Planet Buzz

Superheroes go naked while The Clones make their first attack...


Batman books shake it up…

It seems like Chuck Dixon writes every single book in the Bat stable, so when he decides to leave New York for the lovely Florida offices of CrossGen, you'd think DC would have a problem. Not at all, as it turns out.

Last week editor Bob Schreck announced that some changes were going to have to be made. Devin Grayson, who has been doing some interesting work on Gotham Knights, will now take over the book she has always wanted to do: Nightwing. Stepping into her shoes on Gotham Knights will be Scott Beatty, the man who brought us Last Laugh with Dixon. But give him a chance anyway.

More interestingly, DC has chosen two writers better known for their independent work to round out the rest of Dixon's roster. Jon Lewis, creator of True Swamp, will be writing Robin, while Terry Moore, no stranger to strong females with Strangers In Paradise, will be writing Birds of Prey. With that title being developed for television, this may turn out to be an even higher profile gig than Moore dreamed.

We'll start reading the changes this summer, and for now, they look pretty interesting.

Costumes on the way out?

Grant Morrison thinks so. In an interview with Britain's Sunday Times, Morrison claimed that after September 11, brightly colored heroes and villains clashing have lost their luster. He went on to say that he had already begun dropping the costumes for the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man. No mention of the strange coincidence that the X-Men are really just looking more like their movie counterparts, and that Morrison doesn't even write Spider-Man.

Chiming in, the redoubtable Joe Quesada agreed, saying that the whole Marvel line would be moving in a more realistic direction, with many of its heroes revealing their identities to the public.

Morrison further threatened to move back over to DC and start de-costuming their big guns as well. This would be the same DC that Morrison vowed never to work for again after initially vowing never to work for comics at all again. Genius or total wanker? You be the judge.

All I really know here is that it's impossible to license superheroes just standing around in street clothes.


Episode II trailer to debut this weekend with Monsters, Inc.

Pixar has really scored a coup. Not only will Monsters, Inc. be the only film to play the first Star Wars Episode II trailer this weekend, but Lucasfilm will also not have it available on-line until November 9.

What makes this deal particularly special is that neither Disney nor Fox had anything to do with it. George Lucas and Steve Jobs negotiated this one on their own. This should make Disney very nervous, as Pixar has been chafing under its distribution deal with the corporate giant. Contracted to a controversial three more pictures, the computer animation studio would very much like to get away from the House of Mouse. But until now, nobody else looked possible.

But if Lucas can market the crap out of The Phantom Menace, he could certainly help Pixar if they wanted to fly solo in the future.

Of course the other consequence is that Fox now doesn't get the boost of the trailer on any of their big holiday releases. Suddenly the big studios are feeling a little nervous because smaller companies are doing it for themselves and upsetting the natural order of things.

Regardless, we'll be there at Monsters, Inc. this weekend without a single twinge of guilt or sorrow, unless both movie and trailer suck.

Cage FINALLY gets to be in a comic book movie. No. Really. We mean it.

Will it be Superman? No. Ghost Rider? No. Luke Cage, Power Man? No. Nicolas Cage has finally signed, sealed, and apparently will be delivered on Constantine, the big-screen adaptation of Vertigo's Hellblazer. On board to direct is Tarsem (The Cell).

Despite the pleas of the latest screenwriter Frank Capello, John Constantine has suffered a nationality change in the translation. Now he will be an American, and The Hollywood Reporter describes the film as "Dirty Harry set in the occult world."

Constantine will be partnered with a female cop to fight against dark supernatural forces.

Anyone wishing to see the character done correctly may do well to look for Joss Whedon's upcoming BBC series Ripper, since Rupert Giles is just John Constantine gone respectable.

Watchmen takes another step

Universal Studios last week bought the rights to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen. As expected, they immediately turned to David Hayter to write the script and possibly to direct. (Even though Hayter said a few weeks ago that he would not direct it. Oh, that coy Solid Snake.)

At this point, we wish Hayter luck in a truly gargantuan task. Only Harry Potter fans could be more demanding of an adaptation.

Branagh enters The Chamber of Secrets

Yes, that was a cheap segue.

Kenneth Branagh signed last week to play the role of Gilderoy Lockhart in the second Potter film, Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, rumored to start lensing in two weeks. (And yes, Warner Brothers is doing the right thing here; if the first Potter film tanks I'll eat my prized Captain Action Green Hornet repro figure.)

Unlike Nicolas Cage and any comic book character, this is perfect casting. Lockhart joins Hogwarts as the Defense of Dark Arts teacher. Flashy with a genius for self-promotion, it quickly becomes apparent that Lockhart may not be any of what he seems.

Branagh, however, is what he seems, an incredibly talented actor, keeping with Warners' decision to fill the Potter films with the cream of British Theater. Or theatre, if you prefer.

Fox re-releases Moulin Rouge to theaters

Working to generate some Oscar-buzz, on November 21st Fox will re-release Baz Luhrmann's brilliant hallucinogenic musical Moulin Rouge in four cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco.

Possibly the best film of the year, Moulin Rouge mixes the myth of Orpheus with the decadence of late 19th-century Paris. Young Obi-Wan Kenobi himself Ewan McGregor gives the dynamite performance that you wish Lucas would let him give in the Star Wars films.

If you live in one of those four cities and haven't seen it, go.

This does not affect the scheduled DVD release of the film, currently on track for December 12.


Mutant X scores big

Marvel's syndicated series Mutant X has become America's most-watched syndicated action/adventure hour. What that really means is that it can't beat Entertainment Tonight: Weekend Edition, but have you seen the gams on that weekend host?

Anyway, despite its legal troubles with Fox (the studio claims that Marvel is ripping off their own X-Men concept), the show has clearly found its audience. Even though it wastes a lot of time copying Miami Vice visuals and underuses its talented cast members (especially John Shea, who should fire his agent), Mutant X may be worth watching just for making the mad genius villain look like Andy Warhol.

But will the devil be making guest-appearances?

In what may be the strangest news of the week, NBC has announced that they want to turn the classic ABC fictional television series Fantasy Island into a reality series.

The new show would fly contestants out to the island and allow them to live out their fantasies, as well as the consequences of same. Yes, there is nothing better than watching real people destroy their lives on national television for our amusement. Dance, monkeys, dance!

Make Warner Brothers do Batman: The Animated Series right on DVD

Because we are fanboys, we believe in the power of on-line petitions. So when Warner Brothers started making noises about releasing B:TAS on DVD, fans rallied to voice their concerns that the DVDs be released by seasons, rather than samplers as the videotape releases had been.

If you, too, want a lovely boxed set of one of the best animated series ever done (well, it kicks the ass of Superfriends, anyway), go to the Batman Boxed Set Petition site.

Frankly, I'm still waiting for the Adam West series.

This time for sure…

Delayed twice already due to national security concerns, the Emmy Awards will go on this Sunday, November 4th.

Of course, we'll all be watching Lucy Lawless on the season premiere of The X-Files, but our congratulations go out to all the lucky winners.

Derek McCaw

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