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    Just in time for Christmas, we peer into this holiday classic for all the nerdy references and callbacks.

    Feature Jim Dandy
    Dec 20, 2017

    This article is nothing but spoilers for a movie that came out in 2013. If you're really worried and haven't already seen it, go watch Iron Man 3 and come back.

    Shane Black's entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Christmas, Bang Bang Iron Man 3, had a tall order to fill. It was the first to follow the industry-altering Avengers, and the final film to bear the Iron Man name, and to add more character and flavor to the movie, Black and Robert Downey, Jr. relied heavily on the source material to build out Tony Stark's world. 

    To help you understand the history that this movie drew from, we gathered up all the comic, MCU and real world references we could find for this list. Did we miss any? Sure we did, so when you catch it, leave it in the comments!

    Harsh home truths for billionaire playboy Tony Stark in Demon In A Bottle

    - Tony begins the narration by saying "A famous man once said 'we all create our own demons.'" That could be a paraphrase of a million people, but it's also a direct reference to the seminal Iron Man comic story "Demon in a Bottle." It ran in nine issues of Iron Man in 1979 (#120-128) and showed Tony's life falling apart because of his drinking. It was a critical part of Iron Man lore and has been heavily referenced in all three of his movies.

    - The song playing over the Y2K party in the flashback is Eiffel65's "Blue." It is period-accurate, and terrible.

    - The two people who try and talk to Tony on the dance floor of the party are Ho Yinsen, the man Tony would eventually be trapped in the cave with in the first Iron Man; and a Dr. Wu. Wu had no comics equivalent at the time, but Dan Slott and Giuseppe Camuncoli did add in a Dr. Yao Wu to 2015's Amazing Spider-Man #1 as a nod to this character. Comics Dr. Wu worked as the head of Parker Industries' bio-tech division. This is from the era of Marvel Comics where Iron Man and Spider-Man basically switched personalities and mise-en-scenes - movie Iron Man was a neurotic, quippy mess, so comics Peter Parker became a wealthy, jet-setting industrialist whose alter-ego posed as his bodyguard.

    There's also a great Steely Dan song.

    - Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) trace their roots to the comic that served as the plot foundation for this movie. Both first appeared in 2005's Iron Man #1 as the creators of Extremis, a nanite virus that functioned like a new super-soldier serum. Hansen was much as she appeared in the movie, but Killian was very different. He could, like most Extremis soldiers, heat himself to 3000 degrees, but he wasn't the head of AIM nor was he a villain for Tony. He mostly just killed himself in despair after creating Extremis.

    - However, in the comics, Killian had nothing to do with the creation of AIM. First appearing in 1966's Strange Tales#146, Advanced Idea Mechanics was created in World War 2 as Hydra's weapons research division. After decades of being weird evil beekeepers, AIM, which had structured itself as a corporation, was bought out by Avenger and former New Mutant Roberto DaCosta and became a branch of the Avengers, then of the U.S. government. Those stories are excellent.

    - The main armor in this movie is listed as "Mark 42." Besides being The Answer, 42 also has some history in Marvel Comics: in Civil War, the 42nd idea that Iron Man, Hank Pym, and Mr. Fantastic came up with following the explosion at the Stamford school was a Negative Zone gulag for people who didn't comply with the Superhero Registration Act.

    - The Mandarin of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a massive deviation from the pretty racist comics version. Comics Mandarin was created in Tales of Suspense #50 in 1964. His origin, and that of his powers, is more or less an evil Green Lantern: an alien ship crash landed in China, and the man who would become The Mandarin found ten rings of power in the ship and took them for himself. Each ring had a different power, and was activated when The Mandarin willed it.

    - We know that Stan Lee is Uatu the Watcher. So that means NY1 morning anchor Pat Kiernan, who has played himself in not only the MCU, but also The Strain, 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the Marvel Netflix shows, Annie, Ghostbusters, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (among others), has to be Access, the character who prevented the Marvel and DC universes from merging into one, extremely shitty comic universe back in 1996.

    - Like AIM and The Mandarin, movie Iron Patriot is quite different from his comics counterpart. James Rhodes never donned the Iron Patriot armor until after this movie came out. Instead, in the comics, Norman Osborn (Spider-Man's arch nemesis, the Green Goblin) was the first to wear the armor, as part of his scam S.H.I.E.L.D replacement following Secret Invasion. Later, after Osborn's unmasking as a psychopath, Ho Yinsen's daughter took up the armor as a member of Sunspot's New AIM/Avengers team.

    - Fun little thing to lampshade in this movie's Happy/Pepper interactions: in the comics, they were married for decades.

    - Speaking of Pepper, Tony tracks his Mark 42 armor to her here, but in the comics, he made her an entirely separate suit of her own: the Rescue Armor, which debuted in 2009's Invincible Iron Man #10. It was a protective suit that had no effective offensive weaponry.

    - Tony's Hall of Armors has a long comic history, but we really saw this get going in the films in Avengers, which saw him welding cables underwater in a specially crafted suit. Some noteable armors that make their debuts here:

    -The Black Stealth Suit (Mark XVI), loosely referencing Iron Man's stealth armor first introduced in 1982.

    -The Silver Centurion Armor (Mark XXXIII), named after the armor that debuted in Iron Man #200 in 1985. 

    -The Heavy Lifting Suit (Mark XXXVIII) looks a lot like the subterranean armor from Iron Man #7 in the late aughts. It also looks a ton like the Hulkbuster that we'll see in Age of Ultron.

    - Happy mocks Tony's time with the Avengers by saying "Now you're off with the Superfriends." They are not the Superfriends. That's the Justice League of the '70s cartoons.

    - It's worth noting here that as Jarvis spends much of the movie saving Tony, his next on-screen appearance will be when he becomes Vision in Avengers: Age ofUltron

    - Ty Simpkins has been a career child actor, and since Iron Man 3, you've probably seen him in Jurassic WorldHe'll also be reprising his role as Harley Keener in Avengers 4, whatever they decide to subtitle it.

    - Apparently Tony is one of the few fans of the original Westworld. He calls out Savin, Killian's top henchman, for being pretty robotic with a Westworld joke.

    - Thomas, the accountant the Mandarin shoots in the head on live television, is an accountant for Roxxon. Roxxon is kind of the catch all evil corporation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They're a giant, evil oil company created by Steve Engleheart and Sal Buscema in the pages of Captain America, and have shown up on Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as in the Iron Man flicks, despite Iron Man's history being littered with evil corporations.

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    Know the terror and madness of Stephen King's 10 greatest supernatural villains!

    The Lists Marc Buxton
    Dec 22, 2017

    Pennywise the Clown isn't the only monster you need to fear at night. The King has created plenty of other horrific things that go bump in the night...

    The name Stephen King conjures up images of horrific creatures, monsters, places, and stories, and some of the most enduring villains in fiction. These are beings of unimaginable evil that test the limits of the protagonists' will to survive, and some of these villains have gone on to become almost as famous (or infamous) as the writer himself. While many Stephen King villains are monsters of the human variety (serial killers, power hungry despots, nihilists, etc.) his most memorable are the supernatural ones who use their dark powers to twist the orderly world around them into a special place of chaos and pain.

    Here are just a few of King’s best supernatural madmen and monsters.

    Gage Creed

    10. Gage Creed and the Pet Sematary

    Pet Sematary (1983)

    “Don’t go beyond, no matter how much you feel you need to, Doctor. The barrier was not made to be broken. Remember this: there is more power here than you know. It is old and always restless. Remember.”

    When Louis, Rachel, Eileen, and Gage Creed moved to Ludlow, Maine from Chicago, their cat Winston Churchill in tow, they wanted a peaceful new life in the more rural locale. What they got was a descent into death and madness almost unmatched in modern horror fiction. In the novel, the Creed cat is killed. Louis fears telling his daughter and buries the beloved pet at a nearby “Pet Sematary,” an old Micmac Indian burial ground. The cat returns home, much to Louis’ shock and delight, but it’s not the same friendly animal. It’s a listless, mean, half-alive creature that does not have a fondness for life.

    When Gage is killed by a truck, overcome with despair, Louis buries his son in the Sematary. What comes back is a true horror of epic proportions. Gage is such a disturbing villain because he once existed as an object of the purest affection. The once totally innocent soul is now corrupt and ridden with supernatural darkness. The Pet Sematary itself is rumored to once have been a burial place for cannibals, and the spirit of a Wendigo dwells in the soil.

    Now, Gage is back with the most ancient of curses coursing where blood once flowed. Every father’s nightmare turned even darker. King felt the book was too dark even for him and shelved it until his wife, Tabitha, and his friend, the author Peter Straub, encouraged him to share his bleak vision of paternal loyalty with the world.

    Join Amazon Prime - Watch Thousands of Movies & TV Shows Anytime - Start Free Trial Now

    9. The Leatherheads

    Under the Dome (2009)

    “God turned out to be a bunch of bad little kids playing interstellar Xbox. Isn't that funny?”

    Much more frightening than typical villains, the Leatherheads are an alien race responsible for the construction of the Dome that covers Chester’s Mill. They are in the same vein as H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmic horrors, beings much older and more powerful than humanity. The mere sight of them could drive a man mad. They are beings with the power of gods but no connection to or feelings for humanity. Just cold observers that exist on a different layer of reality.

    The Leatherheads construct the Dome the same way a child makes an ant farm, out of a morbid curiosity to watch how lesser creatures exist. Their casual disregard for humanity makes them truly terrifying, because unlike some of King’s other antagonists, there is really no way to fight them.

    The Leatherheads are mentioned in King’s chilling short story N., but it is in Under the Dome where readers get to experience the sheer paralytic terror that would occur if an alien species of ancient intelligence turned their attention towards our little backwater planet.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Every Stephen King Film and TV Adaptation Currently in Development

    Overlook Hotel

    8. The Overlook Hotel

    The Shining (1977)

    “This inhuman place makes human monsters.”

    If there is one thing King’s constant readers have learned after decades of nightmares is that places can be as evil as people, an idea that is personified in the Overlook Hotel, the setting of The Shining. On the surface, The Shining is a classic haunted house tale, but beneath the surface, it is so much more. It is a deep look into the fragility of fatherhood, the bond of trust between father and son. As Danny Torrance, the psychic child who journeys to a secluded Colorado hotel with his caretaker father and loving mother discovers when the father he trusted is transformed in a raging madman by the power within the Overlook.

    The novel’s most riveting sections feature past accounts of other times that the Overlook weaved its dark magic, transforming good men into monsters. The walls of the Overlook can barely contain the rage within the heart of the hotel, and as The Shining plays out, readers discover just how corrupt the place is. Make no mistake, it may not have arms to swing an ax, or legs to chase down its victims, but the Overlook is a hungry sort of evil that demands to be fed. Just try staying at a Motel 6 after reading King’s classic. I dare you.

    RELATED ARTICLE: A Stephen King Movie Universe: Warner Bros.' Big Opportunity

    The Raggedy Man

    7. The Raggedy Man

    Cell (2006)

    “What Darwin was too polite to say, my friends, is that we came to rule the earth not because we were the smartest, or even the meanest, but because we have always been the craziest, most murderous motherfuckers in the jungle.”

    Fans of the Walking Dead need to recognize. King does zombies too, and they are sphincter-tighteningly scary. In Cell, a pulse travels into cell phones all over the world. Anyone on their phone at the fateful moment is turned into a zombie. These villains are a different breed than the popular Romero clones, as the pulse also unlocks latent powers of the human mind like telepathy and levitation.

    The Raggedy Man is the leader of the zombies. He thinks, organizes, and commands. He has all the nihilistic hunger of a zombie, but he has planning skills and foresight which make him a truly frightening antagonist. His goal is to spread his people around the globe and take the planet for his horde. He sees humanity as a threat to his people and seeks to destroy them to protect his new race, which could make him literature’s first sympathetic zombie villain. He is often seen wearing a crimson Harvard hoodie giving the creature an atypical zombie air of intelligence and capability.

    The name of Harvard’s sports teams by the way? The Harvard Crimson. Well played Mr. King, well played.

    RELATED ARTICLE: The Importance of Stephen King's Cell Movie

    Kurt Barlow

    6. Kurt Barlow

    ‘Salems Lot (1975)

    “That above all else. They did not look out their windows. No matter what noises or dreadful possibilities, no matter how awful the unknown, there was an even worse thing: to look the Gorgon in the face.”

    King’s only foray into vampires (the classic ones, anyway), Barlow was the writer’s way of getting the whole mythos right the first time. ‘Salems Lot was King’s second published novel and his first of many novels centering on the idea of a preternatural creature releasing the beast inside of regular people. It was also his first small town novel, a setting King would return to many times over the decades.

    Barlow’s story mirrors that of Dracula, from the shipment of his coffin and native soil from overseas to his arrival and reign of terror in a contemporary setting. He even has his own personal Renfield, Richard Straker, his own gothic mansion, his own legion of dark minions, and a twisted grip on the residents of ‘Salems Lot.

    Barlow was more of a catalyst, using embraced residents as pawns to tighten his grip on the town, but his very presence on the page was accompanied with a sense of urgency and dread.

    In a 1995 BBC radio drama of ‘Salems Lot (that is well worth seeking out), Barlow is played by Pinhead himself, Doug Bradley, which automatically gives the vampire tons of villain cred.

    RELATED ARTICLE: A Reading Guide to the Stephen King Universe

    5. George Stark

    The Dark Half (1989)

    “Cut him. Cut him while I stand here and watch. I want to see the blood flow. Don't make me tell you twice.”

    Stephen King once wrote under the pseudonym Richard Bachman and published some of his more experimental works like The Running ManThe Long Walk, and Thinner. His experience as somewhat existing as another person inspired King to write the Dark Half, and inspired the creation of one of his most cold blooded killers, George Stark. 

    In the novel, Thad Beaumont was a successful author who wrote violent crime novels under the pen name of George Stark. After revealing to the world he was actually Stark, Thad and his wife stage a mock funeral for the author to symbolically cut ties with the violent crime fiction Beaumont wanted to leave behind. This is where King brings the terror.

    The novel started with a flashback that dealt with the removal of an eye from the brain of a young Thad. It was the eye of a twin that was conjoined in the womb to the writer, an incident Thad had all but forgotten about. It was actually the eye of George Stark, who later rises from the mock grave the Beaumonts planted him in to go on a killing spree that leaves even the most seasoned reader with PTSD.

    Stark is the embodiment of the darkness in the hearts of all men. The most frightening part of the book is that even though Beaumont is desperate to rid the world of Stark, part of him is attracted to the freedom evil gives Stark, and the realization that the evil is a part of him.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Stephen King's 10 Greatest Human Villains

    Blaine the Mono

    4. Blaine the Mono

    The Dark Tower III: The Wastelands (1991)

    “Choo-Choo, thought Jake, and shuddered.”

    You will never look at Thomas the Tank Engine the same way again. Blaine is a sentient train in the Dark Tower series, a machine driven insane by underuse. Blaine once housed a powerful computer mind, but the network has since broken down, making the train deranged, cruel, and suicidal.

    Roland and his ka-tet need the train to travel out of the Wasteland so Roland can finish his quest for the Dark Tower. They board Blaine. They are horrified when they find Blaine has gone completely insane. The train forces them into a game of riddles. The situation gets worse, as the ka-tet realizes Blaine will kill himself by derailing at great speed with them aboard.

    A crazy, sentient, thundering locomotive with a face is scary enough, but couple that with the fact that the train suffers from crippling mental health issues, and you have one of the most unique monsters in literature. There is a second voice inside Blaine, Little Blaine, who begs the ka-tet to help him, adding even another layer to the tragic nightmare that is Blaine.

    So essentially, Blaine is Gollum if Gollum was a runaway train: a riddle loving, murderous, schizophrenic machine who has been ruined by pain and emptiness.

    Crimson King

    3. The Crimson King aka Los'Ram Abbalah, The Kingfish, The Red King, Lord of Discordia, Lord of Spiders, Satan

    Insomnia (1994)
    Black House (2001)
    The Dark Tower series

    “I am the Eater of Worlds.”

    The Crimson King is often mistaken for It, and it is not completely clear if they are the same monster, but the regality and level of reverence the King’s minions hold for him seem to suggest that he is different than the sewer-dwelling eater of children.

    The Crimson King is the embodiment of evil in King’s shared fictional universe. He is first introduced in Insomniawhere he tries to kill a child prophesied to topple the rule of the King forever.

    The King is later revealed as the monster behind the events of the novel Black House, and he is the overarching villain of the Dark Tower series, the monster responsible for trying to bring down the structure of reality.

    Stephen King suggests that all his villains, supernatural or otherwise, are pawns of the Crimson King. The name itself carries some great metatextual flavor as, of course, Stephen King himself is the one truly responsible for the evil in his worlds. The half of the writer that creates and is responsible for these horrific monsters is also named King. Stephen King is the writer, father, husband, and Red Sox fan. The Crimson King is the dark overlord of the fictional universe and the monster maker.

    Stephen King's It

    2. It aka Pennywise the Dancing Clown, Robert Gray, Bob Grapes

    It (1986)

    "Float?" The clown’s grin widened. "Oh yes, indeed they do. They float! And there’s cotton candy..."
    George reached.
    The clown seized his arm.
    And George saw the clown’s face change.

    Every twenty-seven years It rises to devour the children of Derry. It awoke when a homosexual couple was beaten by a gang of thugs in 1984 to again reign terror on the children of Derry. It was put to rest by the Losers Club, a group of misfit teens, in 1958 only to rise again, decades later. It killed the leader of the Losers’ (Bill Denbrough) little brother in one of the most hair-raising prologues in horror history.  

    It is another of King’s manipulator villains, as It controls the darker residents of Derry, such as bully Henry Bowers to do Its bidding. It is a cannibalistic clown that lives in the sewers, a leprous mummy, a giant spider, or a series of orange lights called the Dead Lights that drive people mad when gazed upon.

    Unlike the similar creature, the Crimson King, It does not commit evil for glory or power. It devours because It hungers. The lives of innocents exist only to fill the void of It's being. And let’s face it, nothing, NOTHING is freakin’ scarier than a hungry clown in a sewer.

    Randall Flagg

    1. Randall Flagg

    aka The Ageless Stranger, The Walkin' Dude, The Dark Man, The Hardcase, The Man in Black, The Tall Man, The Midnight Rambler, The Antagonist, The Grinning Man, Old Creeping Judas, He Who Walks Behind The Rows, The Covenant Man, Richard Fry, Robert Franq, Ramsey Forrest, Robert Freemont, Richard Freemantle, Russell Faraday, The Monster, The Man with No Face,  Richard Fannin, Raymond Fiegler, Walter o'Dim, Marten Broadcloak, Walter Padick, Walter Hodji, and Bill Hitch

    The Stand (1978)
    Eyes of the Dragon (1986)
    Hearts in Atlantis (1999)
    The Dark Tower series

    “My life for you.”

    Not so much a single villain, but the archetype of all villains, Randall Flagg is King’s greatest singular creation of evil. Flagg first appeared in The Stand, the Dark Man who gathers the worst of humanity to rebuild a new civilization in his own dark image. The Walkin’ Dude had a propensity for crucifying any whose beliefs ran contrary to his.

    Flagg is the greatest of King’s manipulators, able to inspire loyalty in those with dark hearts, as seen by the Trashcan Man in The Stand and even Mother Carmody in The Mist. All they have to do is say “My life for you,” and mean it, and Flagg will be there to inspire their dark deeds.

    He was revealed to be the antagonists to Roland in the Dark Tower series, and is the ever present evil in all men. Flagg is walking the back roads of reality just waiting for a chance to whisper in humanity’s ear and stir up some good, old fashioned chaos.

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

    A version of this article first appeared on October 19, 2013.

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    Everything you need to know about the Artemis Fowl movie adaptation from Kenneth Branagh...

    News Kayti Burt
    Dec 22, 2017

    It’s been more than a decade since the Artemis Fowl fantasy book series about a boy billionaire genius who also happens to be a criminal mastermind was published and inspired talk of a movie.

    Now, it seems like the film adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s bestselling children’s book series might finally move ahead. The Tracking Board reports that Kenneth Branagh, fresh off of his success with Disney’s live action Cinderella, has signed on to direct the film.

    Could the Artemis Fowl film finally be happening? We hope so. Here's everything we know.

    Artemis Fowl Movie Cast

    Relative newcomer Ferdia Shaw has been cast in the title role in the Artemis Fowl movie. Joining young Shaw will be Dame Judi Dench, Josh Gad, Lara McDonnell, and Nonso Anozie.

    In other news, Irish playwright Conor McPherson will be writing the script for the adaptation of the best-selling middle grade novel.

    Artemis Fowl Movie Release Date

    Disney has slated the film for an August 9th, 2019 release date. Production will begin in the U.K. in 2018.

    Artemis Fowl Movie Production History

    Long before the anti-hero craze hit mainstream TV drama, Artemis Fowl was making immoral decisions and trying to leverage innocent bystanders for money, power, or to rescue family members in this series of middle grade novels.

    Artemis is like a cross between Gotham’s Bruce Wayne, James Bond, and pretty much every supervillain worth their salt. Throw in some high-tech gadgetry and a secret magical underworld policed by fairies and you’ve got the perfect ingredients for a blockbuster film adaptation — which is why it’s so surprising that this movie adaptation hasn’t progressed further in the last decade.

    The Artemis Fowl films have been in development hell for the last 14 years. To put that in context, Harvey Weinstein bought the rights in 2001 through Miramax Films (which was later purchased by Disney) — aka the same year the first Harry Potter film was released and studios started selling their first borns to find the next big YA/children’s book film adaptation.

    Over the years, directors like Lawrence Guterman and Jim Sheridan have been attached to the Artemis Fowl film. But, in 2013, the latter left the project and Disney announced that they would be producing a version of the film with the Weinstein Co., with Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal as executive producers.

    Personally, we’re overjoyed to see this film adaptation move forward, especially with the right writer. Though Branagh has proven himself a highly competent director, the Cinderellascript was a bit thin. Snarky Artemis Fowl needs a writer up to the task of quippy one-liners and balancing the fine line between child anti-hero and lonely kid with too much money and not enough family members.

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  • 12/22/17--14:57: The 21 Best Comics of 2017
  • New books, returning favorites and indie darlings round out our list of the best comics of the year.

    The ListsJim Dandy
    Dec 22, 2017

    Let’s face it: 2017 was a bowl of sloshing garbage water. Fortunately for those of us looking to escape, comics provided plenty of opportunities. Between some underappreciated gems from Marvel, nostalgic fun, quirky nonfiction, ongoing magic, and DC’s resurgence, we had a plethora of good comics to choose from over the course of the year.

    Over the course of the year, we compiled our list of the best, most interesting, most entertaining comics for you. Check them out.

    21. G.I. Joe (IDW Publishing)

    Not every comic on this list needs to be a masterpiece, an exemplar of the genre that bends the interaction between reader and creator using strictly metered panel layouts and dialogue repetitions. Some comics are just stupid amounts of fun. When you give a wrestling guy who has internalized the concept that action movies are just musicals with the songs replaced by violence a toybox full of everything my generation used to play with when we were kids, you get a comic that’s ridiculous in all the best ways. A team of Joes, led by Scarlett, teams up with Skywarp from the Transformers to take down Cobra, who has been infiltrated by Dire Wraiths. This is not complicated, but it is lovely.

    Aubrey Sitterson gets how to write these characters. I’m not the world’s biggest Joe fan, but I get their basic beats and the high concept of most of the characters, and I feel like Sitterson does too. The art, from Prophet vet Giannis Milonogiannis, is weird and jarring at first - you come to G.I. Joe looking for pictures of your old toys, and Milonogiannis’s art is really manga-heavy and sketchy. But after two or three pages, it doesn’t matter: the action is top rate. There is at least one scene an issue that makes you pump your fist because it’s so cool, whether it’s the Dreadnoks chasing down the Joes in their various vehicles, or Skywarp leaning over Doc and Grand Slam, he makes every page so much fun.

    Read GI Joe Vol. 1 on Amazon

    20. Ichi-F: A Worker's Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant (Kodansha Comics)

    More comics like Ichi-F should exist.

    Admittedly, this is a bit of a niche book. Kazuto Tatsuta’s manga memoir about life working at the Fukushima Daiichi plant can be bone dry at times. Tatsuta worked there for six months, came back, and decided to document his experiences in painstaking, sometimes tedious detail. I say sometimes tedious as a complement: Tatsuta, in an effort to cut through the sensationalism and show people what was really going on at the plant, recounted every movement he made on some days, from how crowded the bathrooms were in the housing provided to the workers by the company, to how many times they had to fill the generators at the rest area.

    That said, it’s also a fascinating look at the really technical recovery effort. Repairing the power plant at Fukushima is an engineering and organizing feat. Tatsuta’s book explaining the recovery in plain language to lay people is invaluable for taking some of the stigma away from that recovery. Tatsuta is a skilled draftsman and a capable storyteller, and with Ichi-F, he’s showing us why nonfiction like this is perfect for the comics medium.

    Read Ichi-F on Amazon

    19. BLACK

    It's almost a little too on-the-nose to point out that BLACK is an extraordinarily timely superhero book. And saying that any work of fiction is "what we need right now" is both hyperbolic and a little depressing. But BLACK is exactly the kind of story you want to see emerge when the world isn't everything you want it to be. And while that old adage about judging books by their covers is always true, BLACK could have found itself a place on this list on the strength of Khary Randolph's covers alone. Fortunately, the work done by Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith 3, Jamal Igle, and Sarah Litt lives up to them.

    Launching off the back of a wildly successful Kickstarter in 2016, BLACK found its home at Black Mask Studios, where the politically charged narrative feels right at home. While the X-Men have long used superhero comics as a metaphor for civil rights and the struggles of any number of marginalized groups, BLACK poses its question directly: "what if only black people had superpowers?" As you might expect, it doesn't make things any easier.

    BLACK wrapped its initial six issue run in 2017, which makes it eligible for inclusion here. There's more to the story, though, with standalone tales set in the world of BLACK on the way. We're looking forward to all of them.

    Read BLACK on Amazon

    18. Rock Candy Mountain (Image Comics)

    This wasn’t a tough sell for me. A book about hobo culture (yes please) that has a guy fight the devil (good) written and drawn by the dude who gave the world Sexcastle? The only surprise was that I waited for the trade.

    Starks is a deceptively good worldbuilder. He’s got a knack for keeping the reader focused on the jokes, while he subtly layers in details that make the world his characters inhabit rich and vivid. It’s not something you notice right away about Rock Candy Mountain, but because the book is so entertaining, when you go back to check it out a second and third time, you’ll see that he’s created such an elaborate, fun “dead frog on a string” stories that you have to step back and be impressed at what Starks did. There is so much weird hobo culture wrapped around ridiculous fights and interesting characters that Rock Candy Mountain is impossible not to love.

    Read Rock Candy Mountain on Amazon

    17. Shade the Changing Girl (DC Comics)

    It was actually tough to pick just one Young Animal book - Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye is Michael Avon Oeming’s best work since Thor: Disassembled, and he and Jon Rivera came on really strong at the end of that first year. Meanwhile, Jody Houser is doing the best work of her career on Mother Panic, and Faith and the Future Force was on the first draft of this list. But Cecil Castellucci and Marley Zarcone’s Shade the Changing Girlstuck with me every issue.

    It’s ostensibly about a bird-alien who steals Rac Shade’s Madness Vest, and then projects her consciousness into a brain dead Earth teenager’s body. Loma then learns how to be a teen in modern America. The simplicity of the premise belies the utter lunacy of the product, though - this is one of the weirdest, most eerie (not scary, just odd and discomforting) but still beautiful comics out there. Even with the metaphor being blatant, though, there’s a subtlety in how Zarcone plays Loma’s weirdness that is incredibly effective. It’s not going to hit everyone the same way, and I bet I’m not even the most passionate evangelist for this book, but Shade the Changing Girl is wonderful and should be high on everybody’s reading list every week.

    Read Shade The Changing Girl on Amazon

    16.  Atomic Robo

    Robois one of those comics that you’ve probably been hearing about for years. It was a small press darling for a bit, until the economics of the business moved the book online. With a heavy boost from crowdfunding, IDW eventually picked up the rights to publish the single issues, but the comic remains free to read on their web site. Around the time that Brian Clevenger and Scott Wegener moved the book online, they also made a subtle shift in story for everyone’s favorite fighting action scientists.

    Each volume of Atomic Robojumped around in Robo’s timeline, but the last few volumes have tightened up the continuity a little, told a bit more of a linear story. And something about that tighter story also helped them open up the action a bit, and made an already smart, funny book more exciting. Wegener is a little bit Mignola, a little bit Oeming, and he manages to regularly make three overlapping circles (Robo’s head) the most expressive face in comics. Clevenger writes absurd action humor better than almost anyone in comics - the current volume has Richard Branson very seriously telling Robo “Without law, there is anarchy” in the midst of a super-science homeowners’ association dispute. That’s just wonderful.

    Read Atomic Robo on Amazon

    15. Deathstroke (DC Comics)

    We talked about why Deathstrokeis amazing back in February, and there isn’t really much more to say about it. Priest has made a thrice-cipher of a character into the most interesting dad in the DC universe, and the folks at DC keep handing him incredible gifts for artists - Carlo Pagulayan started, but Denys Cowan, Diogenes Neves, even Larry Hama have stepped in to help. There have been some incredible talents on this book, and it shows in the final product.  Do yourself a favor and get all of these in trade if you don’t already have them.

    Start with Deathstroke Rebirth Vol. 1

    14. East of West (Image Comics)

    As East of West heads towards its finish line, it’s become easy to take for granted. The density of the story makes it tough to get your head around the whole story in single issues, but it almost doesn’t matter: Nick Dragotta’s art is stunning.

    I once called it “Spectacular Spider-Manera Sal Buscema drawing Akira,” but that doesn’t really do his work in East of West justice. First of all, colorist Nick Martin is a HUGE part of the success of the art: his palate changes scene to scene and his color cues for the various factions of the world are essential to understanding what’s going on. And he helps make the art so much fun to look at. Secondly, Dragotta’s mastery of this world and these characters is total - he’s more stylish and angular than Buscema, and more expressive than Otomo. The way he captures the terror and tenderness in his characters’ faces is beautiful, and the scale and grandiosity of the world, the detail he puts into the landscapes is staggering.

    Jonathan Hickman’s story is intense, too. It’s got all the hallmarks of a classic Hickman story: a billion characters, an absurdly intricate plot, and incredible action. But this is a cut above much of his previous work. It’s simultaneously quietly resonant with thundering action; sci-fi, western, fantasy and alternate history; Especially if you read it in a big chunk, this is such a fun comic.

    Start with East of West Vol. 1

    13. Black Panther (Marvel Comics)

    I’ve had a pull list for about 5 years with almost no interruptions. In that time, every single book I’ve subscribed to has had off issues, or filler, or plateaus. Even the miniseries have had issues that weren’t as strong as earlier ones, or issues that were there to move the plot along.

    Except for Black Panther.

    This comic is the rare exception where every issue is stronger than the one that came before it, and now here we are, twenty issues in and in the midst of one of the seminal Black Panther runs of all time. Ta-Nehisi Coates came into the book having thought his way around Wakanda and how its geography shaped its society, and it was a fascinating, if slow-burn, take on a land that is set to become the most exciting in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a couple of months.

    I enjoy comics that I can inhabit, and Coates, Brian Stelfreeze, Laura Martin, Chris Sprouse, Wilfredo Torres and the rest of the art teams who have put this book together have built a deep, beautiful world with culture and politics and now as of this arc a religion that are all fully realized the second I crack the issue. Black Panther wasn’t on my list of best comics of the year until I realized that the last four issues had been the first ones on my stack that I read when they came out. This is probably the most well-made book that Marvel has on the shelf, and it’s one I’m excited to pick up every week.

    Start with Black Panther Volume 1: A Nation Under Our Feet

    12. Uber: Invasion (Avatar Press)

    The first volume of Kieron Gillen and Canaan White’s “what if World War II had superpowers in it” story read like an alternate military history, with an emphasis on the history portion. The beauty of Uber since its launch was that it turned the typical superpowered World War II story on its ear: instead of having titanic clashes between archetypical heroes and villains, Gillen treated the Panzermensch as weapons that existed in time and space and had rules to their use. He risked drying the book out to the point where it would have read more like a primary source from the war, like sorting through Rommel’s papers instead of reading a story, but he always kept the story moving. He thoroughly researched the war and the players, and any deviations from history were carefully explained.

    Now, a third of the way into the second volume, he gets to unload. All three sides have the technology, and there’s combat everywhere. Daniel Gete, the new series artist, seems to be enjoying the opportunity to draw mass destruction in America, and Gillen is definitely having a blast writing Patton in Italy. It took time for characters to really shine through, but they have, and Uber is one of the best comics of the year because of it.

    Start with Uber Volume 1

    11. The Wild Storm (DC Comics)

    Jon Davis Hunt is the reason The Wild Storm is here. Taken simply as a part of Warren Ellis’s enormous body of work, this would certainly be one of the better ones, but “excellent Warren Ellis” is common enough where it ceased to stand out a little while ago - not fair to him, certainly, but the price you pay for continued success is that it becomes routine.

    Hunt, on the other hand, steps into an art tradition that goes back through Bryan Hitch and Frank Quitely all the way to Jim Lee at his most frantic peak, and proved he belongs in that group with some of the most inspired action sequences in all of comics. We practically gushed about his art before, but it’s worth reiterating: the samurai fight in issue 9 is one of the absolute best things put in comic books all year.

    Start with The Wild Storm Vol. 1

    10. Secret Weapons (Valiant Entertainment)

    The Legion of Substitute Heroes is one of the best parts of DC’s Legion lore, and about halfway through the second issue of Secret Weapons, Valiant’s Harbingerspinoff mini, I had a eureka moment that made me adore this comic. Eric Heisserer, the screenwriter behind the incredibly clever Arrival(that you should definitely not watch if you’re expecting a kid btw), made his first foray into comics writing with this book, and the Valiant folks, being generally good decision makers, paired him with Raul Allen and Patricia Martin, an incredible pair to get for your first comic ever.

    The story follows a group of misfit Psiots (Valiant Universe code for mutants, basically) with borderline useless powers as they hide from a world that’s terrified of them. Live Wire, one of the Valiant U’s big shots, gathers them up to protect them as they’re being hunted by someone who wants their powers. They eventually learn to work as a team and overcome the big bad despite their inane powers - talking to birds, making random objects appear out of thin air, turning into a statue.

    Heisserer sets the bar pretty high for himself with the story. It’s a lot of fun, with earnest, distinct characters and good action. And in an interesting role reversal for comic books, he’s a screenwriter who’s clearly excited to be writing comic books, enthusiasm that bleeds through to every page of the work. Allen is like a cross between David Aja and David Rubin with slightly more mainstream layouts: great figures, kinetic action, and good “directing” of talking head sequences. Everything Valiant puts out is usually very good, but Secret Weapons is great, definitely one of the best comics of 2017.

    Read Secret Weapons on Amazon

    9.  God Country (Image Comics)

    Where the hell has Geoff Shaw been all my life?

    A few people have been singing Donnie Cates’s praises to me for a while, so I grabbed the first volume of God Country on sale figuring I’d take a shot. And while the story was terrific, Shaw’s art was a revelation. He’s got all the energy and angular style of guys like Rafael Albuquerque or Sean Murphy, with the moody atmosphere of Jae Lee, and when you combine that linework with Jason Wordie’s terrific, understated coloring, you get something truly special.

    Cates created a fantastic story, something surprisingly moving and personal for a comic about The God of Buster Swords. It’s weirdly melancholy and human, with some moments of pure joy and some character beats that are heartbreaking. And he does it in very little time - this was a breeze of a read, not because it wasn’t packed with details, but because it was so engrossing and impossible to put down.

    Read God Country on Amazon

    8. Iceman (Marvel Comics)

    I yearn for good X-Men comics. I’m the guy who scrolls to the end of the new releases on Marvel Unlimited every week, hoping against hope that they’ve digitized the remaining X-Factor and New Mutants issues so I can keep going with my chronological X-readthrough. I have every Uncannyand Legacycollection from Messiah CompleX to Schism, and I actually went out to buy the one issue of X-Cutioner’s Song that I was missing so I could read the whole thing (spoilers: it was...not good). But since Schism, the X-Men books haven’t really been doing it for me. So I approached the Resurrxion relaunch with a ton of hope. Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti and Robert Gill have absolutely knocked Iceman out of the park.

    I’ve said elsewhere that good X-Men stories have three things: soapy backstories, melodramatic romances, and visually interesting uses of their powers. That’s true for non-comics media, but in comics, there’s one more necessity: a connection to the rich history of the X-Men and the rest of the Marvel Universe.

    Grace’s strength as a writer is that he’s as excited to put that stuff on the page as we are to read it. He’s made Bobby’s relationship with his parents feel real without being stereotypical; his romance feel natural and honest while still also being broken up by a sentinel attack. Grace gets that Bobby is one of the most powerful mutants on the planet, and hasn’t been afraid to show it (but also hasn’t made every snowman full of angst). And he fills every issue with a terrifically realized supporting cast, from the students at the school to the villains Bobby fights, to the best Angel since Remender’s Uncanny X-Force and the best Hercules since Pak and Van Lente. Icemanis a joy to read, the best X-Men comic since Simon Spurrier left Legacy.

    Start with Iceman Vol. 1: Thawing Out

    7. Aliens: Dead Orbit (Dark Horse Comics)

    James Stokoe drawing xenomorphs.

    I shouldn’t really need more to justify why this is on a best comics of the year list. Stokoe draws so much detail into every panel that it takes an hour to read one issue. He does grime and crappy, run down future tech better than literally everyone working in comics right now. Everything he touches is amazing because of his incredibly detailed, gorgeous art. It doesn’t even matter that the story is half Alien: Isolation and half Warren Ellis sci-fi Avatar project, or that each issue takes forever to publish. In fact, that’s almost preferable - I want him to put all that work into every panel. This comic was incredible.

    Read Aliens: Dead Orbit on Amazon

    6. Becky’s Cancer Fund

    Kate Beaton is arguably the most gifted cartoonist of our time. There are more technically skilled artists, people who slave over every hatch in every panel, but nobody puts humor on mouths and in eyebrows better than Beaton does. And while she mines jokes out of absurdity a lot (A LOT a lot, Straw Feminists are incredible), a ton of her humor comes from earnestness, too.

    Those skills make it easy to transition from earnest hilarity to just honest, moving, a little bit sad storytelling. That’s unfortunately what she’s done here - her sister is fighting cancer, and Beaton put together a combination of pictures and comic strips of family memories as a way to help raise money for Becky’s needs and treatment. It’s heartbreaking in parts, hilarious in others, and it’s really hard not to take the totality of her work here and not be in awe of how talented Kate Beaton is. Also the strip where she throws up on her sister from the top bunk is one of the funniest things I’ve read this year.

    Read it here and donate to Becky's Rally Against Cancer here!

    5. Mech Cadet Yu (BOOM! Studios)

    It takes a lot to cause a visible reaction from me when I’m reading a comic. A smile, a chuckle, those are uncommon, but not unheard of. But I almost never outright cheer a book on. So when I yelled “YEAH” at my computer in issue 4 of Mech Cadet Yu, that’s when I knew this was going to be high on the list.

    The elevator pitch for Mech Cadet Yu is “What if Disney made Pacific Rim,” but that undersells what a wonderful comic it is. Greg Pak and Takeshi Miyazawa are two of the consistently best creators working in comics. Pak’s writing is as tight and fluid as always, but everything is infused with a sense of wonder that is too often missing from comics. Miyazawa’s body language is stellar, making Stanford a fully formed, deep character without needing a single line of dialogue from Pak. And as if that weren’t enough, this book had some of my favorite lettering of the year - color coding the word balloons to the mech pilot seems like it should be an old trick, but it’s one I haven’t seen enough. Mech Cadet Yu is full of heart, great action, and a fun story.

    Start with Mech Cadet Yu Vol. 1

    4. The Mighty Thor (Marvel Comics)

    I spend a lot of money, time and shelf space on comics. Between my pull list at my shop, promo stuff, Marvel Unlimited, and various Comixology sales, the only stuff I buy in collected form are comics I really love. They’re usually stories that resonated with me, like Remender’s Uncanny X-Force, or particular editions that I need to own, like Absolute New Frontier. The point I’m getting to is, when my brother asked me what I want for Christmas this year, I told him “start at the beginning, but buy me Jason Aaron’s Thor.”

    Legendary runs of Thor are at the front of everyone’s mind now that there’s a movie that drew so heavily from them that’s penetrated pop culture. Like all the great stories, Aaron has a point: he’s writing a huge story about myth and war and sacrifice. But the deftness with which he’s written it has been a sight to behold - he’s dodged multiple big crossovers, incorporating more than one of them into the overall narrative. He’s placed Asgard firmly within the Marvel cosmology in a way that reminds you of what Marvel used to be and can still sometimes be, without feeling like he’s pandering to old-school fans.

    And he’s had some absolute superstar artists to work with - Esad Ribic on God of Thunder, and then Russell Dauterman and Matt Wilson since. Their role in the success of The Mighty Thor cannot be understated: Dauterman’s imagination is massive, and his Asgard is both distinct from others that came before him, and yet very much the Asgard we’ve always known. Wilson is so good at coloring he should get paid writer page rates and royalties. Look at any cover, or any panel from the Asgard/Shi’ar war, and you’ll be astounded. The Mighty Thor is one of the best comics of this year, one of the best stories with the characters, and one of the best Marvel comics ever.

    Start with Thor: God of Thunder Vol. 1 and go from there!

    3. My Favorite Thing is Monsters (Fantagraphics)

    That this is Emil Ferris’s first published comics work is ridiculous. Ridiculous! Ferris weaves two incredibly emotional stories around each other, packs hundreds of influences and references together into a package that is one of the most engrossing, moving comics I’ve ever read.

    The story is about a ten-year-old girl, Karen Reyes, growing up in late ‘60s Chicago. The comic shows Karen processing a bunch of stuff, from questions of her own sexuality, to the death of Martin Luther King, to growing up around racist, classist kids in the turmoil of the ‘60s, while her Mom dies of cancer and she investigates the death and life of a mysterious, alluring upstairs neighbor.

    The emotions are raw and powerful because the story is told as Karen’s sketchbook/diary - the pages look like they’re lined paper from a spiral notebook. Everything is first person, and Karen draws herself as a muppet-ish mid-transition werewolf both because she’s detached from humanity and because she really loves the old horror comics and movies she shares with her much older brother. This is played to great effect late in the book in a really emotional sequence.

    Ferris’s art is just absurdly good. She sketches the whole thing in colored pen, and the depth that she puts into the work with limited materials is almost unfair. The way she plays with light in some of her more detailed sketches is incredible, and she manages to replicate several pieces of fine art in the book with nothing but a few pen slashes. Her characters run the gamut from loosely sketched Muppets, to exaggerated cartooning that you see Harvey Kurtzman or R. Crumb’s influence in. My Favorite Thing is Monsters is an incredible achievement and an amazing comic.

    Read My Favorite Thing is Monsters on Amazon

    2. Batman/Elmer Fudd Special #1 (DC Comics)

    I’m as surprised as you are to see Batman/Elmer Fudd as my second best comic of the year, but the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t put this anywhere else.

    For the past couple of years, DC has been doing...odd...crossovers with other properties they own. The Hanna Barbera books on their own were occasionally genius (see: The Flintstones), and when they leaned into the zany tone and put a solid creative team on a crossover with DC characters, they were usually good (see: Booster Gold/Flintstones). So of course they would do weird Looney Tunes crossovers this year, pairing off Bugs Bunny with the Legion of Superheroes, Wonder Woman with the Tasmanian Devil, Marvin the Martian and the Martian Manhunter, and Road Runner and Lobo. The rule here was much the same: the harder the creators leaned into the wackiness, embraced the Looney Tunes-iness of the book, the better it would be.

    Except for Batman/Elmer Fudd.

    Tom King and Lee Weeks made a straight up noir story that, had it stood on its own, would have been an excellent hard-boiled detective story. But what pushed this comic into legendary territory (and I will argue with you on calling it legendary - I promise you ten years from now people will be referring back to this the same way people talk about something like Frank Miller and Walt Simonson’s Robocop versus The Terminator) is the fact that King and Weeks put something on every page that made the reader step back and laugh from a combination of disbelief and humor. Turning all the Looney Tunes characters into scumbags at the local criminal dive bar is genius, but putting actual words into their mouths - especially chubby, short, mobbed up Tweety making “I did taw a puddy tat” utterly filthy - is absurd. If you haven’t read this comic, please go find it. I promise you won’t regret it.

    Read DC Meets Looney Tunes on Amazon

    1. Mister Miracle (DC Comics)

    Tom King is a master of pacing. He’s not afraid to do an issue that’s entirely splash pages (see: Batman #12, the issue where Batman invaded Santa Prisca and took on Bane’s military all by himself), but King made his bones by mastering telling stories through the nine-panel grid. Reading a Tom King book has a certain musical quality, not so much a beautiful symphony, but a military parade march, staccato and geometric.

    Mitch Gerads is the perfect artist to pair with him. The two made Sheriff of Babylon one of the most engrossing comics of the last decade. Gerads is a brilliant storyteller, someone who excels at emotionally charged small group talking head moments. The two have done a lot of work together this year. First, they had an interstitial arc on Batmanthat had Batman working out daddy issues with Swamp Thing. But they started Mister Miracle in the back half of the year, and both of them immediately shot to a whole new level.

    Mister Miracle has what appears to be Scott Free dealing with an upheaval in Fourth World politics at the same time that he’s working through depression and the aftermath of a suicide attempt. There’s more, but that’s the top line of the story, and if we go deeper than that, we start getting into speculation. The reason this is the best comic of the year is because of the tension that King packs into every conversation, the love that Barda shows Scott in every panel Gerads puts her in, and the weird, uncomfortable twists every issue takes. This book is Vision,only darker, more screwed up, more beautiful and more fascinating. Mister Miracle is comfortably the best comic of 2017.

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    Here are 15 fiction books that mattered to Den of Geek writers in 2017...

    The ListsKayti BurtAlana Joli AbbottMarc BuxtonMegan CrouseLouise WalkerLouisa Mellor
    Dec 22, 2017

    As we leave the culturally-chaotic 2017 behind, Den of Geek writers are taking a moment to reflect on which books meant the most to us in the past year.

    As with all "best of" lists, the criteria is somewhat subjective, while also representing a certain objective quality. In other words: these stories are well-told, but they also meant something special to our writers in 2017.

    Hopefully, you will find at least one book amongst their number that either has or will mean something to you, too.

    Here are our 15 selections for "Best Books of 2017"...

    The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin

    Stories of human resilience in 2017 had to stand up to some daunting real-world fears, and the conclusion to N.K. Jemison’s brilliant, no-holds-barred fantasy series does exactly that. The Stone Sky is the third book in the Broken Earth series and, like its predecessors, presents a "mid-apocalyptic" world in which geological-magic users are both essential for survival and hated by the rest of humanity. The writing is gorgeous and precise: Jemisin brings a scientific rigor to her world as well as rich, complex character voices and an unflinching look at societal imbalance.

    The Stone Sky in particular brings our long-suffering, breathtakingly powerful hero Essun onto a collision course with her daughter Nassun. For me, the depictions of a mother's love for her daughter were incredibly moving; the stakes were so high and both characters felt so much like real people that the book felt less like a grand genre gesture and more like something that happened to a family I really knew.

    The series excels all the way through, with the last book pulling out all the stops when it came to characterization and world-building. Essential reading for writers who want to be conversant in contemporary fantasy.

    — Megan Crouse

    Buy The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

    Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View

    Star Wars has always been defined by the various strange and sometimes compelling side characters that populate the galaxy far, far away. Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View allows some of the top genre authors in the game to present some of those wonderful periphery characters and their stories.

    Yeah, I know, books like Star Wars: Tales from the Mos Eisley (1995), edited by Kevin J. Anderson, kind of did this a few decades back, but we have a new canon now and Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View takes full advantage of this clean slate.

    Reading Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View is like overturning a box full of Kenner action figures and watching some of the coolest voices in genre fiction go to town. In the short stories contained within these pages, you’ll witness Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick tell a grim yet humorous tale featuring some of the more famous cantina denizens. You'll experience Charles Soule reveal what Lando Calrissian was doing during the events of A New Hope.

    You'll thrill to ther notable stories includes Meg Cabot exploring the life and conflicts of Aunt Beru in a heartfelt account of duty and family, Greg Rucka revealing the story of a dedicated Rebel technician that must sit on the sidelines during the Battle of Yavin, and Nnedi Okorafor telling the oddly moving tale of the Death Star trash compactor monster.

    These stories range from laugh out loud funny to heartbreaking as some of the coolest voices in speculative fiction take their crack at some Star Wars side characters. I hope this series continues for each film because I really need to learn the story of that thing that allows Luke to drink out of its nipples in The Last Jedi.

    — Marc Buxton

    Buy Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View

    Horizon by Fran Wilde

    Fran Wilde's Bone Universe series is the inventive story of Kirit Densira, a young woman who exposes the secrets of a city perched high up in the clouds among the bones of a dying beast.

    The emphasis on world-building and geography makes the series unfold with the sense of wonder and discovery found in the Harry Potter series. The latter books, including 2017's Horizon, cover the politics and logistics of how that city works and what happens when it fails. Wilde has a knack for turning the world on its head and making commonplace situations seem extraordinary through the eyes of its characters.

    I also very much love Kirit and her determination to keep going even when she has lost some of the most important things and people in her life. I think of this series often when I'm afraid, focusing on Kirit's flight instead of what feels like gravity pulling me down.

    The third book might be the most cinematic of all of them, with more steampunk-inspired machinery and some giant monsters that seem perfect for the big screen. Horizon ramped the series up with bigger and more perilous action scenes, as well as presenting surprising and satisfying arcs for the characters.

    — Megan Crouse

    Buy Horizon by Fran Wilde

    Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

    John Green's first new book in six years follows the life of Aza Holmes, a 16-year-old girl living with obsessive compulsive disorder. Aza's mind is often taken over by intrusive thoughts she cannot get away from. "The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely," is how she describes it.

    When Aza is reluctantly pulled into the mystery of a missing billionaire by her best friend, she is

    Partially based on Green's own experience of obsessive compulsive and anxiety disorders, the depiction of these illness is honest and sometimes horrifying. We don't have enough representations of mental illness in our popular culture. Turtles All the Way Down is helping to change that in raw and beautiful ways.

    Aza is more than her OCD. She lives a complex life with friends, family, and school. Green has created a whole Indianapolis-set world for his protagonist and it is filled with memorable, complex characters—many of them, of course, supernaturally articulate teens. The author touches on topics like death, grief, neglect, anxiety, and class in subtle, yet affecting ways, weaving these themes into the fabric of Aza's fictional life in a way that mimics the whole pallette-tones of the real world.

    "Life is a series of choices between wonders," one character says in the book. This is a story that recognizes the pain and horror of human existence, but it is one that recognizes the love and beauty of it all, too.

    — Kayti Burt

    Buy Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

    La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One by Philip Pullman

    Although they say good things come to those who wait, I still picked up my pre-ordered copy of this book with some trepidation. Fortunately the old saying rings true in this compelling re-visit to the world of daemons first explored in the His Dark Materials trilogy...

    Familiar characters from that series weave in and out but never outstay their welcome and some minor characters get their stories fleshed out. They are all connected through the eyes of 11-year-old Malcolm, whose cosy world gets turned upside down by the arrival of a baby called Lyra.

    The narrative is darker this time, but Pullman again deftly blends reality with fantasy and biblical imagery. It isn't as good as the original trilogy—how could it be?—but it is still a gripping piece of work that leaves us hoping that we won't have to wait so long for the next volume.

    — Louise Walker

    Buy The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman

    Rusty Puppy by Joe R. Lansdale

    Rusty Puppy is the twelfth installment of Joe R. Lansdale's Hap and Leonard series of books.

    For those of you who haven't experienced Hap and Leonard within the pages of one of Lansdale's pot-boilers or on the IFC TV series, Hap is a tough as nails do-gooder who is as skilled in martial arts as he is in getting into trouble and Leonard is a black, homosexual ex-Navy SEAL that has a penchant for kicking copious amounts of ass and eating vanilla cookies.

    Hap and Leonard have one of the most realistic and fun to read friendships in all of modern literature, and it’s always a blast when Lansdale allows readers to ride along on one of Hap and Leonard's two-fisted adventures.

    In Rusty Puppy, Hap and Leonard are hired to find the corrupt cops who killed the son of their black neighbor. What starts as an allegory to modern race relations in Texas ends with a mystery that finally sees Hap and Leonard take a case that might be too much for them to handle.

    The fun part of Lansdale's long running series is watching Hap and Leonard change and mature as they get on in years. The relationship between Hap, Leonard, Lansdale, and readers has now existed for decades in the pages of Lansdale’s books and, more recently, on TV, and the pair of kick ass Texas pals never fails to deliver a quality read that lasts like a fine sip of moonshine in the hearts and minds of long time fans.

    — Marc Buxton

    Buy Rusty Puppy by Joe R. Lansdale

    Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

    Norse Mythology is like the best college textbook ever. This deep dive into Norse myth (duh) presents classic tales of Thor, Odin, Sif, Loki, Baldur, Surtur and the rest of the Asgardian gods and monsters, and repositions them all into an ultra-slick and modern context. 

    Gaiman's language and diction is an absolute delight as he presents the strangeness and wonder of the Norse myths in all their pagan glory. These are not the Marvel Asgardians, these are flawed beings of immense appetite and power that live in a constant cycle of war, betrayal, and death.

    Read our interview with Sam Weber, the artist behind the cover of Norse Mythology.

    Norse Mythology really is a book only Gaiman can write and by relating these glorious myths of old, Gaiman presents some truth about the modern world. Only Gaiman can juxtapose fart jokes and Ragnarok into a heartfelt lush piece of prose that will have you weeping, terrified, and guffawing all at the same time.

    Norse Mythology can also serve as a backdoor companion piece to American Gods because the deities that appear in Gaiman’s latest triumph are as fully formed and filled with old world energy as the gods that Shadow Moon encounters during his trek across America.

    — Marc Buxton

    Buy Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

    The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag

    Growing up, I read a lot of books about girls who wanted to buck tradition and do traditional boy things—among them the "Song of the Lioness" Quartet by Tamora Pierce, in which a girl disguises herself as a boy to become a knight. However, The Witch Boy is one of the first books I've encountered, especially for a middle grade audience, that flips that trope...

    Aster is growing up in a family where men become shape shifters and women become witches. But, unlike the rest of the boys his age, he's drawn to witch magic and spells—and he's good at them, even though the only training he gets is through spying on the girls' lessons.

    When something begins kidnapping and corrupting the boys of the family, Aster knows he has to do something, but the only power he has is through his forbidden magic. With the help of a non-magical friend, Aster takes a chance, and, in his success, challenges everything his family knows about magic.

    Adult readers may recognize Ostertag's excellent line work from Strong Female Protagonist, a web comic she and Brennan Lee Mulligan have been posting since 2012. Like that superhero comic, The Witch Boy delves into issues of identity, of right and wrong, and of questioning authority, but all on a level appropriate for the middle graders who are its intended audience.

    For readers like me who love both adult fiction and books for younger readers, The Witch Boy hits a sweet spot of feeling not only like the kid of story I'd have loved to read as a kid, but also the kind of story I enjoy reading now.

    — Alana Joli Abbott

    Buy The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag

    Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

    What will our future look like? It's a big question, one that io9 co-founder and the current Tech Culture Editor at Ars Technica thinks a lot about. Her book non-fiction book Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction, imagines how humanity might survive in the event of a mass extinction event, and is infused with the kind of optimism that tend not to be part of these conversations.

    Listen to our conversation with Annalee Newitz from New York Comic Con!

    Autonomous, Newitz's first novel, strikes a similar tone between critical reality and hopeful progression. It was one of my most vital reads in a year in which it arguably became increasingly impossible to ignore the stark inequalities and injustices of the world. 

    We need clear-eyed honesty, but we need hope, too—and there's heaps of both to be found in Newitz's story of Jack, drug pirate trying to expose a dangerous worker drug before it kills again, and Paladin, the military-grade robot hunting Jack down while he struggles with his own identity.

    Read our full review of Autonomous by Annalee Newitz.

    "Now we know there has been no one, great disaster—only the slow-motion disaster of capitalism converting every living thing and idea into property," one of the characters writes in Autonomous. This book is science fiction catharsis for our confusing times, and a brilliant debut from one of the internet's most empathetic scientific minds.

    Buy Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

    Bookburners Season 3 by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty, Brian Francis Slattery, Andrea Phillips, and Amal El-Mohtar

    It should come as no surprise to anyone who has read my list of best web serials that one of my top picks of 2018 is Bookburners: Season 3. Not only does the writing staff include some of my favorite authors, but the story has been an ongoing thrill ride since the first season launched in 2015.

    The basic premise? A small team of operatives working for the Vatican keep the human world safe from demons, who often hide in books. In the three "seasons" of the Serial Box web series, that premise has grown to expand far beyond that, with Season 3 really changing the entire playing field for the core group of characters—and the world.

    Stories about the weird boundaries between the human and magic worlds are always enticing to me, and Bookburners manages to also include a lot of the ethical discussion that drives a sense of reality into the supremely weird: if magic is leaking into the world and the old ways to prevent it aren't working, what are the means by which humans should deal with magic? Where does the boundary lie between good and evil, and where's the wiggle room in the middle?

    All of the main characters—Sal Brooks, former NYPD detective and logical mind of the team; Grace, an accidentally immortal super-warrior whose life is tied to a candle; Liam, whose dabbling in tech magic led him to lose years of his life; Father Menchu, the soul of the team, whose own past with angels and demons makes him reluctant to trust some stories to his friends; Asanti, an archivist whose dabbling with magic might be either the hope or the doom or the world; and Perry, Sal's brother, who, in order to be saved from demons, has to share his soul with an angel—have grown, and their relationships have shifted and developed over the last three years, such that every new episode feels like catching up on friends whose lives and work I care about.

    The world building that has taken place is phenomenal. Beginning within the limits of the understanding of the team, the story has allowed readers to acknowledge just how small that original viewpoint was in understanding the scope of the world. That growth in season three has completely changed the stakes and, like many great TV season finales, ends on a cliffhanger keeping readers eager for Season 4.

    As ongoing serial fiction that reads like watching an action television show, Bookburners is not to be missed.

    — Alana Joli Abbott

    Read Bookburners Season 3 via Serial Box

    Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

    One of the founding writers of the New Weird genre, Jeff VanderMeer has firmly established himself as a writer of goopy, decaying bio-horror and eerie worlds like the one in his best-known work, Annihilation. I was looking forward to more with Borne’s release this spring. There are plenty of monsters here, plenty of that distant, carefully calibrated tone that makes the characters seem a step removed from their world like a transparent overlay on a piece of paper.

    But there is also a story about an astonishingly convincing romantic relationship between Rachel and Wick, an established couple torn apart by Rachel’s adoption of the creature called Borne.

    The nuance, care, and lack of sentimentality with which the relationship was treated made it feel like it had stakes as high as the life-or-death monster attacks, and I could see some experiences from my own family reflect in the prickly negotiation of how people need to learn to love or to leave one another, or in how secrets can make a relationship more intimate or more brittle or both. Rachel and Wick have to learn what exactly to reveal to one another and whether their secrets draw them closer together or farther apart. At their best, VanderMeer’s novels feel like cryptic messages that become clearer as you draw close. Borne was a comforting, sometimes disgusting, beautiful message.

    — Megan Crouse

    Buy Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

    A Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

    A queer historical fiction that is as romantic as it is delightfully adventurous, A Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is the young adult book that keeps on giving.

    Set in Georgian-era Europe, Gentleman's Guide follows Henry "Monty" Montague, a privileged 18-year-old nobleman. When this novel starts, Monty is as hilarious as he is self-involved. When he sets off on a Grand Tour of the continent with his best friend Percy (who he happens to be in love with), the series of misadventures and miscommunications that follow force Monty to confront his privilege.

    Monty may be the point-of-view protagonist here, but he is far from the only character we get to know. We also have Percy, Monty's long-suffering bi-racial best friend who is hiding a secret of his own, and Felicity, Monty's sister who is much more interested in studying medicine than acting as a "lady" should.

    The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is one of those light, escapist adventures that transports you to another world for a time, while also challenging the mainstream notion of what history looked like—mainly, that it was predominantly white, male, and straight. This book's has immense empathy for its privileged male protagonist, who is not without his trauma, while also constantly challenging him to do better and recognize the power he does hold.

    — Kayti Burt

    Buy The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

    Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

    Sleeping Beauties is the perfect Stephen King story for the Donald Trump era. In this nightmarish tale, every woman in the world falls asleep and forms a strange diaphanous cocoon around their slumbering bodies. If the cocoon is removed, the women awake in a murderous rage.

    Only a strange woman named Evie with unexpected origins and powers holds the secret to waking the sleeping beauties. Sleeping Beauties is not anti-male in any way, but it is pro-woman and that is so important in today's political climate. The Kings offer multiple points of view on the female experience in America as the bulk of the tale is set in a women’s prison.

    Like most long form King stories, Sleeping Beauties features an extended cast of fully realized characters that all must navigate their way through the unthinkable. Watching Stephen King compose a tale side by side with his son Owen King was fasinating as the younger King allows for a different voice and methodology than the elder King's constant readers might be used to.

    Most of all, this book offers some truly memorable and multi-faceted female protagonists as it explores some troubling modern societal gender conflicts in a genre setting that is as chilling as it is unforgettable.

    — Marc Buxton

    Buy Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

    Who Let the Gods Out? by Maz Evans

    One of 2017’s greatest films (adapted from one of 2011’s greatest books) is A Monster Calls, the story of a young boy who encounters the supernatural while struggling to cope with a seriously ill mum. Who Let The Gods Out? takes a much more comedic approach to a similar premise...

    It's the story of Eliot, his unpredictable mother, their snobby neighbour, a bullying History teacher, a crash-landed star and a whole host of Greek gods. It’s witty, satirical, a tiny bit frightening and a terrific read. Best of all, it’s the start of a new series, with book two Simply The Quest, already published.

    — Louisa Mellor

    Buy Who Let the Gods Out? by Maz Evans

    Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobbs

    Robin Hobb’s long-running series about FitzCivalry Farseer came to an end this year—an end, not the end, as Hobb has not ruled out writing more books set in the Realm of the Elderlings and following some of the same characters.

    For now, however, Assassin's Fate is the end of the story begun all the way back in Assassin's Apprentice in 1995. It's been a long and emotional journey, and while the conclusion to such a long saga will never entirely please everybody, Hobb did a pretty good job of making most fans mostly happy. It was the ending she had always envisaged, it was the ending that was right for her characters, and the story was as exciting, compelling and heart-breaking as all the rest of her books in this series.

    We wouldn't recommend starting with this book, but if you've read any of Hobb's previous works set in the Realm of the Elderlings, you'll find something to enjoy in this story. For long-time fans, it's a must-read.

    — Juliette Harrisson

    Buy Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb

    What were your favorite books of 2017? Let us know in the comments below! And come continue the conversation with us in the Den of Geek Book Club.

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    BABY DARKSEID...NO MORE in this exclusive preview from DC Comics

    PreviewJim Dandy
    Dec 22, 2017

    This is a DISASTER.

    Baby Darkseid was the narrative equivalent of the Miracle Machine. You could do anything with him. Baby-shaped tyrant working to enslave the universe? Great! Theological conflict started over a gray toddler who just pooped himself? YES. Child version of the destroyer growing up to struggle against his inherent nature and try heroism for a change? That's basically the plot to Uncanny X-Force. James Robinson, Carlo Pagulayan and Stephen Segovia are foreclosing on that narrative cornucopia, though, in the pages of Wonder Woman

    In all seriousness, what we're seeing from this arc of Wonder Woman is a good thing. Conflict between the varying pantheons is a rich vein to mine in superhero comics - it lets the creators examine the mythological underpinnings of the characters and build a deep world around our heroes, tapping into some of what makes them so cool to follow. This is the kind of conflict that made Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente's Incredible Hercules such a lovely surprise when it came out, and part of what makes Diana so interesting in her best stories. And a re-aged Darkseid fighting Zeus, thanks to Pagulayan and Segovia, looks great. So of course we were excited to get our hands on an exclusive first look at Wonder Woman #37.

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

    WONDER WOMAN #37 Written by JAMES ROBINSONArt by CARLO PAGULAYAN, STEPHEN SEGOVIA and JASON PAZCover by BRYAN HITCHVariant cover by JENNY FRISON“CHILDREN OF THE GODS” part five! As a fevered battle with Darkseid rages between Wonder Woman and the dark god, the Amazon warrior must choose between saving the lives that hang in the balance and ending the threat before her forever.

    Take a look at these preview pages!

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    Laura Dern's Vice Admiral Holdo was a key part of Leia's past - and so was Crait. What does this tell us about Star Wars: The Last Jedi?

    Feature Megan Crouse
    Dec 16, 2017

    Princess Leia’s story seems to be at the core of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. There's no doubt that Carrie Fisher’s legacy will live on despite her sudden passing in late 2016, and the experience of watching The Last Jedi will surely be touched by the fact that this is her last Star Wars film. With Han Solo dead and their son at the head of the First Order, Leia's role in Episode VIII seems pivotal. 

    Some fans believe that what appears to be a confrontation with Kylo Ren, in which he faces his mother from the cockpit of an attacking TIE Fighter, is stitched together from different parts of the film and does not indicate a mother versus son space battle at all. Whether or not the scene plays out exactly as presented in the trailer, we know that Leia will continue in her role as a leader in the Resistance and mentor and commanding officer to Poe Dameron, Finn, Rose, and Paige Tico. She also may or may not be set up for a reunion with her brother, Luke Skywalker, whose life on Ach-To has been dramatically interrupted by the arrival of Rey, who wants to convince the Jedi Master to return to the fight against the First Order. 

    In an interview with Vanity Fair, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said that Episode IX would have been Carrie's movie (as Han Solo and Luke Skywalker are the centerpieces of the first two installments of the Sequel Trilogy). Former Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow also confirmed that Leia would have had a part in the story of the movie. That will no longer be the case. A digital reconstruction of her likeness was used in Rogue One, and Lucasfilm considered piecing together previously filmed scenes to posthumously add Leia into Episode IX. However, it was later confirmed that she will not be replaced with a digital double, and that her role in Episode IXtherefore would need to be written out.

    Luckily for her fans, Fisher completed her scenes for The Last Jedi. We've not seen much of what those scenes look like and there's no indication of how Johnson has constructed her exit from the franchise. A Nov. 14 TV spot called “Darkness Rises” shows Leia in her role as Resistance leader, granting Poe permission to “jump in an X-Wing and blow something up." Another bit of footage shows her on what looks like the surface of Crait, a mournful look in her eye. 

    Mark Hamill has also said that The Last Jedi will answer a question posed in The Force Awakens: Why didn’t Luke react to Leia while she was fighting with the Resistance during his exile? Perhaps, if the twins reunite one last time, we'll get that answer.

    Until then, there are still tons of Leia adventures to be had in the Expanded Universe. Like the books in the Journey to The Force Awakens series, Journey to The Last Jedi give some hints at what's in store in the new movie. The lone young adult book in the tie-in line, Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray, explains how Leia joined the Rebellion and shows how her parents' work with the resistance group - as well as her diplomatic training, first romance, and first sacrifices - shaped her to become the leader we know her as today.

    Most importantly, he book features the first appearance of the planet Crait and Leia’s friend, Amilyn Holdo, both of which will appear in Episode VIII. Here's what Leia: Princess of Alderaan reveals about The Last Jedi...

    Amilyn Holdo

    Vice Admiral Holdo, portrayed by Laura Dern on screen, met Leia for the first time at an outdoor survival class she took as part of her diplomatic training when they were teenagers. Leia considers her odd at first, because Holdo is easily distracted and constantly daydreams. Holdo acts flippant toward danger while expressing her excitement (“…if we stumble into a crevasse!”) but is also observant and kind towards her fellow students.

    As Leia gets to know Amilyn better, she learns that Amilyn’s home planet of Gatalenta is a peaceful world where people practice acrobatic meditations and often wear drab-colored clothing. Amilyn's own joyousness is a rebellion against her traditional culture. During their time together, Amilyn helps Leia understand the variety of different traditions in the galaxy, and Leia helps Amilyn become more comfortable with herself. Although she seems to still be wearing colorful clothes by the time of The Last Jedi, Leia notices that the teenage Amilyn begins to wear more muted colors as she finds a balance between her own personality and the traditions of her homeworld.

    By the time of The Last Jedi, Holdo has become a vice admiral in the Resistance and clashes with Poe Dameron over how to lead the fight. “She enters the Resistance to shake things up,” Laura Dern told EW.

    Oscar Isaac had said that Poe “doesn’t want to just wait and let things happen” and “doesn’t necessarily agree with the way Holdo sees the role of the Resistance in this particular moment.”

    Does this mean that Holdo urges Poe to hold back? Maybe so. Her laissez-faire approach in Leia: Princess of Alderaan might certainly be at odds with Poe’s more aggressive desire to blow things up. It wouldn't be out of character for Poe to disapprove of his superior officers, either. Poe has gone against the wishes of the larger Resistance before, such as when he and Leia coordinated a secret mission against a First Order collaborator in the middle grade book Before the Awakening. With both Poe and Amilyn having such strong personalities, it might take a lot to get them to see eye-to-eye in The Last Jedi.


    With its dramatic white sand, red dirt, and sparkling vulptices, the appearance of the planet Crait in the trailers for The Last Jedi helped stir up excitement for the film. In Princess of Alderaan Leia first spots Crait in some old space traffic data at the Empire's Calderos Station, the site of an Rebel attack. When Leia visits Crait, she notes “salt several centimeters thick” — the same terrain will Resistance ski speeders will cut through in The Last Jedi decades later.

    Leia has a bad feeing about the planet’s eerie wind and blood-red coloration, but Crait turns out to be the location of a small base for her allies in the Rebellion, and specifically for her father, Bail Organa. It’s here where she learns that her father is part of the Rebellion and that he's been hiding his activities from her in order to keep her safe.

    Leia realizes that, even if her parents want to keep her safe by concealing their work, her own investigations have already gotten her involved in the Rebellion. In this way, Crait could be seen as the birthplace of Leia’s military career.

    The Rebel base there is a small one, but it’s likely that this is how Leia knew to return to Crait when she needed to establish a new Resistance base in The Last Jedi. The planet would be out of the way enough for its significance not to be apparent to the First Order. Of course, we know from the trailers that the First Order eventually catches up with the Resistance on Crait...

    Crait will also feature in The Last Jedi: The Storms of Crait,  a single-issue comic coming out on Dec. 27. The comic will bring both Leia and Luke to the planet and might explain more about how the Resistane set up their base of operations there. 

    These two new additions, Crait and Amilyn Holdo, might be tied together in The Last Jedi. Could Leia’s work on the base on Crait be the reason Vice Admiral Holdo is in charge of the fleet when Poe confronts her? Maybe Leia is occupied during the ground battle while Poe and Holdo argue in the fleet.

    As the second act in the Sequel Trilogy, The Last Jedi is likely to include at least some defeat for the Resistance, digging them into a predicament from which they will have to escape before the (presumalby) triumphant end of Episode IX. Could Crait be The Last Jedi's Hoth - the site of a defeat? 

    Revisiting Leia: Princess of Alderaan after seeing Episode VIII should be interesting, and fans who become interested in Holdo through the movie will certainly find more about her here.

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    Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD rewinds to reveal what Fitz has been up to.

    This Agents of SHIELD review contains spoilers.

    Agents of SHIELD Season 5 Episode 5

    When Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD premiered for its fifth season, you could hear fandom crying, “Hey, were is Fitz?!” After all, all of the agents, including Fitz’s beloved Simmons, were shunted into the far future to face down a dystopian Kree nightmare. But Fitz’s absence was obvious and palpable and you just knew there was going to be one hell of an explanation to exactly where Fitz was while his friends struggled to survive against Kree slave masters and a creepy blue chick with deadly balls.

    Well, this week’s episode answers those questions as Agents of SHIELD mines its now rich history to deliver an absolutely killer episode that answers all our Fitz related questions. The episode entitled “Rewind” does just that as we are taken back to that fateful moment where the agents are abducted from the diner.

    There, we learn more about that strange bald dude that keeps spare sets of skin lying around. Remember him? Yeah, not only does that guy have some altruistic motives, he also has some importance to Marvel Comics history. We’ll get to that in a moment.

    As for Fitz, if you’ll remember, Fitz and the other agents were wanted because an LMD of Daisy shot General Talbot in the head. Right before they went to the diner on that fateful day, Coulson and company knew they would soon be arrested. Of course, they couldn’t have known that they would be abducted and sent to the future by a third party.

    All but Fitz that is. Fitz is not taken by that bald guy or his crew, but he is arrested by the US government for the shooting of Talbot and the murder of Jeff Mace. Remember, Fitz killed Mace in the Framework, and the brilliant scientist is not over the guilt of his evil turn in that artificial reality.

    But in this reality, Fitz is obsessed with finding Simmons and the rest of his friends. Let’s take a moment to doff our caps to Agents of SHIELD. It seems that every season, there is a central storyline of Fitz and Simmons being separated. So far, they have been separated by HYDRA, by light years of space, and by Fitz’s severe head injury.

    Now, they are separated by time, but even though the series continuously travels down this road, it hasn’t gotten old yet. This speaks to the absolute compelling nature of the love between Fitz and Simmons. No matter what, their love endures. It’s all very Amy and Rory Pond- even the accents are right, but you have to be impressed that the series keeps this well-traveled story road smooth and never dull

    Anyway, while in prison, Fitz works on finding his friends. He also sends out a message to an old friend via letters to a British football magazine. That old friend happens to be Agent Hunter who makes his triumphant return this week to bust Fitz out of prison and helps him find the missing agents. I would totally watch a weekly Hunter and Fitz buddy comedy every week because those two are a hoot and a half.

    Together, they track the van that was used to abduct Fitz’s SHIELD pals and discovers that the aforementioned bald dude was a centuries old Recorder sent by an alien race to observe humanity. You have to believe that this is the Lee and Kirby created Recorder, a character introduced in the late Silver Age in the pages of Thor (we’ll get to him in our Marvel Moments).

    On the run, Hunter, Fitz, and the Recorder find another old friend, the little Inhuman girl named Robin from a few seasons back. If you remember, Robin’s father had the Inhuman power to see the moment of a person’s death. Daisy saved Robin, but we never learn what her powers were. This week, we discover that Robin is a precog and knows that Daisy will destroy the Earth. With Robin’s help, Fitz is able to bust back into the same military instillation he bused out of earlier in the episode and put himself in a cryogenic freeze. So now you know how Fitz shows up on the future and man, was it a fun journey to get there.

    It is also so good to see Hunter again. Since ABC passed on picking up Marvel’s Most Wanted, the series that was supposed to star Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter, Hunter’s absence (not to mention Bobbi’s) has been an unscratched Marvel itch for well over a year now. Of course, Adrianne Palicki has been killing it on The Orville, but we haven’t had our Nick Blood fix in a long time.

    We do get an update on Bobbi and Hunter’s on again off again relationship, and it seems like it is mostly on (or maybe not, like all things involving the love between Hunter and Morse, it’s all kind of confusing). Plus, Agents of SHIELD finds a purpose for Hunter and Morse again as Hunter agrees to help guard Robin after Fitz goes into his cryo-freeze. I’m guessing we won’t see Bobbi and Hunter anytime soon, but it’s nice to know they are still fighting the good fight in the MCU.

    But we are left with tons of questions when Fitz wakes up to the future (with all of his friends’ signature weapons). Fitz is with the Recorder in the future, but what is his plan to get his friends back home? Why did the Recorder send the agents to that particular time and if the agents do return home, how will they prevent Daisy from becoming the Destroyer of Worlds?

    We have all these answers to look forward to in the New Year as this week’s Agents of SHIELD closes out 2017 for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We saw Spider-Man’s Homecoming, the return of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Ragnarok unleashed, the coming of Iron Fist and the Defenders along with Frank Castle kicking some major ass, and lots of Inhumans wandering around Hawaii. There were ups and downs, but with Fitz’s tale finally told, we end Marvel’s 2017 on a very high note.

    Marvel Moments

    The first Recorder first appeared in Thor #132 (1966) and was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. The Recorders are a series of androids built by an alien race known as the Rigellians. The Recorder are built to record (duh) important events in the galaxy for their Rigellian masters to analyze. The first Recorder was sent with Thor when the God of Thunder first explored another dimension known as the Black Galaxy and when the Recorder was to have its memory wiped, Thor convinced the aliens that the android was not sentient and should be left alone.  With the spacefaring action of Thor Ragnarok and the introduction of the Recorder, it seems like the MCU is getting tons of mileage of Thor’s late Silver Age cosmic adventures. Which is a very good thing because those cosmic Kirby joints are some of the most trippy and imaginative books of the 1960s.

    ReviewMarc Buxton
    Dec 23, 2017

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    The Meg will see Jason Statham battle a 75-foot shark. Here's everything to know.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Dec 26, 2017

    Cinema’s favorite follicly-challenged, cockney ass-kicker Jason Statham will be taking on his biggest challenge to date in the form of a giant, prehistoric throwback of a shark in 2018’s TheMeg. The film, a long-gestating adaptation of Steve Alten’s popular novel series, centers on a former Navy diver who's nursing an old vendetta against a 75-foot, 70,000 lb. Cretaceous-era shark called the Carcharadon Megalodon (or "Meg"). His current objective involves a dangerous deep-sea rescue miles down the Mariana Trench.

    For action film veteran Jason Statham, who normally handles business in stylized hand-to-hand combat, brandishing the occasional firearm, this effort represents a major departure, as he tackles a colossal, carnivorous killer in depths of darkness. Here’s everything current about The Meg!

    The Meg News

    It's been a while since we’ve had any substantive updates about The Meg. Consequently, the release of its latest image – a low-res preview of a photo set for the upcoming issue of Empire– will have to suffice, since it provides the very first tease of the film’s terrifying titular shark.

    Based on what little we have to work with here, Jason Statham’s Jonas Taylor appears to be in an underwater station, standing behind the dubious safety of glass, as the sizable, scarred, teeth-teeming countenance of the Meg itself seems to be headed straight for him in a crashing collision course. Indeed, the creature looks ready to recreate the most notorious scene from 1983’s Jaws 3-D, hopefully inciting its intended awe, rather than raucous laughter.

    The Meg Release Date:

    TheMeg will arrive to terrorize the cinematic seas on August 10, 2018. The film will be released in 3D and IMAX formats under the auspices of Warner Bros.

    The film was previously booked to hit theaters on March 2, 2018.

    The Meg Cast:

    Jason Statham (The Transporter, The Expendables) plays protagonist Jonas Taylor, a deep sea diving expert with an impressive military background, who is recruited for a risky rescue mission, pitted against the titular, towering prehistoric shark.

    Li Bingbing (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Resident Evil: Retribution), the cross-continental Chinese star plays Suyin, a reluctant cohort of Jonas's and the daughter of his mission's benefactor.

    Jessica McNamee (CHiPs, Sirens) will play a major character named Celeste.

    Ruby Rose (John Wick: Chapter 2), Rainn Wilson (The Office), Robert Taylor (Longmire), Masi Oka (Heroes), Cliff Curtis (Fear the Walking Dead), Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (Emerald City), Page Kennedy (Weeds) and Winston Chao (Skiptrace) also fill the cast.

    The above official image of Statham and Bingbing on the set first arrived in October 2016.

    The Meg Story:

    Per the official synopsis:

    A deep-sea submersible—part of an international undersea observation program—has been attacked by a massive creature, previously thought to be extinct, and now lies disabled at the bottom of the deepest trench in the Pacific…with its crew trapped inside. With time running out, expert deep sea rescue diver Jonas Taylor (Statham) is recruited by a visionary Chinese oceanographer (Winston Chao), against the wishes of his daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing), to save the crew—and the ocean itself—from this unstoppable threat: a pre-historic 75-foot-long shark known as the Megalodon. What no one could have imagined is that, years before, Taylor had encountered this same terrifying creature. Now, teamed with Suyin, he must confront his fears and risk his own life to save everyone trapped below…bringing him face to face once more with the greatest and largest predator of all time.

    The Meg Director:

    In the director’s chair for TheMeg is Jon Turteltaub, a helmer who reaped a successful action/suspense track record behind the camera for the two National Treasure films (with a third in the works). Nostalgic 90’s kids may also appreciate his work directing the original 3 Ninjas and Cool Runnings.

    Turteltaub works off a screenplay by James Vanderbilt; a revision of an adaptation of Steve Alten’s novel drafted by Belle Avery, Dean Georgaris, Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber. Vanderbilt comes into the project having written films such as Independence Day: Resurgence, Solace, The Amazing Spider-Man (and its sequel), White House Down, The Losers, Zodiac and The Rundown.

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    We're giving away a hardcover copy of the current Den of Geek Book Club read...

    The RestKayti Burt
    Dec 29, 2017

    Den of Geek has started a book club, and this month's pick is the historical fantasy series The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty.

    The City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty's debut novel, is the start of a rich, imaginative new historical fantasy series. Set in the 18th-century Middle East, The City of Brass follows Nahri, a young woman living in Cairo who gets pulled into a magical world of djinn, and Ali, a young prince living in the djinn city of Daevabad.

    Read our full review of The City of Brass here.

    We're giving away one copy of City of Brass to one book club member.

    Entry is simple!

    - Join the Den of Geek Book Club over on Goodreads (if you haven't already).

    - Let us know what your favorite stories featuring djinns are in our Goodreads discussion thread.

    Final entries will be accepted Friday, January 5th! For shipping purposes, the winner must be from the United States. One (1) winner will be drawn at random and contacted via Goodreads message. Good luck!

    Or, if you just can't wait until the end of our giveaway to read The City of Brass, you can buy it here.

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    Archie's long-forgotten 1970s horror book lives again thanks to a new collection.

    NewsChris Cummins
    Dec 29, 2017

    With Riverdale being a hit and production on a Chilling Adventures of Sabrina sister series (based on the Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa/Robert Hack comic of the same name) underway, Archie Comics will illustrate to new fans that their current TV lineup isn't the first time the company has gotten weird.

    Not by a long shot.

    You see, back in the 1970s several Archie titles dealt with action-based stories that deviated from the typical Archie-Betty-Veronica love triangle or Jughead's pursuit of hamburgers. Thus, intrepid readers perusing the latest issue of Life with Archie or Archie at Riverdale High would suddenly find themselves reading stories in which, say, an evil teddy bear hypnotizes Betty Cooper into walking off a cliff or the gang encounters a stranger who can make multiple copies of himself to wreak dating havoc throughout the town. These stories were incredibly strange, and that's not even getting into the weirdness that was Al Hartley's use of Archie characters in comics created entirely for Christian bookstores.

    Seeing how Riverdale keeps ramping up the weirdness, not the mention the success that Archie has had with their horror titles, it makes sense that at this moment in time Chilling Adventures in Sorcerywould resurface in the form of a new trade paperback that hits stores next Wednesday.

    Debuting in 1972, the comic was a Tales from the Crypt-esque horror anthology that featured stories introduced by Sabrina. These tales were darker than the typical Archie yarn and therefore very much in line with the experimentation that the publisher was trying out, one that was a perfect fit for the tumultous era against which they were created. After the first two issues, which featured work from Archie veterans like Dan DeCarlo and Stan Goldberg, the Sabrina was jettisoned from the title -- which was now released by the company's Red Circle imprint. Free from the shackles of association with its more family-friendly companion comics, this new Chilling Adventures in Sorcery ramped up the spooky strangeness thanks largely to the involvement of horror great Gray Morrow. Although a truly great book, it never quite caught on and sputtered along for a few more issues before receding into obscurity/comic shop discount bins.

    No longer.

    The new 192-page trade Chilling Adventures in Sorcery compiles the best stories from the comic's original run, complete with an original cover from Afterlife with Archie's Francesco Francavilla. (The title's legacy lives on in Archie's current Sabrina title, as well as its upcoming TV series). We've got your exclusive first look at the book, check it out:

    The black-and-white trade will retail for $19.99, which is a small price to pay to own an odd and suitably scary piece of comic history. As Den of Geek's resident Archie obsessive, I personally hope this book is such a success that the publisher opens its vaults for more of these type of weirdo books. Anyone else up for a Marvelous Maureen or Glen Scarpelli in Hollywood compilation?

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    Hanna-Barbera's pink mountain cat gets an inspired solo comic that reflects society's ugliness back at itself

    Doomsday Clock is currently garnering much attention for its audaciousness, but honestly, it's another DC revival of an established property that truly has the cojones to attempt to take the comic medium in a bold new direction. And, heavens to Murgatroyd, it's Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles.

    No. For real.

    Like it's headline grabbing compatriot, this comic takes an established work -- in this case a cartoon about a buffoonish and cowardly mountain cat from Saturday mornings long gone -- and boldly plays with audience expectations about what this new story will be.. Whether or not Doomsday Clocktarnishes the legacy of Moore and Gibbons' masterwork remains to be seen, but clearly Snagglepuss isn't Watchmen. This frees writer Mark Russell (whose work on The Flintstones was a yabba dabba doo time that was also quite woke) and artist Mike Feehan to empty the litterbox on the character and start fresh by turning tired schoolyard musings about Snagglepuss' sexuality into what is already a contender for 2018's most tragically human comic book.

    As the comic opens, Snagglepuss is a sucessful playwright living in 1953 New York City. With his beautiful wife, actress Lila Lion, on his arm he is the toast of the town. The only problem is that it's all a facade. Despite being dressed to the nines the mountain cat has no clothes. It is quickly revealed that his marriage is an arranged scam of convenience, and Mr. Puss is more at home at Village haunts like the Stonewall Bar. There he can truly be himself, remove his mask and find comfort in the waiting arms of his Cuban boyfriend, Pablo.

    But even with this respite, the wolves are at the door: The Communist witchhunt of the House Un-American Activities Committee is well underway. The Rosenbergs have been executed. The American dream is just as much of a dark fable as the Tennessee Williams-esque play written by Snagglepuss that readers see in action. (One that comes complete with ennui-heavy dialogue like "desperate men turn hopes into wagers and dreams into lies," so there's more than just a little bit of Sam Shepard in Snaggle's work too).

    An interesting creative choice is how Russell weaves real-life figures such as playwright Lillian Hellman and a bon mot-vomiting Dorothy Parker -- man there really is a great Snagglepuss Chronicles/Watchmen thesis out there waiting to be written -- into the action. This helps ground the story in a heightened reality that allows the characters to dole out knowingly meta dialogue about how the paranoia and dark political climate of the era that serves as an ugly reflection of our own governmental hellscape. At one point, Pablo cautions Snagglepuss by declaring that "Every nation is a monster in the making. And monsters will come for you whether you believe in them or not." The fact that this exchange is handled in a subtle fashion, well as subtle as anything can be in a bold reinvention of a third-tier cartoon icon like Snagglepuss, is a cheer-worthy accomplishment.

    Huckleberry Hound makes a too-brief appearance in the story's back third, hopefully future issues will feature more of him and other characters from Hanna-Barbera's roster as it would be fascinating to see them incorporated into Snagglepuss' brave new comic world.

    As the issue wraps up, societal and social pressures tightening around Snagglepuss' neck. It's unclear exactly where Russell will take this bold story from here, but if history dictates one truth for Snagglepuss it's this: It will be a long time before things get better. To see the enduring strength of his character play out in the issues ahead should give us all something much needed in these times -- a character to cheer for whose humanity is greater than that of most.

    ReviewChris Cummins
    Dec 29, 2017

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    The sequel will be set 20 years following the original film with Emily Blunt in the title role as the magical nanny.

    News Kayti Burt
    Dec 31, 2017

    Mary Poppins Returns is being directed by Rob Marshall, who worked with Blunt and Streep formerly on movie musical Into the Woods. The screenplay is coming from David Magee who wrote the screenplay for Finding Neverland, another film featuring a children's book classic character. 

    "This is an extension," he added. "I’m a huge fan of the original, and I’m a very good friend of Julie Andrews, and I hold it in such awe."

    In conversation with Vulture, Marshall said that "it is not a new Mary Poppins," and that "[author] P L Travers wrote eight books altogether. They worked from the first book, and we are working from the other books, not touching the iconic brilliance of Mary Poppins."

    "This is an extension," he added. "I’m a huge fan of the original, and I’m a very good friend of Julie Andrews, and I hold it in such awe."

    Here's the first photo of Emily Blunt in her costume for Mary Poppins Returns:

    We also have a new photo of Blunt's Poppins alongside the Banks children and Lin-Manuel Miranda's lamplighter Jack, courtesy of USA Today...

    Mary Poppins Returns Release Date

    Mary Poppins Returns is slated to hit theaters on Christmas Day, December 25, 2018.

    Mary Poppins Returns Story

    The story will pick up 20 years following the events of the 1964 film during Depression-era London, drawing from author P.L. Travers' later adventures with the Banks family. Michael Banks is all grown up and has brats of his own. He calls in his big sister Jane to keep them in line. She hooks up with nanny-cam ready Mary Poppins. Mary Poppins Returns takes its characters from the Mary Poppins books, but will be a sequel, not an adaptation.

    Here's the official synopsis:

    The film is set in 1930s depression-era London (the time period of the original novels) and is drawn from the wealth of material in PL Travers’ additional seven books. In the story, Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane (Emily Mortimer) are now grown up, with Michael, his three children and their housekeeper, Ellen (Julie Walters), living on Cherry Tree Lane. After Michael suffers a personal loss, the enigmatic nanny Mary Poppins (Blunt) re-enters the lives of the Banks family, and, along with the optimistic street lamplighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), uses her unique magical skills to help the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives. Mary Poppins also introduces the children to a new assortment of colorful and whimsical characters, including her eccentric cousin, Topsy (Meryl Streep). 

    Mary Poppins Returns Cast

    Mary Poppins Returns is securing quite the cast. First, the news broke that Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, Into the Woods) will be playing the title role (after Den of Geek broke the news that she was the frontrunner for the role back in September), then the sequel secured Hamilton creator/star Lin-Manuel Miranda for the role of a "lamplighter" named Jack.

    Then, Varietyreported that Hamilton creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda is in talks for a role in the film. Miranda will play Jack, a "lamplighter" akin to Dick Van Dyke's Bert character in the original 1964 film. Hopefully, he puts on a terrible Cockney accent, as is tradition...

    Miranda is having quite a year. In addition to the massive success of Hamilton, he also wrote original music for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (yep, that was his toe-tapping original composition in the cantina scene). He's also composing music for Disney's upcoming animated family film Moana. Presumably, Miranda's involvement with the Mary Poppins sequel could include developing new songs for the film.

    Dick Van Dyke has confirmed that he will be in Mary Poppins Returns! The original Mary Poppins cast member, Van Dyke was speaking to The Hollywood Reporter for series about creatives over the age of 90 when he dropped the good news, saying about the film:

    This one supposedly takes place 20 years later and the kids are all grown up. It’s a great cast — Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury and that guy [Lin-Manuel Miranda] from Hamilton.

    Personally, I'm really glad that Van Dyke not only know about Hamilton, but it was maybe a selling point for him returning for Mary Poppins Returns, up there with Meryl Streep and Angela Lansbury. 

    Taking bets on whether Van Dyke will do the accent — or if he will return as chimney sweep Bert at all.

    Meryl Streep is also, reportedly, in talks to join the cast of Mary Poppins Returns as the famous nanny's cousin, Topsy.

    Ben Whishaw, who is perhaps best known for his role as Q in the most recent James Bond films (but who has impressed in a sloew of projects, from TV's The Hour and London Spy to film's Cloud Atlas and Paddington), will play a grown-up version of Michael Banks, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Michael Banks is apparently "a key figure" in the story, which picks up 20 years following the events of the 1964 film.

    When Banks experiences a person loss and sees the return of his big sister Jane, they team up with Mary Poppins and lamplighter friend Jack to help the family... and presumably to sing. Here's a snippet of Whishaw singing for The Tempest soundtrack...

    The "extension" of the Mary Poppins on-screen universe also nabbed Colin Firth. According to Variety, Firth is in negotations to play William Weatherall Wilkins, the president of Fidelity Fiduciary Bank. The Mary Poppins sequel might not be something that anyone particularly asked for, but it's hard to argue with the casting for the project thus far.

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    The Den of Geek Book Club is a place to geek out about our favorite science fiction, fantasy, and horror books.

    NewsKayti Burt
    Dec 18, 2017

    Hello, all!

    We have launched a Den of Geek Book Club as a place to recommend, discuss, and obsess over our favorite fantasy, science fiction, and horror books. Join us in discussing our latest pick...

    December/January Pick: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

    The City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty's debut novel, is the start of a rich, imaginative new historical fantasy series. Set in the 18th-century Middle East, The City of Brass follows Nahri, a young woman living in Cairo who gets pulled into a magical world of djinn, and Ali, a young prince living in the djinn city of Daevabad.

    Read our full review of The City of Brass.

    The dual perspective narrative follows both young people as they try to navigate a world of complex political and cultural allegiances where the interpersonal often clashes with the political in ways that threaten to tear them apart.

    Head over to our Den of Geek Book Club page to join in the discussion! And stay tuned for more The City of Brass content throughout the following month, including an interview with author S.A. Chakraborty.

    November/December Pick: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

    Our second book club pick was Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz, a science fiction story of robots, pirates, and identity in the year 2144.

    Autonomous is a gutting tale that follows robot Paladin and drug pirate Jack as they fight for identity, autonomy, love, and freedom in a world where people can be owned and big pharmaceutical companies have immense power. (There, um, may be some parallels to our own world...)

    Read our full review of Autonomous by Annalee Newitz.

    Want to take part in the discussion? Head over to the Den of Geek Book Club on Goodreads to see what kind of discussion happened around the book, and feel free to join in. Or listen to our podcast interview with Annalee Newitz.

    Buy Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

    October/November Pick: The Name of the Wind

    Our first Den of Geek Book Club book was The Name of the Wind, the first book in Patrick Rothfuss'Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy.

    I know, I know. This book came out a long time ago. However, it just celebrated its 10th anniversary, complete with a gorgeous 10th anniversary edition from DAW. It will soon be turned into a movie and TV show, with musical producer support from Kingkiller Chronicle superfan Lin-Manuel Miranda.

    Read our interview with the artists behind The Name of the Wind's 10th Anniversary Edition.

    In other words, whether this is your first time reading or your 15th, it's a great time to discuss this modern fantasy classic! Head over to our Goodreads Book Club page to see what kind of discussion happened around The Name of the Wind, and to add your own thoughts on this modern fantasy classic.

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  • 12/16/17--15:41: Batman #37 Exclusive Preview
  • Batman and Superman go on a double date in Batman #37. Here's an exclusive preview!

    News John Saavedra
    Dec 16, 2017

    Tom King's run on Batman has been a very different kind of animal than what we've seen before. For one thing, King is as interested in the Caped Crusader's domestic life as he is in his heroics. In fact, Bruce has fully accepted the domestic life in recent months. He's engaged to Selina Kyle and happier than he's been in years. (His son Damian ain't too crazy about his new mom, though!)

    While the Bat and the Cat's relationship has been the main focus of King's run of late, he's now turning his attention to Batman's friendship with Superman. In the latest arc, "Superfriends," the heroes' friendship is tested by the things that make them different. Are the Dark Knight and the Man of Tomorrow thinking about splitting up? We'll find out in Batman #37! 

    Here's the synopsis for the issue:

    “SUPERFRIENDS” part two! The stunning conclusion to the two-part story. Torn apart by betrayal, Batman and Superman try to find a way back to friendship, to trust. Both understand that the future of the DCU depends on this relationship; both understand that without the help of the other, their lives will fall apart. And yet, one is still the spoiled rich boy, and the other is still the naive farm boy. Men from two worlds confront each other and try to see the hope behind the madness. 

    You can check out the cover by Mikel Janin, a variant by Mann, and some preview pages below:

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    Before the cape and cowl, before the Joker, there was Bruce Wayne, a young man about to enter into adulthood and take on his parents legacy.

    ReviewBridget LaMonica
    Jan 2, 2018

    This Batman: Nightwalker review contains minor spoilers.

    Random House Books and DC Entertainment have partnered with established young adult authors to create the DC Icons books that highlight major players in the DC comics verse with their own YA novels.

    I previously reviewed  Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo. Next up, the Dark Knight himself in Batman: Nightwalker. This story filled a key missing piece to the Batman mythos, undertaken by author Marie Lu, known for her popular Legend series.

    In the Batman-verse we know Batman's origin, we see some of his younger years on the TV show Gotham, and we know that much later on he trains like hell and becomes the avenging caped crusader we know and love. This novel follows a Bruce who is just on the cusp of adulthood, graduating high school and planning for the future.

    Things may not be so straightforward when he finds himself in the middle of a case involving a secret organization stealing funds and murdering billionares. He becomes the only person able to get information out of one of their members, currently residing at Arkham Asylum—but the details she leaves out may be more important than what she's letting on.

    You're introduced to some classic Batman characters, including Alfred and Lucius Fox, as well as some new ones tailored for this story. If there is one noticeable addition to the story? Bruce has friends! This angle not only increases appeal for a YA audience (or readers of any age who care about interpersonal drama), but adds a little realism to the character we know and love.

    Bruce could have been (and often is depicted as) a dour teenager sulking in his mansion. Instead, he's adjusted and worked through enough of his trauma that he can have a somewhat normal adolescence—minus the obscene wealth. He still cares enough about his parents' murders and the well-being of his city, of course, and it's not hard to imagine him eventually molding into the hero we all expect him to become.

    Lu also introduces a new villain: Madeleine Wallace, an enigmatic character Bruce meets in Arkham Asylum while doing some community service. At first, she's aloof and mysterious, but, as she takes a liking to Bruce, she involves him intimately in the Nightwalker case, against everyone else's wishes.

    Madeleine is a great intellectual foe/ally for Bruce. She peppers their conversations with hints at the truth, giving him enough information to keep him coming back. You're never quite sure what's real and what's not, so it keeps you, the reader, constantly questioning what Madeleine says.

    What's also fascinating about Madeleine is her vast intelligence, and how that intelligence manifests. The way she analyzes body language, security systems, etc. makes you think Bruce might have been inspired by her deductive reasoning to become his own detective.

    There's a masterful blend of science and science fiction at play here. The book is written in a realistic present or near future where technology like robotic drones to assist police and portable frequency scramblers are believable technologies created by Wayne Tech. There's also a neat virtual reality element to Bruce's training regimen—a story concept that's not that far-fetched in this day and age.

    The book is written in a close third person perspective. Bruce, for the most part, is a relatable teenager, though he's definitely lived a more financially comfortable life than most and is set to take over Wayne Enterprises. This puts him in a precarious position, as the Nightwalkers target rich philanthropists and drain their accounts—sometimes resulting in murder. Bruce becomes interested in the case both through the enigmatic Madeleine and when the attacks strike people he knows personally.

    Through his nascent detective work, we see tantalizing hints of the person we know Bruce will become. His sense of justice is strong, but he's at odds with himself when Madeleine does not appear to be as evil as she's been made out to be. We discover, along with Bruce, those details that put the pieces of the real story together: why the Nightwalkers do what they do, who their leader and mission is, and whether Madeleine is an ally or a villain. 

    Batman Nightwalker is a young adult novel that doesn't need Batman to be good—but add all of those clever Batman references, and you've got a great story for any Dark Knight fan.

    Batman Nightwalker is now available for purchase. Stay tuned for our interview with author Marie Lu.

    The next books in the DC Icons series will be Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas and Superman by Matt de la Pena.

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    While the details for Goosebumps 2 aren't quite set in stone, the sequel now has a Halloween-near release date.

    News Chris LongoJoseph Baxter
    Jan 2, 2018

    Goosebumps 2 is arriving with more spooktacular cinematic goodness to reinvigorate the childhood memories of '90s kids and haunt a new generation. 

    The first Goosebumps, based on R.L. Stine's children's horror series of the same name, was one of the best family films of 2015, and was a box office winner for Sony after raking in $156 million.

    Goosebumps 2 Release Date

    Goosebumps 2 has been goose-bumped to the later release date of October 12.

    With this move, reported by Deadline, the sequel – previously booked for September 21 – will arrive conveniently closer to the genre-appropriate Halloween holiday.

    Interestingly enough, the date bump might just shed some light on the still-mysterious sequel status of star Jack Black. While reports from as recent as November implied that Black was not yet locked in to reprise his role as author R.L. Stine, the move away from the September 21 date seems to telegraph his return, since the actor will also appear in the September 21-scheduled gothic fantasy film, The House with a Clock in its Walls; a major production directed by gore auteur Eli Roth in which Black co-stars with Cate Blanchett and Kyle MacLachlan.

    Consequently, the moving of Goosebumps 2 away from that date to October 12 seems to imply that the studio is attempting to avoid awkward box office competition between two Jack Black films.

    Goosebumps 2 Details

    Goosebumps 2 has a new screenwriter, but it may be losing its star. According to Variety, Rob Lieber (whose credits include Disney's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) will pen the script for the Goosebumps sequel. His treatment, according to the trade, is believed to not involve Goosebumps star Jack Black.

    Back in May, it was reported that Goosebumps 2 was moving ahead with the title Goosebumps: Horrorland with a January 2018 release. At the time, it looked like Darren Lemke would reprise his screenwriting duties. Now that Lieber is tasked with penning the script, we’ll have to see if the title of the film changes, and what Black’s involvement is.

    Goosebumps 2 Cast

    The return of Jack Black, who starred as a fictionalized version of R.L. Stine, is still up in the air. Stars Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, and Ryan Lee are expected back for the sequel. Rob Letterman will return to direct.

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    These exclusive preview pages have just the right amount of Zsasz.

    PreviewJim Dandy
    Jan 2, 2018

    Tom King's Batman has been on fire lately. And by "lately," I mean "since issue 9." 

    If you want to quibble, 28 issues isn't really "lately" material, but that's about the point where King settled into writing Batman as a character, and got to really dig inside Bruce's head and world. Each story, from the big arcs like the War of Jokes and Riddles, to the quiet, intermediate one-offs like the Swamp Thing team up, has given us a clear view of what King sees in the character, and it's as good as any Batman story I've ever read. This trend has peaked in the last two issues, the Superfriends arc with Joelle Jones. The contrast of King's Batman and King's Superman is incredible, conveying the awe the audience has for each character through the relationships with their partners, and still managing to make it read like a couple of friends being kind of shitty to each other. The Lois/Catwoman instant friendship is one of my favorite Batman moments of all time, and it's not even the best part of the arc. 

    In this exclusive preview of issue #38, Travis Moore of Fables jumps in to help King poke around with character work on Batman's alter-ego. Here's what DC has to say about the issue:

    BATMAN #38Written by Tom KingArt by Travis MooreCover by Mikel JaninVariant Cover by Olivier Coipel"THE ORIGIN OF BRUCE WAYNE"! If Mattie could grow up to be anybody, he'd grow up millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. But what would happen if he was forced to relive the worst tragedy of Bruce's life and his parents were murdered? Batman's hunt for the killer puts him face to face with a strange mirror version of his own past.

    If Mattie is smart, he knows that the true path to becoming Bruce Wayne is by eating a fast food hamburger with a knife and fork he brought from home. Take a look at the preview pages.

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    The Shadowhunters will be back on Freeform for a third season. Here's everything we know about Shadowhunters Season 3...

    News Kayti Burt
    Jan 2, 2018

    Good news, Shadowhunters fans! The Freeform series has been renewed for a Season 3. It has an official release date and everything...

    Shadowhunters Season 3 Release Date

    Shadowhunters Season 3 will hit Freefrom on Tuesday, April 3 at 8 p.m. ET. The upcoming season will have 20 episodes.

    Shadowhunters Season 3 Trailer

    Shadowhunters debuted a trailer for Season 3 at NYCC, complete with some Jace/Clary action, Simon and the Seelie Queen, and Magnus adjusting to his new life. Check it out...

    Shadowhunters Season 3 Cast

    Arrow's Anna Hopkins will join the Shadowhunters Season 3 cast as Lilth. The role is recurring.

    Also joining the Shadowhunters team is Hamilton's Javier Muñoz. Muñoz will appear as one of Magnus' warlock rivals.

    Season 2 showrunners Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer will be staying on as showrunners for the third season, along with executive producers McG, Michael Reisz, Matt Hastings, Mary Viola, Martin Moszkowicz and Robert Kulzer.

    Though Shadowhunters has dipped somewhat in the ratings since its Season 1 premiere, it has one of the most passionate fanbases of any Freeform show (or TV show, really). More news as we hear it.


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    Dark Horse is releasing a following up to its Secret Loves of Geek Girls anthology, and we have a sneak peek!

    NewsKayti Burt
    Jan 3, 2018

    If you're looking for the perfect Valentine's Day gift for yourself and/or your nerdy loved ones, look no further than The Secret Loves of Geeks, an upcoming prose and comics anthology featuring stories around the subject of love, sex, and dating as a geek.

    The Secret Loves of Geeks is the follow-up to Dark Horse's The Secret Loves of Geek Girls. Both are edited by Hope Nicholson, and both include some pretty impressive names on their list of professional nerds cartoonists, and authors. This time around, for example, Margaret Atwood and Patrick Rothfuss lend their storytelling skills to the anthology.

    We have an exclusive preview for one of the stories in the anthology: "Harry Potter and the Awkward Coming Out Story." The story's writer is Amanda Deibert and the story's artist is Cat Staggs and, if the rest of the anthology is as charming as these three pages, then The Secret Loves of Geeks is sure to be something special...

    In addition to Atwood and Rothfuss, other contributors to the anthology include: Gerard Way (Umbrella Academy), Dana Simpson (Phoebe and Her Unicorn), Gabby Rivera (America), Hope Larson (Batgirl), Cecil Castellucci (Soupy Leaves Home), Valentine de Landro (Bitch Planet), Marley Zarcone (Shade), Sfé R. Monster (Beyond: A queer comics anthology), Amy Chu (Wonder Woman), and more. Becky Cloonan (The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys) illustrates the cover.

    The Secret Loves of Geeks is now available for pre-order, with a February 14th release date.

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