Thursday, December 29, 2011


I can't believe we only have one more of these.

Over the past five issues of Marvel's Secret Avengers, writer Warren Ellis has produced some of the best single-issue stories in recent memory and this latest, "Encircle," certainly exemplies this.  Black Widow, described at the start as "the world's greatest secret agent," gets the spotlight here in a masterful time-travel tale that rates as one of the best ever for the character.

In a timey-wimey structure feeling quite a bit like a Steven Moffat Doctor Who script, Ellis starts the issue off with the deaths of team members Steve Rogers, War Machine and Sharon Carter, and then sends Black Widow back in time five years to figure out a way to prevent it.  Of course, Natasha Romanoff's background is in espionage, not temporal physics, but with the help of her "Escape Hatch" wrist device, some hints from teammate The Beast, and forty years of scientific research by a man named "Count" Oscar Khronus, she figures out a game plan.

This issue has several wonderful touches -- Black Widow's hatred of time travel, her hatred of the "Escape Hatch" device, Khronus' dimwitted henchman Kongo, weaponeer Harry Grindell "Death-Ray" Evans, the very Ellis line "My time gun will send your heart to be eaten by dinosaurs," a brief chat with Doctor Druid thirty-six hours before his death, among others.  Over the course of "eighteen weeks, two days, nine hours and three minutes," or over four months of Black Widow's actual time, she implements a mission that spans decades in order to achieve her objective.  Each temporal encounter has a specific purpose, it seems, and you, you lucky reader, get to see everything fall neatly into place over just twenty pages.

The artist paired with Ellis for this issue is Alex Maleev, who somehow escaped from his usual creative partner Brian Michael Bendis long enough to turn in some terrific work for Secret Avengers.  Maleev proved long ago he could depict a formidable Black Widow during his time with Bendis on Daredevil, but here he makes us wish Marvel would put him on a monthly Black Widow series, preferably one written by Ellis.  A sequence set forty-four years in the past is made particularly memorable, drawn as a serial comic strip similar to Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon.

But yes, there's only one more issue of Warren Ellis' Secret Avengers to go and no, I'm not happy about it.  Six issues is far too short for something this wonderful and I'm sorry, but not even the promise of "the end of the world" next issue is going to make up for it...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Is Batman His Own Worst Enemy?

Received something interesting in my e-mail this morning, an infographic concerning four of Batman's biggest villains and why Batman is responsible (or partially responsible) for their creation.

At first glance, the timing seems to coincide with DC Comics' current "Batman 201" $0.99 digital comics sale on ComiXology, but with all the Warner Bros. marketing for the upcoming Christopher Nolan Batman film The Dark Knight Rises steadily working their way through the Internets recently, you have to wonder if something else is at play here.  Of the four villains listed in the infographic, Bane is obviously front and center in Dark Knight Rises, but rumors of Two-Face's possible involvement persist.  The Joker's appearance in The Dark Knight could certainly be referenced, while Hush could potentially be featured in the film albeit in some minor fashion.

Here's the infographic in question.  See what you can make of this...


Saturday, December 24, 2011

New Cast, Locale for AMERICAN HORROR STORY Season 2

One of the great surprises of the 2011 fall TV season was FX's American Horror Story, a serial horror drama that paid tribute to many movie horror classics while telling its own seriously messed-up 12-episode storyline in the process.  Week after week, the show revealed dark events surrounding the Harmon family, their neighbor Constance Langdon, and the numerous ghosts populating their haunted Los Angeles home.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the second season of the series will feature an entirely new location and a mostly new cast.  "Some of them will be coming back," said creator Ryan Murphy.  "I’m talking to several of them and we’re in negotiations.  There will be familiar faces, but there will also be new faces on the show."  Murphy plans to announce the show's new storyline and cast sometime in February.

Interestingly, Murphy mentioned the actors that return will be "playing completely different characters, creatures, and monsters.  It’s a really fun idea to do an anthology show.  That’s the way it was designed from the beginning.  Every season, there will be a new haunting and we’ll have a new overriding theme."

This might mean we've seen the last of Jessica Lange's Emmy-worthy performance as Constance, even though the character was only one of two regulars to actually survive to the end of season one.

It's definitely the end of "The Murder House," though.  According to Murphy, the set has already been struck to move "onward and upward."  Maybe the series could shift to Westfield High School, where Tate Langdon massacred fifteen people with a shotgun?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

PROMETHEUS Teaser Trailer Debuts

Y'know, for a movie that's supposedly not a prequel to the 1979 science-fiction/horror classic Alien, Ridley Scott's Prometheus sure seems a hell of a lot like a prequel to the 1979 science-fiction/horror classic Alien.

In the just-released teaser trailer shown below, we see the film's title gradually emerging in a way similar to the Alien trailer, a chamber full of pods similar to Facehugger eggs, an astronaut being attacked in a manner very similar to a Facehugger attack that got John Hurt's character G.W. Kane in Alien, and the giant alien "space jockey" found sitting in a chair in Alien.  If Prometheus isn't a direct prequel to Alien, it certainly seems to share the same fictional universe.

Prometheus is scheduled to arrive in theaters on June 8, 2012 and stars Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba and Noomi Rapace.  Let's see how many of their characters, if any, actually make it to the end.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Did George Lucas Swipe Tusken Raiders from DOCTOR WHO?

So there I was, kicking back at home watching a classic Doctor Who tale, "Colony In Space," from the Jon Pertwee era that originally aired in the U.K. in 1971.  And about twenty minutes into episode five of the six-part story, I noticed something a bit...familiar.  When the Third Doctor and the First Master are driving across the quarry surface of the planet Uxarieus in a funky little dune buggy, they're set upon by a group of primitives perched on rocky cliffs high above that raise their weapons above their hands in a way that reminds me of...something.  A presence I've not felt since...

Oh, yeah...That's it, the Tusken Raiders (a.k.a. Sand People) from the Star Wars films.  Now, I know others have noticed that Star Wars creator George Lucas has "borrowed" certain elements from Doctor Who before, but this two-armed weapon-raising celebration seems a bit intriguing considering "Colony In Space" debuted in 1971 and Star Wars premiered in 1977.  Of course, it's entirely possible the basic image became embedded somewhere in Lucas' subconscious and he simply pictured his primitive Tusken Raiders making similar gestures as the Uxarieus primitives. 

It's just purely coincidental, that's all.  You know, like Darth Vader and Doctor Doom.

May the Artron Energy be with you...always.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

DAMN Good Comics -- BATWOMAN #4

If there were any remaining doubts that the current Batwoman creative team would be able to maintain the level of quality shown in issue one, I think we can officially put them to rest now.

In "Estuary," Part Four of the opening story arc "Hydrology," writer W. Haden Blackman and artist J.H. Williams III produce another stunning twenty pages that make you wish every comic was this good.  This issue grabs you right from the start, interspersing some tastefully graphic panels of Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer making love to one another with the bold, colorful contrast of Kate's cousin Bette brashly taking on the Weeping Woman's Frankenstein-like minion Pajarito. 

Without going into too many specifics, Batwoman's fears about Bette's readiness to fight crime as Flamebird come to pass, putting the character's future in extreme jeopardy.  As a Flamebird fan, it's a little hard to reconcile this inexperienced "New 52" Bette with her Post-Crisis depiction as a former fangirl of the Dick Grayson Robin that eventually got her act together and became a serious superheroine capable of holding her own in dangerous fights.  However, Flamebird's fight with Pajarito does serve another purpose of bringing Department of Extranormal Operations Agent Cameron Chase considerably closer to her goal of capturing Batwoman.

As always though, the big draw for Batwoman readers is J.H. Williams' incredible art.  In addition to the opening sequence mentioned above, Williams treats us to another stylish depiction of the story arc titles, framing them in a blood-themed font around a phoenix-shaped image of snow-covered ground surrounding Bette.  Another memorable double-page spread uses the folds of Batwoman's cape as panel dividers, while the last page uses smoke from DEO Director Bones' cigar to create a middle panel image of Bones and Chase's target, Kate Kane.  No nice and tidy nine-panel Watchmen grids here, that's for sure.

The Weeping Woman remains a vague, ghostly menace but we get more of her background this issue as Batwoman engages in actual detective work rarely seen in recent Batman titles.  However, we now have her connection to the apparent flesh-and-blood Pajarito to explore, and with the number of questions surrounding Bette and the DEO, this book shouldn't be short of material to cover.  Let's see how "Hydrology" wraps up next month...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

THE COLBERT REPORT Compares Newt Gingrich to Bond Villain

In his latest "Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger" segment featured on last night's episode of The Colbert Report, host Stephen Colbert tipped said hat to current Republican Presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich for "repeatedly alerting the nation to an underreported threat, the electromagnetic pulse."

"Now, Newt is not the only one who is concerned with the coming EMPmageddon," Colbert explained.  "So is Her Majesty's Secret Service."  Colbert then played a clip from the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye, starring Pierce Brosnan, which showed Bond and his superior M discussing the GoldenEye weapon's ability to create an electromagnetic pulse.

"Yes.  Bond, James Bond...agrees with Gingrich, Newt Gingrich," continued Colbert.  "And just like Bond, Gingrich is calm under pressure, a little cocky, and is frequently seen with different leading ladies.  Plus, his half-million dollar line of credit at Tiffany's proves he knows Diamonds Are Forever."

The Bond comparisons didn't stop there.  "And as David Brooks (of The New York Times) pointed out, Newt has called for '...a permanent lunar colony to exploit the Moon's resources.'  Hmmm...Sounds to me like Newt...is a Moonraker.

"And Newt has also pointed out that '...a mirror system in space could provide the light equivalent of many full moons so that there would be no need for nighttime lighting of the highways.'  Hmmm...Hmmm...Giant solar mirrors also seem familiar..."  At that moment, a scene from another Bond film was shown, with Gustav Graves unveiling his new orbital mirror satellite Icarus that later turns out to be a deadly weapon.  "It's the plot of Die Another Day!"

It then occured to Colbert that all of these schemes were from the villains.  "That means Gingrich isn't Bond...He's Blofeld!" 

Supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld could not be reached for comment from within his secret lair inside an active volcano.  If you'd like to see the full Colbert Report segment, you can view it here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

GENERATOR REX: Fezzes Are Cool Again in March

It is happening again...It is happening again...

Those of you who perused the DC Comics March 2012 solicitations today may have noticed this little item...

Art and cover by MIKE CAVALLARO
On sale MARCH 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E
Bobo’s favorite fez is destroyed during a battle with a rampaging EVO and he insists on taking Rex to get a replacement. One problem, though...The only hat shop he trusts is all the way in Morocco and it’s under siege by a vicious local gang of EVOs. Are fezzes cool enough to be worth all this trouble?

Oh yeah, you read that right...Fezzes.  And anyone who gives me more than five seconds of their attention should know exactly what that means.

This is my third Generator Rex story for Cartoon Network Action Pack, saving what I personally feel is my best for last in this buddy adventure featuring Rex Salazar and Bobo Haha in Morocco.  I've only seen pencils by artist Mike Cavallaro so far, but I couldn't be more pleased with how this story is turning out.  And just to show how special this story is to me, I think I'm going to run a little contest the week of March 14th with some sort of Damn Good Prize to the winner.  However, if you want to participate in the contest, you're going to need a copy of Cartoon Network Action Pack #67 so be sure to put one copy or twelve on your next Previews order form, steal a copy from your little brother when he's not looking, stage some elaborate first Mission: Impossible movie style infiltration of Diamond's delivery warehouses, whatever works best for you.

Oh, and I hope you have fun reading my story.  I certainly had fun writing it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Two DOCTOR WHO Episodes Lost in Time Found!

Fans of old-school Doctor Who just received an early Christmas present.

According to the official Doctor Who website, two missing episodes previously thought to be lost forever in time have been returned to the BBC Archive.  Episode 3 of the William Hartnell adventure "Galaxy 4" and Episode 2 of Patrick Troughton's "The Underwater Menace" were purchased by film collector Terry Burnett at a village fete near Southampton in the early 1980s.  He wasn't aware that the canisters contained material missing from the BBC.

These are the first complete episodes to have been located since 2004.  None of the four episodes of the 1965 adventure "Galaxy 4" were rescued from the BBC's Archive purge in the 1960s and 1970s for economic and space-saving reasons, although a short extract had been retained. Previously, only Episode 3 of the four-part "The Underwater Menace" from 1967 had been recovered, making Episode 2 now the earliest surviving complete episode featuring Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor.

Doctor Who writer and actor Mark Gatiss hosted a screening of the footage today at the British Film Institute's "Missing Believed Wiped" event at the National Film Theatre in London.  "Christmas has come early for Doctor Who fans everywhere," said Gatiss.  "It's always wonderful when a missing episode turns up but it's been years since the last one so to have two is just brilliant.  Add to that a proper bit of action from the legendary Chumblies (and the horrifying Rills!) plus the utterly mesmeric Patrick Troughton on great form.  Well, what more could we all ask for?"

The website also mentions that details of a commercial release will be announced by home video production company 2 entertain in 2012.  Perhaps a separate DVD release for "The Underwater Menace" with some animation used to show the events of the still-missing Episodes 1 and 4?

Friday, December 9, 2011

COMMUNITY's Inspector Spacetime Gets Christmas Special

The question isn't whether Inspector Spacetime should get his own spinoff series...but when.

The NBC sitcom Community's show-within-a-show Doctor Who parody made a third appearance last night in the Christmas episode "Regional Holiday Music."  Early on, Inspector Spacetime fan Abed Nadir suggests to his group of friends that they could watch the lost 1981 Inspector Spacetime Holiday Special, which has a running time of two and a half hours and was "so critically reviled after it aired the creator had his knighthood revoked."

Apart from giving a shout-out to the various Doctor Who Christmas specials that have aired regular since the show's return in 2005, this also makes fun of the infamously horrible 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special  that was so bad Star Wars creator George Lucas has refused to allow it to be officially released on home video.

Towards the end of the episode, Abed is sitting at home in his pajamas watching the Inspector Spacetime Holiday Special.  "Happy Time Day, Reggie," says the Inspector as he hands Constable Reginald Wigglesworth a Time Day gift.  "It is tradition to give one's Constable a gift at the end of each orbital cycle."

"Blimey! A hologram!" exclaims Constable Reggie.  "Let's activate it and view the performance."  Sure enough, a Star Wars-like hologram of a rock band appears and starts playing bad music.

Abed stares at the screen, finally declaring "This is terrible."  Later, after Abed's friends arrive at his door singing a Christmas carol, they all sit down to watch the Inspector Spacetime Holiday Special.  We hear the Inspector's arch-enemies the Blogons chanting "Eradicate! Eradicate!" followed by Santa Claus who wishes everyone a "Merry Time Day."

And a Merry Time Day to all of you at home.  If you'd like to see the scenes mentioned, you can view them below thanks to the kindness of YouTube user TVGirl17...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

DAMN Good Comics -- ANIMAL MAN #4

Once upon a time in 1988, a then little-known writer named Grant Morrison took an obscure, D-list, DC Comics character named Animal Man and turned him into something wonderful over the span of 26 classic issues.  Other writers such as Peter Milligan, Tom Veitch and Jamie Delano followed, but none of them seemed to give the character that creative spark than Morrison did.

Until now, of course.

Four issues into the second volume of Animal Man, writer Jeff Lemire has taken elements from Morrison and Delano's runs and fused them with his own style to create one of the best titles of DC's "The New 52."  Back in May, before the relaunched DC Universe was even announced, I wrote about how great it would be if DC formed a new "Vertigo 2.0" imprint that brought back the edgy superhero titles that DC's Vertigo line made so well back in the '90s.  Well, they didn't create a separate imprint, but they did form a group of Vertigoesque titles called "The Dark" that are essentially the same thing apart from nudity and the occasional F-bomb.

Lemire's Animal Man is definitely dark compared to most DC superhero titles and reads as though you can easily see it being adapted as a weekly television series on AMC or FX.  In this issue, Buddy Baker, the animal-powered superhero known rather appropriately as Animal Man, has entered a surreal realm known as The Red (created by Delano) with his young daughter Maxine.  Maxine, it turns out, is definitely a daddy's girl with emerging animal abilities of her own, making her a very important Avatar of The Red that must be protected at all costs.  It seems an evil force of darkness called The Rot wants to take control of Maxine in order to spread its influence throughout the web of all life.

Hmmm...A dark side to a powerful Force that surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.  Sounds a little familiar.

Working with Lemire is artist Travel Foreman, whose dark, stylish style gives the book a somewhat Bill Sienkiewicz appearance.  Foreman seems to revel in drawing ugly, grotesque monsters, adding to the Vertigo feel and complementing Lemire's script beautifully.  His depiction of Maxine often makes her look ten years old instead of four, but Buddy's wife Ellen has been updated nicely for 2011 while son Cliff looks very...Cliff. 

With the addition of a Red protector/instructor for Maxine in the form of a talking cat named Socks, it seems Lemire intends on developing her as much as he does Buddy, if not more so.  This first story arc ends next issue, but "The Hunt" is just the introduction to what appears to be a long-running supernatural/dark fantasy saga.  Animal Man, once again, is the superhero comic for those poor souls who hate superhero comics and I for one, couldn't be happier about that.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The STAR TREK Sequel: Who Khan It Be Now?

With Benicio Del Toro turning down the role of Khan Noonien Singh a presently unknown villain in J.J. Abrams' sequel to the 2009 Star Trek film, speculation is already turning to actor Edgar Ramirez from The Bourne Ultimatum as a potential replacement.  Variety reports that Ramirez, along with Jordi Molla, are contenders for the leading role.

Last week, Abrams stated that reports that Del Toro was playing Khan in the sequel were "not true."  However, this comment may simply refer to Del Toro's involvement in the production and not that Khan is indeed the film's villain.  The current casting speculation seems curious, though, knowing that Khan was originally portrayed in the original Star Trek television series episode "Space Seed" and later in the feature film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan by the late Ricardo Montalban, a Latin actor born in Mexico.  According to IMDb, Del Toro was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, while Ramirez was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and Molla was born in Barcelona, Spain, so whatever the role actually turns out to be, it does seem to be tailored to a Latin actor.

This also creates some speculation that recently-cast actress Alice Eve could be playing the role of Lt. Marla McGivers, the U.S.S. Enterprise's historian in "Space Seed" wooed by Khan into helping him seize control of the starship and ultimately banished with Khan to the planet Ceti Alpha V.

The Star Trek sequel will have a script by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof and will begin shooting in early 2012, for the scheduled release date of May 17, 2013.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

DOCTOR WHO: "The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe" Prequel Debuts

Nineteen days and counting until the 2011 Doctor Who Christmas special, "The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe."

The BBC have just released a 1.5-minute prequel for the episode, blocking it to regions outside the U.K. because they haven't quite grasped that Doctor Who now has an international following these days.  However, thanks to the wonders of the YouTubez, even we despised Yanks can now enjoy the prequel goodness.

Three flaws in the Doctor's plan to call Amy Pond so she can save him from being blown to smithereens:
  1. He doesn't have the coordinates for Amy to pilot the TARDIS to rescue him.
  2. Amy can't fly the TARDIS.
  3. She's not even there.
Christmas is coming.  Enjoy...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Steven Moffat Exterminates DOCTOR WHO Movie Rumors

Okay, this is all getting a bit schizo.

Just one day after director David Yates spoke to MTV about his upcoming plans for a feature film based on the Doctor Who television series, along comes current Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat to essentially say that David Yates is full of it.

In an article posted this morning by the Radio Times, Moffat apparently went on Twitter this morning to calm fan concerns over Yates' talk of rebooting Doctor Who in the film.  "To clarify: any Doctor Who movie would be made by the BBC team, star the current TV Doctor and certainly NOT be a Hollywood reboot.  David Yates, great director, was speaking off the cuff, on a red carpet."

So no reboot starring Johnny Depp or whomever, then.  Glad to hear it, so what's really going on with the film?

The Radio Times article mentions that Moffat made a statement to a British newspaper that  "there simply are no developed plans for a Doctor Who movie at the moment” but “if and when the movie happens it will need to star television's Doctor Who - and there's only ever one of those at a time.  Whatever happens, the BBC and BBC Worldwide will work together to ensure that we don't just get a movie, we get the movie that everyone wants."

Hunh.  So either there's a Doctor Who reboot movie in the works directed by David Yates or...there isn't.  However, Moffat did say "no developed plans," didn't he...?

To be continued.  Cue the Doctor Who cliffhanger music...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

David Yates Shrugs Off DOCTOR WHO Film Pressure

David Yates is ready to direct a Doctor Who feature film, whether you like it...or not.

Speaking to MTV News at the BAFTA Los Angeles 2011 Britannia Awards, the Harry Potter director confirmed that a writer for the film adaptation of the world's longest-running science-fiction series is currently being sought.  "I can't really talk about that because its such a long way away," Yates said.  "We're principally looking for a writer, and we'll start with that.  Everything has to start with a great script, so that's more important than [casting]."

Since Yates' attempt to finally bring Doctor Who to the big screen was announced last month, there has been a considerable amount of criticism from some Whovians unimpressed by his previous work.  Asked if he feels pressure from fans, Yates responded, "I've lived with pressure for so long.  What's pressure?  I don't know anymore!  It's fine, it's good.  It's such a wonderful character and such a wonderful world.  It's exciting."

After directing the last four Harry Potter films, Yates certainly knows a thing or two about fan pressure.  At the moment though, he's enjoying his break between film projects and figuring out his game plan for Doctor Who.  "It's a long journey and we're going to take our time with it," said Yates.  "Right now I'm looking forward to a vacation, frankly."

If you're interested in seeing the full interview with David Yates, you can view it here...