The 'POP'-ular View: Unpredictable

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Popular culture continued to move in unpredictable ways throughout 2009.

I’d never thought I would publicly admit to reading “Supergirl” on a monthly basis, but it is my favorite superhero book right now. It’s got all the stuff I think any movie buff or bookworm would want in a book – characters you care about and good stories.

For those who were disappointed with the last Superman movie (Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns”), superstar comic book writer Geoff Johns is delivering what is essentially an updated Superman movie on paper called “Superman: Secret Origin.” Look for the trade paperback collection in 2010.

The wonderful “Battlestar Galactica” has left the stage but the promising new series “Caprica” is on its way in a couple of weeks. (Trust me, it’s very good.)

This year also saw the rebirth of the “Star Trek” franchise and the end of LeVar Burton’s “Reading Rainbow.”

“Reading Rainbow” made the case for not only the whole “reading is fundamental” axiom, but just the pure fun of it.

For too long we have been moving towards a world in which visual mediums such as video games, movies and television have overtaken our imaginations, leaving little room for the theater in the mind’s eye. Sadly, the canceling of “Reading Rainbow” is a blow that has yet to be felt. It will continue in repeats, so there’s good news in that.

I’m about halfway through King’s massive 1000-page book, “Under the Dome,” and it is all the things you want in a Stephen King novel (people bad, very bad). The latest news is that Steven Spielberg will be teaming up with the author to develop a “Band of Brothers” style miniseries for the book. “Band of Brothers” because if all goes well, “Under the Dome” will be scooped up by HBO or Showtime. I’d hate to see this one watered down on ABC or one of the other networks. “Under the Dome” has more to do with the characters than the fantastic setup that traps a town under what is apparently a force field.

Detroit native Abel Ramirez is not only a great comic book artist, he is also skilled in a number of disciplines. His latest book for children, “Diny Tots,” is the type you want your children to read. Not only is it educational, it’s a blast to look at, with colors popping all over the place. Visit his website at www.abelramirez.com. This is an artist who needs our support.

Vertigo continued to publish some cutting edge material this year, especially with the addition of its Crime line of original graphic novels. My favorite Vertigo title right now is Brian Wood’s “Northlanders,” a gritty Viking story that’s closer to actual historical accounts.

Sci-Fi Channel became SyFy with a lot of head scratching from loyal fans, but a barrage of promos cushioned the blow and though it still doesn’t have the same visual aesthetic as the original, they’ve kept most of the good stuff. (“Ghost Hunters” is simply bad television on whatever planet you’re from and I have yet to understand its appeal).

What more could you ask for?

How about “Star Wars” being cool again? Cartoon Network’s “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is even better and (yes) darker than last season. Though it still has the curse of the prequel on it (you already know the main characters are going to survive), the series is pushing the limits of 3D animation and is a force to be reckoned with. It feels like a new “Star Wars” movie in the comfort of your living room every week.

2009 was also the year in which more ’80s cartoons made it to the big screen as live action movies and live action movies became more cartoonish in its pacing and cutting (appealing to shorter attention spans).

Most of us continued to update our Facebook accounts, follow our favorite people on Twitter, and text the virtual realities of our worlds in real time.

I suspect 2010 will carry with it, its own wonders and visions. A visual, aural, sensory experience in books, TV, movies and the Internet.

E-mail your “Pop-ular View” suggestions to cfortune@michronicle.com. You can also visit his blog, “Pop Culture Saturation,” at www.www.michiganchronicle.com.

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