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

Monday, June 30, 2008

Moviegoers wanted "Wanted"

Another comic book movie hits it big, even if most people won't know that it's a comic book movie. "Wanted," based on the comic by Mark Millar, netted $51.1 million during the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. that's just a few million shy of the opening weekend box office for "The Incredible Hulk." "Wanted" still only came in second during the weekend, though; Pixar's "Wall-E" was No. 1 with $62.5 million in ticket sales.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Heath Ledger's finest?

Heath Ledger has been touted as an amazing presence in the upcoming "The Dark Knight." David Germain of the Associated Press, who saw a press screening of the movie Thursday night, has this to say:

"The buzz over Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker in 'The Dark Knight' for the last several months was justified. With his final full film role, Ledger delivers what may be remembered as the finest performance of his career."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Final Crisis" No. 2

Took home a BIG stack of comics yesterday from Bargain Comics. At the top of the pile: "Final Crisis" No. 2.

I liked the second issue of DC's big event better than the first, and I'm starting to get a sense of what's going on. Still kind of hard to follow though, and the pacing is off for me. Like the first issue, this issue began with an extended sequence - this one in Japan. So sort of a leisurely start, but then bam! the story lurches ahead in bits and pieces.

Still pretty pictures, though. And it's not like I'm not intrigued. Wish I'd read Grant Morrison's "Mister Miracle" books; maybe then, I'd be a bit more plugged in.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


A copy of "Superpowers," a new novel by David Schwartz, landed on my desk yesterday. It's about a group of college friends who after a night of partying discover they have superpowers and form a crime-fighting group. I've got a vacation coming up in a couple of weeks, so maybe I'll have time to read it then. Publishers Weekly calls it an "eager-to-please but unsatisfying debut" by Schwartz. But I found some online critic who touts it as poignant and emotionally hard-hitting. We'll see....

Friday, June 20, 2008

"Old Man Logan"

The cover of this week's "Wolverine" No. 66 touts it as the greatest Wolverine story ever. I don't know about that, but the issue - which starts Mark Millar's "Old Man Logan" storyline - is pretty awesome. Drenched in a Mad Max, post-apocalyptic atmosphere, the story is set 50 years or so into the future, a dark time when the superheroes are gone and evil has taken over. (Maybe they ran into DC's "Final Crisis," touted as the day evil won.) Wolverine has settled down, a struggling farmer with a wife and kids, and apparently hasn't popped his claws in all that time. In the opening chapter, he suffers a pretty bad beating, thanks to the grandchildren of Bruce "Hulk" Banner. Wolverine's old buddy Hawkeye is also around, and ready to take Logan on an epic road trip in future chapters.

"Old Man Logan" reunites Millar with artist Steve McNiven, and as with "Civil War," they again make a great team.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"Captain America: White"

I talked today with writer Jeph Loeb, who is reunited with artist Tim Sale for "Captain America: White," an upcoming miniseries from Marvel. Though it won't launch until late this year, a special issue No. 0 will arrive in comic book shops next month, just to get you revved up for the actual series. The "zero" issue will feature a 17-page origin of Bucky, Cap's sidekick during the war years, plus some special features.

Loeb and Sale, of course, have done other Marvel "color books," including "Spider-Man: Blue," "Daredevil: Yellow" and "Hulk: Gray." The colors have double meaning: "Spider-Man: Blue," for example, refers to the blue in Spidey's costume and the blue mood he's in. Loeb wouldn't explain the meaning behind "Captain America: White," but says it will become clear in the first issue.

I'll have more on Loeb and Cap in a future Comics Fan.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dixon and DC

Talk about burning bridges. Writer Chuck Dixon has left DC, and some of the reasons may be right here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Some Hulk-sized hopes

The Wall Street Journal had a story today on Marvel Studios and the hopes for this weekend's release of "The Incredible Hulk." AP moved a similar story. Seems no one is expecting "Hulk" to rival the roaring success of "Iron Man." The question is whether the studio's first smash hit is followed by a more modest hit or a flop.

Here's an interesting figure from the Wall Street Journal story: "With an estimated $200 million in movie profits, however, 'Iron Man' will make more for Marvel than the company's 16 previous films combined, according to analysts. All 16 were made with studio partners who paid for them."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Back on the big screen

So is "The Incredible Hulk" truly incredible? Apparently not, according to a wealth of reviewers. But there does seem to be consensus that it is better than Ang Lee's "Hulk." The Washington Post calls the new movie "a classic comic-book hero quest that, while not entirely novel, hews to its own rules and conventions with dignity and artfulness." McClatchy Newspapers ranks it "somewhere between the painful 'Daredevil' and the amazing 'Iron Man.' ” "Green, lean and mean, 'The Incredible Hulk' is a thrill-oriented reboot of the superhero franchise that should have action fans cheering," the Star Tribune declares.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Happy birthday, Skaar

Cute. ... First issue of "Skaar, Son of Hulk" is out today.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"Batman Gotham Knight"

I talked today with Alan Burnett, who has been working on Batman in various animated incarnations since 1991 - or even longer, if you count "Super Friends." His latest project is "Batman Gotham Knight," an animated adventure coming out on DVD next month. It features six interlocking stories illustrated by Japanese animators, so expect a new look for Gotham City and the Dark Knight. Burnett was story editor and also wrote the last chapter, which features Deadshot. It was an opportunity Burnett relished.

"One villain you could never put on Saturday morning or in children's programs was Deadshot, because this guy is an assassin who uses bullets," he explained. "We thought since we're going after a little older audience here that we could finally be able to use Deadshot."

I'll have more on "Gotham Knight" in a future Comics Fan.

Morrison on "Final Crisis"

Well, that explains that. Newsarama, in an interview with writer Grant Morrison, asks about disconnects between his "Final Crisis" and a couple of series intended to lead into "Final Crisis," namely "Countdown" and "Death of the New Gods." Seems that Grant had his first issue written before these other series even got going. I still think some editors could have stepped in and tried to make it all mesh together better.

Monday, June 09, 2008

"Comic Books Unbound"

Anybody get Starz? "Comic Books Unbound," examining comic books' growing power in Hollywood, airs Tuesday night on Starz. I watched a DVD screener of the show last night. It's interesting enough, charting the history of comics in movies since the days of the old Superman movie serials. Among those interviewed: Stan Lee, director Guillermo Del Toro, producer Michael Uslan and Marvel Studios' Kevin Feige. Also a couple of my favorite all-time artists, Neal Adams and Jim Steranko. Guess Frank Miller is reclusive; there was a lot of talk about him as far as his Batman work, "Sin City," his upcoming "Spirit" movie, etc., but he didn't appear himself.

Friday, June 06, 2008

A worthy week

Been digging through this week's stack of comics ...

"Final Crisis" is being savaged on the forums at Comicon.com. I didn't think it was THAT bad. But I do see it as another event that is for already established DC fans, vs. something that could draw in new fans. They'd just be lost .... And how come Superman doesn't seem to remember that he was in "Death of the New Gods?"

"Kick-Ass" is becoming my guilty pleasure. Issue No. 4 came out this week. Profane, violent, funny.

Damage is no longer so ... damaged. Check out "Justice Society."

Nice start to "Trinity." Though I'm not clear why Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman decided to meet in public in their "civilian" identities rather than meeting on the moon or whatever. More relaxing?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A victim of "Final Crisis"

I talked this morning with DC executive editor Dan DiDio about "Final Crisis," the subject of this Sunday's Comics Fan column. I asked about the death in issue No. 1 of Martian Manhunter, who for some reason has always been a favorite of mine.

The series, DiDio said, needed an event in the opening issue that brought "a sense of urgency and matter." And the Martian Manhunter took the hit.

"Martian Manhunter, to us, symbolized the start of the Silver Age," DiDio said. "He was one of the characters that really heralded a new generation of heroes."

This being comics, of course, Martian Manhunter could always come back some day. For now, look for "Final Crisis: Requiem" in July, which looks back on his life.

Monday, June 02, 2008

"The Stand" revisited

As announced during the weekend at WizardWorld in Philadelphia, and detailed in a press release sent today, Marvel will publish a comic-book adaptation of Stephen King's "The Stand."

"There's nothing more interesting - and more fun - than seeing an old work take on new life in a new medium," King says in the press release.

"The Stand" was published 30 years ago and I'm a big fan. But I'm not that excited about a comic book version; if I want to revist the story, I'll just pull it off the shelf and read it again. I'd be more interested in seeing new comic book stories spin out of "The Stand." Then again, if it gets more King fans into comics, that's a good thing.