Thursday, February 28, 2013

John Carter "Challenges of Adapting"


Some more video fun. In this case I uploaded a brief video from Disney's web site briefly talking about the work to adapt Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel. Of course you can decide how good or bad they did while watching this. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Jungle Tales of Tarzan" Goes Graphic Novel


Some more comic book goodness for Burroughs and Tarzan fans. In this case Sequential Pulp Comics and Dark Horse has announced an upcoming graphic novel adaptation of Jungle Tales of Tarzan written by Martin Powell (who is also writing Sequential's At the Earth's Core graphic novel) and artwork by a diverse line-up of artists. The list is posted along with the announcement at Mr. Powell's blog http://martinpowell221bcom.blogspot.com/2013/02/jungle-tales-of-tarzan-graphic-novel.html so go there for more info.

Monday, February 25, 2013

John Carter "Populating Mars" Featurette


Some video fun to kick off the weak. With it being a year since John Carter (or Whiny Kitsch and the Shape Shifters of Confusing Doom!) came out we'll be taking a look back at this film,both good (More Lynn Collins!) and bad (The Rest!). In this case here is a featurette that originally was only available on a bonus disc from Best Buy for those who bought the 4-Disc 3D Blu-Ray version that takes a look at the special FX. So take a peek and enjoy.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Comic Review: Dejah Thoris & the Green Men #1


Dejah! Green Men! OK?

Picking up some time after A Princess of Mars, Dejah Thoris is coming to terms with the peace between Helium and the Tharks but still remembering-and being haunted-by the past atrocities that the Tharks inflicted on her people. After expressing her concerns to John Carter, Dejah agrees to take a pre-celebration appearance with a Thark named Voro to show solidarity. When he suggests that take a drink though things go really wrong as Dejah is abducted and discovers that Voro has decided to sell her to other Tharks. But the worst thing? She's to be sold piece by piece as Tharks have a taste for red man flesh and that a princess demands a high price.

Following up the horror story infused Dejah Thoris and the White Apes of Mars, which I enjoyed, writer Mark Rahner tackles another horror subject-cannibalism-with a rather grisly story that starts off rather unpleasantly with Dejah flashing back to her own torment at the Tharks, from being branded to other humiliations that gets this opening issue off to a uncomfortable start that is rather off putting. Once that moves on though I felt that Green Men of Mars does pick up with Dejah showing her strength against her abductors and the horrifying fate she is facing. I just feel that this will split most readers down the line so you might want to prepare yourself, especially if you only know Tharks from Andrew Stanton's comedy versions.

For the series artwork we have Lui Antonio returning with his rather curvy Dejah sporting even less than usual. If you have issues with a well stacked Dejah you need to check out now. That said Antonio delivers some good monster moments with the Tharks, who come across even more repulsive than in previous Dynamite versions and manages to keep the artwork consistent so that gets a good check.

In short, the first issue of Dejah Thoris and the Green Men of Mars is a really mixed bag. The unpleasant opening may be necessary but I still felt it was too far in that respect. I hope that the next issue manages to find a more subtle balance to the horror elements. Also is it just me but does the Dejah on the cover look like Milla Jovavich? Just leave your thoughts and let me know if I am being too squeamish.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

John Carter Nabs Saturn and Nebula Nods


So the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences ignored it but the Academy of Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film didn't. John Carter has landed a nomination for the 39th Saturn Awards for Best Visual Effects, facing off against The Avengers, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Life of Pi, Snow White and the Huntsman and Taylor Kitsch's other 2012 alien flick Battleship. Congrats to the FX nominees and you can check out the complete nominee lists at http://www.saturnawards.org/nominations.html

UPDATE: Another nod! In this case the 48th Nebula Awards have nominated John Carter for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation of 2012. You can check out the other nominees at http://www.sfwa.org/2013/02/2012-nebula-awards-nominees-announced/ 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Comic Review: Star Wars #2


This week’s other comic review has that other princess facing some tough decisions. That and some action and intrigue on top of it.

Here the issue is divided into three parts. The first finds everyone’s favorite scruffy looking Nerf Herder and his walking carpet sidekick on a secret mission when they run into that famous bounty hunter…you know the one. Meanwhile Princess Leia, still grieving over the loss of Alderaan, begins assembling a team to investigate how the Empire keeps showing up during scouting missions to find a new Rebel Base. The third part introduces the Colonel Bircher, an Imperial officer who has taken control of the Star Destroyer Devastator from the departing Darth Vader. Eventually Leia gets her team together and Han and Chewie manage to evade Fett and reach their destination-in the heart of the capital of the Empire!

Following up a strong first issue, writer Brian Wood continues to show he knows his way around George Lucas’ galaxy. Combining the same breakneck pace of the first trilogy along with some quieter moments, Wood manages to give the story a fresh approach while remaining faithful to the characters. Plus we get Slave 1 and more Han and Chewie so I’m pleased.

Also deserving high praise is artist Carlos D’Anda, who brings the look and feel of the movies to the comics with a deft hand. He manages to make his characters come alive and capture the action sequences with thrilling colors by Gabe Eltaeb and some cool angles. From the Millennium Falcon’s escape at the beginning to the simulator battle Luke and Wedge have the artwork just crackles.

If you haven’t picked up this issue or started yet I recommend that you do. It brings Star Wars back with the same fun and excitement that the original trilogy-and hopefully Episode VII will-have. In other words, the Force is strong here.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Comic Review: Dejah Thoris #22


This week's adventure finds machine men, a wild melee and a princess strapped to a table. What more do you want?

Now a prisoner of the very much alive-and half robotic-former Jeddak of Yorn, Dejah is about to suffer the same fate when luck intervenes. Or in this case assassins from the rival guilds of Xam Lin and Rak Nor, both of who have followed Dejah and poor Gunbor to the location. Soon there is a massive chaos as Yorn has his machine men attack, Dejah escapes from being turned into a machine and Gunbor rediscovers his Barsoomanity.

I have to admit this was a rather speedy wrap up for this story line. I liked the first issue since it was a return to the criminal underworld of Barsoom but when it turned into robot men it seemed to take a left turn. I guess considering some of the past story lines in this series it should be expected. Still the combo of Robert Napton and Carlos Rafael does a good job wrapping it up. Here's some things to look for though:
  • Cyborgs have internal organs. Gross and cool!
  • When she was strapped to the table with a laser edging towards her head Dejah should have responded "You expect to me to talk?" You can fill in the rest.
  • Assassins really HATE each other but are willing to work together to eliminate the competition. I guess keep your friends close and your enemies really closer.
  • Dejah ends up back in her regular outfit. You know the one.
So while not the ending I thought would happen it still delivers the standard action and weird turns this series is exceeding at. Hey it's a hot princess saving a planet, what can I say?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

John Carter and Dejah Thoris:A Love Story


“Yes, I was a fool, but I was in love, and though I was suffering the greatest misery I had ever known I would not have had it otherwise for all the riches of Barsoom. Such is love, and such are lovers wherever love is known.”

Happy early Valentine's Day folks! With the most romantic day of the year upon us let's take a moment to look at one of the most enduring love stories in fantasy and science fiction: Captain John Carter of Virginia and Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium.

As much as the cool monsters, big battles, bloody sword fights and scantly clad inhabitants seem to get the most attention, it is easy to forget that at its heart A Princess of Mars and its first two sequels are love stories. Its that love for Dejah that drives Carter to pursue his goal of returning her safely to her people but also his willingness to risk his life, to lay down his sword for her. After all how many men do you know ready to bring down mountains, Tharks and Therns just to prove his heart to a woman?

In the recent years I've been running this blog and conversing with fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, I have discovered more and more female fans of Burroughs than I previously thought and it seems what draws them to it is the romance, of a man with chivalry fighting for a woman with dignity. Before sci-fi didn't have much romance, as Jules Verne and HG Wells didn't seem interested in that. Maybe they thought it was two separate genres, romance and sci-fi. Or maybe Burroughs was ahead of his time in making sure to appeal to both genders. There is a sense of devotion to Dejah that Carter expresses that is rare for a pulp hero, especially compared to Robert E. Howard's Conan or Doc Savage, who always felt that love was not something for him.

I know that one of the major failings for me with the John Carter movie-among many-was that the love story got the short end of the stick, so to speak. With Carter rewritten as a sullen widower more obsessed with his cave of gold and Dejah too interested in her 9th Ray quest, a large percentage of the film was taken up with them bickering, deceiving or Carter telling her it's not his problem. Now this could have been worked on for a sequel (after all Han and Leia didn't really get romantic until The Empire Strikes Back) but it was clear that Andrew Stanton and company didn't get the appeal or the heart of the story. It wasn't about evil shape shifting Therns trying to control Barsoom. It was about...well let's give Captain Carter the last word:

"it was love, love for Dejah Thoris, a power that would work greater miracles than this you have seen.”


Or to quote another person: All you need is love. So have a happy Valentine's Day and find the romance.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Tarzan At 100 Video


OK for those who have some time to fill. A cool video has surfacted on Youtube from an appearance at the Larry Edmunds Book Shop in Hollywood by Scott Tracy Griffin, who was there promoting his recent Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration. The hour long video has Griffin discussing his love of Tarzan, his work on the book and the history of Edgar Rice Burroughs and his creation so take a look and if you haven't got his book yet, do so.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Comic Review: Lord of the Jungle 11-12




Normally I don't like doing two comic reviews at once but I figured this would catch us up. So here's two Tarzan tales for the price of one! (Or at least one review).

Issue 11 (subtitled "Gorilla Warfare" kicks off with the arrival of Jane Porter, Cecil Clayton and their small party on the African coast, near the cabin of Tarzan's parents. Their plans for a peaceful expedition though are cancelled when another member of their party, Mr. Thuran, kidnaps Jane and Cecil and begins a forced march to the African interior. Meanwhile Tarzan has found the Waziri tribe and discovers they have their own problems-men of Belgium King Leopold II, who wants the land to cultivate rubber trees. When the Waziri village is captured and the king and queen are killed, its up to Tarzan and Waziri warrior Busuli to save the day...

Which leads to issue 12, "Treasure Vaults of Opar!" Here Tarzan and the Waziri find the fabled lost city. They also find the vicious inhabitants, ape-like men who capture Tarzan for sacrifice. Lucky for him-and those who like to ogle hot high priestesses-he's rescued by La, who allows him to escape. While that's going on, Jane discovers her abductors are Russian spy Nickolas Rockoff and his associate Paulvitch, who are now racing to Opar when they hear word of a tribe and the white savage leading them...

With these two issues, Arvid Nelson and artist Roberto Castro up the ante and deliver a great Tarzan adventure. On the one hand they stick pretty close to The Return of Tarzan with Tarzan's adventures with the Waziri and in Opar while at the same time combining Rockoff's part and involving Jane in the story more than just a shipwreck survivor. I know I can com across as a stickler for being faithful but the elimination of much of the various subplots and characters help makes this story lean and mean while remaining true to Burroughs and his creation.

And yes Castro draws a hot La. Maybe when he gets done here someone can get him into Dynamite's Warlord of Mars series.

So if you missed these two issues and you're a Tarzan fan you need to catch up. Both deliver a rousing adventure story that fans of Burroughs and old school pulp storytelling will eat up!

Friday, February 8, 2013

John Carter Score Lands Two Nominations


This is a little late but here it is. Composer Michael Giacchino's score for John Carter has been nominated for two awards from the International Film Music Critics Association in the catergories of Best Score for a Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror Film and Best Film Music Composition of the Year for the track "John Carter of Mars." For those who want to give that track a listen check out the Youtube Embed below and congrats to Mr. Giacchino. The rest of the nominees are listed at http://filmmusiccritics.org/2013/02/ifmca-nominations-2012/

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Book Review: Tarzan and the Castaways


I'm still working on Tarzan on Mars but I thought I would go ahead and post this review for the last Tarzan book I read.

Published in 1965 by Canaveral Press, Tarzan and the Castaways collects a 100 page+ novella and two short stories that had not been collected before. While that's good for the collector the stories themselves leave a little to be desired as they were penned after several uneven Tarzan novels. So those approaching this hoping for Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar or Tarzan and the Ant Men will be disappointed.

The first story originally appeared under the title "The Quest of Tarzan" but was later renamed to avoid confusion with Tarzan's Quest. In this story Tarzan finds himself a prisoner of a mad arab and a German, Fritz Krause, who plans to put the Ape Man on display as a savage and are sailing to the US on board the ship the Saigon. Oh and he's lost the ability to speak since he got bonked on the head (the two common enemies of Tarzan-head injuries and the inability to balance a check book!). There's also a stock Commie, the passengers and rescued crew of a British ship that believes Tarzan ate the captain and a deserted island inhabited my sacrifice happy Mayans. So in short if you've ever read an earlier Tarzan novel it's pretty much the standard tale, with some humor spicing up the tale. All in all not a bad tale but not that memorable either.

The second tale "Tarzan and the Champion" finds Tarzan trading blows with "One-Punch" Mullargan, the new Worldwide Boxing Champion and his manager Joey Marks. After the last big match, "One-Punch" decides to head to Africa (Disneyland not being invented yet) for R and R when his plans to shot animals brings him face to face with Tarzan and some cannibals. The story is pretty much a one note affair that suffers from Mullargan and Marks failing to develop beyond comic stereotypes.

The final story is "Tarzan and the Jungle Murders" where Tarzan plays Sherlock Holmes and investigates a murder and two crashed planes. Eventually it leads to international espionage and a safari. The weakest of the three it fails on the most basic level of any great detective story-there is no suspense. Reportedly Burroughs thought this would be a new path for Tarzan to pursue but as great a writer as Burroughs was he wasn't Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie.

In short, Tarzan and the Castaways is mostly just for ERB die-hards. If you want to start out with Tarzan I would suggest sticking with the earlier books. Rating: **1/2 out of 4.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Tarzan on Mars: A Brief History


Sorry about the long lack of updates. Work, the weather, a few computer problems and some back up on reading has led to this. Hopefully I can get caught back up here (and yes I will catch up on Dynamite's Lord of the Jungle series with issues 11 and 12 soon). With that out of the way...

With the recent announcement of The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs and more recent novels and anthologies like Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan and Under the Moons of Mars: New Adventures on Barsoom I became interested in the first attempt to continue ERB's legacy on the printed page. That book was Tarzan on Mars and it's story is an interesting one.

The man behind the project was Amazing Stories editor Ray Palmer, who decided that Burroughs' characters needed a new writer to carry on their adventures. Having worked with Burroughs himself in the pages of Amazing Stories (including the last John Carter of Mars story, Skeleton Men of Jupiter), Palmer hired writer Stuart J. Bryne to write a new novel. Under the pen name John Bloodstone, Byrne wrote out a novel that found Lord Greystoke heading to Barsoom to rescue both Jane Clayton and La. But while the book was written with plans for further novels it was cancelled following legal action from the Burroughs estate. For a long time the book was a mere footnote, an urban legend that few had read or had seen. (I said it was a brief history didn't I?)

However thanks to ERBZine the book is available in PDF format http://www.erbzine.com/mag19/novel/Tarzan_On_Mars.pdf along with a more longer history of its origins http://www.erbzine.com/mag19/1930.html. I've been reading it for a while now and well it's interesting if not wholly successful. Or to put it another way, Bryne/Bloodstone is not Edgar Rice Burroughs with the setup intriguing but taking a long time to get up and running. But I'll finish it soon enough and post my complete thoughts then.

The idea of Tarzan going to Barsoom has been explored later on, most notably in the Tarzan comic strip in the mid-1990s and Dark Horse's Tarzan/John Carter Warlords of Mars limited comic book series. Even one of the upcoming stories announced for the Worlds anthology is "Tarzan and the Martian Invaders" so there seems to be a desire to see this particular story told. So we'll see if another writer tackles this in the future. Until next time and I promise I'll get those reviews up soon!