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MONDAY, JULY 31, 2006


Heath Ledger will star as The Joker in The Dark Knight, the next Batman movie, Warner Bros. announced on Monday night.

The film will be directed by Batman Begins director Christopher Nolan, and Christian Bale will return as Bruce Wayne/Batman. No other cast members could be confirmed.

The Dark Knight is written by written by Jonathan Nolan, the director's brother, based on a story by Christopher Nolan and David Goyer. The film will be produced by Emma Thomas, Charles Roven and Christopher Nolan.

"Chris' unique vision is what made Batman Begins such an outstanding film and we could not imagine anyone else at the helm of The Dark Knight," said Jeff Robinov, president of production, Warner Bros. Pictures. "We also can't wait to see two such formidable actors as Christian and Heath face off with each other as Batman and The Joker."

"I'm excited to continue the story we started with Batman Begins," Nolan said. "Our challenge in casting The Joker was to find an actor who is not just extraordinarily talented but fearless. Watching Heath Ledger's interpretation of this iconic character taking on Christian Bale's Batman is going to be incredible."

Production is set to begin on The Dark Knight in early 2007.

Ledger, 27 and an Australian, was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in Brokeback Mountain. His other credits include Casanova, The Brothers Grimm, Lords of Dogtown, The Order, Ned Kelly, The Four Feathers, Monster's Ball, A Knight's Tale and The Patriot.

The Joker was hinted at during the end of Batman Begins, when Gordon shows Batman a "calling card" that a criminal had left.

Click for the Warner Bros. Online


The film is two years out, but Iron Man director Jon Favreau already seems to be open about the process of bringing Tony Stark to the big screen, be it through his page or interaction with fans at the recent Comic-Con International.

Maybe it's because of his experience with another Marvel-based film, starring as Foggy Nelson in 2003's Daredevil. Or maybe it's because Iron Man is Marvel Studios' first indepedently producer film, and he doesn't have studio heavyweights looking over his shoulder. Whatever the reasons, Favreau's talking Shellhead as he eyes a February production start.

The Continuum caught up with the 39-year-old actor/writer/director before his appearance at the Marvel Studios panel at Comic-Con, where he formally announced The Mandarin as Iron Man's villain.

To read the interview, CLICK HERE.

Click for the Warner Bros. Online


The August 8 release of Ultimate Avengers 2 on DVD will be accompanied by a preview of the next Lionsgate/Marvel animated film, Iron Man.

The two-minute, 42-second preview includes designs and brief "early take 1" animation clips, along with comments from writer Greg Johnson, producer/director Frank Paur and producers Eric S. Rollman and Craig Kyle.

As previously reported, Iron Man will be an origin movie. Marc Worden, who voiced Tony Stark/Iron Man in Ultimate Avengers and Ultimate Avengers 2, returns for Iron Man. To read The Continuum's interview with Worden, CLICK HERE.

Iron Man will be followed by a Dr. Strange film, which is also previewed on Ultimate Avengers 2.

Click on the thumbnails for larger images and look for more on Ultimate Avengers 2 and Iron Man soon here in The Continuum.


After almost 14 years and more than 300 issues, Claypool Comics on Monday announced it will cease print operations and cut back its line to an online version of Deadbeats.

Final issues will be Elvira, Mistress of The Dark #166 and Soulsearchers and Company #82 in February and Deadbeats #82 in March.

Claypoolšs trade-paperback comics collections -- under the Boffin Books imprint -- and back issues will remain available as long as supplies last.

The shift comes after a sales struggle to meet Diamond Comics' guidelines for profitable distribution. Promotional efforts did raise sales, but not enough, and, after recent discussions, Claypool publisher Ed Via and editor Richard Howell decided on the cessation of new books.

"We've been working with Diamond to get our comics out to more stores in more quantity, but ultimately we had to surrender to reality: There's too much competing product out there for the customer base, the retail base, and the distribution chain -- and we're a small, black-and-white line of offbeat, almost uncategorizable comics," Howell said.

"Based on the commitment and intensity of our fans, we're convinced that our books fulfill a need in the marketplace. We're just not reaching enough of those readers -- or reaching them consistently enough -- in their current format. Moving Deadbeats to the Internet will allow us to reach more levels of the potential readership, lower our overhead, and open new routes towards bringing Claypool-style narrative sensibility to those who'd value it."

According to Claypool, story arcs for Soulsearches and Deadbeats will conclude; Elvira will continue its single-issue tales through the final issue. "Countdown to the End" bullets will be featured on the books' covers.

To facilitate the reformatting of Deadbeats series and preparing for new readers, Claypool will be publish an additional "best of" trade paperback collection in February, reprinting the series' most important issues. This volume will also feature new material and serve as an introduction to Deadbeats continuity.

ThinkGeek! You'll love this stuff!


So how will Batgirl react to Robin's arrival in the new season of The Batman on Kids' WB!?

"Oh, she's definitely jealous," said Danielle Judovits, who provides the voice of Batgirl for a second season, after a recent appearance at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

"They're like brother and sister," said Rino Romano, who provides the voice of Batman.

Producer Michael Goguen said that Robin wasn't part of The Batman series earlier because the character was in Teen Titans.

Evan Sabara, the voice of Robin, said he's been acting since he was 7 weeks old. "This is my first major voiceover role," he said," which is really exciting because Robin's been my favorite character since I was about 2.

In other The Batman notes:

* Producer Linda Steiner called the casting of Superman Returns star Brandon Routh as Everywhere Man "a real coup."

* Supervising producer Alan Burnett said that there are some characters that the show can't use -- like Scarecrow -- because of the Batman film franchise. He said he believes Two-Face might be another one of the those characters.

* Producer Jeff Matsuda said that Jose Lopez designed the Martian Manhunter for the series.


In a rare cross-company promotion, Image Comics' The Walking Dead #30 will showcase the five-page teaser that Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips created for their new Marvel Comics/Icon book, Criminal, which debuts in October.

"Sean and I thought long and hard about how to properly preview the book," said Brubaker. "And we decided instead of just showing the first 4 or 5 pages, we'd make something different, more like a movie trailer on paper. We've previously released it as a downloadable PDF, and the response has been amazing, but actually getting it printed in The Walking Dead while the first issue is being solicited, is beyond great, and Robert Kirkman is my new hero for doing this."

"Promoting a creator-owned book in this industry is an uphill battle, so when I see a book as good as Criminal come along, I want to do whatever I can to promote it," Kirkman said. "Image has been kind enough to allow me to do this, we're all in the business of selling comics, more specifically good comics and I think we all feel therešs room for more of those no matter who the publisher is. Plus, now Brubaker and Phillips owe me one.

"I think Criminal is going to be the best work that Sean and Ed have ever done together, and with the work they've both been doing the past few years at Marvel, I think they're hotter than ever so I wanted to get on the Criminal bandwagon early."

Kirkman worked with Phillips on Marvel Zombies.

While The Walking Dead is printed in black and white, the Criminal teaser will be printed in full color. The Walking Dead #30 will be in stores on Aug 23.


Top Cow Productions has provided The Continuum with two early images from Madame Mirage, a new title announced by writer Paul Dini at Comic-Con International.

The book, which should launch early next year, features art by Kenneth Rockfort.

Dini described Madame Mirage as a "superhero/mystery/noirish-type fantasy book." It centers on the lead character and her sister, Harper, who try to take down a crime syndicate.

Click on the thumbnails for larger images.

Movie Release Costumes


* To the right is a look at Mattel's Comic-Con display for the Superman Returns: Man of Steel line, due late this year. Click on the thumbnail for a larger image.

* Komikwerks has announced the seventh title in its Actionoplis book line, Zombie Monkey Monster Jamboree, written by JJ Hart with illustrations by Will Meugniot.

In the book, a camping trip turns terrifying for a group of scouts when they accidentally unleash an ancient evil on the world.

* Silent Devil has announced it will debut four books at Wizard World Chicago: Dracula vs. Capone #1, Death Comes to Dillinger #2, The Last Sin of Mark Grimm #2 and The Devil's Panties #3.


In case you missed The Continuum's recent coverage, here are some links. Click on the date to get the day's full report.

* Wednesday, July 26: Marvel Comics First Looks, DC Comics First Looks, Image Comics First Looks, Blade: The Series, Aquaman pilot, Smallville, Spider-Man 3 and Aspen Comics convention specials.

* Tuesday, July 25: Image Comics for October, IDW Publishing for October, Marvel Comics First Looks, Blade: The Series' Jon Kroll, Fantastic Four animation and Aquaman pilot.

* Monday, July 24: From Comic-Con International -- Ghost Rider movie, Marvel Studios panel, Mondo Marvel panel, DC Universe panel and Blade: The Series.

* Sunday, July 23: From Comic-Con International -- Spider-Man 3, Iron Man movie, Image Comics panel, Todd McFarlane panel and The Batman.

* Saturday, July 22: From Comic-Con International -- Superman Returns sequel, Superman II DVD, Hellboy sequel, Spider-Man 3, Bruce Timm, Vertigo panel, C.B. Cebulski's Image books, IDW panel, WildStorm panel and Marvel Legends.

* Friday, July 21: From Comic-Con International -- Spider-Man 3, Ultimate Avengers 2, Teen Titans/Legion of Super Heroes, Marvel's Civil War, Aspen Comics and Fantastic Four sequel...

* Thursday, July 20: From Comic-Con International -- IDW's Transfromers, DC Nation panel, Legion of Super Heroes' Matt Wayne, Ghost Rider movie toys, Incredible Hulk director, Fantastic Four sequel, Dark Horse announements, Top Cow news and Avatar Press news.

* Wednesday, July 19: Hellboy animated, Frank Miller to direct The Spirit, Dark Horse news, Marvel First Looks, DC First Looks, IDW's Spike: Asylum, Fox Atomic comics and Devil's Due Publishing for October.

* Tuesday, July 18: Marvel Comics for October, Green Arrow on Smallville, Oni's My Name is Earl, Marvel First Looks, Boom Studios' Warhammer 40,000, Ant's new writer and Civil War second printings.

* Monday, July 17: DC Comics for October, 52 origin artists, DC promotes Karen Berger and Archie Comics for October.

* Sunday, July 16:Superman Returns, First Looks and Archaia Studio's new titles.

* Saturday, July 15: Blade: The Series, Legion of Super Heroes animated, Stan Lee's Lightspeed and Superman Returns.

* Friday, July 14: The Amazing Screw-On Head, Ultimate Spider-Man Annual, Superman Returns and Penny-Farthing Press projects.

* Thursday, July 13: Sci Fi's Painkiller Jane, Wolverine: Origins press conference, X-Men titles, First Looks, Batman Beyond and Justice League Unlimited DVDs and Virgin Comics teams with John Woo and Garth Ennis.

* Wednesday, July 12: Marvel First Looks, DC First Looks, Image First Looks, Spider-Girl returns, Aspen's Civil War: X-Men cover and Moonstone Books for November.

* Tuesday, July 11: Smallville's Jimmy Olsen, Marvel First Looks, Sabrina trade paperback and Star Wars Lithographs.

* Monday, July 10: Spider-Man 3, Incredible Hulk DVD, Kid Kosmos, Model Operandi and First Look.

* Sunday, July 9: My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Star Wars: Dark Times, weekend box office and First Looks.

* Saturday, July 8: Blade: The Series episodes, Legion of Super Heroes animated, Fantastic Four on HBO, Who Wants to Be a Superhero contestants and Superman Returns box office.

* Friday, July 7: Dark Horse Comics for October, The Amazing Screw-On Head, The Batman and First Looks.

* Thursday, July 6: Spider-Man Unmasked press conference, Marvel First Looks, DC First Looks and Legion of Super Heroes animated.

* Wednesday, July 5: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Marvel TV/movie roundup, Marvle Zombies hardcover and First Looks.

* Tuesday, July 4: Cliff Chiang on Doctor 13, First Looks and Bandai's Witchblade manga.

* Monday, July 3: Wolverine: Origins' Daniel Way, First Looks and Who Wants to Be a Superhero?

* Sunday, July 2: DC Comics' 52 and Marvel panels at Heroes Con, Superman Returns box office and Narwain's Fiendish Fables.

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