Glad you asked.  Or, to be exact, glad I asked me on your behalf.

Hit the break for the latest news and my views.  Drop a comment and argue with me while you’re here.

CAPTAIN AMERICA.  I’m leading with this: How awesome was the Avengers preview after the movie?  100 percent awesome.  Check it out here:


DETECTIVE COMICS #880.  With the iconic Joker-by-Jock cover, this is one of the best Batman/Joker stories I’ve read since…Ever.  If you’re not reading this, you’re stupid.

THE WALKING DEAD UPDATES.  I understand that AMC has a few critical darling shows right now (Breaking Bad, The Killing), so maybe they’re getting spoiled…But I would think they’d take better care of a show that one of the highest cable debuts of all time.  Writer, producer, director and showrunner Frank Darabont has left the show.  Darabont also adapted (brilliantly) a few Stephen King stories into movies you might have heard of—including Shawshank Redemption (one of my top 10 movies of all time) and The Mist (one of the best, scariest horror films of the last 10 years—and it did it without being torture porn!).  Another show writer, Glen Mazzara, is taking on the showrunner position, and Robert Kirkman and Gale Anne Hurd are continuing on in producer roles as well.  So maybe all will be fine…But it’s never good to lose someone of Darabont’s stature right in the middle of filming, and for the departure to be so abrupt and unexplained.

GREEN LANTERN 2 WILL BE EDGY…  The Prez of Warner Bros. says the next one will be edgier—if they make it at all.  That’s the word he used.  “Edgier.”  Was that really the problem with the movie?  A guy with a ring that makes giant boxing gloves is not really known for edge.  The problem with the movie is that it wasn’t any fun.  Making it edgier is just going to make it worse.  If that’s possible.  Jeff Robinov’s exact quote was: “We had a decent opening so we learned there is an audience. To go forward we need to make it a little edgier and darker with more emphasis on action…. And we have to find a way to balance the time the movie spends in space versus on Earth.”  Ahem.  No, Jeff, that ain’t the problem.  It’s having a girlfriend with zero depth and a Hal Jordan whose character made no sense—and was completely unlikeable.  It’s having the other Lanterns basically exist only as comedy relief or background noise.  It’s having a villain that looked like smoke, and had the personality of smoke, too.  If you want a good GL movie, it’s really not that hard: Focus on the characters, stupid.  That’s what made Thor and Captain America and X-Men First Class so great.  Good character development, good dialog, and, perhaps most important: A good villain.  In the same interview, Robinov said that they have a “solid” script for the next Flash.  “Solid?”  That’s the best he could do?  Is he describing his next DC film or his next bowel movement?  Or both?  Tell you what: Don’t do another GL (which frees Ryan Reynolds up for Deadpool), just give us a really, really good Superman movie.  That hasn’t been done in over 20 years.

…BUT GHOST RIDER 2 WILL BE GRITTY.  And the Ghost Rider panel at SDCC mentioned that the new film, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, will be “grittier.”  That wouldn’t take much—the first film was neither gritty nor edgy.  (Nor interesting, for that matter.)  This one is based on the too-brief and seemingly truncated Garth Ennis run on the character, which was one of the stronger comic book runs for this character (whose comics typically, ahem, suck).  It’s also directed by the guys who did the Jason Statham movie Crank, so I’ve got hopes…And stars Nic Cage again, which can be very good or atrocious, depending on which Nic Cage shows up to the set.  Anyway, the shots released so far look damn cool.  And, really, Ghost Rider has always been about the look…

WOLVERINE MOVIE.  If and when it ever gets made, Wolverine 2 will star an almost-too-old-for-this Hugh Jackman in a script based on the (brilliant) Claremont-Miller miniseries in which Wolverine fights Silver Samurai.
SHRAPNEL IS BIG-SCREEN BOUND AS WELL.  Mark Long’s Radical Comic’s indie title Shrapnel: Aristeia Rising, a 5-issue space opera about a rebellion on Venus against the oppressive “Solar Alliance” government, is finally scripted and their seeking an actress to play the lead rebel, Samantha.  Hillary Swank is circling the boat.  Radical comics is basically a shop that makes comics to sell to movie studios.  The film has a ready-to-go sequel, the second comic book miniseries Shrapnel: Hubris.  I’m not sure how I feel about a comic book company that solely produces comic books in order to get a movie deal.  That’s basically the story with Cowboys and Aliens, which was given away at many comic book stores in order to generate hype and get readers.  On the one hand, I’m in favor of anything that brings attention to the medium.  On the other hand, it delegitimizes comics as an art form when they are used merely as a sales tool.  Of course, Andy Warhol said the same thing with his Campbells Soup art…
AND SPEAKING OF COMMERCIALIZED COMICS…MILLARWORD.  Mark Millar, for a brief, shining moment was one of the best writers in comicdom.  Now, his product is much less even.  But his “Superior” series is flat out terrific.  For those who’ve wondered what happened to it (publication was halted recently), Millar promises it’s back on track with two issues to ship in October and then the first story arc will end with a double-sized #7 in November.  Number seven?!?  And double-sized?!?  Has he no respect for the trade industry standard of 5-issue arcs!?!  After that, his long-promised superhero heist book, Supercrooks, will begin in January.  And he says he’s already sold it to a movie studio.  Sigh.  See the item above this one.  But I guess if the books are good, no harm no foul.
DAREDEVIL #1.  Lived up to every high expectation.  Nay, it surpassed them.  And it is a perfect jumping on point for new readers.

FEAR ITSELF.  Sucks.  Really.  It didn’t even make sense when Tony Stark drank alcohol to get attention from Odin.  First of all, there’s been no indication in his regular book that he was getting closer to falling off the wagon.  And second of all, it was completely random and weird.  And killing Bucky in an event rather than in his own book was a slap in the face of regular readers of Captain America.  Now they’re going to be extending the concept of evil magic hammers into a post-event event titled “Battlescars.”  I won’t be participating.  But if you’re asking can an event be even lamer, the answer has to be: See Flashpoint.  Here’s an “event” that we all KNOW doesn’t matter because DC is completely re-doing it’s universe anyway, and it seems fairly obvious at this point that Flashpoint is just a long-winded way of saying “Retcon!”  We know the Flashpoint U won’t matter.  Martha Wayne won’t be Joker.  Superman won’t be a latch-key kid.  Come on.

MAN OF STEEL.  For the Superman reboot,Laurence Fishburne will play Daily Planet editor Perry White.  Question: With newspapers becoming increasingly less relevant, shouldn’t Clark Kent work for something other than a paper in the DC reboot?

THE MIGHTY IS FILMBOUND.  I’m pretty sure I’ve reported on this before, but Peter J. Tomasi and Keith Champagne’s long-running comic The Mighty now has a screenwriter: Drew Pearce, author of the BBC superhero sitcom “No Heroics.”  I haven’t been able to score a copy of a DVD of that show yet, but I hear it was good.  Anyway, Pearce is currently writing Iron Man 3, which I’m sure will take priority over this project anyway.
MARVEL POINT ONE.  Here’s an interesting way to promote new series: In November 2011, Marvel will publish an oversized volume titled “Marvel Point One” that will feature original short stories (not previews of upcoming books) about most of its major characters/properties (Deadpool, FF, Thor, Spidey, X-Men, Cap, Iron Man, Avengers, Punisher, etc.) that will show where those series will be going in the next year or so.  It’s a cool idea to this rather than a “preview” book that simply repeats pages in coming books, because the original stories may be enough to hook new readers.

YOUNG JUSTICE.  Will return for a second season next year (the first season was ridiculously short), and will include a non-team ep focusing on Red Arrow.  It’s a great show.  Can’t wait.

X-MEN DESTINY.  I so can’t wait for this Activision game, set to release in September.  You get to be a new mutant, pick her powers, decide whether to take sides with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants or the X-Men…And you can of course play Cyclops, Wolverine, Gambit, Psylocke, Havoc, Nightcrawler, Storm, Magneto, Juggernaut, etc.  I hope it’s 4 player, like Marvel Ultimate Alliance (probably my favorite game ever).

DOC STRANGE MOVIE.  Supposedly, Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer have turned in a script (they wrote the new Conan movie and helped write Cowboys & Aliens), and Marvel Studios is tarting to talk about hiring a director.  I have to say, though, that out of all the properties they could push to the big screen, the Doc would be low on my list.  Just off the top of my head I can reel off a half-dozen better, more interesting, more accessible films: Power Man and Iron Fist (a 1970s style film would be cool as hell); Power Pack (come on, man, bring some kid-friendly flicks on board!); Black Panther or Falcon or Shang Chi (let’s get some color going!); Deadpool(!); Winter Soldier (come on, a cool spy flick spinning out of Captain America!); or even a Howard the Duck and Man Thing flick.  Hell, the one I really want is NEXTWAVE: Agents of H.A.T.E.  Bring it.

G.I. JOE vs. SPIDER-MAN.  G.I. Joe 2 and the Spidey reboot are slated for virtually simultaneous releases, with Joe out on June 29, 2012, and Spidey on July 3.

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, THE BEST TRADES OF JULY:  Only four recommendations this month.  Hmmm.  Either a slow month, or I haven’t been watching the publication schedule closely enough.

4.  Essential Spider-Man Vol. 10.  Yeah, it’s black and white, but these stories include (finally!) some of the Roger Stern era—the best Spidey ever told.  Collecting Amazing Spider-Man #211-230, it includes three of my favorite comic books of all time: Spider-Man vs. The Foolkiller (a done-in-one) and Spidey vs. Juggernaut (a done-in-two, and possibly the greatest 2-part comic book of all time).  500 pages and just twenty bucks.
3.  Avengers Academy Vol. 2: Real World.  You can wait for the paperback if you like, but don’t sleep on what is far and away the best Avengers book on the market in years.
2.  Scarlet Book One.  Proving that Brian Michael Bendis is still capable of greatness.
1.  Incognito Vol. 2: Bad Influences.  Brubaker and Phillips return to their masterful tale of a supervillain in witness protection.

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