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- 03/09/18--12:21: A Wrinkle in Time: What Happened to The Murry Twins?
- 03/09/18--12:51: A Wrinkle in Time: How Charles Wallace's Adoption Changes the Film
- 03/09/18--14:31: Emma Roberts to Star in Supernatural Comedy Anya’s Ghost
- 03/10/18--14:51: The 10 Greatest Supernatural Stephen King Villains
- 03/11/18--15:27: A Wrinkle in Time: Could Aunt Beast End Up As a Deleted Scene?
- 03/11/18--16:18: A Wrinkle in Time Book: Biggest Changes Made For the Movie
- 03/11/18--23:16: Mister Miracle and Big Barda Are Having a Baby This Week
- 03/01/18--09:58: The Punisher: Frank Castle's 15 Most Humbling Moments
- 03/12/18--13:26: Patricia Briggs Does Werewolf Romance Right in Burn Bright
- 03/12/18--14:27: Dirk Gently Season 3 is Definitely Not Happening
- 03/12/18--17:56: Ian McKellen & Helen Mirren to Star in The Good Liar
- 03/13/18--08:44: Plastic Man Reboot Coming From DC
- 03/13/18--09:04: Black Panther 2: The Villains We'd Like to See
- 03/13/18--09:52: Elektra: Assassin & The Making of an Anti-Heroine
- 03/13/18--13:23: Nicole Kidman to Star in HBO Limited Series The Undoing
- 03/13/18--16:22: Marvel Collections, Graphic Novels on Huge Discount Sale for $1
- 03/13/18--17:04: Power Rangers: Shattered Grid Trailer
- 03/14/18--11:26: New Fantastic Four Costumes Revealed by Marvel
We talked to A Wrinkle in Time screenwriter Jennifer Lee about what happened to Sandy and Dennys, Meg's twin brothers from the book.
If you've read the A Wrinkle in Time book and have now seen the Disney movie adaptation of the Madeleine L'Engle novel, then you know two characters are missing from the film: Sandy and Dennys, Meg Murry's 10-year-old twin brothers who become very important in the Time Quintet novel Many Waters.
So... what happened to poor Sandy and Dennys? Den of Geek had a chance to ask screenwriter Jennifer Lee about the decision to cut them from the movie during a press event in Los Angeles. She told us that they were one of the first aspects of the book to be removed from the script, as they were unnecessary to telling Meg's story in A Wrinkle in Time.
"There's so much story to tell," Lee said. "There were all these clever ways to put the twins in just to include them. And I'm like, why? We're doing it for ... we don't want to do it for the wrong reasons. And it was one of those things that every time we would revisit maybe bringing them, everyone would agree."
Of course, given that Sandy and Dennys are the protagonists of Many Waters, their erasure from A Wrinkle in Time could potentally become a problem should Disney decide to movie forward with adapting more books in L'Engle's Time Quintet.
"I couldn't think ahead to what might come after this or to the other books in the series," said Lee. "I could only think to this story. I think I'd have done it a disservice if I projected things onto it that didn't need to be there."
While Lee and director Ava DuVernay came to this decision, it doesn't mean the subject wasn't ever debated. Lee spoke about the process of trying to figure out how the twins might be mentioned, but not active in the story, saying...
Do we say they're away at school? And then just saying, you know, we are not trying to do the book. When we do those little things, I think it's us feeling forced to do the book. And then we're saying, but wait, we all said it's about the spirit of the book, the feeling of the book, the journey. And that's what's important. And if we try to literally stay to the book we're not going to succeed. It's not fair. So the twins were one of the first to go.
I wouldn't worry too much. A lot is possible in the world of A Wrinkle in Time and, as Lee noted, "there's magical ways children show up." We wouldn't count Sandy and Dennys out just yet.
We talked to Wrinkle in Time screenwriter Jennifer Lee about how the Charles Wallace change from the book plays out in the movie adaptation.
While the bones of the A Wrinkle in Time book are preserved in Disney's big-budget adaptation, there are certain changes (like the erasure of the Murry twins) that stand out in the film. In addition to the diverse casting of the film, one of the more inspired changes from the book comes in the detail that Charles Wallace, Meg's younger brother, is adopted. In fact, the film starts with that detail, as a nervous Meg gets ready to meet her brother for the first time and is reassured by her parents.
Den of Geek had a chance to talk to A Wrinkle in Time screenwriter Jennifer Lee about the decision to have Charles Wallace be adopted during a recent press event in Los Angeles. She told us that the decision came from director Ava DuVernay, and it was made after scene-stealer Deric McCabe was cast in the role. The now nine-year-old is of Filipino descent, and Lee said DuVernay wanted "to be true to his culture as well and be respectful."
Lee said that the decision wasn't a simple one in the respect that the writer and her director didn't just want for the adoption to be a throwaway detail. The creators wanted to play out how Charles Wallace's adopted identity would affect the story and the characters.
"What I love is it wasn't so simple as saying that and that's why," said Lee. "We talked about what that does to the story. And to me, what I got very excited about, is: we're speaking to every family. And we're not saying it has to be related or blood or one type of family. And by him being an adopted, I feel like you included all families."
While A Wrinkle in Time is about Meg Murry's search for her missing father, the relationship between Meg and Charles Wallace is the true heart of the film. It's still relatively rare to see adopted characters in films that aren't explicitly about adoption. The fact that Charles Wallace's adopted identity is both central to the story and irrelevant to the love that Meg has for her little brother is one of the best parts of the film.
"You didn't doubt their love," continued Lee. "You didn't feel like it was, 'Well, you have to.' It was a love that's saying this is a family, and this love is very real, and this love is a relationship that is beautifully balanced. So, in a way, the conversation made us look at the film differently, and we actually realized we could do more with that relationship."
For many adopted kids out there, A Wrinkle in Time represents important representation, and makes for one of the most successful aspects of the film. The decision to have Charles Wallace adopted into the Murry family rather than born into it doesn't just change the story; it makes it better.
Comedy Anya’s Ghost, based on a graphic novel, will star American Horror Story’s Emma Roberts.
Anya’s Ghost, the acclaimed 2011 graphic novel by Russian cartoonist Vera Brosgol, is getting a film adaptation, with Emma Roberts now set as its star. The story will mix the relatable trope of an alienated teen’s troubles fitting in at her school with a supernatural mystery.
Emma Roberts will headline Anya’s Ghost, reports Deadline, playing young protagonist Anya. The graphic novel depicts Anya as a Russian refugee – settled in New England with her mother and brother – who’s a social outcast at the private school she attends. However, while skipping school, Anya discovers the century-old remains of a young girl, named Emily, whose ghost appears to her and wishes to become friends. Consequently, a bit of quid pro quo is struck when the ghostly Emily agrees to help Anya with her school troubles (grades, bullies, a boy she likes,) in exchange for finding out who murdered her all those years ago. However, as the friendship progresses, it becomes apparent that Emily might not be on the level with Anya.
Vera Brosgol’s source material graphic novel reaped plenty of awards in the immediate aftermath of its 2011 release, earning a Cybilis literary award in the YA category, a 2012 Harvey Award and a 2012 Eisner Award. A film adaptation seemed to be in the works back in 2015 when would-be It director Andy Muschietti – with sister and creative partner Barbara Muschietti – acquired the rights to Anya’s Ghost, though they could not follow through with the project, since theopportunity to adapt the iconic Stephen King novel subsequently arrived.
Dan Mazer steps in as director for Anya’s Ghost, coming off the 2016 Zach Efron/Robert De Niro comedy, Dirty Grandpa, and 2013 ensemble comedy I Give it A Year, with TV work on Dog Bites Man and Da Ali G Show. Here, Mazer works off a screenplay adapting Brosgol’s graphic novel by Patrick Ness, who’s known from the 2016 fantasy drama – and breakout project for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom director J.A. Bayona – A Monster Calls, as well as TV work on the 2016 one-and-done Doctor Who spinoff series, Class, and director Doug Liman’s 2019-scheduled Tom Holland/Daisy Ridley sci-fi dystopian epic, Chaos Walking. Additional personnel include prolific genre producer Jeremy Bolt (the Resident Evil films) is producing through his Bolt Pictures, joined in the same capacity by Bullitt Entertainment’s Benedict Carver (Winchester).
Emma Roberts comes into Anya’s Ghost as no stranger to darker genre work, having appeared in multiple anthology iterations of television’s American Horror Story, as well as Scream Queens (both for Ryan Murphy), with notable film appearances in the 2016 crime drama, Nerve, the 2013 comedy, Adult World, and the hit 2013 comedy, We’re the Millers, with early career headlining roles banked in 2007’s Nancy Drew and 2006’s Aquamarine.
There’s no word yet on when Anya’s Ghost is expected to manifest.
The Dark Tower TV series, which will now act as a reboot, is being developed at Amazon. Here's everything else we know about the show!
The Dark Tower TV series is in development at Amazon, according to Deadline. While the series was originally planned to tie into the 2017 film, that is no longer the plan, according to Stephen King in an interview with Vulture.
"The TV series they’re developing now … we’ll see what happens with that. It would be like a complete reboot, so we’ll just have to see," said King.
Glen Mazzara, who previously helmed The Walking Dead season 3, has been brought on as showrunner. Akiva Goldsman, who produced and co-wrote the film adaptation, will executive produce, along with Jeff Pinkner, Ron Howard, and Brian Grazer. Nikolaj Arcel, who directed The Dark Tower movie, and screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen wrote a script for the pilot and will also executive produce.
Of course, it's unclear if Amazon plans to move forward with Arcel and Jensen's script now that the film has turned out to be a failure. That pilot was said to feature Idris Elba, who played Roland in the movie, and Tom Taylor, who played Jake. It's unclear what their involvement will be at this point. Mazzara might prefer to start from scratch completely.
MRC and Sony Pictures, who also released the film in 2017, will finance a 10-13 episode first season.
Here's everything else we know:
The Dark Tower TV Series Release Date
EW had confirmed that the TV series would begin filming in 2017, with a potential premiere in 2018. As we've heard little about the show since the release of poorly received film, it's probably safe to say that the release date might be pushed back just a bit.
The Dark Tower TV Series Showrunner
THR reports that former Walking Deadexec producer Glen Mazzara will serve as showrunner for The Dark Tower TV series.
"I’ve been a Stephen King fan for decades and the opportunity to adapt The Dark Tower as a TV series is a great honor," Mazzara told THR. "The events of The Gunslinger, Wizard & Glass, The Wind Through the Keyhole, and other tales need a long format to capture the complexity of Roland's coming of age — how he became the Gunslinger, how Walter became the Man in Black, and how their rivalry cost Roland everything and everyone he ever loved. I could not be more excited to tell this story. It feels like being given the key to a treasure chest. And oh yeah, we’ll have billy-bumblers!"
Mazzara's involvement is definitely great news. He's responsible for what is arguably the greatest season of The Walking Dead after taking over for Frank Darabont in season 3. Hopefully, he'll bring a bit of his magic to The Dark Tower.
The showrunner has also been attached to a prequel to The Shining called The Overlook Hotelfor some time. No news on that front, though.
The Dark Tower TV Series Details
The show will reportedly flesh Roland's origin story and his first adventure as a young gunslinger from the fourth book in the series, Wizard and Glass.
In 2017, MRC released a cool promo that teases the setting of the show. It's a map of the different places in the Barony of Mejis, where most of Wizard and Glass takes place:
Roland's instructor, Cort, and his original ka-tet, Cuthbert and Alain, will appear on the show, although none of those roles have been cast yet.
Know the terror and madness of Stephen King's 10 greatest supernatural villains!
Pennywise the Clown isn't the only monster you need to fear at night. The King has created plenty of other horrific things that go bump in the night...
The name Stephen King conjures up images of horrific creatures, monsters, places, and stories, and some of the most enduring villains in fiction. These are beings of unimaginable evil that test the limits of the protagonists' will to survive, and some of these villains have gone on to become almost as famous (or infamous) as the writer himself. While many Stephen King villains are monsters of the human variety (serial killers, power hungry despots, nihilists, etc.) his most memorable are the supernatural ones who use their dark powers to twist the orderly world around them into a special place of chaos and pain.
Here are just a few of King’s best supernatural madmen and monsters.
10. Gage Creed and the Pet Sematary
Pet Sematary (1983)
“Don’t go beyond, no matter how much you feel you need to, Doctor. The barrier was not made to be broken. Remember this: there is more power here than you know. It is old and always restless. Remember.”
When Louis, Rachel, Eileen, and Gage Creed moved to Ludlow, Maine from Chicago, their cat Winston Churchill in tow, they wanted a peaceful new life in the more rural locale. What they got was a descent into death and madness almost unmatched in modern horror fiction. In the novel, the Creed cat is killed. Louis fears telling his daughter and buries the beloved pet at a nearby “Pet Sematary,” an old Micmac Indian burial ground. The cat returns home, much to Louis’ shock and delight, but it’s not the same friendly animal. It’s a listless, mean, half-alive creature that does not have a fondness for life.
When Gage is killed by a truck, overcome with despair, Louis buries his son in the Sematary. What comes back is a true horror of epic proportions. Gage is such a disturbing villain because he once existed as an object of the purest affection. The once totally innocent soul is now corrupt and ridden with supernatural darkness. The Pet Sematary itself is rumored to once have been a burial place for cannibals, and the spirit of a Wendigo dwells in the soil.
Now, Gage is back with the most ancient of curses coursing where blood once flowed. Every father’s nightmare turned even darker. King felt the book was too dark even for him and shelved it until his wife, Tabitha, and his friend, the author Peter Straub, encouraged him to share his bleak vision of paternal loyalty with the world.
9. The Leatherheads
Under the Dome (2009)
“God turned out to be a bunch of bad little kids playing interstellar Xbox. Isn't that funny?”
Much more frightening than typical villains, the Leatherheads are an alien race responsible for the construction of the Dome that covers Chester’s Mill. They are in the same vein as H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmic horrors, beings much older and more powerful than humanity. The mere sight of them could drive a man mad. They are beings with the power of gods but no connection to or feelings for humanity. Just cold observers that exist on a different layer of reality.
The Leatherheads construct the Dome the same way a child makes an ant farm, out of a morbid curiosity to watch how lesser creatures exist. Their casual disregard for humanity makes them truly terrifying, because unlike some of King’s other antagonists, there is really no way to fight them.
The Leatherheads are mentioned in King’s chilling short story N., but it is in Under the Dome where readers get to experience the sheer paralytic terror that would occur if an alien species of ancient intelligence turned their attention towards our little backwater planet.
8. The Overlook Hotel
The Shining (1977)
“This inhuman place makes human monsters.”
If there is one thing King’s constant readers have learned after decades of nightmares is that places can be as evil as people, an idea that is personified in the Overlook Hotel, the setting of The Shining. On the surface, The Shining is a classic haunted house tale, but beneath the surface, it is so much more. It is a deep look into the fragility of fatherhood, the bond of trust between father and son. As Danny Torrance, the psychic child who journeys to a secluded Colorado hotel with his caretaker father and loving mother discovers when the father he trusted is transformed in a raging madman by the power within the Overlook.
The novel’s most riveting sections feature past accounts of other times that the Overlook weaved its dark magic, transforming good men into monsters. The walls of the Overlook can barely contain the rage within the heart of the hotel, and as The Shining plays out, readers discover just how corrupt the place is. Make no mistake, it may not have arms to swing an ax, or legs to chase down its victims, but the Overlook is a hungry sort of evil that demands to be fed. Just try staying at a Motel 6 after reading King’s classic. I dare you.
7. The Raggedy Man
“What Darwin was too polite to say, my friends, is that we came to rule the earth not because we were the smartest, or even the meanest, but because we have always been the craziest, most murderous motherfuckers in the jungle.”
Fans of the Walking Dead need to recognize. King does zombies too, and they are sphincter-tighteningly scary. In Cell, a pulse travels into cell phones all over the world. Anyone on their phone at the fateful moment is turned into a zombie. These villains are a different breed than the popular Romero clones, as the pulse also unlocks latent powers of the human mind like telepathy and levitation.
The Raggedy Man is the leader of the zombies. He thinks, organizes, and commands. He has all the nihilistic hunger of a zombie, but he has planning skills and foresight which make him a truly frightening antagonist. His goal is to spread his people around the globe and take the planet for his horde. He sees humanity as a threat to his people and seeks to destroy them to protect his new race, which could make him literature’s first sympathetic zombie villain. He is often seen wearing a crimson Harvard hoodie giving the creature an atypical zombie air of intelligence and capability.
The name of Harvard’s sports teams by the way? The Harvard Crimson. Well played Mr. King, well played.
RELATED ARTICLE: The Importance of Stephen King's Cell Movie
6. Kurt Barlow
‘Salems Lot (1975)
“That above all else. They did not look out their windows. No matter what noises or dreadful possibilities, no matter how awful the unknown, there was an even worse thing: to look the Gorgon in the face.”
King’s only foray into vampires (the classic ones, anyway), Barlow was the writer’s way of getting the whole mythos right the first time. ‘Salems Lot was King’s second published novel and his first of many novels centering on the idea of a preternatural creature releasing the beast inside of regular people. It was also his first small town novel, a setting King would return to many times over the decades.
Barlow’s story mirrors that of Dracula, from the shipment of his coffin and native soil from overseas to his arrival and reign of terror in a contemporary setting. He even has his own personal Renfield, Richard Straker, his own gothic mansion, his own legion of dark minions, and a twisted grip on the residents of ‘Salems Lot.
Barlow was more of a catalyst, using embraced residents as pawns to tighten his grip on the town, but his very presence on the page was accompanied with a sense of urgency and dread.
In a 1995 BBC radio drama of ‘Salems Lot (that is well worth seeking out), Barlow is played by Pinhead himself, Doug Bradley, which automatically gives the vampire tons of villain cred.
5. George Stark
The Dark Half (1989)
“Cut him. Cut him while I stand here and watch. I want to see the blood flow. Don't make me tell you twice.”
Stephen King once wrote under the pseudonym Richard Bachman and published some of his more experimental works like The Running Man, The Long Walk, and Thinner. His experience as somewhat existing as another person inspired King to write the Dark Half, and inspired the creation of one of his most cold blooded killers, George Stark.
In the novel, Thad Beaumont was a successful author who wrote violent crime novels under the pen name of George Stark. After revealing to the world he was actually Stark, Thad and his wife stage a mock funeral for the author to symbolically cut ties with the violent crime fiction Beaumont wanted to leave behind. This is where King brings the terror.
The novel started with a flashback that dealt with the removal of an eye from the brain of a young Thad. It was the eye of a twin that was conjoined in the womb to the writer, an incident Thad had all but forgotten about. It was actually the eye of George Stark, who later rises from the mock grave the Beaumonts planted him in to go on a killing spree that leaves even the most seasoned reader with PTSD.
Stark is the embodiment of the darkness in the hearts of all men. The most frightening part of the book is that even though Beaumont is desperate to rid the world of Stark, part of him is attracted to the freedom evil gives Stark, and the realization that the evil is a part of him.
RELATED ARTICLE: Stephen King's 10 Greatest Human Villains
4. Blaine the Mono
The Dark Tower III: The Wastelands (1991)
“Choo-Choo, thought Jake, and shuddered.”
You will never look at Thomas the Tank Engine the same way again. Blaine is a sentient train in the Dark Tower series, a machine driven insane by underuse. Blaine once housed a powerful computer mind, but the network has since broken down, making the train deranged, cruel, and suicidal.
Roland and his ka-tet need the train to travel out of the Wasteland so Roland can finish his quest for the Dark Tower. They board Blaine. They are horrified when they find Blaine has gone completely insane. The train forces them into a game of riddles. The situation gets worse, as the ka-tet realizes Blaine will kill himself by derailing at great speed with them aboard.
A crazy, sentient, thundering locomotive with a face is scary enough, but couple that with the fact that the train suffers from crippling mental health issues, and you have one of the most unique monsters in literature. There is a second voice inside Blaine, Little Blaine, who begs the ka-tet to help him, adding even another layer to the tragic nightmare that is Blaine.
So essentially, Blaine is Gollum if Gollum was a runaway train: a riddle loving, murderous, schizophrenic machine who has been ruined by pain and emptiness.
3. The Crimson King aka Los'Ram Abbalah, The Kingfish, The Red King, Lord of Discordia, Lord of Spiders, Satan
Black House (2001)
The Dark Tower series
“I am the Eater of Worlds.”
The Crimson King is often mistaken for It, and it is not completely clear if they are the same monster, but the regality and level of reverence the King’s minions hold for him seem to suggest that he is different than the sewer-dwelling eater of children.
The Crimson King is the embodiment of evil in King’s shared fictional universe. He is first introduced in Insomnia, where he tries to kill a child prophesied to topple the rule of the King forever.
The King is later revealed as the monster behind the events of the novel Black House, and he is the overarching villain of the Dark Tower series, the monster responsible for trying to bring down the structure of reality.
Stephen King suggests that all his villains, supernatural or otherwise, are pawns of the Crimson King. The name itself carries some great metatextual flavor as, of course, Stephen King himself is the one truly responsible for the evil in his worlds. The half of the writer that creates and is responsible for these horrific monsters is also named King. Stephen King is the writer, father, husband, and Red Sox fan. The Crimson King is the dark overlord of the fictional universe and the monster maker.
2. It aka Pennywise the Dancing Clown, Robert Gray, Bob Grapes
The clown seized his arm.
And George saw the clown’s face change.
Every twenty-seven years It rises to devour the children of Derry. It awoke when a homosexual couple was beaten by a gang of thugs in 1984 to again reign terror on the children of Derry. It was put to rest by the Losers Club, a group of misfit teens, in 1958 only to rise again, decades later. It killed the leader of the Losers’ (Bill Denbrough) little brother in one of the most hair-raising prologues in horror history.
It is another of King’s manipulator villains, as It controls the darker residents of Derry, such as bully Henry Bowers to do Its bidding. It is a cannibalistic clown that lives in the sewers, a leprous mummy, a giant spider, or a series of orange lights called the Dead Lights that drive people mad when gazed upon.
Unlike the similar creature, the Crimson King, It does not commit evil for glory or power. It devours because It hungers. The lives of innocents exist only to fill the void of It's being. And let’s face it, nothing, NOTHING is freakin’ scarier than a hungry clown in a sewer.
1. Randall Flagg
aka The Ageless Stranger, The Walkin' Dude, The Dark Man, The Hardcase, The Man in Black, The Tall Man, The Midnight Rambler, The Antagonist, The Grinning Man, Old Creeping Judas, He Who Walks Behind The Rows, The Covenant Man, Richard Fry, Robert Franq, Ramsey Forrest, Robert Freemont, Richard Freemantle, Russell Faraday, The Monster, The Man with No Face, Richard Fannin, Raymond Fiegler, Walter o'Dim, Marten Broadcloak, Walter Padick, Walter Hodji, and Bill Hitch
The Stand (1978)
Eyes of the Dragon (1986)
Hearts in Atlantis (1999)
The Dark Tower series
“My life for you.”
Not so much a single villain, but the archetype of all villains, Randall Flagg is King’s greatest singular creation of evil. Flagg first appeared in The Stand, the Dark Man who gathers the worst of humanity to rebuild a new civilization in his own dark image. The Walkin’ Dude had a propensity for crucifying any whose beliefs ran contrary to his.
Flagg is the greatest of King’s manipulators, able to inspire loyalty in those with dark hearts, as seen by the Trashcan Man in The Stand and even Mother Carmody in The Mist. All they have to do is say “My life for you,” and mean it, and Flagg will be there to inspire their dark deeds.
He was revealed to be the antagonists to Roland in the Dark Tower series, and is the ever present evil in all men. Flagg is walking the back roads of reality just waiting for a chance to whisper in humanity’s ear and stir up some good, old fashioned chaos.
Could the alien character from the book end up as a deleted scene on the A Wrinkle in Time DVD? We'll keep our fingers crossed.
It's the nature of adaptation that the work will and must change when it goes from one form to another. So, of course, this is the case for A Wrinkle in Time, Disney's big-budget adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's beloved science fiction novel.
Den of Geek was part of the A Wrinkle in Time press junket in Los Angeles where we had the chance to talk to screenwriter Jennifer Lee about adapting the story from page to screen. When asked to choose one element that was the hardest to cut from the movie, Lee had an easy answer: Aunt Beast.
For those who haven't read the book, Aunt Beast is an alien Meg meets after she, her father, and Calvin tesser off of Camazotz and away from The IT. While there, Meg befriends a very strange alien named Aunt Beast who lives on a planet called Ixchel. Aunt Beast, who has no eyes or head can only communicate with Meg via telepathy, but she helps Meg prepare for the battle to come.
Here is a description of the Aunt Beast aliens who live on from the book:
They were the same dull gray color as the flowers. If they hadn't walked upright they would have seemed like animals. They moved directly toward the three human beings. They had four arms and far more than five fingers to each hand, and the fingers were not fingers, but long waving tentacles. They had heads, and they had faces. But where the faces of the creatures on Uriel had seemed far more than human faces, these seemed far less. Where the features would normally be there were several indentations, and in place of ears and hair were more tentacles. They were tall, Meg realized as they came closer, far taller than any man. They had no eyes. Just soft indentations.
So what happened to Aunt Beast? She was initially in the movie, said Lee, but was cut because it was what the story needed.
"The discoveries you make when you put [the movie] together and you go, this is where the challenge needs to grow, and [Ixchel] pulls you away from it," explained Lee.
So part of it was, the structure of the book is so sound, but then every now and then the crack shows that cinema, unless we did the three-hour version, can't hold it. Really it was a challenge to say, this is not the time she gets to have some release. She has to face this herself before anyone is given her help. And that's really true. It made her rise to the end much stronger.
We do get a brief glimpse of Ixchel during the vision Meg has while visiting The Happy Medium and, apparently, there's more where that came from. "[Aunt Beast was] shot, she's made, there's beautiful scenes," said Lee. "Maybe it'll end up in the DVD."
We're keeping our fingers crossed!
Let's break down some of the major changes Ava DuVernay made in adapting Madeleine L'Engle's book to the big screen...
Since its publication back in 1962, Madeleine L'Engle's science fiction classic A Wrinkle in Time has been considered an unfilmable story. Well, more than 50 years later, Ava DuVernay has proven skeptics wrong, but that doesn't mean she didn't make some pretty big moves in adaptating the the book to the screen. Here are some of the biggest changes...
The missing Murrys.
If you've never read the book, then you probably don't know that the Murry family lost two family members in the jump from the page to the screen. In the A Wrinkle in Time book, Meg and Charles Wallace have twin, 10-year-old brothers named Sandy and Dennys. They are the affable, likeable sort who, much to Meg's chagrin, don't have the same kinds of problems fitting in that she does.
While Sandy and Dennys don't feature much in A Wrinkle in Time, they become very important later in the Time Quintet series as protagonists in Many Waters. We talked to A Wrinkle in Time screenwriter Jennifer Lee about what happened to the Murry twins. Here's what she told us.
Charles Wallace's adoption.
We shouldn't be too worried about Sandy and Dennys missing from the A Wrinkle in Time movie. After all, as Jennifer Lee pointed out to HelloGiggles, this is the kind of family that adopts kids and seems to have extra love to give. This is what happened to Charles Wallace who is adopted in the film versus being the biological child of the Murrys in the book. We talked to Lee about when and why that change happened. We think it's one of the best changes from the book to the film!
One of the saddest changes from the book to the film is the erasure of Aunt Beast and the planet of Ixchel, where Meg travels after Camazotz before returning to the planet to save her brother. While on Ixchel, Meg meets an eye-less alien named Aunt Beast who she communicates with telepathically. It's a weird, moving part of the book and, while we understand why it was cut from the film, it's still sad to see it go. However, there may be a chance that it will make it into a deleted scene, so that's something!
The Murrys are a multi-racial family living in California.
One of the coolest changes from the book to the movie came in changes to the Murry family. In the book, the Murrys are a white family living in Connecticut. In the movie, they are a multi-racial family living in California. While it's gloriously subtle in the movie, the different backgrounds and identities give some insight into the diversity within this one, on-screen family: Chris Pine is a white dude from California, Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a biracial English actress, Storm Reid is bi-racial, and Deric McCabe is Filipino-American. This makes for a more diverse on-screen family than is usually seen on-screen, let alone in big-budget cinema adapted from a very white-centric book.
The Happy Medium's genderswap.
A Wrinkle in Time did some pretty cool things to mix up its representation when it came to casting the books most iconic roles, but less attention has been given to the gender-swapping of the Happy Medium character. In the book, the hippy soothsayer the Mrs. bring Meg & co. to identifies as a woman. In the movie, the Happy Medium is played by Zach Galifianakis. Galifianakis spoke about the importance of his role as a different kind of male character during the A Wrinkle in Time press conference, urging boys as well as girls to see the film.
Dr. Alex Murry's absence.
In the book, Dr. Alex Murry is gone for a little more than a year before Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin go looking for him. In the movie, he is gone for four years. To be honest, this was one of the changes that was the hardest to swallow in the movie adaptation. It makes the reunion that much more bittersweet and means that Dr. Murry and Charles Wallace never really had a chance to get to know each other before the former went missing.
Mrs. Who's quotes.
In both the book and the movie, Mrs. Who uses famous quotations from other people to communicate. As the book was written more than 50 years ago, the movie made the smart decision to update the quotations used for modern audiences. In the book, Mrs. Who mostly sticks to Eurocentric writers and philosophers. In the movie, she quotes writers and philosophers like Shakespeare and Rumi, but also OutKast, Chris Tucker, and Hamilton. Additionally, in the book, Mrs. Who also initially speaks the quotations in whatever their speaker's native language is. In the movie, she simply states where they hail from, which probably make Mindy Kaling's job a heck of a lot easier.
Rowan Blanchard's character.
In the movie, Rowan Blanchard plays a character named Veronica who bullies Meg at school. This character doesn't exist in the book at all.
What were some of the big changes you noticed in the A Wrinkle in Time movie adaptation? Sound off in the comments below...
The baby arrives, and her Aunties are pretty nuts in this exclusive preview of Mister Miracle #7.
Mister Miracle is incredible.
I feel like I don't say it enough, even though I've said it a billion times. Or once, really loudly, after praising the same creative team for a different book and generally fawning over the writer's work. But I'm serious here: this book is staggeringly good.
Over the course of the first six issues, we stay laser focused on Scott Free, the titular escape artist, as he and his wife, Big Barda, pursue a war against Apokalips on behalf of New Genesis and their leader, Highfather, the newly ascended Orion. The beauty of the book, besides Mitch Gerads' next-level art, is the way domesticity is hammered into the absurd superhero action: one issue has Barda and Scott trying to figure out how to use a weird New Genesis shower after killing thousands of Parademons, while another has the New Gods trying to divine Darkseid's influence on their situation over a veggie platter from Costco.
The most recent issue was a 20-page long conversation about Barda's hopes for their condo remodel as the two fought their way into Highfather's chambers to rebel against the death sentence he placed on Scott. A conversation, I might add, that is IMMEDIATELY recognizable to anyone who has lived with a romantic partner for any extended period of time. This conversation ended with the surprise revalation that Barda was pregnant.
If the advance preview of issue 7 that DC sent along is anything to go by, Tom King and Gerads are flipping the premise around for the second half of the series. Instead of hammering domesticity into absurd superhero action, it looks like they'll be hammering in superhero absurdity into Barda and Scott's domestic life.
The Female Furies Boom Tube into the hospital as Barda goes into labor.
Here's what DC has to say about the issue.
MISTER MIRACLE #7 Written by TOM KING • Art by MITCH GERADS • Cover by NICK DERINGTON • Variant cover by MITCH GERADSMister Miracle and Big Barda are in a panic. The war with Apokolips isn’t going well. And it’s Barda’s turn to have her past come crashing back into her present as the Female Furies appear on the scene with blood on their minds.
Just go look. It's so good.
Frank Castle may be this slick, overly-competent killer of bad guys, but even he gets embarrassed from time to time.
Even though The Punisher is now the star of his own Netflix series, let's not forget that Frank Castle has been building bodycounts for over forty years. He’s starred in many fantastic storylines and has become one of the more iconic heroes in Marvel history.
He’s had several movies, a handful of video games (including one of the best arcade brawlers ever), cartoon appearances, and more. He’s taken up the mantle of Captain America, turned black one time, became an angel, became a Frankenstein, befriended Archie Andrews, and even killed Gwar.
Okay, they were called “Warg,” but same thing.
The thing every Punisher writer – especially Garth Ennis – always has to push is how unflappable and badass Frank is. He’s the coolest guy ever and punks out everyone in his way. When he does lose, he at least goes down with his dignity, whether it’s via losing a knock-down-drag-out fight with Daredevil or simply refusing to fight back against Captain America. His pride has almost as much plot armor as he does.
Still, there are some times where Frank Castle gets clowned and looks like a fool. Moments that he’d choose not to remember. Here are 15 of those moments...
TAKING BAD ADVICE
Amazing Spider-Man #129 (1974)
Gerry Conway and Ross Andru
Frank’s first appearance is a wonderful debut. He’s tricked into going after Spider-Man, thinking him to be a criminal. They fight a couple times, things get relatively smoothed out, and they go their separate ways with Frank focusing on THE WAR.
It’s just...man. Nobody’s perfect and we’re all susceptible to misinformation, but look at that guy. Look at the Jackal. Imagine that guy trying to convince you that Spider-Man is a bad guy who needs to be murdered. Imagine taking his word at face value without questioning how you’re getting your intel from St. Patrick’s Day Gollum.
You dropped the ball, Frank.
SUDDEN HULK FIGHT
Incredible Hulk #395 (1992)
Peter David and Dale Keown
In at least two alternate realities, Frank’s been able to actually kill the Hulk. One time he snuck up on him while he was asleep in Banner form and the other time he shot him through the eye with an arrow tipped with one of Wolverine’s claws. In terms of main continuity, Frank’s first meeting with the gamma giant didn’t go so well.
Hulk, in his Banner-minded phase, returned to his old alter-ego of Mr. Fixit, the Las Vegas bodyguard. The Punisher was in town, after the same threat, but heard rumors of the legendary Mr. Fixit and figured he was probably worth shooting down. Frank isn’t about wasted motion.
When they finally clashed, Frank opened fire and was a bit surprised that Fixit’s “body armor” could withstand his bullets. He kept upping the ante on his weaponry until flinging a grenade at him. One of Hulk’s buddies knocked it back and it certainly would have blown Frank to kingdom come had the Hulk not snatched it out of the air and stared him down.
Too bad we can’t see things from Hulk’s point of view. I’m sure Frank’s expression was priceless.
Anyway, Hulk then proceeded to knock him out with a flick of a finger.
STAY OUT OF GOTHAM
Punisher/Batman: Deadly Knights (1994)
Chuck Dixon and John Romita Jr.
The Punisher has crossed paths with Batman a handful of times during Marvel/DC crossovers. In the '90s, they had two team-up stories. One was actually about Frank working with the Jean-Paul Valley version of Batman and later coming to blows with him. Frank got the best of EXXXTREME Batman and found himself admitting – almost as if realizing it was an editorial mandate – that he did it via cheating.
The follow-up story had Bruce Wayne back as Batman as the two of them went up against the alliance of the Joker and Jigsaw. While Batman took down Jigsaw, Frank cornered Joker with intent to put a bullet in his brain. Batman stopped him and let the Joker run off into the distance. He was letting the worst criminal free, but he wasn't letting him die.
Frank, understandably, dropped his gun and punched Batman in the face.
Batman responded by claiming that, “I let you have that one because you probably think I deserved it.” As childish as that sounded, Batman backed up the claim by easily catching the next punch, throwing the Punisher into a pile of boxes, and telling him to get out of his city or else he’d be going to Arkham.
Frank sulked off, claiming that Batman and the Joker deserve each other.
Wolverine #186 (2003)
Frank Tieri and Terry Dodson
Ugh. Just because I’m writing this list doesn’t mean that I think every entry is actually good or well done. For instance, this one.
Garth Ennis, who is a fantastic writer much of the time, has a tendency to write stories about how a military-trained antihero badass is able to humiliate and outright destroy any and all tights-wearing superhero pretty boys. It happened a LOT with the Punisher and Wolverine tended to be a regular target. This included a team-up in Punisher’s book that ended with a fight where Punisher shot Wolverine in the balls, blew his face clean off with a shotgun, ran him over with a steamroller, and then left him there. Ennis just savaged him there.
But turnabout’s fair play and at the time, Frank Tieri was writing Wolverine’s comic. He decided to respond to Ennis by having Wolverine get his win back. Now, bringing in Tieri to counter Ennis is like bringing William Hung to a rap battle and it already started off a bit petty with the bullshit claim in the recap that Wolverine tends to beat up the Punisher more often than not. Uh huh.
The entire issue was dedicated to a fight between Castle and Logan in an empty mall and it’s actually a fun and great-looking battle. The two humorously beat the crap out of each other and tossed insults until Wolverine won out by tossing Frank through a window.
Then, with Frank motionless on the cracked sidewalk, Wolverine proceeded to discover – much to Frank’s sudden embarrassment – that some magazines of dudes in speedos had fallen out of the Punisher’s bag. Despite Frank’s desperate claim that they were just suspects (a reference to Murder by Death) Wolverine made fun of him and left him to be taken in by the authorities.
Seriously, Tieri’s best comeback to the excessive steamroller beatdown was, “Yeah, but...but the Punisher’s totally gay! So there!”
JLA/Avengers #1 (2003)
Kurt Busiek and George Perez
JLA/Avengers was the final Marvel/DC crossover before the two companies turned their backs on each other for good. The comic treated it as the first meeting between worlds, so when the Justice League looked through the Marvel universe, it was a bit eye-opening for them. Green Lantern and Aquaman saw the horrors of Dr. Doom’s rule in Latveria. Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman saw the ruins of Genosha. Superman saw the aftermath of a Hulk rampage.
In each instance, Batman told them to stay the course and NOT interfere.
Then he and Plastic Man saw the Punisher gun down drug dealers in New York City. Batman decided to go against his own advice. According to Plastic Man on the next page, Batman spent twenty minutes beating the crap out of the Punisher, just to save the lives of those criminals.
I'LL BE DAMNED. VAMPIRES.
Marvel Team-Up #8 (2005)
Robert Kirkman and Jeff Johnson
The first meeting between the Punisher and Blade was sort of adorable in terms of how in-over-his-head Frank was. The two watched a mob deal go down below. Blade, an admirer of the Punisher, tried to explain that one of the parties was made of vampires. Blade explained that he too is a half-breed vampire and is essentially to vampires what the Punisher is to criminals. While Blade was pretty jazzed to be on a rooftop with Frank, Frank was a bit too close-minded.
Vampires? Don’t be ridiculous. Blade was probably just a violent nutjob, no better than the mobsters below. Frank even shot him in the back to very little effect. Blade shrugged it off and Frank figured it was merely Kevlar. Blade spent minutes trying to explain who he was to Frank’s unbelieving ears.
Then the vampires started feasting on the human mobsters. Blade’s targets took out Frank’s targets. All the while, Frank just glared wide-eyed and shocked at the carnage. He finally broke the silence to ask Blade if he wanted help. Blade simply smiled and jumped off the rooftop.
“No. I got this.”
BLEEDING HEART PUNISHER
Mark Millar and Jim Mahfood
There have been a handful of joke What If stories done based on turning the Punisher concept on its head. One time he was a stern figure who made the Blob go to sleep without dinner while Dr. Doom had to sit in the corner and think about what he did. One time his family survived instead and became a family of gun-toting sociopaths.
In Wha...Huh? Mark Millar got to do a two-page story where Frank ranted in his narration about the rich owning the poor, sweat shops, and how hurtful such labels as “criminals” are to people who live without privilege. All while watching an old lady get stomped on by two armed gang members. Frank tried to see eye-to-eye with them, but then suffered from a literal bleeding heart as they opened fire on him.
Frank died, feeling bad that these poor youths would have murder on their souls for the rest of their lives.
Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness #2 (2007)
John Layman and Fabiano Neves
Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness had Ash Williams tossed into the ill-fated Marvel side-universe while shit went down. Zombie Sentry infected the Avengers and the Zombie Avengers went on to devour anyone in sight while spreading the virus. Amongst the early madness, Ash came across the Punisher, who seemed kind of dismissive about the whole apocalypse going on.
Proving himself a bit too close-minded from his lack of humanity, Frank proceeded to gun down a collection of mafia-based villains even after Kingpin explained that they needed to work together to survive the zombie outbreak. He even chose to ignore the plight of Thunderball, who despite being a villain, was shown to be a buddy of Ash’s.
With a wave of zombified heroes and villains coming at him, Frank told Ash to stand to the side and toss him a loaded gun when commanded. Ash figured he had enough of Captain Kill-Happy and ran off to do his own thing.
Frank didn’t notice this until running out of ammo. He was swarmed and infected immediately.
SHE’S A LITTLE RUNAWAY
Runaways #26 (2007)
Joss Whedon and Michael Ryan
Joss Whedon openly hates the Punisher and here we get to see that play out in a comic.
The Runaways went to New York to meet with the Kingpin under the guise of a criminal syndicate. The underaged team was cornered by the Punisher, who had no qualms with shooting teenagers, admitting it wouldn’t be the first time. As he argued with Chase and pointed a gun at him, Molly – a mutant tween with super strength – surprised Frank with a punch to the gut.
While Frank underestimated the Runaways, Molly overestimated Frank and figured he had powers himself. Instead, he stood there, paralyzed in pain with only his military willpower keeping him standing as he declared to himself that a soldier doesn’t fall. All the while, Molly pleaded for the others to forgive her, though they each had their own opinion on whether or not to be proud of her actions.
Several issues later, as the arc finished up, Frank was shown to STILL be struggling to remain on his feet.
Eminem/The Punisher (2009)
Fred Van Lente and Salvador Larocca
For some reason I may never understand, there was a Punisher/Eminem team-up comic that involved them taking on Barracuda. On his way to take down Barracuda (who Eminem grew up with), Frank shot up Eminem’s entire entourage. Soon after, Eminem beat Frank down with a pistol and unloaded it into Frank’s chest.
Turned out Barracuda was hired by the Parents Music Council to assassinate Eminem. Through a little indirect teamwork, Frank and Eminem were able to defeat Barracuda and seemingly kill him with a chainsaw. Then Frank abandoned Eminem on top of a sheet of ice over a frozen lake and offered to go kill the Parents Music Council for hiring Barracuda.
Yeah, you may have stood tall at the end, but you still got punked out by the Real Slim Shady. That’s on your permanent record, man.
Punisher Annual #1 (2009)
Rick Remender and Jason Pearson
Early on in Rick Remender’s Punisherrun, the Hood resurrected a bunch of dead supervillains and gave them an ultimatum: either they killed the Punisher within 30 days or his magic would wear off and they would go back to being dead. Two of those villains included Letha and Lascivious, a pair of female wrestlers/villains who were killed by Scourge back in the day. Letha was granted the power to make people aggressive and Lascivious could make people fall in love.
Their powers failed to work on Frank due to his emotional emptiness. Luckily, when Spider-Man entered the fray, Letha was able to set him off and make him want to murder Frank. Punisher vs. Spider-Man wasn’t a new concept, nor was mind-controlled hero vs. hero. In the end, it didn’t work out and it returned to the old trope of Spider-Man going, “I’m not going to let you kill them!” while Frank rolled his eyes.
That’s when Lascivious figured to make Spider-Man fall in love with Frank and never let him go. While Frank was very, very uncomfortable with what was going on, the two wrestler ladies escaped and remained as free as their ass cheeks.
While Frank certainly had a bad time, he got it better than Spider-Man. Without getting into it, Spider-Man may have had sex with a Doc Ock tentacle in broad daylight.
Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe #4 (2012)
Cullen Bunn and Dalibor Talajic
There was a miniseries called Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe which...that’s actually pretty self-explanatory. An alternate universe version of Deadpool became aware of his fictional status, went violently insane, and decided to take out every hero and villain over four issues. It wasn’t very good.
Deadpool killing the Punisher was the cover image for the final issue and it made sense. Frank already starred in Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe back in the '90s. It was like a passing of the torch.
As the fourth issue began, various villains were shown mindlessly committing a mass suicide. Punisher took advantage of the madness by sniping Deadpool through a window and rushing to the scene before he could regenerate. Instead, Frank found the dead body of the Puppet Master dressed up like Deadpool.
Deadpool appeared behind Frank with one of the Puppet Master’s voodoo dolls with a tiny skull insignia on the chest. Helpless to stop himself, Frank was compelled to put his own pistol to his head and pull the trigger.
Afterwards, Deadpool bragged about being better at “killing the Marvel Universe” by using a Puppet Master doll of Galactus to cause some damage on a cosmic scale.
AND MORE DEADPOOL
Uncanny X-Force #29 (2012)
Rick Remender and Julian Totino Tedesco
Uncanny X-Force was about a team that would go around killing threats to mutantkind before they could act first. Deadpool was somehow the conscience of the group. In one adventure, they ended up decades into the future, where the world was run by X-Force in a Minority Reportsense. If anyone was even thinking about committing a violent crime, X-Force would hunt them down.
One member of the future team was an elderly Frank Castle. At one point he warned Deadpool (present version) about an incident that would start a huge war. Rather than come up with any other kind of way out of it, Frank told him to kill Daken, kill the kid version of Apocalypse, and kill the never-before-mentioned son of Archangel. Deadpool groaned at this advice and proceeded to make fun of all this kid-killing.
Then it got personal.
“Look, for what it’s worth, I always hated you. You are a boring, two-dimensional, self-serious relic from the ‘70s. Oh, and Chuck Bronson called – he wants everything he ever did back.”
Frank angrily pulled a gun on him and Deadpool was able to stop him by pointing out the kind of havoc that would cause through history.
Thunderbolts #22 (2014)
Charles Soule and Carlo Barberi
I easily could’ve made this list into just “dumb Punisher stories” because “Punisher was in a dumb story” means he theoretically should be embarrassed. But it doesn’t really work like that because usually characters don’t admit that they’re in a bad story and if they do, it’s after the fact. It’s not like in Grounded, Superman was all, “Man, this is the stupidest shit ever. I miss fighting Zod.”
Even though the brief status quo in the '90s where Frank Castle was reborn as an angel who went around shooting demons was indeed silly, at the time, Frank acted completely on-board with it because the guy writing it at the time thought it was super cool. Granted, once it was passed on to the next writer, Garth Ennis quickly buried the entire concept while going back to “mortal who shoots mortal criminals” storyline.
Years later, Frank joined the Thunderbolts. In one story, Frank fought the unstoppable goddess Mercy and got beaten by her so badly that his body was mangled beyond medical hope. The rest of the team returned from an adventure in Hell (which involved screwing over Mephisto in a legal agreement) and realized that there was nothing they could do to help him.
Said Hell adventure involved Deadpool sneaking into Heaven to steal an angel feather to go with his new pimp hat. Don’t ask. The feather reached out and healed Frank completely.
None could understand it. Deadpool pointed out that it was like the angel feather recognized Frank and wanted to be with him. Almost like there was some kind of history between Frank and angels.
Frank simply grumbled, “I don’t want to talk about it.”
DON’T MOCK THE SHOCKER
Superior Foes of Spider-Man #17 (2014)
Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber
Superior Foes built up the Shocker as a big loser in the villain community and...well, he pretty much is. His name is Shocker. You can’t live that down no matter how cool your costume looks.
In the final issue of the series, the various mob factions in New York were converging for a big battle for supremacy. Like a moth to light, the Punisher made his way there (and may have stopped for a cronut after hearing good things from his Uber driver) to wipe out the whole lot of them.
Instead, the Shocker arrived, in a Shocker version of the Spider-Mobile, while yelling, “DON’T MOCK THE SHOCKER!” If you’re wondering, that was a direct reference to the bizarre, kid-friendly Spidey Super Stories comic from the '70s.
Shocker then used his gauntlets to blast the Punisher off into the distance before bringing unity to the NYC underworld.
There isn’t a single part of that scenario that didn’t hurt Frank.
Like everyone, Frank Castle isn’t perfect. No matter how badass and serious he’s supposed to be, he can’t be the best of the best in every single situation. Even the ultimate soldier has to stumble now and then. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes you get disrespected. But you keep on with your mission and hold your head high because at the end of the day, you still have dignity to your name.
Yes. Exactly. This guy knows what's up.
Gavin Jasper has his fingers crossed for Franken-Castle in Daredevil season 3. Follow him on Twitter!
If you're looking for romance-driven urban fantasy, Patricia Briggs' Alpha & Omega series is a great choice.
We are living in a golden age of genre storytelling in which the lines between previously-rigid genres are becoming increasingly blurred. This is definitely true in the publishing industry where, following the success of the Twilight series, publishers have been more willing than ever to take a chance on paranormal romance and urban fantasy—and not just for teen girls.
Patricia Briggs'Alpha and Omega books are one such series. The adult werewolf romance novels began with a novella set in the world of Briggs'other bestselling urban fantasy series, The Mercy Thompson Series. Called Alpha and Omega, the series follows Anna Latham, a woman who only finds out about the existence of werewolves when she is attacked by them and becomes one. After spending three years being abused by the dominant males of the group, she goes above her Alpha's head to ask for help when a local young man goes missing.
Enter Charles Cornick. As the 200-year-old son of the leader of the North American werewolves, Charles serves as chief enforcer under his father's rule. When Charles is sent to Chicago to solve a problem, he meets Anna, and recognizes her not only as his mate, but as a rare kind of werewolf: an omega. Omega werewolves have the helpful ability to calm dominant werewolves. In the world Briggs has created, this is basically a superpower, and it's especially cool to see a superpower story where the protagonist's chief ability is related not to more traditionally masculine traits like physical strength, but a more traditionally feminine trait like a skill at navigating interpersonal social dynamics. More stories like this, please!
Briggs writes the books in third-person, so we get both Charles and Anna's perspectives—perspectives that are further, fascinatingly divided into the characters' human sides and wolf sides, which are sometimes at odds. It's unique fantasy world-building elements like this that make reading the Alpha and Omega series so fun to read. This series takes place in a fantasy-enhanced version of our world (Anna is a waitress at an Italian restaurant when the series starts), but Briggs chooses to enhance not only the more traditionally supernatural elements, but also the social dynamics of the group. It makes for addicting, character-driven drama that is very much grounded in how woman are socialized to experience and interact with the world. Also, there is some great romance that remains central to the series moving forward.
The fifth book in the series, Burn Bright, just hit shelves (complete with gorgeous cover from The Name of the Wind cover artist Dan Dos Santos), and it continues the romance of Anna and Charles as they work as partners to keep the werewolves of North America safe. Here's the full, official synopsis from Penguin Random House:
They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok’s pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm.
With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf–but can’t stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills–his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker–to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn…
While Burn Bright is very much about Charles and Anna's relationship, it also deepens the richness of this fantasy world in some cool ways. As Charles and Anna set about solving the mystery of why a pair of werewolf wildlings have called them to ask for help, we learn more about the fringes of the North American werewolf population and how they impact Charles and Anna's pack. With Charles' father, the grand-Alpha of North America gone, it falls to Charles and Anna to solve the problem that these werewolves have gotten into, which shifts the dynamics of the pack enough to give us more insight into how they work as a family, business, and general social group. The hard-hearted Leah, in particular, who has rarely if ever before been given the sympathy of the reader, is given more dimension in Burn Bright.
While you definitely don't have to read all of the books in the series to understand what's going on in Burn Bright (Briggs does a good job catching readers up), the plot and relationships of the book are informed by what has come before, so I would recommend it, beginning with the novella Alpha and Omega. If you're looking for a new urban fantasy or supernatural romance world to dive into, there are few more addicting than the Alpha and Omega series.
Fans hoping for Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency Season 3 won’t like the latest news about the quirky cancelled mystery series.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency arrived in 2016 on BBC America as a welcome TV series oddity, going on to amass a vocal fanbase and a second season renewal. However, its existence was hampered by low ratings, which led to its cancellation in December 2017. While a fan-driven campaign to find a new platform for the show left a sliver of hope, it appears that said effort has also reached its conclusion.
One of the main visionaries of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, executive producer Arvind Ethan David, relayed some bad news to the fans who have been pushing #SaveDirkGently, confirming that the effort is essentially over. As David puts it, as frankly as possible, “there just isn’t a big enough audience for the economics to work out.”
Indeed, Dirk Gently was a welcome peak television oddity, which saw writer/executive producer Max Landis dare to put the intrinsically British stories of Douglas Adams’s classic novels through an American lens to concoct a delightfully esoteric TV series synthesis, shifting the story’s setting to the States. The series starred Briton Samuel Barnett as the titular detective and American Elijah Wood as reluctant partner Todd Brotzman, with Jade Eshete as the agency’s hard-hitting third, Farah Black.
Unfortunately, the show’s ratings woes were always apparent. Dirk Gently debuted on October 22, 2016 to what would be a series peak of 437,000 viewers; a viewership that plummeted to 277,000 viewers for the finale, leading to a Season 1 average of 287,000 viewers. However, after its (in retrospect miraculous,) Season 2 run concluded this past December, the clearly diminished average of 249,000 viewers had chummed waters for the proverbial cancellation sharks; something exacerbated by the fantastical – exorbitant – dimension-crossing creative direction of Season 2.
Consequently, David, in his letter, explains that fans should avoid the typical indignation directed at “the powers that be” after the cancellation of a beloved show. In an expression of gratitude, he clarifies, “our partners are fans too,” adding, “they supported us with a mixture of blind faith and fantastic enthusiasm and many, many millions of dollars that allowed us to make the weirdest show on television.”
Thus, the cancellation of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency will have to remain a tough pill to swallow for the fanbase who properly recognized it as an impressively unique television offering that threw out the rules of serial television. However, David’s letter also maintains a small level of optimism, expressing hope that this beloved iteration of the property could still see a revival of some kind, teasing:
“We’re not saying never. In years to come, perhaps there will be Dirk Gently: The Movie, or Dirk Gently the Animated Series, or Dirk Gently: The Role Playing Towel Game.”
Truly, the (let’s be clear, hypothetical,) idea of getting the occasional Dirk Gently movie, possibly on Netflix – the platform that carried the series outside the U.S., also once speculated as a prospective home for (the now-nixed) Season 3 – would be a stupendous silver lining to the cancellation of the series.
Here’s the full letter to the fans from Arvind Ethan David (the producers also released a version for the #SaveDirkGently Twitter account):
The adaptation of the Nicholas Searle novel will be directed by Bill Condon.
Talk about a dream team... Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren are teaming up for The Good Liar, an upcoming thriller from New Line Cinema.
According to Deadline, the actors have both signed on to star in the adaptation of the Nicholas Searle novel about a career con artist named Roy Courtnay (McKellen) and well-to-do widow Betty McLeish (Mirren). As you may have guessed, Roy's plan to swindle Betty for all she's worth changes once she opens her life to him. It's a classic the con man who cares storyline, with two of the best actors of their (or any) generation.
Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon will be behind the camera for this one, with Mr. Holmes writer Jeffrey Hatcher penning the screenplay adaptation. McKellen has previously collaborated with Condon on both Gods and Monsters and Mr. Holmes.
Here's the official book synopsis for The Good Liar:
When Roy meets a wealthy widow online, he can hardly believe his luck. Just like Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley, Roy is a man who lives to deceive—and everything about Betty suggests she’s an easy mark. He’s confident that his scheme to swindle her will be a success. After all, he’s done this before.
Sure enough, Betty soon lets Roy move into her beautiful home, seemingly blind to the web of lies he’s woven around her. But who is Roy, really? Spanning almost a century, this stunning and suspenseful feat of storytelling interweaves the present with the past. As the clock turns back and the years fall away, long-hidden secrets are forced into the light. Some things can never be forgotten. Or forgiven.
More news as we hear it.
DC has found the perfect creative team to put Plastic Man back in the spotlight.
Is...is Plastic Man having a moment? I mean, a real, actual, genuine creative resurgence and moment in the sun? It sure would seem that way.
In just the last few months, Plastic Man has returned to the pages of DC Comics on a regular basis for the first time in the Rebirth era (and beyond). Reintroduced with a slightly tweaked origin story in the pages of Dark Knights: Metal, DC's almost incomprehensible but still really awesome event book from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, Plas has already branched out into the pages of a new fan favorite title, The Terrifics, from Jeff Lemire, Ivan Reis, and Joe Prado. The Terrifics is really great, by the way, and you should totally check it out.
Anyway, that's clearly not enough Plastic Man for anyone, so DC is launching a six-issue limited series this summer, and what a creative team they've found. Gail Simone will write the new comic, with Adriana Melo on art. If you've never read Gail Simone's work I...seriously do not know what to say to you, because her work has consistently been some of the best stuff coming out of DC over the last 15 years. Go give Secret Six a shot. Immediately. Adriana Melo is working on the suitably bonkers Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica, so the zaniness of Plastic Man's world should be well-represented.
“One of my favorite takes on Plas was from the classic Grant Morrison/Howard Porter run. We are definitely taking inspiration from that, and just pushing it even further for rudeness’ sake,” says Simone. “Plas is funny, happy and has enough star power to hold his own against the big guns. He’s not afraid of Batman, he’s not afraid of Darkseid, he’s only afraid of messing up, of going back to being the punk thug he used to be.”
“I usually tend to do more realistically stylized work,” says Melo, “but I also love scenes where I can take the opportunity to draw fun visual gags. I think that’s the challenge with this series: keep Eel O’Brian’s nature, maintain Plastic Man’s stretchy jokes, but also deliver that new twist that Gail gives to him.”
“Plas is THE original humor hero jock, and I think that everyone from Lobo to the Mask to Deadpool to Harley Quinn follows a little bit in his footsteps,” explains Simone. “If you read his best stories, he’s always a little bit bawdy, a little bit messed up, and that really is my favorite kind of hero.”
Plastic Man has been kicking around the comics world since 1941. He was created by Jack Cole, and those early Plastic Man comics are inventive, wild, and years ahead of their time. The character has been a frequent minor supporting character in DC Comics, has popped up in animation (where he is uniquely suited) plenty of times. You should really check out Kyle Baker's take on the character, which DC really needs to put back in print.
Check out the cover of the first issue from Aaron Lopresti. This looks great.
Plastic Man #1 is coming on June 13.
Marvel has confirmed Black Panther 2, and we know who we'd like to see T'Challa take on.
Black Panther 2 is on the way. The movie made more money than a black market Vibranium sale and continues to rule the early 2018 box office. The only issue with a Black Panther sequel is, how on Earth will Marvel Studios top Erik Killmonger? I mean, Killmonger had it all, charisma, pathos, and a tragic backstory. This is all just a fancy way of saying that Marvel is going to have to work overtime to deliver a villain worthy of following Killmonger’s badass footsteps.
That’s why we’re here! We took a deep dive into Marvel Comics lore to find a worthy adversary for T’Challa in Black Panther 2. So grab your Vibranium, get Shuri on speed dial, and join us as we open a file on potential evildoers to step up and try to take down the King of Wakanda.
10. King Cadaver
In the wonderful Don McGregor and Billy Graham run on Black Panther in Jungle Action (and believe me, there is no Black Panther movie without these two creators and their unforgettable time with T’Challa), the pair created some of Panther’s most horrific foes. Take the bug-eyed monstrosity known as King Kadaver, a villain that has the power to psychically cause great pain in his enemies, create realistic delusions, and control the minds of others.
Kadaver was one of Killmonger’s most loyal lieutenants. Potentially, as an act of revenge, this ghoul0like villain could come to the now open Wakanda seeking revenge and manipulating the Panther’s inner circle. But really, we want to see this horror fully realized on a movie screen. I mean just look at him- good old fashion nightmare fuel.
9. Princess Zanda
We love ourselves some Jack Kirby and we wouldn’t be able to look ourselves in the mirror if we didn’t include at least one villain from Kirby’s wombat-shit insane Black Panther revival of the late '70s. But if you tweak some of the crazier aspects of this Panther rival, it actually could work.
Princess Zanda is the regent of the fictional nation of Narobia, a trade and technological rival of Wakanda. She is also a member of a group of international artifact thieves known as the Collectors. In Kirby’s legendarily strange series, Zanda and her crew race Black Panther to steal a time traveling device known as King Solomon’s Frog, which was pretty much just a ceramic frog mixed with the TARDIS. It was bugnuts but awesome.
Now, I don’t think we’ll ever see King Solomon’s Frog on the big screen, but the idea of a rival African nation led by a beautiful and immoral queen sounds compelling to us. Zanda could potentially become T’Challa’s personal Cersei Lannister as Wakanda and Narobia become locked in a technological Cold War.
8. American Panther
American Panther was just a young man when his mother’s Swedish born lover murdered his father. The killer never stood trial for the crime which made the American Panther hate all foreign born people. Name unknown, this angry young man donned the American Panther costume to weed out immigrants from US soil. Panthers American and Black fought on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen when T’Challa came to the US to help out Matt Murdock. And yes, if this happened as a crossover between Marvel Studios and Marvel TV, we would explode too.
As it stands, Marvel could take out the Hell’s Kitchen part of American Panther and create a ripped from the headlines villain fueled by xenophobia and prejudice. The profaning of the Panther legend could make this a very personal villain for T’Challa, but really, we just want to see Panther and Daredevil swing around NYC. A nerd can dream. And in battling the hateful American Panther, that’s just what the Black Panther would be fighting for: the dreams of others.
7. Kraven the Hunter
Yeah, yeah, we known, Ryan Coogler really wanted Kraven in Black Panther, but the idea was nixed because Sony owns the film rights to all the Spidey villains. But ever since Coogler expressed his Kraven love, we just can’t get the idea out T’Challa versus the World’s Greatest Hunter out of our heads. Imagine, a version of The Most Dangerous Game between the Panther and Kraven, a deadly chess match playing out in the Wakandan veldt.
Now that Wakanda is open to the world, Kraven could represent the worst of Anglo-European culture come to the borders of Wakanda to poach, hunt, and kill. Heck man, throw in an appearance of Peter Parker on a Wakandan field trip and Marvel Studios is guaranteed another billion.
Real name Tilda Johnson, Nightshade grew up in poverty in the slums of New York City. Early in her life, Tilda discovered she had an aptitude for the advanced sciences. Fast forward a few years, Tilda used the super weapons she created to take over the rackets of the inner city and became a major underground figure before she was two decades old.
Nightshade kind of sounds like the anti-Shuri, doesn’t she? Shuri uses her skills to help her people, but Nightshade is an immoral street hustler that uses science for her own gain rather than to benefit humankind.
In the comics, Nightshade took on Captain America and the Falcon and she even came up with a formula to transform people in werewolves because comics. But other than the werewolf angle, now that the Black Panther and Wakanda are involved in America’s inner cities, Nightshade and her street science could take on the Wakandan Royal Family in a future Panther film. And really, who doesn’t want to see Nightshade and Shuri science the bejeezus out of each other?
Recently, Nightshade joined the Occupy Avengers team so there’s a built in redemption arch in this hidden gem of a character. And werewolves. Anything that moves us closer to Werewolf by Night in the MCU is okay with us.
5. Sons of the Serpent
Now that Wakanda is revealed to the world, T’Challa will have to face some of the racial issues facing other nations. The Sons of the Serpent is Marvel’s version of the KKK, and now that Panther, Shuri, and company have set up shop in the US, they will have to face groups like the Sons.
When the Sons were introduced back in 1966, it was a subversive, underground hate organization dedicated to eradicating all non-white races. Sadly, in 2018, what was once underground is now mainstream and the Sons of the Serpent could be a perfect foe for Black Panther to take down now that he is involved in world affairs. I know an Inhuman-hunting version of the Sons of the Serpent already appeared on Agents of SHIELD, but it could be a simple matter for that group to expand and change their focus to Wakanda.
Now listen, you don’t just cast Andy Serkis in a role unless somehow, somewhere that character becomes animated. In the comics, the villain known as Klaw is made of solid sound. Yeah, this jungle smuggler/poacher/Vibranium thief/son of a Nazi/scumbag started out very similar to the Klaue from the film, but the pith helmet wearing douche also ends up killed and transformed via Vibranium into a being made of solid sound. We can totally see Black Panther 2 going that route. Movie Klaw already has the badass Kirby arm and everything.
As we know, Klaw’s war with Wakanda is very personal, even more so now that a Wakandan, namely Erik Killmonger, murdered him. So if and when Klaw returns in his glorious pure sound form, things are going to get very loud very quickly. I think we all want to see Serkis don a mo-cap suit and become a Kirby drawing come to life.
3. Baron Zemo
In the MCU, Helmut Zemo killed T’Challa’s father during Captain America: Civil War. Zemo was defeated when T’Challa refused to give into his hunger for vengeance and spared Zemo’s life. T’Challa defeated a villain that manipulated the Avengers by showing mercy and empathy. But this conflict may not be over. Zemo still lives and if he ever escaped, one could imagine his trail of revenge leading to Wakanda.
Yes, Zemo’s vengeance against the Avengers seemed sated when he tore the team apart by revealing that Bucky killed Tony Stark’s parents. But with Bucky in Wakanda, the time just seems perfect for Zemo to show up once again in order to make T’Challa sorry for not ending Zemo’s life when the king had the chance. And we never got to see the film version of Zemo don that iconic hood. The back story and the high personal stakes are there for the next stage of Zemo’s plan in Black Panther 2.
2. White Wolf
The man simply known as Hunter lost his parents in a plane crash in Wakanda. Hunter was taken in by King T’Chaka and Queen N’Yami and the child was raised as their own. Hunter was trained, and when he grew, was made leader of the Hatut Zeraze, the secret police of Wakanda. Hunter was violent and efficient, but when T’Challa took the throne, the new king disbanded the overly brutal Hatut Zeraze. Bitter at T’Challa’s choices and jealous of his adoptive brother’s ascension, Hunter has remained a man who is loyal to Wakanda but wary of its king. Yeah, this smells like a movie to us, too.
The name White Wolf was already given to Bucky in the film, but perhaps there was another White Wolf before Shuri healed Bucky, an angry and wary White Wolf ready to return to protect his suddenly vulnerable nation now that Wakanda has revealed itself.
1. Doctor Doom
Yeah, yeah, Fox owns the rights, blahblah. But if Disney’s lawyers get their legal briefs together and the Disney/Fox merger happens in time, T’Challa could face Marvel’s other great king.
Doctor Doom has long been king of the nation of Latveria, a cruel and proud monarch whose pride is only matched by his hunger for power. Doom is a matter of science and sorcery and will do anything to prove himself superior to any foe. Can you picture what would happen if we got a cinematic war between Wakanda and Latveria? Doombots versus the armies of Wakanda, Doom versus T’Challa in struggle for freedom. Wakanda has never been invaded as it has always hidden from the yoke of European imperialism. But Wakanda has never met Doom, and if the stars align, two of Marvel’s most regal figures could go to war in a future Black Panther installment.
Think about it, with his technology and his Machiavellian like ability to rule and manipulate, Doom is basically T’Challa without all that glorious morality. One gets chills just thinking about it.
Miller & Sienkiewicz's ridiculous miniseries is essential reading for fans of The Defenders or Daredevil on Netflix.
Elektra is arguably comics’ most badass woman, and very likely comics’ first female antihero. But how did she get to that point? She showed up in fewer than 20 total issues across Marvel Comics in the 1980s. How did a character the reading public had seen so little of become an icon, a towering badass in a medium full of them?
It’s because Elektra: Assassin is bananas. No, I take that back. It’s like someone took a bunch of bananas, kept only the peels, filled them with cocaine, shaped the yay into bananas, then found a way to reseal the banana peels.
Elektra: Assassin is the work of Frank Miller, the man who created her in the pages of Daredevilin 1981; his art partner Bill Sienkiewicz, famous at the time for his work on New Mutantsand a talent the industry will never see the likes of again; and lettered by Jim Novak and Gaspar Saladino, who do a competent, industry-standard job for most of the series, but are given the opportunity to cut loose in later issues, and when they do, it looks like a ransom note scribbled in blood by an 8-year-old. That’s not criticism, by the way. It’s perfect.
Ascribing Frank Miller’s current political views to his past work has become something of comics internet’s national pastime lately. You see no end of thinkpieces about how Miller is a reactionary bastard who is on a single-minded quest to turn every comic character he touches into a broken, grunting murderer or place them individually on his own personal Madonna/whore spectrum, and how his earliest work – on Daredevil, The Dark Knight Returnsand of late (because of her impending appearance on Daredevil) now Elektra: Assassin– fits into that continuum. I think this is a mistake. And quite honestly, they’re not entirely without merit: Miller does have tropes he falls into, and he certainly…dropped a lot of pretense when Holy Terror came out – pretense that likely would have prevented any collection of words that have fallen from his mouth or keyboard in the last 15 years from seeing the light of day.
But applying that analysis to Miller’s earliest writing doesn’t work: in large part because I think he was restricted by collaborative work relationships that amounted to a hell of a lot more than “sure Frank, whatever you say if it lets us print money” (Lynn Varley and Klaus Janson were enormously important to the look of his art early on, and as we saw in the intro to Elektra: Assassin, Sienkiewicz had as much to do with the plot and direction of the book as Miller did).
It also completely misses an aspect of Miller that isn’t captured exclusively in what showed up on the printed page. He has always been one of the most vocal advocates for creator rights in the industry: he was there for the earliest meetings about forming a Comics Guild in the ‘70s; fighting for Siegel and Shuster’s rights in the ‘80s; and shredding Marvel for the way they treated their talent in the ‘90s (while publishing Sin City as a creator-owned book at Dark Horse). He was a troublemaker: anti-authority more than authoritarian, as ready to rip down iconic comic characters and tropes and “the old way” of doing things as he was to glorify them.
As a political ideology expressed through his work, mid ‘80s Frank Miller wasn’t a fascist or a reactionary. He was a pyromaniac. And in Sienkiewicz, he found a gleeful accomplice who used his distinctive style – collage, traditional penciling, filling his mouth with paint and screaming at the page (I’m not sure about the last part) – to torch everyone and everything, and to unite their two distinctive sensibilities in a way that I promise you did more for Elektra’s ongoing popularity than the 13 issues of Daredevil that comprised her entire appearance history to that date.
Miller’s Elektra had, prior to Elektra: Assassin, been known more for her death than anything else. She first appeared in Daredevil #168 as an old college girlfriend of Matt’s, the daughter of a Greek diplomat who in the years after his assassination became a deadly mercenary herself. She’s first shown trying to claim a bounty in Hell’s Kitchen, and she proves to be Matt’s equal at punches. At one point, she even takes a contract on Foggy’s life from the Kingpin before she decides she can’t betray Matt like that, and ends up helping him track the Hand through Hell’s Kitchen until finally, when Bullseye runs her through with her own sai, she crawls back to the offices of Nelson & Murdock and dies on Matt’s stoop.
It’s worth noting here that while we still have yet to see Elektra’s evolution into the unstoppable murder machine she would become, these issues are invaluable in tracking Frank Miller’s artistic evolution. It’s a mistake to dismiss her appeal as a character at the time of her death because, while I’m being flip about the content of these stories, you do watch Miller and inker Klaus Janson’s art progress from trying to hew closely to Marvel’s early ‘80s house style in Daredevil #168 to something much closer to the blocky-but-graceful flowing noir that made him one of the greatest ever to work in comics a few years later.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that she’s only around for less than 18 months before Bullseye fridges her with her own sai. And because of a tacit agreement between Miller and his editor at the time, she stayed dead and unused for the next four years (Note: if you want to be really cute about it, she stayed dead until Secret Invasion twenty years later, where it was revealed that the Elektra who showed up after she “died” in Daredevil #180 was a Skrull impersonator. In reality, she only showed up when used by Miller in Daredevil stories until about 1993).
So when she died, Elektra is a trope-bending ass-kicker. There’s been a bit made lately of female anti-heroes, but I think the term “anti-hero” has lost a lot of meaning, and loses even more when people try to talk about women anti-heroes. An anti-hero is the character the audience is meant to root for who does noble things for ignoble reasons, not someone who does horrible things for noble reasons - V or Magneto, for example. Nor are they someone who’s broken but still fundamentally a hero - Starbuck from the Battlestar Galacticareboot and Jessica Jones are often cited. And they’re certainly not guys like Walter White or Dexter - those two are just likable villains.
No, an anti-hero is someone like the Punisher or poorly-written-post-Frank-Miller-Batman or The Man With No Name from the Dollars trilogy - terse, over-the-top badass, unconcerned with the carnage left in their wake as long as they’re content with the job they did. In 1983, Elektra kind of fits that mold, with one big problem: despite the distinctive sais and the fact that she was dressed and moved like a murderous ballerina, she died to motivate Daredevil. Stripped of agency, she has less in common with the Saint of Killers than she does with the Saint’s wife.
It wasn’t until Miller returned to the character in 1986 for an eight-issue limited series that she evolved into the icon we know today. He was joined by Sienkiewicz to create a limited series for Marvel’s Epic line. Distributed directly to comic shops (and thus a harbinger of the doom of the industry), Epic books shipped with no Comics Code approval on them, and were thus freed from its constraints. Miller and Sienkiewicz were free to draw whatever they wanted, and holy shit they did.
Elektra: Assassin is the first appearance of SHIELD Agent John Garrett, who you might remember from not shouting “GAME OVER, MAN, GAME OVER” on Agents of SHIELD It takes place in the years between when Elektra left college and Matt and when they reunited and she was eventually killed, so while it was published in 1986, it was a retcon, rather than a reemergence.
In the book, Elektra discovers a plot by The Beast, the primordial demonic force that allows The Hand (a group of ninja – think AIM or Hydra but Japan) to resurrect themselves and potential allies, to take over America by infecting a Presidential candidate, where he will then launch all of the nuclear weapons ever and destroy the world. She figures that out, deals with SHIELD, fights off a rogue SHIELD cyborg, and beats The Beast on election day, before he can take office.
That’s pretty straightforward, right? That’s because describing the plot isn’t the same thing as experiencing the teeth-gritting insanity of a comic where Elektra psychically possesses more people than she does say words (as far as I can remember, she possesses at least 4 people; not counting narration, she says a total of 3 words out loud); where if you were only paying attention to Garrett’s narration, you’d think the comic was about Magnum P.I. wanting a cigarette very badly; where Elektra blocks a bullet by making a fist and giving it a hard stare; and where the protagonist heads to the climactic battle riding in the sidecar of Garrett’s giant, flame-spitting, penis-shaped train/motorcycle.
Someone (Kieron Gillen, I think) says that when you’re reading a comic, you have to assume that everything in it was a deliberate choice by the creative team, and the introduction to Elektra: Assassin backs that up. Written by Jo Duffy (who is and always shall be incredible, and was an original editor of the project), it details the creative process on the book:
“Frank actually wrote every issue of Elektra: Assassin at least three times. First, after going over his plot ideas with me, he’d turn in a full script, which, after further discussion, he always rewrote. Then, after Bill had finished painting the issue, and the pages were all assembled with whatever color photostats, xeroxes, doilies, staples or sewing thread Bill felt was needed to give them the right look, Frank would do a final draft, taking full advantage of whatever new and unexpected touches Bill had incorporated into the artwork.”
It's the deliberateness that everyone misses when trying to reanalyze what the hell happened in the book. That deliberateness is what took Garrett from an ‘80s stereotype (that mustache, sweet lord it is the ‘80s-est thing that ever existed) to direct criticism of comic book audiences at the time: he spends the entire book maybe-brainwashed by Elektra, bewitched by imagining sex with her.
There’s also criticism that it’s portraying liberals in an unflattering light, which is ridiculous, since it isn’t portraying anyone anywhere in the book in a flattering light: the man Ken Wind, the liberal presidential candidate who’s a stand in for the Hand’s Beast, is running against is a small, chattering, shriveled Richard Nixon, itching to “push the button” to “show them,” or where the Soviet spokesman denying the attack on the President of San Concepcion is named Vladimir Jakkoff. Also, I might still accept that it’s mean-spirited criticism of the Left if it wasn’t Bill Sienkiewicz’s own photograph used for Wind’s head through the entire story.
SHIELD is beset with incompetence and male insecurity - Nick Fury telling Garrett he doesn’t like him while he fires his giant gun that Dirk Anger and H.A.T.E. failed to replicate certainly doesn’t betray any concerns about his job performance, but meanwhile he’s got an entire rogue cyborg division operating under his nose that he doesn’t know about. Meanwhile, even within that rogue cyborg division, Miller and Sienkiewicz are mocking bureaucratic rigidity: Dr. Beaker, the head of ExTechOps, at one point sits on top of a speaker that amplifies him yelling at Garrett, while the monitors tell Garrett what an “inept yoyo” he is.
The copious use of anti-gay slurs is definitely offensive, and likely was at the time, but I don’t think the parody aspect can be dismissed out of hand – it does feel like the slurs, like the fact that everyone gets turned evil by drinking the Beast’s satanic mayonnaise or the fact that there are so many giant violent phalli in the book, are over the top jokes about toxic, ‘80s action hero masculinity, especially in light of the fact that the hero of the story maintains a taciturn femininity throughout the story, that because of her skill and knowledge and moral compass, she is the only one making a conscious effort to prevent the end of the world.
And even still, Miller and Sienkiewicz juxtapose Elektra with SHIELD agent Chastity McBride, a woman constantly telling her colleagues to tone their language down and heads to the final battle of the series undercover as a nun. She’s treated as a bit of a scold and a counterpoint to the over the top sexuality that is foisted on Elektra throughout, but she also happens to be the second most competent person in the book, figuring out early on that Garrett was being mind controlled and surviving two attacks by Perry, the evil cyborg.
The point of this isn’t to try and redeem present-day Frank Miller or throw shade at folks writing about their own experiences with his work. The point is that I think in the ongoing project to reframe Miller’s comics against how he’s chosen to present himself in the last 15 years, we run the risk of losing touch with what made some of that work unbelievably influential: I do think, though, that Elektra: Assassin is a seminal comic book, crucial to understanding Elektra’s place in culture, to understanding her enduring appeal and why people are so excited about her showing up on TV. At the very least, the book is good for a couple of maniacal giggles after seeing the creators make fun of everyone and everything in its pages.
Big Little Lies’ David E. Kelley and Nicole Kidman will reunite for a limited series adaptation The Undoing.
The team from Big Little Lies will reunite to tell a story about the lies people tell themselves. Nicole Kidman will star in HBO’s The Undoing, a new limited series that will be written by David E. Kelley, and executive produced by Bruna Papandrea, according to Variety.
“David has created another propulsive series with a fascinating, complicated female role at its center,” Kidman said in a statement via Variety. “I’m excited and honored to continue collaborating with HBO and David E. Kelley.”
The producers are currently searching for a director.
“We’re thrilled to continue our creative relationships with both Nicole and David and can’t wait to bring this show to life," HBO programming president Casey Bloys said in a statement.
The Undoing is a psychological thriller based on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s 2014 bestselling book You Should Have Known, which was published by Grand Central Publishing.
“I loved this book. A character-driven psychological thriller, I’m excited about the adaptation and thrilled to be able to do it with Nicole and HBO," Kelley said in a statement.
Kidman will star as Grace Sachs, an Upper East Side therapist who is weeks away from publishing her first book, called “You Should Have Known.” It is a self-help book that scolds women who lie to themselves about their husbands’ behavior. Sachs’ young son attends an elite private school in New York City. Her world is upended by the gruesome death of a fellow mother, and her husband’s disappearance.
The series will be executive produced by Papandrea, under her Made Up Stories banner, and Kidman under the Blossom Films banner, with the company's Per Saari. Blossom is currently developing an adaptation of the books The Silent Wife, Reconstructing Amelia, Janice Lee’s best-seller The Expatriates, and the off-Broadway vampire play Cuddles.
The Undoing comes shortly after Hulu announced it is going straight-to-series with Little Fires Everywhere, which will star Reese Witherspoon. Kidman's Blossom Films is also teaming with Witherspoon and Papandrea to adapt Big Little Lies author Laine Moriarty's new novel Truly Madly Guilty into a limited series.
Kidman won an Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award for her role as Celeste Wright on Big Little Lies.
Fire up your Kindles! You can get hundreds of Marvel graphic novels for a buck at Amazon for a limited time!
This is a pleasant surprise. Amazon has marked down hundreds, and we mean HUNDREDS of assorted Marvel collections and graphic novels to less than a buck for their digital editions. For .99 a pop you can catch up on everything Avengers, Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Spider-Man. Oh, and did we mention that Marvel also publishes all the Star Wars comics now, too? So if you need your fix for now, then this is the way to get it.
We have no idea how long this sale is going to last, so it's best not to think too hard about it right now. Just run over to Amazon and fill your cart with Marvel graphic novels for a buck while you can. Please use the link, and you'll help support Den of Geek, too.
Need some suggestions? We have a bunch of different reading guides for you, too! Wondering where to start with Black Panther? Star Wars comics? Doctor Strange? Your old pal Deadpool? Those links have the suggestions you crave.
Or find your own! Take advantage of that crazy Marvel sale while you can!
The biggest Power Rangers team-up ever draws in Rangers from many different seasons.
The Power Rangers comic is about to unleash a huge event with Power Rangers: Shattered Grid (running through Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Go Go Power Rangers) and thanks to IGN we know what seasons some of the Rangers will be drawn from.
Dino Super Charge, RPM, Time Force, Ninja Steel and Dino Thunder.
Below you can see an upcoming cover which features not only RPM but also SPD in civilian outfits!
The comics event will also feature a brand new Megazord made up of parts from the season two Zords. Check that Tor head!
The new trailer for the event, which features Jason David Frank voicing the character of Lord Drakkon, also teases the inclusion of the Lightspeed Rescue team as well.
The full line-up for the event is below, which will run through both the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Go Go Power Rangers comics.
We've also got some preview images of the event that feature the Time Force Rangers!
In May 2018 BOOM! Studios and Saban Brands will also unleash a free comic that ties into the ongoing event. See below for the press release and we'll explain just why it's a big deal.
BOOM! Studios and Saban Brands announce the MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS 2018 FREE COMIC BOOK DAY SPECIAL. Arriving in comic shops worldwide on Free Comic Book Day (May 5th, 2018), this FREE comic is a tie-in to the hotly anticipated POWER RANGERS: SHATTERED GRID comic book event and features the story of how Zordon turns to the Morphin Masters for help in the Power Rangers’ darkest hour as the Rangers battle Lord Drakkon—an evil version of Tommy, the Green Ranger, from an alternate reality. The issue will be written by Kyle Higgins (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) and Ryan Parrott (Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers) and illustrated by Diego Galindo (Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Dog Men).
Morphin Masters? Okay, if you aren't the most hardcore of Power Rangers fans you might not recall what the hell the Morphin Masters are. Basically, there was an early MMPR episode where Zordon casually name dropped the Morphin Masters in relation to the Power Eggs in the episode "Big Sisters". The kind of throwaway line MMPR was known for but for years fans have speculated what the hell the Morphin Masters were. Well knowing how insane the Power Rangers comics can get with continuity we're excited to see their take on it.
Check out the cover of the comic (which sadly doesn't feature any Morphin Masters.)
Shamus Kelley can not get over the inclusion of the Morphin Masters! Follow him on Twitter!
Ben Grimm (The Thing), Johnny Storm (Human Torch), and friends are getting a new look as the Fantastic Four slowly returns to Marvel.
If you're not reading Marvel Two-In-One by Chip Zdarsky, Jim Cheung, Valerio Schiti, and Frank Martin right now, I don't know what to tell you. You're missing out on what might just be the most fun pure superhero book Marvel has right now. It has been the perfect match of writing and art, with Zdarsky's rapid-fire wit melding perfectly with the big, classic FF style storytelling of artists Jim Cheung and Valerio Schiti. Fans who feel (rightfully) that the Fantastic Four have been kinda mistreated by Marvel the last few years would do well to pay attention here, because "The Fate of the Four" story is setting the tone for how they will return to the Marvel Universe in all the right ways.
The story has centered on Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm's quest to get the band back together while Reed Richards, Sue Storm, and Franklin and Valeria Richards are missing after the events of Secret War. Seriously, it has been a loooong time since Marvel has had a Fantastic Four book on the market, and this has all of the elements you want...even if they're still short a couple of members. Oh yeah, and we've got a cool new super scientist in the form of Rachna Koul helping the fellas out and plenty of Doctor Doom lurking around, too.
So while they continue to tease us with what the actual "fate of the four" is going to be, we at least have an indication of what the new look is going to be. Check out these sharp new costumes designed by Valerio Schiti!
These are awesome, and certainly the sharpest the team has looked in years. Not that it's happening any time soon, but it's easy to imagine this look being adapted for the movies when the Fantastic Four finally join the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Artist Valerio Schiti unveiled a more detailed look at the costumes, too...
Just as one final reminder, Chip Zdarsky is currently writing two of the best, funniest superhero comics on the market right now with both Marvel Two-In-One and The Spectacular Spider-Man. He really gets Spidey, as this panel from the latest Marvel Two-In-One proves...
Marvel Two-In-One #4, which debuts the new look, is on sale now.
The Walking Dead’s newest story arc, “New World Order,” features more bureaucracy than bat-wielding villainy.
The many eras of Robert Kirkman’s sprawling opus, The Walking Dead, have always been defined by two things: their antagonists and their settings. For over 175 issues, every time the story has moved onto a new major arc or era, that change has been accompanied by a new villain, a new setting, or both.
The story starts in rural Georgia with the closest analog to a villain being Rick’s best friend, Shane (issues 1 - 12). Then Rick’s crew moves on to a prison, where they are attacked and victimized by the overtly evil Brian Blake (a.k.a. The Governor) and his town of Woodbury (issues 13 - 48). The gang then hits the road for a bit and encounters minor villains like “The Hunters” before settling in the Alexandria Safe-Zone.
Here Rick and company find themselves in conflict with Negan and The Saviors (issues 98 - 126). After the Saviors are defeated in a bloody war, Alpha and the Whisperers show up to give Rick and company the creeps (issues 132 - 168).
The villains of The Walking Dead always represent the biggest sea changes for the comic. Settings change, of course, but the real setting arguably has always been the same zombie-strewn landscape. The undead represent the true setting of the story. The villains are more dynamic and represent what each arc wants to communicate, whether that be the existence of terrifyingly organized evil (Brian Blake), charismatic fascism as a response to a dangerous world (Negan), or just humankind reverting to a bestial nature (the Whisperers).
Now, as the comic marks two major milestones with issue #175 and “Volume” 30, The Walking Dead is getting experimental with its villains once again to reveal a deeper truth about the dark heart of man. Only this time around, the villains are barely villains at all.
The Commonwealth is a community in Ohio discovered by Eugene Porter via his repaired CB radio. The Commonwealth is a thriving community of 50,000 survivors. To longtime readers or watchers of The Walking Dead, that number may have initially seemed like a misprint. All we’ve known so far are communities numbering in the dozens, and in rare cases, just over hundreds. But the Commonwealth is comparatively MASSIVE.
The community has a sophisticated power structure, a bustling Main Street, and even a stadium for when baseball season rolls around. This isn’t just a community. It’s a city, and maybe even the first ever city since the dead began to walk around.
Kirkman has famously never put an end date on the story he is telling in The Walking Dead. He’s previously been quoted as hoping the series lasts “around” 300 issues. Before he was dedicated to telling a nearly endless story, however, Kirkman gave serious consideration to ending the series once the characters arrived at Alexandria. It would have been a logical enough stopping point. The characters had found refuge and relative safety, and it’s easy for the reader to imagine a healthy society rising up around the example of Alexandria.
Similarly, Eugene, Michonne, Yumiko, Magna, Siddiq, and Juanita’s arrival at the Commonwealth seems like another potential stopping point. The characters (or six of them at least) have now found something none of us ever dreamed they would: society. The unspoken goal of The Walking Dead has always been to survive long enough to restart that crazy little human experiment called society that we enjoyed for so long. Now Eugene and company have survived long enough to discover exactly that. Once human beings are playing baseball again, what else is there to do?
Why does Kirkman bother continuing? Because, in The Commonwealth and the power structure that accompanies it, he will be able to create a new kind of villain, which is really an old kind of villain: the bureaucrat.
The Commonwealth has existed for only three issues of the series so far (175-177), but in those three issues, it is already clear the kind of conflict that Kirkman is setting up. The conflict is not likely to be a military one like that of the “All Out War” volumes. If that were the case, The Commonwealth would almost certainly crush Alexandria, The Kingdom, and Hilltop with its tens of thousands of citizens. Instead, this will be a conflict of values. What happens when those accustomed to pure, borderline anarchic freedom brush up against the world from before it all - the world with rules, bureaucracy, and inequality?
When Eugene, Michonne, Juanita, Magna, Yumiko, and Siddiq first encounter The Commonwealth, they are astonished by the order of it all. They are confronted by dozens of armed soldiers - all wearing the same armor and wielding the same weapons. This level of order and uniformity is worlds away from the kind of conflicts Eugene’s crew is used to fighting.
Then when the “soldiers” take the group inside The Commonwealth to be processed, once again we’re presented with the carefully constructed bureaucracy the new society has established. The first named character we’re introduced to is Lance Hornsby, the Commonwealth’s “bookkeeper.” Hornsby is worlds away from the kind of antagonist we’re used to seeing in the Walking Dead universe. Where Negan introduces himself with a barbed wire-adorned baseball bat, Hornsby instead wields a pen and a notebook.
Hornsby is responsible for their intake. He is to collect information regarding their names, weapons, place of origin, and any unusual customs their group practices. Once Lance has had his turn questioning the new group, they’re moved along to the Governor’s mansion for more questioning. Here they encounter Maxwell Hawkins and the true nature of this new society becomes a little clearer.
While Hornsby was concerned with questions that determine whether Eugene’s group presents an immediate threat, Hawkins is more interested in what kind of value this new group can provide in the long run.
“And what was your profession? Before the fall, I mean,” Hawkins asks Eugene.
“What? Um...I was a high school science teacher,” he replies.
“That simply won’t do,” Hawkins says.
Hawkins has just met Eugene. He doesn’t know that he may very well be talking to one of the most intelligent and resourceful people in the world. All he hears is what Eugene used to do for a living and what that reveals about his class and education, and he dismisses him outright.
Michonne, however, reveals that she was a lawyer in the old world.
“Public defender?” Hawkins asks with a clear racist undertone.
“Private practice. I had just made partner.”
So Michonne is ushered into another room to meet “The Governor.” This governor, however, is vastly different from “The Governor” we’re accustomed to. The title “Governor” always felt like a bit of an ironic inside joke as applied to the original villain. Brian Blake was a true sociopath, and so much about his appearance gave him away: wild, unkempt hair, “don’t-trust-me” mustache, and later on a freaking eyepatch. This new governor, however, looks like…a governor.
Pamela Milton is a sharp-looking middle-aged woman who wouldn’t seem out of place as a talking head on CNN. Her hair is clean, her makeup game is on point, and her jawline is strong. She exudes confidence and control. When Michonne is brought in to meet her, Milton knows that she is talking to a fancy lawyer - someone high class - so she immediately shares The Commonwealth’s M.O., in a thorough, yet succinct way.
“I’ll start by explaining who we are,” she says. “The Commonwealth is the shining beacon on the hill. It’s what rose from the ashes of our world and brought order to the chaos. We’re fifty thousand people strong, and bringing more people in all the time. We’re what you’ve been dreaming of - what you hoped still existed. Simply put - we’re civilization, it’s back. You’re welcome.”
Now, bringing “order to the chaos” is straight out of the “bad guy speech playbook.” It’s ominous and immediately begs the question, “How does one maintain that order? And will I like the methods?” The Walking Dead offers us some not-so-subtle clues that we likely won’t. Hornsby threatens Eugene’s contact, Stephanie, with a grim-sounding “work re-assignment” for the crime of…playing with a radio. Later, in issue 177, we are introduced to Milton’s brat son, Sebastian, and it’s clear that the rules don’t always apply to the “elite” of the Commonwealth.
Still, that last part of Milton’s speech is undeniably powerful. “Civilization. It’s back.” Isn’t that what our survivors have been looking for this entire time? Isn’t that what this has all been about? The Walking Dead is never going to introduce time travel as a plot device (*knock on wood*). Things are never going to go back to the way they were before Rick Grimes entered that coma. But this seems close enough, doesn’t it?
This is society. Each character we’re introduced to has a surname. Out in the “wild,” a surname isn’t necessary. Michonne, Negan, Andrea, Heath, Ezekiel Dwight, and more - there’s no need to exchange last names when you’re out in the shit and at risk of dying at any moment.
That’s what’s so enticing about The Commonwealth as villains. They present everything we assume we ever wanted for these characters. But from the look of things so far, we may have been wrong to want that. The Commonwealth is the old world, with its electricity, full stomachs, sense of security, and yes - even baseball. But in striving to recapture that old world, we and the characters, themselves forgot all the things that made that world suck: inequality, bigotry, unfair social structures, and yes - even baseball.
The Commonwealth represents order. It also represents bureaucracy and ultimately it represents us. The characters of The Walking Dead have been through hell. They deserve to rebuild society. But they deserve to rebuild it with all the brutal lessons they’ve learned from the old world. Kirkman, in presenting these new bureaucratic enemies, might have revealed that we never wanted our characters to find the old world. We wanted them to find a new one.