Saturday, February 27, 2010

Who Will Wield The Shield?

Comic Book Resources posted this article earlier this week exploring the most valid of the rumored casting choices for the new Cap film, The First Avenger: Captain America. To be perfectly honest with you, I'm not happy with any of these choices. The only one that appeals to me in the least is Scott Porter, the Friday Night Lights actor who claims to be a big comic book fan. It would appear that he actually is a fan, too, in the sense that he reads comics and actually attends cons. Most actors up for a major superhero role will go on the late night circuit and talk about how much they loved Superman as a kid or how many dog eared copies of Captain America they have in their attic, but we all know it's BS. This Porter guy does seem to genuinely enjoy the medium though, so if it must be one of these people, I hope its him.

Anyway, this article got me thinking that I should put together my own list of possible Caps (and a few supporting cast members). Caps that would make me (and I hope a large portion of my readership) happy. I know the argument a lot of people will have with most of these choices is that they're too old, but that's ridiculous. No actor looks old and besides, once you allow someone of true talent to inhabit the role of Steve Rogers, the audience will come along for the ride, regardless whether the actor playing the role is 22 or 35. Hell, if its that big a deal, cast a kid (Justin Timberlake? haha) to play pre-serum Steve Rogers and one of these MEN to play Captain America. I'll stop soapboxing now and get to the good stuff.

Captain America

Jeremy Renner - The star of this year's surprise Oscar darling, The Hurt Locker, Jeremy Renner has been creeping around Hollywood for years. Sure, he's almost 40, but he has a look about him that says grizzled veteran while retaining a youthfulness absent in, well, actual grizzled veterans. Steve Rogers looks like that, especially when illustrated by Tim Sale or Bryan Hitch. Renner has spent most of his years bouncing around television shows and occasionally getting a bit part in some feature film. His turn in The Hurt Locker proves that he can play the inspiring, if not always by the book, style of military leader that many fans think of when they think of Captain America.

Nathan Fillion - The star of Joss Whedon's Firefly, Serenity, and Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog is no stranger to genre filmmaking. For many, he's become the smiling face of unlikely career resurgence. Fillion's square-jawed handsomeness and tongue-in-cheek approach to most of his roles makes him the perfect choice to play a whole host of superheroes. He's also no stranger to playing damaged yet heroic military characters, something he remade his career doing in Firefly/Serenity and continued in the critically acclaimed indie drama, Trucker. Sure, he's not the youngster that they prefer for most of these roles, but let's get past that, yeah? The best superhero movie of all time is Iron Man and its hero is a 44 year old ex-drug addict. Nathan Fillion was born to play superheroes, so maybe its time we let him?

Matt Damon - Since director Joe Johnston wants to cast a relative unknown in the role, asking for someone like Matt Damon is pretty much a pipe dream. While the image of Damon for many fans is probably mired to this day in the skinny, whiney and often times creepy characters he played early in his career (Good Will Hunting, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Dogma), Damon has done an excellent job of recreating himself as a thinking man's action star as his career continues to grow. Damon is very familiar with the pressure involved in taking center stage in a major blockbuster film and he's got more than enough experience playing a badass, take-down-every-sonofabitch-in-the-room-with-nothing-but-a-book solider type, so it's hard to think of someone more perfect for Cap. And you can't argue with the look. Matt Damon has retained his boyish smile and his youthful good looks while aging into a tough, masculine icon more reminiscent of Hollywood stars of old such as Michael Caine or Steve McQueen. In a perfect world, he's the perfect Cap.

Anthony Mackie - Why split up a good team? Anthony Mackie plays the man responsible for keeping Jeremy Renner's bomb specialist from dying horribly in The Hurt Locker. The two share an onscreen chemistry that is hard to ignore, settling perfectly into the subtleties of a friendship born from violence and intense stress. Mackie's performance is incredible and he shows he can more than hold his own playing the role of a combat veteran who would love to forget most of the things he's seen and who respects his duty to his country and his teammates above all else. Sounds a lot like Falcon, right?

Jeffrey Wright - Okay, so he's another guy on this list above the age of 40. So what? Jeffrey Wright looks like Falcon. And here's the thing man. Superheroes, they don't really age. Sound like anybody in our society? Actors. I'm almost 3o and I don't look any younger than Jeffrey Wright. Could he get himself into shape? If he could then he would make the perfect companion to Captain America. And we know he's got the chops. This is James Bond's right hand man after all.

Christoph Waltz - He's done it once already. Christoph Waltz played the cold, ruthless and calculating Nazi headhunter Col. Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino's WWII actioner, Inglorious Basterds. Say what you will about the film, Waltz's turn as the sophisticated yet brutal Landa is immediately reminiscent of Captain America's greatest foe, the Red Skull. It wouldn't be much of a stretch to see him in this role.

Ralph Fiennes - What was it I said about having done it before? He played an unconcerned concentration camp operator way back in Schindler's List and most recently he's played the role of Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series. Say what you will about Harry Potter (I could say volumes), but Lord Voldemort is one of the most recognizable villains in the universe these days and Fiennes does an excellent job of bringing him to life on screen. He would bring that same devotion to the Red Skull, perhaps the most frightening and recognizable of all Marvel's villains. And hey, he's no stranger to acting under a ton of prosthetic, right?

I've given you plenty to think about regarding the three main roles. Who else would you like to see here? Do you have any casting choices you'd like to discuss? What about Bucky? Do you guys have any ideas for who should play Cap's sidekick? I love doing stuff like this so I hope you guys get involved. This stuff makes for good discussion.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Motherbox

Just a quick update for you faithful readers. My friends Ian, Jon and myself will be recording the first episode of The Motherbox, our ongoing comics podcast which we hope will result in some awesomeness for you (and some free comics for us). We've got the format all laid out and we think you're really going to enjoy the witty banter and clever commentary of our nerdy triumvirate. I'll post links here as soon as the first episode goes live and I'll also be producing a Twitter feed for the podcast itself. Wish us luck, true believers!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Horror by Gaslight: The Surfing the Bleed Review of Omnitarium #1

Omnitarium #1

Writer - Jamie Gambell
Illustrator - J.C. Grande
Letterer - Bernie Lee

Issue number one of the new indy horror series, Omnitarium, offers an interesting start to what promises to be a haunting Victorian tale. Set in and around a 19th century prison, Omnitarium feels like equal parts Doyle and Lovecraft. Series creator Jamie Gambell, a film industry vet with a love for comics, has created a world inhabited by mysterious writers, overly-idealistic jailers, shadowy doctors and the omni-present threat of the supernatural. Equal parts mystery and tale of terror, the first issue offers a perfect balance of action and exposition; just enough to whet our appetite and leave us clamoring for more.

All of this is illustrated by J.C. Grande, whose heavy lines leave the reader nostalgic for early Frank Miller when the swords are flying and Bernie Wrightson when the shadows creep in. That's not to say that the art isn't without flaw, but Grande shows a true talent for the kind of penciling required to evoke the mood of a good horror story and his layouts are top notch.

There is a lot of talent to be found on the pages of this first issue. I'll be anxiously awaiting the subsequent chapters in this story, happy to watch the evolution of two burgeoning creators and the characters they've so deftly brought to life.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Surfing the Bleed Review - Robot 13 Issue #3

Whenever creators pour a healthy amount of their time into self-publishing a book, they deserve credit from their peers. Whether the finished product is worthy of sitting on the shelf next to some of the biggest and best names in comics isn't always the point. As an industry, we should always strive to support the efforts of creators who believe in a story so strongly that they're willing to sacrifice their own time and their own money and often, their own sanity, to deliver it to us.

So before I write this review of Robot 13 issue three by Thomas Hall and Daniel Bradford, I would just like to congratulate them both on finishing their first arc. I count both men as friends and I can attest to the difficulties they've encountered on their journey to this point, but I can also tell them both that its been well worth it. Robot 13 is a great comic and issue three is the best issue yet.

I'm a fan of living fiction, of life imitating art and vice versa, of moments where the line between a creator and his creation begins to blur. Perhaps that wasn't the intention of writer Thomas Hall when he set out to write this issue of his mythological epic, but sometimes stories have a way of taking over and drawing from some place deep inside of us that we're never entirely aware of. Let's detour for a moment and I'll attempt to explain what I mean.

Issue Three of R13 is a big step forward for both the writer and the artist. While the first two issues have certainly been good, issue three sets the bar much higher. When looking back on what will hopefully be two very successful careers, Hall and Bradford may well mark this point as the moment when they went from being struggling self-publishers to bonafide creators.

The same Campbell-esque hero's journey, the same myth-building, the same frightening monsters and sweeping cinematic action are here, but they're just bigger, better...more. This is where Robot 13 levels up. In this issue we find out more about the main character's backstory, discover that at least some believe him to be the newest incarnation of the deadly monster-fighting Man of Bronze (a subtle homage to Doc Savage, the character who started it all?) and are introduced to Lucky, our robot champion's newest companion. As per usual, all of these scenes are illustrated with aplomb by the immensely talented Daniel Bradford, who distances himself from the Mignola comparisons with each issue, creating a wide angle style reminiscent of Frank Quitely and John Cassaday cut through with the sort of inhuman grotesquery that is the trademark of the great horror comic illustrators of yore.

All of these things come together to create the last chapter of the first volume of Robot 13, a story that ends on a beginning. In the last panel, we see our hero walking toward the camera, his new companion in tow, heading certainly into the unknown future that awaits him. This image is reflective of the creators' path itself, as Hall and Bradford continue down the unknown road on their quest to deliver this story to as many people as are willing to read it.

I'm aware that this blog has a very limited readership, but I'm also aware that it is occasionally visited by people in the industry with more than a little clout. If you are one of those people then I implore you to give Robot 13 a serious look. The hard work of creators like Thomas Hall and Daniel Bradford, the willingness to sacrifice for this medium that they love, deserves to be rewarded and Robot 13 is the kind of story that deserves to be told for a long, long time.


I know that this blog is supposed to be devoted to comics, but I'm guessing if you're reading the thoughts of a fringe comics professional you're probably a pretty big geek, so I thought I'd branch out a bit.

I watched Gamer, which stars Gerard Butler, Kyra Sedgewick, and that scenery chewer from Dexter in something of a modernized The Running Man. From that description I'm sure you're not expecting much, and neither was I. I must admit to being pleasantly surprised though.

The movie's premise is this: Michael C. Hall is a reclusive software designer that has created a means of controlling human beings remotely. He's applied this technology to gaming, creating a Second Life-esque simulation called Society that allows users to control real human beings in a live, interactive environment. The same technology was then lent out to the American prison system for a game called Slayers, a Call of Duty/Gears of War style shooter that allows death row inmates an attempt to avoid their sentence by winning 30 battles in an intense combat environment. Gerard Butler's character, Kastle, and his operator are three battles away from that 30-mark when the movie begins.

While Gamer is certainly not free of the sort of hamfisted storytelling most action films are guilty of, it does offer a slightly more subversive, socially conscious script than other movies of its ilk. Dealing with problems of the near future like the complete loss of privacy and the crisis of identity that will no doubt plague a generation of humans increasingly devoted to life "in the cloud," Gamer plays in a familiar science fiction sandbox that will appeal to fans of comics authors such as Warren Ellis and Grant Morrison and science fiction luminaries like Harlan Ellison and William Gibson.

If that sounds up your alley then I highly suggest you fork over a dollar at the Red Box (no, Red Box does not support this blog in any way...more's the pity) and enjoy this sci-fi actioner.