How Will We Survive without Heroes? And are You a Grinch or a Peanuts Xmas Fan?
Yup, I've already seen the last new Heroes episode before 2007 (Jan. 22, to be exact, when the show comes back after a long yuletide break). Of course, if you read my ode to Heroes in Sunday's Floridian, you already know this -- with a few spoilers.
It's a strange thing to admit, but I always dreamed of a couple of things as a youngster: computers that didn't require knowledge of a whole new language to operate, and comic book-based TV shows and movies that didn't make me want to lsit my wrists.
It may have takes 30 years, but NBC's success with Heroes proves we're there: one of the most successful new TV shows this fall unabashedly embraces comic book storytelling, characters and even the look of the books. Does it get any better for a guy who still has plastic-wrapped copies of Alan Moore's Watchmen series stuffed in his closet?
Sure it does. Because I got to kick around the notion with Stan Lee, the guy who invented modern comic book storytelling, along with Spider-Man, the Fanstatic Four, the incredible Hulk and many more characters.
"This is mainly happening for two things: Number one, the ability to do special effects that seem to be believable," said Lee, speaking from his office at Pow! Entrertainment in California Friday. "You really believe that Spider-man is swinging from building to bulding on his webs because the special effects are so wonderful. And they finally realized the way to do these things is to suspend belief, believably. You have to believe that if someone is bitten by a spider they’ll get the spider power. So it’s important to make everything else in the movie as real as possible. Everything other than the fantastic has to be realistic."
Lee followed that maxim by setting his characters in real cities -- New York, mostly -- and involving real people as characters in some stories. Heroes taps the same inspirations, setting its climatic disaster in New York and hopscotching through Nevada, Texas and Japan to tell its sprawling story.
Without giving away too much, let me note that tonight's episode does indeed feature the death of an important Hero. Super serial killer Sylar doesn't stay under wraps for long, and the inspired painter Isaac meets up with time traveler Hiro and his pal. H.R.G. takes some unusual steps to secure his daughter's super-healing secret, while our mind-reading police officer finds there is one mind he can't penetrate.
And oh yeah, we also find out exactly how New York City will blow up.
Neal Adams, an amazing artist who helped re-invent characters such as Batman, Green Lantern and Superman in the 70s, noted that filmmakers such as Kevin Smith (Clerks) and Joss Whedon (Serenity) already move back and forth between writing comic books and making movies.
You have not seen the culmination of this trend yet," he said Friday. "We were trying to tell (producers) that all along. Bang and crash is not a bunch of letters on a page...it stands for something real. When you make fun of it, you are not doing what we intended it to be. Comic books are a direction – they’re meant to be explored. That’s why this generation of filmmakers is so different. They’re not making fun of comic books, they’re respecting them."
So sit back an enjoy this week's last hit of Heroes, secure in the knowledge that you have also made the day of a grown-up comic book fan who always knew this kind of entertainment was possible.
Are You a Grinch or Peanuts Christmas Fan?
I always had a theory: just like guys split up into basically the Ginger and Mary Ann camps, when it comes to Christmas music, there are Grinches and Charlie Browns.
The Charlie Browns dig the season pretty much, and the music, in the way Charlie and the gang got into Xmas jamming during their Tv special. But Grinches -- well, they have little tolerance for the the rhythms of the season, and mostly dig songs which subvert and invert the traditional holiday patterns.<
After you read my little diatribe in our holiday music spread today, there will be little doubt where I stand. So what about you? Let's hear some inpsired stories of Grinchdom or Peanut perfection.
Otherwise, it's gonna be a loong holiday season for some of us.
Debating the N-Word. Again.
The good folks at WTVT-Ch. 13's midday "Your Turn" talk segment have asked me to come on Tuesday to speak about my n-word essays. Should be a lively discussion -- if you're not n-worded out by tomorrow, you might want to tune in.