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- 01/22/18--11:15: _The History of Robo...
- 01/22/18--21:42: _The Prisoner: Jack ...
- 01/23/18--13:30: _Lost Superman Story...
- 01/23/18--15:33: _The Brothers Dracul...
- 01/23/18--17:56: _The Best Serial Fic...
- 01/23/18--18:09: _Starlings by Jo Wal...
- 01/24/18--19:49: _Margaret Atwood's M...
- 01/25/18--10:00: _The Many Deaths of ...
- 01/25/18--11:45: _43 Canceled Star Wa...
- 01/25/18--17:53: _Brie Larson's Capta...
- 01/25/18--20:15: _X-Men: Dark Phoenix...
- 01/26/18--12:01: _New Batman Costume ...
- 01/26/18--15:21: _Gotham Has Recast t...
- 01/26/18--16:45: _Stephen King's The ...
- 01/26/18--20:16: _Justice League: No ...
- 01/28/18--18:53: _Concert for George ...
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- 01/29/18--18:30: _Betty & Veronica: V...
- 01/29/18--20:56: _Valiant Entertainme...
- 01/22/18--11:15: The History of RoboCop Comics
- 01/22/18--21:42: The Prisoner: Jack Kirby's Lost Adaptation Resurfaces
- 01/23/18--13:30: Lost Superman Story From Original Creators Surfaces
A new cover by legendary artist and DC Publisher Jim Lee
Text pieces including: an editor’s note by Paul Levitz, a tribute to ACTION COMICS by Laura Siegel Larson (daughter of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel), an introduction by Jules Feiffer, plus essays by Tom DeHaven (“It’s Superman!”), David Hajdu (“The Ten-Cent Plague”), Larry Tye (“Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero”) and Gene Luen Yang (SUPERMAN, NEW SUPER-MAN and the National Book Award finalist “American Born Chinese”)
“The Coming of Superman,” from ACTION COMICS #1, written by Jerry Siegel with art by Joe Shuster
“Revolution in San Monte,” from ACTION COMICS #2, written by Jerry Siegel with art by Joe Shuster
“The Terrible Toyman!,” from ACTION COMICS #64, written by Don Cameron with art by Ed Dobrotka and George Roussos, featuring the debut of Toyman
“The Super-Key to Fort Superman,” from ACTION COMICS #241, written by Jerry Coleman with art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye, featuring the first appearance of the Fortress of Solitude
“The Super-Duel in Space,” from ACTION COMICS #242, written by Otto Binder with art by Al Plastino, featuring the debut of Brainiac
“The Supergirl from Krypton!,” from ACTION COMICS #252, written by Otto Binder with art by Al Plastino, featuring the debut of Supergirl
“The World’s Greatest Heroine!,” from ACTION COMICS #285, written by Jerry Siegel with art by Jim Mooney
“The Superman Super-Spectacular!,” from ACTION COMICS #309, written by Edmond Hamilton with art by Curt Swan and George Klein, featuring an appearance by President John F. Kennedy
“Superman Takes a Wife,” from ACTION COMICS #484, written by Cary Bates with art by Curt Swan and Joe Giella
“If Superman Didn’t Exist…” from ACTION COMICS #554, written by Marv Wolfman with art by Gil Kane
“The Game,” a new original story written by Paul Levitz with art by Neal Adams
“Squatter,” from ACTION COMICS #584, written by John Byrne with art by Byrne and Dick Giordano
“Ma Kent’s Photo Album,” from ACTION COMICS #655, written by Roger Stern with art by Kerry Gammill and Dennis Janke
“Secrets in the Night,” from ACTION COMICS #662, written by Roger Stern with art by Bob McLeod
“A Hero’s Journey,” from ACTION COMICS #800, written by Joe Kelly with art by Pasqual Ferry, Duncan Rouleau, Lee Bermejo and others
“The Boy Who Stole Superman’s Cape,” from ACTION COMICS #0, written by Grant Morrison with art by Ben Oliver
“The Mystery of the Freight Train Robberies,” from ACTION COMICS #1, written by Fred Guardineer with art by Guardineer, featuring the debut of Zatara
“The Origin of the Vigilante,” from ACTION COMICS #42, written by Mort Weisinger with art by Mort Meskin, featuring the debut of the Vigilante
“The Assassin-Express Contract!,” from ACTION COMICS #419, written by Len Wein with art by Carmine Infantino and Dick Giordano, featuring the debut of the Human Target
- 01/23/18--15:33: The Brothers Dracul Comic Recounts the Count’s Origin Story
- 01/23/18--17:56: The Best Serial Fiction You Should Be Reading
- 01/23/18--18:09: Starlings by Jo Walton Book Review
- 01/24/18--19:49: Margaret Atwood's MaddAddams Trilogy to Be Made Into TV Show
- 01/25/18--10:00: The Many Deaths of Wolverine
- 01/25/18--11:45: 43 Canceled Star Wars Projects
- 01/25/18--17:53: Brie Larson's Captain Marvel Costume Looks Awesome
- 01/25/18--20:15: X-Men: Dark Phoenix Lands Hans Zimmer as Composer
- 01/26/18--12:01: New Batman Costume Revealed
- 01/26/18--15:21: Gotham Has Recast the Scarecrow
- 01/26/18--20:16: Justice League: No Justice Sets Up Future of DC Universe
- 01/28/18--18:53: Concert for George Photography Book Captures Iconic Images
- 01/29/18--10:38: The Flash War Sets Up Major Changes for Wally West
- 01/29/18--13:21: Xerxes: First Look at Frank Miller's 300 Sequel
- 01/29/18--18:30: Betty & Veronica: Vixens Takes Riverdale on the Road
- 01/29/18--20:56: Valiant Entertainment Sold to DMG
For decades, RoboCop has been featured under five different publishers with a huge variety of stories. What worked and what didn't?
Regaining his composure and fixing his tie, The Old Man addresses the cyborg that saved his life. “Nice shootin’, son. What’s your name?”
With a smirk, RoboCop turns and tells him, “Murphy.” Roll credits.
And there ends RoboCop, one of the most solid movies of the '80s. Filled with action, satire, awesome practical effects, and style. It was no surprise that they would try to follow it up with spinoffs. There would be sequels, an eventual reboot, video games, cartoons, a live-action series, and so on. There ended up being a ton of comics over the years, spanning 30 years with five different publishers and over 100 issues.
It makes sense that there would be so many RoboCopcomics. The first movie was a fantastic superhero origin story. He’s ROM: Spaceknight mixed with Judge Dredd and there’s a lot of mileage you can get out of that. At the same time, it’s such a fantastic movie that it’s widely felt that the sequels don’t measure up. After RoboCop 3 came out and bombed, the comics suddenly went from being promotional tie-ins to being a series of attempts by different creative teams to go, “Wait, no! I think I can do better!”
The character is well-traveled and his different homes have given us many different types of stories. Some are excellent. Some are outright terrible. Let’s take a look at Alex Murphy’s panelized history and its never-ending supply of ED-209s.
Warning, there will be some spoilers ahead, but I’ll try to hold back when I can.
MARVEL COMICS (1987-1992)
In 1987, Marvel released a black-and-white adaptation of RoboCopthat was available for $2. I’d buy that for half the price, but that’s just me reaching for a tired punchline. Written by Bob Harris with art by Javier Saltares and Alan Kupperberg, it’s mostly what you’d expect. The movie is retold in 48 pages in the '80s Marvel style.
In other words, it isn’t so R-rated.
You know how it goes. Blood splatter is blackened out and the more violent deaths are in the shadows. That whole bit where Anne Lewis corners a goon while he’s taking a leak and he momentarily distracts her with his wang is absent.
“Ladies, I’d leave if I were you.” Man, I don’t know. It doesn’t have the same ring to it.
For the most part, it’s the same story. Honest cop is killed by criminals, gets remade as a cold-hearted cyborg, gradually regains his humanity, and gets revenge and attains justice. There are differences, though. There’s an intro scene where Clarence Boddicker and his gang shoot a bunch of police officers. Boddicker notices that one is still alive and mentions how he must be losing his touch. He warns the cop that he wants his kind off his back, but then the cop finally dies and he shrugs it off. “Hmm... Looks like I ain’t lost my touch after all.”
Everyone looks how they’re supposed to except Emil (he's the guy that got turned into a toxic mutant), who looks less like Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and more like the Marlboro Man. Otherwise, changes include RoboCop having a bit more agility and an epilogue that has RoboCop standing vigilant on a rooftop because this is a Marvel comic in the 1980s.
Several years later, they would rerelease the comic in color form as setup for the new RoboCopongoing series. The title would last for 23 issues – the longest of any RoboCop run – and is almost cut in half in terms of tone. The first ten issues are by Alan Grant. #11 is a very strong fill-in story by Evan Skolnik, and issues #12 to #23 are by Simon Furman. Most of the art is by Lee Sullivan with later issues done by Herb Trimpe and Andrew Wildman.
The Alan Grant run starts off a little off-model from the first page when we see a street punk riding a hovering motorcycle. While Marvel’s RoboCopdoesn’t take place in the Marvel universe, it sure feels like it the way Grant goes a little too deep into science fiction technology. You have flying cars, cloned dinosaurs, and all sorts of robots.
Like this guy:
Regardless, the comics are good fun. They aren’t must-read, but they’re good for what they are. The characterization is on-point, the art is strong, and it not only holds onto the movie’s satirical nature, but it uses it to push the story forward. For the entire series, commercials and news broadcasts would bring up weird stuff off-hand and a few issues later it would come into play as part of the plot. Like how there’s a quick commercial for a television you put inside your head. Several issues later, RoboCop begins the story shooting down a man who believes he’s in the wild west and he turns out to be one of many driven insane by the television brain thing.
Also of note are Grant’s final two issues, where Detroit is overtaken by a fad of people becoming masked vigilantes. The whole thing pokes fun at superheroes and has such a nonchalant bodycount by the end that you’d think Garth Ennis wrote it. Hell, it even features Beer Gut Man, who is like the prototype for Ennis’ Six-Pack.
Around this time, Marvel released the adaptation of RoboCop 2, by Alan Grant and Mark Bagley. Again, it was first released in black and white, then rereleased in color, though the color version was made into a three issue miniseries. This one is closer to the source than the first book and certainly flows better than the movie. For one, you don’t go about a half hour without even seeing RoboCop. The bit about Murphy’s wife being written out happens far later in the story, but other than that, it’s about the same.
I will say, one interesting thing is Cain’s design. Unlike the movie, Cain is shown to be wearing circular black sunglasses, a long coat, and a top hat, which is not only a better, more striking look, but it’s also how he looks in the NES game.
No matter how good the adaptation, it still suffers from being RoboCop 2, a movie that’s filled with good ideas and good scenes, but is completely all over the place and refuses to become a cohesive product. But you know what? It could have been much, much worse. You'll see why soon enough.
The Marvel ongoing would mention the events of RoboCop 2 offhand during Furman’s run and let me tell you, Furman’s run is awesome. Really, instead of Frank Miller, they should have just had Simon Furman write the second and third movies by adapting it from his comic run. His first four issues would have made a perfect sequel. With RoboCop being such a success and it being so hard to just have a prime cop corpse fall on your lap like in RoboCop’s origin, OCP secretly starts kidnapping people so that they can lobotomize them and make them into RoboCops. RoboCop stumbles upon this and is both horrified and feels guilty, knowing that his own existence has ruined so many lives.
It basically takes the great “Introducing RoboCop 2!” suicides bit from the second movie and writes a story around it. A really good story. Also really good is an arc called "Mind Bomb" where a drooling, borderline catatonic young man ends up in the police precinct, figured to be a mugging victim. Instead, he’s some kind of creepy, unexplained, malevolent psychic that slowly drives anyone nearby mad with negative emotions, including RoboCop. The final confrontation between the two is extremely dark for an early '90s Marvel comic and deserves a look.
Furman’s run ends just a little too early in that there are a couple of plot threads that never get wrapped up. Lewis’ late-husband turns out to be alive, but it’s never really expanded on and the villain behind it gets away and is never mentioned again. There’s a widow-based villainess who kind of vanishes from the story.
Still, the comic ends on a strong note that’s both badass and bittersweet, reminiscent of how Grant Morrison’s lengthy Batmanrun ended. While the movie has RoboCop come to terms with his humanity, the latter half of Furman’s run is about RoboCop coming to terms with his robotic side and his duty. There’s a brief period where he mentally sheds his programming and becomes 100% Murphy, but he has to turn his back on it, as well as the possibilities of being with his family because it would only lead to disaster.
Coincidentally, a failed pitch for the RoboCopcomic would become a series that would reintroduce Marvel concept Deathlok. The difference is that after a year or so of being elusive, Deathlok is able to reconnect with his family and tries to make it work. He also has the similar drawback of only being able to ingest baby food.
DARK HORSE (1992-1994)
The Dark Horse comics take on RoboCop is notable for being the only continuity where RoboCop 3happened. That obviously wasn’t an option for Marvel since it wasn’t out at the time, but because RoboCop 3 was considered a mistake before it even hit theaters, later publishers would totally ignore it.
It’s also worth noting that RoboCop 3 is a movie that was delayed about a year and that kind of makes the Dark Horse comics a bit screwy. Namely in the way that there is absolutely no sign of Anne Lewis in any comic outside of the eventual adaptation and instead we get Dr. Marie Lazarus as RoboCop's closest associate. Anyone reading between the lines would realize that Officer Lewis wouldn’t be making it out of the movie trilogy alive.
Dark Horse would start off with a bang via Frank Miller and Walt Simonson’s RoboCop vs. Terminator. I’m not lying when I say that this is one of my all-time favorite comics and easily my favorite work by Miller, Dark Knight Returns included. The basic idea is that the catalyst for SkyNet becoming sentient is that it connected to RoboCop and learned it from him. The last survivor of the human race, a female soldier named Flo, goes back in time to kill Alex Murphy. SkyNet sends Terminators back in time to stop her from succeeding.
The only real drawback of the book is how it’s pretty one-sided on the RoboCophalf of the crossover. John Connor and the rest of his family are completely absent with John getting only a brief mention. It probably wouldn’t have worked as well otherwise, but it does seem to trivialize the first two Terminator movies when Connor is ultimately a failure.
The miniseries has some amazingly badass moments, including a battle between two ED-209s and a T-800. Then things come to a head in the war-torn future where we have an army of jetpacked RoboCops with an Alex Murphy hivemind taking it to an army of Terminators.
Another nice thing about the book is the ending and how it subverts nearly every other Terminatorcomic. Terminatorcomics always seem to have the same ending. SkyNet is defeated! The day is saved! Evil robots will never threaten us ever again! ...OR WILL THEY?! It’s such a tired trope. Even though most of those comics would come out later, Miller is ahead of the curve by taking that concept and perfectly turning it on its head, giving us one of the better endings in comic history.
So yeah, if you haven’t read RoboCop vs. Terminator, get on that. Do yourself a favor. Unfortunately, for every good there must be an evil and with this outstanding Terminatorcrossover, the scales would have to balance via a really terrible Terminatorcrossover. We’ll cross that bridge later.
Dark Horse wouldn’t give RoboCopan ongoing series, but would instead do a handfull of miniseries. A couple of them would have prologues done in the pages of Dark Horse Comics. Dark Horse Comics #1-3set up the events for RoboCop: Prime Suspect while issues #6-9set up RoboCop: Mortal Coils.
Prime Suspect by John Arcudi and John Paul Leon is easily the best Dark Horse RoboCopcomic outside of the Terminatorcrossover. The story has to do with a harsh critic of RoboCop being gunned down with a gun that only RoboCop can wield. RoboCop escapes capture and tries to find out who framed him for murder, but finds that he can’t even trust Dr. Lazarus.
The art might be a bit off-putting for some, but I like it. The ending is a bit confusing, setting up for something that doesn’t seem to ever pay off, but otherwise it’s a good time.
A few months later, we’d get Mortal Coils by Steven Grant and Nick Gnazzo. This would be the first of many RoboCop comics written by Steven Grant. It goes into expanding the world of RoboCopoutside of Detroit. We know what futuristic Detroit is like, but what about Philadelphia and Denver? RoboCop goes to Denver and gets sucked into a plot involving corrupt cops, a tech-obsessed anti-hero named Hooks (whose design is overwhelmingly '90s), an evil and elderly businessman named Edward Agincourt, and some criminals led by a dude named Coffin. Coffin is essentially the Undertaker with a laser cannon.
The core part of the plot is so simple that it’s a surprise it took so long for it to show up in a RoboCop comic. Agincourt is on his last legs and he wants Dr. Lazarus to give him the RoboCop treatment and make him immortal. Kind of like in that Mr. Freeze episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It’s an idea that will get used again in another comic, but it’s done really well here, leading to a horrible and fitting end where Agincourt gets a bit of a monkey's paw answer to his wish.
Steven Grant and Hoang Nguyen would work together to give us a three-issue adaptation of RoboCop 3. RoboCop 3 is a movie that I don’t hate quite as much as everyone else and I consider at the very least better than RoboCop 2 due to having an actual coherent narrative. Sure, it’s cheesy, has a PG-13 rating, and features a little girl hacking an ED-209 in the first five minutes, but it has its charm.
The comic does kind of rush through things. One of the better moments of the movie to me is when RoboCop is talking to Nikko and realizes through his data files that unbeknownst to her, her parents are dead. Then he handles it through careful explanation where he doesn’t mention their fates, but comforts her by letting her know that they’ll never be truly gone. It’s one of the film's better character moments. Here, they just power through the moment in two panels.
By the way, that makes the ending of RoboCop 3 really awkward because with the good guys having won, Nikko is probably really close to finding out about her parents.
The book does have a couple good lines that didn’t make it into the final cut of the movie. Like how Rip Torn’s CEO character has no name in the movie, but here he’s identified as Mr. Morton. When he goes on a rant about how worthless RoboCop is, he wonders aloud whose idiotic idea that was. Johnson meekly responds, “Uh...your late son developed that project, Mr. Morton.” Cute.
Also, when the two ninja cyborgs attack RoboCop at the end, McDaggett says, “No jokes about them all looking the same now. That’d be terribly offensive.” I can see why that got cut.
The last Dark Horse RoboCopcomic would be RoboCop: Rouletteby John Arcudi and Mitch Byrd. Of all the RoboCopcomics out there, it’s probably the most boring. There are a bunch of unlikeable characters tossed in there and a threat that never really clicks. The one redeeming factor is the ending. One of the major characters is one of the scientists responsible for RoboCop’s creation and we see that he’s genuinely haunted by what he’s done because of how human RoboCop is. If he was just a machine with living brain tissue like intended, he’d be able to sleep at night, but the fact that Murphy is in there and has held onto his humanity makes the scientist feel like a monster.
“I can see it in his eyes. He remembers who he was, and is repulsed by what he’s become. My God, listen to me. Here I am, horrified to learn that we used ‘too much’ of Alex Murphy when we built RoboCop – and yet I’m praying that, somehow, there’s enough human in there for him to forgive me.”
With that deflating comic done with, RoboCop wouldn’t make another print appearance for almost a decade.
AVATAR PRESS (2003-2006)
Let’s get this over with.
On paper, Avatar had what seemed like a brilliant comic. Frank Miller’s RoboCop. Frank Miller always hated how his screenplay for RoboCop 2was altered several times over. Hollywood considered his original script unfilmable and unusable. What better use of the comic medium than letting one of the kings use it to show off what he really had in mind? Hell, the dude wrote RoboCop vs. Terminator!
Starting in 2003, Miller would oversee the project, though he wouldn’t be the one writing it. Instead, Steven Grant would return to adapt Miller’s screenplay with Juan Jose Ryp doing the art. Frank Miller’s RoboCop would be told via nine issues over the course of three years due to some crazy delays.
To call this series a mess would be an understatement. If you thought Frank Miller would work better without a filter, you’re in for a rude awakening. It’s like watching the Spike TV episodes of Ren & Stimpyor Vince Russo’s World Championship Wrestling. Miller’s "pure" take has zero mention of Cain, his cronies, or his drugs, but it does feature a handful of aspects that were used in RoboCop 3, such as the Rehab mercenaries taking over for the police in Detroit and the idea of OCP callously destroying the homes of innocent people.
One of the main Rehab soldiers is a pretty blatant copy of Frank Miller’s Marvel supervillain Nuke. He ends up being the guy who becomes the guinea pig for RoboCop 2 since there’s no Cain in the story. That makes it all the more interesting that Cain’s big drug in the movie was called Nuke. I have to imagine that’s not a coincidence.
The main villain is Dr. Margaret Love, who is more or less Dr. Juliette Faxx from RoboCop 2 with a different name. Remember that five minute segment in RoboCop 2 when Faxx has RoboCop reprogrammed to be a better role model? That’s Love’s deal here. She's obsessed with him becoming what she thinks children should look up to. It’s not the worst idea, but it’s done pretty badly. She’s just a terribly-written character in general, over-sexualized so hard that it makes your eyes roll.
Like, when you look at it, the movies didn’t really sexualize the main female roles. Sure, there were strippers and prostitutes and stuff, but the major female characters came out all right. There was nothing overtly sexualized about Lewis (though to be fair, the Marvel series did give her a couple cheesecake moments). Dr. Faxx had a sexual relationship with The Old Man to help climb up the corporate ladder and get her way, but it was never portrayed as over-the-top. Even Dr. Lazarus spent the entirety of RoboCop 3 in frumpy mom jeans.
Here, though? Look at what they’ve done to Lewis.
She spends about half of the comic in torn outfits with her breasts and underwear constantly hanging out. It’s kind of awful, made worse by the Avatar Press house style where everything looks like chunks of bloody barf. Not joking, reading this comic made me physically nauseous. So even if comic book women in low-cut outfits constantly picking up dropped pencils is your thing, the art still makes it a challenge to actually find it erotic.
I also feel the comic goes over the line on the whole dystopian thing to the point that it’s no longer fun, but just mean-spirited. I don’t know. Saying it’s 90 degrees in the shade in December because of global warming hits me as trying too hard to be dire. That, and rape is brought up every five pages.
The one good thing I can say about the book is the ending because it comes up with a promising direction for RoboCop himself instead of just sticking to the status quo. Although the details are different, RoboCop’s programming purges all of his many directives like in RoboCop 2. The movie forgets about this, but in the comic, once RoboCop has taken out RoboCop 2 (which has Dr. Love’s mind in it during the climax and speaks like a dominatrix because Frank Miller), he just goes off to do his own thing. OCP is the enemy and there’s now nothing tethering him to them. He's free. He finds a place to regularly recharge and listens for radio talk of OCP goons going after innocent people, which causes him to spring to action. That’s not bad.
During all of those delays, Avatar released a couple of one-shots. RoboCop: Killing Machine by Steven Grant and Anderson Ricardo and RoboCop: Wild Child by Steven Grant and Carlos Ferriera. Killing Machine is about a teenager trying to hack into RoboCop while Wild Child is about Lewis’ never-before-mentioned sister returning to Detroit to raise hell. These issues aren’t anything special, but aren’t nearly as bad as Frank Miller’s RoboCop. There was going to be a third one-shot called RoboCop: War Party, but that was never released.
Wild Child does have some weird continuity going on. Lewis mentions that she and RoboCop appear to be the only two cops doing anything and says offhand that OCP is gone. That doesn’t really jibe with Frank Miller’s RoboCop or any of the movies, but whatever.
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT (2010-2012)
Dynamite would give us three RoboCopcomics, all written by Rob Williams. The first one is an ongoing that lasts only six issues with art by Fabiano Neves. It takes place after the first movie, opting to completely ignore the sequels. The main villain is Edwina Odenkirk, a woman who pretty much runs OCP while The Old Man is slowly succumbing to old age and dementia, constantly mumbling one-sided conversations as if Dick Jones was both alive and in the room. Odenkirk is basically a charismatic, delightfully scummy, and better-written version of Dr. Love.
This comic is a mixed bag. There are some good ideas and original character concepts, but it gets a bit messy. Like how in the first issue, Odenkirk fires all the cops (sans Robo) and has them all replaced with ED-209s. A good high concept, but as someone points out in a later issue, they’re pretty much worthless when stairs are involved. It’s a quick line that’s never given any thought outside of a little joke despite being kind of a huge plot hole.
Williams does a pretty bang-up job writing all the commercials and news programs. If his run had an actual ending, it would have been a worthy follow-up to the Marvel series. In fact, one of the things it has going for it is that for the first time, RoboCop actually defeats The Old Man. In the movies, The Old Man becomes a full-fledged bad guy in the second movie and gets away scot-free. In the third movie, he’s not even in it. He never really gets what’s coming in the Marvel comic. In Williams’ comic, he actually writes an especially cool scene where RoboCop gets the better of him.
His victory unfortunately leads to a problem where RoboCop goes insane. Figments of dead characters from the first movie like Boddicker, Bob Morton, and Dick Jones start appearing and talking to him all the time.
The series would continue over a year later with the miniseries RoboCop: Road Tripwith art by Unai de Zarate. In it, RoboCop and his allies escape Detroit due to Odenkirk becoming too powerful to the point that not even the US government seems to be able to stop her. Unfortunately, it ends on a cliffhanger right when things are getting interesting. It turns out that OCP isn’t the only corporation that’s been taking over the country. RoboCop finds a possible ally in White (TM), a company run by a young philanthropist who detests OCP’s evil. How the corporate war would have played out is something we’ll never find out as there was never a follow-up series.
In-between those two comics, Williams and PJ Holden gave us the miniseries Terminator/RoboCop: Kill Human. As much as I love RoboCop vs. Terminator, I hate Kill Human to an equal degree. I hate, hate, hate this comic. I hate it even more than Frank Miller’s RoboCop.
To be fair, it does start out okay enough. RoboCop is reactivated in the distant future at the end of the SkyNet war, woken up by the last surviving human. She ends up getting killed. RoboCop reads the files on how this all came to be (which isn’t explained further than “Terminator 2 happened and then nuclear explosions happened anyway”) and then goes back in time to stop it. How he plans to stop it makes zero sense and isn’t even partially explained. Again, it also makes no sense that SkyNet is out to kill John Connor since the Terminators win the war anyway.
Long story short, the comic has RoboCop allow John to get killed by the T-1000 because the ends justifies the means, which is such an out-of-character thing. Plus we don’t know what the “ends” is in this case. The whole comic is half-baked, lacks any logic whatsoever, and gives me a headache.
BOOM! STUDIOS (2013-present)
BOOM! Studios got the license and started it by rereleasing Frank Miller’s RoboCop. Great. They do have a pretty good reason for it, at least. After the rerelease, they followed up with RoboCop: Last Standby Steve Grant and Korkut Oztekin. Again, this is supposed to be a comic adaptation of Frank Miller’s writings, only this time for the script to RoboCop 3. It’s not nearly the trainwreck of Frank Miller’s RoboCop, but it is a strange pile of comic. I do dig the art.
It’s an eight-issue series and the first four issues are pretty straightforward. It’s an alternate telling of RoboCop 3 where the Rehab soldiers aren’t there because they were taken out in the previous story. Granted, there’s still a bunch of evil cop replacements hired by OCP that RoboCop’s up against and it does follow up on the ending from Frank Miller’s RoboCop where he goes rogue. For the most part, it comes off as a grittier, more adult take on the movie’s events. Dr. Lazarus isn’t an OCP employee, but a scientist obsessed with RoboCop’s tech and the way his mind mixes organics with computers.
Dr. Faxx (who is now a separate character from Dr. Love) is one of the main villains and she becomes a close ally to Otomo, the mass-produced Japanese ninja cyborg. Otomo helps her overthrow OCP and even kill The Old Man. Later on, Dr. Faxx gives him a robo-boner.
The fifth issue is when things go flying off the rails. I mean FLYING. The comic goes from “badass revision of RoboCop 3” to “wait, what?” in no time flat. You know that cute little girl from the movie? Yeah, RoboCop picks her up by the hair and punches through her skull. It makes more sense in context, but still, that’s weird.
The final four issues are a mixed bag, but ultimately worth checking out. If anything, the fights between RoboCop and Otomo are a million times better than what we got in the movie. Don’t worry, we still get the bit where he readjusts his jaw. Can’t mess with what worked.
In 2014, BOOM! would tackle the controversial RoboCopreboot. You remember that, right? The movie that was decent, but doomed to be damned by the public no matter what because it was never, ever going to be better than the original? For once, they didn’t do an adaptation of the movie, but did a series of one-shots that take place in its universe, all done by different creative teams. The titles, Hominem Ex Machina, To Live and Die in Detroit, and Memento Mori aren’t much to speak about, but the last story, Beta, is worth reading.
The story by Ed Brisson and Emilio Laiso is a prequel. It’s about the original attempt to create RoboCop using a soldier killed in the Middle East. He ends up sharing more similarities with the Alex Murphy from the original movie in that he’s constantly having nightmares about his death and wants to avenge it, though he doesn’t have the full picture. All he knows is that certain fellow soldiers are giving him the side-eye since coming back from the dead and they were more than likely involved with him dying. The truth turns out to be too much to handle to the point that everything goes horribly wrong and the scientists involved have to sweep everything under the rug.
That brings us to the most recent series written by Joshua Williamson and Dennis Culver with Carlos Magno and Amancay Nahuelpan on art. This is another series that decides that RoboCop 2 never happened, meaning that BOOM! Studios has done three different RoboCop comics in three different continuities over the course of two years. That’s impressive.
The entire story takes place over 12 issues and it's good shit. The series centers around a villain named Killian. He’s a criminal who was in prison for a long while, got out, and sees that he has to compete against RoboCop if he wants to thrive. It just so happens that he’s crafty enough to make it work and tries to use his charisma and political knowhow to turn the city against itself and destroy RoboCop. Plus there's a major revelation about who he truly is.
The ongoing is pretty humorless and doesn’t really give us any fun news bits or commercials, but it’s still great. It’s incredibly intimate, making the characters seem more dimensional and real. Everything’s more down-to-earth, rather than going crazy with sci-fi nonsense. You don’t need hovercrafts and giant robot dogs. Having RoboCop fight two guys in a monster truck works just as well.
And man, if you want some of that R-rated action, the penultimate issue has some gnarly violence going on.
Up next for Murphy is RoboCop: Citizens Arrestin 2018. Brian Wood and Jorge Coelho will tell a story about RoboCop 30 years after the events of the first movie. The public is turned into the police as they're convinced to spy and narc on each other for money. Looks interesting.
Who knows how long the BOOM! Studios agreement lasts? It’s funny how RoboCophas gone from a franchise that got comic tie-ins because of being current at the time to getting comics because it’s become a time-tested nostalgia act. Maybe in another couple of years we’ll see him show up in a DC comic or as part of IDW’s collection. Heh. You know, for a guy known for sticking around Detroit so much, RoboCop really does get around.
Gavin Jasper is proud that he got to use the term “robo-boner.” Follow him on Twitter!
Ready for 17 pages of Jack Kirby art you've probably never seen? And another 18 by Gil Kane? The Prisoner Original Art Edition is coming.
Once upon a time, there was an amazing TV series called The Prisoner.
The UK TV series imagined a secret agent approximately as dour as Daniel Craig's James Bond (and equally as effective) who suddenly resigns for reasons unknown. He soon wakes up in The Village, an island "paradise" where everything is eerily pleasant and all his needs will be catered to...as long he gives them "information." Needless to say, this mysterious secret agent, who goes by the name Number Six during his stay, isn't particularly interested in telling them anything, and the folks in charge of the Village do whatever they can to make his life miserable until he cooperates.
Titan Comics has had the license for The Prisoner for a little while now, and announced a new comic series late in 2017. But along with that license comes some legendary unseen comics work from some of the greatest talents of the 20th Century. There are 17 pages of a Jack Kirby drawn Prisoner story (the first six pages were inked and lettered by Mike Royer, generally considered to be among Kirby's finest collaboraters) and an additional 18 pages drawn by Gil Kane, all with a script by Steve Englehart.
A search of the internet will likely get you a preview of some of the Royer-inked Kirby pages, but the full story has never seen the light of day, and certainly not married to the Gil Kane pencils, as well. This is a big deal for fans of all three of these creators. You can pre-order it on Amazon.
The Prisoner: Jack Kirby and Gil Kane Art Edition will be "art sized" which should put it at the scale of IDW's incredible line of Artist's Editions, essentially the size of original comic art itself. Titan promises "unmissable bonus archive material including facismiles of the original script as written by Steve Englehart."
Titan's The Prisoner: Jack Kirby and Gil Kane Art Edition will arrive later this year.
A Superman story from Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster will see the light of day in Action Comics #1000.
April is going to be a big month for Superman fans. The publication of Action Comics #1000 is getting suitable fanfare from DC Comics. For one thing, it's going to feature the return of Superman's red trunks to his costume. For another, it has a ridiculous, all-star lineup of talent (including Superman: The Movie director Richard Donner) contributing to it.
But there will be a deluxe edition of Action Comics #1000 as well, which will feature material not available in the already hefty "regular" version. Action Comics #1000: 80 Years of Superman is a 384 page hardcover that will feature a stack of essays and bonus stories highlighting some of the greatest moments in Superman history, all edited by Paul Levits.
But the biggest deal is a previously unseen Superman story by his original creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The story is called "Too Many Heroes" and while details on it remain scarce, it must date from the 1940s.
“The found Siegel and Shuster story is a true treasure with a fascinating backstory,” Paul Levitz said in a statement. “Back when DC did regular tours of the New York office, it was common for fans to get original art that would have been otherwise disposed of as a tour souvenir. As a young fan on a tour Marv Wolfman found this Superman story and kept it all these years. It’s incredible to think that Marv not only rescued this unpublished story, he then went on to become one of DC’s most prolific writers, and shared the story with DC to publish as part of this special new collection.”
Levitz continued, “It’s an honor to edit this collection of stories and essays that chronicle key moments and contributors to Superman’s epic 80 year run as one of the most iconic characters in all of pop culture. I’m particularly happy that Laura Siegel Larson’s tribute to her father and his legacy are part of the book.”
Check out the full lineup:
A couple of higlights I'd like to point out include "The Boy Who Stole Superman's Cape" which is a lovely little short story and the masterful "If Superman Didn't Exist" by Marv Wolfman and Gil Kane. I'm so happy that one is going to get seen by a new audience.
Action Comics #1000: 80 Years of Superman arrives on April 19.
Vlad Tepes was a terrible teen even for Transylvania in AfterShock’s new comic The Brothers Dracul.
The whole impaling thing had to start some somewhere, right? Before Vlad Tepes dipped his bread in the blood of fallen Turk soldiers and nailed hats on priests who didn’t tip theirs, he and his brother Radu had to make their bones. Aftershock Comics’ upcoming The Brothers Dracul, will fill in the details of what is sure to be a moving coming-of-age story. The Brother Dracul hits stores in April, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The Brother Dracul was written by Cullen Bunn (X-Men), with artist Mirko Colak (The Punisher), colorist Maria Santaolalla, and letterer Simon Bowland, the team that rendered Unholy Grail onto pulp.
“I'm thrilled to be working on Brothers Dracul, a 15th century horror tale that explores the 'true' history of the infamous Vlad the Impaler," Bunn told Heat Vision, via THR. "We had so much fun telling a horror story with King Arthur as its central figure, we had to get the gang back together for this story, featuring one of the most shocking icons of horrific history.”
“I am from Serbia, and the location where the story takes place is only a few hours away from me, so I'm very familiar with the legend, and I've always had a desire to do adaptations of the story,” Colak added.
The Transylvanian-Wallachian scourge of the Turks wasn’t exactly a teenaged vampire.
“The legend of Vlad the Impaler is the stuff of nightmares,” reads the official synopsis. “The inspiration for the most iconic of monsters—Dracula—Vlad tortured and murdered thousands of victims. But what turned him into such a depraved killer? The truth lies in his teenage years, when Vlad and his brother Radu were held hostage by the Ottoman Empire. During this time, the brothers learned many things—archery, riding, the art of combat, matters of court…and how to stalk and slay vampires.”
It appears the king of vampires started out as a royal Buffy.
“This is the story of the events that turned Vlad Dracul into Vlad Tepes,” Bunn told Heat Vision, via THR. “What we know of Vlad's history is that during his teenage years, he and his brother Radu were captured and held prisoner by the Ottoman Empire. During that time, they were treated as royal prisoners. They were trained in art, history, horseback riding, archery, and — oh, yeah! — vampire slaying. Of course, these aren't the smooth, black-caped, charming vampires of the movies. These are nasty, blood-drinking, flesh-eating monstrosities. The terrifying adventures of the Brothers Dracul will change both of their lives forever.”
The Brothers Dracul No. 1 will hit comic book stores and be available digitally on April 11.
Our ongoing roundup of the best serial fiction out there has just been updated with lots of new entries!
Bite-sized fiction is a growing market, especially in digital fiction. In addition to some new imprints and apps delivering specifically one-sitting books, the surge in serial fiction—some a la Charles Dickens in the 1800s, but more in the style of television serials—has brought a fantastic amount of new fiction and nonfiction to readers via omni-present digital technology.
If you need your fiction in short bites, there's an app for that. Several. So if you're one of those people who reads in line at Starbucks, and your phone is easier to maneuver than a paperback, check out some of these excellent apps. Prefer a larger screen? Plenty of these serials are available in your browser (or as purchases for your e-reader) as well.
Whether your taste runs to historical fiction (Julian Fellowes Belgravia or Whitehall from Serial Box), urban fantasy (Ilona Andrews's "Innkeeper Chronicles," C. D. Miller's Dark Heights, or Serial Box's Bookburners), postapocalyptic YA (ReMade), Asian-set fantasy (Lian Hearn's "The Tale of Shikanoko" or JY Yang's "Tensorate" series), or something with a little more contemporary flare (Geek Actually), you'll find something—probably several somethings—to love.
Why serials? Some readers their favorite writers into new formats. Recognize the names Max Gladstone, Delia Sherman, Malinda Lo, Sarah J. Maas, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ellen Kushner, and Brian Francis Slattery? Odds are good you've heard of most of them! But many serial readers have been groomed by internet reading to read differently. These new readers are looking for a quick read on cell phones: that could be an article on a really excellent geek news website, or it could be shorter-than-novels fiction. The rise in contemporary serial fiction is looking to find a place in that niche reading time.
So if you're looking for something to read in line at Starbucks, while you're waiting for your kids at the bus stop, or just something that you can read in the same amount of time as you can watch a TV episode, serial fiction may be just the thing for you.
There's an app for that.
When Julian Fellowes of Downton Abbey launched his Belgravia app for the serial novel he was releasing (see below), his was just one of the apps available for short bites (and bytes) of fiction on Android and iOS devices. While some are single-novel apps, most are platforms where you can access a lot of fiction at various price points. Here are some you should know about:
Radish features a wide variety of self-published authors. Readers subscribe to stories for micro-payments, starting below a dollar, that are charged with each episode. Readers can search by genre as well as tags (including "werewolf,""rebellion," and "blackgirlmagic") to select their titles.
Tapas is a similar app, though you can earn and purchase coins and keys that unlock chapters of stories. Some of these are from traditional publishing houses, such as Hachette, who have licensed their books (such as excellent kid's book The Wild Robot by Peter Brown) to the app.
Most are from self published authors, including (now movie-famous) Andy Weir, whose The Martian was originally a serial at his own website before it was a feature film, has a number of titles on the app.
The biggest draw-back of the app is that the bite-sized chunks are very small, so readers won't likely want to just get by on the keys and coins they can "earn" from the app's promotions.
Online indie serial hosting site Wattpad released a messaging-based story serial app called Tap, which gives serials an extra sense of immediacy that mimics some of the fun of an alternate reality, transmedia game like Andrea Phillips's brilliant The McKinnon Account.
Serial Box has several serials that can be read--pay per episode or series subscription--through their website, on the e-reader, or via their app. One of the biggest perks of Serial Box serials is that any episode purchased includes the audio version, which is great for readers who need their fiction on the (literal) run. Check out series synopses below.
Bookshots is James Patterson's bite-sized fiction project: two novellas come out each month, priced at $3.99. Patterson is the idea man while his co-writers do the heavy prose lifting, and several dabble in Patterson's previously established worlds, including his Alex Cross books.
What about an app that delivers story content the way you'd keep up with your friends via social media? That's the conceit behind Long Shorts, an app that delivers stories in a host of genres: fantasy, comedy, romance, nonfiction, mystery, sports, realistic YA, and classics converted to this new format. The stories update in "real time," meaning readers only receive a short chunk of story at a time. If you're interested in trying out this new social fiction format, download their app on Android or iOS.
Now that you know which apps are available, on to the specific serials you should check out...
The Best Serial Fiction You Should Be Reading
In November 2017, Amazon launched a new Kindle imprint, Amazon Original Stories, to produce one-sitting fiction reads, beginning with Joyce Carol Oates's novel The Sign of the Beast and nonfiction book Crown Heights by Colin Warner and Carl King. The imprint has released additional titles by Dean Koontz, Nick McDonell, and Susan Straight, and looks set to produce one title per month. The stories are available for free to Prime and Kindle Unlimited subscribers; other readers can purchase the books for $1.99.
Amazon isn't the only publisher producing bite-sized nonfiction. Serial Box is producing the Associated Press series 1776: The World Turned Upside Down. Focusing on the lives of ordinary citizens, the serial is a month-by-month account of life in the American colonies and the events that led to the founding of the United States. The commentary was originally published for the bicentennial of the United States in a hardcover, large format book for news organizations, and Serial Box is bringing the series to a digital medium, both text and enhanced audio, for the first time.
If you caught my article on Serial Box last fall, you may have tuned in for the ReMade podcast experience, produced with Podglomerate in time to listen to season one of this intense YA post-apocalyptic serial before season two started. Twenty three teenagers, all of whom died in the same minute, become the last hope for humanity when they awaken in a brand new world. Here, there are robots that hunt humans, a dangerous jungle, and the ruins of an ancient civilization. For the teens--who might be the last people on the planet--to survive, they have to learn to work together. Divided over the events in season one, survival definitely does not get easier in season two!
With the continued love for YA dystopian futures in longer, doorstopper fantasy titles, this is an entry into the genre that you can take in chunks. The writing team includes some familiar names for YA (and wider) readers: Matthew Cody, Kiersten White, E. C. Myers, Andrea Phillips, Carrie Harris, and Gwenda Bond.
If the audio experience is important to you, and you love what the podcast did for ReMade but you're looking for something for a mature audience, you might be interested in checking out music-enhanced serial Dark Heights by C. D. Miller, with music composed and performed by C. D.'s brother, Chris Miller. The music and prose are developed in tandem, so that they are intentionally intertwined.
The story is of a town, Park Heights, where supernatural forces in a war of shadows converge. Caught in the chaos are town native Tess Bellamy and drifter Gabriel Majeaux. The series features an HBO-level of graphic content (so it's not for young readers) and bends genres and genre expectations. If you're a fan of psychological horror, this unique music and prose blend might be right up your alley. Just... be careful of those shadows.
Husband-and-wife team Ilona and Gordon Andrews have been releasing a series of free novellas on their website as a reward to loyal readers, and a new, as yet untitled, novella launched at the end of December, 2017. Each weekly installment is a partial chapter, typically readable inside of fifteen minutes, and enough of a bite sized chunk to whet your appetite for whatever comes next. While book four is posting for free on the site, the first three serials are available as complete books for purchase (and well worth it).
The story revolves around Dina, an Innkeeper, host for interstellar travelers that include familiar mythological figures like werewolves and vampires, as well as more outlandish aliens. Her inn feeds magic into her, so she can change reality on her inn's grounds to better accommodate--and defend against--her guests. In Clean Sweep, the first novella, a supernatural danger threatens Dina's non-magical neighbors. Dina isn't supposed to get involved, but she's not the type to let what she's supposed to do stop her from doing what's right.
Andrews creates a very cool world mixing fantasy and science fiction tropes and populates it with a fully realized cast, including not only Dina but the local werewolf-in-denial and Dina's struggling inn's only regular guest, a vampire noble claiming asylum on earth due to her previous ruthless acts.
Another fantasy read with very short installments is Sarah Gailey's The Fisher of Bones, a novelette in twelve parts released by Fireside Fiction, with an audio version produced by Serial Box. The Prophet leads the children of the Gods in the wilderness, away from the city where the Chancellor has declared all Gods illegal. Ducky is the daughter of The Prophet, and with his last breaths, The Prophet casts off her name so that she can take up his mantle. It's up to her to lead the people on a journey to their prophesied holy land, a task she must take up while mourning the loss of her father. It's a beautiful and desolate fantasy story filled with trials of faith, and the short chapters make it a quick read--but the chapters will linger in a reader's thoughts much longer.
Another chosen daughter of a fated lineage is the heroine of The Sun Fire Chronicles, an ongoing work in progress by Kri Chiarillo. A lost member of the Eosean people--a people cursed by the sun goddess to take the form of tiger people, and blessed by the god of the cosmos with his magic—Kridina never knew of her heritage. But when she is chosen as the host of a magical force known as the SunFire, she must learn to control both the power and her own rage if she is to survive—and avoid a prophecy that she will doom the world. The counter to her SunFire is ColdFire, the blessing of the god of Cosmos, rumored to no longer exist... but Kridina soon discovers that rumors are not to be trusted. The story updates irregularly but has twelve full chapters and a long intro currently posted.
The newest of the Serial Box fiction series is False Idols, an FBI crime thriller that pits Layla el-Deeb against a terrorist network operating via Ciaro's art scene. Her entry into the world of Cairo's financial elite is complicated by her impoverished childhood in Cairo's slums, and going undercover in her home city comes with greater challenges than she expected. The series writers include Star Trek and Missing writer Lisa Klink, short story writer and essayist Patrick Lohier, and YA mystery novelist Diana Renn.
Witch has wrapped Season 2 of a saga set in 1970-71 Prague at the height of not only the Cold War, but an ongoing struggle between sorcerers of the Ice, who want to preserve the status quo, and the Fire, who seek to remake the world with magical fire. In the midst of this conflict are KGB agent and witch Tanya, whose grandfather set her on the course for both the Party and magic, and Gabe, a CIA agent who stumbled into too much magic in Cairo and now has to learn control in order to get his life back on track.
The setting is fascinating — just enough technology to feel modern, right up until the moments when it isn't, with a sense of things crumbling around the edges while magic seeps in. Season 2 builds on both the conflicts and kinships between Gabe and Tanya, as well as giving some previously minor (and some new) characters the spotlight.
The enhancement of the cast breathes even stronger life into the series, and the banter between Gabe and newcomer Edith is an ongoing delight. Witch has a great writing team (including creator Lindsay Smith, Bookburners creator Max Gladstone, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Ian Tregillis, and guest author, multi-time Hugo and Nebula award winner, Michael Swanwick).
While I read a lot of fantasy, in serials and not, I don't often get the pleasure of reading contemporary stories about women who like the things I do--all the gamer geeky, SFF fannish fun stuff that fills my every day Facebook feed in my friends circle. Geek Actually fills this hole for fannish readers looking to add a little contemporary fiction to the mix. The five main characters are members of a chat-group and circle of female friends who call themselves the Rebel Scum. Most, like me, are women with careers that revolve around their geeky passions.
The focus on powerful and healthy female friendships--a theme that shouldn't be limited to MLP:FIM--is a delight, and the diversity of the cast is both wonderful and unsurprising, given the writing team behind this serial: Fandom Hearts series author Cathy Yardley, "Dirty Sexy Geeky" author Melissa Blue, Cecilia Tan of the Vanished Chronicles, and TV-writer come novelist Rachel Stuhler (Absolutely True Lies).
Tor.com has been quietly dominating the novella market, releasing several excellent, critically-celebrated shorter-sized stories predominantly in e-book format. Among these are the stand-alone novellas of JY Yang's Tensorate series. The first two, published in 2017, tell a technology-vs.-tradition tale of two twin siblings, Mokoya and Akeha, drawn to opposite sides of a rebellion. The two children of the Protectorate, Mokoya and Akeha were sold into slavery as children. Mokoya can sense the future, while Akeha can see the mechanics of manipulation among the adults who govern their world. Akeha views the Machinist rebels against his mother's rule as a way to free the Protectorate from its rot. Mokoya becomes embroiled in a hunt for the deadly naga, but discovers that conspiracy lies beneath magic.
The series is set to continue in September 2018 with another novella, in which a female inspector is trying to solve a mystery that involves a cover up, an escaped experiment, and strange dreams she can't define.
If you're familiar with Ellen Kushner's Riverside fantasy series, beginning with Swordpoint, you've already got a great hook to start this serial: Tremontaine is a prequel to the adventures in the novels. It also serves as a great introduction to Kushner's world for those unfamiliar with her work--or any of the other excellent writers on the team, including Alaya Dawn Johnson, Malinda Lo, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese, Patty Bryant, and Paul Witcover.
Readers meet Diane, Duchess Tremontaine, who is facing financial difficulties but scheming on ways to improve the situation for herself and her city; Ixkaab (Kaab) Balam, a fierce daughter of traders who gets into a duel over a woman's honor just as she arrives in the city; and Micah, a brilliant young girl from a farming family who is taken under the wing of a scholar who thinks she's a boy. Tremontaine has finished its third season, with plenty of swashbuckling and political intrigue to keep readers hooked, and series creator Ellen Kushner has posted a guide to the Riverside novels and the order in which they occur chronologically for readers wanting to delve more deeply into that world.
If you don't need a guarantee that your space opera is going to be regularly updated (this serial updates very sporadically because it's free and the authors write other books as well), you might want to check out The Starkillers Cycle by Sarah J. Maas and Susan Dennard. The pair, known best for their YA fantasy, combine their love for space fantasy and tough women in the 26 chapters currently posted.
The serial opens with Mel, a prisoner who was convicted of murder, killing another inmate in self defense, and choosing to escape and brave the jungle of her prison planet rather than face the consequences of another conviction. Other characters include a debutante who leaves her glittering world to become an accomplished pilot, an ex-military escaped prisoner worried about the sisters he left behind, and a law enforcer whose family thinks he should have a higher profile job--who's recruited to confront Mel after her latest in a string of supposed crimes.
The language is graphic, and the content is what you'd expect from the darkest of Maas's work--plenty of threats of torture, blood, and potentially disfiguring injuries--but despite the grim edge, it has the atmosphere of large-scale space fantasy, chock full of adventure, excitement, and rich families seeking to shape the galaxy as they see fit.
If you're an old-school reader who'd rather wait until the whole story is complete, there are a bunch of finished serials to pick up, too...
Told over the course of four novellas, all published in 2016, this mythical medieval Japanese epic features a disinherited lord, courtly intrigue with the heirs of the Lotus Throne, and a sorcerer who creates a mask for a young man, capturing within it the spirit of a great stag.
As the story progresses, the Imperial heir and his sister must survive in wild, spirit-infested wilderness, the sorcerer helps a new race of people, not quite human, not quite demons, come into their own, and both the magical and the political become embroiled in the battle for the throne.
Fans of Lian Hearne's earlier Tales of the Otori series will definitely enjoy this, as will readers who like their historical fiction with a fair dash of fantasy.
In the mood for courtly drama, full of machinations, intrigue, and fantastic clothing? Settle in for the turmoil of the romance of Queen Catherine of Braganza, her husband, King Charles II of England, and his mistress, Barbara.
Catherine, infanta of Portugal and devout Catholic, hopes for love in spite of hers being a marriage of state. Charles expects little more than to like the woman he initially finds as doll-like, but her love for his dogs (he's passionate about the Spaniels; his mistress hates them) and her innocent desires begin to break through his resolve to keep her at a distance.
In turn, Charles fears the interference of his wife in the way his mother nearly ruined his father--and all of England--with her desires. And in the midst of this, the married Barbara, Lady Castlemaine, is bearing Charles's second child, while her husband stews, his pride unwilling to meekly accept the title Charles has bestowed in exchange for his wife.
It's initially difficult to like the scheming Barbara over the earnest Catherine, but as the risks to her station--and the fates of her children — grow by the second episode, she might gain a little of the readers' sympathies. Whether she will keep her place at Charles's side or eventually Catherine will find love propels the story — as well as the stories of the servants, particularly young Jenny, who may well become the Queen's truest ally.
This is captivating historical fiction, and the 17th century setting is made vivid by a writing team that includes creator and playwright Liz Duffy Adams, fantasist Delia Sherman, romance novelist Barbara Samuel, Regency romance writer and urban fantasist Madeline Robins, fantasist Mary Robinette Kowal, and YA thriller writer Sarah Smith.
Fans of Downtown Abbey will gravitate to this new story written by Julian Fellowes, which revolves around the Trenchant family: James, an upwardly mobile merchant with aspirations toward mingling with the nobility, who has the ear and trust of the Duke of Wellington; his wife, Anne, who would rather be settled and happy than constantly working to socially advance; and their daughter Sophia, a young woman in love with a Lord about to risk his life in one of the greatest battles in European history.
The tale begins on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo at a ball that has become infamous for its proximity to the battle. The Belgravia team integrates real historical details into the text through hyperlinking, and though the style, where dialogue is hidden within a paragraph of prose, takes some pages to get used to, the setting is viscerally described, and the characters presented with an open eye to their flaws as equally as their virtues.
The series wrapped last year, and both the app (with special features) and the print book are available for binge readers.
Indexingby Seanan McGuire and its sequel, Indexing: Reflections, take fairy tale characters and insert them into a noir-style modern world. In the world of the serial, fairy tales can come to life among normal families, unless they're disrupted by the ATI Management Bureau, who stop storybook intrusions before they can take over--when they're lucky.
Rather than being written in chapters, each serial segment was released as an episode, so reading them back to back is like binge-watching Grimmor Supernatural. Indexing was a part of Amazon's Kindle Serial fiction experiment in 2012, and there are somewhere around 70 other finished serials in the Kindle store.
The Daring Adventures of Captain Lucy Smokeheart
The Daring Adventures of Captain Lucy Smokeheartby Andrea Phillips is a children's fantasy originally published in twelve monthly installments. Funded by Kickstarter, the original serial also gave readers a chance to treasure hunt alongside the daring pirate captain Lucy Smokeheart by solving a riddle in each chapter.
The complete edition includes the puzzles and the key to solving them. Phillips' world involves carnivorous mermaids, praise for both bacon and chocolate, magic, and danger suitable for middle grader readers and adults alike.
If you're looking to dabble in free fiction, you can always check out Tuesday Serial, a collection of serials from around the web, submitted by the writers who create them. The site has been active since 2010, so there are years worth of chapters to read and enjoy. And if you're a nook user, Barnes and Noble has launched its Serial Reads program, which offers a serial as part of the new free Readouts nook feature, with Kristin Higgins's In Your Dreams.
Queendom by Kim Antieau took a different outlook on the serial: she released a fully written and realized novel of a post-apocalyptic, non-dystopian future in five parts, complete with extras that aren't going to be available in print. Sadly, if you missed the serial in December 2015, those extras are gone. But the novel itself — a politically driven plot in which a cook becomes a spy and an elected queen searches for those who are seeking to destroy her nation's economy — is available.
The best part about serials is that they're happening live — and if enough people are reading them, they make great Internet water-cooler conversation. So if you're catching up on the latest issue of The Innkeeper Chronicles or The Witch Who Came in from the Cold and need to gush — or just want to make sure I know about the hot new serial you're reading — come on over and find me on Facebook.
Jo Walton's collection short stories, poems, and a play is a must-read for science fiction and fantasy lovers.
Reviewing a book that is a collection of short stories is difficult, in that you have to evaluate the stories both individually and lumped together as a whole. What I can say first and foremost is that Jo Walton is a very good author. She's written thirteen novels already, with a fourteenth, Lent, due this year. She has won numerous awards for her writing, including the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2002, as well as Hugo and Nebula awards.
Starlings marks a departure from her usual repertoire. This is her first collection of short stories, a format she admits is more challenging for her than writing full-length novels. Her introduction helps form a complete depiction of what Starlings is all about. Walton writes that she didn't know how to write short stories for the longest time, and it took years of practice and discussions with fellow authors until she figured out what short stories really were.
I kept that introduction in the back of my mind as I read, noting when I felt Walton had excelled in the short story form and when I thought more development was needed.
There were several pieces that really resonated with me. My favorite was the story of a coin, passed from person to person, telling each one's story as it traveled and giving just enough backstory to flesh out the world in which the story takes place. The world building was admirable and so intriguing that I hope Walton eventually uses it as the backdrop of a future novel. "The Panda Coin" travels between various members in a civilization in space arranged in twelve sectors based on the months of the year. The socio-econonic realities of this world were illustrated by dividing people among classes who tried to move into the warmer "months" where the rent was high and life was better.
There were several short stories that retold fairy tales or mythology, even religious stories. These were always interesting points of view. Although I've tired of some of these re-told fairy tales in the past, I have to say Walton's take on a Snow White prequel was beautifully handled, told from the point of view of a sentient magic mirror.
Walton also uses the tool of science and speculative fiction to provide discussion on topics like pain and loss. In "Joyful and Triumphant: St. Zenobius and the Aliens," the patron saint of Florence tries to explain Heaven and the need for pain on Earth. One part really hit the nail on the head: "When you're asked to intercede, when somebody prays to you, they are often asking to be relieved of pain. What you have to ask yourself is whether the pain is necessary for the story."
That theme of pain is echoed in a later, unrelated story: "A Burden Shared." It was a fabulous depiction of a world where transferring pain from a loved one to yourself is possible. A separated mother and father share custody of their daughter's debilitating pain. In this world, it's easier for someone else to bear another's pain, than for them to have it themselves. There's so much weight in the meaning behind this story, and there's a twist at the end that is so good I can't give it away.
There's also a play in the book that's quite good. "Three Shouts on a Hill" is an amalgamation of myths and legends, all smushed into the same quest story. There is a twist on this story too that must be experienced first hand, though the very end still perplexes me because I expected something a little flashier.
There were a few stories I didn't connect with. I didn't get the ending on "Relentlessly Mundane," even though the build-up had me interested until that point. It felt like an unfinished story, and it referenced events that happened long before the events of the story that were far more interesting than the discussion taking place. You can't tease me with mentioning these people saved the world and were blamed for the death of their friend without showing it to me. It's like showing up to Narnia in the last chapter of the seventh book.
In all,Starlings is composed of twenty stories, a play, and a good heaping of poems. The stories vary in length, though most are quite short, at only a couple pages. A couple of the longer ones can sometimes seem a little slow, but the world-building and characters are so lovely you can forgive it.
I recommend Starlings to lovers of science fiction and fantasy who want bite-sized pieces to enjoy and savor. It's an eclectic mix of themes and tones, some humorous and some dark, that will keep you guessing. Not all the stories will work for everyone, but then again who can please everyone? Certainly not St. Zenobius in Heaven, that's for sure.
Another one of Margaret Atwood's speculative fiction stories is coming to TV!
Hollywood can't get enough of Margaret Atwood! Following successful adaptions like Handmaid's Tale and Alias Grace (by Hulu and CBC/Netflix, respectively), another of the Canadian author's acclaimed works is about to get the Hollywood treatment.
Anonymous Content and Paramount Television have acquired the rights to Atwood's MaddAddam Trilogy, which is made up of the novels Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam. According to Deadline, it was a competitive bidding process.
The MaddAddam trilogy is the story of the world after a global pandemic. The first installment in the series is told from Jimmy's point of view, as he recounts the events that led to the apocalypse. Check out the official synopsis:
Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.
The Maddaddam TV series is being produced as part of a first look deal between Paramount TV and Anonymous Content, and Rock Paper Scissors.
"Margaret Atwood's unique and singular literary voice speaks to the greater issues facing our current climate and resonates with fans worldwide; the MaddAddam Trilogy is no exception," said Amy Powell, President of Paramount TV. "These stories are perfectly suited for portrayal on television and we are thrilled to once again bring a literary masterpiece to life with our partners at Anonymous Content, Angus Wall and Rock Paper Scissors Entertainment."
More news as we hear it.
Now that Wolverine is returning to the Marvel Universe, we look at how Logan wasn't so killable after all.
Wolverine is coming back. About time. Then again, Marvel's more than made up for his disappearance by having his daughter as the new Wolverine, having an old version of Logan hang around, and turn magically-a-good-guy Sabretooth into his thematic replacement. But now the status quo needs some rubber-banding and Wolverine needs to un-die.
Wolverine's a hard mutant to kill, especially before he lost his healing factor. He maybe coming back from his first major death in main continuity, but across the various alternate futures and alternate realities, Wolverine's bought the farm many times. It's just that a lot of the time, they need to get a little more creative with it. Here are all the Logan deaths I can gather.
To make this a little easier to write, I'm only counting stories that are outright specific about him being dead. Just because the universe is vaporized doesn't mean I'm going to mention it unless he happens to be shown in the mix. Similarly, I need to get some kind of context. There's an alternate timeline in Marvel Team-Up where almost all of the world's superheroes are wiped out by a time traveler and X-23 mentions how Wolverine died saving her but...that's pretty much it. There's also an issue of Exileswhere an alternate Wolverine's corpse is sent back to his home dimension, but who knows the circumstances of his death.
All righty, then. Let's kill some Canadians.
Uncanny X-Men #142
Chris Claremont and John Byrne – 1981
Days of Future Past. Ever heard of it? It was kind of a big deal a few years ago. In the original comic, a dark, Sentinel-ruled future has the surviving X-Men trying their best to stop the Sentinels from nuking the rest of the planet. At one point, the aging trio of Storm, Colossus, and Wolverine sneak into a facility and wipe out a few Sentinels. They get out of an elevator and see a higher-ranking Sentinel. Wolverine has Colossus throw him for the Fastball Special, but the Sentinel reacts fast enough to zap Wolverine to death in mid-air.
The storyline was used in the 90's cartoon, but this time Wolverine is killed in battle with Nimrod. While it's never outright stated, we do see his trademark skeleton on display after the fact plenty of times.
What If Phoenix Had Not Died? (What If v.1 #27)
Mary Jo Duffy and Jerry Bingham – 1981
Rather than have Jean killed after her Dark Phoenix reign of terror, the Shi'Ar choose to have her lobotomized in the sense that she can be her normal self, but can't tap into the power of the Phoenix. That lasts like...a day. At first, Jean is all about controlling the power, but she keeps sneaking out to blow up planetoids and stars in solar systems that aren't inhabited. Kitty Pryde confronts her about it and Jean snaps. She vaporizes Kitty and kills the X-Men one-by-one. She turns Nightcrawler into a pyre of hellfire.
Colossus and Wolverine go for the old Fastball Special, but she deflects Wolverine back at Colossus and transforms the big Russian back to his flesh-and-blood form. Wolverine impales Colossus and is then telekinetically dragged into the big ball of flame that used to be Nightcrawler. Even if Wolverine were to survive that, a minute later, Phoenix – broken up over Cyclops' death – blows up the universe. That'll do it.
What If Wolverine Had Killed the Hulk? (What If v.1 #31)
Rich Margopoulos and Bob Budiansky – 1982
If you ever wanted to see the very definition of "power creep," here's your example. After killing the Hulk in his debut appearance, Logan's machismo goes to his head and he accidentally kills a dude in a bar fight. He goes on the run, gets inducted into the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and is hired by Magneto to be a mole in the X-Men. Due to his love for Jean, he turns against Magneto and claws him up.
Magneto uses the last of his strength to make Wolverine cut up his own throat. This actually kills him! Yeah, I'm just as surprised as you are. Go figure.
Uncanny X-Men #227
Chris Claremont and Marc Silvestri – 1988
Existing as part of the Fall of the Mutants event, this arc mainly deals with a demonic trickster named the Adversary, who can only be defeated by being sealed away. Since Forge is ultimately responsible for him being unleashed, he needs to complete a spell that will send him back.
Problem is, he needs nine souls to do it. He has nine heroes there. They sacrifice themselves and allow him to transform them into pure energy to take out the Adversary. While the world thinks they're dead (including Mystique angrily calling Forge a murderer because Rogue was one of the victims), the magical Roma is able to resurrect them in secret.
Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe
Fred Hembeck – 1989
Fred Hembeck is a comedic writer/artist who did a one-shot where he talks up his desire to destroy the Marvel Universe for the sake of being remembered (until Stan Lee talks him out of it). The issue is filled with jokey depictions of how he would have all the heroes and villains killed.
His solution for the X-Men is easy. Sentinels are programmed to kill mutants, but they're too big and noisy. Why not just send some ninja Sentinels to chop up the X-Men while they're asleep? The whole team is done with in one page and he's able to move on to figuring out how to kill Namor and Zzzax.
What If the X-Men Lost Inferno? (What If v.2 #6)
Danny Fingeroth and Ron Lim – 1989
The alliance of S'ym and Madelyne Pryor defeats the X-Men and kills them all except for Wolverine, who they decide to keep as a pet. Wolverine is a brainwashed demon who is at one point shown being fed a newborn baby. A small resistance group is put together that features Dr. Strange, Rachel Summers, Baron Mordo, and Kitty Pryde to try and save the day. Mordo predictably betrays them.
Out of reflex, Wolverine guts Kitty and it snaps him back to semi-normal. He claws Mordo and mortally wounds him, but Mordo decides to take Wolverine down with him with a magical flame spell that reduces him to a skeleton. Shortly after, S'ym's spirit possesses the bones, but Rachel is able to vaporize it into nothing with the Phoenix Force.
What If the X-Men Died on Their First Mission? (What If v.2 #9)
Roy Thomas and Rich Buckler – 1990
With the original X-Men trapped on the living island Krakoa, Xavier sent a new team of X-Men to rescue them, which of course included Wolverine. In this reality, although the team is able to send Krakoa into space where it will no longer hurt a single soul, they fail to clear the area first. All 13 of them are killed via being hurled into the void of space. Xavier gets all depressed until scrounging up yet another X-Men team.
This is even darker and more messed up if you add in the Deadly Genesis retcon.
What If the Vision of the Avengers Conquered the World? (What If v.2 #19)
Roy Thomas, RJM Lofficier, and Ron Wilson -- 1990
There was a time when Vision had gone full SkyNet and took over all computers before coming to his senses. In this issue, we got two alternate takes on what could have happened. In one world, all the major heroes have a big meeting where Vision offers the chance to help make the world a utopia. They take him up on the offer, things work out great, and the future brings endless peace. Wolverine even becomes the leader of several generations of New Mutants.
Unfortunately, another reality has the building get nuked by Genosha, figuring that this would somehow kill Vision. Because they're idiots. That leads to a galaxy run by Dr. Doom, Mad Thinker, and Hydra. Way to go, Genosha.
Infinity Gauntlet #3
Jim Starlin, Ron Lim, and George Perez – 1991
Thanos has realized omnipotence due to wielding the Infinity Gauntlet. To help woo Death, he scales back his power a bit and goes to town on Earth's heroes. It's a valiant effort, but the good guys get stomped in all sorts of outlandish ways. Wolverine pops up out of nowhere and digs his claws right into Thanos' chest.
Normally, this would be a killing blow, but this isn't a very normal time for Thanos. With but a thought, he transforms Wolverine's skeleton into spongy rubber and leaves him in a dying heap. Years later, a What If? issue would portray Wolverine as attacking the smart way: cut his damned arm off! No more Gauntlet!
New Warriors #11
Fabian Nicieza and Mark Bagley – 1991
The Sphinx has been able to warp time and space in such a way that he's ruled the world as the head of Egypt for a thousand years. The New Warriors are cornered by Sphinx's Avengers, which includes Captain Assyria, Nova, Storm, Sceptre, Iron Man, and the powerful god Horus.
The kids are screwed, but luckily Wolverine shows up out of nowhere to create a diversion. Captain Assyria fights him off and Horus lets out a blast of power from his staff that completely fries the flesh from Wolverine's bones. As the New Warriors escape, Iron Man inspects the body, intrigued at Wolverine's skeleton.
What If Wolverine Was Lord of the Vampires? (What If v.2 #24)
Roy Thomas, RJM Lofficier, and Tom Morgan – 1991
After being turned into a vampire by Dracula, Wolverine becomes strong-willed enough to fight back and kill him. He goes about killing or turning most of New York's heroes and has quite the hold on the Big Apple. The only one who can stop him is the Punisher, wearing Dr. Strange's magic knickknacks (complete with Strange's ghost guiding him) and armed to the teeth with holy water and silver bullets.
Punisher almost kills Logan, but Kitty Pryde sacrifices herself to stop him. Wolverine kills Frank, but then realizes the monster he's become. Under the guidance of Strange, he opens up a spell book and painfully recites a spell that wipes out all vampires, turning himself to dust.
What If the Marvel Superheroes Had Lost Atlantis Attacks? (What If v.2 #25)
Jim Valentino and Rik Levins – 1991
In this issue about a world where everything went wrong in a crossover story that nobody ever read, we watch as nearly every superhero gets killed on every page. The unstoppable god Set has taken over the world, Earth's water supply has been infected in a way that turns nearly everyone into a brainless lizard person, and several superheroines are brainwashed into being Set's brides. The only ones left are those heroes and villains who haven't been affected by the water, such as Wolverine, Sabretooth, Thor, Cloak, Dr. Doom, Rachel Summers, Gray Hulk, and Wundarr the Aquarian. They split up with some going after the brides while the others go after Set himself. It's an outright slaughter in both cases.
The mind-controlled Jean Grey throws Wolverine at Aquarian, who has his force field up. Scarlet Witch hexes Wolverine so that his body is made up of anti-matter and upon impact, the two explode, leaving only a metal skeleton behind. Certainly one of the more outlandish deaths on the list.
What If Captain America Had Formed the Avengers? (What If v.2 #29)
George Caragonne and Ron Wilson – 1991
This is a follow-up to an issue where Dr. Erksine is spared and the US military is filled with super soldiers during WWII. Long story short, Cap gets frozen again and Red Skull impersonates him, ultimately becoming President for Life. The world is very, very different and Cap's Avengers team includes Logan, known also as "Hulk." He has the power to transform himself into the creature Wendigo.
Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man (Frank Castle), Giant Man (Sam Wilson), Namor, and Thor proceed to stop Red Skull's plans, but when faced with an army of enemy super soldiers, they all give their lives by charging into a fight they cannot win. Years later, the world is a better place and the Avengers are honored with a statue.
What If the Hulk had Killed Wolverine? (What If v.2 #50)
John Arcudi and Armando Gil – 1993
Back in the day, Grey Hulk got in a fight with Wolverine and Wolverine won by cutting open Hulk's chest and slicing his heart open. Hulk survived, but Wolverine was still able to walk away.
Here, Hulk recovers and he isn't very happy. Filled with endless rage, he beats the everloving hell out of Wolverine, who stays alive due to his skeleton and healing factor. This proceeds to frustrate Hulk even more until he stomps down on Wolverine's back so hard that he severs his adamantium spine and kills him. Then Hulk kills like so many other X-Men and Freedom Force mooks once he's got that momentum going.
What If the Avengers Lost Operation: Galactic Storm? (What If v.2 #55)
Len Kaminski and Craig Brasfield – 1993
While prisoners of the Kree military leader Ael-Dan, the Avengers prevent his assassination at the hands of Deathbird, which proves to be a very bad thing. Ael-Dan is a complete nutball and in the span of a few minutes kills Deathbird, the Supreme Intelligence, and blows up Earth. Using a Death Star-style doomsday weapon called the Omni-Wave Annihilator, the guy destroys the entire planet and makes Captain America watch.
We see various reaction shots of Earth-based heroes experiencing the planet's final moments and one of those shows a skeleton engulfed in flames. The skeleton happens to have three razors jutting out the back of its hand, so try to heal from that, bub!
What If? X-Men Wedding Album (What If v.2 #60)
Kurt Busiek and Ron Randall – 1994
Taking place during the long-awaited wedding between Scott Summers and Jean Grey, this What If? issue features three different stories based on Jean's love life. Each one has horrible consequences, ending in a story that shows what would have happened had Jean left Cyclops for Wolverine. Simply put, everything is exactly the same, up to the Dark Phoenix Saga.
When fighting the Shi'Ar, Jean goes mental and becomes the Dark Phoenix. With Wolverine, she doesn't have the lengthy bond that she did with Cyclops, and also he isn't exactly the most calming person in the world. She loses control and the Phoenix engulfs the entire universe.
What If Iron Man Sold Out? (What If v.2 #64)
Simon Furman and Geoff Senior – 1994
This one's a little hard to make out due to the art and Wolverine is little more than a background character who doesn't even get a single line. This is a world where Tony Stark decided to go public with his tech instead of using it to be a superhero.
The world is armor-based, for better and worse, and everyone's easy pickings when Magneto goes on a rampage. At one point, he and his Brotherhood fight the X-Men and mop the floor with them. Magneto kills most of them by taking control of a couple fighter planes and spiking them down onto his mutant enemies, blowing them up. Wolverine is one of those victims.
Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe
Garth Ennis and Dougie Braithwaite – 1995
This is a story about a guy with guns being so unstoppably badass while superheroes are drooling idiots who poop their pants. In other words, it's every Garth Ennis comic ever. Rather than being killed by the mob, Officer Frank Castle's family is killed in the park in the crossfire of a fight between superheroes and alien invaders. He shoots up a handful of heroes in a fit of anger (including well-meaning teenage girls because he's so cool, let's root for him) and Wolverine stops him by slashing his face before being held back by Colossus. Frank is sprung from prison by a very rich benefactor who funds his war on all heroes. After killing Dr. Doom, Frank tricks the X-Men and all their villains onto the moon, where he takes them out with a Latverian nuke.
Wolverine was spared because Frank put him on a wild goose chase in Japan. Frank tracks him down so he can kill him one-on-one and get his revenge. He stabs Wolverine with his own claws and then throws him into an electric fence, where his skin fries off.
What If Stryfe Killed the X-Men? (What If v.2 #69)
Mariano Nicieza and JR Justiniano – 1995
Cable, Bishop, and Wolverine fight through Stryfe's moon base. Wolverine chops up a bunch of Stryfe's goons, but once Stryfe shows up, he has no problem telekinetically tossing Wolverine through the wall and onto the moon's surface, where there's no air. Healing factor or not, Wolverine needs to breathe.
Stryfe only takes out four X-Men total, which comes off as false advertising when Apocalypse is able to waste twice as many.
Judd Winick and Mike McKone – 2001
The reality-traveling troupe called the Exiles visit a dimension where the trial-through-battle between the X-Men and the Shi'Ar is fated to go in the X-Men's favor. Shortly after, the Dark Phoenix (who is totally Jean in this reality and not the Phoenix thinking it's Jean) will kill her friends and grow out of control. As the killing spree begins to happen, the Exiles are able to get through to Angel and Wolverine.
To save the universe, Angel carries Wolverine through a portal created by Blink. Wolverine impales Jean from behind and the resulting explosion kills them. The X-Men are all dead, but their reality is safe.
New X-Men #154
Grant Morrison and Marc Silvestri – 2004
Grant Morrison's brilliant New X-Men run ends with a story of a dystopian future ultimately caused by Cyclops closing the school out of his grief for Jean's death. 150 years have passed and everything is too crazy and complicated for me to describe because Morrison. The short version is that Wolverine is up against Beast – now evil after being infected by the villain Sublime. Jean has come back from the dead in the form of Phoenix and warns Wolverine not to fight Beast.
Not heeding the warning, Wolverine has his healing factor shut down and is mortally wounded. As Jean defeats Beast, Wolverine shows relief in his death, finally getting the peace he's craved for so long.
Ultimate Fantastic Four #22
Mark Millar and Greg Land – 2005
The Marvel Zombies fad begins in this storyline and a flashback shows how an infected Superman Sentry punched his way into their reality and spread the disease. Fun fact: they never did explain whatever happened to him after that. Weird. Anyway, we get a sweet panel of Wolverine being bum-rushed by an overwhelming army of zombie superheroes.
It's incredibly sad and hopeless, as Wolverine wants to fight them all so much, but he's completely unable to do anything but succumb to their hunger and become one of them.
Tony Bedard and Paul Pelletier – 2006
We've hit the motherload here. As a bit of satire on Wolverine's status of being on every team at once, they did a two-issue arc based on replacing the Exiles with a team made entirely out of Wolverines. On one Earth, Magneto had a son named Scarlet Warlock, who tried to give his father Wolverine's skeleton via hexing. Something went wrong and Scarlet Warlock, Magneto, Quicksilver, Mesmero, and Wolverine merged into one insane being named Brother Mutant.
The Exiles' higher-ups figured to send teams of Wolverines after them, but each time, they would be taken over by mind-control. The final team put together features variations of Zombie Wolverine, Albert and Elsie-Dee, Patch, young James Howlett, Weapon X, and Days of Future Past Wolverine. Upon being discovered by their brainwashed counterparts, lots of slicing happens.
Though Patch is captured and brainwashed, Zombie Wolverine succeeds on devouring several Wolverines, turning him obese. Patch later decapitates him (he's still undead) and chops up Albert. Patch meets his end when the real Exiles show up and Sabretooth tears out his throat. Against Brother Mutant, Sabretooth throws Elsie-Dee and Zombie Wolverine's head at the villain, with the zombie taking a bite out of his nose and Elsie-Dee self-destructing. Days of Future Past Wolverine tells Young James to be good and sacrifices himself by impaling Brother Mutant, letting loose a massive explosion. Young James loses his composure and completely mauls what's left of Brother Mutant, presumably to death.
According to the Exiles, 17 Wolverines died in this adventure.
What If: Avengers Disassembled
Jeff Parker and Aaron Lopresti – 2006
After the events of Disassembled, Beast investigates and discovers that all along, Scarlet Witch was really working with Captain America, who has been insane due to being frozen way back when, but nobody's seemed to ever notice. The world's heroes rush to Genosha to stop whatever their plans are (create the House of M reality) and they're split into two teams.
Cyclops leads a handful of heroes to take on Cap and Wanda, while Wolverine leads the others into fighting Magneto and his forces. Cyclops' plan leads to Rogue touching Scarlet Witch, which causes everything to go haywire. All the heroes in that big brawl with Magneto simply vanish thanks to the chaos magic, Wolverine included.
What If: Wolverine: Enemy of the State
Jimmie Robinson and Carmine Di Giandomenico – 2007
This is one of the gnarlier deaths. Wolverine never came to his senses when under Hydra's control and remains their bloodthirsty puppet. He's actually a horrifying threat because not only does he have the usual bells and whistles, but when he's in trouble, Hydra is able to just teleport him away. He's been killing heroes and pulling off assassinations for quite a while and a team of Captain America (minus a couple limbs), Sue Storm, Magneto, and Kitty Pryde go after him.
Wolverine kills all of them until only he and Kitty are left. Kitty tries to talk sense into him, but no deal. With no other recourse, she phases her arm into his head and turns solid, right as he chops it off. With her arm lodged permanently into his head, he can't heal and keels over.
Exiles: Days of Then and Now #1
Mike Raicht and Carlos Ferreira – 2008
Hulk was pretty fearsome during World War Hulk with his Warbound buddies, but in this reality, he's a bit more ominous. He killed Annihilus and became the leader of the Annihilation Wave. He's shown waging war on Earth by himself, fighting near a pile of dead heroes.
Wolverine is shown to be the last one standing and valiantly gives his all. Then he gets thrown into space as the Annihilation Wave comes for Earth. Welp.
New Exiles #12
Chris Claremeont and Paco Diaz Luque – 2008
A recurring villain duo in the Claremont run of Exilesis Madame Hydra (Sue Storm) and her right-hand man and lover Howlett. The green-clad Wolverine fights the Exiles a couple times and is last seen defeating the Exiles' incarnation of Sabretooth. The team has a version of Kitty Pryde, who takes him on all by herself.
Unlike the What If? issue mentioned above, there is no desperation in Kitty's survival. She's more sadistic in her cleverness than Howlett expected. Since she can make things other than herself intangible, she simply gets selective. When Howlett claws at her midsection, not only does Kitty phase herself, but she also phases the joints in Howlett's arm. The claws fall to the ground. Considering she can do that to his claws, we're left to imagine what kind of havoc she can play on the rest of his body. She returns to Sabretooth's side later with a handful of Wolverine claws.
Marvel Zombies Return #3
Jonathan Maberry and Jason Shawn Alexander – 2009
Here's a Wolverine double play. The umpteenth installment of the Marvel Zombies franchise takes place after the events of Marvel Zombies 2, where the zombie heroes (who had come to their senses) were tossed into another dimension by Fabian Cortez's crazed son. Unfortunately, the dimensional travel has caused them to regain their hunger. While Zombie Spider-Man dedicates himself to finding a cure for the plague, Zombie Wolverine goes on a killing and eating spree in Tokyo. While chasing Kitty Pryde, he kills a handful of heroes and Hand ninjas until that world's Wolverine challenges him.
Zombie Wolverine is ultimately done in when Kitty phases a stake into his brain and Living Wolverine impales him in the chest as an exclamation point. Unfortunately, shortly after, we see that that world's Wolverine has a nasty bite mark on the back of his arm...
Marvel Zombies Return #5
Fred Van Lente and Wellinton Alves – 2009
The events of World War Hulkget apocalyptic when an infected Hulk passes the infection to the Sentry. Years pass and Earth is lifeless, ruled by a group of zombie stand-ins for the Justice League: Sentry, Thundra, Moon Knight, Quasar, Quicksilver, Namor, and Super-Skrull. The group is lured to the Savage Land, where they meet up with the New Avengers: Zombie Spider-Man, Zombie Hulk, Zombie Wolverine, and Jim Rhodes, who had cut off any infected body parts and replaced them with cybernetics.
Wolverine's pissed about the Zombie League having devoured Kitty and sides with Spider-Man's desire to wipe out their entire race. Spider-Man unleashes the Sandman at their enemies, merged with a nanites designed to devour undead flesh. Friends and foe alike are converted to skeletons, Wolverine included.
What If: Secret Wars
Karl Bollers and Jorge Molina – 2009
In the original Secret Wars, Dr. Doom steals away the Beyonder's powers and becomes virtually omnipotent. The heroes talk it out amongst themselves and decide to oppose him. Suddenly, a large bolt of energy crashes down and kills them all. What remains of the Beyonder is able to possess Doom's sidekick Klaw and spins a possibility of the heroes surviving that gets under Doom's skin so much that Doom inadvertently causes that possibility to become reality.
In this version of the story, the Enchantress points out that Klaw is the Beyonder before he can do any damage and Doom destroys him for good. There is no unconscious resurrection this time. Dead means dead.
Jeph Loeb and David Finch – 2009
Ultimate Wolverine meets his end when the X-Men and Ultimates take a shot at Magneto, who screwed up Earth something fierce by moving it off its axis. Wolverine slashes at him, but Magneto controls Iron Man's armor and Cyclops' visor, causing them to blast him in unison. Way to not close your eyes, Slim.
Wolverine's all charred up, but he's still capable of impaling Magneto through the chest. In retaliation, Magneto blasts the adamantium from his skeleton, leaving nothing but charred bones.
X-Men Forever #1-3
Chris Claremont and Tom Grummett – 2009
The concept of X-Men Forever is Claremont continuing where he left off on his endless X-Men run in the '80s and '90s. In the first issue, Jean has a psychic conversation with Wolverine as he's in the middle of a secret solo mission. He discovers something shocking and is suddenly killed, causing Jean to scream his name and go into a coma. Later on, his spark-covered skeleton is discovered in a Manhattan park by some cops. Xavier tries to read Jean's memory, Sabretooth sneaks into the mansion to pick a fight, and Jean wakes up from the coma.
All three of those situations flat out state that Storm is the killer. Storm attacks the team and then escapes, revealing that she's working with a shadowy organization called the Consortium, but the details of why she did what she did and if she's even the real Storm are never answered prior to the comic's cancellation. Regardless, Sabretooth joins the team to get vengeance for his "son."
Young X-Men #11
Marc Guggenheim and Daniel Acuna – 2009
In a story called "End of Days," Young X-Men member Dust is dying due to her unique biology. She briefly considers joining up with mutant-hating villain Donald Pierce for the sake of keeping her alive, but turns against him and dies. She's resurrected by teammate Ink, which should normally be considered a good thing. A possible future depicts Dust as insane and corrupted by the resurrection and she takes out her frustrations on what passes for the X-Men so many years later.
She confronts Wolverine in his home as he gets a beer. He's very casual about his impending death, knowing that there's nothing he can do against her. When she blames him for letting her die in the first place, his final words are, "Get bent, sweetheart." Dust envelops him and leaves only his metal skeleton.
What If: Astonishing X-Men
Matteo Casali and Mike Getty – 2010
It turns out the events of the X-Men fighting Danger – the AI being that they used as the Danger Room – happen at the same time as the Runaways fighting Ultron. Normally, the X-Men win thanks to the help of Xavier, but as Ultron finishes off the Runaways, he gets a signal and becomes aware of Danger's existence. He goes to the mansion to help her out and try to woo her into becoming his bride. They kill a whole lot of mutants together, including Ultron shrugging off Wolverine's claws and vaporizing him on the spot.
Or, at the very least, vaporizing his brain.
What If: Father
Rob Williams and Greg Tocchini – 2011
In a world where Logan is aware of his son, he proves to be a pretty terrible father. He shelters John (known as Daken in regular continuity) by never mentioning his old, violent life, nor the nature of what they are. When Xavier stops by to ask for help in saving his X-Men team from Krakoa, Logan yells at him to leave them alone and then refuses to tell John what that's all about. John ends up leaving their home and becomes a big name in the yakuza. Logan confronts him and begs him to come home. John goes on a rant about how the two of them are nothing but monsters and killers and proves the point by killing his entire entourage during his yelling.
Logan impales him with the Muramasa Blade, which negates the healing factor. He tells his dying son that he only blames himself for what happened and turns the blade on himself.
What If: Siege (What If #200)
Marc Guggenheim and Dave Wilkins – 2011
According to Guggenheim, the main reason the Sentry/Void lost during the climax of Siegewas because he was weakened from killing Ares. If he had to do that a day earlier instead of in the midst of battle, he would have been completely unstoppable. In this version, Osborn's battle is a complete slaughter with the Sentry as his MVP.
Amongst the bodycount, Sentry decapitates Wolverine and X-23 with a single karate chop. Don't be confused by that panel of Daken cutting up Thing.
Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe #3
Cullen Bunn and Dalibor Talajic – 2012
Cullen Bunn apparently read Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe and thought to himself, "Hm, this is pretty dumb, but I bet I can make an even stupider comic!" Despite Castle's plot armor, at least he didn't recover from an exploded head in mere seconds. In this reality, the evil Psycho Man tries to rewire Deadpool's brain for his own purposes, but all it does is awaken a dark, sadistic personality that is well aware that Deadpool is a fictional character and lashes out by wanting to kill everyone and destroy all reality.
His killing spree brings him to Avengers Mansion and although he blows the place up, Wolverine survives to fight another day. Forcing Arcade to be his lackey, Deadpool kills off the X-Men, leaving Wolverine for last. Wolverine discovers a room where Daken and X-23 are bound and repeatedly torched. Deadpool fights with Wolverine and uses a carbonadium katana to offset his healing factor. A clean decapitation is all it takes for Deadpool to come out the winner.
Despite there being another take on this concept called Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe Again, Wolverine is spared due to the subtle reveal that the comic takes place in the same universe as Old Man Logan.
Fantastic Four #605.1
Jonathan Hickman and Mike Choi – 2012
This issue gives us a look at the founder of the Council of Reeds, the multiversal team of Reed Richards' who wanted to bring order to the universe.
Unfortunately, this Reed is a Nazi. Through his plotting, he kills Victor Von Doom, his teammates, and Hitler himself. He rules Germany and somehow gets his hands on the Infinity Gauntlet. Many heroes try to stop him, including Wolverine. Wolverine is vaporized by a blast from the Gauntlet. The heroes keep pouring on and Nazi Reed loses control, destroying the planet in a fit of rage.
Age of Ultron #9
Brian Michael Bendis and Brandon Peterson – 2013
Time travel gets out of hand when Wolverine and Sue Storm go back in time to kill Henry Pym. The new present is even worse, so Wolverine goes back again to stop himself from killing Pym. They talk it out and a new solution arises.
Unfortunately, there are now two Wolverines, which will likely screw up the timeline even more. The two sneak off into a cave with the older Wolverine volunteering to die because he doesn't want to live with the horrors he caused with the Pymless reality. The younger Wolverine goes along with it and shocks Sue when he leaves the cave with bloody claws.
Deadpool Kills Deadpool #3
Cullen Bunn and Salva Espin – 2013
Building off of the Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe comic, a multiversal war explodes of the good Deadpools vs. the evil Deadpools in an excuse to kill off all the spinoff characters like Lady Deadpool and Headpool. Many of the alternate Deadpools are hybrids of him and other characters, such as a Deadpool-style Galactus and a Deadpool-style Spiral.
One of the evil Deadpools is a Deadpool/Wolverine amalgam who speaks in simplistic Wolverine speech, such as only talking about beer and mentioning that he's the best at what he does. There are lots of weapons specifically created to offset healing factors brought into play and to take care of Poolverine, Regular Deadpool throws a grenade filled with flesh-eating beetles. They cover Poolverine and devour him down to the bone.
Death of Wolverine #4
Charles Soule and Steve McNiven – 2014
In a time when his healing factor has long stopped working, Wolverine falls knee-deep into a “greatest hits” storyline where there’s a conspiracy/mystery that happens to feature a bunch of his main villains. Ultimately, his quest brings him to Dr. Cornelius, one of the scientists behind his creation. Wolverine finds that Cornelius is still doing horrible experiments and goes on a tear in an attempt to stop him. During the incident, a big tube of liquid adamantium pours onto Logan and covers him from head to toe.
Wolverine still chases Cornelius to the rooftop, where Cornelius collapses and dies from his injuries. Before dying, Cornelius yells at Logan for being nothing but a murderer and asks what he’s even done in his life. As the adamantium hardens, he stands as a statue in the sun and reflects on his many adventures. He’s done enough.
Secret Wars: 1602: Witch Hunter Angela
Marguerite Bennett and Stephanie Hans – 2015
We move on to the ridiculous, but fantastic event Secret Wars. Er, the more recent one. Through the event, we see various sectors of a patchwork Earth that are representatives of different alternate realities. One such sector is based on the 1602continuity. In it, Angela is a witch hunter whose initial adventure shows her trying to kill a corrupt King James.
James survives being impaled and gets back up, revealing his claws. Nonplussed, Angela catches him with her spear and casually uses it to drown him in a nearby moat.
Secret Wars: Age of Apocalypse
Fabian Nicieza and Iban Coello – 2015
There are so many damn Age of Apocalypse sequels and thanks to Secret Wars, there’s one more thrown onto the fire. In this version, Dr. Nemesis goes mad and becomes an all-powerful villain. What remains of the X-Men attacks him and while he is ultimately defeated, the duo of Sabretooth and one-handed Wolverine don’t exactly do so well.
The two make a run at him and are tossed off into space, where they die from asphyxiation.
Secret Wars: MODOK: Assassin
Christopher Yost and Amilcar Pinna – 2015
In the sector known as Killville, one of the greatest killers is MODOK. As protector of the land, he becomes a target of endless assassins. Alongside a Mjolnir-wielding Angela (who MODOK has fallen for), the two murder a whole lot of enemies.
One of the hired assassins sent against them is Wolverine. MODOK easily survives being clawed from behind and gets ready to fight Wolverine head-on. Heh. Head-on. Anyway, at the last second, Wolverine is fried to death and MODOK is quick to mention that it isn’t his doing. Instead, he and the others find an army of Mindless Ones closing in...
Secret Wars Too
Ryan Browne – 2015
In the comedy one-shot about Secret Wars, we see Sector XXX where three versions of Cyclops get in a fight with Wolverine over him stealing Jean from them. He makes short work of the trio by deflecting an optic blast with his claws and hitting all three of them in the crotch.
Talking animal vigilante Beardevil flips over and takes care of Wolverine in an attempt to befriend the three Scotts. They seem pleased at first, but then the bear mauls Wolverine to the point that he’s just a skeleton. As Beardevil throws the skull over his shoulder, he doesn’t understand why everyone’s so freaked out.
This is when the story gets weird.
directed by James Mangold (2017)
Arguably the best X-Men related movie, and one of the best superhero movies ever made, Logan takes place in a future where mutants are dying off, and an aging Wolverine finds that his healing factor is beginning to fail him. As if that's not enough, he has to protect the young X-23 and an elderly Charles Xavier, whose mind has been ravaged by dementia.
Imagine all the punishment you're used to seeing Wolverine take in the course of his adventures revealed in full, R-rated glory on screen. And then imagine that it's not so easy for him to recover anymore. Logan puts its title character through a Stations of the Cross of brutal mutant violence, and Logan expires at the end, exhausted but victorious, and secure in the knowledge that his final effort will help Charles Xavier's dream live on long beyond him.
Gavin Jasper wishes they wouldn't remove Wolverine from his adamantium statue shell. It ruins his collector's value! Follow Gavin on Twitter!
Various Star Wars movies, games and TV shows have been canceled over the years. The Force was not strong with these...
The Star Wars universe is a dangerous place. For example, "man walks into a bar" gags in Mos Eisley tend to end with unwarranted threats, droid racism, limbs being chopped off, impromptu deaths or – worst of all – rigorous re-editing.
Until the Disney buy-out, the world created by George Lucas was just as treacherous for seemingly-exciting projects. Lucasfilm, for a time, became notorious for the number of cancelations under its belt, with films, TV shows and game ideas constantly being chucked out at various stages of their development.
But when did the term "countless" ever stop us from trying to count things? Never, that’s when. So we donned a pointy-hooded robe and scoured the desert wilderness of the internet to bring you what we hope is a complete list of what we’ve missed out on from that galaxy far, far away.
We haven’t covered canceled Star Wars books and comics here, simply because there are too many to count. Forgive us, please.
So, without further Bantha poodoo, here’s our tribute to the Star Wars projects that we’ll never get to see…
George Lucas’ Sequel Trilogy
What was it? The first entry on our list is undeniably the most talked-about; George Lucas’ original plans for a Star Wars sequel trilogy. Indeed, several reports will have you believe that Mr Lucas envisioned a further three films since the very invention of the Star Wars universe.
“It's a nine-part saga that has a beginning, a middle and an end,” said Lucas in 1980. It progresses over a period of about fifty or sixty years with about twenty years between trilogies, each trilogy taking about six or seven years.”
Plot-wise? Luke and his sister (not Leia at this stage of planning, apparently) would have been developing their skills with the force, it is believed, while moral and philosophical problems would have been the focus. Key themes would have been distinguishing right and wrong, as well as passing on your knowledge.
A romantic interest for Luke, as well as his children, his legacy and the rebirth of the Republic would also have been on the agenda.
Rumours persist that, if all had gone to plan, a Hamill-cameo akin to Obi-Wan’s role in A New Hope would have appeared in the sequel trilogy’s final installment, Star Wars Episode IX, in around 2011.
What happened? "Basically what I said as a joke was, 'Maybe when Harrison and Carrie are in their 70s, we'll come back and do another version.'” said Lucas in 2002. “The thing I didn't realise then, and that I do realize now very clearly, is that not only would they be in their 70s, but I would be in my 70s too."
In 2008, Lucas is also quoted as saying that "the movies were the story of Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker, and when Luke saves the galaxy and redeems his father, that's where that story ends."
It sounds to us that Lucas simply lost passion for the project, which ties in well to his well-known desire to step away from the blockbuster arena.
Chances of resurrection? Well, the Sequel Trilogy is very much a reality now, so we may never know the extent of Lucas' plans for a new generation of galactic heroes and villains, but we know the movies have taken at least a few things from his original outline for Episode VII.
Indeed, it seems Lucas has been fairly separate from the creative process in his role as a consultant. “I mostly say 'you can't do this. You can do that,'" he told Bloomberg Businessweek. "You know, 'The cars don't have wheels. They fly with antigravity.' There's a million little pieces. Or I can say, 'He doesn’t have the power to do that, or he has to do this.' I know all that stuff."
“A film about robots, with no humans in it”
What was it? As more of an aside (albeit an interesting one), from George Lucas’ aforementioned sequel trilogy planning, a droid-centric cinematic outing was on his mind at one point.
In 1980, Lucas told Prevuemagazine that “as I was writing, I came up with some ideas for a film about robots, with no humans in it.”
“When the smoke cleared, I said, 'This is really great. I'll do another trilogy that takes place after this [the original trilogy].' I had three trilogies of nine films, and then another couple of odd films. Essentially, there were twelve films,” Lucas added, slightly confusingly.
What happened? A solo cinematic outing for R2-D2 and C3-PO seems the exact sort of thing studio executives looking for bankable shared cinematic universes would invest in these days. At the time, the idea didn’t seem to float, though. As soon as 1981, it seems Lucas had stopped referring to the droid-heavy movie in his interviews.
Chances of resurrection? Very slim. But, if you were paying attention to kids’ TV in the late 1980s, you might have spotted the animated Star Wars spin-off Droids. Although not feature length or cinema-standard, this series is probably as close as we will get. "Droids in Distress," an episode from StarWars Rebels, is a decent substitute too.
“Wookiees, nothing else”
What was it? As above, Lucas was tentatively planning a Wookiee-centric movie in the year 1980.
In the same interview where he suggested the droids movie, he also said “When I got to working on the Wookiee, I thought of a film just about Wookiees, nothing else. So, for a time, I had a couple of odd movies with just those characters.”
Plot-wise, the world of Wookiees opens up many possibilities in the wider Star Wars universe. Life-debts are common amongst Wookiees, which has been played in interesting directions previously, while the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk is one of the more beautiful corners of the Star Warsgalaxy.
What happened? Again, the idea simply stopped being mentioned. To our decades-later speculation-heavy minds, this seems to suggest a studio bigwig shut the idea down quickly.
Chances of resurrection? Nil, but did the ideas here become the infamous Holiday Special, we wonder? If not, perhaps some recycled concepts ended up in 1985’s Ewoks TV series. We’ll never know, but there’s a chance the cinema-going public might have dodged a bullet here.
3D rereleases of Attack Of The Clones and Revenge Of The Sith
What was it? You might remember in 2012 when, in lieu of creating new content, a 3D rerelease for the prequel trilogy was announced by Lucasfilm/ 20th Century Fox.
The first one went ahead, with The Phantom Menace picking up a nifty $43 million in the US to nudge its original box office total over the $1 billion mark. Fans also got to enjoy some podracing-style 3D glasses. They had, er, fun.
However, with the big changes to the behind-the-scenes Star Wars world occurring in 2013, Lucasfilm’s cancelled the rereleases of Attack of theClones and Revenge of the Sith.
What happened? The production of The Force Awakens happened, in this case. Shortly after the cancelation occurred, Kathleen Kennedy released a statement saying “given the recent development that we are moving forward with a new Star Wars trilogy, we will now focus 100 percent of our efforts on Star Wars: Episode VII in order to ensure the best possible experience for our fans.”
Chances of resurrection? Well, that statement concluded with “We will post further information about our 3D release plans at a later date,” so it seems the idea hasn’t been completely canned. With Disney’s desire to push forward in a Marvel Studios-esque model of yearly instalments and spin-offs, we’ve no idea when they’d fit this in, though.
Josh Trank's Boba Fett Standalone
What was it? It's no secret that Disney wants to make a Boba Fett solo movie to add to their expanding universe of Star Wars Anthology films. For years, whenever the possibility of a Star Wars spinoff came up, the first name mentioned was Boba Fett, thanks to fans' unending fascination with the badass-looking bounty hunter who never actually got around to doing anything of note in The Empire Strikes Back, croaking unceremoniously in Return of The Jedi, with a dopey origin story foisted on him in Attack of The Clones. But Boba Fett has mystique by the sandcrawler-load, and that's all that counts.
Names like Joe Johnston and Lawrence Kasdan had long been whispered in association with a Boba Fett movie, and at one point, Disney was ready to actually get to work on it. In fact, just a couple of years ago, Boba Fett was intended to be the second Star Wars Anthology movie after Rogue One. The director? Josh Trank, who had made his name on Chronicle, and was getting set to make a big summer blockbuster splash with 2015's Fantastic Four for 20th Century Fox.
What happened? The plan was to officially unveil Mr. Trank as the director of Star Wars Anthology: Boba Fett (or Boba Fett: A Star Wars Story, or whatever it was going to be called) at Star Wars Celebration in April 2015, the same event where we first heard the title Rogue One. The problem was that Mr. Trank was deep into post-production and last minute edits on the deeply troubled Fantastic Four production. As a result, Mr. Trank never appeared at the event, and there were reportsthat he was specifically asked by Disney executives not to attend. Note that despite those reports, Mr. Trank and Lucasfilm issued a joint statement indicating that he had left the mystery Star Wars project on his own terms, and that the parting was an amicable one.
While the words "Boba Fett" never appeared in that statement, that was definitely what was in the cards. And in a different universe, fans who attended Star Wars Celebration 2015 would have seen not one, but two teasers, Rogue One...and Boba Fett. The news of the mystery, unseen Boba Fett teaser reel comes from Entertainment Weekly, and given the abrupt timing of Mr. Trank's departure, it makes perfect sense that Lucasfilm was ready to give Boba Fett the same kind of red carpet rollout that they gave the less familiar Rogue One at the event. The initial Rogue One teaser they unveiled was little more than a proof-of-concept, and not actual footage from the film, so Boba Fett would have been something similar, but it's still worth noting that this is out there somewhere.
Chances of resurrection? Lucasfilm is currently mapping out the future of standalone Star Wars movies and there's a very real chance the studio might still be interested in exploring a movie about the most infamous bounty hunter in the galaxy. Expect to see this one on the Star Wars movie slate eventually...
The TV Shows
Star Wars: Underworld
What was it? Here’s one we spent a fair bit of time speculating over and waiting for. Purported at one point to be going under the working title of StarWars: Underworld, this was a live-action telly project which was discussed as far back as 2005, all the way up until Disney stepped in and started working on their new movies instead.
After a bit of hanging around awaiting technological advancements, 50 episodes were scripted. The narrative focus was shifted away from the filmic cast, with Ronald D. Moore of Battlestar Galactica signing up to help script. He described the show as “complex, dark and adult." Life on Mars' Matthew Graham worked on the show too.
A Coruscant-based drugs/prostitution ring, the Empire’s growth in power and a potential bounty hunter lead were all strong rumours for the show, which was due to be set between the prequel trilogy and the originals.
What happened? This one, seemingly, got a little lost in the Disney acquisition. Talk went very quiet after the announcement of The Force Awakens and never really picked up again, save for some vague ‘it might be back in development one day’ type quotes.
Chances of resurrection? There's a good chance we'll see some semblance of Lucas' live-action Star Wars TV series now that Disney is working on one for its upcoming streaming service. We don't know how much Disney's live-action show might borrow from the Underworld concepts, but we reckon a few Lucas ideas will make it in there...
Darth Vader TV Specials
What was it? A project here which we only know a few salient details about – the once-rumoured Darth Vader TV specials.
A photo was leaked, from the European Brand Licencing Show (which sounds like a hoot), in October 2013. Disney/Lucasfilm had been presenting some of their Star Wars based work, with one project standing out like a sore thumb.
Spring/Summer 2014 was meant to house, it would seem, some Darth Vader-based TV specials. Whether these would have been live action remains a mystery, since the project never came to fruition.
What happened? Save for this one burst of information, we never heard about the project again.
Chances of resurrection? Darth Vader has gone on to appear in Rogue One and the second season of Rebels. He's also had a great comic book run at Marvel these past few years. Chances are that Disney doesn't really need these specials at the moment.
Detours TV series
What was it? This one was a rather intriguing prospect – an animated Star Wars series with a comedy twist. Star Wars: Detours was a project for Robot Chicken creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich and was set, like the live action show, to explore some areas of the universe untouched by the main series of films.
Set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Detours would have featured voice cameos from the likes of Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, and Jar Jar Binks himself Ahmed Best.
What happened? Disney put the project on (seemingly indefinite) hold when they put The Force Awakens into production, not sure that a comedy series ‘made sense’ alongside their wider plans. 39 episodes are completed, with 62 scripted.
Chances of resurrection? We’d be surprised if those 39 episodes never see the light of day, even if they end up unceremoniously dumped on the internet somewhere. We live in hope that the whole project might be picked up in between the feature film slate, though. Seth Green remains positive about it.
What was it? In the gaps between films and tell shows, videogames have been (along with novels) the bread and butter of Star Wars for generations of fans. It’s no surprise, then, that the cancelled videogame projects on this list go almost as far back as the invention of the franchise itself.
Ewok Adventure was developed around the time of Return Of The Jedi for the Atari 2600, with dropping rocks on Imperials (causing them to explode) from the comfort of your glider taking up most of the game play. The end goal is taking down an Imperial Base, we’ve learned. Up there is clip from the game which has emerged online.
What happened? Under a shroud of mystery, Parker Brothers (the game’s developers) only opted to release Death Star Battle, and left their other Return Of The Jedi tie-in Ewok Adventure on the shelf.
Chances of resurrection? If you know where to look (we don’t), you can apparently find this whole game online. If you’re really desperate for some furry spin-off action, there was also a TV movie entitled Caravan Of Courage: An Ewok Adventure in 1984.
What was it? This is one we know very little about – Vernost’s console, estimated release date and characters remain a bit of a mystery.
What we do know is that it would have been a space battle game, with Republic and Imperial forces battling it out for control of the volcanic planet Vernost, where a miracle elixir was up for grabs, boasting benefits for human health and renewable fuel.
The most reliable source we can find (a 1993 issue of Popular Science) suggests that this was an arcade simulator game, with X-Wings being the spaceship of choice and shooting things being the main gameplay action. Around the mid-90s is the best guess for a release date.
What happened? This project faded into obscurity, with very little mention of it found online.
Chances of resurrection? No chance, lance. However, Star Wars did do a trade in arcade simulators over the years, with The Phantom Menace’s tie-in pod-racing game being a prime example.
What was it? Star Wars Galaxies, as you may well already know, was a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) available on PC. Star Wars:Proteus was set to be its console counterpart and spent six months in development around 2003. Pangea was a very similar project, aimed at next-gen consoles (PS3/Xbox 360, at the time).
Both teams were combined later, with Proteus becoming the focus. The game was set to include Bespin, Corellia and Sullust as settings and humans, Quarren and Kel Dor amongst the playable species.
What happened? "Difficulties with the interface, which created an unattractive revenue model" is the believed problem here, meaning the project never saw the light of day.
Chances of resurrection? Nope. Star Wars MMO fans eventually got The Old Republic to continue Galaxies' legacy of course, but that was also only available on PC. We wouldn’t rule out an attempted console effort MMO at some point in the future, though.
Star Wars: Imperial Commando
What was it? You might remember Republic Commando, the Star Wars game from 2003 which kitted you out as – you guessed it – a Republic Commando. Well, this would have been its sequel, which would have offered the experience of batting for the other team – the Imperials.
In the game you would have guided some of Vader’s finest on an array of exciting missions, not all of which would have included shooting down the good guys, apparently. Returns for the original game’s Delta Squad were rumoured, but not confirmed.
The game only got as far as a few concept paintings before being binned, it would seem.
What happened? Well, either they were some really shoddy paintings or LucasArts simply went cold on the idea. Facts are particularly sparse on this one.
Chances of resurrection? Rumours of a follow-up to Republic Commando have flown around a few times, but we wouldn’t count on it, to be honest. Playing exclusively as the baddies (albeit in a different format) was explored eventually in The Force Unleashed, though.
Knights Of The Old Republic III
What was it? For a whole lot of folk, this one will need no introduction at all. Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic and its follow-up The SithLords have a soft spot in the hearts of many, and, for a time, it looked like the saga wasn’t going to end there.
The story for KotOR III was written, environments made and characters were well into development. Lightsaber-wielding female Naresha was a confirmed character, although little else was revealed.
With the future exploits of Revan and The Exile left very ambiguous at the ends of their respective games, and a whole universe in which to invent new characters and scenarios, there’s no shortage of directions they could have gone in with this RPG.
What happened? Well, around the time of The Sith Lords' 2005 release, LucasArts wasn’t in the best of health, and the game fell out of favour, with the powers that be preferring to develop more bankable titles.
Chances of resurrection? It might be our optimistic imagination, but we still like to think that KotOR III might happen one day. Obsidian (who made The Sith Lords) displayed a tentative interest earlier this year, while Bioware (who made the original) went on to make The Old Republic as an MMO follow-up instead.
A straight-up RPG sequel relies on someone having a change of heart somewhere along the line, but it could be a possibility once the Star Wars universe has resettled post-The Force Awakens. (We wrote more wild speculation about KotOR III here).
Smuggler / Scum And Villainy
What was it? This one has its intentions written fairly clearly on the tin – the game which went by the names Star Wars: Smuggler and Star Wars:Scum And Villainy at varying stages of development, would have allowed us to fulfil our dream of becoming our own version of Han Solo.
Han himself wasn’t the protagonist, as far as we know, but this game would have given us a chance to create our own customisable smuggler in the StarWars universe and would have involved ‘smuggling and trading between Facebook, tablets and consoles.’
To us, that sounds like an ingenious cross-medium marketing ploy and, potentially, a whole lot of fun. Selling high and buying low would earn rewards, while the threat of Imperial entanglements added an element of danger to proceedings.
This one only reached concept art stage, some of which would later be incorporated into The Force Unleashed.
What happened? Around 2006, the project was dumped like dodgy cargo. The title later appeared as one of LucasArt’s 20 cancelled projects revealed in the book Rogue Leaders: The Story Of LucasArts.
Chances of resurrection? Given that the idea of trading between social media, handheld devices and home consoles still sounds a strong suggestion years later, we’d wager that something along these lines may resurface at some point. Blend that cross-platform concept with an engaging narrative and you could well be onto something.
Damage/ Darth Maul
What was it? Here’s one that could have offered a handy expansion of the Star Wars universe for a character who really should have appeared more in the films (read why here). Damage was the working title given to a Darth Maul spin-off game which was planned to intertwine with The Clone Wars.
It was developed by Red Fly, the game would have been given a cross-platform release in 2010, intended to roll out on PS3, Xbox 360, PC and WiiU. The pre-made audience from the TV show could have helped this onto big success, if the developers got it right.
Interestingly, an article by Games Informer pertains to know that this was a Maul origin tale which saw him tortured into becoming evil at a young age. Sounds dark.
Lucas weighed in at one point and asked the focus to be shifted onto Darth Krayt and Darth Talon from the Expanded Universe.
What happened? A while after Lucas confused Red Letter with his request, the game reached a definite cancelation in 2011.
Chances of resurrection? It’s too late for this project now, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see Darth Maul further explored in one way or another once The Force Awakens resettles the universe. We wouldn’t rule out gaming tie-ins to future TV shows, either.
Star Wars 1313
What was it? We’d wager that you remember this one – Star Wars 1313 was a highly-anticipated game that promised us a look at the dingy depths of Coruscant’s lower levels. The game was apparently aiming for a ‘mature’ rating so they could delve into some darker themes.
You would have started as a mysterious bounty hunter and later found out that you were actually playing as Boba Fett. "Exotic" weapons and a criminal conspiracy were promised plot-elements with fast-paced combat and non-lightsaber promising a very different feel to force-based games.
The game got a lot further than the ideas stage, with a trailer being debuted at E3 in 2012 (now viewable online, here). Of all the games on this list, this one might just be the saddest loss.
What happened? You know the story by now – Disney took over, shut down LucasArts and officially abandoned the 1313 trademark in April 2013.
Chances of resurrection? In the form we were expecting it, a resurgence seems very unlikely, given Disney’s hasty ditching of the trademark. Given the hype the game had already mustered from chatter and a trailer, we bet someone important is still thinking about releasing something similar.
What was it? Here’s one we really don’t know much about – StarWarsFirstAssault.com was a domain name snapped up by LucasArts in 2012 which, as ever, caused speculation around the internet.
Theories circulating the web suggested that First Assault might be a Battlefront-esque game featuring micotransactions and appearing on the Xbox downloadable arcade.
The term "first assault" makes us think of either Order 66 (the first Imperial assault on the Jedi) or the early days of the Rebellion. Of course, we will probably never know either way.
What happened? This was one of the many projects to fall by the wayside when Disney shut down LucasArts.
Chances of resurrection? Not likely, but Disney/EA will probably try and edge further into the microtransaction-heavy online gaming world with StarWars at some point.
What was it? Star Wars: Attack Squadrons is an interesting member of this list, not least because it stands as an actual Disney-led gaming project which didn’t make the cut, as opposed to the reams of LucasArts ideas that were cancelled in the prior takeover.
This PC-based spaceship game sounded to us like the modern take on similar material to nineties favourite Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, which introduced a generation to the joys of videogame space battles.
The game would have allowed multiplayer games of up to 16 players, and would have featured several iconic battles including the second Death Star's destruction at Endor.
What happened? May 2014 marked the end of this one, after four months of beta testing. The desire to focus on “other Star Wars gaming experiences” was cited as a typically vague reason.
Chances of resurrection? Not in this form - recovering from a cancellation so deep into production is fairly unlikely. Space battles will forever be an element of Star Wars videogames, though.
What was it? Another ditched LucasArts project here, and one that was looking to cash in on a popular trend in social media gaming.
Star Wars: Outpost was all set to be LucasArts’ answer to Farmville, the browser-based game which has probably popped up in your Facebook notifications (welcome or not) repeatedly in recent years.
Building empires would have been the focus, and presumably interacting with other such empires to add a social element. A focus on moisture farming, perhaps?
What happened? This one disappeared post-Disney with all the other failed LucasArts projects.
Chances of resurrection? Again, seeing Star Wars branch into Farmville-style territory doesn’t sound completely ridiculous, but we’d expect a different name and approach.
The New Emperor
What was it? This 1998 project from LucasArts was set to enter some mostly uncharted territory. A Star Wars spy game, with C-3P0 as the lead, focused on the time immediately after the original trilogy.
Apparently, the Empire wasn’t going to give up that easily after the events of Return of the Jedi and planned to announce a new Emperor to lead them back to power.
Your mission, as C-3P0, would be to infiltrate the Empire and try to gain information about the new Emperor. LucasArts were potentially planning to mix real actors and blue-screen technology on this one.
What happened? Not much is known about this one, but the mildly naff premise of C-3P0 entering the espionage game could well have put some big wigs off.
Chances of resurrection? Um, don’t count on it, folks.
New Rogue Squadron Trilogy / Rogue Squadron: X-Wing Versus Tie-Fighter
What was it? Seeing as the Rogue Squadron brand already spawned a trilogy of games, and then a Naboo-set prequel, it’s not surprising that LucasArts and Factor 5 (who have co-developed the series since the start) had plans to explore the franchise further.
In 2003, they were in fact allegedly 50% into producing a new Rogue Squadron trilogy which would update the original games for a new audience on the Xbox, before the games got canned.
A while later, around the time that Xbox 360 was being launched (2005-ish, then), LucasArts were planning to reintroduce the space-battle gaming icon with Rogue Squadron: X-Wing Versus Tie-Fighter, a launch game for the new console.
This game would have been an online multiplayer experience, with teams of players uniting online to make their own ‘squadrons’ in the Star Wars style of "Red 1 – standing by" and so forth.
Between these squadrons, a giant war between the Empire and the Rebels would have raged, which sounds a lot like a purely-space-based Battlefront to us, which could have been great fun.
What happened? A management change at LucasArts resulted in the 2003 Rogue Squadron revamp falling out of favour.
As for the 2005 multiplayer version, LucasArts were apparently sceptical about providing a launch title for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and instead they went and made Lair for the PS3. We imagine they might have kicked themselves for that later.
Chances of resurrection? That 2003 version actually already got an attempted resurrection in 2008, relocated to the Wii with some added lightsaber combat levels. The project was binned once more due to the financial crisis, despite being dubbed “the technically most impressive thing you would ever see on Wii” by former Factor 5 president Julian Eggebrecht. Shame.
People will always love space battles though, so we expect Rogue Squadron, or something similar, to reappear at some point when there are new films to tie-in with. That’s purely guess-work, though.
Star Wars Fighting Game
What was it? Here’s one that, had it been done right, could have cashed-in big time. Considering the success Injustice: Gods Among Us gave DC characters, a cancelled Star Wars fighting game from 2005 seems like a sizeable missed opportunity.
Of course, Injustice benefitted from the power of a modern Mortal Kombat engine behind it, while the untitled Star Wars fighting game did not, so we don’t know for sure that this would have been as good. Robomodo, the company how were working on the game, had worked on Mortal Kombat titles before, though.
What we do know from that pic above is that the second Death Star was tipped as a probable location and that Darth Maul and Revenge of the Sith-era Anakin Skywalker had been created as playable characters before the game got dumped.
What happened? We don’t know for sure why the game was never picked up, but the closure of Robomodo in 2005 was probably the final nail in the coffin.
Chances of resurrection? We’d be amazed if a Star Wars fighting game never saw the light of day. We’d expect Disney to enlist the post-reboot Mortal Kombat and Injustice developers NeatherRealm if they ever did push ahead with such a project.
In the meantime, there’s always Masters of Teräs Käsi for the PS1. There was a one-on-one dual mode in Revenge of the Sith for PS2 if we remember correctly, as well.
What was it? Fancy controlling your own Death Star battle station from the comfort of your iOS operating system? Tough, because the game Star Wars: Death Star went and got cancelled.
Other than the name, the basic premise (controlling the Death Star) and the operating system, not much else is known about this project. We do know that the ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force, though.
What happened? This gaming product never got anywhere near being fully operational, but the Disney takeover finished it off.
Chances of resurrection? Not in this solar system. However, separate project Star Wars: Tiny Death Star is available on Windows Phone, if you’re that way inclined, which boasts a similar premise and a cutesy 8-bit style (it got binned from all other types of phones, though).
What was it? Here’s one we’re not sure what to make of – among the 20 cancelled games titles revealed in 2008 book Rogue Leaders: The Story of Lucas Arts a project entitled Star Wars: Underworld was listed.
Would this have been a tie-in to the long-mooted live action Star Wars TV series (which itself was purported to have the title Underworld, too)? Or was this a precursor to the project which eventually became Star Wars 1313?
Seeing as all those projects got cancelled, we can’t offer much insight into Star Wars: Underworld the videogame other than the on-the-nose speculation that it would have involved some insights into the world underneath the Star Wars universe we know and love. The above image from a particularly shady corner of KotOR, would almost definitely not have featured.
What happened? As with a lot of titles on that list of twenty, word of this one never reached the public until it's doom, so we’d wager the idea was never at a very advanced stage.
Chances of resurrection? Save for a few levels here and there in other games, the underworld of the Star Wars universe remains a little under-explored by videogames.
We’d bet, once the dust has settled with the under-new-ownership nature of Star Wars, that a game with a title like this may yet become a reality.
Episode VII: Shadows Of The Sith
What was it? An interesting one this, and another from the list of twenty ditched titles that popped up in Rogue Leaders: The Story of Lucas Arts in 2008– were Lucasfilm plotting their own Episode VII a few years before Disney swooped in, we wonder? And was this the potential tie-in game?
Alternatively, releasing a game pertaining to be a direct continuation of the original movie trilogy (in lieu of an actual film) would have elicited an undoubtedly massive press response, and probably a huge sales spike, too. Dismissing it as non-canon would be fairly easy a few years later as well, so it’s not that surprising that a game entitled Episode VII was at one point on the cards.
That title, Shadows of the Sith, could allude to new sith lords, the reappearance of old ones or even the "Sith Shadows"– a group of thugs hired to round-up force sensitive folk for the Empire in the Expanded Universe. We’ll never know how far this game got into development, but it’s an interesting one to consider.
What happened? Again, we don’t know the details on this one. We’d hedge our bets on executives as Lucasfilm putting their foot down when the gaming team at LucasArts asked if they could use the Episode VII title, just in case they ever need it.
Chances of resurrection? There will be, we assume, a whole host of Episode VII-themed games when The Force Awakens hits our screens. However, they probably won’t resemble whatever LucasArts were plotting pre-2008 very closely.
Jedi Knight III: Brink Of Darkness
What was it? Jedi Knight was a much-loved series of games (with live action cutscenes!) that kicked off with Star Wars: Dark Forces in 1995 and lived to have four more instalments (one of which was an expansion pack) across PC, Xbox, and Gamecube. The last entry in the Jedi Knight saga was 2004’s Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. However, there was a time when the series wouldn’t have ended there.
Among the list of twenty mysterious cancelled games that surfaced in 2008 was the tantalising titled Jedi Knight III: Brink Of Darkness. This sounds more like a straight sequel to Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast than a continuation of the absent-of-numbering Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy game, which focused on a new Jedi recruit.
It sounds to us like this game might have brought back the series’ original protagonist Kyle Katarn’s playable character status then, and possibly bridged the gap between Outcast and Academy in which Katarn went from deciding not to forsake the force and becoming a prominent master at the academy.
What happened? Not much is known about why this one got cancelled, but seeing as we only heard about it in 2008, we could assume that the success of Jedi Academy put LucasArts off the idea of backtracking and producing a sequel to Jedi Outcast.
Chances of resurrection? Like Knights of the Old Republic, there’s a slim chance Disney might choose to reignite this franchise once they’ve got their new Star Wars films up and running. Equally though, they might decide to push out into entirely new directions instead.
What was it? This one’s another proposed instalment to the aforementioned Jedi Knight saga, albeit one that would have taken the series in a new direction.
Pitched directly after the events of Revenge of the Sith, Jedi Master would have technically been a prequel to Star Wars: Dark Forces (the first instalment of the Jedi Knight saga, which took place before and after A New Hope), so it’s unclear which characters would have returned (Katarn’s mercenary years would be an interesting focus, though).
We do know a little about the themes and intended tone of the game, with elements of a survival horror game being touted. The game, set during the beginning-at-the-end-of-the-prequels Jedi purge, would presumably have seen the eponymous Jedi Master on the run in the dark and violent early days of the Empire.
What happened? Potential consumers were asked to judge the concept, as LucasArts attempted to gauge interest in a more mature Jedi Knight installment. They responded with terms like "derivative" and "gratuitous," and the game was condemned.
Chances of resurrection? Based on that potential-audience feedback, we would say this one is as dead as they get. We expect darker corners of Star Wars to be explored in gaming one day, though.
Rise of the Rebellion
What was it? Here’s another from the 2008 list of cancelled games, which we sadly don’t know much about.
While the name Rise of the Rebellion has since been given to a fan-made corner of Minecraft, and speculated as a potential subtitle for Knights of the Old Republic III among the fan fiction world, details of this game were never forthcoming, other than the fact it was planned at one point in recent-ish LucasArts history.
Our bet? That Rise of the Rebellion would have been one of the many projects touted to bridge the gap between Revenge of the Sith (where all hope seemed lost) and A New Hope (where the rebellion very much existed). We can imagine an adventure game, maybe with a stealthy ‘hide from the storm-troopers’ element existing in that time period nicely.
What happened? This one never got beyond the idea stage it would seem, with no morsels of info from LucasArts appearing very forthcoming.
Chances of resurrection? This one’s so vague that we probably wouldn’t notice even if it did return, unless it retained the same title. The between-the-trilogies gap has been plugged considerably by The Force Unleashed games and the Star Wars Rebels telly show, though.
What was it? Here’s another. With a title like Rogue Jedi, what can we guess about this game? Well, it seems likely that this game would (like the also-cancelled Jedi Master game), be based in the between-the-trilogies when the Empire were hunting down the last few Jedi. That, or perhaps a time in the Expanded Universe where Jedi were just as persecuted.
Failing that, this could also have been a Jedi-gone-bad/Jedi-on-a-vendetta game, the latter of which could have been very interesting. Of course, we will probably never know.
What happened? Again, this one never seemed to get much further than a title and a logo being designed.
Chances of resurrection? Not likely, though the idea of rogue Jedi on the run was explored fairly extensively in The Force Unleashed.
What was it? Star Wars: Vader, now who could have been the focus of that? Of course, the role co-owned by David Prowse and James Earl Jones on the big screen would have been given some breathing room here. But what would the actual concept have been?
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the between-the-trilogies gap seems likely, if a little too obvious. It’s more interesting to consider where else we could fit a Vader game in the chronology of the films.
Perhaps the game was set to retell the events of the original trilogy from the perspective of the be-suited Sith lord? This would allow opportunities to play out familiar battle scenes from his point of view and also flesh out his side of the story a bit.
Did he ever attempt to break out from Palpatine’s control? Was he going off on secret missions of his own? Did he ever walk around with his helmet off just to scare people? It seems we’ll never know.
What happened? This is another that got chucked out prior to 2008, under a Bespin-like cloud of mystery.
Chances of resurrection? It’s a long shot, but not entirely out of the question. If Disney received a perfect pitch for a standalone Vader outing, we doubt they’d completely ignore it. See the first level of The Force Unleashed if you need some Vader action sooner.
What was it? Here’s an interesting one, that Games Radar managed to dig up some details on from the book The Art of Making Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
Jedi Outlaw, we’ve heard, would have been set 500 years after the events of the original trilogy, in a time where a tentative peace has been brokered between the Jedi and the Sith. In this world, they’ve created "The Council," a new galactic governing body that took the place of the Jedi Council of old. (Yes, our choice of picture is completely unrelated.)
You would have played the last descendant of Luke Skywalker, tasked with the role of sheriff to this fragile alliance. From what we’ve heard, you would have ended up on the run after being framed for a peace-shattering murder.
What happened? This one was ditched pre-2008 with those other 19 projects we keep mentioning. The 500-years-later setting was deemed unappealing to "the average Star Wars fan," we’ve heard.
Chances of resurrection? This game played a part in the inception of The Force Unleashed, but no, we wouldn’t count on a revival of the original idea.
What was it? Interestingly (depending on your definition of interesting), this one seems to have released some tie-in merchandise despite never existing. A quick Google search reveals that a "Jedi Hunter" emblazoned PS2 controller was released in 2005.
Although the Amazon description has since vanished, one product reviewer claims that said controlled offered the chance to "win saber locks with the lightsaber button," which (according to his review) wasn’t actually a feature on the controller at all. Were you meant to play a Jedi hunting other Jedi then? Or a character akin to the Inquisitor from Star Wars Rebels?
The packaging (we know we’re pushing it here…) included a picture of Darth Vader’s helmet. Could that suggest he was intended as a key character? We prefer Games Radar’s idea for a first-person-shooter spin-off for KotOR’s "meat-bag"-hating assassin droid HK-47, though.
What happened? This one disappeared with the other 19 pre-2008 projects. That nifty controller is still available though.
Chances of resurrection? From the total lack of solid info about Jedi Hunter, it seems safe to assume we won’t be seeing this one again. From that product-based super-analysis though, we reckon plot elements might have been carried into The Force Unleashed.
What was it? Prior to 2008, LucasArts were plotting a Han Solo game. That’s all we know for a fact. There’s plenty of stories from Han’s Expanded Universe biography that could have made for excellent games.
His years being raised by smuggler, bounty hunter and sort-of space pirate Garris Shrike could be interesting, for example. Or his years in the Imperial Academy. Or his first encounter with Chewie. Or unspecified smuggler adventures. Or his life after the original saga. Or just hours of playing cards with Lando. The possibilities are endless.
An Uncharted-style adventure game charting many of his finest exploits, maybe including a few familiar ones, would have been a dream for Han fans.
What happened? LucasArts shot first on this one, binning the game in 2008 before Disney ever got involved.
Chances of resurrection? Well, EA-owned company Visceral Games snared Amy Hennig (who creative-directed and wrote Uncharted) for an unspecified next-gen Star Wars game in April 2014. Could this be a Han Solo adventure? We’ll be sure to shout about it as soon as we hear anything.
What was it? Here’s our penultimate entry – another ditched idea from the pre-2008 twenty that emerged in the Rogue Leaders book, entitled Dark Jedi.
The pesky nature of the term Jedi means we can’t be sure if this one is referring to a singular dark Jedi or ruddy loads of them. Either way, there’s several directions you could take the concept of not-very-nice Jedi.
A few ideas that spring to mind are Luke Skywalker’s Expanded Universe foray into the dark side, an Anakin solo game set in his first few years as a Sith, a KotOR-esque story of a fallen knight or maybe even the historic exploits of Xendor, widely regarded as the first Jedi to go bad. Whichever way they were planning to spin it, we’re imagining lots of lightsaber battles and pretty much non-stop force lightning.
What happened? Dark Jedi was binned, like so many, before we even got to know it. Tragic.
Chances of resurrection? Again at risk of sounding like a broken record, elements of this probably seeped into The Force Unleashed, so we wouldn’t count on a new morally-questionable Jedi nabbing their own game any time soon.
The ‘Rebel’ Series
What was it? And finally, it seems only apt to finish on the wildest speculation on this list. Do you fancy being a part of the rebel alliance and a traitor? Well, in an alternate reality where LucasArts made all their projects, you might well have got your chance.
Taking up six spaces on that list of cancelled games that surfaced in 2008 was a batch of titles that were presumably intended as some kind of series or interlinking universe.
These were Rebel Agent, Rebel Fury, Rebel Warrior, Rebel Scum, and Rebel Jedi (presumably the same thing as Jedi Rebel, which also appeared on the list). Call us downright silly, but it sounds to us like LucasArts was planning a huge franchise here, focused on the years the Rebel Alliance spent fighting the empire, adding layers of detail to the original film trilogy.
To us, Rebel Agent sounds like a ground-level first person shooter, while Rebel Warrior sounds more combat-based. Rebel Jedi/Jedi Rebel, in our humble opinion, sounds tantalisingly like an action adventure title where your own Jedi wades into the Rebel cause.
Rebel Scum? Well that could only be your chance, after enjoying all the other titles in this whopping franchise, to fight from the Imperial side of the fence. Rebel Fury? No idea. Maybe something involving a rebel revenge rampage?
What happened? Arguably the most frustratingly enigmatic entry on this list, it seems no-one has ever asked LucasArts what their plan was here, and what put them off. Maybe the sheer scale of launching so many (potentially) interlinked titles turned some higher-ups off? If we ever interview anyone who used to work at LucasArts, we’ll be sure to ask.
Chances of resurrection? This one is definitely slim, but we’d certainly like to know what was being planned.
What was it?"Ragtag" starred a scoundrel named Dodger, a “cracked mirror version” of Han Solo. While Dodger was the main character, players would have controlled an entire team of rogues, including Robie, Dodger's gunslinging partner; Oona, a mob boss' daughter; and Buck, the leader of the ship's crew.
The game would have told a heist story - "Star Wars meets Ocean's Eleven,"according to Kotaku - set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The game would have also tackled "the impact of Alderaan's destruction."
"Ragtag" would have featured a multiplayer mode focused on space combat. The mode was ordered by EA, which wanted Visceral's game to hold the attention of players beyond the length of a single-player mode. Ultimately, the multiplayer mode was scrapped due to lack of resources and manpower.
What happened? The game started out as an open-world space adventure starring a "Han Solo-like rogue." In this first iteration, the project was called "Yuma."
"It was going to be some hybrid between a linear action shooter, where if you’re on the ground it’s Tomb Raider-like, but then in space it’s gonna be [Assassin's Creed:] Black Flag,” according to Kotaku's sources. The latter game allows the player to play on land or board a pirate ship to travel around the map and do battle with other ships.
“You flew your Millennium Falcon-esque ship around, boarded other ships, raided pirates, got booty, and that kind of thing," said another person familiar with the project.
A lack of resources, low team morale, and the arrival of Amy Hennig, the creative director of the first three Uncharted games, were the reasons for Visceral's shift to a linear action-adventure game. Under Hennig's leadership, the project became Uncharted in space.
Just before the game's cancellation, the studio produced three different demos of "Ragtag" to show EA's executives. The demos included an AT-ST chase scenario, a shootout on Tatooine (which provided the footage of the brief clip shown at E3 2016), and a mission into Jabba's Palace. It was after seeing these snippets of the game that EA decided to cancel the project.
Chances of resurrection? This project is dead. EA has shifted the development of a new Star Wars game to EA Vancouver, which also worked with Visceral on "Ragtag." This new game will be open-world.
We’re confident we’ve done a fairly extensive internet-trawl here, but given the never-ending potential of the Star Wars universe, we’re almost certain we’ve missed some films, TV shows and/or games that got cancelled.
If you know of a cancelled project we’ve missed, please do pop it in the comments and we’ll update when we can. Thanks!
Here's your first look at Brie Larson in the Captain Marvel movie costume!
The Captain Marvel movie was announced ages ago, and that March 9, 2019 release date feels further off than it probably is. Brie Larson will play fan-favorite cosmic powered badass Carol Danvers in the film, which will be an origin story set in the 1990s. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Mississippi Grind) are directing from a by Geneva Robertson-Dworet. As far as hard details, that's about all we have to go on.
But it's amazing what a single image from a set can tell you. We've been waiting forever to see what Brie Larson will look like in the Captain Marvel costume, and the first set photos have surfaced.
Check it out:
— Page Six (@PageSix) January 25, 2018
This is a great superhero suit. It doesn't look like anything the Avengers are traditionally known for, and the high tech design marks it as just alien enough.
It's not immediately clear if this photo is from the set of Avengers 4 or if the Captain Marvel movie has kicked off principal photography. But the suit itself looks very much like the Jamie McKelvie costume design that helped launch Carol Danvers to new heights of popularity. While that costume is blue, red, and yellow, don't be thrown by the green, black, and silver look on display here.
The Captain Marvel suit is essentially the military uniform of the Kree, who are kinda like semi-imperialist intergalactic zen fascists, and Danvers inherits her powers, suit, and the mantle of Captain Marvel from an alien named (wait for it) Mar-Vell. Jude Law will play Captain Mar-Vell in the movie. If Carol is wearing his suit, well, that's not a great sign for his odds of survival, right?
Anyway, while that version of Captain Marvel was also known for his primary colored suit, his early look (and some later designs too) were more in line with the color scheme of this design.
The terrific Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes animated series did a great version of Carol Danvers' origin, with a well-designed, and very cool/alien looking Mar-Vell. Have a look:
It's possible that Carol will only wear this version of the suit for part of the movie, too. Marvel Studios loves to evolve their heroes' looks, often paying tribute to their earliest costume designs in the first act of a film before putting them in something more recognizable later. Just look at Steve Rogers' stage gear in Captain America: The First Avenger or the gunmetal gray suit from the first act of Iron Man. Don't be surprised if Carol is in the red and blue by the end of the film.
Captain Marvel opens on March 9, 2019. The full Marvel superhero movie release schedule can be found here.
After announcing a retirement from superhero movies, Hans Zimmer has been lured back by Simon Kinberg's X-Men: Dark Phoenix epic.
Let it be said that you should never say never again. That certainly seems to be true for Hans Zimmer, one of the most revered film composers working at the moment, and the maestro responsible for many iconic superhero themes. Yet despite having a legendary run in comic book-related cinema, Zimmer announced in 2016 that he was retiring from the superhero genre… at least until X-Men: Dark Phoenix came along.
In what is something of a major coup for first-time director Simon Kinberg, Hans Zimmer has apparently signed on to write the score for X-Men: Dark Phoenix, which is Kinberg’s attempt to restore balance to the universe by making a proper adaptation of Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s legendary “The Dark Phoenix Saga.” And it certainly appears to be headed in the right direction if it’s able to lure Zimmer back to capes and superpowers.
The news came from Evan Peters who was chatting in Sundance with Josh Horowitz for the HappySadConfused podcast when he inadvertently let slip that Zimmer had signed on for Dark Phoenix.
“I think the film is gonna be incredible,” Peters said. “Hans Zimmer’s scoring it—I don’t know if I was supposed to say that or not. Simon has surrounded himself with incredible people, and Simon knows this world better than anybody, so it was just cool to see him—he’s so happy and in his element in that world, and also being able to direct and guide everybody in this way.”
Hopefully this means Kinberg is living up to his previous statements in recent months about X-Men: Dark Phoenix being a very different beast from previous X-related movies and other superhero films. After all Zimmer said in 2016 that—after writing some legendary superhero scores like those to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, as well as Man of Steel and creating the “Wonder Woman Theme” for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice—he had lost the ability to say new things about the genre.
“I have sort of officially retired from the superhero business, because… [BvS] was very hard for me to do, to try to find new language [and] say something fresh.”
If what Peters says is true, maybe Zimmer saw something special in the film that Kinberg is assembling? His last major sequel after all was Blade Runner 2049. Then again, he’s also written scores for sequels like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 too. Nevertheless, this is a major vote of confidence in Kinberg’s attempt to shake the X-Men and superhero formulas up.
In the new film, the X-Men are propelled into the 1990s where James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier has become a national public figure, and his X-Men are national heroes. Yet his star pupil Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) will become both the central protagonist and and antagonist of the picture after she is consumed by the Phoenix Force during a mission to space. And the insidious influence of a new and mysterious character played by Jessica Chastain might lead Turner’s Jean to the dark side. The film also stars Jennifer Lawrence, Tye Sheridan, Nicholas Hoult, Alexandra Shipp, and Michael Fassbender.
The film is out Nov. 2, 2018.
Batman just got a new costume, and it's more like his classic look than ever before.
DC Comics has been making tweaks to the look of two of its biggest heroes for the past few years. It was recently announced that beginning with Action Comics #1000, Superman will finally return to the "classic" costume, red trunks and all. DC made this revelation with all of the fanfare befitting the thousandth issue of the original superhero comic book. But it would seem they're not done yet, because Batman also just got a new look.
Appropriately, in true Batman fashion, this has (so far) been done with little or no fanfare. But Batman does indeed have a new look, and we get our first glimpse of it in the pages of Doomsday Clock #3 by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, and Brad Anderson. Sure, the headlines here might be about Batman meeting Rorschach as the Watchmen sequel kicks into gear, which indeed makes for some fun moments, but for me, the highlight is the new Batman costume.
Why? Because it looks like the old Batman costume. Specifically, they finally brought back the yellow oval.
This might not seem like a big deal, especially considering that the dominant impression of Batman in popular culture involved a yellow oval around the bat symbol for over 30 years. But since the 1990s, Batman's costume has been slowly drained of color, first losing the blue highlights and yellow utility belt to be replaced with (admittedly more practical) darker shades, and ultimately dropping the yellow oval for good. It was a sign of the character returning to his "Dark Knight Detective" roots once and for all. He did just fine without that yellow oval for his first 25 years, right?
Frank Miller famously justified the yellow oval in 1986's The Dark Knight Returns with the line, "Why do I wear a target on my chest? Can't armor my head." But that book also saw the return of the darker, non-ovaled batsuit, and its repercussions were felt for years. Over the next decade or so, the yellow oval fell out of favor, and stopped appearing in movies and, eventually, even animation. Grant Morrison brought back the yellow oval in the pages of Batman Inc., in what was probably my favorite batsuit of the modern era, and the more brightly colored Batman returned to TV for the excellent Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series.
The Doomsday Clock costume certainly reminds me both of the Batman Inc. suit as well as the one worn in Batman: Earth One (which also comes from Geoff Johns and Gary Frank), particularly with the size and placement of the logo and that it's raised off the rest of the costume. The shape of the bat itself seems a little reminiscent of the Adam West costume from the 1966 TV series, believe it or not.
Other touches that distinguish this from Bats' current look is that for what feels like the first time in ages, the cowl, gloves, and boots are blue rather than black. The ears on the cowl have been slightly lengthened from what we've seen in recent years, both in the pages of the comics and on the big screen with Ben Affleck's batsuit.
So why hasn't DC made a big deal about Batman getting a new/classic suit the way they have with Superman? Part of this may come from a detail in Doomsday Clock itself. Doomsday Clock takes place a year in the future of the DC Universe. The rest of the DCU won't catch up until Doomsday Clock releases its twelfth and final issue (with the book now switching to a bi-monthly shipping schedule, it's going to be a little while). It's possible that, like Superman, they're saving an "official" reveal until Detective Comics #1000, which likely won't arrive until early 2019.
I'll be sure to overthink whatever way they choose to reveal it. But it's nice to see Batman looking like a superhero again, practicality be damned.
Mike Cecchini clearly spends too much time thinking about superhero costumes. Tell him so on Twitter.
The latest villain swap on Fox’s Gotham will see David W. Thompson take over the role of the iconic Batman villain, the Scarecrow.
As Fox’s Gotham continues collecting early versions of Batman rogues gallery members, it’s hard not to notice that some of their faces have changed over the seasons. While the most notable swapped player has been Poison Ivy, whose third actress iteration on the series, Peyton List, is about to debut upon its midseason return, another major swap is on the horizon for the one and only Scarecrow.
The role on Gotham of Jonathan Crane, a.k.a. the Scarecrow, has been recast with actor David W. Thompson, reports TV Line. The character was played by Charlie Tahan (pictured below), who debuted – in nascent form – back in Season 1, Episode 14, “The Fearsome Dr. Crane.” However, while Tahan reprised the role – in full Scarecrow persona and regalia – in the first two episodes of the current, hiatus-docked, Season 4, his commitment to the recently-renewed Netflix crime drama, Ozark, will reportedly prevent him from further playing the role. Thompson will reportedly debut as Crane/Scarecrow in an episode that airs this spring.
Tahan’s loss will be the gain of David W. Thompson, whose countenance bears an astounding resemblance to the way the character is traditionally depicted in the pages of DC comics. Thompson comes into the role off a run on comedy series Rhinebrook, film roles in 2017 crime thriller New Money, 2017 comedy The Outcasts and – opposite Patrick Stewart – 2015 neo-Nazi crime drama Green Room, with notable TV guest spots on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Boardwalk Empire.
On Gotham, the Jonathan Crane character started as an innocent tragedy-addled youth whose chronic fears led to his scientist father injecting him with a formula designed as a cure. However, it only facilitated his sinister obsession with fear and, armed with a weaponized version of the fear formula, led to his transformation into the Scarecrow, an A-list villain from the pages of Batman comics who was famously played by Cillian Murphy on the big screen in The Dark Knight Trilogy. While Tahan’s Season 4 reprisal of the role seemed to showcase the character’s full villainous metamorphosis, it will be interesting to see what Thompson brings to the table.
Gotham will return from its Season 4 midseason hiatus on Fox on Thursday, March 1 at 8/7c.
Mike Flanagan will direct Doctor Sleep, the film adaptation of a sequel novel to Stephen King's The Shining.
Warner Bros. has found its director for Stephen King movie Doctor Sleep, according to THR. Mike Flanagan, who recently directed Netflix's excellent adaptation of Gerald's Game, will helm this sequel to The Shining.
Both WB and Flanagan are coming off major successes with King adaptations. Last year, WB released It: Chapter One, which went on to become the highest grossing horror film of all time, earning $700 million at the box office. Bringing on a talented director like Flanagan to Doctor Sleep bodes well for this next King offering, which has a pretty big act to follow. After all, The Shining may very well be the best King movie ever made.
The Tracking Board reported back in 2016 that Oscar-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman had been tapped to write the screenplay for Doctor Sleep. Goldsman was previously involved in another high-profile King adaptation, The Dark Tower, for which he co-wrote the screenplay.
Doctor Sleep arrived in 2013, 36 years after the publication of The Shining, and stars an adult Danny Torrance still trying to cope with the aftermath of what happened so many years ago at the Overlook Hotel. Like his father, Dan struggles with alcoholism and anger management, but eventually gives up drinking and settles down in New Hampshire. He develops a psychic link with a 12-year-old girl named Abra Stone, who is even stronger in "the shining" than he is. Over the course of the novel, Dan discovers that Abra is being hunted by a tribe of psychic vampires who want to feed off of Abra's lifeforce, and it's up to him to protect her.
You could certainly call this sequel a bit more campy than its predecessor. I can't be the only one that is reminded of those cat-like energy vampires from the King-penned movie Sleepwalkers, right? Of course, this novel is much better than that movie.
It shouldn't surprise anyone that King's sequel to The Shining is being developed as a film. In fact, it's more surprising that Doctor Sleep took this long to make it into a Warner Bros. board room. After all, this sequel could be the horror movie event of the year, following up on a film as revered as Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece.
Not to mention that with Doctor Sleep, we could have a potential "Shining Trilogy" from Warner Bros., which is also producing a Shining prequel called The Overlook Hotel. There aren't any plot details on that, but one can only imagine that this would be an origin story for the hotel and how it got so haunted. Last we heard, Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) was going to direct this one from a screenplay by former Walking Dead-showrunner Glen Mazzara.
There aren't any release dates attached to either of these films, but we'll keep you posted.
Justice League: No Justice will shake up the superhero roster and the creative teams.
Metal is only the beginning. DC Comics has been exploring the darkest corners of the multiverse with Metal over the last few months, and with that series entering its final lap, it's time to look ahead. After all, a comic book event is only as good as its repercussions, right? Well one of those repercussions is going to be a new family of Justice League titles, spearheaded by Scott Snyder taking over writing duties on the main title.
But first, there's a mini-series. Justice League: No Justice will be a four-issue weekly comic event from Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, and Francis Manapul. There will be additional spinoffs afterwards written by Tynion and Williamson.
Here's the official synopsis from DC:
The super-villain Brainiac arrives on Earth with a dire warning for the Justice League: there’s a threat coming to destroy Earth, one that the heroes are ill-equipped to handle. Brainiac thinks he holds the key to victory, but it means combining members of the League with some of the most dangerous villains in the DC Universe and sending them into battle against this extinction-level menace. The stakes are at their absolute highest; if one of these teams fail. It’s game over.
The timing of Brainiac's inclusion is notable. For one thing, Brainiac remains the most underused, underexplored, and underappreciated villain in the DC pantheon, and he hasn't had a truly great moment in the spotlight since Geoff Johns' and Gary Franks' excellent Brainiacstory from a few years ago. If you haven't read that yet, please do, because it's the Superman III we wish we had gotten. Anyway, Brainiac is also going to be a primary villain on the upcoming Krypton TV show, so it's about time we had some twelfth level threats back in comics.
“We thought we knew the entire map of the DC cosmos,” Scott Snyder said in a statement from DC. “We thought we had explored all there was to explore. But now we know that all this time the Multiverse was nothing but a fishbowl, and now we’ve been dumped into the ocean, unleashing terrifying new threats, and wondrous new possibilities. Metal opened up channels of storytelling that Francis, James, Joshua and I are excited to explore in a big way. When we’re finished, fans will never look at the Justice League in the same way again.”
“I’m laying out the biggest action of my life,” added Francis Manapul. “The Justice League realizes that they need to expand their reach to become something bigger than they have ever been before. If you thought my work for Justice League: Darkseid War was huge, I’m taking the League to the edge of the cosmos with No Justice. Anyone who has asked for Harley Quinn, Martian Manhunter, Starfire, Zatanna, the Atom, Raven, or Doctor Fate to be in their personal Justice League will stand up and cheer.”
The only possible bad news about this is it means that the current Justice League creative team of Christopher Priest and Pete Woods' days are numbered, as the book has been better under them than it has been in years. On the other hand, it's tough to complain about Scott Snyder stepping in with a still unnamed artist on Justice League. Maybe the excellent Francis Manapul will stick around for art duties there, as well.
We'll start getting answers as we get closer to the release of Justice League: No Justice #1 on May 9.
A new limited edition book tells George Harrison’s story from The Beatles to the Concert for George.
Concerts are merely performances. One night stands, usually on a string of one night stands. But sometimes a single moment from a show can capture an excitement larger than the evening. And when that night is already a big night, every image bristles with residue. Photos from The Beatles Shea Stadium concert capture flashes of the pinnacle of Beatlemania. George Harrison created one of those nights with his A Concert for Bangladesh, bringing together the best rock had to offer on one stage at one time to bring a little relief to a sad situation. A Concert for George brought together all the guitarist’s friends on stage at The Royal Albert Hall to celebrate his life with joy. A new limited edition Concert for George book from Genesis Publication presents the images.
The Concert for George united rock stars, classical musicians and comedians to commemorate the first anniversary of Harrison’s death.
“We celebrated the life and music of the beautiful 'quiet' one from Liverpool who became a man of many words as well as worlds, a wise, coveted friend, father and true seeker,” Olivia Harrison said in a statement. “He did all this, and much more, and still managed to have more fun that the rest of us.”
“One side of George was an amazingly soulful, peaceful man seeking karma and all that; the next minute he'd want to get behind the wheel of the most powerful vehicle in the country, driving at 193 miles-an-hour,” Monty Python’s Michael Palin agrees in the book.
“There was a lot of laughing in the band and George was the ringleader of the whole thing,” remembers the late Tom Petty in the book, recalling Traveling Wilbury sessions. “We called him the ‘idea man.’ I miss him you know, I miss him in the night a lot.”
This limited edition Concert for George book “takes you backstage at one of the most legendary concerts in music history, with a VIP pass, unseen photographs and text from those who attended. Photographers Jill Furmanovsky and Richard Young shot the concert. Behind-the-scenes photographs were taken by from Oliver Hecks, Nick Roylance and Brian Roylance.
Concert for George is edited by Olivia Harrison, who signed the copies. Royalties are donated to The Material World Charitable Foundation.
It features an introduction by Paul Theroux and original text from Tanmoy Bose, Gary Brooker, Joe Brown, Sam Brown, Mike Campbell, Jim Capaldi, Eric Clapton, Ray Cooper, Lee Dickson, Claire Ferguson, Terry Gilliam, Tom Hanks, Dhani Harrison, Olivia Harrison, Jools Holland, Eric Idle, Jon Kamen, Jim Keltner, Katie Kissoon, Albert Lee, David Leland, Andy Fairweather Low, Jeff Lynne, George Martin,Tessa Niles, Michael Palin, Tom Petty, Billy Preston, Emil Richards, Alan Rogan, Brian Roylance, Anoushka Shankar, Ravi Shankar, Ringo Starr, Paul Theroux, and Klaus Voormann.
The book tells Harrison’s story “from his early days right through to the tribute concert that celebrated his life, told by the people that love him,” according to the book’s web site. “Photographs of the historic 2002 concert are interwoven with archival images from throughout George's life, the majority of which are previously unpublished.”
The book is limited to 2,500 copies worldwide. Each of the 308 pages in Concert for George is master printed in at least 4 colors. Concertgoers that night were given a 28-page commemorative booklet, bound in a beautiful embossed cover and fastened with an orange silk ribbon. One of these original booklets is included within the folding solander box that houses the limited edition book. There are also four facsimile laminated back-stage passes in the pocket.
Old Wally grapples with talking to Iris in this exclusive first look at "Flash War" in The Flash Annual #1.
The Flashhas been under the radar a bit since Rebirth. With the exception of "The Button," I don't think it's been setting the comics world aflame the same way that the Superman books or Batman have. And yet it's been one of the most consistently entertaining comics on my pull list since it relaunched.
Josh Williamson deserves a bunch of credit for writing pure Flash stories. He made Barry interesting, and balanced the rest of Flash's cast well. But a lot of credit goes to the art team (and to the editors who have rotated in artists who fit so well). Howard Porter doesn't really need the praise - his work on JLAis career-making, and his skill has only grown since then - but it's still worth reiterating. These pages look GREAT.
For almost two years now, there have been two Wally Wests running around (HA!) the DC Universe: one from the main, New 52 timeline, and one from the PreBirth timeline. This has been known by some of the superheroes, but the general public, including his aunt Iris, have been kept in the dark.
That looks like it's going to change here. DC sent over preview pages of this year's The Flash Annual, where we start in the future in what looks like the remains of Barry's battle with Eobard Thawne in the 25th Century. The Science Police start to discover that something's wrong with the timeline, and then we jump back to present day and displaced PreBirth Wally.
Here's the official synopsis:
The biggest Flash story of 2018 starts here, with a special story starring the classic Wally West, who’s conflicted over whether to let Iris West know he is alive—and he’ll need the help of the Flash to figure out what to do! But when Magenta, Wally’s old love, needs his help, the Flash returns home to Keystone City where he is confronted with violent memories of an unknown world…A major turning point for the Flash family that sets the path for earth shattering stories in 2018!
Take a look.
Frank Miller returns to the world of 300 to tell the story of Xerxes and Alexander the Great!
In 2006, Zack Snyder's 300movie brought considerable attention to its source material, Frank Miller and Lynn Varley's 1998 graphic novel of the same name. The movie spawned a best forgotten sequel in 2014's 300: Rise of an Empire, but a proper comic book follow-up has been slow to arrive.
This will change when Xerxes: Fall of the House of Darius arrives in April. Written and drawn by Frank Miller, with colors by Alex Sinclair (who has been working with Miller on Dark Knight: The Master Race for DC), Xerxes is described less as a sequel and more of a companion piece to 300.
Here's the official synopsis:
Persian King Xerxes sets out to conquer the world to avenge his father Darius's defeat and create an empire unlike anything the world has ever seen . . . Until the hardy Greeks produce a god king of their own, Alexander the Great.
"The story has it all,"Miller told PREVIEWSworld. "The fate of civilization is at risk. Everything we have now was in jeopardy. The Greek forces were vastly outnumbered and the vision and genius of Alexander prevailed."
Check out the preview pages...
Xerxes: Fall of the House of Darius#1 arrives in comic shops on April 4.
Your first look at issue 4, plus Jamie Lee Rotante names her favorite moments in the comic to date.
Betty and Veronica: Vixens is Archie Comics' latest attempt to place its well-established characters in unfamiliar environments and situations. (A creative move established by Afterlife with Archie and continued in wildly enjoyable titles like Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, The Archies, and Jughead: The Hunger). By recontextualizing Betty and Veronica as badass bikers, writer Jamie Lee Rotante and artist Eva Cabrera -- the first all-female creative team in Archie's history -- have shown that the titular sometimes frenemies work best when they are banding together in an attempt to rid Riverdale of their rival gang, the Serpents.
In anticipation of the release of the comic's fourth issue next month, Jamie Lee Rotante exclusively shared with Den of Geek her favorite moments of the series to date. Here's what she had to say:
Writing Betty & Veronica: Vixens has been a dream come true—not only do I get to add to the pantheon of amazing comics featuring two of America’s most beloved fictional characters, but I get to have fun while doing it! I’ve been lucky to work with a team of talented, professional women who help make this dream a reality month after month, who all work together to make every scene look and read way better than it ever did in my head. With that said, here are a few of my personal favorite moments from issues #1-3 of Betty & Veronica: Vixens.
1 - Who the Hell Said Anything About Boys? (From issue #1)
Where it all began! I wanted to make this scene as impactful as possible—prior to this we learn that not only do Betty and Veronica envision the same future for Riverdale, and all the women in it, but they both harbor a shared secret: a love of motorcycles! When Betty decides it’s time the ladies took back Riverdale, Veronica’s response is priceless—and Eva’s art totally delivered to make this moment unforgettable!
2 - Toni’s Mean Right Hook (From issue #3)
While Vixens is a lot of fun and action set in a fictitious universe, I also wanted it to incorporate some real-world elements and struggles. Unfortunately, we live in a pretty divided time and while I was writing this, some ugly truths were coming to light in our country. Violence isn’t necessarily the answer to our real-world problems, but badass Toni Topaz delivering a punch in the face to a hatred-spewing gang member was satisfying to write and to see come to life.
3 - Cat-Caller Gets Clawed (From issue #2)
Toni Topaz has been one of my favorite new Archie characters since her first appearance way back in Jughead Double Digest #176. She’s tough, witty, and doesn’t care what other people think of her. I knew from the start I wanted her to be a part ofVixens as the no-nonsense, all-business tough one. I had always thought it would be interesting to see swift justice delivered to a cat caller who oversteps his boundaries—extreme? Maybe. Entertaining as hell? Totally.
4 - Jock Gets Dunked (From issue 3)
There are a lot of great moments in Vixens #3 and this montage was particularly gratifying to write. Again not shying away from some gritty stuff that happens to women on a daily basis—the Vixens (under the tutelage of classic character Bubbles McBounce—another favorite of mine to write!) dole out some vigilante justice throughout Riverdale. Making an entitled jock suffer for his misdeeds with a little bit of waterboarding may not be the realistic answer to an overlying problem, but again, satisfies in the moment. It also leads into a question the Vixens will come across throughout their journey: Do small victories really help resolve the bigger problems at play?
5 - What’s Evelyn’s Deal? (From issues 2 and 3)
Ok, this one’s not one moment, but a couple featuring Vixens member Evelyn Evernever. Evelyn’s a classic character that’s appeared rarely since her heyday in the Little Archie series. Her lack of development since being a kid made her the perfect character to serve as sort of a blank slate to work with—and every good team needs its wild card. That’s Evelyn—no one knows where she’s been, what she’s done, or even really who she is—but she’s all-in, all the time. I have a blast writing this character and I can’t wait for everyone to see the crazy stuff she gets into moving forward!
Well, those are some of my favorite moments—I hope everyone enjoys reading the series as much as I do writing it, and that readers have their own favorite moments, too!
Here's an exclusive look at the covers for the next issue:
Main cover by Eva Cabrera:
Variant cover by Cat Staggs:
Variant cover by Jenn St. Onge:
Betty & Veronica: Vixens issue 4 -- featuring the Vixens vs. the Serpents in a battle in which all of Riverdale is at stake -- hits stores on February 28th.
Bloodshot, Harbinger, Quantum & Woody all join a Hollywood conglomerate.
In something of an industry shocker, Valiant Entertainment announced early Monday that they were bought out by DMG Entertainment.
DMG, headed by Dan Mintz, has had a hand in a number of pictures, including the upcoming Chappaquiddick and Blockers. Mintz also played a role in the production of one of the finest Christmas movies known to man, Iron Man 3.
Mintz, already in posession of 57% of Valiant Entertainment, bought out the remaining portion to bring all Valiant's properties in under his roof. “Our priority is to build upon Valiant’s vast universe of characters from a filmmaker’s perspective,” says Mintz. “I’m excited to immerse Valiant’s fans well beyond the stories we tell cinematically -- from publishing to gaming to theme parks and beyond.”
Very little will reportedly change at Valiant in the short term. Projects already underway will continue - so Bloodshotand Harbingerwill continue on. Valiant HQ is expected to remain in New York City, at least for now. And Quantum & Woodyfor TV still has the Russo Brothers attached.
However, there has been some shakeup at the top of Valiant. CEO Dinesh Shamdasani, COO Gavin Cuneo and Board Chairman Peter Cuneo are all out, though Shamdasani and Gavin Cuneo are remaining on as consultants.
There's been no word on how this will impact creators at Valiant beyond standard corporate reassurances that everything we love will be fine. Valiant's biggest success comes from strong authorial voice, something borne out of meticulous planning, a love of comics, and a treatment of creators that is rumored to be the gold standard for work-for-hire. A shift away from that small group, focused creators where story and storyteller are valued equally would do terrible damage to a company that's grown to be fun, enthralling and welcoming to outsiders. There isn't any reason to believe that this purchase will turn Valiant into a Marvel-style IP factory farm, but in this world of ever increasing media consolidation, it's certainly worth worrying about.
For more on the Valiant Universe as this sale develops, stick with Den of Geek.