Tagged: J. Michael Straczynski

Michael O’Hare: 1952-2012

Michael O'HareJ. Michael Straczynski posted earlier today on Facebook that Babylon 5 star Michael O’Hare has died at the age of 60.

I regret that I must convey the sad news that Michael O’Hare passed away today. He suffered a heart attack on Sunday and was in a coma until his passing this afternoon. This is a terrible loss for all B5 fans and everyone involved with the show wishes to convey their condolences to the O’Hare family. He was an amazing man.

Michael O’Hare was born in Chicago, Illinois. He attended Harvard University, majoring in English literature, and studied at the prestigious Juilliard School of Drama, as well as with Sanford Meisner. He appeared in a number of theatrical productions on Broadway and in the New York area, including an acclaimed revival of Shaw’s Man and Superman with Philip Bosco and originating the role of Col. Jessup in the original stage version of A Few Good Men (the role played by Jack Nicholson in the film version) He was the first white actor nominated by the black theater community of New York for the AUDELCO Award for the Best Actor for his performance in the play Shades of Brown which examined the effects of apartheid in South Africa.

In 1992, he was cast in Babylon 5 in the lead role of Commander Jeffrey Sinclair. O’Hare remained with the series for the first season, and came back for appearances in the second and third season. He had various appearances in other TV shows, from Law & Order to The Trial Of The Incredible Hulk.

I had a few conversations with Michael over the years, though I hadn’t seen him in almost half a decade. He was a kind and gentle man, and much funnier than his roles would have made you think. And his voice makes for one of the best intros to a science fiction series ever:

Our condolences to his family and friends.

New Crusaders Brings Archie Heroes Back

With four months of digital success under their belt, Archie Comics brings their superhero stable back to comic shops with the first print issue of New Crusaders, in comic shops this week.  Each issue collecting the four weekly “acts” of the digital release, the comic is a response to the many requests from readers who wanted to see a traditional edition as well.  Archie has done a good job of it, with several special covers and some extra bonuses not seen in the digital release.

Archie Comics superheroes have had a long and varied publishing history. They premiered in 1939, enjoyed a a re-emergence in the 60s, another in the 80s, a couple revivals that never got out of the gate, and two attempted revivals by DC Comics, the woefully underappreciated Impact imprint from the 90s (helmed by our own Mike Gold), and the more recent Red Circle line which started strong with the J. Michael Straczynski books, but never seemed to find its audience.  This time around, Archie has chosen to do the job themselves, and unlike the DC revivals, have made the new series part of the continuity of all their books, starting back in to 40s.  While the book has decades of history and continuity, the book is carefully written to not require knowledge of those stories.  It can easily be picked up as a first issue, with no fear of getting lost.

The members of the superhero team known as the Mighty Crusaders did something never before heard of in the annals of super-herodom; they succeeded.  They beast evil into submission, sent the villains running, and spent the last couple of decades happily retired.  After an explosive tease, the story starts with the Crusaders enjoying a reunion in the peaceful  town of Red Circle, where Mayor Jack (Steel) Sterling is throwing a party for the heroes and their families.  While the heroes reminisce in the Mayoral mansion, their kids are getting to know each other outside.  Lucky for them, because one of their greatest foes, alien overlord the Brain Emperor takes the opportunity to take out his old foes all at once.  Only Joe Higgins, the original Shield, escapes, and manages to get the kids to safety in his home, or more specifically, his secret headquarters below, where he’s maintained vigilance for the return of their enemies.

Ian Flynn, who’s made quite a name for himself piloting both of Archie’s big video game franchises, Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man, handles the writing for the series, and he’s got a solid grasp of what makes an action comic work.  Even more importantly, as the digital book is coming out six pages at a time, he’s been able to pace the story so that each weekly chapter reads like a complete adventure, yet still flows smoothly in this single-issue format. Artist Ben Bates has a wonderful open style – his characters are drawn simply, his layouts uncluttered, very reminiscent of Impact artist Mike Parobeck; an art that is complex without being overly busy.  There’s lots of easter eggs for older readers; the aforementioned city of “Red Circle” is only the first. In addition to the main adventure, this issue features a reprint of a original Shield story from the 80’s run of the series, written by Marty Greim and art by industry vets Dick Ayres and Rich Buckler.

The print edition of New Crusaders publishes monthly.  The digital edition is available via an iPhone app and for the web and other devices via the Iverse website.  For a 99 cent weekly subscription, readers receive a new six-page chapter each week, as well as access to a growing library of the classic MLJ/Radio/Archie runs of the comics.  For the occasional “Fifth week”, a second series, Lost Crusade, will fill in the blanks of the events between the end of the 80s run of adventures and the new ones.  It’s one of the best digital books being done by a major publisher right now, and both it and the new print edition are well worth a look

For those interested in learning more about the members of the Crusaders, I have a series of histories up on my website:

The Shield

The Comet

The Web

Steel Sterling

 

Which is the Real DC Earth?

Characters of the Multiverse duel in an issue ...

Image via Wikipedia

 

Recently, DC Comics has made a big deal over the fact that the Earth where the New 52 comics have been telling stories is the Main Earth. This is to clearly separate it from the Earth-One seen in the hardcover graphic novels – the first of which, [[[Superman: Earth One]]] came out to great acclaim last year and the next, [[[Batman: Earth One]]] is due out later this year. It also paves the way for people to understand that the Main Earth is not the same homeworld as the events seen in two second wave releases in May: Earth-2 (featuring the Justice Society of America) and World’s Finest, which features Power Girl and the Huntress of that world trapped on Main Earth.  And while we were initially told this Earth-2 would be the home of World War II’s mystery men the reality seems far from it.

 

So what, you wonder, became of New Earth which resulted from the events of Infinite Crisis? We were told that it was altered through the events depicted in the Flashpoint event last summer, which in turn revised reality which gave us Main Earth.

 

Except…

 

(more…)

DC Announces “Before Watchmen”

Watchmen 2: Watch HarderIt’s official… From the DC Source blog:

This summer, DC Entertainment will publish all-new stories expanding on the acclaimed WATCHMEN universe. As highly anticipated as they are controversial, the seven inter-connected prequel mini-series will build on the foundation of the original WATCHMEN, the bestselling graphic novel of all time. BEFORE WATCHMEN will be the collective banner for all seven titles, from DC Comics.

“It’s our responsibility as publishers to find new ways to keep all of our characters relevant,” said DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee. “After twenty five years, the Watchmen are classic characters whose time has come for new stories to be told. We sought out the best writers and artists in the industry to build on the complex mythology of the original.”

Stepping up to the challenge is a group of the comic book industry’s most iconoclastic writers and artists – including Brian Azzarello (100 BULLETS), Lee Bermejo (JOKER), Amanda Conner (POWER GIRL), Darwyn Cooke (JUSTICE LEAGUE: NEW FRONTIER), John Higgins (WATCHMEN), Adam Hughes (CATWOMAN), J.G. Jones (FINAL CRISIS), Andy Kubert (FLASHPOINT), Joe Kubert (SGT. ROCK), Jae Lee (BATMAN: JEKYLL AND HYDE), J. Michael Straczynski (SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE) and Len Wein (SWAMP THING).

(more…)

Marvel Pulp in February

Marvel Comics has released it’s solicitation information for February 2012. Here are some pulpy highlights.

WINTER SOLDIER #1
Written by Ed Brubaker, art by Butch Guice, cover by Lee Bermejo, variant cover by Gabrielle Dell’Otto, sketch variant by Lee Bermejo, classic artist variant by Joe Kubert.
* Winter Soldier and Black Widow are the super-spies of the Marvel U!
* Ex-Russian Sleeper Agents awaken, but under who’s control?
* Is that Dr. Doom?
32 pages, $2.99.

WINTER SOLDIER #2 
Written by Ed Brubaker, art by Butch Guice, covers by Lee Bermejo..
* Bucky and Black Widow on the hunt for men trained by the Winter Soldier himself!
* Who is trying to kill Dr. Doom?
* Also featuring – talking gorillas!
32 pages, $2.99.

CAPTAIN AMERICA & BUCKY #627
Written by Ed Brubaker and James Asmus, art by Francesco Francavilla.
* Captain America versus an army of Cap-killer androids!
* Adam II reborn…with new powers and deadlier than ever!
* Cap’s life in the hands of…the elderly former Bucky Fred Davis?!
32 pages, $2.99.

DOROTHY & THE WIZARD IN OZ #5
Written by Eric Shanower, art and cover by Skottie Young.
* The Wooden Gargoyles attack to kill!
* How can Dorothy, the Wizard, and their friends escape when even the Wizard’s bullets prove useless?
* Subterranean thrills and chills continue with hungry dragons that only Eureka the kitten can see.
* And you’ll believe a horse can fly!
32 pages, $3.99.

THE PUNISHER #8
Written by Greg Rucka, art and cover by Marco Checchetto.
* The face to face you’ve all been waiting for as ex-Hydra and AIM agents work together to bring down the Punisher.
* Frank is up against a soldier who is more like him than either of them realize.
32 pages, $2.99.

BLACK PANTHER: THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN ALIVE #529
Written by David Liss, art by Shawn Martinbrough, cover by Francesco Francavilla.
* Kingpin vs. T’Challa in this status-quo changing series finale!
* Guest-starring: Lady Bullseye! Typhoid Mary! Falcon! Luke Cage!
32 pages, $2.99.

THE TWELVE MUST HAVE #1
Written by J. Michael Straczynski, art by Chris Weston.
* Collecting The Twelve #7-8
40 pages, $3.99.

THE TWELVE #9
Written by J. Michael Straczynski, art by Chris Weston, cover by Paolo Rivera.
* The time-stranded heroes of World War ii are back!
* One member of The Twelve will fall!
* Who’s behind the myterious killings? The answer is electrifying!
32 pages, $2.99.

THE TWELVE #10
Written by J. Michael Straczynski, art by Chris Weston, cover by Paolo Rivera.
* The killer uncovered!
* What does this mean for the future of The Twelve?
32 pages, $2.99.

PUNISHERMAX #22
Written by Jason Aaron, art by Steve Dillon, cover by Dave Johnson.
* Aaron’s and Dillon’s seminal run on PunisherMAX comes to an end!
32 pages, $3.99.

Learn more at http://www.marvel.com/

MINDY NEWELL: Chest Hair Or No Chest Hair

Walking home from food shopping, thinking about this week’s column. Thinking about all the “news that’s fit to print” (and some not) about the portrayal of women in comics. And I thought, has anyone written about the portrayal of men in comics? I’m talking down and dirty, hot stuff, glistening muscle, chest hair or no chest hair?, blue brown or green eyes, skin-tight costume, hunky super-duper M-E-N.

Distaff geeks unite!

I’ll start. Off the top of my head, and in no particular order:

  • Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine. Chest hair. Goddamn, he’s sexy.
  • Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Robin in New Teen Titans written by Marv Wolman and drawn by George Pérez. He looked like a guy I had a crush on in high school… and for years afterwards.
  • Clark Kent, a.k.a. Superman, drawn by Curt Swan, Jerry Ordway, John Byrne, and many others, up to and including Rags Morales and Jesus Marino.
  • Hal Jordan, a.k.a. Green Lantern. Just read recently that Julie Schwartz wanted him to look like Paul Newman. Explains a lot.
  • Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops. Who’s behind those Foster Grants?
  • Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man. It was Revenge of the Nerds, thanks to J. Michael Straczynski and John Romita, Jr!
  • Adam Strange. Why can’t a Zeta-beam land him in my bedroom?

Now for the “live-action”:

  • Christian Bale makes delicious eye candy and engenders dirty thoughts as Bruce Wayne/Batman. But isn’t it odd that the comic version doesn’t make my “off-the-of-my-head” list?
  • Of course the true superhero, Christopher Reeve. “Easy, miss. I’ve got you.”
  • And I have always, always, always had a thing for Robert Downey Jr. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched Iron Man. Even sat through Iron Man more than twice just to look at him. Special mention for Sherlock Holmes.
  • Not so much for the blondes, generally. Though there is Chris Hemsworth as Thor. And Robert Redford (“See ya, Hubble”) in The Way We Were. And Jason Lewis as Jared Smith on Sex And The City – the scene where he shaves his signature long, blonde, thick hair in solidarity with Samantha as she loses her hair due to the chemotherapy, well, every man who has ever questioned why his girlfriend or wife left him should be chained to a chair ala Malcom McDowell in A Clockwork Orange and forced to watch that scene over and over and over until he screams Igetitigetitigetitigetit!

uh, sorry ‘bout that. where was i? she said sheepishly.

  • John Wesley Shipp as The Flash on the too-soon cancelled TV series.

No quibbling allowed on the next four. I am the columnist. I am allowed my all things Buffy. Anyway, maybe they started out as live-action characters, but they all appear in comics now. And don’t give me any lip about any of them not technically being superheroes. I don’t see you fighting demons and vampires and saving the world over and over again.

  • David Boreanaz as Angel, first on Buffy and then on the eponymous TV series. Broody, morose, dark and tragic. A vampire Hamlet.
  • Alexis Denisof as Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. I envy Alyson Hannigan.
  • James Marsters as Spike, a.k.a. William the Bloody. Just for the record, I’m one of those who believe in Spike and Buffy 4 Ever. S.W.A.K.
  • J. August Richards as Charles Gunn. He almost didn’t make the list, ‘cause his selfish actions led to the death of Fred, but I can’t deny that bod’!
  • Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles. Loved him ever since the Folger commercials. ‘Sides, I’m a sucker for British accents. Ask John Higgins.

What’cha think of my choices, fellow geek women? Who are yours? Martha, y’ wanna start?

TUESDAY: Michael Davis

‘Thor’ Movie Annotations

With [[[Thor]]] taking the number one spot in box office receipts for the second week in a row, we must consider one of two options:

  1. There are a lot of people going back to stare at Chris Hemsworth, Kat Dennings, and Jaimie Alexander, or…
  2. People are hunting for all the Easter eggs and hidden bits in the film.

And so verily, we come to you, ComicMixers, with this list of notes, eggs of Easter, and bits of magic you may have missed when you were recently gazing upon the God of Thunder! Have at thee! Here is the Odin-list of annotations from the recent film released by the Studios of Marvel, of the humble Midgard. Did you catch of these visages, mortal? Let us find out! Huzzah!

Warning: spoilers from this point forward. You’ve been warned.

Dave Sim Doing ‘Wonder Woman’; Scott Adams on Backups

Wonder Woman has been through a lot lately. J. Michael Straczynski — the writer best known for the universally-beloved Spider-Man: One More Daysigned on in the last half of 2010 for a storyline that completely revamped the Amazon princess’ origins. But after the success of Superman: Earth One, the original graphic novel that saw JMS completely break out of his comfort zone by revamping the Last Son of Krypton’s origins, he decided to focus on the sequel and leave Wonder Woman to Phil Hester. But now Hester is leaving, too, unable to resist the temptation of working on the hotly-anticipated 2012 relaunch of Marville for the other guys.

But Diana of Themyscira is in good hands with Dave Sim, the self-publishing legend and creative force behind the eight million-page Cerebus the Aardvark saga, writing and drawing her monthly adventures starting with April’s issue #401. And if that weren’t enough, cartoonist Scott Adams of Dilbert fame, who recently rose to prominence with some enlightened treatises on the feminist movement, will be providing eight-page “Tales Of Diana” backups.

Details are still scarce, but early word has it that Sim will keep with the “Odyssey” timeline established by JMS and Hester in his feature stories. The younger, angrier Princess Diana will meet this timeline’s version of Steve Trevor, an ex-Air Force pilot who quit when he realized that society wasn’t advanced far enough to deserve his servitude.

Under Sim’s guidance, Trevor is expected to teach Diana to embrace the aspects of womanhood she has ignored for so long – namely, submission to the powerful men around her. On Justice League missions, Diana will choose to stand back in the face Superman and Batman’s leadership, deferring to their wisdom. Unfortunately, Wonder Woman cannot be a “normal” woman. It becomes clear the joys of femininity must remain unknown to her, as her repressed aggression manifests into a demon that the men around her have to defeat alone.

As for the Scott Adams backup stories, the Dilbert scribe is aiming for humor over dramatics, as you might expect. Wonder Woman attempts to find Mr. Right in New York City while defeating a slew of villains who roll over and turn themselves into the police rather than fight her. Over the course of his six issues, you can expect to see Adams address such hot-button topics as premenstrual syndrome, shoe shopping, and cubicle life. David E. Kelley has reportedly seen the scripts early and may integrate elements into the new TV series.

Here at ComicMix, we’re very excited to see what may well be the most empowering and popular take on a female superhero since Frank Miller’s All-Star Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder.

First Look At Adrianne Palacki As ‘Wonder Woman’

Adrianme Palacki as Wonder WomanEntertainment Weekly* has the first photo of Adrianne Palacki as Wonder Woman in the new NBC TV series being planned for the fall, produced by David E. Kelley.

The observant will note the great similarities to the new costume designed by Jim Lee and launched by J. Michael Straczynski when he took over the series last year. As I suspected at the time, the new costume was at least partially influenced by the desire of getting an actress into something other than a one-piece bikini.

Elizabeth Hurley and Cary Elwes are also in the pilot cast. NBC’s upfront presentation is scheduled for May 16, so we’ll know by then if Wonder Woman will be picked up as a series.

* No real surprise here, as EW is owned by DC’s corporate parent. I think they had the inside track on this one.