Archive for the ‘adventure’ Category
Filed Under adventure, atlantis, flash gordon, tarzan
I’m about halfway through the three serials I’m watching. Time for another check in.
The New Adventures of Tarzan has a pretty good story engine for a serial. Basically, it’s just Tarzan and his group trying to catch up with the bad guy in order to recapture the explosive idol everyone wants. The bad guy’s always one step ahead of Tarzan, so the story keeps moving. When it starts to slow down, simply throw in an animal attack, have Tarzan get close enough to fight the bad guy (only to have the bad guy narrowly escape), or bring back the angry natives from whom the idol was stolen in the first place.
There’s a line in the credits that calls the serial “an Ashton Dearholt Expedition Picture.” Ashton Dearholt was one of the producers, but you might remember from my previous post that he also plays the bad guy. The serial was shot on location in Guatemala, and all of this totally reminds me of Carl Denham in King Kong going into the jungle with his actors and camera crew to shoot his movie. Very cool.
Speaking of acting, I don’t know if the actors warmed up to their parts as filming went on or if I’m just getting used to them, but they don’t sound nearly as wooden to me now as they did when I started. Herman Brix is turning into an excellent Tarzan. Now that his acting sounds more natural, I can see that he’s perfect for the part physically. He’s probably the most handsome of the movie Tarzans of his era.
I’m falling in love with the character of Ula Vale. She continues working alongside Tarzan and his group, stepping in on multiple occasions to save someone’s life, even Tarzan’s. It’s not hard to imagine her as the star of the series. I love that she came to Guatemala looking for her missing fiancé, and when she learned he was dead, she took some time to grieve and then committed to pitch in against the bad guy. Not out of revenge — the villain didn’t kill her fiancé — but because it was the right thing to do. And she’s been nothing but competent ever since. The last episode I watched ended with her in trouble and because I’ve become so invested in her, it was actually pretty chilling to watch. I don’t doubt that she’ll get out of it okay — and maybe all on her own — but I’m still a little nervous.
D’Arnot’s left the plot. I think they left him to recuperate in a town somewhere along the way. It’s disappointing that he was only in it long enough to get the story moving, but c’est la vie.
Flash Gordon is still my favorite of these three. The characters have spent more time with the hawkmen than I’d like (especially the annoyingly boisterous King Vultan), but it looks like that part of the story may be winding down. Overall, it’s been a fun tour of Mongo as Flash gathers allies and makes enemies while running from Ming the Merciless.
I love how the story starts out with Flash and Dale’s meeting by accident and then stumbling into Doctor Zarkov’s mad scheme to try to stop a planet from colliding with Earth. I’d always assumed that Flash and Dale were lovers from the beginning, but we actually get to see them starting to fall for each other here, even though they don’t spend that much time together. Flash is always off fighting monsters and Dale is constantly fending off marriage proposals from tyrants, but you can tell that Flash feels responsible for Dale and that she appreciates it and fears for his safety. Flash spends a lot more time with Ming’s voluptuous, but selfish daughter Aura, and that only makes him appreciate Dale’s selfless concern that much more. It also helps that, while Aura is certainly, um… healthy… Dale is heart-breakingly beautiful. I feel like I’m watching the development one of fiction’s classic romances.
I just bought a reprint of the early Flash Gordon newspaper comic strips. I’m going to wait until I’m done with the serial before reading the strips, but from a quick flip-through it looks like the serial is following the strip pretty closely. I’m looking forward not only to reading the strips, but also checking out some of the later Flash Gordon adaptations (including the upcoming one on the Sci Fi Channel).
I go back and forth about Undersea Kingdom. Just when I relax and start having some fun with it, they throw in another cliché character or plot device. Billy the Sidekick’s standing on the sidelines, mimicking Crash Corrigan’s fighting moves as he tussles with the bad guys, was especially groan-inducing. Also, Billy’s so in love with Crash and adventure in general that he doesn’t care at all that his dad’s mind has been taken over by the evil Unga Khan. That’s pretty common for Undersea Kingdom. We’re not supposed to think too hard about it or get anything more out of it than some thrills. It’s a kids’ show.
But, on the other hand, Crash is a lovable guy in a Ben Grimm sort of way, and the series does feature Lon Chaney Jr. in one of his first roles as Lon Chaney Jr. (as opposed to Creighton Chaney). So I waffle.
Filed Under adventure, comics, superheroes, wonder woman
Got a new computer at work today, which is pretty cool, but it kept me offline for a bit. It’s just as well though, because it’s sort of a slow day except for the news that Gail Simone is indeed taking over Wonder Woman, which is excellent for Simone and Wonder Woman fans alike. She’s going to do an excellent job.
I’ll do a full Links du Jour post on Monday. The only other thing I have to tell you today is that I’ve been invited to pitch for an upcoming project that should be pretty high profile. That’s all I can say about it, but I’ll spill more later when I’m able.
Filed Under 30 days of night, adventure, horror, life on mars, mummy, mystery, pirates
- While we wait for the American version of the BBC’s Life on Mars, a British sequel is already in the works. I didn’t want to read the article too closely for fear of spoilers (the series finale of Life on Mars just aired this week), but the new show will be called Ashes to Ashes and will feature Philip Glenister’s returning as DCI Gene Hunt to be paired with another 21st century detective — a woman this time — in 1981. The character of Gene Hunt is arguably the best thing about Life on Mars, so I’m way more excited about this than about the American remake of the first series. (Thanks to SF Signal for the link.)
- Kurt Vonnegut is dead. Lots of people are talking about it today, but the nicest eulogy I’ve seen so far has been by Warren Ellis on his email newsletter: “14 novels in 84 years. 30 when he published his first novel. Two years older than I am now when he did Cat’s Cradle. 46 or thereabouts when he wrote Slaughterhouse-5. Still in his early 20s, working as a POW in an underground factory, when we firebombed Dresden, an act he later described as ‘a work of art.’ 1984, and Vonnegut attempts suicide with booze and pills, ruefully noting later that ‘I botched it.’ May 1944, and his mother Edith gets it right. Six months later Vonnegut is captured by the German army after days wandering alone in the countryside. ‘Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — “God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”‘”
Filed Under adventure, comics, flash gordon, gorey, horror, league of extraordinary gentlemen, scifi, shang chi, superheroes, writing is hard
- I’ve been avoiding talking about the rumors around David Goyer’s Green Arrow/supervillains-in-prison pitch, because I don’t like speculating on rumors. But Variety has picked up the story now and is apparently reporting it as a done deal between Goyer and Warner Brothers. Not that Variety’s never been wrong before. Anyway, I don’t get the title Super Max. After Green Arrow’s successful appearances on Smallville, why not just call it Green Arrow? Or would Hollywood automatically want to force in an origin story if it was named after the hero?
- At first glance, Moonstone’s new superhero book CLASH sounded a bit familiar for my tastes. I don’t want to read yet another book where the superheroes think they know what’s best for the world and begin imposing their will on it. But, looking closer, CLASH has got a cool twist on the idea: humanity rebels. I’d like to see what they do with that.
- I like Marvel’s Killraven character thanks to fond childhood memories of this comic. If you don’t know him, he lives in a post-War of the Worlds Earth where the Martians took over the planet and enslaved humanity. Killraven decided to fight back. Not groundbreaking stuff by any stretch, but fun enough for a nine-year-old. Anyway, I’m reminded of it because apparently Rob Kirkman and Rob Liefeld are reviving the character for a project next year. As much as I like Liefeld as a person (and I really do), I’m not a fan of his artwork and this will be no exception. So I guess it’s a good thing that he’s working on a character I just kinda have nice memories of and not one I’m still attached to like Alpha Flight or Shang Chi.
- As long as I’m linking to Rich Johnston and talking about Shang Chi, read further down in Rich’s column for an entry called “Blast from the Past File” about how Jim Shooter almost had Doug Moench turn Shang Chi into a ninja until Moench explained, “Mr. Shooter, perhaps you’re not aware. Ninjas are Japanese; kung-fu is Chinese.”
- According to The Hollywood Reporter, progress has been made on the Sci Fi Channel’s Flash Gordon series. Eric Johnson (who played Lana’s boyfriend Whitney in the first season of Smallville) will play Flash. They’re still looking for people to play Dale, Dr. Zarkov, and the rest.
- Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics, Making Comics) will be at Dream Haven Books here in Minneapolis tonight at 7:30. It’s part of his 50-state tour of the US.
- Top Shelf has announced their 2008 releases including the third volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and the long-awaited (by me) trade paperback collection of Kagan McLeod’s Infinite Kung Fu. Wormwood sounds pretty interesting too, and so do the new graphic novels by Brian Wood (DMZ, Local) and Alex Robinson (Box Office Poison).
Writing is Hard
- Evil Editor has a great quote about the difference between literary and genre fiction: “Literary doesn’t mean it’s literature; it just means it’s boring. My advice: add some sharks and a wolfman, and call it commercial fiction.”
Stuff Nobody Cares About But Me
- According to the Disney blog, Epcot is tweaking its Mexico pavilion by having it feature Donald Duck, Panchito, and Jose Carioca (aka the Three Caballeros). The Mexico pavilion’s always been one of my favorite of the Epcot countries to visit (I really need to eat in that amazingly atmospheric restaurant one of these trips), but that doesn’t mean I think it’s perfect just the way it is. A little Caballero action added to it might be cool.
Filed Under adventure, atlantis, flash gordon, scifi, tarzan
I’m currently in the middle of three movie serials: The New Adventures of Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and The Undersea Kingdom. Consider this my first check-in on each of them. I’ll do another one when I’m nearly done with them and a third once they’re all finished.
The New Adventures of Tarzan is different because it takes Tarzan out of Africa and into South America. His old pal D’Arnot from the novels has gone to Guatemala looking for a statue of a goddess that apparently has some kind of formula for a super-explosive encoded on it. When D’Arnot disappears, Tarzan hooks up with a second group of explorers who go looking for it. And of course, to keep things interesting, there’s a bad guy trying to get his hands on the formula too.
I can’t make myself believe that an ancient statue contains the formula for a super-explosive, but I have to give love to whoever decided to combine the hunt for an ancient artifact with trying to keep a deadly scientific discovery out of the wrong hands. It may not be two great tastes that go great together, but it’s not inedible.
Putting Tarzan in South America, on the other hand, is an awesome idea. He still has plenty of jungle animals to fight, but it’s unfamiliar territory for him. I also like that his animal companion is named Nkima, like in the books. Unfortunately, Nkima is still a chimp like Cheetah instead of a monkey like the literary Nkima, but it’s a step in the right direction. And as I’m watching these old movies, I’m warming to the deviation from the novels. Chimps are undeniably funny.
I don’t care so much for D’Arnot in this serial. Tarzan does find and rescue him, but D’Arnot spends most of the time (so far) stumbling around looking like he’s just been beat up. Which he has, but the literary D’Arnot went through worse and with a lot more dignity. New Adventures‘ D’Arnot is rather pathetic.
Something I’m finding refreshing though is another character who’s looking for the statue, a woman named Ula Vale (played by Ula Holt, which I can’t believe is a coincidence). When she was introduced, I fully expected Ula to quickly get in trouble and need rescuing by Tarzan, ’cause that’s what usually happens to women in Tarzan movies. To my surprise, Ula’s proven very capable on her own and have even rescued Tarzan’s group on a couple of occasions.
So, I’m enjoying the story so far, even if the acting isn’t all that great. Everyone, including Herman Brix (Tarzan), sadly, talks like they’re reading off cue cards. It’s pretty awful. The only one I part-way like is Ashton Dearholt who plays the bad guy. He’s not as wooden as some of the other actors and it’s especially nice that he doesn’t over-act his part. He ends up coming across as a normal guy who just so happens to be selfish and evil rather than a stereotypical, mad villain.
Flash Gordon so far has Flash avoiding giant iguanas, befriending lion-men, trying to survive a giant lobster-creature and an octopus, and fighting beast-men and shark-men. And that’s all while trying to keep Dale safe from Ming’s hot, but evil daughter, who wants Flash to herself. It’s a cornucopia of fantastic scifi-pulp ideas. No wonder it was such a hit.
The special effects blow by today’s standards, but that’s really part of it’s charm because it’s so much fun otherwise. This is easily my favorite of the three.
Undersea Kingdom is another fun one, but it’s nowhere near being in the same class as Flash Gordon. Flash is actually good, even though it’s got dated effects. Undersea Kingdom is absolutely terrible, but hilariously so. If memory serves, Mystery Science Theater 3000 may have done their magic on an edited version of it.
It’s all about Ray “Crash” Corrigan — whom I’ve always heard of, but didn’t know anything about — and his friends, all of whom are cheesy stereotypes. Crash is a flawless hero and his pals are a brilliant scientist who’s developed a world-threatening technology that has to be kept safe from the wrong hands, a scrappy boy-sidekick, a plucky girl-reporter, and a couple of cowardly, comic-relief sailors. All of them hop in the scientist’s sub to check out strange goings on in the Atlantic and wind up discovering Atlantis.
The plot and setting aren’t that bad actually. Atlantis is a mixture of societies and technologies. The good guys ride horses and are led by a high priest who looks like King Vitamin. Their culture is kinda Roman-esque with their chariots, trials by arena-fight, and whatnot. The bad guys — led by a Asian-looking tyrant named Unga Khan — also ride horses, but are supported by robots in hovercars. Fun stuff.
What makes it laughable are the designs. I’ll show pictures in one of the future posts, but between the clunky robots and everyone’s goofy headwear, it’s hard to take any of it seriously. I keep imagining what it might look like with updated effects, cooler designs, and better actors, though and I like it a lot more.
Filed Under adventure, comics, mystery, writing is hard
- I’ve always loved the “gentleman bandit” concept, whether it’s Robin Hood, or V from V for Vendetta, or any number of dashing highwaymen in film and literature. The juxtaposition of a guy who can charm you while taking all your stuff is strangely appealing. Which is why I’m thankful for Bookgasm’s reminder that Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Thief (along with other French pulp novels) has been re-released and is ready for my enjoyment.
Other Comics News
- Top Shelf is holding a massive sale on its graphic novels. You have spend at least $30 to get the deal, but you can get tons of great books for $1 or $3 each. Even the titles that don’t get those discounts are cut back significantly, like 20% off of books like Lost Girls and From Hell.
Writing is Hard
- With the new postage increases coming up, writers may be confused about how much postage to put on their submission SASEs. The post office has the solution: Forever stamps.
Filed Under adventure, comics, horror, kill all monsters, superheroes, wonder woman, writing is hard
- I haven’t heard this reported anywhere else yet, but comiXtreme claims that Gail Simone is leaving Birds of Prey and being replaced by Sean McKeever. I’d heard that she was being considered for the new writer on Wonder Woman (though I don’t remember where and Google isn’t helping me find it), which would be an answer to my complaint from yesterday, but I’m considering all of this rumor for now. (Update: It’s not rumor and I just remember where I read it: Dad Didio’s “DC Nation” column this week.)
- Jason Rodriguez is promoting his new anthology Postcards all this week on the Newsarama blog. It’s a great concept and from the talent involved, it’s going to be a great book. Yesterday, Rodriguez interviewed a couple of contributors including Kill All Monsters!‘ Jason Copland, and he was kind enough to mention KAM! too.
Writing is Hard
- I like to think I’m Mary Sue-proof, but here’s a funny litmus test to determine if your main character needs some more thought. Fortunately, my characters all pass, but it’s pretty hilarious that Bono from U2 doesn’t.
Filed Under adventure, agents of atlas, comics, firefly, mary marvel, rex libris, scifi, smallville, star wars, wonder woman, writing is hard
Sorry. Busy day yesterday. Catching up today.
- Wonder Woman is a character who’ve I’ve always wanted to be interested in, but whose comic I’ve never been able to stick with for very long. I’ve got a longer post in me about why that is, but apparently, I’m not alone. The Roar of Comics expresses some of the same feelings I have, and Fortress of Fortitude offers a sound suggestion for how to fix the problem.
- Speaking of Wonder Woman, TV’s Wonder Woman Lynda Carter is going to be on Smallville on April 19th, playing Chloe’s mom. Now if they’d only get Adam West for an episode or twenty.
- More Draw Mary Marvel goodness.
- I could’ve sworn I mentioned the Rex Libris movie before, but I’m not finding it in my archives. Anyway, it has a scriptwriter now. Rex Libris is one of my favorite comics. It’s about how a librarian/secret agent who routinely has to track down overdue books from alien warlords and the like.
- KITT for sale.
- I’ve been scratching my head over why DC wants to publish another Green Arrow: Year One mini-series when they’ve already got a perfectly good one. I wasn’t planning on getting the new one until I just learned that Andy Diggle is writing it. I’m curioius though. In the interview behind that last link, neither Diggle nor the interviewer so much as mentions Green Arrow: The Wonder Year and that seems like a huge elephant in the room that they’re ignoring.
- Man, I love Jeff Parker. He’s doing everything he possibly can to get a second Agents of Atlas series going. First he’s got the team appearing in an upcoming story in Marvel Adventures: Avengers, and after that they’ll show up in Spider-Man Family.
- If you’ve been wanting to try a new graphic novel, but didn’t know where to start, Tom Spurgeon’s Top 50 Comics from 2006 is the perfect place. It’s an amazing list. Some of them (like The Ticking and Kampung Boy) I’ve read and completely agree that they need to be on the list. Others (Absolute DC: The New Frontier and The Complete Peanuts, for example) have been on my wish list for a while now and Tom only strengthens my resolve to buy and enjoy them. But best of all are books like Elmer and The Mourning Star that I’d never heard of and can’t wait to read now.
Writing is Hard
Stuff Nobody Cares About But Me
- This is roundabout news, but I trust the source. According to Warren Ellis‘ email newsletter, word from Aaron Sorkin’s office is that Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is pretty much dead. It was “temporarily” replaced by Black Donnellys to see how that show would do in the time slot, but now that Donnellys has been cancelled, the slot’s going to a reality show about wedding crashers. That sucks. I liked Studio 60 a lot, and I loved seeing Matthew Perry on TV again.
Filed Under 30 days of night, adventure, fairy tales, fantasy, hellboy, horror, lovecraft, mystery, pirates, sherlock holmes, zorro
- Hot on the heels of Dynamite’s announcement of a new Zorro comic comes Moonstone’s announcement of a new Zorro prose anthology. It’s planned for a Christmas 2007 release.
- Here’s a story about a stupid, entitled kid who thought he could exploit freedom-of-religion in order to dress up like a pirate and disrupt his class at school. I’m all for dressing up like a pirate, but claiming to truly believe in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? The kid says, “If this is what I believe in, no matter how stupid it might sound, I should be able to express myself however I want to.” To which I agree in concept, but how stupid does he think people are? I hate how much this makes me sound like an old fart, but the kid’s arrogance really cheeses me off.
- This is as much horror as it is mystery. I’m not a video gamer because I’d never get anything else done if I played them. But if I was, I’d really want to be playing Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened right now, which combines Holmes with Lovecraftian horror.
- Sam Raimi isn’t only producing the current 30 Days of Night film; he’s also working on a prequel.
- Dark Horse has released info about the next B.P.R.D. series, called “Killing Ground”: “Abe’s encounter in Indonesia has brought a new member to the Bureau, and Johann finds himself in possession of a very valuable commodity. The B.P.R.D. will need all of its resources to handle the sinister forces that have wormed their way into the heart of the Bureau itself, blurring the lines between the hunters and their prey!”
Stuff Nobody Cares About But Me
- In honor of yesterday, the Top 100 April Fool’s Hoaxes of All Time.
- Zach Braff has a trailer from his and Jason Bateman’s new movie The Ex up on his blog. He says, “My easy sell for the movie is this: if you laugh at Arrested Development and Scrubs and prefer your comedy a little on the dark side and always loved it when shows would crossover each other like when Mrs. Garrett left Arnold to run a girls school or when the Globetrotters ended up on both Gilligan’s Island and Scooby Doo, then this is the movie for you.” It’s definitely the movie for me, then.
Filed Under adventure, comics, fantasy, harry potter, horror, mary marvel, mystery, scifi, star wars, superheroes
- I knew people were gonna jump onto this Draw Mary Marvel thing. I’m glad, too.
- I’d forgotten that Mark Twain wrote a mystery novel with Tom Sawyer as the detective until Joe Hilliard recently reminded me of it. It’s called, oddly enough, Tom Sawyer, Detective and you can read it online for free.
- Every time Ed Gorman writes a new column for Bookgasm, my reading list gets longer. This time it’s because of his recommendation of Mystery Scene magazine, which Ed describes as “the pre-eminent news and feature magazine of the mystery field. Hard-boiled or cozy, old novels or new, movies, audio, TV … whatever aspect of mystery fiction interests you, you’ll find it in Mystery Scene. And presented in a package that’s professional, easy to read and worthy of design and layout awards.” I’m getting a subscription.
- Bookgasm also has an interview up with horror/suspense writer Gary Williams who’s apparently having a lot of success with a self-published trilogy about “two friends … who uncover ancient artifacts – tools – in Florida, which are integrated into local history and ultimately linked to the Old Testament.” Williams says that “the tools, however, have been contaminated and their ancient purposes mutated. As other forces seek to gain their control, the underlying purpose as to why the tools have been discovered in the present day leads to a startling revelation.” He also says that reviewers are comparing him to Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, with some Stephen King thrown in.
- Wow. I much prefer the cover to the British adult version of the new Harry Potter book. There’s also some extra text on the flaps that tell a bit more about the story: “Harry has been burdened with a dark, dangerous and seemingly impossible task: that of locating and destroying Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes. Never has Harry felt so alone, or faced a future so full of shadows. But Harry must somehow find within himself the strength to complete the task he has been given. He must leave the warmth, safety, and companionship of The Burrow and follow without fear or hesitation the inexorable path laid out for him…
“In this final, seventh instsallment of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling unveils in spectacular fashion the answers to the many questions that have been so eagerly awaited. The spellbinding, richly woven narrative, which plunges, twists and turns at a breathtaking pace, confirms the author as a mistress of storytelling, whose books will be read, reread and read again.”
- I don’t know how I forgot to post about this yesterday, but here’s all the info on the Star Wars stamps and other mailing paraphernalia that the post office has. I’ve found the Artoo mailbox in Saint Paul, too. As soon as I can get over there with a camera, I’ll get a picture of it.