Casual fans of pop culture will probably recognize a satirical version of Tom Swift, the technically ingenious star of multiple book series beginning in 1910. Heart of Ice author Alan Moore, in the latest installment of his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series, packs references within references. The book takes place in 1925, but Swyfte's line anticipates the invention and population of the taser, a real-life anagram for "Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle." (It's true!)
Nemo: Heart of Ice offers a throwback to the high adventure of the initial League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series, written by Moore and illustrated by Kevin O'Neill. First appearing in 1999 and helping to usher in the steampunk and neo-Victorian storytelling trends, the comic book envisioned a Justice League-style super-team drawn from Victorian and Edwardian literature. Gentlemen's first two volumes launched such familiar figures as Mr. Hyde and Captain Nemo into thrilling escapades, while the subsequent books became less accessible, focusing more on mysticism and increasingly obscure characters.
According to Top Shelf Productions, the Marietta-based publisher, the books chronicle congressman Lewis' work in the Civil Rights Movement, including the March on Washington in 1963 and the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965, and reflect on that progress from a contemporary perspective. "We try to tell the complete story of what happened," Lewis told PW, including the violence targeted at civil rights activists.
No word yet on what dates, if any, Lewis will be in Atlanta to promote the release of the book. The first volume will be released in August 2013, with the second and third volumes being published later.
The new direct-to-DVD film, the 15th in the DC Animated Universe series, goes on-sale today and hurls the audience into the same sequence as the book. We find a 55 year-old Bruce Wayne (voiced by Robocop’s Peter Weller), having hung up the cowl a decade earlier, recklessly competing in an Formula One-style automobile race. In the comic book, Miller and Janson confine the competition to a single page, rendered almost entirely in tight close-ups of Bruce behind the wheel. The reader requires at least one reading to follow the rapid editing and skewed perspective on the action, which suggests the comic book equivalent of a contemporary Bourne movie.
The film, directed by Jay Olivia, offers all the conventional race images that you’d expect, with long shots and bird’s eye views of the road that emphasize bland visual clarity at the expense of the book’s off-kilter emotional intimacy. Even more strikingly, the film dispenses with Miller’s hard-boiled interior monologues, eliminating many of book’s most memorable lines and the uncomfortable implications about Bruce’s sadistic psyche. When the race ends with a fiery crash, on paper Bruce thinks, “This would be a good death... but not good enough.” The script confines itself almost entirely to the book’s spoken dialogue.
Even if you don’t follow comic book news, you may have heard last summer that a biracial teen named Miles Morales would be taking up the Spider-mantle following the death of Peter Parker. Marvel’s “Ultimates” titles offer a parallel, somewhat streamlined depiction of its major characters, so Peter is alive and well, barring the odd spider-villain attack or loss of his spider-senses, in Marvel’s other titles. Marvel has just released the intriguing, five-issue introduction of Morales in a hardback volume (Marvel, $24.99, 136 pp). Written by Bendis and drawn by Sara Pichelli, Ultimate Spider-Man shows how to take a familiar character and give it an exciting spin.
In the 48-page one-shot comic Nemo: Heart of Ice, which takes place in Antarctica in the 1920s, Jules Verne will collide with H.P. Lovecraft. "It takes place in Antarctica and [the work of H.P. Lovecraft] is a major component. You figure it out," promised Moore. If all goes according to plan, Heart of Ice will be out by the end of 2012.
Chris Staros of Top Shelf Productions confirmed for me via email that Nemo: Heart of Ice would be published by the Marietta-based graphic novel company, in a co-production with Knockabout Comics. This will make two League-based Top Shelf books by Moore and artist Kevin O'Neill released by Top Shelf this year. Century: 2009, the final book in the century-spanning League trilogy, is due in June (and reportedly evokes the recently-created fictional worlds of "The West Wing" and Harry Potter, among others).
I'm particularly excited by Nemo: Heart of Ice, which Moore hints will resemble a mash-up of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and In the Mouth of Madness.
Given that Guillermo Del Toro won't be making his big-screen adaptation of Madness any time soon, Heart of Ice sounds like a great consolation prize.
RORSCHACH (4 issues) — Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: Lee Bermejo
MINUTEMEN (6 issues) — Writer/Artist: Darwyn Cooke
COMEDIAN (6 issues) — Writer: Brian Azzarello. Artist: J.G. Jones
DR. MANHATTAN (4 issues) — Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artist: Adam Hughes
NITE OWL (4 issues) — Writer: J. Michael Straczynski. Artists: Andy and Joe Kubert
OZYMANDIAS (6 issues) — Writer: Len Wein. Artist: Jae Lee
SILK SPECTRE (4 issues) — Writer: Darwyn Cooke. Artist: Amanda Conner
Original Watchmen writer Alan Moore has been quite vocal in his disenchantment with DC Comics, even having his name removed from big-screen adaptations of his work. Straczynski, who has an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for Clint Eastwood's Changeling and impeccable geek credentials as the creator of "Babylon 5," provided for the Hollywood Reporter a persuasive argument that in favor of other people making more stories about Moore's characters:
The perception that these characters shouldn’t be touched by anyone other than Alan is both absolutely understandable and deeply flawed. As good as these characters are — and they are very good indeed — one could make the argument, based on durability and recognition, that Superman is the greatest comics character ever created. But I don’t hear Alan or anyone else suggesting that no one other than Shuster and Siegel should have been allowed to write Superman. Certainly Alan himself did this when he was brought on to write Swamp Thing, a seminal comics character created by Len Wein.
Daredevil, a.k.a. attorney Matt Murdock, has always been one of Marvel Comics' most tormented heroes, partly because he's a blind man with heightened senses that help him fight evil. He's also a street-level crime-fighter with a closer relationship to poverty and other urban problems than the likes of Thor and the Fantastic Four, who take on more outlandish cosmic menaces. Frank Miller in the 1980s and Brian Michael Bendis in the 2000s conceived the character as very much like a film noir hero, and put Murdock through a wringer that was harsh even by Marvel's angsty standards. The past 10 years have seen Murdock's life ruined in every possible way, including his secret identity made public and a stint in prison with his arch-nemeses. Andy Diggle's miniseries Shadowland, saw Murdock cross numerous moral lines while possessed by a bloodthirsty demon called Snakeroot. When you've got a demon named "Snakeroot" in your book, any pretense at real-world credibility goes out the window.
Shawn Crystal: The SCAD professor and artist has a three-issue arc with Marvel's Deadpool (aka "the merc with a mouth") beginning in late May.
Nathan Edmondson: The Macon-based writer will be leaving DC Comics' Grifter as of issue 8, but is continuing his military adventure series The Activity and just announced the upcoming publication of Dancer, a 5-issue series involving a ballerinas and snipers debuting May 2.
Since 1994, the Atlanta Comic Convention has been connecting fans with artists, actors, and professionals in the comic industry. This year, the convention will feature 3 actors who all stared as zombies in multiple episodes and were featured in print ads for The Walking Dead.
Actors Rodney Hall, Ashleigh Jo Sizemore and Dan Riker, who thankfully don't crave human flesh in real life, will be at the convention for an autograph signing session. While the actors will be charging a fee for photos, convention visitors are welcome to bring any show memorabilia (posters, t-shirts, comics etc.) for the actors to autograph for free.
Ultimate Spider-Man, like the rest of the Ultimate line of Marvel comics, was launched about a decade ago to offer a more accessible, streamlined approach to the company's roster of superheroes. Writer Brian Michael Bendis and Marietta-based artist Mark Bagley turned Ultimate Spider-Man into the best-selling Spider-Man title of the decade, emphasizing Peter Parker's vulnerability as a high school teenager thrust into a dark, dangerous world of criminals, domestic spies and super-powered freaks.
Bagley drew 111 issues of Ultimate Spider-Man before moving onto different projects, but happily accepted Marvel's invitation to illustrate the Death of Spider-Man arc. "That was a nice compliment," he told me in a recent interview. "I loved doing it, because it was the culmination of what the poor kid’s been going through for years. A 16-year-old kid getting out there, being not always so smart with his secret identity — it had to happen. Brian wrote a great story."
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