LEMUR Sunday Night at the Movies

With the leak and then official release of the X-cast photos this week, I thought back to that GL post from last November. First Class is set in the 1960’s, but what would an X-Men movie look like if it were from the 1960’s/1970’s? What if an X-movie had been made during the Neal Adams era of the team, circa 1970? As with last time, I’m working under the assumption that the movie would be a big budget affair with an all-star cast.

Although he wasn’t getting much panel time in the late 1960’s, you couldn’t have an X-movie without the X, Professor X. Bald, intelligent, and nigh stoic says one person: Yul Brynner. Outside of the look, he’s got the perfect voice to say, “To me, my X-Men!” Besides, what else was he doing in the early 1970’s, prepping for “Westworld”? On the flip side, in the adversarial role would be Jason Robards as Magneto. Robards had an interesting charisma and manic look at times that fits with the Magneto of the 1960’s/’70’s.

Moving on to our Merry Mutants, we’ll start with the leader: Scott, Slim, Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops.

During this era, we were finally past the pining for Jean every fifth panel phase, but not past the whole, “I can’t open my eyes a fraction of an inch…” Still, Scott had also proven to be an effective leader. There’s an earnestness and calm strength in his character in this time period. Richard Thomas showed these characteristics as the eldest son on The Waltons. Thomas also has the tall slender build, and if we are to believe the picture at right, the same fashion sense. Slap a visor on him and you’re done.

With his easy smile and clean cut good looks, a young Kurt Russell fits the bill for high flying Angel. For the youngest of the X-Men, Ron Howard would bring exuberance to the role at an age between this tenures as Opie Taylor and Richie Cunningham. With an air of intelligence and fun, Jeff Bridges could easily fill the tights of the Beast. Rounding out the quintet of mutant teens, is the lovely Jane Seymour. No good reason here other than I’d like to see a young Jane Seymour running around in a green mini-skirt.

LEMUR Sunday Night at the Movies

Back in 2003, Mark Millar perpetrated a fairly brilliant hoax on readers of his column over at CBR. Remembering this item the other day, I got to thinking about what different comic movies would look like if they came out in the era when the character first hit the scene. Who would have played Superman back in 1939 or ’40? Would Ray Harryhausen have done special effects for a 1960’s Green Lantern? The mental exercise here assumes that the studios would treat the movie as big budget instead of the B-movie fodder that was typical of comic book movies prior to 1977’s “Superman.”

Part of what originally spurred this idea was seeing Rod Taylor in “Time Machine” and thinking what a splendid Hal Jordan he would have made back in the 1960’s. After all, the 1960’s were all about space cowboys; a Green Lantern movie would have been an easy fit once the director got over the technical challenges. For my money, as serious scifi movie of that time should have been in the capable hands of Robert Wise (of “The Day the Earth Stood Still). His blend of drama, action, and science fiction are a perfect fit for a GL movie. As mentioned above, creating the verdant special effects would have been best handled by Ray Harryhausen. Costumes would naturally have been handled by the First Lady of Fabrics, Edith Head.

For Hal’s supporting cast and villain, the 1960’s were full of faces and actors that fit perfectly in these roles. For starters, every hero/ space cowboy needs a villain. For the most part, that spot has been taken by Sinestro. The calculating and elegant mind could best be expressed by David Niven (see the original “Pink Panther” or “Guns of Navarone”). In someways the conflict between Hal Jordan and Sinestro is the conflict between the brash and the refined. David Niven screams refined.


Next up is the love interest: Carol Ferris. In Carol, you need someone who is strong and forceful yet feminine; She’s Hal’s boss/ sometime girlfriend after all. It’s got to be someone who can wear the pants or the skirt equally well. For my money, no one wears pants like Patricia Neal. Look her up in “Operation Pacific” and see how she holds her own against John Wayne.

Finally there are the Guardians of the Universe. They’re allegedly modeled after David Ben-Gurion… minus the blue skin. Eli Wallach and Ernest Borgnine could handle the role of guardians quite well.

It would have been interesting to see a Green Lantern movie in the 1960’s. My guess is that it would have been more story driven than the computer generated orgasm that we will see next year. I do have hopes for next year’s movie all in all though.

Dream Team… LEGION!

I tend to hide the fact that I am mildly Legion-curious, and Jesse works hard to rag on them and or out me. True, I followed the Waid run with great excitement. Here was a writer that I liked and respected writing a team that he expressed great love for. Throw in art by Barry Kitson and I couldn’t help but give it a try. Jesse on the other hand is much more discriminating; all sorts of walls go up and alarums go off when you hint at the suggestion of reading a LSH story. All of this got me to thinking about what it would take to get Jesse to follow the team with regularity… or at all. For me it was Waid… for Jesse the bar is set a bit higher.

The Legion has had at least as many reboots and incarnations as I’ve had birthdays. For the purpose of this discussion, let’s take it back to the original concept: rebellious teens inspired by Superboy and the Justice League to combat evil. They don’t grow up; they don’t get married; like Bruce Wayne they remain perpetually a certain age, + or – four years. The trick for any writer here then is to remember that these are kids; some of them are just hitting or are right in the middle of puberty. They’re not going to react to an adult situation in the same way as the JLA or the Science Police.

So who can hack it writing teenagers in such a way that Jesse would willingly pick up the book? Sure, Jesse’d read anything Grant Morrison wrote. I’m not sure he’d capture the right feel for the book though. The closest he’s probably come is his work on Doom Patrol. Hmmmm… Maybe not Mr. Morrison then.

On the other hand Jesse’ll read anything by Jeff Parker too! Here’s a guy with the right pedigree. His X-Men: First Class was pitch perfect. Each member had a distinct voice and it wasn’t watered down adult voice either. Specifically I’d point to any page where Iceman opens his mouth or the scenes where Angel sits in class daydreaming of flying. I don’t know how he did it, but Parker wrote a teen team book where everyone was enjoyable, realistic, and unique; hell, we rarely get that in TEEN Titans much less the LSH. Further, Parker has ample experience writing team dynamics (see: Marvel Adventures: Avengers, Agents of Atlas, and the above mentioned X-Men: First Class.

Who can bring Parker’s Legion to life? Jesse’d read it if Rob Liefeld drew it, but few others would. I’m thinking Mike Allred for this job. There aren’t many artists that spring to my mind when I think of fun art. It’s fluid and elegant in a simple way. Perfect for a book about teens in the future.

At any rate, I’d buy the book, and I’d make sure Jesse had a copy of the first trade. Still though, it’s just my imagination running away with me…

Dream Team: An imaginary story

It’s not unreasonable to say that as much as Jesse loves Batman, I am devoted to Superman. It’s hard being a Superman fan because lately the quality stories and arcs are few and far between. Why? It takes work, imagination, and courage to find a readable challenge for a character who is so…super. It’s so much easier to write a story where he’s punching things. The thing is that most people forget that along with being super strong and super fast, Kal-El is also super smart. Many of his arch-nemeses are too. Instead of truly clever, bizarre, and intelligent threats, Brainiac and Luthor usually send woefully ill-equipped and unoriginal robots or bruisers to deal with/ distract the Man of Steel. At this point, we know he can punch things into submission.

For my money, the last time any one truly understood Superman and what the flagship Superman titles should look like was the Silver Age. I know what you’re thinking: no I’m not really one of those nostalgia pornographers like Geoff Johns. We don’t need Krypto or Kandor or multicolored Kryptonite back just for the sake of having them around. I’m also not saying that Superman should be quite as silly as as he was in the hands of men like Otto Binder and Mort Weisinger. What I am advocating is a return to the wholly ape-shit weirdness: the bigger than life stories and logic defying threats. Binder and Weisinger knew that Superman had to be super in all respects. He needed threats that annoy, hinder, and push the Last Son of Krypton to bring his A-game. Where are the mind bending stories of Superman saving Earth from evil living suns? Where are the distant planets where Luthor is a science hero? Where’s the time and dimension travel? Where’s my damn flying car?

Grant Morrison knows this. He exhibited these ideas in All Star Superman. He proved that Superman can be about the crazy of the Silver Age without being silly. Alan Moore knows this too. If the original Squadron Supreme is the greatest JLA story ever written, Alan Moore’s Supreme is one of the best Superman stories. Both Morrison and Moore understand that these stories need to be out of the box. Superman should attract strange in the same way that it flies to the Fantastic Four.

So in an ideal world, who’s writing Superman and Action Comics? I’m going to call Moore and Morrison on plot with Morrison handling the script. Here’s where I rein them in though. Both writers can get pretty crazy on their own. They need a strong editor to help guide them and keep them within the bounds that’ll keep the book from losing it’s grounding. Weisinger was quite the taskmaster, but Moore would walk. Let’s pull in someone who knows story in his own right. Kurt Busiek would be perfect.

Art chores? I like Kevin Maguire. He knows how to draw muscular as beefy. He also has a great penchant for facial expression. Can you imagine the mischief in Mxyzptlk? The gleeful malice in Luthor? I’d bring in Ed Mcguinness to handle chores when Kevin Maguire needed someone to do fill in issues.Mcguinness’s stout characters scream power. He’s just cartoony enough to keep things light and weird.

Just thinking about how awesome the granddaddy of all superheroes could/ should be makes my bags and boards itch.

Dream Team

Just by looking over at our tag cloud it’s fairly easy to see how gay I am for  Batman (in a hetero way, REALLY!).  So when Grant Morrison introduced Prometheus — ostensibly the anti-Batman — during his JLA run in 1998, I was pretty psyched.  Morrison wrote his first two appearances and made him out to be a real contender, first holding the entire League hostage on-board their own satellite and coming up with intricate death traps for each Leaguer.  In his second appearance he joined forces with Lex Luthor’s Injustice Gang and fought Batman to a draw…At least for a few minutes.

Which brings us to the Dream Team. Since Morrison’s JLA run not enough has been done with this character, and though I’ve always been drawn to his subsequent appearances (notably in Hush Returns and Cry for Justice) he’s been treated as something as a joke since leaving Morrison’s hands. So much so, that DC retconned out some of his previous appearances as the work of a poseur SECOND Prometheus!  (I suspect that’s because his two defeats in Morrison books — once due to a whip to the junk and once to Batman giving him Motor Neuron Disease — have been somewhat novel if not jokey, and so it was easy to forget the badassery that got him to that point to being with.)

What would really pop and bring him back to his  deserved eminent status? An ongoing that would really emphasize the flip side of Batman that Morrison initially established.  Give him an evil sidekick (too bad Damian is on the side of the angels for now), a base of operations, and a consulting role with the Secret Society and really let the madness fly.  As the character’s creator, Grant Morrison would obviously have to be the writer.  He appears to be the only author to get the character, and his work on Batman is proof that he could write it full-time, he would just have to consider the villainous side of the Dark Knight.  For the art, Rags Morales would be a great pairing.  His work on Identity Crisis proves he can nail the big guns of the DCU, and his stellar work on the Hourman series shows that he can draw the lesser-seen dark corners where this book would have to take place.

Skulking in the recesses of the DCU: Yesterday’s villain, Today!

Inside the Superhero’s Studio

Once upon a time I was picking up my weekly issues, and I found one of the most fantastic books I’ll ever encounter. Hanging on the wall among bland and uninteresting books was a shining vision. It was an inspired piece of art that surely made the angels weep bittersweet tears. Like all such works, this one’s time on Earth was too brief.

US 1 was this book.

Those brave enough to penetrate its covers are regaled with tales of an everyman doing extraordinary deeds. This modern day Ishmael fought foul felonious forces with nothing more than his bare hands, a metal plate in his skull that picks up CB signals, and a high tech Mack truck. These adventures are so inspired that they clearly must have been writ and drawn with a golden pen using diamond and sunshine ink.

Tonight, we are graced with the presence of a demigod.  Ulysses. Solomon. Archer.

Let’s start with the five questions.

1. Who would play you in a movie of your life?

I reckon that’d be a young Mr. Burt Reynolds. I’ve always felt a special connection to his character from the movie Stroker Ace. I tried to grow a mustache once…didn’t work so well. I’d be proud to have a true American like him portray me in a movie.

2. Who wins in a race between you in US 1 and Optimus Prime.

Hands down me an US1. It comes down to one thing: he’s got weaknesses, and I don’t. Prime cares about all sentient life; I couldn’t give a hoot. He’s also got the hots for lil’ US1. Still, if he ever comes near her again and tries to get frisky like he did outside of Yuma, I’ll shove my boot so far up his tail pipe that he’ll need more than a little energon and a lot of luck to get it out.

3. What, if anything, makes Ulysses Archer cry?

Hell, I get a little teary anytime I see “Every Which Way but Loose.” Something about a trucker and an orangutan speaks to me on a deep emotional level. Also the songs of Glen Campbell…and anytime someone gets too close with a big magnet. I get headaches like you wouldn’t believe.

4. What other career would you like to try?

After facing off against Baron von Blimp, I’ve always wanted to pilot a dirigible. The freedom of the road is one thing, having the whole of the sky is something else. I like to think we could have been friends or colleagues in another lifetime.

5. What would you like to hear when you get to Heaven?

That ain’t much of a question. With this-a-here metal plate for a skull, I hear God’s Heaven all the time. Angels speak to me. They call me good buddy and everything.

Ah…well, thank you for your time. It has been a pleasure talking with an inspired genius such as yourself.

Again, my guest has been the all-American trucker/ adventurer Ulysses Solomon Archer. You can read all about his exploits in the brilliant twelve issue series: US1.

Good night.

Dream Team

The time has come once again to walk down the hall of mighthavebeen and look out of the window to the fields of neverwill with this installment of Dream Team.

This go round, we’re not looking at a title so much as a super team within a title. This one is going to read more like a fantasy football roster.

It’s a little known fact that I enjoy Marvel’s Defenders. The premise appeals to me more than the line-up: a group of heroes who don’t really like eachother or know each other that well get together infrequently to stop extinction level events.

Sure, this is how most teams start out. The beauty is that the Defenders never go on to gel as a team. There’s no headquarters, no signal, no symbol, no table that everyone sits around…nothing. It’s the team your dad would put together if he needed help working in the yard one weekend. Anyone helping out is there because they didn’t have anything better to do. And so help me, I love ’em for it.

So who do I put on this farm team for the Avengers? While the “membership” grew over time, I’m going to contain myself to the original format of only four members.

1. The Punisher. To say that Frank Castle is not a team player is like saying that Chris Claremont is a little wordy, but that’s the general idea of The Defenders. From a story telling point of view, I like the idea of the Punisher on the team because he’d add a twisted fish out of water spin. He’s also really good at improvising in a pinch. So what that he relies on guns and explosives? You’re facing the Punisher and he just ran out of ammo? Don’t stop to gloat. Sure as anything his next move is to fuck your shit up with whatever is at hand…even if it’s your hand.

2. Hank Pym. How this loser is still an Avenger is beyond me. He shrinks; he grows; he whines; he creates robots bent on killing him and his friends, and yet he’s been on practically every roster of the team. Being this much of a gomer is automatic nomination to Defenders for me. Besides, every team needs a science guy.

3. Namor. He helped get the ball rolling with the original team. Why is he a Defender? Being an Avenger is too much drama; Reed won’t let him near the FF; and Atlantis pretty much runs itself. I’d like to see him teamed with Pym. Imagine the boundless insults and slurs. It doesn’t hurt that he’s got his own army and is really strong.

4. Rounding out the roster is Valkyrie. She’s got history with the team. She’s got a great costume, a sword, and a winged horse. A WINGED HORSE.

That’s my Defenders team. The book I read when I dream at night. Enjoy comics tomorrow.