There’s a lot of news in the comic book marketplace, both from the publishing aspects as well as the far-more-profitable-these-days movie-making aspects. None of the subjects today are earth-shattering or new, but there’s items I thought were worth mentioning (and due to a busy schedule, that I hadn’t been able to get to until now).
— The Fantastic Four is catching the attention of the mainstream media, as the news surrounding the latest issue of the team’s title — which features the “death” of one of the team’s members — was broken early, before the book’s actual release into comic book shops. I’m not going to spoil here who bites the bullet — though clicking on the link above will bring you to an article that has the deceased hero’s identity — and I’ve already pretty much ripped Marvel and the comic book industry as a whole for their lack of vision in keeping our industry alive, so there’s not much reason to rehash things again here.
What I will add in is the latest in ridiculous proclamations by comic book heads — this time by Joe Quesada — who tells us that, if the deceased in question makes a return from the dead at sometime in the future — you know, because we’ve never really seen deaths and rebirths in comic books as a story-telling device in a while (sarcasm alert!) — that “… I can assure you that it’s going to be very, very interesting and not what anyone expects.” (emphasis mine). Maybe Quesada should have said “It’ll be what everyone is expecting”. If he had, at least he’d be speaking honestly as to one reason why the sales of new comic books continue to drop to frighteningly low numbers.
— And in another sign of changes in the comic marketplace, there was the announcement that Wizard Magazine (and its sister publication for toys, Toyfare) was ceasing publication, ending its run after almost twenty years (While Wizard was founded in 1991, Toyfare was strarted later, in 1997).
For those seriously invested in the industry, Wizard had stopped being relevant a long time ago. The price guide — what was left of it — was inaccurate, and the magazine came under heavy criticism at times for being a shill for certain companies and their products, and not an impartial observer of the marketplace. In recent years, the magazine began covering seemingly everything but comics — movies, television, video games — as its circulation numbers declined heavily. Still, with all of its fault, the advent of Wizard at the time was a big deal in the industry, and the loss of the magazine is a noteworthy event nonetheless.
— As is often the case these days, the exciting news in the comic book industry revolves around nothing in the publishing arena, but instead in the movie world. There were two very good tidbits that came out in the last week — and one that was … uh … not so good.
First, the good. One of the comic-book based movies I’ve been waiting for anxiously for a long, long time has been a Captain America movie worth seeing — and this summer, my wish will become a reality with the release of Captain America: The First Avenger on July 22. I’ve long thought that a serious take on the heart of Marvel’s universe set in World War II would be a winner, and that’s exactly what we’re going to see in director Joe Johnston’s film. Early pictures from the film have been leaking for a while now, and this photo of Cap in his war attire makes me feel confident that this picture will be on the right track.
Also making news is the announcement that Anne Hathaway has been cast as Selina Kyle/The Catwoman and Tom Hardy as Bane in the third installment of Chris Nolan’s Batman epic, The Dark Knight Rises.
The choice of Catwoman as a villain/love interest in the film wasn’t surprising (even if the casting of Hathaway was a minor surprise — this sure beats her playing a female Vulture in Sam Raimi’s aborted Spider-Man 4, though), and Hardy’s presence wasn’t a shock either, considering his track record of working with Nolan. What was a surprise, however, was the choice of Bane as one of the primary bad guys. I liked the decision myself; the Bane in the comic books was (and is) an intelligent, ruthless, powerful adversary capable of defeating his opponent wither through brawn or through strategy. Anyone who only knows Bane from his god-awful portrayal in Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin entirely missed the potential of the character. Judging by Nolan’s work so far, that’s not a concern I have here at all.
On the other hand, I am concerned about the first photos getting leaked out from the new Spider-Man film. I was already critical of the approach that the film seemed to be taking early on — particularly with the unnecessary retelling of an origin that was done perfectly by Sam Raimi less than a decade ago — but I was at least happy with some of the initial casting announcements that were being made (Emma Stone as Spidey’s first love, the doomed Gwen Stacy and Denis Leary as Captain George Stacy among many), even if I was still worried about the film turning into “Twilight with webs”. But I was a lot more concerned when I saw the first photos of Spider-Man’s costume hitting the web.
That’s not — terrible — but it looks like it”s immediately deviating from the classic portrayal of the costume (which was nailed 100% true by Raimi in his trilogy). My obvious question is — why? Why go away from something that’s iconic and instantly recognizable? If there’s good reason to — like changing Batman’s garb somewhat in Nolan’s films — then I understand the reasoning entirely. But change for the sake of change isn’t smart. My growing skepticism on this film also wasn’t helped by the news that one of the most iconic characters in the Spider-Man universe — J. Jonah Jameson — doesn’t appear in this film either. Considering that Jameson was a pivotal character in Spider-Man’s earliest years — and that he predates both of the Stacy’s in the character’s history — his omission from this film is bizarre, even if there was no way another actor was going to nail J.K. Simmons dead-on portrayal of the character that we saw already. As big a Spidey fan as I am — I’m not feeling excited about this movie. At all.
Later this week I’ll be at the New Orleans Comic-Con — pictures hopefully to come!