It’s the last day of August, which means it’s time to start thinking about Halloween season, with autumn breaking through and all this 100 degree temperature heat will at least start to fade. We’re looking forward to the national Halloween ComicFest the weekend of October 26-27, 2013 and Elite Comics’ Comic Book Day of the Dead.
Dark Horse Comics and Sequential Pulp Comics are releasing a hardcover volume this month with a great holiday themed adventure involving a group of odd superheroes. The Halloween Legion: The Great Goblin Invasion, written by Martin Powell (who wrote an earlier prose version), co-created by Diana Leto, with art by Thomas Boatwright, could be considered the Halloween answer to Christmas’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Other than The Peanuts’ It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, there aren’t many recurring classic Halloween works that have become iconic. The Halloween Legion is a good attempt to create such a work.
By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)
When I think of Steve Carell, I think of The Office and how the American version turned out to be different than the British version just because Carell is so much more likable than Ricky Gervais. I think of Even Stevphen with him and Stephen Colbert on The Daily Show. I think of The 40 Year Old Virgin and how I found it to be one of the funniest movies I’ve seen because of the way Carell played the sweet awkwardness of Andy.
Within the first 15 minutes of The Way, Way Back, I find it impressive that Jim Rash and Nat Faxon made me dislike him more than I would have thought ever possible. I’m not talking a mild dislike; I mean an active repulsion where I put my hand over my mouth in shock before I ball it into a fist to control my anger. Then, they keep ratcheting that feeling higher.
Born in a log cabin in Oregon 43 years ago this month, River Phoenix was raised much like the character he played in the acclaimed film The Mosquito Coast. He was born into a flower child family and grew into a vegetarian, member of PETA, and supporter of saving the rain forests. He was an activist, a creator, a musician and actor who no doubt would have been a key figure in the mid-1990s American culture had he not died from an overdose of narcotics outside of Johnny Depp’s club in L.A. He was 23 years old and has been gone 20 years this October.
Like other famous people who died before 40, like James Dean, Buddy Holly, Jim Morrison, Brandon Lee, JFK, Jr, Chris Farley, Karen Carpenter, Andy Gibb, Princess Diana, John Belushi, and–as we revisit the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., 50 years after his “I Have a Dream” speech this week–you can’t help wonder what someone like Phoenix would be doing had he not made a wrong life turn back in 1993.
Years ago I had the great fortune of living in Vancouver, Washington, across the beautiful Columbia River from Portland, and every day I watched the skyline of Mt St. Helens as I drove to work downtown. Fifty years before that, my dad peered up at St. Helens as he walked to school in that same Pacific Northwest town. The big difference of what he saw–compared to what I saw–was the top of the mountain was gone, destroyed more than 15 years before I got there when the volcano reared its force across southwest Washington, devastating the forests and towns and lives of several people nearby, killing nearly 60 people, nearly 7,000 deer, elk and bears, and 12 million fish.
The eruption was still a topic of conversation years after the blast. Vancouver had been covered in ash. People shoveled ash like it was snow, and it even looked like dirty snow. Vancouver and towns closer to the blast zone’s 230 square mile destruction area were just plain lucky the 24 megaton blast of energy didn’t stretch any further. Even 20 years after the blast, remnants remained. We were having our home re-roofed and a worker fell through into our family room pulling with him pounds and plumes of ash that had sat quietly in the shingles and attic all those years.
As a kid watching the blast on TV, I learned a new word: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, a disease from inhaling the ash and in its plural form the biggest word in Webster’s Dictionary. The blast also brought memories from my dad about his service days around the city Pompeii, including reviewing his photos of the aftermath of Mt. Vesuvius and solidified stone tombs still documenting the last acts of the townspeople. With 1,934 years removed from the tragic event, it’s easy to marvel at how interesting these people looked. Yet I had a newly found sense of horror last week, reading the New York Times front page news of Syria. Horrific photos showed the gassed suburb of Damascus, with families also found dead in various states of simply living their lives, left in this strange, unreal-yet-too-real and disturbing way. These people were of course murdered, in contrast to the Vesuvius natural disaster, but both events are similarly shocking.
Count it among the best performances of both Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt, the 1995 Terry Gilliam modern sci-fi 12 Monkeys is the kind of brilliantly written, post-apocalyptic science fiction movie that would receive a best picture Oscar nod today with the Academy’s pool of 10 potential nominees. It’s serious, dramatic science fiction, not the typical stuff of your average Syfy Channel made for TV movie. But today the Syfy Channel announced it has ordered a pilot for a TV series based on the movie.
The movie 12 Monkeys followed an unstuck-in-time convict in the year 2035 named James Cole, played by Willis, who is repeatedly sent back into the past to uncover the source of a plague reputed to be spread by an “Army of the Twelve Monkeys”–a plague that will one day kill most of the population of Earth unless the scientists can stop the virus in its inception before it mutates. Unfortunately the future’s time travel technology is flawed, and Cole is shot farther back in time than planned, to 1990, where he is arrested and kept in a mental institution. Madeleine Stowe played a psychiatrist in the film and Brad Pitt a patient with Cole, making a sort of odd coupling like Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman in Papillon.
Movie trailers are all about puffery–all about showing the best and hiding the worst and finding that right calculation that will get viewers into the theater. Typically studios won’t lie to viewers, and if you see a movie that isn’t stellar you can often go back and see that a closer study of the trailer would have informed you of precisely what you were getting. You might end up with a good movie despite bad trailer, but more often good trailers point us to a movie whose best scenes were in that trailer–and not much else. A Good Day to Die Hard is one of those movies whose trailers pretty much pointed out that there would be a problem with the movie. Like last year’s Total Recall remake, this fifth movie in the franchise of Bruce Willis as John McClane, ultimately just suffers from a poor script. How hard is it to give fans what they want with these popular franchises?
Readers of the anthology series Dark Horse Presents will have already read it in serial form, but those who haven’t will be in for a sci-fi TV inspired treat with this week’s release of the one-shot Station to Station. Co-written by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Sara Bechko with art by Hardman, this Outer Limits-inspired tale chronicles the aftermath of a laboratory experiment into parallel universes when the experiment goes incredibly wrong. Set in San Francisco Bay’s Treasure Island, Station to Station reads like a short story from a sci-fi compilation like Philip K. Dick’s Short Stories or Ray Bradbury’s Short Stories, only in graphic novel form. It begs the question: Why not take a bunch of sci-fi stories like these and make an ongoing monthly comic book series out of them?
As to genre, Station to Station fits in the mix of sci-fi that crosses over into horror, like many of the best tales from The Twilight Zone–the cool thrilling and chilling kind of horror as opposed to the goopy gory kind. Unlike a lot that comes out of Dark Horse Presents that have grown into ongoing series, Station to Station doesn’t need a series because it does what it needs in a single issue.
Our Firefly readers should like this news from Dark Horse Comics. It’s not the much-desired return of Mal & Co. to the screen, but it’s still what we need, as Christopher Walken would say, “more Firefly.” Dark Horse announced on its blog late today that something is in the works for Serenity comics. The publisher mentioned no specifics, but offered the following tease:
Joss Whedon’s beloved Firefly series and Serenity film’s lifespan may have been short-lived, but managed to produce one of the most dedicated fanbases in the history of modern science fiction. Dark Horse is proud to be able to keep Mal and his crew flying with new comics and products. Look for the hashtag #WheresSerenity over the next few months on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages for exclusive news on the future of the franchise at Dark Horse!
Dark Horse also released the above four-part animation showing the steps in creating a comic book page featuring the Firefly class ship Serenity. It looks great!
Art designers or aspiring art design students will want to pick up Mark Salisbury’s new look at creating sets, costumes and props for a world of the future in Elysium: The Art of the Film. Incorporating commentary from the up-and-coming science fiction director of the geo-political sci-fi thriller District 9, Neill Blomkamp, this new large format hardcover delves into the creative process from early ponderings to the imagery that made it to the final film cut.
Like listening to the first demo tapes of your favorite band or scanning the rough sketches of your favorite artist, taking a peek at the development of Hollywood magic through various aspects of a film can teach you a lot about a designer. Watching the development of a cyborg exo-skeletal costume from inception to final crafted piece challenges the reader to agree or disagree with what is cut and what isn’t. What physical elements, like utilitarian tubes and pipes, plastics or metals, make us think of the visual “future”?
It’s pretty quick, but the BBC teaser trailer for Sherlock Season 3 reveals that Sherlock Holmes is alive and well despite the Season 2 cliffhanger (OK, duh), and we get to see Martin Freeman’s John Watson return (with moustache!), Una Stubb as landlady Mrs. Hudson, Louise Brealey as hopeless Sherlock fan/lab assistant Molly Hooper, and Mark Gatiss as brother Mycroft.
We were afraid that both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman might not return to Sherlock with their newfound Hollywood star power, with Cumberbatch as Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness and Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit trilogy. And we were only a wee bit disappointed that the BBC didn’t tap Cumberbatch for the 12th Doctor, but we woke up and realized Cumberbatch can’t play every role out there, can he?
Three episodes are in the queue: “The Empty Hearse,” “The Sign of Three,” and “His Last Vow.” Why, why, why can’t the Brits give us at least a 13-episode series???
Enjoy this teaser, complete with that excellent Sherlock theme music:
BBC has issued no release dates yet, in the UK or U.S., for the premier of Season 3.