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  • 06/24/13--20:04: Richard Matheson Dies at 87
  • NewsTony Sokol6/24/2013 at 7:04PM

    Richard Matheson, the influential writer of horror and science fiction books, films and TV shows, dies at 87.

    Author and screenwriter Richard Matheson died Sunday today at 87. According to published reports, Ali Matheson, his daughter posted on Facebook:

    "My beloved father passed away yesterday at home surrounded by the people and things he loved...he was funny, brilliant, loving, generous, kind, creative, and the most wonderful father ever...I miss you and love you forever Pop and I know you are now happy and healthy in a beautiful place full of love and joy you always knew was there..."

    Richard Matheson was one of the most influential writers of science fiction. There would be no zombie apocalypse without his book “I Am Legend,” which was made into film three times, so far: The Last Man on Earth, starring Vincent Price, The Omega Man, which starred Charlton Heston and I Am Legend which starred Will Smith. Matheson also wrote classic Twilight Zone episodes including "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" His books, like “The Shrinking Man,” “Hell House,” “What Dreams May Come,” “Bid Time Return,” and “A Stir of Echoes” have all been adapted for the screen. Some have been adapted over and over again. Matheson’s 1971 short story “Duel” became Stephen Spielberg’s second motion picture.

    Richard Burton Matheson was born February 20, 1926 in Allendale, N.J. and raised in Brooklyn.  The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction published his first short story "Born of Man and Woman." He wove satire and wit into tales of horror, science fiction and paranoia in such stories as“Hell House” from 1953, "The Curious Child,""The Doll that Does Everything, and "The Test" from 1954, , “The Funeral" from 1955,  and “Steel" from 1956. Matheson wrote 14 episodes for the American TV series The Twilight Zone before adapting Edgar Allan Poe’s stories into screenplays for  the Roger Corman such as House of Usher (1960), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) and The Raven (1963)  

    Matheson adapted Dennis Wheatley's The Devil Rides Out for Hammer Films in 1968. Matheson wrote the classic Star Trek episode "The Enemy Within." Matheson also wrote Trilogy of Terror for TV in 1975 and his teleplay for The Night Stalker ultimately became the basis for the series Kolchak: The Night Stalker.


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    Disqus - noscript

    Obviously, I am a big fan of "The Omega Man." R.I.P., Richard.

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    NewsDavid Crow6/25/2013 at 1:01AM

    The plot details for Stephen King's sequel to the Shining emerge from the snow.

    With Under the Dome having just premiered tonight, one would think the genius mind of Stephen King would be satisfied with taking a break….Not a chance.
    Indeed, King is set to release his long-awaited sequel to the 1977 horror masterpiece, The Shining. Titled, Doctor Sleep, the new book follows Mr. Redrum himself, Danny Torrance, all grown up and going by Dan. Still haunted by his experiences at the Overlook Hotel which claimed his dad’s life, Daniel now works in a New Hampshire nursing home where he hones the last bits of his “shining” gift to help the dying peacefully past. However, when a tribe (or cult) comes calling for a local girl’s shining gifts—which they mean to claim through torture and murder—Daniel will have to face everything he remembers to save the girl’s life. The official synopsis is below:
    The now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.
    On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.
    Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”
    Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival.
    Sounds creepy. However, the original is so iconic, a 35+ year later sequel worries me that it can only disappoint. It should also be noted for fans of the Stanley Kubrick 1980 classic starring Jack Nicholson, this will be a sequel to a very different kind of plot; one whose differences is a great drama for literature fans all its own.
    Below is the trailer released last week for the forthcoming book.
    Doctor Sleep awakens September 24.
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    NewsMike Cecchini6/25/2013 at 7:08AM

    There will be at least three Marvel Studios movies released in 2016 and 2017, and they've got released dates locked up...the only thing they're missing are titles. Check out our complete listing of upcoming Marvel movies right here!

    While Disney is busily planning their release schedule for the next few years, two release dates for as-yet-unrevealed Marvel Studios projects have surfaced. Disney has locked up May 6, 2016 and May 7, 2017 for two potential superhero films, but there's no word yet on what they may be. With Guardians of the Galaxy arriving on August 1, 2014, any sequel talk is premature, and with Avengers 2 scheduled for release on May 1, 2015, we can safely rule out the third entry in that series. 

    So what does this mean? Well, we already know that Kevin Feige has plans for Doctor Strange, although he seems a strange choice for an early Summer release. There's always the tantalizing prospect of a Black Panther film, as well. It's quite possible Marvel doesn't even know what they're putting there yet, and that this is just a way of marking their territory. And, given their current pace, it's unlikely that these will be the only superhero films they release that year.

    The current slate of upcoming Marvel Studios releases is as follows:

    Thor: The Dark World - November 8, 2013

    Captain America: The Winter Soldier - April 4, 2014

    Guardians of the Galaxy - August 1st, 2014

    Avengers 2 - May 1, 2015

    Ant-Man - November 6, 2015

    Mystery Superhero Film 1 - May 6, 2016

    Mystery Superhero Film 2 - July 8, 2016

    Mystery Superhero Film 3 - May 7, 2017

    We'll let you know as we hear more!

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    InterviewMarc Buxton6/25/2013 at 3:14PM

    Ales Kot, the writer of Change, Zero, and Wild Children for Image Comics, and Suicide Squad for DC Comics, chats with us about just what goes into making such a diverse, intense group of comics!

    Ales Kot is one of the most original and innovative voices to hit the comics scene in quite a while. His recent work on Suicide Squad for DC has breathed fresh life into the title and his book, Wild Children from Image, garnered critical acclaim despite tackling some controversial topics. Now, Ales Kot sits down and discusses two other Image projects, Change (with artist Morgan Jeske and colorist Sloane Leong) and the upcoming series Zero with art by art Michael Walsh and Jordie Bellaire. So take it away Ales!

    Here's the solicitation copy for Change (the trade paperback hits shops on June 26): "Dear Los Angeles: meet apocalypse. You have one day left. Unless, of course, someone decides to save you. Possible saviors include: a foul-mouthed struggling screenwriter who moonlights as a car thief, an obscenely wealthy rapper, a dying cosmonaut on his way back to Earth and one very deranged little boy. Good luck."















    Den of Geek: How did you initially hook up with Image?

    Ales Kot: I met Eric Stephenson, the publisher of Image Comics, in March 2011 in Seattle after a mutual acquaintance – another writer, Joe Keatinge – enthusiastically commented on some of my pitches and found out I was looking for a publisher. Eric and I had a conversation, I showed him the work, and he greenlit two of my comics based on that.

    DoG: Can you describe the collaborative process within Image, are you on your own to do your thing or are they part of the creative process?

    AK: I am on my own unless I choose to discuss something.

    DoG: Starting with Change, can you tell us about the genesis on the book?

    AK: I was at a point where I was dissatisfied with my personal life and I wanted to consciously create a story that would interact not only with itself, but also with the reality of the outside world. What started as “Last Boy Scout meets the Fifth Element meets H.P. Lovecraft” turned into something different rather quickly.

    DoG: How did you hook up with Morgan Jeske?

    AK: Morgan and I liked each others’ work and eventually decided to collaborate; this stemmed organically from our friendship, which deepened by the act of working together.

    DoG: Upon first opening Change, the colors absolutely hook you. Can you describe your collaboration with Sloane Leong?

    AK: I am glad to hear that. The collaboration with Sloane was very open and simple; I described what I was imagining, Morgan described what he was imagining, Sloane described what she was imagining. We found a road where our approaches merged and let Sloane travel it on her own, later giving notes on colors when needed, which was almost never.

    DoG: Can you give us the elevator pitch for Change?

    AK: Los Angeles is going to die in two days and the only people who can save it are a screenwriter turned car thief, a rapper turned producer, an astronaut on his way back from one of Jupiter's moons, and a little boy hidden inside a bigger boy. Change is a speculative fiction horror thriller imbued with a healthy dose of absurdism and surrealism. It's a rather simple story that becomes more complex as it moves closer to the annihilation of Los Angeles. It's the best story I have written so far.

    DoG: The cast is incredibly diverse; can you describe the character of W-2 and why you decided to make a rapper one of your protagonists?

    AK: W-2 is a very successful, intelligent rapper attempting to become a big-time movie producer. He's also dealing with his own psycho-spiritual crisis. I decided to make him one of the protagonists because he showed himself to me and including him felt right.

    DoG: How does the theme of change fit into your narrative?

    AK: Apocalypse is change. Apocalypse means uncovering; lifting of a veil, disclosure of knowledge. Apocalypse as a personal event. Change as a personal event. a global event as well, because we are connecting  apocalypse with Los Angeles.
    DoG: Can you describe Sonia to the uninitiated?

    AK: Sonia is a young aggressive screenwriter who moonlights as a car thief.
    DoG: Both Sonia and W-2 are creative people, how does the creative impulse fit into your story?

    AK: Destruction and creation are two sides of the same coin. Employing our creativity can turn shit into flowers.
    DoG: Can you briefly describe the place of your cosmonaut in the story?

    AK: The cosmonaut is a separation; to say more than that would be to spoil the mystery of him.

    DoG: The threat of the book is very Lovecraftian, can you describe you creative relationship with the works of Lovecraft?

    AK: H.P. Lovecraft is a master of horror -- human and inhuman. His work is a source of unending inspiration to me. What are the forces in his work? Are the Cthulhu what we are going to evolve into? These questions excite me. I also like to explore Lovecraft's work so I can understand the way he builds dread, and sometimes just to psychoanalyze him.



    Zero is scheduled for a September 2013 release, and tells the story of Edward Zero, described as "perfect execution machine – a spy who breaks the rules to get things done. When a stolen device appears in the center of a long-running conflict, Zero comes to retrieve it. The problem is, the device is inside a living, breathing, bio-modified terrorist and there's an entire army after it."

    DoG: Judging from the solicitations and some of your other interviews, Edward Zero sounds like a guy who isn’t afraid of a little blood, how do you get into the head of a man like that?

    AK: I have a rather aggressive streak that stems from my genetics and very likely also from being bullied in school. Being aware of it, I can manipulate and control it by meditation, working out, running, practicing sports, martial arts, fucking, and simply by using it as a fuel for creativity. I wondered what would happen to a person who would live, from an early age, in an environment that would be interested in nurturing and using that aggressive force for its own reasons. Zero was born. So what I do when I write Zero is this: I look out of the window and into the mirror. Then I sit down and bleed on the keyboard.

    DoG: What themes will you be exploring in Zero?

    AK: Zero is my observation and investigation of the war meme. It’s a meditation on genetics, on nature, on nurture. It uses the existing storytelling tropes of spy stories, action thrillers and speculative fiction to explore new possibilities within them.

    DoG: Describe your collaboration with Michael Walsh and Jordie Bellaire, how much influence do their styles have on your scripts?

    AKZero is an ongoing container series; this means each issue stands on its own, each issue one mission of Edward Zero, each issue drawn by a different artist. All issues also come together as one big story that takes us from 2018 to 2038.

    Michael Walsh draws #1; his style is visceral noir, controlled and creative. Mateus Santolouco draws #2, set in Shanghai; his work is lush, flamboyant in its line and inks, and therefore very appropriate for depicting what is essentially a Kickstarter party for terrorists that Zero crashes in disguise. Morgan Jeske, my collaborator on “Change”, draws #3, set in Rio, Tradd Moore draws #4, set in Belfast, and so on.

    With Michael Walsh specifically, the collaboration is very organic – I describe what happens on each page and put dialogue in before he starts drawing, sometimes I call a certain angle for a shot, but usually I leave him much more space to invent. Relationships thrive through open discussion and I always aim for that kind of collaboration.

    DoG: If you had to cast a Change or Zero film, who would you pick to fill each role?

    AK: I had a conversation with Morgan Jeske, my collaborator on Change, and he said that Hugh Dancy (Will Graham in Hannibal) would be perfect as Doublehead. I agreed and also suggested Robin Williams as Fissure. RZA could pull off a great W-2 and Mia Wasikowska would be a swell Sonia. As for Zero: Michael Cera.

    DoG: What creative itch did each project scratch?

    AKWild Children was a primal scream; Change was facing the person in the mirror and talking to it, working things out; Zero is a much wider exploration and I am just at the beginning of it.

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    ReviewMike Cecchini6/25/2013 at 7:33PM

    Titan Comics is reprinting Jack Katz's saga, The First Kingdom as a six volume series. Volume one is a mind-blowing blend of sci-fi, fantasy, and philosophy.

    If there is a single word more overused in all of geek culture than "epic," I'd like to know what it is. It's not just us, really. It's everyone. When everything from piles of laundry to Friday nights at a bar are described as "epic," you can only imagine what this does to the vocabulary when writers are trying to describe comics, movies, or video games. That joke you told, no matter how funny, isn't "epic." But Jack Katz's First Kingdom (finally getting a comprehensive reprint treatment courtesy of Titan Comics) sure is.

    The First Kingdom is a sprawling black and white comics saga that first saw publication in 1974, and concluded three years (and well over a thousand pages) later. This first volume is "the Birth of Tundran" but at least half of the story is devoted to Tundran's father, Darkenmoor. We meet Darkenmoor, who lives on a world that is at once post-apocalyptic and pre-historic, and follow him as he meets the woman who will bear him Tundran, faces down forces he can't understand, and becomes the love object of a goddess. No capes here, folks. In fact, few of the protagonists even wear clothes.

    Katz cites Hal Foster's Tarzanstrips as an influence on his art, and that certainly shows here. The First Kingdom is told through a combination of dialogue and the "storybook" captions that dominated Foster's Prince Valiantand Alex Raymond's FlashGordon. But also present in his style are hints of Joe Kubert, Barry Windsor-Smith, and even Jack Kirby (who was a friend of Katz). His art is lush and detailed, and this is unquestionably a fully-realized world, full of naked figures. Katz switches from primal jungle settings to stunningly detailed spacecraft interiors with unsettling ease. 

    So how to describe the First Kingdom to modern readers? While reading, I kept wondering if the initial designers of the Masters of the Universe mythology were aware of Katz's work. Alright, it's not like a lion-haired muscular figure is exactly unique in the annals of heroic literature, but there is a bit of this to be found in Eternia...and at one point Darkenmoor encounters a sun-goddess who appears half-woman/half-bird, who could be a real ringer for the Sorceress in He-Man's world. Except, like nearly everyone in the First Kingdom, she's nearly nude. 

    On the other hand, there is a distinctly counter-cultural feel to the book. Some of Katz's art would be at home on a prog-rock album cover from the era, and it's easy to imagine dedicated "heads" happily de-seeding their stashes and rolling joints while perusing these pages. Throw on some Hawkwind or Pink Floyd's Obscured by Clouds album to complete the vibe when you dip into this, and you won't be disappointed.

    Not only are words like "epic saga" appropriate when describing The First Kingdom, so are words like "dense." And I don't mean dense in a bad's simply that Jack Katz (who is both writer and artist) packs more information into a single page of The First Kingdom than modern comics readers are accustomed to. Lots more. This is a fine thing, but it does make for some impenetrable reading from time to time. This volume has a cast of characters that could rival the Iliadin size, and its scope (if you can imagine that) is even larger. This isn't a quick or easy read, but it's quite possible (especially as future volumes are released) that it will be an increasingly rewarding one.

    Then again, what epic work ISN'T dense? There's a lot established here, from the world, the heroes and villains, to an entire pantheon of gods and goddesses. At one point we're treated to an ambitious creation myth worthy of any of the most primal stories handed down through the ages in a stunning sequence that spans twelve pages. "The Birth of Tundran" is the first of a six volume series, and this will be the first time that Katz's saga is collected, start to finish, through one publisher. This is a one of a kind chance to enjoy some spectacular weirdness.

    The First Kingdom Vol. 1: The Birth of Tundran hits shops on September 24, but you can still pre-order it in Previews using code June131283.

    Story: 6/10
    Art: 7/10
    Overall: 7/10

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    NewsMike Cecchini6/25/2013 at 7:50PM

    The 27 year old Australian actor has been added to the cast of Bryan Singer's new X-Men movie...but nobody knows who he's playing.

    Australian actor, Josh Helman, has been added to the cast of X-Men: Days of Future Past but there's been no announcement of the role he's playing. The actor, perhaps best known for his roles on Australian TV show Home and Away and HBO's The Pacific is expected by sources to be on set for "several weeks" which implies that his role is a hefty one.

    Helman joins an already stacked cast which includes Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, not to mention Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, and Hugh Jackman. It's difficult to even speculate who it is that Helman might be playing, since the X-Men mythology is so expansive and the Days of Future Past concept opens up so many possibilities, even assuming that it strays considerably from the comic.

    X-Men: Days of Future Past is directed by Bryan Singer and is scheduled for a May 23, 2014 release.

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    ReviewMike Cecchini6/26/2013 at 12:28AM

    Dark Horse Comics reprints the adventures of the ORIGINAL Daredevil from way back in 1941!

    Daredevil! No, not Matt Murdock. Bart Hill. The guy with the boomerangs. Ringing any bells? No? Half-red, half-blue costume? Still nothing? Maybe you know him as a supporting cast member in Savage Dragonor as part of Dynamite's Project: Superpowers titles (he's in the public domain, you see). No? Alright, let's work on this. There's not much to know, really. It was the Golden Age of comics, and for the most part, all you needed was a snappy costume, some superior athletic skills, and a this case, a boomerang. 

    Daredevil may not be the best known of the Golden Age heroes, but he does cut a rather striking figure on the page. No cape, the full face mask, that kinky spiked belt...he doesn't look much like his Golden Age compatriots. His influence on the later Marvel character of the same name shouldn't be discounted. Equally striking (but far more disturbing) is Daredevil's primary foe, The Claw, a horrifically racist vision who looks quite a bit like a yellow-skinned Creature From the Black Lagoon. However, the Claw is so powerful a villain that he seems to share nearly every cover, and often has his own back-up stories in Daredevil's own book! Well, unfortunately, the Claw is a product of his time, and all you can do is shake your head and hope we've moved on.

    I was mildly disappointed that this wasn't a compendium of the Golden Age Daredevil's earliest adventures from Silver Streak Comics. Ah, but that's because Dark Horse has already published those adventures in their Silver Streak Archives, which not only feature Daredevil's adventures, but a number of other semi-forgotten comic adventure characters, as well (note to self: get copies of both volumes). Anyway, the Original Daredevil Archives Vol. 1 is the first collection of DD's headlining book, Daredevil Comics, which also featured backup stories with luminaries like Whirlwind, Nightro, and Pioneer: Champion of America. Not exactly Flash Gordon, The Spirit, or Captain Marvel, but whatever.

    Golden Age completists will absolutely want The Original Daredevil Archives for their libraries, but casual fans might steer clear. Then again, the first issue of Daredevil Comics (and the first chapter in this volume) is known as "Daredevil Battles Hitler" and that's exactly what he does. In order to launch DD in his own title, they put him up against the biggest foe in the world at the time, jolly ol' Uncle Adolf. And there are some thoroughly amusing gags at the dictator's expense peppered throughout the issue, which mostly consists of short, individual stories where Daredevil teams up with other heroes from the Silver Streak arsenal to whup Hitler's aryan ass. It's a total riot, and worth the price of admission. Based on Daredevil Comics #1's cover date of July 1941, Daredevil commenced punching Hitler in the cojones nearly a year before America joined the fight in Europe.

    Sadly, it looks like there's only one Jack Cole penciled story in this volume, and it comes fairly early on, but all of the crude dynamism of the era is on full display in nearly every page, and Charles Biro tells fun, physical Daredevil tales. These aren't the greatest comics ever made...they're not even the best of the era that they're from. But The Original Daredevil Archives is nonetheless an absolute romp, and a fine snapshot of what some of the lesser known characters and creators were getting up to in 1941. Think about this for a second: At the time these comics were hitting stands, Superman was a three year old concept, and nobody expected comics to last for three more years. As a cultural snapshot and a piece of comic history, you really can't go wrong.

    The Original Daredevil Archives Vol. 1
    Writers: Dick Wood, Bob Wood, Richard "Dick" Briefer, Charles Biro, Edd Ashe, Jerry Robinson
    Artists: Bob Wood, Richard "Dick" Briefer, Charles Biro, Jack Cole, Reed Crandall, Bob Davis, J. Gahr, Bernard Klein, Jerry Robinson, George Roussos, Victor E. Pazmino, Edd Ashe
    Cover Artist: Bob Wood
    Publisher: Dark Horse

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    NewsMike Cecchini6/26/2013 at 3:13PM

    Valiant has been kind enough to give us (and you!) a look at some preview pages from Quantum & Woody #2 by James Asmus and Tom Fowler!

    Valiant, purveyor of fine superhero comics, want us to believe that Quantum and Woody are the "world's worst superhero team." But why should we believe them? Especially when they've got talent like James Asmus (Thief of Thieves, Gambit) and Tom Fowler (Venom, Hulk: Season One) working on the book? Let's see what they have to say for themselves, and then soak in some preview pages, shall we? 

    "Eric and Woody Henderson have accidentally blown up their father’s life’s work – and themselves along with it! Now, as their bizarre new superpowers begin to manifest, will they be able to outmaneuver the squad of trigger-happy cops that think Eric and Woody are to blame for their dad’s murder? Plus! The mysterious cabal targeting our heroes only gets creepier. Seriously, it’s like an iceberg of creepy. Only 10 percent is showing! And Quantum and Woody are about to crash right the %$!@ into it!"

    Quantum and Woody #1 hits shops on July 10th, and you can read the rest of Quantum and Woody #2 when it arrives on August 7th!

    Written by JAMES ASMUS
    Art by TOM FOWLER
    Cover by RYAN SOOK (JUN131320)
    Variant Cover by TOM FOWLER (JUN131321)
    Variant Cover by RIAN HUGHES (JUN131322)
    $3.99/T+/32 pgs.
    ON SALE 8/7/13 (FOC - 7/15/13)

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  • 06/26/13--17:44: 10 Fictional LGBT Geek Icons
  • Top 10Ethan Lewis6/26/2013 at 4:44PM

    Just in time for Pride Week, we're celebrating 10 LGBT characters who have enriched some of our favorite genres in recent years!

    June is traditionally designated as LGBT Pride Month in the United States and we’re celebrating! LGBT people have historically been involved in geek culture whether it’s been as directors (James Whale), writers (Clive Barker), and actors (Portia de Rossi), but for all of the behind-the-scenes involvement, LGBT issues and characters have been off-limits on the page and screen for most of geek history. Formally banned from film and comic books and informally excluded from other media, LGBT issues had to hide in the subtext. For many years it could only be hinted at and created in innuendo.

    But there came a brighter day when we saw open and proud LGBT characters. With a growing acceptance of LGBT people, we are seeing more diversity within our geek communities. The media we love is beginning to explore issues of sexual orientation and gender identity and even asking us to reimagine our favorite characters as queer. And gone are the days of “very special episodes.” LGBT people are being represented as much more than just a gender or sexual minority. We are getting better at creating more holistic characters.

    Because of this (not to mention the historic Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality) we have many different characters to celebrate right now, but here are ten favorites!

    10. Ramona Flowers
    Appears in: Scott Pilgrim (comics) (2004-2010), Scott Pilgrim vs The World (film) (2010)

    We start off our list with the object of Scott Pilgrim’s affections, Ramona Flowers. In both the film adaptation and the graphic novel, Ramona Flowers is very much the stereotypical manic pixie dream girl. She is quirky, unobtainable, and always in the process of finding herself. And of course, Scott Pilgrim is forced to win her love by fighting her exes, which just happens to include ex-boyfriends and an ex-girlfriend.

    Whenever Scott discusses her “ex-boyfriends” Ramona is quick to correct him because they are “exes.” And although she makes several biphobic remarks ("I thought it didn’t count," etc.) she’s still one of the most well-known representations of sexually fluid women in comic books.  

    9. Birdo
    Appears in: Super Mario Brothers franchise (1987 - present)

    Birdo’s gender has been controversial since her first appearance in 1987. The controversy stems from the fact that the original Super Mario Bros. 2 manual describes Birdo as "Ostro- He thinks he's a girl and he spits eggs from his mouth. He'd rather be called Birdetta." Apparently this gender bending was too much and the manual was changed in later editions to not mention gender at all. People have identified Birdo as a transgender character or at least a gender bender. 

    There has been a lot of fuss over the fact that Yoshi and Birdo are usually depicted as dating. And what does that MEAN? Silly people. But now that we mention it, Yoshi is a male dinosaur that lays eggs. So maybe they’re both transgender…

    8. Sailor Neptune
    Appears in: Sailor Moon franchise

    Sailor Neptune is one of the most badass characters in Sailor Moon. She is depicted as feminine, beautiful, and musically gifted. And her fighting skills aren’t too shabby either. If you have only ever watched the American dubbed version of Sailor Moon you might wonder why she is even on the list. In American versions her relationship with Sailor Uranus is familial but in the original version, Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus are dating.

    This kind of censorship is unfortunately all too commonplace for LGBT characters. Sadly, this isn't the only case where a character was originally designed to be LGBT but was retracted or censored. That's unfortunate since Sailor Moon was clearly attempting to represent a group of diverse young women.

    7. Vastra
    Appears in: Doctor Who
    Next we come to our favorite Sapphic Silurian in Doctor Who. After The Doctor accidentally woke her up from her subterranean slumber, she was stuck among the humans. Though she was hesitant to live among the “mammals” her heart eventually betrayed her and she fell in love with her maid, Jenny. They married and began solving crimes and mysteries in Victorian London. Together they managed to solve crimes that left Scotland Yard baffled. They have joined the Doctor on many occasions and even saved his life a few times.

    Vastra’s portrayal is pretty progressive in terms of its normalization. There is no “very special episode” of Doctor Who. Vastra simply is who she is. Being LGBT in the Doctor Who universe isn’t really anything too shocking. But even better, her relationship with Jenny is not her defining characteristic. She is strong, tough and fiercely intelligent. The Doctor assumes that Vastra and Jenny are the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes and Watson....and that's pretty damn cool.

    6. Mystique
    Appears in: X-Men franchise.

    For many years LGBT characters were formally (and then informally) banned from appearing in comics. One of the first comic book characters to burst out of the comic closet was Mystique. Mystique has had male love interests but her most well-known lover is probably Destiny. Destiny plays a large role in Mystique’s comic history and their relationship reveals a great deal of Mystique’s humanity.

    Unfortunately, the film versions of Mystique have yet to show her as anything besides heterosexual. It would be interesting if the newest trilogy of films chooses to tackle Mystique’s fluid sexuality or if they will keep in her in the closet. We are hoping for the former.

    5. Green Lantern
    Appears in: DC Comics' Earth 2

    Both Marvel and DC Comics have done a great deal in recent years to rectify their past homophobia. In 2012, DC Comics introduced us to a gay Alan Scott. They were very careful not to turn Green Lantern into a token gay character. He has all the attributes of the classic Green Lantern. He’s tough, heroic and brave...he just also happens to be into guys as well. And it’s treated as if it isn’t a terribly big deal.

    We imagine that our geek culture will follow these recent examples when it comes to normalizing the experiences of LGBT people. More and more, we're starting to see LGBT characters as just a matter of fact. Being LGBT won’t be the most exciting or interesting part of their character. It will be just one part.

    4. Northstar
    Appears in: X-Men franchise, Alpha Flight
    Northstar is remarkable for many reasons. For starters, he was the first out and open LGBT person to exist in mainstream comics. As a result, he paved the way for what is now a far more normal occurrence in comics. In many ways Northstar has grown up with the LGBT civil rights struggle. At first it was enough to be the token gay character in comics. It was a radical move for Marvel to let Northstar come out in Alpha Flight #106. Still, Northstar didn’t really have the same kinds of relationships that heterosexuals in X-Men often have, which is why we were so happy to hear that Marvel finally had him marry his long-term partner. This caused controversy but when you're talking about comics, what doesn't?

    3. Dumbledore
    Appears in: Harry Potter franchise.

    Dumbledore was not initially written as gay but when the issue was brought up to JK Rowling during a Q & A at Carnegie Hall, she stated that "I always thought of Dumbledore as gay" and that his true love was Gilbert Grindelwald. Despite the Harry Potter novels being aimed at a younger audience, being LGBT is not depicted as deviant. And Dumbledore is a kind, benevolent, and wise old man who destroys the homophobic stereotype that gay men aren’t to be trusted around children. He is, in fact, one of the most trustworthy characters in the series. Take that, homophobia! That isn’t to say that his outing was without controversy. However, most of the people that would have protested against any hint of homosexuality in a novel probably already didn’t appreciate Harry Potter. Because, you know...witchcraft.

    2. Xena
    Appears in: Xena, Warrior Princess
    This one is sure to stir some controversy. The relationship between Xena and Gabrielle has long been debated. Are they friends? Are they lovers? The debate continues to this day but most Xena fans probably agree there is more than just lesbian subtext in Xena. Xena’s relationship with Gabrielle goes far beyond friendship and scenes were shot showing what appears to be them kissing. Xena star, Lucy Lawless even stated in an interview that their relationship was deeper than subtext. In a 2003 interview, Lawless characterized their relationship as "Gay...definitely."

    Of course, it is also important to look at the context of when Xena was created. For a show that’s almost 20 years old, it is incredibly progressive in terms of same-sex relationships. If the show is rebooted, it would be very interesting to see how their relationship would be defined.

    1. Captain Jack Harkness
    Appears in: Doctor WhoTorchwood

    And finally we reach Captain Jack, everyone’s favorite immortal pansexual time-traveling swashbuckler. Captain Jack is just plain sexual. And everyone is the object of his affections. But more importantly, he has been a role model for young bisexual youth in both the UK and the United States. He defies many of the standard LGBT stereotypes and is a celebrated figure in science fiction. He is charming, tough, and incredibly brave. And, perhaps even more importantly, he is really cool.

    And that is maybe the most remarkable thing about Captain Jack. He appeals to just about everyone. He quickly became one of the most loved characters on Doctor Who and starred in his own spinoff show...and we hope to see him in the 50th anniversary!


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    Xena and Gabrielle are my root lol...also the pink ranger, but I don't think there was even subtext, just the sapphic fantasy of a child lol

    I'm kind of sad that you didn't include Jinksy (Steve) from Warehouse 13. I feel that his character isn't overdone or defined by his identity. It is just a part of who he is.

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    ReviewMike Cecchini6/26/2013 at 6:27PM

    Greg Pak, Jae Lee, and Ben Oliver deliver a stunning take on the first meeting between Batman and Superman in Batman/Superman #1

    There's a whole lot of firsts going on in the pages of Batman/Superman #1. Sure, it's the story of Batman and Superman's first New 52 meeting, but it's also Greg Pak's first work for DC and the first time in who the heck knows how long that we've got Jae Lee interiors on a superhero project. Let's just get this out of the way: Batman/Superman #1 is a STUNNING looking book (no, seriously, go look at the preview pages over here), and it sure would be nice to see Lee and Oliver stick around for as long as possible.

    But yeah, let's get back to the firsts. I think we're far enough into DC's reboot that we can stop referring to it in every post we make about DC Comics, right? No? Not yet? Alright, fine. The thing is, we ARE far enough into it that I don't think there's much danger of DC pulling a switcheroo and rebooting things back to their pre-Flashpointstate, and it seems that with each passing month, the New 52 is taking on more and more of its own shape and character. This is good. So, as a reader, it's now kind of COOL to see another early days story with Superman in his jeans and workboots. And since we're only one issue into "Year Zero" over in Batman, there's still plenty of room to explore some of Bruce's formative years as a crime-fighter.

    Much like Batman#21, Batman/Superman #1 feels like a book that should have launched in September of 2011. Fans who have been wondering about the nature of the new timeline would feel right at home just stepping into either of these books. Greg Pak drops us right into the mind of a Clark Kent who sticks out like, an alien in Gotham City, and it's really terrific to see him size up Bruce (and vice versa) for the first time. Considering how much ground this issue covers (three cities, a couple of flashbacks, and what appears to be a parallel universe), there's not a ton of exposition, and it really doesn't take long to get into the action.

    But when the dialogue between Bruce and Clark is as sharp and inciteful as it is here, who needs action, right? Between this, and the recent announcement that Pak is going to be writing Action Comics starting in November, it's safe to say that Superman is in good hands. It's tough to get that balance between Clark and Bruce's thoughts without it becoming a case of "happy guy" vs. "sad guy" and Pak never falls into that little trap. Plus, I don't know whether it was Pak's or Lee's idea to put Bruce in his "crazy army vet" disguise from Batman: Year One, but whoever it was, it sure is a nice touch.

    But, Good Lord, can I talk about Jae Lee a little more before I wrap this up? It's not just that Lee is a gifted artist (of course he is), it's that Batman/Superman #1 simply doesn't look a damn thing like ANYTHING else being put on the stands by Marvel or DC right now. I wish I could draw anything even a little more complex than a stick figure so I could do this some justice, but sadly, I can't. Suffice to say, it's dark, it's lush, and June Chung and Daniel Brown's colors just draw you into each panel. Even the shift between Lee's art and Ben Oliver's that occurs in the last few pages isn't jarring, and serves a particular purpose in the story.

    This, right here, is what I call a good superhero comic. Between this and the promise shown in "Zero Year," it feels, possibly for the first time, like the best is yet to come from DC Comics. Now, if only someone could find a way to put these two characters in a movie together...nah, forget it...this is cooler.

    Story: 8/10
    Art: 9/10
    Overall: 8/10

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    Excellent. I've got this coming to me tomorrow, now I'm excited to check it out

    Great review. I'm also still putting my vote in for a Superman/Batman movie.

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    NewsTony Sokol6/27/2013 at 11:59AM

    Julianne Moore in talks to join The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.

    It is time for the reaping and may the odds be forever in Julianne Moore’s favor. The actress, who most recently played Sarah Palin in HBO’s Game Change (with Woody Harrelson who plays Haymitch in The Hunger Gamesmovie trilogy) and Jack Donaghy’s flame on 30 Rock, is in talks with Lionsgate and director Francis Lawrence to play President Alma Coin in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. The last two books from the Suzanne Collins book series are being turned to film.

    Moore would star in both of the final films. President Alma Coin is in charge of District 13 will use Katniss Everdeen, Jennifer Lawrence, to advance her own ambitions when Katniss becomes a symbol of rebellion against the Capitol government. Moore would star in both of the final films. Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth will return for the movie. Philip Seymour Hoffman will also be joining the series for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

    Julianne Moore is also set to play the bible-thumping mama in the upcoming remake of Stephen King’s Carrie, which will be directed by Kim Peirce. She is also set to star opposite Jeff Bridges in Warner Brothers’ Seventh Son. Moore is also slated to play in Don Juan, which will be directed by Gordon-Levitt and will co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson.

    The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is set for released on November 21, 2014. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 will open November 20, 2015.


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    Mockingjay should be one movie.


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    ReviewMike Cecchini6/27/2013 at 4:02PM

    Lucky, a.k.a "Arrow," but perhaps best known as Pizza Dog, gets a solo adventure. One of the best comics of the year, courtesy of Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Matt Hollingsworth!

    It's not enough that Hawkeyeis one of the best superhero books out there. It's not enough that it hit me right in the ol' feels a few months back with its Hurricane Sandy issue. It's not enough that David Aja cements himself as one of my favorite artists each and every month. And it's not enough that it's up for five Eisners (Best New Series, Best Continuing Series, Best Cover Artist, Best Penciller/Inker, Best Writer). No, they had to go and play the "adorable mutt" card and do an issue focusing on Hawkeye's pal, Pizza Dog. 

    Not only does "Pizza is my Business" detail the decidedly low-key solo adventures of Pizza Dog on a typical night in Hawkeye's neighborhood, it's told from his perspective. Throughout the entire issue, we only get the fragments of dialogue that Lucky actually understands, and everything else is told via clever visual representations of how he interprets the world around him and how his canine brain works. It's beyond charming. Note to Marvel writers, artists, and editors: if any harm comes to this fictional dog, you will answer to me.

    I see a little of Chris Ware's influence in how David Aja breaks down Lucky's world. It took me more than one attempt to really "read" Lucky's thoughts, but it was thoroughly rewarding once I started thinking enough like a dog. Yes, I just typed that and I'm not sorry. Think about everything that Aja has done well in the course of this series: the subtle facial expressions that say more than an entire page of dialogue, the rumpled clothing, the dingy interiors. Now watch him take a scruffy, one-eyed dog and give him as much personality as any character in the Marvel Universe, without the aid of thought balloons or expository captions. I'd love to see the script to Hawkeye#11, if only to try and get a handle of how Fraction and Aja collaborated on it!

    Hawkeye#11 is one of those extremely rare moments when Marvel (or DC for that matter) just lets a creative team go absolutely wild (your welcome for not using any "off the leash" puns). It's been said that one of the marks of a good superhero comic is that it can only feature that superhero. So, if you can just plug Daredevil into your Batman story, you're probably doing it wrong. With this in mind, it should kinda go without saying that "Pizza is my Business" wouldn't work as a Krypto story.

    But I'm gonna take this a step further: I can't imagine another creative team pulling off a story like this without breaking stride. Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Matt Hollingsworth just told a story about a dog in a crappy apartment building with virtually no dialogue and the overall Hawkeye story is still gonna be a different place in issue 12 than it was at the start of issue 11. If that isn't a grand slam, I don't know what is. 

    Oh, and the best part about this comic, internet? Not a cat in sight. 

    Story: 10/10
    Art: 10/10
    Overall: 10/10

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  • 06/27/13--23:20: Uncanny #1 (Dynamite) Review
  • ReviewMarc Buxton6/27/2013 at 10:20PM

    Uncanny #1 by Andy Diggle and Aaron Campbell puts the reader right in the middle of a seedy, superpowered caper! Safe to say it's like nothing else on the stands this week!

    Andy Diggle is a ninja. He stealthily appears in unexpected places, weaves his literary kung fu and then disappears in a puff of smoke. He is consistently the best writer in comics who does not write a regular book. His Green Arrow: Year One was so character-defining that it served as the inspiration for the ArrowTV series. His recent series for Image, Snapshot! was a delightfully disturbing paranoid thriller, and his aborted run on Action Comics exploded with potential. Losersredefined the heist genre over at Vertigo while his runs on Daredeviland Thunderboltswere underrated gems. Now, Diggle, aided and abetted by artist Aaron Campbell, bring their magic over to Dynamite in their new book, Uncanny.

    The inevitable X-Men fan that picks up this book through the Pavlovian response of seeing the word "uncanny" on a comic cover is in for a rare treat. Uncannyis a super-powered caper book about a hustler named Weaver who possesses the power to absorb the talents of others. In a fight with a skilled martial artist? No problem, Weaver can borrow those skills and level the playing field. Uncanny is the study of what happens when a dishonest man has amazing powers. The story begins with Weaver trying to hustle a casino owner in Singapore while borrowing the gambler’s acumen at games of chance. Weaver somehow gets made, and the story begins.

    The story’s pacing is frenetic. It does not give readers the chance to breathe as Weaver races to escape the casino by borrowing the gifts of some of the more badass members of the security detail. Diggle masterfully reveals Weaver’s powers while giving readers insight into what makes the immoral protagonist tick all they while crafting a feverishly paced robbery story. It’s like Diggle is making up a category of storytelling as he goes as we bear witness to the birth of the super powered heist genre.

    Diggle does not do it alone as Campbell is able to keep up with the furious pace. His action is ripped right from the best John Woo fight scenes and his lush details of Singapore are a sight to behold. The world of Uncanny is one of beauty and excess juxtaposed with the underbelly of corruption, all of which are encapsulated in Campbell’s images combined with the usual lush colors Dynamite has become famous for. 

    But it is Weaver that sells the story. He has a Han Solo-like charm combined with a fascinating special ability that creates a comic experience unlike any other. Uncannyis based in a world where a man with an amazing ability can steal anything, from a fortune in cash or a defining human talent. Uncanny looks scaled back, a no-frills kind of comic, but once the cover is cracked, fans will witness  a thrill a minute, balls-out crime story. Uncannyis an action packed tale of immorality and excess, and it shouldn’t be overlooked in a very crowded week of comics.

    Story: 8/10
    Art: 8/10
    Overall: 8/10

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    Just read the 4th one. Pretty cool story overall. Fun idea. Art style is unique and engaging.

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    NewsDavid Crow6/28/2013 at 4:25PM

    New legal developments puts the fate of Ghost Rider in the hands of a potential November 4 trial.

    In a ruling yesterday, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest ordered the fate of Ghost Rider’s copyright ownership to be taken to trial this November. The decision follows a Federal Second Court of Appeals ruling that overturned a 2011 decision in Marvel’s favor.
    In a case that seems far more complex and nuanced than the image of a burning skull driving a fiery motorcycle, Ghost Rider has been floating in the legal system for close to a decade. The reason? Former freelancer Gary Friedrich, writer of the original story featuring Johnny Blaze aka Ghost Rider, claims that as Ghost Rider is his creation that he has renewal copyrights over the character (i.e. compensation for when Blaze is used in movies such as 2007’s Ghost Rider, which not so coincidentally is the year Friedrich first filed suit).
    Since 2007, Friedrich has been in a legal battle with Marvel, as well as Columbia TriStar and Relativity Media, over the rights to a character Marvel believes came from a collaborative effort that included writer-editor Roy Thomas and artist Mike Ploog, among others. In 2011 Judge Forrest ruled in favor of Marvel Entertainment. However, Friedrich appealed the ruling, leading to a June 11 decision throwing this all back in the air.
    Now, thanks to legal documentation obtained by Deadline, we know the fate of who owns Ghost Rider’s copyright could be decided by a trial coming November 4. However, Judge Forrest is having all parties meet again for a final pretrial conference on October 30, so it may not go to a jury.
    If it does, their heads could explode in fiery confusion.

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    NewsMike Cecchini6/28/2013 at 5:12PM

    Valiant, proving they know their audience quite well, have unveiled another wave of 8-bit comic book covers, so let the nostalgia flow over you like water!

    They did it before, and now they're doing it again! Valiant is going 8-bit this October with retro covers by Matthew Waite and Donovan Santiago! Valiant 8-Bit Level Two will include Archer & Armstrong #14, Bloodshot & H.A.R.D. Corps #15, Eternal Warrior#2, Harbinger#17, Quantum & Woody #4, Shadowman#11, and X-O Manowar#18.

    "Our first batch of Valiant 8-bit releases have been an immediate success with fans, retailers, and critics, and all three have been asking us to expand the scope of the Valiant 8-bit program since it was first announced," said Valiant Executive Editor Warren Simons. "Level Two is that expansion, and Matthew, Donovan and Valiant's own Assistant Editor Josh Johns have done a phenomenal job. Not only has Level Two moved beyond cartridge gaming for inspiration, but it will also include more than just incredible covers. Fans of the Valiant 8-bit initiative, take note  we have some exciting developments in store that you'll be hearing about very soon."

    You can see more awesome 8-bit covers and read more details (including about the free downloadable game!) over at Topless Robot!

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    ReviewMarc Buxton6/28/2013 at 10:26PM

    Greg Rucka and Michael Lark bring a brutal tale of class warfare and social commentary with the first issue of Lazarus from Image Comics!

    There should be more comics written by Greg Rucka. There should be more comics drawn by Michael Lark. There should be licensed comics, super-hero comics, westerns, fantasy, noir, and creator-owned work by both of these guys, because they are true modern masters that transcend any genre. When the pair teamed up with Ed Brubaker on Gotham Central, they gave the industry a stiff kick in the behind. In Lazarus, Rucka and Lark bring their brave form of sequential storytelling to Image and craft a world like no other.

    Lazarusis the story of what happens when all the resources on Earth are controlled by a few powerful families. The world is divided into a modern feudal system of the elite Families, those that are useful to the Families, called Serfs, and the rest, called the Waste. It is a brutal social commentary that never devolves into preachy glad-handing. 

    Each Family is protected by a genetically modified warrior called a Lazarus. The protagonist of the book is a woman named Forever, Lazarus of the Family Carlyle. The majority of the first issue follows Forever as she enforces the will of the Carlyles on a group of Wastes who dare to steal food from her Family. The opening thrusts readers into a scene where a beautiful woman (Forever) is viciously beaten and gunned down by seemingly-violent tattered thugs. Rucka turns perceptions on their ear as it turns out the gang members are the victims of marginalization and forced starvation who were fighting a brutal enforcer just to get desperately needed supplies. When Forever awakens and heals, she takes ruthless vengeance on the gang. Welcome to the world of Lazarus, where beautiful enforcers protect the assets of a tiny elite minority from a desperate majority.

    Rucka and Lark are one of the most natural creative teams in comics today. A reader can see Lark pull out every bit of drama and pathos in Rucka’s script. The beating Forever suffers is tough to witness, and the gang’s starving appearance enhances Rucka’s class-war motif to the fullest.

    This is the type of book Image was made for: an original story that does not easily fit into one genre. It's two great talents riffing on an idea like two brilliant jazz musicians jamming late into the night. Rucka doesn’t even have to waste time on expository dialogue. Readers know from the look on Forever’s face that she is having a change of heart regarding her place in this society. When she is forced to execute an old man who claims responsibility for the earlier raid in order to save his people, Forever learns the meaning of nobility, a concept that will drive the external and internal conflicts that will move the series forward. 

    Rucka’s unflinching writing style has been greatly missed since the end of his run on Punisherand the industry is in a better place when Michael Lark is drawing a monthly book. It will be a pleasure watch the brutal visually poetry as Lazarus unfolds.

    Story: 9/10
    Art: 10/10
    Overall: 9/10


    Lazarus #1 (Image)
    “Family: Part 1”
    Written by Greg Rucka
    Art and letters by Michael Lark
    Color by Santi Arcas

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    This is on the list!!! Thanks :)

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    NewsMike Cecchini6/28/2013 at 11:20PM

    Grant Morrison's incredible eight year run on Batman concludes with July's Batman Incorporated #13. Check out three preview pages!

    You may not have Grant Morrison's words on these pages yet, but Chris Burnham's art sure does pack a wallop, doesn't it? Batman Incorporated #13 is Grant Morrison's final issue, putting the finishing touches on a winding, sometimes psychedelic Batman story that began back in 2005. In that time there have been new villains, a temporarily dead Batman, a (so far) permanently dead Robin, and more general Bat-insanity than you can shake a batarang at.

    Batman Incorporated #13 wraps up the Leviathan story which has dominated the title for the last two years. As DC describes it, "in this must-have issue, all bets are off as war fills the streets of Gotham City, Talia al Ghul faces the Dark Knight once again, and much more!" Well, yes...I can't imagine anyone who has stuck with Grant's enormously challenging (and rewarding) Batman titles for this long would miss this under any circumstances.  

    Batman Incorporated #13 hits shops on July 24th.

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    That cover made me do a double-take.

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    NewsMike Cecchini7/1/2013 at 11:17AM

    Iron Man 3 director Shane Black has some interesting words to say about his upcoming Doc Savage feature film.

    Doc Savage is a natural for film, but somehow has only had one big screen adventure, and a rather uneven one at that. But the character who is the inspiration for everyone from Superman to Indiana Jones to the Fantastic Four is finally getting a new lease on Hollywood life thanks to Iron Man 3 director, Shane Black. Black spoke to Collider about his plans for Doc Savage and friends, and it's clear he has a very clear vision about his approach.

    Doc Savage is a personal film to me," said Black, "It’s a 1930s pulp character so it hasn’t been around for 75 years or so, but people if they’re introduced to it they’ll get to know, hopefully, what I came to love as a kid. I’ve read those series for 43 years and always wanted to figure out how to crack it.”

    Of course, the big question whenever a Doc Savage revival is close at hand is whether to modernize the character or not. Black's got that under control, too. “We’re shooting it as though it’s in the 30s, including all the Capra-esque elements of 1930s films like You Can’t Take It With You. The idea of ‘What if Jimmy Stewart were a stone-cold killer?’ basically. It’s that kind of combination which we enjoy.”

    However, before Doc Savage fanatics (yes, they're out there...they include this very writer) jump all over Mr. Black for his "stone-cold killer" comment, Black later reached out to Colliderto clarify his statement. "Doc Savage had the abilities of a fighting machine but truly the soul of a pacifist. He always tempered his violent skills with kindness and a social conscience, preferring never to take human life. So, um,  perhaps my quote should have more accurately read, ‘potential’  killer."

    You can read more from Shane Black about Doc Savage (as well as check out a short video interview with him) over at Collider!

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    ReviewMarc Buxton7/1/2013 at 2:37PM

    Stephen King's new book, "Joyland" tells the story of a carney serial killer, but reads like a coming of age novel. The subtle fears of everyday life overpower any supernatural horror hiding in a haunted house.

    On the surface, Stephen King’s latest foray into Titan Book’s Hardcase Crime imprint is the story of a murder mystery inside of a haunted carnival. If one of King’s constant readers or someone just looking for a good summer pot boiler were to pick up this novel and look slightly beneath the grease paint and sawdust surface, that reader would find a coming of age story filled with poignancy, heartbreak and an affirmation of life. The novel defies expectations and proves once again that King is the master, not just of horror, but of the written word and of reader emotions.

    Joyland is a horror story, a story of a girl who was violently murdered on a haunted house ride, and whose restless spirit is still within that ride. The novel is filled with the eerie imagery of the carnival, of the shady carnies, and restless nature that accompanies any carnival. When King brings the chills, the novel goes for the jugular. Whenever any of the characters get within sight of the haunted house ride, the novel walks that razor’s edge of creepiness that will make readers flick on an extra light or lock a few doors. But it is so much more to Joyland than just a horror novel. When one pictures what a King novel centered on a haunted carnival would look like, images of Pennywiseesque clowns and killer Christine-like roller coasters spring to mind, but in Joyland, the terrors are much more subtle. Yes, the ghost plays a role, and there is a serial killer lurking about, but the true horrors of the novel are the mundane horrors of life that lurk around every corner. The cancers that can and will take a loved one, the sudden heart attacks or strokes, the stray piece of hot dog waiting to be choked upon.  The terrors of Joyland are not as overt as one might expect, which is what makes the book so surprisingly brilliant.

    The novel is narrated in the first person by the book’s protagonist, Devin Jones. Jones tells the story in flashback, filling readers in one what happens to the story’s players once they step away from King’s narrative stage. The beautiful girl who turned heads when she was young is wasted away by cancer a few years later, the pending stokes and car accidents that are awaiting in the future. Those are the real dreads of the novel, dwarfing the supernatural presence that lurks in the haunted house. Like most King books, that evil that can be hidden in the hearts of anyone.

    Joyland is a crime story, a story of Jones’ quest to find out who committed the murder that tainted his beloved Joyland. It is a well-structured whodunit that drops hints and clues throughout Jones’ journey, both supernatural and concrete. The novel feels like a crime story hidden beneath the façade of a horror story. As Jones winds his way through the world of carnies and rubes (called conies in the book), he learns the secret world of the amusement business. Jones is able to look beneath the veneer of laughter and joy to see the dark heart beneath Joyland, a dark heart that taints a world Jones has come to believe in.

    Joyland, most of all, is a coming-of-age story. When readers first meet college student Devin Jones his entire life rotates around his girlfriend, Wendy Keegan. Devin’s life is torn asunder when the inevitable happens, and Wendy dumps him for another man. Having no focus, Devin throws his entire being into his summer job at Joyland, and he finds that the act of giving joy to others, even when he does not feel it himself, comes to define him as a person.

    Joyland is a setting just as wholly realized as Derry, Maine or Castle Rock, two locales more than familiar with King’s readers. The carnival is a world unto itself, a world with its own language, expectations, and history. The history of Joyland is just as fascinating as Devin’s quest to find the killer, and while the park does have its ghosts, both literal and figurative, it is a place designed to bring joy into a world of inevitable disease and murder. Joyland is a world that readers will reluctantly want to leave, it is a place that turns Devin into the man that is narrating the tale, and it is place where anyone can come and forget the real world for just a little while.

    The main conflict of the novel is Devin struggling to find the carnival killer. It is a quest that keeps him working at carnival beyond summer, and it is a quest that eventually leads him to meeting Annie and Mike. Still reeling from being dumped by Wendy, the last thing Devin is looking for is a romantic encounter. Mike is a boy dying of a real illness, and Annie, his mother, would do anything to keep her son happy and strong till the end. The last thing she is looking for is romantic entanglements, but when Devin befriends the boy and takes him and Annie on a private dream visit to Joyland, Devin learns the true magic of the park beyond the ghosts and the eerily accurate fortune tellers and Annie sees him as an unlikely hero. The moments the book spends examining Joyland through the eyes of Mike, are the moments where Joyland becomes more magical than places like Narnia and Middle Earth. It is a place that works on smoke, mirrors, and the sweet of the workers, but it is a place of magic that can make a dying boy forget his pain. That is the true heart of King’s latest. On the surface, it may be a murder mystery, it may be a horror, but deeper down, the novel is the examination of a place of magic that drowns out all the horror and disease of the real world once Devin, Mike, and Annie explore the midway.

    Joyland is a terse, controlled novel about a boy who becomes a man by solving a murder and forgets his own heartache by entering the serious business of making desperate people smile.

    Den of Geek Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars


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    The author should have spell checked.

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    NewsMike Cecchini7/1/2013 at 3:18PM

    Full color preview pages from this week's Shadowman #8 by Justin Jordan, Roberto De La Torre, Neil Edwards, and Lewis LaRosa!

    It's Monday, which means you're two days away from Wednesday, and since it's the first week in July, you're two whole days away from a long weekend (we hope). So that tells us that you've probably already checked out and your brain is already on a beach enjoy these awesome preview pages from Shadowman#8 (which arrives on July 3rd), while you plan on some unsafe weekend activities involving fireworks and booze.

    Shadowman #8 looks pretty smart, but don't take OUR word for it...

    "Valiant is proud to present an advance preview of Shadowman #8 by Harvey Award-nominated writer Justin Jordan (Green Lantern: New Guardians) and all-star artists Roberto De La Torre (Daredevil), Neil Edwards (Dark Avengers), and Lewis LaRosa (Punisher MAX)!
    Jack Boniface’s life is about to become a living hell. Master Darque may be trapped in the forbidden realm known as the Deadside, but his disciples on Earth, the Brethren, continue to track Jack’s every move. When Shadowman takes the fight to their doorstep, the Brethren’s counterattack proves much more than Jack bargained for…and the people he cares about are going to pay the price…
    The road to the final, fateful clash of Shadowman and Master Darque starts here on July 3rd when the Deadside's darkest strike close to home, only in Shadowman#8!"

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