Lying In The Gutters

Mon, April 28th, 2008 at 12:27pm PDT | Updated: April 28th, 2008 at 4:36pm

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

LYING IN THE GUTTERS VOLUME 2 COLUMN 154

Welcome to the most popular and longest running comics column on the internet. In its various forms, Lying In The Gutters has covered rumours and gossip in the comics industry for fourteen long glorious and quite scary years.

All stories are sourced from well-connected individuals. But I urge you to use your judgment and remember, context is everything.

The traffic light system is on hold for now. They usually represent how reliable each story is, but with the column on a little skeleton staffing of late, I'd just take everything with a big handful of salt and hope for the best. Normal service will be resumed soon.

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ITEM! So, I was at the "Iron Man" premiere in London on Monday.

A few other people turned up. Presenting... the Iron Men of Old London Town!

Peter Davison - these days bigger on the outside.

Mark Millar - checking out the competition, obviously

Cutting edge comedy legend-turned-daytime TV presenter, Rowland Rivron.

Al Murray, pub landlord - "This is stupid". He was right!

Matt Berry, comedy iconclast. "Love isn't love if it's iron..."

Leigh Francis, who took some time to wonder about the merits of a steam iron-based defence mechanism.

Frank Skinner, launching into an impromptu gig.

Peter Serafinowicz and brother James performing a Zaphod Beeblebrox tribute.

Jon Culshaw impersonating Peter Serafinowicz

Tom Hollander. Not a pirate!

"Gwyneth? A quick word?"

Photographs courtesy of that fine actress Marysia Kay

I have to say, I wasn't expecting too much from the film. And so it naturally blew away my expectations. Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark totally owns this role, puts a large slice of ham on a plate, eats it up and spits out an incredibly engaging performance. A soulless self satisfied epitome of selfishness given a rude awakening, yet still retaining much of the man he was. The downside is that Downey just pushes everyone else off the screen. It's hard to admire any performance as much as his, everyone becomes a cypher in his shadow.

We have unspecified arabic gentlemen as bad guys again, and a sledgehammer is taken to intricate politics of the area. There are goodies and baddies and you pretty much know who is who early on. Corporate America is bad and clever, but that's okay, Military America is good and stupid. And Tony Stark is stuck trying to find a third way. It may be why he's the only character who rings true, despite his outlandish buffonery. He's complex, shaded, detailed and changing while everyone else is morally defined and fixed.

Enough of that, what about the Iron Man, the jet fighters, the different suits, the explosions, the weapons the... well, some very dodgy science aside, it looks and sounds great. Lots of very convincing and viceral hitting things, blowing them up and feeling good about it, It's very much the anti-“Superman Returns." The vision of a world already high-tech - with hologram interactive displays, live windows and touch sensitive security systems makes an Iron Man improbable, but not impossible, which eases a skeptical audience in. And treating the Iron Man suit as more of a sportscar than a superhero outfit is a wonderful judgement call that fits perfectly with Downey's Tony Stark.

This is “Top Gear" for robotic attack suits. It's silly, it's fun, it's riotous. Watch it without smiling, I dare you.

What is also impressive is how the movie sidesteps huge bear traps that “Spider-Man," “Hulk" and “Fantastic Four" fell straight into. The slapstick doesn't bring you out of the movie, The simplistic politics doesn't make you want to throw things at the screen. The comedy is Whedonishly stylized, but never feels out of place. The ending has the opportunity to go for a “Power of Love" resolution - but doesn't.

And Stan Lee plays Hugh Hefner.

One thing missing from the film was the much-touted end of movie scene with Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury. I understand from British Film classification sources that the scene is in the print that they've approved for general release, but not in premiere or preview screenings, so as not to spoil the um.. surprise... bugger. Anyway, he's recruiting for a group called The Avengers.

I had a very quick word with Joe Cornish on the way out. Wished him well with writing the "Ant Man" movie with "Hot Fuzz" director Edgar Wright Jr. Looks like he's got a lot to live... down to. Still one of my favourite things of Adam and Joe.

ITEM! New one for the Daily Show.

ITEM! One of Ireland's bigger radio stations has been going apeshit over a Batman comic, the Titan newsstand reprint series "Batman Legends," reprinting content from a recent issue of "All Star Batman And Robin The Boy Wonder."

"We have date rape, misogyny and snuff porn - and this is marketed towards children"

The story breaks here.

I'm not finding a lot I can disagree with. "Batman Legends" is indeed marketed to kids, sits alongside other Marvel and DC comics from Titan and Panini, such as Spider-Man, The Avengers, JLA and Superman and has Nintendo ads on the back - certainly an audience younger than 2000AD is aimed at. The other Batman material in the book is much more along those lines.

Though I do like the presenter's incredulity that adults could actually be reading comics and that Frank Miller comics were a different matter - when this was a Frank Miller comic.

ITEM! The "Outbreaks Of Violets" ultra-rare Alan Moore item didn't sell on eBay last week (I blame lack of initial publicity and a weak dollar) but it's up again.

The seller emailed me a bunch of scans last week, for archival's sake. These were nicely arranged here and here but some of the card backs were missing. The seller is happy to rectify that...

My own eBay selling is sadly slightly less impressive. But at least I have free shipping.

ITEM! Brazilian artist Frank Martin Jr. has sent an email to Lynx Studios director Romulo Soares, complaining about not being paid for Dabel brothers work from five years ago. The colourist for "Imperial Dragons," he states that the Dabels say they paid Romulo as his agent, but that Romulo says he never received payment. During the email, he calls Romulo a "tumor," talks about Brazilian lawsuits against him,.

The return email from Romulo states that he is owed money from the Dabels and cannot pass on anything he hasn't received. Romulo says, "this is not an attitude for a MAN, you is making like an WOMAN" and "Since you began, have people talking bad things about you, and believe me, you NEVER will be great colorist making this kind of thing".

It may be childish to simply reprint this kind of thing - but in that case, guilty as charged.

ITEM! Did you spot the rats at NYCC? Try around 9.50pm.

ITEM! One missing piece of reportage from NYCC was Geoff Johns stating that once James Robinson takes over “Superman," the line will sync up, a la Green Lantern, building to a Sinestro Corps-type crossover.

ITEM! Marvel Apes! DC Apes!

ITEM! David Pirkola, a comics retailer, was shot in his store this weekend. Without insurance, a fund raising campaign is under way to pay his medical bills. Details here. At least one front-of-Previews has agreed to help - expect to see original art and signed book auctions in the near future.

ITEM! Josh Adams will be drawing Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltro on an episode of MTV's "TRL". Get an iron in there, Josh!

ITEM! No one snarks like Mark Waid. And I should know. From a recent Comics Bulletin interview, "Spider-Man is FUNNY. He's genuinely funny. His dialogue is a joy to write, and if you don't have your readers chuckling or even laughing out loud a few times per issue, you should go write Thor or something."

ITEM! SWIPE-OKAY-AN-HOMAGE-THEN FILE, Hulkules.

SMALL PRINT

Discuss this column at the Lying In The Gutters Forum and add your request to what you want from future columns.

My social networking is pretty much all Facebook these days, but I'm around at Bebo, MySpace, ComicSpace and Twitter, too.

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And my Wii number is 0512 2690 8446 2879. Anyone for a game of Mario Kart?

Contact me on richjohnston@gmail.com or on AOL Instant Messenger as TwistRich.

You can also write to me at 8 Robin Hood Lane, Kingston Vale, London SW15 3PU ENGLAND

Or call me/text me on 0780 1350982 from the UK or 01144780 1350982 from the US.

TAGS:  iron man movie, mark millar, alan moore, outbreak of violets, superman

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