Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New Arrivals: October 1, 2008

The first week of October is upon us, and that means one thing: Batman #680! Check out the second to last issue in Grant Morrison's RIP arc and find out if Batman is any closer to regaining his sanity. All of this to get you ready for Batman #681. Enjoy! New Arrivals: October 1, 2008

DC pulls the plug on Minx

If you're a female reader between the ages of 13 and 18 then first off, I think its awesome that you've found Omnicomic (be sure to tell your friends). If you also happen to be fond of DC's Minx line, which is a series of graphic novels aimed at teenage girls in teenage girl situations, then you probably won't be so happy. ICv2 reports that DC is pulling the line after nearly a two year run. Why? The books did better in the direct market, as opposed to being in bookstores. But even still, there wasn't much of a connection with the target audience. DC said of the shuttering, “Minx was an experimental imprint for DC Comics and we are extremely proud of the books we published and the stories we told during the past two years. We thank all of the writers and artists who lent their talents to our endeavor and especially thank readers who came along for the ride. DC Comics remains committed to publishing diverse material for diverse audiences as we continue to welcome new readers.” DC pulling the plug on Minx

Kenneth Branagh directing Thor?

Hmm. Can't say I saw this one coming. Marvel may not have their actor in mind to wield the mighty hammer of Odin as Thor, but it appears they have their director in mind. Variety reports that Kenneth Branagh is in negotiations to direct the Mark Protosevich penned film following sickly Donald Blake/Thor. Marvel plans on financing the film via their Merrill Lynch credit (we'll see how that works out) and are aiming to have the film released in 2010. So far really the only names to be attached to the film as Thor are Matthew McConaughy and Matthew Vaughn, so its really anyone's guess at this point as to who it will end up being. With comic book films becoming all the rage and some actors even using them as career revival projects (read Robert Downey, Jr.), it would surprise me if the actor tapped to play Thor was a big name player. Kenneth Branagh directing Thor?

Review: Heroes - One of Us, One of Them

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. Episode three is upon us, and the big question going in is does it flow better than the first two, or is it jut as disjointed? Heroes does best when it picks a few characters to focus on for one episode, because then the glut of characters that are on the show don't make the show unwatchable. This week was spent primarily focused on Tracy Strauss and Sylar, with Hiro, Claire, Parkman and the Petrellis as sort of extra stories. Tracy seems to be a clone, which would be a good explanation for her power since they've really not described it just yet. She runs into Micah in New Orleans who sends her to see a doctor that admits to having made Tracy as a clone. Interesting. Sylar has been paired with Mr. Bennett to capture the brotherhood of evil mutants, and in tracking them down a few things happen. First, future Peter releases present Peter who recently discovered that he is Banshee, and is consequently killed by Sylar for a power that he'll maybe use once. In any case, Sylar proved his mom (Mrs. Petrelli) wrong by really being an animal. Of course the big question is whether she really is her mom or if she's just using her persuasion power to convince Sylar otherwise. Claire now has two moms and decides that she wants to learn to fight. Which prompts her mom to promptly suffocate her in a trailer with her flame until she admits why she really wants to fight (to get revenge on Sylar). But like her dad before her, she's absconded with the villains files and is off to do who knows what. Hiro sets a trap for the Speedster only to fail because the Haitian is around, and is promptly locked up along with Ando in Level 5. And Parkman continues his spirit walk and has learned that the polite African native he's run into has chronicled his life a la Isaac. The show is settling into itself in this third episode. Motives are being made clear, and it even seems that Mohinder could be the one that causes the world to end. My one complaint is that it finally seemed that the heroes would have some villains to fight, which is an element that has been sorely lacking. There were finally some ruthless villains out on the street, only to end up being caught or killed in the third episode of the season. So now we're back to Sylar being the villain again, and Claire doing who knows what. The season is shaping up to be promising, but right now its still a little unsure of itself it seems. Overall score: 88 out of 100

Monday, September 29, 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. Check. Check one, two one, two. This thing on? (Background crackling from the radio) maybe if I kick it...hey there we go. Alright everybody (and by everybody I mean you faithful and lucky people out there who are two things: one a survivor of this nightmarish place we call Earth and two a listener of my show), let’s get to it. Welcome back to the only radio broadcast still going strong and piping out the information that the government should have known or gave out before it got to be too late. It’s your old pal Brandon here to share some knowledge (and mostly to help my own sanity stay intact as well). Let’s start this one off with a bit of news that I picked up on the radios. Seems a lot of the islands in the world are faring a lot better then us mainlanders are in regards to keeping the infected out because of their isolated nature. Also more importantly to us stuck here in the good old U.S. of A it seems what’s left of the government is getting off its kicked butt and doing something to protect the people that’s left by setting up more outposts and safe zones. Most are in the east and far west coastal areas since the midwest is still rife with bandits and bad areas of infestations. Beyond this not much else to report about going on in the world or back here on the homefront except the usual stuff. If my memory serves me last week we went over handguns I believe and about the handiest one to have with you as you trek over the land (if not sorry my typist is out sick so I don’t have the transcript from last week to review...my bad). Come on you know that was a good joke so laugh (but not to loud don’t want to let any zombies around to know where you are). So for this week I am gonna go over how to fortify a vacant home you might find in your travels or even the home you have lived in before all this broke out. So first off board up every single downstairs window and reinforce every door. You don’t want to board them up completely as you are cutting off a possible escape route if necessary. If it is a two story house move all of your equipment and supplies to the second floor and check to see if the water is still running in the house. If so, fill the bath tub and whatever other containers you can find with water so as to have the maximum amount of drinkable water on hand. Once on the second floor and everything on the first floor is secured and boarded up, with the tools you have destroy the stairs or if not possible nail large wooden boards to the stairs to make a ramp as zombies lack the motor skills to climb up the ramp. If the house you are occupying is only a single level house, move all your gear to the back of it closest to the back door (as that will be your way of escape). Never decide to get holed up in a basement of a house with no way out as that is a death sentence for you and whoever else is in your party (unless it is some nuts doomsday bunker that he didn’t make it to). Once all the necessary precautions are taken and the home is secured from outside intrusion then you can take a minute to relax. If possible sleep low on the ground as not to be spotted somehow from the outside, make sure to use no light source whatsoever. If you're near windows make sure if the power is still somehow working that nothing makes noises or draws attention to the possibility that the house is occupied. Now this little slice of heaven you've made for yourself could be a permanent stronghold for you or perhaps a stopping place for a few days. It all depends on the zombie activity in that area and also how readily available supplies are for you. Those decisions are up to you to decide as I ain’t there to hold your hand, but to give you advice on dos and don’ts of surviving. Man I am tired, as this savior of the people trip has got me ready for a good nap and some canned food. Man do I miss the luxury of ordering some pizza, or going to the store for some steaks, and man do I miss beer. Anyway it seems I need to eat some lunch so until next time remember to stay alive and don’t do anything stupid. Or if you want think "what would Brandon do?" if you want help to get you through the nights and days. Farewell everyone, now where is that damn can opener….. (Transmission signs off)

Iron Man DVD bonuses

As a gentle reminder, Iron Man hits stores Tuesday, September 30. The question is, where should you buy the movie? Every retailer has their own little special going, and here's a handy wrapup of what to expect at each store. Best Buy - Free Iron Man lithograph (Best Buy is keen on the lithographs) Circuit City - Access to 6 free Iron Man comics Target - Exclusive Iron Man mask packaging Wal-mart - Exclusive Digital Comic (Iron Man: Security Measures) written by Christos Gage and with art by Hugo Petrus So yeah. There's your options. If there's a deal I may have missed feel free to email me and let me know and I'll add it to the list.

Top Cow's Impaler online now

The online comic marching line continues. The latest entrant into the online foray is Top Cow's Impaler, the story of NY homicide detective Victor Dailey and Vlad Tepes in their fight against an onslaught of vampires in New York City. Think 30 Days of Night in Times Square. Top Cow's Impaler online

More on Fox as Fathom

Last week rumors surfaced (heh heh, get it...surfaced) that Megan Fox was being linked to the upcoming Fathom movie. Newsarama checked with Aspen Comics president Frank Mastromauro for his comment. And while it was confirmation of anything, it certainly wasn't a denial either. "Unfortunately, most of my answer would be ‘no comment’ at the moment, since we’re still working out some things in regards to the movie and I can’t go into detail on anything. However, I will give you a little bit of background info. "Last summer [at the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con during our panel) when Mike [Turner] commented about the movie not really happening anymore, things changed shortly after. Even though not much was going on with it, there was still a lot of interest in the property. After meeting a few great people that had the same passion for the project as we did, things started to turn again. We had several different meetings and everything looked to be going well, but then Mike wound up getting sick this past February." Interesting. It would make since with the recent success of just about any movie based on comic books that even smaller publishers would want to see their properties on the big screen. And for Aspen Comics, being able to corral Fox for the role of Aspen would be the ideal casting choice for them. It appears that there is a Fathom movie in the works, and no comment from both camps as to the rumors that Fox is attached to the picture. Stay tuned as I'm sure new stuff will come out sooner than you realize. News on rumored Fathom movie

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cool Hand Luke Dies at 83

This year has been a bad one for the acting community, as Heath Ledger, Bernie Mac, and Isaac Hayes are just a few of those that we've lost. Unfortunately, one more was added to that list today in Paul Newman. He was 83 years old. Newman lost a battle with lung cancer that he ironically picked up from his general badass roles, including the above mentioned "Cool Hand" Luke in the film of the same name as well as Butch Cassidy in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Comic book fans may have recognized him in 2002's Road to Perdition based on the graphic novel of the same name by Max Allan Collins as John Rooney, an Irish crime boss. Omnicomic sends its condolences to the Newman family. The world has lost a truly great man today.

Bring the Batpod home with Blu-ray

The HD Room has gotten a look at what we can expect from The Dark Knight when it hits home theaters December 9. There will be two versions of the Blu-ray release, a standard version and and a two-disc limited edition featuring a Batpod display case. For the technophiles out there, both will be presented in widescreen 2.4:1 1080p video and 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio. As far as features, here's what can be expected from the collector's edition version
  • Exclusive Bat-Pod Display Case
  • Gotham Uncovered: Creation of a Scene
  • Batman Tech: The Incredible Gadgets and Tools (HD)
  • Batman Unmakes: The Psychology of the Dark Knight (HD)
  • Gotham Tonight - 6 Episodes of Gotham's news program
  • The Galleries - the Joker Cards, Concept Art, Poster Art, Productions Stills, Trailers, TV Spots
So get your preorder on if you're so inclined. And whatever your means of purchase be sure you're at the store to pick up a copy of The Dark Knight. The Dark Knight Blu-ray release details

New trailer for The Spirit

The new trailer for The Spirit has just hit the Internet and it looks sexy. And I mean that even if you don't factor in Eva Mendes, Scarlett Johansson and Sarah Paulson. The Spirit hits theaters December 25 (yep, that December 25).

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

Tedd Riccio is a comic book aficionado chock full of useful comic history knowledge. So why not tap into that knowledge for the betterment of you, the reader? Welcome to Hank McCoy (Before the Fur), a weekly column by Assistant Editor Tedd (just Tedd will be fine). Leave all that you know at the door when reading, and make sure to not speak ill of Dazzler (that will anger Tedd). And also make no mention of films The Howling or Event Horizon. I have to give DC one thing- exotic locales. I mean, it isn’t that I don’t like New York City. Some of my best friends live in New York City. For years and years, Marvel has dedicated itself to not just promoting comic books superheroes but promoting…well, New York City. They love it. I mean, how many comics by Marvel have you opened up and seen the following narration: (WIDESHOT of Statue of Liberty) Narrator (Uatu?): New York. (Pan in on city streets) Narrator: The Big Apple. To many, it is the greatest city on Earth. (pan to tense body part of action-hero) Narrator: But TODAY… (Cut back to reveal full scope of huge super-hero battle) Narrator: For (title character or characters), it has become a (BLANK)! I swear, this is a sketchy outline of 85 % of the opening lines of most Marvel comics. There are a couple of variations. But you totally know what I’m talking about, don’t you? The idea of having almost the entirety of the superhero community stuffed into one city always seemed a little strange to me. I mean, the advantage is you don’t have to work too hard to explain why characters are running into each other. When Superman shows up in Gotham City, there has to be a reason he went out of his way to do so. But Wolverine could just turn a city block, run into Punisher, and well, cue fight sequence, usually. When I was a kid, I always thought it was silly that DC had so many made up cities. Metropolis, Gotham…Wonder Woman used to spend less of her time on Paradise Island, and more of her time in a place called Gateway City- Flash and the Rogues still duke in out in Keystone, Green Arrow lived in Star City… And then there was Coast City. I was genuinely taken aback when DC bit the bullet and had it obliterated by Mongul during the Death and Return of Superman. I remember thinking it was such a copout, killing Superman off and then bringing him right back. But the truth is, I really loved the whole “Reign of Supermen” thing, when everyone had a different theory about which Superman was the REAL Superman…I still look back and think the whole affair, no matter how cliché, was one of the coolest, epic arcs ever told in that comic. But yeah, the point was- Coast City. DC obliterated it and everyone in it. It was pretty horrific. And the end result- that is, driving Hal Jordan a little over the top and into the arms of evil/crazy-town remains one of my favorite DC arcs as well. It wasn’t seeing Jordan bad that I liked- it was seeing him bring it all back together during The Final Night. That Green Lantern chant thing- you know, “In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night…blah blah blah”? I always thought it was ridiculous. But I love seeing Jordan belt it out as he reignites the frickin’ sun. I love that story so much. Where was I? Ah yes. They blew it up. Their city. And you see? That’s the nice THING about fictional cities. You can blow them up. No wait, what I mean is- you can do what you want with them. The naturalistic, real-world gig is appealing, I admit. It can make the story you’re telling very pertinent. I remember this opening to Amazing Spider-man shortly after 9/11. It was so tastefully done. I truly recommend it (Volume 2: Reflections), if you’re looking for the trade paperback. Because, after all, even in a world with supervillains and mutants there are some tragedies that are entirely HUMAN that everyone has to deal with. But see, let’s say I want to tell a story about corruption in the police force. Can I tell one, in New York City, without offending the entire REAL NYPD (not that I think the NYPD has a lot of time to read comics)? It gets dicey- really, it ties your hands. DC has told stories about industrial-military complexes, corruption at the state and government levels, anarchy, and all sorts of fun, pertinent stuff. But they’ve really got the leeway to pull it off because they don’t have to worry about offending anybody when they do it. The locales give the writers lots of room to explore the hero. Not to mention the latest trend with the DC writers. That is to say, they have become remarkably skilled at giving each city and location a flavor fitting and unique to the hero or heroes that live there. I mean, one of Superman’s old “tags” was “The man of tomorrow.” And in a lot of ways, that’s kind of what the story is about- he’s this guy from a “future” civilization that accomplished lots of great, fabulous things. The only thing is? They blew themselves up. The moral of the story? Progress is a great thing. But it has to be monitored. It has to be kept in check. By the government. By the press. People have to know what’s really going on in their city, in order to make good choices about the future. See? That’s why the bad guy is Lex Luthor. Because he doesn’t care what happens when progress happens- he just wants money. But that’s what Metropolis is like- it’s bright, vibrant, and filled with technology. Gotham needs little explanation or analysis on my part. I really think Dark Knight brought it to life in this amazing way I could only have dreamed to ever see on the big screen. But ever since No Man’s Land…it’s kind of like, Gotham has almost been a character in and of…it’s…er…self. You know? I mean, when the quake hits in No Man’s Land- why doesn’t Batman just leave? Okay, there are people stuck in Gotham. That’s the whole point of the story. But why not save them and THEN go fight crime someplace else? WHY Gotham? Why rebuild Gotham? So is Batman about fighting crime? Or is Gotham almost like…this character in the comic book? He’s fighting to save it…or her…or him, whatever. You know what I mean. Or Gateway- it has this history of being a mixing pot for so many different cultures. And that’s what Wonder Woman is trying to do- bring people together. She’s an ambassador (or she was, at one point. I can’t always keep track). And Keystone? They say “life moves fast” in Keystone. Bludhaven is like Gotham, but…it’s even more hopeless, more apathetic, if you can imagine that. Perfect for its resident hero Nightwing, who is as dark as his mentor at times, but in a way more optimistic. So maybe places like Bludhaven- almost missable in Gotham’s shadow, to a point where it might never get help- really need someone like Nightwing, not Batman, at the helm. I mean, not for nothing- Marvel has a variety of fantastical sites that the characters travel to as well. But usually, it’s all ‘into the lion’s den” and what not- Latveria, The Savage Land, the Negative Zone…they’re places you DON’T want to go if you don’t have to. Marvel has taken one or two passes at “spreading out”- they’ve set comics in L.A., Britain, Canada…at one point the X-Men set up shop in Australia. And actually, come to think of it- I’ve heard the X-Men are setting up shop in L.A. themselves. I always liked the idea of “spreading out’ a little bit more in the Marvel Universe, and we’ll see if it lasts or not. Well, if DC wants to “get in the game” a little more, I highly suggest that this be the angle they take. The setting is, in some ways, such a huge part of these comics. I’d love to see a Flash, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman movie get the same kind of care and attention that Batman has received. We’ll see. I’m looking forward to DC Universe online, at least, because like the laundry list I’ve run through in this post implies- there are plenty of places to go…

Interview - Brendan McGinley (Indelible/Bankshot Comics)

The great thing about the Internet is that it has made everything that much more accessible. I mean, where would Omnicomic be without that loving "http://" in front of it? The comic book industry is beginning to embrace the Internet for delivery of that fine comic book goodness, and companies such as DC have even formed an online submission forum in Zuda Comics.

A recent entrant into the online contest is HANNIBAL GOES TO ROME by Brendan McGinley of Indelible Comics. HANNIBAL is now the newest member of the Shadowline family of online comics and Brendan was kind enough to do an interview with me about it and various other topics. Brendan interned at DC and Marvel in 2001, had about a year and a half at Wizard from 2003 to 2005 and resides in NY like most others in the comic industry.

New posters for The Spirit

Courtesy of UGO are the above and below new posters for the upcoming film adaptation of The Spirit. Nothing more to say really than enjoy. New posters for The Spirit

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gotham City Dossiers: AdHouse Books

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. I'm a southerner at heart, having spent most of my life in Virginia. So when I come across a publisher that is based in VA (Richmond to be specific), well I have to show some love. So AdHouse Books, here's some love. AdHouse Books is known as a "boutique publishing juggernaut" that has won numerous industry awards for its collection of sequential and illustrative arts. Books such as Johnny Hiro, the story of a Japanese man who seems to want to try and live a normal life but trouble seems to follow him everywhere (yes, that trouble includes Godzilla). Another one is Skyscrapers of the Midwest (I bet you didn't know there were skyscrapers in the midwest). Capturing the rural solitude and sadness of a land full of anthropomorphic country cats, Skyscrapers of the Midwest hits a nerve that would make a grown man cry and was awarded the 2004 Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics. Finally anything that is superior has to be good. And that's just what Superior Showcase is, a compilation of works from up and coming indy writers and artists. AdHouse Books does do books as well, including Salamander Dream, the tale of a young girl's journey within a magical forest and as the years pass, she finds herself changing, which in turn, changes her friendship with Salamander. Salamander Dream marks Hope Larson's first full length solo creation within the world of comics. Monkey and Spoon proves that yes a monkey can love a spoon (why should their love be unrequited?). So check out AdHouse Books for some new and innovative comics that aren't quite traditional in that sense of the word. AdHouse Books

Iron Man Blu-ray delayed?

Bad news for Iron Man fans that also happen to be Blu-ray owners (which is probably a relatively small number I know). Rumor coming out of forums (and compiled on Blu-ray.com) is that Iron Man Blu-ray has been delayed. Apparently a few weeks back, some of those with advance review copies (Paramount I think you missed me here at Omnicomic but that's ok) were having trouble playing the Blu-ray versions of the film. Due to authoring problems on the disc, distributors have been instructed to recall all versions. Now this doesn't mean that you won't be able to get your hands on a Blu-ray copy of the movie when it releases on September 30, as Paramount is trying their hardest to get enough copies back into distribution. But if they dont get enough into the pipeline, the release date of the Blu-ray version will be pushed back to October 7. In the meantime, check out the ultradetailed Iron Man Mark I, II and III figures below by Hot Toys in all their 1:6 scale glory. Details are scarce, but I'd expect more information to be revealed as time goes on. Iron Man Blu-ray delayed

Megan Fox Fathoming a new movie?

IESB has it on good authority that Megan Fox has signed on to play Aspen Matthews in a live-action film based on Michael Turner's Fathom comics. Now in the past Turner said that the film was essentially in developmental purgatory, and that it was in the midst of an on-again, off-again relationship with Fox Studios as far as filming goes. Last word was that it was off, mainly due to Hollywood meddling with the script causing it to deviate from the source material. And with the unfortunate and untimely passing of Turner from cancer, one would expect that without a doubt the film would be shelved. But IESB's contact says that the film has been sent over to Fox Atomic Films, better known as the arm of Fox Studios that releases those movies that Fox Studios doesn't necessarily think will do that well. Fox Studios is seeking out scriptwriters to help revamp the script, and one can only hope that they do keep it true to the source material. Now Fox (the non-studio version) has made a name for herself recently mostly for her role in Transformers and less so because of her engagement to Brian Austin Green (still haven't figured that one out yet). And while its been said that she isn't exactly the sharpest tool in the shed (and I've even read some reports that she's kind of a bitch...Megan if you're reading we can do an interview to clear that up), she's definitely hot. So hot in fact that she would fit the role well of a blazing brunette in a swimsuit and wet for an entire movie. But can she carry an entire movie like this by herself? I'm sure fans of Aspen are going to see the film for more than just the chance to see a hot chick. And I hope that if this is true that Fox Studios and Megan Fox aren't going into this half-ass...both have to commit to it. As more and more comic book film adaptations are being released the bar is being raised higher and higher, so a comic book movie has to be at least half-decent to be successful. Megan Fox playing Fathom?

LEGO Batman reviews

You don't really need to read reviews to know that you WANT to get LEGO Batman for whatever system you may own. But if you're one of those people that are a little more hesitant to pick up a game until you've heard some things about the game, then Metacritic's got you covered. In case you don't know, Metacritic is a great site that compiles various media ratings gathered from multiple sources. There are currently only four reviews up there, but as the game is out longer more and more reviews will be added. But enough about Metacritic, what do the real critics think of the game? Well, most are pleased. If you've played a LEGO game before then there really isn't that much new here in terms of gameplay. What IS new is that the world of Batman is brought to you in spiffy LEGO form, telling a completely original Batman story not based on any previous Batman stories. If you're on the fence, check out the Metacritic reviews and then go get it. Otherwise, you should be getting up right now and walking out the door to get the game. Metacritic's review of LEGO Batman

Wednesday, September 24, 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). The History of Superhero Serials: The Good, the Bad and The Ugly... When Action Comics #1 debuted the cover featured one of the genuinely iconic cover images in comic history. The image, as even the most casual comic fan knows, was an electrifying picture of Superman lifting a car high above his head as thugs and criminals fled. The character of Superman helped usher in the modern era of comics with this cover. Batman, Wonder Woman and many other second tier DC stars (then called National Comics) like Hawkman, The Flash and Doctor Fate were created in short order. The Harry Potterish popularity of comics in the late 30's was quickly noticed by Hollywood. At the time, comics were strictly kids stuff and there was no real possibility of making an "A" production of a superhero film. There were no debates about which Oscar winning actor or actress should be cast in the new Hulk movie, for instance. However, at the time, Hollywood typically cranked out serials (films made cheap and fast and shown in installments or "chapters" for several weeks) for genre material like Westerns, thrillers, and the Tarzan series . Naturally, Hollywood made the connection that serials would be a perfect match for the superhero craze as the serials were often structured in the same way that comics were with story arcs that stretched for several issues. Ironically enough, the first superhero to be immortalized on the silver screen was not Superman or even Batman but the hero Captain Marvel. Marvel was Fawcett Comics' top hero and a genuine competitor for Superman's alpha male standing in the comics' world. (DC sued Fawcett in a well-publicized suit about this in the 40's). In any event, Republic Studios was a major Hollywood studio of the time mainly known for churning out inexpensive features (usually Westerns) and serials. Initially, the studio wanted to buy the rights to Superman but for whatever reasons DC comics was not interested in having the Man of Steel brought to the silver screen at that point. Republic was serious about bringing a superhero to the screen and petitioned Fawcett to buy the rights to Captain Marvel. Fawcett agreed and the popular and reliable screen actor Tom Tyler was cast as Captain Marvel. This was particularly good casting as Tyler had the appropriate superhero physique (he was once considered the strongest man in America according to IMDB) and he had acted in some serious films as well such as Gone With the Wind and Stagecoach. The resulting serial is often considered the best made of all time. It still holds up well and the portrayal of Marvel has been a strong influence on comic artists like Alex Ross (who has used the shiny lightning bolt on Tyler's uniform in some of his Captain Marvel portraits). Superman finally made it to the silver screen in 1948 (Superman) and 1950 (Atom Man VS. Superman) with the Columbia Studios serials based on the Superman character. Again, the series benefited by some good casting with Kirk Alyn, an actor with a strong physique and a powerful voice. The villain was not Lex Luthor but a sexy female villan called The Spider Woman, a striking and unusual antagonist for this series. Surprisingly, the special effects were not as good as the Captain Marvel series and the flying scenes are basically spliced in animation. In addition, Alyn's performance as Clark Kent helped form the template for the wimp persona that the Clark Kent character has often been burdened with. Despite some of these barriers, the series remains popular with old school Superman fans mainly for Alyn's striking resemblance to the Golden Age Superman in the pages of DC Comics. Alyn also played a more obscure comic hero in the Columbia serial Blackhawk: Fearless Champion of Freedom. Blackhawk, a Will Eisner created character and super team, was the leader of a squadron of uber-aviators of all nationality who were headquartered on Blackhawk Island. The comic attracted a large number of exceptional artists, most notably Reed Crandall whose offbeat covers are still striking even today. The serial was not as well done as some of the others here and the Blackhawk character has always been one of DC Comics' "B" titles, so fondness for this particular serial is not terribly great. Budget concerns limited the serial Blackhawks to a single plane (each flyer had their own in the comics). The serial did retain the great looking Blackhawk uniforms from the comic and also benefited from Alyn's heroic persona. Tom Tyler of Captain Marvel fame starred in another fine serial for Columbia based on the Phantom character (also known as "The Ghost Who Walks"). This character was fairly popular in his day, predating Superman and Batman as a costumed superhero character by several years. The origin story of the Phantom had him being part of multiple generations of crime fighters in the jungle who swore to fight "cruelty, piracy and greed." The Phantom continues to be an ongoing comic character, but he has always been more popular as a newspaper strip character rather than a comic book character. The serial is pretty faithful to the comic strip with the intro having The Phantom die and pass along his mantle to his son Kit (Tyler) who becomes the immortal Phantom. As was stated earlier Tyler was a reliable second tier leading man who was used to performing in "A" list Hollywood films with "A" list leading actors and directors. So, Tyler brought some real authority to the role and his athletic silhouette helped bring the respectability of the serial up a notch or two. The Batman serial of 1943 is actually pretty well done with really good personnel such as director Lampert Hillyer, who directed a fine, underrated horror film called Dracula's Daughter for Universal in 1936. The serial has some of these horror touches in its dark corridors and Bat Cave which is designed with some expertise. The main problem with the film (and the only problem that truly matters in this production) is the faithful Batman and Robin costumes are ridiculous looking in the context of the film; a reminder that realism in comics and superhero films is not necessarily a good thing. A note about finding some of these titles-many of these serials are not widely available-VCI Entertainment is a company that has filled a niche rereleasing some of these titles (many of the studios have let the copyrights on these "B" productions lapse into the public domain). Warner's rereleased a nice box set of the Kirk Alyn Superman serial and the Batman serial about the same time. www.vcientertainment.com

LEGO Batman launch trailer

Its finally here. LEGO Batman hit stores Tuesday for all consoles and you need to head out and pick it up if you haven't already. If you haven't picked it up, then maybe this trailer will convince you to. There's a few new bits of footage, but its overall awesome.

Shadwoline establishing a web-comic community

Not to be outdone by Marvel Comics, Image Comics is getting on board with this whole digital comics thing. Image's Shadowline arm is expanding their online selection with a combination of familiar Shadowline comics as well as new stuff from the next generation of Shadowline creators. Everything from Finder to Chicago will be online, and you can even read Action, Ohio as well. Some of the newer stuff that is up there includes Hannibal Goes to Rome, Yenny and Brat-Halla. And what's on the horizon? Li'l Depressed Boy and Platinum Grit. "While my first love comes in the traditional comics format, there's no denying the massive amount of new ideas and talent coming from the online world," said Shadowline Publisher Jim Valentino. "It's become a way for creators like PLATINUM GRIT's Trudy Cooper to gain recognition or established names like FINDER's Carla Speed McNeil to get their work to a wider audience. We're thrilled to bring these creators together in one collective." Image Comics is really the latest in a string of publishers realizing that comics are moving into the digital age. This is a good and a bad thing. Good because it makes comics that much more accessible, and bad because flies in the face of the whole tradition of comic books. But times change, and we have to change with them. Full press release below. Shadowline establishes web-comics community with fan favorites and newcomers alike! 23 September 2009 (Berkeley, CA) - The digital comics revolution continues as Image Comics' Shadowline expands their web comics division with a number of titles from fan favorites and the newest generation of creators! "While my first love comes in the traditional comics format, there's no denying the massive amount of new ideas and talent coming from the online world," said Shadowline Publisher Jim Valentino. "It's become a way for creators like PLATINUM GRIT's Trudy Cooper to gain recognition or established names like FINDER's Carla Speed McNeil to get their work to a wider audience. We're thrilled to bring these creators together in one collective." Shadowline's continued diversity will be reflected in the web comics, as the line will vary from the science fiction of FINDER to the political intrigue of Len Kody & Jenny Frison's CHICAGO: 1968 and even the oft-kilter superheroics of ACTION, OHIO by Neil Kleid and Paul Salvi. The lineup also currently includes newer titles like HANNIBAL GOES TO ROME, and the long-running YENNY and BRAT-HALLA. Future contributions include the web comic hit, PLATINUM GRIT by Trudy Cooper and Danny Murphy, and the upcoming LI'L DEPRESSED BOY featuring art by Jim Mahfood, Sam Kieth and more to come! More information can be found at www.shadowlinecomics.com/webcomics. 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.

Watchmen lawsuit really about Batman?

Fox and Warner Brothers are embroiled in a lawsuit over the release of Watchmen next year. But I'm sure you knew that already. The lawsuit makes sense from a financial perspective, because if Fox really does own the rights of distribution and if Warner Brothers releases the film then Fox stands to profit handsomely from profits. But is that what its really all about? According to Rich Johnston at Comic Book Resources, the lawsuit isn't really about money from the Watchmen movie at all. Its about Batman (as if he could have an even bigger year as it is). See, Fox owns the footage from the Batman TV show from the 1960s, but Warner Brothers owns the rights to the characters and the trademarks. Fox has wanted to release the show on DVD for years now but have been tied up in a similar release rights lawsuit. Word has it that Fox plans on using that series as leverage in their case against Warner Brothers. If it plays out like Fox wants it to, then they'll get a handsome sum of money for Warner Brothers to release Watchmen, and Fox will be able to release the Batman TV show on DVD. In the end, I think all comic book fans win since we'll get to see each in their respective mediums. Watchmen lawsuit about Batman?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Arrivals: September 24, 2008

Britain always seems to get the short end of the zombie stick. In the latest zombie invasion, The Dead #1 pits an unlikely alliance of firefighters and misfit soldiers against them in a struggle for survival. Enjoy! New Arrivals: September 24, 2008

The Punisher: No Mercy coming to PSN

The Punisher: War Zone is the next incarnation of the Punisher film series that has been somewhat maligned. The last version featuring Thomas Jane was actually decent, and it was quite intriguing that they decided to drop Jane and go with Ray Stevenson. But the next version seems at the very least to be as violent as the comic book. No word on the story yet, but at least there's going to be violence! Because of the movie there seems to be a new game in the works, and that game is coming to the PlayStation Network (PSN). According to a post by Zsolt Kigyossy (Managing Director at Zen Studios) on the PlayStation Blog a first-person Punisher game will be coming to PSN. And he assures readers that everyone at Zen Studios are "true believers" so it should at least be true to source material. The game will be called The Punisher: No Mercy and will be relentless first-person violence. And its the first time you'll play through the Marvel Universe through a first-person perspective using the Unreal Engine 3. The game will feauture online multiplayer and many Punisher villains will be making apperances including Jigsaw, Bushwacker, Barracude and Silver Sable (and Kigyossy even drops a War Journal hint). You can keep track of the game over at www.punishernomercy.com. Stay tuned for more updates. The Punisher: No Mercy coming to PSN

Review: Heroes - The Butterfly Effect

The premiere was split into two episodes, so I'm going to review each one individually. 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. The butterfly effect. If a butterfly flaps its wings it can potentially set off a chain of events that could destroy the world (the idea being that the simplest actions can have the greatest of consequences). Mrs. Petrelli tries to warn Peter of his actions because she has premonitions. In her latest one she sees all the heroes dead at the hands of the villains, including Nikki/Tracy and Adam Monroe (Takezo Kensei). All lead of course by Sylar. This of course leads Peter to question his actions and retrigger his savior complex, as he feels he is the only one that can save the world. Back to Claire. Sorry. The existential Claire, now on a quest to prove that she's alive by trying to kill herself, is having an identity crisis. She's always had the fears that she was different, and now that she can heal and not feel no pain she's still a hero but now she's really invincible. And she feels helpless, prompting Mr. Bennett to bring her biological mom back around to protect her. I felt that her character was grossly underdeveloped, so I'm glad to see that she's being brought back. Nikki/Tracy Strauss is back. But who is she? Tracy is an assistant to a Congressman in DC who extends an offer to Nathan to reclaim a Senatorial seat. But she's not Nikki Saunders. Didn't Nikki die in a fire in New Orleans saving Micah? What's going on??? We later find out that when nicknamed the Ice Queen she can turn a man into ice. Which eventually shatters. Her power has always been intriguing to me, and it seems like the writers are finally getting a handle on it. Perhaps her multiple personality power allows her to assume the persona of the most recent suggestion? And Nathan is now hallucinating, because he is the only one that sees Linderman giving him advice. Mohinder begins to feel some adverse side effects from what he originally thought was an awesome super serum. Granted his Spider-Man powers are awesome, there are some physical transformations that he didn't foresee. And apparently the formula boosts his libido as well, as he gets to know Maya a little better. Elle. I am extremely happy they've brought her back, because Kristen Bell is awesome. She is still struggling to get affection from her father, but gets scolded by her dad again because Sylar escaped. Eventually Sylar breaks into Level 5 and is set to get her power (after getting the power of Midas and killing Elle's father) when she goes nuclear and throws of a massive electric charge. The good news? It stunned Sylar enough so that he could be captured. The bad news? The blast shut down security letting all the other villains escape. And Mrs. Petrelli is now in charge of Level 5 and lets Elle go because of her mistakes (I'm sure we'll see her again at some point). Who are the newly released villains? Knox (played by Jamie Hector/Marlo Stanfield from The Wire) can absorb a person's fear and turn it into strength. The German can control magnetic energy. Flint is a person that can throw fire, and then there's Jesse who appears to have the powers of Banshee. But Jesse is the villain that Peter is trapped in, so we'll see how that plays out. And there we have the makings of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. So where are we now? Well the villains have been unleashed (except for Sylar). Newly freed Mr. Bennett is on a quest to end everything villain. And future Peter learns more about the consequences of his actions. Near the end of the show we see the villains torturing innocent people to get a car, and it really looks like they're not holding back. Hopefully this means we'll see some awesome battles. Introducing villains is where the show had to go to stay relevant, and now that they're here things should get insane in a hurry. Oh and it seems that Mrs. Petrelli is Sylar's mom. This season is going to be good as its rapidly ramping things up. Overall score: 90 out of 100

Review: Heroes - The Second Coming

The premiere was split into two episodes, so I'm going to review each one individually. 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. Well we're finally back. Nine months have lapsed since the second season was abruptly ended due to the writer's strike. The original trilogy arc was supposed to be the entire second season, but we only got to see the first of the three as season two. Which brings us to "Villains," the focus of season three. So far Heroes hasn't had any traditional "villains" to fight against with the exception of Sylar/Gabriel, but even he wasn't necessarily looking to wreak havoc like true villains tend to do. So where do we begin? Well Nathan's season ending assasination would be as good a place as any. Because of Nathan Petrelli's speech alerting the world to what they can do as heroes, they begin to be hunted and tested on. The whole storyline seems to revolve around Peter stopping the one event he feels is responsible for the horrible future they live in, however he doesn't realize his actions are not self-contained (more on the butterfly effect in the next review). "The Second Coming " opens four years in the future with Claire confronting Peter, preparing to go back in time to stop Nathan from telling the world about them. Yes, that means that Peter is the shooter, and no, Nathan isn't really dead (one of the cardinal rules of comics is that no one is ever really dead). So Peter shoots Nathan and runs off. Or so it seems. The future Peter has absconded off with the present Peter, and then does the same with Parkman, dropping him off in the middle of Africa. How do we tell which Peter is which? A scar. For some reason (which I'm sure involved Hiro and his sword) future Peter has a gnarly scar across his face. And now he hangs around to ensure that Nathan doesn't tell anyone the truth. But that's ok. Because Nathan has found God. Yep. They went there. So where did present Peter go? Future Peter somehow trapped him in the body of a villain at Level 5, along with other villains and Mr. Bennett. Claire confronts Sylar (not by choice) and from that we learn that she really is special. As Sylar takes her powers, he doesn't kill her like he normally does with his victims. He can't. He even tells her so. So now Sylar is running around, still powerless but now with Claire's healing ability. And while Claire didn't die, she was left with an unfortunate side effect: she can't feel pain. She can still heal quickly, but she doesn't feel pain which is an interesting twist on her character. Honestly, I really think they're keeping her character around because she's played by Hayden Panettiere and fanboys would flip if she was taken out. Her character is really getting stale, and I hope that this new twist livens her up a bit. Hiro and Ando are back, much to everyone's delight I'm sure. Hiro learns that his father was the guardian of one half of a formula that could potentially destroy the world. Upon receiving it, we're introduced to a new character called Speedster (read The Flash) who apparently wants to steal it for someone. Hiro has vowed never to go into the past again when Ando recommends he do so to prevent the theft, but will go into the future. In the future he sees Ando betraying him for the formula. And by betray I mean kill. Yeah. I'm sure this whole season will escalate the tension between Hiro and Ando as they search for Speedster to get the formula back. Mohinder and Maya. Mohinder is still trying to solve the Heroes dilemma. He realizes that his father was wrong sort of, and that the cure should focus on the mind as opposed to the body. Mohinder extracts some power from Maya and in a rather startling change of character decides that all of a sudden its awesome to have the powers. He goes from wanting to cure her to wanting to use it to give himself powers. I've said this in the past and I'll say it again now, Heroes is trying their hardest to work in the Days of Future Past storyline from X-Men, which makes sense I guess when you have Jeph Loeb working on the show. I've watched this episode twice now, and its growing on me. The first time I watched it I think there was the initial rush I had to get over because the show was finally back on. I still think the show overall suffers from some of the same problems I've mentioned in the past, including too many character and disjointed editing. But it appears that they've picked up right where they left off, and this season looks to have promise. We can expect more of the same really from all characters but with the addition of true villains this season we have what could be the best season yet. Overall score: 85 out of 100

Monday, September 22, 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. Sorry for the delay there my fellow survivors. Had a little trouble with the generator, wanted to act up on me. Anyway welcome back to my broadcast covering what’s going on in the world today (and mostly since me your old pal Brandon is the only thing you got to listen to). So let's get to it. It seems more reports are coming in that survivors are finally getting some sort of secured locations for you wandering out there in no-man land to head too and be safe in, if even for a little bit. When I hear more about them and what sort of “security” they offer I'll let you fine folks know where to head and some bit about what to expect from them. Although the most important thing to remember is sometimes where you are now or how you have survived thus far might be the better alternative then heading to a so called secured location only to be overrun or risk an infected getting in and turning in the middle of the night on all of you. So far it seems that most of the raider types left out there are slowly dying out, although I heard in the midwest it is still very rough territory to travel through as bandits still run amok. Now for the tip of the week, for that survivor on the go. So far we have discussed what a zombie is, and the best sort of blunt weapons that work the best in your struggle to make it. Today I am going to talk about the different types of pistols and hand guns that can be used and which ones are most effective. For us here in the good old United States guns are everywhere (sorry for all you overseas who happen to be listening to my broadcast, but if you find some of these weapons at least you will know). The most readily available pistol found is the 9mm handgun, used by almost every police force around the globe, while another commonly used one is the .45mm Glock handgun that packs a little more power then the 9mm. Also readily available are you standard six shooters that shoot a variety of ammo sizes, whether it be .22 caliber, .38 caliber or even the awesomely powerful .357 magnum. Hold on a second folks I’ll be right back I hear that generator acting up again, god I want kick the crap out of it. Ok everybody I am back, and figure I can grab a can of some food to eat while broadcasting so let's get back to it. These are your most common found types of handguns mostly in America but like I said worldwide also but in a lot less supply. Generally when you are packing one of these they are your last line of defense as a head shot with a pistol takes considerable practice and skill to accomplish at a great distance. I could go into details regarding the number of other handguns that would work but feel no need as usually neither they nor their ammo are in ready supply. The best handgun to have on you as you either defend your home base or are on the move would either be the 9mm or Glock, as they carry a larger capacity in the clip and are easily reloaded if in a tight jam (the six shooters only carry six bullets in them and take time to reload in certain models). Like I said you want these to be a last resort if you have zombies coming at you as the closer they are the higher success rate of a head shot comes into play. Plus with the ammo used for the 9mm and .45 they have a better success rate of penetrating the skull at a further distance if used in that situation then say the .22 or .38, so I would stick to them for all situations. Also the added benefits of being able to attach silencers to the 9mm or Glock give you the edge in being able to eliminate a zombie without the deafening noise of the shot. But that is another tip altogether about the right choice of weapon to use in a situation that I will leave till next time. So till next week’s broadcast, this is your good buddy Brandon signing off and remember the key rule, and that is to survive no matter what it takes.

Preview: Batman #681

This is it folks. The issue we've been waiting for. The end of the epic RIP storyline that is jarring Batman's life. Bruce Wayne confronts Jezebel Jet, and we find out the truth behind the Black Glove. Throw in The Joker, Club of Villains, Robin and Damian and you know that things are going to really escalate. Written by Grant Morrison and with art by Tony Daniel and Sandu Florea, Batman #681 hits stores November 5 for $3.99. Preview: Batman #681

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows screens

The next few months look to be nice for comic book fans in terms of video games. Tuesday sees the release of LEGO Batman, and in November Midway will be releasing Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. But that's a lot of DC there. What about Marvel? On October 21 Activision will be releasing Spider-Man: Web of Shadows for all major systems, and the premise of the game surrounds the ability for the gamer to choose between playing the fast and agile red and blue Spider-Man, or the strong and brooding black Spider-Man. And since I know that you're getting antsy for the game, Marvel has been kind enough to provide us with eight shiny new screenshots from the game. Check them out below, and head on over to Marvel to get some more info on the game. New screenshots from Spider-Man: Web of Shadows

Alan Moore and comic movies NOT BFF

Alan Moore has been well documented in regards to his distaste with comic books and graphic novels receiving the feature film treatment. And its not just his works that he has a problem with, rather, he feels that the entire comic book industry is struggling to be what it is meant to be. In a recent interview with the LA Times, Moore was very vocal about his feelings. "There are three or four companies now that exist for the sole purpose of creating not comics, but storyboards for films. It may be true that the only reason the comic book industry now exists is for this purpose, to create characters for movies, board games and other types of merchandise. Comics are just a sort of pumpkin patch growing franchises that might be profitable for the ailing movie industry." Wow. How do you really feel Alan? He also mentioned that regardless of Zack Snyder's undying commitment to making the Watchmen film true to the source, Moore is having none of it. "Will the film even be coming out? There are these legal problems now, which I find wonderfully ironic. Perhaps it's been cursed from afar, from England. And I can tell you that I will also be spitting venom all over it for months to come." Moore has yet to see any of his books that have been adapted into films, including Constantine, From Hell, V for Vendetta or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (I wonder if he saw The Dark Knight seeing as how it was loosely based on The Killing Joke). He is currently working on new stories within the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen canon, and has gone to great lengths to ensure that they will have nothing to do with the film. He's also working on a massive 750,000 word novel called Jersualem, partially a history of his native Northampton that dates back to its Saxon settlement days in AD 700 as well as a "demented children's story" that features Charlie Chaplin, Oliver Cromwell and "an explanation of the afterlife that conforms to all known laws of physics." Wow. That certainly sounds interesting. The whole interview is a pretty good read, and it basically reaffirms the notion that Moore is definitely an anarchist that hates to see his good writing sullied by moving pictures. Moore on comic book movies

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

Tedd Riccio is a comic book aficionado chock full of useful comic history knowledge. So why not tap into that knowledge for the betterment of you, the reader? Welcome to Hank McCoy (Before the Fur), a weekly column by Assistant Editor Tedd (just Tedd will be fine). Leave all that you know at the door when reading, and make sure to not speak ill of Dazzler (that will anger Tedd). And also make no mention of films The Howling or Event Horizon. I don’t know why? But I love the most obscure characters in superhero comics. Okay, I don’t love THE most obscure characters in comics, i.e. the characters that only appeared in one issue and were so pathetic that they were never shown again. That’s what I liked to think of as the “third tier” of comic universes. Actually, I have got one particularly hysterical example of this caliber of character- at one point, the Frightful Four were looking for a replacement member (in this case it was Wizard, Sandman, and Trapster without a fourth to fill the ranks) and had “tryouts.” Eventually, they settled on a guy with wings calling himself “The Osprey.” The thing was? The Osprey didn’t actually have any superpowers. His wings were made of plastic that he had strapped to his back or something, and it wasn’t until the whole group got into some pitched battle with the Fantastic Four that it became painfully evident that the Osprey was just some lonely nutjob who wanted to “play supervillian.” The Wizard, frustrated as all get out, strapped one of his weird “null-grav” discs onto the poor guy’s back and he likely floated, uncontrollably, high into the atmosphere and then fell to his death. But the characters that I have been truly obsessed with are the ones I like to think of as Marvel and DC’s “second tier;” that is, those characters that have (or had) their own comic books but you’d have to be a comic book fan to really know who they were. In other words, there are no action figures, cartoon shows, or movie promotions for these guys. Again, I don’t know why, but I always have this weird thrill when I’m reading a comic and it cameo character (x) from comic book (y) who hasn’t appeared in print since 19(zz). Sometimes that’s because some of those obscure characters are really, really cool and probably deserve more fandom and attention than they deserve. Other times, I just think it’s cool in terms of continuity- even if some comic book fails, I like the idea that the writers are still willing to stick their necks out there and say “the EVENTS of this past comic still HAPPENED, whether it was a popular comic or not.” A couple of years ago, I kind of feel like there was a mass genocide of comic book titles. In the late eighties and early nineties, people just started cranking out books and spinoff books. But a couples years later when titles like “Fantastic Force,” “Darkhawk,” and “Suicide Squad” weren’t selling too well (no offense to Suicide Squad fans- I think Suicide Squad totally kicked @$), the whole thing fell apart. Lately, however, there has been a little bit of a reemergence of said, obscure, “second tier.” My FAVORITE rumor that has been floating around is that sometime, this year, Power Pack is going to be relaunched at Marvel. Currently, Power Pack gets printed as an out-of-continuity, Marvel digest book- you know, it isn’t like a full sized graphic novel, it’s just those little, made-for-children bound books that there have been more and more of lately. OKAY, I admit it- I’ve read a couple of these. But only because it was Power Pack. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, Power Pack was a comic Marvel produced in the 80’s about four children- all siblings: Alex, Julie, Jack, and Katie Power- who inherited superpowers from a dying alien. The comic often dealt with quasi-educational issues, like sexual abuse, drug addiction, etc. But the thing that I really loved about the comic was that the writers were fully committed to making the main characters children. And by that, I mean the main characters weren’t fully developed superheroes who happened to be stuck in a child’s body- they thought, behaved, and sometimes fought the way children do. Occasionally, one of them would do something very brave, or perhaps very foolish, in this certain way that only a child would only ever be capable of. Of course, I don’t know if Power Pack really turned out to be the best “role model” comic book Marvel had ever created. I mean, they wanted it to be and it was pretty good shot- but the truth was, the Pack were ridiculously unsupervised and constantly being put into extremely dangerous situations that leave most children with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for the rest of their lives, superpowers to rely on or not. In fact, the Pack sometimes ended up in those huge, very dark X-Men cross-overs, like “The Mutant Massacre” and “The Fall of the Mutants.” You got to see the events from a child’s eyes, and granted, they weren’t very close to the action, but I always thought having Sabretooth jump out of the shadows and threaten to gut me would have messed me up as a kid. So…the tension between having the Pack be part of the mainstream Marvel Universe and having the Pack be a child AND adult-reader comic book was a bit pervasive. They wanted to do good with it, and sometimes they did- but it was tough to get the whole thing to “fit” right in the Marvel Universe. Regardless, the comic has gained a pretty substantial fan base and is still remembered by many as one of the best things that came out of the 80’s. It also brought together some really interesting threads from other comics- for example: Actually, Franklin Richards (Reed and Susan Richard’s son), became an official fifth member of the Pack during its run, and unofficially Leech and Artie filled a sixth and seventh spot some of the time (they’re Morlocks, although Leech appeared in the third X-Men movie? The kid who could shut off mutant powers?). And at one point, I could have sworn there was a New Mutant comic about Days of Future past (the future in which Sentinels wreck all of human civilization) in which Katie Power appeared as an elderly woman, and the only surviving member of the Pack. The Power Pack have made a few other in-continuity appearances since the end of their comic, most of which I have NOT enjoyed. At one point, Alex Power stole all of his younger sibling’s abilities for himself and started calling himself “Powerpax.” He joined the New Warriors for a bit. I can’t tell you how incredibly relieved I am that he is not implicated in the incident that led to Civil War, thus sending he and his siblings into infamy forever. On a note that I’m a little more Ambivalent about, Julie Power appeared in the comic book Runaways. I have to say, this comic has impressed me- the cast mostly concerns the daughters and sons of supervillians who do NOT wish to follow in their parent’s footsteps. At one point, the comic features a support group for the children of superheroes called “True Believers” (Get it? Funny, right?). Julie Power is among it’s members. In this case she, and many of the other group members, appear kind of like aging, dissatisfied celebrity children- you know, the Brady Bunch and the Partridge Family, and all that stuff. She talks a lot about how being a superhero “deprived her of a normal childhood.” I have to say, this interpretation of Julie makes a lot of sense- it bums me OUT, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t witty, funny, and realistic. Well, I’m HOPING to see the Power Pack return to the Marvel Universe sometime soon. In the meantime? I have to say, these digests are really good (don’t judge me!). I’m usually not a big fan of the pseudo-anime style of comic art: for me, I want anime to be anime and comic books to be comic books. But the art has really won me over on these. And they’re hysterical, in that way that only children/ teenagers could be. My favorite bit involves Katie Power questioning a future version of herself in order to verify her identity. After asking a series of questions like “What’s our middle name?” and so on, Katie asks “herself”: “Who was my first boyfriend?”, to which the older Katie responds “Franklin Richards,” followed by the younger Katie exclaiming: “HA! It was a TRICK QUESTION! BOYS ARE ICKY!!”. So yeah, I’d check them out. And while you’re at it? There’s this other digest- Spider-Man/ Human Torch: I’m with stupid- that is really damn funny too. …I am not ashamed that I have read these digests for younger readers. Not in any way. No. Nope. Not at ALL. I feel great about myself. Yes.

Preview: Unknown Soldier #1

Arlington National Cemetery has the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The symbolism of the tomb is an honor of sorts to all those soldiers that have died in wars that didn't necessarily die unnoticed but weren't necessarily given a proper burial for whatever reason. Many other countries do this as well as a tribute to fallen soldiers. DC created a character known (heh) as the Unknown Soldier, and now writer Joshua Dysart is revisiting that character in a new series from Vertigo. The story takes place in Northern Uganda, 2002, where tourists are killed with machetes and 12-year-olds carry AK-47s like they're toy bats. Moses Lwanga is at the center of it all as the peaceful doctor, but when he's threatened he realizes he knows how to kill. And he has a voice telling him that his ability to kill those responsible for the carnage will fix the country. Hence the Unknown Soldier aspect. Dysart spent a month in Uganda doing research, and his hyperrealistic story is beautifully illustrated by Alberto Ponticelli and with covers by Igor Kordev. The first issues hits stores October 6 for $2.99, and you can check out a preview of the work in House of Mystery #6. Preview: Unknown Soldier #1

Heroes returns September 22

Finally, after nearly nine months of waiting, Heroes is coming back. The second season was abruptly cut short because of the writer's strike, meaning their grand three part opus wasn't quite realized as they had intended. But now its coming back, and we can pick up right where we left off. But wait a minute. That was nine months ago when I last saw an episode of Heroes. What if I can't remember anything? Is Sylar bad? Which Petrelli is the whiny one? Is Kristen Bell coming back? All those questions and more can be answered at the official Heroes website. Its definitely the best place to take a gander at to get yourself reacquainted with the show if you feel like there are some things you've forgotten. The season premiere for season 3 ("Villains") is set to air this Monday, September 22 at 9 PM EST. The two hour special will be preceded by the requisite red carpet extravaganza at 8 PM EST that will also help to get you up to speed. But I'd expect more on-the-carpet interviews from that that will talk about the upcoming season and less about the past two seasons. Heroes website