Planet Buzz 04-09-02


Captain America - Once and Future Marvel

Marvel has won a tremendous (if perhaps foregone) legal victory against legendary creator Joe Simon. Despite having accepted a payment in the sixties, Simon had filed suit against Marvel last year, claiming that the publisher did not own the rights to Captain America.

Though long assumed to have co-created Captain America with his longtime artistic partner Jack Kirby, Simon recently claimed that, in fact, Kirby came on board after the creation of Marvel's star-spangled avenger. Moreover, the duo had taken the completed character to Timely Comics (the company that evolved into Marvel) without actually giving up the rights.

This suit followed on the heels of creator Marv Wolfman's claim to Blade, which was also shot down in court. (Though Marv Wolfman and artist Gene Colan do both get acknowledgement of creating the character in the credits of Blade II.)

It is assumed that had Simon won, this mainstay of the Marvel Universe would have been free to go elsewhere, perhaps to go beat up Rob Liefeld's Superpatriot or at least Melvin DC's General Glory.

A Perfect Record - Ruined

CrossGen Comics' wild spree of releasing each and every book on time has come screeching to a halt. But it's not their fault. Their printer shifted its timetable, moving all of CrossGen's books to the end of the production week instead of the beginning.

How does that affect readers? As a result, CrossGen had to adjust its shipping schedule, pushing everything back by a week.

They've had over 200 books released on time, and now they have to start all over. But at least it's not because any artists took too much time playing videogames to draw their books…

The Black Cat Gets Her Artists…

Marvel released the cover image to Kevin Smith's Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do. Lucky us, the artists are Terry and Rachel Dodson, a couple who have been doing great work on another femme fatale, Harley Quinn.

Scheduled for release in June, Marvel describes the book thusly: "The mysterious disappearance of an old friend brings Felicia Hardy to the Big Apple in search of answers. But, as luck would have it, a certain web-slinger -- who also happens to be her ex-lover -- is following the same trail! How long will it take before they do some catching up?"

I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Chances Were She'd Come Back…

Also making a long overdue re-appearance in July is James Robinson and Paul Smith's Leave It To Chance. Last summer Image Comics announced that they would start releasing the series in annual volumes similar to the European Tin Tin books, but after that initial announcement, things got quiet.

Now Image has stated they'll finish up the current (?) storyline first, publishing Leave It To Chance #13 - 15 before launching the annual book. Please don't ask me what happened in #12; it's been so long that I can't remember. But I'm pretty sure it was good.

Bring On The Bwaa-Ha-Ha

Comic Book Resources reports that DC will be bringing back one of the eighties most beloved super-teams: the Justice League. Some of you might be scratching your head in wonder at this announcement. We're not talking about the mighty JLA, but the team that first introduced J'onn J'onnz to Oreos (or Chocos, as the DC editorial powers have transformed them).

In a series titled Formerly Known As Justice League, titan Maxwell Lord wants to get back into the hero game, recruiting as many of his old leaguers as he can muster, including the classic Blue Beetle and Booster Gold duo. Since most of the real powerhouses are spoken for by the legitimate league, the team will also be recruiting Mary Marvel.

To make true fanboys drool even more, DC has reunited the original creative team for this mini-series, bringing back J.M. DeMatteis, Keith Giffen, and Kevin Maguire. With this kind of respect for DC's past, can Ambush Bug be far behind?

Okay. You're right. I shouldn't push it.

Huh? They Were Still Publishing It?

DC also announced that they would be reducing the Batman Family of titles by one. Azrael: Agent of the Bat will be cancelled with issue 100. According to DC, wishing to emulate Bill Jemas, the book had been doing, um, Claypool numbers.

But really, fans of the book (all four of them) have had to see this coming for a long time. For an agent of the Bat, Azrael has been suspiciously absent from the past few cross-overs. Clearly Jean-Paul could care less if Bruce Wayne was a murderer, so why should we care about him?

We can find no truth to the rumor that the book will be re-launched as X-Rael.


Joy In The Marvel Universe…And A Small Town In Kansas

Weeks before they actually release Spider-Man, Sony announced that they had signed director Sam Raimi to helm Spider-Man 2. Largely assumed to be a go anyway, with stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst signed to sequel contracts, the big mystery had been whether or not Raimi would participate.

But that's not all, Spider-fans. Screenwriter David Koepp has been replaced for the sequel by none other than Smallville creators Miles Millar and Alfred Gough. Because they have a reasonable track record with one icon, it's probably safe to say that Peter Parker is in good hands. And already we're anticipating a sequel before even having seen the first film.

He'll Be Back…and Busy…

Arnold Schwarzenegger has made AOL-TimeWarnerKrispyKreme very happy, signing to do three back to back action films with high franchisability.

First off, of course, will be T3: The Rise of the Machines, followed by an acting stretch as the android gunslinger in a remake of Michael Crichton's Westworld. The original starred then 58-year old Yul Brynner as a robotic version of his role in The Magnificent Seven. (Arnie is a spry 56.) Vacationers at an adult theme park get caught when all the robot servants start disobeying commands; think Jurassic Park with circuitry.

After Westworld, though, will be the film that some of us have awaited for over a decade: the third Conan, currently called King Conan: The Iron Throne. Rumored to be produced by the Wachowski Brothers (The Matrix) with a script by original Conan The Barbarian writer/director John Milius, this film would close out the franchise with King Conan passing his legacy on to his son, Kon.

At one point, hopes had been high for The Rock to play Kon, but now Warner Brothers is looking at Vin Diesel.

What has me doing cartwheels is that it looks like Schwarzenegger's participation in Doc Savage is now by the wayside, which means that either The Rock or Diesel (either one a much better choice) could pick it up. Or Doc Savage fans can just be content with the movie in their heads.

Bond, Bond, Bo Bond, Banana Fana Fo Fond…The Name Game

The news is a bit old now but still worth reporting (sorry about the few weeks without Buzz) that the film formerly known as James Bond 20 now has a real title: Die Another Day. Starring Pierce Brosnan and new Oscar winner Halle Berry, the film aims for a Thanksgiving 2002 release.

Meanwhile, Austin Powers 3 still does not have an official title, having lost the rights to use Goldmember. Trailers have been running in theaters and on television without splashing a title about, though new rumors have surfaced that Mike Meyers has settled on one Bond parody title that MGM/UA have no power over: Never Say Member Again. (Never Say Never Again was Sean Connery's return to the role, and one of only two Bond films not owned outright by MGM/UA.)

The Texas Chainsaw Encounter Group…

New Line Cinema has announced a partnership with bombastic filmmaker Michael Bay, who intends to make smaller genre films after directing the epic disappointment Pearl Harbor.

To start off this experiment in smaller film-making, Bay plans to produce a remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this time around making it somewhat more psychologically suspenseful and less bloody.

Because, really, when I think of Leatherface, I think of a character dying for subtle treatment. He's not bad, he just wants to get under your skin…


Does Whatever a Doogie Can…

Okay, you know what? I feel a little bad about that headline. Neil Patrick Harris has certainly done enough varied stuff since Doogie Howser, M.D. that we should all just lay off. Especially now that he's about to be bitten by a radioactive spider.

That's right. Harris has landed the voice role of Peter Parker in the upcoming Bendis-scripted computer-animated MTV series Spider-Man. Singer Lisa Loeb has won the plum role of Mary Jane Watson, and former 90210 resident Ian Ziering will voice Harry Osborn.

Though the series is targeted for an October debut, in a recent press conference Marvel Entertainment bigwig Avi Arad mentioned that it could be pushed back to 2003.

The Lightstorm At The End Of The Tunnel

After winning an Oscar for directing Titanic, James Cameron has flirted with many projects but committed to none as a director. In the meantime he has gone back underwater, tried to go into space, and oh, yes, produced a television series for Fox known as Dark Angel. Even if you haven't watched it, you've lingered for seconds too long over magazine photos of its star, Jessica Alba.

Cameron has decided that he will return to directing through this show that he produces, helming the season finale of Dark Angel, scheduled for May 3.

Coincidentally (?), this high profile publicity stunt for the Fox show takes place on the same day that Spider-Man opens, a film whose rights Fox lost in a legal battle, and whose genesis began with…James Cameron, who turned his back on the project after his Oscar win. It's probably just counter-programming in the dark, but it certainly is interesting timing.

Hunt Me Down, PLEASE…

The WB has released its first publicity shot of the Birds of Prey cast, and kudos to Gotham Clocktower for pointing it out first. You can see the three leads in costume.

Also in Birds of Prey news, they have finally found someone to provide the voice for a shadowy figure whose attack many years before left Barbara Gordon in a wheelchair. Though the character is never explicitly named, brief glimpses of him will reveal green hair, bone white hands, and an evil grin. Likely embodied by a stuntman, the voice will come from Mark Hamill, who of course has carved out quite a niche for himself as a multimedia Joker.

Derek McCaw


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