Comic Book Features
A Comics Odyssey – Issue #14
By Wayne Hall Jun 9, 2011, 19:19 GMT
It’s time to review the new ‘Green Lantern: Emerald Knights’ direct-to-DVD movie, then check out my interview with filmmaker-turned-comics-scribe Kyle Higgins. But first, let’s get into the “comics in the headlines” items, all taken from the scifipulse.net website:
George Perez To Write And Draw Superman
Since he worked with Marv Wolfman on ‘The New Teen Titans’ and rebooted Wonder Woman, George Pérez hasn’t written all that many comics. Also, due to health concerns, he hasn’t been drawing many books, either.
Well, according to www.bleedingcool.com, all that is about to change in a “super” way. “Pérez is scheduled to write and draw the new Superman #1,” the site’s Rich Johnston recently reported.
DC Comics has been working hard to give “name” talent the opportunity to both draw and/or write their best characters in this reboot/relaunch, apparently. This includes Tony Daniel, David Finch and JW Williams III, all working in the family of Batman titles.
Pérez has worked on the Man of Steel before, so he’ll be returning to one of the characters that he’s helped revitalize over the years.
In related news, DC has released a lot of information on their changes in individual comics, some restarting at number one, others beginning as new books, and still others moving in new directions. To get the details, go to www.scifipulse.net.
DVD Review: ‘Green Lantern: Emerald Knights’
Synopsis: “With stories by acclaimed writers including Geoff Johns, Alan Burnett and Dave Gibbons, this DC Universe Animated Original Movie explores the rich mythology of the Green Lantern universe through six interlocking chapters.
While awaiting a battle with Krona, an ancient enemy of the Guardians of the Universe, Earth’s Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Kilowog, Sinestro and other members of the Green Lantern Corps recount their greatest adventures to new recruit Arisia – everything from tales of the first Lantern to the ominous events that led to the Corps’ Blackest Night!”
Background: ‘Emerald Knights’ is a six-part story that was originally published in ‘Green Lantern’ vol. 3, issues #101-106. A graphic novel of the story was created, which included the last pages of issue 99 and issue #100, as well as ‘Green Arrow’ vol. 2, #136.
It is the story of Kyle Rayner teaming up with a pre-Parallax Hal Jordan. This story was later collected by DC Comics in 1998 as the trade paperback ‘Green Lantern: Emerald Knights.’
Review: Wow! If Green Lantern fans weren’t already excited about seeing the live-action film based on the DC Comics character coming soon, this DVD should take care of that.
The animation is particularly powerful, with a wide, expansive feel that makes the universe-spanning action come to live vibrantly. It’s very ‘Star Wars’ in how it views the galaxy, and it’s a really fun ride!
It’s important to make the power ring energy not be too cartoony. Instead, it must be strong and believable energy that can truly do what the stories say they can do. This DVD accomplishes that in spades.
As mentioned above, many of the stories here are from comics, and many were created by people associated with the character.
My favorite will always remain the Kilowog story, and it is brought to animated life as powerfully as the comic was. I was choked up at the end of that segment. Nicely done!
But this movie clearly takes place during ‘First Flight,’ the last direct-to-DVD movie featuring Hal Jordan as Green Lantern. The uniforms and set-up all clearly flow from that motion picture. While some may have preferred this all take place in the continuity of the upcoming live-action film, I enjoyed ‘First Flight’ enough to take the continuity in stride.
Fans of ‘Firefly’ and ‘Castle’ star Nathan Fillon have been saying that the actor would be a better choice for Hal Jordan than Ryan Reynolds, but I am ambivalent about that.
Don’t get me wrong–he does a good job providing his voice, but it almost has a “cowboy” feel to it the way Fillion presents it. I just don’t see Hal Jordan that way. Reynolds is closer to my ideal Jordan voice, but it wasn’t too distracting.
We see interesting relationships that we haven’t explored very well previously. That includes Sinestro and Abin Sur’s friendship and mutual respect, although they look at the universe through very different eyes. I was fascinated to see that the two of them could be so different and yet find common ground. Also, the fact that Atrocitus (soon to be a Red Lantern in the comics) gave prophecies that all would come true was unnerving.
All said, if you are a Green Lantern or SF fan, you’ll love this DVD. Heck, even if you aren’t, this collage of stories will pull you in and make you a believer!
Kyle Higgins Interview
One of the “new voices” in comics today, Kyle Higgins is a writer/director who has just been announced as the writer for the new ‘Nightwing’ comic. Among his other projects, he’s worked with Scott Snyder on the ‘Batman: Gates Of Gotham’ miniseries currently being released by DC Comics.
I had the chance to submit some written questions to him, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading his answers.
Wayne: I’ve always been intrigued by Gotham City’s history. In the Batman mythos, Gotham is a character in its own right, and I don’t think we know nearly enough about it. What prompted you to focus on that in the Batman: Gates of Gotham miniseries?
Kyle Higgins: Well, this was originally something that Mike Marts and Scott [Snyder] were talking about — the concept was much different than what it is now, but there was always an element of “the past” in the pitch (I believe originally it was going to be kind of a smaller, “Made of Wood” type story). And personally, I don’t know a writer who DOESN’T love world building … especially when the world is something as iconic as Gotham.
In particular, the era that’s always fascinated me — and it’s the thing that Scott, Trevor [McCarthy] and I all gravitated to immediately when we started talking about the project — is the gilded age and the rising of the skyscrapers in America. Growing up outside Chicago, the idea of men engineering and crafting spires that would break the clouds … it’s always been fascinating to me.? It was a time of hope and optimism — and in Gotham, that was rare.
Wayne: I also think it¹s great that you¹re exploring the backgrounds of the prominent city families, including the Waynes and the Kanes, for instance. Did this require much research? Have you had to create new characters in these families to tell the story? If so, what was it like adding to the Batman legend in this way?
Kyle Higgins: There is a lot of research involved, but at the same time, this particular era is fairly unexplored. Characters like Alan Wayne and Theodore Cobblepot have been established as having existed, but beyond that, there hasn’t been too much nailed down about them. Nicholas Anders and his brother Bradley (who you’ll meet in issue 2) are new characters, as are Edward Elliot. And to me, the challenge of creating characters that are from the same bloodline as modern characters is striking the balance between them feeling familiar, but still having their own voice. I mean, certainly we know what Oswald Cobblepot sounds like, but how similar should Theodore Cobblepot sound?
Wayne: Your writing partner on this book Scott Snyder has a background in short stories while you bring movie experience to the table. Did you all find it easier or more difficult to work together because of that?
Kyle Higgins: To me, story is story. Scott and I come at things very much in the same way, working our themes and character arcs first and then letting our plots grow from those, while there are some writers who prefer operating a bit more outside in. They usually let their themes grow from their plots and their action, which is much harder for me to do. Because of that, Scott and I are usually on the same page.
That said, I think we execute our ideas in slightly different styles. A good example, to me, would be voice over. It’s something that I use, and I do feel comfortable with … but it’s also something that doesn’t come naturally to me. Whether or not it’s the film influence as you mentioned, I tend to use more silent panels, trying to get inside characters’ heads through reaction shots and subtext in dialogue.
On the flip side, Scott seems to be able to launch into the most poetic and contemplative internal monologues with an ease that is really inspiring … and annoying, when I try it (laughs). But when you put the two of us together?? Magic … hopefully (laughs).
Wayne: You bring Cassandra Cain, one of the previous Batgirls, back to Gotham in the first issue. Would you like to see her appear more in the Bat-books in the future?
Kyle Higgins: Of course. And one of the things I’m trying to do in Gates is figure out what her place in the Bat-family and Bat-universe-really is. I mean, this is a character built on such a brilliant concept — the greatest fighter in the world because she speaks the language of motion, but as a result, has trouble communicating in any other way.
Obviously it’s been a long time since that was who she was, and it’s not something we can exactly take her back to, but at the same time, I’d love to start exploring what her core and her role have become now.
Wayne: Some folks online have said that your dialogue with Bruce Wayne’s Batman is reminiscent of Kevin Conroy, who voiced him in ‘Batman: The Animated Series.’ Was that intentional? Or did you have Bruce speak with a different voice?
Kyle Higgins: Ha. Well, I’m a huge fan of Kevin Conroy, and ‘Batman: TAS.’ The show — along with ‘Mask Of The Phantasm’ and ‘Batman Beyond’ — were my childhood. I do have a tendency to write very succinct, almost punchy dialogue for Batman, which may be what gives it the flavor you’re talking about. I get a lot of that from the Michael Keaton Batman, too. I admit, it makes differentiating between Bruce Wayne Batman and Dick Grayson Batman a bit more challenging, though it’ll be much clearer in issue 2 that this is Dick under the cowl.
To me, the tough thing about writing Dick as Batman while he’s “on the job,” is finding the balance between Dick’s natural voice, and the Batman voice you’d expect. I mean, the interrogation scene in issue 1 is a good example to me — it certainly reads more like a Bruce Wayne Batman, but at the same time, Dick and Tim are up against the clock and the stakes are huge. And here, to write Batman as anything other than all-business feels like it’s disrespectful to the fact that all these people are dying. Though Dick-as Batman does make fun of Ronnie’s pleather jacket in the opening scene … (laughs)?
Wayne: This isn’t your first time dealing with Batman and his partners. You also dealt with Nightrunner in the recent Batman and Detective annuals. Was he also a new creation? Are there plans for that character to appear again?
Kyle Higgins: He was a new creation, as developed by David Hine and myself. David had the idea of introducing a “French” Batman, but playing against type and making him part of the minority in the ethnically divided and charged Paris. My job was to figure out who he was and what made him tick. I’m not sure where he’ll appear again, but I do think he’ll be around at some point. At the end of the day, I think the core of the character will last.
This is a guy trying to unite a country by becoming a symbol for the divided people to unite around. And then at the end of the story, his own people do come together … but they come together to oppose him. So he becomes a symbol, but not in the way he wanted.
Wayne: The focus for the Dark Knight recently shifted to ‘Batman, Inc.,’ which also reminds me of the Bruce Timm animated show in that Batman became more the leader of a team than a solo crime fighter. Has this changed your perspective of the character? Are there ways you¹re trying to preserve Batman’s individuality while incorporating his new methods and partners?
Kyle Higgins: I haven’t played too much with Bruce yet, so to be honest, it’s not something I’ve really explored. I do think you raise an interesting point, though, namely what makes Batman so interesting is what he’s a symbol for. So one of the concerns becomes, how do you spread that symbol without diluting it?
Wayne: What can we look forward to in upcoming issues of this mini-series? Do you have a lot of surprises in store for us?
Kyle Higgins: I can promise you this--there will be more explosions (laughs). Beyond that, I think what I’m most excited by is our 1800’s story. The secret of the families … I think it’ll surprise a lot of people.
Wayne: What other projects are you working on that you can tell the fans about?
Kyle Higgins: Well, as of June 1, my first issue of ‘Supreme Power’ will be out from Marvel. It’s a four-issue MAX series that hopefully brings the book closer to its early JMS days. Beyond that, comics-wise, I have a couple projects that are still a few weeks away from being announced, but feature two of my all-time favorite characters. They’ve been a blast to write so far.
And actually, the other project I’m really excited about — and it’s one I can talk about — is that I’m in the middle of adapting Duane Swierczynski’s ‘The Wheelman’ with Alec Siegel, for me to direct. Alec’s doing a second draft on the script now, which is shaping up quite nicely, and with any luck, we’ll be getting things off the ground pretty soon!
Wayne Hall contributes to the Smallscreen, Film and Graphic Novels/Comic Book sections of the Monsters And Critics.com website. He writes recaps for Fox’s ‘Bones,’ Syfy’s ‘Warehouse 13’ and the BBC’s ‘Doctor Who.’ He is co-editor and a news writer for SciFiPulse.Net. He also serves as a host for the SFP-Now weekly podcast and produces and stars in the Wayne’s Comics weekly podcast. You can check both of them out at http://www.sfp-now.com.