Thursday, July 30, 2015

Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD (1998 television film)

**Once, a loooong time ago, the Marvel brand was not the cinematic behemoth that it is now. Yes, youngsters, there was a time before X-Men, Iron Man and Blade. Novelist Brian Baer took a 90-minute look into that dark time recently and came back with this dispatch of what he witnessed.**

The 90's was a weird period for Marvel. Between the chromium covers and bankruptcies, the company had found success in animated series, namely with X-Men and Spider-Man. They attempted to spin that momentum into live-action properties in 1996 with a made-for-TV movie/pilot for a Generation X TV series. That show wasn't picked up, but in 1998, they gave it another try with an adaptation of their long-running super-spy, Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

PANEL TO PIXELS: The Wolf Among Us (2014 video game)

**Panel to Pixels is a new column that will examine video game adaptation of comic books. I've discussed video game's take on specific characters only a couple of times in the past. And really, I had always figured this blog would focus on film and television. However, after playing this game I felt the need to share it. And once the flood gates are open, you know how it goes...**

Comic books and video games have had a long history together. Sadly, that history has largely been marred with sloppy, second-rate productions that are more about cashing in on a licensed character than they are about making a decent game (Superman 64 immediately springs to mind). That said, there have been some shining examples of how good a comic book video game can be. The Arkham series has created a bankable franchise out of Batman and his ever-expanding rogues' gallery and a game based on X-Men Origins: Wolverine ended up being far, far better than the film of the same name. Again, those are the rarities. Whenever a comic-based game is announced it's always met with a healthy dose of skepticism, even if the company working on it has a proven track-record in designing top-notch licensed content.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Blade is the first new CommentaryCasts to be posted in this new format. Starring Wesley Snipes, this 1998 film is the first to kick-off the modern "Golden Age" of comic book films. That's especially interesting since the studio that released it, New Line, didn't promote it as such. It's not too odd considering the cinematic pedigree of movies based on comics at the time (and let's not forget that this was only a year after the Great Bat-Implosion...also called Batman and Robin). But it's cool to see the cinematic juggernaut that comic book movies (and Marvel especially) have become, with much thanks going to the strong foundation that Blade laid. Brian and I discovered that even with dated cgi, it's still an incredibly entertaining action flick.

Monday, June 29, 2015

PILOT LITE: 2014-2015 Season in Review

The 2014/15 television season has become well known as the season of the comic book television series. While we used to be content with the occasional Smallville or Birds of Prey (ok, no one was content with Birds of Prey), it's now possible to watch comic book programming 5 nights a week (or more thanks to DVR). While most of these shows have been ratings successes, I've been looking at them on my own scale of general artistry and adaptation. To me, not all of them have been stellar, but it's certainly been interesting to watch them grow, regardless.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

COMMENTARYCAST: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010 Blu-Ray)

For those keeping track, this is the fifth CommentaryCast and also the fifth one to reference THE Matthew Stacey, he of myth and legend. At this point, I fear the inside jokes and shorthand between myself and Mr. Baer threaten to overtake regular discourse and comic-movie-based trivia. But, I don't fear it enough to stop. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is the very definition of "cult classic". It received great reviews but piss-poor box office receipts. And like any good cult classic, it's found a vocal and passionate fanbase on home video. Directed by genre god Edgar Wright, you  may never see a comic book movie that is directed quite so beautifully.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Spirit (1980 pencil test trailer)

**Brian Baer (who's novel is out now) wrote this look all that survives of one genius's attempt to adapt another genius's work. Ah, what could of been...**

The road to feature film adaptations is long and rocky for many comic book characters, and perhaps none longer or rockier than for Will Eisner's seminal superhero, The Spirit. Also, like many paths to adaptation, that final product (2008's The Spirit) was rather disappointing.

The character had several brushes with live-action film before Frank Miller's directorial debut, though. There was a 1987 TV movie, which failed as a back-door pilot for a series, and an aborted attempt from Harlan Ellison and director William Friedkin nearly a decade previously. Between the two, The Spirit nearly became animated.

Monday, June 8, 2015

COMMENTARYCAST: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003 DVD)

It could be argued (correctly) that this shouldn't count as a DC comics film. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was originally published by ABC Comics in 1997. The first two volumes have recently been acquired by DC's mature imprint Vertigo. So it's not really a DC comic, but we really wanted to watch it there. This movie has some degree of infamy and not just because it's a fairly crappy adaptation of the source material. It had an incredibly troubled production involving natural disasters and cast/crew in-fighting which lead to both the director and star retiring from film-making and citing this film as the reason. Add to it a complicated legal battle involving plagiarism and it's a wonder it even got released. It'd been a while since I had seen this movie and my strong negative sentiment toward it has definitely chilled a bit. For your listening/viewing pleasure, here's our discussion of LXG (don't call it that -Brian)...