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    Anne Rice’s genre redefining vampire book series will become a TV series.

    News Tony Sokol
    Apr 28, 2017

    Lestat, Louis and Claudia will sink their teeth into prime time. Eleven of the books from Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles series will be adapted into a TV series from Paramount Television.

    “It is undeniable that Anne Rice has created the paradigm against which all vampire stories are measured. The rich and vast world she has created with The Vampire Chronicles is unmatched and sophisticated with 90’s gothic undertones that will be perfectly suited to captivate audiences,” Paramount TV president Amy Powell said in a statement. “The series is full of compelling characters led by Lestat, arguably one of the greatest original characters, literary or otherwise. We are thrilled to collaborate with Anne, Christopher and the team at Anonymous Content on this epic series.”

    The series will be written by the author’s son Christopher Rice, himself a writer of four New York Times Bestsellers and a winter of the Lambda Literary Award. Mother and son will executive produce alongside Anonymous Content’s David Kanter and Steve Golin.

    “Together with our partners at Paramount Television, we are embarking on a fantastic journey with Anne and Christopher Rice to bring Anne’s unparalleled imagination to television at the moment when the medium is experiencing a global apex in the demand for the most outstanding, exciting and heightened premium dramatic programming,” Kanter said in a statement.

    The Vampire Chronicles, in its entirety, is not only a phenomenally complex universe of story-telling, it is also a world-wide readership whose connections to the books and their author are deep and abiding. It is a tremendous responsibility to help bring the books to television, and we are thrilled to have this opportunity.”

    "I'm thrilled beyond words to be working with Paramount TV and Anonymous Content --known for extraordinary cutting edge series such as True Detective, Quarry, and The Knick,” Rice said in a statement.

    “In this unique  golden age of television,  I couldn't ask for a finer or more passionate team to help bring my beloved vampire hero, Lestat, alive in a series of the highest quality. This is a dream come true, both for me and for Christopher and for the fans who have been asking to see the Brat Prince in this medium for years."

    “The first great day for me on this project was when my mother asked me to partner with her on it,” Christopher Rice added,

    “The second, is the announcement of this thrilling partnership with Paramount Television and Anonymous Content. For decades now fans of The Vampire Chronicles have been clamoring for a long-form television adaptation of this galaxy of content. Just a glance at the libraries of these two innovative, groundbreaking companies makes clear why they’re perfectly suited to granting this wish. Add to that their passion and enthusiasm for the long term vision Mom and I share for this series, and we’re confident this exciting deal will result in many excellent things for Lestat in the universe of television."

    Anne Rice first hinted that she may be adapting her Vampire Chroniclesbook series into an open-ended TV series “of the highest quality” at end of last year.

    “The theatrical rights to the Vampire Chronicles are once again in my hands, free and clear!,” Rice wrote to Faebook on Nov. 26, 2016.

    “I could not be more excited about this! --- A television series of the highest quality is now my dream for Lestat, Louis, Armand, Marius and the entire tribe. In this the new Golden Age of television, such a series is THE way to let the entire story of the vampires unfold. --- My son Christopher Rice and I will be developing a pilot script and a detailed outline for an open ended series, faithfully presenting Lestat’s story as it is told in the books, complete with the many situations that readers expect to see. We will likely begin with The Vampire Lestat and move on from there. ----- When we sit down finally to talk to producers, we will have a fully realized vision of this project with Christopher as the executive producer at the helm. I will also be an executive producer all the way. ---- Again, I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to be able to announce this. ---- As many of you know, Universal Studios and Imagine Entertainment had optioned the series to develop motion pictures from it, and though we had the pleasure of working with many fine people in connection with this plan, it did not work out. It is, more than ever, abundantly clear that television is where the vampires belong. ---- Over the years you all have told me how much you want to see a Game of Thrones style faithful rendering of this material, and how much you want for the series to remain in my control. Well, I have heard you. I have always heard you. What you want is what I want. --- You, the readers, made these books a success before any movie was ever made based on them, and I will never forget that fact. ---- Christopher and I will be posting many questions on the page for your input in the days to come. ----- I am filled with optimism this morning about the future for my beloved Brat Prince. What better way to start a tour for the new book!"

    Rice’s vampire book series told the tale of bloodsuckers Lestat de Lioncourt, Louis, the ever-young Claudia, Armand, Marius and the cast of the Theatres des Vampires. The series currently consists of 11 books, which started with Interview with the Vampire. The 12th book, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, will be published on Nov. 29.

    Two of the books have been adapted for film. Tom Cruise played Lestat, Brad Pitt played Louis and Kirsten Dunst played Claudia in the 1994 Warner Bros. film Interview with the Vampire. Queen of the Damned from 2002 starred Stuart Townsend as Lestat and Aaliyah as Queen Akasha.

    Anne Rice has written over 30 novels. Besides the The Vampire Chronicles series, she also authored a Witch series and the sexy escapist Exit to Eden. She also wrote Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt and Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana, and The Young Messiah, which was released in early 2016.


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    We talked to Neil Gaiman about what he has learned from the American Gods TV show, the on-screen adaptation of his bestselling book.

    Interview Kayti Burt
    Apr 28, 2017

    It's been almost two decades since Neil Gaiman penned American Gods, an ambitious novel about belief and immigration in contemporary America. Now, Starz is making it into a TV series and, while Gaiman is on board as an executive producer, the British novelist has had to trust other people — namely, showrunner Bryan Fuller and Michael Green — with the source material. In an interview earlier this month, we talked to Gaiman about why Fuller and Green were the right people for the job.

    The thing that drew me initially to Bryan was the fact that he was mad in a good way. He didn’t do things like anybody else on TV. I even loved the things of his that didn’t work — or didn’t work commercially — like his Munsters remake, Mockingbird Lane. I loved that. Because it was Bryan and because it was like, ‘I know what you’re doing here and you’re brilliant.’ 

    For Gaiman, Fuller was someone he could trust to bring American Gods to the screen. "It was Bryan who went and found Michael," said Gaiman. The two had previously met and worked together on Heroes, and had been looking for something to collaborate together on ever since. Green has his own impressive resume, including the creation of NBC prestige drama Kingsand, more recently, as co-writer on Logan. The two were more than up for the task, bringing Gaiman's imaginative, ambitious, and complicated work to modern TV screens in phantasmagoric ways.

    Has Gaiman learned anything new about his work through seeing what Fuller and Green have done with it? Gaiman notes that "I think I’ve fallen in love with Laura again, so that is interesting for me." The role of Laura Moon, Shadow's undead wife, has been expanded from the book for the TV show, with the character getting her own episode to tell her story halfway through the season. It's one example of the ways in which Fuller and Green have expanded the roles of women from the novel to the screen.

    In ruminating on what he has learned from the TV show, Gaiman added:

    Some of the things that you learn are really small and weird. Like, discovering probably my favorite, most small, weird personal moment is Pablo Schreiber as Mad Sweeney being asked by Ricky Whittle as Shadow how he just did that amazing coin trick and Pablo saying, ‘With panache.’

    And it’s perfect. It’s a perfect moment, and I go, ‘I wrote that line 17, 18 years ago and I didn’t think it was terribly funny there, but it was sort of appropriate. And now you guys have just… it’s like you’ve given me back a tiny flower or a little treasure. It’s something that I’ve made and I’m laughing at my own joke and it could not be better.’ 

    American Gods the TV show premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on Starz. For more information about the show, check out our news hub.


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    The comic book history of Ego, Kurt Russel's character in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, is a tricky one.

    Feature Marc Buxton
    Apr 28, 2017

    Peter Quill, the intergalactic hero and leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, is known for his inflated sense of self, so it’s no surprise that Quill’s film father will be a being of immense ego. Just how big? Well, read on.

    Kurt Russell is Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. That's Ego as in Ego, The Living Planet, a character quite familiar to fans of cosmic Marvel comics.

    A living planet, you ask? That’s just silly, you say. And it kind of is, which is why Ego is such a perfect fit with the talking trees and ill-tempered raccoons that make up the world of Guardians of the Galaxy.

    But the character of Ego hasn’t always been silly. No, not even close. When Ego was first introduced, the majesty and artistry of Jack Kirby made this living heavenly body anything but a joke. Because let’s face it, only Jack Kirby would have the sheer creative cantaloupes to create a planet with a face. It’s hard to not to make a planet with facial hair anything but silly, but Kirby succeeded. Yes, in later years, Ego devolved into something of a cosmic punchline, but Kirby’s version of Ego was so powerfully realized that Marvel’s Living Planet would make Unicron crap himself.

    Now, fans have only experienced some silly ass Ego, the Living Planet stories over the past few decades. Hell, on a recent episode of Hulk and the Agents of SMASH, Hulk and his crew fight giant sentient zits on Ego’s surface. But if one looks to the original Ego appearances by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, one finds a creature of hard sci-fi grandeur that only Kirby could conjure.

    Ego popped up briefly in Thor #132 (1966) and made his first full appearance in Thor #133 (1966). Now, you really have to understand, Ego was created by Jack Kirby during a period of absolute cosmic creativity. In the span of just a few short years, Kirby, along with his creative collaborator Stan Lee, oversaw the creation of Galactus, the Silver Surfer, the Kree, and countless other cosmic concepts. The later issues of their time on Thor took the Thunder God from the confines of Asgard and explored a cosmos that only Kirby could imagine. In this creative spurt of all things cosmic, Kirby planted the seeds of what would become the cosmic Marvel Universe, seeds that would eventually sprout into the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, so it’s more than appropriate that Ego becomes a major part of the Guardians film mythology.

    Ego may look funny with his big planet mouth and a beard made of craggy mountains and peaks, but under Kirby’s careful creative hand, what could have been a farcical character was anything but. Seriously, just look at that design. Ego was a character just made for bong hits and blacklight posters.

    Ego is one powerful bearded heavenly body, equipped with a giant mechanical propulsion unit that can allow the Living Planet to travel the cosmos at will. He has control over every molecule of its being, and on his surface, Ego can create defenses and can call also cause seismic events to destroy unwanted intruders, these include humanoid enforcers that act as white blood cells to expel foreign matter. Ego’s brain exists deep with his surface, and if the brain of the Living Planet is in danger, he can heat up his entire mass to burn any threat to his think box. The Living Planet is vastly intelligent, but as his name suggests, he possesses a tremendous superiority complex.

    And Ego’s backstory is just as fascinating.

    During his first meeting with Thor, the Living Planet told the Thunder God (sentences like this are why comics rule) that the bearded world was once a scientist who managed to merge with his planet when its sun was going super nova. Thor first encounters Ego when the spacefaring Rigellians of the Black Galaxy recruit Thor to protect them from Ego’s wrath. Along with the Rigellian Recorder (think a more human looking C-3P0), Thor kicked Ego’s equator and exiled the Living Planet to the confines of the Black Galaxy.

    Now, let’s break down that sentence. Thor, a legendary Norse deity, fights a Living Planet with a beard, and beats him up and exiles him to a place called the Black Galaxy. This is why Jack Kirby is a god. When one reads this battle in the pages of Thor, there’s really no silliness about the struggle. Ego is a kick ass, hard sci-fi terror who came really close to beating Thor. Ego was a way for Kirby to turn the cosmic volume up to eleven and have the Thunder God go up against not a god or a monster, but a whole freakin’ planet and emerge victorious. In Ego’s second appearance, Kirby turns up the volume even higher and has Ego fight Galactus. What’s more awesome than a Living Planet against a Planet Eater? Nothing, that's what. 

    Ego would later try and take revenge on Galactus by joining the Elders of the Universe and plotting with with his fellow cosmic entities to destroy the Devourer of Worlds. The presence of the Elders of the Universe has already been established in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’ve already seen Collector in the first Guardians movie and Grandmaster will make his debut in Thor: Ragnarok. Whatever the case, could we soon be getting a big screen version of the Elders and could Ego be part of the cosmic cadre?

    Throughout the '80s and '90s, Ego also tangled with Rom (awesome!), Beta Ray Bill (awsomer!) and many more cosmic Marvel champions. Sadly, in recent years, Ego has become a bit of a joke as writers have gone for the easy planetary punchline over the hard sci-fi Kirby magnificence of yesteryear, but there is one bit of business that might stand out to fans anticipating the Living Planet’s film debut.

    In the pages of Astonishing Thor #1–5 (2010–2011), Ego discovers that he was once one of two sentient beings created by the cosmic entity known as The Stranger (another spacefaring Marvel being with an awesome ‘stache). The other sentient being is known as (wait for it) Alter Ego. Alter Ego is being held captive by The Collector and when Ego seeks out his planetary brother, the Living Planet discovers that The Stranger has designed Alter Ego to hate Ego. The two planets go to war as only living planets can until Thor intervenes and resolves the conflict. Alter Ego is nearly destroyed but manages to coalesce some of its fragments to form a moon in orbit around Ego. Now, Ego and Alter Ego travel the universe as a sort of very strange and oddly emotionally moving family unit.

    Ego stands as a testament to the boundless imagination of Jack Kirby and a character that has become a sometimes awesome sometimes amusing entity in the Marvel Universe. For us old school geeks out there, we never imagined Ego the Living Planet could one day appear on the big screen. But thanks to James Gunn, this planetary dream will come true. And at the end of the day, it’s a giant planet with a beard and that’s never not awesome.

    And listen, now that Ego is in the MCU, there is no better time for Marvel to go full tilt boogie and get the rights to Galactus and the Fantastic Four back because dammit, we need to see a for real not a stupid cloud version of Galactus go up against Ego the Living Planet on the big screen.


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    Only know Rocket Raccoon, Drax, and Groot? You only know a tiny fraction of the insane history of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy!

    Feature Marc Buxton
    Apr 29, 2017

    The Guardians of the Galaxy are now household names. Comic fans have known the names Star-Lord, Drax, Gamora, Rocket, and Groot for decades, and now, mainstream fans have learned the sheer coolness of this space fairing fivesome as well. But these five aren’t the only heroes who have had the honor of calling themselves Guardians of the Galaxy.

    The story of the Guardians was originally set one thousand years in the future and for many solar cycles, they were the protectors of the future of the Marvel Universe. Creators like Arnold Drake, Gene Colan, Steve Gerber, and Jim Valentino guided the adventures of the future heroes until Keith Giffen, Dan Abnett, and Andy Lanning launched their own team of Guardians in the present...a team that included a sentient tree, a take no prisoners space raccoon, two emerald skinned maniacs, and a brave and well meaning space outlaw. It’s time to take a look at all the monsters, gods, swashbucklers, aliens, and heroes that have made up the history of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

    Tomorrow’s Heroes Today...the Original Guardians of the Galaxy

    Major Vance Astro, aka, Major Victory

    First appearance: Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (1969)

    Created by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan

    For a long time, Vance Astro served as the heart of the Guardians. To truly understand the legacy of the team, one must first understand this time lost hero. Astro is a mutant gifted with powers of telekinesis and, in the future, he will be the first man to try and reach Alpha Centurai. As an Earth man from the past, Astro proudly serves the Guardians of the Galaxy in their battle against the Badoon.

    Oh, but things don’t end there.

    In the present day Marvel timeline, Astro becomes an Avenger known as Justice and set a heroic precedent that many will look to in the future for inspiration. In the future, Astro will change his name to Major Victory and will be the proud wielder of the shield of Captain America, keeping the legacy of Steve Rogers alive. He will also become bonded to the Venom symbiote bringing the legacy of one of Spider-Man's greatest foes into the future. Astro played a part in the late and lamented Guardians 3000 comic series and has served side by side with Star-Lord’s present day Guardians.

    Charlie 27

    First appearance: Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (1969)

    Created by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan

    Every proper team of super-heroes needs some muscle, and before Drax and Groot, the Guardians’ heavy was Charlie 27. The original concept of the Guardians was a group of heroes from different planets that had to defend the Milky Way from the despotic Badoon. Charlie 27 was the team’s representative from Jupiter. He was genetically engineered to withstand Jupiter’s crushing gravity, so he was really freakin’ big...like Ben Grimm big.

    Where Vance Astro was the heart of the Guardians, Charlie was their strength, but he wasn’t just muscle. Charlie 27 had a keen military mind and for years, wherever the original Guardians appeared, readers could count on Charlie 27 to bust some heads. Charlie was an integral part of the Guardians from the '70s to the '90s and will also be returning in Guardians 3000 later this year.

    Martinex

    First appearance: Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (1969)

    Created by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan

    We covered heart and strength, now we have the Guardians’ brains, Martinex of Pluto. Now, we aren't sure how the crystalline Martinex feels about his native Pluto no longer being considered a planet, but Martinex has long been the tech and science expert of the original Guardians and probably the most visually stunning character on the original team. His crystal body helps protect him from the freezing atmosphere of Pluto but it also helps him stand out even in the biggest George Perez rendered gathering of multiple heroes.

    Martinex proudly served the original Guardians as well as the Guardians of the Galaxy offshoot squad, the Galactic Guardians. He might be the hero most often mistaken for Bobby Drake, but Martinex was a great hero and a classic character in his own right. He brought a little Spock to the party with his scientific acumen but his energy blasts and impenetrable skin also made him a force to be reckoned with for the Badoon.

    Yondu

    First appearance: Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (1969)

    Created by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan

    The spirit of the original Guardians, Yondu is the only initial member of the team who was not from the Milky Way. Yondu was originally from Centurai 4, the first planet colonized by humans. He is a skilled tracker, hunter, and archer and has the visually awesome ability to guide the flight of his arrows by whistling. The most alien of the Guardians was in many ways the most human as he spent the early parts of the series trying to find his place in the universe.

    Yondu served with the Guardians for a long time and, like his fellow three original members fought the Badoon in the future, came to the present to fight Korvac alongside Thor, teamed with the Defenders, and, like the rest of his team, even joined the modern day Avengers for a short period of time. 

    Things Get Strange...the Steve Gerber Era

    Starhawk

    First appearance: The Defenders #27 (1975)

    Created by Steve Gerber and Sal Buscema

    Ok, this is where things getting confusing. We know Starhawk is awesome. We know Starhawk is a being whose form is shared by both the male Stakar of the House of Ogord and his wife Aleta Ogord. We know Aleta blamed Stakar for the death of their children and despises the estranged husband she must share a form with. We know that Starhawk is enigmatic and a classic anti-hero. It’s all very muddled, but in a cool Bronze Agey sort of way.

    After his debut, other than Vance Astro, Starhawk was pretty much the central Guardians character until the turnover to the modern day. By the way, somehow, somewhere it was revealed that Starhawk was the son of Quasar which gives him another deep connection to Marvel’s cosmic legacy. On a related note, we really miss Quasar.

    Nikki

    First appearance: Marvel Presents #4 (1976)

    Created by Steve Gerber and Al Milgrom

    Nikki was the second new member of the team introduced by Gerber, and in this flame headed native of Mercury, Gerber found a way to ground the cosmic entities of the Guardians. Nikki was the precocious young female character before Kitty Pryde made it cool. She contrasted the often dead serious other members of the team with a hot tempered, wise cracking sharp shooter that popped off the page both visually and because of her happy-go-lucky attitude.

    The early Guardians of the Galaxy stories were always high concept but at times, they could be a bit dry. That all ended with the introduction of Nikki, the team’s first female member. Nikki had romantic entanglements with Charlie 27 and she gave a whole new meaning to the term hot blooded. Gamora might be the kick ass female most associated with the Guardians now, but that tradition began with the fiery Nikki.

    An Image of the Future...the Jim Valentino Era

    Aleta Ogord

    First appearance: The Defenders #29 (1975)

    Created by Steve Gerber and Sal Buscema

    She is best known as the female half of the usually male Starhawk, but Aleta Ogord was a member of the Guardians as well. Aleta had more passion and zest for life than her often cold and clinical husband did. When she was finally freed from her husband, Aleta gained the power to manipulate light and began a romantic relationship with Vance Astro which created all sorts of friction between teammates. Aleta was the more human (even for an Arcturian) half of one of the strangest unions in cosmic comic history.

    Firelord

    First appearance: Thor #225 (Jul 1974) 

    Created by Gerry Conway and John Buscema

    Fifteen years after Steve Gerber took the Guardians to places undreamed of, Marvel launched the Guardians into their own title in 1990. Jim Valentino, one of the original Image Comics seven, took the helm of their adventures and introduced some power to the team early in the series’ run with the former herald of Galactus, Firelord.

    Firelord is powerful...like Silver Surfer level powerful...like able to go toe-to-toe with Thor powerful. In the present day Marvel universe, Firelord was a figure of ambiguous morality: he had honor but still once served the planet eating Galactus. In the 31st century timeline, Firelord was the Protector of the Universe, a position once held by the heroic Captain Mar-Vell and Quasar. Firelord is more historically associated with Galactus, but for a time, he was the most powerful member of the Guardians.

    Replica

    First appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy #9 (1991)

    Created by Jim Valentino

    Replica is linked to two majorly infamous cosmic villainous groups. She was a Skrull, those dastardly shape shifters that might be the most reviled race in the Marvel cosmos and a member of the Church of Universal Truth, a hyper orthodox and heavily armed cosmic religion that has bedeviled Adam Warlock, Captain Mar-Vell, and the Avengers many times in the past.

    Replica was a rare and shining example of goodness in unexpected places. She had all the shape changing powers of her native race but none of their murderous tendencies. She had the devout faith of her beliefs, but didn’t force it on others. She turned her back on both her Church and her race by joining the heroic Guardians. She helped take out the Grand Inquisitor of her Church and assisted the Guardians in bringing down the Stark, a race of aliens who worship Tony Stark and use Iron Man armor to subjugate planets. Yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds.

    Can someone make sure Kevin Feige and James Gunn are aware of the Stark, please?

    Talon

    First appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy #18 (1991)

    Created by Jim Valentino

    Legend has it that Jim Valentino wanted to have Wolverine join the Guardians but then editor-in-chief Bob Harras balked at the idea of establishing that Wolverine survives 1000 years into the future, so Valentino created Talon. Now, there really hasn’t been a greater example of '90s excess than ol’ Talon. Talon was a member of the Inhumans, which was kind of cool because it tied another long standing cosmic Marvel property to the Guardians but that’s pretty much where the coolness stopped in regards to this orange furred feline Guardian.

    As a Wolverine cipher, Talon had the razor sharp claws and bad attitude, but he was more of a party boy, which made him more annoying than badass. In 1991, Talon was way more host of MTV’s Headbangers Ball Riki Rachtman than he was Wolverine.

    Other than great strength and agility, Talon had the ability to launch his finger and toe nails. Now that’s just freakin’ gross. Valentino upped the power quotient of the character later in his run by making the fungus shooting fur ball the new Sorcerer Supreme, but it wasn’t enough. Talon was just excessive, gross, derivative, annoying, and eventually turned into a semi-villain after being nearly crippled.

    Space Raccoons yes, toenail shooting orange cat wizard people, no.

    Yellowjacket

    First appearance: Avengers # 264 (1986) 

    Created by Roger Stern and John Buscema

    Rita DeMara was one of the most fascinating members in Guardians history. She was a tether to the past for the futuristic team, a former member of Baron Zemo’s Masters of Evil trying to make up for her past misdeeds in the far flung future. After she abandoned Zemo in the present, the former thief who stole one of Hank Pym’s Yellowjacket costumes found herself trapped one thousand years in the future where she went on a fantastic voyage into Charlie 27’s brain and saved the life of the team's resident powerhouse. From there, Yellowjacket was accepted into the fold and became one of their most loyal members, even forging a close friendship with Nikki. Finally, after growing homesick, Yellowjacket decided to return home.

    She could have been quite the story engine for Marvel, the former villain turned hero who touched the future, but poor Rita was murdered at the beginning of the legendarily awful Avengers story arc, The Crossing. If you never read The Crossing, consider yourself lucky as it began with a throwaway death of a former Guardian with tons of story potential and got progressively worse from there. Thankfully, Rita was resurrected during the Chaos War and with connections to Marvel’s next two big film franchises, the Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man; things probably bode well for a return of the yesterday girl that experienced tomorrow.

    Hollywood

    First appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy #17 (1991)

    Created by Jim Valentino

    Jim Valentino’s run on Guardians was filled with hits and misses, but when the Image founder hit, he hit hard. This wise and experienced hero was actually Simon Williams, the Avenger once known as Wonder Man. In the present day, Wonder Man had his share of hardships, so seeing the crusader in the future gave long time Avengers reader a happy ending of sorts for their beloved ionic-powered hero.

    Hollywood was the most popular film star in the galaxy but he still bravely fought side by side with the Guardians and the team’s offshoot, the Galactic Guardians. It was unique experiencing a modern day hero still vital so far in the future and provided Valentino and the Guardians with a tether to the past while giving the readers a familiar icon to rally behind in the sometimes unfamiliar future.

    Mainframe

    First appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy #5 (1990)

    Created by Jim Valentino

    Speaking of classic Avengers in the future, Mainframe was actually the Vision. In the Guardians' future, the Vision had evolved to make up the operating system of an entire planet. Calling himself Mainframe, this hero from the past was tasked with protecting the shield of Captain America and later joined the Galactic Guardians. No matter if he is a humanoid or a being evolved into the technology of an entire planet, the Vision is always a hero.

    Phoenix

    First appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy #11 (1991)

    Created by Jim Valentino

    One of the past Guardians who is probably guaranteed to never appear in a Guardians film, (because Fox lawyers are more powerful than the Infinity Gems).

    Giraud was once a proud resident of New Haven, (not the one in Connecticut) a world inhabited by mutants. When his planet was in danger, Giraud was possessed by the Phoenix Force in order to save his people, and like Jean Grey, Giraud, with all his heroic ideals, took a dark turn. When Giraud contracted a deadly virus, he went insane and makes with the planet destroying (thankfully uninhabited). Giraud, like the other past wielders of the Phoenix Force realized what a terrible burden being a space god of ultimate destruction was and pulled away from the Guardians, but not before he joined the Galactic Guardians and fought a future version of Korvac.

    Man, that’s a lot of cosmic forces of destruction gathered in one place.

    Spirit of Vengeance

    First appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy #12 (1991)

    Created by Jim Valentino

    In the '90s, Ghost Rider was everywhere. It was impossible to swing a hell-forged bike chain without hitting a flame headed pursuer of vengeance. The future was no different, as the Ghost Rider of tomorrow, the Spirit of Vengeance joined with Guardians lore by fighting side-by-side with the Guardians and eventually joining the Galactic Guardians.

    The Spirit of Vengeance was Wileaydus Autolycus for the planet Sarka, a member of the Universal Church of Truth who turned against the zealotry of his religion and, like Replica, joined the Guardians. The Spirit of Vengeance wanted to atone for his Church’s sins and rode his Death Cycle across the spaceways seeking to purify his religion. The Ghost Rider boom of the '90s soon faded after Autoycus’ debut but in our opinion, there is always room for a vengeance seeking alien on a space motorcycle.

    The Road to the Big Screen Begins...the Abnett and Lanning Era

    Star-Lord

    First appearance: Marvel Preview #4 (1976)

    Created by Steve Englehart and Steve Gan

    Before he was a Guardian, Peter Quill starred in his own series of black-and-white features. He was created by Steve Englehart but when the writer left Marvel, the character was taken in a new and more space opera like direction by legendary X-Men writer Chris Claremont. In fact, the first time Claremont’s most famous X artist John Byrne worked with the writer was on Star-Lord. Despite that level of talent involved with the early Star-Lord, the character quickly faded into trivial obscurity until he returned in the Annihilation event.

    Star-Lord epitomizes what makes the modern Guardians so special, he was a forgotten character bursting with potential until he was dusted off by Keith Giffen, Dan Abnett, and Andy Lanning and given a chance to shine. Now, Marvel has a multimedia franchise character on their hands thanks to the work of these three great writers.

    The tale of the modern Guardians of the Galaxy is the story about of a group of rejects who become heroes, and the characters featured in the new Guardians were heroes Marvel had almost forgotten about. No one exemplifies that more than Star-Lord, the face of the Guardians and a leader who is now familiar to sci-fi fans all over the world. Since the first Guardians film, Peter Quill has continued to lead the Guardians, became an Emperor of the Spartax Empire, discovered the identity of his father (it ain’t a Living Planet in the comics), had a star crossed romance with X-Men stalwart Kitty Pryde, and was stranded on Earth where he got involved in a second super hero Civil War.

    Drax

    First appearance: Iron Man #55 (1973)

    Created by Mike Friedrich and Jim Starlin

    Although he wasn't nearly as obscure as Star-Lord, Drax was still an underused character in the world of cosmic Marvel. Drax’s original sole purpose was to destroy Thanos, the being who murdered the future Guardian and nearly killed his daughter. Thanos’ father Mentor needed a killing machine to take out his death worshipping son and used the spirit of the recently murdered Arthur Douglas to create a being with enough rage to fuel his weapon against Thanos. Thus, Arthur Douglas became Drax.

    Drax popped around the Marvel Universe, appearing in Iron Man, Thor, Avengers, Warlock, and Logan’s Run (Whhhaaattt?) becoming a semi-constant space mainstay. Drax joined Adam Warlock’s Infinity Watch after the events of the Infinity Gauntlet and became a familiar sight to fans of cosmic Marvel. But alas, Drax was just a supporting character to Adam Warlock and Thanos, never truly defining himself as a compelling character away from his friend and sworn enemy. Until Drax became a Guardian that is.

    Will future films give us the inevitable Thanos and Drax confrontation? Whatever direction Marvel chooses to go with Drax, it is amazing to think that a former supporting character to Adam Warlock is now a huge film star. And what a star, Drax is one of the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe. You can be sure Marvel has huge things in store for this very literal minded monster. Fun fact, did you know that Drax is a world class saxophone player? The more you know.

    Gamora

    First appearance: Strange Tales #180 (1975)

    Created by Jim Starlin

    Like Drax, Gamora, the deadliest woman in the galaxy, was also deeply embroiled in the Jim Starlin era Warlock and Thanos stories. She is the daughter of Thanos and former lover of Adam Warlock.

    The coolest part about witnessing the arrival of the Guardians is that the entire team is made up of concepts and ideas from different ages of Marvel comics dreamed up by some of the most legendary comic creators of those eras. Think about it, you have a core concept created by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan added to characters created by Englehart, Claremont, and Starlin.

    Gamora represents decades of innovative cosmic storytelling in one deadly package presented to the world in such a way that she can become a legend. That’s the power of the Guardians, taking the once forgotten and making it into something special.

    Recently, Marvel Comics told the tale of Gamora’s origin as the Most Dangerous Woman in the Galaxy continues to be one of Marvel’s most important and intriguing female leads.

    Rocket Raccoon

    First appearance: Marvel Preview #7 (1976) 

    Created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen

    Nowhere is the idea of the forgotten becoming legendary more evident than in Rocket Raccoon. It’s hard to imagine there was a time where Rocket wasn’t a core member of the Guardians, but in fact, that time was not long ago at all. In recent memory, Rocket was a punch line, a trivia question, an oddity, now, he is America’s favorite space hero, a modern day Flash Gordon who, through excellent storytelling and brilliant marketing, is Marvel’s favorite talking animal (sorry Howard).

    [related article: Rocket Racoon's Most Badass Moments]

    Rocket first appeared in the pages of an obscure black-and-white back up feature before popping up in the pages of the Incredible Hulk and finally in his own mini-series. Bill Mantlo infused the character with a likability that transcended the rodent’s comical appearance. Who would have ever believed that Marvel’s next film sensation would be Rocket and his team of space losers? It just goes to show that with the Mouse’s marketing machine and the talent of Marvel’s creators, both in film and comics, anything is possible. And Rocket has soared since the first film taking part in every big Marvel event and storyline. The angry space rodent is now rubbing shoulders with Spider-Man and the Hulk and continues to be a testament to the creative vision of the great Bill Mantlo.

    Groot

    First appearance: Tales to Astonish #13 (1960)

    Created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Dick Ayers

    Also from the anything is possible department, we have Groot. We’ve tracked the creation of the other members of the film Guardians, but Groot stretches back even further than the beginnings of the Marvel Universe. Groot was one of the many giant monsters created by Lee and Kirby in the pre-Marvel superhero era. In his initial appearance, Groot, the Monarch of Planet X tried to take over the Earth until a scientist destroyed him using termites. Yes, a pretty ignominious defeat for a monarch, but Groot’s greatest days were to come, even if he had to wait 48 years for them.

    Despite not appearing for almost half a century, Groot was included in the new Guardians. At first he was played for laughs, acting like an arrogant monarch and getting destroyed a lot, but then, as he lost vocabulary, he gained likeability. As his ability to speak diminished, Groot became a more gentle soul, the most loyal member of the Guardians, the closest thing to a Chewbacca the team has. Think about it, a forgotten Kirby creation, a character that should be a one note joke appeared in movies before Doctor Strange, Black Panther, or Captain Marvel! Of course, we now live in the era of Baby Groot and Disney is ready to fill a Scrooge McDuck like money bin with the coin they are going to make of that lil' adorable Guardian.  

    Adam Warlock

    First appearance: Fantastic Four #66-67 (1967) Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

    Adam Warlock was once the central figure of the cosmic Marvel Universe. He recently played a major role in Abnett and Lanning’s Guardians, but the being formerly known as Him has been absent from the scene for awhile, although with Jim Starlin back at Marvel, that will probably change very soon.

    Poor Warlock, think about it, three of his supporting cast will be major players in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thanos, Drax, and Gamora will soon all become household names and Warlock is nowhere to be seen. With so many of his cast playing major roles in the Marvel films, could Warlock be far behind? It’s hard to imagine an Infinity Gauntlet adaptation without him, isn’t it? And from all hints and clues, after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, that wait may just be over.

    Mantis

    First appearance: Avengers #112 (1973) 

    Created by Steve Englehart and Don Heck

    One of the biggest miracles of Abnett and Lanning’s Guardians of the Galaxy run was that they found a way to present Mantis and not make her annoying. Mantis was introduced in Steve Englehart’s run on the Avengers in the "Celestial Madonna" storyline. The Celestial Madonna arc was conceptually sound but any Bronze Age fan will tell you, it lasted for freakin’ ever.

    Mantis is a martial artist who achieved cosmic awareness and was supposed to be the woman who conceived a new galactic messiah. She had a really annoying way of talking, referring to herself as “This one,” and kind of pissing off her teammates by coming on to most of the male members of the team. She tried to get with Vision, Thor, and Hawkeye before settling on the Swordsman who she conceived her child with before going all ghostie and disappearing. She returned but wasn’t utilized much until she joined the Guardians.

    As a precog, she was a great asset to Peter Quill and even lost her annoying speech patterns but kept her super cute antennae. She was an integral part of the early days of the Guardians and was recently reunited with Star-Lord. She was the first modern day character to be a member of both the Avengers and the Guardians, but “this one” wouldn’t be the last. 

    Bug

    First appearance: Micronauts #1 (1979)

    Created by Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden

    Abnett and Lanning really delved into every corner of the cosmic Marvel Universe in order to assemble their first team of Guardians. Bug was a proud member of the Micronauts, a comic adaptation of a '70s toy line from the legendary toy company Mego that ran way longer than the toys were on store shelves.

    Bug was a swashbuckling ladies man in the Guardians, an acrobatic troublemaker who gave the team a roguish element. Bug even accompanied the Guardians to Earth in their first post Abnett and Lanning appearance in Avengers Assemble, but the suave humanoid insect didn’t make the cut when Marvel launched the Guardians into a new series. One has to wonder if Bug’s inclusion in Avengers Assemble was done because there were aborted plans to include Bug in the film. I guess we’ll never know unless we can BUG Kevin Feige’s office.

    Jack Flag

    First appearance: Captain America #434 (1994) 

    Created by Mark Gruenwald and Dave Hoover

    For a lameass character with red-white-and blue hair, Jack Flag certainly has appeared in some awesome books. He was a large part of Warren Ellis’ Civil Warera run on Thunderbolts where he was crippled and imprisoned in the Negative Zone for defying the Superhuman Registration Act. In the prison, confined to a wheelchair, Jack met the Guardians and was instantly taken with the team even though he claimed to despise cosmic shenanigans. The Guardians cured him of his spinal injuries and he decided to join the team rather to return to Earth where he was a fugitive. Jack did not stay with the team for long, but he was a very human presence on a team of sentient trees and aliens.

    Flag didn’t have any powers or special abilities but proved himself a true Guardian through bravery and cunning. Jack Flag may not have been the coolest Guardian, but he was a hero through and through...despite the hair. Recently, Jack Flag took a place in one of Marvel’s most shocking events. We’re sure you heard about Captain America’s turn to the dark side. You see, Cap revealed himself to be a sleeper agent by uttering the words “Hail Hydra!” after tossing a SHIELD super powered operative out of a plane. That operative was none other than Jack Flag, the first victim of Captain America’s turn to the dark side. All of a sudden, Flag seems way more tragic, huh?

    Cosmo the Space Dog

    First Appearance: Nova #8 (2008) 

    Created by Andy Lanning, Dan Abnett, and Wellinton Alves

    Disney certainly likes their talking dogs which bodes well for this security pooch. The Abnett and Lanning Guardians were headquartered in the flying head of a Celestial, a vessel called Knowhere. Making sure the population of Knowhere was safe was Cosmo, a former Soviet cosmonaut dog gifted with enhanced intelligence.

    Cosmo defined the quirkiness of this era of the Guardians, but like Rocket, he defied his ludicrous premise and became a rich character in his own right. Of course, Cosmo and Rocket never quite liked each other, with Rocket always afraid Cosmo was going to chase him up a tree, but Cosmo was just a vital member of the Guardians as anyone else on the squad. 

    [related article: Explaining the Guardians of the Galaxy post-credits scene]

    Phyla-Vell aka Quasar aka Martyr

    First appearance: Captain Marvel #16 (2003)

    Created by Peter David and Paul Azaceta

    Phyla-Vell has the distinction of carrying the legacy of both Captain Mar-Vell and Quasar, two of the greatest cosmic Marvel heroes of all time. She also was the lover of Moondragon, who just happens to be the daughter of Drax, giving Phyla a connection to another cosmic Marvel mainstay. Phyla-Vell was a fascinating character, a woman trying to forge her own legacy while carrying on the tradition of two great heroes. After she lost her lover Moondragon, Phyla darkened and became the universe’s avatar of death, Martyr.

    Phyla was believed to be killed a number of times, first at the hands of by Warlock’s evil clone, Magus (she got better), then by Thanos himself. When last readers heard of Phyla, she was being mourned on Knowhere after the Thanos Imperative. Hey, Star-Lord returned to life after that battle, so maybe the Quantum Bands of the torchbearer of two heroic legacies will one day burn bright once again!

    Moondragon

    First appearance: Iron Man #54 (1973) 

    Created by Bill Everett, Mike Friedrich, George Tuska, and Jim Starlin 

    Madame MacEvil? The hell? Anyway, Moondragon was one of the most despised Avengers in history, actually mentally forcing Thor to become her lover. That being said, she was a pretty awesome Guardian, maybe because she spent the majority of her run in the book as an actual space dragon. She is the lover of Phyla-Vell (how they did that while Moondragon was in dragon form is anyone’s guess) and the daughter of Drax.

    With her being central to Drax’s origin, one has to wonder if a film appearance is in the future for Moondragon. Moondragon is currently on an idealistic quest to try and find her former lover, where that story picks up will be anyone guess but this character has come a long way from roofieing Thor.

    Moondragon also has a connection to Mantis as she was once believed to also be the potential Celestial Madonna. With her ties to Warlock, Drax, Thanos, and Mantis, it could be only a matter of time before some Hollywood A list actress is forced to shave off their elegant tresses in order to play Moondragon n a future Guardians film.

    Geena Drake

    First Appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy #14 (2014)

    Created by Dan Abnett and Gerardo Sandoval

    After the success of the first Guardians film, Marvel brought back the future Guardians in the comics Guardians 3000. There Dan Abnett continued to work his cosmic magic and make sure that the old school Guardians were still a part of the Marvel Universe.

    During this time, the Earth precog Geena Drake joined the team. She helped the Guardians in a number of adventures and used her ability to see the future to help defeat the Badoon and other cosmic menaces. Drake insured that the Guardians legend is still vital in the future, plus, Abnett named her after the co-creators of the Guardians Gene Colan and Arnold Drake, so how cool is that?

    Davis stands as a reminder of the Guardians of the future and the creators of the past that helped forge the legend that got us all hooked on a feeling.

    Welcome to the Big Time...the Brian Michael Bendis Era

    Iron Man

    First appearance: Tales of Suspense #39 (1963)

    Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby

    When Thanos invaded Earth using a new group of villains called the Zodiac, the modern Guardians arrived to help fight side-by-side with the Avengers. When the dust cleared, Tony Stark decided to accompany the Guardians into space and found himself in the unfamiliar position of being the least technologically aware member of the team. Rocket and Star-Lord both used weapons centuries ahead of the most technologically advanced Stark tech, and Iron Man was like a wide eyed kid in a candy store.

    He didn’t stay with the Guardians for long, but Iron Man’s time with the Guardians was extremely memorable with a romantic liaison with Gamora and the forging of a close friendship with Rocket. He’s back with the Avengers now, but fans will never forget the time Marvel Studios' first star joined their newest film sensations.

    Angela

    First appearance: Spawn #9 (1993) 

    Created by Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane

    Not every super team boasts a character created for another company. When Marvel gained the rights to Angela (because Neil Gaiman is a wizard), the House of Ideas wasted no time including the celestial warrior in the pages of the Guardians of the Galaxy. First off, any time you can include a Nail Gaiman creation in a book, any company worth its salt needs to pull that trigger.

    Since meeting the Guardians, Angela has bonded with her fellow female warrior Gamora and has served as the team’s angelic powerhouse. Will a future Guardians film feature the former Spawn supporting character? It’s a distinct possibility and one that will make Todd McFarlane very grumpy. Whatever the case, Angela brings some otherworldly baddassery to the pages of the book every month. As her presence in the Marvel Universe grows, never forget that the Marvel legacy of Angela began when she joined the Guardians.

    Agent Venom

    First appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #654.1 (2011)

    Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

    In the far future, Vance Astro would bring the Venom symbiote into the mythos of the Guardians, but in the present day, Flash Thompson, the current wearer of the black costume, serves proudly with the team. The inclusion of Agent Venom represents the first time the modern Guardians crossed with the world of Spider-Man, an intriguing prospect for future story directions. What would happen if a radioactive spider bit a sentient tree?

    Flash Thompson is one of Marvel’s oldest characters, and since he lost his legs on the battlefield, one of the most compelling, and for a good long while, Flash was a Guardian. From a high school bully to a galactic savior, not bad for one of Marvel’s oldest characters.

    Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers)

    First appearance: Marvel Super-Heroes #13 (1968) 

    Created by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan

    Phyla-Vell isn’t the only Guardian to be connected to the legacy of the original Captain Mar-Vell. Carol Danvers has been an Avenger, an ally to the X-Men, a member of the Starjammers, and recently, was a proud member of the Guardians. Carol is an accomplished pilot with a keen military mind and does not flinch from cosmic insanity.

    Of course Captain Marvel will soon by joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it is only a matter of time before Danvers is rubbing elbows with the Guardians on the big screen.


    The Thing

    First appearance: Fantastic Four #1 (1961)

    Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

    On Earth, Ben Grimm was always considered a monster. A hero, yeah, but also, a grotesque creature to be feared and shunned. But in space, Ben Grimm is just a hero. After all, a guy with a rocky hide and unmatchable strength is just another Tom, Dick, or Harry. So it was a natural fit when the Thing joined the Guardians of the Galaxy.

    Here, Ben Grimm was more Flash Gordon than Frankenstein, a brave space adventurer that kicked alien ass and kissed alien babes. There was no pathos for Grimm in space as the farther the Thing got from Yancy Street, the more accepted he was by countless alien races. Grimm is back on Earth currently and working with SHIELD, but for a time, the legendary blue eyed Thing clobbered the bad guys in every star system in the galaxy as the Guardians’ resident muscle and pilot. If only we could see this film. You hear me Fox? If only.


    Kitty Pryde

    First appearance Uncanny X-Men #129 (1980)

    Created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne

    Every Han Solo needs a Princess Leia and for a time, that’s exactly what Peter Quill and Kitty Pryde. The Guardian and the X-Man had a legendary space romance after Kitty left the mutant conflicts on Earth to become a member, and for a time, the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Heck man, when Quill became the Emperor of the Spartax people, Pryde even took up the mask and gun of Star Lord, and she was just as great a space hero, if not better, than Quill himself.

    Like all bright burning stars, the Pryde and Quill romance soon burned itself out, but for a while, their love was pure cosmic poetry as the two swashbuckling heroes blazed a path of adventure side by side. Now, Pryde is back on Earth as leader of the X-Men, but her time in space will always melt the hearts of even the mightiest comic entities (someone get Thanos a tissue, the old softy).



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    The most lovable badass in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has a crazy history that stretches back almost 40 years.

    Feature Marc Buxton
    Apr 30, 2017

    Who woulda thunk it? Rocket Raccoon, a once nearly forgotten character that made a very brief splash in the '80s is a multi-media sensation. After the premiere of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, we all fell in love with Marvel’s most battle hardened rodent. Rocket Raccoon is everywhere, from backpacks, to lunchboxes, to toy shelves, animation on Disney XD, to, of course, the pages of Marvel Comics.

    The public has fallen in love with Rocket, but he has been around for quite a while before he exploded back on the cosmic Marvel scene a few years ago. Journey back with us through time to some of Rocket’s greatest moments and appearances and relive the days that fueled Rocket Raccoon’s journey to film stardom.

    That time Rocket appeared as a blunt-smoking supporting character in a backup feature no one ever heard of.

    Marvel Preview #7 (1976)

    by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen

    If this was an episode of VH1’s behind the music, we would start out with the phrase “From humble beginnings…” and things don’t get more humble than "The Sword in the Star." Remember "The Sword in the Star?" Yeah, neither did we, but it was a sci-fi back-up feature that appeared in the black-and-white Marvel Preview #4 and continued in Marvel Preview #7. Irony of irony, the first appearance of the "Sword and the Star" strip backed up the debut of Star Lord, a character that would become vital to the history of Rocket Raccoon once the two space adventures dovetailed together in the 2000s.

    In the second installment of the nearly forgotten strip written by Bill Mantlo with lush art by a young Keith Giffen, when protagonist Prince Wayfinder crashed on Witchworld, he is attacked by a sentient tree. This is another bit of prophetic irony as Rocket would be paired with an anthropomorphic tree a quarter century later. Wayfinder is helped by a blunt smoking, talking raccoon named Rocky and thus, a legend is born. In this initial appearance, Rocky is clearly meant to be read as British, calling Wayfinder “old bean,” “old sock,” and "old shoe,” as well as the making with a few “jolly good shows” throughout the rodent’s debut.

    Wayfinder would appear twice more in the pages of Bill Mantlo’s Micronautsand then fade into obscurity, but Mantlo would remember Rocky. Even in this early and esoteric appearance, there was something about the future Rocket. As soon as the raccoon appeared, the strip went from typical sci-fi melodrama to something fun and different. It was to take a long time, but the blunt smoking rodent wisecracker would make an impact on pop culture and it all started in the all but forgotten "Sword in the Star."

    That time Rocket teamed with the Hulk and fought a despotic mole, a bunch of fascist clowns, and the Black Bunny Brigade.

    Incredible Hulk #271 (1982)

    by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema

    After "The Sword and the Star," Rocky was all but forgotten until the Hulk crashed on a mysterious alien planet called Halfworld. There he met Rocket and the raccoon’s first mate Wal Russ (c’mon Disney, Wal Russ, this is gold!). The whole story centers around an evil mole named Judson Jakes who wants to rule the Keystone Quadrant of the galaxy by finding and deciphering a book called Gideon’s Bible (Rocky Racoon/Gideon's Bible...there's your White Albumreference, stoners). Jakes rules over a legion of vile mercenary bunnies named the Black Bunny Brigade who spent the issue slaughtering sentient woodland creatures. The Black Bunnies are joined by a pack of killer clowns who fly around on circus balls.

    This issue needs to be found and experienced for the sheer joy of witnessing the Hulk and Rocket slaughtering a legion of killer clowns, in space, while wearing Buck Rogers bubble helmets. Rocket and Hulk proceed to smash the bunnies and defeat Jakes before Rocket helps Hulk return home. In this issue, Rocket was at his badass best, a fuzzy Flash Gordon type complete with damsel in distress, blasting clowns and bunnies like it was going out of style. The Hulk was totally secondary to Rocket in his own anniversary issue even though he did get to smash some clowns himself.

    That time Rocket had to save his otter girlfriend from being a pawn in a war between two intergalactic toy companies.

    Rocket Raccoon #1 (1985)

    by Bill Mantlo and Mike Mignola

    Bill Mantlo wasn’t done with Rocket yet, oh no. Bouncing off the momentum of Incredible Hulk #271, our favorite space raccoon, along with Wal Russ and company, next appeared in Rocket’s own mini-series. Along for the ride were Judson Jakes and his killer clowns who vied for control of the Keystone Quadrant against the serpent Lord Dyvyne and the Black Bunny Brigade.

    Mantlo did an awesome job building Rocket’s little segment of the cosmos, an insane pocket of the galaxy brought to life by a young Mike Mignola. Yes, that Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy doing funny animal space opera. If Disney wants to extend Rocket’s adventures they need look no further than this mini, a mash-up of serious space drama and silly animal fun.

    That time Rocket teamed with a rabbit to fight a terrifying creature called The Red Breath.

    Rocket Raccoon #2 (1985)

    by Bill Mantlo and Mike Mignola

    On Rocket’s world, all humanity is insane and it is the job of the animals to keep them happy, safe, and entertained. Some Rocket highlights from this series include Rocket teaming with his sworn enemy Blackjack O’Hare to take out a terrifying creature called the Red Breath, a formless terror that erases anything it touches from reality.

    Rocket may at first seem like a novelty character but there is an undercurrent of terror and drama always surrounding the space ranger. The Red Breath is a frightening concept of oblivion and somehow it merges with the world of funny animal levity that also defines Rocket. Rocket defeats the Red Breath thus proving that he can stand up to more than clowns and rabbits, and that even the darkest terrors contained in the galaxy are no match for the quick wits and toughness of the universe’s smallest protector.

    That time Rocket gave a worm an orgasm.

    Rocket Raccoon #3 (1985)

    by Bill Mantlo and Mike Mignola

    Other great Rocket moments of the series include Rocket dog fighting a blimp with a baboon’s face and deadly banana bombs manned by a crew of apes wearing epaulets while being bombarded by clown tanks. All drawn by Mike Mignola, we must remind you.

    After Rocket’s ship crashes, he and his crew, including Blackjack O’Hare, escape by riding the Wild Worms of Halfworld, giant albino worms that wear saddles on their pleasure centers. So essentially, Rocket escaped capture by baboons and clowns by riding a worm’s perpetual orgasm. Methinks Disney might skip that bit.

    That time Rocket kind of visited Mos Eisley.

    Rocket Raccoon #3 (1985)

    by Bill Mantlo and Mike Mignola

    What’s a space opera without a cantina? After his ride on the horny albino worms, Rocket is predictably betrayed by Blackjack who calls on his crew of cutthroat animals to take down the raccoon. A huge bar fight ensues where the mercenary rabbit tries to abduct Rocket’s gal pal Lylla. The feisty Lylla takes matters into her own hands and takes down the bunny proving herself to be much more than a damsel in distress.

    Rocket and his pals blast their way out of the bar causing much grisly death to O’Hare’s crew of scum. This cantina brawl was high octane sci-fi mayhem at its finest in a shoot out to end all shoot outs. Sorry about the mess.

    That time Rocket saved an entire race from madness while fighting clowns and apes before flying off into the sunset inside a starship shaped like a giant mechanical person.

    Rocket Raccoon #4 (1985)

    by Bill Mantlo and Mike Mignola

    The fabulous mini ended with Rocket and his pals saving the humans of the Keystone Quadrant from perpetual lunacy by distributing helmets that allowed them to do the one thing they were never able to do, quietly think. It wasn’t easy, as Dyvyne and Jakes both sent their armies to take down Rocket and insure the humans would return to madness. Rocket fends off both armies and saves the humans he was tasked with protecting before flying off in a giant robot ship shaped like a titanic person.

    The cover of this issue features Rocket, saber in hand, riding a robotic golden horse while clutching the severed head of a clown. That’s all you need to know really. For a very long period of time, this would be the end of Rocket and his adventures with his crew of creatures. When he would next appear, he would start his long journey into the mainstream Marvel Universe.

    That time Rocket was recruited on a suicide mission to save the galaxy from mechanical genocidal warlords.

    Annihilation Conquest: Star Lord #1 (2007)

    by Keith Giffen and Timothy Green II

    When X-Men baddies the Phalanx took over Kree space, the Kree had no choice but to turn to a low tech band of renegades for help. It was 15 years since Rocket’s mini ended, and other than a brief appearance in the Sensational She-Hulk, that was it. But with Annihilation: Conquest, Rocket was back and featured in a major Marvel cosmic event.

    In the first issue of Star Lord’s series, Rocket met Peter Quill and Groot for the first time, two characters he would have an indelible bond with moving forward. The seeds that would eventually grow into the new Guardians of the Galaxywere planted here in the first meeting between future film superstars.

    That time Rocket hocked a loogie on a tiny sentient royal tree from Planet X.

    Annihilation Conquest: Star Lord #3 (2007)

    by Keith Giffen and Timothy Green II

    The early interactions between Rocky and Groot weren’t all lovey-dovey. After Groot was seemingly destroyed helping save his squad, the tree emperor of Planet X was left in sprig form waiting to grow into a menacing wooden behemoth once again. At this point, Groot was an arrogant aristocrat, after all, he was royalty, and after repeated petulant demands for water, Rocket responded by spitting on the tree king of the cosmos. Things would get better between rodent and tree, but this moment defined Rocket as the take no crap Raccoon fandom would fall in love with.

    That time Rocket joined the Guardians when he was drunk to help a friend and saved the galaxy from the Universal Church of Truth

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 #1 (2008)

    by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and Paul Pelletier

    After Rocket, Starlord, and company took down the Phalanx, they decided to band together to take on any future galactic level threats. Starlord got a team together and the big hearted raccoon only agreed to join if Peter Quill stopped blaming himself for the Phalanx incursion. Of course, Rocket was also deep into his cups at the time.

    The first threat the not yet dubbed Guardians of the Galaxy faced was the Universal Church of Truth, a nutty religious space cult that was trying to open a gateway to bring an elder space god through to wreck all kinds of havoc. While Adam Warlock and the female Quasar held the gate open, Rocket took out the tentacled terror from beyond with a well placed grenade. You can always count on Rocket for a well placed grenade. Rocket quickly proved he could hang with the cosmic big boys of the Guardians although the rest of the team did balk at his suggestion of naming the team “The Ass-Kickers of the Fantastic.”

    That time the Guardians broke up and Rocket started his own team.

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 #7 (2009)

    by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and Paul Pelletier

    If there was any doubt that Rocket is the heart of the Guardians, it was quelled when the Guardians broke up. When the current team of Guardians found out that Starlord used the mental powers of the Celestial Madonna Mantis to brainwash them into joining his dream team, Drax, Gamora, Quasar, and Warlock got mighty pissed at Peter Quill and abandoned the team.

    But Rocket, who was also angry at Peter, believed in the idea of a team of heroes to protect the cosmos, so he created his own team consisting of Bug, Groot, Major Victory, and Mantis, a team he capably led in Peter’s absence. Rocket and his team of new Guardians proved themselves worthy of the name when they took down the Badoon, a race of murderous aliens who were destined to wipe out humanity one thousand years later. Without Rocket, the Guardians would have burned out before their legend got started.

    That time Rocket and his team teleported to the Negative Zone and landed in the midst of hordes of hostiles.

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 #10 (2009)

    by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and Brad Walker

    So, Peter Quill was locked inside a Negative Zone prison designed to contain hostile super humans. At the gates, hordes of hostile creatures led by Blastaar were trying to lay siege to the prison which held a portal to Earth. Rocket and his crew locked onto Peter’s helmet so they could teleport in and pull their pal out.

    Sadly, one of Blastaar’s minions was wearing the purloined helmet and Rocket ported into the midst of Blastaar’s army, which was unfortunate for Blastaar’s army as Rocket and his band cut through the hostiles in order to save their friend. Fur flew, Earth was saved, and Rocket had his chum back. All in a day’s work.

    That time it was revealed that Rocket used to hang with the Starjammers.

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 #13 (2009)

    by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and Brad Walker

    Jeez, Rocket should probably lay of the teleporting. During the opening salvo of the War of Kings, Rocket led a team of Guardians to parlay for peace with the Shi’ar who were in the midst of a conflict with the Kree. When Rocket tried to teleport his team aboard a Shi’ar ship, he was shocked to find the vessel was shielded. Rocket and company were helplessly floating in space when the Starjammers rescued them.

    Turns out, Rocket used to hang with Corsair’s band of space marauders and was still tight with them. A raccoon space pirate? Yeah, I’d read that series. Rocket just gets more Han Solo by the second, don’t he?

    This all led to Rocket trying to help Empress Lilandra take her throne back from the evil Lord Vulcan in an epic conflict between the Shi’ar, Kree, Inhumans, and the Guardians. In the middle of it all was a little raccoon with a big gun who didn’t blink at any of the cosmic insanity exploding around him.

    That Time Rocket was eaten by an other-dimensional spider/snake thing.

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 #20 (2010)

    by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and Brad Walker

    After the events of the War of Kings, a huge fault in space opened and it was up to the Guardians to see what was on the other side. The Guardians’ bravest, Rocket and Drax, used Groot’s branches as tethers to go into the breach. What they found was a burrow of interdimensional spiders.

    The cool thing about this moment was that the Guardians’ telepath Moondragon was physcically linked to Rocket, giving the rest of the Guardians and the reader a clue into what was going on in Rocket’s head. Turns out, Rocket was more animalistic than he let on, that every instinct screamed at him to get to safety, to not go towards danger. So every time fans have seen Rocket bravely launch himself into battle, he was defying every baser instinct in his mind. Now that’s some bravery.  

    That time Rocket helped take down Thanos.

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 #25 (2010)

    by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and Brad Walker

    The worshipper of death, the mad god Thanos will indeed be appearing in the Guardians of the Galaxy film but the long awaited movie won’t be the only time Thanos and the world of the Guardians have intersected. In the final issue of the second volume of Guardians, Thanos awoke and faced down the entirety of the team.

    The Mad Titan was finally taken down by Starlord and a blast from a Cosmic Cube, but Rocket was also present. The feisty little raccoon faced down the most feared being in the galaxy with nothing more than piss, vinegar, and a huge f’n gun. From killer clowns and space apes to Thanos, Rocket has come a long way.

    That time Rocket was left as the torch bearer.

    Thanos Imperative #6 (2011)

    by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and Miguel Sepulveda

    After Nova and Starlord were trapped in the Cancerverse (oh comics) with Thanos, Rocket was left carrying the torch for the Guardians. This was essentially the end of the line for the Abnett and Lanning Guardians with Rocket left behind to keep the dream alive. How Starlord returned has still not been explained in Marvel continuity, but with his best friend and inspiration gone, Rocket kept the idea of the Guardians alive so the flame could be rekindled.

    At Starlord’s grave, Rocket’s last words to his pal Peter Quill were, “Damn it Pete. Why’d you guys have to be such heroes?” The raccoon’s lament was poignant and powerful as he was left alone to carry on the Guardians’ legacy.

    That time Rocket took a job as a mail clerk and got fired for killing a clown during work hours and returned home.

    Annihilators #1-4 (2011)

    by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and Timothy Green II

    After the death of Starlord (he got better) and the disbanding of the Guardians, a despondent Rocket wanted to escape from space jockeying and adventure so he took a job in an office mail room. It was all kind of like Office Space but with a sentient space raccoon until a clown from the original Mantlo/Mignola mini was shipped to Rocket and tried to kill him during business hours. Rocket was canned and returned to a life of adventure which eventually led him to return to the Keystone Quadrant.

    The whole thing was a loving tribute to the worlds and concepts dreamed up by Bill Mantlo with all the elements of Rocket’s first seroes were revisited like Wal Russ and Blackjack. Rocket saved his old stomping grounds from the evil of the Star Thief and had his heroic spirit rekindled. Plus, Rocket blasting evil space clowns? It just never gets old.

    That time Rocket was exploited by an evil media conglomerate.

    Annihilators: Earthfall #1-4 (2011)

    by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and Timothy Green II

    Disney is about to market Rocket out the wazoo, but even that will be nothing compared to the time that Rocket and Groot were caught in the thrall of Mojo, the spineless, corpulent television exec that forced Rocket to be his latest multi-platform media star complete with action figures (Build-a-Groot!). Rocket and Groot kicked Mojo’s jaundiced butt and even forced the exec to cut them in on their merchandising sales. You think Rocket made the same deal at gunpoint with Disney?

    That time Rocket met the Avengers for the first time and made Jarvis order him a pizza.

    Avengers Assemble #5 (2012)

    by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

    As awesome as Abnett and Lanning’s Guardians of the Galaxy book was, it was always on the fringes of the Marvel Universe, so Rocket never really had a chance to interact with any mainstream heroes like the Avengers or the X-Men. That all changed when Thanos arrived on Earth. The Guardians followed their most terrifying adversary and Rocket met the Avengers for the first time.

    With the threat of Thanos imminent, with his first battle side by side with the legendary Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man, was Rocket overwhelmed? Nope, he was more concerned with ordering a pie from Ray’s Pizza so he didn’t have to battle Thanos on an empty stomach.

    That time Rocket invented a really violent catchphrase.

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 #2 (2013)

    by Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven

    The Earth was being invaded by the Badoon (again) and Rocket and the Guardians were the planet’s only defense. With Iron Man by their side (hey, the Guardians were going to be movie stars, they needed the popular guys around now), Rocket and his team desperately were trying to defend London from a Badoon strike force. Rocket singlehandedly took down two Badoon ships by boarding one and taking out the crew in rapid succession.

    For each vile lizard alien he killed, he shouted “Bam! Murdered You! Bam, Murdered You” until the raccoon stood alone. This has kind of become Rocket’s version of “It’s Clobberin’ Time,” but way more violent. With this issue, as the countdown to the film began in earnest, Rocket and his battle cry showed fans and Badoon alike that this was one raccoon not to be trifled with.

    That time Rocket and Tony Stark bonded over Star Trek.

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 #5 (2013)

    by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli

    Of course, during his time with the Guardians, Tony Stark had space sex with Gamora. When finding out about this brief romantic convergence, Rocket was shocked that Stark would be brave enough to hook up with the legit deadliest woman in the galaxy. Stark told Rocket that ever since he was nine years old, he wanted to hook up with a green woman after seeing Captain Kirk do it on Star Trek.

    Of course, Rocket has no idea what Star Trek was but it’s hilarious to think Stark had a hook up list based on classic sci-fi. It’s also hilarious to think that Rocket might want to catch up with Trekand binge watch it on Netflix to see the inspiration for Stark’s bucket list. Let’s just hope he doesn’t start with Enterprise, Earth would never survive Rocket’s wrath.

    That time he took on the Shi’ar Imperial Guard to save Jean Grey and met a couple of Earth raccoons.

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 #13 (2014)

    by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli

    They don’t come any tougher than the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, a veritable legion of super-powered beings led by Gladiator. When the Guard came to take down the newly arrived time displaced pre-Phoenix Jean Grey, Rocket and the Guardians felt it was a grave injustice to kill a young girl for crimes she had yet to commit. So Rocket did what Rocket does, he grabbed an improbably big gun and he took on the Imperial Guard despite being outnumbered and out powered.

    The Guardians won, forging a union with the young All-New X-Men. After the battle, Rocket stumbled across two Earth raccoons and was horrified to see his brethren didn’t wear pants. That’s Rocket, a warrior with the courage to face down the combined might of the Gladiator and the Imperial Guard but severely off put by raccoon genitals.  

    That time he found out he might not be the only raccoon in the galaxy.

    Guardians of the Galaxy: Tomorrow’s Avengers #1 (2013)

    by Brian Michael Bendis and Ming Doyle

    There he was, in a bar, bragging about his former conquests like he is wont to do, when an alien drunkard informed Rocket he once saw a being just like him. Rocket knew this was impossible because as far as he knows, there are no beings in the galaxy like him. When Rocket got heavy handed with the alien, a shot rang out, and the alien lay dead. All Rocket saw was a hooded figure, short of stature and limb on a rooftop with a smoking gun.

    This intriguing little plot thread continued into Rocket Raccoon#1 by Skottie Young and is sure to give fans of Rocket many great moments as Marvel’s newest sensation blasts off into future adventures.

    That time Rocket gave the stink eye to the Punisher.

    Original Sin #4 (2014)

    by Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato

    There’s a whole bunch of cosmic shenanigans going on in Original Sin. After the murder of the large craniumed voyeur, Uatu the Watcher, a bunch of heroes from different factions all try to get to the bottom of the cosmic homicide. Rocket found himself allied with his Guardian pal Gamora and her crew, on the opposing side was a team led by Doctor Strange that just happened to include Frank Castle, otherwise known as the Punisher.

    Now, many think Castle is the biggest hard ass in the Marvel Universe, but Rocket seemed to disagree. Our raccoon hero may have only came up to Castle’s thigh, but Rocket stood toe-to-toe with the Punisher, not blinking and even referring to the crazed vigilante as “Skull Boy.” Not that we measured, but Rocket’s gun was just way bigger than Castle’s. This moment solidified Rocket as a legit hardcase in the Marvel Universe, a rodent that dared the always froggie Punisher to jump, and in response, Castle just stood still.

    That Time Rocket Became a Solo Star After All Those Years of Obscurity

    Rocket Raccoon #1 (2014)

    By Skottie Young

    What Bill Manto started in Marvel’s black and white mags of the 1970s came to a head in 2014 as Rocket Raccoon finally got his own monthly series. Yeah, it wouldn’t have been published if not for the film success, but cartoonist Skottie Young began a series that was part classic Flash Gordon and part Bill Watterson’s Spaceman Spiff.

    Young proved that the heavy drinking always killing space raccoon was more than just a punchline and could headline his own series. Young brought back many classic Rocket foes and concepts as he mined from Mantlo’s past to bring the raccoon of the hour to the present. Since 2014, Rocket has been a constant solo star in his own series and in a few series he shared with his best bud Groot. But Young did it best and no Rocket lover should miss the first regular Rocket Raccoon solo series.


    That Time Rocket fought in the Marvel Super-Hero Civil War (Well, the Second One)

    Rocket Raccoon And Groot #7-10 (2016)

    by Nick Kocher and Michael Walsh

    Rocket Raccoon was once a trivial piece of Marvel history. His appearances were few and far between and only the most knowledgeable Marvel nerd knew of the space raccoon’s existence. Boy, all that has changed, and now, when Marvel has a huge crossover event (and by that we mean every thirty seconds), Rocket is usually there murdering people’s faces.

    Take Civil War II (please!) for example. When Captain Marvel and Iron Man battle over the morality of using an Inhuman precog to make arrests before a crime is committed, all heck breaks loose and Rocket and Groot must choice sides in this conflict. Somehow, during this event, in the pages of Rocket Raccoon and Groot, the pair of space pals end up in Georgia on an unforgettable bounty hunt as the civil war gets really uncivil thanks to this fighting mad rodent and tree. Also, check out the Civil War II series itself because Rocket is all over the place proving that he is the unlikeliest Marvel A-lister of them all while gleefully taking pot shots at some of Marvel’s mightiest heroes.


    That Time Rocket and Kraven the Hunter Almost Destroyed New York City

    Rocket Raccoon #1-5 (2016-2017)

    By Jorge Coelho and Matthew Rosenberg

    We all know that classic Spider-Man villain and possessor of the most awesome facial hair ever Kraven the Hunter hunts the world’s most dangerous game. And if you’ve been paying attention to this article you know that nothing is more dangerous than a pissed off space raccoon with a big kerflarcking gun. And that’s the battle fan got to witness in 2016’s Rocket Raccoon series.

    After the events of Civil War II, Rocket and his fellow Guardians found themselves stranded on Earth. Rocket was just trying to get by and get off the planet he hates the most, when Kraven comes a-calling. Kraven has hunted Marvel heroes for a long time, but he never met prey like Rocket. When Kraven came screeching up in his Kra-Van (no, we’re not kidding, it was glorious), it was very hard to tell hunter from prey as all sorts of fur was flying. It all ended with the Statue of Liberty in pieces and raccoon fur and goatee hairs falling from the sky. We don’t often get to see Rocket take on classic Marvel Earthbound villains, but this battle that was red of tooth and claw was one for the ages.


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    With Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 about to hit screens, we look at the early days of Marvel's cosmic team.

    Feature Marc Buxton
    May 1, 2017

    The Fantastic Four, X-Men, Spider-Man, Captain America, The Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, the Avengers, Daredevil, and arguably Doctor Strange, these are the core concepts and characters of the Marvel Universe. Virtually everything else in the Marvel Universe has a thread that connects to one of these titles. For the most part, these are the brands that the mainstream world is familiar with. Marvel and Disney took a huge gamble with Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, and it paid off, proving that Marvel's C-list can carry a blockbuster when the right talent is involved.

    The Guardians of the Galaxy have been around for a long time, since the waning days of the Silver Age, and while the title has had periods of moderate success, until recently it usually failed to make any lasting impact. The Guardians were traditionally a footnote, an obscurity, a title with a cult following but no history of sustainability. The first Guardians of the Galaxy movie did what almost fifty years of print (yes, they’ve been around that long) couldn't. But the Guardians of the Galaxy have gone through some complex changes over the years. Heck, Marvel even switched the team’s time period in the past decade!

    When the Guardians first appeared in 1969, the team that made its debut in Marvel Super-Heroes #18 was completely different than the one that made its film debut in August of 2014. The first appearance of the team was penned by Arnold Drake, best known for creating DC’s Doom Patrol, with art by the great Gene Colan. It’s ironic that with his illustrious career primarily with DC, that Marvel got an Arnold Drake creation to the silver screen before Warner Bros., but that’s a subject for another column.

    The original Guardians were introduced as a team of aliens led by a human who was trapped in a cryogenic sleep for 1000 years. Members of the team include a crystallized Plutonian named Martinex, a giant from Jupiter named Charlie-27, and a fin-headed archer from Alpha Centauri named Yondu. In interviews taking place in the intervening years, those involved claimed the mission statement of the title was Star Trek meets The Dirty Dozen, but what fans got was a static, uneven sci-fi piece as the foursome took on the evil aliens, the Badoon in the far future.

    But it was the future setting that made this otherwise forgettable one-shot stand out, as this was the first time Marvel readers were able to see the future through the eyes of protagonists. Sure there was Kang in the Avengers, but he came to the present, readers never got to see more than a glimpse of what Lee and Kirby’s universe may become. Alas, Drake’s throwback style didn’t fit in within the bombastic Marvel Universe and the series was soon forgotten…until Steve Gerber came along.

    When Steve Gerber became the writer of the Guardians feature in Marvel Presents #3, the writer worked the same magic he had on offbeat creations like Howard the Duck, Man-Thing, and the Defenders. Gerber took characters that were practically blank slates and brought his own unique personality to the character’s already appealing designs. Gerber added the enigmatic Starhawk, and Nikki, a young girl from Mercury who added a youthful exuberance to the cosmic adventures as well providing the book a much needed point-of-view character. The team quickly popped up in Marvel Two-In-One and, most importantly, Avengers, where they played a “The Korvac Saga.” Their participation in the battle against Korvac, one of the most iconic stories of the Bronze Age, established the Guardians as legitimate players in the Marvel Universe.

    The Guardians hung out on the periphery until the '90s when editor-in-chief Tom Defalco wanted to expand the Marvel line. He turned to Jim Valentino to guide the Guardians’ first solo title, and the book was an instant hit thanks to Valentino’s energetic storytelling. The new book took advantage of the futuristic setting by using familiar elements of the Marvel Universe like Captain America’s shield, Tony Stark’s tech, the Phoenix, Ghost Rider, and even a time traveling female Yellowjacke to keep a new generation of comic readers engaged and guessing. The book even had a spinoff mini-series, Galactic Guardiansbut it quickly fizzled when Jim Valentino departed to co-found Image Comics. 

    While all this was going on, the Guardians weren't the only cosmic beings exploring the Marvel cosmos. Creators Jim Starlin and Steve Englehart excelled at cosmic adventure introducing characters like Adam Warlock, Thanos, Drax, Gamora, and many more alien heroes and villains that served to enrich the Marvel Universe outside of Earth. In the '80s, the heroic Marvel population grew by one when Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen introduced Rocket Raccoon in the obscure Marvel Premiere back-up feature “The Sword in the Star.” Meanwhile, Star-Lord, created in 1976 by Steve Englehart and Steve Gan, had been bouncing around the Marvel Universe. Star-Lord had a brilliantly conceived origin and was worked on by such luminaries as Chris Claremont and John Byrne, but the adventures of Peter Quill failed to find a foothold in the ever changing and finicky publishing landscape that was the newsstand.

    These obscure characters existed, they were fleshed out, and they were ready for a talented creator or creators to step in and make them realize their full potential. Enter, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, otherwise known as DnA, and their cosmic opus, Annihilation. DnA wanted to present a cosmic crossover event with cinematic action and huge stakes. They just needed the cosmic players to populate the tale of universal armageddon.

    One of the titles Abnett and Lanning revived was Guardians of the Galaxy, but this time they needed the team to be smack dab in the present Marvel Universe. The team picked up the threads of visually stunning but underutilized characters like Drax and Gamora, added Star-Lord and Phylla-Vell (the daughter of the original Captain Marvel), and did something absolutely unexpected, adding Rocket Raccoon to the mix along with, startlingly, the long forgotten Kirby monster, Groot, the sentient tree. Moreover, the writing duo played the farcical pairing completely straight, and against all odds, the formula worked. 

    The book garnered a cult following, but also, and more importantly, it got the attention of Marvel Studios who saw the energy and marketability of the team, and it inspired the lineup we now have on screen.

    If you're looking for a jumping on point for Guardians of the Galaxy comics, this is it, and we have a whole reading guide for you right here.


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    George R. R. Martin's letters to Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Don Heck say a lot about his own writing.

    Feature John Saavedra
    May 1, 2017

    While the young Fantastic Four were preparing to challenge the mighty Molecule Man in 1963, a teenage George R. R. Martin was busy writing a letter to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the book's creative team. Martin, who was destined to become the scribe of many great works of genre fiction, was just a boy from Bayonne, NJ who had fallen in love with Marvel superheroes -- the boldness of their stories, their relatable origins, and the audaciousness of their colorful get-ups, courtesy of geniuses like artists Kirby and Steve Ditko. And like many other youngsters growing up in the '60s, Martin had strong opinions about these characters. 

    His letter to Lee and Kirby, published in Fantastic Four #20 (1963), demonstrates a precocious and loquaicious eloquence that might even be a bit on the sarcastic side. You can decide. Either way, it's quite a piece of work for his first published piece. 

    Here's Martin talking about the letters himself:

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    The letter concerns Fantastic Four #17 (1963), in which the team defeats their archnemesis for what seems like the final time. Doctor Doom falls to his death, which must've been a shocking conclusion for readers of the time. Of course, Lee and Ditko would reveal two months later, in Amazing Spider-Man #5 that Doctor Doom had survived the fall from his airship via a secret jetpack. 

    If the letter is sincere, Martin expresses his admiration for the issue and the book in general as "the world's best mag!!!" Or if it's a gripe about the ridiculousness of Lee and Kirby's creations, it at least showcases his early mastery of sarcasm and his talent for being sardonic, even back then. For more examples of Martin's strong opinions, visit his LiveJournal

    Here's the letter, courtesy of the Marvel archives:

    Martin talked to writer John Hodgman in public radio's The Sound of Young America about what made Lee and Kirby's characters unique and huge influences on his later work:

    The Marvel comics that I was writing letters to were really revolutionary for the time. Stan Lee was doing some amazing work. Up until then, the dominant comic book had been the DC comics, which at that time were always very circular: Superman or Batman would have an adventure, and at the end of the adventure they would wind up exactly where they were, and then the next issue would follow the same pattern. Nothing ever changed for the DC characters.

    The Marvel characters were constantly changing. Important things were happening. The lineup of the Avengers was constantly changing. People would quit and they would have fights and all of that, as opposed to DC, where everybody got along and it was all very nice, and of course all the heroes liked each other. None of this was happening. So really, Stan Lee introduced the whole concept of characterization [chuckles] to comic books, and conflict, and maybe even a touch of gray in some of the characters. And boy, looking back at it now, I can see that it probably was a bigger influence on my own work than I would have dreamed.

    Looking back at the Fantastic Four's earliest adventures (and the stories of many of Lee and Kirby's other stellar creations, such as X-MenThe AvengersIron ManThor, and Hulk), you can see the tales that influenced Martin's work. The strange worlds of Martin's early science fiction short stories (take a look at his stellar debut collection, A Song for Lya), his focus on the exotic scenery and supernatural threats, undoubtedly stem from the interdimensional adventures of the Fantastic Four. A good first sign of Martin's White Walkers beyond the Wall can be found in his short story "With Morning Comes Mistfall," (published in Analogin 1973) in which tourists eye a misty valley full of killer wraiths from the safety of a castle. You can already imagine the Night's Watch.

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    Lee and Kirby's preoccupation with underdogs who are destined to reach their full potential, honorable men and heinous villains with human desires, made it into Martin's pages as well. Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, and Ramsay Bolton, for example, must all rise to the occasion of destiny. The men of very different beginnings journey to find their place in the world, much like the "freaks and mutants" that inhabited '60s Marvel comics.

    At the forefront of Lee and Kirby's work is the family dynamic of books like Fantastic Four and The Avengers, stories in which we watch the world's greatest superheroes unite, fight, struggle, forgive, mourn, and grow together. Reed Richards, Johnny Storm, Susan Storm, and Ben Grimm were constantly in flux, teaming up to save the world, but also facing their own personal struggles. They're a highly dysfunctional team, petty at times, holding deeper grudges than others, and going through the stages of insult, anger, and forgiveness. But the constant was that they ultimately loved each other. 

    Family dominates Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, as the Seven Kingdoms are separated into houses. Even if we might consider the Starks heroes and the Lannisters villains, we feel for them on a family level. There's little more tragic than Cersei's love for her ill-fated children or Jon Snow's quest to live up to the name he was never given. This dynamic continues with the villainous Greyjoys and Boltons. And don't forget the Night's Watch, which might be most powerful example of family in the entire series: lost, cowardly, bad, and honorable men from all over the land coming together to protect the world from a common threat. If that doesn't scream Avengers to you, then I don't know what. 

    Perhaps more overtly, Martin learned from the work of Lee and Kirby that heroes, no matter how great, could fall. This is a lesson that the writer definitely hasn't forgotten while working on A Song of Ice and Fire

    Several "by gumbos" later, Martin wrote another letter, this time published in the pages of The Avengers in 1965. The second letter concerned The Avengers #9 and Fantastic Four#32, issues he hoped to "have mounted in bronze and set on a pedestal in the center of his living room." 

    Avengers #9 introduced a new member of the team: Wonder Man. The story, "The Coming of the...Wonder Man," was framed around the introduction of this strange man, who'd been tricked by the evil Baron Zemo into becoming a superhuman in exchange for his services in his plot to defeat the Avengers. In order to ensure Wonder Man's obedience, Zemo also altered his metabolism in such a way that he could die within a week unless treated regularly with an antidote (silly). But when the Avengers help Wonder Man find a cure, he turns on Zemo and sacrifices himself to save the team. The newest Avenger, gone in the same issue he arrived.

    (I also have to quickly note that Wonder Man is from Paterson, NJ!)

    In his interview for public radio, Martin described his deep appreciation for Wonder Man and his fate:

    I liked Wonder Man. And you know why? [Laughs] Now it’s coming back to me vividly! Wonder Man dies in that story. He’s a brand new character, he’s introduced, and he dies. It was very heartwrenching. I liked the character — it was a tragic, doomed character. I guess I’ve responded to tragic, doomed characters ever since I was a high-school kid.

    Of course, being comic books, Wonder Man didn’t stay dead for long. He came back a year or two later and had a long run for many, many decades. But the fact that he was introduced and joined the Avengers and died all in that one issue had a great impact on me when I was a high-school kid.

    We've seen no shortage of "tragic, doomed characters" in Martin's work, and even one or two that have returned in posthumous form -- no doubt a little nod to comic book deaths. Fortunately for his countless powerful scenes, that has not been usually the case. 

    These letters allowed Martin to enjoy a sort of celebrity among comic book fandom. Other fans wrote him letters in reply, and he eventually began writing critical essays for comic fanzines, such as YMiR, Batwing, and Countdown. Martin later went on to write some stories for Star Studded Comics, a fanzine that published original fiction. One fan even offered to buy Martin a car at one point...

    It's odd to think about your idols (and he has become one of mine) as fans themselves, but that's who Martin was and is still today, reaching the epitome of fandom by speaking to the comic book gods he worshipped and eventually putting what he'd learned to work to become a god himself. That might be the world's greatest story of all. 

    John Saavedra is an associate editor at Den of Geek US. Find more of his work on his website. Or just follow him on Twitter.


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    Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Iron Fist, and others will team up as The Defenders in 2017! Here's everything we know.

    NewsMike CecchiniJoseph Baxter
    May 2, 2017

    Marvel's plan to team Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist (and possibly some members of their supporting casts) in The Defenders Netflix series are well underway, and we'll see it later this year. The Defenders showrunners are Douglas Petrie and Marco Ramirez (Daredevil Season 2), with Drew Goddard (Daredevil Season 1, The MartianLost) returning as executive producer. The Defenders is currently filming in New York City.

    The Defenders Latest News

    The Defenders has released a teaser promo that effectively reminds us that Elodie Yung’s Elektra has a part to play in the epic summer team-up of Marvel’s Netflix street level heroes.

    We last saw Elektra in the concluding moments of Daredevil Season 2, when the volatile romance between her and Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock ended – in an inevitable spin on her classic comic book fate – with her apparent death during a clash with clandestine ninja criminal organization the Hand by returning rival Nobu Yoshioka (Peter Shinkoda). However, as we also saw, the Hand, with post-mortem interest in Elektra, dug her up and placed her body into a sacred sarcophagus to be reborn as their new leader the Black Sky. Relevantly, the new promo for The Defenders gives us a slight tease for the end result of that macabre process.

    Thus, while expectations for The Defenders would presumably have a resurrected Elektra pegged as an ally, we could find our heroes on the wrong side of her signature set of sais, at least, initially, anyway. Since the Hand played a major role in the last Marvel Netflix series Iron Fist, showcasing a shakeup in its leadership, it will be interesting to see how things play out in The Defenders, with Elektra as the Black Sky, along with Sigourney Weaver’s billed main villain, “Alexandra.”

    The Defenders Release Date

    A security footage-style teaser video titled "Midland Circle Security Elevator B" features street level MCU heroes in a blindfolded Daredevil, bullet-ridden hoodie-rocking Luke Cage, suit-sporting Iron Fist, and a camera-shy Jessica Jones awkwardly sharing an elevator and some obligatory Muzak. However, the time code in the upper-right ending with "08:18:20:17" divulged the long-awaited crucial bit of info.

    With that oblique move, Netflix has officially revealed that The Defenders will premiere on August 18, 2017.

    The Defenders Trailer

    Check out the original teaser, which makes it pretty clear what's up in terms of the team, plus a bonus voiceover from everyone's favorite asshole sensei, Stick:

    Huge bonus points for appropriate use of a Nirvana song.

    The Defenders Story

    It's not much, but it's all we've got right now...

    Marvel’s The Defenders follows Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. A quartet of singular heroes with one common goal - to save New York City. This is the story of four solitary figures, burdened with their own personal challenges, who realize they just might be stronger when teamed together.

    “Every one of them is following their own trail of bread crumbs, trying to unpack a mystery in New York,” showrunner Marco Ramirez told Entertainment Weekly. “We wanted them all caught off guard. Once they’re in that room together, it’s kind of like, ‘Oh, s—, who are you?'”

    The Defenders Photos

    Hit the gallery to see some official stills. 

    [gallery:4]

    And how about this cool poster from Joe Quesada?

    You can also see a whole stack of set photos here.

    The Defenders Cast

    Charlie Cox will return as Matt Murdock/Daredevil, as will Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, Finn Jones as Iron Fist, and Mike Colter as Luke Cage. Don't be surprised if some other characters we meet along the way join the party, like Jon Bernthal's Punisher. Expect supporting cast from each of their shows to at least make appearances, and that will likely include Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson.

    “We're incredibly excited to be able to bring our four street level heroes together in an epic tale woven by Doug and Marco whose work on Marvel’s Daredevil speaks for itself,” said Executive Producer/Head of Marvel Television, Jeph Loeb in a statement when the showrunners were announced in April 2016. "They write and produce not only great action and adventure, but also the heart and touch of humor that's makes us Marvel. With the inclusion of Drew Goddard, we've got a team that's as formidable as the Defenders themselves."

    “This is the big one. Four amazing casts, four amazing series, now all in one amazing story,” added showrunners and Executive Producers Douglas Petrie and Marco Ramirez. “We are thrilled at the opportunity to deliver the show that both we and the fans have been waiting for.”

    The first hero who isn't yet a headliner to be confirmed for the series is none other than Simone Missick's Misty Knight. “I believe I’m safe to say that I will be on The Defenders,” Simone Missick told The Wrap.

    Misty is a huge highlight of Marvel's Luke Cage Netflix series, so having her in The Defenders should be treat.

    The Defenders official Twitter account just keeps dropping casting bombs on us. The latest is that Elodie Yung will appear as Elektra. This show gets better by the day.

    They also confirmed that Jessica Henwick, who will first appear in Iron Fist, will reprise her role as Colleen Wing in the upcoming Defenders team-up series. Here's a brief snippet of Henwick kicking butt:

    The official Twitter account also confirmed what we already knew, that supporting characters from other Netflix shows like Luke CageJessica Jones, and Daredevil like Elden Hensen's Foggy Nelson, Deborah Ann Woll's Karen Page, Scott Glenn's Stick, Simone Missick's Misty Knight, and other will be part of the series.

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    And it doesn't look like we'll get Vincent D'Onofrio's Wilson Fisk in this one, unfortunately.

    Marvel's The Defenders Netflix series will consist of eight episodes (the usual count for their assorted solo series if 13), and Marvel has announced the director of the first two episodes. S.J. Clarkson, whose credits include episodes of Jessica Jones, Vinyl, and Orange is The New Black will occupy the big chair for those crucial first two installments.

    “S.J.'s take on the material is outstanding. We loved her work on “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” and couldn’t think of a more talented and accomplished person to helm the first two episodes of Marvel’s The Defenders,” said Marvel’s Head of Television and Executive Producer, Jeph Loeb in a statement.

    The Defenders Villain

    Sigourney Weaver was announced as the antagonist to deafening applause on the NYCC Main Stage back in October. Since then details have been scarce...until now.

    Entertainment Weekly has our first look at Sigourney Weaver as the mystery antagonist of Marvel's The Defenders Netflix series, although this still doesn't tell us a whole lot. We know her name is "Alexandra" and that's all they're telling us. At least for the moment.

    Here's a photo of her in character, which marks the first official set photo we have from the series at all!

    “We knew it would take something massive to pull these four characters from their individual worlds to work together,” Defenders showrunner Marco Ramirez told EW, “but also small enough that it felt like it existed in our world.” Start your speculation engines, comic fans!

     Last month, Ms. Weaver spoke to Movies.com a little about what to expect.

    "It has a wonderful cast, and we're doing it right here in New York, which means a lot to me...Basically the four heroes come up against this really nice woman, who I'm playing...It's been a blast and I really love my character. I love the shows, too, which I wasn't familiar with before doing this. A real love letter to New York. To me they're not superheroes; they're people with a gift. It's just a different scale, and I'm really enjoying the scale of it. The apocalyptic thing is a little harder for me to understand."

    EW also unveiled the first proper look at the team together:

    We'll update this with more information about The Defenders Netflix series as it becomes available.

    A version of this article originally ran on April 11th. It has been updated with new information.


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    What's next in the American Gods TV show? Check out this promo for the rest of the season...

    NewsDen Of Geek Staff
    May 2, 2017

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    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 star Michael Rooker works blue again as Yondu breaks out.

    Feature Don Kaye
    May 2, 2017

    This article may contain slight spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

    Of all the colorful characters who populate James Gunn’s two Marvel Studios movies about the Guardians of the Galaxy, the most colorful (in more ways than one) may be Yondu Udonta, the Ravager leader and adopted (sort of) father to Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) who is played by the great Michael Rooker. Yondu’s history in the comics is much different than the way he is portrayed on film, but he’s still one of the most interesting characters in the two movies and his story in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is one of the richest and most involving in the about-to-be-released sequel.

    In fact, it’s probably safe to say that we see new layers to Yondu this time out that we didn’t get to see the first time, and that he changes the most during the course of the story. “It was fabulous, you know?” says Rooker about reading Gunn’s script and Yondu’s part for the first time, when we sit down with him for a brief chat during the Vol. 2 press day in Los Angeles. “It comes with a cost though,” he continues, referring to the emotional rollercoaster that the character goes on as he rethinks his life, his choices and his relationship with Quill. “But it's also just the way it should be. It was beautifully done, beautifully written, and I guess in hindsight after this movie comes out and we get a lot of feedback from everywhere, maybe it's gonna be a very positive thing.”

    “I think they’re going to be surprised by Michael Rooker’s performance,” Gunn told us earlier this spring at the press junket for the film The Belko Experiment. “(He) deserves an Academy Award nomination -- no joke -- for his role as Yondu.” When we mention Gunn’s comments to Rooker, he says with a straight face, “That was incredibly nice for him to say, because I did not have time to spike his lemonade.” Asked if he thinks the Academy overlooks performances by actors who just happen to be painted blue (or other colors) for their role, Rooker is diplomatic: “I think they should take all acting and all forms of media and cinema seriously… so yeah, of course I think so.”

    Rooker is a constant presence in all of Gunn’s films, and said that working on the second Guardians feature, with the expectations set way higher after the massive success of the first one, was just as much fun as any other Gunn set. “You know the first time around was awesome,” he recalls. “Needless to say. It was well done, well conceived and well written. The second one is, damn, it's just as good dude. I mean we had a blast doing it. James wrote and directed it exquisitely, genius almost, almost. He's practically perfect in every way, but not completely perfect, as opposed to me (laughs).”

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    One thing that was different from the first Guardians was the addition of new cast members, including Rooker’s old pal from the movie Cliffhanger, Sylvester Stallone. The latter plays the Ravager leader Stakar, with whom Yondu has a volatile relationship. “It’s always great to work with him,” says Rooker. “I'd worked with him in the past and it was old home week. So we just went right into the same shoes and just like, went at it. Very (much like) Cliffhanger, ‘cause we're at each other's throats in that movie too. So it was an easy transition. He came on, boom, it was like, you know I hadn't seen him for years and it just felt like I'd seen him just yesterday. It’s that kind of relationship, so it worked out great.”

    Making the shoot more comfortable for Rooker this time around was his make-up process, which was also improved from the first movie. “It was easier," he says. "The makeup artist came up with a new base that helped in the removal process, which is really good. I think it helped. I don't know how it helped, but I think it made a layer of blue that didn't allow the other paints, the other layers, to soak into my skin quite as much. So it made it easier to take off, which really helped in the overall process, ‘cause by the end of the day you just wanna get the hell out of there.”

    We would probably feel the same way after being painted blue for 12 hours, colorful character or not. But Rooker indicates before we leave that he is ready and willing to suit up should the Marvel powers-that-be find a way to work Yondu into Avengers: Infinity War, next year’s all-hands-on-deck blowout that will team Tony Stark’s squad with the Guardians. While Rooker can’t confirm his involvement, he utters that full-throated laugh of his when we mention that he’s listed in the credits on IMDB. “Isn’t that crazy?” he exclaims. “You’ve got to love IMDB.” Not necessarily, but after Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 comes out, we feel confident in saying that everyone will love Yondu.

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is out in theaters this Friday (May 5).



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  • 05/02/17--19:20: 2017 Eisner Awards Nominees
  • Spend the next few months catching up with all the amazing work showcased with the 2017 Eisner Awards nominees.

    NewsDen of Geek Staff
    May 2, 2017

    It's officially the time of year when we can start getting excited for San Diego Comic-Con. And despite the fact that SDCC has morphed into a multimedia juggernaut over the last decade or so, make no mistake, comics have their biggest night of the year there. The 2017 Eisner Awards nominees are in, and as expected, there's more than enough to stack your summer reading list.

    Here's the complete list, courtesy of their official site.

    We'll have our favorites and predictions up for you soon, but in the meantime, you seriously can't go wrong with a single one of these. Congratulations to all of the nominees!

    Best Short Story
    • “The Comics Wedding of the Century,” by Simon Hanselmann, in We Told You So: Comics as Art (Fantagraphics)
    • “The Dark Nothing,” by Jordan Crane, in Uptight #5 (Fantagraphics)
    • “Good Boy,” by Tom King and David Finch, in Batman Annual #1 (DC)
    • “Monday,” by W. Maxwell Prince and John Amor, in One Week in the Library (Image)  
    • “Mostly Saturn,” by Michael DeForge, in Island Magazine #8 (Image)
    • “Shrine of the Monkey God!” by Kim Deitch, in Kramers Ergot 9 (Fantagraphics)

    Best Single Issue/One-Shot
    • Babybel Wax Bodysuit, by Eric Kostiuk Williams (Retrofit/Big Planet)
    • Beasts of Burden: What the Cat Dragged In, by Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, and Jill Thompson (Dark Horse)
    • Blammo #9, by Noah Van Sciver (Kilgore Books)
    • Criminal 10th Anniversary Special, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)
    • Sir Alfred #3, by Tim Hensley (Pigeon Press)
    • Your Black Friend, by Ben Passmore (Silver Sprocket)

    Best Continuing Series
    • Astro City, by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson (Vertigo/DC)
    • Kill or Be Killed, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)
    • The Mighty Thor, by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman (Marvel)
    • Paper Girls, by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang (Image)
    • Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)

    Best Limited Series
    • Archangel, by William Gibson, Michael St. John Smith, Butch Guice, and Tom Palmer (IDW)
    • Briggs Land, by Brian Wood and Mack Chater (Dark Horse)
    • Han Solo, by Marjorie Liu and Mark Brooks (Marvel)
    • Kim and Kim, by Magdalene Visaggio and Eva Cabrera (Black Mask)
    • The Vision, by Tom King and Gabriel Walta (Marvel)

    Best New Series
    • Black Hammer, by Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston (Dark Horse)
    • Clean Room, by Gail Simone and Jon Davis-Hunt (Vertigo/DC)
    • Deathstroke: Rebirth, by Christopher Priest, Carlo Pagulayan, et al. (DC)
    • Faith, by Jody Houser, Pere Pérez, and Marguerite Sauvage (Valiant)
    • Mockingbird, by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk (Marvel)

    Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8)
    • Ape and Armadillo Take Over the World, by James Sturm (Toon)
    • Burt’s Way Home, by John Martz (Koyama)
    • The Creeps, Book 2: The Trolls Will Feast! by Chris Schweizer (Abrams)
    • I’m Grumpy (My First Comics), by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Random
    • House Books for Young Readers)
    • Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea, by Ben Clanton (Tundra)

    Best Publication for Kids (ages 9-12)
    • The Drawing Lesson, by Mark Crilley (Watson-Guptill)
    • Ghosts, by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic)
    • Hilda and the Stone Forest, by Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)
    • Rikki, adapted by Norm Harper and Matthew Foltz-Gray (Karate Petshop)
    • Science Comics: Dinosaurs, by MK Reed and Joe Flood (First Second)

    Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17)
    • Bad Machinery, vol. 5: The Case of the Fire Inside, by John Allison (Oni)
    • Batgirl, by Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque (DC)
    • Jughead, by Chip Zdarsky, Ryan North, Erica Henderson, and Derek Charm (Archie)
    • Monstress, by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (Image)
    • Trish Trash: Roller Girl of Mars, by Jessica Abel (Papercutz/Super Genius)
    • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, by Ryan North and Erica Henderson (Marvel)

    Best Humor Publication
    • The Further Fattening Adventures of Pudge, Girl Blimp, by Lee Marrs (Marrs Books)
    • Hot Dog Taste Test, by Lisa Hanawalt (Drawn & Quarterly)
    • Jughead, by Chip Zdarsky, Ryan North, Erica Henderson, and Derek Charm (Archie)
    • Man, I Hate Cursive, by Jim Benton (Andrews McMeel)
    • Yuge! 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump, by G. B. Trudeau (Andrews McMeel)

    Best Anthology
    • Baltic Comics Anthology š! #26: dADa, edited by David Schilter and Sanita Muizniece (kuš!)
    • Island Magazine, edited by Brandon Graham and Emma Rios (Image)
    • Kramers Ergot 9, edited by Sammy Harkham (Fantagraphics)
    • Spanish Fever: Stories by the New Spanish Cartoonists, edited by Santiago Garcia (Fantagraphics)

    Best Reality-Based Work
    • Dark Night: A True Batman Story, by Paul Dini and Eduardo Risso (Vertigo/DC)
    • Glenn Gould: A Life Off Tempo, by Sandrine Revel (NBM)
    • March (Book Three), by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf)
    • Rosalie Lightning: A Graphic Memoir, by Tom Hart (St. Martin’s)
    • Tetris: The Games People Play, by Box Brown (First Second)

    Best Graphic Album—New
    • The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, by Sonny Liew (Pantheon)
    • Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash, by Dave McKean (Dark Horse)
    • Exits, by Daryl Seitchik (Koyama)
    • Mooncop, by Tom Gauld (Drawn & Quarterly)
    • Patience, by Daniel Clowes (Fantagraphics)
    • Wonder Woman: The True Amazon by Jill Thompson (DC Comics)

    Best Graphic Album—Reprint
    • Demon, by Jason Shiga (First Second)
    • Incomplete Works, by Dylan Horrocks (Alternative)
    • Last Look, by Charles Burns (Pantheon)
    • Meat Cake Bible, by Dame Darcy (Fantagraphics)
    • Megg and Mog in Amsterdam and Other Stories, by Simon Hanselmann (Fantagraphics)
    • She’s Not into Poetry, by Tom Hart (Alternative)

    Best U.S. Edition of International Material
    • Equinoxes, by Cyril Pedrosa, translated by Joe Johnson (NBM)
    • Irmina, by Barbara Yelin, translated by Michael Waaler (SelfMadeHero)
    • Love: The Lion, by Frédéric Brémaud and Federico Bertolucci (Magnetic)
    • Moebius Library: The World of Edena, by Jean “Moebius” Giraud et al. (Dark Horse)
    • Wrinkles, by Paco Roca, translated by Erica Mena (Fantagraphics)

    Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia
    • The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, by Sonny Liew (Pantheon)
    • Goodnight Punpun, vols. 1–4, by Inio Asano, translated by JN PRoductions (VIZ Media)
    • orange: The Complete Collection, vols. 1–2, by Ichigo Takano, translated by Amber Tamosaitis, adaptation by Shannon Fay (Seven Seas)
    • The Osamu Tezuka Story: A Life in Manga and Anime, by Toshio Ban and Tezuka Productions, translated by Frederik L. Schodt (Stone Bridge Press)
    • Princess Jellyfish, vols. 1–3 by Akiko Higashimura, translated by Sarah Alys Lindholm (Kodansha)
    • Wandering Island, vol. 1, by Kenji Tsuruta, translated by Dana Lewis (Dark Horse)

    Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips (at least 20 years old)
    • Almost Completely Baxter: New and Selected Blurtings, by Glen Baxter (NYR Comics)
    • Barnaby, vol. 3, by Crockett Johnson, edited by Philip Nel and Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics)
    • Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy, Colorful Cases of the 1930s, edited by Peter Maresca (Sunday Press)
    • The Realist Cartoons, edited by Paul Krassner and Ethan Persoff (Fantagraphics)
    • Walt & Skeezix 1931–1932, by Frank King, edited by Jeet Heer and Chris Ware (Drawn & Quarterly)

    Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books (at least 20 Years Old)
    • The Complete Neat Stuff, by Peter Bagge, edited by Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics)
    • The Complete Wimmen’s Comix, edited by Trina Robbins (Fantagraphics)
    • Fables and Funnies, by Walt Kelly, compiled by David W. Tosh (Dark Horse)
    • Trump: The Complete Collection, by Harvey Kurtzman et al., edited by Denis Kitchen and John Lind (Dark Horse)
    • U.S.S. Stevens: The Collected Stories, by Sam Glanzman, edited by Drew Ford (Dover)

    Best Writer
    • Ed Brubaker, Criminal 10th Anniversary Special, Kill or Be Killed, Velvet (Image)
    • Kurt Busiek, Astro City (Vertigo/DC)
    • Chelsea Cain, Mockingbird (Marvel)
    • Max Landis, Green Valley (Image/Skybound), Superman: American Alien (DC)
    • Jeff Lemire, Black Hammer (Dark Horse); Descender, Plutona (Image); Bloodshot Reborn (Valiant)
    • Brian K. Vaughan, Paper Girls, Saga (Image)

    Best Writer/Artist
    • Jessica Abel, Trish Trash: Roller Girl of Mars (Papercutz/Super Genius)
    • Box Brown, Tetris: The Games People Play (First Second)
    • Tom Gauld, Mooncop (Drawn & Quarterly)
    • Tom Hart, Rosalie Lightning: A Graphic Memoir (St. Martin’s)
    • Sonny Liew, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye (Pantheon)

    Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
    • Mark Brooks, Han Solo (Marvel)
    • Dan Mora, Klaus (BOOM!)
    • Greg Ruth, Indeh (Grand Central Publishing)
    • Francois Schuiten, The Theory of the Grain of Sand (IDW)
    • Fiona Staples, Saga (Image)
    • Brian Stelfreeze, Black Panther (Marvel)

    Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)
    • Federico Bertolucci, Love: The Lion (Magnetic)
    • Brecht Evens, Panther (Drawn & Quarterly)
    • Manuele Fior, 5,000 km per Second (Fantagraphics)
    • Dave McKean, Black Dog (Dark Horse)
    • Sana Takeda, Monstress (Image)
    • Jill Thompson, Wonder Woman: The True Amazon (DC); Beasts of Burden: What the Cat Dragged In (Dark Horse)

    Best Cover Artist (for multiple covers)
    • Mike Del Mundo, Avengers, Carnage, Mosaic, The Vision (Marvel)
    • David Mack, Abe Sapien, BPRD Hell on Earth, Fight Club 2, Hellboy and the BPRD 1953 (Dark Horse)
    • Sean Phillips, Criminal 10th Anniversary Special, Kill or Be Killed (Image)
    • Fiona Staples, Saga (Image)
    • Sana Takeda, Monstress (Image)

    Best Coloring
    • Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Green Valley (Image/Skybound)
    • Elizabeth Breitweiser, Criminal 10th Anniversary Special, Kill or Be Killed, Velvet (Image); Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta (Image/Skybound)
    • Sonny Liew, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye (Pantheon)
    • Laura Martin, Wonder Woman (DC); Ragnorak (IDW); Black Panther (Marvel)
    • Matt Wilson, Cry Havoc, Paper Girls, The Wicked + The Divine (Image); Black Widow, The Mighty Thor, Star-Lord (Marvel)

    Best Lettering
    • Dan Clowes, Patience (Fantagraphics)
    • Brecht Evens, Panther (Drawn & Quarterly)
    • Tom Gauld, Mooncop (Drawn & Quarterly)
    • Nick Hayes, Woody Guthrie (Abrams)
    • Todd Klein, Clean Room, Dark Night, Lucifer (Vertigo/DC); Black Hammer (Dark Horse)
    • Sonny Liew, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye (Pantheon)

    Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism

    Best Comics-Related Book
    • blanc et noir: takeshi obata illustrations, by Takeshi Obata (VIZ Media)
    • Ditko Unleashed: An American Hero, by Florentino Flórez and Frédéric Manzano (IDW/Editions Déesse)
    • Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White, by Michael Tisserand (Harper)
    • The Life and Legend of Wallace Wood, vol. 1, edited by Bhob Stewart and J. Michael Catron (Fantagraphics)
    • More Heroes of the Comics, by Drew Friedman (Fantagraphics)

    Best Academic/Scholarly Work
    • Brighter Than You Think: Ten Short Works by Alan Moore, with essays by Marc Sobel (Uncivilized)
    • Forging the Past: Set and the Art of Memory, by Daniel Marrone (University Press of Mississippi)
    • Frank Miller’s Daredevil and the Ends of Heroism, by Paul Young (Rutgers University Press)
    • Pioneering Cartoonists of Color, by Tim Jackson (University Press of Mississippi)
    • Superwomen: Gender, Power, and Representation, by Carolyn Cocca (Bloomsbury)

    Best Publication Design
    • The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, designed by Sonny Liew (Pantheon)
    • The Complete Wimmen’s Comix, designed by Keeli McCarthy (Fantagraphics)
    • Frank in the Third Dimension, designed by Jacob Covey, 3D conversions by Charles Barnard (Fantagraphics)
    • The Realist Cartoons, designed by Jacob Covey (Fantagraphics)
    • Si Lewen’s Parade: An Artist’s Odyssey, designed by Art Spiegelman (Abrams)

    Best Webcomic

    Best Digital Comic

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    We're focusing on the recent, Riddler-centric episodes of Gotham right now...

    FeatureMarc Buxton
    May 2, 2017

    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 Gothamseason 3. And right now we've got our eyes on the mysterious Jerome...or should we call him Joker?

    Watch Gotham Season 3 on Amazon

    Let's get started...but beware of spoilers!

    Gotham Season 3 Episode 16: These Delicate and Dark Obsessions

    - Now, this episode of Gotham didn’t specifically state that Bruce Wayne was in Nanda Parbat, but I think we can safely assume that Bruce Wayne was in Nanda Parbat. How nutty is it that the home of Ra’s Al Ghul has played a major role in two on going DC TV narratives? Of course, Oliver Queen visited Nanda Parbat on Arrowand now we get to see Bruce Wayne’s first visit to the mystic home of Ra’s Al Ghul on Gotham.

    Oddly enough, the city of Nanda Parbat first appeared in Strange Adventures #205 (1967) in a Deadman story. Nanda Parbat was created by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino and yes, Drake also created the original Guardians of the Galaxy. Lots of Arnold Drake getting multi-media love this week. Of course, a Nanda Parbat like city also played a huge role in Batman Begins and now it has become vital to the development of Bruce Wayne into Batman over on Gotham. If that was Nanda Parbat, of course.

    - But the question is, does Raymond J. Barry play Ra’s Al Ghul? Barry was called the Shaman, but the training of Bruce Wayne certainly harkens back to Ra’s’ training of Bruce in Batman Begins. Could the Shaman be a seriously in need of a dip in the Lazarus Pit Ra’s? So is Barry an old Al Ghul, is he one of the Demon Head’s decoys, is he Henri Ducard, or is he some kind of opposing force to Ra’s Al Ghul? Time will tell, but this direction is intriguing. Perhaps we will see a young Talia soon as well?

    - I don’t think we’ve ever had a real Penguin/Poison Ivy connection in the comics, but man, those two nutbags have an odd chemistry together, huh? I would totally watch a sitcom starring Ivy and Oswald.

    - I believe the idea of James Gordon’s father being killed by a drunk driver is a new idea presented in Gotham. Certainly, the idea of the senior Gordon being killed by the Court of Owls is new. But it’s an interesting wrinkle to think that Gordon and Bruce Wayne both lost their fathers at relatively the same ages due to some kind of shadow conspiracy. That certainly makes the bond between the future vigilante and future commissioner much more synergistic.

    - Man, how many overweight gunsels are going to betray Penguin? You would have through that good old Oswald would have learned his lesson with Butch.

    Hit the next pages for the previous episodes!


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    Besides American Gods, what other Neil Gaiman adaptations are heading (or not heading) to TV and film screens near you?

    Feature Simon BrewKayti Burt
    May 3, 2017

    Who doesn't love a good Neil Gaiman adaptation? The British author is prolific, yet still manages to maintain a consistent quality and eccentricity in his work. The American Gods TV show is now on Starz, but it's far from the only Gaiman adaptation in the works.

    A bumper harvest of Neil Gaiman-penned projects are currently in development, and due to arrive on the big and small screen and elsewhere in the next few years. Let's take a look at what has a release date, what is in development, and what might never come to be...

    Neil Gaiman Movie Adaptations


    Sandman - Development Hell

    It's meant with no disrespect to the terrific Coraline and Stardust when saying that Sandman is likely to be the biggest Neil Gaiman project to date at the movies... that is if it ever makes it there.

    Originally seemingly moving jollily ahead at New Line Cinema after a switch from Vertigo, The Sandman movie adaptation has suffered its fair share of setbacks in the last few years, with writers Jack Thorne and Eric Heisserer both departing the project. The latter, who left in October of 2016, suggested that the adaptation might make a better TV show than a movie, which is a fair assessment of the sprawling, epic story.

    At one point, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was attached to produce, star in, and perhaps direct the film, but he also dropped out last year. Will this adaptation ever make it to some size of screen? We'll keep our ear to the ground.


    Hansel & Gretel — Film Rights Acquired

    Gaiman's take on Hansel & Gretel arrived in graphic novel form in 2014, and the movie rights to it were promptly snapped up. Juliet Blake, who produced The Hundred-Foot Journey, is the person who's picked them up.

    No timescale, screenwriter or director details have been made available since the 2014 acquisition.

    How To Talk To Girls At Parties — May 2017 (Cannes Film Festival)

    Finally, a Gaiman film adaptation that is definitely happening! Based on a Gaiman short story, How To Talk To Girls At Parties is about a female alien on Earth who finds herself in Croydon. Such is her desire to explore the most dangerous places on the planet.

    The film has a great cast, starring Elle FanningAlex SharpNicole KidmanRuth Wilson, and Matt Lucas

    How To Talk To Girls At Parties was directed by the very capable John Cameron Mitchell, who co-wrote the script with Philippa Goslett. On his resume? The brilliant Hedwig And The Angry Inch. A24 acquired the U.S. distribution rights, but there is no official release date as of yet.


    The Ocean At The End Of The Lane — In Development

    The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is a lovely book, and prior to its publication, it was revealed that the film rights had already been acquired, and a director was attached.

    Focus Features is the company that was attached to the film, with the project having been bought by Tom Hanks' production company, Playtone. Joe Wright — who directed Atonement, Hanna, and Anna Karenina amongst others — was said to be attached to direct.

    That was back in February 2013, however, and there doesn't appear to have been much progress on the project since then. It looks like a case of wait and see for now.


    The Graveyard Book — In Development

    This one seems to be stuck in limbo a bit. The original plan with the film adaptation of The Graveyard Book was that Henry Selick — who brilliantly realised Coraline in stop motion animation — would bring it to the screen. Disney had backed the project, but it put the brakes on it back in 2012.

    However, since then, it appeared to come back to life as a live-action venture that was attracting the interest of Ron Howard (Rush, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind). Unfortunately that was back in January 2013. Collider asked Howard about the project last year, and the director seemed to have some hope for it as a possible future film. Do with this information what you will.


    The Books Of Magic — Development Hell

    A project that seems almost permanently stuck in development hell now is an adaptation of Gaiman's comic book miniseries, The Books Of Magic. Plans for a film date back to 1998, when Gaiman himself was attached an executive producer, and Warner Bros had the rights. It would be fair to say that the development process had problems, with both Gaiman and Paul Levitz eventually telling the studio that the screenplay they had developed did not bear much relation to The Books Of Magic anymore.

    Back in 2006, Gaiman told Superherohype that he was looking to developing The Books Of Magic into a film or TV series himself, along with writer Matt Greenberg (who'd worked on early scripts for the project). There's been no progress since, sadly.

    Signal To Noise — Development Hell

    Not much is known about this one. The graphic novel Signal To Noise was one Gaiman did alongside Dave McKean, and the plan was for McKean to turn it into a feature film. As Gaiman says on his own website: "Neil is only helping here and there with it, reading over Dave's script and helping him get financing." He also confirmed that McKean had planned to direct the film. We've not heard more on it for some time, though.

    Neil Gaiman TV Adaptations


    Interworld — In Development

    Originally conceived for screen, Gaiman and Michael Reeves eventually put the Interworld story across in book form, where it was then in turn optioned in 2007 by DreamWorks Animation. 

    Last year, it switched from the film to TV track when Universal Cable Productions announced that it would be developing Interworld into a TV show. The TV adaptation has Hamilton producers Jeffrey Seller and Flody Suarez in its corner, but we've not had any updates on the project since last summer. More news as we hear it.

    Anansi Boys — In Development

    Production company Red was announced in 2014 as developing a mini-series adaptation of Anansi Boys for the BBC. However, now that Starz/Freemantle is producing American Gods, that plan seems somewhat confused?

    We've heard mentions of Red developing Anansi Boys as a TV show from Gaiman over the years, but, recently, Orlando Jones (who plays Anansi in American Gods) told Vanity Fair that Fuller and Green "wanted to spin it off and pursue that character." Either way, things are looking pretty good for Anansi Boys, depending on how American Gods does.


    Good Omens — 2018 (Amazon)

    A six-part TV adaptation of Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's bestselling book is coming to Amazon next year before airing on the BBC in the UK. Gaiman is serving as showrunner for the miniseries, which will bring the story of an angel and a demon coming together to try to prevent the apocalypse to the screen.


    Neverwhere — In Development

    Back in 2015, Deadline gave us all hope when it reported that US movie and TV producer Mark Gordon has joined forces with The Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence on a new TV adaptation of Neverwhere, an urban fantasy that takes place in "London Below."

    Neverwhere began life as a 1996 TV series (featuring Peter Capaldi!) before being turned into a successful novelization and radio drama. Given that Gaiman has announced a Neverwhere sequel called The Seven Sisters, the timing has never been better for a TV adaptation of this beloved fantasy work. 

    Missing, Presumed Dead Adaptations


    Chivalry

    Gaiman's Smoke And Mirrors short story has actually turned up online in film form as a finals film project by a student at Boston University, which you can see here. However, back in 2002, Harvey Weinstein took out an option on the story, with the idea of writing and directing it himself. It was set to be a short film, but it never, ultimately, happened.


    Death: The High Cost Of Living

    Warner Bros had been developing this one, potentially as a project for Neil Gaiman to direct himself. Rumors had linked Shia LaBeouf with the male lead, but as Gaiman told Vulturein 2010: "The new powers that be at DC and Warner basically closed everything down."

    Whilst Gaiman has admitted it may yet come back to life, it doesn't sound like breath-holding is a good idea. Not, er, that it is at the best of times.    


    The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish

    A good decade old this project, when Sunbow Entertainment looked to do an animated television adaptation of The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish. Sunbow was seeking financing for the project, and footage was reportedly produced, but it didn't get much further. A shame — the plan had been to mix 2D, 3D and photographic elements, with 2D hand drawn characters on top. Not to be, though. Sob.


    Murder Mysteries

    This one was adapted by David S. Goyer, who told SciFi Wire back in 2004: "I think it's the best script I've ever written." He planned to direct the film take on Murder Mysteries, but the project stalled — and has remained stalled — when a studio wouldn't back it. No word has been heard on a MurderMysteries film for a good decade.

    Please note: This article does not include released projects, or scripts that Gaiman has written based on other peoples' books.


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    Marvel's The Defenders Netflix series looks like a lot of fun, and reminds us why we like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, & Iron Fist.

    News Mike Cecchini
    May 3, 2017

    Marvel's The Defenderstrailer is finally here! We've been waiting for over two years to see Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist share the screen together, and we're finally getting that team-up — plus some bonus characters.

    The Defenders trailer packs a lot into its two-minute running time, offering a lot for longtime fans of both Marvel Comics and fans who have only come to these characters via their respective Netflix series.

    If you haven't had a chance to watch it yet, you should fix that right now...

    Now, I don't think there's a ton of unexpected Marvel Universe easter eggs to unpack in this, but it does give us a pretty good idea of what to expect. This isn't a frame-by-frame breakdown of the trailer (those are boring), and I'm not going in order (other than the opening). Instead, I'll just try and make some connections where they make sense, and see what reveals itself.

    I love everything about this shot. For one thing, Simone Missick interrogating Jessica Jones is going to make for a wonderful scene when we see this in full. But, for another, there is nothing more Matt Murdock in the Marvel Universe than having him barge into an interrogation to take the case of a legally challenged Marvel superhero.

    Matt has represented Jessica in the comics, and while you wouldn't know it from their interactions in this trailer, they do become good friends. Jessica and Luke Cage have even served as Matt's bodyguards when he has run into some, ummm... public difficulties.

    I also love that this trailer kicks off as if it could almost be the trailer for Jessica Jones Season 2. She's the character we haven't seen in the longest, so it makes sense to give her some extra spotlight here.

    Incidentally, I would watch an entire episode of Jessica Jones making fun of Matt Murdock. At least one.

    It's interesting to note that there aren't a hell of a lot of shots of Matt in full costume with the rest of the team. Probably because he'd look a little silly if he's the only one showing up to the party in costume.

    This does make me realize how much I miss the simple, black ninja costume from Daredevil Season 1, though. I never quite warmed to this one...

    There has been some buzz that Daredevil has kind of gone into hiding or retirement in the months leading up to The Defenders. I wonder if the fact that this costume is in storage has something to do with that. We do glimpse Matt in costume a little later on, but I wonder how much of the red we're going to end up seeing in the course of these eight episodes.

    It's interesting that so many of the intro shots for the characters reflect the way they were shot and lit in their respective solo series. The chilly blues of Jessica Jones and the warmer colors of Luke Cage immediately stand out.

    Speaking of Luke Cage, I'm trying to figure out the timeline here...

    Is this Luke being released from Seagate? I imagine it would have to be.

    I don't think his breaking the cuffs was a prelude to an escape, but rather him showing the guards that "hey, I could have left whenever I wanted, and chose not to." I love that.

    The fact that we see him in bed with Claire Temple would seem to indicate that he isn't rekindling his romance with Jessica anytime soon, either. Those two have a future in the comics, but it's apparently a distant future on TV... if we ever get to it at all.

    Luke's outfit here is obviously not a costume, but the black and yellow combo is a nod to his unfortunate comic book outfit. Not as obvious a nod as what we got in the series flashbacks (which was a brilliant way to do it), but it makes perfect sense here.

    While Luke has thankfully been rocking street clothes for years in the comics, his new solo comic series is really leaning into his TV look as is the upcoming Defenders comic series.

    Jessica Henwick is back as Colleen Wing, which is excellent news, since she was a highlight of Iron Fist. The fact that she's here, along with Simone Missick as Misty Knight, means that we're going to get a proper meeting of the "Daughters of the Dragon" as they were known in the comics (and as Colleen called herself in her fight club days). We later see her kicking the crap out of a roomful of guys I can only assume are Hand operatives.

    Since, Finn Jones' Danny Rand/Iron Fist is certainly in need of some rehabilitation with fans after the missteps of his series, The Defenders has some work to do. Putting him in a group of other weirdos who find him particularly ridiculous should make for some good moments, as the "I'm the immortal Iron Fist" exchange with Luke Cage indicates.

    We also see him wearing an awful lot of green in this trailer — whether it's the jacket, this shirt (which almost looks like it could be a textured superhero costume), or his green suit at dinner. Of the core four Defenders, Danny is the only one who would really qualify for anything remotely like a costume, and I wonder if before The Defenders ends, Matt Murdock will introduce him to Melvin Potter for an upgrade and a mask.

    It's pretty much Marvel law that when two superheroes meet for the first time, they need to fight because of a misunderstanding. It's a trope that dates all the way back to the early 1960s with throwdowns between The Thing/Hulk, Spider-Man/Human Torch, and Hulk/everyone.

    Luke and Danny are, despite all indications to the contrary in this trailer, destined to become best friends and partners as the "Heroes for Hire."If Iron Fist Season 2 doesn't happen on its own, I could totally see Heroes For Hire show that focuses on Luke, Danny, Colleen, and Misty.

    Who is The Defenders Villain?

    No, this is an honest question. I have no idea what's going on in that regard. Obviously there's more than one, so let's start at the top...

    I have absolutely no idea which villain Sigourney Weaver is playing, or if she's supposed to be someone from Marvel Comics lore. But the fact that Sigourney Weaver is playing a Marvel villain at all is a huge deal. I have to imagine that this is somebody who may be at least partially responsible for that cliffhanger ending from Iron Fist, and there is some implication that she's the one wielding that powerful invisible force we see in this trailer.

    Unless the implication here is that the mysterious force that's rattling cars and superheroes around New York City is somehow connected to Stick? 

    Marvel has had better luck with their small screen villains (Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin, David Tennant's Kilgrave) than they have with their big screen ones (Tom Hiddleston's Loki notwithstanding). Sigourney Weaver's involvement bodes well for this, though, and then we have Cate Blanchett as Hela to look forward to in Thor: Ragnarok!

    Not that this should come as a surprise to anyone given the way that Daredevil Season 2 ended, but Elektra is back. Elektra has died and come back so many times in the comics that, ummm, that I can't even think of an amusing crack about it.

    Hallway fights are, of course, obligatory in these shows now, and I think they're going to need a new gimmick when we get into Phase Two of the Marvel Netflix Universe.

    On the other hand, this one has a lot of potential, and I just love this shot of Elektra menacingly appearing in the background. I have a good feeling about this.

    I have absolutely no idea who this menacing sword wielding figure is supposed to be. Could this be the return of undead ninja badass Nobu from Daredevil? Holy moley, I hope so.

    My second best guess is that it's either another villain, or perhaps a member of Stick's mystical martial arts team, The Chaste, who have also been hinted at through both Daredevil seasons.

    So what do you think, Marvel fans? Did you like the trailer? Spot something I didn't? Drop it in the comments or hit me up on Twitter...if it checks out, I'll update this article!


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    The Australian actress describes getting painted gold and more as the Sovereign high priestess in the Guardians sequel.

    Interview Don Kaye
    May 3, 2017

    Early in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the team is hired by an alien race called the Sovereign to help protect their planet from an extradimensional menace -- a plan that goes south when the arrogant, superior Sovereign, who are genetically engineered to be perfect beings and want to make sure you know that, get pissed off at our scruffy heroes. Leading the Sovereign’s pursuit of the Guardians from that point forward is their high priestess, Ayesha, whose ravishing gold skin and perfect physicality mask a creature who’s just as capable of screwing up as any “imperfect” being out there.

    Ayesha -- who has a somewhat different background in the comics -- is played by Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki. Her tall frame and cool demeanor immediately made her stand out to director James Gunn as someone who could play an utterly exotic humanoid alien. After going through formal theater training at university, Debicki got her first big break playing Jordan Baker in 2013’s The Great Gatsby, following that with roles in Macbeth, Everest and as the villain in Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (“I would totally come back” for a sequel, she told us).

    Now viewers will watch her as the luminous yet ruthless Ayesha, a character we dearly hope comes back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and later this year we’ll also see her in the mysterious new Bad Robot sci-fi film that may or may not be called God Particle. We spoke about both -- but mainly about getting into character as Ayesha -- when we sat down at the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 press day in L.A.

    Den of Geek: Congratulations on becoming part of the Marvel Universe. When you got the role, did they show you what she was going to look like? Did you have any sort of inkling of how this is going to go?

    Elizabeth Debicki: James had spoken to me about her, you know. I was in Australia when I got the role. He sort of told me a little bit, but in true Marvel fashion, it was all very under wraps. It wasn't actually until I went to Atlanta quite a while before we started shooting -- I sort of dropped by after finishing filming, had a sort of workshop with them and workshopped things like the costumes -- that I really saw the artwork for her.

    What was your response to realizing you'd be gold?

    It's completely surreal and I was really excited. I mean, what I love about Ayesha is I've never really seen anything like her in the Marvel Universe, and I've never seen a creation like her, you know, on screen before. I think that she's really unique and there's a power to that. The gold is, I mean, it's quite an intense process to go through. It's nothing on Zoe (Saldana) and Dave Bautista, so I really can't (compare), but I was excited.

    Is any of that digital?

    It's all there. It's all painted, yeah, and the contacts, and the hair, and everything. They went old school.

    What's the sensation like of having that done to you?

    It's rather unpleasant first thing in the morning, but Zoe had been there since 3 a.m. or something and I had come in at a very reasonable hour, 6 or 7, so I swore to never ever complain about my process in comparison. She gave everybody good advice, which was you just have to be really patient and calm. You can't get frustrated. You can't want to get up. You have to just sort of be Zen about it, so it was good. I used it as an opportunity to sleep, or listen to the radio, or have a cup of tea.

    Does it help put you into character when you see yourself with everything on?

    Completely. It's a very strange experience as a human, but as an actor as well, when you sort of walk past the mirror and you catch yourself and you don't even recognize the shape of you. There's something about the gold of it. It changes the shape of people's faces. It makes certain features of their face sort of stand out more and, you know, the bald cap in the beginning on the throne with the headpiece and the hair.

    She progresses from the three looks we see her in. It shifts hugely. She sort of morphs in a funny way with the hair and the costuming. It informed so much for me as soon as I had the full hair, and makeup, and the costume. She's very clear about the presence she wants to give and the effect she wants to have on people. It's sort of an epic one. It's huge in its scope. She wants to be in an Elizabethan way, in a queenly Elizabeth I way, she really wants to present as this kind of woman, a formidable sort of force. The costume, and the hair, and makeup really did that for me, you know. I felt like so much of it was done already I just had to sit back into it and let it do its work.

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    But what's funny is that as majestic she is and how alien the Sovereign are, they can be bratty. They have these recognizable human qualities.

    Yes, yeah. I mean, and that was in the writing, but it was also in what we found in the doing of it and how James really wanted them to appear. I mean, it is kind of ironic in a way that they're these genetically perfect, you know, designed to be perfect creatures, and yet they're completely fallible and human. She is. That for me was the intrigue of her. You have this queen, high priestess, this regal entity and this sort of arch-villain in a way, but actually what I was really interested in was finding little moments that made her very human and you understood that she was fallible and imperfect.

    Her history's a bit different in the comics. Did you read up on her? Did Marvel send you a stack of stuff?

    No, they didn't. James and I spoke about that, because I think we wanted to take her in a different direction. I think he didn't want me to be too informed. I mean, obviously I read some and I looked at the artwork of her, but I knew that we were going to take her in a different direction. I wanted my version of her to be James' version of her, if that makes sense.

    What was the experience like on the set? Were they physically built out or did you do a lot in front of green screens?

    Actually, the throne room was quite complete and we had a lot of the extras there. The throne itself, really, how you see it on screen is how they built it. It was remarkable, then that great big sort of cavernous hall set and all the extras and other people, that was all there. That was pretty amazing, actually, to not have too much green screen. I had my fighter pod and there are scenes where it's all CGI. I think there were three or something. The first time I saw the movie was the first time I saw the Sovereign, and the planet, and the sort of scale of it. That was interesting. I thought, Oh, that's where we live. It's huge, you know.

    What was the atmosphere on the shoot like? What kind of set does James run?

    It's a fun set. There's an ease to it, because of who James is and how he likes to run the day, you know. There's a huge amount of enjoyment. He really wants you to have fun when you're making the movie. I probably came on very nervous and rigid in a way. He sort of released that very quickly, because he just loves to roll with whatever you're throwing out there. If it's not what he wants, he's just going to gently take it in a different direction, but he really likes to know what your impulse is on the line or the scene. If you want to take it in a different direction, he'll just run with that. That's what I really like about him.

    Any hints of whether she'll be back? Has he said anything to you?

    My lips are sealed.

    You have a couple projects coming up, and one I'm curious about is God Particle, which is the next Cloverfield movie.

    I can tell you that it is part of Cloverfield, that it's the third Cloverfield movie. That's about it. I can tell you that I think it's going to be really, really interesting and an excellent film. I've never read anything like it before, so I'm very excited to see how it comes out. But I can't tell you any details.

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is out in theaters Friday (May 5).



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    We give you a Marvel Universe history lesson for Mantis, one of the breakout new characters in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

    Feature Marc Buxton
    May 3, 2017

    So let's talk about Mantis in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Played by Pom Klementieff, Mantis has been used for laughs in a couple of trailers and really stands out thank to her antenna and big guileless bug eyes. You remember Mantis, she is the woman in the first Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 trailer who uses her empathic abilities to discern and announce that Peter Quill has sexual feelings for Gamora. Yeah, it’s a funny scene and James Gunn and company will clearly utilize Mantis’s unique empathic powers for dramatic and comedic effect.

    Mantis was a member of the comic book version of the Guardians for a short time, but her real impact on the Marvel Universe was as a member of the Avengers. In fact, Mantis was involved in one of the longest and most cosmically trippy and epic stories of the 1970s, and in a way, she also sort of appeared in the – get ready for it - DC Universe (and more)! Intrigued? You darn well should be! 

    This is going to be a long, strange trip...

    So before you understand who Mantis is, you have to understand what the Celestial Madonna is. Think of the Celestial Madonna as a cosmic Virgin Mary figure who is destined to give birth to the Celestial Messiah. So it’s kind of like the Jesus story but with more aliens, lasers, and spaceships. Mantis first appeared in The Avengers #112 (1973) and was created by Steve Englehart and Don Heck. The future cosmic hero was the daughter of Gustav Brandt, aka the villainous Libra. Brandt’s criminal brother-in-law (who, I'm not kidding, was named Monsieur Kruul) disapproved of his sister marrying and having a child with the German Brandt and pursued the family to Vietnam. Kruul burns Brandt’s house, blinding the man and killing his wife. Brandt manages to hide his daughter among the Priests of Pama, a sect of Kree monks that protect a race of sentient psychic plant people known as the Cotati and...yeah, it's weird.

    So let’s unpack this. The future Mantis is taken to a monestary where she is trained by alien monks in martial arts to protect and possibly mate with a race of psychic celery people. Yes, it was indeed the '70s.

    The future Mantis was being prepared to become the Celestial Madonna. The Priests of Pama were testing her worthiness to see if she was pure enough to mate with a Cotati and become a mother of the Celestial Messiah. Yes kids, the tale of Mantis is indeed the tale of cosmic veggie Jesus. And it just gets stranger and cooler from here.

    Mantis was taught to communicate with the Cotati so she developed empathic abilities. Now, she was a semi-psychic martial artist destined to mate with a sentient vegetable to bring about the birth of the cosmic savior. When Mantis turns eighteen, the Priests of Pama wipe her memory and brings her out to the modern world to see if her purity of spirit holds up. Now, the comic never really came right out and said it, but basically, the tabula rasa young Mantis instantly became a prostitute in a Vietnam brothel (the comics called her a “bar girl,” but listen, we know what was going on). It's while working as a "bar girl" where Mantis meets and falls in love with the sometime hero/sometime villain the Swordsman. She senses a nobility in the alcoholic depressive Swordsman and encourages him to reunite with and join the Avengers. Mantis and Swordsman confront the Avengers and Mantis take down both Captain America and Thor (really) with her martial arts abilities. Swordsman and Mantis join the team and help fight Loki and Dormammu during the Avengers/Defenders War, an event which is widely considered to be the first major crossover in comics.

    Mantis had this really annoying habit of referring to herself is “This one” instead of “I.” One guesses that this aversion to personal pronouns was supposed to make Mantis sound foreign and demur, but from a modern perspective, it was irksome and maybe a little racist. As she spends more time with the Avengers, Mantis tires of Swordsman and began trying to seduce the Vision. This didn't do anything for her popularity with her fellow Avengers (or with fans), but Mantis’ synthetic obsession continued. Around this time, Mantis learns her history from her birth father.

    Of course, Mantis’ growing affection for Vision really threw Swordsman for a loop. I mean, what would you think if your girlfriend began crushing on your laptop?

    To prove his love for Mantis, Swordsman sacrifices himself in battle with Kang, the time traveling arch foe of the Avengers. You see, Kang wants to locate the Celestial Madonna so he could sire the Celestial Messiah. Swordsman is buried in the gardens of the Priests of Pama and, get ready for this, is reanimated by the Cotati. The celery-possessed Swordsman helped the Avengers defeat Kang, Mantis is revealed as the true Celestial Madonna and she and Swordsman get married...in a double wedding with Vision and Scarlet Witch! I guess Wanda forgave the whole creeping on her man thing now that Mantis had an animated corpse vegetable husband.

    The '70s were weird.

    Mantis and Swordsman decided to take on astral forms and travel to the stars where they could sire the Celestial Messiah. Now this begs the question, if the cinematic Mantis follows comic book Mantis, will she eventually try to bed down with Groot? After all, Mantis has a thing for plants. Disney, you’re entering a strange place here. Of course, the cinematic version is clearly an alien and not a Celestial Madonna with terrible grammar and a salad fetish.

    After the marriage, this is where things get really meta and weird (as if they haven’t already). After Mantis left Earth with her veggie corpse hubby, Steve Englehart left Marvel...and in a way, he took Mantis with him. In Justice League of America #142 (1977) by Englehart and Dick Dillin, the Justice League meets up with a woman named Willow. Willow is clearly supposed to be Mantis with the justification that when Mantis left Earth she began exploring other realities. Now, Englehart never came out and intrinsically states that Willow is Mantis because lawyers, but you guys, Willow is Mantis.  

    In addition, in 1983, Englehart penned a mini-series for Eclipse Comics: Scorpio Rose. In the second issue of this title, Englehart introduces a cosmic beauty named Lorelei, a woman who informs readers that she has recently given birth. Yup, Lorelei was Mantis. The third issue of Scorpio Rose was never published by Eclipse, but it was reprinted in 2005 in the pages of Coyote Collection #1 by Image Comics. So Mantis became a Celestial Madonna that not only traveled through galaxies after marrying her celery possessed lover, she also was able to transverse four separate publishers.

    Whew.

    “But why,” I hear you asking. “Is Mantis making her film debut in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 when she was an Avengers character?” Well, after the whole traversing the universe as the Celestial Madonna thing, the Mantis story was continued in fits and starts, with many storylines often contradicting the one previous. She had a brief romantic entanglement with the Silver Surfer and was even split into multiple beings, but it’s all rather convoluted and that’s what back issue bins are for.

    We will tell you than during Annihilation: Conquest (2007-2008), Mantis helps Rocket Raccoon, Peter Quill, Groot, Drax, and Gamora bust out of a Kree prison. The escapees band together as the Guardians of the Galaxy, so heck yeah, Mantis is part of Guardians history! She was part of the initial lineup of the present day team, the very same one that inspired the film! In fact, to insure that the rag tag group of misfits that made up the Guardians stayed together after the escape, Quill had Mantis use her mind powers to compel the Guardians to band together in the first place. So if there was no Mantis, there would be no Guardians of the Galaxy!

    Kind of makes up for all that “this one” stuff, huh?


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  • 05/03/17--19:46: The Many Deaths of the Joker
  • There have been many stories to kill off the Clown Prince of Crime, but that pesky villain isn't so easy to get rid of for good.

    Feature Gavin Jasper
    May 3, 2017

    In fictional worlds of heroes and villains who can shrug off bullets like they were nothing, there exists “plot armor” for the lesser folk. Plot armor is the reason why Frank Castle can mosey through a room with an uzi in each hand and somehow kill every single enemy while somehow never getting shot in any vital area. It’s why Stormtroopers have the worst aim and why the red-shirted Enterprise dudes have all the bad luck.

    I’m having a hard time coming up with someone with stronger plot armor in comic books than the Joker. Hell, even Frank Castle died at least twice in continuity. The Joker should be dead a million times over, not just due to his injuries, but because with all the lives he’s taken, surely somebody would have murdered him by now. But again, not only does he take vicious beatings, if he isn’t apprehended at the end of a story, he usually falls off a cliff or is at the heart of an explosion or gets hit by a truck.

    Then he’s back the next time, no worse for the wear.

    The Joker’s been revealed as a playable character for Injustice 2. This is a bit of an eyebrow-raiser because the entire story revolves around Joker being dead. Like, really dead. The previous game had another Joker visit from another reality, but he seems to be off the table this time around. So what is he? Another alternate universe Joker? A hallucination brought on by fear gas? A copycat? A clone? Did he simply come back from the dead?

    But that’s what the Joker’s all about. While the comics won’t ever truly get rid of him, there are many continuities that have done away with Mr. J. Yet even then, the Joker is never really gone. He tends to haunt and taunt Batman in one way or another via his violent legacy. For someone with such an ill-defined identity, he sure is a fixture in the universe.

    HONORABLE MENTION: TIM BURTON JOKER

    Jack Nicholson’s Joker completely ate it at the end of Tim Burton’s Batman. He fell from a great height while dragged down by a gargoyle. We saw the body. Dude was absolutely dead.

    And he stayed that way! After that first movie, the most mention Joker got in that universe was a brief allusion in Batman Forever when Batman told Robin that revenge leads to emptiness.

    We almost got a bit more of him, though! Before Batman and Robin ruined the concept of fun and killed that franchise, Joel Schumacher was originally going to do a fifth movie in that universe. Batman Triumphant, which you can read more about here, would have revolved around Scarecrow and Harley Quinn as the new villains. Scarecrow means fear gas and that would have meant Batman getting a hallucination sequence.

    What would Batman fear the most? Probably the skin-dyed dirtbag that killed his parents. And so, had the movie existed, we would have had a scene of Jack Nicholson Joker confronting Batman during a psychological breakdown.

    The movie would have been a dumpster fire, but...man, part of me is bummed we never got it.

    Similarly, an unused Superman vs. Batman script from the early '00s would have included a plot point where Lex Luthor cloned the Joker to bring him back as part of a scheme to traumatize Bruce Wayne out of retirement and trick him into fighting Superman. Probably the most sense-making reason to connect Lex and Joker.

    NINTENDO JOKER

    Sunsoft made Batman: The Video Gamefor NES and the story was the general plot of the movie, only with lots and lots of ninjas and robots added because Batman needs something to fight. The ending is roughly the same, though Batman’s a bit more cold-blooded. He beats the Joker down, tells him, “You killed my parents,” and then tosses him to his doom. We see Joker’s lifeless corpse and roll credits.

    Then a year later, they released Batman: Return of the Joker. The Joker’s back with some scheme involving stealing explosive metals and...he’s back. He’s alive again. Somehow. Neither the game nor the manual have any explanation. Just go with it.

    Upon further review, both the Genesis and arcade adaptations of the movie make it vague whether or not falling from the top of a cathedral is enough to take out the Joker, so maybe Jack Nicholson's Joker is more resilient than anyone ever realized.

    FRANK MILLER JOKER

    Dark Knight Returns features one of the most chilling incarnations of the Joker, who comes out of a catatonic state the moment he finds out Batman’s back on the streets. Joker’s killing spree goes farther than the 1980s comic-reading public was used to and Batman ALMOST has it in him to kill the Joker for good. Since killing Joker is neither a horseshoe nor a hand grenade, Joker finishes the job by snapping his own neck and making it look like Batman’s finally gone over the line, thereby making him a prime target of the authorities.

    Enduring one massive beating and a fake death (which people regard as “totally beat Superman in a fight” for some reason) later, Batman is fine.

    Many years later, Frank Miller made his sequel Dark Knight Strikes Again, otherwise known as, “that mess.” In a story that focuses on Lex Luthor and Brainiac while including lots of DC heroes and Hal Jordan’s dinosaur space penis, the Joker appears a couple times as a looming threat. He kills the Creeper, Guardian, and even Martian Manhunter while bringing up the mystery of who he could possibly be.

    Joker II shows up at the end of the comic as the final boss showdown. He is, in fact, Dick Grayson, whose only mention in the original story was not being on speaking terms with Bruce. As the story goes, Batman fired him for being an incompetent whiner once upon a time and rather than celebrate being free of the lunatic that is Miller Batman, Dick instead went a bit mad and allowed Luthor and Brainiac to give him shape-shifting/quick-healing powers.

    Even though he’s capable of surviving decapitations and the like, Joker II is eventually done in by being knocked into some lava. Can’t heal if there’s nothing left of you.

    NAIL JOKER

    Back in the late-90s, Alan Davis and Mark Farmer put together a three-issue Elseworlds story called The Nail. This “what if” tale shows how the DC Universe would have formed had Superman’s rocket not been discovered by the Kents. Without Superman as a symbol, metahumans aren’t exactly looked upon with love and astonishment. It’s more of an X-Men deal where the public’s mood is, “Thanks for saving the world...I guess.”

    As part of the comic’s big villain conspiracy (and I won’t spoil who’s behind everything), the Joker is armed with a pair of gauntlets made from Kryptonian tech. They make him virtually unstoppable and he proceeds to liberate Arkham and then make the Bat-villains fight each other to the death for his amusement. Batman, Robin, and Batgirl appear and Alan Davis leans into things to finally answer the question, “What would it take for Batman to murder the Joker?”

    The answer: have the Joker use his telekinetic gauntlets to slowly and painfully tear Robin and Batgirl to pieces while forcing Batman to watch. Jesus. Yeah. That’ll do it.

    With some assistance from Catwoman, Batman’s able to free himself, damage the gauntlets and snap Joker’s neck. While the public display and selective context makes the Justice League look bad, nobody takes the incident harder than Batman himself. Both the graphic deaths of his sidekicks and the realization that he murdered a man sends him to the brink of sanity. It’s the comfort of Catwoman, who becomes Batwoman, that keeps him from falling apart.

    Regardless, once the story is over, Batman gives himself up to the police. He’s acquitted of murder charges, but chooses to leave the Justice League.

    Several years later, we get Another Nail, which basically exists to give upbeat closure to a story that had a bunch of downers. Batman continues to fight crime in Gotham, but he starts hearing the Joker’s laughter. Due to the convoluted plot of the miniseries, things are screwy with the afterlife and the Joker is able to escape Hell.

    Threatening to kill Batwoman, Joker – who has Carnage-like powers – fights Batman. Batman attempts to sacrifice himself by tackling Joker back to Hell, but the spririts of Robin and Batgirl rescue him. Batman finally decides to get on with his life and rejoin the Justice League.

    KINGDOM COME JOKER

    The Joker’s death in Kingdom Come is a major turning point for society. After Joker murders Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and a lot of other people at the Daily Planet, he’s apprehended by the police. We’ll never know how Superman would have instinctively dealt with his loss as new superhero hotness and Cable pastiche Magog stops by to vaporize the handcuffed Joker.

    Magog is put on trial, everyone and their mother is pretty okay with the Joker being murdered in any way, and Superman leaves in a huff. This causes a new dawn of “superheroism” where it’s less about heroism and more about people in cool costumes getting into fights with no care for anything but themselves. You know, kind of like a Zack Snyder movie.

    While the Joker doesn’t come back from the dead, he does inspire one troublemaker to become the new Joker’s Daughter (otherwise known as Harlequin). Although we never get much on her, as she’s mostly a recurring background character, she represents the chaotic world where the mighty can do what they want while the weak are left deal with the consequences.

    It does remind me that one of the most clever moments in the whole comic is when Batman betrays Lex Luthor and admits to only joining up with him in the first place in order to see what Captain Marvel’s deal was. As he puts it, Captain Marvel is a wild card and if there’s anything Batman hates, it’s a wild card.

    Love that.

    BATMAN BEYOND JOKER

    Batman: The Animated Series is arguably better than sliced bread and its dark future Batman Beyondwasn’t bad either. Despite taking place years in the future, the writers were stingy on the details of what became of a lot of the old guard. While we got to see what became of Mr. Freeze and Bane, bigger deal characters like Robin and Joker were glazed over.

    At most, during the show’s run, we saw that the Joker was replaced with an ever-changing circus-themed gang called the Jokerz. That was cool and all and fits into the nature of this list, but Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker went beyond just that.

    In the dying days of the Animated Series era, the Joker kidnapped and tortured Tim Drake Robin. He warped the poor boy, made him squeal about Batman’s secret identity, and then transformed him into a giggling child version of the Joker. Depending on which version you watch, Tim would get his revenge by either shooting Joker in the chest or electrocuting him to death.

    In the Beyondera, the Joker appears yet again, making the futuristic Batman Terry McGuiness question the many ways that’s possible. In the end, the Joker turns out to be Tim Drake, unknowingly taken over by a secret implant that transforms him into having the Joker’s DNA and personality. Terry is able to put an end to this Joker by frying the implant with an electric joy buzzer.

    DIGITAL JUSTICE JOKER

    Speaking of the future, there’s this Elseworlds taking place towards the end of the 21st century. While the Joker presumably died of old age, considering Batman retired, he lives on in the form of a sentient computer virus and...

    For God's sake, look at that thing. Actually, better idea, let’s not. Just...next entry.

    RED RAIN JOKER

    Throughout the '90s, Doug Moench and Kelley Jones did a trilogy of Elseworlds stories based on the very simple high concept of Batman being a literal "bat man." In the story Red Rain, Batman gets bitten by a vampire and fights Dracula. It’s pretty rad. Batman wins and Dracula’s dead for good.

    A couple of years later, they do a sequel called Bloodstorm, which is based on the very human Joker leading Dracula’s horde for the sake of taking over the criminal underworld. Vampire Batman teams up with Selina Kyle, who also goes literal by being a werecat. Selena’s love is the only thing keeping Batman from going all-you-can-eat-buffet, so once Joker kills her with a crossbow, Batman has nothing left to keep him in check. Although part of him tries to fight it, he still powers through multiple crosses and holy water to snap Joker’s neck and feed on his blood.

    Being that Batman is the smartest dude, he knows to shove a stake through Joker’s heart just in case because Vampire Joker is the last thing we need.

    It’s moot, since not only has Batman killed his rival, but he’s given into his vampire instincts. He has his buds Alfred and Commissioner Gordon stake him to prevent any further benders.

    Those two, unfortunately, never got around to removing his head, so despite being rendered immobile, Batman is still kicking. A few months later, Alfred removes the stake because Alfred is dumb as hell in this world. Not only does Batman have a taste for blood while being driven insane from months of his body rotting, but it’s implied a few times that ingesting Joker’s specific blood makes him even more out-of-control.

    Yeah, things do NOT end well for any named character in that final chapter.

    BATMAN 666 JOKER

    During Grant Morrison’s lengthy run on Batman’s comics, he wrote a one-off story it Batman #666 that depicts Damian Wayne as a more ruthless Batman in the future who may or may not have sold his soul to the actual devil. There are two alternate follow-ups to this story. One of which has Damian adopt and raise Terry McGinnis, leading to a take on the Batman Beyond era.

    Then there’s a path where everything goes wrong. The Joker has died and while we don’t know the details, we do know that the madman had his own failsafe. In his death, he releases a virus that transforms its victims into Joker-like monsters, like a clown version of 28 Days Later.

    Damian Batman finds a baby who appears to be immune to the virus, but his attempts to use the child to create a cure leads to disaster when he discovers that the baby is merely a carrier. Overwhelmed by infected clown people, Damian watches in horror as Gotham is nuked to contain the outbreak.

    I think I like the first future better.

    ARKHAM JOKER

    In the Rocksteady Arkhamtrilogy, Joker suffers from injecting himself with Titan, otherwise known as Super Bane Juice II: Turbo. In the aftermath, he’s dying, so he figures he’ll inject his own poisoned blood into Batman’s veins to push Batman into finding a cure. I’m guessing Joker saw that episode of South Park where Cartman had AIDS and had a moment of inspiration.

    Though Batman cures himself, Joker shivs him. Either because he thinks Batman’s going to leave him to die or because shivving seemed like a good idea at the moment. That makes Batman drop the antidote and Joker succumbs to illness and dies, laughing at Batman’s claim that he was totally about to give him the antidote after all.

    Then in Arkham Knight, we discover that having Joker blood in your system plus breathing in Scarecrow’s fear toxin transforms you into superhero Fight Club. Joker appears in visions while Batman (and some other soon-to-be-dead saps who also have Joker blood) gradually becomes Joker-like in behavior and appearance.

    Batman ultimately wins out by turning the two infections against each other and confronting Joker with his own fear: being dead and forgotten. Batman goes back to normal and gets back to his mission of handing Scarecrow a knuckle sandwich.

    GOTHAM JOKER

    The Batman prequel series features Jerome Valeska, as played by Cameron Monaghan. Jerome is what I’d call the How I Met Your Mother of Jokers. He’s the Joker, but not really. Maybe. He could be. He might not be. He’s possibly a red herring. Or he can lead to the actual Joker. We’ll just have to wait and see to get an answer.

    For all intents and purposes, he’s the Joker. Pretty much.

    The charismatic psychopath and showman is killed off early in the second season during an attempt on the life of the adolescent Bruce Wayne. He gets stabbed in the neck by Theo Galavan in an act of betrayal, but dies with blood covering his lips as he smiles. Various people watch footage of Jerome on TV and go into giggling fits, including two guys who laughingly murder a homeless person, then turn on each other.

    With that not being enough for viewers, they then go and bring Jerome back to life via televised comic book science. So maybe he’s the Joker after all! Or not. Again, How I Met Your Mother.

    Coincidentally, Jerome’s father, a fortune teller, claimed that Jerome would leave behind a legacy of death and madness. Sounds about right.

    INJUSTICE JOKER

    The Injusticestoryline is the aftermath of the Joker growing bored of messing with Batman and moving on to Superman. Using some kryptonite-laced fear gas, Joker gets Superman to hallucinate that a pregnant Lois Lane is Doomsday. Lois’ heart is linked to a detonator that nukes Metropolis upon her thrown-into-space death.

    This especially puts Superman in a bad mood to the point that he appears before the captured Joker and impales him with his fist. Over the next five years, Superman doubles down on his decision and ultimately transforms into a frustrated dictator.

    Over the years, as Superman’s hold on the world becomes more frightening, Jason Bard starts up a protest group invoking the Joker’s image. Superman doesn’t take this well and fries a whole lot of them in a fit of anger. Even then, the Joker Clan grows to become an anarchist underground counter to Superman’s regime. Even though Harley Quinn’s grown to despise the Joker and what he stood for, she chooses to become the leader.

    Then a handful of superheroes from the regular DC Universe are brought in via portal. Inadvertently, Joker is one of them. He quickly takes over the Joker Clan and wins over the heart of Harley, undoing years of personal progress on her part. Eventually, that world’s Lex Luthor helps Harley break the spell and she not only beats the shit out of that Joker until he begs his world’s Batman to take him home, but her more loyal Joker Clan members rebranded themselves as the Harley Horde.

    Even with that all cleaned up, we’re now about to get another appearance by the Joker. A Joker. What’s his deal?

    Who's to say? There are just so many options.

    Gavin Jasper appreciates that Flashpoint Batman killed the Joker a couple hours before the world exploded. That’ll get you the last laugh. Follow Gavin on Twitter!


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    Marvel's Runaways will become a TV series on Hulu and we've got the first look at the cast.

    News Kayti Burt
    May 3, 2017

    Hulu has gone ahead with a full season order for a TV adaptation of Marvel's Runaways comic from the creators of Gossip Girl, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, as well as Marvel Television and ABC Signature. Tamara Becher, who has also written for Marvel's Iron Fist, is among the writing team. 

    Initially, this was an order for a full season's worth of scripts and a pilot, but to absolutely nobody's surprise, Hulu has ordered Runaways to series.

    Marvel's Runaways Release Date

    Marvel's Runaways does not have a release date as of yet, but we expect it will be ready in early 2018. 

    It's got quite a cast, too. Check out the first image, which looks like it comes right out of a cover from the comics:

    Marvel's Runaways Cast

    All casting details come courtesy of Marvel.com.

    Let's start with the kids...

    Rhenzy Feliz (Teen Wolf) as Alex Wilder is a loud-and-proud nerd. Admittedly a bit of a loner, Alex spends much of his free-time playing video games, but deep down, what he wants most is to reunite his childhood group of friends.

    Lyrica Okano (The Affair) as Nico Minoru – tough, intelligent, and independent–embodies teenage angst. A budding “Wiccan,” Nico’s carefully crafted goth appearance isolates her from her peers and family, but maybe what she really needs is someone to talk to.

    Virginia Gardner (Goat) as Karolina Dean, model-perfect exterior with a lot going on behind her professionally whitened smile, is burdened by the lofty expectations and responsibilities put upon her by her parents. Underneath her veneer of privilege and perfection, Karolina is experiencing a newfound eagerness to explore her identity and pursue her own desires.

    Ariela Barer (New Girl) as Gert Yorkes is a purple-haired, bespectacled, contemporary riot grrrl. Never passing up a moment to stand on a soapbox, Gert sometimes wields her persona as a brash social justice warrior to mask her true feelings.

    Gregg Sulkin (Faking It) as Chase Stein is a lacrosse-playing, high school heartthrob. While many write him off as a dumb jock, Chase exhibits flashes of untapped brilliance in engineering, not unlike his wildly successful father’s.

    Allegra Acosta (100 Things to Do Before High School) as Molly Hernandez, the youngest and most innocent member of her friend group, is known for her peppy positivity and a deep yearning to belong.

    Ryan Sands (Hat Hair, The Wire) as Geoffrey Wilder – is a man defined by the grueling path he’s taken to achieve his self-made success. A hulking presence, Geoffrey can effortlessly shift from approachable father to intimidating strategist with his son Alex.

    Angel Parker (The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story, The Strain) as Catherine Wilder – a successful lawyer, is deliberate and calculating in both her words and actions. But when it comes to her family, she’s fiercely loyal and a loving mother to her son Alex.

    Brittany Ishibashi (This Is Us, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows) as Tina Minoru – a perfectionist “tiger mom.” In her professional life, she is a brilliant innovator and ruthless CEO. Emotionally, she is less confident, often shying away from difficult conversations with her daughter Nico and careful to avoid explicit displays of her feelings.

    James Yaegashi (Breakfast at Tiffany’s on Broadway, Madame Secretary) as Robert Minoru – a gentle and brilliant beta, the Woz to his wife’s Jobs. Warm and feeling, Robert sometimes struggles with being married to a woman who so forcefully barricades her emotions while caring about Nico.

    Kevin Weisman (Hello Ladies, Alias) as Dale Yorkes – a beardy, dad-core bioengineer. Incredibly science-minded, he has a deep love for his family but oftentimes falls short at knowing the right things to say to Gert.

    Brigid Brannagh (Army Wives, True Colors) as Stacey Yorkes – an absent-minded and professorial bioengineer. Perpetually dawning Birkenstocks and a messy bun, Stacey utilizes a progressive approach to her parenting style to Gert.

    Annie Wersching (Timeless, The Vampire Diaries) as Leslie Dean – a complicated beauty, is a poised and skilled leader. Clear-minded, focused, and charismatic, Leslie draws in devoted allies and followers who are taken by her success and charm, particularly with her daughter Karolina.

    Kip Pardue (Remember the Titans, Ray Donovan) as Frank Dean – a former teen star who rode a short-lived movie career and is now teeming with insecurity. Floundering in his professional career as an actor, Frank is seeking to renew purpose in his life while being a father to Karolina.

    James Marsters (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel) as Victor Stein – an engineering genius who may just save the word from itself. Electric cars, space travel; the military and NASA both look to him for answers. As a father to Chase, Victor has lofty expectations for his son, and when they aren’t met, his retribution can be fierce.

    Ever Carradine (The Handmaids Tale, Goliath) as Janet Stein – a perfect PTA mom. Harboring a brilliant mind of her own, she has made deep sacrifices for her husband’s world-changing career. Though she hides it for the wellbeing of her son Chase, Janet longs for more from her life.

    Marvel's Runaways Story

    Runaways — adapted from the comic by Brian K. Vaughn and Adrian Alphona (at one point in its run, Joss Whedon also wrote for the series) — tells the story of a group of diverse teenagers who discover their parents are part of an evil crime organiztion called "The Pride."

    Though the six teens despise one another, they band together to investigate their parents' nefarious plots. Scwartz and Savage wrote the script for the pilot and will serve as showrunners moving forward.

    Speaking about the project to Deadline, Schwartz said: "I’m a long-time fan of Runaways and couldn’t be more excited to bring Brian and Adrian’s characters to life." Schwartz' interest in the comic book world isn't so surprising considering he created comics nerdboy Seth Cohen on The O.C. — a character we've argued before made a huge contribution to the cultural shift that made comics cool. 

    Head of Marvel Television Jeph Loeb will also serve as an executive producer on the Runaways project, saying: "We’ve known the Runaways' story would make great television and being lucky enough to have Josh and Stephanie — who have time and again created shows that speak so genuinely to this exact audience — write and produce the series is nothing short of remarkable."

    Guys, this is gonna be great...


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    Everything we know so far about Outlander Season 4...

    News Kayti Burt
    May 4, 2017

    Let's talk Outlander Season 4!

    Yeah, we know. Outlander Season 3 hasn't even aired yet, but that doesn't mean we can't start talking about Outlander Season 4, right? Starz has already picked up Outlander with showrunner Ronald D. Moore for Season 4, which will adapt Diana Gabaldon's Drums of Autumn novel. 

    Outlander Season 4 Cast

    We already have some casting information about Outlander Season 4! According to Entertainment Weekly, Starz has cast its Rollo, the wolf hybrid who joins the Fraser clan after being found by young Ian Murray and becomes a beloved member of the family. Yes, they are just as adorable as you would expect...

    Move over, direwolves. You have some competition.

    Though production on Outlander Season 3 is not yet finished, the producers wanted to begin training these Northern Inuit puppies as soon as possible for their Season 4 role. According to Starz: Rollo has a "penchant for getting into trouble, often sticking his large, wet nose into places it doesn’t belong ... The dog will play a key part in the adventure that lies ahead."

    What does Gabaldon think about the all-important casting? She said:

    They look cute, but tough. They should be just right to play Rollo when the time comes. They’d need to growl and look menacing on command, I think, and carry back prey of one kind or another to their master. I assume they wouldn’t let them catch things on camera … especially fish, of course.

    Outlander Season 4 Release Date

    Outlander Season 3 will be hitting Starz in September of 2017, so we wouldn't expect Outlander Season 4 to come around until at least September 2018. We'll keep you updated with any new information as we hear it.

    Outlander Season 4 Plot

    Outlander Season 4 will adapt Gabaldon's Drums of Autumn novel. Though we don't have an official synopsis for the upcoming season, we do have a synopsis for the book (via Gabaldon's official site). If you aren't into spoilers, avert your eyes...

    DRUMS OF AUTUMN is the fourth book in the OUTLANDER series, following VOYAGER.  Here Claire and Jamie, with Jamie’s nephew Young Ian, seek to find a place for themselves in the colony of North Carolina, treading a dangerous line between Governor Tryon’s patronage and Claire’s knowledge of the brewing revolution in America, between the help of Jamie’s Aunt Jocasta, last of his MacKenzie kin (“MacKenzies are charming as larks in the field–but sly as foxes with it.”) and the unwanted obligations of her slave-run plantation.  As they find mountain land and begin to build their first cabin, their newfound life is bittersweet, with the thought Brianna–the daughter Claire has left behind, the daughter Jamie will never see–always near.

    For information about Outlander Season 3, check out our news hub.


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    We have an official opening date for The Cursed Child on Broadway.

    NewsKayti Burt
    May 4, 2017

    From the moment Harry Potter and the Cursed Child first opened in London's Palace Theatre last summer, American fans have been asked when the sequel to the Harry Potter book series will come to New York. We finally have an answer. According to PottermoreThe Cursed Child producers are "in talks" to have the play open on Broadway in spring of 2018. 

    The Cursed Child Broadway Release Date

    And, now, we have an official release date! According to Entertainment Weekly, The Cursed Child will open on Broadway on April 22, 2018 in the Lyric Theatre.

    The Cursed Child Broadway Theater

    The Cursed Child will open at the Lyric Theatre. Producer Colin Callender said of the discussion:

    We are still subject to planning, but assuming we get the go ahead, we will have the theatre of our dreams that will be intimate enough for a drama, yet big enough for us to follow in the footsteps of the London production and continue to provide low priced tickets throughout the auditorium.

    This explains why Cirque du Soleil's Paramour just unexpected announced plans to leave the Lyric Theatre, which will be closed for "renovations" in April. It sounds like the renovations will be a complete Potter-driven retrofit that will include making the theater slightly more intimate (going from 1,900 to 1,500 seats to accomodate the tone of the show) and remodeled the front of the house as well so that the immersive experience begins as soon as fans enter the building. Hopefully, we'll also get something as cool as the giant nest atop the Palace Theatre...

    Producer Sonia Friedman told Pottermore that the creative team headed over to New York in September to look at potential venues for The Cursed Child, and settled on The Lyric Theatre. Between now and the spring of 2018, the theater will undergo a massive, multi-million-dollar transformation.

    Set designer Christine Jones said of the planned transformation: "The hope is that this theater will have its own soul and its own identity, very much a New York theater from the period and not just a recreation of what was made in London ... It's an incredibly unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

    The Cursed Child Broadway Cast

    No word on if this will include any of the original London-based cast, but we will update this story with news as we hear it...


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