Friday, November 30, 2007

Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory.

"Hey, lady! You call him Dr. Jones!"

Indy may be getting older, but I still wouldn't screw around with him. Thanks to Comic by Comic for the image.

And speaking of Dr. Jones: "The story is told in the Kebra Negast (Glory of the Kings), Ethiopia's chronicle of its royal line: the Queen of Sheba, one of its first rulers, traveled to Jerusalem to partake of King Solomon's wisdom; on her way home, she bore Solomon's son, Menelik. Later Menelik went to visit his father, and on his return journey was accompanied by the firstborn sons of some Israelite nobles—who, unbeknown to Menelik, stole the ark and carried it with them to Ethiopia. When Menelik learned of the theft, he reasoned that since the ark's frightful powers hadn't destroyed his retinue, it must be God's will that it remain with him."

True story? Smithsonian Magazine's Paul Raffaele tries to find out. It's true, as one commenter to the article put it, that Raffaele is "no Indiana Jones," but it's still a cool story full of mystic locales and secretive guardians. And this one definitely is true.

Never mind.

Yesterday, when I teased about the book questioning Jesse James' DNA test, the reason I didn't write about it then was that I was in a rush and didn't have time to read the whole press release I'd saved. Now that I have, I recognize the book's author as being one of a couple of folks claiming to be descendants of Jesse James. Everything you need to know about her and her case is in the link, but I've heard her story on one of those Jesse specials I mentioned yesterday and I'm skeptical. In spite of the fantasy we pose in Jesse James vs. Machine Gun Kelly, there's no real evidence that leads me to believe that Jesse survived his encounter with Bob Ford's gun.

Solomon Kane Poster

As much as I love Robert E. Howard's Conan stories (and I so do), I've never tracked down his Solomon Kane stories because deep in my heart I don't believe that anyone, not even Howard, could write stories cool enough to do justice to the idea of a wandering, Puritan monster-hunter.

I have to say though that the poster for the movie adaptation looks pretty damn cool. Sort of makes me want to read some Howard stories. (Thanks to Christopher Mills for the link).

Chuck picked up.

I'm pretty sure I watched the pilot episodes of every new show this season. Some shows never got a second viewing; others I dropped after checking out a few additional episodes. Without question, the best new show of the Fall has been NBC's Chuck. It's like they took Jim from The Office, turned him into a reluctant spy, and had the hottest, most butt-kickingest secret agent ever and Jayne from Firefly protect him. It's funny, it's action-packed, and it's got a ton of heart. It's also been picked up for a full season, which -- assuming the WGA strike is resolved and they can actually create new episodes -- is the best news I've heard all week.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Assassination of Jesse James review, etc.

I finally saw The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford a couple of weeks ago, but I keep forgetting to write a review. My brother-in-law Dave and I agreed that it was basically a very pretty, well acted History Channel special. And I should know because I've been watching a lot of Jesse James specials lately on PBS and the History Channel and whatnot.

The Assassination of Jesse James doesn't really add anything to them except that it's got a much larger budget and some fancy movie stars. It's more or less a straightforward, accurate depiction of the last part of Jesse's life, complete with a History Channel-esque narrator. There's nothing particularly revelatory about him unless your previous exposure to him has been limited to American Outlaws.

That's not to say that it's a worthless movie though. It actually plays pretty well if you see it as a movie about Bob Ford. It does a fairly nice job of getting inside poor Bob's head and letting you experience with him the fear and paranoia that being in Jesse's gang must have entailed. At least in the middle half it does.

The first half hour or so has one of the coolest, moodiest train robberies I've even seen in a movie, but other than that it's just a bunch of look-how-crazy-Jesse-is and isn't-Bob-a-socially-retarded-dweeb. Where the movie really picks up is once Jesse starts suspecting that his men are plotting against him. At that point, everyone's on edge, including the audience. Unless you really know your Jesse history, you never can tell when he's going to snap and kill off a pal next. It's makes for some gripping movie-watching.

Unfortunately, the film never really explains why Bob decided to betray Jesse. It implies it, certainly. Living in fear will grind on a fella, and Jesse never really gave Bob the respect Bob felt he deserved. But I missed seeing that one moment where Bob goes, "That's it. I've had enough." Maybe it was there and it was too subtle for me, but I kept thinking and wondering about it for the last half-hour of the movie and it kept me from being able to just enjoy the end as the paranoia got thicker and thicker until something had to crack. The lack of that one, defining moment is the movie's big flaw and the reason I probably won't buy it when it comes out on DVD in January.

Moving on to other Jesse news, Spout.com notices that Warner Brothers has finally decided to pay some attention to Assassination and has started taking out "For Your Consideration" ads for it. They're promoting it for Best Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay, but I agree with Spout that they're missing an opportunity by not pushing Casey Affleck for Best Supporting Actor. I'd argue that his role in the film should actually put him up for consideration for Best Actor, but Supporting Actor would probably be an easier win for him.

If other Jesse movies are interesting to you, VCI has a boxed collection of them on sale for ten bucks. The Great Jesse James Raid & Outlaws Collection features The Great Jesse James Raid, Renegade Girl, Return of Jesse James, Gunfire, Dalton Gang and I Shot Billy the Kid.

What else?

Bob Ford's gun went up for auction last week. Not the one he shot Jesse with, but still pretty cool.

Jesse may have been Welsh.

And I'll wrap up with a cool story about Jesse versus a moustache-twirling rent-collector. I don't know if it's true, but I like it because Jesse gets to sort of play the hero in it while still remaining in character.

Next week I'll tell you about a book that questions the DNA evidence around Jesse's death. Maybe, as Jesse James vs. Machine Gun Kelley postulates, Bob didn't really kill him as dead as everyone thought.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

No, really. KOREAN Wonder Woman. You're welcome.

Wonder Woman Wardrobe War Winners

The results of Project: Rooftop's Wonder Woman Wardrobe War are in. There are some nice designs, but my favorite is Jess Fink's; more because of the way he draws her face than the actual costume. She looks beautifully, classically Greek. I even appreciate the thought behind his inclusion of the Amazonian breast-removal, even if it's an aspect of the culture I can easily do without.

Korean Wonder Woman

This is the most awesome thing EVER.

Wonder Woman Merchandise

Nice belt.

"Diana can't vote for them..."

But according to Pott Manor, "she's probably an advocate of the Green Party." I buy that.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tom Swift and His Movie Deal

I've told you about the "Hey, Oscar Wilde! It's clobberin' time!!!" blog before, right? One of the reasons I love watching it is that the subjects of the art aren't the same old superhero and movie icons, so I'm often introduced to new characters or am reminded of old ones I haven't thought about in a while. Tom Swift is a great example of the latter. That's Michael Golden's take on Tom to the right there.

I only had one Tom Swift book when I was a kid: Tom Swift and His Jetmarine. I'd be hard-pressed to tell you what it was about except that I remember thinking Tom was pretty cool for having a one-man sub. Even as a kid though, the concept of an independently wealthy boy-inventor/adventurer was pretty over-the-top for me, so I didn't track down more of his books. But I always thought there was potential in Tom if some of his cheesier elements were either explained or toned down.

Seeing Golden's illustration got me thinking about how the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew have faired pretty well through the generations since they were introduced, but how you don't hear much from Tom anymore. Apparently, I just wasn't in the loop on it, because there's quite a bit of new Tom Swift material coming out. There's a new series of books that started last year and it's just now been announced that a film and video game are in the works, with possible TV and webisodes to follow. Knowing the difference between today's kids and the kids of the '50s, I'm looking forward to seeing how the new writers and producers are updating the concept. Especially since the first book in the new series, Into the Abyss, looks very Jetmarine-like from the cover.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Monster-Killing Monday!

Whoops! I didn't mean to take Friday off; it just sort of worked out that way. Spent the day crowd-watching at the Mall with my family and then celebrating my Dad's birthday (he was out of the country on the actual day) that night. We had a great weekend though. Hope you all did too.

This week's monster killer is Voltron as seen by Dave Perillo. Dave's got a wonderful blog full of his whimsical interpretations of popular characters. It's well worth checking out, especially for the series of slasher flick icons he did in October.

And here's some stuff about giant monsters:

The official Cloverfield trailer has been released. So has the poster.

I'm not a big fan of AMC because they interrupt their movies with commercials and I remember when they didn't. They used to be what Turner Classic Movies is now and it's a shame they've become more like TNT. But their blog has been especially good lately with posts about a new Godzilla DVD collection and old Godzilla toys.

The Daily Dollop has a great post about a very serious matter: The Intergovernmental Panel on Monster Attacks' summary of its upcoming report, "Current Status of Global Preparations for Giant Monster Attacks." Required reading for those concerned about such things, as we all should be.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

10 Fictional Characters I'm Thankful For This Year

10. Atomic Robo (Red 5 Comics). He's a brand new character and I'm just getting to know him, but he was built by Tesla and he fights giant ants, so I think we're gonna get along just fine.



9. Thirteen (House). I love that she's mysterious and that House doesn't quite know what to make of her. Hope she sticks around.



8. Black Canary (DC Comics). She's come a long way from just being Green Arrow's girlfriend. They got it backwards when they called her new book Green Arrow and Black Canary.



7. Wonder Woman (DC Comics). The perfect woman.



6. Ben Wade (3:10 to Yuma). If you haven't seen the movie yet, I don't want to spoil it by going into too much detail about why he's a great character. I love though that he's a villain who sketches. Too many bad guys express their creativity through music; usually the violin or pipe organ. Having Ben use pencil and paper was a genius touch.



5. Remy (Ratatouille). He reminded me what it means to be a true individual.



4. Sarah Walker (Chuck). You can keep The Bionic Woman. Hell, you can have Starbuck too for all I care. Sarah's the best butt-kicking woman on TV.



3. Mark Sloan (Grey's Anatomy). I couldn't care less about him when he first showed up on the show, but with Addison gone to her own show, I love how lonely and not-so-cocky McSteamy suddenly seemed. I've loved watching him try to find his place this season.



2. Miranda Bailey (Grey's Anatomy). Okay, forget what I said about Wonder Woman. Bailey's the real deal. Her struggle to balance career and family is remarkable because it's so honestly and realistically portrayed. I seriously almost lost it when she broke down and sobbed after finally being rewarded with the Chief Resident position.



1. Elizabeth Swan (Pirates of the Caribbean). As far as I'm concerned, the Pirates movies are all about her. She's a pirate, a butt-kicker, and Keira Knightley. Lucky, lucky Will.



Happy Thanksgiving! Which characters are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Warrior Women Wednesday!

Today's Warrior Woman is Big Barda -- or, more accurately, "Lil' Big Barda" -- from Darryl Young's blog, which is chock full of good stuff.

But speaking of Barda, I'm sorry that Big Barda & Scott Free Week at Scans Daily never really took off.

"I want to have the kind of run I had on Birds of Prey"

The Dallas Morning News has a small, fluffy interview with Gail Simone in which she says she hopes to remain on Wonder Woman for at least five years. She wants to "have the room and time to really tell a megastory, made up of satisfying smaller chunks." Sounds good to me.

Who it doesn't sound good to: people who don't really seem to care about Wonder Woman in the first place.

JLA movie on hold

From a Hollywood Reporter article on how the WGA strike is affecting movie production: "At Warner Bros., Justice League of America finds itself without a shooting script and has options expiring on potential actors who recently were screen tested. As a result, it might have to postpone production." Sucks for me, but I'm still with the writers.

"I would frigging love to be Wonder Woman!"

So, with no chance of seeing an actual, big screen Wonder Woman any time soon, let's go back to fantasizing about who we'd like to see. I'll second the Lorelai Gilmore nomination. Not because she's the first person I'd think of for the role, but because she rules in general.

^_^

I haven't been into DC Direct's anime-inspired statues so far, but I actually kinda like the Wonder Woman one. The face is goofy in it's cutesy grimaciness, but I really like the costume design.

Added to my Wish List

DC's Power Girl collection.

Feminist Icon vs. Sex Object: Where's the line?

Former (I think) DC editor Steve Bunche has an interesting review of the '70s grindhouse sexploitation flick 'Gator Bait. It's interesting because while Bunche isn't necessarily a feminist, he's clearly hip to feminist concerns when he writes stuff like, "Lemme tell ya, buddy, the makers of this film simply set out make a movie about a scantily clad hottie who kicks ass on the people who fucked with her and her family, but I strongly doubt that capital F feminism was intentionally involved in the creative process.

"Think about it: you have fine-ass Claudia Jennings, a woman for whom the wearing of clothing should have been a capital offense, traipsing about the fen in gear that shows off her priapism-inducing assets for all they’re worth, despite the fact that such gear is in no way conducive to the rigors of marshland hunting and trapping. Desiree is not so much a feminist role model as she is a fantasy wild woman/jungle girl updated and transplanted to a sweltering southern bayou, and as a lifelong fan of such characters I have no problem with that. But don’t hand me that feminist overanalysis horseshit; Desiree’s a forest spirit fantasy made flesh — hell, she even looks like an anthropomorphic fox — and to say otherwise is a tad disingenuous."

Which makes me wonder: is it possible for a character to be a feminist role model and an object of lust at the same time? Certainly there are scantily clad superheroines who have plenty of female fans, but who are also ogled by male fans. Does the fact that some fanboys drool over these characters diminish them as role models for the fangirls? Does it depend entirely on the number of gratuitous butt, boob, and crotch shots the artist indulges in? What decides if an image is gratuitous or not? I'm asking. Where's the line?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Scarecrows, Echo, and fanfic REVEALED!

If he only had a brain.

I'm too distracted by Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man right now to analyze why, but I've always been a big fan of scarecrows. It probably started with Dark Night of the Scarecrow, but I'm still hooked. I'm even tempted to see Jeepers Creepers 2, for crying out loud.

Anyway, Caleb over at Everyday is Like Wednesday totally wrote his blog just for me in the days leading up to Halloween with his Scarecrow Week.

"I am a little worried that people will be angry when they find out it's not Rowling."

Here's more skinny on that James Potter site that I mentioned last week. It's fanfiction. (Thanks to my pal Charles again for the link.)

"That’s not rain, or hail."

I never was able to get into Strangers in Paradise, but Terry Moore's become such a legendary figure because of it that I'm really looking forward to getting in on the ground floor of his next big project, Echo.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monster-Killing Monday!

Varan the UnbelievableCthlulhu has made himself at home in an abandoned building in Russia.

Apparently the name of JJ Abrams' top secret giant monster movie (codenamed Cloverfield for a while now), is really going to be named Cloverfield. I hope that's the name of some evil research facility that's responsible for the giant monster, because otherwise it reminds me more of The Story of Ferdinand.

Check out this clip from Varan the Unbelievable! That monster needs killin'.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Night Fights: Black Canary vs. the Amazons!

I'm late getting this started, but...

Hey, Amazon lady. What do you think of Black Canary's sidekick?



Canary! You just gonna let 'er talk about your girl like--



SUCKER PUNCH!

That's showin' her, Canary!



Admonition by Bahlactus!

Admonition by combat

Minor GABC #2 SPOILERS below:

I totally haven't changed my mind yet about Judd Winick (not after only two issues, I haven't), but I do have to admit that I'm loving Green Arrow and Black Canary so far.

I haven't figured out what the Amazons are up to yet, but its fun watching them try to sneak Green Arrow off Paradise Island before Black Canary (whom they've invited there to train their warriors) finds out. Of course, Ollie isn't any more of a damsel in distress than Dinah is, so he makes things difficult in his fun, Green Arrowy way. Just a really fun comic.

And I like the new Amazons. I didn't like the execution of Amazons Attack, but if the end result is some tough, deadly Amazons... well, at least something good came out of it.

Allison Cameron and the Harry Potter Whatsit

Jennifer Morrison as Doc CameronOkay, JJ, you've got my attention again.

Even though I'm too much of a nerd to completely ignore JJ Abrams' Star Trek movie, I lost a lot of interest in it once I realized that it would not, in fact, star Young William Shatner as James T. Kirk. Putting Dr. Cameron from House in it though -- regardless of whatever her role turns out to be -- has me excited to see it again.

Okay. Actually the Karl Urban news a while back did that already, but now I'm really excited.

Hm. Speaking of Urban and Dr. McCoy, Abrams has said that Jennifer Morrison won't be playing Yeomand Rand, but has Nurse Chapel been cast yet?

And if she is playing Nurse Chapel, is that a demotion?

James Potter and the Hall of Elders' Crossing?

Does anyone have any real information (as opposed to speculation) about what this is? It just screams, "Hoax," (or maybe, "Fan fiction," at best) but it's a really well-designed one if it is.

Update: "Hoax" it is. (Thanks to my buddy Charles for the info.)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"I know exactly who I am."

So, Gail Simone's first issue of Wonder Woman came out yesterday, sort of. "Sort of," because last week was her All New Atom #17 which started a two-part Wonder Woman story. Meaning that people who really wanted to know how Gail was going to write Wonder Woman got to see a week early.

I know there are folks who don't care for the secret agent aspect of Wonder Woman's new status quo, but like I said before, I dig it. Thanks to Amazons Attack it hasn't been able to be exploited very well, but it's a great way to get Diana involved in some honest adventure rather than making the book focus on themes like her mission in Man's World or her identity as an Amazonian ambassador.

Fortunately, DC editorial's given Simone the room to play in both Atom and Wonder Woman and she's able to just have some fun without having to tie everything into Countdown or whatever. In Atom, which I don't usually read, Wonder Woman shows up looking for Giganta, who is apparently a supporting character in the series and dating the Atom. Diana tries to recruit the Atom to help her and he's uncertain about what to do. Mixed and hurt feelings follow and there's some good fighting, including one of the best uses of the golden lasso ever.

Plus, Simone manages to poke fun at Jodi Picoult's Wonder Woman run in a couple of panels.



Speaking of Picoult's run, Tom Spurgeon reviews both it and Wonder Woman #14 and feels generally the same way I do about both. He gives Picoult the benefit of the doubt by complaining that DC owes her an apology for burdening her run with Amazons Attack, but I remember those first horrible issues of hers before the crossover business started. She got Wonder Woman completely wrong, hence Simone's joke above.

Spurgeon likes Wonder Woman #14 for what it is: a standard comic book, but he seems to be looking for something deeper in it than I am. "Unfortunately, those (positive) aspects only pop out in terms of a comparison to the more ragged work in the (Picoult) collection combined with the reduced expectations that still seem to go hand-in-hand with the common, humble funnybook. Taken on its own, this is really no better than a standard, forgettable comic book..."

True enough, but Simone's not going for literature here and it's not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for Wonder Woman fighting gorillas and some shadowy spy intrigue, and that's exactly what Simone delivers.

Well, I'm also hoping that Simone gets Wonder Woman and, yes indeed, she does. "I know exactly who I am," Diana says. Perfect.

Also, Simone's funny. After Wonder Woman defeats the talking apes, she invites them home to live with her for what I hope will be an extended subplot with lots more scenes like this:



It may not be high art, but it's a beautiful start to what I expect will be a legendary run for the series.

I also bought Fantastic Four #551, continuing Dwayne McDuffie's very cool run on the series. Like Simone, McDuffie proves that you can tell fun, exciting stories without bogging down in angst and baggage from the latest company crossover. In this issue, Black Panther and Sub-Mariner from the future accompany future Doctor Doom back in time to try to convince the FF not to initiate a plan to make the world a better place. The FF's response creates an unbelievable cliff-hanger, but there are also some nice character moments along the way. Especially for the Invisible Woman, who's the reason I started checking out Fantastic Four.

My favorite moment is when Reed looks like he's once again about to forget how evil Doom really is and Sue has to remind him. I love her response. It's a mother's response and it's one of the things that makes her such a cool and unique character.

At first, I didn't care for her defense to Ben and Johnny about Reed's 100 Ideas. You know, his list of things like "Start Civil War" and "Clone Thor." I felt like she was at best letting Reed off the hook too easily, and at worst defending something that she'd previously expressed herself to be completely against. But then, thinking it through some more, I realized that she'd already started to soften a while back when Reed actually took the time to explain himself to her. Her biggest gripe with him wasn't that he was taking a moral stand that she didn't understand or agree with, but that he was keeping secrets from her. Once they cleared that air, that opened the door for their honeymoon on Titan and some healing to take place.

I still don't like that she takes his side in the scene, but I don't know her well enough to claim its out of character. Actually, from what I know about her, it's completely in character. Sue's too good for Reed and her sticking with him in spite of that is either her biggest strength or her biggest flaw, depending on your point of view.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Warrior Women Wednesday!

Today's illustration is another Victor Santos one. Sort of defines the term "warrior woman" doesn't it?

Victims, not warriors

I'm still doing a lot of catching up on blog reading, so some of these links are old. Like this one by Scipio about another problem with Perez's take on Wonder Woman. I'd never thought about it this way before, but he's absolutely right. "Instead of using the traditional version of Amazons (the one used by both the Ancients and Marston) -- buttkicking women warriors who founded a society that didn't need men -- Perez chose to make them victims." I've never really cared much for the modern version of Wonder Woman's Amazonian sisterhood and now I realize why. Scipio goes into much more detail in the link, so it's worth clicking through.

Whedon didn't get Wonder Woman

Speaking of fan favorite creators who really weren't the best thing to happen to Wonder Woman, I agree with this Joss Whedon fan who's pretty glad Whedon didn't end up making the Wonder Woman movie. I don't agree with everything she says, especially her dismissal of Steve Trevor as a potential sidekick, but her assessment of Whedon's vision for Wonder Woman is right on. "(I)f Joss was gonna present her as, 'She doesn't know how to be human and needs to learn how,' then he had it all wrong."

I also love the quote from Lynda Carter: "Wonder Woman is not impressed with herself. She doesn't think her abilities are a big deal. She does what she's capable of, and expects others to do the same." Now Lynda Carter gets Wonder Woman.

What Superheroine Are You?

Even as I was taking this quiz, I knew from my answers that I was going to be the White Queen. I'm not too sure about the telepathy, diamond-skin, and wealthy parts, but I am undeniably attractive and about as close to a Queen as straight guys are allowed to get.

What female superhero are you???

Emma Frost

You sometimes vary between devious and good. You have the power of telepathy and turning into a diamond substance. Attractive, wealthy, and sometimes a teacher!

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests.

Not Women in Refrigerators

Looking at the Justice League of Amazons last week got me curious about Big Barda and the others, so I went out and got the first couple of issues of Death of the New Gods. I knew Barda was killed in the first issue and that some folks were upset about it, but now that I've read the issues and the complaints, I don't know what the fuss is about. This is not a Women in Refrigerators moment.

First of all, it's not a story about Mister Miracle or how Barda's death affects him. It's a story about all the New Gods, male and female. Barda's death, as unsatisfying as it was to have it happen offscreen, is the exact same death that the other New Gods, males included, have been experiencing in Countdown and the other books setting up this storyline.

Secondly, Death of the New Gods is primarily a mystery story. The main plot is that the surviving New Gods are terrified at what's going on and have to figure out who's responsible. Not knowing the ending, I'm not sure, but I can easily imagine that showing Barda go down bravely in battle might give away aspects of the mystery that we're not meant to have yet. And that's putting aside the facts that none of the other victims had a chance to defend themselves and that that's likely an important piece of the puzzle. As much I like the idea of Big Barda being the exception to the rule, I don't know enough about where the story's going to demand it or be upset that it didn't go down that way.

More Justice League of Amazons

My list-making last week got me curious about more than just Barda, so when I was at the store I also picked up the last few issues of Justice Society of America (everything since "The Lightning Saga") and all the issues of Birds of Prey since Black Canary left the series (which is when I stopped reading it before). I want to catch up with Huntress and learn more about Power Girl and Barda.

Not to leave my Marvel league of Amazons out, I also grabbed the latest issue of Ms. Marvel and the first issue of Peter David's She-Hulk run. I think that's all I need to catch up on my Marvel list since most of those are ladies I'm already reading about.

Anyway, I could (and probably should) start another whole blog about this, but the plan is to sort of follow these characters for a while and comment on what becomes of them. Maybe dig into their past adventures a bit too, as well as seeing how they're represented in other media. I don't know; it sounds interesting to me now. I'll do it for a while and probably either spin it off into its own blog or get bored with it and give it up.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Comics and Writing Odds and Ends

Aqua LeungBlogarama has a couple of previews of what promises to be a very cool comic called Aqua Leung. I'll be looking forward to that one.

Comic Book Resources has a good article on how the WGA strike will likely affect comics. Regardless of what some folks are saying, more Allan Heinberg or Serenity comics are a good thing.

Cory Doctorow has the right idea, I think, about copyright in the 21st century. Everything's changing and writers (and other artists) need to stop thinking like the Internet doesn't exist. He gives three reasons for this: one economic, one artistic, and (the most compelling one to me) one ethical.

"(T)he ethical reason is that the alternative is that we chide, criminalize, sue, damn our readers for doing what readers have always done, which is sharing books they love—only now they're doing it electronically. You know, there's no solution that arises from telling people to stop using computers in the way that computers were intended to be used. They're copying machines. So telling the audience for art, telling 70 million American file-sharers that they're all crooks, and none of them have the right to due process, none of them have the right to privacy, we need to wire-tap all of them, we need to shut down their network connections without notice in order to preserve the anti-copying business model: that's a deeply unethical position. It puts us in a world in which we are criminalizing average people for participating in their culture."

Happy Long John Silver Day!

Today's Robert Louis Stevenson's 157th birthday, which also makes it Jekyll and Hyde Day.

And it's also my dad's birthday, but he's considerably younger.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Judging Comic Books by Their Covers: Image -- January '08

So, which covers from Image's January crop make me want to open the books?

Cemetery Blues #1: The cartoony art is appealing, but what really grabs my interest are the misshapen little guy in front, the axe that the smoker's wielding, and the severe, ghostly gentleman in the back. I want to see what's going on with these characters.



Elephantmen #13: It's a text-heavy cover, but the noir, anthropomorphic hippo would make me check this out, even if I wasn't already a fan of the series.



The Infinite Horizon #2: These heavily designed covers don't usually grab me, but I love how the design here evokes tentacles coming up to grab the boat while the guy on deck calmly stands there, not sensing the danger. I want to see inside the book now to see if that's what it's about.



Jack Staff Special #1: Dark Horse had a couple of these last week, but here's another example of when a pin-up actually makes for an intriguing cover. Especially when it's of characters this diverse and interesting-looking. Jack Staff has a compelling look to him anyway, but the robot and the fantasy-ish guy with the sword have me really curious.



Mice Templar #3: Oeming's cover absolutely screams, "Pick me up! Open me!" First of all, the colors are stunningly beautiful, but what's that mysterious-looking mouse doing all hunched over on the rock by the pond? He looks like he's waiting for something, but what is it? And what's that flaming skull hanging from his tail?



Shark-Man #1: How has no one thought of making a superhero named Shark-Man before? This is one of those 30 Days of Night ideas where it's so obvious that you feel simultaneously overjoyed that someone came up with it and envious that it wasn't you. And that costume is perfect. I want to know more about this guy. Also, I want to explore the city in the background.



Captain Stoneheart and the Truth Fairy: Not just an anthropomorphic hippo, but a pirate anthropomorphic hero. Carrying a fairy.



Strange Girl, Volume 4: Golden Lights: Even if I didn't know what this series was about, I'd be intrigued by this cover. A demon and a young girl look on from above in the moments just before what looks to be a battle between an eclectic group of wanderers and some angels. There's the anticipation of action, but instead of just adventure, there's some emotional weight to it that I love. It's sad and solemn. Very nice.



The Astounding Wolf-Man, Volume 1: Yeah, pretty much just putting "Wolf-Man" on your cover is going to get me to check out your book. Interestingly, "Werewolf" wouldn't have had the same reaction.



Next week: DC's January covers, probably. Maybe their February ones too, since those'll probably also be out by then.

Michael May's Adventurestore

I've been in love with Amazon for a while now, so I figured I'd consummate the relationship by making them a part of the blog. I've got like ten different Wish Lists, but you can see one of them (the Horror one, since that's where my head is lately, thank you, Halloween) on the sidebar now.

There's also a link for something I just made that I'm calling the Adventurestore where you can buy the kind of stuff I talk about. Right now I've just got a few giant monster and giant robot graphic novels, but I'll be playing with it and adding to it constantly. I know I'll be adding categories for Jesse James vs. Machine Gun Kelly and Warrior Women. Too much fun.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Clank. Thump. Arr!

Kind of slow going in the giant monster/robot arena this week. But there were a couple of folks keeping things moving.

Google's got some new themes up for iGoogle pages. Guess which one I chose?



Giant Monsters Attack! created a nifty Kirby Giant Monster Generator.

And Harvey James combines two great concepts by drawing Giant Robot Pirates!

Friday, November 09, 2007

November Theatrical Releases

I don't know if it's me or the movies, but I'm really underwhelmed by the releases this month. Stuff that I'm supposed to be excited about just isn't doing it for me. I've decided that I'm not as in love with gangster films as the rest of the country, so American Gangster looks tedious. Bee Movie and Fred Claus look dumb. I can't get past the creepy motion-capture of Beowulf. And Martian Child, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium and Hitman look respectively like they're trying too hard to be touching, whimsical, and stylish.

But I did find some stuff to be interested in:

Last Week

Darfur Now: (LA/NY only) I can't honestly say that I'm looking forward to seeing this, and I don't even know that I will see it. I don't know that I want or need the images in my head. Hotel Rwanda was bad enough and there I could comfort myself with the knowledge that it was a re-enactment, whereas this...

But it's important. I don't need to see the documentary to know that and I've been doing what I can to help, but I'm glad there's a movie about the situation and hope that people who don't know what's going on will see it.

Today

I'll Believe You: (limited) Funny premise (late-night radio talk show host receives phone call from extraterrestrial and tries to find out who placed the call). Funny cast (Patrick Warburton, Fred Willard, Chris Elliot, Ed Helms from The Office). Funny trailer.

November 21

Enchanted: I've got pretty low expectations for this, but I'm curious enough to give it a watch.

August Rush: I'm so torn. On the one hand, it's Keri Russell and Freddie Highmore. On the other hand, it's Robin Williams trying to play Bono (which, to me, is sort of like Rob Schneider trying to play Gandhi in a serious role). I may wait for DVD on this one so if Williams kills it for me I can just eject the disc instead of having to walk out of the theater.

This Christmas: I'm a sucker for Christmas family dramas. I liked Home for the Holidays and The Family Stone too. What're ya gonna do?

November 28

The Savages: The plot about adult siblings trying to arrange long-term care for their mentally deteriorating father didn't do anything for me. Then I realized that one of the siblings is Philip Seymour Hoffman. And then I saw the trailer. Looks like good stuff.

November 30

Awake: This is what I'm in the mood for. A suspense thriller with Lena Olin, Hayden Christensen (I don't have the problems with his acting that most Star Wars fans claim to), Jessica Alba, and Terrence Howard in a role where he may not have to cry.

Movie and TV Stuff

Simone Simon in Cat PeopleOkay, I've got a lot of catching up to do today, so some of this is old.

Writers' Strike

I don't have a lot to say about the strike except that I support the writers, naturally. I'm getting most of my info about it from Mark Evanier, and though I'm concerned about some of my favorite shows -- especially this final season of Scrubs -- I'm totally into what the WGA is trying to achieve.

Superheroes

A while back I wondered if The Rock was going to play Captain Marvel or Black Adam in the upcoming Shazam! movie. It's Black Adam.

Spies

I agree with Jeff Parker. It's not fair that Britain gets James Bond stamps and we get Yoda.

Paramount is making a movie based on Matz and Luc Jacamon’s The Killer, which is unbelievably exciting to me.

Horror

Sweeny Todd trailer.

An Underworld prequel is coming together, but it doesn't have Kate Beckinsale in it, so do I care? Surprisingly, yes. Beckinsale's my main attraction to the other two movies, but Rhona Mitra has the right look to play a similar character. Does she have the acting ability though? Someone who watched/watches The Practice, Boston Legal, or Nip/Tuck will have to tell me.

Tony and Ridley Scott are adapting Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" into a modern-day, psychological thriller.

The second X-Files movie has a release date, assuming it's not affected by the strike: July 25 of next year.

I hate these kinds of articles. In talking about his role in the upcoming Wolf Man remake, Anthony Hopkins dismisses the original as "pretty corny." Everyone's entitled to an opinion, but there's a trend of actors trying to validate their current work by disrespecting what it's based on, whether that's the original version or the genre it's associated with or whatever. Josh Hartnett made some statements early on in the 30 Days of Night publicity campaign trying to downplay the horror aspects of the movie. Maybe I'm out of touch or just like corn or something, but of all the Universal monster movies, I think The Wolf Man holds up particularly well. The themes are strong, the performances are strong, and that's the best damn werewolf makeup ever.

I watched the original Cat People not too long ago and absolutely loved it. I'm buying it, in fact. I considered writing a review of it, but Will Pfeifer has done it for me. (Incidentally, he wrote a lot of horror movie reviews last month, which gives me some serious reading to do. Adding his blog to my reading list too.)

Science Fiction

Some stuff about Pixar's John Carter of Mars movie, including that it's the first of a planned trilogy.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

What's All This Then?: Michael Myers and Halloween, Part Three

Part One
Part Two

If you haven't seen these movies, SPOILERS BELOW.

Halloween: H20

I can see what all the fuss was about. It was about the time of H20 that I started thinking that maybe I should check out the Halloween franchise. Like Michael Myers, just when you thought it was dead, back it comes. And this time with Jamie Lee Curtis returning as Laurie Strode.

It was cool to learn in the Making Of featurette that the movie was actually her idea. It's too bad that John Carpenter and Debra Hill couldn't also be involved, but then, I don't know if I would've enjoyed it as much if they had been.

Maybe it's because I've gotten used to Jamie Lee Curtis playing a certain kind of character, but I was surprised to see Laurie so vulnerable and frightened through most of the movie. Curtis has a powerful presence and even in movies where she's supposed to play someone who's not totally in control of her situation, she gives strength to those characters that lets you know she's going to be okay in the end. In H20, she's a mess right away.

Her relationship with her teenaged son (played by Josh Hartnett in his first movie role) is completely messed up because she's so afraid that Michael will find them that she over-protects him. She can't function in a relationship with her boyfriend because she has this deep secret she can't share with him. The only thing that seems to be going right in her life is her job as dean of a private school where her over-compensating, domineering personality is an asset. (It was great to see Janet Leigh in a supporting role as Laurie's assistant -- and to see her get into her car from Psycho in one scene.) I honestly doubted that Laurie would ever pull it together once Michael found her and showed up at the school.

She does pull it together though, and I love the scene where she sends her son and his girlfriend away from the school, then -- armed with an axe -- locks herself inside the school grounds with Michael. And the ending...

In all the previous movies, I could always see how Michael might have escaped at the end, but not this one. As I watched it -- knowing that I still had Halloween: Resurrection to watch next -- I couldn't for the life of me figure out how Michael was going to come back for a sequel. It would've been the perfect ending to the series. Unfortunately, it wasn't.

My only complaint is that H20 tries to ignore everything after Halloween 2, which is no good for a guy who's just invested six or so hours watching those movies and liking most of them. I don't really understood why they did it either. I mean, I sort of do. They explain that Michael killed his sister on her 18th Halloween (she was 17 years old at the time, but when you do the math it was her 18th Halloween), tried to kill Laurie on her 18th Halloween, and now wants to kill Laurie's son on his 18th Halloween. It's a cool enough explanation for Michael's motives except for two things.

One is that it doesn't explain Michael's coming after Laurie's ten-year-old daughter in Halloween 4. You can see then why they'd want to pretend that never happened. But it also doesn't really explain anything at all. What's the significance of killing 17-year-olds on Halloween night? We're never told. It's just something that ties some of Michael's victims together and tries to explain why he waits until now before coming after Laurie's son. It doesn't explain though why he's never followed up on Laurie in the intervening years.

So, it's a shaky half-explanation and it doesn't add as much to the mythos as it tries to take away by getting rid of 4, 5, and 6. Putting that aside, it's a great movie. If they hadn't tried to do that, it would've been perfect.

LL Cool J as a school security guard was also a nice addition and added a sense of humor that the other movies in the series lacked.

Four out of five dead teens in dumbwaiters.

Halloween: Resurrection

Even though H20 should've been the last in the series, I gotta hand it to Resurrection for explaining how Michael could still be around in a completely plausible way. The writers deserve a standing slow-clap for that one.

The rest of the movie is okay, but it's really two movies in one. The first part wraps up H20, including the character of Laurie Strode. After seeing her emerge victorious from H20 though, it was disappointing to see her discarded so quickly here. She was still cool and her death was very nicely played, but it sucks that she fought through so much in three movies only to go like that. Still... he's Michael Myers and he's not to be screwed with. I'll miss you, Laurie.

Once all that's wrapped up, we go to a reality show where a bunch of college students (including Katee Freakin' Sackhoff!) are competing by spending the night in the old Myers house. Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks are the show's producers and add some humor and sexiness to the mix (though notice that it takes two of them to do what LL Cool J did all by his lonesome in H20).

The reality show is an interesting angle because it very much brings the franchise into the 21st century. Cell phones and the Internet are other, crucial elements to the plot. Unfortunately, that's all that's really interesting in this part of the movie. The characters are all stereotypes, though some (especially Sean Patrick Thomas') are nicely acted. And boiled down, this part of the movie is just Michael stalking and killing a bunch of teens in a spooky house. Nothing we haven't seen before.

Two out of five kisses on Michael's mask.

Halloween (2007)

I appreciate what Rob Zombie tried to do here. As I said in Part One of these reviews, we don't get a lot in the way of motive for Michael in the original Halloween. Zombie corrects that here and succeeds in turning Michael into a sympathetic character. I loved Daeg Faerch as young Michael. It was heart-breaking watching him turn from this sweet, but troubled kid into a withdrawn, violent monster.

But as I also said in Part One, our not knowing Michael's motives makes him unpredictable and that much more frightening. That's another flaw with H20's "18th Halloween" explanation. If Michael only goes after relatives on their 18th Halloweens, that lets the rest of us off the hook. If we can understand -- even just a little bit -- why Michael does what he does and what brought him to this place, it lessens our fear of him.

Now, Zombie does a lot to replace any fear that knowing Michael's motivations took away. Tyler Mane, who plays the adult Michael, is freaking huge. His size, plus the fact that you never see his face, makes him menacing as hell. He doesn't need to stand around and watch his victims for a while to increase tension. He increases tension just by being in the room.

That said though, I really missed the tension-building scenes from the original Halloween. Zombie spends so much time on Michael's origin story that he has to hurry through the Halloween-night massacre. It's a violent, gruesome mess and in keeping with what today's horror audiences are likely looking for, but I don't find screen violence and gore nearly as scary as the idea that someone may be in my house, just watching me.

So, while I appreciate Zombie's attempt, I don't think that it improves on the original much. Except that the acting is infinitely better. Brad Dourif alone makes any movie better.

Three out of five beatings with a big tree branch.

Happy Dracula Day!

Today is Bram Stoker's 160th birthday. H'bleh!

Your Return of Jezebel James update

As I mentioned here, The Return of Jezebel James has only a teensy connection to Jesse James and even less connection to anything else I usually talk about here, but it's the Gilmore Girls connection through Amy Sherman-Palladino that interests me. Plus I kinda dig Parker Posey.

So, this post is pretty off-topic, but I'm curious about the show, so whatever. Here's your Return of Jezebel James update: Fox bought it as a mid-season replacement, which means that they only ordered seven episodes. The good news is that means they've pretty much got their season done in spite of the writers' strike (more on the strike tomorrow probably). Starting March 7, Fox has scheduled them for Friday nights to replace Bones, which is having to end early.

Okay. Back on-topic now.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Justice League of Amazons Revisited

I've been thinking a lot lately about the Justice League of Amazons comic from that Justice Leagues event DC ran several years ago. The plot for the event was lame, but I liked the concept that the individual members of the JLA each formed their own version of the team reflecting their personalities and ideologies. So Superman and the Martian Manhunter formed the Justice League of Aliens, Batman formed the Justice League of Arkham, Wonder Woman formed the Justice League of Amazons, etc. It was a cool idea and I especially loved the idea of a team of DC's female powerhouses.

The JLAmazons was made up of Wonder Woman, Power Girl, Big Barda, Zatanna, Huntress, the Supergirl of the time, and Black Orchid. It's a good line-up, but I think it would need some tweaking if DC were to revisit the concept today.

Wonder Woman's a natural. She's the most iconic superheroine in existence, plus she's a badass and a bona fide Amazon.

Zatanna's another easy choice. I think teams are much more interesting with magic-users on them and Zatanna's magic is especially powerful.

I also think that Huntress is criminally underused as a female counterpart for Batman. I hated it when they took the new Batgirl identity from her and gave it to Cassandra Cain. Batwoman is interesting, but she doesn't have the history that Huntress does, so Huntress best fills the role on this team that Batman fills in the JLAmerica.

I don't know much about Power Girl and Big Barda, but I like that they're beautiful bruisers. It's an archetype I can't get enough of. Supergirl's cool too, especially since she doesn't look like trouble, but she is. But since she and Power Girl are both related to Superman, I think it would be a lot more interesting to replace Supergirl (who's over-exposed in the DCU anyway) with Mary Marvel, assuming Mary emerges from Countdown a good guy.

I don't know much about Black Orchid either. I know that her JLAmazons design is bad though and that she's completely out of place with the rest of the team. Maybe she'd be cooler if she was the Vertigo version. I don't really care though; I'd much rather just swap her out for Black Canary, who's far more interesting and deserving to be in this lineup.

I'd also like to up the number of members to eight in order to fit in Starfire. She'd make a nice trio with Barda and Power Girl.



Thinking about this made we wonder what a Marvel version would be like, too. What if there were an all-female team of Avengers? Sticking to an eight-woman team, I'm thinking:

Ms. Marvel
Invisible Woman
She-Hulk
Rogue
Black Widow
Talisman (from Omega Flight)
Molly Hayes (Bruiser from Runaways)
and...

Gah. I had an eighth earlier and now I've lost her. I'll remember later and update. Update: Oh, yeah. It's Namora.

But what do you think? Who should be on DC and Marvel's female powerhouse teams? I didn't go into detail on how I picked the Marvel team, but my criteria were sort of all over the place, so use whatever selection method you like.

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