Monday, July 28, 2014

First Look at Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

There was a lot of news/previews that came out of San Diego Comic Con this weekend, but probably one of the biggest attention grabbers was some teaser (test?) footage from the Batman vs Superman movie. io9 has a full rundown of the footage, but I wanted to talk about the image of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman that was shown. Check it out below:

My first impression was that it's way too dark and doesn't represent the red, white and blue color scheme, but it occurred to me that it could be just how the scene was shot here or she might have a number of different type of armors she wears similar to how Captain America now has a dark version of his costume.

Still, what if this is exactly how it looks throughout the movie? I don't know that I would really care. In the year 2014, I don't think there is much reward in being vested in how your favorite comic book character looks. If (and more likely _when_) your favorite character is brought to the big (or small) screen, odds are they will look quite a bit different from what you would like.

I guess Marvel's Agents of SHIELD version of Deathlok sort of broke me.

I now view these things as completely separate entities (which is what they really are) that are inspired by the comics I love. It's a bit like watching Xena, Warrior Princess and viewing it from the lens of What If Wonder Woman Was Like This?

But that's just me. I totally get it if you hate the preview image of Gal Gadot.

- Jim

Friday, July 25, 2014

Watching Batman Villains on Other Shows

This weekend I was watching an old episode of Hawaii Five-0 (don't judge me!) 30,000 Room And I Have The Key which guest starred a favorite old actor of mine David Wayne. While I best remember Mr. Wayne from his role as Inspector Queen in the Jim Hudson Ellery Queen series, I suspect most readers here will only know him from his appearances on the Batman 60's television show as The Mad Hatter:

I specifically picked that episode of H50 to watch because I wanted to see David Wayne on the show. It's not uncommon for me to hunt down favorite actors on other shows. It occurred to me other people might be like me, so today, I'm going to put together a list of television appearances of the various Big 4 villains from the Batman series.

I'll start with the actor with the most prodigious credits of the big 4. I will also note when a specific show is available online (via a legitimate streaming service.) Note, because streaming services change up the content on a regular basis, what I mention below may not be available if you are reading this post at a later date.

Burgess Meredith (The Penguin)


 The Ford Theatre Hour
- One Sunday Afternoon (1949) ... Biff Grimes

The Silver Theatre 
- L'Amour the Merrier (1949)

Robert Montgomery Presents 
- Our Town (1950) ... Stage Manager

Studio One in Hollywood  Gulley Jimson
- The Horses Mouth (1950) ... Gulley Jimson

The Billy Rose Show  Billy Rose
- George III Once Drooled in This Plate (1950) ... Billy Rose
- The Night Billy Rose Should'a Stood in Bed (1950) ... Billy Rose

The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse
- I'm Still Alive (1950)

Lights Out
Professor Lyman
- This Way to Heaven (1951) ... Professor Lyman
- The Martian Eyes (1951) ... Professor Lyman
- The Martian Eyes (1950) ... Professor Lyman

Celanese Theatre
- Brief Moment (1952) ... Rodney Deane

Lux Video Theatre
- Decision (1952) ... David

Tales of Tomorrow
- The Great Silence (1953) ... Paul

Omnibus
Avon Horsley Jr. / Man
- The Christmas Tie (1956) ... Avon Horsley Jr.
- Grandma Moses (1953) ... Man

The United States Steel Hour
- Haunted Harbor (1957) ... Alec Sherwood

Suspicion
- Hand in Glove (1957) ... Ramskill

General Electric Theater
- The Unfamiliar (1958) ... Velvet Pants
- Edison the Man (1954) ... Thomas A. Edison

The DuPont Show of the Month
- The Human Comedy (1959) ... Narrator (voice)

Sunday Showcase
- The Practical Dreamer (1959)

Play of the Week
Vladimir
- Waiting for Godot (1961) ... Vladimir

Naked City
Duncan Kleist
- Hold for Gloria Christmas (1962) ... Duncan Kleist

The Eleventh Hour
Christopher NorbertII / Chris III
- Hooray, Hooray the Circus Is Coming to Town (1962) ... Christopher NorbertII / Chris III

Sam Benedict
Cyrus Carter
- Everybody's Playing Polo (1962) ... Cyrus Carter

Ben Casey
Lester Partridge
- Pack Up All My Cares and Woes (1962) ... Lester Partridge

Twilight Zone- Available on Netflix and Hulu

Mr. Smith / Romney Wordsworth / Luther Dingle / ...
- Printer's Devil (1963) ... Mr. Smith
- The Obsolete Man (1961) ... Romney Wordsworth
- Mr. Dingle, the Strong (1961) ... Luther Dingle
- Time Enough at Last (1959) ... Henry Bemis




77 Sunset Strip - Available from Warners Archives
Vincent Marion
- 5: The Conclusion (1963) ... Vincent Marion
- 5: Part 4 (1963) ... Vincent Marion
- 5: Part 3 (1963) ... Vincent Marion
- 5: Part 2 (1963) ... Vincent Marion
- 5: Part 1 (1963) ... Vincent Marion

Breaking Point
Walter Osborne
- Heart of Marble, Body of Stone (1963) ... Walter Osborne

The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters
Saracen
- The Day of the Wizard (1964) ... Saracen

Wagon Train
Grover Allen
- The Grover Allen Story (1964) ... Grover Allen

Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre
Tumblers Fuller
- The Square Peg (1964) ... Tumblers Fuller

Rawhide - Available from Warners Archive
Hannibal H. Plew / Matthew Higgins / Tom Gwynn
- Incident at Deadhorse: Part II (1964) ... Hannibal H. Plew
- Incident at Deadhorse: Part I (1964) ... Hannibal H. Plew
- Incident at Paradise (1963) ... Matthew Higgins
- The Little Fishes (1961) ... Tom Gwynn

Burke's Law
Harold Harold / Burton Reese / Sidney Wilde
- Who Killed 711? (1964) ... Harold Harold
- Who Killed Jason Shaw? (1964) ... Burton Reese
- Who Killed Alex Debbs? (1963) ... Sidney Wilde

Profiles in Courage
John Peter Altgeld
- John Peter Altgeld (1965) ... John Peter Altgeld

Mr. Novak
Recurring roll: Principal Martin Woodridge

Laredo
Grubsty 'Grubby' Sully
- Lazyfoot, Where Are You? (1965) ... Grubsty 'Grubby' Sully

The Wild Wild West

Orkney Cadwallader
- The Night of the Human Trigger (1965) ... Orkney Cadwallader

The Trials of O'Brien
Judge Benjamin Vincent
- No Justice for the Judge (1965) ... Judge Benjamin Vincent

The Loner
Sicdry
- Hunt the Man Down (1965) ... Sicdry

12 O'Clock High
Dr. Rink
- Back to the Drawing Board (1966) ... Dr. Rink

Please Don't Eat the Daisies
Muldoon
- The Magnificent Muldoon (1966) ... Muldoon

Branded
Horace Greeley
- Headed for Doomsday (1966) ... Horace Greeley

The Invaders
Theodore Booth
- Wall of Crystal (1967) ... Theodore Booth

Bonanza
Owney Duggan
- Six Black Horses (1967) ... Owney Duggan

The Monkees
The Penguin
- Monkees Blow Their Minds (1968) ... The Penguin (uncredited)

Daniel Boone
Alex Hemming
- Three Score and Ten (1969) ... Alex Hemming

The Bold Ones: The Senator
George P. Mallon
- Power Play (1970) ... George P. Mallon

The Name of the Game
Richard Garver
- All the Old Familiar Faces (1970) ... Richard Garver

The Virginian
Muley / Tim Bradbury
- Flight from Memory (1971) ... Muley
- The Orchard (1968) ... Tim Bradbury

Room 222
- K-W-W-H (1971)

Love, American Style
Harrison Merriweather (segment "Love and the Artful Codger")
- Love and the Hypnotist/Love and the Psychiatrist (1970) ... The Reverend (segment "Love and the Hypnotist")


Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color

Henry Meade
- Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove: Part 2 (1971) ... Henry Meade
- Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove: Part 1 (1971) ... Henry Meade

The Man and the City
- Pipe Me a Loving Tune (1971)

Ironside
Harry Grenadine / Carney
- Unreasonable Facsimile (1972) ... Harry Grenadine
- The Macabre Mr. Micawber (1968) ... Carney

McCloud Available on Netflix
Marvin Sloan
- A Little Plot at Tranquil Valley (1972) ... Marvin Sloan

Mannix
Noah Otway
- The Crimson Halo (1972) ... Noah Otway

Night Gallery Available on Hulu
Charlie Finnegan / Dr. William Fall (segment "The Little Black Bag")
- Finnegan's Flight (1972) ... Charlie Finnegan
- Room with a View/The Little Black Bag/The Nature of the Enemy (1970) ... Dr. William Fall (segment "The Little Black Bag")

Search
V.C.R. Cameron
- Recurring roll: All 23 Episodes

Korg: 70,000 B.C.
Narrator (voice)

Gloria
Dr. Willard Adams
- Recurring roll: 21 Episodes

In the Heat of the Night
Judge Cully / Judge Culley
- Hatton's Turn: Part 2 (1993) ... Judge Culley
- Lake Winahatchie (1993) ... Judge Cully
- Even Nice People (1993) ... Judge Cully

Friday, July 18, 2014

Check out the Horror Lovers

Often, I find myself trapped by the comics-centric nature of this blog, as it prevents me from delving into subjects I would like to write about (Scooby Doo, The Classic Universal Monsters, The Marx Brothers, ect...) There usually isn't much of an opportunity for me to give even a shout out to such topics here.

So imagine how happy I was when I discovered The Horror Lovers on Kickstarter:



The Horror Lovers is the story of the humorous shenanigans at a small low budget horror studio (Bloody Hell Studios) during the golden age of film. The preview pages present a fun blend of 1950's Mad Magazine zaniness and Marx Brothers humor.



The creators behind the comic are two talented professionals who are perfect for this project: Artist Bobby Timony (who I discovered via The Night Owls on Zuda and whose Detectobot for monkeybrain I am currently enjoying) and written by Valerie D'Orazio (whose Punisher Max: Butterfly story for Marvel proved she had a deft ear for the human condition and dark humor.)

THE STORY:
Meet mild-mannered TERRY APRILLE:


Terry always dreamt of writing The Great American Novel...but instead found himself hacking out horror scripts for the ultra low-budget BLOODY HELL STUDIOS alongside the crude-but-determined owner/director WALTER BURNS...


...and the always-smiling mute prop girl ZIPPY:

But one day Terry's fiancée DEBBIE gives him an ultimatum: quit wasting his time at the movie studio, or risk everyone finding out about his DEEPEST, DARKEST SECRET!

But when somebody ends up dead at the bottom of a giant cake, EVERYONE'S a suspect!
----------------------
If you are a fan of such whimsical stories with a touch of nostalgia, I strongly encourage you to check out the 8 Page Preview at HorrorLoversComic.com

If you like what you see, support the project on Kickstarter.com

- Jim

Monday, July 14, 2014

Is Archie In The Dark?

Today, I'm catching up on some of the news from last week with my reactions:

First up: Archie Comics is rebranding their superhero line to Dark Circle
as Editor Alex Segura is hired to help relaunch the line with a more modern comics approach.
From USA Today...

“When we brought Alex onboard to oversee our superhero imprint, we knew we needed to be bold and decisive with how these books were presented, in every way. They couldn’t just be more of the same,” said Archie Comics Publisher/Co-CEO Jon Goldwater. “This is a fresh start and a new direction for these iconic characters. It all boils down to story – tales that feature compelling characters by some of the best talent in comics. Alex – with the help of myself, our President Mike Pellerito, CCO Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Editor Paul Kaminski – has carefully curated a line of comics that will hopefully be seen as the definitive interpretations of these characters for a long time. We couldn’t be more excited.”

While I understand Archie Comics may have been a little disappointed in the results of their Red Circle subscriber based digital comics initiative, this 180 degree turnaround struck me wrong...


...my knee-jerk reaction was a face-palm at the idea of more Grim and Gritty comics, but that's not exactly what the press release says. Actually, very little is said in the USA Today about the new direction except that they hope to emulate the type of storytelling you see in such popular television shows as True Detective, Boardwalk Empire and Orange is the New Black.

Listing off a series of popular television shows is pretty easy. Creating comics that are just as compelling as those shows is not. Even if what you intend to do is carry over the sensibilities of those shows, I'd say that's not too different than what we are currently seeing in half the New DC 52 comics that are failing now.

At least the last incarnation of the Red Circle line had a look and feel that made it stand out from the crowd. I suspect this new line will be artistically indistinguishable from anything Marvel or DC currently put out.

Overall, I think this type of turnaround strategy falls somewhere between let's use electric guitars in church and  let's start a facebook page. It's anachronistic and overdone.

Could they reinvent the Archie heroes in a The Authority fashion like Warren Ellis did?
Sure. That could happen. But I'd be more apt to expect something more like any of the recent Freedom Fighters revamps:


So, yeah, good luck with that.

- Jim




Friday, July 11, 2014

Filmation, Star Trek Continues and Southern Bastards

As I mentally prepare myself for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes today, I thought it might be a good time to let you know about some other awesome retroness I've been enjoying lately.

First up is Star Trek Continues. This is a fan produced web based video series on YouTube that casts several talented actors in the roles of the original Star Trek series. They've got 3 episodes up currently with the latest being a fantastic twist on the classic Mirror, Mirror episode.

If last summer's Into Darkness left a bad taste in your mouth, this is what you need to wash it out.

Next up is a comic series with a definite retro vibe: Southern Bastards by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour. It's basically a spin on Walking Tall (sort of a sequel) which at times feels a bit like a ritural dance, but Latour's artwork sells the story.


I've been giving Aaron's Original Sins heck on this site (and rightly so) but this is more like his excellent run on Scalped.

Finally, this last item is something I picked up at HeroesCon 2014 at the Twomorrows Publishing booth. A complete history of the Filmation animation studio.

 I've always been a fan of many of the classic Filmation cartoons, so I enjoyed reading about the history of the studio as they developed some of the shows that brightened up my Saturday mornings.

Among the many interesting facts in the book is the revelation that at one time DC sued Filmation for infringing on their Aquaman character when Filmation created a similar character called Moray (which was a part of Filmation's Tarzan and the Super Seven show)

 Now while comic companies suing to protect their intellectual property is nothing new, what made this case significant was that DC was trying to say that Manta and Moray were too derivative of Aquaman. It was this argument that allowed DC to win against Fawcett Comics when they said Captain Marvel was a Superman ripoff. As the book explains, DC had less success against Filmation.

Here's a clip of the old Manta and Moray cartoon:

Have a great weekend!

- Jim

Friday, July 4, 2014

My Nick Fury Original Sins 5 Rant

Spoiler Warning - if you plan to read the Original Sin Marvel series at a future date, then you will want to avoid this post. I'm going to discuss the ridiculous retcon of Nick Fury in issue 5, so if you don't want the details revealed, go enjoy your 4th of July in some other manner.

For those of you who stayed, here's the synopsis:

The Original Sin mini-series revolves around a mystery of the death of the Watcher which involved his eyes being plucked from his head. Said eyes seem to be giving off vibrations that cause people to remember things about their past. As story devices go, that's working well enough.

The problem is the other plot line in the event (which I've been sort of ignoring. You'll see why.) It's been revealed that someone has been going around the Marvel universe (in Space, the Dark Dimension, the Mole Man's underworld, etc...) and killing aliens, demons and giant subterranean monsters with magic god-killer gamma bullets.

Your brain is probably reeling from that last bit, so let me repeat it:

Magic
God-killer
Gamma
Bullets

Yep. Bullets. Like what come out of a gun. And these MGG bullets are capable of killing an entire living planet.

Again, I considered this (sub?) plot sort of rediculous, so I was mostly ignoring it. Unfortunately, in issue 5, the MGG Bullets plot gets a twist that makes it even dumber. Who is the guy running around shooting demons and aliens with magic bullets for the past 50 years?

It's Nick Fury.

See, apparently at the end of WW II, Nick Fury was saved from an alien attack by a old guy in a space suit named Woodrow McCord. McCord was part of some secret alliance that protected Earth from alien/demonic threats. McCord was fatally wounded in the battle...

Whereupon Howard Stark (Tony's dad) showed up and offered Fury a position as McCord's replacement.

Fury agrees and for the next 50 years Fury leads a double life as a guy who jumps around space and magical dimensions killing threats to Earth with Magic God-killer Gamma Bullets.

And his work as Director of SHIELD was basically, as he puts it, a Day Job.

And while I try to shrug off modern comics dumbassery like guns that shoot swords, this just was too much to bear.

Don't get me wrong - I see where writer Jason Aaron is getting his inspiration for this story:

I'm sure, at one point Aaron saw that cover and thought, "Wouldn't it be cool if Nick Fury was a secret Space Agent who went around killing planets with magic god-killer bullets" Note: Aaron has sort of a bullet fixation. In Spider-Man and Wolverine, he made a splash with the idea of a bullet filled with the Pheonix Force.

As a What If Story, that might have been cool (I guess.) but I feel it's a bit outlandish to completely redefining the current continuity Nick Fury like this.

See, this is my idea of who Nick Fury is...



What Original Sin 5 would have you believe is that all these years that Nick Fury was defending Earth against AIM and Hydra (globe spanning threats that would have been too pervasive for a single superhero) he had access to hyper advanced alien detection equipment and magic god-killer bullets AND was able to jump from space, to the Dark Dimension and the Mole Man's underworld kingdom with no trouble at all.

That's just stupid.

For one, how many alien threats have shown up on Earth? Oh, just about a million. In Fantastic Four alone. In the Marvel Universe as a whole, alien threats have been a backbone of almost half of every major event. So, if Fury was the Man on the Wall, he was doing a cruddy job.

The fundamental problem is that they retconned a character when they could have just made up a new one altogether and it would have worked better. Part of me wonders if they didn't want to use Ulysses Bloodstone, but due to a possible rights issue, that direction was nixed?

There was some early rumors that Bloodstone would be in the series. And I seem to recall reading an interview with Bloodstone Co-creator John Warner where it was suggested the ownership of the Bloodstone character wasn't cut and dry. (Which may be why he has been sort of replaced by daughter Elsa Bloodstone in the Marvel Universe.)

As it stands now, retconning Fury diminishes his previous adventures by saying that was just his day job. His REAL job was when he was shooting up giant demons in Dormmamu's backyard and nobody noticed for the last 40 years! I think it's far fetched that no one (Dr. Strange, Reed Richards, Professor X, etc...) never knew Nick Fury was out there jumping from planet to planet, dimension to dimension shooting aliens and monsters, and just leaving the bodies behind, and no one ever noticed and said anything about it.

The Anatomy Lesson this ain't!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Origins of a D-List Supervillain

Today, I'm proud to present an interview with Jim Bernheimer, author of the smash hit superhero novel Confessions of a D-List Supervillain (which I reviewed here.) Jim has just published a prequel to that novel called Origins of a D-List Supervillain. which brings back Cal Stringel, the vengeful engineer from Confessions and shows us how he got his start as a supervillain.

Shelley: I’m always impressed with the wit and charm of your writing. At times, it reminds me of Robert Asprin or Keith Laumer. Yet, the only modern writer you list on your website as an influence is CT Westcott. What authors influenced your style?

Bernheimer: I enjoy wit in my novels. One of the novels I always think about when it comes to that is Peter David’s Howling Mad. The premise is what happens to a wolf bitten by a werewolf. Stories like that which take something familiar and give it a new twist. The late Aaron Allston, who I was fortunate to meet had a very inventive novel called Galatea in 3D that had a real, “Wouldn’t it be cool if?” story behind it.


Shelley: Superhero novels have not always fared well in the publishing industry. In the 80’s George RR Martin’s Wild Cards series did pretty well, but by and large other authors ignored the genre. It wasn’t until the past few years with the Indy publishing boom that they really seemed to take off. What made you decide to write a superhero novel?

Bernheimer: I was looking for something that wasn’t being overdone and I’ve always like superheroes. A modified novella version of Confessions of a D-List Supervillain (basically the first five chapters with an alternate ending) appeared in the short story collection where I was testing the waters of what direction I’d like to go. The novella got all the reviews and so I decided to expand it into a larger piece, which is why I get so many, “It seems like two separate stories” reviews.

Shelley: Why did you chose to write from the point of view of a Super-villain?

Bernheimer:
Villains are more fun. Plus, I wanted to do the anti-hero. With a hero like Spiderman, you always have the struggle to do what is right. An anti-hero can fight their inner demons or invite them out to play.

Shelley: Confessions has an amazing Amazon rating (177 5 stars, 79 4 stars, 4 3 stars and only 1 2 and 1 star ratings!) That’s not only a testament to your skills as a writer but it also suggests your novel connected with readers. At this point, it appears to be your most popular book (at least on Amazon).  Did the success of this novel surprise you?

Bernheimer: I knew it was a good story. Timing was on my side because superhero movies were becoming hot. So, the success was more enjoyable than surprising. I could say that sales numbers don’t matter to me or some other type of altruistic rubbish, but my obsessively tracking them kind of flies in the face of that. What is surprising is when I’m looking at the reviews of other novels in the genre and the reviewer references my story. That’s humbling and encouraging when people like my writings enough to discuss it.

Shelley: One of the things I enjoyed about Confessions of a D-List Supervillain, the first published book in this series, was the number of interesting heroes (Ultraweapon, Aphrodite, The Biloxi Bugler, ect...) you introduced. It was good to see The Biloxi Bugler show up again in Origins. Might we one day see a novel told from the viewpoint of one of your Superheroes?

Bernheimer: Probably. I have Cal’s story plotted out, but there is room for expansion.

Shelley: I started with Confessions but now that Origins of a D-List Supervillain (the prequel), what book would be best for new readers to begin with?  

Bernheimer: It doesn’t really matter to me. Most of the reviewers are recommending that people new to the universe start with Origins now.


Shelley: Did you read comic books when you were growing up? If so, did you have a favorite comic or superhero?

Bernheimer: Yes. I stopped collecting in the early 90’s. Sad that seems like a long time ago now. I was more of a Marvel guy as opposed to DC. I read a lot of Xmen, but for some reason I always had a soft spot for Alpha Flight.


Shelley: If Hollywood called you up tomorrow and said they wanted to make a movie out of Origins of a D-list Supervillain, who would you want to play Mechani-Cal?

Bernheimer: I used Randall from Clerks as a mental model for Cal when I was writing the story – so Jeff Anderson.


Shelley: You write very convincing Engineering details in your book. Do you have an Engineering background?

Bernheimer: I was nuclear power plant technician during my stint in the Navy. After I got out, I went into computers after a stint as a Radcon tech. I would never claim to be an Engineer, since usually that requires a degree in that field and professional licensing, but I do have a technical background and try to make my science at least somewhat grounded in reality.

Shelley: With Origins completed, what are you working on now? 

Bernheimer: I’m clearing my plate so I can start the next D-List books. I have a finish listening to the audiobook of Spirals of Destiny Book 2, the audiobook for Origins is in production and should be done in July, there is a short story written in the D-List universe about the Semi-Transparent man (In Origins, Cal mentions him briefly during his prison stint). It’s a stretch goal in an anthology, but it might not make it in.

I will probably try to write the 3rd and 4th books in the D-List universe and release them together.  As I started laying out the 3rd book, I figured that I’d have Stacy wanting to know the details behind Cal’s sleight of hand. The problem was as I was doing this, I realized there was enough for a “Companion” piece to Confessions that covers Cal’s time with the Gulf Coast Guardians in more detail and the time period between the last chapter of the book and the two epilogues contained in Confessions.  So, the third book has the working title of Secrets of a D-List Supervillain (or perhaps Omissions of a D-List Supervillain) and the fourth book will be either Rise of a D-List Supervillain (or Trials of a D-List Supervillain).

Guess I’d better get writing. 

Shelley: Thank you for participating in this interview!

Bernheimer: Thanks for having me!

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