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- 01/31/17--14:23: _Saoirse Ronan to St...
- 01/31/17--15:40: _Gotham’s Cameron Mo...
- 01/31/17--17:14: _The Walking Dead Sh...
- 01/31/17--18:26: _Leonardo DiCaprio t...
- 01/31/17--18:48: _Fixing The Walking ...
- 01/31/17--21:03: _Gotham Season 3: Ev...
- 01/24/17--10:34: _All Time Comics: A ...
- 01/25/17--00:12: _Logan: Mysterious C...
- 01/25/17--15:33: _Legion Must Prove I...
- 01/25/17--16:52: _The Road to Riverda...
- 01/25/17--17:44: _Star Trek: Discover...
- 01/25/17--20:53: _Arrival Producer to...
- 01/25/17--21:03: _Secret Empire: What...
- 01/26/17--10:42: _The Flash Movie Get...
- 01/31/17--21:27: _Mark Hamill Explain...
- 02/01/17--10:03: _Powerless: 13 Great...
- 02/01/17--14:09: _Lego Batman Jacket ...
- 02/01/17--15:39: _Shannara Chronicles...
- 02/01/17--17:05: _Planet of Exile: Mo...
- 02/01/17--19:46: _BLACK: Exploring A ...
- 01/31/17--14:23: Saoirse Ronan to Star in Sweetness in the Belly
- 01/31/17--15:40: Gotham’s Cameron Monaghan on Jerome Possibly Becoming the Joker
- 01/31/17--18:26: Leonardo DiCaprio to Star in The Black Hand
- 01/31/17--18:48: Fixing The Walking Dead Season 7: Time to Cut the Comics Lose
- 01/31/17--21:03: Gotham Season 3: Every Joker and Batman Easter Egg
- 01/24/17--10:34: All Time Comics: A Guide to The Weirdest New Superhero Universe
- 01/25/17--00:12: Logan: Mysterious Comic Book Pages From Movie Revealed
- 01/25/17--20:53: Arrival Producer to Develop Inconstant Moon For Fox
- 01/25/17--21:03: Secret Empire: What We Know About Marvel's Next Event
- 01/26/17--10:42: The Flash Movie Gets New Writer, Page One Rewrite
- 01/31/17--21:27: Mark Hamill Explains Those Joker-ized Donald Trump Tweets
- 02/01/17--10:03: Powerless: 13 Great DC Superhero Comedy Moments
- 02/01/17--14:09: Lego Batman Jacket Giveaway
- 02/01/17--15:39: Shannara Chronicles Season 2: Release Date, Cast, Trailer
- 02/01/17--19:46: BLACK: Exploring A World Where Only Black People Have Superpowers
The Irish actress has been cast in another immigration-themed romance based on a bestselling novel.
Saoirse Ronan is taking on another immigration-themed drama for her next project. According to Deadline, the Irish actress will be starring in Sweetness in the Belly, a film adaptation of the bestselling novel from Camilla Gibb. If Sweetness in the Belly is half as mesmerizing as Brooklyn, then this film will be one to anticipate. (Not to mention, immigration is kind of a timely subject right now... you know, even more than it always is.)
Ronan will play Lily Abdal, a woman who was orphaned in Africa as a child only to return to her English homeland as an adult refugee, fleeing from a civil war. Once there, she is caught between the homeland of her birth parents and the home she grew up in. Lily quickly becomes the heart of a London community of disenfranchised immigrants, working to reunite people with their family members. However, Lily's mission isn't purely altruistic; also connected is a passionate romance she has with idealistic doctor Aziz.
The project will reunite Ronan with her Brooklyn producers Alan Moloney and his Parallel Films. The two films seem to share many of the same themes, especially with the central tension of a woman torn between two potential homes.
Sweetness in the Belly will be directed by Ethiopian filmmaker Zeresenay "Zee" Berhane Mehari from a script by Laura Phillips. Mehari made serious waves with his debut feature film, Difret, which was executive produced by Angelina Jolie and went on to win the World Cinematic Dramatic Audience Award at 2014's Sundance Film Festival, as well as the Audience Award at Berlin Film Festival's Panorama section.
Susan Mullen of Parallel Films will also be producing, along with Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny of Sienna Films, who optioned the novel and developed the screenplay. Mehret Mandefro and Adrian Sturges will serve as executive producers.
Kawaja and Sereny called Ronan their "dream first choice" for the role of Lily, adding: "It’s so wonderful to have her on board. We are thrilled to begin to realise the project, especially as the film is even more relevant now then it was when we started this journey."
Sweetness in the Belly will start shooting in September.
Cameron Monaghan discusses the long-hinted idea of his maniacal Gotham character Jerome becoming the Joker.
Warning: Spoilers for Gotham Season 3 winter finale, “Mad City: The Gentle Art of Making Enemies.”
Fox’s Gotham continues to be an unapologetically comic-book-apocryphal showcase for Batman characters and tropes, minus the properly grown Batman himself. However, the presence of Cameron Monaghan’s psychotic, cackling killer Jerome Valeska – often referred to as a “Proto Joker” – has become an oddly ambiguous piece of the Batman mythological puzzle the show seems intent on quickly constructing. With the show constantly hinting, but never confirming Jerome’s Joker status, Monaghan himself chimes in on the clownish quandary.
In an interview with TV Guide, Cameron Monaghan breaks down the chaotic occurrences on the show's winter finale, notably Jerome’s abduction of young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), pointing out that, despite their somewhat analogous origins (Bruce’s parents were murdered, Jerome murdered his parents), the ordeal illustrated the underlying fateful philosophical differences between the would-be Batman Bruce and presumed Joker Jerome; a conflict between justice and nihilism. While Monaghan obviously can’t offer confirmation on Jerome’s Joker status, he does comment on the possibility, stating:
“Maybe! Gotham is sort of its own canon. It's its own story in many ways, while still giving insight into the stories we know and love. Nothing is set in stone for this universe. We don't even know for sure if there is a Joker in this universe or if everyone is kind of a Joker and anyone can step into it. We're not sure. It's kind of seeing seeds of a lot of different ideas and possibilities.”
Jerome’s initial Joker hype was seemingly squelched in Season 2 when he was shockingly betrayed and killed by the evil Theo Galavan. From there, the series maintained the meme that Jerome’s highly-publicized homicidal sprees inspired a maniacal movement that the audience was to take as inspiring whoever becomes the actual Joker. Of course, Jerome’s Season 3 resurrection left that idea in question with him back, sporting a crudely-stapled, droopy grimace after an insane acolyte removed his face (a notable reference to Joker’s arc in DC's Batman: Faces of Death New-52-era comic storyline). While Jerome’s madcap carnival of killing was stopped, he remains alive and active in the Gotham canon. Thus, the Joker speculation remains as resurrected as Jerome himself. As Monaghan teases:
“We don't know if there is a Joker in this universe or if he'll look traditionally like how we've known to perceive him. I know that initially that might be a stepping stone for fans because we're so set in our ideas and perceptions of who this character is. That gives us a really strange and unique opportunity with this story to subvert expectation and to not be constrained by everything that came before, but instead take this 76 years of history and turn it into something different.”
Thus, while we don’t know for sure if Gotham will ever give us the fully-realized version of the Batman mythology’s Clown Prince of Crime, Monaghan seems to indicate that the character’s manifestation will continue in its oblique manner. Indeed, while the puzzling approach might rub some audiences, notably Batman purists, the wrong way, Monaghan’s performances as (the unofficial Joker) Jerome have been powerful, allowing the young actor and co-star of Showtime comedy Shameless to embrace a breakout role. Moreover, Monaghan is definitely on board with the idea of Jerome making a fateful fall into some chemicals to become the iconic villain, stating:
"Yes, I would like to see Jerome become the Joker. Of course, I would. As a performer and an actor, that would give me such great opportunities to be able to perform. At the same time, maybe they'll go a different way. I don't know for sure but I'm excited to see where it leads because I've been a fan of everything they've been doing involving the Joker mythos on the show. It's been a lot of fun and I can't wait to see what's next.”
Gotham just took off for a winter hiatus, set to resume Season 3 when it returns on Fox on April 24.
The Walking Dead hasn’t given Rick Grimes cause to smile in a long time, but the showrunner hints it will very soon.
It has been well established that a good portion of The Walking Dead viewers were not having a good time in the first half of the highly-anticipated Season 7, watching their favorite characters get brutally killed and/or constantly tortured and humiliated. Thus, even when rumblings started to emanate from the likes of key personnel like showrunner Scott M. Gimple hinting major tonal changes in the second half, many remain understandably incredulous. However, Gimple’s latest Season 7 comments – while admittedly thin – are quite provocative.
Speaking to EW, Gimple, who, back in December, teased “a very different vibe” for The Walking Dead Season 7B, reaffirms the veracity that statement and qualifies it in a uniquely minimalistic manner. With Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes and company finally finding their purpose with plans to meet with King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and his group of potential allies the Kingdom, we already know that the midseason return will kick off the planning of a long-overdue reprisal. Possibly revelatory in his brevity, Gimple explains of the 7B premiere:
“It propels us into a very different half season from the one before it. Before the end of that very first episode back, you will see Rick Grimes smile.”
We’ve seen Rick smile on many occasions, notably with his recent show-shipper-pleasing romance with Danai Gurira’s zombie-apocalypse samurai Michonne – there’s nothing intrinsically newsworthy about that idea. However, given what Rick has experienced at the hands of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his unmerry band of ravagers the Saviors, there is a more sinister context to the idea of Rick smiling.
Put yourself in Rick’s shoes: you were just humbled in the most definitive way, forced to watch two of your closest friends get their brains bashed by a snarky lunatic, almost forced to chop off your son’s arm to mollify said lunatic’s sense of security, forced to sit back and watch as your best friend is capture and tortured, forced to sit back while said lunatic’s buddies run roughshod over your home and neighborhood, all while being forced to donate most of your stuff – including all your guns – to his selfish cause.
Consequently, whatever occurrence could possibly make one smile after all that is probably nothing less than unmitigated, wanton revenge. In fact, such an idea would mirror what co-star Norman Reedus recently said of the mental state of his character Daryl Dixon, the aforementioned best friend who spent Season 7A locked in a dark closet, fed dog food sandwiches and endured a creatively sadistic variety of humiliation. While the upcoming Season 7B was shot well before the feedback arrived for 7A, it does seem that the Saviors-dominant season was always designed to build up its torturous tension toward a presumably satisfying second-half payoff. Whether that will successfully be accomplished as the show adapts the "All Out War" storyline of the comic book series, remains to be seen.
The Walking Dead readies a return rife with revenge when the series resumes Season 7 on AMC on February 12.
The Gangs of New York didn’t know what hit them when The Black Hand came calling.
Leonardo DiCapio, who played a street tough in Martin Scorsese’s early New York City crime drama The Gangs of New York, will clean up those city streets in the upcoming The Black Hand. DiCaprio will produce and star in an adaptation of the book by Stephan Talty for Paramount.
The Black Hand: The Epic War Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret Society in American History will be published in April. The story is set in New York City in crime wave of the summer of 1903. A group of new immigrant criminals was preying on lower Manhattan and leaving a calling card with the figure of a Black Hand at crime scenes. DiCaprio will play Detective Joseph Petrosino, who was called “Italian Sherlock Holmes,” who took the fight against crime from New York to Sicily.
Petrosino was an Italian immigrant who spoke the language of the criminals and the people they preyed on. He went after The Black Hand operators with a zeal that came from protecting the countrymen and the country of his birth. Long before mob boss Joe Colombo started the Italian American Anti-Defamation League to keep the word “mafia” out of the movie The Godfather, Petrosino didn’t want people to associate Italians with crime.
Petrosino was assassinated by the Black Hand in 1909 in Palermo, Sicily. He thought he was meeting with an informant.
Talty has had six nonfiction books on the New York Times bestseller list and ghost wrote A Captain’s Duty, which the movie Captain Phillips was based on. Tally will next publish Under the Same Sky which tells the story of a North Korean boy during the Great Famine.
DiCaprio will produce The Black Hand through his Appian Way banner along with The Gotham Group's Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Jeremy Bell. Jennifer Davisson is also producing along with Nathaniel Posey.
After a soggy season 7A, The Walking Dead needs some help getting back on track. We offer some solutions.
This Walking Dead article contains spoilers for the TV show and comic.
There is a malaise surrounding cable TV’s most popular scripted show.
Ratings for The Walking Dead are down across the board. The premiere episode was the highest rated episode since the season five premiere, but the following episode shed close to five million viewers and then hit a four-year low for episode six.
Perhaps this is to be expected with any show going into its seventh season. Nothing can gain viewers and influence people forever. We’re a culture of the now, and even despite the ratings slide, The Walking Dead remains cable TV’s crown Nielsen jewel. Unfortunately, there has been an equally troubling slide in the creative output for the show.
Rotten Tomatoes estimates the critical consensus to be that this is the least positively reviewed season of The Walking Dead yet. Our own Walking Dead critic-in-residence’s reviews have included increasingly desperate pleas to cut down on episode length in season 7A*. Even the people involved seem to be urging viewers to stick with the show through this down period and are promising season 7B will be more lively.
*Since the Walking Dead splits each season into two eight-episode blocks, we will refer to the first half as 7A and the second as 7B.
So what exactly is wrong with The Walking Dead currently? The plot is right in the heart of Robert Kirkman’s comic book series. The comic series’ most famous antagonist, Negan, is now onscreen and being portrayed capably by charismatic actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Where and how could things go so wrong?
There are a couple of answers at play here, that both kind of feed into each other. The first is strangely enough: stability. Stability seems like it would be a good thing for a TV show and oftentimes that is the case. Many of our finest dramatic TV show offerings have been the consistent, stable vision of one man or woman.* The Walking Dead’s network siblings offer two excellent examples. Both Mad Men and Breaking Bad represented the full, compromised visions of Matthew Weiner and Vince Gilligan, respectively.
*Naturally almost always a man because society is still apparently working through this whole women in the entertainment industry thing now.
Many creative people were involved in bringing Mad Men and Breaking Bad to the screen, and there was plenty of room for improvisation along the way, but at the end of the day there was one auteur running the show through his own unique vision, year after year.
Creative consistency worked for those shows as it does for most shows. For whatever reason, however, The Walking Dead does not flourish under consistent creative leadership. The Walking Dead historically has preferred chaos.
Filmmaker Frank Darabont was the person who did the most to bring The Walking Dead comic adaptation to air. Darabont was a Weiner/Gilligan-style auteur to the bone and brought along his own unique vision to the show. This largely involved massive deviations from the source material and sometimes intriguing, sometimes boring elements of melodrama. AMC fired him halfway through season two over creative disputes and appointed his protege Glen Mazzara to showrunner.
Mazzara brought a more action-oriented sensibility to the very important prison arc of the show, before he too was relieved from showrunning duties. AMC had lost two showrunners from the highest rated scripted show on television within 18 months. They then elevated writer Scott Gimple to the position of showrunner prior to the show’s fourth season.
The show that Gimple inherited must have been an absolute shitshow behind the scenes. Still Gimple was able to create some worthwhile television out of it. Gimple was best known for writing the popular “18 Months Out” and “Clear” episodes of the show. They were both slower-moving, more introspective episodes but they undoubtedly worked. Gimple brought that smaller-story-writing sensibility along with an increased reverence for Kirkman’s source material to seasons four and five.
Every season of The Walking Dead has its detractors and popular complaints, but those fourth and fifth seasons under Gimple’s lead were creative high points. The front half of season four was exciting but shallow, while the back half was slow-moving but substantive. The first half of season five was probably the best of the bunch, perfectly adapting the “Hunters” storyline from the comic and bringing our main group of characters as close to being monsters than ever before. The back half of season five even brought the characters to an exciting new location: the Alexandria Safe-Zone, which promised that we could see even more of the beloved plotlines, characters, and locations from the comic. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened.
The issue with The Walking Dead currently is that it’s behind the scenes operations have become too stable, and therefore the show has come to trust in the comic storyline too much. In an alternate universe, showrunner Scott Gimple was fired after season five due to more internal AMC strife and seasons six and seven carried on under yet another creative vision. The Walking Dead craves chaos. Instead, what The Walking Dead has had for the past three years is too much stability - no reason to change the status quo. The advertisers are presumably happy, the fans were happy (up until the season six finale cliffhanger at least), and Robert Kirkman is happy that he gets to see his vision faithfully reproduced onscreen.
It’s not Gimple’s fault the show is suffering creatively. He’s a talented writer and by all indication a talented showrunner as well. But the model under which The Walking Dead is set up doesn’t need a permanent showrunner. It needs diversity of vision, it needs the unexpected… especially if Kirkman is serious about the show going at least another five seasons. Which leads us to the second issue with The Walking Dead: it is adapting the comics too faithfully.
Adapting a comic book to a TV show or movie should seem like a slam dunk. After all, what is a comic book if not a series of storyboards for a potential camera to capture? The thing is, there is a stark difference between the two visual mediums that must be accounted for in translation. What works on the page doesn’t always work on the screen even though the page seems to be almost literally dictating what could be put on a screen.
Perhaps the best example in recent times is the Zack Snyder film adaptation of Alan Moore’s comic classic Watchmen. Watchmen the comic is hugely concerned with realism. It’s a story that places masked vigilantes in the “real world” (or an alternate version of the 80s where Nixon is still president) and explores the consequences thereof. The Batman analog is slightly depressive with a dad bod. The Superman equivalent is so immensely powerful and immortal that the concept of life itself seems to have become boring and overrated. And at least two other “heroes” are just garden-variety sociopaths.
Watchmen was translated to film almost as literally as possible, with one large deviation to the ending.* And the end result was something that felt more like a comic book than a mature meditation on superheroes in the real world. Watchmen the movie failed to address and respect the themes of Watchmen the book just by merely being too loyal to the source material. Oftentimes when TV and movies adapt comics, the end result feels like a misplaced comic book somehow awkwardly wandered onto a screen instead of the movie or TV show presenting the values and themes of the comic itself.
*I maintain that the ending of Watchmen the movie is better than the ending of the comic. Fight me.
The Walking Dead is currently experiencing that same issue. Gimple, fellow exec producers, and Kirkman, for all their talent, thoughtfulness, and well-meaning, are adapting The Walking Dead to death. Season six and now season seven represent the most faithful adaptation of the comic books yet and it’s killing all the momentum, spontaneity, and chaos that makes The Walking Dead great when it’s at it’s best.
Let’s just take a quick walk back through season 7A’s episodes to see how faithfully adapted they are.
Season 7A of The Walking Dead covers issues 100 through 112 almost in their entirety. It begins with the iconic “lineup” in which Negan bashes Glenn’s brains in with Lucille. The only real difference being that Abraham is killed as well, just two “issues” after his comic counterpart. From there the rest of the season feels predestined to cover ground that the comic has covered in an almost obligatory manner.
The Kingdom and Ezekiel are introduced because they must be, not because they fit the context the show has created thus far. The most egregious example of over-adaptation is the season’s fourth episode “Service” in which Negan pays a visit to Alexandria and viewers are “treated to” what amounts to a 60-ish minute inventory count. The whole thing seems predictable and obligatory, not fresh and exciting. It exists because it exists in the comic and the writers will be damned if they aren’t able to include the line “I just slid my dick down your throat and you thanked me for it.”
The penultimate episode, “Sing Me a Song,” was capably produced but again feels the pain of being too faithfully adapted. Comic book readers were pleased to see an episode that was lifted almost entirely from the comics. But that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Adaptation is an art. It’s not just carbon copying. And the world of The Walking Dead the TV show just doesn’t seem to fit with the world being adapted from the comic. It’s strange and jarring for a show to spend an entire season on a pastoral farm, debating the nature of life and then later on feature what can only be described as a supervillain’s lair made out of an abandoned power station, where muscled up goons with tattoos worship their supreme leader.
Some of this stuff is cool and some of this stuff works, but too much of it doesn’t. The world of the show isn’t the world of the comic, and oftentimes forcing the comic onto a TV screen makes the sets feel too much like sets, rather than a richly-realized universe. The Walking Dead boasts some of the most excellent make-up and production teams on television and they are done a disservice by having to dogmatically recreate something that worked on the page of a comic. It makes everything feel like a sound stage.
The comics demanded the introduction of “a larger world” for the TV show. And the show was not fully ready for that larger world, structurally-wise. The Walking Dead for many seasons was expansive and free, as its characters traversed a post-apocalyptic landscape. Now it’s a group of actors on sets reciting lines.
So it’s time for The Walking Dead to free itself of its comic constraints. Not that the comic is necessarily constraining - if anything it’s too expansive. I’m not even suggesting that the show abandon the “All Out War” plot line to come. But they have to do something different. Right now the only questions that viewers can ask about the future of The Walking Dead is what show characters will stand in for comic characters in upcoming plotlines. That’s not chaotic enough. That’s not fun enough. It’s too perfunctory. A show about the dead walking the Earth should be surprising and chaotic.
The Walking Dead, like all good television, is a collection of poignant, empathetic moments. The show deserves to find and create its own moments instead of borrowing them from another source. Because those don’t always fit.
The second half of The Walking Dead season 7 premieres on Feb. 12.
Is Jerome the Joker on Gotham? if all the references on the latest three episodes are, it seems like he is.
So, Gothamis on its midseason break right now, and we won't be getting any new episodes until early 2017. So you know what you can do? Dig in to all the craziness you might have missed between the lines of every single episode so far this season.
Every week, we've been breaking down the Gothameaster eggs that you might have missed, whether it was a Batman reference or something dealing with the wider DC Universe (and we'll do it again when the show returns). This is our episode by episode guide to every DC Comics and Batman reference on Gotham season 3.
How does it work? It's simple! Just hit the dropdown menu at the top and/or bottom of the article to navigate to specific episodes you want to check out. Each page if a full article unpacking all of the craziest Gothamreferences in the first 11 episodes of season three.
Let's get started...but beware of spoilers!
- Great use of Clayface this week as the pliable rogue returns to Gotham. Clayface appeared in a two parter last season and it seemed like the character was going to put out to pasture like the rest of the Hugo Strange created freaks. Yet, Basil Karlo makes a nice surprising and important return in “Ghosts.” The master of disguise shtick is more akin to the Golden Age version of Clayface rather than the Silver Age and Batman: The Animated Series shape shifting mudman version of the character, and it’s really cool to see the classic villain play a pivotal role in Gotham once again instead just of being a one and done name drop.
- Once again, James Gordon takes down Victor Zsasz and just leaves without calling backup or arresting the bald killer. Is Gotham just trolling us now? How can we be asked to believe that Gordon isn’t at least incapacitating Zsasz or calling Bullock to corral the known psychotic hitman? That’s twice the show would have us believe that Gordon would leave Zsasz unsupervised to kill again and it was pretty damn silly the first time.
- Of course, it's always great to see the return of Paul Reubens as Penguin's dad, essentially reprising his role from Batman Returns.
- Not every actor gets to play a Joker minion twice, but that’s exactly what happened this week as actor David Dastmalchian returned to the live action world of Batman. This week, Dastmalchian plays Dwight Pollard, the Victor Frankenstein like morgue worker that wants to bring Jerome back to life. As many of you will recall, Dastmalchian also played one of Heath Ledger’s minions in The Dark Knight. Remember, he was the dude Harvey Dent tied up before the DA went full Two-Face.
In an intense and memorable scene, Dent pressed the gun to Dastmalchian’s head until he was interrupted by Batman. Dastmalchian was all twitchy and wonderful in the role kicking off his comic book film career. Dastmalchian also played Scott Lang’s Russian hacker pal in Ant-Man. One wonders if DC can somehow find a role for Dastmalchian as one of Jared Leto’s minions in an upcoming film.
- The big, obvious comic book reference in “Smile Like You Mean It” comes from the insta-classic “Batman: Death of the Family” storyline. Yes, Gothamites, we’re talking about the Joker’s skinned face. The Clive Barker-esque skinned Joker look was created by Scott Snyder and Greg Capulo and became a cosplay classic almost immediately.
For those not familiar with the storyline, early on in the New 52 era, Joker willfully had his face skinned by the psychotic Dollmaker. Joker then goes into exile for a year but returns with his visage strapped to his flailed head. Capullo’s design is one of the most no fooling intensely creepy looking things in Batman history and Gotham did a very good job matching that aesthetic.
In “Death of the Family,” the skinned Joker goes after Batman’s extended family, claiming that Alfred, Batgirl, and all the Robins distract Batman from his only true family- the Joker himself. After Batman defeats the Joker at the end this story arc, a character that goes by the name of Joker’s Daughter finds and begins wearing the skinned face. When Joker returns, his face is restored, but the time the Joker wore his face like a mask of comedy remains a horrifically memorable time in the Joker’s twisted history.
- I now really want Jerome to truly be the Joker because man, does Jerome just bring energy to this series. He’s even rocking the obvious Heath Ledger voice now.
If Jerome is the Joker, the character’s origins have become a whole lot more convoluted. The comic origin is simple and elegant. You know the deal, before he was the Clown Prince of Crime, the man that would one day be Batman’s greatest enemy took the identity of the Red Hood and fell into a vat of chemicals during a robbery. The chemicals bleached his skin and drove him mad, and the Joker was born. In Gotham, we now have the circus, the resurrection, the gang, the skinned face, and a whole lot more than a simple slip and fall during a robbery. It may be overly complex, but Jerome still rocks.
- Jerome’s disciples really reminds on the Batman Beyond’s The Jokerz. The Jokerz are a street gang that run rampant in the far future of Gotham City. This gang of street clowns pay homage to the OG Joker and it’s ironic that a series like Gotham that is set in the past is effectively utilizing a concept born in the future.
- Did you see Bruce and Selena going at it this week? This won’t be the last time Selena Kyle throws fists and feet Bruce’s way, but the next time might be on a moonlit rooftop while the both wear Kevlar and leather. I swear future Cat and Bat are channeling a little Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer as they throw down.
Well, someone in the Gotham writers’ room has been watching some ’66 Batman lately because "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies" features not one but two classically convoluted death traps. First, there is the Riddler’s over the top ice and acid bit of business and then there is Jerome’s overstuffed canon routine. It’s always nice to pay tribute to the Adam West era classics, but if you’re really going to do a death trap, maybe you should parse them out a bit. Each one might have had more story oomph if there weren't two narrow escapes, you know?
- There are more classic Joker gags than you can shake a 10,000 volt joy buzzer at. First there is the carnival itself. Of course, the Joker had his own death carnival in many a Batman comic, but the most famous use of a lethal big top was in the immortal The Killing Joke, where Batman put Gordon through the ultimate house of horrors. In that unforgettable Alan Moore and Brian Bolland story, Joker forces Jim Gordon to endure a funhouse ride just hours after Joker shoots and cripples Barbara Gordon. Joker forces Gordon to stare at projected images of his daughter’s broken, bleeding, and naked form until Batman saves the Commissioner. Nothing quite so dark in "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies" but just seeing Gordon go up against Jerome under the big top reminded me off that brutal moment that is forever burned in the brains of multiple generations of Batfans.
- We also get to see Jerome use killer piranhas this episode. Killer fish play a part in two classic Joker stories. Of course, there is the great Bronze Age story “The Laughing Fish” that appeared in Detective Comics#475 (1978) by Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers. In this issue, the Clown Prince of Crime uses his Joker gas to put little smiles on the fish of Gotham City in order to trademark the fishies that are now emblazoned with his grinning visage. When Joker finds out that fish are natural resources that can’t be copywritten, Joker salves his disappointment with a murderous rampage that fans of classic Batman tales will still remember.
The second famous Joker fish moment is in the classic “Mad Love” episode of Batman: The Animated Series where Harley devises a death trap where Batman is hung over a piranha tank. The Joker angrily questions Harley to why that’s funny, to which Harley replies that when Batman is upside down, the fish look like they’re smiling. This little punchline angers the Joker who strikes Harley leading to one of the most disturbing and powerful moments of domestic violence ever to appear in an animated cartoon. The moment forever defines Harley as she was able to eventually fight back from the Joker’s abuse and become the solo star she is today. And it all began with a piranha.
- "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies" features the first time Bruce Wayne will go one on one with a killer clown. We don’t know if Jerome is really the Joker, but his house of mirrors battle with Bruce was the first dance with death that Batman and a killer chaos clown will share.
- Bruce and Jerome’s exchange about the true face of evil beneath the citizens of Gotham City really echoes the climax of The Dark Knight where Christian Bale’s Batman and Heath Ledger’s Joker have almost the exact exchange when Joker rigs up two ferries to explode during Joker’s little social experiment. Hey listen, if you got to homage, homage from the best, right Gotham?
- Most importantly, "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies" features the moment Bruce Wayne decides that he will never kill. One of the most oft debated comic in Bat history is the question of why Batman just doesn’t kill the Joker. That question is addressed this week and there is a great historical irony about the fact that the first person Bruce refuses to kill is Jerome, the proto-Joker.
- The wardrobes of Edward Nygma and Oswald Cobblepot are becoming more and more familiar each week. Between Penguin’s purple tie and the future Riddler’s green blazer if you squint, it’s like classic Riddler and Penguin going at it.
Hit the next pages for the previous episodes!
We talked to the co-creator of All Time Comics about his new superhero universe.
All Time Comics is maybe the most unexpected comic in the game right now. It’s a new shared superhero universe from the minds of Josh and Sam Bayer, and from the printing presses of Fantagraphics, noted publishers of…not…superhero…comics. Its very existence is a contradiction, and contradictions reverberate through the project. It’s superhero stuff from legends like Al Milgrom and Herb Trimpe, but also from indie darlings like Noah Van Sciver and Ben Marra.
These are contradictions that Josh Bayer, in an exclusive interview with Den of Geek, owned. “All Time Comics is…a square with round edges,” he told us. “It has combinations of sincere earnestness in this endeavor, some attempts to be straight, some touches of satire, and a few other things as well.”
“Think of these as the weird superhero comics from 1979 that you never read.”
The project “evolved organically,” says Bayer. He and his brother Sam, a legendary music video director behind “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Blind Melon’s “No Rain,” have been collaborating off and on for 20 years. He brought the ideas, characters and a budget to Josh (“Every Velvet Underground needs an Andy Warhol behind it,” he said), who has been making underground comics for almost 30 years, and Josh reached out to a colleague from Fantagraphics who helped them put the entire project together. Having a budget available allowed them to reach out to Trimpe and Milgrom “legend[s] in comics” who get left behind by the industry all too frequently.
But having them on board for ATC is a joy because their generation is where the roots of this universe firmly lie: “Steve Gerber’s Defenders and Omega the Unknown, Al Milgrom’s art from Secret Wars 2, ROM [Spaceknight]” are all comics from where he drew inspiration. “I think a perfect comic is Daredevil 219 by Frank Miller, John Buscema, and the great inker Gary Talaoc.”
Nowhere is that influence of mid period Marvel more evident than in the structure of the universe and its heroes. The shared universe aspect will make the reader feel as if she has been dropped into a bustling super-hero world mid-story: one comic issue “that’s got 170 other issues [surrounding] it,” but that make the story feel lived in rather than heavy.
As for the characters, Blind Justice is Batman filtered through Raymond Chandler and Death Wish, “a mentally imbalanced crime fighting zealot” who “lives in a broken down trauma ward…pretending to be catatonic.” The bandaged crime fighter is the street-level hero of the ATC universe.
Atlas is the character with the most traditional superhero trappings. He works as a mild-mannered city planning employee by day, “an agency we picked because it sounds so ‘comic books,’” (something sure to tickle the nerds over in city planning) who discovered massive alien machines beneath Optic City that transformed him into Atlas. He was granted super strength, flight, and Ultra Matter Vision, but fear can cripple his powers.
Atlas is the most super powered character. He can fly and lift mountains and has special Ultra Matter Vision. He discovered these massive alien machines in tunnels under Optic City while working as a city planning employee - which is an agency we picked because it sounds so ‘comic books,’ like it’s full of important business that reader doesn't have to quite understand it to get it, the same way a wall of machinery in a superheroes headquarters is accepted as evidence of functioning high tech science. He was transformed into Atlas, and his powers are dependent on him not becoming afraid. Fear can kill his abilities, so if he becomes afraid in the middle of a mission he can die. It’s a potent idea and goes back to the idea of a superhero with fatal flaws of who operates under magical principles that can get erased with a single thought.
Stem DeFrieze is Crime Destroyer, a riff on classic ‘70s anti-heroes.
“My brother loves the film Rolling Thunder, and my favorite 70s post-war revenge film is Johnny Thundercloud,” said Bayer. DeFrieze watches his family murdered before his very eyes, so to get his revenge on the criminal filth who did that to him, he puts on a battle suit with shoulder pads shaped like fists, grabs an enormous gun, kits out a Trans Am with LMGs and goes to town on crime. Readers will note from the attached graphic that this description significantly undersells the banananess of his costume.
Bullwhip is the lone woman hero in the lineup, and the biggest surprise to Bayer to write. He was concerned because “writing a female character was a new thing” for him, but he was so full of ideas for her world that she was a blast. She is mission-oriented, has no life outside of her work as a superhero, and has a full Rogues Gallery that keep her busy.
And, of course, no comic universe would be complete without a handbook guide to accompany it, which Bayer and company have produced in painstaking, glorious detail. All Time Comics: Crime Destroyer #1is in comic shops this March. Stay with Den of Geek for more news about this and other more predictable comics.
Remember the comic book from the newest Logan trailer? We know who drew it now.
You know how the whole internet was freaking out about the comics from the new Logan trailer? Okay, by "whole internet" I may mean like, 7 of us. But in our defense, they're great looking comic pages that signal some weird, weird timeline stuff for the upcoming movie.
Putting an end to the speculation, Joe Quesada, the artist behind Batman: Sword of Azrael and X-Factor #87 and also the Chief Creative Officer at Marvel posted on his Tumblr that he penciled the header pic, as well as others that will be used in the film. Dan Panosian then went over his linework to give it a "90s ink and coloring style."
These pages look outstanding, and even in early stages they look very different from Quesada's other work. Quesada's style is distinctive, exaggerate,d and muscular. Even today, there's a '90s feel to his art, like he captured all the excitement and energy of the art at the time, but it's also technically proficient and can compose more than just entertaining figures. But this art has none of the exaggeration, and looks almost photorealistic. Honestly, if I hadn't been scouring IMDB at the time and found Hardman's name as a storyboard artist (solid predicting record there, Jim!) I would have guessed Francesco Francavilla.
Either way, there's more process fun at the link, including inking and colored versions that give you a little glimpse of what might just be one of the X-Men's off-camera adventures in the movie universe. Check it out!
While FX’s X-Men-inspired series Legion isn’t christened in the movie canon, creator Noah Hawley implies that it could be, eventually.
FX’s upcoming sci-fi drama Legion arrives with Marvel Comics baggage, since its titular protagonist is a powerful mutant straight out of the X-Men comic book lore, specifically a troubled young man whose existence wasn’t known to his father, Professor Charles Xavier. However, don’t expect too much name-dropping on the television series, since there will be a measure of ambiguity about its X-Men connections. Yet, especially in light of the recent report of an X-Men-related series at Fox, creator Noah Hawley thinks that could one day change.
Speaking with Variety, creator and executive producer of Legion Noah Hawley sheds some light on the much-discussed subject of the series’ alleged connection to the live-action cinematic canon of the X-Men film series; a subject that has been muddled by several contradictory statements from studio personnel over the past year. The series won’t be coming out the gate waxing ecstatic about Xavier, Magneto, the X-Men, etc. However, unlike in Marvel Studios’ successfully sprawling live-action continuity, the franchise-indicative “m-word” of mutant is very much on the table. Thus, a fine line is being walked. According to Hawley:
“I think it’s important for us to establish this as a fully realized world with fully realized characters. It does connect and it can connect, but I’m not relying on that. I have to prove myself. I have to prove that the show is good enough to incorporate those elements from the movie world, if that were ever possible.”
Legion is young mutant David Haller, who, in the X-Men comic book lore is the son the powerful psychic Charles Xavier who has his own unique abilities, classifying him as an omega level mutant, a taxonomy for mutants potent enough to bend time itself. David’s psychic powers result in him absorbing the personalities of those he scans, resulting in the manifestation of those personalities; a condition that is mistaken for schizophrenia. Likewise, put through the continuity filter, the FX Legion series stars Dan Stevens as David, troubled, institutionalized and questioning the very foundation of his reality. Indeed, as Hawley describes of its divorce from familiar X-Men concepts:
“They decided not to tell the story. There were a lot of people who were disappointed by that, because the story is so good, and they didn’t tell it.”
However, referencing his other job as showrunner for FX’s small screen adaptation of the Coen Brothers’ Fargo, Hawley explains that, in the very least, Legion needs to get itself off the ground before extravagant comic book-adherent ideas like Magneto’s Brotherhood, Apocalypse or the Hellfire Club can even evoke a reference, much less direct involvement. According to Hawley:
“With Fargo, I’m going to tell you a story, and it’s going to feel like you’re watching a Coen brothers movie. And here I’m going to tell you a story and it’s going to feel like that world that you love and those comics that you love, yet because it’s not based on material that you know, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Legion will launch focusing on the tortured subconscious state of Dan Stevens’s David Haller, who traditionally adopted the moniker "Legion" as a reference to his multiple personalities, based on the Biblical quote, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” However, Hawley’s teases of the series’ prospective codification in the proper X-Men lore are far from empty, especially with the revelation of Fox's new television pilot that is very much rooted in the X-Men canon, directed by the franchise’s repertory visionary, Bryan Singer. Consequently, fans should consider Season 1 of Legion to be an audition for its place in the greater continuity.
Legion looks to put a pathological Mr. Robot-type spin on the mutant mythology when it arrives on FX on February 8.
If you think "Riverdale" is the first time Archie has gotten weird, you are very mistaken.
Much hoopla has been made in the media thus far about how the CW's Riverdale series is dark and foreboding. "Archie meets Twin Peaks" is the general spin on the series, and while that is definitely accurate it overlooks a very crucial fact: Riverdale has actually been a strange place for decades.
While the setting for idyllic tales of love triangles and endless milkshakes is still primarily a place of carefree innocence, there have been plenty of times when the rustic little hamlet of hamburgers has been home to knife fights, parallel universes, and, naturally, demonic teddy bears.
While Archie has you covered on the stories that inspired the new TV series in their Road to Riverdale trade, we thought we'd take a look back at some darker influences on the show taken directly from the company's 75-year history.
Riverdale: A Haven of Sin?
The most notorious of all Archie publications were the bizarre off-brand religious-themed titles published by Spire Christian Comics (later released by Barbour Christian Comics) in which the Riverdale gang suddenly and without any explanation were all about God and Jesus and their groovy scene, man. With titles like Archie and Big Ethel, Archie's Circus, Archie's One Way, and Archie's Festival, 19 of these evangelical comics were published between 1977 and 1982.
How did such a thing happen? It all comes down to Al Hartley, easily the most divisive writer/illustrator in Archie history due to his overtly cartoony style...and his personal beliefs invading his work. A long-time industry veteran, Hartley became a born again Christian in 1967...and eventually he began placing his religious views in Archie books. (Ahem).
Eventually he was instructed to keep his stories secular, but then after he was contacted by Christian publisher the Fleming H. Revell Company he struck upon the idea of outsourcing the Archie characters to star in comics that would be sold exclusively in religious bookstores. Archie founder John Goldwater agreed, and the weirdest period in the characters' history was off and running.
Not to disparage anyone's religious beliefs, but using these characters to try to preach was an iffy proposition at best. First and foremost is the fact that the infamously intolerant Chick Tracts already have the market cornered on trying to get people cool on Christ (with questionable results to say the least). But there's also the strangeness that comes from the fact that a comic that is at its very core about fun and romance is suddenly tossing that all aside to denouce the core tenets of Archiedom in favor of a purer, more faith-based message. When these factors are taking into account that in the late-70s Archie wasn't considered the cool comic it is now, the Spire/Barbour books actually damaged their brand by making the characters seem lame and preachy -- an unholy stench that took years for the company to fully shake.
From a 2017 perspective however, these books are AMAZING. Take for example, Archie's Sonshine, in which this miracle occurs:
Yes friends, in this story, Jesus is just a jean-shorted Son of God hanging on the beach (yes, he has a van) telling the youth of Riverdale how cool loving the Lord is -- taking time out only to occasionally make prominent musicians whose alternative lifestyle was deeply offensive to the book's core audience suddenly appear.
And let's not forget the deeply offensive cultural appropriation. Yikes.
So what does any of this have to do with Riverdale? The answer can be found in the most popular (i.e. most unbelievable) of the Hartley Christian comics, Archie's Date Book, which brings sex and violence into the lives of our wholesome heroes like never before.
Which of course leads to this conclusion:
Hopefully Betty won't be watching Riverdale as it's probably not in line with her belief system.
Little Archie's Malevolent World of Wonder
You may not realize it, but there's a bad part of Riverdale inhabited by a gang of bikers known as the Southside Serpents. This may seem like something 100% created for TV, but its origins can be traced back to the 1950s, when the group of ruffians made their debut in the pages of Bob Bolling's fantastic Little Archie comic.
Fractured innocence making its way in Archie pre-Riverdale? Yes, and it's something that this book excelled at.
Little Archie is a true contradiction. On one hand it is an exploration of childhood wonder, a landscape that is populated by outer space Santa Clauses and clubhouse adventures where no whimiscal journey -- be it with talking frogs or just school friends -- is always within reach. But then there is the flipside to the book that conjures up primordial adolescent fears -- violence, robberies, car crashes, home invasions. (When subsuequent artist/writer Dexter Taylor took over the title, its darker elements were toned down, and the book was never the same).
These crimes are all regular features in Bob Bolling's run on Little Archie, making readers wonder how real-life events from Bolling's own childhood like the abduction and murder of the Lindbergh baby flavored his work in the same way it did his contemporaries like Maurice Sendak. It was also a place of random meanness, something Little Archie was both the victim and perpetrator of.
What remains the most compelling feature about Bolling's work here is how it showed that adventure stories could co-exist alongside of the typical Archie characterizations, a weirdly schizophrenic tone that Riverdale is quickly making its trademark.
1970s Archie: A Reflection of the Times
The 1970s were an era of uncertainty and tumult when the headlines shouted one bad story after another. (Anyone else experiencing deja vu right now?) Given the state of the country and how Archie comics have mirrored society at large since the very beginning, it was just a matter of time before real-life started impacting Riverdale. Thus stories about environmentalism, corruption and all manner of societal ills began appearing in the pages of the more issue-based comics like Life with Archie and Archie at Riverdale High.
Then something really interesting happened. Seeing the response that these gritty, more dramatic stories were getting, Archie decided to double down by having more melodramatic subject matter take center stage.
Soon, all bets were off, and Archie found themselves dipping their toes in creating everything from horror comics...
...to a multi-issue run on the company's Betty and Me title that worked as a spoof of the era's TV series Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman as well as soap operas and adventure comics in general.
Elsewhere in the Archieverse, even Josie and the Pussycats were getting a piece of the adventure action.
Sci-fi stories were not off limits either...
The legacy of these books is that that are examples of a time in which Archie was willing to shake up its established formula in an attempt to try something new. The ramifications of this experimental period are still being felt, and given Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's deep knowledge of Archie lore, it will be a surprise if some elements from these books don't turn up on TV at some point.
The First High-Profile Crossover
In 1994, Archie comics had a bit of fun at their own expense when Archie Meets the Punisher hit stores. Writer Batton Lash crafted a tale that respects both iconic characters while still finding time to point out some of their ridiculous qualities (a nice touch was pairing up Marvel artist John Buscema and Archie's Stan Goldberg to handle illustration work for their respective characters).
This one-shot showed that Archie can be every bit as relevant as the buzz-worthy books Marvel and DC were coming out with. And while subsequent works like the introduction of openly gay character Kevin Keller, the oddball Life with Archie: The Married Life book (which covered everything from parallel universes to the highly publicized death of Archie), and the Afterlife with Archie comic get all the credit, the DNA for Archie's current renaissance can be found right within the pages of this book.
It seems that while Riverdale the show is getting all the credit for making Archie weird, Riverdale the town has long been an incredibly strange place. And Archie fans wouldn't have it any other way.
Sonequa Martin-Green discusses what her historical starring role in Star Trek: Discovery means for Sasha on The Walking Dead.
Warning: Some spoilers about The Walking Dead comic book series.
The Walking Dead’s Sonequa Martin-Green landed the prospective role of a lifetime when it was announced in December that she will star in the CBS serial streaming revival of a sci-fi icon in Star Trek: Discovery. However, the luster of being the first African-American woman to headline a Trek series does manage to cover bittersweet afterthoughts when it comes to implications for Sasha Williams, her current character on the undead juggernaut cable series. Now, the actress chimes in on this potentially revelatory situation.
Speaking to EW about the apparent dilemma in which her starring role as a still-unnamed lieutenant commander on Star Trek: Discovery has placed Sasha on The Walking Dead, Sonequa Martin-Green is vague, due to the obvious necessity of keeping national security-like secrets for two of television’s highest profile shows. However, she didn’t exactly shy away from acknowledging the situation. As she laughingly answers about her character-juggling quandary:
“Well, I can’t say anything. I can say that the story [on The Walking Dead] is as impactful and powerful and dynamic as it always has been, and there’s nothing to worry about where that’s concerned.”
Martin-Green’s Sasha – a player on The Walking Dead since Season 3 – was introduced as the sister and supporting character of debuting main character Tyreese (Chad Coleman). Four seasons later, Tyreese is dead and Sasha – who doesn’t exist in the comic book source material – has become a main player, manifesting as an amalgam of several comic-character-inspired tropes; notably as the “other woman” in the romantic life of the late Abraham. After becoming an eagle-eyed sharpshooter, enduring a borderline-suicidal crisis and surviving the series’ infamous “Lucille” lineup, Sasha’s personal arc could arguably be at an end. However, showrunner Scott Gimple is casting doubts about that, stating:
“Sonequa Martin-Green can do anything. I’ve seen her battle a horde of walkers this year while simultaneously battling a stomach flu that would have had most people crying in the dirt. She can fulfill the duties of a Lieutenant Commander on a Constitution-class starship whilst battling walkers, Saviors, and whatever gets in Sasha’s way. We’ve had to juggle before. I will certainly juggle for Star Trek any day of the week. Okay, maybe not on Sunday.”
Yet, with Gimple having to publicly play part of a man whose words must be taken with a grain of salt, his comments aren’t exactly substantive. Moreover, Sasha’s role as Abraham’s “other woman” could also prove ominous, since, in the comics, an Alexandria resident named Holly fulfilled this part. Later taken hostage by the Saviors, Holly was dealt (another) famous death from Negan, delivered back to Alexandria with a bag over her head that hid her zombified status, resulting in the comic book death of Dr. Denise – who’s already dead on the series. While it could be argued that spinoff Fear the Walking Dead fulfilled the “bag head walker” ruse in Season 2, Sasha is, nevertheless expendable to the broader storyline. – Do with that what you will.
The Walking Dead returns from its midseason hiatus, purportedly reenergized in tone on AMC on February 12. Star Trek: Discovery, on the other hand, just received another major delay, with its debut date on CBS All Access now up in the air, though presumably still set for 2017.
The Spectacular Now's James Ponsoldt is on board to direct the science fiction short story adaptation.
Arrival producer Shawn Levy is adapting another science fiction short story into a major motion picture. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox 2000 has picked up an untitled pitch based on Larry Niven's Hugo-winning short story Inconstant Moon. (Niven also wrote Ringworld.) That's a lot of faith in an as-of-yet undeveloped project.
James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now), who has Emma Watson's The Circle coming out soon, is attached to direct, with Daniel Casey is on a board to write the script. Casey did script work on 10 Cloverfield Lane and is the writer behind upcoming comic book adaptation Incognito. He also wrote Kin, a science fiction thriller starring James Franco and Jack Reynor, also with Levy as a producer.
Inconstant Moon is a short story set in Los Angeles on the potential eve of the end of the world, asking the questions: what would you do if it were your last night on Earth (a la Seeking a Friend at the End of the World). It follows a couple on the edge of breaking up amidst the global crisis. It was written as part of Niven's 1971 short story collection All the Myriad Ways and won the 1972 Hugo Award for best short story.
Between the announcement of this and the announcement of Michael Bay's Little America, I'm beginning to think Hollywood is just going to spend the next four years making dystopian and/or apocalyptic movies. I would say no to a little light-hearted escapism that has nothing to do with the end of life as we know it. Just so you know, Hollywood.
Imagine if an evil organization took control of our entire government and...nah, it's just too far-fetched.
Information about Mavel's next big event is slowly trickling out, and this one looks like it's going to hit a little close to home.
Marvel released a series of teaser images giving us hints to the next big crossover. The first image, seen in the header, says "Secret Empire" and has Steve Rogers' new shield centered. So it looks like Marvel's next big thing is going to be the Marvel Universe vs. Nazi Captain America, to which I say "fine."
The original Secret Empire was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the pages of Tales to Astonish in 1966. Their composition and makeup seem to be drawn at random, as if Stan and Jack said "you know, Hydra and A.I.M. are cool, but their org charts make too much sense. What can we do with the number 9 that is gibberish by the second word of the explaination?"
Seriously: they're a bunch of numbered people, ruled by a Council of Nine, who hire mercenaries and run false-flag UFO missions. They were started with Hydra funding, they occasionally kidnap mutants, and their secret headquarters was in Cincinnatti. The Secret Empire had their most famous moment in the 1970s during the Nixon administration when Steve Englehart, Mike Friedrich, and Sal Buscema strongly implied that Richard Nixon was actually a Secret Empire operative/plant. The timing of their re-emergence now is, we're sure, purely coincidental.
Reemerging in the pages of Captain America: Steve Rogers,the new Secret Empire's guiding design principle is "What would Twitter look like if Captain America were really a Nazi," making them the most terrifying villains ever created in comics. I bet they've even got their own publishing house, like Simonov and Sapojnik or something.
Marvel followed this initial image up with a series of modifications seeming to indicate additional tie-ins to the crossover - "The Secret Empire will amaze you;""The Secret Empire will guard you;""The Secret Empire will avenge you," and so on. That was followed by a new image:
The teaser images taken as a whole seem to indicate two things: that we'll be getting Secret Empire versions of all of Marvel's teams (the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Champions, the Defenders, the Avengers, the Extraordinary X-Men); and that by pairing Captain Marvel with Nazi Captain America hot on her Civil War 2 heel turn that was so egregious it ruined her solo book, Marvel isn't quite done with Carol yet.
And speaking of hot on the heel turns of Civil War 2, we have Civil War 2: The Oath, which laid out the whole plan. Steve gets sworn in as head of SHIELD with new "emergency powers" that the galactic senate is sure he'll give back once the crisis is over. Meanwhile, Steve's been baiting the Chitauri into invading since pretty much when his solo series kicked off, and they're about to come to Earth in force.
Remember that vision Ulysses had in the pages of Civil War 2 where Miles Morales was standing over the dead body of Captain America on the steps of the capital? Of course you don't, why would you have read that dreck. I assure you it happened, though, because Captain America has been having similar visions, only instead of him lying dead in an alternate universe Spider Man's hands, it's of him leading a Hydra army as they represent the United States thanks to his fancy emergency powers. So there you go: Hydra is out in the open as an American military force, turning the entire country into some facist hellhole in many on-the-nose ways.
This new crossover will be out later this Spring.
We might have to wait a little longer for The Flash movie, as it just picked up a new writer.
This article contains a Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice spoiler. You've been warned.
The Flash movie was supposed to go into production soon, but after losing its director last month, that is now in doubt. Rick Famuyiwa, who replaced previous director Seth Grahame-Smith back in June left the project, apparently over the old, reliable "creative differences." Famuyiwa did a revision of the script that Grahame-Smith had written after work by Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
But with Famuyiwa gone, it's time for another pass on that script, and Variety reports that Joby Harold, who worked on the upcoming King Arthur: Legend Of The Swordfor Warner Bros., is taking a shot at a draft. And not just any shot, he's apparently doing the dreaded "page one rewrite."
The previous draft that Famuyiwa worked on had a role for Ray Fisher as Vic Stone/Cyborg, possibly as a significant piece of the movie. It's not clear if that will still be the case with Harold's draft. At this point, I think we can safely kiss that March 2018 release date goodbye.
At least Ezra Miller isn't going anywhere. “These processes are complicated, and I think it can—from afar—appear to be, as you say, something interpersonal or dramatic,” Mr. Miller told Collider. “That is rarely the case. These are groups of people taking the development of projects extremely seriously, and the teams are changing all the time. There’s often a lot of flux in who the team of the production of a film is before that production starts, and in this case, you hear about it, because it’s a critical figure—the directors that have been coming on and leaving."
"For me, it’s sort of a tragic relay race," he continued, "and we’ve had a couple really incredible people carry this baton, and their marks are left on that baton, and the work that they’ve given to the project will certainly be represented in whatever the final product comes to be.”
"When I was approached by Warner Bros and DC about the possibility of directing The Flash, I was excited about the opportunity to enter this amazing world of characters that I loved growing up, and still do to this day," Mr. Famuyiwa said in a statement (via The Hollywood Reporter)."I was also excited to work with Ezra Miller, who is a phenomenal young actor. I pitched a version of the film in line with my voice, humor, and heart. While it’s disappointing that we couldn’t come together creatively on the project, I remain grateful for the opportunity. I will continue to look for opportunities to tell stories that speak to a fresh generational, topical, and multicultural point of view. I wish Warner Brothers, DC, Jon Berg, Geoff Johns, and Ezra Miller all the best as they continue their journey into the speed force."
With casting underway and a script complete, it might be more of a challenge for Warner Bros. to find a quick and suitable replacement. That THRstory indicates that Famuyiwa wanted to make a movie "with more edge" that wasn't quite in line with what WB had in mind. That could mean just about anything, but, you know, "creative differences" and all that.
How will this affect some of the casting moves that were made while Famuyiwa was involved? "Rick was one of the main reasons I wanted to do the movie," Kiersey Clemons, who will play Iris West in the movie, told The Hollywood Reporter. "So him not being a part of it is obviously very upsetting to me."
The Flash Movie Release Date
The Flash is currently scheduled to open on March 16, 2018. Expect that to move.
The Flash Movie Cast
Ezra Miller will play Barry Allen in The Flash movie, and he made his first appearance as the character in two brief sequences in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and another in an equally brief scene in Suicide Squad. Kiersey Clemons (Dope) will play Iris West.
Billy Crudup (you may know him as Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen if you're looking for more comic book-centric roles) will play Barry Allen's father, Dr. Henry Allen. If that is indeed his role, then The Flash movie will likely turn out to be an origin story.
As for whether Ray Fisher will still be in the movie as Cyborg, DC Extended Universe executive producer Deborah Snyder may have revealed a little about that during an interview with Forbes a while back.
"As you can imagine, when we get to the Flash movie, Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher — who plays Cyborg — are kind of our youngest characters, and they have a really nice comradery with each other," Ms. Snyder said. "Ezra is super funny, so the tone of that film will be very different than the rest of them."
It's not clear if she's talking specifically about The Flash movie or if she's just referring to the room for different tones and points of view within the DC superhero movies. Teaming Flash and Cyborg would not only help set up Cyborg's solo movie, but might help set the film apart from some other superhero movies, too.
The Flash Movie Story
As for what form the movie might take, there are no real details available yet, but Ezra Miller seems to have given it some thought. "Barry Allen is the hero of the Silver Age, who follows a lot of really interesting discoveries in physics", he said. "It's like, where he comes from, we've figured out the event horizon was there, and then he was the character that was created through our mythos machine of comic books to break that event horizon so we could explore in fantasy. I think that's an interesting idea - and also what the fuck does that do to someone?"
One thing we know for sure, it won't have anything to do with The Flash TV series, so you can set that out of your mind. Miller commented on that a little a while back, saying "I think it's awesome! Come on, we're The Flash! It's parallel universes! Grant Gustin is The Flash and I'm The Flash - don't you see? It's the Event Horizon, we crossed it baby!"
There was a hint of the parallel universe angle (or certainly time travel) in the character's brief appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
The Flash Movie Costume
As you can see from the above image from the Justice League teaser, this is a more technologically-based costume than the one we see on the television series. There are indications he'll have a more low-tech version when we meet him in Justice League, before Bruce Wayne helps him get the new one together.
We'll update this with more official info as we get it.
Mark Hamill explains why he thinks President Donald Trump sounds just like Batman supervillains, including the Joker.
There’s just something about the way he speaks, often with his curled lip and always a sense of hyper, overcompensating aggression, that makes the skin of many crawl while plenty of others cheer. It’s grandiose, loud, and often drenched in so much bravado that the line between sincerity and mockery blurs. It’s also bizarre that I can simultaneously be describing President Donald Trump and the Batman arch-nemesis the Joker. Mark Hamill finds it peculiar too.
Indeed, Hamill is busy enjoying a career resurgence by playing Luke Skywalker in this December’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Yet, for a certain set of millennials who came of age between 1992 and 1999, his vocals are as synonymous with the Clown Prince of Crime as they are with that farm boy turned space-monk in a galaxy far, far away. And Hamill has relished the latter part too, portraying the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, its spinoff Batman Beyond, and latter day, adult-oriented video games and animated films as well. But the most surreal performance he’s given to date as the Joker is by reading—word for word—President Trump’s often combative and always boisterous tweets in Mistah J’s singsong voice.
Hamill is now talking about why he thinks Trump and a cartoon supervillain fit together as snugly as a purple-on-purple suit.
“I don’t want this to be an ongoing thing,” Hamill told The Huffington Post. Still, he couldn’t resist the first time when Matt Oswalt (brother of Patton Oswalt) suggested on Twitter that then-President-Elect Trump’s divisive taunting of his political “enemies” on New Year’s Day was the stuff of supervillain mean-spiritedness. Hence, the following tweet was born.
— HamillMania (@HamillMania) January 18, 2017
But Hamill is now talking about why he felt the need to revisit the Joker’s pitch perfect appropriation of the president’s often rambling prose after he first lashed out about Meryl Streep and then Rep. John Lewis, a hero of the Civil Rights movement who bled (and worse) for this country in Selma.
“The second one was when he insulted Meryl Streep,” Hamill said while apparently chuckling. “Nobody could ignore… I mean, c’mon, it’s like a Mel Brooks comedy. He’s so funny!” But Hamill had much stronger words about why he offered a Joker-ized account of Trump’s tweet toward Lewis—after the congressman refused to attend the president’s inauguration on Jan. 20 on the grounds that he believed Trump to be an “illegitimate president.”
Says Hamill, “I mean, my jaw hit the ground. That one I felt I almost had a moral obligation to do.”
And during that inauguration, Trump’s speech itself offered a fairly negative and faintly apocalyptic vision of modern America, even as the country has improved by almost every metric since 2008 (including unemployment, healthcare coverage, the Dow Jones, the national crime rate, and the deficit). The newly minted 45th president even accidentally quoted Tom Hardy’s equally bellicose supervillain from The Dark Knight Rises, the latter of whom used populism to excuse his imploding our social structures, and devastating a community's sense of law and order. Given that Trump’s words quite literally now echo Batman villains, Hamill has his own thoughts on this irony.
“Having done villains for so long, you do recognize rich dialogue,” Hamill said. “In a bipartisan way, these are his words… not mine. The fact that it sounds perfect coming out of such a demented character, that speaks for itself.”
Hamill also told HuffPo about why he feels the need to speak out in the face of the cynicism that meets celebrity opinions, as well how he considers himself, like one of his other beloved characters, to be an eternal member of the resistance. You can read his thoughts about that here.
NBC's Powerless is far from the first time DC Comics has gone down the comedic route.
At long last, some laughs are coming to the DC Universe. After a series of films that made it seem like DC and Warner Brothers didn’t pay their electric bill, DC’s Powerless in on its way to NBC. Powerless sits firmly in the DCU and feature the satirical adventures of a group of office folk that specialize in selling superhero hazard insurance. Anything that can lighten the load in the usually dire DCU is okay by us.
Yeah, we know the CW slate of DC shows is heavy on the humor, but you have to admit, many fans equate the DC Universe with dread and darkness. And that’s pretty darn ironic because DC Comics has a long history of humorous super heroes and zany adventure books. Stretching back to the Golden Age, DC has been the stewards of many characters and properties that can be remolded into a modern TV series or films designed to bring the ha-has back to super heroics.
Here are some great examples...
In 1941, in the pages of Police Comics, the great Jack Cole created a very different super hero for Quality Comics. This new hero, Plastic Man by name, was more of a parody of a superhero but still went on to become one of the greatest masked crime fighters of the 1940s and beyond. Plas’s origin was pretty simple. Eel O’Brien was a career criminal (he must have been, his name was Eel...would you go to a dentist named Eel. An OBGYN?). When a job went wrong, Eel was shot in the shoulder and doused with an unknown chemical. Abandoned by his gang, Eel stumbled off to find help.
As one does, Eel found a house full of monks on the outskirts of town. These monks nursed him back to health and soon Eel discovered that the chemicals had given him the power to stretch his skin and change his shape into any form. The monks talked him out of his criminal ways and Eel made a face turn to become the crime busting Plastic Man.
Now, the whole thing sounds like typical superhero fare, but Jack Cole infused his original strips with a manic, Looney Tunes like frenetic energy that remains unmatched in comic history. Cole was a master of the screwy and his wit made millions of fans fall in love with the stretchable sleuth. Early on in his original Plastic Man run, Cole created Woozy Winks, a fat, sleepy eyed sidekick for Plastic Man. The hapless Woozy got into no end of trouble bringing more and more laughs to Plastic Man’s already carnival like world.
When Quality Comics closed its doors, DC Comics bought the rights to all of the Quality characters including Plastic Man. In the 1960s, DC revived Eel and Woozy and the magic was back. Soon, DC gave Plastic Man his own title, and while the character never quite reached the heights of the Jack Cole days, it was still awesome to have such a bright and humorous hero around the DCU.
Over the decades, Plas kept his humorous edge and was way more Bugs Bunny than Mister Fantastic. The character had a popular if sedate cartoon series in the '70s and remains an important part of DC and superhero history. In the 2000s, the great writer and artist Kyle Baker reintroduced the character in the pages of another new solo series, and this time, the Cole influence was as real as an anvil to the skull. Baker channeled Cole combined with a bit of Chuck Jones and Tex Avery to remind comic fans that when it comes to over the top comedy, Eel is your guy.
Grant Morrison effectively used Plastic Man as a member of his Justice League run, but even there, he didn't turn down the volume on the Plastic Man wackiness. For years now, Plastic Man has bounced back and forth between his own brand of wacky and cartoony comics and the confines of the DCU proper. Sadly, DC has all but forgotten about the character, which is a darn shame, because Plastic Man has the potential to be to DC what Deadpool is to Marvel.
Seriously, it’s one of the great tragedies of history that Bruce Campbell never got to play Plastic Man.
The 1960s saw some wacky super hero concepts out of the DC offices, but none wackier than the Inferior Five. Created by E. Nelson Bridwell, Joe Orlando, and Mike Esposito, this utterly mad super hero team first appeared in Showcase #62 (1966). This team of super oddities was led by the physical week but intellectually superior Merryman, and consisted of Awkwardman, The Blimp, White Feather, and Dumb Bunny. The Blimp was fat and could fly, Awkwardman was useless on land but perfect underwater, White Feather was an arrogant archer, and Dumb Bunny, well, Dumb Bunny was super strong and as dumb as a bag of skittles.
The original Inferior Five comics still hold up. Bridwell and company infused their team with a slapstick sensibility and a certain charm that still delights. One could totally picture this team in some form on TV or in film. Imagine a Mystery Men like comedy with this group of comedic misfits. DC still tries to play with the Inferior Five now and again, most recently in a story arc in Brave and the Bold where the Five met the Legion of Substitute Heroes. More on the Subs in a moment, but in the meantime, do yourself a favor, hit a comic con and grab some issues of the Inferior Five, because it really is one of the most charming superhero parodies in DC’s rich and often times madcap history.
Holy genre mash up, Batman! Bat Lash was DC’s attempt at a parody western comic, and boy, did it satirize the western genre like nobody’s business. Bat Lash first appeared in Showcase #76 (1968) and was created by Joe Orlando, Carmine Infantino, Sheldon Mayer, and Sergio Aragonés and holy crap that’s a group of comic book A-listers if I ever saw one.
Bat Lash was a rakish, dandy of a cowboy who rode through the Old West kicking ass and taking dames. Complete with an ever present flower in his hat, Bat Lash is one of DC’s greatest cowboy heroes. He was an anti-hero with a shred of conscience that always ended up neck deep in trouble. Some of the Silver Age’s greatest comedic masters had their hand in bringing Lash’s riotous adventures to life and even though the original Bat Lash series only lasted seven issues, the comic remains a critical favorite. Lash liked his wine, women, and song and preferred the good life to dust ups with owlhoots.
How Bat Lash hasn’t appeared on Legends of Tomorrow is beyond us, but this character and the hilarity that follows him are just ripe for future media exploration.
Angel and The Ape
It’s a sultry, sexy crime solver teamed up with a for real talking gorilla, what else do you need to know? If The Flash TV series proved anything, it’s that monkeys can work on super hero television. And here’s one of the most hilarious monkey property of all time.
Angel and the Ape was created by E. Nelson Bridwell and first appeared in Showcase #77 (1968) Angel was a kick ass crime buster while Ape, real name Sam Simeon because of course it was, was a skilled detective and comic book artist. The unlikely duo received their own series after their Showcasetry out and the results were pure hilarity. There is just something timeless about seeing the daring and tough as nails Angel solve crimes side by side with her hairy pal.
It was like Scarecrow and Mrs. King but instead of a dude named Scarecrow it was a monkey. It was like Jake and the Fat Man, but instead of some dude and a morbidly obese detective, it was a girl and a primate simian. It was like Simon and Simon, but more like Simona and Simian, and I’m going to stop now, these are becoming not so good. You get the idea.
Like we said, beauty and the beast solving crimes and eating bananas was comedic DC perfection.
The Green Team
Hey, the one percent can be funny. The Green Team first appeared in 1st Issue Special #2 (1975) and was created by Joe Simon and Jerry Grandenetti. That’s right, Joe Simon, the same Joe Simon that co-created Captain freakin’ America.
Anyway, the Green Team was a squad of Richie Rich like gazillonaires that used their riches to find adventure. The team would give a sizeable fortune to any individual that could alleviate their ennui by providing a thrilling escapade. It was sort of like Duck Tales without the ducks. The team consisted of Commodore Murphy, J.P. Huston, Cecil Sunbeam, and Abdul Smith and had one, count ‘em one, adventure in the Bronze Age. Two other issues of The Green Team were nearly completed but only published in DC’s dumping ground Cancelled Comics Cavalcade. These adventures saw The Green Team go up against a giant lobster and a Hitler clone named Paperhanger. Now that’s some funny shit right there.
In the modern day, you’d think in an era where a certain orange somebody is giving billionaires a bad name the time might be ripe for a Green Team revival. Yes, we could use a little Cecil Sunbeam in our lives again. DC tried a Green Team revival in the New 52 era. I think like eight people read the new Green Team (I was one of them), but it was pretty darn good. It was written and drawn by comedic DC masters Art Baltazar and Franco and is really worth seeking out.
By the way, in the first published Green Team adventure, the team invested in a roller coaster that gives maximum pleasure to anyone that rides it. There’s an internet porn joke there somewhere, but I can’t find it.
Legion of Substitute Heroes
First appearing in Adventure Comics #306 (1963) and created by Edmond Hamilton and John Forte, the Legion of Substitute Heroes were sure a for real thing once. Okay, so imagine a team where there was a member whose power was to make people really sick. Well, the Subs had one and her name was Infectious Lass. Or imagine a hero whose power was to turn to stone, and not like in an Absorbing Man way, but in the he just sort of turns to stone and can’t move – at all- kind of way. Well, the Subs had one and his name was Stone Boy. Or how about Porcupine Pete who was this dude but he was also a porcupine. And let us not forget Double Header- a guy with two heads who has two heads. Did I mention he was a guy with two heads? That was his power. And he was a member of this team.
The Legion of Super-Heroes was a fun comic, but it usually played things pretty straight, until the Subs came around that is. Some of the members like Night Girl and Polar Boy were quite powerful and cool heroes, but then there was Stone Boy... who turned to Stone Boy and fell on people, and things just got all sorts of weird. The Legion isn’t around much these days (although there are sparks of a return both on DC TV and in DC Comics), and since there is no Legion, there is no Subs. The world is a much darker place without the always hilarious Legion of Substitute Heroes around to lighten things up. Double Header, ya’ll.
And then we have ‘Mazing Man, a warmly heartfelt comedic series that garnered critical acclaim in the mid-80s. 'Mazing Man was a deranged little man who donned a superhero suit and did good deeds around his neighborhood. He first appeared in 'Mazing Man #1 (January 1986) and was created by Bob Rozakis and Stephen DeStefano.
The adventures of ‘Mazing Man were reminiscent of comic strips like Bloom County and had a pretty sophisticated charm and humor. For example, when ‘Mazing Man was conked on the head, he would uncontrollably sing Simon and Garfunkel tunes. As you can see from the image, ‘Mazing Man was a strange little dude that kind of sort of looked like Hourman and wore his undies on the outside of his suit. He gained notoriety after he saved the life of a child, and the series followed ‘Mazing’s charming misadventures as he gained fame. Frank Miller even provided a cover to the final issue of the original series.
Other than a few specials, DC never really followed up on the ‘lil ‘Mazing Man’s big time potential, but perhaps this likable diminutive fella could be just the thing to lighten up the DCU.
We already compared Plastic Man to Deadpool, but if DC is really looking for a Wade Wilson-esque pain in the patootie, then here’s your huckleberry, the most frenetic and obnoxious super-thing of them all, the pain in the balls, the fly in the egg cream- Ambush Bug!
Ambush Bug first was inflicted on the world of comics in DC Comics Presents #52 (1982) and was created by Keith Giffen (this is not the last time you will see Giffen’s name on this list). Ambush Bug’s real name is Irwin Schwab, a man who has no discernible connection with reality (kind of like whoever wrote the third act of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice).
Since Ambush Bug cannot connect to a linear reality, even his origins are disputed. The commonly accepted origin is that Bug’s father Brum-El (you see where this is going) rocketed his wardrobe off his home world before the planet was destroyed. The only surviving parts of the wardrobe, the Ambush Bug suit and an argyle sock named Argh!Yle! were bitten by a radioactive space spider and infused with incredible power- no, I’m not making this up. Schwab found the suit and Ambush Bug was born while the sock went onto become a Doctor Doom like villain.
Giffen introduced Bug in a couple of Superman family comics in the early '80s and like a skid mark on the DCU, Ambush Bug has been with us ever since. Bug’s primary power is teleportation but his real power is to satirize comics and his fellow heroes. Giffen specializes in lampooning comics and comic book tropes, and his powers of scathing mockery are on full display in the many Ambush Bug series and specials DC and Giffen have inflicted on the world.
Ambush Bug may very well be DC’s most insanely comedic creation and really needs to be inflicted on the world at large. Or at least on Zack Snyder.
You all know this bastich. Created by Roger Slifer and Keith Giffen and first appearing in Omega Men #3 (1983), Lobo starred in a long running, ultra-violent comedic series. There was a lot of Heavy Metal type mayhem infused in Lobo, and where this intergalactic bounty hunter went, gore soaked chicanery and viscera bursting hilarity soon followed.
Lobo is a hard R humorous character so DC could potentially follow in Deadpool’s poop filled footsteps Lobo is the anti-hero that made disembowelment funny, and there is a load of cash to be made with this nut kicking sonnuvagun.
Justice League International
No other property in history created such waves of hilarity as the Justice League International era of the team. Lovingly referred to as the Bwah-Ha-Ha Justice League for its constant humor and satirical edge, the JLI is remembered fondly by fans that were on the ground floor of this era of Justice League silliness.
Justice League International was filled with straight men like Batman, Martian Manhunter, and Doctor Fate, but to this mix, creators Keith Giffen (hey, it’s him again, the Don Rickles of superhero writers), JM DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire added comedic foils like Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, and Guy Gardner to create a mix unlike any that DC fans had ever seen. Heroes like G’Nort, Fire, Ice, Rocket Red, and so many more added to the chemistry of the team and the result was some of the most laugh out loud funny comics that DC ever published.
The JLI is a media gold mine and a great way to lighten up the DC Universe. Imagine Nathan Fillion as Blue Beetle and Alan Tudyk as Booster Gold fighting alongside Michael Cudlitz as Guy Gardner. This is just wish fulfillment here, but it seems like now the JL and the comedic awesomeness of this era of the Justice League could be exactly what the DCU needs right now. Bwah-Ha-freakin’ Ha!
Do you like the black comedy of Preacher? Well, Preacher co-creator Garth Ennis has the perfect follow up for you. Along with artist John McCrea, Ennis unleashed Hitman and his gang of pals on an unsuspecting world in The Demon Annual #2 (1993).
The Hitman was a paid assassin named Tommy Monaghan. When Monaghan was bitten by a giant alien parasite, he gained the powers of x-ray vision and low level telepathy. But it is Monaghan’s innate ability with any and all firearms that make him such an unstoppable badass. Ennis and McCrea’s Hitman comic was set in the DCU, and Hitman and his crew of weirdos often interacted with the more serious denizens of the DCU. For example, after Hitman ran into Batman, the Dark Knight punched Monaghan in the tummy causing the paid killer to puke Thai food all over Batman’s bat boots. Other stories include Tommy and his crew taking on zombie dolphins and things just got more outlandish from there.
Hitman had that same slapstick sense of mayhem as Preacher and while this DC humorous adventure book never gets as much love as the dark adventures of Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy, Hitman is still one of Ennis’ most magical and daring books. We firmly wish that DC would consider bringing back Hitman in some form because exploding dolphin zombie brains are always funny.
Bizarro, the imperfect duplicate of Superman, and Jimmy Olsen on a Trains, Planes, and Automobiles type adventure across the US? Yeah, it’s even better than it sounds. In 2015, writer Heath Corson and artist Gustavo Duarte presented a Bizarro series unlike any other. A comedic road trip masterpiece staring the unlikeliest pals in the DCU. It was like a Hope and Crosby but with super powers and kryptonite.
In addition to all the over the top chicanery, this Bizarro series and the friendship between Olsen and Bizarro were incredibly heartwarming, and thanks to the note perfect joyous tone of TV’s Supergirl, DC could totally pull Corson’s hilarious Bizarro series off on TV. This modern take on Bizarro was timeless, hilarious, and gave the world a Bizarro tale nobody knew they wanted until they spent a few miles on the open road with Jimmy Olsen and his backwards pal.
Sugar and Spike
Sugar and Spike were two babbling babies that starred in their own super charming title beginning in 1956. The pair of adventuring infants were created by the great Sheldon Mayer who wrote and drew the strip until 1971. When DC cancelled the Sugar and Spike title in the US, Mayer continued writing and drawing the babies’ adventures for many years overseas.
But since this was more of a cartoon strip why does Sugar and Spike make our list? Well, in 2016, writer Keith Giffen (him again) and artist Bilquis Evely created an adult revival of the two beloved babies. In the Sugar and Spike feature in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow anthology, Giffen and Evely reimagined the tots as adult private detectives that specialized in superhuman cases. This new direction for Sugar and Spike was a bona fide critical hit and probably the funniest feature DC published in the New 52 era. In this version of S&S, Sugar was a tough as nails, world weary private eye, while Spike remained her hapless devoted best friend, just like when they were babies. Giffen played up the fact the two were lifelong friends since infancy and somehow, despite all the risqué humor, this new Sugar and Spike maintained the same charm as the Mayer brilliance of so long ago.
We're giving away this incredible Lego Batman jacket to one of our lucky followers on Twitter!
Courtesy of our friends at Film Jackets, we're giving away a Lego Batman classic jacket, priced at $119.00, to one of our lucky Twitter followers!
A description of the jacket (from the retailer):
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Everything we know about the second season of MTV's The Shannara Chronicles...
Good news, fantasy lovers! MTV's The Shannara Chronicles Season 2 has started production in New Zealand, and has announced a whole bunch of new cast members to join the series.
The Shannara Chronicles Season 2 will pick up a year after the events of Season 1, and finds The Four Lands in chaos, with an organization called The Crimson is intent on hunting down magic users.
Amidst the unrest, Will, still mourning the loss of Amberle and his separation from Eretria, has turned his back on his magical healer destiny. Meanwhile, Bandon has turned super evil and is on a mission to resurrect The Warlock Lord. (No, The Warlock Lord is not a nice guy.)
Enter a whole host of new characters...
According to MTV News, Malese Jow (The Flash, The Vampire Diaries) has joined the Shannara Chronicles Season 2 cast as Mareth, a "volatile and unpredictable" young woman with magical powers who will help Wil find his way back to his friends and escape The Crimson. "Sharp, brash, and independent to a fault," Mareth knows how to get what she wants.
Also joining the cast is Vanessa Morgan (Finding Carter) as Lyria, a young woman romatically linked to Eretria. Nice to see Eretria getting some love, especially amongst all of the danger and mayhem it sounds like we're in for in Season 2.
Gentry White (UnReal) will play Garet, the "wise-cracking Weapons Master of the Four Lands." Garet is a bounty hunter, "skilled, sly, and charismatic," it sounds like Garet could add some comedic elements to Season 2.
Caaroline Chikezie (Everly) will play Queen Tamlin, "the powerful and cunning ruler of Leah," and the only human kingdom in The Four Lands. Queen Tamlin is a ruthless weapons manufacturer who uses her royal clout to make a political alliance with the elves. Ambitious lady.
Desmond Chiam (Bones) has been added to the Shannara Chronicles cast as General Riga, the leader of the extremist soldier group The Crimson. On a mission to wipe out all magic in the Four Lands, Rigam used to be a top dog in Eventine's army, but has had a major change of heart after watching his people slaughtered in the War of the Races and fighting the Dagda Mor in the War of the Forbidding. This guy does not like magic.
Shannara Chronicles Season 2 Cast
In the first season, The Shannara Chronicles starred Arrow's Manu Bennett, Pan's Labyrinth's Ivana Basquero, The Carrie Diaries' Austin Butler (also know as Thea Queen's DJ assassin boyfriend), and relative newcomer Poppy Drayton. Of course, the fate of Drayton's Amberle was very much in-the-air come the season one finale.
Returning for Season 2 from the original Season 1 cast will be: Austin Butler (Wil), Ivana Baquero (Eretria), Manu Bennett (Allanon), Aaron Jakubenko (Ander) and Marcus Vanco (Bandon). Interestingly, Drayton's Amberle isn't on that list, but we're not ready to give up hope on her character's non-tree-form return just yet...
Speaking to SciFiNow about the possible return of Amberle, Brooks teased:
Yeah, actually, although you might wonder how, and I won’t tell you, but we gave some serious thought to that, and there was a lot of talk about bringing her back out of the tree and so forth, but I said 'No, she’s a tree [laughs], you can’t bring her back, that’s terrible storytelling, you have to find a different way.' So then I told them how they could do it, so we’ll see. But yeah, I think she’s signed on for another season or so, and she’ll back for that. I know that she probably wishes she’d gotten a different role, because she really liked the series, but her life was finite in that particular storyline.
Brooks also spoke about what season 2 might look like, particularly if the season will pick up where season 1 ends versus jumping ahead to the events of The Wishsong of Shannara...
This is an interesting debate that’s ongoing. When I first saw this I thought, 'Well, we should just move on and do a whole new season that involves the next book and forget about this season.' But of course MTV said, 'Are you crazy? We’re building fan support for these actors, we can’t boot them out of there and bring all-new people in!' And I said, 'Well, they could be the same characters, just the children or whatever…' that didn’t work.
It became clear that they were going to build the story around the actors they have right now, and that was going to be the thrust of the story no matter what. But they are free to remove elements from other books, and I think they will do that. They’ve already been talking about Wishsong and using bits and pieces or large chunks of that storyline and building around the characters they already have, which isn’t too difficult to do. So that’s what they will do. What shows tend to do when adapting books is do the first season and then go off in different directions, so I forsee my duty as being to help them get there in the best way possible.
— Shannara on MTV (@Shannara) April 20, 2016
Shannara Chronicles Season 2 Release Date
MTV has stayed impressively tight-lipped about Shannara Chronicles season 2 of their fantasy drama, but (hopeful) speculation tends to place its release date in summer 2017. Again, though, that's just a guess.
The first season debuted in January 2016, but we are obviously not going to get a January debut for season two. But, hey, at least production has started!
Shannara Chronicles Season 2 Synopsis
MTV also released an official synopsis for the new season of The Shannara Chronicles...
A year after the events of last season, The Four Lands is in chaos. The re-emergence of magic has the populace terrified, and an organization called The Crimson is hunting down magic users, using fear and intimidation to sow discord among the races.
Wil, scarred by the loss of Amberle and his separation from Eretria, has turned his back on his magical destiny to become a healer. But when a mysterious woman named Mareth saves Wil from a Crimson attack, he is forced to rejoin the fight.
After reuniting with Eretria, Wil and Mareth seek out Allanon, only to learn that the Druid’s former protégé, Bandon, is on a mission to resurrect a creature of darkest evil: The Warlock Lord. Together, our heroes must band together to take down The Crimson and prevent Bandon from unleashing an even greater threat upon the Four Lands, before it’s too late.
Shannara Chronicles Season 2 Trailer
As of yet, we have seen no footage from The Shannara Chronicles season two, but we'll be sure to update this page when a teaser or trailer drops.
Rights have been procured for a film adaptation of sci-fi pioneer Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1966 novella Planet of Exile.
One of science fiction’s most prolific and celebrated living authors Ursula K. Le Guin has created a uniquely nuanced body of work dating back to the late-1950’s. While Hollywood hasn’t exactly made full use of any her offerings, which often center on the detailed sociological woes of humanoid societies in desolate dystopic backdrops, it seems that an up-and-coming independent studio are looking to adapt one of her key stories in Planet of Exile for a potentially ambitious film project.
Deadline reports that indie studio LAMF (Los Angeles Media Fund) have procured the movie rights to Planet of Exile, a 1966 far-future-set otherworldly novella by Le Guin. Screenwriter Daniel Stiepelman will adapt Le Guin’s story, depicting the continuing travails of an Earth colony on the planet Werel. Amongst the array of attached producers are Jeffrey Soros and Simon Horsman of LAMF and veteran producer Mark Johnson, a name connected to classic films such as Diner, Rain Man and The Notebook, as well as sci-fi spoof Galaxy Quest and a long list of TV credits like Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Rectify and Halt and Catch Fire. In a joint statement, Soros and Horsman cite the following praises of Le Guin:
“Ursula K. Le Guin is one of the world’s greatest science fiction and fantasy writers. She has won The National Book Award Medal for Distinguished Contributions to American letters, considered one of literature’s most distinguished honors, as well as multiple Nebula and Hugo prizes. She is also one of only a handful of living authors to be inducted into the Library of America, keeping company with Melville, Hawthorne and Twain. LAMF is thrilled and honored to bring Ursula’s work to the screen.”
Planet of Exile, the second part of Le Guin’s Hainish Cycle of novels and stories, separates itself from typical entries in the sci-fi dystopia genre, due to its focus on the normally glossed-over sociological details and dynamics involved in scenarios with humans stuck on an alien planet. The story’s human population has been stranded on Werel for 10 of the planet's years; a chunk of time that’s exponentially expanded, since each year on Werel equates to 60 on Earth (600 years)! However, the primary struggle centers on the tribal cultures that developed on the alien world between its human colonists, its indigenous humanoids and a third, more primitive group.
Planet of Exile just kicked off the earliest stage of a long process towards its translation to film. No significant dates have been projected yet.
We sat down with the creative team behind BLACK to talk process, design, and how the world reflects back through their book.
The state of the world is such that the pace of history is on internet time, where news and current events, like memes, go from breaking to overanalyzed to precambrian in the space of three months. That’s why it is reasonable to ask the creative team behind Black Mask’s hit comic BLACK if the year that has passed since they launched their Kickstarter has changed their perspective on their work at all. No, said co-creator Kwanza Osajyefo, but “I feel like I’m going to have some new inspiration the next four years to work off of.”
Osajyefo, Tim Smith 3, Khary Randolph, Jamal Igle, and Sarah Litt actually started advertising their series at New York Comic Con 2015 with stealth ads greeting con-goers around the city. So they built up a considerable buzz for the launch of their Kickstarter the following February, where they announced that they were putting together a book that asked “what if only black people had super powers?” As proof that 2016 wasn’t entirely a swamp of despair, their proposal blew past and eventually tripled their original goal, enabling the team to add pages of just fight scenes (Editor’s note: yay!) and gaining the notice of Black Mask Studios, a punk rock comic company built with the express goal of screwing with the traditional model of comics production.
The comic was born from an idea Osajyefo had, but came together at MoCCA Festival in Brooklyn, where as he found Smith’s table and started looking through his art, and noted that Smith’s art “had a very unique silhouette to all of his characters,” which enabled him to see Smith’s that it came from a different place and that “there was a unique take to it.” Smith joined Osajyefo as the lead designer; Randolph was brought in as the cover artist; and Igle came on board to draw the issues.
Everything about BLACKis deliberate: from character design, to how the abnormally large team works together, to cover design, to the pacing and art within the issues, every aspect of the comic has been thought through thoroughly. Smith’s character design is rooted in fashion and pragmatism. No one would wake up with super powers one day and say to herself, “Oh, the first thing I have to do is get the tightest underwear I can possibly find,” said Smith. “That’s not the most important thing if you found out you can shoot lasers out of your eyes.”
His design principles followed function, with a hint of flair and personality mixed in: “What would a character feel comfortable wearing if they had the abilities they had, as well as [what is] a stylish look where they’re really still hardcore?” One example that came up was Kareem’s gauntlet, which has a certain Cammy-from-Street-Fighter influence - it is certainly stylish and hardcore (“It looks like that thing should weigh 30 pounds,” said Smith) but it’s there to draw the reader’s attention to him, to give Kareem a little flair and individuality.
Smith would then do a couple of sketches and send them off to Osajyefo, who would almost never touch the designs from there. Osajyefo would then work up a loose plot to send to Igle, with beats and rough pacing set out, and Jamal would come back with penciled pages. The choice to be black and white was intentional from the start and presented little challenge to a polished professional like Igle. “You don’t have the luxury of the same kinds of shortcuts that you would have in a full color book,” he said. However, “the only thing i think that changes my thinking is how it balances against light and shadow.” Making the comic in black and white challenges readers more, said Smith. “If [the reader]can just put aside thinking about what color the jacket is going to be, and just focus on the action and the words, sometimes you make it more of a story.”
The covers are every bit as deliberate and important to BLACK’s success, not just because they are attention grabbing, evocative images, but because compositionally and as matters of comic book theory, they’re just really good. “[Khary Randolph] is our curb appeal,” said Osajyefo. Each cover reflects the action inside the issue, from issue 1 where Kareem is seemingly killed by police (an act directly reflected on the cover) to issue 4, which is posted below as part of the preview. If a gamer was asked to describe the fourth issue, she would likely call it an “action platformer,” and the cover to that comic, in Randolph’s own sharp, hilarious style, is Kareem cast as Mario in Donkey Kong, with Donald Trump as Kong himself at the top of the vertical maze tossing cash down at the player.
The most significant thing about BLACKis how it uses the familiar to present valuable themes to a wider audience. Typical superhero comics address issues like identity, politics, and class underneath a layer of metaphor that sometimes makes it difficult to discern the true message - as much as the X-Men are representative of the struggles of oppressed groups, they’re still five good-looking white kids who aren’t going to get pulled over for driving while winged. BLACKstrips away that top layer of analogy, allowing for a deeper examination of issues like gender as a social construct, or the diversity of black experience often ignored in even books touted as “diverse.”
“I really wanted the freedom of having this black cast, so I could show all these different characters and not have anybody just represent one thing,” said Osajyefo. That allowed the story to include Juncture, the head of the project that brings Kareem in after his resurrection and someone coded with respectability politics; or Swerve, a transgender singer; or Bizzy Bass, a thick woman who despite the obvious joke opportunity will NOT, Den of Geek has learned, turn on the team so someone can shout at her “BASS! How low can you go?” (“She’s a down-ass chick,” Osajyefo said, though Igle admitted he was disappointed that the team didn’t get there first.)
Black Mask has been incredibly supportive of the book. Very little about the comic changed from its conception as a Kickstarter project to a monthly publication on shelves in stores because Osajyefo always conceived it as happening in chapters - even when the Kickstarter hit its stretch goal adding another 20 pages of just fights, the pacing was structured in Osajyefo’s head such that they didn’t have to tweak it in the move from graphic novel to monthly. The stretch goal has excited the team, however. Smith admitted he can’t wait for the last issue, as he was going to “look at [Igle’s] hand now, and then I’m gonna look at his hand after issue 6 just to see how big and strong it’s gotten, because he's gonna have to draw a million characters and I don't know what kind of choreographed fight scene.”
Black Mask handles relationships with the retailers, something they didn’t necessarily originally have to plan for. But the retailer response has been strong, and that’s one reason why the creative team has felt comfortable living in this world a little while longer: Osajyefo originally planned for three books, but the public reception and expansiveness of the story now has him thinking about “interstitial, ‘Rogue One’[-type] books.” They haven’t finalized yet, but everyone is hoping Igle can continue as the penciler on the Chapter books (continuing the Star Wars analogy), and Black Mask is on board to stay in the BLACKuniverse until it ends.
BLACK#4 is out in shops on Wednesday, 2/8/2017, and we have a five page preview you can check out below. Be sure to check in with Den of Geekfor more news about BLACKand all the other great comics hitting shelves every week.