1. Blackest Night. Geoff Johns recently said that Vic Sage (the original Question character) will a Black Lantern. It’s not clear if he was kidding. But he also said that Rainbow Raider would rise, and be “called the Black and White Raider. And I’m not joking. He’s not happy about it.” How are my comic-readers digging Blackest Night? I have to say, I find the three spin offs (Superman/Teen Titans/Batman) better than the main series, because not enough is happening in the main series. I dig it, especially because DC needs to clean up its roster through mass murder, but there’s not enough story or development. That said, the Titans spin off is not great. And issue #3 of the main BN story rocked. I get the sense that Geoff is finally done with the intros, and the action is about to start.
2. Venom: The Movie. Spider-Man 3 wasn’t a terrible movie, and it would have been viewed with much more sympathy if one and two hadn’t been two of the greatest superhero flicks ever made but the movie lacked the heart, charm, and character of its predecessors. Why? Because, as cool as he looks, Venom just isn’t a great character. There, I said it. I know lots of folks love him in the comics, but the Spidey books took a bad turn when Roger Stern left, pursuing all kinds of symbiotes, clone wars, marriages, and the like. Spider-Man is at his best when he’s fighting garish weirdos with minor-league powers (Doc Ock, Vulture, Lizard, Electro . . . even Rhino). When he’s up against pure evil, he’s just not as much fun. And Spider-Man should always be fun. (It took Brand New Day to relaunch Spidey and get him back on track, with new silly enemies like The Spot and Jackpot). Not every comic book has to be dark and cynical. But, in spite of his nearly killing the quality of the Spider-Franchise, they’ve announced that a Venom movie is in the works—written by Gary Ross, who wrote “Big” and “Pleasantville.” Talk about playing against type! They’re going to turn him into a crime fighter. Y’know, if they’re going to waste time on this (why not another X-movie, or start filming Spidey 5 concurrent with 4, even), I hope they take this suggestion: Go over the top. Bring in Carnage and lots of baby venoms, and make it a giant, amorphous slugfest. One thing that does give me hope: The script is by the two geniuses behind “Zombieland”, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Z-Land is the most fun I’ve had at the movies this year, with maybe two exceptions. If anyone can give a heart to a movie about what is essentially a parasitic oil slick, it’s these guys.
3. Deadpool Movie. And while I’m on the subject of mutant movies, the DP movie is also moving forward. Still in initial meetings, but Rob Liefeld (the creator of the character) is on the meetings, a good sign that they won’t screw up the character the way they did in the Wolverine movie. (Deadpool with no mouth?!?) I know some people worry about overexposing superheroes in movies, but will audiences really get tired of them? I doubt it. Plus, I think movies like District 9 and G.I. Joe showed that you don’t have to have Transformers-level FX to make a sold popcorn flick. (Of course, if G.I. Joe had spent a little of the money they saved on a script, it could have been even better!) I’m not saying they should do it on the cheap, but a good story will be exciting even without a gazillion dollar budget.
4. Marvel: The Siege. I don’t read Dark Avengers because I can’t afford to read Dark, Mighty, New and all the other side Avengers books. It’s just too much. But author Brian Michael Bendis seems to be 2009-10’s Mark Millar (or, in D.C. terms, Geoff Johns), in the sense that Marvel seems to be building the universe around Bendis’ storylines. To wit: This December will bring Siege: The Cabal (by Brian Michael Bendis), which will begin the next big “Event.” Y’know, the one that J. Michael Straczynski quit Thor over because he felt like Marvel was pressuring its fans to spend way too much money each month. The Siege will involve reuniting Iron Man, Captain America and Thor to finally take a stand against all the ridiculous developments of the last two years (which were largely engineered by Norman Osborn). First of all, if those three take down Norm, instead of Spider-Man, there’s no poetic justice in the Marvel Universe. Second, if I’m required to buy six or seven new books each month—like they did to us with House of M—I just ain’t gonna do it. They better find a way to handle this like they did with Civil War, where ripples were felt in every book but just buying the miniseries was enough.
5. HULK (a.k.a., Red Hulk). I’ve been buying this book pretty regularly since #1, though I dropped off when they diverged into putting three stories in each issue, but I’m not sure why. At first, it was because Ed McGuinness is a genius artist who brought with him the muscular comic flair he’s shown in books like Deadpool, creating beautiful, hilarious, completely ridiculous full-page (sometimes 2-page) pictures of things like Hulk holding a gigantic pistol or Hulk tackling Thor. McGuiness is gone, though, and although I’ve liked Jeph Loeb’s writing in other contexts, he’s just plain annoying here. I stopped watching the TV show Lost because they never answered any questions and my ass was numb from all the tickling-with-a-feather. I’m at that point now with Rulk. If they don’t do something move this along, other than show more and more Marvel U heroes fighting, then this book will be nothing more than a lost opportunity. A loud one, to be sure, but a lost one all the same. I’m giving them two more issues.
6. X-Men: First Class (the movie). When I talk to fellow comic nerds, no one ever mentions the X-Men: First Class series that came out over the past two years. I’m not sure why, either. They were a solid group of books. The quality may have dipped a few times, particularly at the end, but it was fun to read about the original Xers in untold tales that took place between the comic books. Plus, the books were fine for all ages, which is nice because the regular X-books aren’t. (At a minimum, even if you take out all the sex, they’re just too damn confusing for anyone without a High School diploma or a history of studying the Torah.) So maybe I’m the only one excited about the idea of an X-Men: First Class movie. But in case I’m not, I thought I’d pass along that news that Tim Pocock twittered that he was cast as Cyclops. He played young Cyke in X-Men Origins: Wolverine—a minor role in that film. But casting is a good sign of progress, isn’t it? Filming isn’t supposed to start until mid-2010. He later recanted his twit (can you do that?), but that’s probably just his agent telling him not to get out ahead of the studio in announcing the new.
7. Ghost Rider 2. Good news about the “Ghost Rider” sequel: They dumped writer/director Mark Steven (“Daredevil”) Johnson in favor of David (“The Dark Knight” and “Blade”) Goyer. The first GR flick was a hot pile of blazing lame. The comic book has rarely been anything more than mediocre. And Nic Cage hasn’t done much worthwhile since Wild At Heart. So, can we really hope that Ghost Rider 2 won’t suck? Yeah, we can hope. Because despite his past, the Rider is the Coolest. Looking. Hero. Ever.