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Friday, March 30, 2007

Counting down to "Countdown"

I talked today to DC executive editor Dan DiDio about “Countdown,” the weekly series that will follow on the heels of “52.” I asked if he was worried that readers might not be ready to commit timewise and moneywise to another weekly series so soon.He said he looks at it from the opposite point of view.

“I’m looking at the fact that they (readers) got comfortable and they enjoyed the whole weekly experience and they want it to continue,” he told me.

I was going to try to bypass “Countdown,” but I won’t be able to resist the siren call, particularly with storylines such as the search for the long-missing Ray “Atom” Palmer and the return of Kirby’s Fourth World.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Comics via computer

IGN Entertainment announced this week that its Direct2Drive digital retail store has launched the Web’s first independent, download-to-own comic-book shop and will start selling comics from Top Cow. It anticipates adding content from other comic and manga publishers in the next year. The downloadable comics are delivered in high-res, full-color documents via Adobe Systems Incorporated’s Portable Document Format so that you can download, view and print the comic books on any standard Windows PC.

I’m all for anything that gets comics in the hands of more people. I don’t think I’d be too eager, though, to print out my own. I’d rather seek out old Top Cow titles from comic-book shops' bargain bins. But maybe I'm just behind the times ...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Cap's 25th is back

If you heard about the death of Captain America and rushed to your friendly, neighborhood comic-book store for a copy of “Captain America” No. 25, only to find all the copies sold out, fear not. The issue is back with a second printing, available in stores tomorrow.

Monday, March 26, 2007

For Worser or For Best

I know I usually write about comic BOOKS, not comic STRIPS, but I’ve got to take note of Sunday’s “Lio” strip in The Gazette. When I first saw it, I thought there had been a mistake: It looked like there were two “For Better or For Worse” strips running on the front comics page. But the bottom one was “Lio” drawn in the style of Lynn Johnston’s “For Better or For Worse” and with the same characters. Call it a parody or a loving tip of the hat or something in between: Whatever, it was great.

Friday, March 23, 2007

An angry Clark, a mournful Lana

I wasn’t all that captivated by last night’s “Smallville,” but it was interesting to see the angry, take-no-prisoners Clark. The big news: Lana loses the baby! Or does she? We already knew something was funky about the pregnancy. I’m thinking Lex regarded her as a temporary incubator and now the baby’s growing up in a test tube or something. Your guess?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A new age of darkness?

An article this week in the Los Angeles Daily News asks, “When, precisely, did comics books get so, well, serious?” It cites the assassination of Marvel’s Captain American and the rape of a superhero’s wife (DC’s “Identity Crisis” from a couple of years ago) as signals of this new seriousness.

My answer to the question is: about 20 years ago. That’s when “Watchmen” and Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” rocked the comics world. So this new, darker atmosphere isn’t exactly new. I do agree, though, that things have gotten even grimmer recently, particularly over at Marvel, with its superheroes torn by “Civil War” and Cap dying and all that. Spider-Man’s even back in black to display his mood these days. And things have gotten bloodier: “Justice League of America” No. 6, in which Solomon Grundy tears off Red Tornado’s hand, then is ripped apart himself by Reddie, is just the latest example.

Good thing, bad thing or just is? I’m OK with it as long as there’s variety: I still want my wise-cracking Spidey in "Ultimate Spider-Man." Comics are supposed to provide an escape, not leave you longing to return to the real world.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sexy "Smallville"

Today’s Pop page in The Gazette has a story on TV Guide listing TV’s sexiest stars. The story doesn’t mention that TV Guide readers also weighed in on a variety of categories. It seems “Smallville” is one sexy show. Readers named Tom Welling, who plays the young Superman, as sexiest crimefighter and Michael Rosenbaum, who plays Lex Luthor, as sexiest villain.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spider-Man in Dubai

Now this is cool. But Dubai? I just don’t see myself getting there.

Marvel today announced a partnership with United Arab Emirate-based Al Ahli Group to develop a Marvel universe theme park in Dubai.

From the press release:

Mohamed Khammas, CEO of Al Ahli Group commented, “Al Ali Group’s partnership with Marvel Entertainment serves a long pursued quest of creating the ultimate entertainment destination for families and children of the region and the world, a destination where they can live their childhood fantasies and create new memories for the entire family to cherish and remember. Family destinations have not evolved in Pan Arabia and thus it’s time that we cater to that demand and make the investment required for global tourism.

“Marvel is a brand that is recognized globally via its ever expanding list of ‘Super Hero’ characters. Now, it won’t be much longer until the children in Pan Arabia and the world can experience new and exciting rides with Marvel’s Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four and many other Super Heroes right here in the UAE.”

Friday, March 16, 2007

Introducing Mrs. Alexander Luthor

I only saw the second half of “Smallville” last night, but that was enough to see Lana Lang become Lana Luthor. Yeech.

The big news is that Lana finally knows Clark’s big secret. It was to protect him that she went through with her marriage to Lex. Just as a season or two ago, Clark lied to Lana and said he didn’t love her to protect her.

I’m getting whiplash from seeing Lionel Luthor change back and forth from bad to good to bad. He was the one who’s been protecting Clark; now all of a sudden, he’s coming to his son’s rescue and threatening to kill Clark. What’s up with that?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Iron Man makes a confession

“Civil War: The Confession,” out this week, offers a somber postscript to Marvel’s big event. The confession is made by Iron Man, who was pretty much made out to be the bad guy in “Civil War” but whose motivations were further explored in “Civil War: Front Lines” and now in this book.

Anyway, the last scene is pretty heart-wrenching and the reader starts to feel for Tony “Iron Man” Stark. Except that I still don’t buy that he would bring the worst of Marvel’s villains into the effort to go after his fellow superheroes. Or that he would push Peter Parker into publicly unmasking as Spider-Man; even if Spidey hadn’t later switched sides, the unmasking still made him and his loved ones an incredibly easy target by bad guys. Or that if Tony feared a war was brewing between the heroes that his answer was to ... start a war!

Monday, March 12, 2007

"300" conquers the box office

Another comic book movie hits big! “300,” based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller, brought in about $70 million at the box office during the weekend. It’s the biggest March opening ever. I haven’t seen it, but my son, who works at the Cinemark, says he’s heard only good things about it from moviegoers.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Archie's new look

I talked to Steven Butler yesterday. He’s the artist who created a new, more realistic look for Archie and the gang for a story that will be running in Archie Comics’ “Betty and Veronica Double Digest,” starting in May.

Archie Comics announced the new look way back in December, and the response has not been kind. “Horrible new look for Archie,” one Web site trumpets. Those who thought they were seeing the last of the old Archie should relax, though. The new look is just for one serialized story. While it could show up elsewhere in the future, there are no plans to replace the standard Archie style set 40 years ago by Dan DeCarlo.

Butler seems to be taking all the attacks in stride. “I look at the negativity as something that spurs me on to do even better work to prove to them that I’m not just hacking this stuff out, that I really care about what I’m doing,” he told me.

Look for more on the new look in, yep, a future Comics Fan column.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Still in mourning

Marvel today was trumpeting the mainstream coverage of the death of Captain America, but in its list of media outlets that covered the story it neglected to mention The Gazette. Guess we’re chopped liver. Oh well.
Anyway, that widespread coverage seemed to fuel sales. I know copies of “Captain America” No. 25 went fast at Bargain Comics yesterday.

I read my copy when I got home last night. Though a sniper’s bullet did fell our hero, it turns out it was a second gunman that finishes the job in a dramatic revelation at the end. Pretty chilling last panel.

Newsarama has an indepth interview today with “Captain America” writer Ed Brubaker. Lots of details on how the story evolved.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Rest in peace ... for now

I had an e-mail waiting for me this morning with this subject line: “Captain America Assassinated.”

Yep, Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, is gunned down in “Captain America” No. 25, hitting stands today. The New York Daily News apparently was the first to report it, and other media are picking up the story, too.

This isn’t a shocker, considering Marvel had indicated a major character would die in the wake of “Civil War,” which found Captain America leading heroes against a federal Superhero Registration Act. At the end of “Civil War,” Cap gave up the struggle, realizing he was out of touch with the people, and was imprisoned.

I’m assuming this is some sort of scam by Tony Stark or whoever — a way of Steve Rogers picking up his life with a new identity not behind bars. But I, of course, could be wrong. It seems a safe bet, though, that we haven’t seen the end of him. Superman died and came back. And Green Arrow. And Green Lantern. And Jean Grey. And Professor X. And ....

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Trouble for Peter Petrelli and Peter Parker

So, no new episodes of “Heroes” until next month. Noooo!!
“Heroes” does the cliffhanger bit pretty well, and last night’s episode was no exception. Peter Petrelli is in big trouble, what with him being about to have his brain removed by the evil Sylar and all that.
It was nice to see Hiro, once my favorite character, not strictly played for laughs for a change. We also have a new character with Mystique-like powers. But I missed the cranky invisible guy.
Near the end of “Heroes,” we also got to see a “Spider-Man 3” preview. It was disappointingly short after all the hype during the episode, but it looked good. We’ve heard about the Sandman and Venom being the bad guys for “Spider-Man 3,” but it looks like Harry Osborn is going to cause plenty of trouble for poor Peter Parker, too.

Monday, March 05, 2007

"Ghost Rider" no longer box-office king

I’ve been busy today, but finally got time to check the box-office numbers and saw that “Ghost Rider” fell to No. 3 this past weekend. Roaring into the top spot: another motorcycle movie minus the flaming skull, “Wild Hogs.”

Meanwhile, they’re sure advertising the heck out of “300.” It arrives in theaters Friday and while a lot of people may not realize it’s a “comic-book movie,” it’s based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller. Truth be told, I’ve never read “300,” but the movie certainly looks savagely intriguing.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The real end of "Civil War"

“Civil War: Front Line” No. 11, out this week, provided kind of an epilogue to Marvel's “Civil War.”After much of “Civil War” tended toward making the anti-superhero registration folks the real heroes of the story, “Front Line” muddied the waters again. Captain America took an emotional beating, portrayed as out of touch with his country and too quick to fight the pro-registration forces.
Then there’s Iron Man, head of the pro-registration forces. The big shocking revelation appears to be that he was behind even more than thought, such as orchestrating an almost-war with Atlantis. The point of the whole conflict, I guess, was to prevent a worse rift down the road, though I’m a bit confused about that. Just as I’m not sure what to make of Tony Stark’s mini-breakdown at the end.