1. X-MEN: FIRST CLASS. Of all the upcoming cape flicks, this is the one I’m second-most-looking-forward-to (first is Avengers, natch!). Despite the title, the film will include not just the original 5 muties from the Stan Lee era, but also will have Banshee, Magneto (of course), Emma Frost, and Havok.
2. ULTIMATE THOR. The “Ultimates” line used to be the gold standard for Marvel comic storytelling. The relaunch, not so much. But one of the most interesting, complex authors of our time, Jonathan Hickman, is beginning work on an Ultimate Thor title. With art by Pacheco, I just don’t see how this can be bad.
3. SHADOWLAND. I’ve read some pretty mediocre reviews for the debut of Marvel’s street-level, post-Siege, summer “event,” titled Shadowland, and I disagree with all of them. It blew me away. The new Daredevil costume is wicked cool, Andy Diggle did a terrific job at setting up the series as a stand-alone, so you don’t have to know what’s been going in the pages of Daredevil to understand it, but at the same time he made the book flow at a breakneck pace. And Billy Tan might not be the best choice for this, but he’s still very good. (Yeah, Maleev or De La Torre would have been terrific, but Tan’s no slouch.) All in all, I can’t wait for the next one. Of course, I’m a complete Daredevil whore. I even bought that terrible Luke Cage/Daredevil Cagematch one shot from last month. Ugh.
4. THE END OF BRAND NEW DAY. If you’ve read my blog for any period of time, you know I’m a big fan of the thrice-monthly, rotating creative team behind Amazing Spider-Man, Brand New Day. It was a great way to reconcile Marvel’s desire to make money with the character by publishing multiple appearances every month with the chaos that came from having several different Spider-titles, each with ongoing story arcs. Marvel is putting a period on this experiment, however, with issue #647. That will be a giant-size story with contributions from all the creative people who have worked on Brand New Day over the previous 100 issues. The title will then go twice a month with one writer (Dan Slott). Twice monthly is definitely enough Spider-Man (take note, Deadpool!), but my fear is that we’ll start to see a rising number of companion books, like the lame and poorly selling Peter Parker monthly.
5. THE PREVIEWS BEFORE PREDATORS. Predators didn’t suck. But it wasn’t great, either. The big problem for me was Adrien Brody trying to sound like Clint Eastwood. It would have been a lot better with a real “action hero” type in the lead. But it was a solid release. Best thing, though, was the preview for Robert Rodriguez’s next film: Machete. Now, that looks awesome.
6. R.E.D. (Retired—Extremely Dangerous). DC Comics seems to be making movies based on its imprint books more than its major heroes. Another one is coming out in October, starring Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren (in an action role!), Morgan Freeman, and others. It looks like it’s gonna be a scream.
7. RUNAWAYS. And speaking of film projects about lesser-known comics, Marvel is ready to begin filming the Runaways movie at the beginning of 2011. The comic is a pretty cool book by Brian K. Vaughan (Ex Machina) and Adrian Alphona about six children of supervillains who become superheroes and try to defeat their parents. Yeah, it’s borderline Oedipal, but it worked for the first several issues, at least. And Vaughan wrote the movie script.
8. 3D THOR AND CAPTAIN AMERICA. Yeah, they’ll be 3D. Headaches abound. But this pic is pretty cool.
9. BATMAN #701. And last but not least, this week Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel produced Batman #701, which fills the gap between Batman R.I.P. and Final Crisis, explaining how Bruce survived the helicopter crash at the end of R.I.P. only to be R.I.P. at the end of Crisis. I always suspected Morrison intended to kill Batman in the ‘copter explosion, but D.C. wanted their Crisis to end with a bang so they made Bats survive, without explanation, only to get “murdered” by Darkseid. I can’t prove it, but that’s always been my hunch. Otherwise, why was that storyline called “Batman R.I.P.”?