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Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Hawkman Special"

Newsarama has an interview with writer/artist Jim Starlin on next week's "Hawkman Special." He tells Newsarama that he has been asked by DC to clean up "the mess" that is Hawkman's past. Don't get me wrong, Starlin's work is typically good to great. But I agree with the readers who are questioning his latest mission, since Geoff Johns did a heroic job of making sense of Hawkman's convoluted past a few years ago.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"The Book of Lies"

I received an advance copy today of Brad Meltzer's "The Book of Lies." A key element in the novel, which is scheduled for release Sept. 2, is the real-life slaying of Mitch Siegel, father of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel. In his acknowledgments, Meltzer thanks Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster "for building something that has meant more to me than any other art form."

Meltzer, by the way, just won an Eisner at the San Diego Comic-Con International. He and artist Gene Ha won the Eisner for "best single issue" for their story, "Walls," in an issue of "Justice League of America." Congrats.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The DCU grows

Another San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone. I spent the weekend catching up on the latest news through Newsarama and others. The biggest announcements seemed to come out of DC, such as:

The DC Universe is growing. DC has acquired the rights to the old Archie superheroes; they'll be showing up in "The Brave and the Bold." And, more exciting, the old Milestone characters (once published by DC, though part of a separate company) are returning, and this time will be part of the DCU.

Neil Gaiman on Batman! Only a two-part story, apparently, but still ... Neil Gaiman on Batman!

Geoff Johns is writing an episode of "Smallville" that will introduce the Legion of Super-Heroes. With Lex and Lana gone for the most part, I'm having trouble being excited at all about the upcoming season of "Smallville," but I'll at least be checking out this episode.

Speaking of Johns, he and Ethan Van Sciver will be reunited for "Flash: Rebirth," which will help reintroduce the long-gone Barry Allen to the DCU. I have mixed feelings about the return of Barry, who died decades ago in "Crisis on Infinite Earths," but the dynamic duo of Johns and Van Sciver give me some reassurance.

Friday, July 25, 2008

King and Marvel, together again

The relationship between Marvel and Stephen King just keeps getting stronger. Marvel, in a partnership with Scribner and Simon & Schuster Digital and CBS Mobile, today announced a series of 25 video episodes, beginning Monday, adapting a not-yet published story by King. The comic book style series, drawn by Alex Maleev and adapted by “Eli Stone” co-creator Marc Guggenheim, will be for viewing on the small, small screen – mobile phones – and on the Web.
The story, “N,” the tale of a psychiatrist who develops the same mysterious and deadly obsession as his patient, will be included in a collection of King short stories, “Just After Sunset,” coming in November. The video episodes will become the basis of a comic book miniseries in 2009. For more information, check out http://www.nishere.com/.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dark Horse in Hollywood

The Los Angeles Times ran a nice story the other day by Geoff Boucher on the growth of Dark Horse Comics, exploring how founder Mike Richardson has gone from unnamed "comic book guy" to a major player in Hollywood. Look for the story in Sunday's Gazette in the Life section.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The next best thing to being there

The San Diego Comic-Con International gets under way in earnest tomorrow and, alas, I won't be there. But Bargain Comics' Mike Coco and I were talking about the fact that with all the Web sites offering reports and feeds from San Diego this year, it's almost like being there - minus the enormous crowds and $8 hotdogs. I'll be keeping an eye on Newsarama, Comic Book Resources and Entertainment Weekly. Some interesting news already coming out of the convention, such as a deal between Boom Studios and Disney/Pixar for comics stemming from "The Incredibles" and other Pixax movies.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Who will watch "Watchmen?"

Comic fans checking out "The Dark Knight" will get a thrill even before the movie comes on screen, with a trailer for "Watchmen," based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. The "Watchmen" movie is also this week's cover story in Entertainment Weekly, part of a package devoted to the San Diego Comic-Con International. Director Zack Snyder certainly seems devoted to a faithful adaptation. EW, though, calls it "the riskiest superhero movie ever," with a relatively little-known cast and a source that, while revered by comic book fans and hailed by critics outside of comic book circles, is probably not known to the average person.

Monday, July 21, 2008

"The Dark Knight" delivers

Yes, it is that good - and that dark.

And yes, Heath Ledger deserves an Oscar nomination.

I saw "The Dark Knight" Sunday afternoon on Imax, the big, big screen. And while I'm not yet ready to join those proclaiming it as the greatest superhero movie of all time, it is fantastic.

It starts with an action-filled sequence and rarely lets go. There was only a time or two during the 2 1/2 hours that I found myself looking at my watch. Ledger truly is compelling as the Joker; you can't take your eyes off him when he's onscreen. But everyone else does a fine job, as well.

It reminded me - but only in one way, really - of Tim Burton's second Batman movie, "Batman Returns," with featured both Penguin and Catwoman. Just as "The Dark Knight" boasts both the Joker and Two Face. In each case, there's the risk of Batman playing second fiddle to the bad guys. But "The Dark Knight" is still Batman's story as he struggles with how far he should go in his war on crime. Some moviegoers, though, may be surprised to find out it is also Harvey Dent's story, who serves as Gotham's White Knight to Batman's Dark Knight.

The action sequences really are pulse-pounding, but the emotional undercurrents are never forgotten. And while I read some reviews that suggested there's no humor at all to lighten the darkness just a bit, that isn't true. It is serious stuff, though.
Early numbers put the weekend box office at about $155 million, fueling Hollywood's biggest weekend ever.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bad, Barbie, bad

Newsarama earlier this week reported on a controversy involving Mattel's upcoming Black Canary Barbie doll, and today has an interview with artist Amanda Conner, who designed the Canary outfit for DC's "Birds of Prey." Seems a British religious group has slammed the Black Canary doll - dressed in motorcycle jacket and fishnet stockings - as "filth." The doll is part of a fall line that will feature other DC heroines as well, including Batgirl and Supergirl.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Goobye, again, to Martian Manhunter

Since I was out of town last week, I had two weeks of comics to pick up at Bargain Comics yesterday. At the top of my reading pile when I got home was "Secret Invasion" No. 4. I found it kind of disappointing. The idea, it seems, was to provide an overview of the Skrull invasion and show how, in the Skrulls' eyes, anyway, the war is already over. My problem is that not much happened.

I was more struck by "Final Crisis: Requiem," in which DC's heroes, and we readers, got a chance to say goodbye to J'onn J'onnz, the Martian Manhunter. The story by Peter Tomasi was pretty heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting. I wasn't prepared for the expanded scene of the Manhunter's death (he was killed in one panel in "Final Crisis" No. 1). It was good, I guess, to see that J'onn fought to the end, but it was grim, bloody and tough to read.

"The Dark Knight" dazzles

Well, the first showing of "The Dark Knight" is just hours away, and the excitement seems to be building to incredible levels, spurred by some totally rave reviews.

Count The Gazette's Brandon Fibbs as among those dazzled by the film.

The most eagerly anticipated popcorn blockbuster of the summer is, in fact, one of the greatest crime epics ever made," he writes in his review.

It's a dark movie, he warns, but not a dull one. "It is a pulse pounding, adrenaline fueled, exhilarating experience."

Look for the entire review in Friday's Go!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Box office kings

Superheroes continue to rule in movie theaters. "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" was No. 1 at the box office during the weekend, raking in nearly $36 million. At No. 2 was "Hancock," with roughly $33 million.

Next weekend, it's a safe bet that Batman will take the crown with "The Dark Knight." I saw a couple of rave reviews on the wires today, with both commenting that this is the darkest and most grown-up Bat movie yet.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Stan Lee's new book

Still in Santa Monica. If I had been here last week, I could have been among the crowd to line up outside the Santa Monica Public Library to meet Stan "The Man" Lee. The legendary Marvel Comics creator was at the library to sign copies of his new book. It's not a comic book project this time, but a photo book, with Stan's goofy captions accompanying photos of Barack Obama, John McCain, Hillary Clinton and others.

"If you're a fan of mine, you have to have a sense of humor," Stan told the Santa Monica Daily Press.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Breakfast with Batman

We interrupt this vacation with this important Bat announcement. ...

So I'm on vacation in Santa Monica this week. This morning I sat 3 feet or so from Batman himself. No, not Christian Bale, but Michael Keaton, from Tim Burton's "Batman." He was having breakfast at Amelia's, the cafe next to our motel here on Main Street.

One of my first stops here, of course, was Hi De Ho Comics on Santa Monica Blvd. Not the nicest comic book shop I've been in, but filled to the rafters with cool stuff, and lots and lots of wooden boxes with back issues.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Oscar nominee?

Oscar buzz is already surrounding the late Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker in "The Dark Knight." Actor Gary Oldman (James Gordon in the movie) tells David Germain of The Associated Press: “Whatever Heath channeled into, he’s found something quite extraordinary. It’s arguably one of the greatest screen villains I think I’ve ever seen.”

Look for the entire AP story in Sunday's Life section. While you're reading, I'll be jetting off to California. And I won't be near a computer probably, so this blog will likely go dark for the next week and a half.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

"Fantastic Four: True Story"

I heard back today from Paul Cornell, writer of the upcoming "Fantastic Four: True Story." Since he lives in the U.K., I went the e-mail interview route instead of by phone.

The Marvel miniseries finds the FF interacting with figures from classic literature. But it's not a dry "Fantastic Four meets Classics Illustrated," Cornell assures.

"If you're after audacious fun on a widescreen, with a love of the FF and a love of fiction, give this a go," he wrote. "It gets quite grim and gritty as we go, but there's always a joy to it, I think."

More on "True Story" in a future Comics Fan.