Monday, August 31, 2009

Some Choice DC/Blackest Night Previews

First up, Blackest Night: Superman, which, so far, has been the most horror-like issue of the event. The dark coloring, the pace, the quiet, the unnoticed and increasingly violent murders in the town of Smallville, the helplessness of Superman and's all rather chilling. Apparently in the next issue Psycho Pirate shows up, though I'm not sure why. Kal-L and Lois from Earth 2 seem like plenty of trouble to me, especially if Pa Kent is gonna be resurrected.

They just better not kill Krypto (or Ma, for that matter.)

Continuing the Superboy trajectory, here's some art from Adventure Comics #2. Cannot wait to see Connor and Cassie reunite. I think this title just may be the best thing in either comic universe out there right now. It's Johns in full nostalgic and original glory, with a character he crafted and understands, and an independent purpose and goal for the title. And this Francis Manapul guy is frakkin fantastic. (He even makes Cassie's red-shirt costume thing look focusing on the sweet ass hair.) God I love Superboy, so glad he's back, and even more excited for his reunion with Tim Drake than with Cassie. But I'll wait.

Another reason to rejoice at Superboy's return, is his return to the Teen Titans, which will hopefully, somehow, make that title get back to when it was great (mostly under Johns). Lately, it's been horrible...mostly when McKeever took over, and then killed and crippled the genius twins by a crazy dog from ancient Greece. It just got worse from there. The new team Wonder Girl has assembled is boring and lame and whiny, and they just killed the one member who I had grown fond of (Kid Devil.) Still, with Superboy AND Kid Flash back in action, it could really return to its former glory. And this newest preview cover shows at least an interesting storyline, with Ravager and her evil sociopathic manipulative father reunite to fend off some Black Lanterns.

Lastly, a couple pages from Blackest Night: Batman, which was better than I expected. I'm most interested to see Tim's journey, and how it plays it for him to face his dead parents. (The fact that they're intelligent when reanimated is a big plus, and it is worth paying attention to how Jack and Janet Drake interact; they were having marital troubles they overcame right when Janet was killed, and Jack lived for years without her, even going so far as to remarry.) The posse of reanimated Bat-villains is less interesting. A couple of them I don't even seem to know, though I guess that's a good sign, meaning Bat-writers are less eager to kill their characters (like Titans writers) than reuse them. Ventriloquist and his Scarface Black Lantern construct is cool though, and Blockbuster is ripe with drama (since Dick Grayson is almost directly responsible for him being dead.) Anyway, I'm definitely checking it out--Deadman is pretty cool, and even Damian (God help me) is growing on me.

Us Open Begins Today!

And I'm making the official Captain Elias prediction for 2009 champion right here:

Andy Roddick

Since Wimbledon he hasn't had the greatest/most active summer, but by gods, what a Wimbledon it was. Taking Federer to (+)5 sets, and doing it in such form. I don't know if it was marriage or hunger or the right coach, but the guy has matured. He plays like a pro these days, a smart, fit, talented one.

I'm guessing his biggest competition will be Fed and Murray (Nadal ain't 100% yet), in which case he'll make Murray look like the young douche he is, and he'll be very eager for a Fed rematch.

Still, the men's draw is so deep that you can't really count anyone out. Which makes it so fun to watch.

In related news, Roddick is a daily twitter-er (which I follow), and he is in the news for his response to the new US Open regulations about Twitter. They seem pretty general, mostly about 'on-court' uses or insider information. But Roddick appropriately labeled the attempt at editing them as 'lame' and that the person who used twitter for revealing secret/preemptive information would be a pretty big 'moron.'

We love you Andy. Kick some ass. Oh, and Happy Birthday.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

We Crave Your Hearts and Your Demise

Blackest Night started pretty strong, but after just a couple months has seemed to slow down considerably. Not much happened in the 2nd issue of the main title, and all the miniseries' have just had their first issue...meaning it was mostly a lot of resurrections, bloody murders, and "what are those black rings?" questions.

The latest installment to come out was Blackest Night: Titans, in which we verify that the Black Lanterns have a major grudge with any superhero that bears the name Hawk. First Hawkman and Hawkgirl met a gruesome fate at a moment of true love, now Hawk of Hawk and Dove is in the process of getting her heart ripped out, by none other than her predecessor Hank Hall. This incarnation of Hawk, Holly Granger (whose sister Dawn is Dove,) was either created or just mostly written by Geoff Johns, so I suppose he has the liberty to kill her as he'd like. (Not that he's writing about the Titans anymore.) And Dove's fight with Hank Hall was pretty sweet, until the end. Still, there's something harsh about a sister helplessly watching her sister get murdered, and it seems to recall the fate of Don Hall in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

In the solicitations of future Blackest Night covers, it was shown that the main lineup of heroes who can fight back against the (Un)Dead Lanterns are Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, Tora Olafsdotter (Ice), Oliver Queen, Diana Prince, Clark Kent, Connor Kent and Bart Allen. I understand that these are the characters who have died and come back (and if you believe Raven from Johns' run on Teen Titans, it all started when Superman came back. He opened the 'Door between Life and Death.')

But others have died and returned. Where's Jason Todd in all this? Donna Troy? Donna's about to face her dead baby son, which would be the first resurrected infant we've seen so far, so maybe that's a specific plan to get her out of the way, in the same way Hawkman and Hawkgirl (notorious reincarnates) were dealt with. Didn't Captain Marvel die of cancer then turn up again? Even Cassandra Cain and Metamorpho have technically died a few times, but they were more revived than resurrected (God love CPR.)

It seems to me like Donna Troy's the big one. She's kinda the Jean Grey of the DC Universe, she's been gone and back so many times. Not to mention she's a heavy-hitter, a big wig in the superhero community, a Titan and universe-saver, Wonder Woman's sister (or something), and with magical powers of the Gods. Seems like a big threat to Nekron and Black Hand and the other belligerent corpses. Here's hoping she doesn't bite the big one yet again. (No one's got a costume as cool as hers. Wonder Girl could take a BIG hint there.)

Questions? Comments? Predictions? Who is going to lead the resistance? Johns seems to favor Green Lantern and Flash so far, but will that last the whole series? Will Jason Todd make an appearance (maybe in Blackest Night: Batman)? Is Pa Kent gonna get a black ring? Will Geoff Johns ever wake up gay and call me? Answers are needed people, and they're cheaper than $3.99 a pop.

Friday, August 28, 2009

They Killed Eddie Bloombergl! Those Unoriginal Bastards

In the latest issue of Teen Titans, the last bad episode in a spectacularly bad arc, yet another Teen Titan died.

No superhero team, in either universe, has had so many deaths, some of which have been incredibly stupid (Terra buried in rubble, Aquagirl drowned), They've also had the most roster changes I've ever experienced. The revived Titans (courtesy of Geoff Johns, naturally) was successful because of the characters that made up the core; Robin, Superboy and Wonder Girl (and Kid Flash.) Robin moved on to more personal matters, Superboy bit the big one (but is back), Kid Flash was beaten to death (but is back) and WG was left to mind the store.

She didn't do so hot. Mostly she pouted, argued with Ravager (her one good teammate) till she drove her away, assembled some B-list candy-ass teen heroes to fill the ranks, and donned a new and pretty retarded costume. Now, in the last issue before Connor and Bart come back to the fold, (why couldn't they have done it an issue earlier and saved the day?) she lets one of her closest friends and allies die during a lame prison outbreak.

To be honest, at first I wasn't really into Eddie Bloomberg, Kid Devil (then Red Devil) at all. He seemed like an overly quippy useless addition to the team. But he completely grew on me. His backstories were rather cool, his earnestness never waned despite being rebuffed by people he thought friends and heroes (Blue Devil, Zatara, Ravager), and his powers and skill grew as well. In the end he had lost his powers, but he stuck around the Titans tower, helping with the fight.

His death is rather insulting. As opposed to thinking up something remotely original, they had a villain whose power was an uncontrollable nuclear reaction, about to uncontrollably detonate and destroy the city. So Eddie pops him in the jet and flies into space with him, not ejecting because he doesn't want to risk the jet turning around (the Titans jet doesn't have autopilot suddenly?) and they blow up together.

The other Titans are hardly phased by it. They go through the motions of grief, have a funeral, contemplate quitting, but ultimately use it as a lesson for heroism and teamwork, and they cheer each other up. Pointless, since Superboy and Kid Flash are back now, and the team will re-form around them now. Static hasn't lived up to the hype, Aquagirl is redundant with Cassie around, Blue Beetle is in my opinion tepid, Miss Martian underused, and Bombshell's rebellious belligerence is boring and flat.

I've enjoyed Bryan Q. Miller before--Batgirl, even old Teen Titans issues--but this latest run has been embarrassingly bad. He should have lunch with Matt Fraction and discuss how easy it is to destroy a team hero book. For his part, I believe Fraction has some evil twin, because it seems impossible that the guy writing Iron Man these days is responsible for X-Men/Dark Avengers Utopia, which has been increasingly horrible, exponentially lame, massively stupid in plot developments and characterization, and even pretty bad when it comes to the artwork.

These titles have a built in audience, one that it's not so hard to displease. How about you find some writers who don't piss all over the people who came before them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Penguin Classic Graphic Covers

Apparently Penguin is publishing a Classic series with famous graphic novel and comic artists doing the covers. Check the gallery out on flickr, its pretty damn cool. But here's an example for you (and coincidentally, one of my favorite books ever.)

And we've also got Chris Ware doing Candide.

Hat Tip Jason Thibault

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Blackest Night: Titans Preview

The Blackest Night: Titans miniseries begins soon, and it should be pretty good. Mostly cause the Titans have one of the highest amounts of dead former members. It looks like the series will combine the currently separate titles/teams Teen Titans and Titans, so that the supporting cast will be lengthy (both in terms of heroes and Black Lanterns.)

The central Black Lantern figure, based on the cover, seems to be Terra, that manipulative, oversexualized (she was sleeping with Deathstroke) attempted murderer who Beast Boy never got over. Aside from that it seems Hawk and Dove will be attacked by old Hawk, Donna Troy will have to deal with her long-dead husband and son, and Superboy and Kid Flash will be pursued heavily by the Black Lantern's for their unique death + resurrection personal history.

That's a lot of strong material. Check out the full preview at IGN.

Kids in the Hall Return(s)

The Kids in the Hall are back. Instead of doing a sketch comedy show, they're reuniting in the form of an eight part 'comic murder mystery' titled Death Comes to Town.

Check out the full article on Twitch.

I'm pretty excited. Have a feeling they got the idea from that Reno911 murder mystery episode, which one of the Kids in the Hall was in. Haven't really seen Mark McKinnon much since Slings & Arrows, but I bet he's still a fantastic writer. On occasion, Canadian television can be fantastic.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Gilmore Girls

Had a flash of nostalgia when I found reruns of GG on TV yesterday. Watched the episode where Lorelai graduates from business school (and Rory goes to NYC to see Jess, who I always had a crush on, till he joined Heroes) and there was a guest star on the show: none other than Seth MacFarlane! Makes me wonder if he made any GG jokes on Family Guy.

The revisitation of the show also made me remember of one of the best scenes they made, around the end of the show; tightly written as usual, but fast-paced, interestingly shot, and emotional. The good stuff starts at around 5:00 if you wanna skip, but goes fast.

Ingolorious Basterds

Debbie Schlussel calls it the Movie of the Year. That's saying something, coming from her. Haven't seen it yet, but have every intention of doing so.

In the meantime, check out Quentin Tarantino's 20 favorite films that have been made since he became a director. Decent list, but I couldn't stop watching the Death Proof clips at the I want to watch it again. (Death Proof, not the 20 favorites.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dollhouse's Second Season

The fumbling, flat, and inexplicably critically acclaimed Joss Whedon show, Dollhouse, is set to return this fall. As previously reported, the new season is loaded with guest stars, including Whedon alumnus Alexis Denisof (and possibly Summer Glau) and Battlestar Captain Jamie Bamber.

The newest guest star announced is Oscar winner Keith Carradine, who is currently reprising his role as FBI Serial Killer Hunter, and Deb's ex-boyfriend, on Dexter. The guy is stellar, but acting chops don't mean much if the script still sucks.

Check out a new promo shot of Dollhouse. And pray that they are truly going for something original. The first few episodes, which everyone glosses over since they were admitted to be weak by the creators and actors, were truly horrible, and the rest, while more deftly made, were still unendearing and tepid. If they continue on the formulaic route, they will invariably suffer the same fate as the show whose renewal slot they were given, The Sarah Connor Chronicles. And, yeah, Eliza Dushku is nice to look at, but I hope in between Uganda trips and deluxe sushi meals with Rick Fox (barf) she took some acting lessons.

So are you tuning in out of true affection, or Whedon loyalty? That is to say, are you a witless blind zombie or just much much smarter than me?

In slightly related news, Felicia Day's web-series The Guild is returning for a third season. I'm not the biggest fan of the series, though I've liked Felicia since she was Vi in Buffy Season 7, nor the biggest fan of techno-y pop, but this promo music video is well-made, funny, and her voice is fantastic:

Superheroes of Sharia

A Muslim superhero group, published for years as a cartoon strip, is going international in the form of Saturday morning animation. (Watch out for IEDs, Power Rangers.) The group of heroes, who adhere to Sharia Law (that is, sodomy equals execution, adultery equals execution, dissent equals execution, and men can divorce their subhuman wives via text-message....and then execute them) are called The 99, because Allah apparently has/had 99 attributes, so each hero is gifted with a corresponding power.

My favorite description of one of the heroes is Dar The Afflicter, an American who became a paraplegic after a drunk driving accident, and now has the ability to affect nerve endings with his mind and inflict indescribable pain. 'Cause that's what real heroes do! Torture.

The others are half-normal, half-not. You've got your powerhouses, and fliers, and talented engineers. But then you've got a girl whose mind is a GPS and can track enemies, a super-hearer who can listen in on your phone conversations, and one who can "see the light of truth in others and allow them or force them to see it in themselves." Not freaky at all.

The creator, Dr. Naif al-Mutawi, was inspired by visiting with Muslim victims of torture under Saddam Hussein recovering in a New York hospital. He was turned off by the current children trends of sticker books with phrases like 'Let me die a martyr' or that TV bunny they have that encourages kids to kill Jews and go to paradise. Sounds noble enough, but passing Saudi censors due to financial support makes me slightly doubtful.

Dr. al-Mutawa decries the international appeal of the group by saying: “It is based on attributes such as generosity and mercy. These are not things that Islam has a monopoly over.” No, nor even the slightest historical example of.

The show is coming to British television soon, produced by Endemol, a Dutch company that produced and promoted Big Brother, with the mission 'to instill old-fashioned Islamic values in Christian, Jewish, and atheist children.' Just goes to show that when someone says they're working to counter some kind of agitprop effects (in this case jihadist) it just means they're doing their own agitprop campaign (in this case actually jihadist).

As I recall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, X-Men, and Science Court were never attempting to instill anything in me, except the desire to sit through the commercials. The attempt to impact and form a child's mind is a heinous, deplorable, creepy-ass endeavour, and should be forcefully opposed. Unfortunately, it most likely won't be.

Talks with DC and Marvel are apparently underway to feature The 99 in crossovers, echoing the new Obama illustration of civilizations as allies (he's so original.) I can imagine exactly what Batman would have to say to them, but it would never happen. I'm most interested in how Pigman would react. There's a fight scene I'd love to read. (Marvel has a national Chinese superteam already, with one man who can call on the strength of the entire population...strength in numbers, typical.)

The 99 is just a name, however, as it is forbidden to actually depict all of Allah's attributes. Or else you might be executed. Or, if you're lucky, Dar the Afflicter will give you a little taste of searing agony. Avengers Assemble.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Feast for Crows

I've finished the fourth and final (as yet published) book in the series, A Song of Ice and Fire, and somewhere along the way I came to the conclusion that it sucked.

The third and fourth plodded along without an end. The characters I actually liked (Arya and Jon) were given less and less facetime, and practically buried in misery and betrayal. The characters I liked second best were brutally murdered. The characters I liked least took over the story for no foreseeable purpose.

The date of release for the next installment, Dance with Dragons, keeps being pushed back. George R.R. Martin claims he spends years writing each book, which is noticeable in the reading of them, and my belief is even he lost interest in the world. Thousands of pages with few redeemable or enjoyable moments can dry up even the most creative mind.

I can only hope the HBO show gets canceled before its' fourth season. And chances are Martin will die with the series unfinished, which would not be the greatest tragedy.

I'll probably read the next one, whenever it comes out, merely to find out what happens to those characters I actually care about, but I won't enjoy it. Perhaps I'll simply wait for the wikipedia entry to be posted.

Now I need to find a truly good book, perhaps a superior fantasy, to flush the bad taste out of my mouth. In case you're from Rio Linda or Port St. Lucie, I don't recommend this series.

Hottest Comic Book Writer

He's also the most successful these days, certainly in the DC Universe. I give you Geoff Johns. (Follow him on Twitter...he talks about his neighbor's kids a lot, and sneaking them ice cream. Pretty sweet. Also makes it sound like he lives alone. And reads comics. And writes comics....please call me.)

Conservative Celebrities (Yes, they actually exist.)

A Rule 5 Sunday Special

Sarah Michelle Gellar:

She might not be a complete and total conservative, but a self-identified Republican, but I still love her madly. And her baby's due....really really soon by the looks of it.

Emma Caulfield:

Yet another Whedon alum revealed to be a 'hardcore republican.' Explains why she hasn't had many big roles since Buffy and Darkness Falls. Check out her indie movie TiMER and her new webcomic Contropussy.

Jim Caviezel:

Catholic digest has an interview with the actor in which he speaks out against abortion, talks about prayer, The Stoning of Sooraya M., adoption and playing Jesus. That might have been the role that got him blacklisted, but I always loved his Count of Monte Cristo. (Nothing beats Dumas, sorry Bible.)

Angie Harmon:

Knew it. Sweet ass hot chick, with a footballer hubby. Wish they wouldn't keep canceling their shows.

Heather Locklear:

Proves that old wives' tale, the one about how conservative women never age. Or wait, maybe I just made that up, because she never freakin' ages. Heard she's guesting on the new Melrose Place remake.

Pete Sampras:

You can't get a much better example of humanity than Mr. Pistol Pete. Generally, if he believes it, so should you. The guy is the best player ever (keep your Nadals and Federers, thank you very much), the classiest sportsman, the most articulate privacy-lover, and he married a beautiful blonde (and probably convinced her to go conservative too.) God bless Pete.

Wolfman Trailer

The Remake is finally coming out. Bastards on youtube won't let you embed, so check it out here at BigHollywood.

Looks really well done and aesthetically pleasing, but not sure about the story. Hard to make a werewolf movie original these days.

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's Always Sunny on FX

The new season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia premieres in a couple weeks on FX. Some snort-worthy previews have been released on hulu, so I thought I'd post a couple. This show always makes me crack up.

Kitten Mittens

Wedding Dress

Green Trash

In other TV news, Warehouse 13 has been picked up by SyFy for a second season. I, for one, am happy. It's not groundbreaking, or magnificently written, but it's sweet and earnest and science fictiony, and I really like Joanne Kelly for some reason, possibly from her work on Slings & Arrows, one of the best shows ever made. (The McClintock guy makes me laugh on occasion as well.) Soft-hearted geeks, rejoice!

Game Of Thrones Casting News

New casting developments in HBO's upcoming Game of Thornes has been revealed. The role of Jamie Lannister goes to...Nikolaj Coster Waldau.

This has me mixed. You see, Nikolaj is one of the most beautiful men ever to be created and subsequently put on American TV. (I liked New Amsterdam a lot, but it got axed quickly, and I wasn't sure if I liked Virtuality, but that got axed quicker.) Jamie Lannister is pretty, but fairly reprehensible, at least until the third volume or so. Still, I'm hardcore in love with Nikolaj, so this seems to me like the best casting feat the series has pulled off so far.

In the role of Daenarys, the exiled dragon princess, is Tamzin Merchant from The Tudors. Don't watch that crapfest, so not aware of her abilities, but she looks ok for the part (Dany is 13, despite all her feats, sexual and otherwise.)

As Robb Stark, the dutiful son and eventual King in the North, we have a British actor named Richard Madden, a veteran of the stage and most recently seen in Hope Springs (a comedy starring Alex Kingston.) Looks pretty appropriate to me. And if he can do Romeo, he shouldn't have any trouble with Robb (let's just hope he didn't read the third installment before he signed on for the role.)

Bigtime acting vet Iain Glen takes the role of Ser Jorah Mormount, Dany's trusted ally and protector, and exiled knight of Westeros. Will possibly be a bit weird to watch him fall in love with the 13 year old girl.

Someone named Alfie Allen will be Theon Greyjoy. (If you google Allen you'll find lots of nudey shots...guess he must've done Equus.) His smile seems cocky and semi-evil enough, though I pictured Greyjoy darker. No matter; the Ironmen are the least interesting storyline in my opinion.

The heart of the story, however, is in the Stark sisters, Arya and Sansa (particularly Arya.) The girls casted in those roles are named Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner, but are unknown and therefore un-google-able. However, George R.R. Martin himself has a couple tiny pics of them, so I'll just link you over there.

All-in-all, production seems to be progressing swiftly, with shooting to start in a month or so in Ireland, and most of the casting completed. The greatest moves so far have been Jennifer Ehle and Nikolaj Coster Waldau, with Sean Bean sure to be a draw. They intend to do all seven installments of the book in seven seasons (though only four books have been written/released), with Martin himself writing at least one episode a season. I applaud their diligence, but I have doubts that it'll last that long. I myself am reading the fourth book now, and losing interest faster than Rush Limbaugh lost weight.

Still the first two are pretty meaty, so originally it should be fun. Plus, if I haven't mentioned. Nikolaj Coster Waldau is going to be on the show, and he's, like, the dreamiest guy ever.

For more casting news and commentary check out the Jennifer Ehle blog. (She was cast as Lady Catelyn.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Limbaugh's Family Guy Taping Session

Yesterday on the Rush Limbaugh Show, Rush talked for a whole segment about the experience at the Family Guy studio when he 'laid down his tracks' on Tuesday (while the absolutely fantastic Mark Steyn filled in.)

Big Hollywood was kind enough to provide the transcript (I'm too poor to be a Rush 24/7 member, and I was driving while listening yesterday) of that part of the show, and I thought I'd post it here.

-A lot of you people been e-mailing me, “How dare you? Why would you capitulate, why would you go on a show that makes so much fun of conservatives? Why would you do this?” ‘Cause it’s a cartoon show and because they asked me and I had script approval, and some of the things in this script are — I had to do four or five takes on one line ’cause I kept cracking up in the middle of it… Brian, the dog, that becomes a Rush groupie, I’m doing my radio show, like now, I’m sitting at the microphone, and I’m talking about Pelosi, and I said, “What can we do to stop the Pelosi agenda?” And Brian says, “You’re going soft!” I said, “What are talking about going soft?” “I know what to do to stop Pelosi! You know, the problem is you just tell everybody she’s on crack.” And I said, “Brian, look, I know she’s on crack, but you can’t just say it that way, it’s not going to persuade anybody. And then he says, “I got a better idea to shut her up,” and that’s what I can’t tell you, you’ll just have to wait and hear it.

-Now, The Family Guy, as everybody knows, is staffed pretty much by liberals. So I walk in and the first guy that comes up to me whispers, “Hey, I’m your biggest fan here. I’m the only one. I’m a conservative and I’m really glad to see you, it’s a thrill to meet you…

On the way out another guy comes up, “I’m the only conservative in the building and I just wanted to say hi, and I wanted to see you before you left.” And I said, “No, no, no, no, there’s another. There are actually two of you.” “There are?” I didn’t tell him who, I didn’t identify him, his secret is safe with me.

-I thought this episode was going to start out this season, it would be the premiere episode this season. It’s not. It’s the premiere episode in September of 2010.

-I want to thank Seth MacFarlane and his people for giving me the invitation and opportunity to appear on it and throwing such a great time yesterday.

Pretty surprised by the length of time it takes them to put together an episode (over a year) as well as the amount of employees the show has (about 500). Never thought so much manpower and effort went into it...thought it was easier than live action, especially cause Seth does a few of the voices himself.

But what DIDN'T surprise me was how well they got along. Rush is a funny guy, humble yet confident despite the easy accusation of arrogance, and certainly class act enough to pull of a popular liberal-minded cartoon. When they took pictures of him for the animators, they exclaimed that they couldn't make fat jokes anymore (he's lost like 80lbs or something nuts) but still asked him for a sideways profile shot. He obliged, and then bent over and grabbed his ankles, just in case they wanted to draw his butt too. That's definitely the kind of thing that'll make Seth MacFarlane guffaw.

Batgirl Unmasked

And the winner is...everyone! The general consensus about the new Batgirl's identity was dead on, as they mercifully revealed it to be Stephanie Brown in the first issue. (I was worried they were gonna drag it on for a few issues.)

The issue itself was a bit choppy, and I didn't think Stephanie's inner narrative was entirely convincing, but the message was clear; heroing is in her blood, she can't stop herself now, she's much better than when she started as The Spoiler, but she's got a long way to go to be at Cassandra Cain's level.

The Cassandra Cain brush off was another low point. I liked them being friends, but the sudden decision to take off the cowl for identity purposes makes no sense. Cassandra found and built her identity through the Bat-symbol, she gained a family for which she was incredibly grateful, and a purpose and a code to live by and be proud of. I'm sure they could have come up with something better. Maybe she'll come back and take over as Batwoman...not that I don't like Rucka, but Detective Comics isn't really hitting my sweet spot. Not into the redhead lesbian yet, definitely not into this female Joker "Alice" villain, and while the art is admittedly stunning it doesn't read very easily.

I'm glad Barbara Gordon is in the series though. It explains the future covers of Stephanie donning the old school Batgirl costume (think yellow lining and yellow high heel boots.) Yet again, however, her personality is written like a dried up well: consumed by anger over being a cripple. How many times do we need to read her overcoming that? Next she'll be having Joker nightmares, despite years and years of that, and actual physical confrontations that she won.

Still, her mentoring Stephanie should be good. She's the one who connected to Cassandra, and while Steph got training from Batman and Robin, respectively, the first screwed her over majorly and the second mostly made out with her. She needs some real help now, or else she'll end up being tortured and left for dead again. (I'm sincerely hoping for a Black Mask rematch, since he is back in Gotham and making himself destroying Arkham Asylum for one.)

Also hope some Red Robin confrontations are coming in this series, as she's briefly appeared in Tim Drake's own title, and was shut down by him (semi-deservedly.) A rematch with Mr. Zsasz would be sweet too, since that was one of her few memorable outings when she was Robin briefly, and because he would add a needed level of terror and legitimate darkness to her nightly exploits.

So all in all, not a spectacular debut issue, but one with definite promise.

For more bloggers' opinions on the new Batgirl, check out When Fangirls Attack

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Blackest Night Revealed

Recently revealed in the DC solicits is the main villain of Geoff Johns' super series Blackest Night. His name is Nekron, and, I'll freely admit, I had no idea who he was.

You neither?

Well, check out Comic by Comic, one of my favorite blogs ever, for an in-depth, humorous, and much needed history of this man-behind-the-Black. Rich (the blogger) is the shit, and you can always trust him.

Whedonverse Round-Up

It seems alum of the Whedonverse are everywhere these days, working with old friends, doing their own projects, and welcoming new stars into the cushy fold of "I once worked with Joss Whedon, and now I always have a job."

First up is James Marsters (Spike) who I last saw doing Torchwood, the Doctor Who spinoff across the pond, and making out with John Barrowman (totally worth watching.) Reports say that he's been signed on to play an important terrorist character in Jane Espenson's Caprica, in its turn a prequel of sorts to Battlestar Galactica. Jane wrote for James for years on Buffy and is either adding a little starpower to the show, doing her buddy a solid, or really sick of the whole casting process. From what I can tell of Caprica, they don't really need any more terrorists, but hey. Marsters is to play a guy named Barnabus Greeley, so that should be fun.

Gina Torres, the intimidating Zoe from Firefly and Serenity, and Jasmine, the eerily splendid God that saved the fourth season of Angel (in more ways than one), is apparently guest starring on Gossip Girl. She will be playing Vanessa's mother, some opinionated Vermontian who actually cares about her daughter. That's the second Whedon alum to be in Gossip Girl, the first being Michelle Trachtenberg as a super-bitch (so, not Dawn at all...right?) I've always been fond of Torres, and I only just learned she's married to Lawrence Fishburne.

Emma Caulfield, the hilarious and pitch perfect Anya from Buffy, has created her own webcomic called Contropussy. Seems to be generating quite a bit of buzz. She's also been doing a bunch of movies, including the indie TiMER which I'd like to see.

A warm welcome to the whedonverse to Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica, Horatio Hornblower), a longtime favorite of mine, who is guest-starring in the season premiere of Dollhouse. In it, he marries Echo, or whoever Echo is that episode, while she investigates him for some kind of wrongdoing. Might not be the best career move, but I like the idea of him and Joss becoming friends. Who knows what could happen?

Other than those more recent news, the Buffy season 8 comic plods on, production wraps on Joss' new horror film Cabin in the Woods, Sarah Michelle Gellar screens her pilot of The Wonderful Maladys to HBO execs and prepares for labor, and David Boreanaz admits a fear of roosters. Also, the wonderful Nathan Fillion, who's excellent show Castle begins its' second season soon, visited Chicago Comic-Con and personally admired a Serenity replica made by a fan:

Summer Reading

After joyously rereading all 20 novels of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin saga this summer (and the unfinished transcript of the 21st) I had a dream that there existed a lost, unpublished book in the series. Alas, my dreams are often deep-felt wishes rather than prophesies, so my quest was stillborn and I moved on to other worlds.

As posted before, I finally read the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. martin, A Game of Thrones. I had owned the first book for about a year, collecting dust on my desk with a dozen other unread novels, but the news of HBO making a series out of these stories motivated me to finally start it. (Warning: some spoilers ahead.)

So I did, and I tore through it, and then the second, A Clash of Kings, and then the third, A Storm of Swords. I don't much care for the titles, but the first two were good. They read quickly, were full of action, and I truly cared for at least half of the characters. The third, however, fell into that familiar trap that bestselling, unfinished series fall into (think Harry Potter, Twilight.) Martin added about 500 pages to the average length, slowed down the pace to something nearly interminable, and heaped endless amounts of misery on the characters I loved.

The only surprising and skillful feat accomplished in the third, was to endear me to Ser Jamie Lannister, the child-murdering, kingslaying, incest-loving rogue. I did not expect it, and certainly resisted it, but his growing friendship with the androgynous, stubborn, loyal, female warrior Brienne of Tarth was the catalyst to a newfound respect. That and his chopped off right hand changed him remarkably, imbuing him with unexpected pain and honor. The final scene between him and his dwarf brother Tyrion was rough and emotional, and in the end frustrating as their ties of blood and affection seemed to sever for good. The book left the Lannister's half-destroyed and fractured, the will of the Gods some would say, and I'm unclear how things will progress (generally, a good sign in a fantasy series.)

My favorite character by far is Arya, the young Stark girl who has proven a survivor and a warrior, adopting several identities as she fled from enemies on her way back to her family. She's lived several lives in the course of the series so far, yet not one has brought her joy, nor reunited her with any of her (mostly all dead, now) family. Still, I feel the most eagerness when her chapters arrive.

My second favorite is Jon, the bastard of the family, who endured many unexpected plot twists himself, and has risen to a leader's status in one of the few happy developments of the book. I am also heartened that his direwolf, Ghost, returned to him at the end, as he is one of the few remaining Stark children to still have their wolf's protection and friendship. I thought Arya and Nymeria would be reunited as well, but I suppose that's an event for a later book (hopefully.)

Now I've begun A Feast for Crows, which has started very slowly and seems fated to make me plod through unenjoyable characters (the Greyjoys are boring as hell), and more and more darkness. The only boon is that I heard Arya plays a big part in this book, as only half the characters from the previous one are used (it being a sort of two-parter with the upcoming fifth.)

I only pray that some good fortune will emerge, some victories and happiness. It is a dreary thing to commit to a fantasy world and only encounter tragedy. I've never understood the writer/creators' tendency to spend hundreds of pages building and examining a character's psychology only to have them meet a bloody and perfunctory end. Yet I continue to read, so there must be something that draws me back. It's either Arya and Jon, or a stubborn need to know how things end/progress once I've invested so much time and energy into the story. Maybe I should read some Dickens instead, whose stories are no strangers to tragedy, but with the (at least personally) integral trait of having a happy ending.

There's nothing like a depressing ending to make me hate a story. (Hear me Joss.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

November Comic Solicitations

Love when these come out. DC and Marvel both preview comics and storylines that are a few months away. Not only is it a tasty cover treat, but you get some hints about how current stories are resolved and what comes next (for instance, Emma is back in white and on the team, duh, and Namor seems to be sticking around. Also Magneto is back, and Matt Fraction hasn't been fired for some reason.)

Find X-solicits here at Comic Book Resources, and DC ones here (at the same fantastic and helpful any jobs left CBR?)

The DC ones look better (they're really pulling ahead these days, and not just cause of Blackest Night...not that I'm not into BN, but it feels like it's gonna go on forever, in an anticlimactic sort of way) so I've included a few covers I found most interesting.

Blackest Night #5 is noteworthy, not because we find out who's in charge of the Black Lanterns ("Nekron"? Really?) but because we see what the main cast of characters is (most likely) at this point in the series. (Huzzah for Connor and Bart!) It seems the characters who have died and returned are what scares Nekron and William Hand. But I guess we got that already with the brutal murders of Hawkman and Hawkgirl.

Hopefully Justice League of America will be less sucky come November, and this Blackest Night tie-in has promise. Dr. Light (the hero, scientist, and hard-ass chick) versus the resurrected (kinda) Dr. Light (villain, psycho). It's not just their name-battle I wanna see, it's what Kimiyo Hoshi would do to a rapist. Should be sweet.

And finally, despite having a Blackest Night: Titans miniseries, Titans itself is having another tie-in. I've never felt fully invested in Roy/Red Arrow, but the nice thing about him was his love for his daughter, born from him and a genocidal, now-dead villain named Cheshire. Of course, the dead will rise, or are rising, etc. etc. and some domestic turmoil is bound to ensue. (It's a good thing little Lian knows how to use a bow and arrow already.)

Enjoy. When it comes to comics, sometimes the anticipation and speculation is better than the real thing. (Anyone else ever get a post-Wednesday depression slump? Maybe I read them too fast. Or maybe they don't write them well enough....Mr. Fraction.)

So check out comicbookresources as often as you dare. I always find good stuff there.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Downey Jr. To Play Vampire Lestat?

According to Bloody-Disgusting, a new Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles novel is set to be scripted, filmed and released by Universal Pictures. They've even confirmed Robert Downey Jr. is in talks for the lead role of Lestat (Tom Cruise's character in Interview.)

I recall reading and watching Interview with a Vampire, and I recall not finishing and not watching Queen of the Damned, but as for the other 8 novels in the series, I've got nothing. Vampires are much less interesting when they're broody and long-winded, and not metaphors for humans to fight against.

Still, Downey has proven to be the guy to breathe life back into genres and franchises alike (though I'm very, very skeptical about this Sherlock farce coming on.) Whether or not he does the project (my advice is no, Rob) he's clearly number one in the big-little Hollywood world, so I suppose congratulations are in order.

Mostly I just can't wait for Iron Man 2.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Megan Fox is Growing on me

An inspiring public service announcement from the star of the upcoming Diablo Cody horror/comedy Jennifer's Body.

hat tip House of Eratosthenes (check out Girls in Bikinis Reading Star Wars) via Smitty from Rule 5 Sunday

Mad Men Returns Tonight

The hit show beloved by everyone from Michael Savage and Debbie Schlussel, to any and all anonymous writers, premieres its' third season tonight on AMC. The new episode is titled "Out of Town."

When last we saw the Ad men (and women) of Sterling Cooper and their families, the firm had been bought out, Peggy dropped some baby truth on Pete in her new corner office, Joan got raped in Don Draper's office by her doctor fiance, Betty got it on with some guy in a bar, and then came home to her shaky marriage with Don to confront their third pregnancy.

It's hard to believe when you watch the show that so much happens. Generally I'm content enjoying the outfits, the smoke, the sets, their voices (Don's voice, really) and waiting eagerly to see Peggy smack-down some male dominated paradigms.

Suffice to say, it seems to be getting better, and as we go deeper into the '60s, the size and fury of societal change is going to be hard to ignore. Makes for some interesting television.

Also on tonight, Defying Gravity, the new ABC science/fiction space drama show, with a premise eerily similar to Ron Moore's earlier summer flop on SyFy, Virtuality. The effects are sweet, the story is kind of slow, but the lovely Laura Harris (of Dead Like Me and Women's Murder Club) makes up for it, at least in my book.

And if you've been smoking crystal meth for the past 22 hours, be sure to catch True Blood on HBO, where I'm sure some women will be beaten, some sex will be had, some orgies will be forgotten and some hearts will be cut out and eaten in a souffle. You'll love it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Saving Grace: Not sure why TNT would cancel one of its' highest rated programs, nor one of its' best written ones, but it has. The current season will be extended, with remaining episodes to air next summer (drag it out, why don't you.)

I quite like this show, and am upset by this seemingly premature ending. Holly Hunter is fantastic and the rest of the cast are pretty stellar. Sometimes it gets a bit dark (childhood trauma, kidnappings, vicious lesbian beat downs) but its balanced by some really exceptional laugh-out-loud humor (mostly in the form of increasingly elaborate pranks the PD officers play on each other.) Otherwise the interplay between a basic cop procedural and a spiritual odyssey is masterful and engaging. And Grace Annadarko, with her instincts, her faults, her fierce loyalty, could be easily watched for five more years. The Closer keeps getting new seasons, so why not this one? Shame on you TNT, especially for sticking with Raising The Bar and other shlockfests instead of this gem.

Reno 911: Nooooo! So long running and continuously funny, I recently thought the show was immortal. Curse me for a Jonah, an ill-luck bringing cove. The show has been definitively canceled, and I'm pretty sure the season that aired this year was the last we'll get to see.

Hopefully the comedians who helm this fine farce, mostly grads of the cult famous The State, will continue to get work. After all, Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter keep getting shows, why not these blorks?

For more from these guys, check 'em out perfectly spoofing Point Break at Cinemash. (Channing Tatum doing Dirty Dancing is pretty choice too.