Thursday, July 20, 2006

What are the ten best superhero films of all time? This is my list.

1. Superman: The Movie
2. Spider-Man 2
3. Unbreakable
4. Batman Begins
5. Superman Returns
6. X2: X-Men United
7. Spider-Man
8. Batman Returns
9. X-Men
10. Superman II

Honorable Mention: Hulk, Mystery Men, The Rocketeer

Guillermo del Toro, director of Hellboy, has signed on to bring DC Comics' Deadman to the big screen. I can't think of a better choice of director. Deadman has always been one of my favorite characters, but one that seems mostly forgotten today. Deadman is Boston Brand, a circus acrobat who is murdered. A Hindu goddess grants him the power to possess any body while trying to bring his killer to justice and requires him to help others along the way.

French director Louis Leterrier (The Transporter) will direct The Incredible Hulk for Marvel Studios, which will reportedly "return the monstrous superhero to his comic-book roots". So will this be a sequel to Ang Lee's Hulk or a reboot? I hope it's the former, but then again I'm one of the few people who loved Ang Lee's version of the Hulk.

Last but not least, the Doom Patrol is also Hollywood bound. Bad news: Akiva Goldsman, writer of Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, is attached as producer.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Review: "Justice League of America" #0


Justice League of America #0 (DC Comics) - This issue functions as a prologue to the new series, the latest incarnation of a superhero team that debuted in 1960's The Brave and The Bold #28 and got its own series later that year.

The previous version of the team broke up during the events leading up to the recent Infinite Crisis. Brad Meltzer, a best-selling crime novelist and writer of the controversial comics miniseries Identity Crisis, takes the reins and delivers a good introduction. Titled "Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow", Meltzer re-tells key events in the history of the Justice League through the eyes of DC's Big Three -- Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman -- leading up to their decision to re-form the team. Interspersed between the events of yesterday and today are scenes from their potential futures.

Meltzer tries to belt it out of the park and into iconic territory. For the most part, he's right on the mark. He captures the personalities of the three heroes and displays a good understanding of what makes them tick as individuals and as a group. The true test will come when issue #1 hits the stands next month. If Meltzer can build on this issue and sustain the iconic feel, Justice League of America may just become one of the best team books out there, something we haven't been able to say about a JLA title for a long time.

Twenty-three artists contribute to the issue, including Ed Benes and Sandra Hope, who will be the regular series artists. Past JLA artists such as Dick Giordano, George Perez, and Kevin Maguire return to draw the parts of the story set in the eras they worked on the team in. Eric Wight's art in the first four pages are a good imitation of the style of original JLA artist Mike Sekowsky.

This is a great start for the new series.

Frank Miller writing and directing the film adaptation of Will Eisner's Spirit? Hmm. If Miller can stay faithful to Eisner's stories and can resist the temptation to turn it into Frank Miller's Spirit, it could be good. All-Star Batman and Robin is an example of how things can go wrong when Miller imposes his own personality onto something where it really doesn't belong.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I must have this DVD when it's released.

Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Fans of Spider-Girl, rejoice!

Call it the little title that could. It's been announced for cancelation too many times to count over the last eight years only to have a stay of execution issued at the last moment after a campaign by its small but passionate group of fans. This time, it looked like it was really the end when the title was again announced as canceled after last week's issue #100, despite being Marvel's longest running solo series of a female character.

Not so fast. Mass market paperback collections have been selling well enough for it to be brought back again, this time under the title Amazing Spider-Girl, launching issue #1 in October.

For those unfamiliar with the title, it's set in an alternate future of the Marvel Universe where Peter Parker (aka the retired Spider-Man) and his wife Mary Jane are middle aged and have a teenaged daughter named May who has inherited her father's powers. It began as the flagship title of Marvel's MC2 alternate future imprint in 1998 and is the only survivor of that brief line of titles, the rest were very quickly canceled due to low sales.

I picked up a copy of Spider-Girl four years ago and quickly became a fan. Writer/co-creator Tom DeFalco captures the best of Stan Lee's early Spider-Man stories -- the angsty teenaged hero beset with problems -- and puts a new spin on it. It's nostalgic and modern at the same time. Co-creator and frequent artist Ron Frenz has a strong Steve Ditko influence. They couldn't keep Peter Parker a teenager forever (now he's an angsty adult hero beset by problems), but Spider-Girl successfully follows in that tradition.

It's not something that will revolutionize comics, it's a good old fashioned superhero comic that's fun to read. If that appeals to you, be sure to pick up Amazing Spider-Girl #1 in October and help it to become the success it deserves to be.

Similarly, DC's Manhunter, which is also a solo series of a female character, was going to be canceled because of low sales but was given a reprieve after a fan-based campaign to save it. It's been given another five issues to see if its numbers improve. It would be a shame to see this well written (by Marc Andreyko), highly regarded (by its small but loyal fanbase and critics) series get canceled.

Look! Up on the IMAX screen! It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's Superman!

The IMAX cinema here in Halifax, Nova Scotia (where I'm on an extended business trip) is showing Superman Returns in 3D, so I decided to see it again.

After seeing it a second time, has my opinion of it changed? Yes, but only for the better. As much as I raved about how good it was after seeing it the first time, I liked it even better this time. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I was still on the edge of my seat. Familiarity didn't breed lack of interest. If anything, the anticipation of what was coming made it more exciting.

Good films hold up to more than one viewing. After reading some of the negative reviews of the film, I thought perhaps I missed something the first time, but, no, Superman Returns holds up on second viewing for me as well as it did on first viewing.

While only 20 minutes are 3D in the IMAX release, they're an awesome 20 minutes. It makes you feel like you're flying through the sky right next to the titular hero. They could have gone with more 3D effects, but director Bryan Singer was limited by how expensive it is to convert a non-IMAX, non-3D film to IMAX 3D. That said, just seeing it on a massive IMAX screen makes for an incredible viewing experience.