Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chris Cooper Cast as Norman Osborn in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2


Spider-Man's arch-nemesis is returning to the big screen.

The Hollywood Reporter announced today that Chris Cooper has signed on for the role of Norman Osborn in Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man 2.  As Spider-Man fans know, Osborn becomes the supervillain The Green Goblin, as shown in the first Spider-Man film from 2002 that featured Willem Dafoe in the role.

It's not yet known if Osborn will become the Green Goblin in this film or eventually takes on the identity in the next movie.  Almost three months ago, Dane DeHaan was cast as Norman's son Harry, and Norman's company OsCorp was featured in the first film, so it's no surprise to learn Norman will be included.  And with reports a couple of weeks ago claiming there will be another funeral scene, it seems possible that Gwen Stacy's death at the hands of the Green Goblin in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man (vol.1) #121 could be adapted somehow in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

The official plot synopsis for the film:

In The Amazing Spider-Man™ 2, for Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), life is busy – between taking out the bad guys as Spider-Man and spending time with the person he loves, Gwen (Emma Stone), high school graduation can’t come quickly enough. Peter hasn’t forgotten about the promise he made to Gwen’s father to protect her by staying away – but that’s a promise he just can’t keep. Things will change for Peter when a new villain, Electro (Jamie Foxx), emerges, an old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, and Peter uncovers new clues about his past.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 also stars Shailene Woodley as Mary Jane Watson, Paul Giamatti (Rumored to be The Rhino), and Sally Field reprising her role as Aunt May.  The film is scheduled to arrive in theaters on May 2, 2014.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Vulcan Wins Pluto Moons Contest Thanks to Shatner & Nimoy


The contest result was most logical.

According to the Associated Press, the two-week contest to name two of Pluto's recently-discovered moons has ended with Vulcan as the victor.  The name, suggested by Star Trek actor William Shatner, received close to 200,000 votes thanks to online appeals to fans by Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, who played the half-Vulcan, half-human Spock.

"174,062 votes and Vulcan came out on top of the voting for the naming of Pluto's moons. Thank you to all who voted!" Shatner posted on Twitter once the final count was released.

In an email to the Associated Press, Nimoy commented "If my people were emotional, they would say they are pleased."

In Roman mythology, Vulcan is the god of fire and lava from volcanoes and the nephew of Pluto, lord of the underworld.  As for Star Trek mythology, the planet Vulcan is Spock's homeworld and was recently destroyed in the 2009 film Star Trek.

Coming in at second place with nearly 100,000 votes was Cerberus, name for the three-headed dog in Roman mythology that guarded the gates to the underworld.  Pluto's three bigger moons are named Charon, Nix and Hydra.

There is, however, a chance that neither Vulcan nor Cerberus could be officially designated as names for the new moons, currently known as P4 and P5.  The contest was conducted by SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., the research base for the primary moon hunter. Ten astronomers who made the discoveries will take the voting results into account, as they decide what will be the two best names.  The International Astronomical Union has the final say, and it could be another month or two before an official announcement.

Mark Showalter, the leader of the teams who discovered the mini-moons, said Monday he's leaning toward the popular vote.  Although, Showalter pointed out that asteroids thought to orbit close to the sun are called vulcanoids, and there could be confusion if a moon of Pluto was named Vulcan.  Vulcan, it turns out, was the name given in the 19th century to a possible planet believed to orbit even closer to the sun than Mercury, but no such planet was found.  In addition, Showalter said that Vulcan is associated with lava and volcanoes, while distant Pluto is anything but hot.

As for Cerberus, an asteroid already bears that name, so Showalter suggested the Greek version, Kerberos, would work instead.  Styx, the river to the underworld, came in at third place in the competition with almost 88,000 votes.


Shatner's second Star Trek choice for a name, the Romulan homeworld Romulus, failed to make the cut because an asteroid already has a moon by that name, along with a moon named Remus.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Epic New GAME OF THRONES Season 3 Trailer is Epic


Winter is coming...back.

Late last night, HBO finally released the full Season 3 trailer for their hit series Game of Thrones, based on the popular "A Song of Ice and Fire" fantasy saga by George R.R. Martin.  The trailer teases everything you hoped it would and makes the wait for the third season's debut on March 31, 2013 at 9 p.m. EST feel even farther away.

"It's been a long time, my old friends..." begins Lord Varys, "The Spider," as new character Tormund Giantsbane scales The Wall with pick axes.  The song "Bones" by MS MR begins to play while the sorceress Melissandre says that "Death is coming for everyone and everything."  We see Robb and Catelyn Stark surveying the death of destruction of Winterfell and young Bran Stark being more proficient as an archer.

A quick shot follows of new character Beric Dondarrian, "The Lightning Lord," while Daenerys Targaryen surveys her new army of soldiers.  Catelyn says "Show them how it feels to lose what they love," and Rome's CiarĂ¡n Hinds debuts as Mance Rayder, the "King Beyond The Wall," who proclaims, "I'm going to light the biggest fire the North has ever seen!"

We then see a glimpse of The Hound's trial and everyone's favorite person to slap, King Joffrey Baratheon, tells his uncle Tyron Lannister and grandfather Tywin that "Everyone is mine to torment."  "There's a beast in every man," says Ser Jorah Mormont, "and it stirs when you put a sword in his hand."  Quick shots of Arya Stark, Sansa Stark, Jon Snow and Cersei Lannister are shown, followed by a stellar shot of one of Daerneys' dragons, now grown considerably larger, following her sailing vessel.

Finally, we hear another omnious voiceover from Varys, who remarks, "The revenge you want will be yours in time...."

You can view the trailer below, thanks to the Game of Thrones YouTube account...

Friday, February 22, 2013

COMMUNITY Attends an Inspector Spacetime Convention


It was the next logical step, really.  Once again, the NBC sitcom Community graced us with their show-within-a-show Doctor Who parody Inspector Spacetime in last night's episode, "Conventions of Space and Time," and even acknowledged Doctor Who's 50th anniversary in the process.

It seems diehard Inspector Spacetime fans Troy Barnes and Abed Nadir are going to their first InSpecTiCon, the 49th Annual Inspector Spacetime Convention.  Troy shows his secret girlfriend Britta Perry a classic black-and-white episode featuring the First Inspector and Constable Edmund kicking around a pair of Blorgons.  "We can go anywhere in any time in the universe," remarks the First Inspector, "but it will probably be London during the Blitz."  Britta, however, remains unimpressed.  "Oh, wow..." she says to Troy, "...There are fifty years of these, hunh?"

Troy and Abed, bringing along their Greendale study group friends, finally arrive at InSpecTiCon.  We see dozens of Inspector Spacetime fans milling about, cosplaying in all sorts of strange gear, and there are a number of background posters revealing more of the Inspector's enemies, such as immortal automatons The Pharoahbots and Baron Von Morbidor, the dungeon demon of Halog.  Britta is surprised to learn that there was a female Inspector, Inspector Minerva, but Abed explains "And everyone hates her.  Not because they're sexist, but because she sucks."

The first thing Troy and Abed do is look for the Gluon Chamber photo booth line.  Britta and Annie Edison look puzzled, so Troy quickly explains.  "It's a photo where two people are fused together like the Inspector and Reggie were bonded for eternity in Episode 704."  The line is ridiculously long, but Toby Weeks (played by Little Britain's Matt Lucas), Abed's friend from England who is "arguably the biggest Inspector Spacetime fan in the world," suggests an alternative plan.  He offers Abed a ticket to the sold-out panel "Which Inspector would win in a fight in space and which Inspector would win in a fight in time?"

Meanwhile, traditional group leader Jeff Winger discovers that he bears a striking resemblance to one of Inspector Spacetime's supervillains, Thoraxis the Man-Tiss of Thallidum.  An attractive female fan named Lauren (played by Battlestar Galactica actress Tricia Helfer) mistakes him for Nigel Cuthbertson, the actor who played Thoraxis, and even tries to get him to say Thoraxis' catchphrase "Bow before Thoraxis!"

Group members Shirley Bennett and Pierce Hawthorne are swiftly brought into a focus test group to gauge their reactions to an American version of Inspector Spacetime, a nod to one of Doctor Who fans' biggest fears.  After viewing the initial pilot, Shirley thinks it was pretty good while the older, grumpier Pierce says that he was confused.  When asked what confused him, Pierce replies, "The time travel mostly.  Also the space travel."  Shirley informs the focus group researchers, "I am friends with a couple of huge Inspector Spacetime fans and I think what they like about the show is that it's smart, complicated and doesn't talk down to its audience, so if you'd like to make a good American version, you should stay true to that."  Pierce, however, has his own suggestion.  "Instead of this Constable, what about a blonde with long legs and a tennis racket?"

As part of his attempts to separate Abed from Troy, Toby later offers Abed a ticket to the 50th Anniversary Inspector Spacetime convention in London.  Abed becomes suspicious, observing that Toby is dressed as the Third Inspector, "who was famous for trying to strangle the actor who plays Constable Dudley because they were both pursuing Linda McCartney."  He then suggests to Toby that he should try to get along with Troy.  "Maybe all relationships are made up of logical Inspectors and emotional Constables...and we need both to make space and time a better place."

Later on in the closing credits sequence, we get to see the final American version of Inspector Spacetime and none other than 90210 actor Luke Perry steps out into San Francisco in the 1960s.  "Here we are," he remarks in a solid American accent, "the 1960s, the greatest, grooviest period in the entire history of the entire universe.  I'm lucky, I get to visit places like this because I can travel through time...and space...but not both at once.  Do you know why that is, Ensign?"

Perry's fellow 90210 star Jennie Garth emerges with a tennis racket that lights up and her blond hair flowing.  "Because, Inspector Spacetime," she replies, "our minds would be blown with the spacetime confusion."

"That's right.  And now I must sleep with the sexiest woman here, who is also my grandmother, or I will cease to exist."

"How do you know I'm not your grandmother?"

The Inspector smiles flirtatiously.  "There's only one way to find out..."

So yeah, if there was any thought of an American version of Doctor Who, I think this pretty much kills that horrible idea once and for all.  If you'd like to check out the full episode, you can view it below thanks to NBC...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

DAMN Good Comics -- AVENGERS #6


It's taken a little while, but The Avengers finally feels like Jonathan Hickman's Avengers.

I've made no secret of my love for Hickman's truly fantastic Fantastic Four run, so needless to say, I was elated to learn that he was taking over Avengers and New Avengers for their Marvel NOW! relaunches.  He seems to have a solid grasp of epic, cosmic storylines that few comics writers are willing to tackle these days, so it's a delight to see him playing with various corners of the Marvel Universe.

Or should that be Marvel Universes?

In this issue's story, "Zen and the Art of Cosmology," Hickman finishes up the last of three spotlight tales of his brand-new Avengers, this time focusing on Tamara Devoux, the new Captain Universe.  I've never been a fan of the character much, probably due to the ever-changing host bodies for the Uni-Power force, but here there's an opportunity to make Captain Universe a character with actual depth underneath a spiffy blue and white costume.  Shang-Chi, the contemplative Master of Kung Fu, is a perfect choice to sit down with Captain Universe and slowly explore who this new "broken" host is and what her presence brings to the Avengers.

And to break up pages of Shang-Chi and Tamara peeling back memory after memory, Hickman lightens things up with a fun exchange between Spider-Man, currently possessed by the mind of Doctor Octopus, and former New Mutants Sunspot and Cannonball.  By incorporating continuity featured in the pages of The Superior Spider-Man, Hickman creates some early conflict between some of his Avengers and reminds us that holy crap, Doc Ock/SpOck has infiltrated the team and nobody's noticed that he's suddenly acting like a complete tool these days. 

Artist Adam Kubert finishes up his three-issue arc with style, balancing images of cosmic scale with the one-on-one exchange between Shang-Chi and Tamara.  He skimps a little bit on backgrounds, preferring a lot of facial close-ups, but some outstanding coloring from Frank Martin makes Captain Universe visually fascinating. 

All of this builds to major revelations that a mysterious alien visitor "Blackveil" is actually a new incarnation of Nightmask and The White Event that created Marvel's New Universe is rapidly approaching Earth.  And finally, Hickman provides the Builder Machine Code that's been frustrating us for the past few issues so we can decode everything that desperately needed subtitles.  Yes, there's a lot going on here and incredibly, we're just six issues in.  I don't know about you, but I can't wait to find out what happens next.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Digital Comics for the iPad -- Life in 2013

It's been a while since I last rambled about the state of digital comics and some things have certainly changed.  Comics fans are getting their regular fixes on various smartphones and tablet devices on a number of platforms and The Future of Comics seems more reassuring.

As for me, I'm still downloading away on my trusty iPad 2, which surprisingly hasn't become an outdated antique after two years.  It's currently loaded up with apps from ComiXology, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Image Comics, IDW Publishing, Dynamite Entertainment, Dark Horse Comics and BOOM! Studios, as well as a considerable backlog of comics waiting to be enjoyed as the opportunity arises.

Sure, newer iPad versions offer the ability to savor HD quality versions of some comics, but based on overall performance and my hopes for a slightly larger screen to be released someday, I haven't been able to justify spending hundreds more for an upgrade.  However, it's nice to know that whenever I finally do break down and get a new tablet, I'll have the option of getting certain comics in HD.

The various comics publisher apps are pretty much business as usual, although there have been a few game-changers along the way.  IDW Publishing finally got with the program and partnered up with ComiXology, leaving Dark Horse as the last major publisher defiantly determined to force readers to use their clunky, slow loading app in order to download their comics.  Yeah, it would be nice to have Dark Horse's comics grouped with all of the other publishers' in ComiXology's file library, and be able to read them on ComiXology's Android phone app.  I'm sure Dark Horse has their reasons, however nonsensical and foolishly territorial they seem to the rest of us.

DC Comics has taken a small step backwards in recent months by cutting back on their glorious "101 Sales" and instead focusing on replicating their efforts to additional platforms like Amazon's Kindle and Apple's iBooks stores.  What used to be prime opportunities to stock up on spotlighted characters and teams once or twice a month now seems to happen just once a season.  They still provide the chance to pick up obscure titles at just $0.99 each, such as the current "Black History Month" sale, but a formerly huge offering one weekend has been chopped up and spread across an entire month.

As a result, Marvel has jumped into the forefront in terms of $0.99 sales, offering twenty or more issues of a spotlighted character or group every Monday and Friday with the occasional Wednesday bonus.  Most of the time, these sales feature titles from the last decade, but once in a while, you can stock up on classic Avengers and X-Men books from the 1960s or titles such as Secret Wars and New Warriors from the 1980s.  Meanwhile, Dark Horse has weekend sales for those who don't care about syncing with ComiXology, IDW offers up an interesting sale about once or twice a month, with the remaining publishers even less frequently.

My digital comics budget has shifted accordingly, with more of it being reallocated from DC to Marvel.  To be fair, DC has stepped up their digital exclusive offerings over the past couple of years, making Smallville Season 11 and the Arrow digital series must-buy titles at just $0.99 every week.  They also offer the first issues of their "New 52" books at just $0.99, a good way to entice fans into trying out a new series.

Free comics are still a bit of a rarity for most publishers, unfortunately.  Marvel still dominates in this area, offering up at least three new issues every Tuesday afternoon in addition to a small assortment of books that are regularly free.  Image maintains a healthy assortment of free titles, but it's been a little while since they were updated.  Dark Horse has about 30 or 35 on their app, but unless you're a big Falling Skies fan or didn't pick up their Free Comic Book Day giveaways, you may only find one or two issues of real interest.

All in all, the digital frontier seems firmly established at this point.  Instead of quickly replacing traditional comic books, digital comics seem to be more of an optional extra as the market figures out how to accommodate them.  Marvel is the first to embrace this, adding more value to their $3.99 paper comics by including a code for a free digital copy with every issue.  Of course, this is essentially a standard $2.99 paper comic packaged with a digital comic at a $0.99 sale price, but it justifies the $3.99 cost more while encouraging the shift towards digital.  The Future will get here eventually, probably whenever DC and Marvel finally make all of their print titles $3.99 and offer digital at as $2.99 alternative, but for now at least, there's room for both print and digital to get along.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

First Trailer for NBC's HANNIBAL Debuts


It's almost dinner time for fans of Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

NBC debuted the first 30-second trailer for Hannibal yesterday, which is based on the Dr. Lecter series of novels by writer Thomas Harris.  The 13-episode series was first announced in February of 2012 and makes its debut on Thursday, April 4th at 10 p.m..

Set during the first Dr. Lecter novel Red Dragon, Hannibal stars Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Hugh Dancy as FBI Special Agent Will Graham, Laurence Fishburne as Special Agent Jack Crawford, Caroline Dhavernas as Dr. Alana Bloom, Kids in the Hall star Scott Thompson as Jimmy Price, and in a multi-episode arc, Gillian Anderson will appear as Lecter's own therapist, Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier.  NBC's official description of the series follows:

One of the most fascinating literary characters comes to life on television for the first time: psychiatrist-turned-serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. In this new drama from Bryan Fuller ("Pushing Daisies," "Heroes"), based on the characters from Thomas Harris' classic novels, we see where this incredible story began.

Will Graham is a gifted criminal profiler who is on the hunt for a serial killer with the FBI. Graham's unique way of thinking gives him the astonishing ability to empathize with anyone - even psychopaths. He seems to know what makes them tick. But when the mind of the twisted killer he's pursuing is too complicated for even Will to comprehend, he enlists the help of Dr. Lecter, one of the premier psychiatric minds in the country. Armed with the uncanny expertise of the brilliant doctor, Will and Hannibal (known as a serial killer only to the audience) form a brilliant partnership and it seems there's no villain they can't catch. If Will only knew...

Starring brilliant young actor Hugh Dancy as Will Graham, "Hannibal" will breathe new life into a deadly classic.


"I don't know this kind of psychopath," says Will Graham in the trailer, "He kills them quickly and with mercy."

Jack Crawford is shown asking Dr. Lecter, of all people, for assistance.  "Doctor, we need you to help us catch a psychopath."

This is followed with a brief shot of Graham and Lecter sharing a meal with coffee.  "I don't find you that interesting," says Graham.  "You will," replies Lecter ominously.

You can view the trailer below, thanks to YouTube user TVShowTrailerSpot...


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST Partially Set in 1970s with Richard Nixon


To quote Futurama..."NIXON'S BACK!"

Yes, the late 37th President of the United States, Richard Milhous Nixon, is returning to big screen in the upcoming movie X-Men: Days of Future PastCollider spoke with Bryan Singer, director of the 2014 film, and asked him whether he and his production team had figured out when the X-Men featured in X-Men: First Class would be set.  "Yeah, we have," said Singer, "and part of it takes place in the 1970s.  And Richard Nixon’s in it.  That’ll be an interesting casting choice, I can tell you that.  That’s a little confirmation, I guess."

Singer also revealed that the film begins shooting on April 15th in Montreal and will probably last until October. "It’s a big movie," he said.  "It’ll be the biggest movie I’ve ever made."

Because of the time-travel story element involved, Days of Future Past serves as a sequel to Matthew Vaughn's X-Men: First Class, and as a sequel to Singer's first two X-Men films.  The original comics story by writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne first appeared in Uncanny X-Men (vol.1) #141-142 in early 1981 and focused on a dystopian alternative future where mutants are incarcerated in internment camps.  An adult version of Kitty Pryde transfers her mind into the body of her younger self in order to have the X-Men stop the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly and prevent the resulting anti-mutant hysteria from happening.

Stars from both X-Men casts have been confirmed for the film, with James McAvoy (Younger Professor Xavier), Michael Fassbender (Younger Magneto), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), and Nicholas Hoult (Beast) returning from X-Men: First Class.  Sir Patrick Stewart (Older Professor Xavier), Sir Ian McKellen (Older Magneto), Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde), Shawn Ashmore (Iceman), and Anna Paquin (Rogue) will reprise their roles from Singer's X-Men films.

"I got the impression that everyone was kind of excited to come back," said Singer.  "The actors from X-Men: First Class are contracted to, but the ones I’ve spoken to are very enthusiastic.  Jen’s very excited, I’m with Nick these past few days and he’s excited, and Hugh, Ian, Patrick, Anna—They remember we felt very good about those first two X-Men films back then and I think there’s a good feeling about all of us working together again, and I’m very excited to work with the new cast members as a director as opposed to just a producer."

X-Men: Days of Future Past is scheduled to arrive in theaters on July 18, 2014.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Montana TV Station Issues Zombie Emergency Alert


Here's hoping someone in Great Falls, Montana can step up as the next Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon or Michonne if things get worse.

According to an article on Deadline. the Emergency Alert System for Great Falls TV station KRTV and its CW station was hacked and forced to broadcast warnings of a zombie outbreak.  The prank broke into The Steve Wilkos Show on the CW station, first blaring the standard emergency alert signal, followed by a monotone voice that said "Civil authorities in your area have reported that the bodies of the dead are rising from their graves and attacking the living.  Follow the messages on screen that will be updated as information becomes available.  Do not attempt to approach or apprehend these bodies as they as considered extremely dangerous."

The Great Falls Tribune reported that there were at least four calls to police asking if the emergency alert was real.  (Really, people?  You have to call and actually ask that?)  This caused KRTV to post a notice on its website that there is no emergency.  The investigation to locate the hacker or hackers responsible continues, provided they haven't already been killed and consumed by the walking dead.

You can watch the footage of the CW station emergency alert below, thanks to YouTube user ctbadboy23...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

AN ADVENTURE IN SPACE AND TIME Cast Revealed


Have you ever thought what it's like to be wanderers in the fourth dimension?  Have you?

Well, if you don't know already, you're going to find out later this year in the documentary drama about Doctor Who's genesis, An Adventure in Space and TimeThe 90-minute BBC TWO special by Doctor Who writer and actor Mark Gatiss was announced last August as part of the 50th anniversary of the first Doctor Who story, "An Unearthly Child," that debuted on November 23, 1963.

Gatiss first pitched the idea to the BBC in 2003 for the show's 40th anniversary but was told there was no available budget or timeslot for the program.  "This is the story of how an unlikely set of brilliant people created a true television original," said Gatiss, "and how an actor, William Hartnell, stereotyped into hard-man roles, became a hero to millions of children.  I've wanted to tell this story this for more years than I can remember!  To make it happen for Doctor Who's 50th birthday is quite simply a dream come true."

The currently known cast for An Adventure in Space and Time are:

     William Hartnell (The First Doctor) -- David Bradley (Argus Filch in the Harry Potter films)
     WIlliam Russell (Ian Chesterton) -- Jamie Glover (Waterloo Road)
     Jacqueline Hill (Barbara Wright) -- Jemma Powell (Alice in Wonderland (2010))
     Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman) -- Claudia Grant
     Verity Lambert (Doctor Who's first producer) -- Jessica Raine (The Woman in Black)
     Sydney Newman (BBC Head of Drama) -- Brian Cox (X2: X-Men United, Troy)
     Waris Hussein (Director of "An Unearthly Child") -- Sacha Dhawan (The History Boys)
     Delia Derbyshire (Doctor Who theme music composer) -- Sarah Winter (Lovelorn)
     Harry -- William Russell (Doctor Who's Ian Chesterton!)

Bradley, who recently appeared as Solomon in the Doctor Who episode "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," remarked on playing the role of William Hartnell.  "I first heard about this role from Mark [Gatiss] while watching the Diamond Jubilee flotilla from the roof of the National Theatre.  When he asked if I would be interested, I almost bit his hand off!  Mark has written such a wonderful script not only about the birth of a cultural phenomenon, but a moment in television’s history.  William Hartnell was one of the finest character actors of our time and as a fan, I want to make sure that I do him justice.  I’m so looking forward to getting started."

BBC America announced in late January that they will air An Adventure in Space and Time in the United States.  Although no specific date was provided, it will probably be shown sometime this November in time for Doctor Who's 50th anniversary.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

DAMN Good Comics -- GREEN ARROW #17

At last, an issue of Green Arrow that doesn't curl up in embarrassment when compared to the Arrow television series.

When DC Comics debuted their rebooted DC Universe "The New 52" almost a year and a half ago, many fans of Green Arrow hoped the new series with a younger Oliver Queen would finally get the character back on track with fresh, engaging stories and artwork.  Unfortunately, writers J.T. Krul, Keith Giffen and Ann Nocenti, and artists Dan Jurgens, Harvey Tolibao and Freddie Williams seemed at a loss about how to make that happen.  The revolving door of creators and poor editorial direction combined for some of the most impenetrable Green Arrow comics in recent memory.

And then, almost mercifully, along came the TV series Arrow to remind everyone about how interesting Green Arrow could actually be when handled well.  Classic runs like the Mike Grell era and Green Arrow: Year One by Andy Diggle and Jock were major influences over the look and tone of the television adaptation and the supplemental Arrow digital comic series.

So it's welcome to see that DC woke up, smelled the (damn good) coffee, and made the Green Arrow comic series more like Arrow.  They turned to Jeff Lemire, who has had considerable success with Animal Man and taking over Justice League Dark to rescue Green Arrow from the downward creativity and sales spirals.  In his first issue, "The Kill Machine, Part 1," Lemire strips away pretty much everything from the previous sixteen issues.  Bland supporting characters Emerson, Jax and Naomi are swiftly taken off the board, Queen Industries is bought out without Oliver's knowledge, and Oliver is being hunted by a rival archer named Komodo.  Oh, and a mysterious figure with no eyes named The Magus shows up with ominous hints that there was more to Oliver's marooning on an island than he realizes.  That's more like it.

There's a major upgrade artwise as well, with Andrea Sorrentino producing some excellent work.  His moody style resembles a cross between Jock and David Aja, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at.  Also, his deliberate panel layouts draw the reader's eyes exactly where he wants them to go, with rectangular box outlines focusing on specific elements of action sequences.

All in all, Green Arrow #17 is essentially another Green Arrow #1 and that's a good thing.  As long as Lemire and Sorrentino continue to deliver and positive word-of-mouth spreads, this series should claw its way back from almost certain doom.  If you're a longtime Green Arrow fan that gave up hoping for something better, or an Arrow fan hungry for more, do yourself a favor and jump on board now.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Disney Plans Young Han Solo & Boba Fett Spinoff Films

Size matters not...unless you're talking about the Star Wars franchise.

In addition to the upcoming third trilogy of films, with the first to be directed by J.J. Abrams, the Walt Disney Empire Co. revealed yesterday that they are planning to make several spinoff films set in the Star Wars fictional universe.  Entertainment Weekly revealed two such projects today, a young Han Solo saga exploring the scruffy-looking scoundrel's origin and a bounty hunter adventure centered around fan-favorite Boba Fett.  They claimed several sources close to the projects confirmed the information, although left room for a change in plans and both Lucasfilm and Disney declined to comment.

Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced the plans yesterday as part of the company’s quarterly earnings report. He said the screenwriters working of the stand-alone films are Simon Kinberg (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Sherlock Holmes) and Lawrence Kasdan (screenwriter of The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark).  Both are also involved in drafting scripts for the new trilogy, with Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3) scripting Episode VII that is scheduled to arrive in theaters in 2015.

Han Solo's story would be set in the time period between Revenge of the Sith and the first Star Wars (a.k.a. A New Hope) and could potentially feature actor Harrison Ford returning to frame Han's origin in flashback form with a much younger actor taking over the role.  It's not yet known if this storyline will be based around "The Han Solo Trilogy," three Star Wars novels by A.C. Crispin that were released from 1997 to 1998.  Set before the events of A New Hope, the trilogy starts with 19-year-old Han escaping a life of drudgery to become a pilot, entering Imperial military training, winning his ship the MIllennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian, hooking up with his best friend Chewbacca, and the events leading up to his first encounter with Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Mos Eisley cantina.

As for the Boba Fett film, it would be set either between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, or between Empire and Return of the Jedi, where the bounty hunter ended up falling into a sarlacc pit. A natural choice to play Fett would be Temuera Morrison, who played Boba's father Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones.

The projects would also allow for the potential return of characters Darth Vader and Jabba the Hutt, who both died in Return of the Jedi, as well as any number of references to the main Star Wars saga.

Another possible spinoff could involve the Jedi Master Yoda, as reported two days ago by Ain't It Cool News.  No other details were provided and it's not known if Frank Oz would return to voice the character once again.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Emily VanCamp Cast in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER


Captain America just got a new girlfriend...probably.

Late yesterday, Deadline announced that Emily VanCamp, star of the ABC TV series Revenge, had landed the lead female role in Captain America: The Winter SoldierThere was no mention of who VanCamp will be playing, but it most likely will be Sharon Carter, the modern-day relative of Captain America: The First Avenger love interest Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell).

Sharon Carter first appeared in Tales of Suspense #75 in 1966 as a member of Nick Fury's organization S.H.I.E.L.D. and was assigned the codename "Agent 13."  She features prominently in the "Winter Soldier" storyline that ran in Captain America (2005) #1-14, written by Ed Brubaker and drawn by Steve Epting and Michael Lark.  Sharon is abducted by the Winter Soldier and used as bait to lure Captain America into a trap by General Aleksander Lukin.  Later on, Sharon and Captain America rekindle their relationship during a field mission investigating activities of the Winter Soldier.

VanCamp joins returning Marvel cinematic universe actors Chris Evans as Captain America, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier, Toby Jones as Arnim Zola, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, and Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill.  In addition, Anthony Mackie will appear as The Falcon and Frank Grillo as Crossbones.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier will be directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and is scheduled to arrive in theaters on April 4, 2014.