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- 11/13/17--20:51: _DC Fires Eddie Berg...
- 11/13/17--22:18: _Designing The Wild ...
- 11/14/17--04:10: _The Many Crossovers...
- 11/14/17--15:14: _Seventh Decimate by...
- 11/14/17--16:42: _Labyrinth Comic Ser...
- 11/14/17--16:49: _The Artists Behind ...
- 11/15/17--01:17: _Legends of Tomorrow...
- 11/15/17--10:01: _Star Wars, Ayn Rand...
- 11/15/17--14:22: _J.R.R. Tolkien Biop...
- 11/15/17--14:53: _Gal Gadot Talks Bre...
- 11/15/17--15:00: _Star Wars: How Luke...
- 11/15/17--17:34: _Den of Geek Book Cl...
- 11/16/17--10:00: _Justice League: Who...
- 11/16/17--10:07: _The Watchmen Movie’...
- 11/16/17--12:27: _Spider-Man's Identi...
- 11/16/17--15:38: _Multiple Man X-Men ...
- 11/17/17--01:07: _Gotham Season 4 Epi...
- 11/17/17--01:49: _Arrow Season 6 Epis...
- 11/17/17--01:54: _Justice League Post...
- 11/17/17--11:14: _The Punisher Episod...
- 11/13/17--20:51: DC Fires Eddie Berganza
- 11/13/17--22:18: Designing The Wild Storm With Jon Davis-Hunt
- 11/14/17--04:10: The Many Crossovers of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- 11/14/17--15:14: Seventh Decimate by Stephen R. Donaldson Book Review
- 11/14/17--16:42: Labyrinth Comic Series to Tell Origin of David Bowie’s Goblin King
- 11/14/17--16:49: The Artists Behind The Name of the Wind's 10th Anniversary Edition
- 11/15/17--01:17: Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 Episode 6 Review: Helen Hunt
- 11/15/17--10:01: Star Wars, Ayn Rand, and the Work of Mallory Ortberg
- 11/15/17--14:22: J.R.R. Tolkien Biopic Cast, Story and Everything to Know
- 11/15/17--14:53: Gal Gadot Talks Brett Ratner’s Exit from Wonder Woman 2
- 11/15/17--15:00: Star Wars: How Luke Skywalker Found the Jedi Temple on Ahch-To
- 11/15/17--17:34: Den of Geek Book Club Pick: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
- 11/16/17--10:00: Justice League: Who is Steppenwolf?
- 11/16/17--15:38: Multiple Man X-Men Movie Starring James Franco in Development
- 11/17/17--01:07: Gotham Season 4 Episode 9 Review: Let Them Eat Pie
- 11/17/17--01:49: Arrow Season 6 Episode 6 Review: Promises Kept
- 11/17/17--01:54: Justice League Post Credits Scenes Explained
- 11/17/17--11:14: The Punisher Episode 1 Review & Nerdy Spots: 3AM
DC Entertainment has fired Eddie Berganza after numerous employees came forward to detail a pattern of sexual harrassment.
Eddie Berganza, the DC Comics editor in charge of high profile titles like Superman, Action Comics, Wonder Woman, and event comics like the Dark Nights: Metal crossover has been fired in the wake of years of sexual harrassment allegations. Rumors of inappropriate conduct by Berganza have circulated openly for roughly a decade, and several former employees came forward last week in a story published by Buzzfeed alleging a pattern of sexual harassment.
DC Entertainment initially issued a statement in response to the Buzzfeed article, which was soon followed by an announcement of his suspension from DC Entertainment. Finally, DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson issued a statement indicating that Mr. Berganza has been let go.
Warner Bros and DC Entertainment have terminated DC Comics Group Editor Eddie Berganza. We are committed to eradicating harassment and ensuring that all employees, as well as our freelance community, are aware of our policies, are comfortable reporting any concerns and feel supported by our Company.
It's not clear if this is in response to more recent allegations (the Buzzfeed article only details abuse as recent as 2012). Buzzfeed also obtained an email from Diane Nelson to freelancers that states "Our doors are always open and we look forward to working with our employees and our talent community to do better as an organization and as a leader in the comics industry."
The artist of the best comics fight scene of 2017 talks process, design, & fanboys out a little.
The Wild Storm, Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt's reimagining of the Wildstorm Universe, has been one of the best consequences of the reintroduction of the DC Multiverse. The characters, many of whom were introduced 25 years ago when Jim Lee first broke away from Marvel, have made multiple rounds as icons; first as bright, colorful superheroes during the Image Revolution; later as complex, ultraviolent deconstructions of the superhero genre in Ellis's first go round with them, on Stormwatch and The Authority.
This time through, the world has been restarted and boiled down to its essence: aliens, covert extragovernmental agencies, weird science, decompressed storytelling, and absolutely staggering action set pieces. Davis-Hunt steps into this world having been part of the larger comics community since 2008, working on books like 2000 A.D. and the critical darling Clean Room. His art is a worthy addition to the Wildstorm history; his style has echoes of Miyazaki's expressions, Otomo's grandiosity, and Quitely's blocking and pacing, while moving seamlessly from action to comedy to weird space stuff. We had a chance to chat with him about his work and what makes him so excited to be drawing these stories.
Den of Geek: So far, The Wild Storm’s redesigns have almost all been big departures from what they originally were. Has it been intimidating to make such iconic characters yours, especially when their creators are still involved in their publication?
Jon Davis-Hunt: Yes and no. Fundamentally, doing the redesigns has just been a huge amount of fun. The project was initially pitched to me as literally "Hey Jon, how would you like to completely re-design the entire Wildstorm universe," and I think at that point, the fanboy side of my brain just kind of melted and sheer excitement took over, so I didn’t really get too freaked out. Warren made it really clear from the start that he wanted the designs to be a clear departure from the original look of the universe, so in that sense as well, it took some of the pressure off, as I wasn’t trying to create improved versions of any costumes, I was instead, just designing each character based on an entirely different set of parameters – grounded, real-world, no-spandex etc.
However, as Jim has done a cover for each issue (and now Bryan is too), I am suddenly very, very acutely aware that these guys (who are both, MUCH better artists than me) are now seeing the versions I’ve done of their original designs and so I am left thinking ‘Bloody hell, I really hope they like them!’. So yeah, now I am pretty freaked out, but I try not to think about it.
I actually do a lot of the character designs with the help of my wife, who is also a designer. We worked closely together on Clean Room too and she really helps when it comes to grounding the characters in a more realistic setting as her influences are more fashion based and it’s great having someone else to bounce ideas off of, especially at the really early stages where you are throwing the net really wide.
How have you noticed your style or approach change over the course of the first nine issues?
I don’t think it’s changed massively, but I do think you always improve as an artist the more you draw, so there are panels and sequences in the later issues I’m more happy with. You do get more used to drawing certain characters as the series goes by also, so I’m getting more comfortable with certain mannerisms, body language, emotions etc. Also, as the series progresses, the weirder elements of the universe are starting to float to the surface, so I’m starting to draw stranger, more surreal images as the book progresses and that does affect my approach, particularly in the early stages of each issue when it comes to layouts and character designs.
Pacing is really important to this book, do you find it difficult to switch gears between the Jackie/Mitch scenes which are almost comedic, and the big action set pieces?
It’s not difficult changing pace when I’m actually drawing the final pages, but the biggest effect is undoubtedly on the amount of planning that goes into the action sequences. I can normally rough out an issue in about a day, whereas the fight sequence in issue 9 (for instance), took me an entire day, just to work out those 10 pages. It was the same for the big shoot out in issue 3 where I had loads of stuff flying through the air. I have found though, that as long as I have the sequences really well planned out, the actual time it takes to draw a page of action, versus a page of conversation is pretty much the same.
The six and nine panel grids you’re using are really effective in the conversational scenes, but the way you shifted the panel borders in the fight scene in issue seven, and the way you go almost to micropanels in the fight in issue 9 altered the flow in incredible ways. How much of that flow is in the script, and how much of that is your own influences coming to the fore?
Warren provides lots of detail when it comes to the action sequences, especially when it comes to specific moves/set pieces. I simply try to deliver those as best I can and where I feel it’s warranted, I try to enhance the pacing and the impact. That’s where the micro panels came in. Warren was very certain he wanted to stay within the 9 panel grid structure, but when we were putting together Issue 1 and I got to the Engineer transformation sequence, I suggested we could drop in a load of extra panels, by splitting each panel into a further 4. That way, the overall structure of the page is maintained, but the extra panels really let us focus on detail and also enhance that ‘slow motion’ feeling of the scene that Warren wanted to convey. It gives so much more control over the flow and pacing.
The extra panels also allow me to shift focus and show action/re-action from multiple vantage points within a single moment. I think they help to give the book an additional visual characteristic. My aim is to find an appropriate place to slip in two full 32 panel pages. A 64 panel double page spread!!! I haven’t found the right time to do it yet, but one day!
The first page of issue seven is one of my favorites because of how concisely it recapped the first six issues. How did you pick which scenes to reference?
Basically, I had 3 objectives – show each of the major characters, introduce them on the page in roughly the same order they appeared and recap the major story elements. Oh and also, make the composition sit well on the page. In all honesty, it was just a question of going through dozens and dozens of different options until they finally all fit together properly. But it was Steve (Buccellato)'s colors that really tied the composition together, having the monochrome pallet with the red accent. He’s amazing!
Did you watch a Netflix Marvel show’s hallway scene before you drew the hallway scene in issue seven and think “screw those guys, I can do way better” or was that always part of the plan
That was all in Warren’s script, but yes, as I was drawing it, I was channeling those scenes and the awesome Oldboy scene as well. I’ve also got a huge soft spot for Equilibrium which has some tremendous close combat gunplay.
There is a samurai fight sequence in this week's issue where the step by step flow feels like it’s almost out of a manga - you see how each movement progresses to the next in a way that western comics don’t really do often. What else were you drawing from to make such a stylish, deliberate fight?
That’s a real example of how I simply took Warren’s script and then tried to do it justice. Warren had detailed the fight out and then I went in and further spliced the action down. By using the micorpanels, I could include not only the actions that Warren had asked for, but also the re-action by each of the other characters. I really wanted every action to flow naturally into the next, so it felt very, very cohesive, and those extra panels just allow you to do that.
Style wise, I am a HUGE fan of Katsuhiro Otomo and his work is brilliant at really allowing action sequences to breathe. I also channeled some cinematic influences too – particularly, the fight scenes from ‘The Brotherhood of the Wolf’. That has some amazing cinematography and pacing in its fight scenes, lots of slow moments, mixed in with the intense action.
Steve Buccellato’s coloring is amazing. Can you talk about your process working with him?
It would be hard to over exaggerate just how brilliant Steve is. He really has been a huge part of the artistic process. Not only does he do a phenomenal job of coloring what I’ve drawn, but he actually adds in a huge amount of detail to the panels. The fight scene from issue 9 in particular, has a huge amount of embellishment on the clothing and scenery that is all down to Steve. I am a sucker for detail and quite often I’ll include stuff in the panels that is totally superfluous, but Steve will go in and give every inch his full attention. I felt especially bad after drawing all those rain drops in issue nine!
When we first started on the book, I attempted to convey the kind of look and style I wanted – very ‘real’ world, with particular attention paid to the quality of light, and realistic tones for clothing and objects in the world. Steve took my fairly vague notes and just totally realized the books visual aesthetic. There are some many sequences and images in the book that I think standout, purely because of Steve’s excellent colors.
Getting finished pages back from Steve is one of the most exciting parts of working on the book!
How do you go from horror in Clean Room to the cerebral action in The Wild Storm?
I think both books have been heavy on characterization, so in that way, it’s been fairly easy. However, when Clean Room then slipped into a horror sequence, The Wild Storm does the same, but does it in a sci-fi way. The Wild Storm definitely has more action that Clean Room, but I’ve been very lucky with my time at DC, in that I have worked now on 2 books, back to back, that I simply love drawing. I think if you enjoy the book and feel invested in the story, you don’t really notice the differences. It’s just simply a blast drawing.
Who haven’t you drawn yet that you’re really excited to get to?
Well, as I was a huge Wildstorm fanboy prior to drawing the book, I’m going to have to go with Midnighter. It’s the obvious answer, but it’s also the truth. I love him as a character and I would love to have the opportunity to do my version of him. However, I honestly don’t know if he and Apollo will show up. I keep mentioning him to Warren, but so far, nothing. Fingers crossed though!
The Wild Storm #9 is out in shops and online on Wednesday, 11/15/2017. For more information on it, or to see what we picked as our best comics of 2017, stick with Den of Geek!
There have been so many different incarnations of the Heroes in a Half Shell and between them, they've seemingly met just about everyone!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has covered a lot of ground in the past 30 years. There are so many different takes on "four reptiles in eye masks who fight crime with ninjitsu" that it's honestly hard to keep count of all the different continuities. From the gritty Miller homages to the goofball cartoon characters to the CGI hunchbacks in the latest two movies, there's been a wide range of interpretations.
Like all popular properties, the Ninja Turtles have done their share of crossovers. They've met all kinds of characters and rubbed elbows with so many different franchises. They've fought alongside everyone from Archie to Batman to Alf. You can basically plug and play them into any situation at this point.
Starting, fittingly enough, in the Mirage days, the Turtles' first crossover came in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #8. Turtle creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird teamed together with Dave Sim and Gerhard to do a story where the foursome met up with Sim's magnum opus character Cerebus. Otherwise known as the star of "that once-beloved barbarian aardvark comic that went off the rails once Sim grew to hate women."
In the story, we're introduced to Renet, a time-travel witch with no pants who acts as an apprentice to a strict master, who she's deathly afraid of. After screwing up, she steals a magic scepter and hides out in 1986 New York City, immediately coming into contact with the Turtles. Escaping her master once again, she brings all of them to 1406, where they run afoul of Cerebus the Aardvark. The three parties reluctantly team up with the easily-disgruntled Cerebus annoyed by the mere presence of the Turtles while the Turtles are constantly annoyed by Renet's never-ending, airheaded attitude. A year after this issue, the Turtles and Cerebus – once again depicted by Eastman, Laird, and Sim – would briefly meet up in the pages of Miami Mice #4, where Cerebus again wanted to distance himself from the four.
Also in 1986, the memorable Donatello Micro-Series issue (the one where he teamed up with Jack Kirby) ended with a pin-up by Stan Sakai, depicting the Turtles surrounding his own anthromorphic swordsman creation Miyamoto Usagi from the comic Usagi Yojimbo. 1987 brought us a comic called Turtle Soup, where various comic creators would do short stories featuring the Ninja Turtles. Sakai got to write a storyline where due to some magical residue brought on from his adventure with Renet, Leonardo is sent spiraling through time and ends up in an adventure with Usagi. The two are attacked by the same pack of enemies and cut them down until they are the only ones left. They turn their attentions to each other and are about to go at it, but Leonardo returns to the present, causing Usagi to run through nothing and crash into a tree.
That began a lengthy relationship between the two properties. Miyamoto Usagi became the Alien to the Ninja Turtles' Predator. In the Mirage comics, Leonardo made several more trips into Usagi's time and eventually brought his brothers with him. Usagi got his own action figure as part of Playmates'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line, showed up in a couple video games, and two of the animated series. In the '80s cartoon he was named Usagi Yojimbo, I suppose for simplicity's sake, where he was stranded on Earth after being pulled in from an alternate reality. He starred in two episodes.
The 4Kids cartoon had him show up more often, also from an alternate reality, though they played up his relationship with Leonardo more than the '80s cartoon. When they did the Flash Forward part of the series where the Turtles were in the future, they intended to introduce his comic book descendant Space Usagi, but that never came to be.
One of the more entertaining crossovers came in the form of Flaming Carrot Comics #25 to #27 by Bob Burden, where Raphael gets stricken with amnesia and ends up becoming the sidekick to mentally-lacking superhero the Flaming Carrot. Raphael ends up wearing a sack on his head and a cape that says "BREAD" on it, calling himself the Night Avenger. Instead, the authorities call him Bread Boy. The two of them, later joined by the rest of the Turtles and Mysterymen member Screwball, work together to prevent a group of evil umpires from using the disembodied head of Frankenstein's Monster to steal the Empire State Building. It was very, very weird.
The two parties would meet up again a few years later in a four-issue Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Flaming Carrot crossover with Jim Lawson on art, where a military team has gone missing after investigating a mysterious island. The government brings in the Turtles to investigate, while at the same time, the Mysterymen start their own investigation. The two sides collide, befriend each other, and then fight fire ghosts, a werewolf, and other ridiculous things. Meanwhile, the Flaming Carrot tries selling lemonade. He isn't successful.
Across the '90s, the Ninja Turtles crossed paths a couple times with Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon. Drawn by Michael Dooney, 1993's Savage Dragon/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has Dragon visit New York City to investigate some animated gargoyles abducting the elderly. While friendly with the Turtles, he has a running gag of never being able to tell them apart, suggesting that they get initials on their belt buckles. Even then, in a later crossover, he refers to Raphael as "Rembrandt."
Image Comics took in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise in the mid-90s, so they became integrated with the universe more. Turtles showing up in Savage Dragon's comics – which happened quite a bit – was no longer all that special anymore. Raphael even made a quick appearance fighting a Martian in an alley in Mars Attacks Image.
The most amusing appearance during this time was Gen 13 #13B, where Grunge goes on a journey that causes him to run into all sorts of indie comic characters like Bone, Madman, Savage Dragon, etc. His brief meeting with the Ninja Turtles has a bit of a meta thing going on where Grunge asking, "What happened to you guys?" is less about how they got in a life-and-death predicament and more about how they lost their overwhelming popularity.
Otherwise, the Mirage-era Ninja Turtles made a couple other less-notable crossover appearances. In 1991, they appeared in The Last of the Viking Heroes Meet the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Michael Thibodeaux, which again brought time travel into the fray. In 1996, we got Creed/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Trent Kaniuga, where they got tangled up in a plot with a young boy named Creed and a mystical, green crystal. While the Ninja Turtles had nothing to do with it, one of their supporting characters starred in the two-part Gizmo and the Fugitoid comic by Laird and Michael Dooney.
During the early '90s, the Ninja Turtles also appeared in a more family-friendly comic run under the Archie Comics banner. Naturally, this gave us Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Meet Archie by Ryan Brown and Dean Clarrain. Around that time in the Archie Turtles series, the four are brought to various realities by Cudley the Cowlick, a giant, cosmic, talking cow head. Because comics are weird. He drops them off in Riverdale for twelve hours. Archie and Betty see them and freak out over what they figured to be an alien invasion, yet nobody believes them. The four disguise themselves and even check out a Josie and the Pussycats concert incognito, but reveal their true identities when Veronica gets kidnapped by some criminals intending to get a hefty ransom. It isn't nearly as good as Archie Meets the Punisher, but it's fine for what it is.
In terms of properties with far less staying power, there was also Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Meet the Conservation Corps by Paul Castiglia and Dan Nakrosis. This was actually used to springboard the short-lived comic where an alien crash-lands onto Earth and uses some special tech to turn random animals into mutants for the sake of protecting the Earth from pollution. It was just as hokey as you'd expect, though the villain design wasn't bad. Oily Bird is a giant, oil-covered duck, the only survivor of an oil tanker spill that killed his family. The mix of oil and toxic waste turned him into an insane monster out to overrun the entire planet with pollution. So, I mean, the comic has that going for it. Looking at covers for the Conservation Corps series, he later became a cyborg. So it has that going for it too.
Also under the Archie banner, the Turtles made a quick guest appearance in Sonic the Hedgehog #10, back when that series was young and intentionally silly. Sonic was busy running through an underground labyrinth and when in a sewer, the four Turtles ran by, admitting out loud that they were basically lost. Not only in the wrong sewer, but in the wrong comic as well.
Nearly twenty years later, Sonic's evil double (no, the other one) Scourge ended up in prison with Bebop and Rocksteady in Sonic Universe #29, though that's more of an Easter egg thing than an official crossover.
Speaking of criminal acts, the '80s animated series led to Michelangelo showing up in the all-so-memorable Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, the anti-drug cartoon about a teenager who gets into marijuana. After he's seen stealing money from his little sister, a bunch of cartoon characters come to life to spend a half hour lecturing him that drugs are bad and smoking weed will make you look like a zombie and kill you. Alongside Michelangelo are Alvin and the Chipmunks, Garfield, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, the Muppet Babies, Winnie the Pooh, Slimer, the Smurfs, Alf, Huey, Dewey, and Louie. That's a of properties that got transformed into lousy CGI movies over the last few years...
Oh, God. We're due for a CGI Alf reboot, aren't we?
Regardless, as someone who was 8 when that cartoon came out, us kids only gave a damn about Michelangelo showing up. Dude didn't even get to appear on the VHS cover.
It wasn't Garfield's only meeting with Michelangelo. The winter 1992 edition of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Magazine had a one-page comic written by Garfield creator Jim Davis with Gary Barker and Larry Fentz on art and Laird himself doing the inking. The gag here is that Garfield tries disguising himself as the fifth Ninja Turtle in order to get them to leave him alone with all their pizza. Instead, they choose to beat the holy hell out of him, which is rather messed up, all things considered.
Maybe that's the origin of Garfield Minus Garfield.
In 1997, the Ninja Turtles returned to TV with the abysmal Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation. The live-action show introduced their female member Venus and lasted for a mere six months before cancellation. An episode of Power Rangers in Space called "Shell Shocked" brought the two parties together and while it should have been the best thing ever, it was outright terrible. The evil Astronema decided the best way to defeat the Power Rangers would be to summon the Ninja Turtles, brainwash them, and then make them betray the Rangers. Everyone was insufferable, nothing made any sense, and they only came to their senses by the weakest of all plot devices. It ended with the five Turtles surfing through space and me wanting to die.
The preview of the following episode mentioned Bulk being attacked by a claw and that had me more pumped than the previous 22 minutes.
One bit of strangeness is how the Turtles had a tendency to constantly crossover with Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of the Moo Mesa. Namely the fact that these multiple adventures happened well over a decade after the Moo Mesa cartoon's cancellation, and even then, it wasn't exactly the most memorable show to go back to. The mutant cows appeared sporadically through various issues of Mirage's Tales of the TMNT in a bunch of dimension-hopping storylines I'm not going to even begin to explain.
Around that time, when the 4Kids animated series did the Flash Forward season, the Turtles were thrown into a Danger Room-type simulation by the villain Viral where they're stuck having to face the cast of Moo Mesa in a barfight. Viral leaves them to die and returns later, insulted to see the Turtles playing cards with the likes of Moo Montana.
That 4Kids Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series lasted a good seven seasons. Once Nickelodeon bought the rights to everything Ninja Turtles and it was apparent that the 4Kids series was going to be cancelled, they went out in style with Turtles Forever. The animated movie was about the 2000s cartoon crossing over with the '80s cartoon in a plot where the badass Utrom Shredder takes over the '80s Technodrome and tries to use it to wipe out all reality.
There are a couple minor problems in there. The '80s Turtles are treated a little too much as jokes to the point that all four of them are practically Michelangelo. Due to union issues, the original voice actors couldn't come back, meaning we were cheated out of James Avery playing Shredder one last time. Still, it was a wonderful love letter to the various takes on the characters, especially in the final act, where they visited the black-and-white world of Turtle Prime, where they met the grim and gritty Mirage Turtles.
Coincidentally, an episode of the more recent animated series called "Wormquake" has shown the modern animated Turtles looking through alternate realities and seeing their '80s cartoon counterparts, with Michelangelo wondering why they look like dorks. The hour-long episode has them fight a giant worm and in the end, they get rid of it by sending it to one of the alternate realities. That gives us a quick scene of the '80s incarnations choosing to fight it, all while giving us back the original voice actors. Seriously, hearing Donatello yell, "Turtle Power!" gave me the warm fuzzies.
The Nickelodeon cartoon team and the '80s cartoon team would finally meet up recently in the season 4 episode "Trans Dimensional Turtles." It's essentially a half-hour remake of Turtles Forever (right down to the use of the Mirage universe in the third act) only using the current show and focusing on a team-up between '80s Krang and Kraang Subprime. Again, the original voice actors return and it leads to a funny moment where Rob Paulsen's '80s Raphael makes fun of the way Rob Paulsen's '10s Donatello talks.
That brings us to the current IDW comic series. IDW has a lot of licensed series under its belt and back in 2011, they introduced a soft crossover event called Infestation. The idea was that a zombie virus was spreading around on an inter-dimensional level. That meant it tied together all these different properties without actually having them meet up. The first series included Zombies vs. Robots, Star Trek, Transformers, Ghostbusters, and GI Joe. A year later, they did Infestation 2, which included Transformers, Dungeons and Dragons, GI Joe, 30 Days of Night, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Instead of zombies, the second series focused more on Lovecraftian nightmares. Over the course of two issues, the Turtles investigate some disturbances in the sewer and defeat an otherworldly squid, saving reality.
IDW used the same soft crossover concept more recently in X-Files: Conspiracy. The crossover involves X-Files characters the Lone Gunmen, whose quest to track down a maguffin leads them to various worlds. They deal with Ghostbusters, Transformers, the Crow, and – you guessed it – the Ninja Turtles. While the Turtle tie-in issue doesn't feature Mulder and Scully, it does have them fight vampires, so there's that.
In 2014, the IDW comic would do a four-issue crossover miniseries with Ghostbusters. Written by Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz with art by Dan Schoening, it revolves around Chi-You, the ever-powerful sibling of Kitsune and the Rat King (who is basically an immortal demigod in IDW continuity). The Turtles and April end up in the Ghostbusters' reality and work alongside Venkman and the rest.
It's a solid outing and one of the things that really works is how everyone matches up with their counterparts. You have the two brains, the two dorks, the two assholes, the redhead lady assistants, and...Leonardo and Winston. Yet the story makes them feel like kindred spirits in the way they act as the down-to-earth ones who have to put up with their partners' over-the-top personalities.
Also great is how even in a cross-dimensional team-up, there's still skepticism. Donatello refuses to believe in ghosts while Egon refuses to believe in aliens. Real glass houses.
As of this writing, they're in the middle of a sequel storyline where the ghost of TMNT villain Darius Dun has teamed up with Ghostbusters villains known as the Collectors. The plot has caused different Turtles/Buster pairings to dive through various realities and has led to some neat moments, like Peter using his psychology know-how to help Michelangelo work out his issues with his fall-out with Splinter.
Recently, they found themselves in the DC Universe for Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a six-issue miniseries by James Tynion IV and Freddie E Williams II. It's fantastic.
They end up stranded in Gotham with the knowledge that the science that allows them to exist doesn't exactly hold up in the DC dimension. Their mutagen will gradually become inert, eventually turning them back to normal turtles.
After a run-in with Batman, the four talk about what the hell just happened. Donatello does some internet research, Michelangelo figures out the pros and cons of this dark avenger, Raphael considers him to be some psychopath, and Leonardo reflects on the fight and figures him out in his own way.
"I've never fought someone like him...Shredder, maybe...but it was different. He was testing us. Avoiding lethal blows...he wanted to figure us out. He was fighting like a detective. I've never seen anything like it."
We ultimately get a team-up of the Foot Clan and the League of Assassins, which makes all the sense in the world, and it gets over-the-top once they use mutagen on the inmates of Arkham Asylum. Snake Joker, Hyena Harley, Baboon Two-Face, Vulture Scarecrow, Elephant Bane, Penguin Penguin, and so on. But all the mutated Batman villains in Gotham are no match for Splinter wielding Harley's oversized cartoon mallet.
There's a sequel set to start at the end of the year, but this isn't the only TMNT/Batman crossover out there. Recently, Matthew K. Manning and Jon Sommariva did a five-issue miniseries called Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures. This time it's the Turtles from the recent Nickelodeon show meeting up with Batman: The Animated Series.
In it, Mad Hatter creates portals into the Ninja Turtles' universe and sends a handful of Arkham villains there to cause trouble. This includes a stretch of time where Joker takes over the Foot Clan and goes around wearing Shredder's helmet. On the other hand, Shredder is able to overcome Joker gas via pure willpower and hatred towards Splinter.
That isn't it for the Turtles hanging out in some kind of DC Universe variation. NetherRealm Studios'Injustice 2 has been adding more and more outlandish DLC characters. The most recent trailer has shown that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will share a single character slot, meaning that not only do they get to fight against Superman and Darkseid, but they also get to meet Sub-Zero, Raiden, and Hellboy.
That's quite the rolodex of aquaintances.
Throughout the years, Leo and the rest have met up with everyone from the Mysterymen to Baby Kermit the Frog. With so many incarnations out there, it's like nothing is off-limits when it comes to teaming up with the Ninja Turtles. It's weirder to realize the properties they haven't crossed paths with yet, like Spider-Man or Predator.
I mean, Michelangelo, Gandalf, Milhouse, and Shaquille O'Neal were Lego Master Builders that one time. That feels totally normal and makes perfect sense to me. It's just the kind of world we live in.
Gavin Jasper still can't believe we haven't had an official Turtles/Daredevil crossover yet. Follow Gavin on Twitter!
A version of this article first appeared in August of 2014, but it has been updated considerably since then.
Stephen Donaldson's latest is a swift read of a feud between nations and an epic journey to find a lost book that holds all the answers.
When tapping into a new series, you look for engaging characters and a plot that's different from what you've seen before. Sure, your typical Hero's Journey types are going to follow a basic mold, but to have some elements in there that shake things up can make all the difference.
Enter Seventh Decimate, the first in a new fantasy war trilogy story from Stephen R. Donaldson that follows the prince of an ailing kingdom.
Prince Bifalt's nation, Belleger, is at war with their neighbor, Amika. Amika primarily works its advantage in magic, invoking six "decimates," or powers that represent fire, wind, lightning, drought, pestilence and earthquake. Amika's ability to wield such power makes their sorcerers formidable.
Prince Bifalt makes it no secret that he hates his enemy and thinks them cowards with an unfair advantage. Sorcerers are untrusted by the people of Belleger, and the prince wishes to extinguish them completely.
Belleger, on the other hand, has discovered how to create rifles. The twist? The only way the Bellegerins were able to create those rifles without them subsequently blowing to pieces was to use the decimate of fire. That's right... the folks who hate sorcery are using sorcery.
It's only when Belleger's sorcerers lose their power that they figure out Amika's new sinister plot: to eliminate sorcery in Belleger so Amika can once again have the upper hand. This is what sets the prince and his small retinue of soldiers across distant lands in search of a book about the Seventh Decimate, so they can turn the tides in their favor.
Prince Bifalt is a character who is at war with himself over this whole sorcery debate. He hates the unfair advantage, but believes wholeheartedly that the Amikans are so evil that any measure must be taken. It's this "you can't have sorcery but we like to use it against you" attitude that made me dislike the prince in some moments.
He does, however, show a softer, more amiable side, coming through in his compassion for his people. True, he's willing to travel to unmapped lands to save them, but he also shows his heart when he comes upon a village in the far reaches of his father's lands and feeds the starving townspeople, tapping into what food his group has to travel with. The Prince may be stubborn and instantly vicious on the subject of the Amikans, but he's willing to lend a helping hand to those who need it.
One of the strengths of this book is the world-building, seen through the people Prince Bifalt meets on his journey. At one point, he comes across a caravan full of people of different skin color, religions, and customs. This is his first time meeting any of these types of people and his reactions are that of a man who has been closed within his own borders for far too long.
Through the prince's eyes, we get a taste of the colorful world Stephen Donaldson has created here, with introductions to the Monks from the Cult of the Many, the devotees of Spirit and Flesh, and the varied types of travelers in the caravan.
In reading Seventh Decimate, I was immediately drawn to the word play at work in the nomenclature of the Bellegerins and Amikans, particularly how similar their titles were to the words "belligerant" and "amicable." At one point in the story, the prince is called a "belligerent Bellegerin," and it isn't a far stretch from the prince's name of "Bifalt" to "by fault." This worldplay plants a subversive seed in the reader's head that we may be reading this story from the wrong side of the war.
Seventh Decimate is not an overbearingly long fantasy novel, at only 307 pages, and it keeps the action moving for the most part. Even when things slow down near the end and the prince remains in one location, events transpire and news is shared that keep changing the stakes. I found the travel scenes, though a common trope in fantasy stories, to be engaging, as the group recovers from surprise attacks and comes up with ways to get one over on their enemy.
I would have liked to see more character development in Prince Bifalt. I thought we were getting there by the end, but then he did something stubborn again which got him into even more trouble. It's possible that he can't have the character development I expected because this is only Book One in a trilogy. We have two more books to fill with conflict. Even so, I'm not as interested in seeing Belleger advance in their war because it seems so flawed. I'm hoping that, in Book Two, some major advancements increase the stakes.
Don't get me wrong, the war between these nations is bloody and brutal, mixed with swords, firearms, and magic that wreaks certain havoc. But, as my trust in Belleger's side of the war waned, so did my impatience to get the prince to see it that way.
This fantasy series launch is a good, easy read with plenty of interesting characters and some really harrowing scenes of survival. For those reasons alone, it's worth taking a look at Seventh Decimate.
David Bowie’s character in the classic fantasy film, Labyrinth, the Goblin King, will be the center of a prequel comic book series.
While director Jim Henson’s puppet-populated fantasy film, Labyrinth, flopped at the box office in 1986, posterity has treated it far better, appreciating its fantastical, pre-CGI otherworldly settings, and, notably, the enigmatic performance of the late David Bowie as its duplicitous, baby-napping antagonist, Jareth the Goblin King. Now, an upcoming comic book series from Boom! Studios will finally tell the character’s origin tale.
Set to be titled Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, the comic book series, published by Boom! Studios under its Archaia imprint, will arrive as the creation of writer Simon Spurrier and artist Daniel Bayliss, reports EW. Here, the intriguing, centuries-spanning backstory of Jareth will be illustrated, explaining how the spontaneously-singing, bouffant-rocking, owl-transforming manipulator of dreams first arrived in the Labyrinth itself, coming into power in a world that was completely alien to him.
The Jim Henson Company CEO Lisa Henson – daughter of the late Jim – discusses the comic’s direction, revealing a potentially crucial aspect about the character dubbed the Goblin King, explaining:
“The Goblin King, he’s not a goblin, he’s human. Many people have asked, ‘Well, how did he get there?’ So, that’s something that we thought we would explore.”
However, expect Jim Henson’s Labyrinth to anchor itself firmly within the mythology of the movie. That’s because the comic series will reportedly use the backdrop of the film as a wraparound story in which Jareth recounts his tale. The film depicts Jennifer Connelly’s teenage character Sarah making a hasty wish for to the Goblin King to take away her incessantly-crying baby brother Toby; a mistake she quickly tries to rectify in a rescue effort of the infant, which requires a perilous navigation through the Goblin King’s maze. In the comic, Jareth will narrate his own origin tale to a captive baby Toby, revealing his early beginnings in 18th century Venice with his mother and father.
Thus, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth will focus on characters who were crucial during Jareth’s journey towards his metamorphosis into the powerful Goblin King. Describing the narrative process as “having our cake and eating it,” writer Spurrier reveals the character-building aspects of the comic and how they relate to the persona that Bowie embodied in the film, explaining:
“The ‘Bowie form’ version of the character is very much present in our story. But there’s a huge amount of stuff about the people who loved him and he loved. What happened to them? How did this all shake out? How did he come to be who he is? I hope that by exercising both sides of that picture, as well as leaning into all the other amazing things that are fantastic about the Labyrinth as a concept, we should hopefully get our Bowie itch scratched while also enjoying the fantastical, surreal wonder of this world.”
Interestingly, the comic book series won’t be the only revival of the classic 1986 film on the horizon, since a spinoff movie, set to be directed by Don’t Breathe and Evil Dead horror helmer Fede Alvarez, is in the works, attempting to evolve the movie mythology with a focus on new characters.
Jim Henson’s Labyrinth #1 will avoid being delayed in the Bog of Eternal Stench for a release date in February 2018. There will be a retail version of the debut issue featuring a cover by Fiona Staples, a subscription cover by Rebekah Isaacs and variant covers by Laurent Durieux, Jill Thompson, and Bill Sienkiewicz.
We interviewed artists Nate Taylor and Sam Weber about their contributions to The Name of the Wind's 10th Anniversay Edition.
When it comes to crafting a new edition of a bestselling book, there are many people who contribute to the process. For The Name of the Wind's 10th Anniversary Edition, two of those people were Nate Taylor and Sam Weber, who contributed supplementary maps and the cover art, respectively, for the gorgeous new tome.
Den of Geek talked to both Taylor and Weber via email to ask about the process of contributing to a celebratory edition of such a beloved book. Here's what they told us...
Nate Taylor, map designer
Nate Taylor, who also did the art for Rothfuss' delightfully subversive The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle as well as for The Slow Regard of Silent Things, contributed new, detailed maps of Kvothe's world for this new installment.
Den of Geek: You've collaborated with Pat Rothfuss many times before. How did the two of you first meet and why do you enjoy collaborating with him? How did you get involved with this project?
Nate Taylor: Pat Rothfuss and I met through a mutual friend, Pat Johnson, while they were both doing graduate studies at Washington State University.
We were all writing stories then, so Rothfuss just naturally fit into our group of friends. He shared an early draft of his novel, and used the Hero system to set up an RPG for us to all get into his world. I was hooked immediately. I think the first thing I drew from his world was the Adem warrior I played in the first game.
It's always been enjoyable to work with Rothfuss because he has solid ideas of what he wants from illustrations, but he also respects good artistic contributions, so it's a two-way street that allows us to make the best collaboration.
Fast forward a few years to right before TheName of the Wind came out. I asked Pat if he needed help with the official map for his world, and he gave me the chance to make it pretty. That was the first real collaboration, and the reason I keep working with him because we get along. It's far easier to get through creative differences when the people like each other, and he's been a friend for more than 15 years.
How long did it take to make the maps for the 10th anniversary edition, from planning to execution? What does that process look like? Do you read or re-read the book, talk to Pat?
This time around took a lot longer because I wanted to take my time with this map. I wanted to make it intricate.
It started with Pat's creative direction, that he wanted the map to seem less Medieval and more Renaissance in its styling. Printing presses exist in the Four Corners, and he wanted the map to reflect that.
The next step was settling on the style of the map details, the look of the trees, mountains, water, and country borders. It took several Skype sessions and a multitude of emails to iron out those details, plus the new towns, landmarks and region names. It was extensive, but so rewarding to watch the map come together. I'm solidly pleased with it.
Were there unexpected problems, cartographically or creatively, you ran into when making the maps for this world?
The Aturan Map was the most challenging. It was from a much earlier time in Temerant, so I spent a lot of time looking at old maps from our own world where continents were distorted and simplified. It took several tries of squeezing and twisting different land forms that were more distant from the heart of the Empire.
I was hesitant to do too much, but Pat kept pushing the distortions farther until it was perfect. It's also a little rough to draw medieval-looking sea creatures.
Maps in fantasy books is such a rich tradition. Were there books or styles you looked to when designing the maps for The Name of the Wind? Were there ways in which you wanted to push the boundaries of tradition?
I've loved drawing maps since I was a kid, and geography was one of my favorite subjects. I'd copy maps of the US or Alaska, my home state. When I started writing my own stories, I'd draw maps for those lands too. I didn't look much at fantasy maps until I was older, but I didn't appreciate them at the time. I think I'm a bigger fan of modern maps, more precise lines, so this one was much more comfortable for me.
That said, we looked at some of the prettier maps from recent fantasy like Lockwood's Summer Dragon and even the Skyrim game. I spent a lot of time looking up maps from the 15th and 16th centuries, especially the ways text was integrated into the maps, and how cartographers interpreted geographic features.
I wasn't looking to push any boundaries with the map. I just wanted to to accomplish the goals of being accurate, appealing to the eye, and a believable product of the Four Corners.
The Name of the Wind is a beloved fantasy book that has now been out for 10 years. That means 10 years of other people imagining what this world looks like. Was that intimidating at all for you? Did you draw inspiration from fans' understanding or renderings of this world?
I've loved seeing the artwork that people have produced since the book first came out, but it's more invigorating than intimidating. That's true even when Marc Simonetti and Dan Dos Santos create their gorgeous illustrations.
Seeing that other artists love this book as much as I do just makes me want to create even more because it's not about getting it right. Everyone has their own head canon for how things look in the world, and each of those is a beautiful interpretation of the text.
The biggest reason why we never showed Auri's face in The Slow Regard for Silent Things was because Pat didn't want to interfere with any readers' pre-existing visions of her. So, to be fair, I relied on my own mind and Pat's feedback when doing the illustrations in the appendix.
What other projects are you working on right now that you're particularly excited about?
Well, I just finished the cover art and chapter illustrations for a new edition of Sometimes the Magic Works by Terry Brooks which is coming out from Grim Oak Press next year.
I'm currently working on a paranormal detective comic called Nick Rimfire written by the aforementioned Pat Johnson, and that will also be available next year.
Finally, I can also say I'm working on adapting Pat Rothfuss' mini-story
"The Boy Who Loved the Moon" to graphic novel format. No release date yet, but I'm working on it.
Sam Weber, cover artist
You may recognize Sam Weber's style from his cover of Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology or Ken Liu's The Wall of Storms. Weber designed the intricate book jacket for The Name of the Wind's 10th Anniversary Edition.
Den of Geek: First, how did you get involved in this project? Were you familiar with The Name of the Wind and Pat Rothfuss before undertaking the book jacket for the 10th anniversary edition?
Sam Weber: I was contacted by the Art Director, Paul Buckley about working on the cover. I’ve loved The Name of The Wind since I first read it years ago and was so honored to be asked to work on the project.
How long does something like this take, from planning stages to execution? What does that process look like? Do you read or re-read the book, talk to the author?
This particular cover took a little longer than usual. Overall, I think we worked on it for two months or so, although I was painting other things as well. The sketches and decision making actually took up the majority of that time. The image had to work as a cover and as poster which made things a little more complicated as well.
With such an important title and big name author, there's always a lot of scrutiny and back forth since everyone is so invested in things turning out well. It's exciting to work on titles like The Name of The Wind, but also a challenge to get everyone on board with your ideas. Paul was such a huge help in that regard, I couldn't have done it without him.
I didn't end up rereading the book in this instance, or even talking with the author directly (although he was involved in all the decision-making), primarily because the direction and overall concept was decided before I become involved. We knew going in that we wanted to show the broken lute and so the process became much more about composition and styling, and less about finding a particular moment in the story that we could use as an iconic image.
Tell us about the book jacket. How would you describe it to someone who couldn't see it for him or herself?
It has a broken lute on it, and a bird, and scary statue face.
The Name of the Wind jacket is incredibly intricate. Is there an instinct with such a narratively-dense book to reflect that in the jacket design?
Oh definitely. Most of the details have some sort of significance, to the story or some kind of personal connection to the narrative.
The rope is a reference to Kvothe's poverty and the bondage that kind of life imposes on people. The leaves are a nod to the Edema Ruh scattered and wandering the world.
It's this kind of thinking that makes the image meaningful to me. Even if the symbolism isn’t clear or obvious, I hope it speaks to the audience in some way.
Many of your cover jackets and other artworks include people. Did you ever consider including Kvothe or another character in the jacket design for The Name of the Wind?
We knew from the beginning that showing Kvothe on the cover was something wanted to steer away from. Dan Dos Santos’ gorgeous interior illustrations depict Kvothe with such loving, sensitive grace. We knew Kvothe would be well represented in the book and I felt it would be best to try something different, something that would compliment Dan's beautiful paintings.
You have done many book jackets. How has your process changed since you first started? Do you have favorites?
It's hard to pick a favorite, I like and at the same time struggle with so much of my work.
As far as process goes, I think things are a little more streamlined and organized now. I have a fairly specific process nowadays that really helps move the project along smoothly. When I first started I think projects just felt more chaotic.
With that said, I still like to inject a little uncertainty and chaos into my work whenever possible. It keeps things interesting and is what will inevitably take the work to new places.
What are your favorite book jackets done by other artists?
I think there are probably too many to mention them all here. So many great covers are created every year. There's so much incredible talent making things today, it feels like I'm humbled every time I turn on my computer or go to the book store.
With that said, I've really been loving the covers Jaime Jones has been doing for Tor as of late. They're so beautiful, expertly painted, and have such a wonderful soul to them.
Do you think you can judge a book by its cover? (I've never had a chance to ask a professional before.)
Ha! I wish. But, no, I honestly don't think a book should be judged by its cover.
What other projects are you working on right now, book cover-related or otherwise, that you're particularly excited about?
Well, a lot of stuff I can't talk about unfortunately. I've been painting vampires on my own time and am hoping to get back to that again as soon as I have a stretch of time open in my schedule.
Legends of Tomorrow finally hits its stride as everybody gets something fun to do.
This episode review of Legends of Tomorrow contains spoilers.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 Episode 6
Legends of Tomorrow is at its strongest when the cast and crew are having as much fun making the show as I am watching. The cast all have good acting chops, and the stories are often great, but the show peaks when the cast is on the edge of breaking down because someone else is being hilarious, or when their interactions are so natural it feels like they're not even trying to act. The Freaky Friday situation this week gave us plenty of the former, and Brandon Routh and Tala Ashe gave us a bunch of the latter. But that's not to say that the rest of the cast and crew didn't shine this week.
The three-act structure is fairly brilliantly done: Jax and Stein get body-swapped as the team discovers Helen of Troy stuck in 1930's Hollywood. They save Helen and stop a Hollywood studio war (an actual shooting war between Hollywood studios), only to discover that the Waverider is falling apart around them. So they have to convince Hedy Lamarr to get back into Hollywood after she was forced out by Helen. The show does some good plot work with a couple of big reveals - we discover that Lady Eleanor from last week is actually Nora Darhk, Damien's daughter pulled from a point in the future. Amaya discovers that Kuasa is actually her granddaughter, as the two of them fight on the Waverider. And Damien makes it clear that Mallus is forming a dark version of the Legends, complete with parallels to the current team - Kuasa and Amaya are mirror reflections, as are Zari and Nora, and Damien makes his parallels with Sara clear as they fight in the climax of the episode. Both are Assassin-trained, smart, capable leaders of odd teams; both have spent time dead; and both are pretty iron-willed. This is a pretty exciting revelation.
Meanwhile, the show mines so much humor out of Franz Drameh's Stein impression and Victor Garber's Jax. Everyone's laughs felt genuine, right down to Neal McDonough, who vamps it up as Stax (Stein in Jax's body). But the people doing the best work here are Garber and Drameh. Drameh putting on stuffy old Stein's mannerisms, peppering his lines with old person jokes, and fanboying all over Hedy Lamarr is a delight to watch. Garber's almost-Brooklyn accent as he tries to imitate Jax is gibberish, but not much more gibberish than Drameh's fake American accent. But really, if Victor Garber goes out on "You were gonna do the nasty in the past-ey," man, what a way to leave a show.
"Helen Hunt" was as much fun as I've had watching Legends, and this is the earliest that the show has found its groove out of any season. I'm really hopeful for the rest of this one.
DC UNIVERSE TIME BUBBLES
-Well, there's the big one that came right at the end: Zari drops Helen of Troy off in ancient Themiscyra. This is on the heels of the Batman reference in Arrow, and the ongoing existence of Superman in Supergirl. Feels like a matter of time before we get some kind of trinity show.
-I'm pretty sure Jax and Stein's "You're me and I'm you" and Ray's "Oh pancakes" are from the Jamie Lee Curtis/Lindsay Lohan Freaky Friday that came out in 2003.
-I loved the old movie serial title card they used for this episode, rather than the traditional Waverider-flying-through-time thing.
-We get confirmation that Kuasa is carrying a "water totem." It doesn't have a comics equivalent, but I'm still on my Green/Red kick. I'm now wondering if we're going to get a Blue and a White added in - water for Kuasa and air for Zari.
-The biggest revelation in this week's episode: Hedy Lamarr was actually a genius. I don't know if this was common knowledge, but this is super cool. Good on the show for dropping it in there and not explaining it.
-Next week: they are 100% gonna do Apocalypse Now, only with Gorilla Grodd as Colonel Kurtz.
Mallory Ortberg brings Ayn Rand jokes to her first Star Wars story.
To say that Mallory Ortberg is funny is an understatement. The website she co-founded, The Toast, publishes offbeat, unique humor about academically varied topics like the habits of medieval monks and the politics of feminism. The Toast also occasionally hosts furiously funny takedowns of Kyp Durron, a dark Jedi from the Expanded Universe.
So, of course, Ortberg would bring her unique sensibility to an official Star Wars story.
“An Incident Report,” her entry in the 40th Anniversary short story collection From a Certain Point of View, tells the story of Admiral Motti’s report after Vader Force-chokes Motti in the famous Death Star meeting room scene. At the panel showcasing the book at New York Comic-Con, Ortberg gushed about the “evil and banal” Imperial officer.
Ortberg’s story is droll and crisply Imperial, all the more humorous because of the extreme nature of the situation. Vader’s Force powers are just a religious difference between himself and the other men around the table, after all. The articles Ortberg wrote before she did official Star Wars work also leaned in to the extremity of the characters’ situations. Long before the Starkiller Base drew comparisons to the Death Star and the jokes started about the saga’s increasingly dramatic superweapons, Kyp Durron was in on the trend.
An Expanded Universe Jedi, Kyp stole the aptly named Sun Crusher and destroyed an Imperial star system in revenge for the death of his brother, and then threatened to turn the weapon on any Imperial strongholds that remained. Han Solo eventually talked him down from the dark side. Han and Kyp’s father-son dynamic isn’t entirely dissimilar to the one we see with Kylo Ren in the Sequel Trilogy. As a fan of the EU, Ortberg had her own ideas about this story.
Durron, Ortberg said, was a war criminal who should not have been put back in Luke Skywalker’s custody.
Her essays are great because they combine the honest feelings of a fan whose feathers have been ruffled, but also use Ortberg’s trademark humor to create a new and astonishingly consistent Star Wars story. She makes insightful comments on the sociopolitical state of the galaxy far, far away, and clearly cares a lot about her subject. Another one of her essays shouts out the similarities between Kyp Durron and Kylo Ren.
Like the best pop culture work, Ortberg’s story in From a Certain Point of View is also a dialogue between a fan and the source material that drove her to write in the first place. As it turns out, one of my favorite lines in the collection is based on political writings from the real world.
Ortberg writes: “The point is, whatever conclusions you ultimately draw about the incident taking place between myself and Lord Vader during yesterday’s morning briefing, he was wrong, and trying to crush someone else’s windpipe doesn’t make you less wrong.”
At the panel she mentioned that this idea was drawn from writer and philosopher Ayn Rand, who in 1966's Capitalism: The Unknown Idealwrote, “A gun is not an argument.”
This is, obviously, one of those places where reference does not constitute endorsement. Ortberg plays around with Randian ideas in articles like these. Far more interesting to me is the fact that Ortberg drew on Rand as just one of the tools in her grab bag of information, adding some real-world philosophy to a rather lighthearted tie-in story.
Ortberg also said at the panel that if she could write a Star Wars story from the point of view of one of the heroes, she would choose Mon Mothma. Mothma’s voice, “rich with sorrow and gravitas,” might be hard to translate to prose, Ortberg suggested. But judging by her From a Certain Point of View story, she would bring her funny, clever ideas to a Mon Mothma tale, too. From a Certain Point of Viewis a good way to kick off conversations about favorite characters in Star Wars and what different authors bring to the table. I pointed out some more of my favorites, including Ortberg’s, in Den of Geek’s review.
Read the latest Den of Geek Special Edition Magazine right here!
Nicholas Hoult will star in a biopic on J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
While the major works of John Ronald Reuel (J.R.R.) Tolkien were adapted in an epic manner in contemporary film by director Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and, years later, in The Hobbit Trilogy, a film is now in development that will cover another story connected to the influential author: his own life story. While the biopic, titled Tolkien, has been in the pipeline for a few years, things are now moving rapidly, with not only the appointment of director Dome Karukoski, but its main cast, which will be headlined by Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins.
Tolkien Biopic News
Craig Roberts has nabbed a potential key role in Tolkien, reports Variety. He is set to play a character named Sam, a close friend of J.R.R.’s who served with the would-be Middle Earth-maker during the horrific, trench-trapped experiences of World War I. Of course, the name Sam will certainly raise flags for fans of Tolkien’s work, since, by no coincidence, it is the shortened name of Frodo’s unflinchingly loyal companion, Samwise Gamgee, in The Lord of the Rings, a character portrayed in director Peter Jackson's film trilogy to iconic, pathos-packed perfection by Sean Astin.
Roberts, a Welsh actor, is coming off a recently-completed run on the Amazon comedy series Red Oaks, with appearances in films such as The Fundamentals of Caring, 22 Jump Street, Neighbors, Submarine and The First Time. Interestingly, Tolkien will facilitate an onscreen reunion, since Roberts appeared opposite star Nicholas Hoult in the 2015 musical comedy film Kill Your Friends.
Tolkien Biopic Cast
Nicholas Hoult takes the biopic's title role, set to play one the 20th century's most celebrated authors. While Hoult has become a perennial blockbuster actor, playing Hank McCoy/Beast in the current X-Men films and was a catchphrase-coining standout in 2015’s apocalyptic franchise revival Mad Max: Fury Road, this prospective role in Tolkien won’t even be his first experience playing a famous author, having played the role of the reclusive J.D. Salinger in September’s Rebel in the Rye. Hoult’s historical role run will also manifest with December’s The Current War in which he plays Nikola Tesla opposite Benedict Cumberbatch’s Thomas Edison. Another return as Marvel's Beast in X-Men: Dark Phoenix arrives in fall 2018.
Lily Collins has been cast opposite Nicholas Hoult in Tolkien, the J.R.R. Tolkien biopic. The news was broken by Variety, which revealed Collins will play Edith Bratt, the love of Tolkien's life. She was a central figure in his life during the horrors of the First World War and would eventually become his wife, who in turn inspired Tolkien to create the graceful elvin characters of Middle-earth, including Arwen, the character played by Liv Tyler in Peter Jackson's adaptation of Lord of the Rings.
Colm Meaney will join the Tolkien cast, reports Deadline. He will play a crucial figure in the life of J.R.R. in Father Francis Xavier Morgan. An overseer of the Birmingham Oratory, Morgan was frequently cited in Tolkien’s memoirs as a profoundly influential figure in his life, specifically when it came to charity and forgiveness amidst the darkest of circumstances; themes that are reflected in his Middle Earth novels.
Meaney, a veteran Irish actor, has seen and done it all on the screen and stage. Yet, he is best known to genre fans from the Star Trek television franchise as (transporter) Chief Miles O’Brien, first recurring on Star Trek: The Next Generation (starting in the pilot,) and later crossing over to the main cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; a role that, astoundingly, lasted 12 years (1987-1999,) uninterrupted. He recently appeared on TNT’s young Shakespeare series, Will, as impresario James Burbage. He also fielded a lengthy, fact-based, 2011-2016 run as the shady, yet enigmatic railroad entrepreneur, Thomas Durant, on AMC's Hell on Wheels.
Tolkien Biopic Crew
Dome Karukoski will direct Tolkien, working off a script by David Gleeson (The Front Line, Cowboys & Angels) and actor-turned-writer Stephen Beresford (Pride). The Finnish director Karukoski is known for films from his home country such as 2017’s Tom of Finland, 2014’s The Grump and 2010’s Lapland Odyssey. With that creative crew set into place, casting for Tolkien is reportedly starting under the auspices of production company Chernin Entertainment at the behest of Fox Searchlight.
This, coupled with the rumblings about prospective star Nicholas Hoult was the first major movement on the J.R.R. Tolkien biopic endeavor since last fall, when the same trade reported that the project – then-titled Middle Earth– had tapped James Strong (Broadchurch, Downton Abbey) to direct, working off a script by a burgeoning screenwriter Angus Fletcher. However, the premise of the project in its current form as Tolkien seems to be the same, chronicling the author’s youthful experiences in which friendships, love, and an outcast status at school all lead to the horrors of the trenches in the First World War.
Tolkien Biopic Story
Tolkien explores the circumstances that shaped Tolkien into becoming the author of the world's most famous fantasy novels. The film will show how the marriage of young Tolkien to Edith Bratt was interrupted in 1914 by World War I. After deliberation, Tolkien enlisted, experiencing four years of the world-altering global conflagration. The experiences would become the inspiration for Tolkien’s conception of 1937’s The Hobbit; a mythology he would expand exponentially with 1954-1955’s The Lord of the Rings novel trilogy, along with several supplemental Middle-earth-based stories, many of which would be published posthumously under the editorial stewardship of his son Christopher.
Tolkien certainly has compelling source material to utilize in telling the iconic author's story, which was wrought in not only war, but a quirky romance. Moreover, it will be interesting for fans both casual and passionate to witness the events that drove a certain young second lieutenant in the British Army to conjure the magical, ethereal, quasi-medieval world of Middle-earth and weave the intricate details of its sprawling mythology.
Tolkien Biopic Release Date
The Tolkien production has yet to lock down any significant dates on the calendar. This article will be updated once that changes.
Gal Gadot clarifies Brett Ratner's departure from Wonder Woman 2, as well as everyone being on the same page at WB/DC.
Gal Gadot is certainly having her moment in the zeitgeist and culture at large. Starring in the biggest movie of the summer, Wonder Woman, the actor who would be Diana Prince became an instant role model. And she is carrying on as the strongest aspect of this weekend’s anticipated Justice League. Our review even states she owns the role now as securely as Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man. So when rumors started up this weekend that Ms. Gadot was considering walking away from Wonder Woman 2 unless Brett Ratner is bought out by Warner Bros. from the production, the internet took notice. And applauded.
Indeed, there is something very Wonder Woman-esque about fighting the good fight for feminist ideals, which should include not having a man with numerous allegations of sexual misconduct as a co-financer of said feminist-influenced film. However, while appearing on The Today Show with Savannah Guthrie, Gadot clarified Ratner’s exit from the DCEU, explaining that it already occurred well before Page Six’s story about her taking a stand, as well as suggesting that everyone involved in the making of Wonder Woman 2 was on the same page, and there was no need to turn it into a demand.
“At the end of the day, a lot has been written about my views and the way I feel, and everyone knows the way I feel because I’m not hiding anything,” Gadot said. “But the truth is there’s so many people involved in making this movie and they all echo the same sentiments.”
She added, “Everyone knew what was the right thing to do, but there was nothing for me to actually come and say, because it was already done before the article came out.”
Ratner’s company RatPac-Dune Entertainment had co-financed all the DCEU films before damning allegations came out against the filmmaker. Shortly afterward, Warner Bros. elected to not renew their contract with Ratner’s company, which is due to expire in April 2018. However, Wonder Woman 2 is set to begin production next year, potentially before that date as well, so there was some ambiguity whether RatPac would be involved. Now there is not, as WB said about the reports over the weekend.
RatPac’s final film regarding DC properties can be seen this weekend when Jusice League opens on Thursday evening.
Luke Skywalker begins his journey to Ahch-To all the way in Star Wars Battlefront II. Here are the details...
This Star Wars Battlefront II article contains spoilers.
Star Wars Battlefront II introduces a plethora of new characters in a story campaign that bridges the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. But while the game mostly focuses on Iden Versio and her elite unit of Imperial operatives, Inferno Squad, a few fan-favorite characters pop up for a quick cameo.
Luke Skywalker gets a rare post-RotJappearance about a third into the game. The fact that he's playable in the campaign at all is exciting enough, considering that we've barely experienced any new stories about Luke that explain why he's exiled himself on Ahch-To before The Force Awakens. We know the short of it: Luke chose isolation on one of the islands of the distant planet after his nephew, Ben Solo, turned to the dark side and slaughtered all of the students in Luke's new Jedi Order. He's been hiding out ever since, due to his failure to keep Ben out of Supreme Leader Snoke's clutches and save his students.
But everything we've seen from The Last Jedi thus far reveals that there's more to Ahch-To than that. While we're informed that Luke went searching for the first Jedi temple in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi's trailers flesh out why this temple is so important to Luke. It may very well contain the oldest chronicle of the Jedi Order and the galaxy as a whole in the form of the Journal of the Whills, a book that's been teased in many of the promos released thus far. It is speculated that the chronicle holds secrets about the Jedi that convince Luke that the Order must end once and for all.
We'll soon find out for sure what that book is all about when The Last Jedi hits theaters on Dec. 15. Until then, Star Wars Battlefront II has at the very least answered a pivotal question as to how Luke found the temple on Ahch-To in the first place.
There's a level in the story campaign where you play as Luke, who's come to the bug-infested planet of Pillio. Something on the planet has called out to him through the Force, and Luke wants to find out what it is. After a run-in with Imperial stormtroopers and an imperiled member of Inferno Squad, Del Meeko, Luke discovers what's been calling out to him: a hidden vault belonging to the late Emperor Palpatine.
While Meeko is tasked with destroying the vault before the Rebellion can get their hands on anything in it, Luke takes one mysterious relic with him: a compass. It is implied that this compass is what eventually leads Luke to Ahch-To to discover the deepest secrets of the Jedi.
This also sets up another interesting precedent: Emperor Palpatine knew about Ahch-To and presumably about its secrets. So why didn't he have the compass destroyed when he had the chance? Leaving the task up to the remaining Imperials after his death seems like a dumb idea. Regardless, at least we know more of the intricacies of Luke's situation at the end of The Force Awakens. We assume The Last Jedi will address more of Luke's post-RotJ journey and give us the full picture.
For now, enjoy demolishing your enemies as Luke Skywalker in Battlefront 2...as long as your willing to cough up the cash to do so.
The Den of Geek Book Club is a place to geek out about our favorite science fiction, fantasy, and horror books.
We have launched a Den of Geek Book Club as a place to recommend, discuss, and obsess over our favorite fantasy, science fiction, and horror books. Join us in discussing our latest pick...
November/October Pick: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
Our second book club pick is Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz, a science fiction story of robots, pirates, and identity in the year 2144.
Autonomous is a gutting tale that follows robot Paladin and drug pirate Jack as they fight for identity, autonomy, love, and freedom in a world where people can be owned and big pharmaceutical companies have immense power. (There, um, may be some parallels to our own world...)
Want to take part in the discussion? Head over to Goodreads and become a member of the Den of Geek Book Club. And stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes content around our November/December pick, including an interview with the book's author, a book giveaway, and more!
October/November Pick: The Name of the Wind
Our first Den of Geek Book Club book was The Name of the Wind, the first book in Patrick Rothfuss'Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy.
I know, I know. This book came out a long time ago. However, it just celebrated its 10th anniversary, complete with a gorgeous 10th anniversary edition from DAW. It will soon be turned into a movie and TV show, with musical producer support from Kingkiller Chronicle superfan Lin-Manuel Miranda.
In other words, whether this is your first time reading or your 15th, it's a great time to discuss this modern fantasy classic! Head over to our Goodreads Book Club page to see what kind of discussion happened around The Name of the Wind, and to add your own thoughts on this modern fantasy classic.
Who is the villain of the Justice League movie? We look at how Jack Kirby's Steppenwolf fits in the DCEU and his relationship to Darkseid.
Thor: Ragnarok is a loving tribute to all things Jack Kirby. Nearly every frame of the film burst forth from the imagination of “The King” to create a wonderful film that is truly a testament to the enduring power of Kirby’s imagination. In fact, when you come down to it, just about every Marvel film and most of Marvel’s TV is painted in Kirby’s artistic DNA. Soon, the characters anc concepts of “The King” will come to the DC Extended Universe with Justice League.
When it was announced that Kirby’s New God creation Steppenwolf would be the villain of DC’s Justice League, many fans were surprised. After all, many assumed, especially after the teases in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, that Kirby’s ultimate big bad Darkseid would be the only villain worthy to take on the newly formed Justice League. But Steppenwolf is a fascinating character in his own right and could be a perfect harbinger to the coming of Darkseid.
Steppenwolf has always been a minion of Darkseid, so many would be surprised to learn that the axe wielding villain is actually Darkseid’s uncle (although in the movie, he is apparently his nephew instead). Interestingly enough, Steppenwolf’s earliest appearances in Kirby’s Fourth World titles were in flashbacks. Steppenwolf first appeared in New Gods #7 (1972), and in this fateful issue it was revealed that Steppenwolf had a hand in starting the war between Apokolips and New Genesis, the twin planets of the New Gods. Apokolips was ruled by the evil Darkseid and was the home world of the dark gods while New Genesis was ruled by Highfather and was basically DC’s version of Asgard. The twin planets engaged in a war that burned for millennia and that conflict was kindled by Steppenwolf.
Steppenwolf was charged by Darkseid to murder the wife of Highfather, who in return led his forces against Darkseid. During the many battles, Steppenwolf was killed. Highfather became so bloodthirsty that he prayed for a way to end the brutal conflict. From there, Highfather became one with The Source (a mystical universal energy that ahem inspired George Lucas to create that thing he created) and renounced war. Darkseid and Highfather traded sons to broker a peace treaty as Highfather’s son Mister Miracle was sent to Apokolips while Darkseid’s son Orion was sent to New Genesis. The entire foundation of DC's New Gods saga was laid because of Steppenwolf’s brutality.
Steppenwolf became part of the present day DC Universe in 1996. In Mister Miracle #4 (1996) by Kevin Dooley and Steve Crespo, Mister Miracle ends up confronting Steppenwolf in some weird cosmic plane of reality. Miracle was imbued with godlike powers over life and death at the time, and went at Steppenwolf with a terrible vengeance. At the end of it all, Mister Miracle shows pity on Steppenwolf and resurrects the man that killed his mother. From there, Steppenwolf takes his place as the commander of Darkseid’s armies and becomes a force to be reckoned with in the DC cosmos. Not Mister Miracle’s best choice, I guess.
The character’s most notable moment came when Kenner graced the world with a Steppenwolf action figure as part of its immortal Super Powers line of toys. The original comic version of Steppenwolf had a strange green face and wore a jaunty little cone hat, but the new Steppenwolf was an axe wielding badass and joined the other more notable minions of Darkseid on toy shelves everywhere in the mid to late 1980s. When Steppenwolf returned to the DC Universe proper in 1996, it was in the Kenner outfit.
Steppenwolf has also been a pretty important part of DC’s New 52. The new Steppenwolf appeared in the rebooted DCU in Justice League: War (a story that will have a profound influence on the movie) by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. Here, Steppenwolf actually murders the Earth-2 versions of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman upping the badass quotient for the modern Steppenwolf considerably. This seems to be the inspiration for the cinematic Steppenwolf in Justice League.
So there you have it kids, from matricide to action figure to Justice League killer, Steppenwolf may not have made many appearances, but where this minion of Darkseid goes, carnage follows. Between kicking off the war between New Genesis and Apokolips and murdering the greatest heroes of one Earth, Steppenwolf leaves change and destruction in his wake. What could this mean for the DCEU? It certainly won't be an easy fight for the Justice League.
Justice League opens on November 17.
Zach Snyder's occasionally maligned superhero epic deserves more credit for somehow improving upon an already great ending.
We know you miss the squid. We know. Just hear us out for a moment.
Zack Snyder’s Watchmen certainly has its flaws. It follows the comic book a little too faithfully, resulting in a movie that feels like more of a traditional comic book adaptation rather than a fascinating study of how superheroes would operate in the real world.
It has its strengths, however. In addition to a brilliant opening credits sequence, Watchmen the film also improves on the ending of the comic book.
Watch the video below, or keep reading for more!
In the comic book, Adrian Veidt’s a.k.a. Ozymandias’ grand plan involves kidnapping some artists and having them design an intergalactic giant squid. Then he uses his massive amounts of money and technology to create that squid in the flesh and has it terrorize New York, therefore creating the illusion of a common cosmic enemy for all of humanity rally against.
The movie wisely omits the artist angle entirely as it would take up too much time. Instead of a giant space squid, Ozymandias instead uses some of the power he’s collected from Doctor Manhattan to essentially nuke Manhattan (the city, not the guy). This creates the impression that Doctor Manhattan has turned on humanity.
Making Earth’s common enemy the innocent Doctor Manhattan adds a new level of tragedy and sacrifice to the story that the original ending didn't have. Whenever possible it’s best for a story to make use of the existing characters that we care about rather than some Macguffin. And despite all Watchmen the comic’s brilliance, that’s all the squid really is - a Macguffin.
In the Watchmen movie ending, Doctor Manhattan takes on a more active role in Ozymandias’ grand plan even if its without his knowledge or consent. Once Ozymandias’ plan is revealed, however, Doctor Manhattan can’t help but seemed a little impressed. This is logical after all. Kill millions to save billions. It’s the exact kind of plan both the smartest man in the world and a budding deity would both get behind.
By using the specter of Doctor Manhattan as the enemy, the Watchmen movie’s ending is not only more poignant but also helps hammer home one of the big themes of the novel: the many shades of gray to humanity’s conception of morality. The smartest and most godlike of the characters (Ozymadias, Doctor Manhattan) seem OK with this warped version of utilitarianism while the most extremely “human” of characters (Rorshach) will accept no crime in the pursuit of the greater good whatsoever. Then there are the normal Janes and Joes who just want this to be over so they can go home (Nite Owl and Silk Spectre).
Snyder rightfully catches some barbs for missing the ultimate point of Watchmen here and there but his depiction of the ending and the improvements he makes upon it show that he fully understands at least one important aspect from the novel: heroism is hard.
It's guest stars galore for Zdarsky & Kubert's Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #300, and a shocking twist.
February sees Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man hit a Marvel Legacy-marked milestone as the series reaches its 300th issue. As is normal for these milestones, writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Adam Kubert are celebrating with an oversized issue, the climax of a year-long story arc, and a whole pile of guest stars.
“We don’t take important issue numbers like #300 for granted,” said editor Nick Lowe. “In this issue, Chip and Adam not only tie together all the threads they’ve laid down over the last year, but twist and turn you bigger than you thought possible and tee up the next arc that EVERYONE will be talking about.”
Spidey is joined by Black Panther, Hawkeye, the Wasp, Iron Heart and others as he battles the Tinkerer in the anniversary book. This issue follows Zdarsky and Michael Walsh's critically acclaimed, heartfelt Spider-Man/J. Jonah Jameson Frost/Nixon showdown issue earlier this year. And for those of you puzzled by Zdarsky and heartfelt Frost/Nixon being in the same sentence, I would direct you to just about anything Chip has written in the past four years, but especially Howard the Duck #8. If this issue is half as good as that one, it should be outstanding.
But here's the kicker, via the official synopsis:
A celebration of the Spider-Man legacy, PETER PARKER: SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #300 follows the reveal of Peter Parker’s true identity as he goes up against the Tinkerer in what promises to be his biggest challenge yet! It’s a Mighty Marvel story worthy of a 56 page epic as the webslinger is joined in his fight by several Marvel heroes, including Black Panther, Iron Heart, Hawkeye, Wasp and more!
Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man is due in comic shops and online on February 28th, 2018. For more on Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, emotionally resonant genre spoofs, or absurdly good looking Marcos Martin Spider-Man art, look right below this sentence! Then stick with Den of Geek!
James Franco will star as Multiple Man in a new X-Men solo film!
James Franco is set to play Jamie Madrox aka Multiple Man in a new standalone X-Men movie. The film is being written by Wonder Woman screenwriter Allan Heinberg and produced by Simon Kinberg, who is currently also directing X-Men: Dark Phoenix. No release date has been set for this film, but we assume it's still a ways away as its currently in the early stages of development.
The character choice is interesting as he's not exactly as popular of a name as, say, the usual mutants. In case you don't know, he's indeed named Multiple Man because he can instantly create duplicates of himself. While Jamie was originally a minor character, his story was better established in Peter David's X-Factorrun from the '90s, which incorporated many lesser known heroes from the larger X-Men mythos. Multiple Man has also appeared in the adventures of the Fantastic Four. In fact, he was created by Len Wein in the pages of Giant-Size Fantastic Four #4 in 1975.
Multiple Man joins a few other X-Men movies that are currently either in production or in development at 20th Century Fox. Josh Boone's The New Mutants is next on the list of X-Men releases, followed by Deadpool 2, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, and a Gambitmovie. It remains to be seen where Multiple Man might fall in this schedule. Perhaps the character could be introduced in another X-Men movie before getting his solo outing? It would make sense for a character that's not exactly as much of a household name as many of these other Marvel characters.
The character has appeared on the big screen before. He was portrayed by Eric Dane in the maligned X-Men: The Last Stand, which featured Multiple Man as a villain associated with Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants. We assume that will not be the case in the new movie, as most of The Last Stand continuity has been wiped from existence.
We'll bring you more on Multiple Man as we learn it!
Things take a horrific turn as James Gordon and the Penguin face Gotham’s greatest horror to date- Professor Pyg.
What in the name of Bill Finger did I just watch? Years ago, when I first heard that DC was doing a show based on the adventures of a young James Gordon, I never thought I’d see that series morph into a hardcore horror drama that out gored Ryan Murphy and American Horror Story. But that’s exactly what we get this week as Gotham went full on gross out terror in James Gordon’s climatic confrontation with Professor Pyg.
I think most Gotham fans are on the Jerome train as far as the most popular villain of the series is concerned, but really, Professor Pyg really steps up and becomes one of the most twisted, most cringe-worthy, most intimidating villains on Gotham. Now that we have witnessed the full potent horror of Pyg, I really want to see Gotham delve into a backstory for this very modern Bat rogue. The comics have never really done a definitive origin for Pyg. I mean, the not so good Professor is one of the newest Bat villains and hasn’t been deeply explored outside writer Grant Morrison’s run on Batman. Gotham could be the perfect place to give this Bat villain an iconic origin tale. Michael Cerveris has done a note perfect job bringing Pyg to life and I really want to see more of this unique adversary.
So let’s delve into this little Pyg’s plan. It seems that Pyg has a mad on for Gotham City’s elite, particularly Penguin. So Pyg plans to infiltrate a charity gala and feed meat pies made of the organs of Gotham City’s homeless to the city’s rich elite. And you know what? Pyg succeeds! And we are treated to a gorge raising puke fest that sees Penguin and some Gotham fat cats chowing down on the hobo pies. Even the lovely Sofia Falcone must take a bite and ewwww.
This leads to a last second James Gordon rescue and an epic battle between Pyg and cop. Gordon gets the better of the porcine killer and wins the hearts of the people of Gotham City who now finally have a heroic cop to look up to. Unfortunately, Penguin sees Sofia’s reaction to Gordon’s arrival and is certain the ties between Miss Falcone and Mister Gordon go very deep. The jealous Cobblepot realizes that it was Falcone that arranged for Gordon’s ascension to the captain’s chair. So it looks like we will have a mob war between Cobblepot and Falcone. Somehow, this week’s Gotham manages to morph from a hardcore horror drama into a crime drama in an eye blink. Impressive.
As for Gordon. This season sure has been a fascinating one for ‘ol Jimbo. Gordon finds himself doing things that are anathema to him because hey are in Gotham City’s best interest. He accepts the position of captain and betrays Harvey Bullock for the city. He accepts the corrupt endorsement of Sofia Falcone because it’s best for the city. This week, all his moral wrangling pays off because Gordon gets to save innocents from a true Gotham City monster. I mean, you can now see Gordon as a man who will one day be willing to buck due process and support a masked vigilante if it will help save his city from the monsters. This week, Gordon slays a monster and is in position to play hero cop because of some underhanded dealings, and he’s willing to do go along with the Falcones of the world if it means he is in position to defeat men like Pyg.
Penguin was another potent player in Pyg’s cannibal party. Penguin also shows himself to be multi-dimensional by killing one of the grey-haired one-percenters that refused to eat the pie even when Pyg threatened our new little urchin Martine. Remember, Penguin has taken a shine to the poor little mute boy and when the grey haired man of privilege says that he is willing to let the waif die, Penguin stabs the rich dude in the brain and proceeds to chow down on the human pie. I mean, how many people have we seen Penguin kill but an insult directed at Martine sends him into a murderous rage?
Think about all the moving parts in the Pyg drama. Penguin is jealous of Sofia’s bond with Gordon but still protects her from Pyg. Martine is threatened which shows us that Penguin does have a smidge of a heart, and all this is going on while I am fighting the dry heaves because Gotham forces us to endure a prolonged cannibalistic scene. And then Pyg sings and dances. What the what? The utter balls of all this is just mindboggling.
Sadly, the Bruce Wayne half of this week’s Gotham is not as mesmerizing. I am already tired of petulant Bruce Wayne. I just can’t buy that killing Ra’s Al Ghul would turn Bruce into a teen with affluenza. I think the act of murder could break Bruce, yeah, but to turn him into Bat Gone Wild? No, not buying it. This week Alfred tries to bond with Bruce by taking the future Caped Crusader on a traditional hike. Alfred does share a great story about meeting Thomas Wayne for the first time; a tale so effective it could have been a whole flashback episode. Bruce ditches Alfred and hides back home to party with Tommy Elliot and crew. I get it, Bruce is hurting, but this storyline is hurting me because I really don’t want to deal with a season of white privilege Bruce Wayne.
Thankfully, Gotham saves the day with a pure gross out, surreal bit of business that features a dude with a pig head singing while feeding homeless people to rich folk, and it’s stuff like that that sets Gotham apart from the countless other comic book shows on TV.
Arrow focuses on a father and son relationship in this sadly rather low-stakes episode.
This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 6 Episode 6
Tonight’s episode of Arrow felt a bit perfunctory and low-stakes all around since Slade has stepped right into Malcolm Merlyn's story beats as the deadly dad whose motives you can never 100 percent trust. (Albeit a less murder-y one.) With the flashbacks to a post-Lian Yu Slade, many mentions of Mirakuru, and the generic Eastern European setting, this all feels a bit like retreading old ground.
Team Arrow mostly rides the bench yet again, the cost of a still-large cast, even after some pruning. The villain of the week is forgettable aside from making John Diggle's secrets finally catch up to him. Unfortunately, the emotional fallout is practically negligible.
Diggle comes clean
Diggle finally tells his goddamn wife about the enormous, dangerous lie he's been keeping and has the nerve to try to downplay it while assuming she'll just make ARGUS cook him up a brand new drug. Lyla's return is a good reminder that it's wicked weird for Dinah to be the only one who knows this secret. Man, I really hope she and John don't get together.
It takes the threat of losing his supply of an illicit steroid that controls his tremors for Diggle to come clean, but for some reason the team forgives him immediately, and without realizing Dinah was in on it before them. Lyla's reaction seemed more in-character, and Oliver and Felicity are still unaware, so perhaps it will only be those closest to Diggle who respond appropriately to his deception. Or perhaps whoever wears the hood is given a pass to be kind of a dick, and they're all just relieved he's less secretive and mean than Oliver.
As Lyla pointed out, John is, in many ways, the show's moral center. He, along with Felicity, has been the one to rein Oliver in on many occasions, and he's also attempted to do the same for Felicity on the rare instance where her judgment waivers. Shouldn't everyone be more upset that he has been lying for the whole season thus far, almost got at least Rene killed, contemplated delaying catching a perp, and wanted to run into an explosion to obtain more drugs? I hope the show isn't done with John and this plotline just yet—what are the odds that he's not in some way addicted to this drug, beyond the need for it to treat his tremor?
There's still another secret lurking in the lair in the form of Dinah's present from her now-villainous ex-partner. I'm hoping that when Diggle inevitably calls her out for this, she'll throw his actions back in his face, forcing the rest of the team to contend with his secret yet again, and the fact that she both tried to make him come clean and kept his confidence when she failed.
Oliver helps Slade take on Deathstroke Junior
Because this is a superhero show, father-son stories abound, and they are laid on thick. Shots of Slade training his son are intercut with training his metaphorical son Oliver, just in case anyone missed the connection. There's plenty of bitterness and love in both relationships, and Slade rather neatly fills the Malcolm Merlyn-sized hole within Oliver's world, if not the John Barrowman-sized one in the Flarrowverse and our hearts.
It turns out Joe has some serious inspiration for his criminal ways: his father. Slade spends a certain amount of energy distinguishing between his own actions on Mirakuru and his son's, which are not drug-fueled. But in the third act, Joe points out that he saw his father kill years before the Mirakuru, back on that camping trip. He went on to make his own first kill six months later, which is pretty hard-boiled, even for the son of Deathstroke.
I was hoping for better set pieces for both Deathstroke and Oliver's considerable skills beyond the bow, but the overly dark scenes everywhere other than the ASIS training facility makes the existing ones hard to fully appreciate. Slade's fights with his son had the potential to be as electric as the ones between Slade and his protégé Oliver.
The other thing that would elevate this storyline is Slade having to make a real choice between his son and Oliver, or his son and doing the right thing. The stakes never feel high, even when Slade has a blade in front of Oliver's eye. Joe/Kane stalls a real decision by evading capture, but of course we'll see him again soon. Here's hoping that confrontation becomes a genuine conundrum instead of just an obvious choice. I'd also love to see more attempts at artistic shots like Slade's steam-filled exit, even if it was a bit cliché.
Slade's son vows to ruin Oliver's kid's life, which is also rather cold considering William is a child, even if Joe doesn't necessarily know that at the time. Still, Joe coming to Star City in an attempt to harm William, or perhaps his own newly unveiled mystery brother, will force Slade's hand and really hammer home this whole "Cat's in the Cradle" theme they have going on.
How important to the DCEU are those Justice League post credits scenes? Spoilers await!
This article contains major Justice League spoilers.
The DCEU has deliberately avoided post-credits scenes since the dark days of Green Lantern. It's been a smart move to keep away from one of the hallmarks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but with Justice League, they just couldn't resist. They make up for lost time, too, as Justice League has not one, but two end credits scenes. One is just for fun, but the other has larger implications for the DCEU down the line. I've already discussed the implications of the film's ending in general (which you can read here), so let's dig into these two, slightly nerdier elements of the movie...
The Superman/Flash Race
This is just good fun, and few things say "DC Universe" quite like a friendly race between Superman and Flash.
Superman and Flash have raced numerous times in the comics. While the movie doesn’t show us who wins, I’m going to give you a hint: it has to be the Flash. Flash is often the victor in Superman/Flash races in comics, if for no other reason than editorial mandate. Look at it this way, if the guy whose whole thing is that he can run really fast can’t outrun another hero, then what good is he, right? Superman has enough going for him. Let Flash have this one, OK?
The other one is a bigger deal as far as the future of the DCEU goes, though.
Deathstroke, Luthor, and The Secret Society of Super-Villains
Lex Luthor escapes from the Argus institution he's being held in (I don't think that's exactly Arkham Asylum?), in a maneuver that reminds me a little of his Superman II fakeout. We next see him on a pleasure yacht, dressed to the nines, and awaiting the arrival of an armored guest.
We’ve now seen the full transformation of Lex Luthor since the beginning of Batman v Superman, from corrupt but brilliant businessman/mad scientist to, well, fugitive mad scientist and potential supervillain. Hopefully future installments find ways to make him less infuriating, as well. But I digress…
The man Lex meets is Slade “Deathstroke” Wilson (played by Joe Manganiello). Slade is, as far as we’re concerned, the most versatile villain in the entire DC Universe. Deathstroke is an assassin for hire, but also an anti-hero and a mean bastard. He’s familiar to Arrow fans (where he has been played to perfection by Manu Bennett), and he’ll be the star of his own solo movie soon enough. Hell, you might also infer that the giggling inmate
The suggestion of a supervillain team-up (and no, Suicide Squad doesn’t count, since they work for the government) is an intriguing one. For starters, it’s the one thing that the Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn’t attempted, and for a studio that is looking for points of difference even as the tone of this movie felt more like its competition, a small army of recognizable bad guys taking on heroes would be a step in the right direction. In general, and in part because their licenses aren’t split between different studios, Warner Bros. has a stronger pool of villains to pull from with the DCEU than Marvel does, so now that the heroic side of things has been so well established, this would be a wise avenue for them to explore.
So will they be the Secret Society of Super-Villains from the comics? The Legion of Doom from Challenge of the Super Friends? It doesn't matter as long as they have that cool headquarters from the cartoon! If nothing else, expect the next round of threats the Justice League faces to be decidedly more domestic, rather than another cosmic menace like Steppenwolf. I'm sure we'll get to Darkseid eventually.
The Punisher is here! And so is the first of our daily episode reviews feat. nerdy spots and MCU/comics references...
This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
This review contains spoilers.
Following a stand-out performance in the Marvel/Netflix Daredevil show, Jon Bernthal is back as Frank Castle, aka The Punisher. But here’s a good question: how does a company that lives off its brand of superheroic ideals as the paragon of achievable virtue deal with a character whose brand is all about using guns and extreme violence to solve what are, broadly, social issues. I guess we’re going to find out.
It’s fair to say this episode eases us back into the Punisher’s mentality, as well as refreshing us on his backstory. Neither is especially pretty. Frank is portrayed as a PTSD sufferer whose traumatic episodes are kept away largely by dishing out extreme violence on people who (at least by his standards) deserve it. This, to be fair, is a more sensitive take on the character than most versions, where he’s played as a straight up psychotic serial killer who you can broadly root for because of his moral code.
Of course, he does still murder a lot of people in this episode, though it’s exclusively people who are either about to kill someone else, or planning to. I wonder if that’s how they’re going to play it – the moment you attempt to take a life, you forfeit the right to your own? It’s hard to make the Punisher seem reasonable, but that could be one way of doing it…
There’s also a new supporting cast introduced. Dinah and Sam, a pair of homeland security agents who are attempting to dig into Frank’s past (even though they think he’s dead). Curtis, a support-group leader who Frank trusts. And, weirdly, Dinah’s mother, a psychiatrist who I suspect will be digging into Frank as the series progresses.
As starts go, it’s a slowish one, but the tone is strong and consistent, and care is being taken to make Frank seem authentic. They could’ve just had this entire series be guns blazing, but aside from an opening montage Frank is fairly restrained, and that makes the violence have some element of satisfaction. I do sort of struggle with the idea that this guy is in any way possible to root for even if his methods are depicted as effective and precise, so I’m interested to see if the series challenges that as it goes on – at the very least, when Frank shoots a guy in the head, it doesn’t play it off as a moment of weakness or failure, so the show might just be trying to have its cake and eat it…
It probably goes without saying that Marvel Universe references are thin on the ground even in this first episode, and maybe without the Defenders to tie into things will stay that way. Lord knows the tone of this series is not going to benefit at all from someone reminding you that aliens once invaded and there’s a Magician living on Bleecker Street.
Broadly it’s not cribbing a lot from the comics either, but there are a few Easter Eggs worth noting from both print and screen.
The Punisher (aka Frank Castle) was created by Gerry Conway, John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru. He first appeared (as a villain, no less) in Amazing Spider-Man #129 (1974). The MCU version, as played by Jon Bernthal, first appeared in Daredevil 2.01: Bang.
The bikers Frank kills in the opening sequence are members of the Dogs of Hell. They’ve appeared multiple times in previous MCU series, most notably Daredevil but also Agents Of SHIELD.
The backstory about Schoonover was previously seen in Daredevil Season 2, but it forms a fairly major part of his arc so I’m not going to repeat it all here. Suffice to say, they were left thinking both Schoonover and Frank were dead, though the latter was definitely not.
Micro, the guy at the end, is a comics character but I’ll talk about him more later so we don’t spoil future episodes. You may remember that at the end of Daredevil Season 2, Frank retrieved a disc from his house which was labelled “Micro”. You can bet that’ll matter later on.
And, finally, the words Micro speaks – “Welcome back, Frank” – are the title of one of the Punisher’s most famous comic arcs, written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Steve Dillon. This is also the source of Gnucci crime family, at least one member of whom also appears in this episode. If that’s the season arc they’re doing, I’m likely to be quite happy with that, but at this point it might just be a throwaway reference.
Aaand that’s episode 1. Let’s continue…