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July 26, 2007 |

By Daniel Carlson | Industry | July 26, 2007 |

I hope you kids are ready for some hardcore nerd time, because today’s trade round-up is 100% geektastic and guaranteed to make you just a little paler and geekier.

I don’t keep up with superhero comics, but I do partake of my fair share of the alternative titles filling today’s marketplace. This is a good time to be a comic-book fan who doesn’t really feel any desire to hack through the dense foliage of backstory that’s overgrown the established heroes of comic history; for instance, I was aware that Captain America got shot, but I didn’t really care, since I’d only glancingly paid attention to the first couple issues of Marvel’s “Civil War” series. I was even in a comics store in the day the Cap Gets Blown Away issue hit stands, but wasn’t even aware, since I was shopping for something else.

One of those books I read and love is Y: The Last Man, written by Brian K. Vaughan and with art led by Pia Guerra, so I’m both excited and nervous that a feature film is being made from the series, which revolves around Yorick Brown, a guy in his early 20s who, along with his male pet monkey, Ampersand, is the sole survivor of a global plague that wipes out every other man instantaneously. Yorick, with the assistance of a government black-ops specialist, Agent 355, and a cloning research scientist, Dr. Mann (ha), sets out on a cross-country journey to discover how and why he survived the plague and to make his way across the ocean to his girlfriend in Australia. Vaughan’s story is an epic one, interweaving characters and story lines in ways that have made me more emotionally vulnerable than I like to admit (Yorick’s stop in Kansas early in the series kills me every damn time), and it’s easy to see how it could be adapted to the screen. But I think the story’s length makes it more suited to a pay-cable miniseries, or maybe a show that would be guaranteed to end after two years, like “Rome.” The comic is closing in on its finale, and will comprise 60 issues by the time it wraps, so it’s a given that a two- or even three-hour film would have a tough time doing anything but hitting the highlights. Still, at least the creative team handling the film has a decent pedigree: The script is being adapted by Carl Ellsworth, who wrote the low-level but dependable Disturbia as well as Red Eye and a truly classic episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and Disturbia helmer D.J. Caruso will direct. True, Caruso was responsible for the deeply flawed Taking Lives, which seemed flimsily retro-built from the scene where Angelina Jolie got topless, but he also directed a few episodes of “The Shield,” so he can likely handle the inevitable violence (trust me) that a film of Y: The Last Man would necessarily include. The project is just now getting off the ground, so no stars are attached yet, but since I love the books so much — and I do, I really do — I have to be optimistic about the film. For now.

Turning now to a classic comic that helped make it safe for Vaughan and other authors to deconstruct all variety of genres: The cast was announced this week for Watchmen, Alan Moore’s staggeringly awesome 12-issue comic from 1986 about a world where someone decides to start knocking off superheroes, who have mostly retired. Here we go:

  • Jackie Earle Haley will play Rorschach, who’s investigating the superhero murders.
  • Billy Crudup will play Dr. Manhattan, who is blue and pensive and has many powers that it would take too long to explain.
  • Patrick Wilson will play the Nite Owl, a lonely crimefighter who’s like an out-of-work Adam West, only younger and way, way sadder.
  • Malin Akerman will play Laurie Juspeczyk, aka the Silk Spectre.
  • Matthew Goode will play Adrian Veidt, aka Ozymandias, presumably because Jude Law wanted too much money.
  • Jeffrey Dean Morgan, previously best known as Denny “I Bought it to the Strains of Snow Patrol” Duquette on “Grey’s Anatomy,” will play the Comedian, an unbalanced hero-turned-merc.

That’s a pretty decent cast, especially Crudup and Wilson, though I’m nervous that director Zack Snyder (300) will take a deft, psychologically complex story and turn it into something dull, bleating, and lacking any hint of finesse. Still, I know I’ll probably wind up seeing the film, if only to see if Snyder’s man enough to include the pirate comic sub-story.

Finally, this morning’s trailer watch brings the preview for Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited. Some people think that Anderson built from good to better to best with the Bottle Rocket-Rushmore-The Royal Tenenbaums arc and then suffered only a minor misstep with The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. For reasons I’ve already stated, those people are wrong, but I still think Anderson’s got enough skill and integrity in him to make a good movie. The plotline for his new one follows the same template as his others — boys trying to be men, reconciling their awkward families and relationships to the tune of lesser-known ’60s pop-rock — but damn it all if I’m not a sucker for Jason Schwartzman. I know I’ll be there opening day, saying a prayer for Surf Boy:

On a last geek-related note today, I’ll be spending the weekend in San Diego at Comic-Con; any Pajibans who’ll be there for the shindig and are interested in meeting up should shoot me an email. I’ll be the bearded guy with glasses trying to avoid getting crushed in the crowd by all the other bearded guys with glasses.

Daniel Carlson is the managing editor of Pajiba and a low-level employee at a Hollywood industry magazine. He reads a lot of comic books, but has also known the intimate touch of a woman. So, don’t give up hope, kids. You can visit his blog, Slowly Going Bald.

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