The comic book gossip squads have definitely been in overdrive these last few weeks with a lot of big things happening. Some people consider these things to be bad, but I remain optimistic about what is to come. Even though I don't have a lot to say on these subject matters I figure I'd at least let the common man know what's been going on, and why it's not all bad.
Archie and DC Comics Dropping the Comic Code:
Marvel comics dropped the 60 year-old code back in 2001 and, just like the movie business; DC is trying to play catch up. Back in 1954 Congress set up the comic book code because they felt comic books turned kids into criminals and made them Nazi's. It was a code that dictated how far comic creators could push the line, which wasn't very far. This of course was back in communist witch hunt days, and I think we've evolved from the paranoia of the 1950's.
Comics have also gotten a lot more serious. Popular titles like Batman and Spider-man usually have more mature content that is not suitable for anyone under 14. This helps keep the adult fans interested and gives Hollywood better material to steal for their movies, and then turn into crap. Marvel, DC, and Archie all have comics that are appropriate for kids that involve their favorite superhero characters. They aren't considered part of the main stream, but they're something to bring in new readers while they're young. You can bet that's what I'll be buying my kids to start their comic book education.
Wizard Magazine Cancelling Its Publication:
Earlier this week I heard some grave news as a magazine I have read since I was a child was ending after 20 years of publication. Wizard, along with Toyfare magazine, will no longer be available in print. Do to budgetary issues they are laying off most of their staff and just going to be posting news on wizradworld.com.
This was one of the more disappointing things I heard this week since I have a 2-year subscription that is only over a year old. Sure Wizard magazine hasn't been what it used to be in recent years, but it was my dream job to work at Wizard one day, and now that dream it gone. Print media is slowly being phased out. Much like VHS, it will soon be a thing of the past.
I don't know what I will do when all comics are in electronic form. Any comic reader will tell you their joy of going to the local comic book store each week and chatting with store regulars about all things pop culture. I'm going to miss Wizard's casting calls most of all. The writers would say which actor they felt could play our favorite characters. This is something I think about all the time, and it will not die with Wizard. Just see my entries about Batman Beyond and The Flash.
Anne Hathaway is Catwoman:
Months ago rumors started swirling that Christopher Nolan was auditioning female actress's for his next Batman film, The Dark Knight Rise. Everyone knew this lucky lady would be picked to play Catwoman, Batman's most famous female villain and sometimes lover. Last week the announcement was made that Anne Hathaway had won the part, which was met with a mixture of responses. Most think Hathaway isn't edgy and sexy enough to play Catwoman, but I say that's crap.
Hathaway is more known for her light roles like The Princess Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada. But let's not forget her more controversial roles like Havoc, Brokeback Mountain, and Rachel Getting Married. Plus, the Catwoman in the comic has a much more playful personality that Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns.
Some consider Pfeiffer's role the definitive Catwoman, much like they used to consider Jack Nicholson the definitive Joker. Nobody had faith in Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight, but everyone was proven wrong. So why can't Hathaway be a good Catwoman? She's proven to be a great actress, and didn't Michelle Pfeiffer do Grease 2 before she did Batman Returns? I rest my case.
Also announced was Inception actor Tom Hardy as Bane. In the 1997 film, Batman and Robin, Bane was a strong dumb guy who didn't know how to spell cat. But in the comics he is a criminal mastermind who tired Batman out enough to get the jump on him and put Bruce Wayne in a wheelchair for a months. I just hope we get to see Hardy play that version of Bane and not the version whose most famous line is, 'bomb.'
The Death of The Human Torch:
Comic book shops released a new comic a day earlier than all the other this week. For months fans had been teased about the death of a Fantastic Four member. With Reed and Sue off world and Ben Grimm in a temporary state of being human Johnny Storm was the only FF member left at the Baxter Building when alien monsters came knocking on the door. Inside was well was Johnny's niece and nephew. In a last act of heroics Johnny 'Flamed On' for the last time to save his family.
These days death is just something every comic book superhero goes through. Steve Rogers and Bruce Wayne were gone barely a year before they came back, but something tells me the Human Torch might stay dead for a while. The Human Torch was one of my favorite superhero mainly because of his care free, and sometime juvenile, attitude. Although I grieve Johnny's death, I'm excited for the dramatic repercussions. The Fantastic Four is more of a family than a team, and now they will all think about what they could have done to prevent Johnny's death. I'm sure his best friend, Spider-Man, will also feel the weight of his death.
Superhero death's sometimes stick for a while. Jean Grey has been dead for ten years now, mainly I feel because of the popularity of Cyclops new girlfriend, The White Queen. Comic shops have already sold out of this FF issue in less than twenty four hours and are already calling for a second printing. Clearly this is a marketing scheme to get people more interested in the Fantastic Four and create comic book hype in main stream news. We'll just have to wait and see what the aftershocks are from Johnny Storm's valiant sacrifice in the Marvel Universe, comic book sales, and around the world.
With all these cancellations, codes breaking, and heroic deaths I feel like I've left you on a bad note. So let me leave you with some good news. 80's cartoons are making a comeback and yesterday the first image of a new Thundercats cartoon surfaced on the web. The cartoon is set to premiere later this year on Cartoon Network. As a former Thudercats lover all I can say is Thundercats, ho!