A short look at films influenced by comics and that then influenced comics... Not to be too obvious, but a lot of comics are being made into films at present. Many more are being optioned, properties major and minor bought and sold in the hopes that a star, director or studio might be onto the next big franchise. What then about the properties that started out as films and made it into the comics? There is a debate that I hear occasionally about what is a comic character or, more interestingly, what is a superhero. Is Jimmy Olsen a superhero? No? What about when he goes into the bottled city of Kandor and fights crime as Flamebird with Nightwing (Superman)? Is Indiana Jones a superhero, Snake Plissken? Luke Skywalker, Neo from the Matrix? No? Even though they have had their own comic series? Am I starting to sound like Ted and Brandon? Yes I am. So then, the idea and definition of a superhero is more complicated than it might appear. The analysis for this would be a great, nerdy mass of a topic for a college thesis and perhaps The Hidden "S" will tackle it one day on this publication. For now, here are some superheroes who started out in the cinema and found a life later in the comics. Star Wars It might be fair to say that the genesis of modern fanboy culture started with Star Wars in 1977. Sure there were earlier science fiction works that were influential, most notably 2001: A Space Odyssey released less than a decade before. Star Wars, however, has had the resonance of something like Gone With The Wind or The Wizard of Oz. Like these other films, watching it is not just a pleasurable experience but an almost religious experience. It is hard to remember today, but films would play in theaters for months if they had the audience. In this way, a film like Star Wars which played for months and months in many theaters managed to have a kind of religious effect on its audience by giving the gathered a collective experience. Picasso had an adage (which I am paraphrasing) that "Bad artists copy, great artists steal." It might be a stretch to call George Lucas a great artist, but steal he did; Star Wars is an amalgam of pop culture genres (western, sci-fi, sword and sorcery, Saturday morning serials, samurai films, fantasy lit and even British comedy). Lucas' ideas come from everywhere, including comic books. More than once has it been noted that Darth Vader and Doctor Doom have some noteworthy similarities. As with some other films on this list, the influence of sword and sorcery comics of the time like Heavy Metal also weighed heavily as an influence on Lucas' epic. Also, the idea of a deep mythology within a film reflected the history that some comics bear due to years and even decades of publication. Also, of the films on this list, Star Wars seems to have had the most "life" as a comic. It remains a strong performer for Dark Horse with a built in fan/collector base. I am no big fan of Star Wars (send your complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org!) but as I understand it great care has been taken to use the comics as a bridge to events in the Star Wars mythos, as a way to fill in gaps in the timeline before and after the films, etc. So, there is a sense of continuity about the canon and what the canon actually consists of. Echo Station Interview with Will Brooker Indiana Jones Indiana Jones, played by Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark is another great example of how Lucas/Spielberg were influenced by comics. The character is a bookish professor by day that moonlights as a rakish archaeologist between semesters. Professor Jones is not just any archaeologist either, he is ultimately enlisted by the US government to go after the mythic Ark of the Covenant which comprises the plot of the great first entry in the Indiana Jones series, Raiders of the Lost Ark from 1981. The main comic influences in the film are in the split personality of Professor Jones/Indiana Jones. The first sequence of the film introduces the character and we are shown his resourcefulness, skill and daring. Once this sequence is over, we see Professor Jones in his classroom complete with tweed suit, glasses and a noticeable softening of his demeanor. Seeing the film for the first time, this juxtaposition between man of action and academic is a shock. This divide, to me seems at least, seems somewhat influenced by the Clark Kent/Superman dynamic (complete with glasses). Lucas eventually went on to expand the biography of the character in the television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, which to me always seemed to be a kind of outgrowth of the “Year One” concept that was popularized with the Batman: Year One series. Snake Plissken The film Escape From New York is overtly comic in its premise: a superior ex-soldier by the name of Snake Plissken has to fly into New York, which is a prison, to rescue the President of the United States. Snake Plissken, the anti-hero of Escape From New York, is very much influenced by comics. Most notably another superior ex-soldier, Nick Fury. Plissken shares a give 'em hell attitude and, most notably, an eye patch with the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. This film's viewpoint of a rotted urban environment was picked up later in the decade by Tim Burton's first Batman film in 1989. Darkman Darkman from 1990 was a bit of a mainstream breakthrough for Sam Raimi. The Darkman film was an outgrowth of Raimi’s unsuccessful attempt to make a film adaptation of the pulp hero The Shadow. Raimi’s work has always been highly influenced by the comics and horror lit and this film was an interesting blend of the two. Darkman/Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson slumming it a bit) is a kind of combination of Dracula and Batman. The character is emotionally scarred like Bruce Wayne, but physically scarred and enhanced like Dracula or even Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The Matrix The Matrix from 1999 was possibly the most influential science fiction film of the 90s and its look influenced fashion, inspired a spike in martial arts enrollment and made Keanu Reeves into a genuine grown up movie star. The Wachowski Brothers film had the most revolutionary special effects in a film since the original Star Wars and seemed to channel some of the mind-blowing imagery of the original Heavy Metal comics as well as some of Jack Kirby’s later stuff like the New Gods creation where a fictional race co-existed with the Earth. The last two films of this trilogy were critically and commercially underwhelming, but the first remains something of a landmark due to its special effects and late millennium timeliness. When Neo/Reeves steps out of the phoneboth and hurtles into the sky it seems like a great Superman montage as well as a glimpse of what a Wachowski Superman film might have felt like. Of very current films, the Transporter series seems to have some real comic elements that have not been adapted to comics (as far as I know). A lot of current television like 24, X-Files, Buffy and Lost seems to be suitable for comics and some of these series have managed to have some success crossing over into the comic medium. There are some genuine advantages to go the film to comic route rather than the comic to film route. Mainly, there is no need to worry about buying a property when you can create it yourself (a problem in Hollywood where most of the artists need to copy because most are bad). Also, there is no potential for fanboy backlash with regard to casting because you are just casting a film and not trying to fill the role of Thor, Dr. Strange, Green Lantern,etc. etc. The Hidden "S"
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I am eagerly awaiting Iron Man 2, a sequel that should be worthy (if not better than) its predecessor. But where can Jon Favreau and the writers take the film? In an interview with MTV Splash Page, screenwriter Justin Theroux about where both characters Iron Man and Tony Stark could go. “The obvious thing to improve upon — well, it’s not even an improvement it’s just something to embrace — which is that he’s now a hero that lives in the real world. That’s unique,” Theroux said of Stark’s earth-shattering revelation at the end of the first film that he was Iron Man, making him the first-ever cinematic super without a secret identity. Its a very valid point made, in that this is really the first movie where the superhero has revealed their identity to the public. So the sequel could be quite interesting because typically you see two characters in one between the superhero persona and the actual person (or vice versa depending on which mask you actually think the person is wearing). But with this sequel we should see a blending of the two characters, as Robert Downey, Jr. will pretty much be firing on all cylinders in every aspect of the movie. Iron Man 2 all about identity
Bankshot Comics has another great free comic for your perusal online called Invisible, Inc. The portion online is the first chapter of the "Yellow Journalism" arc, and is written by Hannibal Goes to Rome scribes Brendan McGinley and Thomas Aira. The work seems to be a sort of treatise on journalism and how it covers the world, with some superheroes thrown in for good measure. The art is pretty interesting, as its a mix somewhere between cartooning and CGI almost. The first issue is pretty rad, and I would highly recommend checking it out if you have the time. Invisible, Inc.
Times are tough these days. The housing market is collapsed, the auto industry is on the brink and next we have to contend with a credit card crisis. So yeah, lots of people are being stingy with their discretionary spending. That being said, Top Cow has made a couple of executive decisions that may help your wallet. The first was the earlier announcement that they will maintain their comics pricing at $2.99 for the entire year of 2009. Now, they want to win you over with an even better proposition: free comics! Now I know you're thinking that there is Free Comic Book Day, which is true. But as part of this initiative, Top Cow will send 200 free comics each to 25 comic book stores per month (a total of 5,000 free comics per month) in a variety of different geographies and demographics. When combined with the planned giveaway for FCBD, that's nearly 200,000 free comics Top Cow will be giving away in 2009! “We feel strongly that Top Cow titles are the best they’ve ever been and it’s important for to invite readers and retailers to discover why,” explained Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik. “While our competitors are straining the wallet of the average fan, Top Cow is making it easy to try new comics.” The full press release is below.
TOP COW TO GIVE AWAY TENS OF THOUSANDS OF FREE COMICS IN 2009 ‘LET US WIN YOU OVER’ INITIATIVEInnovative, new program will give away free Top Cow comics through participating retailers across the United States and Canada LOS ANGELES, Calif., December 29, 2008 – Top Cow Productions, Inc. announced today it will launch the Let Us Win YOU Over initiative in February 2009 that will see the publisher distribute thousands of free comics a month to new readers through participating retailers across the United States and Canada. Over the course of the yearlong promotion, Top Cow will send 200 free comics each to 25 comic book stores per month (a total of 5,000 free comics per month). Each month, a different set of stores, each month a different free comic. The stores will be spread out geographically and demographically. Combined with the books it plans to give away during Free Comic Book Day on May 2, 2009 and the many books Top Cow gives away at various conventions across the country, the publisher stands to give away up to 200,000 free comics during the year. Top Cow’s goal with the Let Us Win YOU Over initiative is threefold: to invite new readers to give Top Cow comics a try and win them over to their line of titles; to generate buzz and excitement for fans and the retailers they support; and to pump some much-needed energy into an industry not immune to the current economic crisis. “We feel strongly that Top Cow titles are the best they’ve ever been and it’s important for to invite readers and retailers to discover why,” explained Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik. “While our competitors are straining the wallet of the average fan, Top Cow is making it easy to try new comics.” So as to not slight existing readers who are already buying Top Cow titles, the publisher will also ship each participating store exclusive Customer Appreciation covers for each subscriber of that month’s free comic. It will be limited exclusively to the subscriber fans at the participating stores for that month. Top Cow initially opened the Let Us Win YOU Over program to members of the comics retailer group, ComicsPRO, because of the organization’s commitment to banding together to ensure a strong and healthy retailer community. “ComicsPRO retailers are eager to support this innovative promotion, with the hope of proving that new ideas can lead to new readers for quality titles,” said ComicsPRO President Joe Field. “Our mutual goals with this program are to expose thousands of new eyes to Top Cow's singular brand of comics and to lead more readers to enjoying Top Cow comics and buying them from ComicsPRO member stores.” “Our stores always looks for great ways to promote comics and connect readers to new stories they might not have given a second thought to before in the past,” said Michael Malve, owner of Arizona-based chain Atomic Comics and a member of ComicsPRO. “So when we heard of this very progressive marketing idea that Top Cow was coming up with, well, let’s just say we were one of the first to dive in.” “We at Atomic Comics have worked hand in hand with many publishers over our 22 years in the business,” Malve added. “And in that time, Top Cow has been one of the easiest to work with. They have always made themselves available to retailers and listened to our concerns, as most recently noted in their $2.99 in 2009 announcement. I really look forward to this promotion and I hope other retailers embrace and take full advantage of a great opportunity that Top Cow is offering us with their Let us Win YOU Over campaign.” Retailers who are not members of ComicsPRO and are interested in participating will be able to sign up through their Diamond Comics Distributors customer service representative in the next several weeks.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
In addition to my pick of the week for new arrivals, Defense With the BoomStick writer Brandon has decided to make his own pick. Two picks are always better than one, and now you have two for this week. Enjoy. Hey everyone it’s me again, your good pal Brandon. I'm not bringing you the tip of the week today as that was yesterday, but I am choosing my pick of the week for new comic book day. Nowadays there are some many different storylines and arcs going on in all the major franchise superheroes (and even the independent ones as well) and sometimes it is a bit much to try and follow them all. One of the storylines that I have been following since being introduced this past summer is the Old Man Logan series that starts with Wolverine #66 and is set 50 years in the future (after all the other superheroes have been eliminated or retired and all the remaining supervillains rule the world). Even the United States has been divided up amongst the supervillains into their own different areas. Each area is independently ran: one by the Hulk Gang, another is the land formerly ran by Magneto and Red Skull is the new President of the United States. Other parts of the US are run by other greats of the past and the land is also slowly being devoured by the Moloids. What sets this story off is Logan is a simple family man and has sworn to never draw his claws or ever act in violence again. He has a small farm out in what is left of California that is run by the descendants of Hank Banner, now known as the Hulk Gang. Logan becomes behind on his rent to the Hulk Gang and to get enough to pay them off for a good while he agrees to be the eyes for fellow friend Hawkeye, who is now blind. The two depart on a trip cross country to deliver something that, as of right now, is unknown. With the use of a specialized vehicle known as the Spider-mobile they began their journey to deliver this mystery package and along the way you slowly learn more about what happened to Logan and why he has renounced violence. As you see Hawkeye kicking ass Logan hangs back and only gets involved when he has to save Hawkeye’s life (without drawing those claws). In the issue coming out this week, Wolverine #70, we finally get to find out what happened to Logan 50 years ago that made him who he is today. What was so horrible that caused him to forgo violence for good? Each issue of this series is written smartly and with a bit of humor in them, but not without a bit of sadness about them when you realize that there are no more superheroes. I recommend picking up the back issues and catching up on this series as after this one comes out there will only be three more issues to go that finalize the Old Man Logan series.
Apparently superheroes are closer to us than you think. Enter the World Superhero Registry, a site that allows you to register yourself and your powers for all the world to see. Granted, this wreaks havoc on your ability to lead a costumed, crime fighting life without villains knowing who you love to use against you. But still, you now have a venue to express your superhero, crime fighting urges. And with no Superhero Registration Act to hold you down! Boing Boing has a great summary of the heroes as written about in The Rolling Stone and Times Online. My favorite descriptor is the below: "The Real rules are simple. They must stand for unambiguous and unsponsored good. They must create their own Spandex and rubber costumes without infringing Marvel or DC Comics copyrights, but match them with exotic names – Green Scorpion in Arizona, Terrifica in New York, Mr Xtreme in San Diego and Mr Silent in Indianapolis." I think Mr. Silent was following me last week while I was in Indianapolis. I didn't hear a thing. World Superhero Registry
I honestly can't say I didn't see this coming. According to the Associated Press, 20th Century Fox will attempt to delay the March 6 release of Watchmen. Last week Judge Gary Feess ruled that Warner Brothers infringed on Fox's copyright for the movie. A trial is still planned on being held on January 20 to sort this whole mess out, but I'm guessing at this point Fox won't even settle for the truckloads of money WB is willing to back up and dump in Fox's front yard. The only way I can see this ending happily with the planned March 6, 2009, release is by Warner Brothers splitting some revenues with Fox. I don't see Fox coming out totally on top in this, mainly due to the sheer badwill they're generating because of this lawsuit. My guess is (and this has been my guess the whole time), is that WB will give Fox X% of the distribution profits as opposed to a lump sum and hopefully allow the film to be released.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Well it’s that time again already isn't it. Time for me to get on the radio and get you fine people out there what is going on with me, the world and my tip for the week (and something to listen to besides the undead moaning all the time). First off for news. It seems that the stronghold in Bavaria (once known as the Eagle's nest...yup Hitler’s stronghold), is hanging in there and doing quite well, mostly because of its isolation and tough route of access. Also, much of Austria and Switzerland are hanging in there, mostly due to their geographical nature up in the mountains and the fact that zombies can’t survive in extreme colds (if it is cold enough they can and will freeze making disposing of them real easy). For us here in the good old Americas it seems most of the mentioned before safe zones are still holding. I will list them again if this is the first time hearing my broadcast: West Virginia, northern Maine, Florida Keys, Cuba, northernmost parts of Canada, western parts of Alaska and most of the rural northern states. What I am going to go over today is about a list of alternative weapons that you might come across that you might think would work, but in the most part are sometimes to hard to find or to just plain use. First off, I'm gonna address training animals to fight zombies for you, which could work but in the end never does. The best bet you can get out of training animals is to train dogs to let you know when zombies are around, but pretty much all other animals avoid zombies at all cost so this sort of warfare is out. The most common weapon that police officers carry today is the taser, which was great for taking down a too drunk partygoer back in the day, but won’t work based on simple physical nature. With their muscular system and not being able to feel pain it is possible to stun a zombie with a lot more voltage then a real person, but they wouldn’t realize they were being stunned with the normal amount. If you are able to get fallen power lines to hit the zombie then yes that will kill the zombie, but to find places with power to do that now is hard to do so pointless to try. Next are acids, which work great for melting and dissolving stuff but takes forever to take down a walking zombie bearing down on you. I would suggest using it to clean up an area but not as a first line of defense. Now making homemade napalm can work well which falls under the fire category as it burns long and destroys whatever it touches. Bombs do some damage when done right but mostly blow parts off and sometimes don’t deliver that kill you need. That is it for today (gonna keep it short and sweet), as Im just not in the mood to talk too much today. Plus, one of the members of that family I had here with accidentally fell over the wall and was pounced upon instantly. I tried to do the best I could and not let them suffer much, but I still feel bad for their loss and what happened. So this is Brandon signing off and until next week stay safe and keep surviving.
And what might that gift be? One of the great writers known as Grant Morrison. Morrison has been added to the show as a guest of honor, which means that if you come across a booth that seems more crowded than the rest of the show, chances are its him doing a signing. Morrison joins a veritable who's who of comic icons at the show, including both forms of Kuberts (Adam and Andy), Brian Michael Bendis, Bruce Timm and Camen Infantino among others. The show should be just as stellar as year's past, so be sure to grab your tickets if you haven't already. Grant Morrison added to NY Comic Con as Guest of Honor
Poised to be one of the biggest films of 2009 and hopefully an epic sequel to what was a surprisingly good film in Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has quite a bit of hype. So any new news that comes out about the film is just awesome, including set photos. Empire Magazine has the above as the cover of their latest 2009 Preview Feature magazine, in addition to the below shots from shooting in Cairo. Basically, they feature Shia LeBeouf and Megan Fox, flying cars and explosions. Yeah, that sounds about right for the sequel, due in theaters (and IMAX!) June 26, 2009.
Lost in the hubbub that was Christmas and the holidays in general was a tragic passing the the comic book world. Eartha Kitt passed away Thursday, December 25 at the age of 81 as a result of cancer. In tribute to her passing, The Hidden S in Phone Booth writer Mark has written the below. Please read, and send your condolences to the Kitt family. She was Purrrfect...Eartha Kitt 1927-2008 There aren't a lot of entertainers like Eartha Kitt anymore. Not so much an actress as a performer, Ms. Kitt started out as a dancer in Europe in the late 40s and eventually worked her way into the first ranks of show business after World War II. Orson Welles, one of a long line of appreciative male admirers proclaimed her "The Most Exciting Woman Alive." This was a fair point, but Kitt's ironic sexual hauteur and the "show must go on" persona allowed for a long career in film, television, Broadway and as a recording artist. Her career had some ups and downs (most notably, she experienced a downturn in popularity and bookings when she famously criticized the Johnson administration's Vietnam policy to Lady Bird Johnson's face). Kitt was also one of the first mainstream African-American sex symbols. Much of this is based on her turn as Catwoman in the legendary Batman series in the late 80s. She replaced the physically impressive Julie Newmar as Catwoman when Newmar was making a film. She only played the character in three episodes but if Kitt had walked on the moon she would still be best known as one of three glorious women who impressively filled out the lycra of Catwoman and stoked the libido of male baby boomers who were discovering the mysteries of the opposite sex. Kitt struck serious sparks with the wonderfully wooden Adam West, in particular the episode Dressed to Kill (typical dialgoue to Robin: "She may be evil, but she is attractive. You'll know more about that in a couple of years.") where, in a particularly kinky, subtext heavy plot point, she managed to capture and tie up Batgirl. Kitt saw a late career surge around the age of 50 and managed to maintain her sex symbol status well into her 70s. Despite Emmy awards, Tony and Grammy nominations her work as Catwoman remains the touchstone with regard to her popularity and persona. Her influential style of performance has informed many an over the top actress including Uma Thurman in Batman and Robin, Angelina Jolie in Wanted and (naturally) Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns.
Friday, December 26, 2008
I hate Christmas. Really, I do. I mean, I know some of you out there are saying “Oh, I get it, I have a stressful family too buddy.” But I mean I’ve begun to hate Christmas on it's own merits as well. It's just been this slow burn where I hate Christmas more and more every year. But then I thought to myself- why should I be the only one with all this angst on Christmas? Like any good scrooge, I should share the misery, right? So I present to you the laundry list of comic books that I hate. For years I have walked through comic book stores and sneered at these titles and their many (nowadays, very many) brethren. You can think of this column as “The ghost of comic books past, present, and future that I can’t stand” if that helps. Let the pain begin! (Blank): The Movie: The Comic Book Adaptation - …I don’t get it. Who buys this? Why do they buy it? Can they not afford to go see the movie? Or maybe they feel like they need to slow stuff down? More likely they’re one of those OCD-esque collectors who has every piece of material goods ever made for a single licensed concept, like Star Wars, or Transformers, or whatever, shoved in some storage bin outside of their house. Rest assured, if they manage to form some kind of personal, satisfying relationship they will insist to their spouse that they have a “theme wedding” in keeping with their licensed obsession. This may range from the blushing bride wearing an authentic piece of clothing worn by Carrie Fisher or Natalie Portman and sold on ebay, to inviting the voice-actors from 80s cartoon shows to conduct the wedding. At least, I suspect as much. I’ve never been. I’m going to school for psychology and I look forward to working with the children of such couples. (Blank): The Movie Prequel - Okay, DON’T be that guy. The guy who goes out and reads this comic, and then when you’re in the movie theater with your friends and you see one character or another say something, you turn to them in the middle of the movie and you’re all like: “OOOHHH, see, you gotta read the comic, because the character who just said that met with expanded universe character X, Y, and Z just before this movie got started….” and so on. Do you really think the director of this movie was corresponding with whatever Jack-Kirby-school-intern got the assignment to write or draw this comic? Like do you think the director is sitting there with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt or something, saying “okay, I just had my face-to-face conference with the comic book writer of the prequel, so really, we need to make the following script changes…” The Wachowski brothers, George Lucas- maybe. Other than that? Please. T and A books - Oh, you know the ones I’m talking about. There are so many these days. I’m not going to name names, lest I insult the delicate sensibilities of many companies. Usually, comic books and sexual frustration go together hand in hand. There are, however, gross limits within which such phenomenon should occur. Here are a couple of things I’ve learned from T and A books, though-
- Men are either sadistic predators, or total losers. There is no in-between.
- All women, everywhere, dress and act like pornstars. Literally, all of them. Also, all women, everywhere, have an amazing rack and wear clothing that emphasizes cleavage.
- Ultimately, women are not attracted to men because women are all bi-curious. Women are ten times more likely to survive a combat situation than men are.
Have you picked up your NY Comic Con tickets yet? If not, you better get on over there and get them. But if you have, and you want some friends to go to the event with you than what better way than to send them an Evite! Evites are the all the rage with the kids these days, and now Medium at Large (the official NY Comic Con blog) is giving you the chance to send an evite to your friend to get them on board. You can choose one of four options to send to your friends that may be on the fence to get them invited and going to the convention. And if you really want me to (and you ask real nicely), I'll be more than happy to send you an Evite. Because I'm going! Are you? New York Comic Con 2009 Evites
...20th Century Fox. That's right kids. According to an article in the NY Times, judge Gary A. Feess ruled that 20th Century Fox owns at least a copyright interest in the big-screen adaptation of The Watchmen, dealing a pretty damaging blow to Warner Brothers, and possibly eager fans. “Fox owns a copyright interest consisting of, at the very least, the right to distribute the ‘Watchmen’ motion picture,” the ruling said. Yikes. Obviously, the judge made no mention as to if and how this affects the impending March 6 release of the film (and why would he). But it does lead to quite a few questions, with the most important one being is whether we can expect to see this film released at all. Warner Brothers was banking on this film as one of their two 2009 "tentpoles" of the year, and if they can't distribute this its going to wreak havoc on their financials. Beyond that, if Fox and WB are fighting over releasing the film, we may not see it released in March at all. And at that point, its anyone's guess as to when we can expect to see the film. On the positive side, the judge did rule that Fox and WB should move towards a settlement so that the film does get released. I'm doubting that the two studios are going to come together quickly and get this settled so we can see the film. Here's hoping that something can be resolved, and we can all be in IMAX theaters on March 6 to see a film adaptation of one of the most prolific graphic novels of all time. Judge rules rights to The Watchmen belong to Fox
"That there is the spirit." "God bless him." The exchange is rife with symbolism, both figuratively and literally. It can be read as The Spirit, Denny Colt, being a religious symbol, or it can be read as Colt being the actual spirit of Central City. And that's what makes that statement so sweeping, because it fully encompasses his character in relation to the city he protects, as well as within the context of the movie The Spirit. Spoilers are ahead, so you've been warned. Going into the film I was half expecting to see a semi-sequel to Sin City, in that I fully expected Frank Miller to make this film just as gory with a just as semi-coherent story. I'm delighted to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the end result, as this may be Miller's finest work as a director/film writer. Granted, his resume isn't quite that extensive as of yet, but this film may be to his burgeoning film career what The Dark Knight Returns was to his comic writing career, that sort of watershed moment we all hope for as professionals in any fields. The best part about this movie is that it took itself seriously without taking itself too seriously. Allow me to explain. The film briefly touches on the backstory of The Spirit, explaining how he came to be as a result of a shooting while on patrol and his subsequent deal with Lorelai, otherwise known as Death. The origin is very Spawnlike, as throughout the film Lorelai is constantly trying to finish claiming his soul as her own, as Colt has this effect on women in that they are instantly seduced by his charm. This is never really explained, but every woman he encounters is rapidly seduced and falls in love with him. He began his life of seduction with Sand Seref (the incredibly hot and perfectly bodied Eva Mendes) who was his first girlfriend in youth. When her dad (a cop) was killed in a misunderstanding, Seref vowed to leave Central City and never return (turning to a life of crime), while Colt became the Spirit and fought crime. The dichotomous paths they chose to take were completely opposite, however intersected at the end of the film. With some of the origin out of the way, we follow the Spirit as he leaves his cat-filled apartment (the cats most likely being there to ward off Death) as he comes upon a deal gone wrong between Sand Seref and the Octopus, played perfectly by Samuel L. Jackson. It wasn't quite a deal between the two of them, however they were both there at the same time, each for different reasons. Serif was there for the Golden Fleece (for the human like of the bling), while Octopus was there for the Blood of Herocles (for the godlike desire of immortality). The deal of course goes awry, with Spirit tracking the both of them down to discover what really happened and what they're really after. He finally figures out that it is Octopus that is behind it all, but only after learning that his ability was created by Octopus and that the two of them are the same. The power is never fully explained, but it is implied that the two of them have extreme healing capabilities. This is a point of contention for Octopus, as he wants more in the ability to be immortal (from the Blood of Herocles). The end result is a ferocious gunfight that finishes with a rocket launcher and grenade to the face of Octopus, ending his bid for immortality. In his quest to discover the truth, Spirit encounters numerous women that he has dealt with in the past, as well as one that he is dealing with in the present in Dr. Ellen Dolan. Dolan loved Colt before he was killed, and is unaware that he is now the Spirit. But she continues to mend him (despite his healing abilities) because of some sense of duty. Dolan is also the daughter of the police commissioner that Colt came to after being revived, offering his services to him as the Spirit, a man who would not have to obey the law but could still fight crime. And I'd be remiss not to mention the always lovely Scarlett Johansson in her role as Silken Floss, the righthand woman to Octopus. Her character is actually the most serious in the entire film, but the way that she presents hereself ends being the most comedic. The interplay between Spirit and just about every female character adds a lightness to the film, but the writing overall was stylish and witty. It was a sort of crime noir with a little bit of comedy thrown in for good measure, which worked really well. At the beginning of the film you're not quite sure which time period to peg the film, as the environment makes you think maybe the 1920s, but then you see them whip out the slider cell phones that do video and you know its more modern day. But this works. And the shots aren't quite dripping with the same unique color variations that Sin City had, as it seems that more of it was actually filmed (although I'm sure there was still a ton of green screen work). The Spirit is really well defined by Colt's character. Trapped between the world of the living and death, Colt is forever roaming the streets of Central City trying to save those most in need of help. But despite the seemingly deep symbolism, the movie was lighthearted enough in its delivery that it was never too deep. Miller made it fun and action-packed at the same time. Definitely one of, if not the, Miller's best films, The Spirit is a great film that packs a colorful and witty punch. Check it out, and be pleased. Overall score: 85 out of 100
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Omnicomic is in the giving spirit today and would like to extend warmest wishes for a safe and happy Christmas. That being said, there will be no posting today, except for a review of The Spirit later on tonight (most likely tomorrow though). I'd also like to announce the promotion of Brandon and Mark to writers, instead of contributors. Heres to hoping the new year brings more zombie tips from Defense With the BoomStick, and more hatred from Teri Hatcher fans for The Hidden S in Phone Booth. Happy holidays from Omnicomic!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
The History of Will Eisner's The Spirit... In 1939 newspapers felt the need to compete with the growing popularity of comic books. Many comic editors knew this; among them Everett Arnold a publisher of Quality Comics. Arnold made presentations to various newspapers around this time and thus started the newspaper strips that gave birth to a parallel line of comic superheroes like The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician and Flash Gordon. Among the first creators in this group was Will Eisner, a talented, but then unknown, artist grinding out anonymous work with a small studio whose character "The Spirit" grew out of this development. Eisner was quoted about the creation of The Spirit: “I wanted to write better things than superheroes. Comic books were a ghetto… They wanted a heroic character, a costumed character. They asked me if he’d have a costume. And I put a mask on him (The Spirit) and said, ‘Yes, he has a costume.’” The Spirit is one of the most oddball characters in comic fiction. For one, he is a rarity in that he doesn’t really have a secret identity. He was Denny Colt, who is “killed” in the first few pages of the initial Spirit strip. His “death” was merely suspended animation caused by arch-villain Dr. Cobra. Awakening in Wildwood Cemetery, Colt takes on the persona of The Spirit (shaking off his old civilian persona) and begins a crusade of fighting crime from his base in the cemetery. Another thing that makes The Spirit unique is that he is a true middle-class superhero. He is not wealthy (Batman, Green Arrow), royalty (Aquaman, Wonder Woman) or an alien (Superman, Martian Manhunter). His “death” seems to transfer some kind of supernatural powers on him that Eisner doesn’t spell out, but is evidenced by a sudden development of exceptional skills and resources on every level. Despite these skills, The Spirit is often thrashed, thwarted and often tied up before turning the tables on the antagonists. Most interesting is the place of sex in The Spirit. The Spirit’s primary love interest is Ellen Dolan, daughter of benevolent Police Commissioner Dolan. However, the early years of The Spirit are riddled with femme fatales (Sand Seref, Silk Satin, Autumn Mews) who tempt, beguile and wreak havoc on this character. There was a tradition of burlesque and pin-up illustration during this time (with many illustrators moving back and forth between the two) that Eisner taps into with his buxom, under-dressed babes who are exhibited in poses that are blatantly, and comically lascivious. This presence of a femme fatale also points to another influence of and on Eisner’s creation which is the American Detective story personified by such Masters as Hammett (The Maltese Falcon) and Chandler (The Big Sleep). This type of story was wildly popular, but not considered as anything significant or artful. The pulp detective stories in such anthologies as Black Mask helped influence some of the comics/superheroes. Batman’s detective abilities were often highlighted early in his career and this is almost certainly a direct influence of writers like Chandler and Hammett. The femme fatale is a staple of these stories and Bob Kane even gave Batman one in Selina Kyle who started as a non-costumed antagonist, but who of course eventually morphed into the superhero/super villain Catwoman. Underlining this parallel further was the Spirit’s outfit which was and is also much more along the lines of a private eye’s stereotypical costume with his suit, fedora and brogues. (The trailer for the film pays tribute to this connection by emphasizing the Spirit's voiceover: "What are you?" That's what the woman asked me. Am I some sort of ghost? I still move. I still breathe. I'm still alive" -This is stuff straight out of Chandler and the Bogart/Mitchum film noir classics). Along these lines, yet another unique aspect of The Spirit character is the fact that it was written with more of an adult audience in mind. At the time, comics were kids stuff and considered low art at best (as is evidenced by Eisner’s interest in getting out of the comic book game). Comics in newspapers were read by kids, but adults were the main audience for newspapers and there was a difference in many of the strips as a result. Themes and imagery from hard boiled fiction drove The Spirit’s narrative. These ideas would be familiar to adult readers, but mostly unfamiliar to younger readers of the time. This level of adult sophistication was also very influential as The Spirit might be one of the earliest superhero comics written with an adult audience in mind. Eisner's strip also helped some major comic creators get their start: Joe Kubert, Jack Cole (Plastic Man) and Jules Fieffer all worked on the strip (most notably During WWII where the Strip was mostly "ghosted" by Eisner's assistants. The Spirit was pretty much kaput by the early 50's but the 60's and 70's saw the strip being re-printed by various comic press operations like Harvey Comics and Warren Publishing. Kitchen Sink Press began reprinting the entire Post WWII Eisner series in the 1980s and also published original Spirit works in the 1990s with contributions by comic heavyweights like Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and Paul Pope. The work of Kitchen Sink Press helped not only keep the Spirit alive (so to speak) but laid some of the groundwork for the characters' revival. In the early-mid 2000s, DC began publishing Eisner's Spirit works as part of its Archive edition series. These works helped revive Eisner's character and helped elevate his already lofty reputation (the premiere comic awards are known as "The Eisner's"). More importantly, it spurred a whole new DC Spirit series most notably helmed by Darwyn Cooke (the comic creator at present who is most stylistically in debt to Eisner). Eisner's most interesting and influential work in The Spirit was in his use of paneling to tell a story. I saw an interview with him late in his career and he explained that with the newspaper strips there was never anyway to tell how much space would be available for his strip (due to shortages in World War II for instance). As a result, it forced him to use all of his creativity to tell a story in a few (or many panels). Eisner's openings for his stories are especially striking and vivid. One of THS's favorites (and one of Eisner's most famous) involves gangsters tearing up a secret message on a bridge and tossing the shards of paper over the bridge. As the tattered paper drifts down, the torn pieces reconfigure into the title: THE SPIRIT. Before you think all of Eisner's work is filled with pioneering work and accolades, there is a particularly problematic aspect of Eisner's work on The Spirit, and that is the character of Ebony White, who acts as a sidekick/driver to The Spirit. This black character was initially portrayed as a complete racial stereotype and presents a thorny issue in assessing the work of Eisner. To Eisner's credit, the character of Ebony evolved during the run of The Spirit and Eisner also introduced black characters who were not caricatured like a detective named Grey in the course of the series. Oddly enough, Eisner never seemed to get a lot of flack about this character from African-American leaders or interest groups. Darwyn Cooke's contemporary work on the Spirit includes this character, but he has been updated to be a reliable operative for The Spirit rather than a character of broad, offensive comic relief. Eisner's later years were devoted to more serious projects, most notably his Contract With God comic which is a landmark work in the history of graphic novels due to its serious themes involving culture and religion. He also taught and lectured at the School of the Visual Arts in New York and wrote an interesting, influential book called Comics as Sequential Art about the art of storytelling through comics. Despite all of Eisner's contributions, his character of The Spirit remains his great achievement and definitely most beloved achievement. There is more than a touch of irony in the fact that Eisner was reluctant to work on comic books early in his career, but managed to create one of the most memorable superheros of the 20th century. Omnicomic fans and THS groupies: The Hidden S wishes you a Merry Chri(s)tma(s)! and Happy Hanukkah!
With tomorrow being Christmas and all, Omnicomic is definitely getting into the Christmas spirit. Earlier I brought you four clips from Hulk Vs., emphasizing that knockdown, dragout action that only the Hulk can bring. But the animated carnage doesn't stop there! Below is the first four minutes from the upcoming Feb 3, 2009 DVD release from Eagle One Media. The movie is based on the Street Fighter comic of the same name, and should be a good time. Ryu and Ken set out to investigate the murder of their martial arts master. Their search for answers takes them to Japan where M. Bison and his assorted minions including Cammy, Vega, and Sagat keep a close eye on Ryu for reasons unknown. This draws the attention of up and coming Hong Kong Interpol agent Chun-Li and US Special Ops officer Guile who each bears their own personal grudge against the evil Shadaloo syndicate. Enjoy!
January 27, 2009 can't get here fast enough for those Hulk fans. That's the day Hulk Vs., the animated superbrawl featuring the Green Goliath hits stores. But to hold you over this last month until the film releases, here are four clips for your enjoyment.
If you're not one of the hundreds that have rushed out to pick up your copy of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (I'm sure there are more than that, but Tedd only counts for one), Midway is hosting a contest where you can win a copy. The sweepstakes asks only that you enter your email, date of birth and cell phone for text updates, and the possibilities for prizes are endless...well, at least to third place. One grand prize winner will receive a piece of custom comic book art, a one-year subscription to your choice of three DC titles, the absolute edition of Batman: The Long Halloween and of course, a copy of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe Kollector's Edition. Five first prize winners will receive a copy of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe Kollector's Edition, ten second prize winners will get a standard copy of the game, and fifteen third prize winners will get a Midway T-shirt and poster. Good times. So head on over, drop your name in the proverbial Internet hat and hope you win. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The pick this week is a continuation of a TV show in comic book form called Farscape #1. Rockne O'Bannon continues the Sci-Fi favorite in a comic at the end of the Peacekeeper Wars. Fans of the show (or those that want a new comic to read) can find out what happens to John Crichton, Aeryn Sun, Rygel, Chiana and the rest of the Moya crew. If that's not a fun sounding crew I really don't know what is. Enjoy! New Arrivals: December 24, 2008
Here we are the day before the day before Christmas, which would be a good time to inform you of some of the comics due in stores tomorrow. In addition to my pick, Defense With the BoomStick writer Brandon has decided that Christmas needs a little more of the undead, and has made the below recommendation for his pick of the week. I previously looked at this book a while back, so be sure to check both previews out to get two takes on it. Okay folks tomorrow is new comic book day, which for every comic book aficionado out there is a great day (even though it is Christmas Eve we still get those fresh off the printing presses new comics). What’s not to love about the following day, considering everyone has the day off as well so that means tons of time to read all your new comics and play with those shiny Dark Knight toys you get for Christmas as well. But back to my pick for the new arrivals. You may say it is a bit biased of a pick but how could you not love it when it involves Bruce Campbell? He is a legend among legends when it comes to battling the undead, Xena, Freddy, Jason and so many others that even the Marvel Zombies want to try and take a bite out of our hero. And now it seems even the holiday spirit is out to get the lovable S-Mart employee in this one-shot comic simply called Army of Darkness: Ash's Christmas Horror. For all of you comic book readers out there who have worked retail during the holiday season, you know the pains and the woes that Ash, as an S-Mart employee feels in dealing with the angry customers trying to find that one gift. But that one thing you have never had to deal with is when the Necronomicon gets involved. Short of battling evil undead elves and a Deadite Santa, Ash battles through a fairy tale of Christmas stories that lead him on a journey to rediscover a part of him long forgotten and swallowed ages ago. Can Ash rediscover his lost Christmas spirit and save the day for everyone? Or will he be cast forever down in pain and torment for not believing? Be sure to pick up this issue when it comes out tomorrow to find out exactly how it all goes down and how it all ends.
"I AM THE LAW!" is a phrase that resonates in your head when you think of either Sylvester Stallone or Judge Dredd. Whether that's a positive or a negative resonation is up to you, but I'm guessing that most people weren't too keen on the film. That won't stop Rebellion and 2000 AD from giving the ok for a second incarnation of the film, the latest in the series of trendy franchise reboots. According to the 2000AD forum, DNA Films (Sunshine and 28 Weeks Later) will produce the film starting in 2009. Jason Kingsley, CEO and Creative Director said, "We can’t give away too many details at this point, but we’re looking forward to working with DNA Films to bring Judge Dredd back to the big screen." So, be excited or saddened accordingly. And don't expect Sly Stallone to reprise his role, as I'm sure the folks behind the film want to go in a different direction and disassociate itself with the first one. Judge Dredd film greenlit
Monday, December 22, 2008
Hey hey hey. How’s it going out there to all my faithful and fanatical listeners (or to those people who got nothing but me to listen to I say hello and how goes it?). This is Brandon here, your resident zombie expert and fellow survivor in this zombie world doing what I need to make sure I make it and what I can to help others make it as well. Cause hell, we all need someone to talk to and to repopulate the planet when we do take it back. Not much new is going on at my place besides winter being here, which is a blessing for us since zombies do freeze if it is cold enough and it also slows them down even more than usual so if you are being pursued by zombies they are more easily eluded. Plus if it is really cold outside it makes the shattering of the skull easier as they are more frozen then usual. On the worldwide news front haven’t heard anything remarkably new. It seems that most of the safe zones and strongholds I have reported about before are still going strong, and in the United States I have been hearing and seeing less and less of the bandit and marauder groups so I think that the Midwest is getting safe. But still take care when out in unsafe zones and just when out in general in the open. To the tip the of the week as I want to get back to my reading and needing to clean my guns (its been awhile and they've been seeing less use lately, which that is a little extra tip itself: when able to take care to clean and service your guns as you don’t want them jamming up on you cause you forget to swab the barrel or swipe dirt out of the trigger housing ya know?). Today I'm going to discuss the use of fire. Now in most circumstances fire is never really a good choice to use as a weapon as once you let it loose you can’t control what it burns, where it goes or what it does as fire is uncontrollable. Now when you are disposing of a zombie body or pile of zombies then yes, fire is your best bet to get rid of their corpses, and in that case you want to do it or if you have a bunch of zombies gathered at a certain point around your wall and your wall is not flammable then dousing them in something flammable and lighting them on fire is fine. The art of dousing as an attack method can work but it also has it's drawbacks as you have to get pretty close to a zombie to be able to dump a bucket of kerosene or gas on them and by then you’re too close and getting closer to dead. Another method of using fire is the Molotov cocktail, which I believe I have gone over about before but hey its fire and goes with the fire tip so deal. Anyhow this is an effective way to kill a group of zombies at once so long as they are huddled close enough together (in certain situations this is not the case at all). These are the few good times to use Molotov cocktails, Fire is excellent when fleeing an advancing mob of zombies, clearing out a fireproof structure like a concrete bunker and such or burning down a building with zombies inside. Keep in mind that even in all these situations you still have to be careful that the fire doesn’t spread to the area you don't want burning. Molotov’s come in handy when dropping on zombies from above so long as the area they are leaning against is not flammable. Using conventional items such as blowtorches or welding flames and such are good to use to set a fire from afar but are usually not powerful enough to do too much damage (and sometimes not portable enough to even bother using). Now one of the last fire bringers that I am gonna cover is the flamethrower. Now this is a badass weapon and thought to be the best zombie killer pumping out liquid death at far ranges. Because of their weight and difficultly of use the flamethrower is not a worthy weapon when on the go and used outside of your home base, but you can't deny the awesomeness of the weapon. So there you have it for this week. Time for me to get back to my work as until we get rid of all these bastard zombies everyone has to keep doing their part to make sure we win in the end. So until next week good luck, stay safe and keep surviving.
Hey there Omnicomic readers. It’s me, Brandon, your go-to guy when it comes to dealing with the undead and how to survive the zombie apocalypse. Today I'm doing something a bit different in that I'm doing a little reviewing of my own of a comic series that reminds you of your childhood heroes (at least if you were born in the 80s). This great comic book series brought to you by IDW Publishing (who is responsible for the 30 Days of Night series, graphic novel versions of I Am Legend, Shaun of the Dead, and even a 24 novel as well) is Ghostbusters: The Other Side. The series is written by Keith Champagne (writer of the Flash and Green Lantern Corp.) with the art assist by artist Andy Smith. For all of you 80s kids you should know who the Ghostbusters are, as they are responsible for saving New York City many times when in danger from everything from an ancient evil god to a demonic Carpathian ruler with a river of slime. Brought to life by the famous actors Bill Murray, Dan Akyroyd, Ernie Hudson and Harold Ramis, these four men help tell a magnificent story with spot-on jokes and a perfect balance of action spawning two movies, numerous TV shows and comics. But enough of the backstory; on to the topic at hand. This new series brings our plucky heroes back into the fold of fighting the ghost population of New York City, although the group of ghosts they bust in on aren’t the usual types they fight and capture. They are tackling old school mobsters from New York City of long ago, and like the real mobsters of back then they don’t intend to go down without a fight. After sending the crooks down to where they belong, the Ghostbusters unknowingly bring on a world of pain and problems for themselves when they miss one ghost that brings their world crashing down. Not to give too much away, this four–part series reminds you of all the fun you had watching the Ghostbusters in the movies and on the TV shows. With witty dialogue and unexpected turns that even I didn’t see coming, there are even parts that made me laugh out loud hard that keeps you wanting more. As of now, the first three parts have come out with only one more to go to finish this exciting story and to let us fans know whether or not our beloved Ghostbusters will save the day and put them ghosts where they belong. As they used to say “Who you gonna Call?” If you are a fan of the Ghostbusters I suggest you check out this series as it is a great read from start to finish so far and even I am wondering what’s going to happen in the last part.
New York Comic Con is no stranger to contests, however this one is a little stranger than the other contests they typically run. The fine folks that are putting together the convention want to send the above two dudes to the show. The thing is that they don't really want to go in the first place. So its up to YOU to create a 30 second video convincing them that the should go. You can post the video on YouTube or send your best convention story or just best reason for them to go to email@example.com. There first five entries will get a complimentary New York Comic Con 2009 official show poster drawn by Neal Adams Personally, I'm not really sure what purpose this contest serves other than drumming up attention for the show. But if you're planning on going to the convention and see these two guys, be sure to ask them what convinced them to stop being lame and actually go to a comic book convention. Full press release below. Check out these two dudes, can you picture them at New York Comic Con??? They cant either, but now is your chance to convince them of the greatness that is the Con! Tell us your stories and reasons as to why you think they should attend. You can post a 30 second video on YouTube and send us the URL or send us your best Con story to date or best reason to go via an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be as descriptive as you want, the funnier and more entertaining you are the more likely we will use a clip of your story in our compilation video that we will post on our website. The first 5 entries will receive a complimentary New York Comic Con 2009 official show poster drawn by Neal Adams! Believe it or not, there are people who haven't reached the cool factor of being a Con-aholic like yourself so spread the love and tell them why its so great and why they should be a part of it! Thanks, The New York Comic-Con Team