2010, 2011 . . . and a farewell

Associated Press
Associated Press
Posted: January 03, 2011

Comics Guy has reasons to be happy and sad at 2011's arrival.

As always, a new year brings the anticipation of new projects, events and developments in this medium I adore so much.

For example, in less than two weeks "The Green Hornet" will hit the big screen and, it's hoped, make people aware of the high-quality comics that Dynamite has been putting out recently starring the character.

Two high-profile films are already creating huge buzz with their incredible trailers: "Thor," which should appeal to everyone from "Lord of the Rings" fans to those who've enjoyed "Iron Man" and other Marvel superhero film fare; and "Green Lantern," which looks to be the first launch of a film franchise in decades starring a DC character.

In July, fans can look forward to the most real American hero (sorry, G.I. Joe) in our culture and the most patriotic character in comics - Captain America - hitting cineplexes. Early word is that fans who are worried about a campy take on the character should relax. Some are actually comparing the film, set during World War II, to "Saving Private Ryan."

Then, of course, there is the attempt to resurrect the franchise that, along with "Blade," started the Marvel Movie explosion. Though the last installment had a mixed reaction, hopes are high for "X-Men: First Class," which puts a fresh spin on the mutants everyone loves so well by depicting them when they were young and inexperienced. Reaction so far has been so good that producer Lauren Shuler Donner is already planning two sequels.

Another comic franchise that will be resurrected on-screen this year is "Conan."

Comic fans should also look forward to "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2," as rumors increase that the only way fans will see new adventures of Harry and friends after this is if J.K. Rowling gives a comics series her blessing.

The year will end with "The Adventures of TinTin: Secret of the Unicorn." Though virtually unknown in the U.S., "TinTin" is hugely popular in Europe, and should appeal to American audiences as a cross between Charlie Brown and Spider-Man.

Steven Spielberg reportedly had been dreaming about making "TinTin" since 1981, when he was introduced to the comics by a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" reviewer who cited TinTin as an "Indiana Jones for kids." It seems like forever since Spielberg had boyish enthusiasm for a project. If he brings that to "TinTin" the results could be spectacular.

What about the comics themselves? In the sea of high-quality work being produced by various companies every month, a few projects have caught Comics Guy's eye.

At DC, "Multiversity" will attempt to define once and for all the seven major universes in DC's stable. Meanwhile, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank will "reinvent" the Dark Knight with a "Batman: Earth One" graphic novel.

Speaking of which, the Caped Crusader will not appear in Frank Miller's "Holy Terror." Originally conceived as a book in which Batman would kill Osama bin Laden, the project has morphed into a creator-owned book in which a special forces agent known as the Fixer decides to single-handedly take down al Qaeda after his city is attacked.

Miller also will write a "300" sequel, "Xerxes," in the pages of Dark Horse Presents.

Speaking of Dark Horse, they continue to make Comics Guy happy by allowing some of his favorite shows and characters to live on. In March, "Dollhouse" will launch. Later in the year will see the release of a new "Angel" series and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine."

Over at Marvel, the big crossover this year is "Fear Itself," where real-world fears and anxieties take their toll on their mightiest heroes. Also, there's the long-awaited revival of the CrossGen properties and a story in Marvel's Ultimate line dealing with the death of Spider-Man.

Of course, everyone knows he eventually will survive or recover in the comics.

Onstage, the Web-Slinger's survival is another matter. Some are betting that the breathtaking yet controversial "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," the $65 million Julie Taymor-helmed Broadway musical, will never see opening night.

If it can make it through cast injuries and bad press to opening night, it should have a long run. Either way, the stakes are high.

With all that's going on, how could Comics Guy be sad?

Because the curtain is closing on this column after nearly five years. It has been an absolute blast writing about the medium I love, helping people who had never picked up a comic before take the medium a bit more seriously while enabling longtime fans to discover something new. Not to mention giving the genre the respect it deserves.

There is talk of this column taking another form online or possibly coming back, down the road, but for now, this is the end.

As much as I would like to give my take on Garth Ennis' "Jennifer Blood" or Clive Barker writing a "Hellraiser" comic - and countless other titles - it's not to be right now.

I would like to thank everyone at the Daily News for believing in a comics column. And thanks to all of you for reading it. Here's hoping we can do it again sometime. It's been fun.

E-mail comicsguy@phillynews.com.

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