Wednesday, May 14, 2014

On the Shelf: A few Free Comic Book Day entries, and some noteworthy TV news

Comics fans will have plenty of reasons to watch TV this fall.

As the current season wraps this month, there are three comic-book-based series on the air: CW's Arrow (wrapping its 2nd season tonight), AMC's The Walking Dead, and ABC's Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, which finished its freshman campaign last night. In the fall, they'll have some company.

ABC is adding a second Marvel Studios production, Agent Carter, spun off from the Captain America movies, but in a post-WWII setting. Hayley Atwell reprises as Peggy Carter. Downside is that viewers will have to wait until mid-season.

DC has 4 new shows joining Arrow, which will return for its 3rd year. One is a reboot of The Flash, which will be a spinoff from Arrow, set in the same alternate universe. CW has also optioned iZombie, which ran for 28 issues between 2010-2. However, the TV version will be radically different from the book created by Chris Roberson (now at Dynamite) and Mike Allred. None of the characters from the book will move to the series, as this will be more of a supernatural-procedural crime drama, a la NBC's Grimm. CW gave up on the revival of the British series, The Tomorrow People, in favor of iZombie. Rob Thomas, the brains behind Veronica Mars, not the Matchbox Twenty frontman, is attached.

Speaking of NBC, they're hoping Constantine can give them a supernatural series to complement Grimm, considering their short-form reboot of Dracula failed to click last fall. Finally, and most importantly, Fox has Gotham, which will focus on the early career of eventual police commissioner James Gordon. Bruce Wayne will be seen as a young boy, but they're also touting some of Batman's Rogues Gallery before they became infamous. That, though, is a reach. Gotham will be coupled with the returning Sleepy Hollow on Mondays. This one actually piques my interest.

As for Agents of SHIELD, ABC will drop it down to 9 (ET) for year 2, hoping that the ratings will pick up. If they had any sense at all, they'd jettison the two-headed monster that has ruined Marvel Animation, Joe Quesada & Jeph Loeb, but that isn't happening, as they're also attached to Agent Carter. Here's to hoping Agents can finally find its footing.

Free Comic Book day was nearly 2 weeks ago, but I'm finally getting around to discussing some of this year's crop. Here's the first sampler:

Fantagraphics has taken the reprint rights for some of the classic adventures of Donald Duck & Uncle Scrooge, particularly those drawn by Don Rosa. The lead feature, "A Matter of Simple Gravity", pits the Duck family vs. old foe Magica De Spell. Gladstone Gander is featured in the backup. Stuff like this never gets old. Rating: A.

DC's big summer event is Future's End, a weekly series that is set a few years into the future (DUH!), in which the DCU is under the thumb of the rogue satellite Brother Eye, so this wipes out the miniseries, The OMAC Project, from a few years back. Jack Kirby, Brother Eye's creator, might as well be spinning in his grave on this one. Too many writers are involved in crafting this fool's folly. Save your money. Rating: D.

Marvel preps fans for the August film adaptation of Guardians of the Galaxy with not one, but two books. However, both the Guardians and Rocket Raccoon have additional features that really don't fit.

Rocket Raccoon, if memory serves, marks his 30th anniversary this year. British writers Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning included him, along with two Jim Starlin creations, Drax the Destroyer & Gamora, in their 2008 reboot of Guardians (upon which the movie is based). This creates a vibe that these Guardians are Marvel's answer to the Suicide Squad over at DC. Who says this isn't the Marvel era of non-originality?

Starlin will return around August as well, with a new Thanos graphic novel. The preview looks great, like classic Starlin of old. That may be on the buy list down the road....! Unfortunately, while it's the last of three features in the Guardians' book, fans have to sit through a Spider-Man short that helps set up the Spider-Verse event later this year.

Meanwhile, Rocket's backup feature is a reprint from the comics version of Ultimate Spider-Man. You can't escape dreck if you can help it.

Guardians gets a B. Rocket gets a B-.

We'll cover more FCBD books another time. Meanwhile, there are some other offerings:

Marvel rebooted Ghost Rider, and people wonder why they even bothered. It just looks lame. Rating: D.

Meanwhile, at DC, after three issues with Batman & Robin, Scooby-Doo Team-Up takes a slide down to Know Your Role Blvd. & Jabroni Drive by making the 4th issue a cross-over with Teen Titans Go!. About the only saving grace to Sholly Fisch's story is a conversation between Daphne & Starfire making indirect references to two of Robin's voice actors over the years (Casey Kasem & Scott Menville). Otherwise, it's a typical TTG! plot,with Scooby & Mystery, Inc. tossed in. Good news for Scooby's fans, though, is that the next issue features Wonder Woman. Hmmmmmm. Rating: C-.

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