Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

USC grad helps resurrect 1990s comics company Valiant

Valiant Comics

Valiant comic book character X-O Manowar, part of the relaunched Valiant Comics.

L.A. Weekly took a look at the resurrection of Valiant Comics, a comic book company whose heyday was in the early 1990s but whose relevance slowly deteriorated before the comics ceased publication and its parent company entered bankruptcy in 2004.

An inspirational story to be sure, though there were a few details not included in the story that I thought were worth mentioning.

The best known of the original Valiant's characters is arguably Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, a character initially created in the 1950s but who Valiant picked up the rights to in the '90s. He starred in a line of successful video games. Several other Valiant characters became video game stars; video game company Acclaim Entertainment purchased the company in the mid-'90s and put the focus on the characters more as potential video game stars, and when that success didn't continue in either the Valiant line or other franchises, the company shut down in the early 2000s.


TV show 'Smallville' continues in comic book form

DC Comics

Superman in Smalville: Season 11 #1

"Smallville" managed to be the longest running sci-fi/fantasy series on network television, running 10 seasons before going off the air last spring. Well, it's back for more, except in comic book form.

Smallville: Season 11 #1 just launched today, and in an interesting approach, it's going to be a weekly digital comic available for about a dollar a week. I downloaded and read the first issue, and it reads like... well, like an issue of "Superman." The way the characters are drawn are in line with what they look like on the TV show, but other than a little more Green Arrow (who isn't regularly part of standard Superman comics) and Chloe Sullivan (who isn't a regular character in other Superman comics), it's a pretty standard introductory story.

In this first story, the world seems to be adjusting to having a superhero in their lives. Superman is initially spoken of by all the characters before he's actually seen, ultimately saving a Russian space satellite.


'Heroes + Villains' gallery show combines superheroes and gay culture

Philip Bonneau

"The Golden Age Flash"

Philip Bonneau

Homeless Superman

Philip Bonneau

"Batman and Robin"

Philip Bonneau

"The Boy Wonder"

Philip Bonneau

"The Green Lantern"

Philip Bonneau

"Captain Cold"

Philip Bonneau


Philip Bonneau

"Lex Luthor"

Philip Bonneau

Heroes + Villains #2 poster

Geek art has become increasingly prominent, ranging from the denizens of sites like DeviantArt and Etsy to galleries like Los Angeles's own Gallery 1988. A show in that vein combining superheroes with gay culture is opening in Atlanta next week.

The show is called "Heroes + Villains #2," following a similar exhibit last year. The previous version focused on Marvel Comics, but this time photographer Philip Bonneau is going DC. He covers characters from the mainstream icons of Superman and Batman to lesser known characters like Flash villain Captain Cold. One of those pieces looks at Wonder Woman in a different light:

"Not every boy wants to be Batman or Superman; some boys want to be Wonder Woman," Bonneau told the GA Voice.

Bonneau himself is gay, and he brings that to his work with the way he depicts many of the characters, though he also does shots of these heroes in more traditional costume. Bonneau says that superheroes enjoy popularity in the gay community.


WonderCon recap Part 1: YouTube banks on geek, '21 Jump Street' stars hit Anaheim and Marvel Comics hearts digital

Gage Skidmore/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum Jonah Hill speaking at the 2012 WonderCon in Anaheim, California.

The second biggest pop culture event of the year (next to San Diego Comic-Con), with tens of thousands of fans in attendance, is in the books, so let's take our first look back at some of the new and notable to come out of the convention:

"21 Jump Street" stars hit on married woman

In one of the convention's shortest panels, "21 Jump Street" stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum showed footage from the film on its opening day, as well as appearing live and answering fan questions. Oh, and they appeared in their movie police outfits.

The fan-friendly marketing looks to have worked, helping the movie hit a number one opening weekend with $36 million.

In one of the panel's funniest moments, a woman asking a question referenced her husband, leading Tatum to say that her husband deserved "major points" and Hill declaring her the hottest wife at WonderCon.


Why WonderCon is the best pop culture convention and you should all be there

2011 WonderCon - Day 2

Max Morse/Getty Images

Fans at WonderCon 2011 at Moscone Convention Center on April 2, 2011 in San Francisco.


Max Morse/Getty Images

Fans in Stormtrooper costumes eat at WonderCon 2011 at Moscone Convention Center on April 3, 2011 in San Francisco.

2011 WonderCon - Day 3

Max Morse/Getty Images

Fans dressed as Power Girl and, um, a male version of Poewr Girl at WonderCon 2011 at Moscone Convention Center on April 3, 2011 in San Francisco.

Warner Home Video

Superman in animated film "Superman vs. The Elite"

"The Amazing Spider-Man" Panel - Comic-Con 2011

John Shearer/Getty Images

Actress Emma Stone speaks at "The Amazing Spider-Man" Panel during Comic-Con 2011 at the San Diego Convention Center on July 22, 2011.

2011 WonderCon - Day 2

Max Morse/Getty Images

A group dressed as Star Wars characters pose during WonderCon 2011 at Moscone Convention Center on April 2, 2011 in San Francisco.

Everyone talks about San Diego Comic-Con International, the ultimate spectacle in pop culture extravagance where devotees of all kinds can let their fan flags fly. Well this weekend is WonderCon, making its Anaheim debut due to construction at its San Francisco home, and you should get in on this while you still can.

It's run by the same organizers who put together Comic-Con, and while there is slightly less to do, there's still plenty to pack the weekend (as you can see on the official schedule) and it's still star-studded. It has the rep as being what Comic-Con used to be before it became impossible to get tickets, overcrowded and overrun by Hollywood, though you'll still find at least a bit of Hollywood encroachment.

I'll be there all weekend, tweeting the experience at @MikeRoe and @WithoutABlog. Until then, come with me as we tour some of the highlights of the convention: