Planet Buzz 04-23-02


A Black Cat Crossed DC's Path…

Over the weekend Marvel Editor-in-Chief made a huge announcement. Not only has Marvel signed J. Michael Straczynski to an exclusive contract to keep on writing Spider-Man, but they've landed another big fish to work right alongside JMS. And it means the delay, if not outright cancellation, of the revival of a DC book that fans had been anticipating.

Kevin Smith signed an exclusive two-year contract with Marvel. In addition to his upcoming Black Cat mini-series, Smith will also write Spider-Man. (Though not really specified, our guess would be Peter Parker: Spider-Man while JMS continues on Amazing Spider-Man.)

There's more to it than that, as the contract also means that future comic book visitations to the View Askewniverse (promised by Smith) may now fall under the Marvel MAX line. While it may not mean we'll see Jay meet Jessica Jones any time soon, it does impact smaller publishers such as Oni Press that had periodically gotten a boost from publishing Smith byproducts.

When asked why he did it, Smith commented that it was simply a matter of Joe Quesada asking. And the writer/director/sometime actor also felt that DC had essentially had an exclusive on him for the last couple of years anyway.

But what about the previously announced revival of The Brave and The Bold? Smith says that after his contract with Marvel expires, he'll still do it if DC is interested. Will fans still be interested?

Is World's Finest The Title, Or The Creative Team?

Jeph Loeb is shaking up things in a big way. After Superman #183, he will no longer be writing the flagship Superbook, and he's taking his entire team with him. They will move lock, stock, and barrel to launch a new title, currently called Superman & Batman. (Why not World's Finest?)

Noises have been made about this title before; it just now has a timetable.

After writing the adventure in which Batman stole back the kryptonite ring from Lex Luthor, Loeb realized that he wanted to explore the relationship between DC's biggest guns further. And even though the book will be "in continuity," it apparently won't be quite so tightly run by editorial fiat as the regular Superman titles.

And that's not all for Loeb. At WonderCon this past weekend another fan rumor came true as DC announced that not only will Loeb be taking over Batman with #608 this summer, but his partner will be Jim Lee.

Lee, co-founder of Image, former owner and head of Wildstorm Studios, has not drawn a regular book in quite some time. But he claims that he has already finished pencils for the first six issues of the run, to make sure that Batman comes out on a regular monthly schedule.

Did everyone hear that? A regular monthly schedule.

With this kind of dedication from a giant in the industry, Batman may become the book to beat in 2003.


More Wonder-Conny Goodness

DC also announced the release of the long-awaited JLA/JSA cross-over, now sub-titled Virtue and Vice. Carlos Pacheco will illustrate the story by regular JSA writers David S. Goyer and Geoff Johns.

The maguffin bringing the two teams together is the too long-forgotten Ultra-Marines, established in Grant Morrison's JLA run as a group of superheroes, some with an expiration date, that banded together to establish justice outside of American boundaries. For some reason, they've decided they have to launch a pre-emptive strike against the United States, and since the JLA barely withstood them before, this time it's going to take two teams of the world's greatest heroes.

No word on appearances by Tom Turbo, Catman, or The Green Guardsman.

Follow The Red Star…

After a tremendously successful couple of years at Image, Christian Gossett and the rest of "Team Red Star" will be moving their flagship title, The Red Star to their own imprint: Archangel Studios. The popular science fiction/fantasy comic tells of conflicts between an alternate Soviet Republic and Afghanistan in a world where sorcery holds as much power as science. Through a combination of Gossett's pencils and ground-breaking computer coloring, The Red Star has a unique look that quickly became a fan favorite.

Their previously announced humor title Buddha Master & Angst Man will still come out through Oni Press, as originally solicited.

Little Deaths Coming From Image

If you bought the first two Powers trade paperbacks, you may have noticed something was missing. This August, Image aims to take care of that.

Little Deaths, the third Powers collection, will reprint the missing issue #7 that infamously featured writer Warren Ellis as a character, and then continue on to reprint issues #12-14. As if that weren't enough (and okay, we're greedy fans, it isn't), the book will also contain the Powers Coloring Book, the Powers Annual, and the short story "Who Killed Madman?" that originally appeared in Oni Press Color Special 2001. As an even greater bonus, the first collaboration between Bendis and Oeming, a non-Powers story called "Keys," will round out the collection.

Start saving those shekels.


The Man Without Fear…Of Appearing In Spandex

Over the weekend someone leaked a picture to Aint It Cool News and Dark Horizon of Ben Affleck wearing the movie version of the Daredevil uniform. Only one problem: that clearly wasn't Affleck, and the picture on the whole looked suspiciously photoshopped. Harry Knowles didn't run the picture, though it did make the rounds across a few gossip sites.

His patience paid off (and all due props to Harry this week - he's landed a lot of cool superhero news over the past two days, especially concerning The Hulk and Hellboy). Someone from Fox leaked him a legitimate photo. Though you can't really see much in the way of detail, this shot of Affleck, in uniform and on a rooftop, still looks cool.

Affleck also got quoted this week in Entertainment Weekly, expressing his joy at playing Daredevil. He especially looks forward to how the movie will illustrate DD's radar sense.

Let's just hope that having a real fan in the role still leads to an accessible performance.

For Those Looking Ahead To Spider-Man 2

At this week's press junket for Spider-Man, Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire dodged questions about the sequel. But apparently, nobody told Kirsten Dunst not to talk about it, because she revealed that the film will follow the Batman tradition and feature two villains.

According to Dunst, Spider-Man will face off against Doctor Octopus and The Lizard. Neither really comes as a surprise, as the seeds for Doctor Octopus' origin have long been rumored to be in the film, as well as an appearance by the one-armed Dr. Curtis Connors.

Could Dunst have just been part of a cunning misinformation campaign on the part of Raimi? Most journalists were too smitten after the 19-year-old actress purred "Face it, Tiger, you've hit the jackpot" to question anything.

The Punisher Gets A Go

Variety reports that Artisan Entertainment has hired Jonathan Hensleigh to write and make his directing debut on The Punisher. No word on his approach to the material, or the film's start date, only that (as usual) Marvel Entertainment CEO Avi Arad is very excited by the possibilities.

The Punisher is one of fifteen Marvel properties currently held by Artisan Entertainment; late last year the studio cast Ray Park (Darth Maul, The Toad) in Iron Fist, but that film seems to have stalled.

This is also not the first time Hensleigh (Die Hard 3, Armageddon) flirted with a superhero. In 1998 Universal hired him to write and direct The Incredible Hulk, a film which even had some test make-up done before it went into turnaround. Now, of course, The Hulk is in production with a script by David Hayter (among others) and direction by Ang Lee.

Hensleigh has the right pulpy chops. I hope he gets to pull this one off.

Deep Mourning For Deep Throat

Linda Boreman has died at 52 as the result of injuries sustained in a car accident. If the name doesn't ring a bell, you may know her better as Linda Lovelace, the name she used when she rocketed to brief fame in the '70's as the star of the X-rated masterpiece Deep Throat.

Younguns today may hardly believe it, but Deep Throat was such a breakthrough film that it even played at first-run, mainstream movie theaters. After filming a few disappointing follow-ups, Lovelace disappeared from the public eye, only to resurface in 1980 with an autobiography claiming that she was forced into doing adult films at gunpoint. Over the last couple of decades she had been an ardent crusader against pornography, doing her best to live a quiet life in Colorado.


Homer Smash

Don't forget that this Sunday, April 28, The Simpsons will feature a guest-appearance by Stan Lee, in an episode which features Homer hulking out.

No, Fox won't let us preview the episode, but we'll still push it. That's the kind of guys we are.

Which Blade? This Blade. The Witchblade.

At long last, the second season of Witchblade has a broadcast date. On Father's Day (I can't think of a better present), June 16, TNT will present the two-hour season premiere at 7, 9, and 11. Coincidentally, one of the guest stars in that episode is actually the father of series star Yancey Butler.

After the premiere, Witchblade will move to its regular timeslot, Mondays at 9 p.m.

A Passing In The Twilight Zone

Science fiction author Damon Knight passed away last week in Eugene, Oregon, at the age of 79. A colleague of Isaac Asimov and Fredrick Pohl, Knight achieved literary immortality by writing the short story "To Serve Man," the basis for one of the most remembered episodes of The Twilight Zone.

In the story, an alien race took over our society to keep us happy and content, all the while guided by their book, To Serve Man. Humanity assumes the book is religious in nature, only to discover too late that it is, in the immortal final words of the episode, "A COOKBOOK!!"

Private services were held for Knight, followed by a buffet…nope, there's no way to phrase that joke without it being just too damned offensive. Even I have standards.

Derek McCaw


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