02 September 2006

The Many Foes of Spider-Man - Carnage

We are under 250 days and ready for a crazy on the countdown, I bring you Carnage.

In 1992, Venom was hugely popular, and also becoming more of an anti-hero than all out bad guy. So, it was decided to make another Venom-like character, but meaner and more deadly. They gave us Carnage. Venom's alien suit spawned an offspring "costume," which merged with seriel killer Cletus Kasady.

From the wikipedia:

His past is uncertain. Kasady claims he killed his father, who apparently killed the boy's mother when she tried to kill him; however, he is unclear on the exact details ("...or is it the other way around?"). He also claims he killed his grandmother when he was younger, pushing her down a flight of stairs. Kasady tortured animals (including his own dog) when he was young. By his early twenties, Cletus had been convicted of eleven murders, although he bragged about dozens. His largely self-invented past and chaotic personality are two of the traits he shares with the Joker. Ironically, in a Marvel/DC Comics crossover between Spider-Man and Batman, Carnage actually had a very brief alliance with the Joker, but turned on him.

Kasady has been separated from and re-bonded with the symbiote several times. The Carnage symbiote, attracted to stronger hosts, has attempted to bond with Ben Reilly (Spider-Man at the time) to become Spider-Carnage, and the Silver Surfer. Later, Venom decided to absorb the Carnage symbiote "for good." Without the symbiote, Kasady retained the Carnage persona by costuming himself in red paint and continuing his killing sprees (albeit as a powerless human). Soon after, Kasady found an exact replica of the symbiote in the Negative Zone. Why this symbiote is an identical copy, or where it came from, has yet to be explained.


The alien symbiote suit is made of tough, flexible fibers of organic polymer which have the ability to mimic any type of clothing whatsoever (typically colored black or red in Kasady's case). It also makes him undetectable (like Venom) to Spider-Man's spider-sense. Similarly, Venom's ability to "detect" Kasady's presence can be blocked by the suit.

In addition, the suit gives Carnage the ability to adhere to most surfaces with his hands and feet, a power which the symbiote inherited, via Venom, from Spider-Man. Also adapted from Spider-Man is the ability to project a web-like substance from his body. Unlike Venom, Kasady can also separate parts of the symbiote costume from himself and use them as weapons, but they crumble to dust after about ten seconds. Carnage's symbiote originally had the power to "see" from any part of itself and relay the visual information to Kasady although he appears to have lost this power.

The living costume endows Carnage with superhuman strength, sufficient to lift roughly 50 tons. Originally, he was stronger than both Spider-Man and Venom combined. Carnage also possesses levels of superhuman agility and reaction time comparable to those of Spider-Man.

Cletus Kasady is also a formidable hand-to-hand combatant as well as a merciless killer. Combined with the alien symbiote, Kasady is one of the most lethal and unpredictable of all Marvel supervillains.

Venom vs. Carnage

Carnage starred in the miniseries Venom vs. Carnage in 2005. The Carnage symbiote spawned its own offspring symbiote, which he failed to kill. The spawn later bonded with police officer Patrick Mulligan. Carnage continued to try and kill his offspring while Venom defended it (it was his grandchild after all). Venom dubbed the new symbiote Toxin. Mulligan has since attempted to steer the symbiote towards heroism instead of murder, but its probably only a matter of time until Toxin adds another member to the family (She-Venom perhaps?).

Villain Profiles:

the Beetle
Black Cat

Spider-Man 3 debuts in 244 days!

01 September 2006

Does Kirk Still Shoot First?

The original Star Trek series is getting the "special edition" treatment. New CG ships and phasers, populated starbases, and a rerecorded theme song are all planned for the shows return to syndication. I for one am curious about the changes, and optimistic. If Star Wars had merely revamped the effects, I would have been fine with the changes. It was all the tinkering with story elements, most notably making Greedo shoot first, that soured the taste of the "upgrade."

Check out some proof of concept videos here.

Superheroes on Screen - Ghost Rider Update and Some Toon News

Mark Steven Johnson, director of the upcoming film Ghost Rider, has answered some fans questions on the official movie blog. Nothing mind blowing here, but worth a quick read:

Hey guys, thanks for checking out the Official Ghost Rider site. A lot of you have written in asking me questions about the movie. I'll do my best to keep you up to date as we get closer and closer to February 16th. MSJ

Ghost Rider Questions

Shawn S: What's the film making experience like when shooting a flick about a character that's loved by so many fans?
MSJ: Well, the good news is that I AM one of those fans so I've done my best to pay tribute to the Marvel comic character. I grew up with Ghost Rider and just like some of you I've waited a long time to see a Ghost Rider movie. There's a lot of pressure to make good on that but it's pressure that I welcome. I'm hopeful that the movie will introduce the Ghost Rider to a whole new generation of fans while reminding the faithful why he's the coolest character in the Marvel Universe!

Edwin P: What I was wondering, who designed and built that awesome bike, because that's a totally new cool look for the movie adaptation!

MSJ: Thanks, I think so too! Although I kept the look of the Ghost Rider close to the 90's era comics, I did feel that the motorcycle could be improved upon. I always liked that the Batmobile looked like Batman and likewise I felt that the Ghost Rider's cycle should resemble the Ghost Rider. Early concept art by Crash McCreery helped me explore this idea until we came up with the look you see now. It's a bit Geiger in design but without being sci-fi. Hellfire, in our movie, affects metal in a specific way -- from the spikes on G.R.'s leather jacket, to the motorcycle, to a shotgun. All are given a "personality" and a look of our hero. We discussed having a Jesse James or O.C.C. build the bike, but in the end what we wanted was fantasy, not realism, and the building of the bike fell under my excellent Production Designer, Kirk Petrucelli.

Steven B: I was hoping you could let me know if there are any intentions on releasing a Ghost Rider album besides the Christopher Young score. Have there been any final selections of songs from artists yet?

MSJ: A soundtrack or score is definitely a possibility but nothing has been decided at this time. That being said, Christopher Young wrote a beautiful score that is exactly what the movie is -- a horror/western hybrid. There are a few songs in the movie but I should reserve comment until the deals are closed. My good friends from Spiderbait did a few songs for the flick too, including a cover of "Ghost Riders in the Sky" that really kicks ass. If you don't know Spiderbait you should check them out ("Tonight Alright" in particular).

Bryan S: OK, first I wanna say I love Nicholas Cage. He's definitely in my top 5 favorite actors and it's great to see him as a superhero, but I have to ask - Why did you chose Nic? Any particular reason?

MSJ: He's one of my favorite actors, too! He's also one of my favorite people. I've always looked at Ghost Rider as a classic monster movie. And there's a part of Nic that reminds me of Lon Chaney. Nic enjoys changing his look from movie to movie; he's not afraid to alter his face and body to totally inhabit a role. I think you'll agree that the Nic in GHOST RIDER and the Nic in ADAPTATION look nothing alike! That ability gives us not only Johnny Blaze, but the Ghost Rider inside of Johnny Blaze. Nic is a huge fan of Ghost Rider as well. He loves the character and has been a part of it's development for a long time. So it wasn't really a matter of me choosing Nic, it was really a matter of Nic believing in me and the story that I wanted to tell.

Tyson A: When was Ghost Rider made? What comic book was he first seen in? What kind of weapons does he have?

MSJ: The first Ghost Rider was a western comic put out by Marvel back in 1949, then later re-imagined by writers Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich in 1967. The Ghost Rider as we know him today was first introduced back in 1972 in Marvel Spotlight Vol. 1 by Thomas and Friedrich. Ghost Rider's weapons are many: his superhuman strength, his heavy chain which he used like a whip, his ability to manipulate fire, his motorcycle, which can ride up buildings, and probably most importantly, the Penance Stare. The Penance Stare is a look that the Ghost Rider gives his victims which sears the victim's soul -- it doesn't kill, but it makes the sinner feel all of the sins he's ever committed to others. Death would be a welcome relief to anyone suffering the Ghost Rider's Penance Stare!

Steven B: Will Ghost Rider still fight against those who shed innocent blood?

MSJ: Big time. You'll see!

JW: If this film does well will we see a sequel?

MSJ: Absolutely. We'd all love to do one as long as it improves upon the original.

Joseph M: Can you make a Ghost Rider video game?

MSJ: It's already being developed by 2k Games and Climax. The game will be released to coincide with the movie. In the meantime, check out the site from time to time -- there's a new game coming and it's cool!


Animation Updates:

Fantastic Four debuts this Saturday on the Cartoon Network. The first episode is Trial by Fire. Doom will appear in the second episode, and look for a showdown between the Thing and the Hulk in the first few episodes as well.

In the season 4 premier of the Batman episode A Matter of Family Mark Hamill (voice of Batman: the Animated Series Joker) will voice Tony Zucco who offs young Dick Grayson's family. Dick's daddy will be voiced by Batman: the Animated Series Kevin Conroy, voice of that series Batman/Bruce Wayne. So, the joker will finally triumph over the Bat (at least in some weird voice actor continuity).

31 August 2006

Yet Another Update - Transformers, and the Winners Are (Now with Bumblebee Face):

Prime Update (with some Ratchet & Jazz): I give you Mr. Prime in all his flaming glory and vehicle mode hummer ambulance Ratchet, and Pontiac Solstice Jazz:


The names of the Autobots and Decepticons appearing in next summer's Transformers movie were released along with a bit of commentary. I thought that would throw in a few pictures of the robots as an added bonus. Click for bigger version. Sadly there is no ghetto-blaster (or iPod) Soundwave, but I admit the "flame" look on Prime looks A-Ok. Enjoy.


Optimus Prime - "The king!"

Bumblebee - "He's the same underdog character we always knew and loved." [Note: Except he's a Camaro in the new movie.]

Jazz - "He's eager to take on the Decepticons."

Ratchet - "Ratchet, who was an ambulance in the cartoon, will appear in a new form."

Ironhide - "The muscle. A tough soldier who can make any Transformer bust an o-ring just with his stare!"


Megatron - "He's been portrayed as pure evil but we're trying to get a little bit behind the evil in this movie. ... He has a slightly less idealistic version of what he thinks humanity is worth."

Starscream - "Always secretly plotting to dethrone Megatron..."

- "An extremely pissed off Decepticon."

Bonecrusher - "The closest thing to a Constructicon in the film."

Barricade - "The hunter of the group -- a cop car."

Scorpinok - "Closest thing to Beast Wars or Dinobot in the film."

Frenzy - "A smaller form able to infiltrate spaces -- a stealth spy."

Blackout - "The guy who takes out our ability to fight back."

30 August 2006

No One Puts the Marvel Babies in a Corner

I spotted an interesting article on JimHillMedia today. The article discussed the history of "baby" versions of popular characters. Starting with the Muppet babies, babyizing characters has been profitable, and has also proved successful at reaching out to target demographics at a younger age. Following the Muppets lead, there has been Sesame Beginnings (baby Sesame Street), Disney Babies, Tiny Toons, and then the even younger Baby Looney Tunes. The Flintstones kids have cashed in too, as has a Pup Named Scooby Doo. Even Mortal Kombat had a "Babality" finishing move that rendered the defeated opponent a baby (ah how cute).

That's where things turn ugly. Coming in a soon are the Baby Stooges, Bratz Babyz, a young Wayans Brothers project called Thug-A-Boo, and probably most offensive, The Marvel Babies. That is just lame and stupid. Besides, it doesn't even make sense. There was no "baby" Spider-Man or Hulk (unless these guys got nuked/bitten by radioactive spiders as wee ones), and baby Doc Ock... C'mon. Superman could at least be justified, but would still be lame. Then again, there was an episode of Justice League Unlimited with "kiddified" Leaguers that was not half bad.

Still, I don't like where this is going. Its only a matter of time before baby Homer Simpson has his own show. Doesn't sound too bad? What about baby Star Wars (imagine a baby Jar-Jar), baby Lord of the Rings or Transformers babies. Maybe a baby Freddy Krueger would be cute. After all, we all love babies.

29 August 2006

Ink Blots XXVII - Justice League: Starcrossed

Much as the three-part Secret Origins kicked of the Justice League animated series, Starcrossed brought the 52 episode run to a close. This movie event featured the old alien invasion plotline again, but this time it was done masterfully. Rather than some nameless alien race invading, the foes this time is an armada of Hawk people led by Hawk Man (though not THE Hawman) Hro Talak-- to whom Hawkgirl is "promised." Turns out, all this time Hawkgirl has been smashing things with her mace, she has also been an undercover agent for the Thanagarian invasion force. Its not that the hawks hate Earth, but they need to sacrifice our planet to help turn the tide in an interstellar war (yeah, its a bit contrived, but oh well). How will Hawkgirl reconcile her new found love with Green Lantern when Hro shows up? Where will Hawkgirl decide her allegiance lies in this no win scenario: with the League and Earth or with her own hawk kind? Let's just say there are plenty of betrayals to go around.

Each of the League member gets a moment here to shine, Batman and Superman in particular, who are "always the heroes." The film also features each of the characters in alter ego mode and we finally learn which Flash we have been watching all this time (turns out to be Wally West). If only all good series could go out on such a high note. I won't spoil the end, but it is nice that it wasn't felt that all the loose ends had to be neatly resolved. The film definitely ends on a bitter-sweet note (The good news is that the follow up show Justice League Unlimited resolves some of the dangling issues, though not all of them).

The animation here is good for a TV series, but probably not quite up to par with theatrical releases. On the other hand, the action is top notch and well staged, and the score fits perfectly with the on screen happenings (especially nice is the newly composed version of the heroic title sequence produced for the DVD release). Sure, the runtime is just 68 minutes, but it does not fell too rushed or incomplete. One thing that hurts this film is its inaccessibility to non-comics fans. Most people know Batman, Superman, even Wonder Woman, and Flash, but have they ever heard of the Martian Manhunter? or Green Lantern John Stewart? Probably not. And since this is part of a series, there are not a lot of introductions here for newbies. Still, its not that deep of material. I think the uninitiated could enjoy it just fine if they would allow themselves to. For fans of DC comics, this film is a must, for all others I still rate this film an A-.

27 August 2006

UPDATE: Superheroes on Screen - Fantastic Projects

UPDATE: Feast upon this promo for the Fantastic Four animated series:

In live action Fantastic Four news Tim Story has given the following update on his blog:

Well here we are. Exactly two weeks til this all gets under way. Seeing a lot of stuff now.

The latest test of Chiklis' new thing makeup is looking good. I think I told you guys about how we were improving the suit. For one it's lighter and will allow Chikie to be more athletic. I know many of you wish the Thing could've been more agile, well you got it. Michael's excited. We've made improvements to areas like the brow. Yes yes, it's a little bigger. You guys have to remember the brow can't be too big because it just doesn't look as good as you might think, but we have improved it. This all came from the fans saying they wish it were bigger. He'll be wearing more clothes as well. Now that he's comfortable with himself, we can have more fun with his appearance. Wait until you see him in his tux.

The new mask for Doom is awesome. There's a more evil tone to it. I've been working on a maquette of the entire Doom look, complete with armor with my friends at Spectral Motion (the guys who brought you Thing, Beast, Juggernaut, Hellboy, etc...) The look is madd cool. I think you guys will like it. And don't worry Julian will be seen. I talked to him yesterday and he can't wait to get busy.

The Silver Surfer's look just continues to get better. We're trying test on the wake that his board will leave and we're starting to really get into the look of his eyes. Classic Surfer looks from the comic. I think you will all enjoy it. Yes, now the question that I keep getting asked too many times...Doug Jones or no Doug Jones. Here's the low down. Doug has been working on a number of things regarding the Surfer. In order for the presence of the CGI SS to appear and move real, we need someone to perfect movement and provide a base, to which WETA can do their thing. That the jest of it. I don't know what that confirms for you guys but there you go.

Oh yeah, I didn't tell you guys the result of my "studio meetings". Well it wasn't as painful as I thought it was going to be. We found places to cut and not mess with the integrity of the movie. Both sides were happy. 6 hrs ya'll...6! Stuck in a room - dissecting every piece of this movie. The coolest thing was actually the difficulty in finding things to cut. That normally means you need what you got. For the aspiring directors and writers - if you cut it out and find that you don't miss it...you never needed it.

As for animation news, Marvel comics has a number of superhero series in production including another X-men (er um Wolverine) series, and series for Spider-man and Iron Man as well. But up first is a brand new series for them Fantastic Four featuring the Thing with a spray painted logo. The show will debut on the Cartoon Network on September 2nd. Loglines for the first few episodes are listed below:

Episode #1: Doomsday

When Reed is accused of having purposefully exposed Susan, Johnny and Ben to the cosmic rays that transformed them into the Fantastic Four, the team is torn apart. But as Susan, Johnny and Ben individually wonder if Reed is capable of such a betrayal, they’re attacked by the mastermind behind the plot against Reed – Doctor Doom. Now the team has to escape Doom’s prisons in order to save Reed and prevent Doom from plunging the city into the Negative Zone.

Episode #2: Trial By Fire

Johnny is put on trial for crimes against the Kree Empire by Ronan the Accuser after destroying the latest in a line of Kree Sentries, alien robots that have been observing the Fantastic Four. When Johnny chooses Reed as his lawyer, Ben and Susan take the stand in Johnny’s defense. But defending Johnny’s reckless behavior is tougher than they thought, especially when the accused is presumed guilty before the trial even starts.

Episode #3: Zoned Out

When Johnny gives an unauthorized tour of Reed’s lab to his friend Frankie, things go bad. Frankie is sucked into another dimension, and Johnny goes after her to try and keep anyone from finding out. But what he didn’t realize is that something came out of the dimensional portal as he went in - a harmless little bug. Now Johnny and Frankie are trapped and on the run while Reed, Ben and Susan are left to deal with that little bug.

Episode #4: Doomed

Doctor Doom hacks into Reed’s consciousness, transferring his mind into Reed’s body. Now trapped inside Doom’s body, Reed must fight his way back to his family and friends before Doom transforms the Baxter Building into a weapon that could wipe out the Fantastic Four and half of the city.

Episode #5: My Neighbor Was A Skrull

No summary yet.

Sounds okay, but I will reserve judgement until I see it. Surely it will not make up for the cancellation of Justice League Unlimited.


In other news, there has actually been talk of an X4 in spite of the planned spin-off films. Apparently the main obstacle is resigning the original cast, who would be significantly more expensive than they were originally. If you ask me though, you really only need Magneto and Xavier. Wolverine would be nice, but Cyclops and Jean are gone, and no one cares about Storm, and Rogue I could take or leave. Just bring back Beast, Angel, Ice-Man, Kitty, and add Emma Frost and Gambit and you've got a film.

B.O. Update - Superman Lives

It has been a couple of weeks since a box office update. Not much has happened to the overall rankings, but Pirates did surpass the $400 million mark. In fact, Pirates has breezed past Spider-Man to assume the all time 6th highest box office total with a current tally of $407,571,000.

As for Superman: The Quest for Cash, Superman Returns finally passed Ice Age: The Meltdown. Currently, Superman sits on $195,428,000. While the gap to $200 million still seems to be a proverbial tall building, its going to be close. If Supes can continue to drop only 3.3% as it did this weekend, it may still have a chance. Go Supes!

Superman Returns still needs $4,572,000 to reach $200 Million