Welcome back to another edition of ATR.

We?ve got another packed column this week, so jumping right in?

The Empire Strikes Back

Ever since the Superman II Restored International Cut was announced two weeks ago, the buzz surrounding this project has grown geometrically and Superman fans all over the world been clamoring for copies. And for those lucky enough to have been on the initial request list, some copies were already in circulation. The RIC was even seen playing at Jay and Silent Bob?s Secret Stash in Westwood, California. Yes, the word was traveling fast. Though some fans wondered aloud what would happen once Warner Brothers got wind of it.

Wonder no longer.

The Superman II RIC was covered in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, in which a reporter from EW interviewed one of the RIC project leaders. In the course of the story, the reporter also notified Warner Brothers Home Video Department for their take on the situation. And to say they weren?t happy about it would be an understatement. The WB swiftly sent Superman Cinema notice to remove all details about the RIC. Remember last week, when I mentioned that fans were being openly encouraged to make free copies and distribute them to each other? That?s not gonna happen now. People are understandably, not looking to get sued. The project leaders are also withdrawing, having achieved their stated goal to raise awareness of Richard Donner?s original Superman II footage. Coverage in Entertainment Weekly will reach a far wider audience than anything on the internet.

But what of the RIC itself? Why were Superman fans so excited about this?

Before the crackdown, one of the project leaders sent me a copy of the RIC for review. And now that I have it in hand, I?ve got more information to share. First off, this project doesn?t have all of Donner?s lost footage (like Marlon Brando?s final Jor-El scenes), only what was shown in televised cuts around the world. Nor does it have the sharp visuals we?ve come to associate with the DVD format. You have to understand, the source material came from home video recordings made over twenty years ago. It?s amazing it looks as good it does, which was no small feat by the RIC team. In addition to scene restoration, color correction, reediting the film, removing station IDs and audio adjustments, they actually went the extra mile and threw in extras like the Superman II soundtrack and an on-screen text commentary (in place of subtitles). It?s a very slick package. Whoever put these DVDs together really knew what they were doing. It even works in my Playstation 2, which is a notoriously poor DVD player.

As for the movie, I made screencaps to illustrate some of the new additions.

During the invasion of small town American by the Kryptonian villains, the kid in the red shirt and coveralls (notable for saying ?Please Mister General, please put my Daddy down!” in a squeaky British accent) attempts to flee and find help.


Zod motions to Non, who throws a projectile towards the kid and his horse?


Killing both the kid and his horse instantly.


In the White House Invasion scene, Zod actually uses an automatic weapon to kill some of the Secret Service Agents.



With perhaps a little political commentary added by the director.



Speaking of the director (one of them, anyway), the following picture captures Richard Donner?s brief cameo.

Before their final battle with Superman, the Kryptonian villains have some minor difficulty getting past the Fortress of Solitude?s defense systems.





If you were to view theatrical cut of Superman II, you could only conclude that the Kryptonian villains fell to their deaths inside the Fortress. Does that make Superman a murderer? No, for as you will see below, that was not the original ending…

In Donner?s cut, Superman summoned the US Arctic Patrol to take custody of the now powerless Kryptonians along with Lex Luthor. As he?s being led away, Luthor tries one last time to make a deal with Superman.


Gene Hackman is really funny in this scene.



After the Arctic Patrol leaves, Superman flies with Lois a short distance away, then takes one last look at the Fortress.



At this point, Christopher Reeve?s eyes go wide and we hear the heat vision audio effect but the visual effect simply isn?t there. Most fans have assumed that the shot was unfinished because it didn?t make the theatrical cut.



Regardless, the end result is the same. The Fortress of Solitude is destroyed.


The scene that immediately follows it is the real prize on this DVD. No description could do it justice, so I?ll have to transcribe it:

Superman: Look Lois, I?

Lois: Hey! No regrets, okay. I did it. I got the man I love, to love me? Didn?t I?

Superman: Oh yeah.

Lois: Well okay then, those people need you. I mean I?d be buying… my little rainbow at the expense of those people that go, “Help, come quick!” You think I don?t understand that? I mean it?s… It?s the old eternal triangle, only? only in this case… I have all of humanity waiting the next room.

Superman: We can still see each other, you know. I mean all the time. But it? it just can?t be?

She kisses him.


Lois: Just don?t forget. That?s all. Don?t ever forget?


There it is, the film?s true emotional climax, easily outshining the ?magic amnesia kiss? that follows two scenes later. This is by far, the best scene in the movie and should NEVER have been cut in the first place.

And that?s just a taste of what?s been missing from Superman II all of these years.

Knowing this, don?t tell me how badly you want to see this film the way it was meant to be seen. Tell Warner Brothers. More specifically, their Home Video department.

If the studio can be shown that there is a real demand for Donner?s Superman II material and money to be made by releasing it, then odds are, they?ll go for it.

All you have to do is make your voice heard.

This Has A ?Kneel Before Zod! ZOD!!!? Factor of Ten Out of Ten


Spooon!!!

Ben Edlund?s The Tick is set to make a comeback this July, in a new six issue miniseries entitled The Tick: Days of Drama. The miniseries is being released by New England Comics and will be written by Clay Griffith with art by Dave Garcia. The first issue also comes with a Tick mini-comic attached to the cover.

As for Edlund, I hear he may be working on a film project. (And no, it?s not Tick related. I don?t want to get your hopes up there.)

This Has A ?Chairface Chippendale? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Taking Back The Night

I?ve received further word on the Vampirella comic relaunch coming later this year. From what I?ve been told, it will be a 12 issue (full color) maxi-series broken up into four arcs, with each arc done by a different writer, though once finished it is intended to fit together as a ?big epic story.? The writers said to be involved are Mike Carey, Christopher Priest, Jay Faerber and John Rozum.

As some have suspected, the Vampirella magazine will be coming to an end. The last issue will hit in June, with comic excerpts from Ravenous (from Speakeasy), Grave Grrls and IDW?s Angel miniseries. The cover story will be on Christian Bale?s Batman Begins movie.

Though personally, I think they?re passing up the perfect chance to do an off-the-wall Batman/Angel/Vampirella crossover.

This Has A ?To The Bloodmobile!? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Ennis II Society

Our ever resourceful, ATR Associate, John Voulieris sent in the following item. Apparently, Garth Ennis gave some interesting responses during an interview with a French comics website. Among the upcoming projects Ennis mentions in the article, more Punisher, 303, War Stories, Ghost Rider, a new Fury series and a new ongoing series with Darick Robertson.

Ennis also mentions that he will be utilizing an unused Hitman story for a JLA arc (likely for JLA Classified).

This Has A ?Last Call? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


Lost In Transition

And now for the second part of my interview with Javier Grillo-Marxuach. During the first half, we discussed his upcoming comic debut, The Middleman from Viper Comics. This week, the focus shifts to Grillo-Marxuach?s other full time job, as a writer for the television series Lost. Currently in its first season on ABC, Lost follows a group of castaways trapped on a mysterious island, where their past and present lives converge with unexpected results. On this island, anything seems possible and often is. It?s like Survivor with actual drama. And it?s become the first genre show to achieve massive crossover appeal since The X-Files. Recently, Grillo-Marxuach took the time to address the future of Lost and an interesting side project that may come out of it?

Blair Marnell: What?s your role on Lost?

Javier Grillo-Marxuach: I?m a writer and supervising producer on the show. For this season, I wrote two episodes of the show solo and co-wrote three others. I was originally hired with three other writers to come in and help develop the series as the pilot was being written. Lost was picked up very late in the development season and they really wanted a group of writers as a think tank to brainstorm what the series would be. Me and the other writers (which included Paul Dini) worked very hard on developing a lot of the concepts that are the cornerstones of the series. That was my initial involvement, to help generate ideas that J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof could use in the development of the series.

Now that the series is on air, my job is to help generate and develop episode and series ideas I?m also a producer, so when I write a show, I?m involved with a lot of the creative decisions during production. Primarily my job is to generate stories, help other writers break their stories, help J.J., Damon and Carlton Cuse create the broad mythology of the show and to write my own stuff.

BM: Which episodes have you written this season?

JG-M: My first episode was ?House of the Rising Sun,? about the Korean couple with the flashback scenes about Sun. My second episode is called ?All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues,? which is all about Jack and his relationship with his father and also dealt with the kidnapping of Charlie and Claire. Then I co-wrote – with Leonard Dick – the sequel to House of the Rising Sun,? which was called ?…In Translation? and told Jin?s side of the story and an episode called ?Hearts and Minds,? which I got to write with Carlton Cuse, in which Boone and Shannon got it on.

My last episode, which hasn?t aired yet, is called ?Born to Run.? I co-wrote it with Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. That is all about Kate and her little DC-3 Airplane and why it?s so important.

BM: With Boone getting killed off two weeks ago, was that the major cast death we?ve been hearing about for so long?

JG-M: There are a lot of shocking death scenes that are going to happen on the show, and I?m not saying that we won?t be killing anybody else, but, that is certainly the major cast death that we promised to do. The island is a treacherous and dangerous place. We promised someone was going to die and that was it.

BM: What?s coming up the rest of this season, leading up to the finale?

JG-M: There?s so much going on. They have a raft that they?ve built and they?re going to try to escape from the island. That?s a pretty HUGE deal. What happens with the raft, who goes on it, who gets on, when does it leave, how does it leave? All of that stuff is going to be addressed. We all know that there are other people on the island and we have an insane Frenchwoman running around. We have a hatch that we have to try to open. The island is not without many mysteries, and what?s going to happen by the end of this season is that all of these things are going to come to a confluence. The mysteries we?ve been building throughout the whole first year all come to a head at the end of the season. In these remaining episodes, you?ll get a lot of character-related jeopardy, a lot of answers and more mysteries that are going to come out of those answers. It?s really going to be about bringing every mystery that we?ve set up to a really explosive place at the worst possible time.

I think it?s going to be very interesting, because the characters have not had an easy life on the island, but it?s about to get a lot worse. At the risk of sounding extremely arrogant, I think we have a season finale that?s going to be one for the books. It?s ?Best of Both Worlds? good. And if you understand that metaphor, good. Other people need to get an education. [laughs]

BM: Or watch Star Trek.

JG-M: Yeah. Hence, ?getting an education.? Absolutely. I don?t want to jinx this and I don?t want to sound arrogant, but knowing what I know, it?s humbling to me how explosive this finale is going to be.

BM: It?s good to hear you have some idea of where you?re going. I think one of the reasons that The X-Files went off the rails was that they kept the mysteries running too long and didn’t offer any satisfying answers.

JG-M: Well, I don?t know how long Lost is going to be on the air – it?s not up to me to decide, but rather you, the viewer. We obviously know what all of the core mysteries are, and I like to think that we are creating a really rich tapestry of character, so that the show isn?t just about the mystery, but about the audience caring about what happens to these people and how they react and what it is in their past that made them who they are. Knowing what I know, I feel that we have a very strong pool of stories and character relationships to draw from – and eventually, when we finally answer everything, hopefully you won?t have been there because you wanted to know all this time, but because you wanted to know how Jack, Kate, Sawyer and everyone else who survives would be affected by it.

BM: Alright, are there any plans for Lost comics?

JG-M: Yes, things are in the works right now. I don?t know that I can talk about it yet, because deals have not been signed yet. But there will definitely be a comics presence for Lost. It?s something that the creative staff of the show, myself included, are going to work on very closely. We want to make sure that the right company is doing them, that we have the right approach, in terms of it not just being a tie-in, but something that really fits in with what we?re doing on the series. It?s being worked on as we speak and it?s going to be completely with the participation of the creative players of the show. I think that when the fans see it, it?s really going to compliment their enjoyment of the series.

BM: Will you be involved with it?

JG-M: Absolutely. I?m hoping right now that I?ll get a chance to write at least one of the issues of the comic book, if not more. Hopefully, I will also take some role between what?s being done in the comic book and what were doing in the series so that everything is in continuity and everything works. There will probably be other writers on the staff that will want to do some the issues. There may even be some of the cast that would be interested in that as well. I think it?s going to be really cool. When it all gets put together, you?ll be the first to know.

BM: What kinds of stories can you tell in the Lost comics that you can’t tell on the show?

JG-M: It?s going to be interesting – I think the comics are going to go into a lot of things like the lives of the people in the camp other than the core fourteen, you will get to know other people, see their own adventures and how they interact with the cast you have come to know and love… everything else must, for now, remain shrouded in secrecy!

BM: Are there any other film and television projects that you?re currently working on?

JG-M: Lost is kind of taking up all of my time, to be perfectly frank with you. One 25-hour episode season, with me writing or co-writing five scripts is a lot of work. So, between that and The Middleman, that?s going to pretty much tax my creative faculties for the time being. There?s always the chance that I might get involved in a future project, but my contract makes me exclusive to Lost for my television work, which I feel is the right thing and I don?t want to spread myself too thin. I really want to be someone who does their best work in whatever medium they?ve chosen to work on. With a show like Lost, you really have to bring your A Game. It?s the same for The Middleman which is something I really want to do and I?d never want to phone in an issue. That would just suck. As a writer, I can tell when people are doing that and I can?t allow myself to do that. So for now, Lost and Middleman are going to be it.

This Has A ?You All Everybody!? Factor of Ten Out of Ten


Hellboy Advance

In a recent post on his message board, Guillermo Del Toro revealed that a deal has been signed with Konami to make a video game based on Hellboy. Del Toro also stated that he and Mike Mignola are in discussions to come on board as consultants.

Hopefully, we?ll know more when the E3 comes to town, next month. And I can?t wait?

This Has A ?Plague of Frogs? Factor of Nine Out of Ten


Magic Time

I?ve heard that Darwyn Cooke will be providing covers for a new book from Speakeasy called Spellgame. Spellgame will be written by Dan Mishkin (Blue Devil and Amethyst) and will share some continuity with Beowulf, another Speakeasy title which is set to hit the shelves this week. We?ve also got a Beowulf preview below, courtesy of creator Brian Augustyn and the artist named Dub.



This Has A ?The Grimoire Is The Key? Factor of Eight Out of Ten


The Helping Hand

For those who have asked, I?ve got a brief Bill Messner-Loebs update. The two fund-raising projects remain on track. Over at Aardwolf Publishing, The Three Tenors ? Off Key (Messner-Loebs with Dave Cockrum and Clifford Meth) is coming in June and will be available in various versions. The book will have nine short stories and be about 120 pages in length.

The Messner-Loebs benefit book from TwoMorrows is tentatively set for August. Neal Adams is spearheading the project, with contributions by Neil Gaiman, Peter David, Beau Smith, Gene Colan, Mark Bagley, Alan Davis, John Cassaday, Walt Simonson, John Romita Jr. and several others.

On other fronts, Dynamite Entertainment has invited Messner-Loebs to pitch a Red Sonja miniseries (separate from the Mike Carey/Michael Oeming ongoing series). Additionally, Messner-Loebs has written a fill-in issue of Green Arrow and drawn two covers: one for Sinnamon and another for Welcome To Heaven, Dr. Franklin, a collection of Messner-Loebs? backup stories from Cerebus coming from Nat Gertler?s About Comics.

Please keep in mind, the ultimate goal is still to get Messner-Loebs and his wife back on their feet again, and they aren?t there yet. But some steps have definitely been made in the right direction.


Stick a fork in me, I?m done. Until next time?

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.


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