Saturday, February 27, 2010

Eternian Observer: Of Beasts and Men, or, Keep Your Damn Dirty Apes Out of My MOTUC Subscription





I have tried to stay away from the drama in the always-controversial world of Masters of the Universe Classics. It seems that every week or two there is some huge point of contention in the MOTUC collectors community: Hordak's half armor, Teela's waist, Battle Armor He-Man's plates, Moss Man's ears, Mo-Larr, inclusion of POP characters, etc. For the amount of passion and intensity generated, you would think we were talking about something actually important like civil rights or health care reform. That being said, there are some very legitimate issues with the line, although none of them are artistic. There have been serious problems with delivery, customer service, and the website from the beginning. All of these have to do with Matty's fulfillment service, Digital River, but now there is a very important decision being mulled over regarding the 2011 subscriptions: whether or not to include "beasts" in the subscription plan. Based on what I have seen so far, I really hope that they don't.

Note to Mattel: If you are looking to sell a new subset of a popular toyline, don't show off your most ridiculous looking character as an example of what that line is going to be.


I bought a 2010 subscription despite the fact that the bonus figures were not included and the shipping was not combined. This is where the problems begin, as Digital River is not able to walk and chew gum at the same time and do a simple thing such as combine shipping for items ordered by the same person and mailed to the same address. Rightfully, people complained about this and Matty and Toy Guru said that they would re-evaluate including the now-scaled back bonus figure program in the 2011 subscription. They then introduced a line of beasts, of which Battle Cat was the first and was incredibly popular and well-received. Additional beasts were revealed at Toy Fair, Tytus and Gygor, and now it looks as though Matty will not only be including quarterly bonus figures in the 2011 subscription but quarterly beast figures at anywhere from $30-$60 each all in one subscription.


Now, the reasonable way to do this would be to offer two or three subscription plans but Toy Guru has been clear that there will be only one subscription option. They are not entertaining the idea of tiers or bolts or anything like that. Are you just interested in only monthly figures? Tough. Are you just interested in only monthly figures and quarterly figures? Tough. You either get everything, or you take the chance of getting nothing. If you want the only way to guarantee your figures, you have to get the beasts.

Despite the greatness that is Battle Cat, I'm not feeling the other beasts we've seen, two obscure z-list characters. At their expensive price point ($30-$60), these are figures I am going to want to cherry pick. While Tytus is a cool addition to the line, I will be saving my money (and shelf space) for something else. Gygor is...a yellow gorilla in a cape. Somehow he manages to look silly even in the context of MOTU.

I find it odd that Mattel was extremely cautious about the bonus figure line and their possible inclusion in the subscription. For a long time, it was, "Let's see how Zodak does," and then, "Let's see how Goddess does," and then, "Let's see how Battle Armor He-Man does." Now they've adjusted the bonus figure program and are seemingly ready to include it in the2011 subscription after several months of trial and error. Regarding the beasts, they seem to have all but made up their minds to include them in the plan, having sold only one beast character so far. And one can hardly use Battle Cat as a gauge of the beasts as a whole, as he is a beloved core character. Even the next most popular beast, Panthor, will not do as well.

If Mattel wasn't happy with the sales of the Goddess, imagine if she had been $30 or $40 and had never appeared in any media at all. Perhaps before sticking these expensive, large-scale figures in the subscription, it would be wise to give it a year and see how they sell. By February next year, there will have been four or five beast figures released and there will be a better gauge of their popularity. Unless, of course, it Matty thinks the only way that they will be able to have the sales they want on these kinds of figures is to compel people to buy them in a subscription...

Again, the only reasonable solution is to offer multiple subscription options. Perhaps because of a lack of trust in Digital River, they will not do this. It is unfortunate that they have a dysfunctional relationship with their fulfillment company but, as a costumer, it is not something that I should have to worry about. If Matty is opposed to a reasonable option, then the only truly fair way to go is to include only monthly figures and the quarterly figures that have proven their popularity. It seems that Mattel is orienting itself to the unfortunate position of "The subscriptions are for those people who want everything," which denies the basic fact that these figures are produced in very small numbers and have become even more difficult to get off-subscription than they were last year. It has become that the subscription is almost the only way to get the figures from Mattycollector.com, and, sadly, even then the subscription is not always a reliable way to purchase these figures. Mattel should not be putting people in the position of having to buy expensive extra products several times a year just to get the monthly subscription.

Please check out this poll on the matty forums and make your opinions known:



Patrick Garone
Senior Reviewer
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TOY NEWS: More Ghostbusters Exclusives Coming to Toys 'R' Us!



In just a few short weeks, fans of Diamond Select Toys and Art Asylum will be able to take their Ghostbusters Minimates collections to an entirely new level thanks to the latest batch of exclusive Ghostbusters Minimates only available from Toys 'R' Us! This new assortment will deliver eight new Minimates and complete two sets started in previous waves as well as four new villains - including Vigo himself!


The first two-pack will feature the brilliant Egon Spengler in his Ghostbusters 2 uniform (the last missing Ghostbuster in that style) paired with the Titanic Ghost seen captaining the ill-fated luxury liner in the second Ghostbusters film. Two exclusive sets will complete the Courtroom set started with last year's Peter Venkman by pairing Ray Stantz and Egon Spengler with the dreaded Scolari Brothers - Nunzio and Tony. The final set combines two of our favorite Ghostbusters 2 characters: the near-unstoppable Vigo the Carpathian and Peter Venkman in his "World of the Psychic" ensemble - which of course includes his signature hairless cat!

All four of these exclusive sets will be available in Toys 'R' Us stores nationwide and serve as perfect compliments to the previously-released Ghostbusters Minimates sets currently available in comic and specialty stores. Look for these two-packs in the weeks to come and be sure to check out the latest updates from DiamondSelectToys.com and ArtAsylum.com as the Ghostbusters Minimate universe expands to new heights!

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TOY NEWS: Update: New art to MM wave 36 cleared



At the time of the listing in Previews the Crimson Dynamo was not ready to show, so for those of you interested, here he is.


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Friday, February 26, 2010

TOY REVIEW MOTUC BATTLE CAT



The first "beast" figure in the line, Battle Cat is likely the ultimate version of this character. He is far superior to any previous incarnation of He-Man's fighting tiger and he has far more detail and articulation than I think anyone was expecting. He is a heavy bulky figure who is well worth the $30 plus shipping that Matty was asking for him.




The first thing you are likely to notice about him in his really nice window box packaging, is just how big this new Battle Cat is. He is scaled to the figures, which are a good deal larger than any of the previous lines, so Battle Cat actually comes out to be about the size of a small house cat.


He is also directly modeled on the vintage figure, there is little to no 200X influence on the design, which is a very good thing in this case as the classic design is far more distinctive and interesting, with its large, beaked helmet and vacant eyes.



BC comes complete with his helmet and a large harness both of which are colored a dark red. The Horsemen have brought out lots of great detail on this classic design, such as a finely-lined, leathery look to the saddle as well as numerous bronzy highlights on the various bolts, buckles and rivets. The saddle area features indentations for He-Man's fuzzy shorts, allowing you to fit characters in there reasonably tightly.

Mmmm...corn.


There are also two straps on either side, ostensibly to hold the Power Sword, although these are a rather silly place to store something as precious as the Sword of He. It would have been nice if there had been somewhere closer to the saddle to store weapons. I would have also liked to have seen some sort of t-bar on the saddle for He-Man to grab on to. Also, there should be a more secure way to keep the helmet on, as it tends to shift and come off too easily.



As I said above, Battle Cat has an amazing amount of articulation for an animal figure like this and I am very relieved that all of his joints are reasonably tight. The head seems to be on a ball joint, although the sculpt prevents a lot of movement, which is a shame. You can completely rotate the head and there is some lateral play but turning the head or looking up is restricted. The jaw is on a hinge joint and opens and closes fully. The neck slides up and down and can bring BC's nose to the ground or at about chest height on the MOTUC figures, again with no lateral motion.




Unfortunately, Battle Cat cannot really look up. The legs are fully articulated at each joint, as they would be on a real cat and the paws are even on a ball joint and can be rotated. There is even a little play on the shoulders allowing BC to move his front limbs in and out a bit. The figure even features "mid torso" articulation, allowing him to arch his back somewhat or event twist at the waist (take that Teela!). The tail is made of a flexible plastic (but does not hold a shape if you bend it) and is on a combo ball and hinge joint allowing it to be posed numerous ways.



Sadly, Battle Cat sold out before many people could get him but Matty seems to be rushing him into re-release for the fall, so fans will have another shot to get this iconic Masters of the Universe character. Mattel and the Horsemen really went all out with this figure, and it most have cost them a lot to make a brand new figure, this big with this much articulation and still sell it at the relatively reasonable price of $30. Make sure you are ready to go when he is re-released or pick him up on the secondary market because no MOTUC collection is complete without the fighting tiger of Eternia.

Patrick Garone
Senior Reviewer
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COMIC NEWS: PREVIEWS Next: March issue Spotlights Image’s Spawn #203 and DC’s Brightest Day #1



New issue arrives in comic shops Feb. 24 and features products on sale beginning May 2010



Spawn creator Todd McFarlane is joined by writer Will Carlton and artist Szymon Kudranski for Image Comics’ SPAWN #203, an issue that not only marks the new creative team’s debut, but one that’s featured on the front cover of the March PREVIEWS, the comic shops’ catalog.

Image has designated March “Spawn Month,” and with this new team picking up the reigns of the ongoing title, it’s easy to see why. Carlton, Kudranski, and McFarlane start off strong, as Spawn learns of a lineage connection between himself, Clown, and Bludd, the vampire clan leader.

March PREVIEWS’ back cover demands just as much attention with a feature on DC Comics’ BRIGHTEST DAY #1, which begins the 26-issue, bi-weekly series that follows the conclusion of Blackest Night. Following the story of Blackest Night as crafted by Green Lantern’s Geoff Johns and Green Lantern Corps writer Peter Tomasi, those same scribes team once again to tell this new story impacting the entire DC Universe. A select group of DC heroes will uncover a secret that binds them, and no DC fan will want to miss finding out what it is.

March PREVIEWS editorial features:

Featured Theme
“Manga Month” – is back! Manga Month comes around every March, when PREVIEWS highlights products from publishers and creators that fuel readers’ enthusiasm for the Asian-influenced art form. Featuring a mix of material imported from overseas and created by American artists inspired by manga, the products offered during Manga Month represent some of the best on the market, and are certain to find favor with established manga-maniacs and new converts alike.

Page 2 of 2
PREVIEWS Next: March Issue’s Covers & Features
IndieEdge
Matt Wagner – This month’s creator feature spotlights Matt Wagner, the creator of Grendel who is also set to re-establish the origins of a classic hero for Dynamite Entertainment with Green Hornet: Year One. In the feature, Wagner shares his current comic reading list with PREVIEWS fans.
Sneak Peeks
In March, comic fans are given a glimpse of Dark Horse Comics’ Janet Evanovich’s Troublemaker Hardcover Book One, DC Comics/WildStorm’s A God Somewhere Trade Paperback, DC/Vertigo Crime’s Revolver Hardcover, and Image Comics’ Sam & Twitch: The Writer #1, Shadowhawk #1, and What Happened to Baron Von Shock? #1.
Bob Overstreet Interview
Overstreet Price Guide Celebrates 40th Edition—The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide has provided comic book fans, collectors, and dealers with prices, grading information, articles, and resource material for 40 years. In celebration of the milestone, Bob Overstreet, creator of The Guide, looks back on his career and the resource’s rich history for PREVIEWS readers.

Plus: Staff Picks, our Top 100 Comics and Bestseller Charts, and much more!

March PREVIEWS’ Gems of the Month

The Gems of the Month from March’s catalog include: Dark Horse Comics’ Janet Evanovich’s Troublemaker Hardcover Book One and Cardcaptor Sakura Dark Horse Omnibus Edition Volume 1, DC Comics’ Brightest Day #1 and Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne #1, Image Comics’ Sam & Twitch: The Writer #1 and Shadowhawk #1, Marvel Comics’ Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine #1, and Wizard Entertainment’s Wizard #225.

All this and more is waiting in the March issue of PREVIEWS, which hits your local comic shop on Wednesday, February 24th at a cover price of $4.50. Ask your comic shop retailer on how you can qualify for a free issue. Pre-orders are due to your comic shop by March 13th for merchandise in this issue.

For a sneak peek at this issue’s Gems, Featured Items, and more head on over to www.PREVIEWSworld.com.

To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com.



ABOUT DIAMOND COMIC DISTRIBUTORS—the world's largest distributor of English-language comic books and pop-culture related merchandise, Diamond is based in Baltimore, MD, and services more than 4,000 specialty retailers worldwide. For more information, visit Diamond on the web at www.diamondcomics.com.

ABOUT PREVIEWS: PREVIEWS is a monthly “mag-a-log” (catalog and magazine) used by comic shop retailers and over 50,000 comic shop customers to pre-order comics, graphic novels, and other pop-culture merchandise. Items solicited in each catalog are schedule two months in advance. For more information, visit PREVIEWSworld.com.


© 2008 Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. All rights reserved. Diamond, the Diamond logo, and PREVIEWS are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Diamond Comic Distributors in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective copyright owners.
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COMIC NEWS: 18 Free Comic Book Day Previews Available Now!



From cool kids comics to the greatest super-hero fare, from classic reprints to the latest stories, it’s a wide spectrum of comics covered in the Gold and Silver comic books available for Free Comic Book Day 2010, taking place Saturday, May 1, 2010!


No you can go the Comics Page of the www.freecomicbookday.com website and view six-page Previews of eighteen of the Gold and Silver titles.

Books you now have the opportunity to preview are:

Gold Titles
• Archaia Entertainment's Mouse Guard/Fraggle Rock Flip Book
• Archie Comics' Archie's Summer Splash! #1
• Boom Studios' Toy Story
• Drawn & Quarterly's YOW! The John Stanley Library
• IDW Publishing's G.I. JOE #155 1/2
• Image Comics' Fractured Fables

Silver Titles
• Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog: Hide & Seek & Destroy!
• Aspen Comics' Worlds of Aspen
• Asylum Press' Fearless Dawn/Asylum Press Sampler
• BOOM! Studio's Irredeemable #1 FCBD Edition
• Del Rey Comics' Del Rey Showcase
• IDW's Library of American Comics #0
• Marvel Comics' Iron Man: Supernova
• New England Comics' The Tick #1
• Radical Publishing's Radical: Bigger Books! Bigger Value!
• Red 5 Comics' Atomic Robo & Friends
• Storm Lion's Freedome Formula: Speed Metal Overtures
• Th3rd World Studios' The Stuff of Legend: Mortal Instruments Preview

Don't forget to also become an FCBD fan at Facebook and follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/FCBD10.

As we add the sponsor book previews we'll be "tweeting" their arrival on the FCBD website!
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COMIC NEWS: BOOM! STUDIOS REVEALS HOWARD CHAYKIN ON IRREDEEMABLE SPECIAL #1



THREE STORIES. THREE DISTINCTIVE ARTISTS!

Great entry point for new readers!



IRREDEEMABLE SPECIAL #1 is written by Mark Waid with interior art by Howard Chaykin, Paul Azaceta and Emma Rios. This special issue ships April 2010, with two covers by Paul Azaceta and Dan Panosian in a 50/50 split, a 1-in-10 incentive cover featuring art by Jeffrey Spokes and carries a Diamond Code of FEB100758.





About BOOM! Studios
BOOM! Studios (www.boom-studios.com) is a unique publishing house specializing in high-profile projects across a wide variety of different genres from some of the industry’s biggest talents, including Philip K. Dick’s DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?, The Henson Company’s FARSCAPE, and the original Mark Waid series IRREDEEMABLE. BOOM! recently launched its youth imprint, BOOM Kids!, with Pixar’s THE INCREDIBLES, CARS, and TOY STORY, as well as Disney’s THE MUPPETS, DONALD DUCK, UNCLE SCROOGE and WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES. This year, BOOM! Studios celebrates its fifth anniversary.

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COMIC REVIEW: GI Joe: Operation Hiss # 2 (IDW)



One of the strengths of great G.I. Joe Comics, is that regardless of how absurd the set-ups or plot twists or technology involved in a particular story, the characters generally acted like no nonsense military personnel. They most often made the smart, level-headed decisions that revealed their professionalism, dedication, and training.

In IDW's continuation of the Rise of Cobra based continuity, G.I. Joe: Operation HISS, somebody somewhere forgot this lesson, forgot that soldiers and especially officers are not, frankly, idiots.




On what do I base this review? The fact that in an attempt to infiltrate a private military corporation believed to be linked to Cobra, Hawk sends one of the people he can't possibly send. A person nearly any highly placed person in Cobra is going to be able to make a positive identification of. A soldier who might possibly have been engaged to one of Cobra's top agents. Who was in the US military with Cobra's Commander.

Right. Duke. How is this even possible? How is Duke even considered?

Sure, sure, you can maybe claim I'm just being the fanboy picking apart the book. But on this indefensibly stupid decision...the kind of decision no previous incarnation of Hawk would even have considered...the book falls apart for me. Some might say that with Destro, Baroness, and Cobra Commander in custody (something the first issue of the miniseries breaks out an Exposition Fairy moment to remind us of) this doesn't matter as much. Nonsense; anything connected to Cobra is still going to have too much easy access to information that will allow them to positively ID Duke.

There are things to like about this book; it introduces Dataframe (although, frankly, why it introduces a new character to do what was Breaker's job in the movie is something I don't quite understand). The art has a sharp style that I tend to like, heavy on the ink, but interesting to look at, with clearly defined and flowing action. Major Bludd is appropriately cutthroat and an interesting 'new' villain for the movie continuity, and I love his updated character design (though it could do, perhaps, with a touch less black). If you really enjoy the movie continuity, you probably won't be disappointed by this book.

Maybe Duke is front and center because, in the movie continuity, Duke simply must be front and center. Ultimately that doesn't change my central point; a G.I. Joe book in which Hawk has no critical thinking ability is not one I want to read. I wanted to like this book, and I really enjoy its art. But I can't recommend it.

Dan Ford
Staff Reviewer
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

TOY NEWS: STORMTROOPER SUPER SHOGUN



"EARLY BIRD" PREORDERS BEGIN FOR SUPER7'S STORMTROOPER SUPER SHOGUN



Super7 is set to begin accepting preorders for the Star Wars Stormtrooper Super Shogun in the manner of the original Star Wars collectibles: as part of a special "Early Bird" program. Preorders begin at 12:00pm Noon PST (3pm EST) this Friday February 26th at the website STARWARS.SUPER7STORE.COM

"Early Birds" will receive the following benefits:

* FREE SHIPPING of the mammoth toy - a $30 savings! (This offer applies to continental US only.)
* An exclusive EARLY BIRD commemorative certificate
* Guaranteed to receive the STORMTROOPER SUPER SHOGUN itself before any other customer

The retail price is $299 , and is scheduled for release on Saturday May 29th. The Early Bird preorder benefits will be offered for a limited time only.
The Star Wars Stormtrooper Super Shogun stands a whopping 24 inches tall, and includes all of the features that you expect from an authentic Jumbo: free rotating wheels on the bottom of his feet, and a spring-loaded Rocket Punch firing fist.
Utilizing the same techniques implemented by Japanese toy manufacturers in the 1970s, the Super Shogun is constructed from durable, blow-molded polyethylene with a painted vinyl helmet. The figure is articulated at the neck and shoulders, and includes a removable, highly-detailed BlasTech E-11 laser blaster, which even features a posable stock that unfolds from below the barrel. This marks the first authentic Super Shogun produced in over twenty-five years. For more information, please visit the dedicated website STARWARS.SUPER7STORE.COM.



ABOUT SUPER7
Founded in 2001 as a magazine devoted to the obsessive-compulsive world of Japanese toy collecting, Super7 embarked on a mission to become the premiere outlet for information and reference for the obscure oddities of the toy universe. The success of the magazine immediately led to Super7 collaborating with Japanese toy manufacturers to create exclusive toys and various special editions, evolving over time to Super7 designing and manufacturing its own collectible toys.

Super7's philosophy is to make products- toys, books, magazines, t-shirts, and even their own retail store in San Francisco- that its collector founders would want, resulting in Super7's products being recognized by fans as original, unique, and most of all, genuine.
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COMIC NEWS: COMICSPRO'S EXCLUSIVE IMAGE



Image Comics' makes an exclusive appearance at this year's ComicsPRO annual meeting, featuring Robert Kirkman!



Many of the nation's top comic book retailers will converge on Memphis, TN this April for ComicsPRO's Annual Members Meeting, and WALKING DEAD creator and Image COO Robert Kirkman will be delivering the keynote speech. Image Comics will also be making an exclusive appearance at the 2010 retailer event.

"While reviewing our options for the 2010 calendar, Image Comics has decided to put its focus for retailer events on ComicsPRO," said Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson. "We feel the organization does a massive amount of good for the comics industry and with the ever-growing amount of competing events, we felt the need to reaffirm our support for our retail partners by making our appearance at this year's annual meeting our sole retailer event for 2010."

ComicsPRO is the only trade organization for Direct Market comic book retailers. Their goals are not that different from trade organizations in other industries: to promote advocacy, education and opportunity for their members. Each annual meeting focuses on the many issues this unified, yet independent retailer organization faces and works towards building a stronger future. In addition to Kirkman, Stephenson and Image PR & Marketing Coordinator Joe Keatinge will also attend. The company's decision to so strongly support this year's annual meeting has been met with great enthusiasm by members of ComicsPRO's Board of Directors.

ComicsPRO President and Flying Colors Comics owner Joe Field added: "When a key supplier like Image Comics decides that their time, energy and focus are best spent meeting with ComicsPRO retailers in Memphis, it highlights the dedication Image has to professional, dedicated comics specialty retailers. We hope more retailers notice this and make plans to join us for the only retailer-directed trade event in the comics' business."

"What I admire most about Image Comics is its commitment to creators and their independence," ComicsPRO Board of Directors member and Comix Experience owner Brian Hibbs said. "It's amazing to see that same level of commitment and passion being brought to bear for the benefit of the independent comic book retailer as well. This energy and support can't help but make the best retailer-focused event that much better!"

The ComicsPRO Annual Members Meeting is March 24-27th, 2010 at the Hilton Memphis. For more information on the meeting, visit http://comicspro.org/meet10.html



Image Comics is a comics and graphic novels publisher formed in 1992 by a collective of best-selling artists. Since that time, Image has gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. There are currently five partners in Image Comics (Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, and Jim Valentino), and Image is currently divided into four major houses (Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline, and Image Central). Image comics and graphic novels cover nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable, offering science fiction, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor, and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today. For more information, visit www.imagecomics.com.
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COMIC NEWS: IDW Launches Star Trek® Movie Adaptation Comic



Six-issue series offers exclusive scenes not in film



With a record-breaking run at the box office and huge sales of the tie-in comic books, fans proved they can’t get enough of the blockbuster film Star Trek. Now, director J.J. Abrams and screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have teamed up with IDW Publishing to present Star Trek: The Official Movie Adaptation. This six-issue miniseries details every pivotal moment from the film, including scenes from the original screenplay that were not in the final movie. The same creative team that brought fans the New York Times bestselling Star Trek: Countdown will again make Trek magic.

With issue #1 available in stores this week, the Star Trek: The Official Movie Adaptation offers yet another layer to this already complex and engaging new reality. “Everything about this movie was great, and when you have so much amazing material, not all of it can make the final cut,” said IDW Star Trek Editor Scott Dunbier.

Working closely with screenwriters Orci and Kurtzman, and with the consultation of Abrams, Countdown writers Mike Johnson and Tim Jones again join forces with renowned artist David Messina on the movie adaptation.

"We are excited to bring fans a unique way to experience the movie again," said Johnson and Jones, "especially with the amazing David Messina on board. The band is back together."


Star Trek: The Official Movie Adaptation #1 (of 6; $3.99, 32 page color; a licensed product of CBS Consumer Products) is now available in stores. Diamond order code #DEC09 0908.



© 2009 Paramount Pictures Corporation. ® & © 2009 CBS Studios Inc. STAR TREK and related marks and logos are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

About IDW Publishing
IDW is an award-winning publisher of comic books, graphic novels and trade paperbacks, based in San Diego, California. Renown for its diverse catalog of licensed and independent titles, IDW publishes some of the most successful and popular titles in the industry, including: Hasbro's The Transformers and G.I. JOE, Paramount's Star Trek; Fox's Angel; the BBC's Doctor Who; and television's #1 prime time series CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. IDW is also home to the Library of American Comics imprint, which publishes classic comic reprints; Yoe! Books, a partnership with Yoe! Studios; and is the print publisher for ComicMix.

IDW's original horror series, 30 Days of Night, was launched as a major motion picture in October 2007 by Sony Pictures and was the #1 film in its first week of release. More information about the company can be found at IDWPublishing.com.
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COMIC REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS #4 (IDW)



IDW's new Transformers comic series is shaping up to be the most satisfying piece of Robots in Disguise storytelling since Transformers Animated. The plot is moving slowly and inexorably in unpredictable directions with traditional characters and factions being played against each other and old loyalties fraying in the aftermath of disastrous events and tragedy. In a world where all cybertronians are humanity's enemies, Autobots and Decepticons have split off into subfactions for survival and escape.





This issue is bookended by narration from the Decepticon jet, Thundercracker. It's nice that they have managed to give this character a little bit personality as he has always been a bit of a generic Decepticon. Here we see him broken and coming to some important realizations of humanity and earth life.

Hot Rod has become the de facto leader of a group of Autobots and Decepticons who are attempting to build a ship to escape the earth. Smooth-talking Combaticon, Swindle, is clearly buttering him up for something and even talks him into taking the name "Rodimus Prime." It's great that the writers have chosen to feature Swindle so heavily as his character has been memorable in all of his previous incarnations.

The appearance of Ultra Magnus raised the stakes and forces Rodimus farther down the path that he has chosen. Old Ultra Magnus doesn't hold with working with Decepticons, nor many other things that are against all of his regulations. He is written to be appropriately old-fashioned and inflexible. His inevitable return to the cybertronian camp, promises more conflict between the Autobots and Rodimus' camp.

IDW's Transformers is shaping up to be a fresh new spin on the well-explored G1 Transformers mythos. I am also really enjoying the art, which is a happy medium between the 80's animation style and the ridiculously complicated movie aesthetic. It manages to be modern and "cool" without sacrificing character or clarity.

Patrick Garone
Senior Reviewer
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DVD NEWS: Two-time Emmy winner James Woods voices Owlman for Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths



TWO-TIME EMMY AWARD WINNER JAMES WOODS
GIVE EVIL A SUBTLE TOUCH AS OWLMAN IN
JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS





Nobody captures villainy quite like James Woods. The two-time Emmy Award winning actor steals his every scene as the voice of Owlman in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, an all-new DC Universe Animated Original PG-13 Movie now available from Warner Premiere, Warner Home Video, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation.


Two-time Emmy Award-winning actor James Woods, pictured at the World Premiere in New York City on February 16, is the voice of Owlman in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, the next DC Universe animated original movie. The film is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, OnDemand and for Download from Warner Home Video.


In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, a “good” Lex Luthor arrives from an alternate universe to recruit the Justice League to help save his Earth from the Crime Syndicate, a gang of villainous characters with virtually identical super powers to the Justice League. What ensues is the ultimate battle of good versus evil in a war that threatens both planets and, through a diabolical plan launched by Owlman, puts the balance of all existence in peril.

video


Woods was the lone member of the cast not to record his lines in the presence of voice director Andea Romano and producer Bruce Timm, instead setting up shop in Providence, Rhode Island to record via ISDN line. You’ll never notice. In Owlman, Woods has crafted an affecting, subtly evil performance that brings forth a truly memorable villain in a film packed with the world’s most famous super heroes.

With two Emmy Awards and two Oscar nominations, Woods has drafted an impressive resume, capturing audiences’ imaginations with one memorable performances after another. In addition to Academy Award nods for his roles in Salvador and Ghosts of Mississippi, Woods’ list of films includes The Onion Field, Once Upon a Time in America, Against All Odds, The Hard Way, Diggstown, Casino and Contact, to name a few. Woods is featured in the upcoming remake, Straw Dogs. Woods’ television work has included his recent primetime series, Shark, as well as Emmy nods for Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani Story, Indictment: The McMartin Trial, Citizen Cohn and a guest role on ER. He received Emmys for his performances in My Name is Bill W. and the Hallmark telefilm, Promise.

Woods has spent more than his share of time bringing characters to animated life, parlaying his devilishly hilarious role as Hades in Disney’s 1997 film Hercules into its 65-episode television series follow-up. Since then, Woods has also voiced roles in animated film from Surf’s Up and Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within to Recess: School’s Out and Stuart Little 2. He has also had a recurring role on Family Guy and Disney’s House of Mouse.

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is an original story from award-winning animation/comics writer Dwayne McDuffie (Justice League). Bruce Timm (Superman Doomsday) is executive producer, and Lauren Montgomery (Wonder Woman, Green Lantern: First Flight) and Sam Liu (Superman/Batman: Public Enemies) are co-directors. The full-length animated film is now available from Warner Home Video as a Special Edition 2-disc version on DVD and Blu-Ray™ Hi-Def, as well as single disc DVD, and On Demand and Download.


Owlman fires a shot at Wonder Woman during an action-packed scene in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, the next DC Universe animated original movie. James Woods provides the voice of Owlman. The film is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, OnDemand and for Download from Warner Home Video.


Woods chatted after his recording session – and at the New York premiere of the film last week – about the collaborative aspects of animation, his aspirations to play villainous sidekicks, the importance of super heroes for today’s society, and his inclination never to develop a super power. Stick around, it gets better …


QUESTION:
What makes Owlman a great character?

JAMES WOODS:
Owlman is a very, very modern character. He's really the doppelganger of Batman who, himself, of course, is a very Dark Knight, torn in his motivations, wanting to avenge the death of his parents. Ultraman is the leader of the Crime Syndicate, but he’s just a tough guy who solves things more with the blunt end of a bat. He’s all brute force. Owlman is the brains of the organization, and he is a thinker, which is ironic in that his greatest strength is really his ultimate undoing.

Owlman is a very calculating, dangerous individual because of his extraordinary brain power. And at the same time, it causes him to have incredibly dark, existential reservations about his acts. He’s very self-destructive and self-loathing. The whole future of the multiverse may be in his hands in our story.


QUESTION:
Knowing all of that, how did you choose to implement those characteristics into the vocal performance?

JAMES WOODS:
You know, this process of creating a comic brought to life is very interesting, especially a sophisticated comic like this story. I had a thought of his being a very sardonic, almost charmingly sarcastic character. But I started to think that that was a little bit like Heath Ledger's wonderful performance in The Dark Knight as the Joker. And I must say that Andrea (Romano) and Bruce (Timm) were very helpful in helping to interpret the character. We settled on a very existential, depressed man, almost like a Jacobian character, who sort of feels that nothing matters. And there's nothing more dangerous than a man who has his finger on the trigger and believes that nothing matters.

It's a wonderful character to work on because you have to do certain things with your voice. I'm a very passionate, animated actor. There are people like William Hurt, a wonderful Academy Award-winning actor, who are great at being very spare in the use of their voice. I am a guy who's a little more dynamic, so for me to repress myself, it leads to a kind of different character than I usually get to do. It's a lot of fun for me to play something that's not innately or instinctively what I would do. And then the great collaboration comes from these wonderful artists, including the director, the producer, the writer. Everybody has an artistic vision of how things should be and, when you work together, you come up with some confluence of ideas that creates a unique character. I really think we came up with something nice.


QUESTION:
Can you elaborate on the romantic side of Owlman?

JAMES WOODS:
In our story, Owlman and Superwoman have this strange, power-hungry kind of, I won't call it love affair, but certainly a strange attraction. And it is the dark side of love, so it involves all kinds of power and domination. Owlman really makes her need him without giving her any kindness. That's the nature of a dark, dark character like this. So they have this really brutal, bitter kind of love. And to get that kind of tone into it was kind of strange, because it's not what love would be about. So you have to do things that are kind of counterintuitive, but it's fun to try it.


Owlman flies into battle in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, the next DC Universe animated original movie. James Woods provides the voice of Owlman. The film is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, OnDemand and for Download from Warner Home Video.


QUESTION:
What's the joy for you in playing a villain, particularly this type of cerebral one?

JAMES WOODS:
Villains are the best characters to play because the possibilities are really quite endless. A hero has certain things that we expect of him or her, while a villain can be pretty far out there. Owlman wants to destroy everything, and yet is fascinated by how the world became so awful, in his mind. And he blames it on man and on choice.

All the things that we as civilized human beings celebrate – the freedom of being able to choose and to have free will – Owlman sees as the source of chaos throughout the universe and the alternate universes. He sees everything wrong in all of these universes as being a permutation of choice. I think most people would agree that choice has allowed people to create, to put man on the moon and write Hamlet. And people can aspire to do good. Owlman see the opposite -- he sees the celebration of evil as a way of asserting one's meaning in life, and the way to have meaning is to have things be meaningless. It's a strange, strange thought, but there are pretty sophisticated 20th century existential philosophers who've said the same thing. It’s pretty impressive to realize that comic books get that fundamental in terms of a philosophical understanding of the human condition. It's much more sophisticated than you expect when you get involved with doing an animated super hero movie.


QUESTION:
Is that a direct reflection of why comics are so popular?

JAMES WOODS:
Comics have never really talked down to their audience. The comics have always respected what the audience wants. I have always said that one of the greatest faux pas made by the denizens in the film business is that they tend to want to put their own personal points of view – whether they be political, spiritual, religious, whatever – on their stories and promote their own agenda rather than respect what the audience is looking to hear and see. We should get into their wheelhouse and not be ashamed to sell a hero to people who love the idea of good versus evil. You know good versus evil worked great for Sophocles? It worked great for Shakespeare and it certainly works great for Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern … and Owlman.


Owlman (voiced by James Woods) gets the upper hand on Batman (voiced by William Baldwin) in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, the next DC Universe animated original movie. The film is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, OnDemand and for Download from Warner Home Video.


QUESTION:
Was there a stash of DC Comics on your nightstand as a kid?

JAMES WOODS:
I don't know anybody in America who didn't read Superman and Batman. I was young enough that I actually watched George Reeves on television, and when he took off, I would believe it like any other kid. It was amazing that he was flying around in that black and white television. He used to hop and probably crash on a set of cardboard boxes right off the camera. But to me, there he was – Superman – flying around, saving the day.

I actually liked the idea of Superman because it was so pure. I liked the guy who was kind of away from his own home and, in a kind of way, a little lonely, but trying to do good in a place where he was always kind of an outsider. Batman always disturbed me because he was so dark and so full of sadness and rage. It's interesting because playing Owlman is full of an emotion that is actually probably less angry and vengeful, and almost demonic in its passion than Batman. Owlman’s darkness is such an empty void of soullessness.

And yes, I’ve always been a fan of the comics, especially in their reflection of the times. Our country has gone through enormous cultural changes in the past 50 years, and DC Comics was always very hip to those changes. They weren't afraid of them. They just wanted to ride with them. They know their audience.


QUESTION:
Would you like to be a super hero?

JAMES WOODS:
I like the idea of being Owlman. He’s got it made. Think about it. The dark side of all these superpowers is that, as a super hero, you’re always inclined to use them for everybody else. What makes that so great? You're sitting around, the clicker in hand. You're in your nice old pajamas, you’ve got your Uggs on, you just settled in to watch Gladiator for the 58th time. You got some popcorn, the pizza just arrived – it's gonna be terrific. And suddenly it’s “Oh crap, they just blew up the U.S. Mint!” And I’ve got to put on that rubber suit – and don’t forget the talcum powder – and rush into action. Who wants to wear latex all the time? Harvey Fierstein? Not me. I don't want any superpowers. If they offer, I’ll politely decline.


QUESTION:
You’ve played a lot of characters in both live-action and animation. What role are you still waiting for?

JAMES WOODS:
I would like to do a doofy henchman. I'm always the guy in control. I'm always going to destroy the universe and then I'm gonna go get a sandwich. (he laughs) I’d like to be the guy who says “Hey, I can go and get the sandwich for you while you destroy the universe, and then we can go get some key lime pie.” I'm so tired of being the “A” personality in the villainy department. Give me the goofy henchman. I think that would be fun.


QUESTION:
When you portray real life figures like cops and lawyers, you can research, you can talk to cops, you can talk to lawyers. In playing a superhero, what kind of research did you do before you stepped into the booth?

JAMES WOODS:
That is an interesting thing that people don't understand about animated work. The voice actor does a lot to create the character. It's amazing. I mean, obviously the writers and the directors and the producers have set up months or years of work to prepare it. But I've been in situations where, unfortunately, maybe an actor was replaced, not because he was doing a bad job, but because it just wasn't working somehow. It's a very unique thing. For all these big animated movies, no matter who you are, you audition. Mel Gibson at the height of his career, had to audition. Everybody does – because they want to hear the voice, and sometimes you come in with a slant that will bring the character to life. I did a television series called Shark. I played a very sophisticated lawyer, a very dark guy. We had a former Dream Team district attorney as one our technical advisers. Five of the writers were lawyers. So we had all the resources to make the characters real. But there’s no place you can go to ask how a super hero behaves. You don't get to ask those questions. You kind of have to figure it out. So you go in with an open mind and things kind of just come to you.

Sometimes you really fall flat on your face, and I'm sure we all have. But by and large, usually everybody figures it out together. And it's fun. Really fun. I love doing these animated films because I think the actor has a great deal more input into the creation of the character than he or she does when you're doing a real-life film, even though there's a lot more acting involved when you're being photographed. In animation, you have the possibility of improvising. We work alone and use a great deal of imagination, and rely just on our instincts to create the character.

QUESTION:
Was there any particular scene in the script that stood out for you?

JAMES WOODS:
There's a wonderful sequence in this story where Owlman and his opposite spiritual twin, Batman, have a confrontation about the future of the multiverse, all the universes, all the earths that were created. And it was a very sophisticated conversation about the existential meaning of life. I'm reading this thing and thinking, “This is a comic book character talking?” I mean, it was very sophisticated, and I found myself wondering how you would do that.

I thought, this is like The Remains Of The Day with Anthony Hopkins -- it's that kind of character. He's a character speaking with such a loss of any ability to dream for anything good. It was all about a dark, empty void of the meaningless existence. When you read something that deep, you find yourself instinctively going to a better level of performance. So it wasn't a challenge so much as an invitation to be unique and maybe better.


QUESTION:
Have you had any reaction from your fans – or the legions of fanboys – to your playing the role of Owlman?

JAMES WOODS:
They talk about fanboys and the Comic-Con audience and so on, calling them geeks and such. But I have to tell you – those guys know what they like, and they embrace the hard work that goes into these stories. And it's really fun to give them what they want, because I'm a fanboy at heart. I'm much older than the usual base, but I have to say – I love these characters. And I love being one of them. I would be Owlman forever. I love the concept.


QUESTION:
Why do you think super heroes important today to people?

JAMES WOODS:
I think there aren't a lot of heroes in the world today because there aren't a lot of clear cut battles. It's really hard to know who the enemy is today. I don't know who the enemy is. I know we are at war, but I don't know who the enemy is. And I don't think anybody else does. It's like the enemy is famine and despair and the banality of evil. In comparison, World War II was easy. Hitler was a good enemy – a dark character who did heinous things to millions and millions of people, and enlisted the help of others who may or may not have been inclined to do so until he inspired them to be at their worst.

But in this day and age, there are people who hate people that other people completely admire. And the people who admire that person are decent people. I think our politics are so divisive in this country and so bitter because I don't think anybody on either side of the political divide has a bad intention. I think they want things to be good, they just see a very, very different way of going about it. And yet they're so hard on each other. I'm always disappointed by how negative and petty people are on either side of the equation in politics. And that's a symbol of how disruptive our spirituality is right now in the world. I think that's why super heroes are important because, in the long run, at the end of Act III, their triumph is something that fills us with joy because their triumph is a clear cut victory in a world where almost nothing is clear cut.


For more information, images and updates, please visit the film’s official website at www.JUSTICELEAGUECRISIS.com.
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

COMIC REVIEW: 28 Days Later # 7 (BOOM! Studios)



The story of Britain after the infected have taken over continues in BOOM! Studios' 28 Days Later #7. Michael Alan Nelson and Declan Shalvey return as writer and artist, with Tim Bradstreet and Sean Phillips on cover duty. Selena and crew are fighting to survive and find help for Derrick. In this issue, they encounter fellow survivors who send them on a hunt for supplies, but Selena and Clint find themselves on a completely different mission.




This issue was a great continuation of the first 6 issues, and I thought it fell in well with the films. It's a title that I look forward to reading to see what happens to the characters. So often in film prequels/sequel comics the stories are, shall we say, less than stellar. Not so with this title. Nelson creates a story that makes me care about the characters, more so than seeing the infected, much like Walking Dead. That's what makes a good zombie story to me, when it's more about the survivors.

If you liked the movies or if you are just a fan of a good zombie/survivor story to read, pick this up. It's another great title from BOOM!

Stacey Rader
Senior Reviewer
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COMIC REVIEW: We Will Bury You (IDW)



What do you get when you mix flappers, a secret affair, and zombies? Heroes star Brea Grant, her brother Zane, and artist Kyle Strahm give us the answer in IDW's We Will Bury You. I am always up for a good zombie story, especially an anachronistic zombie story, so I was very excited to read this one. But does this zombie tale rise above the hordes of zombie titles already out there




Sometimes when you see a TV or movie personality's name on a book, it can mean that it's not so great. In this case, however, it's not true. Brea and her brother have written an interesting twist on the old zombie story by setting it against the turmoil of the Roaring 20s. Mirah, a dime-a-dance girl, is stuck married to Henry. Henry is not so fond of women, or at least he's not so keen on the value of women. And that's fine, since Mirah has another iron in the fire. On top of that, people are starting to riot in the streets, but this isn't any ordinary riot.

Ben Templesmith's cover art is a great introduction to this title, and Kyle Strahm's art complements the story. His zombies are grainy and gory, and I loved the fly that flew throughout the book. As the story progressed, the fly became more flies based on the zombie action.

This title is definitely one to watch. It's a well-written tale that I'm excited to see as it develops. Pick it up at your local comic shop, and prepare to be buried in this story.

Stacey Rader
Senior Reviewer
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COMIC NEWS: Today, We Will Bury You



Zombie epidemic sweeps 1920s New York City in all-new series

Co-written by Heroes star Brea Grant and in stores now

Signing at Desert Island Comics this Friday



In 1920s New York City, life is hard — and then the zombies appear. Actress Brea Grant (Heroes, Halloween II) and her brother, Zane, weave a historical horror in We Will Bury You, available today in comic stores everywhere and in digital form for the Sony PSP tomorrow. The four-issue series follows two unlikely heroines from the margins of society as they fight to survive and battle the spreading zombie infection. Desert Island Comics in Brooklyn, NY, will host the sibling team for a signing of their first comic this Friday, February 26th at 7 p.m.

“Zane and I have been working together on music or other creative endeavors for a long time,” said Brea Grant. “We have a similar sense of the world, sense of humor and work ethic, so it just really works out.”

We Will Bury You is set during the Roaring Twenties, a time of great change for American society. The Grants add the chaos of zombies to this already challenging era to create an ingenious new horror story that offers an engaging look at the human condition.

“Besides the aesthetic of the Roaring Twenties being a great and underused environment for horror, there were a lot of big changes going on during that time period,” said Zane Grant. “The country was divided in a lot of complicated ways that are still relevant today.”

Artist Kyle Strahm provides the series’ stark images, with covers by Ben Templesmith (Wormwood), Eisner-winner Nate Powell, Trevor Hutchison (Transformers: All Hail Megatron) and Nathan Fox (DMZ).

“We wanted someone who could conceptualize both the beauty of the era and the grotesque nature of the zombies,” added Brea. “Kyle’s [We Will Bury You #1 sample art]portfolio had these amazing, scary monsters alongside futuristic images and realistic faces. Everything he draws feels a little mystical, yet bizarre. He has no trouble showing the sickening nature of what we were visualizing.”

Issue #1 debuts today, February 24th, and sets the stage for disaster, introducing the series protagonists and painting a historically accurate picture of this pivotal time. The series is available both in print and digital formats. We Will Bury You #1 on the PSP will also feature audio commentary from the Grants, discussing the process of creating such a unique story.

“Brea and Zane have crafted a compelling story with a unique take on the zombie subgenre,” commented IDW editor Denton J. Tipton. “Their shared love for the comics medium really shines through, as does their understanding of dramatic storytelling, all delivered with a distinctive voice.”


We Will Bury You #1 (of 4; $3.99; 32 page) is now available in stores. Diamond order code DEC09 0924.

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DVD NEWS: Writer Steve Niles Infuses Horror Into the Super Hero Realm with First-Ever Animated Take on "The Spectre"



Inaugural DC Showcase short appears on Blu-ray/DVD
release of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths





Renowned horror/comics writer Steve Niles adds his special touch of terror to the first-ever animated version of The Spectre, the initial entry in the DC Showcase series of animated shorts. The Spectre is being distributed February 23 by Warner Home Video as part of the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Blu-ray/DVD.


Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) is the screenwriter of The Spectre, which is being distributed February 23 by Warner Home Video as part of the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Blu-ray/DVD.


From the creative forces behind the DC Universe animated original PG-13 movies, DC Showcase puts the spotlight on favorite characters from throughout the annals of DC Comics in fascinating, short-form tales sure to entertain longtime and new fans alike.

The Spectre focuses on a detective story with an ethereal twist, featuring the otherworldly character originally introduced by DC Comics in 1940. The voice cast is led by Gary Cole (Entourage) as the title character and Alyssa Milano (Charmed) as Aimee Brenner.


The Spectre makes his animated debut as the title character in the inaugural entry within the DC Showcase series of animation shorts. Gary Cole (Entourage) provides the voice of The Spectre, which is being distributed February 23 by Warner Home Video as part of the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Blu-ray/DVD.


Niles is one of the comtemporary writers responsible for bringing horror comics back to prominence. Named by Fangoria magazine as one of it’s 13 rising talents who promise to keep us terrified for the next 25 years, Niles is currently working for seemingly all of the top American comic publishers. His current ongoing series is “Simon Dark” for DC Comics with artist Scott Hampton, and “Batman: Gotham After Midnight” with artist Kelley Jones.

In 2002, the success of his “30 Days of Night” sparked renewed interest in the horror genre, and was developed as a major motion picture with Sam Raimi producing and David Slade directing. Niles co-wrote the screenplay. The film debuted as the No. 1 movie at the domestic box office. Also in development are adaptations of Wake the Dead with director Jay Russell, and Criminal Macabre and The Lurkers.

Niles got his start in the industry when he formed his own publishing company called Arcane Comix, where he published, edited and adapted several comics and anthologies for Eclipse Comics. His adaptations include works by Clive Barker, Richard Matheson and Harlan Ellison. IDW released a hardcover and softcover collection of Niles' adaptation of Richard Matheson's “I Am Legend.”

Niles has been nominated for multiple Eisner Comic industry awards and was the recipient of two Spike TV Scream Awards for Best Horror comic and Best Comic Adaptation. He also won the Scribe Award for Best Original Novel in 2007.

Currently his graphic novel “Freaks of the Heartland” is being developed for film by David Gordon Green. Niles is also writing a major videogame property that will soon be announced.

Niles took a pause from his daily marathon writing schedule to chat about The Spectre. Here’s what he had to say …


QUESTION:
How familiar with The Spectre were you entering this project?

STEVE NILES:
My knowledge of The Spectre was fairly minimal. I had done a series called Batman Gotham County Line, where I had used a few of the supernatural characters. For that writing, I looked at Dr. Fate and Spectre, but in that case, I went with Phantom Stranger.

Within six months, I got a call from Todd Casey at Warner Bros. Animation asking if I’d be interested in writing this short, and that’s when I got really interested in him – and he does fascinate me now. I dove headfirst into all of the 1970s Spectre stuff, and the more I read, and the more I talked to Bruce Timm about the him, the more I fell in love with the character. Judge, jury, executioner. He kills. I wish I had been more into the character before because he’s perfect for me.


Detective Corrigan has a slight edge on most investigators in The Spectre, the first entry within the DC Showcase series of animation shorts. The Spectre is being distributed February 23 by Warner Home Video as part of the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Blu-ray/DVD.


QUESTION:
So The Spectre really hits home for you?

STEVE NILES:
I have a big affection for crime and noir, and a big affection for horror, and The Spectre is the one character that I can literally combine them. He can be a detective when I need him and, then, when he gets the confession out of you, I can have him kill you. He’s very Ditko-esque, or even a kind of Rorschach. But I like The Spectre better in that, because he’s a dead guy and he’s haunted, you trust his judgment a little more. You figure he’s justified. That’s why Batman doesn’t kill – he can’t judge a living peson. But this is a guy who is dead, he knows how the system works, he understands the ramifications, so he figures he can save us all a dime … and kill them with a muscle car.

I remember as a kid reading The Spectre comic and the true fun of it was that this guy had a flair for the ironic in his retribution. There was this issue where a hairdresser gets killed by giant scissors. I loved that so much. It makes it such fun to write a character who gets to look into each bad guy, see what makes them work, and then turn that on them. It’s like he gets to give them a little taste of hell before he sends them to hell.


QUESTION:
You’ve worked in a number of mediums, but this is the first time in animation. How did that experience compare to comics, film, etc.?

STEVE NILES:
I loved it. I find it really liberating working in other people’s sandboxes. Tell me what your rules are, and I can stay there and have fun, instead of just staring at a blank piece of paper. It was fun working with Alan (Burnett) and Bruce (Timm) and bouncing ideas off them. They say “too much dialogue,” I say “Okay, cut it out.” There can be no ego in this writing. And it was probably the easiest time I’ve ever had writing something. I’ve had lots of fun writing movies and comics, but this was just plain fun. The worst part of the whole experience was that we had to lose one of the killings, but that was no big deal. And that’s as bad as it got.


A bit of romantic history flows between Detective Corrigan and Aimee Brenner in The Spectre, the inaugural entry within the DC Showcase series of animation shorts. Gary Cole (Entourage) and Alyssa Milano (Charmed) provide the voices of Detective Corrigan and Aimee Brenner, respectively. The Spectre is being distributed February 23 by Warner Home Video as part of the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Blu-ray/DVD.


QUESTION:
“No ego”? But you must still feel a certain amount of pride to finally earn your first “written by” credit for The Spectre?

STEVE NILES:
Even 30 Days of Night was a “story by” credit and I had the “script” credit divided with three other people. This is the first time, love it or hate it, that I can watch the film and say, “That’s my freaking dialogue.” The Spectre is the most complete thing I’ve ever had go from script to screen, and that in itself is really exciting for me. Being able to see what you write actually get onto the screen is phenomenal and so hard in movies.


QUESTION:
Did you work closely with Bruce Timm on this project?

STEVE NILES:
I’ve been a fan of Bruce Timm for years, and we had never had an opportunity to meet. Ironically, I was doing last minute edits on the script on the way to Seattle for a Con and he was sitting right next to me – and that was the first time we met. He’s as big a nerd as me. We like the same comics, we both love the 70s … we’re both fans of guys like Herb Trimpe, Frank Robbins, Sal Buscema, Jack Kirby. We do the classic geek stuff, sitting around and talk about this stuff, and buying comics we’ve already bought before. Right now I’m on a major Spectre binge, buying every damn Spectre I can get my hands on. The Golden Age art looks insane, but fortunately the prices on those will keep me in check.


QUESTION:
Will viewers find Steve Niles’ fingerprints all over this script?

STEVE NILES:
There’s a lot of me in this script, and people that know me will see that quickly and throughout. If I could do a comics series called “Monsters and Muscle Cars,” I’d be a happy guy. I have a 1973 Nova that I keep running. When I’m not writing, I’m out driving in that. I love that damn car.

I also have a big love for noir, so there’s an homage to, say, speech patterns that sound like Fred MacMurray from Double Indemnity. This script offered some great opportunities to throw a lot of this stuff I love into it. As well as to take a nice swipe at Hollywood greed, which is such an easy target, but still fun. The people who know me who have seen it say “Geez, why didn’t you just put yourself into it.” I guess I should’ve just had the Spectre kill me.


QUESTION:
Did Warner Bros. ever curtail your freedom in creation?

STEVE NILES:
The funny thing is that I was going to be more restrained. I thought, “Well, I can’t rip heads off.” And they were saying, “No, come on. Let’s see what you’ve got.” I think people will be surprised at how actually scary this thing is. It’s a good little horror story.

DC SUPER HEROES and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © DC Comics.
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