Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Seventh Doctor Knew Fezzes Were Cool in 1988

As anyone who watched this past summer's Doctor Who episode "The Big Bang" can tell you, fezzes are cool.  At least, they became cool when Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor plopped one on top of his head and declared them cool.  Oh, and he also carried a mop around for a while as well, which was somewhat less cool, but still made for an interesting look that Whovians can easily turn into cosplay at conventions all over the world.

So imagine my surprise when I recently noticed something while watching the DVD release of the 25th anniversary story "Silver Nemesis," which was transmitted way back in 1988, twenty-two years before "The Big Bang."  In the scene set inside the basement of Windsor Castle where Sylvester McCoy's Seventh Doctor tells his companion Ace that he is looking for a silver bow, he takes a playful moment to don a fez...and even holds up a mop for good measure.  Here, see for yourselves...

Freaky, hunh?  Obviously, I'm not the first to notice this, but you still have to wonder if current Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat did this as a very subtle but intentional homage or the image became embedded somewhere in his subconscious for decades and finally leaked out while he was writing "The Big Bang."  If anyone knows the real explanation for such a bizarre coincidence, preferably straight from Moffat himself, please pass it along.  I'm absolutely dying of curiosity.

Monday, December 27, 2010

DAMN Good Comic of the Week -- INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #33

Once again, Invincible Iron Man proves that it's by far one of the best superhero books on the stands today.  In the final ninth part of the "Stark Resilient" storyline, writer Matt Fraction and artist Salvador Larocca finally go all out with the various plot threads that have been on a slow, steady burn for the past several months.

Starting off with nothing less than Tony Stark racing his prototype repulsor technology-powered car as villain Detroit Steel and numerous drones keep blowing up things all around him, Fraction adds to the drama by taking Iron Man Family members War Machine and Rescue off the board.  The conflict is essentially resolved in a cease-fire that both the characters and readers know is all too temporary, but of course, Fraction isn't content to leave things at that.

No, he amps the tension up even more by placing War Machine under direct control of the United States military for standard national security reasons.  And then, he goes and brings none other than Ezekiel Stane, the major threat from his first storyline "The Five Nightmares," back into play.  Oh, and if that isn't enough to keep you reading, there's the revelation that Sasha Hammer's father is none other than Tony's arch-nemesis The Mandarin, who welcomes ol' Zeke into the family.  Dun-dun-DUN!!!

Lately, I've been having a big problem with various DC and Marvel titles jacking up their prices to $3.99 for the sake of a disappointing 8-page backup story that rarely justifies the extra dollar.  Thankfully, this particular backup also written by Fraction, "Good Morning, Tony," doesn't fall into that category.  Told silently through the storytelling device of Tony Stark's internal and external technology, it gives readers an idea of how Tony must view the world around him.  Everything is reduced to soulless, streaming bits of information or completely unimportant conversation from a random girl he meets, dates and later beds all in the span of three story pages.  It's a fairly disturbing look at his central character and definitely worth the added expense.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

DOCTOR WHO Returns in 2011 for Series Six

Yes, he wears a Stetson now.  Stetsons are cool.

At long last, the teaser trailer for Series Six has arrived.  Nazis, Utah, an Ood, that strange TARDIS-like console room from "The Lodger" and the return of River Song.  Bring it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Will Batwoman Reenlist After Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"?

This should certainly provide DC Comics' new Batwoman ongoing series some story fodder.

In a landmark vote yesterday, the United States Senate voted to allow gays to serve openly in the military, effecting ending the 17-year "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.  The measure still has to be signed by President Barack Obama and then there's a 60-day waiting period before the change goes into effect.

So presumably, DC Comics could and most likely will address this change at some point in the pages of Batwoman.  After all, previous Batwoman writer Greg Rucka tied the character's origin up in DADT in Detective Comics #859, where he revealed that Kate Kane was expelled from the United States Military Academy for violation of the military's code of conduct rather than lie about having lesbian relationships.

It should be interesting to see what Kate's response to DADT repeal will be, but since the series title is Batwoman and not Second Lieutenant Kate Kane, I imagine something will happen to encourage the character to keep fighting crime in Gotham City instead of fighting overseas in Afghanistan or wherever she ends up stationed.  Of course, this is a fictional universe filled with superheroes who fly and bend steel in their bare hands, so DC could simply keep DADT in effect if they wanted.  They mostly likely won't, though, so Batwoman should become even more must-reading in the months ahead.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Peter David Revisits Mystery Sandman Theater 3000

Well, I certainly didn't see this coming this morning.

Writer Peter David has been posting his old "But I Digress..." columns from Comics Buyer's Guide on his website PeterDavid.net for some time now and it seems he's gotten around to "Mystery Sandman Theater 3000" from CBG #1074, dated July 17, 1994.  This particular column tends to be a particular favorite of mine because I helped write it.

Back in the day, I was a huge fan of Comedy Central's classic TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000 and David was as well, so imagine my interest when he asked for submissions for a "Mystery Sandman Theater 3000," combining MST3K and DC Comics' series Sandman Mystery Theatre.  I had already been riffing on the "Titans Hunt" storyline running through DC's series The New Titans for the APA TitanTalk, so it was pretty much a no-brainer to alter things with a take on Neil Gaiman's Sandman.  And just for the hell of it, I even wrote a version of the MST3K theme using Sandman characters.

Peter David was kind to call me at home to let me know he was going to run my submission, an act made more impressive considering there were no fancy-shmancy Internets at the time to easily track down my phone number.  The wait for the actual issue of CBG to arrive in the mail was interminable, though, but I remember how good it felt to see some silly little thing I did on a whim in a major comics news publication.

So thank you once again, Peter, for letting me contribute to your terrific column and now for bringing back some wonderful memories of what seems at least two or three lifetimes ago.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Has V FOR VENDETTA Finally Become the Modern Anti-Authority Symbol?

Well, it's been a big month for V for Vendetta, hasn't it?

As if various members of the Guy Fawkes-masked group Anonymous making Pro-WikiLeaks retaliatory online attacks against Visa and MasterCard wasn't enough, along comes Clay Duke, a Panama City, Florida man who took six members of the city's school board hostage yesterday before ultimately killing himself.

During the hostage standoff, Duke claimed that he was taking revenge for the board firing his wife because doing so left them broke and at one point, he spraypainted a large red "V" symbol from V for Vendetta on one of the walls.  He apparently had some time on his hands before taking hostages, posting several anti-rich messages on his Facebook account along with several V for Vendetta images and quotes likening himself to the central anti-totalitarian character, V.

I'm guessing DC Comics and Warner Brothers films must be just thrilled about the resulting publicity.

Still, something like this isn't all that unexpected, is it?  Ever since the Wachowski Brothers' 2006 film adaptation starring Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman, Alan Moore and David Lloyd's 1980s story of V for Vendetta has slowly been working its way into mainstream awareness.  The film only pulled in a modest $132 million worldwide, but has become a well-regarded cult classic in recent years and is currently listed at #175 on IMDb's Top 250 all-time favorite movies.  And with more general awareness comes more chances for some mastermind such as Duke to pervert it to suit his own deranged notion of fighting a personal crusade against what he sees as an oppressive system.

Anonymous certainly seems to have embraced V for Vendetta symbolism ever since 2008 when they began Project Chanology, involving public protests in V masks that resemble English historical figure Guy Fawkes against the Church of Scientology.  Later activities by the group include supporting demonstrations against the Iranian government, fighting against internet censorship in Australia, fighting against various opponents of a free internet and most recently, fighting against corporations dropping their support of news media site WikiLeaks.  The basic revolutionary concepts outlined in V for Vendetta certainly seem to complement the group well enough and the images of masked protestors obviously make good fodder for media organizations.  Hell, even creator Alan Moore seems to approve of the adopted imagery, as evidenced in this quote from an interview in Entertainment Weekly:

"I was also quite heartened the other day when watching the news to see that there were demonstrations outside the Scientology headquarters over here, and that they suddenly flashed to a clip showing all these demonstrators wearing V for Vendetta [Guy Fawkes] masks. That pleased me. That gave me a warm little glow."

As mentioned in V for Vendetta, symbols are given power by people.  How much power people give this particular symbol remains to be seen.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I Love the 80s Sci-Fi

The great site io9 posted a fun '80s sci-fi nostalgia piece today titled "The 1980s was when science fiction franchises got big."  Okay, so it has a clumsy title, but it runs down the various science-fiction franchises that flourished during the Decade of Decadence and hits all the high notes such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Back to the Future, and various successful sequels. 

All well and good, but what about all those other films and TV shows?  The less mainstream ones that make older geeks squee internally with delight like an obsessed Twilight fan whenever someone remembers them in an obscure pop-culture reference on animated shows like Family Guy, Robot Chicken or The Venture Brothers?  Well, as you might expect, here are some of my personal favorites...

This 1984 cult classic starring RoboCop's Peter Weller and John Lithgow was only made for $12,000,000 but has more charm and heart than most movies with three times the budget.  The lead character, Dr. Buckaroo Banzai, is a top particle physicist, neurosurgeon, race car driver, rock star and comic book icon who, with the help of assorted characters called the Hong Kong Cavaliers, has to save the world from the nefarious Dr. Emilio Lizardo and a group of interdimensional aliens called Red Lectroids from Planet 10.  Thankfully, the film embraces the pure absurdity of such a premise and is one of the more purely fun and entertaining movies you'll ever see.  As if this isn't enough of a reason to see this movie, rounding out the cast are Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd, Clancy Brown and Alias' Carl Lumbly.

Probably best known as "that show Courteney Cox was in before she was in Bruce Springsteen's 'Dancing in the Dark' music video," Misfits of Science debuted in October of 1985 on NBC and lasted a whole four months before being cancelled after fifteen aired episodes.  It was, however, was one of few 80s superhero shows on television (Think Heroes if it was directed by John Hughes and didn't take itself so seriously) and one that had an offbeat, quirky appeal.  Unfortunately, you can only watch this fun and now horribly-dated series via the magick of the Internets, but I think it's worth the effort, if only for the sake of curiosity.

Hmmm...Looks a little familiar, doesn't it?  Even at the age of fourteen, I was aware of how much this 1983 ABC series by Battlestar Galactica creator Glen A. Larson ripped off the original Tron film but I didn't care too much.  All I knew was, Automan looked cool, it had a superhero vibe to it and it involved computers, which meant I was watching it regardless of how bad it was.  Oh, and it was pretty bad, lasting all of twelve aired episodes.  Still, Automan had a sweet ride in the Autocar, which was shaped like a Lamborghini Countach and could turn on 90-degree angles.  On the downside, he had Desi Arnaz, Jr. as his human sidekick.

Yeah, I know, the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey barely holds a candle to the original, but part of me actually prefers 2010.  As we know now, this 1984 Peter Hyams film managed to completely miss the target of how the real 2010 turned out, but I still find it interesting to watch as long as I keep the context of the year it was made in mind.  It has some great performances by Roy Scheider, John Lithgow (see above) and yes, a much younger Helen Mirren as a Soviet cosmonaut.  2010 also has the benefit of explaining what the hell happened in 2001 and turning what was essentially an art film by Stanley Kubrick into the first of a two-part saga.  Highly underrated, in my opinion, and definitely worth another look if you've seen it already.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

DAMN Good Comic of the Week -- THE FLASH #7

"What goes around, comes around."

Apart from being the title of The Flash (vol.3) #7, it's also the central theme of this Rogue Profile issue focusing on Captain Boomerang.  Writer Geoff Johns began these sorts of between-storyline, villain spotlight issues back in the previous Flash volume and it's good to see him resuming them once again.  They give Johns the opportunity to flesh out the Flash's Rogues Gallery as characters while giving him a forum to update and tweak things more to his liking.

The last time Captain Boomerang received this much attention to his origin and background was way back in 1990 in the pages of Suicide Squad #44.  In that story, we learn about the early life of George "Digger" Harkness up until the point he becomes Captain Boomerang.  We also get the revelation that W.W. Wiggins, the toy manufacturer that hired Digger to be a spokesman for his new line of boomerangs way back in Captain Boomerang's first appearance in The Flash (vol.1) #117, was actually his real father.  An interesting way to add something to the character and bring things full circle a bit.

In Johns' take on Boomerang's origin, with art by former Flash artist Scott Kolins, he still learns that Wiggins is his natural father during a trip home for his mother's funeral, but now there's the addition that Wiggins sent him various boomerangs while he was growing up, almost as if Wiggins groomed Digger for his future as Captain Boomerang.  Also, there's a brief "deleted scene" set at some point directly after his mother's funeral where he has one last run-in with his abusive father Ian and angrily decapitates him with a razor-sharp boomerang.  It's a scene that really should've been given a bit more emphasis, instead of treating it like a simple factoid used to transition back to the present day.

Johns adds a tiny bit more to his Brightest Day mystery by having Boomerang free the imprisoned Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash, who apparently is only allowed to go by "Reverse-Flash" these days.  Because they were both resurrected by white light, Boomerang wants to know what's coming up in his future and why he's having visions about throwing a boomerang at the heroine Dove.  The Reverse-Flash claims that he knows nothing because Boomerang is unimportant to history, but warns that Boomerang will soon blame himself for freeing him.  In the next issue, we're scheduled to see a Rogue Profile on the newly-freed Reverse-Flash, so hopefully we'll learn exactly why he runs off after warning Boomerang instead of simply killing him.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Marc Guggenheim Gives His Take on THE FLASH Movie

MTV's Splash Page has posted a new interview with Marc Guggenheim, co-writer of the upcoming movie adaptation of DC Comics' The Flash and current writer on Justice Society of America, where he discusses his take on the Flash movie script and why Barry Allen was chosen as the featured Flash instead of Wally West.

Guggenheim, who previously worked on the brief Bart Allen Flash era in The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive, remarked that the decision to go with Barry was "very similar for the whole reason we went with Hal for the Green Lantern. That’s the Silver Age character. That’s the character people grew up on. That’s the name first associated with that character. So part of it is honoring the legacy aspect, and the other aspect is just practical — you can go forward, but you can’t really go backward. You can’t start with Kyle Rayner, and then do a movie with Hal Jordan."

Concerning the tone of the film, Guggenheim reiterated previous comparisons to darker films such as Seven and The SIlence of the Lambs, at least in a "mysterious and noir-ish way."  Barry's forensics CSI background will be emphasized in an attempt at "combining a crime thriller with a superhero movie."  He also mentions that there are elements of a sports movie, "because the character is so physical and I feel like there is an athleticism to his power that other superheroes don’t have."

No details on who the featured Rogue villain will be, although Chunk was specifically eliminated from the running, and laughter responses to queries about Gorilla Grodd and the Rainbow Raider seem to imply that those two are off the table as well.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dirk Gently's Holistic TV Adaptation of the Soul

At long last, Douglas Adams' literary creation Dirk Gently has finally been adapted for television...but will it be worth the wait?

Blastr have the lowdown on the new Dirk Gently series for BBC Four starring Stephen Mangan as the title character, including the first trailer which announces that the series is "Coming Soon," regardless of how soon "Soon" actually is.  Although based on Adams' two Dirk Gently novels, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, it seems this Dirk Gently series is also going to draw somewhat from the current series of Doctor Who and Sherlock, at least in terms of tone.  The BBC's official take on the series follows:

Stephen Mangan will play Douglas Adams' eccentric detective Dirk Gently in a new BBC Four drama based on the author's cult novel, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.

He is joined by Darren Boyd as his unwitting sidekick Richard Macduff and Helen Baxendale as Richard's girlfriend Susan in the adaptation by Bafta-winning Howard Overman.

Anti-hero Dirk Gently operates his eponymous detective agency based on the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. Perpetually broke, hopelessly chaotic and utterly infuriating, most people suspect Dirk is nothing more than a cheap conman. And they might be right – but nevertheless his methods, though unusual, do often produce surprising results.

When Dirk sets out to solve an apparently simple and harmless disappearance of a cat from an old lady's house, he unwittingly uncovers a double murder which, in turn, leads to a host of even more extraordinary events.

Personally, I've always imagined Dirk as a bit dirtier and seedier than what I'm seeing from this trailer.  They seem to be playing up the eccentricity to cater to Doctor Who and Sherlock fans, but as long as the spirit of the books remains intact, then I can deal just fine.  This is a Douglas Adams creation, after all, and if I can survive Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush as Zaphod Beeblebrox, I can certainly survive this.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Daft Punk's "Derezzed" Official Music Video

Greetings, Programs!

With the release of Daft Punk's soundtrack to the film Tron: Legacy arriving in stores today, it certainly makes sense that their official music video from the soundtrack would make its debut as well.  MTV has the premiere, so enjoy the nods to a few classic '80s videogames and also a great cameo by Olivia Wilde, one of the stars of Tron: Legacy, in the process.

End of line.

Friday, December 3, 2010

CW Adds RAVEN to List of Potential SMALLVILLE Replacements

Another day, another DC Comics concept reported to be in development as a replacement for the CW network's long-running series Smallville, which is ending in May 2011.

According to an article posted on Variety, the CW is developing a series based on New Teen Titans founding member Raven, created in 1980 by Marv Wolfman and George PĂ©rez.  As fans of the series know, Raven, a.k.a. Rachel Roth, is the daughter of the interdimensional demon Trigon and her human mother Angela Roth, more well known as Arella.  She has various empathic abilities as well as teleporation and the ability to manifest an astral-projected "Soul-Self."  Oh, and thanks to her paternal lineage, she also has the tendency to become evil every so often whenever the Titans books need to be shaken up a little.  One of these various "Dark Raven" episodes resulted in the character's death, but she was later resurrected in the body of a teenager so that she could be included in the current incarnation of the Teen Titans.

This potential new Raven series is being developed by Diego Gutierrez, who previously served as a co-executive producer and writer on ABC's V remake and was an assistant to Joss Whedon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.  Currently, the project only has a script order and no casting or pilot episode information is available.

Raven joins a growing list of rumored potential replacements for Smallville, including a Wonder Woman series developed by David E. Kelley that hasn't yet found a network, a Blue Beetle series that had test footage shown at this year's San Diego Comic On, a new Batman TV series to air after Christopher Nolan's final Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, and even a series based on Neil Gaiman's classic series Sandman.  Obviously, there's no reason to think that this production will progress any further than any of the others, but it does seem like the CW has a number of options in play.

Meanwhile, my long-desired Firestorm the Nuclear Man series remains nothing more than wishful thinking on my part.  Hey CW, give me a call or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter, okay?

Mr. Fantastic Confirmed as First Superhero DOCTOR WHO Fan

So there I was, reading my copy of Daredevil #512 that arrived in stores this week, when I noticed this interesting little advertisement that Marvel included showing Tony Stark, a.k.a. the invincible Iron Man, listing various gifts he's giving to his fellow Marvel superheroes for Non-Specific Holiday this year.

Although only four Marvel superheroes actually rate high to enough on Tony's list to get Non-Specific Holiday gifts this time out, I thought it was very interesting that Tony is buying the Doctor Who Series Five DVD set for Mr. Fantastic.  If you make the natural jump in logic, this means that Mr. Fantastic is a Whovian.

I mean, think about it -- If Mr. Fantastic wasn't a Whovian, why would Tony buy Series Five for Reed Richards instead of starting him off with Series One?  Reed must already have Series One through Four (and the Specials, presumably), although we have no way of knowing if he was a fan of the original series from 1963-89 or the 1996 TV movie.

Also, you have to wonder if Tony is a Doctor Who fan as well.  It's possible Tony and Reed have a mutual love of the series considering it promotes what The Late, Late Show host Craig Ferguson so eloquently and succinctly phrased "The triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism."  However, it's also equally possible that Tony simply knows that Reed wanted Series Five for a Non-Specific Holiday present this year.  Still, for two characters who are established tech geeks, it seems rather ridiculous that Tony would settle for getting him Doctor Who Series Five on standard (not to mention cheaper) DVD instead of the higher-resolution Blu-Ray format.  Of course, in the current comics, Tony is struggling to rebuild his financial empire with his new Stark Resilient company, so he may have some disposable income issues at the moment.

Some other interesting things from this list -- The Hulk must have some series body odor to deserve masculine fragrances and since Wolverine isn't allowed to smoke cigars anymore, it seems he became a gamer at some point.  FYI though, I really wouldn't sit too close to him whenever he gets very aggressive with the control pads.  SNIKT!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Craig Ferguson Leaks the Doctor Who Night Opening Number

Craig Ferguson, host of CBS' The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson, has officially earned a cherished place in Doctor Who history.  Earlier today on Twitter, Ferguson posted the followed message:

@CraigyFerg  http://tinyurl.com/2bos8gq oh no, the Dr. Who clip leaked! I'm furious! When I find out who did this... #leaktheclip

Yes, it's the opening musical number that Ferguson had originally planned to show during his recent "Doctor Who Night" episode on November 16th that featured an appearance by current Doctor Matt Smith.  At the time, Ferguson was prevented from showing the recorded number because his staff had failed to clear the legal rights to use the Doctor Who theme music in time for the broadcast.  However, he also mentioned what a shame it would be if the opening somehow found its way onto the Internets...

...and so it has.  Thank you so much, Craig!