The Doctor Strange trailer has landed!

What a way to wake up this morning – seeing Twitter ablaze with links to the trailer for the Dr. Strange film! I’ve been looking forward to this since it was a announced as I’ve always been a fan of these slightly offbeat comics, where the focus is on other realities, rather than heroes knocking six bells out of each other (though I’m obviously a fan of that too!).

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Stephen Strange, a neurosurgeon whose hubris lands him with useless hands and a need to find a cure, wherever that takes him. He ends up a student of an ancient mystic ‘in the East’ and eventually becomes Earth’s ‘Sorcerer Supreme’. As I’ve said before, Cumberbatch seems like the ideal actor for this role – he does haughty disdain so well, which is really all Stephen Strange had to work with before his car accident.

In this trailer, we get the briefest of glimpses into the origin story: the car wreck, his travels to the Asia and his meeting with ‘The Ancient One‘, played by Tilda Swinton. Cue lots of mystic arts and mind-bending travels through other realities and we have the makings of an excellent Marvel flick.

The very final scene is what set my heart aflutter – mere seconds of Strange, wearing his red cape, walking up the steps towards the iconic window that looks out from his Sanctum Santorum.

This is (hopefully) going to be a welcome change of tone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Somewhere between the Avengers and the Netflix-based dark violence of Daredevil. And boy does Benedict Cumberbatch look like he was born to play this role.

Oh how they’ve changed…

An epic post from Comic Book Resources, outlining all the various teams the X-Men (and spin-offs) have constituted since the 60s.

I’m not that old, but I remember from number 3 onwards. Such happy memories of hours spent reading x-books (even when they were so god-awful back in the 90s) and trying to figure out the horribly complex back-stories of all the characters.

I must have read Jim Lee’s issue 275 a hundred times. That and his X-Men #1 were truly things of beauty.

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Though I have to admit I’m enjoying Avengers and Star Wars far more these days…

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man #1

I know what you’re thinking. Another Spider-Man relaunch? Just how complicated can a Spider-Man story get? He swings between buildings and delivers snappy one-liners while smacking the bejaysus out of costumed criminals. 

Before you get too cynical and wonder why the need for a new #1 issue, let me explain that this is more fundamental revisting of the Spider-Man story than anything I’ve seen in years. 

And it’s excellent

  

I won’t spoil it with too many details, but time has passed since the events of Secret Wars and now Peter Parker isn’t a penniless down-on-his-luck researcher and part-time crime-fighter. He’s more like a Tony Stark, if Tony Stark had a conscience. 

There are quite a few twists and turns in the first few pages alone and, along with a guest appearance from Mockingbird (presently kicking ass in Agents of SHIELD on TV right now), a certain Spider-vehicle makes a welcome return. 

This is the best #1 issue I’ve read in some time, though I have to say there are more than a few ‘catch up’ moments, where the writer has had to crow-bar in some characters to bring new readers up to date. It’s not too distracting, but the entire issue is just one “Boom!” scene after another. 

Excellent writing (as ever) by Dan Slott, a superb cover by the elegendary Alex Ross and some nice interior art by Giuseppe Camulcoli make for a great first issue. Based on Dan Slott’s work on Spirder-Man in recent years, I was definitely going to give this one a go. But it became a definite subscription in my Comixology account as soon as I’d finished reading it. 

Just before I started reading it over from the start. 

If you like Spider-Man and have enjoyed Dan Slott’s earlier writing, you’ll love this. It gets multiple thumbs up from me. 

Review: Ant-Man

So, Ant-Man was excellent. Like a cross between Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers. Fun, action-packed and exciting.

Deep and meaningful cinema it is not. But do you go to see a Marvel flick to explore the meaning of life, or to watch the characters you grew up reading about, up on a big screen, smacking seven shade of crap out of each other?

Yes, exactly.

Despite my earlier misgivings, Michael Douglas was excellent as Hank Pym. I’m glad they hinted at his darker side (oh yes, he’s got quite the back-story) and at least mentioned his wife. Lots of dangling plot threads and not one, but two post-credits scenes the dedicated Marvel fans will have to watch. (That and some excellent, though short, Avengers content. No spoilers!)

Me? I thought they were well worth the wait. @FrankDJS was much less impressed.

I’m looking forward to seeing Scott Lang return as Ant-Man in any of Marvel’s upcoming films. Paul Rudd is excellent and just spot-on for this not quite heroic hero. In case you’ve missed it, here’s the trailer.

Thoughts on the new Fantastic Four trailer

After two distinctly average attempts to put the Fantastic Four on the big screen, they’re back for one more try. And this trailer indicates they’re not going for the shiny shiny happy tone of the last couple – it has a pretty dark tone to it.

Hard to tell at this point – with such little to go on – what this will turn out like. (Though I’m sure that hasn’t stopped millions of geeks worldwide stating their considered opinion on the film mere seconds after watching the teaser trailer).

While the original story had Reed Richards and chums fly themselves into space, this looks more like they get caught in some kind of scientific experiment gone wrong. Either way, we get to see a little bit of Johnny Storm’s ‘Flame On!’ routine and what looks like Ben Grimm appearing from a pile of rubble as ‘The Thing’.

I’ll definitely give it a go, though I wasn’t a massive fan of the two previous iterations. I really enjoy seeing what the studios do with these long standing characters and how they introduce them to geeks and non-fans alike.

But in the Marvel heroes films league, I still think the Avengers films are beating the pants off the X-Men, Spider-Man and Fantastic Four franchises to date. I want to see them making more, quality comics-based films, not simply take a long-established franchise, rip out the ‘difficult bits’ and throw it up on the screen to maximise viewing figures and merchandise sales.

I think Marvel Studios did a great job introducing the Marvel Universe by tying together the Iron Man, Thor and Avengers films so far. Not to mention Captain America. It’s just a shame that legal wrangling prevents the studios from bringing all these characters under one umbrella – they’ve already demonstrated that moviegoers like the notion of a joined-up fictional ‘universe’.

Why not make it more inclusive?

Regardless of what happens to the Richards family after this film, Marvel has plenty lined up to keep us busy for the next few years.

Which makes this particular geek extremely happy indeed.

“Agent Carter” sneak peak

Oooh. Marvel have released a sneak peek of the new Agent Carter show that starts January. The same Agent Carter as featured in the Captain America films, who helped to found S.H.I.E.L.D. All set in the post-war era, this looks sweet.

Just a few weeks until it airs in the US. Hope it doesn’t take too long to make it over to the UK.

Inhumans coming to S.H.I.E.L.D.?

I really quite like this theory/rumour/potential spoiler. If you haven’t seen the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., look away now.

Could they be about to introduce some Inhumans into the story? I hope so. I had Skye marked as either a) Jessica Drew, b) Bobbie Morse or c) Carol Danvers from the end of the last series. Obviously, I was wrong. I think.

But if the blue body in the tank is a Kree, then Skye (and her father, played by Kyle MacLachlan) could be Inhumans. Marvel have already announced there’s going to be an Inhumans film in 2018.

Could they possibly introduce them on TV four years earlier? Maybe to build up a fan base?

Either way, this season of S.H.I.E.L.D. is hotting up for a big reveal in the coming weeks. Will we get to see Skye and her father share some quality time? Will be get to see more Kree bodies in tanks?

Marvel have really hit their stride with this series. It’s no longer something I watch because I’m a geek who’s addicted to comics and still thrilled to see Agent Coulson on TV, but because it’s entertaining, fun and engaging.

And because they’ve introduced Mockingbird.

Yes.

Some really “amazing adventures”…

3985Two nights ago, I finished what is now my favourite book of the year (so far!): Michael Chabon’s “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay”.

I read his “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” earlier this year and loved every page. “…Kavalier and Clay” was even better.

Set before the USA decided to join in the fun and games of the Second World War, we meet two cousins and follow their lives through to the 1950s. Brought together by blood, religion and a love of comics, they get in on the act early, writing and drawing their own superheroes.

It follows their humble beginnings in the comic book industry to fame and fortune after they hit the big time with a successful hero. The acknowledgements at the end of the book reference so many of the comic book greats, it just shows the author did his research.

The scope of the story is impressive, with regular, incredibly detailed flashbacks to pre-war Europe and various other historical asides. I found it incredibly engrossing – I suppose my love of comics helped! – but even someone who knows nothing about comics or even actively dislikes the medium could enjoy this book.

The characters are never boring. Intense, interesting, not always likeable. But I ended up caring about what happened to each of them, which I think is a mark of writer’s skill.

I was drawn in for hours at a time. It made for some tough early mornings after too little sleep, but I don’t regret a minute of it.

Kavalier and Clay was one of the books I was genuinely sorry to see finish. While simultaneously feeling a tension in also wanted to know what happened to all the characters “in the end”.

I found it moving, compelling and beautifully written. If you like creativity, respect passionate artists and enjoy reading about the creative process, this is for you. A love of ‘golden age’ super hero antics wouldn’t go amiss either.

Five stars for sure.

Shut. The Front. Door.

Marvel just announced a whole heap of magnificent superhero movies, all the way up to 2019.

If that sentence doesn’t fill you with glee, keep on walking and find a blog about trainspotting or something.

I caught the end of the liveblog, but in just a few minutes, they announced the following:

  • Captain America: Civil War, May 2016
  • Doctor Strange, November 2016
  • Thor: Ragnarok, July 2017
  • Black Panther, November 2017
  • Captain Marvel, July 2018
  • Avengers: Infinity War Part 1, May 2018
  • Inhumans, November 2018
  • Avengers: Infinity War Part 2, May 2019

That list of titles just literally gave me goosebumps.

I’m thrilled there’s talk of Benedict Cumberbatch playing Doctor Strange, who is a character with mountains of potential. An arrogant surgeon who is forced to change his ways, picking up knowledge and expertise in the mystical arts as he goes along. Eventually, he becomes ‘Sorcerer Supreme’ and battles demons. A lot. I hope it’s suitably dark and that Cumberbatch gets to be acidic and droll.

News of a Black Panther film is also fantastic. The king of a technologically advanced African nation (Wakanda), T’Challa is the Black Panther, who has frequently been a member of the Avengers and generally kicked ass across multiple comic titles since he was created in the 1960s.

If played as his most recent incarnation, he would be an excellent intelligent and capable foil to Tony Stark’s arrogance and Nick Fury’s cynicism.

Yes, I’m still hoping Nick Fury will return in a big way.

If I’m honest though, I’m most excited at the news there’s going to be a Captain Marvel film out of all of this.

Combining Avengers mythos with adventures in outer space, the most recent incarnation of the character (Carol Danvers) is fantastically popular. Seriously – just search Twitter for #CarolCorps.

(There have been several characters with that name, so I wonder if they’ll attempt to explain any of that up front or just cut straight to the chase.)

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Carol Danvers is another capable female hero (seriously, filmmakers – we need MORE of these), whom I hope ends up on the Avengers roster just like in the comics. She has a pretty convoluted history, even for a superhero, so Marvel are probably going to have to strip a lot of that out to keep it all accessible. Just like in Guardians of the Galaxy.

And if they can repeat the mix of adventure and humour that made Guardians such a success, it will introduce Carol to a whole new generation of fans who don’t read the comics. And even if you don’t, I can serious – seriously – recommend the present run by Kelly-Sue DeConnick. Totes amazeballs.

So many (potentially) good films, so long to wait….

My only (very slight) disappointment is the lack of a Black Widow film announcement. Another fantastic female hero who could more than carry a solo film. She was great in Avengers and Captain America: Winter Soldier.

Still. Marvel are bringing my childhood comics life to the big screen and if it’s all as good as Winter Soldier and Guardians, I’ll be queuing up with every other geek in town.

And now to start the casting rumours.

(Katie Sackhoff for Captain Marvel!!)