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Thursday, August 28, 2008

"Last Will and Testament"

A pretty good stack of comics yesterday from Bargain Comics. At the top of my pile: "DC Universe: Last Will and Testament," with novelist Brad Meltzer checking in on various corners of the DC Universe before an against-the-odds battle.

That battle presumably is the one being waged in "Final Crisis," though, interestingly, there's no "Final Crisis" logo on the cover. As such, it's kind of perplexing as to where this fits into "Final Crisis." "Last Will" features Batman, for example, and he was taken prisoner early in "Final Crisis" before anyone even knew a crisis existed. Disparities with Superman, Green Lantern and others are also evident. Just as with "Countdown to Final Crisis," there doesn't seem to be any editorial hand smoothing out the wrinkles.

If you can get past all that, though, there are a lot of nice character bits throughout. The main story covers Geo-Force's vendetta against Deadshot, and while I've never really paid attention to Geo-Force, Meltzer made me care.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Another one bites the dust?

Virgin Comics no more? That seems to be the case, according to a report by Publishers Weekly. Virgin confirms a closing of its New York offices, with a planned move to Los Angeles as it restructures and concentrates on "core activities." Guess the question is what those core activities are.

Friday, August 22, 2008

"Smallville," season eight

I talked yesterday afternoon with Kelly Souders, one of four "Smallville" executive producers who are in charge of the show now that creators Al Gough and Miles Millar are gone. "Smallville" heads into its eighth season next month and some reports have said it will be the last season. Souders, though, says that's premature. "We are doing our best, everyone's working really hard, in hopes that it isn't the last season," she says.

Souders and her fellow showrunners have their work cut out for them, though, what with Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor) and Kristin Kreuk (Lana Lang) gone from the cast. (Though Kristin will be back for a handful of episodes at some point.) To help fill the void, Justin Hartley will be back as a regular in his role as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow.

"He's just fascinating to play against Clark," Souders says. Clark is super-powered; Oliver isn't. And they have some very different attitudes on crimefighting. Remind anyone of the Superman-Batman relationship?

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

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"Legion of 3 Worlds"

As a longtime Legion of Super-Heroes fan, I was eager to pick up this week's first issue of "Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds." The issue was spent mostly setting up the miniseries, bringing the tormented Superboy Prime (or is that Superman Prime?) to the future, having the Legion call on Superman and assembling the bad guys (an expanded Legion of Super-Villains) and the good (the Legion of Super-Heroes of three parallel worlds, as promised in the title.) The three Legions have all been part of continuity and, even though I've kind of lost track of all the changes over the years, it will still be interesting to watch them interact. Fine art by George Perez and Scott Koblish, and some fun retro moments from writer Geoff Johns.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Watchmen" running time

Well, that's just silly. Newsarama reports that a group of fans calling themselves the Minutemen have started an online petition to "respectfully demand" that Warner Bros. allow a three-hour running time for its upcoming "Watchmen." The argument is that the multilayered story needs such time, and fans worry that Warner Bros. is pressuring director Zack Snyder to trim the current running time of 2 hours, 50 minutes.

Since the fans haven't, like, actually seen the whole film, I don't know how anybody other than Snyder and his team can know how long the film should be so that it is coherent and faithful to the classic comics work by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. For studio execs worried that a long running time might deter moviegoers, though, Newsarama does point out that "Titanic," the top grossing movie of all time, ran about 3 1/2 hours. But then, "Titanic" wasn't an R-rated movie based on a revered-to-fans but obscure-to-many graphic novel.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Alfred, we hardly knew you!

DC Comics posted its solicitations for November today. There'll be two issues of "Batman" that month: a special story narrated by faithful butler Alfred "in his last hours." Does that mean Alfred's one of the victims of the current "Batman R.I.P." story? Sounds like it, though I suppose this tale could be set in the future, with Alfred looking back.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bad times for Bats

Got to the comic book store a day late this week. Top of my reading pile: "Batman" No. 679, the latest chapter in Grant Morrison's "Batman R.I.P" story line, and issue No. 5 of Marvel's "Secret Invasion."

I'm totally caught up in "Batman R.I.P," a dark, feverish nightmare of a story that finds Batman totally wacked out, Nightwing held in Arkham Asylum, Alfred being clubbed every issue by the bad guys and Commissioner Gordon facing deadly danger. I have NO idea where this is headed. (Only down side is that folks trying to get into the comics after seeing "The Dark Knight" are going to be SOOO lost.)

"Secret Invasion" moved along this issue after sort of treading water, I thought, last time. At least the good guys are finally making their push. I agree with readers who are complaining that some key role by Captain America and Thor was set up by the last page of last issue, but not followed up on at all this time. What's up with that?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"The Last Days of Krypton" in paperback

The latest issue of Anderzone, which keeps readers informed on the doings of local writer Kevin J. Anderson, reports that his "The Last Days of Krypton" will be released in paperback on Aug. 26. The book has a new "lenticular" cover that apparently gives it a cool 3-D look. Anderson, meanwhile, has delivered the final manuscript for "Batman/Superman: First Encounter." Look for that book next May.

Monday, August 11, 2008

"Dark Knight" rules box office again

The final box office numbers are in for the weekend. "The Dark Knight" occupied the No. 1 spot for the fourth straight weekend, raking in $26.1 million and boosting the film's domestic gross $441.6 million, The Associated Press reports. That means "The Dark Knight" is behind only "Titanic" and the original "Star Wars" in terms of the all-time domestic box office charts.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Teen comics club forming

Interested in getting a comic-book club up and running? An informational meeting on forming a comics club for teens is planned for 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Teen Center at the East Library.

The goal of the first meeting is to get an idea of what teens would like out of such a club, said Kristen Baldwin, teen services librarian with the Pikes Peak Library District. Her vision, though, is to have some kind of comics-related program each month, likely on Saturdays and perhaps moving from branch to branch. For more information, e-mail kbaldwin@ppld.org

Thursday, August 07, 2008

"Final Crisis" No. 3

"Final Crisis" No. 3 arrived yesterday. As always, writer Grant Morrison is brimming with ideas, many of them riveting. But the book continues to be kind of choppy. I frankly didn't understand much of what was going on in the first half. One thing was clear by the end of issue No. 3, though: Things are grim, grim, grim in the DCU, with Martian Manhunter dead, Batman held captive, Superman almost losing Lois, Green Lantern being hauled away, Wonder Woman transformed into ... I don't know what, but it's not pretty.

"Final Crisis" has been billed as the day evil won, and that day has arrived. What's interesting is that in both "Final Crisis" and "Secret Invasion," Marvel's rival major event, the heroes appear to have lost the war before it even began, thanks to planning by the dark gods in "Final Crisis" and the Skrulls in "Secret Invasion." I'm following "Secret Invasion" a lot easier, but I'm probably more on the edge of my seat with "Crisis."

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Marvel money

Marvel Entertainment reported its second-quarter earnings today. Though it said its profit was up 61 percent compared to the second quarter of last year, that was still below analysts' expectations. While the figures included "pre-sales" of the movies "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk," they didn't include actual revenue from success at the box office. Earnings from the publishing sector were down a bit; Marvel attributed that to the big success in the second quarter of 2007 of items such as "The Death of Captain America" and "Civil War" trade paperbacks. It also noted, though, the "rising costs for talent and paper."

Monday, August 04, 2008

"Ex Machina Deluxe Edition"

I hid inside from the heat during the weekend and read. I was going to start Brad Meltzer's "The Book of Lies," but instead turned to "Ex Machina Deluxe Edition," a hardcover collection of the first 11 issues of WildStorm's "Ex Machina." (Interestingly, it has an introduction by ... Brad Meltzer!)

"Ex Machina" is written by Brian K. Vaughan ("Y: The Last Man") and is a compelling, adult mix of big-city politics and superheroics. (It's about a superhero turned mayor, and no, it's not Green Arrow.) I had read the first few issues before, but it was a pleasure to revisit them. The art, by Tony Harris, is wonderful, with his characters distinctly rendered and vividly coming to life.