civil War” No. 7 is here and while it seems like a bit of a letdown to me, I don’t know what I was expecting.

The issue was largely a superhero slugfest, followed by Captain America’s surrender after realizing that the war had gotten out of hand, and ending with a quick, broad sketch of the new Marvel universe.

My problem is I never understood what Captain America and his team were fighting for to begin with. Sure, I understood that he opposed to Superhero Registration Act, saw it as an infringement on civil rights, etc. But I never saw what he and his allies thought they’d gain by beating Iron Man and the pro-registration folk into a bloody pulp.

And I never believed Mark Millar’s interpretation of Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. Sure, he’s brilliant and sometimes absent-minded, but I’ve never seen him as as the type who would talk about his emotions in terms of adrenal glands or time the minutes he cried over his missing Sue.

But my BIG problem is that every state is now getting its very own superhero teams — and Colorado is getting the Thunderbolts, a pack of immoral, deadly supervillains?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Life, my friends, is not a comic book

Some ramblings here ....

Best line on last night’s “Heroes”: “Life is not a comic book.” That’s according to Hiro.

Newsarama confirms that the long-rumored follow-up to DC’s hit weekly “52” series begins in May. The new series, “Countdown,” begins with issue No. 51 and, yes, counts down to No. 1 over the following year. I understand DC wanting to keep the momentum going, but I’m not sure I’m ready for another weekly series already.

The Pulse, meanwhile, reports that “Wonder Woman” No. 5 will not have the final chapter in Allan Heinberg’s “Who is Wonder Woman” story arc, but a totally different story by writer Will Pfeifer. Heinberg’s run has been marked by delays, and now we don’t even have an end to his story in sight.

Monday, February 19, 2007

"Ghost Rider" rides to top of box office

Well, that’s a bit of a surprise.

According to studio estimates, “Ghost Rider” was No. 1 at the box office this weekend, collecting $44.5 million — twice as much as No. 2 on the list, “Bridge to Terabithia.”

It’s more than I would have guessed, though it’s about the same as “Daredevil” - another movie starring a lesser-known Marvel hero and opening in February — made in it’s first weekend a few years ago.

It’s also, by the way, the biggest opening weekend ever for star Nicolas Cage.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Chloe joins the meteor-freak ranks

Clark and Lana continued to restore their bonds on last night’s “Smallville” — even as the Lex-Lana wedding draws closer. Lana, finally, knows that Clark is her and everyone’s hero, even if her meteor-freak theory was off..

Michael Rosenbaum, who plays Lex, directed last night’s episode. You can tell Rosenbaum is enjoying embracing Lex’s evil side. He’s proving to be quite chilling in his arch-nemesis role.

The big news is that Chloe is “meteor-infected” — and Lex knows. But if she has a meteor-related power, it’s news to her and to us.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"Archie" artist dies

This news, off the AP wire today:

Joe Edwards, an artist who worked on the 1942 debut issue of Archie comics and later created the character Li’l Jinx, has died. Edwards, who was 85, died Feb. 1 at his home after years of treatment for heart problems, said his son, Todd Edwards.

Along with drawing the popular redheaded teenager, ArchieAndrews, and his pals Jughead, Betty and Veronica, Edwards created Li’l Jinx, a precocious girl who had her own comic book for a time and still appears as a character in others, said Victor Gorelick,vice president and managing editor of Archie Comics.

Many of Li’l Jinx’s adventures were based on Edwards’experiences with his own two sons and daughters. “He was a very funny cartoonist, and a good ideas man,” Gorelick said.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A deadly clash on "Heroes"

The highlight of last night’s “Heroes,” for me, anyway, was the showdown between Jessica, in assassin mode, and officer Matt Parkman, whose job as a bodyguard did NOT end well.

Meanwhile, scientist Mohinder better watch his back, now that he’s apparently becoming an unwitting ally of the villainous Sylar. Some chilling stuff there.

But the Hiro scenes, again, seemed a waste of time. I agree with concerns that Hiro, formerly my favorite character, is becoming a caricature of himself - too cute and too silly.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Well, that answers that ... probably

Newsarama this afternoon offered a sneak peek at some of Marvel’s solicitations for May — and apparently resolved a big mystery in the process.

Marvel has been hinting for some time now about the new Fantastic Four. One piece of promo art it released showed the Black Panther and Storm fighting alongside the Thing and the Human Torch and asked, “Is this the new FF?”

This solicitation for “Black Panther” No. 28 seems to answer that question:

“It’s slobberin’ time! The new Fantastic Four just made a wrong turn on the inter-dimensional super highway -- and they’ve landed in the middle of Zombie-verse! That’s right, True Believer, if the Black Panther, Storm, the Human Torch and the Thing can’t come up with the perfect escape plan, they’re going to be the next hors d'ouvres for Zombie Galacti intent on eating the entire universe!”

Heroes on the big screen

Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times, using “Ghost Rider” as an example, says Hollywood is running out of A-list superheroes and is turning to “second-class men in tights.” He offers up some other characters “that are very likely available and, even likelier, pretty cheap.” Among them: Black Canary, Matter-Eater Lad from the Legion of Super-Heroes and Marvel’s Dazzler.

It’s tongue in cheek, but it does raise the question of what other heroes would you like to see on the big screen. (I got an e-mail today from a big Thor fan wondering about progress on the planned Thor movie.) I’d like to see the Flash race on to the big screen, and I know that’s in the works. I think a Green Lantern movie could be cool. And when are we going to see that solo Wolverine movie?

Friday, February 09, 2007

The power of "Shazam!"

I just had my interview with Jeff Smith, the creator of “Bone” and the writer-artist of DC’s “Shazam” The Monster Society of Evil.” The first issue of “Shazam,” a four-issue miniseries, came out this week.

Smith noted that while not everybody has heard of Captain Marvel, pretty much everybody has heard “Shazam!” (I’d forgotten that Gomer Pyle used to shout that out.) His parents, Smith said, were fans of Captain Marvel as kids and his mother tells a story that showed to him the power of “shazam,” the magic word that transforms young Billy Batson into Captain Marvel.

“My mom said that when she was a little girl and her older sister used to tickle her, she would say ‘shazam’ and she wouldn’t be ticklish anymore. And that kind of gave me a clue as to how powerful this word was and what it really meant.”

Look for more on Smith in the next Comics Fan column.

"Smallville" sizzles

Forget about the plot: another stalker after Lana Lang. The meat of last night’s episode of “Smallville” was in the relationships: Jimmy and Chloe, Clark and Lana, Lex and Lana. Lana has become much less annoying as she has come to realize that Clark still means something to her and isn’t a bad guy — even if he did mess up the party the week before at the Luthor mansion and almost kill Lex.

The last scene, between Clark and Lex, was dead-on as Lex gave Clark an invitation to the Lex-Lana wedding. It would mean a lot to Lana to have you there, Lex told Clark. And it would mean a lot to Lex to have Clark there suffering, seeing what he had missed out on. Great stuff.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Wolverine at 50: A sell-out

Marvel reports that “Wolverine” No. 50 has sold out at Diamond. That doesn’t mean you won’t necessarily come up empty if you look for it at your friendly, neighborhood comic-book shop. But it does mean there are no more copies coming to those shops and Marvel says it has no plans to go back to press on the book.

I’m not a regular “Woverine” reader, but I did pick up the 50th issue. It’s the first by writer Jeph Loeb and artist Simone Bianchi; I’m a fan of Loeb and have been attracted to Bianchi’s cover work. I wasn’t really knocked out by the issue, but I was intrigued by a certain flashback scene. And you can’t say that the story, focusing on the feud between Sabretooth and Logan, wasn’t action-packed.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

And the daddy is ....

In the last seconds of last night’s “Heroes,” we learned that Claire’s biological dad is (SPOILER ALERT!) .... Nathan Petrelli!

Not really that big of a shocker. We kind of knew it was one of the regular characters, and Nathan’s known for sleeping around a bit.

I love the character of Hiro, and I welcomed George Takei as his dad, but I found their scenes boring last night: just scene after scene of them yakking in Japanese. The escape of Sylar juiced up the episode’s tension, though.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Big-screen comings and goings

According to a story in today’s Hollywood Reporter, Shawn Levy, director of the box-office hit “Night at the Museum,” has stepped in to direct Warner Bros. Pictures’ “The Flash.” David Goyer had been attached to write, direct and produce the “Flash” feature, but disclosed Friday that he was no longer with the project.

Studio and agency sources, meanwhile, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that Joss Whedon was off the “Wonder Woman” movie. Whedon announced the news at the Whedonesque Web site on Friday. “Let me stress first that everybody at the studio and Silver Pictures were cool and professional,” wrote Whedon, who had been signed to write and direct the movie. “We just saw different movies, and at the price range this kind of movie hangs in, that's never gonna work.”

I’m not happy with either development. Goyer, known for several comic-book projects and movies (“Blade,” “Batman Begins”) knows his comic-book characters. It looks like Levy is aiming for a lighter touch, which would work with “The Flash,” I suppose, as long as he doesn’t make it TOO light. And Whedon, creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” seemed well-suited to “Wonder Woman.” Obviously he’s no stranger to writing strong women characters, and I was looking forward to his take on the Amazon princess.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Lois and Clark, together for the first time

Despite the fact that last night’s “Smallville” was yet another altered-personality episode (Clark and friends regularly undergo personality transformations thanks to red kryptonite, magic, brain-burrowing worms or whatever), it was also a significant episode.

Clark revealed his true feelings about a lot of things, maybe even feelings he didn’t realize were true. The Clark-Lex feud racheted up even more. And Lana finally got a clue as to what Clark’s secret might be, at least as far as his powers. There was also the fun of seeing Clark and Lois become a couple, temporarily anyway.

And what’s going on with Lana’s baby? Lex dropped a bombshell that this isn’t your standard pregnancy. Is this part of his supervillain meteor-freak program or what?