1. The Avengers Forever hardcover, collecting one of the best mainstream superhero comics miniseries I’ve ever read, is out August 5. Janice Erlbaum’s boyfriend Bill, of all people, bonded with me at one of her readings over our shared love of this miniseries, which pits futuristic Kang the Conqueror (like Ming the Merciless, no doubt influenced by Buck Rogers’ foe Killer Kane) against the team including Iron Man, Captain America, and other Marvel heroes. It’s by Kurt Busiek and in some ways is the Marvel analogue of the Trinity series he’s doing at DC Comics right now about the time-villain Krona.
2. Marvel Comics is putting out a little encyclopedia of their religion- and myth-derived characters in July, amusingly advertised as covering characters “from Aztec to Zoroastrian.” (Side note: When comics writer/artist John Byrne did a big DC Comics miniseries featuring multiple pantheons of gods, he left out the Hindu pantheon — fun though it is — because it is still worshiped, and he didn’t want to be disrespectful.)
3. On the goofier side, four old Marvel monsters (including Electro the Robot now wearing the costume of Electro the human foe of Spider-Man — and the space dragon Fin Fang Foom) have now banded together as: the Fin Fang Four.
4. To the Hulk, a son (named Skaar) — who looks a bit more like Conan’s son. Skaar is seen here commandeering Silver Surfer’s flying surfboard.
5. To Wolverine, some very odd numbering (and comics have seen some odd numbering: zero issues, countdowns, etc.): issue #73 of his comic is coming out before issue #72.
6. As Ali Kokmen points out to me, Reason’s house cartoonist Pete Bagge has an anthology of his work for that magazine coming out, delightfully titled Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me — excerpts of which can be seen in this slideshow and on these preview pages.
7. For good or ill, a Barack the Barbarian comic, pitting him against a scantily-clad, villainous Palin, is on the way.
8. I’m more excited about what will surely be the best movie of April 2010 and possibly the greatest film of all time: Sylvester Stalone’s mercenary adventure The Expendables, featuring a merc team played by him, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, Charisma Carpenter, and more — with a cameo by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as himself. I want to see it again already. Note: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles also cleverly used Arnold, albeit off-camera, as a character by metafictionally having a Terminator target “the governor of California” for termination. (In the future, all movies will be awesome, though, for the simple reason that we now possess 3D that works without glasses — or at least, that was one of DarkHorizons’ cooler April Fool’s stories.)
9. Both films depicting The Hobbit are reportedly due in 2011/2012, produced by Peter Jackson and directed by Guillermo Del Toro — with added material from the main Lord of the Rings books’ appendices, about Gandalf’s rising tensions with the White Council of wizards as they dither about facing Sauron in the land of Dol Guldur (not to be confused with the forbidden land of Doan Godair Girl’fren). It’s bound to be a more faithful adaptation than the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or the film Pride and Predator, the former pointed out to me by Ali, the latter pointed out to me by Gerard Perry.
10. Hylozoic by Rudy Rucker, out this month, is exactly the sort of thing that I always thought cyberpunk should eventually try to envision and prepare us for — not an alien invasion but a world so media-saturated as to approximate telepathy and thus the end of all privacy.
“Panopticon” doesn’t quite do it justice, since that old notion suggests a few spectators and numerous spied-upon people, whereas we’re more likely approaching a world where everyone can watch all the time but only a subset of the population (an increasingly large one far beyond anything dreamed of by Hollywood but still a small subset) is deemed worth watching.
I gave nearly all my Rucker novels as a birthday gift to a friend who hadn’t liked the Narnia novels I’d earlier tried giving him — and who turned out not to like the Rucker ones either. Probably should have kept them all.