Brian Singer Returns to X-Men Franchise: The Sequel!

by Josh Starnes, CMRO Editor

Fans who were … let’s go with ‘disappointed’ … by “X-Men: The Last Stand” cheered loud and long when director Bryan Singer was announced to be returning to the franchise as one of the producers and writers of “X-Men: First Class.” Those fans now have reason to cheer even louder and longer as Deadline reports today that Singer has confirmed he will be taking over directing duties for the next film in the series: “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”

“X-Men: First Class” director Matthew Vaughn had been in negotiations to return to the director’s chair for the film which is scheduled to begin shooting in early 2013, but on Friday it was reported had passed on the offer. This marks the second major comic sequel he has passed on, also giving up the director’s chair on “Kick Ass 2” due for release next year. It’s unknown what project he passed on “Future Past” for though the rumor is he may be re-teaming with “Kick Ass” partner Mark Millar for an adaption of one of the comic writer’s other creative owned properties.

The move completes the tangled flip flop of creative talent which has engulfed the “X-Men” franchise since the mid-2000s when Singer was passed over for “X-Men 3” after agreeing to helm “Superman Returns” for a 2006 date. At the time Fox had already announced a May, 2006 date for “X-Men 3” and would not wait for anyone or anything, including a finished script. Originally Vaughn was scheduled to take Singer’s place but eventually passed due to the tight time table with no clear story intact and was eventually replaced by Brett Ratner. The end result was the most expensive, highest grossing and least liked of the series and after a pause and a re-think the series was restarted with the “First Class” prequel, with Vaughn finally taking the helm.

Singer, who had initially passed on directing “First Class” to focus on his adaptation of “Jack the Giant Killer”, has been vociferous about plans for the next film in the series.

“It’s going to be very ambitious,” Singer said in August. “It’s called ‘Days of Future Past.’ It deals with aspects of that comic, but also some very new things — I just don’t want to give any of it away. I think there’s a strong desire to broaden out the universe. I mean, the X-Men Universe is every bit, on its own, as big as the Marvel Universe, and I think it’s time to reach out and explore it, and perhaps even bring some connectivity between the films — as Marvel has done so well.”

“First Class” stars Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence are all scheduled to return for the sequel, which will focus on the “Days of Future Past” storyline from the “X-Men” comics.

Marvel Super Hero Squad #9 Review

by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

Marvel Super Hero Squad

Issue #9

Written by Todd Dezago, Art by Marcelo Dichiara

Published: November 2010

It’s ladies vs. gents when She-Hulk, Tigra and the Wasp form their own superhero team in response to the lack of appreciation they receive in comparison to their male counterparts. Soon, a friendly competition results in more trouble than either party bargained for.

Apparently, when you decide to tell a story about a female superhero team, the angle you MUST take is a boys vs. girls scenario. Not that I don’t think sexism in the comic book world isn’t a perfectly valid subject, but this book doesn’t seem interested in anything that substantial. It’s very firmly in the arena of cute–and come on, how much of a competition is it anyway, when the girls are so clearly cheating?

Cute isn’t necessarily bad, but it doesn’t work for me here. The art is very stylized, and while this is a ‘your mileage may vary’ sort of thing, I can’t call myself a fan. There’s an almost creepy quality to the character designs. The adults aren’t much bigger than children, but the females have fully developed breasts and curves despite their diminutive size. It’s a look that’s characterized by small bodies and giant heads, giving a bobble-headed look to the characters. There’s also a tendency for characters’ hands to look comically huge whenever the art tries to acknowledge perspective. It’s just not very appealing, and the infantilized look just makes me feel creeped out, like I’m reading a story about a bunch of cosplaying kids.

There are other stories in the issue–one revolving around a belching contest between the Hulk and the Thing–but I confess that I struggled to finish it. The whole effort feels juvenile and unappealing, concerned with cute, easy humour and little else.

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Disney Buys Lucasfilm; New Star Wars Films on the Way

by Josh Starnes, CMRO Editor

And yes, this is directly related to Marvel. See how in a second.

Disney chairman Bob Iger and Lucasfilm, Ltd. Found George Lucas announced on Tuesday that Disney would be purchasing the company for $4.05 billion in cash and stock. The purchase includes the rights to both the extremely lucrative “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” sagas, as well as Lucas animation firm Lucas Digital (which currently produces the “Clone Wars” television show) and the visual effects firm Industrial Light & Magic.

The move comes in the wake of Lucas’, 68, recently announced retirement plans which included the handing over of day-to-day operations of Lucasfilm to Kathleen Kennedy, the long-time producer for Steven Spielberg and former president of Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. Kennedy will remain in that role at Disney where she will be president of Lucasfilm.

Disney immediately announced the surely fan pleasing move of more “Star Wars” films—the first to be released in 2015 the same year as the studio’s “Avengers 2” and then more every 2-3 years afterwards—with Lucas in a consulting but not a direct filmmaking role, similar to his role with the “Clone Wars” and upcoming live action “Star Wars” TV show. An aphorism to fans about being careful about getting what you wish for because you might get it springs to mind, but at the moment we’ll let optimism carry the day.

So how does this directly relate to Marvel you ask?

The sale reportedly comes in 50% cash and 50% stock in Disney, which also owns Marvel, making Lucas — Lucasfilm’s sole shareholde r— likely Disney’s now largest shareholder and giving him tremendous influence on strategic moves Disney makes from now on. Such as the shape of its board of directors and the direction it takes with its properties in the future. Properties which include Marvel Entertainment.

Lucasfilm and Star Wars have had a long relationship with Disney, with several Star Wars and Indiana Jones themed rides and shows at the studio’s theme parks, along with annual “Star Wars” days.

New Avengers #31 Review

by Nick Walden, CMRO Contributing Writer

New Avengers

Issue #31

Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Michael Gaydos

Published: December  2012

What a weird book and possible end to this series. Basically it was an issue where loose ends were wrapped up and possible groundwork was laid for future issues if this series continues in the New Year. Really there wasn’t much I liked about this book but I will start with things I felt went well.

Brian Bendis did a good job with Luke Cage and exploring his character. I thought he made a bad leader because of the constant self exploration but perhaps that is what Bendis was trying to show. But I was glad that he was getting a send off even though it was a bit over the top in terms of love for him. He almost got people killed quite a lot compared to saving the universe so saying the world is over because he won’t be running the show is a bit much. Of course the roster is a bit thin in regards to leader-caliber options but I’m sure someone will pop up. This is a comic book after all.

Not a big fan of how things are developing with Dr. Strange and Daimon Hellstrom. I have always loved Strange and am not a fan of making him seem or him becoming a lesser power. But then Bendis does a nice job of typing off the loose ends with Janet Van Dyne and Brother Voodoo.

Michael Gaydos did a great job with the art. His big scenes matched the tone of the story and the facial expressions were all very nice. The ink and colors were excellent lending a very nice feel and polish to the whole issue that actually made it much better to read compared to the plot.

The bottom line is this is a 7 out of 10 review. You really don’t need this book but it answers a few questions about how things have progressed. If this series continues with an issue #32 then maybe this book will be more necessary in case a plotline ties in but for the most part I would say pass and save the coin. The art really saved it otherwise I would feel completely ‘meh’ about it.

Scarlet Spider #10 Review (Minimum Carnage)

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Scarlet Spider

Issue #10

Written by Christopher Yost, Art by Khoi Pham

Published: December  2012

Chris Yost manages to buck a major trend in comic crossovers in the first few pages of Scarlet Spider #10 and for that I am eternally grateful. More often than not, when two superheroes crossover and beat each other to a pulp, it’s all due to a misunderstanding that could be cleared up in a heartbeat if they would just simmer down and talk it out. Fortunately, despite both Scarlet Spider and Agent Venom being hotheaded individuals (Scarlet Spider much, much more so), they manage to avoid unnecessary conflict by using their words. And thanks to the venom symbiote’s volatile nature, we’re not even robbed of an exciting fight scene!

There’s a plague in the Marvel universe that prevents its heroes from staying inside of their own dimensions. Sometimes these outings work, a lot of the time they don’t. In Scarlet Spider #10, our hero and Venom venture beyond their realm in pursuit of Carnage. Despite my bitterness towards such practices, I didn’t hate it. Normally I wouldn’t think of Scarlet Spider as a dimension-hopping hero, but I think that Chris Yost kept it reigned in enough that I didn’t feel overwhelmed by nonsense.

Maybe I give Scarlet Spider more leeway than I do Spider-Man. When Spider-Man goes into other dimensions – which he does – it bugs me. I like my Peter Parker/Spider-Man to be grounded very hard in reality. Kaine, the man behind Scarlet Spider’s mask, is already a clone of Peter Parker, so it doesn’t bug me as much when things take a turn towards the fantastic.

Scarlet Spider and Venom make a good team, which isn’t much of a surprise. I hope this keeps up for at least a little while, but I don’t think it will. Still, I’m definitely enjoying it while it lasts.

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Fantastic Four #611 Review

by Dylan Duarte, CMRO Contributing Writer

Fantastic Four

Issue #611

Written by Johnathan Hickman, Art by Ryan Stegman

Published: December 2012

For the sake of this review, let’s just ignore what Marvel is doing with some of my favorite titles. For those who somehow haven’t heard, in preparation for the launch of some new titles, Marvel is ending nine different series this month, including Fantastic Four, Captain America, Incredible Hulk, and even Uncanny X-Men. Fantastic Four 611 is not only Jonathan Hickman’s swan song, but the farewell for the series as a whole. When viewed in that light, it’s a little underwhelming, but can any ending do justice to a 611-issue run?

While Reed Richards was off galavanting with his father and his adult daughter from the future, Doctor Doom used two infinity gauntlets to create his own universe. Apparently commanding an army of lobotomized doppelgangers just wasn’t enough for the power hungry titan. Unfortunately, creating a universe proved difficult for even Victor Von Doom himself and he’s found himself in quite the pickle.

Hickman has used the grandest stage and the most fantastical elements to tell what is essentially a very human story about two old friends. To say that Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom have a rocky history is the understatement of the year. Their relationship is the stuff a great comic rivalries are made of. Hickman displays that in beautiful fashion by having Reed spring into action when Doom gets in over his head. It’s also worth noting the skill it takes to get someone to feel sorry for Dr. Doom, and yet Hickman accomplishes that.

It’s sad that Fantastic Four is ending. It will be back in some incarnation, that much is certain, but when that’s going to be and who the creative team will be is still unknown. If this is Hickman’s last outing with the Richards, it’s a fond farewell.

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