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Stana Katic discusses Wonder Woman in Justice Society: World War II

Stana Katic returns to the DC Universe Movies as the voice of Wonder Woman in Justice Society: World War II – which is current available on streaming services.

Katic is best known for her lead roles on Castle

Absentia, and A Call To Spy. She made her DC Universe Movies debut in 2013 as Lois Lane in Superman: Unbound (2013). She also was featured as the voice of Talia al Ghul in the 2011 videogame, Batman: Arkham City.

Here is a link to a trio of video interview bites (tied together) featuring Katic discussing various aspects of her performance as Wonder Woman in Justice Society: World War II.

In the three bites, Katic discusses Wonder Woman’s specific role in the film; the story’s notable balance of action, romance, and humor; and the characteristics and motivations Katic most loves about Wonder Woman.

John Paul Leon: 1972-2021

John Paul Leon: 1972-2021

John Paul Leon

John Paul Leon, groundbreaking artist on Static and Earth X, died Saturday after an 14-year battle with cancer at the age of 49.

He majored in illustration at New York’s School of Visual Arts, studying under artists such as Will Eisner, Walter Simonson, and Jack Potter. It was during this time that he received his first professional comics job, illustrating the Dark Horse Comics miniseries RoboCop: Prime Suspect (October 1992). By his junior year he was given the job as the inaugural artist on the DC Comics/Milestone ongoing series Static (June 1993), his first breakout work, which Simonson agreed would serve as Leon’s course work for that semester.

Michael Davis, Milestone Media co-founder and co-creator of Static, posted his thoughts in a video on Instragram: “I can’t breathe. I’m a writer who can’t write about John now it’s too painful.”

Collaborators and studio-mates Tommy Lee Edwards and Bernard Chang have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for a trust for his daughter’s future education. Go there to read more about John and his legacy.

Our condolences to his family

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, friends, and fans.

Tonight’s Golden State Warriors vs. New Orleans Pelicans Game Guest Stars the Avengers

ESPN and Marvel announced a groundbreaking collaboration today to launch the first-ever Marvel-inspired alternate presentation for the Golden State Warriors vs. New Orleans Pelicans game on Monday, May 3. The exclusive alternate presentation, NBA Special Edition Presented by State Farm: Marvel’s Arena of Heroes, will start at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes with the traditional game telecast on ESPN. This marks ESPN’s second live NBA game on ESPN+.

The latest development in Marvel and ESPN’s long history of sports content collaboration, the telecast will integrate elements from an original Marvel story and iconic characters including Iron Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Black Widow, and Doctor Strange throughout the live game, including 3D virtual characters, custom graphics and animation packages.

After a narrow victory over an invading alien army, the Avengers receive an ominous threat from the enemy who vows to return in greater numbers and force. The Black Panther and Iron Man quickly realize they will need more help and form a plan to expand their ranks to fight this impending threat. Recognizing the superior physical abilities, agility, and tenacity of Earth’s greatest athletes, the Avengers will hold a series of contests where the winners earn the right to train and fight alongside them as Marvel’s Champions! The Avengers will begin their recruitment with the NBA elite and observe the battle between the Warriors and the Pelicans, focusing on three star players from each team.

Golden State Warriors:

  • Stephen Curry, three-time NBA Champion and two-time NBA MVP;
  • Draymond Green, three-time NBA Champion;
  • Andrew Wiggins, 2014-15 NBA Rookie of the Year.

New Orleans Pelicans:

  • Zion Williamson, 2019 NBA Draft top pick;
  • Brandon Ingram, 2019-20 NBA Most Improved Player;
  • Lonzo Ball, 2017-18 NBA All-Rookie Second Team.

Fans will be able to follow along as these athletes are put to the test, gaining Marvel Hero Points for their achievements and performance during the game. The player with the most Marvel Hero Points on the winning team will be crowned as Marvel’s first Champion following the NBA Special Edition Presented by State Farm: Marvel’s Arena of Heroes.

Scoring system:

  • One Marvel Hero Point will be awarded for every point, rebound, assist, steal and block;
  • One Marvel Hero Point will be deducted for every missed field goal, free throw or turnover.

ESPN commentators Ryan Ruocco and Richard Jefferson will provide commentary in a fully customized Marvel-themed studio at ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. campus. Additionally

, the special presentation will include commentary and analysis from Marvel expert Angélique Roché.

“Marvel and ESPN have brought the worlds of sports and Super Heroes together for years through comics, documentaries, and other stories celebrating athletes and their extraordinary abilities,” said Mike Pasciullo, vice president, marketing and communications, Marvel Entertainment. “The new Marvel’s Arena of Heroes telecast will be the first of its kind to bring Marvel’s storytelling directly to the real-time experience of a NBA game, and we are excited for fans to be able to watch their favorite players through the lens of Marvel’s mightiest heroes.”

“We’re eager for fans to experience this unique, innovative presentation that will pair Marvel and ESPN’s exceptional storytelling and production,” said Matt Kenny, ESPN vice president, programming and acquisitions. “We are proud to showcase the ‘larger than life’ abilities of these NBA stars in a manner in which only Disney and Marvel can deliver.”

“Marvel and ESPN have brought the worlds of sports and Super Heroes together for years through comics, documentaries, and other stories celebrating athletes and their extraordinary abilities,” said Mike Pasciullo, vice president, marketing and communications, Marvel Entertainment. “The new Marvel’s Arena of Heroes telecast will be the first of its kind to bring Marvel’s storytelling directly to the real-time experience of a NBA game, and we are excited for fans to be able to watch their favorite players through the lens of Marvel’s mightiest heroes.”

“We are thrilled to work alongside ESPN and Marvel to present fans with the first-ever Marvel-inspired alternate NBA telecast,” said David Denenberg, NBA senior vice president, global media distribution & business affairs. “This fun and innovative game presentation builds upon our goal of providing personalized and compelling viewing options for our fans.”

The traditional telecast of the Warriors vs. Pelicans game will be exclusive in the New Orleans market and will air simultaneously on ESPN. Dave Pasch will call the action with analyst Mark Jackson and reporter Cassidy Hubbarth on site in New Orleans. Both the NBA Special Edition Presented by State Farm: Marvel’s Arena of Heroes alternate presentation and the traditional game telecast will stream via the ESPN App.

Matthew Mercer chats about Hourman & Justice Society: World War II

Matthew Mercer, who provides the voice of Hourman in the next entry in the DC Universe Movies canon, Justice Society: World War IIAlso attached is an image of the character.

A highly-regarded voice actor for the better part of three decades, Mercer is known for his work across anime, videogames, and traditional animation. While his fans have gravitated to his recent success as the Dungeon Master in the phenomenon that is Critical Role

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, Mercer’s resume includes such performances as Tygra in Thundercats, Leon S. Kennedy in the Resident Evil franchise, Superman in DC Super Friends (2015), and Jotaro Kujo in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. After supporting roles in Justice League: War and Batman: Bad Blood, Mercer elevates to a DC Universe Movies featured voice as Hourman in Justice Society: World War II.

Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the feature-length animated Justice Society: World War II will be distributed by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, available now on Digital, and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray on May 11, 2021.

The three interview bites (tied together) feature Mercer chatting about Hourman’s unique powers, his place within the dynamic of the Justice Society of America and within the plot itself, and his personal appreciation for Hourman’s specific characteristics and background.

Omid Abtahi discusses Hawkman & Justice Society: World War II

Omid Abtahi is currently commanding the fanboy scene with featured roles in The Mandalorian and American Gods, complementing his notable past roles in ArgoBetter Call Saul, and Damien, as well as voice performances in the World of Warcraft and Call of Duty videogame franchises. Justice Society: World War II represents his DC Universe Movies debut.

Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the feature-length animated Justice Society: World War II will be distributed by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital starting April 27, 2021, and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray on May 11, 2021.

The three interview bites (tied together) feature Abtahi discussing the opportunity to play a superhero of Middle Eastern descent, his appreciation for the depth of the characterizations in Justice Society: World War II’s script

, and his need for performing in productions appropriate for his young son to experience.

The Adventures of Tintin, Vol 5 by Herge

I am still not your Tintin expert – I’m in the middle of my first reading of this series, seventy years or so after it was published and a good forty years after I was in the target demographic – but I did just read The Adventures of Tintin, Vol. 5 , the first major post-war chunk of the adventures of the Belgian boy reporter (ha!), so I can, I hope, tell you a few things.

I’ve previously gotten through the earlier omnibuses: one , and two , and three , and four . I have not yet found the first two, semi-forgotten books Tintin in the Land of the Soviets and Tintin in the Congo, which are generally considered to be racist and/or dull and/or not up to Herge’s later level; I may get to them eventually, though the library copies I originally expected to read seem to have been quietly removed from circulation since I first thought about reading Tintin.

This volume starts off with Land of Black Gold, the story interrupted by WWII – Herge started it in 1939, was interrupted in 1940 by a small Nazi invasion of Belgium, and did six other books before getting back to this in 1948. [1] I didn’t know that until I read it on Wikipedia a few minutes ago, so major props to Herge and/or his estate for smoothing that transition out. Then it dives into what I see is the last two-book story in Tintin’s history: Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon, in which a pre-teen Belgian boy, his sea-captain buddy, and their absent-minded professor accomplice become the world’s first astronauts in a program run by a random Eastern European country, because comics, that’s why.

Black Gold does feel pre-war, with some vaguely escalating tensions in the background – mostly seen commercially, in oil prices – but the focus of the plot, as I think was always the case with Tintin, is on individual evil people rather than The Land of the Evil People or SMERSH or anything like that. Oh, the evil people are organized

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, and come from somewhere, but it’s not the named, re-used Land of the Evil People, it’s just a place where these particular Evil People came from. This one is also deeply colonialist, obviously – how could it be otherwise?

And then Professor Calculus has been recruited by Syldavia to run their space program, because a small Balkan monarchy of course has a space program in 1948. (Admittedly, everyone wanted a space program in 1948, at least on the V2 level, and fictioneers are not obliged to let reality impinge too heavily on their worlds.) A rival country – unnamed but probably Borduria, unless I missed something – attempts skullduggery both before the launch (in Destination) and during the trip to the moon (in Explorers), but, as always in Tintin, is foiled by the forces of good and right and spiky-haired Belgianness.

This series is still the same kind of thing: everything I said about the earlier books still applies. They are very wordy for adventure stories, which makes this small-format omnibus a less than ideal presentation. These pages should be large, to be savored and to let the word balloons be somewhat less overwhelming. The comic relief is deeply slapstick, entirely silly, and mostly successful. The plots aren’t complex, per se, but they are complicated, full of additional wrinkles and problems as Herge rumbles through his stories and makes sure he has sixty-some pages of stuff for Tintin to overcome each time.

I expect I’ll finish up the series, and maybe even find the old suppressed books if I can, because I am a completest. But if you didn’t grow up with these, they’re just OK. Solid adventure fiction for boys, yes. Deathless classics of any kind, no.

[1] It’s all much more complicated than that, and I say “books” when I mean “serialized stories in a series of different magazines, which were then collected into books not always in the same sequence and then re-edited and revised multiple times over the next few decades, including but not limited to during different rounds of translation into English.” But they’re books now.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Starport by George R.R. Martin and Raya Golden

Stories are inherently molded by their format. A novelization is different from a movie: it typically will include scenes and lots of interior monologues absent in its model. The same happens in any adaption – the original format has certain strength and structures, the new one does things differently.

Starport  is a TV pilot: it declares that in every second the reader experiences it. I also found it to be a somewhat quaint TV pilot, in the ’80s/90s vein, because George R.R. Martin wrote it as a script in 1993 and it’s been mostly sitting in a drawer ever since. (It was published, as a script, in the GRRM collection Quartet nearly two decades ago.) But it was available, and, for whatever reason, it was dusted off and artist Raya Golden took that TV script (of what seems to be long enough for a three-hour TV movie, planned to launch a series, and that length may be a clue why it never happened), adapted it into a comics script (of about 260 pages, if I counted correctly). Golden keeps the TV beats and structure: Starport in its graphic novel form is divided into twelve chapters, each one just the right length to fit between commercial breaks.

In this universe, the inevitable Harmony of Worlds contacted Earth the day after tomorrow (Super Bowl Day, to be exact), and invited us to join the previous 314 species in intergalactic peace and prosperity. Starports were built in Singapore, Amsterdam, and (last and most troubled) Chicago. [1] That last one is the focus of the story, and smart people will realize all of that allows the production to use normal US exteriors and sets, with just a few skiffy specifics and a lot of rubber facial prosthetics and a few carefully-husbanded FX shots to sell the aliens.

It’s a post-ST: TNG SF pilot, with no hint of X-Files, to place it in time — DS9 and B5 were in development when Martin wrote the script, and he may have been able to see finished episodes before he turned the Starport script into Fox. Possibly more importantly, it’s post-Hill Street Blues, and I would not be surprised if one of the pitches was “What if ST: TNG aliens were in HSB Chicago?”

This is a cop show, with a large cast. We have the new detective getting promoted and joining the precinct responsible for the Starport; we have his new partner, the Buntz character; we have two duos of uniformed cops; we have the tough-as-nails female sergeant and her tired-and-ready-for-retirement captain; we have the honor-obsessed alien cop whose anatomy is compatible enough to be fucking a human main character secretly; we have the womanizing, super-successful undercover cop; we have a harried and potentially corrupt alien starport overseer; we have a bar where all the human cops go to drink together and make sure the reader can keep them and the plot straight. I may be presenting them all as stereotypes; in my defense, they are stereotypes. The point of this script was to establish exactly which stereotypes each of them were, to slot them into a dependable American TV framework and allow the actual actors to start expanding those roles if and when it went to series.

It did not go to series; it was never produced at all. And twenty-five-plus years later, it’s so much an artifact of its time that I doubt it ever could be. So this is the only version I expect we will ever get, with Golden’s slightly cartoony art well-suiting the era and aliens but falling a little short on the moments of high drama.

Technically, Starport is a complete story: it sets up a conflict and resolves it. Several major characters have arcs as well. Realistically, it was designed to set up larger conflicts and concerns that Martin hoped would run for several years in a prominent hour-long prime-time spot nationwide, and give him a lucrative showrunning job for the mid-90s. That did not happen; after Starport, Martin felt burned out on Hollywood and focused his attention on what he planned as a fantasy trilogy, starting with the novel A Game of Thrones three years later. (You may have heard of it.)

So this is a road not taken, and, frankly, I think any Martin fan reading it will be happy about that. This could have been a decent TV series, maybe better than that. It could even have broken out and been a massive sensation, as X-Files was about to do at the same network Martin pitched Starport. But Martin’s prose fiction is better than this, and we’ve gotten two-plus decades of that fiction since then in large part because Starport failed.

And now we also got something like the pilot of Starport that never happened

, so I think we’ve gotten the maximum we could reasonably expect.

[1] That the backstory of Starport includes a Super Bowl in Chicago is the least likely thing about it.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

The Book Tour by Andi Watson

Any author would agree that a book tour has the potential for horror. It could be wonderful, of course — but what in human life is ever purely wonderful? There’s going to be something that goes bad. And there’s always the chance it could all go bad.

Which brings us to Andi Watson’s graphic novel The Book Tour , in which things go wrong, first very quietly and subtly then more and more obviously, for journeyman author G.H. Fretwell as he sets off on a tour for his new novel Without K [1] of what seem to be minor cities in some unnamed European country. It could be today, it could be the late 19th century. Fretwell takes steam trains, he stays in hotels – shabbier and shabbier, dodgier and dodgier as the tour goes on. And the tour does go on – that’s  one of the things that goes wrong, from Fretwell’s point of view.

He sets off with high hopes, a nice suit, and a suitcase full of books. He comes to the first stop on his tour, a cozy and quaint bookshop, sets up at a table in a corner with a stack of books and a good pen, and waits for readers.

It’s only the first of many bad experiences when he doesn’t sell a single book that day, or interact with a single person who cares about his work. The hotel that night is good, but things don’t go as well as he hopes. This is as good as its going to get for Fretwell.

There are shocking stories in the newspaper, which Fretwell does not read: he focuses only on the literary pages. There are dangers and surprises and troubles which he barely notices, even as they get closer and closer to him.

He meets with an editor: not his editor, who is unavoidably detained somewhere else. He is invited to a literary event verbally, but is unable to enter without a printed invitation. He finds the shops and hotels getting less appealing, and his itinerary getting longer and more onerous.

And then it gets much worse.

This is a different kind of book for Andi Watson: he’s spent most of the past decade and a half making fun, light adventure stories for younger readers, and close to a decade before that making resonant stories for adults that were not necessarily romances but centered on personal and family relationships. This is a more literary book, a book of quiet depths, where he implies much more than he shows, and shows vastly more than he tells.

The art is quicker-looking as well, with rough panel borders and lines that have a feeling of speed. Watson’s mid-century character designs – I always see a lot of UPA in his people’s faces – are precise and expressive while still being deeply caricatured, always in a style that fits the look of the book. The panels are tight, mostly in a grid – he does open up, here and there, but the overall feeling is tightness, closeness, with a lot of vertical lines for looming buildings and rain and grim functionaries and towering stacks of books and other ominous things.

The Book Tour can read quickly, but there’s a lot that happens in the gutters between panels and a lot that is implied by what people mention to Fretwell. So don’t read it quickly: this is a book to linger over, to think about, to enjoy the drawings and think about what may really be happening while poor Fretwell is distracted with his ever-worsening book tour.

[1] In-universe

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, this is a reference to Fretwell’s wife’s name, Rebecca (without a ‘k’). Doylistically, it could also be a subtle Kafka reference.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

The Fire Never Goes Out by Noelle Stevenson

No one’s story is as smooth and clear as it looks from outside. It might seem like someone has had only success after success, rising quickly, winning awards and conquering worlds at a young age. But you’d have to ask that person what it was really like.

The Fire Never Goes Ou t is a “what it was really like” book, covering roughly the past decade in Noelle Stevenson’s life. That was a decade where she went through art school in Baltimore, was discovered by an Internet audience, got a literary agent and a book deal, published a graphic novel that was a bestseller and an Eisner winner and a finalist for real-world literary awards too, graduated and got jobs writing and producing in Hollywood, was showrunner for an acclaimed popular TV show, fell in love and got married.

The comics collected here are about what that all felt like to Stevenson, how she was driven and tormented and felt like she was both on fire and had a hole straight through her body. (Comics are an ideal medium for this kind of personal reflection: Stevenson can just draw herself the way she feels

, burning or covered with spikes or with a gaping hole in her chest, talking with her younger self or changing looks and style from drawing to drawing. And she does: she makes great use of the freedom comics gives her.) From the outside, it looks great: that rising arc of a career and life that we all think our twenties will be or should have been. From the inside…my guess is that Stevenson was both driven by her passions and demons to achieve what she did, and that those passions and demons made it all much harder and the crashes worse than it would otherwise have been.

But she did get through it: this is the story of getting through it. Assembled from the comics she made at the time, starting in 2011 in that first year of art school and running through her marriage in 2019. Much of the book is made up of long year-end posts she did – I’m not sure what social platform, or if they’re still available there, but they were stories made to be told in public and shared with her regular audience immediately – on her New Year’s Eve birthday every year from ’11 through ’18.

This book is triumphant, through adversity. It is true. It is aimed at the generation coming up after Stevenson, living their own complicated lives and feeling their own fires and holes in their chests, and I think it will help a lot of them, either directly or by telling them it’s OK to ask for help.

She has the fire. I believe her when she says it will not go out.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Giant Days, Vols. 11-14 by John Allison, Max Sarin, & Whitney Cogar

I go on a lot here about endings: how important they are, that it’s not a story without an ending, and especially that comics have been allergic to endings for several decades now, much to their detriment.

But that still doesn’t mean I’m happy to see a long-running story that I like come to its ending. I get that “what do you mean, there isn’t any more?” feeling. It’s just that I know it has to happen.

Giant Days is now over. It was the story of three young women at a particular point in their lives, while they were undergraduates at the fictional Sheffield University, and undergraduate life in the UK only lasts three years. Writer John Allison and his artistic collaborators – originally Lissa Treiman as the primary artist, then Max Sarin for most of the run, and Whitney Cogar on colors the whole time – spun out fifty-four issues of the main series and a handful of one-offs over the course of four years of comics, so the comic took more time than the actual life would have.

Now, some artistic teams would have kept Esther, Susan, and Daisy in college for decades or longer – if it was an American comic book or syndicated newspaper strip, they could still be in their first year until at least 2050, or the heat death of the universe, whichever came first. But – and, again, this is important – stories don’t work like that. You can put out product in which nothing important ever changes, in which no one ever grows or learns, but you’re a hack and you know know it. Allison and Treiman and Sarin and Cogar are not hacks, and they want to tell stories that matter about real people that change.

So this was inevitable: they would graduate, their days at Sheffield would end. It doesn’t mean we won’t get more stories about some of them, in some permutation, in the future: remember that Esther was a major character in Allison’s webcomic Scarygoround for nearly a decade even before Giant Days. But this time is over.

For most people, it ended a couple of years ago. I’m just catching up on the back quarter of the series now, since I finally gave up waiting for more of the Not on the Test hardcovers to emerge. So I read Volumes Eleven  and Twelve  and Thirteen  and Fourteen  all together, a year’s worth of comics in a day or two. It’s not a bad way to read an episodic humor comic, I have to say: stories based on characters get better with familiarity with the characters, so reading a big chunk all at once can be really resonant.

I’m not talking about the specific issues here, because there’s more than a dozen of them, and that’s really not important. Each one is a small story, one moment in this larger story, and they add up together to Giant Days, all fifty-some of them. They’re all good, they’re all stories, they center on various parts of the cast – mostly Esther and Susan and Daisy, but some McGraw and even enough Ed and Nina to make me wish I got a lot more of that. (Hey, John Allison! If you randomly read this, Ed & Nina in the Big Smoke together could be fun, at least for a short-run thing. Maybe other people than me would even like it!)

I read these because I wanted to know if Giant Days ended well

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, and it does. (Well, also because I was enjoying it a lot, and why give up in the middle on something you like?) If you’ve managed to avoid Giant Days for the last six years, I don’t know what I can say here to convince you: it might just be not to your taste. But it’s a smart, fun, well-written, colorful, amusing, true, real, occasionally laugh-out-loud series of stories about people I think you will recognize and like, and if that’s not what you’re looking for I frankly have to worry about you.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.