Judging by the nine-picture deal which Samuel L Jackson has apparently signed to reprise the Iron Man films' eyepatch-wearing superspy Nick Fury, the appetite for US superhero films isn't expected to die down soon, with outings for Kenneth Branagh's Thor, Captain America and The Avengers also in the pipeline.
Longtime readers of British comics might be forgiven for feeling a touch of jealousy, given that our roster of homegrown and original comic book properties is well down on its 1980s heyday (although those based on licensed characters still sell well). Credit must be given to survivors like DC Thomson's Dandy and Commando, and the reliably enduring weekly sci-fi anthology 2000AD, simply for maintaining a platform for UK creators within their own country.
Two recent developments, however, might shift some well-deserved focus back across the pond. A new film featuring 2000AD's star character Judge Dredd will go into production later in the year, produced by Andrew Macdonald's DNA, written by long-time fan Alex Garland and directed by Pete Travis. Dredd fans will hope that the Mancunian Travis, best known for TV drama Omagh and lesser-known film outings Vantage Point and Endgame, follows in the footsteps of fellow Brit Paul Greengrass, whose CV didn't look too dissimilar when he broke the action movie mould with the Bourne films. Those fans will also be aware that an edge of satirical black humour is at least as essential to the cult success Dredd has enjoyed since his creation by Scots-American writer John Wagner and Spanish artist Carlos Ezquerra in 1977, and which was ignored by the furiously disappointing 1995 Sylvester Stallone vehicle.
The other big news is that Scots writer Mark Millar plans to launch a new 100-page monthly comic named CLiNT onto the UK market from this September. Typically irreverent (the name refers to a word banned in UK comics of the 1970s, lest two of the letters unfortunately bled together during printing), Millar will employ celebrity creators Jonathan Ross and Frankie Boyle, and premiere the strip sequel to his Kick Ass film. Described by the writer as "Eagle for the 21st century", he says it will be aimed at "the huge potential of a UK mass market, the like of which hasn't really been reached in a generation."