The Best Comic Book News of 2006

It's not anything new, having been all over the various news sites for awhile, but now it's really official.

This month's Previews is soliciting Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1, written by Joss Whedon, on sale March 7. This should be interesting, now that there are literally hundreds of slayers around in the world, "kicking some serious undead butt," as the Previews ad copy reads. I don't have time to watch too many DVDs, so I don't spend a lot of money on them, but Buffy is the only TV series I've ever considered buying the complete set.

I'll be camping out at my comics store for this one.


The Real Justice League on TV

Have you seen the old Justice League of America pilot that never aired? I was able to come across it a while back, and it's corny.

This clip of The Flash, Green Lantern, Fire, Ice, The Atom, and Martian Manhunter pieced together from parts of the show and set to the animated Justice League theme actually makes it look cooler than it actually was.

In contrast, I was going to talk about the previews at the end of the last Smallville, but as luck would have it, that was also uploaded to YouTube, so I've posted it here. A different set of heroes: Superman, The Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, and Green Arrow (though most of them don't go by those names, yet). This episode should air sometime in January. I'm looking forward to this one.


Comic Book Movie Podcasts

I've recently started listening to Comic Book Podcasts - there are a number out there with different formats and different tones. But out of all the podcasts I've listened to, I'd have to say the best is The Acme Comics Dollar Bin. What got me started listening was a three-part series they had on Comic Book Movies (go figure); but what got me hooked was the dynamic of these 4 guys sitting around in a comic book store talking about comics, the comic book industry, and anything else that comes up. Yes, they're knowledgeable, but the best part is they are freakin' hilarious. They've got varying personalities and differing opinions; whether or not you agree with what they're saying, they're just completely enjoyable. I've listened to a lot of different comic podcasts recently, and I've found these guys to be the most interesting.

If nothing else, take a listen to the fun they have with the last 30 years of comic book films.


Marvel Comics meets iTunes

Just read an article on Marvel.com talking about the soundtracks for Ultimate Avengers, Ultimate Avengers 2, and Invincible Iron Man on iTunes.

I still haven't had a chance to see these, but the soundtracks sound pretty good - they actually made me more interested in seeing the movies. To me, the choirs in the background always add to the instrumental music. (Though I haven't yet downloaded the entire soundtracks - just sampled the previews on iTunes.)

The article goes on to say that the soundtrack for the Dr. Strange animated movie will be up before the DVD is released.

If you want to look for them in iTunes, it seemed like the easiest way to find them is to search on the titles themselves or search on the composer, Guy Michelmore.

On a side note, I also happened across a Gregg Bendian jazz CD entitled Requiem for Jack Kirby, released in April of 2005. The songs, inspired by Kirby's work, offer some interesting and haunting tunes. Look it up if you're a Kirby fan or are into jazz.


Art School Confidential (2006) mini review

based on a comic

Based on his somewhat autobiographical comic, Daniel Clowes presents this Terry Zwigoff-directed view into the life of a freshman art student who just wants to be the greatest artist of the 21st century.

Jerome is disillusioned. He is disillusioned by pretentious wannabes, art school failures, talentless professors, and the commercialization of it all. And he is after Audrey, the girl he can't have. Ah, to be young and lost. Okay, maybe I wasn't in art school, but we all remember a time of being frustrated with life - hopeless, and wandering. Sometimes it's more recent than we care to admit. Art School Confidential captures that disillusionment and frustration. It explores the struggle of art versus commerce. And lets not forget the murder mystery. Though I'm not sure that part was autobiographical.

Art School Confidential is an enjoyable coming of age film. It features such names as John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi (Ghost World), and Angelica Houston. Other actors include Sophia Myles (From Hell), Jim Broadbent (Superman IV), Ethan Suplee (Chasing Amy), and Lauren Lee Smith (Blade, Mutant X). Keep in mind that this is college, and it's Zwigoff and Clowes (who teamed up previously for Ghost World). As Clowes has said, "I can't censor myself." It's a comic book movie, but it's not for the kids.

See it if you can relate to the adolescent angst involved with being young and can handle the material.

Don't see it if you've got a family comic-book film in mind or if independent films (or comics) aren't your thing.


Stardust Comics

I was so excited when the postman knocked on our door yesterday and dropped off Neil Gaiman's entire Stardust mini-series that I bought on eBay. It was re-listed in last month's Previews for $19.99, but I was able to get the entire run for less than the price of the original comics and less than the price of the trade.

I was, however, a little disappointed to find out it's not drawn in the normal graphic novel or comic style, but is more an illustrated prose series.

I'm sure I'll enjoy it, but I'm not sure I'd call it a graphic novel (even if it is under the Vertigo DC imprint).


Comicdom Goes Web 2.0

Wednesday, ComicSpace was launched. It's being described as MySpace for comics folks. From the FAQ: ComicSpace is a place for comic fans and creators to connect with each other.

Apparently, it had over 1,000 members 24 hour after going live, and the membership really shot up when Warren Ellis mentioned it at his site. At the time of this writing there are over 3,000 members.

I never joined MySpace; I figured Blogger was enough social networking for me. But, I'll have to take a look at this.

Check it out.

Thanks to Levon.

More Comic Book Prequels

My previous discussion revolved around movies that had comic book prequels; but this time, it's a series of books.

Marvel Previews is soliciting (for release in February), the first of a mini-series prequel to Stephen King's popular Dark Tower novels. The mini will be titled Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born and will run seven issues. It's being written by Peter David and Robin Furth, and is actually being overseen by King.

King's series started in the 80's with a number of short stories, and has grown to 7 complete novels, the last being published in 2004. After reading a little about them, I'm tempted to pick up the comic mini and read the original books. I haven't read a lot of King's stuff, but I have read a few of his books, and have always enjoyed his writing style and the way it sucks you in. Not being familiar with the stories, they appear to lie in a Fantasy/Western sort of genre, but based on what I've read, that's probably too narrow. The Marvel Previews blurb starts out:

"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." With those words, millions of readers were introduced to Stephen King's Roland - an implacable gunslinger in search of the enigmatic Dark Tower, powering his way through a dangerous land filled with ancient technology and deadly magic.

It wasn't necessarily this note that peaked my interest, but after reading the Wikipedia article, and looking at King's Dark Tower web site, I'm definitely interested. Apparently, King based the books on an 1855 Robert Browning poem, and was heavily influenced by The Good, the Bad & the Ugly and The Lord of the Rings.

I think I'll be picking this one up.


The Forbes (Fictional) 15

Forbes has released it's list of 15 richest fictional people, which includes 3 from the comic book world: Richie Rich, #4; Bruce Wayne, #7; and Tony Stark, #8.

Lex Luthor dropped off the list this year due to (another) "failed attempt to take over the world [and] kill Superman with [a] giant robot." Guess I haven't been following the Superman comics.

Thanks to Marvel News.


Remember Mego?

I can still remember my Mego Batman and Robin - that was almost 30 years ago.

Mark Engblom from Comic Coverage shared a great vintage Mego video from YouTube. It's hilarious. I'll let you read Mark's commentary, but suffice it to say that the commercial's creators didn't know much about comics (or political correctness).


My Favorite Soundtracks

One of the greatest soundtracks of all time has got to be Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. The Main Title is haunting.

Shirley Walker is the amazing composer responsible for the score. Sadly, according to ShirleyWalker.filmmusic.com, she passed away yesterday from a brain aneurism she had suffered the night before.

Thanks to SuperHeroHype.


Back in Black

That's the catch-phrase for the upcoming Spider-Man books, according to this month's Marvel Previews. Apparently, Spidey's symbiotic suit is making a comeback. All of the Spider-Man titles in February will feature the black suit, including:
  • Amazing Spider-Man #539
  • Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #17
  • Sensational Spider-Man #35
  • Spider-Man Family #1
Hmmmm...could it be merely coincidence that this run with the black suit will coincide with the movie release of Spider-Man 3 that will introduce millions of film-goers to the black suit and to Venom?


Another Crappy Sequel

From Rich Johnson, in Lying in the Gutters (Comic Book Resources) last Monday:

I understand that Warners are looking for writers and treatments for a proposed "V For Vendetta" direct-to-DVD sequel projects to be filmed, low budget, in the UK next year. Naturally without the Wachowskis or Joel Silver who made a point of saying the original movie was a one off.

No, they haven't approached Alan Moore, why do you ask?

Will it be called V4V2?

Once again, we learn that the almighty dollar is much more important than art. Well, we all knew that, but why is it even more important than putting together a quality product? That's just good business.

Thanks to Comics2Film.


The (Annotated) Guiding Light

If you have any interest in seeing the Marvel crossover episode of the The Guiding Light, stop reading here as this is spoiler-filled.

I've never sat through a complete episode of a soap opera (unless you count Smallville, which my wife is continually comparing to a soap), and it's likely I never will again (unless, maybe, they pull another stunt like this).

Just to give you an idea of the great writing that plagues these shows, here's an exchange between the doctor and husband shortly after a main character gets electrocuted. She's lying unconscious on a gurney.
Doctor: She's got no breath; she's got no pulse. Nothing.
Concerned Husband: Is she going to be okay?
Doctor: She's doing fine.

Maybe I just watch too much House, but with my limited medical experience, I thought no breath and no pulse meant you were dead. Apparently, in Soap Opera Land, it means you're okay. (Well, I'll give you that Comic Book Land has its share of characters that are dead but end up alive and walking around a few issues later.)

The premise of the episode is that Harley Cooper accidentally gets electrocuted by some Halloween decorations, and develops super hearing, super speed, super strength, electrical "shocking" powers, and the ability to "supercharge machinery". I think she even phased through a ceiling at one point. Soon after she discovers she has the abilities, she is talking to her father who says, "People are in the dark, searching for a light to guide them." Suddenly, she is the superhero, Guiding Light.

The episode actually does a decent job of trying to blend a comic book feel with the show. Rather than the normal intro to the show (I taped the next day's show just to check), the opening credits show all the characters drawn comic-book style. There's even updated superhero music for the intro. Rather than the expected fade-to-a-commercial-focused-on-someone's-intense-face, the scene fades to a comic book panel before each commercial, and after each commercial, the show starts back with comic panels introducing the scene. Comic panels are even interspersed with live action to tell the story.

But that's about all it does well. The requisite bad superhero puns abound: "You look like you could use some enlightenment;" or "Don't look so shocked." The acting is just sad. The stunts and special effects are silly. And what's with those eyes? Even the comic book references are forced. Even before she gets super powers, there are a number of references:

  • "...battle the forces of evil."
  • "This costume won't be ready for fighting crime."
  • Husband: You can't save the world. Harley: I can try.
  • "Super powers. Ha."
  • While chasing off some Halloween pranksters: "You evil-doers!"

But that's just the beginning. There are a number of Marvel-specific references. Superheroes don't actually interact with these characters for the show - that was saved for the backstory contained in the Marvel comics - but there are a ton of references made.
  • Title of the episode: She's a Marvel
  • One of the (two) kids is wearing a Captain America costume.
  • "Do you think Iron Man and Captain America need reading glasses?"
  • In the background of one scene, the marquis on a building reads "Marvel Comics Convention".
  • When asked if he thinks this superhero thing is for real, a detective responds: "Yeah, why don't I just call Spider-Man. He's on my speed dial. Right above the Incredible Hulk and the Easter Bunny."
  • After getting bored with the whole crime-fighting gig (after a day), the main character says to the bartender (who happens to be reading an X-Men comic), "I wonder if the Fantastic Four ever gets tired of putting away the bad guys."

It was an interesting idea, but I don't think I'll be adding the show to my DVR line-up.

For more info, Comic Book Resources has a good article: Behind the Scenes of the Marvel/"Guiding Light" Crossover, and CBS even has a couple short behind-the-scenes videos (Marvel Meets Guiding Light and Marvel Special Effects and Stunts).


Cartoon Network Notes

Good news if you missed Hellboy: Sword of Storms. It will be shown again on December 9 at 9/8 Central. Set your DVRs! (Now's your chance, Bones!)

I guess Fantastic Four has been pulled from Cartoon Network's lineup. No great loss there. It wasn't bad, and I was recording it, but I wasn't overly impressed. Plus, for some reason, I ended up missing half the episodes. First of all, it never got the episode right (if it actually recorded Fantastic Four, it was a different episode than the guide said it recorded), and second, half the time it recorded a completely different show. Either Cartoon Network couldn't get their schedule right or the Comcast DVR guide wasn't following what CN was doing.

From Comics Continuum. Thanks to Comics2Film.


Season 8 of Buffy is on!

Well, not on television, but at least in the comics.

It's been rumoured; it's been talked about; but Joss Whedon has recently confirmed with Entertainment Weekly that there will be a Season 8. I'm assuming that's with Dark Horse, who's published Buffy in the past.

I was thinking that Season 8 would have to tie in to the last season of Angel (since some of the characters appeared in the show), but IDW Publishing has the rights to Angel and Spike, and are publishing their comics, so Whedon says that the interaction will be kept to a minimum.

Check out the link to Entertainment Weekly, above, for a few preview panels.

Thanks to Comic Book Resources


Will It Never Die?

Appearing at the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention will be Special Effects Creator Extraordinaire Stan Winston, comic book writer and artist Howard Chaykin, and none other than Major Victory from Who Wants to Be a Superhero?

And he's charging for autographs. Yeah...I'm sure those will be selling on eBay like hotcakes. I don't know - could Stan Lee publicize someone who could make comic books and superheroes look any more stupid?
Thanks to Comic Book Resources



I guess I'm just way behind the times. When I recently read in Marvel Previews that they would be publishing a XIII graphic novel, I just assumed that it was based on the Ubisoft game, XIII. Little did I know that it was a Franco-Belgian comic book released in 1984. If you're not familiar with the game, it was released in 2003 and has the most amazing comic-book look to it; and it's one of the most fascinating first-person shooters I've ever played. The animation has an inked comic look; the text is in word balloons; there are comic book sound effects. The game is extremely playable and the comic-book feel just adds to the fun. The game (and apparently the comic) starts with the main character waking up on a beach with amnesia, only to find out he's being hunted by thugs and is wanted for the murder of the President of the United States. The drama intensifies from there.

Apparently, there were 18 volumes originally published in the series, and the game only covers the first 5. The Marvel Comics release (actually published by Dabel Brothers, distributed by Marvel) is of the first volume, Day of the Black Sun. This first volume is 144 pages and will be going for $14.99. I guess I better decide soon if I'm going to have Kim at my comic book store order it for me.


Free Comics!

No, it's not free comic book month, but DC Comics announced Friday that a number of TPBs of early story arcs of many of its Vertigo titles are available for download. Titles include Swamp Thing, Hellblazer, Fables, Y: The Last Man, Sandman, Transmetropolitan, and The Exterminators just to name a few.

Pretty smart marketing. I think some of these titles aren't being published any more, but a number of them are, and it's a perfect way to readers hooked on a series and start picking up the current books.

See the complete listing over at DC Comics.


Teen Titans and Iron Man DVDs

Some notes on upcoming animated films:

If you previously missed Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo, it's scheduled to be shown on Cartoon Network again on Friday, November 24 (2 pm) and Sunday, November 26 (3 pm). It's scheduled for release on DVD on February 6. If you're into Teen Titans, you'll enjoy this one - set your DVR.

In addition to the Iron Man film in the works, he'll also get his own animated DVD. More information from Comics Continuum here. The DVD has a release date of January 23.

Thanks to Comics2Film and Comics Continuum


Well, It Is the Fifth of November

Remember Remember the fifth of November
The gunpowder treason and plot
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot

Realizing the date made me wonder about some of the history in V for Vendetta.

In the comics and film the anti-hero V plans to blow up Parliament in an attempt to overthrow a fascist dictator in a fictional future Great Britain.

The story behind the story is that in 1605, Guy Fawkes and a number of co-conspirators attempted to kill James I of England by blowing up Parliament, to remove the Protestant monarch and replace him with a Catholic monarch. Under the rule of James I, Catholics were tolerated, but didn't have as many rights as Protestants (that's not the only reason, but there's a lot of complexity to this thing - check out the links below). James I is also that King James (as in the one that authorized the complete English translation of The Bible in 1611). The plot failed when Fawkes was caught. He confessed under torture, giving up his co-conspirators. He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, but he cheated the more gruesome parts of his sentence by jumping off the gallows, thus breaking his neck and killing himself during the hanging.

Now, on November 5th, Guy Fawkes' Night, or Bonfire Night, is celebrated with fireworks and the burning of Guy Fawkes effigies.

There's some interesting info on the Fawkesian Society site, and Wikipedia has a couple of articles (though sometimes it's difficult to sift the truth from the ambiguity, there): Guy Fawkes, Gunpowder Plot.

And if you haven't seen V for Vendetta yet, today would be the perfect day to watch it.



Well, apparently Stardust is based on a comic book. Not having bought the comics back when they came out (1997), I didn't realize the comics were first, and it wasn't until after they were out that the Stardust novel saw the light of day.

Stardust is a fairy tale (written by Neil Gaiman), following Tristran as he searches for a falling star to bring to his beloved Victoria. It stars some lesser-known actors like Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Claire Danes, Peter O'Toole, just to name a few. Take a look at Michelle Pfeiffer's website for some good info and pics.

This month in Previews, DC is re-soliciting the Stardust graphic novel collected from the mini-series (on sale in comic book stores January 3rd).

It's scheduled to open in theaters March 17 of next year.

Oh, and here's the website.


Better Than Who Wants to Be a Superhero? ?

It's just the morbid curiosity, but I'm going to have to set my DVR to record (I was going to say tape) Guiding Light tomorrow just to see the tie-in to the Marvel Universe. I'm sure there won't be any refrences, but my curiosity has gotten the better of me.

Check your local listings...


Hellboy: Sword of Storms

If you didn't catch the premier of Hellboy Animated, I'm sorry to say, you really missed out. It was awesome! I don't often watch movies more than once (time pressures, you know), but I saved this one on my DVR so I could go back to it again. The film has the same sensibilities of the movie. If you like Hellboy, you'll enjoy this. The writing was great - I found myself laughing about 20 times as much as I did when I caught RV on that plane trip back from California. I was really impressed by the way they worked in the Japanese folklore. I'm not too familiar with it, but it looks like they did their homework. An interesting comment by Tad Stones (producer/director/writer) on the Hellboy Animated blog was that the weirdest stuff you see in the movie is usually the most authentic Japanese folklore.

I mentioned before that the main characters returned from the movie, so Abe Sapien's voice really threw me. But then I remembered reading somewhere that the voice of Abe in the cartoon was the actual actor from the film (Doug Jones), while it was David Hyde Pierce that voiced him in the movie (but didn't play the physical part). Weird. I wonder if Jones will do the voice in Hellboy 2.

If you weren't able to catch it on Cartoon Network, you'll have to wait until February 6 to get it on DVD. Well, as good as it is, I'm sure the P2P networks will be carrying it before then, but that would be cheating.


Frank Miller: 300, Sin City 2, The Spirit

Just found out from Comics2Film that the official 300 website is finally live. See link to the right.

Also, Comic Book Resources recently interviewed Frank Miller about the film. Take a look at Frank's take on 300. He also briefly mentions Sin City 2, and The Spirit movie he'll be writing and directing.

Thanks to Comics2Film


Hellboy Reminder

Don't forget! Hellboy: Sword of Storms is on Saturday night on Cartoon Network.

I just set my DVR. It's on 8:30-10 pm here (Central), so I guess that makes 9:30-11 Eastern.


It's the End of the World As We Know It?

The crossover event of the decade!

Or the lame idea of the century?

I apologize to all the True Believers out there when I say this, but it had to be Marvel that came up with this.

This fall, the Marvel Universe is crossing over with The Guiding Light. Yes, that's a soap opera.

Starting this week (that's tomorrow, I guess), 4 Marvel comics will have a back-up story featuring the New Avengers (along with a number of other heroes and some villains) descending on Guiding Light's town of Springfield.

Why? Well, obviously because (due to a Halloween accident) one of the characters on the show develops super powers. To be honest, I guess I'm almost surprised this hasn't happened before.

I can't bring myself to talk about it any more here, but if you want to know more (including a list of comics that carry the story), take a look at this article in the The Gazette out of Colorado Springs.

Thanks to Pop Candy.


Heroes Comic Books

Superheroes and comics books will always be intricately linked, so it makes sense that one of the characters in Heroes is an artist who publishes his own comics (and, by the way, can paint the future). In at least one issue, he's prognosticating the details of one of the other character's journeys - someone he's never met.

But the point of this post was to mention the Heroes on-line comics NBC has put on their site that give a bit more background of what's going on. There are four 7-page comics, available for viewing in a Flash-enabled browser or downloading as .pdf's. For example, want to know how Mohinder got the taxi-driving gig? It's all there. Take a look at them; they're not bad. Then, take a look at Heroes if you haven't - it's definitely worth a watch. I suppose I should have posted this yesterday, but the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th episodes are being shown on NBC tonight. Unfortunately, I just found this out, and the 4th episode is just starting. NBC shows the most recent episode on-line for free, and you can watch them on iTunes for a couple bucks each.

On a side note, I just noticed that one of the writers is Jeph Loeb (who you're familiar with if you've spent any amount of time in the world of comics). NBC's got an interview with him here.


Comic Book Prequels

Recently, a couple of films have had comic book prequel releases before the movie. I'm not sure if this is the cool new way to market movies, or (to quote Alan Moore) just "one step in the digestive process of Hollywood eating itself."

All the buzz seemed to indicate that The Covenant (which hit theaters in September) was based on a graphic novel published by Top Cow (see Comics2Film, Comic Book Movies, Superheroes Lives). But further digging seems to point to the fact that the comics were based on the movie idea and were intended as a prequel to the film (see this Comic Book Resources article or this IGN set visit). While the entire graphic novel of The Covenant is now available, the first two issues can be read on Top Cow's web site.

E. Favata's Comic Book Movies has been keeping up with Southland Tales, which should be released sometime in January. This is something I'll definitely plan on seeing. Not necessarily because it has anything to do with comics, but because it was written and directed by Richard Kelly, who also wrote and directed Donnie Darko, one of my all-time favorite films. Southland Tales has an eclectic cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar (as Krysta!!), Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Sean William Scott, Mandy Moore, Janeane Garofalo, Christopher Lambert, John Larroquette, Jon Lovitz, Cheri Oteri, Justin Timberlake, Kevin Smith. It would be worth seeing just for the cast, even if it didn't have an interesting premise - several people's lives intertwine with a setting "in the futuristic landscape of Los Angeles on July 4, 2008, as it stands on the brink of social, economic and environmental disaster."

You can see on the official web site that parts I (Two Roads Diverge), II (Fingerprints), and III (The Mechanicals) are graphic novels, while parts IV, V, and VI are the movie itself. The first 2 graphic novels have been released, while the 3rd has a release date (according to Amazon) of October 18. I don't know how I missed these in Previews. Southland Tales: The Prelude Saga, a collection of all 3 parts is set to be released in December.

To read more about the film and the graphic novels, take a look at this Interview with Richard Kelly.


My Power Is To Make Your Brain Leak Out Your Ears

Great. Variety (and SuperheroHype) are reporting that the Sci Fi Channel is greenlighting a second season of the anti-climactic Who Wants to Be a Superhero?

Just please let it die. Spike is killing Blade, but this crap makes it to a second season? Not that I was into Blade enough to launch an internet campaign to renew the show, but Superhero makes Blade look like Citizen Kane. I guess people will buy a reality show no matter how lame the execution. The really sad thing is that I'll probably tune in again, and this time it'll be drawn out to 10 episodes, as opposed to 6.


New Ghost Rider and 300 trailers

A couple new trailers out this week:

300. This film looks amazing. It'll be interesting to see how it does at the box office. On a side note, here are a number of scenes from the film compared side-by-side to scenes from the comic, er, graphic novel (they all seem to be from the trailer, so not a ton of spoilers). A whole new level of staying true to the source material.

Ghost Rider. I'm definitely looking forward to this one. Sometimes the CGI looks a bit corny with the Ghost Rider's talking skull, but I'm thinking that this might be like The Thing in Fantastic Four, and that, in context, it'll blend in to the film a little better.

Thanks to Comics2Film.


X-Men (2000) mini review

based on a comic book

In my opinion, X-Men (packaged this week in trilogy form with X-Men 2 and 3) is probably the best serious superhero or comic-based movie ever made; it doesn't miss a beat. Who would have thought that Hugh Jackman would have made the perfect Wolverine? (Especially if you've seen follow-ups Swordfish and Kate & Leopold - both movies I enjoyed but with Jackman playing very different characters.) Or that Professor X would have been played by Patrick Stewart - who was on every X-Men film fantasy cast list since the beginning of Star Trek: The Next Generation? Directed by Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects), this film succeeds in just about every way I can think of - overcoming nearly every obstacle that tends to run a comic book movie aground. No extended origin stories, not a lot of corny dialogue; in fact, there are lines stolen straight from the comic book that sound right when spoken out loud, Bub.

In this movie, the X-Men- mainly Professor X, Cyclops (James Marsden), Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), and Storm (Halle Berry), along with many, many cameos - are first introduced to Rogue (Anna Paquin) and Wolverine. These X-Men are pit against Magneto (Ian McKellan) and his Brotherhood of Mutants (consisting of Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos), Sabretooth, and Toad (Ray Park - Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I)) in a scheme that is much more interesting if I don't spoil it for you here. The scheme works (as part of the film, that is), the action sequences work, the characters work, all leaving you screaming for a sequel.

So, how do I give this a 9/10 after singing it's praises? I guess because after rating about 30 or so comic book films, I realize my ratings are of a film's quality overall, not ratings "for a comic book film". So, while for a superhero movie, X-Men is the cream of the crop and would garner a "10" in comic book world, it's still a "9" (IMO) as an overall movie. Worth seeing if you've never even heard of the X-Men.

See it if you like action films in general, even if you have to ask "what's an 'x-men'?"

Don't see it if your form of movie escapism keeps you out of the realm of "suspension of disbelief".


Krista Was Right

Just don't tell my wife I said that.

OK, since it's now been confirmed that what Jill Wagner said on her blog about Blade being cancelled, I will stop talking about the fact that my wife's name is Krista. (Although, that is a really cool fact.)

Back to regular programming.

Thanks to Sci Fi Wire and Comics2Film.

X2: X-Men United (2003) mini review

based on a comic book

It's not often that a sequel meets the expectations created by the first, but I'd have to say that X2: X-Men United does. The introduction of Nightcrawler is amazing. Fight sequences are gripping, story and dialogue are excellent - the film is great, just like the first.

In the second X-men movie, we are introduced to William Stryker (Brian Cox). As is evidenced by the title of the movie, the X-Men team up with the Brotherhood of Mutants to stop Stryker from his insidious plot. Central characters returning from the original include Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Storm (Halle Berry), Cyclops (James Marsden), Rogue (Anna Paquin), Iceman, Magneto (Ian McKellan), and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos). New (central) characters include Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming - Son of the Mask, Josie and the Pussycats), Lady Deathstrike, and Pyro. There are also several other cameos in this film.

According to Wikipedia*, X2 is based loosely on the X-Men graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills.

See it if you want to see the continued X-ploits (sorry) of the X-Men brought to the big screen.

Don't see it (yet) if you haven't seen the first X-Men.

*see Wikipedia article on X2.


X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) mini review

based on a comic book

X-Men - The Last Stand
came out on DVD today, so I thought it'd be a good time to share my thoughts on the film.

While an enjoyable movie on it's own, the third title in the X-Men franchise definitely suffered with the loss of director Bryan Singer. Even though this film might have as many or more references to the comics*, a bevy of problems erupt in this film; primarily, there's too much going on and it's not enough of a character-driven story to rate as high as the first two.

That being said, it was still worth a watch, and is still toward the top of the heap of comic book movies, which contains the likes of Batman & Robin and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Along with several recurring characters (Prof X, Magneto, Storm, Rogue, Cyclops, Wolverine, Mystique, Iceman, Pyro), The Last Stand introduces Colossus and Shadowcat (in more than cameo roles), along with Beast (Kelsey Grammer), Psylocke, Callisto, Multiple Man, Leech, and Angel. In this film, old rivalries are revived as we once again see X-Men take on the Brotherhood of Mutants, when a company develops a "cure" for the mutant gene. We also see the resurrection of Jean Grey as Phoenix, an obvious reference to the Dark Phoenix storyline in the X-Men comics.

See it if you want to see the resolution of the X-Men trilogy.

Don't see it if you'll be too disappointed that Bryan Singer jumped ship to do Superman.

*For more references to the comics, see the "Comparison with the comics" section of the Wikipedia article on X-Men 3.

Note: The Stan Lee Collector's Edition of the DVD also contains "an exclusive original mini-comic written by Stan Lee." Yay.


Krista and Blade

Bones recently commented on my Blade post that Jill Wagner, who plays Krista (which also happens to be my wife's name - same spelling, even), mentioned in her MySpace blog that Spike has pulled the plug on the second season.

However, if you go there to look now, that particular blog entry has been deleted (I didn't discover this myself, but found out from Comics2Film). Hmmm...does that mean anything? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.


Ultraviolet (2006) mini review

based on a comic book?

2006 has been a great year from comic-book-related films, but where does Ultraviolet fit? Still difficult to say, but it is one of the best almost-comic-book movies I’ve ever seen.

In Ultraviolet, There's a war between mankind and the race of vampires that it created. Man, who engineered the disease that created the vampires in the first place, has designed a weapon to eradicate them. Violet (Milla Jovovich) is going to prevent that from happening.

In Kurt Wimmer’s own words (he's the writer and director), the movie is "pure, pure comic book." Without a doubt. From the opening credits to the end credits and (almost) everything in between. Pure action. Pure science fiction. Pure comic book.

If you haven’t seen it, this is a ride in itself, so stop reading here if you want the full effect of the film when you see it for the first time. Suffice it to say that it’s worth watching if you’re an avid comic fan. Of course, the film requires the same amount of suspension of disbelief as you would give a comic book.

Was Ultraviolet based on a comic? If it's not, why does everybody think it is? All the pieces are finally falling into place. It’s like the part of the movie where the main character flashes back to all of the foreshadowing and understands how all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle come together to form a single picture.

  • Kurt Wimmer’s quote from 4 years ago on a message board (before the film even had it's current name):

    I have several scripts...a script called Valkyrie - a sci-fi vampire film. Kind of a female Blade only the hero is a complete vampire - pure, pure comic book.

  • The Film Jerk script review:

    Dialogue, characterization and the settings are all spotty, as it plays out as something more suited to the comic book or videogame form than a major motion picture.

  • The Ain't It Cool News reviewer stating:

    Personally, i've never read the comic (didn't even know it was based on one until the intro), so I can't tell you how true to it this film is.

  • Every Comic Book Film website referencing it:

    Comics2Film: based on an obscure European comic...
    Comic Book Movies: Milla Jovovich’s...upcoming comic book adaptation...
    Superheroes Lives: an actual picture of the comic cover (see right)

  • Mark Bristol's concept art:

I don't feel so bad now; even the writer of the novelization (Yvonne Navarro) couldn't even find the obscure British comic she thought the movie was based on.

I'm sure all of this wasn't intentional marketing on Sony's part, but it all fell together nicely. It looks like you'll be getting a comic book film, and in the end, that's what you get; Ultraviolet has the best comic book feel of any non-comic book movie that I've ever seen.

The film starts with the opening credits and a slew of Ultraviolet comic book covers - different styles, different artists; it ends with the end credits in a comic book font. In between, the movie watches like comic book - it's sometimes difficult to tell if it's live action or animation. The colors are vibrant, and sometimes even the actors have a painted look to them.

Ultraviolet was amazing to watch. The action sequences are poetic. They take some suspension of disbelief, but in the end, it’s worth it. The beginning of the film was intense and engrossing - I was completely hooked - this could be another Matrix. I remember thinking there's no way this movie could get bad.

I was wrong.

For the comic book feel, for the strong beginning and end, I'd be sorely tempted to give the movie a 9/10.

But then there's that part of the film when I should've gone out for popcorn - the middle part.

Unfortunately, Wimmer's strengths don't appear to lie with characterization and dialogue. The middle is rather weak, and easily drags the rest of the film down. Dialogue gets corny. The characters get overly sentimental, and not very believable. This is where the film fails. Fortunately, it picks back up and Wimmer redeems the movie with a climactic ending.

Was it bad writing? Bad directing? Bad acting? It's always hard to tell with these things. I guess it doesn't matter. The biggest disappointment is always with what could have been.

See it if you like comics. Not the indy, down-to-earth, real-life, grim and gritty kind of comics, but the over-the-top, superhero, non-stop-action kind of comics.

Don't see it if you can't handle the disappointment of what could have been a great film turned into a merely good film...


The Premier of Heroes

What happens when a handful of people from around the globe develop uncanny abilities? Some embrace it. Some are confused. Some are horrified. You've got the basics: flying, invulnerability, ability to bend space and time. But then you've got the more obscure: the guy who paints the future; the woman whose mirror image is more than it seems.

Heroes (which premiered last night on NBC) looks to be intelligently-written and fairly creative. And how can you go wrong when it's about superpowers? (Well, I guess a ton of movie writers, directors, and producers can answer that, but this seems to be the exception.) And you've got to appreciate the subtle nod to comic books in the premier episode (X-Men to be exact).

The characters lives are woven together in some rather inventive ways, and I'm looking forward to see how this show will play out.

If you missed it, check it out; there's an encore tonight at 8/7 Central, and it looks like the Sci Fi Channel will be showing the same episodes each week, but on Fridays.


The Fountain Website and Release Date

I previously described the link The Fountain has to the world of comics. Now, the site for the film has been updated and it appears that it has a release date of November 22. This movie looks amazing; the only question now is whether or not I'll be able to drag my wife to it...


"Resembling a Comic Book"

I don't think I'll be adding a category to my reviews, but thought I would note an interesting film that just came to my attention.

Taking place in Paris in 2045, Renaissance is described by its director as a "comic book brought to life"; it's a French black and white animated science fiction film that had a limited release last Friday (September 22nd). And when I say black and white, I don't just mean no color - it uses mostly pure black and white; there is very little in shades of gray, which is mostly used for shading and reflecting effects, according to the director.

Take a look at the U.S. site and watch the trailer. And hope that it comes to a theater near you; I doubt I'll be seeing it in Florence, AL.


Blade: Season One

About 10 days ago now, the finale for Blade: The Series aired. Yeah, I tend to be a bit late on these things; if only this could be a full-time gig. Anyway, I ended up sticking with the entire season. To be honest, had the new seasons for other shows been in full swing, and the new seasons of my cartoons started, Blade probably wouldn't have been interesting enough to fit in the schedule (I don't watch a lot of shows, but Smallville, House, Bones, My Name Is Earl, and The Batman keep me busy enough).

I have to admit that when the show began expanding into detail on the vampire houses, and delving into the characters' histories (particularly Blade's - things like growing up with his father, and how he learned what he was), I was a bit more intrigued. The producers/writers/whatever have done a good job in keeping the show interesting.

Are they going with a second season? Who knows? (More importantly, will I watch a second season? Well, I guess that's just more important to me, I doubt anyone reading gives a crap.)

If you are interested in a second season, here's an interview with Blade (Sticky Fingaz), talking about what can be expected (be warned, it's very vague - not a lot of detail here), and here's a link (at TV.com) that tells you what to do if you want Spike to keep the show on the air.


Krypto the Superdog

Here I was, all prepared to talk about Krypto the Superdog starting a new season on WB on Saturday. Unfortunately, it's only moving to WB, and it's re-airing old episodes. I guess with The Batman season premier and the Legion of Superheroes premier, I just thought this would be a new season of Krypto, too.

To be honest, even though it does star Ace the Bathound, I probably wouldn't watch it on my own. (Although, I probably would have had to pick up this Ace the Bathound to add to my toy collection either way.) Krypto is aimed at the pre-school audience, and the writing and stories can be a bit insipid at times. But, it's the first superhero show I was able to watch with my 3-year-old (now 4) daughter, so, now that we've seen most of the first 3 seasons of Kim Possible, I'm looking forward to something new we can watch. I'm on the fence about whether or not to let her watch The Batman with me. It's got Batgirl now, but it does tend to be a bit more violent.

In related news, the first issue of a 6-part Krypto the Superdog mini came out to comic book stores yesterday. Unfortunately, my store didn't have my copy in, but when it gets here, I'll be able to introduce my daughter to the wonderful world of comic books.


Why Heath Ledger Doesn't Read My Blog

Apparently, the star who's about to play Joker in the next Batman film despises comic book movies, and says so in this interview with Dark Horizons. I'm not going to try to jump up and defend comic book movies, here, especially since I know so many of them are crap. But I guess I would have expected more from someone involved in the arts than to make such sweeping statements (and here I am making a sweeping statement). Maybe I expect too much. I hope he brings more depth to the role than he did to this interview.

Intellectual Quote of the Day
"I actually hate comic book movies, like f***ing hate them, they just bore me s***less and they're just dumb."
-Heath Ledger

Thanks to Comics2Film


Superheroes and Comic Books on Psych

After an extremely short (8-episode) season, Psych is off the air. It's a new show appearing on USA, and it's extremely funny. The only reason I mention it here is that the season finale took place at a comic book convention and the central theme was comic book movies. As a matter of fact, the main characters are investigating the disappearance of someone who blogs about comic book movies. While most of the shows have me rolling on the floor, this wasn't one of the funniest, but the subject matter has to hold a special place in my heart.

If you're interested in the show, USA is running reruns on either Thursdays or Fridays at 1 am (I can't tell; their schedule is a bit wonky; it looks like 1 am falls on the previous date for their schedule, thus 1 am Friday morning falls on their Thursday schedule - I think). According to the schedule on the Psych web page, this episode will air again at 1 am on October 19 (or maybe that's actually the morning of the 20th).


Hollywoodland (2006) mini review

pertaining to comics

On June 16, 1959, George Reeves, known to the world as Superman after appearing in Adventures of Superman from 1952 to 1958, committed suicide. Hollywoodland delves into the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death.

Adrien Brody is Louis Simo, a private investigator who gets pulled into the mystery when it appears the death might not be a simple suicide. The film creatively cuts back and forth between Reeves's life and Simo's investigations. Brody is excellent as the second-rate investigator trying to make a buck, and Ben Affleck is surprisingly good as Reeves. The film explores his well-known affair with Toni Mannix (Diane Lane), wife of MGM executive Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins), and his engagement to Leonore Lemmon (Robin Tunney). The cast is perfect; while I've never been overly impressed with her role on Prison Break, Tunney does well as Reeves's fiancée.

It's a completely absorbing, well-made film, investigating the nearly 50-year-old question - who was responsible for the death of George Reeves? His fiancée? His ex-girlfriend or her husband? Or was it Superman himself?

See it if you want to see the best Superman film to come out in 2006.

Don't see it if you're more about the action than the drama.

for further reading, start with the Wikipedia article on George Reeves, and the Straight Dope article on his death


Out with a Whimper

Spoilers (as if you didn't know who would make it through the last episode)

Well, last Thursday saw the sixth (and last) episode of this season's Who Wants to Be a Superhero (I hope we're spared another season). This last episode wasn't any better than the fourth and fifth, which means it pretty much stunk. Feedback and Fat Momma go to "stunt school" and film a few action shots for a corny film shown later on the show to about 18 people at Universal Studios CityWalk. (It looked like they just gathered together people who happened to be there that day.)

I've already said I've commited to getting the comic and watching the movie, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. But, I think if some intelligent and creative folks are involved, they can have some fun with Feedback's superpower of absorbing abilities from video games.

And I still think Lemuria should have won.


Hellboy (2004) mini review

based on a comic

Hellboy is a film about redemption, about Good vs. Evil, about the freedom to choose.

I won't give away the backstory, but Hellboy is a creature from the nether planes who forsakes his namesake and works with the U.S. Government's Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense to fight the good fight against creatures of the dark. That's extremely succinct and sounds almost ridiculous when juxtaposed with that first sentence, but if you want to know more of the story, I'll let you watch it.

Hellboy is slightly reminiscent of Men in Black - besides the rookie joining the secret government organization to fight monsters, I mean. It has a sort of the same flavor - it's dark and funny, it doesn't take itself too seriously, and it's very well done. Ron Perlman makes an excellent Hellboy, and he's joined by such actors as John Hurt, Tom Manning, and Selma Blair. Having recently read Hellboy: Seed of Destruction, I'm surprised at how close they kept to the comic, even down to recognizing a number of quotes (though, being a movie, it does have it's share of departures).

See it if you'd like to see a comic book (anti-)hero brought to life and you're not scared of things that go bump in the night.

Don't see it if wouldn't care for the many occult references in the film.


Mike Mignola TV Adaptations

News on two of Mignola's comic book adaptations to television. If you missed it, you can catch the pilot for The Amazing Screw-On Head on the Sci Fi Channel's web page. We're still hoping this one makes it to a series.

Also, the Hellboy Animated web page is up, complete with trailer. The interesting thing about this is that it has the same talent as the movie, including the director (Guillermo del Toro) and the main characters - Ron Perlman (Hellboy), Selma Blair (Liz), and Doug Jones (Abe Sapien). It looks good. It's still supposed to hit Cartoon Network on October 28.


The Guyver (1991) mini review

based on a comic

There doesn't seem to be a lot of manga-adapted non-Japanese films. The Guyver is one of the few.

If you're a comic fan, and you've never heard of this movie, there's probably two reasons. First, it's based on a Japanese comic, and second, it's just not that good. Actually, it was almost good enough to sit through once, but any accolades beyond that would be overdoing it. Mark Hamill has had a rather prolific voice career (he's done a ton of stuff, but my favorite is, of course, The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series ), but in The Guyver, he stars in another film disappointment. In the movie, he plays an agent for the CIA following up on some weird stuff going on at the Chronos Corporation. Come to find out, they are harboring an ancient secret. Aliens created mankind to be the perfect bio-weapons. A screen crawl at the beginning of the film gives the somewhat confusing history of how the aliens created some humans called Zoanoids that could change into "super monster soldiers", but also created the Guyver, a type of armor, which, when worn by a human, increases their natural abilities a hundredfold.

The movie ends up being nearly as hokey as that description makes it sound (Jimmy Walker is even cast as one of the villain's henchmen). But, with an attempted serious performance by all the "good guys", I can't decide if they're trying to play it straight, or just for laughs.

See it if you want to see some decent special effects or J.J. from Good Times playing a comic book villain.

Don't see it if it sounds like you'd rather just hear Mark Hamill's nearly awe-inspiring turn as The Joker in Justice League, Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Batman: Gotham Knights, Superman: The Animated Series...


The Tick on DVD (and TV)

I have had the good fortune to recently discover the fact that Toon Disney has been running The Tick (check here for listings), and recently (with the help of DVR) have watched all 3 seasons. I'm not sure if I would have made it through grad school without the chance to wake up to his crimefighting and philosophical meanderings every Saturday morning. The show was genius; I caught the first year mid-season and was an avid follower ever since, only missing a few of episodes of the 3rd season. But now, with the modern conveniences of hundreds of cable channels, DVR, and DVD, the whole world can see the greatest cartoon of all time without having to download marginally legal copies from the internet.

Oh yeah; Season 1 of the Tick was released to DVD today. I'll be adding that to my DVD collection (though, for some reason it doesn't include the 11th episode, The Tick vs. the Mole Men).

My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006) mini review

superhero film not based on a comic

My Super Ex-Girlfriend is a corny romantic comedy with a corny romantic-comedy ending. But it works.

Uma Thurman is G-Girl, resident superhero of New York. But, she falls for sweet-talking Matt (Luke Wilson) and when he tries to break up with her she decides to use her super powers to make good the usually empty threat, "You'll regret this!" She is, apparently, not familiar with Spider-Man's "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" credo, which is odd, being from New York and all. This is what Fatal Attraction would have been if it had been funnier and Glenn Close's character had super powers.

Thurman plays the cliché gorgeous superhero, with the geeky secret identity, and arch-foe complete with linked history. It's not played entirely as parody, but the references we all know and love are there, and mixing it with the love story results in a completely entertaining film. Is it the best romantic comedy I've ever seen? Probably not. Is it the best superhero movie I've ever seen? Definitely not. But it is a successful fusion of the two genres. A lot of reviews might not be so friendly toward this film, but to me, a comedy works if you can sit and enjoy it for 90 minutes, and it keeps you laughing. Of course, throwing in superheroes (and a little bit of Wanda Sykes) never hurts.

See it if you can take your superheroes tongue-in-cheek.

Don't see it if you can't handle a chick flick mixed up with a serious subject like superheroes. (Or, if you have your kids with you - it's PG-13 and definitely not aimed at the younger crowd.)


Who Wants to Be Disappointed?

I watched the first 3 episodes of Who Wants to Be a Superhero? in a mini-marathon lasting until 3 am. I was truly fascinated - I hadn't seen an entire season of a reality show through from beginning until end, and I thought this one was amazing. I saw how everyone gets caught up with the players; emotions run high; you wonder, who's getting kicked off next? And I was further impressed that Stan Lee could actually take this subject and make it real. Testing traits like compassion, courage, honesty, commitment. These are the true qualities of a superhero.

But, then came episode 4 and things took a turn for the worse. It really started to look fake. I realize that in "unscripted" television, sometimes things might be staged, or filmed in a way to make it look different than it really happens. But, this show has just begun to look like the whole thing is scripted. I'm sorry, but prison inmates? More like really bad actors. People on the show seem more contrived every episode; the superheroes act less authentic every episode. I just finished watching the 5th ep, and it's not any better. It looks less real than Joe Schmo (the only other reality show I really watched - you know, the one where there was only one person on the whole show that didn't know it was all staged?). I'm starting to get tired of all the self-sacrifice as everyone acts so disappointed when someone else gets eliminated.

And on this last episode, Feedback says, "This is the most important thing I've ever done." What?? You're on a reality show (maybe). And you might get your own comic book. While that might be really cool, I can't imagine it being the most important thing I've ever done.

In fact, I'm a bit disappointed. What seemed to start out as a genuinely creative endeavor has begun to look completely artificial. I guess if there's only one more episode (and since it's still about superheroes), I'll probably see it through to the end. And I'll probably buy the comic when it comes out (I guess I will buy it since I'm adding it to my comic order for October), and I'll likely watch the Sci Fi Channel movie. But as a whole, it hasn't pulled me into the whole reality genre. And I don't think I'll be pre-ordering the DVD.


Afro Samurai

It seems we're not at a loss for comic-adapted animation these days. Samuel L. Jackson will be starring in Afro Samurai coming on Spike TV at some point this fall.

Take a look at the website and trailer - it looks promising (note: it's bordering on rated R, so you may not want to send your kids to the site).

Afro Samurai is based on a manga (Japanese comic for you infidels) found in the back of a 1998/99 self-published comic, Nononhow, by Okazaki Takahashi. I guess that's why I can find absolutely no information on the internet about it. It follows Jackson's character as he attempts to avenge his father's murder.

At the 2006 Comic-Con there were even discussions of a live action film. Stay tuned.


Comics, Cartoons, and Television

A lot of premiers over the next month. I need to write them down all in one place so I remember to set the DVR.

New stuff:

First, Fantastic Four hits Cartoon Network on September 2.

While checking to see which ep of The Batman landed on my DVR today, I noticed a commercial for Legion of Superheroes which premiers September 23 (on The WB). Hmmm...that will just about coincide with the VS Customizable Card Game Expansion, if you're into that sort of thing. There's a ton of information on the show here on Wikipedia.

Hellboy Animated comes to Cartoon Network in the form of a movie on October 28. (The DVD will be released on February 6.) Upperdeck will also be releasing a Hellboy VS deck, but not until next spring.

Returning shows:

Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo (Cartoon Network) debuts on September 15. I'm not sure if this will kick off a new season, but they're replaying all of the old episodes on Sept. 5-30.

The next season of The Batman (The WB) is supposed to start on September 23. The Complete 2nd Season is released on DVD on the 19th.

Up in the air:

Tonight, I watched the debut episode of Amazing Screw-On Head that I had recorded, and it was just as good as when I watched it on Sci Fi Pulse. I'm hoping they run with this one. If you missed it, it's on again tonight, August 20, at Midnight/11C.

Thanks to Comics2Film and Comics Continuum for the Comics Continuum links above.


Painkiller Jane (2005) mini review

based on a comic

Just to be fair to the Sci Fi Channel, I thought I'd share my Painkiller Jane review, which is a bit more positive than my thoughts about Lightspeed. Let's hope that their next superhero film is more like the former than the latter.

Making its debut in December 2005, this Sci Fi Original Picture is actually quite impressive - better than many of the comic book films (with bigger budgets) that have been released to theaters, especially when you consider it's a made-for-cable movie. In Painkiller Jane, Jane Elizabeth Browning is a captain in the U.S. Army, and, after getting exposed to a biological agent, rather than dying like the rest of her troop, her normal abilities are enhanced. She has more endurance, her body heals quicker, her mind works faster. The story follows her as she tries to figure out exactly what has happened to her and who's responsible.

While I enjoyed Painkiller Jane, there's not really a lot that stood out about the movie; it's just a completely engaging action film. It's one of those movies you get drawn into and enjoy, and forget to make mental notes about what was good or bad. There was one thing, though, that especially impressed me - the way the movie treats her new-found abilities; her mental abilities in particular. The filmmakers were quite creative in coming up with ways to show (rather than explain) how her mind was now able to perceive patterns and make connections that she couldn't before.

An interesting cast note: a number of the actors have experience in live action comic book films. Emmanuelle Vaugier (Jane) was in Smallville for a while as Lex Luthor's girlfriend, Dr. Helen Bryce; everyone would recognize Richard Roundtree (Colonel Watts) from his pivotal role in Steel; and Tate Donovan (Dr. Graham Knight) was in the obscure G-Men from Hell.

Painkiller Jane is based on a comic created by Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti. It appears to have originally been with Event Comics, but is now owned by Dynamite Comics. Her origin in the movie is quite a bit different than in the comics, a detail that could turn off long-time fans.

See it if you like good, solid action films, with a bit of science fiction thrown in for good measure.

Don't see it if you're expecting something that's true to the source material.