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- 09/19/17--10:42: _The Early History o...
- 09/19/17--10:56: _Street Fighter Cros...
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- 09/20/17--10:43: _X-Force: A Brief Hi...
- 09/20/17--14:43: _Turner Classic Movi...
- 09/20/17--15:18: _Dark Horse Announce...
- 09/20/17--15:39: _Sabrina the Teenage...
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- 09/21/17--15:38: _Professor Marston &...
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- 09/22/17--11:15: _Doomsday Clock: Geo...
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- 09/23/17--01:23: _Autonomous Review: ...
- 09/23/17--09:33: _25 Harley Quinns fo...
- 09/23/17--09:58: _A Batman Comics Rea...
- 09/19/17--10:42: The Early History of the Batman TV Series
- 09/19/17--10:56: Street Fighter Crossovers: The 25 Best Moments
- 09/19/17--13:11: Artemis Fowl Movie: Cast, Release Date, Director
- 09/19/17--18:05: Star Wars: Marvel Comic to Shed Light on New The Last Jedi Planet
- 09/19/17--18:38: Watchmen HBO Series Begins Production
- 09/19/17--19:49: Barbarella Returns to Comics After 35 Years
- 09/20/17--10:02: 20 Characters Missing from the Marvel vs. Capcom Series
- 09/20/17--10:43: X-Force: A Brief History of The Weirdest X-Men Team
- 09/20/17--14:43: Turner Classic Movies & DC Team for Batman in Noir Alley
- 09/20/17--15:18: Dark Horse Announces Art of Metal Gear Solid Collection
- 09/20/17--16:05: The Walking Dead Season 8 Will Conclude the Rick and Negan Rivalry
- 09/21/17--15:38: Professor Marston & the Wonder Women: Trailer, Release Date, Posters
- 09/21/17--21:24: Gotham: Who is the Scarecrow?
- 09/22/17--11:15: Doomsday Clock: Geoff Johns Unveils Series in New Trailer
- 09/22/17--14:42: Peter Rabbit Trailer: James Corden’s Peter is a Party Animal
- 09/23/17--01:23: Autonomous Review: Robots, Love, and Identity
- 09/23/17--09:33: 25 Harley Quinns for 25 Years
- 09/23/17--09:58: A Batman Comics Reading Guide
The original Batman TV series starring Adam West is a classic for many reasons.
An instantly recognizable theme song, outrageous death traps, ingenious gadgets, an army of dastardly villains and femme fatales, and a pop-culture phenomenon unmatched for generations. James Bond, right? Wrong. 1966’s Batman television series practically defined the comic book adaptation for the next three decades with its distinctive visual flair and parade of celebrity guests, even as it walked the line between loving adaptation and straight-up parody.
When it first premiered in 1966, Batman was the most faithful adaptation of a bona fide comic book superhero ever seen on the screen. It was a nearly perfect blend of the Saturday matinee movie serials (where most comic book characters had their first Hollywood break) and the comics of its time. We take a look at the genesis of the TV series, and how it was both a product of its own time, and that of an earlier era.
Both Flash Gordon and Dick Tracy had made the leap to the big screen before Superman had even hit newsstands, and both saw their serial adventures get two sequels. While Flash Gordon, particularly the first one, was a faithful (within the limitations of its budget) translation of the Alex Raymond comic strips, Dick Tracy was less so. The famed detective became a G-Man, and there was little in the way of fantastic gadgetry or the unfortunately deformed members of his comics strip rogues’ gallery.
The first proper live-action superhero adaptation, however, was 1941’s The Adventures of Captain Marvel, perhaps the finest serial ever made. Years before Richard Donner and Christopher Reeve, this one made audiences believe a man could fly, and featured a perfectly cast Tom Tyler in the title role, but was still rather beholden to serial storytelling conventions and the aforementioned budgetary limitations.
It took Batman a little longer to make it to the screen, and neither Columbia’s Batman (1943) or Batman & Robin(1949) are particularly distinguished efforts, even by the generally low standards of the adventure serial. Batman’s signature rogues' gallery is nowhere to be found, replaced with a generic, hooded serial villain, The Wizard, in Batman & Robin, or, worse, a distasteful racist stereotype in the form of Dr. Daka in 1943’s Batman, which often comes across as little more than an exercise in wartime propaganda. Batman and Robin are portrayed much as they are in the comics, with some unfortunately cheap costumes, and less than physically convincing actors in the title roles.
The Columbia serials, with their lousy special effects and hack dialogue, did have one thing going for them: a series of remarkable action sequences. Nearly every episode of each of these fifteen chapter serials featured Batman and Robin crashing through windows, lurking on rooftops, walking tightropes, and engaging in protracted stunt fights with a series of anonymous henchmen. Those sometimes clumsy, but never boring, action scenes from the serials would be repeated and foregrounded (with some notable visual and sonic additions) once the television series came around. What’s more, legend has it that one of the early factors in Batman’s journey to the small screen was the presence of an ABC exec at a party thrown by Hugh Hefner, where the old serials were screened, and the audience was encouraged to cheer the heroes and boo the villains.
For the most part, the comic book superhero had to adapt to the limitations of the serial format, rather than the medium adapting to the possibilities offered to it by the superhero, and virtually no attempts were made to call attention to the medium which gave birth to them. Whether it’s for practical purposes like budgetary restrictions (note Batman’s distinct lack of a Batmobile in the Columbia serials), or for the purposes of telling a more coherent story (the storybook whimsy found in the Captain Marvel comics, for example, would have felt out of place in Republic’s relatively grounded Adventures of Captain Marvelserial), there are usually decisions to be made regarding, at the very least, the visual representation of the character and surrounding world.
That changed on January 12th, 1966 when the first episode of Batman hit the airwaves at 7:30, which was then considered prime-time. Batman wasn’t the first comic book show to hit the small screen in color (The Adventures of Superman had beaten the Caped Crusader to that particular punch several years earlier), but was handily the most faithful visual and tonal translation of, not only a comic book character and its surrounding mythology, but of the comic book format itself that had ever been seen. This was, of course, by design, and the show turned the perceived weaknesses of the comics into strengths. And while the fight sequences, frequent use of cliffhangers, and clipped, “serious” dialogue were certainly call-backs to the serials, the visual style of the show was sourced directly from the Batman comics of 1964 to 1965. This probably had more to do with the lack of easy access to back issues as research material for the writers and producers in 1965 than it did with any conscious decision to adhere to any one vision of the character, though.
Executive producer William Dozier, who by his own admission, “had never read any comic book,” brought several Batman comics to read on a flight from New York to Los Angeles, and “thought they were crazy if they were going to try to put this on television. Then I had just the simple idea of overdoing it, of making it so square and so serious that adults would find it amusing [and] kids would go for...the adventure.” Perhaps the tone of the series would have been different if Dozier had acquired comics from earlier in the Caped Crusader’s published history, as, by this point in the mid-1960s, the Batman of the comics (and ultimately that of the show) isn’t the “grim avenger of the night” from Detective Comics #27, but instead a fully-deputized defender of the status quo of the era. While there was a lighter tone on display in the Batman comics of the mid-60s, there was also Carmine Infantino’s distinctive art, which brought with it changes to Batman’s costume including the now-iconic yellow oval around the bat-symbol, and the transformation of the Batmobile from a bat-headed sedan into a streamlined, bat-winged hot rod.
But the influence of these contemporary stories on the producers of Batman is so strong that a number of episodes were adapted almost directly from recent comics. For example, the opening two-parter (and the very best hour the series has to offer), “Hi Diddle Riddle/Smack in the Middle,” borrows a number of plot elements from “The Remarkable Ruse of The Riddler” story in 1965’s Batman #171. The show’s overnight success was then reflected in the comics, which attempted to duplicate the show’s outrageous tone and over-the-top storytelling, with an even heavier emphasis on “pop-art” visuals.
Dozier, however, deserves considerable credit for helping make this take on the character work, as he “explained to [Adam] that it had to be played as though we were dropping a bomb on Hiroshima...that he wasn’t going to be Cary Grant, full of charm.” A show about two costumed crime fighters preserving order in a city full of colorful characters would likely have been met with understandable cynicism by the late ‘60s. Batman neatly sidesteps this problem by portraying Batman as a comedic, self-absorbed square, thanks to Adam West’s remarkable portrayal, which as Grant Morrison put it in Supergods, “distilled the quintessence of the serials into a thin-lipped, clipped, and stylized performance that was funny for adults to watch and utterly convincing [and] heroic to children.”
The producers then hedged this gamble by using as many of Batman’s most outrageous foes from the comics as possible, casting bankable stars like Frank Gorshin, Burgess Meredith, Cesar Romero, and Julie Newmar in the roles, and encouraging them to run wild. As a kid, I never understood why my father appeared to be rooting for the villains on this show...
Nearly 25 years before Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy and its four-color palette burned up the box office, Batman tried its very best to make a direct leap from the page to the screen. Colors are bright and primary. The costumes worn by our heroes (and at least a few of the villains) are form-fitting and appear to serve no practical purpose. They are, instead, purely aesthetic affectations that only highlight the grandiose, exhibitionist manias of Batman’s foes, and the utter ridiculousness of the very concept of a pair of masked vigilantes, one of whom is underage, working hand-in-glove with an incompetent police department and an adoring public! And while later cinematic representations of Batman at least tried to address the question of what kind of equipment, training, and armor would be necessary for a man to subject his body to physical punishment night in and night out, the producers of Batman took the most direct route possible. The costumes of, not only Batman and Robin, but Gotham’s entire most-wanted list, are lifted directly from the comic page, thin material, gaudy colors and all.
Batman ran for 120 episodes over the course of three seasons, along with one feature film. As the show progressed, the jokes got stale, and the edgy satire of the first season became more children’s show than smart parody. It sputtered out at the end of a generally subpar third season. Still, its influence was profound. For much of the next 30 years (perhaps more), it seemed impossible for a comic book character to make the jump to live-action without being given a comedic, parodic touch.
Some notable failures included; unaired (and rightfully so) Dick Tracy and Wonder Womanpilots, and a Spirit television movie (which, despite its shortcomings, is infinitely more faithful to Eisner’s vision than the recent Frank Miller film). While “comic book movies” and TV shows now reflect the higher aspirations of much of the source material, let’s not forget how Batman took two disposable pieces of children’s culture, and turned them, however briefly, into something more.
Note: many of the quotes in this story come from The Official Batman Batbook by Joel Eisner, a wonderful resource about the TV series, and available on Amazon.
* this article first ran on November 11th, 2014 *
Whether they're taking on SNK, Marvel, Malibu Comics, or Dr. Robotnik, Ryu and the gang really get around.
In Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Ultron and Sigma merge into one force and wipe out all organic life while Jedah tries to unleash an army of symbiotes. There are aliens, raccoons, wrestling mayors, Avengers, and so on. Also mixed up in this are Ryu and Chun-Li, who have a very lengthy career involving trading blows with warriors from other worlds and properties. It’s their thing.
The Street Fighter cast has taken part in plenty of crossovers, facing Marvel Comics, SNK, Tekken, and many others. I’m a man who loves his crossovers even though sometimes they don’t really meet their full potential. For example, Ryu was recently in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Seeing him fight the likes of Mario and Link is great, but the lack of story ends up being a waste of the character. Man, seeing Ryu and Little Mac actually interact would be pretty fun, right?
As the legendary hobo and his thunder-thighed cop friend take on a bunch of comic book supervillains, I want to look at the best moments of Street Fighter’s roster crossing paths with other folk.
My rules for this are that 1) it has to be official (so that South Park"Imaginationland" episode is off the table), and 2) it has to be a non-Capcom property. Messing with Mega Man and Asura isn’t enough here.
Here we go:
25. E. HONDA VS. THE FERRET
Malibu’s Street Fightercomic is one of my absolute favorite trainwrecks to talk about. Heck, it deserved mention simply for being the first Street Fighter crossover. Back in the early 90s, Malibu' Street Fightercomic by Len Strazewski and Don Hillsman got the publisher in hot water with Capcom due to a plot where Balrog and Sagat beat Ken Masters presumably to death, scalped him, and sent the bloody scalp to a horrified Ryu.
Capcom cancelled the book, but Malibu at least made it to the third issue, which established the events as happening in the Malibu Comics universe. Many mourn the death of Ken Masters, including E. Honda. While reading the news story on an airplane, he gets in a minor altercation with Cal Denton, the alter-ego of Wolverine ripoff the Ferret. The two agree that Cal will tell his “friend” the Ferret to seek out Honda and see just how tough these Street Fighters are supposed to be.
Then one of Malibu’s top heroes goes and jobs out to probably the least important of the original twelve from Street Fighter II. The battle goes on for six pages and comes to an end when Honda causes Ferret to yield after the Hundred Hand Slap. Then he happily crushes his ribs with a celebratory bearhug and says that he's ready to go avenge Ken’s murder. Ferret is left shaken and offers to hook Honda up with his Protectors teammate Amazing Man.
24. CHUN-LI VS. THE KINGPIN
In her Marvel vs. Capcom 3ending, Chun-Li is shown handcuffing Wilson Fisk. Fisk boasts about his connections and how every authority figure worth a damn is in his pocket. Chun-Li shrugs off his threats considering she’s taken on worse organizations, and we see that prior to this, Chun-Li’s given Kingpin quite the swollen face to subdue him.
In Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, the art is the same, but with different text. Chun-Li says that she’d rather stay in the Marvel world because it’s overwhelming with criminals. Kingpin reminds her that he’ll be back on the streets within a day. Her response?
“Well, then I guess I have something to do tomorrow.”
23. DHALSIM AND SHUMA GORATH
Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter is a strange game all around, but Dhalsim’s ending surely sticks out. Dhalsim has Shuma Gorath, the Lovecraftian elder god of chaos, over for dinner. This god, capable of making Stephen Strange need to change his pants, sits across the table from the yoga master and proceeds to go on about how he will bring an end to the universe. Dhalsim and his wife appear in no way alarmed by this and continue to make small talk.
22. CHUN-LI VS. RYUJI YAMAZAKI
Ryuji Yamazaki from Fatal Fury and King of Fighters is a psychotic and brutal criminal obsessed with getting his pay and breaking bones. Much of the time, he’s pestered by Hon Fu, a Hong Kong action cop based on the many roles of Jackie Chan. Yamazaki would make for an obvious enemy of Chun-Li and they play on that in Capcom vs. SNK and its sequel.
Whenever Chun-Li and Yamazaki face each other, Hon Fu jumps out of nowhere to protect Chun-Li and take down Yamazaki himself. Using his whip-like arm, Yamazaki hits Hon Fu in the butt, causing the proud cop to run off whimpering while clutching his cheeks. Chun-Li watches all this transpire with bemusement.
At least having Jackie Chan aid Chun-Li is less weird than Jackie Chan dressing as Chun-Li.
21. DHALSIM VS. MAI SHIRANUI
SNK vs. Capcom, for all its faults, at least has a fantastic gimmick where every matchup includes character-specific dialogue. Everyone has something to say about everyone else. One of the funnier instances is when Dhalsim fights Mai. Mai is voluptuous, and maybe not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
Dhalsim tries to explain to Mai that maybe if she wasn't packing so much "unwanted fat," she'd have more mobility as a ninja. Mai doesn’t catch on that he's talking about her breasts and only gets offended that he would dare call her fat. Dhalsim keeps being coy about it in his insistence and soon Mai is ready to shut him up.
20. HAKAN VS. ROADBLOCK
A few years ago, IDW released a six-issue miniseries called Street Fighter X GI Joe, written by Aubrey SItterson with art by Emilio Laiso and Andrea Di Vito. The story involves a 32-man fighting tournament hosted by M. Bison and Destro, with the comic picking up during the second round.
The whole thing is a trip, but one thing that adds to the early issues is how unorthodox the roster is. Sure, you have expected guys like Ryu, Snake Eyes, Baroness, Chun-Li, Storm Shadow, and so on, but then there’s obscure entries like Hakan, Croc Master, and Rufus. In fact, the “final boss” of the story is a 25-foot-tall Rufus bursting with Psycho Power.
Anyway, the offbeat tournament leads to such matches as Hakan vs. Roadblock, which comes off as unfair at first since Roadblock gets to use a machinegun. Hakan still evades the gunfire and gets the better of his not-rhyming-in-the-comic opponent with the Oil Combination Hold.
Afterwards, Roadblock – himself a cook – finally tastes Hakan’s prized cooking oil and becomes the Turkish wrestler’s biggest fan, offering him a government contract.
19. ZANGIEF MEETS COLOSSUS
Even though his in-game rival/partner is Juggernaut, Zangief has a pretty obvious Marvel Comics counterpart. It isn’t until after Apocalypse is defeated and Zangief stands tall in X-Men vs. Street Fighter that we get to see this fateful team up come into fruition.
Russia is under attack from a rampaging Omega Red. Suddenly, we see Zangief and Colossus running together to team up against this threat. Two good-hearted powerhouses out to protect Mother Russia and all its people.
It suddenly makes sense why the following games gave Zangief the ability to give himself Colossus-like armor.
18. THE BROTHERHOOD OF EVIL MUTANTS AND HUMANS
Also from X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Magneto’s ending shows him putting down Bison and putting an end to his ill-explained plot to rule the world. As Magneto monologues, Bison’s inner-circle – Sagat, Vega, and Balrog – creep over to offer their services as his new Acolytes. Magneto uses the trio as henchmen and somehow “throws fireballs,” “flips around,” and “punches hard” give “controls magnetism” the edge needed to rule the world fairly quickly.
Regardless, it’s nice to see Magneto get over his racism when succeeding in his megalomania. Good for him!
17. SAGAT AND DHALSIM VS. PAUL PHOENIX AND MARSHALL LAW
Street Fighter X Tekken isn’t as based on the two games interacting as you’d think. It’s more about each game's characters interacting with themselves as various teams of two race towards Antarctica to fight over a MacGuffin. The crossover clashing comes when these teams face their rivals, leading to a cutscene to set up the fight.
The oddest tag-team rivalry is between Dhalsim/Sagat (two wise warriors, one's known for his calmness and the other for his temper) and Paul/Law (two dopes driven by greed and desperation). Unlike all the other rivalries, this one doesn’t even pretend that everyone’s on an even playing ground. Even though Paul is the dude who defeated Ogre in Tekkencanon, he and Law both know that the best chance they have against Sagat is to ambush him.
By the time both teams are about to fight each other, Sagat lets out a tiger’s roar loud enough to make Paul and Law nearly piss themselves in fear.
16. TATSUNOKO VS. CAPCOM’S GIRLS GET-TOGETHER
Fighting games lend themselves well to a narrative. Quiz games...less so.
In Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, one of the animated Japanese endings has all the female characters hanging out and enjoying tea. Chun-Li, Saki Omakane, Jun, Roll, Morrigan, and Doronjo discuss Saki’s boyfriend and how they met. Saki, being from Quiz Nanairo Dreams, explains the general story via the logic of the game.
As she talks about how her boyfriend was able to defeat the Demon King’s army and win her heart by answering a bunch of trivia questions, all the women in the room get increasingly confused over whatever the hell she’s talking about.
15. STREET FIGHTERS JOIN GI JOE
I talked about the GI Joe crossover comic, but the two properties had joined together long before that. Once upon a time, Street Fighter action figures were available under the GI Joeumbrella. Not only were the original eight playable fighters part of GI Joe, but Shadaloo became a Cobra subsidiary.
The commercials for this are a wonderland of 90s cheese where Duke acts like a dumbass about his new recruits. Highlights include wondering, “What’s a Dhalsim?” before getting a long-distance kick to the face.
“What’s tougher than a Street Fighter?” he asks. “A Street Fighter’s mother?”
This does mean that Sergeant Slaughter and William “The Refrigerator” Perry are part of at least one Street Fighter continuity.
14. SKULLOMANIA SAVES THE WORLD
Retroactively, Street Fighter EX and its sequels are crossovers. Arika’s characters are their own thing and will even be getting their own fighting game sometime soon. Which sadly means we won’t be getting Cracker Jack in Street Fighter V.
In Street Fighter EX3, the endings are just the characters posing behind a block of text. Chun-Li’s writes a report to her superiors while Sakura sends her parents a letter to let them know she’s all right.
Skullomania – the awesome businessman-turned-superhero – has his ending text in the form of an announcer narrating his exploits at the end of a TV show episode. Like Tom Kenny in Power Puff Girls, basically. The narrator discusses how Skullomania thwarted Shadaloo and will continue to fight evil as we cheer him on. It ends with mention that next week is Episode 25, “Friend or foe? Enter the Skullolady!”
13. HUGO AND POISON VS. KING AND MARDUK
The cinematic trailers leading up to Street Fighter X Tekken absolutely ruled, as did the game’s intro, which was pretty much a highlight reel mixed with butt rock. One of the coolest by far is the one that shows King kicking all the available ass in Metro City.
King starts off defeating Mike Haggar in a wrestling match, which is already kind of a big deal. As he and Marduk celebrate, Poison arrives with Hugo. Hugo is quick to clothesline Marduk out of the ring and then gets his ass completely handed to him by King. Marduk faces off with Poison, leading to a wonderful ending where King picks up Hugo for the Big Swing – an act of strength that horrifies Poison – before tossing the giant into her.
At the end of the trailer, DLC team Guy and Cody arrive on the scene. Cody surveys the wreckage and notes that they missed the fun.
12. THE BAD-ANON MEETING
Ah, Wreck-It Ralph. Great movie. Early on, we see our protagonist, the off-brand Donkey Kong, go to Bad-Anon, a meeting for video game villains who have issues being evil. Other than some off-brand Mortal Kombatcharacters, there’s Bowser, Dr. Robotnik, that rhino guy from Altered Beast, one of the Pacman ghosts, and others. As this is an entry on a list of Street Fightercrossovers, we also have M. Bison and Zangief.
Zangief gives a little speech about how necessary it is to be a villain, and while it’s a well-delivered one, it still grinds my gears because 1) Zangief is a hero to children everywhere and doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with these guys, and 2) M. Bison has the same rad voice actor as the recent games (Gerard C. Rivers) and doesn’t get to say nearly enough.
11. RUFUS VS. BOB RICHARDS
Street Fighter X Tekken leans hard on the perfect rivalry between Rufus and Bob Richards, which is great, since they’re both newbies to their respective games. Bob likes seeing another round fighter who understands the marriage of speed and weight. Rufus continues to see Bob as being Ken Masters or, at the very least, a Ken Masters double.
Not only does this come up in both of their fight intros, but also in their cinematic trailer. Rufus fights Bob at Marshall Law’s restaurant while insisting that Ken gained a bunch of weight to copycat Rufus’ style. As the fight heats up, Rufus fails to notice that Ryu and Ken are calmly eating in the same restaurant and pay the battle no mind.
10. CHUN-LI AND THE WARRIOR KING
Ah, the Warrior King Saga. I’ve written at length about it elsewhere, but here’s the short take on perhaps the strangest Street Fighter crossover of all time. Back in the 90s, Street Fighterhad its own Saturday morning cartoon on USA, along with the Mortal Kombat cartoon and a few others. One morning, a two-hour block of shows had an unannounced story that linked them all together. Street Fighter, Savage Dragon, Mortal Kombat, and Wing Commander Academy all featured a hero named the Warrior King.
The Warrior King is from Warrior World, a planet under siege from evil forces. Warrior King escapes in order to plan his counter attack. Unfortunately, his main weapon, a weather-controlling orb, falls out of his hands and he spends the run of guest appearances trying to get it back.
In Street Fighter, it falls into the hands of M. Bison, who becomes a god due to his control over nature itself. Warrior King works alongside Chun-Li to retrieve the orb and during the adventure, the two become very close. They defeat Bison and the Warrior King has to forego his newfound love in order to follow the orb into another world.
He probably should have stuck around because his adventure does not have a happy ending.
9. AKUMA AND DAN SCHOOL GOD
Even though SNK vs. Capcomhas all that dialogue built into it, the endings are mostly pretty weak and have little crossover whatsoever. Ryu looks for a new challenge, Kyo fights Iori, Guile goes home to be a family man, Terry continues drifting, Bison rules the world, and so on. Nobody really reaches out to the other brand.
Except some characters have two possible endings. The final boss is either Red Arremer (Capcom) in Hell or Athena (SNK) in Heaven and events in these endings depend on who you fight. That means that in Akuma’s ending, he decides to return to Heaven to confront Athena again and challenge her boss, God himself.
Similarly, Dan’s ending has him take Athena and God under his wing to teach them his worthless Saikyo Style. God throwing punches in a pink karate gi, just as He intended.
8. DAN HIBIKI’S TRUE FORM
The Street Fighter X GI Joe comic plays up its tournament. For the first two rounds, nearly every battle is a Street Fighter character against someone from GI Joe or Cobra. There is a weird outlier in that, though. The first round (recapped in text in the appendix) has Dan defeat Sakura in an upset. That advances him into the top 16 against Chun-Li.
Not only is it strange that Dan won a fight, but that they’re having him face two Street Fightercharacters in a row.
The fight goes the way you’d expect at first. Dan talks a big game and gets his face smashed in while looking like a complete jackass. It isn’t until Chun-Li goes for the Spinning Bird Kick that Dan springs to action and incapacitates her with a knee to the spine. He then reveals that he was never Dan to begin with.
Zartan, a true master of disguise, essentially got to saunter through the first two rounds by getting his opponents to underestimate the hell out of him. Bravo.
7. THE MARVEL VS. CAPCOM BBQ
Marvel’s YouTube channel used to do a series called Marvel Super Heroes: What The?! that featured stop-motion action figures poking fun at Marvel itself. To tie into the release of Marvel vs. Capcom Origins, there’s an episode about Captain America throwing a barbeque and inviting Ryu and Chun-Li. The two parties have fought enough, so they might as well have fun together.
Chun-Li briefly inquires about the lack of storyline in all of the Marvel vs. Capcomgames (i.e. who entered them in those tournaments and why were they fighting?), but it’s ignored. It doesn’t take long for Ryu to get in a confrontation with Deadpool, Hawkeye, and later Hulk.
As a massive brawl breaks out, MODOK relaxes with the villains, sighing at yet another meaningless “hero vs. hero” conflict. At the same time, Dr. Strange can’t figure out how gods and mystics are getting taken down by people whose special powers are “being good at karate.”
The fight is broken up when a giant Apocalypse stomps onto the scene, smiles, and announces that he brought potato salad.
6. GUILE VS. RUGAL BERNSTEIN
Here’s some fan service 16 years in the making.
In King of Fighters ’94, the very first of the series, Rugal Bernstein is introduced while he's showing off his statue collection. He has a zest for fighting powerful opponents, killing them, and then giving them the Han Solo treatment for the sake of having badass trophies. This is an easy way for the game to tell us that he’s EVIL.
One of those victims looks awfully familiar, though. It’s a man with brush-like hair, posing with arms crossed. In other words, it’s SNK playfully flipping off Capcom by saying that Rugal killed Guile at some point.
Fast-forward to the year 2000 with the release of Capcom vs. SNK. Whenever Guile is in a round against Rugal, that statue stands in-between them. The two take turns destroying it and get down to business.
5. STREET FIGHTERS UNITE
Once upon a time, Archie Comics did a crossover between Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man called Worlds Collide. It ruled so hard. A few years later, they did a sequel called Worlds Unite. This one starts off not only using Sonic and Mega Man’s worlds, but the world of Sonic Boom and the era of Mega Man X. Everyone has to work together to face the forces of Sigma.
About halfway into the story, Sticks from Sonic Boom falls through a random portal and ends up in the Street Fighter reality, where she goes on to explain the plot of Mega Man Xto Chun-Li. Next thing you know, not only are Chun-Li, Ryu, Ken, and Guile helping fight Sigma, but Shadaloo joins their side.
The heroes decide not to stop there and bring in all sorts of Sega and Capcom characters. We get heroes from Billy Hatcher, Golden Axe, Panzer Dragoon, Alex Kidd, Nights Into Dreams, Skies of Arcadia, Ghosts ‘n Goblins, Okami, Viewtiful Joe, Monster Hunter, and Breath of Fire III! So yeah, it’s a party.
4. AKUMA VS. RUGAL BERNSTEIN
Akuma has had various rivals in the many Capcom/SNK games. SNK vs. Capcomsaid it was Mr. Karate, the handheld version went with Iori Yagami, and the first Capcom vs. SNK didn't give him a rival at all. In Capcom vs. SNK 2, the developers decided to match him up with Rugal. Two very different men at the same power level.
Rugal and Akuma have a showdown and the resulting battle destroys the surrounding city. If Akuma wins, a dying Rugal impales him with his fist and forcefeeds him Rugal’s Orochi powers. You’re forced to fight Shin Akuma and even if you do stop him, a cutscene shows that the Orochi powers simply refuse to let Akuma die.
If Rugal wins, on the other hand, he also impales Akuma, but to suck out and absorb his Dark Hadou powers. God Rugal (or Ultimate Rugal) is your boss fight and in defeat, his power overwhelms him. The Akuma essence that he absorbed proceeds to take over, turning him into a full-on, well-dressed demon.
3. A SHORYUKEN LIKE SOMETHING UNTO IRON
In Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Ryu’s ending puts him in an underground fighting tournament in Madripoor where his opponent turns out to be Iron Fist. Sweet ending, but with Iron Fist showing up in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, they need to change it up a bit. Understandably, Ryu gets a new ending.
Ryu is shown about to put on a red cloth, presumably his iconic headband, while musing that he’s finally found the correct path after so many years training and wandering. Akuma pops in for his usual, angry, “How dare you turn your back on your inner darkness?!” freakout challenge and it’s then that we see that Ryu wasn’t holding his headband after all.
Instead, Ryu has become the new Iron Fist, complete with bandana mask and chest tattoo, and has zero problem teaching Akuma a lesson with an Iron Shoryuken.
Luckily, I’m not the only one who digs this alternate take on Ryu. Someone altered Capcom vs. SNK’s Ryu sprite to make Iron Fist Ryu a reality in MUGEN.
2. AKUMA VS. HEIHACHI MISHIMA
It’s one thing to be a guest character in another game, but for Akuma to be revealed as a major part of Tekkencanon is absolutely bonkers. As a favor to Kazumi Mishima – wife of Heihachi – Akuma was asked decades ago to protect the world by killing both Heihachi and his son Kazuya. Being that Akuma likes powerful foes, he decided to wait out that contract and let those two jerks power up over time.
The showdown between Akuma and Heihachi in Tekken 7’s story mode is really well done. Akuma confronts Heihachi, the two fight for a round, and then some Jack robots interrupt and get taken apart. Akuma finally introduces himself and explains why he’s there, they fight it out again, they punch each other so hard they both go flying back, and then they do the final round.
In the final round, Heihachi’s attacks have plenty of super armor attached, making him much more powerful. This time, it ends with Akuma hitting his trademark Raging Demon, which does a ton of damage, but doesn’t outright take down Heihachi. The two attack at the same time and Akuma ends up the last man standing. He walks off, thinking Heihachi dead, but even then, the old man survives.
It’s great, because it shows Akuma the victor while Heihachi still gets badass points for not only surviving the onslaught, but for nearly shrugging off Akuma’s ultimate attack.
Akuma would go on to fight Kazuya a couple times, but it’s not as good. Mainly because we never get a real ending out of either fight. Plus that Devil Kazuya vs. Akuma boss battle is total bullshit.
1. MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 3’S PROLOGUE
So originally, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was supposed to have a story mode. That was quietly brushed under the rug, though. The only story we got outside of the endings was the special edition’s tiny comic book and these completely badass prologue trailers. The first of which was also used as an announcement trailer.
In the beginning, we see Ryu fighting Wolverine on a rooftop, while Iron Man dogfights Morrigan, Chris Redfield tries to hunt the Hulk, and Deadpool and Dante empty hundreds of bullets at each other. Ryu starts off hallucinating for a second, laying on his back and seeing a hand reaching down to him. Personally, I like to think he’s flashing back to his fight with Sagat from the first Street Fighter. Regardless, there is no hand and instead he has to continue fighting this berserk enemy.
Through four trailers, we get 11 minutes of absolute beauty. The animation looks fantastic and despite there being no dialogue whatsoever, there’s so much personality shining through.
There are many awesome moments in there. Chris catching Morrigan out of the air. Chun-Li rescuing a nameless helicopter pilot while Captain America protects them from Super-Skrull. Iron Man saving Viewtiful Joe’s life and Joe giving him a thumbs up. Chris coming to realize that Hulk isn’t the enemy. Thor having an epic battle with Dormammu in the middle of a city while Mike Haggar and Felicia desperately try to save a political billboard.
Then there’s the final part, where Ryu passes out and has his hallucination again. This time, Wolverine is there to grab his hand and help him up. Together, the two run into action and we get a still of the heroes preparing their last stand to heroic music. It’s absolutely killer.
...Man, who’s going to grab Ryu’s hand now?
Gavin Jasper is very ready for more Skullomania in this world. Follow Gavin on Twitter!
Everything you need to know about the Artemis Fowl movie adaptation from Kenneth Branagh...
It’s been more than a decade since the Artemis Fowl fantasy book series about a boy billionaire genius who also happens to be a criminal mastermind was published and inspired talk of a movie.
Now, it seems like the film adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s bestselling children’s book series might finally move ahead. The Tracking Board reports that Kenneth Branagh, fresh off of his success with Disney’s live action Cinderella, has signed on to direct the film.
Could the Artemis Fowl film finally be happening? We hope so. Here's everything we know.
Artemis Fowl Movie Cast
Also according to Variety, Judi Dench is in talks to join the Artemis Fowl adaptation. It's unclear, at this point, which character she would play. Though I think we can at least rule out Artemis Fowl.
In other recent news, Irish playwright Conor McPherson will be writing the script for the adaptation of the best-selling middle grade novel.
Artemis Fowl Movie Release Date
Disney has slated the film for an August 9th, 2019 release date.
Artemis Fowl Movie Production History
Long before the anti-hero craze hit mainstream TV drama, Artemis Fowl was making immoral decisions and trying to leverage innocent bystanders for money, power, or to rescue family members in this series of middle grade novels.
Artemis is like a cross between Gotham’s Bruce Wayne, James Bond, and pretty much every supervillain worth their salt. Throw in some high-tech gadgetry and a secret magical underworld policed by fairies and you’ve got the perfect ingredients for a blockbuster film adaptation — which is why it’s so surprising that this movie adaptation hasn’t progressed further in the last decade.
The Artemis Fowl films have been in development hell for the last 14 years. To put that in context, Harvey Weinstein bought the rights in 2001 through Miramax Films (which was later purchased by Disney) — aka the same year the first Harry Potter film was released and studios started selling their first borns to find the next big YA/children’s book film adaptation.
Over the years, directors like Lawrence Guterman and Jim Sheridan have been attached to the Artemis Fowl film. But, in 2013, the latter left the project and Disney announced that they would be producing a version of the film with the Weinstein Co., with Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal as executive producers.
Personally, we’re overjoyed to see this film adaptation move forward, especially with the right writer. Though Branagh has proven himself a highly competent director, the Cinderellascript was a bit thin. Snarky Artemis Fowl needs a writer up to the task of quippy one-liners and balancing the fine line between child anti-hero and lonely kid with too much money and not enough family members.
Read and download the full Den of Geek SDCC Special Edition magazine here!
A new Marvel series, Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Storms of Crait, will shed light on the backstory of one of the planets in Episode VIII.
Since Disney bought the rights to Star Wars in 2012, there has been little to read or watch about Luke Skywalker in the days after the Battle of Endor. That's all about to change with The Last Jedi, the movie that will shed light on what Luke's been up to since his victory in Return of the Jedi. Just in time for the movie, Marvel has also announced a brand new Luke Skywalker adventure, although this one will take place in the past and will serve as a companion series to Episode VIII.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Storms of Crait by writers Ben Acker & Ben Blacker and artist Mike Mayhew sheds light on the backstory of one of the planets introduced in the new movie: the mineral planet Crait.
Here's the official synopsis:
In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it becomes a battleground between the Resistance and the First Order, but that wasn’t the first time Crait became a place where heroes and villains clashed in their fight for the galaxy. Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa once took up arms on Crait and led the rebellion as they as they searched for a new home – and a new base for the Rebel Alliance. Tying in to the eagerly anticipated December film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Storms of Crait promises to be a new and exciting adventure for all Star Wars fans – and a story that will change the galaxy as we know it.
“We’re excited for the opportunity to tell this story,” said editor Jordan D. White, “Tying the new sequel series in more tightly with the original trilogy era, and helping make the Galaxy Far Away a little more fleshed out. The Bens are a great fit in for Star Wars, as they showed in Join the Resistance, and Mike has did such great work on both covers and the Obi-Wan issues of the flagship Star Wars title, that we couldn’t be happier to have him back doing art for us.”
The first issue hits stands on Dec. 27, a few days after The Last Jedipremieres on Dec. 15. Here's a look at the cover of the first issue:
Damon Lindelof has begun production on a Watchmen HBO series.
With The Leftovers having wrapped its final season to wild critical acclaim, Damon Lindelof is sticking around HBO to develop a Watchmen TV series. Yes, you read that right. Watchmen is finally getting the prestige cable drama that fans have wanted for as long as prestige cable drama has been a thing.
Lindelof's vision is apparently unrelated to a Watchmen series discussed by Zack Snyder (who directed the film version) and HBO back in 2015. It's not clear how far those particular talks got, or what the actual plan for it was. After all, with Snyder involved, it seems unlikely it would have been a re-adaptation of the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons graphic novel. According to Variety, the Lindelof version is "starting over from scratch" and has nothing to do with those previous discussions.
After some speculation about how far along these talks all got, it seems that things are now safely underway for the Watchmen TV series, with Mr. Lindelof posting a familiar trophy on Instagram...
The big question, then, is just what will this new series be? Is it another adaptation of the graphic novel? Zack Snyder's 2009 adaptation has its defenders, and visually it's certainly faithful enough to the comics, but it was admittedly limited by the constraints of a movie runtime. A TV series could spend more time exploring the flashbacks to the Minutemen era, or fleshing out some of the supplementary text material that happens in between the comic chapters. That Nite Owl trophy sure raises my Minutemen speculation antennae a little bit.
In 2013, DC Comics released a series of Watchmen prequels, appropriately titled Before Watchmen, from an assortment of creators not named Moore or Gibbons. They were met with what can charitably be described as a mixed response from fans and critics. Nevertheless, there's plenty of existing material to fuel a Watchmen series for several seasons. Then again, Lindelof and friends might not have to delve into the spinoffs to flesh out the graphic novel. There's enough going on in any one of the original's twelve chapters to fuel multiple episodes.
Watchmen writer Alan Moore has been notoriously outspoken about his disapproval for all adaptations and spinoffs, and that's unlikely to change here. But for the rest of us, the chance to see this series given another chance at the screen, perhaps one that's a little less stylized than the movie version, is certainly appealing. There have also been rumblings of an R-rated animated movie, but hopefully that won't come to pass. After all, you can't really improve on the source material, and whenever anyone messes with it, they're only met with diminishing returns. In fact, maybe you should just read the book instead.
We'll update this with new information as we get it.
Her name isn't pretty-pretty, it's Barbarella. The angel of the sexual revolution is coming back to comics.
A good many dramatic situations begin with screaming. Dynamite Entertainment is filling its lungs to announce Barbarella is coming back to comics for the first time in 35-years. The new series will coincide with Barbarella's 55th anniversary.
This will be the iconic character's first-ever American comic series. It will be written by Mike Carey (X-Men, Lucifer, The Girl with All the Gifts), and longtime Barbarella brand custodian and consulting editor Jean-Marc Lofficier. The artwork will be done by Turkish artist Kenan Yarar (Hilal). The new Barbaella series is slated for release this December.
"When I was first told of Dynamite Editor Matt Idelson's Barbarella project, I thought it was fascinating," Yarar said in a statement.
"Even though Barbarella is unruly, bold, attractive and sexually appealing, she wasn't objectified and she has a strange universe that may lead to countless eccentric worlds. The thing that compelled me to absolutely take part in this project was reading Mike Carey's script. The script was masterful and enjoyable in addition to having a solid philosophy and subtext to be the answer if someone bothered to ask me what kind of a comic book I'd like to work on as an artist."
Yarar, who stopped his education after high school to concentrate on art, is best known for his rebellious and beautiful character Hilal. He also drew for short stories and Tales of Psychosis.
"I'm really excited to be working with Kenan Yarar," Carey said in a statement. "He's an artist with an exuberant, dazzling, playful style that's perfect for the book - and he's a great collaborator, always coming up with left-field solutions to narrative problems."
"I am delighted with the selection of Kenen Yarar,” Barbarella consulting editor Jean-Marc Lofficier said in a statement. "His preliminary sketches have shown both a spirit and a style that brings a new life into the character; it is faithful without being imitative."
Barbarella was created by Jean Claude Forest in 1962, the beginning of the Sexual Revolution. Jane Fonda played the title character in Roger Vadim’s 1968 cult-classic film Barbarella. She has not appeared in a new series since her last appearance in the science fiction magazine Heavy Metal.
"We are extremely proud to not only be the first publisher to bring the iconic character back to print in more than 35 years, but to be the premiere American publisher to have the honor in Barbarella's history," Dynamite CEO/Publisher Nick Barrucci said in a statement. "To be able to work together with the incredible talents of Mike Carey, now combined with the artistic brilliance of Kenan Yarar, we're certain we've brought in the perfect team to do her legacy justice. I cannot thank Jean-Marc and the estate enough for bestowing this honor on us."
"The first time I saw Kenan's art, my jaw just dropped," says Matt Idelson, senior editor for Dynamite. "His work is extraordinary, and it straddles an impossibly fine line between the utterly fantastical while staying grounded and keeping you in the story. The level of detail and thought he brings to everything he draws, be it from the real world or the world of the imagination is remarkable. I knew he had to draw the book from that first moment."
Barbarella will be made available throught Diamond Comic Distributors' October 2017 Previews catalog. Comic book fans are encouraged to ask their local comic book guys to order it.
You can't make everyone happy, but there are definitely a few heroes and villains who really should be in Marvel vs. Capcom.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is essentially the ninth game in the crossover fighting game series, starting all the way back in 1994 when Akuma showed up in X-Men: Children of the Atom. Despite the amount of reused resources in the games, plenty of recognizable characters have shown up for both sides.
We’ve seen classic characters like Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America, Ryu, Mega Man, Jill Valentine, and so on. We’ve seen the entertaining B-list fighters such as Captain Commando, Viewtiful Joe, Mike Haggar, Deadpool, Venom, and Super-Skrull. There are even some downright obscure folks like Son-Son, Marrow, Shuma-Gorath, and those unused Darkstalkersdesigns Amingo and Ruby Heart.
Yet there will always be the feeling that it’s not enough. Here are some names that haven’t had an opportunity to show up in any of the Marvel vs. Capcom games, at least not as playable characters. Some are surprising in their absence while others are folks I really wish could've been added somewhere along the line.
For the sake of equality, I’m going to go back and forth between Marvel and Capcom. I’m also going with characters who have been around for a while. While it would be nice to see Gwenpool, the current Ms. Marvel, or Jack Baker pop up as Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite DLC, I’m not going to go over them.
At most, Daredevil has appeared in a background and as a card in that Heroes and Heralds nonsense from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. That's it. We have guys who have dressed up as Daredevil, but never the real deal. That’s kind of crazy. You’d think Capcom would at least have made Danny Rand Daredevil an alternate costume for Iron Fist.
He’d bring the Spider-Man agility with some offense probably reminiscent of Captain America. Hell, give him boxing skills while you’re at it. Too bad his powers don’t exactly translate into a fighting game all that well.
Of the original 12 Street Fighter II characters, only seven have shown up in the Marvel crossovers. The ones who sat it out include Sagat, Vega, Balrog, E. Honda, and Blanka. Having Blanka on the sidelines during all of this seems kind of questionable. He has the most ridiculous, inexplicable design with an actual superhero origin.
Sure, he appeared in Hulk’s Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter ending to have a quick conversation, but you’d think that would have led to something bigger. He’s Capcom’s own personal green monster, only instead of throwing tanks, he rolls around like a ball and summons electricity. He’s practically Hulk mixed with Wolverine, but with the mind of a child. Amp up his abilities and toss him into the melee!
First off, Red Venom/Hyper Venom from Marvel vs. Capcom totally doesn’t count. Don’t @ me.
Carnage is like Blanka in that he was huge in the 90s, but his star has since died. Then again, Marvel vs. Capcom isn’t TOO different and those games were coming out when it would have made sense to toss Carnage in. After all, not only did he have his own video game complete with red cartridge, but he was the final boss in the sequel (despite having ZERO to do with the story), and was partially the final boss for one of the best Spider-Man games of all time.
It probably didn’t help that Capcom’s depiction of Venom focused more on Carnage’s morphing gimmicks than just being a bulkier Spider-Man. Carnage’s boss battles in non-Capcom games show how easy he fits into this kind of mess, what with his giant claws and axe-hands.
Ah well. He may not have shown up in a Capcom fighter, but he did get to be on Broadway, so good for him.
Revisiting the original 12 of Street Fighter II again, I have to call Capcom out on the lack of Sagat representation. Not only is he the original Street Fighter boss and a playable character in the three main Capcom/SNK crossover games, but he’s #1 on this site’s list where I ranked every Street Fightercharacter. Sagat’s the best, man. Let the King of Muay Thai beat up some Skrulls.
It is interesting to consider how Sagat would fit into this series. Would he have been given beam attacks? Maybe a barrage of Tiger Shots that fire in all sorts of directions? I’m not entirely sure how a less-grounded Sagat would work, but I’m bummed we've never found out.
THE SENTRY/THE VOID
How awesome a boss fight would it be if you took on the Sentry in the first round, then he freaked out and became the Void and you had to—
Wait, that’s not right. Sentry was a secret boss character in the first Street Fighter back in 1987. Heh! My mistake! Totally forgot that happened.
So we’ve had Mega Man, Mega Man’s sister, and now Mega Man’s Reploid brother. Strangely, his rebellious brother has never received his day in the crossover spotlight. Sure, there’s not too much that differentiates him from Mega Man, other than cosmetics and his stationary shield, but Mega Man’s move list is built on stealing weapons and there are so many other Robot Masters to steal from.
I guess what makes it so shocking that Capcom didn’t include him in, say, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is that Proto Man would be such an easy addition. Eighty percent of his sprites would just be edits of Mega Man and going the easy way is Capcom’s MO for these types of games.
Ah, well. We’ll always have Power Fighters.
Speaking of robotic relatives, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infiniteemphasizes Ultron as one half of the big threat and Vision’s nowhere to be seen. The last playable team member from the Captain America and the Avengers arcade game probably deserves a spot somewhere, especially now that he’s the movie team’s hardest hitter (since Thor and Hulk aren’t around).
Not only is Vision a fitting inclusion, but he’s also very versatile. You can give him simple beam attacks but you can also pull off some unique moves and gimmicks with his mass-changing. Have him fly around while phasing, have him become so dense that he has super armor and doesn’t block. There’s a lot of potential there.
Yes, they just gave us Sigma, but of the classic era of Mega Man, it felt wrong that they never put any villains in these games. I never really cared for Bass (Racer X Mega Man > Vegeta Mega Man) and Robot Masters don't feel like great additions due to their disposable henchman nature, so there’s not much to choose from. Dr. Wily in some kind of robot suit could MAYBE work (especially in his alien "final form" from Mega Man 2), but for my money, give the spot to Yellow Devil.
The big blob is the bane of my childhood, and as a recurring boss in the Wily stages, he always felt like a step above the more memorable Robot Master villains. He was Wily’s personal Goro with a body like Clayface. Having a goopy tank face the Marvel heroes would be novel and he could make for a fun rivalry with either Sandman or the Awesome Android.
THE PUNISHER/NICK FURY
It’s INSANE that they haven’t put Frank Castle in a fighting game yet. Absolutely insane. Not only is he one of Marvel’s A-listers, but he starred in the first Capcom-created Marvel game, his 1993 self-titled arcade classic. Wait, second game. Remember the Sentry was in Street Fighter. He totally was.
With Chris Redfield around as of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, you do have to get a bit more creative coming up with a moveset for “hardened soldier who uses every gun he can get his hands on.” But if Capcom were to come up with something new for Frank, they could also lean into history further by adding in Nick Fury. As a callback to the Punisher game, have Nick Fury as an alternate Punisher skin that happens to have its own personality and quotes.
I’m going to level with you. I’ve never actually played Red Earth. I know maybe one person who actually has. It’s a very beautiful-looking game with some wonderful designs. It’s also a game that Capcom likes to think back fondly on when crossovers come into play. More specifically, when it comes to Tessa, who they consider the best character. Tessa has shown up in Pocket Fighter, Capcom Fighting Evolution, and SNK vs. Capcom, yet has never gone toe-to-toe with Marvel.
She’d fit in wonderfully, too, especially now that Dr. Strange has more public visibility. Tessa’s deal is that she’s a witch who studies sorcerology. While Strange may study magic purely out of duty, Tessa simply has a passion to understand the science of how magic works in all of its forms.
It took a hell of a lot of time to get Thor as a playable character. He probably would have made it eventually, even if he weren’t part of a cinematic juggernaut that made him a household name. But you know who else came out of the Marvel movie experiment with higher stock? None other than Loki, the guy responsible for there being an Avengers team in the first place.
Too bad character morphing went the way of the dodo after fighting games went 3D because Loki would have made a perfect Shang Tsung type. Regardless, his trickery wouldn’t be impossible to translate into a fighter and when your power is generic magic, the sky’s the limit.
Capcom has a cornucopia of fighting games, and the fact that some of them haven’t been represented in their money crossover series is more illegal than kidnapping Jack Black. Take Power Stone, for instance. It had two flawed, but fun installments and an anime, but it’s been all but forgotten. And while Capcom’s like, “Hey, remember Red Earth? You don’t? Well, we do!” they’ve left Power Stone in the dust. Which is funny because now they’re doing a game where a completely different “Power Stone” is a weapon you can activate.
I will grant that Power Stone’s cast seems fairly half-baked, but if anyone deserves a shot at the mainstream, it’s Falcon. Depicted as the English Indiana Jones, Falcon is an adventurer and old-timey pilot with a zest for treasure hunting. He’s practically too on the nose to show up in Infinitewhere powerful treasure is the gimmick of the game. But he also comes with a special flying armor form, which would make for a rad super.
Luke Cage used to be about as big as a comic character could be without actually appearing in anything non-comic for a long time. I mean, Nicholas Cage named himself after him. Luke having a guest appearance in an Avengerscartoon felt like a big deal at the time for me, contrasting with how he was one of the main characters when Brian Michael Bendis had his endless Avengers/New Avengers comic run. Nowadays he’s become a mainstream figure due to the success of his Netflix appearances, so I can understand why he wasn’t in any of the older games.
That is, until you remember that Iron Fist was in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 first! I know they’re supposed to be “partners” and theoretically equal and all, but come on. If you were to ask which guy was the sidekick of the two, most would point at Iron Fist. For like a ten year stretch, his identity was “Luke Cage’s friend hanging out in the background.”
Give us a blaxploitation grappler with super armor already.
The other Capcom game that doesn’t get enough love is Rival Schools, the Teen Titans to Street Fighter’s Justice League. While Batsu is the go-to choice for many because he’s the protagonist, I find Batsu and his running buddies to be duller than...I don’t know, whatever the opposite of cheddar is. There’s a whole pile of characters from this game that are more interesting.
Personally, my choice would be to go with Akira the Kung-Fu Rider, Capcom's answer to Samus Aran. Her deal? Her badass brother got kidnapped and brainwashed, so she dressed up as a biker to hide her identity, recruited her brother’s gang member flunkies, and went to go crush those responsible. Only in her ending did she remove her helmet to reveal that she was a girl.
Anyway, enhance her moves and have the likes of Daigo, Edge, and Gan show up in her attacks. Besides, Infinitealready suffers from a lack of female combatants as is.
Namor predates Captain America. He’s been a Defender, an Avenger, a member of the Illuminati, an X-Man, and the Steve Urkel to the Fantastic Four’s Winslow family. With DC Comics constantly trying too hard to make Aquaman cool, you already have a sexy, aquatic king ready-made with the Submariner. Why he has yet to show up in any Capcom game is beyond me.
Even as a guy whose deal is that he hangs out in the ocean, Namor’s capable of so much that you could easily build a fighting style around him. He’s strong, he flies, he’s fast, and he can sometimes shoot electricity. I can’t help but smile at the thought of someone pulling off a Namor super at Evo while thousands of audience members yell, “IMPERIUS REX!” in unison.
*sigh* Face it, we’re never getting that new Darkstalkersgame. The only way we'll ever get to see these guys in action again are in crossover games. That said, Talbain has yet to appear in one of these games for some reason, despite the fact that he's fun to play as. I want my martial artist werewolf, damn it! Ryu’s Capcom Fighting Evolution ending is essentially: “How awesome would Ryu vs. Talbain be?! I know, right?!”
Yet here we are. I need my howling cannon attacks, man...
Because of the whole X-Men movie rights issue, Marvel is constantly trying to figure out their female hero situation. Who is their star if it can’t be Storm, Rogue, or Jean? They tossed Black Widow into the Avengersmovie while kind of treating her as the bottom rung member. They’ve spent years insisting that Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel is totally a thing we should be into. But really, why not just focus on Songbird for once?
Songbird went from one of the ugliest villain designs to a lovable, redemptive hero as part of the Thunderbolts. Her powers are half Green Lantern and half Sindel and she has a history with pro wrestling. Actually, to hell with Marvel vs. Capcom games, they need to announce Thunderboltsas a Phase 4 film already!
Hey, I know I touched on Street Fighter characters earlier, but Alex is a fantastic protagonist that Capcom never truly champions. He’s the main character of the Street Fighter IIIgames, which are awesome, but rarely revisited. Even while the other Street Fighter IIIcharacters appeared in Street Fighter IV, Alex was barely given a cameo in Street Fighter V in which Dhalsim tells him, “You’ll be important one day, but not now.”
He represented Street Fighter in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, but apparently he’s not good enough to powerbomb Dr. Doom.
The way I see it, Capcom’s side is a bit more versatile due to its roster of chibi fighters, including the Mega Man characters, Arthur, and Viewtiful Joe. The only tiny guy Marvel has to play with is Rocket Raccoon. Seems the House of Ideas could use a cartoonier and shorter warrior.
Spider-Ham is a concept that only works well in limited doses, and being a single character in an ensemble fighting game is perfect. A sillier take on the Spider-Man moveset would win over many.
Otherwise...perhaps Howard the Duck with the same attacks as Scrooge McDuck from Capcom’s Ducktales? I’d main it.
Lastly, the hero of the near-forgotten sidescroller from the 80s would fit in perfectly in a Marvel vs. Capcom game. Trojan is essentially Mad Max if he rocked a sword and shield to fight evil. In his world, the post-apocalypse has led to the resurrection of various warlords and it’s up to Trojan to go around and re-kill them.
Outside of showing up in an arcade collection or two, Trojan’s fallen into obscurity. We’ll never get a new game starring the character, but perhaps Capcom could have him do some punk swashbuckling against Ryu and Iron Man? Kind of a shame that a guy from the future is stuck so far in the past.
Any other missed opportunities in Marvel and Capcom's rosters? Let me know in the comments.
Gavin Jasper was going to include Black Widow on the list, but then they went and announced her for Infinite. Go figure. Follow Gavin on Twitter!
With an X-Force movie on the way, we look at the history of the team.
For nearly a decade, the New Mutants were the second generation of Professor Charles Xavier’s students, the wide-eyed kids finding their way through a world that hated and feared them, and was also often a demon-infested hellscape and/or Asgard. But after nearly 100 issues, Marvel was itching for a change, so they handed the reins of New Mutants to a hot new artist named Rob Liefeld, who brought a new energy, new characters, and eventually a new name to the book, carving out a thematic niche for the team that would endure for the next 30 years.
However, that niche was wide and held a lot of different variations in it. With the news that Drew Goddard was taking the reins of the upcoming X-Force movie, and putting Deadpool 2leads Cable and Deadpool in the movie, we at Den of Geek thought it would be worth looking at the various incarnations and iterations of X-Force, Marvel’s proactive, paramilitary-ish mutant team.
The original X-Force team was a fairly logical outgrowth of the New Mutants. For years, Cannonball, Sunspot, Mirage, Magik, Cypher, Warlock, and Wolfsbane were stifled as teenage mutants trying to grow into the second generation of mutant heroes at Xavier’s school. First under the tutelage of Professor Xavier, then under Magneto, the team was constantly rebelling against restrictions placed on them, even after those rebellions ended up getting a mess of them killed or horribly damaged.
After leaving Magneto, and following a series of defections, deaths and new colleagues joining the team, they cast out on their own and were eventually taken under the wing of Cable, a mysterious mutant from the future, and trained not to be pacifist schoolchildren, but a preemptive strike force. The then-core team consisted of time-displaced military leader Cable; heart of the New Mutants and secretly the most popular guy in the Marvel universe Cannonball; ultimate survivor and friend of Beyonders Boom-Boom; and preternaturally fortunate mercenary and ex-colleague of Cable’s Domino. They added former Hellion and younger brother of the deceased Thunderbird, Warpath; Feral, a savage, former Morlock cat lady; and Shatterstar, a Mojoverse refugee who carried two swords with parallel blades. They rebranded as X-Force and set out to influence the future by being proactive in their own time. That mission statement would stick: every reinvention of the team (but one) would be centered around using whatever means necessary to proactively protect mutantkind.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t a very sustainable thesis for a long-term single run.
Caught up in the tumult of real world bullpen politics, X-Forcesaw some significant changes early in its run, including the departure of its creator, Rob Liefeld, and a shift in publishing strategy towards editor-driven annual crossovers. The team added and lost members - Mirage, the Cheyenne former leader of the New Mutants; Rictor, an earthquake-causing geomorph; Siryn, Banshee’s daughter; and Sunspot, the rich Brazilian ex-New Mutant and best Avenger ever are among the most famous of the rotating cast. The ongoing changes eventually ground down the book’s identity, and while it went on being published for 100 issues, it lost the voice it burst onto the scene with and became just another X-Men book with a different cast.
This wave of X-Force had a dying gasp. Along with the rest of the X-comic line, there was a flurry of change ahead of the new movie and the impending anniversary issue, X-Men #100. X-Force, along with Generation X and X-Man were handed over to Warren Ellis, the legendary writer who was then hip-deep in Planetaryand Transmetropolitan. He turned Cannonball, Boom-Boom, Domino, Warpath, and Bedlam into a covert ops group handled by Pete Wisdom and the British government. This lasted for roughly 15 issues before the team, and the entire core concept behind it, were overhauled completely.
Marvel, crawling out of creative and financial bankruptcy, appointed almost entirely new leadership in their comic division around 2001. Joe Quesada, the new Editor-in-Chief, brought with him a former Vertigo editor, Axel Alonso, who himself brought his Vertigo sensibility to Marvel. That meant hiring some...odd picks...for his team books.
Peter Milligan’s most famous work to this point had been a thoroughly weird revamp of Shade, the Changing Man, that was more a musing on mental illness than it was a superhero comic. Mike Allred created Madman, a deep indie superhero who was as much pop art as it was story. They were...not a natural fit for the paramilitary underground mutant group that X-Force had been, so Milligan, Allred and Alonso changed the team to be a send up of all millennial pop culture. Characters like Phat, U-Go Girl, or someone who DEFINITELY WASN’T a resurrected Princess Diana were a mix of Britney Spears and reality television stars. The book was a pretty savage takedown of pop culture and superhero comics, with the entire team being killed off more than once and the title changing from X-Force to X-Statix.
Unfortunately, the book was also not a great seller, so despite its critical acclaim, the series was cancelled after two years and the X-Force name lay fallow for a bit.
Mutants with Knives and Claws
Following a couple of original X-Force miniseries by creator Rob Liefeld, the X-line braintrust found a compelling story reason for reintroducing the team name to the world. After House of M depowered all but 200 of the world’s mutants, and a series of attacks by mutant hating foes The Purifiers killed a gaggle of the remaining students, the X-world went nuts when the first mutant in years was born in Alaska. Cyclops, teetering on the edge of becoming a full fledged revolutionary, pulled together a team to find and secure the baby, and eventually bring her to him. This team consisted of Caliban (clawed ex-Morlock with tracking powers), Warpath (giant inaugural X-Force member who carried two big knives), Wolfsbane (lycanthropic, clawed ex-New Mutant), Hepzibah (designated Sexy Cat Lady of the Starjammers, who had claws), Wolverine (you know this guy), and X-23 (Wolverine clone with knife claws in her knuckles and feet).
Eventually, the baby was sent into the future with Cable, but Cyclops found having his own hit squad to be fairly useful, especially with the mass-murdering Purifiers still in the world, so he kept them around as his black ops team. The team eventually gained several members, including Elixir, Domino, Archangel and Vanisher, while others left or were dropped, like Wolfsbane or Hepzibah. Craig Kyle and Chris Yost wrote this as a sort of follow up to their prior X-work - they previously helmed New X-Men: Academy X where they were the writers responsible for a teenage bloodbath, killing somewhere in the vicinity of 50 students of Xavier’s school in their tenure. The Purifiers were responsible for most of those deaths, so naturally they spend a good chunk of this run getting ripped to shreds.
Clayton Crain digitally painted the majority of these issues, and his dark colors matched the book’s tone well. Eventually during Second Coming, the existence of Cyclops’ personal hit squad was revealed, forcing him to disband and disavow X-Force.
They got better, though.
There is a superhero comics criticism theory that says that cape stories cycle every 20 years or so - that Marvel tries to recreate Peter Parker for every generation of readers, or that Grant Morrison was just riffing on Chris Claremont’s five big stories. Rick Remender and Jerome Opena took over the X-Force team in 2010, and, following this theory, started mining Apocalypse’s lore for everything he was worth. The major difference between Uncanny X-Force and its ‘90s ancestors is this book is one of the greatest X-Men comics of all time.
Remender’s Uncanny X-Force follows on the heels of Yost/Kyle’s, and takes a somewhat different team off to a dark corner of the X-Men universe. It opens with Wolverine, Psylocke, Deadpool, Archangel, and Fantomex as they discover that Apocalypse, the evil, immortalish mutant responsible for some of the greatest horrors in mutant history, was being reincarnated by the cult dedicated to his worship. When they arrive, they discover that Apocalypse is actually a preteen being groomed to develop into En Sabah Nur, and what follows is the superhero equivalent of a “Should we kill baby Hitler” argument. Fantomex tires of the argument, and shoots the kid in the head. The rest of the series has the team deal with the fallout of this decision: musings on fate and destiny; the slow descent of one of their own into Apocalypse’s heir; a deep, DEEP continuity dive on Apocalypse’s history in all its multiversal forms; the weaponization of the Superman myth to save the world; and two of the most heartbreaking death scenes in any comic ever.
This series more than any other was the logical goal of the X-Force line of mutant storytelling. It was a deconstruction of the “proactive paramilitary group” trope, weaved together with bits of X-Men lore and some cool Deathlok stuff. If you haven’t read it yet, this is HIGHLY recommended.
The critical acclaim that Remender’s Uncanny X-Force brought led to Marvel trying to cash in on its popularity. They followed it up with two books: a second volume of Uncanny X-Force, where Psylocke, Bishop, Storm, Puck (from Alpha Flight) and ⅔ of Fantomex, where the thrust of the story was about Psylocke trying to accept or move past her self-identification as a killer after the events of the previous series. The other book was Cable & X-Force, where Cable led a team with Dr. Nemesis, Colossus, Domino, Hope, Boom Boom and Forge.
This team operated in a more similar way to the traditional X-Force mission statement: Cable’s powers had gone awry, giving him glimpses into the near future. He used this team to try and prevent the visions from coming to pass. Neither of these books were terribly substantive (though Cable & X-Force did introduce a relationship between Colossus and Domino that turned out to be a lot of fun), and both were cancelled after a year and a half or so.
X-Force proper had one last gasp before its current status. Simon Spurrier and Rock-He Kim reimagined the team as the intelligence service for a newly sovereign mutant race. He took Cable, Psylocke, Marrow, Fantomex, and Dr. Nemesis, and matched them with new member MeMe (a sentient computer program), and had them battle underground threats to the mutant race, like a Russian businessman repowering former mutants and turning them into weapons, or Strikeforce Morituri. Really.
This version of X-Force was interesting, but not exactly a sales darling. It was cancelled in 2015 after 15 issues, and the X-Force moniker has not been used to headline a book since.
In recent years, as the X-Men line has edged closer to creative and financial insolvency, Marvel decided to take the concept of a proactive group of mutants doing morally questionable things and made that the point of the entire line of comics. Following the detonation of a Terrigen bomb, the X-Men found themselves in a world that hated and feared them that was also poisonous to them. The majority of the X-Men retreated to Limbo, while a small group (Magneto, Psylocke, M, Mystique, Fantomex and a reformed/inverted don’t ask Sabretooth) did “whatever it took” to protect mutants on Earth. Because this was the main theme of the entire X-Line, this team was published under the name Uncanny X-Men, and recently wrapped following the big IvX crossover where the X-Men fought the Inhumans and their oldest, deadliest foe: a cloud.
It’s not good, and it was scrapped when the most recent relaunch, ResurrXion, kicked off.
With New Mutants and Deadpool 2 wrapped, Fox signed Drew Goddard (of Daredevil and The Martian fame) to take over development of X-Force as the next property in their slate of X-movies, and judging by early news, his take will fall right in the middle of the spirit implied by the name. Goddard said the new team will be a mutant black ops group led by Deadpool and Cable, and from the look of the promo art, the rest of the team will be made up of X-Force stalwarts like Cannonball, Domino, Boom Boom and Warpath. It sounds like, if you’re a long-time fan of X-Force teams, it’s okay to be cautiously optimistic about the movie version.
Find out how you can get your hands on Batman in Noir Alley, which teams the Caped Crusader with TCM's premiere film noir historian.
Not enough people still watch classic cinema. Be it Hollywood’s Golden Age or the groundbreaking advancements among the Italian Neorealists and the French New Wave, the best of “old movies” also stand as landmarks to cultures past… they’re also damn entertaining. Hence why it is heartening to see luminaries of our day, even if they be fictional ones, seeming to agree. Indeed, Batman himself is teaming with Turner Classic Movies host Eddie Muller in a new comic book and virtual reality experience from DC Comics and TCM. You read that right: Batman also watches TCM!
DC made the announcement Wednesday that they have partnered with TCM again for Batman in Noir Alley, a one-off comic book story that will coincide with the release of a 360-Degree Series for VR headsets and PC by TCM. The comic will follow the rain-trodden beat of Batman as he teams with TCM’s “Noir Alley” host Muller after “the Moroccan Raptor” goes missing at the Gotham City Museum. Vanished into the night, it will be up to the Caped Crusader and a film aficionado to save the day and figure out what is going on. If we had a hunch, look out for “the Fat Man” and Peter Lorre, who had a sweet tooth for the similarly named Maltese Falcon in the past… also beware of Mary Astor. Period.
The comic book, which will be released for free, is written by Stuart Moore and has cover art by Dan Panosian. Beginning today, it will be released in comic book stores nationwide and will be available for free at DC’s comic booth in October.
Meanwhile, Turner Classic Movies will also begin in October its new virtual experience series, “Noir Alley: 360°.” The series will have its own unique tale involving kidnapping and murder, and perhaps a bit of big sleep disappearances to boot. It will allow fans to immerse themselves into the world of classic post-World War II film noir cynicism and downbeat glory. It will be available on all VR devices and for PC.
This two-volume set contains over 800 pages of iconic images.
Dark Horse Comics and Konami are teaming up to publish a massive collection of Metal Gear Solid concept art.
The Art of Metal Gear Solid I-IV will consist of two volumes of art from Yoji Shinkawa; the art director behind the production of Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2, Metal Gear Solid 3, Metal Gear Solid 4, and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. This collection will reportedly contain conceptual and completed sketches of Metal Gear Solid's characters, vehicles, weapons, and more.
Dark Horse also notes that this is the first time that this production material will be translated into English. However, the original Japanese handwriting included on the artwork will remain intact.
All told, The Art of Metal Gear Solid I-IV will consist of 800 pages of artwork split across two volumes of books that includes work from Peace Walker. It will retail for $79.99 and is expected to go on sale starting on May 8, 2018. You can currently pre-order it through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or participating comic shops. For those interested, you can purchase the previously released The Art of Metal Gear Solid V collection from many of those same retailers.
Given how iconic Shinkawa's art has become - it has almost taken on a life of its own outside of the MGS games - a full collection of MGS-related artwork is a tempting proposition in its own right regardless of whether or not you are a huge fan of the series. If you are a huge fan of that series, then 800 pages of artwork, as well as some rarely seen production notes, sounds like a no-brainer purchase.
In related news Square Enix has recently announced that they've brought in Shinkawa to work on Left Behind. As for Metal Gear Solid, Konami is putting the finishing touches on the controversial Metal Gear Survive.
Meanwhile, Hideo Kojima continues to recite deep and confounding philosophical viewpoints when asked: "So what genre does Death Stranding belong in?"
Read and download the full Den of Geek Special Edition magazine here!
The chilling adventures of Sabrina are coming to CW in 2018 as a companion series to Riverdale.
File this under amazing news: Sabrina the Teenage Witch is getting her own series on The CW from the people who brought you the fantastic Riverdale, which is basically the world of Archie via Twin Peaks and Gossip Girl. The series is fittingly called The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, which is also the name of the best horror comic currently being published by Archie Horror. It is amazing, and if this show is anything like that spooky, dark book, this show is on the right track.
Anyway, objectivity and all that.
Based on Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack's horror comic, the series will tell the story of Sabrina's occult origins. The dark coming-of-age story deals with horror, the occult, and witchcraft, and sees Sabrina struggle to reconcile her dual nature of being half-witch and half-mortal while protecting her family and the world from the forces of evil. No word on whether we'll see the comic's villain, Madam Satan, in the show, but we wouldn't bet against it.
Casting and additional news on the new series will be revealed in the months to come.
Aguirre-Sacasa, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater, and Warner Bros. TV are producting. Aguirre-Sacasa, who also wrote the Riverdale pilot, will work on the pilot script for Sabrina. Riverdale alumnus Lee Toland Krieger will direct.
The series is set for the 2018-19 season. It remains to be seen if perhaps we'll see Sabrina a bit earlier than that. It wouldn't be uncharacteristic for Sabrina to first show up on Riverdale for an episode or two. After all, that's how The CW spun The Flash out of Arrow. We'll certainly keep our eyes and ears peeled for a potential Halloween surprise!
The Walking Dead Season 8’s touted “All Out War” storyline will be resolved by the season’s end, confirms the showrunner.
Warning: Potential SPOILERS for The Walking Dead Season 8 (and 9).
It’s well established at this point that The Walking Dead Season 8 will be a bloodbath of epic proportions after the tension-teeming (often-frustrating,) Season 7 set the stage for a colossal conflagration between survivors, branded in Robert Kirkman’s comic book source material as “All Out War.” Yet, fans of the series have been bitten by the cliffhanger bug more than once; something that may mitigate their excitement. However, showrunner Scott Gimple confirms that Season 8 will see a definitive resolution.
The Walking Dead showrunner Scott Gimple, a figure who found himself under fire for the controversial cliffhanger tease that gapped Season 6 to Season 7, has good news on the “All Out War” front for fans who are still irate. Speaking to EW, the showrunner states unequivocally:
“The war will absolutely be resolved by the end of season 8. Absolutely.”
This welcome bit of candor regarding The Walking Dead Season 8 arc should be well received by even the most jaded of fans who may have assumed that the All Out War between the multi-community coalition led by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and apocalyptic plunderers the Saviors, led by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) would become a prolonged, multi-season affair (cynically designed to extend the life of the AMC series).
It’s not an unfounded fear, since the series did just that in Season 3, a methodically-paced run that was seemingly building to a killer crescendo with a factional war between Rick’s group – living in an abandoned prison – and that of the tyrannical sociopathic suburban community leader the Governor (David Morrissey). Indeed, the culminating Season 3 skirmish proved to be only a minor kerfuffle, with the series saving the larger-scaled final conflict between communities for a (nevertheless epic,) midway moment in Season 4; one that saw the sagely, beloved, Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson) memorably martyred.
Oddly enough, despite the potentially riveting Season 8 prospects, Gimple’s confirmation shifts our speculative focus to Season 9. That’s because July’s Comic-Con-unveiled Season 8 trailer dropped a potent hint about the long-term future of the series, with a shot of an older, white-bearded, Rick waking up in bed, with a revelatory shot of a walking cane by his bedside; a clear callout to The Walking Dead comic book series, which, after “All Out War” concluded, engaged in a time-jump two years ahead to a period in which Rick (whose leg was permanently damaged by Negan in the climactic battle), is a central figure of a thriving alliance of communities (including the Saviors).
However, all that hippie-dippy good-time Kumbayah fun comes crashing down quickly when the mistaken crossing of unmarked borders makes the communities the focus of a new threat in a macabre, primal and ultra-territorial group of survivors called the Whisperers. Led by a mysterious woman called Alpha, the stealthy, soft-spoken Whisperers wear masks cut from the faces of the dead, which – similar to Rick’s old trick of covering himself in zombie viscera – allows them to move about unmolested by the herds of undead. Moreover, they’ve also learned to control the random rotting roamers, essentially making them an undead army at their disposal.
As casualties (which include an array of key TV characters,) start to pile up in the increasingly escalating conflict that comes to be known as "The Whisperer War," Rick and company become overwhelmed and vexed by the savagery of this new group. However, irony peaks its head, since a still-alive Negan – imprisoned at Alexandria – attempts to turn over a new leaf and prove his newfound benevolence to his former victims by helping Rick deal with the new threat – albeit help in an unmistakably Negan way.
Consequently, Gimple’s confirmation that “All Out War” will conclude in Season 8 could also be surmised as confirmation that Season 9 will see the Whisperer War adapted. Considering that there are already loads of theories about how the Whisperers will fit into the show continuity (even positing that we’ve already met their key players), this is clearly auspicious news.
The Walking Dead Season 8 gets ready for a (confirmed to be conclusive) All Out War when it debuts on AMC on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
Read and download the full Den of Geek Special Edition magazine here!
Professor Marston & the Wonder Women, a biopic about Wonder Woman's creators, stars Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall and Bella Heathcote.
Coming off a dominant $819 million global box office run, Wonder Woman has wrapped her Golden Lasso of Truth around pop culture in a big way.
However, soon set to ride the Wonder Woman movie momentum is Annapurna Pictures'Professor Marston & the Wonder Women, a biopic telling the fascinating tale of the trio who created the character back in 1941.
Professor Marston & the Wonder Women Trailer
Another Professor Marston & the Wonder Women clip has arrived. This one depicts Luke Evans's William Marston in front of a panel of temperance-teeming 1940s-era folks, explaining the Amazonian story origin of his would-be comic book icon, Wonder Woman, in a way that declares the feminist ideals that inspired the character. He notably includes a contemporary-topical reference, possibly to the last election cycle, in which he also declares his hope that the character – whose origin and agency is independent from men – can inspire women to create their own destiny, even prospectively become President of the United States.
While Professor Marston & the Wonder Women has already released trailers showcasing the romantic intrigue in its depiction of Wonder Woman creators William Marston, his wife Elizabeth and Olive Byrne, a new clip puts into context the inconceivable nature of the character's genesis.
Indeed, 1940s sensibilities may have been the obvious impediment to Wonder Woman's rise, but the trio's discussion addresses the ironic idea that the would-be fictional feminist icon bears an origin story – starting with one man landing on an island full of buxom Amazon women in dominatrix outfits – that sounds like something straight out of a male fantasy. It’s enough for an initially incredulous Elizabeth to declare, "Nobody will ever publish this."
The full Professor Marston & the Wonder Women trailer has arrived. While this past June's teaser clip (which appropriately debuted with Wonder Woman,) only hinted the intrigue that this biopic centering on the superheroine's creators, the full trailer spells it out rather clear...
Starting with the formation of the polyamorous relationship between Dr. William Marston, his wife Elizabeth and his student Olive Byrne (clearly the muse for the character's look), we start to see how the character of Wonder Woman is an extension of their gender-norm-redefining reality, manifesting as heroic comic book exploits that came across to laypeople as "violence, torture and sadomasochism."
The film seems to parallel the double-life of Wonder Woman herself with that of Dr. Marston, who initially published the comic under the pseudonym "Charles Moulton."
Professor Marston & the Wonder Women's first teaser trailer debuted with the June 2 release of Wonder Woman. While short on substance, some dialogue can be heard, hinting at the historical (gender-norm-centric) societal implications that the trio of Dr. William Marston, his wife Elizabeth and his student Olive Byrne will face upon their 1941 collaborative creation of the most important female superhero of all time in Wonder Woman. This aspect is compounded by the fact that William, Elizabeth and Olive secretly maintain a polyamorous relationship.
Additionally, the teaser sends you to the URL professorm.movie, which, for now, is a bare-bones viral promotion site for the film, showcasing an intriguing comic-book-style portrait of the cast and clickable word bubbles that play lines from the film.
Professor Marston & the Wonder Women Release Date
Professor Marston & the Wonder Women arrives on October 13, 2017.
Professor Marston & the Wonder Women Poster
Here's everything else we know about Professor Marston & the Wonder Women...
Professor Marston & the Wonder Women Cast
Professor Marston & the Wonder Women, centers on the life of Dr. William Moulton Marston, a Harvard psychologist, lawyer and inventor who also went on the create one of the world’s most famous and venerable comic book superheroes in Wonder Woman (under the nom de plume Charles Moulton). The film's primary trio consists of Luke Evans as Marston, Rebecca Hall as his wife and professional peer Elizabeth and Bella Heathcote as Marston’s former student Olive Byrne, who attains a unique connection to the couple.
Indeed, the focus of Professor Marston on the creative process in which Wonder Woman was conceived will manifest through William’s relationship with wife Elizabeth and Olive, with whom the couple engages in a polyamorous relationship; one that would ultimately prove enduring. Moreover, William drew inspiration from Elizabeth and Olive during the process of creating Wonder Woman, imbuing the character with confident and autonomous attributes that would be considered feminist at a time (the early 1940’s) before such a concept was even widespread.
However, the crux of the film seems to be the societal predicament that William’s comic creation placed upon the threesome. While publicly having to defend Wonder Woman from contemporaneously alarmist accusations of sinister gender-identity influences that would lead girls on a path to sexual confusion, the Marstons and Olive had to maintain a tight balance to keep their polyamorous relationship a secret, lest it be made public and validate the homophobic seeds that were already sowing from the mere concept of a female comic book superhero.
Connie Britton, Maggie Castle, Christopher Paul Richards, Allie Gallerani, Chris Conroy and JJ Feild also co-star in the film.
Professor Marston & the Wonder Women Crew
The intriguing Wonder-Woman-related film project will be the directorial and written brainchild of Angela Robinson. Her body of work includes films such as the 2004 action comedy D.E.B.S., 2005 Lindsay Lohan-starring Disney reboot vehicle Herbie Fully Loaded, a television run with The L Word and individual episodes of Charlie’s Angels (2011 reboot) and True Blood.
Batman's scariest villain, the Scarecrow is returning to Gotham Season 4.
Heart clenching crippling fear is returning to Gotham City. Fans dared to watch the preview for the coming season of Gotham were shocked and delighted at the promised return of the Scarecrow. We got to see a hint of the curse of Jonathan Crane in the show's first season, but we'll get more of him in Gotham Season 4.
Will Gotham survive the terror that always heralds Scarecrow’s arrival? Only time will tell, but if one examines the history of the Scarecrow, one will find that wherever this classic villain goes, terror and mayhem are always left in his wake. So with that in mind, be brave my fellow Gothamites, and come with me as we take a deep dive into the history of Jonathan Crane, the spine tingling Scarecrow!
So who is the Scarecrow? First off, as we’ll see over and over again in this article, Scarecrow is one of the most visually stunning characters in the DCU. He strikes a wonderfully weird figure with his spindly limbs and expressionless burlap visage. As for his abilities, Scarecrow is the master of fear. Starting in the Silver Age, Scarecrow began using a series of weaponized fear toxins to test the will of Batman and Gotham City. Scarecrow’s greatest weapon is his ability to spread terror, so basically, he’s like the modern day media covered in twine and burlap.
Scarecrow first appeared way back in 1941 in the pages of World’s Finest #3, making him one of the oldest Batman villains. Other than a few notables like Joker, Catwoman, and Hugo Strange, not many of those early Bat foes returned for a second appearance. But from these earliest days, it was clear that there was something terrifying and special about the Scarecrow.
Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane (and by that we mean the Scarecrow was created by Bill Finger while Bob Kane washed his ascots or something), Scarecrow was a villain ahead of his time. In the pages of World’s Finest #3, fans met a lanky college professor named Jonathan Crane. The anti-social Crane was obsessed with two things: the classic literary works of Washington Irving, particularly “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and the study of fear. Crane was fascinated by fear and tested its effects on his hapless students. After being sacked for firing a gun in his classroom, Crane donned a Scarecrow suit, turned to a life of crime, and began terrorizing the society that rejected him (as one does).
In his earliest appearances, Scarecrow simply used his cunning and some guns. Scarecrow only made one more Golden Age appearance in Detective Comics #73 (1943) where Crane began a series of crimes inspired by children’s nursery rhymes. The story was a neat little bit of business, but holy crap, look how beautiful that freaking cover is!
Look at that image featuring an oversized emaciated Scarecrow taking on the Caped Crusaders. That is truly one of the most stunning covers of the Golden Age and might have had something to do with the fact that DC Comics would turn to Scarecrow once again during the Silver Age.
Scarecrow would remain dormant during the rest of the Golden Age, but would return in Batman #189 (1967) by Gardner Fox and Sheldon Moldoff. This reappearance of the Scarecrow was also marked by the first usage of Scarecrow’s fear toxin, a weaponized fear inducing chemical that became the horrific character’s calling card. And of course, since we’re talking Scarecrow, Batman #189 also sports an absolutely killer cover.
From 1967 forward, Scarecrow became a constant part of Batman’s rogues gallery. In Justice League of America #111 (1974) writer Len Wein (RIP Len, we already miss you) and artist Dick Dillin took Scarecrow from a standout Batman villain into a bad guy that could terrify the entire DC Universe. In this issue, Scarecrow joins other DC stalwart evildoers like Poison Ivy, Chronos, Mirror Master, and Shadow Thief as part of the Injustice Gang of the World.
Characters like Joker may get all the press, but Scarecrow has been an ever present and creepy presence in Batman’s world. For some great Scarecrow action, check out such iconic series as Batman: The Long Halloween, Batman: Hush, and Catwoman: When in Rome. And for you Vertigo heads, Crane makes an absolutely unforgettable appearance in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman #5 (1989) an issue dedicated to the concept of stark and unrelenting fear (ugh with the diner and the killing and the oh gosh!).
But the terror of Jonathan Crane cannot just be contained in print...
The Scarecrow’s first non-comic book appearance was in the 1968 The Batman/Superman Hour episode "The Great Scarecrow Scare." In this classic ‘toon, Scarecrow is voiced by Ted Knight which is all sorts of awesome (“Okay Pookie, christen the boat before I drive you insane”). Knight’s Scarecrow would use knockout gas kept in explosive eggs to try and defeat Batman and Robin because I guess a hallucinatory drug was just to risqué for 1968 Saturday morning TV.
Meanwhile, At The Hall of Doom
Scarecrow was front and center in 1978’s Challenge of the Super Friends as a member of Lex Luthor’s Legion of Doom. For those of you under 35 years old, you have no idea how dopey but vital and influential this cartoon was to us comic book fans of a certain age. As a member of the Legion of Doom, Scarecrow would try and come up with ways to destroy those accursed Super Friends. I guess fear gas was still not flying with the censors at the times, so the LoD Scarecrow controlled flocks of birds to bedevil the Super Friends. You’d think Hawkman would be an automatic counter to that noise. Despite the seemingly harmless power, Scarecrow still popped off the TV screen as the Super Friends artists rendered him with an eerie look that greatly contrasted the saccharine animated fair of the era.
Things did take a turn for the horrific though in 1986’s Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians episode entitled “The Fear.” In this surprisingly deep episode, Scarecrow uses his fear transmitters (still no gas kids...gas didn’t fly in 1986 I guess...what if someone went to the dentist?) to force Batman to relive his worst fears. Batman, voiced by Adam West, had to relive the death of his parents thanks to Scarecrow’s machinations. So let’s unpack that. On Saturday morning, in 1986, there was an episode of Super Friends that addressed the death of the Waynes. This is some really heady stuff for the era because remember, Batman often shares screen time with a purple Space Monkey. Also, to hear Adam West wax poetic about Bruce Wayne’s fallen parents was just brilliant. Other than a throwaway line in the first episode, the death of Thomas and Martha was not often addressed on the classic Batman ’66 TV series, so Scarecrow’s terror inducing hallucinations were just a perfect denouement for West’s time as Batman.
Batman: The Animated Series
When the legendary Batman: The Animated Series hit the air, fans were surprised and delighted that the masterminds behind the series not only presented some of Batman’s greatest foes in their proper comic book incarnations, the same creators also improved on many of the rogues. However, Scarecrow was one of the very few villains who was scaled back a bit from his comic book incarnation. I guess a walking, talking embodiment of terror was a bit too hardcore for kids’ animation, but The Animated Series did present a proper origin for Scarecrow for the first time, in the episode "Nothing to Fear" (1992), which ties directly into the comic book origin established so long ago in World’s Finest.
The only problem was, the B:TAS Scarecrow was not all that scary. He had his fear gas and proper origin, but this Scarecrow looked more Scooby Doo villain than Dark Knight rogue, but that changed in later episodes when he looked like a twisted version of a Western preacher. His face was a burlap horror and he wore a noose around his neck. This new Scarecrow was the stuff of nightmares and was even more darkly twisted than the Scarecrow of the comics. The noose wearing Scarecrow’s most infamous hour came in the episode entitled “Over the Edge” (1998) where a fighting mad James Gordon is out to murder Batman after the death of Batgirl. It's a frenetic episode and daring even by today’s TV standards. Needless to say, the whole thing was a fear gas induced nightmare, but imagine a little kid tuning in to view this episode and seeing Batgirl murdered and Gordon out to kill Batman. This episode fully embodies the potential of Scarecrow.
Just to put a bow on the history of Scarecrow in animation, the character also appeared in The Brave and the Bold. In the Master of Fear’s only appearance in an episode entitled “Trials of the Demon" (2009), Crane teams up with the villainess the Scream Queen to take on Batman and Flash in a very Halloween-y battle.
The early history of Scarecrow in film is fraught with cancelled projects and almost appearances. As far as a live action Scarecrow goes, the 1966 Batman TV series went sans Jonathan Crane (however, a Scarecrow did appear in the great Batman ‘66 comic book series published a few years back by DC, where his name was Jitters Holler because awesome) so fans would have to wait until the 21st century to witness a real life Crane.
That doesn’t mean DC never tried to bring Scarecrow to life. Scarecrow was apparently going to appear in the aborted fifth installment of the Batman films that began with 1989’s Batman, and the role was connected to such Hollywood luminaries as Nicolas Cage, Steve Buscemi, Jeff Goldblum, and even Howard Stern. While my brain just won’t accept Cage as Scarecrow, how awesome would Buscemi be as Jonathan Crane? All this was not to be of course as Batman and Robin (1997) was...ummm...a thing that actually happened. Seriously, if I was ever dosed with Crane’s fear gas, I would just probably relive the first time I saw Batman and Robin.
Thank you Mister Nolan!
Of course, Jonathan Crane would finally arrive on the silver screen in Batman Begins (2006). Played by Cillian Murphy, the first film Scarecrow was a subtle and eerie character and the first costumed baddie Christian Bale’s Batman ever faced. As the head of Arkham, this Crane would do the mob’s bidding and use the Arkham inmates as lab rats with his fear gas. Of course, Crane was a pawn of Ra’s Al Ghul, but Murphy’s Scarecrow stole every scene he was in. So much so that director Christopher Nolan used Scarecrow in minor but memorable roles in both sequels to Batman Begins.
A very disturbing Scarecrow also appears in the Arkham series of video games. This Scarecrow is good, old fashioned nightmare fuel as he sports a gauntlet edges with a series of drug filled hypodermics on Crane’s spindly fingers. Yikes.
Scarecrow recently appeared in Injustice 2 as a member of Gorilla Grodd's Secret Society. Not only is he voiced by horror legend Robert Englund, but he has multiple pre-fight interactions with every single character in the game. That means Englund's Scarecrow talking smack against the likes of Bane, Black Adam, and Darkseid. He also has an inspired gimmick to his appearance where he's depicted as just a man in a lab coat and burlap sack, no different than Cillian Murphy's live-action depiction, but his ghoulish look during the actual fights is merely how his opponents perceive him through the fear gas. His ending, which features him conquering Brainiac and stealing his space ship, along with the billions of stolen civilizations within, is genuinely unnerving.
And all this brings us back to Gotham. In the season one episodes "The Fearsome Dr. Crane" and "The Scarecrow," Gerald Crane and his son Jonathan (played by Charlie Tahan) are introduced. You see, the completely insane Gerald develops the iconic fear toxin and injects it into young Jonathan. The toxin forces the younger Crane to experience his greatest terror: Scarecrows. A bit on the nose, yes, but effective nonetheless. And that brings us to season four, where TV’s Jonathan Crane will don the straw filled suit and burlap mask of the Scarecrow for the first time. And if history has shown us anything since 1941, it’s that where any version of DC’s Scarecrow goes, be it comics, cartoons, film, or video games, unforgettable horror follows.
Superman will face off against Doctor Manhattan in the new DC event, Doomsday Clock. Check out a trailer for the new series!
One year on from the launch of DC's Rebirth initiative, which has fairly successfully cleaned up the detritus of the ill-advised New 52 relaunch of 2011, DC is getting ready to answer the big questions posed from the start. There was a ton of Watchmen imagery in that initial Rebirth special, and more sprinkled through the background of assorted ongoing DC Comics titles since then, with the implication being that Watchmen's Dr. Manhattan was the mysterious force responsible for the damaged, cynical tone of the New 52.
Which brings us to Doomsday Clock, the natural culmination of all of this. DC Entertainment CCO Geoff Johns has been absent from comics since last year's Rebirth special, but he's returning, along with artist Gary Frank, to answer some questions with Doomsday Clock this November. Johns and Frank are responsible for some of my favorite DC work of the last decade or so, having worked wonders on Superman with stories focusing on Brainiac and the Legion of Super-Heroes, so if anyone is going to take on a seemingly impossible task, I feel a little better knowing it's them.
Check out a trailer for the new limited series:
“It's time. Last year, the DC Universe confronted the legacy of Watchmen in Rebirth the way Watchmen confronted the legacy of superhero comics three decades ago,” explains writer Geoff Johns in a statement when the project was first announced back in May. “Thematically, and metaphorically, there was no better choice than to use Dr. Manhattan. If you’re going to have a conflict between optimism and pessimism, a battle between the very forces of hope and despair, you need to have someone who personifies the cynicism that has leaked into our hearts and also has the ability to affect the entire DCU.”
“Doomsday Clock is a story for fans who love the DC Universe and Watchmen and want to see what a master of this genre creates when he puts them together,” says Gary Frank. “As for my artistic approach to the series, each panel is extremely detailed and I am constantly thinking through the position of every single element.”
DC also revealed Frank's covers for Doomsday Clock #1. Check 'em out...
The first is Frank's extraordinarily Gibbons-esque Watchmen-themed cover.
Then there's the Superman variant, which is a fine reminder that Gary Frank is probably the best Superman artist of the 21st Century, and nobody makes Supes' new costume look better.
And finally there's this lenticular/Rorschach variant...
— Geoff Johns (@geoffjohns) August 30, 2017
DC has gone back to the Watchmenwell within recent memory with their Before Watchmen titles, none of which were particularly inspiring. Still, Johns is careful to point out that this isn't a Watchmen sequel. "It is something else," Mr. Johns said in an interview with Syfy Wire back in May. "It is Watchmen colliding with the DC Universe. It is the most personal and most epic, utterly mind-bending project I have ever worked on in my career."
Perhaps even more encouraging, this isn't going to be a typical superhero comic crossover event, and instead, Doomsday Clock will be entirely self contained. "We had no interest in doing a crossover with this," Johns told Syfy Wire. "There will be DC characters throughout this, but this focuses in on only a handful. There is a lot of focus on Superman, and Doctor Manhattan. Doctor Manhattan is a huge focus, and his reasons for being here, and doing what he does, ultimately have to do with Superman. And there are many, many more characters to be involved, but it is a bit early to discuss."
The focus on Superman is intriguing. Superman was a character who felt particularly directionless for much of the New 52 era (although that has recently been fixed), and of course Dr. Manhattan is the only super-powered being in the Watchmen universe. Johns and Frank will be exploring how these two characters affect each other. Superman, of course, is the epitome of the hope and optimism of the DC Universe while Dr. Manhattan is...not that.
Even the title, Doomsday Clock, has significance for both Superman and the broader Watchmen theme. The "doomsday clock" was a visual and thematic point throughout Watchmen, and, of course, the presence of the word "Doomsday" in that title should have significance for Superman fans, as that's the name of the monster who killed the Man of Steel.
As someone who has been rather against the prospect of bringing Watchmen concepts into the DC Universe (so much so that I wrote an entire article, which turned out to be very wrong, explaining how those Watchmen references in Rebirth weren't meant to be taken literally), I have to confess that "The Button" which ran through the pages of Batman and The Flash and dealt directly with some of the fallout from both Flashpoint and the Rebirth special, was an excellent read. I've even warmed to elements of Flashpoint I previously had little time for. If Doomsday Clock is as careful with this tricky concept as DC has been with all of this so far, it might just work.
We'll find out when Doomsday Clock is released on November 22nd.
Read and download the full Den of Geek Special Edition magazine here!
Universal will team with Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment to adapt comic book series Kill the Minotaur as a film.
While The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment only just debuted the Greek mythology-inspired comic book title Kill the Minotaur this past June, Hollywood is already knocking on that door. The comic company will soon team with Universal Pictures for a film adaptation, one that already sounds like it has epic ambitions attached.
Plans are underway for Skybound/Image Comics title Kill the Minotaur to come to life as a feature film, reports THR. The story adapts the ancient Greek myth of Athenian hero Theseus and his fateful encounter with the Minotaur – a savage creature with the head of a bull and body of a man – in the center of the labyrinth in which it lives. The events take place after Athens lost its war with Crete, leaving people under the tyrannical and sadistic whims of King Minos (from whom the creature’s name is derived), who had the labyrinth constructed as a demented delivery device of sacrificial citizens to the creature.
Kill the Minotaur comic creators Christian Cantamessa and Chris Pasetto will be retained to write the screenplay. While Cantamessa mostly resided in the world of video games, notably with work on titles such as Red Dead Redemption, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Manhunt, he did write and co-direct the (Skybound-produced) 2015 sci-fi film Air, which, by no coincidence, was headlined by The Walking Dead TV series star Norman Reedus. Passetto partnered with Cantamessa on that film, a well as the 2009 short How I Survived the Zombie Apocalypse. As the duo express in a statement:
“When we created the comic we wanted to put our own spin on a classic Greek myth, incorporating strong relatable characters and spectacular scenes so it would read like a blockbuster movie. It’s a dream come true that we can now make this story come alive on the big screen.”
The project, which utilizes Skybound’s first-look deal with Universal, will see the comic company’s primary partners Robert Kirkman and David Alpert, along with co-presidents of TV and film Bryan Furst and Sean Furst, onboard as producers.
A film adaptation of Kill the Minotaur sounds loaded with intriguing possibilities, potentially reigniting the comic-book-adapted Greek myth movie excitement that was generated back in 2006 with director Zack Snyder's 300, which adapted – with gritty comic-book-y panache, crimson-covered ultraviolence and shiny abs – Frank Miller’s famous graphic novel dramatizing the Battle of Thermopylae.
We’ll be sure to update you on any significant developments.
Read and download the full Den of Geek Special Edition magazine here!
The trailer for the live-action/animated Peter Rabbit reboot film depicts a house party that’s literally wild.
Peter Rabbit, the 2018-scheduled live-action/animated hybrid reboot movie of the long-esteemed children’s book series by author Beatrix Potter, has corralled an impressive mixed-media cast with James Corden, Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Rose Byrne, Daisy Ridley and Elizabeth Debicki.
Here's everything you need to know about this Peter Rabbit mixed-media movie revival!
Peter Rabbit Trailer
The Peter Rabbit trailer has arrived and it is probably best described as raucous.
We meet the reboot film’s new version of Peter, voiced by late-night talk show host James Corden, seemingly portraying a loquacious, immensely extroverted manifestation of the classic children’s book character with extremely magnified personality attributes.
While the old stories typically depicted Peter’s stealthy exploits to steal the crops of Mr. McGregor, this Peter takes purloining produce to a level far beyond that simple concept, invading the farmer's home to host a party filled with fellow animals while he's away. However, upon the inevitable return of McGregor (played in live-action form by Domhnall Gleeson), things get insanely awkward, seemingly setting the tone for the picture.
Peter Rabbit Release Date
Peter Rabbit will emerge from its proverbial hole of post-production for a release on February 9, 2018.
Peter Rabbit Poster
Here’s a promo poster for Peter Rabbit, which touts its previous (subsequently expedited,) animal-apropos Easter release window.
Peter Rabbit Cast
James Corden, late-night talk show host and karaoke carpooler, will voice the title role of Peter.
Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Revenant, Ex Machina) will play perpetual crop-theft victim Mr. McGregor. Much of the Peter Rabbit mythos centers on the rabbit's adventures in Mr. McGregor’s garden, typically resulting in a fast-paced pursuit through the patch. However, since McGregor is conventionally depicted as an old man, the 34-year-old Gleeson will put a more youthful spin on the classic farmer foil.
Rose Byrne (X-Men: Apocalypse, Neighbors, Damages) will play Bea.
Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad, Focus), Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Murder on the Orient Express) and Elizabeth Debicki (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) also provide their voices for roles.
Peter Rabbit Crew
Peter Rabbit will be directed by Will Gluck, helmer of the 2014 Annie remake (which also co-starred Rose Byrne), along with 2011 rom-com Friends with Benefits, 2010 Emma Stone-starring comedy twist on Nathaniel Hawthorne Easy A and 2009 male cheerleader comedy Fired Up!. Gluck works off a screenplay by Rob Leiber (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day), which the director himself revised.
Read and download the full Den of Geek Special Edition magazine here!
Annalee Newitz's Autonomous is an ambitious science fiction debut filled with pirates, robots, and questions of identity.
io9 co-founder Annalee Newitz's debut science fiction novel,Autonomous, imagines our world as it might be in the year 2144. This is a world divided not into nation-states, but economic zones. This is a world where pharmaceutical companies have immense power, and anything — or anyone— can be owned.
"Now we know there has been no one, great disaster—only the slow-motion disaster of capitalism converting every living thing and idea into property," one Autonomous character writes in a "Freeculture" essay. This is a world, like our own, where the value of property often trumps the value of people — even when people are the property.
The reader enters and explores this near-future world through two main characters: Jack Chen is a pharmaceutical pirate, a former academic who reverse-engineers patented drugs and distributes them where they are most needed. When she releases a new worker drug, Zacuity, onto the black market before its corporate launch by Zaxy, it starts killing people. Jack races to develop a drug therapy for Zacuity and expose Zaxy's corporate criminality before the highly-addictive productivity drug can claim more lives.
Jack's mission is complicated by Autonomous' second protagonist: Paladin, a military-grade robot owned by the International Property Coalition (IPC). While Paladin may have a mature human brain amongst his parts, he/she/they is new to existence. Paladin is programmed to fulfill his mission, hunting down and executing Jack and other patent-violating pirates without trial or mercy, but he is also slowly learning who he is.
Paladin is paired with a human agent, Eliasz. As the two spy, fight, interrogate, and kill in their mission to find Jack, Paladin becomes increasingly intrigued by their friendship and growing attraction to one another. Are these feelings real or are they part of his programming? Is Eliasz attracted to Paladin or is he attracted to some anthropomorphized version of Paladin? Will the answers to those questions make a difference?
Jack's decisions may be the ones that largely drive the story, the actions that everyone else is affected by and reacting to, but it is in Paladin's story where this book sings. Paladin is violent and cutthroat, a result of his programming, yet he is innocent and curious, too — about the world, himself, and Eliasz. Paladin is forever asking the question "What, if anything, does your body mean when it comes to your identity?" For me, Paladin's exploration of this question is the most fascinating part of Autonomous.
Of course, Jack and Paladin's storylines are made stronger by their parallel. This is partly because Autonomous is a novel that actively eschews assigning "Good Guy" and "Bad Guy" designations to its players. Powerful, shadowy institutional forces like Zaxy and the IPC are reprehensible, but they exist only at the periphery of the narrative. In the main action of this story, there are no clear cut bad guys. Only the things we are or feel forced to do because of the world we live in.
"She wasn't sure which motivation made better fuel for innovation: naïve but ethical beliefs or the need to survive," Jack muses at one point in the narrative. By removing a rigid moral framework from the narrative and by putting these many characters' motives and decisions into context, Newitz leaves more space to think critically about the larger forces in society: institutions, corporations, the "free" market and the boundaries they all tend to impose on people, places, and freedom.
Autonomous takes a while to hit its stride. I dog-eared my first page on 111. But, once I started dog-earing, I couldn't stop. This book takes you from the icy waters of the Arctic to the the free labs of Saskatoon to the hacker-frequented teahouses of Casablanca, but it's most fascinating descriptions happen in the most intimate of spaces: In the Livejournal-esque ramblings of Memeland. In the whispers and caresses of a bed. And in the confused, vital, free functions of our own programming — i.e. our identity.
Some of the best scenes in this book include no human characters, instead imagining what conversations between two intelligent bots might look like. What do they talk about when humans aren't actively listening? As is the case with conversations between humans, the answer to this question varies from bot to bot, and from situation to situation.
Newitz casts a wide, diverse net when it comes to depicting relationships in this world. There are relationships between bots and bots, bots and humans, and humans and humans. No two are the same, and all shine with explorations of identity, autonomy, and how the two intersect.
For a writer chiefly known for non-fiction writing, Newitz is as good at crafting these compelling character dynamics as she is at building the science and technology of this world. Perhaps because she understands that the two are intertwined. When talking about science fiction, there can sometimes be a lazy dichotomy formed around the idea that a book can either be hard science fiction or it can be interested in softer, interpersonal ideas.
Hard or soft. Exterior or interior. Masculine or feminine. Like its robot protagonist, Autonomous works best when these perceived dichotomies collapse and work together to become something more complicated, messy, and honest.
Autonomous is a fairly brutal book at points, but it's never hopeless. It explores the limits of idealism and good intentions, but it also gives us Jack, a character who has chosen a difficult, dangerous life of Robin Hood-esque subversion over a relatively easy life of above-board academia.
This may be a world, like our own, where the value of property often trumps the value of people — even when people are the property. But, like our own world, there are people in Autonomous who fight for a better, more honest reality, within the larger world and within themselves.
It's like 7 brides for 7 brothers, but crazier and more popular.
To celebrate Harley Quinn's 25th anniversary this Batman Day, Bruce Timm released a thank you video to fans highlighting 25 Harley Quinns from the past 25 years.
Quinn was created in 1992 by Timm and Paul Dini for Batman: The Animated Series. Voiced by Arleen Sorkin, her first appearance was in "Joker's Favor," one of the best short Joker stories ever told. She was an instant sensation. Two years later, Dini and Timm won an Eisner and a Harvey for her origin story, Mad Love. She hung around the animated continuity for years, eventually appearing as the grandmother to two Joker gang twins in Batman Beyond and making an appearance in almost every Batman animated adventure that followed.
Harley's transition to the comics happened in 1999's "No Man's Land" series, where Gotham was isolated from the rest of the USA by a massive earthquake and left to fend for itself. It ended with Lex Luthor funding most of the rebuilding in an extensive land grab, while the Joker shot the Commissioner's wife in the head on Christmas. In hindsight, though, this seems like a relatively light and cheery time.
It wasn't until 2013 that Harley became the character we know and love today. Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti took over the book and immediately set about knocking down the fourth wall (fortunately not load bearing in Harley's world). They've run the book as a comedy since, and they have a new story leading off this year's Batman Day special issue. And DC has put out a collection of Harley stories through the years, where Connor and Palmiotti are well represented.
Let's see how many of the Harley Quinns you can recognize from the video. I got 13, with a vague memory of another 6. Take a look!
Here are the essential Batman comics you need to read to celebrate this year's Batman Day!
It's Batman Day, which means that it's time to celebrate one of the greatest comic book characters of all-time. Spanning decades of storytelling, the Dark Knight has been a mainstay of superhero books, giving us some of the greatest adventures in comic book history. Many of those stories are in the guide below. You'll undoubtedly want to branch out from this list once you're done with Batman's essential tales, though.
These are also some of the best comics for people who were just introduced to the DC Extended Universe and were inspired to pick up a book. Some of them you may recognize because they're incredibly influential, and have been quoted or adapted or referenced a thousand times over in other media.
Some are good opportunities to explore other corners of Batman's universe. And some are collections of the best stories told by the best creators to ever pick up the cape and cowl.
The Dark Knight Returns
Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley’s 1986 tale of old man Bruce coming back to the cape and cowl is probably the most translated Batman story in his entire 75+ year canon (except for one shot of the next one on this list). It has everything you could want from a Batman comic: in costume, Bats is a giant hulking mass of muscle and fury; he obviously fights Superman; he has his final showdown with the Joker; and he fights off a gang of shirtless teenagers and their beastly leader. This isn’t really the first Batman story to have any of these things, or have any of them together, but paired with Miller and Janson and Varley’s art, it all mixed together to become something essential and electric.
It’s come under some critical reexamination of late, due in part to outrageous statements from Miller, and in part because it is the comic book equivalent of Purple Haze’s “Excuse me, while I kiss this guy” – it’s a Batman story that hundreds of writers have tried to sing along with in the 30 years since it was published, and that nearly all of them have gotten wrong.
DKR isn’t even Miller’s foundational take on Batman. Rather it’s a searing tirade on the ‘80s and all its components, from every direction. It is, however, a tremendous Batman story on the strength of Miller, Janson & Varley’s art alone: Batman is an enormous brute, a block of muscle who still manages flashes of grace. The world he inhabits is dark and grungy and grimy and shitty.
But there’s a subtlety in his body language that later period Miller tends to lose. It’s probably not a coincidence that they are usually paired with the flashes of kindness and compassion from his Batman that are so essential to the character: hugging Two Face after he tries to save him, or the contented old man Bruce is when he’s building his new cave. DKR may have come into some more criticism of late, but it is certainly and justifiably one of the best Batman stories of all time.
There is a 30th anniversary collection just released by DC that is really excellent at reproducing the originals, along with providing some background material on the source and on how Miller created it (including uninked, uncolored line art that’s INCREDIBLE) that is absolutely worth a buy.
Batman: Year One
Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli must have written it into their contracts with DC that every adaptation of Batman moving forward was required to have Bruce kneeling between his parents, bleeding and arranged like yin and yang, bleeding out next to him. That has appeared so many times – in movies, in cartoons, in video games – that I can’t even count them.
I was going to say “overuse aside,” but that’s not really something you can set aside with Year One, because it’s so good that it deserves to be cited in every Batman adaptation. The story is as much about the origin of Gotham and Batman’s associates as it is about Bruce Wayne becoming Batman. Gordon, Sarah Essen, Alfred and Catwoman get some really good screen time, and David Mazzuchelli looks like classic Bill Finger art with modern polish.
A word of warning! There are many editions of Year One. The rules they follow are similar to what to do with a toilet if your power goes out: if the cover’s red, go ahead. If the cover’s yellow, leave it mellow. Seriously, there was a recoloring error in reprints that had a yellow cover, and they came out terrible. The editions with the red cover (or the red slipcase around a gray hardcover) are the best option. Or you can get a digital version. I DON’T CARE.
JLA: Tower of Babel
Be thankful I’m not telling you to buy all of Morrison’s JLA. That’s next week.
Mark Waid and Howard Porter had the unenviable task of following up Grant Morrison’s enormous, universe-encompassing epic four-year story that ended with Superman punching a suicide planet and Earth becoming the fifth world, and rather than try and top that, they immediately set to work with making Batman the greatest villain in Justice League history.
Seriously, it worked pretty well. This is paranoid schemer Batman at his finest: Bats has detailed plans on how to incapacitate the entire Justice League in the event that any of them go rogue (including himself, in what’s a pretty incredible piece of self-destructiveness). Waid and Porter get into Batman’s head while maintaining the bright, shiny superheroic tone both are really good at, and the result was a lot of fun.
This has been loosely adapted as Justice League: Doom in case you wanted some tonal Cliff’s Notes, but it’s worth reading. And don’t sweat it if you can’t find the version of the book that’s just “Tower of Babel.” If you have to get JLA: Volume 4 (which contains Morrison’s final story, “World War 3”), don’t sweat it. You really should buy all of that run, too. *runs*
Batman: The Killing Joke
Probably the definitive story about Batman’s relationship with the Joker, it also has probably the defining single image of Batman’s nemesis. Brian Bolland’s almost photoreal art has been used to incredible effect on books like Judge Dredd or as the cover artist on a thousand other comics.
But it’s that one picture of high-cheekbones Joker smiling with the camera that is the Joker in my brain, was likely a huge influence on Jack Nicholson’s design in 1989 Batman, and were it not for Mark Hamill and Heath Ledger both being staggeringly good, would likely still hold that title.
Oh yeah, and The Killing Joke was written by Alan Moore.
There isn’t really a way to talk about the story without a giant flashing neon warning sign: Barbara Gordon, Batgirl at the time (and again post-Flashpoint), gets shot through the spine and then sexually assaulted by the Joker. We can debate the definition of exactly what was done to her for days, but that’s what it boils down to.
There is still value in the book as a historical artifact: it defined the Joker-Batman dynamic for decades after, and was at least partially responsible for Batman-as-broken-monomaniac-sociopath, and it has some likely canon backstory to the Joker in it, but…look, this one’s rough to come back to. Worthwhile, but tough to read.
Batman: A Death in the Family
You know that scene in the Batman v Superman trailer where you see Robin’s costume with the Joker’s writing spraypainted all over it? This is likely what that’s referencing (even though that’s CLEARLY Tim Drake’s costume and Tim was way too good a Robin to let something like this ::gets dragged screaming away from the keyboard::).
Okay! Back and cool again. Once upon a time, Jason Todd was Robin, a replacement created by DC to let Dick Grayson go be his own (awesome) character but still have that audience ID character going on adventures with Bruce. Problem is, Jason was a little bit of a shit, and the fans kind of hated him.
So in A Death In The Family, which ran as a story in the pages of then-monthly Batman, DC ran a call-in contest: fans could call one 900 number to vote to keep Jason alive and a different one to kill him. Three guesses as to what they picked.
Jim Starlin (the guy who created Thanos) and Jim Aparo (we’ll get to him) did the actual killing, but the linked collection also throws in some later issues of Batman along with some Marv Wolfman/George Perez Teen Titans because it’s been proven in a lab you can never have enough of that.
It’s kind of hilarious to me how well this has aged: people citing the excesses of ‘90s comics usually touch on “the story where Batman had his back broken” to cite how over the top things were in general, but nobody piles on the story the way they do an X-Men book or :shudders: “The Clone Saga,” because you know what?
Knightfall is pretty damn good.
It’s likely more relevant to the last Batman movie (Dark Knight Rises) than to this one, but I still feel confident that you’ll see passing references to it in the background of the Batcave somewhere. It introduces Bane, who breaks everyone out of Arkham. Bruce recaptures everyone, but he’s exhausted by the attempt, and when he returns to the cave, Bane is waiting for him (having figured out his secret identity) and beats the hell out of him, snapping his back.
Bruce passes the mantle to Jean Paul Valley, formerly Azrael (who was trained by an ancient religious order to be Batman, but Punisherier) who, to be fair, ‘90s the hell out of the costume. But Bruce…uhh…gets better and decides to take the costume back.
It works because it’s got a ton of good creators (Chuck Dixon, Jo Duffy, Aparo again, Graham Nolan, Norm Breyfogle, Doug Moench) doing good work telling a sprawling but uncomplicated Batman story. Very worth reading.
If you somehow found a way to beam 8-year-old Jim to the present, gave him like, a half-gallon of espresso, and said “you’re gonna write a Batman story and Jim Lee will draw it,” Hush is the story you’d get. It has very nearly everyone who’s ever been in a Batman story (Catwoman, Nightwing, Clayface, Poison Ivy, Superman, Joker, Huntress, Killer Croc, Riddler, Talia, Ra’s, Jason Todd, even HAROLD THE MECHANIC). And it has some really neat experimental watercolors from Lee that he’s never really duplicated again (though his stint on Batman: Europa came close and was awesome).
Unfortunately, it reads like it was written by an 8-year-old with attention problems, but I fully recognize that I am in the minority on this. GO READ AND ENJOY, FOLKS!
Batman: Gates of Gotham
Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins tell a story that becomes a hallmark of Snyder’s later run on Batman (we’ll get there too): Gotham City and its sinister history.
Gates of Gotham is as much about how Gotham became the abandoned amusement parks and dilapidated chemical factories we see today. It’s got the family histories of the Cobblepots and the Waynes intertwined with some deep architectural nerdery around the bridges in the city, but does a tremendous job of fleshing out Gotham as a character in its own right, and a good Gotham is key to a good Batman story.
If after trying Gates of Gotham and find yourself enjoying the story about the city, you should absolutely try No Man’s Land, five volumes of Batman fighting to maintain order in a Gotham City cut off from the rest of America by an earthquake and terrible politics. Or Dark Knight, Dark City, probably the best Riddler story ever told and one that plays heavily on the secret history of the city.
Batman & Son
Grant Morrison’s first arc on Batman is also his most accessible: a good way to try it out and see if you might want to hang around. It introduces Damian Wayne, Bruce’s son from a torrid night of desert passion with Talia al Ghul and a less torrid 36 months of comic book superscience.
It has some of the best art of Andy Kubert’s career – the fight against the Man-Bats in a fake Roy Lichtenstein art gallery is just incredible – and it kicks off one of the most twisting, intricate, incisive story arcs about Batman ever.
If you like this, keep going with it: especially for The Return of Bruce Wayne. That’s the lynchpin of Morrison’s story, and it reorganizes and retells Batman’s history in a way that makes explicit what his real power is: friendship. I’m kidding, but I’m also not kidding: it’s incredible.
Batman: The Black Mirror
There is some legitimate debate as to whether or not this is the best Dick Grayson-as-Batman story of all time, and considering this ran simultaneously to Grant Morrison's Batman and Robin, that should tell you something. It is inarguably the best detective story in Batman in the last 20 years. The story twists and turns through Grayson's past at the circus, a drug ring in Gotham, and the return of James Gordon, Jr, the Commissioner's psychopath son. Any more details would take some fo the enjoyment away from reading.
The art is nothing short of magnificent. Jock (who would later go on to work with Snyder on the outstanding horror book Wytches) handles the Batman-centric chapters, while Francesco Francavilla (who is hugely responsible for the greatness that is Afterlife with Archie) took the chapters that focused on the Gordons. This book is an absolute masterpiece.
Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have done something special on New 52 Batman. Not only have the stories they’ve told together been almost universally excellent, but they are probably the most consistent creative team in comics in the last 15 years: every year you get 11 issues of dynamic art from Capullo, a Batman who’s an incredible combination of the lithe, ninja gymnast of Jim Aparo and the brute force of nature from Frank Miller; 12 issues of big, high concept detective Batman mixed in with dense worldbuilding from Snyder; and an annual or a zero issue or a villain POV gimmick that Snyder uses to lay groundwork for future stories while also bringing someone else into the Bat-universe.
Actually, now that I think about it, maybe this should be the first introduction to Batman comics for new readers: it is a distillation of everything I love about Batman, executed incredibly well.
The Court of Owls was their first story together, about a mysterious, mythical secret society that runs Gotham and is not pleased with Batman for upsetting the social order. It’s got an assload of guest stars, a great secret conspiracy, and fun art. It’s kind of like Hush, only well-written.
If you like this, you should keep going with Snyder and Capullo's New 52 Batman, and you should definitely check out Dark Nights: Metal. As of publication, it's still being published, but it is BANANAS. It ties together threads from all of Snyder's run and mixes them with a healthy dose of Morrison's mythology. He then runs it past Capullo, who tells Snyder "I love it, but bro, make it CRAZIER." So Snyder adds in a new Hawkman origin, baby Darkseid, and literally the flipped over map of the multiverse from Multiversity to make one of the most batshit comics I've ever read.
Batman & Robin Vol. 5: The Big Burn
Don’t be fooled by the name: Robin is nowhere to be found. Misnomer aside, though, this is probably the strongest arc of what was quietly one of the best runs on Batman ever.
Pete Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Mick Gray were given the unenviable task of following Grant Morrison on a series full of typical Morrisonian pitfalls. This is a task, following Morrison, that nearly everyone fails at, and actually led to some of the most atrocious X-Men comics of all time. But Tomasi, Gleason, and Gray nailed it, finding a voice for Damian Wayne that worked, understanding that he was basically imperious little Bruce, and then playing him off of a suddenly-uncertain Batman, thrust into the role of having to actually be a parent instead of the ward/general role he’d been for decades.
Then, when Damian was killed in another book, they had to find something to do while the rest of the Batman line dealt with the fallout. So they paired him with Two-Face, one of Batman’s best villains and one who had been relatively quiet since the New 52 relaunch, and gave the two of them a case that dipped into their shared history. The story that came out of it ended up being my favorite Two-Face story of all time, one that was full of emotion and had the moment that most shocked me in comics in a long, long time. PS. The Long Halloween is steaming garbage and you’ll never convince me otherwise.
If you like this, keep going with Tomasi and Gleason’s Batman & Robin. It’s a really entertaining Batman comic.
Tom King, in his own methodical and deliberate way, is in the midst of a great run on Batman that he started with the Rebirth relaunches. With art partners Mikel Janin, David Finch and Mitch Gerads, he's scraping at what it truly means to be Batman and digging waaaaaaaaaaaay deep into the mythology to tell a moving, personal story that also involves the Psycho Pirate, Batman creating his own Suicide Squad, and a gang war between the Joker and the Riddler that kills thousands.
The big arcs - "I am Batman,""I am Suicide,""I am Bane," and "The War of Jokes and Riddles" - are huge and fantastic. They're also interspersed with little moments and side issues that are wonderful (and, in the case of the Ace the Bathound story from an annual, Eisner-winning). The two issues where he investigates a murder with Swamp Thing are particularly good. And if you read through this whole series and don't go from "Kite Man! Hell yeah!" to "Holy crap, Kite Man," I will give you one crisp dollar.*
*Monopoly money that I scanned and emailed to you.
Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth
Not the video game, surprisingly enough, though they’re mostly excellent (Arkham Origins is broken dumpster scum, but otherwise :gives ok hand gesture:). Arkham Asylum is a cerebral, tense history of the institution itself, told through a Dante’s Inferno-esque (also not the game) descent through Batman’s rogues gallery.
Morrison wrote this and teamed with Dave McKean, who later found greater fame doing covers for Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. McKean used many of the same tricks (collage, paint, having a nervous breakdown localized in his drawing hand) he did on those covers to make this one of the most interesting and interpretive Batman comics of all time.
The Black Casebook
Originally released as a companion to Morrison’s Batman R.I.P., The Black Casebook reprints a bunch of the zany, weird ‘50s Batman comics that Morrison leaned heavily on to craft his tale. So you get “Robin Dies At Dawn,” where Batman willingly enters into an isolation experiment and hallucinates that Robin died; or “Batman – The Superman of Planet X,” introducing the Batman of the planet Zurr-en-Arrh.
It’s wild, but it’s got some great stuff from Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff, one a co-creator of Batman who got screwed royally by Bob Kane, and the other the guy who co-created Batgirl.
Gotham Central actually makes me a little mad. Not because it’s not good (it is), but because this is the perfect PERFECT comic to translate into a TV show, and instead we get Gotham, a poorly lit Batman ’66.
Gotham Central is Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, and Michael Lark doing a police procedural in a world where Batman exists on the edges of police work. If it was translated fairly faithfully, it would probably be the best procedural that’s ever been put on TV.
Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga
You’re not going to see anything in this that reminds you of Batman v Superman. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read this. Or maybe it does?
Jiro Kuwata was handed the reins of a licensed Batman manga in 1967 at the height of the show’s popularity. He made nearly 1000 pages of the comic, and then they faded into obscurity for 20 years until the mid ‘90s, when Chip Kidd, a graphic designer and huge Batman fan, discovered its existence on a tip from his friend David Mazzuchelli (of Batman: Year One fame). So he found them, wrote them up, and convinced DC to reprint them digitally in 2014, and now we get to read Kuwata’s pure ‘60s sci-fi Batman adventures.
If Gotham Central proves the versatility of the Batman mythos, Batmanga does the same for Batman’s iconography.
Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams: Volume 3
Normally, I’d just tell you to buy all three (or the giant omnibus that just came out), but this is meant to be an introduction, so presumably you don’t have $100 to spend and you want one of the best Batman stories ever. You get that with “The Joker’s Five Way Revenge.”
Adams and Denny O’Neil were in reality the ones who brought Batman back from the campiness of the ‘60s TV show, and they brought the Joker back from the same campiness with this story, where he kills people with exploding cigars, garrotes, and tries to get one guy with a shark.
Also in this volume: the introduction of Ra's and Talia al Ghul.
Tales of the Batman by Len Wein
Wein is probably more known for co-creating Wolverine and Swamp Thing, but he also created Lucius Fox, who we see featured prominently here. Wein’s Batman isn’t earth-moving; it’s just good, straightforward Batman stories, using just about everyone in Batman’s rogues gallery (Crazy Quilt!) paired with some incredible artists – Adams, Walt Simonson, Aparo, Irv Novick.
Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo
Neal Adams is probably the artist most responsible for Batman’s look from about ’75 to ’85, but for me, my own personal forever Batman will be Jim Aparo’s. If you ever had any of those old Kenner action figures, the ones with the cloth cape, you’ve seen Aparo’s Batman.
If Miller’s Batman looks like he’s going to leave a crater if he dropped to the ground, Aparo’s looks like he’s going to float down, then kick the hell out of your face before you even realize he’s there. Not slight, but like, 6’8”, lean and incredibly graceful. Reading it just makes me feel happy.
Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers
If you’ve watched The Animated Series, you are probably passingly familiar with this: the episode where Joker tried to copyright fish infected with Joker toxin to make himself a millionaire has its roots in a story by Steve Engleheart and Rogers in what is universally regarded as one of the all-time great Joker stories ever told.
This collection gathers together much of Engleheart and Rogers’ run, and it’s a classic, featuring probably the best Bat-ladyfriend ever: Silver St. Cloud, who subsequent creative teams mostly left alone out of respect for the great work this team did.
Batman: Black & White
A mid-‘90s anthology, Batman: Black & White has a bunch of 8-page stories written and drawn by legends, each giving their own quick take on the character. The first volume has a great story from Neil Gaiman, as well as work from Walt Simonson (officially recognized as the site’s favorite artist of all time—don’t you dare edit this, Mike), Howard Chaykin, Matt Wagner, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Katsuhiro Otomo. If that name is only ringing a faint bell, he’s the guy who created and drew Akira. So yeah, this is amazing.