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    Netflix is adapting Shirley Jackson's classic horror novel The Haunting of Hill House into a TV series.

    News Tony SokolJoseph Baxter
    Nov 3, 2017

    The mother of almost all ghost stories is coming to Netflix with a TV series adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s 1959 horror novel The Haunting of Hill House, which happens to be one of Stephen King’s favorite books. It was made into a classic piece of early 1960s cinema (and a 1990s remake), and will soon arrive at Netflix in a modernized form.

    The Haunting of Hill House will arrive on Netflix in a 10-episode form, written, produced, and directed by Mike Flanagan, who directed Oculus, Hush and will adapt King’s Gerald’s Game into a movie. Flanagan will produce with his producing partner Trevor Macy for Amblin TV and Paramount TV.

    The Haunting of Hill House News

    Annabeth Gish will join The Haunting of Hill House for a recurring role  reports Deadline. She is to play Mrs. Dudley, who lives on the titular estate with her husband, both working as caretakers. The character – played by Rosalie Crutchley in 1963’s The Haunting and by Marian Seldes in the 1999 remake – is clearly aware of the spirits that haunt Hill House, something that gives both she and her husband some oddball, almost-comical behavior. However, no details have been confirmed about Gish’s rendition.

    Gish, who recently finished a run on AMC series Halt and Catch Fire, will go into The Haunting of Hill House coming off the long-awaited return of her role as Monica Reyes on 2018’s second revival season of The X-Files. A veteran actress, she first made an impact as the main character of 1988 dramedy film Mystic Pizza, later fielding television runs on shows such as The West Wing, Brotherhood, Flashforward, CSI, The Bridge, Sons of Anarchy, Pretty Little Liars and Rizzoli & Isles. She’s also appeared in films such as Beautiful Girls, SLC Punk!, Double Jeopardy and co-starred in the universally-reviled Shaquille O’Neal-starring 1997 DC Comics adaptation, Steel.

    The Haunting of Hill House Cast

    The Haunting Of Hill House adds young actresses as Mckenna Grace and Violet McGraw.  Grace starred in Fox Searchlight’ Gifted with Chris Evans. She plays young Tonya Harding in the upcoming  I,Tonya biopic. McGraw acts in Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Ready Player One.

    Timothy Hutton joins The Haunting of Hill House as a lead actor, reports Deadline. While his character was not named, it is believed (but not confirmed,) that Hutton will portray the patriarch of the haunted house-owning Crane family, married to Carla Gugino’s matriarchal character.

    Hutton came into prominence early in his career, winning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1981 for his role in director Robert Redford’s drama Ordinary People. He’s appeared in films such as Taps, Iceman, Made in Heaven, French Kiss, Kinsey, Secret Window and The Good Shepherd. However, later generations know him better as a TV mainstay with notable runs on American Crime and a longtime run as the mastermind of the justice-delivering rogues of Leverage.

    Michiel Huisman has been tapped to star in Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House, reports THR. In a revelation that may shed light on the context of this reboot series, Huisman will play a character named Steven Crane, a published author of supernatural-related books and the oldest living sibling of the Crane family. The Netherlands-native is best known for his role on HBO’s Game of Thrones as Daario Naharis. Besides roles in his native country, Huisman was notably seen in recurring roles on Orphan Black, Nashville, Treme, and miniseries Harley and the Davidsons, as well as films such as 2015’s The Age of Adaline and 2017’s The Ottoman Lieutenant. He has quite a full docket of film roles, notably in director Gideon Raff’s historical spy thrillerRed Sea Diving Resort, which stars Chris Evans.

    Carla Gugino, who was featured in the films San Andreas, Sin City, American Gangster, Watchmen, Spy Kids and the TV series Wayward Pines, Entourage and Roadie, is the female lead. Gugino recently shot Flanagan’s upcoming feature adaptation of Stephen King’s sadomasochistic game play novel Gerald’s Game for Netflix.

    The Netflix series got spookier with the casting of Mckenna Grace. She is doing double the devilish duty as the kid in Amityville: The Awakening

    The producers are keeping most of the character information under wraps.

    The Haunting of Hill House Story

    The Haunting of Hill House has been made into two feature films that carry the shortened title "The Haunting." The first one, released in 1963, was written by Nelson Gidding and directed and produced by Robert Wise. It starred Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, and Riff from West Side Story, Russ Tamblyn. The 1999 remake from Speed director Jan de Bont and screenwriter David Self – widely considered a dud – starred Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson and Lili Taylor. The story was also parodied in 2001's Scary Movie 2 and adapted for the stage and performed at the Liverpool Playhouse in 2015.

    The book centers around Hill House investigators Dr. Montague, who is an occult scholar looking for something more tangible than book smarts; his assistant Theodora; a ghost whisperer named Eleanor, and the young, rich heir who will be stuck with the haunted real estate Luke. They think they’re looking for ghosts, but the house is looking for them.

    In Shirley Jackson’s original 1959 novel, as well as the 1963 and 1999 film adaptations – both billed as The Haunting– the legacy of the “Crain” family was connected to the titular haunted house. In the case of the 1999 film, the late Crain patriarch explicitly manifested as a ghost.

    Jackson's novel is more of a story of terror than of horror. It ties the events that make for a haunting of a house into the psyches of the people investigating it.

    Read and download the full Den of Geek SDCC Special Edition magazine here!

    Normally, paranormal investigators don’t quite have the diabolical fun and frights that find their way into film and TV shots.

    “Having done several Paranormal Investigations, I have yet to encounter anything like this,” Brenda Jablonsky, a paranormal investigator from Indiana who will host the upcoming podcast "Crimes Against Spirit," told Den of Geek.

    The normal routine for a supernatural sleuth is a lot of hurry up and waiting. That’s not necessarily true for people how live in haunted houses.

    "I thought I was buying my wife her dream home,” Philip Siracusa, the author of The Horsefly Chronicles: A Demonic Haunting, told Den of Geek. “I didn't know I was buying my family a nightmare."

    The allegedly haunted house in Pennsylvania is said to sit on an desecrated burial ground, and the spirits are still hungry.

    "These days when I cook I make one meal for my family, another one for my ancestors and a third one for the Indians," Julia Siracusa, who lived in the house so long she goes by the nickname “the real haunted housewife,” added.

    While the Horsefly house hasn’t gotten quite the reputation of the hauntings at the center of films like Poltergeist and The Conjuring, investigators still think twice before knocking three times.

    "My friend Juila [Siracusa] invited me to visit her real haunted house and I am such a chicken shit medium that I asked her to check and see if their family ghost/demon said it was okay,” admitted Marie Bargas, a celebrity psychic who was recently tapped to investigate the house.

    But what do the strange amateur sleuths think of the film?

    “A remake of this movie would be interesting to see a hard to stop watching kind waiting for the next shoe to drop,” said Brenda. “I found the original suspenseful and exciting ,with the technology of today I think it would be a great show to see. As a fan of horror movies it will be a block buster.”

    The Haunting of Hill House will be the first time Netflix has worked up a scripted series for Amblin TV. It is the series the rising channel has done for Paramount TV. They previously worked together to bring out 13 Reasons Why and the upcoming Maniac, which stars Emma Stone and Jonah Hill.

    The Haunting of Hill House is still in the early stages of development.

    SOURCE: VARIETY


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  • 11/03/17--13:39: Krypton Casts Brainiac
  • The Krypton TV series is a Superman prequel that will introduce Brainiac and more cosmic DC characters!

    News Mike Cecchini
    Nov 3, 2017

    Announced back in December of 2014, Syfy's Kryptonwill take the Gothamroute, and tell a pre-Superman story. So if Smallvilledidn't go far enough back for you, Krypton should do the trick. Syfy has ordered Krypton to series. The pilot will be directed by Colm McCarthy, and written by David S. Goyer (Man of Steel) and Ian Goldberg (Once Upon a Time). Sleepy Hollow's Damian Kindler is on board as series showrunner. 

    Krypton has now found its big villain! Blake Ritson (Da Vinci's Demons) has been cast as Brainiac, making him only the second actor to play the role in live action. Brainiac is one of Superman's greatest enemies, and is long overdue to get the kind of full-blown sci-fi treatment he deserves. Deadline describes this version of the character as "A parasitic, hyper-advanced alien android of immense intelligence."

    Paula Malcolmson is Charys, "The matriarch of the House of El" who "helps her son Seg navigate the treacherous pitfalls of Kandor City, their Kryptonian home embattled with oppression and revolt."

    We have more on the cast down below.

    Krypton Release Date

    You can expect Krypton to arrive on Syfy in early 2018.

    Krypton Trailer

    So far there's only a brief teaser...

    While the trailer that was leaked a few months ago was promptly taken down, I did a detailed analysis of it with screengrabs that you can read by clicking here. Despite the prominent mention of the name Kal-El, and the repeated use of the House of El crest (you know, Superman's "S") this trailer at least looks like Krypton is going to forge more of its own path than other notable TV prequels like Gotham or Smallville.

    What might be the most interesting development here is that it at least appears to take place in the same universe as the DC superhero movies, rather than the TV shows. The aesthetic on display here is heavily influenced by what we saw in Man of Steel, from the color scheme of Krypton itself, to the design of the House of El crest, to the overall texture of the costumes and sets.

    Krypton Story

    Here's the official synopsis

    Set two generations before the destruction of the legendary Man of Steel’s home planet, Krypton follows Superman’s grandfather (Cameron Cuffe, The Halcyon) — whose House of El was ostracized and shamed — as he fights to redeem his family’s honor and save his beloved world from chaos.

    Krypton Cast and Characters

    Camerone Cuffe (who recently appeared in Florence Foster Jenkins) will play Superman's grandfather, Seg-El. Varietyhas some character details:

    "Seg-El is the scion of the once prosperous El family and is blessed with an intuitive brilliance for all things technical. He is now living in Krypton’s lowest caste after his family was stripped of its rank."

    In addition to Mr. Cuffe as Seg-El, Georgina Campbell will play Lyta Zod, who is, as you expect, an ancestor of Superman villain General Zod. According to Deadline, Lyta Zod "is a member of Krypton’s military caste and the daughter of a general, Alura Zod. Lyta Zod serves as a cadet — and has also been having a clandestine, forbidden romance with Seg-El (Superman's paternal grandfather)."

    Ian McElhinney (Barristan Selmy on Game of Thrones) will play Seg-El's grandfather, Val-El. According to Deadline, Val is "a rogue genius who believes that space exploration is a basic form of self-defense, and he has tried, without success, to warn the Kryptonian elite about the arrival of an ancient threat." Could that be Brainiac? An earlier TV Line description said "Seg’s genius grandpa defied death by going into the Phantom Zone, and is a staunch believer in space exploration." 

    Elliot Cowan is Daron Vex, "the Chief Magistrate of Kandor. His real business is defending Krypton’s established oligarchy against heretics and dissidents." 

    Ann Ogbomo (World War Z) is Primus Alura Zod, "Lyta Zod’s mother and a leader of Krypton’s military guild. She is an extremely tough and demanding training officer." 

    Rasmus Hardiker (Your Highness) is Kem, "a brilliant engineer as well as Seg-El’s best friend and partner in an underground tech-repair business." 

    Wallis Day (The Royals) is Nyssa Vex, "a junior magistrate and the daughter of Daron Vex." 

    Aaron Pierre (Tennison) is Dev-Em, "a cadet under the command of Primus Alura Zod." Incidentally, Dev-Em is from the comics, and is one of the Phantom Zone criminals who periodically ends up on Earth to annoy Superman. Dev-Em was a background character in Man of Steel, for example.

    (thanks to Deadlinefor the casting descriptions above)

    "It's a show that, although it takes place centuries ago on Krypton about the House of El, it's about a conspiracy from the present that has traveled back in time to to Krypton to prevent Superman's legacy from ever happening," DC president Geoff Johns said at SDCC.

    "Adam Strange and Hawkwoman come to Krypton trying to stop the conspiracy and save Superman's legacy," Johns revealed. "Doomsday will be in the show. Brainiac is long overdue to be on screen like that."

    Shaun Sipos (Melrose PlaceVampire Diaries) will take on the series regular role of Adam Strange, playing the "world-weary human, who finds himself stranded on Krypton as the unlikely mentor to Seg-El, Superman’s grandfather."

    We'll get you more on Kryptonas we hear it.


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    Robert Kirkman discusses his upcoming sci-fi comic book Oblivion Song, moving away from the undead and into alternate dimensions.

    NewsJoseph Baxter
    Nov 3, 2017

    Comic book mastermind Robert Kirkman continues to ride the interminable undead horde that is The Walking Dead multimedia phenomenon and has no plans to stop anytime soon. However, his upcoming Image Comics project, Oblivion Song, represents a break from rotting roamers and “people are the real threat” tropes, manifesting as an intriguing allegorical sci-fi showcase.

    Kirkman has revealed some key details about Oblivion Song in an interview with Variety in the Tuscan town of Lucca, where he’s appearing at the Lucca Comics & Games Heroes convention. Initially announced back in October, Oblivion Song– on which Kirkman teams with artist Lorenzo De Felici – is set in Philadelphia, where a decade earlier, 300,000 people mysteriously vanished. It is later learned that they were sent to a hellish alternate dimension, called Oblivion. Consequently, as monsters from Oblivion cross over into Philly, scientist Nathan Cole uses his talent and technology to rescue the people.

    Kirkman elaborates on the story, depicting its deceptively topical nature, stating:

    “Nathan Cole invents a technology that allows him to bounce back and forth between dimensions. They form a strike team that goes into Oblivion and tries to rescue people, but over the course of the years they end up rescuing fewer and fewer people.”

    Consequently, Nathan’s continually diminishing success builds a very familiar complacency in people, leaving him to spearhead the operation by himself in every conceivable aspect. As Kirkman continues:

    “[T]here is a point where the government says, ‘Look, you are finding one person a year. This is not economically feasible.’ So they shut the program down. But Nathan is very driven. When the story picks up in the first issue he’s got no government funding, no assistance whatsoever. He’s using his own resources to keep the program alive. He’s going into Oblivion on his own trying to find people. And he starts to find more and more people, and there is more intrigue involved, and the story kind of runs from there.”

    Indeed, Kirkman confirms the analogous nature of Nathan’s rescue operation with that of the 9/11 terror attacks and the resulting societal effect that allows even the most astounding and unfathomable calamities somehow become a transformed status quo. As he explains:

    “The idea behind it is just kind of exploring how we as a people and a nation can get used to any kind of event – really, the complacency that that breeds. In the story there are people who remember a neighbor who one day was just gone…but it’s not something that’s really discussed. We explore how bad that is for the people that are involved and how traumatic it is for people to exist in a world where something that pretty much defined their lives going forward is largely ignored by other people.”

    Since Oblivion Song is a Robert Kirkman project, the inevitable question regarding its live-action adaptation prospects is clearly present. On that question, Kirkman unequivocally answers, “Not yet.” Though, it would be wise to emphasize the “yet, since he’s got AMC locked tight with The Walking Dead and spinoff series Fear the Walking Dead (with a crossover event planned between the two), as well as the Cinemax (US)/Fox International series Outcast, with more on the menu. He recently scored a deal with Amazon to develop TV projects and Universal is set to develop a movie adaptation of his Greek-myth-inspired comic book series Kill the Minotaur, which makes Oblivion Song's live-action chances quite feasible.

    Oblivion Song is set to hit the shelves of comic book stores on March 7, 2018.


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    The Walking Dead is in all out war. We take a spoiler-filled dive into the comics to see what might happen in season 8!

    Feature John Saavedra
    Nov 4, 2017

    This Walking Dead article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for the show and comics.

    The Walking Dead season 7 ended with a bang, as all of the different factions introduced this year converged for war. Rick, Ezekiel, and Maggie will lead Alexandria, the Kingdom, and the Hilltop, while Negan and Jadis round out this universe's version of the Axis Powers. The Saviors and the garbage people certainly have the numbers, but the heroes are determined to fight back and free themselves from the oppressive villains. I put my money on Sheriff Rick.

    While the first half of the season was a bit slow in terms of story progression, the second half covered quite a bit of story in eight episodes. In all, season 7 adapted three arcs: "Something to Fear,""What Comes After," and "March to War," with a few liberties taken here and there - such as the introduction of Jadis and the Heapsters and Sasha's fate.

    The first half of season 8 will probably take its time with the conflict between Rick's Militia and the Saviors, if for no other reason but the budget. Call me a bit cynical, but it's likely that season 8 won't deliver a big battle sequence until the midseason finale - usually the moment The Walking Dead tends to go very big (except in the case of season 7's midseason finale, of course.) The show has a tendency to drag out certain character arcs or events from the comics at a sometimes frustrating pace, and I don't see that really changing much when it comes to one of the comic's most action-packed arcs.

    Here's what might happen in The Walking Dead season 8 based on what we know from the comics:

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    All Out War

    The first half of season 8 (which is what I'm focusing on here - I'll do a separate guide for the second half) will most likely cover material from just one arc, "All Out War," from the comic book series by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard. If you want to pick up the complete arc in trades, that's Vol. 20 and 21 or issues #115-126.

    The "All Out War" arc really is what it says on the cover. It chronicles the war between the Militia (Alexandria, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom) and the Saviors, including several battles both at the Sanctuary and Alexandria. Again, these events will most likely be spread out - and one of the fights in the first part of the arc was sort of remixed for the season 7 finale, actually - so you can probably expect to see only one of these battles in 8A. 

    My guess would be that we'll see the Militia's first attack on the Sanctuary, where Negan is bunkered in after being surprised by the Hilltop and Kingdom's forces at Alexandria - much like in the season 7 finale. In the comics, Rick's plan is not to go head to head with the Saviors at the Sanctuary but to lure a large walker horde to the enemy base in order to cut off Negan's main force from the smaller Savior outposts. The Militia's plan is then to take the outposts, chipping away at the Saviors' numbers. 

    It's a plan that works for the most part except that a character named Holly dies after being captured by Negan. Much of Holly's final storyline plays out like Sasha's. Negan offers a zombified Holly back to the settlement as a peace offering. Holly, who has a bag over her head as she walks into Alexandria, bites Denise (yes, the doctor who died in season 6 of the show) and all hell breaks loose in the settlement, as the Saviors begin to lodge grenades over the settlement's walls. This actually inspired a bit of the battle in the season 7 finale, except zombie Sasha caught Negan by surprise when he opened the coffin. 

    Moving up this second confrontation to season 7 means that the writers are free to add a lot of build-up to the first battle at the Sanctuary. For example, I fully expect that we'll see a version of the attacks on the individual outposts BEFORE the bigger attack on the Savior base. 

    In those smaller confrontations - which would be a fun, action-packed way to open season 8 - Rick and Ezekiel split into two groups to take out two outposts. While Rick's team succeeds in taking out all of the Saviors at their outpost, Ezekiel's force is ambushed and many are killed, including Shiva, who sacrifices herself in order to save the King from a walker horde. The loss of his men and loyal pet seriously shakes up Ezekiel's confidence in his own leadership, which could be a major setback for his TV counterpart as well. It's likely that we'll see the Militia beaten back a bit in the early part of the season, especially since Negan has overwhelming numbers at his disposal, and the midseason finale will inevitably be when the tide turns in the good guys' favor.

    Allegiances

    There are still plenty of threads left over from season 7 that will undoubtedly fill in the blanks in season 8. Character-focused storylines will still make up the bulk of the season, even though it's adapting a largely action-oriented arc. This doesn't account for any original storylines the show might throw at us. Will we get our first glimpse of the Whisperers, for example? (That's probably not going to happen, considering how many factions already exist in this universe, but this fan-favorite zombie cult could eventually make its way to the show in the latter half of the season.)

    Gregory is perhaps season 7's most glaring cliffhanger. It's pretty clear to me that Gregory will not join the Militia's cause on the show, instead choosing to side with Negan in order to save his own life at the expense of his people. In the comics, Gregory makes a surprise appearance at the Sanctuary during the Militia's attack, and he declares that the Hilltop will side with the Saviors. While several Hilltoppers switch sides at Gregory's behest, Paul "Jesus" Monroe remains at Rick's side.

    Fortunately for the Militia, the Hilltop doesn't make up the bulk of their fighting force in the comics, something Gregory led Negan to believe when they struck a deal to work together against Rick et al. Negan literally kicks Gregory out of the Sanctuary during the battle, and the cowardly leader is forced to make his way back to the Hilltop where he's welcomed by Maggie's fists. Yes, it's safe to assume that Maggie will take full control of the Hilltop by the end of season 8.

    As for Gregory, it can be assumed that the cowardly villain will follow a similar trajectory to his comic book counterpart, especially since he was headed to meet with Simon in the penultimate episode of season 7. While we didn't catch up with him in the finale, I think we'll probably see what Gregory's up to at some point in 8A. I have a feeling that things won't fare well for him.

    The writers have taken a few liberties with Eugene's storyline in "All Out War," especially when it comes to the character's allegiance. While he's also captured by the Saviors in the comic book, Eugene shows a bit more resilience on the page, refusing to make ammo for Negan and eventually escaping the Sanctuary. The show has played this storyline a bit differently, making Eugene a fully pledged Negan follower by the end of season 7. While Eugene hasn't done anything truly questionable under Negan, it's clear that the coward has shifted his allegiance just enough to warrant Rosita trying to blow him up.

    Of course, it's not too late for the man with the iron mullet. He does show that he still cares about his friends when he helps Sasha commit suicide instead of letting her suffer under Negan's rule. Eugene could yet redeem himself by continuing to be a saboteur inside the Sanctuary. 

    In the comic, Eugene is helped in his escape from the Sanctuary by other Saviors, something that could potentially repeat itself on the show. My guess would be that Dwight will eventually help Eugene escape, although this particular storyline has a lot of potential to play out very differently. 

    Oceanside was one of season 7's bigger surprises, primarily because the settlement has never actually been explored in the comic. While it does exist and is mentioned several times in Kirkman's original work, the show has fleshed out this particular settlement far beyond the writer's original intent. 

    This settlement by the sea is unique in its own right, being made up of women and ruled by women. It's a very welcome counterpart to the Saviors' much more patriarchal society. Oceanside is also a great addition to the already impressive cast of female characters on the show. It'll be interesting to see if they actually join the fight in season 8. 

    The last time the show visited Oceanside, it was for a very tense meeting with Alexandria. Ambushed by Rick and his group, the women of Oceanside were rounded up and forced to give up their guns. Some members of the group, such as young Cyndie, felt that Alexandria's cause was just, though, and willingly gave up their weapons and even considered joining the fight. In time Oceanside may finally agree to join the Militia. After all, Oceanside has a very big bone to pick with Negan.

    Speaking of new settlements, Jadis and her garbage people are perhaps the standout new group of the series. Straight out of a Mad Max film, Jadis' group is something of an enigma. We've not spent too much time learning about their past - which honestly might be the reason why they work so well, although a flashback episode in season 8 would certainly be justified. 

    After the twist in the season 7 finale, the garbage people have been established as villains, and it remains to be seen how their relationship with the Saviors might evolve - or if the alliance is only temporary. I'd certainly like to see much more of this group and learn more about how they work and why they live in a junkyard.

    While Jadis actress Pollyanna McIntosh revealed on Talking Dead (via Bustle) that the group's name is the Scavengers, the garbage people don't really have any relation to the Scavengers from the comics. (The Wolves filled in for the comic book Scavengers in season 6 - this all gets a little confusing!) In fact, some fans have theorized that the garbage people might actually be the precursor to the Whisperers. As Jadis mentioned in her introduction, her people are good at adapting, which means that whatever happens in season 8 could turn Jadis' group into a full blown killer zombie cult. Again, it's a theory. 

    Dwight remains one of the most polarizing characters on the show, and now there's the question of where his allegiance truly lies. By the end of season 7, he's working as a double agent for the Militia. Although he must side with Negan in public, Dwight is secretly feeding Rick and his people information about the Saviors' plans. 

    We last see Dwight with Negan, Simon, and Eugene, as they prepare to go to war. Dwight and Simon remain Negan's most important lieutenants, and Dwight will have to figure out how to exploit that next season. There's also the possibility that Dwight is actually playing Rick et al at the behest of Negan, who loves to play mind games with his enemies. It could be that Dwight has faked his defection in order to get more info on the Militia's plans. As far as the comics go, Dwight does indeed turn against Negan and helps the heroes during the war. Negan has pushed Dwight to the limit and now he wants revenge. 

    One thing left hanging for Dwight is the whereabouts of Sherry. This could be something season 8 will explore further. Sherry is the reason Dwight decides to turn on Negan, so bringing her back might add a bit more tension between the two, especially if Dwight has to help her hide from the Saviors.

    Speaking of Negan...

    Negan

    While the villain is far from meeting his maker by the end of season 7, many fans are wondering what might await the character next season. Assuming all of "All Out War" plays out in season 8 - I have my doubts - there could be some major cold-blooded retribution awaiting the SOB. It's really a question of how close the writers want to stick to the comics in terms of the aftermath to the war. 

    In the comic, Negan is eventually defeated and taken prisoner, sentenced to life in an Alexandria jail cell. While this certainly works well in the book, it might be a little tricky when it comes to the show. Keeping Jeffrey Dean Morgan locked in a cell for whole seasons might not be the best use of the actor's time, unless he only makes guest appearances every few episodes. 

    It doesn't help that the reception to the live-action version of Negan has been a bit mixed. JDM is very charismatic and plays the character pretty close to the source material, yet there have been issues with how the villain translates to TV, seeming cartoonish at times - at points almost a parody of the comic book character. More than once, the villain was cited as one of season 7's biggest flaws. The show could perhaps rid itself of a bit of baggage by killing Negan. It would certainly take hardcore fans of the comic by surprise.

    So if you're wondering if the show will eventually kill off Negan, I'd say its very up in the air at this point, although given showrunner Scott M. Gimple's penchant for sticking pretty close to the source material, I'd say we may still have quite a bit of time left with Negan - perhaps well beyond season 8. 

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


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    Priest & Tom Grummett give us the showdown we never knew we wanted in these preview pages.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Nov 4, 2017

    After a several year hiatus, DC Comics got back into the holiday special game with last year's Rebirth issue. These issues are consistently great: there's very little in the world that's better than Superman delivering presents to kids, even when the rest of the world is a gradually warming trash fire.

    Meanwhile, Priest's Deathstroke is routinely one of the best comics on the stands. It's classic Priest - intricate, complex, usually funny, and almost always violent. 

    So what happens when you combine the two? You get Deathstroke and Santa Claus in a Mexican standoff.

    DC Comics sent along some preview pages from the 2017 Holiday Special, and we jumped at them because they are bonkers. The great Tom Grummett is on art, drawing a spy showdown in the snow as Deathstroke tries to steal Christmas. Here's what DC has to say about the story:

    Out of the kindness of his heart Joey Wilson donated one of his Christmas gifts to charity. Little did he know that his father Deathstroke hid a nuclear trigger in the gift for safekeeping. Now Deathstroke and his partner Wintergreen have to get the trigger back and get to Deathstroke’s Sister-in-Law’s house for Christmas dinner.

    It's good to know that the preview pages below are only a sampling of how ridiculous this story is going to be. Check them out.


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    During the Justice League press conference, Gal Gadot confirms to us Wonder Woman was an active superhero for the whole 20th century.

    News David Crow
    Nov 4, 2017

    If one has been paying attention to Justice League hype for the past few months, then it’s become clear from the trailers to the posters that Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, is taking center stage in the excitement. And this is for good reason, as Gadot’s warm interpretation of the Amazonian princess in Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman was a fiercely cathartic visage of bravery in a troubling year, and a warmer icon of feminine heroism than her chilly introduction in last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

    Whereas the earlier film suggested Wonder Woman had abandoned humanity to our own demons after the end of the First World War—with Diana even saying the words “A hundred years ago, I walked away from mankind, from a century of horrors”—Justice League showcases a Diana who tells Bruce Wayne that even if she isn’t a public figure, she was still there “if I was needed.” And during a Justice League press conference in London, Gadot reconciled the differences to Den of Geek, confirming to us that, despite her depiction in Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman is now intended to have always been active during the whole 20th century before meeting Batman… albeit she is mum on how this will affect the forthcoming Wonder Woman 2.

    “Well unfortunately there’s not much we can share with you about Wonder Woman 2,” Gadot says when asked about these differences in presentation and how it will influence the Wonder Woman sequel. “But what is clear is that whether or not Wonder Woman was out there or incognito, she was always involved and she was always very active in Man’s World, and she was always acting to save and to help, and to better the world.”

    She also added while answering another question that the reason she thinks Wonder Woman and the Justice League are so inspiring this is year is because:

    “In the real world, we don’t fight monsters, we don’t have alien attacks. It’s us creating the problem, and I think it would’ve been wonderful if us humans could get together and come together, and just be and do good to each other, and try to make to make the world a better place.”

    Justice League will aim to do that when it opens on Nov. 17. Wonder Woman 2 is meanwhile poised to utilize an active and heroic Wonder Woman from any point in the last hundred years when it opens on Dec. 13, 2019.


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    Ben Affleck & Deborah Snyder talk Justice League change from Zack Snyder to Joss Whedon, saying characters are bigger than directors.

    News David Crow
    Nov 4, 2017

    It is no secret that the production process behind Justice League has been a complicated one that’s left fans curious. The film is the culmination of a story Zack Snyder began with 2013’s Man of Steel and continued in the ambitious Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice last year. But due to a personal tragedy, Snyder was forced to step away from the post-production process of Justice League, leaving fellow superhero filmmaking stalwart, Joss Whedon, to both finish the film and to helm enough reshoots that it gained Whedon a co-writing credit on the screenplay.

    This dynamic was the elephant in the room during a Justice League press event in London that Den of Geek attended, and both Ben Affleck and producer Deborah Snyder addressed it head on.

    “The movie is Zack’s DNA,” Affleck said while noting that he himself as a director knows something about the creative process. “He cast the movie, he designed the movie. There’s something that people, I think, who don’t work on movies don’t actually understand, which is how much of the work is done in prep. You know the casting; the sets get built; the story is written; the ship is in essence sailing. I found as a director you can maybe change 10 percent, 15 percent or something on the day. So Zack’s ship set sail for us, and we were fortunate that, when Zack was not able to continue, we got really lucky that we got a guy who was very accomplished in his own right, and particularly in this genre. He kind of sprinkled on some of his fairy dust on our movie and finished it.”

    Affleck added that he doesn’t think it will do any good trying to decipher whose fingerprints are on each specific scene. “I don’t think there’s any way to go back, to me, and go, ‘Oh, that’s a Joss scene, that’s a Zack scene.’ It was more they were both working together toward a common goal.”

    Deborah Snyder, meanwhile, considered the process a wistful experience but thinks that the film is bigger than any one director. It is all in service of giving the fans the Justice League movie they always wanted.

    “I think for us this whole thing is so bittersweet, because we had been working on this franchise for the past almost eight years, when we started developing the script for Man of Steel,” Deborah recalled. “And then we moved on to BvS and also Zack developed this story for Wonder Woman, which was leading up literally to the point of Justice League where these characters were finally going to come together. This really was a great hero’s journey, and a journey for these characters to be the characters that they are today.

    “So not being able to complete his vision was extremely difficult… but we were lucky we had Joss already working on script pages. And our feeling is we’re hoping people aren’t thinking about how the movie was made when they go to see it, because these characters are bigger than any director. They’re bigger than any of us. And we love and adore these characters.”

    Fans can discover each character for themselves, as well as Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon’s collaborative contributions, when Justice League opens on Nov. 17.


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    During the Justice League press event, Jason Momoa talks how the film is only the first glimpse into Aquaman's epic journey.

    News David Crow
    Nov 4, 2017

    One of the flashier introductions to a new superhero onscreen has to be Aquaman in Justice League. For in this film, fans get a gnarly glimpse of Jason Momoa as a hard-drinking and hard-living bro who hits the waves and his enemies in equal measure. However, it is only that. A glimpse. This is something Momoa was deeply aware of during the Justice League press conference in London this weekend. Crediting Zack Snyder for masterminding this interpretation of the character, Momoa is also aware that fans want to see much more of this character and his life in Atlantis—which along with Amber Heard as Mera appears for only one very nifty scene in Justice League. Luckily, Momoa promises the complete grandeur of life under the sea is coming soon in 2018 with Aquaman’s first solo movie.

    “It all sort of came from Zack’s mind. Aquaman wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him,” Momoa says. “When I stepped into his room, and he told me his vision of me playing this character, the one thing that I was really concerned about when I did my homework was I knew this would be basically just a weekend in his life, and I just wanted to make sure the fans knew that this gruff character, this man who lives in the tides and really is not accepted in two different places—we really needed to know where he came from and why he’s as grumpy and a bit of an asshole to Batman.”

    Momoa adds, “I want people to know in a year, you’re going to understand where he came from, what happened to his mother, what happened to his father, and how he was treated in this world and how he didn’t know how to use his powers. Sometimes he saved people and sometimes he lost people, and his human side didn’t know how to cope with those things, to cover up those things. So you know there’s a lot of layers to this guy. And I think once we do get to the solo films, you get to see the man who is going to take responsibility and help the world and become a king, eventually.”

    He then pauses before continuing with a chuckle, “A lot of people are like, ‘That’s not my Aquaman!’ Just wait a little bit longer. Just stick with it for a little bit longer.”

    The Aquaman who fans will see in Justice League, however, is plenty scene-stealing as it is, which will become apparent when the movie opens on Nov. 17. Aquaman will also have his day in the solo spotlight on Dec. 21, 2018.


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    Claire and Jamie return to Lallybroch, only to be torn apart by the reveal of Jamie's other wife.

    This Outlander review contains spoilers.

    Outlander Season 3, Episode 8

    Well, I suppose there are probably worse ways to find out about your husband's other wife, but not many. The other shoe dropped on tonight's episode of Outlander, and it made for some emotionally-riveting television. After last week's installment, which felt like phoning it in for this character-driven drama, Outlander delved deeper into the complications of reuniting with someone you love after two decades apart. "First Wife" wasn't always pretty, but it was always true.

    Following the burning of Jamie's print shop, Claire and Jamie return home to Lallybroch with Young Ian in tow. But Claire's homecoming is not as simple as she might have liked, which is what makes it that much more delicious and cathartic for us. After several people have accepted Claire's half-hearted explanation 20-year absence with barely a follow-up question, Jenny (bless her) acts like an actual human being, expressing betrayal, confusion, anger, and disbelief at her sister-in-law's sudden miraculous return.

    When Claire went back through the stones, she wasn't just leaving Jamie; she was leaving a whole life behind. This included Jenny, who tells Claire she came to think of her as a sister before her departure. Imagine if someone you considered family couldn't even be bothered to write a letter to let you know they were alive. Jenny grieved for Claire — both for herself and for her brother. It was Jenny who had to pick up the pieces after Claire's departure left Jamie broken. Now, we know it's not Claire's fault, but Jenny has much less information.

    Now imagine you're in Claire's shoes, having to try to effectively explain to someone you love why you have betrayed their trust at the most fundamental of levels, without being able to actually tell them the whole truth. Jamie tries, but Jenny calls bullshit on Claire not doing everything she could to get back to Jamie. Eventually, Claire settles for a half-truth, telling Jenny that she remarried and couldn't reach out to Jenny for the sake of her own survival. Jenny says she sees truth in Claire's story, but it's still not enough. A half-truth rarely is.

    Now, angry Jenny is an entertaining Jenny when you're not the target of said ire. For much of this episode, Claire is, which is why Jenny gets one of her children to tell Laoghaire of her husband's return. That's right: Jamie up and married the vindictive girl from Seasons 1 and 2 who once tried to murder Claire. This episode, she tries to murder Jamie. (Well, she was probably aiming for Claire.)

    Claire is understandably distraught and infuriated to not only learn that Jamie has another wife that he didn't tell her about, but that the other wife is Laoghaire. It doesn't help that she finds out this piece of information when Laoghaire storms into their bed chamber, daughters in tow to call Jamie "daddy." It never feels good to feel like the other women, even if the truth is more complicated than that.

    And, if you haven't noticed the theme already, the truth usually is more complicated than the proverbial "that." If you thought Jamie and Claire's reunion was too easy for two people who have lived separate lives for 20 years, then you would have been right, and it feels good for Outlander to address that here. Claire, who has made the bigger sacrifice, leaving not only her daughter, but her career, home, and home era, starts to have some serious doubts following the revelation that Jamie has been lying about his second wife.

    I'm not sure if I really believe Claire will leave, as she threatens to do before Jamie is shot, but I do think she needs Jamie to understand that he needs to do better. If we learned anything from "Creme de Menthe," it's that Jamie has become too comfortable with lying to the people who are closest to him. That's the luxury of a man who isolates himself; it's a luxury the man who honestly enters into love cannot afford.

    After Claire sews Jamie up, a callback of sorts to when they first met and fell in love, she reminds Jamie that he is accountable again to love, intimacy, and everything that comes with it. To his credit, Jamie listens. "Will ye risk the man that I am, for the sake of the man ye knew?" Jamie asks Claire come the end of the episode, and it's a beautiful sentiment. Neither Jamie nor Claire are the people they once were, that's not how life works, but that doesn't mean those people are gone, either. With one line, Outlander embraces the truth that love is always a risk.

    Last week, I lauded Outlander's commitment to avoiding tired "will they or won't they" romance tropes in favor of a more complex, interesting depiction of love. The show does this by never forgetting that love is always a terrifying leap of faith, even with two people as in love as Jamie and Claire. The show often indulges in narrative tensions beyond that reality, but this is the foundation of this story: the terrifying decision to give yourself to another.

    Speaking of narrative tensions beyond Claire and Jamie's relationship, that's where the pirates come in. Following the realization that Jamie will have to pay a hefty sum in annual alimony to a bitter Laoghaire, Claire and Jamie decide to retrieve the treasure Jamie once found on seal's island. (Remember that prison break he enjoyed earlier this season? Yeah, he actually found a bunch of jewels, but just left them there to return to prison like the beautiful idiot he is.)

    An injured Jamie is unable to swim out to the island, so an eager Young Ian volunteers for the mission. This means Claire and Jamie can only watch from afar as a ship sends men to the same island at the same time as Young Ian (rotten timing, eh?) and capture the boy. The ship then immediately sets sail, leaving a helpless Jamie and Claire behind.

    This will no doubt launch the next chapter of their story, a tale that will take us to the open seas. We get a cinematic taste of the scope of that journey in the episodes final shots, as the camera sweeps away from an ever-diminishing Claire and Jamie, out into the ocean and away from the familiarity of the Scottish shores.

    4/5
    ReviewKayti Burt
    Nov 5, 2017

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    On a show with relatively little room for characters outside the main duo, Jenny Fraser Murray stands her ground.

    Feature Kayti Burt
    Nov 5, 2017

    Outlander isn't a show that gives its supporting characters much to do, at least not in any sustained manner. This is Jamie and Claire's story (at least for now), and they get the bulk of the action, context, and emotional journey.

    There are a few supporting characters that prove exceptions to that general rule, of course. One of them is the indelible Jenny Fraser Murray (played with fierce emotionality by the perfectly-cast Laura Connelly), who continues to prove herself unwilling to fade into the shadows as a two-dimensional supporting character.

    This week's episode, "First Wife," was ostensibly about Claire's doubts following the revelation of Jamie's marriage to Laoghaire, but its narrative tension was actually equally divided between the relationship between Claire and Jamie and the relationship between Claire and Jenny. In fact, much of the narrative tension actually lay in the former — because, while we all know Claire and Jamie will find a way to forgive one another, a happy resolution is less guaranteed when it comes to Claire and her feisty sister-in-law.

    From her initial introduction, Jenny has been a character to be reckoned with. She is just as stubborn as Jamie, if not more so. She is hard to win over, but, once she considers you family, she will do anything for you. This has been proven again and again, especially in her relationship to Jamie. When Jamie is taken by the English in Season 1, a breastfeeding Jenny saddles up with Claire to go looking for her brother. When Jamie sacrifices himself to the English to keep her safe, she screams that she will never forgive him (even though we know she will).

    It is Jenny who puts up with Jamie following the "death" of Claire, looking out for him even when he is emotionally incapable of doing the same in return. She is, without a doubt, the strongest character on the show. In a melodrama (and in life), emotional ferocity is a strength, not a weakness. Jenny's willingness to face her emotions and demand the same of others makes her a god damn superhero, the kind of fictional example we could stand to see more in TV and film.

    Jenny demonstrates this superpower yet again in "First Wife," forcing Claire and Jamie to confront the underlying issues they have been unable or unwilling to confront prior to their return to Lallybroch. While her methods may leave something to be desired, Jenny makes sure Claire finds out about Laoghaire. She is a character who demands emotional honesty from herself and others.

    As I mentioned in my review, Jenny is also the only character thus far to call Claire out on her flimsy excuse for leaving behind her family for 20 years. It is a character reaction that straight-up saved this current narrative arc for me, so false did the reactions of Fergus, Ian, and several others fall.

    Jenny is a fully-realized character, one who will not be co-opted for the sake of plot convenience. She calls Claire's explanation bullshit, and honestly tells her that she's not sure she will ever be able to trust her or consider her family again. Other than Jamie's more informed, complicated reaction, it is the first reaction that has rung true since Claire's return to the 18th century. Even characters Claire had never previously met, but who have some kind of relationship to Jamie, deserved, at the very least, a moment of side-eye.

    Jenny isn't just one of Outlander's best characters for her own characterization, but for the nuances she brings out in others, most specifically Claire and Jamie. She makes this world richer, even when she's not on the screen. At one point in "First Wife," Jamie tells Claire they cannot tell Jenny the whole truth because she would not understand. Unlike Murtagh, she has never been outside the borders of Lallybroch (a slight exaggeration, but the point stands).

    While I'm not sure I agree with Jamie — I think Jenny could handle anything — Jenny's consistency is worth noting. On a TV show constantly switching time periods, genres, and locations, Jenny is a constant. She is a yardstick by which to measure all of Claire and Jamie's character-changing adventures against. She is a vital part of this narrative, and that's no small feat on a show that prioritizes its love story above all else.

    It's also a hint that, while this show may be a love story, it's a love story of many kinds. It's a story about romance that spans time, sure, but it's also about the love between brothers and sisters, the love betwen mothers and daughters, and the love between two women who became family for the man they both love.


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    Oh hell yeah, Jeff Goldblum is now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Get ready to meet the Grandmaster in Thor: Ragnarok.

    Feature Marc Buxton
    Nov 1, 2017

    Grandmaster has long been using the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe like a dungeon master uses pewter miniatures and eight sided dice. So let’s open the game box on Grandmaster with a particular focus on one of the greatest and earliest Marvel events: the unforgettable first Contest of Champions!

    Grandmaster is a master of the “power primordial,” a raw cosmic force that is the same energy left over from the big bang. With this might, ‘ol blue skin can manipulate probability fields, create and destroy just about anything, and has enough raw power to go up against Galactus himself. Cosmic entities like Eternity, Living Tribunal, and the In-Betweener see Grandmaster as an equal and even the most powerful heroes like the Silver Surfer and Thor have been easily felled by Grandmaster. He might look like a stretched out Smurf, but Grandy is a badass on the ultimate cosmic level.

    The first thing you should know is that fans already met Grandmaster’s brother in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

    Yes indeed, the Collector and Grandmaster are siblings and both Elders of the Universe have had a one-upmanship relationship for decades. Grandmaster also once possessed one of the Infinity Gems, the Mind Gem, which he lost to Thanos right before the legendary Infinity Gauntlet event.

    From these fun facts, you can tell that Grandmaster has long been a major cosmic player whose machinations have often shaken the MU. Cosmic brother and cosmic jewels aside, Grandmaster's favorite modus operandi is to pit two super teams against each other and bet on the outcome. And Grandmaster has done this many times over the years and the result usually leads to some truly legendary comics.

    Some other bona fides, Grandmaster’s real name is En Dwi Gast and he is one of the oldest beings in the universe. As far as comics go, En Dwi Gast made his first appearance in The Avengers #69 (1969) and was created by Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema. In this debut, Grandmaster challenged the arch Avengers villain Kang the Conqueror to a contest. Kang chose the Avengers and Grandmaster chose the Squadron Sinister (analogs of DC’s Justice League) and the two sides did battle. If Kang won, his beloved Ravonna would be resurrected. But Kang lost due to Grandmaster’s careful planning and comicdom at large learned that when one plays a game with the Grandmaster, one will always find a stacked deck. 

    Grandmaster’s games took him around the known galaxy as he continued to use the Avengers as pawns. 

    He gave the same treatment to the Defenders before taking part in a comic and story event that would be long remembered-1982’s Contest of Champions. In this series, Collector came down with a bad case of being dead, so his loving brother Grandmaster challenged Death to a contest. Death and Grandmaster each chose from a grouping of Earth’s greatest heroes and would set their heroic pawns against each other in epic battles. These contests were epically crafted by writers Mark Gruenwald, Bill Mantlo, and Steven Grant with art by Bob Layton.

    Grandmaster’s team consisted of Captain America, Talisman, Darkstar, Captain Britain, Wolverine, Defensor, Sasquatch, Daredevil, Peregrine, She-Hulk, the Thing, and Blitzkrieg while Death’s team was made up of Iron Man, Vanguard, Iron Fist, Shamrock, Storm, Arabian Knight, Sabra, Invisible Girl, Angel, Black Panther, Sunfire, and the Collective Man. Yes, the contest had some international flavor as Marvel used Contest of Champions to introduce new heroes like Shamrock, Collective Man, and Peregrine.

    But it was the invidual contests and the high stakes that made this series so unforgettable. Oh, lest we forget, Contest of Champions was also Marvel’s first mini-series! And what a mini-series! The huge cast of characters, the cosmic life and death struggle, and the shock ending set the standard for such future event mini-series such as Secret Wars. In the end, Grandmaster won, but learned that in order to resurrect his brother, Grandmaster must sacrifice his own life. Appreciating the rules of the game, Grandmaster nobly gave his existence so his brother might live.

    But do you think Grandmaster stayed dead? Of course not!

    From beyond the grave, Grandmaster and the Collector conned the Avengers into resurrecting Grandmaster in Avengers West CoastAnnual #2 and Avengers Annual #16 (1987). From there, Grandmaster returned to the cosmos and played games with Silver, Surfer, Quasar, and many more. And if you think Contest of Champions was huge, listen to this madness.

    We discussed the Squadron Sinister earlier, a team of heroes that were (ahem) an homage to DC’s Justice League. It’s pretty badass to manipulate a Justice League adjacent super team, but what if we told you that Grandmaster also manipulated the JLA itself? Yes, Grandmaster is so cosmically powerful that he even used his the powers to bypass Warner Brothers lawyers. That’s right, Grandmaster was one of the catalysts of the only meeting of the Avengers and the Justice League.

    In JLA/Avengers#1-4 (2004) by Kurt Busiek and George Perez, Grandmaster challenged DC’s Krona to a contest the likes of which nerdom never imagined. Grandmaster choose the Avengers and Krona choose the JLA and each publishing pantheon fought to find twelve cosmic comic book artifacts. This was the biggest thing, like ever, the mashing together of two publishing juggernauts and it all came about because of the sheer gaming acumen of the Grandmaster (and because of the need for money by both publishers in the early 2000s).

    And now this master of all games is coming to the big screen. Will the MCU’s Grandmaster measure up to his comic book counterpart when it comes to raw power? The comic version of Grandmaster has manipulated the most powerful entities in a number of universes, and each of these heroes, monsters, and gods were but pawns in the greedy fingers of Marvel’s ultimate manipulator.  

    Thor: Ragnarokopens on November 3.

    Read the full Den of Geek NYCC Special Edition Magazine right here!


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    Why is Egg Fu still hanging around the DC Universe? And why is Harley going to jail?

    NewsJim Dandy
    Nov 6, 2017

    I know I do this every time he's shown up since 52, but when I saw these preview pages for Harley Quinn #31, I shouted "wait, EGG FU?" into my office.

    For those of you unfamiliar, Egg Fu is a SUPER racist old Wonder Woman villain who turned into an Apokaliptian computer in the '80s, then reappeared in 52 as a member of a team of evil super-scientists before being revealed as a member of China's Great 10. Apparently the version of Egg Fu in Harley Quinn is an actual sentient egg who was experimenting on Poison Ivy in Arkham before Harley reformed him, and in these preview pages, he's collateral damage in Harley's race for New York City mayor.

    Here's what DC has to say about the issue:

    "Vote Harley" part 4! It's all come down to this: Harley and her adversary, Mayor DePerto, have trotted out every dirty trick in the book...and now it's up to the people to decide who will lead New York City into the next decade! No matter who wins, let's be honest with each other: it might be time to consider moving to L.A.!

    Take a look at these preview pages, and then guess who will get more votes in the actual New York City mayor's race, Harley or notorious weirdo Bo Dietl.


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    Thor: Ragnarok has a scene that showcases some surreal cameo appearances and Marvel’s Kevin Feige explains how it happened.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Nov 6, 2017

    Warning: SPOILER content for Thor: Ragnarok ahead!

    While it has been clear for some time that Marvel solo threequel Thor: Ragnarok was set to bring more amped action sequences and humor than its predecessors, no one could have anticipated the way it would recap crucial events. With the film being tonally divergent from 2013’s second film, Thor: The Dark World, the necessary exposition left in that film’s wake was handled in a hilariously creative manner that yielded some memorable star-studded cameos.

    Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige recently spoke to Collider about one particular sequence in the new film that caps off the closing events of the morose Thor: The Dark World with the energy, levity and attitude that’s proven be a staple of director Taika Waititi’s raucous Ragnarok. The scene, a Hamlet-esque play-within-a-play, depicts a group of players – Matt Damon, Sam Neill and Luke Hemsworth – on a makeshift stage on Asgard, acting out the crucial climactic events of The Dark World, namely the “death” of Loki and his heroic sacrifice.

    Indeed, The Dark World ended with a presumed-dead Loki (Tom Hiddleston) revealed to be impersonating Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and ruling Asgard as Thor (Chris Hemsworth) leaves the home world to investigate his apocalyptic visions, unaware of the ruse. With a substantial amount of necessary backstory to cover that could easily risk sidetracking the film, Feige reveals the process that inspired the play approach. As he explains:

    “There was an idea in the script phase. I don’t remember if it was our writer, Eric Pearson’s or if it was Taika [Waititi]’s or if it was our executive producer, Brad Winderbaum to bring the audience up to speed on the fact that everybody thinks Loki is dead. So that when it was revealed that he was Odin, it would make some semblance of sense to people who weren’t following along from all the films. There was this idea to do it in this funny sort of stage play which Loki/Odin had put on to celebrate himself. We then watched whatever was the season before last Game of Thrones. They did a similar thing where they had a stage play with some events from other episodes, not that we were like, “Oh crap.” But then it’s different enough.”

    While the role of Thor was, poetically enough, filled by Liam Hemsworth, the Westworld actor and oldest of the trio of Hemsworth Aussie actor brothers, the appointment of Sam Neill for the role of Odin was also a fan-servicing Jurassic Park reunion of sorts, since co-star Jeff Goldblum is present in Ragnarok as co-villain the Grandmaster. However, it seems that the acquisition of megastar Matt Damon for Loki was a happy accident. As Feige continues:

    “There was a fun idea of ‘Let’s get Luke Hemsworth to play Thor,’ Taika had worked with Sam Neill in Hunt for the Wilderpeople. He was willing to come in and do Odin. So who could be Loki? Who could be Loki? Who could be Loki? We didn’t have any brilliant ideas. At one point, off handedly, Mr. Hemsworth goes, ‘Well what if I ask my friend Matt?’ I said, ‘Matt who?’ He said, ‘My friend, Matt Damon.’ ‘Okay. Sure. Sure Chris, ask your friend Matt Damon. He’s not doing this. Oh he’s gonna do it. He’s flying down.’ The next thing I know, Matt Damon is on set in a full Loki costume, full Loki wig. We have pictures that maybe we’ll share some day of Tom Hiddleston in a full Loki outfit standing next to Matt Damon in full Loki outfit. It is very surreal and very amazing. What a testament to, I just met him for the first time, I wasn’t there when he shot this. I just met him for the first time last night. What an awesome thing, for him to come down here for his friend. It was purely based on his friendship with Hemsworth that he came and did this.”

    Yet, the idea of Matt Damon playing Marvel’s God of Mischief Loki, even if it’s an ersatz version, is especially poetic for fans of director Kevin Smith’s 1999 comedy Dogma, in which Damon played a scheming fallen angel who happened to be named Loki. Like Hiddleston’s Marvel character, Damon’s Loki started as a ruthless revenge-seeker, rebelling against God, until the violently over-the-top measures of his angelic partner in crime Bartleby (Ben Affleck) makes him (like Loki,) have a change of heart and realize the error of his ways.

    However, lest anyone think that this role as the Loki player eliminated Damon’s contention for any future Marvel Cinematic Universe roles, Feige makes the following assurance:

    “I think, as he said to me on the carpet last night, that look, there he is now a stock as Asgardian player somewhere wandering the universe with, spoiler, Asgard gone. Who knows? It could be the adventures of a hard-working actor, Asgardian actor, in the future.”

    Fortunately for Thor: Ragnarok, the action-packed approach, wielding humorous sequences like the play scene, paid off tremendously at the box office, with the film grossing $121 million domestic, boosted by a $306 million foreign haul, making it the seventh-largest opening for an MCU movie, even topping the $117 million weekend of this past summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming.


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    For 40 years, Marvel has shown us hundreds of peeks into alternate history. Here are the better moments from the multiverse.

    The ListsGavin Jasper
    Nov 6, 2017

    What If is one of my all-time favorite Marvel series. Every single issue is a grab bag of creative teams and creative decisions where you can find gold or garbage or something in-between. But even when it’s bad, you’re going to find something interesting. The rules are out the window and for better or worse, you’re probably going to get something creative. Continuity is only a building block and is not a goal. Heroes and villains can die, succeed, and fail in ways that would be unlikely in the mainstream.

    It all began in 1977, where we got to see What If Spider-Man Joined the Fantastic Four? That run went on for 47 issues, only for the concept to reprise with a one-shot What If Iron Man Had Been a Traitor? in 1988 and a new ongoing starting with What If the Avengers Lost the Evolutionary War? the year following. That series went on for 114 issues, plus a -1 issue because that was a thing Marvel was doing at the time. Seven years later, What Ifwould return in 2005 as an annual batch of comics where 5-7 issues would be released in a cluster. Some of them would be based on a gimmick or specific event.

    Overall, there have been over 200 issues of What If. I’ve read every single one of them. Rather than list the best issues, I’d rather talk about the best moments from the series. The awesome moments in a series where nothing is sacred.

    I’m going to limit myself to one entry per issue, EXCEPT if there are multiple stories in one issue. For instance, What If? Featuring Planet Hulk has two separate storylines in there and both will be included here.

    Also, I’m only doing books with the What Iftitle. Earth X, The Last Avengers Story, Bullet Points, Marvel Zombies, and so on don’t count.

    100. THE MONSTROUS FOUR

    What If the Fantastic Four All Had the Same Power? (1990)

    Jim Valentino

    This issue tells four different tales based on the Fantastic Four’s initial space adventure giving them all the same power set. They became invisible agents of SHIELD, irresponsible fire-wielding superheroes, and straight-up went their separate ways because four stretchy superheroes sounds dumb as hell.

    In one world, they all became monsters. While Ben became the iconic, rocky version of the Thing, Johnny became the original, mushy version and Reed transformed into a purple version of the Hulk, including the bullying personality. But what was truly shocking to the four of them was the state of Sue, who had become Man-Thing. Or Invisible Woman-Thing.

    Like regular Man-Thing, Sue didn’t speak or even gesture. Instead, she just stood around with tears forming around her eyes. Johnny’s completely broken reaction to seeing her like that is heartbreaking and led to Reed’s decision to have them all live on Monster Isle for the rest of their days.

    99. SCAR OF THE DOG

    What If? Featuring Wolverine (2005)
     
    Daniel Way and Jon Proctor

    One story came up with the high concept of Wolverine becoming the Punisher in the 1920s. It wasn’t much because, really, there aren’t enough differences between the characters to make it compelling. The one nice touch (outside of his skull shirt being the flag of a pirate-themed bar that got burned down) is the use of the villain. The bar, which had Logan’s baby and baby’s momma in there, was destroyed by Scarface, the infamous gangster from Chicago.

    We later discover that this isn’t Al Capone. No, this Scarface gets his name from the three claw marks decorating his face. This universe’s Scarface is none other than Logan’s brother Dog from Wolverine: Origins.

    Clever.

    98. THE FANTASTIC BLUNDER

    What If the Fantastic Four Had Lost the Trial of Galactus? (1990)

    Roy Thomas, RJM Lofficier, and Greg Capullo

    This is from a mostly dull issue, but I always laughed at the, “Well, that escalated quickly!” factor of it all.

    Once upon a time, Reed Richards could have killed Galactus but decided not to for reasons. The Shi’ar put Reed on trial for letting Galactus live. Nova convinced Galactus to defend Reed and explain why Galactus’ survival is important to the universe. In this What Ifreality, Galactus decided not to and Reed is executed.

    The remaining Fantastic Three chose to target Lilandra, but since they were without the resident genius, they went at her a little too hard. They entered Shi’ar airspace in a stolen Skrull spacecraft and the moment they got opposed by their forces, they scrambled for a weapon. They found Annihilus’ Cosmic Rod and figured that not only would that make for a good projectile, but the Skrull technology would make it many times more powerful than it already was!

    This is like bringing a nuke to a knife fight.

    Our heroes accidentally blew up the whole Shi’ar throne world and, well, didn’t make things any better for anyone.

    97. MINDS OVER GALACTUS

    What If the Age of Apocalypse Had Not Ended? (1996)

    Mariano Nicieza and Kevin Hopgood

    Marvel has made several attempts to follow-up on the Age of Apocalypse reality and the first one wasn’t very good. Taking place two years after the events of the initial story, it has to do with the human and mutant survivors finding out about the coming of Silver Surfer and Galactus to devour their world.

    There’s some general strangeness to it all like Hulk being called “Thing,” Quicksilver getting together with Gwen Stacy, and the really, really stupid scene where Silver Surfer tries to sneak up on Wolverine, only to get stabbed in the stomach and die.

    Galactus’ death, on the other hand, was a bit better. Night Thrasher, of all people, fiddled around with some Watcher tech to turn himself into some powerful being made of awful mid-90s comic book CGI. In an act that would be reused in the Ultimate universe, Night Thrasher joined with the minds of everyone on Earth in order to overwhelm Galactus. Though many died from the strain, the divided world of humans and mutants stood together and pumped their fists in the air in solidarity until Galactus finally had a big, galactic aneurism and went down for the count.

    96. THE BEST FOUR HORSEMEN EVER

    What If? Featuring X-Men: Age of Apocalypse (2007)

    Rick Remender and Dave Wilkins

    Hey, speaking of Age of Apocalypse!

    In this reality, Legion’s plan to go back in time and kill Magneto screwed up and he took out Magneto and Xavier. What followed was Rick Remender throwing a bunch of crazy ideas against the wall, including Brother Voodoo as Sorcerer Supreme, which he’d be writing in main continuity a few years later.

    While Nathan Summers and Molecule Man took on Apocalypse himself (who only appeared in a whopping two pages of this story), the other heroes fought Apocalypse’s absolutely stacked Four Horsemen. They included Storm, Namor, Hulk, and Juggernaut. Goddamn!

    By the time the dust settled, the only good guys left standing were Wolverine and a Mjolnir-wielding Captain America.

    95. MEPHISTO’S FRIGHTFUL FOUR

    What If This Was the Fantastic Four? (2008)

    Jeff Parker, Mike Wieringo, and various others

    There have been four different What Ifissues dedicated to the New Fantastic Four, the makeshift replacement team created as a marketing stunt/parody of marketing stunts from the 90s. Two issues were specifically made about the original team dying and Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk, and Ghost Rider remaining a permanent team. The What Ifissue from the 90s played up how in-over-their-heads this team of loners would be against the sum of Fantastic Four threats and their solo adversaries like Abomination and Lady Deathstrike.

    This issue – a tribute to Mike Wieringo, who tragically passed away during the making of it – went even further. Yeah, having to fight Super-Skrull and Sandman sucks, but don’t forget that the New Fantastic Four had Ghost Rider on the team! He takes on biblical threats!

    This culminated in a new Frightful Four made up of Sandman, Abomination, Sabretooth, and Venom. Each one with horns and pentagrams on their heads along with a little extra power. They were controlled by Dr. Doom possessed by Mephisto himself, but luckily Spider-Man’s quick-thinking and Doom’s self-sacrifice in the name of ego were enough to put an end to that threat.

    94. THE PUNISHER’S PUBLICITY

    What If the Punisher’s Family Hadn’t Been Killed? (1990)

    Doug Murray and Rik Levins

    This issue is one of those that people make fun of because, in the end, Frank Castle’s family dies and he becomes the Punisher to avenge them anyway. Well...yeah. One of the points of the Punisher is that the world fucking sucks and is overrun with violent corruption.

    Since the Castles weren’t shot up by the mob, Frank went on to become a police officer. This timeline caused him to respect superheroes more, not just from being on their side of the law, but because his son idolized them. Then he became aware of corruption in the police department and after gathering enough evidence to expose it, his family got wasted. He was assumed to be among the dead.

    The Punisher went on the expected killing spree, but with a difference. He actually cared about how people thought of him. He focused on taking out the corrupt and he wanted the public to know that’s why those people were dying. Pulling the trigger was no longer enough and he instead started sending evidence to newspapers to explain his actions.

    He was more or less the same vigilante, but the public saw him in a different light as a violent conscience existing to offset the crooked.

    93. WITH YOUR POWERS COMBINED...

    What If the Hulk Had the Brain of Bruce Banner? (1977)

    Roy Thomas and Herb Trimpe

    It only took two issues for What If to get really weird. Rather than being a huge jerk or a simple-minded monster, Hulk retained Banner’s personality and intellect. This alteration led to the end of the three major Marvel teams. Hulk wasn’t so easily tricked by Loki, meaning the Avengers never came to be. He helped Reed Richards cure the Thing, meaning the Fantastic Four broke up. Then Charles Xavier decided that he’d rather hang out and do science stuff with Hulk and Reed instead of having the X-Men exist.

    Galactus showed up and the shit hit the fan. The three men were overwhelmed individually, so they instead merged their minds together to create X-Man – a big, gold man in his underwear. After smacking Ben Grimm aside and re-radiating him, X-Man went off to have a big staring contest with the G-Man.

    Galactus flew off to space because he really didn’t have time for this crap.

    92. THE SINISTER JAMESON

    What If Spider-Man Had Never Become a Crimefighter? (1980)

    Peter Gillis and Pat Broderick

    J. Jonah Jameson has always been an antagonist to Spider-Man, but we’ve never seen him as an outright bad guy. He’s just a well-meaning loud mouth with an axe to grind and a very vocal opinion.

    This issue tackled one of the easiest What If concepts: what would have happened had Spider-Man stopped that burglar when he had the opportunity? On one hand, Uncle Ben would have been fine, but on the other hand, Peter wouldn’t have learned a thing.

    Spider-Man became sort of an asshole version of El Santo. A guy who’d keep his identity a secret while starring in superhero movies as himself. Parker became a huge name in the entertainment industry and it led to a big, heated rivalry with Jameson. The fact that Jameson’s astronaut hero son died (because there was no webbed superhero to save him), didn’t help matters.

    In the media war between the two, Spider-Man won out. Jameson lost everything. So when Spider-Man and Daredevil (his client/bodyguard) were faced with the Sinister Six, it wasn’t that much of a surprise who their cloaked leader was. Only after defeating and unmasking the desperate and crying villain did Spider-Man realize what his lack of responsibility had created.

    91. THE DEATH OF GAMBIT

    What If? Starring Gambit (1998)

    Tom DeFalco and Leo Fernandez

    At one point, it was discovered that back in the day, Gambit sold out some Morlocks to the Marauders. The punishment was excommunication for however long that lasted.

    The What Ifdecided that maybe Archangel would feel more than a little raw over the whole ordeal. Rather than letting Gambit be, he decided to hunt him down himself. This led to a Morlock-style trial by combat where Gambit attempted to warn Archangel about how damaging killing someone can be. Archangel won, but chose to spare Gambit, saying he never wanted to see him again. With Wolverine off to the side as the sage mentor who expected all of this to happen, it felt like they should have just went with this in the canon comics proper.

    Then Marrow, a Morlock herself, decided this wasn’t good enough and tossed a piece of bone into Gambit’s chest, killing him. Gambit’s final moments in Rogue’s arms were him condoning Marrow’s actions while pleading with the team to resolidify and allow the circle of hate to end with him.

    90. FALL OF THE CARNAGE COSMIC

    What If? Starring the Avengers (1998)

    Tom DeFalco and Sergio Cariello

    There was a brief Spider-Man story where the Carnage symbiote attached itself to the Silver Surfer, creating the Carnage Cosmic. It went back to Cletus Kasady before anything much could happen and that was that.

    Naturally, there was an issue about the symbiote staying with Surfer. Instead of just Spider-Man, it was opposed by the Avengers. Although there were no superhero casualties, Carnage Cosmic defeated Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor with little issue. Spider-Man made it apparent that only one hero had a shot at taking him down. Firestar wasn’t much on killing, but considering her microwave powers were kryptonite to the symbiote, she figured Spider-Man was talking about her.

    He wasn’t. Her microwave blasts certainly helped, but only by weakening the symbiote so that the Silver Surfer could temporarily take control. It was all he needed as he flew off into space and went right into the sun, killing himself along with the murderous parasite.

    89. THE SIEGE MASSACRE

    What If? #200 (2010)

    Marc Guggenheim and Dave Wilkins

    The 200th issue of What If went with the idea of Ares getting torn in half the night before the Siege on Asgard instead of during it. This acted as a thin excuse for Guggenheim to write the Sentry/Void, as well as the other Dark Avengers, viciously annihilating nearly all the heroes. It made little sense, but at least it was well-drawn murder porn.

    The only real development in the story had the Cabal try to turn the Sentry on Norman Osborn by having Emma Frost mentally show him that Osborn had Hawkeye kill the Sentry’s wife. Instead of a big game saver, all it did was allow the Sentry to fully hand over the keys to the Void, who wiped out Bullseye, the Cabal, Osborn, the US military, whatever heroes and villains were left on Earth to oppose him (the hopeless and blood-splattered faces of Wrecker and Valkyrie are utterly haunting), and later tore the whole planet to pieces.

    But at least Dr. Doom, faced with utter oblivion, made it clear that screwed or not, he was not going to bend his knee to the Void for any reason.

    88. SOMETHING MOVES THE BLOB

    What If the Hulk Killed Wolverine? (1993)

    John Arcudi and Armando Gil

    This issue is yet another instance of a character murdering a dozen known heroes for the sake of not being in continuity. In this case, the executioner was Gray Hulk, who went on a bit of a rampage after successfully killing off Wolverine. He was challenged by the combined might of the X-Men and Freedom Force and continued to end lives with his mindless rage.

    Most of the deaths were pretty by the books, but Hulk at least got to look godly upon taking out the Blob. Pyro blasted flames at Hulk, hoping to be able to burn into his hide. Hulk defended himself by grabbing the Blob, picking him up off the ground, using him as a shield from the flames, and then dropped Blob’s carcass onto Pyro.

    Immovable object? Not when Hulk’s around.

    87. SPIDER-MAN’S SPECIAL TRIGGER

    What If? Spider-Man Versus Wolverine (2007)

    Jeff Parker, Paul Tobin, and Clayton Henry

    Once upon a time, there was a crossover one-shot where Spider-Man and Wolverine fought it out, ending with a female spy tricking Spider-Man into punching her at full force because dying was better than being caught by the Russians. The What Ifversion of it had Wolverine offer Peter redemption by saving her sister, Alex.

    Trained by the legendary spy known as The Rook, Spider-Man saved Alex and became a black ops specialist. Spider-Man, Alex, and Wolverine became a tight-knit trio of mercenaries who gave their money to various charities. Over time, we got to see Spider-Man get over his iconic hatred of killing, leading up to a sweet moment where he took on an assassin brandishing two katanas.

    Spider-Man attempted to web him, but he chopped through the webs and laughed it off. Spider-Man then shrugged, made a handgun gesture, and shot him in the head.

    Clayton Henry using the unused Spider-Man movie costume for this issue was inspired.

    86. THE MAD CAPTAIN

    What If? Infinity: Thanos (2015)

    Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson

    One of those things that makes comic fans all tingly is when you mix and match characters and weapons. Remember that time Superman wielded Cap’s shield and Mjolnir? That was the stuff.

    Joshua Williamson wrote a handful of Infinity-based issues of What If and one of them had Thanos join the Avengers in their big space war rather than invade Earth. While he was able to start a fun bromance with Thor, he proved Cap’s paranoia right by revealing that at one point he knocked up a Builder and since “kill all my kids” is Thanos’ deal these days, he used the Avengers as a means to an end on that.

    Thanos ended up killing Cap and convinced everyone that he died alongside him on the battlefield. Yes, it was a dark ending, and even ended with Thanos inserting himself into the Illuminati, but seeing Thanos kicking alien ass with Captain America’s mighty shield and declaring, “AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!” is some damn fine alternate universe shit.

    85. THE LAST DAYS OF WILSON FISK

    What If the Kingpin Owned Daredevil? (1995)

    DG Chichester and Tom Grindberg

    Wilson Fisk became aware of the murder of Jack Murdock and wasn’t happy. The Fixer overstepped his boundaries. At the same time, he was intrigued to discover that young Matt Murdock was an associate of one Stick...and also had interest in a future in law. The Kingpin adopted Matt and won him over via eliminating anyone who had anything to do with Jack’s death.

    Matt grew up to be the Fisk personal lawyer and worked to get his father saved from all charges against his name. For the most part, his own supporting cast moved on to have better lives without him. Yet despite Matt being used for corrupted purposes, his adopted father was inspired to become a better person and intended to truly go legitimate.

    This angered Richard Fisk, who already felt jealous over how much his father loved Matt. Richard shot up his father and within minutes, Matt murdered Richard in revenge.

    Matt remained at Wilson’s side for the remainder of his life, showing us how close the two truly were in this timeline. Matt was basically given the keys to the criminal underworld after Wilson passed and with it only came a feeling of emptiness.

    84. VISION OF THE DARK FUTURE

    What If Vision of the Avengers Conquered the World? (1990)

    Roy Thomas, RJM Lofficier, and Ron Wilson

    There was a time when Vision took over all computers on Earth and became a red-faced SkyNet. One issue of What Ifembraced this in two separate ways. One had Vision aid all the heroes in turning Earth – and later the universe – into a utopia. It was kind of boring.

    The second story had those heroes nuked by a nervous foreign government trying to wipe out Vision. Vision survived, as you could guess, but the world fell to chaos. And so, Vision reached out to the likes of Kingpin, Dr. Doom, Hydra, and the Mad Thinker. Together, they conquered Earth.

    Centuries later, Vision’s forces continued to conquer the universe. He was represented by a clone of Dr. Doom, an android with the mind of the Mad Thinker, and an ever-changing ruler of Hydra. Sorry, Kingpin, but history forgot about your ass.

    The story revolved around the conflict between Vision’s villains and the alliance between the Skrulls, Kree, and Badoon. Watching assholes kill assholes makes this an interesting story to read, even if Vision’s side had to remind us a couple times that the Nazis totally had it going on.

    83. DEVIL WITH A RIFLE

    What If? Featuring Daredevil (2006)

    Rick Veitch and Tommy Lee Edwards

    Rather than alter a moment in Marvel history, one issue decided to just straight up do “Daredevil, but in Feudal Japan.” Honestly, the mapping of the concept is so easy that most with a basic understanding of Daredevil could write it in their sleep.

    Rich Veitch threw in a nice curveball. Yes, he had a young, blind samurai fighting alongside a geisha-turned-assassin as they opposed a large Shogun who did sumo wrestling on the side, but he decided that Masahiro – the Devil Who Dares – and Matthew Murdock were two completely separate people. Murdock, driven by the death of his friend Foggy Nelson, served in the Civil War, survived, and became a rifle-wielding mercenary in Japan.

    Known as Bullseye, Murdock seemed to shoot down Elektra at first, but then revealed that he had switched sides. The Shogun unknowingly revealed that he was behind Foggy’s death, making him Bullseye’s true target.

    After the adventure, Masahiro and Elektra were married with Murdock as the best man. Murdock went on to become the first ambassador to Japan.

    82. BADASS OF THE SEA

    What If Invisible Girl of the Fantastic Four Married the Sub-Mariner? (1980)

    Bill Mantlo and Gene Colan

    The very first What If issue, What If Spider-Man Joined the Fantastic Four?, ended with Sue Storm leaving the team and shacking up with Namor. Two years later, they did a sequel where Spider-Man immediately left the team, Thing left shortly after, and Reed and Johnny went mad with rage over Namor stealing Sue away.

    Reed’s attempt at an international incident involved enhancing Johnny’s Human Torch powers to the point that he could Flame On underwater. When confronted with this, Namor tossed a net over him, put him in a bearhug, and dropped him with a headbutt. TO A MAN ON FIRE!

    Then Namor found out that Sue was in labor with his kid and decided that he didn’t have time to have his manly chest and arm burns treated. Reed should have just bowed out of his little war from there because holy shit!

    81. DR. STRANGE, MARTIAL ARTIST SUPREME

    What If Daredevil Was the Disciple of Doctor Strange? (1996)

    Ian Edgington, Mike Baron, and Rafael Kayanan

    Few issues had a better high concept than Dr. Strange joining the Chaste instead of seeking out the Ancient One. More specifically, when Strange was wallowing about his broken hands, Stick showed up to tell him, “Those legends about the Ancient One are fake. Now, if you really want answers, I know a place that can help you.”

    Strange was made spiritually whole as a ninja trainee in this reality the same way he was as a sorcerer in regular continuity. Unfortunately, he botched it when he tried to mentor Matt Murdock, who went on to join the Hand.

    Then lots of cool fight scenes happened. It’s a good issue.


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    Ben Affleck discusses with us at a press event his "more traditional" and humorous take on Batman in Justice League.

    News David Crow
    Nov 6, 2017

    After Batman v Superman, it seemed to be destiny for Bruce Wayne to become the leader of a burgeoning super-team in Justice League. As by the inherent design of the previous film, the man who tried to kill Superman must now fill the void left by the Last Son of Krypton by rounding up a new team of do-gooders to face an intergalactic threat. It’s the central conceit that director Zack Snyder always intended for Justice League, and it is one of the hooks that brought star Ben Affleck onboard to play the role of the Caped Crusader.

    As a character who has starred in more films than any other superhero, and been played by more actors, there was plenty of obvious baggage in portraying Batman again. But there is also the opportunity to do some things differently, even from movie to movie. That character evolution was on Affleck’s mind during a Justice League press event in London this past weekend. As the first to address the elephant in the room regarding the change in directors between Snyder and Joss Whedon during post-production and reshoots, Affleck also noted how the film gave him the opportunity to reinvent Batman and portray a more traditional version of the character. One that is also more recognizable to comic book fans than the broken and angry man in last year’s fight night film.

    “Batman is by nature, [while] not necessarily anti-social, pretty private, pretty a loner,” Affleck says. “And then in this movie he’s thrust into the role of having to not only work with people, but bring them together and convince them to come in and try to… somehow with Wonder Woman hold all that community effort together. That was a really interesting thing to play for me, and it also does take us to a more traditional role for Batman in the Justice League comics, and his role with the Justice League versus the sort of less typical version we saw in Batman v Superman, where he was blinded by rage and wanted to take on Superman.”

    Affleck also seemed to enjoy that this slight alteration to his performance allowed him to introduce some humor to the Dark Knight and a bit of the character’s dry musings.

    “So it was a lot of fun for me, you know. I also got to have a dry wit and I got to play off Ezra [Miller], which was a lot of fun because he’s so funny, and Bruce is always on the verge of exasperation. It was fun to get to show some other colors for sure.”

    Fans will be able to see all those colors themselves when Justice League opens on Nov. 17.


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    The new DuckTales revival is a perfect reminder about why you should check out the classic source material.

    Feature Paul Bullock
    Nov 7, 2017

    The return of DuckTales (a wooo-oooo!) has brought about renewed interest in the adventures of Scrooge McDuck, his n’er-do-well nephew Donald and the world’s most famous Junior Woodchucks Huey, Dewey, and Louie. It may still be in its first season, but the new series has already received high praise, with critics citing as a major positive the reverence it has towards legendary comics writer and artist Carl Barks.

    For those not familiar with his work, Barks is a Disney legend who originally joined the studio in 1935 as an inbetweener - an artist who creates the frames in between the key frames of an animated film to ensure a movement is fluid. He eventually came to contribute gags for Donald Duck shorts and this led him to the career that he’d make his name in: crafting Duck stories for a range of Disney comics and creating what’s arguably his defining legacy, Scrooge McDuck.

    The new DuckTales has already crammed a season’s worth of Barks references into its title sequence alone, but there’s much more to the Duck-verse than just Carl Barks. Here, we run down some of the greatest Duck comic stories from Barks and beyond to whet your appetite for more of those tales of derring-do.

    The Donald Duck newspaper strip (Al Taliaferro and Bob Karp)

    One of Donald’s earliest forays into the comic book page was a daily newspaper strip, which began in 1938. Illustrated by Al Taliaferro and written by Bob Karp, the series introduced some major Duckverse players, including Grandma Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie and, some argue, Donald’s girlfriend Daisy (a Daisy-esque ‘Donna Duck’ appeared in the 1937 short Don Donald; Daisy proper wouldn’t make her bow until 1940’s Mr. Duck Steps Out).

    As you’d expect from older stories, the strips are simple and at times out of step with modern values, but no less charming because of that. IDW started releasing them in collected hardback form in 2015, and with Taliaferro continuing until his death in 1969 and Karp sticking around until 1974, there’s plenty of fun to catch up with.

    Start here - Walt Disney's Donald Duck: The Daily Newspaper Comics Vol. 1

    Lost In The Andes (Carl Barks)

    One of the defining Duck stories, this 1949 tale was written and illustrated by Carl Barks and finds Scrooge, Donald and the nephews venturing to South America in the hunt for chickens that lay square eggs. Lost In The Andes is a perfect example of Barks’ tone, with comical futility underpinning the nonsensical fun, beautiful landscapes and silly wordplay (the story is set in the land of Plain Awful). Barks would go on to claim it as his best work, and many agree, including one of his most famous fans, future Duck artist Don Rosa, who’d reference the square eggs in his stories, The Son Of The Sun and Return To Plain Awful (both of which are also recommended).

    But the influence of Lost In The Andes stretches further. There may not be any ducks or oddly-shaped eggs, but watch any modern adventure film and you’re likely to see the influence of this story at play. It’s a masterpiece and probably the best place to start for a Barks newbie.

    Read Lost in the Andes on Amazon

    The Seven Cities Of Cibola (Carl Barks)

    If you’ve ever marvelled at the creativity of Raiders Of The Lost Ark’s beloved opening sequence, you have Carl Barks and this famous story to thank. Published in 1954, The Seven Cities Of Cibola finds Scrooge and the gang exploring the eponymous location in search of its famed riches. The Beagle Boys, of course, follow them, and it’s they who suffer the same fate as Indy, stealing a priceless idol (made of emerald this time, rather than gold) and then being chased by a giant boulder that was put in motion by the idol’s theft.

    The use of this moment in Raiders was likely driven by George Lucas, who’s a long-time fan of Barks and has written the foreword to one of Fantagraphics’ hardcover collections of his Duck stories. “To me, Uncle Scrooge… is a perfect indicator of the American psyche”, he’s said, capturing one of the reasons for Scrooge’s enduring appeal. “There’s so much that is precisely the essence of America about him that it’s staggering.”

    Read Uncle Scrooge: The Seven Cities of Gold on Amazon

    The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck (Don Rosa)

    One of the great masterpieces of American comics, Don Rosa’s twelve-part epic tells the story of Scrooge’s life from beginning to end. The work was a labor of love for life-long Barks fan Rosa, who painstakingly analysed every Barks story, noting every factoid, piece of trivia and moment of historical significance to craft a rich, full and above all accurate timeline.

    Scrooge meets Teddy Roosevelt, Jesse James, Wyatt Earp, and Buffalo Bill during his adventures and Rosa takes the story up to 1947, shortly after the events of Barks’s brilliant first Scrooge story, Christmas On Bear Mountain. In that story, Scrooge is a blackhearted scoundrel who sets Donald and the nephews up for a fall. By contextualizing it (and all of Barks’s work) in a larger narrative, however, Rosa adds a melancholy that gives Barks’s signature character even more weight.

    Read The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck on Amazon

    Mickey’s Craziest Adventures (Lewis Trondheim and Nicolas Keramidas)

    Released by IDW at the end of 2016, Mickey’s Craziest Adventures is a fun (and incredibly persuasive) gimmick: a modern story dressed up as a lost adventure from the 1960s. Featuring Mickey and Donald as they undertake a wild journey in which they encounter dinosaurs, giant insects and mermen, the story is written and drawn in a larger-than-life 1960s style and even has missing and tattered pages to help sell the idea that it’s been lost in some moth-bitten attic for the last few decades.

    It’s an unusual and intentionally experimental read that may not sit comfortably with hardcore fans of Mickey and Donald, who are drawn off-model and act out-of-character throughout. For everyone else though, it’s a wonderful adventure that makes you wish it really was a missing series you could discover more of.

    Read Mickey's Craziest Adventures on Amazon

    Darkwing Duck: Definitively Dangerous Edition (Aaron Sparrow, Tad Stones, James Silvani and Sabrina Alberghetti)

    The new DuckTales series will apparently bring the Duck universe’s main superhero Darkwing Duck into the fold, but those in the know have already been hooked by new Darkwing stories in comic form. Written by Aaron Sparrow and Tad Stones and illustrated by James Silvani and Sabrina Alberghetti, this huge collection compiles Boom! Studio's revamped Darkwing books, which ran between 2010 and 2011. The series is playful, satirical, sometimes surprisingly dark and always immensely enjoyable.

    Bringing together some of the biggest villains from the show and making a few little nods to DuckTalesalong the way, the Definitely Dangerous Edition is a must for fans of the Ducks and good comic books alike. Joe Books (who published this edition and are currently putting out a number of great Disney comics) continued the story between 2016 and 2017, but positive reviews from fans and critics couldn't shift enough copies. Hopefully a DuckTales return will be enough to permanently revitalize interest in one of comics' very finest avengers.

    Read Darkwing Duck: Definitively Dangerous Edition on Amazon

    A Matter Of Some Gravity (Don Rosa)

    If you’re a newcomer to the Duckverse, this 2010 comic is a great place to start. Not only is it written by Don Rosa, but it was released for Free Comic Book Day, so you can pick it up from Comixology at a price that even Scrooge would approve of. Best of all, it’s a great story that features Donald, Uncle Scrooge, and Scrooge’s most fiendish nemesis, the wonderfully evil Magica de Spell. Of course, with Magica's powers in play, things go haywire (in this case, gravity gets screwed up) and Rosa has a huge amount of fun playing with the limitations of the comic book frame. A nomination for Best Short Story at the Eisner Awards followed, and while it didn't win, it remains one of the very finest modern Duck stories and therefore a perfect place to start your adventures.

    The Duck Avenger (Various)

    Darkwing isn't the only superhero in the Duck universe: remarkably, Donald's one too. Disney comics have a huge following in Europe, and in particular Italy. To keep ideas flowing, Italian publishers were looking to make a Superman-style hero out of Mickey Mouse, but writer Elisa Penna believed it'd be more interesting to make it Donald instead. And so, by blending Donald's Italian name (Paperino) and legendary Italian comic hero Diabolik, Paperinik was born.

    Though the character has only intermittently made his way to American shores (he can be seen in some of the current comics being reprinted by IDW), he's huge in Italy, acting in all the ways Donald normally doesn't: heroic, selfless, moral. Don't worry though. While he may have become a big-time hero, the original character was rather less pure. He went into superheroism only so Donald could avenge all the wrongs perpetrated upon him personally.

    How many of these stories will be directly referenced in the new DuckTales?

    That remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure. Without the wit and invention witnessed on the comic page, the show that millions of people around the world have come to love simply wouldn’t exist. We owe Barks, Rosa and all the other artists and writers who have contributed Duck stories a huge debt of gratitude.

    This article comes from Den of Geek UK.


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    One of Marvel's top writers for nearly 20 years has just signed an exclusive deal with DC.

    NewsMike CecchiniMarc Buxton
    Nov 7, 2017

    Brian Michael Bendis, the superstar writer known for seemingly endless runs as chief writer of titles like Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers, is making a big change. DC Comics announced via Twitter that they have signed Mr. Bendis to an exclusive deal.

    "We are beyond thrilled to welcome Brian Michael Bendis exclusively to the DC family with a multiyear, multi-faceted deal,"the statement reads. "He's one of the premier writers in the industry having created so many unforgettable stories wherever he's been and we can't wait to see what he has planned for the DC Universe."

    Mr. Bendis rose to prominence with Marvel as the writer of Ultimate Spider-Man, which not only distilled the key elements of the character down into something modern and new-reader friendly, but was a profound influence on all the Spider-Man movies that followed. Ultimate Spider-Man was such a success that it launched an entire imprint at Marvel. It was in the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man that Bendis (along with artist Sara Pichelli) created Miles Morales, who has gone on to fame as a fan-favorite Spider-Man of his own.

    Bendis' extended time as writer of Avengers (with titles like New Avengers and a relaunched core Avengers title) was a profound influence on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and his trademark conversational, snappy dialogue on the comics page seems to echo on the big screen, as well. The writer first made his name as a writer of crime comics (and if you haven't read JinxGoldfish, or Torso, you're missing out) and has always excelled when telling street level rather than world-shaking stories. The seeds of Marvel's Netflix world were planted in his excellent run as writer of Daredevil (which remains one of the greatest creative periods in the character's history), and he co-created Jessica Jones with artist Michael Gaydos in the pages of Alias, which was like no other comic on the stands when published in 2001. 

    “Brian is a great partner and has contributed incredible stories and characters to the Marvel Universe over the years,"a representative for Marvel told Newsarama. "We appreciate his creativity and professionalism, and we wish him the best on his future projects.”

    It's not clear what his plans are with DC at the moment, but they would do well to look at his crime stories for inspiration. It's easy to imagine Bendis putting dialogue in Dick Grayson's mouth in Nightwing, or DC reviving titles like Gotham Central or The Question under his watch. Put him on Suicide Squad. Re-team him with his Ultimate Spider-Man creative partner Mark Bagley and let them run wild with Shazam

    In any case, it's rare that a talent so associated with one company makes a leap like this, and this is a huge get for DC Comics. "This is real,"Mr. Bendis wrote on Twitter. "I love you all. Change is good. Change is healthy. I am bursting with ideas and inspirations. Details to come! Stay tuned!"


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    Netflix reveals comic book The Magic Order, its first published title after the acquisition of Millarworld.

    NewsJoseph Baxter
    Nov 7, 2017

    Mark Millar’s next Millarworld comic book project will make its arrival under the purview of a most curious backer: Netflix. That’s because back in August, the monolithic streaming company acquired the publisher, adding a new multimedia dimension to its own proverbial queue. Now, Millarworld’s first Netflix-era title, The Magic Order, has been revealed.

    The Magic Order will manifest as a six-issue comic book series in spring 2018. It will be written by Mark Millar and feature the art of Olivier Coipel, whose prominent works include Marvel’s House of M, runs on New Avengers and X-Men (with a crossover between the two teams) and Thor, along with DC Legion of Superheroes titles such as The Legion, Legion Lost, and Legionnaires.

    The story of The Magic Order will, as its title suggests, center in a world imbued with magic. However, with the additional element of monsters and real-world-rooted crime, Millar has put together a pastiche that is being touted as “magic meets the mob.” Here, five families of magicians are sworn to protect an embattled world from an enemy that’s picking them off. In a true superhero dynamic, by day the families live amongst the normal folk unnoticed, but by night, they put on their (figurative and literal) hats as sorcerers, magicians and wizards to fight the forces of darkness.

    For Millar, the writing visionary behind a multitude of live-action-inspiring comic book works such as Marvel’s Civil War, Ultimates and Old Man Logan, along with Kingsman: The Secret Service, Kick-Ass, Empress and Superior, this first Millarworld outing as a Netflix subsidiary had to bring something unique to the new landscape. As he expresses in a statement:

    “We wanted to make a splash with our first book for Netflix and this is it. I love dark fantasy and there’s an enormous gap in the market for something like this. Netflix hiring Olivier has also made me the happiest guy alive. I’ve been after him for almost ten years so to finally have our names in the same book is an absolute honor.”

    There is, of course, the additional narrative here that Netflix’s acquisition of Millarworld is designed – in a manner akin to Disney’s acquisition of Marvel and Warner’s acquisition of DC Comics – as a way to concoct comic book-adapted properties with complete autonomy. Indeed, it would not be putting the cart before the horse to posit that The Magic Order seems all but certain to make an eventual transition into a live-action Netflix project.

    The Magic Order will arrive in spring 2018, available in print format at comic book stores and other retail outlets and will also be available for purchase in digital format.


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    Marvel drops a trailer for its Avengers, Uncanny Avengers, and US Avengers cross over.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Nov 7, 2017

    The first third of Marvel's 2018 will be spent engrossed in what looks to be a huge Avengers crossover. Announced today, "Avengers: No Surrender" will weave through all three Avengers comics - regular Avengers by Mark Waid; Uncanny Avengersby Jim Zub; and U.S. Avengers by Al Ewing. The series will come out weekly for the first 16 weeks of the year. Pepe Larraz will draw the first month's worth of books, while Kim Jacinto will draw the second month, and Paco Medina the third. 

    Details about the story are light for now. We do know so far that the story spins out of the Marvel: Legacy one-shot and kicks off with the Earth being stolen. Every Avenger ever will be called on to deal with a threat from that book (presumably "The Host" that Loki was calling forth). They're also slated to face off against Thanos' Black Order and the Lethal Legion, an old Avengers villain group that has, through its various incarnations through the years, covered just about every bad guy from Paste Pot Pete to Sabertooth to the Absorbing Man.

    Voyager, a heretofore hidden Avenger, is prominently featured in the trailer Marvel released for the event. It's full of motion comics and your typical hype for a crossover, but it also has some great art from the team and spends a lot of time on Sunspot being a Boss, a promising feature of the event.

    The crossover kicks off in January's Avengers #675. For more on "Avengers: No Surrender" or its prequel book, Invaders: No Mercy which doesn't exist except as a way for me to make a 300 joke, stick with Den of Geek!


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    Kenneth Branagh directs and stars in an old-fashioned adaptation of the classic Agatha Christie murder mystery. Read our review…

    Murder on the Orient Express is the second theatrical feature based on the well-known Agatha Christie novel (there have been two TV adaptations as well) and stars Kenneth Branagh, who also directs, as Christie’s famed fictional Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. The movie, shot on 65mm film, is both a faithful adaptation of the novel and a homage to a grander, old-fashioned style of Hollywood moviemaking -- which has both its charms and its drawbacks. But the former outweigh the latter just enough to make this version of Christie’s trainbound whodunnit entertaining and even somewhat profound, although some modern audiences may get restless or find the unfolding story hard to believe.

    It’s 1934 and we meet Poirot in Palestine, where he solves a local crime and decides it’s time for a holiday. But his plans are curtailed by an urgent request to come back to London and continue work on another case, which requires him to book passage on the Orient Express with the help of the rail company’s director Bouc (Tom Bateman), who boards along with Poirot. Joining them are a dozen other passengers of varying ages, nationalities and temperaments, with Poirot immediately finding a shady, gangster-like character named Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp) suspicious and disagreeable.

    The journey is barely underway when two events occur: someone is murdered in their sleeping car and the train is temporarily trapped by snow on the tracks. Bouc, fearing a scandal, implores Poirot to solve the murder before the authorities arrive, a challenge that the detective accepts. But as Poirot begins to examine the evidence and interview the other occupants of the train, he discovers that the killing may be related to a notorious case from several years earlier, and that every one of the passengers may have a connection to or a motive themselves for the crime.

    Fans of the book will remember how all this turns out, and frankly non-readers may eventually figure it out too (this writer never read the novel or saw the 1974 film, but deduced the solution). Yet even though Christie’s original puzzle and resolution may seem dated and even more implausible now than some critics suggested 83 years ago when the novel was first published, there is something captivating and engrossing about watching Poirot carefully and patiently go about his business, which consists largely of listening and watching. It helps that Branagh is outstanding in the role: eccentric, dryly funny and arrogant, yet brimming with a keen, unquestionable intelligence and righteous sense of justice, his Poirot is effortlessly watchable (and wears a moustache for the ages).

    Michael Green’s screenplay keeps Poirot front and center and also expands upon the moral dilemma that the great sleuth ultimately faces as the answer to the mystery becomes inescapably clear to him: haunted by that previous case and exhausted by his own unceasing workload, this Poirot finds his own definition of justice put to the test on the Orient Express, and the experience changes him. That’s certainly a wrinkle we don’t often see in films starring a recurring hero (and we suspect that the studio, 20th Century Fox, would love to make more Poirot movies if this one is a hit), but the decision that Poirot faces adds an extra level of gravitas to the character.

    If only we could say the same about the rest of his fellow passengers, who are personified by a glittering cast that too often simply fades into the background. Josh Gad as the murder victim’s secretary, Daisy Ridley as an enigmatic young traveler and Michelle Pfeiffer (who is having a wonderful career resurgence at the moment) as a seemingly husband-hungry older woman get the most screen time and the best moments, but other excellent actors like Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Olivia Colman and Willem Dafoe drift in and out of the narrative with little impact even though it’s confined to just five train cars. Whether Green's screenplay went in this direction or Branagh is simply smitten with his own performance (a flaw that has bedeviled his other films from time to time), the powerful presence of Poirot leaves little room for a lot of the others on board the Express.

    Branagh also has trouble making anything exciting out of the handful of duty-bound action scenes inserted into the narrative, and the second half of the movie begins to labor and creak as the investigation becomes repetitive and the many little twists and reveals start to crash murkily into one another. But there’s always a witty line of dialogue, a singular moment or a gorgeously widescreen shot (courtesy of cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos) to liven things up, while the production design by Jim Clay ensures that there are plenty of lovely period details to fill up the frame.

    So yes, Murder on the Orient Express recalls a somewhat older style of filmmaking, with both the delights and deficits endemic to a particular era (or eras) of period melodrama. What works about it works very well, and the biggest mystery now is whether audiences in 2017 will find themselves drawn into the story -- like Poirot himself -- or don’t want to bother to solve it at all.

    Murder on the Orient Express is out in theaters this Friday (November 10).


    3.5/5
    ReviewDon Kaye
    Nov 7, 2017

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