Friday, December 21, 2007

2008 Preview: Spider-man: Brand new day

So, after One More Day, it only makes sense to have a Brand New Day storyarc. Here's what's happening in the Spidey-verse in 2008!

Meet the new villains tormenting Spidey in ’08

By Kiel Phegley and Matt Powell

Posted December 20, 2007

Spider-Man has always boasted one of the best rogues galleries in comics featuring classic villains from the Green Goblin to Doctor Octopus and beyond. But come January, the creators behind the thrice-monthly Amazing Spider-Man stories known as “Brand New Day” aim to prove that fans ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

“Seeing this as a real ground zero for Spidey, it was a rare opportunity to introduce some new threats at a time when the spotlight was focused on them very brightly,” says Amazing editor Steve Wacker. And for a taste of the cruelty to come, co-writers Dan Slott, Zeb Wells, Bob Gale and Marc Guggenheim delve into the maniacs, murders and mob bosses that will test Spidey’s mettle in 2008.

APPEARS IN: January’s Amazing Spider-Man #546
This monochromatic Chinatown mob boss takes it to Spider-Man through old school crime, says Slott. “Mr. Negative is on his way to being the crime boss of New York—not the fancy, shmancy ‘people running around in costumes’ boss, none of this Hood stuff. We’re talking drugs, prostitution, assassinations. Real crime.”

APPEARS IN: February’s Amazing Spider-Man #549
The glider-riding maniac at the heart of the series may seem slightly familiar to fans. “There very much is an essence of Goblin-ocity about Menace, isn’t there?” laughs Slott. “It is a legacy. It is something he’s been tied to and something that always leads to anguish, pain and torment.”

APPEARS IN: February’s Amazing Spider-Man #549
This near-invulnerable redheaded bombshell is a hero that sill creates trouble for Spidey. “Jackpot is very new at the game, and as a result she makes a lot of rookie mistakes,” promises Guggenheim. “She ends up making a mistake that has some pretty serious consequences.” Could this perhaps be Mary Jane post-“One More Day”? The best we can get from Guggenheim: “Hmm…”

APPEARS IN: March’s Amazing Spider-Man #552
A drug addict who mutates with new and strange powers, Freak has ties to a certain Spider-Man mainstay. “Freak’s connection to Curt Connors [aka the Lizard] is accidental,” notes Gale. “They have the same things in common that any research scientist would have in common with a drug addict who hangs out in a soup kitchen!”

APPEARS IN: April’s Amazing Spider-Man #556
An immortal and supernatural foe who blows into NYC along with a horrific blizzard, Deity is more a force of nature than a supervillain. “He can be heard referring to himself as ‘The One Who Walks the Black Road,’ ‘The Wayep of Kulkulkan’ and ‘The Death Dealer,’” says Wells. “I don’t know what that means, but people who see the Deity tend to agree with him.”

APPEARS IN: May’s Amazing Spider-Man #558
An acrobatic assailant, Screwball lives up to her name while fighting Spider-Man. “It’s the first time Spidey is going up against a villain who’s funnier than him. That is really frickin’ annoying!” says Slott.

APPEARS IN: May’s Amazing Spider-Man #559
“Usually you’ll have supervillains who use their powers to make crimes or try to take over the world or take revenge,” says Slott. “Paper Doll is a supervillain who uses her power for a whole new obsession. Her particular brand of obsession will be very much fed by Peter Parker and a horrible choice he makes.”

Tim Kring on "Heroes" Vol.3

It's been a while since a new episode of Heroes aired in the US, but already the third season (or volume three) is being discussed!

Wizard Univerise interviews Heroes creator, Tim Kring:

He comments on Season 2 mistakes, the plan to make it all right and the next huge storyarc, ‘Villains’!

By Kiel Phegley

Posted December 20, 2007 3:15 PM

Tim Kring wants another chance, and if you won’t give it to him and his “Heroes”—well, maybe the villains will have better luck.

With the hit NBC series’ third volume delayed into late this season—or possibly the fall of ’08 due to the recent writers strike—show creator Kring and his staff are taking the extra time to learn from Volume II’s early missteps, build up an arsenal of villains and craft a killer kick start for “Heroes” return.

WIZARD: A lot of fans were disappointed in the first half of Volume II, but what’s the outlook moving forward?

KRING: [Originally], Volume III was going to be much more closely tied to Volume II in terms of the virus storyline. There were still issues about the virus that’d be there in a real way. [The next episode is the] beginning of a much bigger opening for Volume [III]. That coincided a lot with us talking about the missteps that we’ve made and gave us a chance to really hit the ground in a very fresh way. Volume III is now going to be an amalgamation of what Volume III and IV were going to be. We’re going to accelerate things and push things much harder and much faster and much bigger. So one of the things that we’re going to do is change the name.

What does that change entail?

KRING: It was originally called “Exodus.” I believe now that it’s going to be called “Villains.” We’re going for a really intense and amazing storyline that we had been thinking was going to be towards the end of our season. Instead we’ve just moved it all up. We’ve just taken it all up a big giant notch. I’m very excited to get working on that. Now unfortunately with the strike, we’re not working on that, but the cool thing about this volume is that we do get to end certain things and start certain things. Most shows have a season premiere and a season finale. We kind of get to do that a few times a year.

Do you feel like that gives you more chances to play towards what fans respond to?

KRING: Not every volume or every episode is going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and if it isn’t, then the next one will be. It gives us a chance to make these course corrections and to work in smaller chunks, which is one of the lessons that we really learned in Season One. We got to that season ender, and we had to wrap up 23 episodes’ worth of story. That was pretty daunting. We thought, “Never again. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to tell stories in smaller arcs and give people a chance to absorb a lot more over the course of a season.”

At the end of the first season, everyone was again separated around the globe. When you step into Volume III, are you going to flip that? Are you going to see more characters start together on one mission?

KRING: Yes, absolutely. One of the concepts starting at Season Two was that I really believed the audience wanted a similar experience to Season One—the idea of taking these characters, spreading them apart and then watching how they come together. Now in retrospect, once you’ve gotten an audience used to crack, it’s hard to get them to back to a gateway drug. So I think we planned for too long of a windup [in keeping the characters apart until Season Two’s] episode seven. In my mind, looking back at it with 24 episodes I’m like, “Okay, seven episodes in they finally all come together.” It seemed about right, but in retrospect the audience has a different set of expectations now, having watched an entire season. They want things to move faster, and again this idea of volumes really helps with that because we can accelerate story. And in this next volume we’re just going for a much more adrenalized ride.

With a name like “Villains” I would think so.

KRING: [Laughs] Yeah, we’ve been really talking internally for about a year now about the idea of villains and how many villains there really are out there. We’re finally going to unleash those villains into the world. It’s going to be a really, really fun ride.

And since you’ll be introducing more new villains beyond Sylar and Elle in Volume III, does that mean more mythology in the bigger mystery parts of the show?

KRING: Yeah, that’s our stock in trade. That’s what we do, and that’s what I think the audience loves. Audiences love questions. They think they love answers, but in reality they love questions more than answers because questions get them to come back the next week. The balancing act for us has always been the idea of giving answers and giving them on a regular basis so that people don’t build up a lot of frustration. Obviously, the complaints of other shows is the idea of having to wait so long for things that by the time you get that answer, no matter what that answer is, it can’t really satisfy because you’ve been waiting too long for it. We’ve always prided ourselves on being a show that no answer was so precious that we couldn’t tell you what it was.

[PREVIEW OF THE WEEK] Avengers: The Initiative #8

I know I've said I probably wouldn't buy Avengers: The Initiative anymore, especially what I THOUGHT was a pretty ordinary first six issues. And then issue 7 put the title back on the map for me again. So looks like I might keep on buying!

Here's a preview of issue 8:

Meet Camp Hammond’s new drill instructor
Posted December 20, 2007 2:30 PM

“Killed in Action” (Part 1 of 4): Training is almost over for our cadets. Some will graduate. Some will wash out. And, yes, some WILL die! It all starts here, in the Initiative’s biggest story to date! And with the clock ticking on the first class of recruits, get ready to meet the next batch! Including new Marvels, old Marvels, at least one SKRULL, and...THE IRREDEEMABLE GIANT-MAN? Also, with the Gauntlet out of commission, just wait until you meet Camp Hammond’s new drill instructor... he’s a real Taskmaster!

Written by DAN SLOTT
Pencils & Cover by STEFANO CASELLI
Rated T+ …$2.99
On sale—12/28/07

Be friends with "Kick-Ass"!

Big fan of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr, though I think I've neglected to put JRJR on my list of favourite artists!

So you can bet I'll be purchasing whatever new title they're working on that's going to be published!

Wizard Universe has some news about that:

Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s next creator-owned book offers previews and interactive features through MySpace

By Kiel Phegley

Posted December 20, 2007 1:25 PM

Never let it be said that Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. aren’t hip with the kids. In an effort to spread the world about their upcoming creator-owned series Kick-Ass (which debuts from Marvel’s Icon imprint in February), the pair have crafted a special MySpace page featuring cell phone videos and character glimpses that tie directly into the plot of the series.

"As you may recall, Kick-Ass is a limited series by John Romita Jr. and I about a real-life superhero, and his MySpace page will form an integral part of the story,” announced Millar. “This is where all our promotional material will be appearing, the first of which is available now with an 11-page pencil preview from the first issue.”

The media-savvy Scotsman also noted that the MySpace page is only step one in the book’s rollout, adding “The PR campaign kicks off in earnest early in the new year with a major announcement in January and another the week before the first issue launches. This site also offers a chance for other amateur, real-life superheroes to interact with Kick-Ass (or any savvy comic-book creators hoping to promote their work).”

Click on for the site, which promises regular updates.

Stan Lee reveals his "Iron Man" cameo

To my knowledge, there's only one Marvel movie in which Stan Lee didn't have a cameo in. And I can't remember what it was! Daredevil I think, though I could be wrong. Perhaps Elektra. Curse my lack of useless information!

He WILL appear in the new Iron Man and Hulk movies of course. And they've reported that he will be a Hugh Hefner-like character in Iron Man!

The legend gabs on his film cameos and Marvel movies in the works

Posted December 20, 2007 1:10 PM interviewed Stan “the Man” Lee on the red carpet at the Jules Verne Film Festival in Los Angeles, where the Marvel mastermind was receiving a lifetime achievement award. Lee revealed that his cameo in “Iron Man” would be Hugh Hefner-esque, featuring Smilin’ Stan with a pipe in his mouth and three girls at his side. The comic book legend also dropped hints that a Power Pack movie might be in the works for the kiddies and that he hadn’t filmed his “Incredible Hulk” cameo yet. For the full interview:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Earth's Mightiest Column: Dec. 19, 2007

Time for another Earth's Mightiest Column, less than a week before Christmas!

The Sentry’s wrath throws the Mighty Avengers off their game plan

By John Coleman

Posted December 19, 2007 12:20 PM

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Beyond the umbrella of “The Initiative,” Earth’s Mightiest Heroes soldier on to unravel the shadowy threats that menace the Marvel Universe! For regular recaps of post-Initiative New Avengers and Mighty Avengers, swing by with each new issue for insight into the costumed conspiracies and superpowered slugfests that break out every time the Avengers assemble!]



• It was a period of Civil War. Though seemingly brought together by fate out of the ashes of the disassembled Avengers team to stop a supervillain breakout at the maximum security prison known as the Raft, the group of heroes known as the New Avengers was torn apart by the introduction of the Superhuman Registration Act. The superhero population was divided down the middle when Captain America denounced the act and mounted a resistance, while Iron Man pledged full support for the law.

• When the dust settled, Captain America was dead and Iron Man had been installed as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. As a result, two separate teams claim the Avengers mantle.

• Duly authorized under the Superhuman Registration Act, the Mighty Avengers are Iron Man’s handpicked team of heroes. Led by Ms. Marvel and consisting of the Wasp, Wonder Man, Black Widow, the Sentry, Ares, and Iron Man himself, the hastily constructed team has been put to the test by the appearance of a new Ultron.

• On the run from the government (including the Mighty Avengers), the New Avengers are made up of anti-registration heroes that are devoted to Captain America’s ideals. Led by Luke Cage, the team consists of Spider-Man, Wolverine, Spider-Woman, Dr. Strange, Iron Fist and the new Ronin (who is actually Clint Barton, the Avenger formerly known as Hawkeye).

• Ultron, created by founding Avenger Hank Pym, seizes control of Tony Stark’s biomechanically enhanced body. Taking a form similar to that of the Wasp (Pym’s ex-wife), the robot uses its new abilities to unleash an electromagnetic pulse that disables all electrical systems in the area.

• Hoping to rescue their teammate Echo from the ninja clan known as the Hand, the New Avengers headed to Japan. There, they battled the Hand, and at the climax of their conflict, learn that the Hand’s leader, the assassin called Elektra, is actually a member of the shape-shifting alien race of Skrulls.

• Torn over the implications of this revelation, the New Avengers are unsure what to do with the Skrull’s body. On their flight back from Japan, Spider-Woman suggests that they bring the body to Tony Stark…that as head of S.H.I.E.L.D., he is the most qualified person to deal with it. The others are opposed to this idea, some even claiming that Stark may be a Skrull himself. As they debate over what to do with the Skrull corpse, their jet is knocked from the sky by an electromagnetic pulse…the same pulse unleashed by Ultron against the Mighty Avengers.

• Crash landing outside of Chicago, most of the team members are unconscious. Only Spider-Woman and Wolverine are awake, and Wolverine realizes that she is going to try and make off with the Skrull. He tries to stop her, but she blasts him into unconsciousness. She then retrieves the Skrull corpse and leaves the scene.

• Meanwhile, Ultron attacks the Mighty Avengers with a horde of Iron Man armors, keeping them busy while “she” infiltrates their headquarters, Avengers Tower. There, she kills the Sentry’s wife, Lindy Reynolds, hoping to keep the troubled hero from being involved in the fight. Of course, this has quite the opposite effect on the Sentry’s fragile mind. He flies into a rage and assaults Ultron with a brutal attack, unleashing much of his uncharted power in the process.

• Hank Pym is called in to help deal with the problem that he created many years ago. Leaving behind his new girlfriend and Avenger reservist, Tigra, Hank arrives to try and come up with a way to stop the seemingly unstoppable Ultron.

• Ares leaves the fight against the Iron Man armors because he feels he has come up with a plan to defeat the robot. He arrives back at the fallen S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier and tells Pym and the Black Widow that he knows how to stop Ultron. Ares and Pym come up with the idea to implant a virus directly into Ultron’s system. However, to keep the Avengers busy, Ultron uses its connection to the government systems to launch a nuclear missile off the coast of Florida.

• Ms. Marvel manages to damage the missile, pushing it off course and up into the atmosphere. It detonates and Ms. Marvel’s fate is unknown.

• Pym dons his Ant-Man gear, the identity he had when he helped found the Avengers, and goes out to confront Ultron. While the robot is distracted by the appearance of its “father,” Ares, shrunken to miniature size by Pym’s powers, is fired into its mouth, carrying the virus that they hope will stop Ultron and restore Tony Stark.

• Aboard a flying sled, Ares sails into Ultron’s cybernetic innards, hoping to reach the robot’s core…

Brian Michael Bendis (W)/ Frank Cho (A)

• We start off with a bit of a flashback as Pym and Ares are discussing their plan to get the virus inside Ultron. Black Widow oversees the plan, but she seems to have very little faith in Pym.

• As we watch the shrunken God of War fly into Ultron’s mouth, we hear Pym explaining that inside, Ares will find that Ultron has created defenses for just such an attack. Swarms of spiked “antibodies” rush toward Ares, but he flies on, undaunted.

• Realizing that the Avengers have just launched some kind of attack on it, Ultron reels. Black Widow calls for the Avengers to fall back, knowing that if they harm the robot now, they risk the chance of ruining Ares’ mission. Unfortunately, it’s at this point that the Sentry decides to get back into the fight. He flies into the melee and assaults Ultron in a blind rage, knocking the robot first into, and then through, the Chrysler Building!

• Black Widow realizes that the Sentry’s attack may interrupt Ares and she orders the other Avengers to stop him. Wonder Man tries to reason with Sentry only to be attacked himself. Sentry continues to try and dismantle Ultron, trying to rip its head from its shoulders…


• Ares is about to be overwhelmed by Ultron’s internal defenses as the Sentry continues his assault on his wife’s killer. Luckily, Ms. Marvel returns just in time to deliver a nuclear-charged punch that manages to stun the enraged hero.


• With the Sentry’s unwitting interference stopped, Ares manages to get the virus into Ultron’s core. However, just as he does so, he is swarmed by Ultron’s “antibodies.” Without his flying sled, his escape seems unlikely. He tries to fight his way free, but they are too numerous and he loses his ax in the struggle. It seems that Ares’ first mission as an Avenger will also be his last.

• Ultron’s body begins to change from the effects of the virus, warping and twisting in a mix of metal and flesh. It seems that the virus is working.

• Realizing that Ares won’t make it out, Pym and the Black Widow are at a loss for what to do. Fortunately, Pym isn’t the only founding Avenger around today…the Wasp flies into Ultron’s mouth, racing to rescue her new teammate. Ares is still fighting, despite being totally overwhelmed by Ultron’s defenses.


• As the other Avengers watch on in horror, the Wasp manages to reach Ares and pull him free. At this point, Ultron loses its form and explodes in a golden burst of energy. Pym and the Widow watch silently, hoping for signs that the two shrunken heroes have escaped. Finally, a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative reports that he detects a life sign. Wasp and Ares have managed to make it to safety.

• Pym is relieved to see his estranged ex-wife alive and safe. The S.H.I.E.L.D. operative reports another life sign at ground zero of the blast, falling fast. Ms. Marvel flies up to catch what is presumably the body of Tony Stark.

• Tony wakes up in a hospital bed, surrounded by his teammates and the Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards. They fill him in on what happened and let him know that he is okay. When the Wasp explains that Ultron turned him into a girl, Tony has this classic response…


• Tony thanks Pym for saving the day, but Pym only apologizes in return instead of saying “You’re welcome.” He is still plagued by the fact that he unwittingly unleashed Ultron on the world. He walks off as Ms. Marvel and Tony speak in private about the new team. Tony dozes off as Ms. Marvel thinks to herself that he has to stop acting like he is the king of the world.

• The Sentry returns to Avengers Tower, mournful over the loss of his wife…only to find her waiting for him! Inexplicably, she is alive and well. Although overjoyed to see her, he seems disturbed by the fact that the only explanation he can think of is that his touch somehow brought her back to life.

• Ms. Marvel and Wonder Man, having begun to see each other romantically, rendezvous after the battle. There, Wonder Man claims that she can’t let their relationship affect her role as team leader. He explains that he is as powerful as any other member of the team and that she can’t hesitate sending him in to do the dangerous jobs. If she continues to do so, he says, then they’re through.

• Wasp meets up with Hank Pym to tell him he did a good job, but the conversation quickly degenerates into an argument, despite the fact that they both feel strongly for each other.

• Finally, back at the hospital, we see Tony Stark in his bed asleep, as a shady figure creeps in through the window. The visitor wakes him, claiming that they need to talk. It turns out to be Spider-Woman, having defected from the New Avengers and holding the body of the Skrull that had been disguised as Elektra.

"G.I. Joe" inks new recruit: Storm Shadow

Two more people have been reportedly cast for the G.I. Joe movie, and in important parts too! Who in the world is Rachel Nichols and Byung-hun Lee though!?

Rachel Nichols rumored as Scarlett
By Andy Serwin
Posted December 19, 2007 11:30 AM

There’s a new ninja in town. reports that Paramount and director Stephen Sommers have cast the role of Storm Shadow for the upcoming live-action “G.I. Joe” adaptation, tapping South Korean actor Byung-hun Lee (“The Good, the Bad and the Weird”) to play the martial arts master of espionage. The site also alleges that Rachel Nichols (“Alias”) is in contention to play the G.I Joe femme fatale Scarlett, but neither the studios nor the producers have confirmed that.

“G.I. Joe” currently stars Ray Park (“Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace”) as Snake-Eyes and Sienna Miller (“Stardust”) as the Baroness. Adapted from the hit cartoon/comic book/toy line, the film features an international group of peacekeepers battling terrorists led by a maniacal arms dealer.

Keep checking Wizard Universe for more updates, and click here for the full story.

"Watchmen" watch

Here are some teaser images from the Watchmen movie:

Check out the story hints hidden within the first teasers from the big-screen adaptation
By Rickey Purdin
Posted December 19, 2007 9:20 AM

1.The newsstand (complete with a green-shirted manager and a young man) can be seen heavily throughout Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen. Within the 12-issue series, the youngster reads a pirate comic, The Black Freighter. Over the young reader’s left shoulder in the photo from director Zack Snyder’s adaptation is a Black Freighter poster complete with a tiny, retro DC Comics bullet!

2. The bottom of the “Rumrunner” neon sign can be partially seen here. In Watchmen, one of Rorschach’s old enemies, Moloch the Mystic, lives a retired, quiet life in an apartment to the left of the red and yellow relic. In issue #5, Rorschach— framed for the murder of Moloch—is apprehended on the street directly below that sign.

3. Burlesk, one of the seedy adult cinemas in “Watchmen,” hides in the background here flashing a marquee advertising “Enola Gay and the Boys.” The same stag film and theater appear on page 25 of Watchmen issue #2. 42nd Street in Manhattan acts as the hub for the comic series’ action and, if the film stays true to the source material, should see a lot of screen time in the film.

4. In the comic, a concert for a band calling itself Pale Horse (as in Death’s pony) takes place on the same night as the shocking and dramatic events of Watchmen #11-#12. Fliers and posters can be seen for the concert throughout the miniseries, and here, one can be viewed clearly above the subway entrance close to the newsstand.

5. Layout was integral when Moore and Gibbons created Watchmen. If the film follows their original design, the white building the Pale Horse poster hangs on should be the Institute for Extraspatial Studies. It’s that building, in issue #12, where a cataclysmic event changes the world and characters forever.

In the other photos, fans can spy Rorschach walking past a poster of President Richard Nixon, running for a fifth term in the film; the Gunga Diner, where Nite Owl and Silk Spectre begin their affair; and a bus stop around the corner from the newsstand.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

From comics to Hollywood

Would you pay to watch a movie which had its script written by your favourite comic book creator? I would. Just see how Sin City turned out!

Wizard Universe interviews five comic book creators who may be making the move to Hollywood!

A quintet of comics’ biggest creators talk about making the move to Hollywood

By Ben Morse

Posted December 18, 2007 5:00 PM

The writer of Marvel’s surprise hit Marvel Zombies as well as enduring cult favorite The Walking Dead from Image, Robert Kirkman signed the film rights to his self-created teen superhero comic Invincible to Paramount in 2005 and came on board to write the movie’s screenplay a year later. “Transformers” producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura has also signed on.

“I have turned in the second draft [of the ‘Invincible’ screenplay] and it’s being looked at right now. I haven’t really had to fight the studio or anything. So far any changes they’ve asked for have been minor things that make sense and that I agree with. It’s been a pretty good experience so far, but the movie hasn’t been made yet, so I’m sure it’s coming. So far, they haven’t wanted any talking dogs—and I already have one in the comic anyway. Either they come back and say, ‘Hey, this is awesome, we’re shooting it,’ or ‘Hey, this is awesome, but we’re getting somebody to rewrite it anyway,’ or even ‘Hey, this is awesome—so awesome we want you to write it again.’

“I think I’m pretty good at writing comics, but writing screenplays is new to me, so there’s definitely a learning curve. I didn’t read any screenplays growing up so it’s a completely alien art form. When I get to page 22, I’m usually done. There’s definitely something difficult psychologically about not being able to believe you just wrote 60 pages and then realizing you’re only halfway through.”

Best known for his collaborations with writer Mark Millar on Ultimates and their upcoming Fantastic Four run, artist Bryan Hitch has worked quietly behind the scenes in both Hollywood and for his native England’s BBC: He’s a designer for the pending “Star Trek” movie directed by J.J. Abrams and the “Dr. Who” television series, respectively.

“My first real design job was on ‘Dr. Who.’ I was musing with a journalist who had interviewed [series writer/producer] Russell Davies that I’d kill to design the TARDIS set, so I had him e-mail Russell assuming he’d have no idea who I was and then he sent back, ‘The Bryan Hitch? Oh, I love him!’ I had a hand in the redesign of the Daleks, though it was more just scribbling over other people’s designs. The last [‘Dr. Who’] work I did was a two-parter from series two because I owed the [executive producer] a favor after she got me tickets to a BBC concert series.
“[Producer] Damon Lindelof and I started talking about ‘Star Trek’ way back. I was involved in the early discussions and was going to get to do the fun stuff like the Enterprise, then Paramount pulled the plug temporarily. When it came back, there had been a script leak so nobody ‘off the lot’ was allowed to work on sensitive material.

“Mark Millar and I are working with Joe Ahearne, a highly respected writer/director, about developing a new BBC series. Joe would be the lead writer and director with Mark as a writer and me as lead designer. There’s been discussion of me directing as well. Stylistically, working on BBC shows is similar to American TV because stuff like ‘Dr. Who’ is an attempt to replicate what [America] is doing with genre family entertainment. The difference between comics and television or film is that while with comics Mark and I are lucky to be almost completely autonomous, the film stuff is about servicing somebody else’s vision. I can’t see why I can’t do both, do a six-issue comic and then direct some television or make a film. It’s all telling stories, and that’s what I want to do.”

Before writing comics like Green Lantern, Geoff Johns earned his college degree in Media Arts with a minor in Film Theory from Michigan State University and spent four years working under legendary director and producer Richard Donner. Johns served as a writer on the “Blade” TV series and currently works alongside “Robot Chicken” creators Seth Green and Matt Seinreich as a producer, writer and director on their upcoming stop animation feature film “Naughty or Nice.” He also has a film based on DC’s Metal Men in development.

“It was a hard decision to leave Donner, but there was so much going on for me in comics. I could have spent another year at the company working in development, but I like being on set. Matt and I sold two pilots to Fox after I left and when the crew from ‘Robot Chicken’ wanted to do a movie, he and I pitched this idea for a Christmas movie we’ve had since 2002 and Dimension bought it. We’re in preproduction, we’ve got test puppets made and in a perfect world we’d like to see this movie out Christmas 2009. It’s a lot easier to get what you want out of a comic book since with a TV show or movie you’re limited by budget and by all the other people working on it. I remember my first episode of ‘Blade,’ I wrote this huge fight scene with vampires literally throwing cars around and being told, ‘You can’t do that.’ I had to cut it way back and even then they went ahead and choreographed their own fight. Donner, even with his status, had to go through that stuff. With movies or TV, there are a lot more people involved, a lot more money involved, and a lot more time involved than with a comic book. But it’s also fun! Hollywood isn’t some huge, crazy maze; it’s just a bunch of people trying to make movies.”

A six-year veteran of Amazing Spider-Man and the current writer of Thor, Straczynski made a name for himself in television, most notably creating Emmy-award winning sci-fi series “Babylon 5,” before comic fans had any idea what the initials “JMS” stood for. At present, Straczynski has several film projects ongoing, including: a Silver Surfer feature spinning out of “Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” which he will write the screenplay for; “The Changeling,” a thriller directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Angelina Jolie; and “World War Z,” based on Max Brooks’ bestselling novel. He’s also developing a script for Paul Greengrass based on a story the director wrote called “They Marched Into Sunlight.”

“[Film] is a field I’d actually gone out of my way to avoid for 20 years since it’s so much of a crapshoot in terms of what gets made. But thanks to ‘Changeling,’ I’m working with directors and studios at a much higher level than a development deal, and the road to production is much shorter. I have to say there have been very few hurdles or problems. When you’re working with directors like Greengrass or Eastwood, or with Brad Pitt’s company, which is doing ‘World War Z,’ it makes all the difference in the world. The hardest thing for me to get past as far as writing comics was getting used to the fact that the pictures don’t move. Otherwise, consider everything else the same.”

One of the most well-respected comic book writers of the last 20 years, Grant Morrison’s credits range from seminal tales like Arkham Asylum to current works like All Star Superman. In 2006, New Line optioned We3, Morrison’s quirky miniseries about robotically enhanced killer animals with the creator attached as screenwriter. Paramount recently hired Morrison to adapt the “Area 51” video game into a film.

“I met [‘Transformers’ producer] Don Murphy back in the ’90s because his wife was a good friend of mine from Glasgow. He got me started with my first official work in Hollywood, which was a screenplay for a film called ‘Sleepless Nights,’ which is stuck in development somewhere. When New Line wanted to make ‘We3,’ they asked Don to produce since he knew me and asked me to do the script. I think what I turned in is better than the comic. I’m always the guy who is saying, ‘Don’t change my work, I’ll cut your head off.’ I like listening to people’s suggestions, but if I don’t agree with them, I’m quite boorish about it. They’re currently looking for a director and they’ve got one great name who I think would do a great job. I’m used to comic books that come out three months after you write them so I just want to see this movie now!

“Hollywood is worse than comics—they don’t want you to talk about anything. Comics are all about explanation and exposition. Movies are a lot more direct. They have to play to the audience in middle America as much as in China. I enjoy doing something I can focus on for 120 pages and craft into something great. There are all these rules and everything is very specific. Comics are much more seat-of-the-pants improvisation, which is fun as well. Movies are hardcore.”

Wizard Insider: War Machine

Let's face it: Tony Stark is the one that's always had the coolest armour, out of all the armoured heroes (and villains) in the comics-verse. There has always been one set of armour that I've always thought was more awesome than Stark's customary red and golds though: the War Machine armour, piloted mostly by Stark's best friend, James Rhodes.

Looks like he's going to be in the Iron Man movie too, so here's the Wizard 101 on War Machine!

Become a James Rhodes scholar with this primer on Tony Stark’s bust bud!

By Jake Rossen

Posted December 18, 2007 3:40 PM

In panels or on the big screen, comic heroes never stand alone. When Iron Man makes his Hollywood debut next May, he’ll be accompanied by James Rhodes, an ally that fans may know better as War Machine.

Polishing Machine’s armor will be highly respected actor Terrence Howard (“Pride,” “The Brave One”), a self-professed comics fan who says he “jumped” at the chance to involve himself in a Marvel adaptation. Here are the specs on the man in the can, customized just for Wizard.

Rhodes was first introduced in 1979’s Iron Man #118. He and Tony Stark met just as Stark was escaping from the Viet Cong in his prototype armor. Piloting a stolen helicopter, Rhodes helped Stark escape, and the two forged a close bond. The billionaire industrialist hired Rhodes as his personal pilot; the two would frequently go airborne in tandem when Stark was faced with formidable threats like the Dreadnoughts.

If there’s one thing Tony Stark loves more than money and women, it’s the booze. Unable to control his urges, the recovering alkie allowed himself to devolve into a disgusting lush, depriving the world of an Iron Man. Sensing the need for replacement justice, Rhodes donned the armor, but at a price: because it was configured for Stark’s brain chemistry, the interface turned him paranoid and violent. Wiping the vomit from his shirt, Stark cleaned up in order to oppose him.

Distancing himself from Stark, Rhodes eventually adopted a suit culled from a symbiotic life form, a gift from aliens trying to prepare Earth for a pending invasion courtesy of Kang the Conqueror. Dubbed the Eidolon Warwear, it resembled nothing so much as a porcupine on steroids. While Stark would never approve of the style, the options are considerable: It can heal the wearer’s injuries, “grow” any weapon desired and had a sweet sound system that blared alien battle songs. Rhodes later destroyed it in an attempt to erase Stark’s armor designs before they could be uncovered and appropriated by rival businesses.

With “franchise” the word of the day in Hollywood circles, it makes sense to plan for the future. “Iron Man” director Jon Favreau chose respected thespian Howard to portray Rhodes because he felt the actor would have the necessary gravity to essay the character throughout a planned three-film arc. He’s in good company: The four principals in the film (Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges and Howard) have all been nominated for an Academy Award.

Upon his casting in summer 2006, Howard began chatting up news outlets with his take on the part. “[I’ll] be sitting there waiting—lusting for the opportunity to have my own power,” he told of Rhodes’ potential envy over Stark’s duds. “When I create my own War Machine stuff, I put some extra artillery on there.” Howard also believes his role as an ethnic superhero is an important one. “I feel like Jackie Robinson,” he told Crave Online. “Perhaps in the future they’ll green light other characters or other ethnicities will have a chance, based upon how this is accepted.”

Because director Favreau wasn’t up for a period piece, Stark’s wartime capture has moved to Afghanistan. What’s more, Howard told Ain’t It Cool News that he and Stark don’t meet under those desperate circumstances. Instead, he’s slotted in as a military liaison between Stark Enterprises and the Air Force. “We went to MIT together,” he explained. “I actually see his (character) change.”

This past March, Howard went to visit Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada to examine planes like the HH-60G Pave Hawk and the F-22A Raptor. He also chatted up pilots, presumably in an effort to get a handle on their demeanors. This in addition to the physical training, which, he told Wizard, has resulted in an alpha-male showdown between him and Downey. “Robert and his competitive ass. I almost pulled my shoulder trying to keep up with him.”

Cognizant of how a rabid online fan base dissects news, both Favreau and his cast have been keeping their cards (and storyboards) close to their vests. While Favreau has hinted that the War Machine armor won’t show up until future installments, Howard told that “we start getting into it” in the first film. “War Machine is a very intricate aspect of the future franchise,” he said. Sounds like someone’s taking evasive action.

Marvel Mondays: Marvel Zombies 2

Here's a Marvel Monday feature close to my heart: artist Sean Phillips talks about Marvel Zombies 2!

Artist Sean Phillips takes us on a gore tour of his creative process

By Jake Rossen

Posted December 17, 2007 6:25 PM

After dining on Galactus, you’d think that the gluttonous zombies of writer Robert Kirkman’s imagination would be loosening their belts and resting. But 40 years later, they’ve returned to Earth just as hungry as ever.

Marvel Zombies 2 #3 ships next week, and the stakes are even higher as Wasp and T’Challa struggle to maintain their humanity while thirsting for some tasty flesh. To that end, we thought we’d pick artist Sean Phillips’ brain on the secrets to illustrating the plight of the living dead.

WIZARD: From a design perspective, how do you “zombify” a character? What's the secret? Where do you start?

PHILLIPS: Those teeth! I just followed what Greg Land did in the Marvel Zombies’ original appearance in Ultimate Fantastic Four—blank eyes, and what I thought was no lips. Unfortunately, I was working from small JPEGs of his pages and didn’t quite get it right. Apart from that, it’s just my natural style with the heavy blacks that I played up.

What’s your work process like in getting a page done?

PHILLIPS: After drawing very rough thumbnails to work out the storytelling, it’s straight to the actual pages. I pencil a page very loosely in about 20 minutes and then it’s all done in the inks.

How gory is too gory? Have you ever been asked to tone it down?

PHIILLIPS: I've been able to do whatever I like. No one has asked me to hold back. Although, with Spider-Man eating Mary Jane, I did keep it all off panel and very vague. It just didn’t seem right to show that.

Does Robert Kirkman give you advice, like “more gore”?

PHILLIPS: Nah, but I don’t think what we do is that gory. I spent around 10 years drawing horror books for Vertigo and vampires for 2000 AD before Marvel Zombies. Some of that stuff was far more explicit.

Who has been the most fun to zombify?

PHILLIPS: The Hulk! I'd like to draw a straight Hulk story one day.

Who would be least effective as a zombie?

PHILLIPS: Werewolf by Night?

The latest toy customizing craze is to take action figures and “zombify” them. How does it feel to have helped start a trend?

PHILLIPS: I’m just waiting for the day when people make zombie versions of characters from [Phillips’ and Ed Brubaker’s comic noir] Criminal.

You can zombify any Marvel employee. Who is it?

PHILLIPS: Anyone who isn't needed to sign the checks.

Are zombies legally dead? Could they spend their own life insurance policy?

PHILLIPS: Where could they spend it? Brains R Us?

Serious question. Would Reed Richards’ brain taste better than Hulk’s because he’s smarter?

PHILLIPS: It might, but it may be a bit stringy.