San Diego Comic-Con awesome news roundup

San Diego Comic-Con is like a big fire hose. For a few days every year it spews pop-culture nuggets at a public eager for news about their favorite comics/TV/movie/whatever franchises. I’ve never been and, if given the opportunity, I’m not sure I really would want to go to SDCC—it’s too big, too unfocused and I’m afraid I’d be crushed under the collective Brobdingnagian mass of attendees. None of that stops me from slavishly following the news out of San Diego, though; thanks to blogs, Facebook and an overly crowded Twitter feed, I’ve managed to cull my some of my favorite headlines from this year’s Con, which wrapped up last night:


Guardians of the Galaxy concept art
MARVEL MOVIE LINEUP: Marvel announced the names and release dates for their post-Avengers movies: In addition to the already-announced “Iron Man 3” (5/3/13), we’ll be treated to “Thor: The Dark World” (11/8/13), “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (4/4/14), “Guardians of the Galaxy” (8/1/14). The “Ant Man” movie was finally confirmed, as well, but with no release date. “Guardians of the Galaxy” has equal potential to be both awesome and awful, but the concept art they showed leans toward the former—even Rocket Raccoon.


DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT’S “MASKS: The Shadow, The Spider, The Green Hornet, Kato, Black Bat and Miss Fury, all classic characters from the pulp era, will cross over starting this November in Dynamite Entertainment’s “Masks.” Fascism is on the rise in 1938 New York and these gritty, proto-superheroes must put a stop to it. Dynamite is publishing books for many of these heroes already, so it’s a good way to get your feet wet with an unfamiliar character. “Masks” is written by Chris Roberson and the first issue will have both cover and interior art by Alex Ross.


Hulk promo imageMARVEL ANIMATION ANNOUNCEMENTS: “Ultimate Spiderman” has been renewed for a second season while “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” has been denied a third. In its place will be “Avengers Assemble,” which, according to Marvel’s head of animation Jeph Loeb, will align more closely to the movie continuity. Loeb said at the panel that “EMH” was always planned to be a 52-episode series, so he’s not responsible for its cancellation, though the Internet abounds with stories to the contrary. Whatever “Avengers Assemble” ends up being, I’m confident it won’t be as awful as 1999’s 13-episode abomination “Avengers: United They Stand.” Also confirmed from Marvel animation is “Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.,” the premise of which seems to involve Hulk, Red Hulk, She-Hulk, Skaar and A-Bomb all on some kind of team; it sounds ridiculous, but might be kind of fun if for no other reason than Paul Dini is involved.


Cover of "Sword and Sorcery" #1DC’s FOUR NEW “NEW 52” TITLES: This news had actually been out in the world for a while, but DC gave some more information about them at a panel. They’re introducing yet another Batman-related title, “Talon,” which spins out of the “Court of Owls” storyline; apparently it’s supposed to delve more into the history of Gotham City but I’m pretty well Batmanned out no matter the hook. DC is trying again with “Phantom Stranger,” whose last ongoing series ended in 1976; it’s supernatural themed and the promo art is gorgeous. “Sword and Sorcery” reintroduces Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld in a book that’s probably targeted toward women, but has been titled to attract both genders; fun fact: Christy Marx, the writer for “Sword and Sorcery,” created “Jem and the Holograms.” “Sword and Sorcery” will also feature a “Beowulf” backup feature in every book, so that should satisfy everyone’s craving for  Anglo-Saxon epic poetry. “Team Seven” is set five years in the past from DC’s current continuity and will detail how certain characters, Deathstroke, Grifter, Amanda Waller, etc., got to the present day. Of the four I’ll probably end up buying at least a couple of issues of “Sword and Sorcery,” and not just because it’s truly outrageous.


WALKING DEAD SEASON 3 TRAILER: The prison! The Governor! Michonne! Whet your appetite for the October 14 premiere.


‘STREET FIGHTER’ LIVE-ACTION SERIES: Yes, really. Some guys made a fan trailer and now they’re going to make a “Street Fighter” series. Honestly, the fan film looks an order of magnitude better than the Raul Julia film.


NEW “SANDMAN: Forget “Before Watchmen,” Neil Gaiman is doing Before Sandman. Gaiman said he wanted to tell a “Sandman” prequel for the series’ 20th anniversary, but got caught up in other things, so he’s making it right five years later. The story will explain how Dream managed to get himself into the captivity from which he escaped in “Sandman” #1.


“STAR WARS” INTERQUEL COMIC: In January 2013 Dark Horse will debut the simply titled “Star Wars,” which takes place between “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back.” I’ve loved practically every Dark Horse “Star Wars” comic I’ve ever read and I expect this to be no different.


ONI PRESS’ DIESEL SWEETIES COLLECTION: “Diesel Sweeties” used to be my favorite webcomic and now it’s getting a print collection. If you’ve never checked it out you’re doing yourself a disservice.


TWO NEW “TRANSFORMERS” COMICS: A Dinobots book and a “Fall of Cybertron” tie in. I dropped the current ongoings a months ago because no matter how well-written and interesting they were, I can’t justify spending $8 a month on “Transformers” comics. I’ll at least check out the first issue of the Dinobots title.

OUYA: The cheapest next-gen console I've ever heard of

I abandoned console gaming roughly 4 years ago—games are too expensive and I don’t have much time to play anymore. This, of course, comes as a great disappointment to my 2006 self who, at 5:30 one morning, got in line at the Corridor G Toys ‘R’ Us to get a Nintendo Wii on release day. Though “Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” gave me many hours of sword-swinging excitement back in the day, that console is near the end of its long march toward obsolescence as it sits on my dresser having first been relegated to a Netflix machine, then a paperweight.

Even when I can find time for a retro role-playing game like “Breath of Fire,” “Fallout” or “Baldur’s Gate” I just don’t have the attention span for it any more. It’s probably safe to say I’ve become someone I scorned in my youth: The casual gamer. The advent of the iPhone and iPad have led me to a habit of quick gaming sessions with cheap, quality games. Maybe they’re not as polished as your Final Fantasies or your Phantasy Stars, but you can buy them instantly without paying more than a few dollars at most. Plus, a lot of them are actually good fun.

To my mind, the only drawbacks are the smaller screen and the lack of tactile controls. Sometimes I get a little nostalgic for 1991 when my friend, Josh, and I would beat to death NES controllers while we grew increasingly frustrated with “Dragon Warrior” or the first “Final Fantasy.” But those days are gone forever — controllers nowadays can’t take a whole lot of punishment and, as far as iPhone and iPad games are concerned, there is no controller.

Then I saw this “Wired” article the other day: The $99, Android-Powered TV Game Console.

This company is building a gaming console called “OUYA” that’s designed to bring these kind of direct-to-market games back into the living room with big TV screens and physical controls and everything. The lead designer on the project is the guy behind the One Laptop Per Child program, so they have experience building intuitively designed, inexpensive hardware. From the video and screenshots I’ve seen so far, the machine’s Android OS looks to have a user interface that’s maybe two steps simpler than that of the Wii.

I was going to write about this yesterday, but I’m glad I was lazy waited. The OUYA people began a Kickstarter fundraising campaign other other day and, in something like eight hours, they raised more than $1 million. About a day later they were pushing $3.5 million with 28 days to go. I’m pretty sure that’s another Kickstarter record.

It’s far, far too early to tell whether or not OUYA is going to be any good, but so far about 27,000 random people on the Internet have given it a financial vote of confidence. If you’re a lapsed gamer who isn’t planning on shelling out for the next next-gen systems on the way, then this is a project you should be watching in the months ahead. I mean, I paid more than $99 for a used GameCube.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I haven’t given any money to the OUYA Kickstarter campaign, but I really, really want to.