The High Five Podcast Episode 17 – Lost Screenplays Adapted As Comics

On today’s episode, I’m running through a quintet of fabulous comic books that adapt unfilmed screenplays of somewhat historical significance. They also happen to be super fun reads.

I read the Things from Another World interview with Phil Hester and Jonathan Lau here.

If you’re curious about the novelization of William Gibson’s Aliens 3 script, here’s the Amazon link.

In addition to the intro penned by William Gibson, I also read this Wayback Machine archived blog post he wrote.

If you have Marvel Unlimited, check out The Star Wars here. You can watch Empire Of Dreams on Disney+!

Here you can see the official Jim Henson Company clip about Time Piece. If anyone knows where I can see the full version and/or The Cube, let me know.

I refer to this Ramon K Perez CBR interview conducted by my pal Steve Sunu!

Trade Pile: Deadman, Judge Dredd & Step Aside Pops!

Another day, another pile of trades! This time around I’ve got a very cool haunted house story starring a longtime DC scare characters, a comic adaptation of a film I haven’t seen and a trip to Mega-City Two  drawn by one of my favorite artists working in comics now!

Continue reading Trade Pile: Deadman, Judge Dredd & Step Aside Pops!

Kevin Smith Trade Post: Green Hornet Volume One & Two

Kevin Smith Green Hornet: Sins Of The Father Volume One (Dynamite)
Written by Kevin Smith & Phil Hester, drawn by Jonathan Lau
Collects Green Hornet #1-5

Here’s the deal with Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet. Years ago, he wrote a screenplay for a new Green Hornet film. To my knowledge, as soon as the Seth Rogen film went into production, deals were made to adapt Smith’s screenplay into a comic book for Dynamite, who also created a few other Hornet books around this time and spun even more out from this. From what I’ve heard on Smith’s podcasts (can’t remember which one), Phil Hester broke things down and would then send the scripts to Smith who would look them over and make some changes. I believe he’s doing the same type of thing with Six Million Dollar Man, also at Dynamite.

I’ve been curious about the results of this somewhat unique collaboration, especially after finally watching the Rogen film and liking it. It’s interesting that the story is somewhat similar with original Hornet Britt Reid’s son taking over for his dad after living a life of leisure with a new, younger Kato. In this case, the new Kato is the daughter of the original Kato who is himself still around. In this world, Green Hornet and Kato  basically cleaned up Century City and retired. That’s a pretty interesting concept, especially when you mentally compare this concept to another familiar one about a rich dude and his pal running around fighting crime that Smith has also written in comic book form.

It’s your basic “becoming a hero to live up to your father” story and there really aren’t that many twists and turns as the story progresses even with that interesting “we beat crime” starting point. The bad guy, who goes by Black Hornet, also turns out to be an angry young man with father issues. There was absolutely not attempt to mask the villain’s identity as we’re only introduced to one character who even could be the bad guy.

Kevin Smith Green Hornet: Wearing O’ The Green Volume Two (Dynamite)
Written by Kevin Smith & Phil Hester, drawn by Jonathan Lau
Collects Green Hornet #6-10

I think I liked the second volume better because it’s got more action and the story moves along at a better clip, so you don’t really notice that you’re reading a story you’ve read before. There’s also a really fun elements where the bad guy ties Kato and the Hornet to the giant type writer on top of Reid’s newspaper building. I love a good death trap and I felt like this one was earned as you see the typewriter throughout the entire thing and then the gun gets fired towards the end. Good stuff.

While reading this story, I kept thinking of how this would have worked as a movie and, I’ll admit, it’s one I would have liked to see. But, it clearly does something that a film couldn’t: keep Bruce Lee as a character. Lee played Kato in the TV series before becoming the biggest action star in the world and then suddenly passing away. Obviously, this would have been difficult to work into the film and I even wonder if this was a changed element from the original script in changing it to a comic. So, yes, it’s a script turned into a movie, but it’s a comic book story that could not happen in the same way on screen. It’s not the actual Bruce Lee of course, but it’s a drawing of Lee as Kato in the beginning and then him as an older guy in the later issues. You could have replaced him with a different actor in flashback scenes of course, but I still like it because it’s Lee in a strange way.

Which brings me to another complaint I had about the book: the dialog. There were actually two aspects of the words that got on my nerves a bit. First off, a TON of Bruce Lee’s dialog from Enter The Dragon was lifted wholesale and dropped in this book. I get that you’re making the connection between Kato and the legendary figure Lee became thanks to his philosophy — and maybe it’s because I literally watched ETD two days before reading the book — but it just came off kind of weak to me. The other aspect of the dialog that bugged me a bit was how Smithian it is. I know this is something that a lot of people dislike about Smith’s writing, many times the characters sound exactly like Smith talks. Seeing as how I’m a big fan of his and listen to several of his podcasts, I’ve become probably overly familiar with the way he speaks. Every time young Reid adds “bitch” at the end of a sentence, it just sounds like Smith talking to me. I get that he’s a socialite and probably speaks flippantly, but I really had a hard time divorcing the writer’s voice from that of the character, which took me out of the story.

I kind of hate to come off so negative with this review, but I like to frame it in my mind by thinking that this is basically a huge budget action flick that does not concern itself with the reality of actor availability or budget. With that in mind, I enjoy it as a fun romp, the kind of thing you’d stop and watch while flipping channels on a Saturday afternoon. I don’t think that’s enough to keep these two books in my collection, but I am glad I picked them up on the cheap at the hotel ballroom comic convention near my house last weekend. Reading this also makes me want to check out the original TV series and the Matt Wagner Year One series. I forgot from watching the Rogen film that the concept is actually different from Batman because the Hornet poses as a mobster himself muscling out the other guys for territory. That’s a rad idea and I’d be curious to see how other people handle this. The fact that one is from the same people who did Batman and stars Bruce Lee and the other is written by the guy who wrote the amazing Mage series’, also helps.

Trade Post: Wonder Woman Odyssey Volume 1

Wonder Woman: The Odyssey Volume 1 (DC)
Written by J. Michael Straczynski & Phil Hester, drawn by Don Kramer, Eduardo Pansica, Allan Goldman & Daniel Hdr
Collects Wonder Woman #600-606

A lot was made of JMS taking over Wonder Woman. People weren’t sure why yet another writer felt the need to screw with Diana’s origin again. Little did anyone know, at that time, that in a year or so it wouldn’t matter. Well, I kind of figured it wouldn’t matter, but in a different way. I assumed this would just be one of those stories with an ending that explained how everything was in an alternate universe and put things back to normal. You know, basic comic book stuff.

So, I went into reading this first volume of what would become Phil Hester completing the story from JMS’s outlines, with an open mind. And, honestly, it’s a fine comic. Diana gets re-envisioned as a younger member of the Amazons. In this new timeline, the Amazons have left Paradise Island and have moved all over the world. There’s also a kind of anti-Amazons causing trouble in various ways. And, of course, there’s enough hints dropped letting you know that something is wrong with this reality, which I assume lead back to the original WW coming back (or would have, if Flash Point/DCNu hadn’t gotten in the way, I really have no idea how this whole thing ended).

But, at the end of the day, does it matter? Considering the new direction DC has taken, probably not in a continuity sense. The real question is whether the story goes somewhere new and worthwhile, mattering artistically. I’m leaning towards no. I’ve read a lot of Wonder Woman comics over the years and nothing in this collection felt altogether interesting or groundbreaking. It doesn’t help that the original writer bailed on the book. If he didn’t care enough to finish, should the reader care enough to see it through to the end?

I don’t usually like JMS’s writing because he has a tendency to get Claremontian with his verbosity. However, I didn’t have that problem with whatever issues he actually wrote (Hester’s always solid in my book). On the other hand I love Don Kramer’s artwork. Unfortunately, he didn’t do the whole book and some of the fill-in guys lack basic composition and storytelling skills. Also, for whatever it’s worth, I had no problem with Wonder Woman’s new costume, even if I used it as a spring board for a Topless Robot list I wrote. I think it looked practical, modern and bad ass.

At the end of the day there wasn’t enough goodness in this book to get me excited about picking up the next volume. I’d probably read it eventually if someone gave me a copy, but I have no intention of seeking it out. If I get curious about how it ended or how it tied into the then-DCU, I’ll just check the Wiki page.