Archive for May, 2006

Studio Bumps Up SUPERMAN RETURNS

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

In an effort to garner more ticket sales over the holiday weekend Warner Brothers has moved the opening of Superman Returns from Friday June 30 to Wednesday June 28. With strong competition coming a week later from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest Warner Brothers wants to make sure Superman Returns has every opportunity to establish an audience.

An Internet Oldie but Goodie

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

Have you all seen the list of Spoilers for Every Movie Ever Made?

Can anyone tell me which movie this describes? “It was really the good sister that tried to kill the bad sister.”

Strangers in Paradise 82

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

For years now, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise. The title has had some of the best moments I’ve ever read in comics, but has also managed to drive certain plot elements into the ground, through repetition and over-analyzing. Which really is something that most of the mainstream superhero books we all enjoy are guilty of…but the long and the short of it is, SiP is not supposed to share that much with mainstream superhero titles.

With less than ten issues remaining in the title, Moore is trying to put a lot of dangling plot threads together in just under a year, as well as coping with the new and predominant story that one of the book’s main characters has massive brain trauma and will likely not live to see the end of the series.

Again, for most sci-fi books, that’s not particularly uncommon. But it’s been more than a dozen years now, and none of the main characters in SiP has ever bitten the bullet. What started out with three main characters, and an antagonist in the person of Francine’s ex-boyfriend Freddie, has developed into a title with a half-dozen “main” characters (though it still centers firmly around the original 3) and a handful of ancillary characters (these are the “expendable” ones whenever the organized crime factor returns to the story).

For those who haven’t read the book, or haven’t read in a while, the long and the short of it is that there are three friends who had lived together for years: David, who has a thing for Katchoo; Katchoo, who has a thing for Francine; and Francine, who’s had things for a string of bad men. Usually her love (which is a confused and confounding kind of love) for Katchoo will bring her out of a relationship before anything too tragic happens to her, but recently, a fight with Katchoo and the Right Guy at the Right Time all converged, and Francine married rich doctor Brad Silver, brother of the fictional “rock legend” Griffin Silver, whose lyrics have been sprinkled throughout SiP since long before Brad was a gleam in Terry Moore’s eye.

This issue centers mostly around Francine, who is home with her husband while a variety of other characters have been thrown into a frenzy by last issue’s revelation of an impending death in the series. The other characters are making a variey of plans–some productive, some just seemingly random–while Francine sits alone at home with her thoughts, missing her absent husband, who spends 18 hours a day at the hospital where he works. When she finds a cell phone in his pocket that she doesn’t recognize, though, Francine becomes suspicious. One thing leads to another, and your first impression is given validation–her perfect husband is cheating on her. Discovering this, Francine shatters the phone and then drives off into the night–she wakes up alone, somewhere (presumably a hotel), and has a spectacularly high number of missed calls and messages on her own phone–not just from the cheatin’ hubby, but from her mother, Katchoo, David and everyone else ever associated with Francine. “What did you do?” She asks, “Tell everyone we know?”

And then, when walking down the street a panel later, she sees a newspaper headline that, while it’s unclear at present how it might impact the story, it’s clear will change the dynamic of the book for the remainder of its run. It’s a twist that you never see coming, and it doesn’t seem particularly contrived. The realization of what it means for the characters (starting with, “So they really weren’t calling about the girlfriend at all!”) hits the reader slowly after taking in the final panels of the book, and I was left with the feeling the SiP #82 is possibly the best single issue of an ongoing comic that I’ve read since at least Identity Crisis.

Alex Toth dead at 78

Sunday, May 28th, 2006

Legendary cartoonist Alex Toth, designer of many beloved Hanna Barbera characters of the 1960s and 70s such as Space Ghost, the Superfriends and the Herculoids, has passed away at age 78.

If you like Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim shows “Space Ghost: Coast to Coast,” “Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law” and “Sealab 2021”, Alex Toth designed all those characters. He also invented 7-Zark-7 for “Battle of the Planets”.

I notice that Toth’s IMDb entry doesn’t even include most of the shows he’s famous for; I imagine his entry will be brought up to date soon.

RIP.

Alan Kistler’s Chronology: DOCTOR WHO – 3rd Doctor

Friday, May 26th, 2006

You know the drill by now. This is my view of events in the Doctor’s life and what works in a timeline. Unlike the Doctor Who Reference Guide, I do not choose to include EVERY SINGLE adventure published.

The TV COMIC strips don’t really work for me as they’re all complete fluff and seem to have no real development or even any real bearing on the continuity of the show. The novel “The Scales of Injustice” has been ignored because it invents a wife named Fiona for the Brigadier when in the show the only wife he seemed to ever have was a woman named Doris (and I think we can assume she was the only wife, since the Doctor was surprised to hear the Brigadier was married and didn’t say something like “You re-married”). Also, it ends with Liz Shaw leaving right after Yates is promoted to Captain, yet in a more recent book BBC book “The Devil Goblins of Neptune”, she is still part of UNIT alongside Captain Yates. And it’s not a great story anyway, so it’s dropped.

If you are a completist, check out the aforementioned reference guide, you’ll be happier with them than me.

This is continued from the SECOND DOCTOR CHRONOLOGY.

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I passed!

Friday, May 26th, 2006
You Passed 8th Grade Math
Congratulations, you got 9/10 correct!
Could You Pass 8th Grade Math?

I wish it would tell me which one I got wrong.

X3 filled with gorgeous wimmins

Friday, May 26th, 2006

Fox News, which surely wouldn’t concoct an entertainment story just to show pictures of hot models, has a feature on the New X-Babes.

An X3 Addendum

Friday, May 26th, 2006

I am going to entrust the more detailed, lengthy reviews to Michael and Chris, but I wanted to throw in two quick things:

1) Ratner and the writers had to go into production of their script realizing that they were going to make a lot of enemies. I, for one, really admire the VERY daring steps they took and despite the shock I thought the movie was good. I agree with Chris that the plot and character development needed more time and that the movie’s subtlety of its message was all but gone. An extra thirty minutes of footage (coupled with good writing, of course) could have fixed this.

2) WHATEVER YOU DO: STAY IN YOUR SEAT UNTIL AFTER THE CREDITS ARE OVER. There is a scene there that is VERY important!!

Gosh… in writing that, I’ve realized that there’s so much more I want to comment on but there would be spoilers with it. Perhaps tomorrow I will touch on some of these.

But yeah… wow.

X-Men trilogy Thematics – it can’t work like this

Friday, May 26th, 2006

This is a line of thought I was on before I saw the movie and I had probably last week and last year.

You know that the creative direction and vision has to have been changed to some extent. Either there was an abrubt turn in the track of the movie or Bryan Singer was not all he was cracked up to.

The first X-Men movie was about Wolverine joining the X-Men. That was essentially it.

X-Men 2 was about Wolverine’s origin, background, how he came to be, and it essentially went full cirlce back to the X-Men, but when we saw Wolverine leaving the group after his first adventure at the end of the first movie this movie follows right on its heels and for however long Wolverine is gone on this trip, we see him return to the group here. It is his second adventure and it digs further into his character and into the background of the X-Men’s relationship with the government, as well.

X-Men 3 is the Last Stand. It’s titled The Last Stand.

The first two movies are glorified origin stories. After precisely no build-up we hop from the origins, quick as they were and mostly neccessary and then it’s the Last, the end.

Essentially the studio is saying, “we have introduced you to our world, and now we are done.”

Go back and read the spoiler-free review and I promise you the spoiler-filled review within 36 hours; what are the odds that I go on a date on Friday night?

X-Men: the Last Stand non-spoiler review

Friday, May 26th, 2006

I will post a review that is filled with spoilers, gives away the beginning, middle, and the end, and I have no problem cracking open the movie to the curious, because if they are surprised or not the quality of the film or its entertainment value does not change. I went to the midnight show in part because I can. I went because as a member of my community I had a duty to assemble, organize, and lead a squadron of disorganized, relatively undisciplined young folk to the movie theatre to see a midnight show. I went to scoop Michael Hutchison, who lives in the Central TIme Zone and thus had no hope of beating me to the punch. That last sentence is a joke; I am not competing with Hutch. I am familiar with the X-Men and nearly all the stories. I got nearly every in-joke; there were not many.

Let’s approach this in a short, relevent manner. I liked the movie. I enjoyed seeing the movie. I was entertained. It was fun I didn’t like it very much. It’s not a good movie.

All the other reviews are correct. This film has a shorter run-time than the previous two movies yet is packed with much more plot and many more subplots and the film suffers for it. The pacing is cracked, the character development zips along had an obscene speed and there is a significant lack of focus. What is worse is that this moive has all the subtlety of a brick being hurled through your window.

The film had some great moments; there are things in this movie that we have wanted to see in an X-Men movie for some time and it is packed in tight within something that doesn’t allow space to breathe or really process.

Kelsey Grammar did a great job.

I promised you two reviews and I will deliver. The next is forthcoming.

The Blue Spider is in fact Christopher J. Arndt. He resides and operate in the Lansing area in the midst of Central Michigan. He is a highly-trained political hack and is slightly over-educated for how he spends his time. His grandest desire is to write professionally.

Welcome to an old Fanzinger

Friday, May 26th, 2006

We’d like to welcome Russell T. Burlingame, a contributor to Fanzing.com (the magazine we ran from 1997 to 2003). Welcome back, old friend! Russ will be doing comic book reviews and such.

Booster Gold: A Look Back

Friday, May 26th, 2006

In the immediate aftermath of The Crisis on Infinite Earths, young up-and-coming writer/artist Dan Jurgens launched a book that’s become an increasingly rare breed since: he introduced a new character, never featured or mentioned in any previous continuity book, who fit right into the DC superhero universe.

The result was Booster Gold, introduced as America’s first "corporate superhero." He was one of the good guys, and couldn’t be bought—but he certainly didn’t object if people wanted to pay for the stuff he was already doing. The character, of course, was prominently featured in the Giffen-DeMatteis "International" era of the Justice League, and though his personality has changed a number of times over the years, his first appearance in 52 #1 this week harkens back to his early appearances in Booster Gold, which ran for 2 years in the mid-80s.
One of the most interesting aspects of examining Booster Gold closely, is getting to see Superman, who guest-stars in issues 6 and 7, drawn by Dan Jurgens for what may have been the first time. Five years later, Jurgens would forever cement his role in comics history by being the main writer/artist behind the Doomsday!: The Death of Superman storyline and its follow-ups. He also became the creative face of DC for a few years, spearheading projects like the Tangent Comics fifth-week event in 1997 that reinvisioned the entire DC Universe, keeping nothing except the character names the same, and of course writing and drawing 1994’s Zero Hour: A Crisis in Time, which attempted to "clean up" some of the continuity mess left after Crisis on Infinite Earths. Seeing the "early" Jurgens Superman was a little jarring—his Superman is iconic and definitive to many readers of my generation, and the difficulty he seemed to have in presenting the Man of Steel (it seemed as though, rather than drawing him as a real person, Jurgens was trying to depict Superman the way that Curt Swan might have drawn him around that time). By the time Superman appears again in issue 22 (separating a sparring pair of Boosters—something that a lot of Internet pundits are guessing might be an issue during 52), he looks substantially different. John Byrne’s Man of Steel had taken place in the interim, and the post-Byrne interpretation of Jurgens’ Superman feels much more like "home."

Booster Gold was a very interesting book—influenced by the unusual titles that were making waves at the time (ads inside the issues advertised Watchmen, Dark Knight, the Giffen-DeMatteis Justice League and Batman: Year One), Jurgens tried to craft a character more fully realized than many of the black-and-white, good-and-evil superheroes who dominated the Silver Age. The fact that Booster still exists and is used regularly while other characters introduced at the time (Wild Dog, anyone?) vanished into obscurity is a testament to the fact that, despite its relatively short life, this title managed to do something right. Booster, though greedy and self-absorbed, was also introspective and constantly working to learn his place in the universe. Each event that took place in the series moved him one step closer to being the hero that he could be—culminating with a final tragedy in issue 20 that would haunt Booster’s (non-bwah-ha-hah) appearances in other books for years to come.

One of the weaknesses that Jurgens displayed on Superman—his inability to create particularly interesting villains—was fully evident here, as well, and that’s certainly a weak point in the series. Still, Booster and his supporting characters—who went through the trials of fame, the abuse of endorsees and finally a giant corporate swindle that left the hero bankrupt at the end of the series—were enough to carry the book, even when losers like Blackguard (last seen in I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League, as Guy Gardner’s co-owner of The Dark Side bar) were the headlining foes.

Even after the series’ cancellation after 25 issues, Jurgens still managed to keep Booster a vital force in the gritty world of the late ‘90s DCU. During the Doomsday storyline, Booster’s best friend in this century—Blue Beetle—was gravely injured and Booster’s powers were taken away. Even while he was no longer a productive member of the Justice League, Jurgens had him guest-starring there and in Superman fairly regularly (I remember thinking as a young man that Booster got way more play than some "cooler" characters, and wondering why). His characterization, though, has been all over the map, owing to the fact that Jurgens always wanted to tackle serious issues with the character while Giffen and DeMatteis—who used him mostly as a comic foil for Blue Beetle—are widely acknowledged as doing as much or more than the character’s actual creator in defining how he’s viewed by the readers.

With his role in 52 still very much up in the air and the possibility that he may be the next to fall prey to what seems to be the Justice League International Curse (which has so far claimed the lives and/or characters of Ice, Ralph & Sue Dibny, Max Lord and Blue Beetle), this quaint and fun superhero romp is a great thing to look back on—to see a time when, even though he was adding new layers of complexity to the superhero genre, things were somehow much simpler for Booster Gold.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

I was going to go to the midnight showing of “X-Men 3: Last Mutant Standing” just so I could write a review for Monitor Duty.

Then I realized that I was seriously going to pay full price to watch this movie until 2AM, then come home and probably write for two hours before crawling to bed and going to work in the morning, all so you could find out what a guy who’s not a Marvel fan thinks about a movie that he’ll surely enjoy on a general level… and I said, “Screw it.”

Marvel fans are going to be far more interested in what a whiney mouth-breather has to complain about re: the inadequacies of the performances, how they got this or that mutant totally wrong and how the director isn’t up to the standards of the last director, etc. Thus, anything I say on the matter will be ignored as soon as I mention that I only know the X-Men from the movies.

Steyn reviews X-Men

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Mark Steyn reruns his reviews for X-Men 1 and 2.

“Oh jeez, he’s crying!”

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

“What the hell is an Aluminum Falcon?”

Seth Green’s “Robot Chicken” shows the ending of the first Star Wars movie from Emperor Palpatine’s perspective.

Yes, that’s Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane as Palpatine. And correct me if I’m wrong, but is that Seth Green playing HIMSELF? If not, who is he supposed to be?

“Clerks 2” trailer from Cannes

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

Warning: This is a Rated R trailer.

GHOST RIDER Trailer Available

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

The trailer for Ghost Rider is now available. It’s scheduled for release on February 16, 2007. Why they’d release a Ghost Rider movie on Valentine’s Day weekend instead of Halloween weekend is beyond me.

Alan Kistler’s Chronology: DOCTOR WHO – 2nd Doctor

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

Continuing the chronology lists of DOCTOR WHO, here is my chronology list for the adventures of the Second Doctor. Again, this is my view. If you want a complete list of EVERY Second Doctor adventure published, check out the Doctor Who Reference Guide.

This is continued from The First Doctor Chronology List and the SECOND DOCTOR PROFILE.

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McFarlane Toys Gets LOST

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

McFarlane Toys has landed the license for ABC’s Lost and will begin producing action figures this fall. The first series will consist of 6 figures: Jack, Kate, Hurley, Locke, Charlie and Shannon. These figures will come individually packed and in boxed sets/dioramas of locations seen throughout the series. Future series will include Sawyer and Mr. Eko.

New “Superman Returns” trailer!

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

The new “Superman Returns” trailer has succeeded in getting me better-hyped than the last one has. I mean, seeing Supes tear the wing off a plane is pretty dang cool, but something about the pacing of the trailer threw me off.

But this one is great. And the very last part is amazingly done. Go check it out!