Monday, June 30, 2008

Review: Wanted

When Mark Millar wrote Wanted in 2003, his idea was to create a world where supervillains were the anti-heroes. Wesley Gibson was a nod to Keanu Reeve's Thomas A. Anderson from The Matrix trilogy in that he lived a relatively unnoticed life where he was constantly walked on by everyone. Gibson learns that he has an assassin's blood in him when he finds out his father died and he is approached by Fox, another assassin that invites him to join the Fraternity. Here he is desensitized to violence and pain and taught to harness and control his keen assassin skills, which he eventually uses to take over the fraternity (wiping out most of them in the process). Fast forward five years to 2008, and we have Timur Bekmambetov's (of Daywatch and Nightwatch fame) take on the Millar series of anti-heroes. While not quite a strict following of the comic predecessor, Wanted the film does have some of the nods to the comic that I'm sure fans will love, but overall it was really just another Hollywood film using an already recognized name to sell a movie. The film starts off enough like the comic, and that Gibson (James McAvoy) works at a crappy job while his girlfriend stays home and is cheating on him with his best friend (who takes daily extended coffee breaks to do so). His life is pretty non-descript until one night when he's at the pharmacy getting a prescription filed for his anxiety medicine to combat what he thinks are panic attacks (more on that later). And then he meets Fox (Angelina Jolie), who is there to save him from the same assassin that recently killed his father. From there its one assassination after another, as Gibson is trained to become the true assassin that he is. The film gradually becomes less comic-inspired as it progresses, as you realize that Bekmambetov loosely based this film on the comic. He decided that the Fraternity would instead originally be weavers that noticed that one particular loom of theirs would misweave some pieces of cloth, which somehow could translate to binary code, and eventually to the alphabet to name your target. Also, this time around we were looking at assassins (not supervillains) as the protagonists, who I suppose have more a viable case for being called "heroes" than supervillains do. McAvoy was convincing enough as Gibson, but I guess being in Atonement right before this kept that mousy character fresh in his head. Angelina Jolie is there for sex appeal more than anything, as she essentially played the same role she plays in Tomb Raider and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the hot badass chick. Common is severely underutilized as the Gunsmith, and Morgan Freeman somewhat unsuccessfully tries to pull off being a bad guy in Sloan (that's the problem when guys like him and Harrison Ford in What Lies Beneath try to play bad guys...it seems kind of forced). For an assassin movie, Bekmambetov did infuse the film with some pretty intense action sequences of violence (cue the "R" rating) that were obviously Matrix-inspired. Pretty much every death was bullet or knife related, however the effect of curving the bullet was somewhat novel. There's a particularly awesome scene when Gibson storms the castle so to speak and singlehandedly lays waste to all the assassins...it's pretty badass. Storywise, its pretty plain, with something that tries to be a twist at the end, but if you're paying attention over the course of the movie you can kind of see it coming. And of course there's the epic symbolism at the end as Gibson tries to maneuver his way through fallen and tangled threads as a result of the looms in the textile factory becoming a disjointed mess (what a tangled web we weave). Overall, it wasn't an awful movie, but it also wasn't great either. It was only loosely based on the comic, so true fans of the Millar six-issue miniseries may be disappointed. But for moviegoers looking for an ultra-violent assassin movie and nothing more, than Wanted is exactly what you're looking for. But you could probably wait until the DVD release to check it out. Overall review: 65 out of 100

Rose McGowan playing Red Sonja

So file this one away in the "didn't see it coming" department. Apparently, Rose McGowan wrote a script for a new Red Sonja movie. And not content with filing it away underneath her bed, she decided to approach her beau Robert Rodriguez with it. And Rodriguez thought it would be a great idea to make it a movie with a 2010 release date, according to USA Today. "I was surprised when Rose brought me a script of Red Sonja that she liked," Rodriguez says from his home base of Austin. "I found it very entertaining. Sonja was strong, smart, cunning — just about everything she'd have to be to survive." And McGowan's take? "I do have a very scrappy-do personality," says McGowan, who will undergo intense training before filming starts in October. "I lean toward physicality. The story has characters trashed by life who fight their way back. That is my theme." The film will be an origin story, focusing on the comics and and the original works for Robert E. Howard. Rose McGowan is new Red Sonja

MySpace Dark Horse Presents Turns 1!

The whole web 2.0 phenomenon has really revolutionized everything (and without it this blog wouldn't have been born). Dark Horse noticed this trend exactly one year ago with the ever-growing MySpace Dark Horse Presents gaining more and more momentum. And to celebrate the birthday, Dark Horse will be presenting special comics from Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba, as well Joss Whedon and Tara MacPherson. The full press release is below, so do yourself a favor and read it, and then head on over to MySpace Dark Horse Presents.

MySpace Dark Horse Presents turns one year old!

One year ago, Dark Horse partnered with premier social networking site, MySpace, to make publishing history by relaunching the company’s flagship anthology title, Dark Horse Presents. To celebrate the anniversary we return with some of the key players who helped launch the series online.

Gerard Way and Gabriel Bä take their smash hit The Umbrella Academy in a new direction, with a short story delving into the team's teen years, when Vanya and The Kraken kicked out the jams in their punk band, The Prime-8’s. Last year’s MDHP #1 saw the debut of Joss Whedon’s Eisner-nominated feature “Sugarshock.” One year later, Joss returns along with his brother Zack with an exclusive comics tie in to Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog, their much talked about series of upcoming musical webisodes. This eight page feature introduces the world to Captain Hammer, Dr. Horrible’s squeaky clean arch enemy. And celebrated low-brow artist Tara McPherson joins the fold with a hauntingly beautiful tale, “How to Heal a Broken Heart.

Each month a newcomer to the comics industry, a previously unpublished writer or artist, debuts on MDHP. Issue #12 features artist Steven Young, who teams with John Arcudi (B.P.R.D.) in a western tale full of subtlety, horror, and intrigue.

“Ever since the original DHP was canceled, I've been trying to bring it back, because I love anthologies, love the absolute liberty it gives you to try new things” says editor Scott Allie. “Hellboy Weird Tales was an attempt to rekindle that, The Dark Horse Books of Hauntings, etc., was also an attempt, but MDHP is the real thing. It gives us the flexibility to jazz around as much as we want to.” He continued, “with the sorts of creators we're working with these days, it's essential to have a place to do this. And with so many amazing people showing their stuff off online, it's great to know that there's something to throw their way as well.”

MySpace Dark Horse Presents is a free online anthology that provides fresh content the first Wednesday of every month, with stories archived so that it's never too late to join in and catch up. To find out more, check out:

www.myspace.com/darkhorsepresents

About MySpace.com
MySpace, a unit of Fox Interactive Media Inc., is the premier lifestyle portal for connecting with friends, discovering popular culture, and making a positive impact on the world. By integrating web profiles, blogs, instant messaging, e-mail, music streaming, music videos, photo galleries, classified listings, events, groups, college communities, and member forums, MySpace has created a connected community. As the first ranked web domain in terms of page views*, MySpace is the most widely-used and highly regarded site of its kind and is committed to providing the highest quality member experience.
MySpace will continue to innovate with new features that allow its members to express their creativity and share their lives, both online and off. MySpace’s international network includes localized community sites in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Germany, Australia, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Austria, and Latin America.

*Among the top 2000 domains comScore Media Metrix, June 2007. For more information on comScore Networks, please go to http://www.comscore.com.

About Dark Horse Comics:

Since 1986, Dark Horse Comics has proven to be a solid example of how integrity and innovation can help broaden a unique storytelling medium and establish a small, homegrown company as an industry giant. The company is known for the progressive and creator friendly atmosphere it provides for writers and artists. In addition to publishing comics from top talent like Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, Neil Gaiman, Gerard Way and comics legend Will Eisner, Dark Horse has developed such successful characters as The Mask, Timecop, and SpyBoy. Additionally, their highly successful line of comics and products based on popular properties includes Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Aliens, Conan, Emily the Strange, Tim Burton, Trigun, and Serenity. Today Dark Horse Comics is the third largest comic-book publisher in the U.S. and is recognized as one of the world's leading publisher of licensed comics material.

Rest in Peace Michael Turner

I was primed and ready to start giving you recaps of Wizard World Chicago despite having not attended it (those will show up throughout the week) until I learned of the passing of one of comic's young greats. Michael Turner lost a battle with cancer on Saturday at the extremely young age of 37. Turner was discovered by Marc Silvestri in 1998 and co-created Witchblade before setting off to create his own studio in Aspen MLT, creating series such as Fathom and Soulfire. And just about every major comic book that was released featured an inevitable Turner variant, variants that will be sorely missed. Omnicomic sends its condolences to the Turner family. You can send condolensces to: Aspent MLT, Inc. C/O Michael Turner 5855 Green Valley Circle Suite 111 Culver City, CA 90230 Online donations can be made to The American Cancer Society or The Make-a-Wish Foundation. Aspen Comics

Friday, June 27, 2008

Preview: Aspen Showcase: Aspen #1

Aspen is another one of those comic studios that you might not have heard of unless you happen to live in Atlantis (or are just really up on comics). Their flagship character is Aspen Matthews who is one of the Blue, a race of underwater people hiding in humanity. And of course Aspen has trouble remembering anything about her past, so the story is about her attempting to live a normal human life without being able to remember anything and not being human. Good times. Aspen Showcase: Aspen #1 is a special one-shot featuring the art of Talent Caldwell and writing styles of C. B. Cebulski that navigates readers through Aspen's high school reunion and the discovery of some lost memories. And some of those memories just so happen to be special. Awwww! You can pick it up at the Aspen Online Store or most likely in your local comic book haunt for $2.99. Preview: Aspen Showcase: Aspen #1

Josh Duhamel spills the beans on Transformers 2 (a little)

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen is hitting full production mode. So naturally we'll start seeing interviews in the press with more and more details leaking out about the movie. Even if the leak is cryptic. Empire recently stopped Josh Duhamel on the set of When In Rome, and of course talk arose of the Michael Bay sequel. Empire asked what was different this time around for Lennox in the movie, and his answer was somewhat intriguing. “I guess who he’s working with is probably the biggest change,” said Duhamel, before adding once more, presumably for emphasis. “Who he’s working with." Now, you can take that any way you want it. But considering the title has "fallen" in it you can bet that one or more Decepticons will be coming back (Megatron) either voluntarily or involuntarily and will be helping the Autobots fight a greater evil. My two cents? Either Starscream gets super powerful, as him vs. Megatron was always a great side story within the Decepticons, or we're going to see Unicron attempting to devour the universe, requiring the Autobots to team up with the Decepticons. I'm going to assume that they'll be fighting Starscream, since that fight is a little more budget friendly as opposed to a massive Unicron Transformers fight. Plus they have to keep it on Earth to involve Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson, so we'll see. Duhamel talks Transformers 2

30 Game Inspired Comics

Pop culture is full of merchandising. Nowadays, its mostly evident in the case of movies, as the studios feel the need to market the hell out of any successful movie (and then of course make what was supposed to be one movie a trilogy...but I digress). Often one of those merchandising opportunities is the game of the movie, which rarely works out well. So usually when games are involved in merchandising things don't work well, but did you know there are quite a few comics inspired by some great games? You didn't? Well then, let me enlighten you. MTV Multiplayer has a list of 30 games that inspired comics. Some of them you probably know about, such as Tomb Raider, Dead Space (of course) and Halo. But did you know that there was a comic called The Atari Force? And Mega Man? Were all of them good? Who knows. But what I do know is that if you like the game there's a chance you'll like the game-inspired comics that were created by them. So check out the list, and get the best of both worlds in combining comics and video games. 30 Game Inspired Comics

Christopher Nolan on The Dark Knight

Wired is a great website for everything techie. I try to visit it on a regular basis, as many times there are really great articles up there. A recent article talks about Christopher Nolan's approach to filming The Dark Knight, and its an awesome read. Nolan is one of the first directors to use IMAX for a feature-film, and insists on making his films as real as possible, which means less special effects and more special people. The relatively minimalistic approach to filmmaking is seemingly novel in this day and age of ILM, but Nolan insists on it for movie purity. "Anything you notice as technology reminds you that you're in a movie theater," Nolan explains. "Even if you're trying to portray something fantastical and otherworldly, it's always about trying to achieve invisible manipulation." Especially, he adds, with Batman, "the most real of all the superheroes, who has no superpowers." The article is really a great read, and I would definitely check it out. And just remember, we're three weeks away from the release of The Dark Knight, hitting theaters and IMAX July 18. Christopher Nolan on The Dark Knight

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Preview: Uncanny X-Men #500

Holy shit. 500 issues is quite the milestone. Uncanny X-Men #500 features the X-Men in their new home of San Francisco in a new headquarters. And what would the 500th issue of Uncanny X-Men be without Sentinels AND Magneto AND the Master Mold? Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction are the kickass writing team behind this epic issue while Greg Land, Terry Dodson and Justin Ponsor provide the art duties. And there tons of variant covers to add to your collection. Terry Dodson (50/50 variant), Greg Land (50/50 variant), Micheal Turner and Alex Ross each provide their own takes on the epic event. Uncanny X-Men #500 hits stores July 23 for $3.99. Preview: Uncanny X-Men #500

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe at Comic-Con

If you've read my site, you know that I have my doubts about Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Actually, I think everyone has their doubts (except of course the folks at Midway and DC). Anyhoo, Kotaku has some news that may assuage fears about the game. A Comic-Con panel called "World's Collide: The Making of Midway's Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe" will highlight the crossover between two of the most unlikely universes. Mortal Kombat creator Ed Boon and DC Comics collaborator Jimmy Palmiotti will show off never-before-seen gameplay as well as "unveiling new key characters." And there will be free posters! Gotta love Comic-Con schwag. I still think this game is going to be a trainwreck, but hey, what do I know. Comic-Con panel on DC vs. MK

Marvel movie summary

So between Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, comic fans are abuzz with which heroes are going to get the big screen treatment next. Is it going to be Captain America? Ant-man? Will Iron Man get a sequel next? So many questions to answer... Thankfully, USA Today has a nice tidy recap of the films in the pipeline, who's writing them and the origin behind those characters. Thor is being written by Marl Protosevich (I Am Legend) and is set to be released June 4, 2010. Ant-man will be written by Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish and directed by Edgar Wright, with no release date yet established. Yes kids, its the same Edgar Wright who wrote Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Captain America doesn't have a writer or director as yet, but it has a release date of May 6, 2011 (three years!). Nick Fury will not be in his own movie, but will obviously be in the Avengers movie due out in summer 2011. There have been no actors cast for any of the roles, however there is speculation as to who will play each part. Nothing is concrete just yet, so don't get your hopes up about who's playing who. But now we have a somewhat tentative timeline for the upcoming Marvel films, assuming that Iron Man 2 will still be on track for an April 2010 release. Marvel movies summary

Preview: Beyond #2

The Virgin Comics previewing parade continues! Below is the press release straight from the Virgin's mouth, as well as seven pages of preview from the comic. The first issue of Beyond was a critical and commercial success, so much so that stores have been selling out across the country. To meet the demand, we posted the entire first issue on our MySpace page, where you can also view the Beyond trailer). The thrilling story about a woman gone missing in India and her family's desperate search to find her continues as they encounter doors to alternate dimensions, weapons that appear out of thin air, a comic book that predicts future events, and a man who seems to have some answers but happens to be a knife-wielding lunatic. You don't want to miss this incredible series based on an original science fiction story by Deepak Chopra and adapted by Ron Marz (Witchblade, Green Lantern).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

As in, “Fallen”: I’m a big fan of the fine art of “comic revamp”, in which one or more characters or concepts which seemed appealing and sensible back in the 1950’s get picked up off the shelf, dusted off, and given new life. Of course, a revamp sometimes fails miserably and leaves very, very angry comic book fans screaming about the abomination that you’ve brought forth onto their favorite books. In addition, unwriting revamps takes some very, very clever writing (or some very not-so clever writing, at times, as well- i.e. the Spider-man clone saga. Ouch.). But once in a while, it’s done right. I’d like to demonstrate my point with Warren here. Way back when, I used to think Angel was the lamest superhero ever. And that’s saying something, because Marvel held onto some really lame superheroes on occasion. But a guy who had wings just didn’t interest me- why would he? Plenty of other superheroes had the ability to fly and they really didn’t need aviary-protrusions jutting out of their back to do it. Why have him as an X-Man at all? I mean, it was interesting that he was a founding member and all- but compared to the modern-day X-Men (okay, which at the time was the 1980’s X-Men headed up by Storm and with Wolverine, Colossus, and Nightcrawler) he just didn’t seem to have a lot to contribute. And then? He started going through some serious shit. Like, terrible. He started to make the other X-Men’s lives look like a walk through the park. For starters, he and the rest of the original X-Men had the misfortune of going up against Mr. Sinister’s mutant-hunting Marauders. Back in the day, the Marauders were bad, bad people that you didn’t want to screw with if you didn’t have to. All of there powers were geared towards killing other people in one form or another. Watching the X-Men consistently outwit and overpower Mystique’s Brotherhood looked campy in comparison to seeing them have it out with these trained killers. Most of the Marauders have met their grisly ends by now (usually as a result of their own powers backfiring on them) but that hasn’t stopped Sinister from cloning them. I know. Gross. Anyway, the short story is that one such Marauder, Harpoon, could “charge” objects, kind of like Gambit. As his name implies, his choice of weapons included spears and the like. Harpoon impaled both of Warren’s wings against the wall with two tridents while he and his teammates were trying to stop the Marauders from massacring the Morlocks (mutants who live in New York’s sewers). He barely survived and his wings were mangled. Now, in a really twisted moment of betrayal, Warren’s long time “friend” Cameron Hodge ordered that he have his wings amputated in order to “save” Warren. Hodge was one sick, sick puppy and I think he’d actually be a great candidate for an X-Men movie villain. Hodge was always secretly jealous at Warren’s seemingly charmed life- after all, Warren was rich, had superpowers, and tended to date incredibly hot women (see below). But not only that, Hodge was like the narrow-minded dictator of the Marvel Universe- he was out to wipe Mutantkind off the face of the planet. He had convinced Warren to use his own money to track down and “help” mutants. What Warren didn’t know was that Hodge was doing all sorts of horrendous stuff to the mutants that he and his teammates brought in. Finally, Hodge had Warren killed in a jet liner explosion and framed the whole thing to his teammates as a suicide. Like I said. Sick, sick puppy. But also as in, “Of Death”: Whether or not Warren really died or not is a point of debate. Whatever the case, the mother of all X-Men bad guys, Apocalypse, got his hands on him and resurrected- or at least remade- him. Calling him “Death”, Apocalypse gave Warren new razor-sharp metallic wings that could project paralyzing darts on command. “Death” also had pale-blue corpse-color skin, to add to the creep-out effect. Eventually, Warren snapped out of Apocalypse’s brainwashing and rejoined his teammates- but he was definitely changed. After the whole mess got cleared up, he learned that Hodge had kidnapped and killed his long time girlfriend Candy Southern. In a not-so-Warren-anymore moment, Archangel decapitated Hodge with his wings. In a lot of ways, Warren was like the walking dead. He was sullen and withdrawn and his relationships with the people who use to be in his life (what was left of it, at this point) changed a lot. Also, he had this creepy habit of suddenly slipping into trance-like rages in the middle of fights. It would be like bloodthirstiness would overtake him and all of this pseudo-Apocalypse-lingo would start pouring out of his mouth. His teammates usually helped keep him from doing anything he might regret- but after a while, Warren started to realize that his wings had a “mind” of their own. They craved blood and subtly played with his emotions, like a sword begging its owner to use it so it could “eat.” Sometimes, Warren’s accidents seemed like more than just coincidence- I remember this issue where some mutant who was part of Stryfe’s Mutant Liberation Front flew right at Warren. He just turned his body, not even paying attention to the guy rocketing towards him from behind- one of his wings took the mutant’s head clean off. Was stuff like that just an accident, or the wings actually acting of their own accord? You had to wonder… Interestingly, some of Warren’s worst episodes used to happen when he got around Wolverine. The two had never really gotten along- but when things got tense between the old team and the new(er) team of X-Men during Inferno for example, Wolverine went berserk after smelling something “not right” in Warren’s scent. It was like they were two agitated animals whenever they got around each other. Recently, the man has been going through some changes. A few years back, Sabretooth smashed his wings pretty bad- and surprisingly, his old feathery wing set grew back underneath his wounded metal ones, shattering them open. He even got his old, original skin tone back- these changes were due to Warren’s “secondary mutation”, kind of like Emma Frost’s diamond-form-thing. In his case, he’s got a healing factor AND his blood actually has healing properties when it’s mixed with other’s bloods. However, he had a cameo in the newest incarnation of X-Force and has wound up with metal wings and blue skin (the how and why of this hasn’t been written at this time, I believe. They better have a good reason dreamed up for this one). Most Eligible Bachelor: Warren Worthington has dated some hot women in the Marvel Universe. Seriously. While his love life has been a little on the tragic side, his hit-list rivals Tony Stark. Among his love interests are: Jean Grey: Okay, they never dated. But originally, Warren was introduced as a potential rival to Scott Summers. He even seemed more of a natural leader than Scott did in the early pages of the X-Men. Jean still leans on Warren for support, here and there. If Scott and Logan were ripped off the face of the planet, you can be pretty sure that Warren and Jean would be a hot item. In fact, at one point, Warren’s girlfriend Candy thought Jean and Warren were having an affair and ended her relationship with the guy. So you see my point. Candice “Candy” Southern: Warren’s now deceased long-time love interest. Candy basically had a smattering of jobs in big business, and at one point became the C.E.O. of the Worthington family business herself. She even acted (briefly) as the unofficial leader of the Defenders (of which Angel was a member of and has got to be in the top five weirdest super-hero teams ever). I give the man bonus points here for fulfilling my adolescent fantasy of dating a woman who goes by the name “Candy." Elizabeth “Psylocke” Braddock: Hot telepathic ninja. Enough said. Paige “Husk” Guthrie: Somewhat controversial, Warren has been shacking up with Cannonball’s younger sister. I’m a little bummed she didn’t end up with Chamber from Generation X- but I admit that having a relationship with a guy who has had half of his body ripped open might have been difficult. Suggested Reading: Mutant Massacre (Features the original X-Factor, the X-Men, Power Pack, and even Thor, going up against the Marauders) The Fall of the Mutants (The X-Men, X-Factor, and the New Mutants get curb-stomped by tons of villains and Apocalypse remakes our hero into “Death”) X-Tinction Agenda (Hodge comes back as a creepy cyborg, with- I swear- JUST HIS HEAD attached to this techno-arachnid body. This story is BRUTAL. Archangel and Wolverine get put into this semi-gladitorial arena to fight, at one point) X-cutioners Song (The X-Men have to team-up with Archangel “father” Apocalypse in order to save Xavier and fight Stryfe) World War Hulk: Hercules (Warren and Hercules go way back- in fact, they were part of a super-hero team named the “Champions”, who rival the Defenders in weirdness)

Th3rd World Publishers

Its hard to find comics that aren't produced by Marvel or DC. Not that that's bad thing, because Marvel and DC put out some damn fine comics. However, when you find those supposed indie publishers its a breath of fresh air. Th3rd World Studios is one of those publishers. Over on their website, they have three exclusive web comics: Eskimo Dave, SuperFogeys by Brock Heasley and Omega Chase. The first debuts a new comic on the MySpace page, while the latter two are displayed as comic strips on the actual site. Its a great chance to check out some comics that you might not have heard of, as well as adding another publisher to your comic book repertoire. Th3rd World Studios

Ladies of The Spirit

We're slowly getting into full promotional mode for Will Eisner's The Spirit. Four promo posters have been released featuring the requisite femme fatales with that Frank Miller twist on them, and boy do they look hot. Above is the lovely Scarlett Johansson as Silken Floss, accomplice to the Ocotopus. Below are Jaime King as Lorelai Rox, Sarah Paulson as Dr. Ellen Dolan (police commissioner's daughter) and of course, Eva Mendes as Sand Saref, the master of espionage. Frank Miller has a certain style within his films, so I don't doubt that The Spirit will be good. The bigger thing I'm worried about is whether or not if will be enough of a commercial success to be deemed a "success." Will Eisner created The Spirit before really any of the major (and traditional) superheroes began to take hold of popular culture, so a lot of people may not be as familiar with the character. I think its a great character and story, and hopefully enough people will spread good words about the film to get people seeing it. The Spirit hits theaters December 25, 2008.

Preview: Witchblade/Devi #2

Witchblade/Devi #2 completes the mini-arc featuring Top Cow's best known character in Witchblade, in addition to Virgin Comics' own Devi. Below is the mini-press release for the issue, as well as five preview pages. Enjoy! Continuing the epic Virgin Comics/Top Cow crossover event, we're proud to unleash the spectacular conclusion of the first-ever meeting between Sara Pezzini, wielder of the Witchblade, and Tara Mehta, human host for the goddess Devi. On the trail of a murderer in Sitapur, India, our heroines join forces to take down a predator who has spent centuries plotting his revenge. Featuring the art of Russ Manning nominee and Virgin Comics superstar Mukesh Singh (Jenna Jameson's Shadow Hunter, Guy Ritchie's Gamekeeper).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New Arrivals: June 25, 2008

The pick of the week this week comes to us from Image Comics: Vix #1. Vix is the story of that adorable girl next door that parents love and is strangely haunted by horrible flashbacks. Enjoy! New Arrivals: June 25, 2008

Preview: The Vinyl Underground #10

Now you have the chance to follow DJ Morrison as he travels through his past, not realizing that his friends are in danger in a tale that is described as being "HELLBLAZER meets The Mod Squad." Written by Si Spencer and with art by Simon Gane and Ryan Kelly (cover by Sean Phillip), The Vinyl Underground #10 hits stores July 2 for $2.99. Preview: The Vinyl Underground #10

Hancock getting the comic treatment

Hancock looks like its going to be funny. And its Will Smith, so you can't really go wrong with that. And he is a superhero, although his character isn't based on a previously established comic book character. But why should that stop him from getting his own comic book covers? Four comic artists have gotten together to create some special edition Hancock comic book covers that Sony will give away to fans on the official Hancock website. Who are the artists you ask? Neal Adams, Jock, Bill Sienkiewicz and Frank Quitely. IGN has the five special covers (and so humbly admits that they used their clout as IGN to convince Sony to allow them exclusively preview them on IGN) at the below link. The above image is the Neal Adams version, and I ran with that one because Mr. Adams was gracious enough to allow myself and Tedd to interview him at NY Comic Con (not that the other three refused us or anything). Each artist contributed one cover with the exception of Jock, who contributed two covers. IGN previews special Hancock covers

Superman: Man of Steel slated to begin filming in 2009

Quite a few people thought that Superman Returns wasn't so hot. Sure, it did great at the box office, and it wasn't necessarily a bad movie by any standards; just a little too philosophical for a Superman film. So news of the sequel, Man of Steel isn't really being met with the same enthusiasm as the first film. Still though, filming must go on, and according to Brandon Routh that filming will begin early next year. Routh told Hollywood that the script is actively being written and worked on, and Routh's timeline has him beginning filming early next year. He also mentioned that Justice League Confusion is really on the back-burner and doesn't know if its coming or going, so the focus of WB and DC will be on Superman early next year. Superman: Man of Steel slated to begin filming early 2009

Monday, June 23, 2008

Heroes coming back September 22

Mark your calendars kids, because according to IESB it seems that Heroes will premiere its new season September 22. IESB also goes on to mention that the season premiere will most likely be aired at San Diego Comic Con. Says executive producer Tim Kring ''we have to show our wares, and if getting buzz means spoiling some things, I'll take buzz any day.'' So it would seem that Heroes producers realized that the second season wasn't nearly as impactful as they would have liked, and that since its been on a long hiatus, its important to recapture the momentum that the series had when it went off the air. Heroes season to premiere September 22

Spider-man 4 scheduled to hit theaters May 2011?

Spider-man 3 wasn't quite as well received as I'm sure Marvel, Sony or Sam Raimi would have hoped. A lot of people complained that the entire Sandman storyline was really unnecessary, and that it took away from the Venom storyline. So it shouldn't surprise anyone that all parties involved (at least Marvel and Sony) at this point would want the fourth film to be better than the third. According to the LA Times, Marvel and Sony are doing just that. Producer Laura Ziskin tells the times that Spider-man 4 is tentatively scheduled for a May 2011 release date. At this point there is no finalized script, and neither Sam Raimi or Tobey Maguire have officially signed on to do the fourth. So those are some big question marks. Another particularly thorny issue involves licensing for the self-contained look Marvel is now going for. This isn't really related to the release date of Spider-man 4, however it does affect what the movie will include. Both Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk feature references to other heroes in the Marvel Universe, and considering Spider-man lives in NY you would expect some references to S.H.I.E.L.D. or even an appearance by the Fantastic Four. But it boils down to how much leverage Marvel has with the licensing for Spider-man with Sony, and whether or not they can have Sony include some of the other heroes in the Marvel Universe. Spider-man 4 releasing in May 2011?

Thomas Jane Jonah Hex photo debunked

A few days ago the Film School Rejects posted the above photo portraying Thomas Jane in grizzled Jonah Hex form. But they weren't quite sure what the deal was. Had Jane been approached to play the role? Was the film further in development than anyone thought? Turns out it was neither. According to Jane, he just spent a day putting the makeup to send into Warner Brothers, showing them what he would look like as Jonah Hex. "Yeah, the pic is real all right – my pal Akiva Goldsman told me about the project and I fell in love with the idea right away. Being a huge fan of all things Hex – I just couldn’t help myself. I called up my buddy Chris Nelson and we spent a Saturday afternoon working up some make-up for this impromptu shoot and I fired a few pics off to Warners. How do people get a hold of this shit? It’s a little embarrassing seeing my fanboy enthusiasm spilled all over the web, but great scripts don’t come around too often, especially for characters I love." So there you have it kids. All it was was a guy dressing up as one of his favorite characters and sending the photos of to the movie studios. Just so happens that the guy is Thomas Jane, and he's a famous actor. Still though, you've got to hope that WB enjoys the enthusiasm and shortlists him for the Jonah Hex role, but we'll see. Thomas Jane not quite Jonah Hex

The Incredible Hulk redux

I had the chance to see The Incredible Hulk again over the weekend and it got me thinking. What are those Easter eggs that Louis Leterrier refers to that causes such a ruckus on the internets? I did pick up a few more, so I figured it be good to post them in a nice recap summary. I think it goes without saying but some of these include spoilers, so I'd recommend only reading on if you've seen the movie. Easter Egg One: Leader will be the villain in the sequel Fact: When Emil Blonsky goes into see Dr. Samuel Sterns, we see what happens when Bruce Banner's blood mixes with the enhanced Blonsky blood: Abomination is created. When the same Banner blood falls into the cut on Sterns head, we see his head pulsate a bit and enlarge, all the while he has a massive smile on his face. According to Wikipedia, in the comics Stern was created as a result of massive gamma radiation, akin to that which created the Hulk. This exposure had a similar effect in turning Sterns green, however instead of super-strength he got super-intelligence. He also used a self-constructed super army, which could come as a result of the many cloned samples Sterns had in his lab when Banner saw when he got there to be cured. Easter Egg Two: Blonsky was given a blue serum (most likely the Super Soldier Serum) to give him the superhuman strength, speed and reflexes. Fact: The Super Soldier Serum was blue, but that's a little too easy. Fair enough. But how about the fact that the serum was on ice (see next Easter egg)? And did you catch the name on the freezer General Ross pulled it from? You guessed it: Dr. Reinstein. Most likely the same Dr. Josef Reinstein that developed the Super Soldier Serum for Operation: Rebirth, which gave Steve Rogers the chance to enlist and eventually become Captain America. Easter Egg Three: Captain America was "in"the movie, but not in the capacity you're thinking Fact: Tony Stark. That fine suit wearing techhead that makes an obsession with gadgets cool shows up and approaches General Ross with a proposition to deal with the Hulk. The Super Soldier project is referenced, to which Stark replies "Stark put that project on ice long ago." Taken at face value, it really just means that they stopped the project. But, when you factor in some comic book knowledge, there's more to that statement than meets the eye. Captain America had fallen from a drone plane into the North Atlantic. Last I checked, the North Atlantic is pretty damned cold, and it would be convenient if "fallen" was purposeful on the part of Stark Industries to cover up the proejct. If I had to put money on it, I'd bet that either the upcoming Captain America film or Avengers film (most likely Captain America) will open with Tony Stark heading a project to extract him from the ice. Easter Egg Four: Hulk will be the villain in the Avengers film Fact: Hulk was part of the original Avengers (along with Iron Man, Ant-Man, Thor and Wasp). Hulk was rather quickly replaced in The Avengers #4 by...you guessed it: Captain America. Hulk left because he felt that his power and instability worried the team, and it has been a recurring theme in the Avengers comics to contain the Hulk. Afterall, some Avengers (as the Illuminati) made the decision to launch Hulk into space kicking off the Planet Hulk storyline. Most likely the Avengers movie will focus on the Hulk proving to be a threat, and Captain America saving the day by joining the Avengers in his place. So there you go. Four Easter Eggs that may or may not be what I think. But Marvel is getting very keen on making their movies self-contained, so it wouldn't surprise me if all this stuff really were setting up sequels and what not. If there are any Easter Eggs you think I'm missing, feel free to let me know in the comments section.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Jorge Lucas to serve as guest artist on The Darkness

The Darkness is a comic that has had praised heaped upon it, and is actually pretty decent. And now the artwork is going to get even edgier thanks to the addition of Jorge Lucas, more famously known for his art in Ripclaw (from last year's Pilot Season). He will debut in The Darkness #7 in August. “I’m looking forward to working on The Darkness because he is my favorite Top Cow character,” said Lucas, who remembers reading The Darkness issues in Spanish in Argentina, where he still makes his home. “I like the horror genre a lot, and the darker the character, the better. Jackie Estacado is a soul tortured by his demons, a cursed being, and I love this about him.” And Lucas isn't the only happy one, as writer Phil Hester expressed his excitement as well. “Jorge’s art has a dark edge to it that depicts some of the seamier sides of Jackie’s life perfectly,” commented Phil Hester, who writes The Darkness. “It’s a nice thematic shift too, because we’re taking a break from Jackie at the height of his strength as depicted by Michael Broussard’s lush, powerful work and contrasting it with Jackie at a low ebb as depicted by Jorge’s dark, graphic style. It’s a blessing to have both guys at the book’s disposal.” Jorge Lucas guest artist on The Darkness

Hellboy Contest

Hellboy II: The Golden Army hits theaters July 11, and what better way to celebrate its impending arrival than by having a Hellboy contest. Good thing the folks over at Dark Horse are thinking the same thing. And the best part about the contest is that all you have to do is enter by July 9. What are the stakes you ask? Grand Prize (1): - Hellboy: Library Edition Vol. 1 HC: Signed by HB II cast (Guillermo del Toro, Mike Mignola, Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones & Luke Goss) - Hellboy: The Golden Army comic: Signed by HB II cast (Guillermo del Toro, Mike Mignola, Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones & Luke Goss) - Hellboy Vol. 1 - 8 TPB's - Hellboy II: The Art of the Movie TPB - Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.: Hellboy: The Science of Evil (PlayStation 3/Xbox 360) - Prima Games: Hellboy: The Science of Evil Game Guide - Hellboy: The Companion TPB - Hellboy II: The Golden Army novel - Hellboy II: The Golden Army limited edition poster - Hellboy II: The Golden Army belt Second Place (3): - Hellboy Vol. 1 - 8 TPB's - Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.: Hellboy: The Science of Evil (PlayStation 3/Xbox 360) - Prima Games: Hellboy: The Science of Evil Game Guide - Hellboy: The Companion TPB - Hellboy: The Golden Army novel - Hellboy: The Golden Army comic Runners-up (25): - Hellboy: The Golden Army comic That's quite the Hellboy schwag they've got there. And all you've got to do is enter. So hurry on over to the Dark Horse website and throw your name into the proverbial hat. Hellboy II: The Golden Army contest

Angelina Jolie doesn't know about Sin City 2...still hot

Sin City was a stirring success, both commercially and fanwise. So it was inevitable that there would be a sequel in the works. A while back, news got out that Angelina Jolie could be in said sequel, meaning Frank Miller fanboys (and people that think Jolie is hot in general) had another reason to be excited for the sequel. But does she know what's going on with the film? According to MTV Films, not really. When asked about her role in the sequel, Jolie bluntly replied that she didn't know. “I found the first Sin City impressive, but I don’t know what they’re going to do with the next one to make [it] as original as the first one,” Jolie said. She loves Frank Miller, so it wouldn't be that she's worried about the film. It seems her biggest worry is creativity. A while back Rosario Dawson indicated that filming was being adjusted to account for Jolie's pregnancy, so maybe we'll see Jolie as Ava Lord after all. Jolie in Sin City 2

Sonya Blade and Flash confirmed for MK vs. DC

Two more characters have been added to the crapfest that is MK vs. DC. Screenshots obtained by Analog Hype show that Sonya Blade and Flash are in the game. I think these two are really given, mainly because they are staples of their respective companies. Really not sure what Flash can add to the game in terms of fighting, but hey, to each their own. Sonya Blade and Flash confirmed for MK vs. DC

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I Am Iron Man

I knew that Iron Man would be a hit, but I didn't know it would be this BIG a hit. Reuters reports that Iron Man has just hit the $300 million mark after 51 days. As a point of comparison, Spider-man 3 hit the same amount in 23 days, which was expected. But Marvel has to be loving the fact that Iron Man only took twice as much time to do the same. Now if they could only get that whole Jon Favreau situation sorted out... Iron Man hits $300 million

Preview: Final Crisis: Revelations #1 (of 5)

The Spectre is back. This time, the man behind the powers is Crispus Allen in Final Crisis: Revelations #1. Allen is tasked with extracting God's vengeance on the move vile villains in the universe, however there's a growing threat that he has to face, and will require the help of The Question (Renee Montoya). Written by Greg Rucka and with art by Philip Tan, Jeff de los Santos and Jonathan Glapion, Final Crisis: Revelations #1 hits stores August 13 for $3.99. Preview: Final Crisis: Revelations #1

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen to feature weapon Transformers?

According to a post on Transformers Live Action Movie Blog, we may be seeing Transformers that are weapons in the sequel. On a message board featuring producer Roberto Orci the following question was posed: Roberto, will there be Transformers that transform into weapons in TF2? Yes! Well, that's far from a confirmation or elaborate details, but could this really mean that we see Galvatron in the sequel? Or perhaps Megatron transforms into a gun and is used by another Decepticon? One rumor is that the sequel will pit Megatron against Starscream, with Earth and the Autobots presumably in the middle, so maybe Starscream gets a Transformer gun? Guess we'll have to wait and see. Weapon Transformers

San Diego Comic Con 4-day passes sold out

If you're planning on going to the San Diego Comic Con and were hoping to get a four-day pass, well, hopefully you already got the pass by now. Because they're sold out. That's right kids, the even doesn't happen until July 24, and the four day passes are out. Saturday only passes are also sold out, but you can still get single day passes for Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Comic Con comes to the San Diego Convention Center from July 24 to July 27. San Diego Comic Con 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hank McCoy (Before the Fur) - Part 2

Choose your own adventure books: Don’t LAUGH. Marvel made a set of these and they were COOL. I mean it. They were game books- so they involved stats and dice. A bunch of them were well written. They even had some that you played head to head- like one of you would be Dr. Strange and the other would be the story’s villain. You’d each have a different book and read at the same time, and the books would prompt you when to interact with who you were playing against. Believe it or not, there are a couple of scans of these books floating around the internet. Home of the Underdogs has a gamebook section. Check it out. Video Games: These days, the video game and comic book industry’s romance is strong although they have certainly produced some ugly children here and there. Still, there have been some big strides. I remember playing Marvel superhero games on my Commodore 64. Those games were damn near impossible. Remember when you were a kid and you thought certain games were just way too hard? And then you went back years later and you realized that the problem wasn’t really that the game was too hard- it was more like really poorly programmed and incredibly difficult to control? The old Marvel games were like that, but they were ambitious attempts. There was an X-Men game that was based on the Fall of the Mutants storyline (which was a pretty awesome story back in the day- very different time and feel for X-Men, but cool). The only thing was, it was a RPG- but one of the really old RPGs? You know, where the dungeons were all randomly generated and all this crazy stuff would happen to you? And most of your characters would die? So you’d get text that would be like: It is EARLY AFTERNOON WOLVERINE shifted to front of party WOLVERINE moves NORTH WOLVERINE moves NORTHWEST WOLVERINE springs TRAP! Takes 48 damage DINOSAUR attacks! WOLVERINE takes 153 damage It is LATE AFTERNOON You know the kind I’m talking about, right? It was sort of like that. Console games didn’t do much better. There were a few really cool 2-D sidescrollers, but most were just ridiculously hard. For a long time, I wanted a Genesis just so I could play the X-Men game that came out. I loved Maximum Carnage and the Death and Return of Superman for SNES- although to this day, I can’t beat either one. The Playstation era is when stuff started coming together. While they feature renditions of the characters that are a little bit anime-d out, pretty much any Capcom fighting game featuring Marvel Comics characters is good for a ride. Marvel vs. Capcom comes highly recommended. While most of the other games Marvel puts out are over-hyped movie-tie-in action games, there have been a few diamonds in the rough snuck in there too. All the Spider-man movie games feature hysterical voiceovers by Bruce “Evil Dead 2” Campbell and the second in the series has this sort of Tony Hawk style free reign of New York feel. Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction gives you the same leeway to do as you wish and enough inhuman strength to produce a cathartic gaming experience. And if you like Max Payne and Dead to Rights, I highly recommend The Punisher- the controls are so smooth! And the interrogations are grisly. Of course, action-RPGs such as X-Men Legends and Marvel Ultimate Alliance are a ton of fun too- although only if you are a huge dork (like yours truly) and are fascinated with the gallons of comic book trivia poured into the things. Fun four player games, they lean towards repetitious. But it’s kind of cool to put together ridiculous line-ups that would never happen in the comics. To date, the most obscure I’ve ever put together in Alliance is Doom, Venom, Hulk, and Hawkeye. Write that comic for me. Please. If you noticed that I didn’t have a lot to say about DC in the above paragraph- well, good for you because someone should notice that. I have no idea why they can’t seem to get it together on this front. It’s like they ran out of steam right after they released Batman for the NES. Every Superman game ever created has been a travesty (Superman 64 anyone?)- and why there hasn’t even been an attempt to make a Green Lantern or a Wonder Woman game, I don’t know. Justice League Heroes is like Marvel Ultimate Alliance- just, you know, minus all the fun, interesting parts and with a lot more of the mindless repetitious parts. As for DC vs. Mortal Kombat? There won’t be any fatalities. …no fatalities. I don’t get it. I mean, I get WHY there won’t be fatalities- DC comics probably doesn’t want to portray Superman as reaching inside someone’s chest and ripping there still beating heart out. But why make this game, then? Why this combination? I don’t know what the people at Warner Bros. are doing here and the future for DC videogames does not look brighter anytime soon. Still, DC has plenty of fertile ground to work with if they ever wanted to MAKE a good game- the pieces are all there. Someone just needs to get it done. But I digress. As for massive online role-playing games…I’m not sure if the DC or Marvel projects are going to get off the ground. I’ve really got to give it up for City of Heroes and City of Villains though. These games are a ton of fun and well designed. Apparently there’s a Champions game coming soon too- the only appeal being that it’ll use the much-loved role-playing games system. COH and COV are a ton of fun though and still my “best buy,” if I was going to suggest something. Collectible Card Games: Like it’s tabletop role-playing game cousins, comic-book card games have gone through many iterations. I was a big fan of Overpower, a game that features characters from both of the “big two” and played fast. You put a team together of four heroes (or villains) and basically beat the hell out of each other. It was simple, but it was balanced, and it was fun. What started as a good thing didn’t last- eventually, the producers started releasing more and more rules for the game, increasing its complexity. While the new rules were cool, if you didn’t pick up the latest set of cards and it’s rulebook and you sat down to play with someone who had, you were usually confused and out of luck. Eventually, Overpower gave way to the VS. system. VS. is really dynamic and feels a little more like Magic: The Gathering than a superpowered-infused card game of Spades. The game dynamics are complicated and the characters, settings, themes, and events of each universe is well represented by the cards. It won a couple of gaming awards, actually. VS. is still on the shelves- but what’s really cool, is that you can go out and buy the entire set of Marvel VS. cards for the PC and hook up to an online network, kind of like Magic: Online for those of you who used to be into that. It’s a fun way to get playing the game quick- but be warned. With access to every card in the game, people put together sick decks and will teach you serious pain. But it’s fun, regardless. DC has yet to follow suit and put out an online version of all their cards. Big surprise. Board games: I’m surprised there aren’t more of these around! Besides those designed for players between ages 4-8, that is. The only game I know of this type is the Marvel Heroes strategy game, published by Fantasy Flight games. It really is a great attempt to capture a lot of the elements that you love about the super-hero genre into a completive game too. It has some complicated rules so it requires you to stick with its learning curve a bit, but it doesn’t require a Ph.D. or anything. Everyone plays a set of characters, but everyone also plays the nemesis of another player’s characters. So if you’re the Marvel Knights, someone else plays Kingpin, and if another player is the Fantastic Four, you might play Dr. Doom. There’s a scenario every time you play too that changes the rules of the game. The scenarios are all taken from comic-book stories, and represent stuff that you’d expect to happen in the Marvel universe- Galactus showing up, the Brood invading, “Inferno”, “House of M”…stuff like that. I really think it is highly underrated. My only regret is that it is likely to be discontinued, probably due to (gasp) licensing issues and complications. Get a copy now, if you can- but don’t expect it to be cheap. Action Figures, Models, and Minature games: Okay, now were delving into realms I don’t claim to understand. I respect models, especially the kind that you build. I mean…they’re picturesque at least. But there are people out there that are really into action figures. Like, REALLY into action figures. Like, write companies and request that certain ones be made. I don’t judge. I just don’t get it and could not claim to inform you on what is or is not a good buy. Collectible model games is another obsession I don’t get super involved with- but I know Heroclix has some appeal to the gamer-comic-addict. The boxes come with a random assortment of plastic (often poorly shaped) comic book characters. You and an opponent let each other have it. While the concept is kind of old hat by now, its system and the scale of the figures are both pretty cool. For starters, you can go out and buy Sentinel and Anti-Monitor figurines- and they literally tower over the battlefield, just like they do in the comics. It makes for a cool effect. The game’s coolest feature is likely how the character’s stats change during a fight. Every time a character takes a hit, you rotate the top of their stand to reveal a new set of stats. Most people get weaker as they take damage- but there are interesting exceptions. For example, when Batman has only a little bit of health left he starts fighting like a maniac. So if your going to go after him, you better hope you take him out instead of just pissing him off. Little touches like that help me see the appeal- although I’ve never been the “here, let me line up my collectible miniatures around my living room table before I have guests over” type.

Hank McCoy (Before the Fur) - Part 1

I remember a time, say ten years ago or so, where it seemed like the comic book industry was about to disappear. Really- it was the late nineties, Marvel was having some editor-in-chief issues, people were getting sick of buying and reading thirteen to twenty comic books that were titled X-something or X-(blank), DC was writing some good stuff for Batman, Justice League, and Starman, and that was about it, and Top Cow and Image really didn’t have much to offer beyond T & A. The “Clone Saga” came out around this time, for Spider-man? When they tried to write off Peter Parker and have a new Spider-man, who was a clone of the old Spider-man, named Ben Reiley? Yeah. Ouch. Mistakes were made. And the superhero genre just seemed…kicked. There were some awesome independent comics getting their start, left and right. But everyone just seemed like they were losing interest in the big-company books. So many titles started getting canceled, or ended up with really bad writers and illustrators. Of course, this made continuity kind of ridiculous. At some point, Teen Titans became the New Titans, but then Young Justice came out and all but replaced them, but then they pushed both teams together onto one book called Teen Titans with the older character’s tutoring the new ones…these were discouraging times to read. I’ve had assignments for graduate school that took less effort that keeping track of the revisions they were making. So what brought it all back? Tried and true, when things look bleak for the industry you can always count on one thing to keep interest alive and money flowing: LICENSING. While gimmicky, both companies have had some big hits with merchandise that have helped “spread the love” a bit and keep comics alive. Of course, they’ve had some big misses too. Big, big misses. As a chronic addict of comic-book merchandise myself, good and bad, I can hardly judge anyone for spending a few extra bucks here and there. Some of it is a lot of fun and part of what helped peaked my interest in comics to begin with. But just in case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s a brief tour (review) of some of the “stuff” you could be collecting if you could just pry your nose off the rack for a few minutes: Table Top Role-Playing Games: The gaming and comic-book industry have had this strange, unhappy on-again off-again marriage for a long, long time. I believe at the core of most great role-playing games is the idea that the ability of one character to perform a fantastic, inhuman action is restricted to set odds. In other words, even though it’s Dungeons and Dragons and anything goes, the chance of your character performing such and such crazy fantasy sword move that no one on the planet could do is a function of his stats and what’s happening in the environment around him. But the rules define the odds. The problem with superhero role-playing games is that the rules are always changing issue to issue. One second, Hulk is a big green rampaging guy, the next he’s Gray and smart but kind of a bad-guy, but then he’s back to a big green guy only now he has Banner’s mind, than he’s…well, Red these days (I hear the new series is pretty hot, by the by). To add to the confusion- different writers use characters differently. A character might be portrayed as relatively weak in one comic only to get revamped as the most powerful hero or villain ever to walk the face of the planet in another. Scarlet Witch was just another Avenger until Bendis finally sat down and was like: “Wait a minute…she does what now? Alters reality?” Still, there have been some admirable attempts. The first set of these games, Marvel Super Heroes by TSR and DC Heroes by Mayfair were great games and still have decent fanbases on the web today. For example, Classic Marvel has all sorts of homebrewed rules and lets you download pretty much every game supplement TSR ever released. I haven’t found a site of the same caliber for DC, although the “system” that game used lives on in the cult-classic Champions role-playing game. Few games inspire loyalty in fans the way Champions has. It’s even going to have an online version in another year or so (see below). The focus of these first attempts was on realism. Basically, if Superman and Green Arrow get into a fight, Green Arrow better have some trick up his sleeve because 85% of the time Superman was sure to kick his ass. So if you were going to run a game, than you, the referee or gamemaster or whatever, kind of decided what flavor of game you were going to run. Is it going to be straight up crime-fighting a la Batman, where characters were mostly human? Is it going to be all out super-powered warfare, X-Men style? You pick a “style” for the campaign, and try to keep the characters you use appropriate for the style so that you don’t wind up with Black Adam and Robin fighting it out. The Marvel system always appealed to me because they had really great rules for randomly generating super-powers for a new character, as well as the origin of those powers. So the game was really set within the mythology of the marvel universe- you could be a mutant, an inhuman, a Skrull Super-Soldier…whatever. Marvel released two other games, both to pretty poor reception. The systems these games used were a lot more fluid to kind of help represent how quick things can change in the comic-verse. One used playing cards (don’t ask) and another was actually diceless, which I kind of liked. The idea wasn’t that you rolled anything- you got a certain number of points to distribute to your characters abilities at the beginning of a round. So you decided how much effort you were going to put into punching, dodging, whatever…this sounds cool, but I kind of don’t like the idea that in the hands of an experienced player Spider-man can smack Silver Surfer around like a red-headed stepchild on a good day. DC re-released their role-playing game with West End Games though, and I thought it was great. The main rulebook is actually in color with beautiful illustrations. There was a little bit of random chance involved, but not so much as to unbalance the general aspects of the characters involved. The way powers worked in this re-vamp made a lot of sense to me. Describing it would be a little outside of the range of this editorial, but check it out if you’re ever on e-bay or the like. The game also had a good classification system that helped you make good decisions about what kinds of character’s to include in an adventure you wanted to run (Superman and Wonder Woman were level 5 characters, Batman was a very experienced level 1 character, etc.). These days? The role-playing super-hero genre is almost non-existent, save for Champions.