Ok, so, Telltale Games, makers of the award winning video game version of The Walking Dead, have turned their hand to developing a video game from Vertigo’s Fables series. They’re up to Episode 2. I must admit I’m out of the loop on this; I didn’t even know there was an Episode 1! I blame whiskey. Then again, I blame everything on whiskey.

Telltale’s official blog says the release is set for next week but no specific date is given: “We’re super close to the episode’s release now, and will announce dates as soon as we have them confirmed.”

If, like me, you completely missed this the first time around and want to see the trailer for Episode 1: Faith, check it out after the jump.

NGaimanI love comic book movies, but it is a love like John Hinckley Jr.’s for Jodie Foster: just because a feeling borders on obsession doesn’t mean that the object of that affection will ever love you back.

It is a hard-fought love, as I am 42 years old, and therefore lived in a dark time when genre fans hoping for a movie to their tastes would have to bite the bullet and pretend to be excited about things like Harley Davidson And The Marlboro Man and then find a way to convince ourselves that we were worthy of sucking breath in the morning. And if you wanted a comic book movie? Well, there was the first Batman movie that opened just after my 18th birthday, sure, but before that? Well, in the five years before Batman, the only comic book flicks that were released were The Return of The Swamp Thing, Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, Supergirl, and Howard The fucking Duck. That’s a real murderer’s row of movies. In the sense that I want to line them up and shoot them.

So we comic book fans truly live in an amazing time, in the sense that there are many movies based on comic books, and most of them are pretty damn good. Sure, there’s the odd X-Men 3 and Spider-Man 3 out there, but there are very few real stinkers. Sure, there are still arguments about Watchmen (which I rewatched recently and still like a lot), but that comic was so dense that it would have been well-nigh impossible to do a really killer adaptation of the thing. So while I like it, I can understand the argument that everyone involved should have left well enough alone. After all: some comics should just stay comics.

Which is one hell of a long way to go to report that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has announced via Twitter that he has signed on to produce a movie adaptation of Sandman with Neil Gaiman and David Goyer.

tmp_bill_willingham_headshot1224441896It’s a good thing that, for good or ill, Vertigo Comics has got some Sandman back in the fold for at least a little while, because their arguably final big series from their second wave of glory days is coming in for a landing.

That’s right: Bill Willingham has announced that Fables will be ending with issue 150 in about a year and a half, with its spinoff book Fairest closing out at about the same time.

This is… not particularly welcome news.

So what’s up, Bill?

tmp_sandman_overture_1_cover_20131013915906Editor’s Note: Since my local comic store, where they know me by name and ask me why anyone would consider a digital publication of any kind when he’s sure he probably has a slightly used yet still perfectly good Juggs Magazine he could sell me floating around somewhere, was sold out of The Sandman Overture #1 when we visited yesterday, this review is based on the digital version available on Comixology and read on a seven-inch Android tablet.

So. A prequel to a beloved genre series that is widely considered to be a classic, released about 16 or so years after the original series ended. That almost always ends well.

Seriously: I’ve read through The Sandman Overture, written by Neil Gaiman with art by J. H. Williams III and purported to tell the story of what Morpheus was up to just before that dink Roderick Burgess trapped him in a snow globe, and I’m not sure what I think about it. Because it’s a comic book that’s almost impossible to consider on its own merits… not that that’s a bad thing. After all, if The Phantom Menace hadn’t been tagged with the words Star Wars, it would be best remembered as a Twitter hashtag whenever it aired on the SyFy Channel after Sharknado.

But if you take The Sandman Overture #1 as part of the epic tale of Sandman, that means that you’re not only tacking onto a mythology that took 16 or so years for Gaiman to write, but one that spans thousands of years and just about the entire universe. Gaiman took the long view with Sandman, and there’s no reason to think he’s not doing the same with this miniseries.

But the trouble is that we don’t have the entire miniseries yet. We just have this one issue. And while the sum of the parts might wind up being spectacular, I just can’t say that about this single issue. What we have here is, well, a prequel. And one that shows some disturbing signs of succumbing to the same pitfall that all-too-many prequels to genre properties have fallen over the years.

Fan service.

astro_city_1_cover_2013Astro City is good. It has always been good.

For 17 years, across multiple miniseries and a variety of publishers, writer Kurt Busiek and artist Brent Anderson have come up with a generally can’t-miss formula: create a city that has neighborhoods that match up to the Marvel, DC, and even EC horror comics universes and populate them with a mix of existing superhero and villain pastiches and some original characters. Then throw in a general population of people more fully realized than the average running, screaming, goggle-eyed cannon fodder that’s normally trampled underfoot in a world of superpowers. And then not only turn them loose, but tell us what some of them, from the strongest hero to the worst villain to the average schmuck on the street, are thinking about the whole experience.

That formula has allowed the creators to examine some of the biggest eras and characters in comics, from DC’s Justice League (Samaritan, Winged Victory and the rest of The Honor Guard) to Spider-Man (If Jack-In-The-Box isn’t supposed to be Spidey, then please call 911, because this massive stroke is impinging upon my critical faculties) to the 80s darkening of comics in The Dark Age. And the use of pastiches has allowed Busiek and Anderson to really dig into some of these old stories and eras without having to worry about servicing any trademarks, or pesky editorial interference like being fired from the book after it’s solicited.

And now Astro City is at Vertigo, and Busiek seems to have decided to take that opportunity to, well riff on Vertigo comics. Specifically those early, proto-Vertigo books, where the characters still lived in the DC Universe and bumped into superheroes every now and again. Because this time around, the pastiche is pretty clearly Psycho-Pirate from Grant Morrison’s 80s run on Animal Man (with what seems to be a Galactus story brewing), and while that parallel all but screams from the page and colors your expectations, it is actually very, very compelling.

Because Busiek isn’t just acknowledging the reader… he’s involving us.

the_wake_1_cover_2013Editor’s Note: I got to tell you, I give this whole thing a spoiler-factor of about nine point five.

James Cameron’s 1989 movie The Abyss is one of my favorite movies (and if you could quit fucking around with deep sea diving and get a Blu-Ray version mastered, Jim, I’d sure appreciate it). It’s got a mix of claustrophobia, environmental danger, interpersonal conflict and threatening weird alien shit that, even a quarter-century later, it’s just hard to find anywhere else. I saw it in its initial theatrical release, I’ve owned it on VHS and DVD, and will forever harbor an inappropriate and filthy crush on Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio because of it, despite the fact that she’s not still 29 any more than I’m still 18.

If I had to hazard a Russian Roulette interrogation guess, I’d bet that writer Scott Snyder is a big fan of The Abyss, too. Because the first issue of The Wake, the Vertigo miniseries he took a break from American Vampire to produce, is rocking a lot of the elements of that movie. We’ve got a female ocean-related scientist who’s been called back to her area of expertise. She’s trapped on an undersea oil drilling platform with a male former co-worker with whom she has a contentious relationship. The military is throwing their hand in. And there are aliens there: aliens that are threatening to use our oceans to wipe us out… only Snyder implies that, without Ed Harris there to suck pink goo at the bottom of the ocean and use his inappropriate and filthy crush on Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio to whimper for our lives, we’re kinda fucked no matter what happens in the remaining nine issues of this ten-issue miniseries.

So make no mistake: you’re gonna see things that you have seen before in this issue. But is it worth checking out even if you’ve spent hundreds of hours watching The Abyss (Or perhaps thousands of hours, if you count the time spent freeze-framing on Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s boobs)?

Hellblazer300-1Yesterday, I bemoaned the fate of Hellblazer and the title’s termination at issue 300 before going on to say mostly nice things about a character that had been generally known as a cliche, prior to being brought back from the dead. Today, I will talk to you about a character who has also turned into a cliche prior to becoming dead: John Constantine.

I think my “wailing and gnashing of teeth” yesterday was primarily mourning for a character who has really been dying and on his way to dead from about issue 251 on. I’m sure Peter Milligan meant well, but this series – which managed to survive the literal dicking Brian Azzarello gave it back in the year 2000 – has been dead man walking for some time. Sure, there’s been some glimmers of good story, but this is not the John Constantine we all signed up for. This is a sad shell of a John Constantine, a Constantine that, had he been anticipated as a likelihood by former writers like Garth Ennis, would have eaten a bullet sometime back around 1994. Issue 300 does not serve so much as closure for John Constantine as make you wonder about the Constantine that might have been in other hands.

And, I think I’ve figured out why.

Join me as I spoil my way through problem solving, after the jump.

y_the_last_man_volume_1_coverBrian K. Vaughn’s and Pia Guerra’s Vertigo comic Y: The Last Man has been in development by New Line Studios for more than five years, not that the phrase “in development” really has any meaning. After all, Preacher has been popping on and off Hollywood’s radar for years, in development as both a movie and a TV show, with heavy hitters like Skyfall director Sam Mendes and John Cusack rumored to be attached at one point or another (until Mendes grabbed James Bond and Cusack apparently started believing that “Preacher” was some form of synthetic mescaline), and somewhere in a trunk I have a bad xerox of a draft of Blue Beetle writer John Rogers’s Mage: The Hero Discovered screenplay that’s dated something like 2001, and at this point, I think we’re more likely to see Mage: The Hero Denied before that flick gets made.

So what with the years of dithering –  and my personal belief that the minute someone actually shouts “Action” on a Y: The Last Man flick, science fiction writer Frank Herbert’s estate will swoop down with a crippling lawsuit, as we have established that those guys will do any awful Goddamned thing for money – it didn’t seem like a Y movie would ever get made.

And it still might not. But it’s at least a step closer. Because Deadline is reporting that Dan Trachtenberg is now attached to direct the thing.

And if you’re a Y: The Last Man fan like me, who owns every issue of the series and is praying this movie gets made and is a hit so he can sell those issues and maybe afford health insurance someday, you probably heard this news, sat up straight, and said: “Who?”

ComicBookGuy2012 is firmly at our backs. Congratulations, everyone. We made it.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but we had some real time encounters with abject, stinking failure in 2012 that make me all the more grateful to move on and away from it. From the weird decision to fire and then almost immediately rehire Gail Simone, to the baffling continued employment of Greg Land, to the need for some high profile comics creators to make odd and unnecessary comments about Batman’s sexuality because they can’t seem to stop giving Playboy interviews while in the thrall of a mescaline bender, there was plenty to color the comics enjoyment experience last year. And, after all the dust settled from the complaints of former employees about creator rights and other assorted Twitter bitching, sometimes, just sometimes, there were the comics themselves that were the problem.

Here are my picks for the top five comic book disappointments of 2012, after the jump.

When DC Comics announced at San Diego Comic-Con that they were planning to release a comics adaptation of Quentin Tarantino’s movie Django Unchained, which is out in theaters today, I was not particularly enthusiastic, even though I am a Tarantino fan from years back.

Why? Well, picture the first fifteen minutes of Pulp Fiction. Now try to picture that quarter hour as a comic book. Hell, imagine it as a major event comic with A-list talent; let’s say they got Frank Miller to do the art, because after all, the man knows how to draw people in black and white suits. What do you think that comic book would look like? That’s right: it would be 75 pages long with half of those pages being word balloons. And the visuals would be of three different angles of two guys sitting quietly in a car, giving Miller all kinds of unexpected free time to shriek at hippies to get off his lawn. And we know that those would be some killer word balloons, but as a comic book? Not the most exciting-sounding four-color experience. Frankly, if you pitched a comic issue about two guys in a car talking about cheeseburgers and the metric system without using the name “Tarantino,” even Brian Michael Bendis would say, “Meh; sounds kinda… talky“.

So at first glance, a Tarantino comic sounds like a rough idea on its face. However, Django Unchained is a western, which at least implies a certain amount of action and visual dynamism… but to play Devil’s Advocate, Pulp Fiction was a crime movie, which would also imply some adrenaline pounding, but which really only would provided it during the, well, adrenaline pounding. So how does this comic play? An ultra-literate Jonah Hex shoot ’em up? Or, to paraphrase Eric Cartman: a couple of gay cowboys talking about pudding?