Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Star Wars Into Darkness!

Well it was inevitable wasn't it? In this case though a good mash-up of the music from the recent Star Trek Into Darkness teaser trailer with footage from the classic Star Wars trilogy so set back and enjoy.

Monday, January 28, 2013

"Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs" Set For October

I'll just cut out the clever opening here and just report the news. A new anthology book called The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs has been announced and will be hitting bookstores this October from Baen Books. The anthology is being edited by science fiction writer Mike Resnick and Bob Garcia and Resnick has posted the lineup on his official site http://mikeresnick.com/?p=1473 of the stories and writers, all of them new except for one, Resnick's own The Forgotten Sea of Mars, which was published in the 1960s and is finally getting republished. Here's the list as posted:
  • Introduction, by Mike Resnick and Bob Garcia
  • Tarzan and the Great War, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • The Fallen, by Mercedes Lackey
  • The Forgotten Sea of Mars, by Mike Resnick
  • Scorpion Men of Venus, by Richard Lupoff
  • Apache Lawman, by Ralph Roberts
  • Tarzan and the Martian Invaders, by Kevin J. Anderson and Sarah Hoyt
  • Moon Maid over Manhattan, by Peter David
  • The Two Billys, by Max Alan Collins and Matthew Clemens
  • To The Nearest Planet, by Todd McCaffrey
  • The Dead World, by F. Paul Wilson
  • Tarzan and The Land That Time Forgot, by Joe R. Lansdale
All in all it sounds like a good list of writers so we'll keep an eye on this and give more info when it becomes available.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

UPDATE: JJ Abrams To Direct Star Wars VII

I know but I was waiting for the official denial. After all Zack Snyder denied he was working on a Star Wars film. And Brad Bird said his super-secret 1952 wasn't a code for Episode VII (even though if today's speculation is anything it might involve Buck Rogers). But for the moment it appears that JJ Abrams will be heading to a galaxy far far away. You can check out the original report at the Wrap http://www.thewrap.com/movies/article/jj-abrams-set-direct-next-star-wars-film-exclusive-74596 and decide for yourself. Until the official confirmation or denial :-)

UPDATE: It is now official! Disney has released a press release announcing that JJ Abrams will be directing Episode VII based on a script by Michael Arndt. For the full press release read below:

J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars: Episode VII, the first of a new series of Star Wars films to come from Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy. Abrams will be directing and Academy Award-winning writer Michael Arndt will write the screenplay.

“It’s very exciting to have J.J. aboard leading the charge as we set off to make a new Star Wars movie,” said Kennedy. “J.J. is the perfect director to helm this. Beyond having such great instincts as a filmmaker, he has an intuitive understanding of this franchise. He understands the essence of the Star Wars experience, and will bring that talent to create an unforgettable motion picture.”
George Lucas went on to say “I’ve consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller. He’s an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn’t be in better hands.”

"To be a part of the next chapter of the Star Wars saga, to collaborate with Kathy Kennedy and this remarkable group of people, is an absolute honor,” J.J. Abrams said. “I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid."

J.J., his longtime producing partner Bryan Burk, and Bad Robot are on board to produce along with Kathleen Kennedy under the Disney | Lucasfilm banner.

Also consulting on the project are Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg. Kasdan has a long history with Lucasfilm, as screenwriter on The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. Kinberg was writer on Sherlock Holmes and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Abrams and his production company Bad Robot have a proven track record of blockbuster movies that feature complex action, heartfelt drama, iconic heroes and fantastic production values with such credits as Star Trek, Super 8, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, and this year’s Star Trek Into Darkness. Abrams has worked with Lucasfilm’s preeminent postproduction facilities, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, on all of the feature films he has directed, beginning with Mission: Impossible III. He also created or co-created such acclaimed television series as Felicity, Alias, Lost and Fringe.

Jane Alternate Cover Art

How's that for a cool piece of work? Our friends at The John Carter Files posted this alternate cover art for Robin Maxwell's Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan by artist Gregory Manchess and it captures the cool pulp look of the time period. Manchess also posted the evolution of his piece at http://muddycolors.blogspot.com/2013/01/painting-jane_23.html to head over there and take a peek.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

John Carter Wins IMP Poster Award

Hey, John Carter actually won something! In this case the Internet Movie Poster (or IMP) Awards voted it the "Best Special Edition" poster of 2012 for JC Richard's Mondo poster. The site commented that "Richard's wonderful artwork shows us the beauty and excitement of a new world, something that was missing from so many of the designs for this film. The focus should've been more on Mars and less on the title character. Here, we only get a glimpse of our hero, dwarfed by the great landscape before him." On the flip side the first teaser poster for the film (the one with Taylor Kitsch looking moody that someone stepped on his toes) was nominated for worst poster of the year but lost to Twilight-Breaking Dawn Part 2. For the rest of the winners check out http://www.impawards.com/2012/index.html (Thanks to Andy at Geeky Nerfherder for posting the link at his site).

Monday, January 21, 2013

Comic Review: Dejah Thoris #21

This week's Dejah adventure finds every one's favorite princess going undercover and making a shocking discovery. Isn't that usually what happens?

Barely escaping with their lives, Dejah and Gunbor return Xam Lin with news of what they saw: jars with Barsoomian brains in them! Xam suspects that the brains could possibly be those of missing women from the Avenue of Pleasure, Barsoom's answer to the Red Light District and that Mortus the assassin was behind the disappearances. When Dejah and Gunbor strike a deal with another rival guild leader, Rak Nar, Dejah hits the streets in an even more revealing costume to discover the truth. What she finds is (SPOILER ALERT) a mad scientist using the brains-and heads-of red men and women to create machine men to take over Barsoom. Oh and Mortus is an old enemy from the past-the Jeddak of Yorn, who survived his "death" with the Colossus and has devious plans for both Barsoom and Dejah.

OK. When you have an issue with a princess going undercover as a woman of the night, creepy looking robots with human heads and the reappearance of a thought dead villain you got a lot there to work through. I wrote in my review of the last issue that I enjoyed the opening chapter of this story arc, thinking it would lead to a cool story featuring Barsoom's underworld. Instead it's back to saving Barsoom from a power mad bad guy and a creepy scientist (then again has there ever been any noble scientists on Barsoom? Besides Movie Dejah?). I'll give the creative team credit, it reads fast and managed to maintain my interest until the end when they leave us with another cliffhanger. I know this may sound like faint praise but I guess after vampires and witches having machine men doesn't sound like much of a stretch and hey considering we had a flying machine controlled by mental abilties in Swords of Mars...

I'll repeat my usual praise for the artwork by Carlos Rafael-nice, bright and clear. Granted with his ponytail and Fu Manchustache the Jeddak of Yorn looks like the clone of Ming the Merciless but hey if you have to look like an evil monarch why not one of the best?
I admit this isn't the best review I've written. Chalk it up to still fighting a cold. But I'll give this issue a passing grade for now. We'll just have to wait and see what other out of left field curve balls they come up with.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Book Review: Tarzan-The Greystoke Legacy

I'm still recovering from the cold but I figured I better go ahead and post this since this review is a little late. So if there is typos blame the cold. Otherwise here's my review.

In this take on the legend, the story is updated to 21st century Africa and centers on the illegal logging industry that is decimating the rain forests. Among the loggers are Archie Porter, a former doctor trying to raise money after being chased out of the US by his ex-wife's debts and his friend Clark; Robbie Canler, a teenage runaway hoping to hide his past and create a new future for himself; and Jane, Archie's daughter, who finds herself dealing with both her father and being separated from her friends and former life. The logging operation is soon hit with acts of sabotage, leading Archie and Clark to wonder if the perpetrators are men of the rebel leader Tafari, who has a deal with them. But when Jane disappears following a massive explosion, she discovers the truth-Tarzan, a half-savage human who lives with the apes and is fighting to save them and their home. As she learns more about him, Jane begins to suspect that he is the lost heir to the Greystoke Estate and tries to convince him to return to society. But first they must overcome Tafari and save her father and Robbie from him and his cutthroat band.

I admit when I first heard about this book a few years back I was a little worried, if not skeptical. A 21st century spin on Tarzan written for the young adult market? Suddenly I began to fear that our favorite ape man was going to get watered down, or worse the Twilight treatment. A few positive reviews convinced me to try it but I had to wait since the book wasn't available in the US until last fall from publisher Open Road. With that I dove in and came away entertained but with some qualms.

First the good stuff. Author Andy Briggs shows both respect for Edgar Rice Burroughs' creation but also knows how to plot his story and keep it simple: Bad men enter Tarzan's domain, big mistake. The writing style is crisp and clear, benefiting the narrative of Tarzan trying to save his homeland and his "family" contrasted with Jane's attempts to come to terms with her father while trying to survive being lost in the jungle. Briggs also keeps the action moving quick and surprisingly violently (one of the major reasons reportedly it took a while to be published here). I wasn't expecting a scene of Tarzan sewing up a wound with ant heads but it's here in all of its gory glory.

Briggs also fleshes out the character of Robbie, a poor kid suffering from guilt over his past and his growing feelings for Jane. If there is one notable aspect is the lack of any romantic subplots in the book. Maybe there is in the sequels that Briggs has written but for now there is no sparks between the three leads, no Team Tarzan or Team Robbie so to speak.

I did mention a few qualms and here they are. While Briggs establishes Tarzan's back story as a descendant of Lord and Lady Greystoke he does rewrite Tarzan's education. There is mention of Paul D'Arnot finding and teaching Tarzan English but it isn't the verbose Tarzan of Burroughs. In fact it comes closer to Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan which I did find a little distracting. That said some of it was quite good and at least he gets to the point, especially when he says "Revenge at Tarzan's Hands!" Also I found the major villain Tafari sort of weak compared to classic Burroughs antagonists. Oh well you can't have La all the time.

Even with those qualms I found Tarzan: The Greystoke Legacy a fast-paced and entertaining take on the character that will probably appeal more to first time Tarzan readers rather than Burroughs die-hards. But if you have an open mind and don't mind it's an enjoyable book. Rating: *** out of 4.

Friday, January 18, 2013

John Carter's Score Makes Top 10 List

Sorry for the lack of news or anything. I've been fighting a bad cold and I am still under the weather. I did however finish reading Tarzan: The Greystoke Legacy so I'll have a review up soon. In this case though some good news for fans of John Carter: Michael Giacchino's score has been picked as the second best score of 2012 by "ScoreKeeper" at Aint It Cool News. I'll admit that Giacchino's music was one of the best things in the film, capturing the epic scope and emotion better than the actual film did. Plus it's nice to see the film receive something other than "worst of" lists. You can check out the rest of SK's picks at http://www.aintitcool.com/node/60393 (and thanks to frequent John Carter Files poster Pascalahad for the link).

Saturday, January 12, 2013

At the Earth's Core Extended Preview

A few months back I posted a trailer for a graphic novel adaptation from Dark Horse and Sequential Pulp Comics of At the Earth's Core that looked quite good. Well artist Jamie Chase has posted a new extended look at the book and you can check it out below. I hope we get to see more of these graphic novels coming soon (Sequential also has Tarzan at the Earth's Core in the works as well) but for now take a peek and let us know what you think.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Comic Review: Star Wars #1

Sorry for the lack of updates in the last few days, had to go back to work. But I'm back and so is the Rebel Alliance, the Galactic Empire...in short everyone you fell in love with in 1977.

Following the destruction of the Death Star, the Rebels are busy trying to find a new base. Leading a mission to the Dominus Sector, Princess Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles find themselves under attack from a Star Destroyer and forced to land and make repairs. Escaping back to the fleet, Leia finds herself with a new mission: to find a possible spy in their ranks since the appearance of the Destroyer during their mission was too coincidental. Meanwhile Han Solo and Chewbacca have left on their own assignment and Darth Vader finds himself on the wrong side of the Emperor over the destruction of the Death Star and failing to discover the pilot who blew it up. But Vader knows...

OK some admission time: my first exposure to Star Wars was not the original film but rather Marvel's comic book series. I got caught up in the adventures of Luke, Han and Leia thanks to the artists and writers who filled in the gaps of the movies. Much later I tried to get into Dark Horse's Expanded Universe but it got a little unwieldy for me. So when I heard that they were going to publish a new comic book series set after the events of the original film I was intrigued. Would it work? And would it be accessible to someone who hasn't read every comic book?

The answer to both questions is YES! Starting out with the Leia and Luke on their first mission together, writer Brian Wood shows a clear understanding of what made the original trilogy special, a sense of fun, mixed with cool characters and the galaxy-spanning setting. What's interesting is how he develops the characters here. The opening has a heartfelt back and forth between Luke and Leia over the losses they both have experienced personally and how that has led them to their current roles in the Rebel Alliance. Wood also a good job writing the action, with the opening dogfight and escape. Granted there wasn't enough Solo but I'm sure we'll see more of our favorite Nerf Herder later. We also get to see Vader's internal thoughts as he deals with his master and how it builds to what we see in the later movies.

For the artwork, Carlos D'Anda is handling duties and he brings both great designs, making them distinctive but close to the characters in the movie. Vader gets a nice, menacing look that in some panels incorporates Ralph McQuarrie's original concept design for the character while Luke and Leia may not resemble Mark Hamill or Carrie Fisher directly they still remind you of them. He also manages to bring a great scale to the opening action, showing off TIE fighters and X-Wings in action along with the scale of the Rebel Fleet and the Imperial Destroyers. Throw in great color work by Gabe Eltaeb and the book is both visually eye-catching and pleasing.

If you're a big Star Wars fan this is a no-brainer and if you just never got into the comics don't worry. This one brings enough memories back of the movies to make it easy and fun to get into. So pick it up, its worth the trip back to a galaxy far far away.

Monday, January 7, 2013

George Pal's John Carter of Mars?

I'll cut to the chase. I got the recent issue of Filmfax magazine, which has been running their own centennial celebration of  Edgar Rice Burroughs. Inside what caught my eye was a letter on the editor's page from reader Bob Statzer that mentioned that after Ray Harryhausen had passed on making a John Carter of Mars movie that producer George Pal (best remembered for his 1950s and 60s sci-fi classics like The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine) and stop motion artist Jim Danforth (who had worked with Pal) had approached MGM about making their own John Carter film. I had never heard this before so I did some Googling and found a discussion on the Classic Horror Film Board, http://monsterkidclassichorrorforum.yuku.com/topic/5363/JOHN-CARTER-OF-MARS?page=4 that mentioned that Danforth had created 16 mm test footage for the project. Has anyone ever seen this footage or heard anything else about this project? It provides an intriguing footnote to the history of John Carter on film and it might be worth seeing investigated.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Tarzan 3D: New AFM Poster

Another case of falling asleep on the job. While there hasn't been much news about either project, a new poster for Constantin Films' motion capture Tarzan was shown at the American Film Market Expo back in October. Some nice scenery and at the bottom a "Summer 2013" release date so we should be seeing more in the upcoming months.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Comic Review: Dejah Thoris #20

This week's comic review comes a little early as Dejah returns to Barsoom and a deadly adversary.

Having saved her home world from the Vathek, Dejah finds that Helium is now facing a new enemy: Mortus, the leader of a new assassins guild who is wrecking havoc. When a friend is killed while undercover Dejah volunteers to accompany master spy Gunbor to Zodanga and try to find and stop him, only to be told her place is with her people. Well that hasn't stopped her yet, so she stows away on Gunbor's ship and poses as his slave as the two infiltrate Zodanga's seamy underworld. When they are given a test by crime lord Xam Lin to go to a building he suspects Mortus of using, Dejah and Gunbor find themselves staring down a ticking time bomb ready to explode...

Following the last two story arcs I was ready for a less supernatural Dejah Thoris story and thankfully writer Robert Napton has delivered. In fact this might be the best storyline to date as it digs into the same territory that Edgar Rice Burroughs himself explored in Swords of Mars, Barsoom's world of hired killers, criminal activity and deadly assassins. In fact the story mirrors Swords in several ways, from Dejah using an alias to Mortus leaving a mark on his victims the same way John Carter did to Dejah and Gunbor having to earn the trust of the head of the assassin guild. Fans of ERB will I think enjoy the references and the turns the story takes.

This issue also marks the return of Carlos Rafael, once again providing a vibrant and lively look to the series. Yes Dejah has returned to her more voluptuous look from before while Rafael gives some distinctive backgrounds and looks to the various characters here, from the portly Xam Lin to the bald and one-eyed disguise Gunbor takes. The backgrounds don't pop but they are nicely rendered, showing a more subdued tone that fits the story being told.

For those who have dismissed the series after the last few arcs this one is a winner, a fun and lively return back to swashbuckling and dangerous Barsoom many fell in love with. Throw in some nice covers from Paul Renoud and Fabiano Neves and it's a no-brainer. Pick this one up!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Gods of Mars: 100 Years Later

I hope you're having a great New Year's Day. While we bid farewell to 2012, let's begin by paying tribute to one of the best.

This month marks the 100th anniversary of The Gods of Mars and its first appearance in All-Story magazine. I've already written about this book before and I'll admit that my opinions about it have changed. Before I thought it was a little overcrowded but the last time I read it just before John Carter came out I realized I was wrong. In fact I'll say now it's probably my favorite of the entire series, thanks to a combination of great action sequences and a smart and unique look at the way societies build up false prophets that speaks volumes about the time Burroughs wrote it and even now. Plus it had John Carter doing what he does best: showing his chivalry and his leadership skills (even if he does forget how many days are in a Barsoomain year). Throw in some of Burroughs' creepiest creations in the Plant Men, a hot seductive femme fatale in Phaidor and a cliffhanging ending that makes you want to read the next chapter immediately and you got a classic tale. To celebrate here's some trivia on the history of the book courtesy of ERBZine and yes even Wikipedia so if I get something wrong let me know. Otherwise he's some info on The Gods of Mars.
  • According to Irwin Porges' exhaustive biography, All-Story editor Thomas Metcalf suggested to Burroughs a sequel to be set in the Valley Dor at the end of the River Iss that was hinted at in Under the Moons of Mars.
  • Burroughs began writing his new tale on July 14, 1912 and delivered it a month before All-Story published Tarzan of the Apes.
  • One suggestion that Burroughs didn't use from Metcalf was to kill off Dejah Thoris. Burroughs admitted he couldn't bring himself to do it.
  • Despite having huge sales with Under the Moons of Mars and Tarzan of the Apes, All-Story did not place The Gods of Mars on the covers of the five issues that it appeared in.
  • The completed tale was finally published in book form five years later with cover art by Frank Schoonover.
  • Burroughs was paid $750 for the story rights, almost twice what he was paid for his first story.
  • Elric of Melnibone creator and sci-fi legend Michael Moorcock has stated that The Gods of Mars was one of three books that inspired him to become a writer.
  • The first comic book adaptation appeared in 1952 as part of the Four Color Comics series, written by Paul S. Newman and drawn by Jesse Marsh. Later comic book versions were DC's Weird Worlds adaptation and recently Dynamite's Warlord of Mars series and Marvel's limited John Carter: The Gods of Mars series.
  • To check out more artwork inspired by Gods of Mars check out http://www.erbzine.com/mag4/0423.html

Dejah Thoris Sideshow Statue Revealed

Some Barsoom news from San Diego Comic-Con for you guys. Sideshow Collectibles has released first images of a Dejah Thoris statue for fan...