DID YOU READ

Five new DC Comics #1s recommended for movie lovers

Five new DC Comics #1s recommended for movie lovers (photo)

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If you don’t follow the world of comics, you’re currently missing out on one hell of an experiment. Stalwart publisher DC — the guys behind Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern — cancelled every single book in their lineup, wiped out most of their decades of intricate story continuity, and restarted 52 series with new first issues. The new books range in genre from war to horror to science-fiction to mysteries, with plenty of super-heroes besides. There’s a few clunkers in the bunch, but there’s a surprisingly high level of quality throughout the line, including some really outstanding books featuring some of DC’s less famous heroes.

So far, “The New 52,” as they’re called, have been a big sales and publicity success for DC. But if you’re a die-hard pop culture lover and a casual comics fan, fifty new books can be pretty intimidating. With that in mind, I made this list of five series that combine quality and accessibility. Most if not all should still be available at your local comic shop (the rest can be found on your iPad with DC’s digital comics app).


all-star-west-10142011.jpgAll-Star Western
For Fans Of: “The Proposition”
Written By: Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by: Moritat and Jordi Bernet
High Concept Pitch: A vigilante cowboy plays Sherlock Holmes in the Old West.
Why Movie Fans Will Dig It: Gray and Palmiotti, haven’t radically reinvented the character of hideously scarred bounty hunter Jonah Hex — subject of last year’s infamously bad movie starring Josh Brolin — but they have relocated him to a clever new setting: Gotham City, a.k.a. Batman’s stopping grounds, circa 1880. It may be a hundred years before The Joker and Two-Face, but nineteenth century Gotham is just as crime ridden as its modern counterpart. Hex is hired by the flummoxed Gotham police department to solve a series of Jack The Ripper-ish murders alongside a criminal psychologist named Amadeus Arkham (he’ll later found the Arkham Asylum that houses the Dark Knight’s worst enemies). Gray and Palmitotti’s new crime-fighting pair are a perfect odd couple, and the book’s evocative, sepia-toned artwork by Moritat and Jordi Bernet is as coarse as a woodcut. If the mere involvement of Hex makes you nervous after the Brolin movie, don’t be. I promise you: this gritty crime saga — let’s call it a “paleo-noir” — has as much to do with “Dolphin Tale” as the Jonah Hex flick.


wonder-woman-dcnu-10142011.jpgWonder Woman
For Fans Of: “Clash of the Titans” (the old, good one)
Written by: Brian Azzarello
Art by: Cliff Chang
High Concept Pitch: Gods versus humanity with Wonder Woman standing in the middle.
Why Movie Fans Will Dig It: If any DC character needed a square-one reboot, it was Wonder Woman. Her comic should be any easy sell — decades of appearances on television have made her instantly recognizable — but her increasingly fractured continuity has instead made her comic instantly impenetrable. Writer Brian Azzarello, best known for his crime book “100 Bullets” strips all of that away in the first issue of his new story, which is dark and moody, and full of old Gods acting like total dicks. Azzarello decided not to begin with an origin story, so it’s not yet clear who exactly this version of Diana is, but that’s part why this story will resonate with movie lovers: freed of all that bloated backstory, Azzarello’s “Wonder Woman” is allowed to be a badass globetrotting mystery sprinkled with big action sequences. Old school fans will get their fill of bracelets and lassos, but newbies will be able to follow right along as well. It doesn’t hurt Azzarello’s case that he’s got Cliff Chiang, one of the most gifted and precise illustrators in comics, drawing his script. If you enjoyed the interplay between modern sensibility and antique mythology in films like “300,” this one should strike your fancy.


swamp-thing-10142011.jpg Swamp Thing
For Fans Of: “Altered States”
Written by: Scott Snyder
Art by: Yanick Paquette
High Concept Pitch: A scientist wrestles with his past and possibly his future as the protector of the natural world.
Why Movie Fans Will Dig It: “Swamp Thing” has a long reputation in the world of comics as one of the medium’s most consistently inventive series. Created in the 1970s by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, Swamp Thing began life as the star of horror-tinged superhero adventures. Under the stewardship of Alan Moore (“Watchmen”), the book became more fantasy-based, as the character discovered he was not a man transformed into a plant by a splash of chemicals, but a plant — or maybe the spirit of all plants — transformed into a man, roughly speaking. Writer Scott Snyder, who is also doing a fine job on The New 52’s “Batman,” rejiggers things yet again, with Swamp Thing’s human alter ego, Alec Holland, back from the dead. Then Swamp Thing — or maybe more accurately a Swamp Thing — shows up to try to convince Holland to take on a deadly mission. Snyder’s “Swamp Thing” is a very unusual book; imagine the back-from-the-dead heroics of “The Crow” mixed with the scientist-trips-out-on-fantastical-visions of “Altered States,” and then sprinkle just a whiff of “District 9″‘s man-transforms-against-his-will dramatics, and you’ve got something approaching the very interesting stew of genres and styles bubbling through it. Artist Yanick Paquette (recently of Grant Morrison’s “Batman Incorporated”) ties all those elements together with polished linework and some truly dynamic page layouts.


frankenstein-10142011.jpgFrankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
For Fans Of: “Frankenstein” (Duh), “Hellboy”
Written by: Jeff Lemire
Art by: Alberto Ponticelli
High Concept Pitch:Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as a 21st century secret agent.
Why Movie Fans Will Dig It: Speaking of Morrison, his fingerprints are are all over this new version of the old horror classic, which first debuted in his interlocking 2005 mini-series “Seven Soldiers of Victory.” This Frank is the Shelley character alive (or at least undead) in the present day, working for a secret government agency called S.H.A.D.E. to defend humanity from some of the craziest creatures imaginable. Writer Jeff Lemire gives Frankenstein and his Universal horror-inspired team (there’s a vampire, a werewolf, and more) plenty of freaky critters to pound on in the action scenes, but he also leaves enough panel space to play with the classic “Frankenstein” theme of the monster who reflects on the monstrousness of humanity. Alberto Ponticelli’s Lovecraftian visuals will appeal to horror lovers and the soulful, hideous hero with the team of weirdos fighting potentially world-ending threats should strike a chord with fans of Guillermo del Toro’s “Hellboy” film.


resurrect-man-10142011.jpgResurrection Man
For Fans Of: “Total Recall”
Written by: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art by: Fernando Dagnino
High Concept Pitch: Every time a man dies he comes back to life with a new super-power.
Why Movie Fans Will Dig It: Because writers Abnett and Lanning have got one of the all-time great comic book high concepts on their hands. Mitch Shelley can’t be killed, at least for very long. Whenever he bites the big one, he gets resurrected with a random special ability; one day he might be able to manipulate gravity, the next he could become invincible. DnA (as in “Dan & Andy”) created the character in a short-lived late ’90s series, but this is clearly a premise with a lot more gas in the tank. Now Shelley is back (again…and again…and again…) with more ambiguity around the nature of his powers and his place in the universe. I think “Total Recall” fans will dig this one; even though “Resurrection Man” isn’t really a mind-bending science-fiction book, the two do share a certain structure and tone — the tabula rasa hero who doesn’t quite know who he is or what he can do running for his life lives to stay ahead of shadowy, powerful forces who want to destroy him. Original series artist Butch Guice has been ably replaced Fernando Dagnino, who provides appropriately atmospheric visuals in the strong first issue.


What’s your favorite of the New 52? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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