The next six to twelve months look promising, and not only because I am starting school in the fall, or because the Bush presidency ends in January. (Unless McCain wins — then we’re stuck in a same-shit-different-President situation. But I’m trying to stay positive.) There’s a bunch of stuff coming out in the next year that I’m pretty sure was created specifically to entertain me, Chris Walsh. I would just like to take this moment to thank the entertainment industries for thinking of me. To be honest I would have preferred it if you offered me a job, but making these movies and books and whatnot just for me is pretty cool, too.

First of all, there’s The Dark Knight, which opens in less than two months. You are all looking forward to this too. Don’t lie. Batman Begins was everything I dreamed a movie based on a comic book character could be. The one thing it lacked was the greatest comic book villain ever created: The Joker. Sure sure, Jack Nicholson blah blah seen it before blah. I’m not gonna lie and say I disliked Mr. Nicholson as the Joker in Tim Burton’s film. He was larger than life. He made the movie. In fact, that movie was more about the Joker’s arc than Batman’s, which I think is where the movie failed. From what I’ve read about The Dark Knight I feel confident that the filmmakers avoided that particular pitfall this time around. And just based on the trailers I think they succeeded in one important aspect where the Burton film failed: This time around, the Joker is scary. I cannot wait.

Then, a year from now, we’re gonna get something I’ve been wanting since I was eight years old: A live-action film adaptation of G.I. Joe. Granted, I do not feel the abundance of confidence in this project that I do with The Dark Knight, but so far I don’t think the filmmakers have given us any reason to complain. The film is directed by Stephen Sommers, with whose work I am not very familiar. I know he made the Brendan Fraser Mummy series, and Van Helsing with Hugh Jackman. I have not felt the need to see any of those, but from the clips I’ve seen in commercials and trailers Mr. Sommers does appear to have something of an eye for action set-pieces, which is certainly going to be necessary here. I’m hoping, however, that there are not too many huge battle sequences, as that is not really what G.I. Joe was about. I was always more interested in, say, the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow feud, or Snake Eyes’ relationship with Scarlett, or the weird power struggle between Destro, the Baroness, and the Cobra Commander. Looking at the cast list on IMDb, I think they are going to focus more on these smaller stories. There’s a kid cast as Young Storm Shadow? The Hard Master makes an appearance? Awesome. That was the best storyline in the comic book.

In general I’m pretty psyched about the cast, too. Ray Park of Darth Maul fame is playing Snake Eyes, which is just dream casting right there. Back in 2005 Ain’t It Cool News came up with a fantasy cast of a G.I. Joe movie that included Mr. Park. They had some other great suggestions which were ignored, but this one was dead on. I’m equally jazzed to see Christopher Eccleston as Destro, Sienna Miller as the Baroness and Lost‘s Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Heavy Duty. Some other casting (like Marlon Wayans as Ripcord) I understand less, but I’m willing to give these guys the benefit of the doubt. And there are two characters that I am dying to see: Brendan Fraser as Gung Ho (whose action figure in the 1980s looked like a member of the Village People) and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt as Cobra Commander. That last one just leaves me scratching my head. I hope it works.

Those are the big ones that I’ve been dorking out over whenever I have an internet connection and nothing better to do. But do not for a moment think that those two movies are all I have to look forward to. First of all, The Voice of the Falconer, the sequel to David Blixt‘s amazing debut novel The Master of Verona, just became available for pre-order on I’ve already got my order in. I am itching to find out what happens next with Pietro, Antonia, Cangrande and the rest of the gang.

And there is the upcoming Fourth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons to look forward to as well. I haven’t participated in a role-playing game in a few years now, and I never played D&D with the 3rd Edition rules, but apparently this new edition is set to revolutionize the way table-top RPGs are played. I’m eager to get my hands on the new books when they come out in a couple of weeks.

Also, a little over a week ago the latest issue of Casanova hit the shelves. I’ve never been a huge comic book nut, but I’m curious to pick up this title because of who wrote it. When I was about eight or nine years old I lived down the street from this kid named Matt. We were pretty much best friends. We slept over at each others’ houses and stayed up into the wee hours playing either Star Wars or G.I. Joe or building stuff with Legos. Matt had the better Star Wars toy collection; I had all the G.I. Joes. One time we got it into our heads to try and make our own comic books. I remember mine was called “Omega Squad” and it was pretty much entirely a rip-off of G.I. Joe, only all the main characters wore motorcycle helmets for some reason. I recall showing it to my dad, who said he thought it was very violent. I don’t remember what Matt’s was about. Anyway, eventually Matt’s family moved away and we lost touch.

Cut to a quarter of a century later. There I am, bored at work one day, and just for funzies I’m plugging names of old acquaintances into Google. It occurs to me to wonder whatever became of my old friend Matt, who I used to think was one of the coolest people in the world. My Google search lead me to the home page of star-on-the-rise comic book writer Matt Fraction. Turns out, my old friend Matt still is one of the coolest people in the world. I am, of course, insanely jealous. But I also can’t help but feel slightly responsible for Mr. Fraction’s career path. For that reason if nothing else you all should check out his work.

Now I’m off to stab pirates. More on that later.