Quick review: Batman Chronicles-The Gauntlet

Batman Chronicles: The Gauntlet

By Bruce Canwell and Lee Weeks
I’ve been going through a Batman phase lately, grabbing DVDs of cartoons, purchasing rare collectibles and reading lots of material as well. There’s such a wealth of Batman material that it’s easy to miss out on something very special which is exactly what we have here in the Gauntlet.

The plot of the Gauntlet is relatively simple; a young Dick Grayson has been training secretly under Batman’s tutelage but before he can join the dark knight as his partner, he must undergo a test of skill. Alfred deposits Robin (in costume) in a random Gotham City location and it is Robin’s task to avoid Batman until sunrise. Since Batman knows the city inside and out this is no easy task, but the cocksure boy wonder feels he is up to the task. Unfortunately, he stumbles upon a mob killing and gets involved in a caper that soon sets the entire criminal underworld after him.

Boston native Bruce Canwell may seem like a strange name to some but for fans of Terry and the Pirates and other comic strips he is a legend for his editorial essays on the medium (as associate editor and lead writer for IDW Publishing’s Library of American Comics he has played an important role in the re-issues of several classic comic strip releases). A deft hand at plotting and action lends a higher than usual quality to this yarn that makes it feel timeless and classic all at once. A newcomer of sorts to the world of Batman, Canwell eases himself into the Bat Cave with ease, making all of the familiar trapping work splendidly without feeling contrived or post-modern as they often do.

I am a big fan of Lee Weeks, one of the finest of the modern comic book artists who has graced the Punisher, Daredevil, the Incredible Hulk and the astounding Cap Lives! with his line work. His skill at page layout and character design is fantastic and his cartooning ability is so amazing that one would think he was far older than he actually is (go seek out his work noted below).

Batman has been trying to bring down local crimeboss Joe Minett, but cannot connect him directly to any of his several criminal activities. When a GPD policeman is exposed as an undercover spy in their midst, Robin stumbles upon the gang’s attempt to silence him. Too late to save the cop’s life, he does manage to pick up a vital piece of evidence intended for Jim Gordan, a pack of erotic playing cards. Unknown to Robin, a hidden microdot has been secreted into the deck with enough information to put Minett away for a long time. Thinking little of it, Robin continues to evade Batman, leaving a trail of brilliant clues behind him in a playful game of cat and mouse. As Robin becomes the target of the mob, Batman is both frustrated and in awe at his protege’s ability to avoid his hunt. But the game becomes a brutal crossfire of death as dawn approaches and Robin discovers that this is no game at all but a gauntlet of survival.

A rare gem of Batman lore, the Gauntlet is a clever tale with plenty of moments of brilliance showing off Batman’s keen detective skills and of course a healthy dose of crime noir-style drama with real dyed in the wool gangster-types. It also shows off the character of the classic Robin as an intelligent crime fighter with his joyful take on crime-fighting juxtaposing the grim Batman’s attitude toward his never-ending war.

Make sure to bookmark Canwell’s blog as well as he is an authority on the comics scene and has many insightful posts on classic material.

Thanks must also go out to my good friend Greg Moutafis for suggesting this book to me.

Batman: The Gauntlet

Daredevil: The Fall of the Kingpin

Captain America, Vol. 4: Cap Lives

Secret Invasion: Captain Marvel

The search for alien intelligence bears bitter fruit in The Starmind Record

I have been following the development of 8 Sided Films for some time and even worked with Tennyson Stead on promoting another project still in development, “Sam Bailey.” A multi-media/multi-facted production company made up of extremely talented individuals, 8 Sided Films has created something very special with “The Starmind Record.”

Part 1 of 7

Expect a full review in the coming days, but in the meantime there is an official press release below:

“The Starmind Record” Blazes a Trail Through Social Media to Cinema

Oct 29, 2011
Audiences, critics, and festivals are embracing “The Starmind Record”, a new science-fiction web series from repertory film company 8 Sided Films. Where most successful web content puts a focus on cinematic production value, “The Starmind Record” is unique for adapting traditional dramatic principles to an online format.

In his blog, writer and director Tennyson E. Stead comments that “the work of the actors [in ‘The Starmind Record’] is as rich and complex, as terrifying and funny, as anything you could hope to see in an Oscar-winning production. ‘The Starmind Record’ may be the web series that finally shows people what this format is good for, and what it is capable of.”

“The Starmind Record” itself is the story of two documentary filmmakers from Los Angeles who discover and investigate the presence of an extra-terrestrial intelligence. By presenting the series as a documentary, the show follows other productions in sidestepping the issue of production value. What makes the show unique is the degree to which it plays to the strengths of the performers and the story behind it.

Those strengths are driving a growing online community that will carry 8 Sided Films into movie theaters, claims Stead:

“Over the last two years, working together to build our audience has yielded strong results… Right now, our focus is on producing microbudget films for limited theatrical release, as a stepping stone for a more global 8 Sided audience.”

Utilizing a group of creators, executives, and the principles of repertory theater, 8 Sided Films is building a social-media driven audience to propel theatrical cinema. Currently, their focus is on building viewership for “The Starmind Record,” in support for the production and theatrical distribution of a film now in development called Quantum Theory.

“In Quantum Theory, a defense contractor steals next-generation quantum technology. The two, you know, sassy post-doc geniuses who created it will literally have to change the world to get it back,” explains Stead.

Drawing on the cast of “The Starmind Record” and the writing and directing talents of Stead, Quantum Theory takes a pragmatic approach to social media.

“Branding can happen overnight. Building a community takes years, but that community is the only thing that trumps executive decision-making within the industry. Everyone wants steady ticket sales, so this is a filmmaker’s only path to true independence,” comments Stead. “Working by myself, I probably couldn’t pull something like this off… but there’s about ten of us. We can do it.”

Fans of “The Starmind Record” can look forward to seeing series star Charlotte Gallagher at the top of Quantum Theory’s cast list, where she will be joined by Starmind alums Danielle K. Jones, Ray Auxais, and Gerard Marzilli.

Watch “The Starmind Record” and learn about upcoming releases at the company’s website:
http://www.8sidedfilms.com

# # #

8 Sided Films represents stewardship over stories too multifaceted, specific, or unique for studio production, and our commitment to honoring that intent as the foundation for a more personal relationship with our audience.

Quick review: Stormwatch #1 & 2

Stormwatch #1 & 2

By Paul Cornell and Miguel Sepulveda

Back in the early days of the 21st Century, there was a massive revival in comic books that centered around specific individual creators such as Warren Ellis. A science fiction fan and a frequenter of less than savory establishments he concocted a new line of comics that were hip, lewd and brilliant all at once, using concepts that were laying around for ages and giving them new life. One of his best accomplishments was the Authority, a series that grew out of Stormwatch, a longstanding Wildstorm series about a secret group safeguarding humanity against insanely dangerous threats. The Authority was the evolution of this concept as a super-powered elite ruled over the planet and called the shots. It’s a good series, go buy it in bright shiny collections.

When the New 52 was announced, it soon came to be public knowledge that Paul Cornell would be steering Stormwatch into the DC Universe proper, bridging the mad inventive world that Ellis had crafted with the longest standing comic book characters ever. It’s all very exciting. A novelist and screenwriter from Doctor Who, Cornell is also well loved for his comic book contributions such as the astounding Captain Britain and MI-5 which was sadly canceled all too quickly. Cornell has a knack for humor, brilliance and action and this series seems to be the comic that he was always meant to write.

If everyone reading this buys a few copies, we can all reap the benefits and continue to read the most innovative and entertaining superhero adventure series ever.

That may be over-stepping a mark, but the unbridled joy in each of the issues currently on the stands is unmistakable. In a world populated by mad gods, super-powered aliens and rich playboy vigilantes, the entire operation is overseen by a man who meditates back to the dawn of creation and yearns for a pint… whatever that is. Both Stormwatch and Authority had a counter-culture theme to them that challenged the bored fanboys still buying the same material churned out by the big two by nature of habit. The Wildstorm series were rather garish at times, depicted their heroes being flawed in new ways and easily relateable in others. The characters were complex but never fully explained, leading to an inferred understanding of the roster. This in turn made them seem more real in a way and the dangers that they faced ranked higher.

Cornell spoke about infusing the ‘Wildstorm feel’ into the DCU with CBR.com:

To some extent, the mainstream superhero universes have caught up to where WildStorm was and have copied WildStorm a lot. And so it wasn’t that big a hop from one place to another, but at the same time we needed to find a schtick to hang that WildStorm atmosphere on. And what it ended up being was that the whole Authority arrogance is still in place for this Stormwatch – the sense of being better than and indifferent to the world, especially being better than superheroes. That’s what we’ve mutated that idea into. I think people were expecting it to be an awkward fit, but that lasted about a second upon contact with the issue. That’s great, and that’s #1 job done.

But I’m mainly interested in talking to new readers. I think that old readers will hopefully be satisfied naturally through the progression of the story, but new readers need a little attending to. So really it’s a question of “Are we telling a story in a very interesting way? What makes this different from all the other books?” I think we’ve got a different speed. We go hyper fast. There’s going to be – and people have noticed this, and it’s not going to change – regular catch-up captions at the top of each issue. There’s going to be people as unobtrusively as possible – but still pretty obtrusive because we’re not writing for the trade anymore but for single issues – saying “I am so-and-so, and this is what I do.” We’re making once again a comic that people can join at any issue. We expect people to join in on issue #3, and this is what it takes to find the mainstream audience again. You can buy issue #5 of “Stormwatch,” and it should be easy enough to just go from there, or you can buy the back issues if you like.

It’s an interesting brew all-in-all. It’s a very interesting time to be a comics writer. We’re changing everything very, very fast, and there’s a lot of people out there who haven’t read a comic in decades or at all who are reacting to this. Some of them don’t know how to read comics, or they aren’t used to the speed of the stories or just what’s going on. We’re here to make sure we catch those people as well, and that we come to suit them.

In the new Stormwatch series, readers will be reunited with old familiar characters such as the Engineer, Apollo, Midnighter and Jack Hawksmnoor, but there are some new faces in the mix. In addition to recreating the distinctive Warren Ellis folk, Cornell created a few new ones… and they familiar at once.

There’s a particular kind of character in the Warren Ellis universe. Warren Ellis superheroes in the WildStorm mold, I always say are kind of based in a Medieval cosmology. But that sort of takes a bit of unpacking. They come from what feels like a pre-scientific background. Jack Hawksmoor is the god of cities. But the way Warren plays it and with his SF background, it feels like we’re dealing with a science that we don’t understand at all. We can only understand it intuitively. There is some way in which Jack talks to and interacts with cities that we can’t understand, and the reader isn’t asked to understand it. So I wanted to create new characters who felt like that.

The Projectionist has an intimate relationship with all media, and she’s proving surprisingly popular. I ran a poll on my blog where she came in as the most popular of all the new characters, which was pretty surprising. Harry has much the same thing when it comes to swords and the business of blades. He is all about the blades in a conceptual way, and we’ll see more of that later on. So it was a bit about finding new characters who felt like Warren created them.

The pace of the series is intense to say the least and very catching as well. In the first issue alone the reader is introduced to the concept of a clandestine association of superheroes presiding over creation with members representing abstract concepts of reality dating back to the dawn of time. Then they deal with an attack from the moon while the most powerful being alive is recruited by Stormwatch and another character, the mysterious Midnighter.

We move very fast. The situation changes hugely in #2, 3, 4 and 5. These could almost be single-issue stories of a continued serial [rather than parts of an arc.] There’s an enormous, extreme science fiction menace straightaway, and the nature of that changes on the run very fast. With where our heroes end up, the reason this title is called what it is will be very clear by the end of the fist six issues. There’s quite a few reveals to come, and one of the lovely things about “Stormwatch” is how many surprises you can pull. There isn’t a status quo, really. Let’s just say that.

One of my favorite comics of all time is Peter Milligan’s “Shade, The Changing Man” where the entire idea of who Shade was, what he did and the format changed every few issues. We’re a little bit like that. The team largely and its feeling will be intact, but there are surprises every issue, and I’m very pleased with that. You’ll see what I mean when we get to issue #2. The experience you expect will be back every single issue, but every issue will be quite different.

Of course not all of the heroes of Stormwatch are from the Wildstorm universe as readers quickly realized. One member of the team is JLA/JLI regular the Martian Manhunter, behaving very differently to how we have seen him previously.

I like the fact that being a shape changer he can be what he likes when he likes. It’s nice to be able to say, “He’s not always the same thing, you know.” I think that being the last of a warrior race, he’d like to express his warrior-ness every now and then. And what I think is the best thing we’ve done is that before the book came out, everybody was going “How on earth could he possibly fit into that?” and once the first issue was out, they were saying, “Well, of course he fits into that. Job well done.” [Laughs] We always knew that was going to work because he does fit into the book.

(read the whole interview here)

Stormwatch was the first series of the new 52 that I picked up on recommendation and the first that really surprised me. Witty, urbane and always surprising, it should shape up to be the most unpredictable DC comic in the shelves.

Stormwatch #1 is sold out, but has gone into a second print (available at your local comic shop). It can also be downloaded at ComiXology.

Recommended:

StormWatch, Vol. 1: Force of Nature

Stormwatch, Vol 2: Lightning Strikes

Stormwatch, Vol.3 : Change Or Die

StormWatch Vol. 4: A Finer World

StormWatch Vol. 5: Final Orbit

The Absolute Authority

Quick review: Incredible Hulk #1

Incredible Hulk #1

Incredible Hulk #1 variant by Ladronn

By Jason Aaron and Marc Silvestri

The latest Hulk series has come to a close amid controversy and major success. A planet ruled by the Hulk brought in new readers while the red-skinned ‘replacement’ has been both embraced and rejected by fandom. Several multi-part stories and crossovers later and the monthly book starring Bruce Banner expired in a Hellish vision of destruction. It was quite a ride and will be difficult to top. The Hulk has an extremely devoted and passionate fanbase that does not shrink from making their opinions known. So how can a new ongoing series by a new creative team succeed?

The plan has been to introduce a new spin on an old idea by splitting up Hulk and Banner. In the coda of Fear Itself #7, Hulk expelled Banner from their union in some mysterious fashion that confused even his human self. Walking off to finally be left alone, Hulk trod into the distance in much the same manner as we had seen his puny alter ego several times over.

The new issue opens with Hulk living the life of a hero underground with the moloids (denizens of the deep often utilized by the Mole Man). Fighting savage monsters that would not look out of place on the distant planet Sakaar, Hulk shows some kind of pity and compassion for the creature, acknowledging that this is a somewhat somber and brooding persona of the Hulk, far more sophisticated that we usually see. He has also grown out his hair and is sporting a beard, confirming that some time has past since we last saw him in print.

Hulk by Marc Silvestri

Despite the accolades and devotion of the moloids, Hulk remains aloof and distant, refusing to take part in the revels celebrating his victories against the threats of the underworld. He knows that trouble is coming for him. The law of averages holds up this sentiment that trouble always finds him and this time is no different. Sure enough, as soon as Hulk lowers his guard and relaxes several high-powered mechanized attackers assault the dwelling along with a drilling machine that pierces their defenses.

After a few fists are thrown and machines smashed, one of the attackers sheds her armor to reveal that they are not here to hurt Hulk but ask for his help against something only he can defeat, Banner. In a far away jungle setting, generically modified creatures round up subjects for their master, the clearly insane Bruce Banner.

Even though I am a fan of the Hulk, I was reluctant to get invested in a new series. I enjoy Aaron’s writing on the whole and am a fan of Silvestri’s from his X-Men work back in the day, but… another Hulk comic? I wasn’t sold. The new issue is rather remarkable in that in a short number of pages it shakes up the status quot, shows us sides of Banner and Hulk we had not seen before and delivers the smashing action that readers long for.

The artwork by Silvestri is not to everyone’s taste and I can dig that. His linework is very scratchy and thin leading to a more cartoonish look that is far more abstract that many readers are used to. In my opinion, it suits the horror element perfectly and works with the mood quite well. It may look dated as well to some, but there’s a reason why Silvestri is a renowned artist and I think subsequent issues will prove why.

If you were holding out on this series because you were either unsure of a new take on the Hulk or just exhausted from over-exposure of the green goliath, you should give this a try. If you are a newcomer, this is a great jumping on point as it does not rely on any backstory (so far, anyway).

Quick review: Aquaman #1 & 2

Aquaman #1 & 2

By Geoff Johns and Ivan Reiss


The King of the Seven Seas traditionally gets no respect. Despite the fact that he is one of the longest lasting superheroes (first appearing in 1941) and acquiring a solo cartoon, a starring role in the Super Friends and the most downloaded pilot (un-optioned for a series) program on iTunes… he’s still the silly guy who talks to fish. This reputation holds true within and without the comic book realm.

Numerous attempts at reviving and ret-conning his origins and back-story only compounded the problem. Aquaman was not cool. Deep in the comic book consciousness there was a furtive mind at work. Geoff Johns, the man who re-lit Green Lantern’s lamp and taught Hawkman to fly again would bring new depths to the oceanic ruler. The hard part was not to approach the problem of Aquaman’s uncoolness in a direct way by making him edgy and violent but instead create a unique comic book that made readers look at the character in a new way.

In the first issue, Aquaman comes into dry land and thwarts a crime with the use of his massive trident. Proving his immense strength, he also braves wild gunfire and takes down the thugs with a solemn face. Even so, the cops on the spot can’t help but feel awkward around him. Does he need a drink of water? Is he drying up? No one is really sure how Aquaman’s abilities work or what he can do.

This continues to an unsuccessful lunch at a nearby seafood shack Aquaman had frequented with his dad as a young boy. An obnoxious blogger berates Aquaman with all sorts of stupid questions including how it must feel to be the most unpopular superhero. Disgruntled, Aquaman leaves… making the reader wonder if this series is a dry sort of sitcom instead of an action series. Outside, Aquaman and his wife Mera decide to renounce the throne of Atlantis and live among the land dwellers, taking up residence in the same lighthouse once owned by his father.

Meanwhile, strange creatures lurk beneath the waves, scenting food above.

The second issue sees Aquaman trying to introduce his wife Mera to his past life as a land dweller. Mera is charmed by the snapshots of ice skating and the like, but Aquaman is finding it difficult to connect to his human past as Arthur Curry. The reminiscence is cut short when a local policeman calls them to the docks where the unthinkable has taken place.

Right by the docks, people have been taken beneath the waves by the bizarre carnivorous creatures that scent food by spraying their targets with numbing venom. Aquaman and his bride give them a good fight but in the end it looks like Aquaman is up against a threat from the ocean that is alien to both humanity and himself… and he is powerless against it.

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about the new Aquaman series. I collected the previous run (where oh where are those collected editions?) and really enjoyed it despite the bizarre twists and turns that it took. I was gearing myself up for a soul-searching mini-series ala Flash: Rebirth or Green Lantern: Rebirth and frankly I’m happy that’s not what we have here. The series is still holding its cards close to its chest on where it will take Aquaman, but it is clear that this is a new path, one that does not involve the regal palaces of Atlantis and instead will chart a new path.

The artwork by Ivan Reiss is outstanding. Along with the Flash and Batwoman, this is possibly the most beautiful of DC’s new 52 books. The action is still slow coming and the plot seems to be taking its time getting started but I have high hopes that given time this could be an interesting take on Aquaman that should attract new readers.

Aquaman #1 has sold out in comic shops but can be purchased in second print and downloaded at ComiXology for your iPhone or Walkman or whatever you kids use these days.

Bryan Cranston on playing Batmans’ Jim Gordon- hard to be a saint in the city

Batman: Year One is often name-dropped as one of the best Batman comic book adventures. Developed by Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli, the four part monthly comic followed up after the massively successful Dark Knight Returns. In ‘Returns,’ Miller depicted an older bitter Bruce Wayne at the end of his time, fighting an impossible battle against the criminal element that refused to be pacified. In Year One, Miller gave readers a younger, inexperienced Wayne just returning from his travels around the globe (when he apparently studied martial arts, detective skills and all of the other traits he would utilize in his oncoming war).

Along with telling the beginning of Batman’s career, Year One was also a study of the one good cop in Gotham, James Gordon. Batman Year One as a comic book remains one of the finest character studies of the caped crusader and revitalized the comic book hero for a new generation. As an animated film, Year One is brutal and unrelenting. The streets of Gotham City are shown as being riddled with under-age prostitutes and crooked cops. Accompanying his pregnant wife, James Gordon finds that he is against a sea of vice so thick that he has to carve his way through with both hands.

To portray this pivotal part, DC Entertainment cast Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston. Cranston nearly steals the show as Gordon in a remarkable and unflinchingly harsh vision of neo-crime noir. The LA Times’ Hero Complex talked to the actor about the project and what it takes to vocalize such an iconic character in an amazing tale.

The latest direct-to-video animated film from Warner Home Video is “Batman: Year One,” an adaptation of the landmark 1980s comics that became a template for the Christopher Nolan version of Gotham City and its corrupt police department. Bryan Cranston, who has won three Emmys for his work on the AMC series “Breaking Bad,” stars as James Gordon, the cop who is trying to sort out his personal life and survive the mean streets of a city on the edge. The cast also includes Benjamin McKenzie as Bruce Wayne, Eliza Dushku as Selina Kyle and Katee Sackhoff as Det. Sarah Essen. Our Geoff Boucher caught up with Cranston to talk about the film, which is now on sale.

GB: Whether it’s in animation or in one of the live-action films, it seems like Gotham City is a must-visit place for character actors these days.

BC: Well, I went there last year on a vacation and it was so fun – dark, wonderful, they commit crimes without getting caught. But yes, there’s a lot of crime and terrible things going on in that city, so I thought, why not go and clean it up a little bit.

GB: You play James Gordon in this animated film. He’s a good cop in a bad city. Really, historically, it’s amazing he can hold on to his job with the crime rate in Gotham…

BC: Well, that’s why you need a guy like Jim Gordon, don’t you? You need to bring a guy like Jim Gordon in there. It’s like priests in Vegas –  that’s where they’re needed.

GB: The character of Jim Gordon has become a great one through the years. The corruption around him makes him an outsider but he has his own flaws and foibles, too, he’s no saint.

BC: I like the character. I like the writing of the script and that’s why I wanted to do it. He’s not morally pure. He’s morally ambiguous and he’s trying to find himself, and that always makes for a much more interesting character to play. Much more interesting than someone who has all the right answers. I also like the fact that the story comes from Jim Gordon’s point of view, it doesn’t come from the Batman’s point of view. I found that refreshing and actually more interesting. That kept the Batman character more mysterious. If we know too much about Batman he loses that wonderful sense of fantasy and mystery. So who do we follow? We follow the cop, who a lot of people can relate to. That gave me opportunities – not only in his dialogue and scenes and how he reacts to other characters — but also with his voiceover, which I saw as his thought process. So you’re able to convey intention that way, as well, so it was pretty rich and deep.

(read the entire interview at the LA Times)

Celebrate Women of Wonder Day

WOMEN OF WONDER DAY
Sunday, October 30, 2011

In October 2006-2010, the Wonder Woman Day I-V events raised over $110,000 for Domestic Violence programs in Portland, Oregon and Flemington, NJ. The five-year combination of auctions of over 1,100 original art pieces, plus collectibles, autograph signings, and photo opportunities garnered spectacular turnouts and four Mayoral Proclamations!

This year, the event will take on a new name and an expanded mission! On October 30, 2011, the new Women of Wonder Day — again as a part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month — will take place, returning to Excalibur Books in Portland, Oregon, and Comic Fusion in Flemington, New Jersey, as well as at Heroes and Fantasies in San Antonio, Texas!

100% of all monies raised goes to the designated 501(c)3 tax deductible charities!

The first Wonder Woman Day event was filmed for a half-hour documentary series, FANatical, shown on Canadian and Australian national television. Additionally, the event has been filmed for an upcoming worldwide documentary, The History of the Universe As Told By Wonder Woman.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Women Of Wonder Day – and its predecessor, Wonder Woman Day – was founded in 2006 by USA Today best-selling author and documentary director Andy Mangels.

For more information, please visit http://www.womenofwonderday.com

Deleted Captain America scenes and M.O.D.O.K.

With the arrival of Captain America: The First Avenger on DVD and Blu-ray this week, there’s plenty of buzz about cut scenes and plans for the upcoming sequel.

There is already talk about Sebastian Stan returning as Bucky Barnes, this time as a mind-controlled assassin named the Winter Soldier.

Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier

Also, there may be a team-up with the Falcon, one of Marvel’s high-flying African American crime-fighters.

A classic cover from Captain America and the Falcon

But the production team is most excited about the return of the evil Arnim Zola so wonderfully played by actor Toby Jones. The villainous scientist was a cohort of the Red Skull’s in the feature film, but in the comic book world, he was the guinea pig for a special experiment by a dastardly group called A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) to create the perfect killing machine. Bizarrely, this resulted in a massive floating head in a chair.

“There wasn’t a sequence with Master Man (one of Captain America’s classic villains) that ended up on the cutting room floor or anything,” laughed Markus. “But there was an endless array of scenes we could’ve drawn from, and may draw from in the future. I’m not being cryptic when I say that, either – I’m just being a comic book geek. For example, some day, whether it be in an ‘Iron Man’ movie or a ‘Captain America’ movie or any other Marvel movie, I want to see M.O.D.O.K. float down the hall.”

For those who aren’t familiar with Captain America’s rogues gallery, M.O.D.O.K. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing) is a recurring villain whose appearance is that of a gigantic head encased in a cybernetic suit with miniature arms and legs and rockets that propel it around. The character is a fan-favorite nemesis for Steve Rogers that debuted in a 1967 issue of Tales of Suspense and was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.

Asked whether M.O.D.O.K. really is the character they’re most looking forward to seeing on the big screen, the pair couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the giant, floating head facing off against the iconic supersoldier.

“Yeah, I’m voting M.O.D.O.K.,” laughed Markus.

“You know what? ‘Vote M.O.D.O.K.’ is a t-shirt I would wear,” agreed McFeely.

However, while M.O.D.O.K. was never actually included in their original “Captain America” script, there were a few classic villains that were planned for the first film, only to be removed in subsequent drafts. The pair previously revealed that evil despot Baron Zemo was in an early draft, but he wasn’t the only sinister side character in those versions of the script.

“Baron Strucker was in there for a while, but he wasn’t doing enough to justify wasting him in the film,” said McFeely. “We certainly tried things, and ended up settling on the more useful Red Skull and Arnim Zola.”

“But they’re all still on the table,” he teased.

Finally, the pair offered up some insight regarding one particular character who did make the cut, and was introduced in a nice tip of the hat to his incarnation in the comics world.

In the comics world, Captain America villain Arnim Zola often appears as a large, humanoid robot with a large monitor in his chest that depicts Zola’s face. In the film, actor Toby Jones plays Arnim Zola, who is first seen in the film staring through a large lens – a nice nod to his comics counterpart.

“That was in the first draft, too,” said McFeely of the comics-friendly angle to Zola’s introduction. “As soon as we knew it was going to be Zola, we wanted to make sure his intro was on a screen like that.”

“We wanted to tip our hat to his later incarnation without including it in the film, because when you have a guy with a red skull for a head who’s supposed to be the most horrifying thing in the story, you can’t have a robot man walking around,” laughed Markus. “So yeah, Zola had to be a person in this movie.”

“Captain America: The First Avenger” arrives on DVD and Blu-Ray this Tuesday, October 25.
(Via IFC)

Captain America: The First Avenger (Three-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy)

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America / Captain America II: Death Too Soon

Captain America (1990)

Star Wars The Clone Wars: Darkness on Umbara preview

Official press release below:


Star Wars: The Clone Wars returns this week with the launch of an explosive four-part story arc that puts the clone troopers on the ground of a hostile alien planet while under the command of a ruthless general, Jedi Pong Krell.

Tensions run high as the clones carry out Krell’s difficult orders and embark on the deadly mission to take the capital of Umbara in “Darkness on Umbara,” a new episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, airing at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT Friday, October 28th on Cartoon Network.

This week at your comic shop – 10/26/2011

For the complete list of this week’s comics, click here.

Not sure where your local comic shop is? Try comicshoplocator.com!

(note: all information including ad copy is from the publisher)


If you can’t make it to the shop, just click on any of the images below to be taken to an online retailer. I don’t get any referrals for these sales, I’m just doing my bit to spread the word on some neat products.

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Classic Marvel Characters #2: The Hulk

Classic Marvel Characters #2: The Hulk
The 1960s brought a cultural upheaval in music and art, with a host of new icons entering the scene: The Beatles, Andy Warhol, and of course, Marvel Comics, led by a host of characters that redefined modern comic books. Now, these characters will appear just as they did then, in a new line of collectible statuettes from Dark Horse Deluxe.

Beginning in September 2011 with Spider-Man, the program continues with October’s release of the Hulk.

Incredible Hulk #1

Incredible Hulk #1
Marvel Architect Jason Aaron joins forces with legendary artist Marc Silvestri to redefine the Hulk in an all new ongoing series.

After the events of Fear Itself, the Hulk has gone into hiding, seemingly safe from a world that hates and fears him. But when government agents come knocking at his door, the Hulk has no choice but to return to war against the one man whose existence threatens the safety of every living creature on the Earth. The one man who’s existence could doom the Hulk himself. And that man is Bruce Banner. Now separated into two men, the Hulk and Banner exist worlds apart but one climactic battle will bring them face to face againóand leave the Marvel Universe shaking in its wake.
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Toon Tumblers Doctor Doom Clear Pint Glass

Toon Tumblers Doctor Doom Clear Pint Glass
Available for the first time available in PREVIEWS are these clear versions of three of PopFun’s best selling ‘Toon Tumblers pint glasses featuring Marvel’s biggest heroes, like Iron Man, Captain America, and the Avengers! Please note: these glasses are clear, not frosted. Not for sale or distribution in California.
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Justice League By Lee T-Shirt

Justice League By Lee T-Shirt

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FF #11

FF #11
Written by JONATHAN HICKMAN Penciled by BARRY KITSON Covers by STEVE EPTING ISSUE #11 – A Galactic Empire is born as the war of Four Cities comes to a close. What does it mean for Marvel’s First Family?
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DC Comics Presents Jack Kirby Omnibus Sampler #1

DC Comics Presents Jack Kirby Omnibus Sampler #1
Written by Various Art by JACK KIRBY and others Cover by JACK KIRBY
With the JACK KIRBY OMNIBUS VOL. 1 – STARRING GREEN ARROW HC on the way, DC presents this selection of Kirby mystery stories from the 1950s, pulled from the pages of HOUSE OF SECRETS #3, 8 and 12, HOUSE OF MYSTERY #76, TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED #13, 1 and 24 and MY GREATEST ADVENTURE #15, 16 17, 20 and 21, plus a Green Arrow tale from ADVENTURE COMICS #251!
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Dagar the Invincible Archives HC Volume 1

Dagar the Invincible Archives HC Volume 1
By: Don F. Glut, Jesse Santos
In a time when gods and demons walked the earth as men, a young warrior raises his sword to the skies and declares defiance! Dagar the Invincible is a hero of blade and sandal, and Dark Horse Books uncovers the exciting legend of his journey through the ancient, mystical world! The first of two volumes in this archival series introduces Dagar and tales of his quest, originally published by Gold Key Comics in the 1970s. Collects Dagar the Invincible #1-#9.

* Classic series from writer Donald F. Glut!

* Featuring the extraordinary art of comics legend Jesse Santos!
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Daredevil #5

Daredevil #5
Written by MARK WAID Pencils & Cover by MARCOS MARTIN Variant Cover by BRYAN HITCH THE DEATH DEFYING DEBUT OF MARCOS MARTIN!
One honest man — just one — exists in the vast criminal corporation known as Roxxon Oil, and Daredevil has to find him before a nightmarish disaster claims the entire Eastern Seaboard! Can DD get to him in time–or will this issue’s surprise villain get to him first?
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Green Lantern New Guardians #2

Green Lantern New Guardians #2
Written by TONY BEDARD Art by TYLER KIRKHAM, HARVEY TALIBAO and BATT Cover by TYLER KIRKHAM and BATT
By their rings betrayed! Who – or what – has the might to tear power rings from each of the seven Lantern Corps, murdering their former bearers in the process? And why have the rings all chosen Kyle Rayner as their new master? As members of each Corps target Kyle for death, we learn more about the shocking fate of Ganthet!

Green Lantern 1:10 Scale Model Kit

Green Lantern 1:10 Scale Model Kit
A brand-new Aurora-style kit, starring one of DC Comics’ most popular characters! Imagine if Aurora produced a Green Lantern kit to go with their line of DC Comics kits back in the 1960’s. We think this is close to what they would have done! Retro-style packaging, box art by Terry Beatty, and in scale with other Aurora comic kits make this the perfect addition to any plastic builders collection! Paint and glue needed for final assembly, recommended for ages 15 and up.

Green Lantern Character Apron

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Mighty Thor #7

Mighty Thor #7
By: Matt Fraction, Pasqual Ferry
The critical Fear Itself prequel that couldn’t be told until now! Discover the true story behind the Serpent & Odin’s past!
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Flash #2

Flash #2
Written by FRANCIS MANAPUL and BRIAN BUCCELLATO Art and cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL Variant cover by GREG CAPULLO 1:200 B&W variant cover by FRANCIS MANAPUL
The Fastest Man Alive learns he can make his brain function even faster than before – but as much as it helps him, it also comes with a steep price. Plus: The mystery behind Barry Allen’s friend Manuel Lago deepens as Barry investigates his kidnapping at the hands of Mob Rule!

Flash II Logo T-Shirt

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Iron Man Im Retro Sign Mocha T-Shirt

Iron Man Im Retro Sign Mocha T-Shirt____________________________________________________________________

All New Batman The Brave And The Bold #12

All New Batman The Brave And The Bold #12
Written by SHOLLY FISCH Art by ETHEN BEAVERS Cover by RICK BURCHETT and DAN DAVIS
Batman and Zatanna have to take a walk on the weird side if they’re going to solve a break in at The House of Mystery! Before you can say ‘boo,’ some of the spookiest bad guys around come knocking – and they’re not looking for treats!
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Savage Hawkman #2

Savage Hawkman #2
Written by TONY S. DANIEL Art and cover by PHILIP TAN
When the alien creature known as Morphicius starts draining the life force from Carter Hall, a.k.a. Hawkman, he learns that there’s more to his new victim than meets the eye. The mysterious properties of the Nth Metal protect Hawkman – but in the process, they are also making Morphicius powerful! With innocent lives in the balance, can Hawkman turn the table on his enemy, or are Morphicius newfound powers too powerful to stop?
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Kirby Genesis #4

Kirby Genesis #4
By: Kurt Busiek, Alex Ross, Jackson Herbert
Who – or what – are The Primals? As Kirby – trapped on the Phantom Continent with Reptar and Thunderfoot – battles the Life-Eaters to understand, alliances are made back in the United States: Alliances of heroes, as Silver Star, Captain Victory, the Glory Knights and Galaxy Green come together.

And alliances of villains, as Roag, the Lightning Lady, Sundance and Darius Drumm make a devil’s bargain.

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Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep HC Vol. 06 (of 6)

Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep HC Vol. 06 (of 6)
(W) Philip K. Dick (A) Tony Parker Worldwide bestselling science fiction writer Philip K. Dick’s award-winning Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? has been called ‘a masterpiece ahead of its time, even today,’ and served as the basis for the film Blade Runner. BOOM! Studios is honored to present the complete novel transplanted into the graphic novel medium, mixing all new panel-to-panel continuity with the actual text from the novel in an innovative, groundbreaking series. Don’t miss this final jaw-dropping volume!
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Superman #2

Superman #2
Written by GEORGE PEREZ Breakdowns and cover by GEORGE PEREZ Art by JESUS MERINO
The all-new adventures of Superman continue! Everyone can see the new villain who’s attacking Superman – except The Man of Steel! How can he stop a threat that none of his super-senses can detect? Meanwhile, a Daily Planet reporter starts digging up some dirt on Superman, including a secret that could ruin him forever!

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All Star Western #2

All Star Western #2
Written by JUSTIN GRAY and JIMMY PALMIOTTI Art by MORITAT and JORDI BERNET Cover by MORITAT
What happens when a psychologist and a sociopath have to work together to track down Gotham City’s first serial killer? They’ll soon find that crime in the big city runs deeper than its foundations, and it’s all mapped out in the mysterious Crime Bible – that is, if they don’t kill each other first. Plus: No zombie is safe in the Wild West when Lazarus Lane summons the demon known as El Diablo!
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Venom #8

Venom #8
By: Rick Remender, Tom Fowler
Flash Thompson has suffered a terrible loss, just when his Venom persona is needed to protect New York City the most! The Infestation’s architects have gained an unimaginable edge and Venom must go head-to-head with the Spider-King!

With a broken heart and the fate of New York on his shoulder, well, folks you’ve heard it before but after this, trust us, Venom’s world can never be the same again! By Rick Remender (X-FORCE) and Tom Fowler (AGE OF HEROES).
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Superman Batman Sorcerer Kings HC

Superman Batman Sorcerer Kings HC
In these tales from issues #78-84, Superman and Batman must fight magical forces from the past and future. Guest-starring Dr. Occult, Detective Chimp, Klarion and a horde of Solomon Grundys!This title collects
Issues #778-84
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Turok, Son of Stone Archives Volume 9 HC

Turok, Son of Stone Archives Volume 9 HC
By: Paul Newman, Alberto Giolitti, Rex Maxon
Join Turok and Andar in their fight against swarms of carnivorous gliding reptiles, fish-riding cavemen, burning black swamp waters, and herds of killer “honkers”! Turok, Son of Stone is man versus beast at its best! Stranded in a lost valley filled with dinosaurs, primitive men, and more strange beasts and beings, two Indian braves struggle to survive.

* This volume collects issues #51-#53, #55-#56, and #58-#59 of Turok, Son of Stone from Gold Key Comics.
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Batman The Dark Knight #2

Batman The Dark Knight #2
Written by DAVID FINCH and PAUL JENKINS Art by DAVID FINCH and RICHARD FRIEND with JAY FABOK Cover by DAVID FINCH and RICHARD FRIEND
Something sinister surges through Arkham Asylum, and Batman finds himself bombarded by his greatest foes in this second sensational issue from superstar creator David Finch! Bigger, meaner, and more powerful than ever before, the inmates of Arkham Asylum run rampant as the entire Bat Family struggles to keep the walls from falling down, unleashing Gotham City’s worst criminals on the unsuspecting population. And you won’t believe the jaw-dropping final page! Just keep repeating, ‘It’s only a comic book. It’s only a comic book…’

Batman Black And White Statue David Finch

Batman Black And White Statue David Finch
From the writer and artist of the new DC ongoing series BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT! The next Batman Black & White statue is an original design for DC Direct! This cold-cast porcelain statue measures approximately 6.5″ high x 6.75″ wide x 5.25″ deep, is painted in monochromatic tones, features a Bat-logo-shaped base and is packaged in a black and white box. Limited edition.
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G.I. Joe Omnibus TPB Vol. 01

G.I. Joe Omnibus TPB Vol. 01
Chuck Dixon, Brian Reed (w) o Robert Atkins, S L Gallant, Joe Suitor (a) o Dave Johnson (c) If knowing is half the battle, then you’d better be sure to get a hold of G.I. JOE Omnibus, Vol. 1 to learn all about IDW’s original G.I. JOE tales. With powerhouse Chuck Dixon on writing duties and talented artists like Robert Atkins and S L Gallant on art, the continuing tales of the JOEs discovering and squaring off against COBRA leaps off the page and grabs you by the throat! Includes G.I. JOE issues #0-13 and the HELIX one-shot.
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Jack Kirbys Galactic Bounty Hunters TPB

Jack Kirbys Galactic Bounty Hunters TPB
(W) Lisa Kirby, Steve Robertson (A) Mike Thibodeaux Meet the Berkleys, your typical suburban California family. But when young Garrett Berkley discovers his parents’ secret – that the science-fiction stories his father writes aren’t fiction at all, but autobiography – he’s blasted into a whole new universe of adventure, mystery and danger. Now, Jack Berkley must put down his pen, reassemble his old team and take up the mantle of being a Galactic Bounty Hunter for one final mission! Collecting Jack Kirby’s Galactic Bounty Hunters #1-6.
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Red Wing #4 (of 4)

Red Wing #4 (of 4)
A PLUS! Project story JONATHAN HICKMAN art / cover NICK PITARRA & RACHELLE ROSENBERG
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Aquaman #2

Aquaman #2
Written by GEOFF JOHNS Art and cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
The red-hot creative team behind BLACKEST NIGHT and BRIGHTEST DAY reunite! An entire townÖ devoured! As Aquaman and Mera discover the grisly truth behind a town’s disappearance, the Trench infestation spreads inland! Plus: Another gruesome Trench power revealed – and it’s not for the squeamish!

Young Justice 4-1/4 Inch Aquaman/Aqualad Action Figure 2-Pack

Young Justice 4-1/4 Inch Aquaman/Aqualad Action Figure 2-Pack
The next generation of heroes of the DC Universe star in the new animated series Young Justice, and these action figure 2-packs feature the young heroes and their illustrious mentors!Made in the same style as the Justice League Unlimited figures, the Young Justice figures will bring the excitement of the DC Universe into your collection! Choose from Robin/Batman, Aqualad/Aquaman, Kid Flash/Flash, and Cheshire/Ra’s al Ghul.
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Steve Ditko Angry Apes N Leapin Lizards SC

Steve Ditko Angry Apes N Leapin Lizards SC
(W) Steve Ditko Steve Ditko’s Angry Apes ‘n’ Leapin’ Lizards collects the artwork produced by Steve Ditko for Charlton Comics during the time of his tenure on Amazing Spider-Man, including science-fiction and fantasy work, with guest appearances by Gorgo and Konga. Theakstonized for maximum reproduction.____________________________________________________________________

Doctor Who Char Building Dalek Army 5pk

Doctor Who Char Building Dalek Army 5pk
Imported from the UK! Exterminate! The Daleks were born without the ability to feel compassion or pity, and they are motivated only by hate, fear, and an implacable belief that they are the most superior creatures in the universe. Recreate epic battles with the Eleventh Doctor or build your own army of Daleks with this 5-pack of Dalek minifigs for the Doctor Who Character Building sets!
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Doctor Who Char Building Cyberman Army 5pk

Doctor Who Char Building Cyberman Army 5pk
Imported from the UK! Delete! Once the Cybermen were human, but they gradually replaced their weak mortal flesh with metal and plastic. In the process, they lost their compassion along with their other emotions. Cybermen seek to ‘delete’ all who stand in their way, and they can electrocute with just a touch. Build your army of Cybermen for your Doctor Who Character Building sets with this pack of 5 fully-articulated minifigs.
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Absolute All Star Superman HC New Printing

Absolute All Star Superman HC New Printing
Written by GRANT MORRISON Art and Cover by FRANK QUITELY Now back in print! The Eisner Award-winning 12-issue series from Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely is available in Absolute format! The Man of Steel battles Bizarro, Zibarro and more before facing the final revenge of Lex Luthor. Plus: a bonus sketchbook section and more!
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Avengers Solo #1 (of 5)

Avengers Solo #1 (of 5)
Written by JEN VAN METER with JIM MCCANN Penciled by ROGER ROBINSON Cover by JOHN TYLER CHRISTOPHER Movie Variant also available THE ARROWED AVENGER RETURNS! When a stranger lies dead at the Avengers’ doorstep, Hawkeye won’t let his world be implicated in a grisly murder. But what seems to be a simple murder gives way to a gruesome conspiracy – one Hawkeye can’t walk away from – and one that involves…The Trapster?! Jen Van Meter (BLACK CAT) and Roger Robinson (Batman: Gotham Knights) bring Hawkeye with a vengeance! Also, Hank Pym and the class of Avengers Academy leave the school behind for a mystery too fantastic to believe, by Jim McCann (NEW AVENGERS: THE REUNION) and Andrea Divito (NOVA)
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I Vampire #2

I Vampire #2
Written by JOSHUA HALE FIALKOV Art by ANDREA SORRENTINO Cover by JENNY FRISON
True love becomes divine hatred between the Queen of Blood and Andrew, as her vampires begin their attacks across the country. Their past behind them, they find themselves ready to battle to the death… If those feelings really are all gone. Surrounded by swarms of bloodthirsty vamps, Andrew must confront his immortal beloved in a blood-soaked battle he can’t win.