Saturday, June 23, 2007

FanBoyWonder, Kemosabe and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer--SPOILERS

FanBoyWonder and our best pal and Kemosabe John Micek liked our “At The Movies” bit that we did last month for Spider-Man 3 so much that we’ve done it again in attending and commenting on “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.”

Here’s the upshot on the movie from 20th Century Fox: Marvel's first family of superheroes, The Fantastic Four, meets their greatest challenge yet in "Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer" as the enigmatic, intergalactic herald, The Silver Surfer, comes to Earth to prepare it for destruction. As the Silver Surfer races around the globe wreaking havoc, Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben must unravel the mystery of the Silver Surfer and confront the surprising return of their mortal enemy, Dr. Doom, before all hope is lost.

Check out the official website for more details.

Following our screening of the movie on opening weekend, FanBoyWonder and Kemosabe repaired to a nearby Borders Books & Music Café and recorded our thoughts below. BEWARE MEGA SPOILERS!!! Read below freely and at your own risk.

FanBoyWonder: You know, I liked this movie. I liked it a lot. I really didn’t like the first movie [Fantastic Four] but this one was really good. I think the critics have savaged this movie because they had a hard time with the first one.

Kemosabe: I think I’m the only one on the face of the earth who actually likes the first movie.

I thought [the first movie] was just kind of fun and a neat little romp. Yes, there wasn’t a lot of ‘there’ there but it sort of established the dysfunctional group dynamic of the Fantastic Four and the way things work and it sort of built that with the tension over Reed [Richards/Mr. Fantastic played by Ioan Gruffudd] and Sue [Storm/Invisible Woman played by Jessica Alba] getting married -- what they were going to do with the future of the team.

I thought it was a necessary grounding for the set up and the surprise coming back of Victor Von Doom [“Dr. Doom”/ Julian McMahon]. More on that later.

Overall, I thought the movie was a bit slow out of the block. But once they got over the hump there about a third of the way through, about 45-50 minutes in, it’s a really good romp. And pretty darn faithful to the Marvel mythology overall.

FBW: It was slow in the beginning but I think it was a necessary build up.

I think everything that makes a comic book movie is about the villain. What I didn’t like about the first movie was that Dr. Doom, at least the way he was played by Julian McMahon, didn’t work for me.

This time there was Doom, plus the Silver Surfer [played by Doug Jones but voiced by Lawrence Fishburne] plus the world-eating Galactus, there was an actual sense of—pardon the pun—doom.

KS: I’m still trying to figure out what purpose that Victor Von Doom serves in this -- except to come back and rub Reed’s and Sue’s face in the face of Karma. It seems like he was sort of an afterthought to have the ‘ha-ha-ha cackling villain guy’ in the movie, which frankly I think they could have done without.

I think there could have been a way to solve the Galactus conundrum and get to know the Silver Surfer without having to bring in this tired plot device of Victor Von Doom.

FBW: You’re right, I agree with what you’re saying. Doom in a way was used, he wasn’t vital to the plot but I don’t think he hurt it either.

KS: He advanced it but if you think about it—if Julian McMahon is not there, does the movie stand or fall without him? It could have been solved easily without him.

FBW: You’re right. In the battle scenes, he very easily could have been Silver Surfer instead of Doom who hijacked the Surfer’s power.

KS: Okay, for about 10 minutes, it was harder for them to get to the board [the source of the Surfer’s Power Cosmic] so the Silver Surfer could save the planet. It could have been them [the Four] fighting the U.S. Army or trying to convince a skeptical Andre Braugher of the wisdom of their ways.

Andre Braugher by the way is a U.S. Army General who, for some inexplicable reason, is bossing the Fantastic Four around.

FBW: One last thing about Doom—Julian McMahon, to me, has just never been able to convey that sense of gravitas, that kind of Doom…too much being smarmy and not enough being evil.

For just a little bit of the movie we get to see [Von Doom] as Reed Richard’s opposite number—he’s what Reed Richard’s could be if he didn’t use his powers for good kind of thing.

On Andre Braugher, he’s a great actor but just once in a movie, I want to see the military guy be part of the solution, not part of the problem. It’s a stereotype.

KS: But putting that aside, he’s just the kind of gruff, barky General, bossy dude that shows up so often in movies.

I’ll tell you what I thought was intriguing though was the allusion to the contemporary circumstances where they captured the Silver Surfer, rendered him to Siberia and then began using … dubious interrogation techniques to get the secrets out of him.

I thought that was a nice little nod to the post-Geneva Convention environment to which we find ourselves.

FBW: I know it was a comic book movie but the back half of my mind was working and asking ‘How is America doing this? Where’s NATO [America’s European military allies the North Atlantic Treaty Organization]? They go to Siberia, where’s the Russian government? But suspend your disbelief.

KS: To backtrack to the beginning of the movie, I thought it was a nice poke also at our celebrity tabloid culture to have Reed and Sue as the stand-ins for Brad and Angelina or Ben and Jennifer or whoever—just constantly getting gate-crashed by the entertainment press as they try to hold just a simple wedding.

Also, I realize this was a Fox movie, but if I see product placement for Fox News in a [20th Century] Fox movie, I’m going to barf.

FBW: And the folks at Dodge must be very happy [with the Dodge motors symbol and grill branded on the newly unveiled ‘Fantasticar’].

KS: I’m sure they are. That by the way is the ‘Fantasticar’ that appears in the back half of the movie to spirit our heroes along.

FBW: I wanted to say that there was definitely a sense of realism as far as there are four different folks with superpowers and they meshed them very nicely. There was a very X-Men type feel that there are people with powers in the real world kind of thing.

KS: loan Gruffudd the Welsh actor who plays Reed is really believable. He’s very much nailed that kind of—I’m a science geek, I can’t believe I have superpowers, I really don’t have that much of a clue how to operate in the real world kind of thing.

FBW: I can’t believe I’m scoring Jessica Alba.

KS: That too.

And you’ve got Michael Chiklis who I’ve loved for years first as “The Commish” and now in “The Shield.” He’s a great actor. And you’ve got the young actor who plays Johnny Storm [the Human Torch], his name escapes me [Chris Evans] is pretty good and I’d watch Jessica Alba read the Yellow Pages.

She was criticized by a couple of the movie critics for being pretty and not doing much of anything else, but I think all of them contribute to the group dynamic and they definitely give that feel of four people who are thrown together in reasonably dysfunctional circumstances and of course like any family, they have to work it out.

FBW: There was a little bit of the bubble-headed blond thing going on there with Jessica Alba but there was a scene with Sue and Doom where she really showed her iron when she was face to face with Doom and she told him that she could use her power to put a force field inside his body and expand it until you explode. That was right out of John Byrne’s run on Fantastic Four.

KS: I think her lines with Norin the Silver Surfer were pretty heartfelt. The Surfer, by the way, was voiced by Lawrence Fishburne. He’s got a wonderfully mellifluous, deep-speaking voice.

FBW: I was reading how they were looking for a new generation James Earl Jones.

KS: And they did it.

FBW: Yeah.

KS: I was wondering how they were going to pull off Galactus—if it was going to be a 900-foot-tall guy with a Moose Lodge hat on his head. But Galactus turned out to be a giant cosmic cloud thingy.

FBW: And that’s the way it should have been actually. I liked it. It gave that sense of mystery. A giant guy in a costume would look kind of silly but this way they gave it a sense of menace.

KS: That’s the one thing was I never able to buy in the comics. The whole Watcher/Galactus deal with again the Moose Lodge hat and the purple tights. That was kind of goofy.

FBW: That’s what I liked about the story. For the fanboys who knew the history, you kind of could see it all out there and imagine it but they didn’t directly reference it [in the film] so anybody just going in didn’t have to get it or know it.

Going back, I liked the very beginning of the film where you think it’s the Planet Earth you are looking at, but then you can tell it’s not and then it blows up. You immediately get a sense of the stakes.

KS: Other highlights for me, the fight scene London where they are going to contain the Surfer.

Neat little plot point here, the Human Torch [Evans] gets too close to the Surfer, gets his molecules all scrambled and throughout the movie whenever he touches another of the Four, absorbs their powers.

FBW: And also a power-swap.

KS: So you have Reed temporarily absorbing the Torch’s powers as the Millennium Wheel [the giant Ferris Wheel also known as the London Eye] falls over, and he engages in a heroic act of welding and saves the Wheel.

FBW: It was a very understated thing but Reed instantly uses Johnny’s flame powers better than Johnny does. I liked that kind of beat.

KS: Yes. That was the adult realizing what needed to be done, whereas Johnny would have tried to use brute force.

I gotta say also that Michael Chiklis is The Thing as far as I’m concerned. He has just nailed his spirit and his gruffness with that soft core. And the young woman who plays Alicia [Masters, The Thing’s love interest, played by Kerry Washington] she’s good.

FBW: And General Andre Braugher’s assistant, the [U.S. Army] Captain…..

KS: A young actress named Beau Garrett from “Turistas”…..

FBW: The character’s name was Frankie Raye, who in the Byrne-era comics was Johnny Storm’s girlfriend and she later gained Torch-like powers and briefly became the other Human Torch and eventually became another herald of Galactus called Nova.

KS: So there you go. You see I didn’t know that.

FBW: Thank you Kirk Gartside wherever you are for letting me read your Fantastic Four collection when we were kids.

But I liked at the end where the Torch touched and absorbed all of the Four’s powers to battle Doom, he had a Super Skrull [] thing going on there.

KS: Yes that was a neat touch.

FBW: Except for Mr. Fantastic stretching all over the dance floor during his bachelor party, there was not a cringe moment in the movie, which you had missed.

KS: Yeah. Lame old guy thing, I was out late last night playing with my band Finks Constant [] and actually dozed off for that part of the movie. It’s something that I wish I had actually dozed off during the “Jazz Hands” scenes in Spider-Man 3.

FBW: Yes. I was TRYING to sleep through that too.

KS: The less said about that the better.

FBW: But the fight scenes were great. They were very well choreographed and the beats were right where they should be.

KS: This wouldn’t be a Marvel movie of course without the obligatory Stan Lee cameo.

FBW: Yes. Stan Lee has his best cameo ever during the wedding scene where the guests were filing in, the usher with clipboard in hand couldn’t find Stan’s name on the guest list, and where he goes something to the effect of ‘I have to be on there, I’m Stan Lee.’ And he was turned away at the door.

For Stan, it was brilliant but I wish they had found a more direct homage to [Fantastic Four co-creator and all around comic book legend, the late] Jack Kirby []. Maybe naming a street after him, Jack Kirby Blvd. or something.

KS: He was mentioned in the credits as having been created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and of course those of us familiar with the back story know the spotted history that Jack Kirby often gets the short shrift in the creation of what has come to be known as the Classic Marvel Universe. At least in films anyway.

FBW: But the story I heard….even Stan Lee has acknowledged that the Silver Surfer was all Kirby’s creation. Lee wanted an alien in a Fantastic Four story and Kirby had said he was tired of drawing flying saucers so he created a guy on a surfboard, and there you go. Thank you Jack Kirby wherever you are.

KS: We should add however that the Surfer was a guy in the sort of technical back lot filming but beautifully CGI rendered in the film. I don’t know quite how they pulled it off in the sequences where they were helping him around and that kind of stuff but it was incredibly convincing.

You got the sense that there was just some sort of other-worldly creature with enormous power that you just couldn’t understand or stop. And with that classic tortured Silver Surfer existential thing that he’s known for.

FBW: And I think the guy who plays Johnny Storm, I forgot the name [Chris Evans], he is totally the Torch. He’s such a tool.

KS: Yes he is. That’s why I’ve always preferred the classic 1939 [original] android Human Torch.

FBW: Wizard magazine all those years ago did their Casting Call wish list feature on a Fantastic Four movie and they cast Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Zach from Saved by the Bell as the Human Torch. Why? Because who else could you picture saying “Flame On” with a straight face

KS: So parting shot?

FBW: I liked this movie a lot. And I’m kind of wary. If they go for three, how are they going to top this?

KS: A worthy successor to the first movie, which built on the foundation it established.

FBW: Definitely worth seeing in the theatre and you can even take the kids. This is a film for the whole family.

KS: But get the matinee rate if you can.

FBW: Yes.

Now nearly a week later after we’ve both had time to think and really process the film (and allow FBW to transcribe the audio tape) FanBoyWonder and Kemosabe give our Jerry Springer-like Final Thoughts to Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

FanBoyWonder’s Final Thought:

When all is said and done, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer will be remembered favorably as one of the best comic book movies ever made. Why? Because it’s fun, the way comic books used to be. The film takes its premise, but not itself, too seriously while it decidedly does NOT veer off into a self-important “message” to the audience.

Earlier I expressed my wariness at the prospect of a third Fantastic Four movie given how well they pulled off this one and fear of being disappointed. But upon reflection, it’s clear the filmmakers sought to learn from the mistake made during the first movie.

We hope they take their time, get the story right but the Fantastic Four should definitely go for three.

Kemosabe’s Final Thoughts:

Fantastic Four” may not carry the Gothic weight of “Batman Begins,” or the tortured-hero ethos of the “Spider-Man” movies, but in its own way, it’s the purest realization of a comic-book movie. The film’s bright colors, over the top antics and deft characterizations perfectly evoke the four-color world of the comics.

The film also captures what makes The Four so accessible: the fact that they are very different people who have been thrown together by circumstances utterly beyond their control, and who are trying to make the best of their amazing gifts. They’re also a family, and as we all know, families argue. So, in that sense, they’re a reflection of the rest of us.

As I noted above, the movie takes a while to find its feet, but when it hits its groove, it keeps moving. And in that way, it’s the perfect Saturday matinee diversion. And, after all, what’s so bad about that?

FBW Note: Kemosabe’s band Milkshake Jones has just released its second studio album Gala Days. For purchase information, check out MJ's record label site at Thanks pal for playing along.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

FanBoyWonder’s TV Spotlight: The New ‘Bionic Woman’ On NBC This Fall

FanBoyWonder has been hearing serious buzz and we find ourselves becoming seriously excited about one of the new television offerings for the Fall season on NBC—Bionic Woman.

Here’s the Upshot from NBC: “Struggling as a bartender and surrogate mom to her teen-aged sister Becca (Mae Whitman), Jaime Sommers (Michelle Ryan) didn't think life could get much harder. But when a devastating car accident leaves her at death's door, Jaime's only hope of survival is through a cutting-edge, top-secret technology that comes at a hefty price.

“With a whole new existence and a debt to repay, Jaime must figure out how to use her extraordinary abilities for good, while weighing the personal sacrifices she will have to make. Ultimately, it's Jaime's journey of self-discovery and inner strength that will help her embrace her new life as...
The Bionic Woman.”

Check out preview clips from NBC here

This “re-imagined” Bionic Woman looks to be an amalgam of the Six Million Dollar Man and its spin-off series the original Bionic Woman staring Lee Majors and Lindsey Wagner respectively.

We have fond memories of the Bionic Duo, specifically of Col. Steve Austin (Majors), the Six Million Dollar Man

We were but Brianna The Girl Wonder’s age when the SMDM first aired in the mid ‘70s and we thought that Steve Austin was wicked cool (all the kids in the 1970s said “wicked”).

“Steve Austin, astronaut, a man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him, we have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first Bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better. Stronger. Faster."

In other words…..Steve Austin ….was The Balls (with apologies to Ron Burgundy).

During the mid-1990s, Sci-Fi Channel aired all the Six Million Dollar Man episodes in sequence and it was through grown up eyes that we viewed FanBoyWonder’s very first childhood hero. We really enjoyed the early season episodes as they played it straight and took the premise seriously.

It wasn’t until later seasons during Lee Majors’ leisure suit/cheesy mustache phase where he ran with Bigfoot and married Farah that the show slowly but sadly became a parody of itself.

Unfortunately even the name of the show is hopelessly dated—six million dollars back in the day was quite a princely sum. Today, $6 million would barely cover a government defense contractor’s monthly expense account (and that’s if you exclude client “meetings” at the local gentlemen’s club).

Flash forward three decades to David Eick, co-producer of the current sci-fi classic, the new and improved Battlestar Galactica. Like Galactica, Eick has taken what works from the SMDM and the original Bionic Woman and from that basic foundation, has built something new—and perhaps “better, stronger, faster.”

Eick has the technology to rebuild Bionic Woman as a first-class action show with superb special effects—no super slow-mo “bionic running.” This post-millennial model can run as fast as a speeding car, leap tall buildings, kick arse and take names.

However, given Eick's work on Galactica and what we’ve seen from the previews, Bionic Woman will be a character driven drama punctuated by cyborg-action.

English actress Michelle Ryan has been tapped to play the show’s All-American Girl Jaime Sommers in an inspired bit of casting. Ryan’s brings a girl-next-door quality with an understated but very real toughness to Bionic Woman.

But even tougher is the“first bionic woman” and all around bionic bad girl Sarah Corvus played by Galactica’s Katie Sackhoff in what’s promised to be a recurring role around her time as Starbuck on BSG. From the clips we’ve seen, Sackhoff’s Bionic Woman is one piece of work—think BSG Season 3 Starbuck but meaner and with super-strength.

Two words: "Bionic babe-fight"—There we said it.

The show’s other formidable character is Jonas Bledsoe (Miguel Ferrer), the apparent head of the top-secret bionics program. From what little we’ve seen, Jonas is no Oscar Goldman (played by the immortal, if leathery, Richard Anderson). Whether he turns out to be a friend or a foe to Jaime, this is one heavy dude.

We are very excited from what we’ve seen so far and while nobody asked us, here are some tips from FanBoyWonder to help make this new Bionic Woman work:

* Remember the SCIENCE in sci-fi. Don’t overdose on the science fiction aspect of bionics but at the same time please keep it plausible, if extremely speculative.

* Minimize the “black helicopters” conspiracy theory elements that inherently come in television with a top-secret project such as this. In the original SMDM and BW, the Bionic Duo worked for a government agency—the OSI (Office of Scientific Intelligence) as secret agents on covert, but legitimate operations.

Sure now it’s fashionable to portray the government as the boogeyman (especially in Hollywood) and often not without good reason but why be like every other show that’s chock-full of rogue government agencies and/or all-powerful secret societies? Screw the “Truth is out there” X-Files hooey—it’s boring and it drives us to distraction.

* Jaime’s kid sister Becca already annoys us but we understand the dramatic need for friction among characters. But what we don’t want is to see are regular installments of “Becca the girl hostage.” This is a card that should be played once, if at all, and then either kill the kid or at least giver her an attitude adjustment but make it good.

All in all, we’re excited about Bionic Woman but it’s an off beat show with a potential for greatness but also a reputation from the original shows to overcome. It’s going to need viewer support from the start in order to survive.

Bionic Woman is scheduled to air Wednesdays at 9 p.m. with a September 26 premier. We’re going to check it out.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Flash: The Fastest Man Alive is (Almost) Dead—The Flash Lives Again

A quick shout out to FanBoyWonder’s best pal Kemosabe. FBW and KS went to see Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer this weekend. We both liked it a lot. Look for our fresh from the movie review later this week just as soon as FBW finds time to transcribe the tape.

However, this weekend as we were in the process of writing up our weekly review of books we read for the week of June 13, we had been in the process of bitching about how The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13 was two weeks late—this was supposed to be THE issue that would change everything, or at least that’s what DC told retailers in hopes of getting them to order more.

Oh how right DC was. Word has reached us from Wizard World in Philly via of DC’s announcement that Flash #13, now slated to hit stores next week, will in fact be the last issue. This news comes despite DC’s solicitations for issues #14 and #15, which as it turns out seems to have been some super-head fake by DC to keep readers guessing.

The pic of Flash #13 above is from a cool blog devoted to all things Flash called Crimson Lightning Given that we could not find the image of this Flash cover anywhere else following DC’s announcement, we are much impressed by Crimson Lightning’s blogmaster Dixon’s ability to come up with the image—a tip of Jay Garrick’s Mercury helmet to you sir!

Meanwhile, DC’s announcement that they’ve pulled the plug on this Flash series is surpassed by the additional announcement that they have dispatched long-time Wally West/Flash writer Mark Waid to come back and that the previous edition of the Flash will re-launch with its old numbering intact. Look for Flash #231 to hit shelves in the fall.

Meanwhile, DC will put out All Flash #1, a one-shot special, in September as a retrospective on the Flash Legacy and transition between series.

What has not been announced or revealed is who the Flash will be and/or what happens to Bart Allen as the Flash.

FanBoyWonder’s take on DC’s announcement: This is a major concession by the powers that be at DC that their attempt to fix the Flash following their disastrous post-Infinite Crisis re-launch of The Flash—both the book and the title character—was not working.

Despite the laudable efforts of current Flash scribe Mark Guggenheim, who was brought in to repair the damage done by Hollywood bozos Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo; it was like trying to put a band-aid on cancer.

DC has taken similar action to fix Wonder Woman by bringing in Birds of Prey writer Gail Simone, a fan (and FanBoyWonder) favorite and proven winner.

As for what is to come in Flash #13 and specifically the fate of current Flash Bart Allen, our best guess is that this Bart Allen will die but it will be revealed that the Bart Allen that emerged from the Speed Force following Infinite Crisis and whom adventures (as dwindling number of) readers have been following is a Bart Allen from one of the newly minted parallel earths. Which would mean the real, still-teenaged Kid Flash Bart Allen is out there somewhere, as is Wally West.

Just a guess but we’ll find out soon enough if we’re right yet meanwhile, DC’s sea change has once again made us excited about The Flash. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, we’re a bit crunched for time today so here are our picks for the week of June 13 from the shotgun formation.

Justice #12

The Upshot from DC Comics: A few twists and turns remain in this amazing tale of the alliance of the world's most fearsome villains! And against the wild landscape of hundreds of heroes and their foes, smaller, more intimate human dramas are played out. Don't miss the remarkable conclusion to the remarkable 12-issue maxi-series by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger and Doug Braithwaite!

We’ll be honest with you our faithful reader. To save our life, we really couldn’t tell you just what exactly the story behind Justice was about, but darn it all, we LOVED it anyway.

Face it, Justice was not a writer’s series and it was the visuals that made this series work—and what great visuals they were. We may get a better sense of what the story was actually all about when we read all 12 issues together rather than as bi-monthly individual chapters but the one thing that Alex Ross’ story did succeed in doing was to make us really appreciate the late-Silver Age DC Universe (circa 1978-1980).

Given the mess that the current DC Universe finds itself in, Alex Ross’ DCU was a very nice place to visit. Hey DC, with a reborn multiverse and 51 other parallel Earths out there, ya think you can find a home for the World of Justice? Earth Ross anyone?

Green Lantern Corps #13

The Upshot From DC Comics: All hell breaks loose in the forests of Mogo as Lanterns old and new confront the ghosts of their pasts, and the sentient planet must make a desperate sacrifice to defeat the enemy within.

Writer Dave Gibbons continues to impress us as we have watched his writing skills develop. Before this issue, we would have labeled him an artist/writer in that order but he has really come along in both his plotting and scripting.

Following the events of last issue with Honor Lantern Guy Gardner accused of murdering two fellow Green Lanterns, we fully expected half of this issue to be Lantern vs. Lantern fight action. Yet to our pleasant surprise, Guy gets his fellow GL’s to hear him out within the first three pages and they use their heads instead of their rings.

Making a welcome appearance, GL Natu—Dr. Natu, is called in to help diagnose the problem with Mogo, the planet Green Lantern. The cure of the yellow bug/virus that infects Green Lanterns to become both brainwashed and afraid was both a great self-contained story yet it also advances the big upcoming Sinestro Corps storyline which starts later this month.

The Amazing Spider-Girl #9

The Upshot from Marvel Comics: Spider-Girl, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Part 1 (of 4) When Spider-Girl stumbles on to a S.H.I.E.L.D. mission that’s about to go bad, she inadvertently sets free the deadliest (and most requested) foe that Spider-Man ever faced—Carnage!

Ok the actual story isn’t worth writing home about. Long explanation short, Miss Spidey accidentally helps in the release of one of her father’s greatest enemies Carnage.

But it’s an understandable mistake as writer Tom DeFalco has bad guys working for the government guarding an imprisoned Carnage while agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to affect the jail break that Spidey happens upon and attempts to stop.

Maybe this will be better explained away next issue but it seemed all over the place for us. However, it’s the general strengths of this book—scripting, great art by Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema and a genuinely great character in May “Mayday” Parker/Spider-Girl that still make this book a fun read.

Better yet, Spider-Girl is all that a young female hero should be. Miss Spidey is the polar opposite of the pop-tart current incarnation of Supergirl over at DC and what they seem poised to do to Mary Marvel.

As we’ve said before, Spider-Girl isn’t just Spidey with boobs but she’s a three-dimensional character who is still growing. The perfect balance of a hero who is a “legacy” but who also makes her own mark.

To their credit, DeFalco and Frenz have never (at least since we’ve been reading) done anything to “sex-up” their portrayal of May/Spidey.

To prove our point, just try to imagine Spider-Girl wall-crawling wearing a belly shirt (with obvious signs of an unrestrained teenage bosom) with a micro skirt and/or a thong and you can see just how silly and undignified many of the female characters at Marvel’s Distinguished Competition look by comparison.

Spider-Girl’s creators have removed the use of “T&A” from their storytelling bag of tricks yet they still manage to write a compelling and loveable character. Imagine that.

Trials of Shazam #7

The Upshot from DC Comics: Freddy must find Hercules for his next trial, which is considerably more difficult than he expected, since Herc is behind bars!

You know, we really wanted to dislike this issue and this series so far, but Judd Winick—to our everlasting surprise—continues to deliver. Yes purists will no doubt dislike all of the eggs he is breaking to make his new magic omelet but we’re still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and let Trials play out to the end.

Heck, Winick even makes an attempt at character development as readers gain some insight to Sabina, Freddy’s dark rival for the Power of Shazam.

The art of Howard Porter continues to impress us. His new style fits perfectly with the mood of the story.

Yet we hope that this Trial doesn’t take up all 12 issues of the series. We really want to find out what’s going on with Billy, now the new Wizard. Otherwise, so far, so good Judd.

Countdown #46

The Upshot from DC Comics: This year-long weekly series featuring a cast of hundreds kicks into high gear in its second month, under the watchful eye of head writer Paul Dini! See Mary Marvel undergo a surprising transformation! Learn why Donna Troy and Jason Todd are integral players in a cosmic chess game! And see Jimmy Olsen as you've never seen him before!

Well DC has actually seen fit to explain something. It turns out the power that a newly re-charged Mary Marvel inherited from Black Adam was both his power and the Power of Isis—a twofer.

Yet we see her new power already taking a toll on Mary as she clearly likes how strong she feels. As she is forced to do battle with a lame demon whose body is made up of dead fetuses (we kid you not….ew gross), it’s disappointing how easily Mary considers killing the demon as the way to stop him. We guess this is where the real seduction of “Dark Mary” begins.

No complaints about the art of Jesus Saiz and Jimmy Palmiotti. In fact, they complement each other VERY well. They should consider a permanent collaboration.

Yet a shout out and acknowledgement to The Video Store Girl, Blogmistress of the Occasional Superheroine.

First, thanks VSG for reading us here at FanBoyWonder—you’ve made our day knowing that someone other than convicts, shut-ins and other assorted reprobates read our rantings. Thanks also for crediting us vis-a-via your Mary Marvel posting.

VSG also put forth a very good suggestion regarding Countdown—cut the price to $1.99 because there’s just not enough story to justify the fulsome $2.99 cover price (note, the previous weekly series 52 was $2.50 per issue—and worth only $2.50, barely).

It's like a bunch of "clips" updating you as to the continuing adventures of assorted characters with no real "story" structure per issue. Oh look, there's Holly Robinson getting off the bus. Jimmy's had a bad dream. Pied Piper & Trickster shoot the shit. These are 'clips.' Not a story,” Video Store Girl says.

We can’t disagree. For us, it takes a lot for us to drop a book, especially a limited series, mid-story run (but not impossible as we dropped Ion last year after issue #2 like a hot potato) but we suspect that DC is determined to put our resolve to the test.
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