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    Priest keeps making Deathstroke fight Super-Men in this exclusive preview.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Feb 5, 2018

    Here's the thing about Priest's Deathstroke.

    NO wait come back! I know we've not been lacking in praise for this run since it started a couple of years back. Thing is, it's totally worth it. Priest is a genius writer who should be appreciated until the death of the medium for his brilliant character work wherever he goes.

    He's a comics neurosurgeon. His M.O. on a book is to slice off one component of the character, turn what's left around a few times, display it, then put the slice back on so they're whole again, but a little bit different. It's particularly visible right now, when he's doing the same thing to Deathstroke and the Justice League at the same time, only the storytelling results are wildly different between books: in Justice League, he's taking parts of the team's image off (having particular fun going at Batman, it seems).

    Meanwhile, here in Deathstroke, he's pulling pieces of Slade's life and backstory apart, then seeing where he ends up before they get grafted back on. What he finds when he puts the pieces back together is always interesting, always some essence of the character that he gets to illuminate for a second before putting the toys back away so other people can play with them.

    That pattern looks to continue here, in this exclusive first look sent over by DC of Deathstroke#28. Here's what DC has to say about the issue:

    Cover by RYAN SOOK
    Variant cover by SHANE DAVIS and MICHELLE DELECKI
    “Chinatown” part one! In the aftermath of the shocking events of this year’s Deathstroke Annual, Slade finds himself at a crossroads as his ad hoc “Dark Titans” team dissolves and even Wintergreen finally abandons him. Slade begins a turbulent backslide to his old ways, bringing him face to face with China’s New Super-Man!

    We've lost his entire support structure, and now we get to watch him go at the Justice League of China. This should be good. Check it out.

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    Turning Batman: Gotham by Gaslight into an animated movie required some deep dives into Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper culture.

    Feature Mike Cecchini
    Feb 6, 2018

    Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is the latest DC animated movie, and it’s one that fans have been waiting for. Based on a 1989 comic by Brian Augustyn, Mike Mignola, and P. Craig Russell, which told the story of an alternate reality, where Batman operates in the Gotham City of 1889, and who has to contend with one of the most famous supervillains in history when Jack the Ripper comes to town.

    Back in October at New York Comic Con, we spoke with the writer tasked with adapting Batman: Gotham by Gaslight for the screen, Jim Krieg, as well as executive producer Bruce Timm about the challenges of bringing such a beloved Batman story to life, how they fleshed out the story, and what role Sherlock Holmes has to play in the whole process.

    Gotham by Gaslight is one of the most popular graphic novels in our library,” Jim Krieg said. “This one has been on top of the list for a long time. And nobody had to twist our arms to do it. When it came up we were all happy to take it on.”

    Bruce Timm admitted that Gotham by Gaslight was a tougher sell to the higher ups at Warner Bros. than some of the other animated adaptations. “This has come up several times in the past and there's maybe even been a little bit of reluctance to do it because it is a period piece, and it takes place in an alternate timeline,” Timm said. “But for some reason we brought it up again and everybody said, ‘oh yeah, let's do it.’ So, I didn't have to pitch it very hard.”

    But the animated version of Gotham by Gaslight isn’t a direct adaptation, and they had to add more in order to make it work. After all, the original comic was only 48 pages long. “If we gave you exactly what the original was it would be eleven minutes long,” Timm joked. “And the other thing is that it's a mystery. If you see a mystery and you know the ending, it's kind of a bummer. You're kinda waiting it out.”

    Of course, there’s another inescapable work of comic book fiction that deals with Jack the Ripper, Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s indispensable From Hell, which, while fictional is exhaustively footnoted with other elements of Ripper research. But Krieg spent more time on iconic fiction of the era than he did on Ripperology when coming up with Gotham by Gaslight.

    “I would say of the research I did, it was more in the Sherlock Holmes area,” Krieg says. “I grew up as a Holmes fan and my dad read it to me, and I read it to my kids. But I didn't want to get any of it wrong and I didn't want to leave any Sherlockian stone unturned. I made the Baker Street Irregulars into Robins. I tried to do as much as I could.”

    But not just any Sherlock Holmes stories would do. “There's actually a considerable amount of British literature that are about Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper,” Krieg says. “There are about 15 books. I maybe read five of them.”

    In particular, Krieg cites the 1965 Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper movie, A Study in Terror as a favorite, if not a specific influence. “It's not a Hammer movie,” Krieg says of A Study in Terror, “but it looks like it's trying to be a Hammer movie. I mean, the red is really red. What's weird about that movie is that it came out [right around] when Batmania was going crazy. And the poster actually says, ‘Bam! Pow!’ And the text says, ‘Here Comes The Original Caped Crusader.’”

    “We took it as an opportunity to kind of wallow in the Victorian world and not just the Jack the Ripper mythology,” Timm says, also pointing out the Sherlock Holmes similarities. “One of my favorite Jack the Ripper inspired movies was The Lodger from 1944 with Laird Cregar. That was kind of a big inspiration on one of the story elements, specifically we were relating to Selina Kyle. She works as an actress/singer very much like the Merle Oberon character in the original Lodger, so of course she's going to do a Can-Can dance...that's their little homage to The Lodger.”

    Timm had a very specific pop culture analogy for what inspired that use of Batman’s supporting cast, too. “When I was a kid one of the shows I watched all the time was Gilligan's Island, and Gilligan would occasionally have these fantasy episodes where he'd get hit on the head and have a dream,” Timm recalls. “There was a Victorian one where the Professor was Sherlock Holmes and Skipper was Doctor Watson and Mary Anne was Eliza Doolittle and Gilligan himself was Jekyll and Hyde. So, this is kind of the same kind of idea. You take those characters that you know and you put them in different spots in this different world and see what happens. That was a lot of fun.”

    “It's a little glimpse into that Victorian Gotham and then expand that and put as many of Batman's stock players in it in roles you recognize,” Jim Krieg said. “You know, who's gonna be Lestrade? And who's gonna be Watson? And who is gonna be Irene Adler?”

    When the first footage premiered, fans noted that they didn’t try and duplicate the distinctive art style of original Gotham by Gaslight artist, Mike Mignola. “I don't think we could have adapted it properly with the time and money that we had available to us,” Bruce Timm says. “I actually think Mike's style could be adapted animation really faithfully if we had a longer production schedule and a bigger budget. We would have had to have a longer R&D development period to figure out how to do it exactly one to one on the screen.”

    “We stayed really faithful to the spirit of the comics,” Timm said. “Some of the details have changed. One of the things that gave us the opportunity to do, was to include more of Batman's supporting characters, like Harvey Bullock and Harvey Dent and Leslie Thompkins to give them interesting story beats of their own in this world.”

    And it’s true, the spirit of the original Gotham by Gaslight is right there on the screen. And those worried about the fact that it doesn’t look exactly like Mike Mignola’s artwork would do well to remember that it’s rare (if ever) that any of these animated adaptations translate the art style of the source material. “What we did instead is we took some elements from [Mignola’s] style and the comic in general both the color and the look of the characters in the background, and we stayed true to the spirit of the art, not necessarily the letter of it,” Timm says.

    Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital.

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  • 02/06/18--13:59: Black Panther Review
  • Black Panther's King of Wakanda assumes his rightful place at the forefront of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

    Black Panther is unlike almost all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that have come before it. Director/writer Ryan Coogler (Creed) and co-writer Joe Robert Cole (American Crime Story) have found just the right sweet spot to tell a story that is deeply Afro-centric and affirmatively political in its themes and concerns, while dressing it in some of the familiar Marvel superhero pyrotechnics and adding a dash of James Bond espionage thriller. In other words, they’ve made a movie that speaks to a segment of the populace who have long awaited a mainstream film that addresses them directly, yet in no way does Black Panther alienate anyone else--this is still a comic book adventure for everyone.

    That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, and the initial Twitter responses hailing it as a “masterpiece” go way overboard (something I have a gripe with these days about a lot of movies, not just this one) Coogler is still growing as a filmmaker and Black Panther exhibits some of those growing pains. But it also shows just how much command and confidence he does have at the helm of his third and biggest feature to date, and he’s helped himself by assembling one of the finest acting lineups ever recruited for a Marvel movie--or any genre outing, for that matter.

    It all starts with T’Challa, of course, played for the second time by Chadwick Boseman after he was introduced two years ago in Captain America: Civil War. Like Chris Evans as Cap and Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark (or Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman across the street at DC), Boseman already inhabits the role fully, finding the right mix of inner strength, physical prowess, and regality. This time, he is surrounded not by warring superheroes but his own people, including his sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), his mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Wakandan spy Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), head of the Dora Milaje security force Okoye (Danai Gurira), adviser Zuri (Forest Whitaker), and best friend/Border Tribe security chief W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya).

    The cast up and down is superb, but the most remarkable thing about Black Panther is that this film is about more than the first black superhero. This movie is about the women. Gurira, Nyong’o and Bassett do excellent work here. The breakout, however, is Wright (from the “Black Museum” episode of Black Mirror), whose Shuri is a fierce warrior in her own right as well as T’Challa’s playful little sister who also happens to be a Q-like technological genius. Gadot’s Diana was and is a huge step forward for female representation in this genre; now Black Panther has four powerful women in lead roles in a Marvel Studios film, each of them with agency, an arc and a pro-active role to play in the storyline.

    That storyline itself is fairly straightforward and picks up almost immediately after the events of Civil War. T’Challa returns to Wakanda to be anointed as king in the wake of his father’s death, receiving his title in a ritual that also involves a challenge from M’Baku (Winston Duke), head of the Jabari mountain tribe. Yet a greater challenge greets the young king: Wakanda’s old enemy and vibranium thief Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) has resurfaced, leading T’Challa, Okoye, and Nakia to hunt him down. But their search ultimately puts T’Challa, and Wakanda itself, on a collision course with a greater enemy, the enigmatic and ruthless Eric Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan).

    Marvel’s “villain problem” is well-documented, with only Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and a tiny group of others providing truly worthy bad guys to oppose the MCU’s stable of superheroes. That changes with Black Panther’s Killmonger: Jordan, a tremendous screen presence already, delivers an antagonist who is complex, multi-dimensional and even empathetic to a degree. His plans regarding T’Challa and Wakanda make sense from his point of view, and there is an underpinning to the character and his motivations that tie into the larger themes of the movie overall (a nod as well to Serkis making his second MCU appearance as Klaue and relishing the smuggler’s exuberantly amoral antics).

    Without revealing more of the plot, it is here that Black Panther falters somewhat: Coogler and Cole spent a lot of the film’s first half in setting up the scenario and developing the characters, awkwardly dropping in an action sequence here and there but not quite making them work within the flow of the story. The first hour moves in fits and starts as a result, dragging at times until arriving at a major turning point in the story that kicks the movie’s second half into a higher gear and keeps it running at a much more intense pace to the finish line.

    It’s also in the movie’s second half that the story’s bigger themes step forward, as T’Challa faces an existential question for his nation: does Wakanda reveal itself to the world, almost certainly forcing itself to share the country’s technological wizardry with the rest of the planet (for better or worse), or does it remain isolated and secretive even while the Earth could use its help? How far does T’Challa’s responsibility toward the rest of humanity stretch? These are the issues that the hero and the film deal with, giving Black Panther real geopolitical heft and making it the most explicitly political movie to date in the MCU canon.

    Coogler and his cast play all this out inside one of Marvel’s most beautifully realized films to date, with cinematographer Rachel Morrison (making history this year as the first female DP nominated for an Oscar for her work on Mudbound), production designer Hannah Beachler, and costume designer Ruth E. Carter immersing us in the colorful and dramatic world and traditions of Wakanda. The hues and imagery pop from the screen, although an overreliance on CG for larger scenes and the movie’s climactic action sequences prove to be its other major flaw: the visual FX, especially in the third act, lack the polish that a production of this size requires and are distracting. I had a similar problem with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, making me wonder if the company should rethink the FX vendors it uses.

    The movie’s flaws are noticeable but hardly debilitating. Black Panther still soars, driven by a uniquely talented director with a specific vision for how to bring Marvel’s groundbreaking hero to the screen and make him, his rich universe and his surrounding characters just as relevant today as they were when the character debuted in July 1966. This is a movie about representation and power, made by filmmakers given complete authority to bring a culture to the screen free of stereotypes, clichés and stock situations. Black Panther makes the MCU, and the world, bigger just by the fact of its long-needed existence, and like the character himself, wears that mantle with dignity, grace, and pride.

    Black Panther is out in theaters on Friday, Feb. 16.

    ReviewDon Kaye
    Feb 6, 2018

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    The biggest Power Rangers team-up ever draws in Rangers from many different seasons.

    NewsShamus Kelley
    Feb 6, 2018

    The Power Rangers comic is about to unleash a huge event with Power Rangers: Shattered Grid (running through Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Go Go Power Rangers) and thanks to IGN we know what seasons some of the Rangers will be drawn from.

    Dino Super Charge, RPM, Time Force, Ninja Steel and Dino Thunder.

    The new trailer for the event, which features Jason David Frank voicing the character of Lord Drakkon, also teases the inclusion of the Lightspeed Rescue team as well.

    The full line-up for the event is below, which will run through both the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Go Go Power Rangers comics.

    In May 2018 BOOM! Studios and Saban Brands will also unleash a free comic that ties into the ongoing event. See below for the press release and we'll explain just why it's a big deal.

    BOOM! Studios and Saban Brands announce the MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS 2018 FREE COMIC BOOK DAY SPECIAL.  Arriving in comic shops worldwide on Free Comic Book Day (May 5th, 2018), this FREE comic is a tie-in to the hotly anticipated POWER RANGERS: SHATTERED GRID comic book event and features the story of how Zordon turns to the Morphin Masters for help in the Power Rangers’ darkest hour as the Rangers battle Lord Drakkon—an evil version of Tommy, the Green Ranger, from an alternate reality. The issue will be written by Kyle Higgins (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) and Ryan Parrott (Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers) and illustrated by Diego Galindo (Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Dog Men). 

    Morphin Masters? Okay, if you aren't the most hardcore of Power Rangers fans you might not recall what the hell the Morphin Masters are. Basically, there was an early MMPR episode where Zordon casually name dropped the Morphin Masters in relation to the Power Eggs in the episode "Big Sisters". The kind of throwaway line MMPR was known for but for years fans have speculated what the hell the Morphin Masters were. Well knowing how insane the Power Rangers comics can get with continuity we're excited to see their take on it.

    Check out the cover of the comic (which sadly doesn't feature any Morphin Masters.)

    Shamus Kelley can not get over the inclusion of the Morphin Masters! Follow him on Twitter!

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    The new trailer for Injustice 2's shows off all four of the Ninja Turtles in action!

    News Gavin Jasper
    Feb 7, 2018

    The further a fighting game goes with their DLC characters, the more pizzazz is needed. NetherRealm Studios set the ball rolling a few years back when their final DLC reveal for Mortal Kombat 9 was Freddy Krueger. Since then, Mortal Kombat’s featured the likes of Alien, Predator, Leatherface, and Jason Voorhees. Smash Bros. has brought in everyone from Cloud to Ryu to Bayonetta. Killer Instinct has Arbiter from Haloand Rash from Battletoads. Tekkenis about to bring in Fatal Fury’s Geese Howard. Injustice 2 has already played around with Sub-Zero, Raiden, and even Hellboy.

    Now it’s motherfucking pizza time.

    Check out a brand new gameplay trailer below:

    And here's the reveal trailer for Fighter Pack 3:

    Injustice 2’s Fighter Pack 3 will bring us the Atom and Enchantress. No big deal, as Enchantress has been obvious from the beginning and Atom’s trailer was released a while ago. But then the trench coat-wearing interloper turns out not to be the Question or even Rorschach...but Raphael, accompanied by his three reptilian bros.

    Can’t say I ever saw that one coming. I’m pumped. I’m not even mad that Booster Gold isn’t there!

    The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are no strangers to fighting games, of course. They’ve had various one-on-one titles in the 8-bit/16-bit era and even a Smash Bros. knockoff at one point. They’re even no stranger to the DC Universe, as they’ve recently been having regular crossovers with Batman that have been outstanding.

    Presumably, the Turtles will be like Mortal Kombat X’s Triborg, who was four different movesets for one character spot (Sektor, Cyrax, Cyber Smoke, and Cyber Sub-Zero). If anything, it’ll be fun to see all four of them each having specific dialogue against the likes of a talking gorilla and a half-woman/half-cheetah.

    In a world where Capcom won’t put mutants in their own superhero fighting game, NetherRealm’s decided that four will do just fine.

    The Atom will be available for early access on December 12 with the rest presumably sometime in 2018. Meanwhile, Hellboy will be available on November 14.

    Gavin Jasper feels that Sub-Zero’s Shredder costume from Mortal Kombat: Deception has finally paid off. Follow Gavin on Twitter!

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  • 02/07/18--14:00: Deadpool 2: Who is Cable?
  • Now that we've seen Josh Brolin as Cable in Deadpool 2, the bigger question is...who the hell is Cable?

    Feature Jim Dandy
    Feb 7, 2018

    With Cable making his film debut in Deadpool 2, where he'll be played by Josh Brolin, it’s been a common refrain amongst casual comics fans lately to ask those of us steeped in the folklore “Who is Cable and why should I care?”

    Five hours later, when our response ends with a pile of X-Men comics being used to light an effigy of Bob Harras while we chant “NO MORE RETCONS! NO MORE RETCONS!” many of those casual fans are often scared away from the X-Men, comics in general, and our homes.

    I’m here today to give you a clear, concise rundown of the history of Nathan Christopher Charles Summers...ha! Almost got it out with a straight face. The reality is Cable is a continuity black hole, but there’s a reason why he’s enduringly popular and I’m going to explain it to you in one sentence:

    He’s a badass soldier from the future.

    That’s the core of his appeal. There are layers (and layers and layers and layers...sweet Jesus are there layers) added over that, but at his core, he’s always just been a badass soldier from the future trying to build a badass army to prevent his awful future from coming to pass.

    Cable was introduced in 1990 to be a new mentor to the second generation of X-students, the New Mutants. He was more militaristic than his predecessors: Charles Xavier, the secretly monstrous founder of the Xavier school, and Magneto, the surprisingly incompetent reformed nemesis. He also showed up packing heat - he was covered in giant guns to the point where he eventually became a parody/poster child for the excesses of '90s comics. But at the same time, he was placed at the center of the third age of X-Men comics, one defined by Apocalypse and soapy family relationships.

    Cable was eventually revealed to be Nathan Christopher Summers, the child of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor, taken into the future to save his life after he was infected with a virus that caused his body to morph into a pile of loose technology. While there, he discovered that he was destined to take down Apocalypse, the nigh-immortal mutant who eventually takes over the world and turns it into a Darwinist shitscape. He jumps back in time and takes control of the New Mutants to help further that goal.

    He becomes an interesting case study in comics storytelling - almost a decade after his first introduction, he actually succeeds in destroying Apocalypse and averting his terrible future (don’t worry, it’s comics: Apocalypse gets better). That set him adrift for a little while, but his core stayed the same. He was a badass soldier from the future, and he stayed that way whether he was fighting brushfire wars in eastern Europe, protecting a mutant messiah as they’re chased through the future like it’s Lone Wolf and X-Cub, or saving the world with his omega level telepathy and telekinesis after his techno-organic virus was completely cured.

    His link to Deadpool comes mostly from two things: they were both created by Rob Liefeld around the same time, and they shared the headlining role in one of Marvel’s better mainline hero books of the aughts, Cable and Deadpool. In that, Nate was mostly just the straight man in a straightforward superhero action/humor comic. Deadpool would do his thing (Bugs Bunny with an arsenal) while Cable did his (overpowered messiah saving the world with over-the-top action). It was a solid examination of some of Cable’s more absurd character elements, while also being a good, epic X-Men comic.

    Most recently, Cable had a new series announced at Marvel. In it, he’ll be (wait for it) a badass soldier from the future, jumping through time to protect the timestream. So it looks like they see what we’ve been enjoying, too.


    - In the Age of Apocalypse, Nate Grey was a clone made by Mr. Sinister to eventually challenge Apocalypse’s dominance. He was shunted to the 616 reality at the end of that mini-event and served no purpose in the main universe for a little while, until he was later reimagined as a weird mutant shaman and continued to serve no purpose but without being a direct rip on Cable.

    - Ultimate Cable is genuinely funny. The Ultimate Universe was a stripped down version of the main Marvel universe, a direct response to '90s excesses in convoluted continuity and overused guest appearances. With that in mind, Ultimate Cable was actually a future version of Wolverine.

    - Cable also appeared as a playable character in Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. He had a giant gun beam spam move, and anyone who chose him was of loose morals.


    New Mutants #87 - Cable’s first appearance. It’s easy to see why he got so many people pumped. Rob Liefeld’s art, while not everyone's cup of tea, was also full of energy and enthusiasm and a lot of fun to look at.

    X-Cutioner’s Song - This 1992 X-Men crossover is almost entirely gibberish. This is where the Summers connection was revealed, and it was all about Cable, Stryfe, Cyclops, Jean, and Apocalypse. The art, however, is actually pretty good. It’s got early Jae Lee, Greg Capullo, Andy Kubert ,and Brandon Peterson, and they do a great job of giving the reader something to do besides get a headache trying to chart a family tree.

    The Twelve- Again, this is not a good comic, but it’s the pivot point of Cable’s story: here is where he stopped being Apocalypse’s nemesis and started being an ex-messiah.

    Cable & Deadpool - This is where people started taking Cable seriously again. It was a fun, fairly uncomplicated superhero book that had great Deadpool moments, and did a lot of good character work on Nate.

    Messiah Complex, Cable (vol. 2), Messiah War, and X-Men: Second Coming - This is my personal favorite era of X-Men comics. The three big crossovers are all very good, and focused on Cable and Hope. Cable’s solo book is also excellent, and you get some really good Badass Nathan Summers stuff in all of these.

    X-Force vol. 4 - Simon Spurrier is a madman. This series is like if Grant Morrison played with Transformers as a kid: it’s got a vivid ‘80s feel to it, but it’s just weird and good. This series prominently features a character whose mutant power is you forget about him if you’re not looking directly at him. And it has Dr. Nemesis, who is hilarious.

    Uncanny Avengers - Gerry Duggan’s latest version of the X-Men/Avengers hybrid team has actually morphed into a follow up to Cable & Deadpool. It’s a straightforward superhero action book, but it’s got good character bits and is almost Busiek-like in its appreciation of Avengers and X-Men continuity.

    Deadpool 2 opens on May 18.

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    DC is upping its younger-geared graphic novel content with some pretty exciting titles and authors.

    NewsKayti Burt
    Feb 7, 2018

    DC Entertainment is about to up its commitment to younger readers. The comic book company recently announced that it is set to launch two new imprints, geared at younger readers: DC Ink will target young adult readers and DC Zoom will be geared towards kids. Both will produce graphic novels.

    The graphic novels released by the imprints will include iconic characters like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and will include storytellers like Laurie Halse Anderson, Meg Cabot, Melissa de la Cruz, Shea Fontana, Kami Garcia, Minh Lê, and Marie Lu.

    The first titles from the imprints will be rolled out in fall 2018. From DC Ink, this will include:  Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass by Mariko Tamaki with art by Steve Pugh, and Mera by Danielle Paige. From DC Zoom, this will be DC Super Hero Girls: Search For Atlantis from writer Shea Fontana and artist Yancey Labat. Check out some of the other titles set to be released in 2019...

    From DC Ink: Batman: Gotham High by Melissa de la Cruz; Batman: Nightwalker — The Graphic Novel by Marie Lu; Teen Titans by Kamia Garcia; Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale by Lauren Myracle; and Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed by Laurie Halse Anderson.

    From DC Zoom: Batman Tales: Once Upon a Crime by Derek Fridolfs with art from Dustin Nguyen; Batman: Overdrive by Shea Fontana; Black Canary: Ignite by Meg Cabot; Dear Justice League by Michael Northrop; Green Lantern: Legacy by Minh Lê; Super Sons by Ridley Pearson; Superman of Smallville by Art Baltazar with art from Franco; Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Yang.

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    The legendary comics writer looks back at his long history with the X-Men and the future of the franchise.

    Interview Don Kaye
    Feb 7, 2018

    Out this week on VOD is an expanded version of Chris Claremont’s X-Men, a documentary by Patrick Meaney that was originally produced in 2013 and has now returned with more than 40 minutes of new footage, including interviews with Claremont himself, as well as other Marvel alumni like former editor-in-chief Jim Shooter, editors Ann Nocenti and Louise Simonson, artists Marc Silvestri and Art Adams, fellow creators Len Wein and Rob Liefeld, and more.

    The film delves into the story of how Claremont broke into comics and got the task at Marvel of reviving a title, X-Men, that had been left nearly for dead and on the verge of cancellation. He not only resurrected the book but made comics history with it, writing it for 16 years (1975-1991) and penning such classic stories as “Days of Future Past” and “The Dark Phoenix Saga.” He also created or co-created many new mutants during his run, including strong female characters like Rogue, Kitty Pryde, Emma Frost, Mystique and Jubilee, plus male personnel such as Gambit, Legion, Pyro, Sabretooth and more.

    Den of Geek managed to chat with Claremont via phone recently to discuss the documentary, and while there’s no way to cram this writer’s storied career and accomplishments into 10 minutes, we did our best, touching on his history with the X-Men, his favorite films based on his work and what he thinks the future holds for the franchise.

    Den of Geek: This documentary is called Chris Claremont's X-Men. It's not called The Chris Claremont Story or Chris Claremont Unveiled or something like that. Were you more interested in exploring your work as a subject rather than just a telling of your life story?

    Chris Claremont: Oh, the most egocentric response is my life story's not one would have done that, I hope. The X-Men is a significant chapter. So, if people want to look at it, mazel tov.

    How has the meaning of the X-Men changed for you over the course of 40 years? Or has it?

    I suppose it comes down to what one means by meaning. There's the meaning that, it was a tremendous and in some way a very long living for a good long time, and hopefully again. They were cool characters. It was an unparalleled opportunity to work with some of the finest artistic talents in the comic book industry of those days and, in my opinion, of any day. So the pluses are ridiculous and undeniable.

    Has the industry changed in such a way that it's more difficult for somebody to stay like for 16 years or 17 years on a book like the way that you did?

    The problem is not staying on for 16 or 17 years -- I mean, theoretically anybody could do that. But the thing that made X-Men unique in its day was that the first iteration of the series that Stan and Jack created in 1962 had run its course. It wasn't a success. So when Dave Cockrum and Len Wein worked together to build the new X-Men, we were essentially starting with a clean slate.

    Aside from Charles Xavier being the mentor and Scott Summers showing up to run the shop, everything was brand new. And the way the industry is structured now, the way that Marvel or DC or Image are structured now, that's unlikely to happen again. You don't have that mainstream series that you can recreate in public before everyone's eyes and come up with something completely new and different. So I don't think that opportunity will come again. I just happened to have the ridiculous good fortune of being in the precisely great place at the precisely great time, and I got to run with it.

    Watch Chris Claremont's X-Men on Amazon

    As the franchise expanded onto the screen, which of the films or animated series do you think maybe came closest to the vision you had of the characters and stories?

    So far, I would say Days of Future Past is certainly the film I’ve enjoyed the most out of all of them so far. Legion (the TV series) is right up there with it. I can't say anything about the ones that haven't come out yet. There's some good films, there's some films that could be improved. So we keep trying until we get it right. That's the nature of storytelling, whether it's on paper or on film. On the other hand I've seen my characters portrayed by some of the finest actors in modern cinema, so I'm not going to argue with that.

    It's generally agreed that the first X-Men movie was the one that kind of heralded the new era for these films.

    Isn't it amazing how the X-Men always managed to be ahead of everybody's curve no matter how they look at it? (laughs)

    Are you glad to see that the Dark Phoenix story is getting a second chance on the screen?


    Have you gotten a chance to see any of it or get a handle on how it's being done?

    I know Simon Kinberg is working hard on it. I've seen the stills that been publicly released and they look really cool. I'm intrigued. But like everyone else I'll find out what's happening when it's out in November.

    What are your thoughts on the merger of Disney and Fox and the X-Men universe potentially being folded into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and how do you think that'll affect them going forward?

    I think it would be cool if Hugh Jackman showed up in Avengers: Infinity War, even if just for a tryout. Technically speaking it's 20 years before Logan, so he's not old yet, no matter how Hugh feels himself. I guess I think it's cool. I mean, if for nothing else than the sheer economic rationale that once the X-Men are back in the Marvel pantheon, top bottom and sideways, ideally Marvel and Disney will promote and merchandise it. And since I've created more characters in the X-Men franchise and the Fantastic Four franchise than I care to think of or Marvel cares to count, that is not an inconsiderable amount of possibilities. So fingers crossed. We'll see. But it's like anything else, there are many pitfalls between point A and point Z. So hope for the best and expect the worst.

    When you look back, are there any stories that you feel were sort of left unfinished or that you would go back and change if you had a chance?

    I don't know about change. I think there are always unfinished stories. The problem for me is my version of X-Men is very specific and very focused and, at this point, totally divergent from the vision of the characters and the concept that is currently in print. But that's the difference between me as the writer and the current editors and writers that are responsible for the titles. It would be the same, I would suspect, if Len were coming back to write X-Men himself, or Stan, or Roy Thomas. Everybody has their own unique version of who the characters are and where they're going and how they're getting there and what should happen along the way. Every new writer has an equally different vision.

    What are you currently working on yourself?

    Stories that are unique and fun, I hope. I never talk about work in progress because once I talk about it I don't do it anymore. When it's done and sold, then I start shouting from the rooftops but until then, it's bad luck.

    Chris Claremont’s X-Men is out now on VOD.

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    We've got an exclusive first look at the cover art for an upcoming issue of the Star Trek: Discovery comic tie-in.

    News Kayti Burt
    Feb 8, 2018

    Not quite done exploring the Mirrorverse of Star Trek: Discovery? You're in luck! IDW Publishing is releasing a comic book miniseries called Succession that will be set in the Mirror Universe, directly tying into the events of the second half of Discovery Season 1.

    We've got an exclusive sneak peak at the cover art for the second edition of the series, Succession #2, and it features a gorgeous rendering of Michelle Yeoh's character Emperor Phillippa Georgiou, as imagined by artist Elizabeth Beals. Check it out...

    This is a pretty epic cover, with a focus on one of the most charismatic characters of the second half of Season 1. Whatever fate awaits Emperor Georgiou in the season finale, someting tells me we'll be desperate for more insight into her character by the time Succession rolls around.

    When is that, exactly? The first of the four-issues of Star Trek: Discovery: Succession will be released on April 25. Each issue of the series will come with a regular "A" cover, a photo cover, a "ships of the line" cover by Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire, and a variant cover. The cover image above is the variant cover for the second issue. The 32-page second issue will hit stores on May 23, so mark your calendars.

    Like Star Trek: Discovery: The Light of Kahless, the first comic tie-in to Discovery, Succession will be written by Discovery writer Kristen Beyer and veteran Star Trek comic book writer Mike Johnson. We interviewed Beyer and Johnson back in November about the constraints and joys of writing a tie-in Star Trek  comic, if you want to hear more about their perspective on how to write a good Star Trek story. 

    In addition to The Light of Kahless and Succession, IDW is also publishing a one-off annual centered around Stamets character in March, which will tell the story of how Stamets and his old science partner came to discover the mycelial network, as well as how Stamets and Culber first met. (I mean we already know there was opera, but there's gotta be more to the story.)

    What do you think of the Succession cover? What do you hope to learn about Emperor Georgiou? Let us know in the comments below...

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    As we get ready for the Venom movie, we take a look back at the oddball moments in the alien-clad character's history.

    The ListsGavin Jasper
    Feb 8, 2018

    Ever since popping in during the late-80's, Venom has been popular enough to show up all over the place. He's been a vengeful supervillain and he's been a mentally-unhinged would-be superhero. He's been part of the Sinister Six and he's been part of the Secret Avengers. The costume has latched onto various hosts and three of them have been used as soldiers for the government. An inventive idea that's starred in more bad stories than good, the alien symbiote has found itself in a lot of crazy situations.

    With the Venom movie on the way, I thought I'd take some time to look through Venom's history and some of the more eyebrow-raising moments. Except for anything from Spider-Man 3 because my therapist tells me I'm not ready to talk about that yet.


    Spider-Man: The Video Game (1991)

    The Spider-Man arcade game is fun to play, but good luck trying to make sense of the narrative. Having Black Cat accompany Spider-Man makes enough sense, but having Hawkeye and Namor as playable is just weird. At the end of the first level, you fight Venom. Once he's defeated, he's possessed by some mystical artifact and it enlarges him to about 25-feet-tall. After being beaten down to normal size again, he gives it another go and is once again wiped out. That appears to be the last you hear from him.

    Late in the game, you find out that Kingpin isn't the game's big villain after all. He's working under Dr. Doom, meaning a trip down to Latveria for the climax. You'd think that taking out Dr. Doom (twice, since the first is a Doombot) would be the finale, but no. Once Doom is taken out, he unleashes the TRUE final boss! An army of Venoms literally rain from the top of the screen and you have to fight them all off. How random.

    Coincidentally, Dr. Doom would unleash an army of symbiotes onto the populace in Bendis' Mighty Avengers many years later.


    Venom: The Madness (1993)

    Ann Nocenti and Kelley Jones did a 3-issue arc with an interesting hook. See, Spider-Man was joined with a sentient parasite and thought it was too insane to keep around. Eddie Brock didn't have that opinion and gladly became Venom. So what if you added a third creature to the mix that drove Venom so insane that Eddie had to put his foot down and get rid of it?

    After being stomped down on by Juggernaut to the point that he was inches from death, Venom was joined with a sentient virus made out of mercury. It healed him up and jacked up his strength, while at the same time giving him extra arms and tiny head sticking out of his neck because this is an Ann Nocenti comic. Unfortunately, Venom went a little too extreme and not in a good way. Like, he at one point attempted to rape his girlfriend because he was more impulsive than ever. It's seriously messed up.

    Luckily, Juggernaut showed up for round two to interrupt that and Madness Venom was able to hold his own against the unstoppable one. He didn't get a chance to finish Juggernaut off because he's whisked away to a realm of madness, where he was attacked by dark copies of Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Ghost Rider. Comics!


    What If #114 (1998)

    The final issue of the 90's run of What If was a pretty cool one with a story based on Secret Wars. What if the Beyonder and Galactus killed each other and all the heroes and villains were stranded? 25 years later, we see a society where the survivors have paired up and reproduced. The main protagonists are the children of She-Hulk and Hawkeye, Wolverine and Storm, Human Torch and Wasp, Thor and Enchantress as well as Captain America and Rogue (try not to think too hard about how that one works). Remember, though, that this is based on the story where Spider-Man got his black costume. It's shown that he's still wearing it and with two and a half decades since its introduction, what could this mean?

    Late in the story, the heroes all swarm Dr. Doom's castle and in one panel, Spider-Man is hit with one of Klaw's sonic blasts. It reveals that all that's left of Peter Parker is a skeleton. The symbiote has been controlling his remains like a puppet for who knows how many years. Yet this doesn't even faze Human Torch, who saves him and lends him a quip, as if he's long accepted that his buddy is just a pile of bones controlled by talking spandex.


    Various (1993-1998)

    This one isn't so much a "moment," but it's so deliciously 90's comics that I have to mention it. Back in that decade, Venom became popular enough to get his own run as an anti-hero in San Francisco...which then got him relocated to New York City because they needed those easy-to-write Spider-Man crossovers.

    Except...Marvel had a peculiar way of running Venom's ongoing. On one hand, it really was an ongoing series. It started in February of 1993 and the last issue was January of 1998. Sixty issues across five years without a single month being off. On the other hand, they didn't treat it that way. There was no Venom #7. Rather than streamline all the comics into one easy-to-follow series, Marvel turned every single story arc into its own miniseries. What's going to sell better, a comic with a random number attached, or a Venom comic with a big #1 on the cover?

    In the end, other than Venom #1-60, we got Venom: Lethal Protector #1-6Venom: Funeral Pyre #1-3Venom: The Madness #1-3Venom: The Mace #1-3Venom: The Enemy Within #1-3Venom: Nights of Vengeance #1-4Venom: Separation Anxiety #1-4Venom: Carnage Unleashed #1-4Venom: Sinner Takes All #1-5Venom: Along Came a Spider #1-4Venom: The Hunted #1-3Venom: The Hunger #1-4Venom: Tooth and Claw #1-3Venom: On Trial #1-3Venom: License to Kill #1-3Venom: Sign of the Boss #1-2 and Venom: Finale #1-3. All that and a bunch of specials mixed in there. I guess marketing trumps a coherent reading order.


    What If #44 (1992)

    Kurt Busiek and Luke McDonnell collaborated for one hell of a comic in What If Venom Had Possessed the Punisher? Frank Castle stops into a church moments before Eddie Brock and because of this, he becomes the host for the symbiote. At first it helps him with his war on crime, but it begins to take over more and more and even tries to make him kill Spider-Man.

    It all comes to a head when the Punisher fights Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Moon Knight on a rooftop. Spider-Man hits him with a sonic blast and it allows Frank to wrest control for just a moment. He shoots the sonic cannon and goes into a vegetative state. Inside his head, we see a really sweet sequence of Frank in his Vietnam gear as he feels himself being stalked by the creature. He changes into his Punisher duds, screams that he's not afraid, and fights the creature head on.

    It's a completely badass scene, but the best part is still Moon Knight excitedly yelling that he's a creature of mysticism – AND THE MOON! Somehow saying that wins him the benefit of the doubt.


    Venom #36 (2013)

    Cullen Bunn really did try to make his Venom run work, but a lot of the time, things never really clicked. In the latter part of his run, Flash Thompson Venom hangs out in Philadelphia and hunts down any information he can on crime boss Lord Ogre. Some criminals drive off and escape him and he's a bit disappointed that he doesn't have a ride of his own. He sees the husk of an old car with the wheels stripped off and gets an idea.

    Existing for just one hell of a splash page, the Venom-Mobile shows that apparently the symbiote is able to work on machines too if the story calls for it. Either way, it's certainly a step up from the Spider-Mobile.


    Dark Reign: The Sinister Spider-Man #4 (2009)

    Brian Reed and Chris Bachalo's take on Mac Gargan Venom is a super fun read, telling the story of a horndog cannibal who's treated by the media as a great hero. Under the guise of Spider-Man of the Dark Avengers, Venom causes all sorts of trouble and makes a million enemies in his wake. The climax is at a big festival in the middle of Time Square. Norman Osborn gives Bullseye and Daken the orders to take Gargan out, since he's more trouble than he's worth. Since Bullseye can make any object into a lethal weapon, he chooses to use a tiny yapping dog.

    The dog doesn't kill Venom, but it does get lodged deep into his eye. Venom proceeds to fight off Bullseye, Daken, various gang members, and a group of half-eaten supervillains out for revenge...all while he has a dog in his eye. Once cooler heads prevail, he finally pops it out of his socket and discards the poor guy off into the distance.


    What The--?! #20 (1992)

    Spider-Ham was a creation of the 80's and his star wore out before Venom's introduction. The character was reprised in the early 90's as part of Marvel's parody comic What The--?! Issue #20 features a crossover between various regulars of the series in an adventure called the Infinity Wart. Forbush Man, Spider-Ham, Milk & Cookies, and Wolverina team up and face their evil selves. For Spider-Ham, it's an excuse to introduce his Venom counterpart, Pork Grind.

    Speaking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pork Grind fights Spider-Ham and Milk & Cookies. He mostly manhandles them until Spider-Ham eats his spinach and punches him out. Coincidentally, this is not the last entry on the list to feature Austrian Venom.


    Venom: Sign of the Boss #1 (1997)

    Venom's 90's series became delightfully silly by the end, partially because they introduced a plot device where the symbiote was placated by eating chocolate. Believe it or not, there's actually a really well-written explanation for why the symbiote is calmed by chocolate, but that's neither here nor there. During the last couple story arcs, Venom is forced to work as an agent for the government or else they'll detonate the bomb in his chest. He's given an assignment to lay low in a church for some big speech on peace by a foreign leader. If anyone makes a move, Venom is to be alerted to spring into action and stop the assassination, but not a moment sooner.

    The symbiote is able to mimic any form of clothing and disguise Eddie in all sorts of ways. That makes it extra funny when of all disguises, Eddie wears a nun's habit and asks the choirboys to not sing quite as high-pitched as it gives him a bit of a headache. Some gun-carrying thugs take them hostage, but Venom has to wait until he gets clearance to reveal himself.

    Once he does, he violently murders the henchmen in front of the children, not realizing that he's traumatizing them into oblivion. Once finished, he tells them that violence is more of an adult thing and offers a chocolate bar to one of the kids. Because of course he has a candy bar on him. The boy is practically catatonic in fear, especially when Venom yells, "Come on! Take it!" Then Venom gets all huffy and offended, not understanding why he isn't being thanked.


    Venom #11 (2004)

    Daniel Way's Venom series from the mid-00's is really, really bad and should not be read ever. It's mean-spirited, overly-complicated, and has nothing resembling payoff whatsoever. It's also a comic where Venom himself – at least the Eddie Brock incarnation – doesn't show up until the 11th issue. You see, the symbiote terrorizing everyone all this time is a clone. #11 starts a three-issue story that explains the clone's origin.

    It has to do with a fight where Venom beats on Spider-Man until the Fantastic Four arrive to stop him. At first, Thing is able to overpower Venom, until Venom fights back by making out with him...TO THE DEATH.

    Venom shoving his tongue down Thing's throat is one of the grosser things I've seen in a comic, but it actually serves its narrative purpose. Human Torch burns the tongue off and Thing coughs it up. A bystander picks the tongue up, brings it home and tries to sell it on eBay. He's immediately made a target by an old man made out of nannites who is really the force behind Noah's Ark and—oh my God, I don't want to get into any more of the plot of this series. Moving on.


    Venom #13.4 (2012)

    During the Rick Remender Venom series, Flash Thompson Venom starred in a crossover called The Circle of Four. It's quite a brilliant little concept that took me a minute to grasp. In the 90s, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk, and Ghost Rider teamed up to become the New Fantastic Four. Here we have a similar grouping with Venom, X-23, Red Hulk, and the female Ghost Rider that everyone's completely forgotten about five minutes after her series ended.

    The four join forces to help save Las Vegas from the clutches of Blackheart, who is trying to create Hell on Earth. With the exception of X-23, the team joins together to make their own special version of Captain Planet, only more soul-shatteringly badass. Riding a giant motorcycle is Red Hulk, who has become the host for both the Spirit of Vengeance and the Venom symbiote. This is the cliffhanger before the final issue and it still makes me smile. I'm surprised the final issue isn't Blackheart throwing his hands up and saying, "Yeah, this isn't worth it. Sorry for all the trouble I caused, everyone," and going back to Hell where it's safer.


    What If: The Other (2007)

    The What If issue based on the Other tells the tale of Peter Parker refusing to break out of his cocoon and embrace his inner-spider. The world and his loved ones think he's dead, so he's going to keep it that way. The Venom symbiote senses that Peter's body is just sitting around, unused, and leaves Mac Gargan's body. It attaches itself to Peter's husk and is pretty pleased with being one with its original and favorite host once again. Peter has no consciousness to speak of, so the symbiote is completely running the show. Calling himself Poison, the creature confronts Mary Jane and wants her to be his mate. She tells him off and he leaves her be.

    With Mary Jane not an option, Poison goes for an even grosser route. He spawns a symbiote offspring and uses it to control the rotting dead body of Gwen Stacy. You can thank Peter David for this piece of alien necrophilia incest. You can also thank him for...


    Incredible Hulk vs. Venom (1994)

    This is a comic released by Unicef that deals with Venom and Hulk fighting each other and then teaming up because a series of earthquakes are tearing apart San Francisco. A mad scientist calling himself Dr. Bad Vibes (not the villain from the C.O.P.S. cartoon, I checked) insists that he's been causing the earthquakes with his earthquake machine. Hulk has the mind of one of the world's greatest scientists and Venom is an accomplished journalist. Truly, they can put their minds together and figure out a great strategy in stopping Bad Vibes' reign of terror before it's too late.

    Their plan is to quote Saturday Night Live.

    Yes, they go into a news broadcast to do a Hans and Franz impression, complete with clapping. Honest to God, when I first read this scene, I had to put down the comic, get up, and just walk away because I simply could not deal with this.


    Venom: Carnage Unleashed #4 (1995)

    Thing with the symbiote is that the writers can tack on nearly any kind of ability and you can buy it because it's a blob from outer space that gives people super strength and copies Spider-Man's powers. Turns a car into a monster car? Sure, why not? Makes you immune to noxious gas? I buy it. Makes it harder for psychics to gain control? Makes sense to me.

    Larry Hama created the most outlandish use of the symbiote's abilities with his Carnage Unleashed storyline. Carnage Unleashed – a story created based on the success of the Maximum Carnage video game – is about a Carnage-based video game that's become a big deal. It's about to be launched to the public with online multiplayer and Carnage's plan is to use this to his advantage and kill as many players as possible. How? By using his brand-new power of using the symbiote to travel through the internet!

    The comic keeps stacking on more and more instances of, "Computers do not work that way!" that escalates to the point that Venom and Carnage are fighting inside cyberspace and it's being broadcast on the big screen in Time Square. Coincidentally, people are able to hear their banter despite, you know, there being no audio on that big screen. Venom wins when he sees a heat sink and destroys it, which causes a huge explosion that hurts them both and knocks them out of their computers. It is the stupidest, most glorious goddamn thing.


    All-Access #1 (1996)

    Ah, Access. For those of you who don't know or remember, Access was a superhero jointly owned by DC and Marvel whose job was to make sure that both worlds remained separate and don't bleed into each other. Considering they've been refusing to do a crossover since JLA/Avengers, it's been a pretty successful decade and a half. Way to go!

    Following the events of Marvel vs. DC, Access starred in his own miniseries based on keeping the peace via cosmic segregation. In the first issue, Venom finds himself in Metropolis and Ron Marz chooses to forget that Venom is supposed to be kind of a good guy around this time. Instead, Venom goes on a rampage until Superman and his post-resurrection mullet arrive. This should be a simple fight. Superman moves planets with his bare hands and Venom is just a stronger Spider-Man with a bucket full of weaknesses.

    Then Venom throws Superman around like a ragdoll. The two have several fights and each time, Venom absolutely humbles Superman, making him look like a complete joke. Access brings Spider-Man into the DC world to help fight Venom and even that isn't enough! Put Superman and Spider-Man together against one threat and he still kicks their asses.

    The only reason Venom loses is because Access shows up with a giant sonic cannon loaned from STAR Labs. Afterwards, Spider-Man tells Superman that Eddie Brock was never easy to get along with, what with him being a newspaper reporter. Then Spider-Man wonders why he's getting the silent glare.

    A great contrast to this story is the Spider-Man/Batman crossover from a year or so earlier. That comic features Batman beating Carnage in a straight-up fight. No sonics. No fire. Just lots of punches. Batman beat up Carnage, who regularly used to beat up Venom, who beat up Superman. Somewhere, a Batman fan is yelling at a Superman fan, "See?! I told you so!"

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    Every actor from the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come together for a class photo commemorating its 10-year anniversary.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Feb 8, 2018

    Considering the unprecedented enormity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the ambitious shared universe of films from the Disney-owned Marvel Studios, it’s bizarre to think back to the comparatively quaint movie endeavor with which it launched, 2008’s original Iron Man. Yet, in 2018, rounding the 10-year anniversary of that fateful film launch, the man who starred in the original unlikely hit, Robert Downey Jr., stands proudly in the center of a “class photo,” with a 79-person collection of actors and creative personnel who have been part of the MCU.

    Just about every actor who has ever appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as its behind-the-scenes visionary in Marvel Studios president, Kevin Feige, assembled for what is being dubbed a "Class Photo," marking the 10-year mark of the industry-transforming film continuity’s launch with Iron Man. That movie made its armored, palladium-powered arrival on May 2, 2008; a time in the pop culture parlance when mentioning Apple’s iPhone only referred to its first-generation release, and comic book movies were sporadic entities unto themselves.

    Yet, Iron Man, dubiously brandishing a then-fallen star in Downey, made a compelling, pathos-packed arrival, boldly calling its shot in a precedence-setting post-credits scene in which Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury debuted with a fateful entreaty for the “Avenger Initiative,” hinting of a larger cinematic world.

    Of course, the celebratory atmosphere of the photo shoot is also complemented with the idea of an impending bittersweet moment that starts in May with Avengers: Infinity War, which teams the film continuity’s major players against the perennially teased cosmic threat of the Mad Titan, Thanos. That film, while representing a surreal fan-demanded mega-movie, will be the first part of a two-film event (concluding with an untiled fourth Avengers film in 2019,) that will turn a crucial page in the MCU, presumably allowing its veteran headliners – notably Downey – to finally pass the baton to the newer players such as the present Brie Larson, who, in March 2019, will headline the MCU’s first female-headed hero film, Captain Marvel.

    Yet, there’s also potential for grander change afoot, with the recent news of Disney’s major corporate acquisition in the impending purchase of 21st Century Fox. While the deal is likely to become the fixation of the Federal Trade Commission, it could very well yield the fan-friendly occurrence of uniting Marvel Comics’ intellectual-property-separated lineup– notably including Fox-owned properties in the X-Men movies and Fantastic Four– into a grandiose juggernaut of a movie universe under the MCU tentpole. Indeed, as surreal as this 10-year anniversary "Class Photo" appears, it’s quite possible that a prospective 20-year anniversary photo will require an outdoor shoot, due to sheer volume of personnel.

    Avengers: Infinity War will arrive on May 4, showcasing a different kind of reunion in a colossal battle to prevent Thanos from completing his omnipotence-granting hand accessory, the Infinity Gauntlet.

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    The Justice League America/Doom Patrol crossover is everything comics needs right now.

    FeatureJim Dandy
    Feb 8, 2018

    We need to talk about “Milk Wars.” The Young Animal/DC Prime crossover kicked off last month with a joint Justice League America/Doom Patrol issue. It was bizarre, complicated, and staggeringly beautiful all at the same time. It was everything I want out of a superhero book.

    From the second panel, Justice League America/Doom Patrol was dripping with personality. We’ve known since the preview art hit that this would be an odd comic, with Leave It To Beaver-esque reimaginings of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman headlining the crossover. And just from the participants it was a safe bet that this was a book that would revel in its comic form - ever since Grant Morrison irrevocably changed the team, only one story has been able to make the Doom Patrol anything but meta commentary (later seasons of the Teen Titans cartoon, but we’ll talk about that when the Blu-ray hits). But it’s the panel layout of the first page that’s where we get our first sense of what’s really coming.

    At first glance, the first page is fairly straightforward. It’s an office setting, with a few office drones getting set up for a presentation. But the panel layout is less than straightforward, and the person making the presentation is drawn with more character than you’d expect from someone in that position in another book. He’s tiny, but weirdly muscular with a pushbroom Flanders-ey mustache. The hourglass layout focuses the reader on the moment we’re introduced to Retconn, the company that specializes in rewriting reality.

    This is a very technically adept book. What unfolds from the first page is a story that mashes together two already large casts with two wildly distinct tones into one coherent opening chapter. Character introductions are smoothly integrated into the storytelling, and the Retconn(™)ed Justice Leaguers are recognizable even in their altered forms. Every character on both teams gets a distinct voice and their own moment. Even 1950s Lobo is somehow a delight to read.

    This is a hell of a feat. Steve Orlando and Aco have been hot on their respective books (Justice League America for Orlando, and the sadly ignored but stunning Nick Fury for Aco). The transition that the pair made to this book is impressive: their previous work together was basically a fight comic (Midnighterand Midnighter and Apollowhich - surprise - we loved). A shockingly emotional fight comic, to be sure, but it was still basically a book where a thousand tiny panels told you the story of a guy who punched out his own ears so he couldn’t hear his opponent say her killing word. Justice League America/Doom Patrol is a world away from that: the fights are almost all abstractions, conceptual battles that benefit from psychedelic layouts that fold over four pages. Orlando certainly benefits from working with regular Doom Patrol scribe Gerard Way here. While it’s not clear who wrote what, it’s not tough to assume the pair collaborated on their respective teams, but the dance of balancing each contribution is complicated. These guys nail it with glee.

    And “gleeful” is probably the only word that can describe how this book wallows in the nerdier corners of the DC encyclopedia of characters. Being a Doom Patrol book, there is the requisite fourth wall breaking, with references to the founder of DC comics and Gerard Way himself. But Crazy Jane also awakens the League by reminding them of old issues they appeared in, with covers lifted from old issues of Firestorm, Action Comics, The Ray, and Omega Men. The villainous company, Retconn, bears a striking resemblance to the evil corporation introduced in Grant Morrison’s Action Comics that created a corporate amalgamation of Superman. And not for nothing, they’re being hired by Manga Khan, one of the best villains from the Bwa-ha-ha Justice League era.

    “Milk Wars” started with a bang. It’s got a strong, clear voice; an interesting spin on classic characters; and beautiful art. It could only exist as a comic - the hurdles it would have to leap to be translated into other media aren’t insurmountable, but they would make the other media project something distinct from this, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s such a good example of what we need more of from comics today.

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    With news of multiple Joker movies on the horizon, we celebrate the craziest plans of the Clown Prince of Crime.

    The Lists Marc Buxton
    Feb 9, 2018

    He is the greatest villain of them all. He is the evil that tests Batman and makes the hero better. He is an uncontrollable force of chaos, more akin to a hurricane than a criminal, who strikes without warning. He believes that life is a chaotic farce and everything exists as part of a twisted game between him and Batman. He is the star of comics, television, cartoons, and film. He is the Joker, one of the most enduring symbols of evil in the last century.

    The Joker is no match for Batman physically, so when he puts one over on the Dark Knight, when he “gets” him, it has to be a masterpiece of chaos and violence. These are just some of the greatest moments when the Joker put one over on his eternal adversary.

    10. Death of the Family: The Dinner Scene (2012-2013)

    Writer: Scott Snyder Artist: Greg Capullo

    Almost Got Him moment: Made Batman believe he skinned his children. And he coulda done it too…

    Writer Scott Snyder wrote a Joker for a modern age. He embraced what went on before but really upped the ante in terms of intensity. Snyder’s Joker wore his own severed face as a mask and threatened the sanctity of such long standing but icons like Alfred and James Gordon. It all culminated in a dinner scene at the Batcave as a brainwashed Alfred seemingly serves each member of the Bat family, Batgirl, Nightwing, Red Robin, Red Hood, and Damien Wayne their own severed faces.

    The pages read like a fevered nightmare as the Robins and Batgirl all sit starring at their own amputated visages. Staying true to his character, the whole thing was a joke, and the Bat family were unharmed, but their confidence in their mentor and their own safety was shaken forever because of the Joker’s actions.

    Read Batman: Death of the Family on Amazon

    9. Mad Love (Batman: The Animated Series) 1999: The Slap

    Story: Bruce Timm & Paul Dini

    Almost Got Him moment: Harley beat Batman, and Joker created Harley. Although Mr. J didn’t quite see it that way.

    The final episode of the New Batman Adventures is also its high point. The story deals with the origin of Joker’s moll, Harley Quinn, but it also serves as a reminder of just how all-encompassing the Joker’s twisted ability to manipulate anyone is. It was the first time fans learned that Harley Quinn used to be the Joker’s psychologist, and through sheer charismatic manipulation, he was able to mold her into his own twisted image. He made an educated woman, an expert of the inner workings of the psyche; believe that the world is a meaningless joke. Through the Joker, Harley had become a competent criminal, one who did what even he could not, successfully capture the Batman.

    In a moment that transcended traditional animation, the Joker shows just how depraved and selfish a soul he truly is by slapping Harley for making him feel inadequate because she defeated Batman. The whole episode dealt with a broken woman’s devotion to the Joker, and her entire world came crashing down in one moment of shockingly realistic domestic violence.

    Watch Batman: The Animated Series on Amazon Prime!

    8. Infinite Crisis “You Didn’t Let the Joker Play” (2006)

    Writer: Geoff Johns Artists: Phil Jimenez, Jerry Ordway, George Pérez, and Ivan Reis

    Almost Got Him Moment:  Joker saves the multiverse, in a way that the Justice League couldn’t. Take that, bats!

    Infinite Crisis was a huge, continuity laden epic all boiled down into the essence of a Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman story.  It was one of the biggest stories DC had ever attempted and it did shake the very foundation of the DC Universe, but with all the cosmic shenanigans, the story’s finale centered on one sick man, with no powers, forcing his will into the proceedings.

    Alexander Luthor, the son of Lex Luthor of Earth 3, is the antagonist and the catalyst of the events of Infinite Crisis. His machinations are godlike as he manipulates multiverses like gears of a clock. Alex Luthor recruited some of Earth’s most dangerous villains to fight his battles against the heroes of the multiverse. Luthor dismissed the Joker as an unpowered wild card, a man who would be difficult to manipulate and useless in a fight against Supermen and Green Lanterns.

    The Joker did not appear in any part of the epic, but is revealed by the prime reality’s Lex Luthor at the story’s climax. Joker sprays Alex with his signature acid flower and shoots him in the head, with a smirking Lex, who did not wish to share the villainous spotlight with the younger Luthor, declaring that Alex’s one mistake was he “didn’t let the Joker play.” This moment reveals that it could be a god, monster, or cosmic manipulator, whatever the case; the Joker is still more dangerous with a gag flower and a bullet. Sometimes the universe needs a master of chaos to do the things heroes can’t. 

    7. Batman: 1966 TV Series: Cesar’s ‘Stache

    Almost Got Him Moment: Every death trap, every gag, every cliffhanger. Shoulda taken those utility belts, Cesar.

    Sure, the camp vibe from the '60s Batmanseries set comics back a few decades. Even when Watchmenwas being published, the public perception of super-heroes was still “BIFF POW WHAM!” Yet, for many young children of the '70s and '80s, the series was a gateway drug into the world of comics. While Romero camped up some truly ridiculous plots, there was something about his demeanor as the Joker that still strikes a chilling chord. That special way he had of frowning while wearing a painted on smirk, and the white face caked on over Romero’s signature ‘stache gave his Joker a sinister heir that transcended the shows limitations.

    For many generations Romero’s performance defined the Clown Prince of Crime. Every time Romero appeared, he and his ‘stache would come within inches of taking out Batman and Robin turning his every appearance into an “almost got him.”

    Watch Batman '66 on Amazon!

    6. Batman #1: The First Appearance (1940)

    Almost Got Him Moment: It all began here. Joker committed murder right under Batman’s nose until Batman figured out the eternal game.

    By Jerry Robinson, Bob Kane, and Bill Finger

    Many times, especially in the Golden Age, a character’s first appearance only gives a readers a fraction of an indication of what the character would become. The Joker, being the Joker, defies expectations, and everything a fan needs to know about the character can be found in that first appearance in Batman #1. His use of poison gas, his terrifying penchant for popping up out of nowhere, his need to intellectually challenge Batman, all add up to relatively the same character that exists today.

    Based on actor Conrad Veidt in the silent film The Man Who Laughs, the Joker was a rarity for his day, as most villains were used to challenge the hero for one story and then fade away. Not the Joker, who endured, and despite some shifts away from the characters vile roots, he still exists almost identical to his 1940 appearance. This first story is so enduring that Chris Nolan adopted many elements for his first act in The Dark Knight including the unforgettable poison booze glass murder of Commissioner Loeb.

    Even in his first appearance, committing crimes right under the Dark Knight’s nose, was a great moment of mastery over Batman.

    5. Batman: No Man’s Land: The Murder of Sarah Essen Gordon (1999)

    Almost Got Him Moment: In Gotham’s darkest hour, Joker managed to destroy the life of Batman’s best friend.

    While Gotham was crippled and cut off from the rest of America’s infrastructure by a massive earthquake, the Joker strikes, kidnapping all the babies of Gotham. The Joker is confronted by James Gordon’s wife, Sarah Essen, and tosses her a helpless infant. When she catches the child, the Joker shoots her between the eyes.

    Many people treat the Joker as sort of an anti-hero, the freedom his manic behavior allows him is attractive to many fans, but this moment shows that the Joker is a brutal thug looking to take advantage of a tragedy to suit his own twisted machinations. The Joker took a delight in Gordon’s torment, promising even more pain in the future. The shooting of Sarah Essen, an honest cop and loving wife, stands as a constant reminder of the Joker’s cruelty. Batman’s inability to save his friend’s wife stands as one of Joker’s greatest victories.

    4. Batman (1989) “Bob…Gun.”

    Almost Got Him Moment: Batman robbed the Joker of his fun, but despite Batman’s careful planning, someone still died.

    There are many fantastic moments created by Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s Batman. From his fantastic origin sequence in Axis Chemicals, to the murder of his boss, Carl Grissom (played by the great Jack Palance), to his climactic church battle with Batman, but his greatest moment, like all great Joker moments, was random and chaotic.

    At the beginning of the film’s third act, the Joker tries to poison Gotham with gas filled balloons, when Batman swoops down in the Batwing and drags the balloons away, the Joker is incredulous. Like a kid who had his favorite toy snatched by a playground bully, the Joker pouts and asks his most loyal henchmen Bob the Goon, for a gun. Bob, ever loyal to his boss, complies and the Joker, without changing expression, shoots Bob in the gut. Batman ruined the Joker’s fun, and someone had to die, even if it was someone loyal and useful to the Joker. Even though Batman seemingly saved Gotham, someone still died, making Batman’s victory incomplete.

    Watch Tim Burton's Batman on Amazon!

    3. A Death in the Family (1989) “The Crowbar”

    Almost Got Him Moment: He killed Robin. Duh.

    By Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo, and Mike Decarlo

    Yes, it was gimmicky to have fans call a 900 number and decide whether Jason Todd’s version of Robin would live or die. Yes, it robbed the story of any organic creatively, but even the most jaded reader has to admit the death itself remains shocking to this day.

    Over the years, the Joker has used many gimmicked gags and traps to take down Batman and his family, but when it came to the moment where the Joker finally was able to kill a Bat Hero, he was just a thug wielding a blunt instrument. It was another reminder of just how dangerous and brutal the sometimes likable clown can be.

    Out of Todd’s death, DC was able to ignite literally hundreds of story ideas from the arrival of Tim Drake, to Todd’s resurrection as the Red Hood. From one violent act with a crowbar, the Joker created a legend.

    Read Batman: Death in the Family on Amazon

    2. The Dark Knight (2008) “The Interrogation Scene”

    Almost Got Him Moment: He did what no else could do, made Batman powerless.

    One can fill a list of great Joker moments on Heath Ledger’s performance alone, but one stands out above the others. Yes, even above the pencil trick. After the Joker is captured, Batman and Gotham’s Finest believe that the ordeal is finally over, until the Joker turns his trump card, revealing that he kidnapped, not only Gotham’s beloved D.A. Harvey Dent, but Batman’s true love, Rachael Dawes, as well. There is one thing all the crooks and villains had in common in the Nolan Universe; they feared Batman.

    Not the Joker.

    At this moment in the interrogation room, fans and Batman realized that Batman had no power over the Joker. That the Joker did not care about pain, he couldn’t be intimidated, bribed, or threatened. The more violent Batman became, the funnier the Joker found the situation. This was a new type of villain, one who could not be controlled, a swarm of hungry locusts in a man’s form gleefully destroying everything in his path.

    As Batman races to save Rachel and Harvey, with just a few words (and a very well hidden cell phone bomb) the Joker is able to escape police custody. As Batman pounds on the Joker, it becomes clear just what an uncontrollable force the Joker is.

    As Rachel burns, the Joker wins.

    Watch The Dark Knight on Amazon!

    1. Dark Knight Returns (1986)”The End”

    Almost Got Him Moment: In his final moment, the Joker made Batman’s beloved Gotham see their hero as a murderer.

    By Frank Miller and Klaus Janson

    Nothing defines the relationship between Batman and the Joker, like the proposed final conflict. When Batman returns to Gotham after years of reclusive exile, the Joker awakens from a coma to challenge the Dark Knight. Miller postulates, that without Batman, the Joker would cease to be, only returning when his other half was active. It was their final battle, and a battle in which Joker won. For decades, Batman refused to kill the Joker, but as the Joker snaps his own neck while laughing hysterically, it makes the world believe that one of Earth’s greatest heroes has finally turned murderer.

    By destroying Batman as a symbol for justice and turning him into a symbol for selfish vengeance, the Joker turns the public, the government, and even Superman against Batman in the process. The Joker had won his greatest victory.

    Read The Dark Knight Returns on Amazon

    Read and download the full Den of Geek Special Edition magazine here!

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    Black Panther director Ryan Coogler originally envisioned T’Challa going toe-to-toe with Spider-Man foe, Kraven.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Feb 9, 2018

    Black Panther is being lauded with strong reviews, which includes our own (as of this writing, the movie sits at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, for what that’s worth to you), and the veneer from being a groundbreaking offering centered on a black superhero doesn’t hurt, either. However, while the Marvel movie will see Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa/Black Panther tangle with a duo of villains in Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger and Andy Serkis’ Ulysses Klaue, director Ryan Coogler reveals that he originally intended to nab an antagonist from the classic rogues gallery of Spider-Man: Kraven the Hunter!

    During the initial conception for the Black Panther story, Coogler, who co-wrote the script with Joe Robert Cole, found himself in a situation akin to a kid in a candy store with all the Marvel intellectual property choices for the film’s villain slot. While the aforementioned Klaue (known as sound-powered supervillain Klaw in Marvel Comics lore,) was the obvious choice, since he famously exploited the hero’s home country, Wakanda, by pilfering its nigh-indestructible metallic resource of vibranium, Coogler saw better dramatic prospects with Spider-Man’s safari-obsessed foe, Kraven the Hunter.

    “I’ve always loved Kraven the Hunter in almost every iteration," Coogler explains to Yahoo UK. "So there was a moment – ‘Can I grab Kraven?’ – and they were ‘Nah, you don’t have Kraven.’ He was one where I thought ‘Oh, man.’ But I don’t even know if he would have worked in the movie we ended up with, this was the early days.”

    It was a reasonable attempt, since Kraven, who debuted in The Amazing Spider-Man #15 back in 1964, has always been an A-list antagonist to the Wall-Crawler, but has yet to manifest in live-action form in any of Spidey's six movies. Moreover, the addition of Kraven (a.k.a. Sergei Kravinoff,) would have been thematically appropriate, since the character – a Russian big game hunter obsessed with making a trophy of Spider-Man – has, indeed, tangled with Black Panther in the pages of the comics and would be well-suited for action in the film’s setting of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. Plus, his usage in Black Panther wouldn’t necessarily take him off the table for a future installment of the Spider-Man movies, now-headlined by Tom Holland. 

    “Being a Marvel fan, you want to grab all the characters," Coogler said. "You realize there’s contractual things. You don’t have that character. There was a Christopher Priest run that was pretty heavy, there’s a big scene where Panther’s fighting Kraven.”

    While this was presumably early on in the Black Panther pre-production stage, and might even predate the public announcement of Marvel Studios’ deal with Sony Pictures, which made 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming a reality, it’s possible that long-term plans for Kraven have been stowed away secretly, which could easily manifest in the 2019-scheduled Homecoming sequel, whose details have yet to be revealed.

    Thus, while Black Panther could have done worse than to have Kraven as its movie villain, the character’s intrinsic connection to Spider-Man – which continues to go unrealized in live-action form – were probably too strong to spend as a somewhat unconventional foe for T’Challa’s origin-setting solo debut. Likewise, Kraven, who’s also a founding member of the Spidey foe collective, The Sinister Six (which Sony has long-eyed for a spinoff film), is also the center of one of Spider-Man’s darkest and most tragic storylines, in 1987's "Kraven's Last Hunt" run, which saw the foe commit suicide after he was satisfied that he fulfilled his purpose in finally defeating his web-spinning foe (of course, in true comic book fashion, he was later resurrected.). Indeed, a Spider-Man villain that profound deserves to debut in a proper Spider-Man movie.

    Black Panther opens on February 16.

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    Geoff Johns is penning the script for the first live action incarnation of Doom Patrol for the Titans TV series.

    News Jim Dandy
    Feb 9, 2018

    It probably shouldn't be surprising, what with Gar "Beast Boy" Logan's inclusion in the main cast, but Geoff Johns dropped some news on about an upcoming episode of Titans

    The fifth episode of the show, set to air on a still-unspecified DC TV streaming service, is titled "The Doom Patrol," according to the snapshot of the script Johns posted.

    The Doom Patrol was created by Arnold Drake, Bob Haney and Bruno Premiani in 1963. Dubbed "The World's Strangest Heroes," the original team was composed of Robotman, Elasti-Girl, Negative Man and The Chief. Beast Boy, created to join the Doom Patrol in 1965, eventually migrated to the Titans and was part of the iconic Wolfman/Perez lineup.

    This would not be the first time the Titans and the Doom Patrol cross over on television. The mid-aughts Teen Titans cartoon kicked off its fifth season by looking at Gar's past with the team and flashed back to their early battles with the Brotherhood of Evil while setting up the Brotherhood as the Titans main villain for that season. 

    All of this happened before the Doom Patrol became the edgy, meta team that they became in the early 1990s. The current team is comprised of Robotman; Danny the sentient, gender nonconforming street; Crazy Jane, a woman with multiple personalities that each have their own distinct power; Casey Brinke, Danny's daughter who is a comic book character; and Flex Mentallo, a man who willed himself to super-strength. The Brotherhood of Evil has been the one, delightful constant in the Doom Patrol's history: even on TV, the militant talking gorilla Monseiur Mallah and the brain in a robotic jar The Brain were in love.

    For more on Titans, the Doom Patrol, or other beautiful romances in comic villainy, stick with Den of Geek!

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    Titan Books and Twentieth Century Fox just announced the upcoming release of three Firefly tie-in novels.

    News Kayti Burt
    Feb 10, 2018

    It's been 15 years since Firefly was untimely canceled by Fox after less than one season, and 13 since we checked back in with Mal and the rest of the crew in Serenity, the feature film based on the series. Now, via Entertainment Weekly, we'll finally find out what happened to this crew after they suffered the heartbreaking loss of two of their number and exposed one of the Alliance's darkest secrets.  

    Titan Books and Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Projects just announced the release of a series of original fiction tied to the world of Firefly. The books will be offical canon (whatever that may mean to you), with series creator Joss Whedon serving as a consulting editor.

    The first book is called Big Damn Hero. It will be written by Nancy Holder, who has previously written tie-in books for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and will be released in October 2018. Here's the synopsis: "Captain Malcolm Reynolds finds himself in a dangerous situation after being kidnapped by a bunch of embittered veteran Browncoats."

    Following that, we'll get James Lovegrove's Firefly: The Magnificent Nine, which will be released in March 2019 and will focus on Jayne, who "receives a distress call from his ex Temperance McCloud that leads the Serenity crew to danger on a desert moon."

    Finally, we have Firefly: Generations, set to be released in October 2019. Written by Tim Lebbon, here's the synopsis: "The discovery of the location of one of the legendary Ark ships that brought humans from Earth to the ’Verse promises staggering salvage potential, but at what cost? River Tam thinks she might know …"

    These sound like potentially very cool stories in a world that many fans would still love to explore. Will Mal and Inara finally get together? How's Zoe doing? Has River learned any new tricks? So many character-driven question to explore. It would be lovely to get an on-screen continuation of this universe, but the sky's the limit when it comes to what kinds of Firefly stories can be told in book form, and that's pretty exciting.

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    Metal crosses over with Multiversity in this week's DC Comics epic.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Feb 12, 2018

    I don't want to overhype anything, but this preview of Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt #1 starts with the origin of Detective Chimp, stops off at 52 for a second, and ends with a pretty clear signal that this issue of the big DC event series is going to cross over with Multiversity. Thank god I keep two computers in the house, because I just chucked one across my living room.

    52 is the 2006 weekly comic written by Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka and Keith Giffen. It wove together multiple story strands to build a new status quo for the DC universe after Infinite Crisis. That legendary crew of writers worked in every corner of DC mythology, from weird space stuff, to a soft relaunch of Infinity, Inc, to a Watchmen-esque gathering of all the super-geniuses in the DCU (and Egg Fu) on an island where they build weapons for Intergang.

    Multiversity is Morrison's exploration of the newly returned DC multiverse using heroes from everywhere but Earth Prime. We've talked about it. A lot. It's real good.

    Dark Knights: Metal is the current event series by the long-time Batman creative duo of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. It's the comics reading equivalent of somebody juicing Capullo, then huffing the fumes when they try and boil down the juice. It's about the demon god of Gotham, Barbatos, trying to use Hawkman and his Nth Metal to open a portal to the positive multiverse to let the dark multiverse take over.

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

    DARK KNIGHTS RISING: THE WILD HUNT #1Written by SCOTT SNYDER, JAMES TYNION IV and JOSHUA WILLIAMSONArt by DOUG MAHNKE, IVAN REIS and othersCover by DOUG MAHNKEContinued from the pages of the bestselling DARK NIGHTS: METAL! The Dark Knights ride through the farthest reaches of the Multiverse to track down the unlikeliest of teams: The Flash, Cyborg, Raven and Detective Chimp. The mission: keep these heroes from completing their desperate quest to save all of existence! Plus, Challengers’ Mountain crackles with dark energy that will release an army of the world’s worst nightmares into the streets of Gotham City!This one-shot also answers the question: Where are the Metal Men? And who is the latest addition to the team?

    It's wild. Check it out.

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    The surrealist story is from David Arnold, the author of Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland.

    News Kayti Burt
    Feb 12, 2018

    Have you heard of The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik? Probably not. The young adult novel by David Arnold has yet to hit the shelves... but that doesn't mean it doesn't already have a film deal. (Such is the nature of Hollywood and the publishing industry, these days.)

    According to Variety, Paramount has acquired the rights and is beginning to develop the teen-geared novel. The studio has begun seeking writers to adapt the book from the Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland author into a script. Here's the official description of the surrealist story:

    This is Noah Oakman → sixteen, Bowie believer, concise historian, disillusioned swimmer, son, brother, friend. Then Noah → gets hypnotized. Now Noah → sees changes: his mother has a scar on her face that wasn’t there before; his old dog, who once walked with a limp, is suddenly lithe; his best friend, a lifelong DC Comics disciple, now rotates in the Marvel universe. Subtle behaviors, bits of history, plans for the future—everything in Noah’s world has been rewritten. Everything except his Strange Fascinations . . . 

    A stunning surrealist portrait, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is a story about all the ways we hurt our friends without knowing it, and all the ways they stick around to save us.

    The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik will be published by Viking in May, and is now available for pre-order. More news on the movie development as we hear it.

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    The musical adaptation of the Frances Hodgson Burnett classic is coming back to Broadway.

    News Kayti Burt
    Feb 12, 2018

    A musical based on the beloved children's story The Secret Garden is coming to Broadway. According to EW, the production will be directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle, who has previously directed the Broadway revival of Finian's Rainbow in 2009.

    The musical is based on the book of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Published in 1911, is about a spoiled, yet neglected orphan named Mary Lennox who is sent to live with her relatives in an unfamiliar, emotionally-repressed house in Yorkshire. Once there, she finds a forgotten garden that she works to bring back to life, reviving the warmth and love of her relatives in the process. It has seen many adaptations, with a popular film version released in 1993, on the heels of the Broadway musical's run. More recently, it was adapted into a YouTube web series called The Misselthwaite Archives.

    This will be the first ever revival of The Secret Garden, which first opened on Broadway in 1991. It ran until 1993, after running for more than 700 performances and winning Tonys for best book of a musical, featured actress in a musical (Daisy Egan), and scenic design of a musical. The book and lyrics are by Marsha Norman (The Red Shoes, Bridges of Madison County), with music by Lucy Simon (Doctor Zhivago).

    The Secret Garden will be back on Broadway next season. More news on the premiere date, theater location, and casting as we hear it.

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    Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba's The Umbrella Academy is coming to Netflix. Here's everything we know about the series...

    News John Saavedra
    Feb 12, 2018

    Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba's The Umbrella Academy is coming to Netflix as a live action series. The comic book series, which debuted in 2007, was first optioned as a movie before Dark Horse signed a deal with Universal Cable Productions to adapt the comic as a TV series. 

    The live action series follows the estranged members of a dysfunctional family of superheroes -- The Monocle, Spaceboy, The Kraken, The Rumor, The Séance, Number Five, The Horror, and the seemingly powerless Vanya -- as they work together to solve their father’s mysterious death while coming apart at the seams due to their divergent personalities and abilities. 

    Way began writing The Umbrella Academy just a year after the release of My Chemical Romance's magnum opus, The Black Parade. The series is 15 issues of Eisner Award-winning goodness that has continued to inform Way's career as a comic book writer, especially with his current run on Doom Patrol and his Young Animal line at DC. Artist Gabriel Ba has also done some of his best work on the series. (If you want something really great by Ba, check out Daytripper, which he created with his twin brother, artist Fabio Moon.)

    The Umbrella Academy has been on a bit of a hiatus since 2009. Only two volumes, The Apocalypse Suite and Dallas, have been released thus far, although Way and Ba plan at least two more volumes. The third volume is called Hotel Oblivion, and it's been in the works since at least 2013 when Way tweeted out an update with some sketches of new characters. Way and Ba had agreed to begin work on Hotel Oblivion in 2014, but a lot's happened since then. Besides his music projects, Way has his own line of comics and two comic book series to write.

    While it's not likely the Umbrella Academy will return on the page any time soon, fans will at least gave the show to look forward to.

    Here's everything else we know:

    The Umbrella Academy News

    Mary J. Blige has joined the cast of The Umbrella Academy, Variety reports. She will play the role of Cha-Cha, the insane time-traveling assassin first introduced in the second arc of the comic, "Dallas," which reimagines the Kennedy assassination. Cha-Cha, along with her partner Hazel, believes in using the most violent method possible to dispatch her prey. 

    The Umbrella Academy Release Date

    Netflix has given the series a 10-episode order that will arrive sometime in 2018. 

    The Umbrella Academy Cast

    Netflix has revealed the core cast of the show. Here are the actors who will portray the members of the Umbrella Academy:

    Ellen Page (X-Men: Days of Future Past) will star as Vanya, who is estranged from the rest of the family because of her lack of powers. Vanya is a very important character in the first arc of the comics, as she goes through a bit of self-discovery that puts her at odds with the superheroes she once called a family.

    Tom Hopper (Game of Thrones) plays Luther, aka Spaceboy. He has super-strength, and after a terrible accident during an expedition to Mars, his head had to be transplanted onto the body of a gorilla. Ehem...

    Emmy Raver-Lampman (Hamilton) will play Allison, aka The Rumor, who can alter reality by lying. 

    David Castaneda (El Chicano) is Diego, codenamed The Kraken. He is sort of a fuse between Aquaman and Batman. He can hold his breath indefinitely, which gives him an advantage when in water, and is an expert knife thrower.

    Robert Sheehan (Misfits) is perfectly cast as Klaus aka The Seance, the most morbid character of the group. His powers, which manifest only when he's barefoot, include levitation, telekinesis, and the ability to contant the dead. In the comics, Klaus is killed at one point but rejected from both Heaven and Hell.

    Aidan Gallagher (Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn) is Number Five, simply codenamed The Boy. He can effortlessly travel in time and does not age due to a temporal condition. 

    The Umbrella Academy Poster

    Here's the first promo poster for The Umbrella Academy:

    The Umbrella Academy Details

    The Umbrella Academy will be produced by Universal Cable Productions. Steve Blackman (Fargo, Altered Carbon) will serve as executive producer and showrunner, with additional executive producers Bluegrass Television and Mike Richardson and Keith Goldberg from Dark Horse Entertainment. Gerard Way will serve as co-executive producer. The pilot script was adapted from the comic book series by Jeremy Slater (The Exorcist).

    In 2016, Slater talked to Collider about his script:

    I definitely wrote the pilot for The Umbrella Academy. I think it’s really exciting. I think it’s really surprising and funny. I took the job because I’m such an immense fan of what Gerard [Way] and Gabriel [Ba, the artist] did with that book. It’s one of those things where I would rather be the guy to screw it up than sit back and let someone else come in and do the bad adaptation. So, I was really adamant about taking the job, but the only way I was going to do it was if I could make it weird and make it true to the spirit of the book. There’s a lot of weird shit in The Umbrella Academy, and it would be very easy to sand down some of those weird edges and make it more familiar to American audiences. I’m fighting very hard to not let that happen. We’re shopping around the pilot, at the moment. We’re trying to find the right home for it and trying to find someone as excited as we are.

    Rawson Marshal Thurber (Dodgeball) was originally tied to the project when it was still being considered for the big screen. He told CBR in 2016 that the series would be too difficult to adapt as a film, citing the weirdness of the book as something that could be lost in translation at a big studio. 

    Slater echoed Thurber's thoughts in his interview with Collider:

    I think the relationships and the dynamics are so rich in that book that, if you tried to distill it down to 90 minutes, everyone gets reduced to a cartoon and a caricature. It really is The Royal Tenenbaums with superpowers. In order to do justice to that premise, you need time to unpack those characters, and dig into what makes them tick and the different relationships that they have with each other. There is so much fertile material there to tell really interesting, really funny, really unique stories that to compress it all into an hour and a half and throw in a bunch of giant action sequences, you’re going to wind up with some total mish-mash. It’s going to be Mystery Men. It’s going to be yet another wacky comedic superhero movie that no one really wants to see. It has its own unique DNA, and I think people should respect that DNA, or they should not do the project.

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