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    We have a handy reading guide to the most essential Marvel Star Wars comics for you!

    FeatureMegan Crouse
    Jan 3, 2018

    With Star Wars: The Last Jedi now in theaters, Star Wars fandom is as alive and well as it has ever been. For comic book readers looking for more of the galaxy far, far away, Marvel provides plenty of chances to get to know characters new and old.

    Marvel has published several excellent canon stories that add to both the Original Trilogy and flesh out what went on between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens and make the world of The Last Jedi even richer. Here are five series that serve as great starting points for fans who can’t get enough Star Wars. 

    Darth Vader Vol. 1

    Writer: Kieron Gillen Artist: Salvador Larroca

    One of Marvel’s flagship Star Wars series is, at its best, an in-depth exploration of Vader’s self-hatred and viciousness. The series introduces some wild new villains–including fan-favorite rogue Doctor Aphra–and explores how Vader feels about transforming from Anakin Skywalker into the Dark Lord of the Sith. The first volume of the series is now complete, so this is a good time to check out the dark side. And if you want more, there’s a second Darth Vader series by Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli that takes place in the early days of Vader’s reign of terror.


    Listen to the Star Wars Blaster Canon podcast:

    Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Soundcloud


    Read Darth Vader on Amazon

    Doctor Aphra

    Writer: Kieron Gillen Artist: Kev Walker

    Sketchy archaeologist Doctor Aphra has been described by writer Kieron Gillen as the inverse of Indiana Jones: she steals artifacts instead of making sure they end up in museums. She has a personality big enough to make an impact, even when her dark snark is aimed at Darth Vader. Her standalone adventures also reveal her conflicted relationship with her father, as well as the history of her Wookiee companion, Black Krrsantan. This is a fantastic series about Marvel’s standout Star Wars character.

    Read Doctor Aphra on Amazon

    Lando

    Writer: Charles Soule Artist: Alex Maleev

    If you’re looking for a miniseries that has a little bit of everything, Landois a great place to start. With shady business deals, ancient Sith artifacts, sleek spaceships, and strange aliens, it enriches both the smooth businessman’s backstory and the Star Wars galaxy as a whole. And you’ll never look at Lobot the same way again! 

    Read Lando on Amazon

    Captain Phasma 

    writer: Kelly Thompson artist: March Checchetto

    Phasma’s appearance in The Last Jedi might seem surprising if the last time you saw her was when she headed to the trash compactor. The four-issue comic series shows that Phasma escaped the trash compactor easily. Much more difficult was hiding the fact that she lowered Starkiller Base’s shield. She tracks the only witness to her act of treason to the wastelands of Luprora and kills everyone who might expose her — including the TIE pilot she had started to befriend. If you were disappointed with Phasma’s quick surrender in The Force Awakens, the book and comic provide plenty of action that shows what she can do when she’s properly motivated.

    Read Marvel's Captain Phasma

    Poe Dameron

    Writer: Charles Soule Artists: Phil Noto & Angel Unzueta

    Fans looking for a connection to The Force Awakens might want to start with Poe Dameron, which fleshes out the charming pilot’s backstory. While Rey’s story is shrouded in mystery (is she or isn’t she a Skywalker?) and Finn’s history remains obscured, along with the origins of the First Order from which he defected, Poe’s story is relatively out in the open. The series shows his time as leader of Black Squadron in the fight against the First Order before Episode VII.

    Read Poe Dameron: Black Squadron on Amazon

    Shattered Empire

    Writer: Greg Rucka Artist: Marco Checchetto, Angel Unzueta, Emilio Laiso, and Phil Noto

    While it doesn’t progress the overall Star Wars story much, Shattered Empirecarries some weight as it links The Force Awakens to the Original Trilogy. Starting at the Rebels’ celebration after the Battle of Endor, Shara Bey and Kes Dameron join Luke, Han, and Leia in the effort to mop up the remaining Imperials and recover a Force-strong tree. While learning about Poe Dameron’s parents is neat, this comic is also one of the several Star Wars pieces that show off Phil Noto’s warm art style.

    Read Shattered Empire on Amazon

    We'll continue to update this with more essential Star Wars comics, too! What are your favorites?


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    Blink will be teaming up with a cartoony Wolverine and other multiversal warriors as Marvel's take on Sliders makes a long-needed comeback.

    News Gavin Jasper
    Jan 3, 2018

    Superhero stories lend themselves well to alternate universes. That’s why we have over 200 issues of What If. That’s why the idea of adapting Slidersinto a Marvel thing worked out like gangbusters. Even though it’s been about eight years since the concept ran out of gas, Marvel’s Exileswill be making a comeback this April with Saladin Ahmed writing and Javier Rodriguez on art.

    Exilesstarted out in 2001, created by Judd Winick and Mike McKone. With a handful of mainstays (notably Blink and Morph), the roster has changed constantly over the years, featuring the likes of Age of Apocalypse Sabretooth, Spider-Man 2099, the daughter of Nightcrawler and Scarlet Witch, regular Psylocke, and many others. Once Chris Claremont took over late in its run, the book took a huge hit. Jeff Parker tried to relaunch it and give it some new life, but it was canceled after six issues.

    Since then, the closest thing we’ve had to fill that hole is Contest of Champions. That, sadly, did not last long enough either. Oh, and there’s that Spider-Verse thing and the Venom knockoff. And that book where Wolverine was a gay cowboy. I suppose Deadpool Kills Deadpool counts—ANYWAY.

    Now OG Nick Fury (the white one on the moon) is bringing the Exiles concept back. In order to save the multiverse, he’s taking Blink and teaming her up with a grizzled and old version of Ms. Marvel, some incarnation of Iron Lad from Young Avengers, the Mini-Marvels take of Wolverine, and someone shrouded in secrecy.

    Exiles #1 will hit stands on April 11.

    Don’t Blink – The Exiles are Back in a New Series by Saladin Ahmed & Javier Rodriguez!
    The adventure begins this April!

    New York, NY—January 3, 2018—A fan-favorite teleporting X-Man will make her return to the multiverse in 2018, along with a brand-new team!

    Writer Saladin Ahmed topped several “Best of 2017” lists with Marvel’s Black Bolt, with EW calling the book “a delightfully fresh take on the superhero genre.” Now, Ahmed takes his talent for fresh storytelling to an old but beloved tale, joined by the art team of Javier Rodriguez (Spider-Woman), Alvaro Lopez, and Jordie Bellaire and Joe Caramagna.

    The man once known as Nick Fury is now simply the Unseen, who can only observe Earth from the moon. When a mysterious threat casts its shadow on the multiverse, his job is to recruit champions who can save it. Blink’s goal was once to save the world with the original EXILES, and now, she’ll need the help of Khan, Iron Lad, Wolvie and a mysterious to-be-revealed team member to help her fight an even more sinister evil.

    “EXILES is a two-fisted, big-hearted wild ride of a book about a diverse team of alternate universe Marvel heroes banding together to stop a dire threat to the multiverse. Sort of WHAT IF? meets classic X-Men,” teases Ahmed. “Grizzled old Kamala Khan! Disgustingly cute cartoon Wolverine! It's a dream of a book to be working on for a Marvel fanboy such as myself, full of deep-cut guest stars and mind-blowing easter eggs. But it's also new-reader friendly -- a self-contained story of a group of misfits coming together, learning to trust each other, and, if they're lucky, saving the !@$# universe.”

    Get ready for a wild ride of misfit fun and new adventures when EXILES returns to comic shops with a brand-new story this April!

    EXILES #1
    Written by SALADIN AHMED
    Art by JAVIER RODRIGUEZ
    Cover by DAVID MARQUEZ
    Variant Cover MIKE MCKONE
    On-Sale 4/11/18

    Gavin Jasper wishes we’d get more appearances from Snikt the Clown. Follow Gavin on Twitter!


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    Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman are taking a Ridley Scott influenced approach to Green Lantern.

    InterviewMarc Buxton
    Jan 4, 2018

    DC Comics’ Earth One series of original graphic novels have offered modern and new reader friendly takes on classic DC heroes. So far, DC has presented Earth One adventures for Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Teen Titans. On March 14, 2018 writer Corinna Bechko and writer and artist Gabriel Hardman will present Green Lantern: Earth One, a new look at the origin of Green Lantern Hal Jordan. We spoke with Bechko and Hardman and discuss the genesis of this latest Earth One project, the influence of Ridley Scott’s Alien films on their take on Hal Jordan and what heroes and supporting cast fans can expect when Green Lantern gets the Earth One hardcover treatment early next year.

    Den of Geek: You have been mostly doing work outside the worlds of DC and Marvel. You’ve been doing Planet of the Apes, Star Wars, and your creator owned stuff like Invisible Republic for Image, what brought you back to DC for this new Green Lantern project?

    Gabriel Hardman: This was a story we wanted to tell. When we come on a project, we ask ourselves, is this a story we want to tell? I have no sense of careerism about it, I really just do stuff that interests me.

    So what about Green Lantern: Earth One interested you?

    Hardman: It’s science fiction. We can go back to the core of the Silver Age Green Lantern. It’s a sci-fi story, and a story with an intrinsic arc that allows a character to go off into another world. It’s sort of like a story of becoming a hero.

    Corinna Bechko: For me, I really enjoy world building. From starting with the basics of the character and the basics of the story and going into a world that works. It involves how things would work a few years in the future. It appeals to my science background.

    The last few years of Green Lantern, the Geoff Johns stuff (which was awesome), has gotten away from solo Hal stories. Were you informed by that?

    Hardman: That was definitely part of it. Not a judgement against the other stuff, but if you’re going to do it. Do something different.

    Bechko: That already exists. It’s already doing the job really well, so we have to do something different.

    Hardman: We always look at what is intrinsic for the character. Otherwise, why use the character? In a graphic novel which is a discreet thing, you have to focus on what the character is really about. We can’t introduce a million characters. We have to tell this guy’s story.

    Bechko: That doesn’t mean we’re ignoring the other stuff either.

    Hardman: Oh yeah, we’re getting out into the galaxy and meeting a lot of people. We’re not telling you who they are, but they’re there.

    So who is Hal Jordan to you?

    Bechko: I think at core he’s a man who is smart, he is good at figuring out problems. And he’s a scientist, at least in our iteration.

    Very interesting!

    Hardman: He’s an astronaut, he has to be.

    Bechko: I would argue, a test pilot is a scientist. Yeah, they’re super brave, but they’re not getting into that thing if they don’t know how it works.

    One of the aspects that has been a little lost from Hal Jordan over the last few years is his personal supporting cast. Is there a return of any of those characters?

    Hardman: No. The circumstances we start with, we don’t meet them. We start is space so we don’t meet them. If there’s future volumes, we can come back.

    Bechko: There’s a lot of suggestions about Hal’s past, but because he’s being thrown into unfamiliar circumstances, we don’t go there.

    Was there ever any temptation to make this book about another Green Lantern like John Stewart?

    Hardman: We just wanted to go back to the Silver Age start of it, and that was Hal Jordan. We constructed this story around Hal Jordan and in a way it’s important that it be him. But that’s not to say those characters won’t come in. We never really talked about it. Dan Didio told us this can be anything. We did not have a mandate to use Hal. The particular story we’re telling felt like it needed to be him.

    Bechko: Because we’re presenting things from a new go line, we figured something needed to be drawing from the old.

    Hardman: Yeah, we could have introduced a new Green lantern entirely…

    Bechko: But then everything would have to be different.

    Can we assume the villain?

    Hardman: Well, the Manhunters are the villains.

    Well, that’s not who I assumed.

    Hardman: We’re going to see more of the familiar. There is a mystery to what exactly is going on. Hal sees it from a worm’s eye view.

    Bechko: And he’s seeing it without context.

    Hardman: And he’s discovering what’s really going on in the universe.

    Hopefully, when you get this done, DC will look at your script and say, “Hey, that’s the movie.”

    Hardman: I worked on the first film. The movie showed us that there was a way to not intrinsically make the story about the character. In our book, we hoped to not do that. (laughs)

    Is DC talking a series of these Earth One Green Lantern books?

    Hardman: We’re not really talking anything, it’s a book. Presumably, if it does well, there can be more. But it’s a self-contained book.

    Is there anything, any Green Lantern runs or sci-fi in general, that informed your take?

    Hardman: We certainly though a lot about Alien, the first Ridley Scott Alien, because of the way they framed …

    Bechko:… working in an unfamiliar environment as if it were the North Pole. They were in a place where they didn’t know there was other life in the universe so they were in for a big surprise.

    Hardman: Particularly, with the Space Jockey, it suggests a much wider world and mythology. That tone was something we thought about a lot. Not that it’s a horror book, it isn’t….

    Bechko:… It’s as if you’re building a world, and you close the book, the reader will believe the world is wider that it seems.

    It’s hard to write a space book without horror, space is scary.

    Hardman: Space is scary. And there is some horror in the book. Hal finds a ring that is not magically gifted to him… he finds a jewel that he doesn’t know how to use, and he could die if he doesn’t use it right. There’s serious perils on this.

    Green Lantern: Earth One will hit shelves on March 14.


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    Marie Lu talks to us about the best parts of adding to Batman canon!

    InterviewBridget LaMonica
    Jan 4, 2018

    Batman: Nightwalker is a thrilling, character-driven young adult novel that proves you don't need the Dark Knight to tell a good Batman story. It's part of Penguin Random House's DC Icons series, exploring some of DC's most iconic characters in a young adult book format.

    The books in the series are penned by some of young adult literature's most exciting authors. Batman: Nightwalker comes to us from Marie Lu, the bestselling author of the Legend series and recent YA release Warcross.

    We had a chance to talk to Marie Lu about her addition to the DC Icons series—what it's like adding to Batman canon, why she cares about Gotham City, and what we can expect from her next...

    Den of Geek: I'd like to talk about your knowledge of Batman before coming to this book. I saw in your afterword that you, like me, grew up on the animated series. What impact did this have on you as a fan and a writer?

    Marie Lu: I didn't know much about comic books as a kid, but I watched my share of after-school TV, and Batman: The Animated Series was one of those shows. It was my introduction to superheroes of any kind. Something about the fact that Batman was such a dark hero figure, that he had a complicated relationship with the police and with the people of Gotham, really appealed to me. Why was this billionaire so serious and haunted? Maybe he's the reason why I like to write dark characters.

    What's the best part about writing a Batman book—even if he's not quite Batman yet?

    I mean, the fact that I get to be part of the Bat canon is in itself one of the best parts! I also realized how little I understood Bruce Wayne as a character. Everyone loves Batman; he's the Dark Knight, the hero of Gotham. But who is Bruce Wayne? Why would he be a likable person? I didn't get him until I had a chance to explore what makes him tick as a young man coming into his inheritance.

    (Aside: The most fun part was creating my own Bat universe villain, Madeleine Wallace. I loved writing about her!)

    There's a lot of impressive, yet realistic technology used throughout the book. How did you balance science and science fiction to create the world of Batman: Nightwalker?

    Science fiction is basically just science that hasn't been invented yet. I find tech's bright and dark sides really fascinating, and Batman has always been a perfect vehicle (no pun intended) for exploring new tech. To figure out what makes realistic science fiction, I asked myself what problems I wished today's devices could solve. I would then put those wishlist solutions into Bruce's tech.

    What do you hope readers will walk away with after reading this book?

    A sense of pride for their lives and their homes. Gotham City is worth fighting for, and so is our own imperfect world.

    Do you have a geeky guilty pleasure of the moment?

    At the moment? I'm absolutely addicted to playing Assassin's Creed: Origins. Ancient Egypt! Assassinating bad dudes! I could play for days if I didn't put on a timer.

    Would you like to plug any one of your books or other projects you're working on?

    My next book out in Fall 2018 is the sequel to Warcross, my current science fiction duology about bounty hunters and hackers and games. No title yet. Warcrosser, maybe? Then my book The Kingdom of Back releases in 2019. It's a historical fantasy standalone about Mozart's sister, and the magical kingdom called Back that she and her brother create while touring the royal courts of 18th century Europe. It's my "odd" book, and I'm excited about it.

    Batman Nightwalker is now available for purchase. 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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    Anthony Bourdain, Joel Rose, Vanessa Del Rey, and Alberto Ponticelli team up for a food-themed horror comic. Here's an exclusive preview!

    News Jim Dandy
    Jan 4, 2018

    Fans of Anthony Bourdain's writing and documentaries are about to have a brand new way to enjoy his work. Dark Horse is publishing a new food-centric horror comic from the minds of Bourdain and Joel Rose (Kill, Kill, Faster, Faster), along with an excellent lineup of comics, including Vanessa Del Rey.

    Del Rey is bound for comics superstardom. This feels like a bold assertion, but if you've spent any time with her art - on Hit 1957, in the pages of the most recent (and gorgeous) Scarlet Witch series, or in Redlands, her creator owned book with the person who colors half the known comics world, Jordie Bellaire - you know that it's actually a little understated. She has a genuine gift for capturing the eerie discomfort of a horrific, supernatural situation with a clean, quick line and ominous staging. 

    That's why she's the perfect contributor to Bourdain and Rose's Hungry Ghosts, which Dark Horse was kind enough to send over an exclusive preview of. Paired with all time great colorist Jose Villarrubia, they nail the dark, threatening mood of the story.

    Here's the first issue's synopsis:

    HUNGRY GHOSTS #1

    Writers: Anthony Bourdain & Joel Rose

    Artists: Alberto Ponticelli & Vanesa Del Ray

    Cover Artist: Paul Pope

    On a dark, haunted night, a Russian oligarch dares a circle of international chefs to play the samurai game of 100 Candles--where each storyteller spins a terrifying tale of ghosts, demons and unspeakable beings--and prays to survive the challenge.

    Inspired by the Japanese Edo period game of Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai, Hungry Ghosts reimagines the classic stories of yokai, yorei, and obake, all tainted with the common thread of food.

    First course: With bad consequence, a ramen chef refuses to help a beggar, and a band of pirates get more (and less) than they were bargaining for after their encounter with a drowning woman turns ghastly.

    Alberto Ponticelli handles art on the framing sequence and the first story, and he's well matched to this work: he did great monster work back on Frankenstein and the Agents of S.H.A.D.E. back when the New 52 first kicked off. The story is presented as a little Russian nesting doll of a tale, and it's interesting to see where it goes next. Take a look!


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    Syfy is adapting George R.R. Martin’s novella and 1987 movie, Nightflyers, as a TV series.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Jan 4, 2018

    Nightflyers stands as one of George R.R. Martin’s more intriguing pre-Game of Thrones space science-fiction offerings, starting as a 1980 novella, eventually inspiring a schlocky, limited-release 1987 film adaptation. However, it appears that the Literary God of Death’s old property is about to be reincarnated as a television series over at Syfy. 

    Last year, the genre-aimed NBCU cable outlet ordered a pilot for Nightflyers and now the network comfirms that its commitment has expanded with a series pickup.

    Nightflyers Cast

    With the announcement of Nightflyers’ new full series status comes the reveal of the show’s cast.

    Gretchen Mol will headline the series, playing Dr. Agatha Matheson.

    Mol, who burst on the scene as a late-1990s it-girl from roles in Donnie Brasco, Rounders and The Thirteenth Floor, and steamed up the small screen in the 2005 HBO biopic, The Notorious Bettie Page, has made her presence known with recent television runs on Chance, Mozart in the Jungle and Boardwalk Empire. She notably appeared in last year’s Oscars-accruing drama, Manchester by the Sea. She's also booked to appear in the upcoming USA drama series Yellowstone.

    And here’s the supporting cast:

    Eoin Macken (The Night Shift) as Karl D’Branin

    David Ajala (Fast & Furious 6) as Roy Eris

    Sam Strike (EastEnders) as Thale

    Maya Eshet (Teen Wolf) as Lommie

    Angus Sampson (Fargo) as Rowan

    Jodie Turner-Smith (The Last Ship) as Melantha Jhirl

    Brían F. O'Byrne (Million Dollar Baby) as Auggie

    Nightflyers Details

    Stepping in as showrunner/executive-producer is Daniel Cerone, whose credits include The Blacklist, Motive, Constantine, The Mentalist and, much further back, Charmed.

    Mike Cahill (I Origin) will direct the pilot.

    Screenwriter Jeff Buhler has adapted Martin’s original story. He wrote the 2008 Bradley Cooper-starring horror film The Midnight Meat Train and horror thriller remake Jacob’s Ladder. Onboard as executive producers are Gene Klein, David Bartis and Edge of Tomorrow and The Bourne Identity franchise blockbuster director Doug Liman, all of whom are representing production company Hypnotic, which Liman co-owns with Bartis. Alison Rosenzweig and Michael Gaeta of Gaeta Rosenzweig Films along with Lloyd Ivan Miller and Alice P. Neuhauser of Lloyd Ivan Miller Productions are also onboard. 

    Additionally, George R.R. Martin himself will be a credited executive producer on the series.

    “We are looking forward to diving deeper into George R. R. Martin’s chilling world of Nightflyers,” Bill McGoldrick, executive vice president of scripted development for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, said in a July statement. “The script that Jeff delivered encapsulates this classic sci-fi horror story and adapts it to a platform where we can truly explore the depths of madness.”

    Robert Jaffe, who wrote the screenplay for the 1987 Nightflyers film, is onboard the series as a producer. It doesn't look like Martin will be involved with the series, at least for now.

    The story of the George R.R. Martin-conceived supernatural space thriller is set on the eve of Earth’s destruction, depicting the travails of the crew of the most advanced ship in the galaxy in the titular spacecraft the Nightflyer. Adrift in space without a planet to call home, the goal of the surviving humans is to intercept a mysterious alien ship which is believed to hold the key for their survival. However, as the ship closes in on its destination, it becomes apparent that the Nightflyer’s onboard AI and its elusive captain – with mysterious motivations – may be leading the crew on a primrose path ending in the hopeless, horrific darkness of deep space.

    The genesis of Nightflyers occurred with George R.R. Martin’s original 1980 novella of the same name, for which he received Japan’s Seiun Award in 1983 for Best Foreign Language Short Story of the Year. The story was subsequently collected as the title entry in Martin’s 1985 Nightflyers collection. The 1987 film adaptation, directed by Robert Collector (Jungle Warriors), starred perennial 1980s movie love interest Catherine Mary Stewart and Dynasty’s Michael Praed, manifesting with a limited release that grossed a paltry $1.145 million dollars at the box office (and sent Martin back to television to write for Beauty and the Beast).

    Nightflyers Release Date

    Nightflyers has yet to set a release date. However, the series is currently in the midst of production in Ireland.


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    This month's Den of Geek Book Club pick is the start of a rich, imaginative new historical fantasy series.

    InterviewKayti Burt
    Jan 5, 2018

    The Den of Geek Book Club is currently reading The City of Brass, the first book in a new historical fantasy series from S.A. Chakraborty. (You can check out our full review here!) 

    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.

    We had a chance to talk with Chakraborty about crafting this new fantasy world, what's next in the series, and what stories she is currently enjoying. Here's what she had to say...

    Den of Geek: Where did The City of Brass start?

    Chakraborty: It was very much just a private project at first. I had studied history in college and I wanted to go to graduate school, but couldn't. I was working in an unrelated field and I had a newborn daughter and I just wanted to do something with all of the things that I read, that I still read, because I loved this world.

    So I started sort of like a historical fanfiction project. And I was like, 'What if these people were here, and what if these people were here and they built this?' And then I enjoyed doing it. And then I enjoyed doing it and so I said, 'Maybe I'll make it a novel,' and I added some characters. And then I was like, 'Maybe I'll join a writer's group' and so now I'm here.

    Wow, so like how long did all of that take?

    You know what, I thought it was like three or four years, but then I actually looked back to my biography and it was more like six, seven years. But the actual, 'OK, lets add characters and make it a novel' was more like five [or four].

    Why did you chose Nahri and Ali as point-of-view-characters?

    It was always them to begin with. The plot came to me relatively quickly and didn't change too much as I was going along and it was really these two paths. I wanted to show a character from each opposing side, and to show characters who were very different in many ways, yet who might have little things in common. [They're] book nerds, or want to become book nerds.

    Was one of them more enjoyable for you to write?

    So they're both very enjoyable, I mean Nahri is fun to write, and whenever I get the question 'Are you more like Nahri or are you more like Ali?,' I'm like, 'I would love to be like Nahri, but Ali frets over religious law and has no social graces.' So, I found his viewpoint a lot more easier to slip into. I mean I enjoyed writing them both, but there is something about Ali that I find it easy to kind of think how he would be. I don't know what that says about me.

    One of Nahri's abilities is the ability to speak and understand almost any language. Was that always a part of her character? Why did you include it?

    Yeah, it was. For a lot of reasons. If I snap my fingers and have any superpower, that would be it. Then I wouldn't be struggling with learning Arabic.

    And also, I was working in healthcare at the time that I had that idea. [And I thought], if you were giving out abilities based on what these people [need most], you would need a more effective way to communicate.

    I though it was interesting that you started in the real world and then moved into this more magical fantastical world. Why did you make that choice to start there and move into the fantasy?

    When I started, I knew I wanted to start it in the real world and have my readers kind of catch up with where it was, what was going on [in the real world]. It almost follows tradition of a lot of medieval Arabic literature and the folklore. There are a lot of fantasies in which this man goes out from the city to have this great adventure and stumbles upon this otherworldly palace, or kingdom or mountainous valley.

    What were the challenges and/or freedoms of using non-western mythology that, at least for western readers, is not very familiar?

    You know what, it's funny because I get variations of this question and I kind of didn't worry about readers unfamiliar with the Islamic history and culture used in the novel ... I stayed in the world of the book and it was more of a matter of, OK, if I need to explain something in the text for people who might not be familiar, I'll explain it. But I wrote more for my community, for fellow Muslims who would know what I would be talking about. I focused on them and I was like, alright you know, then I had people who were outside of that read it and go. 'OK, I'd like to understand what this means.' And you just explain again.

    You have such a unique perspective as someone who grew up in a Catholic family and then converted to Islam but also you know became very interested in this history of the early Islamic world. I am curious what your specific identity, kind of in-between these two worlds, informed your writing of this story.

    I've been a Muslim since I was 17 years old, so it's been 14 years. I am also a white American; I come from a large extended Italian Irish family in Jersey. That's my identity and while it took awhile, I'm comfortable with that and aware that I'm writing about a part of the world that isn't mine, so I try to be respectful of that. I'm a convert; a guest. And when someone invites you into their house, you don't gossip to the neighbors about, their rugs are dirty and like, this is going on.

    So I enjoy it, I try to respect it and I don't every forget that it's not mine and it comes with an extra level of responsibility. So I just try to keep that in mind.

    What are you a fan of in terms of in the world of storytelling right now?

    Right now, I'm really into Star Trek: Discovery. I am a huge science fiction fan I actually probably like it more than fantasy. But I really like Star Trek: Discovery. I wasn't sure and then it took off and then they had the midseason finale and I was like, 'You can't leave us now.'

    You subvert some of the expectations of the reader when it comes to romance in this story. Was that something you were conscious of when writing?

    I wanted to create somebody very real and very flawed. At the same time, sometimes you don't really know the people you fall for. And sometimes you fall for flawed people. What do you do with that?

    Dara, I won't spoil it, is very flawed. [Nahri] has some decisions to make. What do you do with a guy like that? If it's not the dashing hero who rescues you, but somebody a lot more complicated.

    SPOILER ALERT! FROM HERE ON, DON'T READ UNLESS YOU'VE ALREADY READ THE BOOK OR DON'T MIND BEING SPOILED.

    I love that part of the book. I cover a lot of television, as well. And there's just so many... I covered Vampire Diaries and the love story is not complicated in a way that maybe it should be. But, with Dara, you still understand why he is the way he is; you have sympathy for him.

    I wanted to look at the idea of agency. We're rather capable of controling our own lives so I wanted to show that as well. Dealing with somebody who's so adamant they're going to save you, whether or not it's what you actually want and that you're rather capable of doing that yourself. So I'm not sure I was clear enough about, but I very much wanted to look at what you do when you fall for somebody who doesn't necessarily expect that.

    I think the moment where he takes the choice away from her is a very clear moment. Before that, you are unsettled about their relationship a little bit, but you're also like, 'Well, we'll see what happens.' And then that moment happens...

    Yeah, I mean it starts with, 'I don't need you to save me.' and escalates pretty quickly to, 'Hi, I'm going to murder your friend if you don't go along.'

    Have you started writing the next book?

    Yes.

    Can you talk about if the point of view characters are the same?

    There's an additional one.

    And this is early days, because it was just published yesterday. But there have been some copies out there in the world for a while now. I'm curious if any reactions or readings or interpretations or even like people liking certain characters more than others has surprised you?

    Everybody likes Dara more than I thought they would.

    So, one aspect of the djinn character is that they're walking amongst us and watching civilizations rise and fall. Was that ever more a part of this story, or will that be a part of this story moving forward in terms of seeing the real world?

    Yes, not necessarily in Book Two, but possibly in Book Three. I don't want to totally spoil it. But if certain characters return then you could see how that would then play in because now they're on the other side.

    The City of Brass is now available for purchase, or you can enter Den of Geek's book giveaway.


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    Deadpool's oft-co-conspirator gets her own series from one of Deadpool's architects.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Jan 6, 2018

    Marvel announced the return of Gail Simone to their characters with Domino, a new series due out in April. Simone, who has been working mostly at DC for the better part of the last decade, was one of the writers to make Deadpool fertile ground for his popularity explosion in the last few years. So with Domino playing a featured role in the upcoming Deadpool 2, it seems she's getting back to Marvel and getting in on the action.

    The new series promises "risque, hardcore action." It sees Neena find herself on the wrong side of the entire rest of the Marvel mercenary community. “My favorite characters are always the unpredictable ones, and with Domino, you literally never know which way the dice are going to roll,” said Simone. “I love her, and I can't wait to show her best bad side!” In a completely unexpected development, writing this paragraph has made me simultaneously nostalgic for GW Bridge, Grizzly, and Six Pack, and also excited for the new book.

    Simone's most recent comics work has been on Wonder Woman/Conan at DC, the spooky as hell Clean Room with Vertigo, and Crosswinds with Image, and she is most commonly known as the author of one of the greatest runs on Wonder Woman of all time. She hasn't had a story published at Marvel since 2013, a backup in Deadpool #27. Her first big-2 series was a run on Deadpool and its spin off, Agent X, starting back in 2002, where she cranked up the series's trademark slapstick and infused the book with surprising heart.

    Simone's new series, Domino, is out on April 11th. For more on this series, Weapon XDeadpool 2, why I ship Colossus and Domino, or any updates that involve a swimming pool full of pancakes, stick with Den of Geek!


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    Marvel's Doctor Strange has a weird history with psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd.

    Feature Mike Cecchini
    Jan 6, 2018

    Doctor Strange and Pink Floyd both got their start during the 1960s, a decade known for mind-expansion, psychedelic experimentation, and the pushing of cultural and artistic boundaries. Neither were exactly in step with the rest of their genre.

    Doctor Strange, unlike his spandex clad and heavily muscled contemporaries, used occult practices like black magic and astral projection to defeat his foes instead of brute force. Pink Floyd were never really the kind of post-Beatles psychedelic pop group that were still common in the late '60s, nor were they ever the kind of blues-based hard rock or technically-oriented progressive rock band that dominated the 1970s. Unsurprisingly, Doctor Strange comics were popular on college campuses as the counterculture revolution of the 1960s began to take hold and it's easy to see stoners disappearing into Steve Ditko's surreal artwork while early Floyd records played or why psychedelic rockers were more drawn to these than traditional superhero fare.

    Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson dropped a number of Pink Floyd references on Twitter during the production of the Doctor Strange film (not to mention Bob Dylan, The Talking Heads, T.Rex, and other bands), so I was waiting to see if a Pink Floyd song would actually make its way into a Marvel movie. 

    I wasn't disappointed. 

    Pink Floyd's "Interstellar Overdrive" plays during a key early sequence in the movie. It comes from first Pink Floyd album, The Piper At The Gates of Dawn, which abandoned the melodic but skewed psychedelic pop of their early singles, "Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play" for a collection of songs that were more metaphysical, sinister, and occasionally (like in the case of "Interstellar Overdrive") freeform explorations of sound and feedback. The album version clocks in at nearly 10 minutes, but live versions could run longer, as long as the band wanted, really, and were accompanied by a psychedelic light show and oil projections that were conducive to mind-expansion. Those visuals wouldn't have looked out of place in the Doctor Strange comics of the era, either.

    Pink Floyd's guitar player, singer, and driving creative force in 1967 was Syd Barrett, who left the group the following year due to worsening mental illness that was likely accelerated by his voracious appetite for mind-altering chemicals like LSD. Marvel's Doctor Strange movie certainly leans heavily on imagery consistent with the visuals associated with LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline trips (Strange even accuses the Ancient One of spiking his tea with psilocybin), which is fitting, even if it isn't a direct connection to Pink Floyd.

    Listen to Pink Floyd The Piper at The Gates of Dawn on Amazon Prime

    Barrett was still present on a few tracks on the band's second album, 1968's A Saucerful of Secrets, which has a semi-hidden image of Doctor Strange on the cover. The collage effect is not only reminiscent of the band's light shows and a representation of the psychedelic experience, but the placement of Strange himself makes it look as if the whole album cover is a spell being cast by the Master of the Mystic Arts. 

    The Strange elements come from a story in 1967's Strange Tales #158, with art by Marie Severin (Doctor Strange co-creator Steve Ditko had left Marvel almost a year earlier).

    Here's the page: 

    (and thanks to Richie who pointed out the specific issue in the comments of our article about all of the easter eggs in the Doctor Strange movie)

    The title track, "A Saucerful of Secrets" is kind of like the sequel to "Interstellar Overdrive" as it's another extended instrumental that places more emphasis on experimental sound than it does on anything resembling a traditional rock song structure. In other words, it's the perfect accompaniment to your reading of weird-ass Doctor Strange comics from the era.

    Listen to Pink Floyd A Saucerful of Secrets on Amazon Prime

    What I somehow never realized until this NightFlight article pointed it out to me is that you can also spot Marvel cosmic entity The Living Tribunal in the upper left-hand corner of the album cover, too...

    Doctor Strange was still on the band's radar enough that they included him in the lyrics of "Cymbaline" from their third album, 1969's soundtrack to the Barbet Schroeder film, More. "Suddenly it strikes you, that they're moving into range,"Syd Barrett's replacement David Gilmour intones solemnly, "and Doctor Strange is always changing size."

    Funny enough, "Cymbaline" was known as "Nightmare" when it was performed as part of The Man and The Journey suite of songs, meaning it shared a name with the first villain Strange ever fought in the comics. Soon the band's lyrical focus drifted away from metaphysical concerns and into more earthly ones, and while they continued to produce extended musical compositions, the atonal sounds of "Interstellar Overdrive" and "A Saucerful of Secrets" gave way to the more melodic "Echoes" and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond."

    But if Doctor Strange was an influence on the band in their early days, you can perhaps see hints of Pink Floyd in the 1978 Dr. Strange TV movie, which has a synth-heavy, at times funky, electronic soundtrack and an astral trip visual sequence that looks like some of the light show projections the band were known for. The final song on Michael Giacchino's Doctor Strangescore, "Master of the Mystic Arts" subtly evokes some of the band's 1970s work, too.

    But one final piece of Doctor Strange/Pink Floyd synchronicity popped up in 2016. Doctor Strange star Benedict Cumberbatch joined former Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour on stage to sing "Comfortably Numb," a song which started life as a demo called, funny enough, "The Doctor." Whether this is coincidence, or simply the universe bringing the Pink Floyd/Doctor Strange connections full circle is entirely up to you to decide, of course. Maybe Doctor Strange 2can find room for more Pink Floyd music when exploring the Dark Dimension or somewhere similar.

    Cast spells, or at least talk psychedelic rock and comics, with Mike Cecchini on Twitter.


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    Babs, Dinah & Helena head to Paris for a new arc in this exclusive preview of Batgirl and the Birds of Prey.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Jan 6, 2018

    One of the best things to come out of Grant Morrison's Batman run was Spyral, the new super-spy agency introduced in the pages of Batman, Inc. Superhero espionage has a long history, but in the pages of Morrison's Batman story, then later in Tim Seeley and Tom King's Grayson, the organization was fleshed out and made fun, like a hyper-pop Roger Moore-era Bond, with Daniel Craig-era brutality and tons of jokes about Nightwing's behind. And as an X-Men fan, it brings me no small amount of joy to watch threads dropped by Morrison get picked up and expanded on by other talented creators, and effectively woven into the ongoing stories of these characters.

    That's why the first page of this preview for Batgirl & The Birds of Prey #18 made me feel all warm and fuzzy. Here's what DC has to say about the book...

    BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY #18 Written by JULIE BENSON and SHAWNA BENSONArt by MARCIO TAKARACover by YANICK PAQUETTEVariant cover by KAMOME SHIRAHAMA“Eco-Deadly!” Tasked with a new mission by the secretive Spyral, Huntress enlists Batgirl and Black Canary to help infiltrate an exclusive tech conference. Searching for an arms dealer masquerading as a tech investor, the Birds of Prey must uncover the mysterious plans for Weather Wizard’s missing wand before the City of Lights finds itself plunged into permanent darkness.

    Julie and Shawna Benson are having a lot of fun with Batgirl, Black Canary and Huntress, and they've used the sum total of the continuity of these characters really effectively to give the book depth and mine for new angles. Tiger, the new head of Spyral after Huntress left, calls in the Birds for a mission, and then we get more welcome time with Barbara the borderline super-genius (the highlighting of this trait is another fantastic development of the past couple of years). Marcio Takara, the artist on this issue, seems to be inking himself lighter than he normally does, and the cleanness of the lines makes the art pop a little more than it usually does.

    All in all, this is a solid preview. Check it out!


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    Kendrick Lamar and Producer Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith will team up to curate the soundtrack for Marvel's Black Panther

    News Alec Bojalad
    Jan 6, 2018

    What does one do after their left stroke goes viral? Why head to Wakanda of course!

    Grammy award-winning rapper, Tupac heir-apparent, and just general cultural phenomenon Kendrick Lamar will be lending his talents to the Marvel universe as he will be curated the Black Panther soundtrack, simply titled "Black Panther: The Album." Billboard Magazine’s Executive of the Year Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith will join him. 

    Lamar was already going to be involved in the album anyway as his track "All The Stars" with SZA is the soundtrack's lead single, and now he'll be even more closely involved.

    Black Pantheris shaping up to be a lot of firsts for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It already was the first film to have a Black lead to go along with a mostly Black cast. Now Director Ryan Coogler's story of African empire Wakanda will be the first time that Marvel incorporates multiple original recordings for one of their films. 

    Coogler hand-picked Lamar for the soundtrack job and in a statement released through Marvel sounds delighted he accepted. 

    “I am honored to be working with such an incredible artist whose work has been so inspirational, and whose artistic themes align with those we explore in the film," Coogler said. "I can’t wait for the world to hear what Kendrick and TDE have in store."

    Kendrick Lamar is starting 2018 off strong after dominating end-of-year music lists in 2017 with his fourth studio album "DAMN.""Black Panther: The Album" will presumably just be the icing on the cake after he wins 41,000 Grammy awards on January 28. 

    Black Panther debuts February 16. Though it's worth noting that Kendrick has already seen it and is a fan. 

    "Marvel Studios’ Black Panther is amazing, from its cast to its director. The magnitude of this film showcases a great marriage of art and culture. I’m truly honored to contribute my knowledge of producing sound and writing music alongside Ryan (Coogler) and Marvel’s vision," he said. 


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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.

    Kyle 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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    Are you a Sword of Truth or Legend of the Seeker fan? Either way, The Nicci Chronicles is a fantasy series worth your time.

    FeatureKayti Burt
    Jan 8, 2018

    Terry Goodkind's Shroud of Eternity, the second book in The Nicci Chronicles drops this week. It's the story of Nicci, a warrior-sorceress who first appeared in the popular Sword of Truth books. Now, she's got her own series to rule over.

    If the Sword of Truth series mean nothing to you, that's OK. The Nicci Chronicles represent a whole new entry point into this magical world. If you're a fan of female-led genre series that include fantastical world-building and epic battles, then Shroud of Eternity should definitely be on your radar.

    Here are your different options for diving into Shroud of Eternity and Terry Goodkind's larger fantasy world...

    The Sword of Truth Route

    Readers originally met Nicci in Goodkind's Sword of Truth fantasy series, which you may recognize from its cheesy, yet enjoyable TV adaptation Legend of the Seeker (starring Agent Carter's excellent Bridget Regan).

    The Sword of Truth series follows magical power couple Richard and Kahlan as they fight to restore justice and peace back to their world. The 17-book series starts with Wizard of the First Rule and ends with Warheart, which was published in 2015.

    Nicci is introduced in Stone of Tears, the second book in the Sword of Truth series. Richard meets Nicci when she captures him in an attempt to convince him that the Imperial Order represents the greater good. (Spoiler alert: it doesn't.)

    Instead, Richard manages to turn Nicci to the side of light, and Nicci goes on to become one of Richard and Kahlan's greatest allies and friends in the war against the Imperial Order. Nicci's path from dark to light is one of the more interesting backstories of the entire Sword of Truth series. Her badass warrior skills are pretty cool, too. 

    The Nicci Chronicles Route

    Who has time to read 17 books, amirite? If you're looking for a fun, thrilling, female-led fantasy series, then The Nicci Chronicles could be the saga for you. As I previously mentioned, Shroud of Eternity is the second book in the new series, so there's only one previous book you have to read if you want to catch up fully with what's happened so far. 

    The Nicci Chronicles starts with Death's Mistress, which has Nicci going out into the far reaches of Richard and Kahlan's kingdom to spread news of Richard's triumph over Emperor Jagang. As a former lieutenant in Jagang's army, where she was known as "Death's Mistress," Nicci is the perfect person for the job. She is joined in her quest by Nathan, an ex-prophet and wizard; Bannon, a young sailor and former cabbage farmer whose life Nicci saves; and Thistle, a young orphan girl.

    Death's Mistress is a new lease on fantasy series life for Goodkind, whose Sword of Truth books had both the pros and cons of being part of such a long narrative. While the number of books in the series lent the universe a depth of world and character, they also had the weight of ongoing prophecy and what had already come before to shoulder. The Nicci Chronicles, while informed by the Sword of Truth series, have only tangential ties to the original series.

    If you haven't read the Sword of Truth books, it may take you a little extra time to become invested in Nicci's journey, but not much. The Nicci Chronicles are designed for new readers to enjoy and you are quickly pulled into Nicci and Nathan's quest to find Kol Adair, as prophecized by a witch called Red.

    The book follow their episodic adventures, from fighting off selkies to saving a fishing village from a fleet of Norukai slavers, as they undertake their larger quest. Dark, swashbuckling fun!

    The Standalone Route

    Some people just want to dive into a series with the book everyone is currently reading and talking about. (Fun fact: I started the Harry Potter series with Chamber of Secrets before going back to read the first book in the series.) If you're one of those kinds of readers, here's what you need to know to hit the ground running with Shroud of Eternity, the second book in theNicci Chronicles series.

    Shroud of Eternity picks up where Death's Mistress leaves off, with Nicci, a magic-less Nathan, and Bannon journeying deeper into the Old World. Nicci and Nathan have dual missions: Nathan, to restore his magic; Nicci, to save the world. Following the advice of the witch Red, they continue on to the ancient city of Ildakar, a place hidden from time and space by a magical shroud that has been in place for over a millenia.

    At first glance, Ildakar seems like a paradise, filled with immortal beings living in a self-described "free city," but there is something disturbing beneath the surface of this gleaming metropolis. You'd think that a book that begins with the line "Rotten human flesh glistened in the sunlight, discolored by the bruised hues of putrefaction" couldn't get much darker, but Shroud of Eternity doesn't pull any punches when it comes to exploring the more disturbing uses of magic. 

    Nicci, Nathan, and Bannon get pulled into the city's internal power struggle, and must make some tough decisions about what they are willing to sacrifice in service of their larger goals.

    Because of it's relatively contained nature (unlike Death's Mistress, it takes place mostly in one place: the city of Ildakar), Shroud of Eternity makes for a relatively good standalone read—though, I should warn you, it ends with a bit of a cliffhanger. Perhaps from all of the practice from writing the Sword of Truth series, Goodkind knows how to give readers the relevant information in the book's early pages to ground the reader in the story. 

    At more than 500 pages, Shroud of Eternity may seem like a daunting read, but it's clear prose, familiar fantasy elements, and action-packed pages make for a quick, exhilarating read that may find you seeking out more Goodkind books while you wait for the next installment of The Nicci Chronicles. You've been warned!

    Shroud of Eternity is now available for pre-order on Amazon.


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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.

    Kyle 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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    A lot has happened since Noah Hawley’s Doctor Doom project was announced and the Legion visionary has an update.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Jan 8, 2018

    After Noah Hawley took fans down a stupendously surreal rabbit hole with FX’s imminently-returning Marvel Comics-inspired TV series, Legion, his subsequent announcement at July’s San Diego Comic-Con, revealing plans for a movie centered on arguably the ultimate Marvel villain, Victor Von Doom, a.k.a. Doctor Doom, was just what fans needed to hear. However, since the December-announced $52 billion deal that will see Disney acquire 21st Century Fox potentially shaking the foundation of the (Fox) Doctor Doom project, Hawley has provided a crucial update.

    Speaking to Rotten Tomatoes, Hawley revealed that Doctor Doom is still very much in play. While the project has yet to leap over any significant hurdles, Hawley has placed the task of writing the movie script on his immediate backlog. He assures fans, stating:

    “It’s coming. I’m almost done with the last Legion script, and then it’s my first responsibility.”

    One might think that the idea of Fox’s Marvel Comics properties – which include X-Men and Fantastic Four– being placed under the same Disney-owned corporate umbrella as the continuity-connected Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and television shows would raise the prospects of Hawley’s Doctor Doom. However, it should be noted that Disney’s MCU has yet to release any project that’s centered on a villain; a stark contrast from Sony, which has grandiose plans to spin-off its new joint-studio MCU-adjacent Spider-Man movies with villain-centric spinoff movies, notably with the Tom Hardy-starring Venom now deep into production. Consequently, the idea of villain movies not playing into Disney's MCU modus operandi remains a potential source of derailment for Doom.

    Regardless, Hawley seems to take the idea that there’s no news as good news. Thus, he has placed the task of writing the Doctor Doom script on a very close backburner, despite the monolithic merger. As he explains:   

    “I haven’t had a phone call, and I’m just operating under the assumption that it’s business as usual, Obviously, the merger, should it go through, will take a year at least. Certainly no one’s reached out to me from Marvel or Fox to say, ‘Well, you know, maybe we should take a beat or maybe we should rush.’ I’m working on the script, and we’ll see what the landscape is when I deliver it.”

    With the critical and financial failure of 2015’s Fantastic Four– the second cinematic iteration within the short span of a decade – still permeating in the circles of Fox, the inevitable relaunch will clearly need an astoundingly original approach. Consequently, the idea of introducing the Fantastic Four’s newly-allocated real estate in the MCU with a film centering on their definitive rival, Doctor Doom, might just be the way to get moviegoers to buy into a movie brand that has been damaged by the generally weak (sequel-supported,) 2005 film (in which Julian McMahon played Doom,) and the aforementioned controversy-mired 2015 reboot effort (in which Toby Kebbell played Doom). With a visionary the caliber of Hawley already onboard to write, and even rumored to direct, this may be an opportunity delivered to Disney on an armor-plated platter.

    For now, you can expect Hawley’s next work when Legion Season 2 debuts on FX sometime in April.


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    The Runaways are going to keep on running for another 10-episode season on Hulu...

    News Kayti Burt
    Jan 8, 2018

    Good news, Marvel's Runaways fans! Hulu has just announced that it will be bringing the teen superhero show based on the comics by Brian K. Vaughan back for a second season.

    The news comes ahead of tomorrow's Season 1 finale, which sees the teens facing off against their parents once and for all, with the fate of the city and the world at stake.

    Marvel's Runaways Season 2 will consist of 10 episodes, just like Season 1. Presumably, series creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage will return to write the second season, with series stars Gregg Sulkin, Rhenzy Feliz, Lyrica Okano, Virginia Gardner, Ariela Barer, and Allegra Acosta returning as our teenaged superheroes.

    Season 1 has been structured as a relatively slow burn, with the teens still developing and learning about their powers and abilities as the season closes out. It's good to hear that the show will be getting a second season so we can see where the TV story goes next.

    Marvel's Runaways is a co-production between Marvel Television and ABC Signature Studios. It is Marvel's first Hulu TV show and it's success could potentially mean more collaborations between Marvel and Hulu.

    For more on what's happening in Marvel's RunawaysSeason 1, check out our episode guide.


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    Marvel's dimension-hopping team returns in April with a movie hook.

    News Jim Dandy
    Jan 8, 2018

    April sees the return of a classic X-adjacent team book in Exiles, with some interesting new additions. The team was originally comprised of mutants from parallel universes, led by Blink from the Age of Apocalypse, on a mission to protect the multiverse. This new team is led by Blink again, but incorporates Iron Lad, Lil Wolvie, a Kamala Khan from what looks to be Akira's Neo-Tokyo, and a Valkyrie based on Tessa Thompson's character from the surprise hit Thor: Ragnarok.

    The creators attached to the book are Saladin Ahmed (Black Bolt) and Javier Rodriguez (Spider-Woman), and that is a killer creative team. Black Bolt is Ahmed's first comics work, and its treatment of the silent title character as well as surprise breakout character Crusher Creel has been terrific, and his novel Throne of the Crescent Moon was a delightful fantasy read. Rodriguez was arguably the best artist on a Marvel book in 2016 on Spider-Woman, and later killed it on Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme and Royals. 

    The original Exiles was created by Judd Winnick and Mike McKone, who returns to do covers for this volume. The book followed AoA Blink and a semi-rotating cast of characters that at various times included a Warpath who had been made into a Horseman of Apocalypse; Nocturne, the daughter of Nightcrawler and the Scarlet Witch; a Namora who had conquered her Earth; a militarized, Hellion version of Kitty Pryde; and literally 50 different versions of Wolverine. Its premise was basically What If...You Actually Cared About The Characters In A What If Comic? They would jump from world to world, fixing problems only they knew about and could solve, often losing members in the process. So basically Suicide Squad meets The Cross-Time Caper.

    The series ran for 100 issues before being cancelled. A version of Blink has been recently seen in the pages of Cable. For some preview art of the new, movie-inspired (but not the actual movie version, according to Ahmed) Valkyrie, keep scrolling. For more on this book, or Exiles from any reality adjacent to our own, stick with Den of Geek!


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    20th Century Fox and Deadpool director are developing a Kitty Pryde movie in the studio's X-Men universe.

    News David Crow
    Jan 9, 2018

    Whatever may or may not happen when the Disney-Fox deal concludes its long regulatory review process, it appears to matter little to the development side of 20th Century Fox, which seems to be proceeding with business as usual, including in the development of yet another X-Men spinoff, this one starring Kitty Pryde, aka Shadowcat. Further, in news that should intrigue fans, the project—which would still be in its early stages—has Deadpool’s Tim Miller attached as a potential director.

    Indeed, the news comes via Collider, which reports that Miller has been developing a Kitty Pryde movie at Fox for some time as producer, and is leaving the door open to also direct the film. This might come as a surprise to some fans who are already anticipating what X-Men in Disney and Marvel Studios’ Marvel Cinematic Universe could look like, however Fox has a number of X-films in various stages of production. This year alone has a proper X-Men sequel, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, and two X-spinoffs, Deadpool 2 and New Mutants, scheduled for release. Channing Tatum’s long-gestating Gambit, meanwhile, seems on course to make its Feb. 14, 2019 release date while Drew Goddard is also hard at work developing an X-Force film that will build off the Deadpool films.

    Kitty Pryde also is an intriguing choice for a film. First introduced in Uncanny X-Men #129 (1980), and created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, Kitty Pryde was initially the little sister sidekick of the older, more popular X-Men. She in particularly struck up a sibling-like relationship with fan favorite Wolverine in a dynamic that would be duplicated throughout comic and mutant media lore as Kitty grew older, and Logan would again take on this paternal relationship with Jubilee in X-Men: The Animated Series and Rogue in the early X-Men films directed by Bryan Singer. Kitty herself grew into one of the most beloved mutants, coming into adulthood and eventually becoming a team leader of the mutants.

    Kitty’s mutant powers include the abilities to “phase” through solid objects (walk through walls and people’s bodies alike) and has already appeared in two X-Men movies, X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), as played by Ellen Page. It is unclear whether the Oscar nominated actress would be asked to reprise her role in a potential Kitty Pryde movie, but given her popularity with fans, it is not inconceivable, albeit Miller already recast (the far less renowned) Colossus role in Deadpool.

    However, Miller’s involvement should give fans a clue as to how potentially far off this project remains. Currently, Miller is also developing a Sonic the Hedgehog movie at Paramount where he is also directing yet another Terminator reboot for the studio, which is due out in 2019. Projects in development have not been greenlit for official production, and given Miller’s commitments, it is entirely possible that if he is intending to direct this movie, it would not get into further stages of development until after the potential approval of a partial Disney-Fox merger, in which case the fate of this project becomes even more nebulous.

    Still, despite Miller’s awkward exit from Deadpool 2, he nevertheless led the first movie to become the most successful X-related movie ever in 2016’s Deadpool and shows a great affinity for the mutant universe. If he is interested in a Kitty Pryde movie, studios and fans alike should have good reason to also at least consider one too.


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    The book series, based on the adventures of Sherlock Holme's 14-year-old sister, spans six novels.

    News Kayti Burt
    Jan 9, 2018

    Strangers Things standout Millie Bobby Brown has a new role on her agenda. According to Deadline, Brown will be starring in and producing a film series based on TheEnola Holmes Mysteries novel series for Legendary Entertainment.

    The Enola Holmes Mysteries are a series of novels from Nancy Springer that follow Sherlock Holmes' much younger sister Enola as she takes on her own cases. The 14-year-old detective has appeared in six novels so far, starting with The Case of the Missing Marquess, which sees Enola running away to London following the disappearance of her mother and her brothers' plans to send her to boarding school. There, she runs into Inspector Lestrade and is pulled into a case about a missing Viscount.

    The project seems like a great opportunity for Brown to do something different from her Stranger Things role, or even her upcoming role in the Godzilla sequel. While there have been multiple Sherlock Holmes stories on the screen in the past few years, The Enola Holmes Mysteries are something different. With Brown, one of the most promising and charismatic actors of her generation, at the helm, this could be a big series for Legendary and for Brown.

    More news as we hear it.


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    Did your favorite magical boarding school book make the list?

    The ListsKayti Burt
    Jan 9, 2018

    Beneath the Sugar Sky, the third novella in Seanan McGuire's excellent Wayward Children series, is out this week, giving me the perfect opportunity to write about one of my favorite fantasy subgenres: the magical boarding school story.

    Here are nine fantasy books that use the magical boarding school setting to help tell their story...

    [Note: The featured image comes from Beneath the Sugar Sky's gorgeous illustrations, done by Rovina Cai. Check out more of Cai's work for the Wayward Children series over at Tor.

    Wayward Children by Seanan McGuire

    The novellas ofWayward Children, the series from Seanan McGuire, are examples of smart, affecting fantasy stories that both tells its own story and uses that story to comment on the genre in clever, subversive ways.

    In the first book, Every Heart a Doorway, we meet the children and adults at Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, a place children returning from a fantasy adventure to help acclimate back to life in our reality. (Narnia's Pevensies or Wonderland's Alice would be great candidates, for example.) When children start to turn up murdered, the children have a mystery to solve.

    The second installment, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, tells the story of Jack and Jill—how they ended up in their fantasy world, and what led to them getting kicked out. The third installment, Beneath the Sugar Sky, returns to Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children for a new story. All of the novellas work as standalones, but can also be read together.

    Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

    Carry On, the standalone follow-up to Rainbow Rowell'sFangirl, is another example of recent fantasy that has some things to say about the stalwarts of fantasy literature. In Carry On's case, the work it comments on and critiques is Harry Potter, and it's the perfect read for anyone who grew up reading the fantasy classics, but who wants to lovingly critique the story as an adult.

    Carry On is the story of Simon Snow, a young wizard at his final year at Watford School of Magicks. Simon is The Chosen One, but he's not very good at it—unable to control his powers and desperate to do so to curb the magic-stealing villain with his face who keeps causing trouble. It doesn't help that his girlfriend recently broke up with him or that his roommate/nemesis/possible vampire Baz is nowhere to be found. His absence is very distracting.

    This book is a delightful subversion of the Chosen One narrative, giving the story not just to Simon, but to Baz and witches Agatha and Penelope to tell. It's a queer love story. It's meta-commentary on Harry Potter and fan culture. And it follows the best of fanfiction tropes (meant here and always as a total compliment) to tell its story.

    You'll start Carry On by trying to figure out which characters equate to which Harry Potter characters. By the end of this book, you'll realize that this is a story worth loving all on its own.

    Among Others by Jo Walton

    Real talk? I haven't read this one yet, but Jo Walton is brilliant, so I feel confident recommending it to fans of magical boarding school literature (even if both its magical and its boarding school elements are more subtle and complicated than other entries on this list).

    Among Others tells the story of Mori, a young woman raised by her magical mother in Wales. When her mother begins to use dark magic, Mori is forced to confront her in magical battle, which ends with Mori's twin sister dead and Mori with a disability.

    Mori goes to live with her father, whom she barely knows, and is sent to a nearby girls' boarding school. Struggling to live in a world largely without magic, Mori dives into science fiction and fantasy literature, reading many of the genres' classics. A book about trauma and stories, Walton writes: "There are some awful things in the world, it's true, but there are also some great books."

    Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

    Better than the underrated Vampire Academy movie adapted from it, the Vampire Academy book series is the gloriously not-Twilight of the young adult vampire fiction world.

    The six-part Vampire Academy series follows vampire best friends Moroi princess Lissa Dragomir and her bodyguard-in-training Rose Hathaway. After two years on the run, the girls are returned to St. Vladimir's Academy, where they are forced to be separated into their respective training tracks. However, unbeknownst to the instructors and students at the academy, Lissa and Rose share a psychic bond that keeps them connected even when they are apart.

    The first book follows Rose and Lissa's reacclimation into the interpersonal drama of school, as well as the growing danger vampire royalty Lissa faces from the Strigoi, an evil race of vampires. These books are more supernatural school than magical boarding school, but this series is so addicting, I doubt you'll care about the fine print.

    All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

    The Hugo-nominated book from the co-founder of io9 Charlie Jane Anders, All the Birds in the Sky follows childhood friends Patricia and Laurence, who are reconnected as adults after years apart. Both living in San Francisco, Laurence is a genius engineer working to avert the imminent disaster caused by global climate change and Patricia is a magician working to repair the some of the problems caused by this deteriating world.

    The magical boarding school elements of the novel (Patricia attends a boarding school for the magically gifted) are not the main setting, but this book is too good not to mention. A melding of science fiction and fantasy, All the Birds in the Sky is a beautifully-written novel that takes the all-too-familiar pre-apocalyptic structure and imbues it with a sense of hope and wonder that never downplays the very real, relatable problems its characters have to face.

    The Magicians by Lev Grossman

    You may be familiar with the excellent Syfy TV adaptation of The Magicians, but have you read the book trilogy its based on? Unlike the majority (though not all) books on our list, The Magicians doesn't follow children or teens, but rather 20-somethings as they navigate what is basically magical graduate school.

    The protagonist of our story is Quentin Coldwater and—unlike the TV adaptation, which, perhaps by the nature of TV drama, expands the viewpoint almost immediately—the books are very closely tied to Quentin's journey and perceptions. In the first book, in particular, this can make for a challenging read, as Quentin is purposefully a bit of a self-involved whiner, someone who does not understand that to live in one's favorite escapist fantasy story is a lot less fun in reality.

    Over the course of the series, Quentin goes from being a student at Brakebills to returning as a teacher, giving us a more complete perspective of its magical boarding school setting. Extra points!

    A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin

    A Wizard of Earthsea is a fantasy classic. Published in 1968, the story takes place on the fictional archipelago of Earthsea, a land of both humans and dragons, and follows young mage Ged as he heads to a school of wizardry and beyond. While at the school, Ged clashes with a fellow mage and inadvertently releases a shadow creature during a duel. The novel follows Ged's efforts to rid himself of the dark creature.

    A Wizard of Earthsea is a classic coming-of-age fantasy novel, as Ged must overcome the arrogance of his great power to learn humility and the responsibilities of power. The series quickly moves beyond magical boarding school, telling a much broader story. The Earthsea books span a trilogy, two more novels, and a short story collection, and they are essential for any fantasy lover.

    Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling

    So, there's this kid named Harry Potter and he lives with his terrible, abusive relatives named the Dursleys. When Harry turns 11, he finds out that he is a wizard and he has a spot at a magical boarding school waiting for him. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is the home Harry has always lacked. While there, he makes friends like Ron, Hermione, and Hagrid, and learns about his magical powers and identity. He finds a place to belong.

    The seven-part series follows Harry's adventures as he furthers his magical education, grows up, and fights the second-coming of Lord Voldemort, the evil wizard who killed his parents and tried to kill Harry when he was just a babe. If you're never read Harry Potter, there's no time like the present! I'm a big fan of the recently-released The Cursed Child, which continues Harry's story into adulthood, as Harry struggles to be a good father to middle child Albus. (Wait to see it on stage, if possible!)

    The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

    The first book in the Kingkiller Chronicles series just celebrated its 10th anniversary and it's never looked better. Like A Wizard of Earthsea, much of The Name of the Wind doesn't take place at a magical boarding school, but that shouldn't keep you from diving into this modern fantasy classic, if you haven't already—especially now that it is being adapted into a series by Showtime, with an assist from fan Lin-Manuel Miranda.

    The Name of the Wind is "Day One" of The Kingkiller Chronicle series, telling the story of musican/magician Kvothe in two separate timelines. Narrated by the older Kvothe to Chronicler, we learn of Kvothe's tragic childhood as an orphan, beggar, and pickpocket following the murder of his family. From there, Kvothe manages to secure a spot at a magical university, the seat of all accumulated knowledge and a place where he might find more information about the Chandrian, the mysterious group of beings who killed his family. 

    Come for the magical boarding school, stay for this lovingly-constructed fantasy world. But, be warned, we're still waiting for the third and final installment in the trilogy.

    What are your favorite fantasy books set at magical boarding schools? Let us know in the comments below, and come talk all things books with us over at the Den of Geek Book Club!


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