The third episode (which is actually a continuation of the second episode, but who’s counting) of Ben & Josh’s Near Mint Comic Show is live! Go to the Podcasts page to listen to this episode along with the first two, or subscribe to our feed through iTunes.
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DC’s Vertigo line has long claimed to be “the HBO of comics”. With the debut of HBO’s newest series, True Blood, it may prove to be just that. While there is no direct relationship, True Blood bears some striking similarities to Vertigo’s 2004 mini-series, Bite Club.
True Blood, the latest brainchild of writer/director Alan Ball (American Beauty, Six Feet Under), follows Louisiana waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) through a world where Vampires have gone public and become part of society. Thanks to the invention of a synthetic blood substitute called – you guessed it – Tru Blood, vampires have made themselves known and are accepted (albeit hesitantly) into our culture. In the first episode we see a TV interview with Nan Flanagan, a spokesperson for the ‘American Vampire League.’
In Bite Club, co-written by Howard Chaykin and David Tischman with art by David Hahn, we’re introduced to the Del Toro crime family a vampire mafia operating in Miami. Vampires in Bite Club have similarly made themselves known and enjoy a place in society thanks to the blood substitute/illicit drug, ‘Plasmagoria’. The vampires of Bite Club have turned their hunger away from human flesh and towards money, power and fame. The tenuous relationship between vampires and humans leads to the development of the ‘Vampire Crime Unit’ – the subject of the second Bite Club mini-series.
Even the promotional art for True Blood looks familiar, when viewed alongside the cover of Bite Club‘s first issue, penciled by Frank Quietly (All Star Superman). Other promotional efforts behind True Blood include viral sites for both the Tru Blood beverage and the American Vampire League as well as an online comic.
True Blood is not based on Bite Club but rather on the novels of author Charlaine Harris. Still, the similarities are undeniable and fans of Bite Club will likely enjoy HBO’s latest original series. Moreover, if the masses respond to True Blood, Bite Club and Vertigo could provide a hook to turn TV viewers into comic readers. The serialized storytelling of comics and trade paperback collections will be very familiar to fans who’ve grown accustomed to HBO’s seasonal installments. And the Vertigo line serves up a similar buffet of sex, violence and adult themes that HBO fans will love.
The recently finished Vertigo series, Y: The Last Manwas long-rumored to become and HBO series but will instead see a 2009 theatrical release. Marvel writer, Brian Michael Bendis (Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man) is currently working on a pilot for HBO that, while not comic-based, could be another crossover opportunity to bring in new readers. And as comics continue to creep in to the mainstream, it’s clear that there are plenty of comics-fans-in-waiting. So the next time you’re at the water cooler, talking the Wire or Lost with coworkers, suggest a trade of your favorite series and see if anyone bites.
-Zodiac screenwriter Jamie Vanderbilt is working on the script for 4.
-There has been no formal villain speculated, but the post says their source explains we’ll know who is playing it after it is announced. Perhaps the Lizard (played by Dylan Baker) or Man-Wolf (Daniel Gillies) is being considered based on their roles in past movies, but that seems to lack some sizzle.
-No news on Kiersten Dunst, but the blog doesn’t seem to think she is getting a shot based on ‘rehab’ issues.
A few quick notes before I jump in to some brief reviews of my pull-list last week:
-Moving sucks. There is no other way to say it, but holy s**t, it really, really sucks. My move from Manchester, NH, to Portland, ME, was successful and I happily and wearily type this from my new temporary home at my friend Rob’s house. Much luck to my partner Ben as he makes the crosstown move into he and wife Jen’s first home! Great place and I hope we’ll reunite to p’cast there very soon.
-Our regular podcast will return shortly, but I think Ben is finishing some additional audio we recorded just over a week ago to help bridge the gap. Hope to hear that soon and get on a regular schedule sometime in mid-September.
-I am currently listening to the first two-hour edition of the Brian Bendis Fall Word Balloon interview. You can get that here.
Now…some mini-reviews! There are spoilers included so tread lightly if you haven’t read any of these:
-Kick-Ass 4: I still am amazed at how violent this book is…and that’s a great thing. This was a decent ish, but it seemed to fly by and not cover too much of the Dave/Kick-Ass character. Mainly, this focused on this new power killer duo made up of a large man (Big Daddy) and a 10-year-old (Hit-Girl) you see at the end of issue 3. Johnny G (mob boss) is increasingly concerned about his business due to Kick Ass, Big Daddy and Hit Girl’s vigilance. There is a lot of filler penciled pages at the end when we could have used more story. If this starts shipping regularly, I think that’ll help appease me but I wasn’t left with a wow feeling that 1-3 gave me.
-New Avengers 44: This latest Secret Invasion tie-in covers how the Skrulls figured out how to avoid being detected in their shape-shifted form. Basically, they cloned Reed Richard and monitored him, using his mannerisms from the cloning to determine what his thought process would be. An interesting subplot you’re seeing in S.A. is that the conversion that the Skrulls are undergoing are sometimes going too deep and that the Skrulls are actually acting like they are the people they are imitating. I got confused near the end of this issue, but reading a few boards helped me figure this out. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.
-Mighty Avengers 17: This covers Hank Pym – the guy who is really about 100 different heroes – and the issues the Skrulls had in finding a good candidate to take him over. Issue 17 covers the problems they had. This was kinda blah because I don’t really care about the Pym character to begin with. However, when coupled with New Avengers 44, you start to see the underpinnings of how the Marvel Universe is going to defeat the Skrulls in the end.
-1985 4 (of 6): F’n awesome. Enough said.
-Ultimate Spider-Man 125: The continuation of the War of the Symbiotes arc sees Venom on the loose and the Beetle (suddenly cool) in hot pursuit, slicing off a tendril in battle to keep as a sample. Spidey jumps into battle and within a few minutes, the symbiote rolls off Venom and back onto Spidey, giving us our final panel which makes our hero look more like Grendel than a symbiote-covered Spider-Man. Are people really into this series anymore? I still religiously pick it up, but I never feel excited to read USM.
-Amazing Spider-Man 568-569: The first two issues of the six-ish arc New Ways To Die didn’t
disappoint. 568 helps set the scene as Norman Osborn is asked by old friend Randall Crowne to help support his campaign against Hollister. Part of this initative is to bring in our favorite fugitive as part of his Thunderbolts crew, featuring Venom, Radioactive Man and Songbird. The backup tale focuses on Eddie Brock being cured of cancer, a ‘miracle’ that is part of many happening at the F.E.A.S.T. center run by new bad guy Mr. Negative.
However, issue 569 really kicks it up as while searching for Spider-Man, Venom senses his old host at the center and then attacks, surprised to see Eddie Brock instead of Spidey. While trying to kill him, something starts changing in Brock and our last panel gives us the new character of Anti-Venom. Sigh. I was really hoping that the Venom symbiote would return back to Brock, but perhaps there is still hope. Also of note was an interlude with Norman and Harry Osborn that causes Harry to show a bit of his aggressive side (heavy foreshadowing here…Menace perhaps?). Mr. Liu/Negative is shown earlier talking to Brock and obviously, he is the reason for Brock’s transformation. Negative is turning out to be a major player in the new Spider-verse and I’m interested to hear more about his backstory at some point.
Alright…that’s enough for now. There are plenty of good books out there, so go get ’em!
One of the panels Ben and I hit up at New York Comic Con was the Virgin Comics panel featuring the announcement of thier deal with Stan Lee. While it was awesome to see the godfather of comics, I was very skeptical about how things were going to work out. Attempting to launch a major comics line isn’t the easiest thing to do in this day and age, where if you’re not Marvel/DC/Image or a hip indy line, people aren’t going to take you seriously.
Well, part of my skepticism was warranted as Virgin Comics announced today they are closing their New York operation to move operations to their Los Angeles branch. From Newsarama via a Virgin press release:
“The Company is currently working with management to restructure the business and will release its future plans in the next few weeks.
Sharad Devarajan, CEO, said, “We remain excited about the business and partnerships we have built through Virgin Comics and are working towards a restructuring that properly takes the business forward. The decision to scale down the New York operations and concentrate on core activities is due to the current macro-economic downturn and is in no way a reflection on the dedicated and valuable employees we have had the privilege to work with.””
You can read the full Newsarama article here, but when you’re restructuring a comic line and closing down offices, that can’t be good. My guess is that by the next NY Con, Virgin will be deflowered and non-existent.
Interesting read via VH1 today about whether Harvey Dent/Two Face dies or lives at the end of The Dark Knight. As the movie climaxes, we see Dent laying on the ground after taking a bit of a spill and soon afterward, there is a funeral for Dent. Of course, comic fans understand that characters can be revived at any time and that anything is explainable in our medium, continuity be damned.
However, The Dark Knight script went on sale the other day and during that scene, the following is written in the stage direction:
“Dent lies at the bottom of the hole, his neck broken. DEAD.”
As the article points out, people are speculating that means Dent is dead and not Two Face but take that for what it’s worth. So the question will continue to be asked with the announcement of the next Batman movie, who will be the villains?
-DC announces third Batman, relaunch for Superman, two additional films: No big surprise here as DC announced they are making a third Batman movie which will hopefully live up to the incredible box office the second film is currently doing. The film will be part of a four-pack of films DC is launching by 2012 in hopes of eventually building towards a Justice League flick.
What I thought was interesting was the admission that Superman Returns sucked and that they are relaunching the movie franchise to take on more of a ‘darker’ tone. For Superman? Dark? Are you kidding me? I can’t stand the Supes character and think that irreparable harm has been caused to this icon over the past 10 years…at least. I’m sure Ben will disagree, but they’ll have to do a lot to make me care about this relaunch.
-First comic book app for Iphone is coming: The IPhone is awesome, but I don’t know if I’d ever read a comic on it.
-Marvel announces Spider-Man/X-Men mini: This looks interesting. Marvel announced a four-issue mini that tracks both entities through their careers from the start through current day. On the surface, it seems random but check out the info. Looks intriguing.
-Marvel releases interesting X-Men tease: Ben can speak more to this than I, but we might be on the precipice of another major X-event. Know those black-and-white Sin City-style teasers you’ve been seeing? Well, the House of Ideas dropped one featuring (we think) Gambit with the words ‘Have I ever heard of Jean Grey?’
Everyone in comics is talking about the “Kirkman Manifesto” and we couldn’t wait to get in on the discussion. In a special edition of Ben & Josh’s Near Mint Comic Show, the boys sit down to discuss Robert Kirkman’s mission statement, their reactions, and what it says about the state of comics.
Ben & Josh are moving but the Podcasts keep rolling …
With both of us moving in the next week, we knew it might be a while before we could get back “in the studio” so we released this conversation as it’s own Episode. We’ll be following up with another full-length Episode in the next couple weeks featuring news, reviews, and a look ahead upcoming releases.
But today, I just couldn’t help myself when Warren Ellis, Simone Bianchi and Axel Alonso teamed up to ruin my morning with a big bag of suck called Astonishing X-Men #26. Read my review and check out what else I’m reading at iFanboy.