It’s the first week of December, and that means it’s time for another column filled with recommendations of all manner of geekery based on the the latest news from Hollywood, upcoming projects, and whatever else the cool kids (or at the very least, my wonderfully nerdy colleagues) are buzzing about these days.
November was a big month for Whovians with the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who marked by a feature-length special that packed in past, present and future Doctors for a wild adventure through time and space. Not only did the “The Day of the Doctor” span a meaty 76 minutes, but it also generated almost $ 5 million at the U.S. box office during its one-night-only 3D showing on 660 screens around the country. Not too shabby!
Of course, any true Whovian will tell you that “The Day of the Doctor” isn’t the only Doctor Who movie – though it is the first to generate much attention on this side of the ocean. If you’re feeling ambitious, track down Doctor Who: The Movie, the 1996 film featuring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor (with a brief appearance by the Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy). While McGann had a long life as the Doctor in radio plays and other offscreen (but in-canon) adventures, Doctor Who: The Movie was his only on-screen appearance as the iconic Time Lord until the BBC’s recent “The Night of the Doctor” short film that served as a prequel to “The Day of the Doctor.” Few will argue that Doctor Who: The Movie was very good in and of itself (after all, there’s a reason the series went on hiatus for 10 years after the movie’s premiere), but for anyone wondering how “The Day of the Doctor” (and more specifically, its prequel) connect with the older series that kicked off in 1963, it’s must-see material.
On the subject of long-running television science-fiction series, Star Trek fans pondering the appeal of Doctor Who (and dreading the wait until the next Star Trek movie) might want to check out Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2. This eight-issue series was collected into manageable, graphic-novel form earlier this year, and the story finds the Eleventh Doctor and his companions Amy Pond and Rory Williams teaming up with Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise to defeat an invasion by the Cybermen (of Doctor Who) and the Borg (of Star Trek: The Next Generation). It’s a fun crossover that more than lives up to the hype and should make fans of both series happy.
On the superhero side, the recent reveal of new promotional imagery from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has everyone talking about the Sinister Six, the team of supervillains culled from Spider-Man’s rogues gallery that have tormented the web slinger at various points throughout his history. Longtime Spider-fans will certainly note that the three characters depicted on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 poster making the rounds – Rhino, Green Goblin and Electro – have never actually been members of the same iteration of the Sinister Six, though they have all operated on the team at one point or another. Still, if you’re looking for a great story featuring the Sinister Six, look no further than the issue that introduced the Sinister Six to the world: The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko introduced the original roster of Doctor Octopus, Sandman, Electro, Vulture, Mysterio and Kraven the Hunter in that 1964 issue of the series, which has been reprinted in countless collections over the years. It shouldn’t be too difficult to track down, and well worth the search.
Barely a week has gone by without a new rumor about Star Wars: Episode VII, so while you’re waiting for something official to finally be confirmed, why not take a dive into the post-Episode VI mythology explored in Dark Horse Comics’ Star Wars: Legacy. Set nearly 130 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, this 50-issue series was hailed by Star Wars fans for its fresh take on the universe established by George Lucas’ original trilogy. The series follows the adventures of Cade Skywalker, a descendant of Luke Skywalker, who must come to terms with his destiny when a new Sith order begins to grow powerful and spread throughout the universe. The entire series is available in paperback collected editions.
I’ve written at length about my love for the animated, feature-length film based on The Hobbit that was released in 1977, so with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug hitting theaters later this month, this seems like a good time to revisit that old Rankin/Bass classic.
If you get the urge to do so (and I hope you do), take note of the voice of Smaug in the 1977 film. The monstrous dragon was originally voiced by Have Gun – Will Travel star Richard Boone, and his take on the character was truly memorable for the strength and deep, bellowing power that his performance conveyed. It’s the sort of performance that makes the choice of an actor like Benedict Cumberbatch make perfect sense for a remake, so it will be interesting to see if Cumberbatch can match Boone’s resonance as the great dragon.
Another gigantic monster making headlines lately is Godzilla, whose return to the screen in May 2014 has been shrouded in mystery – until a recent promotional image seemed to offer a full-body peek at the city-smashing beast’s new look. While that’s all well and good (and to be expected in the Internet age), there’s no reason to sit around waiting for the next teaser or leaked image to find its way online when you can get all the fresh Godzilla adventures you could possibly want from the comics world.
After IDW Publishing acquired the rights to Godzilla and the rest of Toho movie monsters back in 2010, the publisher released a series of limited series, one-shots and even an ongoing series featuring the king of the monsters, as well as Mothra, Rodan and the rest of his assorted allies and foes. All three volumes of the Godzilla series are available in collected editions and offer a ridiculously entertaining adventure that follows several survivors of Godzilla’s attack who rally together to take down the raging behemoth. Possibly the best series of the bunch, though, is the five-issue series Godzilla: Half Century War, written and illustrated by James Stokoe (Orc Stain). It’s a fascinating, hyperdetailed (and hyperviolent) story about one man’s 50-year struggle to defeat Godzilla. Warning: Once you get a glimpse of the art, you’ll have trouble putting the book down.
Finally, with all the talk of Batman and Superman’s impending team-up, it seems like a good time to direct your attention to the currently ongoing Batman/Superman series published by DC Comics that not only features some gorgeous art by illustrator Jae Lee, but also a fantastic, dimension-hopping story that pits various versions of both characters against each other in a battle for the fate of the entire universe. (Isn’t it always that way, though?) While the story moves a little slow at times, the just-released issue #4 wrapped up the first arc of the series, so it’s a great time to jump on board.
That’s it for this month’s recommendations, but feel free to offer some of your own recommendations of comics, movies and games in the comment section!
Rick Marshall is an award-winning writer and editor whose work can be found at Movies.com, as well as MTV News, Fandango, Digital Trends, IFC.com, Newsarama, and various other online, print, and on-air news outlets. He’s been called a “Professional Geek” by ABC News and Spike TV, and is still not quite sure how he ended up writing (and talking) about comics, video games, and movies for a living. His personal blog can be found at MindPollution.org, and you can find him on Twitter as @RickMarshall.
MORE FROM AROUND THE WEB: