Comic Book Brain

Last Update: Aug 4, 2020

Comic books at Walmart

The largest store retailer has been experimenting with comic book sales, for example DC's 100-Page Super Spectaculars and also a few independent comic book companies have been showing up in stores either in displays near registers or in the magazine and book departments.

Story at Allegiance Arts Universe at Arkansas Online

Ghost Rider gets the axe

Marvel drops the curtain with issue #7, and also drops some Ghost Rider One Shots - story at MSN News

More praise and reappraisals of Shumacher's Batman movies

...the films are understandably lambasted by hardcore comic book fans of the Dark Knight, there is also a certain charm to them.

Most of the argument in the piece at CBR fails to hold much water.

Men who become Batmen, poorly

Burglar dons batsuit to rob church, caught by the police at The State

Way in which Venom could be in Spider-Man 3

Ideas expounded at Wegotthiscovered

Dark Horse comics' Alien Xenomorph based on original draft of Alien screenplay

Original alien design included a bowler hat, white spats and an ivory topped walking cane. Just kidding. Story at Games Radar

Batman: The Adventures Continue, a digital-first comics series

A lot of continuity from other sources goes into the series - review at Comic Book

Buildup for a new digital-first DC series based on Injustice

Story at MSN News

Ten famous comic books that failed in sales

Sandman Mystery Theater, Kingdom Come, etc, mentioned: story at CBR

Keanu Reeves is doing a comic book

Its called Brzrkr - story at IB Times

New Asterix the Gaul collections coming to USA

The French pint-sized hero is going to try and conquer America again - story at MSN News

Asterix is one of the best long-running series in comicbookdom but has never made a very big dent in the USA, but is/was popular across Europe (and elsewhere, such as Australia and New Zealand). Like Tintin, Asterix and Obelix are ubiquitous heroes in the international sequential arts, just not in the United States of Marvel/DC.

Marvel will cinematize the transformation story of rage Hulk into smart Hulk

Hulk Head by Hogscald

Or so says wegotthiscovered

Spider-Man fans should not count on Jason Momoa as Kraven

Or so says Cheatsheet

Batman Beyond film could have two Jokers

Live-action version of the future Batman referencing the animated Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker story - article about this at Wegotthiscovered

Spidery Woman Issue 101

Spider-Woman Issue #100 comes in October

Story about this at Bleeding Cool

Sales of digital only publications in general have gone up

Story at NHK

Apparently Zack Snyder won't be using any Whedon footage in his Justice League recut version

Well, this is an example of the French auteur theory in action: "I'd rather set it on fire" he said when asked about reusing any of Whedon's later footage. Whedon was brought in for a $25 million job to cheer up Justice League after Snyder departed the production.

Story at Comicbook Movie

And there is footage of Zack Snyder's "black Superman suit" also at Comicbook Movie

Spidy sequel shifted to December 2021 for release

The continuing chaos in Hollywood from the pandemic has made Spider-Man Far from Home II move the release date.

Details at Variety

The Question of the Bat-suit, and is it funny looking?

"Mask of the Phantasm is the only movie that treats Batman like a whole person"

Interesting take by writer Joshua Rivera on an animated film which often shows up as a favorite, or even the favorite, of all Bat-films with Bat-fans.

... Mask of the Phantasm dives into something that The Animated Series never did, by design: Batman’s origin. And despite being tucked into a far-too-brief 75-minute film, it’s the most well-rounded portrayal of the character’s beginnings, because it’s willing to portray Bruce Wayne as earnest and corny, someone that’s a little ridiculous. The Bruce Wayne of Mask of the Phantasm’s flashbacks isn’t taken seriously by criminals; he’s overzealous in his vigilantism, so convinced of his own fierceness he ends up being more funny than intimidating.

The funny Bat-suit

Concerning the suit, the live-action films do their best to make the suit either fearsome (as is done in the comic books) or try a kind of work-around the issue of visual identity by making the suit a utilitarian suit of armor.

But, any superhero suit faces this dilemma, looking goofy and or ridiculous. But ultimately, it is the actions of the character that defines the suit within the story.

This actually reflects how humans understand things. The military and ceremonial uniforms of various cultures can look pretty silly to someone from another land, but have a rich and serious visual identity to the people of the place from where they've sprung. A closer to comic books example are clowns, which are made up in such a way to provoke laughter, however, the phenomenon of the "evil clown" isn't just a few tweaks on a clown suit to make it scary, it is that a "scary clown" (doing scary things) redefines the standard, classic funny clown into something, well, scary.

Actions are defining, and the understanding of appearances plus actions defines the superhero suit. Capes and wearing your underwear on the outside of your pants is only silly for as long as the person wearing it can be taken for a joke, soon as the bodies start hitting the floor the superhero in a fantastical get-up literally changes the definition of the goofy suit into something frightening because by violence it has shifted it into an emblem of something dangerous (i.e., to criminal kind. For example, originally, Batman was on a war of extermination against criminals, which projects a whole different realm of danger beyond the more typical Defender of Gotham handing captured crooks over to Commissioner Gordon).

The Batman suit was intended to be scare-invoking, and of course in a comic book it is easier to provide this (mostly because we are shown criminals freaking out in terror when confronted). In a live action film, though, the audience has to also be convinced, not just the characters on the screen pretending reactions. Beyond the art direction and costume design, there has to be the presentation of a reasonably strong situation in which a criminal's terror at being confronted by a guy in a bat suit is believable as truly terrifying. There's been varying levels of success with this in the live actions films, most of them short-changing how it is a costumed Bruce Wayne systematically beats up a city's criminal class, and by doing so makes them dread running across the guy in the funny suit. A brave filmmaker could start off his tale with criminals laughing at the getup, risking that the audience might fix upon that reaction, too. But over time showing the audience how the criminals come to fear and be "triggered" by the appearance of the Batman should also influence how the audience views the suit.

Mask of Phantasm's depth of emotion

Mask of the Phantasm delves more into the emotional life of Bruce Wayne, and in a way acts as a bridge between the Tim Burton movies and the Nolan films. It connects some of what Burton's movies started about Bruce Wayne's inner life, and Nolan's films pick it up again with a similarity to the additions fleshed out in Phantasm.

Part of what Nolan gave us in The Dark Knight seem like a variation on Phantasm, Nolan using standard Batman characters such as the usual Batman vs. Joker (and Two Face) paradigm, while Phantasm used a female lead that isn't part of the usual Batman cast (and in a small way, providing an isolated 'side love story' in the Batman saga, such that it is reminiscent of the role Silver St. Cloud had in Steve Englehart's run on Detective Comics and his "Joker's Laughing Fish" saga).

Mask of the Phantasm enjoys a pretty high reputation with comic book fans for how seriously it takes Wayne's world of conflict and the burden of crime-fighting. Before Phantasm, Burton's Batman movies only hinted at the emotional cost of the career in fighting bad guys, after Phantasm, Nolan's movies made it more of a central element.

Article praising Mask of the Phantasm at The Verge

Do I look goofy to you?

Thin Batman

The ongoing revival of UltraMan

Story at SYFY on bringing the Japanese superhero up to date. The streaming rights to the Ultra Man library of TV shows has been picked up by Shout - story at Hollywood Reporter. And Gizmodo reviews the first Marvel Comics issue of Ultra Man.

Article praising Terminator 2 and Schwarzenegger

Article makes a nice overview of the Terminator films, particularly number 1 and 2, but it fails in a couple of respects. One is this comment:

Terminator 2 was the absolute apex for Schwarzenegger. In the years that followed, he would only make a couple more huge hits, and his grip over the American dream-life would slowly slip away—at least until he moved into another medium and used that movie-star power to become governor of California.

My first complaint

These comments don't reflect the time period correctly:

Arnold's run as a huge box office star lasted ten years, from the triple whammy success of Conan, Terminator and Total Recall, on through at least True Lies and arguably, right on thru lesser successes (not strictly measured by dollars, but by how much Arnold dominated movie release schedules) like Eraser, Batman and Robin and the Sixth Day.

During all this were comedies, Kindergarten Cop, Twins and later Jingle All the Way. It was for 2002's Collateral Damage that I think circumstances at the bijou showed that Schwarzenegger's pull had definetely moved down several pegs, something already suspected but now made official.

There were real bombs during the peak years, like Last Action Hero, but in general any new Arnold movie, during that ten year spread, was given a lot of attention, and on opening night his movies had the seats filled, whether the movie "had legs" as the cineplex business puts it, is another thing. A lot of these films were not particularly very good, but Arnold's brand of action mixed with self-deprecating comedy, made him unique and a consistent draw.

Arnold started off as a kind of updated version of Mickey Hargitay (though to be fair there is also a lot of Steve Reeves, too), just as Dwayne Johnson currently seems like an updated version of Arnold.

My other complaint

The article at AV Club tells us a lot about the two first Terminator movies, but fails to mention the October 1964 episode of The Outer Limits titled Demon with a Glass Hand. Similarities caused legal action resulting in Terminator's production to settle out of court. Part of the settlement was that Demon's writer Harlan Ellison had his name added to Terminator's credits (although Ellison says that Terminator actually stole more from a different sci-fi tale also made with The Outer Limits, an episode titled "Soldier.")

Seeing Demon with a Glass Hand is quit an experience because far more than just Terminator has helped themselves to the ideas in Ellison's script (it featured actor Robert Culp and Arlene Martel).

A particular aspect of Demon that is reflected in Termiantor 2 (but not the first film) is as the AV Club writer Tom Breihan points out: turning the cyborg into the good guy was the twist that was needed for the sequel. This actually brought it even more in line with Ellison's 1964 TV episode.

Top selling comics of the bronze era

Countdown at CBR

Christopher Reeve's Superman

A love letter to the Reeve's Superman at Omaha Com

Marvel's new covers for coming books

Profile and images at Gamesradar (formerly Newsarama)

Profile of Denny O Neil's "Crime Alley" story in Detective Comics #457

O'Neil tinkers with the Batman origin tale with his introduction of the character of Leslie Thompkins. I remember when this issue came out, it seemed to signal that the cynicism of the 1970's Detective Comics (a cynicism more prevalent in the Archie Goodwin stories, and sort've picked at a bit by Bob Haney in the Brave and the Bold) had peaked out and through tales like O'Neil's, Batman was being shifted into a friendlier figure (as he already was in the Batman flagship title, at this time Detective Comics had been allowed a lot more experimentation space because, reportedly, sales were so poor). This "new" Batman segue way became the mainstay at DC Comics until Frank Miller's overhaul with Dark Knight Returns, which put some of the anger back into the character.

Article at CBR makes a good point about how much DC rehashes Batman's tragic origin:

One of the interesting things about Batman's origin is that, for the most part, it has rarely appeared in the comics over the years. Sure, it would occasionally come up, but outside of the introduction of Joe Chill in the 1940s and then the idea that Thomas Wayne was specifically murdered for something he did to a mob boss (which was revealed in the 1950s), writers mostly steered clear of Batman's origin in terms of new stories. This is shocking to us today, of course, as it seems like Batman's origin is revisited every other day, but that wasn't the case back in the day.

New DC Comics for October 2020

At UCS Comic Distributors

I thought this was DC's marketing plan for the last 85 years?

"Zack Snyder's Justice League Transforms Superman Into the DCEU's Greatest Hero"

Story at Movieweb

Phase-IV Marvel doesn't include Deadpool III

But maybe it is set for Phase V. The story at Digital Spy

IDW has all new brass

Shakeup chronicled at Games Radar

Ever since the 1960's Batman TV show, newspaper articles on comics have had sound-effect headlines like this:

"Swoosh-Bam-Pow! COVID villain can’t stop Free Comic Book fun"

Story at Herald Net

Virtual Comicon 2020

Comicon Program

Comicon 2020 Souvenir Book Link

Facebook Comicon

Twitter Comicon news

Coverage at San Diego Fox 5

Walmart and Todd McFarlane / Greg Capullo teamup with cybernetic gorilla Cy-Gor

Story at MSN News

New Batman suit premieres in Joker War

Not the new Batman Suit

This is NOT the new Batman suit.

Story about the new suit at Comic Book

Zoe Kravitz wants new Batman film to get back into production

Story about this at Comic Book

Sam Raimi's Spiderman 3

It should be no surprise to learn that Spider-Man 3 was a bad movie at release and it continues to be a bad movie watching it now, over a decade later."

The MSN article knocks the film and implies the box office wasn't good, which isn't the case ($895 million worldwide is very, very good in 2007 dollars - - for comparison, Spiderman III outgrossed both of the later Amazing Spider-Man movies which had the advantage of higher ticket prices and a lot of marketing muscle behind them).

On the other hand, Spiderman III is a bit like Joel Shumacher's Batman and Robin (and also Superman III), which is to say, the directors in each case went a little nuts and just let the films spill over into farce, relying upon sight gags and sub-story vignettes that seem like comedy sketches.

In my opinion, Spiderman III is very entertaining, though not a "good superhero film," and I can understand why a dedicated Spidey-fan might have umbrage at it.

Part of my response to the film is to marvel at how outlandish parts of it is, and how much it veers into "let's just do something completely unexpected here," for example, Toby Maguire as a kind of Elvis in a musical section.

There should be a study done of why so many third films in a series go off the deep end.

Story on Spiderman III at MSN News

Zack Snyder likes the new Pattinson Batman movie

Or so repeats Comic Book - - "You look at what Matt's doing with Batman," Snyder told Randolph on YouTube. "And by the way I'm super excited about that; I think he's an amazing filmmaker...."

Famous people making famous/not famous comic books

Newsarama (Gameradar) story on celebrities (Shatner, Keanu Reeves, Nickolas Cage, Samuel L. Jackson, many others) and their comic book creations.

Spidey 3D

So there's a 3D Spider-Man: Far from Home now. And no this art has nothing to do with it, other than the 3D effect.

Pandemic about to kill Miami comic book store, then Batman arrives

Story at MSN News

Diamond vs the new Comic Book Distributors

Isn't this what was predicted would happen (at least in the short run)?

Throughout everything, Marvel has been less than helpful. Death Metal #2 outsold Empyre #1 here. DC putting out product while Marvel plays catch-up hurt them with our customers. People come in here and ask when they are finally going to be able to buy the Marvel title they have been following and are often disappointed by the answer. Titles such as Savage Avengers last released issue number 11 on March 11th. Issue 12 is due on September 30th. Too much of a gap between issues.

Who's better? asks Bleeding Cool

James Patterson to reboot The Shadow for media

One of the original superheroes from the 1930s, and a sometimes series for various comic book companies (there was also a 1994 film which failed to ... shall we say, succeed at the box office).

The goal of the reboot is to introduce a new generation to the character and his world, according to Bill Robinson of James Patterson Entertainment. “As we launch the new series of Shadow books, we will also plot the course of the Shadow’s return to the screen together with Condé Nast Entertainment,” he said.

Story at Forbes

With new superhero film product in abeyance, articles proliferate praising older titles

Collider - Mask of the Phantasm

BGR - Iron Man can rejoin Avengers regardless of End Game

Nerdist - The X-Men is the most important hero film made (the analysis only goes back to 1978's Superman)

Archie Comics to bring out some Stan Lee-backed titles

Story at Hollywood Reporter

New comic book imprint called UCP Graphic

Story at MSN News

Bane theories for Dark Knight Rises

Discussion at The Ringer. Article slams the film in language which seems to imply everyone agrees DKR was a "hail Mary pass" that failed.... which of course is false, I happen to like the film, not to deny that it is rather crammed with ideas (a nicer way to articulating the accusation in the article).

But how many action and superhero films have been made in the last decade that are also over-crammed with characters and sub-stories, yet somehow founder on sheer repetition, which is hardly a plight within DKR, where the Nolan's keep inventing one more new thing to fit into the movie.

Comic book sales 2019 - significant increases

"Record setting"

The biggest driving force behind sales were graphic novels, which tend to be sold in bookstores and comic book shops. Graphic novel sales accounted for around $765 million, while single issues totaled close to $355 million. Digital comics accounted for about $90 million..."

The story does not include actual counts for copies sold. That would be a good comparison for previous years of actual copies sold, since that may better indicate audience than sales, which of course reflects pricing (and pricing increases).

More numbers at CBR

Into the Spiderverse II has an additional hero

Story at Cinemablend

Analysis says there's a home audience of potential size for new superhero titles

Story at Business Insider

Supposedly Ryan Reynolds would like to be in Spidey III, and Marvel says "nope"

Hollywood gossip at Wegotthiscovered

Power Rangers expands at Boom

Story at Gamesradar

Batzman Bat Thingies

Man, the rediscovering of Batman Forever, a twenty-five year old superhero film, continues unabated upon the internet, following the death of director Joel Shumacher.

July 13, 2020

Cinemablend - 6 Ways Batman Forever Was Ahead of The Curve

escapistmagazine - Rumors swirled this week around the possible existence of a 170-minute cut of Batman Forever

Uproxx - The longer, darker cut of Batman Forever

Variety - Could the longer one get released?

Marvel wants Tom Holland for six Spidey films

Interesting that this story follows close upon the heals of a suggestion Holland could play Robin, the Boy Wonder in a DCU film, and he was interested in the idea.

Story at Cheatsheet

British actors who portray American superheroes

Henry Cavill, Robert Pattinson, and Tom Holland, among others, are profiled.

Story at Cheatsheet

Comicon livestream plans 34 hours of material

Under the deal, IGN will produce live streams around 34 of the biggest of the Comic-Con@Home panels, and create other “shoulder” programming during the five days of the show, roughly 36 hours of live shows.

Those panels will be carried across IGN’s various outlets such as, as well as on Comic-Con’s YouTube, Instagram and Twitter sites, and the Comic-Con@Home website. The show will unfold online over five days beginning July 22.

Overview at Forbes

Ten cancelled DC Comics

July 10, 2020

Their number one story (mentioned in this top ten roundup article) that never happened is Alan Moore's "Twilight of the Superheroes" which reminds me of the "Death of the Superheroes" by Steve Skeates from The Comics Journal, No. 47, July 1979. Anyway, according to CBR, DC Comics "ripped off" Alan Moore and so he departed before ever getting anywhere on this project of showing how the various big names at DC Comics would meet their end.

I was surprised CBR didn't mention Frank Miller's aborted "Batman Holy Terror" story (that got transfigured into something else under a different title with Dark Horse and obviously not with Batman) which was for awhile one of the news worthy would-be Batman tales.

Story at CBR

There is talk about Joel Shumacher's "darker version" of Batman Forever

July 9, 2020

Script writer Akiva Goldsman had recently been talking about the two films made with Shumacher, Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, and his comments indicate the original shootings (on both films) aimed for a less toy-oriented approach, but this was overruled by Warners. Now it appears there was an original 170 minute cut of Batman Forever that steered toward a harder psychological line on Bruce Wayne (certainly hinted at in the film, tho not deeply explored), and there is interest in releasing this unknown version, much in the way the "Snyder cut" of Justice League has ticked up interest.

The MSN News article compares the new Snyder project with this unseen Shumacher Batman Forever and notes there is a lot of appetite for big name films on the streaming services since the pandemic has knocked out film production so effectively, but whether a new version of Batman Forever could be assembled is a big question mark due to the age of the film elements and how to integrate the released film (and the unreleased film) together..

170-minute cut of the 1995 superhero blockbuster “Batman Forever” from the late director Joel Schumacher exists, but that Warner Bros. was “unsure if there’s any hunger for what was described to me as a ‘much darker, more serious’ version of the film.”

Story at MSN NEWS


Zatanna Movie in the works

Story at Movieweb

Batman V Superman Ultimate edition goes to HBO Max

Story at Cinemablend includes Zack Snyder's comments on the "long" version of Batman V Superman is going to HBO Max, and he's very happy about it.

Marvel now has the Predator and Alien series

Alien - I Want to be an X-Men for Marvel

No more at Dark Horse because of the Disney-Fox merger - story at Comic Book

"The strange history of pirate Batman"

Story at CBR

Dark Horse sticks with Diamond

Story at MSN News