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Top 10: Comic Book Headquarters by Jerry Whitworth

Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Comic Art News | 1 comment

Top 10: Comic Book Headquarters by Jerry Whitworth

While most heroes lack a secret place to hang their hat, those that have headquarters hold the keys to a collection of their triumphs and defeats with a space to improve their derring-do. Of course, as we will discover, heroes don’t hold an exclusive market on secret hideaways. I should note, I chose to ignore cities, planets, and countries like Latveria, Atlantis, Asgard, Attilan, Themyscira, and Oa out of personal preference.

Sanctum Sanctorum

Sanctum Sanctorum

10. SANCTUM SANCTORUM

Home to the Ancient One and his servant Wong, the Sanctum Sanctorum is an unassuming three-story townhouse in Greenwich Village marked by some arcane symbol in its loft window. The building would become headquarters to the Ancient One’s protege Dr. Strange, Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme, and his Defenders. When one walks inside, however, the space is significantly more expansive than the borders seen outside. A veritably labyrinth of hallways and rooms, the structure was built atop a focal point of mystical energies that shifts with certain rooms always in the same place and others change through the passage of time. Some notable features include an expansive living room and adjoining library, a meditation room, Wong’s storage cellar, a room exclusively for the Orb of Agomotto, and a small courtyard.

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The Incredibles May Be Going Galactic

Posted by on Apr 14, 2014 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

The Incredibles 2The Incredibles May Be Going Galactic by Jerry Whitworth

 

Ten years ago, Brad Bird gave the world one of the best superhero films it has ever seen (then or now) in The Incredibles. Telling the story of a family of superheroes in a world that feared their kind, their patriarch Mr. Incredible is duped by wealthy and eccentric inventor Buddy Pine into helping him perfect the Omnidroid (a series of robots that nearly secretly wiped out all known superheroes). Part of the insidious Operation Kronos, Pine adopted the identity of the powerful Syndrome who would publicly defeat the Omnidroid and become a new hero adored by the people. However, when the robot’s ability to adapt made it self-aware and throw off Syndrome’s control, it was up to the Incredibles and their friend Frozone to save the city of Metroville. Despite being popular and sequels for other films from the animation studio Pixar making their way to the big screen, Bird would say he had ideas for a sequel to The Incredibles but didn’t feel it was enough to compose another movie (choosing instead to wait until he could make a sequel worthy of the original). Since then, Bird would helm Ratatouille for Pixar and move on to live action films like Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Tomorrowland. Comic book publisher Boom! Studios would tackle the Incredibles in 2009 under the guidance of the brilliant Mark Waid featuring Xerek, intended to be the main villain of the film in early drafts, and his villainous group the Unforgivables. Recently, it was announced Brad Bird is developing a script for The Incredibles 2.

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Top 10 Anti-Batmen

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

The Arkham KnightTop 10: Anti-Batmen by Jerry Whitworth

 

Recently, Warner Bros. announced the forthcoming release of the third and reportedly final entry in Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham trilogy with Batman: Arkham Knight. This third entry has been eagerly awaited, both to return to the engaging gameplay of the series and to continue the story from Batman: Arkham City which included the death of the Joker and the League of Assassins left leaderless. Fans were given Batman: Arkham Origins to satisfy them while awaiting the third Arkham game (and likely help spawn a new Arkham series more closely under Warner Bros. influence) but Origins received mixed reviews at best, plagued with glitches and bugs (which included forcing players to restart games from scratch), sales short of Arkham City (but comparable to Arkham Asylum not including DLC), and falling prey to virtually every inherent problem with producing a prequel (playing on areas of content found in, and expanded upon, City despite taking place before Arkham Asylum). For Arkham Knight, Gotham’s rogues like Scarecrow, Two-Face, Penguin, Harley Quinn, and Riddler team-up to menace the Dark Knight as a new threat created for the game will be introduced. The eponymous “Arkham Knight” is being created in part by DC Comics superstar creator Geoff Johns and has been described in a demo provided to the magazine Game Informer as a “militaristic Batman” with an “Arkham A” on his chest who shoots Batman at the end of the demo. Anti-Batmen (villainous characters who share characteristics with the hero) are not exactly a new concept. The Three Ghosts of Batman are in fact a team of anti-Batmen and during the event Battle for the Cowl, the likes of Jason Todd and Two-Face take up distorted versions of the bat’s cowl for their own purposes (on parallel and the Anti-Matter Earth, Owlman is a villainous analogy of the Caped Crusader). Lets examine some memorable anti-Batmen.

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Make It So: Batman Arkham Origins II

Posted by on Mar 16, 2014 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

Arkham OriginsMake It So: Batman Arkham Origins II by Jerry Whitworth

 

When Warner Bros. decided to add an entry to Rocksteady’s wildly popular Batman: Arkham series without Rocksteady (or fan favorite writer Paul Dini), reaction was mixed at best. Expectations were already lowered when the people behind the phenomenon wouldn’t be included but when reports of multiple glitches and bugs (including severe ones that forced players to restart the game entirely) were not only present but common, both the game and developer Warner Bros. Games Montréal were heavily criticized. The game wouldn’t be considered a failure, however. While it certainly didn’t reach the heights of sales or prestige of previous installment Arkham City, it managed to secure sales in the strata of first entry Arkham Asylum (not including sale of DLC material). A prequel, Arkham Origins describes the first meeting between Batman and the Joker as assassins descend on Gotham on Christmas Eve to collect a multimillion dollar bounty for the Dark Knight’s head. In the first Arkham game, Joker was the focus with Poison Ivy a significant secondary threat. The sequel saw Hugo Strange as the main adversary with the Joker and Ra’s al Ghul as seeming equal threats (Joker stealing the show by the game’s finale). Origins had Joker as the star while Bane became almost an equal threat. The three games would prominently feature some of Batman’s greatest rogues, including Penguin, Catwoman, Riddler, Two-Face, Mister Freeze, Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, Black Mask, Killer Croc, Deadshot, and Firefly in addition to those named already. If Warner was to produce an Arkham Origins sequel, lets examine what that could entail.

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Power Rangers Super Megaforce

Posted by on Mar 10, 2014 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

Legendary BattleHow I Would Have Done It: Power Rangers Super Megaforce by Jerry Whitworth

 

Since taking back the franchise, Saban Brands has had difficulty finding its groove with Power Rangers. Samurai and Super Samurai were seen as short, lackluster seasons (that ideally would have been a single season, counted as such among fans). Megaforce, the twenty year anniversary of Power Rangers, kept hinting toward introducing some means of celebrating the advent only to instead be simply a lead-up to Super Megaforce. In this latest season, the rangers of the previous season gain a power-up to their previous abilities that allow them to morph into any former ranger identity. A handful of episodes in and they’ve heavily made use of popular Power Rangers season S.P.D. and employed suits from a season that largely didn’t air in America (Gosei Sentai Dairanger whose KibaRanger, Daizinryu, mecha, and monsters were used in the second season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers). Thus far, episodes have mostly relied on the base material footage with extreme action and had little in the way of story (even footage shot for Power Rangers exclusively has thus far involved characters in their suits or congregating in the Command Center). Of course, as Power Rangers has traditionally made much of its profits from toy sales and the twentieth anniversary has spawned the popular Legacy collection toyline and DVD sets, it’s likely this move is intended to help sell products based on the new season making the episodes thus far glorified toy commercials. Reviews as of this writing have made note of the idea of selling past ranger transformations (and associated action figures and ranger keys merchandise) and of the transition of animal-based zords to a pirate theme for no given or apparent reason (the latter a major gripe with Turbo, the season that almost ended Power Rangers). Add the fact that towards the end of Saban’s first run and most of the Disney years of the franchise delved deeply into expanding plot, thus saving and maintaining the series for over a decade, and the seemingly mindless or inane effort for the latest crop of Power Rangers (which has included major stumbling blocks for returning cast members) may turn the celebration into a wake. It’s likely with this in mind Saban has decided to skip the next season of the source footage in order to return to the dinosaur theme (with Power Rangers Dino Charge) which the series was created upon in hopes the nostalgia factor can make up for the poor production. Lets see my take on how the season could have went.

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Gotham High – Shadow Of The Bat

Posted by on Mar 4, 2014 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

Gotham HighGotham High: Shadow of the Bat by Jerry Whitworth

 

It was announced last month significant changes are in store for the Gotham television series coming to Fox. Originally suppose to feature a young James Gordon fighting crime in the city of Gotham, the series is now instead going to star a pre-teen Bruce Wayne and his journey to ultimately don the cowl of Batman in the series finale (more-or-less following the formula of Smallville). Slated to appear are other familiar faces like the Joker, Catwoman, Penguin, and Riddler. Of course, the idea is hardly an original one. In terms of Smallville, fans speculated character Adam Knight was a sly way of the show’s producers have Batman in the series despite his franchise being unavailable (Adam a homage to Adam West and Knight a wink to Dark Knight). However, not only did this prove to be false, writers for the show said it was never their intention to take that route. Jeffrey Thomas and Celeste Green developed an animated series called Gotham High after Thomas submitted the idea of a high school for Batman and his rogues and allies to DC Comics. The series, which featured over a dozen characters from Batman, would sadly be canceled before production started. Paul Dini and Kevin Smith, two heavyweights in the annals of geekdom, also collaborated on a proposed live action series in Shadow of the Bat featuring Bruce Wayne in a private school filled with familiar faces (Dini having already developed the series Tower Prep, essentially X-Men meets The Prisoner starring a teenage Batman-like character). With all of these prior attempts in mind, lets examine some possibilities in the new series.

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Review: JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time

Posted by on Feb 22, 2014 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

JLA Adventures: Trapped in TimeReview: JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time by Jerry Whitworth

 

Part of some bizarre”stealth release,” JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time is a direct-to-video animated film available only in US brick-and-mortar Target stores released January 2014. Discovered by eagle-eyed fans who learned of the film through a Target store mailer roughly a week before its premier, absolutely no foreword was provided of the film be it an official announcement or from any of those involved making mention of it, its discovered existence largely a happy accident. Even more strange, several of the players behind the hit animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender worked on the film but little mention of this fact has been played up by Warner Bros. In any event, the film’s plot features a quasi-team-up of the Super Friends and Legion of Super-Heroes when a plan by the Legion of Doom goes awry seeing the group’s leader Lex Luthor emerge in the future. Once there, he acquires the means to time travel while uncovering Superman’s secret origin and returns to the past to make sure Superman never came to exist. Following the rogue are Karate Kid and Dawnstar, two applicants for the Legion of Super-Heroes who are responsible for Luthor’s release and who alert the Justice League of America of the coming threat. First, lets examine some of the themes of the film.

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Same Bat-Series, New Bat-Features

Posted by on Jan 21, 2014 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

Conan O'BrienSame Bat-Series, New Bat-Features by Jerry Whitworth

 

Following a deal cut between Warner Bros and Fox over the Batman television series of the 1960s starring Adam West and Burt Ward (giving WB access to Fox’s original content in the franchise), fans knew it was only a matter of time before the series, long absent from home media, would finally find its way to DVD (albeit with a healthy dose of hesitation). A recent surprise announcement from comedian and late night television host Conan O’Brien on Twitter would provide fans the news they’ve waited nearly five decades to finally hear: Batman is coming home. Simply stating the series would come to DVD sometime in 2014, the three seasons of the famous show is said to have saved the Batman franchise at DC Comics (which had lagged in sales following the nationwide assault on the comic book industry in the 1950s, Batman kept alive through the efforts of Julius Schwartz and Carmine Infantino starting in 1964). Following the premier of Batman, not only would sales of Batman’s books thrive, the character became a cultural phenomenon in the United States (and in some ways across the planet) as DC Comics put the character front and center in titles like Justice League of America, World’s Finest Comics, and The Brave and the Bold (beginning to edge Superman out of his long held limelight at the company). The television series featured big name actors like Vincent Price, Milton Berle, Joan Collins, Cesar Romero, and Burgess Meredith (Clint Eastwood was considered to appear as Two-Face until the character was viewed too gruesome for the show’s audience). As with many DVD releases, perhaps as exciting for the series to be made available for home consumption is the desire for what special features will be included in the collection (especially for such a long awaited series). Lets take a look at some of the special features we may expect to see included with the set.

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Top 10 Seasons of Power Rangers

Posted by on Jan 3, 2014 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

Power Rangers Legacy CollectionTop 10: Seasons of Power Rangers by Jerry Whitworth

With the announcement by Shout! Factory that the final seasons of Disney’s Power Rangers run is coming to DVD next year (not to mention the awesome upcoming legacy collection in a collectible red ranger helmet), fans will finally be able to own the entire Power Rangers series on DVD. In the twenty years Power Rangers has been on the air, the series has been through many transitions as powers and zords changed and cast members came and went leading to new rangers almost every season as the norm today. Even the people who brought the series to the masses has changed hands as the show was fostered by Saban’s brand before being scooped up by Disney where Saban bought it back some years ago. Perhaps the one force that has stayed with the show longer than most (if not the longest) is Koichi Sakamoto, who joined Power Rangers with its third season as stunt coordinator and whose growing presence has ushered in arguably the most action packed seasons of the series (Sakamoto directed the upcoming anniversary reunion and season finale episode “Legendary Battle” of Power Rangers Super Megaforce based on the film Gokaiger Goseiger Super Sentai 199 Hero Great Battle). Lets take a look now at the absolute best seasons of Power Rangers over its twenty years.

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The ’80s – Geek Edition: Part Seven – Video Games

Posted by on Dec 5, 2013 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

VCSThe ’80s – Geek Edition: Part Seven – Video Games by Jerry Whitworth

(see Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six here if you haven’t already)

 

The earliest video games arose in the 1950s for the computer before expanding into the arcade market in the early ’70s and the at-home consoles that came soon after (making the newfound medium accessible for most people). While Magnavox and Coleco were early developers of consoles, undoubtedly the bigger success story was Atari. Founded by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, the company found early success with the game Pong before manufacturing the Video Computer System (VCS) console to the mass market. Launched in 1977, the VCS would be the best selling Christmas gift of 1979 (with the newly released game Adventure for that console that year selling a million copies becoming one of its top sellers of all time). The success of the VCS and growing popularity of video games inspired Mattel to develop the Intellivision as a direct competitor to Atari’s console which proved to be another hit (in a real way establishing the idea of one household having more than one gaming system). Atari, undeterred, had a move of its own in 1980 by porting the popular arcade game Space Invaders from Taito to the VCS (Williams Electronics would spawn the game Defender, which used Space Invaders and Asteroids! as inspiration, for the arcade in 1980 which was ported to the VCS two years later). Further, Atari continued producing arcade games as well, releasing the popular game Missile Command for the market that year (a port made for the home market that same year). However, a game would premier in the arcade market in 1980 that changed everything.

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From Page to Screen: The Defenders

Posted by on Nov 23, 2013 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

Marvel KnightsFrom Page to Screen: The Defenders by Jerry Whitworth

 

Recently it was announced Marvel has inked a deal with Netflix to produce four series (thirteen episodes to a series) on four street level super hero characters. Series in the deal will be based on Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones culminating into a crossover mini-series called The Defenders. In the comics, the Defenders was known as the “non-team” generally featuring the most powerful heroic characters at Marvel (founded by Doctor Strange, Hulk, and Namor the Sub-Mariner with Silver Surfer soon after) who found it challenging to work with others that were joined by characters that generally were not at that time in the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four, or Champions (like Nighthawk, Hellcat, Valkyrie, Son of Satan, Luke Cage, and Daredevil). What seems to be suggested, however, with the upcoming Defenders is something more akin to the Marvel Knights, an imprint at Marvel that generally focused on street level characters and has been used by fans to describe such heroes (like Spider-Man, Daredevil, Wolverine, Punisher, Luke Cage, and Moon Knight). Lets take a look at the four characters from the upcoming Defenders and what we may expect in their series.

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The ’80s – Geek Edition: Part Six – Cartoons

Posted by on Nov 15, 2013 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

Battle of the PlanetsThe ’80s – Geek Edition: Part Six – Cartoons by Jerry Whitworth

(see Parts One, Two, Three, Four, and Five here if you haven’t already)

A number of advents in animation largely emerged in the 80s. Of note, we already discussed the relationship between toy companies and cartoons (which we’ll revisit briefly later). But, another prevalent phenomenon was the relationship between American and Japanese animators. Anime, the Japanese word for animation (used in America to describe animation from Japan made for Japanese audiences), was not new to the United States. Series like Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atom), 8th Man, Gigantor (Tetsujin 28-go), and Speed Racer (Mach Go Go Go) had been edited and dubbed in the ’60s for American children. There would be a lull in this movement broken in the late ’70s with Battle of the Planets. Adapted from Tatsunoko’s hit series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (which inspired Super Sentai, which Power Rangers is derived from), Battle of the Planets told the story of five youths who operated together as the group G-Force to combat an alien invasion from the planet Spectra led by its malevolent agent Zoltar. The series would also prove successful in the United States running until 1985 where G-Force: Guardians of Space would begin the following year as a more faithful adaptation of Gatchaman. Sadly, the show was mysteriously pulled off the air after only running for a week where it then ran in syndication internationally. Battle of the Planets would be the opening salvo for anime in America (a trend that largely remained constant to today where some have referred to the ’80s as the Golden Age of Anime in America).

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Creator Profile: Studio GHIBLI

Posted by on Nov 10, 2013 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

Studio GhibliCreator Profile: Studio GHIBLI by Jerry Whitworth

 

When you talk about animation studios in Japan, there’s likely no other with the international recognition of Studio GHIBLI. Founded by creators Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, Ghibli was an attempt on the part of the longtime friends and collaborators to create an entirely new and distinct animation studio in an area of film largely dying in Japan. At the time of Ghibli’s founding, Japanese animation studios largely adapted preexisting works (generally for television) with a guaranteed audience of people who already knew the work. Ghibli, on the other hand, wanted to create original work which was considered a significant gamble at the time (as such a concept led to the death or evolution of other more established and well-known studios in the country). The creation of Ghibli also relied heavily on the support of Yasuyoshi Tokuma, whose publishing company Tokuma Shoten was the parent company to Ghibli. But before we get into the origins of Ghibli, we need to look at that of its founders. We begin with Isao Takahata.

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The ’80s – Geek Edition: Part Five

Posted by on Oct 31, 2013 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

The ShiningThe ’80s – Geek Edition: Part Five by Jerry Whitworth

 (see Parts One, Two, Three, and Four if you haven’t already)

When you talk about Horror in the 1980s, you largely talk about Stephen King. Despite having his work published at the age of twelve in the 1950s, it wouldn’t be until the 1970s that the author began publishing the novels he is so greatly admired and acknowledged for today. His first published novel Carrie (1974) tells of a bullied high school girl who develops telekinetic abilities and uses it to exact revenge on those that scorned her. This work would be adapted to film to much acclaim in 1976 by director Brian De Palma and feature Sissy Spacek (as the eponymous character) and John Travolta (the novel was adapted for film a third time which will premier in theaters shortly). However, the work that arguably saw King’s star shine and made him a household name was his third published novel The Shining. Premiering in 1977, the book tells the story of a writer who agrees to watch a vast hotel in the middle of the wilderness during its off season in the winter with his wife and five year old son (where the boy has various psychic abilities like seeing the future and able to communicate with others like him). A malevolent force in the hotel awakes a darkness in the man, driving him mad and pushing him to murder his family. The book would reach significantly greater heights in 1980 when director Stanley Kubrick adapted the story into a feature film. Starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, the movie is regarded today as one of the greatest Horror films ever made (and one of the greatest films ever made period). King would hardly rest on his laurels.

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Make it So: Ghostbusters III

Posted by on Oct 30, 2013 in Comic Art News | 0 comments

Ghostbusters IIIMake it So: Ghostbusters III by Jerry Whitworth

 

While in development hell for several decades, in this age of reboots and mining for gold in 1980s film franchises, a third Ghostbusters film is virtually begging to be made. And considering the popularity of paranormal investigation television series like Ghost Hunters (and various other similar Syfy series), Ghost Adventures, and Paranormal State (more or less resurrected in the independent film American Ghost Hunter), it is something the public is craving. Dan Aykroyd, undoubtedly the biggest advocate of a third film and who has composed several versions of a script for the movie since the 1990s, has already let slip some elements planned for the project including the original members retired to make way for a new, younger team and that research into particle physics at Columbia University leads to the new troubles arising in the paranormal. Considering the toyline, different animated series, video games, different comic book series, and various other forms of media to spin out of the film franchise, Ghostbusters III all around would be good for those involved (save possible some of the actors from the original who admittedly have little interest or excitement for a continuation). Lets examine some elements that could arise in the third film.

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