Friday, October 31, 2014

Taylor Kitsch Does 'Advanced Warfare'


Well the trailer anyway. The former John Carter shows off his action skills in this trailer for the next Call of Duty video game courtesy of director Peter Berg (who worked with Kitsch on Friday Night Lights and Battleship). The funny thing is it has the Kitsch that could have pulled off John Carter, not the Mopey one we got. Take a peek and try not to kiss the goat.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Retro Comics: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #4


Telepathic lizard creatures who eat people is the least of John Carter's problems in this issue as we join the "Raiding Party!"

With Dejah still a prisoner and that obedience collar around his neck, Carter has become a reluctant crew member of Stara Kan's pirate fleet, pillaging the towns of Barsoom, leading Carter to be branded a traitor to Helium and even suspected in Dejah's kidnapping. Carter struggles to overcome his captors but in their last raid they meet something that forces Carter to rescue the man he hates-T'Rallaa, a mutant creature from another world who has one thing on his mind.

Working back from last issue's unintentional lapse into camp, Marv Wolfman quickly corrects the ship and recaptures the magic of the first two issues, at least until T'Rallaa shows up. Setting up Carter as a potential traitor is an interesting plot point as well as his working with his own worst enemy, since both are elements that Burroughs himself used in The Gods of Mars and Swords of Mars. The idea of Carter also having to save Stara Kan because he doesn't want to lose Dejah add some needed suspense and a sense of the character's true heart (you get the feeling the movie Carter would have just shrugged his shoulders and said "it's not my problem. Where's my gold?) That said the telepathic hungry lizard creature seems like he escaped from Marvel's Godzilla, King of the Monsters series (which was being published around the same time) and just provides a "what the?" moment that the issue barely recovers from. Still it's near the end and thankfully we don't have to endure a long multi-issue story arc for it.

Sounding like a broken record, another thumbs for Gil Kane and Rudy Nebres' artwork. I can't wait to see Dynamite's Art of book since this is work to be pored over and admired.

So with the promise of "John Carter and Stara Kan Fight to the Death!" in the next issue we'll be back then. Until next time Kaor!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

John Hurt Joins 'Tarzan'


Just the news: the cast of David Yates' Tarzan has grown with the confirmation that John Hurt has joined the cast. In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Hurt talked about his involvement with the film and that he helped get the project off the ground, commenting "I don't do a great deal in it - but it was sort of part and parcel of getting the film green-lit." For more hit http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/entertainment/film-tv/news/john-hurt-swings-to-tarzan-rescue-30693615.html.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Retro Comics: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #3


While we wait to see how the Back to Barsoomers spin that $306.6 million figure, let's continue with the much less expensive retro adventures of John Carter. In this issue, chained up heroes, obedience collars and a guy wanting to be called Master. Wait is this suddenly 50 Shades of Barsoom?

When we last left our hero, Carter had been knocked unconscious following his fight with the white apes and captured along with Dejah by the villainous Stara Kan. Finding himself chained up, Carter first struggles to break his chains, eventually doing so (I guess it wasn't that admantium metal Mopey Carter had trouble with). But a hungry banth causes problems before he escapes his cell and confronts Kan, who has his own back story-he was a soldier in the Zodangan army who lost his arm when Carter and the Tharks invaded in A Princess of Mars-and is a member of the "Council of Five." He also demands to be called Master and spend the rest of the issue beating Carter until he submits due to that obedience collar Carter has around his neck.

Diving into this issue, the first thing that grabs the reader is the opening, which is handled with suspense and a sense of dread for both Carter and Dejah's fates. Only afterwards when we get to the "slap Carter around" scenes did it become silly and unintentionally hilarious. I'm sure Marv Wolfman was just trying to create a formidable antagonist for John Carter but Stara Kan's constant "call me Master" routine becomes over the top and silly. Also looking at it from a cynical 21st century point of view you can't help but laugh at the whole thing, A half dressed guy being slapped around in an obedience collar? Did no one think back in 1977 how that sounded?

Gil Kane returns to handle art duties, this time teamed with Rudy Nebres and together they handle the demands quite well, from the rather ferocious looking banth to Kan and Carter's "fight" it continues the high art standards set by the first two issues.

So faithful reader we wait and see what happens next. Will Carter rescue Dejah and defeat Stara Kan and the Council of Five? Will he get that collar off? We'll find out next issue.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

'John Carter' Real Costs Revealed?


While we look towards the future of John Carter of Mars, Forbes went back and revealed that Andrew Stanton's movie cost more than you thought, A lot more. According to http://www.forbes.com/sites/csylt/2014/10/22/revealed-the-307-million-cost-of-disneys-john-carter/ the actual production costs of John Carter ran up to a whopping $306.6 million. That's right, $306.6 million. Disney was able to recoup some of that through British tax credit to the tune of $42.9 million, meaning that the net costs still ended up around $264 million, more than the reported $250 million budget that has been reported since 2012. In case your curious that makes it the third most expensive movie Disney has ever produced behind the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean and the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron. OK the real question is what the heck cost so much? If anyone has any idea leave them below and hope that the next time someone knows how to balance a checkbook and can get better tax rebates.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Opinion Time: The Future of John Carter of Mars


Well here we are. With the press now reporting on the return of the rights to Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc., the question now comes up. What next? Some of the sites are suggesting that a sequel is in the works, even though no such announcement has been made and there might be a good reason for that...it might be difficult to do one. And for some fans that's good news since a new take on John Carter, Dejah Thoris and the denizens of Barsoom might deliver what Andrew Stanton and his team could not-a faithful, adventurous take on Burroughs and his creation. So let's take a look at the possibilities of what lies ahead for the gentleman from Virginia and his incomparable princess.

MOVIES: At this point one thing probably needs to be made clear: I do not want a sequel to Stanton's movie. It failed to capture anything from Burroughs, even the tone or essence that some of the movie's defenders claims it captured when defending how poor it was as an adaptation. But also a sequel might be out of the question anyway. First what studio will bankroll a sequel to one of the biggest financial flops in film history? The Back to Barsoomers can whine over and over about Disney's poor marketing, the mean critics and some evil 3 Days of the Condor like conspiracy to have it fail but make no mistake, studio chiefs are only interested in the bottom line and the line is that John Carter lost money, big money. If ERB Inc. makes a deal for a new John Carter of Mars movie a studio more than likely will demand it be a reboot or even an adaptation of one of the other books, not a direct sequel. Also can a sequel even be continued without Disney? One thing that has popped up in some discussions is the case of copyright, or rather trademark rights. A few years back Warner Bros. filed several trademark patents over the ownership of the 1939 The Wizard of Oz that stated while the L. Frank Baum books are in public domain, elements from their film was not. That included designs of the characters and sets, specific changes made to the story (i.e. the ruby slippers and the "it was all a dream" ending) and so on. Disney would most likely claim that their version is trademarked and unless a studio is willing to pay them, not available. In short no more Shape Shifter Shang, no more Mopey Carter, no more butt ugly tatts or moving cities or any other change Stanton and his cronies did to their version. With that it means one thing only-reboot and even then that could take time as the memory of this version needs to fade from view and support for a new take surfaces. It may be time for ERB fans to move in that direction and stop supporting the Stanton oriented Back to Barsoom movement since the important thing is getting a new John Carter of Mars movie, not who is directing it.

TELEVISION: In their press release, ERB Inc. mentioned they had also acquired television rights back. I would say now at this point this might be the best option for ERB to pursue since it might mean a more open and receptive audience. Many have suggested HBO or Showtime as a possibility and honestly I can see either one being able to take on the series and making a home run with it. HBO has taken risks before with shows ranging from The Sopranos to Game of Thrones as well as being unafraid to make series that won't appeal to everyone. One of the many faults of the movie was Stanton's idea that his movie needed to appeal to everyone and the end result was too many changes and a failure to appeal to both die-hard ERB fans and general audiences (not those mythical audiences the Back to Barsoomers claim exists). Showtime meanwhile has also taken on offbeat shows (Dexter, Masters of Sex, Penny Dreadful and their upcoming return to Twin Peaks), so they could be a good choice to take on John Carter and company. Throw in the fact that they won't have to bend to studio dictates, ratings and the need to appeal to every age group and this could be the best bet. Another possibility is animation, which would be an interesting avenue to pursue. Finding an animation house to take it could be problematic (and you got to figure that Disney's animation departments is out of the question) but it could offer up a version for younger viewers, especially if they want to cultivate an audience for a potential new movie.

MERCHANDISE: One area that has received no discussion was the mention that they had gotten back merchandising rights. One thing notably absent from the Disney film was merchandise, so now it opens the doors for action figures, etc. But one area that might be open will be new stories and books. In a brief introduction in last year's Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs, it was mentioned that contractual obligations had prevented a new Barsoom story to be included, resulting in the inclusion of Michael Resnick's previously published The Forgotten Sea of Mars. Now with the rights back ERB could follow up their officially sanctioned Tarzan pastiches with new tales of Barsoom from different writers. The could even follow the templates they did before with a series aimed at younger readers, a retelling of A Princess of Mars from Dejah Thoris' point of view (similar to Robin Maxwell's Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan) and even new adventures. Given how many writers in the science fiction and fantasy genre had admitted to being inspired and influenced by Burroughs and his work I'm sure they will be able to find some ready and eager to jump in and take the challenge.

In fact getting the rights back has opened an exciting new door for fans and ERB Inc. With endless possibilities anything could happen. As long as it doesn't mean more Mopey. If you have any suggestions or ideas where they should go leave your thoughts below.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Retro Comics: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #2


Yesterday's surprise announcement bumped this to today so without further ado, John Carter vs. "the savage WHITE APES OF MARS!"

Following his rescue of Dejah and Tars Tarkas, Carter captures a fleeing red man who he feels might have the secret to the events surrounding Dejah's kidnapping and the Warhoons. Bringing him back to Helium, the prisoner remains silent and is jailed at the request of Carter until he can get the truth out of him. However the prisoner has his own surprise and escapes, leading Carter and Tars into a trap involving those deadly apes. Also Dejah follows, putting Carter into a situation of fighting to save the woman he loves, leading to an ending that leaves our hero at the mercy of the escaped prisoner.

Picking up right where the first issue left off, "From the Shadows...Stara-Kan!" continues what made the first issue work-breathless action, interesting plot twists and a nice balance to the characters, all wrapped up in Marv Wolfman's effective storytelling. Granted this issue you do need to take some leaps of faith-like the fact that the prisoner has more in common with The Six Million Dollar Man than anything Edgar Rice Burroughs created, so be prepared. We also visit the one room Burroughs never took us to on Barsoom-Carter and Dejah's boudoir! And no Dejah, you haven't "lost the charm to lure you away from such worries?"

After collaborating with Dave Cockrum on the first issue, Gil Kane goes solo on the artwork here and it's still eye-catching, vivid and nicely rendered, from the backgrounds to the apes, Kane captures Barsoom with a great eye. He also balances the action sequences with flair and captures' Dejah's "charm" in a romantic and beautiful way. Fans will want to see this just for Kane's work alone.

So with Carter now at the mercy of his enemy what will happen next? Stay tuned and we'll see.

Monday, October 20, 2014

ERB Inc Recovers John Carter of Mars


Well it looks like one nightmare is over. In a press release ERB Inc, has announced that the "movie, television and merchandise rights" to John Carter of Mars has reverted back to them from Disney. What does that mean? Well according to ERB President Jim Sullos:

“Edgar Rice Burroughs was the Master of Adventure and his literary works continue to enjoy a world-wide following. We will be seeking a new partner to help develop new adventures on film as chronicled in the eleven Mars novels Burroughs wrote. This adventure never stops. Along with a new TARZAN film in development by Warner Bros., we hope to have JOHN CARTER OF MARS become another major franchise to entertain world-wide audiences of all ages.”

So the question now remains, what next? A sequel to Andrew Stanton's misfire, a reboot or even a potential live-action or animated television series? Let's just hope it won't be another studio that doesn't respect the history or influence of Burroughs and a director who at least reads the books, not constantly badmouths them. For more check out http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/10/prweb12253636.htm

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Comic Review: Flash Gordon #6


Hawkmen, Hawkwomen and a "virile" Zarkov. Yeah things just got weird.

Now in the hands of two Hawkmen, Dale is reluctant to give up the Gatestone Crystal that allows travel through Mongo. Instead she tells them that Flash and Zarkov have it and since they've been captured by "Dirt Eaters" (as the Hawkmen call them for reasons that become obvious), they help Dale rescue her male comrades from that "fate worse than death" usually reserved for the heroines (what is this Flesh Gordon?). Once that's done and they've saved Flash and Zarkov from the danger of constant boinking, they escape their captors only to have the big bird himself arrive-Vultan! But let's just say he isn't much help either...

Yep just another day for Flash Gordon.

So far I've liked this series and this issue has the same ingredients-adventure, quips and bizarre turns towards comedy (seriously who knew Zarkov was such a stud to the ladies), twists and the usual out of nowhere plot turns. I get the feeling writer Jeff Parker is having fun with the characters and it comes through nicely, even though some might be turned off by the humor or camp that peeks through.

As usual a nice A plus to Evan Shaner and Jordie Bellaire for the art and colors that make the book nice and eye catching. Bellaire also contributed to a second story that shows a side of Ming that we usually don't see-or do but played differently.

Flash Gordon fans will know to pick it up and if you haven't do yourself a favor and give it a chance. Until next time inhabitants of Mongo.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Retro Comics: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #1


A long time back (before the dark times. Before bad Disney marketing, Andrew Stanton's Mopey Carter and Back to Barsoomers walked the Earth), I reviewed the entire run of Marvel's original John Carter, Warlord of Mars series, rather badly since I did it in groups instead of single issues. Well with Dynamite's upcoming relaunch of the series in a few weeks I thought it was time to do it right and start one issue at a time. If I finish this remains to be seen but for now, get ready for "The Air-Pirates of Mars, Chapter 1."

The story kicks off already in progress as Dejah Thoris has been abducted and John Carter is in hot pursuit of her kidnappers. Rather quickly he finds them, a group of Warhoons, who he makes short work of. While that is going on Carter flashes back to how he came to Barsoom and his first meetings with the Tharks and Dejah. Eventually he finds Dejah and old pal Tars Tarkas, who warns that Barsoom will soon face "a deadly peril" and a plot to destroy all life of Barsoom-FOREVER!

Looking back at this first issue I admit to misjudging it. In fact this might be one of the best Barsoom comics ever as writer Marv Wolfman manages to capture the old ERB magic from page one. Dropping us in the middle of the story might throw some readers but for those familiar with the tales of John Carter it's an amazing fast paced tale that skillfully weaves Carter's back story with the action without bringing it to a dead halt. Also this is John Carter, from his jumping into danger to his devotion to Dejah, this is the character that Burroughs created in a good form without any excess baggage. Some I'm sure will say the characters are even more one-dimensional than their literary counterparts, but considering it's the first issue it does the job well (and without Stantonizing them!)

Helping is the artwork by Gil Kane and Dave Cockrum that manages to bring Carter and company to life. There isn't much in the way of the epic battles we know from the books or later comics but the two artists manage to create a compelling look for Barsoom and handle the action sequences well. Throw in some nasty looking Warhoons, a beautiful and realistic Dejah (no implants here) and rousing color work and you got a great vision of Barsoom that may not suit everyone but it will catch the eye and keep you glued from start to finish.

It will be interesting to see if the energy can be maintained as I delve into the remaining 28 issues (and three annuals) but for now this take is classic and worth it for fans of ERB and the movie. Until next time folks.

Monday, October 13, 2014

'Guardians of the Galaxy' The Series Teaser


For a movie that mere months ago cynics were predicting financial doom for, it seems to have done quire well. Well enough to spawn an animated series that will hit Disney XD next year and here is the first test footage from it courtesy of Marvel and the New York Comic-Con. Take a peek ad leave any thoughts below.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

'John Carter' Marvel Art Edition Announced


More Barsoom guys. Dynamite Entertainment has announced the release of Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter, Warlord of Mars--The Marvel Years Art Edition, a new collection of the 1977-79 Marvel Comics run of the series, No release date has been set yet so keep your eyes open when it is announced. For a brief look at some of the art, as well as upcoming Art Editions of Vampirella and Marvel's original Battlestar Galactica series hit  http://www.bleedingcool.com/2014/10/06/dynamite-adds-3-new-artist-editions-focusing-on-vampirella-battlestar-galactica-and-john-carter/.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Comic Review: Legendary Star-Lord #4


AND NOW...THANOS! Or the guy in the floating chair from Guardians of the Galaxy.

Having acquired a mysterious device known as the Mandalay Gem, Quill and his sidekick, the holographic Lydia head to Earth, or more precisely the Moon to confront Star-Lord's most deadly adversary. Once there it's the usual slug fest between the two but their possible fight will cause the destruction of the Moon...and the Earth. Can the two put aside their differences long enough to prevent the cataclysmic event? And what is with blowing up the Moon? First Doctor Who, now this?

As mentioned above most of this is a long drawn out brawl in typical Marvel style, handled well by the art team of artist Freddie Williams and company with enough flair and color to at least catch the eye. Also seeing old Thanos for once getting his rear handed to him is a nice change from the usual scenes of him causing mass casualties he usually does.

The story though is just a one shot that leaves an opening for a more interesting tale, so I wonder if writer Sam Humphries just decided to throw in Thanos to help spice things up or keep those coming in from the movie interested since old Big Chin doesn't have any grand schemes planned or mentioned. Oh well at least there is some humor and a nice twist at the end.

As it stands, Legendary Star-Lord #4 is a good stand alone tale with bigger implications for future story lines. It's not essential reading but it is fun and if you enjoyed the character from the movie then dive in. Until next time folks.