Posts Tagged ‘Alice in Wonderland

14
Sep
11

Classic EBI #108: The New Mosaic Comics

DC Comics has been having something of a string of good fortune lately with their New 52 venture, leading to some geeks to speculate whether or not Marvel Comics should follow suit. Now I’m not saying that I think Marvel should. I’m just saying that if they did, this is a 52-title Marvel Universe I would be interested in reading…

Everything But Imaginary #415: My Marvel 52

And in this week’s classic EBI, we go back to March 2005, a time when I’d been having a particularly crappy string of luck and I needed some cool comics to cheer myself up. Fortunately, those were easy to find.

Classic EBI #108: The New Mosaic Comics

When I’m having a particularly lousy week (as those of you who follow my blog know I’ve been having in epidemic proportions lately), there are few things that are as certain to cheer me up as finding a new comic book that I really enjoy. So I lucked out Friday when I went into ol’ BSI comics and picked up a copy of Lullaby: Wisdom Seeker from Image Comics and Alias Productions.

I am, as is well known, a big fan of children’s literature. I adore the works of L. Frank Baum and Lewis Carroll. I think The Chronicles of Narnia are great literature, and one Saturday this summer I’m going to be waking up like a kid at Christmas ready to get the new Harry Potter book. I’m also a big fan of Mike S. Miller, who’s writing this book along with Ben Avery and creator Hector Sevilla on some beautiful artwork. So Lullaby was an easy sell to me.

Here’s the basic plot – the story starts in a version of Wonderland where Alice never made it home. In fact, she doesn’t even remember her life in the “real” world except as vague dreams and shrounded memories. She has risen through the ranks and become the right hand of the infamous Queen of Hearts. Now there is unrest in the lands of imagination, and she sets out to find the source.

Lullaby is, in essence, a patchwork of twisted versions of these classic children’s stories. In addition to this new Alice, we’re also faced with a version of Jim Hawkins (of Treasure Island) who joined up with Long John Silver’s pirate crew and a spritely Pinocchio who was turned back into a puppet and, rather than break his father’s heart, fled to the other lands in hopes of finding the Wizard of Oz to restore his lost humanity.

So no, these aren’t exactly the characters we all grew up reading about, but they aren’t too far removed either. Alice is still a little girl who longs to go home, Pinocchio still yearns to be a real boy and, although Jim isn’t explored too deeply in the first issue, you get the sense that he joined the pirate’s life out of a thirst for adventure rather than gold.

Reading the book, however, immediately brought to mind two other recent comics, both of them critical and commercial successes, that use the same idea of snatching characters from disparate sources and putting them together. Here we’re talking, of course, about Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Bill Willingham’s Fables. Comics have long taken characters from different settings and combined them, going back to the very first stories of the Justice Society of America, which took the most popular characters from the then-National Comics and put them in a book together. At the time, such a thing had never been done. Decades later, it was common for superhero universes to have sort of an “all-star” team – the Justice League of America, the Avengers and so on. What Moore did with the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was transplant that idea back a century. Who were the superheroes at the end of the 1800s? Well, that would be like likes of Allan Quartermain, Captain Nemo, the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll (and Mr. Hyde) and Mina Murray. (And go ahead and pan the movie if you must, but I thought the addition of an adult Tom Sawyer was a nice touch.) Who would the supervillains be? Clearly, the likes of Dr. Moriarity, the invading Martians from War of the Worlds and perhaps even some of the “heroes.”

Moore turned out two volumes of this critically acclaimed comic book (this isn’t that big a trick for him – Alan Moore could publish a recipe for prune-flavored flan and the comic book press would declare it a masterpiece) and supposedly a third is forthcoming. It wasn’t the first time such an idea had been attempted, but it was certainly one of the best comics ever to use the idea of stitching together such disparate characters.

Then of course there’s Fables. If you don’t know what Fables is, you must not read this column much because I praise it all the time. The brainchild of Bill Willingham, Fables is a story of fairy tale characters driven out of their homeland and into our “real” world by the invading forces of a mysterious entity called the Adversary. Living among humans for hundreds of years, some have resigned themselves to their existence, while others still believe they can one day find their way home. Of all the “mosaic” comics I’m talking about this week, I think Fables has, hands-down, the most expansive cast: Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, Prince Charming, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio, Thumbelina, Old King Cole, Little Boy Blue, Jack of the Tales, Ichabod Crane, Beauty and the Beast, Baba Yaga, Little Red Riding Hood, the Three Little Pigs, Robin Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Beauty and the Beast and Flycatcher, just to name a few, have all been a part of this story. And while so far the Fables we’ve encountered have been mostly European or North American in origin, Willingham promises that future storylines will expand to Fables of other cultures as well.

You wouldn’t think that sort of thing was really so unusual for a comic book fan. We’re used to seeing team-ups. We’re even used to seeing team-ups among really bizarre groups of characters – Alien Vs. Predator, Superman/Madman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Flaming Carrot – even Archie Andrews has met the Punisher.

And it’s not that unusual to see these characters combined in other medium, either. Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula novels cover over a century in which Bram Stoker’s Dracula survived and unleashed vampires across the world – but along the way Newman references real people and fictional characters freely. Jack the Ripper and Edgar Allan Poe make appearances alongside representations of James Bond, Superman, Dr. Strange, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and even – in a brief Red Baron joke during World War I – Charles Schulz’s Snoopy.

So why is it stuff like Moore’s League seems so revolutionary to us?

Without sounding like a snob… I kind of think it’s because these are all characters from outside of comic books. We’re used to crossovers with comic book characters – or at the very least, characters that have a firmly-established presence in comics (like Aliens). It’s different when you’re talking about characters from other sources. A lot of the general public, if you tell them you’re reading a comic book, may turn up their nose at you. But if you tell them you’re reading a comic book where the Island of Dr. Moreau is a setting, that may elicit a gem of curiosity. If you tell them about Pinocchio and Jim Hawkins sailing off to the land of Oz, people who loved those books as children will want to know what you’re talking about. And if you mention that one of the best love stories in comics is currently between Snow White and the Big Bad Wolf, they’ll have to ask you where that’s coming from.

I think one of the reasons that comics like these three are arcing up in popularity is because we comic fans realize, on some level, that this is the kind of thing that could potentially grab other readers. Someone who loves the Oz books may want to read Lullaby. Someone who was raised on Allan Quartermain will want to check out the League. Someone who studies folklore will want to see how it is being treating in Fables.

The trick, as always, is getting the word out. The League movie, unfortunately, flopped (although I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as some people say). But there’s word that a Fables film may be in the works, and Lullaby would be perfect as an animated feature. If those audiences can be grabbed and lured back to the comic books, that would be a very good thing.

Then there’s the other reason that comic fans like these three titles – the most important reason. They’re all really, really good.

Who knew? Maybe you can get something out of those books without pictures after all.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: March 22, 2005
It was a surprisingly good week for comics, last week, friends. Aside from the aforementioned Lullaby, there were also very strong showings from Runaways, JLA: Classified and New X-Men: Academy X, but narrowly taking the top spot for me was New Avengers #4. This team is slowly growing on me, I must admit. Brian Michael Bendis has found a logical explanation for the characters on the team now and has thrown in a good bit of mystery as well. His characterization is top-notch, and while some may think Spider-Man’s constant quips are annoying, I think they clearly indicate how nervous the character is to be counted among such an auspicious group. While the impending inclusion of Wolverine still bugs the screaming bejeezus out of me, so far, the book is really a solid read.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginnerand the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the2 in 1 Showcase Podcast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.comand visit him on the web at Evertime Realms.Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.
01
Feb
11

The movies of 2010… Yep, you read it right

Okay, gang. Just before the new year celebrations kicked off, I was about to do the obligatory “best movies of the year” post, only to realize I hadn’t actually seen all that many movies made in 2010. To correct this, I added a buttload of 2010 movies to my Netflix queue and moved ’em up to the front. Since then, I’ve been cycling through them relatively quickly in the hopes of putting together a more comprehensive list. Well…by the time I was done, I’d racked up 39 2010 releases… still not enough to average one a week for the year, but better than the 22 I had at the end of December. So let’s take a few minutes and talk them out.

My Favorite Movies of 2010:

1. Toy Story 3: This should be no surprise, if you know anything about me. The Toy Story films have always been remarkably powerful, character-driven masterpieces of animation, and this may have been the best of the lot. Wonderful, emotional, and uplifting. There was no other film last year I loved nearly as much.

2. Inception: Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller took an intriguing idea — traveling into the dreams of others — and blended it with all the best elements of a heist movie to create a mind-bending trip through the subconscious. It’s not an easy movie, it’s a movie that demands your attention, and in the end I don’t think there are nearly enough of those.

3. True Grit: I love a good western, and while I was initially nervous about anybody taking on Rooster Cogburn after John Wayne’s legendary performance, this movie more than set my mind at ease. Not a remake of the Wayne movie, but rather another take at filming the novel, the Cohen Brothers and Jeff Bridges made this story their own in a remarkable way. Matt Damon and Josh Brolin also turned in good performances, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld held her own against some of the greatest actors working today. She more than deserves the Oscar nomination she just got.

4. The Social Network. I, like you, have heard a lot of debate about the accuracy of the Aaron Sorkin/David Lynch take on the life of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, and I certainly am not qualified to speak about how accurate the movie was. But taken just as a pure movie and not a historical document, the film is a brilliant character study of someone who’s a narcissist with potential. There are no heroes in this film, just villains, victims, and a few people (including Zuckerberg himself) that seem to straddle the line between the two.

5. The Town. This one snuck in at the last minute — I just saw it yesterday. Ben Affleck, again proving that he can actually direct, helms this heist film based on the novel by Chuck Hogan about a bank robber who starts a relationship with a hostage who doesn’t know he’s the man who kidnapped her. This isn’t a high-action, thrill-a-minute heist like Ocean’s 11, or even the aforementioned Inception. Yes, there is action, and it’s good, but like most great films, this is much more about the characters, where they come from, and where they may wind up.

Big Surprises of 2010

This is a category for movies that may not have cracked the top 5, but were way better than I expected them to be. Here they are, in no particular order:

Batman: Under the Red Hood. Based on a kinda mediocre Batman comic book and written by the same man who wrote said mediocre comic, this tale of the return of the second, long-believed dead Robin really packed a whallop. It’s strange, the only significant change in the plot was the removal of one element that didn’t really make any difference at all. Is the dreaded “Superboy Prime Punch” the only thing that made us think the comic book was weak, while this animated film was great?

Easy A. When I saw the trailers for this Emma Stone comedy very loosely based on Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, I dismissed it as a stereotypical brainless teen comedy. Instead, I found a really smart film about high school politics, the power of perception and peer pressure, and the importance of self-acceptance. The cast was really funny and talented, and in the end, I felt like I’d spent my two hours very wisely.

Hot Tub Time Machine. Where Easy A just looked a bit typical, the trailers for this looked outright moronic. Still, I pulled it in from Netflix and was delightfully surprised. John Cusack, Craig Robertson and Rob Cordray star as three friends who get tossed back in time to re-live the greatest weekend of their lives. The film gets deeper than that, though, playing with time travel theory, the delicate balance of family and friends, and what it takes to give a few guys past their prime the spark back. The movie turned out to be part Back to the Future and part City Slickers, with a few 80s ski comedies mixed in for flavor. I couldn’t believe I loved it.

Worst Movies of 2010

This, of course, is based entirely on my own personal perceptions, so if you disagree… well, more power to you.

5. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. goes to show you how few films I saw this year, that this cracked the bottom five, because it honestly isn’t a horrible movie. It’s weak, though, very weak. Jake Gyllenhall doesn’t for a minute come off as a Persian prince, the villain’s plot is ludicrous, and the time travel mechanics are screwy. Disney struck out here.

4. A Nightmare on Elm Street. While I still think Jackie Earl Haley was a good choice to take over the Freddy Kruger role from Robert Englund, this remake of the horror classic was dull, lifeless, and often just plain stupid.

3. Clash of the Titans. Amazing, how remakes keep cropping up here at the bottom. While the original Clash was not, I admit, Citizen Kane, it was a fun romp through a specious understanding of mythology with awesome Ray Harryhausen special effects. This was a painful look at mythology based on the understanding of a writer who is probably resting his entire knowledge base on three episodes of the old Disney Hercules cartoon. Sam Worthington turned in yet another wooden, glass-eyed turn as an “action hero,” Gemma Arterton (just as she did in Prince of Persia) looks good on camera but adds nothing to the film, and Liam Neeson evidently lost a bet. And yet enough of you people saw this monstrocity for it to get a sequel. For shame. FOR. SHAME.

2. Splice. Adrien Brody stars in a sci-fi thriller about a couple of scientists trying to… hell, I don’t even know what their actual goal was, but they whipped up a hell beast that was part human and parts a lot of different animals and really deadly. It was actually really close, if I would put this at #2 or #3 on the list. What finally put this below Clash was that, although it did have Sam Worthington tromping around ancient Greece for months without ever outgrowing his buzzcut, it did NOT feature (SPOILER WARNING: DO NOT CONTINUE READING THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO BE SURPRISED WHEN YOU SEE THIS MOVIE AND/OR HAVE A MODICUM OF GOOD TASTE) Adrien Brody having sex with a half-human/half-animal clone of his wife in the middle of a barn. That was hands-down the creepiest scene in any movie in this year. In most years. Maybe ever. I want to boil my brain.

1. Jonah Hex. Now I’m going to be fair here. Objectively, this Josh Brolin/Megan Fox/John Malkovich western based on the DC Comic probably wasn’t the worst-made movie this year. But it was without a doubt the one that made me angriest. I love the Jonah Hex comic book. It’s a brilliant piece of comic literature that could have made one of the greatest, grittiest westerns of all time. Instead, we got a bastardized hybrid of the character mixed in with The Crow, The Sixth Sense, and some leftover set pieces from Wild Wild West. There may have been worse-acted, worse-written, or worse-directed films this year, but nothing had me walk out of the theater this angry. On the other hand, let’s hear it for Josh Brolin? How many people can say they were the hero of the year’s worst cowboy movie and the villain of the year’s best cowboy movie in the same year?

Conclusion

Okay, guys. All that’s left is the comprehensive list. Before I give it to you, though, let me just say I rather enjoyed this experiment, and I’ve still got more 2010 films left on my Netflix queue than I’ve actually seen. Maybe in a couple of months I’ll want to reevaluate this list. Maybe it’ll be totally different. Maybe I should start quantifying all years in cinema this way. Compulsive list-maker that I am, that could be a lot of fun. When I see a film, I’ll open up that year’s list and pop it in where I think it belongs. Of course, I’m not about to start going back and ranking every movie I’ve ever seen that way, that would be preposterous. I’d have to do that just with movies I see from now on. By that rationale, of course, it means Logan’s Run was the best movie of 1976, since that’s the only movie from that year I’ve seen recently. Of course, that may actually be the best movie of 1976, so why belabor the point?

I’m rambling now. Thanks for taking the time to read, guys, and who knows? Maybe I’ll do some updates in the future. I leave you with the complete list of 2010 releases I have seen, in order of preference:

  1. Toy Story 3
  2. Inception
  3. True Grit
  4. The Social Network
  5. The Town
  6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  7. Tron: Legacy
  8. Hot Tub Time Machine
  9. Iron Man 2
  10. Easy A
  11. Buried
  12. Tangled
  13. Despicable Me
  14. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
  15. Shutter Island
  16. Batman: Under the Red Hood
  17. How to Tame Your Dragon
  18. Due Date
  19. Waking Sleeping Beauty
  20. Predators
  21. Kick-Ass
  22. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
  23. Superman/Batman: Apocalypse
  24. Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics
  25. The Losers
  26. Dinner For Schmucks
  27. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
  28. The Wolfman
  29. Planet Hulk
  30. Survival of the Dead
  31. Alice in Wonderland
  32. Repo Men
  33. Robin Hood
  34. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World
  35. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
  36. A Nightmare on Elm Street
  37. Clash of the Titans
  38. Splice
  39. Jonah Hex
30
Dec
10

What Movies Did I Miss in 2010?

So here I am, trying to come up with some sort of “end of the year” blog, and I decided it may be good to comment on what I thought were the best motion pictures of the year. I’m a geek, right? I watch a lot of movies, I comment on a hell of a lot of movies. I know movies.

But as I sat down to compile my list, I realized something startling: I haven’t really seen all that many 2010 movies. Even counting direct-to-DVD films like the DC and Marvel animated projects, I’ve seen a total of 22 feature length films released in 2010.

Oh, I’ve seen a lot compared to some people, I suppose. Some people wait a long time before seeing movies, some people place no particular importance on seeing them opening day. And I’m fine with that — I think opening day releases are kind of overrated anyway, unless the film in question is one that I’m absolutely dying to see. Looking at my list (I’m a nerd who keeps lists of such things) I’ve seen well over 100 movies this year, but only 22 of them were from this year.

But it seems like in previous years I saw a lot more. Back in the old days, when we were fresh out of college and single, I would get together with my friends (primarily my buddy Jason Champagne — what’s up, Jason?) and catch one or two movies almost every weekend. This year? On my list of 22 films from 2010, I saw 17 in the theaters. Not even twice a month, friends.

What’s even more horrifying, though, is the fact that as I look back at 2010 in the theaters, I don’t even feel like I missed much. I would like to see Despicable Me. I’ve got interest in Red and True Grit, and there are several others I wouldn’t mind seeing, should the opportunity present itself. But is there any 2010 release that actually upsets me because I haven’t seen it?

No.

I think that says as much about Hollywood’s output as it says about me.

Not surprisingly, out of my 22 films there’s a very high geek quotient. Eight of them are based on comic books. Five are fully animated. Three are based on fantasy novels, nine of them are remakes or sequels to older films that appealed to the geek in me as a youngster. Only two of them are totally original concepts, by which I mean they aren’t sequels, remakes, or based on a story from another medium, and those two are Inception and Due Date.

Frankly, I’m a bit embarrassed by myself.

So here’s what I’m going to do, friends. Between Netflix and borrowing DVDs from friends and family, I’m going to spend January playing catch-up. You name a 2010 release (and direct-to-DVD films do count for this) that I haven’t seen and I’ll throw to the front of the queue, steam it if it’s available, or borrow it from somebody else and I’ll try to watch as many as I can in the hopes of giving you a more rounded view of what I think of 2010 in cinema. Any film, any genre, so long as it’s feature length and available on DVD. (And if I can, I’ll try to sneak in a few trips to the theater for the remaining December releases that are worthwhile.) Help me, my friends. You’re my only hope.

So you know where I’m coming from, though, here are the 22 films released in 2010 that I have seen, in alphabetical order:

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Batman: Under the Red Hood
  • Clash of the Titans
  • Due Date
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  • Inception
  • Iron Man 2
  • Jonah Hex
  • Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
  • Kick-Ass
  • The Losers
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
  • Planet Hulk
  • Predators
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
  • Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World
  • Survival of the Dead
  • Tangled
  • Toy Story 3
  • Tron: Legacy
  • The Wolfman
03
Oct
10

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 190: These Movies Suck!

It’s a different kind of discussion this week, as the boys each show up with a list of movies that they think suck — despite their inexplicable popularity. Did some of your favorites make any of the lists? Also, Blake extols the virtues of the Crappy Sequel Article Relocation Program! In the picks this week, Mike dug Time Masters: Vanishing Point #2, Kenny enjoyed volume seven of Black Lagoon, and Blake dug The Flash #5. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp!

Music provided by the Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 190: These Movies Suck
Inside This Episode:

01
Sep
10

Classic EBI #63: When a Book Becomes a Comic

It’s a pretty literate week in this week’s EBI. In the new column, #365: Running on the Anti-Comic Book Ticket, we discuss a Maryland state senator whose campaign has taken a nasty turn. And in this week’s classic EBI, we’re looking back at the process of turning a classic work of literature into a four-color masterpiece…

5/19/04

When a book becomes a comic

Adaptations have been a subgenre of comic books since the beginning. There was a time where virtually every hit TV show, from The Honeymooners to I Love Lucy, had their own comic book. In more recent years we’ve seen other crossovers like ALF or Married With Children, but these days the bulk of comic adaptations come from sci-fi or fantasy shows and movies like Star Wars and Aliens or from children’s TV shows like Powerpuff Girls.

But such adaptations are not limited to television and the movies. For nearly as long as there have been comics, some creators have tried to use the medium to adapt books. You know, the ones with lots of words and little or pictures at all. For decades there was the enormously popular line of Classics Illustrated, which retold tales like War of the Worlds, Moby-Dick, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or even Jane Eyre as comic books. The line was immediately a hit, no doubt in large part because of students who tried to read the comic book instead of the novel when assigned the book in school. (FYI, kiddies, that trick never works.)

There have been attempts to resurrect Classics Illustrated over the years, but none have ever really caught fire the way the originals did. Blame it on the superhero glut, I suppose, or Cliff’s Notes or the fact that kids today can download papers on the books off the internet instead of reading the comic, finding an even easier way to cheat.

But just because Classics Illustrated isn’t turning books into comics anymore doesn’t mean nobody else is either. The Dabel Brothers studio (DB Pro) is really making a name for itself with adaptations of books like George R.R. Martin’s The Hedge Knight. Based on a short novel set in the same universe as Martin’s popular Song of Ice and Fireseries, albeit a century or so earlier, the story is about a brave but untested squire attempting to pass himself off as a knight after the death of his master. The six-issue miniseries was published by Image for its first three issues, then jumped ship to Devil’s Due for the last three. All six will be collected in a trade paperback soon, no doubt.

This is a great fantasy comic with a powerful story (adapted by Ben Avery) and some beautiful artwork by Mike S. Miller, who (for my money) is the best comic book artist not enough of you have heard of yet.

DB Pro isn’t resting on its laurels, though — it’s already begun comic book versions of other novels in Robert Silverberg’s Legends anthology, where The Hedge Knight was first published. Books like Raymond E. Feist’s The Wood Boy and Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time: New Spring are all in the works or on the shelves already. DB Pro has also picked up properties like the Dungeons and Dragons series Dragonlance, so there’s a lot of literary stuff to be found here, and all of it looks wonderful. In fact, if any of the Dabel Brothers happen to be reading this, I’m pretty sure I could help ‘em secure a contract to adapt a certain superhero novel that was published not too long ago…

The Dabel Brothers’ comics, like Classics Illustrated, are straight adaptations of preexisting stories, akin to Dark Horse publishing Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Just as Dark Horse has seen fit to expand the Star Wars universe with other projects, though, some of my favorite “literary” comics are those that take a great book and run with the idea to create something new. Perhaps the literary universe that opens itself to this the best is that of L. Frank Baum’s Oz. With literally hundreds of books, movies and stories told about the fate of his world since his death nearly 90 years ago, it is almost inevitable that many, many Oz comic books would hit the stands.

I’ve loved the Oz books since I was a child, almost as long as I’ve loved comic books, and seeing a good comic adaptation of the work is a rare thrill for me. Especially when it crosses over with other properties I love. The first Oz comic I ever saw was actually a three-part crossover miniseries by E. Nelson Bridwell, Joey Cavalieri and Carol Lay: The Oz-Wonderland War, starring Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw!’s delightfully goofy creation, Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew. In this story Roquat, the Nome King, invades and conquers the land of Oz, transforming many of our favorite characters into ornaments and sending the rest into exile in a neighboring dimension, which happens to be Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. Our heroes don’t run into Alice, but have plenty of adventures with the likes of the Mad Hatter and the White Knight.

To defeat Roquat without their most powerful allies, though, our heroes need superheroes – even superheroes with long floppy ears. Piercing the dimensional barrier to Earth-C, the Ozites manage to recruit the Zoo Crew to join them in Wonderland and stage a rebellion to take their world back. Aside from a great, silly story, Carol Lay deserves an enormous amount of credit for melding the art styles of Shaw’s Zoo Crew with the art of classic Oz and Wonderland artists.

This wasn’t the first Oz comic, of course, (brief moment of useless trivia for you here: the first ever Marvel/DC collaboration, preceding even Superman/Spider-Man, was an oversized one-shot adaptation of MGM’s The Wizard of Oz movie), but it was the first one I read and remains a favorite.

On the other hand, some people have taken the Oz property and gone in an entirely different direction. In the mid-90s, Ralph Griffith, Stuart Kerr and Bill Bryan launched an ongoing series called simply Oz through Caliber comics. In this much darker version of the story, the Nome King and the evil witch Mombi conquer Oz (if it seems like he does that often, blame Baum — ol’ Roquat seemed to do it in every other book back in the day) and does so in a much more brutal fashion. Queen Ozma is imprisoned, the Wizard and the good witches are banished and spells are cast on Oz’s greatest heroes — the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Lion and Dorothy Gale herself — making them carry out his evil bidding.

As the series opens, a trio of college kids from our modern-day Earth stumble into Oz to find that the Freedom Fighters — lesser-known Oz characters like Amber Ombi, Tik Tok, Professor H.M. Wogglebug, T.E. and the Hungry Tiger — have been struggling for ten years to free their home from evil. Naturally, they join in the fight. As someone familiar with the books, it was a treat to see so much of the focus be on characters that weren’t in the famous movie, which was a fine work in and of itself but really wasn’t a very good adaptation of Baum’s work. Since the movie is what just about everyone knows, however, it was great that the comic showed off the other wonderful characters for a while. (Man, was their Jack Pumpkinhead freaky, though.)

This fantastic series does take some liberties with the property, mostly in the character designs (Bryan’s Lion and Hungry Tiger looked more like they belonged in the Thundercats cartoon than a Baum book), but it captured the spirit of the world and the characters very well, and one could easily imagine Baum’s world turning into this Oz if it had been allowed to grow up. The series lasted for 20 issues, a zero issue showing Roquat’s invasion and a handful of miniseries and specials before moving to Arrow Comics for a six-issue Dark Oz miniseries and a new Land of Oz series that lasted nine issues. I haven’t read these follow-up series yet, but I’m looking for them, and if they’re half as good as the first Oz, I have no doubt I’ll fall in love all over again. And if anyone knows if there is any chance of bringing the property back, for heaven’s sake, tell me.

There have been a few other comics based on Baum – a series called Oz Squad about an adult Dorothy acting as a double-agent between Oz and Earth, and a series of graphic novels by Eric Shanower that seem to be much more in tone with the original series, not unlike the many official novels and most of the imitators that have been published. I haven’t read either of these series, but Oz nut that I am, I’m on the lookout for them.

It’s easy to look at the comic book rack and see a dozen X-Men or Spider-Man titles and get angry about the seeming lack of new ideas. But let’s not forget that an idea for a comic book doesn’t have to be brand new to be a great one. There are a lot of great books out there sitting on the shelves of your local bookstore just waiting to make the transition to the comic book shelf. The symbiosis can work both ways as well — fans of the Oz books may pick up an Oz comic, fans of Caliber press may be intrigued enough to check out the original Baum. It’s a win-win situation, I think. We just need more studios and creators willing to take the shot.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: May 12, 2004

Will Pfeifer has really done some incredible things lately. Aside from a good run on Aquaman, he’s taken one of my favorite old properties and breathed new life into it with H-E-R-O. With issue #16, Robby Reed (the original bearer of the device that turns people into superheroes) recruits the first device-holder of this series to help him find the man who’s got the device now… a dangerous, brutal man who gains the powers of a hero but none of the conscience. A superpowered killer is on the loose, and only two guys who still don’t understand their own power know how to stop him. I can’t wait to see where this comic goes next.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast and the weekly audio fiction podcast Blake M. Petit’s Evercast. E-mail him at Blake@comixtreme.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.

(2010 Note: How times change. Since I write this column, the Dabel Brothers have sort of fallen apart and Baum’s Oz works are a smash hit as part of Marvel’s line of comics illustrating novels, both classic and contemporary.)

18
Jan
10

What I’m Reading: 2010 Edition

Like I did last year, I’m going to keep a running tally of my reading list this year. This includes both prose books, graphic novels, short stories (if I read them independently of an entire book, that is), and audiobooks that I listen to. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, I’ll place a link to this post on the righthand “Blakestuff” column, and periodically update this page with new material. Also, if I happen to review the book either here, for the Amazon Vine program, at Comixtreme.com, or otherwise, I’ll make the title a link. Because I know you would want it that way.

  1. Desperate Times by Chris Eliopoulos (2009), B-*
  2. Under the Dome by Stephen King (2009), A-
  3. Little Adventures in Oz Vol. 1 by Eric Shanower (2010), A-*
  4. Replay by Ken Grimwood (1987), B+
  5. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (1954), A+
  6. The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures by Dave Stevens (2009), A*
  7. 7th Son: Descent by J.C. Hutchins (2009), A- @
  8. The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King (1987), A
  9. Star Comics All-Star Collection Vol. 1 (2009), B-*
  10. “The Call of Cthulhu” by H.P. Lovecraft (1928), B
  11. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (2002), A-
  12. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (2009), B+
  13. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (2008), B+
  14. The Magic Book of Oz by Scott Dickerson (2009), B+
  15. More Blood, More Sweat, and Another Cup of Tea by Tom Reynolds (2009), A-
  16. PVP Vol. 6: Silent But Deadly by Scott Kurtz (2009), B-*
  17. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865), A-
  18. Foundation by Isaac Asimov (1951), A
  19. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900), A
  20. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (2001), B
  21. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow (2003), B
  22. “The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving (1824), A
  23. Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies by Michael Adams (2010), A
  24. Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis (2008), A
  25. Doom Patrol: Crawling From the Wreckage by Grant Morrison (1990), B*
  26. Doom Patrol: The Painting that Ate Paris by Grant Morrison (1990), B+*
  27. The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason (2008), A-
  28. “The Minister’s Black Veil” by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1836), B+
  29. “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin (1894), B-
  30. Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley (2004), B-*
  31. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce (1890), A
  32. The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (1595-ish), B
  33. “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” by Mark Twain (1865), A
  34. Lost Ate My Life by Jon Lachonis & Amy J. Johnston (2008), B-
  35. All the Great Books (Abridged) by Reed Martin & Austin Tichenor (2005-Stage Play), A-
  36. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max (2006), B
  37. Reduced Shakespeare by Reed Martin & Austin Tichenor (2006), B+
  38. The Zombie Wilson Diaries by Timothy W. Long (2009), B
  39. Lurline and the White Ravens of Oz by Marcus Mebes (2008), B-
  40. 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper (2004), B
  41. “Winter Dreams” by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1922), B
  42. Blockade Billy by Stephen King (2010), B+
  43. Honor Brigade by Tom Stillwell & Bradley Bowers (2009), A-
  44. Age of Bronze: A Thousand Ships by Eric Shanower (2001), A*
  45. Marvel Zombies 4 by Fred Van Lente (2010), B*
  46. The Toxic Avenger and Other Tromatic Tales edited by Tim Seeley (2007), B-*
  47. Iron Man and Philosophy: Facing the Stark Reality edited by Mark D. White (2010), B
  48. Sheldon: Living Dangerously With Saturated Fats by Dave Kellett (2009), A-
  49. “The Far and the Near” by Thomas Wolfe (1935), B-
  50. “In Another Country” by Ernest Hemingway (1927), B-
  51. “The Corn Planting” by Sherwood Anderson (1921), B
  52. “A Rose For Emily” by William Faulkner (1930), A
  53. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (1895-Stage Play), B
  54. Heaven Book V: War by Mur Lafferty (2008), B@
  55. “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” by Flannery O’Conner (1955), B+
  56. Kissyman and the Gentleman by Scott Sigler (2010), B-@
  57. Carrie by Stephen King (1974), B
  58. Unbeatable: Hotter Than Hell (2010) by Matthias Wolf, A-
  59. DC’s Greatest Imaginary Stories Vol. 2: Batman and Robin (2010), edited by Bob Joy, B-*
  60. I’ll Mature When I’m Dead (2010) by Dave Barry, B
  61. Wertham Was Right (2003) by Mark Evanier, A-
  62. Little Adventures in Oz Vol. 2 (2010) by Eric Shanower, B+*
  63. Age of Bronze Vol. 2: Sacrifice (2004) by Eric Shanower, B*
  64. Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne (2004) by John Byrne, A*
  65. The Crypt Book One: The Crew (2010) by Scott Sigler & Various, B+@
  66. Vampire Brat (2001) by Batton Lash, B+*
  67. Haunt Vol. 1 (2010) by Robert Kirkman & Todd McFarlane, B+*
  68. Ancestor (2010) by Scott Sigler, A
  69. The Customer is Not Always Right (2009) by A.J. Adams, B
  70. Atomic Robo Vol. 1: Atomic Robo and the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne (2007) by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener, A*
  71. Starman Omnibus Vol. 4 (2010), by James Robinson, A*
  72. Hater (2006) by David Moody, B+
  73. “Everything and Nothing” (2010) by David Moody, B
  74. Penny Arcade Vol. 6 (2010) by Jerry Holkins & Mike Krahulik, B+
  75. And Another Thing… (2009) by Eoin Colfer, B-
  76. Dog Blood (2010) by David Moody, B
  77. The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904) by L. Frank Baum , B+*
  78. Sheldon: Still Got It (2009) by Dave Kellett, A*
  79. Literature: Unsuccessfully Competing Against Television Since 1953 (2010) by Dave Kellett, A*
  80. Drive: A Hero Rises (2010) by Dave Kellett, B*
  81. Beneath (2010) by Jeremy Robinson, B-
  82. Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories (2010) by Zack Whedon, A*
  83. Night of the Living Trekkies (2010) by Kevin David Anderson & Sam Stall B+
  84. The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus (2010) by Fred Hembeck, B+*
  85. “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839) by Edgar Allan Poe, A
  86. Curse of the Were-Woman (2009) by Jason M. Burns, B*
  87. A Teacher’s Night Before Halloween (2008) by Steven Layne, B
  88. Ghostopolis (2010) by Doug TenNapel, A*
  89. Superman: Earth One (2010) by J. Michael Straczynski, A*
  90. Sum: Forty Tales From the Afterlives (2009) by David Eagleman, A
  91. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010 Graphic Novel), B*
  92. The Lost Hero (2010) by Rick Riordan, B
  93. Stupid Christmas (2010) by Leland Gregory, B-
  94. Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas (2001) by Ace Collins, B+
  95. Full Dark, No Stars (2010) by Stephen King, A-
  96. The Case For Christmas: A Journalist Investigates the Identity of the Child in the Manger (1998) by Lee Strobel, B
  97. Amelia Rules: A Very Ninja Christmas (2009) by Jimmy Gownley, A*
  98. The Curious World of Christmas (2007) by Niall Edworthy, C+
  99. The Great Treasury of Christmas Comic Book Stories (2010), edited by Craig Yoe, B*
  100. Top Cow Holiday Special 2010 by Phil Smith & Paul Dini, B*
  101. Graphic Classics Vol. 19: Christmas Classics (2010), B+*
  102. The Truth About Santa (2009) by Gregory Mone, B
  103. The Starter by Scott Sigler (2010), B+

*-Denotes Graphic Novel or Comic Strip collection
@-Denotes audiobook
“”-Denotes Short Story

Last Updated on January 1, 2010

18
Jan
10

What I’m Watching: 2010 Edition

Like I did last year, this year I’m going to keep a running tally of the movies I see. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, I’m going to place the permanent link to this post in the “Blakestuff” category running down the right side of the page. I’ll update this every so often, and whenever I happen to review one of the movies (either here, at Comixtreme.com, or even on the Showcase podcast), I’ll make the title a link. I am, in fact, a man of the people.

  1. Star Trek (2009), A
  2. The Gamers: Dorkness Rising (2008), B+
  3. Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009), B+
  4. The Man With the Screaming Brain (2005), C
  5. Re-Animator (1985), B-
  6. Soylent Green (1973), A-
  7. Igor (2008), B-
  8. Dug’s Special Mission (2009), A*
  9. Partly Cloudy (2009), A*
  10. 1408 (2007), B
  11. Pigeon: Impossible (2009), B+*
  12. Vegas Vacation (1997), C
  13. Cat People (1982), C
  14. Psycho Beach Party (2000), B
  15. Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988), D
  16. Planet Hulk (2010), B+
  17. A Charlie Brown Valentine (2002), B*
  18. The Wolfman (2010), B+
  19. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010), B
  20. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010), A-
  21. The Hangover (2009), B+
  22. Surrogates (2009), B
  23. Silver Bullet (1985), D
  24. Paranormal Activity (2007)
  25. Ringers: Lord of the Fans (2005)
  26. Ink (2009), B+
  27. Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959), B
  28. The Hobbit (1977), B
  29. The Lord of the Rings (1978), C+
  30. The Return of the King (1980), B-
  31. Clash of the Titans (1981), B
  32. Clash of the Titans (2010), D
  33. Iron Man (2008), A
  34. Office Space (1998), B+
  35. Meet the Robinsons (2007), B+
  36. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell (2009), B+
  37. Hancock (2008), B+
  38. Fritz the Cat (1972), C-
  39. The Losers (2010), B-
  40. Kick-Ass (2010), B+
  41. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968), C+
  42. Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), A
  43. Midnight Meat Train (2008), B+
  44. Plan 9 From Outer Space (1958), F
  45. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009), B+
  46. The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz (2005), B-
  47. Iron Man 2 (2010), A-
  48. The Grapes of Wrath (1940), A
  49. Cloak and Dagger (1984), C+
  50. The Odyssey (1997), B+
  51. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), A-
  52. The Pixar Story (2007), A
  53. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), C+
  54. Richard III (1995), B-
  55. Miss March (2009), D
  56. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), B+
  57. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), D
  58. Toy Story (1995), A
  59. Toy Story 2 (1999), A
  60. Red Dawn (1984), B+
  61. Day and Night (2010), B*
  62. Toy Story 3 (2010), A+
  63. Muppets From Space (1999), B-
  64. Jonah Hex (2010), D
  65. Monsters, Inc. (2001), A
  66. Zardoz (1974), C
  67. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008), B-
  68. Predators (2010), B
  69. Laserblast (1978), F (MST3K riff), B
  70. Better Than Chocolate (1999), C
  71. Alice in Wonderland (2010), C+
  72. Inception (2010), A
  73. DC Showcase: Jonah Hex (2010), B*
  74. Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010), B
  75. The Beginning of the End (1957), F (MST3K Riff-B+)
  76. Sold Out: A Threevening With Kevin Smith (2008), B
  77. Let the Right One In (2008), B+
  78. Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966), F (MST3K Riff-A)
  79. I Accuse My Parents (1944), F (MST3K Riff-B)
  80. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010), C
  81. The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), B
  82. A Wink and a Smile (2008), B
  83. Fame (2009), B-
  84. Water Lillies (2007), B
  85. Jennifer’s Body (2009), B
  86. Sex Drive (2008), B+
  87. Dead and Gone (2007), D
  88. Dead Snow (2009), A-
  89. Vampire Killers (2009), B+
  90. Netherbeast, Incorporated (2007), B
  91. The Zombie Diaries (2006), C
  92. Survival of the Dead (2010), B
  93. I Sell the Dead (2008), B+
  94. Saw VI (2009), B-
  95. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), A
  96. The Wolfman (1941), B+
  97. Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943), B
  98. Werewolf of London (1935), D
  99. She-Wolf of London (1946), D
  100. Due Date (2010), B
  101. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010), B+
  102. Tangled (2010), B
  103. Tron (1982), B
  104. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), A+*
  105. Prep and Landing: Operation Secret Santa (2010), B+*
  106. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964), F; MST3K Riff, B+
  107. The Adventures of Huck Finn (1992), B
  108. Tom and Huck (1993), B
  109. Miracle on 34th Street (1947), A+
  110. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970), B-*
  111. The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974), B+*
  112. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), A*
  113. Frosty the Snowman (1969), A-*
  114. Tron: Legacy (2010), B+
  115. Gremlins (1984), A
  116. Santa Claus (1959), F; MST3K Riff, B
  117. A Muppet Family Christmas (1987), B*
  118. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), A
  119. It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2002), B-
  120. A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa (2008), B*
  121. Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972), F because I can’t give Qs; RiffTrax Riff, B
  122. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), A
  123. The Polar Express (2004), B-
  124. Love, Actually (2003), A
  125. A Christmas Story (1982), A
  126. Funny Games (2008), B
  127. Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (1978), B+*
  128. Destino (2003), A-*
  129. Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics (2010), B
  130. Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010), B-
  131. Waking Sleeping Beauty (2010), B
  132. Despicable Me (2010), B+
  133. The Crazies (2010), B-

*-Denotes Short Film

Last Updated on January 1, 2010.




Blake’s Twitter Feed

January 2022
S M T W T F S
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Blog Stats

  • 316,058 hits

Blake's Flickr Photos

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.