Entry for March 06, 2008: Comics and video

Friends, I hope you've had a good week. Happy Birthday to my brother Peter, Dexter V.H., Nick F.J.T., and Nicole P.! Although I've been playing phone tag with Stuart C.G. and Robert A.S., I'm glad to report that Janice's mother and Corbin A.Y. are home from their respective knee surgeries.

At work, I washed out of during the second round of our Jeopardy tournament, but CW's editorial division rooted on Ken G. as he made it to the finals. Unfortunately, I've been too busy to keep to my regular schedule of pool/billiards with Bob R. on Mondays and Thursdays and visiting Bedrock Comics in Framingham, Massachusetts, with Ken or Brian F. on Wednesdays.

I'm also still catching up on reading comic books. However, I can say that, even though Marvel's long buildup to "Secret Invasion" and the retcon of "Spider-Man: One More Day" were bad, Amazing Spider-Man and action/espionage-flavored Captain America have been pretty good. Over on the DC side, as "Countdown to Final Crisis" drags on, I'm still enjoying the post-Eisner Spirit and all-ages Justice League Unlimited and Teen Titans Go, which I know my nephews David and Joshua would enjoy.

In independent titles, the new Zorro looks to be a worthy companion to the Lone Ranger and other recent literary adaptations, such as Dark Horse's sword-and-sorcery Conan. Eric Shanower's Age of Bronze, a retelling of The Illiad, is still the most detailed and carefully researched of these that I've seen.

Speaking of multimedia adaptations, this past weekend, Janice and I watched the direct-to-video Justice League: New Frontier. Much of Darwyn Cooke's graphic novel had to be cut or condensed for the woefully short runtime, but the art and animation were clean, since Cooke's style is close to that of the respected Bruce Timm.

Andrea Romano's voice casting was excellent, including Buffy: the Vampire Slayer and Angel's David Boreanaz as pilot/cosmic hero Hal Jordan/Green Lantern, Bionic Woman's Miguel Ferrer as alien exile J'onn J'onzz/the Martian Manhunter, Doogie Howser's Neil Patrick Harris as speedster Barry Allen/the Flash. Also noteworthy were Dune's Kyle MacLachlan as Superman; Brooke Shields as Jordan's boss and love interest, Carol Ferris; and in the role she was born to play, Xena: Warrior Princess' Lucy Lawless as Wonder Woman.

The plot of New Frontier was mostly intact, showing how the idealistic Justice League emerged from the dark days of the early Cold War. We also watched some of the extra features on the DVD, including a brief history of the Justice League. Overall, I'd give this an 8.5 out of 10, four stars, or an B+/A-, putting it with Marvel's Ultimate Avengers (Vol. 1) and the animated Hellboy: Blood and Iron.

In genre television, with major cast changes coming to the young-adult metahuman drama Smallville, long-running time-travel show Doctor Who, the speculative fiction team in Torchwood, and space opera spin-off Stargate: Atlantis, the season finales or midseason runs of these shows take on new significance. It's a pity that supernatural comedy Reaper is "on the bubble" in terms of renewal.

We'll have to wait and see if the quality of these shows is helped or harmed by the changes after several years of each. The first-season finale of pre-apocalyptic Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles was decent, with some belated character development and persistent plot holes. As co-worker and fellow blogger Angela G. has noted, the nightmare of killer robots may yet be realized.

After watching the series finale of French sci-fi series Skyland on Friday, 29 February 2008, Janice and I both observed that the design and computer animation were impressive, but that the writing could have been stronger. I've caught parts of the cyberpunk CGI anime Appleseed on cable, and we're looking forward to the eventual return of fantasy Avatar: the Last Airbender on Nickelodeon.

I haven't yet watched the series premiere of New Amsterdam, which features an immortal New York detective reminiscent of Highlander: the Series, but Janice liked it, and I can only hope that it is more consistent than the swashbuckling Highlander franchise.

Coming soon: Gaming changes!