First of all, I want to thank all of you who have been digg-ing and Stumble-Uponing these posts.  Their popularity is the reason I keep doing them so regularly.

1.  Marvel/Lionsgate just released a box set Marvel Animation’s 6 DVD movies.  Thought I’d let you know whether it’s worth the price.  Inside, you’ll get:

Ultimate Avengers 1. A pretty faithful (but abbreviated and somewhat sanitized) rendition of the Ultimates comic book, focusing on the Avengers-vs-Hulk-vs-aliens story.  Excellent animation and voicework, well-paced story, perfect for all ages.  A+.

Ultimate Avengers 2. Not nearly as good as the first, with a story about Black Panther that’s kind of muddled.  Still, the big heroes are there, and the animation is all aces, as is the voice talent.  B+.

Iron Man. Yet another origin story.  Pretty faithful to the comic (and movie) versions.  Good, but Iron Man is just not one of my personal faves.  B-.

Doctor Strange. A surprisingly engaging origin story, given that the Master of Mystic Arts is usually handled badly.  The art neatly balances the realistic against the psychedelic.  B+.

Next Avengers. When I found out that they’d ditched “Young Avengers” for this futuristic tale, I got annoyed.  But then I saw it.  It’s definitely geared towards 9-12 year olds, but it’s solid fun, well-drawn, entertaining, and with a fresh, original storyline.  A-.

Hulk Vs. The “Thor” story was a snoozer.  The Wolverine was good, but not great.  C for Thor, B- for Wolverine, giving it a C+ average.

2.  All of the above is in advance of the coming Planet Hulk DVD.  Which I can’t wait to see.  I’ve heard it hews very close to the comic story, which is probably the greatest Hulk story ever and one of the best Marvel story arcs of the decade.

3.  Green Lantern! Just so Marvel doesn’t get all the news this week, Martin “Casino Royale” Campbell, director of the Green Lantern movie, has revealed that there are a tremendous number of visual effects being used on the film—over 1,300—and has implied that most of the movie will indeed take place in outer space.  And Lantern will make his patented big green fist.  Due in 2011.

4.  And now back to Marvel: I’ve told you guys before about how Marvel plans to make it’s “Siege” event a four-issue, self-contained series.  Well, that’s their plan for 2010 in general: They’ve got four 4-issue events planned: Siege, Fall of the Hulks, a Spider-Man/One More Day story called The Gauntlet and something called The Second Coming of The X-Men.  (Seems to me, they’ve already arrived at least four times in the past 20 years, but whatever.)   Marvel’s also going to be offering a free “Siege” preview book on December 30, which will have 8 pages of Bendis-scripted background and Official Handbook To The Marvel Universe style fact sheets on the major Siege players.  The overall editorial plan is for 2010 to be “Hero Age,” presumably after so many years of villains winning in the Marvel U again and again and again.  It’s about time, guys.  The MU has been dark and cynical for too long.  Having super-powers is, after all, cool-as-hell and should be fun.  These days, only Hercules, Spidey and Deadpool seem to understand that.

5.  A few quick shots:  They’ll start on Sin City 2 in 2010, based on an original script by Frank Miller (the first film was based on his Sin City graphic novels, but you knew that, right?).  They’re also working on another Alien—a prequel.  The good news: It’ll be done by Ridley Scott!  Last but not least, they’re also talking about filming a Men In Black 3 in 2010.  I loved #1.  Number 2, not so much.

6.  Thor’s daddy!  Anthony Hopkins has signed on as Odin for the Thor flick, which is being directed by Kenneth Branagh and will be released in 2011.

7.  And just because this is a big post getting bigger, I’m closing with the latest on the Avengers movie.  There will be tie-ins to Iron Man 2, and the lineup for Avengers is confirmed to include: Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America (the stars of Marvel’s Siege book).  Nick Fury and Black Widow will bring S.H.I.E.L.D. along, in all likelihood, but the script isn’t done yet.  What’s taking so long, guys?

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