Comic Wire

Tue, July 20th, 1999 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Beau Yarbrough, Columnist

INFINITY AND BEYOND:

PAUL RYAN ON UPCOMING 'CRISIS' ONE-SHOT

Even 13 years later, DC Comics' "Crisis on Infinite Earths" is a landmark event in comics. The combination of Marv Wolfman and George Perez serves, if nothing else, as a high-water mark every DC "event" has been measured against ever since.

So when it turned out that Perez wouldn't be reprising his pencils on December's "Crisis" one-shot (a new story set between issues four and five of the original series, as first reported at the Comic Wire last week), it was an assignment that was sure to be viewed with a critical eye by fans.

"Working on anything dealing with 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' was bound to be intimidating and it was," Ryan told the Comic Wire Tuesday. "The original series is still remembered and well thought-of 13 years later.

"That's probably why Mike Carlin approached me in a very cautious manner when asking if I would like the job. Mike: 'Paul, would you like to work on a special project for me?' Paul: 'Sure.' Mike: 'It's got 54 pages.' Paul: 'OK.' Mike: 'It's got lots and lots of characters.' Paul: 'OK (a bit more hesitantly).' Mike: 'It's 'Crisis on Infinite Earths.'' Paul: 'Uh huh (suspicion and dread creeping into his voice).' Mike: 'We need it by the middle of July.' (This was late May) Paul: 'Uuhhhhhh, huuuhh. OK.' (visions of his life start to flash before his eyes.)

"I read through the original mini-series to prepare for the task. Marv's plot came in and I got to work. It took me several pages to get over the anxiety of working on a piece of DC history so aptly drawn by George Perez. Mike originally asked Jerry Ordway to handle the inks but Jerry was unavailable. I suspect he still has nightmares associated with the original series. George DID put a heck of a lot of pencil to paper. I was equally delighted when Bob McLeod agreed to pick up the gauntlet and finish the pages for us.

"The special deals with a time and place that Marv places somewhere between issues four and five of the original series. It is a good solid story that will tear your heart out. I hope I did it justice. Now that my part of it is over, I'm happy that I was a part of it but oh, all those costumed characters to coordinate. Please excuse me, I have to lie down."

The "Crisis on Infinite Earths" will be released in December, the same month the first-ever "Crisis" compilation will be issued, a high-end hard cover edition.

NEW LINE SNAPS UP ANOTHER COMIC ADAPTATION:

FRANK MILLER'S 'RONIN' HEADED TO BIG SCREEN
Comic fans are still buzzing about the sudden "Danger Girl" movie deal with New Line Cinema, announced only a few weeks ago.

Now Variety is reporting that independent filmmaker Darren Aronofsky has signed a deal with New Line to adapt and direct Frank Miller's "Ronin" mini-series. Sundance Film Fest award-winner Aronofsky's science fiction thriller "Pi" will be released later this year.

Miller's 1983 "Ronin" series from DC Comics was a bleak science fiction story, juxtaposing two stories, one in a feudal Japanese setting, the other in a futuristic city. The story was one of the most influential of the early 1980s, setting the stage for both Miller's later work on "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" and inspiring the original not-for-kids "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" series and thus the dozens of "Ninja Turtle" clones during the black and white comics boom.

Incidentally, the "Ronin" movie poster currently at movie theaters around America is for a different film, starring Robert DeNiro.

In addition to "Danger Girl" and "Ronin," New Line Cinema will also be producing the sequel to "Spawn," which creator Todd McFarlane says will be R-rated this time around.

JUSTICE LEAGUE CARTOON?

Although it's been talked about almost as long as Mark Waid's sequel to "Kingdom Come" was, it looks like the animated Justice League of America cartoon might actually make it to televisions before the turn of the millennium.

Alan Burnett, producer of the Batman and Superman animated series, told the

Detroit News Comic Continuum (http://www.detnews.com/comicbooks/)

he will be pitching an animated JLA series to the Warner Brothers network in

the next development season.

"It's a matter of all the kingdoms (various factions at WB and DC Comics) coming together on these characters and deciding, 'Yeah, we'll give it a shot,'" said Burnett, who also worked on the old Super Friends series. "I think the time's right for the Justice League. I know that the toy companies would love it. We'll see."

For fans who can't wait to see animated versions of the Justice League, next season the Superman cartoon will feature two more episodes with Batman, an episode with Aquaman and one with Green Lantern. (The Flash appeared last season.)

Aquaman, incidentally, will be voiced by Miguel Ferrer, who appeared in the never-broadcast live action JLA movie. The episode, the season finale next year, will feature Aquaman with the full use of both his hands. The comic book character lost one hand several years ago and now sports a hook.

And the animated Green Lantern will be Kyle Rayner, "with a dash of Hal Jordan," as Burnett said.

Rumors of the entire JLA appearing in the cartoon, as reported in Monday's Comic Wire Wizard World rumor round-up, have proven to be false: The Comic Continuum also spoke to Paul Dini, another Batman/Superman producer, and the Eisner award-winning writer of the "Mad Love" animated Batman special.

"We were going to do Superman/Captain Marvel, and while we were working on the story, we said, 'Well, let's put them on the Justice League satellite, they're just up there and we bring in the other characters. We just do the Justice League for no good reason other than they're there and see if we can make it work on the show,'" Dini said. "We had fun sort of brainstorming that episode, but in the process of writing it, we had to call DC and see what characters we can use; we went to them with a list. And in the time it took for them to get back to us, (Burnett) had been developing the Aquaman story, and it worked better. So we put that one aside and did the Aquaman story."

And for DC fans starved for new JLA figures, Raving Toy Maniac (http://www.toymania.com)

is reporting that the comic store exclusive action figure line will be six inches

tall, and feature the Golden Age

Sandman, Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman and Plastic Man. Expect the six inch tall figures in 1999.

STAN LEE ANSWERS MARVEL MOVIE RUMORS


Stan Lee on the Marvel movies: "Usual Suspects" director on "X-Men?" Check. Patrick Stewart as Professor X? Maybe. Cameron's "Spider-Man?" Not yet … Tom Cruise as Iron Man? Could be …

Lee discussed the much-rumored movie plans of the House of Ideas with the Comic Continuum, confirming many of the long-standing rumors swirling around some of the company's highest profile characters.

The X-Men movie is indeed underway, with director Bryan "Usual Suspects" Singer at the helm. The original draft of the movie, which is slated to begin production by the end of the year, was written by Ed Solomon, who wrote "The Men in Black." A new rewrite of the script, by Chris McQuarrie, has just been submitted to Lee.

Lee also confirmed rumors that Patrick Stewart is being considered for the role of the wheelchair-bound Professor Xavier, founder, mentor and leader of the X-Men.

"He'd be perfect," Lee said. "But there has been no casting yet. You have to have the script finished before doing the casting."

But despite persistent rumors to the contrary, the rights to a prospective "Spider-Man" movie remain mired in legal challenges, despite director James "Titanic" Cameron's widely reported desire to direct the film. Lee said he thinks a resolution is "getting close."

Finally, Tom Cruise is apparently interested in playing Tony Stark, millionaire industrialist turned armored superhero.

"It's all in the discussion stage," Lee said. "Cruise is interested in playing three or four things. … We have to wait until (Marvel's) bankruptcy is totally settled and then there is a lot of negotiating and contracting."

Marvel's "Blade" opens in theaters nationwide August 11.

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