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- 02/06/18--05:07: _The Sherlock Holmes...
- 02/07/18--13:00: _Injustice 2: The Te...
- 02/07/18--14:00: _Deadpool 2: Who is ...
- 02/07/18--15:33: _Black Panther Paced...
- 02/07/18--15:53: _DC Entertainment An...
- 02/08/18--12:01: _Star Trek: Discover...
- 02/08/18--15:43: _The 15 Craziest Ven...
- 02/08/18--16:06: _Marvel Cinematic Un...
- 02/16/18--12:44: _Reinventing Robotech
- 02/16/18--18:29: _The Brave and the B...
- 02/17/18--17:32: _Black Panther’s Mar...
- 02/19/18--09:50: _Lex Luthor and the ...
- 02/19/18--10:00: _Talia al Ghul Retur...
- 02/19/18--10:22: _Death of Thor Comin...
- 02/19/18--14:20: _Best Black Panther ...
- 02/19/18--16:16: _Deadpool 2 Make-A-W...
- 02/19/18--20:42: _Eric Clapton’s Cros...
- 02/20/18--11:06: _From Iron Man to Bl...
- 02/20/18--11:47: _Den of Geek Book Cl...
- 02/20/18--16:33: _The Dangerous Book ...
- 02/06/18--05:07: The Sherlock Holmes Influences of Batman: Gotham by Gaslight
- 02/07/18--13:00: Injustice 2: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Gameplay
- 02/07/18--14:00: Deadpool 2: Who is Cable?
- 02/07/18--15:33: Black Panther Paced to Become Fandango's Q1 King
- 02/07/18--15:53: DC Entertainment Announces New YA & Middle Grade Imprints
- 02/08/18--12:01: Star Trek: Discovery - Exclusive Look at Succession #2
- 02/08/18--15:43: The 15 Craziest Venom Moments in History
- 02/16/18--12:44: Reinventing Robotech
- 02/16/18--18:29: The Brave and the Bold: Inside the Batman and Wonder Woman Team-Up
- 02/17/18--17:32: Black Panther’s Martin Freeman on Reinventing Everett Ross
- 02/19/18--09:50: Lex Luthor and the Three Times He Was Elected US President
- 02/19/18--10:00: Talia al Ghul Returns to Take on Robin and Superboy
- 02/19/18--10:22: Death of Thor Coming From Marvel
- 02/19/18--14:20: Best Black Panther Comics: An Essential Reading Guide
- 02/19/18--16:16: Deadpool 2 Make-A-Wish Photos Shared by Ryan Reynolds
- 02/19/18--20:42: Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Concerts Captured in New Book
- 02/20/18--11:47: Den of Geek Book Club Pick: All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
Turning Batman: Gotham by Gaslight into an animated movie required some deep dives into Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper culture.
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.
The new trailer for Injustice 2's shows off all four of the Ninja Turtles in action!
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!
Now that we've seen Josh Brolin as Cable in Deadpool 2, the bigger question is...who the hell is Cable?
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.
Marvel’s Black Panther is already wrecking competition, breaking multiple presale records.
Black Panther, the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe-set inaugural solo movie starring Chadwick Boseman’s big screen version of the comic book industry’s first African-originated superhero, will head into its release with auspicious accolades. Indeed, the film has already set a record for first day advance ticket sales, and Fandango recently reported that presale numbers will make it the top-booked superhero film... ever! – Yet, still over a week from its release, the accolades keep coming.
Fandango’s latest report on the Black Panther advance sales indicates that the film about the King of Wakanda is about to become the King of Q1, purportedly “outpacing” presales for all first quarter releases that have existed in the company’s 18-year history. Additionally, the report claims that the film’s presale numbers are “on track to leap past” some serious Hollywood heavies in 2012’s Jennifer Lawrence-headlining YA franchise-launcher, The Hunger Games, and a recent record setter in 2017’s Emma Watson-starring Disney live-action adaptation, Beauty and the Beast.
The ticket seller’s previous report indicated that Black Panther advance sales are paced to surpass 2016 DC/Warner Bros. megamovie, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, for the title of the company’s most lucrative presales for any superhero movie (Marvel or DC). Contextually, Dawn of Justice, despite its generally tepid reception, did dominate its opening weekend, in which it earned $166 million, going on to gross $873.6 million globally.
Once it arrives, Black Panther will have its work cut out regarding the reaching of more benchmarks. Currently, the title of all-time best February and President's Day weekend opening belongs to the 2016 surprise smash, Deadpool (whose sequel trailer will reportedly debut with Black Panther). However, industry analysts (via Deadline,) currently have Black Panther pegged for an opening weekend ranging between $120 million and $150 million, which would be below the mark. Of course, intangible elements like online buzz, its historical nature, as well as glowing early reviews, provide plenty of potential for the film to exceed those expectations.
Back in January, Fandango revealed that Black Panther’s advance ticket sales surpassed the advance sales numbers posted back in 2016 for Captain America: Civil War, making it the new king of MCU presales. Contextually, Civil War, the highly-anticipated Marvel movie event that showcased, amongst stupendous superhero infighting, the onscreen debut of Boseman’s T’Challa/Black Panther, posted $179 million in its May 2016 opening weekend.
Black Panther was directed and co-written by Ryan Coogler, who wowed audiences with the 2013 drama, Fruitvale Station and the 2015 Rocky spinoff, Creed. Both of those films starred Michael B. Jordan, who returns for Coogler as villain Erik Killmonger. Here, Coogler draws upon something akin to the unearthly spectacle and grandeur of Asgard from the Thor films to bring the fictional African kingdom of Wakanda to life. Central to the plot is the political power struggle faced by Wakandan royal T’Challa, which will complement an attempt by Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) to exploit the hidden country’s main natural resource, vibranium, the nigh-indestructible metal woven into Black Panther's costume, which was also used to make Captain America’s shield.
Black Panther is set to unleash the fantastic fury of the Wakandan king to the big screen when it arrives at theaters on February 16.
This article is updated with new information as it arrives.
DC is upping its younger-geared graphic novel content with some pretty exciting titles and authors.
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.
We've got an exclusive first look at the cover art for an upcoming issue of the Star Trek: Discovery comic tie-in.
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...
As we get ready for the Venom movie, we take a look back at the oddball moments in the alien-clad character's history.
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.
15. DR. DOOM'S ILL-DEFINED PLAN FOR WORLD DOMINATION
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.
14. ALL ARMS ON DECK
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!
13. SECRET SKELETON
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.
12. ENDLESS FIRST IMPRESSIONS
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 #1-6, Venom: Funeral Pyre #1-3, Venom: The Madness #1-3, Venom: The Mace #1-3, Venom: The Enemy Within #1-3, Venom: Nights of Vengeance #1-4, Venom: Separation Anxiety #1-4, Venom: Carnage Unleashed #1-4, Venom: Sinner Takes All #1-5, Venom: Along Came a Spider #1-4, Venom: The Hunted #1-3, Venom: The Hunger #1-4, Venom: Tooth and Claw #1-3, Venom: On Trial #1-3, Venom: License to Kill #1-3, Venom: 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.
11. THE WAR IN FRANK CASTLE'S MIND
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.
10. HE'S A DEMON ON WHEELS
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.
9. DOG IN THE EYE
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.
8. THE SINISTER SPIDER-HAM
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.
7. EDDIE BROCK: SISTER OF PAIN
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.
6. THE FRENCH KISS OF DEATH
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.
5. THE MOLOTOV COCKTAIL OF AWESOME
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.
4. THE GROSSEST OF MATING HABITS
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...
3. THE NOT-READY-FOR-PRIME-TIME SMASHERS
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.
2. DIAL-UP M FOR MURDER
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.
1. THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
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!"
Every actor from the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come together for a class photo commemorating its 10-year anniversary.
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.
The writer of the new Robotech comic, Brian Wood, discusses changes to the Robotech saga and the new take on Minmei.
The first Robotech comic in years has been a refreshing change of pace for the franchise. Reinventing the Robotech story instead of trying to fill gaps in the televeision continuity, the story is truly one where the phrase, "you have no idea what's coming" applies. While the first few issues might seem to stick close to the original source material, by the end of the first graphic novel (now on sale thanks to Titan Comics) everything changes.
Having read ahead the story veers even furthur off the path that was laid down in the original 85 episodes. That may worry some hardcore fans but Robotech has needed a reinvention for quite some time. The comic series still has the spirit of Robotechwhile also telling a more concise story that is free from the need to fill out synidcation requirements of the 80's. No flashback stories and no over explaning narrator to weld together three different anime series. It's just a damn good tale that uses the old series as a framework but isn't beholden to it.
While the series is marketed to new fans there's also a lot to offer for the hardcore audience as well. They'll be able to spot the changes from the original series and unlike any other reboot, those changes are a huge part of the story. The fact this story is different from what we've seen before forms the very fabric of the conflict and what drives the narrative on. Comparisons have been made to J.J. Abrams Star Trek but it's so much more than that. This isn't simply rewriting the Robotechuniverse, it's actively molding and shaping it.
We sat down with Brian Wood, the main writer of the first four issues of the Robotech comic, to get some insight into how he crafted this new tale.
Den of Geek: Much of Robotech's overarching story came from having to weld three completely different anime series together. The comic obviously doesn't have to worry about working with existing footage, so how did you balance getting to basically do whatever you wanted while still remaining true to the franchise?
Brian Wood: The fact that the American Robotech show was created that way was a big part of how I approached the adaptation. Our adaptation sought out the strongest narrative path and moved faster through the episodes, leaving plenty on the cutting room floor. Its an aggressive adaptation for sure, but the goal was not to simply re-create, but to come at it new.
Can you discuss the new take on Minmei? More than any of the other characters she's the most changed from the original series.
Minmei was a big challenge. In the show - which is the product of a different time - she's sort of submissive to a puffed up Rick Hunter, and her world seems to revolve around this regressive sweet sixteen birthday and beauty pageant storyline.
I couldn't in any honest way write her like that, especially not in a title that's making strides to introduce this story to a new audience. We needed a new Minmei, essentially, but one that still made sense and wasn't a total stranger to long time fans. So I thought about what I liked about Minmei but also what I thought a girl in her circumstances might have been - as a waitress in a bustling military city, she'd likely know how to stand up for herself, give as good as she gets, unfazed by chaos and unimpressed by a uniform.
Now you've of course taken material from the original 85 episodes but there are few references peppered throughout the comic to other entries in the Robotech lore, like using Dr. Lang (who was more heavily used in the novels) and even a reference to a planet from The Sentinels. Did you make those additions or were those suggested by others?
I went strictly off the American TV show episodes - my first step in writing an issue of this book was to watch a couple episodes and take notes as I went, figuring out what was absolutely essential and what wasn't. That was my thing - I am a hardcore, lifelong fan of that old TV show. I'm sure Simon Furman may have moved beyond them, depending on what made the most sense to him.
Following up on that, how do you balance telling an engaging story without getting bogged down in references?
I have no love of references - in all the licensed work I've done, from Marvel to Star Warsto Aliens and Robocop, I try and tread very lightly on references. I want to make whatever story I write make sense and not be in conflict, but my goal is to never write for the hardcore fan, but instead write for a broad audience, one made up of comic readers but also civilians.
This first volume is very much a retelling of the earliest Robotech episodes with some critical changes. How did you choose what to keep and what to change?
I watch the episodes, and try to identify the cleanest narrative line through each one. A to B to C, and tell that story fast and keep moving. Because of the nature of the American show, how it was assembled and edited, its not always so clean and direct. I love that show as-is, but the goal with this book is to go lean and fast.
Moving forward Simon Furman is also writing the book. Are you just providing the story from now on or are you also contributing to the script writing?
I provided an outline for the second volume, based on the way I identify and isolate that narrative line, for the sake of continuity of direction. But Simon's a talented writer with a career longer than mine, so he takes it from there and make it his own.
Robotech Vol. 1: Countdown is now on sale from Titan Comics. Seriously, pick it up. If you're a life long Robotech fan it will surprise you.
Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. He also co-hosts a Robotech podcast, RoboSkull Cast, where he and his friend Nick review every episode of the original series and the new comic. Follow him on Twitter!
Liam Sharp told us about his new Batman/Wonder Woman team up book.
Liam Sharp started drawing Judge Dredd strips in 2000 A.D. in the late ‘80s. Since then, he’s done everything there is to do in comics: drawing, inkingm and coloring his own work, writing books for every company, even being named the Chief Creative Officer of Madefire, a company that is working to revolutionize the way we read comics. He made the leap from great to superstar in 2016 when he was named one of the regular pencillers on DC’s Rebirth relaunch of Wonder Woman.
Now he’s about to launch a new edition of The Brave and the Bold, the old silver age Batman team-up book. This new version, written and drawn by Sharp, brings Batman and Wonder Woman together to solve a murder in Tir Na Nog. We had a chance to talk with Liam about the book, drawing Wonder Woman while she’s also on the big screen, and if there was anything about the book that particularly tickled his nerd fancy. Spoilers: yes.
Note: This interview has been lightly edited for length.
Den of Geek: Tell me about the story. I’ve seen some of the preview art, tell me the hook. Tell me what got you interested in telling the story, and interested in picking up The Brave and the Bold.
Liam Sharp: I came to the end of the run with Greg, and Greg made the difficult decision of stepping away because he had a lot of other things that were important to him - creator-owned stuff that he felt was falling a little bit by the wayside - and we’d had such a well-received run. He did 25 issues in a year, which is an astonishing amount. It’s twice the size of Watchmen. So he just was like, “Okay, I need to leave this. It’s going to suffer otherwise. I love it, farewell, let’s leave on a high point.” And I was left kind of going “Aah, that’s great and I love you, Greg, but I don’t want to say bye yet. I’m not done with Diana. I’ve fallen in love with her and she’s been so good to me. I want to tell some more stories.”
I was talking to the editorial team, and said “You know I’d really like to do something else with Diana.” They said “Well, let’s start dream project down, and see what you’ve got.” Because they know that I’ve written stuff before, and were interested in seeing what I might come up with.
Pretty much immediately, this idea of doing something in the Celtic realm, in Tir Na Nog just popped into my head. It’s been something that I’ve had a minor obsession with for my whole adult life, really. I’ve always loved Celtic mythology and mythology in general, but the Celtic mythology is obviously close to home. So I said “What if Diana went to the faerie realm?” Because that’s all these Irish gods and Celtic gods that we don’t ever really explore in mainstream comics. I’m like “This is really interesting. What about, maybe we could bring Batman in, or something, one of the other major characters.” Again, it was immediately that I thought “What then? If one of the gods has been murdered?”
Diana is brought there by Cernunnos to be a peacemaker, because Tir Na Nog, there’s a lot of unrest there. Tir Na Nog being the Irish faerie realm, has become cut off from the rest of the world. All the causeways have shut down. Time moves differently there, so they’ve basically been trapped in this realm for eons. And they’re kind of going stir crazy in there, and it’s manifesting in this endless cycle of just unrest and tension between the Fomorians and the Tuatha De Dannan.
And so Cernunnos, who’s the caretaker, he’s not actually an Irish god, but he’s a horned god of Celtic mythology, I cast him as the caretaker of this realm, and he’s the only one that can travel between the worlds, and he seeks the advice of the goddess Danu and the three form Morrigan. And basically everything points to Diana as being the peacemaker.
He comes to get Diana and asks her to come with him to help him restore peace. In the interim, while he’s away, one of these gods is murdered. So when she gets there, it’s all about to kick off in a big way, and it gets very firey, and there’s big arguments in the court of the De Dannan, and she basically says, “Look, I know this guy. He’s a knight. He’s a detective. Let me bring him in and he can help me. Let’s solve the murder first. Before you start fighting each other, let’s get that sorted.”
Then there’s the tension of the timeframe that they have in order to do that and keeping the peace in the interim. And that’s what it’s all about. But there’s a much bigger arc to it as well, which I don’t want to say too much about, because that would be giving plot points away, and definitely spoilers. But that’s the set up.
It seems like with the exception of really Diana’s world, when creators in the DC Universe needed a pantheon, they just made their own up rather than adapting a real world one.
You’re obviously extremely well read on Celtic myth, and are diving headfirst into it here. Is it difficult building out a fictional version of a real world mythology around all these archetypal heroes? Or does it just give you an excuse to nerd out?
That’s a really good question. The thing that you hope is that you’re true enough to it that the people who really enjoy and are fans of that material don’t feel short changed or that you’ve cherry picked too much. But at the same time, you can’t just retell the stories, especially when you’re telling a present day story with icons like Diana and Bruce.
So it does make it interesting, it means you’ve got a lot of moving parts. [One shift is] the De Dannan had three kings originally. I folded them into one. One of them is called Mac Cuill but I’ve basically taken one of the big heroes, Mac Cuill and made him the king of the De Dannan.
So things like that, I’ve done just because I don’t want it to be so complicated that it’s impenetrable for new readers. But hopefully people who love the material will enjoy it because they’ll have moments of, like, yes! I think it’s fun bringing these characters that I’ve had in my head for so long to life.
Characters like Cernunnos are interesting because there’s not really any great myths or stories that feature him, but we know of him from imagery, and we know what he stands for and what he represents. He’s almost like a force of nature, but he doesn't have great associated stories.He’s not even really part of the Irish mythology, he’s a Celtic god as opposed to an Irish god. But again, he’s somebody I’ve wanted to tell a story with for so long, and he’s been a real joy. It’s funny as well with him, I couldn’t get him right. I’ve had him in my head for so long, and I couldn’t get him right. I was getting closer and closer to starting the book, and one day he came, and I was like “That’s him! I know him, that’s exactly how he looks and he’s always looked in my head.” It’s odd that sometimes it’s hard to find that personality.
You’ve written and drawn a book in the past, but this is the highest profile book that you’ve written and drawn at the same time. Has that changed how the ideas spring out of your head at all? Or are you trying to be deliberately methodical with your process to try and keep yourself organized as you’re writing it? How has that shift worked for you?
I plotted the entire thing out right at the beginning, so I knew exactly what the story beats were going to be. I made really sure that I was going to be able to tell a solid story. It’s got an end, of sorts. And I learned a lot from Greg in that working with him on Wonder Woman, just in the way that he broke down each issue into beats and page turns and double pages. I literally lay out each issue in my folders. I keep the icons really big, and I keep them side by side as spreads so that I know what it’s going to look like in a collected edition, because that kind of page-to-page beat and pace of the book is really important. And the way it ramps up, and the way it slowly speeds up towards a big conclusion.
So yes, I guess I’ve been methodical in that sense, but I think when you write any story, you’re giving it your best. It’s scariest at first, because Batman and Wonder Woman! I was overwriting Batman early on. He was saying too much. I was just like, “He wouldn’t talk like that. It’s not Batman.” It took me a while to find Batman’s voice, because I have not written him before.
But Diana I felt more comfortable with because I felt like I just sort of know her. All the groundwork in terms of who she is and what she’s like and what she represents was done in our run. So I haven’t felt like I’ve had to retread any of that. She just fulfills that role in the story. She is diana the diana that she was at the end of our run. To me, this story pretty much jumps right off the back of Greg and my run on Wonder Woman.
You’re coming off of a run with Greg on Wonder Woman, and Greg is one of the iconic Wonder Woman writers of all time. But you’ve also been drawing Wonder Woman on both sides of the movie - both before and after the movie hit. Has the movie changed the experience of drawing her at all? Does it change how you approach her as a character at all, or was it just an affirmation of what you were already doing?
I think that the movie informed everything right from the get go, to some extent. We didn’t know what it was going to be like, and it was a delight that there was enough crossover chemistry between what we were doing and what was in the movie in terms of the root and the heart of what the character represents. So that was delightful.
The other side of it, the fact that there was so much attention on it, was unexpected. I had no idea that was going to be the case when I started. But it’s interesting what you end up feeling. I think for me, and I’m sure Greg would say the same, the Diana that we created, that’s to us Diana. And she’s slightly different to the film version, but that’s our version, and that’s the version that feels most truly Diana.
It’s odd, and I’m sure that everyone who works on any book starts to feel a little bit of ownership for the character. [For me] it’s almost the other way around. You feel like a vessel for that character. I think if you’re doing your job, the character speaks to you, and the history of that character speaks to you, and the weight of everything that the character represents speaks to you.
Then you also have to be informed by the times. It was really really important that Diana be done right at this specific time for a thousand different reasons. So you are having to tread a very fine line. There are a lot of people who feel ownership with the character, especially in fandom. They all have very different versions, and you can’t please all of them. They all have different notions of who she should be wit and who she shouldn’t be with. You just have to try and decide what is important yourself.
Is there any indulgence that you allowed yourself? Is there any Batman sequence that you’d been wishing you’d read before that you just put in the book because you finally could?
Ha! That’s a really good question.
So much of this whole book is like that. Honestly, the issue I just finished, issue 3 and so far what I’m doing in issue 4 have just been a joy. What it is is that it’s quite simply about the space and the world. I made a world that, I made it an expanse. They ride around in this place. You get to see it. You get to see lots of it. You get to see the scale of it, and the weirdness of it and the beauty of it. The realm of Tir Na Nog itself becomes like a character. And it’s almost like being in a sandbox or in one of those games where you can just roam endlessly. To get to do that in comic form was so much fun. It sounds like it could be quite boring, just going on a ride with Diana and Bruce, but they are, of course, they’re discussing the case. The stuff they’re looking at hopefully is impressive and beautiful enough that it feels fresh to people. It feels like it’s something I haven’t seen before. So we’ll see how people take it.
The Brave and the Bold #1 hits shelves on February 21st, 2018. For more on the series, stick with Den of Geek!
The Sherlock and Hobbit star didn't want to play the comics version of the longtime Black Panther ally.
When we first met Everett Ross, as played by Martin Freeman in Captain America: Civil War, he was a no-nonsense CIA agent and Deputy Task Force Commander of the Joint Counterterrorism Center, working with the Avengers to capture Bucky Barnes. His calm, slightly sarcastic and efficient demeanor has carried over to Black Panther, where he becomes a key ally to T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and is one of the few outsiders to get a glimpse inside the incredible world of Wakanda.
That’s a far cry from the comics version of the character, who was introduced in September 1998 in Ka-Zar #17 by writer Christopher Priest and illustrator Kenny Martinez as a nervous, rather unmemorable little man who worked alongside the Black Panther and succeeded at his job almost in spite of himself.
In the movies, he’s not exactly James Bond, but he’s an experienced intelligence officer whose eyes are opened to a much larger world when he finds himself among the Wakandans.
Martin Freeman, of course, needs almost no introduction thanks to the very memorable roles he’s played over the years, including Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit trilogy, Lester Nygaard on the Fargo TV series, and Dr. John Watson on Sherlock, opposite his fellow Marvel Cinematic Universe cast member Benedict Cumberbatch. We did ask for an update on Sherlock -- the fifth season of which is yet to be confirmed -- but focused primarily on Ross and Black Panther when we spoke with the amiable Freeman recently.
Den of Geek: I really liked where they took Ross in this movie. When you first got the role back in Civil War, did they give you kind of an inkling of his future?
Martin Freeman: They did. They did. They introduced me in Civil War and said there would be a couple of other films, one of which was Black Panther. So that was always on the cards. And I knew I'd have more to do in Black Panther than I had to do in Civil War. That was very much just the kind of introduction to who Ross was.
Did you go back and look at his history in the comics?
A little bit. I mean, I saw enough to get an idea of how he was. He was funny and he was very straight sort of a by the book funny guy. Sometimes easily made nervous, you know, sort of sweaty and just an anxious person sometimes.
I, to be honest, wasn't massively keen to play that. I certainly wasn't massively keen to play that in the context of Black Panther. Just because I think the trope of a nervous white guy, cool black guy, we've seen it a million times before breakfast. So yeah, I wasn't mostly keen. Fortunately, Ryan (Coogler, director) and Nate Moore (producer) weren't massively keen either on that. So we talked a lot about what he might be. It's not like I shaped Ross into what he ended up being. I think, you know, that was he was going to be. But I definitely threw my 10 cents in as far as who he might be.
What was Ryan's take on the character?
We talked a lot around the subject. We talked a lot of politics and we talked American and British politics, a bit of history, and I suppose that probably informed it in some way. Because if the point of directors and writers meeting actors is to get a flavor of who they are and get jumping off points for where you might take the character, that might have informed this as well. But with absolutely all the respect in the world for the source material, and what totally worked for that world, I don't think it would have really worked for this film to be honest.
A lot of actors I've spoken to say they don't look at the source material, or the director actively discourages them from doing so.
Well this isn't a comic. I've played several characters now in my life who have literary beginnings and while it's interesting to know the literary beginnings, you're not doing the book. You know, a book and a film are a really different thing. And they're supposed to be different things. I never want to be slavish to any book. If we're doing the movie or the TV, it's a different art form. You're not making the book. If there are things in the book that help, great. Apart from that, there are 150 people or more working on this version of it now. So let's concentrate on that.
Ross reminds me a little bit of Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson from the earlier movies, in that he sees the world in a certain way and then finds himself thrust into this entirely different reality.
Yeah. It's interesting, because I guess part of the big conversation about his film is that finally a different audience are seeing themselves on screen. So in some sense you could say, well, "I'm not that audience." But regardless of race, my feeling is that Ross is still, he's like Americans. He's like America and the West. Whatever color you are, he's still kind of your eyes and ears in Wakanda because no one's been to Wakanda. He's taking you into this other world. If you're in a cinema in the Western world, you are sort of having the same reaction that Ross is having because we don't know Wakanda and all our minds would be blown by that. So when you see his mind being blown, then yeah, he's a sort of surrogate, I guess.
What did Ryan bring to the table and how did you like working with him?
I really liked it. I think everybody did. I liked him immediately as a person. He's very low key. And I like low key people. I don't know, I mean it's fine if you want to be high key, but I like low key. Because it suggests to me that you're getting on with it. This suggests to me that you're not being distracted by hyperbole or extraneous stuff. You just want to get on with it. And he's a massive comic book fan. He loves this shit and he wants to make it as good as he can. I liked his two previous films very much. He's a good film maker, you know, outside of all the other stuff that's really important that we're talking about in political and social terms.
He set out to make a good movie, first and foremost.
What I keep saying is, if it's not a good film then who gives a shit? He didn't go to film school just to be an important black man. Do you know what I mean? He went to film school to make really good films. He really likes films. And so do I. And I want to be in good films, I want to be good in good films. There's no point in me being in a really historic film if I'm shit in it, you know? I want to do my part.
I've had conversations with Ryan about that. That yes, it's historic because of the size, you know, clearly there have been many, many, many quote unquote black films before but not on this scale, not on this potential commercial scale. So yes, it's historic. And I think for a lot of people, a lot of kids, all the stuff that can sound like a cliché, can sound trite, is true. You know, all that stuff is true. That it's important. But, we've got to make a good film, a great film, that's the first thing. If it's mediocre or whatever, or the shots aren't right, or the story is weak or bad...
That doesn't help anybody.
Doesn't help anybody. And I'm a massive believer in the art form. It's really important that we make good art. It's massively important we make good art, I think, and that stories keep being told. You know, it's one of the best things mankind has ever done, is tell stories.
I have to wrap up but any news on Sherlock?
No, no news actually. We're definitely in a pause at the moment. But I know to Americans it feels like it's all a pause.
But no, I genuinely don't know. I mean, I think after season 4, we all wanted to take a bit of time just away from the madness. People really want more Sherlock. I think that's great. I really love that. But speaking for myself, I'd quite like to take a break from that for a while. Just that sort of...clamor. Which is lovely, cause people like your show, but it can feel quite pressured actually. Know what I mean? You've got obviously to surprise them, but if you surprise them too much they'll hate you for it. It's a tricky one. It's a hard one, because there is so much expectation on that show, more than anything I've ever done. I'm happy to give it a rest for a while certainly.
Black Panther is out in theaters now.
DC Comics villain Lex Luthor has, on three occasions, become President of the United States. Here's what happened...
Lex Luthor is a man of many talents in the world of DC Comics. He possesses a genius level IQ, is a successful businessman and inventor, exuding charisma from every pore. All of those assets are extremely important when it comes to politics, and that world has provided him with some of his biggest accomplishments.
The power-crazed criminal mastermind has been elected President of the United States multiple times in various stories, but who would vote for a known super-villain? Ahem.
Anyway, with this in mind, let’s explore three different Luthor presidencies and analyze whether he was fit for the job or not.
Perhaps the biggest story to involve Luthor as President was the one that took place in DC Comics shortly after the turn of the century. The megalomaniac billionaire turned to politics after his popularity grew following the restoration of Gotham City. The hometown of Batman had been cast adrift from the rest of the United States when struck by a devastating earthquake in the No Man’s Landarc.
The previous administration had handled the disaster poorly and Luthor’s financial intervention exposed the failings of his predecessors. This, along with the promise of major technological advancements and a ban on fossil fuels, helped him slide into the Oval Office with barely any opposition.
Despite initially refusing to overthrow Luthor by force, Batman and Superman eventually teamed up to bring down the President. Although the duo was faced with an army of villains and converted heroes, it was Luthor who proved instrumental in his own downfall. Whilst secretly being recorded by Batman, he admitted to trading weapons with the alien despot Darkseid in order to defeat another invading alien, Imperiex.
Batman, whose alter ego Bruce Wayne had been framed for murder by the Luthor administration, made this confession public. In a further act of vengeance, Luthor learned that his business empire had been sold to Wayne right from under his nose. Disgraced and bankrupt, Luthor was forced to step down as President, serving less than three years in the White House, a period that was rife with corruption and deception. Ah, escapism...
Justice League: A Better World
The Justice Leagueanimated series had many great storylines during its five seasons and this two-part episode is one of the best. It only gives us the briefest glimpse of President Luthor but the ramifications of his actions are unthinkable.
At the start of the first episode we see Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman storming the White House. Within the Oval Office, Luthor is rummaging through papers, muttering to himself about “a grand design for the world” and how the public failed to appreciate his vision for the future.
With Luthor’s finger on the nuclear weapons launch, Superman bursts in only to learn a shocking truth from his arch-nemesis. By allowing Luthor to be elected President and impose his politics upon society, Superman has been his greatest accomplice. If Luthor is never truly punished for his crimes, like murdering The Flash, Superman and the Justice League can never truly win their struggle.
In that moment Superman abandons all of his heroic intentions and disintegrates Luthor, putting to an end his schemes once and for all. This shocking turn of events sees the entire Justice League resort to the tactics of a police state, keeping the entire human race under heavy surveillance, effectively eradicating all crime, ruthlessly using their special powers.
Of course, this isn’t the regular Justice League, but an alternate version from another universe, known as the Justice Lords. The loss of The Flash, combined with Luthor’s rise to power, was too much for the heroes of this world to take and resulted in them mirroring the callous methods of their enemy. Although he didn’t defeat the Justice Lords, Luthor did succeed in perverting their goodwill beyond all recognition.
Superman: Red Son
What if, as a child, Superman hadn’t have landed in Smallville, Kansas but 1930s Ukraine instead? What if the Man of Steel had adopted the ideals of communism and became the all-powerful leader of the Soviet Union, whose expansion grew to consume most of the world? What if the President of the United States, Lex Luthor, was the only man who dared to stand up to him?
Mark Millar’s Red Son is a fascinating take on the cold war melding the goodwill of Superman with the totalitarianism of Stalin. Once again Luthor proves to be the polar opposite, embracing capitalism and standing as the leader of one of only two nations not to fall to Superman’s iron grip.
Their growing rivalry escalates to the point of global war but there remains an air of mutual respect between the pair. Both men have good hearts but they can never truly co-exist on the same planet. Luthor is not strong enough to fight Superman, but Superman is not intelligent enough to debate with Luthor. Eventually, Superman sees the error of his ways and sacrifices himself to prevent the world from annihilation at the hands of Brainiac, thus conceding his power to Luthor.
With no opposition to him, Luthor achieves global domination, but this isn’t a bleak dystopia. Earth and the known universe prosper under Luthor’s reign. Disease, illness and even sleep are rendered obsolete. Governments are dissolved and replaced by a one-world parliament of writers, artists, scientists and philosophers. Life expectancy is increased to an astonishing 800 years. Humanity eventually becomes the most advanced species in history.
Red Son suggests that both Superman and Luthor could change the world significantly if one wasn’t in the way of the other. There is no doubt that this incarnation of President Luthor is the most hopeful and ambitious. His genius solves all of humanities problems but he can only do this once his Superman obsession has concluded.
Was Luthor a good President?
These three stories provided audiences with three differing takes on President Luthor, but they are all defined by his desire to eliminate Superman. In only one of these instances does he succeed, but even in that case it is Superman who truly wins, as he realizes his absence will be for the greater good. Unfortunately this is why Luthor can never truly be a good President. He is too consumed by his hatred of Superman, and any politician who has that much hatred and contempt in their heart should never thrive in such a position.
The Daughter of the Demon comes looking for her son in this exclusive first look at Super Sons #13.
Pete Tomasi is probably the definitive Damian Wayne writer at this point. Yes, Damian was introduced by Grant Morrison, and he retains a particularly Morrison feel, but Tomasi has been working with the kid for somewhere near 60 issues now. He's got a handle on the character, made him likeable outside of the grudgingly respectful relationship that Damian had with Dick Grayson. Seriously, Batman and Robin volume 2 is great comics, and the Two Face arc is one of my favorite Batman stories ever. Interestingly enough, though, for all the time Tomasi has spent with Damian, to the best of my knowledge, he's never written Talia, Damian's mother, before. Until this issue of Super Sons.
Super Sons has rounded into a fun book. It's a throwback, the kind of thing you might not hand to an early reader, but definitely to a new-to-comics tween. It feels like the kind of book that would be used to "um actually" someone complaining about how comics aren't for kids anymore - bright, superhero action steeped in the rich, wide DC Universe, with a perfectly easy point of entry for the reader. That point of entry being Jon Kent, Superboy. Damian is still a bit of a weiner, even after all the work Tomasi's put in making him enjoyable. That's kind of his point, I think.
Anyway, DC sent us a preview of Super Sons #13. Here's what they have to say about the issue.
SUPER SONS #13 Written by PETER J. TOMASIArt by CARLO BARBERICover by GIUSEPPE CAMUNCOLIVariant cover by DUSTIN NGUYEN“Mother’s Day” part one! Talia al Ghul returns for her son Damian, whom she trained from birth to be an assassin. With the evil in Robin’s past finally revealed to Superboy, it might be too much for the Sons’ partnership to survive…especially when the boys find out her next victim is one of the most important people in their lives!
I'm not one to swoon over variants, but I will buy the hell out of this Dustin Nguyen cover if it ever turns into a print *hint hint.* Take a look at it below:
March will see the final adventure of the Mighty Thor come to an end.
Years of Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman's work with Thor and Jane Foster are coming to a head in March's The Mighty Thor #705.
The Mighty Thor #705 is the penultimate issue of the arc titled "The Death of the Mighty Thor." Jane Foster has since the beginning of Aaron's time writing Asgard been battling cancer. When she became Thor, every time she switched between her normal self and her Asgardian god form, she would neutralize her chemo treatments.
Now, while all of Aaron's myriad storylines come to a head with all of Asgard battling Mangog (the collected hatred of billions of beings killed by Odin eons ago, and not a bizarre, ram-headed marital aid), it seems we're also going to see Jane's time wielding Mjolnir as a living person come to a close.
Here's the official synopsis:
The world of Mighty Thor and Odinson has been turned upside down, literally and figuratively -- the Mangog’s attack on Asgardia has left the realm, and the gods who inhabit it, decimated. And the Mangog isn’t done yet! While Odinson’s responsibility is to protect his people, Mighty Thormust make a choice: fight Mangog by picking up Mjolnir – which guarantees that Jane Foster will perish – or watch the world fall.
There is no choice…
Prepare yourself as Jane Foster picks up Mjolnir one last time in MIGHTY THOR #705, and witness the death of a hero!
But wait, says series editor Wil Moss. "Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman have been building to this issue for over three years...You may think you know where things are going, but I promise you do not." And with one issue to go in the arc after #705, it seems likely that there will be, if not a next chapter, at least a coda to Jane's story.
The Marvel version of the Valkyrior are a group of women who ride winged horses and guide Asgard's honored dead to Valhalla, where they get trashed and hunt all day. In addition to Brunnhilde, The Valkyrie of comics and Thor: Ragnarok fame, Danielle Moonstar of New Mutants fame has also been a member of the Valkyrior.
Check out the preview pages...
The Mighty Thor #705, by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman is on sale on March 21.
Wondering where to start with Marvel's Black Panther comics? We've got you covered.
The unstoppable hype train has finally made the station: Black Panther is here, in what is maybe the most highly anticipated and certainly the best reviewed Marvel movie since the universe was created a decade ago. Ryan Coogler’s epic draws from a lot of sources from T’Challa’s sixty years of comics history, and fortunately for you, we’ve read most of it!
But where do you start with a character who has over 50 years of comic book history? We've got a guide for you...
Black Panther (2003)
This is probably the definitive run of Black Panther. This is where Wakanda stopped being backstory and started being a living, breathing place, with geography and politics and history that all contributed to its depth and beauty. It’s also where a bunch of what’s going on the screen started: Priest introduced Everett K. Ross and the Dora Milaje almost immediately in his first issue.
Priest had been separated from Marvel for several years before coming back to write this book under a separate, independent line within Marvel as the rest of the company went bankrupt around it. So he was given a lot of leeway to write the story he wanted to, and what came out was one of the greatest runs on any comic ever. Priest’s Black Panther was funny, complex, smart, timeless and yet very much of its time.
This run contains what could be my favorite single scene in comics history. After game playing by Klaw and a Deviant Eternal living outside of Atlantis brought Wakanda close to war with Atlantis, T’Challa heads to New York to meet with the UN. While there, he ends up in a tiny apartment, arguing realpolitik with Namor, Dr. Doom and Magneto. The interactions between the four of them, and the subtle character development of each that grew out of putting them in positions they didn’t normally occupy (Namor was actually fleetingly considering diplomacy! Doom was NOT trying to kill anyone for being Richarrrrrrdddds! Magneto actually saw he was the least powerful in the room so he turned peacemaker!). I’ll be chasing this scene in comics for the rest of my time reading them, I think.
Black Panther (2005)
Reginald Hudlin and John Romita Jr. dig into Wakandan history during their time on Black Panther. Wondering how previous Panthers interacted with the Marvel Universe? Want more detail on how and why Wakanda has never been conquered? This is your book.
Also, if you're looking for the definitive modern Klaw/Klaue vs. Panther story, this is it. Even the MCU's spelling of Klaue was taken from a historical sequence in this series. As the series went on, Shuri played a more crucial role, too...
Black Panther (2017)
If Priest was the first to give Wakanda a geography, and Hudlin a history, Coates is the first to make Wakanda a character in the story.
Ta-Nehisi Coates was a huge splash when he was hired. He was known mostly as a political thinker before he joined Marvel, dissecting issues of race and racism for broader audiences in the pages of The Atlantic or The New York Times. He brought the same level of thoughtfulness to his comics work: it’s obvious from reading that he hasn’t just thought about how T’Challa interacts with the world around him, but how Wakanda fits with the nations around it, how cultures overlap, or what cities go where according to Wakanda’s geography.
That’s not to say he’s giving us a geography textbook. It’s ALSO a politics textbook, with questions about the consent of the governed and an internal argument about why an advanced nation like Wakanda is stuck with a hereditary monarchy. That internal argument is carried out by two rogue Dora Milaje in mech suits, by the way.
Coates has been paired with stellar artists from the first issue, and has given us reunions of The Crew; a villains team of Obadiah Stane, Dr. Faustus, Klaw and Coates’ two new villains; and had T’Challa, Shuri and Manifold fighting the snake-headed byproduct of wars between the old gods. This book is outstanding.
Make no mistake: this ends up being a Reed Richards/Dr. Doom story, but it’s also very much a Black Panther story. It starts in New Avengers #1 in Wakanda, and ends with Secret Wars#8 in the same place.
While the main strand of the story follows Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic as they fail to figure out why the multiverse is collapsing, the second storyline looks at Black Panther and Namor as they try and make the hard decisions to protect the others from having to make them. In this case, the hard decisions involve blowing up Earths full of people.
This run came on the heels of the dreadful Avengers vs. X-Men, where Namor, all hopped up on the Phoenix Force, destroyed huge chunks of Wakanda. Their conflict simmered through this whole story before finally resolving itself on Battleworld in one of the best battles in comics history. This Black Panther story is absolutely worth reading.
Dig a little deeper...
Movie fans wondering where Erik Killmonger came from might want to check out Panther's Rage. The first truly great Black Panther solo story is a little beholden to 1970s comic book style, but Don McGregor told what was a genuinely epic T'Challa solo adventure, and began to flesh out Wakanda in new and inventive ways. And don't forget about Panther co-creator Jack Kirby's return to the character in the mid-70s, which might feel a little odd for movie fans, but it's still the King working on the King.
Deadpool 2’s Ryan Reynolds injects some ultraviolent levity into the lives of cancer-stricken children in some set photos.
Deadpool 2– or whatever the Deadpool sequel will ultimately be titled – continues one of the most creative promotional strategies ever implemented for a film. However, star Ryan Reynolds has released some set photos that transcend mere promotion, showcasing the power that the lewd, crude Marvel superhero possesses when it comes to enlivening the emotional resolve of a brigade of brave children who are battling cancer.
While the social media stylings of star Ryan Reynolds typically consists of insanely irreverent Deadpool material, he used his role as the Merc with a Mouth, in this instance, to pull on some figurative heartstrings (perhaps saving the pulling of literal ones for the movie,) with some inspirational photos showing a Deadpool 2 set visit of children from Make-A-Wish Foundation and its Canadian counterpart, Children’s Wish Foundation.
One of the best parts of playing the Big Red Jackass is welcoming @makeawishamerica and @childrenswishfoundation onto set. Deadpool kicked Cancer in the taint, but these kids do it for real every day. These foundations make dreams come true for a lot of of super-brave kids. They also make dreams come true for parents, who just wanna see their kid smile. HUGE thanks to our Prop Master, Dan Sissons, for making sure every kid left with his/her own sword. (Bamboo versions. Not stabby-stabby versions.) %uD83C%uDDE8%uD83C%uDDE6%u2694%uFE0F
Expressing his admiration in a Deadpool-like way, Reynolds, who calls the opportunity to welcome the kids as “one of the best parts of playing the Big Red Jackass,” states:
“Deadpool kicked Cancer in the taint, but these kids do it for real every day. These foundations make dreams come true for a lot of super-brave kids. They also make dreams come true for parents, who just wanna see their kid smile.”
In addition to some amazing interactions with the kids, Reynolds and the Deadpool 2 production was able to provide each of the visitors with an amazing memento in the form of prop replicas of Deadpool’s katanas, signed by the star himself. For this colossally cool bit of swag, Reynolds expressed his gratitude, stating:
“HUGE thanks to our Prop Master, Dan Sissons, for making sure every kid left with his/her own sword. (Bamboo versions. Not stabby-stabby versions.)”
Of course, the $783 million global box office success of 2016’s original Deadpool was seen as a groundbreaking achievement because of its non-family-friendly nature, along with its status as an unapologetically R-rated outing that's rife with nudity and just about every crass concept one could imagine. Thus, the narrative questioning the wisdom of having children visit the set to its equally iniquitous sequel has been raised. Consequently, Reynolds addressed one such critic on Facebookin a post that was subsequently deleted– which, in turn, deleted Reynolds’s response. Addressing the R-rated issue, Reynolds states:
“Yup. Deadpool is Rated R. If my kid went through a fraction of the sh*t these kids deal with daily, I think they can watch whatever they like. That’s just my .02 cents.”
Indeed, the adult-driven marketing of Deadpool 2 still doesn’t mitigate the fact that many children do get to see R-rated movies; a generally unspoken idea that has always been the case. That idea is complemented by the fact that Deadpool is currently one of the most popular characters in the published pages of Marvel Comics. Moreover, the story of Deadpool is one that’s close to home, and it’s easy to see how children affected by cancer can draw inspiration from the (admittedly fantastical) story of Reynolds’s Wade Wilson, whose own bout with malignancy led to an amazing – though aesthetically unappealing – metamorphosis into Deadpool, who, despite his hardships, fights the good fight (and the fourth wall,) in an insanely humorous – albeit homicidal – manner.
Deadpool 2 (official title to be revealed,) will make its way to theaters on May 18.
Eric "Slowhand" Clapton hand-picked the best musicians to ease addiction at the Crossroads Guitar Festivals.
Former Cream, Yardbirds and Derek and the Dominos guitarist Eric Clapton had a lot of musical friends. He played and partied with them, breaking strings and sharing riffs and spliffs. The rock and roll lifestyle caught up with a lot of the musicians when they got home from the road. Clapton also shared his curative paradise, the Crossroads Centre for drug treatment in Antigua, which he opened with Richard Conte, CEO of The Priory Hospitals Group. To pay the piper, Clapton founded the Crossroads Guitar Festival. Genesis Publications commemorates the the Crossroads Guitar Festivals, 1999-2013, with Sunshine Of Your Love: Eric Clapton and Friends. The limited edition book and record set will be available for shipping in May 2018.
Clapton personally selected the guitarists who played the Crossroads Guitar Festivals. He invited Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Doyle Bramhall II, Jimmie Vaughan, James Taylor, Joe Walsh, Buddy Guy and B.B. King.
"One by one, my heroes would eventually be in the same room with me. What do we do? We just play, play our hearts out," Clapton remembers in the book.
The first concert was held on June 30, 1999, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, which also hosted the show in 2013. "It was really special playing Madison Square Garden. It was amazing to be in New York City with all those cats and all that music," Gary Clark Jr. remembers in the book. The 2004 concert was held at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, 2007 and 2010 festivals were held at Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Illinois, just outside Chicago.
"Eric's been such a great person for guitar players,” remembers Buddy Guy. “Anybody would be happy to be a part of this."
The book documents Clapton's work in the Yardbirds, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Cream. Whole pages are dedicated to the history of the slide guitar, from Elmore James to Duane Allman, and to the continuing significance of the Chicago bluesmen. Blues legends like B.B King, Johnny Winter and Buddy Guy, as well as newer guitar virtuosos, such as John Mayer and Gary Clark Jr., recount the history of guitar music, from blues to country, from jazz to rock 'n' roll.
Sunshine Of Your Love: Eric Clapton and Friends includes an exclusive 7" vinyl picture disc that includes a performance of “Wonderful Tonight” from the first benefit concert in 1999, and “Got To Get Better In A Little While” performed at the final Crossroads in 2013.
Sunshine Of Your Love: Eric Clapton and Friends was handcrafted in Milan, Italy, the 1,650 collector copies are quarter bound in leather with foil blocking and silver page edging. The 36,000-word book features archival photos and exclusive interviews with Clapton and the performers, each numbered copy is signed by at least three legendary Crossroads musicians.
Sunshine Of Your Love: Eric Clapton and Friends will be ready for shipping starting in May 2018.
Much has been made of the MCU's villain problem, but the franchise's true weakness lies in its uneven attempts at romance.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has often been criticized for its less-than-memorable villains. With a few exceptions, crafting compelling villain-types isn't the franchise's strong suit. However, the MCU is increasingly guilty of another weakness: its half-hearted romances, an issue that isn't entirely unrelated to its unwillingness to give female characters the character development that would make the MCU a stronger narrative universe.
Take Captain America: Civil War, for example. While critical consensus deemed this movie a success, in the weeks following its release, there were several great think pieces about the inorganic romance between Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter as one of the film's only glaring weaknesses. It's not hard to understand why: the relationship is shoehorned into a movie that already has enough to do without the added pressure of having to awkwardly reinforce the heteronormativity of the MCU.
Sharon has more interesting things to do as a character than kiss Steve. She is grieving her aunt, following her moral compass in helping Steve find Bucky, and trying to juggle all of this while also working as a CIA agent. It sucks that her role is instead forced into a romantic relationship when it doesn't have to be, when there are so many other rich relationship possibilities.
Awesomely-named Tumblr user Comte De La Done With the World wonders what Captain America: Civil War would have looked like if it had prioritized a relationship between Tony Stark and Peggy Carter — whose friendship is canon in both Captain America: The First Avenger as well as Agent Carter — and, therefore, a relationship between Tony Stark and Sharon Carter. They write:
You mean to tell me that in the seventy years Steve was gone, Peggy, who was one of Howard’s closest friends, wasn’t a part of Tony’s life growing up? ... Give me Tony Stark and Sharon Carter at Peggy’s funeral talking about their Aunt Peggy and everything she worked so hard to build and everything she did for them. Also give me Sharon Carter who is no one’s token love interest, who didn’t tell Steve who she was because actually it’s no one’s business.
Rather than this not-so-hard-to-imagine narrative, Sharon's character (and Peggy's character, for that matter) was forced to exist almost exclusively within the narrow MCU lane designed for "romantic interests," a lane that is getting narrower and less interesting as the MCU progresses.
Steve and Sharon's relationship is only one example of the series of lackluster romances that has partially defined the MCU. A film franchise that previously had underwhelming villains as its weakest narrative element, but has since moved onto "clumsy, forced romances" as one of its weakest narrative elements.
Let's look at the evidence by ranking the canon romances (sorry, Stucky) of the MCU.
Ranking the romances of the MCU.
12. Stephen & Christine (Doctor Strange)
Congratulations, Thor and Jane! You are no longer the worst romance in the MCU. That dubious honor goes to Doctor Strange's Stephen and Christine. Stephen's main character trait is self-involved arrogance, so you can imagine how hard it is to ship him with anyone, let alone the long-suffering Rachel McAdams, who seems doomed to a career of thankless roles as love interests who ground the needy men in their lives with an infinite degree of understanding.
This trope is on full display in Christine's relationship with Stephen, which peaks in a scene in which Stephen mansplains his own surgery to the highly-qualified emergency surgeon Christine. Though Marvel claims this relationship was changed from a romance to a subversion of that trope, making them ex-lovers instead, that doesn't exactly come across on screen. Christine is still completely defined as a love interest for Stephen and by her endless ability to provide his character emotional support. Rachel McAdams deserves far, far better. So do us fans.
11. Thor & Jane Foster (Thor)
Guys, can we all admit that the Thor/Jane romance is so boring? It's so boring that, when it was announced that Natalie Portman wouldn't be returning for Thor: Ragnarok, most people's reaction was basically: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. This is the actress who had been in both previous Thor films as the main romantic interest and female lead. That's not good.
This ambivalence is not Portman's fault (though, as Attack of the Clones demonstrates, while Portman has many skills as an actress, overcoming under-written romances is not one of them). This actress has some hard, thinly-veiled damsel-in-distress tropes to deal with in Jane's character. This is especially true in The Dark World, where Jane passes out during her escape from Asgard with Thor and Loki. That is how not-invested in this plot Jane is. Just when things start get interesting, she opts out.
Thor and Jane's relationship is not an organic one based on on-screen chemistry or artful writing. It is the most blatant example of Because They're A Thing in the Comics, but not even the giddy-making degree to which Darcy Lewis ships Thor and Jane can make us care about this chemistry-less romance.
10. Steve Rogers & Sharon Carter (Civil War)
I'm not going to spend much time rehashing this one as it got some play in the intro, but will reiterate that this "romance" is totally unnecessary within the larger plot. This movie has about one million more interesting things to do than explore a romance between Steve and Sharon.
Best case interpretation of their kiss: this is a boring pairing that nobody asked for and Marvel spent almost no time developing. It's an obligatory nod to the romantic history of their comic book counterparts. Worst case interpreation of their kiss: this is MCU's homophobic reaction to Stucky shippers in a movie where Steve chooses Bucky above all else. Either way, it's a disappointing storytelling decision.
9. Bruce Banner & Natasha Romanov (Age of Ultron)
The romance between Bruce and Natasha explored in Age of Ultron has similar problems to the romance between Steve and Sharon in Civil War. It feels like it was hatched not out of a natural, well-developed chemistry between these two characters, but rather the idea that someone in this movie should have a romance.
The romance between Bruce and Natasha works a bit better than the one between Steve and Sharon, however, because we have seen much more interaction between their two characters. Natasha is the one who S.H.I.E.L.D. sends to retrieve Bruce in The Avengers, and the two have some interesting conversations about the responsibility of having the skillset (or brute strength, in Bruce's case) to murder someone.
In another, less busy movie, perhaps this romance could have worked, but, as part of an already-overstuffed Age of Ultron, it felt like an unnecessary distraction.
8. Vision & Wanda (Civil War)
Besides Steve and Sharon, the other burgeoning romance in Civil War is the one between Vision and Wanda. This might be a controversial one to add to the list given that it isn't technically canon, but it seems like a romance the MCU is building, so I'm gonna go with it. I liked a lot of the Vision/Wanda interaction in Civil War. These two characters are both outsiders feared by the world — including some people they consider friends. This forges a believable bond. I'll bite, Marvel.
7. Peter & Liz (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
While it's obvious that Peter and Mary Jane are actually endgame here, Liz Allan is the person Peter has a massive crush on in his MCU standalone debut.
Unlike most of the other romances on this list, the high school flirtation between Peter and Liz is played with relatively low stakes—though it does tie into an extremely high-stakes situation, that is really more about Peter's role as a superhero, rather than as a high school boy trying to go with the girl he likes to the homecoming dance. This gives the relationship more room to breathe, and makes it feel more realistic. This isn't a life-or-death, star-crossed love situation; it's just two sweet, well-intentioned high school kids who like each other.
By the end of the film, it's obvious things are not going to work out between these two, but Spider-Man: Homecoming does something incredibly smart by treating Liz like a real, complex person, and giving her a moment of angry empathy during their, for want of a better descriptor, break-up scene. Liz doesn't let Peter off the hook for how he treated her, but she also recognizes that he is someone with a lot of difficult issues to work through. It's a moment of complex humanity that MCU doesn't usually award its female love interests.
6. Peter Quill & Gamora (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Like Vision and Wanda and Scott and Hope before them, Peter and Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy haven't really happened yet — and maybe that's why all three of the aforementioned romances are so much better developed than the Steve and Sharon or Bruce and Natashas of the MCU?
Guardians of the Galaxy isn't in any rush to get these two together, and their relationship has, thus far, felt much more organic because of that fact. In the first film, they are reluctant allies from opposite sides of the galaxy who actually have a lot in common when they stop to chat about it. Not that they have much time to chat about it. This is an action adventure film, after all. Rather than get them together in the sequel, which would have been the predictable thing to do, Marvel continues to play it slow with these two.
In a Facebook live video Q&A, director James Gunn said of the reason why the two didn't kiss in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2:
"[Gamora] is not someone who is going to just give in to the moment of a lustful, passionate moment. That's just not who she is. But what she did do: She loves Peter Quill. That's very obvious at the end movie. And she admits that to him and their love is based on something much deeper than sex. It's based on a profound friendship between the two of them. They are the heads of this family in a lot of ways."
5. Bruce Banner & Betty Ross (The Incredible Hulk)
It says a lot about the competitiveness of this list that Bruce and Betty managed to make it into the top four. The Incredible Hulk was a pretty forgettable movie (although not, actually, a terrible one) — so much so that most people generally forget it's technically a part of the MCU (something Marvel sometimes seems to actively encourage).
That being said, The Incredible Hulk is arguably the standalone installment that most integrates a love story into its central plot, with Bruce and Betty going on the run together from General Ross, Betty's father (who, yes, also showed up in Captain America: Civil War). Rather than most of the other MCU romances, Betty and Bruce don't meet in The Incredible Hulk, but rather catch back up after a period of Hulk-induced estrangement. This is a good narrative cheat for crafting a convincing romance between two characters when you don't have a lot of time.
Cons of this romance include the fact that Liv Tyler's Betty doesn't really get to be a character outside of her identity as Bruce's love interest. It's also kind of awkward that Bruce has mentioned nothing of Betty in his later, Avengers-based appearances as Mark Ruffalo.
4. Scott Lang & Hope van Dyne (Ant-Man)
Scott and Hope have a relatively traditional action film romance. Hope kind of hates Scott. Banter, banter, banter. She eventually sees through his tough guy persona to the heart of gold underneath. They eventually admit that they kinda, sorta have a thing for each other. It's totally watchable, especially because Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly are charming actors.
It helps that Hope has a lot going on character-wise. Part of the reason she first dislikes Scott is because she justifiably sees him filling a role that she is arguably much more qualified to fill. She is a female MCU character who knows her worth (Peggy Carter would be proud). And Scott is man enough to admit that Hope is a terrifying badass. Even before they fall for each other, he respects her. There's not enough of that in movie romance.
3. T'Challa & Nakia (Black Panther)
The romance between T'Challa and Nakia is gloriously subtle and organic in Black Panther. While these two were once together, they broke up sometime before the start of the film—not because they don't love one another, but because Nakia couldn't stand to stay in an isolationist Wakanda when there are people all over the world who need her help. It's a very mature, not at all contrived reason to keep these two apart.
Given that much of this movie takes place in the direct aftermath of T'Chaka's death and T'Challa is busy both grieving his father and trying to hold onto the throne, there isn't much time for the rekindling of romance. Instead, we get a chance to see the depth of love and respect these two have for one another. It is Nakia, along with Erik, who convince T'Challa to change Wakanda's historic policy of staying largely uninvolved from the rest of the world—a mark of how much T'Challa respects his friend and ex-lover.
T'Challa obviously adores Nakia (who wouldn't?) and it will be exciting to see how Nakia's character continues to contribute to the rich world of Black Panther and of the larger MCU.
2. Steve Rogers & Peggy Carter (The First Avenger)
This is another MCU romance that gives us a well-realized female character who has ambitions and character traits outside of her romance with Steve Rogers. It helps that Peggy Carter has appeared in her own TV show (R.I.P., Agent Carter) and one-shot before that, in addition to appearing in both Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: Civil War (she also appears as a hallucination-dream in Age of Ultron).
From the very beginning, the dynamic between Peggy and Steve was something special because Peggy was better realized than most other female characters in the MCU put together. (The Captain America films tend to do a better job with female characters than other narrative strains of the MCU. Exhibit B: Natasha's arc in The Winter Soldier.)
Peggy knew and cared for pre-serum Steve as much as she did for post-serum Steve and, even after they were separated, kept his legacy alive (don't tell me you didn't tear up while Steve was watching her Smithsonian interview). After he woke up in the 21st century, Steve visited an ailing Peggy in her nursing home presumably on a fairly regular basis. If that's not love, then I don't know what is.
(Well, love is literally starting a war to save your best friend, but I'm not here to make Steve — or you — choose.)
1. Tony Stark & Pepper Potts (Iron Man)
The MCU banter-filled romance that started them all. Unlike all of the other choices on the list, the relationship between Tony and Pepper has not only been well-developed, but sustained over the course of three films (with an additional scene in Spider-Man: Homecoming!). It's sad that we haven't gotten to see as much of these two together, as Gwyneth Paltrow hasn't appeared in the last few Avengers-filled movies, but this seems poised to change with Infinity War.
It's particularly interesting to think about the importance of this relationship within the context of Civil War. It's hard to imagine Tony going off the deep-end quite so quickly or thoroughly if things with Pepper were good. Let's not forget that he starts his Civil War character arc not just with the reminder of his parents' untimely death or his interaction with a grieving mother, but also with the notable absence of Pepper.
From the very first Iron Man film, Pepper has been the person Tony can and does most rely on. It's what gave that first film so much heart (the film really makes a point of driving that heart metaphor home). The first Iron Man film is given a lot of credit for its humor, action, and tone, but I don't think enough people pay attention to how good the romance — which is to say, interpersonal drama — is in Iron Man.
When Tony Stark is at his most obnoxious and unlikeable, Pepper is the audience surrogate character, reminding us to give this man time and patience to become the hero he can be. People like to speculate if the MCU would be where it is today if Iron Man had sucked/flopped. I think a poorly-realized romance might have served that purpose.
What's the MCU to do?
Marvel has to make a decision: either include romances that get proper development or eschew romantic subplots altogether. The former choice would be preferable, at least in my book. The comic books these superhero stories are adapted from so often have iconic romantic relationships (not that I would say no to a well-developed, non-comic book canon relationship). When done right, romantic storylines are a good excuse (though not the only one) for the kind of complex interpersonal drama that all too often gets de-prioritized in major action blockbusters with so many other concerns.
Either way, the MCU needs to figure out a way to include more, better-developed female characters. It's kind of an ongoing joke that Marvel doesn't know how to treat female fans. It's not all that funny because, unfortunately, it's mostly true.
(Pro tip: We like good writing, solid characterization, and well-choreographed fight scenes — just like the man-people do.)
We also just want to see ourselves reflected on screen through a diverse representation of female characters (as in: roughly half of the cast — you know, just like in real life) who actually get to do stuff. And not just romance stuff (though some romance stuff, too, please).
Personally, I find Natasha Romanov's character arc in The Winter Soldier much more interesting and better articulated than her character arc in Age of Ultron, which is largely shoehorned into a romance with Bruce Banner. The former is a great example of what male-female friendship can look like, and a story arc that laid a solid foundation for Steve and Natasha's relationship in Civil War — a character dynamic that was about a million times more interesting than the apparently romantic one between Steve and Sharon.
This isn't because non-romantic plotlines are inherently more interesting, complex, or valuable than romantic ones. It's because, all too often, when female characters are given a romantic purpose within a narrative, that romantic identity is all they get to be. This is not only lazy characterization and storytelling, but a dangerous idea to continually reinforce for the girls, boys, men, and women watching these mainstream stories. It's the kind of cultural pattern that leads to men thinking that a woman's purpose in real life is to serve their needs and desires. It's the kind of cultural pattern that makes girls and women think that, too.
Marvel should start with hiring more female writers. There's a correlation between the lack of female heroines and underdeveloped female characters in MCU and the fact that, of the 21 writers who have been credited with penning the 13 MCU films so far, only one of them has been a woman: Nicole Perlman, the co-scriptwriter of Guardians of the Galaxy. (For five glorious minutes, I thought the number of female scriptwriters in the MCU might be two, before I realized that Ashley Edward Miller, aka a co-scriptwriter of Thor, is, in fact a man.)
The first film that will have an exclusively female writing team is 2019's Captain Marvel — aka the first MCU film that will have a female lead (because women can only write for female characters). The MCU's romance problem isn't unrelated to its female character problem. When your best developed characters are almost exclusively men, and you insist on staying within heteronormative lines, then your romances are probably going to lack depth.
There seems to be a common idea in the Hollywood dream factory board rooms, like the ones where MCU film plots are pieced together from cut up comic books and the not-tears of fragile masculinity, that women only want to watch movies that have romance in them. The way I break this down is two-fold: It's not that we enjoy the romantic genre above all others (though some of us do, as do some men). It's that we are socialized to understand the world through the interpersonal relationships we are expected to nurture, understand, and prioritize in our own lives.
As a culture, women are often tasked with doing a significant majority of the emotional labor communities, families, and even workplaces rely on. To women (and men) who are socialized to do this emotional labor, stories that explore the complex, all-important web of interpersonal relationships are fascinating. They reflect the world as we have been socialized to see it. They are cathartic and representative in a way that stories should be. When a story is devoid of nuanced interpersonal drama, I am personally less interested in it as a viewer — and I think that many women (and men socialized to value the interpersonal) feel the same way.
This desire to see more stories that prioritize interpersonal themes and drama often gets conflated into romance by male creators who either don't understand or don't prioritize the nuance and richness of this kind of storytelling. There are so many different ways to explore the world of the interpersonal. Romance is one of them, but it is just a small sliver of the larger storytelling possibilities. The sooner mainstream storytellers understand this, the better for everyone.
The Den of Geek Book Club is a place to geek out about our favorite science fiction, fantasy, and horror books.
We have launched a Den of Geek Book Club as a place to recommend, discuss, and obsess over our favorite fantasy, science fiction, and horror books. Join us in discussing our latest pick...
February/March Pick: All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
All Our Wrong Todays is a time travel novel where the "wrong" timeline is our own. When protagonist Tom Barren travels back in time using his father's technology, he changes the world from a utopia where the problems of war, poverty, and under-ripe avocados have been solved, into, well, this one. By centering our timeline as the "wrong" one, author Elan Mastai subverts many of the classic time travel narrative trope, giving us a fresh science fiction novel for anyone who worries they're living in the darkest timeline.
January/February Pick: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is a Hugo Award-winning novella about a young African woman who leaves her home on Earth for the first time to attend an intergalactic university on another planet. On the voyage, something goes terribly wrong, forcing Binti to rely on her mathematic skills and her culture to survive.
The Afrofuturist space adventure novella is unlike anything I have ever read, coming from one of the most exciting authors working in science fiction right now. The story continues in two follow-up novellas already published.
Head over to our Den of Geek Book Club page to join in the discussion! And stay tuned for more Binti content over the next month, including a review of the third novella in the Binti series: The Night Masquerade.
December/January Pick: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
The City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty's debut novel, is the start of a rich, imaginative new historical fantasy series. Set in the 18th-century Middle East, The City of Brass follows Nahri, a young woman living in Cairo who gets pulled into a magical world of djinn, and Ali, a young prince living in the djinn city of Daevabad.
The dual perspective narrative follows both young people as they try to navigate a world of complex political and cultural allegiances where the interpersonal often clashes with the political in ways that threaten to tear them apart.
Head over to our Den of Geek Book Club page to join in the discussion! And stay tuned for more The City of Brass content throughout the following month, including an interview with author S.A. Chakraborty.
November/December Pick: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
Our second book club pick was Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz, a science fiction story of robots, pirates, and identity in the year 2144.
Autonomous is a gutting tale that follows robot Paladin and drug pirate Jack as they fight for identity, autonomy, love, and freedom in a world where people can be owned and big pharmaceutical companies have immense power. (There, um, may be some parallels to our own world...)
Want to take part in the discussion? Head over to the Den of Geek Book Club on Goodreads to see what kind of discussion happened around the book, and feel free to join in. Or listen to our podcast interview with Annalee Newitz.
October/November Pick: The Name of the Wind
Our first Den of Geek Book Club book was The Name of the Wind, the first book in Patrick Rothfuss'Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy.
I know, I know. This book came out a long time ago. However, it just celebrated its 10th anniversary, complete with a gorgeous 10th anniversary edition from DAW. It will soon be turned into a movie and TV show, with musical producer support from Kingkiller Chronicle superfan Lin-Manuel Miranda.
In other words, whether this is your first time reading or your 15th, it's a great time to discuss this modern fantasy classic! Head over to our Goodreads Book Club page to see what kind of discussion happened around The Name of the Wind, and to add your own thoughts on this modern fantasy classic.
Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston developed Amazon's TV adaptation of non-fiction guidebook The Dangerous Book for Boys.
The Dangerous Book for Boys may brandish a title that sounds like an Atomic Age Cub Scouts guide, but the upcoming Amazon Prime series – based on a popular 2007 British book – was co-developed for TV by Bryan Cranston, arriving as an intriguing peak television offering that combines the poignant dramatic element of grief with pure unadulterated imagination.
The Dangerous Book for Boys Trailer
While the series adapts the 2007 non-fiction book by Conn and Hal Iggulden, The Dangerous Book for Boys trailer showcases an Amazon series that centers on a fictional story that’s put through the lens of the book’s themes.
The Dangerous Book for Boys focuses on a young man named Wyatt (Gabriel Bateman) and his brothers, Dash (Drew Powell) and Liam (Kyan Zielinsky), who are reeling in the aftermath of the death of their father (Chris Diamantopoulos). Hoping to bring about a bit of joy, their grieving mother (Kevin Can Wait castoff Erinn Hayes) hands Wyatt an heirloom in the form of a copy of The Dangerous Book for Boys. However, in a Jumanji-like manner, the how-to book transports Wyatt into a fantasy world with changing themes in which he is somehow reunited with his late father, who teaches him practical life skills that the book endows and, presumably becoming a more whole person in the real world as a result.
The Dangerous Book for Boys Release Date
The Dangerous Book for Boys will release its six-episode debut season on Amazon Prime on March 30.
The Dangerous Book for Boys Details
While the aura of a legendary television starring role on AMC’s Breaking Bad still emanates strong from Bryan Cranston, he’s also become quite industrious with the behind-the-scenes chemistry of the industry as a producer on Amazon projects like the sci-fi anthology series Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams and drama Sneaky Pete. Now, it seems that his working relationship with the retail monolith/streaming platform will continue with the comedy series The Dangerous Book for Boys. Cranston co-created the Dangerous Book project with Superbad director Greg Mottola during the 2014/2015 season. The series will arrive under the production banners of Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures Television, Dangerous Book arrives as six half-hour episodes.
Interestingly, The Dangerous Book for Boys’ classification as an “adaptation” pushes some limits, since its source material, Conn and Hal Iggulden’s 2007 book, has no real plot to adapt, existing earnestly as a cheeky guidebook that actually teaches young men real-life skills during a modern age when computers, video games, television and movies have facilitated a more sedentary, detached generation who lack the kind of practical skills that older generations were raised to possess.
In a tidbit that Breaking Bad fans might find interesting, Dangerous Book first blipped Cranston’s radar during the time of that show when his co-star and onscreen wife, Anna Gunn, gave him a copy, telling him, “this reminds me of you!” While Cranston’s only child is a daughter (Sweet/Vicious actress Taylor Dearden), the boy book resonated with him and, in an interview with IndieWire, he described his epiphany for the TV concept, stating:
“There is no plot and there are no characters in the book. It’s a guide to how to embrace boyhood: How to build a fort, how to talk to a girl, what are the rules in baseball, what are the great battles in history. But there is no show. I was in Boston [performing ‘All the Way’] and running along the Charles River when all of a sudden it popped into my head how to crack this story!”
Indeed, The Dangerous Book for Boys has become quite the passion project for Cranston, who came close to a TV deal with NBC back in September 2016 before the Peacock Network ultimately passed. With the book by the Iggulden siblings already an Amazon bestselling hit that was only contemporaneously outsold by mega-fiction-franchise closer Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it will certainly be interesting to see how the tongue-in-cheek, yet educational approach of Dangerous Book will translate to a television comedy.