Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lucy Liu Cast as Dr. Watson in CBS' ELEMENTARY

Well, this should help quiet some of the critics of CBS' upcoming modern-day Sherlock Holmes TV pilot Elementary.

Deadline reports that Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Charlie's Angels actress Lucy Liu has been cast as Dr. Joan Watson, a female version of Dr. John Watson who serves as Holmes' crime-solving partner.  Liu's Watson will be a former surgeon who lost her license after a patient died, while consulting for the New York Police Department.

In addition, more information was revealed about star Jonny Lee Miller's version of Sherlock Holmes. This Holmes will be "an eccentric Brit" who was a former consultant to Scotland Yard until his addiction problems led him to a rehab center in New York City.  Now just out of rehab (for heroin addiction, presumably), this Holmes lives in Brooklyn with Watson as his "sober companion."

Since Elementary's announcement back in September, the pilot has received considerable criticism as a blatant ripoff of the BBC's modern-day Holmes series Sherlock, most notably from co-creator Steven Moffat.  Liu's casting as a female Watson, combined with the take of Holmes being out of rehab and the New York setting, appears to alleviate some of those concerns.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Epic New GAME OF THRONES Season 2 Trailer is Epic

Winter is coming...back.

Late last night (or early this morning, take your pick), HBO's Go app released a brand-new trailer for the second season of Game of Thrones, based on the popular "A Song of Ice and Fire" fantasy saga by writer George R.R. Martin.  This new trailer is as epically-epic as you would hope, showcasing numerous characters and settings that continue to populate the television adaptation.

Everything is as it should be...Jon Snow is broody among the snow, Littlefinger and The Spider are as manipulative as ever, Daenerys Targaryen is ready to unleash dragonfire, Stannis Baratheon claims the Iron Throne is his, Robb Stark is taking on his father's responsibilities at a cost, Tyrion Lannister wants to know everything his sister Cersei is doing, and Bran Stark and Hodor see a comet foretelling dragons.

Game of Thrones returns on April 1st.  In the meantime, you can check out the new trailer below, thanks to the Game of Thrones YouTube account...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

DAMN Good Comics -- FANTASTIC FOUR #603

Y'know, it's a damn shame so little happens in Fantastic Four these days...Ahem.

Part Four of Jonathan Hickman's epically-epic "Forever" continues the redemption of the title as "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine."  On a cosmic scale not seen since the days of creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Hickman keeps unloading everything he's been building since he took over with issue #570 into a final storyline that FF fans are going to remember well into their old age.

This issue starts off, quietly enough, with world-eater/planet-killer Galactus duking it out in space with a group of Mad Celestials that speak just like Daleks from the TV series Doctor Who.  From there, we learn that the Interdimensional Council of Reeds was constructing a god-killing weapon called Sol's Anvil, which "our" Reed hooks up to four (of course) power bases located on Old Atlantis, The Negative Zone, The Blue Area of the Moon and The Forever City.  This ends up with one of the Invisible Woman's finest moments, as she defiantly defends her unconscious husband from an assault by the Mad Celestials.

And this isn't even the conclusion.

Although the art for this issue isn't by regular artist Steve Epting, Barry Kitson more than ably steps in to give Hickman's script enough visual gravitas.  Scenes of a towering figure like Galactus facing a combined Mad Celestial megabeing at least five times his size look great, especially to see the Big G having his cosmic behind blasted all the way into an impact crater in Africa.  However, it's the Invisible Woman's tearful look of defiance against the Mad Celestials where Kitson is most effective, selling the scene perfectly.

So just one more issue of "Forever" to go.  The adult versions of Franklin and Valeria Richards have jumped all the way from Fantastic Four #582 to get here, so here's hoping crossing all that space and time was worth it.  If next month's issue turns out as well as this one did, it definitely will be.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What's Up With ALCATRAZ's Golden Age Sandman Fan?

The FOX science-fiction prison drama Alcatraz gained another comic book fan last week in the form of Nikki, a medical examiner played by actress Jeananne Goossen.  In the episode "Paxton Petty," the show's resident comic book writer/artist/shop owner Dr. Diego "Doc" Soto encounters Nikki for the first time and learns that the coroner is a fellow geek for the classic DC Comics character Wesley Dodds, a.k.a. the Golden Age Sandman.

After Doc Soto quickly spots Nikki rocking a Golden Age Sandman t-shirt, he awkwardly tells her that he has "every issue of Sandman, mint condition."  Now, the Golden Age Sandman didn't actually have his own comic until the outstanding DC/Vertigo series Sandman Mystery Theatre that debuted in 1993 and lasted for 70 issues.  However, it might be a bit more impressive if Doc Soto owned copies of the characters first appearances in 1939 in New York World's Fair Comics #1 and Adventure Comics (vol.1) #40, all the way through to Adventure Comics (vol.1) #102 from 1945.  Just something to keep in mind there, Alcatraz writers.

Nikki returned in last night's episode "Johnny McKee," sporting a different Golden Age Sandman t-shirt.  (Where does she get these things, anyway?  TeeFury?)  And since IMDb lists that Nikki will also be in the episode "Clarence Montgomery," it seems the character is intended to be someone for Doc Soto to crush on and be geekily awkward around, even if actual romantic involvement never happens.  However, since the shared obscure interest seems a bit coincidental, it's possible to read a bit more into Nikki and imagine that she's secretly working for Emerson Hauser, with the intention of driving a wedge for whatever purpose between Doc Soto and Rebecca Madsen.

But hey, let's just hope for Doc's sake that true Geek Love wins out in the end...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Paul McGann Sings Backup for His Companion at Gallifrey One 23

"These backup singer's shoes...They fit perfectly!  Yesssss...."

Last night at the Gallifrey One's Network 23 convention held at the Marriott Los Angeles Airport hotel, the stars of the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie reunited for a stage performance from actress Daphne Ashbrook, who played the Eighth Doctor's companion Dr. Grace Holloway.  Singing "I Don't Need No Doctor" from her 2010 album Grace Notes, Ashbrook was backed up by three male singers (well, sort of singers) including her TV movie co-stars Eighth Doctor actor Paul McGann and Yee Jee Tso, who played Chang Lee.  Charlie Ross, a Scottish comedian who voiced the role of Lest in the Eighth Doctor audio adventure Memory Lane for Big Finish Productions, rounded out the rather rhythmless backup trio.

Oh, and look...Daphne Ashbrook even has a downloadable MP3 of "I Don't Need No Doctor" for you to buy here on Amazon...

You can check out a video of the performance below, thanks to the kindness of YouTube user Davendea...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bargain Hunting for Digital Comics

Okay, you've managed to get yourself one of those wacky iPad things or some other sexy tablet device and you're interested in checking out some of these digital comics you've been reading about.  And let's say for the sake of argument that some of the prices for new books, especially the $3.99 ones, seem a bit insane to you considering there's no tangible paper to justify the switch from traditional comic books for the same price.

Well, there are a few ways around that if you have a little patience and you're willing to bargain hunt...

Wait one month or so for the price to drop -- Most publishers will drop the price of new releases after one month.  DC Comics, for example, drops the price of their $2.99 books down to $1.99 and their $3.99 books down to $2.99.  IDW, meanwhile, will drop their $3.99 books down to $1.99 after the first month, which is an even better deal.  Unfortunately, the main exception here is Marvel, who seems frustratingly locked into the notion that new $3.99 titles such as Avenging Spider-Man and Uncanny X-Men need to remain at $3.99 even after five months or longer.  Granted, this helps brick-and-mortar comic shops stay competitive, but doesn't exactly make Marvel competitive with other publishers on the digital front.  You could be doing a lot better with this, Marvel.

Look for the free comics -- Sadly, free digital comics aren't as prevalent as they used to be on iPad apps, but there was a time (okay, just last year) when all the major publishers were posting free digital comics for you to enjoy on their respective apps and ComiXology on a consistent, weekly basis.  Well, the last free comic DC posted was End of Nations #0 on November 18, 2011 (three months ago to the day) and it's just been "Sneak Peek" promotional previews ever since.  Dark Horse currently has 33 free comics available, but it seems like 85% of them have been there for over two months or longer, so there's a serious staleness factor there.  Surprisingly, the big winner for free comics is Marvel, who regularly posts two or three new free comics every Tuesday night.  Some of the offerings are even as recent as last summer, others from ten years ago or older, some are top books, others obscure gems, you name it.  Yeah, they also throw in some promotional stuff, but some of it can be exclusive prologue stories to upcoming events like the Avengers movie.  Other publishers should really follow Marvel's lead on this particular front.

Wait for special sales -- This is the big one for bargain hunters.  Every week or so, ComiXology and/or a certain publisher will offer a weekend or holiday discount sale focusing on a particular character, team, title or theme.  Most of these discounts offer titles for just $0.99, the price most of us are willing to pay for comics we already own and love again in this newer digital format.  DC Comics has been embracing these sale promotions more and more with things like their excellent "101 Sales" that offer 101 classic and recent titles of Superman, Batman, The Flash, whatever the theme is that month, for just $0.99 each.  Marvel is right behind as well, but they choose to concentrate on Mondays and Fridays for their $0.99 sales.  Dark Horse and IDW will have a similar sale every so often, as will Image and Dynamite, but nowhere near the frequency or scale as DC or Marvel.  Regardless of the publisher, though, these special sales are great ways to build a considerable digital comics collection and get runs of titles like JLA or Astonishing X-Men for far less than you spent buying them in paper.

So all in all, the bargains are there if you keep looking for them on a regular basis and aren't focused solely on just a few specific titles.  They're also a good excuse to try something new, as I did with Image's Morning Glories or IDW's Star Trek ongoing series, so go ahead and see what's out there.  You might like what you find.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Green Arrow TV Pilot Casts Black Canary (Sort of)

Okay, she's not Black Canary now...but maybe someday?

Casting for Arrow, the CW pilot based on DC Comics' superhero Green Arrow, continues with the addition of Supernatural and Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy.  According to Deadline, Cassidy has been cast as Laurel, the show's female lead who is a young legal clinic attorney that has a romantic past with Oliver Queen.

The casting description found on The TV Addict describes the character as "28 years old, smart sexy, Laurel is a legal aid attorney determined to use her life as a one-woman war against the 1% following the death of her younger sister Sara.  A sister, who as luck would have it, just so happened to have died aboard Oliver’s yacht."

As fans of Green Arrow know, the character has had a long-running on-again, off-again romantic relationship with Dinah Laurel Lance, a.k.a. the superheroine Black Canary.  Cassidy will be the third actress to star as a live-action version of the character for the CW/WB, after Rachel Skarsten appeared as "Dinah Redmond" on the short-lived 2002 series based on DC's Birds of Prey, and Alaina Huffman portrayed the character in a recurring role on the Superman-based series Smallville.

The addition of Cassidy to the Arrow cast follows on news that Stephen Amell will be Oliver Queen/Green Arrow and actress Susanna Thompson will be playing Oliver's mother Moira Queen.

NBC Orders 13 Episodes of HANNIBAL With Some Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti

Go directly to 13-episode pickup.  Do not pass Go.  Do not collect $200.

Enterainment Weekly reports that NBC has given a full direct-to-series order of 13 episodes to Bryan Fuller's Hannibal, based on the cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter created by writer Thomas Harris.  The series will apparently be based on the first Dr. Lecter novel Red Dragon and has the following logline description:

"One-hour contemporary thriller series featuring the classic characters from Thomas Harris’ novel Red Dragon – FBI agent Will Graham and his mentor Dr. Hannibal Lecter – who are re-introduced at the beginning of their budding relationship."

Dr. Lecter, of course, first achieved mainstream popularity with the brilliant performance by Sir Anthony Hopkins in the 1991 adaptation of The Silence of the Lambs, which earned Hopkins a much-deserved Best Actor Academy Award.  However, actor Brian Cox had previously played Dr. Lecter in the 1986 Michael Mann film Manhunter, which was based on the Red Dragon novel.  Hopkins later reprised the role in the 2001 adaptation of the third Dr. Lecter novel Hannibal, and then again a year later in Brett Ratner's adaptation of Red Dragon.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Well, it's about time...and space, apparently.

Rich Johnston's Bleeding Cool announced that one of science-fiction fandom's most-desired property crossovers is actually happening in a comic book mini-series from IDW Publishing.  Johnston reports that in May, IDW will release a Doctor Who/Star Trek: The Next Generation crossover series featuring Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor, along with Amy and Rory Pond/Williams meeting the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D.

No details about who will be the series writer or artist, although Bleeding Cool provided the artwork shown here that appears to be from IDW cover artist Joe Corroney.  IDW is scheduled to attend the 2012 Gallifrey One convention and will most likely make an official announcement of the series then.

Also, there are no details yet of the actual story premise, but a combined threat of the Cybermen and the Borg seems like a natural enough idea, doesn't it?

** Update as of 2/13/12 **

According to a follow-up article posted today on Bleeding Cool, the mini-series will indeed feature the Cybermen and the Borg and will be titled Assimilation.  It will be written by Scott and David Tipton, writers of several Star Trek comics for IDW and will be drawn by Fallen Angel artist J.K. Woodward.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


I think AMC has just found themselves a new TV series.

At least, that's what I kept thinking while reading the first issue of Image's Thief of Thieves.  The central character, Redmond (a.k.a. Conrad Paulson), is a master thief who seems ready to be portrayed on TV by Mad Men star Jon Hamm...or someone a hell of a lot like him.  As we're introduced to Redmond's world, we also meet Celia, his apprentice that he takes on after Celia attempts to boost his car from a shopping center parking lot.

The script by Nick Spencer, apparently working from a storyline from The Walking Dead and Invincible creator Robert Kirkman, is structured as if the Ocean's Eleven remake was directed by Quentin Tarantino instead.  There's a lot of jumping around in the narrative, leaving things up to the reader to piece various bits of information together to see how the overarching storyline is going to play out.  And since this is the first issue, we're left with more questions than answers but with the promise of an enjoyable ride.

Shawn Martinbrough handles the art, taking scenes of mostly conversation and giving them mood and considerable depth.  He also adds to the televised feel, drawing most of his panels as if you were watching a recent series shot in hi-def widescreen.  His style has developed as well, coming a long way from issues of Action Comics, Detective Comics and JSA Classified into something far more sophisticated and atmospheric.

Overall, Thief of Thieves is a series with a healthy amount of potential.  Based on the unexplained prologue at the very beginning and the final scene where Redmond announces he's quitting his society of thieves for as yet unrevealed reasons, there's obviously more to the overall story to be told.  If nothing else, though, this first issue was good for informing readers to never store emergency car keys underneath their cars...

DC Announces SMALLVILLE SEASON 11 Comic Book Series

Comics fans have noticed a considerable void on television since the Superman series Smallville ended its impressive ten-season run back in May 2011.  The only comic book series currently on the air is AMC's The Walking Dead, which obviously appeals more to fans of horror and survival tales than your standard superhero fans.

However, DC Comics has just announced that they're going to help fill that Smallville void with Smallville Season 11, a new comic book series that will be released first in digital format and then collected into a print periodical.  The series will be written by former Smallville screenwriter and Batgirl writer Bryan Q. Miller, with art by Pere Perez, Miller's creative partner on Batgirl: The Flood.

Smallville Season 11 will debut as a digital comic on April 13, 2012, with a new digital chapter coming out each week featuring covers by Cat Staggs.  A month later, the chapters will be collected into a print version that have the added bonus of a TV episode guide.  The first printed version is scheduled for May 16, with covers by none other than Gary Frank.

"Six months after Clark Kent donned the cape and took to the skies to save Earth from Apokolips…enter Season 11!” said Miller.  “New allies abound!  New enemies afoot!  And old friends return where they’re least expected!  Pere and colorist Chris Beckett have done a fantastic job of capturing the look of the show and the players, and Gary and Cat are knocking it out of the park on covers.  I couldn’t be more excited to help give seasoned viewers and new readers an all-access pass to Clark’s first year in the cape."

In the meantime, I'd like to heartily recommend/shameless plug the Smallville: The Complete Series DVD set from Warner Home Video, which features four Daily Planet stories from yours truly...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Writer Anne Rice's most famous creation, the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt, may be returning to the big screen for a third film adaptation from Rice's The Vampire Chronicles series.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment has optioned the rights to The Tale of the Body Thief, the fourth book in the series.  The film version of the first book, Interview With the Vampire, was released back in 1994, starring Tom Cruise as Lestat along with Brad Pitt as Louis de Pointe du Lac.  The third book, The Queen of the Damned, was released as a film in 2002, but starred Stuart Townsend as Lestat and R&B singer Aaliyah as Queen Akasha.

Imagine is using the Imagine Reliance Writers Lab to work on the script.  Lee Patterson, who wrote a screenplay titled Snatched, is working on the Body Thief adaptation.  Producing with Imagine are Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the writer-producers best known for TV’s Fringe and the Star Trek and Transformers movies.

The description for the original 1992 novel is as follows:

Returning to Lestat as the main character, the fourth in the Vampire Chronicles series finds Lestat impulsive and careless in the pursuit of what he wants: a serial killer in Southern Florida. Lestat is surrounded by mortals in this tale, an a new worthy counterpoint character to Lestat is introduced, Raglan James. James is a vampire hunter, and a formidable adversary for Lestat. James offers Lestat the opportunity to switch bodies temporarily with a young mortal. Against Louis' advice, Lestat accepts and discovers he hates everything about being human. He also finds that James has disappeared with Lestat's powerful vampire body. Louis refuses to help Lestat become a vampire again, and he turns to another mortal to help him trick James into switching souls, and giving up Lestat's body.

The project has yet to find a studio.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Hulk Smashes in Extended AVENGERS Super Bowl Spot

Last year, the Red Skull was unmasked during the Super Bowl spot for Captain America: The First Avenger.  This year, it's the Hulk's turn and he's...incredible.

In an extended one-minute version of the televised spot that debuted during tonight's Super Bowl XLVI, we see Earth under attack by Thor's adopted brother Loki and his nasty allies that are possibly Skrulls, Ultrons, Frost Giants, or something else altogether.  We see shots of the Avengers Quinjet landing on a SHIELD Helicarrier, and of course, we also have Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye and The Hulk being assembled by SHIELD Director Nick Fury to face the devastating threat facing our planet.

"I have an army," Loki confidently tells Tony Stark, who simply replies, "We have a Hulk."

The Avengers is scheduled to arrive in theaters on May 4, 2012.  You can view the full extended Super Bowl spot below thanks to the kindness of YouTube user Joblomovienetwork...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Who Should Sing the SKYFALL Opening Credits Theme?

With the twenty-third official James Bond film Skyfall scheduled to arrive in theaters later this year, I started wondering about who would be singing the opening credits theme music.  The Bond films' traditionally bold, artistic opening credits sequences are legendary in cinema and have been accompanied by songs from equally legendary performers such as Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Nancy Sinatra, Paul McCartney and Wings, Sheena Easton, Duran Duran, a-ha, Tina Turner, Sheryl Crow, Garbage, Chris Cornell and most recently, Jack White and Alicia Keys.

So with this range of musical artists in mind, I came up with a small list of who I feel might be worthy enough to be added to this impressive list.  Sadly, I would've suggested the late Amy Winehouse not that long ago, but I think this group would do just as nicely...

Adele -- The obvious choice given her current popularity and her soulful sound that picks right up where Amy Winehouse left off.  Songs like "Someone Like You" and "Set Fire to the Rain" prove she could easily handle a Bond movie theme, especially with such a powerful voice.  The young English singer-songwriter recently suffered a vocal cord hemorrhage, but has since recovered and is expected to make her comeback at the Grammy Awards on February 12th. 

Florence + The Machine -- While I'm thinking about powerful voices, Florence + the Machine's Florence Welch certanily has quite the set of pipes as well.  The band would probably bring a more ethereal sound to the opening theme, but with songs like "Howl," "You've Got the Love" and "What the Water Gave Me," you have to admit there's serious potential for a great Bond theme there.

Noel Gallagher -- As the former lead guitarist and songwriter for the band Oasis, Gallagher is starting to find additional success in his solo project, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds.  Singles like "If I Had a Gun..." seem ready-made for a Bond film, while his prior Oasis songs like "Don't Look Back in Anger" or "Morning Glory" show quite a bit of creative range.  Of course, I wouldn't be unhappy if he reunited with his brother Liam for the track...

Michael BublĂ© -- The Canadian singer is probably the closest thing out there to a modern-day Frank Sinatra, introducing many standards to a new generation of fans.  I'm curious to hear this kind of take on a Bond theme after the last couple songs, but after hearing the stellar Junkie XL remix of BublĂ©'s version of the 1960s Spider-Man cartoon theme, I know there are other ways the song could go as well.

She Wants Revenge -- I know this is a bit of an oddball pick here, but if a band like Garbage could create arguably one of the best Bond themes ever with "The World is Not Enough," then a band like She Wants Revenge should be in the ballpark.  Their recent "Take the World" is practically a Bond theme already, while other tracks like "Up in Flames" or "Tear You Apart" could result in an edgier theme that worked well in Casino Royale. 

Regardless of who sings the opening theme though, I think most of us can agree that it definitely shouldn't be Madonna again...