Top 5: Image Comics

Top 5: TV Episodes of All-Time (Comedy Edition)

The last three weeks, we’ve been looking at good comic book options for those inspired by the umpteen movies a year based on them now hitting theaters.  Week 1 was Marvel and when we looked at DC last week, I mentioned that though they are the second best-selling company, they’re not the second best company any more.  That would be Image Comics (and if you wanted to argue for first, you could make a strong case).

Why are there no new huge super heroes or super villains being developed at DC or Marvel?  One or two may break out a decade, but most of the Marvel canon was churned out in five years.  Why aren’t we getting new icons?  The answer to that has been a battle for as long as comics have been a medium: creator-owned rights.  Take Jerry Siegel.  Do you know who Jerry Siegel is?  He’s one of the co-creators of Superman and, far from making him rich for it, DC pushed him out and in the 1960’s as Marvel was beginning, Stan Lee had Jerry Siegel writing token copy in a desk in the corner just because he felt sorry for him.  Essentially, if you work for Marvel or DC, what you create belongs to them.

In the early 1990’s comics were dominated by star artists (whereas now the writers hold sway).  A number of the most popular including Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri and Rob Liefeld broke away and formed their own company called Image Comics.  It was immediately successful off the backs of books like Spawn and Savage Dragon (both of which are still running), but the entire comics industry crashed in the later part of the decade and Image wandered in the desert until it bumped into Robert Kirkman.  Kirkman had particularly strong feelings about creator-owned work and wanted to transform Image into a place where writers and artists could come to do their own thing under the Image banner and retain control of their work product.  If you find the name Robert Kirkman familiar, it’s because he created The Walking Dead, which has made-through comics, the AMC TV show, merchandise and video games enough money for Kirkman to have a Scrooge McDuck-level money bin.

The Walking Dead changed the game (Mark Millar and Kick Ass also were happening at the same time and contributed) and creators basically demanded that they be allowed to work at Image on their pet projects while working on DC and Marvel books (Jonathan Hickman, writer of the #1 book on the list writes Avengers for Marvel).  Not wanting to lose the talent, they’ve relented and Marvel has even started its own creator-owned brand (Icon), though it’s not really taken off.  Many of the Image creators simply work for Image, though, and it’s not a shared universe like the big two companies; it’s a publishing house.  The five best comics I’ve picked are about crazy scientists, zombies, a detective who is a cibopath (can learn the history of something by eating it), an epic science fiction adventure and one super hero book.   It should be pointed out that these are mature titles.  Do not be handing an issue of The Walking Dead to an eight-year-old unless you want that child in therapy.  But for adults who love stories of all kinds, Image may be the best comic banner for your buck.

 The Manhattan Projects, Jonathan Hickman

1. The Manhattan Projects

Saga, Brian K. Vaughn, Fiona Staples
2. Saga

The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore
3. The Walking Dead

Chew, John Layman, Rob Guillory
4. Chew

Invincible, Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley
5. Invincible

Honorable Mention: Bedlam, East of West, Fatale, Moriarty, Morning Glories Revival, Thief of Thieves

Image Comics

Netflix Wants Arrested Development Season 5

Arrested Development, Netflix, Michael Cera, George Michael Bluth

Netflix’s foray into original programming (Hemlock Grove aside…so bad) has been a huge shot in the arm for the company.  Resurrecting cult comedy classic Arrested Development for a fourth season has been a coup.  Netflix refuses to release numbers, so it’s hard to be exact, but according to Internet tracking firm Procera, AD4 is drawing twice as many viewers as Netflix’s first original series: House of Cards.  That drama (which is fantastic and must-see) was hailed by the company as a huge success.

This being the case, it’s unsurprising that a fifth season of the misadventures of the Bluth clan is hoped for by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.  “Arrested is unique, because [whether or not it comes back is] really up to the talent. If the talent were willing to do more, and interested in that, I’m sure we would be willing.”

Arrested Development’s creator, Mitchell Hurwitz, has long wanted to do a movie with the cast, and some think season four is the springboard he’s using to get that film, but Netflix is certainly going to give the show more love than FOX ever did when it was winning it Emmys.

Update on Thor 2 Director Controversy and More Photos

Thor, Thor 2, Thor 2 The Dark World, Alan Taylor, Chris Hemsworth, Marvel

A few days ago, we first got word of trouble with post-production on Thor 2: The Dark World between Marvel and director Alan Taylor and composer Carter Burwell. Since then, Burwell has been fired from the project (hopefully clearing way for Thor composer Patrick Doyle to return), but as to the exact nature of the friction between Taylor and Marvel, the following comes from Latino Review:

Taylor was apparently butting heads with [Marvel President Kevin Feige] over the run time and final edit. Taylor wants the film to be 2 and a half hours, Marvel says he’s contracted to give them a 2 hour film and he’s breaching his contract. He hasn’t been fired, but editing has stopped for 2 weeks while both parties take some time to cool off before a mediator will be brought in [the] middle of June. Bottom line is that the film is only 5 months from release and a decision is going to have to be made soon especially if re-shoots are required.

If true, this is so dumb that it is all I can do not to take mighty Mjolnr myself and….well, do nothing because I am not worthy to wield it, but you get the rage vector.  American audiences can handle a film that’s 2.5 hours long if it is GOOD.      The last time there was a controversy like this, it was over The Incredible Hulk, which had a good 30 minutes hacked out of its final cut.  I like the Norton Hulk, but I get why he was so angry (Hulk smash) because if you watch the deleted scenes on the Blu Ray, they would have made it a better film, taking it from a 7.5 – 8.0 theatrical to a hard 9.0.  Also, The Avengers is 2 hours and 23 minutes and that seemed to work out okay for Marvel.  If the story warrants the length, Marvel needs to back the hell off.  As one of the four people on earth who was disappointed by Iron Man 3, I really am looking to Thor 2 to get the second phase of the MCU underway.  Two stumbles in a row would really derail the momentum Marvel’s built.  Thor: The Dark World is scheduled for a November 2013 release.

Thor, Thor 2, Thor 2 The Dark World, Alan Taylor, Chris Hemsworth, Marvel, Dark Elves, Malekith Thor, Thor 2, Thor 2 The Dark World, Alan Taylor, Chris Hemsworth, Marvel, Malekith, Dark Elves Thor, Thor 2, Thor 2 The Dark World, Alan Taylor, Chris Hemsworth, Marvel Thor, Thor 2, Thor 2 The Dark World, Alan Taylor, Chris Hemsworth, Marvel


First Look at Optimus Prime & Bumblebee in Transformers 4

Optimus Prime, Peter Cullen, Michael Bay, Transformers 4

I have an extremely visceral reaction to Michael Bay and Transformers being in the same sentence.  You may see those two things and see a director known for making ludicrously overblown films and a franchise based on toys from the 1980s.  I see those two things and see a creepy uncle molesting my childhood.  Too much?  Hmm, no, no that’s pretty much how I feel about his treatment of my beloved Transformers.

I will say this: I had issues with the first film, but I thought it was a good start and there are some awesome moments.  The second film is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.  Had I not been in the midst of a tight theater hopping movie day (do not judge the fiscally challenged), I’d have left either when the mom got high and started running around campus, or when the still inexplicable Terminatrix transformer co-ed bopped into the film, or during any one of the “Michael Bay Makes Fun of African-Americans By Making Them Robots” side shows, or maybe when they took down the Decepticon climbing the pyramids by shooting him in his ROBOT SCROTUM!!!!!  Gimme a second…I have a Xanax here somewhere….alright, sorry, but COME ON!  The third film I didn’t see in the theater, but it was on Netflix or something and I tried it in a fit of boredom or self-loathing and got so bored I only made it through an hour, so that was an improvement.

I say all that to say this: any coverage of the upcoming Transformers 4 is going to be somewhat sparse and may be tinged by sarcasm and geek rage that even I usually keep in check.  But y’all kept going to these, so they’re making more.  Michael Bay is being cagey with the “plot” (plot in a Michael Bay film requiring quotations by Federal law), but the cast is being rebooted and the robots are being redesigned and here are the first looks at Bumblebee and Optimus Prime.  The buzz is they’re going to use Unicron, who was the villain in the 1986 animated film which is the height of Transformers awesomeness (I love mentioning to my wife that Orson Welles voiced Unicron as it seems to elicit primal ape rage).  So here are the new designs and you will no doubt go see creepy Uncle Michael Bay touch my childhood memories in their special places come next summer.  Yes, I know I should probably take another Xanax, but ROBOT SCROTUM (muttering sound as I locate my darts and begin my Michael Bay dartboard stress therapy session)!

Bumblebee, Transformers 4, Michael Bay

Pacific Rim Photo Gallery from Variety

Pacific Rim Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro Pacific Rim, Charlie Day Pacific Rim Pacific Rim, Jaeger Pacific Rim Pacific Rim, Jaeger Pacific Rim, Jaeger Pacific Rim, Jaeger Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro Pacific Rim Pacific Rim, Charlie Day Pacific Rim Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro Pacific Rim, Jaeger

Variety Magazine has a host of new looks at Pacific Rim, behind-the-scenes with director Guillermo del Toro, concept art and new stills from the film that just looks better and better the more we see of it.   Pacific Rim opens in theaters on July 12th.