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

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Vacation's all I ever wanted ....

I’m off to vacation in the grand state, or at least big state, of Texas, so I’ll be offline until June 4 or so. But before I go, some odds and ends:

OK, so “Lost” isn’t a comic book. But since comics writer Jeph Loeb used to work on it and comics writer Brian K. Vaughn still does, I feel like I can comment on it. Last night’s season finale has haunted me all day, with its flash-forward to a bitter, druggie Jack who desperately yearns to get back on the island. A true mind-trip.

DC’s “Countdown” continues to, well, count down. This week’s issue included some cool stuff, such as Jimmy Olsen’s apparent return to his Elasti-Lad Days and the return of Black Adam, but in between those events it seemed kind of blah.

From The Associated Press: Japan will hand out its first “Nobel Prize of Manga” this summer for artists in the comic book genre abroad, another step in its efforts to harness the power of pop culture diplomacy. The International Manga Award — which manga enthusiast Foreign Minister Taro Aso likened to a “Nobel Prize” when he first proposed it last year — will be given to an artist working abroad whose work best contributes to the spread of the manga form worldwide, the ministry said.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Next up: Volume II of "Heroes"

So, “Volume I” of “Heroes” has ended. I liked last night’s season-ender, though I agree with Gazette TV critic Andy Wineke that the end seemed rushed.

I figured Nathan would be a hero at the last minute, so that wasn’t a big surprise. I was disappointed to see Sylar apparently slither off in a bloody trail; I was hoping he was out of here. Thanks to Molly, we already know who the big bad is likely to be next year, though maybe Sylvar will be teaming up with him.

What fascinates me is that, No. 1, a chapter actually did end (as opposed to, say “Lost.”) And, more importantly, that it opens up a whole new frontier next season. We already know Hiro will be back, and Mohinder no doubt will be around, too. And presumably Peter will fall out of the sky at some point. But with the rest of the cast, do we have a fledgling superhero team? Or will they all go their separate ways, with new folks taking the lead?

Monday, May 21, 2007

This Joker is no laughing matter

Warner Bros. has unveiled Heath Ledger’s look as the Joker in next year’s sequel to “Batman Begins” online at http://www.ibelieveinharveydenttoo.com/. And boy, is he creepy. It look like this Joker will be a lot darker than the zany Jack Nicholson Joker in Tim Burton’s “Batman.”

Friday, May 18, 2007

"Smalville" - the season cliffhanger

(If you taped last night’s “Smallville” and haven’t watched yet, read no further.)

So, Lana’s dead, Chloe’s dead, Lex is arrested (again) and Clark has an evil counterpart (yawn.) Last night’s “Smallville” was the season finale, so now we have the summer to ponder all of the characters’ fates.

Lana? That’s an easy one. Her death was faked, possibly by her. It was the only way she was going to escape Lex’s clutches. Chloe? Well, we seem to have finally discovered her meteor-related powers. Whether it’s a one-time power and she died bringing Lois back to life, that’s another question.

I groaned near the end to see Clark facing evil Clark. I guess you could see it as a tribute to the third Superman movie, which had a similar plot development, but that movie doesn’t really deserve a tribute. And I’m totally sick of alternate personalities on “Smallville.” But the scene at the very end - Bizarro Clark! - redeemed it all.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Yes, they're really here

Will wonders never cease? Today saw the release of both "Ultimates 2" No. 13 and "All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder" No. 5 - two titles that have been more than a bit delayed. The issue of "Ultimates 2" is the finale for Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's run. I haven't had time to actually read it, but I did see the 8-page, action-filled gatefold, a great display for Hitch's art. I may have to get a second copy so I can pull out and frame the scene.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Some Marvelous footwear

A new way to display your love of all things Marvel: Crocs Inc. today announced a licensing agreement with Marvel Entertainment Inc. to produce Crocs footwear and Jibbitz charms featuring Marvel characters including Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Spider-Man and the X-Men. The new line of Jibbitz charms will be available at select locations this summer while the new line of Crocs Marvel footwear will debut later in the year.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Saying farewell to "Strangers in Paradise"

I got a chance to talk to Terry Moore, creator of “Strangers in Paradise,” on Saturday before his Q&A and signing at Bargain Comics downtown. With his independently published series wrapping up - one issue to go - he’s looking to do some mainstream work. But he wouldn’t tell me what it was.

He did talk a bit about his new series, tentatively called “Motorgirl,” that he expects to launch this fall. "The basic premise is a young woman living in a tiny desert town in Arizona, working in a dusty motorcycle shop as a mechanic, and her dream is to find and restore a vintage World War II Harley-Davidson.”

More on Moore (hah!) in a future Comics Fan.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Bringing back the classics

I talked today to the legendary Roy Thomas, former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief, award-winning comics writer and fanboy supreme. We talked about Marvel Illustrated, Marvel’s take on the old Classics Illustrated line. The Marvel line kicks off with adaptations of “The Last of the Mohicans,” “Treasure Island” and “The Man in the Iron Mask” - all written by Thomas.

Thomas has been around long enough that he used to read those old Classics Illustrated books as a kid. “I didn’t buy them all,” he said, “but I bought quite a few of them.”

When writing his adaptations for Marvel, a priority is keeping the original language as much as possible, he said. The idea, for example, with “The Last of the Mohicans” is to make it read as if James Fenimore Cooper had written the comic — “but with an eye toward a 21st century audience being able to understand it.”

Look for more on Marvel Illustrated in a future Comics Fan column.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The "Countdown" begins

I received an advance copy today of the first issue of DC’s “Countdown,” which arrives in comic-book shops Wednesday. It looks to be an interesting mix of cosmic adventure and more street-level tales; I'm hooked already. Like “52,” DC’s previous weekly series, I think it will appeal more to fervent DC fans than newbies, though. If you don’t know what a Monitor is or aren’t familiar with, say, the multiverse, you could be in for a rough read.

Monday, May 07, 2007

"Spider-Man 3" - what did you think?

No surprise that “Spider-Man 3” set all kinds of box-office records this weekend. It won’t be getting any repeat business, though, from the woman who left the theater in front of me Sunday, grumbling, “I thought it would never end.”

I wasn’t particularly dazzled, either. (Mild spoilers ahead.) The big problem for me was that there’s really two movies squeezed into one and the pacing is all off. Some moments go on forever, but the last quarter of the movie is rushed. All of a sudden, there’s Venom, then Venom teaming up with Sandman, then Mary Jane in a trap. Please, if there is a “Spider-Man 4,” can it NOT have Mary Jane used as bait to lure Spider-Man? Three times in a row is enough.

That’s not to say I hated it. Sandman was great, looking like he truly did step out of a comic-book page. I also liked the development of Harry Osborn. And there were plenty of nice character beats. It just didn’t all gel.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Thumbs up - and down - for "Spider-Man 3"

Well, the reviews for “Spider-Man 3” are coming in, and they’re definitely a mixed bag.

Christy Lemire of The Associated Press calls the movie “a bloated, uneven behemoth.” But Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe says, “(Director Sam) Raimi, who shares script credit with his brother Ivan and Alvin Sargent, strikes an exquisite balance between pop and woe, drama and whooshing adventure.”

The view of Robert Butler of McClatchy Newspapers: “It’s not awful, as comic book movies go. The special effects are solid and there are a few laughs. But the thing that made the first two ‘Spider-Mans’ so memorable — the way we empathized with geeky Every Man Peter Parker and his travails — is missing here. Where the other films had heart, this one seems to be just going through the motions, tying up loose ends before bowing out.”

And of Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: “Certainly acceptable as a sequel to a sequel, ‘Spider-Man 3’ misses an opportunity to be a movie that could be wholeheartedly recommended to those not already ensnared in its web.”

An ecstatic review from Forrest Hartman, Reno Gazette-Journal: “Action, romance, melodrama and music all have a place in writer-director Sam Raimi’s delightfully inventive romp, giving comic book fans the best - and most daring - Spider-Man film to date.”

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Your chance to break into the industry

Platinum Studios today announced the opening of submissions for the 2007 Comic Book Challenge (www.comicbookchallenge.com), a yearly contest for aspiring comic-book writers and artists. Entries can be submitted online through May 31; the top 50 entrants will be invited to pitch their concepts before a panel of industry and Hollywood insiders at the International San Diego Comic-Con in July. Platinum Studios will sign the winner for a publishing deal and help develop the property for film and TV.