Friday, October 29, 2010

SMALLVILLE Has More Adventures in the DC Universe


As many fans of Smallville know, the ten-year-old series has made a considerable effort to incorporate many elements from the DC Comics universe since the departure of former showrunners Alfred Gough and Miles Millar at the end of Season 7.  This has managed to make the series feel more fun and entertaining over the past few years and even though the show is in its final season, there's still more DCU goodness to come.  Courtesy of Kryptonsite, here's a list of who we can expect to see in the weeks and months ahead:

"Ambush" (November 5, 2010) -- General Sam Lane (Michael Ironside, former voice of Darkseid on Superman: The Animated Series), Lucy Lane (Peyton List) and Rick Flag (Ted Whittall)

"Abandoned" (November 12, 2010) -- Ella Lane (Teri Hatcher, former Lois Lane on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman), Granny Goodness (Christine Willes), Mad Harriet (Lindsay Hartley, wife of Green Arrow actor Justin Hartley), Jor-El (Julian Sands) and Lara (Helen Slater, former Supergirl in the Supergirl movie)

"Patriot" (November 19, 2010) -- Deathstroke (Michael Hogan, former Colonel Saul Tigh on Battlestar Galactica) and Aquaman (Alan Ritchson)

"Luthor" (December 3, 2010) -- Lionel Luthor (John Glover)

"Icarus" (Early 2011) -- Deathstroke (Michael Hogan), Hawkman (Michael Shanks) and Black Canary (Alaina Huffman)

Untitled Episode (2011) -- Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, written by Geoff Johns

And, of course, there's the upcoming showdown between Clark and the Big Bad for Season 10, Darkseid.  Here's hoping it's as good of a finale as the series deserves...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER Hype Machine Assemble!

And so, it begins...

The campaign to build positive buzz on the upcoming Captain America: The First Avenger movie began in full force today with the announcement that the official "Exclusive First Look" at the film will be in this weekend's edition of Entertainment Weekly magazine.

Featuring the first good shot of star Chris Evans in the Captain America costume, or at least one version of it, EW's article reveals that Evans had serious reservations about taking on the role and declined the role three times before finally accepting after meeting with Marvel Comics executives and director Joe Johnston.  There is also a rundown of the movie's basic plot:

The movie — which also serves to set up Marvel’s 2012 superhero team-up, The Avengers -- hews closely to Captain America’s WWII-era origins. The year is 1942, and Steve Rogers is a scrawny lad who desperately wants to fight Nazis for his country but can’t because he’s been deemed physically unfit. His fate — and his physique — is radically transformed when he signs up for Project: Rebirth, a secret military operation that turns wimps into studs using drugs and assorted sci-fi hoo-ha. There’s a love interest (Major Peggy Carter, played Haley Atwell), there’s a sidekick (Bucky Barnes, played by Sebastian Stans), and there’s the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), Hitler’s treacherous head of advanced weaponry, whose own plan for world domination involves a magical object known as The Tesseract (comic fans know it better as The Cosmic Cube).

Yes, comics fans, The Cosmic Cube is apparently now The Tesseract because "Tesseract" sounds far more sophisticated and science-fictiony than "Cosmic Cube" and it sounds far less nerdy than "Octachoron."  Expect to see numerous message board postings on various geek sites by people who haven't read comics in about ten years about how the entire film has been ruined.  Me, I'm just concerned about seeing what appears to be bullet scuff marks on Cap's vibranium shield...Ahem.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Indiana Jones and the George Lucas of Doom

It seems that South Park has been validated once again.


Blue Sky Disney has posted a rather disturbing, yet unfortunately inevitable report that George Lucas is planning to rerelease the Indiana Jones films in all-new, completely unnecessary 3D versions.  Raiders of the Lost Ark is the first film scheduled for release, so it appears as though the Indy films will premiere in order of original release as opposed to the Star Wars films, which are being rereleased in order of continuity.

Apparently, we have none other than James Cameron to blame for all this.  Lucas has been geeking out over 3D since Avatar, so cue the predictable jokes about a potential 3D release of Howard the Duck...

Monday, October 25, 2010

STAR TREK 2: THE WRATH OF GARY MITCHELL in 2012?

Well, this should tweak the classic Star Trek reboot-hating purists a bit...

According to Badass News, any previous rumors of Khan Noonian Singh being the villain for the new Star Trek movie are false.  Instead, their anonymous source reports that there won't be a traditional villain but the story will focus on a classic Trek character from the first season of the original series.  Their source refuses to name the specific character, however...
It’s definitely a character that will make fans of TOS excited. Think along the lines of Harry Mudd or Trelane or Gary Mitchell or the Talosians or the Horta. Actually it’s one of those that I named.
Of the five listed above, I have to think that Gary Mitchell would be the most interesting for a big-budget motion picture.  Mitchell was featured in the second pilot episode of Star Trek, "Where No Man Has Gone Before," in which he became a near godlike being after the U.S.S. Enterprise broke through the Galactic Barrier that exposed him to strange energy usually found in superhero origin stories told in various 1960s Marvel comics written by Stan Lee.  Predictably enough, Mitchell gradually becomes more of a threat to everyone's safety as his power increases, so Captain Kirk gets Dr. Elizabeth Dehner, the ship's psychiatrist who has also started to develop these godlike powers, to keep Mitchell at bay until Kirk can bury his weakened, not-quite-so-godlike ass under a phaser-induced rockslide. 

You can almost picture Tom Cruise begging J.J. Abrams to be Gary Mitchell, can't you?

DAMN Good Comic of the Week -- BATMAN AND ROBIN #15

Trying to make sense of a Grant Morrison story is often like trying to watch the entire series of Twin Peaks backwards while delirious with a severe case of the flu.  Some times you're rewarded with sheer brilliance and other times you want to walk right up to him at a comics convention and demand your money back.  Fortunately, the third chapter of "Batman and Robin Must Die!" storyline falls closer to the former rather than the latter.

The issue starts off with a dapper Joker in a black stovepipe hat waltzing with a skeletal corpse in a wedding dress, so you certainly can't say that Morrison doesn't come up with interesting opening hooks.  From there, we're treated to all kinds of weirdness candy such as the arrogant current Robin, Damian Wayne, bound and gagged in a coffin and wearing a red clown nose for good measure; Commissioner Gordon as a drugged captive of Professor Pyg and wearing a curly wig for good measure; and perhaps the most bizarre, current Batman Dick Grayson being shot in the back of the head with a .32 pellet by Doctor Hurt in order to cause permanent neurological damage in less than twelve hours.  Yeah, I think it's safe to say that Morrison didn't phone this issue in.

Some of the credit, of course, needs to go to artist Frazer Irving who created some stunning work that complemented this storyline perfectly.  His bold, striking Joker in particular, enhanced the sense of madness that Morrison obviously wanted and Iriving gave the entire issue a very cinematic and epic feel.  I hope this won't be the last we see of him on a Morrison Batman story because the two creators work exceedingly well together.

And as we take another step closer to what seems like the neverending return of Bruce Wayne, it finally feels like Morrison is trying his long-running threads together.  The supremely confident Doctor Hurt is visibly shaken by certain things at the end of this issue, setting up what promises to be a very promising showdown...whenever it actually arrives in stores.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

New Eighth Doctor Costume Debuts for Audio...or Something Else?

Okay, this is an interesting one.

The Doctor Who News Page is reporting that the former Eighth Doctor from Doctor Who, Paul McGann, debuted an entirely new Eighth Doctor costume at the Armageddon Pop Culture Expo in Auckland, New Zealand this weekend and apparently, it even has a stamp of approval from the BBC.

The costume is comprised of a double-breasted naval jacket with gold buttons and a courier pouch bag and a new Sonic Screwdriver with a wooden handle made by none other than Weta Workshop, the creative geniuses who handled the effects for the Lord of the Rings films.  The shirt and trousers shown were McGann's own clothing and not part of the costume.

Supposedly, it was decided that the Eighth Doctor's costume that was used in the 1996 TV Movie was felt to be "out of date" and this new costume will be used for "promotional purposes," presumably for the Eighth Doctor audio adventures by Big Finish Productions that McGann has been recording since 2001. 

There's something a bit peculiar about all this, though, that's leaving me with a number of questions:
  • So why change the costume now?  McGann's been making Eighth Doctor audios since 2001, so nine years in (or fourteen years after the TV Movie) the established costume for an eccentric time-traveler suddenly feels "out of date"?
  • And why bother with a new costume at all for something primarily designed to be heard and not seen?  If you want to do some promotional photos or covers for the audio adventures, why not just use the established costume or something close that can be digitally manipulated using Photoshop?  I know there are various reports that McGann hated his Eighth Doctor wig, but again, there's Photoshop or other means to work around it.
  • Why go to all the trouble of having Weta design and build an entirely new Sonic Screwdriver?  Granted, it's very cool that they did so but if this is solely for "promotional purposes," it sure seems like a bit of overkill, doesn't it?  It's like going to Industrial Light and Magic and having them design a new sword for Buffy Summers to use in the Dark Horse Comics Buffy the Vampire Slayer series.
So now I'm wondering if Paul McGann is going to reprise the Eighth Doctor role in something else besides the audio adventures.  The 50th anniversary of Doctor Who is just over three years away, so this seems a bit premature for that, but why not another multi-Doctor event such as the "Time Crash" special made for the annual Children in Need charity telethon?  And hey, there are those occasional rumors about a possible Doctor Who feature film, right?  If using the traditional costume that McGann disliked was a potential sticking point in getting him to reprise the Eighth Doctor, then why not let him debut a new one that he does like?  And so he has.  So what comes next...?

Cue the Doctor Who cliffhanger music.  Oooooooweeeeeeoooooo....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

DAMN Good Television -- THE WALKING DEAD: "Days Gone Bye"


Thanks to the strange magicks of the Internets, I was able to see the first episode of the highly-anticipated AMC zombie series The Walking Dead, based on the Image Comics series by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard.  Many fans of the comic have been wondering for some time how well the series would be adapted for television and I can now reassure anyone who happens to be concerned that the TV series is as good and as gory as you hoped it would be. 

I'll try not to go into too many spoilers here, but by and large, the first episode (directed by none other than filmmaker Frank Darabont) was considerably faithful to the source material.  Drawing heavily from the entire first issue and about 2/3 of the second, "Days Gone Bye" sets up the series premise and central characters nicely.  We follow police officer Rick Grimes as he wakes from a gunshot wound to the chest into a nightmare zombie apocalypse with no idea of what happened to the world while he was unconscious. 

As Rick struggles with undead zombies shambling around him, he soon encounters a fellow survivor named Morgan Jones and his son Duane.  Morgan brings Rick (and the audience) up to speed on the basics of this particular zombie Earth and helps him begin his quest to find his missing wife Lori and son Carl.  After hooking himself and Morgan up with some guns and ammo from the police station, Rick heads off to Atlanta, on horseback no less, and soon ends up walking smack dab into a huge zombie cliffhanger.

Rick is understandably the central focus of this first episode, so the bulk of the responsibility falls on actor Andrew Lincoln.  Although British, Lincoln does a solid enough job as the cowboy-wannabe Rick and conveys the right amount of confusion and horror that you would expect to see in a character thrust into this kind of situation.  It's going to be interesting to see how well Lincoln handles the noticeable change in Rick later on as the emotional fatigue and trauma of all the insanity of survival set in later on.

The real heart of the episode, however, is Lennie James as Morgan.  In a welcome addition to the series comic mythos, Morgan faces the agony of trying to decide whether he should shoot and kill his own wife, who at some point became one of the zombies shambling around outside his and Duane's home.  Morgan's pain and conflict over the decision is compelling as he tries to set aside his own feelings to spare his son and his wife any additional suffering.  As if I was rereading the original comic, I found myself wondering why Morgan and Duane end up going their separate ways from Rick.

We get a taste, if you'll pardon the pun, of the other regular characters, primarily Lori and Carl, along with Rick's police partner (and future rival) Shane.  Interestingly, we jump ahead a bit in the mythos with the revelation that Lori and Shane have become romantically involved after believing that Rick is either dead or lost somewhere.  It appears as though this television adaptation isn't simply going strictly issue by issue and seems content with adding, changing and developing some things along the way.  Thankfully, the core saga remains intact so far and considering the storytelling differences between the mediums of comics and TV, you almost have to expect that some story elements will be different.  As long as the quality of future episodes remains as high as the first, The Walking Dead will become as well-regarded as the comics themselves.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sylvester McCoy is Unofficially Officially in THE HOBBIT


Rumors that Sylvester McCoy, the former Seventh Doctor from Doctor Who, is going to be in the upcoming screen adaptation of The Hobbit have been circulating for a while now.  Some have speculated that McCoy is going to play Bilbo Baggins, the part he previously lost to Ian Holm in the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it seems more and more likely that he will be portraying Radagast the Brown instead.

According to an article posted on TheOneRing.net, they received a "spy report" claiming that McCoy has verified his casting as Radagast:

My brother works at Katmandu in the city (Melbourne) and who should walk in looking for appropriate attire for New Zealand but Sylvester McCoy! He was more than willing to discuss The Hobbit, and is indeed playing Radagast the brown. He said he was “some wizard”, to which my brother offered up “Radagast the brown?” and Sylvester said “Yes, that’s it!”. He then confessed he couldn’t find him anywhere in the book. Unfortunately my brother isn’t as big a fan as myself, so didn’t give Sylvester the grilling I certainly would have! He did offer up this interesting tidbit, though: He was pipped at the post by Ian Holm to play Bilbo in the original lotr trilogy!

Obviously, a spy report (especially by someone using the alias "Viggo Yearning") isn't official confirmation by any means, but it does add a good bit of fuel to this particular fire.  Supposedly, Radagast's part has been beefed up for the film adaptation, so hopefully this means that another previous Doctor would get to appear in a major motion picture.  It's certainly been a while since that young upstart David Tennant was Barty Crouch, Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade...

After several weeks of watching prices, I finally went ahead and picked up The Dark Knight on Blu-Ray today for $10 at Target.  Now, I already own the movie on DVD, but ten bones seemed like enough of a justifable reason to upgrade to a higher-resolution Blu-Ray version.

Since getting a Blu-Ray player earlier this year as an anniversary gift, I've been trying to decide which of the movies in my existing DVD collection are worth the upgrade to Blu-Ray, which of them aren't, and how much I'm willing to spend on the ones that are.  Yeah, I know, really important stuff to worry about, right?  All that trivial stuff about the economy, wars being fought overseas or upcoming elections...Meh. 

So as I attempt to tackle these pressing issues to mankind, it seems the movies I want to upgrade the most fall into two categories -- recent big-budget epics and all-time favorite classics.  Specifically, I'm focusing on recent films like The Dark Knight, which was beautifully crafted and made to be seen in a sharper resolution than standard DVD, or classics like Superman (1978), which was made long before the digital age but ranks among my personal favorites.

Once I've decided about whether I want to upgrade the film, the question then becomes What price am I willing to pay to upgrade a movie I already own?  For the sake of keeping myself in check budgetwise, I've imposed a $10 limit on buying Blu-Rays that are already available for purchase.  This means I check the ads for Best Buy and Target on a weekly basis looking for sales or cuts in regular prices until I find one of the movies I want at that $10 price or below.  Sometimes, though, a movie arrives on Blu-Ray for the first time, possibly remastered for an even better picture, but it may be quite some time before it goes down to the $10 level.  If it's something I really want to upgrade, I'll scout around for the cheapest available price or hold off in the hopes that someone will get it for me for my birthday or Christmas.

So these are my methods of madness.  If anyone else finds themselves in similar situations and has their own criteria for upgrading, I'd love to know how you handle this sort of thing.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

ESPN and Marvel Comics Twist the Knife in Cleveland's Back

As if LeBron James performing the ultimate Dick Move by dumping the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat live on a primetime ESPN TV special for the entire nation to see wasn't cruel enough to the city of Cleveland, Ohio, ESPN the Magazine partners up with none other than Marvel Comics to twist the knife that James left in Cleveland's back.

ESPN the Magazine's NBA season preview arroves this Friday and features storylines for all 30 teams using classic Marvel comics imagery.  One scene features Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant wearing The Infinity Gauntlet comprised of five NBA championship rings and reaching for his sixth while other NBA stars (including LeBron James) and various Marvel superheroes surrounding him reach for the same thing.  Why the Marvel superheroes actually want these NBA championship rings in the first place remains a mystery.

However, it's the artwork using James in a recreation of the classic story "Spider-Man No More!" from Amazing Spider-Man (vol.1 #50) that feels the most insulting to some Cavs fans and also some comics fans.  The first scene has Peter Parker walking away from his Spider-Man getup tossed in the trash can with the text: "I was just a young, unthinking teenager when I first became Spider-Man. But the years have a way of slipping by, of changing the whole world about us. And every boy, sooner or later, must put away his toys and become a man!"   Scene two, labeled "Unamazing Cavaliers" and "King James no more!," carries an image of LeBron James in a Miami Heat uniform walking away from his crumpled number 23 Cavs jersey in the garbage can.

Very classy move here, ESPN and Marvel.  Why not show some artwork of Cleveland Indians pitcher José Mesa tanking the ninth-inning lead in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series while you're at it?

Friday, October 15, 2010

THE HOBBIT Finally Gets Greenlit with Peter Jackson Directing


According to Michael Cieply at the The New York Times, only an ongoing union dispute in New Zealand stands in the way of production of The Hobbit starting in February.  The financing between Warner Brothers' New Line Cinema and MGM for the two films has apparently been worked out and Peter Jackson's deal to direct has been finalized.  So much for everyone worrying because Guillermo del Toro was off the project...

Meanwhile, The Wrap states that $30 million has already been spent on the project, with the total back-to-back production costing $400 million.  Warner Brothers was nervous about moving ahead because of the financial trouble with MGM, but corporate takeover giant Carl Icahn backed a plan to have Lionsgate merge with MGM.  As long as the MGM debtholders approve the plan, the merger should go forward.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Five Comic Books That Deserve Movies

Okay, so there are plenty of comic book films being made these days.  This year alone gave us Kick-Ass, The Losers, Iron Man 2, Jonah Hex, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and Red, while 2011 has Thor, Priest, X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern, Captain America: The First Avenger and Cowboys & Aliens on the schedule.  Some of these wlll be great, some will disappoint and some will be so insanely bad you can't believe how they were even made in the first place. 

As a comic book fan of over three decades now (Yeesh...), it can get a bit frustrating at times to see the films that make it to the big screen over the ones that don't.  So for your consideration (and possibly my own desire to vent), here are five comic book properties that, in my humble opinion, are currently being overlooked and deserve some overpriced movie theater love:

1.  The Doom Patrol -- There are two ways to adapt this into a film.  One is the straightforward superhero route with the original DP team of Robotman, Elasti-Woman, Negative Man and The Chief as a somewhat-strange team of heroes that would otherwise be freakish outcasts saving the world.  The other is to go the more surreal take developed by Grant Morrison featuring Robotman, Crazy Jane, Rebis and The Chief encountering bizarre villains like The Brotherhood of Dada, Red Jack or The Scissormen.  Either way could be interesting and potentially groundbreaking if handled properly, but I imagine the more traditional superhero approach would sell more tickets.




2.  Sleeper -- Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' modern gem was optioned in 2008 by Tom Cruise and Sam Raimi with Cruise reportedly to star as the series' lead character, Holden Carver, but there's been little to no development on it since.  Essentially a superpowered version of the TV series Wiseguy, Sleeper features a man impervious to pain and also able to use that pain on others placed undercover inside a criminal organization.  If you think of the film along the lines of The Departed with superpowers, it's easy to see why Sleeper could do some killer box office.







3.  Scarlet -- I know, the Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev series is all of two issues old so far, but it's shaping up to be a very memorable book and one that would presumably make an interesting film as well.  The story of an ordinary girl whose boyfriend is killed by a corrupt police officer, driving her to declare all-out war on the establishment sounds like an action/revenge movie on its own, but Bendis' sharp fourth-wall breaking storytelling would make this movie stand apart.  Picture Moonlighting meets Mad Max and you'll get an idea of how unique a Scarlet film could be.






4.  Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. -- One of Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen's lighter concepts, Nextwave mixes extreme superhero violence and comedy to brilliant satirical effect using various minor Marvel superheroes that could never land a movie of their own.  Now, superhero comedies traditionally don't do well at the box office, but the sheer insanity and fun that permeates this series may be able to overcome that expectation.  At this point, it would be nice to see a Marvel Universe film that doesn't take itself so seriously and broadens the superhero genre a bit in the process.






5.  Camelot 3000 -- To be perfectly frank, it amazes me that someone hasn't turned this classic series by MIke W. Barr and Brian Bolland into a movie before now.  Camelot 3000 takes everything Arthurian legend fans have been desperately wanting to see in a film since 1981's Excalibur and rockets it into the year 3000.  The idea of a resurrected King Arthur and seven reincarnated Knights of the Round Table coming back to save 31st Century Earth from an alien invasion led by his evil half-sister Morgan Le Fay is so epic that only film could do the story justice.  At a Watchmen-sized length of twelve comic issues, the film adaptation could end up being close to three hours, but that certainly didn't stop the Lord of the Rings films from being all kinds of incredible, now did it?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Speculating on the New Spider-Man Movie


The new, still-untitled Spider-Man movie continues to take shape with the recent news that Welsh actor Rhys Ifans will portray the film's villain.  Of course, the big question immediately becomes which villain?

Presuming that director Marc Webb doesn't go back to the well and recycle a villain that has already appeared in the previous three Sam Raimi films, there are any number of potential bad guys remaining -- Electro, Mysterio, The Lizard, Kraven the Hunter, The Vulture, The Chameleon, Morbius, The Scorpion, Carnage, Morlun, The Shocker, The Rhino, The Jackal and so on.  However, with Webb expressing his fondness for Brian Michael Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man series, in addition to the decision to recast the roles of Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, respectively, it certainly seems like some sort of reboot is being planned.

The casting of Emma Stone, in particular, gives the impression that Webb will be using the Ultimate universe version of Gwen Stacy.  Ultimate Gwen is considerably edgier than the traditional Gwen, more rebellious and strong-willed, making her the type of character that Stone has depicted before in films like Superbad, Zombieland and Easy A.  Considering that the previous three films established Mary Jane Watson as Peter's primary love interest, though, this leads me to think there has to be a deliberate reason for using Gwen over MJ.  So, fellow comics fans, what is Gwen Stacy primarily known for in the Spider-Man books?  You guessed it...Dying.

In the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #121, The Green Goblin kidnaps Gwen as herobait to lure Spider-Man into a showdown at the George Washington Bridge.  The predictable fight ensues and the Goblin hurls Gwen off the bridge, but Gwen is killed during the fall when Spidey attempts to rescue her by snagging her with a web strand and the whiplash effect snaps her neck.  Spider-Man, of course, cries over Gwen's corpse and swears revenge as the Goblin escapes.  In the next issue, Spider-Man tracks the Goblin down in a warehouse, beats the crap out of him but ultimately isn't able to kill him.  Instead, the Goblin tries to kill Spider-Man by impaling him from behind with the Goblin's glider, but Spidey senses the glider and the Goblin ends up impaling himself and dies (at least for a good while).

But wait...Didn't we already see that impaling scene in the first Spider-Man movie?  We did, but Gwen wasn't in the first film, was she?  Mary Jane was and she didn't even have the courtesy to die.  So if Webb and company are using Gwen and they decide to go the whole Gwen dies/Spidey gets revenge route in the new film, what major Spider-Man villain can they use in the Green Goblin's place?  All together now...

The Hobgoblin


Although first appearing years earlier as a billionaire with underworld connections by the name of Roderick Kingsley, The Hobgoblin officially debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #238 and the character's true identity became a major mystery within the Marvel universe for thirteen years.  The character is essentially an upgraded Green Goblin, in terms of devices and strength, who learned of one of the Green Goblin's secret lairs and uncovered Norman Osborn's secrets and technology.  Since the non-comics reading Spider-Man moviegoer is already familiar with the Green Goblin, introducing the Hobgoblin at this stage would require minimal backstory and still provide a similar enough character to the original Goblin in order to tell a version of "The Death of Gwen Stacy" story from the comics.

Granted, if the new movie is intended to essentially reboot the film series, Ifans could simply be cast as the original Green Goblin, taking over from Willem Dafoe, but even the Batman films had at least nineteen years between Jokers.  Dafoe's Green Goblin, Power Rangers villain mask and all, is still too fresh in everyone's minds so while it may be easy to recast the roles of Peter and Gwen, I have to think that the Hobgoblin would be a more sensible choice. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

DOCTOR WHO is Finally, Actually Filming in America (UPDATED WITH NEW 2011 TEASER!)


According to a Twitter post this morning by BBC America, the upcoming 2011 series of Doctor Who will begin with a two-parter written by showrunner Steven Moffat that is set and actually filmed in the United States for the first time ever.  Doctor Who News Page states that the episodes will be filmed in Utah, for a story set in the late 1960s in which the Doctor, Amy and Rory find themselves on a secret summons that takes them on an adventure from the desert in Utah – right to the Oval Office itself.

Production on episodes one and two of the new season starts in Cardiff this month and Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill will then travel to America in mid November to shoot pivotal scenes. They will also be joined by Alex Kingston who reprises her role as River Song.

Showrunner and lead writer, Steven Moffat, said: “The Doctor has visited every weird and wonderful planet you can imagine, so he was bound get round to America eventually! And of course every Doctor Who fan will be jumping up and down and saying he’s been in America before. But not for real, not on location – and not with a story like this one! Oh, you wait!”
Doctor Who has featured several locations set in the States before, but those were creatively shot in other locations made to look like the U.S., such as:

"The Chase," which included scenes set at the top of the Empire State Building, where a young man from Alabama, Morton Dill, tells the First Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki that it is 1966.  This was presumably shot inside a BBC studio.

"The Gunfighters," which was set in 1881 Tombstone, Arizona, featuring the First Doctor, Steven and Dodo becoming involved in the events leading up to the famous gunfight at the OK Corral.  This was filmed inside BBC studios.

"Doctor Who: The Movie," which was set in New Year's Eve of 1999 in San Francisco, California, where the Seventh Doctor regenerated into the Eighth Doctor and fought the Master.  This was actually filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada.

"Dalek," which was set in 2012 Utah, with the Ninth Doctor and Rose encountering the first Dalek since the mysterious Time War that supposedly wiped them all out.  Filming actually took place at the National Museum and Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

"Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks," which was set in November 1930 in New York City, New York, with the Tenth Doctor and Martha taking on the Daleks once again.  Outdoor scenes were actually filmed in Wales and using various recorded film.

UPDATE!  And it seems BBC America has even provided a short teaser trailer for these episodes...


Saturday, October 9, 2010

DAMN Good Comic of the Week -- THE BOYS #47

And BOOM goes the dynamite.

For years now, fans of Dynamite Entertainment's The Boys have been simultaneously anticipating and dreading the inevitable conversation between Wee Hughie and his girlfriend Annie January, who is secretly the superheroine Starlight.  We knew it was going to be brutal, we knew it was going to be absolutely devastating to their relationship...but like a car accident taking place right in front of you, you can't help but see what happens.

In part four of the "Believe" storyline, everything officially hits the fan as Hughie tells Annie that he knows the unpleasant details of how Annie joined the elite superhero group The Seven.  Despite all the seriously twisted sexual and violent ideas involving superheroes from writer Garth Ennis, he's made Hughie and Annie's relationship the heart and soul of The Boys.  They're the two characters in all of this insanity that you're rooting for, perhaps even moreso after this issue.

Hughie's boss, Billy Butcher, is certainly no help, as he continues to manipulate Hughie's hurt feelings in order to keep Hughie focused on The Boys' campaign against superheroes.  Butcher preys on Hughie's raw insecurities, telling him how "damaged" and "mental" Annie must truly be to hide the truth of how she joined The Seven.  The real tragedy of the whole thing, of course, is that Hughie and Annie genuinely love one another, but it remains to be seen if Hughie will be able to put this painful knowledge behind him.

He'd better do it pretty quick, though, because the corrupt Superman-like Homelander is gathering other superheroes for his own as-yet-unrevealed masterplan.  The Homelander apparently feels nothing for regular humanity anymore, as shown by his casual and indifferent killing of a family of four by simply dropping their car through a set of clouds high above.  The scene is very cold and deliberate by Ennis, helping to set the stage for what promises to be the ultimate confrontation between The Boys and the Homelander's cadre of superheroes...and I'll go out on a limb here and say that not all of them are going to survive it.

The Most Important Song Ever Written

Happy 70th birthday, John, wherever you are...and thanks.

Friday, October 8, 2010

New DOCTOR WHO Comic Series from IDW Materializes in January

Bow ties are finally cool at IDW Publishing.

During today's panel at the New York Comic Con, IDW made the official announcement that Doctor Who will be returning as a monthly comic book series in January featuring the Eleventh Doctor as portrayed on screen by Matt Smith. 

With Tony Lee continuing on as writer from the previous series featuring David Tennant's Tenth Doctor, Doctor Who #1 finds the Doctor and his current TV companions, Amy Pond and Rory Williams, battling holographic spam and 'friending' requests on a planet that's hours from destruction by an alien race. Artist Andrew Currie draws the first issue, with Tommy Lee Edwards offering covers on each issue.  Also, Eisner Award winning Fables superstar Mark Buckingham also offers an incentive cover for issue #1, and will provide interior art on an upcoming issue, as well.  Kelley Yates will also provide an incentive cover for issue #1, featuring a die-cut gatefold image that allows fans to open the TARDIS and see the Doctor inside.

Joining IDW's Doctor Who comic book series for art duties is Richard Piers Rayner (Road to Perdition), who draws a run-in between The Doctor and Jack the Ripper in issues #2-4. Artists Matthew Dow Smith (Doctor Who, Starman) and Chris Samnee (Thor: The Mighty Avenger) will also be featured for special story arcs.

IDW's new ongoing comic book series will reportedly feature holographic spam fighting Mad Max-esque mercenaries, Victorian Jack The Ripper suspense, penalty shoot-outs against Vikings and Cybernetic Space Pirate Dinosaurs among the Eleventh Doctor's various adventures.  According to an article posted on IDW's website, Doctor Who editor Denton J. Tipton remarks "There's going to be something for everyone in this story.  For example, fans of the classic series should be on the look out for a classic Doctor Who villain!"

"I could tell you who they are, but I'd have to kill you," added Tony Lee. "Let's just say we've been given special dispensation to use them, and we have a killer story -- in all senses of the word!"


With the Daleks rumored to be off the table for the television series in 2011, perhaps those cuddly exterminating mutant machines will return to plague the Eleventh Doctor after all.  Whatever happens, though, there's only one word that sums up my feelings about this news...

GERONIMO!!!

New SMALLVILLE: "Homecoming" Trailer

It looks like Smallville fans have a lot to look forward to on Friday, October 15th when the long-running series airs its 200th episode, "Homecoming."

TV Guide posted a new trailer for the episode, which is different from the one that will air at the end of tonight's episode, "Supergirl."  Featuring the return of James Marsters in a slightly-different role than his Brainiac character, "Homecoming" has Clark attending his high school reunion with several nods to his past and more importantly, glimpses of his future in what TV Guide claims as "the most 'Man of Steel' moment the show has thrown at us so far."


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Thursday, October 7, 2010

DC Comics Drops Prices on $3.99 Titles

It looks like DC Comics wasn't pleased with the order numbers on their new $3.99 Batman titles and complaints about the 33% price-gouging to be just like Marvel, so they're wising up and slashing the increased prices.  From DC Comics' The Source...

New York, October 7, 2010– Beginning January 2011, DC Comics will implement a line-wide pricing adjustment, lowering the prices of all standard length 32-page ongoing comic book titles currently priced at $3.99 to $2.99, it was announced today by DC Comics Co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio.

“Today’s announcement re-affirms DC Comics’ commitment to both our core fans and to comic book store retailers,” said Jim Lee, DC Comics Co-Publisher. “For the long term health of the industry, we are willing to take a financial risk so that readers who love our medium do not abandon the art form.”

“As Co-Publishers, we listened to our fans and to our partners in the retail community who told us that a $3.99 price point for 32 pages was too expensive. Fans were becoming increasingly reluctant to sample new titles and long term fans were beginning to abandon titles and characters that they’d collected for years.” said Dan DiDio, DC Comics Co-Publisher. “We needed a progressive pricing strategy that supports our existing business model and, more importantly, allows this creative industry to thrive for years to come. With the exceptions of oversized comic books, like annuals and specials, we are committed to a $2.99 price point.”

When taking into account mini-series, annuals and specials, more than 80% of DC’s comic books will be priced at $2.99.

As of January, the following titles standard length ongoing titles, previously priced at $3.99 for 32 pages/22 story pages, will be priced at $2.99 with 32 pages/20 story pages:

American Vampire
Batman: The Dark Knight
Batman Incorporated
Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors
JSA All-Stars


As of January, the following licensed titles, previously priced at $3.99, will be priced at $2.99:

Gears of War
God of War
Kane & Lynch
Ratchet & Clank


As of January, the following ongoing titles previously priced at $3.99 for 40 pages/30 story pages including co-features, will no longer include co-features and will be priced at $2.99 for 32 pages/ 20 story pages:

Action Comics
Adventure Comics
Batman: Streets of Gotham
Detective Comics
Doc Savage
Justice League of America
Legion of Super-Heroes
The Spirit


In January, five books are $3.99 for 40 pages/30 story pages:

Batman: Europa # 1
First Wave # 6
DCU: Legacies # 9
Weird Worlds # 1
World of Warcraft: Curse of the Worgen


The following oversized anniversary issue will be $4.99 for 48 pages/38 story pages:

Hellblazer # 275

“Fans of our co-features should stay tuned. Some of these characters will find a new platform,” said Dan DiDio. “Going forward, mini-series and special events may feature a different price point and page count to best allow writers and artists the flexibility of format and story pages they need to tell their stories best.”

All I can say is that in this poor economy, jacking up prices makes absolutely no sense if you want your readers to keep buying monthly periodicals.  Now how about you do the same, Marvel?

Who is the New DOCTOR WHO Character Idris?

In an article posted on Entertainment Weekly's Shelf Life column, upcoming Doctor Who Series Six writer Neil Gaiman teases a very interesting hint about Idris, a character appearing in his as-yet-untitled episode scheduled to air sometime around Easter 2011.  Gaiman remarked that Idris "may very well be an old acquaintance of the Doctor with a new face."

Previously, Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat released a tease of his own in his Production Notes column for Doctor Who Magazine #426.  In a series of vague hints for Series Six, Moffat stated "The startling truth about Idris' new soul -- even the Doctor doesn't believe her!"

So presuming that this isn't some deliberate ruse designed solely to mess with hardcore Whovians, who will Idris turn out to be?  According to some baby name websites, Idris is generally a male name of Welsh or Arabic origin meaning "fiery leader" or "prophet," but the Doctor Who character is presumably female due to the casting of actress Suranne Jones.  With this in mind, here's my prime list of suspects:

Romanadvoratrelundar, a.k.a. Romana, a.k.a. Fred -- Last seen chronologically on television in the episode "Warriors' Gate," the Doctor's former companion Romana was written out of the series by leaving her behind in the alternate universe E-Space along with K-9 Mark II.  In the Doctor Who novels written while the series was off the air between 1989 and 2005, it was revealed that Romana eventually left E-Space and returned home to Gallifrey, where she became Lady President.  What happened to Romana during the Time War that destroyed Gallifrey remains unknown.

The Rani -- Last seen officially on television in the episode "Time and the Rani," the villainous Time Lady was left a prisoner of the Tetraps on the planet Tetrapyriarbus.  In the Doctor Who novels, the Rani escaped the planet but ended up being killed and beheaded by a character named Father Kreiner in the novel Interference: Book One.  However, her fate may have changed as a result of the Time War.


Susan Foreman (Campbell) -- Last seen in the episode "The Five Doctors," the Doctor's granddaughter and first companion was last shown returning to her home on 22nd Century Earth after being captured and brought to the Death Zone on Gallifrey by Lord President Borusa.  Whether Susan survived or even participated in the events of the Time War remains unknown.



Jenny -- Last seen in the episode "The Doctor's Daughter," Jenny was a female clone artificially grown from the Doctor's genes.  Although the Doctor believes her to be dead after suffering a fatal gunshot, she later returned to life but did not regenerate and was last shown traveling the universe somewhere in a stolen shuttlecraft.  It should be noted that Jenny was originally slated to die in the episode, but that changed at the suggestion of none other than Steven Moffat.

Astrid Peth -- Last seen in the episode "Voyage of the Damned," Astrid was about to plunge to her death defeating Max Capricorn but dematerialized using a teleport bracelet.  The Doctor used an advanced Transmat system to try to recover her, but he was only able to retrieve her in a ghost-like form so he soon allowed her atoms to scatter into space, forever travelling the cosmos.  Curiously, the name Astrid (itself an anagram of TARDIS) also contains the same letters that make up the name Idris.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES: "Death of the Doctor" Spoilers


According to the UK's The List, the upcoming "Death of the Doctor" story for The Sarah Jane Adventures will feature more Doctor Who connections than appearances by the Eleventh Doctor and former companion Jo Grant. 

Fans of the sci-fi shows will see characters Sarah Jane and Jo pair up to rescue The Doctor after they are tricked into believing he has been killed, and invited to his funeral.

But the pair quickly realise the ceremony is a trap, and learn that a group of aliens called The Shansheeth have captured the TARDIS, leaving the Time Lord stranded on a planet.

These vulture-like aliens then attempt to use a "memory weave" to connect with the pair's brains and past thoughts, and learn how to unlock the time-travelling machine through their past experiences with The Doctor.

As they reminisce, viewers of the show will watch video flashbacks of previous Time Lords William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, whilst their iconic nemeses The Daleks, Sea Devils, Sontarans and Davros also make a return.

As diehard Whovians know, Jo has only met the First, Second and Third Doctors, the Daleks and the Sea Devils of those listed (as far as we know), so it seems like most of these flashbacks will come from Sarah Jane's memories.  If so, I have to wonder if Peter Davison and David Tennant's Doctors will be included in the footage as well. 

"Death of the Doctor" is written by former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies (using animal monsters yet again, go figure) and is scheduled to air in the UK on October 25th.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I May Have to Declare War on SunChips

As anyone that has eaten Frito-Lay's SunChips in recent months knows, their current environmentally-friendly biodegradable chip bags are insanely loud and noisy as all hell.  There you are, sitting in front of your TV watching Doctor Who or House or whatever late in the evening, trying to relax, and you get a sudden craving for some SunChips snacky goodness.  So you go to get the bag, hoping not to disturb your significant other in the process, and reach for the bag... 
KARUNCHRACKLERUNCHRACKLERUNCH!!!!

Well, it seems I'm not the only one with this important troubling issue.  After receiving numerous customer complaints, Frito-Lay announced today that they are pulling most of the dreaded SunChips bags.  Wait...most?  Yep, not all of them.  In what can only be considered an absolute Dick Move against me (Okay, maybe some other people as well),Frito-Lay is keeping the damnable loud eco-packaging in the Original flavor only.  Original isn't even their top flavor, it comes in second after Nacho flavored, so why punish those of us who prefer SunChips in their pure, uncorrupted state?  Now, I'm as environmentally-conscious as the next guy, which means I'll try to do something to benefit the environment as long as it's convenient and requires minimal effort on my part, but this...this is going too far.

In an attempt to gain some answers, I tracked down Frito-Lay's official account on Twitter, @Fritolay, and asked them, prompting the following exchange this afternoon:

To @Fritolay Why are you keeping only the original Sun Chips in that horrible eco packaging? Those are the only ones we eat! Go all or nothing

To @CharlesSkaggs We're still very committed to sustainability but know we need to make some tweaks. Less noisy bag is in development now!

To @Fritolay Sustainability is great, but why punish only a select group with the loud eco bag? All we Original lovers want is fair treatment.

As of 9 p.m. this evening, no response back from Frito-Lay, which means I may have to declare war on SunChips until this obvious bag discrimination against Original flavor lovers is finally abolished.  Now, you may ask "Couldn't you just pour them out into a bowl?"  Sure, if I felt like eating the entire contents of a bag of SunChips before they go stale by sitting out on a table.  And in a plastic bowl no less?  C'mon...  "So what about putting them in a food storage bag?"  I thought of that, too, but then you have to throw away the plastic bag, which defeats the whole environmentally-friendly purpose of the obnoxious chip bag, doesn't it? 

Frito-Lay has obviously outmaneuvered us mere Original Flavor SunChips lovers under the guise of environmental sensitivity, but there's no telling what their final endgame may be.  Even more horrifying, this so-called "sustainability," whatever it may involve, could just be the beginnings of a vast worldwide snack chip conspiracy.  So be vigilant, protect your loved ones and in the name of all that is holy, keep a watchful eye on your snack chips...before it's too late.


Monday, October 4, 2010

My 15 Seconds of Fame on THE JIM ROME SHOW

For any sports fans that are familiar with the nationally-syndicated sports talk radio program The Jim Rome Show, you know that host Jim Rome has recently taken to reading posts to his Twitter account @JimRome live on the air.  One of mine, referencing the Cleveland Browns finally getting their first win of the season against the Cincinnati Bengals, was read on-air and even made it to Rome's website:


For those not familiar with the show, the "Coffee is for closers" reference is from the film Glengarry Glen Ross, which is often played as an audio clip joke whenever a particular sports team or player manages to finish and win (or not finish and lose) a specific event.

Either way, I'm giving my fifteen seconds of fame a customary Jim Rome Show celebratory OctoYeah...

YeahYeahYeahYeah!
Yeah!
YEAH!
YEAAHHH!
YAAAAYYYYYYYEAH!!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Some Wondering About the New WONDER WOMAN TV Series


As announced yesterday on various comics and entertainment news sites such as Deadline, producer David E. Kelley (Boston Legal, Ally McBeal) is writing and producing a new television series based on DC Comics' classic character Wonder Woman.  Many who grew up in the Generation X era, such as myself, have fond memories of the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman series that aired from 1975-79 on ABC and CBS, so it should be interesting to see if Kelley can recreate that kind of TV magic for a completely different audience and time. 

Details on Kelley's approach are vague at the moment, but here's my own take on how the new TV series should be developed:

The Setting -- As far as I'm concerned, the best run of Wonder Woman comics was by George Pérez, so his 1987 reboot of the character is a perfect foundation for the series, particularly the first six-issue arc, "Gods and Mortals."  After becoming the designated Amazonian champion to stop the evil Ares, god of war, from bringing death and destruction to the outside world, Princess Diana soon encounters Steve Trevor, a United States Air Force pilot.   Steve's F-22 fighter jet ends up being taken over by Ares and starts to attack Paradise Island, but Diana destroys the jet and rescues the injured Steve in the process.  The goddess Athena appears and tells Diana that the key to defeating Ares is located in "Man's World," where Steve comes from, and Athena transports Diana and Steve to a hospital near Harvard University in Massachusetts.  As Steve recuperates from his injuries, Diana meets Julia Kapatelis, a Greek mythology professor at the university, who brings Diana home to meet her daughter Vanessa.  Diana, with Julia and Vanessa's help, begins to learn about "Man's World" under the guise of Diana Prince while working to defeat the ever-increasing threat of Ares.

The Characters --

Wonder Woman/Princess Diana/Diana Prince -- Somewhere in her very early twenties, Diana is young and somewhat naive but incredibly intelligent and formidable.  A strong combination of the best modern-day TV heroines, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Buffy Summers, Alias' Sydney Bristow, Firefly's River Tam and Xena, Warrior Princess.

Captain Steve Trevor -- Essentially Diana's love interest, Steve is in his mid-to-late twenties and fiercely dedicated to the Air Force.  He can be a bit gung-ho and impulsive at times, but he excels as a fighter jet pilot and finds himself conflicted with his current relationship with Etta Candy and his sudden feelings for Diana.

Julia Kapatelis -- Taking on the role of Diana's new mentor, the fortysomething Julia helps Diana master the English language at an incredible pace and tries to help her adjust to her new life in America.  Very driven, practical and opinionated, Julia provides a good sounding board for Diana and naturally acts as a substitute mother figure.

Vanessa Kapatelis -- Desperate to live up to the accomplishments of her mother, eighteen-year-old Vanessa is just starting out as a freshman at Harvard.  Vanessa is initially thrown when her mother brings Diana home to stay in their house, but soon bonds with Diana who sees Vanessa as a younger sister with a much better grasp on life in America than her mother.

Ares/Colonel Ari Buchanan -- Possessing the human body of Air Force Colonel Ari Buchanan, the war god Ares becomes commanding officer of Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts.  He wants nothing more than to grow the threat of war in order to become more powerful and finds Hanscom's Electronic Systems Center unit very useful for his plans of gaining control over the Air Force. 

Second Lieutenant Etta Candy -- Recently commissioned as an Air Force officer, Etta is assigned as Colonel Buchanan's administrative assistant.  She's involved in a relationship with Steve Trevor, but soon finds herself competing for his attention when Diana arrives.  Gradually, she begins to suspect Buchanan's actions as Hanscom's commanding officer and is forced to set aside her distrust of Diana in order to uncover Buchanan's true motives.

Friday, October 1, 2010

DAMN Good Comic of the Week -- ACTION COMICS #893

Over the past few months, writer Paul Cornell has come up with some entertaining ideas for his Lex Luthor storyline "The Black Ring," but he amps the surreality level all the way up to eleven in Part Four.  Luthor continues his quest to gain knowledge to create his own power ring, this time taking to Uganda where he soon confronts the classic Flash nemesis Gorilla Grodd.

Grodd, it seems, has developed some... interesting new appetites since we last saw him, such as a fondness for human brains.  He even has his own wine brain cellar where he can select a particular vintage of pickled brain and digest the knowledge stored within it as if he were Rocky Balboa getting protein from a glass of raw egg yolks.  This has apparently become such a treat for Grodd that he even has a set of gigantic Combat Spoons for dining on brains out in the Ugandan jungle.  It's madness one can only expect from a talented British writer like Cornell, but wonderful madness that makes the issue flow all the way to a rather Deathly cliffhanger.  Sean Chen, meanwhile, turns in some lovely work filling in for regular artist Pete Woods and if DC is smart, they'll place him on one of their higher profile series that could benefit from his considerable talent.

As if this wasn't enough to justify your purchase, a new Jimmy Olsen backup series debuts from writer Nick Spencer and artist RB Silva that looks to be very promising.  Spencer wisely embraces the weirdness of classic Jimmy Olsen stories from decades past, while updating them in the process.  He also gives Jimmy some long-overdue character development with the addition of Smallville's Chloe Sullivan (making her DC Universe debut) as his own Lois Lane and the creation of Sebastien Mallory as his Lex Luthor.  The first chapter ends with Jimmy confidently proclaiming that he's going to stop an alien invasion happening right outside and if there's any better way to impress your ex-girlfriend while owning the rival for her affections at the same time, I don't know what it is.