23 Below Zero in Chicago Today but at Least the Obama Spider-Man Comic Book Arrived

So this week in Chicago, today in particular, it’s been cold as a hell. Since last night it’s been getting colder hour by hour and right now at mid-day its nearly 25 below (with the wind-chill, as they say, but whose counting…). At any rate this really isn’t a weather blog so I won’t linger, but please enjoy the image below from a weather site. Last year I kept taking pictures of the Chicago style snow and putting them on the blog, but this year…I dunno, I figure if people want to see those pictures they can check the archives.


But the big story this week-in terms of fun-is the Spider-Man comic book featuring the President Elect Barack Obama. Oh Marvel Comics first you kill Captain America and now this? You wouldn’t happen to be chasing Press this year are you? I won’t ruin the story for with a recap but I WILL put an image up for you steal. You’re welcome! To be honest I’ve got about 5 or 6 Obama pieces in various states of completion, but again, I dunno…I think I might be suffering from Obama fatigue. And I kind of think a lot of people are. Well let me be more precise people are SICK of Bush, but they’re still a little tired of the elect Obama process. But in terms of the man, not only are not people tired of him they’re finding new and expanding ways to pay tribute. I’ve dubbed this man The First T-Shirt President. Clearly that’s just me, because many people have doctored pictures to show him in a super-hero setting. So this comic book was pretty much inevitable.


Think about the comic book is just the tip of the iceberg. They’re so much Obama stuff out there it’s crazy. Not since those popular “I Like Ike” buttons about Eisenhower have you seen people actually wearing something about the President that wasn’t a joke; like an “I’m with Stupid” shirt pointing to a Bush picture or something like that. And I’m not going to fault people for a) cashing in with any product they can get people to buy (in these times especially) or b) wanting somebody to believe in. And really that’s what it comes down to; having a guy who was actually elected by the people and the electoral college in no uncertain terms. The very act of saying “yes” to a Black President is a gesture that screams forward and upwards. But people wear Obama shirts like those Che Guevara shirts that became people about 20 years ago. And that my friend says “man of the people.”

Anyway later that night the weather got a little more serious. Actually, it got even COLDER after midnight, but it would have been against the spirit of this piece about “today” if I had shown an image form the next day.


The Brave and the Bold on Cartoon Network is Batman–centric but Accurate

So a couple of new super hero cartoons have come out recently (actually a few, but we’re gonna stick to traditional Marvel and DC). Like the Wolverine and the X-Men and of course the Brave and the Bold. The B and the B is actually a long standing comic book series which comes and goes in the DC universe which seem to depend on how many original ideas they can come up with and whether or not their main titles are selling. See, I didn’t grow up reading DC, except for the occasional Flash, I read Marvel. And Marvel also has this idea of pairing heroes in a series they call Marvel Team Ups. In fact like Xerox become synonymous with making copies the term “team up” is pretty much the phrase you use when talking about, well, a team up. But DC called their team up series the Brave and the Bold. Got it?


So with this new TV series their doing team ups-except only with Batman. In the comic books it can be anybody. I mean it tends to feature Batman a lot, but it can be Supergirl and Green Lantern or just whoever they feel like pairing. Team ups are fun. Because it mixes heroes with different people, and it’s not a heavy thing like the Justice League or the Avengers involving a whole bunch of people, just a couple of heroes trying to work together when normally they might not ever speak to each other for months or years.

This new animated series (cartoon!) is a weird mix of old and new. What do I mean? Well they’ve got Batman with the yellow chest emblem. And the black bat on a yellow oval tends to refer to the more “friendly” Batman that you might see hanging out with Robin. As opposed the black bat with no yellow-no, that Batman is the haunted, bitter, tormented, driven, solitary “Dark Knight.” And in a weird twist-or rather a new trend I’m seeing a lot of-a comic book based onthe cartoon is now coming out. It’s a little snake-eatin-it’s-own-tail.


Its fun. They’re are jokes and light mood, I mean they’ve got Diedrich Bader from the Drew Carey show as the voice, but the show’s not necessarily child skewed. It’s not as dark as Justice League would sometimes; I would say it’s about on the level of the original Ben 10 show. And all kinds of characters are showing up. Recently they had Jaime as the Blue Beetle so you really feel like the show is up to date.


We’ve also seen Etrigan and Morgaine Le Fey.


Speed Racer Crashes and Burns. Not to Worry the SuperHeroes are Coming Soon

So I was at hitsville and read about Nkki Finke’s assessment of the Speed Racer opening weekend. It’s the type of piece that most people outside of Hollywood probably aren’t uses to; its got that vendetta laced tone; a happy to see others fail/tossing of facts and figures to prove the point feel. No other industry outside of showbiz will openly display that kind of rancor without justification. Her mid-weekend prediction was that the film wasn’t going to make the 20 million dollar mark that the studio was aiming for. The film did NOT make the mark, they only generated about 18.5 on a film that probably cost 150 million to make. Keep in mind Jon Favreau from Iron Man said on Leno that if they had only made 50 million instead of a 100 in their opening weekend THEY would have been considered failures too. But that’s how Hollywood works, it’s a smile in your face then stab you in the back/hope everybody except my own projectfails kind of world. And as a wannabe actor I spent about 20 years of my life in it. And now with MY movie on it’s way to being made, I’ll be heading back into the field next year.

Personally I’m a big fan of Nikki, I started reading her when she was still at the LA Weekly, and it was quite clear she was an insider who had become an “outside.” Clearly she still had enough contacts, and the ability to piece together enough facts, to write informative as hell articles out. Then she got scooped up by what Harry Shearer calls the "LA Dogtrainer." Yeech! I better clarify that reference; Harry is the voice of Smithers, Mr. Burns, the Family Doctor and a bunch of other characters on the Simpsons, but he also does a great weekly radio show called “Le Show on KCRW/NPR. And the "Dogtrainer" is slang for the LA Times.

But I’m afraid it’s not hard to see what went down with the Speed Racer thing. I loved the cartoon and I love what the Wachowski brothers did for film with the Matrix. They’re a couple of Chicago guys into comic books and movies-like me-so they’ve got a warm place in my heart. But let’s face it, MOST of their movies have not been great. I’m not going to list them all, go to IMDB if you want to look at their track record. But they just went at this Speed thing the wrong way; they’re taking a kinda obscure, OLD, Japanese cartoon and turning it into live action. First of all, who’s the movie for? I mean the movie starts with bad language and the middle finger, so is that for kids? But they have all these…crazy ass, bright, flashing colors-is that for adults who remember the show? I mean it’s just mixed messages. The commercial didn’t look good. In fact the ONLY thing that looked good was the idea of doing the movie; that probably looked good on paper, and it sounded good to me. But that commercial made me think…well….

But not to worry! I’ve talked before on this blog about all the superheroes movies currently in various stages of production. They are coming to the rescue of movie studios. See what most people don’t get is that Hollywood is OUT of ideas and they have been for a long time. Twenty years, at least, that I know about. And they don’t know what to do out there except follow the leader. If something hits they other studios pounce and to THEIR version of the same movie. It’s comical. Despite getting thousands of interesting scripts they rarely take chances. But I also understand their predicament. NOTHING is getting cheaper in our world. Nothing. And so every year they’re faced with putting out movies with constantly rising prices; they can’t afford to be “risky” and “innovative.” They’ve got to keep the ship on course to keep money coming in. And they have to scavenge everything available to keep making their movies. Remember when a movie came out and it would be a year before it came out on video? Juno is ALREADY on DVD!

Iron Man is doing well because it was done right. And except for Bat Man and Spider-Man movies, they keep misfiring with these superhero movies. Maybe they need to have the “Man” in their titles. Because the last Hulk movie was ridiculous and the new one looks bad too . Maybe a little better, but the impetus is wrong and you can see it. Favreau and Rami TRULY like those comic book characters and it shows. Ang Lee for the Hulk? This is so insulting I wont even address it. And you can tell this new Ed Norton Hulk is an “Ed Norton” production. You see his actor fingerprints all over it. You can just imagine him saying something like, “I really want to get into the character for Bruce Banner and why he feels the need to become the Hulk.” When it becomes an actor’s vehicle or a director’s excuse to convey some theme it’s dead. I wrote about the new Mark Miller comic Wanted becoming a movie , but it’s now an Angelina Jolie vehicle, so it’s going to be dead on arrival too. Just stick to the story.