Monthly Archives: May 2008

Wizard World Philly – Friday


Well, I will say this right off the bat, getting in was a hell of a lot easier this time than previous years. I might even go so far as to say it was a pleasure. One hopes it goes as well tomorrow and Sunday when it tends to be much busier.

Upon entering the show floor that Wizard seemed to be so proud to fill earlier in the week, the one thing I noticed is that it seemed both empty and sparse. I’m sure that will change. Or not. I did learn later in the day that the place was so empty because hundreds of folks were still waiting in the VIP lines. Many were there for an extended amount of time apparently.

At the DC booth I saw that they were giving away copies of DC Universe #0. That’s right, for free. The book that originally sold for fifty cents and will be sold in reprint for a dollar, was free. I’ll leave you to formulate your own opinion on that.

The Mondo Marvel panel was first and included Joe Quesada, Tom Brevoort, Dan Slott, Greg Pak, C.B. Cebulski, Brian Reed, Duane Swierczynski, Fred Van Lente and was hosted by Joe Quesada. Immediately they threw out the new ideas coming from the House of Ideas. There’s a new X-Men miniseries called Manifest Destiny, a new Deadpool series, Greg Pak’s new origin of Magneto, yawn. Then they brought up Age of the Sentry, a limited series by Jeff Parker featuring a retro look at the Sentry’s Silver Age adventures.

Other than the Sentry deal, there is a noticeable lack of Avengers, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man news. And a sparse showing as well, due to the VIP thing, but then again it is the first panel of the day. Many things were discussed in an extended question and answer session, including one fact from the lips of editor Tom Brevoort, “Mary Jane (Watson-Parker) is not a Skrull.”

A fan who didn’t like the new FF by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch inspired an intriguing response from Brevoort in that not every comic will click with every reader, and that he was sorry it wasn’t working for the fan. Wow. I wonder if that kind of honesty could have come from, say, Dan DiDio?

Speak of the devil, after hanging out a bit with some friends, I attended the DC Nation panel. This panel was mostly held in dim light as host, DC Senior Editor Ian Sattler, didn’t want to be blinded by the spotlights used in previous panels. It should be noted that he never told us who was on the panel, but it did include J.G. Jones, Jimmy Palmiotti, Shane Davis, Art Baltazar and possibly Ethan Van Sciver among others. Like I said, who knows who was there – we were never told.

And although the panel was without introductions, the audience response to the slide show was very positive. It was noted that Final Crisis: Superman Beyond would be partially in 3-D. And of course the Power Girl slide couldn’t pass by without at least one inferred boob joke. Sigh. There are just to many men in comics. Too bad Amanda Conner wasn’t there. And from Palmiotti’s description of the series, I hate to say because I’m really looking forward to it, it sounds an awful lot like the way Brian Reed describes his Ms. Marvel.

And then the questions and some answers followed. A fan question regarding “Batman R.I.P.,” brought up that no one has said that the caped crusader is going to die. No one knows what’s really going to happen, including a few of the folks on the mystery panel.

Another fan, who said he was a DC reader for more than four decades, brought up how dumb a villain Libra was – an opinion I personally don’t agree with by the way, and like him I also read the original Libra story when it first hit the stands. He asked specifically what is the reaction when someone says for the biggest story of the year, here’s Libra, an obscure lame villain. The answer – it depends on who suggests it.

An unnamed artist on the panel, possibly Shane Davis or maybe Ethan Van Sciver, said he’s been begging to do an Aquaman revival. He said he asks once a week, and that he walks into DiDio’s office holding a trident sometimes he wants it so bad.

Other questions yielded the following answers. Sue Dibny will be seen in the upcoming Final Crisis: Reign in Hell miniseries. Despite rumors to the contrary, Jim Shooter is still writing Legion of Super-Heroes, Rich Johnston be damned apparently. J.G. Jones verified that his script for Final Crisis #1 says that “Libra spears the Martian Manhunter through the chest and kills him.” Bastards.

Also today I got to hang with some folks I don’t usually get to hang with as often as I like. Good friends and fellow Comic Widows staffers Anthony and Andrea were both on hand. I also hung with Abraham of the Avengers Forever Forum, and I also got to say hello to Michelle who I haven’t seen in ages and finally got to meet her husband Joe. Good times.

I’ll leave you folks with a quote for today, overheard on the convention floor. There were two older women browsing one of the t-shirt walls of an exhibitor and one said to the other, “Look, another Wonder Woman! I had no idea she was so popular!” Gotta love it.


Harvey Korman of “The Carol Burnett Show” and Blazing Saddles, among many many others, including other Mel Brooks films, and most notoriously, “The Star Wars Holiday Special.”

The French Fry Song

Spies and Victims

Three Days of the Condor ~ I’m watching this the day after hearing of Sydney Pollack’s passing and this is truly one of his better films. What strikes me immediately is how violent the flick is without actually showing the violence the way a current film would. My, how things have changed, and not for the better. Thinking about the movies that Pollack has directed Robert Redford in I really have to say that he brings out the best in the actor. I’ll have to remember to watch Havana again soon. This film though is excellent and highly recommended.

36 Hours ~ Another excellent but also probably sadly forgotten flick. James Garner, showing terrific acting chops rarely seen in his role as Jim Rockford, gives an amazing performance here as an American soldier on the eve of D-Day who is captured by the Nazis, and tricked into believing it’s six years later and the war is over – so they can discover the details of the invasion. Brilliant flick based on a short story by Roald Dahl.

Mary and Rhoda ~ A desperate shot at reviving the magic of the old “Mary Tyler Moore Show” two and a half decades later. Mary and Valerie Harper’s Rhoda meet up in New York and help each other deal with their college age daughters. This TV movie was so bad that even the actors in it wish it best forgotten.

Ulli Lommel’s Black Dahlia ~ This is just a sick sick sick mess. Writer/director Lommel (and it hurts to even give him the benefit of the doubt as those titles) is a hack and would be better off making snuff films. The only thing this has to do with the Black Dahlia is that the three sociopaths who ‘act’ as protagonists repeatedly reenact Elizabeth Short’s murder on victim after victim after victim. I hated this.

R.I.P. Sydney Pollack

Yesterday famed director and actor Sydney Pollack passed away. While known best as a director I feel he was also one of the finest character actors as well.

My favorite films that he directed include that great Burt Lancaster flick The Swimmer (for which he was not credited), one of the best thrillers ever Three Days of the Condor and one of my all-time favorites They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?. Everyone talks about Tootsie and The Way We Were, but if you really want to see some of his amazing direction, I recommend these two underrated and/or forgotten classics: The Yakuza and his remake of Sabrina.

He’ll be missed, both behind, and on, the screen.

You’re Kidding Me, Right?

McDonald’s, you’re kidding, right?

The new Southern Style Chicken Sandwich from McDonald’s seems very familiar. Let’s see. Juicy, boneless, all white meat chicken topped by pickles in a tasty roll…

Of course, it’s a Chick-fil-A Sandwich with the pickles switched around. Damn, that’s clever.

What will you do next, McDonald’s? Start using cows to advertise your original new food item?

Either way, nothing beats Chick-fil-A in this department. Good luck on your next endeavor, Mickey D’s, I hear it’s going to be something called a Whopper… only ‘southern style.’

Prince Caspian

I think at some point I should actually read some of the Narnia books. I’ve seen previous versions of some of the series made for TV, as well as 2005’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and I always walk away with a feeling that I’ve missed something. It’s not that I’m thick or something and don’t get it – it’s that I feel there are elements that may have been in the books that ain’t making it to the new media.

That feeling hit me again tonight when I saw The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Now for all intents and purposes, and especially to the uninitiated, this is a sequel to the 2005 movie, and that may be for appearances. But, point in fact, this is the third in the Narnia series, and the connections made to its predecessor just aren’t there in the books. But as I said, I haven’t read said books, so it didn’t bug me much. It did however make me wonder what else had been tampered with in the translation.

Obviously the stories are quite old and needed to be updated for contemporary audiences I suppose, or possibly for more current tastes and trends. Specifically, the Lord of the Rings was hot so the powers-that-be in Hollywood seem to have made Narnia more like that, and believe me, after sitting through this 144 minute film, it really wants to be LotR. And I just find that ironic because Lewis and Tolkien were contemporaries who, by some accounts, really didn’t care for each other much.

It’s not great, but then again, it could have been much worse. The special effects are pretty spectacular and the performances quite good, but there are problems. Most notable among them are the thick accents of the Telmarines. I found myself wishing for captions at several points during the film. And then there are minor things like how Susan’s quiver never runs out of arrows.

All in all, it’s probably a good family film. Beware of a large body count, even though it’s ‘fantasy violence.’ Of course that’s a term I have never understood. How is getting run through with a magic sword less graphic than Bruce Willis shooting up a room with an Uzi anyway? Anyway, good flick, worth seeing, but maybe more worth the wait for DVD.

Dick Martin 1922-2008

Comedian Dick Martin passed away yesterday from respiratory problems. He was 86.

Best known as Dan Rowan’s partner as host NBC’s popular “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” Martin also did stand-up in the 1950s, appeared as Lucille Ball’s wacky neighbor in one of her sitcoms and was the principal director on “Newhart” during the 1990s. I most recently saw him in 2001’s Bartlby.

Will he be missed? You bet your sweet bippy.

J.R. Simplot 1907-2008