Monday, July 30, 2007

Justice League of America: The Movie

I just finished reading an old issue of Justice League of America, number 146 to be exact, and after I finished the story I started skimming through the letters pages. This letters column featured the final results from a poll conducted in an earlier issue asking fans to write in their casting choices for a JLA movie. This poll was conducted in 1977. Here were some of my favorites.

Farrah Fawcett: Black Canary.

Lee Majors: The Flash
Okay, one more time. Lee Majors as the Flash!

Jack Klugman: Green Arrow.

Roger Moore: Green Lantern.

William Shatner: Aquaman

Henry Winkler: Hawkman

Jan Michael Vincent: The Atom

Burt Reynolds: Batman

Kate Jackson: Wonder Woman

They announce at the end of the column that Christopher Reeve has been cast as Superman in the forthcoming movie but JLA readers of 1977 made such fine casting choices as Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Jenner as the man of steel! The above mentioned did not necessarily receive the most votes for those parts but they apparently got enough to be mentioned. Jack Klugman as Green Arrow! Shatner as Aquaman! We need to find Jerry Bruckheimer a time machine and get it done.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Manhunter Uncancelled!

As I have said before DC comics’ Manhunter is one of my favorite comics so you can imagine my disappointment last month when I read in Previews that after a five issue reprieve it was getting cancelled again. Well good news! The word from the NYCC is that Manhunter has been given a permanent reprieve. I know this will please all of you since you all became Manhunter readers after my previous post on the subject, right?

Read the news here.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Movie Review- Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator

This post has nothing whatsoever to do with comic books. This post does have a lot to do with skateboarding and is a movie review so it gets in on the blog. I have just watched Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator twice now in two days, the second about an hour ago and I am still reeling from what a good movie this is. This actually came out in 2003 and I remember hearing about it then but somehow I never managed to get around to seeing it until now.

I started skateboarding in 1985 and continued skating up to around mid 1993. When I started skating in eighty-five Mark “Gator” Rogowski was one of the biggest names in skating and along with Lance Mountain, Christian Hosoi, Steve Caballero, and Tony Hawk was one of my favorite skaters. This feeling was shared by many as I remember the Gator deck being very popular with other skaters I knew at the time and the documentary confirms this. My second deck was a Gator and I had a least one more after that one. In 1992 he murdered a girl and went to prison. I was, like I imagine most of his fans, shocked by this.

This documentary is just what the title says, the story of the rise and fall of Gator. I generally don’t approve of life story documentaries about murderers but this one serves a larger purpose as a cautionary tale about the excesses of fame at a young age and the hardships young people endure when their time in the spotlight is over and they aren't the big thing anymore. The movie begins in the early eighties when Gator was first becoming popular. The film does an excellent job of capturing that era in a way that I really felt transported back to it. Old video footage from Vision videos that I haven’t seen in years mixed with still photographs from Transworld and Thrasher that I haven’t seen in years and a soundtrack featuring Naked Raygun and the Faction (both of who I have continued to listen to through the years) had me wistfully nostalgic for the first half hour of the movie. This seems an odd feeling to have because by the end of the movie I was completely bummed out.

And that’s part of the movies brilliance. It reminds us why we liked Gator in the first place and put us smack in the middle of his world on the road to fame evoking all the fun and excitement of skateboarding at that time then taking us through the hollow, phony commercialism of the late eighties Vision Street Wear phase where Gator seemed to reach the height of his fame and success. Actually I don’t remember much about Gator from this time. I always thought Vision Street Wear was lame and never had any. Instead of Vision I mostly skated Zorlac, Powell, and Santa Cruz products in the late eighties. I do remember seeing him on that episode of Club MTV that they show in the movie. Following this we see his decline as his alcohol problems and mental problems get worse culminating in his raping and murdering a friend of his girlfriend.

The film brings home the horror of what he did showing interviews with the police who investigated the crime recounting it in horrible vivid detail. The only criticism I might have of the movie is it spends so much time humanizing Gator as a tragic figure and maybe not enough time on humanizing his victim Jessica Bergsten. The movie is Gators story however and it is a sad story indeed. Many people from skateboarding who knew Gator are interviewed and Stacy Peralta sums up what I think is the point of the film best in his interview stating that fame is often not worth the cost especially at the young age that most professional skateboarders are. This film should be required viewing by anyone who is on the verge of becoming famous in any field that has a quick turnover of superstars.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone even if you were never interested in skateboarding. I’ll try to get back to talking about comics again soon.

Friday, January 5, 2007


If you have not read Manhunter 27 spoilers follow.

I want to share some thoughts on what I think is one of the best comics being published by DC at the moment: Manhunter. I was in the store today telling Tug that I would love to see a meeting between Kate Spencer and another of my favorite DC characters of recent years Sasha Bordeaux. I get to home to read this months issue of Manhunter and who shows up? Sasha Bordeaux! Were they reading my mind? That’s eerie. This comic literally gave me exactly what I wanted! I hope all of you reading this are picking up Manhunter because it’s a terrific book and sadly overlooked. It was cancelled earlier this year and then given a reprieve due to enthusiastic fans writing DC. I wasn’t one of them but I’m glad for their efforts.

If you aren’t reading and/or are completely unfamiliar Manhunter is a divorced single mom named Kate Spencer who works as an attorney. Busy as this keeps her she is also a costumed vigilante named, you guessed it, Manhunter. The character Manhunter has been with DC since the Golden Age though Kate Spencer is a relatively new character created by Marc Andreyko and Jesus Saiz. There are many things I like about this series such as making elements of the DCU from the nineties that were not very popular or are generally not highly regarded cool aspects of the book. There is one courtroom scene where a defense attorney asks Hawkman which version of Hawkman he is and how he works and Hawkman can’t answer him! Cameron Chase, the Darkstars, and Azreal are all nineties characters that pop up at some point. I found myself blown away by the most recent issue when former Manhunter, Mark Shaw is taken to the castle of the Knights of the Order of Saint Dumas. I actually said, “oh, shit. It’s the Order of Saint Dumas!” as I was reading. And I meant that in a good way not in the, “oh, shit. It’s the Order of Saint Dumas” way I said it around 1996 when the Order of Saint Dumas seemed the pinnacle of lameness.

Manhunter also reminds me in some ways of what may be my favorite comic series of all time, the nineties Starman series. Starman took a character that had been around forever in several incarnations and tied them together and streamlined the legacy while at the same time creating a new compelling character, Jack Knight. (I’ll probably get around to talking about Starman more at some point in the future). Andreyko ties together the Manhunter legacy a bit differently than Starman did but still very effectively. He kills most of them off. Also like Starman Kate is tied into DC history with family connections. She is the granddaughter of Iron Munro and Sandra Knight and cousin to Jack Knight himself. Yea!

There are many other reasons to love this book the main one being that it’s about an interesting character, with a solid supporting cast that presents a fresh and unusual perspective on superheroes.