Welcome to our second annual, Wizard World LA edition of ATR.

Strap in tight, we?ve got a lot to talk about.

Ahead of the Game

Of all the major comic book publishers, it felt like Marvel had the most announcements to make. Even so, there were a few things that fell between the cracks. So, here?s what I heard at the show:

  • Marvel is said to be very happy with the response to the current Age of Apocalypse miniseries and they?re looking to capitalize on that. There?s even talk about a possible AOA ongoing series?
  • Rogue # 12 will be the last issue of the series. The rest of the X-titles appear to be safe from the cancellation block, at least for now.
  • Greg Horn will be the new cover artist for She-Hulk when it relaunches this Fall.
  • The Ultimate project that Brian K. Vaughn alluded to a few weeks ago is now said to be an ?Ultimate Annual.?
  • An Essential Killraven is coming in July and an Essential Defenders will hit in June to coincide with the new Defenders miniseries.
  • There will be at least three Golden Age Masterworks: Captain America, which should be out this week, with Sub Mariner following in June and the Human Torch in the Fall.
  • Marvel?s booth featured playable versions of The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction for all three major video game systems. So of course, I tried it?

And it was FUCKING AWESOME.

The best way to describe it is ?Hulk Smash San Andreas.? The game has GTA style freedom of movement through a city environment and pretty much lets you do anything the Hulk can do in the comics. On Sunday, the game?s lead designer, Eric Holmes gave an impromptu demo of two of the boss battles. The first shown was The Abomination and the second was a Hulkbuster mech, based on a new design by Bryan Hitch.

If the rest of the game is as good as what I saw, then this is going to be a major hit.

  • A few reps from Activision were also on the show floor, dropping hints about the Ultimate Spider-Man video game. From what I was told, the gameplay and graphics are a large leap ahead of last year?s Spider-Man 2 game. They also mentioned that it will look more like ?comic book onscreen? than any previous comic book adaptation to date.This Has A ?Gamma Crush? Factor of Nine Out of Ten

    No Need For Tenjho / Countdown to Infinite Crisis?

    That was actually the first thing I heard about on Friday. And I thought it was a joke until I started asking the people at DC. Every time I brought it up, they kept getting real quiet?

    Whatever? it?s all out there now.

    I also heard that Ron Wagner will be the artist on Christos N. Gage?s Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight story. And Bill Messner-Loebs may be writing an issue of Green Arrow. Other than that, there weren?t a lot of DC rumors at the show.

    Though I did see something interesting at the DC booth. Given the furor over the Tenjho Tenge edits, I thought they might distance themselves from it. But guess which title was used for their free CMX preview?

    Jeez? It?s almost like they?re asking for controversy?

    This Has A ?Butt of All Jokes? Factor of Six Out of Ten


    Back From The Future

    Dark Horse has picked up the comic rights for the upcoming Aeon Flux live action movie. First up will be a four issue miniseries that will serve as a prequel to film. Mike Kennedy will write the mini, with Timothy Green onboard as the artist.

    Also on hand (courtesy of Paramount Studios) were some early stills of Charlize Theron as Aeon Flux. Theron fills out the costume nicely. And it looks like there was a concerted effort to make Aeon Flux more feminine and less androgynous than her MTV incarnation.

    Works for me.

    This Has A ?Trevor Goodchild? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


    Riotstarter

    Over at the Image booth, Michael O?Hare?s Flak Riot really caught my eye, so I asked O?Hare to elaborate on the series:

    Flak Riot

      takes place in San Francisco, a little bit in Earth?s future. In a nutshell, it?s about a file clerk, Zoe Nixxon who is bored with her job and her life. She answers an ad in the newspaper and basically goes to a bounty hunting trading school where they?ve opened a gateway to another dimension, full of gunslingers, ninjas, sumo wrestlers and everything I loved as a kid. And she basically becomes a bounty hunter in this new dimension. Any more than that might give away some of the surprises along the way.


    It?s a four issue miniseries coming out from Image in June. I?m the creator/writer/artist and Bob Napton is co-writing with me. It?s in full color, courtesy of Michael Garcia who?s an amazing colorist. We just have a really solid team and I think it?s going to be fantastic.

    This Has A ?Where?s My Riot?? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


    Cyberdata Reloaded

    As mentioned at the Top Cow panel on Sunday, Marc Silvestri?s Cyberforce will be returning in an ongoing series by Ron Marz and Pat Lee. And here?s a first look at two of Lee?s redesigns for Ripclaw and Cyblade.

    This Has A ?Velocity Now? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


    He?s A BAAAD MUTHA? Shut Your Mouth!

    Jeremy Love is bringing his creator owned original graphic novel, Chocolate Thunder to Speakeasy, for release this July. Love describes the project as ?the ultimate 70’s Blaxploitation film on paper. Mixing elements of superhero mythos and kung fu, Chocolate Thunder is an action packed yarn set against a backdrop of urban blight. Guns will blaze and fists will fly??



    This Has A ?Dolemite? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


    AKA

    I stopped by the Alias booth on Sunday and took a glance through an issue of The Comic Book Digest. And apparently, I?m credited as a ?contributing writer? for TCBD.

    Huh?

    Guess you learn something new everyday.

    The item in question was a reprint of my interview with Reggie Hudlin from last December.

    But I don?t expect that?ll be a regular occurrence. Not that I had a problem with it, it?s just that The Comic Book Digest has been canceled. The printed version, at least. There is some talk that the magazine could be resurrected on the web as a pay-for-content comics newsite ala Salon.com.

    This Has A ?Micropayments? Factor of Seven Out of Ten


    Putting The Hoarse Before The Buggy

    Elk?s Run has been garnering a lot of buzz online from comic professionals like Brian Bendis, Warren Ellis and B. Clay Moore. So, I was curious to see it for myself and caught up with the writer/creator of Elk?s Run, Joshua Hale Fialkov, for a quick overview:

    Elk?s Run

      is an eight issue miniseries about a small town in West Virginia where the parents and the kids are at odds with each other. And it leads to an all out war between the parents and the kids. There?s almost a secret society type thing going on. It has elements of war stories, coming of age stories? We touch on all the genres that we can and we try and make the most compelling and different book that?s on the stands today.

    We?re trying to tell a story from a unique point of view. Each issue is actually told from a different main character?s point of view. So, in the first issue, we see the hero of the story, who is this young teenager living in this small town that?s cut off from the rest of the world. He?s trying to grow up and be his own person but there is literally no outside reference for him. There?s no pop culture, no radio and no TV. They?re living in a vacuum and when ?something? happens in the town that reveals what?s really going on and why they?re actually there, it becomes the kid?s mission to get him and his friends out of there as quickly as he possibly can.

    Noel Tuazon is the artist. He?s done a lot of spot illustrations and children?s books. I actually got a minicomic he worked on, called Paper Cuts, which is fabulous. I saw it and at the same time he had contacted me about being in our other book, which is Western Tales of Terror. When I saw his stuff, it just clicked. It was the perfect thing for this book because he has a fabulous retro style, not like 50?s or 60?s, but very traditional illustration style, it feels almost like those New Yorker cartoons. Painting over him is Scott Keating, who is a colorist who?s worked on The Wicked West for Image, The Secret Skull for IDW and he?s also the lead artist for Western Tales of Terror. He did all of our narrator designs and he wrote the lead stories in issues 1 through 3. And he?s honestly, aside from the fact that I?m working with the guy and he?s my friend, by far, one of the best colorists in the industry today. His stuff is just absolutely breathtaking.

    When asked about his recent plea for help, Fialkov responded:

      We got our initial preorders in for the book, and considering how much everyone likes the book we were really surprised to see what our numbers were. Where we?ve kinda gone from there is to take a step back and look at where we are . We have all this great press around us and we need to use to make sure people actually get to see this book. So, we?re doing a secondary push to really get people talking about this book that everyone seems to love, yet very few people seem to go out and order it? I think the only way we can get retailers to take a chance on it is when they can actually hear the praise, not just from the critics and the comic pros, but from the fans who want to read the book. So, if you really want to see the book, let your local comic shop know about it!

    The book should be out a week from this Wednesday and issue two is the new Previews that comes out this week as well. Right now, we?re hoping to ship bi-monthly. If sales allow, we?d like to start shipping monthly.

    For more on Elk?s Run check out http://www.hoarseandbuggy.com

    This Has A ?Getting The Wolf? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


    Sin Vs Wiz

    Much like my colleague at The Beat, I had an invite to the Sin City screening and press junket. And I wanted to go but had to pass due to my inability to be in two places at once.

    So, to whoever it was at Miramax who booked the junket against WW, I say ?Great job. Just fucking brilliant.?

    If I was the suspicious sort, I?d say they scheduled it that way on purpose. In fact, word on the floor was that the Frank Miller/Wizard feud is still going strong. Case in point: the Sin City movie. There were no Sin City panels at the con. It wasn?t mentioned in the convention program. And there?s been little coverage, if any in the magazine itself?

    Now, the Wizard reps at the show were very quick to say there?s no feud with Miller. That it?s the studio limiting their access to the film, which keeps them from covering Sin City.

    Oh? and we believe them, don?t we?

    Looking back, I have to wonder if it was a deliberate move by DC to keep Miller?s involvement in All-Star Batman & Robin a secret during their initial announcement in Wizard. How much play would Wizard have given that if they knew ahead of time?

    This Has A ?Yellow Bastard? Factor of Five Out of Ten


    The Trend Stops Here

    After San Diego and Chicago, I was expecting more video game companies to show off their wares here at WWLA. Well, it didn?t happen. Sure, some gaming companies made it out, like Sony, Vivendi Universal and NC Soft. But this was nowhere near the presence video games had at Chicago, much less San Diego. Even more surprising was the lack of booths run by major movie studios. Only Dreamworks and Lions Gate were on the show floor.

    Frankly, it seems like the gaming companies and movie studios treated the show as an afterthought at best?

    This Has A ?Multiplex? Factor of Six Out of Ten


    Wizard World Wrap-Up

    Overall, I had a good time at the show, but most of the retailers and fans I?ve spoken with voiced their disappointment. And I can understand where they?re coming from. It felt like there was something missing? but I can?t quite put it to words.

    Next year?s show will supposedly be at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Which would make it the first WWLA to actually be in LA. Conceivably, that would also give them the space to mount a more serious challenge to San Diego?s dominance. I say conceivably, because if they had held the show at the LA Convention Center this year, it would have barely filled a single exhibit hall there. In my opinion, Wizard needs to ramp up the programming schedule, bring in more guests and exhibitors and find ways to expand the show. Because right now, WWLA feels small. Even smaller than last year. It doesn?t help that it was held simultaneously with another convention at the Long Beach Convention Center.

    But I?m actually not sure if Wizard will be moving the show. The con program lists next year?s WWLA as taking place at the LA Convention center from March 17-19. But on the back of The New West (which debuted at the con) next year?s WWLA is listed as taking place on March 24-26 back here at Long Beach.

    Decisions? decisions?


    Alright, that?s all from WWLA. I?ll be back on Sunday.

    Until then, stay cool.

    Later,
    Blair

    PS If anyone has any rumors, stories or news to share, please email me at blairm@silverbulletcomicbooks.com. Thanks to everyone who has been sending stuff in. It?s greatly appreciated.

 

About The Author