Friday, October 31, 2008

Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

So…let’s talk underrated/ underused heroes. Top of my list? I’m going to go with Steel. Now, I know most people look back at the nineties and the whole “Death of Superman” thing and go “God, what a joke.” The prevailing notion is that DC, essentially, sold out and all but flat out lied about the intention of the writers to truly “end” the run of this comic (at least, in the form that it had the “not-quite-death” of Superman has paved the way for the numerous “Heaven-apparently-has-a-revolving-door” storylines). Hell, I’m surprised Marvel has stuck to their guns so firmly on Steve Rogers, A.K.A. Captain America. But oh- in case you read Fallen Son? You notice how Tony Stark let Rogers’ body drift into the artic waters? Kind of like where they originally found him, when he got frozen? You see where I’m going with this, right? There’s always an out- see maybe he “died” the first time around but the super-soldier regenerates him, and we just don’t know it does that yet. Or maybe one day, a piece of vibranium or a cosmic cube, or who-knows-what is going to drift by the artic seafloor and “poof.” Steve Rogers. There’s always an out. Always. Whether it’s Barry Allen (Flash II) disappearing into the Speed Force or the X-Men not being able to find Banshee’s body (this has happened, recently), the popularity of a character is roughly correlated with the immortality of that character. So maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow- maybe not until we’re old and grey. But Rogers will be back. He just will. And I’m not unhappy with this state of affairs either. I’ve just accepted and embraced it. ANYWAY- Superman. He died but he didn’t. The thing is, I really love that whole year of DC comics, even to this day. The intricacy of the story, how every character, of every book was affected by it…believe it or not, I think “The Death and Return of Superman” is one of my favorite arcs. And for me, I kind of look at it as the “forefather” of the current era of comics. Like the story sort of “set the tone” for the next decade of comics. I can’t speculate as to how many of the writers at DC really intended to go all the way with killing Superman off, but in the mean time, they had this “Reign of Supermen” thing going on that I really was into. The basic premise was each of the four Superman titles running at the time (spinoffs were a little too big, in those days) got a new protagonist who claimed to either be A. Superman himself, reborn or B. the proper heir to the throne of Superman. In theory, the fans would decide which of the four characters they liked the best, and based on feedback from sales, letters, etc., the writers would decide which of them was going to be the “new” Superman (or his new form). If DC had stuck to their guns, I could picture this story ending with one epic mega-brawl between Supermen for the “title,” ending with the fan-favorite still standing when the dust settled. Other cool bit about this story- if I recall, the introduction of each character roughly corresponded with the title of the Superman book they appeared in. So, for example, Superman: The Man of Tomorrow ended up with a Cyborg Superman (now one of the most feared, bad-ass Superman villains ever and a card-carrying member of the Sinestro Corps-SINESTRO CORPS KICKS @SS, by the way) while Superman: The Man of Steel got, well, Steel. Of all the characters, the only one that I would have been okay with being the new Superman was Steel. I liked Kon-El, a.k.a. Superboy- only, that was just it. I liked him AS Superboy- not as Superman. As for the other two- the thought of Superman as a technologically reanimated corpse or just plain, well, alien and weird, didn’t sit well with me. Steel, on the other hand- he was a self made man. Steel was the only one of the four who actually strived to be what Metropolis needed. He got the point. My favorite scene involves the Eradicator (a sometimes good-guy/sometimes bad-guy pseudo organic machine, programmed to preserve Kryptonian culture- even if it means “eradicating” all other cultures in the process) burning up a court order that he was issued in front of a crowd. Suddenly, John Henry Irons just starts beating the crap out of Eradicator, EVEN THOUGH he knows that he could be burnt to a crisp at any minute. Irons screams: “You SAY you’re SUPERMAN!? Well then ACT LIKE SUPERMAN”. Even the Eradicator is totally taken aback here. I think that’s when Irons kind of won me over. The other thing that I think made him a good heir to the throne was- he’s brilliant. See, it’s kind of funny that the writers of other comics always kind of portray Superman as “a little bit slow.” Frank Miller is big on this schtick, for example. But actually, the original idea for the character was that he wasn’t such a bad detective or scientist himself. With the exception of the “mad scientist” strata of the DC universe, with guys like Will Magnus and T.O. Morrow, Steel is easily the most brilliant of the DC heroes. In fact, I can’t remember what story this happened in- but I could of sworn that Justice League had this on-going bit for a while where Batman couldn’t stand Steel, because for once, with Irons around, Batman wasn’t the smartest guy standing in the room. It was kind of cracking me up. Finally, if there was ever a character that really has a reason to hate a guy like Lex Luthor- it’s Irons. I mean, look at it this way- everything Irons has ever had, he has worked for. The suit he uses, the Steelworks workshop…and half of the time, he’s had to make sure the weapons he designs doesn’t end up in the hands of unscrupulous military-types (Iron Man-style). Now, Lex works too- in a fashion. But mostly, he uses anything he can to get ahead. Even when Irons needs the money, he doesn’t sell-out and sell missile systems to foreign countries or whatever. Lex, of course, doesn’t make such ethical discriminations when weighing a business deal. So the two are kind of the perfect for each other- they both come from little and have had to work to get ahead. But what they do- that’s the question. Ultimately, the fans agreed with me- they kept Superboy and Steel around and made the other two disguised Superman villains. Following Superman’s return, Steel got his own series. And it kind of seemed, in the mid-nineties, that the guy was going to be big. Like one of DC’s most popular characters. To date, I cannot think of one really epic, memorable story that really featured Steel as the main character. There are barely any trade paperback’s that collect his book. So what the hell happened? Well- Shaquille O’Neal comes to mind. Ouch. Another example of a very bad move on the marketing department at DC comics. Seriously. Who makes these kinds of decisions? I’m referring, of course, to the late nineties film adaptation of Steel. Maybe you never heard of it. Maybe you saw it and repressed it, as though it were a traumatic event. Either option is equally plausible. 52 used Steel a little- but I still don’t think the guy gets the spotlight enough. Originally I hated that his niece, Natasha, had kind of stepped in as the “new” Steel, but actually, after all the $&(# she went through in that book, she’s become one of my favorite characters. For a while there, they had this thing going on where Luthor had used some sort of chemical on Irons that actually made his body molten Steel. I kind of like the idea that Steel made the suit that he used himself, with his own hands, with his own money- even though the guy isn’t some rich millionaire with all the time in the world. But at the same time, I thought it was pretty frickin cool to see Steel actually made of, well, okay, Steel. In that excellent way in which DC takes the time to remind you why, exactly, Lex Luthor is actually one of the scariest villains in the DC universe, Luthor “turns off” the gene treatment that gives powers he’s given to a quarter of the population of Metropolis. With no warning. Tons of people are just flying around and enjoying their powers- and suddenly, their street pizza. The newspapers in Metropolis call it “The Rain of Supermen.” Funny. So back to the suit. Still, I’m just glad to see Irons in action again. This guy deserves his own series. For a little while there, Irons had kind of become Superman’s “runner”- kind of like the guy who stayed at a computer screen and let Superman know what was going on or, I don’t know, “analyzed” weird stuff. Sort of like Oracle for the Batman-clan these days. But I really think this guy deserves his own book. One last bit- I really think The New Frontier is a phenomenal story. It has this little aside tucked away in it about the African folklore hero, John Henry. In the DC universe, John Henry puts on a mask and grabs a hammer and fights against the KKK and other oppressive forces. It’s just a nice touch- there’s no mention of Irons per se, just this story about a self-made hero fighting against oppression. Maybe it’s where Irons gets the idea, or maybe Irons is a descendant. It’s the little touches like that, that make New Frontier such a great read if you are steeped in DC lore.

Christopher Nolan on all things Batman

Christopher Nolan is a smart man. He brought us Memento, the rather intriguingly told story that was original and innovative. He later revitalized a franchise that you might have heard of in Batman. And the LA Times Hero Complex has a pretty epic interview up with the man. It is DEFINITELY worth the read, and has many intriguing responses by Nolan. One of the most interesting ones is his thoughts on his Batman as part of a Justice League film. "I don’t think our Batman, our Gotham, lends itself to that kind of cross-fertilization. It goes back to one of the first things we wrangled with when we first started putting the story together: Is this a world in which comic books already exist? Is this a world in which superheroes already exist? If you think of "Batman Begins" and you think of the philosophy of this character trying to reinvent himself as a symbol, we took the position -- we didn’t address it directly in the film, but we did take the position philosophically -- that superheroes simply don’t exist. If they did, if Bruce knew of Superman or even of comic books, then that’s a completely different decision that he’s making when he puts on a costume in an attempt to become a symbol. It’s a paradox and a conundrum, but what we did is go back to the very original concept and idea of the character. In his first appearances, he invents himself as a totally original creation." This is interesting because it means that DC teamup films won't have the same sense of continuity as Marvel teamup films. I think that's part of the allure to fans in seeing the same actors play the same role, thus creating the same universe for all characters. This isn't to say that a Justice League film will fail because Nolan/Christian Bale aren't attached to it, and it also doesn't mean that an Avengers movie will be infinitely better because Robert Downey, Jr. and Edward Norton are attached to it. It just means fans will be slightly disappointed. So there goes that. Guess that means no matter how much we want it, fans will not see Christopher Nolan (much less Bale) attached to a Justice League film. That is if the film ever gets made. Nolan on Batman

Who is the Iron Patriot?

Most fans of Marvel know that Iron Man and Captain America weren't exactly on the best terms when Cap died. That's not to say that Iron Man necessarily wanted him killed for not agreeing with him. But maybe Tony Stark felt such remorse over the death that he's decided to rebrand himself as a hero? The above teaser image was released by Marvel and depicts the silhouette of what appears to be Iron Man with the Captain America star on his chest. The picture features the question "Who is the Iron Patriot?" Guess we'll have to wait and see.

Spawn #185 sells out

I hope you got your Spawn #185 when it first came out. If not, you're going to have to wait until the second printing. In case you missed it, Spawn #185 sold out at stores while at the same time introduced comatose Patient 47, which is apparently a big deal in the Spawn mythos. "Obviously it’s good news to have the initial issue sell out so quickly, but now the bigger task is to continue that momentum in the issues going forward," Spawn creator Todd McFarlane said. "As a reminder, the first few issues will be a lot of setup before we kick this into high gear. Each issue isn’t meant to be its own stand-alone book." The second printing of Spawn #185, a 32-page full color comic book for $2.95, will be available in stores soon.
PRESS RELEASE - TODD MCFARLANE AND WHILCE PORTACIO SPAWN AN IMMEDIATE SELL OUT! SPAWN #185's all-new direction completely sells out!
30 October 2008 (Berkeley, CA) - The comic book event of the season started off with a bang as SPAWN's new direction, courtesy of Image Founders Todd McFarlane & Whilce Portacio, resulted in an immediate distribution-level sell-out! "Obviously it’s good news to have the initial issue sell out so quickly, but now the bigger task is to continue that momentum in the issues going forward," Spawn creator Todd McFarlane said. "As a reminder, the first few issues will be a lot of setup before we kick this into high gear. Each issue isn’t meant to be its own stand-alone book." As if SPAWN #185's cataclysmic and unforgettable opening wasn't enough, readers were also introduced to the awakening of the mysterious and comatose Patient 47. In the pages that followed, secrets boiled to the surface and lives were lost, creating one of the greatest mysteries to hit the SPAWN mythos. While limited amounts of the first printing may still be available at your local comic book store, a second printing will hit stands soon to meet the additional demand. SPAWN #185 2nd ptg., a 32-page full color comic book for $2.95, will be available in stores soon. Image Comics is a comics and graphic novels publisher formed in 1992 by a collective of best-selling artists. Since that time, Image has gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. There are currently five partners in Image Comics (Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, and Jim Valentino), and Image is currently divided into four major houses (Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline, and Image Central). Image comics and graphic novels cover nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable, offering science fiction, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor, and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today. Visit www.imagecomics.com.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gotham City Dossiers: Sirius Entertainment

Welcome to Gotham City Dossiers where I try and showcase a lesser known comics publisher. This isn't to say that these publishers need my help bringing attention to themselves, but I'd like to think that readers can get stuff here that they may not be able to get elsewhere. So enjoy, and be sure to check in every Thursday for Gotham City Dossiers. As I'm writing this its slowly turning to dusk. The temperature is chilling, and the sun is slowly descending behind a sea of red, orange and purple clouds. And then it will be night. But, as Aaron Eckhart said in The Dark Knight "the night is always darkest before the dawn;" those rays of light that burst through the sky at dawn remind us that a new day is upon us. Maybe that's why Sirius Entertainment launched to fame with their first major comic called Dawn. Founded in 1994 by Robb Horan and Lawrence Salamone, Sirius Entertainment initially secured the talents of Joseph Michael Linsner, Dark One and Kevin J. Taylor. You might of heard of these guys before, as they were pretty innovative talents in the industry. Seeing that talent could come from anywhere and needs to be nurtured, Robb and Larry sought to give creative talent a home to develop. In July 1995, Sirius Entertainment became the number eight comic pubisher in America as a result of the forementioned comic Dawn #1. Since then, they have remained in the top 15 publishers. Dawn is of course the story of the guardian of all the witches on Earth, the goddess they pray to. She is recognizable as red-haired and bearing three tears on her cheek. There's also Poison Elves, the monthly misanthopic adventures of Lusiphur, an elf with an attitude and the combat skills to back it up. Set in year 1515, Poison Elves is best described as a "medieval fantasy adventure where demons, wizards, fishnet stockings and handguns exist in disharmony." Its also one of the most widely read black and white comics in the industry today. And then there's Safety Belt Man, the story of Bill Bardo, a man somehow trapped in the body of a safety-belt testing dummy. Despite this he is somehow responsible for saving people from eminent disaster, and is unique in that it features a new artist every two months. Sirius Entertainment. Definitely worth a look. Sirius Entertainment

Columbia preaching to moviegoers

Comic book movies are all the rage these days. X-Men, Spider-man...even lesser known titles such as Wanted and Constantine. Vertigo wants in on the fun as well, and when I say Vertigo you say? You say? Well if you said Preacher, you're on point. The Hollywood Reporter reports that Columbia has picked up the rights to Preacher, the comic about a down-and-out Texas preacher possessed by Genesis, a supernatural entity conceived by the unnatural coupling of an angel and a demon. The work was created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon and helped Vertigo from 1995-2000. Sam Mendes is slated to direct the film and while there are no writers or screenplay as of yet, you can imagine that Ennis and Dillon will at very least act as consultants. Columbia picks up rights to Preacher

Preview: Camelot 3000

King Arthur resided over the Knights of the Round. Which makes for good storytelling. And in the 1980s DC created a work called Camelot 3000, the story that pits Arthur and the same knights in the year 3000, fighting an alien invasion by their arch-nemesis Morgan Le Fey. The 12 issue work spanned a year and was a success among comic fans and readers in general. And on November 26, DC will release a celebratory hardcover edition. Written by Mike W. Barr and with art by Brian Bolland, Terry Austin, Bruce Patterson and Dick Giordano; Cover by Brian Bolland, Camelot 3000 is filled with bonus materials including never-before-seen preliminary artwork by Bolland and developmental material from writer Mike W. Barr! The 320 page color hardcover will set you back $34.99 and is due in stores November 26. Preview: Camelot 3000

Archibald Aardvark celebrates Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year is cause for celebration. That means everyone from you to me to Archibald Aardvark. Wait what? Archibald is in Little China in search of the "Compassionate Wind of Death" which quickly turns into a noir tale of greed, secrets and a deal with the devil. And of course, what would a Chinese New Year be without a red dragon? The 32-page two-color one-shot ARCHIBALD CHASES THE DRAGON (NOV082277)Archibald Chases the Dragon hits stores January 7 for $3.50. Full press release below.
PRESS RELEASE - CELEBRATE THE CHINESE NEW YEAR WITH ARCHIBALD! Archibald Aardvark returns in an all-new noir mystery this January!
29 October 2008 (Berkeley, CA) - Image Comics' Shadowline presents an all-new mature readers adventure with the greatest unknown cartoon star of yesteryear, Archibald Aardvark, as ARCHIBALD CHASES THE DRAGON! "As always, this one's definitely not for the kids," said Archibald Aardvark creator and artist Grant Bond. "Having Dara Naraghi take over the writing is perfect, as ARCHIBALD CHASES THE DRAGON puts a whole new spin on the murder behind the murder of Archibald's brother." ARCHIBALD CHASES THE DRAGON is the third Archibald one-shot illustrated by Bond, following ARCHIBALD SAVES CHRISTMAS & ARCHIBALD SAVES EASTER, and the first written by Naraghi. This time around a tip-off about a long thought solved murder brings Archibald to Little China, in search of the mysterious "Compassionate Wind of Death". However, it doesn't take long before this noir tale of greed, secrets and a deal with the devil threatens to have Archibald fall victim to the red dragon haunting his dreams. ARCHIBALD CHASES THE DRAGON (NOV082277), a 32-page two-color one-shot for $3.50, will be in stores January 7th, 2008. Image Comics is a comics and graphic novels publisher formed in 1992 by a collective of best-selling artists. Since that time, Image has gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. There are currently five partners in Image Comics (Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, and Jim Valentino), and Image is currently divided into four major houses (Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline, and Image Central). Image comics and graphic novels cover nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable, offering science fiction, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor, and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today. Visit www.imagecomics.com.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Hidden S in Phone Booth

Welcome to "The Hidden S in Phone Booth." Your writer is Mark Rhodes, a man known within many magazine circles including The Christian Science Monitor, Opera and Wizard. He runs a site called the European Film Report that looks at the art of filmmaking, and will tackle whatever he feels like writing about (similar to Tedd in Hank McCoy (Before the Fur) except with less love of Dazzler). DK Publishing has just released the updated (from the original 2004 version) DC Encyclopedia. The result is a heroic though flawed reference work that manages to be an excellent resource of the odds and ends of the DC universe. The work is most successful at compartmentalizing the mythology of DC into a manageable whole. Major characters like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman get several pages to explore their powers, their development, the key moments in their folklore and key plot lines and story arcs. Despite the pages devoted to the “A” list DC characters the information on this group of heavyweights is scarcely definitive (for instance, the ins and outs of Batman's 70 year career could fill a book this size). And, in many ways this is appropriate. Is there a lot about Batman that needs to be spelled out? Superman? Even most non-comic fans know a lot of the history of Superman/Batman because of the movies, television and it would be somewhat redundant to go far into the history of these well-known characters in a general encyclopedia such as this. The best use for this work is in its exploration of the “B” DC Characters like Aquaman, Green Lantern and the Flash. In other words, characters who have a high name recognition but are less well-known in the details of their history and evolution. The encyclopedia also manages to explore major plot lines in the comics (like the recent 52 series), major super-teams like the JLA and JSA and also minor super-teams like the Freedom Fighters, The Metal Men, The Doom Patrol, Challengers of the Unknown, Seven Soldiers of Victory and The Outsiders. Forgotten or marginal super-teams like the Sea-Devils, The Losers and the Global Guardians are given their proper due as well. Footnoted sections about alternate Earths (a real thorn in DC’s history), romantic pairings, secret headquarters, noteworthy team-ups and some of the offbeat Elseworlds stuff like Kingdom Come and the Frank Miller Dark Knight stuff (which people forget is considered an Elseworlds entry) are especially rich as they manage to encapsulate some of the major milestones and ideas in the DC universe in brief but detailed sketches. A lot of the fun of the book is the discovery (or rediscovery) of fascinating characters in the DC history. Great minor and /or obscure characters like the Demon, Captain Comet, Batwoman, and Tomahawk have their histories spelled out with key storylines to explore. Other characters which are considered major in the scheme of things are given small or minimal entries. John Constantine, Jonah Hex, The Joker, and Captain Marvel are given smaller than expected entries. On the other hand, characters like Arsenal, Captain Boomerang, Steel and Starman get larger than expected entries. There are noteworthy absences like The Spirit (which did not originate as a DC Character), the Watchman characters, most of the WildStorm universe and much of the Vertigo universe (in all fairness DK also published a recent history of the Vertigo line recently reviewed by yours truly). Despite the ommissions, the real difficulty with a book like this is that it is almost instantly out of date. The age of Wikipedia has made reference books, particularly encyclopedias, quaint objects of the 20th century. Along with this, any number of fan based sites could give more detailed histories of say Green Arrow, Jonah Hex or the 52 series (not to say anything of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman). The book is still worth buying as it is a good, quick reference book that can be more readily utilized than the internet and more easily searched. For what it is worth, the work is also an attractive item with a great cover from the maestro Alex Ross. Would make a nice Christmas present for the comic historian and/or comic novice as it is a good way to introduce a novice to some of the folklore of the DC universe or help a comics history buff understand some of the connections between the characters and events that have defined the DC line. (Footnote; There is an amusing blog by one of the book's authors, Daniel Wallace, where Mr. Wallace goes into some of his experiences creating the updated DC Encyclopedia... http://geekosity.blogspot.com/2008/10/dc-comics-encyclopedia-revised-and.htm

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe storyline trailer released

We're drawing ever so close to the release date for Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, and Midway wants to be sure it stays on your mind in the mean time. To do that, Midway has released a video showcasing the storyline for the game. So if you were wondering why in the world would Batman fight Sub-Zero in the first place, this video may give you some indication. Of course, for the full effect you'll have to play the game.

Holy Bat-Manga Batman!

It looks like manga and anime are taking over Omnicomic! Not really, but I will admit that I've been giving more love to anime with yesterday's announcement about the live action Ninja Scroll movie, and now I'm going to give love to manga. But of course, its Batman related manga. Bat Manga! The Secret History of Batman in Japan takes a look at one of comics most influential characters impact on Japan. In the book,Chip Kidd Saul Ferris and photographer Geoff Spear take a look at the Batman memorabilia's march through Japanese history. They recently did an interview with Manga.com in which they were pretty forthcoming with some of the creative details. The book drops October 28, 2008 just in time for Halloween. It is being released simultaneously in soft- and hardcover. The hardcover is a limited edition and contains an extra 32-page story and a different cover design. Both editions are full-color throughout and 352 pages and 384 pages, respectively. The interview is an excellent primer on the history of Batman on manga if you're interested. Interview with the creators of the Bat Manga collection

Robert Downey, Jr. signs on for Avengers movie

Amazing! Incredible! Fantastic! Marvel fans may recognize these adjectives from various comic properties. But all three can be applied to the recent announcement from Marvel regarding Robert Downey, Jr. He's officially signed on for the Avengers movie! I think we all knew it was a given, considering the way Iron Man ended and his cameo as Tony Stark in The Incredible Hulk, but this just makes it that much better. But there's more. The same announcement indicated some things about the Avengers movie. "In a movie event, "The Avengers" will bring together the super hero team of Marvel Comics characters for the first time ever, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk and more, as they are forced to band together to battle the biggest foe they've ever faced." So we can expect to see at least Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and Hulk, in addition to whatever other villains they want to add in. And I guess this means that we won't be seeing them fight Hulk, which is kind of disappointing. But what can we make of the line about the facing the biggest villain they've ever faced? Is that physically big, or figuratively? Could it be Onslaught? Apocalypse? Guess we'll find out! Iron Man 2 will be released in theaters on May 7, 2010 and The Avengers will be released July 15, 2011. Both films will be distributed by Paramount Pictures. Downey in for Avengers

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New Arrivals: October 29, 2008

Is it just me, or are more and more games getting comic book tie-ins? Gears of War, Dead Space and World of Warcraft are all examples of games that have comic books either adding to or expanding upon the story found in said games. And you can now add Mirror's Edge to the list, as Mirror's Edge #1 hits stores this week. In case you're unawares, Mirror's Edge is the insane free-running game due out in early November with some pretty dizzying camera angles. And the comic features the same heroine in Faith, a runner in the city responsible for transporting special cargo. Enjoy! New Arrivals: October 29, 2008

Spawn interviews Khary Randolph

Its 1 PM and do you know where your Khary Randolph is? Better yet, do you know who Khary Randolph is? If you don't, shame on you. Fans of The Adventures of Spawn will surely know who he is, as he is the man responsible for all the keenly awesome illustrations in that work. And luck for you he was kind enough to do an interview with Spawn.com! In the interview he talks some about his other projects, his creative process behind his Spawn work and a hint as to what we can expect from him in the future (he basically says that yes he's working on stuff, but no he can't talk about it). So check it out, and appreciate the Spawn enlightenment he'll be dropping on you. Spawn interviews Khary Randolph

Live action Ninja Scroll in works

I try and stray away from anime on this site. Nothing against the medium...its just that I don't really consider it to be part of comics. But I can't go without mentioning a recent story from Variety about one of the classic anime films of all times. Ninja Scroll is that film, and it ranks up there with Akira for its general badassness and blood. So it was only a matter of time until someone got around to making a live action version of the film. According to Variety, Warner Brothers has bought the rights to a live action version of the film. And what's more is that Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way will be producing the film. Not quite the combination I think of when I think of someone adapting the anime to a live action film. But at least DiCaprio has been around the block a few times when it comes to movies, so I have faith that he'll know what he's doing and make an admirable adptation. Stay tuned for more details. Warner Brothers grabs rights to Ninja Scroll

Review: Heroes - Eris Quod Sum

Within the reviews I'm going to try and look at each review from the perspectives of each of the main characters, but because there are so many some of these could get lengthy. These are not spoiler free, so please be mindful of that when reading. Translate "eris quod sum" and you get "will be and to be" which can mean a whole lot of things. At face value, I think it really means that this show is sucking and will be sucking. But as far as story goes, I think it is best defined as being the villains are villains and the heroes are heroes. Which means now we have to determine which is which. That being said, the show is trying to get too cute with the twists and turns, and have completely played out the fake death. This episode, Parkman, Daphne and Peter were all supposedly dead but weren't. Throw in the comment that Parkman made about his dad being able to do the same thing as him and you just know that Mr. Petrelli really didn't kill him. But at least Maya had her power taken away and is most likely gone from the show now. One less character to deal with. I think Mr. Petrelli pretty much defined the season so far by saying "I don't like your tone son. You're grounded." This badass villain that is completely ruthless has THAT as his menace line. Right. Not to mention that, but it seems like he's been waiting for everyone. First he had been waiting for Adam. Then he had been waiting for Peter. And then Sylar shows up and, guess what, he's been waiting for him too. He's always waiting. And his apparent lack of remorse in killing Parkman's dad is supposed to make us believe he's this ruthless? I'm sorry, but this show has yet to rightfully get a handle on his character. Elle broke into Claire's house to get help from her dad. Of course he's not there. So we now have the Hollywood Blonds in Claire and Elle on a cross-country trip towards Pinehearst. So yeah, they're not really wrestlers, but they did have a blonde bonding moment on the airplane (Elle can't control her electric powers now and she thinks flying on the airplane is a good idea) where they held hands. They get there and find Peter thrown out a window warning them to get away. This all leads to a reunion between Mr. Bennett, Meredith, Nathan and Tracy at Mohinder's apartment. And then a further reunion with Peter and Claire, both of whom warn Nathan not to go visit their dad. But of course, his confidence in his ability to fly gives him all this power in the world to have a good heart to heart with his dad. Mohinder is already at Pinehearst, using his intelligence to help perfect the formula. Who knows where this will end up. I'm not going to lie, this review may read pretty disjointedly. But that's because the episode was kind of disjointed. And I feel like the storylines in this season are really just going all over the map, and its not doing much for logic's sake. I'm starting to get to the point where its becoming more and more of a chore to watch this show. There are too many characters. Every episode seems to recycle the same formula: menacing villain waiting, person appears, menacing villain injures someone, villain waits some more, heroes assemble, heroes visit villain, menacing villain injures someone. I think you get the idea. Overall score: 70 out of 100

Monday, October 27, 2008

Defense With the BoomStick

The end of the world is something that may or may not happen, but if it does its good to be prepared. Defense with the BoomStick by Brandon Pilley (Omnicomic's resident zombie expert) will bring you a short tip to survive should the end of the world include zombies. And since we're dealing with zombies, please be aware that some tips may depict some rather gory scenarios. But last I checked zombies aren't looking to have a delightful cup of tea with you. Brandon here, and I'm back on the air, which means that I made it back alive in one piece from my mission abroad. Sure there were quite a number of close calls and many a fire fight that were good and bad, but there's going to be fewer zombies bothering what people are left. I can't say what drove me to leave my compound, only that it is something I had to take care of and pivotal to my survival. So how did you guys enjoy the recording last week? Hopefully it kept you somewhat entertained and at least you had something to fill the void for a bit of time. Since I am bone tired from journeying, shooting, and trekking a grand distance I am going to get to the point of the matter for this week's tip. I want to talk about what must be done in order to get in get supplies and get out silently if you are on the move and approach a small rural town. Hopefully you are in a group of survivors and not on your own (as being on your own makes the task more difficult to do, but not entirely impossible). With a group you can have spotters with long range rifles for support if needed for a quick retreat; otherwise the best weapons to use are all silent ones. Melee weapons, crossbows, pistols with silencers and anything that will allow you the quiet kill if one is necessary are preferred. If possible, scout out the types of buildings on the outskirts of the town as they might be the ones you have the best chance of finding the supplies you need. When coming upon a building that has supplies you need to always make sure to be quiet. On entering, try and sweep the entire building before doing anything else and make sure to keep absolute silence so as to be able to hear any zombies walking around. Once the building is clear, move quick get what keeps well like canned foods and any gear that you might need on the road. Once packed full (and before exiting the building) if possible to scan the outside of the door you are leaving through, so that you don't walk out right into a waiting horde of zombies wanting you for dinner. This is where having your spotters on the outside of town and radios come in handy so they can cover your retreat and also give you a look out as to any zombie movement around your area. If on you way out of town you do encounter a zombie make sure to kill it quickly and quietly so as to not alert any more to your presence (it's tough enough running and fighting with a pack loaded down of goods without being surrounded as well). Once you make it back to your support group it is best to get the hell out of the area without being spotted, as a zombie will follow your general direction until it is dead, it finds you or finds something else that interests it. That's that for the tip of the week. Hope it helps more of you survive so perhaps we can meet up someday when all this is over. Until next week keep on living, killing those bastard zombies and keeping hope alive. This is Brandon signing off...

Hulk getting animated with Thor

For as much talk as there has been recently regarding the apparent lack of success that the latest Hulk movie, there sure is a lot of Hulk action all over. The latest is an upcoming animated movie called Hulk vs Thor. featuring Hulk facing his latest challenge in Thor (you can check out the trailer for the feature below). The film is due on DVD and Blu-ray in January 2009. Marvel has recently been focusing a lot on the Hulk, with the film reboot and the most recent Planet Hulk/World War Hulk storyline. Could the Green Goliath be getting the attention that he truly deserves? Or does featuring him make it easy on creators because he is such an epic character? I really hope its the former, and Marvel sets up the Avengers film to feature Hulk as a villain. It would really be unprecedented as far as movie comic storylines go, in taking a character such as Hulk and making him the villain instead of a hero. He's always kind of been an anti-hero of sorts, but his struggle is fairly identifiable with most (without the big green thing). Guess we'll have to wait and see. What about you true believer? Any stories you could think of that you'd want to see the Hulk a part of? Hulk vs Thor trailer

The Darkness helping The Hero Initiative

I don't think enough can be said about The Hero Initiative. The program is designed to provide resources to comic book creators that are in need, and those resources include everything from funds to medical assistance to pulling some strings to get them working again. But the Hero Initiative obviously needs funds to do so. And Top Cow wants to use their name to help contribute some of those funds. Phil Hester will be creating a special variant cover for The Darkness #7 set to be available at Wizard World Texas November 7-9. And the entire 100% of profits from the sales will go to The Hero Initiative. “The Hero Initiative does a great service to the comics community by helping creators in need,” said Mel Caylo, Top Cow’s VP Marketing and Sales. “We are more than happy to help keep their mission going.” The variant issue will be available at The Hero Initiative Booth at the convention. If you can't make it to the convention, you'll still have the opportunity to purchase a very limited amount of the books after the show from the special Hero Initiative section on the Atomic Comics website at www.atomiccomicstore.com/heroinitiative.html. Full press release below.
VARIANT COVER BY PHIL HESTER FOR THE DARKNESS #7 TO BENEFIT THE HERO INITIATIVE
Hester will be on hand at Wizard World Texas to sign copies of the book LOS ANGELES, Calif., October 22, 2008 – Top Cow Productions, Inc. and The Hero Initiative proudly announced today a limited-edition variant cover for The Darkness #7 drawn by Phil Hester would be available for sale at Wizard World Texas, taking place November 7-9 at the Arlington Convention Center in Arlington, Texas. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the books will benefit The Hero Initiative. The Hero Initiative is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to helping comic creators in need. It provides them with emergency medical care, funds for essentials in life and assistance to get back into paying work. The Darkness, a long-running series from Top Cow that was adapted into a hit videogame in 2007, is the continuing saga of Jackie Estacado, a former mob hitman-turned-crime boss who inherited a curse that allows him to create and control nearly anything he can imagine as long as he’s in darkness. The series is currently written by Phil Hester (FireBreather, Green Arrow) and drawn by Michael Broussard (Unholy Union). For this issue, however, guest artist Jorge Lucas (Pilot Season: Ripclaw) gives Broussard a spell, but Hester happily agreed to donate his art skills to create a special variant cover. “Phil Hester is not just an amazing writer and top-flight artist, but a heckuva nice guy,” beamed Jim McLauchlin, president of The Hero Initiative. “We’re very pleased that Top Cow has helped us out in creating this killer cover.” “The Hero Initiative does a great service to the comics community by helping creators in need,” said Mel Caylo, Top Cow’s VP Marketing and Sales. “We are more than happy to help keep their mission going.” The Darkness #7 variant issue will be available for sale exclusively at The Hero Initiative Booth at Wizard World Texas, taking place during the weekend of November 7-9 at the Arlington Convention Center in Arlington, Texas. Hester is attending the event and will appear at the Hero booth, where he will be available to sign purchased copies of the special issue. “We’re beyond happy to host him at our convention booth for the weekend,” said McLauchlin. Fans who are unable to attend the convention can purchase a very limited amount of the books after the show from the special Hero Initiative section on the Atomic Comics website at www.atomiccomicstore.com/heroinitiative.html. Regular copies of The Darkness #7 go on sale in comic shops Nov. 5.

Joker toning it down for teens

Way back in the day of Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis (when I was dead broke, man I couldn't picture this) Mortal Kombat hit home. And it was bloody. Well, not on SNES. And not even on Sega Genesis unless you put in the blood code. But after that, it was all blood all the time. Which meant a rating of "Mature" by the ESRB. Which is fine when you're looking at the Mortal Kombat universe. But what about when the DC Universe shows up? Well then you have to make it a bit more user friendly. And by user friendly I mean tone down some of the fatalities, including the Joker's. Kotaku has gotten their hands on the game and are sad to report that one of the more unique fatalities in the game (courtesy of the Joker of course) was eschewed in favor of a "Teen" rating from the ESRB. "In the latest build, Joker still whips out his prank gun, a "BANG!" flag unfurling. Unfortunately, you won't see the follow up of Joker shooting someone in the face; that actually happens off screen now, the headshot safely out of sight." So yeah. The Joker, quite possibly one of the best incarnations of pure anarchy and chaos still pulls out the coveted prank gun, but the following massive gunshot wound to the head is implied and not seen. Which means that what Midway was trying to avoid all along in a Mortal Kombat game watered down for more mainstream appeal may actually be happening. Sure, you'll still get plenty of other bloody endings to battles. But what kind of world do we live in if we can't witness the Joker having the last laugh in a gunfire way? Why so serious? Joker toning it down for teens

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Will we see a sequel to The Incredible Hulk?

The Incredible Hulk was a nice return to form for the big green beast. I liked Ang Lee's version, but the reboot seemed to have a bit more of the right feel for the character. And nothing against Eric Bana, but I felt that Edward Norton filled the role of Bruce Banner a bit better. But from a financial perspective it pretty much matched the first in terms of box office receipts, which doesn't guarantee a sequel. That being said, according to an interview with MTV producer Gale Anne Hurd is hoping it happens. "Next, he's likely to appear in an 'Avengers' movie, but that's completely up to Marvel," she explained. "It's wonderful that Marvel now controls so many of their own characters, and they can create a Marvel universe in film and populate it with so many of their characters who naturally exist together. I think an 'Avengers' film is a very exciting prospect." So he is most likely going to be in the Avengers film, but his role is yet to be determined. He'd make an awesome villain in the film, but who knows. Hurd did mention that Norton is first in line to reprise his role as Banner. "It's all going to depend on the screenplay and where his character goes in any sequel, because he does have a multiple-picture deal," she said of Norton. "[Norton's situation] is the same with every franchise like this, when you have one of the top actors of his generation." Its good news to hear that the producer and actor are both on board for a sequel, and that Hulk will most likely be in the Avengers movie. I would assume that if the Hulk were in that film that would be part of the multiyear contract Norton is signed to so he would be Banner in both that film and the Hulk sequel. Speaking of sequels, who will be the villain? "The Leader," she said when asked what Nelson was transforming into when last we saw him. "It would be a blast [to put the Leader in the sequel], and Tim Blake Nelson is tremendous and a very talented filmmaker in his own right." Will we see a sequel to The Incredible Hulk?

New Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe screens

What's that you say? You want more screenshots from Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe? Well ask and you shall receive. Apparently Sonya Blade is throwing a party in honor of the screenshots (see above), but the rest are not quite as festive. Unless gushing blood is your idea of festive.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

So…Dr. Fate. No, not Dr. Strange. Dr. Fate. The other guy. The DC guy. Now, I love Dr. Strange. This post is most decidedly not Dr. Strange. I think Dr. Strange deserves his own full-time series. I’ve been digging through Spider-man and New Avengers comics just to find the guy for way too long. However, to give credit where credit is due, the first extremely-weird-sorcerer with various mystic accoutrements WAS in fact Dr. Fate. Just SAYING. Not that Strange is a knock-off. No one is saying that. Just Fate was first, that’s all. Take what you will from that. Fate isn’t quite as beloved as Strange is, I’m afraid. And that is to say, not even that the fans aren’t beloved of the character- sometimes, I get the impression that various writers can’t stand Fate either. Maybe that’s why there’s been a laundry list of characters who have stepped in as the new Dr. Fate and then subsequently been killed off. As if some writer somewhere was finally like “God, this guy is so confusing- can we just get rid of him once and for all, and be DONE with it?” But for every writer who’s tried to put Fate out of the picture, another has rewritten the man. And I have to say, the end result of all these revamps is the development of one weird-as-$#!% character. The short version of the story is that Dr. Fate is kind of a mantle that many individuals have taken up over the years, a sorcerer from ages ago the spirit of which mentors those who takes up that mantle (named Nabu) and the actual mystically powered physical items (helmet, amulet) that the original sorcerer left behind for his “champions” to use (which tend to have a life of their own). And at times maybe even a weird combinations of all three of these things. That is Nabu himself at one point returned from the dead and walked around the DC Universe as the current Dr. Fate. Oh, but it gets weirder. The original Dr. Fate was a guy named Kent Nelson. Nelson was an archeologist who discovered Nabu’s helmet and amulet. He, and most incarnations of the character, spent most of his time trying to keep the balance between “The Lords of Chaos” and “The Lords of Order," who almost never appear in person in comics. But I have to say in the greater scheme of things in the DC Universe Dr. Fates do not mess around and will not hesitate to turn you into a quivering blob of goo if you get in their way. One of the things that’s interesting about Fate in every version of the character (at least, from my perspective) is that sooner or later the “host” seems to get more and more detached from reality (as we see it). In the Marvel Universe, Strange is kind of the caretaker of Earth and all of it’s defenders. He’s kind of tuned into reality. Fate is as well, but it’s like the longer someone wears the helmet the less human they become. The weirder and weirder the stuff is they’re dealing with, the more time they’re spending in bizarre, mystical dimensions and less on Earth. Magic, in the DC Universe, always comes at something of a price. And Fate is no exception to the rule. In fact over the years the “mantle” seems like it’s as much a curse as it is a blessing. Not only that, wearing Nabu’s helm has had some really strange impact on different “hosts” and their loved ones. At one point Kent and his wife, Inza, were not only resurrected into new bodies following their death, but had to merge into a single being when they became Dr. Fate. So Dr. Fate was male or female at various times at his career depending on which of these two personas was most dominant in the merge. …it goes on like this, with weird stuff. The amulet that each Fate has worn actually contains a pocket dimension in it- basically just a farmhouse that Kent and his wife used to live in. Entering into it allowed the current “host” and others who traveled with him to consult with Kent and most of the other “hosts” who had been Dr. Fate at one time or another and Nabu himself. SOMETIMES, the entire Justice Society (the guys who came before the Justice League- Fate has tended to be closer to them than others) would actually “hide-out” in the amulet, if they needed to. By now, you’re probably getting the idea. I’m a big fan of the current incarnation of Fate- I really think, thematically, Stever Gerber has breathed new life into this character. Sadly, the man passed away before he could complete the series. As a tribute, DC has four different writers write four different endings to Gerber’s word in Countdown to Mystery. So how DC is going to pick which one is canonical…I don’t know. But I still think it’s a cool tribute to Gerber, rather than having just one writer pick up the thread. Anyway- the current Fate is Kent Nelson. But not THE Kent Nelson. He’s actually the grandnephew of the original- although personally, I think the possibility of some kind of resurrection time-share-soul-thing is not out of the question. What I like about Nelson? His life is a total mess. He’s divorced, out of work, an alcoholic and a gambler living in Vegas. At the begging of the series, he’s involved in a bumfight. For cash. Low, right? It’s like…there’s something inescapable in the guy’s life. We all know what it is- this thing, this mantle “Fate.” But he doesn’t know it. So you have this character who feels like something’s really missing from their lives, something they’ve never been able to explain, but dreads finding out what that thing is on top of it. The other thing I like about the character is this- magic doesn’t make your life easier. In fact, magic involves dealing with scary, extradimensional $#!& that no one else understands. It’s hard to maintain a normal, healthy lifestyle when you get sucked into mystical journeys through time and space. Also? Kent’s current love interest is a woman known as…you guessed it. Inza. The first’s Nelson’s wife. Thereby confirming suspicions that these two are some kind of…reincarnated something-or-others. But what really kind of creeps me out? Is that…this new Inza is a comic writer. Which…is weird to me. Almost like- maybe somewhere, in that vast cosmic journey of being resurrected, this woman, deep down, has gleamed some fundamental truth about the universe she lives in? And that it’s…a comic book? DC has broken the fourth wall like this from time to time. Like in that one panel in Infinite Crisis, where Alexander Luthor is looking through all of these different Earth’s to find the elements to recombine a “perfect” Earth, and then he turns towards you, the reader, and reaches out through the panels to “your” Earth. Yeah, that’s what that was about, in case you missed it. It’s subtle in Gerber’s version of the story, and I can’t say for certain, but I swear that was part of the intention here. And it freaks me out. Anyway, only time will tell if DC picks this character back up and how they are going to resolve these four “endings” to the new Nelson’s origin story. Countdown to Mystery. Worth checking out.

Dr. Strange Love?

X-Men and Spider-Man started the Marvel Universe down the feature film path. Then came Hulk, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, Daredevil and Punisher. And next we have the Avengers, Captain America, Thor and Ant-Man. Throw in some Nick Fury for good measure and you're getting quite the universe going on screen. But what about the Master of Mystic Arts himself Dr. Strange? Surely a character that powerful combined with the ability of CGI to be almost lifelike we'd expect his film to fit into Marvel's plans somewhere right? Right? Well I've got some news for you. In what is sure to make resident Omnicomic contributors Tedd and Mark ecstatic, Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige told MTV Splash Page that Dr. Strange is about a high a priority for a movie as it can be. "I’d say in the next year, year and a half, as we start putting together our film slate for 2012 and 2013, I would not be shocked if we saw Dr. Strange on those lists. I love the idea of taping into the magical realm of the Marvel Universe, which is fairly significant and hasn’t yet seen life on screen. It’s something I’m very, very interested in,” he emphasized. AWESOME! You know that (or would hope Marvel was smart enough, which I'm sure they are) Neil Gaiman would gladly come on board to help write the screenplay. And of course Stan Lee would consult and have the requisite cameo. But what would the story be about? Dr. Strange is pretty much involved in everyone's lives, and it would have to be an origin story of sorts at the beginning. But how could you start that without turning the movie into an intergalactic sorcery war? I could imagine that Baron Mordo would be the villain in the first film. But the problem with Dr. Strange is the same as that of Ghost Rider and Daredevil: he's one of those characters that mainstream audiences don't know about. Marvel has no problem drumming up attention for the superheroes and explaining their backstory, but Dr. Strange is definitely out there. If you'd like an excellent case for a Dr. Strange film, check out a recent column by Tedd. Dr. Strange Love?

New footage from Watchmen

Can't wait till March to check out Watchmen, despite recent rumors that Zak Snyder changed the ending? Well, if you think I'm going to give you a means to watch the whole film now you're sorely mistaken (not to mention the fact Omnicomic would probably be destroyed by Warner Brothers for the leak). But, I do have links (courtesy of the same Warner Brothers) to very tasty looking high definition (and standard) video of the footage aired at this year's Spike Scream Awards. A lot of the footage we've already seen before, but there is some new stuff mixed in there as well. There's a lot more Rorschach this time around, as I'm pretty confident he's going to be the character that truly sells this movie. I know a lot of comic book fans may get mad at me for looking at the movie from a financial perspective, but I think the more people that see this movie and go read the graphic novel afterwards the better. And, if you don't like it, Alan Moore will personally annihilate you. I've seen it done.

Windows Hi-Def: 1080 | 720 Windows Standard: Large | Med | Small Flash: Standard | Hi-res Quicktime Hi-Def: 1080 | 720 | 480 Quicktime Standard: Large | Medium | Small | SD LL

Shazhmmm...

What do you get when you take one part comic books, one part roundtable and one part blog? A pretty awesome site that reviews comics that's what. Shazhmmm... is a comic book review site run by Garrett Martin and Hillary Brown, two comic connoisseurs that know what they're talking about. But what do they talk about? They review a comic book weekly and its not just your standard "writer X is doing this, which is good" stuff. No. They have a thoughtful, two way conversation extolling the values of a range of books, everything from Crogan's Vengeance from Oni Press (you may recall I profiled Oni Press here) to Bear Creek Apartments to Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane Season 2 #1 by Marvel. So head on over and check out their weekly review of a selected comic book. They cover a pretty wide range of works, so don't expect to always see reviews of Secret Invasion all the time. There is other stuff out there besides Marvel and DC you know... Shazhmmm...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gotham City Dossiers: Top Shelf Productions

Welcome to Gotham City Dossiers where I try and showcase a lesser known comics publisher. This isn't to say that these publishers need my help bringing attention to themselves, but I'd like to think that readers can get stuff here that they may not be able to get elsewhere. So enjoy, and be sure to check in every Thursday for Gotham City Dossiers. Not to be confused with that other comic book publisher at the top, Top Shelf Productions was started in 1997 by Chris Staros and Brett Warnock in Marietta, GA. A little over ten years old, the publisher has a very impressive resume of artists and writers. Like who you ask? Well let me just list off a few. How does Ed Brubaker and Alan Moore sound to you as creative talent at the publisher? Pretty awesome if you ask me. So beyond the creators, what should you check out from Top Shelf? One of the most popular works is Owly, created by Andy Runton. Owly is a nice but lonely owl on the search to find new friends, and while it may seem very kiddy in nature, the work has been compared to Jeff Smith's Bone in terms of its widespread appeal. There's also a work by Tim Sievert called That Salty Air about Hugh, a fisherman with a special relationship to the sea, a relationship based on respect and reverence. As a result of his feeling betrayed, the work becomes a story about change and learning the price for trifling with the natural progression of things And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention anything that Moore does for the company. Lost Girls is a pretty mature comic, and by that I mean its really a piece of erotic fiction. Yes kids, Moore has written a story of Alice, Wendy and Dorothy of various fairy tale fames chronicle their stories of sexual awakening. Drawing on the rich heritage of erotica, Lost Girls is the rediscovery of the power of ecstatic writing and art in a sublime union that only the medium of comics can achieve. So there you have it. A cute owl for the kids, a coming of age story for the teens and a pretty graphic description of the unknown sides of fairy tale heroines. A pretty wide gamut of genres to appeal to just about any reader, young or old. Anything from Top Shelf Publishers is definitely worth buying for stocking your top shelf. Top Shelf Productions

Virginia Comicon

Comicons are all the rage these days, with San Diego Comic Con setting the precedent a while back. Then New York Comic Con came around and is slowly making a name for itself as the second largest Comic Con in the US annually. If you look further down the list of comicons you're sure to come across the Virginia Comicon, the self-proclaimed "biggest comic book show in the state of Virginia." Coming to the Crowne Plaza West in Richmond on Sunday November 23 is the show. Admission is $5 for most, but you can get in for $4 if you sign up for the mailing list. Why should you go? Well, Battlestar Galactica fans can get a free copy of the convention exclusive BSG comic. Said books were written by James Kuhoric, guest of honor at the show and 2007 Scream Award nominee for his writing talents showcased in Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash. Other guests include pencillers Randy Green and Jason Craig. So if you're in Virginia, no matter where you are you're pretty close to Richmond (unless you're out Wise way). $5 isn't bad at all. Virginia Comicon

Daniel Craig turned down Thor?

We are less than a month away from what looks to be the baddest ass James Bond movie yet in Quantum of Solace, which means that Daniel Craig is doing the requisite premiere rounds. As movie fans know not all questions aimed at the stars are directly tied to the movie in question. This very same incident recently happened to Craig, as he had to deflect a nasty rumor that he was approached to play Thor. IESB's Robert Sanchez recently brought the issue up with Craig at a premiere, and Craig flatly said that he had no interest in the role and had actually turned it down. His less than serious response was that playing Thor and Bond would be too much of a "power trip." So Craig was on Marvel's shortlist to play the man with the hammer. Why would he turn such a role down though is beyond me. I mean, I don't quite think its the role per se, as we've seen that comic book film roles have gained traction among actors as being reputable as long as the source material is adapted correctly. But what if Craig was really worried about Marvel's recent contract antics? There was the whole Jon Favreau debacle where Marvel wouldn't pay him the money to come back, and now Terrence Howard is updating a previous story by saying Marvel just ignored his contract when handing the role of War Machine over to Don Cheadle. And don't forget about the spat between Edward Norton and the producers of The Incredible Hulk when it came to creative control. Could Marvel be creating a bad reputation for itself when it comes to treatment of its actors? This is purely speculation on my part, but its definitely a theory that has seemingly gained ground as of late. Or Craig just might not have wanted to take the role. Daniel Craig turned down Thor?

Image looking for robots to populate Liquid City

Do you like to draw? Are you a fan of anthologies? Well good news! Image is looking for artists to submit their own robot designs for something epic! All you have to do is send in an illustration of your design for a robot by November 2. Winners will be notified on the Deviant Art website on November 5, and are up to win one of three signed copies of Liquid City for the grand prize - a page of original art from the story by Liew and Mike Carey, "Faces." Liquid City is a full-color 326-page anthology for $29.99 that will be in stores November 5th 2008. Full press release below.
PRESS RELEASE - DRAW YOUR OWN LIQUID CITY ROBOT AND WIN! Image Comics' upcoming anthology, Liquid City, holds contest for robot drawing artists!
16 October 2008 (Berkeley, CA) - To coincide with the upcoming LIQUID CITY anthology, editor Sonny Liew is inviting the artists of Deviantart.com to submit their own robot designs for the chance to win big! "The variety of robot designs is practically limitless," said editor Sonny Liew. "I hope we'll see lots of fun and interesting ones sent in for the contest." The LIQUID CITY Draw-A-Robot Contest is your chance to one of three signed copies of LIQUID CITY for the grand prize - a page of original art from the story by Liew and Mike Carey, "Faces." To enter, simply create and design an original robot - no fan art - and submit it by by November 2nd 2008 (EST). Winners will be notified on the Liew's DeviantArt journal on November, 5th. For more information and contest details, please see http://sonny123.deviantart.com/journal/20889602/. LIQUID CITY (SEP082215), a full-color 326-page anthology for $29.99, will be in stores November 5th 2008. Image Comics is a comics and graphic novels publisher formed in 1992 by a collective of best-selling artists. Since that time, Image has gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. There are currently five partners in Image Comics (Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, and Jim Valentino), and Image is currently divided into four major houses (Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline, and Image Central). Image comics and graphic novels cover nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable, offering science fiction, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor, and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today. Visit www.imagecomics.com.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Hidden S in Phone Booth

Welcome to "The Hidden S in Phone Booth." Your writer is Mark Rhodes, a man known within many magazine circles including The Christian Science Monitor, Opera and Wizard. He runs a site called the European Film Report that looks at the art of filmmaking, and will tackle whatever he feels like writing about (similar to Tedd in Hank McCoy (Before the Fur) except with less love of Dazzler). Review: The Joker by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo The Hidden S was lucky enough to get an advance copy of Joker, a new graphic novel by award winning writer Brian Azzarello (of 100 Bullets fame) that is a short, nasty and masterful piece of work (on sale on October 28-just in time for Halloween!). The Joker is hardly the only great villain in comics, but he is possibly the only one with the stand alone stature of some of the great comic heroes (Batman, Superman, etc). There is a kind of grandeur to him that is almost Biblical. For instance, it is hard to imagine many other villains having the allure and stature to carry off a graphic novel by themselves. This particular work explores the Joker from the perspective of a pedestrian ground level thug in Gotham named Johnny Frost. The story opens with Joker being released from Arkham and Frost picking him up. Needless to say, Joker is amused by Frost and Frost promptly gets in way over his head. The plot revolves around Joker’s attempts to reclaim Gotham and his main adversary is Two-Face/Harvey Dent. There are appearances by other members of Batman’s rouges gallery including Killer Croc, Harley Quinn and a radically re-designed Riddler. Joker mines much of the same material as the recent Dark Knight film. The Gotham in this book resembles the realistic, gritty sense of urban decay that was featured in the film. Artist Lee Bermejo's depiction of a grease-paint Joker seems quite consciously modeled on the Heath Ledger portrayal (even to the scars around his mouth). Physically, Batman seems to have also been modeled on Christian Bale’s appearance. Harvey Dent/Two Face also makes an appearance and the idea of Joker as an agent of chaos (which was a major theme of The Dark Knight) is a big part of author Azzarello’s work here. The themes explored in Joker are not new, as the idea of Joker as an arbitrary instrument of anarchy goes back at least to the 80’s with The Killing Joke. The interesting twists in this are the use of an observer to comment on the Joker, and, more interestingly, the very late appearance of the Batman (who is not summoned by the police but by Harvey Dent). Through three quarters of this work, the Batman is not mentioned or even hinted at. Suddenly, the Bat signal appears and Joker starts to talk about the “guy who has his hand on the rug” and only then does the Dark Knight make a dramatic appearance. The end of the book is real tragedy and there is no catharsis for the reader. Only the sense that Batman and the Joker will continue to battle in a personal war, a war that will never end. This work has created some fairly major buzz, but it is not a game changer the way Moore's Kiling Joke was. It does not have the wit or the ideas of Moore's work which made the Killing Joke such a landmark. It is a signal that this character has reached a kind of Shakespearean level of myth and interpretation; a signal that Ledger's performance is not the final word on the character; a signal that the Joker is a great canvas for superior creators such as Azzarello; and confirmation that this character is probably the greatest and most potent villain in the comics universe.

Ash celebrating Christmas

Ash has dealt with what some would consider way too much. The Necronomicon, countless wars and unruly customers at S-Mart. So you've got to want him to have some break, maybe in the form of a delightful holiday, such as Christmas. But even something like that proves to be an ordeal for Ash. Dynamite Comics recently issued a press release announcing Army of Darkness: Ash's Christmas Horror, a forty page one-shot by James Kuhoric and Dave Simons. Its Good Ash up against Evil Ash who is set out on ruining Christmas. No word on a release date just yet, and the above cover isn't even the final bit of art. But still, this has promise. "Ash's Christmas Horror isn't what you expect. Sure it has lots of Deadites, geysers of blood, and ridiculous situations, but it's much more than that. This story gives us a rare look at the human side of Ash, explains why he hates the holidays, and gives him a chance to find out if there is any room left in his hard heart for compassion. That and he ends up transformed into a one armed boomstick carrying Claymation holiday character. Merry freakin' Christmas, eh?" Wow. Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse for Ash they do. I for one am personally excited for this one-shot because it features Ash at Christmas. And of course there's the possibility that Santa will make an appearance, which always makes good theater. Stay tuned for more details as they're released.
ARMY OF DARKNESS: ASH'S CHRISTMAS HORROR "It's a blunderful life" for everyone's favorite big-chinned Chosen One Classic Artist Dave Simons Joins Dynamite's Army of Darkness!
Dynamite presents their first ever Christmas Special... this time with a twist as we send Ash on a Christmas adventure the likes of which the world has never seen! Will Evil Ash destroy Christmas? Can Good Ash stop Evil Ash from ruining Christmas? Is there really a Santa? Find it all out this December in a 40 page one-shot by writer James Kuhoric and classic Marvel artist Dave Simons! Everyone loves the holidays, right? Wrong! If you've ever worked S-Mart retail in December, you know it's a special hell filled with something worse than Deadites.... dumbass holiday shoppers. And when the Necronomicon gets a hold of some classic holiday entertainment, it send Ash through a voyage of twisted Christmas visions that beat him senseless and initiate something deeper in Ash. "It's a blunderful life" for everyone's favorite big chinned Chosen One and this year he's going to face something tougher than Deadite Santas and zombie elves. He'll find a piece of his soul that was swallowed long ago…. AoD Writer, Jim Kuhoric summed up his collaboration with Dave Simons and the upcoming AoD one-shot, "When the folks at Dynamite pitched their ideas for an Army of Darkness Holiday Special, I was excited to finally get to tell a different kind of story for Ash. Finding out that Dave Simons, who worked on Tomb of Dracula and Ghost Rider during their classic Marvel runs, would be doing the art was what really sealed the deal. Ash's Christmas Horror isn't what you expect. Sure it has lots of Deadites, geysers of blood, and ridiculous situations, but it's much more than that. This story gives us a rare look at the human side of Ash, explains why he hates the holidays, and gives him a chance to find out if there is any room left in his hard heart for compassion. That and he ends up transformed into a one armed boomstick carrying Claymation holiday character. Merry freakin' Christmas, eh?" And about the chance to work on AoD, artist Dave Simons exclaimed, "When Nicky first sent me a box o' comics to familiarize me with the Dynamite line, in amongst the Red Sonjas and Lone Rangers (great book, by the way) was Army of Darkness. I thought that AoD would be a fun book to work on and particularly suited to me with my experience in both horror (Tomb of Dracula, Ghost Rider) and humor (The Real Ghostbusters and many other animated shows). Little did I know I'd end up working on the AoD Holiday Special! This marks my return to print after several years of working in animation and I couldn't have picked a more appropriate project." "Dave work has graced comics work throughout the late '70's and '80's. He's been sorely missed from the comics market. As some pages have come in, we're proud to showcase them so that fans can appreciate and anticipate his comics return. We thank Dave for doing so with Dynamite!" stated president Nick Barrucci. ARMY OF DARKNESS: ASH'S CHRISTMAS HORROR (ONE SHOT) James Kuhoric (w), Dave Simons (a) Covers: Dave Simons DIAMOND ORDER CODE: OCT084041 ALSO AVAILABLE: ARMY OF DARKNESS: ASH'S CHRISTMAS HORROR (ONE SHOT) FOIL EDITION DIAMOND ORDER CODE: OCT084042 For art and more information please visit: http://www.dynamiteentertainment.com/htmlfiles/c-Army_of_Darkness.html