Painkiller Jane on Sci Fi

Well, I've just finished watching the third of the first three episodes of Painkiller Jane.

The jury's still out.

It's based on a comic book, and I'll keep watching it (yes; my standards are high), but I'm not completely blown away. It's pretty good - I'm just not sure it's that great. Kristanna Loken is decent as Jane, and the supporting cast is passable, though no one really stands out (except maybe the computer hacker, Riley). The writing is ok, but leaves a bit to be desired. It's a little predictable and the foreshadowing is a bit heavy handed (how much a part will be played by her father, or the girl across the hall?). The show tries to be fancy with it's camera work and direction; and succeeds - for the most part. Take a look at it if you're a comic book fan.

I guess the comparisons with Heroes are inevitable. I've heard it called a Heroes ripoff, but that's blatant crap. If it's a Heroes ripoff, then Heroes is an X-Men ripoff - Heroes has more in common with X-Men then this does with Heroes. I can see the similar premises, but the structure of the show is completely different.

What I'd really like to see is a show based on the Painkiller Jane movie Sci Fi aired in 2005. I realize it's even more distanced from the comic book than this series, but I really liked the premise, and was impressed with the way they handled her abilities. But, I'll watch this one for awhile. We'll see how long it lasts...


Sheena (1984) mini review

based on a comic

Sheena, Queen of the Jungle graced the pages of comics during it's Golden Age for a number of years (from the 30's to the 50's), and has even had multiple televisions shows (one in the 50's and one that debuted in 2000). She came to the big screen in 1984 in a mostly forgettable film with Tanya Roberts in the starring role. After the film came out, Marvel Comics revived her as a comic book character in a series of her own. Devil's Due is starting up a new series - starting with a $.99 preview (that hit stores in early March) and Sheena #1 (first of the 5-part mini) solicited in this month's Previews and due out in June.

In Sheena, the little girl of two scientists is orphaned in Africa and is brought up by a tribal shaman. The shaman names her Sheena (which is probably more alluring than her given name - Janet), and she grows up to be the protector of the tribe. While Roberts looks the role, the acting leaves a lot to be desired (though, admittedly, sometimes it's difficult to differentiate between poor acting, poor writing, and poor directing). Going along with the comics theme, the screenplay was written by David Newman, credited for screenplays on Superman I, II, and III; and Lorenzo Semple, Jr., who has writing credits on Flash Gordon (1980) and the 60's Batman TV series and movie.

Oddly enough, this film almost seemed like it was written for comics (in the worst way possible) - whether it was the flat acting, two-dimensional characters or cliched dialogue, it was almost like watching a comic book. I could almost picture the dialogue in little word balloons on the screen. Roberts is probably the most recognizable person in the whole film, so there doesn't seem like there was a whole lot of talent to pull from (not that you have to get big names to have talent, but sometimes there are reasons why people aren't famous).

It's interesting to note how the content of movies and their rating have changed over the years. For being a PG movie, there seems to be a lot of nudity (mostly Roberts herself). The film was an interesting exercise in remembering what 80's movies were like, but other than that and it's connection to comics, there's not a lot to see here (excuse the pun).

See it if you want to make movies, and want to learn what not to do.

Don't see it if you can't be entertained by bad filmmaking.


Marvel Team-Up: Spider-Man and The Edge

Apparently, a Spider-Man musical is in the works.

It actually might be pretty good if U2's Bono and The Edge are writing the music and lyrics, but even if it's for real, I'm not sure it will be worth a trip to New York. Superhero Hype! even has a casting breakdown.

What I really want to know is, where's my Batman Musical that Tim Burton was supposed to direct?? Now for that I'd travel to NY.

[Side note: From this Wikipedia article, I found out that you can actually download songs that were made for the musical (Batman, not Spider-Man) at Jim Steinman's website. Steinman is a composer who was working with Burton; his credits include Bat Out of Hell (the album) and one of my all time favorite 80's songs (Total Eclipse of the Heart), among others . And holy crap - now I absolutely have to buy Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell III!]

Thanks to Kung Fu Rodeo.


Film Noir, Science Fiction, Horror, Aliens...

I don't post much about comics I'm buying - realizing there are more than enough comics reviews on the web. But, I've been thinking about mainstream comics lately versus some of the lesser known stuff out there. Most of my interests have been with DC comics - primarily Batman - but I've been branching out into other stuff lately. It hasn't helped my hunt that my Local Comics Shop hasn't been very good keeping up my special orders, but I'll keep trying...

First some DC Comics pop culture crossovers that I've been disappointed in.

The Next (5-part mini series)

This was written by Tad Williams, who has a pretty interesting writing career. I read his Otherland novels, and they were simply amazing, so I had high hopes for this mini. Superman teams up with teen Monnika Wong (has she ever appeared in the DC Universe before?) and attempts to help some otherworldly (otherdimensional?) travellers back to their original dimension before they wreak any more havoc. Or something like that. This can't really be a proper review, as it's barely hovering at the edge of my memory at the moment. Suffice it to say, I just wasn't impressed. I didn't think the art (Dietrich Smith) was that great either. I don't know if Williams needs to stick with novels, or if something happened from script to book, but it just wasn't that great. Since I'm picking up Williams's Aquaman arc, I'm hoping for better. (I know #50 is already out, but see my "special orders" note above.) Your Mom's Basement had an interview with Williams last summer regarding The Next, so check out more info there if you're interested.

Superman and Batman versus Aliens and Predator (2-part prestige).

I love crossovers. The first Batman vs Predator and Superman vs Aliens were great books. I ended up picking up the former in trade but was able to pick up the latter as they came out in single issues. As time goes by, though, ideas seem to get stale, and it appears to be more difficult to keep them interesting. Later Batman vs Predator stories seemed to fizzle, and I'm not even sure if I ever read the second Superman/Aliens. Written by Mark Schultz, I found this last story to be ok, with the obligatory banter between Bruce and Clark interesting, but it just didn't stick with me. I had problems with the art here, too (artist: Ariel Olivetti). Was this digital art? It was interesting and different - but the faces just weren't that strong - there were a few panels in the first book were Lois Lane looked just plain deformed. If I wasn't a crossover junkie, I probably should have passed.

But on to some less mainstream good stuff...

Sam Noir: Samurai Detective (Shadowline/Image, 3-part mini)

I ended picking up the trade for this since I missed the minis (see special order problem above), and it had me rolling on the floor laughing. Written and drawn by Eric A. Anderson and Manny Trembley, this is what comic books should be. The writing is wonderful and the art, excellent. It's written like awful film noir - and it's one of those things that you just don't know what to expect going into, but ends up better than any expectations you had.

Boy, was my face red. And not just from the blood.

Great stuff. Of course, now, if I want to get the 2nd series in trade, they've packed it together with the first, so I'll have to buy this first story again. Curse you, Comic Book Company Marketing Department!! Sam Noir is published by Image Comics under the Shadowline brand (along with Bomb Queen, After the Cape, and others).

Darkman vs. Army of Darkness (Dynamite, 4-part mini)

This was a pleasant surprise. Written by Kurt Busiek, it's not as funny as the aforementioned Samurai Detective, but it's a pretty enjoyable read in it's own right. It's funny, and with references to the Darkman, Army of Darkness, and the Evil Dead movies (I think - it's been a while), you just can't go wrong. Check it out if it comes out in trade...


April '07 Previews Pop Culture Crossover

Some interesting (and not-so-interesting) TV, movie, and game crossovers into comics coming out in June. I can't wait to read Shadow Puppets!


  • Spike : Shadow Puppets #1 (IDW, mini)
    Smile Time is back!! This time, it's Spike and Lorne against the evil children's show.
  • Stargate SG-1 2007 Special (Pulsar Press, One-Shot)
    16-page comic, available in 7 difference covers.


  • Beneath the Valley of the Rage (Fangoria Comics, 4-part mini)
    Prequel to the horror film, The Rage.
  • Frank Miller's Robocop (Pulsar Press, TPB)
    The story Miller intended to tell before his script went through the Hollywood editing process.
  • Predator Omnibus vol 1 (Dark Horse, TPB)
    440-page collection of several Predator graphic novels and other stories.
  • Shaun of the Dead (IDW, TPB)
    "Director's Cut" adaptation of the hilarious film.
  • Star Wars Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace Photo Comic (Dark Horse, one-shot)
    Is it just me, or does this seem like an easy way to make a buck? Instead of actually going to the trouble to drawing a comic, how about we just take shots from the movie, and stick in dialogue from the movie? Voila! Instant comic book with hardly any work involved.
  • Terminator 2: Infinity #1 (Dynamite, mini?)
    See what it was like from the future side of the story.


  • Batman: Harley & Ivy (DC, TPB)
    Collecting the original mini, the story Love on the Lam, and a newly colored story pulled from Batman Black and White.


  • Bloodrayne: Red Blood Run #1 (Digital Webbing, 3-part mini)
    More from the vampire-fighting video game world.
  • Street Fighter II: The Manga, vol 1 of 3 (Udon Entertainment, TPB)
    Any Street Fighter II story is cool, as long as Blanka's in it.

Did I miss anything you'll be getting?

An interesting bit of news from last month's listing: Jimmy Palmiotti talked to Sci Fi Wire about the Fox Atomic comic he wrote - The Hills Have Eyes: The Beginning. Sci Fi Wire asked Palmiotti about using that comic as the source material for a prequel movie. Jimmy replied, "They would be mentally retarded if they didn't." Yeah - I used to call people "retarded" - when I was 12. Nice job, Jimmy.

So, maybe my maturity came a bit later than that, but shouldn't people that talk to the press take some kind of sensitivity training?


Who Needs a Superhero? (H. Michael Brewer, 2004)

H. Michael Brewer's Who Needs a Superhero?: Finding Virtue, Vice, and What's Holy in the Comics is not exactly what you'd expect. It's a study in contrasts. It attempts to attack deep spiritual issues, but in a light-hearted way. It's a simple read, but with hidden depths. It attacks age-old questions, but is current and relevant enough to reference the recent Dark Knight Strikes Again. It's written for those who are of the Christian faith, yet might be accessible to those outside that.

First of all, this book is not a Christian apologetic. It begins from a point of faith, using DC and Marvel superheroes to draw parallels with aspects of Christian life - it's not attempting to prove anything; nor are these parallels are intended to be an objective outsider's look. As such, it may not suit all readers. However, even to those outside the Christian faith, it might be an interesting look from the inside.

Brewer starts with the obvious parallels: Superman as Christ figure; the Hulk embodying the age-old theme of man's dual nature - man wrestling with his own inhumanity, or in more Christian terms, man wrestling with sin. But it goes beyond these more obvious parallels: What do the Fantastic Four have to say about family and community? What do Batman and Iron Man have to say about salvation? It even attempts to answer some of the more interesting questions in comics (from a Christian perspective), like, if Superman is so powerful, why doesn't he save the world?

Also, this short, 200-page book doesn't pretend to be an academic text, but a launching pad for discussion about Christian values. Not the Christian values seen on TV and embraced by the religious right, like humanism, war, intolerence, and legalistic morality; but real Christian values, like love, truth, justice, service, family, and community.

Although it's not intended to be an intellectual treatise, it does deal with interesting philosophical issues, like the nature of God, and how do we reconcile a benevolent God with human suffering. It even ends with a personality test based on the Marvel and DC superheroes. Of course, this book being as light as it is, these things are dealt with at a very high level, in a very simplified way.

But, the intent here is not to plumb the mysterious depths and provide answers to all the questions, but merely to stimulate thought.


PVP Comic Adaptation

Had to pick up this comic adaptation info on a cartoon site.

Apparently, the webcomic PVP (which has also reached print - the monthly comic is listed with Image in Previews) has been adapted to a webcartoon.

The cartoon (which features role playing, gaming, and other stuff of geekdom) can be found from the PVP site and costs about $3 per episode. I haven't ponied up the money - I'm only an occasional reader of the comic - but it looks funny. If you've seen it, let me know what you think...

Thanks to Toon Zone.


Pop Candy Talks Comic Book Movies

Whitney Matheson records one of my favorite podcasts (check out her Heroes interviews here) - she's a popular pop culture blogger on the USA Today site, and she happened to recently discuss what she thinks the top 20 comic book movies are.

I'm glad she listed Mystery Men, The Specials, and Unbreakable. I'd have to say those 3 are in my top 5. To be honest, the only ones I wasn't familiar with were the two manga adapations (Lone Wolf and Cub and Crying Freeman) and the two based on ancient comic strips (Little Nemo from the turn of the century - heard of the strip, not the movie; and Palooka from the strip starting in the 30's).

Most of the rest are on my To Review list. I only made it halfway through From Hell. The CD I got from Movie Gallery messed up (I hate it when that happens). And I happened across Brenda Starr in a music store for about $2 and picked it up a year ago. Whitney lists it as #2 - maybe it's time I break it out of the shrink wrap.


Entertainment, Pop Culture, and DC Comics

I was listening to my podcasts on the way to work the other day, and came to the most recent DC Comics podcast: Crossing Over: How the Comics Boom is Changing Entertainment (other podcasts from DC can be found on iTunes or the DC downloads page).

The podcast is a recording of a panel from the New York Comic Con and includes a number of people from different areas of entertainment that will be working on comics with DC (now or very soon) - Percy Carey, hip hop artist; Cecil Castelluci, writer/novelist, among other things; Marc Bernardin, Senior Editor at Entertainment Weekly; Paul Dini (Batman: The Animated Series - duh); and Brian K. Vaughan of Ex Machina and Y: The Last Man fame.

It's an interesting discussion of the, well, crossover, between comics and other forms of entertainment. If you don't want to listen to it, there's a pretty lengthy description of it over in the Newsarama Forums, but being a panel, I think it's more interesting to the ears...

Addendum: Especially this quote that I forgot to mention:

It's sad that I have to wear pants to work.
-Brian K. Vaughan

Dang, my dad always said I'd forget my head if it wasn't screwed on...