Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hitler Rants About DOCTOR WHO: "Let's Kill Hitler"

Yeah, you knew this was inevitable...

The latest episode of Doctor Who, "Let's Kill Hitler," received the Hitler rant treatment shortly after the episode aired on Saturday.  The internet meme of creating humorous English translation subtitles for a scene from the 2004 film Downfall and posting the clips on YouTube has been very popular, so it was no surprise to find a couple of rants from Adolf Hitler about being punched out by Rory Williams/Pond and being locked up in the cupboard.  Turns out the poor guy suffers from cupboardophobia.


Saturday, August 27, 2011


First off, let me preface this review by stating that Batman Incorporated #8 is one of those comics you're either going to absolutely love or absolutely loathe.  There's no middle ground here, it seems, because you either buy this issue's story premise and artistic style or you don't.  As it turns out though, I loved it.

Ever since writer Grant Morrison began his current run on Batman, Batman and Robin and Batman Incorporated, he's been producing some of the most innovative Batman tales in a good long while.  The various Batman books, especially with the shift to Batman Incorporated, will tell one kind of story one month and then a completely different kind of story the next.  This particular story, "Nightmares in Numberland," focuses on Bruce Wayne showcasing his new "Internet 3.0" virtual reality system to a group of prospective investors but the system is hacked by someone calling himself The Worm Captain and the investors' avatars are taken hostage.

Nothing too distinctive about a "Batman saves hostages" story, but the virtual setting creates the opportunity to utilize computer graphics artwork by Scott Clark and Dave Beatty instead of a traditionally drawn style.  Yeah, these types of comics have been around since First Comics introduced Shatter and its Apple Macintosh dot-matrix universe to the world in 1985, and of course there was Batman: Digital Justice in 1990, which gets a name-check as the title for this story's final chapter.  However, it feels pretty fresh when you consider that the previous issue of Batman Incorporated was about a Native American Batman called Man-of-Bats and set in a reservation.

Human faces depicted with CG still look stiff and unnatural here, but Clark crafts some bold and stylish visuals for this virtual landscape.  Batman and this issue's partner Oracle are given distinctive avatars that look like animatics for the film Tron: Legacy, while the Worm Captain resembles some strange offspring of Morrison's Solaris creation and an Atraxi from the television series Doctor Who.

Morrison, meanwhile, cuts loose with high-concept technobabble and econobabble, throwing out ideas like "zombie economies" and "mutation engines" as if they were everyday terms.  Batman defeats a virtual henchman by "powering up" touching the floor and the Worm Captain renders one of the investors incapable of communication by changing her avatar into a small dog and making only gibberish come out of her virtual voice as if you pounded your fists onto your keyboard.

Some big, bold ideas here and definitely not the same old, same old, so do yourselves a favor and give it a try.  Even if you don't like it, you should walk away thinking about everything that comics have the potential to offer us...and that's always a good thing.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

CAPTAIN AMERICA Sequel May Keep WWII Setting

Looks like the Sentinel of Liberty may get another chance to punch out some Nazis before he ends up in suspended animation and woken up in the present day.

In an article posted on MTV's Splash Page, screenwriters Chris Markus and Stephen McFeely discussed their ideas for the sequel to this summer's Captain America: The First Avenger, which has currently grossed almost $316 million worldwide.  Although the character of Steve Rogers was brought into the present day at the end of the first film so that he could be included in next summer's The Avengers, there's a very easy way to tell more Captain America adventures set during World War II.

According to McFeely, “The span of [Captain America: The First Avenger] is about two or three years, and there’s a few times in the film where you jump four months ahead, you jump six months ahead.  So we did that with the intention of saying, ‘Okay, there are certainly unseen adventures that Captain America went on in that period that if we want to, we can go back and explore later.’”

With actor Chris Evans reportedly already signed for two more Captain America films and two more Avengers films, it shouldn't be too hard to envision the next Captain America movie arriving in 2013, presumably followed by an Avengers sequel in 2014 or so.  And with the Avengers set in present day, keeping the setting for the Captain America films in World War II might be a way to distinguish them more from the Avengers movies.

If they do, however, decide to feature the next Captain America film in the present day, Markus has enthusiastic thoughts about using Peggy Carter's niece Sharon Carter and Cap's occasional partner The Falcon as modern-day supporting characters.  Markus remarked, "I want both of them!  Sharon is meaty, almost to a point where you get a little uncomfortable because her relation to Peggy has shifted over the years, as time has passed...You have to walk a fine line there because it does seem like you’re dating your girlfriend’s daughter."  As for The Falcon, Markus shrugged off a 1970s setting for the two heroes, but said, "It would be awesome to go straight up like Shaft with Cap and The Falcon." 

No announcement of a scheduled release date has been made concerning the sequel, although the project was confirmed by Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, back in May.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Saying Goodbye to the Post-CRISIS DC Universe

The DC Universe is dead.  Long live the DC Universe!

The last of DC Comics' titles before the big reboot/relaunch/reset/whatever next week in Flashpoint #5 arrived today, effectively ending the post-Crisis On Infinite Earths version of the DC Universe's status quo that begin in 1986.  Some characters were killed off in titles such as Justice Society of America (vol.3) #54 and Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost #3, while others will simply fade away into comic book limbo, as they and their fans wait and wait in the hopes of seeing them in new adventures once again somewhere down the line.

It seems like just yesterday that John Byrne's The Man of Steel and Legends mini-series arrived to usher in the new DC Universe, followed by the issue #1 relaunches of Superman, Wonder Woman, Justice League and The Flash.  Other memorable titles such as Suicide Squad, Captain Atom, The Question and Young All-Stars were added, while regular titles such as Batman, The Adventures of Superman and Action Comics received a desperately-needed fresh coat of paint.

We got to see Wally West, Dick Grayson, Donna Troy, Roy Harper and Garth mature beyond their original sidekick roles and become the adult heroes we always wanted to see.  We witnessed Clark Kent finally date and eventually marry the love of his life, Lois Lane.  We saw Bruce Wayne take on not one, not two, but five Robins along with a few Batgirls as well.  We watched as Kyle Rayner and Connor Hawke became Green Lantern and Green Arrow for a new generation of fans.  We read on every month as the Birds of Prey made superheroines just as entertaining and interesting as superheroes.  And we got to see Conner Kent, Bart Allen, Tim Drake, Cassie Sandsmark, Mia Dearden and Jackson Hyde step into an important legacy and become the shape of things to come.

Worlds lived.  Worlds died.  And nothing was ever the same, just as the Psycho-Pirate told us would happen on the very last page of Crisis on Infinite Earths #12.

But now, it's time to turn off the lights and move on.  As much as it kill us to do so, we say goodbye to titles such as Secret Six, Batman Incorporated, Justice Society of America, Power Girl, Booster Gold, Adventure Comics and Zatanna.  We say goodbye to Lois and Clark's defining superhero marriage, Superman's red trunks, Oracle's wheelchair, Stephanie Brown, the remnants of the Golden Age, uninterrupted runs for Action Comics and Batman, Zatanna's top hat and fishnet stockings, a costume for Harley Quinn that isn't horrific, and so much more.  We say goodbye to the DC Universe as we know it.

And now, we say hello to a new DC Universe.  Some things remain, others change, and all with the potential to become something new and exciting given enough creative effort and support from readers.  No, you probably won't like everything you see, but hopefully you'll like enough of it to keep reading month after month.  Remember, the 52 books that DC's launching the post-Flashpoint DC Universe with are just the beginning.  Other titles will be coming, so if you don't see anything in 52 titles that looks remotely interesting, you can always check back in a few months or so.  Just don't be afraid of change and don't be afraid to try something new.  What you think you're dreading now may end up surprising you down the road.  If nothing else, at least it's not the same old, same old, right?

So here we go again.  Worlds will live.  Worlds will die.  And nothing will ever be the same.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Three Generations of Flashes in YOUNG JUSTICE Season 2

DC Universe reboot or not, the Fastest Men Alive are teaming up once again.

Peter David, writer of stuff including the first Young Justice series for DC Comics, posted an update today about his upcoming second season episode of the Young Justice animated series for Cartoon Network.  Showing a photo from the recording session for the episode, David revealed that his episode will feature all three generations of the Flash -- Young Justice member Kid Flash (Wally West), his mentor The Flash (Barry Allen), and the original Flash (Jay Garrick).

With actors Jason Spizak and George Eads reprising their respective characters of Kid Flash and The Flash, the original Flash will be voiced by Geoff Pierson, whom David feels looks so much like Jay Garrick "he could cosplay him at Comic Con."  Pierson has appeared in a number of film and TV projects over the years, most recently as Senator Walter Edge on HBO's Boardwalk Empire and Captain Tom Matthews on Showtime's series Dexter.

No scheduled airdate has been given for the episode, although it's believed the series will return for Season 2 in the first quarter of 2012.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Five DOCTOR WHO Monsters That Should Return

So there I was, kicking back in my recliner and enjoying BBC America's Doctor Who: Best of the Monsters recap special, when my mind started thinking about all the great (and the not-so-great) monsters Doctor Who has given us these past five decades.  Sure, many of the monsters from the original series looked a bit crap given the time period and ridiculously low costuming budget, but since the show's return in 2005, we've seen some nice upgrades for the Autons and the Silurians, so there's no reason to think others couldn't receive a fresh coat of latex.

And instead of having yet another Dalek story or another disappointing outing for the Cybermen, why not give some of the monsters we haven't seen for a while another go?  The Silurians hadn't been seen since "Warriors of the Deep" in 1984, so their return in 2010 gave writer Chris Chibnall a chance to revamp them for an entirely new generation in "The Hungry Earth."

With all this in mind, here are five monsters I feel need to be brought back to Doctor Who...

1.  The Zygons -- Apart from being one of the most visually interesting of the classic monsters, the Zygons have inexplicably only appeared in one Fourth Doctor story, "Terror of the Zygons."  These creatures had the impressive ability to transform their bodies to duplicate the physical characteristics of captured specimens placed into a special receptacle, making them a very dangerous sleeper invasion threat.  Sadly, their story potential as character doubles seems to have been taken over recently by the Gangers, but I still think it would be fun to see them again somewhere down the line.

2.  The Ice Warriors -- Probably the biggest classic monsters left that haven't received a modern upgrade, the Ice Warriors were featured in several Second and Third Doctor stories and almost returned in Season 27 during the Seventh Doctor's era, but obviously that failed to happen when the series was taken off the air in 1989.  These reptilian-looking creatures from Mars got a brief nod in the Tenth Doctor story "The Waters of Mars," so there's no reason they couldn't appear again, perhaps in a story featuring fellow Martian creatures The Flood.

3.  The Vashta Nerada -- Yeah, these pirahna-like shadows just appeared not too long ago in "Forest of the Dead" in 2008, but you have to admit they were pretty damn cool and certainly deserving of another appearance along with other Steven Moffat creations like the Weeping Angels and the Silence.  They did appear in the Doctor Who Adventure game Shadows of the Vashta Nerada, so it shouldn't be that hard working them into another television story, right?

4.  The Krynoids -- This is more of a personal desire, considering the Krynoids were my very first Doctor Who monster in their one and only appearance in the Fourth Doctor story "The Seeds of Doom."  As a teenager, I loved the idea of idiot humans finding these seed pods in the Antarctic and gradually mutating into vicious tentacled plant creatures.  The Krynoids recently got some audio adventure love in the Big Finish Eighth Doctor story "Hothouse," but audio obviously pales in comparison to a return appearance on television.

5.  The Sycorax -- Sycorax strong, Sycorax mighty, Sycorax rock, so could someone please explain why we haven't seen these guys since "The Christmas Invasion" in December of 2005?  Oh, they've turned up in split-second cameos and background appearances, but another full-fledged story?  C'mon now.  If nothing else, it would be great to see these warriors with honor and pride go up against another group like the Sontarans.  And let's face it, who doesn't love a good bit of blood control?

Friday, August 19, 2011

BABYLON 5: And So, It ISN'T Returning After All... (UPDATED)

The classic science-fiction television series Babylon 5 that ran from 1993 to 1998 appears to be returning...in some form or another.

A recent article posted on TrekMovie.com featured comments about the series' return from former Babylon 5 actor Walter Koenig.  Speaking at the Star Trek Convention Las Vegas last week, Koenig (who played Psi Cop Alfred Bester on B5) remarked that he had dinner with Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski the week before and that there was genuine hope for the series' return.  Koenig remarked:

"He told me that he is in negotiations to reacquire the rights to Babylon 5 and it looks pretty good. Now what that portends I am not entirely sure. It could be a new series or it could be a feature film, but he was quite animated about it. He seemed very excited and Warner Brothers is dealing with him in good faith. So you might see another Babylon 5 in the not too distant future."

Babylon 5 last surfaced in 2007 with a low-budget direct-to-DVD called Babylon 5: The Lost Tales, which was originally planned as an anthology series featuring a rotating cast of Babylon 5 characters.  Future DVDs were initially put on hold due to the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike, but Straczynski's reluctance to continue with sub-par productions resulted in the project being abandoned, although Straczynski did comment in 2008 that he would return only if Warner Brothers wanted to do a big-budget movie release.

So is a feature film in the works?  Or a rebooted, reimagined television series similar to the Sci-Fi channel's Battlestar Galactica?  The idea of new Babylon 5 series with modern CGI special effects and alien makeup techniques is definitely filled with possibilities, and with the actors who played G'Kar, Dr. Stephen Franklin and Zack Allan sadly no longer with us, the idea of a movie reuniting the original cast seems less likely.  Personally, I'd love to see a big budget adaptation of Peter David's Babylon 5: Legions of Fire paperback trilogy, which chronicled the events of Londo Mollari's term as Emperor of Centauri Prime and resolved the frustrating dangling plot thread from the TV episode "Objects at Rest" of John Sheridan and Delenn's son David receiving a Drakh Keeper on his 16th birthday.

** UPDATE AS OF 8/23/11 **

Thanks to the Anonymous comment below, I did some checking and it now seems that Straczynski has shot down the notion of Babylon 5's return.  According to Digital Spy, Straczynski told Spinoff Online, "Walter misspoke. I am not in negotiations with [Warner Bros.] to develop more Babylon 5."


It's seems a bit odd, though, that Koenig claimed Straczynski was "quite animated" about these supposed negotiations while Straczynski says he's not engaged in any negotiations.  Two very different takes on the situation there.  So were there negotiations with Warner Brothers that fell through or did Walter Koenig completely misunderstand the dinner conversation he had with J. Michael Straczynski?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Metallo in Zack Snyder's MAN OF STEEL?

One of the early complaints about director Zack Snyder's upcoming Superman film reboot/relaunch/whatever project, Man of Steel, was the announcement of General Zod (played by Michael Shannon) as the film's central villain instead of bringing in Brainiac, Mongul or some other Superman villain that's never appeared on screen before.  Well, if this buried item posted yesterday on Latino Review is legit, the Phantom Zone criminal may have another ally besides Faora in his fight against Superman.

In their article detailing the film's official plot synopsis, Latino Review mentions that this synopsis was the very same one that first appeared back in April from a movie news site cleverly titled Movie Newz.  Although initially dismissed as an unsubstantiated rumor to boost site traffic, the confirmation of the plot synopsis featured in Movie Newz's article makes their other Man of Steel news in that same article a bit more credible.  Here's what they wrote in addition to the plot synopsis:

General Sam Lane, the father of Lois Lane, is a central figure in director Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot. This really is as Zack described in several interviews about the film, a “real world” Superman. I’m told that when Superman arrives on the scene; people don’t know what to think. He’s an alien from another planet. What are his real intentions? He’s not human and that scares a lot of people. Here’s a guy who can fly, see through walls, is bullet proof and can lift a tank. The military views him as a potential threat to national security. They find Kryptonite, pieces of his home planet, and discover its radioactive elements can be harnessed as a near unlimited source of power, both literally and figuratively. It’s a brand new form of energy that is secretly developed by the government. The military, under the direction of General Sam Lane, uses kryptonite to power an experimental cyborg super soldier named Metallo. He’s ultimately exploited as a weapon against Superman.

Obviously, it's possible that plans for using Metallo could've been scrapped in favor of General Zod, but it's also possible that Metallo could appear somewhere in the film's second act as something of a preliminary bout before the main event with General Zod and Faora.  There's no listing yet for either General Sam Lane or Metallo/John Corben on IMDb's page for the film, but there is a "General Swanwick" to be played by actor Harry Lennix and a "Colonel Hardy" played by Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star Christopher Meloni.  That certainly means some form of military presence will be featured in the film, even if Lois Lane's father Sam doesn't turn out to be part of it.

It should also be noted that Metallo appeared in the recent 6-part DC Comics mini-series Superman: Secret Origin, written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Gary Frank.  The 12-part maxi-series Superman: Birthright by Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu has been rumored as the framework for the film's script, but elements from other Superman origin tales such as Secret Origin could be incorporated as well.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The DOCTOR WHO: "Let's Kill Hitler" Prelude Debuts

Oh, can Saturday, August 27th just get here already?

The BBC has officially released the 2-minute prelude to the upcoming Doctor Who episode "Let's Kill Hitler," written by current series showrunner Steven Moffat.  In what is by far the most powerful and heartbreaking prequel mini-episode yet, Amy Pond leaves a phone message on the Doctor's answering device aboard the TARDIS.

After we learn that the TARDIS actually has an answering device that the Doctor only discovered while looking for the brakes, Amy Pond's message for the Doctor has her asking if he's managed to find her daughter Melody, taken away by Madame Kovarian at the end of the previous episode, "A Good Man Goes to War."  Although realizing that Melody will ultimately be all right because she becomes River Song, Amy tells the Doctor that she doesn't want to miss out on all those years of her childhood and asks him to phone her back as soon as he learns something.

Sadly, it seems the Doctor hears Amy's message all too well...

Moffat, you cruel, cruel bugger.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Anonymous Plots to Go All V FOR VENDETTA on Facebook

Well, some of those darling little hacktivists at Anonymous are already gearing up to celebrate their favorite holiday, the fifth of November, the date made famous as Guy Fawkes Night and referenced so heavily in the dystopian comic book series V For Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd.

In a YouTube video and statement claiming that hackers will attack and destroy the social medium Facebook on November 5th, Anonymous cites Facebook's lack of privacy and selling of its members' personal information as central reasons for the coordinated Big Hack Attack.  And by publicly (and theatrically) announcing the attack in advance instead of simply doing it covertly, Anonymous gets a nice bit of internet discourse, media punditry and perhaps a tiny bit of fear and anarchy that the fictional character V would probably find highly amusing.

Interestingly, though, there appears to be possible dissension within the ranks concerning this particular operation, if this Twitter post by @anonops is any indication:  "#OpFacebook is being organised by some Anons. This does not necessarily mean that all of agrees with it."

Anonymous has been utilizing imagery and concepts from V For Vendetta as symbolism for its anti-authority activties for some time now.  Ever since the 2006 film adaptation of the comic book series by the Wachowski Brothers, V For Vendetta has gradually entered the mainstream consciousness and this latest announcement of a "Remember, remember, the fifth of November" style cyber assault on Facebook should only add to that.

Here's Anonymous' video and expanded statement taken from Mashable...

Attention citizens of the world,

We wish to get your attention, hoping you heed the warnings as follows: Your medium of communication you all so dearly adore will be destroyed. If you are a willing hacktivist or a guy who just wants to protect the freedom of information then join the cause and kill facebook for the sake of your own privacy.

Facebook has been selling information to government agencies and giving clandestine access to information security firms so that they can spy on people from all around the world. Some of these so-called whitehat infosec firms are working for authoritarian governments, such as those of Egypt and Syria.

Everything you do on Facebook stays on Facebook regardless of your "privacy" settings, and deleting your account is impossible, even if you "delete" your account, all your personal info stays on Facebook and can be recovered at any time. Changing the privacy settings to make your Facebook account more "private" is also a delusion. Facebook knows more about you than your family.



You cannot hide from the reality in which you, the people of the internet, live in. Facebook is the opposite of the Antisec cause. You are not safe from them nor from any government. One day you will look back on this and realise what we have done here is right, you will thank the rulers of the internet, we are not harming you but saving you.

The riots are underway. It is not a battle over the future of privacy and publicity. It is a battle for choice and informed consent. It's unfolding because people are being raped, tickled, molested, and confused into doing things where they don't understand the consequences. Facebook keeps saying that it gives users choices, but that is completely false. It gives users the illusion of and hides the details away from them "for their own good" while they then make millions off of you. When a service is "free," it really means they're making money off of you and your information.

Think for a while and prepare for a day that will go down in history. November 5 2011, #opfacebook . Engaged.

This is our world now. We exist without nationality, without religious bias. We have the right to not be surveilled, not be stalked, and not be used for profit. We have the right to not live as slaves.

We are anonymous

We are legion

We do not forgive

We do not forget

Expect us

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Marvel Expands Digital Comics to ComiXology

Well, that sure worked out nicely.

No sooner do I post a follow-up piece about my recent experiences with digital comics, in which I mentioned that Marvel's digital comics bought on their iPad app don't sync with ComiXology's app and digital library, then ComiXology announces today that Hey, Kids...They can now sync with one another!  According to Mr. Press Release from ComiXology, "comiXology announced today that they will now be selling over 3,500 of Marvel digital comics through their Web Viewer at comics.comixology.com as they continue to expand their digital presence. Comic fans can now enjoy one of the largest Marvel digital comics’ libraries online whenever they want."

And sure enough, when I check out the ComiXology digital comics store on their website, it now features Marvel Comics offerings, including their own publisher section where you can easily browse for offerings by title.  Even better, both the purchased and free comics I obtained on Marvel's iPad app already show up as part of my ComiXology digital library.  Just like DC Comics, just like Dynamite Entertainment and just like Image Comics.

In the immortal words of John McClane from the cinema classic Die Hard...Welcome to the party, pal!

However, the ability to read Marvel's digital comics using an Android app, such as ComiXology's app for Android smartphones, still seems to be missing.  This definitely needs to be corrected/resolved, but at least there's a step in the right direction.

And sadly, Dark Horse Comics and IDW Publishing still haven't gotten with the program as of this writing, but I did get some feedback from Topher at Dark Horse Digital concerning my previous piece, clarifying that they do offer weekly discounts on selected titles for only $0.99 on their company app, along with other updates and free promotions.  While I have no idea if my previous piece had any affect on Marvel's move, it was good to see Dark Horse stepping up and taking an active interest in what others think of their digital efforts. 

I remain hopeful, though, that Dark Horse and IDW will wake up and smell the (DAMN good) coffee and team with ComiXology the way Marvel has for the benefit of their consumers.  The more user-friendly and accessible digital comics are, the more likely that comic book readers will be inclined to use them.  You can still have all your company's neato-cool bells and whistles on your own neato-cool app, but let consumers have the ability to have all of their digital comics in a central location, or the ability to read all those comics on their smartphone if they choose.

To be continued...Hopefully.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Avengers Assemble This Week in Cleveland

The Plain Dealer newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio is getting the word out about filming for the upcoming Marvel Comics movie The Avengers taking place in the city this month.  In an article posted by Michael Sangiacomo, readers are asked to "become honorary Avengers for the duration of the filming" by reporting all sightings of the filming to The Plain Dealer and their online affiliate Cleveland.com.

"Did you see Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) falling off the wagon and sipping a beer at the Great Lakes Brewing Co.?  Was that Thor (Chris Hemsworth) eyeing European artifacts at City Buddha in Cleveland Heights?  Was Captain America (Chris Evans) visiting old friends at the veterans hospital on Cleveland’s East Side?  And that woman getting her nails done at a swanky spa in Beachwood. Was that the Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson)?  You get the idea."

According to Sangiacomo, Avengers director and geek god Joss Whedon was on site yesterday for roughly four hours getting an idea for how the block of East Ninth Street and Euclid Avenue would work for his movie.  Filming is to take place at the former Ameritrust rotuna building.

Sangiacomo also provided the filming’s tentative timetable, with locations and road closings:

Monday to Friday, Sept. 2: Filming on East Ninth Street from Euclid to Prospect avenues.

Monday, Aug. 15, to Wednesday, Aug. 24: Filming on Euclid Avenue from East Sixth Street to East 12th Street.

Monday, Aug. 22, through Friday, Sept. 2: Filming on Walnut Avenue from East Ninth Street to East 12th Street.

Wednesday, Aug. 17, to Tuesday, Aug. 30: Filming on South Roadway at Superior Avenue and Ontario Street.

Monday, Aug. 29: Filming on the Detroit-Superior (Veterans Memorial) Bridge.

At intermittent times in August, Public Square in front of Tower City will be closed for filming.

Photos and video links will presumably be posted on Cleveland.com and "honorary Avengers" are also encouraged to post items on Twitter using the hashtag #AvengersCLE.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

THE COLBERT REPORT Spins Take On Half-Black Spider-Man

It's certainly been an interesting week for fans of Marvel Comics' character Spider-Man.  Ever since USA Today revealed that Marvel's recently-deceased Ultimate version of Peter Parker was being replaced as Spider-Man by a half-African-American, half-Latino teenager named Miles Morales, the internet has been bombarded with racist comments (such as here and here) decrying the move.

Well, as some of you might expect, comedian Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, chimed in on the matter during last night's show.  Colbert has been quite the Marvel supporter in recent years, featuring various comics creators on his show and even displaying a replica of Captain America's shield on a wall of his studio set.  He also appeared on a variant cover to Amazing Spider-Man #573, which Colbert reminded his audience of in order to prove his authority in all things Spidey.

However, Colbert didn't clarify that the Ultimate Peter Parker, not the regular version, died in Ultimate Spider-Man #160, remarking, "In the latest issue of Marvel Comics' Ultimate Fallout (#4), Peter Parker is killed...presumably while appearing in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark."

After media footage discussing the replacement character of Miles Morales was shown, Colbert played up his faux-neoconservative TV persona, adding, "Half black?  Half Hispanic?  What sort of origin story does he have?  Is he a black guy bitten by a radioactive Hispanic...or a Hispanic bitten by a radioactive black guy?  It doesn't make any sense.  Plus, half Hispanic, really?  He's coming here to steal our superhero jobs?  It's bad enough we have an illegal immigrant flying around claiming to represent The American Way.  Go back to Krypton, Kal-El!"

He then continued, "And this sets a terrible precedent for superhero diversity.  What's next, a Chinese Hulk?  Don't make me Asian...You wouldn't like me when I'm Asian."  "Next thing you know, they'll give us a gay Batman," he added, putting up a picture of George Clooney and Chris O'Donnell from the poorly-received film Batman and Robin.  "Okay, a gayer Batman."

If you're interested in checking out the full clip from last night's show, you can view it below...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Revisiting Digital Comics for the iPad: Getting Better, BUT...

Okay, since the last time I brought this subject up, I've had a few months to become more familiar with downloading digital comics to my iPad 2 and doing my part to embrace The Future of Comics.

I've been using various apps from comic companies such as DC Comics, Marvel Comics, IDW Publishing, Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and Dynamite Entertainment, as well as the ComiXology store app, and I think I have a much better grasp of the digital comics cyberscape than I did in my previous post.  Now whether I can provide you with any information that's actually useful and helpful instead of my standard rambling nonsense...well, fingers crossed.

The good news is, if you're still debating with yourself (always the best debates, as far as I'm concerned) about trying out this newfangled technological mumbo-jumbo, the digital comics marketplace is just about ready for you.  Several digital comics are starting to be posted online the same day-and-date as their tangible print versions, which of course, puts them in more direct competition with your friendly neighborhood comic shops.

Even better, the selection of back issue material is gradually improving as companies keep adding more of their older material.  DC Comics has really stepped their game up in recent months with their special "101" weekend sales, which sell 101 digital comics relating to a featured character or team for just $0.99 each.  The selections seem to be a nice mix of newer stuff already available as digital comics and classic stuff from the '70s, '80s and '90s.  Some of the older items that haven't been restored and published recently in print are just scanned, so the image quality isn't quite on a par with more recent material.  It's good, though, to have these older stories at your fingertips instead of hoping they'll someday make it into a print collection that may sadly never come.

Also, DC, Marvel and Image are making a solid effort to provide a selection of free comics every week, mainly introductory issues to get you properly hooked and wanting to buy more issues from that series.  On the flip side though, IDW, Dynamite, and Dark Horse provide a nice selection of free comics to try after your download their respective apps, but rarely update their selections with different books or offer special sale promotions.  Unless you're looking for the newest releases posted at the full $1.99 or higher price, you probably won't use their apps very often.

Another issue I've noticed is the ability to view comics you download onto your iPad on your regular computer or smartphone and vice versa.  ComiXology makes it very convenient to access your digital comics library from various technologies, giving the sense of an actual "comics collection,"  but not every publisher plays along.  For some inexplicable reason, Marvel uses the ComiXology template but any comics of theirs you buy or get free on the iPad do not show up with your ComiXology library on a PC or smartphone.  The same thing goes for Dark Horse and IDW, although they seem to have their own templates.  To make matter worse, Marvel comics downloaded using their iPad app don't even show up on their horribly-designed official website, which means Marvel comics bought on the iPad apparently stay only on the iPad.  So if you're using ComiXology as your primary digital comics library, I recommend sticking to purchasing titles from just DC, Image or Dynamite until the others get with the program.

I'm still fumbling my way through this new digital frontier and comics publishers are still doing their own bit of fumbling, but the important thing is that digital comics are getting there.  Unless the price of print comics suddenly drops dramatically and people stop spending their disposable income on flashier things like iPhones, Blu-Ray players and videogames, the digital format is comics' best hope for long-term survival.  Yes, it's change and people who love comics traditionally don't do well with change, but ready or not, The Future is almost here.

Let's make it something good.