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    Cray takes on an alternate Flash in this exclusive first look at The Wild Storm: Michael Cray #3!

    PreviewJim Dandy
    Dec 8, 2017

    Michael Cray has been on quite the Justice League killing spree. 

    The Wild Storm, Warren Ellis and Jon Davis Hunt's relaunch of the Wildstorm universe, spun out a solo book for Michael Cray a couple of months back. Cray, part of the new Wildstorm's tangled web of spy services and world-dominating, alien-headed NGOs, immediately set to work on the most pressing task at hand: killing alternate, terrible versions of Justice League members. 

    It was always assumed that The Wild Storm was taking place on an alternate Earth - setting the book apart from the most recent incarnation of the characters, which were firmly within the New 52. But it wasn't until the end of Michael Cray #1, when a green-hooded Oliver Queen was seen hunting homeless people, that it was confirmed to be an awful parallel world. 

    In this exclusive preview of Michael Cray #3, Cray (the old Wildstorm's Deathblow) gets his next assignment: Barry Allen. Here's what DC has to say about the issue:

    WILDSTORM: MICHAEL CRAY #3 Written by BRYAN HILL from a story by WARREN ELLISArt by N. STEVEN HARRIS and DEXTER VINESCover by DENYS COWAN and BILL SIENKIEWICZ • Variant cover by JOHN PAUL LEONCrime forensics expert Barry Allen has a dark secret—and a prototype suit that makes him the fastest man alive. Michael Cray wants to make him pay for his sins, but is he able to catch a man faster than justice? And what will happen when Barry Allen turns his psychosis on Cray at hyper-speed?

    Take a look at Harris and Vines' extra creepy take on The Flash and his powers in these preview pages.


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    Netflix is keeping up its genre dominance and padding its film roster by optioning John Scalzi's sci-fi military novel Old Man's War

    News Alec Bojalad
    Dec 9, 2017

    Netflix's collection of genre TV shows has never been stronger thanks to properties like Stranger Things, Altered Carbon, and Dark. 

    Now the streaming service is looking to beef up its sci-fi movie offerings by optioning the sci-fi military novel Old Man's War from write John Scalzi. 

    Scalzi, who is the former President of the Science Fiction Writers of America and three-time Hugo award winner, is being brought on to produce. 

    Old Man's War is the first of six books in a series and boasts a fascinating sci-fi concept. It's set in a futuristic universe, where humanity has made it into interstellar space and is colonizing various planet a la Starship Troopers. Problem is, plenty of alien species are also in contention to occupy the few planets capable of accomodating life - leading to massive, never-ending intergalactic war. 

    To win these wars againts alien forces, the Colonial Defense Force enlists human beings of retirement age to say goodbye to Earth forever, gain a fresh, new body generated from their own genetic material and join the struggle for survival. 

    It's no secret that every streaming service and content producer is in constant pursuit of "The Next Big Thing (TM)."Old Man's Warhas as much potential to fulfuill that role as any other intellectual property. Scalzi's novel is huge, yet intimate and knows how to balance true science fiction action/adventure with complicated moral and thematic questions. 

    Both Paramount Pictures and Syfy channel have attempted to option and adapt Scalzi's series before but neither project panned out. With Netflix's abundant resources and ceaseless thirst for media-busting content, this could very well be the version that sticks. 


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    What would Star Wars be without a few bounty hunters? We explore our favorite bounty hunter tales...

    Feature Marc Buxton
    Dec 10, 2017

    If you’re a fan of a certain age, you will remember setting up your Kenner Star Wars action figures in the same Usual Suspects-like line up that the bounty hunters appeared in during their The Empire Strikes Back debut. Think back now, Darth Vader lecturing these strange aliens with perhaps a few Star Destroyer commanders smattered around, warning them against disintegrating their bounty.

    Other than Boba Fett, these intergalactic scum only had a few seconds of screen time, but those brief ticks of a clock were unforgettable. The image of a few alien toughs, some truly salty looking armored humans, and even a few droids fueled the imaginations of Star Wars fans for generations.

    Rumor has it that one of the upcoming Star Wars Story films could feature some of these famous bounty hunters, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to spotlight some of the coolest Expanded Universe tales featuring Dengar, IG-88, Boba Fett, Bossk, Zuckuss, and 4-LOM.

    Now remember, most of these stories were wiped out of continuity when Disney took over the galaxy far, far away, but that doesn’t make them any less readable and awesome. And yeah, we may even have a few that are part of the current Star Wars canon. So strap on your blasters and we promise, there will be no disintegrations as we turn back time and examine the coolest bounty hunter stories of the Star Wars galaxy.

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    Dengar

    Ah Dengar, we know kids of the 80s probably referred to you as Diaper Head, but you are still badass. Dengar was front and center when Vader gave the bounty hunters their marching orders and could also be seen chilling out in Jabba’s Palace in Return of the Jedi. Dengar was played by Morris Bush, an actor who also appeared in Hammer’s Scars of Dracula (1970), the Christopher Lee pot boiler Creeping Flesh (1973), and the bizarre Ringo Starr musical comedy Son of Dracula (1974). Interestingly enough, Bush worked as a stand in for David Prowse in Star Wars (1977). According to Prowse, that is Bush’s foot you can see kicking Obi-Wan’s cape after Luke’s mentor is struck down by the Dark Lord of the Sith.

    But where can you read about ‘ol Diaper Head? In the 1996 Kevin J. Anderson-edited Tales of the Bounty Hunters anthology (get ready, this isn’t the only time I’m going to mention this collection in this article), author Dave Wolverton related Dengar’s origin in a short tale entitled "Payback." In this piece of essential Dengar fiction (yes, such a thing exists), Wolverton details that Dengar used to be a swoop bike racer who was injured as a teenager by his racing rival. Of course, that rival was none other than a young Han Solo. Wolverton makes Dengar’s vendetta against the captain of Millennium Falcon very personal.

    But Wolverton’s hyper-readable story isn’t our Expanded Universe essential Dengar pick. That honor goes to the season four episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars entitled "Bounty." In this toyetic installment of Clone Wars, an aimless Asajj Ventress joins up with a band of roguish bounty hunters that includes a teenage Boba Fett, Bossk, and the grizzled, weathered Dengar. Dengar plays a secondary role in this episode (doesn’t he always) to Fett and Ventress, but when Dengar springs into action, he truly shines. Better yet, Dengar is voiced by lifelong Star Wars lover Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Star Trek), and you just know that when Pegg was a wee lad he took his Kenner Dengar figure on many adventures. Pegg’s Star Wars enthusiasm shows as he fills the once tabula rasa Dengar with a salty, badass personality. "Bounty" was a Dirty Dozen-like adventure through the underbelly of the Star Wars galaxy and finally gave fans a sense of who the bandaged badass of Star Wars truly is.

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    IG-88

    With a scant few seconds of screen team, IG-88 showed the world that not every droid in the Star Warsuniverse is cutesy. Yeah, we saw a few black imperial R2 and R5 units and a smattering of Death Star sroids, but IG-88 was a different mechanical animal all together. IG-88 was all sharp edges with a surreal design and multiple big honking firearms. Fans only got one quick glimpse of this death machine, but it was enough to emblazon this oddly shaped engine of destruction in fans’ minds forever. IG-88 was built and operated by puppeteer and effects guru Bill Hargreaves, and by operated I mean that Hargreaves moved IG’s head a tiny bit in Empire. But, damn, what a creation!

    So we’re going to take IG-88’s chosen chronicle from the aforementioned Tales of the Bounty Hunters. In a short story entitled "Therefore I Am," it was revealed that everyone’s favorite murder droid had a great deal in common with Marvel’s Ultron. You see, in this tale, it was revealed that there were actually four models of IG-88 that shared the same malevolent consciousness. The IG master intelligence wanted to kick start a droid revolution and conquer the galaxy, but when it was activated, IG-88 murdered its creators and then built three duplicates of itself. One of those duplicates answered Vader’s call for bounty hunters while the others began plotting for the droid uprising. After Vader gave his marching orders, IG-88 stealthily downloaded Imperial files off the ships’ computer. Through this data theft, the assassin droid discovered top secret plans detailing the construction of a second Death Star.

    After IG sent that info to his duplicates, it tracked Solo to Bespin where it had a violent encounter with Boba Fett. Hey, remember the IG carcass in the background of the Ugnaught smelter sequence in The Empire Strikes Back, the one where the little pig people played keep away with Chewbacca? Yeah, this short story explains that carcass, as Fett blasts the IG unit to oblivion. But there were still three IG-88s out there. Two of them went after Fett but the last remaining IG-88, get this now, downloaded itself into and took over the freaking Death Star. Yes, according to Anderson’s "Therefore I Am," at the end of Return of the Jedi, the Death Star gained sentience thanks to IG-88. Of course, this was right before Lando Calrissian, Wedge Antilles, and Nein Numb blew the sucker up, but still, a malevolently intelligent Death Star is about as badass as it gets. That certainly would have led to the droid uprising, if not for fate and a fateful, last ditch bid at freedom by a desperate band of rebels.

    IG-88—from a blink and you’ll miss it first appearance to a bee’s eyelash away from wiping out all non-mechanical life in the galaxy. Awesome.

    Boba Fett

    Can you imagine Star Wars without Fett? Honestly, the whole saga wouldn’t have been much different on screen, but it certainly would be fundamentally altered in the hearts and minds of fans, because Boba Fett’s legend lives in the Expanded Universe, or fans’ own personal expanded universes at least. There is a mystique to Fett. Maybe it’s because Boba Fett was the first mail away action figure which signaled to SW fans everywhere after 1977’s Star Wars that there would be more adventures in a galaxy far, far away to come. Perhaps it’s the fact that the Fett figure was supposed to feature a rocket-firing backup until Kenner grew worried that kids would choke on Fett’s spring loaded missile. Dude, Fett is so dangerous he was considered a threat to real world children before he made his film debut. Take that Dengar!

    Perhaps it’s that badass souped up Stormtrooper like armor that Fett wears or perhaps it is because every inch of this gravelly voiced outlaw is covered in dangerous armaments. There are countless reasons that the whole world has a Boba Fettish and the stories we are about to list take advantage of this rarified adoration. It’s hard to narrow down just one great Boba Fett Expanded Universe story, so we won’t. We’ll hit you with a few.

    Boba Fett was played by Jeremy Bulloch in both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. For years, no one knew the lethal bounty hunter’s origins until George Lucas detailed Fett’s clone birth in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002), but before that, Fett was a mystery than many Expanded Universe creators tried to shed some light on.

    First up is a yarn entitled "Prey" that appeared in Dark Horse Comics’ Star Wars Tales #11 (2002). This flashback story written and drawn by Kia Asamiya features Fett being dispatched by Moff Tarkin to retrieve Han Solo after the future hero of the Rebellion defects from the Imperial Navy. Darth Vader disagrees with giving this assignment to a bounty hunter and goes after Solo himself. This leads to Fett and Vader engaging in an eye popping lightsaber battle in the middle of the Mos Eisley Cantina! Fett, who had procured a lightsaber from a dead Jedi (awesome), held his own against Vader, proving that this bounty hunter backs down from no man. Solo escaped by attaching his ship to a Star Destroyer and floating away when the warship dumped its garbage. Hmm, that sounds familiar, huh? This battle also built that subtle grudging respect that can be felt when Vader addressed Fett aboard the Star Destroyer Executer in Empire.

    From the Dark Horse era to the first Marvel Comics era, let us go back in time to Star Wars#81 (1984) by Jo Duffy, Ron Frenz, Tom Palmer, and Tom Mandrake. There have been a number of Expanded Universe accounts of Boba Fett escaping the Sarlaac Pit, but this semi-classic published by Marvel just happens to be the first. The issue was entitled (get ready for it) "Jawas of Doom!" Let that sink in for a moment.

    The story takes place just after the Battle of Endor and sees Han Solo searching for some extra cash. Han, Chewbacca, Leia, R2, and C-3P0 fly to Tatooine so Han can withdraw his credits from a Mos Eisely bank. Sadly, Han’s credits were frozen at the same time he was (in carbonite, natch!). Meanwhile, Boba Fett was spat out by the Sarlaac Pit and picked up by aggressive Jawas. It seems that since Jabba the Hutt’s demise, the Jawas have become more and more aggressive. In other words, the only thing that was keeping these hooded desert rodents in check was a mob boss, and now that Jabba is gone, the Jawas have become a gaggle of little murder bundles. So the Jawas droidnap R2-D2 and Boba Fett, whom they mistake for a droid due to his strange armor. Boba Fett has amnesia because comics and becomes the Jawas hapless prisoner (this is like an action figure adventure I would have had with a 103 degree fever).

    Han, who sets on a rescue mission, boards the Sandcrawler and is shocked to see Boba Fett. The two former enemies work together to defeat the Jawas (no, really) until Fett regains his memory and takes a pot shot at Han. Han leaps to safety just as the Sandcrawler plummets into, you guessed it, the Sarlaac Pit. Wahh-wahh-wahhhhhh! What a strange little must-read story. First off, it featured the first post-Return of the Jedi appearance of Fett and, secondly, it then almost turned Fett into a kind of tragic hero before depositing him back into the same pit of death in which he met his ignominious film demise. One has to wonder if Marvel was under marching orders by Lucasfilm to make sure Fett stayed in the Sarlaac, and if so, what kind of plans did Lucas have for the fan favorite hunter killer back in 1984? And what about those killer Jawas. How are you not eBaying this right now?

    Let’s move on to some alternate escapes from the Sarlaac Expanded Universe fiction, shall we? We have discussed Tales of the Bounty Hunters ad nauseam (and we will again), but now, let's take a look at Tales from Jabba’s Palace (1996), another Kevin J. Anderson-edited anthology. In "A Barve Like That: The Tale of Boba Fett" by J.D. Montgomery, readers get to experience Fett’s time in the Sarlaac. This short story features the most backstory that was ever revealed about the mysterious bounty hunter pre-Attack of the Clones, as fans are welcomed into Fett’s thoughts for the first time. Most of these thoughts consist of “Oh my lord, I’m slowly being digested over a period of a thousand years. It hurts. It hurts. Solo is a dick!” but there is also a great deal revealed about the heart and spirit of the hunter.

    This tale mostly takes place within the Sarlaac, as a trapped Fett is able to converse with the Pit’s first victim, a being named Susejo. Through Susejo, Fett learns how hopeless his plight truly is—but guys, this is Boba Fett, the most lethal bounty hunter in the galaxy, a walking weapon, the first mail away action figure! Fett isn’t having any of that noise and tricks the Sarlaac into digesting his rocket pack. Well, Kenner was right, that backpack was dangerous, and when the thing explodes, Fett is freed of the Sarlaac. Pretty intense and much better than dying while fighting rabid Jawas. Montgomery’s tale really highlighted what Star Wars fans new all along—that nothing can stop Boba Fett, the most lethal bounty hunter in the galaxy.

    Boba Fett is so badass he couldn’t even be stopped by the Star Wars Christmas Special (1978). For real, the haphazardly animated nine-minute animated short featuring the introduction of Boba Fett is the only watchable part of the infamous Christmas special. In this short, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker fall victim to a sleeping virus and Chewbacca and the droids must team with a mysterious armored figure named Boba Fett to save the heroes.

    Over the course of the stiffly animated feature, Fett fights a lizard dragon thing and is still a menacing presence despite the fact that he barley moves in this unbudgeted production. Now imagine, kids everywhere sending away for the Kenner figure and encountering Fett for the first time in the Christmas special. Even though the rest of the special is unwatchable, Fett’s animated debut must have been pure magic for Star Warsfans of a certain age. And that’s why we love Fett and his mystique, because his uniquely marketed pre-The Empire Strikes Back introduction into the Star Wars galaxy introduced the very idea of an Expanded Universe. Expect more Fett very soon, possibly in his own feature length film in the next few years.

    Bossk

    Bossk, possibly the most fearsome looking bounty hunter to gather on the Executor in The Empire Strikes Back, has long been an iconic but minor adversary in the Star Wars saga. Like Fett, Bossk was a Kenner mail away action figure, which just adds to the aura of this Trandoshan villain. Bossk is so tough, he doesn't have time for footwear, and his arms and legs barely fit into his famous yellow space suit. You just know that Bossk ripped apart some poor pilot to score his flight gear, and the lizard-like bounty hunter really pops in the few seconds he is onscreen in Empire.

    Played by British actor Alan Harris, Bossk also pops up in Return of the Jediand has appeared in many Expanded Universe tales. By the way, that Bossk’s famous space suit was a leftover costume used in the 1966 Doctor Who episode "The Tenth Planet Part 1" is pretty cool sci-fi synergy, huh?

    To find our Bossk highlight, we look to the recent past and to the young adult Star Wars Rebels novel Ezra's Gambleby Ryder Windham (2014). Before this EU tale (which is part of the new Disney canon), Bossk was traditionally portrayed as an almost mindless, cannibalistic brute. While this has added to the infamous legend of Bossk, it didn’t leave room for character subtleties. Windham took care of all that by portraying the Trandoshan as a morally ambiguous hunter with a unique sense of honor.

    In this recent prose Rebelsadventure, Bossk is depicted as a reluctant anti-hero with a conflicting sense of right and wrong. Bossk helps Ezra Bridger and is presented to fans in a heroic light for the first time. But in Empireand in other Expanded Universe fiction, Bossk is a flesh-hungry monstrosity who uses his personal ship, the Hound’s Tooth, to track his prey across the galaxy. So whether you like the new, more complex Bossk or the slavering, blood hungry scum of yesteryear, you've got to admit that with a few short seconds on screen and one garbled line that almost caused ‘ol Admiral Piett to poop his Imperial trousers (Res luk ra'auf!), Bossk has long captured the imagination of Star Wars fans.

    Zuckuss and 4-LOM

    Before we delve into our final pair of bounty hunters, let us play the name game. When Kenner produced its last two bounty hunter action figures in 1982, the toy company made a bit of a boo boo. Kenner used the Zuckuss name for a character that was clearly a droid and used an alpha-numeric droid designation for a character that was clearly an alien. Yes, according to Kenner, 4-LOM was an alien and Zuckuss was a droid, but history now tells us that Kenner done screwed up. In recent years, 4-LOM has been correctly identified as the bug eyed droid aboard Vader’s Star Destroyer in Empire, and Zuckuss has become the robed, bug eyed alien and all is right with the galaxy.

    But this name confusion just adds to the mystery of these two strange beings. The two bounty hunters in question appear in the same shot together and thus, have always been associated with each other. So when the two made their first appearance in the Expanded Universe, they did it as partners, as the Lenny and Squiggy of the Star Wars universe, but with an intense blood thirst and lots of guns. Before we delve into our 4-LOM and Zuckuss highlight, let us mention that 4-LOM was played by actress Cathy Munroe while Zuckuss was played by Chris Parsons (who also played the white protocol droid that appeared on Hoth, K-3PO—because if we’re going to go SW obscure, we might as well take it all the way to the extreme).

    Okay, of course our 4-LOM and Zuckuss tale comes from Tales of the Bounty Hunters because quite frankly, neither of these scums has made many Expanded Universe appearances. You would have thought that with their really awesome costumes 4-LOM and Zuckuss would have popped up in Jabba’s Palace in Return of the Jedi, but nope, it was one and done for this pair of assassins.

    In the Tales of the Bounty Hunters story, "Of Possible Futures: The Tale of Zuckuss and 4-LOM" by M. Shayne Bell, fans learn the complex histories of both of these blink and you’ll miss ‘em bounty hunters. 4-LOM and Zuckuss ambush a group of Rebels as the freedom fighters are attempting to escape Hoth during the first act of The Empire Strikes Back. The pair planned to sell the captives to Vader and the Empire.

    During the mission, fans learn of the background of both bug-eyed bounty hunters. 4-LOM was once a simple protocol droid whose programming became compromised. At first, 4-LOM began stealing from passengers of a luxury liner he worked on and before long became proficient in all sorts of mayhem. Eventually, 4-LOM embarked on a career as a thief and a bounty hunter and became so infamous, that even IG-88 considered recruiting 4-LOM into the droid revolution but thought better of it because the former protocol droid’s personality was too unstable.

    As for Zuckuss, this diminutive killer was a member of the Gand species, a group of insectoid aliens that breathed pneumonia and had to wear specially-made breathing apparatuses or suffocate in oxygen rich atmospheres. Gands also used special chemicals called the Mists to help them reach precognitive trance states. Whether Zuckuss really had mystical powers or just kind of got high and hunted people is unclear, but it was clear that this alien and droid made a formidable pair.

    In Bell’s tale, Zuckuss and 4-LOM are also shown to have a sound moral compass as, after the bounty hunting duo capture the Rebels, they free them and help the fugitives escape the Empire. So there you have it, according to the now out of continuity Expanded Universe tale, two of our infamous bounty hunters in question possessed the heart of heroes even though they looked like things that crawled out of an H.R. Giger fever dream.

    Most of these Expanded Universe tales are now expelled from the Star Wars canon, but the wonder that surrounds these six bounty hunters remains. As we move towards Rogue Oneand countless more Star Wars films, books, comics, and cartoons, you can be assured that these six characters that captured fans imaginations in about six seconds will continue to fascinate Star Wars fans of every age. Happy hunting.


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    We explore the historical influences behind all of The Walking Dead's greatest villains.

    Feature Alec Bojalad
    Dec 10, 2017

    This Walking Dead article contains major spoilers for the show and the comics. 

    The Walking Dead is one of the most successful shows of all time for one reason: zombies. It's also a sometimes decent, sometimes great show because it knows exactly how to use said creatures. In any good zombie franchise, the zombies don’t act as villains. They’re a force of nature—just lumbering, amoral scenery. Trying to build a story where zombies are the bad guys would be like trying to make a six-season television show where the only antagonist was an avalanche or a mudslide week after week. Both of these threats allow for some great life-or-death circumstances, but you can’t rely on them to be the antagonists that carry along the story week after week.

    Give or take a Moby Dick, humans usually make for the best villains because they can match wits with their hero counterparts. And at the very least, the viewer will be able to relate to their humanity. Or lack thereof. The Walking Dead, for all its faults (and sometimes they are many), understands that the best thing for its story is a solid revolving door of antagonists to define its merry group of protagonists.

    Granted, it did take awhile to get to the human villains. It wasn’t until halfway through the second season that The Walking Dead even introduced any human threats to contend with, and even then, Rick Grimes made short work of Michael Raymond-James and his band of Nebraska-seeking douchebags. Still, the effect was immediately electrifying. Once other antagonistic human beings were introduced into the sea of shambling corpses, it was clear that The Walking Dead could never go back: it must always have some sort of human group oppose the Rick Grimes clan to produce interesting entertainment. Since the beginning of season three, with the introduction of the Governor, it largely has.

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    What’s particularly interesting is that these rotating groups of antagonists tend to come in bunches, and are never just one man or woman. The Governor was Rick Grimes' first true antagonistic foil after Shane, but he would not have been a legitimate threat without the town of Woodbury behind him. In the post-apocalyptic world, no one can make it on their own. Everyone needs a community. And as those communities spring up, they all tend to have different values, mores, and rules. The Rick Grimes group generally seems to operate under the rule of “Just Survive Somehow” and amass all of the strongest friends who also seem to have at least a slight vested interest in returning the world to the normal state of law and order.

    Other groups…not so much.

    Through seven seasons, Rick’s crew has grappled with at least six other distinct enemy groups by our count. They are: The Governor and Woodbury, Joe and the Claimers, Terminus, Grady Memorial Hospital, the Wolves, Negan and the Saviors, and Jadis and the Heapsters. Each has had their own philosophy that set itself apart from Rick’s group, and ultimately made it a collective antagonist.

    Each group also has an intriguing real world analog, whether it be a similar group from history or at least inspired by a real philosophical school of thinking. Let’s take the time to give each group its due by examining which real world events, people, and ideas they most closely resemble.Here are the antagonists in chronological order.

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    The Governor and Woodbury

    Philip Blake, aka The Governor, possesses an inherent skill that makes him a truly formidable adversary. He can create families out of thin air. Something about the Governor’s charisma, speech pattern, je ne se quois, whatever, gets people to not only follow him but trust him. With some walls and kind words, he created a completely functioning society shockingly early on in the zombie apocalypse.

    Then later on, after he loses that society, The Walking Dead lets him start from scratch so we can see just how adept he is at getting people on his side. He influences the Chambers family into becoming his own, and then quickly gathers a new army to make a move on the prison yet again. The Governor, with all his skill in winning friends and influencing people, is not unlike a cult leader, and Woodbury is like his Jonestown.

    Woodbury, with its white-picket fences and smiling neighbors, might not seem like a cult. But following a charismatic person who only goes by the honorific “The Governor” is a pretty tell-tale sign, as is the predilection to watch live prisoners duke it out in a pit of zombies as punishment. That doesn’t exactly follow the rule of law that most societies ascribe to.

    Realistically, a world in which the dead literally roam the Earth is bound to be just lousy with cults. So it’s no surprise that the first antagonist group presented in The Walking Dead resembles one. The real world doesn’t have rotting corpses wandering around but can still be a confusing enough place that people are all too happy to pledge their lives to whoever can promise them salvation.

    Jim Jones’ cult was officially titled the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project and began in Indianapolis before moving onto Los Angeles and San Francisco, eventually creating the unofficially titled “Jonestown” settlement in Guyana. 909 cult-members committed suicide with cyanide-laced Kool-Aid, at the instruction of Jones, after the cult murdered five people, including a U.S. Congressman who had come to investigate the cult.

    Come to think of it, the Governor couldn’t even get his hand-selected soldiers to continue an attack on the Prison. As such, real life remains far more hardcore than fiction.

    Joe and the Claimers

    Daryl is the first to encounter “The Claimers” after the destruction of the prison in season four. They are essentially a loose band of brigands, led by their imposing leader in a motorcycle jacket, Joe. Their philosophy seems to be “travel around and take and do whatever you want.” Their only rule is that as long as you “claim” a found item, it belongs to you.

    There’s a phrase from the Quran, of all places, that’s a pretty succinct distillation of everything that Joe and his group of “Claimers” represent: “highwaymen who menace the road.” Apparently, amorphous groups of bandits wandering around trade routes and looking to take stuff by force were historically a big enough problem to be addressed in religious texts. For what it’s worth, Allah says the punishment for this is "execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hand and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land that is chief disgrace in this world, and heavy punishment is theirs in the hereafter."

    Since the zombie apocalypse is kind of a hard reboot of world history, technically The Walking Dead exists in a kind of new biblical time. And wouldn’t you know it, highwaymen who menace the road are indeed a problem again. There isn’t any significant historical group or philosophical idea behind the Claimers aside from the oldest human one: just do what you want until someone forces you otherwise. They’re basically pre-history scavengers with an added wrinkle of having one rule: something must be claimed. In that way, they also resemble some parts of the Pirate Code. Pirate Codes were adopted by a group of sailors who had gone pirate and could govern all sorts of behavior. Chief among them, however, was usually rules for the division of goods after a theft.

    Terminus

    Ok, the Terminans are really all over the place. Gareth and his cannibal friends did not last long on the show, but with the depth of their villainy in terms of cultural influences, they may represent the most interesting group of antagonists to ever appear on The Walking Dead.

    These cannibals occupy an abandoned train station that they’ve dubbed “Terminus.” The etymological implications of that phrase alone are incredibly interesting. A “terminus” can be a railway or bus station that represents the end of that particular route. So Terminus literally means “end of the line” for any of the poor souls who make it there. Terminus was also the original name of the city of Atlanta, which comes from the Roman God of boundaries, Terminus.

    This is one of those rare instances, where the name of something in the show is far cooler than it’s inspiration from the comics. The Terminans closest analogue in the comics are the Hunters, a group of cannibals who befriend and then eat humans because they are ironically terrible at hunting animals.

    So let’s get the cannibal portion out of the way now. Yes, cannibalism is a thing that occurs in the real world with alarming frequency. Alarmingly frequent in the sense that it ever occurs at all. The reasons that humans commit cannibalism are myriad, ranging from needing to eat humans to survive in an extreme situation, like the Donner Party, to eating people because you're mentally ill. For our purposes, we’re looking for a group who commits cultural cannibalism, and while they exist, it’s usually in primitive society’s that do so for superstitious purposes. That’s not necessarily an ideal fit for Terminus. If anything, Terminus veers more towards the “cannibalism to survive” spectrum, but they have some added factors that make them even more unique.

    One is their location itself. They’ve turned their abandoned train station into a kind of murder-maze to more easily trap and kill their human prey. And as weird as it may sound, “murder mazes” are not unprecedented in the real world. One of America’s first serial killers, H.H. Holmes, created a “Murder Castle” in an apartment in downtown Chicago with many different windowless rooms dedicated solely to killing human beings.

    Then there is also the fact that the Terminans actually began as victims. Their message of “Sanctuary for all” was originally legitimate before violent men took them up on their offer, and then began raping and murdering them for their troubles. At some point, they were able to take back control of Terminus and either imprison or kill all of their captors. Terminus was revived under a new philosophy: “You’re the butcher or you’re the cattle.” In that way, they’re like many prolific serial killers throughout the years. Especially say someone like Aileen Wuornos, who was abused by the men in her life for many years before snapping and killing seven of them.

    Terminus is equal parts cannibalism for survival, H.H. Holmes, and Aileen Wuornos. That’s how you create a fascinating group of antagonists.

    Grady Memorial Hospital

    There’s a phrase from another great science fiction TV show that applies well to the events at Grady Memorial Hospital in downtown Atlanta. (Which is actually a real hospital in Atlanta. Surprisingly few of the Google reviews mention being attacked by the walking dead.) Commander William Adama in Battlestar Galactica once said, “There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.”

    Well, at Grady Memorial Hospital, the police are the military…and they’re the guards, the senators, the judges, the presidents, the insurance adjustors, the everything. Grady Memorial Hospital is able to maintain some semblance of order in downtown Atlanta, even as everything around them has gone to hell. They actually have working electricity, some doctors, and some medical supplies. Unfortunately, all patients and guests must submit completely to the police in charge to “pay off their debts.” 

    Grady Memorial Hospital could represent one of two things, depending on how frisky and political The Walking Dead wants to get. On one hand, it might be commenting on the “prison-industrial complex” in the United States, where privatizing the prison system means that prisoners = profit. Therefore, more prisoners = more profit. The folks at Grady Memorial Hospital realize that “rescuing” people around the hospital means an inexhaustible supply of free labor. 

    On the other hand, Grady Memorial Hospital is just a textbook example of a society under martial law. Martial law is, of course, when the military (or whoever has guns and badges), takes over as head of government, replacing all previous executive, legislative, and judicial branches of power. Normally, this is done by force, but in the case of Grady Memorial Hospital, the force is the zombie apocalypse that effectively ended the civilized world. And in this new early society, drafting a constitution and stuff must have seemed like a real pain. So they just deferred to whoever had the guns. 

    Military juntas leading coup d’etats happen in the real world all the time. Right now, Thailand, a country you could conceivably want to vacation in, is actually being ruled by a military junta. Granted, it’s been a lot less violent and terrifying than Grady Memorial, but it’s still definitely a thing that’s actually happening.

    Grady Memorial Hospital is an excellent example of how The Walking Dead relies on its antagonists to define its protagonists. For all their faults, Rick Grimes and his group at the very least hold a vain hope that they can establish a functioning society with rule of law one day. That sets them in sharp contrast against groups like Grady Memorial.

    The Wolves

    The Wolves seem like they would be the easiest of the Walking Dead antagonist groups to characterize. All you need to know about them is right there in their name. They’re wolves, they’re bestial, non-rational, move around in a pack, and are just generally hungry for destruction. But for a group of supposedly anarchic, bestial killing-machines, fuck are they chatty. 

    When Morgan captures the lead wolf and attempts to convert him to a more peaceful society, the Wolf is all too happy to chat with him about the pointlessness of the attempt. The new way of the world has made him wild and uncontrollable. This wildness, combined with a self-consciousness about his own wildness, doesn’t really have a comparison to any group throughout history. Instead, it’s more philosophical.

    The Wolves appear to be through and through nihilists. The term “nihilism” is staggeringly huge. Its most basic definition is that life has no meaning. But that’s such a big concept that it can and has been broken down into tons of different kinds of nihilism, from metaphysical to existential to political to really everything.

    Still, the Wolves stay pretty active for a group that believes in nothing. Walking Dead director Greg Nicotero said in an interview that one of the group’s goals was to build up a zombie army. If nothing matters, what’s the point of that? On another occasion, one Wolf says they don’t want survivors living in safe societies like Alexandria as it’s an absurd thing to do during the apocalypse.

    If that’s the case, the Wolves closet cousins may actually be another fictional group: the Guilty Remnant from HBO’s The Leftovers. The Guilty Remnant is a religious cult that has taken a vow of silence, wears all white, and chain smokes cigarettes all day. The purpose of this is to be a living reminder to all the citizens of the world that there was an apocalyptic event that they cannot ignore. In that example, the Guilty Remnant are actually not nihilists. They believe there is a purpose to life and that purpose is to remind people that God wanted the world to end.

    Maybe the Wolves aren’t nihilists either, after all. Maybe they’re the post-zombie apocalypse version of the Westboro Baptist Church. They carve "W"s into their head and attack safe communities to remind them that God hates them and the evidence couldn’t possibly be more abundant.

    Negan and the Saviors

    All of the various groups introduced thus far have their own way of doing things and their own ways of antagonizing Grimes group. Soon, however, we’ll get to see a group with the most devastating historical comparison yet: the atomic bomb. 

    Like most former students who didn't pay attention in World History, I now know most of what I know about history from Dan Carlin's epic history podcast, Hardcore History. And in one particular episode, he says the violence, devastation, and proficiency of one specific civilatization can only be compared to that of the atomic bomb in the modern world. That civilization is the Mongol Empire. Negan and his group of so-called Saviors are Walking Dead's version the Genghis Khan and the Mongols.

    The Mongol Empire was a powerful society that originated in Mongolia in the early 1200s. Under the leadership of the brilliant and ruthless Genghis Khan, they eventually conquered almost all of Asia and about half of Europe. Cities and societies that encountered the roaming hordes and armies of Mongolia had one choice: submit or die. Most ended up going with the latter.

    The Saviors can't come nearly as close to the Mongols is size, scale, or effectiveness; and Negan, for all of his villain bonafides, is still no Genghis Khan. But in the smaller scale of post-zombie apocalyptic wasteland around the District of Columbia and Virginia, the Saviors may as well be a Mongol Empire. The Saviors and Negan represent a terrifying threat because they're just so good...at nearly everything.

    Sometimes, a great villain has flaws to make them seem more relatable and human. But sometimes a great villain doesn't need any flaws at all, because the enormity of how proficient, skilled, and smart they are make them larger than life and terrifying. Negan and the Saviors belong in the latter category, much like Genghis Khan and the Mongols once did. Negan is smart enough to understand that violence equals power in this new world. He's also strong and athletic enough to be beyond effective in executing violence. It's like putting Stephen Hawking's brain in the Mountain's body. It's a terrifying combination that only knows how to do one thing: grow, expand, kill, conquer.

    The shock of the world ending has begun to pass on TheWalking Dead, and now the groups are beginning to catch up to where we are in the real world. It’s a testament to our strange collective human history that the world of The Walking Dead seems just as volatile and violent. And we didn't even need a zombie apocalypse to get that way.

    The Scavengers

    The Scavengers or Heapsters or Garbage Pail Kids are hard to nail down historically. That's partly because they have no analog for the group within The Walking Dead comic universe. So while it's possible that Robert Kirkman was drawing from real life historical and philosophical sources for his villains, we can't always say the same about the TV version - even though Kirkman remains heavily involved.

    The other factor at play is that the Scavengers are so aggressively stylish and steampunkish that there isn't really an easy real life comparsion. Off the top of my head, I can come up with very few societies that styled themselves in all-black and lived a garbage-based existence. 

    When you do some digging, however, you discover that scavenging, hoarding, garbage-picking - whatever you want to call - has been a human tradition for virtually as long as there have been humans. "Gleaning" is a fun word that dates all the way back to Biblical times. Gleaning is essentially a more pastoral term for garbage picking. Gleaners would descend upon farmers' lands after they had been harvested to pick up any rinds or tiny grains left behind. Surprisingly, gleaning is actually a recognized right for the poor in Deutoronomy and Leviticus.

    Jadis and her merry band of garbage-people aren't entirely like gleaners as there are no farms left to glean from, but living in a garbage dump in a post-apocalyptic world does add a nice level of "the meek shall inherit the Earth" intrigue. When the whole word has become a garbage dump, those most comfortable living in an actual one achieve some power.

    The Scavengers aren't just a group happily playing around in garbage. They're a formiddable faction thanks to the useful junk-rich area they control. 

    A version of this article originally ran on February 19, 2016.


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    The Walking Dead has one of the most passionate fan communities on TV and AMC knows how to give it what it wants.

    Feature Alec Bojalad
    Dec 10, 2017

    On Sept. 14, AMC launched The Walking Dead Fan Rewards Club. It was a creative new concept from the cable network that enabled them to give back to the show’s rabid fans while keeping them in the AMC fold. This how the program works: Walking Dead fans are able to collect “points” for activities like watching the show, buying merch online, or posting about the show on their social media.

    This is a novel, intriguing concept. It’s also not one we’re used to seeing on television. Phrases like “Rewards Club” are often reserved for corporate entities that interact with what we view as “consumers” and not “fans.” Dominos has a rewards club (called “Piece of the Pie”), Starbucks has a rewards club (“My Starbucks Rewards program”), and even Pampers has a rewards club (“Pampers Gifts to Grow”).

    What AMC has done with The Walking Dead is finally bridge the gap between corporate speak and geek speak. Words like “fan” and “consumer” often mean the same thing. If Lost represents the time that fandom culture went mainstream, The Walking Dead represents the time that fandom culture went corporate.

    I understand there is a rough connotation that comes along with the phrase “corporate.” Hell, “going corporate” is not often a phrase someone uses to celebrate something. In this instance, however, I want to try to remove The Walking Dead as scripted art and entertainment and instead talk about the outsized cultural entity that is The Walking Dead fandom. The show has its struggles and certainly won’t be compared to Picasso’s “Guernica” anytime soon, but it is art. The fandom around it, however, has been incorporated under the AMC corporate umbrella in fascinating ways.

    We all know that geekdom is celebrated (and some would argue exploited) in the mainstream in ways far beyond what Dungeons & Dragons players in the ’80s could have ever imagined. Swords and shields dominate premium cable in the form of Game of Thrones. And in cinema, it’s going to be a long time before anyone has a better year than Disney with its twin blockbuster hydra of Star Wars and the Marvel movies.

    Still, The Walking Dead represents the most interesting case for how giant entertainment entities come to turn “fans” into “consumers.”

    Step one is to create something good. Well, something within a fandom-friendly, entertaining genre that’s good. The Walking Dead has certainly creatively stagnated in some ways in its later seasons but remember what the show was like back in 2010? AMC could not have possibly knocked the ball further out of the park.

    The network had already earned viewers attention and trust with legitimate television masterpieces like Breaking Bad and Mad Men, which afforded AMC the chance to take a risk with a genre show. So the network took a much-loved horror-adjacent comic book, brought in Hollywood heavy-hitter Frank Darabont to shepherd it, and released one of the best genre TV pilots ever, “Days Gone Bye,” right in time for Halloween. To borrow from some of the corporate examples above, “Days Gone Bye” was AMC’s chocolate lava crunch cakes, caramel frappucino, and 5-star skin care diaper.

    It didn’t take long for The Walking Dead to develop a legitimate and vibrant fan community. Just anecdotally, I know there are only two TV series I’ve attended honest-to-goodness watch parties for: Lost and The Walking Dead. You’ve likely gone to one too if you consider yourself a fan of the show. Even if you just Google “Walking Dead watch party” these days, you’re likely to find plenty of options at bars well in advance of season 8’s premiere.

    Traditionally, networks have earned their money by proving to advertisers via services like Nielsen ratings that they have viewers. Now that entertainment has become so fractured and specialized, entertainment companies aren’t just looking for viewers, they’re looking for fans. And by the end of season one, that’s exactly what The Walking Dead had.

    The Walking Dead subreddit currently has more than 401,000 registered users ready to discuss the show. Compare that to some other fandom-friendly offerings. Netflix’s Stranger Things has a subreddit with around 140,000 users, FX’s American Horror Story has around 67,000. Game of Thrones has over 1 million, but that show is absolutely freakish in its mass appeal. Seriously, the thing’s a monster.

    Regardless, people clicking “subscribe” to a subreddit isn’t a perfect measure of fandom size or engagement, but it’s a start. Social media is in many ways the new office watercolor and in that respect, The Walking Dead clearly passes the bar as watercolor entertainment. At the very least, it’s more than fair to claim that The Walking Dead has what we would refer to as a “fandom.”

    Once AMC achieved the creation of a fandom, it’s next step was to begin efforts to take control of it. Again, that has a negative connotation, but I mean that in purely morally neutral terms. AMC execs are not gathered around a dimly-lit study conspiring about how to exploit a TV show’s fanbase while expensive cigar smoke ascends to the ceiling. They’re just savvy business folk and they know how to vertically integrate. Here is TV's most savvy businessman, Jack Donaghy, explaining what vertical integration is.

    “Imagine that your favorite corn chip manufacturer also owned the number one diahrrhea medication," Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) explains.

    With a massive hit on its hands, AMC sought to make a second show that would turn discussion about their cash cow into a product. Enter The Talking Dead.

    In hindsight, it’s kind of weird that we didn’t make a bigger deal of The Talking Dead’s existence. Sure, there was some critical snickering about whether there needed to be a whole hour on TV devoted to recapping, deconstructing, and discussing a silly zombie show. But early critics failed to see that fans were almost always talking about this silly zombie show - they were talking about it at watch parties, on social media threads, and fan forums. The fact that AMC decided to get in on the chatter is rather ingenious.

    The Talking Dead also debuted far earlier than you remember. AMC launched the Chris Hardwick-hosted post-episode talk show at the beginning of season 2. That means that for all of The Walking Dead’s soon-to-be 100 episodes, only six have not been followed by a talk show.

    The Talking Dead is actually good, thanks to Hardwick’s undeniable charm, but it almost doesn’t even matter if it is or not. The show is really just AMC’s opportunity to monopolize more of Walking Dead fans’ time and attention.

    The Talking Dead serves to deconstruct the show in almost real time. This is not unusual for television or fandom culture in general. Sometimes it seems like all of television was created back in the 20th century just so one day we could all argue in an A.V. Club comments section. What is unusual, however, is that it’s a product from the show’s corporate creators intended directly for the fans or consumers of that product. And The Talking Dead goes far beyond just wanting Walking Dead fans to have their eyes on AMC for an extra hour. The show also helped tremendously with shepherding fan engagement on multiple, non-TV platforms.

    Hardwick, like a millennial Bob Barker, hosts the show with an eye towards generating social media conversation. The Talking Dead is an outlet for the creative forces behind the show to discuss their creation, but it’s also an outlet for fans to participate in online polls and on social media. If AMC were merely interested in viewership, they would just roll directly into the nerd-adjacent Comic Book Men after The Walking Dead. With The Talking Dead, however, they’re able to keep not only viewership but also conversation going.

    That leads to another interesting aspect of the show's fandom. Despite, those large subreddit numbers, there are not many other AMC-independent fan outlets to discuss and celebrate the show. Fan forums like “Walking Dead Forums” and “Roamers and Lurkers” receive a relatively paltry amount of visitors for a show with around 15 million viewers an episode.

    There are potential mitigating factors for this. Perhaps the existence of social media powerhouses like Reddit downplay the need for the thriving discussion boards that existed during the days of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, and Lost. Or maybe this is a result of the show’s recent creative struggles. Still, it’s hard not to notice that this is a seismic shift in the way that fandom interacts with itself.

    There is one final way in which AMC interacts with the show's fandom and treats them as consumers. I mentioned earlier that we would be divorcing the show from the phenomenon but we’re going to have to dive back into the show for a moment.

    The Walking Dead has gone through some major creative and personnel changes throughout the years. Initial creator Frank Darabont was let go partway through season two of the show, which led to one of the all-time great behind the scenes TV shitshows. There are many potential reasons for Darabont’s departure. AMC alleges that Darabont was erratic and difficult to deal with behind the scenes. Darabont alleges that the network was unwilling to give him creative freedom or an adequate budget. Regardless of the reasoning, Darabont was jettisoned and Glen Mazarra took over. Mazarra’s version of the show happened to hew more closely to the original comic source material. Comic characters like Michonne and Tyreese were introduced and the characters came to settle at the infamous prison setting.

    Then Mazarra left and writer Scott Gimple took over. Gimple’s version of the show was even more faithful to the source material, and by the time season five rolled around, it was fairly easy for comic readers to predict the various beats for each subsequent season.

    It’s impossible to know the true reasoning behind both Darabont and Mazarra’s exits. Still, it cannot be denied that each time The Walking Dead has undergone a regime change, the show has become more faithful to the comic. We could read absolutely nothing into that, if we wanted. The comics are very good and perhaps each subsequent showrunner has realized that to be the case. But there is a certain air of “give the people what they want” on AMC’s end that cannot be ignored.

    When season seven struggled to grab its audience in its first eight episodes - many of the people involved with the show began to give public assurances that they had heard the fan community's concerns and that a brighter future was ahead.

    At a conference shortly before the second half of season seven premiered, producer Gale Anne Hurd assured audiences that they were being heard and that the show tone down the violence a bit.

    “We were able to look at the feedback on the level of violence. We did tone it down for episodes we were still filming for later on in the season,” she said.

    Then, at the Paley Center for Media’s 34th annual PaleyFest, showrunner Gimple promised not only a definitive season seven finale but also a return to greatness in season eight.

    "The season finale will be a conclusion that promises an epic story ahead. It's about setting up season eight but also beyond,"he said.

    Even the stars got involved with the apologies. Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) told Entertainment Weekly:

    I was saying that about the first half. I think part of that chatter you’re talking about came from me. But you know, it’s true: You can’t make everybody happy about everything. But we try, and you have to keep the story moving forward at all times or you just tell the same story over and over again. But I know new actors that came onto this show that were like, “Man, I miss the old group,” and they were playing new roles this season. So I know that everybody felt it.

    These are creative people talking about their art in a manner that we’re more accustomed to seeing from petroleum companies after an oil spill. The cast and crew's reaction to the criticism was less “this is our singular, creative vision and we’re sorry to hear you don’t like it," and more “we know we kind of took things too slow this time but don’t worry, we’ll speed the plot up to keep you happy.”

    The language the creative team and actors to speak to its viewers seems to address them as both fans and consumers. In some respects, that is actually good news. Fans who care enough about genre shows to develop thriving fandom communities around them have historically been all but ignored. On the other hand, AMC has put great effort into bringing fans entirely into their umbrella.

    It’s not out of the goodness of their nerd-loving hearts, of course. There is gold to be found in them fandom hills. Still, in post-millennium Western culture, there is probably no better metric for whether a group has arrived than when a corporate entity desires their purchasing power.  Whether one views it as a net positive or negative, it’s hard to deny that AMC has harnessed the awesome power of fandom. 


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    Pulse Films has purchased the rights to Meet Me in the Bathroom, a book that documents New York's exciting post 9/11 music scene

    News Alec Bojalad
    Dec 10, 2017

    Pulse Films, the company behind projects like Beyonce's HBO "Lemonade" special, and two Nick Cave documentaries, has optioned Lizzy Goodman's earyl 2000s New York musc scene book Meet Me in the Bathroom with the intention of creating a documentary miniseries. 

    According to Variety, directors Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern of LCD Soundsystem's concert film Shut Up and Play the Hits are attached to direct. The series doesn't have a distribution or streaming home yet though Vice Media seems like a smart bet, having recently acquired a majority stake in Pulse Films. 

    Goodman's critically-adored book documents a burgeoning New York music scene that includes the likes of The Strokes, LDC Soundsystem, and Interpol at a unique time in history. In a post 9/11 landscape, a lot about the world was confusing but the New York indie scene was blossoming with bands and acts who were able to deftly juggle new sounds with old influences.

    The series will follow the book's lead and is being billed as a story of transformation - how one city confronted the impossible with the fun and familiar. It will feature archived footage and interview with bands from the time to go along with modern interviews.

    “Lizzy’s book captures a moment and a feeling in a way that is immediate, visceral and evocative, and those are the qualities we want to bring to the screen,” Lovelace and Southern said in a statement. “Beyond being a document of a vital and exciting period of creativity in one of the world’s greatest cities, bringing ‘Meet Me in the Bathroom’ to the screen is also an opportunity to explore the seismic changes that have occurred in the culture since the turn of the century.” 

    Goodman is on board as an executive producer. Hopefully she knows to include a lot of footage of the best Strokes song. 


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    Curious how the second half of Walking Dead season 8 will pan out? Here's how Rick might defeat Negan based on the comics!

    Feature Alec Bojalad
    Dec 11, 2017

    This Walking Dead article contains spoilers.

    It's been a rough season for Rick and his coalition. The plan to oust the Saviors has gone spectacularly awry and lives have been lost in the process (R.I.P. Eric, Shiva, and Carl Grimes). The Saviors have taken the battle to Rick's front door and virtually destroyed Alexandria. 

    If this season of The Walking Dead were Star Wars, "How It's Gotta Be" is for sure The Empire Strikes Back. Still, when we read the Walking Dead tealeaves, otherwise known as Robert Kirkman's original comic series, there is some hope on the horizon. 

    Dark times are certainly ahead for Rick and friendsnand with them will come more death. But if The Walking Dead comics are any indication, a decisive victory for Alexandria/Hilltop/Kingdom is right around the corner. And shortly after that, something that the survivors of this story have not experienced in a long time: peace.

    What follows is a breakdown of what we can likely expect from The Walking Dead season 8's second half based on the comic source material. Since Scott Gimple's elevation to Walking Dead showrunner, the show has followed the comics fairly closely, with only a few notable exceptions (Eugene, what has gotten into you?). 

    If everything goes according to plan, The Walking Dead season 8.5 is likely to adapt Volume 21 of the comics, "All Out War - Part Two," which covers issues #121-126.

    And if only 6 issues seems like a small number for 8 hour-long episodes of TV, congratulations, you just diagnosed all the current problems with the show. But we digress. Here is your helpful (and again: INCREDIBLY SPOILER-FILLED) guide for what's to come on The Walking Dead.

    He Who Controls the Bullets…

    Eugene Porter is the aspect of The Walking Deadshow that has diverged the most from the comic. In the books, Eugene may be a coward but he is also Rick's man through and through. 

    The show presents a more three-dimensional view of Eugene or maybe just a more realistic one with varying levels of success. Regardless, the changes in Eugene's character beg some questions as to how the second half of the season is going to deal with certain plotlines. 

    Namely: who is Eugene going to make bullets for? Eugene really comes into his own after his buddy Abraham's death in the Walking Dead comic universe. By the time "All Out War" rolls around, Eugene realizes that it's time to put his intellect to good use and start manufacturing bullets for Alexandria.

    Eugene has already filled this role within the show's universe, making bullets for the survivors before defecting to the Saviors. Now that the Saviors have cleared out the Walkers surrounding the Sanctuary and there appears to be a greater need for ammunition, expect Eugene back at the factory cranking out munitions.

    Biological Warfare

    One concept that The Walking Dead season 8 has stealthily introduced from the comics is the inherent danger of rotting guts. It turns out that covering oneself in the decaying flesh and viscera of long-dead zombies may not be the healthiest choice as Father Gabriel tragically finds out. 

    In the comics, Negan makes a similar discovery but in a much safer way. As the Saviors prepare for their assault on the Hilltop, Negan introduces them to a new strategy they will use to win the war. They will coat their weapons in walker guts so when they pierce their enemies' flesh, the victim will become infected and die. 

    Negan and company put this into practice when the Saviors storm the Hilltop. Negan has one of his snipers shoot and kill the guard Kal and then they breach the gates and attack the citizens. The survivors are able to repel the Saviors back but not before some of the survivors are struck with the contaminated weapons.

    Nicholas, who was still alive at this point in the comics, develops a mysterious fever that mystifies the Hilltop doctor, Harlan (currently taken hostage by the Saviors in the show), because it is from a normal wound. Nicholas' condition eventually worsens and he dies, leading Harlan to recognize the biological warfare strategy the Saviors have employed. This naturally freaks out the survivors as Rick has been struck in the side by a crossbow bolt from Dwight. When Rick doesn't develop a fever, however, he realizes that Dwight is fully and truly on their side.

    The Walking Deadshow will almost certainly adapt the Savior assault on the Hilltop and their contanimated weapon strategy. For one, there is nowhere else for the Saviors to attack now that Alexandria is off the map and all the survivors are slowly gathering at the Hilltop. There's also the matter of Maggie's Savior prisoners. She's finally decided to execute one and send his corpse back to the Saviors, which will undoubtedly cause a visit from Simon. 

    Since Nicholas isn't around to become a casualty however, look for another Alexandrian to bite the dust. Smart money is on Tobin since his comic book counterpart is already long gone. 

    Mercy 

    In the comic, Negan assumes that Rick is dead because he was struck by one of Dwight's contaminated bolts. So after letting the Hilltop chill for a couple of days, he returns and demands to speak with their newly elected leader. He's astonished to see Rick emerge from the Hilltop gates. The Sheriff tells the villain that it's time for a long, overdue chat.

    Rick basically asks, "Wtf dude." Negan calls himself a Savior, yet they're at war. Negan explains his rationale for all the violence, saying that everything he's done has been in the interest of survival. This is a harsh world and it needs a harsh man to lead the survivors into a new age. 

    Rick says that those harsh days are gone and they can all survive together now, establish fair trade routes, and end the violence once and for all. Rick's argument is a convincing one and Negan concedes that maybe he's been going about this wrong the whole time. Maybe Rick's way is the right way. 

    "Good," Rick responds and slashes Negan's throat. 

    Bu...bu...but why is the first episode of season 8 called "Mercy?" Why have we been treated to extended Siddiq monologues about the concept of forgiveness and mercy? Because after Rick attacks Negan, the villain hits back and violently breaks Rick's leg before passing out. Despite his mangled leg, Rick insists that the Hilltop doctor, Harlan, treat Negan and keep him alive. 

    This is a new world under Rick and the new world means we don't simply kill our foes. Rick wants Negan alive so that he can be imprisoned for his crimes against humanity. Rick gets his way, as Negan is saved and is locked away in the bowels of a rebuilt Alexandria.

    Improbably, this all kind of works in the comic. Negan's about-face may seem sudden and silly but the character as fleshed out by Kirkman really does seem to believe in survival above all else. The issue that the show will have to confront in the season 8 finale is: can this version of Negan be redeemed? 

    By the time the season 8 finale rolls around, Negan will have been around as the big bad for a whopping 32 episodes. He's killed some of our favorite characters, he keeps a harem of unwilling-to-semi-willing women as wives. He clearly relishes his role as the big bad wolf. Not only that but Rick has solemnly sworn on no fewer than three occassions that he will one day kill him.

    Is there a possible way that the show can have both Negan AND Rick change their minds simultaneously at the climactic moment? We shall see. Perhaps Carl's death in the show universe is the motivating agent of change for both characters.

    Old Man Rick

    That leaves one bit of business to be resolved. What was with those weird flash-forwards of a silver-haired Rick living in a peaceful future? In season 8 of The Walking Dead, it initially wasn't clear whether that was a flash-forward or a fantasy sequence? Considering that Carl appears in the sequence, it seems as though it was merely a Rick Grimes fever dream.

    In the comics, however, it's no fantasy. There really is a more peaceful time on the horizon. The war against Negan and the Saviors ends in issue 126. Issue 127 begins two years later with a handful of different survivors out in the wilderness about to be killed by a herd of walkers. They're rescued at the last minute by a now longer-haired and even sexier Jesus.

    Jesus takes the new characters to safety in Alexandria, which is completely rebuilt and has become a beautiful, idyllic post-apocalyptic community. There are mills, actual streets, and workers working on new buildings constantly. In fact all of the communities are planning on holding a big fair at Alexandria so all the survivors can get together and party. 

    When the new survivors are taken to meet Alexandria's leader, we get our first glimpse at what we can lovingly call Old Man Rick. Rick has cut his shaggy hair down to a graying buzzcut. He wears a prosthetic on his missing hand (which is not part of the TV show currently), and he needs a cane to walk around as the leg that Negan broke never healed properly. 

    Obviously, the happiness isn't quite there to stay. There are approximately 50 issues of the comic after 127 (so far) and they certainly aren't just about how happy everyone is all the time. But the two-year time jump into an era of peace for Alexandria, the Hilltop, the Kingdom, and even the Sanctuary represents the biggest collective exhale for these characters yet. 

    Let's hope The Walking Dead show affords its characters the same privilege. These people need a break. 


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    Who ever thought that the adventures of Jonathan Kent and Damien Wayne would make for one of the best DC Comics around?

    InterviewMarc Buxton
    Dec 11, 2017

    Welcome to a new generation of DC superhero greatness. Whoever thought that a super powered son of Superman would be embraced by fans? When director Bryan Singer tried to introduce the idea in Superman Returns, fans met the idea with a resounding, “NO!” But somehow, DC has made fans fall in love with Jonathan Kent, the son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane and the hero known as Superboy!

    But the youngest Kent is not the only second generation costumed champion swatting bad guys around the DC Universe. There is also Damien Wayne, the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul and the latest hero to take up the mantle of Robin. Where Damien is dark and driven, Jonathan is bright and hopeful. Where their fathers make up the World’s Finest team, Superboy and Robin make up the Super Sons. DC Comics and writer Peter Tomasi have been delivering super kid excitement every month in the pages of Super Sons, and we got to sit down with the writer at New York Comic Con to discuss fathers and sons, and perhaps the most important character in the Super Sons book- Superboy’s mom, Lois Lane.

    Den of Geek: Did you pitch for Super Sons, or did DC come to you with the idea?

    Peter Tomasi: They went through some original pitches, eventually, they just gave it me.

    What drew you to Damien and Superboy?

    Honestly, I love writing kids. I think having a boy of my own, he was ten when I started writing Robin, the age age is great to steal from. It’s been a lot of fun to work on such young characters. To add more muscle and bone to these characters has been great.

    What do you think works when it comes to Jonathan Kent? When they put a super son in a film, fans were like, “Um, no.” The character of Chris Kent didn’t last past Geoff Johns leaving Action Comics. But Jonathan stuck. Why?

    Hopefully, it’s my writing. Dan Jurgens did a great job in Lois and Clark bringing Jon to life. He doesn’t fall far from the tree. He’s a hopeful kid with a lot to learn.

    Where are the kinds now and what’s coming up?

    We’re coming to a crossover with Teen Titans and Superman in December called Super Sons of Tomorrow. It will start in Super Sons, and go into Superman, Teen Titans, and then back to Super Sons. Me and Pat Gleason are writing.

    The dichotomy of the darkness of Damien and the lightness of Jon, is even more startling than the dichotomy between Bruce and Clark. The Super Sons might have the darkest relationship in the DCU.

    I like it. I think Damien is the perfect Robin. His legacy and history makes him fit in the Bat mythos perfectly. Damien and Bruce are the perfect Batman and Robin.

    Damien is a story machine. His grandpa Ra’s Al Ghul, his mom Talia, and he rides around on a Man-Bat.

    He’s all over the place. He’s great.

    Any villains or supporting character you would love to use?

    Well, we’re looking into the aspect of a Mother’s Day issue. And we’re talking both moms- Lois and Talia.

    That would be a great book, Lois and Talia, like Betty and Veronica.

    I can see the Adam Hughes cover right now.

    How does being fathers change the Bruce and Clark dynamic? When the World’s Finest get together, they’re two dads.

    It’s fun. It’s a strange dynamic to work with, but then it became not so strange. It lends itself to drama and conflict. The ages of the kids puts those two parents into new mindsets and situations that make you laugh. There’s something joyous about it, it’s not just dark. Being a parent is fun.

    When’s the parent/teacher issue? Which brings to mind, do they kids go to school?

    Oh, we’re going to be doing stuff with school. We can show that daily grind.

    Talk about writing Lois now that she’s a mom.

    It’s Sarah Conner meets Lois Lane. She was recently in a Hellbat suit. She takes no guff. She’s one of the most important women in comics, and we’re not shying away from that. Soon, you’re going to see her on Apokolips in the pages of Superman, and you’re going to see some serious ass kicking.


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    After The Walking Dead’s consequential midseason finale, star Andrew Lincoln talks about a potential series endgame.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Dec 11, 2017

    This Walking Dead article contains spoilers.

    While The Walking Dead hyped a major moment going into the season eight midseason finale, few fans (outside of the spoiler-seeking ilk,) could have imagined that it would break what stood as an unspoken cardinal rule to seal the fate of its protagonist heir-apparent, Chandler Riggs’ Carl Grimes. Thus, as a series untouchable presumably rides off into the zombie apocalypse sunset, his onscreen dad, Andrew Lincoln, discusses a potential ending for Rick himself on the horizon.

    Speaking to THR in one of the myriad The Walking Dead midseason finale postmortem interviews, Lincoln commented on the oft-discussed topic of the series’ potential endgame, which has become an especially potent topic, given what just occurred in the midseason cliffhanger. In the final scene of "How It's Gotta Be," Carl pulls up his shirt to reveal to his father that he has been bitten on his rib by a walker, which, of course, is a slow and steady death sentence in the show’s mythology. Yet, with Lincoln’s own contract set to expire soon and AMC yet to engage in the once-perfunctory act of renewing The Walking Dead for another season, the end of Rick’s story and that of the cable juggernaut – which still draws massive ratings, despite recent hemorrhaging– is certainly in the public discussion.

    When asked if he sees an end in sight, Lincoln stated:

    “Yeah, I think so. I've said to you before and I really feel that the fans — and also for my own satisfaction — that there deserves to be an end point. There needs to be an end game and that is something that is definitely being talked about. (Laughs.) I can't get into all of that. But all of that will be answered. As I've said to you before — and I will continue to say — my relationship with Rick Grimes is far from over.”

    Viewers were led to believe that Rick’s fate was set in stone, since season eight started with scenes, presumably set years in the future, showing an older, white-bearded, cane-requiring Rick living an idyllic life in Alexandria (which we just saw get destroyed), with partner Michonne, daughter Judith (presumably), and – in what could stand as the biggest anachronism – a very-much alive Carl. Thus, Carl’s imminent death leaves us with questions about everything we thought we knew about the show’s post-"All Out War" period. Indeed, Lincoln promises that viewers won’t have to wait for said answers in the midseason premiere in February. Lincoln said of Rick’s journey:

    “It's such an extraordinary story and in my heart, it deserves some resolution.” 

    With Carl’s death apparently an inevitability, one of the primary motivating forces for Rick since the series began – building a safe and satisfying world for Carl – has essentially been negated. However, unlike his counterpart in Robert Kirkman’s comic book series, Rick still has his toddler daughter (dubious paternity notwithstanding), Judith, as a motivator for building his new society. Thus, the loss of Carl, who was recently seen chatting up his father about potentially showing mercy to the Saviors after the war concludes, may be the impetus for Rick to carry out the aligning comic books storyline’s surprising climax (which I won’t spoil, since there are enough spoilers here).   

    The Walking Dead may be getting a little long in the tooth and has brandished a storyline that, while tremendously popular in the comic book series, has tested the patience of its viewers. However, it would be premature to anticipate its ending, especially with exciting things in the works for the TV franchise set to occur, notably next year’s crossover plans for (the formerly-maligned) spinoff series Fear the Walking Dead set, which will see Lennie James’s Morgan Jones – a TWD mainstay since the pilot episode – jump over to the spinoff’s main cast. Plus, speculation surrounding the introduction of the comic series' savage, skin-mask-wearing antagonist group, the Whisperers, will likely keep die-hard fans engaged.  

    The Walking Dead will pick up from its heartbreaking cliffhanger moment when Season 8B premieres on February 25, 2018.


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    The Walking Dead just delivered what may become a monumental exit and the cast member in question dishes on getting the news.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Dec 11, 2017

    This Walking Dead article contains spoilers.

    Ever since AMC’s The Walking Dead launched in 2010, the casualty-heavy zombie apocalypse series has operated on the unspoken rule that protagonist Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his son Carl (Chandler Riggs) serve as the collective fulcrum on which the story will always hinge. However, Season 8 midseason finale, “How It’s Gotta Be,” may stand as having broken that rule concerning Carl. Now, Riggs is opening up about the process of being informed that his formerly plot-armored The Walking Dead character will be… well, dead.

    While Carl isn’t technically dead yet on The Walking Dead, Riggs has given a number of post-mortem interviews in the aftermath of said midseason finale and, based on how he’s describing the process, seems resigned to the idea that he has already wrapped his role on the series. It’s a major life event for the young actor, who was only 11 when the role began and has now turned 18, ready to move on to other acting endeavors as an adult in the eyes of the law. Of course, the move remains a curious one, seeing as Carl’s story continues to greater heights in the pages of Robert Kirkman's comic book series, on which the show is based.

    Interestingly, while Riggs’s apparent college prospects fueled speculation that he was planning an exit of some kind from the series, it seems that this wasn't the case. As Riggs explains to THR on the moment when showrunner Scott M. Gimple gave him the news about Carl’s fate:

    “I was planning on going to college until I found out. I found out when I was doing rehearsals for episode six back in June. It was quite the shocker for me, Andy and everyone because I don't think anyone saw it coming. It's definitely not a bad thing because it has been awesome being on the show, but now I get to go and do a lot of other stuff that I haven't gotten to do before. Scott wanted to meet in person because it was such a big deal. We had just finished rehearsing for a scene in episode six and he wanted to meet with me and my mom and dad and talk about what's going to happen.”

    The episode, “How It’s Gotta Be,” saw apocalypse extortionists the Saviors, led by Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan, retaliate against Rick and his rebelling cohorts, who had gained the upper hand and were on the verge of victory for the first half of the season. After Carl – with suspicious little regard for his own life – led the denizens of Alexandria to safety into a hiding place in the sewers away from the Saviors’ grenade firebombing, the episode concludes with a returning Rick walking up to a grounded Carl, who pulls up his shirt to reveal a (rib-located) walker bite he sustained earlier, which, in this undead-overrun world, is a death sentence. Thus, barring a serious dose of Deus ex Machina, February’s midseason premiere should properly serve as Carl’s curtain call episode.

    As far as Gimple’s reasoning for this imminent colossal casualty, Riggs explains that it was designed to give weight to Rick’s decision regarding the fate of Negan and the Saviors. Indeed, the corresponding “All Out War” storyline of the comic book series culminates with a showdown between Rick and Negan in which Rick emerges victorious after slashing Negan’s throat. However, Rick – whose leg is permanently injured in the kerfuffle – makes the decision to save Negan’s life and keep him as a permanent prisoner in Alexandria as a sign that civil society can be restored. As Riggs explains:

    “Scott was trying to figure out how to bridge the gap between Rick not wanting to kill Negan and Rick also really wanting to kill Negan, which he does right now [in the show's story]. Scott's way to get around that was to make Carl this really humanitarian figure and person who could see the good in people and see that people can change and not everyone out there is bad. That's what Carl's talk to Rick was in this episode: there's no way that they can kill every one of the Saviors and not everyone is a bad person and there has to be some way forward than just killing people.”

    Riggs also explains the process of being a cast casualty on The Walking Dead, though his is clearly a unique one, given the scale of the character. As Riggs tells EW:

    “Everyone was like, “Are you okay?” And I’d be like, “Yeah, I’m totally fine. I’m moving out to L.A. in a month. It’s actually awesome!” So, it was weird, but everybody was really nice and we had a death dinner. It was really helpful that I had made up my mind in moving to Los Angeles and doing music and everything and had a positive outlook on it — that really helped the morale of the cast and crew in not being too worried about me.”

    However, Riggs’s father didn’t quite see profundity in Gimple’s vision of Carl’s end and took to Facebook (with a subsequently-deleted post,) to call the move “disappointing” and occurring after Chandler was told he’d have at least three more years on the series.

    Regardless, Carl is, for now, still alive and kicking, despite him being beyond the help of reinforcements or an advantageously-placed dumpster. While there’s every indication that he’s destined to meet his end, The Walking Dead has previously led us down the primrose path when it comes to purported deaths and the frankness with which the yet-to-occur moment is being discussed does raise suspicion.

    The Walking Dead will resume with Season 8B when it premieres on February 25, 2018.


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    A weirdly subdued episode ends by reminding us: never trust a telepath.

    This The Gifted episode review contains spoilers.

    The Gifted Episode 10

    It's a blessing and a strength for The Gifted that they can have a seemingly insubstantial episode that's still entertaining enough, and in snippets, moves the season's plot forward pretty substantially. Ultimately what we get from "eXploited" is a reminder: telepaths, especially the ones who are clones of Emma Frost, are shady people who shouldn't be trusted.

    Esme's been a bad seed for a few episodes now. She was clearly playing multiple sides, manipulating everyone in the resistance to get what she wanted: a reunification with her two sisters, who when the three work together, are extremely powerful hive-mind telepaths. We see her manipulation play out through most of the episode: she talks the Strucker parents into going to Agent Turner to try and convince him to transfer everyone from Trask's experimental lab to regular prison; then going to the rest of the underground and diming the Struckers out to get them to set up an attack on the prisoner transfer. Herein lies the big problem with "eXploited."

    The Struckers have no problem swiping a car and running off, nor do they really get hassled when they get back to HQ. But for some reason, Esme couldn't steal wheels and hit the transfer herself. This, despite the fact that she tasers Eclipse and takes down the entire caravan by herself, is a pretty gaping plot hole - she needlessly complicates her own sisters' escape.

    This whole plot was really convoluted, though. The Struckers' conversation, despite Cate's condemnation of moderates in the ride over to Casa Turner, is pointless. Their plan is to convince Jace to make the transfer, but they're really targeting Jace's wife, considering Agent Turner spent a good couple of minutes earlier telling Dreamer how much he was looking forward to handing her off to Trask's hound program. 

    Speaking of Dreamer, she's the big plot point of the third part of the story this week: her, Blink and the Strucker siblings are transfered to Trask, and Ahab shoots Dreamer to convince the Strucker kids to use their powers on their test room. That apparently convinces them, and they melt down an adamantium wall with their abilities. I'm sure it can be no prized away, but it feels like a missed opportunity that they didn't use their combined powers to melt down their collars or lead an escape: they seem to impact things at a molecular level, so it shouldn't have been that tough to break out. I know, I know, they've never really used their powers like that before. Still, it's like Chekhov's hand hold right now.

    This episode was a lot better until I started thinking about it, and it's a little disappointing how The Gifted seems to be slowing down as it heads to the finish line. The next episode is apparently a two-hour season finale, so the return to mutant-on-mutant violence will hopefully help it get back to what it was.

    PHOENIX EGGS

    -The walls of the test chamber are lined with adamantium they pulled from a "decomissioned military base in British Columbia." That is a reference to Alkali Lake, the facility that gave Logan his adamantium bones in X2

    -I won't say that the little girl at the Montez rally was a Nuke reference, but I also won't say she WASN'T a Nuke reference. Nuke was a failed experiment with the super soldier serum who went crazy because of an imbalanced practice serum. According to Grant Morrison's seminal X-Men run, Nuke was also Weapon II, the second attempt by the government to create a mutant hunter. He showed up in season 1 of Jessica Jones, too.

    -I was going to make a crack about Lauren's perfect manicure, but it's really only been like, four days since the show started. I'm reaching mostly because this was such a light week for X-Men bits.

    2.5/5
    ReviewJim Dandy
    Dec 11, 2017

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    The classic Image Revolution title gets a relaunch this March! Cyber Force returns!

    NewsJim Dandy
    Dec 12, 2017

    Cyber Force, the Image Revolution launch title started by superstar artist Marc Silvestri at the company's inception back in 1992, is getting a relaunch this spring. Matt Hawkins, who has been at least co-writing previous volumes since 2012, will be joined by writer Bryan Hill (Postal) and artist Atilio Rojo (Samaritan). The trio will dig deep in the "cyber" portion of Cyber Force.

    "My first pitch to Matt was set in that universe," said Hill in a statement. "When Marc created it, concepts of transhumanism and its effect on society were just esoteric theory, but now we live in that reality. We're a species using technology to ‘perfect’ ourselves, but in what image? What happens when evolution stops being a natural process and becomes a mechanized one? What is the future of this new humanity?"

    The book starts with Morgan Stryker as the victim of a terrorist attack. He's mortally wounded, but his employers go to extraordinary lengths to save his life. Those extraordinary lengths include, apparently, massive cybernetic enhancements. In earlier volumes, Stryker was an army colonel with three metal right arms, and while the cover doesn't seem to indicate he'll be getting those bonus appendages, it does look like there's a half metal future in the works for him. The first issue is due out from Image Comics and Top Cow Productions (Silvestri's publishing house within the Image umbrella) in March. 

    “I’ve always loved CYBER FORCE,” said Hawkins. “These heroes are more technologically based, and we’re very close to transhumanism as it is! This story has a philosophical slant to it that is very appropriate to the changing times we’re in.” Hopefully that doesn't mean MECHA TRUMP. Based on previous runs with these characters, it's unlikely, but it's too soon to rule anything out.

    For more on Cyber Force, cyber punk, cyber activism, but hopefully nothing on Cyber, stick with Den of Geek!


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    Who needs Peter Parker? We spotlight pretty much every different version of Spider-Man ever!

    The ListsMarc Buxton
    Dec 12, 2017

    Spider-Man is such a resilient and iconic character that the legend of the arachnid crime fighter can endure even when Peter Parker isn't the one under the mask. Heck, even Doctor Octopus was once locked inside Peter Parker’s mind, controlling the hero’s every action, transforming the once likable hero into cold and calculating Superior Spider-Man.  

    Spider-Man has also been a clone, a robot, fought crime in the future, in alternate realities, and even piloted a giant Japanese mech (what?), but no matter what iteration Spidey has taken, the legend has endured.

    With an animated Spider-Man movie called Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse coming in December 2018, we take a look at the other versions of Spider-Man who have spun a  web (any size!) over the years, from the frightening to the cool to the evil and even the downright strange.  

    Kang’s Spider-Man Robot

    First Appearance: Avengers #11 (1964)

    Created by Stan Lee and Don Heck

    The first time the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes, the Avengers, met Spider-Man, it was not actually Peter Parker in the red and blue suit. It was a robot created by Kang. Now, it’s pretty badass that Kang can just use future tech to whip up a robot that perfectly replicate’s Spider-Man’s powers, but the ‘bot also almost took out the entire Avengers team. The real Peter Parker had to show up to kick the robot’s doppelganger butt and save the Mighty Avengers, marking the first Avengers/Spider-Man team-up, something film fans would chew off their own thumbs to see.

    Before it was revealed that this faux Spider-Man was a machine, the Avengers even offered the phony arachnid Avenger’s membership, something the real Spidey would not gain for decades. Changing its name to Timespinner, The Kang Spider-bot even made a second appearance in Marvel Team-Up#4 (1996), taking on Spider-Clone Ben Reilly and the Avengers.

    Medieval Spidey

    First Appearance: Avataars: Covenant of the Shield #1 (2000)

    Created by Len Kaminski and Oscar Jimenez

    Yes, having the words Avatar, Spider-Man, and the Avengers all in one concept might make Hollywood’s collective heads explode. Marvel’s Avaatars are alternative reality versions of super-heroes that dwell on a sword and sorcery world called Eurth. It’s kind of like Game of Thrones with more costumes and less incest. The Webslinger is the medieval version of Spider-Man, and fights alongside Captain Avalon and his team of super knights.

    Actually, it all sounds kind of cool. Who is up for a return to Eurth? Just think of it: armored versions of Daredevil, Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and Iron Ma-uh, you know what, never mind.

    House of M: Spider-Man

    First Appearance: Spider-Man: House of M #1 (2005)

    Created by Mark Waid, Tom Peyer, and Salvador Larroca

    House of M is considered one of the better Marvel crossovers of the modern Marvel era. Of course there was a huge role for Peter Parker in the world where mutants ruled.

    The House of M version of Spidey is fraught with irony, as Peter actually lives a good life in the dystopian reality. For one, the world believes Peter to be a mutant and as such, this Spider-Man gains fame and acceptance that the regular Marvel Universe Spider-Man never received, and many great tragedies of the Spider-Man mythos have been avoided. Uncle Ben and Aunt May are both alive and well, Peter is married to and has a child with Gwen Stacy, and Sony never interfered in the scripting of Spider-Man 3 and actually let Sam Raimi make a good movie (I made that last bit up). 

    Manga Spider-Man

    First Appearance: Monthly Shōnen Magazine January 1970 – September 1971

    Created by Kōsei Ono, Kazumasa Hirai, and Ryoichi Ikegami

    Yes, Japan had two Spider-Men of its own. This is the less insane one.

    When Junior High Schooler Yu Komori is bitten by a radioactive spider, he is transformed into Japan’s own wall crawling sensation. Similar characters and tropes from the legend of Peter Parker defined the Spider Manga. Yu had a loving elderly Aunt and worked for a cantankerous newspaper publisher, plus, he fought such menaces as Electro, the Lizard, and the Kangaroo.

    Now let’s get this straight, of all the great Spider-Man villains to choose from, the Japanese creators of manga Spidey go with the Kangaroo?

    Let’s just hope Mark Webb doesn’t follow that lineage of villains. He’s two-thirds there already! Manga Spidey is a fascinating alternate take on Spider-Man and is well worth seeking out, but really Japan, the Kangaroo?

    MC2 Peter and Spider-Girl

    First appearance: What If (Vol. 2) #105 (1998)

    Created by Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz

    If old school is your thing, then MC2 Peter Parker and his daughter “Mayday” are the heroes for you.  Essentially, the MC2 Universe was designed to be the next chapter in the saga of the Marvel Universe, stories that exist in a possible future.

    Spider-Girl saw a retired Peter Parker try to find a sense of non-super-hero normalcy after he lost his leg in the battle with the Green Goblin. After his daughter May develops spider powers, May and Peter are thrust back into a world of adventure. 

    Writer Tom DeFalco and artist Ron Frenz fought low sales for almost a decade but kept plugging away at the Spider heroes of tomorrow. It’s a bit surprising that neither Disney nor Sony has tried to exploit this property It screams ‘tween sitcom.

    Gerry Drew Spider-Man

    First appearance: Spider-Girl #32 (2001)

    Created by Ron Frenz and Tom DeFalco

    Another MC2 DeFlaco and Frenz creation, Gerry Drew was the son of the original Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew. A rare blood ailment was killing the poor Drew child but it also granted him strange powers. Gerry decided to spend his last days fighting crime and trained under Darkdevil (who was, y’know, Daredevil, but dark...oh, comics).

    Gerry didn’t wear the webs for long, but he was a neat character study into the psyche of a dying young man. Happily, Reed Richards promised to find a cure for the boy. Usually, Reed keeps his promises of finding a cure unless he’s trying to cure someone covered in orange rocks, so things probably worked out well for young Gerry.

    I mean seriously Disney/Sony or whomever, this has CW or ABC Family drama written all over it. Why aren’t you on this? Victoria Justice as Spider-Girl...It writes itself!

    Zombie Spider-Man

    First appearance: Ultimate Fantastic Four #22 (2005)

    Created by Mark Millar and Greg Land

    Superheroes are popular, and so are zombies. When Marvel mashed up their pantheon of heroes with flesh-devouring zombies, they discovered the two genres went great together.

    On an alternate universe discovered by the Ultimate Fantastic Four, Marvel’s brightest paragons of justice had turned into lumbering flesh eaters.  First Mark Millar and Greg Land, and then Mr. Zombie himself, Robert Kirkman, and artist Sean Phillips presented the dark world of Marvel Zombies, and by Odin’s dangling nether parts, was it disturbing.

    Peter Parker was a particularly twisted version of the classic character, as ‘ol Pete was just as ravenous a flesh eater as the other atrocities, except Peter, in true Peter fashion, was ravaged with guilt over once having devoured Aunt May and Mary Jane Watson. One can only guess what happened to Ms. Lion.

    After Kirkman, many other writers followed, fleshing (ha) out the twisted world of Marvel Zombies, and poor old guilt ravaged Peter was along for the ride, proving again and again with great power comes great hunger and the need to eat peoples’ faces and internal organs. Where’s Daryl Dixon when you need him?

    Man-Spider

    First appearance: Mutant X #6 (1999)

    Created by Howard Mackie and Cary Nord

    In the Mutant X universe, (it was a reality where the regular Marvel Universe Havok went for a bit, Storm was a vampire...It was the ‘90s, don’t ask questions). Spider-Man was a mutated hero with four arms that joined forces with the heroes of that reality. He was killed by the villainous Goblin Queen and replaced with a four armed clone who was also killed at some point.

    In the regular Marvel Universe, the real Spidey also had four arms for a brief period of time in a classic story by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, and Gil Kane (Amazing Spider-Man #100-103), where he fought the Lizard and the freshly introduced Morbius. That story was awesome. Mutant X, not so much.

    Powerless Peter

    First Appearance: Powerless #1 (2004)

    Created by Matt Cherniss, Peter Johnson, Alex Maleev, and Michael Gaydos

    On the surface, Marvel’s 2004 mini-series Powerless doesn’t sound like the most gripping of sagas, but it was actually a surprisingly good read with insanely cool art.

    The premise of the book is a world of super-heroes with no super powers. Most people just call that reality, but it remains one of Marvel’s best experimental series of the last decade.

    In this powerless world, Peter Parker uses the net handle Spider-Man and is still bitten by a radioactive spider. Instead of super powers, Powerless Pete has a nasty, atrophied arm. Of all the Peters in all the multiverse, this one got the short end of the stick. With shriveled nasty arm, comes absolutely no responsibility beyond weekly doctor’s appointments and massive doses of antibiotics. 

    Spider-Man 1602

    First Appearance: Marvel 1602 #1 (2003)

    Created by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert

    Neil Gaiman’s contribution to the Spider-Man mythos, Peter Parquagh appeared in the great 1602 mini-series. Parquagh was an apprentice to the royal spymaster Nicholas Fury. As Parquagh globetrots with his master, he is constantly coming close to being bitten by unusual spiders. This finally happens in one of the 1602 sequels not written by Neil Gaiman (it was Greg Pak), and Parquagh’s life as a colonial adventure begins in earnest. It’s all very cool and a bit streampunky, and listen, it’s all created by Gaiman, so just read it.

    Spider-Man 2099

    First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #365 (1992)

    Created by Peter David and Rick Leonardi

    Even in the far-flung future, power and responsibility are irrevocably linked. In the long running Spider-Man 2099 series by Peter David and Rick Leonardi, all the elements that make Peter Parker so special are packaged and shipped into the future, where a geneticist named Miguel O’Hara wields the webs. O’Hara is a hero cut from the same cloth as Peter: a victim of an experiment gone wrong, he uses his powers to help his really close to dystopian future.

    Spider-Man 2099 featured kickass world building by David. Using the world of Spider-Man and the Marvel Universe proper as a template, David built a fully functional future that was new enough to grip readers but different enough to provide for an alternate experience to regular Marvel continuity.

    O’Hara is currently swinging around the present Marvel Universe and will soon be featured in his own title written by, because the comic gods are kind, Peter David.

    The rest of the world learned of the awesomeness of O’Hara in the Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions video game, and it looks like Marvel would like nothing better than a 2099 resurgence. 

    Spider-Man 2211

    First appearance: Spider-Man 2099 Meets Spider-Man #1 (1995)

    Created by Created by Peter David and Mike Wieringo

    When Peter Parker met Miguel O’Hara, another era’s Spider-Man went along for the ride: the tragic Spider-Man of 2211, Max Borne. It appears this Spidey was "Borne" to suffer. (editor's note: booooooooo!)

    With the other Spider-Men, Borne had to fight his age’s Hobgoblin, who was actually his daughter driven completely bugnuts. This Hobgoblin was eventually killed by something called a retcon bomb, a weapon that would later be utilized by Dan Didio (oh, stop, we’re just kidding). If that wasn’t tragic enough, at story’s end, Borne is shot and killed by his era’s Chameleon, posing as Uncle Ben.

    Wow, that’s one tragic Spidey. I’m shocked he didn’t Oedipaly kill Uncle Ben and marry Aunt May. Yeeesh. Spidey 2211 was designed by Mark Wieringo, so you know he’s visually awesomesauce.

    Spider-Man Noir

    First appearance: Spider-Man Noir #1 (2009)

    Created by Created by David Hine and Carmine Di Giandomenico

    His hands were stickier than a pick pocket at a taffy convention, he stuck to walls like dames stick to their make-up mirrors. And the way the creators of the Spider-Man: Noir mini weaved in noir elements while maintaining the super-hero integrity of the story was quite the narrative trick. Spider-Man: Noir remains one of the most successfully daring alternate versions of Spider-Man to date.

    Now excuse me while I continue to practice my noir parlance: Miss Watson’s hair was so red it made blood insanely jealous, she had a body that made a priest want to break a stained glass window...

    This version of Spidey also appeared in the Shattered Dimensions video game. 

    Spider-Man: India

    First Appearance: Spider-Man: India #1 (2004)

    Created by created by Sharad Devarajan, Suresh Seetharaman, and Jeevan J. Kan

    Pavitr Prabhakar became the Spider-Man of India in a book published in India and reprinted in the U.S. It’s actually pretty cool how the legend of Spider-Man really does translate well into very distinct cultures. It shows the universality of Peter. At least our creative friends in India had the good taste to not include the Kangaroo in their book.

    Seriously, Japan, what’s up with that?

    Spider-Man Unlimited 

    Original Run: 1999 -2001

    Created by Michael Reaves and Will Meugniot

    Batman Beyond was a pretty big hit back in 1999, so that same year, the fine folks at Marvel Animation created their own alternate take on Spider-Man. After the successful Spider-Man cartoon of the ‘90s, Marvel took Spidey and shunted him off to an alternate Earth where he had a new costume and met up with such characters as the High Evolutionary and Bestial versions of some Marvel’s most famous characters.

    While an animated High Evolutionary should have given fans multiple nerdgasms, the haphazard animation and non-traditional take on Spidey and his world just made fans turn the channel. No Daily Bugle, No Aunt May, no M.J., no great rogue’s gallery, no thanks. Even Venom and Carnage as the recurring baddies couldn’t save this show.

    This taught Marvel one great lesson: unless you have the talents of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm on your show, stick with tradition. Some cool characters did show up on the series like X-51 and bestial versions of Electro and the Green Goblin, which makes this one worth revisiting for curiosity’s sake.

    Marvel also published a short-lived comic that tied into the show, featuring a Bestial Wolverine, so haunt those quarter boxes if you’re really that curious.

    Mac Gargan

    First appearance: as Mac Gargan -- The Amazing Spider-Man #19 (1964)/as Spider-Man -- Dark Avengers #1 (2009)

    Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

    As Mac Gargan, he was one of Spidey’s greatest foes, and when Eddie Brock gave up the symbiote, Gargan became the new Venom, but for a time, Gargan also took the identity of Spider-Man.

    When Norman Osborn formed his own team of Dark Avengers to mock the heroic foes he despised so much, it would only be appropriate that Osborn made one of his twisted Avengers Spider-Man. Enter Mac Gargan, wielder of the Venom symbiote, and the most evil Spider-Man to date.

    Gargan turned the sacred profane by giving into his baser cannibalistic instincts while calling himself Spider-Man. With his psycho teammates, like Bullseye as Hawkeye and Moonstone as Ms. Marvel, Gargan’s Spider-Man cut a bloody swathe across the Marvel Universe.

    Ai Apaec

    First appearance: Osborn #1 (2011)

    Created by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Jamie McKelvie

    After the fall of the first team of Dark Avengers, Osborn tried again, and he still get a kick out of pooping on Spider-Man's name. Osborn’s second Spidey was a South American Spider God transformed into a six armed version of Spider-Man.

    Ai Apaec was dispatched when he was shrunk down by the Avengers and squished by USAgent. A fitting end for a disgusting monstrosity, that’ll learn ya to masquerade as our hero, you six armed freak. *

    Den of Geek would like to apologize to any followers of ancient archaic South American proto-religions that worship spider monsters.

    Spider Doppelganger

    First appearance: The Infinity War #1 (1992)

    Created by Jim Starlin, Ron Lim, and Al Milgrom

    Speaking of disgustingly horrific, multi-limbed versions of Spidey, we have this thing.

    The Spider-Doppelganger was created by the villainous Magus, himself a clone of Adam Warlock, and was really the only monster clone that stuck around the MU after Infinity War. Spider Doppelganger (holy crap, is that a pain in the ass to type) had all the powers of Spider-Man, but looked like Steve Ditko’s worst LSD nightmare.

    Doppie played a huge role in the ultra-popular, not as good as most people seem to remember, "Maximum Carnage" mega-event, where he became sort of a weird pet to Cletus Kasady. It should be noted that Doppie’s Toy Biz figure produced in 1996 completely ruled.

    Blood Spider

    First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #367 (1992)

    Created by David Michelinie and Jerry Bingham

    Blood Spider was an evil version of Spider-Man hired by the Red Skull and trained by Taskmaster. You know when your origin involves two guys with skulls for heads, you’re an evil S.O.B. Blood Spider was last seen trying to kill Venom. It didn’t go well. Blood Spider teamed up with evil versions of Hawkeye and Captain America named Jagged Bow and Death Shield because the '90s.

    Web Man

    First Appearance: Spidey Super Stories #25 (1977)

    Created by Jim Salicrup, Nicola Cuti, Bill Mantlo, and Win Mortime

    Before the Scarlet Spider, before the "Clone Saga," there was Web Man, a villainous clone who wore an awesome inverse of the classic Spider costume. Web Man’s only appearance was in the Electric Company’s Spidey Super Stories comics for young readers.

    Web Man was created by Dr. Doom. How many one-off villains produced for an educational comic can say that? Say what you will, Web Man’s one story was more clean, concise, and entertaining than any part of the "Clone Saga." So take a bow Web Man, you may be all but forgotten, but you got the clone thing right. Seriously though, that is a really cool costume. But yeah, Dr. Doom must have spent two whole seconds coming up with that name.

    What do you want from a villain who thought Doombot was clever?

    Turkish Spider-Man (1973)

    OK, brace yourself now. 3 Giant Men (AKA: Captain America and Santo vs. Spider-Man; Turkish: 3 Dev Adam) features an evil Spider-Man taking on a Turkish Captain America and Mexican Wrestler El Santo.

    No, I haven’t gotten into Grant Morrison’s stash. This is real:

    So how does a Mexican wrestler team-up with a Turkish version of the living embodiment of America to take on an evil version of a famous super-hero? Who the heck knows, but in this nightmarish thing posing as a movie, Spider-Man uses guinea pigs as weapons and survives certain death multiple times.

    There seem to be four different evil Spider-Men that survive Captain America and El Santo. In one scene, Spider-Man kills a nice young couple in cold blood and then steals a statue...I have no idea why.

    The whole emo dance sequence in Spider-Man 3 doesn’t seem so bad now, does it? God, would I love to have been in the writers’ room for this one.

    “No, no, clearly this movie needs a Mexican wrestler!”

    “Yeah, in America, he is a hero, but in our film, statue-stealing thrill killer. That will rake in the liras!”

    Miles Morales

    First appearance: Ultimate Fallout #4 (2011)

    Created by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli

    When Marvel killed off the Ultimate version of Peter Parker -- seemingly for good -- fans thought the House of Ideas must have lost their ever loving minds. Then they met Miles Morales, and most fans who gave the young new hero a chance, fell in love.

    Miles came with his own supporting cast, his own set of problems and motivations, and most importantly, Peter Parker himself plays the Uncle Ben role to Miles. So by extension, Uncle Ben’s universal lesson of power and responsibility extends to Miles through Peter, and that’s pretty cool.

    Miles continues his adventure, filling the late Peter’s shoes so nicely in the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man. Miles is more than just a flash in the pan, a place holder till Peter comes back, he is a true legacy character, and an everyman that lives the legend of Spider-Man. His ethnically diverse background makes him one of the most important new characters of the 21st Century and we say bravo Marvel. 

    Electric Company Spider-Man (1974-1975)

    Many fans, who are now in their forties, were first exposed to Spider-Man through the educational public access show, The Electric Company.

    The Electric Company’s Spidey appeared in shorts during the fourth and fifth season of the show, and saw the Wall Crawler communicate through word balloons designed to help the young viewers learn sight words. Not a bad idea actually. Many of these shorts were narrated by Morgan Freeman, which is 78 kinds of awesome.

    Over the course of 2 seasons worth of shorts, educational Spidey took on such menaces as the Fox, Silly Willy, the Sandman (not the cool Sandman, but some dude that dresses as Wee Willy Winkle), the Yeti, the Bookworm, and the Sack (Stop that now!). The Electric Company Spidey suit was actually pretty cool, and the whole thing still has a wonderfully wholesome nostalgic feel, as the shorts remain a vital part of many fans’ Spidey evolution.

    Attention Dan Slott and Brian Michael Bendis, we dare you to revive Silly Willy or the Sack. We dare you.

    Japanese TV Spider-Man (1978)

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, wow! So this exists:

    In 1978, Marvel and the Toei Company signed a character exchange agreement where each company could use the others’ properties in their respective countries. This led to the Shogun Warriors comic in America and a Tomb of Draculaanimated film in Japan.

    Not to mention this gem.

    The Japanese Spider-Man stuck pretty close to Marvel’s version except for the fact that Japanese Spidey was a motorcycle racer named Takuya Yamashiro who found a UFO and was given super powers. He also used a giant mech named Leopardon. You know, exactly like Lee and Ditko envisioned. By the way, the name of the UFO was the Marveler and it was from the planet Spider.

    This Spider-Man goes up against the Iron Cross Army, led by Professor Monster and the Amazoness, who use giant monsters called Bems to attack Spidey. Spidey frequently uses the Leopardon to defeat the Bems. I love this sentence.

    By the way, one episode featured a song called "Spider-Man Boogie" (which is seriously the best thing ever). Thank you for this, Asia. Seriously. Thank you.

    Ben Reilly

    First appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #149 (1975)

    Created by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru

    It all started out innocently enough. DC had great success with alternate version of Batman and Superman, and Marvel wanted in on the fun, so they brought back the Jackal-created Spider Clone that first appeared and was destroyed in The Amazing Spider-Man #149 by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru.

    Dubbed Ben Reilly, the Spider Clone actually lived, dyed his hair blond, and had lived a life away from Peter. Now Ben was back, and Spider-Man had to deal with the fact that there was another version of him running around.

    Ben soon donned the Scarlet Spider costume, and other than an inexplicable hoodie, it was all pretty cool. That is, until Marvel revealed that Ben was the REAL Peter and Peter was the clone, basically telling fans the last 20 years of Spidey stories had starred the wrong Spidey. It was all a not so clever way to get rid of Spidey’s marriage to Mary Jane, but it didn’t work at all, as fans rejected the idea that their Spidey was the false Spidey. Instead of cutting their losses, Marvel decided to keep the story running for two whole years, and introducing more and more clones till the whole thing got more convoluted than six DC reboots.

    Want to know how it ends?

    Spoiler: Marvel lost 100,000 readers. The end.

    Ben did spend a long time as Spider-Man in his own distinct costume, and even participated in the Marvel and DC crossover, defeating Superboy. Ben could have been a pretty cool character, as Marvel would prove later with the second Scarlet Spider, but poor Ben remains a symbol of '90s excess, a marketing idea gone horribly, horribly wrong. Oh yeah, and he's back, too.

    Spider-Boy

    First appearance: Marvel Versus DC #3 (1996)

    Created by Karl Kesel and Mike Wieringo

    The Amalgam Universe was a mash-up universe where Marvel and DC’s biggest stars were joined together like brightly clad, heroic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Characters like Dark Claw (Wolverine and Batman) and Super Soldier (Captain America and Superman) fascinated fans in two separate months of crossover events.

    The only issue with Spider-Boy was, and I say this with all due respect to Superboy, that the modern Superboy was just not as iconic as Spider-Man, so fans kind of just raised an eyebrow at this oddity.

    At the time, Spider-Man was a clone, as was Superboy, so you can see why the powers that be thought this sort of thing was clever. But it was all just a mish mash of stuff from Spider-Man and Superboy mythos.

    Spider-Boy was created by Project: Cadmus and raised by Thunderbolt Ross (wait that’s a Hulk character...You know what, just go with it). The mash-up hero could walk on walls and had a web pistol. He also took the identity Pete Ross (traditionally Superboy’s BFF), so there really wasn’t much Spider-Man about him at all.

    Oh well, Spider-Boy had a terrific creative team, so he had that going for him. Web pistol?

    Kaine

    First appearance: As Kaine -- Web of Spider-Man #119 (1994)/As Scarlet Spider -- Scarlet Spider #1 (2012)

    Created by Terry Kavanagh and Steven Butler

    Ah, Kaine, good old Kaine, who in recent years proved that the wholeclone thing could work if done right. Originally, Kaine was a rejected Spider-Clone who went bad. He became a major thorn in the side of Ben Reilly and Peter Parker, and served as an anti-hero/straight up villain throughout the ponderous "Clone Saga."

    In recent years, Kaine returned, and because he is engrained with Peter Parker’s sense of responsibility, reluctantly became the Houston, Texas-based vigilante, the new Scarlet Spider. Kaine’s solo book rocked and showed the story potential of a Spider-Clone that didn’t actively piss on two decades of continuity.

    Kaine is currently running with a brand-spanking-new team of New Warriors, another great book worthy of any Spider-Fan's attention.

    Spidercide

    First appearance: The Spectacular Spider-Man #222 (1995)

    Created by Tom DeFalco and Sal Buscema

    Spidercide was the most monstrous clone of Peter Parker, who had all of Spidey’s powers but could also grow and shrink and grow blades from his body. If an alien race observed Earth through mid-90s Marvel, they would believe that every human could grow blades from their body. So thank you mid-90s Marvel for stemming off an invasion of Earth.

    Oh yeah, Spidercide sucked.

    Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham

    First appearance: Marvel Tails #1 (1983)

    Created by Tom DeFalco and Mark Armstrong

    Wow, for good or for ill, Tom DeFalco sure created a ton of Spider-Man derivatives, but none cooler than Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham.

    Long before Homer Simpson sang “Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig,” Peter Porker was doing the arachnapig thing with gusto. Peter was once a spider that was bitten by May Porker and was transformed into a pig-spider hybrid.

    Peter Porker teamed with Captain Americat and the Goose Rider, and the fact that something called the Goose Rider exists should fill everyone with a blissful warmth.

    Who doesn’t love Peter Porker?

    Let us not forget Magsquito and Iron Mouse, or Ducktor Doom and Deerdevil. The whole thing is just pure gold, so thank you, Mr. DeFalco, Peter Porker more than makes up for Spidercide.

    Scarlet Spiders

    First appearance: Avengers: The Initiative #3 (2007)

    Created by Dan Slott and Stefano Caselli

    The Scarlet Spiders were three mysterious men who donned the Tony Stark’s red and gold Spider Armor and served in the Avengers Initiative team. What’s cool about this trio is that Dan Slott created them before he became the writer on Amazing Spider-Man. This was during a time where Peter Parker revealed his identity to the world during the Marvel Civil War.

    The Scarlet Spiders lied and said that Peter used to be one of them, raising doubts in the public that Peter was really the true Spider-Man, providing Marvel an out during the whole public identity era of Spider-Man.

    Slott never got to use this particular subplot because Mephisto and One More Day happened, but the Scarlet Spiders remains a fascinating curiosity in the Spider-Man mythos and pretty cool characters in their own right. Ironically, the Spiders also turned out to be clones, but not of Peter, but of the little known hero named MVP.

    Steel Spider

    First appearance: As Ollie Osnick -- The Spectacular Spider-Man #72 (Nov 1982)/As Spider-Kid -- Amazing Spider-Man #263/As Steel Spider -- Spider-Man Unlimited #5

    Created by Bill Mantlo and Ed Hannigan

    Ollie Osnick was once an overweight but brilliant kid who idolized Dr. Octopus. Ollie went on a crime spree after he buildt his own Ock arms. When Spider-man stops Ollie, the shy lad begins idolizing Spidey and becomes the Spider-Kid.

    As Ollie gets older, and loses some weight, he becomes the Steel Spider. The Steel Spider’s greatest claim to fame is having one of his real arms eaten by the Mac Gargan Venom. 

    The MC2 version of the Steel Spider doesn’t have such a tragic fate, as Ollie joins the Avengers in that universe. Ollie also once joined up with the Toad and Frog Man to form the Misfits, and Marvel should get right on giving that trio their own comic. 

    Dead Spider-Man

    First appearance Edge of the Spider-Verse #2 (2014)

    Created by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez

    No, not vampire or zombie dead, for real dead. So Spider-Gwen has become quite the thing, huh? In an alternate universe, it is Gwen Stacy who gains the proportionate strength and powers of a spider and Peter Parker who takes a dirt nap, inspiring Gwen to use her powers to help others.

    After Gwen received her powers, she began fighting crime as Spider-Woman. Peter Parker was inspired by this new hero and injected himself with a serum that transformed him into this reality’s Lizard. This ended up with Peter dead and Gwen broken hearted but inspired to make sure this kind of tragedy never happens again. So in the Gwen-verse, Peter never became Spider-Man, ended up becoming the Lizard, and is now six feet under because who besides Curt Conners thinks it’s a good idea to just inject lizard DNA into one’s arm?

    Oh well, this dead Peter was a dope...but an inspirational dope because he pointed Spider-Gwen in the right heroic direction after he lizard died.


    Spider-Man UK

    First appearance: Edge of the Spider-Verse #2 (2014)

    Created by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez

    William Braddock is exactly like Peter Parker, except Braddock is British, a member of the Captain Britain Corps, blond, a punk rocker, and did we mention he’s British? Spider-Man UK (who’s British) was introduced in the Spider Verse saga and eventually joined the Web Warriors. As we mentioned, he is also a Captain Britain so that’s like being Spider-Man and Captain America all mashed together...except for the nationality thing. There was no Brexit with Braddock as he loyally serves with his fellow Spidey’s in the Web Warriors.

    So there you have it. All the Spider-Mans! Spider-Men? Spider-Mens? Remember, no matter the country, planet, or reality - with great power comes great responsibility. Except in Turkey, evidently.

    Did we miss any of your favorite Spideys? Tell us in the comments!


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    Probably. Marvel's being a little squirrely about it.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Dec 12, 2017

    Years of Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman's work with Thor and Jane Foster are coming to a head in March's The Mighty Thor #705.

    According to a press release sent out by Marvel, The Mighty Thor #705 is the penultimate issue of the arc titled "The Death of the Mighty Thor," and yet they play coy about Jane's final fate. Foster has since the beginning of Aaron's time writing Asgard been battling cancer. When she became Thor, every time she switched between her normal self and her Asgardian god form, she would neutralize her chemo treatments. 

    Now, while all of Aaron's myriad storylines come to a head with all of Asgard battling Mangog (the collected hatred of billions of beings killed by Odin eons ago, and not a bizarre, ram-headed marital aid), it seems we're also going to see Jane's time wielding Mjolnir as a living person come to a close. 

    But wait, says series editor Wil Moss. "Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman have been building to this issue for over three years...You may think you know where things are going, but I promise you do not." And with one issue to go in the arc after #705, it seems likely that there will be, if not a next chapter, at least a coda to Jane's story. 

    The Marvel version of the Valkyrior are a group of women who ride winged horses and guide Asgard's honored dead to Valhalla, where they get trashed and hunt all day. In addition to Brunnhilde, The Valkyrie of comics and Thor: Ragnarok fame, Danielle Moonstar of New Mutants fame has also been a member of the Valkyrior. Why do I bring this up, you ask? NO REASON, I'M SURE.

    Take a look at these preview pages for issues 703 and 704, and for more baseless speculation on the outcomes to years-long comic stories, stick with Den of Geek!


    '


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  • 12/12/17--19:27: Dick Tracy Returns in 2018!
  • A new Dick Tracy series exploring the character's early years is coming next year.

    NewsMike Cecchini
    Dec 12, 2017

    In news that is long, long overdue, Dick Tracy will finally return to comics. Archie Comics has acquired the rights to publish a Dick Tracy comic, the first time new adventures of comics' most famous cop have been published in comic book form since Kyle Baker and John Moore's "True Hearts and Tommy Guns Trilogy" from 1990. The new series comes from co-writers Michael Moreci and Alex Segura, with art by Thomas Pitilli.

    "The first arc of the series is going back to square one - as we explore the very early days of Dick Tracy's time in The City, soon after the second World War," added co-writer Alex Segura. "While everyone is familiar with the established, confident and heroic Tracy, we wanted to give readers a chance to see how all that came to be, and how his Rogues first reared their ugly mugs."

    It's interesting that they're moving the timeline on Tracy's early years forward to the post-WWII era rather than the Great Depression/Prohibition era that birthed the character (and that was made famous in the 1990 movie starring Warren Beatty). The official synopsis of the first issue reveals some more details, too:

    "The legendary detective returns in a dark, noir tale that takes readers back to the very beginning, as we learn about the early days of a man named Dick Tracy, and join his investigation of a deadly shooting that bears the fingerprints of a menacing killer named Flattop! Buckle up for a high-stakes crime adventure in classic Dick Tracy fashion!"

    So, this is revealing, as well. Flattop is perhaps the most recognizable of Dick Tracy's incredibly recognizable rogues' gallery (seriously, the only hero with better villains than Tracy is Batman), and his original comic strip story ran for 6 months between 1943-1944. It remains one of the best, most lurid and action-packed Dick Tracy stories of the era. If you only go back to one of Chester Gould's Dick Tracy comics, this is the one to hit.

    "Dick Tracy has always been a character that stands shoulder to shoulder amongst the best--Superman, The Shadow, Conan the Barbarian, Spider-Man, you name it," said co-writer Michael Moreci in a statement. "There's been so many great Dick Tracy stories over the past 75 years, and that's such a testament to his versatility, his amazing--unbeatable--rogues gallery, and what he represents." 

    "I'm so psyched to be working on such an iconic character," artist Thomas Pitilli said. "Alex and Mike have dreamed up a version of Dick Tracy that will surely excite new readers and life long fans alike! This gritty crime drama is a new genre for me and I'm already having fun stretching my artistic abilities."

    Variant covers for the first issue come from Francesco Francavilla, Kyle Baker (who drew that incredible Dick Tracy limited series back in 1990), Cat Staggs, and Michael Walsh.

    Check out the Francesco Francavilla cover here...


    Is it me, or does Francavilla's Dick Tracy look a little bit like Ralph Byrd, the actor who played Tracy in four movie serials and two feature films between 1937-1947.

    Dick Tracy #1 hits on April 11, 2018. We'll have lots more on this series in the coming months!


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    Because everyone wants to know what’s been going on with Sleepy Gary.

    News Joe Matar
    Dec 12, 2017

    Do you need more Rick and Morty in the (likely extremely long) interim until season four? Do you want that Rick and Morty content to not contain any of the titular characters? Well, I guess that’s not all that weird. After all, the minor characters regularly steal the show.

    Now you get an expanded look at what some of those previously one-off characters have been up to in a new, four-comic miniseries from Oni Press.

    Each issue will be devoted to one character (or team of characters). Issue #1 will be Rick and Morty Presents: The Vindicators! After that, you get a Krombopulos Michael issue, a Sleepy Gary one, and then I guess I kind of lied about Rick not being in these because the last one is Pickle Rick and Jaguar. Sort of funny to look back at this list and realize that almost all of these characters are now dead on the TV series. Sleepy Gary never really even existed! He was actually a shape-shifting parasite who was alive for a small window of time in which he was trapped inside the Smith family home, so how’s that gonna work?! I guess anything is possible in comics! 

    A bunch of fancy comic writers and artists will be working on this including Kyle Starks, Sarah Graley, Pamela Ribson, Tom Fowler, Zac Gorman, and Marc Ellerby. The Vindicators issue will be put together by J. Torres, CJ Cannon, and Nick Filardi and will be released March 7, 2018. The following three comics will come in June, September, and November.


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    Set your nostalgia rays to the '80s. Some toy lines actually ended up as even better comic book series.

    The Lists Marc Buxton
    Dec 13, 2017

    Comic book icons and heroes have been appearing on toy shelves since the days of Captain Action and Mego. But sometimes, toys that win the hearts and minds of kids of all ages are given their own comics, allowing toy fans to see their favorite bits of plastic in action by some of the best writers and artists in comics.

    Many toys have graced the pages of comics over the years, including memorable curiosities like Sectaurs, Madballs, Visionaries, Go-Bots, and so many more, but there have been a few properties that have transcended their humble plastic roots to become the stuff of comic book legend.

    Here are but a sampling:

    The Saga of Crystar: Crystal Warrior

    Back in 1983, Marvel published Crystar, a concept they had developed specifically to sell the license to a toy manufacturer. Remco was wowed by the world Marvel had created and produced one line of figures in 1982. Marvel then followed the toys up with a comic written by Mary Jo Duffy with absolutely stunning covers by the great Michael Golden.

    The toys were things of beauty, produced in translucent plastic, and the Crystal Warriors stood out on the toy shelves. Remco produced a bunch of good Crystal Warriors" and an array of evil Magma people. The toy company also produced two dragons, one magma and one crystal (which is a sight to behold), a castle, and some accessories.

    The story of Crystar was pretty simple: the good agents of order, the crystal warriors, faced off against the agents of chaos, the Magma people, led by Crystar’s brother, Moltar (because what else would you named the leader of the Magma people?). The world of the comic was well built and functioned within the parameters of the toys and still holds up pretty well today. Marvel must have wanted the book and toy line to succeed because there were frequent Marvel Universe guest stars in the Crystarcomic including Dr. Strange, Nightcrawler, and Alpha Flight.

    It seems that Marvel still holds the right to Crystar as the character made a cameo appearance in one of the six milliona Marvel Zombies series. The  property might be obscure, but as far as toy/comic tie ins go, Crystarwas a (I shouldn’t) diamond in the rough (I did).

    Shogun Warriors

    Is there anything cooler than giant Mechs? How about giant Mechs based on an ultra-popular Japanese toy line stomping around the Marvel Universe? For two years, Marvel fans got to experience Shogun Warriors as a legitimate part of the Marvel Universe proper.

    Shogun Warriors was a Mattel property that united a bunch of robot toys from Japan under the same banner. There were tons of toys and vehicles produced by Mattel, in many different sizes, but Marvel only had the license for three of the robots, Raydeen, Combattra, and Dangard Ace, piloted by an American stuntman, a Japanese test pilot, and an oceanographer from Madagascar, respectively. The humans and their Mechs had many adventures written by the great Doug Moench with pitch perfect artwork by Hulk legend Herb Trimpe.

    Things took an odd turn in Shogun Warriors #16, when the Warriors’ human handlers were slaughtered by the villainous Primal One creating an odd last few issues that were kind of ponderously depressing. Marvel’s Shogun Warriors had an ignominious end, as all three Warriors were destroyed off panel by the Samurai Destroyer in the pages of Fantastic Four once Marvel lost the license.

    While it lasted, the Shogun Warriorswas an entertaining book that really displayed the talents of Trimpe, a man born to draw '70 eras Japanese robots, and featured luminary guest stars Reed Richards and Tony Stark. The oddity of Marvel destroying an in-continuity property to explain a lapsed license makes Marvel’s ShogunWarriorsa great point of curiosity of the Bronze Age.

    He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

    The original Masters of the Universe toys, produced by Mattel, came packed with mini-comics of their own. These mini-tomes fleshed out the world of He-man and his allies and enemies, and they were just the beginning of a long standing relationship between He-Man and the world of comics.

    In 1982, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe appeared in a miniseries from DC that saw He-Man dwell in a much more Robert E. Howard world. He-Man was introduced in DC Comics Presents#47 written by Paul Kupperberg and drawn by iconic Superman artist Curt Swan. With Swan on board, you know that He-Man went toe-to-toe with Superman, as the Man of Steel was mystically transported to He-Man’s world. The special team-up introduced the world to Skeletor, Beast-Man, Teela, Man at Arms, and Battle Cat. The issue, which remains a hotly sought after back issue to this day, led into a three issue series written by Kupperberg, with art by George Tuska and Alfredo Alcala which briefly established He-Man’s world as an alternate dimension to the DC Universe. DC only published five He-man stories in the '80s but they established the foundation for everything that would follow. 

    After DC, Marvel’s Star imprint, a line of comics for young readers, tried their hand at He-Man, but the books were watered down versions of the already watered down cartoon. Marvel also featured an odd little adaptation of the 1987 Dolph Lungdren film where all the characters looked like their toy counterparts instead of the actors that portrayed them on the big screen (except Beast Man for some reason). The property returned to the edgier roots a bit in the early 2000s series published by MV Creations before returning back to DC in recent years, which features revamped versions of the classic characters.

    But those original DC books remain some of the most beloved toy comics of all time as DC really fleshed out a back story that would become the inspiration for cartoons, films, and future comics. DC was the first to give life to Mattel’s enduring line of heroes, warriors, monsters, wizards, and whatever the heck an Orko is.

    Micronauts

    According to legend, one Christmas, the son of comic book great Bill Mantlo opened his Christmas presents, and lo and behold, Micronauts! As Mantlo watched his son open his toys, the writer supposedly began constructing a backstory for the little metal men. At Mantlo’s request, then Marvel got the Micronautslicense from Mego and the rest is history.

    Like Shogun Warriors and Transformers, Micronautswere Japanese toys from a number of different toy lines joined together under one branding umbrella. The toys were cool, but unlike many toys of that era, they arrived on shelves without much of a backstory, until Mantlo came along and crafted one of the finest examples of innovative world building of the era.

    Once again, Marvel incorporated Mantlo’s Micronauts into the Marvel Universe as the heroic team consisting of Acroyear, Bug, Commander Rann, Biotron, Princess Mari, and Prince Argon, took on established Marvel villains Plant Man, Psycho Mann, Dr. Doom, Molecule Man, and Hydra agents Fixer and Mentallo, plus their own adversary Baron Karza. The ‘nauts even teamed with the X-Men in an early '80s mini-series that was quite a big deal at the time. The book featured complex characters that often flipped sides between good and evil and firmly established the team as important parts of the Marvel Universe.

    It was so enduring that, despite not having the Micronauts license anymore, many of the characters that Mantlo created that never had their own toy remain part of the Marvel Universe, like Bug for instance, who was a founding member of the modern Guardians of the Galaxy! Micronautsstands as one of the greatest examples of what a skilled creative team can do with toy property. Despite its simple premise, Micronauts remains one of the best executed comics of its day.

    Rom, Spaceknight

    The toys covered in this article all were very successful and each made their respective companies a great deal of money. That’s what’s so amazing about Rom, which had a very successful comic series that ran an amazing seven years, yet, the Rom toy arrived on toy shelves stillborn, selling only 200,000 - 300,000 units for Parker Brothers in the U.S. The toy barely survived a year, but the comic thrived and became a regular part of Marvel’s publishing schedule for the better part of the decade.

    This was thanks in part to writer Bill Mantlo and artist Sal Buscema, who brought the character to life in a way that the noisy and stiff toy never could. Yes, the same writer who breathed fresh life into Micronauts, wielded the same world building magic with Rom. Rom the toy was a barely articulated hunk of plastic that made noises, Romthe comic was a richly detailed science fiction epic centered on a group of brave Space Knights taking on the evil of the vile Dire Wraiths.

    Rom’s war with the Wraiths brought more than one major Marvel character into the battle and Rom was even summoned to the first Contest of Champions. Even though he didn't participate, his inclusion in Marvel’s first event book shows how important Rom was to the tapestry of the Marvel Universe in his day. The Spaceknights and the Dire Wraiths are still part of the Marvel Universe, while Rom has moved on to IDW.

    Oh, and both Rom and the Micronauts are now part of Hasbro's shared movie universe that includes the Transformers, GI Joe, MASK, and others. More on that here.

    Transformers

    Transformers is one of those toy properties that lives in perfect symbiosis with the world of comics. The comics, first published by Marvel for a good nine years, than Dreamwave and IDW, all fueled the stories and histories of Hasbro’s Robots in Disguise.

    You might think that robots that disguise themselves and vehicles would be hard to justify in any sensible plot, but one would be wrong. Writers, particularly Simon Furman for Marvel, fleshed out their world in the pages of the Transformers comics, and gave each Transformer human motivations and personalities that went hand in glove with the toys kids were consuming at an unheard of rate. As Transformers remains a huge part of the cultural consciousness, the stories and characterization of the robots continue to be fed and informed by the work Marvel did for so many years. 

    Like many other Marvel licensed properties, the Transformers started as part of the Marvel Universe, with guest appearences by Spider-Man and Death’s Head (who first appeared in Transformers) but the Autobots and Decepticons were soon shunted off to their own reality. Dreamwave and IDW continue the legacy in many different forms and iterations feeding multiple generations of Transformers fanatics.

    G.I. Joe: A Real America Hero

    There has seemingly always been a comic called G.I. Joe on the stands in one form or another even before anyone heard the term Kung Fu Grip. From a syndicated strip from King’s Features in 1941, to a comic published by Ziff-Davis in set in the Korean War beginning in 1950, to two issues of DC’s Showcasepublished in 1964-1965. But it was in 1982 that Marvel began publishing a comic series based on Hasbro’s new line of G.I. Joe toys that the entire comic industry changed. 

    Writer Larry Hama was tasked by Hasbro and Marvel to create a group of modern day soldiers with specialties, codenames, and personalities that could drive the new toy line. Hama and a host of artists also came up with adversary for his Joes; a colorful group of terrorists with a perfectly colorful array of gimmicks. This new enemy, Cobra, would come to define the modern day Joes and bring to life a story that continues to this day in toys, films, comics, and television.

    The Marvel Comics series allowed these characters to grow far beyond their static plastic origins. This was no easy task, as Hasbro continued to introduce new toys that had to be inserted into the story no matter how far-fetched they might be. At the time, ninjas like Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow became as popular as Wolverine and Spider-Man.

    Many kids who grew to love comics in the '80s owe this love to G.I. Joe. Marvel even went so far as to advertise each new issue on television bringing in droves of new fans to the newsstands and into the comic shops with each animated advertisement. The G.I. Joe comic legacy continues today with multiple titles by IDW,  but the original Marvel series shaped a generation of comic book lovers, making it the most important toy to comic adaptation ever published.


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    The galaxy far, far away is full of droids. With Star Wars: The Last Jedi arriving, we look back at the 25 best droids of all time!

    The Lists Marc Buxton
    Dec 13, 2017

    There's no doubt that the stand out character of Rogue One: A Star Wars Storyis the droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). The very capable K-2SO - a reprogrammed Imperial enforcer droid that fights on the side of the Rebellion during the events of the film - is both hilarious and tough. There's an edge to K2, and it's perhaps what sets him apart from other droids - he is treated like an actual member of the Rogue One team and not just a machine that accepts orders blindly.

    But K-2SO is just one of many droids that have made the galaxy far, far away such a fun place to visit over and over again. So here’s to the astromechs, the protocol droids, the medical droids, and the assassin droids that have been whirring and clanking their way into fans’ hearts since that first opening scrawl so many years ago. Join us as we take a look back and thank the Maker for the 25 greatest droids of the main Star Wars saga - that is, those that appear in the movies and TV shows.


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    25. U-3PO

    Yeah, U-3PO barely appeared in Star Wars, but this silver protocol droid needs to make this list because it is one of the first characters introduced in the entire Star Wars saga. After the Star Destroyer catches Princess Leia’s blockade runner, the film cuts to C-3PO, R2-D2, and good ‘ol U-3PO making a run for it. Now, R2 and C-3PO go on to forge their own legacy, but U-3PO walks off camera.

    Imagine if U-3PO stuck around with its droid comrades. There would have been three droids going on the greatest adventure of all time. But U-3PO had business elsewhere and wandered off, leaving the other two droids to become the most beloved mechanized beings in the galaxy.

    The Legends Expanded Universe later revealed that U-3PO was an Imperial agent that reported the blockade runner’s whereabouts to Darth Vader’s men, but most EU canon has been wiped away since Star Wars was sold to Disney. So it’s a brand new day for U-3PO, one of the three droids that fans first laid eyes on. U we hardly knew U.

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    24. CZ-3

    Look at this freaky looking thing. It’s like a psychotic version of C-3PO. This droid obviously has so many issues. You can clearly spot CZ-3 on the streets of Mos Eisely, aimlessly shambling about. You can also see a similar droid aboard the Sandcrawler, mindlessly rocking back and forth. A CZ droid is also clearly seen in Jabba’s Palace, plodding around as if looking for a small, helpless creature to dismember. But other than its evil clown look, why did we include such an obscure droid on our list?

    The main reason is because CZ-3 is played by none other than Anthony Daniels, as the famed actor who brought C-3PO to life pulled double droid duty on the set of the original Star Wars. That’s just all sorts of cool.

    The pre-Disney backstory of this droid is pretty rich. Legend has it that CZ-3 worked for Jabba the Hutt. When CZ-3 got loose, Jabba sent bounty hunters to find the strange looking automaton. When viewers see CZ-3 in Star Wars, it is on the run from Jabba’s hunters. Pretty neat right?

    The story gets even deeper, revealing that the CZ aboard the Sandcrawler was CZ-3’s “twin brother.” When the CZs crashed on Tatooine, they were separated, and CZ-1 was dismantled and taken by the Jawas. Maybe that’s why CZ-3 looks so odd and disturbed, maybe his mind snapped after being separated from his “twin.” Maybe there’s a Tomax and Xamot thing going on here - when CZ-1 is being tortured by Jawas, CZ-3 feels the pain.

    How the heck did this take such a dark turn, I just really wanted to tell you that Anthony Daniels played CZ-3 and now I’m pondering familial droid bonds and the nature of droid pain. I need to lie down.

    23. FX-7

    Raise your hands if you had the old school Kenner FX-7 action figure. That thing must have cost Kenner a small fortune to sculpt and tool, what with the countless articulated arms and incredible detailing. That seems like an awful lot of effort for a droid that appeared in The Empire Strikes Back for like 2.7 seconds. But those brief ticks of the second hand were pivotal because it was FX-7 that helped nurse Luke Skywalker back to health after the savior of the galaxy was ripped to noodles by the Wampa.

    FX-7 would pop up again later, helping to build Luke's robotic hand, and if you have your pause button handy, you can spy FX-7 during the Rebel briefing in Return of the Jedi. It seems FX-7 helped patch Rebels back together throughout most of the Original Trilogy. So thanks FX-7, you and your ridiculously playable action figure are remembered fondly.

    22. 8D8

    We include 8D8 on this list because the skeletal torture droid showed us one thing in his brief appearance in Return of the Jedi - that droids feel actual pain and that's all sorts of messed up. 8D8 is a droid that specializes in torturing other droids and can be seen in the background when R2 and 3PO are led into Jabba’s droid dungeon. 8D8 is busy torturing a flailing Power Droid with a branding iron. As the Power Droid’s feet are burnt, the poor boxy robot lets out a wail of agony. You know what this means? This means that some sentient being programmed droids to think they have nerve endings! How messed up is that? Building beings that are forced to endure the illusion of bodily pain. And the ghoulish 8D8 specializes in that pain, and for that screwed up reason this obscure droid makes our list.

    21. Torture Droid

    So somewhere there was a droid inventor or technician or whatever and he or she said, “Hey, I’m going to create a floaty ball designed to torture sentient beings!” and the torture droid was born. This roly-poly ball of pain was first seen in the original Star Wars, as it slowly approached Princess Leia with a hypodermic needle filled with drugs that would no doubt cause the bun-headed Rebel no end of agony. This little droid is probably the vilest automaton in the entire saga because its entire function is to find ways to cause as much agony as possible. And think about this, considering there are countless races running around the Star Wars Universe, this little torture droid must be programmed with billions of forms of bodily torture. How does one torture an Ewok? The torture droid knows.

    20. 3B6-RA-7

    Another obscure droid made into an action figure by Kenner. The toy in question was named "Death Star Droid" even though the robot never appeared on the Death Star in the original Star Wars! 3B6-RA-7 actually appeared on the Jawa Sandcrawler. He was like the cranky old man of droiddom, as he sat there and muttered derisively to himself about the other droids that were captured by the Jawas. You have to assume 3B6-RA-7 was kind of a dick because the Jawas don’t even attempt to sell him to Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. They just leave him in the Sancrawler the same way you leave your crazy uncle in the car because you don’t want him causing a scene in Target.

    Anyway, a black RA unit can be seen aboard the Death Star, so there’s your "Death Star Droid," but this silver clad cranky pants made his home on the Sandcrawler no matter what Kenner tells you. Fans of a certain age had this droid as an action figure, and his after school battles with C-3PO are the stuff of legend.

    19. Droideka

    These spider-like murder machines were like Jedi kryptonite. Think about it, during all three prequels, no matter what threat popped up, the Jedi were ready. Giant space monsters? No problem! Vast armies of Battle Droids? A walk in the park. Swarms of droid starfighters? Pish-posh! Sith? A mere distraction. But when the destroyer droids rolled into battle, you’d have Jedi peeing themselves left and right.

    The destroyer droids, or Droidekas as they were known for some inexplicable reason, were ray shielded and had rapid fire canons that, for some reason, completely befuddled all Jedi. Like, why can’t the Jedi just levitate them or force push them off a cliff or something? Because the destroyers delivered insta-death to anything wearing a bathrobe, they make our list.

    18. Probe Droid

    First seen in The Empire Strikes Back. Probe droids are used by the Empire to search remote regions of the galaxy for any signs of Rebel activity. These octopus-like spies are distinctive because of their unique and creepy language. Who can forget the ominous message sent from Hoth that alerted Darth Vader to the presence of the hidden Rebel base? Think about it, if not for the probe droid, the events of Empire never would have occurred. The Probe also looks badass but really isn’t because it self-destructs the second it is engaged in combat. So here’s to the probe droid - awesome-looking, integral to the Original Trilogy, and kind of a weeny.

    17. Midwife droid

    Ooba indeed. Why wouldn’t there be an OBGYN droid? A midwife droid first appeared in Revenge of the Sith and participated in the single-most important moment in Star Wars history - the birth of Luke Skywalker and Leia. I guess there should be a droid for every single function in the galaxy.

    The midwife droid certainly looks equipped to deliver some babies. I mean, it has a baby scooper and everything... As disturbing as the design of this droid might be, it did deliver two humans that saved the galaxy, so welcome to the list, you medical nightmare.

    16. Power Droid

    Who doesn’t love a Gonk? Also known as GNK power droids, Gonks are the walking batteries of the Star Wars galaxy. Power droids have a wonderfully simplistic design - they are basically just boxes with feet. It’s also kind of mind-blowing that for its original Star Wars action figure line, Kenner never made a Moff Tarkin or a Wedge Antilles, but it sure made a power droid. Millions of kids all over America usinedtheir adorable little clicky power droids to power up X-wings and Millennium Falcons. Ah, those were the days.

    Of course, the most famous Gonk was the one aboard the Jawa Sandcrawler. These little boxes of electric juice could be seen in every Rebel base, aboard both Death Stars, and on the streets of Mos Eisley. The design and function of these little squares must have been perfect because power droids were all over the Prequels, and they were even unchanged in the future world of The Force Awakens. A power droid can also be seen in Rogue One, and I was probably way happier about that than I should have been. But it just goes to show how lovable the Gonks really are.

    15. GA-97

    And we come to our first modern era droid! GA-97 was an unassuming servant droid that took care of the customers of Maz Kanata’s castle. But GA-97 was also part of a network of spies that worked for the Resistance. If not for GA-97, the First Order would have found and captured Rey, Finn, Han, Chewie, and BB-8. It was GA-97’s message that alerted the Resistance and allowed Poe Dameron and his crew to make the save. I can only hope that we see GA-97 again as the new trilogy barrels forward because the idea of a hidden ring of droid spies is just too cool for school.

    14. WED Treadwell Droid

    Poor Treadwell, he was destined for greater things. In a scene cut from the original Star Wars, Luke Skywalker was repairing a water vaporator side by side with his trusty Treadwell droid, and during the repair Luke uses his binoculars to spy a battle between a Star Destroyer and a blockade runner. What’s important about this scene is that it was supposed to be the first time audiences met Luke - and Treadwell was there! But alas, Treadwell’s moment of glory was left on the cutting room floor.

    There are still Treadwells all over the Original Trilogy, though. The same Treadwell that was cut can be seen on the Lars homestead while another Treadwell is in the Jawas’ droid lineup. Han Solo famously reprimands a cute little Treadwell in The Empire Strikes Back, and more of these multi-armed repair droids can be seen all over Echo base.

    Treadwells are the Swiss army knives of the Star Wars Universe, multi-purpose mechanics that can fix anything. Sadly, the Treadwells can’t fix their own legacy because what was meant to be their moment of glory was discarded by George Lucas himself. The Maker giveth and the Maker taketh away.

    13. R4-P17

    Introduced in Attack of the Clones, R4-P17 was the trusted astromech that served with Obi-Wan Kenobi during the Clone Wars. R4 accompanied Obi-Wan to Geonosis and helped his Jedi Master in battle against Jango Fett and Slave I. R4 also sent the message to Coruscant that informed the Jedi that Obi-Wan had been captured by Count Dooku and the Separatists. 

    Sadly, during the final battle of the Clone Wars, R4-P17 was destroyed by Buzz Droids. What a sad exit for a droid that played such a pivotal role in the fate of the galaxy during the days of the Republic. Which is why it’s all sorts of screwed up that in the original Star Wars, Obi-Wan claims that he doesn’t remember owning a droid. Dude, R4-P17 sent the message that saved your ass when a bunch of bugs were going to sacrifice you in a gladiator arena. How can Obi-Wan not remember his wingman in battle against Jango Fett? That’s some insensitive selective memory there, Kenobi.

    12. EV-9D9

    “Ah good, new acquisitions.” EV-9D9 was a rather goofy looking droid, what with the flappy mouth and spindly limbs, but somehow the presence of Jabba’s head torture droid was still pretty darn fearsome. EV-9D9 gave C-3PO and R2-D2 their marching orders after the iconic robot pals were captured by Jabba the Hutt.

    As all Star Wars fans know, EV-9D9 placed 3PO in Jabba’s court as an interpreter and R2 on Jabba’s sail barge as a waiter - and thus sealed Jabba's fate. Think about it, if skinny EV-9D9 had given R2 a job in the boiler room or cleaning up Rancor turds, R2 would never have been able to shoot Luke’s lightsaber over to his master. Jabba was killed and his criminal empire destroyed because of EV-9D9’s bad job placement. That’s some really destructive HR work right there.

    11. Mouse Droid

    The mouse droid was a puny little rolly bot that had the droid poop scared out of it by Chewbacca. It seems like the Empire relied on mouse droids for many mundane tasks. These little droids can be seen all over both Death Stars and aboard many Star Destroyers leading squadrons of stormtroopers to their assigned positions. It’s kind of cool that George Lucas thought of little details like mouse droids. It just made the Star Wars galaxy seem more functional and lived in. Plus, mouse droids are really cute. How many mouse droids do you think blew up along with the two Death Stars? Tens of thousands probably. Poor things! And how come the Rebels didn’t use them? Do you think the Rebels had cat droids to counter the Imperial mouse droids? Like some intergalactic Tom and Jerry action? What were we talking about again?

    10. 4-LOM

    At last, a bounty hunter - we DO need their scum. 4-LOM was part of Darth Vader’s famous lineup that was charged with hunting down the Millennium Flacon. For real, is there a more intimidating designed droid in the Star Wars saga? You have a 3PO unit body combined with a bug-eyed alien head and a big honking blaster rifle that looks like it could fillet a Dewback in a single shot.

    In the Expanded Universe, 4-LOM has often been paired up with his fellow bug-eyed bounty hunter Zuckuss, and the duo have become quite an infamous pair of scoundrels across novels, video games, and comics. Sadly, we never got to see 4-LOM in action on the big screen, but now that every inch of the Star Warssaga is going to be explored by Disney, we may yet see this most fearsome droid killing machines collect some bounties in the most violent ways possible.

    9. 2-1B

    2-1B seems to live to repair Luke Skywalker. With the help of fellow medical droid FX-7, 2-1B nursed Luke back to health after the Rebel hero got Wampa'd, and also helped the savior of the galaxy after Luke got his hand chopped off by Darth Vader. So within the two-hour and change run time of The Empire Strikes Back, 2-1B put Luke back together twice. You know what, with the rate that hands get severed in Star Wars, 2-1B must be sewing on bionic hands day and night. It’s really a cottage industry in the galaxy far, far away. 2-1B can also be seen in Return of the Jedi, no doubt prepping to replace lost limbs after the Battle of Endor. Let’s raise a glass of blue milk to 2-1B because without this medical droid there would be fewer high fives across the galaxy.

    8. Battle Droids

    Yeah, we know that these dopey clankers make your typical stormtrooper look like Jason Bourne, but the battle droids of the Trade Federation were pretty vital to Star Wars history. The battle droids made up the bulk of the Separatist army that fought the Republic in the Clone Wars. They were the constant cannon fodder used by Darth Sidious in his secret bid to take over the Republic.

    They may not have been able to hit the broad side of a Super Destroyer, but without them, Palpatine would never have had the pawns he needed to build his Empire. And even though they kind of sucked, battle droids have a really cool design and they used some pretty boss war tech. From the flying STAPs, to those sick tanks, to the rolling fortresses and personal carriers, the battle droids were certainly well-equipped losers. Roger, roger.

    7. R5-D4

    Just imagine if Uncle Own and Luke Skywalker had purchased R5-D4 instead of R2-D2. The stormtroopers would have found R2 after slaughtering the Jawas and the Death Star would have taken out the Rebel Base on Yavin easy-peasy. But thankfully, R5-D4 had a bad motivator and broke down just as Uncle Owen was ready to lay down his hard-earned space dollars on the little red and white astromech. R5-D4 may have been faulty (or lazy), but his little droid nervous breakdown saved the galaxy.

    6. IG-88

    Piss on Ultron, IG-88 is an assassin droid to truly fear. Only seen for a few seconds in the aforementioned bounty hunter line up, IG-88 continues to inspire Expanded Universe stories because he’s just that fearsome. All sharp edges and stabby bits, IG-88 is made for killing. It’s too bad that we never got to see IG-88 in action in Empire, but we have certainly experienced the full armed and operational badassery of the assassin droid in plenty of novels and comics.

    One memorable short story in the Tales of the Bounty Huntersanthology saw multiple copies of IG-88 try to bring about a droid rebellion. One of the IGs even downloaded himself into the second Death Star right before it was destroyed by the Rebellion. That could have gone very badly for organics. But alas, that's all part of Legends canon now.

    5. Chopper

    Listen, I’m an Original Trilogy guy with a heaping helping of love for The Force Awakens, so a droid from the TV shows would have to be pretty special to make it. Chopper is just that darn special. This little astromech is like the pissed off old man of the Star Wars universe. Chopper gets the job done every single time but grumbles the entire way there.

    This droid is one of the highlights of Star Wars Rebelsand has helped his rag tag band of freedom fighters out of countless jams. Plus, Chopper is more than a bit homicidal, so he has that going for him. It's my hope that SW fans will get to see a live-action Chopper one day. Until then, we’ll just have to settle for this little bundle of violence committing acts of atrocity on a Disney cartoon.

    4. K-2SO

    When I began writing this list, I hadn’t seen Rogue One yet. Now, I'm making a last-minute addition for K-2SO, the droid that steals the show in Rogue One. At first, K-2SO seems to be Rogue One comic relief, but by act two of the first Star Wars Story, K-2SO proves to be the most proactive droid in the Star Wars saga. K-2SO doesn’t wait around for stuff to happen to him, oh no, K-2SO happens to stuff - which usually involves lots of explosions.

    K-2SO used to be an Imperial enforcer droid, but he was reprogrammed by the Rebellion and now is one of the most loyal Rebels in the galaxy. And believe me, this tall drink of destruction sees plenty of action in Rogue One, as no Imperial is safe when K-2SO has blasters a blazing. There’s a reason K-2SO jumped so far on our list just days after the droid’s Star Warsdebut, and that reason is this droid's nobility and agency - and ability to rain down utter destruction on any Imperial unlucky enough to get in his way.

    3. BB-8

    People feared that BB-8 would become the Jar Jar Binks of the new Star Wars era. But that is far from the case. Hey, he’s aggressively cute, but BB-8 is a capable little guy that serves the Resistance loyally. BB-8 played an integral role in finding Luke Skywalker and helped make sure that Finn, Rey, and Poe survived each and every encounter with the First Order.

    BB-8 is a unique astromech, a spherical droid that speaks to the wonder of physics. Think about it: BB-8 isn’t animated, Lucasfilm actually built this awesome little robot. BB-8 brings any scene he is in to life because the little prop has charisma and character. BB-8 won Rey’s heart and the hearts of SW fans that originally dismissed the soccer ball robot for being too cute. BB-8 is way more than just adorableness with a circumference, he is now a major part of the story of a galaxy far, far away.

    2. C-3PO

    You didn’t think our top two would be anyone but the droid hearts and souls of the Star Warsuniverse, did you? Think of our next two entries as 1 and 1A because you can’t begin talking about Star Wars without talking about C-3PO and R2-D2.

    C-3PO was at the center of just about every major Star Warsevent. He escaped with the plans to the original Death Star and accompanied his Rebel friends to the fully armed and operational battle station where the hapless droid witnessed the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi. He was there on Yavin when Luke Skywalker blew up the Death Star, and he was there when Han Solo was frozen. He was on Endor when the Empire fell and, before his memory was wiped, he bravely served the Republic in the Clone Wars and was present when Anakin Skywalker began his dark transition to Darth Vader.

    C-3PO is the sad clown of Star Wars - he is a polite, unassuming innocent that forever finds himself swept up into adventures beyond his comprehension. C-3PO just wants to serve in matters of protocol and linguistics, but he is constantly being swept away on epic missions to free the galaxy.

    1. R2-D2

    The all-purpose mechanic, adventurer, super computer, and rolling arsenal of Star Wars, and proof that judging something by its size you should not. R2-D2 defines the Star Wars universe. He is a piece of technology with a personality and a spirit of pure bravery.

    R2 is loyal to a fault to all his companions. Whether it be in the era of the Old Republic, the Empire era, or thirty years after the Battle of Endor, R2 will do anything to assure victory for the humans he serves. R2 is so much more than a cold and emotionless machine. Just think, R2 shut down because he lost his master Luke Skywalker. Because of Luke’s disappearance, R2 had a profound existential crisis and went into a spiritual coma, until the next generation of heroes needed his guidance once again.

    Thanks to R2, Luke was found because R2 always gets the job done. Whether it’s repairing the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive or using a fire extinguisher to help his friends escape an occupied Cloud City, R2 always has a plan. R2 is a top notch co-pilot, an awesome little spy, and a spirited warrior. His friendship with his robotic life mate C-3PO is the stuff of galactic legend. It's safe to say that without R2-D2 there would be no Star Wars.


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  • 12/14/17--10:53: Disney Buys 21st Century Fox
  • The Walt Disney Company has purchased 21st Century Fox for $52 billion.

    News Alec Bojalad David Crow
    Dec 14, 2017

    The Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox have reached an agreement. The $52 billion deal will see Disney acquire the vast majority of Fox's entertainment assets and divisions, including the movie studios 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight, as well as the FX cable networks, NatGeo, the UK's Sky TV network, and Fox's shares in Hulu. 21st Century Fox will retain the Fox broadcasting network, and, of course, Rupert Murdoch's arsenal of "news" channels like Fox News and Fox Business News and Fox Sports. 

    Reports of this potentially massive acquisition made waves throughout the entertainment and finance industries just last month, ro the point where 21st Century Fox suspended trading activities. The initial reports were cautious, perhaps due to the hurdles the similar Time Warner and AT&T deal faced. The deal seemed to collapse early on, and heated up again last weekend. Comcast was the last potential suitor and they bowed out on Monday. According to Variety, the regulatory review process for this deal could take 18 months, so perhaps the government will find something objectionable.

    The appeal of certain 21st Century Fox assets to Disney remain obvious. Disney is quickly cornering the movie blockbuster market with its Marvel and Lucasfilm brands. Not only does acquiring 20th Century Fox studios remove a major competitor, it strengthens the Marvel brand by adding properties like X-Men and the Fantastic Four to the stable.

    However, the main reasons for this deal appear linked to 21st Century Fox being in need of cash after its attempt to buy Sky News in the UK stalled and a major investor and supporter on the 21st Century Fox board (ahem) is predisposed after being arrested in Saudi Arabia. He has since sold his shares. Coupled with Disney developing a streaming service that it intends to use to compete against Netflix with, access to 20th Century Fox's century of films, plus all of its television content for cable and broadcast from 20th Century Fox Television productions, becomes increasingly valuable. Apparently $52 billion valuable. The Murdochs meanwhile are reported to see the future of entertainment media changing drastically due to streaming, and despite owning over a third of shares in Hulu (which have gone to Disney in this deal), the Murdochs do not believe they will be able to compete in the incoming century's landscape: so they're selling. 

    The societal and economic implications of the deal are severe. In a landscape with only six or seven major studios, the solidification of two of them will inevitably mean a shrinking of resources and opportunities in the Hollywood system. As a studio, 20th Century Fox has frequently taken risks in recent years that Disney has shied away from, and this extends beyond blockbusters. Fox Searchlight, for instance, continues to produce the kind of middle budgeted, adult fare that Disney has mostly abandoned since parting with Miramax, and then DreamWorks, and has phased out in the now much diminished Touchstone Pictures. 

    But the potential for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to get all of its superhero friends under one tent will appeal to most fans. Still, even there we would argue the X-Men are better off separate from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the Fantastic Four is a different story). But now, it looks like a certainty they're headed there.


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    The Fantastic Four are joining the MCU, and it's the one good thing that will come out of the Disney/Fox deal.

    Feature Mike Cecchini
    Dec 14, 2017

    The Fantastic Four are going to have their day now that Disney has purchased 21st Century Fox and other assets in a $52 billion deal that is terrible for cinema and even worse for news, but one that is certainly good for superhero fans. It just might require a different approach than Hollywood is generally willing to take with superhero movies as we know them. For the sake of this article, please spare me the "we already had a great Fantastic Four movie, it was called The Incredibles," argument, because we all know that.

    The failure of Josh Trank's 2015 Fantastic Four movie with critics, fans, and at the box office was a damning indicator of just how far the Fantastic Four brand has fallen since its comic book heyday of the 1960s and '70s. But maybe the issue is simply that the Fantastic Four don't lend themselves quite as easily to familiar superhero movie tropes as some of their more successful counterparts. 

    The 2015 movie was the third big screen incarnation of the Fantastic Four, and the fourth movie overall. The first was the Roger Corman production, made for approximately one million dollars only so that a film studio could keep the rights out of the hands of Marvel long enough to make a more suitable movie. That movie was both faithful to the source material and sincere in its tone, but it may or may not have ever actually been intended for release.

    In the mid-2000s, we were given two Fantastic Four movies from 20th Century Fox and director Tim Story. Fantastic Four and its sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer were similarly faithful in look and tone to the classic Marvel comic book. They were also dull, by-the-numbers blockbuster fare with a cast that (the fairly inspired choice of Chris Evans as Johnny Storm and Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm aside) failed to capture the vitality or chemisty of the FF's traditional family dynamic. Worse, like the 2015 movie, they utterly wasted one of the greatest comic book villains of all time, Dr. Doom.

    The Tim Story films weren't particularly interested in reinventing the wheel, and their deviations from the letter of FF mythology were no greater than those that made tried-and-true box office titans like Batman or Spider-Man more suitable for the big screen. Unlike a proven ticket and merchandise mover like Spider-Man, there's an increasingly vocal sentiment that the Fantastic Four are inherently old fashioned and faintly ridiculous, and that modern audiences simply don't have a place for them in their already superhero saturated hearts. On the surface, when your "coolest" member is a guy who can burst into flame, that kind of palea in comparison to some of the sexier heroes out there. The relatively grounded approach to Trank's Fantastic Four may have been an attempt to combat this, and it certainly calls back to what Bryan Singer did in the first X-Men film, which moved along at a similarly glacial pace during its first act and did away with the characters' more colorful garb.

    But it wasn't that grounded approach that has sunk the new FF franchise. The Tim Story movies, as faithful as they were to the comic book aesthetic, both made more than twice their budget back at the worldwide box office, but nobody, not even the most fervent superhero movie apologist, was ever particularly enthused about them. They earned middling reviews and tepid fan reaction, and there was never any sense of urgency to get Fantastic Four 3 into production.

    While the Marvel Studios house style that blends witty banter, cosmic adventure, and family friendly bloodless violence is perfectly suited (even inspired by) the Fantastic Four, they've had enough on their plate over the last few years without trying to cram the X-Men or Fantastic Four onto their release schedules. But the release of Avengers: Infinity War in 2018 not only marks the end of Marvel Phase Three, it also ushers in an era where trilogies for heavy hitters Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man have run their course while audiences have been thrilled to multiple Avengers movies. What was once impossible is suddenly commonplace, and this is where the Fantastic Four will have a chance to distinguish themselves.

    Watch Fantastic Four on Amazon

    The next Fantastic Four movie must genuinely offer audiences something different. And "different" is exactly what made The Fantastic Four"The World's Greatest Comics Magazine" when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were at the controls for over 100 issues. Nobody needs another origin story (for this or any other franchise), and the elemental iconography of the Fantastic Four doesn't really need much more explanation than "a guy who can stretch, a woman who can turn invisible and project force fields, a human torch, and a tragic but powerful rock monster." Superheroes are now such a part of the cinematic vocabulary that spending thirty minutes explaining the hows and whys of superpowers is as wasteful as explaining how the hero of a Western learned to shoot and ride a horse.

    So while every Fantastic Four movie has nailed the broad strokes, what is always lacking is the real soul of these characters and their world: one full of impossible adventure, surprises, and technology. The Four have never been known for solving their problems by hitting them, so you can eliminate the idea of a noisy, city-destroying climax. The FF is about big, cosmic, timey-wimey ideas, and the smart, quirky, friends and family who have to work through it all together.

    Need an indicator of how audiences might relate to that brand of non-traditional superheroics? Doctor Who (particularly the Matt Smith years) is adored by loyal fans and it's a perfect example of how to depict awkward smart people finding (mostly) non-violent solutions to reality-warping problems on a weekly basis. 

    The Fantastic Four comics of the Lee/Kirby team at their peak in 1966 to 1968 contain page after page of budget busting visuals and concepts that would send any Hollywood bean-counter to the poorhouse. Instead, we've been stuck with dull backlot slugfests (FF 2005), a purple cloud instead of Galactus (Rise of the Silver Surfer), and a hastily devised green screen nightmare (FF 2015). I'm giving the 1994 film a pass because that movie is lucky it had craft services, let alone special effects.

    It's difficult to imagine a potential movie franchise more antithetical to current superhero movie trends than the Fantastic Four. The team is, quite literally, a family. Their adventures are almost uniformly intergalactic or interdimensional in nature. Half of the members have power sets that don't lend themselves to the brute force that has become shorthand for most superheroing. Done right, the Fantastic Four can and should be the property that Kevin Feige and Disney executives look to when they fear audiences are tiring of superhero movies. The FF is another Guardians of the Galaxy in waiting, and unlike those blockbusters, it comes with considerably more brand recognition.

    It's not rocket science or interdimensional travel. Someone will figure it out. See you at the Baxter Building in Marvel Phase Four.


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